UNITED WORLD REBELLION: CHAPTER 1
Let's just be honest here. Skid Row has done themselves no favors since Johnny Solinger took over as the lead vocalist. They have put out two really subpar albums; subpar at least to those of us that were fans of their great past. I'm more giving than most, and even with that, I found both REVOLUTIONS PER MINUTE and THICKSKIN to be pretty much unlistenable (even though both did have a couple of tolerable moments). It's a shame too, because the band clearly can do some good things with Solinger, who doesn't sound like their old singer Sebastian Bach, but has enough of a "real rock" sound to fit well with their music (both the past stuff, and what they can do moving forward). If nothing else, listening to UNITED WORLD REBELLION: CHAPTER 1 seems to tell a story that the band finally understands what they need to be doing. By far, this is the best thing Skid Row has done since SUBHUMAN RACE.
30 YEARS: LIVE FROM THE SUNSET STRIP
There's a very awkward moment on 30 YEARS: LIVE FROM THE SUNSET STRIP wherein current vocalist Terry Ilous claims the night as a special night as the band has been together for 30 years. Sorry guys, I know the band has been around for all this time, but it REALLY is hard to accept Great White without Jack Russell at the helm. I really want to. Mark Kendall has been a friend for years, as has new vocalist Terry Ilous. But, being honest, their studio album without vocalist Jack Russell was very much outside the feeling one expects from a Great White album. That's not to say it was terrible, but there was a flair missing that just can't be replaced in the framework of what I consider to be Great White. Being honest, coming into this live release, I kind of had my doubts. Thankfully, the band captured a good performance. While it still doesn't have the bluesy flair that Jack Russell brought to the band, 30 YEARS: LIVE FROM THE SUNSET STRIP is a solid representation of what the band is today.
Six Feet Under
It's not at all hard to continue on the death metal journey that's known as Six Feet Under. Regardless of the band being fronted by the most significant growler this genre has ever seen, the band always delivers solid doses of high end heavy metal that, unlike most death metal, doesn't rely on hyperspeed to mask shoddy playing. To the contrary, I might call Six Feet Under the very original, true metalcore band in the sense that they brought a touch of melody to the sound and then mixed vocal brutality to that from day one. These days, damn near every single one of the new age metal bands does that, but back when Six Feet Under debuted, they were fairly unique upon themselves for doing just that. Certainly, the members of the band have changed along the way, but UNBORN simply continues the heritage Chris Barnes started with this band. In short, UNBORN is pretty much what we've all come to expect from Six Feet Under.
THE LIVING INFINITE
To be perfectly honest, I REALLY thought that Soilwork was dead and buried. Sure, I knew they were still a band and were still making music, but their last couple of releases were some of the biggest disappointments of a band that I truly love that I can think of. I couldn't have hated STABBING THE DRAMA or SWORN TO A GREAT DIVIDE more if they were hand delivered to me by a pedophile that had just finished raping my children. When you consider what masterpieces A PREDATOR'S PORTRAIT and NATURAL BORN CHAOS were from this band, and then hearing them reach aimlessly for commercial success by changing their sound, it was very disheartening in very much the same way that a band like In Flames let so many down with their transition to a soft modern metal act. Thankfully though, Soilwork has come storming back. While it's not quite a full return, THE LIVING INFINITE is by far the best release from this band in a decade.
BLACK OUT THE SUN
In 2013, there are not many bands where I actually get excited to hear they have a new release coming out. For a lot of reasons, the whole specter of a new release just doesn't get me anticipating things like it used to. In large part, it's because I get everything sent to me months in advance that takes away from the real excitement of a release. For a few bands though, I literally can't wait each and every time for new music. Sevendust is one such band. Without question, they are my favorite band of the modern era; a band criminally underappreciated when you consider that lesser bands like Disturbed and Korn surpassed them greatly in popularity throughout their respective runs. I'm so much of a fan that I'm traveling twice in a month to see them - once in Fort Wayne, Indiana and then a few weeks later in Columbus, Ohio. So, when BLACK OUT THE SUN was provided, you can bet your ass that it hit my iPod and stayed there for weeks.
I'm not sure how a band with as much talent and as many reasons to like them has turned out to be so incredibly uninteresting, but that's exactly what Adrenaline Mob has become to me. I am one of the biggest fans there is of vocalist Russell Allen. Love his work in Symphony X. Love what he's done with Jorn Lande. Hell, I was probably the biggest fan going of his ATOMIC SOUL solo album. While I'm not a fan of drummer Mike Portnoy's previous band Dream Theater, I have nothing but respect of this guy's undeniable talent as one of the most elite drummers on the planet. Yet, try as I might, I cannot get into Adrenaline Mob at all. Their debut release was pretty average and unmemorable. They quickly followed that up with a covers album - bleh. Covers releases are as useless as tits on a chick I can't have or see because she's dating a close friend.
Hammerfist are a no bullshit Hardcore band from Southern California. They are not the kind of guys that will look to explain out the deeper meaning of their songs, or the instrumental idiosyncrasies of their various guitar tones or drum beats. To the contrary, Hammerfist seem like a band that would look you in the eye and say, "here's our shit, so deal with it!" Fair enough. Since I assume this about them, I'll give a little of that back to them. No BSing around here, and no looking for a lot of words to say. ISOLATION is a pretty damn solid hardcore EP that would certainly please the Agnostic Fronts and Integritys of the world for developing their influences into something tangible in 2013. There's a LOT of power here on ISOLATION, and a lot of from the heart energy that's poured into each and every song.
Kyler is a band that I really know NOTHING about. By nothing, I mean that I can find almost nothing at all about them online, so even a quick run through Google didn't help to figure out just what makes this band tick. So, in many ways, this review has to be old school and based solely on old school habits. In short, this band HAS to be reviewed solely based on what I hear in my ears. Fair enough!
Kyler's SWAGGER is a band that reminds me of a lot of great influences from other bands that I enjoy a great deal. Throughout any given song, influences of bands like Pantera and Lamb Of God come screaming through. At other times, you feel a kinship with modern bands like Texas Hippie Coalition. SWAGGER is full of giant guitars, monsterous riffs, gutteral vocals that are clean enough to understand, and a hodge podge of traditional thrash and metalcore stylings that just plain works.