Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Platinum Rock Vol.2

Another year another Platinum Rock CD shamelessly plugged by the Rock FM, when the first Platinum Rock double CD pack came out last year I was actually pleasantly surprised with the fact that it had some fairly decent music for a commercial best of album…but for this one I’m not so sure. It could be the fact that in the early 2000s, the period this album is based in, rock music for me slipped further down the crap-laden path to obscurity that I do not exactly rate this best of as highly as its predecessor does.

The track list for both CDs is laden with songs that you would have undoubtedly heard on the radio back in the day with tastes of everything from nu-metal (Linkin Park, P.O.D.) to classic kiwi anthems such as the Datsuns’ ‘Stuck Here For Days’, Blindspott’s ballad ‘Phlex’ and Steriogram’s monster hit ‘Walkie Talkie Man’. Though of course since the track list is dictated by commercial hits there are a number of songs which I can’t stand listening to like the Darkness’ ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’ and Hoobastank’s ‘The Reason’.

However, this compilation is actually surprisingly and I am sure unintentionally, well timed in that two iconic kiwi bands featured are reforming: Head Like a Hole and the mighty Weta – at least for a few shows anyway.

All up, I would only recommend getting this album if you want to have a crash course in rock music from the beginning of the decade. Alternatively, if you have been living under a rock for the past eight years and want to know what rock music sounds like then this may be just what your caveman ass is looking for.

2.5 stars

Monday, September 22, 2008

Top 5 Albums 0f 2008

'Death Magnetic’ – Metallica
It has been a very long time since these old monsters of metal released anything that blew me away but Metallica have proved that even in their 40s they can still kick Pete Wentz’s ass. ‘Death Magnetic’ has done away with the awful sound of St Anger and has Metallica returning to their old thrash roots which made them so damn good in the first place, whether it’s the blistering opener ‘That Was Just Your Life’, the monster single ‘The Day That Never Comes’ or the instrumental ‘Suicide & Redemption’. I was worried about this album being crap but my fears have been done away with. Welcome back Metallica.

‘Food’ – Zico Chain
My favourite band of 2008 and probably my album of the year too seeing as how much I’ve listened to it, Zico Chain completely blew me away with their intense breed of rock’n’roll that the music industry has really been lacking recently. ‘Food’ is their first album after two EP’s and I am personally shocked that it has received next to no attention here, the album rocks out with its cock out it’s just not funny. Front man Chris Glithero’s screeching vocals keeps the balls out music that is Zico going a million miles an hour and refuses to relent. Listen to these dirty English boys; they are going to be fucking big!

‘A Perfect Place’ – Mike Patton
Mike Patton, formerly of Faith No More, is a musical genius that refuses to stop creating his quirky brand of music that has seen him be in everything from Dillinger Escape Plan to providing vocal duties for monsters for movies and video games. Earlier this year I spotted his name on a movie soundtrack, it turns out he wrote and performed everything for the soundtrack of ‘A Perfect Place’, an equally quirky short film. Every note written for the music captures his weird musical nature, whether it’s the opera styled ‘Il Cupo Dolore’, the uppity ‘A Perfect Twist (Vocal)’ or even the Car Radio sketches. This album is seriously strange…but so damn cool.

‘Forth’ – The Verve
Ten years after their hiatus, English alt. rockers The Verve made their return this year with an oddly beautiful album that has become a surprising favourite of the year. Throughout the album the bass keeps humming and the psychedelic guitars keeps your mind in a relaxed mode of address even when the monster ‘Noise Epic’ comes to its intense close.

‘Inflikted’ – Cavalera Conspiracy
Before this year I was afraid that I would never hear any decent new music from Max Cavalera, one of my favourite metal musicians of all time, but in re-teaming up with his brother Igor my confidence in metal has been reborn. Straight from the get-go, this album batters the eardrums with the same heavy intensity that the Cavalera brothers made famous in their Sepultura days and does not stop until you are broken and bruised in the corner crying for more.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

'Pedal To The Metal' - Blessed By A Broken Heart

Century Media

The genre of glam has had its day and has since demised, but recently there have been a few reprises in the music industry concerning it: Motley Crue released a new album, Poison still continues to tour and now Blessed By a Broken Heart have burst out of Canadia with their latest offering Pedal To the Metal. However Blessed are not just a glam band, they are the result of Glam on speed and having dirty groupie sex with Dragonforce.

The result of this combination will delight some metal heads but will also leave some with a slightly bitter taste in the mouths of others, I have to say that I am currently situated towards the latter’s camp. The album is by all means impressive musically with guitarist Shred Sean doing what he does best with some stellar solos and unrelenting drumming by Frank ‘Da Bird’ – yep those are their stage names – led by the vocals Tony Gambino. However, the album suffers from what I see as an immature metal undertone, which is the exact reason I cannot listen to Dragonforce.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a great album with token glam synth-heavy songs ‘Move Your Body’ and ‘To Be Young’, but it’s when the two worlds combine that things start to sound weird – maybe it’s the combination of 80s electric drums with growls, or maybe it’s Tony Gambino’s at times cheesy vocals. ‘Doing It’ especially gets on my nerves with the Ian Slater’s keys coupled with Gambino trying to give the song some balls and then launching into an unimaginative bridge “This is how we do it/This is how we do”…really? However, I guess that this album is not all bad; ‘Don’t Stop’ starts promising with a nice melody but then for some silly reason breaks down into an attempt at being heavy in the chorus and the bridge.

I guess my main beef with this album is the overall immature sound of glam metal and my despise for seedy vocals of hardcore. Like I said before fans of Dragonforce and probably hardcore may enjoy this album more than I have.

2 stars

'Beatiful Future' - Primal Scream

B-Unique Records

I believe it was the comedian Bill Hicks who said something along the lines of real bands who know how to rock are the ones that take drugs, have loads of sex on tour buses and generally do things that conservative folks would want to shelter poor Jimmy Johnson from. At one point in time, Primal Scream was one of those bands, but for their ninth album, the lads of Primal Scream decided to have a go at sobriety.

I would love to compare it to past albums to really get an idea of how much they have changed over the years but unfortunately, I had never really heard much of Primal Scream until I picked up this record.

The album contains a good collection of bass heavy electro-pop rock, which coupled with front man Bobby Gillespie’s slurred vocals produces some good ol’ toe-tapping goodness. There are a few cool sounding songs on the album including the synth-heavy ‘Suicide Bomb’ as well as the happy go lucky charm of the opener ‘Beautiful Future’ and the odd charm of ‘Zombie Man’.

The final three songs of the album attempt to mix things up a bit by inviting some guests to collaborate – Lovefoxxx, Linda Thompson and Josh Homme respectively – but this really doesn’t add a lot of diversity to an album that should only really be listened to at the end of a Saturday night. Though in saying that ‘Over and Over’ with Linda Thompson is a sweet duet that slows the album down nicely.

However, the album at times sounds a bit samey throughout despite its attempts at diversity and lacks an edge that makes it stand out among this year’s releases. Perhaps the lesson here is that maybe stopping while you are ahead of the game and on your drug trip may be a good idea.

3 stars

Thursday, September 11, 2008

‘Forth’ – The Verve

EMI records

It’s been quite a while since the world has heard anything from the Verve, about ten years has passed in fact since their last offering, Urban Hymns, which gave us their infamous ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ and ‘Lucky Man’. But nine years after their split and last year’s reformation we are given a new record from one of England’s most influential nineties rock acts. To give you an idea about the popularity of these boys, in Britain when they announced their reformation and tour last year tickets sold out in twenty minutes prompting them to announce a larger second tour soon after.

The opening track ‘Sit and Wonder’ establishes the feel for the entire record with a strangely beautiful mix of psychedelic guitars, heavy humming bass and more than competent drumming. The first single ‘Love Is Noise’ is one of the few upbeat (if you could call it that) songs on the album resulting in a welcome change from the somewhat depressing drabness that can plague British alternative rock for some listeners. There are a great range of songs on this record ranging from the lovey-dovey ‘Judas’ and ‘Valium Skies’ to the end of the night feeling ‘Numbness’ and ‘Columbo’. A definite stand out of this album has got to be the aptly titled ‘Noise Epic’, clocking in at over eight minutes and combining everything from monologue to an intense closing bridge this has probably got to be my favourite song of the record because it shows refreshing diversity that I haven’t seen in a band for a while.

All up this is a great return to form by The Verve, showing that whatever internal conflicts the band suffered from they have gotten over and are back on top of their game. Here’s hoping they can keep it up for another album or even come down to New Zealand (please!).

4 stars

Religimon: Gotta convert em all!

With so many faiths vying for your attention in this modern world it really can get a little bit daunting, every faith has differing strengths, weaknesses and specialties, just like pokemon funnily enough. So in a mood reminiscent of my younger days ogling at trading cards at the Armagedden Expo I feel that religion needs the pokemon treatment and have thus created a Religidex, an encyclopedia of Religimon available to all young trainers by the Religimon Institute. Here are just a few entries:

Out of all the religimon available to trainers Islamachu has gained notoriety for what has been deemed by its critics as a ‘savage’ and ‘primitive’ attacking style, however professors at the Religimon Institute argue that as a religimon derived from a much more temperate climate in the East its fighting style is only natural. Commonly found in hot sandy areas, the males’ duty under the Islamachu’s Sharia law is to venture out to collect sustenance and socialise leaving their female partners shrouded in caves to look after their young, therefore making the female of the species a rare find. When hunting this religimon it is important for trainers to be aware of its surprise attacks in sand dune areas often initiated by roadside explosives normally laced with rocks and other assorted objects, following this the Islamachu commonly utilises sharp stone objects fashioned into knives to cut the enemy as well as spitting acidic gastric juices into the eyes of the opponent in order to blind them. It is also worthy to note that when very low on health an Islamachu may resort to its special attack, dukka-dukka-Muhammed-el-Jihad, which consists the Islamachu stabbing itself in order to taint its knife with its gastric juices and wildly stabbing the enemy until it runs out of energy. Some trainers question the effectiveness of this special attack however as the Islamachu rarely survives the attack, earning it the nickname of the Suicide Slasher.

Traditionally a favourite among many trainers in Western societies its general versatility in most battle situations this flying religimon has proved to be popular. However as it gains experience it is essential for younger male trainers to be wary of its tendency to disobey orders, and at times even violate, sexually, several codes of religimon-trainer codes of conduct. This can be solved conveniently with exposure to the Luther-stone which will give the religimon a chance to evolve to its more powerful and Pure form named Jesuitidor. Christindon are renowned for their physical reliability in battle situations wielding a large crucifix that has a 20% chance of inflicting leprecy on the opponent, damaging them over time. A Christindon’s special attack is unique in that it does not physically harm the opponent, rather it mentally castrates. The special attack, Born-Again Rhetoric, consists of the Christindon puffing itself up to a larger size and loudly proclaiming the love of Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost, this can result in either the opponent falling asleep or, more commonly, fleeing the battle altogether in frustration.

Caution and patience is advised for this religimon as in its early stages it is fairly weak, however as it gains experience – with the combination of monetary encouragement – the Jewdachop grows into a very powerful, yet physically small, force. Exact locations as to where to capture a Jewdachop are constantly updated as this species of religimon is often bullied by others, subsequently forcing it to evacuate its habitat and search for a new dwelling. It is rumoured that there is a colony of Jewdachops fiercely guarding large quantities of golden Jewdrops – the Jewdachop’s form of currency and a delicacy to many trainers. In combat this species of religimon is largely stationary and thus takes a fair amount of damage, this is balanced out however with scratching and biting of the opponent and its special attack: the notorious excrement cannon. The excrement cannon is a powerful attack developed by Jewdachops as they gain experience resulting in the resurfacing of memories of being shat on for their lives in the wild by other religimon. This attack is among the more powerful religimon special attacks recorded, in fact during the 1947 religimon games in Paraguay a Jewdachop famously let one loose on an Islamachu obliterating it and knocking the rival trainer unconscious from the stench, ever since then it has been every Jewdachop trainer’s dream to achieve this mighty feat.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

'Scars on Broadway' - Scars on Broadway

In 2003 following the Mezmerize and Hypnotize albums System of a Down announced their hiatus resulting fans, like myself, dacking themselves in fear of a world without the System. However soon after front man Serj Tankian released his own CD leaving fans anxiously in wait for guitarist Daron Malakian’s own project that he was surely to head after penning much of the aforementioned albums. Finally the wait is over with Malakian and System drummer John Dolmayan’s new band Scars on Broadway.

This self-titled debut is token Malakian in every conceivable way with many songs feeling like lost siblings of Mezmerize and Hypnotize, not surprising seeing as Malakian himself claiming that he could have released ten albums with the amount of songs that he wrote during that period. As you may have already guessed I can’t help but compare Scars to System because the resemblance between the songs is uncanny, I constantly expect to hear Serj’s voice soar over and above creating that great epic feeling that System’s music contained. It’s unfortunate that this feeling remains for Scars because it really is a great album with songs like ‘Stoner-Hate’ and the blasting opener ‘Serious’ truly setting the bar for other rock records of the year. Stand out songs have got to include the dramatic ‘Kill Each Other / Live Forever’ and ‘Chemicals’ as well as the first single ‘They Say’ and my personal favourite ‘Cute Machines’. Scars isn’t all just crazy rock’n’roll though, there are some songs that are very reminiscent of System’s ‘Lonely Day’ (another Malakian song funnily enough), ‘Whoring Streets’ and ‘Insane’. However there are a few repetitive songs that get on my nerves after a while – ‘Enemy’ and ‘World Long Gone’ I’m looking at you.

All up Scars’ debut effort is well worth the full retail price of a new album with an impressive fifteen songs making this a must for anyone who was a fan of System of a Down. However like I mentioned before this album feels at times like a half-finished System album without Serj, and it’s this lack of mind-blowing innovation that Serj Tankian’s ‘Elect the Dead’ contained that stops Scars on Broadway’s debut from being an absolute awesome album.