Albums/EPs

ALBUM: Funeral For A Friend – Memory And Humanity

Release Date: October 13th, 2008
Label: Join Us
Rating: 7/10

Website: www.ffafmusic.co.uk
MySpace: www.myspace.com/funeralforafriend

Funeral For A Friend profile

The last time we heard from Funeral For A Friend was with last year’s experimental concept effort, ‘Tales Don’t Tell Themselves’. Unfortunately for the boys, it ended up being their least successful album to-date, and also proved to be a strong reason their label at the time, Atlantic Records, dropped them. Determined to carry on, the band formed their own label Join Us, and returned strong with their fourth album, ‘Memory And Humanity’.

It’s clear from the off-set that Funeral For A Friend have taken a step back from their more commercial alternative rock sound evident on the previous album, and have inserted more of their original post-hardcore roots from ‘Hours’ and ‘Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation’, giving them a much more stable and mature sound than before. The skills and talent of guitarists Darran Smith and Kris Coombs-Roberts is still on show and as strong as it’s always been, especially in tracks like ‘To Die Like Mouchette’, and ‘Constant Illuminations’. Songwriting skills have improved once more, with the constant tug-o-war like approach of quiet sections and heavier bursts in ‘Maybe I Am?’, and the rejection of the common verse-chorus-verse approach in ‘Waterfront Dance Club’ shows a growth in musicianship. It’s nice to see a more anarchy and rebellious-esque number from the Welsh boys too, with ‘You Can’t See The Forest For The Wolves’ holding a punk-like verse, and a heavy distorted breakdown showing one of the band’s heaviest offerings since their second album back in 2005. ‘Building’ proves to be one of the strongest moments from this release, a quiet solemn acoustic-like number, shedding apart the chorus from the verses beautifully. Along with this, ‘Ghosts’ is easily one moment in the album where you’ll definitley detect the band’s step back towards their old sound, with a lacing of aggression and altering sections progressing from one another steadily with great finese.

Funeral For A Friend have taken a strong move taking a step back from their last full-length album, producing a collection of songs that are easily their most mature to-date. These boys aren’t down and out for a while just yet.

Written by Zach Redrup

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SINGLE: Funeral For A Friend – Waterfront Dance Club

Release Date: July 28th, 2008
Label: Join Us Records
Rating: 7/10

Website: www.funeralforafriend.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/funeralforafriend

Funeral For A Friend profile

Over the years, Funeral For A Friend have gradually moved away from the heavier and dotted scream sounds evident from ‘Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation’ album, and more towards a mainstream rock-pop band. ‘Waterfront Dance Club’ seems to show the band moving back to their original sound slightly, but creating something that’s different from their earlier work.

From the start off with the chugging introduction, this single shows a band who never want to do the same thing twice, blending their old ideas with their new comforts. This may be due to the fact that creating their own label Join Us Records has given them more time to concentrate and work on their material until they’re happy. The very quick and developed transitions from the verse to the chorus are well structure, and shows the band have worked on their talents.

Let’s just hope that the rest of the album release isn’t another step towards mainstrem rock-pop.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: Full Blown Chaos – Heavy Lies The Crown

Release Date: August 21st, 2007
Label: Ferret Music
Rating: 3/10

Website: None available
MySpace: www.myspace.com/fullblownchaos

Full Blown Chaos profile

Metal and hardcore are genres which have stood the test of time, going through ups and downs over the years. There have been many successful acts and failed acts to accompany this, Full Blown Chaos are one of those acts that embrace that genre, but are definitely not a key band to be remembered within it, at least with what they bring with ‘Heavy Lies The Crown’.

From what this album has to offer, Full Blown Chaos just seem to want to churn out the same old metal in 12 different tracks with slight alterations. Sure, the songs have different variations within the riffs and lyrics as in every song you’ll ever hear, but there’s almost no change whatsoever in vocal work, or what the song brings to the listener at all. Just listening to tracks like ‘The Hard Goodbye’ and ‘Fail Like A Champ’ you can see how much this band are influenced by the likes of Sepultura and Machine Head, but instead of creating something new with it, they just seem to be recycling it and putting their mark upon it.

But to be fair, the album isn’t complete with boring songs repeated throughout. ‘Heavy Lies The Crown’ does contain some stand out tracks which don’t sound like the other 80% of songs on the record. The title track is just one of these, and has it’s moments where you’re not just pummelled with cliché riffs. ‘All For Nothing’ is another key moment, where you can actually feel the emotion and anger channelling through in the music, like metal and hardcore music should do. The music actually grows, alters, and progresses throughout which is something that you’re after in an album.

It’s not like the musicians aren’t talented either, ‘Mojave Red Pt.1’ is a nice showcase of great guitar work and musicianship. If they used this kind of skill and co-operation just a little more often they’d be doing something great, sadly this isn’t the case. This then progresses onto ‘Mojave Red Pt.2’ which is a nice example of this band doing something a bit more intense, heavy, and exciting. The question is: Why didn’t they do this earlier?

Not a key moment in metal here from Full Blown Chaos. If they want to release another album in the future then they’re gonna have to step up in their game a little bit, or they’re gonna get crushed by the competition.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: Foxy Shazam – Introducing

Release Date: January 22nd, 2008
Label: Ferret Music
Rating: 6/10

Website: www.foxyshazam.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/foxyshazam

Foxy Shazam profile

Dubbed by some under the classification and genre of ‘pianocore’, Foxy Shazam produce a sound that you really aren’t likely to come across every day. Imagine if you would the piano-pop sound you’re likely to get from a number by Lily Allen or Delta Goodrem, and placing over it the less radio-friendly vocal and guitar accompaniment that you’d find from bands like Blood Brothers and The Number 12 Looks Like You.

‘Introducing’ pretty much does what it says on the tin, even though it is their second full-length effort, though a lot argue that the band need to be seen live in action to be truely understood. Songs like ‘The Rocketeer’ and ‘A Dangerous Man’ give all the evidence you’ll need to see why they’ve been labeled as ‘pianocore’. Fast and chaotic guitar work with a base underlay of piano work constructs something that should probably sound pretty terrible and hard to enjoy, but is just another life example that opposites do attract.

A more soul and mellow sound is given off with ‘The Science Of Love’, with “Oooh!” here and there in the background reeling in points towards pop and catchy material, and the added synth keyboard work just polishing off and creating work that again isn’t a regular occurance in a lot of music scenes today. If that doesn’t do enough for you, the high pitched wail from Eric Sean Nally towards the end of the song should just finish the fact that this band aren’t afraid to play around with cheese. If their more agressive side is more your thing, then head for ‘It’s Hair Smelled Like Bonfire’. The constant bellows of “We’re ready to roll! / I don’t wanna know!” is enough to get you in a pissed-off mood too.

Though their sound is definitely a unique and original one, it can become a bit repetative after a couple of tracks. Your best bet if you’re a newcomer to this band is to simply listen to a few tracks in one session, and then come back and listen to the rest another time before taking the whole package head on.

‘Introducing’ does its intended job, but if you’re only just being introduced then take this original band in bit by bit.

Written by Zach Redrup

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SINGLE: Flyleaf – I’m So Sick

Release Date: March 3rd, 2008
Label: Octone Records
Rating: 8/10

Website: www.flyleafmusic.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/flyleaf

Flyleaf profile

From looking at her, who would have ever thought that a girl the size of Lacey Mosley could bellow such a horrifying scream? Upon listening to ‘I’m So Sick’ you’ll realise a little bit more about Flyleaf‘s musical presentation, and a Christian alternative metal band with a screaming female lead vocalist isn’t something you find very often in mainstream music today.

‘I’m So Sick’ has varying moments of sheer aggression which is nicely levelled out with layers of harmonising vocal work too. The deep bass intro from Pat Seals along with Lacey‘s angel-like vocal opening is a haunting one at the least, with a similar effect with the closing moments. In-between we get an aggressive and catchy piece of work, which will make you want to listen again, again and again.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: Flyleaf – Flyleaf

Release Date: January 14th, 2008
Label: Octone Records
Rating: 7/10

Website: www.flyleafmusic.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/flyleaf

Flyleaf profile

From the top of most people’s heads, there aren’t many female fronted bands who’ve gotten into the rock mainstream. The main ones if people know of them would be Evanescence, Lacuna Coil, Paramore, and Arch Enemy, yes? Well, Flyleaf from Seattle are another one who’ve accomplished such a feat, and they’ve been around for about 8 years now.

The release of their self-titled album in the UK (the album was released in the US in late 2005) is a display of alternative metal from the Christian faith driven band. Opening track ‘I’m So Sick’ is probably the heaviest and grittiest you’ll find on the album, with a dirty bass line and angel-like vocal opening which soon turns into a burst of screaming and electric guitars. Although vocalist Lacey Mosley screams every so often, in tracks such as ‘I’m Sorry’ and ‘Breathe Today’, she does tend to use more melodic vocal harmonies than not.

Infact, their metal sound doesn’t completely dominate the entire album, and Flyleaf have moments of more solitude than others. This is shown in songs like ‘There For You’, and ‘So I Thought’, revealing a tool which was probably an essential one to help them appeal to the more mainstream audiences who scrunch their faces with disgust at anything out of their ordinary dosage.

On the point of the band being of the Christian faith, a lot of their music does display lyrically saving lives or speaking to their God. ‘All Around Me’ is full of such metaphors and other lyrical techniques, with lines like “The light is white / And I see you” and “My hands are searching for you / My arms are outstretched towards you” giving clear indication of this. ‘Cassie’ speaks of what seems a lot like girl committing suicide, but also refers to God with the chorus line “Do you believe in God / Written on the bullet / And Cassie pulled the trigger.” – a more dark and sinister side on things for this band.

Flyleaf have almost been around for getting on for 10 years, and with this release have shown a lot of talent within their area in the music. If you’re not a fan of their heavier offerings, the UK release has their songs ‘Cassie’, ‘All Around Me’ and ‘Fully Alive’ as acoustic recordings. But more likely than not, there should be no objection to their original states.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: Flood Of Red – Leaving Everything Behind

Release Date: October 19th, 2009
Label: Dark City
Rating: 9/10

Website: www.floodofred.co.uk
MySpace: www.myspace.com/floodofred

Flood Of Red profile

Scotland’s giving the rest of the UK a run for its money when it comes to musical talent lately; Biffy Clyro, along with Paolo Nutini and Twin Atlantic have all done exceptionally well in recent years, and have highlighted that the highlands has a great alternative music scene. Another band that will undoubtedly be added onto that list is Glasgow sextet, Flood Of Red. Following the release of their debut ‘Leaving Everything Behind’, the boys are certainly heading for stardom.

The first effort from the six-piece is exceptionally good and sees the band create music that sounds like a mix of Circa Survive, Saosin, As Cities Burn and “the Biffy” themselves. Prelude ‘The Edge Of The World’ is a little deceiving and kicks off the record with a mellow and calm tone, which is soon replaced by rowdy guitars in ‘The Harmony’ which follows after. This track proves to be one of the heavier songs on the album and will most likely be the one that you remember. Perhaps even more memorable is Jordan Spiers‘ vocals, the 21-year-old has a voice way beyond his years and effortlessly manages to move from quiet to loud tones to showcase his range. Songs such as ‘I Will Not Change’ and ‘The Heartless And The Loving’ are great examples of this.

Flood Of Red as a whole seem to have this knowledge and understanding of music that artists twice their age are yet to discover. When listening to the record it’s hard to believe that the boys are just out of their teenage years. Every song on this album has been crafted and composed with such precision that they could all quite easily be released as singles. Tracks like ‘A Place Before The End’ and ‘Little Lovers’ wouldn’t go amiss in the UK rock charts.

Considering that the sextet were once described as post-hardcore for their early demos is proof that this band have come a long way since then. It’s hard to fit Flood Of Red into just one genre, the group are constantly flirting with different sounds including indie rock, progressive and experimental rock as well as electronica. Regardless of what genre they end up being put into, their music work. It’s extremely creative and is a breath of fresh air in a scene overcrowded with clones.

‘Leaving Everything Behind’ is a superb debut from the Scottish sextet, and in all honesty leaves you gagging for more. If the phrase “things get better with age” is anything to go by then we are certainly in for a treat with Flood Of Red‘s future releases.

Written by Kate Rees

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ALBUM: Fightstar – Be Human

Release Date: April 20th, 2009
Label: Search And Destroy
Rating: 6/10

Website: www.fightstarmusic.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/fightstar

Fightstar profile

Fightstar‘s new record ‘Be Human’ is a new start in many ways. They had to release it out their own in a joint venture with their management team, and they’ve whipped out the orchestras to take things epic. Now the normal heavy alt-rock sound is still there, the one that shut up the naysayers with their Busted-based arguments on debut ‘Grand Unification’, but now it sounds more like a soundtrack than a traditional album.

So, as I mentioned the first thing that is heard on the new album is a strong string section, something then clicked; Charlie Simpson likes Biffy Clyro. Biffy Clyro mixed hard rock with orchestral tendencies very recently. Is this a rock conspiracy?! Or a mere coincidence? That silliness aside, opener ‘Calling All Stations’ has a far grander feel than anything we’ve experienced from the band before. However, despite the new found love of classical instrumentation we find that Charlie Simpson‘s desperate sounding vocal is not lost, neither are the catchy punk pop choruses or the crunchy guitar work. However, the problem is unlike a lot of bands who have a lot of success melding the two, Fightstar seem to have difficulty finding the right balance between the grand and the rock. Songs like ‘War Machine’ would have been perfectly good with the strong song as it was and with some sweeping strings coming in towards the crescendo, but instead it permeates the entire song and takes it a little over the top. This pattern improves a lot with the first real hint of aggression on the album in ‘Colours Bleed To Red’ which has lots of riffs, arpeggios and neat little breakdowns and is a nice pop-punk jaunt with a slightly more brutal climax, and is the first song that doesn’t feel like Hans Zimmer lite. Things take a turn for the weird with the opening harmonica in ‘Whisperer’ which then takes a more traditional metal route guitar wise even if the vocal and melody doesn’t. However, the song then proceeds to change about three times, something very Biffy-esque if I dare to bring that up again. Once you get over the first quarter of the album though, things revert very much to the traditional sometimes soft sometimes heavy pop-rock Fightstar have built their reputation on. As the album goes on the orchestra compliments the songs rather than being a hindrance with some of the lush vocal sections in ‘Give Me The Sky’ being a good example. This trend continues with some nice growl sections with a neat segue into the clean ones in songs like ‘Chemical Blood’ which then does take an admitted turn for the Star Wars. Then there is the straight up heaviness that comes through in certain sections and like in ‘Give Me The Sky’ it works as a nice contrast to the orchestral sections because as songs like ‘Damocles’ show the balance is intricate.

Overall, Fightstar have crafted an album of their usual addictive, sometimes moshable, sometimes anthemic alt-pop-rock, but in places have overloaded it with symphonic qualities. In some places it really works, but in others it really doesn’t and finding the right mix is really the only place they went wrong here. But I guess if I’d hired a 16-piece orchestra I’d probably want to make the most of it.

Written by Paul Smith

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SINGLE: Fightstar – The English Way

Release Date: November 3rd, 2008
Label: Sandwich Leg
Rating: 8/10

Website: www.fightstarmusic.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/fightstarmusic

Fightstar profile

It’s fair enough to say that Fightstar probably won’t ever be taken seriously by everybody who’s exposed to them, mainly due to Charlie Simpson‘s past in the huge pop-rock band, Busted. But, Fightstar has now been going for 5 years strong, and ‘The English Way’ is just one more piece of evidence that he clearly did the right thing forming this band.

‘The English Way’ is just another step forward for the band, creating that usual post-hardcore/alternative rock approach with catchy hooks to keep the songs in your head and remembered whether you hate it or not. It’s heavy yet approachable, and could pretty much be seen as a “fuck you” to all the haters that are still out there. The tag team-like vocal works of “You are, you are / You’re all around” between Charlie Simpson and Alex Westaway are still as strong and co-operational as ever.

Fightstar are a band in their own right, and by the sounds of things they won’t be going anywhere for a good while yet.

Written by Zach Redrup

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ALBUM: Every Time I Die – The Big Dirty

Release Date: September 4th, 2007
Label: Ferret Music
Rating: 8/10

Website: www.everytimeidie.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/everytimeidie

Every Time I Die profile

Lots of bands go through constant member changes, sometimes this even leads these bands to split-up such as I Killed The Prom Queen. Every Time I Die is one of such bands, who seem to have little luck in keeping a permanent bassist, but they’ve stood strong and endured it all. With this they’ve created their newest labour of work, ‘The Big Dirty’.

The album name ‘The Big Dirty’ is one of the best ways for anyone to describe this band’s music. Everything they create is big in sound, and dirty and gritty within its layers. Throughout their entire career this is how it’s always been, and hopefully it always will be.

You’re instantly attacked with the band’s full-force with album opener ‘No Son Of Mine’. Crunching buzz-saw riffs and rampaging drums are plentiful, and they gain that extra push with the vocal work from Keith Buckley. His cynical and angry lyrics only add extra aggression into this piece, “Leave your drunken accident at the prom. / It’ll grow to mend your broken heart.” is evidence that this song is far from an uplifting and cheerful one.

Another stand-out moment on ‘The Big Dirty’ is ‘Rendez-Voodoo’. The opening lyric line itself is yet another display of the band’s sheer aggression which they bestow within themselves. “You’d better shove another piece of what’s left in your mouth while the getting is good.” yelled by Keith Buckley in a less aggressive manner than previously on this record. It seems much more of Southern Metal than their other 11 tracks, but they soon return back to familiar areas musically.

Hardcore/metalcore albums tend to sound similar throughout in a few of today’s cases, but Every Time I Die aren’t following that trend. Obviously they follow the clear conventions within their genre, but they’ve got much more to offer than what other bands have on their plates. The clean vocal work of Dallas Green from Alexisonfire found on ‘INRihab’ isn’t far from beautiful, which ironically is found within the core of all this rage.

Admittedly they do hold moments which are very similar to others, but what band doesn’t at times. The fact of the matter is they make their music exciting, intense, powerful, and within their lyrical work – aggressive.

If you’re a hardcore/metalcore fan then owning ‘The Big Dirty’ is a must. Cynical, powerful, brutal, and intense throughout, there’s definitely going to be many moments which you find exciting and enjoyable. And if you haven’t even heard of Every Time I Die by now, then where the fuck have you been?

Written by Zach Redrup

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