Albums/EPs

SINGLE: Dropkick Murphys – The State Of Massachusetts

Release Date: February 4th, 2008
Label: Cooking Vinyl
Rating: 6/10

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

Dropkick Murphys profile

A fusion of Irish folk music and angry modern punk, Dropkick Murphys release ‘The State Of Massachusetts’, a song with a good few layers behind it, which together create a piece of Celtic Rock that grabs your attention.

The song combines a collection of various instruments and sections into what it is, with the opening being the main song riff played on a ukulele before the electric guitars and drum beats come crashing in. You’re not too sure whether to dance or mosh along to this track. In the lyrical department of things, Dropkick Murphys present what seems to be a narrative storyline along with an occasional gang shout here and there of “They’ve been taken away” and “Hey!” getting the listener to sing along.

With this in mind though, the song does have an element of repetition behind it though. Whether this is a negative or positive one is all a matter of personal opinion.

Written by Zach Redrup

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EP: Drederick Tatum – The John Demo

Release Date: September 1st, 2009
Label: Unsigned
Rating: 8/10

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

Drederick Tatum profile

Talent can be found in the most surprising places, and the speed in which it grows can be just as surprising too. Drederick Tatum from the Chester/Wrexham area are a product of both said surprises, and their debut 3-track ‘The John Demo’ is a stapled piece of evidence to help support this.

As soon as that first distorted chugged note from the opening of ‘In My Neighbourhood? I Don’t Think So’ is played, up ’til the screamed outro of “We’ll live our lives in misery” in ‘They Made Worms Meat Of Me’, there’s very little – if any – breather moments for whoever’s the subject in front of the speakers. They’re tight, heavy, and about as angry as an unemployed chav who’s missed his last dole payment. Frontman Gary Challinor‘s vocals are clearly emotive, from his screams and bellows you can feel the sincerity in what he’s yelling about.

The catchiest moments of the chorus to ‘I Took Her Slam City’, the repeated “I took her to Slam City / Without remorse, without pity / This is right where she belongs / A piece of scum for us to walk along” is a dark and bitter lyric which achieves to be as catchy as chlamydia. The dual-guitar onslaught of Sim and The Shed, combined with the bludgeoning bass lines of Tom Plant, and the fast but steady drum work of Lewis is exposed at its strongest in ‘In My Neighbourhood…’, driving along the hurtful outro line “I was there for you / You weren’t there for me” to an epic climax. Though true and strong, Gary‘s vocals could be seen as a tad too ’emo’, ‘broken’, or ‘whiny’, but the sincerity of the lyrics he wraps them in more than overpowers this slight flaw.

Drederick Tatum can’t really capture their live presence in CD format alone, but if they could, I’m sure ‘The John Demo’ would at least be three times more brutal… if you can imagine it.

Written by Zach Redrup

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EP: Dinosaur Pile-Up – The Most Powerful E.P. In The Universe!!

Release Date: August 17th, 2009
Label: Big Brain Records
Rating: 8/10

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

Dinosaur Pile-Up profile

The Leeds trio which created a buzz last year for the best part of 2008 – thanks to its aggressive and paradoxically delightful debut singles ‘My Rock ‘n’ Roll’ and ‘Love Is A Boat And We’re Sinking’ – are coming back with their brand new confidently titled EP, ‘The Most Powerful E.P. in the Universe!!’. And as their new sound is definitely darker and much more mature than their previous tracks, their fans will be undoubtedly surprised.

Keeping confident titles rolling with opener ‘Summer Hit Single’ and its penetrating chorus, our three dinosaurs quickly introduce us to their new sound and what they’re about. With songs such as ‘Opposites Attract’, and the relaxing ‘Melanin’, the band can easily be compared with the likes of Weezer or The Subways. ‘Cat Attack’, far from being the most interesting song of the ensemble, would have been perfect for a good old American teenage movie due to its repetitive but maybe slightly boring riff. If you are patient enough to wait until their last yet arguably best track, ‘Beach Bug’, you will surely think that it smells like teen spirit with its reek of grunge, all thanks to its dark and sensual vocals.

Is ‘The Most Powerful E.P. In The Universe!!’ really the most powerful EP in the Universe? Probably not. But what really matters is that Dinosaur Pile-Up‘s EP is definitely going to improve your rainy summer and has to be listened to. The boys’ influences might remain a little too obvious, but the band is promising and will hopefully reach its potential very soon.

Written by Elise El Ouardi

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ALBUM: DevilDriver – Pray For Villains

Release Date: July 14th, 2009
Label: Roadrunner Records
Rating: 8/10

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

DevilDriver profile

Californian five-piece DevilDriver made their mark in the metal world in 2003 with their self-titled debut. The distinct vocals from frontman Dez Fafara caused people to stop and pay attention, and soon enough the band’s ferocious sound was loved by metalheads everywhere. With the help of prestigious label Roadrunner Records, the quintet went on to release ‘Fury Of Our Maker’s Hand’ and ‘The Last Kind Words’, two striking albums that took their sound to extremes.

Three years since their last full-length and the band are ready to showcase their fourth masterpiece, ‘Pray For Villains’. Upon first listen, it really comes as no surprise that it’s one of the most anticipated albums of 2009. From the second opening track ‘Pray For Villains’ begins you are sucked into a fierce and vicious record that does not stop for air. This album stresses how versatile DevilDriver are: ‘Back With A Vengence’ sounds like a cross between Slipknot and Velvet Revolver, where as ‘I’ve Been Sober’ could quite easily pass as a Dragonforce and Lordi collaboration. It is also very clear to see that Fafara has developed as a lyricist and has made the songs a lot more personal – on ‘Teach Me To Whisper’ he screams “Another day, another decision / One that eventually affects us both / Teach me to whisper ’cause I feel like screaming”. Other stand-out tracks include ‘Another Night In London’ and ‘Bitter Pill’, both of which flaunt the more melodic side to the metal band.

‘Pray For Villains’ is an immense record, however in certain places it sounded a little too similar to their previous record and shows little musical progression. This is by no means a bad thing and fans are without doubt going to love it regardless. The thirteen tracks on this album are overwhelmingly good and needless to say DevilDriver have done their utter best to outdo themselves. The Californians have once again taken their musical genius and pushed it to the limit their known for. With nearly an hour of music that is both melodic and brutal, it’s safe to say that this record will be a hit with fans of the band. ‘Pray For Villains’ will undeniably sound amazing live, resulting in what can only be an unbelievable reception during their UK tour later this year.

Written by Kate Rees

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ALBUM: Bury Tomorrow – Portraits

Release Date: October 12th, 2009
Label: Basick Records
Rating: 8/10

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

Bury Tomorrow profile

Bury Tomorrow are quite possibly one of the most hard working and relentless bands around the UK, and in continuously touring over the past four years they have built up a large and loyal fanbase in reward of said efforts. Their EP ‘Sleep Of The Innocents’ was as brilliant as anything else out in that year, and having since then joined the Artery Foundation and toured in America, this band is certainly one to watch in the future.

Opening to the track of ‘Confessions’ with a crushing breakdown and Danni Winter-Bates‘ feral-like vocals, the song elapses into numerous guitar string twinges and Jason Cameron‘s angelic singing. It sets the tone for the rest of the album and is definitely one of the highlights of it too.

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ALBUM: The Devil Wears Prada – With Roots Above And Branches Below

Release Date: June 15th, 2009
Label: Ferret Music
Rating: 9/10

Website: www.thedevilwearspradaband.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/tdwp

The Devil Wears Prada profile

Christian influenced rockers The Devil Wears Prada are quite frankly a hit or miss band. The metalcore music the Ohio sextet create either leaves you wanting more or pondering the question “Am I the only one who doesn’t understand what it is that they’re saying?”.

Fortunately for the latter, their new album ‘With Roots Above And Branches Below’ contains much more clean vocals than both previous releases combined. Songs such as ‘Dez Moines’, ‘Ben Has A Kid’ and ‘Louder Than Thunder’ highlight that the twin vocal attack of Mike Hranica and Jeremy DePoyster have finally found a good balance their screaming and singing. ‘Louder Than Thunder’ is without question the stand-out track, revealing an unexpected soft side to the metalcore band. Not only does it display the group’s diversity, the extremely rare mellow effort also gives DePoyster the opportunity to show off his often disregarded vocal ability, as well as exposing vulnerable lyrics that are usually hidden under hard to decipher screams and grunts from Hranica.

As per usual – with them being a Christian influenced band – the boys make it very clear that their religion and faith plays a big part in their lives. ‘Big Wiggly Style’ can easily be interpreted as a confession to God, in which Hranica screams “My regret is not writing more for You, Lord”. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but recognition must be given to the sextet for making this record extremely personal compared with their previous efforts.

‘With Roots Above And Branches Below’ in all honesty is very appealing. Everything about the record stresses that the members of ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ have definitely matured as musicians since 2007’s ‘Plagues’. Hranica‘s monster-like screams are a lot stronger than they’ve been before, guitarists Chris Rubey and DePoyster have finally realised that breakdowns aren’t needed every 20 seconds, and keyboard/synth player James Baney has a much bigger role on this album and in some places makes the songs sound similar to early work from fellow Christian moshers UnderØath. Both bassist Andy Trick and drummer Daniel Williams add to the solid performance by bringing catchy-as-fuck bass lines and thundering drumbeats to the metalcore table.

The Devil Wears Prada have without doubt taken their music in a slightly new direction and you know what, it works! ‘With Roots Above And Branches Below’ is a refreshing change from their stereotypical sound and in places completely outperforms both ‘Plagues’ and ‘Dear Love: A Beautiful Discord’. They may still preach about their faith and their religion – obviously an expectation when you choose to listen to a faith-driven artist – but this should in no way put you off listening to them. The Ohio six-piece have worked extremely hard to produce an album better than many people were ever expecting, and their worked payed-off.

Written by Kate Rees

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ALBUM: The Devil Wears Prada – Plagues

Release Date: August 21st, 2007
Label: Rise Records
Rating: 8/10

Website: www.thedevilwearspradaband.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/tdwp

The Devil Wears Prada profile

In recent years, the more underground rock genres such as metalcore and grindcore have become more popular and recognised in today’s modern music culture. One genre of which is Christian metalcore, and one band in the rise of this is The Devil Wears Prada from Dayton, Ohio. Their second full-length album to be released on Rise Records is ‘Plagues’, and is clearly a step up from their previous efforts.

‘Plagues’ doesn’t fail to pack the listener a punch, and features almost everything, through catchy melodic choruses, harmonising vocals, banshee-like shrieks and screams, and atmospheric yet brutal breakdowns. Through all these layers, the six-piece aren’t afraid to speak up about their faith and religion.

One of the more recognised tracks from the album is ‘HTML Rulez d00d’, which was uploaded onto their MySpace profile earlier in the year as a rough demo version. During that time they’ve managed to perfect it, and now it sounds more crisp and moving than before. From the opening harmony section to the ending screams of the breakdown, it’s one of the album’s more pop-like tracks.

In keeping with what is their usual random sounding track titles, which no doubt have a deeper meaning than what is said on the surface, ‘Reptar, King Of The Ozone’ is one of the finer moments on ‘Plagues’. A song that is very possibly about how each day we’re all coming closer towards our demise, and how we’re composing it just like a song we’d have played at our funeral. The chorus line of this track also reveals some extent of their vocal talents, as Jeremy DePoster and Mike Hranica combine excellently with “We’re composing our funeral songs, note by note.”

‘Don’t Dink And Drance’ is a track with a few surprises here and there, infected and dense with disorientating guitar riffs, keyboard/synth effects, and belting screams and growls. From the opening section it’s quite clear that this track is one of their more heavier attempts of songwriting, and also shows an improvement in the composing area too. The layer of keyboard notes over Jeremy DePoster’s vocal section is quite a sudden and moving attempt from this band, and one they’ve rarely, if ever done before. They also have a guest appearance from Craig Owens of Chiodos in the track ‘You Can’t Spell ‘Crap’ Without ‘C”, whose vocal talent flows nicely with their style.

Though The Devil Wears Prada make clear of their religious beliefs within their songs, they also add a gore and violent side within their lyrics, particularly in the record’s closing track, ‘Nickels Is Money Too’. With lines such as “Here’s a farmer that hung himself on the expectation of plenty” and “Welcome to the museum of the dead / Endless gore becomes reality” their lyrics do blend both the light and darks sides of their religion and faith.

‘Plagues’ brings about the next step in the band’s development, both as a band and as songwriters. This album contains almost everything you can expect from a metalcore band today, along with including Christianity as their main song subject. A good purchase for almost all metal fans out there, and if you’re not too keen on the idea of six guys talking about religion, then that can be set aside and overlooked in favour of some choice tunes.

Written by Zach Redrup

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EP: Proceed – Curious Electric

Release Date: May 31st, 2010
Label: Proceed Records/MudHut
Website: www.proceed-online.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/proceed

Rating:

In the post-hardcore scene recently, screaming has started to slowly been drawn out of certain bands who once did it, focusing more upon the cleans and melodies of a song instead of agression and intensity. Emarosa have had great success in this move, and Proceed have decided to take the exact same steps with their new 7-track EP, ‘Curious Electric’.

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ALBUM: Panic Cell – Fire It Up

Release Date: April 5th, 2010
Label: Undergroove Records
Website: None available
MySpace: www.myspace.com/paniccell

Rating:

Bulky Jager-chugging riff-merchants from the UK present their third record. One can’t help but sigh at the opening guitar part. Then again at the ominous guess-what’s-coming rhythm that joins it. Then again at the phallic struck ‘n’ rung power chord and the entry of the textbook metal drum beat. Then again at the forced Disturbed Lite, System Of A Dull vocal approach. Then again at the ego-steeped Shitriani solos. I am running out of patronising sighs. The opening track takes every last ounce of will power not to skip, but if you do it makes no difference, because it is more of the same.

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ALBUM: Daughters – Daughters

Release Date: March 9th, 2010
Label: Hydra Head Records
Website: www.wearedaughters.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/daughters1

Rating:

What a big beautiful epitaph this turned out to be. Daughters‘ latest self titled release could well be their last if rumours are to be believed. Crashing home in just under 30 minutes it’s an explosive mix of oppressive, crunchy noise, desperate vocals and screeching, wailing guitars that sound like decayed ruins fired up with fresh electric.

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