Reviews

LIVE: From First To Last @ Download Festival (15/06/2008)

Date: June 15th, 2008
Venue: Main Stage, Download Festival
Support: N/A
Rating: 7/10

Website: www.fromfirsttolast.com
MySpace: www.myspace.com/fftl

From First To Last profile

After a past of many UK shows and festivals cancelled and a band member leaving, From First To Last storm strong and confident onto the main stage of Download festival this year.

Obviously the whole prospect of having a lead singer is now missing from the band’s live performances, so arguably there’s less activity, but this doesn’t make From First To Last an unenjoyable band to watch without Sonny Moore. The band triumph through a set containing most of their news songs since the line-up change, such as ‘Two As One’, and deliver them well. Though the crowd is clearly too tired with their early show, the band themselves are far from fatigued, with the members prancing across the stage with large amounts of energy. When the band play their older songs ‘The Latest Plague’ and ‘Ride The Wings Of Pestilence’, their words are sung right back from their fans, showing their appreciation for the band sticking together through pretty hard times.

Though they need to work a bit more on their showmanship with their new line-up, From First To Last are showing no signs of backing down. If the loss of a strong band member won’t bring these guys down, then very little will.

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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LIVE: Fightstar @ Download Festival (15/06/2008)

Date: June 15th, 2008
Venue: Main Stage, Download Festival
Support: N/A
Rating: 7/10

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

Fightstar profile

With a member holding a past of being a member of a pop band as big and as cheesy as Busted, you would expect for Fightstar to have a bottle or two thrown at them playing the main stage at Download.

The thing is, since the band formed and made their presence known in 2003 they’ve grown into a respectable band, and they’re not bad at writing and performing their songs, but due to the musical past of Charlie Simpson they may not ever be fully respected. However, despite this, very few bottles were thrown onstage while the band played fan favourites like ‘Paint Your Target’, ‘Palahnuik’s Laughter’, and ‘Build An Army’. Charlie has grown his confidence tremendously, developing into a rock star of his own rights. The band’s closer ‘Deathcar’ shows clear evidence of his growth in confidence along with the other three members of the band, and proving that they deserve to play a slot on the main stage of Download festival.

Fightstar deserve a lot more respect than they get given, and if any of the haters turned their opinion due to their performance then they’re on their way there.

Written by Zach Redrup

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LIVE: Download Festival @ Donington Park (14/06/2009)

Date: June 14th, 2009
Venue: Donington Park
Stages: Second Stage, Tuborg Stage, Red Bull Stage

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

Bring on Download 2010!

Download‘s Main Stage on Sunday is band after band from the days of yore. Instead of those mainly insanely popular bands, DEAD PRESS! decided to cover the more modern and cuttingly new acts on the other stages.

TRIGGER THE BLOODSHED – SECOND STAGE
RATING: 6/10
Today’s second stage seems to be occupying heavyweights for the most part of the day, and Trigger The Bloodshed is one of the earlier performing crafters of this far from radio-friendly style. Though their material is a tad cliché and each song of the set sounds just like the one played before it, the band are rather overpowering onstage. Drummer Max Blunos is smashing cymbals and drum skins like nobody’s business, and whilst frontman Jonny Burgan isn’t stuff made of legends yet hints of potential are there, with his grunts and growls along with his commands for crowd movement and participation are enough to incite the first few moshpits for the second stage crowd.

SUICIDE SILENCE – SECOND STAGE
RATING: 9/10
Things go up a few notches for 5-piece Suicide Silence, pummeling blistering sounds from their PA system speakers to a crowd mainly frenzied in a sea of mosh pits. It’s an odd, rare, but ultimately good thing to see a band this heavy receiving such a positive sing back to this song; especially seeing as it’s difficult to interpret whatever the fuck Mitch Lucker is screaming his lungs out about. New album offering ‘Wake Up’ is welcomed by a sea of headbangers and kids screaming the words “Wake up! Wake up!” right back in the band’s faces. The final detonation of ‘No Pity For A Coward’ is a clear realization as to how heavy and respected this band is right now, with the field becoming a minefield of circle pits, and almost everyone in the first few rows watching the spectacle before them yelling “Seconds from the end / What’s it gonna be? / Pull the trigger bitch!”, and at times even overpowering the volume from the stage sound system.

PULLED APART BY HORSES – TUBORG STAGE
RATING: 7/10
Being pulled apart by horses isn’t an activity anyone would find fun at all, so it’s a good thing a band of the same name aren’t in any area of torture. Their fun and erratic stage performance is entertaining enough to watch if you aren’t a fan of their sound. Whether they’re jumping off speakers, getting people in the crowd to high-five one another, announcing to the crowd their drunk and encouraging others to join them, or jumping from the stage and down to the barrier to see their fans, Pulled Apart By Horses made their set more than just about the music. Frontman Tom Hudson even jumps over the barrier and parties alongside the audience during set closer ‘I Punched A Lion In The Throat’; a random yet amusing song title which only enforces the strange style these Yorkshire boys put across.

FEI COMODO – RED BULL BEDROOM JAM STAGE
RATING: 8/10
Probably reeling in one of the biggest crowds to the Red Bull Bedroom Jam tent all weekend, Fei Comodo‘s energetic alternative rock/post-hardcore style sees crowd participation from start to finish. Lead vocalist Marc Halls is jumping from speakers, hanging from the side stage supports, and coming up to the crowd barrier at any appropriate opportunity. The constant crowd surfing on top of this shows a band who truly connect and involve the crowd in a show which should see this band on a bigger and more appropriate stage for them. Songs like ‘Break The Ice’ has every word sung right back to the band too, showing a following and dedication that many bands in their position find hard to obtain.

TRIVIUM – SECOND STAGE
RATING: 9/10
For a band who’s big jump start into international touring and success was all down to their first appearance at this festival, it seems only fitting that Trivium are placed as second stage headliners for the Sunday, and therefore closing the festival weekend. Since those few years ago the band have garnered two more studio albums under their belts, and a hell of a lot of experience live on multiple tours across the world. The combined dual guitar onslaught from Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu is stronger and tighter than ever, and though the nature of the band’s solos are rather complex they seem to flow as easy and sharp as if they were to play any old riff. Between a set of ‘Like Light To Flies’, ‘Fugue’ and ‘Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr’, Matt is constantly thanking and sending his appreciation to the supporting crowd, even stating “this is proof, if we can make it then any one of you can. Whether you want to be a lawyer or a doctor, you can do it” to a much deserved applause, and even dedicates ‘Anthem (We Are The Fire)’ to the thousands of people watching them. With several mosh pits being dotted in all places across the field, Heafy‘s constant gasps of “Oh my god!” not only sums how they feel about their feedback of this set, but also how the crowd feels about Trivium – a great end to a fucking rocking weekend!

Written by Zach Redrup

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LIVE: You Me At Six @ Academy 2, Manchester (23/10/2008)

Date: October 23rd, 2008
Venue: Academy 2, Manchester
Support: Farewell, Houston Calls

Rating: 7/10

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

You Me At Six profile

It’s strange how much can happen in the space of a year, especially within the music industry. With the likes of Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana, it was almost overnight where they shifted from a band not many people knew, to becoming bands that dominated the world. You Me At Six are nowhere near such feats, but they’ve made pretty big accomplishments considering their young age. This time last year they had one single, and were playing shows where they could, no matter how small and secluded the venue. Now, they have a few singles and a full-length album under their belt, and have recently supported Fall Out Boy on a recent UK tour, and are currently on one of their now many UK headlining tours, selling out their show tonight at Manchester Academy 2.

Along for the ride they’ve brought similar pop-punk bands to fit the bill, and Farewell (****) aren’t ones to disappoint either, even forcing the audience to make a small circle pit at one point. They constantly chat, banter, and interact with the crowd to get them involved with the fun and catchy music they make. Their set of material is densely filled with chorus hooks and memorable vocal lines that the crowd easily and happily sing back to, pulling out songs like ‘Hey Heather’, ‘Zelda’, and ‘First One On The Blog’ to keep them warmed up and excited for the two acts to follow after them. It helps that the band are as energetic and pumped as they want their spectators to be, and their charismatic nature combined with such onstage enthusiasm has no doubt secured them a few new fans.

Keeping the support bands American, Houston Calls (***) are the next band to show what they’ve got for this mainly teenage crowd. Having only recently released their latest full-length album, they have the slight disadvantage that not much of their newer material is engrained into the memory bank of their fans to help them sing-a-long and support them with, and this seems to show in the audience reaction to their show, with frontman Tom ‘Chitty’ Keiger asking every now and then “Are you guys gonna jump around and have some fun with us?”. Regardless of the crowd’s unwilling behavior, Houston Calls put in the effort and passion, with guitarist Jose Lopez and keyboardist ‘Okie’ Okamoto clearly giving it their all.

With the crowd warmed-up nicely, it’s high time that You Me At Six (***) took to the stage and shown their guns. Immediately the reaction to their appearance is intense, coming to the stage with a dramatic audio entrance of the famous piece ‘O Fortuna’ by Carl Orff (it’s used in the beginning of Jackass: The Movie along with many other things). The wave of screams and applause is then fought back by the speakers blasting, with the band playing through songs from their recent full-length debut, such as ‘If You Run’ and ‘Save It For The Bedroom’, without failing to have most every word sung back to the band. Though their efforts are impressive to most band standards, it just seems that tonight the band are a little off from their usual standards, and perhaps holding back a bit than normal. Nevertheless, each song is performed with minimal flaws, and enough to create a circle pit taking up more than half of the venue floor during ‘If I Were In Your Shoes’. Set closer ‘The Rumour’ to end the night goes down a treat, with most people singing back “Hold your hands into the air. Hold your hands as if you care” whether they’re into the band or not, or if they’ve not even heard the song before.

You Me At Six have gone a long way in such a short space of time, so who knows where they’ll be this time next year. They may have to step up their game a little bit if they wish to progress as greatly in such a short space of time as they have done so far.

Written by Zach Redrup

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