LIFE & DEATH
Sometimes you hear a band, you can define their intention from the second you hear them. For some, you know they are looking to make as large a statement against anything mainstream as they can. For others, you can just sense the desire for radio airplay and mainstream success. With Blowsight, there's very little doubt that this band is looking for airplay. While that's not my hot point, there's definitely no denying that what they are doing can work if the right ears hear this. Listening to LIFE & DEATH, you can't help but hear this mixed into modern rock radio playlists.
THE PARADIGM SHIFT
Korn has always been one of those bands that either hits or misses with me. I've loved some of them (KORN, FOLLOW THE LEADER), and I've hated others (LIFE IS PEACHY, UNTOUCHABLES). Their last release, the dubstep flavored PATH OF TOTALITY, was pretty much unlistenable to me personally. It just turned into so much more of a Jonathan Davis solo project than anything else. For THE PARADIGM SHIFT, the band has returned to their roots in a lot of ways. They have brought back guitarist Head from his religious revival, and with him comes a lot of the older style flavor. While not perfect, THE PARADIGM SHIFT is one of the stronger releases from Korn in awhile.
Not that Alter Bridge has ever had any problem getting exposure, but there's no doubt that there will be more eyes and ears on FORTRESS than past efforts. Based solely on his extremely successful run with Slash, vocalist Myles Kennedy has all but assured a new segment of fans will be listening this time around. For many, that could be both good and bad. It could be a blessing to have a lot of new ears, but it could also be a curse for people looking for an album full of the bluesy swagger that comes out of Slash's six strings. Not that guitarist Mark Tremonti isn't a great guitarist (in fact, based solely on talent, I'd say he's actually better than Slash), but just not Slash. From his days in Creed to his more aggressive times now with Alter Bridge, Tremonti has always had more of a radio ready flavor which has won him a ton of fans and almost no favor amongst fans of harder edged rock and metal. With FORTRESS, this bridge may finally be crossed. New fans and old alike will agree that Alter Bridge may finally have found that edge that was missing.
Nine Inch Nails
Before getting to some words about the brand new Nine Inch Nails release HESITATION MARKS, let me first share my opinion of Trent Reznor and his career to date. Personally, I think he's an innovator and a genius. His past work, in my eyes, is some of the most creative and aurally challenging material ever recorded. Sure, some of it has been easy to digest. Certainly PRETTY HATE MACHINE and THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL were simple to digest when we were all in our 20s with a lot of angst. Other releases though, like THE FRAGILE, were akin to new age versions of Pink Floyd's THE WALL or Roger Waters' subsequent solo release THE PROS AND CONS OF HITCHHIKING; all releases that really made you concentrate as much on the whole concept as much as the more simple pieces of the story that were divided into songs. People are making a big deal about Reznor coming back right now after a five year hiatus. Most are forgetting that his hiatus came on the back of three consecutive subpar efforts (YEAR ZERO, GHOSTS and THE SLIP). Still, Reznor has returned with a release that's being dubbed as "a return to the sound of THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL".
Let's be honest. To the average person that hasn't been following along carefully, it's been hard to impossible to tell the difference between Drowning Pool and Soil for the last decade. Both have had multiple singers in their camp. Both have had Ryan McCombs as one of those singers. And both have released some fairly unmemorable work in the last 10 years. That said though, I'm the first to admit that I was a BIG fan of Soil with McCombs when they first came out. Their THROTTLE JUNKIES release was stellar, and while they traded down to be trendy on both their SCARS and REDEFINE releases, both were still enjoyable if you are accepting the musical style that dominated active rock radio in the early 2000s. Several releases with vocalist AJ Cavalier served as little more than times when people would hear their name and go, "oh, those guys are still around?" McCombs has returned, and the band has come charging back with WHOLE. While not as raw as their earliest days with THROTTLE JUNKIES or the EL CHUPACABRA EP, WHOLE is closer to the original sound than these guys have been in years.