It's starting to look like 2013 is the season of bands that do things that sound pretty much the same from release to release putting out new music that's the same as the old. Buckcherry is a solid band generally, although their last two releases have been pretty God-awful. Their latest release, CONFESSIONS, is far better than BLACK BUTTERFLY or ALL NIGHT LONG, but that's still not saying that they have regained the greatness they once showed with releases such as their 15 or their self-titled debut. While CONFESSIONS doesn't rival either of those releases, it does have some of the qualities that made both of those very listenable albums. In short, CONFESSIONS is a comeback of sorts for this working man's band.
There's just something about Sebastian Bach that's compelling. Sure, he comes off like a knob a lot of the time in the media, but at his core, he's really just a guy that loves making music and isn't ashamed to talk about it. Yes, he comes off like a fanboy at times; particularly when talking about his love for bands like Kiss and Guns N' Roses. But regardless of all that, the guy fronted one of the better bands from the '80s in Skid Row. For those of us that had the chance to see Skid Row back in the proverbial day, we all remember just how good Bach (and the rest of the band for that matter) was on stage during that time. Performing live has always been Bach's bread and butter. Now as a solo artist, it's still where he earns his stripes. While there's been some controversy about him going back and "fixing" the newly released ABACHALYPSE NOW, Bach does make a good point about this. He states that he doesn't want to put out a bad product when he can create something that people will replay for years to come. Fair enough. It's certainly worked for his idols Kiss. So why not?
THE DIVINITY OF PURPOSE
(Hatebreed Concert Tickets)
There are some bands that just get it. Hatebreed is one of those bands. Like clockwork, I know that when I'm presented with a brand new Hatebreed release, I'm going to like it. You know why? Because before I ever hear a single note of it, I'm 100% certain of what I'm going to hear. Without question, their uncompromising approach to hardcore has launched them past almost all of their peers in the genre. While there are definitely bands like Agnostic Front that will always get more love as the creators and innovators of this style of music, there's very little doubt that it was Hatebreed that took it to the widest range of fans. Sure, they don't sell a zillion copies of any album, but who does that makes metal these days? What Hatebreed does doe, with every release, is deliver integrity, big sound, and uncompromising lyrics. THE DIVINITY OF PURPOSE is just what you'd expect from Hatebreed, although it's a touch heavier than even their past work has provided. In short, THE DIVINITY OF PURPOSE kicks ass.
I know a great many people that hated Disturbed. They considered them to be a poser metal band. They hated vocalist David Draiman and his pompous attitude. They didn't like their hits. They called them formulaic. To be sure, Disturbed has taken every bit of the hatred that most metalheads throw at a band like Nickelback these days. Yet, whatever the case was, they still sold a lot of music. Maybe it was truly "teenagers and girls" that bought their music, but whatever it was, they moved product. Being a Disturbed fan myself, I was excited about the thoughts of this new project from Draiman. He claimed it to be very "Nine Inch Nails". It was claimed to be very heavy. It had all kinds of hype behind it. The result? Well, maybe it's just me, but it's pretty damn close to what you would expect from the next Disturbed release. There are subtle differences to the sound, but overall, there won't be a single Disturbed fan out there that will be put off by this release. In fact, I'd bet most of those that are just casual radio fans won't even know it's a new band.
I can't speak for everyone, but I like a little bit of weirdness in my music every once in awhile. Not all the time, but there are definitely times when I need something that just goes far beyond the scope of "traditional" sounding music. My collection is littered with bands like Mr. Bungle, Pygmy Love Circus, Dog Fashion Disco, Mindless Self Indulgence and the like. These bands definitely find their way to my player a lot, specifically when I'm in a bad mood and need something strange to listen to and give me a "what the fuck" moment. Certainly, these kinds of bands are not for everyone. If they are your speed though, you might want to add NorseLaw to your collection. Listening to their release MOON HUNTERS is kind of like if you took a room full of iPods, blew them up, and could listen to the individual pieces all mixed up into some sort of cohesive, strange collection of songs. To my ear, it's a lot of Mr. Bungle, a touch of Borknagar, and a lot of straight up experimentation that doesn't really define definition easily.
UNITED WORLD REBELLION: CHAPTER 1
Let's just be honest here. Skid Row has done themselves no favors since Johnny Solinger took over as the lead vocalist. They have put out two really subpar albums; subpar at least to those of us that were fans of their great past. I'm more giving than most, and even with that, I found both REVOLUTIONS PER MINUTE and THICKSKIN to be pretty much unlistenable (even though both did have a couple of tolerable moments). It's a shame too, because the band clearly can do some good things with Solinger, who doesn't sound like their old singer Sebastian Bach, but has enough of a "real rock" sound to fit well with their music (both the past stuff, and what they can do moving forward). If nothing else, listening to UNITED WORLD REBELLION: CHAPTER 1 seems to tell a story that the band finally understands what they need to be doing. By far, this is the best thing Skid Row has done since SUBHUMAN RACE.
30 YEARS: LIVE FROM THE SUNSET STRIP
There's a very awkward moment on 30 YEARS: LIVE FROM THE SUNSET STRIP wherein current vocalist Terry Ilous claims the night as a special night as the band has been together for 30 years. Sorry guys, I know the band has been around for all this time, but it REALLY is hard to accept Great White without Jack Russell at the helm. I really want to. Mark Kendall has been a friend for years, as has new vocalist Terry Ilous. But, being honest, their studio album without vocalist Jack Russell was very much outside the feeling one expects from a Great White album. That's not to say it was terrible, but there was a flair missing that just can't be replaced in the framework of what I consider to be Great White. Being honest, coming into this live release, I kind of had my doubts. Thankfully, the band captured a good performance. While it still doesn't have the bluesy flair that Jack Russell brought to the band, 30 YEARS: LIVE FROM THE SUNSET STRIP is a solid representation of what the band is today.
Six Feet Under
It's not at all hard to continue on the death metal journey that's known as Six Feet Under. Regardless of the band being fronted by the most significant growler this genre has ever seen, the band always delivers solid doses of high end heavy metal that, unlike most death metal, doesn't rely on hyperspeed to mask shoddy playing. To the contrary, I might call Six Feet Under the very original, true metalcore band in the sense that they brought a touch of melody to the sound and then mixed vocal brutality to that from day one. These days, damn near every single one of the new age metal bands does that, but back when Six Feet Under debuted, they were fairly unique upon themselves for doing just that. Certainly, the members of the band have changed along the way, but UNBORN simply continues the heritage Chris Barnes started with this band. In short, UNBORN is pretty much what we've all come to expect from Six Feet Under.
THE LIVING INFINITE
To be perfectly honest, I REALLY thought that Soilwork was dead and buried. Sure, I knew they were still a band and were still making music, but their last couple of releases were some of the biggest disappointments of a band that I truly love that I can think of. I couldn't have hated STABBING THE DRAMA or SWORN TO A GREAT DIVIDE more if they were hand delivered to me by a pedophile that had just finished raping my children. When you consider what masterpieces A PREDATOR'S PORTRAIT and NATURAL BORN CHAOS were from this band, and then hearing them reach aimlessly for commercial success by changing their sound, it was very disheartening in very much the same way that a band like In Flames let so many down with their transition to a soft modern metal act. Thankfully though, Soilwork has come storming back. While it's not quite a full return, THE LIVING INFINITE is by far the best release from this band in a decade.
BLACK OUT THE SUN
In 2013, there are not many bands where I actually get excited to hear they have a new release coming out. For a lot of reasons, the whole specter of a new release just doesn't get me anticipating things like it used to. In large part, it's because I get everything sent to me months in advance that takes away from the real excitement of a release. For a few bands though, I literally can't wait each and every time for new music. Sevendust is one such band. Without question, they are my favorite band of the modern era; a band criminally underappreciated when you consider that lesser bands like Disturbed and Korn surpassed them greatly in popularity throughout their respective runs. I'm so much of a fan that I'm traveling twice in a month to see them - once in Fort Wayne, Indiana and then a few weeks later in Columbus, Ohio. So, when BLACK OUT THE SUN was provided, you can bet your ass that it hit my iPod and stayed there for weeks.