Breaking News: Thy Art Is Murder Announce New Album and Release New Single

Thy_Art_Is_Murder_dear_desolation

Late last week, deathcore titans, Thy Art Is Murder, released a brand new single to accompany their upcoming fourth studio album, “Dear Desolation”, which will be released on all platforms August 18th.  The new album, whose sinister artwork can be seen above, is the first album by the group since vocalist CJ McMahon’s brief exit/re-entry with the band.  Despite the internal struggles the band has gone through recently, the sound of the band has been unwavering, and is debatably better than ever.

“Slaves Beyond Death” is the first track released from the upcoming album and it is a great first impression. A fast tempo, chug heavy track filled with a plethora of death growls pretty much sums up the near 4 minute long TAIM track.  Besides being a little too repetitive, I believe “Dear Desolation”, based off what has been heard on “Slaves Beyond Death” alone, has the potential to be the greatest, or at least the second greatest, Thy Art Is Murder album in their discography.  What truly is the most significant aspect of track, that might also reflect on the entire album, is that it seems to be a “transition” track that could showcase Thy Art Is Murder moving from a deathcore genre to a straight up death metal genre.  This genre bridge by an album, which Job For A Cowboy exemplified early on in their career, could be what “Dear Desolation” is remembered for, and if so, the anticipation for the fourth studio album by the Australian metal act would be through the roof.  Personally, I would love to see TAIM eventually become a death metal band, but until more sure to be fantastic singles are released, the speculation of how the band’s sound will evolve will have to be based off just one superb first impression.

The first single, “Slaves Beyond Death”, is attached below!  Of course, as we get closer to “Dear Desolation’s” release date, more reviews and news about the album will be posted here, so stay locked in to Erik’s Album Reviews.  Give the first single a listen, let us know what you think in the comments below, and stay tuned for more reviews and news due out this week!

 

“Slaves Beyond Death”:

Breaking News: The 2017 Summer Slaughter Tour Lineup and Dates Have Been Announced

34-og

Recently, one of the heaviest touring festivals in extreme music, or as they like to brand themselves, “The Most Extreme Tour of the Year”, has finally announced their lineup and tour dates for the 2017 summer.  The Summer Slaughter tour, which is primarily run and funded by Sumerian Records and Sumerian Films (explains why the film “American Satan” is funding the tour and why there are multiple Sumerian bands on nearly every Summer Slaughter lineup), will run from July 27th until August 26th and will feature some of the biggest names in deathcore and death metal.

Personally, while I am a huge fan of literally every artist on this year’s bill, I am slightly disappointed to see a lack of diversity in the lineup.  Featuring a plethora of big name deathcore bands, and including some accomplished death metal acts with the likes of Origin, The Black Dahlia Murder, the Faceless, and of course, Dying Fetus, the Summer Slaughter tour is perfectly fit for one specific group of extreme music fans.  If you like the more aggressive styles of deathcore and modern death metal, then this tour is a dream come true.  However, for the metal fans that listen to a wide variety of heavy music, the streamlined roster may be slightly disappointing when comparing the 2017 lineup to past ones.  For example, the 2008 lineup featured a vast group of metal bands with everything from Vader to Cryptopsy, Aborted to Whitechapel, Despised Icon to Born of Osiris, and The Black Dahlia Murder to the Faceless.  In comparison, only 5 years ago in 2012, the Summer Slaughter lineup featured GoatWhore, Exhumed, and Periphery, and even featured Between the Buried and Me going on stage right before the headliner, Cannibal Corpse!  This extreme variation in styles of metal and sizes of recognition and fan base within the metal community exemplifies how diverse the Summer Slaughter lineup can get.  While this year’s lineup is sure to feature great live bands who are some of the heavyweights in their respective genres and are guaranteed to bring in some of the greatest ticket sales the tour has ever seen (due of course to their relevancy and more “radio friendly” sound compared to other artists in past lineups), the lack of true metal diversity is hopefully a trend that does not stick with the annual Summer Slaughter tour.

2008’s lineup:

94b941a1203c4f9ccf80fffc09660a76.jpeg

2012’s lineup:

summer_slaughter_2012_by_caedus666-d4wxrbe

This is, however, the first year that I am a big fan of every artist on the roster.  This, of course, means I will be able to witness hours upon hours of my favorite deathcore and death metal bands play live in a row, but will unfortunately prevent me from discovering new artists that I might become extremely found of, like how I became a huge fan of Beyond Creation after seeing them on the 2015 Summer Slaughter tour.  The full tour poster for the 2017 tour is attached below.  To see complete lineups, visit your local venue’s website to see what local bands will also find a spot on the festival’s date nearest you!  Also, maybe next year we will finally see a black metal band play the Summer Slaughter tour, but until then, enjoy the greatest deathcore and death metal roster the Summer Slaughter tour has ever created!

summer-slaughter-2017-with-the-faceless

Breaking News: Chris Cornell Has Passed Away at the Age of 52

maxresdefault-9-1

Before I discuss the tragic news of the death of grunge legend Chris Cornell, I want to mention the lack of content at Erik’s Album Reviews lately. For the past month and a half, the staff at Erik’s Album Reviews have dealt with serious issues involving school, family, and other personal situations that forced us to take time away from the website. We apologize to our fans for not having content for a long period of time, but we hope we can get back to providing all of you with daily content immediately! We are very grateful for your support and are excited to share with you new reviews, news stories, YouTube videos, and more!

During our extended break from writing last month, some absolutely crushing news made headlines across the globe. While standing outside my apartment at 3:30 am in the rain waiting for a shuttle to pick me up to take me to the airport, I decided to check my Twitter feed only to see that moments before checking my phone, grunge legend, and a simply impeccable artist who I looked up to for years, Chris Cornell, had passed away. In the first few hours of May 18th, I was completely stunned. I couldn’t believe that at only 52, Chris Cornell was dead. I couldn’t believe that the iconic singer, who seemed healthy and well at the time, abruptly passed away. I couldn’t believe that the singer who made Soundgarden and Audioslave so important to me growing up will never get to take the stage again and do what he loves to do. It was a complete shock that left me stunned in disbelief to say the least. 

According to reports following his death, it appears that the cause of death for Cornell was suicide. Personally, I’d much rather focus on the beautiful life of Chris Cornell than the painful reasons as to why the singer is dead, so in rememberance of the Seattle singer, please give a listen to the two tracks below.

The first is “Gasoline” by Audioslave. Growing up, Rage Against the Machine were sacred to me. Their agressive lyricism and mind numbingly perfect songwriting helped RATM become one of the most impactful bands in my life. That being said, discovering Audioslave, which of course features everyone from RATM besides Zach de la Rocha and has Chris Cornell on vocals, was extremely significant to me and my initial discovery of my favorite artists, and “Gasoline” was the reason for that specific musical discovery. The track itself is upbeat, catchy, well written, and of course heavy, and listening to it today is essential! 

The other track is of course “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden. Like most Soundgarden fans, the first track I ever heard by the legendary band was “Black Hole Sun” and it instantly made me a huge fan of the group. The eerieness of the track and the creepy, imminent doom portrayed in the lyrical meaning of the song despite its light vocal delivery was unlike anything I had heard at the time and was captivating to put it simply. After about a half hour of searching I found what is probably Chris’s best performance of the song live (attached below). You’ve probably heard the song countless times before, but I still suggest that you take a few minutes to revisit the classic song. 

Despite the sad news of Cornell’s death, we have more positive articles due out very soon at Erik’s Album Reviews, so stay tuned, and of course, RIP Chris Cornell you will truly be missed.
Audioslave’s “Gasoline”:

Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” live:

500 Word Review: Kendrick Lamar “DAMN.”

kendrick-lamar-damn_1

“DAMN.” was not made for the layman. There aren’t as many straight jams compared to “good kid, m.A.A.d city,” and the tracks that do qualify as such aren’t as instantly memorable as “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” and its kind. However, this does not lessen the greatness of this album; it just takes time to appreciate. Unlike most popular music, this record focuses on its role as art first, and entertainment second. Unfortunately, its artistic themes take work to understand. Kendrick should not expect the average listener to do a close reading analysis of his lyrics to fully enjoy his music, but “DAMN.’s” popularity shows he can do just that.

Kendrick is still a superb lyricist unrivaled in skill, and so his album’s concepts are explored seamlessly. It discusses the apparent discrimination, or even damnation, towards Black Americans, and a list of emotions and their relationship to the traits of wickedness and weakness. He relates the symbolic curse towards African Americans to the biblical smiting of the Israelites for betraying God. The blindness of white people and the inability of blacks to return from wickedness to weakness are his proposed explanations of the continued plight of Black Americans’ treatment and prejudice by other Americans of different racial backgrounds. In “BLOOD.” he calls attention to the failure of whites to recognize the challenges African Americans face, sampling a shameful FOX news report, and symbolizes this ignorance with a blind woman in his narrative. “DNA.” illuminates the difficulty of abandoning wickedness by simply being being born black, born into what he describes as a “sinful culture”. The power of vicious cycles is further explored in “LUST.”. Specifically, Kendrick argues that people resent change and lust for routine. Even in the face of sudden external changes like the election of Trump, lives on an individual level hardly change, hence the tragedy of the African American struggle. Kendrick stays away from the high levels of braggadocio, common in rap, apart from its satirical use in songs like “HUMBLE.” He balances the volume of such songs depicting wickedness with an equal number dissecting his own weaknesses. The album closes out with “DUCKWORTH.”, which completely illuminates Kendrick’s brilliant ideas. His rapping skill is just as impressive as his detailed concepts. Simply put, he may be the best rapper alive and the album reflects that; there isn’t need to deliberate further.

“DAMN.” has a different style than Kendrick’s previous work. The production is simpler, cleaner, and easier to appreciate than the volume of activity in TPAB. There are trap and pop influences, like the beat in “DNA.”, and multiple featured singers, but they are in good taste. One of my few complaints about the album is regarding its sampling. All the samples are very cool, but are misused in a few places. In “DUCKWORTH.”, the first syllable of the word “darling” is sampled and loudly repeated on the upbeat, competing with Kendrick’s rapping. It is jarring and confusing as to why it was included. Apart from this flaw, and a couple of repetitive hooks like the one in “HUMBLE.”, this album is difficult to criticize. Overall it is an exceptional and original work of art with significant ideas.

 

Score: 8.5/10

 

Album Review by Zachary Norton, May 2017

Breaking News: Of Mice and Men Release New Single and Perform Live For the First Time Since Austin Carlile’s Departure

of mice and men 2017

In case you missed it, in the last few days of 2016 iconic frontman, Austin Carlile, of the successful metalcore act, Of Mice & Men, departed the group due to ongoing medical concerns that prevented him from being a full time member of the band.  The shocking news that the beloved singer would be leaving behind the group he started quickly spread across the metalcore community.  We covered the story here at Erik’s Album Reviews, and if you haven’t had a chance to read our post about it, you can do so now!

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2017/01/01/breaking-news-austin-carlile-leaves-of-mice-and-men/

Shortly after this departure of Carlile, the band was bombarded with questions about how they would continue, and if they would at all.  For those who don’t remember, there was a short period in time, between 2010 and 2011, when Austin Carlile was also not apart of the group and Jerry Roush (Sky Eats Airplane and Glass Cloud) was the main vocalist of the band.  This Roush fronted OM&M only released one cover track of “Blame It”, originally recorded by Jamie Foxx, however it still stood as proof that the group can continue their successes without Carlile as a member of the band.

So, because of this, Of Mice & Men announced early this year that they would continue on as a band and still proceed to write new music.  What is most interesting, however, is that the group decided not to hire a new vocalist and instead promote Aaron Pauley, who previously played bass and sung “clean” vocals for the band, to the frontman, who would perform all vocals while playing bass.  This conversion to a four piece was very interesting to say the least, and despite not following the band as attentively as I used to years ago, I was extremely intrigued to see how the band would do with this new structure.

After a long wait, on April 23rd, with the help of Rise Records, Of Mice & Men released their latest single, “Unbreakable”, featuring the new setup to their lineup.  To be completely honest, this is the first Of Mice & Men track I’ve thoroughly enjoyed in years.  It sounds a lot like the material heard on “Restoring Force”, yet there is a slightly more aggressive and heavier influence heard in this track that was absent, for the most part, on the more recent material.  I’m also shocked at how well Pauley has been handling the harsh vocals for Of Mice & Men on this track.  Not only is his delivery similar to that of Austin Carlile, but I wasn’t even aware that he was capable of this performance, as his harsh vocals for his previous band, Jamie’s Elsewhere, aren’t exactly proficient to say the least.  The lyricism definitely is not stunning, but I can’t remember a time in Of Mice & Men’s history where their lyricism was stellar, so this aspect really does not hurt the band at all.

After hearing the new track I was pleasantly surprised, however, the question of would their live performance live up to such high standards was something I was dying to find an answer to.  Of Mice & Men have been known to put on intense shows that not only are entertaining, but feature a lot of movement and fan interaction, especially since Carlile, who was just a vocalist, was able to move freely across the stage/venue and was absolutely worshipped by fans, allowing his performance to be flawless through the eyes of Of Mice & Men fans.  Because of this, I was uncertain as to how the band would be able to maintain this level of adrenaline and excitement at their shows.  Luckily, one of Of Mice & Men’s first performances without Austin Carlile took place, on April 22nd, the day before the “Unbreakable” music video was released and live footage from fans almost instantly emerged on Youtube.  One of the first Carlile-less appearances from the band occurred at the outdoor festival, Las Rageous, which as you can imagine, takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The two tracks I saw performed live, through these live videos, were “Bones Exposed” and “The Depths”, which are two high energy, fan favorite songs that would serve as good examples as to whether or not the band can still be entertaining live.  After watching both videos, even though there was clearly a lack of movement and fan interaction, I can conclude that the performance, especially when evaluating Aaron Pauley and Alan Ashby’s vocal deliveries, was nearly perfect and the intensity and high energy aspects of Of Mice and Men’s live performance were still very prominent, despite not having a vocalist who is free to move around.  Unfortunately, the Las Rageous crowd was pretty dull, but the band themselves were very entertaining.

The new single, “Unbreakable”, and both live videos I watched are attached below.  Check them out and let us know what you think of them and this new era of Of Mice & Men.  We’ll keep you up to date on any updates about OM&M, so stay tuned for more metalcore content and other extreme music content due out very soon!

 

“Unbreakable”:

“Bones Exposed (live)”:

“The Depths (live)”:

500 Word Review: Azuresands 大麻 “Inner Journey”

inner journey

A few weeks ago, versatile vaporwave artist, Azuresands 大麻, released his latest project, “Inner Journey”.  For those who might not be familiar with the prominent electronic composer, Azuresands 大麻 has established a reputation of being one of the most innovative artists in the genre’s fairly brief history.  With the release of varying projects that not only directly contrast one another in theme, aesthetic, sound, composition, and influence, but also push the limits of vaporwave itself by creating new subgenres and concepts only imaginable by Azuresands 大麻 himself, Azuresands 大麻 continues to impress the rest of the vaporwave community while simultaneously leaving them on the edge of their seats in anticipation with what he will release next.  That being said, it’s no surprise to see “Inner Journey” recognized as one of the most significant albums in the genre to be released this year.

For this project, Azuresands 大麻 is working alone to create an ambient, atmospheric album.  Despite his recent success with collaborative projects like “Compass Rose” and “American Truck Songs 8”, Azuresands 大麻 is returning to writing solo work, and being a huge fan of not just vaporwave, but Azuresands 大麻 specifically, I was very excited to see how the accomplished artist would approach the album as far as composition goes.

For starters, I really enjoyed the diversity of this project. Every single song is distinct and can be recognized within the first few seconds of its playing time.  For example, in the first few measures of the project “Inner Journey” itself, an ominous, nearly inaudible bass is the foundation of a space, and of course, meditation themed ambient track, as the album slowly fades in, making this first track, “Waveswell”, instantly significant and recognizable. From here, the prominent project by Azuresands 大麻 will quickly change and transform as each track takes on a different sound, influence, and even persona, leaving the listener completely clueless as to what is about to come next.  In fact, the sound of the album constantly jumps around from the more traditional ambient vaporwave sound, to multi-layered synths and soundscapes in the form of atmospheric tracks, to even tracks that feature just percussion or vocal samples, which results in a fairly interesting project.  However, while this is fascinating to say the least, I believe that if Azuresands 大麻 narrowed down the core sound of the album itself and shortened the project to only feature the most memorable and well composed tracks heard, the entire project would strengthen as a whole, easily making “Inner Journey” one of the best vaporwave releases of the year.  What is consistent, however, is the integration of prominent altered samples featuring edited tempos and pitch changes, heavy use of reverb, often heard soundscapes that are a staple for this project, and the slight addition of echo effects that give these songs the distinct vaporwave sound and influence.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the spoken samples, like those heard on “Tacoshimi” and “Bummerman”.  The overwhelmingly loud samples distract the listener from the superb instrumental tracks through the use of slow, nonsensical ramblings that the album really does not need to be successful.  However, where these songs fail, tracks like “Heartglow” easily exemplify excellence and redeem the previous, underachieving songs.  After “Tacoshimi” finally comes to a close, “Heartglow” enters with utterly captivating and mesmerizing internationally influenced instrumental tracks.  This use of complex composition combined with inspiration from South American culture and music creates an overall sound that is not only catchy but also unlike anything I’ve ever heard in vaporwave before.  Intricate layering of numerous percussion instruments to the point where it sounds like an entire village is recording the track live in one take with simple, unique instruments makes “Heartglow” one of the most memorable Azuresands 大麻 songs in his discography.

Overall, this is definitely a must listen to Azuresands 大麻 project.  While it’s unlike any of his recent material, his experimentation with ambient vaporwave, while also adding in aspects unique to his personal sound, results in a very solid release.  With a track list featuring everything from songs that are unique compared to one another and sound nothing like their album counterparts to a heavy layering of soundscapes, synths, and the occasional light and pleasant arpeggiator heard from the first few measures of “Waveswell” until the last few moment of “Charismaring”, it’s clear that every prominent aspect heard works together collectively to truly make this a relaxing and interesting album.  I will say that the sound quality is pretty low on this project (and not because I listened to the album primarily on cassette tape) compared to my favorite vaporwave releases.  Although, after seeing the aesthetic on the album cover, the muddy recording that features a lack of clarity in sound quality seems to fit the overall theme of the project and doesn’t deteriorate my overall enjoyment of the release.  I give “Inner Journey” an 8.1/10 and highly suggest you listen to the tracks “Waveswell”, “Brookwhisperer”, “Halo Cubed”, “Heartglow”, “Barkcloth Tapestry”, “Many Hands of Fate”, “WishWash”, and “Wholeing”, as these make up the vast majority of the highlights heard throughout the album.  Also, be sure to pick up a copy of “Inner Journey” on cassette (seen below), especially since the tracks “Heartglow”, Osmosis”, “A Dusty Vhial”, and “Many Hands of Fate” have only been released on the cassette format and cannot be heard anywhere else!  Listen to the digital version of the Azuresands 大麻 record below, pick up a copy on cassette, and stay tuned for more vaporwave reviews out soon!

IMG_3886

“Inner Journey” cassette:

https://azuresands.bandcamp.com/album/inner-journey

“Inner Journey”: