500 Word Review: Primal Rite “Sensory Link To Pain”

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Recently I’ve gotten back into thrash metal by listening to both classic bands like Metallica and Slayer and newer bands like Skeletonwitch and Eternal Champion.  However, through listening to the new era of thrash metal, I was able to discover a recently formed band, Primal Rite, who combine influences from hardcore punk and thrash metal to embody a hard-hitting, completely abrasive thrash metal sound that is simply addicting.  Last month, the San Francisco based metal band released their latest EP, “Sensory Link To Pain”, which showcases the group’s stellar, most recent sound.

The EP begins with a sinister, ominous sound of guitar feedback slowly fading in, leaving the listener anxious and at the edge of their seat as to what is coming next. Suddenly, the whole band enters and a wailing, distorted guitar, pummeling drums, rattling bass, and of course aggressive, hatred filled vocals create the title track, “Sensory Link To Pain”. Sporadic section changes with heavy, yet intriguingly groovy riffs encompass the entire EP with only a few moments of chugging riffs at a slower tempo to give the listener some kind of breathing room in between the chaos filled parts heard throughout each track.

These slower tempo sections can easily become highlights of tracks, however, as the near breakdown heard on “Is It Me?” becomes the most memorable part of the entire track and is easily the catchiest riff you will hear in Primal Rite’s latest project. This hardcore influenced breakdown perfectly exemplifies Primal Rite’s raw, bone-snapping sound of hardcore influenced thrash metal. The project itself, which comes in at just under 8 minutes, leaves its audience feeling like they got hit by a train of pure hardcore and thrash metal, as the project ends just as abruptly as it began with the fast tempo, mosh pit inducing riffs on “Primal Discipline” transitioning directly into the same eerie guitar tone heard at the beginning of “Sensory Link To Pain” slowly fading out. This Primal Rite EP is in your face hardcore thrash metal done right and is full with non-stop, unrelenting heaviness from start to finish.

In summation, this is metal, simply put. Everything from the harsh vocals, to the phenomenal guitar riffing to the upbeat, old school thrash metal inspired drum beats purely encompasses what the new era of thrash metal is all about. The only gripe I have with this project is that it sounds a little too much like Power Trip, who happen to be the most prominent modern hardcore influenced thrash metal band, and my personal favorite thrash metal band as well. I’m sure over time Primal Rite will find their signature style and sound in this crossover subgenre of punk and thrash metal, but their latest material still resembles, and is inspired by, the Texas based act in a very prominent way. However, if you listen to older Counterparts material, you can hear how it is directly influenced by Misery Signals, so it’s not a huge concern to seem Primal Rite paying tribute to the sound of the act they most likely look up to, especially since sounding like Power Trip is far from being an insult. I give “Sensory Link To Pain” an 8.6/10 and highly suggest that you check this EP out by the soon to be household name, Primal Rite.

 

“Sensory Link To Pain”:

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500 Word Review: Jeff Caudill “Voice/Wishing Well”

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For those who might not be familiar with Jeff Caudill, he is the frontman for the notable punk band, Gameface.  Singing for the band since the early 90s, and also being apart of the group, Your Favorite Trainwreck, since 2012, Caudill has established himself as an accomplished artist within the punk scene for decades.  However, it’s the recent release of two tracks as a solo artist that has caught my attention.  The tracks “Voice” and “Wishing Well”, which are Sense Field and Black Sabbath covers, have been recorded to fit the style of Caudill’s solo material with all proceeds earned from the two singles being donated to the family of Jon Bunch.

Photo by Todd Fixler

After listening to the 2 song project entirely, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the instrumental tracks embodying a soothing and well recorded sound.  The vocals from Caudill himself are very clear in quality and intertwine well with these superb instrumental tracks.  Starting with “Voice”, in Jeff Caudill’s version of the song, the track starts off very bland, but begins to steadily improve as Jeff fleshes out the track further and further. The use of multiple electric and acoustic guitar tracks, keyboard, bass, and percussion tracks, and even doubled tracked vocal sections that slowly emerge as the song progresses truly strengthens the song. In a similar way to how Sense Field originally recorded the track, Caudill starts off with only a handful of individual tracks and builds upon this base gradually as the song goes on.  Even though Caudill’s version is very similar to Sense Field’s original recording, I actually like Jeff’s version a little better, as it is able to embody the distinct power that the original track features without bombarding the listener with noise.  The use of varying acoustic instruments and better recorded vocals give it a more fuller sound that is not heard on the original version. Essentially, “Voice” is a song that starts off simplistic and gradually adds different parts brick by brick until you hear the true, full sounding composition.

“Wishing Well”, the Jeff Caudill version that is, starts off in a very similar way that “Voice” does.  An intricately strummed acoustic guitar matched with a vocal track, that I have mixed opinions about, are the only two instruments heard when we initially hear the first few measures of the song. “Wishing Well” also fits “Voice’s” structure of gradually adding parts, but instead of constantly adding more layers of instrumentation, “Wishing Well” adds a single piano track, a single percussion track, and only double tracks the vocals in sections where Jeff sees that it is necessary to fit the delivery of the specific lines sung. The rhythmic flow of the song itself and the calm, melodic guitar riffs give the song a dreamy sound that I really enjoy in “Wishing Well” that also reminds me of mid to late 90s Bush material. This is slightly different from “Voice”, which has more of an upbeat, sing-a-long structure that is also something I’m fond of.  When comparing Jeff’s version to the original Black Sabbath track, it’s clear that the two versions are polar opposites, as the Black Sabbath recording is more harsh and in your face, and at some points, even reminds me of Creedence Clearwater Revival, which is fairly odd considering this song was written by one of the first metal bands to exist.  There are some notable similarities, however, as the chorus in Jeff Caudill’s version matches the melodic, close to anthem sounding, structure heard in the original and each version features a powerful delivery of the meaningful lyrics that make up “Wishing Well”.

Even though I am really not a huge fan of the vocal melodies heard on these two songs, how Jeff uses the powerful lyricism in the original tracks to relate to his personal life is fantastic and helps explain why he chose to cover these two tracks.  The purpose behind this project is to pay tribute to Jeff’s late friend, Jon Bunch, who was the vocalist of Sense Field.  After his death last year, Jeff Caudill has put together these two songs, which lyrically are dedicated to him, in order to pay tribute to the singer and close friend while also donating the profits made to Bunch’s family.  Hearing the somber, sincere sadness in his voice mix with the powerful lyricism in both “Voice” and “Wishing Well” elevates this project to something truly memorable.  Lyrics like “And I want to hear it again that it’s going to be all right” and “Look in the water, tell me what do you see reflections of the love you give to me” truly resonate with the listener and help connect with the emotions Jeff is expressing in these two tracks.

Overall, while I was not a huge fan of the overall sound of the covers, their meaning and how they were recorded are truly phenomenal.  I give the project a 7.5/10 and highly suggest that you take 6 min out of you day to listen to and appreciate this release from Jeff Caudill.  The songs are attached below and check back in later this week for more reviews due out very soon!

 

“Voice”:

“Wishing Well”:

Breaking News: A Lot Like Birds Release Music Video For New Single “The Sound of Us”

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Shortly after releasing the first single for their upcoming album, “DIVISI”, A Lot Like Birds have another new single and music video to further build anticipation for the fourth full length studio album by the Sacramento based post hardcore band.  This latest single, titled “The Sound of Us”, showcases a better understanding of how diverse this album will be in composition while also giving ALLB fans a general idea of this new sound and song structure that A Lot Like Birds will encompass for years to come.

In my opinion, this track significantly resembles A Lot Like Birds’ older sound through certain aspects heard throughout “The Sound of Us”.  For starters, the sporadic and complex song structure is very similar to what is heard on “DIVISI’s” predecessor, “No Place”.  Even the use of various odd time signatures and artfully crafted instrumental performances easily sound like tracks heard on ALLB’s last two full length releases.  What differs “The Sound of Us” from these two records, however, is the absence of aggressive, even quirky sections that used to be prominent features in A Lot Like Birds tracks.  I for one think this is a reflection of positive improvement in songwriting, as the substitute of melodic, harsh vocal excluding influences replaces this hardcore/metalcore inspired aggressiveness that was both odd and, in my opinion, the sole aspect of ALLB’s material that held them back for the last few years.  Even though diehard fans might disagree with me and claim that this aggressive song structure is what brought ALLB to prominence, I believe this new sound heard in “For Shelley (Unheard)” and “The Sound of Us” is one that better fits the band itself and will have even more successful results than their sophomore and third full length albums.

Even though I still enjoy “For Shelley (Unheard)” a little more than “The Sound of Us”, due to it’s passionate and well thought out lyricism and overall anthemic structure that the song exemplifies, “The Sound of Us” is still a fantastic song.  Coming out of the gates with a fast paced tempo and technical yet melodic composition, “The Sound of Us” instantly grabs your attention and keeps you dialed in from start to finish.  This is also the first track released off “DIVISI” that features sections where Matt Coate is singing on his own.  This contrast and back-and-forth tag-team like approach to vocal tracking is something I instantly love and think will become one of the most memorable parts of “DIVISI”.  However, even though these two songs have been phenomenal singles, I still believe that “Trace the Lines” will completely steal the show once it is finally released!

The music video for “The Sound of Us” is attached below.  One thing I have noticed so far is that the “DIVISI” music videos appear to be well thought out and directed masterfully, with each one full of symbolism, fantastic actors, and even visual features that help enhance their respective tracks greatly.  I’m not sure how many music videos are left to be released for “DIVISI”, but if they follow this pattern step up by “For Shelley (Unheard)” and “The Sound of Us” then there’s no reason why they won’t be phenomenal.  Personally, I would love to see a video album to go alongside “DIVISI”, however the budget needed to accomplish this would be insanely high and is pretty much not feasible.  Regardless, this album is destined to be one of the best releases of 2017, even if you’re still reluctant to admit this, and A Lot Like Birds will benefit from this evolved sound more so than if they continued on the same path as “Conversation Piece” or “No Place”.  Essentially, A Lot Like Birds was very successful and accomplished before Kurt Travis joined and they adopted the more aggressive sound, and they will continue to find success without either one of these features.  Let us know what you think of “The Sound of Us” and stay tuned for more updates about A Lot Like Birds and their upcoming album, “DIVISI”.

 

“The Sound of Us”:

500 Word Review: West Berlin “104”

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The latest release from West Berlin is their single “104”, which is featured on their recently released split with Bottomfed. This is the third release in their discography following their debut EP, “The Northern Misery” and single “Age”. Personally, I’m a huge fan of “The Northern Misery” and honestly believe this group has a bright future ahead of them in the melodic hardcore scene, and “104” is simply put a continuation of their excellence.

“104” greatly resembles the sound heard on “The Northern Misery”. Their signature guitar sound and chugging riffs accompanied by unique harsh vocals and occasional lead guitar melodies have helped distinguish West Berlin from the rest of the noise in the hardcore scene. Also, I personally am glad to see the Syracuse based punk band continue in the direct exemplified in “The Northern Misery” compared to what was heard on their previous single, “Age”, which in my opinion is fairly sub-par and does not showcase West Berlin’s fantastic songwriting that they’re known for. “104” starts off with a melodic, almost melancholy guitar intro that helps bring in the rest of the instruments and members to the track. My initial thought after hearing the first verse is that it is beautifully written, and could easily find its way onto the phenomenal “The Northern Misery” EP, however I believe that track could sound even better at a faster tempo. The song itself is extremely melodic, but at some points in the first verse I personally think the track is dragging and slightly sluggish. However, this is only a minor critique and does not take away from the superb first half of this song. The chorus, on the other hand, is absolutely addictive. It shows hints of influence from Counterparts, yet has enough signature sound to be easily recognized as West Berlin. Even the pinched harmonics before the second chorus help create a well-written melodic hardcore chorus that is extremely memorable. Finally, the two breakdown-esque bridges heard after each chorus are without a doubt superb. Resembling riffs heard on “Hell Is Black” from “The Northern Misery”, these two chugging riffs add a near beatdown element that I absolutely love about West Berlin’s music. These melodic, mosh-pit inducing, skull-crushing riffs are something that any hardcore fan will love and is something that West Berlin has mastered to say the least.

In conclusion, “104” is yet another fantastic song by the up and coming melodic hardcore band, West Berlin. If you live anywhere in the Northeastern part of the US you need to see these guys live at a show. If the Syracuse act can continue to release projects like “104” and “The Northern Misery” then I can’t imagine why this band won’t become a household name in the next few years. I give “104” an 8.5/10 and if you haven’t yet, go check out the single attached below! Of course, let us know what you think of the track and stay tuned for more reviews and content due out this week.

“104”:

Breaking News: Obey the Brave Announce New Upcoming Album “Mad Season”

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Montreal/Ottawa based hardcore group Obey the Brave have recently announced that they will be releasing their third full length record, “Mad Season”, on June 2nd.  Featuring a unique style of hardcore punk fronted by Despised Icon’s own, Alex Erian, Obey the Brave have established themselves as a prominent hardcore band since their formation in 2011.  The album, set to be released on Epitaph Records, is the first release since their 2014 sophomore album, “Salvation”, and is also the first release from the Canadian outfit since their significant lineup changes.  The new material will feature Terrence McAuley and Cory Wilson’s first recorded performances as members of the group, which should reflect heavily on the sound we’ve heard from Obey the Brave in past releases.  Unfortunately, as of right now a single has yet to be released for “Mad Season”, however once it does we’ll be sure to attach it at the bottom of the post!  In the meantime, the album’s track listing has been attached below.

Personally, I wasn’t too thrilled with “Salvation”, so seeing new members join the Canadian hardcore band is a great sign in my opinion.  Being a huge Despised Icon fan, I’ve personally stayed up to date with Alex Erian’s musical projects, especially after hearing Obey the Brave’s widely successful first full length album, “Young Blood”, shortly after it’s 2012 release.  However, “Salvation” seemed to sound like a slightly lesser version of their phenomenal debut record and didn’t leave the same lasting impression on me that “Young Blood” did.  In fact, with Obey the Brave’s inactivity over the last year and Despised Icon’s return with “Beast” and their frequent touring, I thought that Obey the Brave was finished, at least for the near future.  This recent news of new members and new material, however, has me very excited to hear the possible redemption to the somewhat disappointing record, “Salvation”.  Of course, when the album is released a review of the record will be posted here, so stay tuned for more posts regarding Obey the Brave!

 

“Mad Season” Tracklisting:

1. On Thin Ice

2. Drama

3. On Our Own

4. Mad Season

5. 97 Again

6. Les Temps Sont Durs

7. Low Key

8. Feed The Fire

9. The Distance

10. Way It Goes

11. RIP

12. This Is It

Track of the Day Tuesday: TROUBLED COAST Patient Hands

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Today, the song you need to check out is Troubled Coast’s “Patient Hands”.  Troubled Coast are a melodic hardcore/aggressive pop punk band out of Berkeley, California, and to be honest, I just found out about this band only a few hours ago.  Recently I was on Merchnow browsing for new vinyl to pick up and I stumbled upon the remaining Troubled Coast records that were on sale.  The vinyl was so insanely cheap I had to check them out and possibly buy a copy.  After listening to their material I can without a doubt say that this EP, “I’ve Been Thinking About Leaving You”, is stellar!  The EP, which was released through Pure Noise Records in 2011, features a similar sound to Being As An Ocean, Hotel Books, Balance and Composure, and even Such Gold.  In fact, if you like any of BAAO’s melodic hardcore song structure intertwined with catchy choruses, you will love “Patient Hands”, especially since it sounds like it could easily be heard on Being As An Ocean’s self titled record.  Unfortunately the band broke up in 2013 and have since pursued other musical projects.  Even though the band is defunct, please give them a listen, and even pick up a record if you like what you hear as I’m sure the former members would be ecstatic to see people still enjoy their music.  I personally will be buying some of their vinyl this week and you should to!

“Patient Hands”, my favorite song by Troubled Coast so far, is attached below.  The group still has a somewhat active Facebook page, so be sure to give them a like, check out their new projects, or even send them a message letting them know how much you enjoy their discography!  Regardless, “Patient Hands” is without a doubt the “Track of the Day Tuesday” this week and is a song you definitely need to hear.  Stop by later this week for more reviews and music content!

Troubled Coast on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/TroubledCoast/

Troubled Coast vinyl:

http://merchnow.com/catalogs/troubled-coast

“Patient Hands”:

The Thursday Ten: 11/15/16

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For those who visit Erik’s Album Reviews regularly, you will know that the staff has been very busy for the last two weeks.  Because of this we unfortunately missed the last two “The Thursday Ten” segments.  However, last week we announced that in order to make up for this lack of album ratings, we will give 20 album ratings for this week’s installment rather than the usual 10!  This week’s post features various releases over multiple genres covering everything from Black Metal to EDM.  Even though twice as many releases are feature in this installment, the rules to “The Thursday Ten” haven’t changed, and of course, we encourage you to check out every album listed on any of the major music streaming platforms.  Let us know what you think of the ratings, which albums you want us to rate next, and don’t forget to check out the previous installment to “The Thursday Ten”.  Here is this week’s post:

  1. Skeletonwitch – The Apothic Gloom EP: 8/10
  2. The Acacia Strain, Thy Art Is Murder, and Fit For An Autopsy – The Depression Sessions: 9/10
  3. Power Trip/Integrity Split EP: 7/10
  4. Dan Mason – Summer Love: 7/10
  5. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool: 7/10
  6. Aborted – Termination Redux EP: 8/10
  7. Lamb of God – The Duke EP: 7/10
  8. Jason Richardson – I: 8/10
  9. bl00dwave – Distance: 8/10
  10. Defeater – Abandoned: 8/10

 

  1. Mac Miller – The Divine Feminine: 8/10
  2. Blink-182 – California: 8/10
  3. Balance and Composure – Light We Made: 8/10
  4. Moose Blood – Blush: 8/10
  5. Wakrat – Wakrat: 4/10
  6. Tesseract – Polaris: 7/10
  7. A Day To Remember – Bad Vibrations: 6/10
  8. Adventure Club – Red // Blue: 5/10
  9. PZA – AMERICAN RITUALS: 9/10
  10. Vaerbitt – Tid: 9/10

The previous “The Thursday Ten”:

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/the-thursday-ten-112416/