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”:

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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/

The Thursday Ten: 10/20/16

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It’s Thursday which means it’s time for one of my favorite segments to write on Erik’s Album Reveiws: The Thursday Ten.  You guys should know the rules by now; every album is listened to 1-2 times and given a numerical, whole number score out of 10.  This week I chose a bunch of 2016 (and one 2015) releases that I really enjoy, so the ratings might not fluctuate that much and might appear inflated to a new reader.  However, if you read last week’s “The Thursday Ten”, which also happens to be posted below, then you will know that I don’t always give ratings this high.  All albums mentioned can be streamed on any of the major music streaming and distribution sites.  Give them a listen and let us know what you think of the ratings and what albums we should rate next below in the comments!

  1. Show Me A Dinosaur – Show Me A Dinosaur: 9/10
  2. Chance The Rappers – Coloring Book: 8/10
  3. Hotel Books – Run Wild, Stay Alive: 7/10
  4. In Hearts Wake and Northlane – Equinox: 8/10
  5. Little Brother – Cleveland, OH: 8/10
  6. Michael Barr – Back Home EP: 9/10
  7. Darkthrone – Artic Thunder: 8/10
  8. WHENINROME – Half – Hearted: 7/10
  9. Wormed – Krighsu: 8/10
  10. Pity Sex – White Hot Moon: 8/10

Last week’s “The Thursday Ten”:

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2016/10/14/the-thursday-ten-101316/

2015 Albums and EPs of the Year

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Since this site is mainly set up to review albums, it is pretty much expected that I make an AOTY post.  However, is it a little ridiculous to be posting one for 2015 during the last week in September?  Maybe.  But did I also just launch this site a few weeks ago and have nothing better to do?  Absolutely.  So despite the fact that there’s only 3 months left in 2016, here are my top 10 favorite albums and top 5 favorite EPs of last year.

EPs

1. The Glitch Mob – Piece of the Indestructible

2. Seven Lions – The Throes of Winter

3. Emarosa – Versus Reimagined

4. Altars – A Profound Respect For Life

5. Columbus – Home Remedy

 

Albums

1. Oceano – Ascendants

2. Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction

3. Dance Gavin Dance – Instant Gratification

4. Iwrestledabearonce – Hail Mary

5. Enter Shikari – The Mindsweep

6. Angelmaker – Dissentient

7. The Last Ten Seconds Of Life – Soulless Hymns

8. Kublai Khan – New Strength

9. The Story So Far – The Story So Far

10. Beach House – Depression Cherry

Honorable Mentions (In No Particular Order):

Hundredth – Free, The Wonder Years – No Closer To Heaven, Counterparts – Tragedy Will Find Us, Justin Bieber – Purpose, Strawberry Girls – American Graffiti, Crooks (UK) – Are We All the Same Distance Apart, Fit For An Autopsy – Absolute Hope Absolute Hell, Better Off – Milk, Purity Ring – Another Eternity, Black Tongue – The Unconquerable Dark, Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack U.

There are way too many releases and artists listed for me to go and individually discuss each one and their significance, so if there is an artist you’ve never heard of before or an album you haven’t listened to yet definitely go check it out!  This list took me a ridiculously long time to make, as you can tell by the extensive list of Honorable Mentions.  So regardless if an album made the top 10 or not be sure to give it a listen and let me know what albums and EPs you consider to be the best of 2015.  I promise that the 2016 AOTY list will not be released 10 months too late like the 2015 one.

500 Word Reviews: Stick To Your Guns “Better Ash Than Dust”

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Today Stick To Your Guns released their second EP ever called “Better Ash Than Dust”.  The EP is their latest material since 2015’s “Disobedient”.  The EP features 5 new tracks and showcases both musical growth and reference to past material.

I have been a fan of Orange County’s Stick To Your Guns since their release of 2010’s “The Hope Division”, and to this day I still consider that album and “Diamond” my two favorite STYG albums and consider them to be some of the most powerful hardcore albums I have ever heard.  However, I can honestly say that I was fairly disappointed with last years release of “Disobedient”.  I felt that the record was lacking and that while the direction they were taking musically was interesting, it failed to meet the standard that STYG has set over the years.  That being said I was a little hesitant to listen to this new release, especially when I assumed that they would be following the path previously set by “Disobedient”.  Fortunately, I was extremely wrong and was ecstatic after listening to “Better Ash Than Dust”.

Being only 16 minutes in length, I was able to listen to the EP 10 times over in order to truly form an analysis without having to spend hours upon hours simply listening.  One of the most prominent aspects I was able to take away from the EP was that it sounded like a perfect continuation from “The Hope Division” (“THD”) and “Diamond”, making it seem as if “Disobedient” never really occurred.  This to me was great as this EP served as the equalizing balance between STYG’s old sound and the progression and growth they have since adapted.

I was also pleased to hear that STYG still incorporates powerful, well thought out lyricism that accurately and professionally gets across the statements they are trying to make.  This first begins with using political sound bites that serve as sources to their arguments they are making throughout the release.  These sound bites occurred often and were extremely significant during “THD” and “Diamond” and I’m extremely glad they were incorporated into this EP.  Jesse Barnett’s impeccable lyricism is once again shown throughout the material and provides substance to each individual track.

And of course, the instrumentals heard throughout “Better Ash Than Dust” are phenomenal.  The hard-hitting riffs and melodic choruses and sections heard give the EP that jaw-breaking punch that makes track after track absolutely electric, and even makes me nostalgic to when I first heard tracks off of “THD” and “Diamond” and had that same zealous reaction.

Overall, “Better Ash Than Dust” features that blood-boiling, thought-provoking, monumental sound that Stick To Your Guns does best.  This is easily my 3rd favorite release by the band and might even surpass my two favorite albums by the band as well.  I have attached a link to the entire EP and I highly encourage you listen to it and buy the EP as well (I am about to buy the vinyl as I write this myself).  Stick To Your Guns is back and I couldn’t be happier.  In conclusion, I give “Better Ash Than Dust” a 9.4/10 and this will definitely be up there for one of the best, if not the best, EP released in all of 2016.

Vote Now for the 2017 Vans Warped Tour!!

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Once again, Vans Warped Tour is allowing fans to vote for 5 artists that they would like to see on next year’s lineup.  Even though bands like Sleeping With Sirens, Of Mice and Men, etc will probably receive the most votes out of anyone, this still allows smaller groups to receive a lot of votes and increase their chances of playing on the tour next year.  As of right now the only band confirmed for Vans Warped Tour 2017 is The Ghost Inside, leaving plenty of room for your favorite artist to join.  However, this year Warped Tour is also asking what were your 5 favorite groups you saw this year.  Now this is a hard question because while there were plenty of meh bands on the lineup, there was also a copious amount of simply amazing artists with a great live performance.  I personally took the survey and after about 10 minutes of serious contemplation of who I want to see and who were the best I saw, I came up with this list:

The Best of 2016

1.  Sum 41

My inner 14 year-old self still can’t believe I saw Sum 41 live.  One of my favorite bands of all time, Canadian punk rockers Sum 41, were back on the Warped roster this year and were easily the best band of the day.  Their insanely tight live set clearly proved why they make the big bucks and showed a clear difference between smaller modern punk bands and the titans that Sum 41 truly are.  From the minute they opened with “The Hell Song” I knew they would have the greatest set of the day, and this was definitely reassured when they played my all time favorite Sum 41 song, “In Too Deep”.  My only complaint is that there set was not long enough.

2.  Reel Big Fish

Reel Big Fish are one of the bands that I always heard about but never really checked out.  So when I was bored between sets at Warped this summer I decided to watch Reel Big Fish.  I was surprised at how great their set was, especially since they sounded flawless as a unit and actually had impressive vocals that were never off key.  Their cover of A-ha’s “Take On Me” immediately declared Reel Big Fish as one of the best bands on Warped 2016 and I’m absolutely looking forward to seeing them live again.

3.  Every Time I Die

After years of missing Every Time I Die shows I finally got to see them live.  As the last set of the night, Every Time I Die was the perfect way to end Warped Tour this year.  Playing classics like “We’rewolf” and “Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space” along with new singles off of “Low Teens”, Every Time I Die absolutely crushed it as one of the classic hardcore/straight up just heavy bands in the scene and will also be another group I will see again live.

4.  In Hearts Wake

Whenever Warped Tour, or any festival, holds a survey for what bands should attend next, I usually will vote for at least one of my favorite Australian or International bands, since playing festivals overseas can be extremely expensive and can also boost their careers as well.  This year I’m giving my vote to In Hearts Wake, a metalcore band out of Australia.  In Hearts Wake is another band that I have waited awhile to see live and was glad when they were announced for the 2016 lineup.  Having a prominent nature theme in both their music and stage presence, In Hearts Wake killed it this summer and if you haven’t listened to them before definitely give any of their material a listen.

5.  Waka Flocka Flame 

Flocka personally did not play my date of Warped but when I saw he was on the tour I was absolutely ecstatic.  I saw Riff Raff in 2015 and it was easily one of the greatest sets I’ve ever seen on Warped.  Personally, I think that rappers like Waka Flocka Flame, Riff Raff, etc are perfect for Warped Tour and are extremely entertaining, especially on Warped’s smaller stages.  In the future I really hope an artist like Lil Jon or even Lil B plays Warped Tour and helps create the greatest lineup the festival has ever seen.

Who Should Play in 2017

1.  Blink-182

I’m not sure if my mind would be able to handle seeing Blink play at Warped Tour but I really want to find out.  Following their latest release of “California” with Matt Skiba, this could very well be a possibility that Blink-182 follows Sum 41 in returning to warped Tour.  Blink is one of the bands that truly is Warped and embodies everything the festival stands for.  If they do play Warped Tour again, I truly feel bad for whatever artist has to play at the same time as them.

2.  Despised Icon 

Last year the dual Monster stages were introduced to allow more heavier acts to join the lineup.  With an expansion into more extreme music, why not add the pioneers of deathcore, Despised Icon.  The Black Dahlia Murder recently played the festival in 2013 and Whitechapel performed this year, so with Mayhem Fest being canceled, heavier acts like DI will need a festival to join so why not add them to Warped?

3.  Dance Gavin Dance

Probably one of my favorite bands of all time and also another band I have never seen live , Dance Gavin Dance, haven’t played Warped Tour since 2011.  Being one of the greatest modern post hardcore bands, DGD would be a great addition to Warped and would draw a huge crowd.  The hardest part would be to determine what songs off their impressive catalog should they play during the 30 min set that every band at Warped is usually given.

4.  Deafheaven

This one is kind of a stretch since I’m pretty sure a black metal band has never played the festival and I can guarantee that a blackgaze band has not for sure.  However, I believe that fans of heavier Warped acts could definitely get into Deafheaven, or already are fans.  The potential for success that Deafheaven could have on the tour is definitely worth the shot.  Also can you imagine going from watching Neck Deep to seeing Deafheaven open their set with the iconic lead in Dreamhouse?

5.  Senses Fail

Last, but definitely not least is Senses Fail.  Last playing Warped in 2015, Senses Fail is a great addition to their lineup with their uncanny live set and their mix of older and younger fans in the scene.  However, it is not Senses Fail’s history on Warped that is significant but the message they bring.  Lead singer Buddy Nielson, who recently came out, now gives speeches about accepting those in the LGBT community and will also give speeches about other topics like hope and women’s rights during live sets.  While this did cause some controversy on the 2015 tour, it also showed what Warped truly stands for, which is accepting all peoples and making them feel safe.  Buddy and the rest of Senses Fail help close the gap between hardcore music and the LGBT community and if it were possible I would have them play Warped Tour every year.

If you would like to vote for your favorite artists to play Warped next year then hit the link below!

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeU1T4SlA88rijO7MovVDSyOQNxCTIjPm51pGL2OyGpq8QYmg/viewform?c=0&w=1