Connect with us

Metal

Biff Byford – ‘School of Hard Knocks’ [Album Review]

Published

on

At this point in my indecisive life, I could really use some good time, good feeling rock and roll and Biff Byfords School Of Hard Knocks is the kick in the nuts the doctor ordered. The opening of “Welcome To The Show” has an almost ACDC feel, but with a touch of stained class played by a pinball wizard. Many vocalists fall by the wayside, but Biff sounds exactly the same as he ever did with just the right amount of gut-punch. Moreover, he certainly has found himself one hell of a shebang band that fires on all engines.

The title track sums it up nicely when receiving your bar tab, but this bar is far from closed. “My father was a dinking man, working all his life. Keeping it together through the trouble and the strife, I lost a lot of friends but I had to make a choice, to find another band and hear my inner voice.” I’m not quite clear on Biff’s message here, but I certainly hope his intent isn’t the fact Saxon has ended. If so, this is just as credible as any of Saxon’s past releases and who can go without a double shot of Schenker vs Yngwie fretwork fireworks brought to you by Fredrik Akesson from Opeth and Arch Enemy? One can not overlook the orchestration of this band. Well played lads… well played.

[youtube v=”5uas8We_R88″]
“Scarborough Fair” needs fair attention with its openly renaissance feel. A Yorkshire folk song done quite classically Saxonesque. The white and grey of this man’s grace collects his thoughts as he sings about his motherland, and if that’s not patriotic or poetic enough I don’t know what is. Again, this has Saxon written all over it but I’m starting to recognize Mr. Byford is the true crusader of one of the greatest metal bands of all time, so while we’re at it, why “Throw Down The Sword”? “Leave the glory, a story time can never change. To walk the road, the load I had to carry. Journeys end, a wounded soul.” No man, I don’t believe in this, or you wouldn’t have been carrying the realms of metal on your back for this many years. I’ve been with you since ‘84 and I’ll ride with you forevermore.

“Me And You” has a rain shower compromised of Skid Row’s “I Remember You” romanced with a Springsteen horn section finale. You can only rewrite history so many times, and I don’t necessarily think Biff is singing about summers long gone. Hopefully, within my mind’s grey’s anatomy, this will be a projection of the fall and winters forthcoming. The E Street band outro is warm and rewarding while still recollecting, “that’s why I wrote this song about me and you.”

[youtube v=”8iSymWeu-ro”]
Getting down to the bottom of the barrel with “Black And White,” it’s a perfect crescendo with a late-night cruise without a specific location or place in mind. Be that home, the bar or the freaking grocery store, you decide. Do what you want, when you want, how you want and with whom you want… even if alone. “This is my life, this is me. Nothing’s easy, nothing’s free. Complicated, count on me, but if you’re looking for answers nothings ever going away.”

With a big bang theory on the heavy metal highway of thunder and lightning, I pull over, kill the ignition and headlights. I soak into the comfort of the leather interior and light up the night’s remembrance. I wonder to myself, should I turn this thing around? So, I pull into the closest fast food joint and think, this is not an album to be overlooked. It’s not Saxon outtakes thrown inside a Burger King bag and tossed along the roadside like a bunch of napkins and ketchup packets. This stands on its own, and thank god I took the time to slip on my Burger King crown, equipped with my plastic knife and fork before I charge forward towards my bed and dragon-like pillows with this golden nugget clenched within my teeth… dreaming of becoming a crusader.

[youtube v=”nM6s8VGRGsU”]
School of Hard Knocks Track Listing:

1. Welcome To The Show
2. School Of Hard Knocks
3. Inquisitor
4. The Pit And The Pendulum
5. Worlds Collide
6. Pedal To The Metal
7. Hearts Of Steel
8. Throw Down The Sword
9. Me And You
10. Black And White

Run Time: 51:42
Release Date: February 21, 2020
Record Label: Silver Lining Music

I was born in the late 60's amongst hippies and bikers. Cut my teeth on 70's rock and roll surrounded by motorheads and potheads, and in the 80's spread my wings and flourished as a guitarist. In the 90's I became a semi-professional musician knocking on death metals door, as well as entering the world as a freelance writer. In the 2000's I moved to Hollywood and watched the music industry crumble in front of my dreams and then took a break. Now, in the early 2020s I'm ready to rock again… or swing, blues, bluegrass, country, jazz, classical, etc. Its not so much a job to me anymore, but a great way to express myself and have a good time, and, "I know, its only rock and roll but I like it".

Album Review

Blind Channel – ‘Exit Emotions’ [Album Review]

While ‘Exit Emotions’ (Century Media Records) contains many of the tropes from the golden age of nu-metal, it still feels refreshing. Blind Channel continue to move from strength to strength.

Published

on

Blind Channel ‘Exit Emotions’ album artwork
Blind Channel ‘Exit Emotions’ album artwork

Cast your minds back to 2021; it was a dark time for humanity, with the entirety of the world still gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic, countries going in and out of lockdowns, and the entertainment industry being brought to its knees. Yet, in the midst of all of this, mankind fought on, with some events managing to take place. One of these was Eurovision, which has delivered, over the years, some incredible winners and given lesser-known artists global recognition. 2021 saw Måneskin take the crown, but on their heels was Finland’s own Blind Channel in sixth place with their song “Dark Side.”

The Finnish nu-metalers already had a handful of records to their name but it was Lifestyles of the Sick and Dangerous that contained their aforementioned Eurovision entry and made the world really sit up and take notice. With its mix of metal, hip-hop, synth and a touch of glam, it was a breath of fresh air from the European region better known for its output of, let’s say, the (much) heavier side of metal.

With Exit Emotions, Blind Channel now have their eyes focused on bigger things. Whilst they have broken through to the mainstream beyond their borders, it’s not enough for the six-piece, as they explore what it means to truly be on the global stage.

Exit Emotions kicks in hard with “Where’s the Exit,” with its distorted nu-metal beat laced with some techno elements followed swiftly by distorted vocals mixing rap and metal styles seamlessly. Dual vocalists Joel Hokka and Niko Moilanen bounce off each other in a symbiotic way, indicating how in tune with each other these guys can be. “Where’s the Exit” feels like it throws everything the band can portray at the wall from their varying influences, and while, on paper, a mix of metal, rock, hip hop, techno, and synth, if difficult to get right, Blind Channel nail it with absolute precision. Several songs on this record follow this formula, like “Deadzone,” “Wolves of California,” and “XOXO” (amongst others), and if the entirety of the record kept to this, whilst fun to listen to, it would run the risk of becoming samey. Thankfully, Blind Channel does mix things up throughout.

Blind Channel, photo by Christian Ripkens

Blind Channel, photo by Christian Ripkens

Keeping it Surreal” maintains a relatively heavy approach but dials it back a tad to give the hip-hop elements more of a chance to shine and deliver a more emotional element with the band, highlighting the surrealness of their current position. This is followed by the extra-emotional “Die Another Day.” The tune opens with a piano melody and slows the entire pace of the record, and moves into ballad territory. Hokka and Moilanen are accompanied by RØRY, ensuring the sensitive lyrics portrayed are emphasized to the max. Despite the relative negativity of the lyrics, the trio somehow makes this extra melancholy tune drive forward positive feelings.

Exit Emotions is a great follow-up to Lifestyles of the Sick and Dangerous, and although it contains many of the tried and tested tropes of what was delivered in the golden age of nu-metal, it still feels refreshing. The band has gone from strength to strength since their respectable placement at 2021’s Eurovision, which demonstrates they have lots more to offer than just their hit song “Dark Side.”

Read our interview with Joel Hokka and Niko Moilanen at last year’s Download 20.

Exit Emotions Track Listing:

1. Where’s the Exit
2. Deadzone
W3. olves of California
4. XOXO
5. Keeping it Surreal
6. Die Another Day
7. Phobia
8. Happy Doomsday
9. Red Tail Lights
10. Not You Bro
11. Flatline
12. One Last Time… Again

Run Time: 35:15
Release Date: March 1, 2024
Record Label: Century Media Records

Continue Reading

Metal

Silent Planet Bring Their “Superbloom Tour” to Worcester Palladium [Photos]

Silent Planet brought their “Superbloom Tour” to Worcester Palladium with support from Johnny Booth, Aviana, and Thornhill.

Published

on

Silent Planet on Feb 20, 2024, photo by Christina Altamirano
Silent Planet on Feb 20, 2024, photo by Christina Altamirano

Silent Planet brought their “Superbloom Tour” to the Worcester Palladium on February 20, 2024. They had Johnny Booth, Aviana, and Thornhill join them on this fun adventure.

I had no idea what to expect during Johnny Booth and was happy with the outcome. Johnny Booth is a five-piece hardcore band from New York. They performed a seven-song setlist with a few cuts like “2040,” “Full Tilt,” “Asymmetrical,” and “Deep Fake.” Johnny Booth stands out with their crushing melodies and multi-genre influences.

Following Johnny Booth was the Swedish alt-metal band Aviana. I had heard a few songs off Spotify, but I’ve never seen them live, and I loved every second of their time! The band wore masks and cloaks, so you can’t see anything under it. When they opened with “Rage,” the crowd chanted “Rage” with frontman Joel Holmqvist. Other songs were “Illuminate,” “My Worst Enemy,” “Oblivion,” and “Obsession.” This is definitely a band worth checking out!

Next was the Aussie alt-metal band Thornhill. If you know Thornhill, then you know you’re going to have a good show! They played eight songs, consisting of “Arkangel,” “Viper Room,” “Coven,” and “Casanova,” and closed with “Where We Go When We Die.” During their set, you can see fans all over having fun and dancing to the music.

Lastly, Silent Planet! The band incorporates a screen in the back for stunning visuals to accompany the songs being played. They performed mostly new songs off their latest album, Superbloom, and other beloved songs like “Panic Room,” “Native Blood,” and closed with “Superbloom.” Towards the end of their set, they did a jam session, which was fun to watch! During their encore, they performed their popular song “Trilogy.”

The “Superbloom Tour” is coming to a close this week. If you got to see it, then you know you got to go to an awesome show. Here’s to the next one!

Continue Reading

Metal

Seven Cities Dead Unleash Single “Take This To My Grave” feat. Josh Gilbert

Milwaukee outfit Seven Cities Dead released their latest single, “Take This To My Grave,”  featuring As I Lay Dying’s Josh Gilbert.

Published

on

Seven Cities Dead
Seven Cities Dead

Milwaukee outfit Seven Cities Dead released their latest single, “Take This To My Grave,” featuring As I Lay Dying’s Josh Gilbert. SCD’s new single embodies the best attributes of classic and modern metalcore, pulling influences from Trivium, Wage War, and Motionless in White.

The story of “Take This To My Grave” in the words of the band:

“All the way back in 2021, we had this new demo for a song that was a little different than anything we had written before. It felt heavier than anything else we made but also somehow the most accessible. It had blast beats and a nasty breakdown, but it was also still structured like a radio single with a really catchy chorus and epic singing outro. We were already excited about it, but this was also the time when Featured X first came out.”

The story continues… “This was a website where artists, including some big names, signed up to make themselves available for people to request as features. At first, when we saw Josh Gilbert there, we thought he was way out of our league. As I Lay Dying was one of our favorite bands as teenagers and even to this day they’re a huge influence on our style. But we fantasized about what it would be like to have him on our song, and it genuinely felt like he would be a really good fit. So we reached out.

“We weren’t sure if we’d get a response, or if he even checked his messages on the site. And if he did, what are the odds he would agree to feature on a song by a no name band like us? But… he did! A few days later we got an email that he really liked the song and he would do it. What’s more, we learned that he’s also a professional producer working with Joseph McQueen at Sparrow Studios in Los Angeles. This is where Shaped By Fire was recorded.

“They’ve also produced records by bands like Bad Wolves, Bullet For My Valentine, Jason Derulo. We knew it would be the best experience and also the best song possible if we could go down and record it with him in person. So that’s exactly what we did. It was an amazing experience! We had planned to release this song in 2022 with an epic animated video which we had a whole script drawn up for – but things fell through with the animator after several months and delayed deadlines. And then things fell through with the next animator. And the next one. Two and a half years later, we decided this song just HAS to see the light of day, one way or another. We still have dreams of bringing the full story to fruition, but for now – we just want to release the song!”

Seven Cities Dead “Take This To My Grave” (ft. Josh Gilbert) single artwork

Seven Cities Dead “Take This To My Grave” (ft. Josh Gilbert) single artwork

Continue Reading

Trending