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Album Review

Warbringer – ‘Weapons of Tomorrow’ [Album Review]

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The cyclic evolution of music (regardless of era or genre) is always fascinating, the way that a certain sound or direction fades from view after the initial hype dies down and gets bloated and uninspired, only to find a new generation of artists willing to take up the torch years later and continue the legacy. Quite often, these revivals will have a few noteworthy acts that provide something impressive and exciting, but swallowed up by copycats eager to ride the wave with nothing but generic, rehashed music.

The return of thrash metal from the underground happened seemingly as a reaction to nu-metal and bloated commercial metal that had little grit or substance, especially in the guitar department. Bands such as Havok, Municipal Waste, Bonded By Blood, and Evile rose from the ashes with all the prerequisite thrash-isms and something to say (amongst the revelling in classic thrash culture), and opened the eyes of younger metalheads to an era of heavy music that still had so much to offer. Even this majestic uprising had it’s (more than) fair share of hangers-on that diluted the impact, but the die was cast and a new era of strong, popular metal was born.

California’s Warbringer emerged in the initial wave with a Slayer/Kreator/Exodus foundation and plenty of fresh ideas, and quickly drew a lot of attention. They have evolved from the brutality of their debut album to include elements of prog, death metal, even black metal in some places, and their previous album, 2017’s Woe To The Vanquished, was a highlight of their career. Weapons of Tomorrow takes all the positives from that opus and simply amplifies them, with enough riffs to choke a donkey.

Firstly, the production is stellar and cuts through all the bullshit to define the clear attack on display. It’s powerful with a mean heaviness and a razor-sharp kick in the guitar department, and the vocals bellow from the depths. The playing, as always with this band, is tight and brutal, with more than a touch of care and dynamics: guitarists Adam Carroll and Chase Becker weave tasty riffs and solos with the greatest of ease; the rhythm section keeps everything locked down and provide a mean bottom-end, and John Kevill kills it on vocals (his voice has always been a strong constant).

The songs are varied in style and composition, each with their own identity and personality (so not merely a barrage of bludgeoning and thuggery). There are some based around speed and attack (“Firepower Kills,” “Power Unsurpassed”), some that stretch to exploratory progressive areas (“Glorious End”), and some that even veer close to ballad territory (“Defiance Of Fate”), but it all sits comfortably together with meticulous attention paid to track listing and flow.

My first couple of listens weren’t focused (more of a ‘let’s get the vibe’ run-throughs) and I was convinced that the group were resting on their laurels and phoning this one in, but upon a closer listen with the lyrics in front of me, I saw that this might possibly be their finest work yet. The guys have taken every precaution to ensure that each song serves its desired purpose, so much so that it feels like you’ve heard it before – this is because the tracks are so well-defined that they come across as vibrant as, say, Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? or The New Order, perfectly executed and intricately interesting metal with a brain and heart. For a band to work so hard to make something that sounds so easy is no mean feat, and ultimately shows how professional Warbringer are.

Weapons of Tomorrow is a classic thrash metal record, with all them beautiful bells and whistles that have made the genre what it is today. It is the work of a band that has paid their dues over and over again and put in the extra effort to make it sound effortless and sublimely enjoyable. As an old-school thrasher, it gets two overly-eager thumbs up from me, and I can’t wait to listen to it again.

Weapons of Tomorrow Track Listing:

1. Firepower Kills
2. The Black Hand Reaches Out
3. Crushed Beneath The Tracks
4. Defiance Of Fate
5. Unravelling
6. Heart Of Darkness
7. Power Unsurpassed
8. Outer Reaches
9. Notre Dame (King Of Fools)
10. Glorious End

Run Time: 50:57
Release Date: April 24, 2020
Record Label: Napalm Records

Album Review

Wabi Sabi – ‘The Love Insane’ [Album Review]

‘The Love Insane’ displays the psychedelic jazz band persona of Wabi Sabi and their talent shifting from genre to genre with aplomb.

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Wabi Sabi ‘The Love Insane’ album artwork
Wabi Sabi ‘The Love Insane’ album artwork

About seven months ago, Atlanta-based ensemble Wabi Sabi released their fourth album, The Love Insane, a record that not only flew under the radar but was also impacted by the pandemic, resulting in it being self-produced.

Pianist/vocalist Damien Cartier explains, “This is the first of our albums that I have produced myself. We have never done an album this way, but Covid mixed with having a spare bedroom home studio seemed like the perfect time to try.”

The genesis of Wabi Sabi occurred in 1999. Initially comprising piano, trombone, and drums, the band’s name was Damien Cartier And His My Newt Orchestra. Before long, the band added horns, bass, guitars, percussion, and singers. However, there was a problem: the band’s name, the spelling of which stymied people.

Then Damian saw an episode of King Of The Hill where Bobby discovered the concept of Wabi Sabi, a Japanese aesthetic that perceives beauty in imperfection and transience. Enter the band Wabi Sabi, whose unique sound amalgamates elements of soul, funk, reggae, and pop with tangs of jazz.

The Love Insane begins with “The Truth,” opening on a soft, low piano topped by tender vocals, mirroring pensive tones. The melody blends savors of rock and jazz, forming a dreamy, almost psychedelic flow of floating textures.

Highlights on the album include the title track, conjuring up the swaying soul surfaces of the ’60s, tinted with twangy, country-laced guitars. Cartier’s vocals are spot-on and convey touching, quixotic aromas.

New Life,” a personal favorite, evinces suggestions of Steely Dan because of its deliciously trippy-lite surfaces and grand brass accents that bray forth finessed tones. The funky “Not Yet, Sister,” with its hints of reggae, features bright horns, skiffing guitars, and a neighing organ.

The album finishes with “The Weirdo Blues,” a luscious fusion of bluesy jazz and orchestral flavors. There’s a delightful, sleazy sensation to the tune, imbuing the song with benevolent craziness.

The Love Insane displays the psychedelic jazz band persona of Wabi Sabi and their talent shifting from genre to genre with aplomb.

Wabi Sabi, photo courtesy of Wabi Sabi

Wabi Sabi, photo courtesy of Wabi Sabi

The Love Insane Track Listing:

1. The Truth
2. I Am OK
3. Manifest
4. The Love Insane
5. New Life
6. Not Yet, Sister
7. Sick Tuna
8. The Fall
9. Please Rescue Me
10. Spacetime
11. The Weirdo Blues

Run Time: 48:18
Release Date: July 28, 2023
Record Label: Independent

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Album Review

Spike Polite & Sewage – ‘Punk Not Dead’ [EP] [Album Review]

Seething with primal momentum and frenzied, punchy surfaces, Spike Polite & Sewage’s ‘Punk Not Dead’ projects an intensity of defiance and insurrection.

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Spike Polite & Sewage ‘Punk Not Dead’ [EP] album artwork
Spike Polite & Sewage ‘Punk Not Dead’ [EP] album artwork

Punk Not Dead, the latest EP from Spike Polite & Sewage, is an insolent, provocative social satire, a response to the clueless decline of Western civilization, à la Oswald Spengler. Unrestrained, the EP was produced by Ted Sabety.

Made up of Spike Polite, aka Reagan Youth and Cheetah Chrome, on vocals, Michelle Shocked (bass, vocals), Antony Romero (guitar), and Beast (drums), Punk Not Dead follows on the band’s 2021 EP, PANDEMONIUM.

Comprising three tracks, Punk Not Dead opens with “What Happened to the Punk Rock,” rolling out in buzzsaw guitars riding tight, raw percussion. A single voice segues into gang-like vocals, imbuing the lyrics with enflamed indignation. This is old-school, fulminating punk rock.

Twitter is a Death Machine” delivers a short, vicious commentary on the malicious ramifications of social media platforms, specifically Twitter, now known as X. Traveling on a fast, chunky rhythm, the harmonics slice the atmosphere with edgy guitars.

Snarling, grinding guitars give the intro to the title track chaotic textures as sneering vocals infuse the lyrics with ferocious energy highlighted by ringing percussion. The outro reveals the spoken word vocals of Spike and Michelle announcing that “punk is not dead.”

Seething with primal momentum and frenzied, punchy surfaces, Punk Not Dead projects an intensity of defiance and insurrection.

Spike Polite & Sewage, photo courtesy of artists

Spike Polite & Sewage, photo courtesy of artists

Punk Not Dead Track Listing:

1. What Happened to the Punk Rock
2. Twitter is a Death Machine
3. Punk not Dead

Run Time: 3:24
Release Date: January 15, 2024
Record Label: Solid Bass Records

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Album Review

Night Wilds – ‘All That Should Have Been’ [Album Review]

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Night Wilds “Heartland” single artwork

Progressive alt-rock artist Night Wilds, the musical brainchild of Seth Micarelli, will drop his debut album, All That Should Have Been, on April 1. A darkly cathartic record, it’s an immersive concept album cloaking autobiography in fantastical fiction. (Check out our previous single review here.)

All That Should Have Been was tracked at Robert Lang Studios, London Bridge Studios, and Electrokitty Studios. The sessions boasted an audiophile’s dream of vintage gear and exceptional contributions from mastering and mixing engineer Tom Hall and longtime Heart drummer Ben Smith.

“For my whole life, I have been searching for that magic pill to make everything feel better,” shares Micarelli. “This album is about making sense of that void.”

Encompassing 17 tracks, All That Should Have Been begins with the dramatic “The Curtain,” a heated monologue delivered by the compere of a circus, rebuking the performers, focusing on a small child. His criticism travels over a creepy mosaic of sonic motifs, conjuring up a toxic milieu.

Entry points include “New Jerusalem,” opening on low-slung ethereal surfaces topped by Micarelli’s soft, poignant vocals. Slowly building and taking on elevating harmonics, the melody swells into a grandiose prog-rock performance, highlighted by radiant female harmonies, infusing the tune with gospel savors.

City Of Strangers,” a symphonic rock ballad, reveals the protagonist’s realization that he has created a self-constructed prison in his mind, a prison reflecting the events of his life in his youth. A melancholic piano and weeping strings mirror the passionate lyrics, imbuing the song with regret, yearning, and a moving appeal for human tenderness and forgiveness.

A personal favorite because of the exposure of intimate, inner feelings, “Long Way From Graceland” features an alluring folk-rock melody supporting Micarelli’s raw, sensitive vocals, drenched in musing timbres.

Just A Moment More” conjures up suggestions of Bruce Springsteen, unwrapping textures of folk-rock. Blending gleaming guitar accents, a gently sparkling piano, and a mid-tempo rhythmic flow, the tune evokes the pensive longing for more time in embracing the carefree sensation of life’s satisfying moments.

The album closes with “Where Do We Go From Here,” juxtaposing Micarelli’s haunting voice against the maniacal, cackling laugh and wild spoken words of the crazed compere from the first track. The drifting prog-rock ambiance of the melody, reminiscent of Pink Floyd, is at once delicate and elegantly haunting.

Tucked inside All That Should Have Been is an unforgettable story of working to emerge from darkness and addiction into light.

All That Should Have Been Track Listing:

1. The Curtain
2. The Show
3. Mother
4. Fear
5. New Jerusalem
6. Confusion
7. Control
8. Heartland
9. Where Do We Go From Here
10. City Of Strangers
11. A Long Way From Graceland
12. Joni
13. No Way Home
14. Tired
15. Just A Moment More
16. Lost Light
17. Where Do We Go From Here

Run Time: 60:32
Release Date: April 1, 2024
Record Label: Independent

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