Right, I've decided to start reviewing CDs that come with Rock Sound magazine. They usually feature some pretty versatile stuff with often some bands who would otherwise be ignored. Although sometimes they feature crappy popular shit to appease the readership, but hey, different strokes.
The slipcase is a lovely pink this time round, so I'm happy, but I wish they'd stop doing that stupid "man listening to something" face on all of them, and do something new.
Anyway, yeah, the music.
Track 1: These Arms Are Snakes
- Woolen Heirs
The CD starts with a disappointment, as I've heard alot about these and the song's nowhere near as good as I had been expecting. Further listening reveals it's ok - it's got a nice feel to it and I like the bass. But it still feels like it just passes just outside of consciousness - a step or two away from interesting, even when the vocals start being cut up and it turns into what's essentially a variation on the Doctor Who theme tune with guitars.
- The Wolfpack
Awful, tepid, mid-paced pseudo-Ministry
crap. Highly formulaic and boring. The vocals are half-arsed. Plus, it sounds exactly like their last album's title track. No surprises are in store here. It could have done with some black metal textures.
3. Bison B.C.
- Slow Hand Of Death
Quite boring stoner-y stuff. The vocals are interestingly retched, but don't benefit by having what's basically gang-shouts behind them. Attracts attention by sounding jazzy for about 2 seconds and then reverts to exactly the same pretty tedious riffery. The tiny touches of cliché whammy'd single notes at the end of riffs just infuriated me.
- Life At Stake
Interesting intro until it starts sounding like a slightly discordant Metallica
. The song then kicks in and it sounds better, but it reminds me too much of the earlier Satyricon song but at a decent pace, with some slightly more interesting, metallic riffs. Interestingly breaks down into an unusual, plucked and delayed, cleaner sound, but gives up and returns to the exact same sound as before.
5. Gods And Queens
- Track 5
A nice sound that feels how I imagine stadium rock would sound if it felt like it was all shoegaze-y and cut up and put in random order. (It sounds better than you might think from that description...) Has some lovely moments of what feels like not-quite climaxes, but I can't decide whether it would be better to make them full-fledged climaxes or not.
6. Action Beat
- Le Chap
For a band with an album called "The Noise Band From Bletchley" this is probably a rather apt sound: Bletchley is a dismal, grey place (in England) that probably only serves as a train link between London and Northampton; this song feels like a grey, instrumental version that's a link between Sonic Youth's "Stones" and the part with very few notes on "Kool Thing". Put basically, it's not even close to noise-rock. Still, for all of that, it's not too unpleasant - it has a decent quality to it that sometimes sounds good. I'm disappointed that their idea of noise is simply adding a touch of delay and reverb to guitars, although occasionally they add a touch of distortion which sounds good.
7. Attack! Attack!
- Too Bad Son
Think a cross between Kids in Glass Houses
and Kids in Glass Houses. Yeah. I guess it has a touch of Lostprophets
' more upbeat moments. But basically you take that and reduce the production values by about half, and you're there. If there's anything redeemable, it's the nice chord changes, but isn't that the same with most pop-punk bands anyway?
8. Jackson United
- The Land Without Law
Here's some more lightweight punk, this time in the vein of Alkaline Trio
's unsubtleties and Green Day
's political moanings and bitchings; but with mariachi-eqsue guitars. No, I don't care how punk or Rancid
it sounds, it's bad.
9. The Haunts
In terms of sounding interesting, this song's more like it, for sure. This is charming yet quite pompous goth-infused indie. The extremely english vocals can jar a touch, though, and that's coming from an english person who loves hearing english accents in songs! Quite alot of it sounds like a cliché hallowe'en-rock song, but somehow that makes me like it more, like watching a cartoon I haven't seen since childhood. I know it's bad, but I like it.
- Get to the Chopper
Ah, you can always rely on Rock Sound to provide one interesting post-rock or post-metal song per CD. I definitely like this one - it effortlessly drifts past generic post-rock and insteads like Red Sparowes
doing a strange version of Faithless
' "No Roots" album, except when it occasionally feels like a normal rock riff being repeated. The lighter guitars then come in and elevate the song and are rather lovely - think Explosions in the Sky
with a bit more emphasis on groove provided by bass + drums. The pad that's introduced is awful, though, it doesn't fit with the song and it feels like it should be in background music to an old, unpopular robot-fighting PS2 game. Thankfully, it leaves and the drums have a great filter effect placed on them, although the EitS-like guitars keep being played backwards, which jars a touch. The drums being cut-up makes a nice ending.
11. Maps & Atlases
Dubbed a 'more abstract Foals
', I certainly didn't expect it to sound like this... it feels like if Peter, Bjorn and John
jammed with some random indie band half the time, and the other half like Minus the Bear
being led by Gruff Rhys
from Super Furry Animals
. I don't like it.
12. William Control
Poor New Order
ripoff (don't call it an homage) with poorer emo-style vocals, all by WiL Francis from Aiden
. Was this made with ejay? This wanted a sexy feel, like Davey Havok (AFI
)'s Blaqk Audio
(which was an actually successful homage while being rightfully its own) but it got nowhere near. Undanceable and sexless, with an emotionless feel despite the lyrics.
- Bury Me In You (Fatal)
Average-to-poor but with some off-kilter beat. Sounds like they can't decide whether they're screamo/hardcore or metal.
14. A Textbook Tragedy
Metalcore - the word with the biggest precursor to (justified?) small-minded judgement in music? Either way, these guys are alright - a nice abrasive approach that elevates them from sounding tepid and formulaic. Doesn't do much, but does it acceptably, and the melodic section sounded really good until they made it sound like From First to Last
. I like From First to last but that just feels like an unfocused attempt at a more cohesive sound. Oh, but that jazzy section almost melted me - it should have been longer! That annoyed me - it just returned to where they were at the start of the song.
15. Viking Skull
- Hair of the Dog
If the name doesn't already say it all, this is the same old Orange Goblin
-esque whisky-soaked rock nonsense that's far too popular. Poor songwriting lets this down immensely.
16. Stuck Mojo
- 15 Minutes of Fame
vocals and lyrics, Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park
) / Limp Bizkit
raps, hard metal drumming, nu-metal guitar, symphonic elements... I'm confused and bewildered listening to it. It's beyond me what made someone put all these together. Nothing works with anything. It's unbelievably awful. An upsettingly disconcerting mess.
And that's all! Shame it had to end on that; Rock Sound usually put the more epic songs last!