Thursday, June 12, 2008

Album Review: Killing the Dream - Fractures

"you ask if there's an end in sight...i wish i had an answer. you should have asked me back when i was young. because i've had everything and all i want is more" -Everything but Everything

easily my most anticipated album release of the year and it's definitely worth the wait!

Killing the Dream has taken their sweet time releasing their second full length record after their debut album In Place, Apart. The west coast hardcore act has done it again recording a brutal collection of tracks full of raw passion, breakdowns, fact-paced and straight to the point lyrics that will get your blood pumping.

The first thing you notice when you throw on Fractures is the production quality (or lack of). KTD has kept it real with a sound that comes across like a 50 watt amp turned up to 11. with an overwhelming amount of mediocre bands releasing albums that are over-produced cliche fuzz distortion, KTD is just raw, but clean in the sense that they had a direction and went for it.

Eli's voice is awesome once again, he never apologizes for the strain he throws down telling us "i try to sing and this is how it sounds". it's obvious from the writing on this album the Eli is unleashing his emotions on the listener, holding little to nothing back and you get the sense very quickly that someone has done him wrong when he sings "i've never said it before, i've never meant it more F#%k you, F$%k all of you".

There are quite a few notable tracks starting with the opener Part II. the gang vocals at the end singing Resolution are impactful. Fractures (the track) has a great opening riff that i could listen to on repeat, its kind of light-hearted and sets up the song great. ThirtyFour Seconds has a breakdown that is going to be epic live "the music's getting louder, the feeling so familiar..." and the end of the track really allows you to connect with the energy and passion of the band.

There is a ton of experimentation on this album, especially for a hardcore act, when band are putting out album of 12 songs, 2:00 long, verse-chorus-breakdown-chorus-outro, KTD mix it up more than most. Isaac is so creative on the drums, changing pace and beats with ease, with a mix of faster punk rock beats from back in the 90's to the locomotive hardcore beats with a twist, he never plays the beats simple, there is always something more going on (just ask the drummers who audition to play with KTD on the tours that Isaac can't do).

DJDJ has really become quite the guitar player as well, i believe he was a bass player before playing with KTD fulltime and he has really brought a lot to the table on this album, the high-point being the closer Resolution.

Other random great points would be the guest vocals by good friend Rob from Ruiner on You're All Welcome and the great intro to Hang the Jury with a slow buildup followed by eli informing us that "the dead are f$%cking dead!!" follow by an explosion of crazy hardcore.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Album Review: Means - To Keep Me From Sinking

man, i just don't know about this one

I have been anxiously waiting for this album to come out, hoping for a great follow-up to Sending You Strength. its not everything i hoped for, but i'm not disappointed (at least i don't think i am).

i really really like Means, i can't find anyone else who does though. they are built in the image of Comeback Kid meets underOATH meets As I Lay Dying meets Life In Your Way. its a great mix and they fit right in on Facedown Records, homes to Christian heavy heroes No Innocent Victim.

As for the album, i just don't know. i want to like it. as a whole product i love it, i can listen to it over and over (which i have) and i never get sick of it. but even after listening to it 100 times i still can't recall individual songs or choruses. unlike Sending You Strength where you would go right to the songs you loved, this album doesn't really have those star tracks. i could easily rate each song as above average, nothing special, nothing terrible.

The first thing i notice is that the drumming and guitar work is much better than the last album. much more technical and diverse riffs really help this album survive. but after that the lyrics and melodies have fallen off a little. i'm left stuck in the middle of whether or not i put more weight in lyrics/choruses or music.

As I start working on my next compilation to hand out to the masses i'm looking for a track or two from this album to take away, which is tough, tracks like Breaking In, Refuge and Of Dread and Dreams seems to be the keepers. the guitar work on Refuge is really good as well as Of Dread...

And speaking of confused, i'm not sure Means knows what they want to be as well, with recent shows with Comeback Kid and With Honor in contrast with their last tour supporting Life In Your Way. This is one album and band that i'd love to get more feedback on from my friends. even searching the web you get such mixed results. check out the album, let me know what you think.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Show Recap: theAlmost/Emery 6/8/08

Last night Tahoe and I headed down to Cervantes Ballroom in Denver to catch a show. I didn't realize that 93.3 was promoting the show, as well as giving theAlmost some radio play, but nonetheless the place wasn't packed. the crowd could easily be described as high school / young college Christians. i would say that at least 75% of the crowd was christian. on top of that there were at least 5 moms there with their kids, as young as 12 by my estimate. Tahoe and I felt very old to say the least.

There were four bands on the the ticket; Army of Me, Envy on the Coast, Emery, and theAlmost. We knew the show wouldn't be intense, more of a rock show than anything, so with that in mind i wasn't holding my breath for the first 2 bands to be any good.

First up Army of Me was, to be kind, terrible! the sound was totally 'alternative' like a mix between Everclear and Wallflowers. the singer was trying to act like Eddie Vedder and looked like Kurt Cobain. the music was boring and unoriginal and i think i fell asleep standing up. I realize that the comparisons here are pretty good comparisons, well maybe in 1994, but this is 2008, that sound is old and boring now.

Next up was Envy on the Coast. i had never heard of these guys and once again i was not excited. the lead singer was rocking a rasta hat and dreads which i wasn't totally in to. but i would be proven wrong. these guys had the most energy of the night and the heaviest sound. The lead guitar player was switching between keys and guitar at a frantic pace and it worked. they sound like a heavy version of theAudition, some nice poppy vocals mixed with some heavy screams/yells, very loose sound with tons of energy. the music focused on energy before polish, even though their sound was great. The drummer was particularly good, as was the bass player, every song (5 in total) had very diverse and unique parts, but nothing seemed over-done. they played 5 songs, but the second song "Sugar Skulls" was easily the best one, the driving beat was impossible to resist. I'll be following these guys from now on.

Third up was Emery. at the beginning of the night i would say Emery was the band i was most excited to see. Tahoe and I moved from our bar perch to the crowd for Emery, expecting some chaos but that didn't happen. Emery were solid, playing mostly from their latest release More Than A Man and almost ignoring The Question (which was our favorite album unfortunately). I'm never sure what to expect from this band, sometimes they sound very heavy and intense and other times they are very poppy and easy-listening. We got the easy-listening version last night so it was good, but nothing spectacular. some songs i remember them playing: Party Song, Rock-N-Rule, Can't Stop the Killer, Don't Bore Us, and ending with Studying Politics.

Last up was theAlmost. Aaron from underOath started a side project with his homies from Dead Poetic and others and well, it exploded into a very successful rock band. with only one album out we kinda knew what to expect. The played almost the entire album and unfortunately with all the energy they brought, these songs are just simple rock songs and sometimes they lack energy. we were not disappointed though, Aaron is a great front man, his vocals were remarkable. i was expecting his voice to be raspy and worn out from touring but it wasn't, it was perfect and he was confident hitting every note all while hiding behind his ridiculously long red hair (reminded me of seeing Megadeath back in the day). I was wondering how they would handle the topic of Jesus in the set, and i was soon answered when Aaron spoke between songs giving credit to Jesus and offering to talk to anyone who was interested. The high point of the set was after covering Coldplays' Yellow they moved into Amazing Because It Is. during the chorus of Amazing Grace, the band completely dropped out and it was just the crowd singing, totally powerful!

All in all it was a fun night, nothing too crazy though. Probably the funniest moment of the night would have been when Envy on the Coast front man dropped the F-Bomb. it was dead quiet after that. all of the Christians were in shock, and the mother's as well. i thought it was hilarious. good times.