Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Album Review: The Chariot - Long Live

Band: The Chariot
Album: Long Live
Label: Good Fight Music
Release Date: 11/22/2010
Reviewer: BMer


  1. “Evan Perks”
  2. “The Audience”
  3. “Calvin Makenzie”
  4. “The City”
  5. “Andy Sundwall”
  6. “The Earth”
  7. “David De La Hoz”
  8. “The Heavens”
  9. “Robert Rios”
  10. “The King”

Well, i think we all know what to expect here. The Chariot have released their fourth full-length album, their first with their new label Good Fight Music, and it’s titled Long Live. The Chariot and their brand of rock/metal is somewhat difficult to review considering there aren’t many bands producing similar art. The band boasts a loyal following who will no doubt love this album, and for those listeners who are new to The Chariot, well, as the bumper sticker says “get in, sit down, shut up and hold on!”

The rumors leading up to this release were that The Chariot would be recording the album live to analog, as opposed to digitally via Pro Tools. You can hear this on most of the record, however i cannot confirm whether the whole album is indeed recorded live at this time. Regardless of how the album was recorded, Long Livesounds like a live performance caught on tape, there is space and air in the music, you can hear a lot of the nuances of the instruments. And while The Chariot rarely do the same thing twice, this is the first album where it really feels like they are achieving what they set out to do. As usual, nothing is predictable, you listen to songs over and over again and each time you discover something new. Songs like “The City” with it’s clean melodic choir vocals or Listener’s poetic verse in the middle of “David De La Hoz” are just a few examples of the surprises you find on Long Live.

Lyrically Josh is really on his game here. Most of his songs are probably open to interpretation but a few tracks have some outright messages, like on “Andy Sundwall” where Josh lays it out “I am NOT saying we’ve got it all figured out but why accept silver when you’ve given gold?” “The City” is a call to arms where Josh’s delivery is so passionate and gripping “If I leave this earth tonight may it be said that I spoke my peace, I spoke with the wrath of His grace. Calm rose. Come violent wind. Oh we stand hand in hand and we walk without fear. THIS IS A REVOLUTION!“ There are many instances of Josh changing his delivery and adding either some southern twang (“The Audience”) or his almost winded delivery provides so much emotion that it’s palpable like on “David de la Hoz” where he runs-on “Its the impossible act of building up bridges much faster then they burn. Stay, because I can’t afford the differences shadowing my heart and what good is a sinner if we haven’t got grace?”

What can you say about The Chariot that hasn’t already been said? Enjoying the chaotic heavy music The Chariot produce is like learning to love coffee, at first it is bitter and abrasive, but after awhile you learn to love without needing sweetener.Long Live is everything that fans want, it’s heavy and powerful, you could describe the same way you describe everything about the band; controlled chaos, slow-burn, an orchestrated car-wreck, relentless, jarring, brutal… Frontman Josh Scogin usually describes their work as “art”, and with art he says we should never compromise. It’s important to understand that The Chariot is just that, art, it’s not built on preaching a message, or displaying musical talents, or some other reason for producing music that you might find with other bands in heavy music. Sure the message on Long Liveis important, yes all of the members of The Chariot are impressive with their musical talents, but everything about The Chariot seems to be about breaking through limits, looking at how things are supposed to be done and then doing them a different way.

OVERALL Long Live is the best album The Chariot have put together so far. Some songs stand out as favorites, like “The City” and “David de la Hoz” and other songs provide support in their own chaotic ways. Lets be honest here, most fans would say that if you don’t like it, it’s because you don’t understand it. This is experimental hardcore that is currently standing alone on top of the mountain made with predictable, water-downed hardcore bands. Long Live is the closest thing to The Chariot’s live show you can get without actually leaving your house, and their live show is best thing going today.

The Chariot – Long Live

written for

Monday, October 25, 2010

Show Recap: August Burns Red @ Summit Music Hall

Well we finally got to check out the newest live music venue in Denver, the Summit Music Hall, where we caught the AP Tour featuring Bring Me The Horizon and August Burns Red. Tahoe came a little late in the evening so i got to check out the venue on my own for awhile and it's pretty nice. first though, the negatives; located on Blake Street makes is super tough for parking, and expensive. i found a lot that was $5 for the evening which isn't bad, but other venues in Denver you can find spots on the street for free. I had to park about 7 blocks away and that made for a long walk in the rain too, which was alright but would have sucked if it was in the snow.

The venue is bigger than the Marquis and Cervantes, but not as big as the Fillmore, probably right in-line with The Gothic Theater. You can see the stage from the bar which is nice, and the bar is an island so even though there were tons of punk-rock jocks and meatheads clogging up the bar stools, it wasn't tough to get service. Drinks were a little pricey for a rock show, $6 for a PBR tall-boy hurts the poor punk rockers. There is an upstairs but there's nothing up there but a railing and some seats, so it's basically a ledge to house more kids, and that works well, everyone has a good view. The sound was pretty good, very loud but the vocals weren't mixed well so i'm not sure if thats a venue issue, or the mixer dude, or something else. Security was tight, and there was a barrier between the kids and the stage which gets a "boo" in my book, totally lame. Otherwise, it'll be a good venue for bands that are too big to play a bar, but can't fill up a large venue like the Fillmore (think Anberlin, As I Lay Dying, underOATH, The Devil Wears Prada...)

As for the bands, the AP Tour lineup might be the worse lineup ever conceived. Opening the show was This Is Hell, one of my favorite bands with their throwback style of east-coast punk hardcore. The crowd hated them (more later...). Next was Polar Bear Club, a kind of melodic punk softcore group that was like night-and-day received better from the crowd. then Emarosa who, in my opinion, was awful. Sure they're talented and the lead singer can really sing, but thats the problem, this wasn't a group of singing bands, this was heavy music. Emarosa is straight-up radio rock, or mall-rock, wannabe arena-rock. That was tough to suffer through, but i give them a little credit; the lead singer had the flu and he still toughed-out a full set.

The headliners were Bring Me the Horizon, supported by August Burns Red. I have to admit that i haven't listened much to Bring Me the Horizon so Tahoe and i left before their set. August Burns Red was solid, as they usually are. They're so tight with their live performance which is pretty incredible considering how technical their music is. lead singer Jake is versatile and energetic, switching his vocals between higher-pitched yelling to low low-pitched growls. He passed the mic quite a big to keep the crowd involved, and at one point, i think during "Thirty and Seven" or "Back Burner" he instructed the crowd to crowd-surf to the stage and sing along. Not many people tried, but it was worth a shot.

August Burns Red played a typical set including songs like "Composure", "Meddler", "Truth of a Liar" and "Mariana's Trench". They also added "Escape Artist" and "Indonesia" two songs i don't think i've seen them perform live. They opened the show with some techno dance stuff that got the crowd pretty amped up, and then played right into "Composure". Near the end of their 45-minute set, i believe right after "Thirty and Seven", Matt Grenier (drummer) played a drum-solo for about 5 minutes. it's also entertaining to hear solos at shows, the only other one i've seen was from As I Lay Dying. The solo was impressive, not amazing though, and that lead right into "White Washed" for the closer. I've never seen them play "White Washed" and it was awesome, one of my favorite songs.

August Burns Red are finishing up a great 2010. Coming off lasts years release of Constellations, this year the band released a live dvd of a hometown show, which they called Home. It's gotten a lot of praise and that released coincided with the AP Tour (AP Magazine) where they graced the cover of AP Magazine and supported Bring Me the Horizon for the tour. Great year, this band is only going to get bigger and more popular. I wish that Jake would have talked a little about their faith during the Denver show since the crowd was very diverse and there were plenty of people who would benefit from hearing about Christ, but i understand that giving a little speech or testimony every night of a tour can be tough.

Back to This is Hell, the opener. For their set i sat at the bar enjoying a nice PBR. Two meat-heads came and sat next to me and proceeded to tear-down TIH for the entire set. i found them so typical, so easy to type-cast, and they were hilarious. The main guy was about 6'5'', probably my age, pretty ripped wearing his too-tight Underoath t-shirt. they both ordered mixed drinks and proceeded to rip This is Hell. ultra-original comments like "this IS hell" and "go back to New York!" showed how cool they were as they oogled every female that walked by. Foul language never bothers me, but it was funny to me that this dude was swearing non-stop will sporting a Christian-band's t-shirt saying things like "this band is so bad it's making me drink, so now i'll be wasted so i can $@%& people up in the pit during August Burns Red." Really? sad.

For more on punk-rock jocks and why most punk rockers hate jocks you could check out Good Riddance's "Salt" or Assorted Jelly Beans' "Punk Rock Jock". There's a reason why people go to shows, and to each his own, but i find that going to shows to get drunk and fight people in the pit is the lowest reason, and that earns you the least respect. This dude was one of the main reasons i wished Jake from ABR would have taken a second to talk about his faith, just to put things in perspective.

The show was fun though in the end. I got a kick out of the meat-head at the bar as i stood singing along with This Is Hell. I don't expect many people to enjoy TiH's style of punk rock, its an acquired taste and it helps to enjoy east-coast hardcore bands like Warzone and Madball to really understand what This is Hell is all about. August Burns Red was awesome, so talented.

Good Riddance - "Salt"
Don't be alarmed please don't take it personally
But you're acting out on everybody here
You're ability your virility's in doubt
So one more time you clench your fists
Scream and shout
You high-five your friends
Like you're jocks at a football
It seems you don't know when to quit
The crowd stares in silence
As you practice violence
To show you're the king of the pit
What now we're sick of it
So now no one goes
To the front at shows anymore
Because we don't want to be
Kicked in the head
Or punched in the nose
We don't care where you're from
We don't care what set you claim
Why don't you get involved
You don't even know our names
Any scene worth it's salt
Would vilify aggression
It seems that aggression's all you know
So stop throwing your fists
Put out your hand
Participate in the show
Here we go!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Show Recap: Oh Sleeper @ Marquis Theater

Band: Oh Sleeper

Venue: Marquis Theater in Denver, CO

Date: October 1st, 2010

By BMer for

My buddy Tahoe and I ventured down to Marquis Theater in Denver to catch Oh Sleeper and A Plea for Purging. With only four bands on the ticket we were excited to see some extended sets, plus Oh Sleeper hadn�t been to Denver since they released Son of the Morning, and last time they came through they had to modify their set due to some of their equipment getting stolen the night before in Salt Lake City, so they didn�t play any new songs.

We were both under the impression that The Bled were headlining but that was not the case, Oh Sleeper headlined and I�m not sure they�re ready to be headlining. I�m a huge fan of Oh Sleeper but I was not overly impressed with Son of the Morning, I feel like When I Am God was a much better record, at least lyrically. Either way their set is comprised of mostly tracks from Son of the Morning and they just don�t incite energy live like the older tracks did.

Oh Sleeper opened with Son of the Morning, a great opener with tons of energy. The venue wasn�t packed but there were a good amount of kids still left after The Bled finished. Everyone pushed to the stage to sing along and even though we were down on the floor, we never really were in danger of any physical harm. I�m an old man these days so I like to stand right on the edge of the pit, but rarely ever go in. There wasn�t really a pit this night, either because the kids were worn out or because Oh Sleeper doesn�t really play breakdown-style music.

After Son of the Morning they went into New Breed. You could tell that Shane Blay has been improving on his singing, while its still not that great live, he�s much better than when I saw them last year on Scream the Prayer Tour. It�s got to be tough to sing on key with everything so loud, but he was close most of the time. The other change I was trying to pay attention to was the new drummer, Zac Mayfield. He was solid most of the night but he has some big shoes to fill, previous drummer Matt Davis was a beast and the drumming on the last album was crazy. With a new drummer on-board I was surprised to hear the band go into World Without a Sun, the track on SOTM that basically showed off Matt�s drumming ability. The song sounded good, but not nearly as tight as the recording (which can be expected).

Between each song Micah took a chance to talk, something that usually bores me, I prefer less talk � more rock. I would soon realize the reason for so much talk; the band only played 7 or 8 songs, not many for the headliner. Now they decided to go into some older material starting with Charlatan�s Host, one of my favorites. The song was building up to the best part, where the band cuts out while Micah screams �Let not my words be ripped from the mouth of a horror!� but just as we were all about to throw it down Micah stops the band to orcganize the Wall of Death. Total momentum killer and really just a poor decision; the Wall of Death is pretty lame and works best at the beginning of songs when everyone is already standing around, not during the middle of one of your best songs.

Anyway, after Charlantan�s Host they played the crowd favorite, Vices Like Vipers which went crazy. After that the band took a second to leave the stage and apparently get different guitars. Looking back I guess this was their �encore�, Reveries of Flight was playing as a track and Shane was still on stage and began singing the song. I really like this track and was pumped to hear it live. Lucas, the bass player, returned to the stage to encourage everyone to sing louder and the song began to build. Finally the entire band was back and ripping through the second half of the song. This led directly into The Finisher, a fitting closer to a set and had the kids realized that this was the last song maybe it would have been more chaotic.

After that the house lights came on and I looked at Tahoe, we both weren�t sure if that was it and I told him that they didn�t really have any more songs they could play, so I doubted they would play anymore. I was right; their set included 7 or 8 songs, almost 30 minutes of music. It seemed really short and even though they played well, it just didn�t seem like enough.

Earlier in the evening A Plea for Purging rocked the crowd with what turned out to be either the longest set, or just short of The Bled�s set. Plea, a four-piece now that guitarist Tyler Wilson has left the band to continue school and get married, filled out the sound really well considering there was only one guitarist. Later Blake confirmed that Tyler�s parts are synced with the click track but it was tough to notice since Blake handled most of the lead parts. Visually there aren�t many bands that can keep your attention quite like Plea, with lead singer Andy moving gracefully back and forth at the front of the stage, looking sort of like Kirby from Nintendo. Behind Andy you have bassist John Wand swinging his hair like a propeller for large sections of songs. It�s just crazy to watch. At one point Andy challenged the crowed to complete 300 stage-dives during one song, I think we failed miserably but it was fun to watch.

Andy also mentioned that it was some kid�s birthday and all he wanted for his birthday was a Wall of Death, so yes, for the first time of the night there was a Wall of Death. I don�t totally know all of the songs they played, but I�m certain they played Shiver, Golden Barriers, The Fall (Andy busted out a tambourine during this song), Malevolence, and The Eternal Female.

At least two of the bands mentioned that Denver was the biggest crowd yet on the tour which at first made us proud, but then looking around I was a little disappointed that other stops had less kids than this, since I don�t think there was all that many kids at the show in Denver. I wasn�t really into the other two bands on the tour; the opening band Let Live and also The Bled. A Plea for Purging is so good live and Oh Sleeper is definitely solid that if this tour stops in your neck of the woods you should check it out. It was less than $15 in Denver, and a chance to see Oh Sleeper live doesn�t come around that often.

SETLIST: Oh Sleeper
Son of the Morning
New Breed
World Without the Sun
Charlatan’s Host
Vices Life Vipers
Reveries of Flight
The Finisher

Interview with Messengers

Band: Messengers
Label: Strike First Records
Interviewed for by BMer

1. Tell us a little about the band; the origins, the sound, previous bands…

We’re a spirit-filled hardcore band from dallas, we play hardcore with a little thrash, a heavy dark sound with a hopeful message.

2. what do you guys represent?

Spirt-filled hardcore. We have a lot to say, whether it’s how Christians are treated or what political issues bother us.

3. is there a responsibility that comes with being a “Christian band”?

Definitely. You never know who is watching (everyone). We try as hard as possible to be Christ-like.

4. the kids these days seem to be down with dance-beats and auto-tune, is there a scene/market for thrash hardcore?

Oh yeah, for sure. It’s one of the few styles of music that is real, so much music is just superficial. People like real music.

5. seems like there are more and more bands out there trying to make it these days with the digital age and DIY recording/touring, how do you guys plan to stand out from the crowd?

Well, as hard as it is to do right now all we can do is try to be real and hope that someone notices. It helps to be a part of Strike First, though.

6. how is the scene in Texas? seems like a ton of bands coming out of there, does that help or hinder you guys?

Help! The scene in Texas is thriving again and we are glad to be able to see it grow and possibly be a part of that. We have a tough scene a lot of good heavy music.

7. do you guys try to stay with the same characters on Mario Party, or do you like to switch it up?

SAME, I (chad) am always Wario. haha

8. there are a lot of preconceived notions about hardcore music and the scene, notions about drinking and partying, anger, violence. how do you guys deal with the dark side of hardcore?

Well, we are super accepting and loving, but we stay away from [the dark side]. We are very passionate about the issues we speak of and it might come off as angry but I have had it with a lot of issues and the Bible says the violent will take it by force, so we don’t sit and watch injustice we are going to stand up for issues and maybe even change hearts, God willing.

9. what song are you guys playing for your closer?

“Anthems”. But there might be a couple of surprising songs as a finisher, too. Come to a show and find out!

10. tell me a little about the lyrical themes and ideas behind the Anthems EP?

Anthems is really a bunch of themes tied into one album. “Creation” is about the birth of my son. ”Palerose” is a bash on politics song. ”Anthems” is about having something to say but also being willing to listen to others. ”Weight” is about not going through life all alone and relying on Christ.

11. tell us about the artwork for your EP, who created it? what’s the meaning?

The artwork was done by the Quiggle mastermind (Dave Quiggle). Actually we just gave him our lyrics and the name of the album and just let him have at it.

12. Do you guys have some tours planned for 2011?

Yes, we plan on a couple of small seasonal tours and a long summer tour.

13. what is the best way for fans to get a hold of you guys and chat you up? twitter? email? facebook?

All the social networks. We check them all. We’re on twitter but the members don’t run that, Rob does. haha

Friday, October 1, 2010

show recap: Underoath @ Boulder Theater

Band: Underoath
Venue: Boulder Theatre, Boulder, Colorado
Date: August 4th, 2010
By BMer

Once it was time for Underoath to take the stage, Tahoe and I found good seats in the upper balcony. Yes haters, I’m old and I am fragile, so I prefer to sit during shows if possible, and watch the young kids beat each other up. The Boulder Theater has a great balcony that isn’t too far from the stage and you’re able to capture the essence of the entire performance with good sound. Anyway, Underoath has quite the live show, with multiple light setups on the stage facing the crowd, and a huge projection screen the projects movie clips and slides throughout the show.

Underoath opened with “Returning Empty Handed” and I was instantly reminded of a Norma Jean show with the onslaught on my senses. My only complaint was that the stage was very dark for most of the show; it was very hard to see the guys in the bands throughout the evening. Earlier in the evening Blessthefall pointed out that there was no barrier and that kids should be stage-diving and sure enough, kids started running all over the stage with no problems from security. However when the kids started getting on the stage for Underoath, stage-hands were quick to discourage it, and for good reason since it was so dark on the stage that on misstep could be disaster.

It didn’t take long to see that Spencer would be handling most of the clean vocals. I was surprised at how well he did them too, they sounded great and a new fan of Underoath probably wouldn’t have noticed the difference between Aaron and Spencer. A few times throughout the set guitarist Tim Tague also added some clean vocals, but not nearly as often as Spencer. As for the drums, Daniel was excellent on his smallish 4-piece kit. The kit was noticeably smaller than the previous band’s, Between the Buried and Me, drumkit which featured two kick-drums and a gong. Daniel was thrashing away with a ton of energy and he was sporting what looked like an epic mustache.

The set was very organized with a break between each song. Some songs like “Casting Such a Thin Shadow” has specific video clips whereas other songs featured the same loop of clips shown throughout most of the show. Underoath play two new songs from their upcoming album coming out in October, and I was less than impressed with both of the songs. The music was alright, but the clean vocals by Spencer were terrible. There could be a lot that played into that so I’ll wait until the record comes out to really have an opinion. The band played a set heavy on Define the Great Line with 5 songs, with only one songs from Chasing Safety; “Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door” which was the encore song. “Writings on the Walls” had probably the loudest crowd response of the night besides the encore.

Near the end of the set Spencer took a minute to talk about his faith, saying that they did this music for Jesus Christ. He went on to say they didn’t want to put their beliefs on anyone, that everyone “should find what makes them happy and stick with it.” I’m not sure i’m totally on board with that statement but it seems to be a common statement from Christian bands that don’t consider themselves so much a ministry as a band of Christians, singing about their lives (which very much revolves around their faith when talking about Underoath). It was an impressive show, much better than the last time i saw them in Denver.

Setlist (as best as i could remember it):
Returning Empty Handed
Breathing In a New Mentality
Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
new song
Anyone Can Dig a Hole But it Takes a Real Man to Call It a Home
Casting Such Thin Shadows
Writing on the Walls
new song
In Regards to Myself
Everyone Looks So Good From Here
Moving For the Sake of Motion
slower song w/Spencer on guitar ??

encore: It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door

album review: The Showdown - Blood in the Gears

Band: The Showdown
Title: Blood in the Gears
Label: Solid State Records
Release Date: August 24, 2010
Review By: BMer

Track Listing:

  1. The Man Named Hell (4:17)
  2. Heavy Lies The Crown (3:23)
  3. Bring It Down (2:16)
  4. Take Me Home (5:24)
  5. Blood In The Gears (4:08)
  6. Dogma Enthroned (3:11)
  7. No Escape (3:59)
  8. The Crooked Path (3:36)
  9. Graveyard Of Empires (4:10)
  10. Diggin’ My Own Grave (5:42)

Blood in the Gears is the fourth album from Tennessee’s The Showdown, and their best work yet. So far the band has released four albums, the first two on Mono vs Stereo, then the last two on Solid State Records and all four have a distinct sound. The bands first record on Solid State , Backbreaker, was pretty good, almost a complete turnaround from their previous albumTemptation Come My Way, which featured more singing and almost no harsh vocals at all. Backbreaker was a much bigger and heavier sound, fitting in nicely with the rest of the roster on Solid State, but not making a huge impact.

Blood in the Gears is easily the bands most creative and dynamic work. AlthoughBackbreaker was heavy, not many of the songs were memorable and tended to drone on longer than they needed to be. Besides a few of the popular tracks, Backbreakerfailed to make a lasting impression. Blood in the Gears changes all of that. Each of the 10 tracks on this album have memorable parts, and the speed varies throughout the record from fast, thrash-style metal/punk to some slower rock/metal tracks to the closer which is an acoustic ballad that will make Bon Jovi fans proud.

There were a few member changes for this record, but original members David (vocals) and Josh (lead guitar) were still intact, and they added longtime friend/produce Jeremiah Scotts to play bass. The other half of the band came from Demon Hunter; Patrick Judge on guitar and Yogi Watts on drums. These changes played into the fresh creativity of this record, but i would credit the drummer, Yogi, with having the biggest impact. The drums throughout are solid, and Yogi’s already southern rock feel blends great with the direction that The Showdown have always been going. While there is plenty of fast-paced double-kick drums to make heavy metal fans happy, i think contrasting those fast songs against slower, rock songs like “Take Me Home” which has a late Metallica feel to it, helps the faster songs standout on their own. ”No Escape” is my personal favorite with it’s driving beat and 80’s guitar leads. The choruses throughout the album just seem so much better than previous albums, featuring crowd-friendly back-and-forth’s (“Blood in the Gears”) or slower breakdown choruses like “Bring it Down”.

Lyrically the album is themed around the consequences of empires in the history of man. Josh Childers states “…every empire falls, centralized power eats more resources than it provides so on a long enough timeline it always happens.” Songs like “The Crooked Path” and “Blood in the Gears” really touch on the problems with society’s need to consume and our failure to live outside of our culture’s expectations. While the lyrics are a little bit cliché and generic The Showdown are about having a good time. Some bands are so serious and almost militant that it’s great to see a band playing heavy metal and having a great time doing it.

OVERALL this is a really good album by The Showdown. Blood in the Gears showcases the creativity and energy the band is able to channel. Songs like “Heavy Lies the Crown” and “Bring it Down” will certainly be favorites of the fans, while “Diggin’ My Own Grave” and “Take Me Home” show us that The Showdown aren’t worried about being just another metalcore band, they’re southern roots really come out on this record. Blood in the Gears is a blast, The Showdown continue to give their fans a great time!

Review written for

album review: Trip Lee - Between Two Worlds

Band: Trip Lee
Title: Between Two Worlds
Label: Reach Records
Release Date: June 22, 2010
Reviewer: BMer


  1. Real Life Music (2:54)
  2. Snitch (4:06)
  3. Invade ft. J. Paul (4:00)
  4. Prognosis (4:21)
  5. No Worries (4:05)
  6. Covenant Eyes ft. PRo (3:56)
  7. Life 101 ft. Chris Lee (4:05)
  8. I Love Music ft. Sho Baraka (4:11)
  9. Limitations ft. Leah Smith (4:22)
  10. Yours To Own ft. Jimmy Needham (4:04)
  11. Apathy (Interlude) (0:51)
  12. Twisted ft. Lecrae, PRo, Thi’sl (4:52)
  13. Bear With You ft. Tedashii (4:37)
  14. Show’s Over ft. Mitch Parks (4:25)
  15. The Invasion (Hero) ft. Jai (5:37)
  16. My Lord (Bonus Track) (4:01)


Well I had to dust off the 12’s for this one. Trip Lee, of the 116 Clique, releases his third full-length album titled Between Two Worlds on Reach Records. This record is the kind of record that goes against the common belief that Christians make bad art;Between Two Worlds is solid throughout! Trip Lee’s vocal style is reminiscent of fellow southern rapper T.I., but that’s where the comparison ends; T.I. spent last year in prison while Trip Lee spent last year touring and spreading the Good News.

There are 16 tracks on the album, only one of which is an interlude. The rest are full-length hip-hop songs featuring guest work from Pro, Sho Baraka, Lecrae, Tedashii, Thi’sl, and even Jimmy Needham. The opening track, “Real Life Music”, is awesome! No need for an intro track the listener is greeted with some violins before the beat kicks in and Trip Lee’s smooth southern delivery lets us know that he’s “…back for the third time, you know where to find me; Hanging on the coattails of Christ who designed me.” Throughout the album Trip’s faith is bold and prominent, but it does not make the songs clumsy or gimmicky like some Christian music can be. These songs can slide effortlessly alongside most mainstream rap artists.

It doesn’t take long for Trip Lee to bring a little controversy; his second track is titled “Snitch”. The track features the term snitch throughout, a term that could possibly be the worst label someone can inherit, the label “snitch” is usually related to violience in darker walks of life. However, Trip’s goal in this track is to let people know that he confesses his sins to the Lord, then to his family, he’s snitching on himself. It’s a good track with a clever idea; however I’m not sure if people are comfortable calling themselves a snitch in public.

There are a few standout tracks on Between Two Worlds. “The Invasion” is probably the best track and it’s unfortunate that it’s all the way at the end of the album. The guest vocals by Jai are excellent. “Covenant Eyes” and “I Love Music” are fun songs, the former featuring a really cool sample of someone whistling (like at a girl) throughout that is pretty creative. “Twisted” features a few of my favorite rappers, Lecrae and Thi’sl, but the track lacks a powerful hook needed to make it a standout. “Invade” is another great track featuring strings and chill beat giving it an almost epic feel. The tracks produced by Joseph Prielozny (“Real Life Music”, “Invade”, “I Love Music”, and “The Invasion”) definitely standout as the better tracks on the album.

OVERALL this is another solid album from Trip Lee, Between Two Worlds is one of the best rap albums of the year. Not every track is a winner but as a complete collection there are definitely more highs than lows. Trip Lee continues to mature as a rapper and his career is only starting to take shape (he’s only 22 years old). The production quality on this album is on par with most mainstream productions and Christian rap as a whole continues to improve its street cred with albums like this. Buhlee Dat!

Review written for

album review: The Suit - The Way That We Fall

Band:The Suit
Title: The Way That We Fall
Label: n/a
Release Date: 09/2010


1. We’re Not Coming Home
2. Feel My Heart
3. Nobody Makes Me Bleed My Own Blood
4. Look At Me Darlin
5. The Way That We Fall

The Suit release their 3rd studio album titled The Way that We Fall, a five-track EP full of catchy choruses and heavy breakdowns. The Suit, previously known as the Midnight Suit, label themselves as pop-punk/hardcore and this EP covers that well, plus more. Complete with punk-ish lead vocals reminiscent of NOFX, heavy scremo breakdowns, super catchy melody lines, gang vocals, dance beats, synth, and even hand-claps, this EP is sure to make almost anyone bop their head and tap their feet.

The Suit are all about having a good time, playing high-energy shows and writing music that makes the listener want to dance. The overall feel of this EP reminds me of the latest trendy genre being made popular by bands like Attack! Attack! With some electronic beats and synth added to a hardcore style band. It’s almost like party-core or something, but I have to admit that I have a soft-spot for music like this; it makes you want to dance and sing along and then pound the floor with a hardcore breakdown. Some might say it’s gimmicky, or cheap, or trendy, but if it’s done well it doesn’t matter and The Suit do it well.

The lyrical content focuses on struggle and tough times, and the songs are setup in a progression from good times to hitting rock bottom to healing and learning. The opening track “We’re Not Coming Home” is basically a celebration as the gang vocals chant “let this last forever as we stand together, hand in hand we sing”. Later, in the track “Look At Me Darlin’” the lyrics are honest and internal, “Look at me darling, I’m a train wreck and I’ll say that. I know we’re going down to the bottom.” At times the lyrics are pretty aggressive and angry and somewhat tough to swallow, but they’re honest and I’m sure a few listeners will be able to relate to similar feelings while going through tough times.

The last track, and probably the best track; “The Way That We Fall” is everything that the listener is looking for. This is the type of song that you end shows with, great singalong parts, great melody, totally upbeat and fun breakdowns. Even the synth behind the verse is great, reminds me of Reggie & the Full Effect. The lyrics speak of learning from your mistakes and moving on, something that we can all sing along to.

OVERALL this is a great EP, The Suit have successfully combined a few different genres of music to produce an irresistible sound. Each song has that pop-punk goodness with lyrics you can sing along with and relate to, and on top of that each song gives you a chance to throw down with well done heavy breakdowns. The Way That We Fall is not groundbreaking by any means, but it’s a blast, it’s infectious and will be enjoyed by listeners looking for a good time.

written for

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Songs to Slay the Dragons vol. 2

Indie Vision Music has put together a compilation of metal/hardcore bands for volume 2 of Songs to Slay the Dragons. Most of these bands are either unsigned, or signed to small labels. My buddy Steve at IVM handled most of this compilation with a little help from me, but i'm currently working on a lighter compilation of indie-rock / pop-punk / alternative bands that should be out mid-October.

Songs to Slay the Dragons is free to download here

Track List:
1. Phinehas – I Am the Lion
2. Messengers – Judge (Courtesy of Facedown/Strike First Records)
3. With Life In Mind – King of Frauds (Courtesy of CI Records)
4. Close Your Eyes – The Body (Courtesy of Victory Records)
5. Gnashing of Teeth – Separate (Courtesy of Sancrosanct Records)
6. Hundredth – Desolate (Courtesy of MediaSkare Records)
7. Called to Arms – Vintage Pharisee (Courtesy of Tragic Hero Records)
8. The Gun Show – The Adegan System
9. Strengthen What Remains – Pathetic (Courtesy of On The Attack Records)
10. Where the Ocean Meets the Sky – We Are But Instruments (Courtesy of CI Records)
11. Fallstar – Hunters (Courtesy of Come & Live!)
12. Silence O Israel – Beware: Alexander the Coppersmith
13. Righteous Vendetta – The Dawning (Courtesy of Red Cord Records)
14. Centuries Apart – Malachi (My Messenger)
15. Cast Them To Ruin – Ocean Straight
16. I Am Alpha and Omega – The Bride (Courtesy of Come & Live!)
17. ForChristSake – Sleep
18. As Bold As Lions – Face of Reality
19. The Brigade – Teeth and Crowns
20. As Bold As Lions – Moving Forward
21. Mercy Screams – Thief In the Night
22. As Bold As Lions – The Anthem
23. Dependency – Fragile (Courtesy of Blood & Ink Records)
24. Sovereign Strength – Deliverance (Courtesy of MediaSkare Records)
25. Thin Ice – You Were There (Courtesy of Blood & Ink Records)
26. Sovereign Strength – Heartless (Courtesy of MediaSkare Records)
27. Debtor – Escape (Courtesy of Blood & Ink Records)
28. Sovereign Strength – The Suffering (Courtesy of MediaSkare Records)
29. Not One Is Upright – And They Were Likened Unto Dogs
30. Inlow – Ecclactide
31. Senseless Beauty – Fear and Loathing in Iowa City
32. Moshe Dayan – Arms of Desolation
33. Every Man For Himself – Te Mana Whakahaere (Autonomy) (Courtesy of Deadboy Records)
34. Divide the Sea – In Knowing, Triumph (Courtesy of Blood & Ink Records)
35. Milosny – Battle Line (Courtesy of Red Cord Records)
36. Awake the Suffering – Purities Walk Through The Vines (Courtesy of Raging Storm Records)
37. Before There Was Rosalyn – The Warrior (Courtesy of Victory Records)
38. Corpus Christi – Monuments (Courtesy of Victory Records)
39. Creations – Boom (P.O.D. Cover)
40. Clear Convictions – Justice From Heaven (On The Attack Records)
41. Saving Grace – Oaxaca (Courtesy of Deadboy & Strike First Records)
42. Second Thief – Perfection (Courtesy of Darkslate Records)
43. Auburn – Weary Bones and Watering Eyes (Demo) (Courtesy of Blue Duck Records)
44. Parallels – Patterns

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Show Recap: Heavenfest 2010

Heavenfest had a new home this year, probably due in small part to my blog post last year that got me an email from some of the organizers and a little heated discussion. But in the end I was right, the traffic situation last year was terrible, and herding everyone through the same entrance was also a terrible idea. The organizers took note and moved Heavenfest to Longmont on a bigger piece of land, closer to the freeway, and used multiple entrances. This is only the third year Heavenfest has been around so there’s definitely a learning curve, but I can’t help and think that they should be looking at the other successful music festivals that have been around for years like Cornerstone, Sonshine (29 years), Warped Tour, and many more.

This year went really well, I only had a few issues that I’ll get out of the way first. The doors opened at 10a and Tahoe and I left my place about 11a and made it to the parking lot right about 1130a. We bypassed the huge line of cars waiting to get into the 1st parking lot and drove effortlessly into the second lot, no line at all. Heavenfest probably should have posted signs to let people know about the second lot and avoided a ton of that traffic. After parking we got in line, a long line. This wouldn’t be the last line we got in. I figured that it was 30 minutes before the bands started playing and I was very intent on seeing the opening band for the Heavy Music Stage, Hundredth, one of my favorites. Apparently a 30-minute cushion wasn’t nearly enough time to get through the ridiculous entrance line. Everyone in the line was eventually split into two lines, one for people who needed to buy tickets, and one for people who already had tickets via Will Call or Email confirmation. We needed Will Call so we got in that line, along with hundreds of other people. There were only about 5 computers being used to check-in people, and I know these are run by volunteers, but you’re gonna need more than 5 computers when you expect 30,000+ people to be arriving at roughly the same time.

At the beginning of the line you have a bag search. You were allowed to bring a lot of different items, which was cool, especially water. But on the walk up to the line it was hot and I opened my water, Tahoe did not open his. I was forced to dump out my 95% full large water at the beginning of the line, why? This isn’t the TSA, I’m not flying around, one sniff and you know it’s not Vodka. Very lame, especially at an event so intent on raising awareness for things like clean water in third-world countries, and here I am along with a bunch of other people, pouring out perfectly clean water onto the ground. So then we stand in line in direct sunlight, 90 degrees, no water, for about an hour. Obviously we missed Hundredth and the beginning of the next band In The Midst of Lions.

Not wanting to miss any more bands we took the half-mile walk to the HM Stage right during In The Midst of Lions set. The first couple of bands had a tight schedule, 30 minutes each including setup/sound check. So the fact that ITMOL was halfway through their set meant that we were in line until about 1245p, nonsense. Also, because of the tight schedule bands weren’t doing full sound checks, only making sure their instruments were on and then the sound guy would adjust everything during the first song. Most bands only played 5 songs in 20 minutes so it was a little rough. The other interesting and slightly lame thing at the HM Stage was that there was a barrier right down the middle of the crowd. Basically the sound guy, back about 20 yards, had his own fenced off path going directly to the stage. This was probably so he could get there quickly and fix things. However it made for an awkward crowd dynamic where a majority of the crowd was on one side (the side closest to the rest of the festival). That side had a ton of kids, but the other side was really empty, you could walk right up to the stage for almost any band. Never seen that before, it was weird and there didn’t really seem to be a need for it, maybe to protect the cables running from the soundboard to the stage.

My last complaint was the lack of shade. It was freaking hot and there was no shade anywhere. Not really sure what could have been done about that but it was tough, for everyone.

After ITMOL it was The Great Commission, a “heavy worship” band. They were pretty good, really inciting the crowd with stuff like “when people tell you that this music isn’t worship music, or that it sounds evil, you tell them that God doesn’t hear our guitars or what’s coming out of our amps, He hears what is coming out of our hearts.” Kids were eating that stuff up, and for the most part he made some good points. They ended their set with a cover of Hillsong United which was pretty cool.

After The Great Commission it was one of my other favorite bands I The Breather. They had a lot of problems with their equipment and the guitar player had to switch guitars mid-song. Only maybe the last two songs were full-strength, High Rise and a new song. They had a lot of energy but the crowd just wasn’t into it due to the sound problems.

After I The Breather we decided to get lunch and miss The Crimson Armada. This is where we encountered more lines and made a painfully dumb decision. Tahoe and I stood in the water line (there was free water if you had a water bottle, one of the best things about Heavenfest, a great idea and it worked pretty well). The line took about 20 minutes until we got to fill up our bottles, then we decided to get lunch. We opted for the pizza, which was awesome, huge pieces, I’m talking over and inch thick and probably 6” X 6” and for only $6. Great deal, except the 30-minute line. So if Tahoe and I would have split up, one went for water and the other for food, we would have saved ourselves 30 minutes. But our consolation was getting to catch the entire Petra set from the main stage! Haha, it was pretty entertaining, I thought it was pretty cool.

We ate our food and watched The Color Morale and Sheridan (from Denver). Both bands were pretty good but there was just so much new material for us, neither of us are really listeners of most of the bands on the lineup. After these guys we traveled around to the different merch tables and tents. We didn’t find anything of interest so we finally decided to just stay at the HM Stage. We caught the whole set for A Plea for Purging which I have to admit I really enjoyed. I’ve seen them live probably 5-6 times now and was never interested before but they were good this time, maybe I’m a fan now?

Next up was Blessed by a Broken Heart, and this is where the madness started. The band had some issues getting started; they have some tracks and electric drums so there was a little more stuff to prepare. Once they finally got going you could tell something wasn’t right. BBABH have had some serious troubles on this current tour they’re on (Scream the Prayer Tour) from car troubles, to equipment trouble, to personal issues that one band member had to fly home for. All that and the fact that they don’t have a huge following to begin with. The crowd just wasn’t into it and it was a small crowd to start with since the Supertones were playing on the Rock Stage at the same time. This will probably be the end BBABH, and you could tell they’ve seen the writing on the wall.

Near the end of the set the singer instructed all of the “big people” to gather at the side of the stage. Halfway through “Carry On” the singer climbed up the stack of speakers, grabbed a hold of the tie-downs that were supporting the roof of the stage and climbed all the way up to the top of the roof, with his microphone. From there he said he was going to jump, it was probably 25’ feet high. He sang the rest of the verse and then flipped onto the crowd. It was impressive I must admit, but pretty dangerous. After that song they went into their closer which is a mashup of hip-hop and pop songs, with hardcore drums/guitars. The Great Commission guitarists joined the band on stage, which made the song chaotic and silly. Near the end of the song the singer invited the crowd onto the stage, which meant fans had to climb over the barrier, bypass security and climb up the stage. It was a terrible idea and very disrespectful to the festival as chaos ensued. Quickly the power was cut and things were breaking. Police and backup security showed up and the crowd was dispersed. Things were broken and we were informed that the stage would be down for probably an hour.

Usually that means that the bands just get delayed, but Heavenfest has specific plans at 9p, The Sacred Assembly on the main stage while the other stages are shutdown. This meant that between 6p and 9p the sets from For Today, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, Sleeping Giant, and the headliners The Devil Wears Prada would all have to be shortened as to finish by 9p. This was pretty lame since these were obviously the biggest bands of the day and the ones that most fans came to see.

Fortunately during this time we found some shade from which we could still watch the stage, and hang out with my other buddy Jordan and his family. So we chilled for For Today and Maylene, both played like 30-minute sets plus sound check/breakdown. Mattie from For Today couldn’t resist the chance to preach which ate up another 5-10 minutes even though Chad, the MC of the stage (from Come & Live) tried to get him off the stage. The Devil Wears Prada were going to get their full set no matter what, since they were the headliners, so that meant that Sleeping Giant got pinched into about 20 minutes. They were great though, Sleeping Giant, Tommy really knows how to talk to a crowd and connect with people. He apologized to the security guards for the lack of respect/honor shown by BBABH and really spoke with genuine care. They played 5 songs; “Blame it on the Holy Rollers”, “No One Leaves This Room Sick”, “Pale Horse” and “Gang Signs” were the ones I remember. Tommy couldn’t do his testimony / “Whoremonger” because of time restraints.

Last up was The Devil Wears Prada and they were great as usual. Their setup is solid, no real soundchecks so you don’t even see the band until they’re on stage playing “Danger:Wildman”. Despite the heat they were relentless with Mike roaming back and forth across the stage. They played most of the their typical live set including “Assistant to the Reginal Manager”, “Hey John…”, “Reptar…” “Sassafras” and “HTmL Roolz”. They also played at least one really old song since this is technically part of their Back to the Roots Tour. Also from their upcoming Zombies EP they played “Outnumbered”. Since their set was cut short we didn’t get the normal encore including “Louder Than Thunder”, they just played “Dogs Can Grow Beards All Over.” It was a little sketchy near the end of the set since it was so dark at the stage, there were no lights on the crowd so the pits were pretty dangerous, but we survived.

All in all this was probably my 2nd best Heavenfest experience, the initial Heavenfest was so much fun so that will be tough to beat. A few tweaks here and there and I’m sure next year will be even better than this year, but who can top Petra?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Interview with The Devil Wears Prada

While i was at the Sonshine Festival in Minnesota with my pal Alan i got to meet up with fellow Indie Vision Music write (and my mentor!) Steve Sloan. He was able to set up an interview with one of the hottest bands right now; The Devil Wears Prada. Alan videotaped while Steve and I grilled Mike (lead singer) and Jeremy (lead guitar/backup vocals) about their current Back To The Roots tour and other topics. It was a lot of fun and i'm very thankful to Steve for setting this up, he's been an awesome friend and contact since we met only a few months ago.

Here's the interview:

The Devil Wears Prada Interview at Sonshine 2010 from Indie Vision Music on Vimeo.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Show Recap: Gwen Stacy @ Cervantes

I was planning on hitting up this show on my own since none of my friends out here in Denver are big Gwen Stacy fans, and the rest of the lineup was pretty weak, but fortunately for me my buddy Jordan tagged along. For $15 you couldn't really go wrong, but this show attempted to be a waste of money, one of the few times when i feel let down but a live concert.

I've been a Gwen Stacy fan for quite a while, they have hardcore roots and don't really venture too much into metalcore which is nice. They have some awesome breakdowns with great sing alongs like "This is family, this is pure!" and i haven't had the chance to catch them outside of last year's Scream the Prayer Tour where they weren't playing anything from their latest release A Dialogue. I was pretty excited to finally catch them, and the fact that they were headlining was surprising to me since they didn't have that big of support last summer when i saw them at Sonshine and STP Tour.

Well, they still don't have great support and probably shouldn't have done a headlining tour, the venue was practically empty, easily less than 100 people. The front of the stage was maybe 2 people deep in the middle, and only about 10 kids were really dancing around. We stood near the back for previous bands but we knew that Gwen Stacy would call people out so we moved close to the stage. Sure enough Geoff, lead singer for GS, did call out two girls that were sitting up in the balcony and we spent easily 5 minutes coaxing them down to the stage. Surprisingly Geoff was using a plethora of foul language on the mic was threw me for a total loop.

Normally foul language at a show is nothing new, and i don't have a problem with it at all, but bands that represent themselves as a "Christian Band" and represent a known Christian label like Solid State Records, swearing on the mic seems a bit poor in taste. I was starting to wonder if the band no longer considered themselves to be representing Christ through their platform and after the show i was able to find out that in fact the band no longer considered themselves a "christian band" and that Brent, bass player and the founder of the band, was really the only Christian left. this was disheartening to say the least, but it is what it is.

After instructing the crowd to get "A#% to balls" and pack it in, all 40 of us enjoyed a set that opened with "The Path to Certainty" and then rolled through "The Fear in Your Eyes" and "I Was Born With Two First Names". They also played crowd favorite "Gun Held to the Head" from there initial demo. I believe they only played two tracks from their latest release A Dialogue which were "Profit Motive" and "The First Words" my favorite track. They closed with "Gone Fishing" i think.

The new band was solid, the new drummer Brett Sibley did well and adding the 2nd guitarist (Matt Strahl) really help the overall sound even if he was deathly ill. Frontman Geoff is solid, but he seemed a little off tonite, possibly due to some alcohol consumption before the show? who knows, either way he's pretty good considering there weren't many kids at the show, and he spoke about people using their heads to make decisions, and that the band is about "mutual respect" saying "when you die you're only accountable for yourself."

The other 2 bands we saw were City Serene and Lower Definition. City Serene is a female fronted mini-Attack Attack! with some electronic synth mixed in. they were pretty weak in my opinion, and once again i'm not impressed with female-fronted hardcore bands, i just don't buy it. Lower Definition has a solid sound and plenty of energy, but the lead singer totally ruined it for me. maybe it was the fact that he "drank three bottles of whiskey before the show" and was "totally faded" but he was just stumbling around and kept pulling the mic away from his face when he was singing the clean vocals like he was Justin Timberlake or something. never could hear him at all.

Just a bummer of a show. check out this picture and see how there was no crowd: