Thursday, May 27, 2010
In case you didn't see my post on twitter/facebook awhile ago, i've joined the Indie Vision Music family as a reviewer / news poster. IVM is a website dedicated to covering "Christian" bands, usually with an alternative sound like punk or hardcore. IVM focuses on smaller bands, either unsigned or signed to smaller labels like Tooth & Nail or Facedown Records.
This is really exciting for me, i contacted Brandon who started and runs IndieVisionMusic.com and asked him to check out this music blog and within a few days he asked me to join the team. I love everything about music, analyzing and discussing it, and this will give me a bigger audience to do that (hopefully!). They've asked me to do album reviews as well as post any news i hear or new bands to check out. On top of that they would like to start posting reviews of live shows, something i've been doing here for awhile, so hopefully i'll be posting some of my recaps as well.
I'm going to continue this blog because it's basically an online music diary for me, i reference it all the time. Plus IVM tries to cover only "Christian" related music, but i don't solely listen to Christian music, and this blog gives me a place to continue posting about bands that don't fit the IVM standard.
I hope you'll continue to follow me over at IVM, so far i've had good responses on my reviews. I was really excited when the rep for Blood & Ink Records contacted me about doing reviews for two debut EP's coming out this month. He sent me the two EP's (for free of course!) ahead of the release date and i got to check 'em out, then post my reviews. I'm excited to get my foot in the door doing something i'm really passionate about, writing and discussing music, and i hope i can continue to move up in this field (this spot isn't paid...yet!).
I really need to thank the music friends in my life for helping develop my passion for music, from the "Fall Children" growing up in Folsom, to all my friends from CCU who introduced to metal and scremo, to my current group of friends that helped me discover music outside of the hardcore world. i hope you still give me feedback and ideas and comments on my posts!
Here are my three reviews so far on IVM:
All At Risk - s/t
Dependency - Convicted
Thin Ice - Revelation Through Tribulation
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
- Ready for Conflict
- Vultures, Scavengers
“The problems in our lives seems so big. I can barely see the horizon over these giants.”
These are the opening lyrics to Dependency’s debut EP titled Convicted, released through Blood & Ink Records on May 25th. Hailing from Nashville Dependency broke onto the scene last summer with their energetic Spirit-filled hardcore. They gave away their 3-song demo for free to anyone who would take it, and from there the buzz began to grow. The 3-song demo was so good and it left you wanting more and now we finally have it!
Convicted is 7 tracks, about 20 minutes of solid hardcore. It has that raw feel that good hardcore should have, less time spent on over-producing the sound and more time conveying the passionate energy these kids have. The mix is pretty good although at some points the vocals can get a bit lost, but that’s usually before the gang vocals come with full-force to support singer Kyle Fesmire’s message. These songs are going to be crazy live, get your Kung-fu kicks ready!
The EP opens with the “Goliath”, an honest look at the problems in our lives and the reality that we all feel a bit overwhelmed at times. The track starts off great, but after about a minute the tracks falls into a bit of a musical intro/interlude. It seems a bit early in the EP for a break in my opinion. After the first song the second track “Convicted”, brings you back to what you came for. Probably the best song of the collection with a message of hope, a song to bring people together combined with the urgency of the chorus “We are convicted and we will prevail!”
Next up is another interlude track, “Forgiven”, which may have inserted here to give you a second to reflect on the truth already spoken by Dependency, or maybe to give you a second to catch your breath before the album really picks up. The next two songs come from the 3-song demo, “Ready For Conflict” and “Fragile”. Once again Dependency’s ability to craft a hardcore song is apparent, taking cues from bands like Strongarm and Verse with the speed and breakdowns in each song. These two tracks are very solid, I’m glad they carried them over from the demo. The vocal style really reminded me of Life In Your Way with their unashamed confessions of failure and their outspoken faith in Christ, they don’t leave any doubt where they stand and what they want to accomplish.
This EP was mixed by Jay Maas who has also worked with other hardcore bands like Verse, Have Heart, Defeater and Shipwreck, and Dependency has the sound and feel to lineup with any of those bands. The last real hardcore track on the album, “Vultures, Scavengers”, is the first track where you find a little darker sound. Previous songs feature an honest and optimistic, hopeful theme, while “Vultures, Scavengers” paints a picture of becoming overrun with guilt, and how the Vultures “…circle my head, waiting for me to fail again.” But Dependency isn’t here to bring everyone down, they’re here to lead and the last line of the song; “I find my oasis in God.” Is letting everyone know what you need in your darkest hour.
The last track, “Decay”, is a slow-moving song, plodding along with ambient guitars and stripped down drumming. Not really a favorite of mine but it’s a nice contrast to the rest of the EP, and good ending track with a dark feel and almost eerie effect. It feels like the main theme of Convicted is confessing that this life is tough, there are going to be struggles and failures, but “These giants are but specks before my God”.
OVERALL, I’m really encouraged by Convicted. Dependency hasn’t been around for a whole year yet but already they’re making a name for themselves. This EP might be a little tough for listeners who don’t have an ear for hardcore, with it’s grittiness and tough sound, but the message of hope is a message for everyone. Each listen to Convicted is an aggressive onslaught of passionate hardcore music that will prompt you to get back on your feet and put your hope in Christ!
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Release Date: Feb 19, 2010
- I'm Sorry (For The Last Time)
- Forever (I Need You)
- My Everything
- Here's To You
- The Other Side
- Not My Life
- Falling For You
- Nothing Left
- The Fight
- Through The Fire
All At Risk is an unsigned Denver-based pop-punk band that recently released their debut full-length in February. The self-titled album features 10 tracks recorded at Side 3 Studios in downtown Denver and can be purchased online at itunes.
Poppy punk-rock might be a dying genre, maybe punk-rock altogether, but a few bands are staying true to their roots and the music they love, and one of those bands would be All At Risk. Based in the Mile High City, All At Risk features singer/song writer Jared Phifter, Jon Davis on drums, Jeff Manning on bass and Ben Jenkins on guitars. Jared and Jon have played music together for the past 10 years, first in the band Fallenshort and now with All At Risk. Their chemistry is evident throughout the album.
For an unsigned band All At Risk have the sound of veterans, putting in years of hard work and do-it-yourself effort to rise in the Colorado music scene. A few things have stayed consistent through the years though; they’re love for a positive, poppy punk-rock sound and their faith in Christ. Although they list bands like MxPX and Blink-182 as influences, they sound more like Broadway Calls and New Found Glory, with more focus on singing and quality song writing and not just blasting through songs at high-speed.
This record jumps right out of the gate with an upbeat track called “I’m Sorry (for the last time)” and “Forever (I Need You)”, two tracks with energy and speed. I love the fact that songs have multiple elements to them, a variety of drumming and aren’t just resigned to 4-chord predictable song structure. Jared has a unique sounding voice with a raw, unfiltered (and un-autotuned!) sound that quickly grows on you. Forever has a guitar riff that reminds me of Blink-182 during the Dude-Ranch days though I doubt we’d catch Blink singing about the sacrifices that Jared sings about on this track.
The third track has a special meaning behind it, but you’ll figure that out pretty quickly after Jared sings the question: “will you wear this ring?”. His proposal to his girlfriend at the time (now his wife) will be played over and over for years to come. The track slows way down for ending setting up the next few tracks as the slower part of the album.
“Here’s To You” could be a song for any graduation, looking back on the good times, a solid ballad with a catchy singalong chorus. “Not My Life” is my favorite track on the record, but that’s probably the metal-fan in me. It’s easily the heaviest track on the record, fast-paced and crunching guitars, for 2:00 minutes All At Risk let their hair down and rocked out.
There’s two final upbeat punk songs with “Nothing Left”, which takes off at a blistering pace before settling into one of the best tracks on the album and “The Fight” which features some solid guitar work. The last track of the album is a subdued “Through the Fire”, a slower, more serious song, fitting for the closer.
Overall I think this is a great effort by the band. The production quality is solid for an unsigned band with good low-end and clear vocals. My biggest complaint about the album would be the track order, the record starts off so upbeat and energetic but after the first two tracks the feel really dies down. The energy really doesn’t pick up again until track 6, and I realize that every album has slower songs but it just feels a little early in the track-order on this one. I do love the fact that from start to finish you get solid tracks, no intro tracks or interlude stuff, just 10 solid songs. Grab this album and blast it in your car, don’t be ashamed to sing along!
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
my buddy Tahoe and I ventured down to the Gothic Theatre to catch one of our favorite bands; As I Lay Dying who were on tour with support from War Of Ages, Blessthefall, and Demon Hunter. When I originally saw this tour lineup I was very excited. I am a fan of AILD and War of Ages, I’ve listened to Blessthefall, and I was interested to hear Demon Hunter. I've been trying to catch War Of Ages live for awhile now after i missed them at Sonshine Festival last year, then they had to bail on the 10 for $10 Tour right before the Denver stop at the end of last summer. After seeing the show however I think this lineup was very poor.
First though, As I Lay Dying, the headliner. They always put on a stellar show and this was one of the better performances I’ve seen by them. Even though they just released a new record, The Powerless Rise, they only played 2 songs from the record. It always cool to hear new tracks live, but as a fan going to see a band live you want to hear the songs you know and love, and As I Lay Dying understands that. They played all of their big songs starting with the opener 94 Hours then into An Ocean Between Us. About 4 songs in they played the first track off the new record, Beyond Our Suffering, and it seemed to go over pretty well. Since their last record, An Ocean Between Us, was released about 3 years ago fans were hungry for new music, and i'm sure a good portion of the crowd had already gotten their hands on the new album and were singing along!
Speaking of singing along the energy in the Gothic was awesome. The show was sold out and the floor was energetic and supporting the bands well. with four huge records under their belt, As I Lay Dying is able to play a set that is filled with great songs, and every song incited the crowd more. So after Through Struggle and Beyond Our Suffering the band went off stage to get different guitars. this little break might have been the most impressive moment of the night when Jordan entertained us with an intense drum solo. for most of the Jordan was swinging his hair with all of his appendages going in different directs so that if you couldn't hear what he was playing you'd think it'd sound like a bunch of nonsense, except that its not! he's got to be one of the best drummers out there, just solid!
The middle of the set included songs Sound of Truth, Within Destruction, and Forsaken. As I Lay Dying was blasting through songs, rarely taking a second to talk between songs which i personally enjoy (less talk, more rock). This led into the 2nd new song of the night, Vacancy, which was an interesting choice. Tim Lambesis introduced the song as "a fast one" which was apparently the reason it was chosen, however there are much better songs on the new album that would have been great to hear but maybe they haven't prepped them for the live show yet. After Vacancy they played Confined, Meaning in Tragedy, and the crowd favorite I Never Wanted, which featured the crowd in full voice!
After the "last" song, Tim thanked the crowd and they left the stage. I'm personally a little done with planned encores but whatever, As I Lay Dying were obviously coming back to play some more, maybe Tim needed some air after playing at Denver's high altitude. A few minutes after chants of "one more song" the lights dimmed and on-stage spotlights began to search the crowd. combined with the darkness and the smoke this created an eerie effect, almost like flashlights searching through a dark foggy night. Then we were greeted with the sound of Nick's lead guitar, playing the epic intro Separation. Soon joined by Phil's guitar the encore was on, AILD played Separation, Nothing Left and finally Forever.
The great thing about As I Lay Dying's live set is that everyone in the band gets involved. Tim is a solid front-man with his strong vocals and confidence, he moves around the stage and gets the kids involved. Josh on bass and supports with clean vocals, while he's not the best singer around he's still gives a ton of energy to the crowd. I've already talked about how amazing Jordan is on the drums, it's great that he's up on an elevated drum-riser and instead of rocking a double-kick pedal, he goes with two separate bass drums with always looks great! And the guitarist are great, Nick and Phil totally compliment each other, and even though Phil is technically the rhythm guitarist, he gets his chance to show off his chops.
The show was great, the only disappointing thing for me was that none of the bands talked about their faith, or even mentioned Christ at all. This may have been because it was already assumed to be Christian bands, like Third Day doesn't need to announce what they believe at their shows, but still I've seen AILD before and it's always encouraging to hear bands with such credibility encourage the fans in this way. Maybe next time they'll start adding some of their new songs to their set.
War of Ages:
Thursday, May 13, 2010
metalcore / Christian / rock
- "Son of the Morning" - *****
- "The New Breed" - ***
- "In All Honesty" - ****
- "Breathing Blood" - ***
- "Reveries of Flight" - ***
- "World Without A Sun" - ****
- "The Fire Dawn" - ***
- "A Banquet for Traitors" - ***
- "Commissioned by Kings" - *****
- "The Finisher" - ****
I was very excited for this album from Oh Sleeper, they are one of my favorite bands. I was a little disappointed though, since this is a “concept” album, with the theme of the battle between God and Satan. As one whole piece the album is awesome, but as individual songs most are not memorable besides Son of the Morning, Commissioned By Kings, and The Finisher. The drumming on this album is excellent, some of the best metal drumming I’ve heard.