Saturday, 20 September 2008


I'm a little shocked by some of the mixed reviews this album has recieved. Yes its a little different from their previous albums but dont let that put you off. "Only By The Night" is a superb album. Many of the songs here are slower paced than expected but they are interesting experiments that showcase the wealth of talent these boys possess. The lead single, "Sex on Fire" is a 5-star song that perfectly reflects the type of gripping sexuality in so many Kings of Leon tracks exude but it is not reflective of the album which is thoughtful and deliberate, perhaps even pop / quasi-shoegaze in places (The spacey "Manhattan" is full of echoing guitars and floats along like a typical U2 song).

The album opens with the brilliantly claustrophobic "Closer", which flirts with industrial beeps and guitar effects like a poppier Nine Inch Nails song before shifting up a gear with a chunky riff in the next single "Crawl". "Use Somebody" is undoubtedly a stadium anthem for years to come with its Coldplay-esque backing vocals and bittersweet lyrics. Its a moment of sincerity from a band who often conjure imagery of girls wetter than New Orleans. Contrast that with the aggression and pride of "Be Somebody" and we have a song that hits all the right notes and succeeds at all its ambitions.

The slow pace of the album isnt a flaw. The songs dont overstay their welcome and the CD clocks in at 42mins, in fact it arguably contributes to the rich flavour of the album as a defiantly bold step from a band rocking festivals on both sides of the Atlantic. Its not perfect, there are some inevitable lulls but they dont last long.

I loved it. Sure a few more obvious "hits" would have been nice but you to admire the bravery of Kings of Leon. They dont care how the world judges them, they arent afraid to evolve their sound. It takes balls and as we all know, Kings of Leon know how to use them.

For the iPod playlist: "Closer", "Sex on Fire", "Use Somebody", "Be Somebody".

Verdict: **** (4/5)

Monday, 15 September 2008



Yoshiki (above), unveiled a few of the things planned for X fans today. TheOtherEast reports that the following announcements were made:

-The countdown live has been announced, more info coming over the next two weeks.
-World Tour dates to be announced over the next two weeks
-New BEST album will go on sale on 29th October
-The Paris live was re-confirmed.
-A Christmas LIVE concert
-X Japan song in the game Rock Band. (Likely on the Japanese port of the first Rock Band which hasn’t come out yet which would then likely come to other regions via DLC
-In 2010 a movie involving the deceased Akira Kurosawa will be released in the states with Yoshiki produced music.
-A new “intense” song by X!
-Re-confirming of the 3 Days reunion coming to DVD
-A Violet-UK release

I'll keep you updated. Thanks to TheOtherEast for the info, I swear, Lee Miller is like a gold mine of X info.


Radiohead are working on album number eight. Speaking to BBC6 Music, Colin Greenwood said: "We've finished the main bulk of it and we're off to Japan in a couple of weeks to finish it off".Guitarist Ed O'Brien added: "We're still talking about doing some stuff and we're really excited about it. First we came off tour to do some writing and we wanted to just carry on doing it because it was so brilliant".

There is a God. And he likes Radiohead.

Sunday, 14 September 2008


"T-Rex doesnt want to be fed, he wants to hunt"
- Dr. Alan Grant, from Jurassic Park

When a band of metal dinosaurs barges into the room, you tend to notice. "Death Magnetic" is the new album from the king of dinosaur bands, Metallica. Now, if you've seen Jurassic Park (and if you havent then you shall be first against the wall), you will know that dinosaurs produce quite a bit of shit. In Metallica's case, this was 2003's "St.Anger", a turgid pile of crap that has only festered over time. If anything was to be salvaged from the burning carcass of that album, it was the culling of the band's inflated egos.

So, what we have in "Death Magnetic" is the sound of a band reborn?

Er....not exactly.

This is the Metallica we all know. Its still the gnarled, raw metal band we have come to love. The songs are a throwback to their heydey, full of lightening solos, pounding drums and chunky riffage. James Hetfield does his signature growl /elongation of words and all in all its a standard Metallica album. Its a whole different stratosphere from "St.Anger".

However, by deciding to return to traditional Metallica standards, the band have exposed the problems that have always dogged their music. At times the songs are focusless and descend into over-long bouts of soloing and bars that are carried out more times than necessary (apparently some cheeky fan has edited the album into a shorter, tighter package and released it online).
Most of the songs coast over the 8 minute mark leading to an overall feeling that producer Rick Rubin should have edited the hell out of the band's babies.

But then would it be the Metallica we wanted? Maybe part of the reason we love their particular brand of metal is because of its faults. Maybe we really want solos that last for a good 5 minutes. Undoubtedly the fans will be pleased. I can appreciate that sometimes we cant be hard on a band that decides to revert to the good ol' days. Hetfield & Co. know what works. It took a shit album and a lot of therapy to get this far but now we have the band we remember. Jurassic Park made us remember how cool dinosaurs were. "Death Magnetic" is a reminder of how good Metallica are. But like the dinosaurs, the evolution stops here.

For the iPod playlist: "The Day That Never Comes", "The Unforgiven III", "Cyanide".

Verdict: *** (3/5) (Its not their best but its fun at least)

Wednesday, 10 September 2008


Now we're talking. I love Kagrra, but I will also be the first to admit that sometimes their songs sound the same. Its also hard to deny that their recent albums, especially "Core", lacked the inventiveness of older albums liked "San". However, new single "Uzu" is a solid stab at mixing things up. Its a darker single for the band, and yet its still very oriental in its use of koto (played by guitarist Shin) and its Ghost in the Shell-style backing synth-choral chants.

Isshi is still an incredible vocalist with an extreme vocal range allowing him to hit high notes with his impressive falsetto and yet still deliver capable middle range verses. Lets not forget the blistering guitar solo and koto breakdown that adds a bajillion awesome points to an already awesome song.

"Hozuki" is a mellow, relaxing koto / acoustic guitar track with a soft, yet beautiful chorus that becomes an orchestral power-ballad in the last third. Its understated for the most part and a lovely addition to the Kagrra, song catalogue.

The 3rd song on the single is "Shigatsu tsuitachi", the bouncy pop number that previously appeared on "Core". It was one of the best tracks on the album and its inclusion here is to mark its use in a new tv show.

Well done Isshi & Co. Its the best Kagrra single in years.

Verdict: **** (4/5)


Its been a long, long 11 months since Dir en grey released their last single, the explosive yet melodic "DOZING GREEN". Their new single is a medium tempo ballad reminiscent of their earlier stylings with its clean vocals and intricate, delicate guitar which soars rather than crunches thus distancing itself from the last ballad Dir en grey released (2003's "Kasumi"). Interestingly, the liner notes reveal that singer Kyo is responsible for this song. Last year's album "The Marrow of a Bone" was a raw, angry album with little or no time for poignant musings or delicate flights of fancy such as "GLASS SKIN". Even its ballads were claustrophobic and oppressive in order to maintain the clenched-fist darkness of the album.

"GLASS SKIN", like "DOZING GREEN" before it, is a step in a new direction. No Dir en grey album is the same and the singles from the upcoming "UROBOROS" are definitely quite far removed from the scream-infested quasi-thrash of "Agitated Screams of Maggots" or the progressive, cascading wall of noise that was "Ryoujoku no Ame". "GLASS SKIN", unsurprisingly, has a glassy feel to it. The piano-led intro and echoing, wailing guitars are crisp and cold sounding creating a fragile, brittle song that beautifully pricks the melancholy we have greatly missed in recent Dir en grey songs. Kyo's singing is soft and gentle but rises to a more depairing tone at the end, which although obviously causing a massive strain on his voice (he's downright out-of-tune at times near the end), doesnt detract from the emotion he packs into his performance.

Shinya relies on a lot of off-beats in his drumming and Toshiya's bass is almost drowned out which is a shame because he is without doubt one of the best bassists in Japan right now. Although arguably, a louder bass would possibly take away from the delicate sound the band is going for with the song. If I had to fault the single, the song isnt too inventive in terms of its composition. Kaoru mentioned that "UROBOROS" would be a very experimental album but honestly this song doesnt stray very far from the usual ballad formula. Heck its not even close to the epic "Aint Afraid To Die" (to date, possibly Diru's greatest and most beloved song).

The B-sides are unusual. Track 2 is a remake of the song "undecided" from 2002's album "kisou". Written by guitarist Die, the remake bares all his trademark flourishes only this time the semi-acoustic track has become fully acoustic and is infused with a classical spanish guitar sound. Kyo's singing is perfect. He doesnt strain for high notes and his soft, beautiful tones are soothing, especially when accompanied by the silky, intertwining guitars and haunting choral backing. Its unusual that a B-Side is just as good, if not better than the A-side but "undecided" is a stunning reminder of just how good Dir en grey can be when they dont get bogged down by western standards of rock music.

Also on the disc is an unplugged version of "Agitated Screams of Maggots". Yes you read that right, "UNPLUGGED". I really dont know what to make of it. They have taken the song, one of Diru's most violent, disturbing songs and reinvented it with a classical, almost vaudeville-style piano. Kyo's screams are now filtered through radio static and backed by a ghostly choir. Its still extremely harsh-sounding but at least its something different from a band who were in real danger of becoming stale last year. Its an oddity if nothing else.
Finally, the limited edition of the single closes with a solid live performance of "Ryoujoku no Ame". Its a pretty decent single from the japanese heavyweights and it makes the anticipation for "UROBOROS" almost unbearable. Roll on November!

Verdict: **** (4/5)


D are a band that despite their attempts, havent really captured the imagination the way PS Company's catalogue of bands have. A few years ago, D were my vote for big success but bands like the GazettE and D'espairsRay have stolen the spotlight. Instead, D decided to stick to their vampiric image and create music that repels as much as enthralls with its baroque composition. The new single "Yami no Kuni no Alice" is typical of D's work. Its defiantly "indies" sounding in terms of production and Asagi's vocals still sound like a poor Gackt. I wont lay into Asagi though because I actually quite like his singing. The chorus of the song is catchy and the melodic harmony of the word "Alice" is really nice. There is some chunky GazettE-esque riffing in there and structurally its all over the place, thereby never going stale. All in all a success for the relatively unsuccessful D.

The b-sides arent as good: "Hamon", "Mad Tea Party" (or "Rosarium" if you picked up the other version of the single) and a voiceless version of the A-side are very much the side-salad to the "Alice" steak. You can eat it or leave it. The chef wont care.

Verdict: *** (3/5)

Friday, 5 September 2008


The track list from Dir en grey's 7th studio album "Uroboros" has been unveiled on the band's official website:

01. SA BIR



04. DOUKOKU TO SARIME ("Lament & Leave")

05. TOGURO ("Coil")



08. REIKETSU NARISEBA ("Cold-bloodedness")

09. WARE, YAMI TO TE… ("My darkness")


11. GAIKA, CHINMOKU GA NEMURU KORO ("Victory, The Silence Of Sleep")



I love some of those song titles. "Sa Bir" is most likely the arabic word "sabir" meaning "patience" and "Vinushka" is hindi for "Deciever". Can't wait for this album to drop. Also, the previously announced song "Third Time Does The Trick" has been renamed "Stuck Man". The website also hints at english versions of "Dozing Green" and "Glass Skin". Interesting...


Fall Out Boy have put their new single up on their website and its quite good indeed. It doesnt push the envelope too far but its a solid groover with a biting guitar. Lyrically its clever (as to be expected) and it has the typical FOB underlying sleaze factor that made previous singles so delicious too. Expect this one to get people on their feet in rock clubs everywhere.

Verdict: *** (3/5)

Thursday, 4 September 2008


(This info comes courtesy of

As the world's biggest X Japan fan, I felt it my duty to report that on September 15th in Tokyo, Yoshiki will address fans on the future plans of X Japan (a.k.a: Best. Band. EVAAAAAAAR). The first 3000 fans to arrive with proof of their fandom (like a cd of poster) will recieve an exclusive X Japan "World Tour Start Commemoration Street Army" T-Shirt.

I want one. I want one now.

Nikkan Sports also reports that an X Japan concert will be held in Japan before the end of the year. Cool I guess but they just had 3 mega-fuckin-amazing gigs this year, the big news is the World Tour. There is a strong chance that I may see my favourite band of all time. If it happens, then I will be the crying, screaming mess of a man in the front row. And you can thank Yoshiki for that.

More news as it happens. For now, here's the video for their last single "I.V."

Tuesday, 2 September 2008


"Sex on Fire" is the first single from the new album "Only By The Night" and it proves beyond doubt that Kings of Leon are one of this decade's mega-bands. The song effortlessly carries the southern swagger and big-hearted yowling of vintage Kings but with a power that mirrors the jack-hammer these Tennessee boys are taking to the current rock scene. With a howling guitar and driving bass, the song flies through its short three and a half minute run-time while Caleb Followill delivers yet another powerhouse vocal performance. His trademark yokel-croon is more than capable of running through a myriad of emotions. Its definitely another classic track from the band and one that only heightens the anticipation for the new album and UK stadium tour.

If this is a sign of the future, then I guess we must bow down to our new masters, the Kings of Leon.

Verdict: ***** (5/5)

Monday, 1 September 2008


Well the PV finally surfaced on YouTube and its great. The song is a return to greatness for Diru and I look forward to reviewing the single in the next 10 days but for now, lets just study the video.

The band are finally visible again after a couple of years of hiding their faces. There is a LOT of slow motion but it works well with the snow-covered beauty of the landscape. The whole video has a CG-finish to its visuals but its better than the huge number of bland "performance" videos these days. Its a winner.

Verdict: **** (4/5)

Single Review of "Glass Skin" coming soon!