Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Avenged Sevenfold (A7X) drummer James "The Rev" Sullivan was found dead yesterday (Dec 28th) at his home. He was 28. In a statement released today, the band said:
"It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we tell you of the passing today of Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan. Jimmy was not only one of the world's best drummers, but more importantly, he was our best friend and brother. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jimmy's family and we hope that you will respect their privacy during this difficult time."
This is a real shock to me and the entire music scene. The Rev was a hell of a drummer and his presence will be missed for a long time. Two of my cousins are Avenged die-hards and they are both devastated. Rest in piece dude.
I think i'll spin some A7X out of respect.
Wednesday, 23 December 2009
L'Arc~en~Ciel - Awake (2005)
Possibly my second favourite Laraku album, (after Ray), Awake is full of wonderful songs spanning all areas of the emotional register. Darker than most L'Arc~en~Ciel albums, it was accompanied by the anti-war themed Awake Tour 2005 which served to open the album up in new and breath-taking ways. From the beautiful simplicity of "My Dear" and sweeping "Jojoushi" to the huge catharsis of "Hoshizora", Awake is L'Arc~en~Ciel on top form.
Luna Sea - Lunacy (2000)
The final album from Luna Sea was a stunning full stop on a legendary discography. "Sweetest Coma Again", "4:00AM", "Tonight", the astounding "Gravity", Lunacy is testament to the remarkable consistency of one of Japan's kings of rock. Even X Japan can't compare in terms of regular, high-quality output.
Tool - Lateralus (2001)
The prog-metal heavyweights could easily have two albums on this list but I thought it best to restrict the list to one entry per band. Lateralus, released five years after the stunning Aenima was conclusive evidence that Tool were not one-hit wonders. The complexity and intensity of each track on the album is like an emotional sucker-punch. Tracks like "Schism", "Parabola" and the third act "trilogy" of "Disposition", "Reflection" and "Triad" are some of the greatest experimental metal tracks of all time.
Buck-Tick - Kyokuto, I Love You (2002)
This could have been 2003's Mona Lisa Overdrive or 2000's One Life, One Death so groundbreaking was Buck-Tick's music in the early noughties. Mixing alt-rock, industrial, goth, electro, acoustic, pop... Kyokuto, I Love You makes it onto the list for one song alone: "Long Distance Call", a song written by Atsushi for his dead mother, describing one of their final phone calls. Absolutely heart-breaking.
No-one does heart-ache like Ben Gibbard. An album charting the highs and lows of a long-distance relationship, it starts of with the crashing percussion of "The New Year" before shifting gears eventually slowing to a halt mid-way through the album with the gloomy "Tiny Vessels". From here, Death Cab emerge with the title track, one of the most gorgeous lighter-in-the-air songs of the decade, an anthem that cements Gibbard as the voice of indie. Transatlanticism is a masterpiece.
A fucking rock juggernaut. That is how I describe The Black Parade. A concept album, it tells the story of "The Patient", a cancer victim and his experience of death. Shattering the conceptions of MCR, they escape the emo tag in a hail of 70's style rock with soaring Queen-esque guitars and glam theatrics. The musicianship is also superb throughout. Another album that will live on for years to come.
( ) is a genuinely harrowing album. It shouldn't work; it has gibberish lyrics, long periods of musical reptition and the pace of a brick but once it grabs you, it tears your emotions to shreds. the nurturing, melancholic first half of the album gives way to an underlying anger, climaxing with a song so searingly vicious for Sigur Rós , it will haunt you for days. It's dark, it's depressing but it's unrelentingly magnificent.
Linkin Park - Meteora (2003)
Linkin Park perfected their sound with this, their sophomore release. Equal parts rough and smooth, the album hurtles through it's 39minute run-time, bombarding the listener with chugging guitars, hip-hop grooves and digital wizardry as well as introducing new elements such as piano and strings, all of which combine to make a scintillating record. Meteora gave us the singles "Somewhere I Belong", "Faint", "Breaking The Habit" and probably their biggest ever hit: "Numb".
What can you really say about Kid A that hasn't been said already? Kid A is when the world realised Radiohead is the greatest band of this generation. The polar opposite of Ok Computer, Kid A is a bleak, synthesized electro-rock album bristling with eccentricities. Divisive among critics and fans alike when it was first released, it now sits amongst the great albums of all time. Jaw-dropping.
I could have picked Macabre (2000), Kisou (2002), Vulgar (2003), Uroboros (2008), such is the caliber of Diru's back-catalogue, but it was 2005's Withering to death that saw Dir en grey catapult into worldwide success. Leaner than Vulgar but heavier and more melodic, it is an album of lyrical and musical brilliance, screaming at you through your speakers with killer songs such as "The Final", "Kodou" and "Saku" which famously won MTV'S Headbanger's Ball 2006.
Sunday, 20 December 2009
I love Bon Jovi. Let's just get that out of the way. I will admit that some times they bore me to tears (and I can't stand bland country-rock either) but when they get it right, they really get it right. I didn't listen to Lost Highway. The reported Nashville-ness of it left me cold so I never coughed up the cash for it.
When I heard that Bon Jovi were "going back to the rock" with their new album I was more relieved than anything else. Having seen Bon Jovi in top form at Croker a few years ago, I know they can rock a stadium and desperately wanted another album to reflect that. The good news is that The Circle is indeed filled with anthemic songs bristling with blue-collar earnestness and lighter in the air moments. Lead single "We Weren't Born To Follow" is good, if a little lazy. How come all their lead singles seem to "go out" to someone? "Tommy & Gina", "The ones who stood their ground"... I could go on.
But i digress. there are some stellar JBJ songs on this. "Live Before You Die" and "Brokenpromiseland" in particular stand out. It's safe, unassuming stadium pop-rock but I'll be damned if they arent the best at it.
Verdict: **** (4/5)
Monday, 26 October 2009
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
Monday, 14 September 2009
Did South Park not teach you anything, Kanye? When will you learn that everyone thinks you are an asshole? You ruined everybody's night at the VMAs.
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
I didnt like the Arctic Monkeys. I always lumped them in with Oasis and Kasabian as one of those English lad-rock bands that sit well with the typical drunken English lout in a football shirt. In a word, Britpop.
It is with much delight that the third album from the band, Humbug, changes my perception entirely. Here, under the guiding hand of Josh Homme, is a band trying to shake off this image. They basically went into the desert and got stoned. The result is a strange combination of scorching desert rock and blues with a poetic undercurrent.
The first four songs are stellar. Almost fit for a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack. The single "Crying Lightning" is a grower and it's such a change of pace from their earlier work. The almost psychedlic caress of "Secret Door" is soothing and yet forboding almost like a strange high from the band's peyote experiments.
The downfall of such ambition is in this case a lack of melody and structure that scuppers the album. It's a trip in musical form and from a band i had previously written off, it's a trip I'd be willing to take again.
Verdict: **** (4/5)
Saturday, 29 August 2009
Noel Gallagher has apparently quit Oasis after 18 years. In a statement released by Noel (I can't say Gallagher because there's two of them), he blamed his decision to leave on his brother Liam. He literally can't work one more day with him. That's as good a reason as I've seen to quit a band and to be fair, it was about time Oasis called it a day. Maybe they'll both be happier this way.
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
YOSHIKI was wearing a neck brace and had his left arm in plaster, following surgery in late July in the U.S. on a slipped disc in his spine. He revealed that he would have to get the disc replaced within the next three years, and that if nerve damage in his arm did not heal in the next two years, then it would be permanent. He said doctors cautioned him on his drumming practice which will resume next month, telling him not to raise his arms too high, not to twist his body left and right, and not to use anything heavier than one kilogram."
Also getting on everyone's nerves is X Japan's complete inability to LET HIDE REST IN PEACE! But i won't get into that.
Terrifying. Absolutely fucking brilliant. The new single from the Biff is a monster. It explodes into action with a killer riff reminding us exactly how good Biffy Clyro can be at rocking your socks off. Most interesting is the string accompaniment at the end which follows the chugging, sludgy riffs into the kind of rythym-shifting math rock chunkiness that Tool would be proud of. As Zane Lowe put it, "Did they just invent Symphonic Scottish Hard-Core?". If this single is anything to go by, the new album, out October, is going to be fantastic and 2009 will belong to Biffy Clyro. 'Mon the Biff.
Verdict: ***** (5/5)
Monday, 24 August 2009
I was actually hopeful this time. I guess I should have suspected this after the announcement on August 3rd that Yoshiki had undergone another surgery for a pinched nerve in his spine and honestly, if he needs the time to recover then I say postpone the concert as long as necessary but Yoshiki: just for the sake of the fans, don't announce any more concerts or make any promises until you are 100% certain you can fulfil them because the World Tour has regrettably become a farce. That said, I still can't wait to see my favourite band and with the addition of Sugizo on guitar it should be awesome.
Get well soon Yoshiki.
Friday, 21 August 2009
I quite like this! It's got a very chunky riff and the quasi-growl vocals accompanying the guitar punches in the bridge are awesome. I'm still on the fence about girugämesh's placement of poppy choruses in otherwise dark pounding songs. It seems a little cynical and radio-orientated but I guess if MUCC can get away with it, why not giru?
Suiren, the b-side, further likens the new girugämesh to MUCC. It's a disco beat song like MUCC'S "Fuzz" and "Oz". It's a good b-side and in a way i'm warming to girugämesh again after a brief period of meh-ness. Plus check out the cool little solo at the end of Suiren. Good times.
Verdict: **** (4/5)
Friday, 14 August 2009
Monday, 10 August 2009
Japanese symphonic metal band Versailles announced yesterday (August 9th) via their Official Website that bassist Jasmine You has passed away. It had been known that he had health problems and would be taking a break from the band in order to recuperate but it would seem that these problems have indeed proved overwhelming. The cause of death is still however unconfirmed as the band are awaiting consent from Jasmine You's family before publishing details. Versailles have postponed all band activities indefinitely, as they try to cope with this tragic loss.
My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Jasmine You, his friends, bandmates and fans.
Thursday, 6 August 2009
Not really feeling it. "Ignorance" is punchy but tuneless and too similar to other Paramore songs notably "Emergency" and "Fences". Maybe I expected more melody given that their last single was the impressive "Decode". The new album "Brand New Eyes" is out at the end of September and I'm sure there will be better songs on it. As it stands, a mixed return for the band.
Verdict: ** (2/5)
Wednesday, 5 August 2009
Radiohead's new single is a tribute to the late Harry Patch who died recently, the last English survivor of World War I. The song is an orchestral piece arranged by Johnny Greenwood with vocals by Thom Yorke and it's very pretty. It's a moving tribute, if not spectacular, softly moving between moods with swells of strings and a large helping of nostalgia. It reminds me of a happier "Longing ~ Setsubou no yoru" by X Japan.
It is available to download now from the Official Radiohead website for £1 but it should be noted however that all proceeds go to the Royal British Legion. Hence i haven't bought it. I don't get this move by Radiohead. Couldn't they have picked a charity thast looks after veterans or something rather than fund the British war machine? Radiohead fans have to support the British army if they want to download the song. Sorry boys. Not for me thanks.
Verdict: *** (3/5)
Tuesday, 4 August 2009
There is almost an hour of music here, peppered with brief interludes to give the listener a respite from an otherwise dark and bleak album. Previous singles “Guren” and “Leech” appear here in altered form, re-recorded and remixed whilst their most recent release, “Distress and Coma” remains unchanged, as does B-side “Headache Man”. The new version of “Guren” features more prominent acoustic guitar and slightly altered vocals and sounds stronger here than it did a year ago. By contrast, “Leech” redux is slightly robbed of its bite by a dull mix that numbs the guitars. It is unfortunate that the band felt the need to change this song as it was perfectly fine in its original form.
Of the new songs, “The Invisible Wall” stands out as a highlight with its pounding riff and driving rhythm, but the true star of the show is “13Stairs[-]1”. Gloriously pulsating and snarling through its slow burner opening, the song then thunders into a grinding head-banger. Positioned perfectly as the tenth track on the album, it manages to keep things interesting rather than allow itself to drift into the mid-album lull that plagued “Stacked Rubbish”. It sounds completely different from anything the GazettE has tried before and it will go down as one of the best songs in their catalogue. “In The Middle of Chaos” will divide fans with its very Western power chord structure but the album ends a little too typically with a fast heavy song (in this case “Ogre”) and an eerie but heavy slow song (“Dim Scene” - doing exactly what previous closers “Taion” and “Chizuru” did better). It’s a minor complaint in what is an impressive comeback from the jewel in the PSC crown. We will see if the GazettE can maintain this high standard with the single “Before I Decay”, due for release this October.
Friday, 26 June 2009
Saturday, 25 April 2009
The GazettE's new album "DIM" is out July 15th - I will be getting it I think. Their last album was quite a pleasant package when it arrived in the post so I think I may splash the cash this time around too. Its only Y3600 too which is respectable enough.
Gackt on the other hand can suck my balls. Staggering his new album across 4 single releases (7 if you count the last 3 singles) is just greed taken to a new form. Instead of one album of 13 or so songs for the usual price, we now get said songs for nearly 3 times that. Not on, Gackt. I shall be downloading your singles illegally, tagging them under the album title of MY choosing and frowning upon your greedy corporate soul. It was supposed to be about the music, man!
Irish singer/songwriter Neev released the second single from her upcoming album "Cardboard Spaceship". Its really good people so buy it on iTunes. Well worth 79p.
"We <3 hide ~ The Best in the World", the latest best-of collection from the late X Japan guitarist hide goes on sale to mark his 11th anniversary this Saturday May 2nd. I voted along with other fans around the world on the tracklisting, and the limited version comes with a t-shirt so I am relatively excited about it.
Unfortunately, I had to cancel my order for the extraordinarily over-priced Dir en grey dvd out next week. Tour 08 ~ The Rose Trims Again will be released in Europe a week or two after the Japan release and hopefully at a much cheaper price. HMV are the only site listing it however...
That's all for now, friends.
Saturday, 7 March 2009
I have been waiting for this one for a long time. MUCC are a band of consistent experimentation and this lastest release Kyutai is no exception. Tighter and harsher than last year's Shion, it bristles with energy from start to finish. After the eerie instrumental title track, the album launches into the riff heavy "Houkou" which is metal-light but thoroughly enjoyable, if completely over-shadowed by the next track: "Ageha". This is still a beast of a track and remains a standout not just on this album but in their discography thus far. There is an ever-so-slight lull until "Oz", a bouncy dance-rock number that gets the blood going like a sequel to "Fuzz" from Shion.
"Sankiba" is a slow respite from the rock and pleasant enough in its ethereal melody. Its a pause to catch breath before the album's other juggernaut single: "Sora to ito". Awesome from start to finish, the song features Tatsurou singing with an autotuner, lending an inhuman quality to his vocals. There is a simplistic monster riff and some amazing roaring from Tatsurou before a kickass solo brings the song full circle. Kick. Ass.
"hanabi" is the closing track. It starts off with a piano and sounds quite balladesque until 2:38 when it becomes an upbeat dance-rocker, then it transforms again into a Kagrra style neo-japanesque song with jangly notes and strings. Its unusual and typical from a band so capable of rocking the boat and changing styles.
Overall, a resounding success from MUCC. One of their best.
For the iPod playlist: "Ageha", "Oz", "Sora to ito", "hanabi".
Verdict: **** (4/5)
Two cds accompany the big screen adaptation of Watchmen, Alan Moore's acclaimed graphic novel. The first cd, Music from the Motion Picture is an eclectic mix of period songs featuring the likes of Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, and Jimi Hendrix.
The only new track is a cover and its by My Chemical Romance. Its a high energy take on Bob Dylan's classic "Desolation Row". The song is a fun, if forgettable, rendition and on a cd full of older songs feels a little out of place. Which is funny because this is one of the most jarring collection of songs ever released. Good music I suppose though.
Verdict: *** (4/5) - Can't fault the songs for quality. Time-honoured classics.
The second cd is the Original Motion Picture Score by Tyler Bates. The score is a synth heavy affair, a mix of Don Davis and Hans Zimmer. Its not very memorable to be honest. The softer moments are undercut by poor melodies whilst the bombastic action sequences tick the generic action movie score boxes one after another. The oppressive mood of the source material is alive and present but you can't help but wish the score was more impressive. They should have hired Harry Gregson-Williams. He does this type of music much better.
Verdict: ** (2/5)
This my first review for askew magazine.
For the iPod playlist: "Arabesque", "Yami no kuni no Alice".
Verdict: **** (4/5)
Monday, 2 March 2009
The twelth album from U2 was always going to pick up a bit of flak. Its very easy to shoot them down with gurning philanthropist Bono at the helm. The problem is they actually can make decent music. Go into No Line On The Horizon expecting it to suck and you will come away feeling quite guilty. The songs here are catchy and fun and despite the age gap that will inevitably distance the band from younger listeners, you have to admit they at least put up a good fight. The title track has an interesting chord progression that really sits well with me. Its almost like an Aerosmith song. Almost.
"Magnificent" is destined to be a stadium shaker. It follows the typical U2 formula of a catchy riff and anthemic chorus but with a grooving beat and bouncy bass-line. Its a great track. Its a little Coldplay-ish but you feel U2 have more authenticity with this sound.
There are quite a few slow songs on the disc that grind the album to a halt but for the most part they are very listenable. "White as Snow" is pretty and rather downbeat for a U2 song. "Cedars of Lebanon" screams epic in theory even though its quite plodding and rather short given the lyrical ambition on show. Its a really interesting and moody song though. Lead single "Get On Your Boots" will still ultimately be a love it or hate it track. It doesnt quite fit with the album's sound but it's certainly a grower.
It's not amazing but No Line On The Horizon is very much a decent effort from a band many consider to be past its sell-by-date. Never boring, it sits comfortably in the U2 catalogue and thats triumph enough, in my opinion.
For the iPod playlist: "Magnificent", "Cedars of Lebanon".
Verdict: *** (3/5)
At last, a new BUCK-TICK album. I really adore BUCK-TICK but there was an ebbing feeling that they were growing a little stale. As much as I loved the singles "Rendezvous" and "Alice in Wonder Underground", I found myself quite disappointed with the subsequent album Tenshi no Revolver. It had a few awesome tracks (like the amazing "Snow White") but there were so many sound alike songs that the album felt a little flat. I was also left a little cold by the recent singles "Heaven" and "Galaxy" but thankfully the new album memento mori is very good. Pinching styles from nearly all their previous albums, memento mori is at once refreshing and nostalgic and considering the overall theme running through the album, this is a good thing. "Makka no Yoru-bloody- is a remix of the "Heaven" b-side but it kicks off the album with ferocity much like "Nakayubi" from 2003's seminal Mona Lisa Overdrive.
"Galaxy" feels more at home when surrounded by the other tracks and as such I have a new found appreciation for it. This also goes for "Heaven". Some bits are a little cheesy. I can't help but cringe when Sakurai sings the words"boys & girls" or "hippy hippy shake".
There are some excellent songs on here: "Coyote" is a stripped-down western guitar song with a catchy chorus reminiscent of "Last Smile" by Love Psychedelico. "Message" is a touching piano ballad, a first for the band, and the title track is bouncy and fun with Imai's shouts of "Remember to die!".
Overall its a fun album and proof that after 25 years, BUCK-TICK can still legitimately sit with the other legends of rock.
For the iPod playlist: "Makka no Yoru-bloody-", "Coyote", "Memento Mori".
Verdict: **** (4/5)
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Gackt returns with a dance/rock hybrid that as expected is pretty awesome. I really hope the man releases an album soon because on the basis of this and previous single "Jesus", he is working on some better material. Having worn the Diabolos-style sound down to its final threads, I am more than willing to embrace his slight change of direction, almost returning to the sound of Rebirth. "Ghost" is fun, rocking and a nice hint at the future of Gackt. Pity he still can't dance. Just give it up!
Verdict: **** (4/5)
The sheer wonder and awe of the Coldplay experience is reason enough to give this a 5 star review. Martin, for all his pretentiousness (calling a kid "Apple" is a crime), is warm and entertaining. He dashes across the stage and up and down the ego ramps with endless energy and enthusiasm. The band were on top form in Belfast and played a set filled with variety, spanning all 4 studio albums. Most thrilling was the stage setup with a smaller stage at the end of the runway used for a techno mini-set and a beautiful piano version of The Hardest Part which for the first time seemed like a good song when stripped of its X&Y bullshit. Globes descending from the ceiling, massive yellow balloons, lasers, millions of confetti butterflies... the show itself is a true spectacle but it wouldnt matter if the band couldn't live up to the hype. Thankfully they showed just why they are so popular. For all the glitter and sparkle, you know you're in their grip when you realise that the entire audience has just sang the entirity of Fix You with Chris Martin simply accompanying on piano.
Verdict: ***** (5/5)
Life in Technicolor
In My Place
Speed Of Sound
Chinese Sleep Chant
God Put A Smile Upon Your Face (techno version)
Talk (techno version)
The Hardest Part (Chris solo piano)
Postcards From Far Away (piano instrumental)
Viva La Vida
Death Will Never Conquer (acoustic - Will vocals)
Green Eyes (acoustic)
Jingle Bells (acoustic)
Viva La Vida (remix interlude)
Lovers In Japan
Death And All His Friends
The Scientist / Back For Good
Life in Technicolor ii
The Escapist (outro)
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
The next update will feature in depth reviews of:
Coldplay - Live at The Odyssey Arena, Belfast - December 23, 2008
Dir en grey - Live at Mandela Hall, Belfast (Kerrang! Relentless Tour) - January 13th, 2009
plus single reviews for Buck-Tick, Gackt, and more!
Over and out.
P.S- I never thought I would get this close to one of my idols... :)
Thursday, 8 January 2009
P.S- I would like to thank a few friends for their help and support: Micheál, Bronagh, Gemma, Joe, Raul EV, Catherine, Laura, Michelle & Cully. Without you, I'm nothing.