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


Drum roll please! I spent aaaaaages thinking about this list and finally, out of the hundred or so albums I looked at, these are my favourite albums of the past ten years. These are the albums you owe it to yourself to listen to. They are in no particular order so lets start with:

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.

Death Cab For Cutie - Transatlanticism (2003)

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.

My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade (2006)

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.

Sigur Rós - ( ) (2002)

( ) 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".

Radiohead - Kid A (2000)

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.

and lastly...

Dir en grey - Withering to death. (2005)

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


There's different things to like about this soundtrack. Released over a month before the film's release date (due to "over-whelming demand"), it is for the most part a well chosen compilation mixing acoustic gloom with indie pop, a far cry from the emo-ness of the previous film. That being said, there are moments of oddness that don't sit well. No matter how much like Muse, their inclusion on this album is strained. They didn't fit on the last soundtrack, they certainly don't now. The song in question is "I Belong To You" and despite the remix toning down the baroque eccentricity, it grates with every listen. The expected big hitters: Death Cab For Cutie, Thom Yorke, The Killers, deliver understated, unusual but effective contributions but the highlights are the Lykke Li's "Possibility" and Anya Marina's "Satellite Heart". The album finishes with a sample of Alexandre Desplat's melancholic score called "The Meadow". The score disc isn't out til November but it's a nice, piano driven piece and I'll review it hopefully nearer the time.

Undoubtedly it will asuage the bloodlust of all the Twi-hards (is that it?) out there. For everyone else, it's a relatively safe, radio-friendly indie soundtrack from respectable artists. Nothing more, nothing less.

For the iPod playlist: "Meet Me On The Equinox", "Possibility", "Satellite Heart".

Verdict: *** (3/5)

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


A soild, if unremarkable single from the GazettE. "Before I Decay" is fast and angry with some awesome riffage but is it really a glorified B-side from the DIM recording sessions? It's out a bit too quickly for my liking. There is a nice middle-8 section but as much as I like the chorus, it's admittedly a bit samey from the GazettE. It's like Leech but darker.
The B-Side is "Mayakashi", a groovier, more melodic song. It's almost a Kagrra, song. It is also rightly a B-Side as it doesn't stand out in anyway.
Overall "Before I Decay" is good but they should take more time working on their songs. After the success of DIM, the next single could have been a belter. As it stands, it's more an afterthought.
Verdict: *** (3/5)


Y'know I'm genuinely thrilled to report that Paramore's new album brand new eyes is a resounding triumph for the Franklin five-piece. They have matured, and as much as I hate how much of a cop-out that word is when describing a band, there is no better way to describe them. Musically they are tighter and more comfortable experimenting with their sound (such as acoustic tinkering on a couple of tracks) and there are no superlatives grand enough to describe the powerhouse vocal performance of flame-haired vocalist Hayley Williams.
For a band in danger of being, according to themselves, the "Twilight house band", it is admirable that they have stuck to their guns and produced an album that rarely touches the angst of last year's "Decode" (although the song appears in "Bonus Track" form no doubt to please fans and record label bosses). Instead we get a propulsive mix of attitude-glazed pop-punk and quiet bittersweet melodies where the traditional whiney emo topics are subverted and the songs lyrically deal with being a stronger person and growing up.
Perhaps most importantly, brand new eyes is fun. It's both danceable and comforting. Paramore have hit the big time and in a scene currently devoid of heavyweights My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy, this is their time to grip the throne and never let go. They have every chance now.
For the iPod playlist: "Careful", "Turn It Off", "The Only Exception".
Verdict: **** (4/5)

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


Dir en grey have announced a new single via their OHP. The single will be called Hageshi sato, kono mune no naka de karamitsui ta shakunetsu no yami and will be released on December 2nd.


It's hard to find words to describe just how epic some of the songs on the new Muse album sound. One track, "United States of Eurasia (+Collateral Damage)" is a mix of piano ballad, Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", the score of Lawrence of Arabia and Chopin's "Nocturne". Another track, or rather, the last three tracks, are a three-part symphony entitled "Exogenesis".
Despite all the odds, Muse have somehow skyrocketed far beyond even their own high levels of pomp and absurdity but when it works, it's a masterpiece.

Some things don't work though. "Guiding Light" rubs me the wrong way. It seems far too synthed and cold as a result. "I Belong To You" on the otherhand is a misplaced Maroon 5 song that for all it's grandeur suffers from being just too odd. The french vocals and (Sweet Lord) the clarinet solo are both horribly misjudged. The song just doesn't fit in.

That said, the album is constantly intriguing. As a concept it's ingenious, in execution, not without its flaws. It's difficult to predict where Muse will go from here. They seem to have reached the pinacle of epic space-rock with The Resistance and all that such a feat entails, for good and bad.

For the iPod Playlist: "United States of Eurasia", "Exogenesis - Symphony Parts I,II & III"

Verdict: **** (4/5)

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


"Drummer, pianist and founder of popular rock group X Japan, YOSHIKI, 43, flew in by helicopter to watch his “Team Yoshiki & Dome Project” car in the Super GT Series race at Suzuka Circuit on Sunday.

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."

(Cont.) "After watching his team car come in fourth, YOSHIKI then went to Ise Shrine, also in Mie Prefecture, and prayed for a recovery in his health. YOSHIKI also revealed that he has prepared his will given the risks involved with his spinal injuries, and that nearly one quarter of his assets will be used for the benefit of his long-term fans. "

So no more X Japan concerts in 2009 *muffled scream of rage*. I read a damning editorial over at TheOtherEast.net and I have to say, it's hard not to be a little disenchanted with X Japan right now. Obviously health problems are unavoidable in Yoshiki's case and we hope he makes a speedy recovery but there are serious problems with X Japan's management.

There have been around a dozen cancellations or postponements of concerts in the past two years. Almost twice as much cancellations as actual successful perfromances. That is shocking.

Remember the Madison Square Garden gig? Cancelled. Remember Paris? Cancelled 3 TIMES!
China? Cancelled. Korea? Cancelled. Even frickin' Osaka got cancelled. It's a debacle and frankly when your concerts are nothing more than 9 songs dragged out over 3 hours it's shameful. X Japan should sit down and look at their dvds from Blue Blood and Jealousy era. Fuck Dahlia. By that time they were barely a band. I'm talking everything before Art of Life. They should increase the song count and get rid of the bullshit. No-one wants a friggin fashion show as an encore.

The Greatest Hits cd? Yoshiki said it SHOULD be out by the end of the year. He said this in both 2007 and 2008. I.V. is finished. Without You should be finished and Jade is apparently finished too. Why can't they release a damn cd given that the rest of the disc will be made up of PREVIOUSLY RELEASED MATERIAL.

Then Heath royally fucked up by holding out for a pay rise. He will forever be tarnished by that.
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.

Return to your roots X JAPAN before your legacy is tarnished forever.


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.


Another solid rocker from the magnum man. Its got a good pounding riff and a typical Gackt chorus. Basically all you need to know. I just wish he would announce a new album (with new unreleased songs). I have a big problem with all these single releases. It's a very cynical marketing ploy to get as much money as possible from an album's worth of material. For that I'm knocking a star off what is really a four-star song.
Verdict: *** (3/5)

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


The father of the electric guitar died August 13th from complications arising from pneumonia.
As expected everyone from Slash to Sambora has been paying tribute to one of the most important men in music history.

Les Paul
June 9, 1915–August 13, 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


Jack White's latest band is another authentic blues rock juggernaut. The songs are edgy, raw and sexy. White takes a backseat, literally, behind the drums handing vocal duties over to Alison Mosshart of the Kills who's voice is very similar to White's. His gifted hand is everywhere though. From the droning "Hang You From The Heavens" to the cascading distorted riff of "Treat Me Like Your Mother", it's a Jack White album through and through.
There's a nice Dylan cover in the form of New Pony but really most tracks are memorable. They ooze authentic Americana. It's born and bred dustbowl. A jewel in the dirt. The only complaints are really that some songs get lost in the mix, failing to stand out amongst the real gems. Third Man Records has another excellent band on its books now. The Dead Weather are better than The Raconteurs and seemingly far more than a side-project for the multi-talented White.
For the iPod Playlist: "Treat Me Like Your Mother", "Will There be Enough Water".
Verdict: **** (4/5)


Riceboy Sleeps is an exercise both in subtlety and opulence. Stripping away the grandiose build ups and climaxes of the traditional Sigur Ros formula, the band's frontman Jonsi and his boyfriend have created an ambient album with all the flavour but little of the melody of the parent band. It's like Sigur Ros sleeping.
Riceboy Sleeps is a very deep album. You could probably listen to it for weeks and discover something new with every listen. And yet its barely an album at all, more a whisper of music, a hint of what's under the surface. In this respect its very beautiful. There's no point mentioning specific tracks because the album should be heard as one continuous piece, although Boy 1904 notably features the last ever recording of a castrati singer.
The problem with Jonsi & Alex is that they have been left pretty much alone to make the album how they saw fit and it suffers from a lack of outside criticism. Most tracks are over 7 minutes, sometimes unnecessarily so.
I don't really know how to criticise the album though. For every complaint that it lacks direction, the arguement can be made that it's not meant to have a direction. Aimlessness may very well be the goal of these two Icelandic lovers.
Speaking of which, the inaccessability of the album to the casual listener hints at a very personal album. It could very much be a love letter. At worst, its purely masturbatory.
Verdict: *** (3/5) - Self-indulgent but with glimmers of genius.


“DIM” is the sound of a band finding their sound. After the relative disappointment of 2007’s “Stacked Rubbish”, it’s good to see that instead of copying its scattergun approach of clashing styles and moods; “DIM” is much more thematically unified, stronger in identity and a gripping show of force from a band more confident in their abilities.
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.
For the iPod playlist: "The Invisible Wall" "13Stairs[-]1"
Verdict: **** (4/5)

Friday, 26 June 2009


Its hard to comprehend the reality of this situation right now. Michael Jackson, the controversial but brilliant pop star was pronounced dead today from a suspected cardiac arrest. Paramedics tried and failed to revive him at his Bel Air mansion where he collapsed shortly after noon.
The seventh of nine children, Michael Jackson has been working in the music industry since he was five years old as a member of "The Jackson Five" with his siblings, and subsequently a hugely successful solo career. His Thriller album is regarded by many as the greatest pop album of all time and is the highest selling record of all time.
He was dogged in the press for his eccentric behaviour and ever changing physical appearace. This reached a peak in a high profile court battle in which he successfuly cleared his name of child molestation charges. The strain of this litigation took its toll on the star and he became a recluse in his later years, facing public ridicule and bankruptcy.
His comeback in a 50 show residency at the O2 in London was to be spectacular but his plans have been tragically cut short. We have lost one of the great artists of all time. The King of Pop is dead. To quote the Reverend Al Sharpton, "May history be kinder to him than the contemporary media".
R.I.P. Michael Jackson. Died Thursday June 25, 2009. Aged 50.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

No, I'm not dead.

I don't get around to updating this as much as I would like but hopefully that will change soon. For now, a few tidbits.

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)


Please visit: http://www.askewmagazine.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=98&Itemid=43

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


A queue had formed by lunchtime outside Mandela Hall and I was nauseous just at the thought that DIR EN GREY, one of my top 3 bands ever were in my Students Union. The strains of "RED SOIL" echoed up the stair way down to the actual concert hall at 4ish and I was able to watch the sound check undisturbed. Seeing Die play his guitar part for "CONCEIVED SORROW" alone at the sound check was spine-tingling and Kyo's rather non-chalant approach to mic-checking was amusing. However, once this was over, Sarah and I decided to go back outside and join the queue.
After waiting for an eternity outside in the cold, drowning in a sea of retarded Bring Me The Horizon fans and 14 year old girls who scream at each other, we finally got into the venue and proceeded immediately to the merch stand to pick up a tour tshirt. Then we saw the magical words above the desk: Signing Session. After picking our jaws up off the floor, we bought a copy of Uroboros (bringing our total number of copies of Uroboros to four...) and a sample cd featuring 4 songs from their past 3 albums thus guaranteeing ourselves a place at the signing.
Mandela Halla, as any student at Queen's University Belfast would know, is a tiny venue. We got a good spot in the second row to the left hand side of the stage (where we knew Kaoru would stand) and waited patiently. And I mean really patiently. Northern Irish rockers In Case Of Fire were rather good, as were Florida metallers Black Tide. Bring Me The Horizon were shite beyond description. Fucking awful. They were talentless hicks and their fans were worse. At least we knew that once they were over, Dir en grey would take the stage. Unfortunately Diru's gear took an age to set up and as a result, 2 songs were cut from the setlist. This was the only detractor from a juggernaut performance that rocked the entire room.
Toshiya was the most energetic, jumping around and getting the fans to raise their hands etc. Kyo was as distant as ever and seeing him perfrom live is a visceral experience. Kyo is one of the great vocalists in the world today. his range is staggering. There is no computer trickery, its all him. We couldn't really see Die because he was blocked by Kyo but when we did see him he was all smiles, raising his middle finger at the start of "The IIID Empire".
And like that it was over. It was an abrupt end but our first thoughts were to run to the signing session. Outside, the Diru fans all converged on the merch desk and we all realised we had finally seen Dir en grey live. It doesnt matter if we got 6 songs (including Sa Bir), the fact was that for 20mins we were in the presence of legends. We loved every second of it.
Shinya did the signing session by himself and quietly nodded his thank yous to our praises and signed both mine and Sarah's copies of Uroboros. "That's Shinya" was the thought that repeated constantly in my head. We walked home triumphantly and I slept like a log. Magic.
Verdict: ***** (5/5)


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
Violet Hill
In My Place
Speed Of Sound
Chinese Sleep Chant
Fix You
Strawberry Swing
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

Update coming soon guys and gals.

A little snowed under here at headquarters. Three more assignments to do before the 3oth of January but rest assured I shall return to regular posting once I get them over and done with.

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.

- Billy

P.S- I never thought I would get this close to one of my idols... :)

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Happy New Year!

I had considered posting a countdown list for my favourite singles, albums and concerts of 2008 but I don't want to anymore. Coldplay, Sigur Ros, MGMT, Dir en grey, Death Cab For Cutie... it was a good year for music. I saw a lot of amazing gigs: Radiohead, Coldplay (Review coming soon), Oxegen (Review not coming lol). I discovered many bands that I hadn't listened to before and broadened my horizons musically by venturing into pop music for a bit. Rock, metal and visual kei will always be my loves but I think the best thing to do in 2009 is to continue what I started in 2008: listening to wider ranges of music. I enjoyed it and actually learned from it. I hope you will too, good reader.

Happy New Year.


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.