Friday, June 29, 2012

Album Review: KLANK - Urban Warfare

"Where the moshpit meets the dance floor!" Is a more than accurate way to describe the sound of "KLANK." Since their debut, "Still Suffering" was a standout release in 1996, Daren "Klank" Diolosa and crew made their mark. In fact, I knew by that first song, "Time" that this album was different. Each song unfolded with new shapes and concepts that resonated with so many fans that, "KlankNation" has grown over the years. Not only has it grown in numbers, but in strength!

Fast forward almost 16 years into a very different time. We've fought the Iraq War, Afghanistan, gained and fought countless enemies overseas... yet the battle on the home front goes on stronger than it ever did. The streets are held hostage. You never know when you may find yourself a victim, or someone else's hero. Indeed, an album for our 'time' has come.

"Urban Warfare" begins with "A Call To Arms" which is just that. The techno / Arabian-esque style beat & sounds set the perfect backdrop for something so anthemic, it's hard to believe this is just the album intro, and a great one at that!

"Unamused" doesn't kick in the way you expect: instead a synth bounces a nice rhythm from speaker to speaker, THEN IT BLASTS YOU with the slamming double bass! The song kills all the way through to the title track, "Urban Warfare."
The choice of samples, and rump-shaking rhythm combined with the growls of Klank, this song will bring you to the dance floor to shake it, but it is still very mosh-able so be careful. 

"Bigger Man" is one of those songs that hit you like a ton of bricks! The riff just owns, and the spacey synth on top of it paves the way for some massive heaviness! This is one of my favorite cuts on the album, as it deals with bullies and trying to be the 'Bigger Man' over them. "Alive In Me" is a (dare I say it?) hi-energy dance number that again, is just heavy enough that there may be blood on the dance floor. "Save Me" grinds with the low tuned guitars, and is another favorite on an album that has such an amazing flow from song to song. "Built To Survive" has the industrial overtones with a powerhouse thunder, not unlike "We're All Suspect", another fave with Klank's clean vocal delivery, over what feels like a more classic thrash tune.
"Sick Is The New Sane" makes me think that, by this point in the game, this is the best album from "Klank" even over the debut! 

"Stomp You Out" seems to be a positive affirmation of my summation. However, it is the last 2 tracks that etches it in stone!
"Eraser" just slams! Kicking off with a smooth double bass groove, those low tones of the guitar file in order until the song just hammers into your brain and you find it over way too soon and have to hit repeat a couple of times.

The albums closer, "Something About You" almost feels like a heavy version of (dare I say this too?) 'The Killers' with balls! However when the vocals kick in, an unmistakable voice takes the helm. DuG Pinnick lent his talents to top off what is an incredible album with an almost cleansing song. It is the breath of fresh air that you get after some heavy moshing in a crowded pit that gets insane!

I could get more indepth with each track, and analyze each song and dissect them, but this would be a very lengthy review. The themes contained throughout are relatable, and just as certain songs mean more to me due to content - this album is just that, an album! It isn't merely a collection of tracks like most albums nowadays, but has a very precise flow to it. I'll also say this: It is an album I can throw in and not have to worry about skipping a track.

Right now this is in my Top 10 albums of the year so far. If you're a Klank fan already, then you have this - or need it immediately if not sooner. If you're just discovering Klank for the first time, THIS is the album you want right here. 
This is another one that gets 3 thumbs up from me.

Order from:

Rating: 7 out of 7 Headknockers 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Album Review: Marilyn Manson - Born Villain

When I first heard the single, "No Reflection" - there were two thoughts running through my head: 1. The production value has diminished since he has gone indie and 2. The intro guitar, just as the drums are about to kick in sounded generic to me. After seeing the "Born Villain" movie that was done by Shia LeBouf, I was a little disappointed with the single. It seemed a bit weak after the powerful presentation of what would later be known as "Overneath The Path of Misery."

With that said, I was ready to dismiss this album. And this is coming from someone who actually GOT "Eat Me, Drink Me." A long time ago when the first Hot Topic opened, I went in while a friend stood outside the door, just to listen in as I asked the gothic girl behind the counter, "Pardon me but, do you have anything darker than black?" After several listens, one sleepless night I was lying in bed, staring out the window into the dreariness of the night when I threw the disc in. Midway through "If I Was Your Vampire" it dawned on me: I finally found something darker than black! While "EM,DM" was dismissed by longtime fans as whineful drivel, I devoured it.
"The High End of Low", his last album for Intercoke (oops!) Records, Was just that: Some highs and some lows. It was definitely more of a collective than most all of Manson's previous works which, had a flow and consistency. Instead, It had it's highs (Pretty As A Swastika, We're From America, Leave A Scar, Arma...Geddon), it also had its lows, (Four Rusted Horses, WOW, I Have To Look Up, etc.)

Enter a new era, where Marilyn Manson is now an indie artist, with full creative control over his work, without a label breathing down his back, disapproving this, editing out that, etc. Being on his own, he also has alot to prove since his last two albums were considered 'tankers' by the 'musical hierarchy.'
After my previous misgivings on the single, I was ready to be let down. I guess it started with opening the disc itself. Manson, long known for his elaborate booklets and intricate packaging, now has full control of his artwork content. Upon opening the CD, there is no book, no lyrics, and barely even credits! Instead, it feels more like an EP digipack. I knew right then that, this album would fall flatter than the single did. I was ready to dismiss Mary (my affectionate name for Manson), and write him off as a has been who drowned in a vat of premium Absinthe.

One thing I love, is to be proven wrong.

"Hey Cruel World" starts off the album with a very cool digital bouncing with an underlying beat as Manson whispers the chorus. When the verse kicks in, it hits HARD! His vocals sound like a timewarp back to the glory days of "Antichrist" and "Holywood" with its rage and contempt. Then the chorus hits even harder! By the end of the first track, it's all downhill from here, right? After all, "No Reflection" was the 'weak single' right?
Set in the context of following the raging opener, "No Reflection" actually resonates of a throwback of the "Mechanical Animals" era, mixed with a bit of "Golden Age." I was able to appreciate it more giving it a couple more listens. I also realized that, Manson is singing and screaming in ways he hasn't done since 2000's "Holywood" and meaner than "The Golden Age of Grotesque" was.
"Pistol Whipped" is really a throwback to the sound of the 80's goth rock bands, but again has that "Mechanical Animals" feel to it, as do cuts like "Slo-Mo-Tion", "Children of Cain" (which sounds like a lost 'M.A.' song), and "Breaking The Same Old Ground" are tuneful, memorable, and stick to your cerebral cortex and won't let go in the same way "Antichrist Superstar" and "Mechanical Animals" did.
However, there are some very nice surprises here. "The Gardener" and "The Flowers of Evil" display a new side of Manson we haven't heard yet, the latter song sounding heavily influenced by the likes of "Bauhaus" and "The Jesus and Mary Chain." Both songs show a tremendous growth in Manson's writing depth.

Make no mistake about it - this is Marilyn Manson on top of his game. "Lay Down Your Goddamn Arms", "Overneath The Path of Misery" and "Murderers Are Getting Prettier Every Day" have the same brutality as his first two albums, while the album as a whole catches glimpes of the 3rd, 4th and 5th albums. For those lucky enough to get a copy with "You're So Vain" on it with Johnny Depp on guitar, this is no doubt a rebuttal to Trent Reznor's "Not So Pretty Now" and "Starfuckers, Inc." but also one of his best covers to date!

After just one listen, I knew this would be an album I would have to slowly digest... on repeat!

I just hope the packaging on the vinyl is better than the CD, especially since I have the UK version on pre-order, as well as 2 copies of the US version (a single LP missing the bonus "You're So Vain" found on the UK double LP edition.) Yes, I like it that much, I give it 3 thumbs up!

Rating: 7 out of 7 Headknockers 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Album Review: Anathema - Weather Systems

Anathema have always walked the line between being melodic and entrancing, to heavy thunderous doom soundscapes. While continuing to walk that line, stitching together a fabric between beauty and morbid this album has a much more 'commercial' feel to it, as opposed to albums like 1995's "Silent Enigma" which, had that heaviness to it in such appropriate doses.

With that said, "Untouchables Part 1 & 2" kick off the album with the hauntingly beautiful soundscapes that make up the ethereal tone of the album. "The Gathering of The Clouds" is a standout cut that, while sounding commercial, has some very dreamy moments that merge into "Lightening Song."

The entire album is consistent in its departure into a more palatable effort for the masses. The standout track on the album, "The Beginning and The End" teeters on that edge of heaviness balanced with grace and beauty, while the rest of the album folds into a softer, gentler Anathema. One that is easy on the ears, at times too easy; making a longtime fan wonder what became of the heavy instances of doom that helped create an equilibrium that was so unique. 

Rating: 4 out of 7 Headknockers

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Album Review: MINISTRY - Relapse

When you've been in the business of making music, and have been raped by the 'labels' enough, it's no wonder Al and the gang decided to call it quits. However, when you're in the business of making music, it is your life. So when some artists retire, (Ozzy's 1991 "No More Tours" Tour ring a bell) it's hard to stay away from music for very long. So when I heard MINISTRY was dropping a new album, I thought to myself, "Ya just couldn't hang with old age anymore, could ya Al?"

Inevitably, he did what most who declare their music career over: Relapsed! And boy did Alain ever relapse!!!
If you thought "Houses of The MolĂ©" and "The Last Sucker" were the hardest & heaviest MINISTRY could get, then you're in for a shock!

"Ghouldiggers" starts off the album with some nice heavy guitar tapping, while Al does a trippy spoken word on the music business. It finally kicks in with the massive double bass programming, with the guitars perfectly inline creating an insanely brutal sound.
The usual themes surround the lyrics in songs like "Double-Tapped", "99 Percenters" where, if there were no politics, Mr. Jourgensen may have a hard time finding inspiration. Not so, as the title suggests. There are many references to relapsing into addiction, including a new drug, "It's called 'Crope' - it's half crack and half dope. And all it costs ya is twenty dollars."

Continuing the thought of record labels royal(t)ly screwing artists, "Kleptocracy" is hook-laden and brutal, with a very catchy chorus that is definitely an earworm!

Overall, this is MINISTRY's heaviest effort to date, and also their first since becoming independent, retired... anything but dead! Don't be surprised if you suffer cranial damage while listening to this at full volume!

Rating: 7 out of 7 Headknockers 

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Album Review: Van Halen - A Different Kind of Truth

"This is such a throwback to the old Van Halen sound. They've still got it!"
If I had a dime for every time I've heard someone say this...

The truth is, it IS quite a throwback for Van Halen. With Diamond Dave back at the helm, the brothers, now joined with Eddie's son Wolfgang Van Halen on Bass, they are now more VAN HALEN than Van Halen ever was.
However, one crucial element is missing from the picture: Michael Anthony. Let's face it: it's not a true reunion without the original band members, but it's the best we could get.

And the tunes are so fresh & such a departure from the Hagar-era, they sound as if they were written back in the bands heyday!
That's because, they were.

The 'new' Van Halen album is chock full of songs that were written back in the mid '70s to early 80's. I remembered "She's The Woman" from the Gene Simmons demos circa 1976, and the rest of the songs were pressed up on vinyl back in their peak with Mr Roth. A friend of mine who is an archivist has all of these songs in one form or another. But, they have morphed into what has been hailed by some as "The Album of 2012!" With new Black Sabbath on the way, amongst other releases, that statement is a bit bold to make in the 1st quarter of the year.
On that note...
"Tattoo" starts off the album with a rather bland, half baked sound. It is also the first single which, whomever made that choice should be sacked! "She's The Woman" follows with more attitude and groove, making it more single-worthy than the aforementioned. "You and Your Blues" combines a bit of the Hagar-era sound with old Van Halen, making it a unique track. It's not until track 4 that the balls start wrecking! "China Town" - another track from the '70s has some classic flashwork from Eddie Van Halen, showing he has his chops back. Wolfie's bass lines are rather tasty as well, but I believe it is what was originally written for the song by Michael Anthony.
Other standout cuts on this album, nearly 30 years overdue are "Bullethead", the hi-energy - groove-laden "The Trouble With Never" and "Outta Space." The only gripe I have with any track on this album is "Big River" sounds too much like a rewrite of "Runnin' With The Devil" with the main line. It does change up throughout the song, but that one section that repeats sounds like it was ripped right from the classic VH hit.

All in all, I would say this is better than all of the Van-Hagar albums.

Rating: 5 out of 7 Headknockers

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Concert & Albums Reviews Coming Soon!

Yes, the HOTWYRED SOUND Blog is about to be utilized. Coming in the next few days will be a few reviews of new albums, as well as other music news & more.
Also, you'll be able to find out about all things SOYLENT RADIO right here, which will be returning to the CyberAirWaves real soon.

And for those wondering where in the hell the new Mary Manson disc is... it has been pushed back til May. I can hold off that long; provided they press it on Vinyl!!!
First review coming will be...

...Stay Detuned for Details!