Review by Echo Asylum writer Rachel Craig
South African rock band Seether has released their new album Poison the
Parish, nearly three years after Isolate and Medicate. It’s the band’s seventh album,
produced by frontman Shaun Morgan under his brand new label imprint, Canine Riot
In February, the band announced this album with the release of “Let You Down,”
which accurately sets the mood for the rest of the tracks. Poison the Parish is gritty,
aggressive, and brooding with a message that makes the listener think about societal
influences through comparisons to religion. The album is darker and heavier than recent
music from Seether, and it will remind listeners of the band’s earlier records.
Seether fans will find this album very familiar. Most of the tracks do not break
away from the usual Seether mold of simple riffs and aggressive vocals. It is a longer
album with 15 songs, which is a little lengthy considering how most songs have a similar
sound. However, this is an album that demands to be listened to all at once because it
does flow well.
Seether’s influences also come through, bringing the band’s familiar sound that
dominated rock radio during the 2000s. The album also incorporates familiar sounds
from other bands like Nirvana, Chevelle, and Tool without sounding like a copy.
“Something Else” is one of the standouts for me on Poison the Parish. It’s a mid-
tempo song with dark, crooning lyrics. “Emotionless” gives me the same feeling. These
are songs where I feel like Shaun Morgan’s vocals have the perfect blend of softness
Instrumentally, I feel like Poison the Parish was produced with heaviness in mind,
and that doesn’t always mean being loud and fast. The guitars, drums, and bass are
simple, creating a blend that is easy on the ears. Sometimes simplicity is the better
choice, and Seether uses it well on this album.
One striking part of the listening experience for me is the discussion of mental
health. Many of the lyrics also discuss topics like depression and anxiety, in addition to
societal pressures. This is not new for Seether, since Shaun Morgan is known for his
involvement in suicide awareness with his annual Rise Above Fest. Since Seether is
performing at the festival, this album will provide plenty of material to support the cause.
It runs July 22-23 at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor, Maine.
Overall, this album is a solid Seether album that any fan could appreciate.
Personally, I would have liked to see them break the mold a little and produce a few
tracks that stand out, like their previous hits “Careless Whisper,” “Country Song,” or
“Broken.” However, it is refreshing to see them return to heavier roots and produce a
solid hard rock album. I give it 8/10.
I've always felt that Amaranthe is a truly unique band in a world filled with copycats and generic artists-a-plenty. I've always appreciated the multiple layers of effects, vocals, and instrumentation that can be heard on all of their songs. It took more than a few thorough listens to the entire album to grasp the greatness that Maximalism is.
Much like it's predecessor, this album starts out with an adrenaline rush inducing, up tempo track. This was sweet music to my ears. Maximalism takes the listener through a wide range of emotions ensuring that there is something for everyone to love. And of course, the triple threat of vocals is alive and well. Elize, Jake and Henrik were spot on and did a magnificent job of arranging vocals in each song.
The track that stands out the most for on this album is Limitless. It took nearly half the album, but I finally got what I had been waiting for at first listen. It is a beautiful musical arrangement and features calming sounds of Elize and Jakes vocals, which still gives me chills when I hear it. There will never be another song quite like Amaranthine but, this track definitely delivers.
Break Down and Cry is a track that I can't say enough about. I love the backing tracks, this song is upbeat and features powerful vocals and brutal screams. If this doesn't get you head banging and singing along then you might want to check your pulse.
In summary, Maximalism has become an instant favorite of mine. Amaranthe is a band that I hold to higher standards due to their flawless past records. I had very high expectations prior to listening to Maximalism and honestly expected to be let down. How could they possibly follow up with something better than Massive Addictive... Well, they passed my test and then some. I will be rocking out to this album for many months to come and can't wait to see them perform live again with these new songs. If you call yourself a fan of Amaranthe then you must run out and get this album on Oct 21st. Any metalhead should thoroughly enjoy this album and it will be in contention for album of the year for sure. I give it an insane 9.5 out of 10 horns \m/
Connecticut based Hardcore/Heavy Metal band Hatebreed have been decimating the metal scene with their intense brand of heavy music since the 90's. They have been one of my favorite bands since I first discovered them after their 2002 release “Perseverance”.
Their latest release “Concrete Confessionals” is the follow up to 2013's “The Divinity of Purpose” which gained the band many accolades. More than three years have passed since their last release, and it was worth the wait. “Concrete Confessionals” is a fast-paced brutal metal masterpiece that left me satisfied as a long time fan of the band.
Hatebreed has re-invented their earlier signtaure style of writing of “Satisfaction is the Death of Desire” that dates back nearly 20 years. Every track less than three minutes long, but still packs a punch and gives you an adrenaline rush from the word go.
Jamey Jasta showcases his songwriting prowess with lyrics that really struck a nerve with me. The songs covers topics ranging from problems with society in America, not living in the past, and even touches on politically charged messages. Add to that the unique vocals and it's easy to see why this album is destined for success. The mixing and mastering was spot on and audio levels for each instrument complimented the others well.
A.D was a great choice for the opening track. It delivers exactly what the listener would expect from a Hatebreed album. It puts you in a metaphorical choke hold and doesn't let go through out the album. It mixes elements of thrash with hardcore that they are well known for, and yes the guitar solos are amazing.
My hands down favorite track is Seven Enemies. My first thought after listening to this track was "This is heavy as fuck, and just what I wanted”. The guitar tone is ballsy, grungy and hits so damn hard. I can't wait to see the mosh pit during this song live, there will be blood!
In summary, Hatebreed has made an album that lived up to the incredibly high standards that I have set for them. I would put this as my 3rd favorite album they have released, but it was refreshing to see them go back to their roots in sound and composition. This is a must have for anyone that calls themselves a Diehard, or anyone that loves heavy metal/hardcore music. I love seeing Hatebreed going strong even after all these years. You should go out and buy this album right now. I give Concrete Confessionals an insane 8 out of 10 horns \m/
“The Other Side of Darkness” is the highly anticipated upcoming release by North Carolina rockers Decyfer Down. This is the follow-up to their 2013 release Scarecrow. Through the help of an Indiegogo campaign the band was able to release this full length ten song album which is their 4th album to date.
Within mere seconds of hearing the opening track “Rearrange” I was able to pick up on the bands signature sound... with the deep grungy guitar tones and familiar hard hitting drum beats, and who can forget the one of a kind vocal stylings of TJ Harris, who quite possibly has the best voice in the business.
Since first discovering Decyfer Down's music on Pandora many years ago I have fallen in love with this band all over again with this latest release. It would seem that they have a rock solid formula for producing catchy and meaningful hit after hit. The order in which the songs appear on the album is flawless, mixing their hard rock songs with their ballads... It is truly an out of body experience to listen through this album.
“Believe in Me” is hands down my favorite track on this album. I have always thoroughly enjoyed Decyfer Down's ballads. The lyrics in this track(like most of their other ballads) really touch me deeply. It's refreshing to see a band like this to be beacon's of positivity and hope in a world that is filled with hate and gloom.
At the end of “The Other Side of Darkness” is an acoustic version of my all time favorite song “Burn Back the Sun” that appeared on their debut release “End of Grey”. This is an amazing rendition of what I consider to be an iconic song. This is my go to song when i'm feeling hopeless, or lost in the world. There is a certain calm and resolve I feel by listening to this song... It heals everytime, without fail.
In closing it's easy to see that this album is destined to be another huge success by Decyfer Down(who I feel doesn't get enough exposure for what they do.) Music is meant to speak to the listener and “The Other Side of Darkness” does just that. As a Christian living in todays society it is difficult to walk in the world we live in. Thanks to Decyfer Down my journey doesn't seem quite as frightening. I definitely recommend this album to any rock fan, you certainly won't be disappointed with this release. I am giving this one 10 out 10. Yes, it's that good!
Zakk Wylde is an American musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and actor who is best known as the former guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, and founder of the heavy metal band Black Label Society. He is also recognized for his signature Gibson Les Paul Custom guitars with the bulls-eye graphic that visually sets him apart on any stage. Book of Shadows 2 is set for release on April 8, 2016 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the original Book of Shadows.
Instrumentals/Vocals: Zakk Wylde: Guitars, Vocals, Piano, Stings
John DeServio: Bass
Jeff Fabb: Drums Tracks:
1. Autumn Changes 2. Tears of December 3. Lay Me Down 4. Lost Prayer 5. Darkest Hour 6. The Levee 7. Eyes of Burden 8. Forgotten Memory 9. Yesterday’s Tears 10. Harbors of Pity 11. Sorrowed Regret 12. Useless Apologies 13. Sleeping Dogs 14.
The King Bonus Tracks on Deluxe Version and Available on iTunes: 1. Tears of December 2. Lost Prayer 3. Eyes of Burden The greatest struggle of reviewing Book of Shadows 2 is choosing my favorite tracks. This album in its entirety is a must hear. The typical mayhem maker tones down his guitar skills to an almost acoustical, classic rock feel versus his typical heavy shredding, balls to the wall, angry strings. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire album. It is perfect for the long drive home after a raging fest.
In summary, all I can truly think is, wow. This album is a must have for any fan of American Rock and all Zakk Wylde fans. It is masterfully composed; both lyrically and instrumentally. What else would one expect from Wylde? He does not disappoint with Book of Shadows 2.
Soul Asylum is an American alternative rock band that formed in 1981, but didn't choose their name until 1983. The band, like many other bands, did not receive a lot of mainstream recognition in their early years. The release of their album Grave Dancers Union in 1992 was a game changer for Soul Asylum. A notable appearance came in early 1993 when the band played at Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration. This is a triple-platinum album that features their Grammy Award winning song Runaway Train. Three years later, their album Let Your Dim Light Shine went platinum as well.
For the past three years Soul Asylum has been working on their 11th studio album, Change of Fortune, which is set for release on March 18, 2016.
Dave Pirner – drums (1981–1983); then lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1983–present)
Michael Bland – drums, backing vocals (2005–present)
Winston Roye – bass guitar, backing vocals (2012–present)
Justin Sharbono – lead guitar, backing vocals (2012–present)
*Karl Mueller: I would like to extend an honorary mention in memory of Mueller who was an original member of SA. He was the bass guitarist from 1981 until he lost his battle with cancer in 2005. May his legacy live on through the works of the band.
My personal favorite from Change of Fortune is the last track, Cool. This track encompasses the alternative, grunge, rock composition with a smooth groove, but it is still garage band worthy. In my opinion, it is a “feel good” song. It mixes a Jackson 5 throwback with modern, alternative rock. I really enjoy the upbeat tempo.
My next pick is the polar opposite; Make it Real. This track begins with a heavy riff and the vocals are much deeper. This is a song with less “feel good” and more “no nonsense.” It, in my opinion, is a great example of the diverse abilities of Soul Asylum.
Last, I must mention Morgan’s Dog. I listened to this album several times prior to completing this review and I am still scratching my head. I am not quite sure where it fits. The album is great, but I am not feeling the connection between the kickass tracks and shooting a dog dead.
In summary, I see this album going to the top of the charts rather quickly. Soul Asylum does not disappoint with the variety offered in this album. It has something to offer to everyone with the feel good grooves, heavier riffs, deep to lighter vocals, and even a dead dog.
Mark your calenders for February 26, 2016. This marks the start of the next big legitimate powerhouse in the music business. The band is From Ashes to New and they hail from Lancaster, PA. “Day One” is their highly anticipated debut full length album. This is the follow-up to the highly acclaimed Downfall EP, which included “Through it all”(which also appears on this album), a song that would dominate the airways. It claimed the number one spot on SiriusXM's Big Un's Countdown multiple weeks in a row.
“Day One” didn't waste any time getting my adrenaline pumping and making me bang my head. There are so many layers. After seven(7) or eight(8) times listening through the entire album I was still picking up back tracks or instrumentals that I had previously missed. Vocalists Matt Brandyberry and Chris Musser blend their unique and differing styles flawlessly. Meticulous focus was put into an appropriate mix between back tracks and instrumentals.
The lyrical content is that of encouragement, fighting against adversity, and never giving up no matter the odds. This album became my daily driving music, leaving me uplifted, feeling like I could conquer the world. The music and backing tracks mesh perfectly, with the combination of singing/rapping being the cherry on top.
Farther from Home was the stand-out track. The build-up begins with the digitized back track, then adding another layer, which happens to be a killer guitar tone. Before you know it, you are thrust into a fast tempo adrenaline rush. This song shows off the hit making formula that From Ashes to New has perfected. Additionally, this was my favorite vocal performance by Chris Musser who's melodies on this song still give me cold chills.
Lost and Alone also grabbed my attention within the first minute of hearing it. The lyrics really hit home with me since I too have had feelings of not fitting in or feeling hopeless. This is my rally cry song for staying strong and never giving up hope.
Through it all is a track that shows off the amazing rapping skill of Matt Brandyberry. He slays the verses at a furious tempo, with meaningful and uplifting lyrics. He has really taken the opportunity and talent he was given and used it to make a positive impact in the world, and for that I applaud him.
In summary, this is an extraordinary debut release, that which should catapult this band into the public eye. I listened through this album at least a dozen times and still haven't found a weak song on it. If you haven't seen From Ashes to New live then you will be equally if not more impressed with this breakout band. I recommend this album to anyone that loves hard, heavy music, and even to those that enjoy rap. This is the start of something huge for this band and i'm glad to be along for the ride. Be sure to go out and pick up your copy of “Day One” now. I give this album an insane 9.5 out of 10 horns \m/
February 24, 2016 for the symphonic metal fans of
Pittsburgh, PA was a night of great anticipation. It would mark
the first time that musical storytellers Nightwish would visit
and perform in their creative history.
Fans lined up hours ahead of time even though there was assigned seating for
tonight’s event. Maybe for a chance to meet members of this
lovely band, the night would soon tell. Prior to the night’s
festivities, Nightwish did hold a pre-show meet and greet with
fans that were on top of their game to secure a spot. An
unfortunate, but understandable drawback to this event was
the absence of Tuomas who was battling an illness. It was
explained to attendees that it was decided by the band to let
him rest so that he could perform that night. Classy and in
good taste by Nightwish as the show must go on!
No one left disappointed. Members met fans with smiles and jokes. Items
that fans brought for signing ranged from personal artwork of
the band, albums, and photographs of the band from previous
shows. The meet and greet passed by in the blink of an eye
with more anticipation by fans for the performance to come
and Nightwish travelled to Pittsburgh with Delain and fellow
symphonic artist Sonata Arctica.
First up for the nights entertainment was Dutch band Delain
who was founded in 2005 by vocalist Charlotte Wessels and
keyboardist Martijn Westerholt. Delain, known for the
multitude of talented guest musicians on their albums and live
performances took the stage with a new groove with the song,
“Sucker Punch”. Being treated to not only Timo’s ripping
guitar crunch, but also now full time member and first time
touring in the United States, axe slinger Merel Bechtold!
American Delain Fans, don NOT assume anything by her rather
small stature. Strong, wise with musical knowledge and skill,
this pint size powerhouse package plays with the big dogs and
will make the most seasoned guitar wiz jealous with envy.
Not only was the crowd cheering for the ripping rhythms belted
out by Timo and now Merel but the siren charms of Charlotte
simply had the crowd at Pittsburgh transfixed. Touring in
support of their 2016 release, “Lunar Prelude”, Delain made
sure to play the three new tracks from the aforementioned
album in the form of “Sucker Punch, Turn the Lights Out, and
Don’t Let Go.” Set list staple, “Get the Devil out of Me” and t
“We are the Others” composed five of the eight song set list. An
amazing unexpected, but hopeful act was given to the fans.
During the song, “Sing To Me”, Marko Hietala performed a duet
with Charlotte! A young lady sitting next to me was in tears at
the end of this song. I inquired as to what was wrong. Her
“Nothing, absolutely nothing. I was hoping they would play that song live, but had
no idea it would be so beautiful.”
People cheered wanting more of what they had just heard, but
sadly could not for Delain’s time for the night was done,
performing that is. Anyone familiar with the Dutch Dynamos
knew that once the show was entirely done, Delain would meet
fans at the merch booth for a free meet and greet. This will be
shared later for now onto Sonata Arctica!
Hailing from Kemi, Finland Sonata Arctica is no stranger to
performing. With a very strong contingent of their own fans
and supporters brandishing the colors on Sonata shirts, it was
a trifle difficult to decide who was actually headlining this
night. Sporting a seven song set-list for the evening, Sonata’s
vocalist Tony Kakko wasted no time trying to fire up the crowd
and get them to stand and rock out. People for the most part,
obviously into the show, just sat in their seats. From a fans
perspective, it was difficult to fully let go and head-bang which
the bands love to see, as everyone was in an assigned seat.
There was no room to move and mingle and release the energy
pent up inside to give back to the bands that were pouring out
every once of effort into the show. Several times Tony yelled
for fans to stand and rock, pumping his fist in the air. A second
deterring factor was the venues staff that seemed to be
continually trying to coral the fans and keep them seated. Why
would they do such a thing? This is a rock show dammit!
Regardless, Sonata did what they did best and put on a stellar
performance for the fans hard-earned money. Sonata put on
just as much a show for the photographers present at this
amazing event, posing for the image of rock to be immortalized
in the print and digital world.
At last was the world renowned Finnish based Nightwish.
Playing very large festivals and arenas in Europe, drawing
thousands to each show, this sold out Pittsburgh show was
about to be privileged to this high demand performance.
Supporting their 8th over all studio release, “Endless Forms
Most Beautiful”, also marked the first album with now vocalist
The name may seem familiar to those who are
fans of the genre in that Floor saw much success with the band
After Forever and then Revamp. The major difference between
her previous bands, and now being a member of Nightwish, at
least from this observer’s viewpoint was that Floor Jansen was
born for Nightwish. There couldn’t be a more perfect fit of
vocal style and the story telling writing style of founder
Tuomas Holopainen. The pure vocal range and beauty of
Floor’s voice is enough to capture the attention and fandom
even of those not familiar with the music or band. Performing
five tracks from the new album, “Shudder Before the
Beautiful”, Yours Is an Empty Hope”, “Élan”, “My Walden”, and
“The Greatest Show on Earth,” Nightwish presented a show
more in the realm of a gothic metal opera being quite
appropriate as tonight’s performance was held in a theatre as
opposed to a concert hall.
Fans, finally just no longer holding back, stood on their seats and flooded the isles much to the chagrin of the venues staff. At the end of the day, it’s not about the venue or their staff. It’s about the performance that the band brings to the fans and the fans hard-earned money the fans bring to the band. Nightwish made it exactly that with a large sixteen-song set-list covering the entire catalogue.
Highlights for this fan in particular was to hear “Ghost Love
Score” and “Bless the Child” live. Simply breathtaking. Tonight
was a night shared by traditional metal fans, and fans of opera.
Though they differed in dress everyone shared a common bond
this night. As “The Greatest Show on Earth”, signaled the final
song, several fans went out to Delaines merchandise booth
knowing Delain would soon be out to greet them. Right on cue,
as the set ended, delain appeared. Several hundred fans also
appeared for this treat. Delain accommodated everyone with
not only pictures and autographs, but simple day-to-day
conversation as well. That’s something nearly unheard of at
Be sure to check out the Nightwish tour for dates and cities
Lacey Sturm is an accomplished author, singer-songwriter, mother of two, and former lead singer of Flyleaf. She cordially parted ways with Flyleaf in October of 2012. She is now back with a vendetta against negative messages across the music scene with a personal message of faith and hope in her new album Life Screams.
Life Screams is set for release February 12, 2016. Her live band features her husband by her side on lead guitar.
This year is set to be big year as she is booked to premier her new album at fests such as Rock on the Range, Carolina Rebellion, Welcome to Rockville, and Northern Invasion. I predict more bookings to come.
2. The Soldier
3. I'm Not Laughing
6. You're Not Alone
7. Feels Like Forever
7. Life Screams
10. Run To YouMy top pick from this album is “You’re not Alone.” The intro begins with the sound of a life-support machine and a flat line as the melancholic instrumentals begin. The lyrics, “It’s been hard for me to breath in such a long time” further delves into the message of this song. As the song unfolds, the instrumentals and the lyrics “You’re not alone….when the darkness meets the day.” become more upbeat and positive. The primary message is, in my opinion, no matter how alone you feel; you are not. This song becomes increasingly encouraging as Lacey’s voice beautifully offers hope and empowerment to those who may be facing a problem in solitude.
The album as a whole lyrically addresses struggles and hardships head on with a melodic, uplifting tone. Hope, which is her mission, is offered in every track despite inevitable challenges one may face.
In summary, all songs deserve a listen and are packed with both human suffrage followed by a message that challenges negative thoughts. The power of a positive message, of hope, and a reminder of the light at the end of the tunnel may be hard to see sometimes.
Life does scream, but Lacey screams her message of hope louder with her amazing voice and the backing of her band’s instrumentals. Lacey stated, “I was listening to the radio one day and I said to myself, if I hear one more song telling people to kill themselves and go to hell, I’m going to have to put a record out! I just think it would be a good thing to have a voice in the mix of all the hopelessness that actually gives you a light at the end of the tunnel; a voice that’s still honest about the pain and struggle, but can also scream, hey, wake up and be alive because there’s hope!”
“Decade” is upcoming release from Vancouver, BC Canada hard rock band The Veer Union. The album title pays tribute to the 10 years the band has been making music despite hardshipsand obstacles. Despite a lengthy lay off due to line-up changes the music sounds better than ever
The first single “Defying Gravity”, is an appropriate intro that gives listeners an instant adrenaline rush. The album doesn't slow down from the word go and should be a very familiar sound for fans of the band. Crispin's signature raspy, and powerful vocals are present thorughout the high intensity tunes and slower ballads alike.
It is very impressive to hear the tight cohesive sound of the album especially since the line-up was completely re-arranged. The emotions and tone from the album range from somber, to intense and even give insight into the bands struggles throughout the decade long journey. Most impressive though is the multitude of layers and vocal elements that can be heard in each track, I believe this to be a quality that sets The Veer Union apart from many modern day bands.
"Make Believe" had me hooked instantly and never let go. This is a track that I put on repeat and got my adrenaline pumping. It carries the same catchiness of some of the bands most well known songs including; Seasons, and Bitter End. I see this as being a fan favorite at live shows.
"The Unwanted" is another brilliant track that stays true to that authentic sounds that you would expect from The Veer Union. Multiple vocal layering mixed with heavy, crunchy guitar tones and percussion that had me banging my head, and singing along.
"Decade" proved to be an well written album front to back, and it is apparent that the band put alot of hard work and passion into creation of the music. I didn't find any songs that got boring, even after listening through the entirety of the album many times. I got exactly what I expected from an album by The Veer Union and I believed they have raised the bar higher than ever before. I highly recommend this album to any fans of the band, also to fans of the hard rock genre in general. I give this album an insane 8 out of 10 horns \m/
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.