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Album ReviewReviews

Thornhill – Heroine

Melbourne’s own Thornhill have just released their second studio album “Heroine”, and the first word that comes to mind in describing it is “evolution”.

Much like many metalcore bands before them, Thornhill have gone into their creative cocoon as a great emerging metalcore band, and they have come out the other end as a very different version of themselves, taking on the sound of this whole new metalcore movement. And let me say, it is not a bad thing at all.

Having started out in 2015 as a bunch of high school buddies, Jacob Charlton (vocals), Ethan McCann (guitar) Sam Anderson (guitar) and Ben Maida (drums), and Nick Sjogren (bass) came together as Thornhill. Having such influences as The Amity Affliction and Northlane, they hit the ground running with their debut single, “XY”, being released in June of 2016 featuring Void Of Vision’s Jack Bergin. This was closely backed up by the full debut EP “13” in August of that same year. From that point, it was a stream of positivity, both in reception and achievements. In May of 2017 the single “Temperer” was released and the band also won Triple J’s Unearthed competition, giving them the opportunity to support Architects on their Australian tour. As well as supporting multiple other well-known metal bands across Australia throughout 2017, and getting loads of airtime on Triple J, this only increased their fan base. Matt van Duppen stepped in on guitar in late 2017 when Sam Anderson parted ways with the band.

2018 started off with a bang, with Thornhill getting to support Parkway Drive, and also signed to a new label (UNFD). It was under this label they released their second EP “Butterfly”.

October 2019 saw the release of “The Dark Pool”, Thornhill’s first studio album, which debuted at #20 on the ARIA charts. Following on from this Thornhill got to briefly tour internationally, and also performed at Download in Melbourne and Sydney before the unfortunate timing of the Covid pandemic shut the world down.

Fast forward to October 2021, and the first single, “Casanova”, from the impending next album was released. This absolute groove train of a track was a perfect first release to showcase the diverse direction this next album would take.

“Arkangel” would then be released in January of this year, giving a taste of what was to come for the change in overall tone and style.

Then came June 3, and the opportunity for all to hear the entire album in its full glory, and let me say, it is a cracker of an album.

“The Hellfire Club” kicks the album off, as it starts with droning, very brooding chords, then kicking into a heavy low tuned riff over some ethereal guitars, followed by a vocal performance mirroring other great acts such as Loathe and Deftones.. A very chill vibe throughout. A stand out of the track for me is the lyric, “ People stay much longer in my head than in my life so please don’t go again”

“Leather wings” wastes no time, kicking right into the heart of the song with punchy guitars and soaring vocals.The ending of the song is sure to get you moving in a mosh pit,

Starting with a stripped-back clean guitar sound is “Blue Velvet”. Then it kicks into a really groovy and moody bassline accompanied by more buttery smooth vocals before Jacob amps it up in the chorus.

“Arkangel” was the second single, and one of my personal faves. With vocals very reminiscent of Kareem France, and this new class of metalcore.

“Valentine” starts with some very different guitar effects followed by some almost hip hop beat stylings. The first song to feel a bit different than everything else on the album.

“Casanova”  starts off with a riff coming into light with some compressed drums before kicking in full force. The vocals this time are not quite as spacey but a bit more in your face, but still retaining that distorted sound. This song has a very unique tremolo-like solo bit which was refreshing.

Instrumental tracks are fewer and further between these days, but “Something Terrible Came From the Rain” is a beautiful piece that really does take you to another place.

“Hollywood” is the third single, and kicks off with drums followed by some low bass and distorted vocals. This song is a return to the sound of other tracks like “The Hellfire Club”. Really great lyrics in this track. A great mix of straightforward vocal approach and spacey vibes. Very simple but bouncy riffs.

“Raw” has a very numetal-ish vibe most of the time then the bridge gets stripped back as if it gives the listener time to catch their breath before the pop/metal fusion like chorus,

With “Varsity Heights”  the vocal sound, in the beginning, is almost like a phone recording, and that makes it feel like it is very personal and straight to the listener. Definitely has a different vibe from everything else. Then in the pre-chorus, it slips into the familiar djent/metalcore vibe from earlier. It all feels very fusion as if they threw all their influences in a blender in this track.

“Heroine” is the final track on the album, and has a great little guitar melody with some awesome drum work. The spacey vocals approach again, not dissimilar to Chino from Deftones. It’s a very moody emotional track. The vocal inflections and cadence on this are absolutely brilliant.

Overall a really great album, that these guys should be super proud of. Definitely a little different from their previous offerings, but it feels like a very natural progression that comes with the growth of the band. I would rate it a strong  8/10 and that’s only after a couple of play-throughs. I am sure as I get it on rotation I will probably find more and more to like about it that I’ve missed the first few times.

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Album ReviewReviews

Simple Plan – Harder than It Looks

Review by Cam Brown

Nearly 20 years after I first heard their debut album “No Pads, No Helmets….Just Balls”, and had it on high rotation in my multi-CD stacker, Simple Plan has returned with their 6th Studio album.

Their first independent release “Harder Than It Looks” produces that well-known Simple Plan sound, but like red wine, has matured in flavor over the years.

The album opens with a piano riff, which makes you wonder what’s in store, but it doesn’t take long before the signature driving guitars kick in, soon after Pierre Bouvier’s distinctive and instantly recognisable voice joins in, and you know you’re in the land of Simple Plan.

Wake Me Up (When This Nightmare’s Over)” has some poignant lyrics about the world’s current situation and the band has used this to raise funds for the UNICEF Ukraine Emergency appeal and has also used a Ukrainian director and actors in the video clip to further push the emotion of this song.

Ruin My Life” is a typical Simple Plan. Great dynamics with the song continuing to build throughout, guitar riffs, harmonized vocals, and of course in true Simple Plan, a collaboration. This time featuring Deryck Whibley from fellow Canadian Rockers Sum-41. However, to me, this feature was a little bit lacking only appearing for a verse and I felt they could have done a little more with it. He may have just been added as some additional promotion to the current blame Canada Tour across America with Sum-41. No detriment to the song as it would stand on its own with or without Deryck.

 “The Antidote” the story of young love as the music video entails, or just a song about someone people can rely on, starts some of the journeys of a modern Simple Plan. Combining their pop-punk with a little bit more of a modern rock spin. The band had this to say about this track.

 “The song is a throwback to our classic Simple Plan sound, but with a modern twist. It has all the elements our fans have come to love and expect from our band: a big, energetic chorus and honest and heartfelt lyrics that deal with life and the struggles we all face. It feels like the perfect starting point and a great preview of what’s to come on the album”

 Million pictures of You” & “Congratulations”, the latest singles off the album continue in the sound direction of “Jetlag” with their upbeat and even happy pop-punk anthems. I would even throw “Slow-Motion” the second last track on the album into this category.

Anxiety” is where the album changes and produces a track that could be by many other modern pop artists. The lyrics are true to form providing something, as Simple Plan lyrics often do, that many fans could relate to and the reason why many of us started and continued to listen to Simple Plan across the last two decades.

Providing riffs that could be used across many action/sports tv shows not forgetting to mention recaps of the season, “Iconic” provides another modern take on the Simple Plan sound. Brass grooves combined with the marching band feel provide an Anthem that drives you on just to prove people wrong and become an “Iconic” legend.

Best Day Of My Life” is just a throwback to old-school Simple Plan. Energetic, fast, heavy showing they can still rock it as they used to.

The final track “Two” gives you all the feels of childhood if you grew up in a split family. If you were writing a musical just using Simple Plan songs this would pair perfectly with their Symbolic hit “Perfect”.

Overall Simple Plan continues to produce great music, keeping plenty of their original sound but further enhancing their sound and developing as an artist.

Harder Than It Looks” doesn’t provide a single stand-out track to me that I would just continue to play on repeat, but on the other hand, it provides a fantastic album that I would be more than happy to listen to the whole thing on repeat. In fact, the more you listen to it the catchier it becomes, and you will be singing along by the second or third time.

If you have been a fan from the start, you won’t be let down.

My only disappointment in the album to me, in my opinion, is it is a couple of songs short, and I would love it to have one like the acoustic ballad “Perfectly Perfect” as they also do the acoustic style so well.

A score of 8/10 for me, but that good easily go up with a few more listens, or maybe some bonus points if they bring their tour Down Under. 

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Album ReviewReviews

Papa Roach – Ego Trip

Review by Jodi Maree

EGO TRIP, the 11th studio album for California’s PAPA ROACH, was released in April 2022 and has been met with mixed reviews across the board, but the majority appear to be positive. The album reached #115 on the U.S Billboard chart, whilst on the UK Rock and Metal chart it has tipped in at #3.

Since coming together in 1993, PAPA ROACH has been very consistently churning out albums approximately every 2-3 years, with some being very successful and others only moderately so.

This album, in my opinion, has the makings of being one of the former. It has quite the mix of tracks on it, and at times can seem a touch disjointed, but it somehow comes together. If you go into it wanting everything to sound like “Last Resort”, you may be a little disappointed, but if you go into it open-minded and ready for a little diversity, mixed with some old-school sounds, then you are really going to like it.

Straight out of the gate the album opens with “Kill The Noise”, which is a punchy angsty track, with a heavy riff. The track was the second single released from the album back in September 2021, and if Spotify plays are anything to go by, seems to be the most popular. Lyrically it runs with the very prevalent theme of PAPA ROACH’s music, which talks about inner demons, and in particular in this track about the internal rage and voices of said demons, which are just becoming too loud, hence the title “Kill The Noise”. I was drawn to the song immediately and found it very catchy and relatable.

The second track “Stand Up” was the fourth single released from the album, and was released in January this year. It has very much the Nu-Metal sound that has appeared so often in the back catalogue. I get a very RATM meets Sevendust meets BMTH vibe. Weird mix, I know but that’s what comes to mind when listening to this track. Touching on the subject matter of oppression, and the need to encourage us all to “Stand Up”. Definitely a great track though and a stand-out for me.

The first single from this album, and the third track, is “Swerve” which features Jason Aalon Butler from Fever333 and rapper Sueco. While this totally contradicts Jacoby Shaddix’s statement in 2004 that the “rap was gone”, this track is well-produced and catchy, it has a funky little sax bridge, and is likely to appeal to those who prefer the rap-rock stylings. One thing this track does do highlights the diversity of PAPA ROACH, and how they are always looking to move with the times and not be stuck in the early 2000s. And while I am a rock/metal/punk-oriented person myself, I certainly do not discredit musicians whose diversity steps outside of the genres I prefer.

Bloodline”, the fourth song from EGO TRIP, feels a little darker, and a little more aggressive. A heavy beat, with a catchy pre-chorus leading into a loud and boisterous chorus. As with many of the tracks, this song is short and punchy. None of the tracks exceed 4 minutes, with more than half being less than 3 minutes long. It certainly leaves the listener wanting more, but means you can bounce through the whole album from song to song without feeling like you need to skip a track at all. And while there are certainly some songs that grab me more than others, I really do not think there are any really bad tracks.

The fifth track is “Liar” and this is one that I really like. It has such a bouncy, catchy tune, and the lyrics, while fast and at times a mouthful, flow well. The layered, gang-style vocals of the chorus work really well on this track.

“Ego Trip” is the sixth song on the album of the same name, and if I’m honest is one of my lesser faves. Musically it is great, with the drums absolutely standing out, and also has some real funky bass riffs too. I do find though, that lyrically this one is a little cheesy.

Another one of my faves from the album is track seven, “Unglued”. It has an old-school “rock style PAPA ROACH” sound that I have an affinity with. Lyrically it is cohesive and appears to be about the breakdown of a relationship. Although not one of the higher ranking songs when you look at the album as a whole, I like the sound of it, and have often played it over again for multiple listens in a row.

“Dying To Believe” was released in October 2021, and looks to be right up there in popularity. Jacoby Shaddix was reported as having described this song as having been written to help unify the division that is prevalent in today’s society. Anyone who loves music, knows that, in itself, music is a great way to unite people from all over. It brings us together, it makes us feel whole, and is an outlet for so many to express themselves and their feelings, so I applaud Jacoby on trying to lessen the divide. Lyrically it is deep, and musically it has elements of the new styles we see being produced by some of the world’s biggest artists. More synth, couipled with a very harmonic chorus makes this track super listenable and appealing.

Track nine, “Killing Time”, to me has what I deem as the typical PAPA ROACH sound. Highly identifiable, and one to get you moving. A tad repetitive but nothing so bad as to taint the song.

Anyone who knows me knows that vocals are my thing. I love a great vocal track. On this album, this is that track. I cannot tell you how many times I have played this song over and over again. Jacoby Shaddix has done such a stellar job on “Leave A Light On”.  It is nothing like any of the other tracks on this whole album. It is poignant, deep, and just an absolutely beautiful, beautiful song. I hold nothing back in saying it is my favourite. It’s no heavy rock song or riffing Nu Metal song, but it is the one I just cannot stop singing and playing over again. I would love to see this acoustic song done live!!

100% my highlight of the whole album, even if I am the only one who thinks so!

Track eleven brings in yet another element in what I can only describe as more of a pop-punk/rock type of vibe. “Always Wandering” is definitely catchy, I actually really like this one too. I feel it is referring to recurring issues, whether it be drugs, bad relationships, or mental health.

Saying that somehow it always comes back around. Life is a constant battle for some, and I think, in that respect, PAPA ROACH nails this sentiment in many of their songs., including the next track “No Apologies” Learning to let go of the things we hold deep inside is hard, but listening to songs like this, for some, might just make it a touch easier.

The penultimate track is “Cut The Line”, which is another one of those songs that has a vaguely pop-punk rock sound to it, that is becoming popular right now. The drums on this track are brilliant and Tony Palermo has to be congratulated on his overall performance across the whole album. So too do Tobin Esperance and Jerry Horton, and of course, the one and only Jacoby Shaddix, whom I believe is the driving force behind the success of PAPA ROACH.

And lastly, but certainly, not least is the final track “I Surrender” which starts out heavy, and has a very melodic chorus. Backing vocals are notable and the tale of not running from your past, and accepting who you are seems to be where this song leads you. A great track to close out what I think is an excellent album. I certainly like it far more than the last two albums and have an appreciation for the diversity the album brings. Bands that have been around as long as these guys do well to constantly evolve, try new sounds, and develop further the sounds they have created for themselves. Nearly 30 years in this business is a huge milestone, and I look forward to hearing more from PAPA ROACH in the future.

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Album ReviewReviews

Meshuggah – Immutable

Review by Mitch Charlton

The lords of the polyrhythm are back with their ninth studio album Immutable and even after 30 years, Meshuggah is still killing it and showing the world they can write some incredible music. Straight off the bat, from the opening track Broken Cog, you know you’ve put on a Meshuggah album, it's their sound, their riff style, you know it’s going to be good, and you know you’ll get what you want out of it.

This album blends amazingly, the song progression from track 1 to track 13, over 60-Minutes of riffing, flows like a river, Immutable is incredibly well written and produced, which you’ve come to expect from this band. This is the kind of album you should have on and listen to in its entirety. Whether the album lyrically is conceptual or not, I am unsure, but the music definitely sounds like it is or at least produced in a way to be cinematic or soundtrack-esque and even has a 9:30 minute instrumental, They Move Below, about halfway through the album. This song breaks up and revitalizes the album, flow, its starts slow and builds all over again to then bring you into Kaleidoscope which brings it straight back into the single string chugginess. On my first play-through of the album, I put it on and just listened without really taking note of a track change and then realised I was halfway through the album, it's just ebbs and flows in the right places.

One thing I have always loved about this band, regardless of what they are playing, you are always able to find the beat and headband along. These songs aren’t riddled with changing riffs, crazy interludes, or bridges, they are generally a couple of different riffs per song and then fleshed out with some lead work here and there. It really gives you time to enjoy the riff and get into the flow of the song, sometimes I find in prog metal that bands try and cram as many riffs into a song as they can and you get “Oh that’s a killer riff….. and it's gone” you don’t find that with Immutable.

The three singles released from this album, The Abysmal Eye, Lighting the Shortening Fuse and I Am The Thirst will give you a slight taster of the album, pretty good choices from Immutable to show off. The Abysmal Eye has a film clip that is visually stimulating as there is a ton of imagery flowing across the screen, vast deserts and of course, eyes everywhere. My favourite track off the album is Ligature Marks, this is ridiculously heavy and ambient. The repeating rhythm just hypnotizes you into head banging, you can’t help it.

Hearing this album, you can hear how Meshuggah have really paved the way for Modern Metal and their influence on the scene, whether the current bands are conscious of it or not. They are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to their craft and this album just further cements that in. I hope that by the time they get to tour this and even get to Australia, they are all fit and fighting, the drummer, and goddamn WHAT a drummer, Tomas Haake has been suffering from a skin condition that has caused issues playing but you wouldn’t even notice from listening to this. Meshuggah are unstoppable and Immutable.

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The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain

Review by Mitch Charlton

For me, Watain are the epitome of Black Metal, they are pure aggression, ambient, and moody but above all else, there has always been conviction in their music. You know they believe in what they write about. I enjoy music a lot more if a band can make me as a listener, believe that they believe or stand behind what they are writing about, and with Watain, there is no second-guessing. You know they mean business.

Watain are back with The Agony & Ecstasy of.. their 7th studio album and this is a punch in the face or the petrol on the fire that the Black Metal world needs. This album is aggressive and intense, just as their fans expect, and throughout their endeavor to create brutal and threatening music, there is no clarity lost in their sound. Everything is crystal clear but, on each listen, I find more layering in the music, little guitar or bass melodies like in the doom-laden We Remain, there is always more to find and take from their music. Where the music may slow down in pace, it makes up for in mood or atmosphere, it never feels or sounds less intense regardless of what they are playing.

The two singles released for this album are The Howling and Serimosa, good choices that show off the two moods of the album. The Howling reminds me of Lawless Darkness sort of riffing, a good Black N Roll vibe, whereas Serimosa has a more ambient reverb sound, and the Bassline and Kick pattern really drives home that rhythm at the heart of the song. This album has made incredible use of reverb, the drums sound massive! It is a classic Watain sound, I’ve always enjoyed how their drums sound on an album. The mixing of the guitar and bass is a classic Black Metal sound with the use of tremolo guitars and colder sounding bass holding it all together and providing you ample chance to get into a Black N Roll mood to headbang along from start to finish.

My personal favourites off this album are We Remain and Septentrion. These two stood out just for the epic sounds the tracks provide. We remain is a slower doomier piece featuring guest vocals from Farida Lemouchi, who is the voice of The Devil’s Blood, a band that influences Watain, also another band that practices what they preach, definitely check them out! It reminded me of how They Rode On fit into Wild Hunt, it has a completely different sound to other tracks, a complete darkened affair. Where it lacks the pace and ferocity of other tracks on this album, the intensity and atmosphere are kept evident. Septentrion, the album ender brings it home amazingly, this epic track should be played loud for you to fully immerse yourself in the music. I hope this one makes the live set; it would be incredible on the stage.

Watain live shows are just as dangerous as their music sounds, not in a physical sense but from the gigs that I’ve been to see them, they do incredibly well at proving their conviction and message in their music, it’s animalistic, the feeling they provoke in the audience. The Agony and Ecstasy of.. is quite a fitting name given that these guys most likely went through both of these stages whilst writing this album and they will bring this energy to their live performance and the crowd will have the same feelings. With an already incredible catalogue of material, this album only adds fuel to the fire!

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News

JULIAN LENNON TO Release Seventh Studio Album

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, Julian Lennon announced two new songs today from his seventh studio album JUDE, ‘Every Little Moment’ and ‘Freedom,’ available to pre-save on all streaming platforms.JUDE will be released later this year.

The album title JUDE is a nod to the legendary song ‘Hey Jude’, by The Beatles, written by Paul McCartney to comfort 5-year-old Julian following his parents’ separation. Originally written as ‘Hey Jules’, McCartney changed ‘Jules’ to ‘Jude’ because he thought it sounded better in the song. The tune became one of the band’s most successful tracks, topping the charts for 19 weeks after its release, and remains a crowd favorite in McCartney’s live shows today. Even though he talks of having a love/hate relationship with the song because it’s a reminder of an unhappy time in his life, he’s thankful for the support expressed through the lyrics, and over the years, the song has become part of his personal identity.

“Many of these songs have been in the works for several years, so it almost feels like a coming-of-age album,” said Lennon. With great respect for the overwhelming significance of the song written for me, the title JUDE conveys the very real journey of my life that these tracks represent.”

Julian Lennon and Justin Clayton share production on the forthcoming album JUDE.
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About Julian Lennon:
Julian Lennon has always felt that he has observed life differently, perhaps because his path through life has been so unusual. Nothing could be more apparent, as he reveals to the viewer his keen eye for composition and his gift for capturing an intimate moment.
Julian seeks to depict his personal journey as an artist in the midst of unique life experiences.

Born in Liverpool, England, Julian Lennon began his artistic trajectory at a young age with an inherent gift for playing musical instruments. Those abilities would soon broaden into the cinematic and visual arts. As an observer of life in all its forms, Julian developed his personal expression through such mediums as music, documentary filmmaking, philanthropy, and photography.

In 2015, through The White Feather Foundation, Lennon launched The Cynthia Lennon Scholarship for Girls, a scholarship program for girls in Kenya. Since then, the Foundation has awarded over 40 scholarships to girls throughout Africa, and in 2021 expanded the scholarship to art students in the U.S. In September 2020, Lennon was honored with the CC Forum Philanthropy Award in Monaco. That same month, he was named a UNESCO Center for Peace 2020 Cross-Cultural and Peace Crafter Award Laureate.

As an author, Lennon has published several books including the New York Times best-selling trilogy Touch the Earth, Heal the Earth, and Love the Earth, completed in 2019; and the children’s graphic novel The Morning Tribe in 2021. That same year, Lennon was also honored with the World Literacy Award for his work to promote literacy through The WFF.

To find out more about Julian Lennon’s life and history please visit his official website: julianlennon.com.

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HARDCORE SUPERSTAR Announce New Album ABRAKADABRA – Due Out March 25th

Abrakadabra is the upcoming album from Gothenburg’s leading exponents of street metal, HARDCORE SUPERSTAR! The follow up to 2018’s critically acclaimed You Can't Kill My Rock 'N' Roll, Abrakadabrawill be released physically and digitally via Golden Robot Records (for USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South America only) on March 25th, and is available to pre-order on digital and CD now.

HARDCORE SUPERSTAR has recently released five alcohol-fuelled, riff-laden singles. ‘Catch Me If You Can’, ‘Dreams In Red’, ‘Weep When You Die’ and ‘Forever and a Day’, and their latest, ‘Fighter’, now available on all digital platforms. All 5 tracks give a deep insight into the brilliance of Abrakadabra, which may just be HARDCORE SUPERSTAR’s best album to date.

Containing 10 hard-hitting songs exploding with riffs, attitude, intensity, and that magical feeling you get when your work is over and the weekend is here, Abrakadabra is an album for the fans and best shared with great friends, cold beers and very loudspeakers!

Recorded in 2020 and 2021 at both Österlyckan and Bombastik in Musikens Hus – Gothenburg, the decision was made early on to once again work with Johan Reiven, who was responsible for production duties on the bands ‘Black Album’. Adde states, “Working with Johan was like stepping back in time, there’s a shared intensity and commitment to excel that collectively drives us and ultimately brings out the best in us all…I am 100% happy with the result.”

This shared intensity can be heard on every one of the tracks from the defiantly rebellious ‘Dreams in Red’ through to the bar-soaked philosophy of ‘One For All’ and the thundering powerhouse that is ‘Catch Me If You Can’.

Abrakadabra is uncomplicated, rock n’ roll escapism and entertainment at its best…sprinkled with a little bit of magic for good measure.

The success and acclaim of You Can’t Kill My Rock 'N' Roll inspired the band significantly and writing for Abrakadabra enthusiastically started whilst out on tour. Connecting with so many fans, old and new helped to influence the shape and sound of the new record, with drummer Adde commenting that the new album, “feels like the record we should have released after the Black album”.

Pre-order/add/save Abrakadabra on:

Digital HERE
CD HERE

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Warning Order – With Me … With You

Duis nec tincidunt turpis. Fusce diam enim, volutpat sit amet nunc quis, pellentesque pulvinar nunc. Nulla ac commodo nulla. Nunc vel leo diam. Aliquam quis luctus nunc. Aliquam ac magna mattis, sagittis arcu id, convallis purus. Aliquam lorem ex, dapibus nec sapien eget, rutrum rutrum eros. Aenean ut mauris suscipit, tempor neque vulputate, sodales diam.
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Wicked Smile – Wait For The Night

A wealth of musical experience, a writhing powerhouse of talented individuals, a collective passion for metal and heavy rock, all culminate into this brutally brilliant debut release that is certain to bring a wicked smile to your dial.

Wait for the Night has been a long time in the making and one can only imagine the volume of songs that were left in the wake of this debut album that did not make it to the final cut, because it is immediately evident that Wicked Smile has been thoroughly ruthless in getting this collection just right. 

With the opener sporting a mighty metal title like Date with the Devil, my malevolent mosh monster within expects big things from the first track.This band realises that we purists are sure to play the collection in sequence and there is only one chance for first impressions, but then the album cover makes clear that there is an OG aspect to this mighty debut album.The whole package harks back to the days of exploring a record in the sequenced order presented, just as the band intended whilst the listener stares at the cover, enjoying every aspect of the experience.As the muffled bass intro rises from the depths and surfaces through to our mortal dimension, a devil indeed rises to the fore. The accompanied by a blistering guitar salute, a malign and maniacal dance ensues, doubtless marking that our date with the demon has begun.With Stevie, Glen, Dave, and Jason in full flight within seconds, the vocal might of Danny Cecati puts vocal perfection to this track and a thoroughly sensational journey begins in earnest.Slashed and ripped by the skilfully delivery of riffage from Stevie and neck sore already from the mosh, my inner metal monster is exhilarated with pain-ridden glee, begging for the band to deliver more.

The now well-known and widely enjoyed Wait For The Night flows forth from the speakers to perfection as the delights of a well-celebrated hard rock heritage ooze from this album, but again the sequencing is a joy to experience as the list of suspected influences swirl through your mind.But there is a welcome realisation that despite there being a familiarity with sound, note, style, and delivery, Wicked Smile has achieved a rock elegance in their music that is all their own. But entwined within that sound is a regular homage to styles that have helped craft the band's own brand.I challenge you to enjoy the beginning of We Fall and not be ripped straight back to 1982 in hearing Goanna usher in Solid Rock with the didgeridoo.But just as Shane Howard explains that out here nothing changes, not in a hurry anyway, the I am reminded of the lads from Like A Storm who have melded metal and didgeridoo in more recent years, and whilst pondering this thought the opening seconds, Wicked Smile have snuck in a soaring, stadium shaking behemoth of a rock anthem into the line-up.Chills accompany the chorus as you realise that one day we will be screaming this song back at them in the likes of Rod Laver Arena, thinking I knew this song when the debut album was first released. Wow.

While you are still in the throes of the former, the pace eases with Sign Of Times but the sheer magnificence of the music journey does not let up one solitary ounce. This ballad of somber reflection is especially fitting after the last two years here on earth, but before long this emotive masterwork takes you in its rock embrace and serenades you into a state of momentary and blissful amnesia. Then, snap…just like that…we are back. This brilliant song is a timely reminder of how musicians the world over, help sooth our journey and mark the moments with their creations. With Wicked Smile as no exception, a song like this can whisk you away and guide you to momentary distraction or provide the timely reminded that we are all in this together. Music is indeed the great unifier.

Just like every track before, Daze Of Delirium is perfectly sequenced to provide the bridge back to riff ridden excitement. The rhythmic powerhouse behind this mammoth sound in Glen Cave and Jason Tyro is utterly relentless and keeps the sound alive, pumping and pulsating the energy through each track. Ostensibly, Killer At Large levels the sound and creates some mid album consistency, but this track is lulling you into a sense of stability before Last Goodbye takes you by surprise. Spoiler alert, and with all due respect, this isn’t Jeff Buckley. As the rhythm and lead attest while pounded to pace by Jason at the kit in intro, this song is straight out of the emotive high energy playbook, and before long Danny has your heart soaring in sensational style. I tried my best at 1 minute 20 but going to have to squeeze a lot harder to get anywhere near those lofty vocal heights. Musically and spiritually.   So red faced and hoarse of throat, I feel calmed as a serenading siren beckons me forth into Loves Got A Hold On You. I have no idea if the band intended me to picture the likes of a beautiful mermaid as bait to loves malicious intent, luring me forward but the lyrics and power of this tracks soon confirm that we are indeed on the same track. Well…sort of, but regardless, it’s all bound to end in tears. What a track.

Don’t Wait For Me. I have no words and neither I should. This I leave to the listener to experience for themselves. With one caveat. I beg of you to listen to the song in album sequence and enjoy the experience. 

Stronger. Could the finale title be more apt? Could the collection be completed any better? Again, I leave this to you the listener, but it is rare indeed that vocally, lyrically, and musically and song compels you to start the entire album all over again.

The Wicked Smile protagonists have all the experience necessary to know that a debut has encapsulated the spirit of the band and their belief while knocking the socks right off the first-time listener, but they have taken this a little further with Wait For The Night by taking the listener by the throat, shaking them from their shoes and demanding the attention this mighty first album so richly deserves. Bravura Wicked Smile. A thoroughly brilliant work that deserves a place of prominence in every music collection.

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