With each record they released, I like Gideon more and more. Calloused might not feel like the natural progression from Milestone. Calloused is harder hitting and brings back some of the aggressions from Costs (but does it better). But there are songs like The Limit (going into The Pulse) that are through and through the natal melodic hardcore progression, where the beauty and heaviness coexist in a way that’s just perfect! The album’s opener (and title track) is a perfect hardcore song with a great hook before busting into Gideon’s more melodic side, briefly. Beartooth’s Caleb Shomo’s vocals on Survive bring a nice addition of intensity and melody on the hook. Straight up hardcore songs like Savage, Exposed, and The Drifter are true to the genre of hardcore without feeling dated. World of Hurt is one of those songs that showcase all the elements that make Gideon such a great band! Calloused is great and I think it cements Gideon as one of Facedown’s top dogs. 5 out of 5 Stars!
in 2011 Lights released Siberia. A beautiful gem of an electro-pop record that made onto my best of the year list (number 7). That album’s follow-up, Little Machines, is even better! At times Little Machines is subtle, and at others it’s more in your face. It’s warmer and more inviting. Where Siberia might not have been everyone’s cup of tea, Little Machines is a pop music dream. Sure, that cold aggressive synth sound that accompanied great pop songs on Siberia was a huge part of the charm, but Little Machines is the natural progression. Lights is one of those artists that you’re waiting for the mainstream to discover and become huge, but dreading the day when it happens. Until then the rest of us can enjoy this pop gem guilt free. 5 out of 5 Stars.
Colossus made an impression on me with their debut, Time & Eternal. Neither a good or bad impression, but an impression. If Colossus could collect their thoughts, listen back to their debut, see what was successful and grow from there, they’d release one killer album. Insert Badlands. Badlands is more cohesive. The songs are tighter and more focused, not running around in different directions. The growth that needed to happen, happened. Badlands is heavy! The melodic and “numetalish” riffs from Time & Eternal have almost all been left behind. It’s not death core, but it’s trending in more of their vein. As a fan of heavy music, Badlands is enjoyable and it has it’s moments of pure enjoyability. But there’s something about it that keeps it from being great. But much improved and focused from their debut. 4 out of 5 Stars.
Loose Canon Volume 2 is a hype album! Which doesn’t make it shallow. But there aren’t these introspective songs that are all over any hip-hop record you’ve heard this year (Although Common Sense is pretty slow jam/introspective). Canon instead delivers an upbeat party record. You’ll bob your head and dance. The songs are fun but the lyrics still pack a punch. Motivation is instantly a song you’re drawn to. The hook is catchy and the beat is all hype. Dreams is the best hook on the record! The bonus track Reach Into the Night is off the charts and it’s reason alone to get the bonus tracks! Loose Canon Volume 2 is fun! 4 out of 5 Stars.
I didn’t really think that New Found Glory as a four piece would vary much from the five piece version. The pop punk kings do what they do well! Resurrection might not have the obvious radio single that jumps out of the speakers as the new catchiest song you’ve ever heard, but it’s got an “old school” vibe. Resurrection feels more like NFG’s self-titled debut and Nothing Gold Can Stay. Just the maturer, more polished version. New Found Glory are what we thought they were. A really good pop punk band and it’s not like the band is doing anything new on Resurrection. But… We wouldn’t want them to do something different! 4 out of 5 Stars.
Phanatik is name familiar to long time christian hip-hop fans. The long-time Cross Movement member has dropped his new album on bandcamp. There’s something very interesting about The Art of Rap Battle. There’s an old school vibe about the album that I like. And the more spins through The Art of Battle Rap, the more I enjoy the songs and find myself connecting with the songs. Where the record falls short is when you look around at the hip-hop scene and what else has come out this year. What gives the record an old school vibe, also makes it feel outdated by comparison. While the old school vibe is cool, the record just doesn’t stand out because it doesn’t sound like Phanatik’s intent was for the record to sound “old school”. Even though I enjoy The Art of Battle Rap, it just doesn’t stack up. 3.5 out of 5 Stars.
It’s no secret that I love Blood and Ink Records and everything they release. So it should be no surprise that I love Household’s debut With Or Without. Household is more than a hardcore band. In a lot of ways With Or Without reminds me of Hopesfalls debut, The Frailty of Words. It’s got an emo vibe. Not the 2000’s MTV/Warped Tour emo or even the mid-late 90’s midwest emo sound, but the classic early 90’s post-hardcore. It’s raw and emotive, never overly intricate but never boring. The music moves in waves, each new wave hitting you fresh but giving you just enough of a respite in-between to catch your breathe and get ready to embrace the next one. The bass riffs walk through the crunchy driving guitars, while the drums never stay stagnant, always finding a new fill or change of beat to keep the songs ever moving in directions you don’t expect. It’s what hardcore is supposed to be! 5 out of 5 Stars!
I didn’t love Fit For A King’s debut, Creation Destruction. The best thing I could say about it was that I like heavy music and I Fit For A King was another band that was heavy and good enough to have a home in my collection. But I haven’t listened to Creation Destruction since I reviewed it. Slave To Nothing is both better and less memorable. The moments that are good, are stellar. The album’s opener Kill The Pain, had me stop and curse out loud at how good the drop was. Young and Deserving is one heck of a metalcore song! The opening riff on Hooked is stellar, even if the songs teeters on the edge of numetal. The Final Thoughts Of A Dying Man is a great closer. It gets weird in the middle, but overall, a killer track. My issues are when Fit For A King veers into For Today/standard super heavy metalcore territory. It’s been done time and time again that it’s almost tiresome. A lot like their debut, it’s not offensive and as a fan of the genre, there’s something enjoyable about Slave to Nothing. But it’s not groundbreaking. 3.5 out of 5 Stars.