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Space Monkey – The Blackest Hole

Space Money - The Blackest Hole

The guys in Space Monkey will gladly tell you that they’re just a bunch of fun-loving, hard-rocking jackasses who like to have a good time and jam out – damn the results.  The guys in Space Monkey are full of shit.  They may love what they do and the music that they’re making, but something like “The Blackest Hole” isn’t something a group of drunks belch up after one too many bong hits – it’s crafted.

“Dark in Continents” sets the stage with a pounding, driving, gradually swelling build toward…what?  At its core, it’s a quasi-hardcore shredder that bleeds perfectly into “My Life, My Curse” with an unending stream of manic rage.  That’s when it starts becoming impossible to classify these guys, though, as in the midst of that brutal track comes a very non-hardcore breakdown that would sound completely out of place if it weren’t so completely perfect.  “Twisted Visions” is much the same, with that same mishmash of emotions (all dark, pissed off, and somehow beautiful).  Were those some old-school black metal influences in “Woeful Medina” and “Odessa”?

Just as you’re starting to grapple with the sound, “Infested Waters” comes along and really sets the stage, with a crazed mix of old-school black metal, hardcore, stoner rock, and thrash.  If you’re convinced that all of those sounds couldn’t work at the same time, check out “The Internal Flame”.  “Manic” stands alone, completely flipping the script with a sludgy stoner rock sound that the guys call back on “Smoke” – but “Manic” may be the standalone single.

There aren’t many bands anymore who still embrace the instrumental, but the guys in Space Monkey have never been shy about kicking your ass with straight up musicianship in their other bands, so they offer up “Gemini” here.  That said, it flows so seamlessly into “Odessa” and “The Internal Flame” that it doesn’t seem like an instrumental so much as it does the opening act to a sprawling epic that pulls the whole thing together and finishes in a way that really makes you wish it wasn’t finished.

Space Monkey – The Blackest Hole

Rating by Larry McCloskey: 4.5 stars
****1/2

The big things are what will make you listen: the blistering riffs, epic breakdowns, animal rage, and just straight up rocking that’s taking place.  But it’s the little things: the mixing, the arrangement of the tracks on the disc and the way they all feed into each other, and the way each transition moves from one segment of a track to the next that will stop you in your tracks and make you keep listening over and over again.  “The Blackest Hole” is many things to many people: it’s power, passion, and promise.  In short, it’s Cleveland metal.

CD Review – Queensryche – “Condition Hüman” (2015 Century Media)

Queensryche – “Condition Hüman” (2015 Century Media)

by Dom Rini

Queensryche are back at it once again but with La Torre taking the lead on a full length release and the expectations are pretty high and the bar has been raised. For the most part everyone who has seen Queensryche since he jumped on board has given him the thumbs up and has accepted him wholeheartedly. At first there were many who were dedicated to the original lineup and that sound. But make no mistake with Todd La Torre ripping the vocals he has not let anyone down and has continued to give Queensryche a positive take, unlike the predecessor. The last release “Queensryche” offered the fans a glimpse into what the band was going after, and it wasn’t a new sound, it was the classic sound that made them who they are, too bad that release was so short.

“Condition Hüman” comes at you with an older vibe but a really smooth and well orchestrated sound.The guitars and vocals are extremely prominent and the all-around sound is at its true best. When listening to Condition Human I got the vibe of the “Rage for Order” in a few of the tracks. The vocal arrangements are extremely powerful and lyrically top of their game.

Tracks to listen to “Arrow of Time” this track really sets the stage for this release. “Guardian” has that classic Queensryche sound to it. It could have easily been an extra track from “Empire” this has to be my favorite track off this one. LaTorre really does a great job at this one. “Selfish Lives” also has that classic vibe to it and will have you singing along with it. “All There Was” is a guitarist song. Some great riffs and the solo’s are really memorable. Its one of the more powerful tracks off this one.

Overall: With this being a release with Todd La Torre on it to deliver and the band continuing to forge on it is easy to give this one a 9/10. This is a great Queensryche release. It has the power to really stick in your mind and to listen to over and over again. There are a lot of little things added to this release in the recording that keeps you listening and paying attention to it. Would have really like to hear more heavier tracks, hopefully the next release will explode!

“Condition Hüman” track listing:

  1. Arrow Of Time
    02. Guardian
    03. Hellfire
    04. Toxic Remedy
    05. Selfish Lives
    06. Eye9
    07. Bulletproof
    08. Hourglass
    09. Just Us
    10. All There Was
    11. The Aftermath
    12. Condition Hüman

“Queensrÿche” sold around 13,500 copies in the United States in its first week of release to land at position No. 23 on The Billboard 200 chart.

CrashDollz – self-titled

CrashDollz CD cover

Remember when rocking out meant having fun? CrashDollz does.

“Dumpster Punk” sets the pace and tracks like “Sugar Rocket” (albeit a bit unfocused at times), “I Will Not Be Ignored” (even if the open does get a bit repetitive) and “Wrecking Ball” follow suit. This is funtime rock in the vein of those classic bands like Jackyl. You sort of knew you weren’t going to get sweeping epics and that some of the songs may have some warts, but that was sort of the point. This is music to drink to a scream along with at the bar. “Female Anarchy” has more of a throwback sound to it, a la The Sweet. That irreverent approach comes out as well through some underlying punk sensibilities in tracks like “27 Tulip Pass” and “Bad Taste Barbie”. Again, though, this is fun. Less Sex Pistols, more The Offspring.

That’s not to say that these gals (and guys) are a one trick pony. “Dollhouse” is a moody atmospheric mon ster that would stick out like a sore thumb if the song wasn’t so damn good on its own. It veers off into uncharted territory, but you don’t even mind because of the ride.

Does it all work? No. “Novocaine” is too smart for its own good, changing pace in the middle and coming across as forced, and “U.S. Punk Bombs” mistakes being under-produced for being raw. But that same rawness makes even the bad tracks work on some level because they play with a sort of garage band vibe.

CrashDollz

Rating by Larry McCloskey: 3.5 stars
***1/2

At its best, this album is raw and untamed, at its worst its unpolished and unfocused – throughout it is fun and visceral. Rock and roll used to be about fun and in the heyday of the 80s glam and sleaze scenes, it was one big party. These dollz are here to crash that party.

-Late

 

Eight Feet Deep – self-titled

Eight Feet Deep CD cover

Eight Feet Deep answer the age-old question of what would happen if Chris Cornell had joined the early (pre-hair band fame era) version of Whitesnake.

The impressive thing is that with a short (four song) disc, Eight Feet Deep are able to show a pretty wide range of sounds without losing sight of the unifying blues rock style. “Leader” starts things off with a bit of a funk style, reminiscent of Clutch. “ThrowDown” is more straightforward and up tempo, calling to mind the resurgence of blues rock in the 1980s with bands like Great White and Whitesnake. “My Friend” plays with a heavier vibe a la Pat Travers. The one song that sticks out is “No Regrets”, a light and pop-styled track that is surprisingly airy and upbeat; it works, though, harkening back to classic blues/boogie rock acts like Little Feat.

These guys do a lot with only four songs and to a great degree that is because of Mike DiMeo’s powerful vocals. That’s not to take anything away from the instrumentation, but with the exception of “No Regrets”, the musical stage set for each song is largely similar – it’s DiMeo’s ability to wail, croon and everything in between that remake each song into something other than “the next blues rock track” on the disc.

This four song disc is a look into a tighter, more powerful sort of blues rock – something deeper.

-Late

Eight Feet Deep

Rating by Larry McCloskey: 4.0 stars
****

Teacher’s Pet – self-titled

Teacher's Pet CD cover

It seems strange to call a disc (or a band, for that matter) “ahead of their time” when the tracks were written 30 years ago, but that just makes Teacher’s Pet stand out that much more. These guys – and this disc – are pop-punk before such a thing existed and got screwed up by bubble gum punk bands like Blink 182. There’s no mistake that this is punk, but it’s without the depressed raging and pissing and moaning that defined the genre from its roots until the late 90s or so.

“Can’t Do That” sets the ably for punk’s energy and vitriol, but – like the rest of the disc – is tinged with some pop and even glam sensibilities. The addition of keys add an extra layer of excited energy that makes you want to get up and move without necessarily wanting to burn down the system. This is a staple on other tracks, including (but not limited to) “Let’s Face It” and “Big Fat Mama”.

This is not to say that the album is totally free from bubble gum punk cheesiness. “Fast Food baby”, “Little Arthur” and “The Cops Are Coming” are rife with the stuff. Te lyrics also have a tendency to become overly trite and simplistic with amateurish rhyme schemes on tracks like “Don’t Need You”, “I’m Henry VIII I Am” and (predictably) “Meet Me At The Hot Dog Stand In Half An Hour But Don’t Tell Your Dad”.

That same seeming immaturity (recklessness?) works flawlessly at other times, though, making tracks like “Hooked On You” far catchier than your average punk rock track – sometimes, this comes at the risk of sounding insincere, such as tracks like “Cincinnati Stomp” (who says you can’t write a catchy song about a dozen people being trampled to death at a rock concert?) and “Teenage Suicide”.

With rockabilly sentiments that run deeper than their cover of “Summertime Blues”, Teacher’s Pet draw from a vast range of influences from Eddie Cochran to The Stooges. It may not always works, but they get high marks for trying – for reinventing the punk sound a couple of decades before Green Day made it cool, they’ll always be this teacher’s pet.

-Late

Teacher’s Pet

Rating by Larry McCloskey: 3.5 stars
***1/2

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