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Reviews in chronological order of publishing top to bottom

Halestorm - Hello, It's Mz. Hyde EP
Atlantic Records
Posted 1/24/12 7:00PM EST

Courtesy Atlantic Records

With the Hello, It's Mz. Hyde EP Halestorm gives an oh so sweet taste of what is coming from their new album The Strange Case Of... dropping April 10 right before the band hits the road with Godsmack and Staind on the Mass Chaos Tour. The statement from Lzzy Hale the the four songs on the EP are from the deepest, darkest, and some light parts of her soul is proven in the ferocity of her vocals on "Love Bites (So Do I)" if in nothing else!
While "Daughters of Darkness" is one of the best feminine power songs this reviewer has ever heard, showing the multifaceted strength and power of women so very well. And "Rock Show" and "Here's To Us" show intimate self studies of oneself and a romantic relationship in relatable and real ways to both sexes... while still bringing the hard rocking sound that is Halestorm.
As readers can probably tell this reviewer is a fan, so please excuse the bias; it's well earned by the quartet. Hello, It's Mz. Hyde shows that Halestorm just keeps getting better as time goes on, as a fan and as a journalist I'm looking forward to more than ever to The Strange Case Of... after listening to these four songs. Lzzy's vocals are in top shape and ass kicking and instruments by Arejay, Joe, and Josh are some of their best studio work so far. The band's sonic assault will leave with a grin like you just got lucky and make you want more!
"Love Bites (So Do I)"
"Rock Show"
"Daughters of Darkness"
"Here's To Us"

Halestorm gets a 5 out of 5 for Hello, It's Mz Hyde.
Halestorm is Lzzy Hale (vocals, rhythm guitar), Arejay Hale (drums, percussion) Joe Hottinger (lead guitar), and Josh Smith (bass guitar). For more from Halestorm hit www.halestormrock.com.

- Michael Meade

Victor Sierra - Electric Rain
Posted 2/10/12 7:15PM EST

French Steampunk band Victor Sierra takes listeners on a unique journey with Electric Rain, in a great way. Granted for this reviewer there are some language gaps, some of the tracks are in French, Spanish, one is in German, and then the rest in English. Even with the language barrier the songs can still be appreciated, as well they should be. Compositions are solid on the instrumentation side of the equation and vocals are strong regardless of the language being sung in.

Steampunk, for those unfamiliar, is a subgenre of goth rock/metal combined with various and varying elements of industrial, vaudville, rock, punk, and classical. To describe the sound of steampunk beyond that to a non-fan is difficult so this reviewer, as a fan of the genre, always recommends to listen to a steampunk band to understand the vibe. On that note, Victor Sierra is definitely a band to give a listen to, and then another and perhaps another after that, whether you're new to the genre or a fan.
"El Topo"
"The Road Not Taken"
"Blood In The Skies"
"Make My Day"
"White Rabbit"
"Scratch My Door"
"Yiddische Klub"
"Bridge To Nowhere"
Choice cuts are "Blood In The Skies", "White Rabbit", "Scratch My Door", and "Bridge To Nowhere".
Victor Sierra gets a solid 4 out of 5 for Electric Rain.

Victor Sierra is Anouk Adrien (lead vocals), Bob Eisenstein (
Guitars, Mandola, Saz, Bass, Clarinet, Computers, Composer), and Big Machine (synths, machines). For more from Victor Sierra check out www.myspace.com/victorsierra and www.reverbnation.com/victorsierra.

- Michael Meade

Man Of The Hour - A Modern Day Epic (Single)

Posted 6:25PM EST 2/25/12

Man Of The Hour's single off of their I Can't Believe Man Of The Hour Is A Pop-Punk Band pretty much lives up to its name. Solid composition, tight instrumentation, and spot on vocals will have listeners reeling themselves in and asking for more. And what's more, the band can write some awesome lyrics, lyrics that have substance and are personal to probably 99.9% of us. Pop-Punk has gotten very homogenius to the point of being plastic and fake... Man Of The Hour thankfully breaks that mold, and then proceeds to take a sledgehammer to the pieces.

Man Of The Hour gets a 4.5 out of 5 for their single A Modern Day Epic.
Man Of The Hour is Rich (vocals, guitar), Gareth (bass), and Josh (drums). For more Man Of The Hour checkout http://manofthehourband.tumblr.com and www.facebook.com/manofthehourband.

- Michael Meade

The Commander In Chief - Evolution EP
Commander Records
Posted 3/5/12 1:45AM EST

Courtesy Commander Records

The Commander In Chief's EP Evolution is four tracks of shred-tasticness! This 22 year old young lady sets her seven string Ibanez Falchion aflame with her skill; skill that doesn't end on guitar strings. No, the Commander is also an accomplished songwriter and singer. Her songs on this EP focus on the injustice and egotism of society from corporations to celebrities and the "rest" of us as well. Produced by Sterling Winfield (Pantera), Evolution boasts the distinguishment of being completely raw; no tuning vocals, no altered time patterns or looping, no doctoring whatsoever. The Commander plays every guitar and sings every note.
Each song is tight and reminds that shred metal is not just a realm of metal for the guys and reinforces that it's still a force to be reckoned with in the world of music.

"Let It Go"
Choice cuts are "Evolution" and "Famous".
The Commander In Chief gets 4.5 out of 5 for Evolution. Only detractor being that it's only four songs long.

For more from The Commander In Chief check out www.thecommanderinchief.net and www.facebook.com/thecommanderinchiefmusic.

- Michael Meade

Lauriana Mae - Love Mae EP

Atlantic Records
Posted 3/9/12 4:30PM EST

Courtesy Atlantic Records

Lauriana Mae brings back the sexiness of R&B in a way that no one else could come close to except perhaps Beyonce. Lauriana's Love Mae EP is a solid fusion of R&B and Jazz, with some pop hooks thrown in for good measure; making the three song EP pumped full of soulful vocals, sex, and straight get your ass up and dance rhythm that fits equally well on the dance floor, at a burlesque show, or even in an old school speak easy. Ms. Mae's voice will pull you instantly and seduce you into staying put until she's done with you.

"Money Mae"
"Like A Drum (Beat It)"

Three-way tie for choice cut.

Lauriana Mae gets a solid 4 out of 5 for her Love Mae EP.

For more from Lauriana Mae check out www.laurianamaemusic.com and www.facebook.com/LaurianaMaeMusic .

- Michael Meade

The Chimpz - Who Can I Trust
Hip Hop/Metal/Rock
Posted 3/16/12 6:21PM EST


The Chimpz deliver a rap/metal fusion album with more to it than just metal style instrumentation backing rapped lyrics... there's also a bit of punk to the lyrics. Seriously though, The Chimpz bring a solid sound out from fusing metal, rap and hip hop, punk, and hard rock with a party edge together. Don't get the wrong idea with the above descriptives, The Chimpz are not LMAFO; they're much better. Also don't mistake the titles and subject matter for a no fun sound; the band gets you rocking out to their songs fast. But the message in some of their lyrics are very powerful and positive... but not preachy or holier than thou about it! The Chimpz ride a fine line of rocking fun sound and songs with meaning and purpose, even at their most serious you're going to enjoy their music.
It's a small term to describe the sound that The Chimpz have cultivated, but it really is solid: composition, lyrics, instrumentation, vocals, overall musicianship is well executed. Something many "fusion" acts lack in one area or another this reviewer has noticed the past few years.

"Killing Me"
"Who Can I Trust"
"Mr. 44"

Choice cuts are "Victim" and "Killing Me".

The Chimpz get a 4 out of 5 for Who Can I Trust.

The Chimpz are Artimus Prime (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Chuck P (MC), Scary Cary (lead guitar), Sonic (bass), and Sean Topham (drums). For more from The Chimpz check out www.thechimpz.com and www.facebook.com/chimpznation.

- Michael Meade

Joe Matera - Slave To The Fingers
W.A.R. Productions/Mercury Fire Music
Posted 3/18/12 5:15PM EST

Courtesy Joe Matera

Joe Matera's guitar driven blues/rock Slave To The Fingers brings a shred edge with it, but never detracts from or overpowers the blues or the rock of his songs. That said, this Australian guitarist packs a good punch with his fret work from intro to outro note listeners will be tapping their feet, bobbing their heads, and it wouldn't surprise this reviewer in the slightest if their were spontaneous bursts of air guitar playing. Joe's style of playing is powerful but not overpowering as stated above, but it does dig in deep and brings out your enjoyment of music; Joe really is a slave to the fingers and we all benefit from his labors. Soulful and with depth, Joe maintains a tight control on his playing that is the true mark of a virtuoso guitarist.

"Slave To The Fingers"
"Cruise Control"
"Out Of The Blue"
"Face Off"

Joe Matera gets a 3.5 out 5 for Slave To The Fingers.

For more from Joe check out www.joematera.com.  

- Michael Meade

Volenté – Hollow (Single)
Dockrad Records
Posted 5/3/12 3:23PM EST

Courtesy Alt PR & Volenté

Ethereal and dreamy, soulful and electronic; blend these adjectives together and you get an idea of Welsh singer/songwriter Volenté's sound on her single Hollow. Better words could not describe the three minutes and forty-five seconds of soul/pop/electronic bliss that is Hollow, sure this won't be for everybody but for this reviewer it's works just fine. If this single is indicative of the rest of Volenté's material I, for one, am looking forward to hearing more. From the lilting vocals to the unique blend of pop and electronica Volenté creates.

Vocals are haunting and the melody of Hollow is infectious. There's a sad yet soothing air to the song, perfect for a sunset worth of meditation and introspection.

For more from Volenté check out www.facebook.com/VolenteOfficialPage and www.myspace.com/volentelloyd.  

- Michael Meade

The Given Motion - Human Dictionary
One Alliance Records
Posted 5/5/12 8:02PM EST

Courtesy Alt PR and The Given Motion

The Given Motion's Human Dictionary could be the autobiography/seven song anthem to the life of almost every twenty-something in the world. Each song is full of the wanderlust, confidence, insecurity, love, and heartbreak of our 20s; with a healthy dose of self reflection and lust for life's journey. The Given Motion's sound is alternative rock with a heavy helping of indie singer/songwriter sensibility and composition reminescent of 90s alternative before the whole rock subgenre became more mild than wild.

Vocals and instruments are tight, forming a unified front that shows true talent and musicianship while still leaving room for growth and evolution of the bands sound. Again, lyrically this album is an exploration of the self, interpersonal interactions, and taking life for what it is and when to accept that notion or break from it and make a new option.

"Sing to Me"
"Don't Blink (There was a Time)"
"Human Dictionary"
"The Feeling"
"Find Me"
"Watching You Drown"
"One Jumps In"

Choice cuts are the title track, "Find Me", and "Watching You Drown".

The Given Motion gets a solid 4 out of 5 for Human Dictionary.

The Given Motion is C.J. Schiatta, Frank Mitaritonna, Ryan Colichio, and Tim Dillon. For more from The Given Motion check out www.thegivenmotion.com, www.facebook.com/thegivenmotion, and www.twitter.com/thegivenmotion.

- Michael Meade

Big Red Rose Music
Posted 5/11/12 12:31AM EST

Courtesy Big Red Rose Music

Songs from The Manor is hard alternative rock, with emphasis on the rock, gritty and reflective of the New York City music scene that spawned ATTENTION DEFICIT SOCIETY; it's not hard to tell this is rock that isn't manufactured by a writing team but by musicians living life not the "dream".

The three songs on the promo EP edition of Songs from The Manor have a bit of grunge mixed in their sound at points but it's rock above all, vocals are rough (in the good way) and further reflect the gritty vibe mentioned earlier. Instruments are tuned to perfection for this genre, and played to match that level earning respect for the musicianship of each band member. This reviewer is looking forward to listening to the full Songs from The Manor album later this year.

"Walls Between Us"
"Wouldn't Wanna Be You"
"The One You Left Behind"

ATTENTION DEFICIT SOCIETY is Charlie Sabin (vocals, guitars), Mike May (drums), and Jeff Scott (bass). For more ADS check out www.facebook.com/Attentiondeficitsociety.  

 - Michael Meade

Dreamfast - Chase The Rush (Single)
Pop Punk/Rock
Slam Bang Records
Posted 5/11/12 4:45PM EST

Dreamfasts single "Chase The Rush", from their My Wounds, My Weapons EP showcases the poppier side of the bands sound; but it's certainly not bubblegum. This is Indie pop with depth, the bands own descriptive of their sound is actually the best suited; "if Paramore and Alkaline Trio had a baby it would be Dreamfast. Even though Amyh started Dreamfast when Hayley Williams was just shoppin' for training bras." Vocals are lilting, but not in an unenjoyable saccarine way, and instruments are seasoned and tight. Composition is indie/pop and seemingly light but combined with the vocals forms a depth most singer/songwriters miss.

Dreamfast is Amyh Hart (vocals, guitar), Rankin (drums), Jrod Van Brunt (guitar, vocals), Jen Cannon (bass, vocals), and Bama (JJ Dirt) (guitar). For more from Dreamfast check out www.dreamfast.org.

- Michael Meade

Adam WarRock - Neo-Tokyo EP
Posted 5/15/12 11:45PM EST

Courtesy Adam WarRock

Hip Hop isn't a genre we review alot of here at TLR! but Adam Warrock, known for mixing pop culture with his sound (see his "616" track which is about the main/original Marvel Comics Universe) does it again with an ode to classic anime feature film Akira; his Neo-Tokyo EP which dropped May 14. While not particularly a fan of "modern" rap and hip hop, this reviewer has to say these seven songs are composed exceptionally well written with tight vocals and techno beats fitting the dystopian and high tech future depicted in the anime. And given current musical trends the sound Warrock creates could very likely make up mainstream in seven years*. Lyrics reflect characters, events, and the social themes of an overly techologic world from the film.
The best songs are the ones in which the lyrics narrate what the characters in the film feel and are drawn to do as the events of Akira unfold. Granted it has been a number of years since I personally have watched Akira, but the emotions in the character "monologue" tracks match what I remember incrediblely.

"...Is About To Explode"
"The Pattern"
"Old Friends"
"I Am..."
"Neo-Tokyo" (feat. thechrishaley)

Choice cuts are "The Pattern", "28", and "Neo-Tokyo".

Adam WarRock gets a 4 out of 5 for Neo-Tokyo.

For more from Adam WarRock check out www.adamwarrock.com.

- Michael Meade

* 2019 is the year Akira takes place in.

Destroy Nate Allen - Our Powers Combined
Posted 5/19/12 4:10PM EST

Nate and Tessa Allen are back with more Destroy Nate Allen awesomeness! This time the normally acoustic folk punk duo are backed by the band Gnarboots to amp their sound and bring it to new levels of quirky, real, and really fun acousti-folk style punk rock. Energy is through the roof on the faster songs and is retained in a barely subdued manner even on the slower, more serious songs of the album. Humor also plays a large role in the lyrics, two shining moments are displayed in "Waking Up Is Hard To Do" and "Boobie Bar". The former is performed almost like a beat poem with Tessa's vocals punctuated by blasts of instrumentation about difficulty waking up and needing coffee to function, and the latter about not looking for actual, meaningful romance in strip bars. Not escaping a bit of satire is medical insurance prices, the oft unrealistic portrayals of women and men in romantic comedies, and living in ghetto apartments. And even better, each song is done with heart in both lyrics and music.

Pacing is fast and in your face, like punk should be, with all but one of the songs finishing in under three minutes; with a good number under two.

(WARNING! Potentially offensive and definitely somewhat insensitive joke landing in 3... 2... 1...)

So all you A.D.D./A.D.H.D. kids should be a-okay getting through this album, which truly hearkens back to a better era of punk rock.

1. Waking Up Is Hard To Do
2. Emergency
3. Chick Flick
4. We Talk Occasionally On The Internet
5. Our First Apartment (Ghetto)
6. Boobie Bar
7. Long Weekend Blues
8. Distracted Nate-O-Bot
9. El Diablo Tacos Are The Best
10. Hospital
11. I Need To Know
12. We're Gonna Make It
13. Almost Out Of Texas
14. Vegetables
15. Great Idea

Choice cuts are "Waking Up Is Hard To Do", "Chick Flick", "Boobie Bar", "Hospital", and "I Need To Know".

Destroy Nate Allen gets a 4 out of 5 for Our Powers Combined.

For more from Destroy Nate Allen check out www.destroynateallen.com.

- Michael Meade

The KINECTED - Evolution #9
Pop/Club Rock/Sex Funk
Posted 5/27/12 12:20AM EST

Courtesy The KINECTED & New Ocean Media

The KINECTED sport a alternative rock and technopop hybrid sound that is catchy in a sneaky way, at least if you're not a technopop fan. With the first notes of synthesized instrumentals, this reviewer almost let preconceived notions overtake my opinion of The KINECTED... luckily those notions didn't stick. The music and lyrics are infectious once you give them a chance, so give them a chance! Lyrical content could be a little more diverse, much of Evolution #9 talks about love and lost love; even that is quickly forgivable though. The KINECTED has found that sweet spot in their composition where the electronic aspects of their music doesn't sound mechanical. Any variety of techno music, and even music with just a peppering of techno, seems to be plagued by going to far and thus sounds "too" electronic. Organic flow in electro/techno is to be commended. Not to say that the album is all technopop, as stated there alternative rock in the mix and there are plenty of the ten songs that lean much more heavily toward alt than tech.

Vocals are on the line between indie singer/songwriter and pop, but falling more the indie side of that line, which fuses with the music nicely. The better songs on this album are where there is a touch of anger in the narrative of the lyrics, it feels like more of the singer is present in the song in these instances.

1. Hypnotize
2. Headgames
3. Feels too Good
4. Heart on Fire
5. Money
6. Fly
7. Wait for You
8. Radio
9. Pressure
10. Victim of Circumstance

Choice cuts are "Hypnotize", "Feels too Good", and "Victim of Circumstance".

The KINECTED get a 3.5 out of 5 for Evolution #9.

The KINECTED are Alex Zapatier (vocals and guitar), Ron Anthony (vocals, keyboards, synthesizers), Michael Begleiter (bass), and Marck Mangel drums, triggers).
For more from The KINECTED check out www.thekinected.com.

- Michael Meade

Stars in Stereo - The Broken (Single)
Posted 5/30/12 11:45PM EST

Courtesy Stars in Stereo

Stars in Stereo is destined for a hit with their first single "The Broken", almost a power ballad (minus the usual cheesiness associated with power ballads) dedicated to everyone that has every felt like an outcast, been left in the lurch by a false or one sided love, been bullied or pushed around. From the bands own press releases as well as this reviewer's interview (see the TLR! interview section) with the quintet the song is meant to be a rallying call to show that you're not alone when made to feel anything that you are.

Instruments are played with great skill and are some of the best I've heard so far this year. Vocals are powerful yet personal, fitting the theme of the song, Bec is set to be one of the best recognized female vocalists in rock right up there with Lzzy Hale, Cristina Scabbia, and Amy Lee given that the band receives the spotlight both from fans and the press that they deserve. Stars in Stereo will be releasing their full length self titled debut later in 2012, keep an eye out for it.

Stars in Stereo is Bec Hollcraft (vocals, guitar), Jordan McGraw (lead guitar), Justin Siegel (bass), Drew Langan (drums), and Frogs McCormack (guitar). For more from Stars in Stereo check www.starsinstereo.com.  

- Michael Meade

Chris Bickley - Tapestry of Souls
Metal/Blues Rock/Rock
Shredguy Records
Posted 6/11/12 11:25PM EST

Courtesy Shredguy Records

Tapestry of Souls is just that, a tapestry made of awesome musical threads! Varying in style in places yet harmoniously joined together for the big picture of the album. And that big picture rocks! Bickley and his guests display depth of soul in these songs, even in the hardest rocking compositions this album has to offer. Substance is never lost in technical proficiency and vice versa, overall Chris's sound can be labeled a blues rock/metal hybrid; naysayers believe me it works and works well.

This being a Shredguy Records release means there is a healthy helping of face melting shred action crammed in with that soul and those blues rock elements. Shred purists don't think you won't be satisfied by Tapestry of Souls, the additional elements that Chris adds to his composing enhances the tasty shred metal goodness at the core of his sound. Even the slower, that's a relative term on this album by the way, songs lose none of the guitar powered greatness of these eleven songs.

1. Race Car Guy
2. This Time It's Gonna Hurt
3. Fallen
4. Crying Shame
5. All or Nothing
6. Chemical Love
7. Lead You Astray
8. Tapestry of Souls
9. Walk in the Park
10. A Step Behind
11. Old No. 9
Choice cuts are "Race Car Guy", "Fallen", "Lead You Astray", the title track, and "A Step Behind".

Musicians featured on Tapestry of Souls: Chris Bickley (all guitars), Eric Klaastad (bass on "Race Car Guy"), BJ Zampa (drums on "Race Car Guy"), Michael K. Smith (bass on "This Time It's Gonna Hurt", "Chemical Love", and "A Step Behind"), Bobby "T" Torello (drums on "This Time It's Gonna Hurt" and "Fallen"), Jimmy Kunes (vocals on "This Time It's Gonna Hurt"), Scott Spray (bass on "Fallen"), Vic Steffens (organ on "Fallen", Hammond organ on "Old No. 9", and drums on "Old No. 9"), Rick Gauthier (bass on "Crying Shame" and "Lead You Astray"), Paul Pedroncelli (drums on "Crying Shame" and "Lead You Astray"), Kelly Keeling (vocals on "Crying Shame"), Dino Fiorenza (bass on "All or Nothing"), Gaetano Nicolosi (drums on "All or Nothing", "Chemical Love", "Lead You Astray", "Tapestry of Souls", and "Walk in the Park"), Mark Focarlie (keys on "All or Nothing" and "Tapestry of Souls"), Vick Lecar (first guitar solo on "All or Nothing"), Tom "The Suit" Forst (sixth guitar solo on "All or Nothing"), John Bruno (seventh guitar solo on "All or Nothing"), Chandler Mogel (vocals on "Lead You Astray"), Alex Pierce (bass on "Tapestry of Souls"), Chris McCarvill (bass on "Walk in the Park"), Bill Holloman (horns on "Walk in the Park"), Michael Giammattei (drums on "A Step Behind"), Mike Vescera (vocals on "A Step Behind"), and Dominick Mauro (bass on "Old No.9"). For more from Chris Bickley check out www.chrisbickley.net

- Michael Meade

Rob Zombie - Mondo Sex Head
Geffen Records
Posted 8/4/12 6:23PM EST

Courtesy Geffen Records & Sneak Attack Media

Rob Zombie's highest charting singles, including "Thunderkiss '65", remixed to industrial electro beats... hey Metalheads, wait a minute! Come back and finish reading the review before you walk away. In all seriousness, these remixes work and work pretty damn well for Zombie's material, granted I'm not usually a fan of remixes, both in general and as a Rob Zombie fan; but I liked Mondo Sex Head. The artists responsible for the remixed versions of the 13 songs chosen from Zombie's library of material were well chosen even from among his top singles for their remix potential. The soul, if you will, of each song is held incredibly intact with each reworking, considering the extensive changes made to some, and are still undeniably Rob. This shows the skill and versatility of the DJs and artists involved just as well as their own original creations do. This is because in spite of the alterations inherent in a remix (particularly metal to electro) these 13 songs have not been bastardized or turned into parodies of their original forms. In short, these remixes show adoration and respect for the original artist rather than an attempt to remake the song as their own without any regard for the original musicians. 

By and large the songs have been remixed to club style electro, normally a blasphemy to any and all metal or rock in this reviewer's book, but here they have not been turned into the homogenized electropop that has become steady dance fair. The overall style and vibe of Mondo Sex Head hearkens back to underground clubs when DJs were creative and thought outside of what the gossip rags and reality TV said was cool. The only song I found any criticism for Big Black Delta's remix of "More Human Than Human", the instrumental side I love but the vocals felt too down tempo even with the slower instrumentals, it works nonetheless. Other than that this is the first remix album I call aces on.
"Thunderkiss '65" (JDevil Number of The Beast Remix)
"Living Dead Girl" (Photek Remix)
"Let It All Bleed Out" (Document One Remix)
"Foxy Foxy" (Ki_Theory Remix)
"More Human Than Human" (Big Black Delta Remix)
"Dragula" (+++ Remix)
"Pussy Liquor" (Ki_Theory Remix)
"Lords of Salem" (Das Kapital Remix)
"Never Gonna Stop" (Drumcorps Acid Remix)
"Superbeast" (Kraddy Remix)
"Devil's Hole Girls" (Tobias Enhus Remix featuring The Jane Antonia Cornish String Quartet)
"Burn" (The Bloody Beetroots Motherfucker Remix)
"Mars Needs Women" (Griffin Boice Remix)
Choice cuts are "Thunderkiss '65" (JDevil Number of The Beast Remix), "Living Dead Girl" (Photek Remix), "Never Gonna Stop" (Drumcorps Acid Remix), and "Mars Needs Women" (Griffin Boice Remix).
Mondo Sex Head gets a 4.5 out of 5.

For more from Rob Zombie check out www.robzombie.com, Mondo Sex Head drops August 7 2012 in all major retailers and digital download services.

- Michael Meade

VersaEmerge - Another Atmosphere Preview
Fueled by Ramen
Posted 8/19/12 4:58PM EST

Courtesy Fueled by Ramen

After their 2010 debut, Fixed at Zero, VersaEmerge is back and getting ready to release Another Atmosphere later this year, and are warming fans up with an EP style preview simply called Another Atmosphere Preview. Now a duo comprised of Sierra Kusterbeck and Blake Harnage, the alt rockers have begun exploring Experimental Rock sounds for a cross breed sound that retains alternative sensibilities in lyrical content with the digitized hard synth edged sound that many rock acts have been adopting over the past year and a half. It works for VersaEmerge though, better in fact than many others that have been experimenting with this, pardon the oxymoron, modernized throwback to 80s synth rock. The duo is aiming for an edgier presence in the music world from the sound of this album preview, in both sound and lyrical content.
While this reviewer is not a great fan of the hard synth sound that is becoming prevalent among the fresher crop of bands making bigger names in rock, as stated above it does work for VersaEmerge. The foundation of this shift can be heard in some of their older compositions so it's far from a shock to the system to long time fans, but we'll have to wait and see how much of the new album it makes up.
Kusterbeck's vocals and Harnage's instrumentation are still ranked up there in my list of favorite bands I've discovered in the past two years after seeing them perform as a larger five piece plus vocalist outfit at the 2010 Vans Warped Tour promoting Fixed at Zero. In fact, if this was the first time I was hearing them, I'd still give that spot on my favorites list despite my reservations on the rising return of synth rock.

"No Consequences"
Choice cut is "Domesticated".
VersaEmerge gets a 3.5 out of 5 for Another Atmosphere Preview, jury is still more or less out on the band's new material until the full version of Another Atmosphere drops this fall.
VersaEmerge is Sierra Kusterbeck (lead vocals) and Blake Harnage (lead guitar, vocals, and programming). For more from VersaEmerge check out www.versaemergemusic.com.

- Michael Meade

Icona Pop
Club Rock/Alternative/Pop
Posted 9/4/12 6:15PM EST

Courtesy Icona Pop

Once again my editor has put it upon me to review music that I have always been partial to but never delved into. That being said, the two starring ladies I have been introduced to musically, hail from across the seas in their hometown of Stockholm, Sweden. They are new to the American music scene, having only recently started up their websites and social pages a mere two years ago. However, I do see them becoming very popular here in the United States. They are fresh and they are feisty, the music speaking it for them. On its own it will be addictive to any and all club goers as well as fans of various club genres. The lyrics are catchy as well as simple, speaking to the inner partier in everyone. Upon first listening many may assume that Icona Pop is just another female duo to emerge only to fall away into the background. I must inform the population that they are sadly mistaken. Each song is uniquely expressed with their own personalities, bringing a new taste and feel for this particular genre.
"I Love It"
"Nights Like This"
Reviewer's Pick: "I Love It".
Icona Pop gets a 4 out of 5 from this reviewer for their Self Titled EP. I fully intend to make them a permanent part of my playlists and look forward to a full album from them.

Icona Pop is Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo. For information and links to the Nights Like This EP, visit www.iconapop.com.

- Pamela Herbert

Joe Matera - Creature Of Habit
W.A.R. Productions/Mercury Fire Music
Posted 9/9/12 11:45PM EST

Courtesy Joe Matera

Aussie guitarist Joe Matera is back with Creature Of Habit, the album dropped September 3 and it expands on Matera's talent and musicianship in a way that makes it superior to Joe's Slave To The Fingers EP, reviewed here in TLR! back in the spring, but not in any way discounting the tasty piece of guitar driven instrumental rock that is the EP. Matera delivers a more focused sound in his compositions, more mature but lacking none of his hard rocking guitar riffs and hooks. Perhaps "mature" is the wrong phrasing, the album does hold a tonality that is more cohesive and life journey based in placement of the songs. Not to make these 12 tracks sound like they're melancholic, wistful, or by any means folksy. No this album is just as much rock as the EP, and damn good rock at that!

Joe has guest performances from James Strickler (Angelic Rage) on drums and bass, Tony Dolan (Venom, MPire of Evil) also on bass, Rich Davenport, Rick Brewster (The Angels) providing a guitar solo on "No Way!", Mick McConnell (Smokie) providing a guitar solo on "Outland", and Fred Mascherino (Taking Back Sunday, The Color Fred, Terrible Things) giving a charged guitar solo on "Endless Summer". Power rockers combine and definitely give one hell of an album in Creature Of Habit!
Pacing, composition, Matera's talent coupled with his guest musicians really created something awesome for guitar aficionados and rock and roll lovers.

"Intro II"
"Endless Summer"
"No Way!"
"Brave New World"
"Fallen Angel"
"The Seeker"
"Built For Speed"
"Outland" (Alternative Mix)
"Fallen Angel" (Demo)
"Cruise Control" (Acoustic Demo)
Choice cuts are "Outland", "Endless Summer", "Fallen Angel", and "The Seeker".

Joe Matera's Creature Of Habit gets a solid 4 out of 5.

For more from Joe Matera check out

- Michael Meade

Keith Moody - Dreaming Out Loud
Southern Rock
Posted 9/12/12 3:05PM EST

Courtesy Keith Moody

Soulful rock mixed with a little blues feeling, up-and-coming artist Keith Moody's album Dreaming Out Loud is worth a listen. Born and raised in Alabama, though now a current resident of the infamous Nashville, Tennessee, his southern raising plays a definite and major role in the development of his music. Influences stemming from various artists including (but not limited to) Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Counting Crows, and The Dave Matthews Band. With some favored ones being Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Hootie and The Blowfish, and many more he creates a successful blend with personal flare anyone can relate to.

Keith started out young, having received his first guitar while still in high school and began his adventure into music with a friend. Later on, by his own mean, he created a demo at the age of twenty years old. It didn't take long before word of his talent spread like wildfire. Dreaming Out Loud is the start of something big for this new artist and this reviewer cannot wait until concerts emerge throughout the country, even though the reception may be a little rough at first.

"Long Way Up"
"Lay It Down Easy"
"Do It Over Again"
"New Distraction"
"One Big Ending"
"Next In Line"
"Red Line"
"Already Home"
"I Don't Know (Who The Bad Guys Are Anymore)"
"Plastic Hearts"

Reviewer's favorites: "Lay It Down Easy", "Do It Over Again", "UP!", and "Already Home".

Keith Moody's Dreaming Out Loud gets a 5 out of 5.

For the latest information on Keith Moody look him up at

- Pamela Herbert

Meldrum - Lifer
Hard Rock
Reversed Records
Posted 9/14/12 9:35PM EST

Courtesy Relapse Records

Finally released after a three year delay from the originally planned 2009 drop, Lifer is the last work of guitarist and founder Michelle Meldrum who unfortunately and far too early passed away on May 21 2008 from a cystic growth that restricted oxygen and bloodflow to her brain. This last work of Michelle's along with Gene Hoglan on drums, Michelle Madden on vocals, and Laura Christine on bass; is loud, brutally heavy, brutally honest, hardcore dirty, and funny. Example of the funny is the opening line to the first song "A Toast To Romance", "cunt, C-U-N-T, is a term of endearment". Plus the use of Robin Williams' catchphrase from his Mork and Mindy days, "nanu nanu", is dropped in with a laugh to cap off "Blackened Blue".

Instrumentation, vocals, composition, lyrics... everything make Lifer a keeper, and make this reviewer wish Meldrum was made a part of my personal music list much earlier. Each song is a truthful and pissed off parody of the music industry, Hollywood, society, life in general really; the trends we chase, the growing collective idiocy of humanity is ripped open and laid bare to be mocked and reviled. Gotta love constructive anger! Especially when it makes hard rock that rides the metal line so close it's indecent, and also resplendent with death grunts and growls yet never sacrificing well placed riffs and tasty hooks with overdone riffs and machinegun fire drumming that lacks any differentiation from one note to the next. All this combines to make Lifer oh so good even when it's oh so nasty.

"A Toast To Romance"
"Blackened Blue"
"Money Shot"
"'68 Blonde"
"Walking Point"

Choice cuts are "A Toast To Romance", "Money Shot", and "Mayhem".

Meldrum's Lifer gets a 4.5 out of 5.

For more on the history and music of Meldrum and the band's founder, the late Michelle Meldrum, check out www.facebook.com/MeldrumOfficial.  

- Michael Meade

Another Lost Year - Better Days
Megaforce Records/Thermal Entertainment
Posted 9/18/12 9:15PM EST

Courtesy Thermal Entertainment and New Ocean Media

Hard and powerful, yet soulful and heartfelt are the songs Another Lost Year placed on their album Better Days. To some this would be a dichotomy, but these aspects go hand in hand incredibly well in the band's compositions; on a personal note I wish I had these songs to listen to a few years ago during a tumultous and painful time in my life, the album's title track in particular.
Those of you that want nothing but rage in your music, don't let the heart of these songs turn you off, there is more than enough hard riffs and slamming drums and bass to get your rocks off. Another Lost Year delivers in spades on all fronts... hard agression, not to be redundant but heartfelt lyrics from the soul, precise instrumentation and vocals that lose not one iota of passion for their precision. Pacing for Better Days is spot on for the lyrical content and overall tone of the album, note that this doesn't make it a concept album, just extremely well put together. Even through the painful lyrics there is still a positive under lying message of personal strength and making one's life better and striving to be happy regardless of the cards we each get dealt. By no means is the album preachy though, we all know this reviewer hates that, inspire but don't preach. And Another Lost Year does that like old pros.

"Better Days"
"War On The Inside"
"All That We Are"
"What You Deserve"
"Angels" featuring Lish
"Run Away"
"Your Last Goodbye"
"Writing On The Wall"
"Come and Gone"
"Forgot About Us"
Choice cuts are the title track, "War On The Inside", "What You Deserve", "Angels", and "Forgot About Us".
Another Lost Year scores a 4.5 out of 5 for Better Days.
Another Lost Year is Dave Whitaker, Clinton Cunanan, Adam Hall, Lee Norris, Andrew Allender. For more from Another Lost Year check out www.anotherlostyear.com and www.facebook.com/AnotherLostYear.

- Michael Meade

Memory of a Melody - Things That Make You Scream
Hard Rock/Metal/Alternative
Posted 9/22/12 6:51PM EST

Courtesy Memory of a Melody and Yvonne's World

Memory of a Melody's Things That Make You Scream remind us why the best new metal is unsigned and doing things on the band's own terms. MOAM presents songs with depth and emotion behind the thrash style riffs and drums, taking an alternative rock style approach to lyrics and melodies on some songs. The blending of styles, while keeping every song on that line between hard rock and metal in terms of power, works really well; slightly reminscent of Breaking Benjamin at times but never infusing that almost goth sensibility that much of Breaking Benjamin's material sports. Pacing, even on the slower songs, is even and falls more on the hard rock side of the blended styles, while vocals and instrumentation maintain their power throughout the album.

Lyrically MOAM delivers themes of overcoming pain and loss, love, personal power, facing responsibility; both personal and those that have wronged "you" (the "you" of the narration's perspective). While these themes are nothing new to any genre of music, Memory of a Melody presents them in a real way, from a personal point of view rather the obvious stage of a song writer's guidebook the pop oriented metal acts out there.

"Till Death Do Us Part"

"Things That Make You Scream"
"Break Away"
"Skin Deep"
"My Darkest Hour"
"The Core"
"Truth In Lies"

Choice cuts are "Mask", the title track, "Break Away", and "Skin Deep".

Memory of a Melody gets a solid 4 out of 5 for Things That Make You Scream.

Memory of a Melody is Mario Galdos (vocals), Wade Sigue (guitar), Roel Castillo (guitar), Joel Martinez (bass), and Robin Lopez (drums). For more from MOAM check out www.thingsthatmakeyouscream.com and www.facebook.com/memoryofamelody.

- Michael Meade

XFactor1 - Famous. Last. Words.
Megaforce Records
Posted 9/26/12 7:27PM EST

Courtesy Megaforce Records & New Ocean Media

XFactor1 brings to the table a metal/rock one-two punch of hard rock vocals and metal instrumentation with lyrics rich in emotions... mostly pissed off determination with some hard rock ballads in there for good measure. The ballads are good, yes that's right, the ballads are GOOD. No emo or popster (pop-hipster) tragic star-crossed, Twilight inspired crap here, thank the Rock Gods and the muses they sent to the guys in XFactor1!
Vocals and instruments are tight and form a decent team that sounds much more seasoned than the seven years the band has been together. In QBall's vocals there are hints of alt rock and maybe some grunge influence at times, but they do not overpower the pure metallic hard rock edge ever present in his voice. As stated above the instrumentation shows soild musicianship skill that this reviewer wants to hear more of. And besides the great original songs, the album also sports a pretty badass cover of Billy Squier's "The Stroke", that I have to admit I like better than the original cut by Squier... sorry Billy.

"Bring It On"
"It's My Life"
"Over & Out"
"The Stroke"
"You Suck"
"Shadow of Desperation"
"Hope For Tomorrow"
"Break You"
"Live Another Day"
"Miss Me Now"

Choice cuts are "Over & Out", "You Suck", "Tragedy", and "Live Another Day".

XFactor1 gets a solid 4 out of 5 for Famous. Last. Words.

XFactor1 is QBall Wolf (vocals), Cody Joseph (bass), C-Lok Watkins (guitar), Jesse Randolph (guitar), and Chris Crum (drums). For more from XFactor1 check out www.xf1official.com and www.facebook.com/xfactor1official.

- Michael Meade

Artisan Kin - All The Creatures Are Stirring
Posted 10/3/12 2:15AM EST

Courtesy Artisan Kin

Debut album All The Creatures Are Stirring by Australian duo Artisan Kin was a vaguely nostaglic experience for this reviewer. The sound is original, fresh and well produced and unashamedly harks back to the melodic power pop and anthemic rock era of the late 1970's. I felt I could have picked this moment up at the same time as an album from Boston or Journey and... God love 'em, I even had a KISS moment listening to strutting rock track "Seven Signs" (Scratching yer heads? Ask your parents... yep, I'm revealing my 'greater than average TLR reviewer age' here...). If you love a power ballad, BIG lead vocal and some pretty slick guitar melodies combined with an interesting mix of track themes then you'll love this album.

Brisbane based, Artisan Kin are Troi Stoi (Troy Stoilkovski - electric, acoustic and bass guitars, BGV) and JD (Justin Mark Dunford - vocals, BGV). There's no denying the strength of JD's power vocals, but the album has a rich musical foundation with some finely laid and substantive guitar sounds and production by Troy Stoi; who also engineered and mixed the album. The liner notes add that "... all production took place in an apartment room with a makeshift studio and vocal booth we christened the 'Gypsy Caravan Booth'..." It also succinctly noted that no Autotune was used, which leaves moments of refreshing rawness.

The punchy "Out of Body Experience" and "Down and Dirty" open the album. "Lights of the City" is the 'rise up and live' anthem... "Stand up and be counted come on. This... is... your... life!" Title track, "All The Creatures Are Stirring" carries a great progression between acoustic and substantive electric sound. This is classic, riff driven, guaranteed good time stuff, full bodied and accessible.

The first half of the album stamps the band's footprint but for me the second half of the album is the most interesting. Tracks like "Tell Your Mama, Tell Your Papa" and "Out of Time" move into slightly different territory, giving the overall album a varied texture. Unlike many debut albums which may lose confidence and momentum after the first half dozen or so tracks, this 18 track album of all original songs remains interesting by walking around and examining multi facets of its strong rock core. Yet, tracks like "Words Have Lost Their Meaning" also have a slight indie feel and the surprise track in terms of style is the final, vocal driven track, "Never Coming Back This Way".

There is something comforting and familiar about All The Creatures Are Stirring. Play it loud is a must for this album and who knows ever yer Mom may love it (gasp!).

All The Creatures Are Stirring is available through iTunes and AmazonMP3 or through the Artisan Kin website at www.artisankin.com/index.html.

- Sue Miller

The Space Sharks
Indie/Psychedelic/Jam Rock
Posted 10/7/12 9:45PM EST

Courtesy The Space Sharks

The Space Sharks bring smooth, jam rock with indie flair and psychedelia woven into the fabric of their music. Throw in some acoustic and techno blends (yes, if that is done well, as it is here, it turns out pretty damn cool) and you've got yourself a decent album in this reviewer's book. Top all of the above off with well oiled instrumental precision and finely tuned, versatile vocals that switch between jam rock songs and the slower introspective, emotional songs and that's just cake. Lyrically, the whole album well written and enjoyable regardless of any given song's subject matter.

Pacing of the album, even with the mash up of styles in playing and lyrical content, is perfectly matched to all contained within. By no means a concept album, the self titled offering from the Maryland quartet flows as though it could be; songs flowing into each other (in a good way) without being connected is a feat to be envied in music right now.

"Run For Cover"
"Falling Down"
"Some Fantastic"
"Sunshine Girl"
"Spinning 'Round"
Choice cuts are "Some Fantastic", "Sunshine Girl", and "Apocalypse".
The Space Sharks get a 3.5 out of 5 for their self titled album.
The Space Sharks are Lonnie Richard (guitars, lead vocals, keyboards, flute), Mike Martino (drums, percussion, backing vocals on "Apocalypse"), Bob Bergeron (bass), and Brian Harrigan (backing vocals). For more from The Space Sharks check out www.myspace.com/thespacesharks.

- Michael Meade

Turning Down Harvard
Posted 10/10/12 11:57PM EST

Coutesy Turning Down Harvard

This may be Turning Down Harvard's first in studio, professionally recorded demo/EP, but the band makes it sound like they've been doing this for decades... that's meant as a compliment by the way. The Saylorsburg PA based five piece alternative band plays with a maturity and unified musicianship that decries their young ages and time since the band formed. Instruments and vocals play together in pitch perfection and sound like alternative when it actually was alternative and not as homgenized and mass marketable as bubblegum pop. Blended seamlessly into the alternative sensibilities to the lyrics and instruments is a reggae undertone that sits very well with this reviewer.
Said reggae flavor comes out front and center more than in the other songs on this EP in "Life", and it is a welcome change up. It also further shows the band's abilitiy to mix things up on the listener just when you think you've got them nailed to rights in what to expect from Turning Down Harvard they slap you with a new level of their music. Definitely a band to keep your eyes and ears on as they continue to grow their fan base with shows in the Tri-State area focusing efforts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for the present. This reviewer predicts bigger and better things coming for Turning Down Harvard if they keep the pace they set for themselves in 2012 thus far. These guys have what it takes to make it to the top.
"The Song We're Not Calling Mardi"
Choice cuts are "Life" and "DNA".
Turning Down Harvard gets a 4.5 out of 5 for their self titled demo/EP.
Turning Down Harvard is Jesse (vocals), Billy (guitar), Ryan (bass), CJ (keyboard), and Sean (drums). For more from Turning Down Harvard check out www.reverbnation.com/turningdownharvard.

- Michael Meade

Howl Griff - Fragile Diamond
Posted 10/12/12 6:35PM EST

Courtesy Dockrad & Alt PR

Fragile Diamond is the third full length album being released by Howl Griff, after receiving much acclaim for their previous records all throughout the United Kingdom. Although they are passionate about the music they create, the lyrics, vocals, and instrumentals are not well knitted together. I do not see them growing very popular here in the United States, if at all.

"You Don't Have to Leave your Own"
"Fragile Diamond"
"Sharkfins in the Sky"
"Revolution Radio"
"Meet My Maker"
"Puppet Operation Time"
"She Walks on by the Flame"
"Rose of Emily"
"International Dateline"
This reviewer has no choice tracks.
They earn a 1 out of 5 for Fragile Diamond.

Howl Griff are Hywel Griffiths, Gary Parkinson, Nick Moore, and Steve Kennedy. For more information, check out their sight: http://HowlGriff.com.

- Pamela Herbert

Howl Griff's Fragile Diamond is definitely an aquired taste, and certainly will not be everybody; the guys are just too Welsh for some people (crack that joke to someone from Wales and they're get it and laugh before the hate mail starts pouring in at me). Lyrics, the vocals that share them, and the instruments can at times seem out of place with each other, but this plays to the etherial air the band seems to be cultivating on this album. Lyrics are also very saccarine sweet, not like bubblegum pop, but still very romantized and cuddly, particularly their songs about love. This reviewer digs quirky music full of experimental riffs and melodies, but the lyrics are too sweet and lovesick for me. If you want to be experimental then go balls to the wall with it, which we get close to at a few points in the album but never enough, don't try to blend it with safe sappiness in the lyrical content.

Choice cuts are "Sharkfins in The Sky" and "International Dateline".

Howl Griff gets a 2.5 out of 5 for Fragile Diamond from your's truly, so altogether from myself and Pam they get a 3.5. There was potential for some really great folk/experimental hybridism here but it just didn't get there.

- Michael Meade

Time and Energy - Strange Kind of Focus
Indie/Alternative/Loop Rock
Posted 10/25/12 2:18PM EST

Courtesy Time and Energy

Blending loop-based rock with indie/alternative sensibilities and lyrical style isn't exactly new, and isn't for everybody; BUT Time and Energy displays some of the best this reviewer has heard in loop-based music. Honestly I had to double check when I read the band's sound is loop centered, normally I can detect loops (whether it's divulged or hidden that loops were used), but not here. Take a listen and try to not feel like you're listening to a full four or five piece indie rock outfit instead of the duo that comprises Time and Energy.
The band's sound is never a digitized, electronic sound even with utilizing loops; sound is always a mix of acoustic and acoustic/electric. The album also sports a cool low-fi fuzz to a good number of the tracks, this gives an old school basement/small venue live recording quality to the Strange Kind of Focus that is nostalgic of a time before Autotune existed.

Again, not for everyone but deserving of a listen even if you don't care much for either loop-based compositions or indie rock. The indie vibe overpowers everything else but not in that "trying too hard to indie" early John Mayer kind of feeling.

"Hot Air"
"Thought Forms"
"Tree Salad"
"Split Clean"
"Sitting on a Scale"
"Think It Through"
"Acid Jam"

Choice cuts are "Hot Air", "Tree Salad", and "Acid Jam".

Time and Energy get a 3.5 out of 5 for Strange Kind of Focus.

Time and Energy is Jorge Rios (instruments, vocals) and Brennan Roach (instruments), loop pedals used were the Boss RC 50, RC 20, RC 2, and Line 6 Modular. Check the band out at www.facebook.com/timeandenergy and www.soundcloud.com/timeandenergy. Strange Kind of Focus will be released soon, keep an eye on the band social media.

- Michael Meade

Arrow Haze - Music Factory
Posted 10/26/12 9:49PM EST

Courtesy Arrow Haze & MT Press

Arrow Haze fills their upcoming album, Music Factory, with so much power and at times emotion that it may just be the most purposeful non-concept album this reviewer has heard all year. Instrumentation is tight and vocals alternate between being in the foreground to backing the music like the best wingman one could hope for, all the while exploring "typical" rock instrumentality and taking it to the borders of the genre while infusing elements of metal and some darker minor chord areas that flirt with both goth and industrial; but never take those flavors past second base.

Pacing is solid and feels like a perfectly tied together concept album while, like I said above, not being one. Moods are varied through the tone of songs and lyrical content but are a damn good soundtrack for life no matter where one's mood, mind, or spirit are. Music Factory is dropping November 28 2012, defintely a good holiday for the rock lovers in your life... holiday capitalist speech out of the way go pick up or download this music as soon as it drops, pre-order, whatever... you won't be sorry.
"Perfectly Ordinary"
"Confirm The Message"
"Along The Way"
"Elly Kedward"
"Music Factory"
"Stranger Tides"
Choice cuts are "Casino", "Memories", "Along The Way", "Stranger Tides", and "Crisis".

Arrow Haze gets a 4.5 out of 5 for Music Factory.

Arrow Haze is Theo Green (vocals, drums), MattRach (guitar), Karoly Alpi (guitar), and Stef Exelmans (bass). For more from Arrow Haze check out www.arrowhaze.com.

- Michael Meade

Atom Smash - Beautiful Alien
Posted 11/5/12 6:15PM EST

Courtesy Atom Smash & Team All About Music

Atom Smash is smashing (sorry, had to) on their album Beautiful Alien. The layers of hard rock, alternative, elements of prog rock and even goth/industrial hybrid pieces combine to deliver an album with something for everyone that favors the harder side of rock music. Don't let the number of musical flavors fool you, this album is anything but slapped together, every note feels deliberate; every song striking a different chord within the listener. This is the new rock that should be on the radio, that should be climbing the charts and have legion followers on Twitter. With some luck it will be soon as the old rules of the music industry in the US keep changing and destructive towards the old norms and fads; the formula for rockstardom is evolving (when you can get past the label conglomerates that cling to the old sell out/lowest common denominator approach to marketing the fan bases) and Atom Smash personifies the new way.

Vocals and instruments are tight, but with a feeling of being able to evolve and grow further, definitely great but there are still plateaus for the band to reach. And that is a very good thing in this reviewer's opinion. My fellow 90s kids out there, even if they won't admit they liked the original since it was on the soundtrack to Batman Forever (the first crappy Batman movie from the original franchise), will be blown away too by the band's cover of "Kiss From a Rose" originally by Seal; epic doesn't cash the check on what Atom Smash did with this great ballad making it even greater and bringing into the rock realm much better than 12 Stones with their cover of the same song a while back.

"Beautiful Alien"
"Square 1"
"Good Times, Dark Ages"
"The World Is Ours"
"Kiss From A Rose"
"Don't You Forget It"
"Cocaine Angel"
"Hole In My Head"
"2012 Baby"
"Kids Got Moves"

Choice cuts are the title track, "The World Is Ours", "Kiss From A Rose", and "Don't You Forget It".

Atom Smash gets a solid 4 out of 5 for Beautiful Alien.

Atom Smash is Serg io Sanchez (vocals), Mark "Taco" Annino (drums), Luke "Cowboy" Rice (guitar), and "Crazy"David Carrey (bass). For more on Atom Smash check out www.atomsmashmusic.com.

- Michael Meade

Sunset Riot - Uprising EP
Posted 11/10/12 4:58PM EST

Courtesy Sunset Riot

The latest EP Uprising from Sydney based Sunset Riot is a red hot and delicious serving of six solid rock tracks which follows on from their 2010 self titled EP. If your preferred fare is music which riffs off a busting out anthemic sound, the likes of Aerosmith, Guns 'n Roses, Bon Jovi and (for me) Aussie band Noiseworks, you're gonna love these guys. Make no mistake about it though, these Aussie guys have a fresh and individual sound and while clearly envisioned with the feel of big rock, this is not a derivitive or tribute sound. This is something new.

The half dozen tracks deliver high energy with slick guitar riffs from lead JP and which work and weave around the strong textured vocals of singer Del Rio. From opening hard driving 'Red Ferrari', requisite working boy anthem, 'Something's Gotta Give' ("Something's gotta give, something's gotta give, Before I die, I just wanna live...") the slightly darker and richly mature track, 'Save Me' and the stripped back power 'ballad' 'Stir Crazy', this is a tight delivery of positive and melodic rock produced in collaboration with Mark Opitz (INXS, AC/DC). The final track 'Mama Said' is a cheeky reminder that at the end of the day rock should be imbued with a sense of fun.

There is a whisper behind this EP, compelling you to see these guys live. Having done so, I can say this EP is both a precursor and a sweet after party reminder of what a kick ass live experience these guys deliver. Their recording, however, also provides another facet and dimension to this band. This is sound which straddles a commercial viability and the restless need to resist homogeneity and continue to progress creatively. Uprising delivers a soothingly familiar rock sound but with strong layering and subtleties which keeps it interesting.

While an EP is often a safe toe in the water, this one runs the full gamut of an album's worth of sounds. This is a nicely balanced serving which will leave you smackin' your lips with satisfaction but with a slight hunger in your belly for more. Let's hope a full album is not too far off from these guys.


1. "Red Ferrari"
2. "Something's Gotta Give" 
3. "Red Leather"
4. "Save Me"
5. "Stir Crazy"
6. "Mama Said"

Uprising is available on iTunes and via the bands website www.sunsetriot.com.

EP Sunset Rising and demo Take a Bite also available through iTunes and the website.

- Sue Miller

Gwyn Ashton - Radiogram
Rock/Blues Rock
Fab Tone Records
Posted 11/13/12 1:05AM EST

Courtesy Fab Tone Records

Yes, this is a rock album but play any track randomly from Radiogram and you won't really be able to pin this album down. A warning: Don't cherry pick tracks from iTunes, buy the whole album. You need to strap in and take the whole ride as Gwyn Ashton showcases his propensity to not just dabble but bathe in the multitude of slipstreams his guitar work creates. From the feel good rock of opening track 'Little Girl', nicely woven through with swampy blues harp from Kim Wilson (Fabulous Thunderbirds), to 'Comin' Home' which leaves you teasingly, teetering on the brink of punk, this album is Ashton cooking up a mighty rich mix of rock, blues, country rock and just the slightes taste of indie ('Don't Wanna Fall'). Nothing is under done, each track finely produced and delivered with a unique feel. Lyrically there's a whole lot of yearning going on but still always with a sense of Ashton musically having a damn good time.

From the slinky, seductive and delicious blues funk of 'Dog Eat Dog' to the country rock feel of 'Fortunate Kind', the rock ballad 'Angel' to the surprising and anthemic 'For Your Love' (backed by the power vocals of Mo Birch), each track leaves you contemplating what the next will be. Ashton delivers ten stand alone and unique songs. For me the stand out track is Ashton's working of the classic Willie Dixon number 'I Just Wanna Make Love'. Ashton has moulded and sculpted around the original to produce a taut rendering but which showcases his capacity to take any song and twist it around his little finger.

Ashton had a damn fine guest list on the album. In addition to Kim Wilson and Mo Birch (Culture Club, UB40, Go West), Don Airey (Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake, Black Sabbath) provides keyboard on 'For Your Love', Johnny Mastro (Mamas Boys) plays harp on the bluesy 'Let Me In'. Robbie Blunt guitarist for Robert Plant joins in on 'Fortunate Kind' and keyboard player Mark Stanway (Magnum) add to the multi-textured feel of this album.

The final track 'Bluz for Roy' is a reminder of the heart and soul of Ashton's feel... blues rock. Yet Ashton still can't resist taking you to unexpected places before placing you down, blinkingly unbuckling from a mighty fine journey. This is the kind of ride you get off and instantly want to get back on. Enjoy!

1. Little Girl
2. Don't Wanna Fall
3. Let Me In
4. Fortunate Kind
5. I Just Wanna Make Love
6. Dog Eat Dog
7. Angel
8. For Your Love
9. Comin' Home
10. Bluz for Roy

Gwyn Ashton's Radiogram, current single 'Little Girl', and back catalogue of albums are available through iTunes and Amazon. Check out the single 'Little Girl' on YouTube.

Check out more at www.gwynashton.com.

- Sue Miller

Hell or Highwater - Begin Again
Alternative/Metal/Hard Rock
Pavement Music
Posted 12/7/12 8:38PM EST

Courtesy Pavement Music

Brandon Saller's (Atreyu) other band, Hell or Highwater, provides some soul filled hard alt rock on Begin Again, which was released late in 2011. They're breaking the mold with this album, but they are giving it greater definition with tight instrumentation, well crafted composition of both music and lyrics, and a nicely paced overall staging of the album. The only negative to the album is that it is very pathos driven at times, particularly with relationship endings and betrayals. Not that there is anything wrong with that, as a writer it's the only way to get it out sometimes; and conversely listening to songs about that kind of pain and emotional upheaval is the only way to not feel alone while working through it. But as stated, it pervades the album pretty heavily, though the songs that focus on other aspects of life lyrically are part of Begin Again as well. And those songs do rock harder and provide a hopeful, but non-preachy vibe, that makes the listener get revved up for new things and what's coming on the next plateau of life.

Saller has a winner with Hell or Highwater, in fact much as this reviewer likes Atreyu, Hell or Highwater is a better band in that they have a wider diversification in their sound. Yes, primarily they are close to Atreyu's hard alternative/metal/goth sound at times, you can clearly hear other genres and influences bleeding into the mix; which is much appreciated when even the alternative and it subgenres of alt rock are beginning to sound homogenized and overproduced.

"Gimme Love"
"Hail Mary"
"Terrorized in the Night"
"Find the Time to Breathe"
"Rocky Waters Edge"
"Go Alone" (Feat. M Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold)
"When the Morning Comes"
"Crash & Burn"
"Come Alive"
"We All Wanna Go Home"

Choice cuts are "Gimme Love", "Terrorized in the Night", "Find the Time to Breathe", and "Crash & Burn".

Hell or Highwater gets a 3.5 out 5 for Begin Again. Solid album, but it's not trailblazing new grounds.

Hell or Highwater is Brandon Saller (vocals), Matt Pauling (guitar), Neal Tiemann (guitar), Joey Bradford (bass), Captain Carl (drums). For more from Hell or Highwater check out

- Michael Meade

A Band of Orcs - Adding Heads to The Pile
Grimpire/Heavy Metal World/Itchy Metal Entertainment
Posted 12/21/12 5:29PM EST

Courtesy Team All About The Music

Brutal, hardcore, devastasting, and covered in blood. Orc metal done right by this reviewer's buddy Gogog Bloodthroat and his fellow bandorcs... alright buddy might be pushing it but when I interviewed him earlier in the year he decided to not to put my head on a pike after the Domination over humankind comes. All that aside, A Band of Orcs crank out some awesome metal that jumps back and forth over the line between metal and death metal or orc metal in this particular case. Makes you want to play a Horde campaign in WoW or go old (better) school with some D&D as a party of orcs pillaging and plundering elven settlements. This reviewer's geek roots are showing, pardon that. Beyond that though, the musicianship is sharp and goes for the throat just like the arrow that gave vocalist Gogog his distinct growl, even among orcs, and beats the hell of your senses the way real hardcore metal should.

Pacing is as solid as the instrumentals and vocals, showing real quality and cohesion in the band's composition and performance. With the right amount of exposure, which Adding Heads to The Pile is gaining the five-piece band they could easily find acclaim and recognition in the metal world equal to GWAR if they keep it as brutal as the songs on this album.

"Prepare for the Domination"
"When the Hills Run Red"
"In the Keeper's Chamber"
"Of Broken Chains & Shattered Skulls"
"Wyrd of the Winter Wolf"
"The Darkness That Comes Before"
"Hall of the Frozen Dead"
"Lair of the Ice Wyrm"
"At the Mouth Fire"
"Fall of the Fire Lord"
"Adding Heads to the Pile"
"A Deeper Evil" (Instrumental)

Choice cuts are "Wyrd of the Winter Wolf", "Lair of the Ice Wyrm", "Stormbringer", and the title track.
A Band of Orcs gets a solid 4 out of 5 for Adding Heads to the Pile.

A Band of Orcs is Gogog Bloodthroat (vocals, growls), Cretos Filthgrinder (lead guitars), Hulg ElfR.I.P.er (crunchy guitars), Gronk! (Shamanic bass), and Oog Skullbasher (war drums). For more from A Band of Orcs check out www.abandoforcs.com.

- Michael Meade

Despite Exile - Scarlet Reverie
Posted 12/23/12 6:46PM EST

Courtesy Team All About The Music

Hailing from Undine, Italy, Despite Exile kicks some metal ass with their Scarlet Reverie, however they're not breaking new ground, this is by the numbers metal. Not that there is anything wrong with that, because there isn't. But as stated, it's the epitomy of modern metal... hard, well paced in it's transitions between speed and power, growls and grunts are powerful and continuous, drumming is formulaic and focused on machine gun speed with machine gun power, guitars drive hard and the bass is drop tuned to low fury. All the hallmarks of metal at it's best, but also the mainstream side of metal. Each of the six songs on Scarlet Reverie is primed for metal radio across the globe, again nothing wrong with that, but it's not new territory.

Despite Exile does, however, perfect what they do and give powerful definition to their genre of heavy metal. Instrumentation is precise, vocals are powerful and never lose any of their force throughout each and every track. Some of the American metal acts could definitely take notes from Despite Exile. The Italian five-piece provides a perfect soundtrack for any mosh pit, and, in spite of what I've already about being metal radio friendly, gives some depth in their compositions. Melodies and hooks particularly grab the listener's attention in the title track and "Aftermath".

"Scarlet Reverie"
"Stand Alone"
"Pure Crimson"
Choice cuts are the title track and "Aftermath".
Despite Exile gets a 3 out of 5 for Scarlet Reverie.

Despite Exile is Jacopo Durisotti (vocals), Giacomo Santini (guitar), Carloandrea Ferraro (guitar), Giovanni Minozzi (bass), and Aleksandar Veselinovic (drums). For more from Despite Exile check out www.despiteexile.com.

- Michael Meade

Lynchmada - To The Earth
Truth Inc Records
Posted 12/26/12 12:09PM EST

Courtesy Team All About The Music & Truth Inc Records

Lynchmada strikes hard with their aggressive brand of metal, but they retain melody and hooks that draw you in deeper than the crashing drums, screaming guitars, and death growls. The songs also have the ability to inspire more emotion than just wanting to slam around a mosh pit; "Twenty Seven Years", "City of Lungs", and "Relic" in particular. Lynchmada displays extremely confident and controled musical ability in each composition, each note flowing to the next with tight instruments that know how to work together. As opposed to playing side by side like so many bands right now, they play together. Vocals never lose strength or power from beginning to end, growls and grunts are visceral in every song, and are emotive and clear when softer vocals are used.

Pacing of the album is pretty standard for metal, but standard in a good way as it avoids the monotony of fast-slow-fast-fast-slow-fast-slow-slow-etc. a lot of the big name label metal bands have been engineering their albums to follow for a few years now.

"What Fresh Hell Is This"
"Throat of Stone (Ghost Steps)"
"Broken Bones"
"Earth I Walk"
"Burial Ground"
"Twenty Seven Years"
"Whitewater Born"
"City of Lungs"

Choice cuts are "Earth I Walk", "Blackout", "Twenty Seven Years" and "Relic".

Australia-based Lynchmada gets a 3.5 out of 5 for To The Earth.

Lynchmada is Joel Harris (vocals), Simon Connors (guitar), Cameron Wallace (guitar), Daryl Russell (bass), and Daniel Trickett (drums). For more from Lynchmada, check out www.facebook.com/Lynchmada.

- Michael Meade