Jersey Beat Music Fanzine
 

 

 

 

reviews:damien ellinghaus


FROM BELOW – No Gods No Monsters (facebook.com/musicfrombelow)

We like to talk about metal and punk and various other “extreme genres” here in my corner of The Beat ™, but today we’re gonna talk about something much more bare bones, NYC’s own From Below. Consisting of guitarists Tom Hoy and Cero Cartera, who is also the lead singer, Chika Obiora on bass, and Ian Costello on drums, From Below knows how to write some Groovy Jams ™ and manage to keep you engaged in the album, their first post-demo release. Their website says they “stand to storm the New York music scene with their visceral, churning, and extremely catchy sound”, and I’m inclined to agree with them on most of those fronts. The music is very reminiscent of the indie blues rock that got The White Stripes and The Black Keys to where they are, throwing in the punkish alternative of Arctic Monkeys and the off kilter energy of Queens Of The Stone Age, and indeed there are tracks like “Blood Money” and “Psychoacoustics” that wouldn’t be out of place off of a Josh Homme or Alex Turner production. The production, speaking of which, is fuzzy and almost distant sounding, which works well for the bands softer tracks but doesn’t necessarily lend itself well to the more “visceral tracks”, as the band would put it. It just seems to lack the punch these songs very likely have live, though the lo-fi sound does work well for what the band is going for. The guitars are crunchy and sharp sounding, the bass deep and vibrant, the drums crisp, and the vocals on point. Adjective Adjective Adjective. Cero deals with varying topics on the album, lust, discontent, and being dangerous, all the hallmarks of a good rock album., and I would say is the standout along with the rhythm section of the album. My issues with the album don’t lie in the songs or the musicians themselves, as the band is indeed very catchy and the music well played, but rather that many of the songs seem to blend into each other after a while and become indistinguishable. The band has shown it can write interesting and well crafted songs, as “Psychoacoustics” or “The Violence in Silence”, and I would like to hear more of those on future releases. That said, the club rock sound fits them well, and listening to the album made me feel like I was being suffocated in a club somewhere in downtown Manhattan, drinking cheap shitty beer and enjoying the company of good friends and good jams. And at the end of the day, I don’t think there is anything in the world a band could do to make me like them more than that. The band says they like to make music they would like to listen to, and it shows in how lovingly these songs appear to have been made. I have high hopes for these guys and hope they can tap into the deep well of potential I see in them. Keep it dirty boys, the clubs are waiting.

DRIVEN MAD – “Committed” EP (facebook.com/drivenmadmental)

NYC’s Driven Mad is unique in many ways, and yet in a way you feel like you’ve known about them for a while. That’s because the NYC 4 piece, featuring former members of NYC staple King Hell, wear their influences on their studded vests while not forgetting that part of being an artist is evolution. “Committed” is the band’s second EP, following last years “Disorder”, and while the Sabbath, Exodus, Meshuggah and Priest are still very much present in the bands small but formidable set, there is also something intrinsically new and different about them; A different feeling and energy than a lot of the newer (and older) NYC metal bands. We will get to the excellent musicianship in just a second, but first we must talk about front man Sam Walters, who is responsible for much of Driven Mad’s uniqueness, both live and in the studio. His vocal delivery is instantly reminiscent of Halford and Dickinson, hitting screeching highs with flawless vibrato, but also weaving in death growls that wouldn’t be out of place on an early Cannibal Corpse or Six Feet Under album, as well as David Lee Roth’s high pitched wail ala “Running with The Devil”. The resultant mix is this very nice blend of power and technique, something you can tell Walters spent a lot of time crafting in his bedroom to Powerslave and Screaming for Vengeance, and something you don’t hear a lot among all the –core’s in today’s metal. As for the songwriting itself, guitarist and lead riff writer Dmitri Kalmar is superb in his craft, seamlessly going from Meshuggah’s patented start stop, off time riffing on tracks like “Crosses of Bones” and “Gripping the Third Rail” to the grinding, Iommi inspired sludge of “I Am the Mountain”, never forgetting to throw in the melody without sacrificing the heavy. Bassist Jon Feirman is present and paramount to the bands sound, as the bass never misses a beat, following the tougher riffs with ease and never forgetting to add something of his own when the song calls for it, while drummer Angel Cotte reminds me a lot of Paul Bostaph in the way his rolls and bass drum work flow so well with the guitars and singing, no matter the effort level required. You don’t see quality rhythm sections in Metal quite like this, where everyone is an integral part of the bands sound and contributes in their own special way, and the high level of musicianship combined with the quality production job helps to show just why this band is starting to blow the **** up. Overall, this is a huge step up from the previous EP, and with the underground circuit firmly in the bands grasp and the exposure levels only rising, I would expect another cosmic leap in future offerings from the power quartet. Don’t sleep on these dudes for long, kiddies, because I don’t see this band being an underground favorite for much longer.

BRING ME THE HORIZON - Sempiturnal (Epitaph)

Bring Me The Horizon, the pride and joy (and occasionally shame) of Yorkshire, have been toying around the metal scene for sometime now, with lead singer Oliver Sykes often being a catalyst for scorn from your more traditional metal heads due to his colorful tattoos, long hair, and propensity for being extremely outspoken and peeing on people. Yeah, we still remember, bud.

Urinary problems aside however, one thing that BMTH has been doing since they released their debut album “Count Your Blessings” is evolving, starting out as your prototypical deathcore band, though personally I thought their debut album was much more forward and less ham fisted than your average deathcore album. Realizing that they had somewhat pigeonholed themselves into a specific niche and scene, they decided to branch out and explore their more accessible songwriting sensibilities while making sure to not lose the aggression and punch that made them so likable in the first place.

Their sophomore effort “Suicide Season” saw them do almost a full 360 in sound, favoring a more cluttered and claustrophobic production value and adding in the use of electronics and more simplistic structure, as well as Sykes changing up his vocal style from the early works growls and vomit sounds to something more akin to hardcore yelping. Their third album, the impossibly long titled “There Is a Hell, Believe Me I’ve seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let’s Keep It a Secret” furthered the change, with more electronics and quiet, ambient passages being added while the breakdown count dropped, and even featured some clean(ish) vocals.

“Sempiternal” finds BMTH continuing their evolution, and suddenly I see them fitting in more comfortably with Deftones than Whitechapel, and indeed songs like the first song “Can You Feel My Heart” and “Sleepwalker” show Sykes conjuring up his best Chino impersonation, and honestly not doing that bad a job. That’s not to say that they’ve turned it down, as songs like “The House Of Wolves” and “Shadow Moses” show that the quintet haven’t forgotten their roots, and every song has the anthemic passages that the band has started to become known for. Sykes lyrics have typically been very personal, dealing with his battles with anxiety and depression, and this album is no exception, although there is a hint of positivity that shows his maturity as a person. The instrumentals have always been a bright side with this band, and everything is tight sounding, and the production does not sound overdone as so many albums these days seem to fall prey to.

Honestly, it’s not very often that you see a band completely change up the sound that made them popular in the first place and make it work with critics and fans alike (I’m looking at you, AFI), but it’s refreshing when it does work, and BMTH has done a very good job of carving out a sound that at times sounds very original and well done, and Sykes has progressed terrifically as a lyricist and a singer. It may not be the best thing you’ll ever hear, but it stands out above many of their peers and just may make it to some end of year best of lists. Cheers, boys.

THE BRONX – The Bronx (IV) (ATO/Red Records)

Inappropriately-named Los Angeles band The Bronx have been around since 2002 with their brand of blue collar punk rock, sounding very much like a cross between Foo Fighters and Social Distortion, songwriting abilities included. "IV", as I will refer to this release for the remainder of the review because every Bronx album is self titled, is no exception to the rule, blistering through 12 hard-hitting songs in 36 minutes with all the fervor and energy of their previous three albums. The songs run through the full gamut of the band’s previous sounds, with songs like "The Unholy Hand" and "Style Over Everything" being more representative of their rock n' roll leanings, while "Youth Wasted" and "Ribcage" hearken back to their days of slumming it in sweaty LA clubs. As the years progressed and the fanbase grew, so did The Bronx, as the album continues to show them having a firmer grasp on the dirty punk-tinged rock ‘n' roll they've been playing for 11 years now and grasping with more mature topics like death, love, and loss of youth. Don't call ‘em old coots just yet though, as vocalist Matt Caughthran screams and gruffly sings with all the vigor he did on the band’s first releases, guitarists Joby Ford and Ken Horne riff the night away with a tight raw sound, and drummer Jorma Vik and bassist Brad Magers hold down the fort with strong rhythms and some great bass lines. The album captures the energy and fury that the band's live show possesses, while showing some marked evolution, even containing a ballad, "Life Less Ordinary," featuring Caughthran solemnly crooning over just a melancholy guitar riff. But aside from this brief departure, every song is sure to get the adrenaline peaking and the blood pumping. "IV" is a solid effort by a band known for solid output, and will surely make fans of the band, both old and new, very pleased.

Standout tracks: The Unholy Hand, Ribcage, Too Many Devils

YELLOWCARD - When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes (Hopeless Records)

A personal favorite of mine, Yellowcard’s been putting out solid releases their whole career, whether as a crazy melodic hardcore unit with a violinist, or as a solid pop punk band with a violinist after vocalist Ryan Key came into the picture. Something about punk+violins always ends up equalling yes for me. Anyway, the band has come a pretty long way since the days of "Ocean Avenue", but that's not to say the edge and catchiness the band is known for is gone; far from it, really. They haven't fucked with their sound a whole lot recently, but why fuck with what doesn't need to be fucked with, right? Fuck.

-Track 1, “The Sound Of You and Me,” is Yellowcard’s typical way of starting off albums as of late, fast and aggressive, with your usual use of Sean Mackin's violins and catchiness, then the quiet part, then the slowdown, and then the end. Always nice

-Tracks 2 and 3 are standard Yellowcard: Good vocals, good drums, good riffs, wonderful violin via Sean Mackin, can't really ask for more then that. Why fix what's not broken right?

-Track 4, “Hang You Up” is one of those standard acoustic Yellowcard songs, ala “View From Heaven”. Pretty, everything works together, and you don't mind it being where it is.

-Tracks 5-7 are…yup, you guessed it, same as 2 and 3. Look, Yellowcard spent years perfecting this style, and it's a good’un, so why change it, right? The point is that all these songs are listenable the whole way through, you just may be a bit bored after awhile

-Track 8, “Sing For Me,” is another really slow, almost electronic type song, and they do ‘em well, so you'll appreciate that it breaks up the monotony of the album a bit. Probably one of the better tracks on this album.

-Tracks 9 and 10 are…fuck it, you already know what I'm going to say here.

It's nothing particularly special, but it's more solid songs from a solid band doing what they do best, and the fact that they don't sound like every other god damn band out there is definitely refreshing. Every song follows the same formula, and it does get a bit tiresome, but the fact that all the instruments and Ryan Key's vocal melodies continue to be good is what makes this album get a 6 1/2. Nothing to write home about, but definitely good for a listen or two.


SET YOUR GOALS - Burning At Both Ends (Epitaph)

I'm personally a pretty big fan of the Californian sextuplet, their debut album Mutiny set me up for many long car rides and sing alongs. Their follow up, "This Will Be The Death Of Us" was a little more skate punky, but I felt like it was a step backwards, so I hoped that the new album would undo all of my fears. Sadly, I was very mistaken. This album is not the SYG I remember from '07, and that's not to say I don't value a good evolution, but this is not one. First off, the vocals of Matt Wilson and Jordan Brown sound way too polished, you can hear where they fucked with it in almost every song. That's a real pet peeve of mine. This is supposed to be punk, let your imperfections shine out, why does it all have to sound so sheen-y? The songs are considerably more poppy then what we're used to, and that's saying a lot, seeing as how they are at the forefront of pop punk these days. Oh, and they still like pop punk breakdowns. I know everyone does, but it's getting old, man. Yes, I know, it's pop punk and that's how it works, but still, just once I wish bands did something that wasn't intro verse chorus verse chorus breakdown chorus x2. Is a slightly different song structure really that much to ask for? That being said, the songs are still catchy as ever, and you'll be hard-pressed to find one that doesn't get stuck in your head for at least a few minutes. The riffs are standard SYG fare, blending typical Screasel-esque leads with typical pop-punk and hardcore power chords. The work of drummer Mike Ambrose, despite sounding like standard Warped Tour-core production, do sound nice, and the work itself is quite good. Now then, to the tracks.

-Tracks 1-3 are relatively boring and much of the same thing, with “Cure For Apathy” being the only one even slightly reminiscent of their older works, but showing the worst signs of overproduction and vocal tampering, ie the chorus

-Track four, “Happy New Year,” is where the album actually shows signs of improvement, as it's a darker song, speaking of their issues with being away so often, and the riff and drum work are very good, with the vocals finally not sounding over produced and annoying

-Track 5 goes right back to the same boring tried-and-true formula, Track 6, “Trenches,” shows promise, but never truly delivers, with the only interesting parts being the chorus and the synth guitar harmony…no scratch that, that part was not entertaining to listen to.

-Guess what the deal was with Track 7? That's right. I'm getting a bit tired of this. At least there's kind of a guitar solo towards the end? I dunno, this is starting to become a chore

-Track 8, “Exit Summer,” finally shows some life, sounding the most like Mutiny of the album, despite the fact that I swear I've already this chorus….oh wait, I DID. Hello, “Cure For Apathy” Part Two. And the bridge? Same thing. Still, at least it's an improvement.

-Track 9 is the same. Exact. CRAP. At least the chorus kinda sounds like Screeching Weasel at some points…. “My Brain Hurts” Screasel, at least. STOP WITH THE FUCKING BREAKDOWNS, YOU ARE NOT MAKING THE SONG HEAVIER, YOU'RE NOT RUINING ANYTHING EXCEPT THE SONG

-Track 10, “Product Of The 80's.” I cannot express my distaste for this song. Words don't do it. Pop-Punk is one thing. This is just the most bubble gummy bullshit I've ever heard out of this band, and I'm sad. At least the drum work is good. Story of this fucking album. Awesome drum works. Decent guitar riffs….go away, rest of the band. Wait, already did that to the bass.

-Track 11, “Raphael,” is also decent, again showing a bit of backbone and spunk, and the chorus almost kinda sounds a bit like an almost melodic hardcore part. Same with the bridge. Good for you, not dead yet.

-Track 12, “Illuminated Youth,” keeps up the tempo that “Raphael” set, and is another one of those pretty good stand out tracks. It's really poor planning on their part to leave all the good shit at the end, making you wade through so much sugar you'll come out with dentures. Or maybe it's them rewarding you for dealing with it all in the first place. Iunno. Oh hey and look!

-Track 13- “Not as Bad.” As in, "not As Bad as the rest of this album!" It slows down the tempo from the other two, but it's still not awful, I've heard worst tracks to end an album on. Oh, there's a hidden track at the end. Hip hop breakdowns and dumb things…Limp Bizkit comes to mind.

Overall, I think "Burning at Both Ends" is not up to par with the other material, becoming too predictable, not enough swag or d beat, s'not punk. I think that's the worst part. They used to definitely be punk enough for most people, but now? Now they're just another boring pop punk bands that double times it once in awhile to give themselves a bit more credibility. Album gets a 5 for a few standout moments, but an otherwise disappointing album from a solid group. Let's hope they can regroup and get their shit together for the next one.


HEARTSOUNDS - Drifter (Epitaph)

Straight outta San Franciso and into their second album, this is one of those bands I discovered accidentally while searching for more A Wilhelm Scream albums, and lo and behold, I was rewarded with more excellent melodic hardcore stuff. The two main contributors to this band - who started out originally as a two piece out of the ashes of metal band Light This City – are guitar players Ben Murray and Laura Nichol, who put together a quick 12 song album called "Until We Surrender" , with Ben handling all the instruments besides Laura's guitar and vocals. It immediately made a bit of a splash within the punk community, and the new album is nothing short of a total improvement, including a permanent bass and drummer! This band pulls no punches right off the bat, and every song is a sonic beatdown of riffs and riffs and riffs and excellent musicianship overall. Each track is its own thing, but at the end of the day, they all do sound similar, and that can be a problem, because there aren't a whole lot of really awesome parts that make them stand out from each other. At the same time though, they blend seamlessly together to create this very pretty painting. Track 6, however, is where I think the album really starts to shine. “Race To The Bottom” comes right off the cusp with a truly ripping guitar solo, and boy is it a hot one. It's also where the album takes a bit of a break to catch its breath after 20 minutes of HOLY FUCK THIS IS FAST. Good harmonies, good lines, good everything. Standout tracks include “You Are Not Your Body,” “Elements”, “Race To The Bottom,” “Echo,” “Uncomfortably Numb.” This album is no jokes, people. Motha fucking blast beats, all up in this bitch at the end. BLAST BEATS, PEOPLE. You know what that does for an album? Damn right you do. Sweet everything on this album, though I gotta say it does get a bit stale for a bit towards the middle, but picks itself right back up in a heartbeat…get it? Overall, consistency is the name of the game, and this album gets a solid 7 1/2 for being A Wilhelm Scream plus a chick. Go, you guys.


STATE LINES – Hoffman Manor (statelines.bandcamp.com)


State Lines is a Long Island based band, a nice mix of indie, pop-punk, and good ol’ 90's emo (and no, guys, that's not a bad thing, look it up before you get all angry), and I'm honored to say that I actually have the pleasure of being friends with these gentlemen.

State Lines has been gathering a significant amount of steam and fans since their inception to the world 10 months ago, releasing a few demos before their full length, Hoffman Manor, which brings me to my original point: These guys are a breath of fresh air in a seemingly stagnant and boring scene. They blend the lines between melancholy and hope seamlessly, and every word sung by frontman /guitarist/drummer for the album Jonathan Dimitri rings through with as much emotion as the lyrics show; in a world where singers focus more on sounding perfect and writing lyrics that everyone loves that mean nothing to them, it's refreshing to finally see someone who gives a fuck about his artistic integrity. He doesn't attempt to be the next Joey Cape or Bruce Dickinson, choosing instead to focus more on making sure you get exactly where he's coming from in every song. But that's not to say that his voice doesn't play its part.

JD has a great and unique voice, not really comparable to anyone I can come up with off the top of my head, and there's something to be said for that. But Mr. Dimitri would be nowhere without bandmates Tom Werring and Johnny Wims (real name; badass, right?), who provide the backbone for this band. Werring, on lead guitar and backup vocals, can be heard prominently on songs like “Driver,” “Probably In A Notebook,” and “House,” and his voice carries just as much power and emotion as Dimitri's, providing harmonies and backups in all the right places, as well as placing well timed leads all throughout the record. Nothing ultra flashy or show-offy; instead, he goes for more Band of Horses/Blink 182 type leads, adding to the sound and effect of the songs without convoluting them.
Wims is an excellent bass player, and when he decides to step out of the shadows and add a bit of his own flair, he shows how integral he is to the overall sound, and you should see him on stage…you haven't lived till you see a live Wims Hop(™). Overall, every song is an instant sing along, and cuts like “House” and “Cancer” are serious hitters, songs that anyone and everyone can relate to, deep, if you will.

There is no filler on this album, and the production quality is top notch, the drums sound real (you'd be surprised how big a problem that is), the guitar tone is well mixed and filled out, and you can actually hear the bass! Imagine that, a real life album with a real life bass sound! It's a stellar release, and they're even nice enough to let you get it for free at their bandcamp (stateliness.bandcamp.com) if you really wanna be that cheap of bastard, but god help you if you don't buy an album and support these guys. I expect great things from State Lines and if ever there were a group of guys that deserved it, they are it. Cheers, boys.


 

Slayer, Megadeth, Metallica, and Anthrax - Live at Nassau Coliseum

For years, thrash metal has been hailed as one of music's heaviest, fastest, and most aggressive and technically demanding genres ever. In recent memory, thrash has seen its ups and downs, from its rise from the ashes of the NWOBHM movement, to its peak in the mid 80's to the early 90's, before being struck down by alternative, nu-metal, and grunge, only to be revived in the early 2000's in a massive new wave of American thrash metal movement.

At the top of the bloody hill of decapitated bodies lies four of the most important North American Heavy Metal bands ever, if not some of the most important heavy metal bands period: Slayer, Megadeth, Metallica, and Anthrax. The "Big Four" of thrash metal have all revolutionized heavy metal in one form or another, Metallica being one of the first thrash metal bands ever, Megadeth starting the progressive/jazz thrash movement and showing more technical proficiency then most other bands out there, Anthrax being the main proponents of crossover thrash (fast, hard, and to the point), and Slayer almost single-handedly creating the death metal movement by themselves.

Now as you may be able to see, I am a huge thrash fan, and when I learned that these four would all be playing on the same stage for the first time ever, I was simply dumbfounded….and then I learned that would be only in Europe. Apparently Metallica wanted time off of touring - something about fireworks and families, I don't really know because I stopped paying attention to them - but the other three started the American Carnage tour, and just so happened to stop by Nassau Colosseum for a visit.

David Ellefson (Megadeth's bassist) even stopped in Long Beach! I didn't catch him because God hates me, but I digress. What followed was just….well, listen up and you'll see.

Anthrax started off the insanity, opening up with mosh pit favorite…well…"Caught In a Mosh." This tour marked the return of long missed frontman Joey Belladonna, who left after 1990's "Persistence of Time," and boy did I miss him. See John Bush and Dan Nelson are both wonderful singers, but no Joey is no Anthrax in my opinion, it's almost as if he took their edge with him when he left. He came and just tore shit apart, to put it lightly. Even with them tuned down what appears to be a half step, maybe a whole step, Belladonna has all of the power and epicness his voice of the 80's had.

As for the rest of the band, it was just energy and fucking power, as Rob Caggiano shreds just as hard as Dan Spitz did back in the day, Frank Bello shreds bass like few others in metal do these days, Scott Ian is just full of spunk and solid rhythm playing, and Charlie Benante? Don't even get me started on him; he's easily one of my favorite metal drummers of all time, every fill just perfectly in time, the double bass work effortless, and an uncanny sense of tempo moderation. They may have been the best band there, it's a shame they were snubbed like they always are and given 7 songs to play before they were forced to leave us all.

After them came my favorite band of all time next to Bad Religion, Megadeth. Coming out in a flare of lights, Mustaine and co. launched right into "Holy Wars…The Punishment Due" as they began their run through of their 1990 classic "Rust In Peace" in it's entirety. I can't even describe how amazing it was to see your favorite album played in full right in front of your eyes - it was like when Moses saw the face of God, except Mustaine actually exists and I'm still alive.

Fuck every person that says Megadeth is terrible live, they were amazing. Mustaine really sounds good when you're there in person, and not because it's loud, but because he's good. The return of David Ellefson, or "Junior" to the more dedicated fans, was a more then welcome return, as he was a staple of Megadeth and an integral part of the songwriting process all the way up till their first breakup, and boy does he still rip. Shawn Drover is exactly what you would expect in a Megadeth drummer: fast and technical. He may not be Nick Menza or Gar Samuelson, but the guy can play and he's perfectly able to play their shit to a tee.

The highlight of the set, by far - if not of the entire show - was Chris Broderick. He's become one of my personal favorite guitar players ever, and for good reason. He took the "Tornado of Souls" solo - arguably Marty Friedman's best ever - and made it MORE BADASS. That's right, he made it twice as good, and did it with a look of utter calmness the whole time, as if it's easy to do 7-string sweep arpeggios for 30 seconds. I could go on about him for another hour, but I'm not going to because I don't have the dexterity to type all of that, so I'll just leave it at that.

After completing Rust In Peace, they came out to play "Trust", "Peace Sells", "A Tout la Monde", "Headcrusher", and of course "Symphony of Destruction," before finishing with a really cool reprise back into "Holy Wars" and leaving. An interesting little side note is that during Dawn Patrol, essentially a bass solo, a fog rolled in on stage, and who steps out to greet the crowd and Ellefson? Vic fucking Rattlehead. That's right, Megadeth's lord mascot stepped out to inform us all that our time was near before fading back into the fog. That was badass.

After Megadeth, of course, came Slayer, the lords of all that is tremolo-picked and whammy-barred into submission, who opened up with "World Painted Blood" and "War Ensemble," before launching into all of "Seasons in the Abyss" and finishing up with "Angel of Death" and "Raining Blood," of course. I'll be completely honest, Slayer was really good of course - everyone sounded good - but they were not as good as the other two. Tom Araya not being able to head bang anymore is a ruthless blow to the bands live show, and Kerry and Hanneman are relatively still as well these days. Sure, the rhythm playing is always tight, the divebombs screech and roar in perfect chaotic harmony, and Dave Lombardo is always a monster, extending the already viciously long 30 second straight 32nd note double bass part at the end of "Angel of Death" by an extra 30 SECONDS. But as much as a fan as I am of Slayer, I'm firm in my beliefs that they rank third in the Big Four, only leading Metallica. Yeah, I said it. Metallica is the worst. I've never agreed with the reigning opinion that Metallica is the greatest Heavy Metal Band ever, or the greatest Thrash Metal band ever, or even the best Big Four band. Metallica's one saving grace was Cliff, who hasn't been around since 86, and everyone else besides Hetfield is subpar. Please, Hammet better then Mustaine, Spitz, or any other Megadeth guitarist? Oh boy, E minor Pentatonic scale with little runs of Aeolian and Major scales for the first three albums, and then every album after "...And Justice For All," big fucking whoop. And Lars Ulrich is a joke compared to the likes of Lombardo, Samuelson, Menza, or Benante. But, this is all besides the point. Slayer still delivered what everyone wanted, fast and vicious Thrash played to the speed of light, and for that I commend you all.

Hands down, this was the best show I've ever been to. Ever. If you can catch any of these bands ever again, I strongly encourage it, unless you have neck problems. In which case I command it. Thrash till fucking death, my friends.

 

Me First & The Gimme Gimmes

Me First and The Gimme Gimmes. I mean, how much can be said about a punk rock supergroup taking classic songs from all genres and making them all into punk rock masterpieces? I don't know if I should be using that word actually, since most "Punks" apparently want everyone to hate their bands, lest they get good and become "sellouts," but I'm going to, because the very notion of "unpunk" is ridiculous.

Punk is about not listening to people and avoiding labels, and most of the people calling things not punk tend to all act dress and sound the same, therefore falling right into the very conformist bullshit people like Johnny Rotten and Jello Biafra strove against - but, I'm rambling.

Me First consists of members of NOFX, Face to Face, No Use For A Name, Swingin Utters, Foo Fighters, and Lagwagon, all who dress up in ridiculous matching attire and get really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really real real really obliterated all the while.

This particular show was a Fat Wreck Showcase, with great bands like None More Black, Cobra Skulls, and Dead to Me, and so the show's intensity was only tripled. Oh, and Fat Mike was drinking right next to me for a few minutes before some stalker drove him off, so that was kinda cool.

So, the show kicked off with Cobra Skulls, a fast three piece who pride themselves on No Use for A Name-esque skate punk, very rarely hitting the brakes for anything, including talking, which was okay because their songs speak for them.

After them came Dead to Me, an Off With Their Heads-style sloppy (meant in the best possible way) pop punk band, who quite unlike Cobra Skulls, were very much okay with speaking, as the singer/ bass player (this seemed to be a pattern at this show, as 3 of the 6 bands had such a setup) was very outspoken about topics like freedom to illegal immigrants, individuality, and never backing down, all commendable topics indeed.

It's while they were onstage that I noticed Fat Mike next to me with about 5 beers in hand. The singer of Dead to Me asked us all to high five each other, and so I turned to my side, waiting for my chance…to see Fat Mike flipping everyone off around him and leaving. Typical, but a bummer.

Anyway, next up were Smoke or Fire, basic Fat Wreck-core Skate/Pop punk, nothing and more and nothing less. Good no doubt, but basic. Then came Teenage Bottlerocket, a weaselcore band, who's rhythm guitarist/singer Kody Templeman hails from a very well known punk band The Lillingtons (Never heard of 'em? Grab Death by Television or Shit Out of Luck.)

Teenage Bottlerocket isn't really my style, as I feel they're just another band leeching onto Ben Weasel's nuts, but they are good at what they do and they're one of the better bands of that nature out there, and everything was sped up and happy, which did help pass the time. T

he real treats came after them, as None More Black made their way to the stage. None More Black is a Melodic Hardcore band, whose lead singer Json Shevchuk is from Kid Dynamite, who I INSIST you listen to. However, None More Black has their own credentials, and played phenomenally well, full of energy, showmanship, and energy. I didn't even notice they were on for almost an hour, because I was so taken aback by how good they were.

They did, however, eventually get off the stage, and Me First came on. They played their staples, including my favorite song by them "Ghost Riders (In The Sky)" - a Johnny Cash song originally. They were really drunk, told awesomely funny stories and jokes, played with all the intensity and showmanship you would expect from the members of some of the best punk bands out there today, and then played an encore after lamenting the lack of drugs in the venue. Pity.

They played for close to 2 hours, a fact I was very okay with, because I almost never wanted them leave. Lead singer Spike Slawson even busted out a ukelele, much to his chagrin….I was pleased.

Overall, this show lasted 6 hours and was worth every minute of it. Now where's Fat Mike, he promised coke for this review…


Escape The Fate
Escape the Fate has been at the top of the glam rock/hard rock pile for quite some time now, dipping their fingers here and there into Metal, and this tour they teamed up with Bullet For My Valentine and Black Tide in preparation for their upcoming self titled release as well as Bullet's new album Fever.

Black Tide opened up the night with a flawless cover of Metallica's thrashterpiece "Hit The Lights," and throughout their set showed the impressive skills at their respective instruments and reminded everyone that youth in no way affects talent.

Escape The Fate followed, blazing their way through a mixed set of old and new jams, which pleased the crowd, with frontman Craig Babbit jumping around and sounding overall flawless with all the chaos in front of him, as the rest of the band performed with little mistakes made along the way. Overall, their set was enjoyable and I found the whole experience to be a little reassuring of the band's future.

Finally, up came Bullet, who opened with songs from the new album before going into Waking the Demon and All These Things I Hate. Unfortunately, most of their set was made up of new songs, and in this reviewer's opinion, their new album is simply not what I wanted to hear from them. However, they did perform well, and they pulled out a few gems like "Four Words (To Choke Upon)" and "Hand of Blood," which are always nice to hear. Matt Tuck always plays and sounds well, and he's surprisingly agile for a frontman/ guitarist on stage.

The show overall was a good way to break up the monotony of the week, and it's nice to see these bands haven't lost their live steam yet, as so many young bands frequently do far too early into their careers.


 

 

 


JerseyBeat.com is an independently published music fanzine covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming bands and a resource for all those interested in rock and roll.


 
 
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