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Saturday, October 15, 2016

KIRRA – Run Away

KIRRA – Run Away

Rockers and Oklahoma natives Kirra released their debut album, Run Away, on October 7th courtesy of Pavement Entertainment.  As guitarist Daxton Page puts it with a strong emphasis on the word “rock”, meaning “straight up and raw”.   Their first EP, Sounds from an Empty Room, grabbed the attention of internet radio stations and social media fans in 2014, which prompted lead vocalist, Jesse Williamson, to continue the writing process for a full length release.

While Run Away may not appeal to the more intense metalheads, it will appeal to those that enjoy the rock of the 90’s.  It is quite reminiscent of Sound Garden and Filter, with a bit of Switchfoot and Puddle of Mudd tossed in for excitement.   Kirra may overall be a traditional rock band, but don’t let the smooth face full you with these guys, there are a handful of tracks on Run Away that shed their ‘boys next door’ persona and are pretty damn heavy.   For example, tracks such as “Chemicals” and the closer “Too Far Gone” boast delicious breakdowns and have more of an edge. 

Run Away delivers exactly what Kirra intended, straight forward rock and roll.  So many rock bands take themselves too seriously and try to force a message down fans throats, Kirra doesn’t do any of that here.  They didn’t intentionally make the album radio friendly to have the masses singing along with every track, they stayed true to themselves and put out rock and roll that most people can or have related to at some point in their lives.  That gives Run Away wide market appeal, regardless if that was their intention or not.  While it is initially tempting to brand Kirra another pop rock band that will probably get some pretty good radio play and then fizzle out, they are much more than that.  These fellas are honest, talented, and true to rock and roll music. Run Away proves that it isn’t necessary to have a lot of flash and dazzle to have a beefy, fresh, poignant, and straight shooting rock album.

Track List:

1.    Tappy Gilmore
2.    Fly
3.    Lies
4.    Lay You Down
5.    Run Away
6.    Chemicals
7.    Downfall
8.    Should’ve Been Gone
9.    Drown
10.  Stay
11.  Forgive Me
12.  Too Far Gone


Jesse Williamson – Lead Vocals/Guitar
Ryne McNeill – Bass Guitar/Vocals
Daxton Page – Lead Guitar
Zach Stafford – Drums

Written by Ken Bowden for Bloodrock Media

Friday, October 14, 2016

Temple Agents - Live Santiago de Chile

Written by Ken Bowden for Bloodrock Media on July 4, 2016

Temple Agents, a hard rock band from Santiago, Chile, formed in 2009 by their two founding members, Ale Solar and Fernando Elizalde. Since the band’s inception, they have toured all over Chile and opened for bands such as Seether and Evanescence. They were also part of the 2013 Lollapalooza Chile lineup, sharing the stage with Pearl Jam, The Black Keys, Queens of the Stone Age, A Perfect Circle, and others.  Their live album, Live Santiago de Chile, was released on July 1, 2016.

Temple Agents is best described as Alice in Chains meets Soundgarden, the 90s alternative and grunge influences are undeniable.  And when you are lucky enough to have alternative rock legend Kevin Martin (Candlebox) doing collaboration tracks, like Live Santiago de Chile’s first track, “Divine Lightning” has, you can still pull off the grunge thing in 2016.  Solar’s vocal skills are not only unique but absolutely flawless; the pure amount of talent he possesses in his voice is almost unbelievable. 

While the biggest issue with live albums is they typically are filled with bad mixing, not the clean vocals and unfiltered bass you get from a studio album, somehow Temple Agents pulled it off.  Aside from the cheering of the crowd every so often as a reminder, you completely forget that Live Santiago de Chile is live.  Tracks like “Red Demons”, “Divine Lightning”, and “Find the Place” exhibit powerhouse vocals and will keep grunge fans entranced for the duration.

TTNG - Disappointment Island

Written by Ken Bowden for Bloodrock Media on September 20, 2016 

British math rockers, TTNG (formerly known as This Town Needs Guns), released their third full length album titled Disappointment Island in July 2016.  Math rock?  Yes, math rock is rhythmically complex, guitar-based rock music influenced by post-hardcore, progressive rock bands, characterized by irregular stopping and starting, odd time signatures, angular melodies, and extended chords. 

Disappointment Island is a bit mellower and melody heavy than TTNG’s prior release (2013) but from the notable opener “Coconut Crab” to the extremely satisfying, smooth jam that is “Empty Palms”, Disappointment Island is filled with easy to listen to guitar, bass, and drums, unmistakable energy, and extraordinary lyrics.  The island themed track names are almost as entertaining as the songs themselves….ALMOST.  The overall desolate island theme is quite ironic because there isn’t a millimeter of unoccupied space on Disappointment Island, every nook and cranny is filled with solid, well-crafted musicianship. 

On their first listen fans will enjoy Disappointment Island, but listens two and three will be even more enlightening and magnify fans appreciation to the intricacy that TTNG has put forth with this album.  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Decivilize - Decivilize

Written by Ken Bowden on September 20, 2016 for Bloodrock Media 

Wisconsin's own, Decivilize released their self-titled debut album, Decivilize, on September 30, 2016, courtesy of Pavement Entertainment.  The band is comprised of Kurt VanderVelden on vocals, Tim Beyer on guitar, CJ Kreski on bass, and Thor Nielsen on drums.  

The definition of decivilize is "to reduce from civilization to a savage state" and the guys in Decivilize have successfully released an album that will make you lose your shit to raw, primal metal.  Their sound is very much like Fear Factor, DevilDriver, and Static-X; a very rusted, mechanical, industrial feel (not in a bad way).  Decivilize is vicious, unforgiving, and undoubtedly brutal and hits you hard, right square in the face from the moment the first track begins to play.

Tracks such as "Everything Clean" and "So Shallow, So Shall I" are undoubtedly meant to put you in the mood and that mood is TAKE NO SHIT RAGE.  Decivilize isn't grandpa's easy listening, but what would you expect from a band named Decivilized?!  There is no room for feng shui and chill vibes when Decivilize is blasting through your speakers.  And there's not a damn thing wrong with that; sometimes you need an solid fist pumping and flipping a random table to pull you out of a shit mood.  Just tell your piece of shit neighbor to give you an hour before he let's his dog shit on your lawn again or you might open a can of whoop ass on him.

Decivilize will make your ears bleed and confirm that it's okay to embrace the animalistic side of human nature.  This album is stellar and reminds you that you don't need the trappings of modern day society all the time; it's okay to turn off your iPhone, turn up the radio, and wild the fuck out!

Slaves on Dope - Horse

Written by Ken Bowden on September 20, 2016

Canadian rockers, Slaves on Dope, are back with their September 9th release entitled, Horse, courtesy of Universal Music Group.  As some may recall, Slaves on Dope were signed by Ozzy Osbourne’s label, Divine Records in the the early 2000’s and toured with Ozzfest.  Slaves On Dope is comprised of Jason Rockman on vocals, Kevin Jardine on guitars, Rob Laurion on bass, and Peter Tzaferis on drums.

When the opportunity to review Horse arose I was pretty jazzed, Slaves on Dope just so happens to be one of the first concerts I saw as a young adult.  Not going to lie, I had lost touch with what the band had been working on, so it was exciting to see their name pop up with some new tunes.  Before reviewing Horse I did a bit of research and listened to the albums they’ve put out over the last decade or so (Metafour, Over the Influence, and a couple of EPs) and honestly, they were all subpar.  So once I came to terms with my disappointment with how Slaves on Dope have spent the last 15 years, I turned on Horse, and I smiled for a few minutes.  Horse is so much better than the last four albums Slaves on Dope released; it is infectious and thought provoking, but with a hint of brutality.  

Throughout the album, they display their ability to be catchy but still appeal to the fans of hard rock.  There are couple of tracks that stand out, “Codependency”, which guest stars Lee-La Burn from the Damn Truth, and the last song on the album “Disco Biscuit”.  There are some disappointments with Horse, one of which is “Disco Biscuit” gets you back into the album and it’s the last song, track organization is crucial, and Horse is lacking that a bit.  Another disappointment is the unclever drug references in song titles, after 20+ years, one would think they would mature and move away from that.  But otherwise, Horse is good, not better than Inches from the Mainline, but it is still good, good enough for me to give it a listen every now and again and for Slaves on Dope to catch my attention again.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Norma Jean - Polar Similar

Written by Ken Bowden on September 14, 2016 for Bloodrock Media

I'm just going to start this review by saying, it's about FUCKING time.  Ever since your humble narrator attended a Norma Jean show a few months back in Detroit, I’ve been chomping at the bit to see what the legendary post hardcore warriors were crafting up with their new album. While during their set they did slide in a new song, it was a just a tease. But it is finally here, the release of Polar Similar.

If you have a single solitary doubt in your mind if Norma Jean still has it or not, mozy your ass over to their site and listen to the first 3 singles, “1,000,000 Watts”, “Forever Hurtling Towards Andromeda”, and “Synthetic Sun”, then kick yourself for ever doubting them, and buy Polar Similar. Of the three tracks, I am particularly partial to “Synthetic Sun” but realistically pretty much every track on this album is fuckin money. Picking out my favs is basically like deciding which bite of your fav pizza is the best except the pizza never runs out and you never get too full, it’s amazeballs.

“Reaction” and “A Thousand Years A Minute” show you that while this isn’t the same ole shit being recycled this is definitely the resurgence of the Norma Jean you know and love. I haven’t been this excited about a new Norma Jean album since Redeemer. I give them major props for ending with such a high energy track like “Nexus”. It is just a ridiculously smart way to end an album of this caliber, instead of the typical “cool down track”. “Nexus” hits you like the climatic battle between the hero and the villain in some action flick that’s had you at the edge of your seat the whole time and makes you cheer your ass off once it’s over for more (luckily hitting repeat is an option here because I can pretty much bank on anyone who bumps this album doing so a couple times after that first listen).

I just want to say to Normal Jean, well done boys, very, very, very well done.

Stellar Circuits - Stellar Circuits

Written by Ken Bowden on September 12, 2016 for Bloodrock Media

Back in November up and coming band, Stellar Circuits made some noise outta North Carolina by dropping their awesome self-titled EP, Stellar Circuits. In light of their looming full length debut I think it’s time we got into why YOU need this album in your rotation.

From the beginning, there is a sense that while definitely a rock/metal band, Stellar Circuits is not some "basic white bitch" kinda metal. Immediately I was overwhelmed by a vibe I haven’t had since I first heard Tool, A Perfect Circle, or even Pulse Ultra. Thick, dramatic, vivacious music with spine tingling vocals, electrifying and wonderful. By the end of Stellar Circuits second track, “Midnight Mission” vocalist Ben Beddick shows that while his style maybe similar to Maynard in his Tool days, Beddick has a fire and intensity all his own. And by the time “Cellar Door” and their killer debut single “Penny Dreadful” (YouTube it, you’ll thank me later) wraps up, you will know exactly what kind of awesomeness you are dealing with. Solid vocals, artsy but not pretentious lyrics, and dope riffs, bass lines, and drums bringing it altogether.

While this nugget of goodness does suffer from EP syndrome (i.e. once it ends you’re like well FUCK I want more of that) it is actually perfect to pick up now, while there is only a short time before the full length release later this year. Stellar Circuits is just enough to keep the band fresh in your music mind for their album release, so grab this EP ASAP.


Written by Ken Bowden on September 12, 2016 for Bloodrock Media

Who are they? Hel---er---heaven if I knew before this album review but coming from the Silver City’s prog metal scene comes GOD. An anonymous group undertaking a Christian metal project of, dare I say, biblical proportions? Embracing the complexity and technicality that have made equally skilled heavy hitters like Animals As Leaders, Tesseract, or Polyphia, GOD brings us the beginnings of frankly one of the what could be one of the most hype djent metal albums of 2016. Being a Christian band in this genre is unique enough but how they are releasing the album is equally as distinctive. GOD is releasing God I as an audio epic, releasing one new song from the full album every 2 weeks culminating in the album’s final track “Truth” to be released on Christmas 2016.

While personally, I am not a Christian and I partake in the dark metal such as Ghost, you would think the heavy religious connotation would be awkward but the first two tracks, "God" and "Salvation" both showcase that God, the unknown wonders, plan on delivering the goods no matter your religious beliefs (or disbeliefs). This is definatley a project to keep your eye on. Truth is, you don’t have to be all about the J-man to feel what GOD is laying down, while their tracks have biblical themes (death, resurrection, the nature of the Divine etc), the music isn't about Bible thumping, it’s about making the listener FEEL something and indulging in the introspection that music brings.

While God I is definitely not some top 40 easy listening this IS a highly ambitious undertaking by some extremely skilled musicians. And truth be told, sometimes it’s a nice break to step away from mindless headbanging and blast something that really just makes you THINK. You don’t have to be a theologian to appreciate God I. Just put on these tracks lay back and get lost in thought, you’ll be glad ya did.

GOD's release schedule for the tracks on God I are as follows:

Track 1 - God - August 22
Track 2 - Salvation - Sept 5
Track 3 - Foreknown - Sept 19
Track 4 - Predestined - Oct 3
Track 5 - Creation - Oct 17
Track 6 - Life - Oct 31
Track 7 - Free Will - Nov 14
Track 8 - Sin - Nov 28
Track 9 - Jesus Christ - Dec 12
Track 10 - Truth - Dec 25

Eva Under Fire - Anchors

Written by Ken Bowden on September 20, 2016 for Bloodrock Media

Doing an album review is usually a fairly smooth process; hit play, listen to a few tracks, and type up a rough draft. Eva Under Fire's debut album Anchors didn't go quite so smoothly, not for bad reasons. After hitting play, Amanda Lyberg's vocals took me on a journey, an amazing journey. Alluring and powerful, a modern day siren, hypnotizing sailors happily to their doom, kind of journey. I listened to the entire album and hadn't written a word. Track after track, I just sat in awe of how amazing her voice is, not to mention the band is not too shabby either.

Far too often mediocre bands with a sexy singer get a lot of hype, because sex sells in music, but Eva Under Fire, they don't need sex....they have Amanda and raw fucking talent. Anchors, from start to finish is pure money. 'Betrayer' is definitely worthy of radio play and should be a breakout hit for the group but listeners will be hard pressed to find a single track that doesn't have them completely entranced.

Eva Under Fire has the right blend of catch writing, biting lyrics, and mesmerizing vocals. Anchors is easily one of the hottest albums to come out of the Detroit rock scene this year. Definitely check it out!