Tag Archives: Linkin Park

Wyrd Ways Rock Show 21st January 2018 – The Behemoth

It’s finally here. The show you’ve been waiting for.

Eighty-one (couldn’t resist putting in the Electric Wizard track, even though I did say I was going to limit it to 80) songs covering a plethora of sub-genres including Death, Black, Pirate, Thrash and Proper Heavy Metal.

There’s an enormous amount of excellent music here.

The most interesting segment, though, is the one that a loud minority seem to think doesn’t exist: Good new bands, in which you will find contributions from Skarlett Riot, Warbringer, Dorja and a good many others from around the world.

Since (if you’ve listened to the show, you’ll know) I didn’t back announce the tracks for this show, here’s the full playlist, including the albums each track is taken from:

Band Album Song
Blaze Bayley Endure and Survive Destroyer
Absolva Defiance Defiance
Iced Earth Incorruptible Ghost Dance (Awaken The Ancestors)
Deep Purple inFinite On Top Of The World
Krokus Big Rocks Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Accept The Rise Of Chaos The Rise Of Chaos
Venom Inc. Ave Ave Satanas
Burnt Out Wreck Swallow Pulling It Out
Alice Cooper Paranormal Fireball
Millennium Awakening Searching
Madam X Monstrocity Nitrous
Prong Zero Days Divide And Conquer
Corrosion Of Conformity No Cross No Crown Wolf Named Crow
Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons Big Mouth
L.A. Guns The Missing Peace Kill It Or Die
Every Mother’s Nightmare Grind Swing Again
Babylon AD Revelation Highway She Likes To Give It
Pretty Boy Floyd Public Enemies Do Ya Wanna Rock
Wintersun The Forest Seasons Eternal Darkness (Autumn)
Atrocity Masters Of Darkness Devil’s Covenant
Ex Deo The Immortal Wars The Spoils Of War
Six Feet Under Torment Slaughtered As They Slept
OnceHuman Evolution Dark Matter
Cradle Of Filth Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay Death And The Maiden
Arch Enemy Will To Power Blood In The Water
Butcher Babies Lilith #iwokeuplikethis
Almanac Kingslayer Guilty As Charged
Battle Beast Bringer Of Pain Beyond The Burning Skies
Beast In Black Berserker The Fifth Angel
Bloodbound War Of Dragons Battle In The Sky
Dream Evil Six How To Start A War
Vandroya Beyond The Human Mind Time After Time
Orden Ogan Gunmen Vampire In Ghost Town
Nocturnal Rites Phoenix A Heart As Black As Coal
Firewind Immortals Ode To Leonidas
Grave Digger Healed By Metal Ten Commandments Of Metal
Lonewolf Raised On Metal Through Fire, Ice And Blood
Masterplan PumpKings (Helloween covers) The Dark Ride
Helloween Pumpkins United
Avatarium Hurricanes And Halos Medusa Child
The Doomsday Kingdom The Doomsday Kingdom The Never Machine
Crom When Northmen Die When Northmen Die
Electric Wizard Wizard Bloody Wizard Mourning Of The Magicians
Epica The Solace System Architect Of Light
Xandria Theater Of Dimensions Ship Of Doom
The Dark Element The Dark Element The Ghost And The Reaper
Overkill The Grinding Wheel Mean, Green Killing Machine
Savage Messiah Hands Of Fate The Crucible
Kreator Gods Of Violence Army Of Storms
Heretic A Game You Cannot Win Annihilate
Destruction Thrash Anthems II Black Death
Sepultura Machine Messiah Phantom Self
Varg Götterdämmerung Götterdämmerung
Warbringer Woe To The Vanquished Remain Violent
Panzer The Fatal Command Satan’s Hollow
Alestorm No Grave But The Sea Fucked With An Anchor
Elvenking Secrets Of The Magick Grimoire The Horned God and The Sorcerer
Dorja Target Practice Fire
Skarlett Riot Regenerate Break
Rabid Bitch Of The North Nothing But A Bitter Taste Trapped in 1999
Masqued Light In The Dark Hypnotized
Cybernetic Witch Cult Troglodithic Trip Tyrannosaurus Hex
Lady Beast Vicious Breed Every Giant Shall Fall
Night Legion Night Legion Titan
Prophets Of Rage Prophets Of Rage Unfuck The World
Arthemis Blood-Fury-Domination Blood Red Sky
Pyramaze Contingent 20 Second Century
Stormbringer Born A Dying Breed Don’t Trust Me
Shakra Snakes & Ladders Fire In My Veins
Liv Sin Follow Me Let Me Out
Sinheresy Domino Star Dome
Stone Sour Hydrograd Taipei Person/Allah Tea
Trivium The Sin and The Sentence The Wretchedness Inside
Sorcerer The Crowning Of The Fire King The Devil’s Incubus
Danko Jones Wild Cat Going Out Tonight
Body Count Blood Lust The Ski Mask Way
Linkin Park The War Party Guilty All The Same
American Head Charge Tango Umbrella When The Time Is Never Right
Sanctuary Refuge Denied Battle Angels
Audioslave Audioslave Like A Stone

Dirty Machine sign to Zombie Shark Records

Nu Metal outfit DIRTY MACHINE from Los Angeles, California, have inked a worldwide deal with Zombie Shark Records, the new record label from Noah “Shark” Robertson (Motograter, Ex-The Browning). The band’s latest album, Discord, was produced by Ben Jovi and the band themselves, at Left Coast Label Studios. The album was mixed by Arnold “Hedge” Quezada and Darren Davis at Blunoize Studios, and was mastered by Josh Wickman from Dreadcore Productions (KING 810, Within The Ruins).

Heralding

Dirty Machine have been heralding the nu-metal flag since 2012 and pull major influences from nu metal era bands such as Korn, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, Linkin Park, Nonpoint, Mudvayne and Sevendust. The band quickly built a rabid underground following, especially in the Kansas City area, due to getting regular airtime on the leading Kansas City rock station, 98.9 The Rock, and headlining the Jägermeister Stage at the 2016 Kansas City RockfestDirty Machine have shared the stage with Ghost, Sixx AM, Disturbed, Trivium, HELLYEAH, Alien Ant Farm, Otep, Metalachi, and Orgy.

Can’t wait for May 26th? Check out the new video for title track, Discord, here.

Lacuna Coil – Delirium

Century Media

By Suzi ‘Elfie’ H

amazon_badgeAlright then Lacuna Coil. Everyone remember when they broke my heart by producing an album of such utter bilge that I literally cried?  It wasn’t as bad as that godawful Linkin Park album, but it was a close run thing.

Basically in my mind, Lacuna Coil haven’t released an album since Dark Adrenaline I refuse to accept any other idea about their discography.  They released Dark Adrenaline and then they went and took a nice long holiday to think about their art.  Then they released Delirium.

As you might imagine, I was *quite* anxious about Delirium.  It took bribery and threats a small about of persuasion from our illustrious Editor to get me to listen to it.  And then of course the question was – is it any good?

Before the waffle, let’s do the technicalities; Delirium  is the seventh  eighth studio album from the Italian maestros of Gothic Metal.  It’s their first self produced album.  Marco Coti Zelato, the bassist took over producer duties.  It’s their first concept album, and is widely touted as being their heaviest album to date.  Due to line up changes, Cristiano ‘Criz’ Mozzati and Cristiano “Pizza” Migliori  don’t feature on the album and don’t appear to have been a part of the album’s inception.  There are 14 tracks, all written along a theme of mental illness, and the running time is 57:20.

First up is House of Shame which opens with a deceptively calm choral overture and then, WHAM!! Andrea Ferro starts growling and then invites you to burn him and oh my god, Lacuna Coil have released a track which is like being punched in the face by an angry werewolf!  Until Cristina does that vocal wafting in thing that she does and all of a sudden the darkness lifts and you’re listening to a track that is almost transcendental in it’s beauty and melodic perfection.  It’s a pretty damn good start, and that’s putting it mildly.

Next up is Broken Things which again is opened by Andrea and look – it is not often that I am gobsmacked, but this track leaves me gobsmacked.  Mostly because when it starts playing, I cannot do anything sensible because the ethereal force of Headbanging takes over and that’s it for the 3:59 run time of glorious, absinthe-flavoured Gothic Metal Loveliness.

From there we segue into the title track Delirium opened by the wonderful Cristina.  There are not enough good things for me to say about this track.  It’s everything I want in a Lacuna Coil album wrapped up with a ribbon and with glittery sprinkles on top.

Moving swiftly on, we hit Blood Tears and Dust which has got a bit more zing to it than previous tracks, but still keeps up the hard and heavy pace that has been set.  At this point, it’s fair to say that Ferro and Scabbia are doing the best harmonic vocal work they have ever done.  Given they’re one of the best duo vocalists out there, that’s saying something.

(Side note- due to the departure of Pizza, the band had to use guest guitarists Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge)  features for the guitar solo on Downfall, with Marco Barusso ( Heavy Metal Kids) featuring for the solo on House of Shame and Alessandro La Porta (Forgotten Tears, Arms Like Anchors) featuring for the solo on Claustrophobia)

After Blood, Tears and Dust, we have Downfall with the glorious Myles Kennedy guitar solo.  Which by itself is a thing of beauty.  When you combine it into the general Lacuna Coil sound of the album, it becomes iridescent.

At this point we’re a little under halfway through the album and I’m sure you’re wondering when I’m going to stop with the effusive praise and start criticising the album.  The problem is, I can’t. Certainly not at this point.  5 tracks in, and this is rapidly looking like an Album of The Year.  And that feeling doesn’t dissipate with the eerie and frankly, fucked up, intro to Take Me Home.  It’s creepy, and reminiscent of Lordi and Rob Zombie and then WHAM in come Andrea and Cristina and it’s a new, somewhat twisted, version of Lacuna Coil.

I had to take a break at this point in the review because I keep drifting away listening to the music.  So by the time I looked up again I’d got through You Love Me ‘Cause I Hate You (we’ve all had that relationship at some point.  If you haven’t yet, don’t worry, it will come), Ghost In The Mist (a gloriously angry song, complete with thudding drum lines, and Scabbia  providing a melody that just gets you right in the gut).  I came back to myself somewhere around the middle of My Demons and only then because I had to go break up a fight between a teenager and a six year old (us journos have well glamorous lives).

I should probably mention that lyrically this album is incomparable:

And I don’t know what to say
I’m thinking about you
It’s hurting without you
I never learn from my mistakes
I’m thinking about you
I’m choking without you
And I don’t know what to say

And that’s one track (My Demons).  The entire album is full of gorgeous refrains and suckerpunch lyrics.  This is a true masterpiece, and really does deserve the title of Concept Album.

Claustrophobia continues the standard of excellence laid out by the previous 9 tracks.  It also has Alessandro La Porta‘s guitar solo in it, which, I’m not ashamed to say, brought a tear to my eye.  I’m a sucker for a good guitar solo I really am.  From Claustrophobia we swing into Ultima Ratio which is 4 minutes of headbanging glory, and then  Live To Tell  which begins rather creepily with some form of synthed intro keeps up the pace.

With two tracks left of the album you’d almost be expecting Lacuna Coil to drop the pace or at least shift down a gear or two.  Oh no, my friends, that’s not what you get.  Instead you get Breakdown which still contains the swooping melodies that Ms  Scabbia has made a name for herself with, juxtaposed against the angry growling of Andrea Ferro.

The grand finale is Bleed the Pain.  And it’s perfect.  I’m not even exaggerating.  It is SHEER PERFECTION.  When it finishes, ending the album, you’re left with a sense of loss, and the sense that you just witnessed something truly magnificent manifest itself.

This album isn’t a sprint.  This is an album you can listen to on repeat for weeks.  Which is what I did after the first listen through.  At no point is there a track that you want to skip through, or a point where you want to switch off.  This is a MASTERPIECE.  I even tried listening to the Lacuna Coil back catalogue to see if I was just being hyperbolic, but I’m not.  Delirium is not only the best Lacuna Coil album produced so far, it demonstrates a growth and maturity, a serious undertone that has been lacking in their other albums. Furthermore, 8 months into the year, I’ve found my Album of The Year.  It’s this one.

I’ll forgive Lacuna Coil for the almighty clusterfuck that was Broken Crown Halo because their follow up in Delirium is so good.  It not only confirms their place as leaders in the Gothic Metal genre, it cements their place as a truly iconic band.

Verdict: 10/10

Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls

Released 04 September 2015

Parlophone UK

Review by Suzi Horsley and Rick Ossian

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Right.

Iron Maiden.

I *love* Iron Maiden. Probably more than any other band ever- seeing them at Sonisphere last year was one of the highlights of my life, and the picture of me screaming my head off to Fear of The Dark remains one of my most loved pictures of me everThey were my gateway into Heavy Metal. When I was 17 or thereabouts, (I’ve told this story way too many times on here) I nicked my housemate’s copy of Best of the Beast (It might have been Number of The Beast, I can’t remember these days) and was enthralled. I walked around the house snarling “666! The Number of The Beaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaast” for months. From then on, it was a slow descent to my current eclectic tastes which are slowly widening to include Metal of the Black and Death variety. Anyway, Iron Maiden hold a very, very special place in my heart for a multitude of reasons, and I am rather firmly of the belief that it is actually impossible for them to put out a bad album.

However, that being said I didn’t think was possible for Linkin Park to put out a bad album (remember that horror?  Or this one?) or for Lacuna Coil to put out a bad album or…well you get the idea. In the last few years I’ve been let down by some of my trusty favourites, so before I gave The Book of Souls (announced on my birthday this year don’tcha know – thanks for the present, guys!) it’s inaugural listening in the southern tower of Castle Wyrd Ways I was somewhat apprehensive.  Could a band who have been steadily churning out killer albums for the last 40 years do it again? It’s been five years since we had an Iron Maiden release – what if they’d all forgotten how to play, or something?

Well, I’m very pleased to say that is not the case. I’ll spare you the summation of my feelings and give you a track by track breakdown and as a Wyrd Ways Rocks Show Special and (to save fights) my colleague, the esteemed Rick Ossian, also known as WWRS’s King Of Prog And AOR and Senior Reviewer will be joining me.

Hello Maiden fans and freaks worldwide – Rick here, your favorite Fish-Man, with a few words (or so) to add to my fellow WWRS cohort Suzi’s.  Apparently, track listing(s) vary from one continent to the next, so what we shall have here is a Transcontinental Twisted Review with a shared authorship of sorts.  Now, normally when I do a review I do a pretty technical breakdown and try to map things out for the listener.  I will try to refrain from that to a certain extent here and just get down to brass tacks.  Like Suzi, I have become an ardent admirer of the Irons (Up the Irons!) since they appeared in my musical orbit — only difference being that I may have become more aware of them much earlier than Suzi.  Then again, the only REAL reason for that is because I am much older.  Also, there isn’t going to be a lot of objectivity involved here…let us be clear, this is a completely biased review.

When I first began listening to Maiden, I was a MUCH younger man than I am now.  I also have one concert experience to covet, and I can’t even begin to tell you about it, because the memories just aren’t there.  I DO recall that Guns N’ Roses bowed out as the support band (supposedly because their star was on the rise and Axl didn’t think it ‘proper’ that G N’ R should open for somebody else at the time). Another American outfit, Hurricane, did the honours instead, and I remember not much else except for Dickinson‘s regular requests for us to “SCREAM FOR ME, OMAHA!!”

Since I’m the boss (or T’Gaffer, to use Yorkshire slang), and Maiden were the band that single-handedly got me into this whole Heavy Metal thing, if you two think you’ll get away without at least the odd interjection, you’ve got another thing coming!

So let’s get to it.  Damn straight.

The album is Maiden’s first studio double album (though I have a digital copy from Groove Music) and comes in at a whopping 92 minutes. It has  their longest ever track on it, which comes in at 18.01 minutes long and knocks Rime of The Ancient Mariner down to being Maiden‘s second longest track. It is *not* a concept album, although I rather feel it should be, but it quite thematic on the subjects of death and hell and other cheerful things like that.

If Eternity Should Fail  is our introduction which kicks off with some weird Spaghetti Western-esque “do-do-dooooooo” stuff before Bruce gives the most beautiful, ethereal standalone kick off to a vocal introduction to an album I think I’ve ever heard. What you then get is gloriously classic Maiden – all the things that make Maiden great – with something that’s new.  It’s old Maiden enough that no one is going to be upset, but new Maiden enough that it isn’t boring either.  And the lyrics are mind blowing.  It’s also instantly catchy.  I’m only on my third listening and singing along already.  At the end it has some really creepy spoken word stuff which gives you some flavour (and freaks you out).

As an opening track, this one sets the stall out well.  The intro is a bit… interesting.  Very 80’s synths (remember this band telling us in their sleeve notes that Metal and keyboards should never mix?  How times have changed!) backing a mournful verse, with Bruce showing another, Blues-y, side to his voice.  Then the rest of the band comes in and we’re in familiar territory.  This is Maiden.  A good one to start with.

If Eternity Should Fail follows The Red and The Black (more on that later) as track 5 in the States, and I was agog at the intro, a purely spacey, Egyptian-style intro that recalled some of the tracks from Powerslave, for me at least.  The requisite galloping and guitar-soloing are there, and at the five-minute mark there is a brief bass/drum takeover, of all things.  Bruce‘s vocal power is just that, an extraordinary display of an extraordinary man’s talents.  The voicing(s) at the end may be these blokes’ way of getting all philosophical on us, but who cares?  It SOUNDS cool!

Track 2 here in the UK is the previously released single Speed of Light which is *deep breath* the closest I think Maiden have ever come to releasing a Pop Song. It’s not bad, please do not misunderstand me for a single second, it’s just a bit poppy in a way I can’t put my finger on. It’s my least favourite track from the album, but it’s still good. From any other band I’d think it was perfectly acceptable. Anyway, it’s a bit boppy, and I want Maiden to make me scream and then displace bits of my spinal column head-banging. This track doesn’t do that. I do still find myself bouncing along in my desk chair signing the chorus though so, yeah…

Oh, give over, Elfie!  This one’s a cracker!  The song gallops along on sheer joy and showcases a band that are enjoying themselves.  After the last couple of albums, I’d begun to fear that Maiden had lost the ability to write quick songs.  This one proves me wrong, and does it in fine style.  Nicko even uses his cowbell!

Speed of Light, the track that first became available to us, is the last track to appear, ironically enough, on the US version.  Though it may sound tepid by some standards, it is a truly remarkable piece of work as well.  

The Great Unknown starts with all the guitars doing cunning understated things, and is almost stripped back for a Maiden guitar line. The Bruce comes in with some restrained vocals and then you get some keyboards I think, and the track just slowly builds up for well over a minute until finally around the 1 and a half minute mark Nicko gets unleashed on the drums and then the guitars kick into Maiden style and you get hit full on in the face with the glories of a full Maiden line up doing what they do best, while Bruce shows off all that opera singer training he had. Also, epic guitar solos.  I can see the crowds going nuts, with horns up screaming this one back in the middle of a festival already.

This one is an example of what Iron Maiden have been experts at for the last thirty years.  Slowburning, epic songs that build from quiet and thoughtful to full speed gallops, before returning to quiet, without feeling forced.  One thing that you can’t help but notice is the sheer quality of the guitar work from original member Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers (the former White Spirit and Gillan six-stringer who has now been with Maiden for something like a quarter of a century, but still feels like the new boy!), all underpinned and anchored by Steve Harris’s throbbing, galloping bass.

The Great Unknown comes in as the second track on this side of The Pond, and Steve begins this number in rather regal bass fashion.  The urgency is there, the in-your-face delivery is there – in fact, it’s ALL there, folks.  All we need to do is listen!  It occurred to me during my first listen of this track that NOBODY screams/yells at you/us like Bruce.  About 5 minutes in there is a contemplative shift of sorts, and …Unknown begins to sound like a different song, hell, even a different band, up to the fade-out. “And the world has fallen/And we stand alone” – kind of prophetic lyrics, but then they do that occasionally, don’t they?

Up next is my favourite track from the album – The Red and The Black. Kicks off with Spanish-style guitars and then kicks into a high octane, thumping, thrumming wall of glorious, multi-coloured sound. Seriously, it is an aural orgasm. You know how Maiden have a back catalogue full of songs that you can just jump and down to, singing “woaoh ah ohhh oh!” along with a slamming guitar line and drums that are just right where it’s at (Lars Ulrich can piss off, Nicko is king FOREVER) THIS IS THAT TRACK. It’s just perfection. I can’t even begin to tell you how perfect it is – it jumps to being my number three favourite Maiden track (Fear of the Dark and Number of The Beast are at 1 and 2. Incidentally Can I Play With Madness is fourth). It’s also a glorious 13 minutes long. There’s always a risk with long tracks that they’ll get boring halfway through. Not so, with this one. It’s 13.33 minutes of sheer perfection.

The Red and the Black is up fourth here in the expanse that is Nebraska too, and I don’t know that a bigger track has been heard (at least not to these ears) in quite some time.  Steve begins the proceedings again, I believe, though these ears MAY be a bit untrained.  Any bass players out there that would be willing to express their opinion(s) would be more than welcome!  Emotions and guitar solos are running high on this track as well, and at about the ten-minute mark things shift to a more uptempo rendering.  At ten-and-a-half the repetition, though oh-so-subtle, is the only thing that takes away from the track.  Repetition CAN be cool, methinks.  Perhaps in another world, repetition is all the rage!  At twelve minutes in we do another shift to that world-famous, globe-trotting gallop, and then Steve ends things, kind of like he did at the beginning – you remember, back at the beginning of this track?

There’s some very interesting guitar work on this one, acting as a mirror to Bruce’s melody line, playing along to his singing, matching him note-for-note.  The wash of keyboards in the background adds colour and depth without overwhelming anything else.  Probably the most striking thing is that, four songs in, with nothing clocking in at less than five minutes (most either pushing or exceeding 10 minutes) none of these have overstayed their welcome or sounded forced.  It’s really looking like Iron Maiden have completed their transformation from meat-and-potatoes NWOBHM to a fully-fledged Prog Metal band of the type the likes of Dream Theater can only dream of being.  The Red And The Black is just one of the tracks that reinforces that.  Then there’s the gear shift at around nine minutes in that just makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

When The River Runs Deep should then be an instant disappointment, following such an epic little adventure. However it isn’t. The Red and The Black has a peaceful finish to it and then When The River Runs Deep slams right into your face with a full-on start, and no build up. It’s “only” 5:52 long (there’s only one track shorter than 5 minutes on the whole album and it comes in at 4:58), and I’m sure there’s some cowbell in it. Just the right amount, it doesn’t need more. We’ve got Her Majesty’s Right Royal Air Raid Siren, Bruce Dickinson after all.

When The River Runs Deep is one of those classic Iron Maiden songs.  Unmistakeable.  Riffs, vocals and solos… all perfectly weighted and placed.

I found myself immensely enjoying US track 7, When the River Runs Deep, which in Maiden World is short but sweet at only about six minutes, but still an excellent track, with a super fucking bad-ass main riff and some soloing featuring one of those wah/crybaby pedals (I’m thinking probably Janick there).  The solos abound on this and all of the tracks.

The Book of Souls is the last track of Disc One for those with a physical copy here in the UK and track 6 for those with a digital version. It’s a 10 minute long epic, and it’s best listened to by sitting back and closing your eyes and letting it wash over you.  While you headbang, obviously.

Now then.  The title track.  The Book Of Souls.  Is it epic?  Yes.  Somewhat surprisingly, the keyboards are a lot further forward in the mix than you’d expect.  Again, that raises a wry smile, but it turns the song into something huge.  Then the pedal goes down at the halfway point and the goosebumps are back.  The soloing again is incredible.  Guitar afficianados bang on about Vai, Satriani, Friedman and Malmsteen… but if you want guitar heroics that actually serve the song, you really can’t do any better than Murray, Smith and Gers.  The energy and imagination in this track alone put bands twenty years younger to shame.  THIS is how you do Prog Metal.  Yes, you can do all the Proggy twiddly bits, but you remember the Metal.  

The title track, which you will find in penultimate position Stateside, begins life as it ends, with some positively heavenly acoustic guitar work.  Since when do these guys deploy such subtle weaponry?  I haven’t heard it on any tracks since, oh, say the last album?  All kidding aside, dear readers, The Book of Souls is a piece of work that needs to be heard to be believed.  It is incredible – it is fantastic.  It is, as Bruce intones, the “food of all the gods“.  Their are many sweet solos, and the crybaby pedal is broken out again.

Disc 2 kicks off with Death Or Glory and is an instantly upbeat faster paced (and shorter) track than The Book of Souls. It’s fairly punchy, with memorable lyrics, and is again, bound to be a crowd pleaser, but I got distracted listening to it and forgot to write anything. (Elfie! – T’Gaffer)

Death or Glory, which occupies the eighth slot here, features another big rock intro, complete with more wicked vocals and even a couple of paradiddles (getting a bit technical there, Rick! – T’Gaffer) from Nicko.  We get the full package here, folks, with no less than three guitar solos to boot!

Now this is what an album opener should sound like.  Yet Death Or Glory could be classed as the opener for “Side 2”.  This one’s got the Maiden swagger all over it.  This really is the sound of Iron Maiden in full flight, and it is truly majestic.  The goosebumps are back again as soon as they get to the bridge.  If you don’t get the urge to get out your air guitar about three minutes in, you have no soul.  On any other album, this would be the highlight track… but as my colleagues have already mentioned, this album is something special…

Shadows Of The Valley follows Death Or Glory in the UK, and again it’s fairly fast paced. Disc One may be all slow build up songs that then smack you in the face, Disc Two is full of boiling over tracks who have already reached a full head of steam by the time they start. I can’t put my finger on which previous release this track puts me in mind of, but whichever one it is, they’ve done it before. This seems to be a subtle re-working than an entirely new track. Still, bloody good though.

Unlike the UK version,  Shadows of the Valley is the album opener on the Stateside version.  I can hear Steve REALLY well, and of course that classic Maiden gallop is there.  Nicko’s drumwork is wonderful, I might add, and I can hear that beautiful ting ting ting of his cymbal(s).  Bruce is in wonderful form, considering his recent bout (Bruce wins!) with cancer, and there are plenty of guitar solos to go around.  “Into the valley of death“, Bruce intones, which we should realize takes on a completely different perspective, again considering Dickinson’s brush with the Reaper.

They’re at it again on Shadows Of The Valley!  Another slab of classic Maiden.  Bruce is singing out of his skin… which is truly amazing when you consider that, when this was recorded, he had a tumour “the size of a golfball” on his tongue.  There’s the hint of an Eastern influence on the riffing.  Those solos… as I type this, the song is playing and the hairs on the back of my neck are standing on end.  This one is going to go down a storm at the live shows.

Tears of a Clown is the albums shortest track coming in at a mere 4.58. It’s also (apparently) based on Robin Williams’ death in 2014. The opening guitars don’t quite ring right for me – they’re a little off beat somehow, but then it improves.  The opening lyrics:

All along in a crowded room
He tries to force a smile
The smile it beamed or so it seemed
But never reached the eyes, disguise
Masquerading as the funny man do they despise

…are absolutely heartbreaking and a very poignant reminder of the complexities of mental health. It is, a solid tribute both to Robin Williams (assuming the story is true) and to those battling mental health stigma everywhere. Never let it be said that Maiden are scared to tackle the hard subjects. And unlike a lot of bands they manage to do it in a non-sensationalist way as well.

It’s absolutely spot-on.  Despite the somewhat cliched title, the song itself is pretty much perfect.  Lyrically poignant… and that guitar work.  I know, I keep coming back to it, but this triple attack from Messrs Gers, Murray and Smith is truly awe inspiring, and there’s no hyperbole in that.  Each and every time, the soloing is incredible.

Tears of a Clown is the shortest track on board here, at just under five minutes, but it is no less cooler than the remainder of the tracks.  It features a wickedly cool intro, and is probably a perfect example of the stop-start, proggy time signature freak-outs that our parents warned us would screw up our ears and the rhythm of our hearts!  More of the wah-pedal being stepped on, which I ALWAYS enjoy, as well.

The Man of Sorrows isn’t any more cheerful and is the penultimate track of the album which also is seemingly based on a mental health theme. It’s probably the most haunting track on the album, and has  slower paced verses and vocals that really let Bruce’s range go to work. Like all Maiden tracks there’s a fairly long vocal free intermission in the middle. Always a pleasure to listen to musicians who are skilled at what they do making some melodies work their asses off.

The Man of Sorrows has a sweet guitar opening, weighing in as track 6 in the US, and an extremely cool ending as well, with a slamming pounder of a riff (1:30), more galloping (2:00), and more guitar solos (4:00/4:30).

Finally, the album comes ot a glorious close with The Empire Of The Clouds. Written solely by Bruce (as was If Eternity Should Fail), it boots Rime of The Ancient Mariner from the longest Maiden track slot, being as Rime is a mere 13 minutes long, and Clouds comes in at 18.01. It also features Bruce on the piano and begins with a distinctly unMaidenish piano intro. This is not a headbanger, this a Lie Back And Enjoy It. And it’s beautiful. There’s even a violin. Or something with strings at any rate. Anyway, it’s a gloriously fitting closer to an album that has been a long time in the making.

Empire of the Clouds (US track 3!) pretty much sums up the definition of epic, and even when faced with other standard side-long prog tracks, it does NOT lack whatsoever.  There is plenty of pomp and circumstance, Stürm und Drang, as it were, and you know it’s going to be an absolute monster when there are keys and strings involved!  The introduction features a beautiful piano piece, and about a minute in we get some gorgeous violin work.  Two minutes in, we get some powerful vocals.  You don’t really hear your first taste of guitar until about three-and-a-half minutes in!  At the four-minute mark, things get decidedly heavier.  This one is positively hair-raising – I literally had gooseflesh during my first listening to it!  Again, plenty of lead guitar work to go around, and the big Nicko shift (7 minutes in) is interesting to say the least.  If one were to look in Webster’s (or the Oxford English Dictionary for those of us on this side of The Pond! – T’Gaffer) under ‘vocal prowess’, then there would be a big picture of Bruce there with this track!  There are transitions a-plenty as well, and at fifteen minutes in, you would swear we were listening to a different track again!  Towards the end, at about 17 minutes in, as the track begins to fade out, we get more of that ‘grand’ piano stuff.  This track in particular kind of says it all, and could even be indicative of a Maiden ‘formula’, if there were one!

So after 1600-odd words of my waffling at you, what do I think of The Book of Souls? Well, frankly I think it’s a continuation of a 40 year long career standard. There’s not many bands who can consistently turn out excellent albums. Iron Maiden are one of those bands. Longterm fans won’t be disappointed and new fans will be left wanting more. I’m rating this album 5/5 but only because Carl won’t let me rate it as an 11. (Just this once, I might let you do that, Suzi – T’Gaffer)

It’s been five years since The Final Frontier (which I have to admit was something of a disappointment).  The question that has to be asked is, “Has it been worth the wait?”  The answer has to be, and can only be in the affirmative.  If you’re going to call this a “comeback” album, it’s been the best return since Osiris.  This is a band that, even after nearly 40 years, are capable of working magic.  Not content with nostalgia trips, this is a band that is pushing forward and pushing forward hard.  It’s likely we will never see the like of Iron Maiden again, and the credit for that lies firmly in the hands of Steve “Bomber” Harris.  He put this band together.  He’s the lynchpin that holds this band together.  His drive, determination and sheer ability to pick exactly the right musicians to fit his vision have absolutely come to full fruition with The Book Of Souls.  Every single note played on this incredible record just proves that Iron Maiden are the greatest Heavy Metal band in the world.  Ever.

If you disagree, you’re wrong.  It’s as simple as that.  Full marks.  Album of the fucking DECADE.  UP THE IRONS!

For those of you whose musical orbit does not land in Maiden Land, this may NOT be for you.  However, for those of you who are about to Rock, as we all do from time to time, this is the stuff right here!  I am in complete agreement with my cohort, Suzi – at the very least, highest marks with two thumbs straight the hell up!

(P.S Maiden for Bloodstock 2016 alright? Please don’t let them Download, I don’t want to deal with the tweenagers)

ironmaidenbookofsoulsgroupshot

*****(******)/5

Monster Energy Presents The UK Debut of Carnival Of Madness Tour

CARNIVAL

The US touring show, Carnival Of Madness is set to make its debut appearance on UK shores in 2016, sponsored by Monster Energy.  First established in 2010 in the US, the touring festival has seen the likes of Alter Bridge, Papa Roach, Evanescence and In This Moment on the bill.  Finally, it manages to make it to this side of The Pond.

Headliners for the Carnival’s first foray into the UK are Black Stone Cherry, who headlining the Second Stage at this year’s Download at Castle Donington.  Special guests have been announced as Shinedown, who will be releasing their fifth studio album via Atlantic Records this Autumn.  Rounding out the bill are hot property, Halestorm and as openers, newcomers Highly Suspect.

“We are beyond excited and honoured to return to the UK to headline the UK’s first ever Carnival Of Madness Tour!  The UK is a very special place for us, and to be able to return in this way after our first arena tour in 2014 is a testament to where our fans have taken us.  We don’t take it for granted!  With Highly Suspect, Halestorm, and Shinedown rounding out this incredible bill, you will for sure get your ass kicked like never before!  Seriously…we’re comin’ for ya!  Much love from your favorite Kentucky gentlemen!” – Black Stone Cherry 

Brent Smith, Shinedown’s frontman added, “A huge hello to all our fans in the UK!  We’re excited to be coming back as part of Carnival of Madness UK 2016.  It’s a tour near and dear to our hearts in the US, and we CAN’T WAIT to share the stage with our close mates from Black Stone Cherry, Halestorm, and Highly Suspect!  It’s going to be one hell of a show!!!!

Halestorm‘s Lzzy Hale stated, to round out the squee-fest; “’The Carnival Of Madness’ tours have always been so much more than just a show.  It’s an outlet for creativity and energy, something both bands and fans can do together! We’ve enjoyed being a part of this ride for many years, and are thrilled to be coming over alongside our friends in Shinedown, Highly Suspect, and Black Stone Cherry. Carnival… will continue raising the bar in 2016 in the UK!  Let’s make “rock show” a verb!

Dates for the run are as follows:

Thu 28th Jan – CARDIFF Motorpoint Arena
Fri 29th Jan – NOTTINGHAM Capital FM Arena
Sat 30th Jan – LIVERPOOL Echo Arena
Mon 1st Feb – GLASGOW SSE Hydro
Tue 2nd Feb – BIRMINGHAM Barclaycard Arena
Thu 4th Feb – LONDON SSE Wembley Arena
Fri 5th Feb – LEEDS First Direct Arena
Sat 6th Feb – MANCHESTER Arena

Artist fanclub and O2 pre-sales will go live from 9am on Wednesday 17th June, with a general on sale time of 9am Friday 19th June.  Tickets will be available from box offices, all usual agents, and online from www.livenation.co.uk

A limited amount of VIP ‘First Entry’ tickets will also be available for purchase from www.carnivalofmadness.com on Friday 19th June.  The bundle will include one general admission ticket, a Carnival of Madness 2016 UK tour t-shirt, a commemorative Carnival of Madness tour laminate, and first entry to the venue.

Wyrd Ways Rock Show CCCII

Wyrd Ways Rock Show CCCII

In this week’s Wyrd Ways Rock Show, there’s plenty of new stuff with an added dash of old stuff to make you somewhat nostalgic.  Take a look at the picture for an idea what the “old stuff” I’m talking about is.  If you want to know about the new Papa Roach album, listen no further, as a couple members of the band are on the show talking about it.  There’s also three bands you’ve probably never heard before in Elfie’s Shock Of The New.  Finally, we get a bit Proggy with new stuff from Periphery and a bit Grind-y with new stuff from Napalm Death.  You can download or stream each of the three parts from the following links:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

If you are a subscriber, you’ll have the full show already, at a higher bitrate and therefore better quality.  Come to http://www.wyrdwaysrs.com for more details.  You also have access to the Members Only pages of the Wyrd Ways Rock Show website.

The broadcast version of The Wyrd Ways Rock Show appears on The Wall every Monday at 11pm GMT and Planet Mosh every Thursday at 6pm GMT.

If you are in a band and what your music on The Wyrd Ways Rock Show Presents: Shock Of The New compilation, email either myself or Suzi with the relevant details.

Here’s the playlist:

The Almighty – Wild & Wonderful
Blind Guardian – The Throne
Ensiferum – Heathen Horde
Covered: The Almighty – Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World (Neil Young)
Knock Out Kaine – 16 Grams Of Heart Attack
Chris Appleton – Seafarer
Michael Schenker – Saviour Machine
Spotlight 1: The Almighty – Power
Empire Of Fools – Devil Inside
Jettblack – Explode
Record Of The Week 1: The Almighty – Gift Horse
Record Of The Week 2: The Almighty – Thunderbird
Record Of The Week 3: The Almighty – Free ‘N’ Easy
Record Of The Week 4: The Almighty – Praying To The Red Light
We Are Harlot – Dancing On Nails
Defy All Reason – Bad Blood
Evil Scarecrow – Space Dementia
Spotlight 2: The Almighty – Devil’s Toy
Papa Roach – Gravity
Papa Roach talk about new album, F.E.A.R.
Papa Roch – Face Everything And Rise
Spotlight 3: The Almighty – Loaded
Black Whiskey – All Seeing Eye
Profane And The Sacred – Words
Venrez – Hang The Predator
Elfie’s Shock Of The New 1: Mechina – Vanquisher
Elfie’s Shock Of The New 2: Intervoid – Weaponized
Elfie’s Shock Of The New 3: Angel Flesh – Eight Weeks
Periphery – The Scourge
Periphery – Omega
Napalm Death – How The Years Condemn
Spotlight 4: The Almighty – Sin Against The Light
Them County Bastardz – Rise Up
Seven Year Storm – Dyatlov
The Almighty – Full Force Lovin’ Machine

Top Ten Albums Of 2014

WWRS

Everyone’s done one of these lists.  The Wyrd Ways Rock Show is no exception.  The next show, which also happens to be the 300th show, is the one where Dr Jim and myself reveal the final countdown of the Top Ten Albums of 2014, as according to the contributors to The Wyrd Ways Rock Show.

Just to whet your appetite, and possibly even make things a little more interesting for your good selves, the shortlist follows.  If you want to contribute to compiling the all-time-ultimate-list-to-end-all-lists of the Top Ten Albums of 2014, sign up for the mailing list or click on THIS LINK and you’ll be taken to the survey page.

So without further ado, here’s the shortlist (in alphabetical order by artist) for The Wyrd Ways Rock Show Best Albums Of 2014: The People’s Choice

(hed) PE – Evolution
Accept – Blind Rage
AC/DC – Rock Or Bust
Alestorm – Sunset On The Golden Age
Amaranthe – Massive Addictive
Appalachian Winter – The Epochs that Built the Mountains
Árstíðir Lífsins – Þættir úr sögu norðrs
Billy Idol – Kings and Queens of the Underground
Black Space Riders – D:REI
Bloodbath – Grand Morbid Funeral
Blues Pills – Blues Pills
The Brew – Control
Crobot – Something Supernatural
Devil You Know – The Beauty Of Destruction
Edguy – Space Police Defenders of the Crown
Edge of Haze – Illumine
Ered Wethrin – Tides Of War
Evil Scarecrow – Galactic Hunt
Exodus – Blood In Blood Out
The Idol Dead – Hollow Point Curse
Ifing – Against This Weald
In Search of Sun – The World is Yours
In This Moment – Black Widow
Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls
Kill Matilda – #Punk#Zombie#RocknRoll
Klogr – Black Snow
Machine Head – Bloodstone and Diamonds
Mire – Inward/Outward
Mutagenocide – Devolve
Northern Oak – Of Roots And Flesh
The One Hundred – Subculture
Overkill – White Devil Armory
Pink Floyd – The Endless River
Primordial – Where Greater Men Have Fallen
Psychostick IV – Revenge of the Vengeance
Queen – Live at the Rainbow ’74
Richie Ramone – Entitled
Rise Against – The Black Market
Ronnie James Dio Tribute – This Is Your Life
Sabaton – Heroes
Shylmagoghnar – Emergence
Sister Sin – Black Lotus
Skálmöld – Með Vættum
Slash and Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators – World on Fire
Spiders – Shake Electric
Stallion – Rise and Ride
Tryptikon – Melana Chasmata
Twilight’s Embrace – By Darkness Undone
Various – Headbangers Balls 2014
Winterfylleth – The Divination of Antiquity
Wolf – Devil Seed

Papa Roach set to unleash new album

Papa Roach

They say fear can be a great motivator. It pushes us into the unknown, increases our awareness, and reminds us we’re alive.  Embracing that mindset, returning Nu Metal pioneers Papa Roach have decided to take on that mindset and used it to form the title of their eighth full-length album, F.E.A.R.

The robust riffs and swaggering rhythms of their debut back in the 90’s are seamlessly infused with cinematic electronic flourishes, sweeping hooks, and magnetic melodies for the new album.

F.E.A.R (Face Everything And Rise) is due to drop on January 26th 2015, the month of the fifteenth anniversary of their breakthrough album Infest (feeling old yet? – Ed) which features their most famous song, Last Resort.  F.E.A.R. signifies a new dawn for Papa Roach, vocalist Jacoby Shaddix says: “I hope people walk away believing they can do anything.

Shaddix debuts as director on the video for the title track F.EA.R.:

“Infest is straight fire one-hundred percent,” declares Jacoby. “That’s when I realized the purpose of my life playing music. Infest was the opening statement. It’s the intro of who we were to become. It was just the top of the iceberg. That record is just as brutally honest and real as anything I’ve written to this day.”

PAPA ROACH are also delighted to announce that they will be playing a full UK tour next year. The band return for a headline tour for the first time in 2 years in March 2015.

Shaddix says: “We are super stoked to get back to do a headlining show for the fans in the UK and we got tricks up our sleeve for this tour so be ready, it’s gonna be off the chain!”

The dates are as follows:

March 2015
Sunday 8th     Norwich, University of East Anglia
Tue        10th   Bristol, 02 Academy
Wed      11th    Southampton, Guildhall
Thurs    12th   London, Roundhouse
Sat         14th   Glasgow, Barrowland
Sun        15th   Manchester, Academy
Tue        17th   Birmingham, 02 Academy
Wed      18th   Nottingham, Rock City
Fri         20th  Dublin, Academy
Sat         21st   Belfast, The Limelight

(HED) p.e. – Evolution

Pavement Entertainment

Buy the CD here or the MP3 here

Review by Rick Ossian

For those of you who have been obviously hiding under a big giant ROCK (including myself, oddly enough), (HED) p.e. (the p.e stands for Planet Earth, as it says on the cover of this CD) is a rapcore band from Huntington Beach, California. They were apparently founded by frontman/vocalist extraordinaire Jahred (Jared Gomes) in 1994.  ROCK/PUNK/RASTA/SOUL is what they list as genre, and I found plenty of that plus more in this particular offering.  Jahred‘s cohorts in musical crime are Wesley Geer, D.J. Product @1969, Sonny Mayo, Mawk, Jaxon Benge, Tanseer, Alfunction and Trauma.  Quite a list of contributors there.  When first researching via my normal routes (FB, Wikipedia – why I rely on either of them I’ll NEVER know), I found about half of that list as personnel, or members for you punters!  Evidently Jahred‘s goal was “to fuse the region’s long-standing punk rock heritage  with G-funk-inflected hip-hop” (whatever that means!).  He has apparently succeeded – or, rather, his band have.  They have also triumphed with their overall mix, as you will see if you read on!

No Turning Back is a 5½ minute manifesto of very cool rap rock/metal.  I was reminded of the way Zach de la Rocha (Rage Against the Machine) would lay down his raps to the world.  Zach was a bit more menacing than Jahred, but it’s easy to see/hear why after a few tracks.  The revered is definitely preaching to the choir here. ‘Soul behind Babylon‘s Wall‘ struck me as a rather clever lyric.  Some really good stuff here, and even a jam at the closing.  Jahred also lays on ‘f-bomb’ on us!  There is the obligatory guitar solo at the 1:50 mark.

Lost in Babylon, on the other hand, is more psych mixed with rap.  There is a wicked cool bass line herein, and the apparent go-to tag line lyrically here is ‘it’s that fire!’.  There is a fade-out at the end that is nice also.  There is more bite here than, say, Limp Bizkit or Linkin Park, but still kinda rap/rock-y and less lethal then RATM.

Jump the Fence is another 5-minute jam with a very cool intro.  This is almost proggy at certain points, but very mixed in with that rap lock, again mining the RATM vibe.  Rhetorical lyrics almost bog things down (‘Let’s get together/come on/we’re takin’ over/come on’), but there are some bizarre vocal atmospherics (2:30) that redeem things a bit.  There is a breakdown (3:15) and a guitar solo (sort of) from about 4 minutes in to 4½ minutes in.  More rhetorical lyrics abound, as if to proclaim wyrdness; ‘Who got that fire?/We got that fire!/Let’s watch it burn!’

Many Games is more like regular rock or metal – what is normal, you may ask?  I would say if I had a stick, normal would be somewhere near FM radio, but then it’s never really been a serious consideration for me.  I always liked the tunes that DIDN’T get airplay!  The vocals are questionable at best – but then Jahred strikes me as the type of vocalist who lends his talents/skills more to some tunes than he does to others.  Does that even make sense?  Anyway, there IS some metal riffage going on here.  The lyrics are a bit more substantial, if you will; ‘Feels like another dead hand/at the end of the day only the strong remain‘.  There IS a guitar solo (hooray!) at the 2:50 mark that is more psych than anything, and just doused in wah – it comes back into blay at about 3:40, then there is an instrumental break with more wyrdness!

No Tomorrow, by turns, is shorter and punchier, with a very heavy-cool intro.  On vocals, it’s an even heavier rap/rock vibe, sort of a growly Zakk de la Rocha.  Lyrically, again, there’s a bit more substance here; ‘The front line/holdin up the front line/on the right side/it’s not about the destination/it’s the journey we ride’.  My fave lyric is ‘Stop fuckin’ with me/I won’t rest till my enemies rest in peace‘.  Then, of course, the part about ‘all you bitches can suck my dick HA HA’ is pretty cool.  Misogynist as HELL, but still kinda cool!

Let it Rain features a dirge-y opener riff that’s very Sabbath-esque.  It is doom – well, sort of doom.  Hippie doom, maybe?  Hell, at this point even I don’t know.  But it IS good. Lyrically the only thing that really stood out was ‘I don’t wanna get high alone’.  Well, WHO does, after all?  There is another wah-infused guitar solo (2:40) and a vocal breakdown (3:30) that don’t seem entirely out of place.  The wah and feedback mixed together sounded cool.

One More Body finds us rocking again, with a very heavy kick-off intro.  This is a sinister, menacing rap again.  I found myself banging my head to the groove, though.  The groove is pretty good beat-wise.  (I give it a 69, Dick!)  Vocally/lyrically, the refrain seems to be NO WAY OUT.  Another coupling I noticed was ‘How can you sleep/when your bed is on fire?’ Indeed.  There is the by now obligatory vocal breakdown at 2:50, then again at 3:20.  At least they’re not shy about it!

Never Alone features a sweet little guitar/drum intro, a mean rap, and some guitar soloing (2:15) with wah and whammy bar, if I’m not mistaken.  Also another vocal breakdown (2 minutes in), and some lovely riffing at the close.

The Higher Crown has a psych intro of sorts, at which point straight wyrdness ensures.  Not quite sure what to say about this one – we’ll call it an interlude, shall we?  There are some vocal FX, but that’s about all…

It is at this point that we enter into what I shall deem ‘the reggae portion’ of the program.  Nowhere2Go features a really strange polka-esque intro (with a squeeze box of all things) mixed with psych.  It then turns into an attempt at reggae or ska (not sure which – this must be the RASTA stuff Jahred was on about).  Not a bad attempt, mind you – just a bit misplaced, perhaps.  The only thing that concerns me here is that the next two tunes are also reggae-inflected, to say the least.  Let It Burn and Hold On are also good tunes, but to throw three reggae numbers in at the end seems a bit strange to me. Perhaps I’m just being picky…They DO stand of their own accord, however.  Let It Burn has a really neat little intro, as does Hold On.  Both also have some neat little guitar fills in them.

Now we must ask ourselves – what exactly are (HED) p.e.?  It is my contention that they are a pretty good band who are celebrating their 20th anniversary, and I don’t know why I hadn’t really noticed them before…maybe it’s time to have a peek at their back catalogue!

****/5

Linkin Park – The Hunting Party

Warner Brothers

Released June 2014

Right.  Let’s get this over with shall we?  Regular readers will remember what happened the last time I reviewed a Linkin Park album.  Despite my longstanding love of the band, their 5th studio album evoked a sense of such utter hatred in me that it took me three weeks to listen to The Hunting Party, because, quite honestly, I couldn’t bear the thought of them having released something that godawful again and every bit of promo I saw was Chester talking about how this time they’d “done something different“.  Given last time they did that I had to break out the brain bleach, I was not optimistic.

Anyway, the album kicks off with The Keys to The Kingdom and ……. it’s alright.  You’ve got Chester screaming, some heavy guitars, fantastic drum beats  and then Mike does his rapping thing and loads of synthy synthy stuff going on and yeah, it’s an interesting track that made me think ‘ok, maybe this won’t be so bad after all‘.  Then the album moves (via some weird little soundclip things) to All for Nothing and again, it’s an alright track.  It’s quite catchy and elicits a head sway, and by the time I was on my third listen I was sort of singing along.  It’s not a fantastically strong track – there’s a very clear delineation on the album between tracks that are Singles and everything else, but it’s definitely listenable.

Then we have the first big single from the album Guilty All The Same.  It’s a catchy track with riffs a plenty, rapping from someone called Rakim and it’s  track that is worthy of a goth/nu-metal club night.  It’s again an alright track.

But hold on a minute.  I’m three tracks into an album and so far the best description I can come up with is ‘yeah it’s alright‘? Where’s my ANGRY Linkin Park?  Where’s the perfect coalescence of agony and rage that made Hybrid Theory and Meteora such epically brilliant albums?

10 seconds later my question is sort of answered by War.  Which has a bit of old school Chester screaming, but it seems a bit forced really.  As if  he’s not really angry any more and is just trying to remember what it felt like.  The guitars however are excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed them.  It’s another track that would be alright for a club night.  From War we move onto Wastelands which is rather mundane and repetitive, and then it’s time for Until It’s Gone, the second single on the album

Until It’s Gone is again, a fairly alright, track.  There’s nothing WRONG with it, there’s just nothing special about it.  There’s some interesting synth going on and some generically heavy guitar and it’s…… JUST SO BORING.

I’m bored.  Halfway through this album – the exact half point in fact and I am SO BORED I could chew my own foot off for the entertainment factor.  This is not an album to put on for a reason, this is an album to put on because silence is unbearable and you want to fill it with something that isn’t too engaging or oppressive.   Because of this very quality however, it’s going to be wildly successful and annoying people who don’t like Rock or Metal will listen to it and be all ‘oh yah, Linkin Park, love them‘ and then stare at you blankly when you play Crawling. 

Forgive me my Nu-Metal Hipsterism, but my point is proven by the boring pop-ishness of Rebellion and then Mark The Graves, which is just pure self indulgent creative wankery.  There are lengthy instrumental sections that are… well…  guitar wankery, and then it’s followed up by Drawbar  which is like listening to James Blunt with a more exciting drum line and no vocals and then there’s Final Masquerade which is all poppy upbeats and heartfelt lyrics and emphatic guitars and just………. *vom*

Finally, the album draws to a close with six and a half minutes of A Line In The Sand and with that Linkin Park‘s opus to mundanity ends.

In summary, there are four listenable tracks on this album, three of which I wouldn’t object to hearing at a club night as a bit of filler between sets and the rest of it is a perfectly mundane and boring pop-rock album.   I’ll be honest, if this is the first Linkin Park album you’ve ever heard and you don’t mind poppy rock with synths then you’ll probably like it.  If you liked Linkin Park in 1999 you probably won’t.  I’m going to give it 2 stars because there’s nothing actually wrong with it and I wasn’t mentally scarred by listening to it, but it won’t be going in my personal music collection.

**/5