Archive for the ‘rock and roll’ Category

Raymond Toro is a virtuoso. He knows what he’s doing. His first solo album, “Remember the Laughter” is proof of that. Writing, arranging, and playing nearly every single piece of music on this disc, the man proves his meddle as a solo artist with catchy vocal hooks, smart time changes, heartfelt lyrics, and passionate vocals. I don’t like it as much as I like the discs he worked on in the past with a band, “I brought You My Bullets, You Brought me Your Love”, “Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge”, “The Black Parade”, “Conventional Weapons”(yes, I see it as a cohesive album all by itself), and “Danger Days”, as the primary writer and arranger of the music, but I’m still in love with it. The lyrics alone make it worth a listen, but there’s so much more to it than that. 

“Remember the Laughter” is a concept album about a middle aged man finding a “memory box” and reflecting on moments of his life via the contents of said box. Simple as hell, way less bombastic and complicated than “The Black Parade”, but just as heartfelt and almost as effective. 

A few tracks stand out to me, and they will be the main ones I write about in this review. The first, “Isn’t that Something”, is written from a straight up genius perspective when it comes to music. Good structure, a good balance of traditional music and electronic(just in the beginning really), and some of the most honest lyrics I have ever heard in a song. You can tell that the track is about Toro’s feelings after the MCR breakup of 2013, and it really pulls at your heart, especially if you’re a fan. 

“Mama told me I should stand alone. Papa said your better on your own.”

While I do think My Chem was the greatest ensemble of creators in the history of music, I still think that Ray’s parents were right, at least in a way. He’s finally making the music he’s always wanted to make. Sure, there’s none of that magical teamwork that occurs when a band full of separate artists with separate musical tastes work together to create the sonic hybrid known as an album, but it really does show that this artist can stand on his own two feet creatively just fine. A lot more than fine, actually. 

That being said, this record was A huge surprise to me. My favorite guitarist had always played like he was a hybrid of Brian May and Randy Rhoades – but with this album, he goes the pop route. It’s not “pop” like all that Beyonce shit you always hear, but it’s still catchy as hell. A very strange but very nice combination of modern pop music with 80s rock bands, which makes the disc play like a time capsule, and the record’s narrative lyrically fits well into that aspect of the album. 

“Walking in Circles” is my new favorite love song. The lyrics in it are simple, as is a lot of the music, but the thing delivers. His vocal holds notes extremely well, and the entire song is laced with strings that really give the whole thing an epic scope. As far as the guitar is concerned, this one shows the listener that Ray isn’t interested in shredding and showing off like he did with My Chem. He just wants to make something emotive and powerful with his music, even if it’s simple. But, like I said, there are stringed instruments, so it’s kind of a mind fuck that he would make a song that sounds so simple and then add something really complex on top of it. 

So far, the album has been pretty poppy. But with “We Save”, the music becomes straight up rock and roll, namely, blues rock. I can’t help but make a comparison to “You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us in Prison”, chiefly because of the guitar style, but the song still doesn’t sound anything like that one or anything else in My Chem’s arsenal. It’s not heavy, but it’s not soft either-it’s just intelligent rock music that puts a smile on your face. 

Things get more complex a couple of tracks later with, “The Great Beyond”. Orchestral instruments  abound once again, but the real focus is the guitar and the vocals. Melodically, it’s one of the best songs of the album, especially with the soft bridge. I said before that Ray doesn’t really shred on this album – but scratch that, the solo on this song is excellent(I guess he does shred on this album, where the solos are concerned, but he does it sparingly). It’s soft but rockin’, smart, and gets stuck in your head just as much as the vocals do. There’s also a certain highly experimental sound employed throughout the verses that took me a while to get used to, but I love it now, even though I have no clue what it is. Something like scraping or clicking, I guess. 

“Take the World” reminds me of “The World is Ugly” and “the Kids From Yesterday”, but it’s still Signature Ray Toro, not My Chemical Romance. I think it would have worked with Gerard Way singing it, but it actually wouldn’t have been as good. This is the album’s initial single for a reason – it shows with glory Toro’s competence as a songwriter and especially as a vocalist. I’ll admit I like Way’s voice better, but I think Ray’s voice is perfect for this song. 

All the songs are great, but the next one that really stands out to me is “Requiem”. The vocals and lyrics of this record are all delightfully positive, and that infectious happiness shows the most through this track. It’s all about honoring the memories of those we have lost, living life to the fullest, and finding hope amidst the “madness of this world”

“You’ve got one life so make it right. If I had one more chance, I wouldn’t take it back.

Don’t die in vain, please light the flame.

And fill the sadness in your heart with memories of us.”

Just beautiful to the heart, man. Makes me wanna live my life to the fullest. And, at the end of the song, Toro goes full on African with the vocals and percussion. I’ve always loved tribal stuff. It’s just so emotional and real. 

And the last song, title track “Remember the Laughter” is just as powerful and infectious as the rest of them. Great way to end an album, especially with Toro’s “La la la” refrain during the bridge. 

I’ve been listening to this album for a couple weeks constantly, and it resonates with my emotions more than any of the solo efforts of My Chem’s other members. The main focus of the disc is family, and that’s something I desperately needed to focus on at this time. So, thanks Ray.

All in all, a cohesive, well constructed, and just damn good CD.

10 out of 10 

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This isn’t Avenged Sevenfold’s best album. That honor will always be held by City of Evil (one long guitar solo) and, to some extent, Nightmare. 

But it’s their smartest, most ambitious, and most unique album to date. Think “The Wall” by Pink Floyd…but metal.

It’s a concept album, centering around the ideas of artificial intelligence and the implications its misuse has on humanity. Sort of like the Matrix, but less sci-fi and more genuinely scientific. This was the first thing that surprised me about the record. I never would have guessed that these metal giants would make a disc based Around scientific philosophy. Computers become the new God of society, people replace their body parts with mechanical implants so much that they aren’t human anymore, and the world gets destroyed. In my mind, this record is even an allegory for Facebook, social media, and the internet in general taking over the souls of the human race. I don’t really despise social media – but I do think our obsession with it is a bit excessive.

You would think with this concept that the album would sound digital and electronic – and once again, A7x surprise us by making it sound like their older metal core efforts, particularly on tracks 2-5. Instead of going full on 80s metal like they did on their last record, the disappointing “Hail to the King”, the band seems to have gotten back to their roots. It’s a blend of City of Evil and Waking the Fallen, especially where the guitar riffs are concerned. And while it doesn’t sound electronic, it certainly sounds cosmic. You feel like your up in the stars when you listen to it, and the cover art is a very clever play on their beloved logo, the death bat. Stars make up the skull and lightning energy makes up the wings, as you can see for yourself. 

The chorus on “Paradigm” hits mercilessly hard with speed and melody, the riffs on “Sunny Disposition” explode in your face (there’s a really pretty melody in there though at a few points), and “God Damn” combines black metal tremolo picking and drums with clean vocals to a very pleasing effect. 

The final track, “Exit” is primarily instrumental with smart time changes that go on for over ten minutes. There’s more music than lyrics on this one, but when those vocals come your ears will be blown away. This song is basically a narrative for the creation of our universe, the “Big Bang”, and it’s quite possibly the group’s most innovative song. Famed cosmologist Neil Degrasse Tyson even does a spoken word part at the end which he apparently wrote specifically for this album. I wouldn’t have ever pictured him working with a hard rock band, so this was another surprise. 

Yes, the album is full of surprises. It recaptures the brutal sound of their older albums while still remaining fresh and new to the listener. 

The only two problems I have with the disc are M. Shadows’ vocals and Synyster Gate’s guitar playing. Don’t get me wrong – both musicians still sound excellent and totally professional, but their work on this one just doesn’t capture me in the same way their previous material always did.

I award this album a 4 out of 5. If you love metal, go listen to it. Like, right now. 

If anyone on here enjoys rock music, then please check out my solo music project Cathartic Catapult

The first few songs are demos from my upcoming album, “Daybreak”, and all the songs starting with “Little Ant” are from my 2010 solo album called “Your Evil Broken World”

If you like Marilyn Manson, My Chemical Romance, Avenged Sevenfold, Green Day, or The Rocket Summer, then I believe you may enjoy my music as those are my main influences. I would call my genre simply, “rock”, but there’s a lot of metal in there as well as a good deal of melodic singing. Thank you!

Greetings, lovers of rock! As usual, this album review of mine is very late. I sometimes wonder if many people are even still talking about the albums I review(though they should, because I only review important albums). One exception was my pale emperor review, which was written fairly near the release date(not sure when I posted it). Anyway, in keeping with my “tradition” of pairing albums with food that reminds me of the band, I will say that bring me the horizon reminds me of… Well, meat I guess. But mainly discovering them at hot topic. So I guess I wasn’t eating anything when I first heard them, unlike with all my other favorite bands. But who cares? SEMPITERNAL is a fantastic album. I could almost say monumental(don’t worry, I will be a critic at some point and review bad albums). Beginning with the album prior to this one, bmth started to focus more on melody than heaviness(about the hot topic thing…I don’t group music into terms like emo very much, but everyone thinks hot topic is the epitome of “emo”. Well BMTH can’t be accused of that. They haven’t worn makeup as far as I know, just blood, and they look and sound more like a cannibal corpse type than anything else). The opener, “can you feel my heart initially surprised me with a dancy poppy feel. Like most of the other tracks, it will blast away your speakers and bass more than most rock music is capable of doing. What’s surprising is that even with a pop sound these guys still sound pretty hardcore(it’s a different case with their next album that I will review “that’s the spirit”), especially in songs like shadow Moses. It’s not really like their previous efforts, but the advent of pop and electronic, which was only hinted at previously, really makes this record stand on it’s own. Musically, all the songs possess many intricate layers, ambience, experimenting, and actually beautiful melodies(as stated before, this band’s previous albums were more death metal oriented and although great, didn’t focus too much on melody other than the song “don’t go” off “there is a hell…”) some songs actually sound like feel good rock, but they are easily overpowered by the majority of sadness on this album, whether it be through the sound or especially the lyrics. It’s heartbreaking, with a penchant for the bleak, the deolate, and the unfixable. Obviously, these lyrics were inspired by lead vocalist oli syke’s struggle with drug addiction(he did however get better and proceeded to write with more triumph in the following album “that’s the spirit”). I have suffered addiction personally and can definitely find a common ground with oli in these lyrics of his, as well as in some lyrics that I personally interpret to be about family issues and remorse for actions against family, but that’s just my personal interpretation. Something else really interesting is the guitar work. The guitarist, Lee Malia, while not doing too much when it comes to “hardcore riffs”, plays technically and professionally enough for the notes and chords to still be the main focus under the huge array of electronics on all the tracks. And while I’m not as interested in bass and drums(which is silly of me), the bass and drumming works of Matt Kean and Matt Nicholls, respectively, really give this album a good rhythm. I might rate the album on a whole of four out of five, but due to the sheer emotion it conveys to me, I have to up it to a five. Almost as good as the black parade by mcr, and that’s a big deal to me. Get this album. And don’t be all upset because it doesn’t sound like “sleep with one eye open” or “pray for plagues”(if you do, then you better not listen to their “that’s the spirit” record released a few days ago, unless you can get past head banging and care about melody).

I believe I have previously mentioned that certain albums/bands remind me of the foods I was consuming when I first received their sonic magic into my ear drums. Well, the “shock rocker” Marilyn Manson will always remind me of meatloaf. My mother made it for me when I first discovered his eat me drink me album through his MySpace page. It never ceases to amaze me how fitting that is….meatloaf and Marilyn Manson. This is because, no matter what your opinion of his controversial band may be, it cannot be denied that it consists of SUBSTANCE, RICHNESS, MEAT (the obvious depth of his lyrics and imagery as well as a disgusting incident with a fan that he recalled in his autobiography), LIFE, SACRIFICE, and blood. This probably sounds silly so I may as well move on to the review itself (but not before explaining one more thing about the meat/Manson connection, also found in his autobiography: a quote placed directly before chapter 13 by Roland Barthes: steak is at the heart of meat, it is meat in its purest state; and whoever partakes of it assimilates a bull like strength. The prestige of steak evidently derives from its quasi-rawness. In it, blood is visible, natural, dense, at once compact and section. One can well imagine the ambrosia of the ancients as this kind of heavy substance which dwindles under one’s teeth in such a way as to make one keenly aware at the same time of its original strength and of its aptitude to flow into the very blood of man). Anyway, if you are still reading this, then you are most likely a fan of Marilyn Manson, and most of you would agree with me that the highlight of the groups career was between his very first record  and his sixth(the golden age of grotesque). Many believe that he became “calm” after golden age due to the change in his lyrics from the point of view of an irredeemable monster to a human being full of regret. I myself did not mind this soft side at all, as eat me drink, the album following golden age, is the one I enjoy the most(holy wood is the most well made, but I just like eat me drink me more). But fans were given a taste of the old psychotic Marilyn Manson in his album released before the pale emperor, born villain, which sounded like a blend of antichrist superstar and mechanical animals. Well, for those of you seeking out “hardcore”, this newest album only has one song that can be considered heavy in my opinion (deep six). But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t over the top, vicious, and nasty like his earlier works. It’s got everything that made us love Manson in the first place, but with a new twist: blues rock. Yes, Marilyn Manson has become a blues band, from the guitars to the drums to the vocals. And it sounds amazing. Think about it…rock and roll originally began with the blues anyway. So what Manson has done with this record is, as usual, quite intelligent. But what many fail to realize is that although mr warner(Manson Himself) is the primary factor of the band’s imagery and success, most of the songs were written musically by his band mates. In the past, twiggy ramirez(real name jeordie white) has written some of the coolest bass grooves and guitar licks of rock and roll, but this time around the music was composed by Tyler bates, writer of the score to the new guardians of the Galaxy film. I have yet to see this movie, but from his jangly guitar riffs and funky basslines in the pale emperor it is obvious that he is a very talented musician. As for Manson himself, his blues infused voice has never sounded better. It is still very eery and the lyrics are of course loaded with violence, profanity, and negativity, but the way he sings against the awesome sounding instruments provides for a surpringly upbeat rock record. This isn’t the old Marilyn Manson, but I believe diehard fans will still find it to be a good listen. Critics love it, calling it the best album produced by Manson in over a decade, and I have to agree with them. But I will go a step further. Eat me drink me is still my favorite, but the pale emperor is actually a very close second; even better than holy wood and mechanical animals. And, if you are a Manson fan, you know that that is a huge deal. Very huge. Long live the real king of rock. Ten out of ten stars