My band’s next show. This Saturday. Blacklight District Lounge in Long Beach, California.
(Review originally posted by Nocturnal Hall Magazine. Link to original can be found here:
Coheed and Cambria – The Color Before the Sun – 9.0/10
To a fan of mainstream rock music, COHEED AND CAMBRIA is known for their hits A Favor House Atlantic and Welcome Home. To a fan of COHEED AND CAMBRIA, the first thing that comes to mind is the conceptual stories behind the lyrics of their albums Their newest release was surprising to many fans, as it is the first album without a concept, and the first one to not take place in the Amory Wars Saga. However, the band has proven themselves in their 20-year career as a band full of great lyrics, songwriting, melody, and hooks. So it should be no surprise that this album continues that trend. Instead, the lyrics revolve around things that have been going on recently in the life of singer/songwriter/guitarist Claudio Sanchez, such as moving from the country to the city, as well as having a baby boy named Atlas. The album starts with the incredibly catchy Island, complete with background female vocals supplied by Claudio’s wife Chondra. Eraser is a heavier and darker track during the verse, but equally as catchy as Island during the chorus. It becomes clear quickly that the band is focused more on the pop side of this music, as opposed to the complex progressive passages that we saw on albums such as In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3 and the Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV albums. However, it is obviously not an issue, as they have already been progressing in terms of confidence in melodies and maturity in lyrics on the previous three albums. Now, on The Color Before The Sun, they have perfected it. From the Deftones feel on Colors, to the beautiful Here To Mars, which might be one of the best love songs to come out in the last couple of years, to the mysterious acoustic led ballad of Ghost, this album has it all. Atlas, a song written for Claudio and Chondra’s newborn son, is definitely one of the highlights of the album and is lyrically one of the best songs the band has ever put out. You’ve Got Spirit Kid is another stand out track and was a great choice for a single. The album’s closer Peace To The Mountain is borderline post-rock reminding me of the great British band Oceansize. Overall, this album is as close to perfect as it gets, and leaves me wanting more of this new direction from the band on whatever they do next.
Sanctuary – The Year the Sun Died – 8.15/10
– An album that I never thought would be released. You want to talk about big gaps between studio albums? 1993 to 2008 for Cynic. 1996 to 2013 for Carcass. How about Sanctuary’s first studio release since 1989?! Making an impact with two classic albums before 2 members moved on to form Nevermore (one of my all time favorite bands), Sanctuary is able to return with the exact same lineup that played on Into the Mirror Black! So how does Sanctuary sound now? To be honest, this does not sound like those old Sanctuary albums. This sounds more like Nevermore without the insane Jeff Loomis solos. It even has moments of sounding like Warrel Dane’s solo album. So as you probably guessed, this makes me very happy. The production is clean, the tones are heavy and clear, Warrel’s vocals are as iconic as ever, and the song writing is very strong. In fact, the lyrics do not have those cringe worthy moments that the last Nevermore album had (which made people upset that they broke up on such a low note after a monster of an album such as This Godless Endeavor). The lyrics and the vocal delivery is done in a very believable and honest way. Warrel is not doing those falsettos that he used to do as frequently anymore. They make slight appearances on this album, mostly in the background. But his voice sounds excellent. My complaint about this album is that for some reason, it is not as memorable as past albums that Warrel and Jim have been a part of. It’s taken many listens for me to remember the songs on the album when I listen to them. But it is full of very strong hooks, melodies, and musicianship. I look forward to seeing more from the newly re-energized band, and I really hope that I will be able to see them live for the first time.
Chon – Woohoo! EP – 7.5/10
– Chon return with their second EP. This EP is only 16 minutes long, a minute shorter than their previous one. Like their previous EP, it is filled with catchy a technical guitar playing. More upbeat and lighter to listen to than a band like Animals As Leaders or Scale the Summit, they take the same basic idea and combine jazz and metal to make very melodic and awe-inspiring instrumental music. Songs like “Knot”, “Sketch”, and “Suda” pick up where Newborn Sun left off. These songs show the capabilities of the full band, including some very impressive drum work that can often get forgotten about with the guitars at the forefront. It also contains some pretty pieces that are done with just a guitar (either clean or acoustic) to show their skills on chords and melodies. But the most impressive song is this album is definitely “Ecco”, which is the first Chon song to contain vocals. I remember seeing a lot of hate for this song, but I really enjoy the vocals and think that throwing in one song to sing along with really benefits the other songs where you are just listening to sweeps, taps, harmonies, and other guitar techniques. The low score is because this is the second time that Chon has released a short EP that just teases us into wanting a full length (which can actually happen now that they just got signed to a record label). However, I am glad that they decided to keep the really short (under 30 seconds) songs off of this album, because I felt like those were just pointless. I am a big believer in giving enough time for the song to develop, and I hope to see more of that from the band on their future releases.
Junius – Days of the Fallen Sun – 7.5/10
– Junius was a very exciting discovery for me. A band that blended the tones and sounds of Post-Rock with straight forward and very catchy songwriting. It’s music that I can sing along with and it still has the atmosphere to get me lost in it. I was very anxious for a new release after their 2011 release Reports From the Threshold of Death, which I discovered in 2013 when I saw them twice in one weekend. I was excited that they were to release an EP in 2014, but was a little disappointed to find out that the majority of it was not going to be new material. This EP is consisted of 8 songs, 6 of them original, but 4 of them are instrumental interludes all under a minute long. That means the majority of this album is 2 old songs that are re-recorded, and 2 completely brand new songs. To be fair, the two songs that were re-recorded were hard to find because they were original released on limited edition split EPs. So for many people, it is the very first time that they are hearing these songs. Also, the format with having multiple instrumental interludes harkens back to their first two EPs, which were both 5 songs long and contained instrumentals just like this for the purpose building up to the next song (these two EPs were later released together under the name Junius). So this EP is full of nostalgic factors. It also has been gaining a lot of attention for the band as well as reviews giving it lots of praise. So this EP turned out to be a success for the band. I however would have liked to see a little bit more from the band after 3 years, but definitely give the band a lot of praise for making these hard to find songs more accessible. Too often bands will make songs and let them slip by, instead of revisiting them and giving them the attention they deserve. Musically I have no complaints about this album. The old songs sound great and the new ones continue their trademark sound. The biggest surprise is the song “Battle In The Sky”, which contains chants instead of vocals to represent a fight or a war through music. Hope to see a little more activity coming form these guys soon, whether it is another album or another tour.