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Hypnotize
Hypnotize
Price: £6.00

7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Another let-down, 3 Mar 2006
This review is from: Hypnotize (Audio CD)
SYSTEM OF A DOWN - HYPNOTISE
In the year 2005 one of the most hailed metal bands of our generation promised two albums in the same year, and naturally fans started drooling at the prospect. The first three albums, all in the similar style, delivered a massive range of pounding heavy punk as well as acoustic ballads with the high points being Serj's incredible vocal variety as well as guitarist Darren's inventive and complex solos. From the start the double album project of Mesmerize/Hypnotise was to be Darren's brainchild, with most of the lyrics and music written by him, as well as him taking front seat as lead singer of the band. The question was, could he pull this change in style off?
The answer simply is no. If someone is to take charge of an already legendary rock band to form two albums almost entirely composed by themselves, one would assume that the person has an important political message that they need to convey in the most immediate manner possible. Gone are the shotgun heavy riffs and pure power behind System of a down, and replaced with light, albeit catchy, melodies. The lyrics which used to hold true political power such as their earlier Prison Song and War! now seem frivolous, unimaginative and bizarre. Anybody who is looking for deeper meaning behind these songs will find nothing - System have lost their claim to being a political band by reeling off song after song with lyrics like "Eat all the grass that you want / Accidents happen in the dark" and "She wants nothing more than to be a little w**re". Lyrics aside, the main high point of the album is the brilliant joint vocal melodies of Serj and Darren. While Darren does not have anywhere near enough talent to push Serj aside and become the new lead singer, he can certainly sing well, and when the two put their voices together the result is extremely impressive.
Bass and drums are pretty much neglected for the main part, Darren taking centre with a variety of interesting guitar compositions. The riffs, while not holding the same quality as old-school System, are still quite inventive, though tiresomely unvaried by the end of the album. That is pretty much what can be said as a whole for this effort - it starts well, and most of the catchier, and in this case better, songs put near the start of the album. Towards the end there seems little to fill the space, and the songs tend towards drug abuse and loneliness. The final song, Soldier Side, connects at the end with the start of Mesmerise, and thus could proven a good note to finish on, however the song is quite boring and the album fades out rather than ending with a bang like Aerials or Streamline.
Overall, with Darren in control the band has suffered musically and lyrically, and while Hypnotise at first seems like it could make up for the below average Mesmerise, by the end it has faded into nothing. And if this new direction is one they will stick to, I can only hope the same for the band itself.


Hours
Hours
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.79

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Second album for FFAF shows new emotional depth, 16 Jan 2006
This review is from: Hours (Audio CD)
FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND - HOURS
Funeral for a friend are one of a few British bands who have a large fanbase from their live shows before even releasing a debut album. Their EP Seven Ways to Scream Your Name coupled with their first full length album Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation highlighted a collection of songs evidently from their live sets showing extremely competent skill and depth for a band labelled simply as 'emo'. Unlike American emo bands, who sing in punk tones about girls and make-up, welsh Funeral for a friend offer a more poetic side. Unlike their previous work, their second album Hours promised an album that was structured, written and recorded as a record in itself, and you can tell.
First off, this is no young power chord strumming collective - the guitar parts, both lead and rhythm, are all expertly written in such a way that you won't notice on the first few listens. For a relatively young band the guitar work is incredibly mature and original. Riffs are fast paced and complex, but it seems once they have found a verse and chorus riff for a song, they tend not to vary much from that, no unexpected breakdowns or solos like fellow Britons Reuben. The bass also comes into play more than in their previous works, to good effect. They also aren't afraid to explore various different styles; History using acoustic guitars to complement Matt's emotional voice while The End of Nothing employs heavy riffage and screams similar to that of a black metal band. It's so easy to see how much they have evolved since their last work, every song is worked out to the finest detail, and the vocals are much cleaner now and fit perfectly in with the upbeat guitars. The lyrics and singing style have both cranked up a notch, with less attempts to sound metal and a more heartfelt lighter voice coming through. The lyrics, although typically teenage, do well to convey feelings about love, change and atmosphere. "I can't feel the same, can't feel same" croons Matt on single Streetcar, while more brutally "Killing me might be the only chance you have of recovery!" on the end of nothing, and romantically on closer Alvarez "The stars will be your nightlight tonight and I will be your lullaby."
This is the first time in a while where a second album excites me so much to the oncoming prospect of further releases. While usually I fear further downfall, or wonder how they will keep the same quality, with Funeral for a friend I see a band so soaked in talent that pretty much cannot fail to produce brilliant music for years to come. It's a good thing they have their whole lives ahead of them.


Hypnotize
Hypnotize
Offered by the music box
Price: £8.95

2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars System's promised epic fails to deliver, 16 Jan 2006
This review is from: Hypnotize (Audio CD)
In the year 2005 one of the most hailed metal bands of our generation promised two albums in the same year, and naturally fans started drooling at the prospect. The first three albums, all in the similar style, delivered a massive range of pounding heavy punk as well as acoustic ballads with the high points being Serj's incredible vocal variety as well as guitarist Darren's inventive and complex solos. From the start the double album project of Mesmerize/Hypnotise was to be Darren's brainchild, with most of the lyrics and music written by him, as well as him taking front seat as lead singer of the band. The question was, could he pull this change in style off?
The answer simply is no. If someone is to take charge of an already legendary rock band to form two albums almost entirely composed by themselves, one would assume that the person has an important political message that they need to convey in the most immediate manner possible. However with Darren taking charge of the lyrics the deepest they seem to go are "Everybody everybody everybody f**ks" from Hypnotise's predesscor, Mesmerize. Gone are the shotgun heavy riffs and pure power behind System of a down, and replaced with light, albeit catchy, melodies. The lyrics which used to hold true political power such as their earlier Prison Song and War! now seem frivolous, unimaginative and bizarre. Anybody who is looking for deeper meaning behind these songs will find nothing - System have lost their claim to being a political band by reeling off song after song with lyrics like "Eat all the grass that you want / Accidents happen in the dark" and "She wants nothing more than to be a little w**re". Lyrics aside, the main high point of the album is the brilliant joint vocal melodies of Serj and Darren. While Darren does not have anywhere near enough talent to push Serj aside and become the new lead singer, he can certainly sing well, and when the two put their voices together the result is extremely impressive.
Bass and drums are pretty much neglected for the main part, Darren taking centre with a variety of interesting guitar compositions. The riffs, while not holding the same quality as old-school System, are still quite inventive, though tiresomely unvaried by the end of the album. That is pretty much what can be said as a whole for this effort - it starts well, and most of the catchier, and in this case better, songs put near the start of the album. Towards the end there seems little to fill the space, and the songs tend towards drug abuse and loneliness. The final song, Soldier Side, connects at the end with the start of Mesmerise, and thus could proven a good note to finish on, however the song is quite boring and the album fades out rather than ending with a bang like Aerials or Streamline.
Overall, with Darren in control the band has suffered musically and lyrically, and while Hypnotise at first seems like it could make up for the below average Mesmerise, by the end it has faded into nothing. And if this new direction is one they will stick to, I can only hope the same for the band itself.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 28, 2013 12:54 AM BST


Sounding The Seventh Trumpet
Sounding The Seventh Trumpet
Price: £8.63

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five 18-year-olds release non-pretentious heavy metal .., 7 May 2005
AVENGED SEVENFOLD - SOUNDING THE SEVENTH TRUMPET
Avenged Sevenfold are a band which completely took me by surprise. My friend said he had missed a show in which they were being supported by 'Funeral for a Friend'; a band I hold in high regard who have next to nothing in common with 'A7X'. They use the familiar metal five piece of dual guitarists, bassist, drummer and vocals. The vocals here are the most striking thing though; M. Shadows can display not only note perfect soft singing such as in the boring piano ballad 'Warmness on the Soul' but a roaring screaming voice that can goes from dangerously deep to piercingly high in seconds. Although not always easy to hear what he's saying this outstanding voice is without a doubt the trademark of the band.
Their debut release holds no faults. The one minute introduction immediately introduces you to what the whole record is about: intricate and powerful guitar work coupled with epic lyrics: "Nothing you say and nothing you try can change time .. human race prepare to die". After this relatively soft introduction is over we zoom into the real meat of the album; chords and drums so fast they are described as punk, yet heavy enough to put any 'Death Metal' band to shame. On first listen you may mistake the band for a generic scream-along outfit like 'The Haunted' or 'Chimera', but if you give it the time it deserves you'll be very pleasantly surprised. The riffs are all note perfect, and there is basically nothing in the way of repetition. Of course there is a general verse-chorus structure (this is not exactly a prog band) but there are many variants on the theme, and you'll find it very hard to predict where a song is going next until you've listened to it several times. On 'An Epic of Time Wasted' the song stops without warning near the end, and after a few lines of Shadow's whispering it ends in a triumphant new riff. The songs also hold a lot of variation. The heavier songs are mostly towards the start, before the softest song 'Warmness on the Soul', which acts as a brief interlude. After that things are more experimental, with 'The Streets' showing off Shadow's non screaming vocal skills, and final track 'Shattered By Broken Dreams' clocking up seven minutes, progressing slowly throughout.
The lyrics vary from what most stereotypical young metal bands sing about. There is some mention of unrequited and painful love, but also philosophical songs about life, standing up for yourself and in 'Darkness Surrounding' .. graveyards. The darkness inherent in the songs is truly chilling, and as their website states it is based on the phrase "What goes around comes around" - whether it be a bad girlfriend or the system, they will get their comeuppance. Sevenfold.


Vaya
Vaya
Offered by MMT-UK
Price: £21.61

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The height of At the Drive-in's career ..., 18 April 2005
This review is from: Vaya (Audio CD)
AT THE DRIVE-IN - VAYA
Commonly known as the height of this Mexican hardcore five piece's career is their third and final album, 'Relationship of Command'. I disagree. This predecessor release, a seven song EP, may be a few tracks short of an album, but we're always taught it's quality not quantity, and this CD is precisely that: quality.
I can't put my finger on the reason, but you couldn't simply add a few more tracks and release this as an album. It's seven songs, no more, no less. While their albums always seem to flow perfectly from start to finish with variation and strength, this is more simply a collection of songs that each stands by itself without question. That is far from a bad thing; packed with jumping riffs, smooth basslines and a good vocal range, every song on this EP is full of its own charms. The cryptic lyrics are back on form with the singalong chorus on opening track 'Rascuache' (however you pronounce that) consisting of the line "Pacemaker pace yourself!" Singer Cedric Bixler Zavala shows off his talent much more than in the shoutathon 'Relationship ..', especially in final track '198d', where his voice is the leading instrument through a slow deep song. Genius guitarist Omar A Rodriguez Lopez is on top form too with memorable upbeat riffs on all the first four tracks. Every track has its own personality, rather than just being a small step in a long album. To release just these seven songs together showcases their brilliance in a better way. The only small letdown is '300 MHz' which suffers from a lumbering chorus. But they're only human.
The varied style here shows much progression from their first punk outing, showing they are unafraid to let their imagination run wild. The only broad genre you can stick this under is 'Rock'; no other word can succeed in labelling it. But who cares about that, just listen to it and that's all you can do.


The Curse
The Curse
Offered by swankers3
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atreyu's second album shows real progression .., 12 April 2005
This review is from: The Curse (Audio CD)
ATREYU - THE CURSE
Atreyu are back. They're back again. They're back. With the follow up to their debut 'Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses', 'The Curse'. There is more of that heavy riffage, but less of those whiney lyrics. This is altogether a more upbeat and stronger record than the first, with the guitars, drumming and vocals having all improved since their last outing. Although this is more mainstream single material, that doesn't at any point compromise it; it's still heavy moshing sounds with Varkatzas's trademark growling sounding just the same as before and his regular audible singing having been fine tuned significantly.
Right from the bullet-speed introduction to live favourite 'Bleeding Mascara' we know we're in for a fast bounding ride. The dual guitars ring effortlessly throughout; the lead handling the high twiddly bits while the rhythm seems to be forever strumming out chords. The same "growly verses, audible chorus" structure has been applied, and the lyrics help the general upbeat feel of the album with love ballads rather than unrequited love ballads. "And I'll never to see the sun again, there's enough light in your eyes" sings Varkatzas cheesily, but it's a welcome break from the pessimism from the first album. On the cover of the album is an unattractive female vampire, and on 'This Flesh a Tomb' he sings "The bite marks on my neck never felt so good" - which is good to hear. The skill of this five piece is unwavering; they never stick too much to the same formula and they can handle the ferocious guitars brilliantly, although this album was made principally for the singing, with few solos. With such fast pace are the first six tracks rushed through that the slow 'The Remembrance Ballad' is a well needed breath of fresh air. After 'An Interlude', an instrumental and the only track where the bass is actually heard at all, it's more heavy riffing and screaming until the end. This loses some of its originality as a few of these songs are quite samey, and you'd be pressed to remember which song is called which near the end.
Putting an album full of pounding heavy upbeat speedy tracks is a good tactic, but there's only so much you can hear without tracks falling from memory. Luckily they decided to put the best track on the album as the last one; the compelling 'Five Vicodin Chased With a Shot of Clarity' is so full of energy and power that it shows a prime example of how to fit pacey melodies with distortion guitars. Overall I think people are going to enjoy this album a lot more than the first, and thus Atreyu succeed in jumping the hurdle of the second album. Carrying on in this vein could eventually get boring; but I'm very curious to see what they produce next.


Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses
Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £9.80

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great riffage from young emocorists ..., 11 April 2005
ATREYU - SUICIDE NOTES AND BUTTERFLY KISSES
Since when did debut albums start being this phenomenal? Surely the first record release would show the least experience and skill; but I guess they've just been practising a lot, as shown by the debut album for emo-core five piece Atreyu. Usually I'm not fond of labels like "emo" and only use them as a general outline for the type of music. This album however, is unashamedly as "emo" as can be. All lyrics are written by the lead singer Alex Varkatzas, and you can't help shake the feeling that the band is simply a vehicle for him to vent his many, many disappointments and miseries. "I wish that someone still loved me" he whines on opening track 'A Song for the Optimists' (which our friend is definitely not). "My arms feel so numb" he complains shortly after. I'm all for bands singing from their heart, and that is obviously what he is doing, melodramatic though it may be. So no complaints here!
His vocal range is quite well tuned, growling his words deep from his throat throughout most verses then showing more audible talent on the choruses. This is especially evident on my favourite track 'At Least I Know I'm a Sinner', where he sings poignantly "My only solace is that one day judgement will come for he wicked." This seems to be the general set-up for most of the songs, but then they all prove the exception to the rule. There is no structure that is stuck to religiously; every song shows a lot of change, progression and ingenuity. The guitar and drum work all seems excellently written, with catchy riffs on basically every song. It's interesting to hear the upbeat chords intertwined effortlessly with the singing through no obvious pattern; and it works perfectly. On 'Someone's Standing on My Chest' the song undergoes all change halfway through, with a booming catchy riff slamming over and over again out of nowhere. I'll let them get away with the comparatively short track listing (ten songs) as they were no doubt exhausted after producing winning melody after winning melody.
I'm not going to over-hype this album to the point of musical genius, but it is undeniably a very good effort for a debut album. If you just want a great, though slightly generic example of metal of this era, then listen attentively. There is more sincerity and soul in this then the follow-up 'The Curse', but both are great purchases if growling heavy melodic metal is your type of thing.


Acrobatic Tenement
Acrobatic Tenement
Offered by meliarecords
Price: £14.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Raw youth with At the Drive-in's debut ..., 11 April 2005
This review is from: Acrobatic Tenement (Audio CD)
AT THE DRIVE-IN - ACROBATIC TENEMENT
The first album release for Mexican hardcore outfit 'At the Drive-in'. This is where it all began, but fans of their later more mainstream work might feel at a loss with the raw material. The band was young at the time, and the debut must not have seemed so groundbreaking at the time, as it suffers from the bad recording quality coupled with a minor record deal.
But does that reduce enjoyment? Only slightly; what may disappoint more so is the general amateur feel of the whole album. Several tracks have repeated sections and slow quiet parts that don't merit that progressive feel, but rather that 'we don't know what to do here' feel. If you heard it before any of the 'At The Drive-in''s later work then at least you'll be pretty touched by the originality of the whole thing. The opening bursts in with a sing song yodel type sound, and then an instant battering of the guitars, and a minute later it's over. Most of the songs are quite short, hence the need to repeat things. But this is far from simply a museum piece showcasing where the rest of their material came from; it has plenty of merits of it's own. See Cedric Bixler Zavala's poetic verses outline typical teenage feelings, like stalking, for example, in quiet ballad 'Initiation'. Whether the lyrics make too much sense or not is irrelevant; the deep emotional soul he pours into his words is heart stopping. About a friend who died in 'Ebroglio' he wails "There are no words to express the loss I feel since you've been away", and on highlight 'Ticklish' he cries "I've been dancing in bathroom stalls excreting words just for this song."
The band's imagination is evident on every track, but at this early stage they lacked the skill to pull off anything too complex. There is nothing in the way of Omar A Rodriguez Lopez's blaring guitar solos and the riffs seem more about hitting the guitar as much as possible. I'm sure live in concert it would sound much nicer, but I guess the band's demise means I'll never know. This is worth the purchase if you liked the other two albums, and personally I think it earns itself a buy regardless.


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