‘Radical Waves’ Is A Musical Wave That Stoner Rock Fans Will Enjoy Riding

Courtesy: The Sign Records

The world of stoner rock has produced a variety if notable names throughout its history.  From the likes of Clutch, Queens of the Stone Age, and Fu Manchu, to Fireball Ministry, Kyuss, The Sword and more, stoner rock fans have a lot of bands from which to choose as their favorite(s).  Fans of the genre added another option to that list Friday with the release of Volcanova’s debut album Radical Waves.  The 10-song record will appeal to any fan of the genre in part because of its musical arrangements.  They will be addressed shortly.  The album’s lyrical content works with its musical arrangements to add even more appeal for audiences.  It will be addressed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out is most important elements and will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here does its own key part for the whole of Radical Waves.  All things considered, they make the album a work that stoner rock fans will find radical in itself.

Fledgling stoner rock band Volcanova’s debut album Radical Waves is a good start for the group.  It is a work that will appeal to a wide range of the genre’s fans.  That is due in part to its musical arrangements.  From start to the end of the 42-minute record, the guitar-driven arrangements display all of the trademarks of the stoner rock genre.  The fuzz effect is there in the guitars as is the nuanced effect of the drums, with their heavy, thundering approach and the equally heavy low-end from the bass alongside the gritty, semi-screaming vocals.  That is not all that is exhibited throughout the record’s arrangements.  The noted instrumentation and styles also boasts a clear doom rock influence a la Black Sabbath.  ‘M.O.O.D.,’ which comes late in the album’s run, is one of the most notable of those arrangements that couples the doom and stoner influences.  One could go so far as to argue that the combination of the elements with this heavy, plodding composition is comparable to works from Crowbar.  Front man Samuel Asgeirsson’s vocal delivery couples with the noted heavy, fuzzed guitars, drummer Dagur Atlason’s time keeping and bassist Pornsteinn Arnason’s low-end to make the song’s arrangement a rich, heavy composition.  Asgeirsson’s vocal delivery style is very much like that of Crowbar front man Kirk Windstein and Fireball Minsitry front man James A. Rota.  His stylistic approach on guitar is instantly comparable to works from Queens of the Stone Age, Fireball Ministry, and Kyuss.  Much the same can be said of the drumming style from Atlason.

‘I’m Off’ is another notable of the album’s most notable arrangements.  Where ‘M.O.O.D.’ exhibits doom and stoner influences, ‘I’m Off’ is more of a pure stoner rock composition.  Its driving, fuzzed guitar approach, heavy low-end and drumming is immediately likened to works from Queens of the Stone Age in its own right.  Asgeirsson’s vocal delivery here continues to show that Kirk Windstein type approach.  The end result is a presentation that again will appeal to a wide range of stoner rock fans in its own right.

‘Sushi Sam’ is another way in which the album’s musical arrangements prove their value to its presentation.  Yes, the stoner rock sound that is so evident throughout the album is just as evident here as anywhere else on the record.  What is most important to note here is that while the stoner rock influence is as clear as ever here, the stylistic approach in this work is more of a classic rock vibe than something modern.  The use of the cowbell, the guitar solo and general arrangement gives the song that throwback vibe. There is also something in the song’s production that adds to that sense, considering the sound of the drums and guitars.  This will be addressed later.  Keeping in mind the arrangement here, that of the other songs noted and those of the rest of the album’s songs, the arrangement in whole leave little doubt as to their importance.  They collectively give audiences plenty to appreciate.  The arrangements are but one part of what makes Radical Waves a presentation that stoner rock fans will find worth hearing.  The album’s lyrical content presents its own interest.

The lyrical content featured throughout the course of Radical Waves’ nearly 43-minute run is varied in its own right.  ‘I’m Off’ is one of the most interesting of the song’s lyrical presentations.  Considering what is decipherable without a lyrics sheet to reference, the song comes across as a work that just celebrates having a good time.  Asgeirson leaves little doubt as to that as he sings in the song’s chorus, “We’re gonna get f*****’ wasted tonight.”  He additionally states, “bring a six-pack/Light a cigarette/We’re gonna get f*****’ wasted tonight.”  This critic does not advocate drug and alcohol use of any kind, as a reminder.  That aside, what the band infers overall between this note and the rest of the song’s lyrical content is that noted theme of enjoying life and making the most of a situation.  It is a celebration of sorts, which would explain the high energy in the song’s musical arrangement.  To that end, it will connect with audiences, ensuring their entertainment and engagement in its own right.  It is just one way in which the album’s lyrical content proves important.  ‘Super Duper Van’ is another key addition to the album in regards to its lyrical content.

‘Super Duper Van’ is a full on psychedelic stoner rock song.  While much of the song’s lyics are indecipherable sans lyrics, just enough is understandable that the noted content is clear.  There is a mention here of “eating a mushroom” (I.E. drug use), and “taking a never-ending ride in outer space.”  There is also mention in this song of putting the pedal to the metal and going on a ride across the desert sands.  The song’s companion video adds to the psychedelia with the band going on a ride in a car that they imagine is a van, which apparently goes into outer space after the pair goes on a trip from drinking some kind of liquid.  The group even goes so far as to even eat some moon cheese during the seemingly drug-induced trip.  Simply put, it can be inferred from the video and what lyrics can be understood, that this song is apparently an old school stoner rock work in every sense of the word. It will appeal to the noted listeners, too.   To that end, it shows even more why this album will appeal to its target audience, and is just one more way in which it does so.  ‘M.O.O.D.’ is yet another was in which the album’s lyrical content proves worth examining.

‘M.O.O.D.’ comes across as being a work about people who are not all that they seem.  This is inferred as Asgeirsson sings about the person being “covered in shame and lies/Behind your perfect wall.”  He adds what sounds like, “It’s not at all so sweet.”  The rest of the song’s lyrical content that follows is similar in style, difficult as it is to decipher.  Enough is just barely able to be understood that it helps to further illustrate the noted message.  To that end, the song will connect with listeners in its own way, too.  Between this song’s lyrical content, that of the other examined songs and of the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of that content proves to offer its own share of engagement and entertainment for audiences.  It still is not the last of the album’s most notable elements.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements.

The production of Radical Waves is an interesting aspect.  That is because it is both good and bad.  It is good in that considering how much is going on throughout each song, it is clear painstaking efforts were taken to balance everything.  For the most part, the instrumentation was handled well through the production.  None of the instruments overpowers the other at any point.  On the other hand, the vocals many times sounded washed out and airy.  Asgeirsson’s vocals are difficult to understand at time as a result of this approach.  It sounds like in many cases, that airy effect was intentional.  And if in fact that was the case, it was a bad effect to use.  At other times, it feels like the vocals just blend in too much with the instrumentation.  Now all of this is not to say that the production is a loss.  Again, the balance of the guitars, bass and drums works relatively well here.  It is just that one aspect of the vocals and how they are joined with the instruments.  All of this in mind, it makes the album’s production at least somewhat of a positive to the album’s presentation.  When this is considered along with the album’s overall content, it all comes together to make the album a presentation that stoner rock fans will agree is worth hearing at least once.

Volcanova’s debut album Radical Waves is a positive start for the up-and-coming band.  It is a presentation that stoner rock fans will find worth hearing at least once.  That is due in part to its musical arrangements.  The arrangements exhibit more than just a stoner rock sound and style.  They also display doom rock influences to varying degrees throughout the album.  The album’s lyrical content will generate its own interest among listeners.  The record’s production adds to its interest even being slightly flawed.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this album.  All things considered they make Radical Waves a musical wave that stoner rock fans will enjoy riding at least once.  Radical Waves is available now through The Sign Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at http://www.facebook.com/volcanova.

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Zodiac’s “Sonic Child” Is Another One Of 2014’s Most Surprisingly Enjoyable Pure Rock Records

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records/Napalm Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records/Napalm Records

When Prosthetic Records added Zodiac to its roster two years ago, it went without saying that doing so was something of a gamble for the label.  It was such a gamble because much like Century Media, Metal Blade, Roadrunner, and others, Prosthetic is known more for the “extreme metal” bands that make up its roster than for the likes of the Munster, Germany-based band.  That’s not to say that Prosthetic sticks primarily to that more extreme sound.  Acts such as Niacin and Felix Martin both stand out among Prosthetic’s other acts.  Zodiac however has become the label’s most commercially viable band since Lamb of God was signed on with the company.  Zodiac’s mix of blues-based and neo-stoner rock has helped the band to stand out among its label mates ever since the release of its 2012 Prosthetic Records debut A Bit of Devil.  Now with its third full-length studio effort, Zodiac has one again set itself apart from its label mates and grown just as much musically.  From the slow blues-based opener ‘A Penny & A Dead Horse’ to the more up-tempo neo stoner rocker that is ‘Holding On’ to the equally catchy closer ‘Swinging on the Run,’ this record proves to have not one bad moment.  It proves to be one of the year’s most surprisingly enjoyable rock records and one that any rock purist should hear at least once.

Sonc Child, Zodiac’s third full-length studio effort, is by and large the band’s best work to date.  With its mix of blues-based and neo-stoner rock sounds, this record proves to be one that every rock purist should hear at least once.  Right off the top, the band grabs listeners without really trying in the album’s opener ‘A Penny and a Dead Horse.’  The twelve-bar blues churned out in the song’s “A” section conjures thoughts of Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, and so many of the forefathers of the blues.  Anyone that is a fan of Fireball Ministry, Black Stone Cherry, and other bands of that ilk will enjoy the more straight forward neo-stoner rock sound of the song’s “B” and “C” sections.  Lyrically, the song is just as enjoyable.  Vocalist Nick van Delft sings about an unnamed woman that has left a man, and left him with basically nothing.  Thus the song’s title.  van Delft sings of the woman, “Oh, woman/Where have you gone with that/Pot of gold/Oh, woman/Where have you gone/You had to leave me/Before the break of dawn/Somebody been haunting you/Somebody run you down/Over the yonder/Beyond the fields/Someone call your name/Oh, woman/Where have you gone/Sweet darlin’/You left me to die alone/With a penny and a dead horse.”  van Delft paints such a vivid picture thanks to the way in which he sings these lines.  The gradual tempo increase as the song progresses makes that picture just as vivid.  The picture goes from a man sitting alone in the darkness, perhaps drinking from a bottle of cheap whiskey to someone who feels something stronger as he and his band mates sing, “So long, so long” in the chorus.  The song’s final strains exhibit perhaps the man’s collapse.  This is of course just this critic’s own interpretation on the song.  Audiences can check out the song’s official video online now at the Prosthetic Records website at http://store.prostheticrecords.com/products/531769-zodiac-sonic-child-cd.  While there, audiences can also order Sonic Child, which was just recently released at the end of September.

‘A Penny & A Dead Horse’ is a wonderful addition to Sonic Child. It is also just one excellent example of what makes this album such a surprisingly enjoyable record.  ‘Holding On’ is another solid example of why this record proves to be such a surprisingly enjoyable rock record.  Where the album’s opener almost tells its own story, ‘Holding On’ is more of a straight-forward rock song.  It harkens back to rock and roll’s golden era much like Black Stone Cherry, Fireball Ministry, and others of that ilk.  van Delft sings against drummer Janosch Rathmer’s solid timekeeping and fellow guitarist Stephen Gall’s own work, “What is the point of your life/Your life/All covered up in those eyes/Those eyes/So now free mind/You’re one of a kind/Take a hold of the good things/And give sight to the blind/Tell me the one thing you see/Tell me the one thing you know/Show me the one thing you live for/Holding on.”  This set against the song’s opening verse in which van Delft sings, “Time keeps on ticking/Revealing your patience/It’s only a matter of self-defense/Eager to please/Your only disease/It’s just the weight on your mind/A day of your life/A step on your way to return” makes the song especially interesting.  There is a seeming message about each one of us having a meaning in life and it being just a matter of finding that meaning.  Again, that could be completely wrong.  Hopefully it is right, though.  Regardless, the very fact that it could lead to such deep thought serves to make this song all the more enjoyable.  The guitar solo in the song’s final movement adds even more enjoyment to the whole work.  Between that impressive guitar work, the deep, thoughtful lyrics and the overall talent displayed here, ‘Holding On’ shows again why any rock and roll purist should give this record at least one listen.

Zodiac shows throughout the course of its latest full-length release why this record is just as good as any album released by its bigger-named counterparts.  That is evidenced in the songs previously noted here.  From its more blues-tinged rock to its more neo-stoner sound, there is not one moment that disappoints on this record.  There is almost something of a more modern rock and roll influence in the album’s closer ‘Swinging on the Run.’  Much like the album’s opener and other tracks on this disc, ‘Swinging on the Run’ is not one for anyone with a short attention span.  This track clocks in at just over six minutes.  It’s not the album’s longest work.  that honor belongs to the aptly titled ‘Rock Bottom Blues.’  That song comes in at just over the nine minute mark.  And anyone that is a fan of the likes of The Allman Brothers Band will especially enjoy this piece with its smoky, old school blues-rock sound.  Getting back to ‘Swinging on the Run,’ audiences can clearly hear influences from the likes of The Allman Brothers Band, Cream, The Doobie Brothers, and so many others that have come before as the song progresses.  It shows a good song doesn’t necessarily always need lyrics to be enjoyable.  that being the case, it makes perfect sense why it was chosen as the band’s final statement on this record.  It leaves audiences knowing that they have experienced something very special.  It leaves listeners knowing that along with those tracks noted here, and the remaining seven not noted, they have in Sonic Child an album that is just as deserving of respect from rock purists as any album released by the band’s more well-known counterparts.  And given the right support from listeners and radio programmers alike, it could become just as big a record as those released by said bands.

Sonic Child is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from the Prosthetic Records online store at http://store.prostheticrecords.com/products/531769-zodiac-sonic-child-cd.  More information on Sonic Child and all of the latest updates from Zodiac is available online at:

Website: http://www.zodiac-rock.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Zodiac.Rock

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Atlanta Based Hard Rock Band As Raucous And Irreverent As Ever On Its Latest LP

Courtesy:  Steamhammer/SPV Records

Courtesy: Steamhammer/SPV Records

Nashville Pussy front man Blaine Cartwright and his wife Ruyter Suys (pronounced Rider Sighs) have spent nearly two decades making hard rock for the masses.  While the husband and wife duo have largely stayed just under the radar that whole time.  That hasn’t deterred them, either.  The pair (with their latest band mates) is set to release the band’s sixth full length studio release later this month. Up The Dosage is scheduled to be released Tuesday, January 21st via Steamhammer/SPV Records.  And it goes without saying that this new record shows Cartwright and company have not lost any steam over the course of their careers.

It goes without saying that Up The Dosage is a fitting title for the latest release from Blaine Cartwright and company.  The band has continued on this record, its long-standing tradition of crafting some of the most raucous and irreverent rock songs that the music world has ever heard.  The album’s opener, ‘Everybody’s Fault But Mine’ is a prime example of this.  Musically speaking, its sound is similar to bands the likes of Fireball Ministry, Black Stone Cherry and others of that ilk.  Its lyrical side makes it even more enjoyable.  It comes across lyrically as a proverbial middle finger to all those that would want to blame others for their problems.  Imagine Hatebreed’s ‘Defeatist’ only aimed in a different musical direction.  Audiences will hear that for themselves as Cartwright sings, “If you see me coming/You’d best get out of my way/Cause I don’t wanna know you/You’ll just lead me astray/If the world comes crashing down/I’ve left it far behind/If I don’t make it to the top/It’s everybody’s fault but mine.”  If indeed Cartwright and company were intending a certain sharp commentary with this song, then message well received.  There are people everywhere like the individual portrayed in this song.  They are the typical “oh-woe-is-me” type that refuses to stand up and take responsibility for their own actions and the results of said actions.  Considering the history of Nashville Pussy, this is the perfect re-introduction for fans of the band that are more familiar with its material.  On the other hand, it is just as welcome an introduction for anyone that might be less familiar with the band’s catalogue.  And it’s only one of so many stand out songs that the band shares on this record.

If ‘Everybody’s Fault But Mine’ doesn’t grab audiences right off the bat, then the adrenaline-fueled song that follows definitely will prove the band’s reputation.  That song is ‘Rub it to Death.’  Musically speaking, this is a song that bears quite the Motorhead style influence.  Lyrically, it is everything that has made certain groups hate rock and roll since its early days. There is mention of both sex and drugs throughout the song that comes in at just under three minutes.  Of course so much of said material is so explicit that it can’t be reprinted here.  That content aside, ‘Rub it to Death’ is still another great addition to this record when one puts the song’s high-energy musical side next to the more adult lyrical themes.  Simply put, it’s a good fit for anyone that is a fan of Hank III.

The energy and themes established early on in Up The Dosage barely lets up as the band makes its way through the course of the thirteen tracks that comprise the album’s standard edition.  On a side note, the album will also be available in an extended edition that includes two bonus tracks.  The one time when things take a different direction–albeit a slight one at best–is on the album’s shortest song, ‘Taking It Easy.’  The song comes in at just under a single minute.  To be more precise, it clocks in at just forty-seven seconds long.  Things take a different turn here primarily in that Cartwright’s wife takes over vocal duties.  And instead of singing about sex, drugs, and rock and roll, she sings about taking a break from said topics.  She sings, “What are y’all doing on a Saturday night/I’d rather be sleeping than getting in a fight…you rock it all over like a heavy metal beast/You know you got’s to/takin’ it/takin’ it easy.”  The real irony of the song is that for a song that is about…well…taking it easy, it is quite the adrenaline-fueled anthem.  That juxtaposition alone makes it well worth the listen.  Add in the fact that it is able to say so much and make such a hard-hitting impact in such a short span of time, and audiences get a song that is far less simple than it seems on the surface.  It’s one more of so many songs that audiences new and old will appreciate on this album.

Fans overseas will get to hear even more of the band’s music beginning at the end of the month when it kicks off its European tour.  The first date on that tour is Thursday, January 30th at Le Forum in Vauxreal, France.  The latest list of the band’s tour dates is available on the band’s official website, http://www.nashvillepussy.com.  Fans can also keep up with the band via Facebook and Twitter at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nashville-Pussy/13091707669 and http://twitter.com/bashfulpuppy.

KingShifter’s Debut LP Takes The Top Spot As 2013’s Top New Hard Rock Record

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment/Pavement Music

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment/Pavement Music

2013 has been a good year for hard rock and metal.  New releases from the likes of Holy Grail, Black Sabbath, and Sevendust have made this a great year for the metal masses the world over.  Now with the release of its debut full length LP via Pavement Entertainment, Wichita, Kansas based KingShifter has just made the hard rock landscape that much more interesting.

KingShifter’s debut full length release, 26 Tons is an aptly titled record.  This eleven-track record is a heavy-hitting wrecking ball of hard rock.  From start to finish the album’s energy lets up only once.  That one time is in the near minute and a half acoustic piece, ‘.00125 lbs. (The Year of the Rat).  Other than that single moment, every other song on this record makes it one of the best debut records from a rock band (either mainstream or indie) in a very long time.  Its combination of hard hitting guitar licks, drums, and equally scathing lyrics make it a record that any purist metal head will appreciate.  And it all starts early on in the form of, ‘Revolution Generation.’  Front man Sprout sings about what’s happening to the country today.  From the epidemic of companies and doctors working together to sell their drugs, to the issue of school violence, Sprout runs the gamut.  Along the way he and his band mates wave a defiant musical flag declaring, “If we don’t do anything now/We’re soon to be doomed/We’ve got to stand strong/We shall not be moved/We are Americans/And we have proof/That we survived/The taxes, fiscal cliffs, and all of the wars/We’re here to tell you now/We won’t take it anymore!”  The song’s declaration of pride and self-empowerment is a call to arms and an anthem for a whole new generation.  And given the right support, could very well be the opening salvo in what breaks this band into the mainstream.

If ‘Revolution Generation’ isn’t enough example of what makes this a solid debut from KingShifter, then perhaps the equally hard rocking and defiant (yet far shorter) ‘STFU (& Die Already)’ will.  This punk styled piece comes in at just under two minutes long.  In that short time, this song hits just as hard as ‘Revolution Generation’ and any of the album’s other songs.  It is an intense song that goes after the news media—Sprout sings, “Television/I wanna burn it down”—and all of the negativity that clots television today.  In connection, he notes in no uncertain terms the effect that television has on people and his displeasure on the matter.

KingShifter’s debut record has plenty of social commentary and hard rock.  For all the commentary that it offers, there is some lighter material on this record, too.  Case in point, ‘Downin’ Booze – Raisin’ Hell.’  This song is a party song.  It’s an anthem for the blue collar workers across the country.  The influence from hard rock supergroup HellYeah is quite obvious both lyrically and musically in this song.  This is clear in the song’s second verse as Sprout sings, “I’ve been inside/Of this dirty cage/Locked inside for five whole days/I’ve gotta ease my mind/And leave that bulls*** behind/This ******’s gonna go on a rage!”  With such high energy lyrics and equally high energy music, this song is more than certain to become just one of so many fan favorites and fan anthems both on KingShifter’s record and at its live shows. 

The songs noted here are just a few examples of what listeners can expect from Kingshifter’s upcoming debut record.  There is much more that audiences will appreciate throughout the album.  So much more could be written of 26 Tons.  But to do so would require more time and space than is available.  Simply put, given the chance by radio programmers and by Pavement Entertainment, 26 Tons could make Kingshifter one of the next big names in hard rock.  The album will be available in stores and online Tuesday, September 3rd.  Fans can hear just some of the band’s music now online at the band’s official Reverb Nation page, http://www.reverbnation.com/kingshifter.  There’s even a music video from the band on its page, too.  Audiences can also check out the band’s music on its official MySpace page, http://www.myspace.com/kingshifter.  And to keep up with all of the latest news from the band, fans can follow the band on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KingShifterRock and on its official website, http://www.kingshifter.com

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