On their now 6th record, the boys in Norma Jean have reached a turning point. Around this time in a band’s lifespan, we start seeing whether or not they’re going to stay relevant in the long-run, though there are certainly exceptions, most people have already formed their opinions. Though always very good, solid, and consistent, this band never had a record that truly defined their strengths in every positive light, but that has forever changed. Wrongdoers is everything everyone wanted, and everything the band wanted to make. Furious, ass-kicking, beautiful metal that was no small feat to accomplish. The best part of this record is that the sound is finally riding that line between dissonance and melody perfectly. Like a great whiskey, many things get better over time; and these southern gentlemen have created a record that does that analogy true justice.
Let’s face it, no one saw this coming. Bring Me The Horizon has always been a band of less-than-stellar reputation for, in many respects, being bland; but not this time. After much build-up and clever marketing, Sempiternal ended up being a bigger surprise than expected, flooring audiences with Oli Sykes’s newfound vocal prowess and gigantic stadium-ready musicianship. This record is thunderous. Unless you’re still stuck in the 2006 scene-hair days, this record will certainly impress you in some fashion; whether in sheer emotional honesty (“And The Snakes Start To Sing”) or power (“The House Of Wolves”). Honestly, I’m not sure if this band can top this record; but that kind of thinking only allows me to be even more impressed when they do it, because after this kind of success, I have a feeling the group is only on the cusp of its real potential.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure this record was even going to come out this year; but surprises like these are always best when unprepared for. My Epic, a progressive christian rock band, has always confidently channeled unbridled beauty with crushing instrumentation in a duo that casts a massive fire. After the successes of 2010’s Yet and 2011’s stripped down Broken Voice, the group was sure to do something spectacular, but not like this. Simply put, this record is everything it should have been, and more. Every aspect of it is nothing short of spectacular; the way it rises (“Hail”) and falls (“Approach”), exhales (“Selah”) and inhales (“Confession”), it is truly a swelling in your chest that feels nothing less than wonderful. Behold is undeniably one of the best records of the past few years, and is certainly worth your time.
Some bands know they’re on their way out before they even put together their final foreseeable record, and having that understanding can truly shape any end result when submersed. Moving Mountains is a band that understands rock and roll without any of the filler, and their final effort Moving Mountains was even more stripped down, but without shaving an ounce of content. Their most powerful work was at their most vulnerable, such as in the restlessly dramatic “Hudson,” or the perfectly contoured “Seasonal.” Ultimately, true maturity as a band is realizing that pushing it to 11 doesn’t necessarily always mean volume, and the stunning musicianship that is abundant is nothing less than satisfying. Here’s to hoping these gentlemen come back someday.
Bold and caustic, letlive’s primary goal was honesty, and it has been all along. Fake History, 2010’s massive success, drew widespread attention to the band in all of the right ways, but when pushing every envelope to the extreme, what’s next? The band went back to the drawing board and threw many of the original concepts out of the window. The Blackest Beautiful is a victorious, emphatic, poignant work of art best understood of as a whole. Whether it’s Jason Aalon Buter’s ferocity and cut-throat vernacular, Ryan Johnson’s bass lines that are cut from the funk rock mold, or the Jean/Jeff guitar powerhouse that bring to life all of the emotive foundation; the band truly understood their next place in the world and this record represents that in every imaginable way. Politically, socially, and psychologically conscious – jaw-dropping doesn’t even cover it.
Most Anticipated: Brand New