2021 New(ish) Releases Roundup:

I haven’t been blogging with as much regularity as I previously would in previous years, but I have never stopped listening to music.


Here is an overview of my thoughts on some albums that I probably would have blogged about already in previous years (and may still do so in the future) but haven’t had time to go into much detail on yet, a sort of mixture between a blog-digest, a preview of future blogs and a deleted scenes all rolled into one:

1. Iron Maiden – Senjitsu – 2021 – I have tried with this album, but at the end of the day it is just pretty dull, boring and forgettable. I love ’80s Maiden as much as the next guy, and I am partial to Brave New World and half of Dance Of Death (some of their all time best songs are on it, the album as a whole just isn’t as good as the best songs) and a few tracks here and there off every album since. However, this one just bores me. I don’t know why, Bruce is still a good singer, all three guitarists still make pleasant, impressive solos, Nicko is still Nicko. Its just that its incredibly unmemorable. I find myself tuning out. I can barely listen to it in one go, and if a track from it comes on when I’m listening to things on shuffle, its not like I dislike that song, but I would never go out of my way to put it on of my own volition. A perfectly fine album technically, but it just doesn’t excite me in any way.

2. Exodus – Persona Non Grata – 2021- I am an absolute mark for Exodus, always have been. This album is as good as, if not better than the last few. Exodus can just do no wrong in my eyes. That is not to say this is actually crap and I just rep for them blindly, this is a damn good album, as good as if not better than the last few Testament, Death Angel, Kreator and Annihilator albums that I’ve been drooling over. One of the true kings of Thrash, and still as good now, if not better than any ’80s band can reasonobly be expected to be in the modern age. Very much the theme here: “as good as, if not better than” any measure of expectation.

3. Limp Bizkit – Still Sucks – 2021- Fun for the first listen, but no real staying power. I’d advise one or two nostalgia listens, but its not really worth much time otherwise.

4. Mastodon – Hushed & Grim – 2021- A double album from one of my all-time favourite bands? What could go wrong. I usually adore Mastodon (its probably harder to find a picture of me between 2006-2012 without a Mastodon t-shirt than with them) but this album has left me a bit cold. Its a bit repetitive, uninspiring and forgettable. My feelings are very much in line with my feelings on Senjitsu – take any song in isolation and there’s nothing explicitly wrong with it, but the album just doesn’t stir any true excitment in me.

5. Deftones – Ohms – 2020 – Brilliant, but I need to listen to it more to articulate why.

6. Architects – For Those Who Wish To Exist – 20201- Not as good as the last 3 albums, but still pretty good. If I had one criticism, its maybe a bit too long, but unlike Senjitsu or Hushed & Grim it is at least memorable and not too repetitive. Its also a bit emotionally easier to listen to than their previous 2-3 albums as it doesn’t have all the impending death and post bereavement lyrics, so its a bit more cheery (apart from you know, the impending climate disaster) but then also, a lot less affecting. If you are in the mood for a less-grim Architects this is a nice change of pace, even if their emotionally devastating previous albums are technically better art.

7. Powerwolf – Call Of The Wild – 2021- just plain good fun. Silly, easy-going, enjoyable, tounge-in-cheek good-times Power Metal. If you’re having a stressful day, its nice to forget your problems and just sing dopey melodic bombastic nonsense like “Undress To Confess” and “Dancing With The Dead”

8. Hatebreed – Weight Of The False Self – 2020 – Pretty good, but more or less exactly the same as the last two albums. I could see some fans tuning out as its all got a bit formulaic at this point, but what a formula!

9. Korn – The Nothing – 2019 – Born of bereavment, this is probably their most emotional and depressing album to date, and that’s saying something for a band made famous for litterally crying about actual childhood abuse on record. Its certainly a very interesting listen, even if it isn’t fun.

10. Harlott – Detritius Of The Final Age – 2020- an absolutely monsterous record. If you like modern day Kreator, this is essentially a straight up rip off of that sound (in the nicest possible way) but unlike some bands who steal other band’s homework, it isn’t just a pale immitation, this is genuinely great stuff.

Bring Me The Horizon – Amo Review

Bring Me The Horizon are a very weird band. They have early albums with blast beats and death growls and their latest album is basically a pop music album with barely any guitars. That’s a pretty diverse discography, and if you bought and liked one and then picked up the other without any prior knowledge, you would be understandably confused, and possibly distressed. There was a very natural evolution over time, with different fans getting on and getting off the train at different points, but still.There’s a song on this album called ‘Heavy Metal’ which cleverly calls this out, and the chorus is basically variations on ‘’this shit aint heavy metal …and that’s alright.’’ – This very much sums up my feelings.

Now; my favourite BMTH album is probably the heavy, exciting and savage sophomore album, Suicide Season. The sound of that record is much closer to death metal and metalcore than pop music. However, with each new album the band have broadened their horizons and changed their focus so much that when they dropped the controversial Amo in January 2019, it made sense.

There are a few nuggets of the band’s older energy, such as the lead singles ‘’Wonderful Life’’ and ‘’Mantra’’ (the former of which has a guest vocal from Dani Filth!) as well as ‘Sugar, Honey, Ice & Tea’. However, where the album really shines is when they go full on radio pop.

My favourite song on the album for example is ‘Medicine’ which feels like something you’d hear in a clothes shop nowadays, and other highlights include ‘Nihilist Blues’ which sounds like something they’d play in a nightclub scene in a sci-fi videogame and ‘Why You Gotta Kick Me When I’m Down?’ which sounds like an advertisement for some trendy car-chase movie. It gives me a peak into musical worlds I normally have no exposure to or interest in and as such, is nice for the unique place it has in my music collection.

I don’t think I would have gotten into this band at all if this was the sort of music they’d always played. If I heard almost any song off this record and it was a new band, I don’t think I would explore any further, but since I’ve been following the band for years and years, it was nice to unexpectedly end up here. I don’t own any other music that sounds like ‘Fresh Bruises’ outside some electronic tinged remix bonus tracks from singles and digipaks in the Nu Metal era.

I guess it may sound a bit bizarre next to tracks from Count Your Blessings or Suicide Season in a playlist, but there’s no denying it is catchy. Maybe watching too much Teen Mum UK with my wife has exposed me to too much contemporary pop music, but ‘Mother Tongue’ is one of the catchiest new releases from any band I like in 2019.

As I, and I’m sure many other reviewers as cliched as me will have already said, (it really is low hanging fruit), Amo ‘aint heavy metal, but that’s alright.

Flaw – Vol. IV Because Of The Brave Review

I really enjoyed the 2001 debut album Through The Eyes from Kentucky Nu Metal band Flaw, they were always one of the more underrated bands from that particular subgenre and the quality of their debut is up there with any of their more famous peers. I saw them live in 2002 and they were really good. Maybe the market was just saturated, at the time, maybe they didn’t get the right exposure, who knows? Maybe the manager didn’t land them the right tour…who knows? All I know is it sure as hell wasn’t for lack of brilliant songs that they aren’t as big as they should be. The follow up, Endangered Species was pretty good, but it came out when Nu Metal was falling off the map and hardly anyone heard it. I wanted it but didn’t ever find it in any music stores at the time, and this was before the internet was an obvious way to get albums. I’m sure you could, but I didn’t think of it yet.

Cut another 15 years forward to 2019, the band have gone through line-up changes (Wikipedia lists 19 ex-members, that’s up there with Cradle Of Filth and Annihilator for turnover), solo albums, a self-produced album and a reunion/comeback. The second album since their comeback, Vol. IV Because Of The Brave is now out, and it reminds me once again what a solid and dependable band Flaw are. It reminds me what an excellent vocalist Chris Volz is.  It reminds me how entertaining Nu Metal can be when its done right.

It’s a decent album. 35 minutes, doesn’t overstay its welcome. Fair production job. Good solid songs. A typically excellent vocal performance from Chris Volz. There’s also a few surprises. ‘Wake Up’ for example sounds a bit more like Korn than Flaw. The album closer, ‘Lest We Forget’ is pretty interesting too. Its sort of mid paced alternative metal with spoken word kind of reminds me a tiny bit of what Queensryche were doing on American Soldier.

Highlights include the opening one-two punch of ‘Persistence’ and ‘Walk The Line’ as well as single ‘Conquer This Climb’ (which seems to be a bit more modern and almost slightly Djent flavoured for the first few seconds before it turns to the classic Flaw sound – but with a rather tasty guitar solo).

If you have any inclination to check out Flaw for the first time, then obviously, go for their by now classic debut first. This is good but its not as good as the first two albums. But if you are a fan you can relax knowing the band are still here, still putting out music, and aren’t disappointing. Overall; A welcome addition to the Flaw catalogue, if you are into that sort of thing (which I certainly am).