Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) “You Will Eventually Be Forgotten” Album Review

Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate)

You Will Eventually Be Forgotten

By: Sam Boyhtari

9/8/14

The sophomore release of Michigan’s own Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) is challenging, in that it asks listeners to do something that few albums do: to experience a series of very honest, tangible stories. How closely you pay attention to these stories is, of course, up to you, but there is a tremendous amount of emotional depth woven into the eleven tracks of You Will Eventually Be Forgotten, and I find myself returning time and again to experience them all, because the pureness of their telling is beautiful.

The straightforwardness of Keith Latinen’s lyrics is, in many ways, jarring to ingest. As a listener, I expect and prefer, for the most part, a very cryptic style of narration from songwriters—a constant effort to encode what could otherwise be a very plain and uneventful story. You Will Eventually Be Forgotten takes this conception and challenges it at every turn, relatingempire empire very sincerely a group of dark and personal narratives that feel like prose poems read to a very somber and powerful soundtrack.

It is doubtless that this style will likely turn off some listeners, as it initially did me. But as I continued to listen to these songs, so true and unconventional in their telling, I became enthralled by it all: the oscillating nature of the instrumentation, rising and falling with the drama of each story; the unabashed lyrics, boasting little symbolic or metaphoric content to speak of, save to paint more vividly an already clear narrative.

This style of writing does have its downfalls. At times, the lyrics seem forced into the song structure in a way that makes their transference less than dramatic, and the straightforwardness of the content sometimes leaves me yearning for more poetic embellishment—more encrypting. But it’s moments where Keith sings about being stranded in the middle of a lake during a storm, or trying to circumvent a fatal car crash, where this LP shines bright, capturing a level of emotional depth that less honest creations cannot attain. The opening line of the album’s second track, “I almost died at 21,” is one of the most impactful moments of the entire journey, leading into an account of a near-death experience, amidst which Keith proclaims: “my life did not flash before my eyes.” The narration is very powerful, and moments like this outshine some of the less impactful spots on this LP.

You Will Eventually Be Forgotten feels like a collection of journals and photographs, selected tediously and lovingly from a larger cache of untold stories. The narration of these stories may push fans of more convoluted music away, but there are so many powerful moments worth exploring within these songs—these stories—and I am quite glad that Keith and Cathy have chosen to share them with us.

4 out of 5 Lucky Stars

King 810 “Memoirs Of A Murderer” Album Review

King 810

Memoirs Of A Murderer

By: Neil Hazel (@iamneilhazel)

9/1/2014

Listening to King 810’s debut full length album, Memoirs of a Murderer is like stepping into a heavy metal time machine. The 16 tracks are some of the most varied I have heard from any metal band in recent memory. Some tracks invoke some of the 90’s biggest metal bands like Slipknot and Korn, while others show what the future of metal could be.

The album starts with three heavy hitting songs led by “Killem All” that are certain to grab your attention and make you bang you head. Vocalist Dave Gunn displays raw energy and emotion in both his lyrics and vocals that is equal parts intriguing and haunting to listen to. Just when you think you have King 810 figured out, they throw a curveball with “Take It” an acoustic song that is reminiscent of Johnny Cash. King 810 displays their mastery of metal with songs like “Fat Around The Heart”,king 810 pic featuring verses filled with ambient guitars that build into the chorus with hard hitting drums. “Treading and Trodden” is one of the most interesting songs on the album, incorporating subtle electronic elements into the background and vocals. Memoirs of a Murderer is paced by two spoken word tracks “Anatomy 1:2” and “Anatomy 1:3” which display Gunns vocals and nothing else. They are chilling pieces that allow the listener to hear just how enthralling the vocals can be even without music.

Each individual track on the album has stand-out moments that make any one a worthy listen, but when Memoirs of a Murderer is taken as a whole piece, it becomes an entirely different beast. Each track flows into the next both thematically and musically. “Carve My Name” is a slow march to war, that begins with a whispered chant, with a marching drumbeat that slowly grows louder and louder. The song eventually explodes into one of the most brutal parts of the cd, before fading back out. Gunn then recites The New Colossus the inspiring poem displayed on The Statue of Liberty, before “War Outside” begins with a fury of guitars and drums. When the album finally reaches its conclusion in “State Of Nature” it is in almost the opposite place from where it started, a slowed down analysis of the way of the world, played over an acoustic guitar that slowly builds into a full band ballad.

Another important aspect of King 810 outside of their music is their background. All four members were born and raised in Flint, Michigan, one of the most violent and dangerous cities in America. Gunn’s lyrics demonstrate the hardships that he has faced, and the music itself is filled with the struggles of a dying city. Memoirs of a Murderer is a fantastic metal album, and with the diversity in the tracks, it ensures that it is one that is interesting and exciting on each listen. With a debut as ambitious as this, King 810 is a band that every metal fan should pay attention to.

You can see King 810 on tour with Slipknot and Korn, November 29th at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

4.5/5

The New Pornographers “Brill Bruisers” Album Review

The New Pornographers

Brill Bruisers

By: Sam Boyhtari

8/27/14

With their sixth LP, Vancouver’s indie rock icons deliver a fast paced, cohesive experience that stays fresh from start to finish, paying tribute to 80s style synth pop, as well as the Galaga soundtrack.

To those unfamiliar with The New Pornographers, Brill Bruisers may conjure up images of its makers playing stadium shows for thousands of fans, rather than their usual cozy theatres and halls. The album’s sound is remarkably bombastic, even amidst all of the band’s past material. The title track Brill Bruisersslams into listeners, making for an epic introduction to a track list that is both varied and energetic, all of it packed with the charming melodic vocal content that The New Pornographers are adored for.

If you haven’t experienced a New Pornographers record before, each one is a multicolored excursion into the artistic presences of A.C. Newman, Daniel Bejar (See Destroyer) and Neko Case. Each of these musicians offers a unique brand of songwriting, creating a sense of diversity about the band’s records that has appealed to fans since the release of Mass Romantic in 2000. With Brill Bruisers, this sense of artistic diversity is fully present, but even more seamless and fluid. Perhaps even more pleasant and surprising is the heightened interaction of Newman’s niece, Kathryn Calder, who has more of a presence on this LP than Neko Case or Bejar. Since her debut with the band on their 2005 release, Twin Cinema, Calder has continued to grow as a member of The New Pornographers, and this latest release sees her singing almost as much as Newman, often taking over the lead roles while Newman sinks back into the orchestral, synth-riddled textures that define many of these fantastic tracks.

The definite highlights here are the title track, with its fanfare of harmonies and blasting guitars, Bejar’s “War on the East Coast,” which features some of the catchiest vocal work of the entire package and showcases his songwriting wonderfully, and “Dancehall Domine,” a booming pop masterpiece that blends the voices of Calder and Newman to admirable affect.

None of the 13 songs outstay their welcome, each providing a different tone to a very seamless record, but a few of them do seem oddly underdeveloped or stagnant; “Drug Deal of the Heart,” Calder’s feature song, is sadly vacant and uninteresting, and it really doesn’t do her vocal work justice at all, nor does it ever blossom into anything. Similarly, Bejar’s second effort, “Born With a Sound”, is rather straightforward and basic, failing to hold its own amidst the rest of his work with the band. In addition, Neko Case seems strangely absent from most of this record, appearing in only two songs as a lead vocalist, and one other as a secondary singer, which may disappoint fans who are used to her more active participation in past records.

Brill Bruisers is, at its heart, a rock album, and it is enjoyable because it manages to supply a wide array of sounds and pop melodies while remaining fluid and fresh. With this said, there are times when textures seem a bit thin, reduced to chugging guitars and glittering synths that don’t quite fill all the space, but for the most part, all of these songs are extremely rich and entertaining, stamped with the signature sounds of Newman, Calder, Case and Bejar. The New Pornographers’ latest work starts with massive energy and ends in the same fashion, and it is a most welcome addition to their steadily growing legacy as a pop force to be reckoned with.

4 out of 5 Three-Dimensional Bruises

Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival 2014

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Reviews by Lelia Cotton | @rhymeswtequila

Interviews and photos by Lelia Cotton and Matt McCormick | @mccmatt

7.18.14

The Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival may be the heaviest of heavy metal tours this summer has to offer. The main stage had some of the biggest names in the metal game, but it was the smaller stages that truly stole the show. The Coldcock Whiskey Stage was headed by bands like Suicide Silence, Miss May I, Mushroomhead, local band King810 and more.

Suicide Silence Interview by Wxou on Mixcloud

Mushroomhead is known for their wild performances and they certainly drew too large of a crowd for such a small stage. Easily, Mushroomhead deserves a spot on the main stage. 2014 is their 21st year as a band and it’s one to remember. This year alone they have brought back some of the original gang as well as some new key guys. Now, they have three lead vocals.  This is especially important as J Mann has officially rejoined the group just three months ago, after working on their latest album together.

Mushroomhead Interview by Wxou on Mixcloud

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The Righteous and The Butterfly just dropped in May 2014 and has already acquired quick success with Billboard and Hard Rock charts. Skinny claims that getting on those charts was never the goal, but “the people have spoken”. He also claims that this album was their “most honest effort” and they all naturally vibed together. After sitting down together, he said the key to their longevity success was that they’re not rockstars, their artists and they don’t take themselves too seriously. J Mann joining the group after a decade of being gone was not something they had planned, it just fell together perfectly. Their cohesiveness showed clear in the performance as it went off without a hitch. They completely owned the stage with their commanding persona and intensity of the water flying off of their drums. The large crowd was almost too excessive for the stage, as well as their vigor. In comparison to some of the Mayhem lineup, Mushroomhead are legends. They have been in the game for quite some time and their fandom showed so.

Miss May I and Mushroomhead, both from Ohio, brought in big crowds to the Michigan theater. This year was Miss May I’s first tour with the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. Like Mushroomhead, they has also just dropped an album, Rise of the Lion. Rise of the Lion The band got to work with Michigan’s own, Terry Date, who helped produce their album. Terry Date is known for producing albums with bands like Pantera and Deftones. Their set was filled with a heavy style of melodic metalcore riffs. The crowd was lively, taking the heat by any means possible. Rise of the Lion has shown their diverse sound with all new melodies mashed with their original thrust. The fast paced riffs and clean screaming provided the fans to be satisfied. It’s safe to say Miss May I delivered.

Miss May I Interview by Wxou on Mixcloud

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Overall, it was the Coldcock Whiskey Stage that owned the day. As far as reak metal bands go, the smaller stage was was completely packed with true metal bands. This lineup left the stage stacked with metalcore sounds and heavy breakdowns. This stage alone claimed the energy of the crowd and the Mayhem altogether.

Korn Interview by Wxou on Mixcloud

Avenged Sevenfold was the main headliner for this years Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival. While at DTE in Clarkston, MI this Thursday and they brought a whole new level of rock to the amphitheater. The heavy metal music echoed all the way to the very back near the Hilltop Bar.

Avenged Sevenfold (A7X) was hands down the best performance of the night, earning the name of a headliner easily. The dramatics of the warm to cool lighting and fire play truly set the tone for the act. The set list was a perfect mixture of old and new, keeping the massive crowd on their feet the entire time. They opened with “Shepard of Fire” from the latest album, ‘Hail to the King’. Followed by “Nightmare” and the 2005 hit, “Bat Country” off of their third album ‘City of Evil’. The army of a crowd chanted every single word to the older, yet still familiar, tune.

As they were going into their next song of the night, lead vocalist, M. Shadows told a story of why Avenged loves Detroit. He went on to say that when they were first coming around with their second album back in 2003, ‘Waking the Fallen’, no one knew who they were and no one would play their music on the radio. However, one radio station, who remained nameless for some reason, in Detroit was playing it. Shadows went on to say that they will never forget that and will always love Detroit for having great taste in music. With that being said, they wanted to dedicate the next song to Detroit. However, as he was devoting the next tune to our beloved city, his mic went out. Thankfully it was only momentarily, and he continued to introduce their dedication of “Hail to the King” to Detroit. The crowd erupted, as the tune is the #1 single off their latest album.

During the rest of the set it became apparent that after all these year, Avenged still can rock. Shadows baritone vocals have truly evolved over time. Often you hear of bands who do not sound the same or as well when performing live. This is not a problem Shadows has to worry about. Kind of funny for a guy who had apparently lost his ability to scream after a throat surgery in 2003, that never happened. This was a ridiculous rumor that was spread after the band had finished Warped Tour 2003. With that being said, in the ten years after, his vocals have matured with a harsh yet clean vocal feel.

Shadows introduced “So Far Out” and attributed it to the late and great James “The Rev” Sullivan. Sullivan was the band’s drummer, vocalist, and songwriter until 2009 when he unexpectedly passed away due to an overdose of Oxycodone, as well as Cardiomegaly (enlarged heart) that may have played a role in his death. The theater was lit up by the sole light of cell phones and lighters from the stage to the top of the hill. The mellow echo of the lyrics felt meaningful and at that moment if was apparent just how many fans still loved these guys. Which is no wonder why the band won  the “Most Dedicated Fans” award at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards last year.

A7X finished their hour and half long set with a mix of jams between their albums, on a high note. Along with a  three song encore that wooed the crowd with the flames and powerful, show ending drum solo.