You've seen the best, now check out our least favorite albums of 2016.Read More
2016 is still rolling by, and the albums are getting more diverse. Here's what I've listened to over the last three months (April - June) and links to the albums I've reviewed.
5-Star Albums (8.5 - 10)
- Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool - 10
- Deftones - Gore: 9.5
- Gojira - Magma: 9
- Thrice - Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere: 8.5
- Architects - All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us: 8.5
- Weezer - Weezer (White Album): 8.5
- LIGHTS - Midnight Machines: 8.5
- The Last Shadow Puppets - Everything You've Come To Expect: 8.5
- letlive. - If I'm The Devil...: 8.5
4-Star Albums (6.5 - 8)
- Beyoncé - LEMONADE: 8
- Issues - Headspace: 7.5
- Drake - Views: 7.5
- Swans - The Glowing Man : 7.5
- Meadowlark - Parraffin: 7.5
- Yeasayer - Amen & Goodbye: 7
- Against The Current - In Our Bones: 7
- Ariana Grande - Dangerous Woman: 7
- PUP - The Dream Is Over: 7
- Jon Bellion - The Human Condition: 7
- Modern Baseball - Holy Ghost - 7
- Cult Of Luna & Julie Christmas - Mariner: 7
- Death Grips - Bottomless Pit - 7
- BABYMETAL - Metal Resistance: 7
- Melt Yourself Down - Last Evenings On Earth: 7
- Dark Suns - Everchild: 7
- DJ Shadow - The Mountain Will Fall: 7
- Band Of Skulls - By Default: 7
- The Algorithm - Brute Force: 7
- Flume - Skin: 7
- Olaf Stuut - Run: 7
- Katatonia - The Fall Of Hearts: 6.5
- Nick Jonas - Last Year Was Complicated: 6.5
- Red Hot Chili Peppers - The Getaway: 6.5
3-Star Albums (4.5 - 6)
- JMSN - It Is.: 6
- FAWNN - Galaxies: 6
- Skepta - Konnichiwa: 6
- Islands - Taste: 6
- Mogwai - Atomic: 6
- Beartooth - Aggressive: 5.5
- Explosions In The Sky - The Wilderness: 5.5
- The Goo Goo Dolls - Boxes: 5.5
- Chance The Rapper - Coloring Book: 5
- Desiigner - New English: 5
2-Star Albums (2.5 - 4)
1-Star Albums (0 - 2)
Top Albums Of 2016 (so far)
- Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
- AURORA - All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend
- Panic! At The Disco - Death Of A Bachelor
- Deftones - Gore
- Dream Theater - The Astonishing
- Foxes - All I Need
- Daughter - Not To Disappear
- Gojira - Magma
- Thrice - To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere
- Architects - All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us
Top Songs Of 2016 (so far)
- AURORA - 'Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) (Acoustic)'
- Radiohead - 'True Love Waits'
- Deftones - 'Hearts/Wires'
- Radiohead - 'Daydreaming' *
- Panic! At The Disco - 'Emperor's New Clothes'
- Foxes - 'Better Love'
- Lacey Sturm - 'Rot'
- AURORA - 'Through The Eyes Of A Child'
- Deftones - 'Phantom Bride'
- Thrice - 'Black Honey'
Beartooth's sophomore record Aggressive suffers from follow-up syndrome. The band attempts to channel their raw energy into a collection of twelve monotonous tracks that kills the album at its core.
To its credit, the album does start off with power. The album is introduced on a huge note with title track 'Aggressive', beginning on a gory harmony of clean vocals and throaty screams that kick in full force with a series of jagged riffs. The song has grand choruses enlarged by the aggregation of screams and powerful vocals. The big chorus theme finds itself holding true throughout a good half of the record, 'Fair Weather Friend' following through with massive riffs backing it, as well. The brutal bridge of 'Loser' is groundbreaking, a cavernous riff backing deathly screams. 'Hated' channels Rise Against during the verses, as if the band taking punk and bringing it into the light of post-hardcore.
Unfortunately, after this short run of the first third of the record, things go downhill. The core of the record lacks any meat - the first third had massive riffs with big choruses and grand riffs that had a distinct punch to them. Perhaps the victim of production, the middle section of the record lacks punchiness. On top of the lack of discretion, the album becomes boring at this point. The problem many post-hardcore bands fall into is that after a triumphant intro, they continue to play off the formula of former tracks, leaving no originality outside the first few tracks. Beartooth falls into this trap - I couldn't even tell the song had changed between 'Censored' and 'Always Dead'. The first tastes of originality comes all too late and in the wrong positioning on the album - the closure track 'King Of Anything' is the only song that sounds remotely different from the rest, being only a distorted guitar on top of Caleb Shomo's raspy vocals. It leaves the album off on an unfulfilling conclusion and leaves it sounding empty, as if something big needs to follow up.
Focussing on the lyrics may ruin the album further for you. With such gems as the pre-chorus of 'Rock Is Dead', featuring the line "I'd rather be deaf, I'd rather be dead than bored out of my mind" and the entirety of 'Loser', you're better off focussing on the instrumental. 'Loser' is carried a lot further with the grandness of its riffs, and 'Rock Is Dead' is supported only by the energy of its ironic rock vibe. The latter brings back the loudness found at the beginning of the record, but with only one subpar track to follow, there wasn't much hope at that point anyway.
Beartooth did not find artistic success on this record, sadly. It feels like an album for those who want to believe they listen to big, heavy metal, but in actuality, are actually listening to the same trashy Pierce The Veil chauvinism put to bigger riffs. The album begins well, but just cannot carry itself through to the end. Their debut blows it out of the park, and hopefully their next record will see that light, too.
Favorite Tracks: Aggressive, Loser
Least Favorite Tracks: Censored, Always Dead, Find A Way
If Hot Topic was a genre, Pierce The Veil would be at the forefront of it. The cult band’s long-awaited fourth album Misadventures is probably just what you’d expect from the group: the most cliché, trivial post-hardcore sound you could imagine.
You’d think after being in the game for a decade, Pierce The Veil would have matured in sound, or at least found a firm standing. But no, they’re still as scene as ever. But maybe that’s just their style, developing the scene... scene. This album won’t be doing it any favors, though. It begins promisingly with the guitar arpeggios of ‘Dive In’, but as soon as Vic Fuentes’ vocals kick in, all hope is lost. While the vocals are pretty bad, I have to give credit where credit is due. My only gripe with the vocals really is his tonality; the melody and harmonies are pretty good here. The instrumentation, too, isn’t half bad, if not a bit overly-flashy. It becomes apparent as soon as the chorus kicks in, though, that this album was horrifically mixed. Yes, the instrumentation might be passable, but the mixing gives it no meat, leaving it feeling empty and lacking of any punch.
After the intro, every redeemable feature just goes down the drain. It is followed up by ‘Texas Is Forever’, possibly the worst love song written this entire year. The title makes no sense, either. Lead single (released almost a year ago, at that, too) ‘The Divine Zero’ is horribly cliché, and is just plain uninteresting. The band seems to not be able to write anything original, as seen by songs like ‘Circles’. It’s all been done and said a million times before, which isn’t a bad thing, but the band does nothing to make their pieces original and separated from the rest. In fact, the album gets off of trying to make themselves sound like heavier versions of better bands; ‘Floral & Fading’ is like a terribly mixed, heavier Weezer song. The album’s just horribly bland... by the time it gets to ‘Today I Saw The Whole World’, the album is worse than boring.
The album, for what it’s worth, starts well and ends well, too. Closing out on the only other redeemable track on the album, ‘Song For Isabelle’, was probably the best thing this album could’ve done. It’s not even that great of a song, but its a fresher after the blandness of the rest of. A sweet love song, that, yes, is cliché, but sweet in the cheesy kind of way. If only Fuentes’ vocals were better and they didn’t try to make is a dark and heavy jammer in the bridge (in which they failed in doing), this song might actually be good enough to give the album a single song to go back to.
I can’t say I’m at all surprised that this album is my least favorite of the year. And honestly, I didn’t expect anything more. I knew going into it that I would be faced with top-brand, Hot Topic-core garbage. It tries so hard to sound sincere and emotionally, but it really just isn’t. Let’s hope by their next album, they find something to cling on to to make their sound tolerable...
Favorite Tracks: Dive In, Song For Isabelle
Least Favorite Tracks: everything else