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Saturday, 17 August 2013

Reviews: Five Finger Death Punch, James LaBrie, Buffalo Summer

Five Finger Death Punch: The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell (Prospect Park)

So FFDP have done a Stone Sour and instead of releasing one whole album (or double album) they have decided to release two separate albums. The album itself is made up of 11 tracks with the last three being repeated tracks but with guest vocalists. As far as the band themselves go they are firing on all cylinders from the opening chugging riff and machine gun drumming of Lift Me Up which features the Metal God himself and sounds like Halford's Fight project. The riffs shred like hell on every track with the bass and drums battering you around the head and bringing the groove. This is some of the heaviest material FFDP have released showing that they have rediscovered their anger that was present on their debut see to this though they have also added some heavy grooves, lots of hook filled melodies and some killer solos (all featured on the second track Watch You Bleed), much of the melody comes from the superb voice of frontman Ivan Moody who is a very good singer moving between snarling aggression and lovelorn crooning perfect for the bands muscular ballads as witnessed on Wrong Side Of Heaven. The band do sound revitalised on this record with everything sounding tighter than the top of jar of beetroot, yes there are some filler tracks with Burn MF being one such example of the bands default brand of 'macho metal'. However the band have got some pretty great songs on here with all of the special tracks being superior to the originals I.M.Sin is far more powerful with Max Cavalera providing his gruff bark over the top of it, Anywhere But Here is made ten times better with In This Moment's Maria Brink giving her siren like vocals to it and Dot Your Eyes seems far more like a massive pit starter with Jamey Jasta raging with Moody (despite the horrible lyrics). The most interesting track on the album however is the cover, for a band that have covered Bad Company and Faith No More on previous efforts, a cover of LL Cool J's Mama Said Knock You Out (featuring rapper Tech N9ne) was not really a surprise but how good it actually is was a massive surprise indeed, this could be a FFDP song! So it's a case of a first round knockout for FFDP with this album, bring on round 2! 8/10

James LaBrie: Impermanent Resonance (InsideOut Music)

The Dream Theater frontman comes back with a vengeance with his new solo album and it's very similar to the vibe on his last release Static Impulse blending Gothenburg melodic death metal with LaBrie's signature vocal delivery, he is joined on the vocal front by the melo-death screams of drummer Peter Wiloder who also handles the blast beats that litter this album. From the opening track Agony the scene is set, blistering guitar lines from long time contributor Italian virtuoso Marco Sfogli, the double-kick drum assault and the massive keyboard lines from Matt Guillory who is the co-writer of the album with LaBrie (and was on the previous album). Let's get things straight though this is progressive and it is metal however the only similarity to Dream Theater is that they share the powerful delivery of LaBrie's voice, this solo effort has more in common with bands like Soilwork, whose Peter Wichers contributes guitars and writing, but with the pulsing keys of Guillory the songs also have an element of up and comers Amaranthe which is bolstered by the shared clean and shouted vocals most of the songs have rip roaring metallic battering but on a few tracks LaBrie's penchant for a ballad comes across on Lost In The Fire  and Say You're Still Mine but he still rocks up on Letting Go which has a djent style riff, the stomp of Amnesia and the speed delivery of Undertow. This is another great solo release from James LaBrie who has done well to distance him from his day job while creating a totally new branch of his career without much compromise. This is an old master in a new role and he seems to be revelling in it. The voice is the same but the songs are not, this is a fresh enlightening experience for all DT fans. 8/10   

Buffalo Summer: S/T (Cargo Records/Retrobution Records)

Hailing from South Wales This is Buffalo Summer's debut full length and it is packed with classic blues rock riffs and soul grooves. The band mixes some Black Crowes with some funkadelic riffage of The Electric Boys and a lot of Free to bring together a cool classic rock vibe with lashings of funk and blues. The drums and bass of Gareth Hunt and Darren King pound along with a hard rock groove that holds everything together; they are matched for power by the bluesy riffage of Jonny Williams who contributes the muscular riffs and some dreamy solos and the soulful voice of Andrew Hunt who is a definite highlight. Things kick off with the bluesy She's All Natural which has a killer tone shift in the middle, followed by the soulful Down To The River which has its gospel percussive middle section, songs continue in this groove filled rock vibe bringing to mind the sands of California, this is perfect music for driving with the top down, loads of sing along choruses and some killer solos means that these tracks really swing with a dirty blues vibe witnessed on Rolls On Through which has an almost Extreme-like vibe. Over the course of 10 tracks Buffalo Summer reveal themselves to be a very tight, hard rocking young band with some killer tunes that would be real rip-roarers in the live arena (the call and response of Ol' Duke). A band that are definitely worth checking out both live and on record as this album is an excellent introduction to the bands funk filled blues rock sound, cracking stuff indeed! 8/10 

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