Fever 333: Strength In Numb333rs (Roadrunner Records/333 Wreckords Crew)
Capricious passion spills from every aspect of Fever 333. Unsurprising, given their lineup consists of members from Letlive, The Chariot and Night Verses. Together they create a powerful blend of metal, alternative and rap which is just as socially conscious as it is uplifting. My praise may seem odd, considering my apparent habit of complaining about rap or nu-metal albums, which are either poorly written, performed or in some cases, both. Strength In Numb333rs possesses neither of these problems, emanating a revitalized desire for change, both in a political and musical sense. We hear the sound of chanting, a crackly news bulletin blares out, reporting on ‘’a raucous yet focussed gathering, brought together to boistrestly demand change’’.
From this raucous prelude, we burst into BURN IT, where the sound of splicing synths creates tension, a juggernaut bass riff leads the charge, and the exchange between melodic hooks and passionate rapping proves a fiery combination! ‘I got a mind like Malcolm, and hands just like Ali, Black Panther, white mother, you best not try me’ Butler screams here, making sure no one questions Fever 333’s political principles. Animal shows the same sense of fierce defiance, its sporadic changes and glorious rising and falling, stimulating images of people coming together in solidarity, regardless of difference. The same praise could be paid to Prey For Me, which brings the melody to the forefront until a random chant of ‘you’re not the only one, who feels like the only one’ proves that true to their word, these musicians can disrupt normal service and continue to be enthralling. ONE OF The US and The Innocent are some of the most powerful anthems on the entire record, confronting inequality and segregation, with acerbic satire in the vein of ‘‘Another one in jail, another young black male, he kinda looks like me/ A law you did not make is gonna seal your fate.
Like you had no voice like you got no choice but we the remedy." Despite being more sombre and reserved, Inglewood is just as moving: "Centinela hospital where I was born to die, That is of course if it doesn’t get to gentrified" our frontman muses, wrenching at the listener's emotions as he describes in vivid detail, the ghettoized suburban lifestyle he was born into. These moments, among others, elevate this above a collection of protest songs and into a sincere and honest emotional experience. A striking feature of this debut full-length is that each subsequent listen feels more affecting, real and heartfelt. Fever 333 themselves are trying to do more than making a statement by donating a percentage of the revenue from their concerts – or demonstrations, as they refer to them – to local charities. Music has inspired and empowered them, Believe me, after your second, third or fourth listen to Strength In Numb333rs, you may feel the same way! 9/10
Puppy: The Goat (Spinefarm Records)
On a surface level, Puppy is your prototypical punk rock act, combining power chords with flagrant energy and fast-paced tempos. Look again though, and their wonderful knack for melody stands out. True, these songs are as sneering and ironic as the cover art – a lush pink, emblazoned with a skull – may suggest. Indeed, there has been significant hype surrounding The Goat from within what remains of the DIY punk community, Regardless, this London originating trio know their way just as well around a danceable jaunt as they do a mosh inspiring rocker! Black Hole confidentially opens proceedings. A sudden hit to the drums is immediately followed by a crunchy riff that is almost reminiscent of grunge-era griminess. Suddenly, a chorus emanating classic rock vibes gives birth to the realization of just how well Puppy bring together brashness with catchiness.
The same principle is continued onto the boisterous Vengeance - a song which certainly lives up to its title when it is assaulting your eardrums with ferocious distortion, yet not so much when it adopts a rock n roll swagger. Refusing to become generic, however, Poor Me throws a spanner in the works, changing the formula to resemble a stamping style of metal, proving different yet enthralling. Developing on the weird cross-section of styles we have seen so far, Just Like You poses the potential for metalheads punks, and pop fans come together in one giant circle pit of musical unity. The same could be said for the visceral And So I Burn, the retro feeling World Stands Still, or the raucous Bathe In Blood. Every song on this album plays a part in making up an experience which is both intriguing, and incredibly enjoyable.
True, the militant divisions between punk and rock fans disappeared a long time ago, with the birth of alternative and the spawning of several more subgenres, practically erasing sectarianism. Puppy reminds me of all my favorite alternative and power pop acts, yet copies none of them. Of all the bands I have discovered in my time writing for this blog, these will undoubtedly be one of those I continue to enjoy on a regular basis 8/10
Breathe Atlantis: Soulmade (Arising Empire)
Playing alternative with an enthusiastic sense of melody, and atmospheric touches, Soulmade certainly have a potential shot at the mainstream. I don’t mean that in a cynical way, not much anyway. These musicians just possess a slickly produced and arena-sized sound which utilizes emotional anthemic nature to its advantage. Soulmade is strong guitar driven yet also deceptively accessible. Take the opener, Supernova. A light patter of synths set the atmosphere before Schiesewitz Pop R&B inspired vocals to help to change the mood, leading up to a chorus which explodes in a flurry of soaring guitars and sharp quick drums. Without question, it displays a great use of dynamics, sets a mood, and sets my heart racing. Despite this, I can’t point to anything which intrigues me on a deeper level, nor are there any aspects of it I haven’t heard performed before.
Again, it’s rich, powerful and sounds excellent, yet not particularly immersive or deep. In fact, the reason I ruminate on the first song so deeply is that it sets a precedent for the entire album. Cold was one of the singles, and I can certainly describe it as a stadium anthem. The instrumentation is bright, the singing impressive, and it all ascends to a euphoric guitar solo in the closing moments. However, while it may grab me in the moment of listening, the overall beginning to end development fails to make me clamour for more. Fall is complete with chanting, reserved verses and larger than life choruses. For all those reasons I can see it be a staple at live concerts, but sadly not in my listening schedule. Spirit and I Think It Isn’t Fair, prove slower instants in the tracklist, and could be interpreted as heartfelt if it weren’t for a few overly generic tropes acting as a distraction.
On the other hand, as the names suggest, Savage and Addiction To The Worst are two of the more exciting, fast-paced songs, yet retain an overly Blasé, repetitive and entrenched feeling. Following on from that, I think it is fair to say that Soulmade lacking something vital. An essential quality if you will, which could make its emotionality worth caring about. Call it uniqueness, originality or integrity, I believe Breath Atlantis fails to live up to their potential here, yet certainly, have the musical chops to prove themselves in the future. It's by no means a bad effort, and I can see it being successful yet it is one which will leave many begging for something more thought-provoking 5/10
Bury The Traitor: Ascend To Clarity (Self Released)
In the complex puzzle of metal subgenres, Bury The Traitor fit firmly in the modern metal space, next to acts such as Parkway Drive, August Burns Red and of course, Killswitch Engage. Blast beats, breakdowns and melodic/screamed contrasts run throughout the six-track EP. In many ways, Ascend To Clarity is your typical metalcore release, standing up incredibly well from within the conventions of the genre, yet not exactly doing anything to win over those who may be less accustomed or friendly to the style. Embers/Season To Burn is the huge opening acts short metal release like this need. Admittedly, Bury The Traitor do a great job proving their conviction here, ‘And now we all will burn’ Loewenbech screams in his mangled as a spidery riff sets in, a persistent lead part sets up the blackened melodic themes, and the rhythm section does tier metallic duty of making the anthem pummelling.
Undoubtedly, Bury The Traitor excellently contrast harsh abrasiveness and carefully placed sensitivity, as evidenced by the single A.S.I.F, where the throttling verses, are juxtaposed with the ascendant choruses and solos. Heads Down, Thumbs Up and Lion Vs Wolf achieves contrast with yet more elegance, the harmonious and visceral sections seemingly dueling with each other in a competition of epicness. In the former the heavy side wins out, in the later, melodiousness dominates. I’m aware that I’m pointing strictly to standard metalcore practice here. Yet if Bury The Traitor's biggest crime is that they wear their cited influences on their sleeve, that’s commendable in my book.
No, it's not exactly ground-breaking, yet for an EP designed to set up a core sound, it achieves this passionately. Again, if you are not the biggest fan of the genre, Ascend To Clarity probably shouldn’t be your starting point. For those who are in that circle, or at least on the outskirts of it, you may just have found a new band to keep an eye out for in the future 6/10