Alter Bridge – AB III: Even before the bonus tracks start piling on, AB III is a good album which runs about twenty minutes longer than any band of Alter Bridge’s sound, style, and mastering preferences should ever permit. Don’t get me wrong — there’s plenty of good stuff to go around, but after the U.S. bonus tracks are appended, it’s being drowned out by too many songs mastered too hot and with too little dynamism to stand out from the pack. Blackbird or Fortress are really the best places to start with these guys.
Threshold – Legends of the Shires: Damian Wilson out, Glynn Morgan back in, and a bunch of Legends of the Shires sounds like Threshold accentuating their usual style with some new ornamental sounds — a little Elton John here, some shimmering AOR there. The results find Threshold feeling fresher than Threshold has felt in years, and an album to which I feel an almost immediate sonic kinship. Probably gonna have more to say about this at a later time. Then again, it’ll probably be in rotation for a while, so we’ll have plenty of time to say more about it.
Threshold – Extinct Instinct: I found Extinct Instinct less objectionable this time through than I did the last time I bothered to play it. It still feels like a failed attempt at branching out past the early confines of Threshold’s sound, kinda like Superior’s Younique but with less flair, and some tracks borrow their tricks from Dream Theater’s “6:00” (“Exposed”, dear god, “Exposed”) or Jim Martin-era Faith No More (“The Whispering”) but have the rank indecency to perform them poorly. Bottom line: not one of my favorites in the band’s generally-quite-estimable catalog.
Depending on which path the disc crawl takes this week, there may be a wider retrospective covering the undiscussed Wounded Land (not really a fan) and Psychedelicatessen (big fan) in next week’s grid which is pegged to the Decadent rarities collection… or there may not be. It’ll be two weeks for that ’cause I forgot Decadent came out after Clone.
Baroness – Yellow and Green: My favorite Baroness record.
Ted Leo – The Hanged Man: Early returns are that this is a pretty great comeback for Leo after spending much of the last seven years recharging his batteries and going through some personal shit.
Better Than Ezra – Friction, Baby: Trotting out “Desperately Wanting” again somehow got me to listen to Friction, Baby twice through and change last week. Better Than Ezra, I think, always worked better in singles than they did in albums — but man, some of those singles are killers.
Tori Amos – Native Invader: And now begins a new round of the same old Tori Amos dance: a new album which sounds good at first, and in places even like a throwback to some of her older (better) material. But will Native Invader have any staying power beyond my mandatory “you bought it, you play it a minimum of three times you album-stacking magpie” policy? Abate your breathing and glue your eyes to this space, dear readers. We’ll find out together.
Unearthly Trance – Stalking the Ghost: Another album traversing the rather permeable membrane separating sludge metal from doom metal, which works out great for my many beast-shouting-love-at-the-heart-of-the-world moods in this miserable tinderbox year. Plus, it’s got dat Colin Marston engineering, so it’s wide dynamics all the way down and sounds massive, besides, like a statue rumbling to life and crushing all your enemies beneath its mass-y carved-granite foot.
Radiohead – OK Computer: It’s taken me a long time to properly warm up to OK Computer, but after twenty years, I’m personally comfortable calling it one of the true superstars surfing the ’90s’ big bummer-rock wave. What a bold, radical hot take that one is. What crazy Toddfooleries or shenanigags will I get into next?
This week, Winter was Coming… for the color scheme. Half of them were incidental. Then the other half were, “Hey, how many other blue-white-grey covers do I have in my recent listening bin? Let’s find out! That many, huh?”
Last week, I did not listen to enough music to assemble a grid. That was not a problem this week.
Big Wreck – Grace Street: Overall, Grace Street is probably my favorite Big Wreck album since In Loving Memory Of…
The Night Flight Orchestra – Amber Galactic: ELO, Toto, Parsons, and more! They got it all at the NFO Store! That’s not the band’s slogan; I just really feel that way about Amber Galactic.
Mr. Big – Defying Gravity: Raw production values aside, this might be the most consistent Mr. Big album since their reunion. Bright, bluesy hard rock which satisfies like a cooling rain after hot summer air swells up to the bursting point, or maybe like the sun which peeks out from behind the clouds after.
Æther Realm – Tarot: Promising but patchy vaguely folkish melodic death metal with high dynamics and a delightful guest appearance from Alestorm’s Christopher Bowes on “King of Cups”.
Dead Cross – Dead Cross: Schizoid crossover noise from Dave Lombardo and pinch-hitting vocalist Mike Patton. I don’t know for sure it’s the most unhinged performance Patton has fielded since his collaboration with the Dillinger Escape Plan, but I also don’t know for sure that it’s not. Dead Cross just might be the perfectly fucked-up soundtrack to this perfectly fucked-up year of ours.
Sabbath Assembly – Rites of Passage: Satanic doom-rock which comes in bales of tangled, sinewy arrangements tied together by Jamie Myers’ pythic, stentorian delivery.
Accept – The Rise of Chaos: The Rise of Chaos clenches up tight like a prizefighter’s fist and punches you in the metal bone until it’s vibrating at Accept’s frequency.
System of a Down – Toxicity: Randomly sweeping through my music library sometimes sweeps up a random album and spirits it into the grid. So it was with System of a Down.
Devin Townsend – Ocean Machine: Biomech: The older I get, the more I can drill into the reservoirs of loneliness and depression bubbling up under this record’s wall-of-sound surface.
Another week where I don’t feel like writing. Deal with it, suckers.