Vital Empire - Now or Never
Now Or Never is the debut offering from ambient power rock combo, Vital Empire. Maybe I’m jaded, but I usually scoff when bands try and describe themselves (yes, I know, I’m an asshole.) However, in this case the “ambient power rock” description is spot on. Vast soundscapes, lush intricacies, pounding rhythms, and urgent vocals make for a throat-grabber of an album.
Let’s go back to that word “urgent” for a minute. I believe that’s what makes rock n’ roll important, and what’s lacking in a lot of new bands today; the urgency, the hunger, and VE have that in spades on the first track “Terrified.” You can really tap into vocalist Aaron Pose’s raw emotion on this one. “Beautiful Disease” is a melodic, yet symmetrical stomp that will have you pounding your fist when the chorus hits. “Shout It Out” is surely a personal piece with somewhat of a delicate, nighttime vibe that worms it’s way infectiously through your ears.
Many kudos to these Dallas guys and girl for making something modern and relatable, without sounding cliche or trite. Vital Empire lives up to their name, so hit them up and pack on the listens.
Volition - Visions of the Onslaught
Volition is a pure thrash act out of Tulsa, OK. Their new record is called “Visions Of The Onslaught” and an onslaught it is. Volition’s brand of metal is auditory strychnine that must be drank all in one gulp to be enjoyed. This record isn’t for the weak. Upon hearing it, I can’t decide if I wanna go beat some heads in, or throw on my D.R.I. shirt and Not Man cap and go skating. Probably both… yeah, let’s do both.
This new record is full of gems. “Injection Vendetta” is a seething killer of a tune with a wicked solo break and smart riffing. “Morbid Devastation” is a crazy instrumental album opener that swirls through barb-wire and you’ll love every minute of it. “Vengeful Satisfaction” rips the flesh from bone the very second it starts. Buzzsaw guitars and pounding drums permeate your ear canal like no other.
It’s really great to have these pure elements coming out of Tulsa. Sick vocals, scathing guitars and obliterating percussion are impeccable ingredients that make Volition a force to be reckoned with. Make sure you pick up “Visions Of The Onslaught” now!
Screaming Red Mutiny - s/t
Tulsa’s own Screaming Red Mutiny have come forth with a new self titled EP. Saying it's a landmark release would be an understatement. Upon pushing play on this succinct, yet sprawling opus, one will hear a retooled band in the midst of personal evolution and free discovery. Having lost guitarist and Tulsa music stalwart John Holata in late 2016 to an untimely passing; a band and group of friends could have easily and understandably packed it in, but vocalist Sprout, drummer Anthony Hinton, and bassist Nick Meena forged on: with Meena switching to guitar and recruiting Jim Bob Lehr (Anu, David Castro Band) to handle bass duties. It was fucking on, and the mission was clear.
The EP opens with “Air Raid Symphony”, a downtuned labyrinth of riffs and diverse as hell vocals. Sprout The Anti-Hero spreads his vocal wings and gets clear, powerful, and brutal all in one song. A shining moment for this band, and honestly, Sprout in particular. “Contents Under Pressure” is a solemn, introspective jam that is fervently held down by the rhythm tandem of Hinton and Lehr. The tune eventually builds into a caustic, stompy outro that cannot be ignored. “From Heart To Grave” kicks right in with groove and vocals and an interesting march style chorus. A smart, and biting solo decorates this song famously, and lets us all know that Mr. Meena isn’t messing around.
“Iron Disposition” is the first single (and video) from this stellar EP, and is definitely a calling card for what this band is about and what they want to accomplish. The EP doesn’t stop here, its full of mind blowing, heart filling moments that must be heard to believe. Please patronize these guys and show them your full support.
SRM are on the cusp of something great. Stellar planning, intelligent songs, and infectious melodies are ensuring that these guys will have a place in not just Tulsa, but in the world as a hard rock force… it's just a matter of time. Jump aboard, and let the realness flow.
Trixy Tang - Sunday Cruisin
I hope you’re ready for some unadulterated party rock from Grand Rapids, MI, because Trixy Tang is gonna deliver. One thing is clear, TT is puttin’ it all out there, so get outta the way. This debut EP kicks off with the bonafide fuck anthem, “Lust”. With it’s dripping rhythms and brash lyrics, it’s pretty evident what these guys have came to do. “My Night” is a catchy romp of a party call-to-arms, while “Sunday Cruisin’” is a softer gentler Trixy Tang, but still rooted in sun, good times, and vaginas. “Whisky Women” brings the EP to a close with the heaviest, and darkest sounding offering of the album.
These guys have shared the stage with everyone from Vince Neil to LA Guns to Tom Keifer, and rightly so. Soaring vocals, searing riffs, soaking solos, and a rhythm section you could set your watch to bring these cats to the forefront. It also helps immeasurably that they pen a catchy chorus. Get this EP, smile, bang head, and repeat!
BlackFront Ink. - BlackFront Ink.
Another combo from Grand Rapids, MI. This town is dishing out some serious talent, and varied talent. That’s what we want people, someone get up there and find out what’s up!
BFI are a grungy, heavy outfit from the mitten state that broods electric, and sets a somber tone; swirling and dodging around Seattle sensibilities, coupled with smart drumming and eerie melody. “Darker Shades” is definitely an uptempo standout with haunting vocals, and expressive guitar, while “Finger Break” marches heavy through this album with impending doom. “Denial” boasts a catchy as hell chorus while keeping their solemn signature sound. “Wrong Side Of Life” has an epic feel, with a pretty intelligent solo break that really shakes the song up.
Blackfront Ink definitely take the listener on a journey, and I can only imagine a live setting. Show these guys some love, and give it up for Grand Rapids.
The Holy Warheads - Gravity
Hailing from Grand Rapids, MI, The Holy Warheads harken back to a favorable era or two in Rock and Roll History. In doing so, they have come up with an earnest, and fresh amalgamation of sound that proves to be honest and welcome in the midst of all the bland, grey, crap that soaks the airwaves these days.
Standout tracks include “Gallows”, showcasing smart guitars, bellowing and haunting vocals that invokes upon its very first seconds. ”Monsters” is a frenzied gallop with a melodic middle section that showcases wit and songwriting chops.
This band knows how to rock, and honestly knows what REAL rock is. Their music does the talking, and it’s evident the minute you press “play.”
Head to the bands Facebook or Bandcamp for more, we don’t wanna spoil it all right here. From the looks of it, these guys are always gigging and just completed an opening slot for Corrosion of Conformity. Watch out for The Holy Warheads, and show them some love.
Hard Charger - Bad Omens
Get ready for some High Voltage Crust n' Roll from Fredericton New Brunswick Canada’s own Hard Charger. Their brand of visceral, pumping, organic slab-rock will have you smiling and headbanging all at the same time.
Hard Charger consist of The Yeti, The Wolf, and The Hammer... and damnit, they capture a sloppy, and frenetic vibe while keeping things tuneful and sensible. Look to “Derelict” for example - You wanna go nuts, and should, but at the same time the melody sticks to your ribs. Perfect!
“No Chance Parole” is genius in its swiftness and eye gouging solo. “Brain Suck” is a smart as fuck car crash that begs you to hit the repeat button.
Hard Charger have really tapped into what rock n roll is all about. Movement… primal fucking movement with catchy sensibilities, and a fun listen to boot. Please patronize these guys and build them up. Cheers!
Grave Huffer - Your Fault
“Your Fault” by Gravehuffer is not heavy metal. (Okay, well... of course it is, but stay with me here.) This album is like heavy concrete. Busted up slabs of concrete chunks with gnarly, bent up rebar sticking out of it. These guys will make your ears bleed and you’re gonna be okay with that.
Gravehuffer hail from Joplin, MO, and have a crusty, gargly, fucked up brand of bold, thrashy, raw skate punk/metal that makes me grin from ear to ear. Short, punchy, rude, and pummeling… ”Your Fault” is right up my alley.
James Hiser’s razor blade vocals, Richie Randall’s buzzsaw guitars, and Mike Jilge and Larry Deadorff’s bruising rhythm section join to create one hell of a sound. My favorites of those being tracks like “Death Caprice” and “Dead Peace”. “Shut Up and Skate” is a rowdy anthem as you would expect, and “Destroyer Of Worlds” shows off the bands diversity with smart guitar lines and an epic feel.
I can't wait to see these guys live, and I highly urge you all to give these guys a listen. Show some support - you won't regret it!
King Buffalo - Orion
King Buffalo come busting out of Rochester, NY with a searing, yet brooding brand of what their own bio hails as “Heavy Blues”, which is such a fitting description.
Guitarist/Vocalist Sean McVay, Bassist Dan Reynolds, and Drummer/Vocalist Scott Donaldson have carved out a sound that is somewhere between the roots and tunefulness of Tom Petty or Ian Moore and the dirge and phrasing of dare I say: Neurosis. Try to categorize these cats… ya can't do it.
“Monolith” is a pulsing, primal track… dusty and sunny it's primed and ready for a Tarantino soundtrack. “Orion Subsiding” is a swirling, lonely walk through an abandoned city scape at midnight. “Orion” is the album opener and sets the whole tone with its solemn, weighty blues wail.
Those are just a few standout tracks on this stellar opus. Please check these guys out… they are doing something important, and you don't wanna miss it.
Screaming Red Mutiny - Encumbered We Press
Screaming Red Mutiny have came soaring out of the gate on to the Tulsa Music Scene like nobody's business. SRM is an astounding collective of everything that is great about the Oklahoma and Kansas rock scenes, and now they have released ”Encumbered We Press”; a brilliant EP that will have you hitting repeat over and over again.
SRM have crafted a streamlined and tuneful sound, but still pack punch, grit and soul into each song on this EP. “Hand Grenade Serenade” is bombastic, yet hooky with smart vocal lines intertwining throughout the guitars… ”Stronger Structure” is a sick album opener that features diverse vocals and masterful riffing. “Beyond The River Rising” is the calling card here: a self help, self redemption anthem like no other… its dirge and conviction evokes such emotion while at the same time making you pump your fist in the air.
I could go on, but why give it ALL away? “Encumbered We Press” demands your ear and will make you smile a million times over. And live? Fuckin forget about it… these guys SLAY. Get into SRM, they will do your rock n roll heart good.
Step into the ever expanding and heavy as hell mind of Joplin, Missouri’s Crane Technique. Crane Technique are as caustic as they come and blend everything that was great about turn of the century heavy music with their own identity to create a tried and true alloy that you cannot break.
“Zen” is a perfect calling card for Crane Technique and a stellar intro to their sound; with a driving pulse and a furious solo, this cut is a brain-rattler! “Intimacy” is a groove fest to the first order with hooks for days and has already been featured on the Thunder Underground podcast. “Top Hat” is brooding and ominous with chilling tones and haunting but necessary lyrical content. “Pills” is a dissonant rocker that kicks in feverishly and makes me feel like I'm at the Ozzfest 2nd stage in my face off!!
We have found your new favorite band: Crane Technique. These guys have a pro sound and are repping heavy music at its finest…. hit them up now!
Mycah - "Diamond In The Rough"
Straight outta Los Angeles comes Mycah - a decadent power pop glam outfit that
demands your ear. The new EP is called Diamond In The Rough, and that’s what it is... it
certainly shines and serves up infectious hooks, clean riffs, and sugary vocals.
The opening track, "Unbreakable" is a smart, killer track, that is perfect to open the
record with. Mycah are really a perfect marriage of the midlate 90's pop/punk swell, and the
legendary east coast late 70's/early 80's punk and glitter rock surge. I could easily see these
guys on an episode of Vinyl, and believe me; thats a good thing.
"What You're All About" and "Last Cigarette" really embody the snarling, snotty attitude of
the band mixed with a poppy, bouncy chorus that harkens back to all of our younger years - while
at the same time keeping things fresh and interesting. Being able to straddle that line and not
look like douchebags is commendable, and frankly bad ass.
Devon Mycah's vocals shine through out, but the shimmering moment is the closing song,
"Don't Say Goodbye" This girl isn't a one trick pony, folks. She can rock out with the best of
them, and emote and grab your heart with one swift move which really shows with this last
Don't miss Mycah at Rocklahoma this weekend... they are taking the Retrospect Records
stage by storm on Saturday, May 28th at 8:15p and Sunday the are letting it all hang loose at
Camp Jager. A good time will be had by all and Mycah will be our soundtrack. Be there!
Psycho Spoon - Incognito
Incognito by Psycho Spoon is out and hammering faces right outta the gate… just like this review. Psycho Spoon Is Rick Ballenher on vocals, Pete Hammoura on drums, with Nile’s own Karl Sanders lending guitar tracks and production prowess. More recently Dallas Toler-Wade and Brad Parris from Nile joined the fold on guitar and bass respectively with Brian Ellis rounding out the lineup on guitars.
This album explodes with rebellious anthems and mindbending metal. The shining element on this album for me is Ballenger’s vocals. We’re talking a primed and ready motor of badassedness that hangs around somewhere between Danzig, Astbury, and a lower register Bobby ‘Blitz' Ellsworth. From the opening strains of “People” to the bluesy lines of “30 Days” this guy ain't fuckin around.
The riffs and hooks are outstanding as well. ”Colours” is a straight up anthem, and the title track will no doubt have you singing “Dirty, Filthy Rock and Roll” to the top of your lungs.
That's one thing Psycho Spoon does brilliantly: meld bad ass hard rock with pummeling metal and it all makes sense… partly due to Pete Hummoura’s rapid fire, yet tasty drumming, but really it's all good: blazing leads and tight riffing are on point! Psycho Spoon are coming so get on board. Pick up “Incognito” and give them a like. Do it for the Spoon!!!!
Beitthemeans – Marble City Secrets Are Off In The Black
Alright… forget everything you know about Southern Rock. All of it. The classics had their day, and the slick, Affliction shirt wearing, Bud Light swilling, radio rock goofballs are getting fucking annoying. Beitthemeans are a blindingly astonishing trio that hails from Birmingham, Alabama, and are here to bust a bottle of Jack over the bar and wield it wildly at both factions - and claim their right to the moniker and the sound. Watch out.
Beitthemeans swirls and slides through compositions, showing off their technical, and songwriting talent… just take one listen to “Fresh Off The Line” or “The Black”…. it's like a southern version of Rush. Don’t let that fool you though… feel and emotion are really the first order here. What, with a song like “Doomsday: The System Fails” the dirge of the southern alleys and backroads is almost close enough to touch. The solos are smart, flurrying at times, but never without passion or soul. MCSAOITB is truly a record guitar gurus, and wood grained songwriting fans alike can get into. Bassist Casey Wilson and drummer Nathan Kelley lay down a stringent foundation for vocalist/guitarist Josh Jones to scream, scowl, and elate a new, yet traditional feel of sin, redemption, darkness, and somewhere in there… hope. This is important; important rock and roll that combines musicality, technicality, emotion, soul, and smart as hell songwriting.
Congratulations, Beiththemeans… you have joined a select few that are all to your own, sound like no one else, and are prepared to break down walls and wake people up. Metalheads can dig this. Indie rock lovers can get into it. Guitar nerds can dig it. Young and old... this band has something for everyone without compromising anything. My ears are eternally gratetful.
Omicida – Certain Death
Certain Death from Los Angeles metallers Omicida is certain thrash monstrosity that you have to get your head around. Comprised of former members of such bands as White Wizzard and Devil You Know… Omicida have united in a strong thrash alloy that is going for the throat.
The vocals of Joseph Michael are a gem… true speed metal gem. His stylings are fresh and cutting, yet giving us that old school thrash vibe that brings smiles to oh so many of our faces. “Cult Of Fear” opens this opus and really sets a tone and showcases all the tempos and feels Omicida is capable of. From pummeling gallops of drums to flurrying solos that make your head spin, there is no way you can’t give this album props.
The title track opens in an epic fashion. Ominous and dark, but creeps into a blasting maelstrom of metal that makes me wanna bang my head against the wall and crack open about 53 beers. I mean… gotta love that, right? “Disobey” is their ripping single that shows off an insane vocal range and some solid songwriting.
“Strike Back” has a sweet intro and is wrought with smart riffing and dizzying cadence… a definite standout. Also, watch out for “The Unbroken Seal” - it’s about as epic as it is bad ass…. a doomy march that Jeff Hanneman himself would be damn proud of. You just can’t go wrong. Omicida gets our seal of approval a million times over. It’s smart, sick, heavy, meat and potatoes metal that won’t leave you cold. All killer no filler, and that’s pretty much how it should be.
The current lineup features vocalist Giovanni Barbieri out of Toronto, and the band recently debuted this lineup with the video for Disobey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfagCb1fnS0
Please go to www.facebook.com/omicidaofficial and show these guys some love!
Slumlord Radio – Too Pretty For Tijuana
Crawling out from under the streets of Grand Rapids, MI and into your speakers and earholes is none other than Slumlord Radio. Upon first listen, I pegged them as a trio and I was right - and was glad I was right. I really dig three piece acts, and seeing how powerful they can be with less... and SR doesn’t disappoint. Too Pretty For Tijuana is a perfect statement for these sleazy, trash punk swagger peddlers from the mitten of America.
Let it also be said, that while SR have built their sound with punk, sludge, and garage rock materials, it is a complete joy to hear different movements, tempo changes and extended jamming all within one song…. almost like a punk prog if you will. Sure there are some 5-6 minute songs, but it never gets boring… and hey, when do you hear those two worlds brought together? Off the top of my head, I’m pretty sure it’s a first… for that fact alone, SR deserve one hell of a pat on the back. Way to mix it up, guys.
“Bullwhip” is a single for sure - it’s a great kick off and groove planter. Mike "Ace" Todd on bass and Matt Claucherty on drums do a superb job of keeping time and laying down a foundation while Tommy "Capt. Hollywood" Erickson leads the charge on vocals and guitar. “Choke 66” is catchy as hell with a great chorus while “Tycoon” makes you wanna kick holes in the wall and punch someone out. Too Pretty For Tijuana’s raw, yet concise production really sets a tone and is fitting for Slumlord Radio’s genre and sound. I say thumbs up!
Destroythm – EP
Straight out of Chicago come Destroythm ( pronounced Destroy Them) - an impactful blend of death, power (Pantera, not Primal Fear) and hardcore metal. Their gritty, cold, stark attitude proudly reflects the hard working city they call home. This EP is a formidable effort that lurks in the shadows, waiting to attack and lay to waste. Get into it, people…. NOW. While I can’t say there is a weak track on this EP, I can say a standout is “A Nation Lost” The song’s soul and pain vividly paint a picture of where this nation IS at, and how it truly IS lost. The song is heavy and pounding, yet it breathes with dramatic pauses and is obviously crafted by proper metal dealers that know what they are doing. “The Contagion Effect” rips through the senses with speed, chug and smart lead guitar lines while “Wendigo” kicks in with a rousing, moshy hardcore intro featuring vocals that could rival a tornado. Destroythm have done a great job of weaving in and out of many different styles of metal. Some bands do this and it just sounds laughable, but Destroythm have given a nod to their heroes, while infusing themselves into the music and making it cohesive. That’s a tough thing, so congrats to them for pulling it off. Smart riffage, stellar production, and flawless execution will surely ensure their longevity. Please go to http://destroythm.bandcamp.com/releases and show them some support. Destroythm!!!
Radiodrone's album "The Truth Syndicate Diaries" is full of punching riffs, melody, and songs ready to be crawling through your head hours after you hear them. This hard rock band from Orange County combines blistering hard rock music, with unforgettable vocals, and strongly written lyrics.... a trifecta that a lot of bands have trouble attaining. The vocals combine a melodic feeling with a haunting aura for a voice better than most on mainstream rock radio. The rhythm section adds a powerful base to the guitars that is built for radio and live domination. The songs Showdown, Battle Call, Game Change, and We're Alright, among several others, are ready to be blasted through speakers across the globe.
Severmind – "Imminent Misfortune"
This humble, and admittedly beginner of a music writer has done a lot and seen a lot in the Tulsa music scene, albeit awhile ago… I’d like to think I had a pretty good sense of a lot of bands in the Tulsa scene. Life gets in the way... relationships, kids, work, and sometimes stuff passed me by. I let Severmind pass me by and shouldn’t have. Made up of former members of Tulsa bands from Hate Furnace to the The Groove Pilots, Severmind compose a strong, hard rock conglomerate that is familiar and pleasing without being corny or cliché.
Comprised of Heath Weidmeier on lead vocals and guitar, Stacey Lane on lead guitar, Chris Egan on bass, and Derek Sanders on drums…Severmind released “Imminent Misfortune” in 2014. Self produced and recorded at GO Studios here in Tulsa, “Imminent Misfortune” is a perfect example of a local band doing quality metal. Its riffy, heavy, packed with playability and aggressiveness without alienating any one audience or going overly abrasive. The track “Long Haul” displays this idea precisely with a galloping groove and hooky chorus, guitar line included…..sure to keep it in your head and on the airwaves.
The vocals shine immensely with this band and on this album. Weidmeier’s vocal delivery is professional, exact and really serve the song. The gravelly mid range is the sweet spot. Not quite a growl, but a razors edge in which to make the song the best it can be. This voice is a driving factor and present Severmind to be a legitimate contender in the Tulsa rock scene.
Album closer “Truth Be Told” is in the perfect position. It brings “Imminent Misfortune” home and gives you the sense that you went on a journey with its cyclical jamming, big-league chorus, and ominous piano outro, I can only imagine it would be a perfect song to end a live set with.
Having graced the stage at Rocklahoma last year, Severmind are prepped and prepared to do it again. Yes, they have just been confirmed for the AXiS Entertainment Stage at this years fest and are brimming with excitement to take this opportunity by the short and curlies and have their way with it. They have also topped the local charts of reverbnation.com only recently falling to number 2 former Overkill drummer, Sid Falck's Infectus 13. Pretty good company to be in, I'd you ask this rock reporter.
Don’t let “Imminent Misfortune" pass you by… it’ll look great in your cd collection next to your Megadeth and Black Label Society CD’s. Head to their Facebook page: SEVERMIND to learn more and definitely check them out live. - Jason Wood
Dirty Crush - VII
VII is the latest offering from Tulsa hard rock act, Dirty Crush. It's gonna be a big year for these guys, and with a Rocklahoma appearance and an opening slot for Aranda in Oklahoma City in June.....it only works out all too well to have a quality product to back and promote.
VII is diverse to a fault. Hard driving, heavy rock is surely the name of the game here, but DC isn't afraid to pepper it with a bluesy flare, or a NWOBHM gallop, introspective lyrics to some Seattle grunge. This album proves to be a great rock n' roll calling card.
An ambitious take on the 7 Deadly Sins, VII is an intense listen that broods and fires from start to finish. The ominous intro gives way to a classic metal - tinged "Envy"....a fitting kick off to this epic album. "Wrath" is blazing and unrelenting that would make even Dimebag Darrell smile.
"Lust" is the obvious but refreshing sonic curveball of the album with blues guitar runs, infectious hook, and a loose 70s swagger. The vocals shine on this track for sure with smart lines and spot on harmonies. "Pride" keeps the diversity going with acoustics and rare tempos before coming back to its hard rock home. "God Dammed" is a searing album closer that doesn't give up. Head over to www.dirtycrush.net for a lyric video of that one.
We aren't gonna give it all away.....see for yourself at reverbnation.com/dirtycrush or dirtycrush.net and hear first hand what VII is all about. Dirty Crush deserve your love and support.
Even the Dogs are preparing for one hell of a 2015. This Tulsa 5 piece have just released an incendiary new single called “Ghost” and are gearing up for an appearance at Rocklahoma. I’d say they are headed in the right direction and Tulsa should be super proud. Their message is one of positivity and hope, and their sound is pummeling, yet wide open and anthemic enough to support that and makes for a smashing formula.
Sure, metalcore is everywhere these days, but what sets ETD apart here in Tulsa is a sound steeped in melodic death. At first listen I could have sworn ETD hailed from Gothenburg, Sweden. I’m not a fan of “for fans of” type reviews, but in this case it is quite an honor to be spoke of in the same breath as Swedish metal titans Dark Tranquillity and In Flames. “Ghost” uses synth smartly, and the guttural vocals intertwined with flurrying riffs only compliments the melodic, anthemic, huge chorus.
Check out their website www.eventhedogs.com, youtube vids, and their live shows…. professionalism runs rampant through this band, and as a fan it is surely great to see. Also, young bands coming up should take notice of how Even The Dogs seemingly have everything in place and are taking the proper steps to ensure their success. Their Rocklahoma set is definitely one to look forward to, as they went right past the usual radio sponsored “battle of the bands/ win a slot at Rocklahoma” situations and secured a solid slot at the festival. Also, don't miss them this Monday at The Vanguard Tulsa with War Of Ages if you are in the area.
Even The Dogs are fierce, polished and poised to win Tulsa, and the rest of the nation over. Be on the look out, show them some love and make sure to check them out at a local venue now before they breakout and hit the big stage.