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Rotting Christ

The Greek metallers Rotting Christ delivered their most grandiose album in 30 years, based on the words of history’s most enlightened thinkers. The Heretics celebrated figures such as Thomas Paine, Friedrich Nietzsche and Voltaire, whose views stood in defiance of contemporary norms.

“We have the feeling that we are currently living in the free world, but things are quite different I’m afraid,” says frontman Sakis Tolis. “History makes circles and we are currently living in a middle ages, and those big words that were mentioned once from some really important individuals can give us a good lesson nowadays.”


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Swallow The Sun

When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light is the darkest record Swallow The Sun have ever made. The Finnish doom-death metallers delivered eight atmospheric tracks that expressed the grief felt by guitarist/songwriter Juha Raivio, following the loss of girlfriend Aleah Stanbridge.

Singer Mikko Kotamäki gave voice to his bandmate’s emotions, turning away from growling vocals to deliver emotional cleans. The result is breathtaking. “There’s no way to prepare yourself for this material, but it probably helps that we are really introverted Finnish guys and we’re not very outgoing personalities,” he says. “Life is always hard for Finnish people.”


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Lingua Ignota

A year ago, barely anyone had heard of Kristin Hayter and her solo project, Lingua Ignota. That changed with second album Caligula. Using elements of church and classical music, noise, industrial and extreme metal to deal with her experiences of domestic violence, it was an intense shock to the system.

“I think that the moniker Lingua Ignota [‘Unknown Language’] has proven to be a fairly accurate description of how people digest my music,” she says. “Very often people do not have words or seem frustrated with themselves that they can’t describe what the music does to them.”


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After a 13-year wait, Tool finally delivered on their promise of a new album. Clocking in at around 80 minutes, Fear Inoculum was full of familiar polyrhythms, poetic lyrics and high-level musicianship, but each element took time to unravel.

“It’s just more of a proggy-vibed album, I suppose,” says Danny Carey. “That’s what happens when you work on things that long, you know? If we’d have knocked a record out in a year, it probably would have been more like four- or five-minute songs, but we’ve done that before, so it’s kind of nice to grow and change a little bit.” We approved.


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The Struts - Everybody Wants (2014)

What a year 2014 was, eh? Ice bucket challenges. True Detective. Selfie-mania. Kim Kardashian’s arse (aka Kanye West). Sharknado 2. Blimey, it only seems like yesterday.

It also happened to be the year that the Struts' debut album was first released, only to promptly vanish into thin air like a plane off the coast of Indonesia – the cruellest of fates given its outrageous flamboyance, untouchable swagger and unadulterated musical genius.

Fast-forward two years and The Struts – four preening 20-something peacocks from the least glamorous town in the UK, a place known to its inhabitants as ‘Derby’ – were fished out of the dumpster, dusted off and thrust back into the glare of the spotlight, confidently brandishing a souped-up version of said debut.

Everybody Wants was an unashamed old school rock’n’roll album, which, given mainstream culture’s decade-long disdain for guitars, made The Struts either the bravest or stupidest young band out there. Either way, you’ve gotta hand it to ’em for not giving the slightest of fucks.

Where Everybody Wants truly romped home was on the sheer tuneage front. Unlike most of their young contemporaries, they proved themselves familiar with the lost art of writing a chorus. There were at least six potential hit singles on the album, which at the time was half-a-dozen more than most other rock bands of their fresh vintage. And they were smart enough to wrap it up in a slick 21st century production; this was no dusty museum piece or cheap facsimile of other bands’ past glories.

Of course, there was no guarantee of anything going the way it should and history might well have repeated itself: The Struts could easily have wound up working the fryer in the Derby branch of Chicken Cottage.


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Royal Thunder - Wick (2017)

They met in a Christian cult, things got heavy, they escaped and formed a band, got married, then divorced… and after all that Royal Thunder’s founding duo (vocalist/bassist) Mlny Parsonz and (guitarist) Josh Weaver remained friends, still making music. You really couldn’t make it up.

Perhaps you need this kind of weighty life experience to make the kind of intense rock that Royal Thunder manage so well. That powerfully moving, almost unsettling racket that’s at once painful as hell and extremely beautiful.

They honed this recipe over two first-class LPs (One Day from Crooked Doors still makes us well up every time), but WICK was the peak of their career thus far – a rich, well-paced hybrid of heavy Led Zeppelin hoodoo, Fleetwood Mac romance (but harder and darker) and raw emotion.

Sumptuous but gritty, intensely thoughtful but relatable, it was the sound of aggression (The Sinking Chair), psychedelic intrigue (April Showers), heartbreak (Plans) and determination (Anchor), channelled through one of modern rock’s most outstanding voices.

When Mlny Parsonz sang “you ripped out my heart” you didn’t question it, and Weaver’s hard, melodious guitar accentuated her cries to powerful effect. And amid the fierce concentration and finessed chops there was still something appealingly wild about it all.

If you wanted the real rock deal, circa 2017, this was it.


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David Bowie - The Next Day (2013)

After a decade of studio silence, when single Where Are We Now? (complete with extraordinary vid) suddenly dropped seemingly from nowhere, confirming that this album – constructed over a couple of years behind a wall of absolute secrecy by David Bowie and his longest-serving collaborator, Tony Visconti – was primed and waiting in the wings, the buzz was deafening.

Here was a somewhat battered legend – whose last few albums had been occasionally intriguing but only intermittently lit by any flashes of his old brilliance, a Great Rock Futurist responsible for so many Great Leaps Forward – who was now looking back into his own past; a seemingly-ageless Great Male Beauty appearing in his video looking unashamedly… old. Those presumed by the meejah to be somehow in the know were repeatedly asked: is Bowie dying? Well, he answered that particular question on the curtain-raising title track: ‘Here I am, not quite dying’. A line which grew in poignancy following Blackstar and his death in 2016 – but more on that later.

At 66, Bowie had sensibly given a major swerve to any notion of being down wid da yooth. Instead he made an unmistakable David Bowie album which took the listener through a gallery of his favourite licks, riffs, grooves, mannerisms and stylistic devices from his own oeuvre, with its focus located loosely and non-exclusively in the period between 1977’s Heroes and 1980’s Scary Monsters. Thus various tracks were based on the Bowie Stomp Beat (think Fashion, Boys Keep Swinging), the neo-50s chord changes of Five Years or Drive-In Saturday, the reggae-funk bump of Ashes To Ashes or Under Pressure.

The guitars (mostly played by Gerry Leonard, David Torn and Slick) referenced hallowed Bowie guitar luminaries like Robert Fripp and of course the sainted and much-missed Mick Ronson, and you could hear drum intros echoing Five Years or Iggy’s Lust For Life. In fact this album was probably the greatest spot-the-nick exercise since Oasis’s Be Here Now, the difference being that Bowie was mostly picking his own artistic pockets rather than other people’s.

Best bits? Hard to select from an album so generously stuffed with good things. But seek out Dirty Boys (heavy thumb on the ‘dark and sinister’ button), with its hard, Iggoid vocal, tremolo guitar, honking baritone sax and evocations of childhood menace (‘I will buy a feather hat/I will steal a cricket bat… when the sun goes down, the die is cast’) or the searing anti-war lyric of I’d Rather Be High (‘I’d rather be dead or out of my head than training these guns on those men in the sand’).

Bottom line: this was a vintage Bowie album for vintage Bowie people, of whom there were – and are – many; a reflection on his own journey and also on ours. It was a far, far better Bowie album than we had any right to expect – especially considering that we weren’t expecting another Bowie album in the first place.


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Anathema - The Optimist (2017)

A thematic sequel to 2001’s A Fine Day To Exit, Anathema’s 11th studio album was every bit as beautiful and absorbing as fans had become accustomed to.

Less experimental than 2014’s fractious and melancholy Distant Satellites, The Optimist showcased the blissful chemistry that existed within this particular line-up. There were still plenty of looped electronics and skittering beats lurking amid the sumptuous wash of multitracked guitars on the likes of Endless Ways and San Francisco, but there was also an urgency that highlighted what a great, straightforward rock band Anathema had become over their 27 years.

Songs like opener Leaving It Behind and the fragile, forlorn Springfield were simply further examples of the Liverpudlians’ unerring ability to make grown men cry, those now trademark vast crescendos and moments of spectral calm still hitting the target with masterful precision.

As with most of Anathema’s records, this was one that fans of Elbow and Radiohead would love every bit as much as fans of Opeth or Marillion. Back when it was first released, we though the trick would be to get people to listen to the fucking thing – turns out we were wrong, as its healthy ranking here adeptly proves.


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Faith No More - Sol Invictus (2015)

It has been both amusing and embarrassing to observe entitled music fans stridently declaring what reformed ‘heritage’ rock bands should or should not be permitted to do with their own careers over the course of this decade – as if they, and not the musicians themselves, are the only true, trust-worthy custodians of these iconic brands.

However, save for the inevitable try-hards crowing ‘No Jim Martin, No Faith No More’ – or indeed ‘No Chuck Mosley, No Faith No More’ – the revelation that the reunited Faith No More were working upon their first studio album in 18 years didn’t generate the same sort of anguished indignation which accompanied, for instance, the news of a new Pixies record, or the idea that Refused might have had the temerity to attempt to follow up The Shape Of Punk To Come. It might just be that FNM had earned that most valuable and rare commodity – trust – or simply that the quintet’s patient, slow-burning resurrection had been conducted without any recourse to self-aggrandising or hype.

Perhaps the most instantly notable aspect of Sol Invictus was just how seamlessly the album followed on from its predecessor, 1997’s cockily-titled Album Of The Year. Recorded at a time when more than one member of the band seemed more interested in individual side projects than the collective whole, Album Of The Year assimilated FNM’s disparate influences – post-punk, metal, electronica, grindcore, soul, whatever - into arguably the most tightly-bound body of work in their canon

Impressively, given how long these five musicians had been uncoupled, Sol Invictus went further, to even more potent, startling effect. While deep immersion in the album’s 10 tracks allowed the isolation of numerous wonderful individual ‘moments’ – the sweet melodica swells in Rise Of The Fall, Roddy Bottum’s earworm cyclical keyboard riff in Superhero, the utter contempt heard in Mike Patton’s voice on Black Friday – the overwhelming first impression was just how brilliantly Faith No More’s component parts interlocked and engaged. That these long-estranged collaborators could achieve such cohesion and momentum without dependence on nostalgia or familiar tropes was laudable, and at various points, utterly remarkable.

This most impressive of comebacks ended in typically assured fashion, with From The Dead, a shimmering, summery meld of acoustic guitars, beatific stacked choral vocals, martial beats, Theremin wibbles and chiming bells, all of which made a mockery of Faith No More’s perceived status as an ‘alt- metal’ band. 'Welcome home my friend,' Patton sang at its climax, an apposite end to a 40-minute set which only served to underline and emphasise the quintet’s reputation as one of the most dazzlingly distinctive, inventive and sui generis rock bands of all time.


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The Wildhearts - Renaissance Men (2019)

Although touted as featuring the ‘classic’ line-up of Ginger, CJ, Ritch Battersby and Danny McCormack, these four made only one album together – the original Fishing For Luckies in 1994. They tried again later that year, but CJ was gone after the initial sessions for what became p.h.u.q.

CJ and Ginger smoothed things over in 2001, and Ritch has been back on the drum stool since 2005. So presumably it was the return of bassist Danny – on stage for the Britrock Must Be Destroyed dates a year prior even though recovering from the amputation of part of his right leg – that was the catalyst which brought this turbulent band full circle to how they sounded when he first joined in 1991.

Ginger reckoned that previous album ¡Chutzpah! (2009, with Scott Sorry on bass) was poorly received, but that this one deserved a Champagne reception. Whereas ¡Chutzpah! was lyrically brighter and musically drifted into power-pop at times, Renaissance Men got darker and heavier again. It wasn’t gloomy, though.

Far from it. The title track was joyous and triumphant: ‘Back in your face again, we’re the Renaissance Men... ARRIBA!/You need us around, you can’t keep a good band down…’ – plus a series of canny rhymes, including probably the first ever chorus to pair ‘DC-10’ with ‘men’.

Not just that song, but the whole album took you back to the feeling you had the first time you heard Turning American; that impossible Beatles/Metallica, angry/funny nexus. It was the Wildhearts remembering what they do best – and just going for it.

It started at full tilt with Dislocated – which in places sounded like Motörhead, until a prime-cut Ginger bridge gave it all away – then it crashed, via a howl of feedback, into Let ’Em Go in which a gang chorus sang about rivers of shit. Fine Art Of Deception celebrated lack of commitment with sinister yet customary honesty: ‘Don’t let my proximity mean what it may imply/I’m just working on a way to say goodbye.’

The centre-piece of the album was Diagnosis. The best and longest of the 10 tracks, it built slowly into a rant about mental health professionals and how they let people down. Ginger launched another brutal attack, this time on the pharmaceutical industry, in Emergency (Fentanyl Babylon), but he was funnier when referencing drugs in My Kinda Movie and closer Pilo Erection.

So, was it as good as Earth Vs The Wildhearts? No. On a par with Fishing For Luckies and p.h.u.q.? Close – and easily the best thing since.


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Clutch - Psychic Warfare (2015)

Slowly but surely, this decade has seen the mainstream rock world beginning to cotton on to why Clutch have been so revered and adored within underground metal circles for the last 20 years or more. Perhaps it was 2013’s incisive Earth Rocker album that clinched the deal, it was a fearless and focused encapsulation of the Maryland quartet’s trademark sound that also saw their songwriting reach a new peak of efficacy.

If not that, then maybe it was simply that current tastes have drifted far enough into raucous, bluesy territory that Clutch’s approach suddenly made perfect sense. Either way, Psychic Warfare was the perfect way for the band to consolidate their growing allure and to further cement their reputation for being one of the few unapologetic rock bands on the planet that could harness the genre’s past without being beholden to it.

Seemingly content to be themselves and leave the wilful experimentation to bands that lacked such a strong core identity, Clutch now sounded entirely thrilled by their own sound and in total command of its incremental evolution. Tim Sult’s unmistakable riffs and the infectious swing of drummer Jean-Paul Gaster and bassist Dan Maines wrapped themselves around more inspired tales of weirdo America from an increasingly authoritative Neil Fallon.

All sober analysis aside, the best thing about Clutch remained the same as ever: they’re insanely good fun, not to mention heavy enough to shake the walls and witty enough to coax a smile from the moodiest of burly beard-wearers. From the infectious rush of X-Ray Visions (‘Telekinetic prophetic dynamite!’ bellowed Fallon) and the blazing Firebirds, to the darkly comic Sucker For The Witch and the funky fidget of Your Love Is Incarceration, Psychic Warfare comprised a blur of gleaming hooks and unstoppable grooves, all topped with endless fresh examples of Fallon’s wonderfully idiosyncratic outlaw poetry.

Clutch are still the greatest rock’n’roll band on planet Earth, and this was another classic.


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Opeth - Pale Communion (2014)

’Twas a strange but beautiful thing – the sound of Swedish Beelzebub, and his fellow monsters of thinking-man’s metal, going ‘prog’.

Following their conception on death metal terms, Opeth had been veering down increasingly progressive paths ever since. Spectacular works like My Arms, Your Hearse and Blackwater Park transformed the possibilities for fresh-from-Hell death vocals, teaming them with exquisite atmospherics and inventive shades of metal.

2011’s Heritage moved further away from the metal world (to mixed reception), and then Pale Communion soared right into prog land. Death vocals were gone. Majestic, contemporary, King Crimson-echoing prog took its place. A worthwhile venture? Oh yes.

It may come as no surprise to learn that Steven Wilson mixed this album (he also mixed Heritage). He and Åkerfeldt had collaborated via Opeth, Porcupine Tree and their duo project Storm Corrosion, among other avenues. And the mutual influence they had exchanged over the years fully came to fruition on Pale Communion.

But the delicacy and absent death vocals didn't leave Opeth without nuts. Nor did the orchestral strings, grandly but smoothly linking various points. Menacingly minor nu-prog progressions and mighty guitar chops added colour and weight to the likes of Moon Above, Sun Below. It all generated a brooding, lavish environment for the carefully crafted tunes present here – clearly something Åkerfeldt and co focused on.

Probably the most enchanting aspect of Pale Communion was its mood shifts. Wilson had observed that prog rock is wonderful in its capacity to not fall into simple ‘happy song’ or ‘sad song’ categories. While every song here had a definite soul, the twists, turns, small swerves and sharp jolts they took us through were compelling. River, for instance, began as a prettily harmonised, unplugged piece, growing in stature via sublime classic rock guitar melodies, before jarring into a brooding prog-metal tangent.

So yes, the new prog age of Opeth had cometh – and with 2016's Sorceress and 2019's In Cauda Venenum it only grew. Mourn their death metal farewell – but more importantly, relish the result of an intelligent, engaging act taking a new stand. Captivating stuff.


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Metallica - Hardwired... To Self-Destruct (2016)

How do you cling on to your throne as the world’s biggest hard rock band for more than 25 years? Metallica have had a few wobbles over the decades: legal battles with fans, a few duff albums, bust-ups and fall-outs and ill-advised public therapy sessions. Their harshest critics would argue that in the process they have diluted thrash metal into safe family entertainment, mainstream enough to headline Glastonbury or pack cinemas with glossy IMAX concert films.

And yet, even in 2016 a new Metallica album was still a cultural event in a way few other rock releases are. They may no longer be the loudest, fastest or most abrasive, but these former thrash metal overlords remain the gold standard of how unashamedly heavy music can still compete with the biggest blockbuster names in pop and rap.

When Hardwired... dropped, eight years had elapsed since the multi-platinum Death Magnetic, the longest gap between studio albums in Metallica’s career. Initially they planned to work on Hardwired…To Self-Destruct with the same producer, the legendary Rick Rubin, but during the project’s long gestation studio engineer Greg Fidelman took over co-production with Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield.

The two lead-off singles were deceptively compact belters. Hardwired, the last song written and recorded for the album, was an exhilarating, three-minute blast of machine-gun punk-metal, all squealing tyres, screeching hand-brake turns and percussive staccato chants: ‘We’re so fucked! Shit outta luck!’ Yay! Moth Into Flame was another exercise in pummelling brevity, its hurtling centrifugal energy nicely offset against chiming minor-key chords. Both were punchy, choppy and relatively poppy by modern Metallica standards.

But as the album unfolded it expanded into six, seven and eight-minute epics. The apex of this billowing gigantism was Halo On Fire, a brooding power ballad framed by a widescreen vista that takes in mountainous crunch chords, fizzing geysers of super-fast guitar squiggle and towering volcanoes of fiery, Wagnerian excess; imagine a Game Of Thrones box set crammed into eight minutes of molten melodrama. And Am I Savage? was a gloriously ugly, scouring, relentless skull fucker with a lyric about bestial transformation and mighty Old Testament doom chords worthy of Black Sabbath. Zombie romance lasted forever in Now That We’re Dead, a louche, leering, lightly gothic love song in which Hetfield serenaded his corpse bride: ‘Now that we’re dead, my dear, we can be together.’ There were pleasing echoes of Kurt Cobain’s mordant wit within.

The album ended on a high with Spit Out The Bone, a monumental Gormenghast of dystopian thrash nihilism with a lyric celebrating humanity’s extinction at the hands of genocidal machines. ‘Utopian solution!’ Hetfield barked, ‘finally cure the Earth of Man!’ Exhilaratingly noisy and steeped in gleefully negative punker attitude, it was a welcome reminder of Metallica at their uncompromising best. Unshackled from orthodox notions of good taste, with Hardwired..., Metallica proved they can still make a gloriously hideous racket.


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Fantastic Negrito - Please Don't Be Dead (2018)

Fantastic Negrito will never be short of material. In his tumultuous life, the man born Xavier Dphrepaulezz has survived near-death experiences with gunmen, a near-fatal car crash that put him in a coma and cost him the use of a hand, million-dollar record deals and million-dollar record disasters, and grand disillusionment with the Hollywood lifestyle.

Thankfully, a unique background has made for a singular and spectacular multi-instrumentalist and singer.

Please Don’t Be Dead's roots burrowed deeply into the rich earth of the blues, and was inspired largely by addressing Dphrepaulezz's fears for the world his children are set to grow up in. It melded the personal with the political, completely unconfined by genre or self-censorship.

A Boy Named Andrew luxuriated in Middle Eastern vibes, Negrito’s characterful vocals dripping with soul; Dark Windows showcased the warm soul-baring of a master singer-songwriter; and the infectious and lingering closing track, Bullshit Anthem (‘Take that bullshit and turn it into good shit’) offered up an experience so insanely funky, you could imagine Prince looking down from his regal purple cloud and nodding in approval.

Prince aside, there were no other comparisons for Fantastic Negrito. He continues to dance to the beat of his own drum, and it’s hard not to want to join him.


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Idles - Joy As An Act of Resistance (2018)

Following their 2017 debut album Brutalism, Idles found themselves in a tricky, if familiar, position: as interest in the band mounted, they struggled with the pressures of delivering an anticipated second album. Then tragedy engulfed vocalist Joe Talbot when he lost his baby daughter. His concerns about the band were thrown into sharp perspective.

That second album became an honest, potent response to trauma – but one which, perhaps surprisingly, unearthed hope in the depths of its grief. Lead-off single Danny Nedelko was a celebration of the support that can be found within communities, and owed a debt to Sham 69 with its raucous football chant chorus. Never Fight A Man With A Perm, Gram Rock and Samaritans each challenged suffocating stereotypes of modern masculinity, set to a soundtrack of taught, infectious post-punk.

Then there was June. While Talbot’s daughter permeated the record, this is where her loss was addressed directly. ‘Dreams can be so cruel sometimes/I dreamt I kissed your crying eyes’ came the song’s opening couplet, before its sombre refrain ‘Baby shoes, for sale, never worn’.

This album was a heart-breaking but jubilant exploration of joy, honesty, fragility and expression as our most powerful means of human resistance.


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Foo Fighters - Wasting Light (2011)

Recorded on analog tape with no computers and no software, in the garage of Dave Grohl’s San Fernando Valley home, Wasting Light was Foo Fighters’ attempt to return to the nuts and gristle of proper bad-ass rocking.

Removing the gloss and shimmer from albums was in itself a contemporary trend around the beginning of the decade, but it turned out the no fuss approach suited the Foos well.

This album sounded a good deal heavier and barer than the Foos had managed before, and much closer to their live sound without succumbing to all out riffing – something that must have been tempting considering their hallowed position and the close proximity of all those power tools.

In a strange way, the Foo Fighters had become the people’s rock band by 2011 – a group who united casual music fans with obsessives who could tell you the middle names of everyone who ever played with Thin Lizzy. There were many reasons for this – one is that Grohl never took himself too seriously, another is that he never forgot the importance of a good chorus, he always surrounded himself with class musicians, and his former band Nirvana remain the lingua franca of all modern rock.

Since its release, Wasting Light might just have come closest to becoming Foo Fighters' true classic album. Occasional live guitarist Pat Smear (who played live for Nirvana just prior to Kurt Cobain’s suicide) rejoined the band as a core member, bringing with him a far more muscular and wiry sound, and seemingly freeing Grohl up for more howling at the moon action. White Limo was a speeding shredder that allowed Grohl to scream his lungs out, Miss The Misery a charging epic that climaxed in an unbridling collision of squealing guitar and grizzled barking. Masterful stuff.

There were of course the crowd pleasing anthems – These Days was an instant classic that adhered to the quiet-bit/loud-bit equation with gusto, Dear Rosemary featured a stunning duet with Hüsker Dü singer Bob Mould, and Walk was a gigantic motivational triumph-over-adversity rocker. There was also a Nirvana reunion of sorts, with Krist Novoselic contributing bass and accordion to I Should Have Known – a mournful blockbuster that was relentlessly interpreted as being about Grohl’s past.

Most bands struggle to follow a Greatest Hits album. Foo Fighters followed theirs with a record that sounded like another Greatest Hits album. Unstoppable.


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This British phenom has been compared to Bruce Springsteen, though his music sounds less like the Boss and more like The War On Drugs if Brandon Flowers became the new lead singer. That should give you an idea of how rousing and anthemic Fender’s debut LP, Hypersonic Missles, is. Of course, there are also occasional sax solos, so Bruce’s spirit is there, too.



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KOBRA AND THE LOTUS - "Black Velvet"

These guys do some pretty awesome covers as well as their original tracks...


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The greatest 1999 alt-rock radio album of 2019, I’ll Show You Stronger is loaded with extremely catchy emo-pop anthems that reimagine Jimmy Eat World with a Kate Bush makeover. Alyse Vellturo delivers her heartbroken lyrics in a husky voice that moves freely from a whisper to a full-throated bellow, an emotional contrast with the mathematical precision of the shiny guitars and insinuating basslines.


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You might know the name Ben Cook from his association with punk bands like F*cked Up and No Warning. But you might as well set all of that aside when approaching Cook’s work as Young Guv. Instead of screams and bulldozing guitars, Cook has crafted the two most winning power-pop records of 2019. Fans of Teenage Fanclub and Matthew Sweet will swoon.


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A musical adventurer who has roamed in the worlds of electronic and jazz music, Dave Harrington is also something of a stealth guitar hero, a side that he indulges in gloriously on Pure Imagination, No Country. While elements of jazz and ambient music abound, the sensibility is psychedelic rock, with several songs veering into jam-band territory.


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One of the most underrated bands in all of indie right now is Strange Ranger, a Portland quartet that’s shown an impressive, ahem, range in the past few years. On Remembering The Rockets, they revel in ’80s dream pop and delve into unexplored spaces between lo-fi guitar rock and zoned-out electronic music.


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Hammerfall Releases Official Video For New Single “Second to One”, Featuring Noora Louhimo Of Battle Beast

Today, HAMMERFALL has revealed a new version of their beautiful, energetic ballad, “Second to One”, featuring Noora Louhimo of Battle Beast. The original track was featured on HAMMERFALL’s chart-breaking album Dominion, which was released in August 2019 via Napalm Records. Noora Louhimo’s bittersweet vocals compliment Joacim Cans’ equally multifaceted performance, making this duet a true musical highlight of the new year.

Beautiful harmonies, emotional storytelling and powerful vocal lines weave throughout the song and will light your way in dark times. The song preaches themes of trusting your instincts and following your own heart, as well as taking time for yourself.


 Guitarist Oscar Dronjak on “Second to One”:

“It all started with Joacim suggesting we should try to write a song together with our long-time producer James Michael. We went over to Los Angeles for a weekend, not knowing what to expect. Within the first 30 minutes, I played an idea I had for James. He immediately responded with some chords and melodies, and we took it from there. Together, we wrote the music in just a couple of hours and met the next day to just finalize all the details. That’s how fast it can go sometimes when you get a feeling for something and the snowball just starts rolling, and it’s the greatest feeling in the world! The ‘hit-or-miss’ weekend in this case definitely turned out as a hit!”

Singer Joacim Cans on the duet:

“Already during the writing process, I had the feeling this song would be perfect as a duet – a sort of modern ‘Ozzy & Lita Ford’. I have had my eye on Battle Beast and Noora Louhimo for quite some time and was blown away by her vocal skills and stage presence. I had a feeling our voices would be a perfect match. When we decided to make the duet idea reality, I just picked up the phone and called Noora who instantly said ‘Hell Yeah!’ Working with Noora was nothing but awesome and we bonded the second we met. Not only is she an extremely talented vocalist, she is also a fantastic human being. The great connection between Noora and I really shows in the video clip for the song.”

Noora Louhimo on the duet and the video shooting:

“I was contacted by Joacim and asked if I wanted to do a duet with him on “Second to One”. My first thought was ‘what an honor’ and that I needed to listen to this song to make my final decision. Once I heard it, I knew it was going to be something special and agreed on the collaboration. I flew to Gothenburg for the sessions and even though I hadn’t met Joacim or the others from Hammerfall before, it felt very natural and easy to work with them. I also agree with Joacim that we hit it off right away and you can see that in the music video how comfortable things were between us. I am so excited to be part of this and to go on tour with them with Battle Beast in the end of January.”


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The Underground Thieves Release Instrumental Epic, «5.0.1′, Live At The Fillmore

The Underground Thieves, a Philadelphia-based rock band led by artist/songwriter/producer Nick Perri, today unveiled an exciting video for their fan-favorite live song, “5.0.1.” The hypnotic performance, featuring Perri on lead guitar, was filmed during the band’s sold-out shows in December supporting The Struts at the Fillmore Philadelphia and showcases the group’s electrifying stage presence and deep musical abilities.

“I wanted to take our live show up a notch and give the audience something unexpected, ” said Perri, who delivers an intense and emotional guitar solo. “‘5.0.1.’ grows and changes a little every night. Even though we have musical cues, it’s largely improvised and really keeps us on our toes.”

 The performance features Brian Weaver on bass; Justin DiFebbo on Hammond organ and synthesizer; and Zil Fessler on drums.  The video was co-produced by Ari Halbkram in collaboration with Derek Brad, Brynn Bailey, and Steven Hirsch. It is available to stream below and on the group’s official YouTube channel.

Video URL here:

The Underground Thieves’s Summer 2019 single, “Whole Lotta Money,” earned international critical acclaim and was voted song/video of the week in the UK by LouderSound.com and Classic Rock Magazine.

To learn more about The Underground Thieves and sign up for the band’s mailing list, visit



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Queensryche Release Lyric Video For «Inner Unrest»

Rock icons Queensrÿche release their new lyric video for "Inner Unrest". Watch the video, HERE.

  The track is off their most recent full-length album, The Verdict, which came out March 2019 via Century Media Records.

"'Inner Unrest' is an abstract characterization loosely based on the struggles dealing with PTSD. The internal and external battles one must fight daily," states Queensryche frontman Todd LaTorre about the track.

Queensryche is gearing up to hit the road for The Verdict 2020 Headline Tour, which includes special guests John 5 and Eve To Adam. The band will be on tour starting January 17th in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and wrapping up on February 27th in Orlando, Florida. VIP tickets are available for select dates. HERE.


All other information on upcoming tour dates can be found on Queensryche's website, HERE.



 The band has been touring nonstop in support of The Verdict, which debuted at 6 on Germany's Album Chart, 4 on the UK's Rock Chart, 8 on Sweden's Physical Album Chart, 9 on France's Physical Album Chart, 4 on USA's Hard Music Chart, 8 on USA's Rock Chart, 14 on USA's Top Current Chart and 16 on USA's Billboard Top Albums. The Verdict is available to purchase and stream, HERE



January 17 - Ft Lauderdale, FL - Culture Room

January 18 - St Petersburg, FL - Jannus Live

January 19 - Jacksonville, FL - Florida Theatre

January 22 - Austin, TX - Emo's

January 23 - Houston, TX - House of Blues

January 24 - San Antonio, TX - Aztec Theater

January 25 - Dallas, TX - House of Blues

January 28 - Phoenix, AZ - Marquee

January 29 - San Diego, CA - Music Box

January 30 - Anaheim, CA - House of Blues

January 31 - San Francisco, CA - Slims

February 1 - Sacramento, CA - Ace of Spades

February 4 - Portland, OR - Crystal Ballroom

February 5 - Seattle, WA - Neptune

February 7 - Denver, CO - Ogden

February 8 - Kansas City, MO - Knuckleheads*

February 9 - St Louis, MO - Delmar*

February 12 - Grand Rapids, MI - 20 Monroe

February 13 - Detroit, MI - St Andrew's Hall*

February 14 - Pittsburgh, PA - Roxian Theatre

February 15 - Sayerville, NJ - Starland Ballroom

February 16 - Boston, MA - Big Night

February 19 - Glensdale, PA Keswick Theatre

February 20 - Baltimore, MD Baltimore Sound Stage*

February 21 - North Myrtle Beach, SC - House of Blues

February 22 - Charlotte, NC - The Underground*

February 25 - Huntsville, AL - Mars Music Hall

February 26 - Atlanta, GA - Buckhead Theater*

February 27 - Orlando. FL - Plaza Live

*without John 5

 Watch "Propaganda Fashion":


Watch "Bent":


 Watch "Dark Reverie":


 Watch "Man The Machine":


 Watch "Light-years":


Follow Queensrÿche










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