Blacktop Mojo: “Burn the Ships"
The newest release from Blacktop Mojo is built on a foundation of insight that reaches well beyond the years of the members who make up the band. In short; these guys are way ahead of their time. There is a well of talent, breadth of style, and influence infused into every song.
“Burn the Ships” releases on March 10th, and I had the pleasure of getting an early copy.
So, let's break it down.
The title, “Burn The Ships,” is a historical reference to the conquistador, Cortez, and references making a stand and facing the fight, knowing there’s no turningback, and being fully committed to that realization.
The whole album feels like the work of a fully seasoned touring band. The attention to and placement of all of the little details reveal the skill and experience of a band who has been writing and doing shows for 20 years with the same lineup. The thing is, Blacktop Mojo’s only been at it for five.
The mesh and weave of the band members become clearly evident on this album. The epic nature of songs like “Prodigal,” a song which not only plays but feels like its author languished a hundred years to get the inspiration for the lyrics.
Songs like “Sweat” display the laborious journey of not only making a record but of life's struggles. That journey is translated into music and fortified by grunge backbones that we, the listeners, can all understand. Blacktop Mojo gives us a music with far-reaching tentacles able to touch every node, invoking emotion and offering inspiration.
As an album, “Burn The Ships” is truly the work of a like-minded, harmonious, and talented group of musicians who make it obvious that they love their craft. The sync and style of the music are refreshing and on point.
With songs like “End of Days” and “8000 Lines,” Blacktop Mojo glides with ease across the generational canvas of rock and roll. Their respect for what each member contributes is apparent and seems a part of what brings every moment and every mood to life. And, that’s just it, the album feels alive.
I admit with no shame that this album has been on repeat day after day. It is the kind of album that you will be able to listen to over and over again. Not just in the early days of ownership but in ten years, in twenty years.
Blacktop Mojo's release of “Burn The Ships” is a worthy culmination of the blood, sweat, and tears of five amazing musicians on a mission to bring passion back to rock and roll. It has quickly convinced me that this is the first "Must-Have" album of 2017.
Darkness; Ending "Unkindness of Ravens"
You know that feeling you get... when you hear gritty rock and roll... when the distortion rings as the first lick on the strings of a guitar rings out. Unkindness of Ravens, it's like that.
That was my constant state of existence while listening to this album. These guys have so much going on in their music, nothing is arbitrary , every sound... every note... is intentional and belongs right where they left it.
I have often said that newer artists need not be afraid to do an instrumental.. an intro or play with atmospheric measures. Darkness Ending in this regard are bold; brazen and refreshingly welcome to my ears. Every track is a journey of music with milestones of influence and skill, and they manage to make even the most mellow track feel heavy , riffs dripping with the tone and feel that tug at every rock and roller.
Darkness; Ending is definitely a rock and roller's band Bobby, Greg, Kevin, and Brandon hail from Austin Texas and you can tell they have absorbed all ,that is, one of the hottest music scenes in the U.S.
The ethereal "Machination" is something I have missed from the 70's and 80's rock that got lost in today's translation of rock and metal. Darkness Ending make it new , like experiencing it for the first time all over again
It is easy to tell that these guys are as much in tune with each other as they are their instruments. The cohesive nature of the album would be nearly unattainable otherwise.from songs like "Telling Stories To the Dead" where even the clean opening riffs are addictive, to the Grungy heaviness of "Better Than Me" in a perfect storm of the drums and bass backbone.
Their newest single "Bullhead" is a melting pot of style and finesse in a "Sabbath meets Zakk Wylde" collision of musical giants. If I were to try and compare them to a band or cite influences, the list could go on for days... so if you are wondering about their sound.. check them out.. they sound like Darkness; Ending! All in all a band and an album for the rocker in everyone!
If you consider yourself a rocker,Unkindness of Ravens is an album to watch for. If you are in the Austin area check them out Dec 2nd at Texas Mist, a new permenant member of the #ROTRArmy ... Darkness; Ending
~ Shamas Maximus
Chrysalis is a band with so much depth and talent; "Reminder" is easily a hallmark of evidence to support that statement. There were times while listening to this album, that, I felt like there were two entire bands playing. The progressive metal feel of Billy Norris' and Jared Sturgis' rhythm march. which came across in songs like their first single, "My Eternity" is immense.
In songs like, "Atlas", their ability to slam on the brakes; only to be off at full speed in a moment, is a musical, maniacal and mathematical display of precision.
Frontman Yessi Burton lays down a vocal performance, album-wide, that sells every word with a genuine passion for words spoken and metered nuances of all out rage. He is clearly an inspired man, that makes you hang on every word said, spoken and screamed in songs like "Sleep In The Rain".
Gabe Julian and Gabe Gallego, melody masters, and representative of everything that you could want from axe men. The range of riffs and rhythms are massive. If keeping up with the brutality of the rhythm section of Chrysalis were not enough, these two pump out every range of notes from soft and gentle, shredding galore to atmospheric lapses in time and space.
"Up The Stairs" and songs like "Borrowing Distance" could be used as book ends to cap off the sick range of music that flows through what have to be two men with inspiration lists that would surprise and educate us all. In effect, "Reminder" is an album that could inspire, in every mood you could be in. This needs to be one of your first album purchases of 2017, it drops Friday, January 13th, and certainly serves as a "Reminder", that, Chrysalis has chops that come with over a decade of ass kicking. Here's to another ten.
~ Shamas Maximus
Death Division "Angels Of The Black Dawn Part One"
From the first note; of the first song, it is apparent to even the casual hard rock and metal fan, these guys know what the hell they are doing.
"Angels Of The Black Dawn Part One" is the latest offering from the Gigantour and FearfestEvil alumni; Death Division. Frontman Sean De La Tour makes up one third of a three man hit squad, including pros Jerry Montano (HellYeah, Danzig,The Deadlights, Nothingface) and Alex Rivas and the result is and extreme mixture of rock and metal that does not dissappoint.
From the moment you hear the addictive riffs and powerful lyrics of their current single "The Truth " you know this EP was born of an industry wisdom that is a rare find. "Angels Of The Black Dawn Part One" is perfectly at home, as well as, innovative, in todays hard rock and metal scene and runs the gambit of the metal genre. The EP travels with the precision and poise of an acrobat along the edge of Hard rock , earning the self description of "Extreme Hard Rock" with ease.
If music were food, Death Division surely is one of the new hot shot chefs of the industry , cooking up satisfying lyrics and riffs that stick with you long after you reluctantly turn off your mp3 player. Since it's release I have countlessly caught myself singing and or humming "The Truth" and after hearing the rest of the EP, I an finding more and more addictictive riffs, melodies and lyrical gold that keeps me coming back for more. With songs like "Dead Hereos" raging inside of my head long after hearing it to the contrast of "In Loving Memory" , "Angels Of The Black Dawn Part One" is truly the complete package and is not to be missed; it makes it's debut June 24th and will have an exclusive airing in full on The SHow! with yours truly the day before it's release on the 23rd of June. This is one you will be replaying over and over.
One Less Reason "The Memories Uninvited"
This album is described by Cris Brown as the culmination of his aspirations for the band One Less Reason. I'd say he had high expectations , and hit the mark directly.
The Memories Uninvited is an epic journey through the gauntlet of Active and Hard rock that should not be overlooked or dismissed. It should be delved into over and over again and absorbed at every turn and every word of every song.
The album provides a clear look into the southern influenced life of rockers in a down to earth ,earnest and believable journey through rock and roll in a melting pot of emotions and proclamations.
From the first track released "Break Me" and it's "out of the gate" pace and lyrical angst to the soft melodic and meaningful "Sometimes" , Cris Brown and company hit every high point of emotion and skill that creates an album of pure rock bliss filled with wisdom of lyrics and harmony of soul. As I listened to the album I was blown away , track after track , by perfection in arrangement and masterful turn of phrase. It is clear that Cris Brown had a lot on his mind while writing this album and invested a lot of ,both life experiences and his creative emotions into this album. It is an album of love, and life lived.
Cris sings it like a man in love with his life and his passions. Every track on this album is a masterpiece, we will all have our favorite tracks , my personal is "Time", with "Where Were You" as a very close second, but I truly loved every song on the album.
The album hit streets August 19th on all platforms.Go get the album today and find your favorite track. "The Memories Uninvited" , by One Less Reason is sure to be a purchase without buyer's remorse.
Message From Sylvia
Releasing their self-titled debut on April 7th, Message From Sylvia is poised to evolve with hard rock however it grows. The album encompasses all that the current surge of greatness in the hard rock, post metal core, and active rock scene entails. Regardless of how you slice the Rock and Roll pie, Message from Sylvia adds addictive flavor to every cross-section of modern rock. Front man Matthew Nevitt infuses raw emotion and genius into well-thought-out lyrics that keep you hanging on every yell and vocal twist. As evidenced by the diversity of his vocal prowess on the album, it seems he can sing anything. From songs like “December (Forever),” which has an active rock feel to the progressive metal feel of my current favorite track, “Embrace The Rage,” Nevitt makes this album one of the first must-haves of the year. With a flawless vocal performance on every track and the insight of great meter and poetry, Matthew Nevitt is definitely a voice (and front man) worthy of rock’s legacy.
With Zach on drums and Isaac, on the bass, we get musical archeologists, constructing the skeleton of each song with precision and skill, offering a diversity of song structures and vivid sound. Songs like “A Victim of Yourself,” which ranges vastly from the sound of songs like “Alive” make listening to the album from beginning to end a modern roller coaster ride on the spine of rock-n-roll.
Axe master Dane is a shred master ahead of his time, laying down in-your-face riffs and melodies fit for the kings and queens of rock fandom. He can turn on a dime from an eerie light melody to the chasm of ear-splitting riffs that can shove their way into your addictions. Such nuanced and unexpected shifts can be seen on tracks like “Army of One,” which seems to me like an all-encompassing trip through the emotions of rock- n-roll. His attention to detail, timing, and rhythm makes him an axe-wielding maestro not to be missed.
This album has something for everyone and belongs in every rock lover’s collection. Check them out on Facebook @MsgFromSylvia; watch for upcoming performances near you, and go buy this debut album from a band that screams longevity in the rock-n-roll game.
~ Shamas Maximus