Sunday, June 30, 2013

My Top 10 Albums of 2013, So Far...

Any genre, any artist. These are my top 10 favorite albums of the year so far.

10. Killscreen - Non-Fiction EP, a great pop-punk EP that's all around good.

9. Silverstein - This is How the Wind Shifts, a wonderfully cohesive project.

8. Justin Timberlake - 20/20 Experience, a solid R&B album that is artistic and enjoyable.

7. Logic - Welcome to Forever(mixtape), a free album from rapper Logic that is pure gold.

6. Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels, Killer Mike and El-P back again and tearing this up, plus it's free!

5. Kid Cudi - Indicud, this over time has become a favorite for me lately, I love it.

4. The Wonder Years - The Greatest Generation, they finally released an album that I love a lot, this album is awesome.

3. Black Sabbath - 13, a fantastic metal album from the creators themselves.

2. J. Cole - Born Sinner, if you read the review, you know, this album impressed me beyond reason.

1. Senses Fail - Renacer, what can I say? Senses Fail is one of my favorite albums, I love this album like you can't understand.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"J. Cole - Born Sinner" Review by Dom

Overview: A sinners album sent from Heaven.

J. Cole is a rapper from North Carolina and Born Sinner is his sophomore effort. As with Mac Miller, I've never been a big fan of Cole but with Cole it's more because I've never really listened to much from him. I've heard "Work Out" and "Who Dat" before this album but for some reason I was interested in this album. I wasn't expecting to like this, if anything Cole was already in the negative for me cause outside of his verse on "They Ready" by DJ Khaled with Big K.R.I.T. and Kendrick Lamar on I had never been impressed by him.

The Positive: "Villuminati" starts it off with a band which has Cole going hard with a Biggie sample mixed in for good measure. He tackles his struggles, homophobia, the Illuminati among other topics. "Power Trip" is the lead single from the album, while commercial sounds great with a great beat and hook sung by Miguel. "Runaway" and "Rich Niggaz" are definitely standouts for great reasons. "Forbidden Fruit" is a song I'm still not sure about, I like the song but at the same time, what's the point of featuring Kendrick Lamar if he's just gonna do the chorus and not a verse? Especially when the two of you say you have a collaborative album in the works. "Crooked Smile" is an ode to women in a positive light. "Let Nas Down" and "Born Sinner" are both amazing songs, the beat on the former is beautiful and the story on it is told so well. Since I have the deluxe I'll talk about those as well because they're worth it. "Miss America" is a great song and the second single, rightfully so. "New York Times" features 50 Cent also only on the hook, I'm okay with this because 50 has definitely fallen off quite a bit with his verses. We've had a few tastes of Street King Immortal and none of it was too impressive, except Em's verse. One of my favorite tracks on the entire project is the final song on the deluxe edition: "Sparks Will Fly" and I get why some people won't like it. It's a love song about staying with a girl to smooth out the rough patches instead of throwing in the towel. His verses are great and the hook sung by Jhene Aiko is beautiful.

The Negative: "Chaining Day". Seriously, that's it. If I'm nit-picking, the beats and production are good but nothing is too stellar. The only song for me where the production really shines is "Let Nas Down" with a 90's sounding beat updated for 2013. The beats aren't bad, they're there and they're good, most importantly they allow Cole to flow over them without him getting lost in the beat.

Amount of Tracks Kept (Including Deluxe Edition): 18/21

Rating: 9/10

"Mac Miller - Watching Movies With the Sound Turned Off" Review by Dom

Overview: Easy Mac with the cheesy raps comes through.

Mac Miller is a rapper from Pittsburgh who gained a lot of buzz through various mixtapes and his huge single "Donald Trump". This is his second album following 2011's Blue Slide Park. I've never been a big fan of Miller, I like some of the features he's done, his XXL cyhper verse was pretty crazy and I had yet to find a song of his that really captured that energy. I do enjoy "Donald Trump" and "Frick Park Market" for what they are but outside of that I'm not a fan of Miller.

The Positive: By far, the opening track is one of the best songs he's ever written. It's introspective, deep and rather lyrical. "I'm Not Real" which features Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt is a great track as well. "Bird Call" is produced by Clams Casino who usually produces spacey, getting high beats as clearly evident in the 5 tracks he produced on A$AP Rocky's Live. Love. A$AP but on this he produces a banger in which Mac sounds so comfortable over. His flow sounds a lot better on this album over every other Mac song I've heard. A complaint he receives a lot is that he's boring with a monotone voice, while that's not entirely false he stays mostly fresh on this album and strays from being too boring aside from a few songs. The production and beats on this are pretty solid featuring Mac Miller, Pharrell Williams, Earl Sweatshirt, Clams Casino, Flying Lotus, The Alchemist and Chuck Inglish among a few others. The all together make the album sound cohesive and not just a collection of tracks.

The Negative: Some of these tracks are rather boring and just not good. Unsurprisingly all of the tracks I don't like have no features, just Mac on them. "Avian", "S.D.S', "I Am Who I Am (Killin' Time)", "REMember", "Youforia" and "Claymation" are these tracks. They're boring and unimaginative. Luckily for him, there's 19 tracks(including deluxe edition" so these negatives don't drop the rating too much.

The Features: One of the biggest reasons I checked this out was because of the features on it. Ab-Soul shows up on "Matches" and tears his verse to absolute pieces. Action Bronson appears on a 6-minute track that you wouldn't think would work but somehow it does. ScHoolboy Q and Jay Electronica kill their verses on "Gees" and "Suplexes Inside of Complexes and Duplexes", respectively. Finally Tyler, The Creator shows up on the deluxe edition on the track "O.K." and just comes through with a classic Tyler verse that's just great. Unfortunately for Mac his features outshine him. He did his homework and got some underground guys with buzz and brought them on and they brought their A-games. I think the biggest thing is the change in voice from Mac to anything else.

Overall: Not a bad album by any means, I don't know how much I'll be returning to it though. The features really came in and did their thing and probably saved this project from being abysmal. There's guys that can carry an album by themselves and Mac Miller is not one of them.

Number of Tracks Kept: 13/19

Rating: 6.5/10

Saturday, June 22, 2013

"Black Sabbath - 13" Review by Dom

Overview: 13 is Sabbath's lucky number.

13 is legendary metal band Black Sabbath's 19th studio album and the first with original singer Ozzy Osbourne back in 35 years. This is the first studio album released under the Black Sabbath name since 1995's Forbidden, the band released an album in 2009 under the name Heaven & Hell with the late great Ronnie James Dio handling vocals. This is being advertised as a reunion album but it's not full, the band has Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler but is missing drummer Bill Ward. Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine fame handles drums as a "guest musician" on the album.

The Positive: Pretty much everything. Iommi's riffs are as good as ever, possibly better than anything he's written in quite a long time. Ozzy, who I thought would sound awful, as he has on his solo albums for the past decade sounds as good as he did in 1970. You would never know Wilk was behind the drum kit if he wasn't in the credits, he blends into the Sabbath mold perfectly. For this album I HIGHLY recommend buying the deluxe edition, the Best Buy one if you can. The standard holds 8 songs and with the deluxe you get an extra 3(4 at Best Buy) and are they worth the extra money. "Zeitgeist" was the first track to really make me say wow, it's an acoustic-ish, slower song but it's performed fantastically, Ozzy sounds great on it. "Age of Reason", "Damaged Soul" and "Dear Father" probably have the most monstrous riffs on the album and are some of the best in the Sabbath catalog. Most of the songs on the album are on the longer side with all but 5 tracks reaching over the 5-minute mark. In total, including all 4 bonus tracks the album comes in at an hour and 12 minutes which is damn long, especially in this decade. Luckily for the band they give you amazing songs and the album never really dulls down.

The Negative: The single, "God is Dead?". While it's not a bad song, it was a bad choice as the lead single for the album, as it's slower and just under 9 minutes long. I would've chosen "Live Forever" as the single, it's a 4 and a half minute song with a killer riff that just plays amazingly. The opening track, "The End of the Beginning" is a little lackluster as well, it's slower but it does pick up but the song doesn't do much for me. I really wish the 4 bonus tracks were just part of the standard album because they really deserve to be as they're just as good and some are even better than the tracks on the standard edition. The lyrics can be a bit corny occasionally but not to an unbearable degree. Besides that, this album exceeded any expectation I had for this album.

Overall: This album is great, definitely deserving of the Black Sabbath name. 13 is definitely a top 10 Sabbath album, maybe in time a top 5 but their catalog is so impressive that cracking the top 5 would be near impossible. If I had to describe the sound I'd say it's a cross between the instrumentation and heaviness of Dehumanizer along with classic Ozzy vocals. If you're a fan of Sabbath than you should already have this, if you like metal, get this, if you don't maybe this will convert you. The album is that good. The band that invented heavy metal came back in 2013 to show that they still got it and that the world still loves classic sounding metal, proven by the fact that 13 is the bands very first number 1 album in the US> Congrats to the band for that and thank you for this album.

Number of Tracks Kept: 10/12

Rating: 9/10

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sister Blog - The Perks of Being a Cinephile: A Film Review Blog

Hey guys, just a quick message to let you know that I will be starting a sister blog for my film reviews. I've wanted to do one for a while and it's time I finally do so.

You can find it at I'll also put a link up on Facebook.

This doesn't mean I'll stop with the music, I currently have J. Cole's Born Sinner and Black Sabbath's 13 in the works. After that I'm planning on doing Kanye's Yeezus and possibly Mac Miller's new album. Also the Green Day trilogy is going to happen, just please understand it's a lot of music to digest and to try to condense into one review but I promise I am working on it!

Thank you for the support!

Monday, June 17, 2013

"Falling in Reverse - Fashionably Late" Review by Dom

NOTE: I had 2 ideas for the overview and couldn't decide so I'll post both.

Overview 1: Unfashionably Late for the rap-metal fad.

Overview 2: What the fuck happened?

Fashionably Late is the second album from metalcore band Falling in Reverse. This album comes off the heels of 2011's The Drug in Me is You which I thought was a pretty good album. Vocalist Ronnie Radke is formerly of Escape the Fate recording only their 2006 debut, Dying is Your Latest Fashion and then being kicked out after getting jail time.

The Positive: Well, there ain't much. The title track is by far the best track on the album, a catchy chorus and Radke's vocals are on point. "Born to Lead" is another good track with the band shining over Radke for the first time in the band's history. Jacky Vincent (lead guitar) has an incredible solo which leads into a hell of a breakdown. "Champion" opens the album, the first 2 minutes are great and then Radke starts rapping, and while it's corny and unwarranted, it fits the song and Radke actually raps pretty well and the band rewards you with a killer breakdown for sitting through it.

The 'Meh': "It's Over When it's Over" and "Self-Destruct Personality", both tracks are alright, not bad, not good but just in the middle, also known as 'filler'.

The Negative: The other 9 tracks. Let's start with fan favorite "Alone" (please sense the sarcasm there). What a waste of a chorus, I love this chorus so much that I've tried convincing my ears that his rapping is bearable but dammit it's just not. It sucks, he says "White boy on the beat" like he's the first white rapper, I can rattle off 10 white rappers that could rap circles around Radke. These 9 songs, 7 of them are ruined 100% by Radke's shittastic "rapping". Ronnie Radke, you're not "shitting on rappers" and you're sure as hell not "crossing the line", you're just pissing off any fanbase you had. Please do not listen to this song, I beg you. "Bad Girl Club", this song is laughably bad, emphasis on the laughably. I want you to listen to this because you will laugh, literally. "Game Over" is his retarded way of comparing life to video games. "Keep Holding On" is supposed to be his 'heartfelt' track but after listening to all of the tracks beforehand, it makes no sense. Ronnie Radke is an asshat and he knows that, why try to mask it with this track? It's so bad. "Fuck the Rest", who woulda thought a song with that title would've been so light and fun sounding. That's okay, provided the song is good but GUESS WHAT, it's not. Radke says "this is song is for everyone that's had enough, this song is for you" but he sounds so insincere about it and like someone forced him to say it. The country-inspired "Drifter" is pure garbage. I literally can't run out of bad things to say about this album.

Overall: They messed up, how did the rest of the band let this happen, seriously? "Rolling Stone" is a great song, until Radke tears it to pieces and pisses on its corpse with his rapping. They should change the name of the band to "The Ronnie Radke Show" cause it's pretty clear he doesn't give a squirt of piss about the other band members. What happened to the emotion and the passion from tracks like "The Day I Left the Womb"? He's cocky and it doesn't work, comparatively Kanye West is also a cocky ass but his music stays amazing. Radke's ego brings him down and the music down extremely.

Number of Tracks Kept: 5/14

Rating: 3.5/10

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"For Today - Prevailer - EP" Review by Dom

Overview: For Today prevails with Prevailer.

For Today is a Christian metalcore band from Iowa who have been around since 2005. This is the band's 5th official release after last year's full-length, Immortal which was a great album. The sound they have now was perfected and solidified in 2010's album Breaker which featured guest vocalists from Stray From the Path and Close Your Eyes.

The band's sound is typical metalcore but with more proficiency on each member's instruments. There are 2 standouts with the band, one, their breakdowns are phenomenal, absolutely heart-stopping and hard-hitting. Secondly is vocalist Mattie Montgomery. His screams are absolutely crushing, yet understandable and most importantly, you can hear his emotion and passion within his screams.

Positive: This EP is contains 5 tracks, 4 brand new and 1 acoustic version of the track "Fearless" which was the lead single off of Immortal. Beginning with "Fearless", the acoustic version is good and it was a nice change of pace for the band but the original still trumps this version for me. Doesn't mean this version is bad, the original is just near perfect. My favorite track off of this EP has to be "From Zion", it's heavy, Mattie's vocals are fantastic and the breakdown is just gnarly. "Flesh and Blood" is also great, the band puts in just as much energy into this EP as they do into their full-lengths and it paid off for the band and definitely paid off for the fans. "Crown of Thorns" is a hard-hitting track as well, each song on here is worthy of being part of the For Today discography.

Negative: I'm struggling to find any bad things to say about this EP. It was too short? It's an EP I can't fault the band on that. The closest I can come to is saying that I wish that they picked a different track to interpret acoustically. At the same time, the acoustics on the track are beautiful as are the vocals.

Rating: 8.5/10

"The Purge" Movie Review by Dom

The Purge is a horror/thriller film directed by James DeMonaco; this is he second film he's directed. The only real notable name in this movie is lead actor Ethan Hawke who, as per usual, brings his A-game and knocks it out of the park.

The Purge is set 9 years in the future in a time where for 12 hours starting at 7pm March 21st and ending 7am March 22 all crime is legal. Crime, outside of those 12 hours is at an all time low, unemployment is at an all time low as well and many believe that this purge has saved the country. Now most horror movies have the one sensible person in the group and everyone else can't seem to tie their shoes without dying, in this film Ethan Hawke is sensible and his family are idiots. His son lets a stranger into their fortified house and never redeems himself, throughout the movie I was hoping that he would get killed.

Rhys Wakefield plays the main villain, who's name is never revealed. Wakefield does a fantastic job at being menacing, clever, creepy and overall is a great villain. I hope this role lands him more villainous roles because truth be told he could knock them out of the park.

The movie, as a horror movie, kind of failed, it wasn't very creepy or scary, only once was I scared. What scared me more was when my girlfriend would scream because she was scared. Once the strangers enter the house the movie turns into a cat and mouse game since both parties have guns it becomes fun to watch. Had they gone completely cat and mouse movie with some horror elements instead of the other way around this movie could've been a lot better. Instead we get a standard home invasion horror movie that fails to scare or live up to the fantastic set up which had a ton of potential.

Negative: It doesn't fail as a film, it does however fail to live up to the hype and deliver on the promise the set up gave us. It's not as bad as some have said but it's certainly not as good as some have said.

Positive: What the film gives us is a villain who is great at what he does, and an intriguing cat and mouse type movie which creates for a fun time at the movies.

Rating: 6/10

Friday, June 7, 2013

"Megadeth - Super Collider" Review by Dom

Overview: Should be called Average Collider.

Super Collider is the 14th album from thrash gods Megadeth. This is the bands 4th album in the last 6 years which is a pretty good amount of music coming out in a relatively short amount of time. To put it in perspective the band Tool has been around for 23 years and has released the same amount of albums.

Negative: For me, the band has kind of been on a downward slope, I loved 2007's United Abominations, 2009's Endgame was pretty good, while 2011's TH1RT3EN was lackluster. I heard the lead single which is the title track and hated it, the song is just plain bad. It's a poppy take on metal and it doesn't work at all for me. This album for me, the bulk of the tracks just blend together and don't stand out for better or worse. By now the Megadeth formula has been pretty standard lately, great guitarwork, Mustaine's trademark vocals, corny yet somehow cool lyrics and a great rhythm section to pull it all together. All of that is present on Super Collider yet somehow it still falls short. The band plays fantastically and Mustaine still sounds Mustaine-y. A complaint I've heard rather frequently about this album is that it's not fast-paced and thrashy, while that's true that doesn't mean it's bad. Slayer's Diabolus in Musica was slower and I personally love that album. Metallica's black album was slower and that brought metal to a whole new level. The difference between those albums and this one is that those albums were good. Mustaine's lyrics are cornier than ever and sound almost uninspired. The track "Off the Edge" made me laugh because he talks of how he's insane and the world is going crazy and it's funny because everyone knows he's crazy and he's acknowledging it now and it's comical, song sucks though. The cover of Thin Lizzy's "Cold Sweat" was odd, it's a decent cover, I prefer Sodom's cover of it and obviously, being a huge fan of Thin Lizzy, I love the original. Megadeth does it justice, but not enough to be a notable cover. Also this album title sucks really badly.

Positive: With all of that being said, this is still Megadeth and they still write some kick ass music. The opening track "Kingmaker" is a great track, one of the faster ones on the album. "Burn!" is a cornier track yet it works so well and it's a great song. David Drainman of Disturbed(yes, I know he has his band Device now but no one gives a shit about them) has a feature on the album, the track "Dance in the Rain" and being a fan of Disturbed I was looking forward to his guest spot and he delivered. The track is a good track without him, the band slows it down and builds it up to a killer solo and then Drainman's vocals and it cements the song together. Drainman doesn't use his typical Disturbed-style vocals(there's no ooh-wa-ah-ah), it's a darker sounding tone and it works with the song. "The Blackest Crow" is an interesting track, complete with a slower tempo and a banjo, you read that right. I don't love the song but something about it keeps me coming back. The final track that I have in the "positive" column is the song "Forget to Remember, it's a pretty good song, it's a midtempo track, it sounds like it should've closed the instead of the Thin Lizzy cover.

The band is fantastic, the riffs are great, Chris Broderick's leads are amazing, as are Mustaine's. Ellefson plays well but there weren't many standout basslines that we've come to expect from him. Shawn Drover's drumming is always great and he doesn't disappoint on this album either.

I really want another track like "A Tout le Monde" a nice slower track with a perfectly placed guest vocal spot(guest vocals not necessary though). I really think Mustaine and the band should take a little while off, they've been cranking out albums like crazy, which is good provided the music stays good. So I think they should tour for this album then maybe take the rest of the year off, from touring and writing, then play some festivals in the summer of '14, then maybe a sweet Winter tour then a few months off for the band from touring and writing again then after that maybe start writing, let everyone recharge their creative batteries. Just my opinion.

Overall: A decent album, definitely not as bad as Risk as some have called it. It's one of the worst Megadeth albums but with a discography the stature of Megadeth's that's not saying that it's really a bad album per se. It's worth picking up if you're a Megadeth completist, if not, check it out on YouTube first.

Rating: 6/10

"Escape the Fate - Ungrateful" Review by Dom

Overview: Escape the Fate make an un-great-ful album.

Ungrateful is the fourth studio album by metalcore band Escape the Fate and the third album with lead vocalist Craig Mabbit who was formerly the vocalist of Bless the Fall. This album sees the band at their heaviest since their debut Dying is Your Latest Fashion with singer Ronnie Radke in 2006.

With many fans being left disappointed after 2010's self-titled album this album cranks up the heaviness for better and for worse. In some songs the heaviness seems forced and not genuine. We all know that Mabbit likes to sing like an R&B star but it doesn't always mesh well. "Live Fast, Die Beautiful" talks of how girls try to take advantage of Mabbit's fame which is fine and dandy but who considers him famous? Altpress and people up to and around the age of 20 know who he is but he could walk down a street without anyone saying something to him. "Risk it All" is an interesting track, where, as the title states, they are risking it all but it makes me wonder what this "all" that they're talking about is. They just signed a new record deal with Eleven Seven Music who's roster boats the likes of Motley Crue, Buckcherry, Drowning Pool and Papa Roach. But what's really the question is: Do they think that this album is risking anything? The short answer is, it's not. It's a rather generic album, with heavy songs where you'd expect them(beginning and end), softer songs where you'd expect them(in the middle to break up the album) and not the most inventive lyrics. "One for the Money" is possibly the corniest and dumbest. The chorus consists of the age-old phrase that nearly everyone is familiar with, "one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready and four to go." What the band does to spice this chorus up is add a gratuitous amount of "motherfuckers" in it which just comes off lazy and idiotic. The bulk of the songs are just plain forgettable, not standing out for being good but also not for being terrible with the exceptions of "Chemical Love" and "Desire", those tracks just plain suck.

Now, the positives. The lead single, "Ungrateful" is a great track, it's heavy as hell, the chorus is well-sung and catchy and the lyrics are actually pretty solid. "You're Insane" is another good one, it's not as heavy but Mabbit's clean vocals really shine on the track and it also has a good solo in it, yes a guitar solo. "Fire it Up", the closing track of the album really fires you up(2 puns in this review is 2 too many). It's a great track with a great solo, chorus and a hell of a breakdown to close the track and the album itself. My other 2 positive standouts are "Until We Die" and "Forget About Me", both of which I wasn't crazy about the first listen through but after listening to the album front to back 3 times these songs really grew on me, with good vocals and not being as corny as some other tracks they truly deserved their spot on this album.

NOTE: I know there are 2 bonus tracks on the deluxe edition, I haven't heard them therefore I cannot comment on them.

Overall: This album isn't great, I'm not sure I could call it good either, it's a few steps up from their self-titled album and This War is Ours but doesn't even come close to touching their debut album. Ungrateful showed me that the band has the capacity and the potential to write some pretty good tracks and perform them well. Hopefully in 10 years we can look back on this album as the stepping stone that brought the band to make great albums. After their self-titled album I had given up on them, declared they'd never make good music again but this album proved me wrong and I'm happy that it did.

Rating: 4/10