All albums with an overall rating of 8.0 and above are Certified Rockin'
Bourbon House - "Wild Abandon" (8.3)
Disappearance - "Humanity Pending" (8.0)
The Martyr Complex - "Construct" (8.7)
More Then Merry - "No Ceiling" (7.3)
Scarlet Curve - "Decennial" (7.0)
"Wild Abandon" (the second release from Bourbon House) rides high on wave after wave of soul. Vocalist Lacey delivers throughout with range, feels and a hold-nothing-back attitude. Drums overall feel like they take a back seat to the heavily-featured bass guitar and the guitars - while good in the beginning - get even more interesting the deeper into the album you get. While the rocking parts feel good and get your head bobbing, the quieter moments of this album are superb.
The production of "Wild Abandon" is dry, crisp and groovy... never feeling over-saturated or over-produced. In a manner of feeling, the album manages to balance a resemblance to a "modern stoner rock" while also feeling like a vehicle for Bourbon House's 60's & 70's funk rock influences.
This album stands on it's own well and just like bourbon itself, "Wild Abandon" will age well over time.
The interlude/bridge during "Take Us Away"
Reviewed by: John
Since their inception in 2013, Disappearance has grown a lot. Moving on from former singer Megan Orvold (now of Casket Robbery), they chose to have two singers, one clean and one aggressive. Their sound has only become more intense.
The production on their sophomore effort, Humanity Pending, is excellent. The heavy influence of metalcore/djent stalwarts Periphery and Veil of Maya definitely comes through on this album. While the music isn't exactly breaking any new boundaries of the genre, it will definitely draw interest of those fans and keep heads bobbing through the length of the record. There are some memorable guitar riffs and breakdowns and the rhythm sections holds it down admirably throughout. The aggressive screams and growls are consistently good as well. Where the album tends to falter a bit is in the clean vocals. They are not nearly as well produced as the growls, and simply not as well executed either. The melodies have lots of potential, but the singer needs to hone his craft a bit. There are many times during the album where the song really chugs along only to be derailed by a sloppy clean chorus or the vocals falling off key. However, you can tell they put their hearts into this music and that goes a long way. "Wolves Amongst Sheep", the opening track, is definitely a standout and it was smart of them to start the album there and pull in the listener. The breakdown at the end absolutely DESTROYS. Other highlights include "Declaration" and a cover of the Lil Jon classic "Get Low".
Disappearance gave it a hell of an effort on this album and they seem poised to break out of the Madison, WI scene and make a name for themselves. Look out!
Standout moment : The breakdown in "Wolves Amongst Sheep"
Reviewed by: Matt
The Martyr Complex's "Construct" is a six song (27 minute) EP released in March of 2019. On this album, the West Bend quartet unleash a brutal onslaught while carrying on a consistent sci-fi feel throughout.
The production on "Construct" is simply outstanding and sounds better than many albums you'll hear with a big label backing the band. The songs come at you very hard, yet all aspects of this recording feel clear, precise and intense. Over the course of the EP, The Martyr Complex show that they can deliver in both the craziness as well as providing some great solace from the madness through well-executed quieter moments. While every song proves to be exceptionally heavy & blistering, "Voyager" and "Zetsu" feel slightly less abrasive than the other songs on the album.
There are no clean vocals on this deathcore / djent release but vocalist Francesco shows enough versatility in his screams and growls to keep things interesting over the length of the album. The band plays well off of each other and their chemistry shines through and gives the EP balance. The breakdowns on "Construct" come rather unexpectedly at times - but they do not make the tracks stumble in any way. By resisting the all-too-predictable method of build-up before breakdown, The Martyr Complex throws the listener into the breakdown, which further escalates the chaos.
If this was the band's 2nd/3rd release, it would be impressive... considering this is the very first release from The Martyr Complex, it goes down as a stellar recording and sends the band into the "must listen" category for whatever they do next.
Standout moment: The breakdown in "Second Chance"
Reviewed by: John
At 22 minutes in length, the "No Ceiling" EP by Oshkosh trio More Then Merry was released in 2018. Founded in 2012, this EP is More Then Merry's sophomore effort and the follow-up to 2017's "Long Live Vinyl".
On "No Ceiling", More Then Merry works well as a trio to give one another equal moments in the spotlight. Throughout this release, you'll hear guitar solos, tasteful drum fills and even some bass licks - each of those having their moment as the rest of the band backs them up. Over the course of the EP, you find that the sound is stripped down to vocals, clean guitar, bass & drums. There are times where an additional percussion element is mixed in or an effect is thrown onto the guitar, but overall, this is a very straightforward approach from More Then Merry. You won't hear a wall of sound. Instead, you catch more detail in what each musician is doing at every moment. At times, this works and the rawness and simplicity of the mix feels good, but there is also a feeling of instrumental breaks between verses and choruses extending on for a long time, particularly when it's a standard riff in the song. The vocal performance and lyrics on "No Ceiling" feel safe - I wanted those moments where I was blown away and really caught up in the vocals. The vocals are performed well including some on-point harmonies, but I want to feel them more. The closing track "Nashvillain" provides a breath of fresh air in that it stands apart from the other five songs on the EP - however, it may have benefited from a middle-of-the-album placement to break up the other songs that sound relatively similar to one another in comparison.
Overall, More Then Merry showcases plenty of talent on the instrumental side from all three members on "No Ceiling" - but where the band can make the most headway is by improving the lyrics & vocals for their next effort. This band is certainly worthy of your attention as their musicianship is excellent and their potential in future releases mimics the title of this EP: No Ceiling.
Standout moment: Wet Washington 8103's last minute / outro.
Reviewed by: John
Scarlet Curve's Decentennial sounds like it was recorded live. It has a really wide open vibe as if they're standing in front of you on a stage playing it for you. Listeners will either love or hate this approach, as many desire the more polished production of today's larger acts.
They sound like classic R.E.M. with a bit of Coldplay sprinkled in at times. The singer definitely has a Michael Stipe thing going on. He isn't going to blow you away with his voice but it fits what Scarlet Curve is doing well. The band is well put together and play off each other with ease. There are memorable guitar solos and harmonies throughout the album. At times they are more straight alternative rock and at times they mix in a sort of psychedelic vibe, such as in the closing track "The Bridge".
At a slim 32 minute length, Decentennial flies by. However, there are moments where the listener is almost lulled to sleep. Scarlet Curve has a signature sound that they do well, but they may err on the side of many of the songs sounding TOO similar.
Overall, it's a good effort by a band who is clearly influenced by another musical era and did a wonderful job of getting that to come across in the recording, but they would benefit from more variety in their songs.
Standout moment: Guitar solo in "Old Man"
Reviewed by: Matt