All albums with an overall rating of 8.0 and above are Certified Rockin'
A Coup De Grace - "The Work of Ravens" (9.7)
Bourbon House - "Wild Abandon" (8.3)
Ceteri - "Tough $h!+" (8.2)
Disappearance - "Humanity Pending" (8.0)
The Martyr Complex - "Construct" (8.7)
More Then Merry - "No Ceiling" (7.3)
Murder Generation - "Murder Generation" (8.7)
Scarlet Curve - "Decennial" (7.0)
Green Bay based A Coup De Grace delivers a filthy odyssey on "The Work of Ravens" that will please fans of Wage War, Fit For a King and even Soilwork, among others.
Sometimes you hear a studio record that makes you feel like you're in the crowd experiencing the energy transfer between a band and the audience you feel at a live show. This is that album. It feels alive.
The production of "The Work of Ravens" is abrasive in the very best of ways. It's in-your-face attitude pulls you in and the band comes at you in waves. A Coup De Grace has mastered the ability to race the listener up a mountain with speed and tenacity, then push us off the summit and instill an incredible weightlessness when the song drops into a brutal breakdown.
Individual performances on this album are nothing short of impeccable. Vocals from Joshua Everetts are nasty. The screams claw their way into your ears. The combination of chaos and clarity is refreshing to hear as a metal fan. Guitars are downtuned yet maintain a high-strung attack. They are crisp which enables them to cut through the madness well. There is fantastic play on this album from Derek Pamioncutt. I do wish the solo in "Across the Tracks" had a bit more shine in the mix. The bass (Jose Whiting) and drums (Alan Greenberg) again help the live feeling on the album. Fantastic production, definition and execution of the rhythm section. At times they throw the weight of the world on the listener with a mighty wallop and yet there's also times they ease up and let the song breathe.
At six songs, I wish there was more. I really do. However, the record is still 31 minutes of excellence and only narrowly misses perfection.
Standout moment: The final devastating moments of "Raze the Throne"
Reviewed by: John
"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
With a runtime of just under 24 minutes, this 8-song release from Milwaukee-based pop-punk quintet Ceteri falls somewhere between an EP and a full-length album. The overall feeling of the album is that the songwriting & music production fall closer to the punk end of the pop-punk spectrum. The production is a bit rough around the edges - yet it feels right for the genre and overall vibe of the album. There is a bit of pop flavor injected in (during the chorus of "Breathe" for example) but this is a punk release more than anything.
Vocalist Steve Wilson has the perfect voice for this album. Never reaching for a range he can't handle, he delivers cleans, sing/screams, and angst without it ever feeling out of place. Wilson delivers on several vocal styles throughout the release and gives the songs dynamics that tell us Ceteri isn't a one-trick pony that can oftentimes plague the genre.
Ron Pershing (bass/vocals) & Kenny Clark (drums) work well together in the rhythm section. Each have their moments to shine over the course of the album with the bass lines executed smoothly and the drum fills punchy.
The guitars on "Tough $h!+" from Darryl Kuyper & PJ Millane also have their standout moments. You get a little bit of everything from the duo of players: Rhythms, leads, solos, and even tasteful acoustic work on "Will He Answer" performed by Wilson. While the album may have a relatively short runtime, there's a wealth of different guitar elements to enjoy.
There's a couple songs on the album that are destined for fun anthems during live sets in lieu of truly marketable tracks. However, "Breathe" deserves radio airplay and shows the band has what it takes to write songs enjoyable for the masses. A fun surprise was listening to the nastiness of "Rainbow Road" where Ceteri pushes the envelope the further into the song you get. It's catchy. It's filthy. It's just good.
The buildup through the Bridge during "Breathe"
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
Formed in 2018 and hailing from Milwaukee, Murder Generation is a gritty punk trio that boasts incredible lyrical prowess on their debut full-length & self-titled album.
Immediately, they hit the ground running on "Media Slow Death" which features vocal lines like "Silence shunned as wasted time / Bodies self-objectified / Suppress the anger and the madness / Edited for the masses." This is a band that you will definitely have fun jamming to, but is without a doubt very cerebral. There are prominent themes of pushing back against the takeover of social media, calling to light the struggle people have with online activity, substance abuse, violence and more.
The production of "Murder Generation" feels thin, but not to a fault. It's very stripped down to guitar, bass, drums and vocals. No frills. Overall, the focus here is without a doubt on the lyrics & vocals. Going forward for Murder Generation, I hope to hear a little more dynamics & variety in the instrumental songwriting. A punk record definitely shouldn't sound "polished & pretty" but the sky is truly the limit for Murder Generation if musicianship can get into the realm of the lyrics & vocals.
This album is 18 minutes in length, but 10 songs - only one of which reach the two-minute mark. They come at you fast & furious and leave an impression. I think because the album has such a short runtime and features thoughtful topics throughout, it's listenability increases substantially. It's very easy to run through it and then start at the top and run through it again. I love that in an album - no matter what it's length is.
If you're looking for music with substance, you've found it on "Murder Generation"
Standout moment: Verse lyrics on "Nostalgia Kills"
Memories you edit
Never get a clear view
Can't see where you're headed
Eyes glues to the rear view
Living in the past tense
Progress ever slowing
Never get a real sense
Where your life is going
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