Showing posts with label nu metal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nu metal. Show all posts

Monday, November 6, 2017

video review: 'five' by hollywood undead

Well, unsurprising to anyone, this is garbage... but really, did we have any reason to expect otherwise?

Next up, something MUCH better, stay tuned!

Friday, November 3, 2017

album review: 'five' by hollywood undead

So if it isn't unbelievably obvious, I didn't want to cover this. More importantly, I have no idea why anybody wanted me to cover this - I'd like to think my Patrons watch my reviews and aren't just adding records to fill space on the schedule, and the fact that this consistently got so many votes utterly baffles me.

But I don't want to mince words here with this: Hollywood Undead sucks. As someone who likes good metal and good hip-hop and can tolerate some crossover between the two and even appreciates a good horrorcore gimmick, this is the sort of group I would have avoided like the plague, because, as I keep on saying, I never had an angry white boy phase! And after I listened through all of their last albums, that's really the only demographic I can see somewhat appreciating this, even ironically. The best way to describe their first record was trying to split the difference between Eminem and Linkin Park, but the rapping was nowhere close to as good, the clean singing was a poor imitation of Chester Bennington at best, and the production has aged particularly badly. They got a bit heavier on their second record, but the clean singing and rapping somehow got worse and I found their blend of meat-headed flexing and flimsy shock tactics to almost reach the point of parody. To someone who listens to far nastier hip-hop and metal, this doesn't shock me, but unlike Marilyn Manson or Eminem, there was no depth or skill or potent fire to outlast the shock tactics, and the ballads might be some of the most embarrassing music I've heard all year - how anyone can justify a song like 'Bullet', I have no idea. And from there... look, no matter how many bargain-barrel Skrillex-ripoff effects you add to subsequent records, it doesn't make the writing any less walking cringe! The best thing is that if you completely tune out anything these guys are saying, the production can go in a somewhat interesting direction with a decent hook or groove, but that's not saying much. So forgive me when I say I had no expectations for this new record, which reportedly was taking things in a completely new direction... yeah, I'll believe it when I hear it. So what happened on Five?

Friday, February 14, 2014

video review: '†††' (crosses)' by ††† (crosses)

Okay, my schedule got busy in a hurry, but I wanted to get this out. 

Next up... well, Cynic, Beck, and Frankie Ballard. Not quite sure about the order, but stay tuned all the same!

album review: '†††' (crosses)' by ††† (crosses)

Let's briefly talk about nu metal. Born in the early 90s but exploding in the latter half of that decade, it was a genre I only happened to listen to in retrospect years after its popularity crashed, taking its rock-bottom reputation with it. Widely considered by metal purists to be a mainstream sell-out branch of 'real' metal, it's a genre that tends to inspire a lot of negative comparisons - and while there is some material of quality if you look for it, there isn't much. And while I tend to be more forgiving of nu metal than some critics, the lack of authenticity and texture in their instrumentation combined with atrociously whiny lyrics and a meatheaded attitude tended to set my teeth on edge. At least when hair metal or crunk got sleazy and borderline misogynist it sounded attractive and fun, while nu metal was content to wallow in misery - and since I never had an 'angry white boy' phase, I can't take it remotely seriously.

And the depressing fact is that I think it might be coming back. Though I didn't review Of Mice And Men's most recent album Restoring Force (I didn't feel I knew enough metalcore to give the band an objective opinion, but overall I was meh on it), I definitely heard plenty of the hallmarks of nu metal on that album. And combined with new acts like Emmure and Hollywood Undead, and the popular revival of acts like Korn and Staind and Limp Bizkit (God help us all), I get the unpleasant feeling we haven't seen the last of this genre.

But here's the somewhat ironic fact: nu metal's worst critics tend to be former nu metal artists, and this takes us to Deftones and lead singer Chino Moreno. Deftones has a better reputation than most nu metal acts, mostly because they were a bit more abstract in their lyrics and they jumped off the bandwagon faster towards the alternative metal/post-metal scene. I've never really been a Deftones fan, but the critical acclaim the band has received was enough to get me to look into the debut album from Chino Moreno's side project Crosses, with promises that it was melodic and thoughtful in comparison to his work with Deftones, leaning instead towards electronic rock. Did those promises follow through?

Monday, October 28, 2013

video review: 'recharged' by linkin park

Well, this came together quickly - mostly because there's so little to say about this album as a whole. Next is probably Reflektor by Arcade Fire, because I've been preparing that particular diatribe for some time. Stay tuned!

album review: 'recharged' by linkin park

I have no goddamn clue why I'm reviewing this album. I mean, a remix album comprised of almost entirely songs from a record I thought barely scraped the ceiling of mediocre by a band that has completely run out of ideas? Really, I can't think of a greater waste of time other than review the new Christmas album by Kelly Clarkson (which isn't happening, by the way, so don't hold your breath)!

First, a bit of context. Last year, when my reviews were previously confined to my blog, I reviewed Linkin Park's Living Things, and suffice to say, I didn't like it. And while upon reexamination I don't think my review is particularly well-written (it's a little too overwrought and overloaded with lecturing), I stand by my opinions surrounding Linkin Park and the album in particular. The album was poorly written, it lacked instrumental heft and weight, it was an unwelcome return to the concepts of their earlier work that haven't aged well and a distinct step down from the high-minded ambitions of A Thousand Suns, and worst of all, it was boring as tar. Yeah, 'Powerless' was a good song, but outside of that a year later, I can barely remember the album and that's never a good sign. I mean, I remember fragments of 'Burn It Down' and I remember thinking that it was mediocre at best, a far cry from the grit and energy that occasionally made some of the band's earlier material worth a listen.

So maybe I shouldn't have been surprised that the album was getting the remix treatment, almost doubling the original album in length courtesy of guest DJs and rap verses. And as much as I'd like to be snide and point out that it apparently requires more hands in the mix to make Linkin Park vaguely sellable, I wasn't exactly set to condemn this album. After all, the remixes could add some layer of unique personality to pierce through the boredom I had with the original record, and who knows, maybe Pusha T might be able to deliver a better rap verse than he did on Kay's debut. So with that in mind, how does Recharged by Linkin Park turn out?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

album review: 'rise' by skillet

You know, religious-themed music didn't use to suck.

I mean, look at Johnny Cash or Elvis - both men made pretty solid albums exploring religious themes and styles in a mature, usually intelligent manner. And religious themes tend to crop up all over the place when one examines more gothic acts like Depeche Mode. Hell, Nick Cave has spent most of his career delving into various facets of religion, particularly in his most well-known song 'The Mercy Seat'. But all too often, whenever religion tends to crop up in music, the quality tends to drop exponentially (see the few albums Bob Dylan released when he embraced Christianity in the early 80s). Why is that?

Well, I've got a few ideas. For starters, I think one needs to consider the direction in which these acts are discussing religion and God. To me, the best of them deal with the very human experience of trying to contextualize one's beliefs while living in a very secular world. To me, that's potent material for songs, stuff that can make one think and question their beliefs. And if anything, the best religious-themed music tends to revolve around questions of faith and belief and yearning, trying to find what is at the meat of our human experience.

But you rarely see material that has the balls to ask these questions, and that's where the majority of Christian music tends to lose me in a hurry. At the upper end of quality in this group you tend to see a great of quasi-spiritual satisfaction, worship music without the drama of actual conflict. Now I have issues with this sort of music - basically, I'm not the biggest fan of mellow music as it is, and when you add the subtext of 'I got all of this because I accepted Jesus as my saviour', it can get more than a little insufferable. But on the other hand, it's essentially harmless, and if people are using said music to find solace in religion, I don't really have a problem with it.

No, the Christian music I and most critics take issue with is the stuff with the harder evangelical bent, which combines the subtext above with 'I've accepted Jesus as my saviour... and now YOU should too or you're going to hell for all eternity'. It's confrontational, in your face with its self-righteousness and complete lack of tact, thought, or humility - and as a Catholic, this really bugs the shit out of me. To me, religion should be about acceptance and love and tolerance and compassion and giving - not exclusionary pontificating and hatred. And yeah, the hypocrisy rings high and loud when these acts preach family values or attempt to cast themselves as the underdogs against the rising 'feminists and homosexuals'... and then get caught abusing drugs or getting blown by groupies in the back of a van (hi, Scott Stapp, you worthless piece of shit!). To me, these groups represent the worst of the evangelical movement, particularly in recent years, as they attempt to use the fandom of their music to convert people to their own breed of Christianity. And it really smacks of disingenuous motives when you realize that these bands stand to profit heavily off of their audience's religious fervour.

But those are moral objections to thematic elements in their music - what about the bigger picture? Well, as much as I'd like to say that these acts only signed to Christian labels when no other label would take them (that's untrue and a little unfair), my issues with Christian rock tend to come back to lyrical subject matter. Too often, the acts refuse to actually delve into the implications and deeper meaning behind their material, instead relying on shallow platitudes, emotionally-manipulating tragedy porn, or evangelical fervour. And the really frustrating part is that too much of the material quickly begins to repeat itself, with few new ideas other than an unearned, rather intolerable defensiveness against the rational progression of music and society as a whole.

And look, I'm not saying that on a musical level these guys aren't talented. Hell, I'll give Icon For Hire, an alternative metal act that exploded in 2011 with their debut album Scripted, a lot of credit for having extremely solid guitar and vocal work (to say nothing of lyrics that were actually had the balls to ask questions of religion and go deeper, which earned them praise from Christian and non-Christian review outlets). But too often you get acts like Creed or Evanescence (okay, Evanescence technically only signed to a Christian label and never really had evangelical music, but I really hate Evanescence) that are so dour and humourless and teeth-grindingly tedious that cast a pall over the entire genre, so much so that the majority of mainstream critics won't even touch Christian-themed music anymore, or any band signed to a Christian label.

But as I'm sure you've all realized, I'm not most critics, so let's take a look at the new album from the Grammy-winning Christian Rock act that Icon For Hire opened for a few years ago, Skillet. Starting in 1996, Skillet are widely considered to be one of the better Christian rock acts, and while I've never heard a single song of theirs prior to this album, their last album went platinum in the United States and sold over a million copies. If anything, that would suggest the band does have crossover potential into the mainstream, particularly considering that last album came out in 2009 (in an era where true platinum records were becoming something of a rarity).

And I've got to be honest, I've always been a little fascinated by the Christian metal scene. Just on a conceptual level, Christian metal is a study in dissonance, a genre ostracized by the Christian rock scene for embracing a 'darker' musical aesthetic and roundly disliked by the mainstream metal scene for their evangelical subject matter. In Skillet's case, the band has a reputation for industrial metal of all things - which, I should remind you, includes acts like Nine Inch Nails and Ministry - so I was definitely intrigued when I heard about the new album. I was less intrigued when I discovered that a song on their last album featured on the soundtrack to Transformers III, but hey, if that's not proof of their crossover potential, I don't know what is.

So what do I think of their new album, Rise?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

album review: 'living things' by linkin park

Short version: in which I finally get a chance to vent about rap metal and nu-metal (yes, it's been long in coming), and I get the chance to explain completely why I hate those genres with a burning passion. Oh, and then I review some album called 'Living Things', which was only distinctive in its ability to disappoint me. Wonderful.

How many of you remember rock in the mid-to-late 90s? Because I can say this definitively - having briefly revisted that era to do a bit of research, you don't want to.

I should explain this. After Kurt Cobain's death and the collapse of Nirvana, grunge rock lost market share, and while alternative rock pushed by bands like R.E.M. continued to hold some sway, there was a rush to fill the void with a variance of musical styles. Punk received a mild mainstream revival thanks to bands like Green Day, weird psychedelic/prog rock began making headway in the underground (like with the Flaming Lips, Radiohead and Porcupine Tree), and even ska got a brief, painfully short time in the limelight. Sure, bands like Soundgarden and the Foo Fighters and the Smashing Pumpkins were continuing what Cobain started, but towards the end of the decade, they would find their mainstream spotlight usurped by an unholy, haphazard blend of genres that touched off some of the worst trends in rock at the turn of the millennium.

Yes, I'm talking about rap metal.