Muse – The Dark Side

The reactions to the last three songs that Muse have released from their upcoming album have been – to put it as politely as possible – unenthusiastic. You could say that’s something of a surprise given the reversion to an electronically-driven direction again, and how The 2nd Law has only risen in value where Drones has drastically fallen, but the simple fact is that none of them are very good. It’s not as if The Dark Side is doing much to rectify that either, but on a positive note, the pulsing synths and return to what is almost a disco mould that’s proven fruitful in the past lends a sense of sci-fi grandeur that Muse can readily play to their advantage. That’s about where any praise ends though, as for the rest of the time, this is the sort of derivative, motionless runaround about “[hailing] from the dark side” which is only a few more melodramatic clichés away from being a Halsey song. Then there’s Matt Bellamy, and he’s definitely got some impressive range, but given how hard he tries to sound stately and poised against a far looser instrumental canvas, it really does jar in an awful way. And yet, it does feel like the pieces of a solid song are here, if only in concept, but Muse seem so far gone at this point that they can’t pick up on that when it’s staring them right in the face.

Twenty One Pilots – My Blood

Does anyone actually know what Twenty One Pilots are doing at the minute? This is the fourth song released from Trench in the space of only a couple of months, and considering there’s still over a month before the album is even released, it feels like a blatant ploy to drum up all the hype possible. Granted, for a fanbase like theirs hype isn’t even a factor, but for a sane, non-brainwashed person, none of these tracks have really done much at all besides maybe Jumpsuit, and even then, it’s not one of their best. My Blood isn’t exactly breaking that trend either, but going down Jumpsuit’s more recognisable rock lane with a pretty prominent bassline, it’s perhaps the most rounded and groove-driven song that Twenty One Pilots have ever released. Beyond that though, this gets flimsy fast, with Tyler Joseph’s usual puppy-faced simpering designed to push every one of the Clique’s positive receptors, doubly so for his assertions of how he’ll always be there to go with them and support them through any hardships. Sure, a second verse with more of a tactile, hip-hop-inspired flow is nice, but it’s way too short, and with the hyper-earnest falsetto over fizzing, early-millennium synths in the chorus, it feels only a couple of steps away from an Empire Of The Sun rip-off, and no one wants that. On the whole though, if it wasn’t for that bassline, this would be completely inconsequential; even their biggest pop crossovers had more lyrical depth than this, and the fact they were at least memorable in any capacity helps a lot too.

Good Charlotte – Prayers

With the two singles they’ve released from Generation Rx so far, Good Charlotte have been on a shocking roll. After the inconsequential and juvenile Youth Authority, to see tracks like Actual Pain and Shadowboxer not only recapture some of their rock roots but also touch on deep, relevant subject matter was a huge shock, so much so that it was only a matter of time before their notorious inconsistency would show up again. Sadly that looks to be the case with Prayers, but really, it’s not even that bad. Most egregious is the production which diverts back into ill-advised dalliances with R&B beats and glossy overworking that doesn’t benefit a song as overtly solemn as this. Because again, this is yet another startlingly mature turn for Good Charlotte, examining the uselessness of “thoughts and prayers” in the outset of tragedy, and how those events get forgotten soon after the fact. Sure, there’s a limit to how deep pop-rock like this can go, but considering some of the frankly embarrassing pandering that Good Charlotte have partaken in in their time, this feels so much more natural and up to speed with where they are as people. It’s definitely the weakest of the three singles so far, but still, it’s another indication that Generation Rx might hold more than meets the eye.

The Wombats – Bee-Sting

Though The Wombats’ evolution from buzzed-up indie chancers to turn-of-the-decade electro-pop savants has seen them rightfully rake in the accolades, it’s fair to say that Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life was a flop; the spark just wasn’t there and the majority remains utterly forgettable. So obviously, the best course of action would be to tighten up the songwriting to go back to the level of their previous releases, not down tools completely for an acoustic-driven Britpop love song that could easily pass off as one of The Coral’s B-sides above anything else. It’s not even like it’s so offensively bad it’s worth getting worked up about either; above all the jaunty melodies, touches of electronics and Matthew Murphy’s push on quirkier lyrics feels so safe and placid that you can very easily believe that this is a tacked-on bonus track for an upcoming deluxe edition. On the bright side, it’ll at least fit with the rest of that album in being a forgettable, pale reminder that The Wombats can do so, so much better.

Puppy – Black Hole

In their journey to live up to the hype that’s been thrust upon them, Puppy have been forced to endure an uncommon amount of setbacks to get there. Sure, they mightn’t be as accessible as Creeper or Milk Teeth before them, but between cancelled tours and what feels like an unfortunately small user base for their EPs up to now, it’s honestly wonderful to see that they’ve managed to weather it all. It also looks like they’ve come out brighter in the end as well, with their debut full-length The Goat due for release in January, and Black Hole being the best preview they could’ve possibly come out with. Once again, Puppy traffic in their airtight blend of grunge, alt-rock, metallic crunch and irresistible pop harmonies, condensed down into a near-perfect ‘90s-inspired cocktail where everything works exactly as it should. Riffs feel huge and imposing, particularly in the meaty grooves that see the track explode into life, and tempered with Jock Norton’s nasal but acidic vocals, there’s a curdling angst interwoven with an unmistakable feeling of triumph. As a lead single, Puppy barely put a foot wrong here, consolidating their well-known “what’s-a-genre?” approach into a three-and-a-half minute blast of earworm goodness. If this is the prologue to the trio becoming the band to beat in 2019, there’s no better way for them to start.

Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers – Apocalypse Now (& Later)

Everyone knows that Laura Jane Grace is one of the best songwriters around; pretty much every Against Me! album to date has had such bracing senses of emotion, power and vigour in equal measure that have made them all excellent. And even in a more simplified form with her new project Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers, there’s such a resounding abundance of heart that it’s difficult not to like in at least some capacity. There’s a warmth in the acoustic rollick the drives the song, and Grace toning down her usual venom for a more straightforward, heartfelt ballad (albeit one with the spit and grit left perfectly intact) has a lot of charm, particularly juxtaposed with the imagery of the end of the world to temper it by just the right amount. On the other hand though, it’s clearly side-project material with how unashamedly basic and stripped-down it is, but particularly with Grace at the helm, it all still works. Even if it’s not as essential as the best of Against Me!, it leaves a lot to look forward to for this upcoming debut album, and that still counts for something.

Single Mothers – Switch Off

Single Mothers have never released a bad album, but it wouldn’t be wrong to say that last year’s Negative Qualities rubbed some fans the wrong way, with frontman Drew Thomson veering away from frenetic punk bloodletting for something a bit more – for lack of a better term – pop-friendly. Well, Switch Off feels like the complete antithesis to that, roaring by in under a minute-and-a-half with all the chaos that Single Mothers have turned into an artform. Obviously that means there’s not a great deal to say about it, but it’s hard not be thrilled by what is here, with shapeshifting buzzsaw guitars and deliberately grainy vocal production to the extent that you can almost hear the sandpaper being pasted all over it. It’s definitely a better fit for this band, regardless of how brief it is, and even if that unfortunately limits a lot of the appeal, a return-to-form of sorts like this is enough to whet anyone’s appetite for more.

Soulfly – Ritual

What does one expect nowadays from a song associated with Max Cavalera? A fairly standard but pleasantly heavy metal assault? Vocals putting guttural evisceration above anything else? A bit of tribalism sprinkled on the side? Well Ritual continues to dish out all of that, and while it’s hardly mind-blowing in terms of what Soulfly have done in the past, it’s still fine enough. Thanks to production and playing that emphasises their bite to a greater extent, it’s definitely better than some of their more recent material (seemingly the result of spreading the release out a bit more), and even if its not reinventing the wheel, that’s never been Soulfly’s shtick in the first place. It’s simply a big, grisly metal track that fans will enjoy as much as they always have, with very little else to it. And even for a band so far into their career, a bit of simplicity can still go a long way.

Scarlxrd – TELL ME YXU LXVE ME

With each new track he releases, it’s becoming harder and harder to figure out why anyone is putting stock in Scarlxrd. Sure, there’s a certain carnal thrill in hip-hop as brash and aggressive as this, but when it feels like he’s repeatedly making the same song, a lot of that is lost. And that’s just as true as ever with TELL ME YXU LXVE ME, yet another track where Scar screams his typical nihilistic, self-deprecating rantings over blown out bass and industrial crackles that feel like variations on pretty much every track he’s made up to this point. And again, you can see where that thrill comes from, but with all these tracks and the frequency they’re being released at, it’s becoming such a played-out medium that it’ll soon be better off leaving aside altogether. He might not be there yet, but this track has him dancing precariously on the edge.

The Struts ft. Kesha – Body Talks

Let’s just get this out of the way right now – The Struts are not a good band. Musically, they’re only a couple of steps away from Palaye Royale in believing they’re doing something necessary by co-opting old styles with no payoff, only elevated by the fact that they can occasionally pick up a bit of infectious groove. And on its own, Body Talks is probably among their songs that can be best classified as decent in its sense of pace and Luke Spiller delivering some solid vocals. Combined with Kesha though – someone currently going through a very real renaissance thanks to moving to more organic, rock-oriented sounds – this is already a lot better. Yes, the focus on acoustic guitar compared to the original isn’t needed and sounds needlessly flimsy, but when Spiller and Kesha are paired with a surprisingly solid amount of chemistry and are allowed to let loose with a very glam-rock-esque sensibility, there’s a looseness that’s so easy to like here. Of course it helps that in terms over vocal range, personality and essentially everything else in that field, Kesha just blows Spiller out of the water, but in terms of a fun, breezy track with minimal pretense, you could do worse than this.

Super American – Givin’ It Up

The buzz around Super American’s debut Tequila Sunrise has been surprisingly loud, especially considering they’re still a new band whose previous material barely broke beyond some very underground emo circles. But hey, fostering new talent is always a good thing, and Givin’ It Up is a decent indication of what to expect, at least in terms of quality. Pop-rock is very much in eyeline for this one, with the duo resting on jaunty acoustic guitars, slightly muffled production and a sense of youthful exuberance that always goes down a treat with these sorts of tracks; comparisons have already been made to something off the American Pie soundtrack and that’s hard to argue with. On the other hand though, it’s definitely a bit thin in the overall sound where some more robust guitars could have shone through greater, and at just over two minutes there’s not a lot to really dig into here. Other than that though, Super American seem like they’re moving in a comfortable direction, and if this is indicative of what that upcoming album will bring to the table, that’ll be solid at least.

Black Futures – Trance

Black Futures are one of those acts that really seem to be resonating hard with a certain audience. They’re in no way cut from a mainstream-ready cloth (for a sonic touchstone, think of The Death Set but not as scrappy), but working their way around the festival circuit this summer has really seen their following grow, something that’s always good for a band as off-kilter as this. It’s just a shame the music isn’t that tiny bit better, because as a track like Trance shows, Black Futures are capable of making a whole lot of noise without much to back it up. Give them their dues though, this is the sort of thing that would go down a storm in a live setting, with crushed, crunching fragments of electronic noise clashing with a resolutely punk ethos in what’s almost the 2018 equivalent of electroclash. But the similarities continue with how underwritten this is, and while it’s apparently a dedication to the awe and wonder of life, the single repeated verse isn’t a very stable skeleton for this whole thing to hinge on. Still, it’s easy to see why so many have gravitated towards this, and a bit of tightening up could prove enormously beneficial in the future.

Crooked Teeth – Honey

In a genre as naturally unambitious as pop-punk, it doesn’t take a lot to impress. Perhaps its the influence of Waterparks making the use of electronics as such a prominent factor in modern pop-punk a marketable commodity, but it’s hardly a selling point most of the time, particularly when infinite numbers of other bands are doing things exponentially more exciting. It’s a bit disheartening then, to see the main thing that Crooked Teeth have to sell about themselves is that the guitar line in Honey comes from copying a midi melody, particularly when the song itself is decent enough to stand on its own merits. Sonically, the DNA with Waterparks is there, but with deeper, more foreboding sub-bass and guitar crunch, it’s a bit more mature in its approach, something that also comes across in lyrics about cutting ties and keeping the past in the past. Other than that, it’s the expected stuff with catchy hooks and Tyson Evans’ vocals being unable to stand out from the slew of other pop-punk singers, but on this evidence, there’s at least a bit more to Crooked Teeth that could hold them above the competition. Maybe.

THECITYISOURS – Veins

It says a lot that, even at the peak of metalcore oversaturation when the most basic bands were still getting floods of praise, THECITYISOURS found themselves leveled with criticisms of being generic. That’s not a wrong statement – as an EP, Wildfire managed to hit every beat with maximum efficiency and minimum staying power – but they’re no better or worse than most of the shovelware that comes out on a daily basis. Even now, when metalcore in this slick, colourless vein is essentially dead, they remain completely level with the rest of the severely-diminshed crew valiantly pushing on to no avail. All that’s to say that Veins isn’t a particularly good song, but it’s so harmless that it’s not worth getting worked up about. It’s tightly produced across the board and there’s an earnestness in both Sam Stolliday’s screams and Mikey Page’s cleans that fits nicely over the spotless melodic atmosphere, but this is an exercise in box ticking if there ever was one, with nothing to offer that isn’t the same as countless others. If the idea of another Bring Me The Horizon or Asking Alexandria clone tickles your fancy, then fill your boots, but Veins’ general inoffensiveness means that this won’t last long at all.

No Rome ft. The 1975 – Narcissist

For anyone who may be a bit confused as to what exactly this is, No Rome is a Manila-based pop artist signed to The 1975’s Dirty Hit Records, and thus with the guaranteed leverage that comes from having them as a featured collaborator, Narcissist arrives as the fruit of their efforts. And even from that very potted description, you should be able to get a decent idea of how this sounds – delicate, minimalist beats and looped coos provide the basis for No Rome and Matty Healy to trade off on accusations of their own self-centredness and distance in relationships. The foundation is definitely there, but it’s hard to avoid that this all feels very safe, and for the momentous collaboration this is supposed to be, they could’ve done a bit more. The overall minimalism is fine but incredibly derivative of umpteen other modern pop acts, and while both No Rome and Healy are adequate vocally, that’s about all they are. It’s definitely not a bad song, but it’s one that’s directly playing into the hands of a fanbase that both artists know it’ll guarantee to appeal to, and that can leave everyone on the outside feeling cold.

Gouge Away – Ghost

Anyone familiar with Gouge Away’s debut , Dies – a truly breakneck combination of hardcore and noise-rock – might be a bit taken aback by Ghost. Even compared to the more frenetic lead single Only Friend from their upcoming album Burnt Sugar, this is a much different direction, favouring heady, grungy tones with Christina Michelle’s vocals swamped out to a mere whisper. Even so, Gouge Away’s ethos remains intact here; there’s still a crushing heft and a generally enclosed feeling, even as it bursts into life for a chorus almost reminiscent of early screamo bands. Alongside lyrics that pivot towards a state of emotional vulnerability and how overwhelming that feeling of absence can be, Gouge Away have definitely tapped into a rich core of inspiration with Ghost, avoiding any repetition while continuing to excel in states of enormity and gravity. Even if it’s different than what fans may be expected, it’s still well worth trying out.

After Touch – Six Feet Closer

Another day, another Australian post-hardcore band fresh out of the UNFD stable looking to hit the same heights as the stalwarts who’ve established the label’s name to what it is today. After Touch have actually been around a bit longer than a lot of their peers though, rebranding themselves from the melodic hardcore band Easy Life by incorporating more atmosphere and cleaner production more befitting of the scene they find themselves in. And there’s a lot to say and criticise about this particular strain of post-hardcore, but at least it’s usually tight with immense pop appeal; Six Feet Closer, on the other hand, is a shockingly messy cut that hits an approximation of those sounds with the swirling, omnipresent keys, but given that they’re mixed higher than everything else, especially vocals that already sound horrendously buried and mismanaged, the whole thing feels like a demo at best. Maybe it fits in with the general sense of confusion and clouded headspaces in the lyrics, but that never feels like a purposeful choice. On the bright side, it stands out from the countless preened-to-perfection other acts in their scene, but when those differences come from ineptitude, that’s hardly a good thing.

Aspiga – August

Aspiga seem to be moving at a rather brisk pace when it comes to getting new singles out there, but given how competitive the indie / heartland-punk scene is, it’s more of a necessity than anything else. And like Searching before, August is another fine attempt at getting their name out there that might still bear the slightly derivative trimmings of a band in their formative years, but once again points to a promising future. Admittedly, this isn’t as strong as their previous single – the nasal qualities in Kevin Day’s vocals feel more pronounced here and thus more unmanageable – but with the powerful Hot Water Music-lite instrumentation, the pleasingly rugged production and the heartfelt lyrics that one would expect, Aspiga barely put a foot wrong on a purely technical aspect. Sure, a bit more fine-tuning needs to be undertaken, but this trio are closer to great success than anything else, and that’s what matters right now.

Advance Base – Your Dog

On paper, Owen Ashworth’s concept of an album based around the relationship between pet owners and their animals makes a lot of sense. After all, it’s a subject that intrinsically has a lot of intimacy, and for the former Casiotone For The Painfully Alone mainman, intimacy is the name of the game in his Advance Base work. Thus, Your Dog feels like it hits all the right marks, comprised exclusively of small, understated organ whirs and Ashworth’s solemn, heavy-set burr. Substitute the instrumentation for an acoustic guitar instead and it could almost pass for a Sun Kil Moon song, such is the portentous weight that this is all portrayed by. But then you remember that it’s quite literally a song about dogs, and with the mundanities that Ashworth peppers in juxtaposed with a deep, numb sense of self-criticism, it almost feels like it was designed as a comedy song, albeit far too heavy for its own good. And sure, there’ll be people who’ll get a kick out of that, but with a lack of real instrumental progression and Ashworth’s stream-of-consciousness rambling, it all kind of falls flat. Again, it’s not awful and the appeal is there, but not a lot is really done to justify it.

A Forest Of Stars – Decomposing Deity Dancehall

It’s often surprising how much wiggle room there is to experiment in black metal, particularly considering how – shall we say – defensive some metal fans can be about what their genres sound like, when a good deal of this barely feels like metal at all. That leaves room for a band like A Forest Of Stars though, combining Victorian imagery in black metal with elements of gothic rock, electronica and neo-classical music for the nine-minute odyssey of Decomposing Deity Dancehall. All of that put together actually leaves this as a fairly accessible track, grounded in very ornate, beautifully arranged melodies that flow and build into a more traditional form of black metal burning towards the end. Even then though, there’s another layer of distance from tradition with Dan Eyre on vocals, who eschews any sort of screaming for a portion of the time in favour of the spittle-flecked rantings of a 19th Century vagrant. It’s genuinely compelling stuff and probably some of the most interesting black metal to be released in a long time, and if A Forest Of Stars can keep this up, they could have something very special on their hands.

156/Silence – Fake It

Sometimes in hardcore, being simply as aggressive and abrasive as possible is more than enough. There doesn’t necessarily need to be great depth or enormous artistic strides made; as long as there’s enough heft, it’ll go down just fine. And that seems to be the approach of Pittsburgh’s 156/Silence on Fake It, a two-minute-long nailbomb explosion with the sort of throat-ripping angularity and violence that’ll be familiar to anyone who gravitated towards Vein’s debut earlier this year. And seeing as that album is one of the best of the year so far, that’s definitely a good thing. What’s even more surprising though, is that 156/Silence aren’t actually that far away from that level, and with the whirring, electrifying guitars effects and Jack Murray’s guttural belches, they’re able to envoke the same breathless, clinically sharp atmosphere that made Errorzone so enticing. Coupled with musical nods to Daughters in a brevity that ensures every single ounce of fat is duly trimmed, and Fake It feels like one of the most vital and forceful hardcore tracks released in some time.

Say Hi – Green With Envy

There’s something resoundingly familiar about the music that Eric Elbogen makes under the Say Hi moniker, whether that’s in sound, style or content. In fact, it’s probably easier than most to pin down where a song like Green With Envy falls, particularly with Elbogen’s own assertions of having the late ‘70s in mind. Therefore, the riff of Blondie’s One Way Or Another is fed through a very Weezer-shaped filter, following suit with the awkward, low-key indie-rock backing, an off-kilter view on relationships, particularly past ones, and the sort of obtuse imagery that would be right up Rivers Cuomo’s alley (“I’m a cuckold with a thumb in my ear” particularly stands out in this regard). Put it all together, and it’s not bad, but coming across as a more dubious take on Rick Springfield’s Jessie’s Girl isn’t the most attractive or comfortable standpoint to listen to, and it’s played too earnestly and kept too close in to feel all that exaggerated. Granted, there have been far worse songs in this vein (both in terms of quality and framing), but Elbogen isn’t making any favourable pushes with this one, and it doesn’t do a lot of because of that.

The Wild Things – You’re Really Something

And so the actor-to-musician new wave continues apparently, this time with The Wild Things, fronted by Uncle star Sydney Rae White. It’s probably unfair to automatically group them with that lot though, given that even from this one track, it seems as though The Wild Things have much more of an idea of what they’re currently doing than Wallows, PVMNTS and the like. Most of that is achieved by keeping things simple too; as unassuming as an alt-rock song about messy relationships seems, You’re Really Something sort of plays that to its advantage, adopting timeless indie-rock jangles and White’s smooth, equable vocals for a track whose poise is easily its standout feature. Factor in a decent ear for melody and an earthy, open production style often reminiscent of The Gaslight Anthem, and while You’re Really Something is still a bit too aloof to serve as a selling point for their upcoming debut all on its own, it shows what The Wild Things are capable of, and it’s definitely enjoyable.

Barbarian Hermit – Reawaken

There’s little better in metal that a great, fat groove, and that’s clearly an ethos that Barbarian Hermit subscribe to as well. As such, it leads to a track like Reawaken, seven minutes of slow, methodical but crushingly heavy sludge metal that revels in its sense of power and darkness as almost a cross between Electric Wizard and Pantera. From that description alone, anyone should have a fair idea of whether or not this band is for them, but with a sense of power that on its own dwarfs so much of the competition, and Ed Campbell’s animalistic bellows that bring the viciousness that can sometimes be lacking in a sound this heft-focused, Barbarian Hermit feel like a more advanced, fleshed-out proposition than so many other newcomers doing the same thing, almost like the proper variation of this sound. And that’s definitely a good thing; along with Boss Keloid they’re making stoner-metal exciting again, and it’ll be especially fascinating to see how they can continue with this.

MF Tank – Give It Another Try

Give one listen to MF Tank and it becomes immediately obvious who their biggest influences are. Of course, the band themselves make no secret that they fall in the middle of the Pearl Jam / Alter Bridge Venn diagram, particularly with a song like Give It Another Try, where vocalist Terry does his best pensive Myles Kennedy impression over a mid-paced, radio-friendly slider akin to a truncated version of Pearl Jam’s slower material. And altogether, it’s fine, if a bit uninspired in a very rigid framework that never speeds up or slows down, despite how much Terry’s vocals clearly want to explode more than they’re given the chance. Still, the production has a nice warmth to it in a very rich, classic rock sort of vibe, and the Swiss trio are able to nestle into breezy ballad territory with a fair amount of ease. For more old-school rock fans, this is one to give a go; just don’t expect it to set the world on fire.

Royal Canoe – RAYZ

Alright, let’s start with the obvious – Royal Canoe is an absolutely terrible band name. It connotes something, alright, but not the psychedelic indie-pop this Canadian sextet are peddling. Thankfully their music is nowhere near as awful as their name, and with their new album Waver released in January, RAYZ is the ideal preview for what’s to be offered. Apart from the screeching synth line that pretty much cuts through the entire track, there’s a sense of warm, inviting sultriness to this track, driven by a thick, steady bass and rippling keys and augmented by smooth gospel vocals for an extra sense of laidback soul. There’s nothing particularly grabbing when all of that comes together, but something about Royal Canoe suggests there’s not supposed to be; this is chill-out music at its absolute easiest, smooth enough to let sink into the background but avoids getting lost or floating away. And in an indie-pop scene that’s become so reliant on stiffness and a lack of colour, this is a welcome pallet-cleanser.

7he 7ouch – You Can

Unbelievably obnoxious name aside, 7he 7ouch are actually pretty conventional for a rock band, skirting aside any sub-genres or unnecessary contrivances to just focus on straight-down-the-middle music. And while in the past, that’s been a fairly solid indicator of some truly uninspiring stuff, You Can is much further in the “less is more” camp. The staples of long, widescreen guitars and stadium-filling choruses do what they can and sound pretty good doing so, but there’s a genuine core of emotion and earnestness that does a lot of the heavy lifting, recounting how the band moved to London to escape the financial crisis in their native Greece, giving what could easily be another hollow self-esteem anthem some weight that it could desperately use. Even vocalist Constantine has a bit more of a weathered, almost pained quality to his vocals that, yes, can be a bit much at points, but works more often than it doesn’t. Overall, it feels like 7he 7ouch have clocked onto a way of making straightforward rock music without adhering to boring or overdone tropes, and if they carry on like, they could potentially do some pretty great things.

Trash Deity – Cross & Divide

Trent Reznor seems to have made it so people think that anyone with a sneer and a bleak outlook on life can make industrial music, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. What makes Nine Inch Nails’ best material work is the rawness and the nagging frustration and anger that never subsides in its undertones, something that a band like Trash Deity simply don’t have. The fact that this new project comes from Groovie Mann from My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult makes it even more disappointing; the idea of fusing industrial rock with sleazy hair-metal was pretty much nailed there, but here, in a by-the-numbers criticism on modern life, it just feels gutted of any sort of energy or vitality. Sure, the aesthetics are there in the throbbing electronic pulse and occasional guitar snarl, but the lockstep plod that lasts for the entire track is totally drained of anything remotely exciting, and Mann’s elongated, pseudo-Mick Jagger drawl feels skin-crawlingly bad at times. But really, what this boils down to is an older, tired version of what Mann has done exponentially better so many times before, and it’s a mystery as to why anyone would want that.

Words by Luke Nuttall

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