So Fozzy are still around then, huh? There’s no real way to say that without obligatory beleaguerment, given that they’re among the crop of hard rock bands specifically designed to squat in the most middling of mid tiers with no chance of moving. They’re ‘the band fronted by Chris Jericho’ to most, which makes their catalogue of wrestling entrance music apt, but also highlights how no one would really care if it was just another nobody at the helm. And yet, at the same time, they’re hard to outright hate, partly because there’s so little of nutritional value about them to make them worth hating, but also because they can lean into a pseudo-hair-metal sense of bravado that can at least be more entertaining. If there’s one thing to unequivocally praise Boombox for, it’s that it’s coming from a band who know what their audience want and are willing to give it to them. Jericho is still a bad singer but he’s giving it out in spades, belting through Sane and My Great Wall with the conviction of a man locking into the definition of ‘arena-rock’ as tightly as possible. Intelligence is a total non-factor, but Fozzy are completely aware of that and how their perceived charm comes from it. Note the use of the word ‘perceived’ though, because for as swinging and swaggering as Fozzy present themselves, they aren’t escaping how dated this sounds. The cover of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax might have the tightened thrum to propel it forward, but its mere presence throws back to a time in the 2010s when this sort of pop cover was pretty commonplace on hard rock albums like this, a time that Fozzy have never advanced from. They aren’t all that able to either, given how blocky the production can feel overall, never entirely stymying the flair from an alright solo and performers who are clearly invested in their work, but never landing to a degree where gurgles of electronic embellishments or programmed percussion will benefit. Obviously the writing isn’t very good either, which is par for the course, though you’d hope that Fozzy would’ve moved past a cheerleader chant of “U-G-L-Y / You ain’t got no alibi” on Ugly On The Inside if they want to give off at least an air of creativity. Perhaps that’s wishful thinking for the hard rock equivalent of a slice of white bread, but there’s got to be something here that warrants the staying power that Fozzy have inexplicably had. Even if they aren’t the worst, Boombox once again displays very little worth feeling strongly about in either direction, a functional product that’ll clock in for its radio cycle, clock out again, and be replaced by more of the exact same in due course. Such is the life of Fozzy, a band who exist and little else. • LN
For fans of: Five Finger Death Punch, Hellyeah, Pop Evil
‘Boombox’ by Fozzy is released on 6th May on The Century Family / Sony Music Entertainment.
The Amsterdam Red Light District
First things first—kudos to The Amsterdam Red Light District for putting more emphasis on their acronym than their full name. It’s unwieldy to say the least, but it’s also a bit of a distraction from what’s typically been a pretty decent melodic hardcore punk band. In the past, managing to get by on surpluses of energy and Refused worship, they’ve been able to maintain a good standard, which upon this semi-rebrand has been duly smashed apart on probably their strongest album to date. What Trapped lacks in true innovation, it makes up for in just how rejuvenated it sounds, heavy and energetic but most crucially pointed. They’ve never been slouches in the past, but their vaunted embrace of Enlightenment values pairs with a progressive mindset excellently, and with someone like Stray From The Path’s Drew York to lend a few extra volleys of venom to Good Intentions, they’ll strike remarkably swiftly. Elio Sxone is definitely capable on his own, mind, with a righteous, riotous performance that owes a fair bit to Dennis Lyxzén in the best way. He’s encroaching on a wiriness, but the brawn is still there, and that’s crucial for a track like Not So Innocent finding itself co-opting a filthy Every Time I Die riff with consummate ease. It can be actually startling how highly TARLD find themselves bumped up through simple means of streamlining and beefing up their assault; this is definitely a catchier album than previous, as the band will fully lean into the rock ‘n’ roll side of things to make the most of their own skills. Thus, there’s a killer weight to Freedom Is A Movement or the title track, in how the bass and low-hanging riffage is much more forceful and ultimately fills in the cracks of what TARLD were missing before. It’s a big component to the melody that’s prominently worn across the board, and what makes Trapped roar by with the velocity it’s got. It’s exactly where TARLD’s buildup should be cresting, a delight of a punk album through and through with minimal filler and maximum firepower. One of the easiest-to-like albums that’s been released in 2022, no doubt. • LN
For fans of: Every Time I Die, Refused, Cancer Bats
‘Trapped’ by The Amsterdam Red Light District is released on 6th May on Blood Blast Distribution.
The latest offering from the Melobourne, Florida-based Bodysnatcher sees the deathcore outfitventure deeper into the darkness than ever before. Bleed-Abide delivers a threatening sound across thirteen (unlucky for some) unyielding tracks. Thundering aggression and pure brutality bleed out of every song. Bodysnatcher have ensured the new record maintains a merciless attitude by turning everything up to eleven. Each instrumental track and vocal line have been carefully considered to exhibit an unrelenting impact with every single element. Luring in listeners with an eerie, atmospheric introduction Bleed, before throwing them into the depths and slamming down a wall of beautifully produced heavy instrumentation transitioning into Abide. If you like a breakdown or two, or three hundred and seventy-eight, this album certainly gratifies those desires. Absolved Of The Strings And The Stone seemingly descends through the nine circles of hell and beyond with what feels like an unending journey through numerous layers in this epic breakdown. The savagery of Bodysnatcher’s dynamic breakdown style is clearly showcased in E.D.A. and Hollow Shell. Lyrically, the content aptly matches the musical counterpart. Hostile emotions and fury pour through the vocal performances; steeped in anguish cries, Flatline is powerful example. There is a relatability to the raw, unapologetic delivery that also carries a cathartic quality. The deathcore releases this year are unbelievably insane, and it’s fascinating seeing more bands pushing this subgenre further and further into the abyss with innovative composition and ludicrously high production standards. Bleed-Abide does not let up for anything, with everything hitting perfectly and balancing well, ultimately fusing into an outstanding release. Bodysnatcher have unleashed a truly remarkable album. • HR
For fans of: Lorna Shore, Enterprise Earth, Brand of Sacrifice
‘Bleed-Abide’ by Bodysnatcher is out now on MNRK Heavy.
As a reinvention of themselves, GILT’s 2021 EP In Windows, Through Mirrors felt like the initial murmurings of something really special. It was post-hardcore that had character and individuality, taking onboard the brittleness and emotional quaking of forbears like Touché Amoré, but recontextualising them so smartly and acutely. GILT may have been around since 2017, but that felt like a defining moment when people sat up and paid attention most readily. So to see Conceit follow a similar general throughline is far from surprising, but the steps forward that it takes are prevalent nonetheless, most notably in recruiting guest performers for each of its five tracks. For a lesser band, there’s the risk of diluting the greatest base of appeal they’ve ever had much too soon; for GILT, with a knowledge of immense balance and resource management to ensure their work is enhanced and never overshadowed, it’s the exact right decision for a band courting as much excitement as they are. Because at the end of the day, for the cries of anguish and dolour threaded in to burn their way through, it’s still GILT themselves who stand out the most. They’ve got a pretty unconventional method of post-hardcore crafting, where they will become more erratic on a song like 209, but that remains underscored by the fractured melancholy underneath and the sense of discomfort that gnaws at it. It’s at its most bracing on The Shape Of Tools—arguably forming the cleanest parallel to their aforementioned predecessors—though that still fits among the colder guitars and hanging atmosphere of Amethyst and Small Hollow Bones. The production is immaculate at forging a mood akin to the very earliest days of emo, blended with how forward-thinking the package as a whole is in structure and composition. Ash Stixx’s vocal performance definitely encompasses a free-flowing progression, not just in vocal style that treats both screams and quivering understatement as natural outlets rather than stylistic affectation, but in how viscerally the passing of their father informs the emotional rabbit-holes they’ll go down. The parallels to Touché Amoré’s Stage Four are expected and extremely welcome, in that it’s a tremendously high bar that GILT already aren’t that far from clearing. They’re now definitively the ones to look out for when it comes to this scene, a band bending post-hardcore to their will and generating a level of hype and quality that hasn’t been this warranted in a long time. Just wait for the inevitable full-length to come, because it could well be a gamechanger for them. • LN
For fans of: Touché Amoré, La Dispute, Pianos Become The Teeth
‘Conceit’ by GILT is released on 6th May on Smartpunk Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall (LN) and Holly Royle (HR)