Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Volbeat - Seal the Deal & Let's Boogie

I was originally going to review the new Lacuna Coil album first, but this one practically wrote itself. I'll cut to the chase and tell you this is a simple but effective album. The cover and absurd name promise a collection of fun, hard-rocking tunes to put hair on your chest, and on that front Seal the Deal mostly delivers.

Those hoping for a return to the more abrasive, thrashy sound of their first two albums are out of luck again. Seal the Deal is a hard rock album at heart, which is not to say that Volbeat have gone soft, but there's more emphasis on streamlined, catchy songwriting than ever before. Fans who liked their previous effort, Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies, will feel right at home this time around.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Katatonia - The Fall of Hearts

While I haven't encountered a bad Katatonia album yet, I can't say I awaited their latest release with any real anticipation. The band reached a second career peak with Last Fair Deal Gone Down, Viva Emptiness, and The Great Cold Distance then seemed to coast on that sound with two decent but samey follow-ups and an acoustic remake of the second that came off as a glorified bonus disc. The band must have realized a need to shake things up on their newest release, because The Fall of Hearts feels fresh and eclectic, a progression rather than a retread of what made those earlier albums great.

Takeover opens the album with a distinctly proggy feel. The rhythm guitar that kicks in over Renske's mellow vocals is a clear nod to Tool as the song ambles on for a seven minute runtime without losing focus. Not a total break from form, but far from the concise, punchy opener we're used to. They save that for the second track, Serein, which has single written all over it and one of the catchier choruses on the album with some stiff competition.