Review: THEY DON’T NEED TO UNDERSTAND by Andy Biersack (Rare Bird Books)

BiersackA-TheyDontNeedToUnderstandUSAn interesting, engaging memoir of a highly-driven young rock star

Before he was the charismatic singer of Black Veil Brides and an accomplished solo artist under the Andy Black moniker, he was Andrew Dennis Biersack, an imaginative and creative kid in Cincinnati, Ohio, struggling with anxiety, fear, loneliness, and the impossible task of fitting in. With his trademark charm, clever wit, and insightful analysis, Biersack tells the story of his childhood and adolescence.

The discovery of the artistic passions that would shape his life, and his decision to move to Hollywood after his 18th birthday to make his dreams come true, even when it meant living in his car to make it all a reality. It’s the origin story of one of modern rock’s most exciting young superheroes, from building miniature concerts with KISS action figures in his bedroom to making the RIAA gold-certified single “In the End” and connecting with passionate fans worldwide.

I’ve been a fan of Black Veil Brides since their second album, Set the World on Fire. This was during a time when I wasn’t reading as much music journalism as used to. As a result, I didn’t know much about the band, and when I learned that Biersack had written a memoir, I was keen to read it and find out more about his and the band’s history. They Don’t Need to Understand is an engaging memoir. I enjoyed it. Continue reading

Quick Review: PANIC by From Ashes to New (Better Noise Records)

FromAshesToNew-PanicI’m sure I heard of From Ashes to New before the release of Panic, no doubt referred to as a new standard bearer for modern nü-metal. When they dropped their video for the first, eponymous single from this album, I thought they were pretty good and yes, they reminded me of Linkin Park. Uncannily so, in fact.

This made my reaction to Panic a little unfair, I’ll admit, but it is simply impossible to not think of From Ashes to New’s obvious primary influence. Continue reading

Music Review: FINDING GOD BEFORE GOD FINDS ME by Bad Omens (Sumerian Records)

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An interesting, eclectic metal album. Pretty cool.

If I hadn’t already known before listening to the album, I could have easily guessed that Finding God Before God Finds Me was released by Sumerian Records. The range of styles and sounds, mixing clean rock and crunchy, scream-y metal seems to be the calling card of many of the label’s artists. Luckily, it’s a mix that I enjoy very much. Some of the bands are better than others, and Bad Omens falls in the former camp — I only came across them relatively recently, but I’ve grown to like them a lot.

Bad Omens is a talented metal band, switching between the metal and rock spectra quite easily and skillfully. They sometimes remind me a bit of Asking Alexandria. Bad Omens is certainly their own band, with their own sound. They’re difficult to pigeon-hole, given the incredible range of their songs. For some, this might make them seem a bit schizophrenic or disjointed, but I think it makes Finding God Before He Finds Me a very interesting listening experience. Continue reading

Music Review: THE GHOST OF OHIO, Andy Black (Island Records)

AndyBlack-GhostOfOhioAndy Biersack/Black is, in my humble opinion, one of the best young vocalists in rock. In his “day job” as frontman of Black Veil Brides, we’ve heard his vocals and songwriting skills improve in leaps and bounds since they formed in 2006.

From the run-of-the-mill screamo of their debut album, We Stitch These Wounds (which was rather blandly stereotypical), to the way-more-glam Set the World On Fire (2011), to the monster hits of Wretched and Divine (2013) and Black Veil Brides IV (2014), he and his bandmates kept knocking it out of the park and getting better and better. Then, in 2016, he released his superb debut album, The Shadow Side: far more pop-oriented than BVB’s output, it is polished and catchy as hell. BVB’s fifth album, Vale (2018), built on everything that had come before and was another fantastic rock album. The pattern had been set: continued growth, and restrained experimentation, and more sophisticated song-writing. Continue reading

Quick Music Review: THORNSTAR by Lord of the Lost (Napalm Records)

LordOfTheLost-ThornstarI stumbled across Lord of the Lost one evening, enjoying one of my frequent music video binges. Specifically, their video for “Loreley” appeared in my Suggested list, and decided to give them a try. I rather enjoyed what I heard, and decided to check out a few more of their videos.

Naturally, I then went and bought their latest album, Thornstar. Released through Napalm Records, it’s a solid collection of goth-metal tunes, tinged with industrial and broader soundscapes that should appeal to any Wearer of All the Black Clothes. Continue reading

Music: Within Temptation’s dystopian Sci-Fi video for “Raise Your Banner”…

Back in September, I shared some info about Within Temptation‘s upcoming new album, Resist, including the music video for the first single, “The Reckoning”. Today, we have the second video, for “Raise Your Banner” (above). This single also features Anders Fridén, vocalist for In Flames (one of my all-time favourite bands).

Resist is due to be released on February 1st by Spinefarm Records (I think it’s been delayed, as I originally thought it was due out in December).

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Here’s the video for “The Reckoning”, again:

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Music: MURDER AND THE MOTIVE by Those Damn Crows

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I feel like I’ve been waiting a long time for the debut album from Bridgend, South Wales five-piece Those Damn Crows. Thankfully, on October 5th, Earache Records released their album, Murder and the Motive. The delay was certainly worth the wait: this album is great. It’s interesting that it did take so long for the album to come out, though: the music video for “Fear of the Broken” (the final track on the album) was uploaded to YouTube on June 8th, 2015! “Blink of an Eye” (my favourite song on the album) got a video in September 2016.

My “review”, for want of a better word, is simply this: Those Damn Crows are damn good. If you’re a fan of any kind of rock music, then I think you’ll like this band. Loud guitars, great vocals and hooks, I’m really glad I stumbled across them. Continue reading

Upcoming: RESIST by Within Temptation (Spinefarm Records)

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Dutch symphonic metal band Within Temptation return this year with Resist, their first album since 2014’s Hydra. A band I have been listening to for decades, I’m really looking forward to it (they are one of the bands whose new music I pre-order immediately). Continue reading

Review(ish): FARGO ROCK CITY by Chuck Klosterman and TWILIGHT OF THE GODS by Steven Hyden

KlostermanC-FargoRockCityUSChuck Klosterman and Steven Hyden are great guides to the worlds of rock and metal music, and their respective (and oft-overlapping) fandoms. In the two books covered in this feature, they examine the bands that meant the most to them, how their music fandom shaped their youths, and also the changes in the industry and soundscapes of the years that forged their tastes. Klosterman’s book is more connected to his own biography, while Hyden’s takes a more in-depth, long-view examination of what makes some rock music “classic”, and how the genre’s mythology has become ever more contentious and troubling. Both authors are passionate music fans and eloquently opinionated. As a result, they are also great guides to rock and metal music. If you have any interest in rock and metal music, then I would certainly recommend these two books. Continue reading