Tag Archives: Metal

Album Review: Haunt – Beautiful Distraction

I learned of Haunt about a year ago thanks to Bandcamp and absolutely adore the galvanizing 80s metal style. They are without a doubt one of the more exciting bands to emerge in recent years all thanks to catchy as hell songs that are full of riffs and guitar solos a plenty.

Formed by Trevor William Church, Haunt is more or less a solo project that started back in 2017. Hearing his rigorous anthems could fool anyone easily into thinking he’s been around for decades. With a style similar to bands like Helloween, Iron Maiden, and even early Anthrax, Haunt isn’t a modern day cookie-cutter rock band or gimmicky at all. Honestly, Haunt could easily be mistaken for being part of the original NWOBHM era and Church’s dedication and style is a proper resurgence to be taken seriously.

With that said, there is some history behind the creator of Haunt. Church is the man behind Beastmaker and once played in An Angle, a 2000s indie/pop band on Drive-Thru Records. If you can recall either band’s sound, boy are you in for a treat because Haunt sounds nothing like them.

Church himself is a busy man. Not only does he rock the title husband and father, but he currently plays in two other bands aside from Haunt. When not recording new tunes, he is revisiting old ones and perfecting his style for the sake of the art.

Fun fact, his father is renowned bassist Bill Church who played in Montrose and with Sammy Hagar.

Beautiful Distraction is the band’s sixth full-length album and is slated to drop April 2nd under Church’s own label Church Recordings. With just one guest guitarist who supplied some solos, Church wrote and performed all of the songs, recorded, mixed, and mastered it and also had every involvement of manufacturing and marketing. This is beyond a one man show.

As much as I have loved the last couple Haunt albums, this one is an absolute ripper. There is so much energy packed into just over 38 minutes that it is almost unfair it did not last longer.

Staring things off was album title track “Beautiful Distraction” and all I could think about was how the singing style complimented a young Claudio Sanchez from Coheed & Cambria. I totally got sucked into this song and it made for a strong ass opening track. The solos at the end were to die for. Loved this song a ton.

When Church started to tear it up in “In Our Dreams,” all I could do was sit back and enjoy the ride. “Fortune’s Wheel” again had this progressive metal feel to it that was all too enjoyable.

The reworked “Fool’s Paradise” was a hell of a journey to listen to. The keys at the start key things feeling a tad retro, but then Church did what he does best and tore it up on a few occasions. This was a fun one with riffs galore.

“Hearts On Fire” was another re-recorded full-forced rager that never held up once. I adored the keys buried behind the brutal guitar playing and furious drumming and favor this way more than the original.

Church has some serious talent when it comes to creating tunes from start to finish and this album continued to prove it. There was not one dull moment in Beautiful Distraction and nothing sounded recycled, repeated, or cheesy for that matter.

As someone who usually finds themselves hanging out in the punk rock genre, Haunt has dropped one of my favorite albums of the year easily. This band is not to be overlooked at all and is guaranteed to entertain.

Listen below, to some of Haunt’s older tunes, snag your copy though Bandcamp and enjoy.

Preorders for Beautiful Distraction go live this Friday.

Album Review: Western Addiction – Frail Bray

Perhaps the hardest sounding band on the Fat Wreck Chords roster -sorry Me First and the Gimme Gimmes-  Western Addiction is back with an all new album and it freaking shreds.  I think the best thing about this is that we only had to wait 3 years for them to pump out more tunes.

Featuring veteran punks, some of who were perviously Fat staff, Western Addiction are not your ordinary punk band.  It’s their sounds of punk, melodic hardcore, and even doses of metal that make this band so unique and just badass.

Hailing from San Francisco, this is the band’s third release and was produced by Jack Shirley who, if you know the name, has helped with more than a few amazing releases.

Starting off the album was “The Leopard and the Juniper”, a precise, methodical hard track that clearly wasn’t just thrown together overnight.  The lyrics are out of this world, or at least dimension, and carry well with the brutal guitar playing.

“They Burned Our Paintings’ was just insane.  Based off true events, this track recalled the demise of masterpieces without stepping away from the canvas.  I loved the lyrics: “You can burn our paintings. We’ll dream a thousand more. Each one more coercive than before”.  I just could sense the passion and willingness to fight for creation on this track.

There was something about “Lurchers” that had me thinking about Dave Mustaine often.  This track honestly could have passed for a Megadeth track and I do not mean that in a bad way at all.  Of course at the end of the track Jason Hall makes a grunt that solidified my notion.

“Rose’s Hammer I” and “Rose’s Hammer II” clearly were about the perils of motherhood.  I have to credit Hall and crew for taking a personal approach on their beliefs and putting it to music.  Once I learned that Hall’s wife is a doula, it made even more sense.  Both tracks are a clear tribute to bringing in life and she who is responsible for it.

“Wildflowers of Italy” was probably my favorite track on the album with a more of a 80s/90s metal feel.  Far from cheesy, this track just spoke to me for some reason.  I loved the shift of the track when the piano just busted in making for a great listen most likely because it reminded me of some classic TSOL.

“Deranged By Grief” closed the album down with an almost haunting start that just shifted into an all out assault.  Tracks like this are why I adore this band.

I’ve listened to Frail Bray a few times now, and my god, it just keeps getting better with each listen.  I’m sure I have said that about other albums in the past, but this really hold true.  They seemingly touch on so many decades of punk/metal/hardcore without intention and I think that’s what makes them so unique.

EP Review: Charger – Charger

Not trying to prove my age here folks, but I have been a fan of Operation Ivy and Rancid for a good 25 years now.

Needless to say when I heard that Matt Freeman had a new project on Pirates Press Records, I had to stop what I was doing to check it out.

Freeman has been in so many punk rock bands since the late 80s aside from Rancid including MDC, Dancehall Crashers, Auntie Christ, and of course Devil’s Brigade.  He even filled in for Social D for a bit. His bass playing is undeniably amazing and his deep, raspy singing style is unforgettable.

Having known his history, I figured Charger would follow suit, but I was so wrong and beyond blown away at what I heard.  Sure, there was a Hellcat feel, but smashed up against pure hard rock a la Mötorhead and Black Sabbath.

I shouldn’t just speak of Freeman as two other talented-ass musicians put their heart and sound into the self-titled Charger EP.  Andrew McGee plays guitar and then there’s Jason Willer on drums and vocals.  He’s from Jello Biafra’s Guantanamo School of Medicine and some other band called U.K. Subs.

“Crackdown” started with the bass playing I have grown so fond of along side some serious guitar playing.  The moment Freeman took the mic, I knew this album was gold.

The breakdown in “Victim” is tough and ever so authoritative.  The band clearly tossed massive nods to metal bands of the 80s/90s without losing grip of their punk roots.  You know the band had all the fun playing this one.

“Damage” ripped.  Riffs, slapping bass, insane drumming, and Freeman bellowing into the microphone.  There was a huge Hawkwind and Iron Maiden nod on this one.  This track right here is proof that this band has a ton to offer.

“All Kings Must Die” pretty much was what would happen if Rancid and Mötorhead had a baby.  There’s really no other way to put it, and it works just so well.  Beyond entertaining to listen to as it covers metal, thrash, and punk rock without skipping a beat.

“Dragged Down” again pushed back to 70s/80s metal giants like Maiden and Metallica.  The chorus on this one was perfect and evoked serious headbanging opportunities.

The EP might have flown by, but it was flawless and left me wanting far more.  Here’s hoping for a full-length soon.  Freeman, McGee, and Willer easily have proved their talent in this release will surpass the expectations of many.  I foresee a lot of music lovers getting into this one.  It’s topped my best of 2019 list easily and I have listened to the EP daily for a few weeks now and not grown tired at all of it.

Side note, if Charger was the music that Fraser, Buscemi, and Sander would have played in Airheads, it would have been the greatest movie of all time.  I am not sure why I kept thinking of that movie while listening, but I couldn’t help but share.  Plus if you recall, Lemmy was in that movie…

 

BHP Best of 2017

It’s crazy that 2017 is coming to an end already.  I feel like I always seem to say that around this time of the year, but it’s true.

It feels like it was just yesterday that I turned into a 40 year old.  Let me tell you, that was kind of a big change for me and I might have sulked about it for 7-8 months.

More importantly, my wife and I welcomed our amazing, chill little daughter to the world in July.  She is the coolest, but don’t tell my son I said that.

Clearly dadage life takes up most of my time these days and this blog is not what it used to be, but I still try to crank out reviews and whatnot when I can because I love it.

I may be busy with life, but I am always listening to music and have checked out tons of albums by amazing bands and artists.  Where I wish I could review everything that I have come across, I simply have to pick and choose when I can.

It’s been a tradition of sorts for me to do a Best Of post, and there is nothing I would rather do that share with you some of my favorite releases of 2017.  So, without further delay…[well maybe some as I am trying to narrow this down to just 20, but who am I kidding???  Edit: I might have added to this best of list a few times now…]

I ‘m super proud to say that four of my favorite releases in 2017 are all Cleveland bands so they obviously need to be mentioned first:


Heart & Lung – You Wanna Know the Truth?
This is the album that caught me by complete surprise.  My pal told me to check them out and I did and I loved this entire pop punk jam of an album to the point that I still listen to it almost daily.  If I was able to sign them and put out a record, I would have already.  This band has so much potential to be huge.


Heart Attack Man – The Manson Family

Words can really not express how great this album is.  It’s punk, it’s grunge, it’s good, and it’s comprised of great folk.  Do not sleep on this one.


Two Hand Fools – Falling In / Falling Out
I was lucky enough to hear this album over the summer and was beyond blown away by how amazing it was.  It is seriously the best thing the band has done so far and I adore it from start to finish.  This is one of Cleveland’s best bands if you ask me.


Warbrides – Regrets

Oh man this album rips…

Of course there were others too…


Iron Chic – You Can’t Stay Here

Do I really need to even say anything?  This album is damn near perfect.


Smith Street Band – More Scared of You Than You Are of Me
These Aussies have put out one of my favorite albums of the year.  I loved how catchy, fun, and overly personal it was.  I still have intentions on getting one of the lyrics off this album tattooed on me. I also need to buy the damn record already for my collection.


Propagandhi – Victory Lap 
It should say a lot how politically charged this album was from a Canadian band about the US mess we are in.  I really adore this album from start to finish.  It’s damn perfect.


Hot Water Music – Never Going Back
The more I listened to this album, the more I appreciated it.  It is a wiser, more mature release by this iconic punk band.


Scorpios – Scorpios Vol. 2

When Joey Cape told me in an interview that Scorpios might just return and someone with the initials C.C. would take over where Sly left off, I was beyond stoked and instantly knew it was Chris Cresswell.  This is one of the albums this year that everyone needs to just give a chance.


Demons – Embrace Wolf
I just found out about these guys from a good friend recently and I have listened to their debut release almost daily since.  This band packs a severe punch with their post-hardcore greatness.


Ho99o9 – United States of Horror
Hardcore punk mixed with hip hop?  Yes please.  This album was beyond insane.  Death Grips ain’t got nothing on these dudes.


Frank Carter and the Rattle Snakes – Modern Ruin
I miss Gallows so much, but what Frank Carter and crew released has me happy that he still puts himself out there for everyone to hear.  This is more of a rock album but it’s so rad.


Sweet Apple – Sing the Night in Sorrow
I was not sold on my first listen, but after a few more I realized I should have paid more attention the first time.  Remarkable release by some amazing musicians.


Anti-Flag – American Fall
I do not really care with anyone thinks here, Anti-Flag released a political, poignant album that everyone who has a clue needs to check out.  They have perfected their sound so much on this album.


The Flatliners – Inviting Light
Upon first listen I was not totally sold on the band tapping their brakes compared to previous releases, but the more and more listened to it, the more and more I appreciated what they had to offer.  This really is a hell of an album.


Fred Thomas – Changer
This man can do no wrong.  I love his style and uniqueness and the fact he gets excited about my Instagram posts every once in a while.  His latest release just hit me as it encompassed change.


Body Count – Bloodlust
Back in ’93, I was a huge Body Count fan.  I am sure I can still recite most of the lyrics off their debut.  After that first album, I just never got into them the same.  Then Bloodlust came out and once again they have grabbed my attention.  Ice T, Ernie C, and crew really delivered a heavy ass album with plenty of special guests.


Menzingers – After the Party
I feel like every album they release I am putting it on my best of list, but hey, it rules and deserves to be noted.


Ride – Weather Diaries
This album is incredible from start to finish.  I honestly was not expecting this seeing how the band hadn’t released material in over 20 years.  Clearly I am dumb for thinking that.


A Giant Dog – Toy
This band is straight up insane and I love the hell out of them for that.


Lil Peep – Come Over When You’re Sober (Part One)

I was strangely fascinated with this kid and his emo rap to the point that I was listening to this album almost daily.  I could not stand some of the topics he was singing about and just felt like I was too old to even admit I was listening, but I loved the music and his overall singing style.  Sadly he OD’d last month so the world will never know how big he could have gotten.  I really felt this kid had so much talent.


Tim Barry – High On 95

Once again this man has taken his honest music and beat up all the emotions inside of me.  Working class hero musician with storytelling abilities like none other.


Quicksand – Interiors
I honestly was not anticipating this release to be as good as it is.  I hate to be that guy, but I was not impressed with the couple of tracks the band released prior to the album.  Little did I know they were just puzzle pieces to a killer album.


Iron Reagan – Crossover Ministry
So much thrash goodness here.  Also, best album cover too.


Needles // Pins – Good Night, Tomorrow
I am thinking that a lot of people might not have hear of these guys here in the states, but you can change that.  This punk rock group released a great album.  Note to self:  Buy the LP already!


The Electric Grandmother – Cancelled.
There is no way I was going to overlook this concept album by two very close friends of mine.  Even if they are too good to play a Cleveland show, I love them dearly and am amazed with Cancelled.  It’s the best thing they have done to date in my opinion.

Honorary Mentions:

  • Choke Up – Stormy Blue
  • Bad Cop/Bad Cop – Warriors
  • Shedders – Dangerous Jumps
  • Rancid – Trouble Maker
  • Gorillaz – Humanz
  • The Afghan Whigs – In Spades
  • Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – Rake It In:  The Greatestest Hits
  • Ethan Danial Davidson – Crows
  • No Use For A Name – Rarities Vol. 1: The Covers
  • Stutter Steps – Floored
  • Western Addiction – Tremulous
  • Cloud Nothings – Life Without Sound
  • Japandroids – Near To the Wild Heart of Life
  • Swingin’ Utters – Drowning in the Sea, Rising with the Sun: Best of Swingin’ Utters
  • TSOL – The Trigger Complex
  • Greg Graffin – Millport
  • Powerflo – Powerflo
  • Quicksand – Interiors
  • Beck – Colors

As always, this was fun to take some time and think about all the great releases that came out over the past year.  I probably could have put even more up here, but the ones listed (along with the honorable mentions) are the ones that impacted me the most.

I’m glad I did not sunset this site as I actually thought about over the summer.  I’m going on 10 years now and after careful thought have no intentions of closing shop anytime soon.

A big you to all the bands and the great PRs who have even thought of asking me to check something new out.  I am sorry I can not always get the review out, but I promise you, I listen to just about everything that is sent my way.

Thank you to you if you are reading this for checking out my site.  Whether you are new or visit often, I appreciate you for checking me out.  Without you, this site would be meaningless.

Happy Holidays to you and yours and all that jazz.

 

Album Review: PowerFlo – PowerFlo

My best friend in high school was one year younger than I was.  I want to say I met him in my German class where I was more about messing with the teacher, Herr Van Halen or whatever his name was, rather than learning a second language.

I have tons of memories of us hanging out and just encompassing a true friendship as teens.

One of the things that we both had in common was our love of music.  We could talk about bands for hours and if there was one thing I was always jealous of, it was his musical talents that I seemingly lacked.

He and I once went on a ride with a homeless man who wore a Sea World hat the projects of Cleveland so he could “pick something up for a friend.”  In exchange he bought us a bunch of 40 oz. beers with our money and wound up keeping the change.

It’s a memory I’ll never forget, especially the part were my friend and I were laying down in the back of the pick-up truck’s bed through the crazy adventure because there was no room for us up front.  Ahh youth…

A couple of years after that memorable evening, my friend told me at a random afternoon driveway party that he was going to move to California to live with his father and look into the music world.  As shocked as I was, I understood he needed to do this and wished him all the luck in the world.

You know how things go.  You grow up.  You become distant, not on purpose of course, but because life gets in the way.  We did our best to keep in touch, but truth be told, I have not seen him in over 20 years now.  Thanks to the Internet and smart phones, we touched base here and there and i knew he was doing well and following his passion.

Where am I going with this?  There’s a point, I promise…

Just a few weeks ago, my pal reached out to me to tell me about something he has been working on for a while now and wanted me to check it out and let me know my thoughts on it.   He told me he has been heavily involved with PowerFlo, a band full of musicians from the 90s that we obsessed over as teenagers.

One could say I freaked out when I heard this.  Still, I needed to hear it for myself.  To say I was proud of his accomplishment is an understatement.  Of course I told him I would check it out and offer up a review of sorts.

So I guess here we go…

PowerFlo is a supergroup metal/rap outfit from LA.  Consisting of Cypress Hill’s Sen Dog, Biohazard’s Billy Graziadei, former Fear Factory bassist/guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers, Downset’s Rogelio Lozano, and Fernando Schaefer, one could say this band is full of talent.

This group of seasoned musicians perfectly took their areas of expertise and infused metal and rock with hip-hop for an album that any fan of the “Judgement Night” soundtrack would approve of.

The album was produced by my pal Josh Lynch and also Graziadei.  It was mixed by Jay Baumgardner, and was mastered by Maor Applebaum at Maor Applebaum Mastering and released on New Damage Records.

Opening the album with a cocked gun (literally), “My M.O.” did not disappoint  More of a hardcore track over rap/metal, I loved the brutal drumming and heavy guitar riffs.  Sen Dog fits in perfectly with the rest of the gang and just goes berserk in the middle of the track with his unforgettable rap flow style.

“Resistance” followed with a slow start reminiscent of a funeral thanks to  a slow bell being rung, but just exploded out of no where.  Sen Dog shined on this track and pretty much proved he’s beyond a rap artist.

“Where I Stay” had this Fear Factory Remanufacture likeness with the electronics incorporated into the track.  Sen Dog has no problem taking his style and mixing it into the song.  This hard homage to LA threw me off with the “na na na” back vocals, but after a few listens it just worked.  I loved the thrash breakdown half way through.

The punk rock me absolutely adored “Crushing That.”  Yeah, it is mostly rap/rock, but think of what would happen if Public Enemy and Rise Against did a collaboration.

I found myself getting into “The Grind”, a full-on rager of a track.  Reminding me of Biohazard in a good way with plenty of group screaming, Sen Dog just flowed perfectly throughout.

“Victim of Circumstance” was just insane.  The band really killed it together on this one.

“Made It This Way” had Sen Dog singing / screaming more than rapping showing how diverse his talent is.  This track was just bad ass.

“Finish The Game” was a positive, forcefully charged song about getting things done without giving up.  I almost wondered if there was a hidden nod to Hatebreed on this track. Not complaining here at all.

Ending the album was the powerful “Start A War”.  This track was all about swinging fists and not asking questions at all.  I could not help of think of Chuck D and Anthrax on this one.

There really is no sleeper of a track on this album.  It started strong and ended full-force.  My only vice is that it clocked in at just over 30 minutes and I really wanted more.

I’ll say it – PowerFlo is what I expected Prophets of Rage to sound like.  Where the former Rage guys still have yet to impress me completely, PowerFlo has straight up delivered a solid album to my ears that has been worthy of multiple listens.

Perhaps not nearly as brutal as the new Body Count was, this album is still heavy, poignant, and should not be sat on.  I am really hoping these guys hit the road soon as I would love to see what they sound like live.

When you hear metal musicians from the 90s came together with a 90s hip-hop artist, it is easy to dismiss the whole idea but PowerFlo delivered an excellent release.  I look forward to seeing this band succeed.