Disc Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


In Flames - A Sense of Purpose

In Flames - A Sense of Purpose

In Flames

Album title: A Sense of Purpose
By Kirin Furst
Posted: Apr 2008
Label: Koch
(2262) Page Views

In 1990, a new genre was forged by these Swedish bands: In Flames, Dark Tranquility and At the Gates. It wasn’t until the later 90’s that melodic death metal caught on and since then In Flames has steadily grown in international popularity. Rejecting from the beginning the trademark brutality of parent genre death metal, they have increasingly moved away from the discussion of more grandiose Lovecraftian themes to those of personal despair, a change some pin to “Reroute to Remain” (2002) or “Soundtrack to Your Escape” (2004). At the same time, In Flames began incorporating influence from bands it had spawned which was a plethora of modern metal genres.

Long-standing In Flames fans express disappointment with the band’s ‘selling out’ to an American market inundated with bad nu-metal and pussified alternative. Those particular fans will shit criticism of the newest release, “A Sense of Purpose” (April 2008). The album sparkles clean with chorus-y layered vocals (a nice touch, but highly unnecessary in such quantity), introspective, angst-sodden lyrics, and the occasional ballad-rock string plucking. Aside from these rather superficial explorations into a more highly produced, epic, yet not necessarily more mature incarnation of In Flames, the best moments often feel regurgitated.

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Marashino - The Picture of Us All

Marashino - The Picture of Us All

Marashino

Album title: The Picture of Us All
By Kristen Winiarski
Posted: Apr 2008
Label: Self Released
(2025) Page Views

Deriving their name from a delicious and similar-sounding sundae topper, Milwaukee’s Marashino are no cherries. Since their inception in 2002, the band have performed hundreds of shows from local clubs, county fairs, Summerfest a few times, and even a few jaunts around the country. Having opened for the likes of Crossfade and Shinedown, the band appears ready for a new challenge.

This year welcomes a new release from the band entitled, “The Picture of Us All”. Their self-released album mixes rock with impressive guitar lines as well as unique vocal styling.  Their rockin’ alternative style permeates throughout the entire album. Something really attention-grabbing about the band is the voices. Four out of the five band members sing vocals throughout the album. This exposes the listener to a greater vocal range than otherwise demonstrated by bands with a single dominating lead singer. The power of each voice has its own intensity that is felt through each lyric that is sung. This is especially evident in the song “Dilemna” as the beginning showcases a voice without music. The gravely voice is able to stand out on its own without other musical accompaniment. The listener is able to feel the desperation melt into their own soul. This demands attention to the voice alone until it is joined by the guitar and other instruments. The different periods of silence throughout the song also act to emphasize the different lines of lyric. As you listen to this album, the angst of self-discovery is combined to form a story.
This band proves to be more than just the topper and is a stand-out against others. It is, in fact, the entire sundae.

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Egypt Central - Egypt Central

Egypt Central - Egypt Central

Egypt Central

Album title: Egypt Central
By Kimberly E. McDaniel
Posted: Apr 2008
Label: East West
(5329) Page Views

I had never heard of Egypt Central, but their self-titled debut is actually very easy on the ears and could find a happy home on modern rock radio stations.  There is something similar to Linkin Park about this band, as they rap a little and in truth, being radio-friendly can be as much a curse as a gift these days. 

Opening tracks “Different,” “You Make Me Sick” and “Taking You Down” are probably the most interesting tracks and are likely to be heard on the radio. Their style is catchy modern rock which is well-played as well as being well-written. If they can get past the hard-rock stigma, they might be able to get somewhere.

The problem that they need to overcome is that they aren’t particularly original sounding.  They remind me of several different bands, and sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes it is not. If you like catchy, radio-friendly material, then Egypt Central is worth checking out.

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Testament - Demonic

Testament - Demonic

Testament

Album title: Demonic
By Kimberly E. McDaniel
Posted: Apr 2008
Label: Prosthetic
(1890) Page Views

Testament is undoubtedly one of metal’s hardest working acts, releasing both “Demonic” and “The Gathering” in 2007 alone. The sheer output of this band is quite impressive, and for those who like the super-heavy, crunchy guitar sound and a growling vocal styling, “Demonic” is sure to be a hit.

The first track, “Demonic Refusal,” builds to a wailing frenzy, with guitarist Eric Peterson wrenching sounds from the instrument, which seems slightly tortured.  Drummer Gene Hoglan and bassist Derrick Ramirez keep up with this crazy pace throughout the album. Vocalist Chuck Billy growls menacingly from song to song; with the one exception being “Hatreds Rise,” where he does actually sing a little.

Truthfully, I am not the biggest fan of this sort of metal. However, I did quite like “Hatreds Rise” and there is some fairly impressive guitar work present throughout the entirety of “Demonic.”  Certainly any Testament fan already owns this. Since it seems fairly representative of their work and sound, if you are curious pick up a copy of this and get “Demonic.”

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Repertoire - Moving On

Repertoire - Moving On

Repertoire

Album title: Moving On
By Kristen Winiarski
Posted: Apr 2008
Label: Self Released
(3651) Page Views

Singing out of the lands of Milwaukee, WI, comes Repertoire. This fusion of the styles of Jack Johnson and Dispatch has recently unleashed their second album, “Moving On”. Just from the title alone, the album is meant to give hope. Through the music, they tell you to “dream on dreamer.”  Whether or not things will get better, they make you think that it will. The album is meant to make you believe and give you hope in the world as well as hope in love.

The band was originally formed in 2001 and released their first album, “Even Sleep” in 2003. Even after the lead singer, bassist, and keyboardist left the band in 2005, songwriter Michael O’Donnell and drummer/vocalist Michael Jaklich, were able to pull back together and assemble a new group of players to release “Moving On” in November, 2007.

The music is also similar to Dashboard Confessional in the themes represented through the music. Throughout the album is the unique mix of vocals, guitar, drums, piano, saxophone, and violin. This mix allows the listener to both relax and identify with the wish to dream or love. The song “Moving On” showcases that violin sound at the beginning as well as throughout the piece. Their style can be described as a mix of Indie, Pop, and Alternative.

You may have already heard their music on Milwaukee radio station, 103.7 KISS FM. Repertoire was chosen as the KISS Superstar of 2008 and their song “Dreamer” has been added to the station’s playlist. If you haven’t heard them yet, give them a listen if you’re looking for something uplifting with a fun mellow beat.

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Carrie Newcomer - The Geography of Light

Carrie Newcomer - The Geography of Light

Carrie Newcomer

Album title: The Geography of Light
By John Noyd
Posted: Apr 2008
Label: Rykodisc
(2044) Page Views

A marvel of melody and metaphor, Carrie’s enlightened, “Geography,” quietly advocates the central values of community, casually gathering parallels between nature and the human condition. A soft spoken rebel that dabbles in sophisticated folk and literate country, Newcomer combines questions and conclusions with elegant allusions and persuasive sentiments. Both reverent and relevant, “Geography,” mixes history with poetry and everyday dramas with uncommonly common sense. An old soul with fresh eyes, Newcomer is a rare example of a musical talent serving her virtues with honor and respect while tackling life’s recurring obstacles. As she has on numerous other recordings, Newcomer uses Madison favorites Mary Gaines and Chris Wagoner to flesh out her glorious stories, empowering solid words to deliver musical goodwill, collaborating to craft a masterpiece of hope.

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British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music?

British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music?

British Sea Power

Album title: Do You Like Rock Music?
By John Noyd
Posted: Mar 2008
Label: Rough Trade
(2095) Page Views

Or more appropriately, do you like grandly ambitious Rock music? A gutsy, atmospheric disc of rumbling panoramas, caressing epics and invigorating inquires, “Do You Like Rock Music?” balances awe with irony for a sublime combination of youthful triumph and revolutionary transcendence. Distilling a turbulent world view into tenacious fables of personal politics, BSP’s edgy eloquence preaches over bristling riffs, bashing guitars, expansive arrangements and vacillating dynamics.  Churning and melodramatic, BSP’s smart mouths, nimble fingers and savvy minds suggests early Radiohead folded around desperately earnest Bowie and socially conscious Pulp. Deliberately forthright and emphatic, BSP’s conniving conundrums of post-modern perspectives makes, “Do You,” a masterful exercise in pushing boundaries while staying the course, making waves guided by the stars. BSP plays Chicago’s Empty Bottle March 24.

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Endeverafter - Kiss or Kill

Endeverafter - Kiss or Kill

Endeverafter

Album title: Kiss or Kill
By Sarah H. Grant
Posted: Mar 2008
Label: Razor & Tie
(5577) Page Views

Fathers warned their daughters about them, but somehow these classic bad-ass types just keep knocking on the dooror rather, sneaking through the window. Kiss or Kill, Endeverafter’s debut album plunges into a mysterious fury with astonishing force and finesse. The rockers revel in their imperfections, offering raw, dirty, fret board bites of a bygone era on every track. Mixed by Machine (Lamb of God) and Mark Needham (The Killers), Kiss or Kill hearkens back to the primeval depths of rock n’ roll, and is a ruthless mélange of electrifying rhythms and killer riffs. Grant’s vociferous yowl on “I Wanna Be Your Man” launches dueling guitars with excruciating clarity. “Baby x3” works in the same vein, with impressive guitar solos and extraordinary vigor that are reminiscent of Crue’s infamous Girls Girls Girls album. Directed by renowned adult-film aficionado, Jax, the “Baby Baby Baby” video could be the raunchy sequel to Britney Spears’ schoolgirl routine. The hedonism subsides to make way for the plaintive, “Next Best Thing” and “Long Way Home,” which divulge Grant’s maturity as a songwriter, and are two impeccably crafted ballads. In the first, there is a note of genuine lament at love lost, better expressed in a heart-searing guitar solo. Grant reaches his wistful core in “Long Way Home,” which ends on a forlorn but stirring high. The road to success is a daunting journey for those who crave originality. As Grant asserts, “You have to be hungry for it. You have to want it more than anybody else. And I assure you, everyone in this band is hungry.”

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Dad The Plow - The Heavy

Dad The Plow - The Heavy

Dad The Plow

Album title: The Heavy
By Jeff Muendel
Posted: Mar 2008
Label: Self Released
(2929) Page Views

This band’s name well describes the type of music on the CD: it is big, powerful, and moves mass at a steady pace. The opening track, “Angry Sunday,” sets the tone for the rest of the album, and the song’s title alone will give you more than a hint of where it’s going. The meter isn’t fast, but the bass and drums push hard underneath sizzling guitars and throaty vocals. Much of the album follows in this way, and by the end, your ears will indeed have been thoroughly plowed. What’s interesting about this Milwaukee group’s self-released debut is that while it’s as hard as the name implies, it seems to defy categorization. Certainly, heavy metal would be the easiest bin in which to drop it, but it also has elements of punk, especially in the lyrics and vocal style, and the occasional synthesizer bursts lend a trippy characteristic that makes the group sound more like Pink Floyd at their heaviest than anything else. The band (Chris Howard, Mike Runge, and Remo) are still shopping a distribution deal, but the CD is available at shows and at [DadThePlow.com].

Dad The Plow play their rescheduled (snow) CD Release party at The Main Stage in Waukesha on March 29th with The Motor Primitives in support.

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Ministry & Co Conspirators - Cover Up

Ministry & Co Conspirators - Cover Up

Ministry & Co Conspirators

Album title: Cover Up
By Kimberly E. McDaniel
Posted: Feb 2008
Label: 13th Planet/Megaforce
(2170) Page Views

Ministry fans know that Al Jourgensen is putting the infamous industrial giant to sleep following the upcoming final tour. Apparently, one reason he is doing so is to have more time to record and collaborate with other artists. This new CD, “Cover Up,” is but a taste of what’s to come and any Ministry fan will instantly fall in love as Jourgensen delivers the goods yet again.

“Cover Up” is due to be released on April 1, 2008, and Jourgensen covers all manner of great songs, giving them a hard and heavy Ministry beating. From the opening track, “Under My Thumb”, to “Bang A Gong” and “Just Got Paid,” this ain’t your father’s classic rock, folks! Although the songs are recognizable, Jourgensen has twisted them into modern, thumping, grinding party tunes. He brings in Burton C. Bell from Fear Factory, as well as his Rev-Co counterparts, to spice up yesterday’s hits for today’s sound.

I can think of no downside to this, or any other, Ministry release. All Ministry fans, rejoice and proudly add this to your collection. If this is the future, I not only embrace it, I can’t wait for the next installment. Grab this, play until your ears bleed…repeat.

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The Eels - Meet The Eels: Essential Eels 1996  2006 Volume 1

The Eels - Meet The Eels: Essential Eels 1996 2006 Volume 1

The Eels

Album title: Meet The Eels: Essential Eels 1996 2006 Volume 1
By John Noyd
Posted: Jan 2008
Label: Geffen
(1958) Page Views

L.A.‘s Eels are eclectic intelligence set to a rockin’ beat - imagine American Bandstand hosted by Hunter S. Thompson. A scatological novel where tragic memoirs are sung without remorse, “Essential,” beautifully ties together ten years of sabotaging formulas and stretching perspectives with Blue Velvet cool. The surreal and ideal congeal as corrosive curlicues of bluesy grooves melt into lyrical chamber pop then blend into literate hip-hop as acid-etched solos run over poetic piano reminiscing in childhood reverie. Sunny sarcasm meets cruel clichés as parables of parasites compete among the casualties of heartbreak, wringing truth and hope from bruised ballads and seething symphonies.  “Meet,” includes a visually stimulating DVD, but collectors should also investigate the companion set, “Useless Trinkets,” a collection of B-sides, soundtracks and rarities.

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Too Pure To Die - Confidence and Consequence

Too Pure To Die - Confidence and Consequence

Too Pure To Die

Album title: Confidence and Consequence
By Justin Beckner
Posted: Jan 2008
Label: Trustkill Records
(2043) Page Views

From the corny fields of Iowa comes a new force in hardcore music. Too Pure To Die has made a brutal entrance onto the scene with their debut album “Confidence and Consequence.” The entire album pulses with pure unfiltered anger, raspy vocals, squealing guitar riffs, and a relentless pounding beat that keeps it both edgy and catchy. The band’s raw talent and rabid hunger for touring will bring a smile to the face of any fan of hard rock.

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