Sunday, August 26, 2012

JOIN THE DEAD "Join The Dead 4 Song EP"

(c) 2012 Roxx Productions

  1. Out Of Breath
  2. Mask Of Fear
  3. Self Inflicted Pain
  4. Idol Faith
Paul White--Vocals
Mike Phillips--Guitars
Tim Kronyak--Bass

While not normally the style of music covered here in Glitter2Gutter, Join The Dead made me sit up and take notice when the EP arrived in my mailbox.  Playing a rarely utilized, under-appreciated Bay Area thrash style, Join The Dead is the closest thing to a Christian metal supergroup, with guitar player Phillips having previously performed with Deliverance, Fasedown, and The Sacrificed, Kronyak also having been in Deliverance, and White previously fronting the lesser-known Decadence.  From note one, all the way through the end of this all-too-short EP, Join The Dead treats the listener to a tasty sonic assault that will leave fans of old-school Testament, Exodus, Forbidden, and even older Metallica, grinning from ear to ear as they threaten to snap their neck while moshing around the room!  

Fans should appreciate the lyrical content which delivers a Christian message without giving listeners a Bible beating across the forehead, and White's vocals are easily understood and powerfully delivered.  With a tone and style that at times reminds me of a younger Chuck Billy, I really like the phrasing that White uses and the way he half-snarls, half-barks his lines in places.  Equally entertaining for me is the guitar work of Phillips, whom I have always enjoyed in Deliverance and Fasedown.  He brings a bit of a Deliverance feel to the guitars on my two favorite tracks here, the pummeling album opener "Out Of Breath", and the speedy "Mask Of Fear". 

The drumming is an interesting feature here, as a couple of people I have chatted with get the impression that "ED" actually stands for electric drums, which I guess is a possibility.  Regardless, there is some absolutely crushing drumming on this EP, so if these are programmed drums, kudos to whomever did the programming because it is top-notch. 

Thrash fans should find plenty to enjoy on this short tease of an album.  There will be a limited edition release which will feature an additional 13 tracks including some live material and and demos, so lucky fans who are able to snatch that one up will get the chance to hear even more from this band that I think has a very solid future should they decide to go forward from here.  The cool thing about those bonus tracks, at least for me, is that they include performances by some other huge names from the Christian metal scene, such as Greg Minier and Jim Chaffin from The Crucified, and Jimmy P. Brown II from the mighty Deliverance!  To see if you can snag one of these, head over to and check out their store.

Rating:  Metalheads celebrate and crank this offering to a great 8.5 while hoping that there is more from these thrashers in the not-too-distant future!  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

CRASHING BROADWAY "The Words Crossed Out"

(c) 2011 Vindigo Publishing/Crashing Broadway
  1. Crutch
  2. Always Angels
  3. No Strings
  4. Best Of Me
  5. Maniac
  6. Back To Low
  7. Slow Motion
  8. Little White Lies
  9. Freedom To Choose
  10. Love Passes Away
Kacye Haynes--Vocals
Chaise Hubbard--Bass
D Riggs--Drums
Justin Swinney--Guitars
Tee Jay Timms--Guitars

Hailing from Tupelo, Mississippi, Crashing Broadway is a young, modern rock outfit that combines much of the radio rock sensibilities of the day with a definite melodic bent that many more old-school AOR and melodic hard rock fans are likely to find to their liking.  I'm not trying to say anyone will mistake this combo for a newer version of a Sunset Strip band, because they won't; there is far too much modern sound in the way the band approaches their music, especially with the programming and synthesized strings used fairly liberally throughout the album.  However, there is an old soul feeling to much of the music on The Words Crossed Out, one of the better indy debuts I have come across in some time.  Perhaps it's because these guys write songs about normal life and not abstract ideas that lose the listener.  It's an interesting approach more bands might be well-served to use... 

The album starts off with the most radio rock friendly track on the disc with "Crutch", which would play perfectly well alongside the Saving Abels, Evans Blues, Breaking Benjamins, and Shinedowns of the world, even if they are not quite as heavy as a Shinedown or Evans Blue.  Likewise, the truly sang, not screamed, melodic-yet-crunchy "Always Angels" or the snarky "Maniac" are likely to find a home on satellite radio at some point, or perhaps in an edited-for-language version on some of the more gutsy rock stations across the country.  On songs such as these, Kacye really gets to show the power and tone of his youthful voice, showing remarkable control and range belying his age.  This vocal skill is also really showcased on ballads such as the very strong, "Best Of Me", which has radio AND video hit written all over it, and album closer "Love Passes Away".  "Freedom To Choose", which the band dedicates to American troops when they are performing it live, is another outstanding rocker that should garner the band airplay at some point in the near future, and "Little White Lies" is the most aggressive, full-on rocker on this collection, going for an all grit-and-guitars approach rather than filling in the gaps with keys and strings and such.  The end effect is a good one, as this track is one of my favorites. 

Despite their youth (I'm guessing the average age of the band when they recorded this album couldn't have been even 25...), it sounds like Crashing Broadway has been writing and playing together for some time, as they are a surprisingly tight sounding outfit with no one person or instrument overpowering the other. The guitar tandem of Swinney and Timms provides a nice combination of crunch and distortion mixed with melodic solos that should keep modern rockers happy for quite some time, and the backline of Riggs and Hubbard provides a solid, if not overly complicated platform upon which to craft these songs.

There are a couple of tracks that I don't get into as much as the others, but even these aren't bad.  "Slow Motion" is a bit too poppy for me, although Kacye again gives an impassioned vocal performance on this song.  "Back To Low", is a decent enough track, but it sounds like a rip-off of a Skillet song to my ears and doesn't have the same original feeling that most of the other songs here do.     

While I could go on a bit more about the album, I think it is worth noting that Crashing Broadway really sold me on their skill and energy when I had the opportunity to catch them live at Sculley's Shooters in North Platte, NE earlier this month.  Kacye pull off his vocals in a live setting with every bit as much power and passion as he does on this album, and the energy of Riggs and Timms, especially, is infectious, to say the least.  Crashing Broadway was unrelenting throughout the majority of what turned into a nearly two-hour long set comprised of songs from this album as well as covers of such diverse acts as Tom Petty, Bon Jovi, Rage Against The Machine, and others.  One can only hope that the band, which performed as a four-piece on this night, can pull this energy, excitement, and diversity together on their next album, which I am anxiously awaiting.  In the meantime, if you get the chance to catch Crashing Broadway in the live setting, do so without hesitation...and pick up The Words Crossed Out while you are there.

Rating:  It's very possible I've been biased by meeting the band and seeing a live performance, but I would encourage readers to rock this at 6.5 with the high points far outweighing the few lesser moments on this debut.

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Friday, August 3, 2012


(c) 2012 Down Boys Records
  1. Psychotrip
  2. Celebrity High
  3. This Life
  4. Love And Hate
Nikki McKibbin--Vocals
Holly Wood--Bass
Billy Blair--Guitar & Vocals

Love Stricken Demise is an interesting collaboration of talent, largely centered around the former American Idol finalist, Nikki McKibbin.  Although not a founder of the band (that distinction falls to Billy Blair and Rico), it is hard to deny that a lot of the attention this band will receive is going to be due to the curiosity of the reality television sector.  Of course, Blair is no stranger to a lot of people, either, as he is something of a "movie star", if you will, having appeard in Jonah Hex and Machete, most recently.  So, I would imagine that the fame of a couple of members could be a good thing, but you still have to have the goods to back it up if you are going to make it past being a one-album or one-hit wonder.

I don't think that is going to be an issue with Love Stricken Demise.

On this little four-track EP, McKibbin and her pals Blair, Rico, and bassist Holly Wood (seriously, I can't make this stuff up...) put together a teaser of what they are all about.  And what exactly is that?  Well, taking things a step beyond the typical radio rock format, Love Stricken Demise dips their toes into multiple styles here, with the album's opener and title track, "Psychotrip" being a bit more glammy in its approach than the rest of the EP.  To me, the most noticable thing about this track, or any of them, to be honest, is the brutal drum assault that Rico lays on the kit!  This guy just flat out pounds his drums into submission on every one of these four tracks, regardless of the tempo or style.  McKibbin is also very noticeable here, as well, as her vocals instantly set her apart from the Evanescence/Halestorm/Lacuna Coil sounds that a lot of modern rockers seemingly go for, and chooses instead to use a deeper, dare I say more sultry sound in her delivery.  I'm not sure that McKibbin sounds like any one particular singer, but more like a combination of Joan Jett, Stevie Nicks, and maybe even Janis Joplin in the way she uses her voice.  The really odd thing, at least for me, is I like this approach even though I am NOT a fan of Nicks or Joplin by any stretch.  Go figure.  By the way, Blair rips out a pretty tasty solo on this one and the overall guitar work throughout the album, including some pretty cool sleazy tones, left me pleasantly suprised, to be honest.

The second track here, "Celebrity High", is also the weakest, in my estimation.  I just don't care for the pre-chorus or chorus at all, as it sounds disjointed.  The topic of drug abuse and rehab is a good one, especially with the approach the band takes with it lyrically, I just don't care for the delivery on this more hard rock-than-metal track.  Not terrible by any stretch, just not my cup of tea overall.

"This Life" is my favorite of the four here.  Taking more of a bluesy-classic rock approach than anything else, this is something I would LOVE to hear this band tackle on a full-album scale as I think they pull it off excedingly well and the style and approach really fit McKibbin's vocal delivery.  Once again, Rico apparently has something personal against his drum kit, and  he and Holly Wood lock down a very solid rhythm section here for Blair to riff away on.  Great song that I would like to hear a lot more of.

The album closer takes us almost full circle, again treading on metal territory, but with a punk attitude.  Once again Blair steps up with some very solid guitar work, showcasing his ability to play at a breakneck tempo, and while not doing anything earth-shattering, leaves little doubt about his skill and his inclusion in the band as something more than just a "name" to draw attention.  Likewise, McKibbin cuts loose vocally a bit more here than anywhere else, really bringing a metallic bite to her rasp.

The songwriting needs some polish, and the band likely needs to pick one specific style and focus on that, but this is not a bad EP by any means, especially as an introductory tool.  Being released on the Down Boys Records label (as in members of Warrant) is a nice boost as well.  I find it interesting that in the band's bio, Blair claims to have been a fan of Warrant since the Dirty, Rotten, Filthy, Stinkin' Rich days, as you can kind of hear a bit of that sleazy glam attitude in some of his playing here.  Also, I have to say it because you all know how I feel...LOSE THE CARDBOARD SLIPCASE!!!  There...I feel better now.

A solid introductory EP that really only has one weak track on it.  As such, I think it is safe to say that Love Stricken Demise has very solid potential and I look forward to a full-length release in the not-too-distant future.

Rating:  Rock this at a solid 6.

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