Sunday, October 27, 2019

DISCIPLE "Love Letter Kill Shot"

(c) 2019 Tooth & Nail Records

  1. Cuff The Criminal
  2. Reanimate
  3. Wake Up
  4. Panic Room (Featuring Andrew Schwab)
  5. Play To Win
  6. Fire Away
  7. Misery
  8. Chemical Wisdom
  9. Never Too Late
  10. Touch Of Pain
  11. Walk With Me
  12. Best Thing Ever
Kevin Young--Lead Vocals
Josiah Prince--Lead Guitars, Bass, Backing Vocals
Andrew Stanton--Guitars
Joey West--Drums, Backing Vocals

For the past three releases (Attack, Long Live The Rebels and the Vultures EP), Disciple had been going the fully independent route, utilizing crowd funding and massive on-line campaigns to get their music to the people.  For their latest offereing, Love Letter Kill Shot, Disciple has gone the more traditional label route, signing to one of the biggest Christian rock labels out there, Tooth & Nail.  I had heard some grumbling from fans, as many feared Disciple would be forced to alter their sound to fit the vision of the people at Tooth & Nail, and the release of the first two singles, "Cuff The Criminal" and "Reanimate" probably did little to allay anone's fears.  However, I am here to tell you that those fears are very quickly laid to rest.  If anything, Disciple has come out harder and heavier than they have in some time.  Love Letter Kill Shot is a perfect blending of the more radio-friendly hard rock of Attack and ...Rebels, while incorporating the more aggressive, heavier sounds of Horshoes & Hand Grenades, Southern Hospitality, or even older material such as By God.

Now, I understand people being a little skittsh about the previously mentioned singles if they were expecting songs in the vein of "Erase", "Long Live The Rebels" or "Dear X", because "Cuff The Criminal" and "Reanimate", which are the opening two tracks of the new record, certainly don't fit those molds.  "Cuff The Criminal" is an experimental, progressive hard rocker complete with effects on the vocals and a stop-start rhythm that probably threw the radio rockers for a loop.  And then "Reanimate" came out and punched those same fans square in the mouth, leaving that metallic, bloody taste behind, as this is truly one of the heaviest tracks Disciple has put out in more than a decade.  Ferocious guitars, crushing drums, harshly snarled vocals, and more speed than anything since "The Name", from AttackAnd if you were fortunate enough to hear these two tracks in the live setting (which my family was), then you had an even better understanding of just how different these tracks were from so much of their extensive catalog.  But if you really listened, it was evident that at the core, this is still very much Disciple.

Once you get past those two tracks, Love Letter Kill Shot starts to feel a little more least briefly.  "Wake Up" is a modern hard rock track that feels like it could have slid onto ...Rebels with very little difficulty or modification.  But then, just when the listener is finding their comfort zone, they are slammed into the "Panic Room", which is a contender for song of the year in my book!  "Panic Room" starts off with a quirky interview between a psychiatrist and his patient, in which the woman tells her doctor she can hear voices in her head.  From there, the guitars absolutely explode in a fast and furious intro, then as suddenly back clear off to a more subdued, rhythmic track, complete with fingersnaps, for Young to layer the verses over.  And then, just before the chorus, Young admits to the listener "sometimes I scare myself"...and then BOOM!  Sheer aggression in vocal form blast forth in the form of Andrew Schwab of Project 86 as he bellows forth "I try to lock these thoughts inside a tomb, But it ends up being my panic room!  When the demons start digging up skeletons, The ghosts leave me with nowhere to run!", while Stanton and Prince absolutely shred their guitars.  A second creepy verse, a second chorus explosion, then a false ending with a blistering guitar solo threatens to blow my speakers!  At this point, a haunted house piano is added to the verse section, as Young adds even more creepiness to his vocals, before returning to his "sometimes I scare myself" pre-chorus, this time sounding like it is screamed through a wall of static, and then a final torture session with Schwab burns the song to the ground.  Simply amazing stuff from start to finish, and I simply can't make it past this song without hitting repeat at least once...usually two or three times.

"Play To Win" sounds a bit more in line with recent Disciple, except the guitar solo is more aggressive than most of the things they have done over the past three releases, and Young likely had to take a break in recording after this one, as I assume his vocal chords may have been shredded.  
"Fire Away" is also going to be more comfortable for a lot of people musically, although the subject matter may not be.  Incorporating the album title, the song talks about God's Word being His "love letter" to his people, and the truth and honesty of those words are the "kill shot" that is "tearing through my soul 'til there's nothing left" as Young implores God to "let Your love be the weapon" that brings him to his knees.  Lyrically, this track could be something of a companion to "Dear X", although this track is far more aggressive than that massive hit.

Another of my personal favorites is the next track, "Misery", as it speaks so much to the world we live in today, as the second verse expounds upon the epidemic problems of today's social media world with "would you pay any attention to me, Without the drama of hashtags, so depressed...".  The chorus then declares, "I don't want help, I don't wanna get better/All I want is your sympathy./Can't stop myself, can't keep it together/'Cuz I'm in love with misery".  A hard-hitting social commentary, to be sure, and set to a great, fist-pumping rock anthem that is sure to be a live hit.

The hidden gem of the record for me is the album's closer, "Best Thing Ever".  While lyrically simplistic, I love the way the song is delivered, with Young chanting out to Christ, "You are the best...thing...that has ever happened to me!  The best...thing...that has happened!".  A nice, uptempo modern rocker that could possibly find itself into a more modern and progressive praise playlist, this is the perfect closer for one of the absolute best records in the now 12 album catalog of Disciple.

Lyrically, as always, Disciple is scripturally sound and socially in tune, with Biblical references for the vast majority of the songs' lyrics included in the full lyrics sheet.  "Panic Room" screams about anxiety issues and our desire to control everything, "Reanimate" is an interesting twist on the idea of Christ being the physical manifestation of sin for us, and "Chemical Wisdom" tackles issues of chemical dependency, both self-induced and prescribed.  "Never Too Late" talks about the opportunity to turn our lives over to God and "start again" because "it's never too late, if you're breathing!", and the lone ballad-esque moment of "Walk With Me" is a song of friendship with Christ.  

Musically, the band continues to get tighter and tighter, with the comfort level among the men, who all contributed to the writing of Love Letter Kill Shot, seemingly never stronger.  Josiah Prince gets a couple of chances to step up to the microphone here, which work out well, and the twin guitar attack continues to explore new levels of aggression, experimentation, and harmony.  West is a beast on the drums, something that can be further appreciated in the live setting, as he absolutely tears things up.  But, as is always the case with Disciple, regardless of the lineup surrounding him, it is the passion of Kevin Young's vocals that are the driving force.  His vocals are so expressive, whether he is singing, screaming, quasi-rapping, or in some cases doing little more than talking to the listener.  Young just instantly draws you in, and never more than in the live setting, where he seems to make eye contact with the fans no matter where they are located, making his messages all that much more personal.  Add in the fact that long-time producer Travis Wyrick (with assistance from Prince) is almost as much a part of the band as any other member, and Disciple is a sonic force of massive proportions, virtually unequaled in my mind, in the Christian or secular musical world.

If listeners are seeking only what they have heard before, then Love Letter Kill Shot is going to be uncomfortable, and perhaps even scary at times.  But for those fans that have longed for the band to completely unleash themselves musically, lyrically, and thematically, Love Letter Kill Shot may be the album they have long been searching for.  Time will tell where the record stands for me in terms of top albums by Disciple, but for now, it is definitely at...or extremely near...the top of the heap.  As much as I have loved everything this version of Disciple has released, and as great as older albums like Horshoes & Hand Grenades, O God Save Us All, and the self-titled release were, Love Letter Kill Shot is on a different level for me.  

It's going to take an amazing record to bump this disc out of my player, to remove it from the status of "favorite Disciple record", or to knock it from the perch of Album of the Year for me.
Rating:  So, so crankable and near to perfect for me.  This CD hasn't left my changer since I got it, and I don't see that changing soon!  Crank it up to a 8.5!

Friday, October 25, 2019


(c) 2019 LionsPride Music

  1. How Many Miles To Heaven
  2. Come Closer
  3. Woman, You're The Devil
  4. Take Me
  5. Sweet People
  6. Forevermore
  7. That Feeling
  8. No Way
  9. Locked & Loaded
  10. Lost The World
  11. Reach Out The Sky
Harris Mos--Lead Vocals
Tony Gavalas--Guitars, Backing Vocals
Tommy Fotiadis--Bass
Orpheus Lazz--Drums, Backing Vocals

Greece's Silked & Stained was the surprise band of 2017 for me, and the most read review of 2018...heck, the most read review of all at Glitter2Gutter was the review of their debut album, Love On The Road!  A very good melodic hard rock record, Love On The Road quickly bolstered the band to some rather impressive heights in Europe, and even garnered them a smattering of recognition here in the States (although no melodic rock bands really get that much attention on the national level here in the US these days).  Heck, the album sold so well in Europe that the first pressing actually sold out within six months, according to their press release.  Every thing seemed to be trending in an upward direction for the band.  But then, lead singer Bill Tsaklidis left the band for personal reasons, and I found myself wondering how this surprise band was going to handle the loss.  

It turns out, I didn't really need to be concerned, as the band quickly recruited Harris Mos to fill the vocalist void, and Silked & Stained has already returned with a brand new album, Goes Up To Eleven, due out on Halloween of 2019.

Almost immediately after putting the new album in to play, it is noticable that the sound on Goes Up To Eleven has a bigger, fuller sound than their debut effort.  Don't mistake that for me saying that the band sounds slick and polished now, because that is not the case, and the band still retains a rawness and edginess that I truly enjoy.  But to deny the production is smoother and more refined would be a lie.  Also gone from this new record is the excessive use of keyboards that threatened to do some serious damage to a couple of tracks on the debut.  Yes, there are still keys here, but nothing that takes center stage or detracts from the power of Gavalas' guitar, which is one of the key elements that makes this band go.

The album kicks off in a big way with "How Many Miles To Heaven", which intros with an acoustic guitar line that sounds VERY much like "We All Die Young" from Steel Dragon, before soon morphing into a big, heavy riff, a la Whitesnake, and then transforming into and excellent 80s-styled rocker.  As I stated above, everything here sounds bigger, and this track showcases that right off the bat; the drums are of the big arena variety here, and Galavas absolutely goes off on an extended guitar solo after the second chorus run.  Heck, even the brief keyboard drop-ins are big, sounding very much like the intro to "Tom Sawyer" by Rush.   New vocalist, Mos, sounds very confident and very at home on this track...and throughout the record...utilizing a slightly lower, more bluesy style than that of his predecessor, which works to great effect.  There are no rafter-scraping wails or ear-piercing screams here, but that was never the style of Silked And Stained anyway.  Mos' voice is definitely on full display right from the get-go, and I have no doubts that he will be able to handle the older material from the band as both singers are in that lower tenor range.  Still, even after just this one track, I find myself thinking I'm going to really enjoy what Mos brings to the band.  Before we wrap up, that "We All Die Young" riff returns as the song begins its closing run, and it become immediately apparent that Silked & Stained has not missed a beat here.

Next up is "Come Closer", which is one of the few tracks here that still really incorporates a true keyboard presence, and even then it is mostly limited to the track's intro and then as a supporting instrument in the chorus sections.  Probably the most commercial sounding track on the record, "Come Closer" has a definite 80s melodic hard rock feel to it, with big harmony vocals and a smooth guitar tone that hearkens back to so many of those great summer driving songs of my youth.  Again, Mos' voice fits the mood and tone of the track perfectly, and Galavas tears his way through a particularly tasty solo which blends flashes of speed with some soulful, melodic string-bending.  I'm not a huge fan of the hard fade close to the track, as I think a big, sweeping guitar outro would have served the song well, but this is a minor point made mostly as a fan of multiple guitar runs in any given song.  

The album's lead single, "Woman You're The Devil" is up next, and the band kicks things into another gear for this song.  Grittier, edgier than the polished "Come Closer", this is a prime example of what I think Silked And Stained does best.  As is the case with many English-as-a-second-language bands, the lyrics here are a bit muddled in places (read along with the lyrics video below and you will understand what I am talking about), but the gist of the track is easy to pick up on, and the lyrics certainly aren't distracting.  There is a strong bass presence in this track, and once again, the drum work from Lazz is top-notch.  But as is typical with Silked And Stained, it is the guitars of Galavas that really propel this hard rocking track to another level.  It's hard to give the guy too much credit, as I think he is one of the truly great guitar players that most people have not heard yet.  Make it a point to really focus on his skill as you give the following video a run through.

"Take Me" starts off with a big drum intro before some jangly guitar work from Galavas draws the song forward, leading into Mos' smoky, bluesy vocals on the first verse.  I love the groove of this track as it builds to its first chorus run, as the bass is given a definite voice here.   The chorus is a catchy, poppy sing along that I am betting will become a staple of the live show.  A burst of speed catches fire in Galavas solo before a final run through the chorus punctuates this quick rocker that just eclipses the three minute mark.  Short, sweet, and to the point, "Take Me" is an earworm for sure, and one that I find getting stuck in my brain pretty much every time I run through the record.

"Sweet People" changes things up considerably, and I have to be honest in saying that this is the track on the album that I had the most difficulty deciding how I felt about it.  In ways, it reminds me a lot of an 80s/early 90s U2 track, from the female backing vocals to the production style and the songwriting approach to the quasi-spiritual feel of the lyrics.  Despite my initial misgivings, I find myself liking the song quite a bit, and I will not be surprised if this track becomes a big hit with the band's female fan base, especially in the live setting.  It's a nearly perfect track to transition from a hard rocker to a ballad (or vice versa), and there isn't really anything to dislike about the song, even if it is a bit hard to categorize.  Galavas has a pretty cool guitar solo here, and this song is definitely square in the middle of Mos' wheelhouse, vocally.  You may have to give this song a few chances, but I think most people will admit, even if it is begrudgingly, that they like this song in one way or another...even if they can't put a finger on exactly why.

"Forevermore" is the first ballad of the record, and it is solid.  A piano is utilized throughout the track, giving it a nice 80s power ballad feel, complete with the big, sweeping guitar crecendo after the first verse and leading into the big, layered chorus.  There is a definite Kix "Don't Close Your Eyes" feel to the rhythm guitars and the tempo of the track, but it is certainly not a rip off.  The backing vocals are really nicely done here, and the guitar solo has that big MTV power ballad sound.  Mos is given the chance to really shine here and he doesn't disappoint as he delivers a powerful performance without drifting into the sappy, saccharine territory of so many "baby, please don't go" ballads of yesteryear.  While I don't find myself yearning for the power ballad the way I might have back in the day (I said MIGHT HAVE), when one is well done, it does a good job of breaking up the tempo of an album that is otherwise basically heavy mid-tempo to high-speed rock.  "Forevermore" is one such song.

"That Feeling" is one of the best songs on this record, as it does a good job of capturing the feel and flair of the best of 80s hard melodic rock, with the guitar tone and songwriting style reminiscent of early Dokken.  I'm not saying Galavas is Lynch, and Mos is not Don in his prime,  but they also don't pretend to be something they are not.  As such, Galavas and Mos both hold their own very nicely here, with the rhythm section also handling their duties perfectly, supporting the frantic flash of the guitar solo and the power of the lead vocals expertly.  This is a great song, and while I could do without the seemingly pointless "f*bomb" in the chorus, I think it is this type of song where Silked And Stained is at their best.  Good, good stuff here!

"No Way" is another up-tempo rocker...complete with a cowbell intro...that features some nice rhythm guitar work and solid drumming, but honestly, this is the first song I would point to as being "filler" material.  Mos' is a bit snarlier here than on the rest of the record, and it sounds a bit out of place.  The chorus is pretty simplistic, and I am instantly reminded of the way Klaus Mein would sometimes kind of drag out words in the chorus of a song, especially early in the Scorpions' career when he wasn't as comfortable with his English.  Galavas has another solid solo, but even that isn't enough to push this track past "good, but not noteworthy" status.  Definitely not something I would bother to hit the skip button for, but not something I'm likely going to hit repeat for, either.

I really wish the band would have gone straight from "That Feeling" right into "Locked & Loaded", as this is another example of some of the best songwriting and musicianship that Silked And Stained has put onto a record.  Again, a definite throwback to the glorious melodic hard rock of the mid-80s, this is another Dokken-esque track that finds itself in a fight with "That Feeling" and "How Many Miles To Heaven" for song of the album.  I really dig the hard rhythm guitars that intro the best Galavas solo on the record, and while the chorus is again fairly simple, it is simple in a way that is also nostalgic and very reminiscent of some big 80s rock gems.  There is also some nice bass soloing at the back end of the guitar solo as a moody, almost haunting vocal bridge propels the song back into the pre-chorus and chorus sections.  This is just a really good song know what?  I'm going to call it.  This is the best song on the record.  I really dig this track.

Rather than give in to the temptaiton to close things out with a ballad or some mid-tempo romp, Silked And Stained close out Goes Up To Eleven with a really good rocker with Mos' letting his vocals soar a bit in places on "Reach Out For The Sky".  Again, the "f*bomb" is dropped into the pre-chorus for no apparent reason (do Europeans throw that word around as casually as American rappers?), and the barked "REACH...FOR...THE...SKY!" sounds a bit forced...and, okay, I could have done without the brief Hammond sounding keyboard section after the guitar solo...but overall the song is a strong closer and leaves the listener with something pretty tasty rolling around in their head when the record ends.

If Goes Up To Eleven is an indication of where Silked And Stained is heading with their sound from now forward, I can guarantee I will be seeking out their albums for as long as they want to keep putting them out.  Showing a healthy respect for the great melodic hard rock of the past, but also being mindful of who they are and what they want to do going forward, Silked And Stained has made a fan of me with two consecutive really good records.  In the end, Goes Up To Eleven is a fine follow-up to the band's big debut, and in many ways it exceeds everything that was done before.  From improved songwriting to a bigger, fuller sound, to better production, Goes Up To Eleven is a nice step forward for a band that has to be considered one of the class acts of the new wave of melodic hard rock bands in Europe, and Galavas cements himself as one of the truly great...if under-recognized...guitar talents to cross my review desk in recent years.

Rating:  Definite crankage here!  Goes Up To Eleven goes up to 8.5 for me!

RAZORBATS "White Trash Radio" Single

(c) 2019 Rob Mules Records

1.  White Trash Radio

Paulie Vercouteren--Lead Vocals
Kjetil Wevling--Guitars
Asle Tangen--Guitars
Martin Hervig--Bass
Torris Illievski--Drums

Everybody's favorite Norwegian dirty rockers (well, at least MY favorite Norwegian dirty rockers), Razorbats, return with a new single, "White Trash Radio".  Following very much in the footsteps of the band's superb discography, "White Trash Radio" combines retro-rock elements from the 70s with doses of punk and sleaze to create some of my favorite music of the past decade.  Seriously.  I love what Razorbats do, and "White Trash Radio" is an excellent addition to their growing catalog.  

A classic rock guitar lick and a shrill whistly intro the song, with rapid fire drums building to the first verse.  This song is pure ear candy, with a catchy hook, some nice, fuzzy distortion on the rhythm guitars, and a stong, 70s-inspired guitar solo, complete with a cleaner-yet-still-powerful sound.  The production is perfect for the style, raw and edgy rather than the over-processed slickness of so much music today.  But for me, so much of the real magic of Razorbats is in the honest-and-humorous songwriting, and "White Trash Radio" is no exception.  The chorus is typical tongue-in-cheek humor from Razorbats.  The song, itself, is a reference to the fake front we put out on social media, showing ourselves as much better than the "white trash" that we know most of us are on the inside.  Following the humorous pre-chorus of "Fake it to the top!" Vercouteren sings on the chorus: 

"I don't know about you, But I'm White Trash, Are you White Trash, too?  
Just sing along if you're White Trash, I'm just like you!"

Lead singer Vercouteren continues to establish himself as the voice of the band, which was no small task for anyone who heard the band's first full-length release, Band Camp.  His lower-range vocals are spot-on throughout the song here, and I find myself actually preferring his approach to that of original vocalist, Even.  Vercouteren slips a bit of snarl into his vocals when necessary, but is easily understandable at all times, and he never sounds strained or off key.  While only Wevling remains from that first line-up, the band heard on "White Trash Radio" is my favorite incarnation of the group and 4 of the 5 have been working together since their sophomore release, IITorris Illievski is the new drummer for the band, filling the seat behind the kit in excellent fashion, showing off some nice double bass work in addition to the tight rhythms he drives throughout this track.  The twin guitars of Wevling and Tangen only get stronger with each release, and bassist Hervig, who even gets a few solo seconds to be heard coming out of the guitar solo, is rock-solid as ever.   

Blazing along with plenty of 90s pop-punk speed during the intro and chorus sections, and backing off slightly during the verses to give the vocals a chance to expand, "White Trash Radio" is sassy and cheeky, filled with a fun, in-your-face attitude that Razorbats seemingly have cornered the market on.  I am so looking forward to a new full release from these guys, and Wevling has told me that the band is working with more self-production  and engineering and that a new album is hopefully on the way soon.  Until then, enjoy the brand new video, which was released just today, October 25, and was produced by the band, with Wevling directing!  Fun, fun stuff!  

Rating:  I don't rate singles, per se, but I will tell you that if you have enjoyed what Razorbats have done in the past, there is absolutely nothing to not love here!  Track the new single down on their Soundcloud page.


No, Glitter2Gutter is not dead...we were just under water!  Less than 48 hours after my last review, my home town received about 3.5 inches of rain in a 45 minute period.  That, coupled with an unusually wet June and July, led to some fairly serious flooding, and I awoke to five and a half inches of water in my basement/man-cave, where my music collection and office were located.  I lost my computer, my sound system, and roughly 20-30% of my personal music collection, along with thousands of dollars worth of damage to carpeting, drywall, furniture, and other items. 

It was a mess...

Last weekend, I was able to finally get all of the flooring replaced, and the walls will be going back up shortly.  Hopefully, my office will be back to normal within a month or so, but until then, reviews and interviews will be very sporadic...BUT PLEASE KEEP CHECKING IN!  Honestly, I was surprised by the people who emailed me or messaged me to ask what had happened and why G2G was no longer updating, and not only readers, but several artists as well, which was cool.  It's nice to know that people enjoy what you do.

So...enough blathering about the past, as there is nothing I can do about it.  Just know that G2G is still around, and I will be working on getting things back to normal as soon as possible.

For artists and labels still looking to have their music (and books) reviewed, or to set up interviews, you can still contact me for information at:

Thanks for the well-wishes and concern! 

Rock on!