Drowning Pool- “Saturday Night” Song Review

Ten years ago, Drowning Pool unexpectedly lost their original lead singer, Dave Williams, to heart failure.  Since Williams’s passing, the band has gone through a roulette of different vocalists over the course of three albums.

Now, following Ryan McCombs’s departure, the band has returned once again with new vocalist, Jason Moreno, and hopes to solidify a permanent line-up.  “Saturday Night,” a heavy, feel-good party anthem serves as the lead single off their upcoming, currently untitled fifth album.

The song’s lyrics aren’t exactly clever, but its arrangement masks this notion for the most part; surprisingly, despite legions of similar, contemporary bands, Drowning Pool’s signature style is still very easy to identify within seconds.  However, Moreno’s voice, though similar to McCombs’s at times, alters the band’s usual mudslide sound.  He sings with a rough, slithering draw that sounds like a fusion of Taproot and Rob Zombie.

“Saturday Night” barely compares to past Drowning Pool material, but it teases listeners with fresh potential.

Drowning Pool- “Saturday Night:” 2.5/5

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Wallflowers- “Glad All Over” Album Review

Too much of a good thing can occasionally turn into a bad thing; sometimes, it’s better to give things a break to renew interest.  Jakob Dylan knows this.  Dylan and his award-winning band, The Wallflowers, after impacting the charts with a plethora of successful singles and albums, took a much-needed break after 2005’s “Rebel Sweetheart.”

Now, seven years later, the Wallflowers have returned- and it almost seems like they never left.  “Glad All Over,” the band’s newest album, picks up right where “Rebel Sweetheart” left off.

“Hospital for Sinners” starts the album with an upbeat, gritty jam that shows off fresh energy.  “Misfits and Lovers” swoops right in behind with smooth, layered riffs that echo the brightest moments of “Three Marlenas” and “Bleeders.”  These two songs help set the uplifting mood of the album, which is effortlessly carried on by “First One in the Car” and the somber, piano-heavy ballad, “Love is a Country,” among others.  For the most part, the album holds up as full listening experience.

The Clash’s Mick Jones, an idol of Dylan’s, joins the band twice on the album; his guitar and vocal contributions blend surprisingly well with classic Wallflowers song structure- especially on “Reboot the Mission,” an inventive homage to Jones’s former band.

Dylan’s lyrics remain consistently great; they generate unique, emotional imagery that will be very hard to find anywhere else on most popular music charts.

Despite a tiny bit of dead space, “Glad All Over” is brilliant, progressive, and an absolute pleasure to listen to.

All in All:

Standout Tracks:  “Hospital for Sinners,” “Misfits and Lovers (ft. Mick Jones),” “First One in the Car,” “Reboot the Mission (ft. Mick Jones),” “Love is a Country,” “Constellation Blues”

The Wallflowers- “Glad All Over:” 4.5/5

Deftones- “Koi No Yokan” Album Review

Bands change, it’s almost inevitable.  Most artists tend to dabble in some form of stylistic experimentation, but the Deftones hold up as one of the most consistent in the business.

Rather than exploring new horizons, “Koi No Yokan,” celebrates all of Deftones’ old tricks; but that’s exactly what everyone wants.

The new album, which is Deftones’ second to not include bassist, Chi Cheng, finds the band in a much more relaxed state of mind.  2009’s “Diamond Eyes,” seemed to indicate a much needed release of emotion that bled with subtle themes of rising above. “Koi No Yokan’s” material is just as passionate and provocative, but revives the stripped down, garage-style snarls that initially helped defined the band’s sound.

“Swerve City” quickly makes this evident with an intro that plays like repeated right hooks to the face.  “Leathers,” “Poltergiest,” and “Tempest” all showcase “Around the Fur” style grandeur with buzzing, neck-breaking verses and soothing, hook-driven choruses.   Most of the album’s tracks shine through their sheer ferocity, but there are several entwined reminders of Deftones’ unique beauty and control; “Entombed,” for example, is mesmerizing.

The craftsmanship displayed on “Koi No Yokan” is simply unparalleled; every single space on the album is filled with fine-tuned detail that commands undivided attention.

All in all:

Standout Tracks:  “Swerve City,” “Leathers,” “Tempest,” “Poltergeist,” “Rosemary,” “Entombed,”

Deftones- “Koi No Yokan:” 5/5

Soundgarden- “King Animal” Album Review

Last August, the Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan publicly cut down Soundgarden- accusing the band of reforming “only to make money.”  He went on to dismiss the band’s recent reunion tour as “one more round at the till.”

Somewhere in the world, Corgan must be kicking himself.

True, as “Been Away Too Long’s” title implies, Soundgarden has been out of the spotlight for quite some time now.  However, after several side projects, rumors, and teaser tours and singles, the band has finally released “King Animal-” its first new album in 16 years- and it’s very clear that the break has not weathered them one bit.

On “King Animal,” Chris Cornell and the gang have returned to form in every sense of the phrase- drawing out the best qualities of each of their past albums, molding them together, and sprinkling some impressive new dynamics and production value atop the final product.

“Non-State Actor,” “Bones of Birds,” and “Blood on the Valley Floor,” among others, include some of the most ferocious, inventive riffs and shreds of the band’s career.  Meanwhile, Cornell quickly re-establishes himself as one of the best rock vocalists of all time; there is never a time where his vocals don’t impress.

This is the kind of album that makes veterans of the grunge era smile from ear to ear; this is the kind of reunited effort that should stand as an example for any disbanded act looking to follow suit.

“King Animal” is stellar.

All in All:

Standout Tracks:  “Black Saturday,” “Bones of Birds,” “Taree,” “Non-State Actor,” “By Crooked Steps,” “Blood on the Valley Floor,” “Rowing”

Soundgarden- “King Animal:” 5/5