Song Review: Pearl Jam- “Mind Your Manners”

When it comes to keeping things fresh and unexpected, Pearl Jam stand as experts.  The band has one of the most versatile catalogs of any band rooted in the Seattle grunge scene- ranging from the all-out furious (“Do the Evolution,” “Why Go”), to the beautifully melodic (“Just Breathe,” “Light Years”), to the emotionally powerful (“Black,” “Come Back.”)

Now, in wake of 2009’s smoothly-produced masterpiece, “Backspacer,” the band has called yet another audible- they have recorded a punk rock song.

Well…okay, “Mind Your Manners,” the band’s latest single, isn’t COMPLETELY a punk rock song, but it might as well be.  It’s fast, to the point, and plays like a backhand to the face.  Think “Spin the Black Circle” with a touch of Black Flag.

The song is like a 3 minute joyride in a hot-wired war vehicle – kicking into high gear with sputtering guitars and never stopping for air.

“Mind Your Manners” makes it clear that anything can happen on the forthcoming “Lightning Bolt.” Major Pearl Jam fans will immediately love the song.  Casual listeners might be a little confused at first, but will slowly conform to the track’s appeal.

Pearl Jam- “Mind Your Manners:”  4.5/5

Listen to “Mind Your Manners” Here:

Song Review: Avenged Sevenfold- “Hail to the King”

Avenged Sevenfold arguably has one of the most loyal and passionate fanbases of any modern heavy metal band.  So naturally, there should be a reasonable level of elation from deathbat worshipers everywhere in response to the band’s newest single, “Hail to the King.”

The song- hot off the presses as of two hours ago- is like a three-way hybrid of Iron Maiden, Guns N’ Roses, and Metallica.  It includes much of what one would expect from a standard A7X tune:  and a gravely M. Shadows vocal performance, a powerful rhythmic backdrop from Johnny Christ and Zacky Vengance, and a collection of Synyster Gates lead riffs that will hurt the fingers of the guitar-illiterate.  The only notable deviation from the band’s  typical metalcore/classic metal formula is the contributions of Arin Ilejay (who replaced the late James “The Rev” Sullivan earlier this year).  Ilejay pounds away at his kit and makes it clear that he is a solid replacement for a nearly irreplaceable musician. 

“Hail to the King” packs a punch, but not a wallop.  It lacks the overtly-dominate hooks and stand-out guitar riffs displayed on older songs like “Beast and the Harlot” and “Nightmare,” but it still gives listeners a strong sampling of the upcoming album’s potential.

Avenged Sevenfold- “Hail to the King:” 3.5/5

Listen to “Hail to the King” here:

Song Review: Nine Inch Nails- “Came Back Haunted”

Lately, Trent Reznor has been up to a lot of different things:  strengthening his career as a composer by scoring the very successful “The Social Network” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” forming the side project, How to Destroy Angels, contributing to Dave Grohl’s “Sound City” project, and even winning an Academy Award.

But Reznor’s musical claim to fame, Nine Inch Nails, has remained untouched since 2008’s “The Slip.”

Not anymore.

Nine Inch Nails have returned with “Came Back Haunted,” the first single off the forthcoming and newly announced “Hesitation Marks” (or “HALO 28”).

The song- a partial hybrid of “Pretty Hate Machine” and “Year Zero-” buzzes with twisting synth beats and is driven by a creeping undertone. Reznor’s voice is, for lack of a better word, haunting and eerily calm in melody.  A churning guitar breakdown echoes “The Downward Spiral” and tops the song off in a powerful way.

It’s clear that Reznor’s success in his other musical endeavors has maximized his confidence and ambition as an artist.  He has poured this newfound creative energy into Nine Inch Nails in a very logical manner.  The result is a song that respects the past, but is not afraid to take a big experimental step into the unknown.

“Came Back Haunted” is no “Head Like a Hole,” but it’s pretty close.

Nine Inch Nails- “Came Back Haunted:” 4.5/5

Listen to “Came Back Haunted” here:

Song Review: Killswitch Engage- “In Due Time”

When it comes to modern metalcore, almost every band comes off as a cookie-cutter when compared to Killswitch Engage; the band brings unique fury and melody to an otherwise limited genre.

Back with their original lead singer, Jesse Leech, the band wastes no time re-affirming their reputation on “In Due Time,” the lead single off the forthcoming, “Disarm the Descent.”

Leech’s screamed verses are brutal and quickly command complete attention atop a monster dual guitar riff, which is ridden into one of the catchiest choruses the band has ever produced.

“In Due Time” shows off Killswitch Engage’s potential with Leech back at the spearhead.  For what it is supposed to be, the song is impressive.

Killswitch Engage- “In Due time:” 4/5