Check out my album reviews for issue 101 of Smash Magazine, including Emery, The Used, Asking Alexandria, and Dance Gavin Dance.
Emery – White Line Fever
As a band that’s been around for nearly twenty years, Emery has seen many of their early 2000s counterparts that sweated it out with them on the Warped Tour, Take Action Tour, and more, fade away. But not Emery. The Seattle based band has steadily been there all the while—making music, touring, and building up a digital network of fans and content. While it may not sound very rock and roll, their reliability in a scene where bands are known to take a hiatus or two is comforting, as is the way they are able to keep maturing their music while staying true to their sound. This makes their latest album, White Line Fever, nothing short of quintessential Emery. While only 11 tracks, White Line Fever runs the gamut from slow and somber, “Some of Us” and “Sad Season,” to fast and biting, “The Road Beneath My Feet,” and every Emery sound in between. Stand out tracks include “Now What” and the catchy multi-layered “The Noose.” Produced on their own label, BC Music, this Emery album is a great addition to their long-standing catalog.
The Used – Heartwork
As soon as The Used dropped the banger “Blow Me,” their first single featuring Jason Aalon Butler from Fever 333, off their upcoming album, fans were salivating for more. Four months later, they were blessed with the release of Heartwork, the band’s eighth studio album. Harkening back to earlier days, both in aesthetics and in sound, the sixteen track compilation swirls together emo, rock, pop, and a hint of experimentation to create a potent mix that starts and ends in bombastic fashion. The only thing that would have made this musical concoction more intoxicating would have been filtering out some of the saccharin, like “Clean Cut Heals” or “The Lighthouse,” so as not to water down the dark magic woven throughout. “Paradise Lost, a poem by John Milton” oozes energy, “Bloody Nose” makes you want to step into the ring, and “Darkness Bleeds, FOTF” might just cause you to push a little harder on the gas pedal. But perhaps best of all, the last minute or so of “To Feel Something” will unleash your inner emo as you scream right along with Bert McCracken, ‘I just want to feel something / anything is better than this.’ Solid A.
Asking Alexandria – Like a House on Fire
Like so many other bands that shift from metalcore or screamo to become more mainstream, there’s a little piece of a band’s rock and roll soul that dies with each radio-friendly release. That’s not to say that there aren’t songs worth your time on Asking Alexandria’s sixth studio album, Like a House on Fire, but it is an acknowledgment to those early AA fans that mourn the band that once was. A continuation of the evolution of their sound that began on their last self-titled album, it’s all singing now for the British rockers that once screamed just about everything. While some of these new songs are so generic they could just blend onto any hard rock playlist with little notice, “They Don’t Want What We Want (And They Don’t Care),” “Antisocialist,” and “All Due Respect,” are solid tracks that make you take notice. Overall, if you like a rock album you can play without a lot of skipping while you go about your business, Like a House on Fire is a good fit. The only song you may want to avoid is their attempt at a power ballad, “I Don’t Need You.” We really didn’t need that one.
Dance Gavin Dance – Afterburner
Some albums just hook you from the opening chord, and this is one of them. While not without the occasional musical curveball Dance Gavin Dance is known for, Afterburner is a solid thirteen blistering tracks from the progressive rockers that swings from dance your socks off to rock your face off mind trips. And every single one bares the explicit label. Starting out as light as DGD can and digressing into darker and heavier songs, Afterburner explores topics as heavy as the music, from being beat down by the world, the epic “Lyrics Don’t Lie,” to a seething “Born to Fail,” taunting ‘this is the song you wish you’d wrote / before you proved to the world you’re a fucking joke.’ Other tracks that beg to be played on repeat include “One in a Million” and “Strawberry’s Wake.” And this album’s curveballs: “Calentamiento Global” sung in Spanish, and closer “Into the Sunset” featuring rock band Bilmuri (ex-Attack! Attack! vocalist Johnny Franck’s solo project). Let’s hope this DGD lineup continues to hold it together as they seem to have found their groove.