Beautiful Crutch – Album Review

American alternative rock band Dommin released their third studio album Beautiful Crutch last year and, with the promise of a darker yet more hopeful vibe after their somewhat downbeat previous efforts Rise and Love Is Gone, this looked like possibly the start of a new era for the goth/new wave metal group.

The first track, “Desire”, opens with a screech before settling into softer, melodic verses and occasionally building up to the rockier chorus. There’s a very good guitar hook keeping the song balanced throughout and a short but effective solo near the end. The vocals by lead singer Kristofer Dommin are passionate and bring a welcome edge to the song. “Show Me” is the first killer track of the album with its faster pace, its bluesier tone and its ridiculously catchy chorus. This is definitely one to open concerts with as it’s instantly recognizable and kicks butt no matter how picky you are with your music.

“The Scene” is next and it’s a solid, reflective, dramatic song with a stuttering rhythm, an emotional chorus and some clever breaks here and there. It’s also very catchy and another very concert-friendly tune for sure. It is followed by “This World”, which instantly evokes The Smiths with its darker lyrics and the Morrissey-esque vocals. It’s still very much a Dommin song, however, as it’s certainly heavier than anything the aforementioned artists ever did.

Then we have the title track “Beautiful Crutch”, a slow-burn where the vocals and the lyrics initially take centre stage before the rest of the song finally unveils itself through an evolving melody that gets catchier and catchier as it goes on. It’s certainly worthy of being the title track. “I Die” is a softer, darker and rather beautiful song about loneliness, loss and longing with a rockier chorus and a short but sweet guitar solo halfway through.

Song number 7 is “Vulnerable”, which opens with a faster beat and a melody slightly reminiscent of Blondie‘s “Call Me” but with a significantly moodier, more emotional vibe. The song somehow gets more hopeful and upbeat as it goes on so its constant evolution plus the catchy chorus make it never dull. Then comes “The Flame” and, right off the bat, this is a completely different animal altogether. With its violins playfully marking the rhythm and its musical-style vocals, this is an experimental track which tries something rather unique by mixing a couple of very different genres, similarly to how Muse went in a different, glammier direction with The Resistance.

It’s still a rock song, though, so don’t expect it to be so different you’ll be thrown.

“Madly” is another fun track. This one banks on its catchy, upbeat chorus but its real strength is the melody that permeates the verses. This is definitely one of the most commercial songs on the album but its radio-friendly nature is never off-putting. “The Saddest Dream” has a slow yet compelling build-up with an electro heartbeat marking the rhythm. You keep expecting it to suddenly rock out but it teases you until much later than you’d expect and it’s altogether a surprisingly epic track which should play really well at concerts, even an extended version with added solos and breaks. “Madly” takes its sweet time and is all the better for it.

Finally, we have “Outer Space” and it feels like the end track from the first minute with its airy, upbeat tone. This is basically a soul track with a bluesy tint which might not please fans of Dommin’s moodier, edgier stuff but after an album this strong, it’s certainly earned its final flight of fancy plus the vocals are top notch from start to finish and the proudly 80’s feel is enjoyably nostalgic.

There’s very little wrong with this new Dommin album: the songs are all well written, the vocal work from Kristofer Dommin is versatile and would even make Scott Stapp jealous at times, the whole thing is paced perfectly and the music itself is really good: you can tell there are genuinely talented musicians behind every track so Konstantine (keyboards), with the help of Cameron Morris (drums) and Billy James (bass) knock it out of the park. There are enough trademark motifs in the album to please the band’s long-time fans but also enough fresh ideas to bring in a new audience so I certainly recommend you try this album whether you think you’ll like it or not because, chances are, you will.

Beautiful Crutch is a very cool album which gets 4 Ziggies out of 5 from us and one hopes to see Dommin get bigger and bigger because they deserve it.

You can find out more about Dommin on Soundcloud and their Youtube Channel.

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Supermassive Black Hole – Song Of The Day

Muse

With the release of Muse‘s latest album Drones due for today, I thought I’d check out one of their tour-de-force Black Holes And Revelations‘ best tracks. “Supermassive Black Hole” was the lead single from the album and, armed with a exceptionally bizarre video, it soon became the band’s most successful track. The song itself is funkier, with a dancier beat and it kick-started the idea of Muse trying very different things with every song, something they are still excelling at to this day.

Gimme Chocolate!! – Song Of The Day

Babymetal

Babymetal is no ordinary metal band, that’s for sure. For one thing, its three singers are under 18, and the music is kind of a weird mix between heavy metal and teen-friendly J-pop. “Gimme Chocolate!!” is the third song from the band’s first self-titled album and while it is a genuinely pretty awesome song, one has to watch the live performance to really get the full experience. Expect flashing lights, loads of red, bizarre lyrics, unexpectedly upbeat choruses and some of the best dance choreography EVER.

Ready?

Ok then.

The Rasmus – Album Review

Rasmus

Although in the UK and the US, Finnish alternative (read: emo) rock band The Rasmus are mostly known for a couple of tracks, they’ve been working since 1996 and are, in fact, a big hit in Europe and back home.

The band’s latest album, 2012’s self-titled effort The Rasmus, is their eighth and marks their first album produced by Universal. Which, I guess, is why they decided to name this one after themselves, to mark the occasion in some way.

The Rasmus is the kind of band you know right away whether you like them or not. They’re hardly for everyone: far too soft for true rock fans, they instead constantly walk a fine line between goth pop and emo rock, a type of music that’s particularly popular in Finland but tends to do relatively well pretty much everywhere. With this recent album, they introduced an electronic element into their now familiar style.

Did it work?

Well, if the album’s first song is anything to go by, not really.

“Stranger” was the second single to be released from The Rasmus and that’s really surprising since it’s, by far, one of the weakest songs on the album. It’s soppy, corny and the new electro sound just makes the whole thing sound like generic fast-food pop fare. It’s a really light track to kick things off with and doesn’t promise much.

The second song (and first single), “I’m A Mess”, is also very poppy but, at the very least, its chorus is undeniably catchy. It’s one of those ear-worms you wish wasn’t stuck in your head, though. And, with lyrics like “I forgot your birthday/I’m dressed in rags.”, this is hardly setting up to be a hardcore album at all. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Actually, the album is a bit of a pain to get through until the fifth song, “Someone’s Gonna Light You Up”, which is easily the best track on the entire album. It opens promisingly with an explosive burst of energy then delivers a rockier, heavier sound which is refreshingly reminiscent of the band’s earlier, better stuff. This heavier, cleaner sound feels like the right direction for the band to take but, alas, it’s one of the only songs on the album to go for that.

A fun, cool tune.

Instead of more of that, though, we’re made to listen through the likes of “It’s Your Night”, another poppy tune with an annoyingly catchy chorus. The beat in this one really gives off a weird boy band vibe, The Rasmus sounding less like The Rasmus here and more like The Backstreet Boys, with added whiny emo lyrics: “It’s a cruel, cruel world…”.

Urgh…

Take all the echoes out of that track, by the way, and it’s about a minute long.

The fourth song, “Save Me Once Again”, is, thankfully, a little better. It’s a slower love song with a welcome 80’s feel to it and an overall Muse-esque vibe. It’s cheesy, don’t get me wrong, but its melody is nice and its lyrics are bittersweet enough to work. Song number 6 is slow burn “End Of The Story”, another boy-band-like track. It’s slightly better than “It’s Your Night”, however, in that its melody and chorus aren’t actually too bad but it crumbles when you realise how repetitive it is. This one just won’t grab you.

“You Don’t See Me” is not bad, mostly thanks to its rockier start, its occasional pretty good parts and cool breaks. It’s not too memorable, unfortunately, but it’s entertaining and harmless enough. It’s followed by “Somewhere”, a light pop song which opens acoustically then devolves into an Avril Lavigne-type tune the minute the drums kick in. It’s a soapy, dull effort which, criminally, is over five minutes long. Good luck with that one…

Alright, two songs to go.

The Rasmus could still surprise us and save this album from a below-par rating.

Song number 9, the stupidly titled “Friends Don’t Do Like That”, has an OK melody but no real hook or chorus. It’s entertaining enough but pretty forgettable. Finally, the last song, which is simply called “Sky”, opens soft, gives us a decent build-up, then develops into something of a power ballad. Minus most of the power needed. Sadly, decent enough chorus-aside, this is another average track which should have tapped more into its darker side and delivered much more in order to truly stand out. As it stands, it’s not bad, but it’s nowhere near good enough to end this album on the high note it sorely needed.

That The Rasmus chose to name this particular album after themselves is a real shame seeing as it’s definitely one of their biggest misfires. Sure, there’s a couple of fair enough tracks on here, one of which is genuinely quite good, but it’s mostly a missed opportunity: the new electronic sound bogging down the whole album into commercial pop territory, never allowing the band to rock out or sound like themselves. I recommend going back to their three preceding albums and skipping this one altogether, frankly.

The Rasmus narrowly escape the dreaded 1 star rating this time thanks to a couple of worthy-enough tracks but they still end up with only 2 Happy goths.

Oh well…

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