Iron Mask's sophomore release is an absolute monster of neoclassical power metal. There's plenty of aggression, technical riffing, strong vocal performances, and variety to keep even the most ADD of tastes satisfied…
Patience has become a prerequisite quality in Breeders fans. Since the Deal twins’ 1993-classic ‘Last Splash’, their shortest break between albums has been six years, and this fifth instalment now arrives a decade on from its predecessor ‘Mountain Battles’. In terms of prolificacy, The Fall they’re not, even if the Dayton, Ohio, outfit could once have rivalled Mark E. Smith’s project for internal dramas and revolving line-ups.
The Gossip close Music for Men with a song called "Spare Me from the Mold," but Beth Ditto, Nathan Paine, and Hannah Billie could never be accused of conforming. They were still a relatively underground group when Standing in the Way of Control's passionate mix of punk, soul, and disco became their breakthrough – and they sounded so confident on it, it felt like the mainstream was coming to them rather than vice versa. They've got their own piece of the pop (and pop culture) mainstream now, and Music for Men feels aboveground in the best possible way. Befitting its major-label debut, this is the band's most polished music yet, a balance of Control's ferocity and the sleek remixes of the album's singles, but it's still not slick. Most of Music for Men finds The Gossip sticking to their roots and using their success to get their messages out to as many people as possible. These songs are just as empowering as their earlier work, though they're more subtly defiant.
Those who liked the moodier, more atmospheric material on the last Mark Lanegan Band offering, 2004's Bubblegum, will find much to enjoy on Blues Funeral – an album that has little to do with blues as a musical form. Lanegan has been a busy man since Bubblegum. In the nearly eight ensuing years, he's issued three records with Isobel Campbell, joined Greg Dulli in the Gutter Twins, guested on albums by the Twilight Singers and UNKLE, and was the lead vocalist on most of the last two Soulsavers offerings. Produced by Eleven guitarist Alain Johannes (who also fulfills that role here as well as playing bass, keyboards, and percussion), Blues Funeral finds Lanegan in a musically ambitious place. His voice is deeper, smokier, but more restrained, even on the few straight-up rockers. The grain in his voice is more pronounced, offering a sense of coiled menace on each track, one that is ready at all points to explode the musical confines these songs erect, and to overwhelm them all. To his credit, he never does. While the album is sequenced seamlessly, with varying textures and dynamics, there are standouts.