Tag Archives: a perfect circle

EP Review: The Host – Transmit

Artist: The Host
EP: Transmit
Label: Self Released

Hailing from Cincinati, Ohio, The Host are another example of what makes the internet such a great resource for music you might never hear. Considering I’d never heard of them, you can imagine my scepticism when an email popped up in my inbox, informing me matter of factly that “The Host will rock your world!”. Already put off, I opened the email up to find MP3’s from the band’s double EP effort, Transmit and Receive. The proof is in the pudding however, and I was genuinely impressed when I got round to giving the band a proper listen. Continue reading EP Review: The Host – Transmit


Album Review: Black Light Burns – Cruel Melody

Black Light Burns - Cruel Melody[This review coincides with the re-release of ‘Cruel Melody’, which has an extra DVD tacked on it for your viewing, and their promotional, pleasure. It’s released on 23rd June.]

It must be difficult making the decision of going it alone in the music business. After spending years of his life with Limp Bizkit, selling over 30 million records and becoming generally known as that guy with the weird face, Wes Borland had to face a brave decision when he left the rapidly sinking ship that was Limp Bizkit. He turned his back on the easy money, he turned his back on being instantly recognisable, and he turned his back on the commercial success of nu-metal. Now, with a supporting cast that includes Josh Freese from A Perfect Circle and Danny Lohner of Nine Inch Nails, Borland is ready to start steering his own ship. But has anything really changed?

Opening track ‘Mesopotamia’ (I assume a word that scientists are set to use for a futuristic potato-related disease) gets things off to a good start, grinding along with a fair drive that sounds a fair bit like ‘Hotride’ by the Prodigy. It’s got a groove, and Borland’s vocals are surprisingly good, sounding a little bit like Josh Homme.

Unfortunately the quality of Borland’s voice never really remains consistent. At times he sounds great, taking strong cues from the likes of Trent Reznor, notably in ‘Animal’, but on some tracks his voice is just dire – ‘Coward’ is a pretty painful example, with some terribly drawn-out lyrics, sung in the kind of nasal tone you’d expect to hear from a school band. Perhaps he’s just trying different things out, experimenting with a whole new range of instrumentation, and he just needs to find that balance because there are moments on ‘Cruel Melody’ where his voice is genuinely impressive.

Wes Borland

Borland still retains his love for the theatrical, with dark costumes cropping up in press photos.

Although Wes Borland is the name on the solo project, it is more than clear what the other members of the group have brought to the table. Some tracks, such as ‘Animal’ share more than a few resemblances to the industrial sound of Nine Inch Nails, thanks to Lohner’s influence, and Freese’s drumming remains borderline experimental. Unfortunately he does let the side down with some jarring drum fills and speed changes that either do not fit into the songs or just sound sloppy.

There is no doubt here that Borland has shunned his nu-metal roots. Although there are certain points where there are hints of the disposable Limp Bizkit sound coming through, such as the high pitched guitar tweaks on ‘The Mark’ and the detuned riff of ‘One of Yours’ that wouldn’t have been out of place on ‘Three Dollar Bill Y’all’. But for the most part Borland does explore new ideas and territory, and proves himself as a more talented guitar player than a lot of people give him credit for.

Cruel Melody is a fairly good album. It’s never going to be taxing on the brain, and the lyrical content is for the most part, laughable, but Borland has taken this opportunity to spread his wings somewhat and shrug off the reliance on big, catchy riffs. But the name of Limp Bizkit and those of its members are, unsurprisingly, dirt in the majority of music circles, and I think Borland is going to have a hard time reaching out to an audience that can overlook his past, a problem that is exacerbated by putting the name Limp Bizkit on the front cover.

The video for ‘Lie’.

It’s not a bad album, and actually has some intriguing ideas, but there is a lot here that can either be expanded upon or improved drastically. Quality control is just one thing, as towards the end of the album things really begin to drag out. To those who are intrigued, but are put off by Borland’s past I strongly suggest giving it a try as it does showcase a new side to the guitarist, and brings out some of his, and his fellow member’s, worthy talent.

This review is also published over at Sonic Dice.

Review: ASHES dIVIDE – Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright

Perhaps most known for his work with Maynard James Keenan of Tool fame in poppy proggy combination band ‘A Perfect Circle’, Billy Howerdel has decided to jump the shark and take on a solo project of his own, maybe inspired by his friend Maynard’s recent foray into the world of solo musicianship, Puscifer.

First things first – ASHES dIVIDE is a terrible name for a project, and is made even worse when you decide to go against the rules of grammar and spell it with extreme capital letters. Add to this the fact that the album title, ‘Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright’ sounds like My Chemical Romance’s next release and the warning bells are immediately ringing louder than a fire alarm in Camden.

One thing is for sure – Howerdel really was the creative force of A Perfect Circle. Each song has that same almost ethereal atmosphere that APC managed to pull off on their two original albums (let’s not talk about that abhorrent cover album – as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t exist) with a labyrinth of meddling guitars and simple drumming that, despite being pretty quiet, manages to pierce through the soundscapes like a hoard of stampeding goats. That’s assuming that goats do stampede.

What is even more interesting to hear is Howerdel’s singing. Despite being looked upon as a guitarist, he does a bloody good job of carrying some interesting and haunting melodies with his voice, without falling into the trap of sounding too whingy or too quiet. He doesn’t quite have the same vocal ability as Maynard, but it came as a pleasant surprise to hear him sing, to the point where I almost took a double take thinking Maynard might have slipped in a cheeky guest appearance.

Despite being a ‘solo’ album, Howerdel also enlists the help of some other musicians, including Maynards son Devo playing the cello.

The first single off the album, ‘The Stone’ is the closest thing to that APC sound that Howerdel can’t seem to completely escape from. It’s rocky, there’s a little guitar solo thrown in and a hypnotic chorus that stands out from the airy vocals used throughout the verses and it all eventually builds to a repeated crescendo which see’s the song end in a rather cliché guitar riff and drum bangs. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it was probably the justification for the sheer unoriginality in this track.

The album itself breezes past you in a flurry of four to five minute songs that successfully becomes blander than a white wall. At least with APC you had a mix of heavy and light tracks to keep you aware that you were listening to an album and not the sound of a light breeze. Furthermore, closer track ‘Sword’ does one of the few things that completely infuriates me. During the previous ten tracks things have been fast and digestiable, which is absolutely fine. But, Howerdel, like the majority of rock bands these days, has seemingly tacked on a longer song with a piano for the sake of closing on an epic. It’s just such a tired idea that only seems to suggest that he himself found the sound of the album all a bit dull, and decided to change things for the finale so as to avoid any bitter tastes left in the listener’s ears.

Howerdel has proven here that he is a very talented musician. He played pretty much everything which is no mean feat, but listening to the album just makes it all sound like a poor man’s A Perfect Circle, and even they were a poor man’s Tool. It’s bland, and gets a little bit boring towards the end, only really livened up by a couple of select tracks near the end. Of all the emotions I’m left feeling, it’s one of disappointment – I feel Howerdel can do much better than this, if he just moved away from the sound of his previous work. Perhaps even, dare I say it, take a risk.