Album Review: Kylie Minogue ‘GOLDEN’

 

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Golden is the latest release from the Eternal Princess of Pop, Kylie Minouge and  is Kylie’s first studio album in four years, and her fourteenth studio album in a record breaking career. The album was mainly recorded in Nashville, which was a first for Kylie- and the country influence sure has its impact on this album.

Opening with the catchy lead single “Dancing” the album starts off promising
to be another high- octane dance album from Kylie. However, the influence of recording in Nashville for the first time seems to have had quite an impact and as the album progresses, there is a distinct country feel.

“Shelby ‘68” and slow starter “Radio On” are where the Nashville influence comes out the strongest, the latter being a slower ballad in the style of Faith Hill and is a refreshing change of pace.

Having recently split from her fiancée it would have been easy for Kylie to make an album of regret- drenched clichéd love ballads, lamenting the loss. But, for anyone that has followed her career and personal life over the years, that kind of album would not be her style. In this album she shows that she is the kind of Queen that picks herself up, straightens her crown and just gets on with it.

Even with “One Last Kiss” she isn’t angry – just a little wistful about the past and it’s a positive spin on heartbreak. She laments that there isn’t much she can do, but to just keep going. It’s a classy way to say goodbye to old love and shows a mature Kylie. Its admirable that she hasn’t recorded an album full of anger and regret unlike many of her contemporaries. With the slower “Music is too sad without you” she still has the ability to make love seem like a beautiful lesson, teaming up with Jack Savoretti for the beautiful ballad.

Lead single “Dancing” is sure to become the summer hit for the clubs in Ibiza, anthemic in its production and ever so catchy. Its signature Kylie, full of pep and catchy hooks to make you want to do what the title suggest- dance. Not to be overlooked, the equally fun “Raining Glitter” is another to make shake your hips, when the beat drops.

The album overall is a lot of fun with a mix of high octane dance hits and slower reflective numbers, and it has a lot of heart. Hats off to Kylie for making an album that celebrates life and love, for picking herself up and straightening her crown and doing so with grace and dignity.

Words by Amanda Lee Starkey

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Album Review: Shiva and the Hazards ‘future cult classics’

 

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Shiva and the Hazards ‘future cult classics’

How hard is it to make a diverse record that still sounds coherent as a whole?

It’s a struggle many bands fail to master.

Shiva and the Hazards from Melbourne are none of them. With their debut EP Future Cult Classics, Shiva and the Hazards managed to create a great multifaceted record including four completely different songs that still come down to a certain corporate sound. And the title won’t fail to keep its word.

The EP opens with their lead single East India Empress whose funky intro riff is evocative of the Cornershops song Brimful of Asha. East India Empress has certainly psychedelic qualities which reminds on early Pink Floyd or Tame Impala and switches between bemused verses, heavy choruses and strong chord progressions in between. Shiva and the Hazards created here a catchy banger which doesn’t seem get boring anytime soon. Thanks to a couple of dynamical shifts and a complex but not overly intellectual song structure East India Empress won’t fail to impress with great variety.

False Prophets, by contrast, is more of a blues rock song which focuses on a smashing acoustic guitar throughout the song. On Queen without a King Shiva and the Hazards stick to the acoustic guitar and came up with a entirely acoustic song. The cozy and dreamy guitar picking gives you a slight Brit pop feeling which makes you think of when Sticky Fingers were covering DMA’s Delete. Compared to the first to songs singer Doug explores a different scope, singing way smoother.

The EP finally finishes with My Dear Mary Anne, a hypnotic Shoegaze/Dreampop tune with a static Drum’n’Bass drumbeat. With this last song Shiva and the Hazards wander on the path of Sleep Party People and The Naked And Famous.

Shiva and the Hazards show on their debut EP that they’re able to operate on a wide scale across different genres without making it sound any weird, but very natural. All in all they created here a psychedelic and dreamy masterpiece which keeps you even more excited the more you listen to it. It’s definitely a record that will rotate on the music device of your choice for quite a bit!

Like they said… Future Cult Classics.

Words by Tim Fischer

Album Review: MC WHEELS ‘THE DARKSIDE OF HAPPINESS’

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Brisbane is home to many a good musician, with a scene that is well developed. Its on the streets of Brisbane that Hip Hop artist MC Wheels experiences his life, putting his voice behind ‘ Dark side of Happiness’

The album opens with ‘ Been Awhile’ to remind listeners that the MC is back behind the mic and ready to go. It starts the album off with pomp and a killer horn section to announce his arrival. He’s back and ready to let you know his passion and fire are back with a vengeance.

With the track ‘ Love Story’ we see a softer side to the rapper, a love song of sorts and an ode to a beautiful girl. Its the only time on the album he visits the theme of love and he does it with fun and honesty.

In ‘ Letter from Heaven’ he raps about the difficult topic of bullying and depression. Its a candid view into the soul of a man whose faced pain and troubles. He opens up with brutal honesty about the dark effects that bullying had on his soul, the sorrow palpable.

‘ Negative Thoughts’ carries on with the dark theme, the opening drum beat ominous and dark in its tone. These are darker themes, however when listening one feels as though these are confessions from a young man with the weight of the world on his shoulders, yet with the creative outlet that is music he is able to express himself so poininatly.

The overall themes of the album are darker and reflective in their nature, and with ‘ The Real World’ MC Wheels reflects on the harm we inflict on each other and the pain we cause. He laments about how the human species is wiping ourselves out. The lyrics are thoughtful, provoking and evocative, showing he is clearly a deep thinker.

When MC Wheels puts pen to paper he writes about issues that matter to him. Whether its his personal pain and struggles or the softer topic of love he articulates his views on life through his music. He doesn’t posture about bitches and money, like other hip hop artists tend to do, instead he keeps it real and relevant. His music is enjoyable, yet attainable and he’s not pretending to be someone he’s not. He’s a young man on the streets of Brisbane, living life the best he can and that is what comes across in his music. The authenticity is refreshing and real.

Its his authenticity is what makes this album so brilliant. Its relevant and idenifiable whilst managing to retain credibiltiy. Whilst some hip hop artists might not have made the change to more modern Australian hip hop, MC Wheels proves that you can write about what you connect with and do a darn good job of it.

This is hip hop how it should be.

 

Words by Amanda Lee Starkey

ALBUM REVIEW : NEVERMEANT “true angst has always been true home” EP

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NEVERMEANT
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Remember Emo? And I don’t mean all those kids with black dyed hair and drainpipe jeans walking around in checkerboard Vans Slip-On in the early 2000s. When Nevermeant are claiming to make emo great again they’re talking about the its more edgy 90’s roots. They’re talking about unbalanced guitars and vocals. They’re talking about Sunny Day Real Estate and American Football.

Clearly influenced from the latter (they named themselves after American Football’s most known song) the German four-piece kicks off their debut EP with a very smooth and melancholy AF-ish intro for their song Books In My Bed. Abrupt distortion guitars lead into a calm verse building
itself gradually up until the anthemic chorus kicks in with lead singer Chris shouting out the EPs title: True Angst Has Always Been True Home.

Throughout the EP Nevermeant are trying to move between quiet, more playful and loud, uptempo passages which allows them do explore more complex song structures. Sunday combines the best of this two worlds by playing with almost stubborn chord progressions complemented with smart guitar licks throughout the whole song which award the song the certain something.
Thematically the EP screams out the fear of being left. Vocally the songs unfortunately won’t quitlive up to the mood created by lyrics and sound. At a couple of moments the vocals feel just too slick and you miss a certain level of imbalance. This strikes especially during the loud choruses when the refrains are being shout out, not completely convincing. But even this won’t harm ones general view on this ambitious debut release with which Nevermeant wander on the trail of classic Emo.
Make sure to do your ears a favor and listen to True Angst Has Always Been True Home.

Words by Tim Fischer

For your eyes you should also check out the video for their song Winterblues:

Album Review: “You’re Not Alone” – Andrew W.K.

 

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If you’re a big fan of Andrew W.K., well you’re in luck because he just brought out another album that may literally help you get through all of those troubles that built up while waiting six whole years for more music from him. If you’re not a fan, well, join the bandwagon my friend, because you’re in for one hell of an emotional roller coaster ride.

His new album, “You’re Not Alone”, released on March 2nd is a compilation of intense musical and theatrical productions with feel-good titles and self-help lyrics that make you feel annoyed and patronized at the same time. The first song of the album, “The Power of Partying” sounds like you’ve just entered a 90s video game that you may never be allowed to leave. It’s completely instrumental, filled to the brim with dramatic trills and crescendos against a brass band and then of course, an epic electric guitar solo accompanied by tom-tom crashes. If the album’s cover art doesn’t spell out for you, this album is a little over the top.

Andrew W.K was well known back in the day for his immense amount of talent, being a multi-instrumentalist, and just being a seriously cool musician. “You’re Not Alone” is his first album release since 2012, and although he may be talented, it just reeks of too much time and too much money.

“Music is Worth Living For” is the second track on the album. The lyrics are triumphant and poetic, and the electric guitar is wild as he shreds alongside gospel harmonies and chanted choruses that scream “music is worth living for” many times. Although, that comment should maybe be a little more subjective next time. Not to be fooled as the most over the top track of the album, fifth track of the album, “The Feeling of Being Alive” is a spoken monologue to help guide you through your fears in life. The track is baffling and just adds to the severely thematically disjointed essence of the album.

“Party Mindset” provides us with Pac-Man beeps, pop-drenched piano chords as W.K continues to wow us with his electric guitar riffs. It’s a turnaround, emotionally and ends in another tremendous guitar solo. The album is lengthy, continuing on with more uplifting titles such as “The Devil’s on Your Side” and “Total Freedom”, and it ends with title track, “You’re Not Alone”.  It’s huge, to say the least. It’s empowering and makes you feel like you’ve finally come to an end, until W.K. screams to you that “your journey’s not over, it’s just begun”, which again, is accompanied by a wild electric guitar solo. Although an incredibly nice gesture, it’s unfortunately not Andrew W.K.’s best work, and you probably won’t see “You’re Not Alone” on the shelves as the best-selling self-help album of the year.

Words by Kat Tame

Album Review: Glen Hansard – “Between Two Shores” 

 

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Oscar and Grammy-award winner Glen Hansard returns with a full session band to present his third solo album, “Between Two Shores”. A collection of heart wrenching break up songs that takes you through a whirlpool of emotions. The album’s lack of focus, fluctuation in style, rhythm and tempo is a difficult thing to get on board with at first. According to Pitchfork, the album was influenced by his expedition from Ireland to northern Spain by boat and his ultimate love for sailing. It’s safe to say that ocean madness may well and truly be a thing, and boy did it play a big part in his relationships. All hands on deck for this one – there’s a lot of emotional baggage that needs to be dealt with.

 

The album sets sail with, “Roll on Slow”, featuring grungy guitar solos, heavy drum beats and a brass band. Hansard’s vocals are edgy and powerful as he sings about that restlessness of not yet being reunited with his love. It’s starts the album off with a bang, and a hopeful sense that his love is not far away.

“Why Woman” comes in slow as the second track on the album. Emotionally, it’s a step in the other direction as Glen sings of his attempt to hold on to his “darling” as she longs for a change. Although stylistically contrasting to “Roll on Slow”, Glen’s acoustic licks against the electric guitar and brass instruments are warm and his vocals are filled with beautiful vulnerability and melancholy, reflecting on his days in Swell Season.

Having starred in the film Once, his style often alludes to the poetic melodies and characteristics from the film’s album, and “Wreckless Heart” is just one example. It begins with bare acoustic guitar chords and licks against Glen’s sensitive vocals and lyrics. His voice cracks with devastation of losing his love, yet that time heals pain as it will do while he’s sailing at sea. The female vocal harmony is reserved and peaceful, yet creates a warmth to the track.

 

The album is full of cliché relationship remarks and he often alludes to the ocean and you’re never quite sure what stage of the relationship you might get to next. Although this is a little disconcerting as a whole, it’s the intrinsic details of the album, Hansard’s fragile vocals and smooth acoustic  guitar riffs against the brass band and soothing harmonies that makes the album that “Classic Glen Hansard” album that we all know and love: a little rough on the edges, but smooth and sweet on the inside.

Words by Kat Tame

 

Album Review: “Bootikins” – Augie March 

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Four years since their last album release, but worth the wait, Augie March present their sixth studio album, “Bootikins” through Caroline Australia, which will be released on February 23rd. The album is full of energy and is a truly diverse compilation of fiery melodies, idiosyncrasies and psychedelia. We’d expect nothing less from the indie pop-rockers. Prepare to go on a wild adventure as you listen to this unique collection of tracks.

 

The Australian band start the album off with, “Fake Jive”, equipped with synth chills, rhythmic acoustic guitar, edgy vocals, fierce electric guitar, and smooth harmonies. The epical nature of the song and its complex lyrics mirrors what is yet to come.

 

“Mephistopheles Perverted” is the second track on the album. Its compelling and refreshing introduction, slightly gothic in nature, includes a grungy electric guitar and symphonic synth riffs which is played numerous times throughout the song. It envelopes the lyrics and expressive vocal styles of Glenn Richards. The song as a whole displays an eerie, mysterious disposition with its transition between sharp and smooth rhythms and tonal and harmonic variations.

 

The title track of the album, “Bootikins”, was said to have been influenced by a late reading of the Albert Camus play, “Caligula”, noted on the artist’s website. It is abundant in rhythmic diversions, theatrical piano trills, melodic interchanges and raspy vocals and harmonies. Richards’ dramatic lyrics are devastating as he quotes Camus, in that it is the essence of life that one will die and not be happy. It’s lyrics like these that make Augie March the eccentric and astoundingly imaginative band they are.

The long anticipated album, “Bootikins”, will have you triumphantly rocking your head back and forth, swaying to the velvety vocals and rhythms and occasionally just outright sobbing. A fairly accurate depiction of the hurdles that life throws at you. Augie March will take you on a sentimental, spontaneous and euphoric journey.

Words by Kat Tame

 

Album Review: Merk- Swordfish

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If you haven’t already heard of Auckland producer/artist, Merk, then you’re in for a treat. He’s re-issuing his album, “Swordfish” on the 23rd of February through Dew Process. His psych-pop album, filled with synth, percussion, EQ and grungy electric guitar distortions, alongside smooth, vulnerable vocals, was produced and mixed entirely by himself in the basement of Neil Finn’s recording studio in NZ. In Merk’s time off from interning at the studio, “Swordfish”, and his artist profile was ultimately created. 

Kicking off the album with some serious EQ modulation and synth bursts, “Wonderbuzz” is a short introduction that sets the scene for the DIY nature of the entire album. It’s melodic, quirky and spacey and takes you on a mini ethereal adventure of its own. 

“No Better Reason” is where the drums come in, beautifully synthetic and rhythmic. The vocals ring hints of Modest Mouse and Passion Pit with multi-tracked falsetto and static reverb. The sparks of edgy synth and electric guitar against the vocals are compelling, but it’s the catchy rhythm in the chorus and fierce electric guitar solo in the outro that makes this track so powerful.

Taking a step back with “Melody”, this stripped back song features Merk’s vocals against the staccato chords of the piano, beautiful harmonies and multi-tracked cellos. With cracks in his voice he sings of being completely absorbed by the melody, a melancholic track with a sense of vulnerability. 

“Lucky Dilemma” is the last song of the psych-pop album. It encapsulates the entire DIY and humble nature of the album as well as being a fairly new artist entering the music industry. Decked out with synthetic drum beats and shakers, electric piano, EQ warps and tonal distortion, the vocals and melody string the track together to form a catchy psychedelic pop track. The lyrics delve into the notion of being lucky enough to have too much choice in life, and Merk is said to have had this same dilemma with which direction he’s headed next.

Lucky for us, he’s headed on a national tour in Oz with alt-pop band, Cub Sport, from the 23rd of February to mid-March with his doozie of an album. Make sure to look out for gigs in your city before they sell out, because it’s bound to be one hell of a dance-inducing night.

Words by Kat Tame

Album Review: “Don’t Talk About It” – Ruby Boots

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“Don’t Talk About It” is something we have got to talk about it. Released on the 9th of February, Ruby Boots’ latest album is a tornado of heavy guitar, sharp vocals and constant diversions in style which work cohesively through each track. Western Australian born, Ruby Boots – AKA Bex Chilcott – is known to have itchy feet. Constantly travelling, her inspirations are strongly portrayed in her variation of style in each song. Currently based in Nashville, she recorded the album alongside The Texas Gentlemen, a Dallas-based collection of studio musicians and sidemen. Ruby Boots’ has connected to the styles of women with strong and powerful demeanours, such as Angel Olsen and PJ Harvey, shown so heavily within the album.

The album’s opener, “It’s So Cruel” starts us off with a roar of grungy guitar riffs and rough vocals, which mirrors the dirty and unstable relationship she’s so willing to work for, noted in the lyrics. With such a heavy start to the album, you’d hardly expect the next track to include doo-wop beats and pinched strings. “Believe in Heaven” begins with that Western American style, using dramatic pizzicato guitar riffs, deep electric guitar harmonics and solitary bass drum beats. The track quickly transforms into the classic rock song with grungy vocals and electric guitar riffs you expected to begin with.

Title track, “Don’t Talk About it”, introduces hollow acoustic guitar sounds, synths and steady drum beats against Chilcott’s warm vocals. The song brings us back down to earth with a level-headed Nashville style rock song. Its rhythmic beats and harmonies tied with the vulnerable lyrics and vocal tones are what allow this song to be the strongest of the album. Plus, it’s really catchy – so watch out for ear-worms.

The album is tied together with the final track of the album, “Don’t Give a Damn”. Starting off as a completely stripped back track featuring the old faithful acoustic guitar, piano and maracas, and un-produced vocals, it later re-introduces heavy electric guitar as well as chanted vocal harmonies, punchy electric guitar and piano solos, where Chilcott shows off her huge vocal range.

For those that have followed Ruby Boots around for some time, you’ll know that her past is full of adventures and mishaps. “Don’t Talk About It” is a journey that covers various musical and emotional ground that reflects vulnerability and strength. This is captured in her striking voice that reveals the battle wounds and anecdotes of her past and her incredible resilience, and it is such an easy album to immerse yourself in.

Words by Kat Tame

Album Review: Ben Harper and Charlie Musslewhite ‘ No Mercy in this Land’

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Ben Harper is the undisputed king of sad songs with lyrics that always manage to cut right to the bone. Feeling like there was some unfinished business Harper has once again teamed up with Chicago Blues legend Charlie Musslewhite to bring fans ‘ No Mercy in this Land’.

The album opens with ‘ When I Go” and all the traditional elements of Chicago Blues are right there from the first bars where the distinctive harmonica sound of Musslewhite rolls along nicely.  This could be the movie soundtrack for any of Tarentino’s gun slinging westerns, the lyrics ominous.

Throughout the album Musslewhite’s expert harmonica playing doesn’t dominate, rather it compliments Harpers thought provoking lyrics and at times sounds like the two are just having an enjoyable time jamming. Its got the sass and attitude in the right places.

If one was to close their eyes at times you can almost picture yourself in Louisiana down on the Bayou in some back water bar dancing along to the infectious tunes that is ” Bad Habits” . Its got the right kind of blues lyrics whilst still maintaining the ability to make you want to tap your feet.

The Chicago blues train keeps rolling along nicely for several tracks until the piano- laden ” When Love Is Not Enough” opens with heart wrenching lyrics to bring the mood down, and Harper once again demonstrates his ability to write songs that are touching, moving and thoughtful at the same time. Its beautifully produced and the melancholy is palpable.

Title track ‘ No Mercy in this Land’  brings back the harmonica and poses some of life’s hard questions. With Musslewhite adding in on the vocals the song moves along nicely like a slower locomotive, sad and alone. Its minimal with the guitar and the harmonica is quieter and slower, allowing the lyrics to really shine.

To close out the album Harper ends with the melancholic ‘ Nothing at all’  a song that is laden with sadness and regret. Its a challenge to not have the tears roll slowly down your face as the strained vocals of Harper sing of loss and pain.  With just a hint of harmonica the track is the perfect way to wind down what is a generally fast paced Blues album.

With the expertise of Musslewhite on harmonica and the soft voice of Harper, its a treat to listeners that these two talented musicians felt that they had unfinished business and have gifted this outstanding blues album to the world. It proves once again that the multi- genre artist Harper is able to cross over sounds not just successfully, but rather brilliantly.

Ben Harper & Charlie Musslewhite’s ” No Mercy in this Land” is out March 30 and can be pre- ordered here  https://nomercyinthisland.com

Words by Amanda Lee Starkey

 

 

Album Review: Animal Ventura ‘ Forrest St’

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With his debut album Forrest St. , Fernando Aragones, better known by his stage name Animal Ventura has  created a funky feel-good album which seduces your body to move right away.

Growing up in Brazil playing punk rock and reggae Aragones decided to step out of his familiar surroundings and his comfort zone and to move to the other side of the world. Hi finally settled in Sydney 12 years ago, where he encountered an eclectic music scene, what allowed Aragones to discover his unique style that swings between Funk, Soul, Reggae, Country and Folk.

Forrest St. opens with the melancholy but laid-back, Reggae themed “No Gravity” with a combination of a relaxed horn section and a playful organ Animal Ventura carries you to a sunset after a long day at the beach.

” Animal”   relates the idea that human beings are no different from any other animals with the idea of making a complicated relationship work out. The catchy song comes in the guise of a funky 70’s song which sets you in the mood for a classy pool party with your favorite drink in your hand.

With the tracks “Lights on”  and ” Same As” Animal Ventura adds two beautiful folkish Country songs to the playlist. Both of them get along with an acoustic guitar supported by slide guitar for a slight change of pace.

On “Lights on” sees a  duet with singer Laura Sitt. Coming closer to the end the song builds itself up with a gentle horn section and glowing panpipes and is a mellow number, the perfect track to showcase Ventura’s voice, simple yet clear in its delivery.

Although saying that he primarily writes songs in English, Aragones Brazilian roots appear in ” Slave Of Love (Do It Twice)” and “Domingo” , where he smoothly changes between English and Portuguese, which provides the songs with a Latin touch.

With its surfy relaxed feel and chilled vibe, Forrest St. is an album for enthusiasts of soul and funk music, fans of acoustic folk songs and people who simply like to dance. Make sure you give the album a listen laying in the sun with your eyes closed.

Words by Tim Fischer

Do your earholes a favour and listen here:

 

 

 

 

Album Review: Lycanthrope ” Chapters”

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Lycanthropy is defined as a rare psychiatric syndrome that involves a delusion that the affected person can transform into, a non-human animal. Its name is associated with the mythical condition of lycanthropy, a supernatural affliction in which humans are said to physically shapeshift into wolves.

Hailing from Newcastle the band Lycanthrope are Daniel Greig  on vocals, Aidan Lee, Brett Scott, Scotty Wright all on guitar, Matthew Stoja stepping in on bass and Jason Salvini  smashing out the drums to complete the metal outfit. 

Opening the new album with ‘ Wings’ from the get go the album is an in your face solid metal album, with all the right elements in each and every track.  Jason Salvini keeping the drums at the forefront of each track, cranked up and thudding.  Layering in perfectly with solid guitars and vocals the album is a tapestry of sound that is sure to have metal fans begging for more.

Gambit” layers vocals with an exploding chorus and just when you think things can’t get better it changes key taking the listener on a complete different direction, towards the end returning to the powerful chorus.  Title track ” Chapters” delivers on all levels and is a wise choice for the single release, with its strong message of building a legacy and finding your better self. Its a powerful message with equally powerful vocals that are backed by exceptional guitars.

For lovers of metal this album is heavy as hell, opening with a wall of sound from the beginning track and not letting up until the end. Its one hell of a debut album, unrelenting in the least and makes no apologies for being one to really blast right at its listeners.  Having released the EP ‘ Limitless” to a huge response, its no doubt this band are getting noticed, and will continue to rise to the top.
 Pre-Orders for Lycanthrope‘s ‘Chapters’ album are live on iTunes & all digital stores now. For More Information, go to https://www.facebook.com/lycanthropemusic.
Words  by Amanda Lee Starkey
Watch the video for ‘ Chapters’ here.
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