‘Young & Dangerous’ – The Struts

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Release Year: 2018

The Struts live up to their larger than life attitude on their second album, Young & Dangerous. The highly anticipated follow up to their 2014 debut finds them doing what they do best: glam rock songs about having a good time. While you won’t find anything drastically different from their previous output, they do take the time to branch out. They shake up their established sound by experimenting with different styles and genres, yet never stray too far from their glam roots.

The album kicks off with “Body Talks,” which has all the elements of a great Struts song: a catchy hook, Luke Spiller’s sensual vocals, and a playful vibe. The remix with Kesha is decent, but she doesn’t add much aside from some random yelps. “Primadonna Like Me” is another high energy, fun song with Spiller playing the role of a rockstar that knows he’s hot shit. Their glam rock sound is bigger with raucous music and an infectious hook. Songs like these perfectly capture what the band is about and their over the top persona, which feels made for huge crowds.

Listening to tracks like “Bulletproof Baby” and “Tatler Magazine” it’s clear The Struts have their sights set on playing stadiums. The hooks are fun to sing, the songs capture their energetic air, and feel crafted with larger crowds in mind. And their frequent use of gang vocals gives the tracks an anthemic quality. Unlike other bands with similar aspirations, The Struts don’t comprise their established sound for something generic and safe. Instead, they push their feel-good vibe even harder, yet leaves room for some change.

Though they mainly stick with their glam rock vibe, there are a few moments where they get outside their comfort zone. “Who Am I” mixes their glam rock vibes with a healthy dose of disco. Similar to other tracks, the hook is catchy and fun while the music gets you moving. And of course, Spiller’s tongue in cheek wordplay is still intact making it an album highlight. Spiller throws you for a loop on “I Do It So Well” when he opens the song with his spoken word style that’s more like rapping. It’s a bit strange but ultimately works for the track. “Freak Like You” is a mini-musical. Clearly influenced by Queen, the band celebrates the outcasts, misfits, and freaks pulling away from their glam rock sound and playing around with their sound, such as the unexpected sax solo.

We even get to see the more serious side of the band on tracks like “Somebody New” and “Ashes.” The former finds Spiller lamenting the loss of a relationship while admitting he’s not ready for someone else. Rather than being flamboyant, he expresses a quiet sadness. He sounds bittersweet as he sings “It’s not that I don’t feel the feelings you do/It’s just my heart’s not ready yet/For somebody new” giving us a rare side of the singer. “People” is another moment where the band sets aside their wild attitude. Written about overcoming everyday struggles different people face, it’s meant to be an uplifting moment on the album. It definitely sounds like an anthem but isn’t as gripping as the rest of the album.

“Ashes” has a similar moody tone. Serving as the counterpart to the celebratory “Fire,” it’s another somber track about the consequences of living fast and partying hard and how someone’s life was lost in the end. Though it deals with a heavy topic, the band brings back their musical sensibilities with sections that change the style. One part it’s a serious ballad, the next it’s a bouncing cabaret. You definitely get some “Bohemian Rhapsody” vibes from it, yet it doesn’t sound like a Queen rip off. It’s a strangely fitting way to end the album as if to say life isn’t always one huge party.

Young & Dangerous is a blast to listen to. It’s more of the glitzy, glam rock goodness we love from The Struts. However, they do branch out trying different sounds to keep things from getting stale or sounding too much like their debut. Every moment is captivating from the high energy dance anthems to the serious reflective moments. Filled with infectious music, the band’s devil-may-care attitude and hooks made for stadiums, it’s a high-energy, feel-good album we desperately need right now.

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‘All Out Life’ – Slipknot

 

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It’s been four years since Slipknot released new music. Lately, Corey Taylor has been teasing the band’s return with a new album coming in 2019. To keep maggots satiated, the band shared their new song “All Out Life” and it’s everything you want in a Slipknot song: intense, heavy, fast, and loud. And it’s one hell of a ride.

This time Slipknot isn’t exploring their sound or trying new things. They go back to the intense, violent nature that turned heads 19 years ago. The song begins with a quiet intro featuring a distorted voice. The crunching music builds up keeping you on edge waiting for the moment when the music explodes. When it finally does, it’s a rush of aggression that pummels you.

It’s classic Slipknot all the way.  Taylor screams as if spitting venom, percussion is heavy enough to crush you, and the dizzying guitars get your blood pumping. It’s non-stop adrenaline that grabs you by the throat and refuses to let go. It’s a brutal track that harkens back to their first two albums, Iowa in particular. While they don’t get as dark as they did on that album, it’s still a sound that hasn’t been spotlighted on their later releases.

During an interview with Zane Lowe, Taylor reveals the song is about “the toxic idea that unless something came out 10 minutes ago, it’s not any good.” He continues to describe it as a rallying cry that “bring[s] everyone together, but also remind everyone the past is not something to be discarded with disdain.” And that’s exactly what it is.

During the interlude, Taylor chants “I will not celebrate mediocrity/I will not worship empty shells/I will not listen to worthless noises” addressing listeners as if preparing for them for battle. His anger and frustration reach a boiling point as he exclaims “We are not your kind!” making for one of the most satisfying moments in the song. It’s one of those moments that gets your fist in the air and ready to attack.

“All Out Life” isn’t Slipknot’s greatest song, but damn if it isn’t a good time. With its message, rallying cry appeal, and throwback sound, it’s a track made for the fans. They stick with their tried and true formula, showing they haven’t lost their edge over the years. It’s a ferocious return for the band and one that gets you excited for the new era to come.

13 More Creepy Videos that’ll Keep You Up at Night

Turn off the lights, grab some candy, and prepare to get spooky. Halloween is coming up and it’s time to once again, check out creepy music videos. These videos range from scary and disturbing to unnerving and chilling. So get comfortable and prepare for scares as we look at 13 more creepy videos. If there’s a video you don’t see that you think should’ve made the list, be sure to check out the previous list on creepy videos.

13. “Pinion” – Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails have some of the most notorious creepy videos, like “Happiness in Slavery,” and while this brief clip isn’t their most disturbing, it’s still pretty damn eerie. We start in a stark white bathroom unsure of what’s going on. We see a dark liquid being flushed and then we travel through the pipes. The tension begins building up as you’re not sure where this will end. Finally, we see a bound and gagged body hooked up to the pipes and twitching in pain. That image gets burned in your mind once you see it. The whole thing is so freaking ominous. It lets your imagination run wild wondering what’s waiting on the other side of the pipes. Just shows you don’t have to overly graphic to be scary.

12. “Sheena is a Parasite” – The Horrors

This video is short and simple, but effective. Directed by Chris Cunningham, the video stars Samantha Morton who convulses, flails, and dances as if she doesn’t have control of her body. It’s uncomfortable to watch, but it gets worse when the hook hits and Morton starts transforming. She spews her intestines towards the camera and her head loses shape, wiggling and morphing like an alien. It’s so weird, disgusting and unexpected you’ll never forget it.

11. “A Little Piece of Heaven” – Avenged Sevenfold

Everyone knows the story of boy meets girl, falls in love, gets rejected, and eats her heart. At least that’s what happens in this Avenged Sevenfold clip. The animated video has plenty of disturbing elements, like necrophilia, heart devouring, and murder but there’s also a sick sense of humor to it. The over the top violence and animated skeleton choir makes it more of a dark comedy and provides a perfect balance of gore and humor. On top of that, it’s a satisfying story of revenge that actually ends up as a romance. Boy kills girlfriend, she comes back and kills him, they bond over murder, and happily feast on brains as zombies. Ah, what could be sweeter? Despite its creep factor, it’s an entertaining video if you have a dark sense of humor.

10. “Feral Love” – Chelsea Wolfe

This video manages to be unnerving even if you don’t get what it’s about. Taken from the film Lone written by Wolfe and directed by Mark Pellington, a bunch of seemingly random scenes are thrown at you and you’re unsure of how they’re connected. Dead bodies, dripping blood, people convulsing in weird ways, creepy masks, bloodstained sheets, and innocent home movies with a sinister undertone make us this video. It’s like you’re watching the sequel to The Ring tape. The entire time Wolfe is singing while staring into the camera with pitch black eyes. It’s as if she’s trying to suck out your soul the whole time you’re watching. You want to pull away, but her stare is so intense you can’t.

9. “Mein Herz Brennt” (My Heart Burns) – Rammstein

Rammstein’s “Mein Herz Brennt” (My heart burns) doesn’t need lots of gore and violence to be creepy. Instead, it’s the sense of dread, misery, and tension that provides the scares. With a macabre tone, it deals with kidnapped orphans, weird alien-like creatures that make your skin crawl, and cruel child experimentation only to be topped off with Till Lindemann eating a human heart. All this is mixed with footage of the band playing stringed instruments while wearing bloody, faceless masks. The Gothic undertones give it an unsettling feeling similar to horror movies like The Orphanage. It’s a slow building horror that makes this video scary. Even if you don’t piece together the story right away, you know something is wrong and it is chilling.

9. “Kids” – MGMT

Remember when your parents assured you there’s no such thing as monsters? That’s not the case for the star of this video. A toddler is repeatedly frightened by monsters, bloodied zombies, and strange beings only he can see. His mother is too caught up in her phone to pay any attention and even lets him wander off into the woods to encounter the band at one point. It ends with trippy animation, vivid colors, and a disturbing wolf being. It’s like Sesame Street on acid. Not only are the weird costumes and bloody monsters enough to freak you out, but the sheer terror of this kid and seeing his unheard cries makes you tremble. Luckily, the kid was actually enjoying himself during the video shoot.

7. “If I Had a Heart” – Fever Ray

This is a bone-chilling video. The horror here is subtle opening with children crossing a river while people in strange masks look on. A sense of dread builds up and practically explodes as the camera pans across several lifeless bodies. Fever Ray sounds and looks like a menacing spirit covered in black and white makeup, her eyes completely devoid of life. The dark imagery paired with the haunting tone of the song create a horror that gets under your skin and unnerves you rather than makes you scream out loud.

6. “Sober” – Tool

Tool’s videos are nightmare inducing. They feature impressive visuals and animation, but are filled with disturbing imagery, trippy visuals, and are just flat out weird. “Prison Sex” is probably their most disturbing clip, but “Sober” isn’t any better. Filmed entirely in stop motion, it starts relatively tame showing a disfigured man obsessing over a locked box. Everything starts to spiral out of control the more he peeks into the box. He begins floating, his limbs shake uncontrollably, and he encounters strange, disfigured beings in his house. Gore is kept to a minimum, but it’s the weird imagery and sense of uneasiness that makes this one creepy. The animation is great, but it’s so damn uncomfortable to watch.

5. “Worlock” – Skinny Puppy

Skinny Puppy’s “Warlock” is not for the faint of heart. In the first 48 seconds, you’ll see eyeballs popping out of someone’s head, hands being stabbed, and lots of blood and guts. The video is a barrage of gruesome scenes from horror movies, like The Beyond, Hellraiser, and Re-Animator. It’s clear the violence isn’t real, but seeing so much blood, guts, and gore bombarding you every second is enough to turn your stomach. The whole video keeps you on edge since you never know what’s coming next. It doesn’t give you any breathing room; the violence and gore keep coming at you for five straight minutes. Unsurprisingly, it was banned, but not for gore. Rather, it was banned for violating copyright for the movie scenes. Best to avoid this one when you’re eating.

4. “Saku” – Dir En Grey

Nothing will ever top Dir En Grey’s extreme, stomach-churning “Obscure.” But that doesn’t mean their other videos aren’t as sick, weird, or disturbing. “Saku” plays out like a J-horror film starting with non-stop bloody and rotting imagery coming at you. As the band keeps performing the disturbing story begins to unravel: a boy comes home from school, murders his parents, and continues life as normal. He even eats dinner with their rotting corpses at the table. It’s not very gory, but well-placed shots of a bloody golf club and the kid’s eerie sense of calm after the crime make this video chilling.

3. “Bonfire” – Childish Gambino

What first looks like the set up of a horror film turns into a disturbing realization. Set at a summer camp, Gambino wakes up, a noose around the neck, and vomits blood. He’s lost until he sees campers in the distance. He’s relieved until he spots someone heading towards them carrying a knife and a noose. It seems like a typical horror movie scenario until Gambino reaches the bonfire to warn the campers and no one sees him. Turns out the guy wasn’t a killer. He was just the final act of the camp consolers tale about Gambino’s death. The video ends with Gambino waking up with a noose around his neck once again. It’s a shocking clip that goes beyond superficial horror and gets to the scary reality about racism and how the act turns from something to be upset about to something used for entertainment.

2. “Rubber Johnny” – Aphex Twin

Aphex Twin videos are always a bizarre experience. While “Come to Daddy” is the stuff of nightmares, there’s chilling and cringe-inducing about “Rubber Johnny.” Right from the beginning, you’re uncomfortable listening to this misshapen being make sputtering noises. The sense of uneasiness never leaves you throughout the video. As the music intensifies, Johnny’s movements grow more spastic and he begins splatting against the camera filling the screen with goo and guts. But you gotta admit, he’s got some sick dance moves. It’s one of those videos you’ll never forget once you see it, though it may haunt your dreams. Come to think about it, all of Aphex Twin’s videos are terrifying.

1. “Ready Err Not” – Flying Lotus

There’s all kinds of messed up shit happening in this video. You have deformed freaky people, cannibalism, implications of sexual assault, beheading, babies slurping the guts of other babies, and bodies being ripped apart. The amount of gore, blood, and guts coming at you is overwhelming and the surreal animation makes everything more disturbing. You want it to end, but you don’t want to stop watching. You want to see what messed up thing is coming next. The video feels like it was made to gross and freak you out. Mission accomplished. Then again would you expect anything other than grotesque and creepy from the creator of Salad Fingers?

Which creepy videos did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

Revisiting Slipknot’s ‘All Hope is Gone’

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Release Year: 2008

Rating: 7.5/10

Ten years ago, Slipknot changed gears and experimented with their sound on their fourth album, All Hope is Gone. Though the record was generally well received and even was their first to debut at number one, it’s not a fan favorite. The record has been dismissed by fans and the band themselves for its standard heavy metal sound an album that divided fans and has been dismissed by the band themselves. Even the band doesn’t remember it too fondly. The shift towards a standard heavy metal sound is jarring, but it’s still an intense record. Yet, something is missing that made their previous efforts brutal, memorable, and exciting. While it’s not a terrible record, it is among their weakest.

Gematria (Killing Name) is an absolute beast and kicks the LP off on a great note. It has a rush of aggression right from the dizzying guitar riff that opens the song. Things get more intense as Corey Taylor sings “What if God doesn’t care?!” as if he’s preparing listeners for a battle. Though it has an awesome energy and drive behind it, at over six minutes long it doesn’t hold your attention. After a while, everything melds together and you’re ready to move on to the next track. It’s not a song that stays with you very long and it’s an issue that permeates the album.

Very few of the songs are terrible, except for “Vendetta,” which seems better suited for Stone Sour. Tracks like “Butcher’s Hook,” “This Cold Black,” and “Sulfur” aren’t bad songs at all. They’re standard Slipknot fair with tons of aggression, violence, and anger dripping throughout every bar. But that’s really all you can say about them save for a killer guitar riff or two. Some of the lyrics are interesting, but something about them doesn’t hit you the same way the band’s other songs do. Many of the tracks found here are some of their most forgettable.

Luckily, there are some great moments. Though “Psychosocial” wasn’t well received on initial release, it’s actually the most memorable song from the album. The spiraling guitar riff, the pounding pulse that opens the song, and the harsh tone gets your adrenaline pumping for what’s about to come. The part with the bridge where the music drops and everyone screams “The limits of the dead!” is so intense it gives you goosebumps. The song also shows what Slipknot have mastered over the years. It’s a great example of the melodic and brutal melding together. It’s still a stellar track ten years later.

“Dead Memories” is another stand out track. There’s a bit of sonic shift where the guys go more for a standard rock sound. The lighter music and cleaner tones make it one of their more accessible singles. Not to mention the hook is memorable with Corey gently singing “Dead memories in my heart.” It’s a great song, but one that can definitely split fans in two.

Slipknot gets a bit experimental on the excellent “Gehenna.” Similar to songs “Purity” and “Prosthetics,” it has an unsettling nature. The distorted music crawls along while eerie sounds and wailing Theremins put you on edge. Taylor sounds broken and on the verge of snapping as he sings “The blood and the body /control the cut so it’s seamless/show me your heart/show me the way to complete this.” Even when he croons “Free my severed heart/give me you” he manages to sound creepy, not mention the maniacal laugh he throws in. It’s a haunting experience and one of the best tracks on the record.

Slipknot has experimented with ballads in the past, but none are as naked and heartbreaking as “Snuff.” Another album highlight, the song is the band’s softest moment with Taylor singing about the pains of betrayal with an acoustic guitar accompanying him. From the downtrodden music to Taylor’s fragile state, the track leaves you saddened and emotionally exhausted. Everything keeps building to a climactic, yet quiet conclusion. Though music gets more intense near the end, it still doesn’t reach the same volume as the previous tracks. It’s a haunting, yet beautiful track that shows Slipknot aren’t just about crushing guitars and screaming their heads off.

Is All Hope is Gone a bad album? No, it’s actually solid. Is it a lackluster Slipknot album? Yes. In some spots, it sounds like Slipknot doing the same ‘ol same ‘ol: being loud, aggressive, and in your face. In other parts, it’s just there. Very few of the songs are bad, but most of them don’t hold your attention for long. Most of them aren’t even memorable. There are some stellar songs, but most of the album is decent at best. It doesn’t leave you bloodied and searing like past releases. It’s not their finest, but it was an album that had to be made in order for Slipknot back on their game.

Playlist: Michael Jackson Goes Heavy Metal

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Though the world lost Michael Jackson nearly a decade ago, his music is still widely celebrated all over the world. Jackson’s music had a wide impact all across music, including the most unlikely genre, metal. For a pop star, Jackson has a lot of heavy metal fans to his name, which makes sense considering how often he incorporated rock into his music. But most metal covers do nothing more than add in some loud guitars and screaming vocals. Fortunately, there are a good amount of covers that make the song into something else entirely. To celebrate what would’ve been Jackson’s 60th birthday, let’s take a look at these kick ass Michael Jackson metal covers that’ll get your fists pumping in the air.

“Beat It” – John 5

John 5 is a madman on the guitar, whose laid down intricate riffs for Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie. Considering his riffs are ferocious, you know his Michael Jackson cover is going to be good. The guitarist included his version of “Beat It” on his 2012 album God Told Me To as a tribute to the late pop star. The instrumental track features John 5 playing everything from the main riff to the core melody on guitar. He even replicates some of Jackson’s vocal flourishes on the guitar. He keeps the badass nature of the song intact while showing off his impressive guitar skills.

“Give In to Me” – Soto

Soto released their version of Jackson’s 1991 hit in 2016. The song was already rock infused with Slash on guitar, but Soto takes the song in a darker direction. The intro sounds more somber than the original; you get an overwhelming sense of sadness hearing it. Jeff Soto’s vocal delivery is powerful and haunting, whereas Jackson’s is more anguished and angry. Even the music more intense; the crunching guitars and pounding drums give the song a heavier, morose vibe. It’s a great metal interpretation of the track, especially since it’s not a one to cover.

“Dirty Diana” – Evanescence

Featuring Steve Stevens on guitar, this song already had roots in rock, which is why it’s a popular choice for rock and metal acts. Yet, none of the covers are as chilling or beautiful as this version. The song begins with gentle keys that gives off this haunting tone. You don’t realize what they’re performing until Amy Lee starts singing. She builds up momentum with thing steadily getting gritty until the explosive chorus when the dirty guitars and pummeling drums kick in. But the highlight of the cover is Lee’s performance. She sings with so much power and ferocity it’s like she’s stabbing every line with a knife. Listening to her sing, it’s enough to give you chills.

“Smooth Criminal” – Leo Moracchioli

Alien Ant Farm blew people’s minds when they showed how well Michael Jackson translated to rock music. Their version is still considered one of the best Jackson covers, but this rendition by Youtuber Leo Moracchioli blows it out of the water. This one-man band cranks everything up and gives us a brutal version of this Bad single. The guttural vocals, crunching guitars, pounding drums turns this pop song into a gritty metal anthem. He even puts his own stamp on it with his own searing guitar solo making it stand out from other covers. Whereas the Alien Ant Farm cover makes you jump around, this version makes you want to mosh. Moracchioli is an absolute powerhouse, who regularly puts a metal spin on pop songs. If you want to hear more, check out his version of “Bad.”

“Speed Demon” – Xerath

This song kicks ass, plain and simple. It’s another Jackson single most people don’t cover. Most Jackson covers are already rock based, so it’s easy to down tune the guitars, throw in a solo, and add some screaming vocals. But Xerath turns this song into an aggressive, in your face anthem. They transform the main melody into a searing riff, yet it still has this undeniable groove to it. As soon as that opening riff kicks in, you can’t help but headbang. The screaming vocals are extreme; it sounds like Richard Thomson is ripping his throat to shreds. You never thought a Michael Jackson song could be this intense. A cover like this makes you realize how versatile Jackson’s music was.

“Thriller” – Koritni

No matter what you think about Michael Jackson it’s hard to dislike “Thriller.” It’s a favorite among metal bands to cover, but most renditions are boring doing nothing more than adding beefed-up guitars and screaming vocals. While Australian rock band Koritni’s version isn’t the greatest; their version “Thriller” is at least exciting. There’s something exhilarating about hearing the iconic opening on an electric guitar. The vocals are a bit exaggerated and hammy, but they give the song a rousing makeover. It’s sure to please metal and Jackson fans alike.

“They Don’t Care About Us” – Saliva

Rock band Saliva covered Jackson’s 1995 single for their tenth album, Loves, Lies, & Therapy. The music is the best part here. The song was already intense, but the added guitars and the fiery solo adds a new heaviness to the track. As for the vocals, they aren’t as powerful as Jackson’s. When Jackson sang it he was tired, angry, and fed up with the way people and the media treated him due to the allegations lobbied against him. Bobby Amaru sounds fine, but there’s no fire in his voice. This version doesn’t have the same feeling coming from Saliva, but in terms of music and performance, they at least do a good job.

“Scream” – Annisokay

In 2016, post-hardcore band Annisokay released an EP of Michael Jackson covers titled Annie Are You Okay? And it’s actually pretty good. Their versions of “Beat It” and “Thriller” are intense, but it’s their cover of “Scream” that stands out. Not only is it a song that’s rarely covered, they take the song’s main riff and turns it on its head. The grinding guitars and pummeling drums give it an abrasive sound while the growling vocals add a new ferocity. With how in your face it is, it pulls you into the song. The vocals are kind of weak, but Christoph Wieczorek and Kiarely Castillo don’t sound terrible. Their vocals just don’t demand the same prowess and command as Michael and Janet. They did leave in Michael’s scream from the original, which is a nice touch.

“Beat It” – Raintime

Imagine if Dream Theater covered Michael Jackson. That’s what this cover is like. Raintime released this cover on their second album, Flies & Lies in 2007. This version sets itself apart from the countless others with its prog-metal influence. While the iconic guitar riff and the spiraling solo are still there, they make sure to incorporate dancing keys throughout. They even put in a keyboard solo before the main solo. Whereas the John 5 version translates the entire song, melody and all, on guitar, this version turns it into a full-blown metal affair. It’s loud, filled with dirty crunchy riffs, and snarling vocals to give it a new flavor.

There are lots of metal Micheal Jackson covers out there, so which ones did I miss? What are you favorite Jackson covers? Let me know in the comments!