CD Review: “X” by Nonpoint

Nonpoint unleash its tenth record, X, after 21 years of rocking all over the globe. The band quickly gets down to business with album opener “Empty Batteries.” It is a grooving stomper with a shade of thrash with its dual guitar attack. Vocalist Elias Soriano’s soaring vocals shine on this track with its melodic chorus. “Chaos and Earthquakes” is trademark Nonpoint with the rapping vocal delivery and melodic guitar lines. This song is sure to be a fan favorite and will certainly garner radio airplay. The opening of “Fix This” is a thick wall of pummeling guitars slightly off-key with the drum beat. Things click in with a sweet bass line from Adam Woloszyn. This track is slightly weak compared to the one-two combination of the previous songs, but a nice guitar lead saves this track from mediocrity. “Passive Aggressive” is a fusion of biting guitar riffs and pounding drums and a melancholy chorus. Drummer Robb Rivera drives this song forward with interesting drum fills and rhythm changes. There is a strong Prong influence on “Dodge Your Destiny” with its trashing and unorthodox riffing. The Latin percussion during the song’s second half makes this track a highlight on X. “Milestone” plods forward with a lazy riff which contrasts with Soriano’s rapid rapping. Penultimate track “The Way I Feel” is a despondent track about feeling helpless in a crumbling relationship. This track is fairly poppy despite its depressing lyrics yet Soriano’s vocals are so powerful that you overlook the music.

X is a terse yet powerful statement from Nonpoint. This is a no-frills record with very little filler. The band has expanded its sound with a heavier thrash influence that adds depth to the music. Guitarists Rasheed Thomas and B.C. Kochmit can lay down some heavy riffs and shred, which makes the album a great listen. Elias’s vocals are still amazing after two decades and it is recognizable in this metal genre. Producer Fred Archambault did a great job recording every instrument. The guitar sound is thick yet clear and the bass is rumbling in the background.

Well, X is another notch in the belt for this storied band. Nonpoint fans should enjoy it and these tracks will certainly kick off some mosh pits at the band’s concerts. X shows that Nonpoint are not slowing down anytime soon.

Check out the band’s website for news and tour dates. 

CD Review: ‘The Poison Red’ by Nonpoint

Nonpoint’s ninth record, The Poison Red, is a mix of old and new. The band’s signature heavy groove is abound, but the band does a bit of experimentation on this record. The choppy riffing on “Foaming At The Mouth” recalls early Helmet and totally contrasts with Elias insouciant rapping throughout the song. The band blends heavy crunch with a laidback groove making for a strong song. Things pick up on “Bottled Up Killer Bees” with its scratchy riffs that sound like bees crashing in a bottle. The shredding guitar lead on “Bottled” is a shining example of Nonpoint’s underrated musicianship. These guys can play more than the typical nu-metal riff and are not afraid to prove that. “Standing In The Flesh” is another heavy hitter. The stomping drumming drives this song forward while the riffs churn like whirlpool. This is another hit for the band and will certainly be a fan favorite on the band’s tours. The band makes a defiant statement on “Radio Chorus” as the group wants to to do what it wants without judgement and the constant pressure of conforming. “El Diablo” is another track sure to be another staple at Nonpoint shows. The band’s Latin influence takes center stage and is strengthened with a memorable chorus.

The key word on The Poison Red is diversity. The band does not play it safe and stretches its wings a bit on this record. No, Nonpoint does not deviate to much from its sound, but it switches things up enough to keep the listener’s ears perked. This is good as the band does not fall back on conventions and it also solidifies Nonpoint’s status as a band that makes music on its own terms. Not too many bands can boast of staying together for 20 years, but Nonpoint can.

In the end, Nonpoint can chalk up another victory. The Poison Red fits along just fine with the band’s discography. It is heavy, soft, angry, uplifting and introspective. Fans of the band should pick it up as should anyone that want an introduction to Nonpoint’s music.

For news and tour dates, check out the band’s website: http://nonpoint.com/

CD Review: ‘Rivals’ by Coal Chamber

Oh the 90s. A decade of nu-metal, Hot Topic, black baggy pants, and pseudo-goth fashion. In this haze of black eyeliner and down tuned seven string guitars came Coal Chamber. Coal Chamber never enjoyed the popularity of bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit or Slipknot. Still, the band’s dark imagery and tight rhythms garnered the band a dedicated cult following. The band reunited in 2011 and four years later we have its fourth album, Rivals.

Dez and Co. are all business from the opening track “I.O.U. Nothing.” The track is hard hitting with guitarist Meegs churning out chunky riffs straight from the Nineties. “Bad Blood Between Us” continues the beat down as Dez continues his verbal barrage about an unnamed enemy. The remaining tracks continue in the same vein. “Suffer in Silence” and “The Bridges You Burn” sound like recordings from 1998, so there is nostalgia when hearing these songs. This is a good thing for Coal Chamber fans as the band does not deviate from the formula that initially garnered it popularity. In fact, the band sounds better than ever. The 13 year gap between the band’s last album and tour has not slow it down one bit. The downside, is that Rivals can grow monotonous at times. Nu-metal detractors will criticize Rivals for its lack of variety and heaviness. However, it is doubtful these folks will buy the album at all.

So does Rivals live up to the hype? Yes, without pause. Rivals features everything the band is known for. The riffs, groove and off kilter vocals are up front and clear. Rivals will silence the skeptics who think the album will not live up the band’s earlier releases. It is a solid, consistent comeback record. I highly recommend Rivals for fans of the group and those wanting some nu-metal nostalgia. Coal Chamber’s rivals certainly lit a fire under the band, and for the better.

CD Review: ‘Time and Trauma’ by 36 Crazyfists

Alaska outfit 36 Crazyfists never broke from the mold during the New Wave of American Heavy Metal in the 2000s. The band enjoyed some popularity, but failed to garner the critical or commercial success of its contemporaries like Killswitch Engage or Trivium. Now that the metalcore craze has subsided, the band returns after a 5 year absence with a new record, Time and Trauma. The band’s seventh disc offers little in terms of musicality or heaviness. It is by the numbers metalcore with a tinge of nu-metal. The opening track “Vanish (We All Disappear)” is mired by Brock Lindow’s strained vocals. The song itself sounds dated, like a cut one would hear on a horror soundtrack from 2002. The crunching “Sorrow Sings” has some sharp-sweeping riffs and tolerable vocals. Again, it is nothing one has not heard before, but it is solid nu-metal. The title track is conventional, with droning opening riffs reminiscent of Deftones or Skinlab. The track has a somber groove and is accessible enough for satellite radio. The hard hitting “Also Am I” reminds me of Nothingface musically, but vocally, Lindow sounds like Jello Biafra somewhat. This is one of the heavier tracks on Time and Trauma and will get the pit going at the band’s shows.

Time and Trauma was tracked at guitarist Steve Holt’s home studio. The production is quite good and no instrument overshadows the other. The sound is thick, giving the album a nostalgic feel of the nu-metal albums of yesteryear. The “been there, done that feeling” is very present on this record. I suppose 36 Crazyfists are trying to bring back the nu-metal and metalcore sound of 2002. If so the band is on the right track.

Time and Trauma is not a traumatic experience at all. It is just that the album came out in the wrong decade. Had this record come out between 1999-2003 it may have gone gold or even platinum. However, 36 Crazyfists are about 13 years too late. Fans of the band will probably buy it since it is the band’s first disc since 2010. However, metal heads are not missing anything if they skip it. Still, if one harkens for the good old days of nu-metal and metalcore, Time and Trauma is for you.

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