Review Rundown: Madder Mortem, John 5, Call the Cops, Since October & We Are the In Crowd.

Review Rundown this time out takes looks at new releases from Madder Mortem, John 5, Call the Cops, Since October and We Are the In Crowd. Enjoy my friends.

File Under: Avant-Garde Metal
Madder Mortem - “Where Dreams and Day Collide” (Peaceville): Contemporary jazz refrains roam through vast, expansive fields of metallic progression on “Where Dream and Day Collide,” the latest EP offering from Madder Mortem, a release that accomplishes the very thing EP’s set out to do – leave you wanting more. Haunting passages abound throughout, imbued by the lingering voice of frontwoman Agnete M. Kirkevaag, who’s capable of delivering an ethereal stillness as well as crashing vibrato at any given point during “Where Dream and Day Collide.” This time out the band come off more unrestrained than at recent points in their career (namely 2009’s “Eight Ways”), a characteristic of the EP that is it’s most exciting. While two versions of the title track are somewhat unnecessary, the accompanying three tracks pick up the slack admirably. ‘Jitterheart’ and ‘the Purest Strain’ effectively deliver an air of dark aggression, while the EP’s best contribution, ‘Quietude,’ adds melodic structures and somber tones to the record. This EP will surely quench the thirst of existing fans, though it isn’t exactly the right place to start for newcomers (one suggestion would be 2006’s “Desiderata”), but “Where Dream and Day Collide” still registers as a satisfying listen and beautiful evolution for Madder Mortem.
Grade: B
Go Download: ‘Quietude’

File Under: Six String Fury
John 5 – “The Art of Malice” (60 Cycle Hum): Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie - there’s a reason guitarist John 5 keeps landing premium gigs, and it has to do with more than just good luck – the guy is clearly ultra talented when it comes to the art of six strings, and if you don’t believe that, go ask those guys John 5 has jammed with. Well, you probably can’t, unless you’re pretty connected, so settle for plan B and listen to his new solo record, “the Art of Malice.” This guy is very good, video game good, with a guitar in his hands, meaning this is the type of skill you’d only expect to see while playing a video game. Hell, some of these riffs sound plucked straight out of the gaming world (‘The Nightmare Unravels,’ ‘Ill Will or Spite,’ ‘Portrayed As Unremorseful’). Keeping John 5’s associated acts in mind, you can expect a heavy barrage of chugging hard rock riffing, jaw-dropping leads and awe-inspiring soloing throughout “the Art of Malice” (‘Wayne County Killer,’ ‘The S-Lot’), but 5 takes the time to show off some of his other skills, skills that reach as far as the world of country music (‘J.W.,’ ‘Steel Guitar Rag’). “The Art of Malice” will never cease to amaze you, and it just seemingly gets better with each new song. There is something for everyone, and just simply saying this record is good is a gross understatement. (
Grade: A
Go Download: ‘The Nightmare Unravels’

File Under: Scene-y Electro-Rock
Call the Cops - “Call the Cops” (MySpace Records): On the surface, most everything about Call the Cops could categorize them as ‘scene.’ From their group photos to the graphic of the band’s name, it could be easy to lump these boys in with just about every other band doing the same thing musically and stylistically. Hell, even the first couple of tracks, ‘Like It Like That’ and ‘So Over You’ don’t anything to persuade you to think otherwise. This folks, if why you almost never should judge a book by its cover. This record really doesn’t show any signs of life until the song ‘White Dress’ embraces your speakers. This 3Oh3! & Cobra Starship inspired track is propelled to the forefront through enticing electronic flourishes and giant, attractive hooks, something the band should come to be known for after this release. But the eponymous album doesn’t get much better than the textbook powerpop ballad ‘Summer Ending to a Winter Night,’ which acts as a showcase for the bands endearing pop sensibility (think Boys Like Girls or All Time Low), a firm receptiveness the band really should have spent more time exploring. Highlighting a pair of tracks doesn’t simply write off the rest of the record though, as there are some decent songs worth a listen along the way (‘Get Up or Get Down,’ ‘Love Like Novocaine,’ ‘Crash’). Even though most of the disc is comprised of material you’ve heard a number of times before, there are elements of CTC’s game that show promise. There is potential here, potential hopefully the band is able to realize in the future. (
Grade: C
Go Download: ‘Summer Ending to a Winter Night’

File Under: The New Kids in Powerpop
We Are the in Crowd – “Guaranteed to Disagree” (Hopeless Records): ‘We’re bound for city lights like satellites, we’ll outshine the sun,’ sings one half of We Are the In Crowd’s vocal attack, Tay Jardine, on ‘Carry Me Home,’ the opening salvo off the bands Hopeless debut EP “Guaranteed to Disagree,” an outlook that finds renewed life with each vibrant crash of the album. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The combined vocal aesthetic of Jardine and male counterpart Jordan Eckes at times could be better, but it’s what’s driving the car throughout, effectively captivating time and time again with songs like cheerful revenge number ‘Both Sides of the Story,’ and the bands first stirring single ‘For the Win,’ but the record doesn’t get better than closing opus ‘Calendar Pages,’ an effort that will definitely stay on the tip of your tongue even after you press the stop button. These hooks are tighter than hotel bed sheets, and just as pristine, adding more to the already compelling sonic euphoria the band offers with ‘Guaranteed to Disagree.’ They say you only get one chance to make a first impression. Well then, congratulations are in order for We Are in the Crowd on acing theirs with this debut. (
Grade: A
Go Download: ‘Calendar Pages’

File Under: Modern Rock
Since October – “Life, Scars, Apologies” (Tooth & Nail): Most everything about Since October’s “Life, Scars, Apologies” is akin to that of bands like Anew Revolution, Sevendust, Three Days Grace, and, well, pretty much any number of modern rock bands, a characteristic of the record that makes it a nice fit in the middle of your record collection, one you’ll listen to now and again and from time to time. And, yes, you’ll definitely want to listen to “Life, Scars, Apologies,” at least once. These songs deserve that much. The record follows the same set of blueprints as most bands of Since October’s ilk, and because of such, predictably, the album lacks a discernable dichotomy. Yes, there is a certain identity here, but it doesn’t do much to save the disc from mediocrity. Though the ballads off “Life, Scars, Apologies” sound a bit lacking, the hard rock efforts have them covered, with songs like ‘the Way You Move,’ ‘Life, Scars, Apologies,’ ‘Made Up My Mind’ and ’the Show’ serving as highlights. And then there’s ‘Life of Mine,’ a guitar driven, shred-tastic thumper that is far and away the albums best cut, and a song that needs to be on your iTunes playlist right now. “Life, Scars, Apologies” goes out effectively on a high note as well with the emotional journey that is ‘Don’t Follow.’ This record does a number of nice things, but it runs the risk of getting lost in the shuffle of rock records out this year. (
Grade: B
Go Download: ‘Life of Mine’