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Yay or Nay: Synastry, Cradle to Grave, The Briggs, The Underneath & D’espairsRay

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In this 4th installment of “Yay or Nay?”, it is more of an international affair as we have representatives from Canada, Los Angeles and Japan. One thing is certain that despite the distances between these artists, the goal is still the same. Bring the heavy and aggressive but don’t forget the catchy hooks. Let’s see who made the cut.   

SynastryBlind Eyes Bleed (Year of the Sun) 

Industrial-tinged death metal done right. The Canadian quartet have constructed 13 tracks of futuristic brutality with only destruction on their minds. With special guest vocals from Alissa White of The Agonist and founding Arch Enemy vocalist Johan Liiva, Synastry are poised to carry on the tradition of many of their fellow metal countrymen. A definite must for fans of Machine Head and Mnemic.  

Result: Yay  

Cradle to GraveTexas Medicine (Year of the Sun)  

The band’s promo sheet says that this album is for fans of Pantera, Lamb of God & Down. Being down south in Pantera country myself, those are some big bands to live up to. Upon first listen, you can hear the immediate aggression and anger coming through. A definite throwback to the A Vulgar Display of Power-era Pantera. But there is a difference between honoring and tip-toeing on the duplicate side of things. The vocals come off as Phil Anselmo’s little brother. Plenty of potential but not quite in that league just yet.

Result: Nay  

The BriggsCome All You Madmen (Side One Dummy) 

A working man’s punk band is what I can say about The Briggs. The L.A.-based quartet give us a dozen reasons to get up, strap on our boots and take each day head on. Very melodic and folky at times, songs such as “This Is L.A.” and “Oblivion” are poised to become punk classics. With special guests from seminal punk legends Brian Baker (Bad Religion, Minor Threat), Ken Casey (Dropkick Murphys), and Dicky Barrett (The Mighty Mighty Bosstones), The Briggs have constructed one of the best releases of 2008 so far.  

Result: Yay 

The UnderneathMoon Flower (J Shock DD LLC)  

If you want a radio-friendly hard rock milkshake, take one parts Staind, one parts latter-day Korn and a dash of 10 Years and you will have The Underneath. The Japanese imports give us 10 tracks of hook-laden rock that could make a splash in corporate American radio. One standout track “Fat Fatty F**kin ‘ Pigs” sounds like Godsmack going more of the punk route. The whole record gives a nice buffet of heavy rock but nothing worth causing an international incident for.  

Result: Nay  

D’espairsRayMirror (J Shock DD LLC) 

While at times going toward more of an industrial/hard rock combination, D’espairsRay always show they have the metal chops as well. This was quite surprising upon listening to songs such as “Hollow” and their title track “Mirror”. With lots of dynamics and plenty of hooks, this band could hold their own with the likes of Marilyn Manson, UnderOath and Evanescence. Obviously, since I am not fluent in Japanese, I’m not aware of what vocalist HIZUMI is saying but the music speaks for itself. This would make a great soundtrack to any of the horror movies coming from the Land of the Rising Sun.  

Result: Yay    

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