Artists Whose Talents Greatly Increased Between Albums, Part 4

Phew, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. You can check out part 1, 2 and 3 listed here if you’re curious. Now let’s see what other great talents need to be recognized.

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“Common Courtesy” (2013) by A Day To Remember

Genre: Metal, Hardcore, Pop Punk, Screamo, Progressive

A Day To Remember have always been okay to me, with the exception of one of their albums. They had a rocky start for sure, struggling to find a consistent, flowing sound. But their incredibly catchy clean vocals always made them fun and easy to listen to. It wasn’t until this album came out that they really showed what they could do. This is the album that everyone was waiting for, using the perfect blend of hardcore and pop punk that they have been searching for for years. Every song is creative, unique, emotional and just awesome. The music is the best they’ve ever done and there isn’t one dull moment on the album. After fans had to be kept waiting for years due to a legal battle with Victory Records, we weren’t left disappointed. For an album debuting their own, brand new record label, it couldn’t have been more perfect.

 

still_searching

“Still Searching” (2007) by Senses Fail

Genre: Post-Hardcore, Punk/Pop

I can still remember the first time I listened to this album, and I still get amazed every time I hear a song off or it 10 years later. Their debut album was a decent, enjoyable album, nothing too special, but good. And I loved it anyway. Then Senses Fail took us by surprise with Still Searching. It was like listening to a completely new and redefined band, yet still having their original central sound mixed in there. Every song is nothing short of amazing. The worst song to me is “Can’t Be Saved” and that is like one of their biggest singles. So take that into consideration to figure out how good the rest of the songs are. The album isn’t over done. It’s straight and simple, with catchy music with nice hardcore and metal riffs blended in…in short, it’s post-hardcore at it’s finest. They aren’t the most talented band out there, but they do the best they could, and the effect was something most bands can ever only hope to achieve.

And while we are talking about Senses Fail, let’s take it further. When Still Searching came out, I was actually kind of sad. I knew nothing could top it. They would only decline from there. The album was just too perfect. But no, Senses Fail proved me wrong.

 Image result for senses fail life is not a waiting room“Life Is Not A Waiting Room” (2008) by Senses Fail

Genre: Post-Hardcore, Punk/Pop

Not even two years after one masterpiece, they release another. I loved this album before I even opened up the case. I mean, look at that awesome cover. I was excited right from there. I went into this album wondering how far it would fall short from it’s predecessor, but was pleased to find out that it took it one step beyond. It was basically the same exact style of song writing and performance, just only done better. Their talents all improved and this album shows it. The lyrics and vocals are so emotional and personal, and fit and blend so well with the music. I could listen to this album every day. Life Is Not A Waiting Room and Still Searching are easily in my top 5 favorite albums. Sadly, the decline I so feared happened after this album. They are now so bad I won’t ever likely buy another album from them again.

Image result for as i lay dying an ocean between us“An Ocean Between Us” (2007) by As I Lay Dying

Genre: Metalcore

As I Lay Dying’s first album was decent for a debut. Their second was worse, using so much uninspired, typical stock metal for music. It wasn’t until their third that they showed the world what they could do.

An Ocean Between Us can only be described as perfect. It starts off with a nice clean instrumental that builds into harmonizing, distorted guitars. This 1 minute long instrumental sets the tone for the whole album. It just builds up and gets better and better. Right after the intro song, it immediately jumps into track 2, and right away you notice an energy and ability the band has never come close to showing before. The guitars, the drums, heck, even the screams are all vastly improved. Each song is intense, never slowing down, just melting your face with some of the best metal riffs and break downs you will ever hear.

The band has come together to perfect a sound we could only dream of. They even threw in a lot more clean vocals that fit in perfect to the high energy mash of metal. It’s just a perfect, wonderful, wonderful album. And they didn’t slow down after this, either. They released two more albums with just as much high, non stop energy and amazing musicianship. All three albums are something that every metal fan needs to here.

 Image result“Recovery” (2010) by Eminem

Genre: Rap/Hip Hop

I am not exactly a fan of rap, but Eminem has always blown me away. His unique take on the genre has enticed me to follow him ever since he exploded onto the scene in the late 90’s. His first three major release albums are nothing short of incredible. He is a truly gifted writer and presents his lyrics in humorous, clever, unmatched ways. Whether he is yelling like a maniac or doing something more personal and serious, you can’t help but be drawn in by it. His fourth and fifth albums were not as good, but still had some memorable songs.

But I didn’t truly start to see just how gifted he is until Recovery. This album was a few steps up from anything he’s ever done before. Everything about it seemed more mature. He wasn’t talking about drugs and killing people, Kim and his mom all the time anymore. It was more down to earth and personal. He’s still got some goofy songs, but they are all so good. He also brings in a lot of guest vocalists to enhance his choruses. Even his beats were infinitely better, mostly consisting of real instruments and actual song structure instead of just the typical 2 measures of a computer created beat repeated over and over for 5 minutes. The way he uses this music and reacts and emotes his voice to match it makes everything that much more interesting. Sometimes I almost forget I am listening to a rap album, instead hearing a band with a fast talking vocalist, which is probably why someone like me who is not a particular fan of rap loves this so much.

This album set the tone for the new Eminem, and he has done nothing but get better and better ever since.

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Artists Whose Talents Greatly Increased Between Albums Part 3

And I’m back, bringing you a few more incredible albums!

illuminaudio“Illuminaudio” (2010) by Chiodos

Genre: Alternative, Post Hardcore, Indie, Rock

Chiodos is certainly a unique band and are really quite talented. Of the four albums they have made, “Illuminaudio,” their third album, is without a doubt the most ambitious and enjoyable album to date.

I was very worried when this was being made. The bands singer, whose unique vocals ranging from low to very high pitches, mixed with the occasional aggressive screams, really brought the keyboards, unique guitar riffs, and overall excitable music together, had left the band, as well as their drummer. I just kept thinking to myself, “how can they make a Chiodos album without Craig Owens?” But all my worries and doubts were immediately put to rest after the first song, which was just a short intro thing that couldn’t even really be considered a real song. I knew I was in for a really great album after the first actual song, “Caves” came on. Right away it starts with a neat little drumbeat that immediately warmed me up to the new drummer. Followed right after that was a glorious high pitched chant by the new vocalist.

By the end of the song, I was floored. Not only was the new vocalist a much better singer, having cleaner transitions between high and low singing, much better screams and just an overall more pleasant sounding voice, the band as a whole were much more together if you will. The songs were smoother, more advanced and better written. This was at times absent from their older albums, where they often times just randomly jumped into odd music transitions, and the vocals were just cracked and screechy at times.

On top of all the better quality, every song was just incredible. When you listen to it, the still unique and satisfying vocals just seem to carry you along the notes of the equally unique music until you find yourself at the end of the album, sad that it is over, but overjoyed that upon owning this album, you have the privilege of listening to it as many times as you want.

This is another perfect album and I recommend it to pretty much everyone. I am sure you will find something in this amazing album for you to love.

 

my shame is true“My Shame Is True” (2013) by Alkaline Trio

Genre: Punk, Alternative, Rock

Alkaline Trio is one of my favorite bands, if not my favorite. They have been around for 20 years and have come out with quite a few albums in that time. Many of them take the band in slightly different directions, but their core elements of hard punk and heartbreak always stay in tact. Perhaps this is why this is one of the few bands out there that have remained consistently good throughout their entire career.

That being said, there is no denying however that some of their albums are definitely worse than others. This brings me to their last album before “My Shame Is True,” “This Addiction.” While this is still a good album, to me, it is without a doubt their worst. This left me slightly disappointed, and when “My Shame Is True” came out, I wasn’t all that quick to pick it up. But when I finally did, I found myself yet again stunned by my favorite trio. They introduced yet another style in this album, but as ever, keeping faithful to their core sound and energy. Though this was their best sound in my opinion, taking elements from all their previous albums and combining them into this one amazing one. I always felt it combined the writing style of “This Addiction,” the creativeness of “Crimson” and the pure foot tapping catchyness of “Agony & Irony.”

One song after the other was never alike, always trying something a little bit different, yet familiar. Some of these songs quickly became my favorites out of all the many, many songs they have created. And even though they combined a lot of their previous styles, each song is laced with something new, making the album stand out and exciting to listen to. I now eagerly await their next one, but now with the worry that it will not live up to this one, but it is Alkaline Trio, and everything they do is wonderful.

I highly recommend this to everyone. They have found such a balance in many forms of music that everyone can find something to enjoy.

 

 

Artists Whose Talents Greatly Increased Between Albums, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2. We’ll just jump right into it.

I ended part 1 with Avenged Sevenfold’s “Waking The Fallen,” so it only seems fitting to start part 2 with their follow up album.

 

City_of_Evil_album_cover“City of Evil” (2005) by Avenged Sevenfold

Genre: Heavy Metal, Rock, literally a blend of everything

            As I mentioned in part 1, I have always hated Avenged Sevenfold’s albums for the first few listens, and this one was no exception. Now I want to build a time machine and go back to 2005 and beat up my younger self to a pulp for ever thinking this album was bad. But to be fair, I was not alone in this view at the time. Everyone I knew pretty much hated this album and it was only because we loved “Waking The Fallen” so much. When the band released “City of Evil,” their entire sound changed drastically. It was a lot to take in at first, having one of my favorite album’s successor be nothing like my favorite album. So what were the drastic changes?

For starters, the screaming is no more. I believe this was due to some sort of injury to the vocalist from screaming too much. The music was overall more metal, but it seemed wrong with just clean vocals. The songs themselves didn’t have the same feel, using entirely different tones on all the instruments and creating just a different sound and vibe all together. The songs were even longer and littered with guitar solos. Though everything was more metal at its core, there was so many other sounds sneaking into the album that you forgot it was metal, and felt more like a rock and roll album, just made by a band I could no longer stomach to listen to. Basically, I was looking for a true sequel to “Waking The Fallen,” and this couldn’t have been more far away.

But as usual, I forced a few more listens through the whole thing and something about it made my mind change. And that something was literally everything I just listed that I did not like about it. Long songs with twists and turns in riffs, style and genres in the middle of them made the whole thing seem like an amazing roller coaster ride. Everything done musically is incredible, especially the guitar solos I complained about originally. My personal favorite part about the album was the drums. They were just recorded, toned and mixed so perfectly, and are some of the best drum tracks to ever be recorded. You could tell the drummer really went all out, and it really helps drive the songs and keep the energy up through the entire album, all the while blowing your mind with his talent.

Slowly, this album grew to far surpass “Waking The Fallen,” and still is their best album in my opinion, only their follow up to this one ever even coming close to being as good. I absolutely love this masterpiece, from the first song to the last, there is never a dull moment. Even now, over 10 years later, every time I hear the album or just a song off of it, I get excited and feel like I am discovering it for the first time, and sometimes I do hear new parts and twists, because they are so jam packed with different things to listen for. I am pumped up right now just righting about it.

I recommend this album to absolutely everyone, because there is something within this amazing album for literally everyone to like.

 

 

ffaf hours“Hours” (2005) by Funeral For A Friend

Genre: Post Hardcore, Rock

Funeral For A Friend is a band with many different changes in their music over their career, seemingly always experimenting with their sound and trying to find what fits them best and what their fans prefer. They seemed to always go from a heavier, more metal sound with frequent screams to a completely mellowed out, clean and melodic sound.    Personally, I find their earliest works to be the best, and I prefer their heavy sound compared to the other side of music they dwell in. I first got into FFAF back in 2003 with their, shall we say, demo “Seven Ways To Scream Your Name” and I was floored. Seven songs of amazing musicianship, fast, intricate song writing and screams worked into clean vocals that created something incredibly exciting and amazing for my middle school self.

Shortly after, I got a hold of their first full length to be released in America, which I admit, was a little disappointing. It lost the raw energy and feel the demo had I so loved and replaced it with a cleaned up, more refined sound that was only logical for a growing band just starting to break ground. Even the couple songs rerecorded from “Seven Ways To Scream Your Name,” though improved and added to, didn’t hold the same charm. Already it was evident FFAF was taking their music to a different direction, however slight it may have been at this point. It was still a solid album though, don’t get me wrong.

But I am not here to talk about their debut full length, but their follow up in 2005, “Hours.” This album gripped me the way “Seven Ways To Scream Your Name” did, though their music changed quite a bit as well, but I find it to be more of a perfect blend of their demo and debut album, combining the intense metal energy with the clean, refined melodic vocals and music, and for this band, it worked fantastically.

Every single song showed off their impressive musical talents and brought you something different. It is like they are offering something completely new with that comfortable familiarity listeners have grown to know about them hidden underneath all the new. They do not necessarily stick to one genre of music, adding to the surprise and diversity of each song. Every track is indeed a treat and I still love listening to this album over 10 years later.

“Hours” has some of the best guitar riffs I have ever heard, which really brings me back to their demo and what I loved about their driving metal sound, and other songs are sweet and soft, with powerful melodies pushing you through and keeping you attentive and admiring.

Unfortunately, Funeral For A Friend continued experimenting and have always tried something new in each album past this one, still searching for that perfect sound. But I always say they found it with “Hours.” This is like a quick golden light in a timeline of ever changing and growing musical art, so I hope this writing will remind and inform people about this wonderful album. The band has since released five more full lengths, but I lost interest in them after the two disappointing albums that followed “Hours,” so I can’t say in all fairness that this is their best one, but I’m betting it is. They just set the bar too high in my opinion and will likely always struggle to reach such heights again. Not only that, but it is in my top five favorite albums of all time. I recommend “Hours” to any music fan. They are diverse and exciting enough to give anyone a thrill.

Artists Whose Talents Greatly Increased Between Albums

One of the best parts about music is following musicians throughout their careers and getting the chance to hear them mature, change and develop with each new album they record, each new song written. If you pay attention, you can really get a feel for their lives through lyrics, and less obviously so, the music presented underneath the words. Some artists never change, some change drastically, and some just simply get better or worse, with change being completely absent from that formula.

These changes can be evident between two albums, or a slow evolution over their entire career. Now, depending on a listener’s own personal likes, interests and opinions, these changes can be great, or make you turn away from ever listening to another album by that particular artist and causing you to lament when you hear the good old stuff. I am here to talk about some albums that were far greater than their previous album(s); with everything from talent, song writing and creativity being increased exponentially. Albums where every song just blew me away.

Most of the times you see this huge growth in a musician right after their debut album, after the bands do nothing but tour, rehearse and rehearse some more, literally doing little more than performing or practicing. Obviously, this never ending practice yields tremendous results for the artists, and we as listeners are treated to the fruits of their efforts. Other times, they just seem to randomly put in a fantastic effort.

Just a heads up before I begin, I am only writing about artists I listen to, picking from the roughly 4800 songs I own, not just artists in general. I will not be sticking to a single genre, though most could be considered “rock” if I wanted to be super generic. That being said, I do listen to a somewhat diverse set of music, so hopefully there is something in hear you may have heard of and I inspire you to check them out.

Also, many of these opinions may be based off of when a listener started following a band. For example, if someone started listening to an artist after they had their huge boost in talent, the listener may have missed out and thus, completely disagree with me on some things here. Anyways, let’s get to it!

Note that these are listed in no particular order.

blog post 2“Bury Your Dead” (2008) by Bury Your Dead

Genre: Metal, Hardcore, Screamo

Starting off, I must say this album did not impress me as much as the others on this list, but I wanted to put it in simply to commend a band that has won me over. Bury Your Dead’s first two releases, “Cover Your Tracks,” and “Beauty and the Breakdown” did nothing for me. They consisted of breakdown after breakdown, similar sounding songs, and nothing but screaming, all things I tend not to enjoy about bands.

So what is so different about this album to have won me over?

Absolutely nothing.

This album to this day has me perplexed. They have a new vocalist for this one, and he certainly adds a new, catchier flair to the songs, though he still does nothing but scream. The music sort of gives you a break from the breakdowns every now and then, but barely. But I suppose it is these minor changes, with the addition of just more creative and catchy songwriting…yes they have catchy breakdowns… that has finally gotten me to like this band. Their future albums also feature some extremely large changes, but this one still holds as my favorite, largely because I feel like they found a sound that works with all the members and could present it in a satisfying way. They do far more experimentation in the future albums, as I said, but this one seems to suit them the best.

I recommend this one to anyone into heavier metal music. May it win you over the way it has me.

 

 


blog post 1“A City By The Light Divided” (2006) by Thursday

Genre: Post-Hardcore, Alternative, Indie, Punk

Prior to this album, Thursday had already released some solid records, boasting a unique sound paved over with clean vocals and occasional screams that melded well with the music, resulting in something truly pleasant to listen to for anybody willing to listen.

Then Thursday came out with this album, and it blew me away. From quality, to talent and lyrics, this album took everything I loved about Thursday and improved upon it greatly, completely refining everything. The album is chock full of energy and diversity, having fast paced, on the edge of your seat titles like “At This Velocity” to slower, more slower and beautiful songs with great lyrics like “Autumn Leaves Revisited” and plenty of in of songs styled in between.

From start to finish, each song impressed me more and more. This is literally one of the few albums that I have heard that I absolutely love every song on, and such joys should be spread to the world, so that everyone can listen to this incredible album. I promise it is worth your time. I would even go as far to consider “A City By The Light Divided” to be perfect, and I absolutely recommend it to any and everyone.

 

blog post 3“Waking the Fallen” (2003) by Avenged Sevenfold

Genre: Metalcore, Post-Hardcore

Avenged Sevenfold has always been an acquired taste for me, a bit unusual since they have some truly amazing talent. Each album they released, I always disliked, sometimes even bordered on hated after the first few listens. But eventually, they grow on me, and I end up loving them. Sevenfold is now one of my favorite bands, oddly enough. This hate to love feeling all started way back when I had my first listen of them back in 2004, when I bought “Waking the Fallen” for a reason I cannot remember. After my first listen I thought it was far too long, had bad screaming and an overall underwhelming production.

After two or three more full listens of the album, my opinion changed completely. I still didn’t love the screaming, but the songs were only so long because of all the technical writing and various parts packed into each song, making each one an exciting and mysterious venture, never knowing where you will end up by the end. Not to mention that each song was crafted with incredible musicianship and hard, slightly raspy, yet beautifully melodic clean vocals mixed with intense screaming that made each and every song on the album a masterpiece. What started out as a cd I regretted buying, instantly became one of my favorites, if not my favorite back then.

So how did this album make the list? Because I went back and bought their first album, and what a difference. Let’s talk about writing style. Though still metal at heart, the songs just didn’t have any real kick or drive to them on their debut album for the most part, resulting in some very boring riffs getting repeated 4-8 times. Though it was a lesser quality album and shouldn’t be judged for that, the whole thing just seemed like a mess. The mixes were ok, but it just sounded bad overall, like the band was trying to find a good, fitting sound for their talents and were falling short. Sometimes when the band would go to a clean part, it seemed from out of nowhere, or the screaming seemed forced on some parts, or the vocals didn’t quite fit. This experimentation is quite common with debut albums and I do not hold it against the band whatsoever, in fact, overall it is still a pretty good album, especially for a bunch of kids in high school.

So how was this problem fixed? Besides just getting better and touring and getting more comfortable with being a band, was the inclusion of guitarist, Synyster Gates, now one of the most well known musicians in music. He was the missing piece of the puzzle that the band was missing, and with him joining the ranks, the band was allowed to shine as they were destined to.

Enter “Waking The Fallen.” The quality is infinitely better, the songwriting, creativity and talents jumping through the roof as well. The jumping genres present in their debut were done here as well, but the transitions all seemed much cleaner and smoother, and there were more of them to boot, leading to a more diverse/unique sound, differing from the more metal heavy debut. In short, the sound they struggled to obtain all fell into place quite nicely for this album, making it a true sequel to the first, keeping the familiarity established in the first and improving upon it , plus adding a whole new side of things to really treat the fans and show them what they were really capable of at the time.

I know my friends and I who had this album fell in love with it, and with the vast improvements and efforts made by the band, it is well deserved. This is the album that took them to fame, and a few listens (if you are like me) will show you why.