Music Monday: Blessed by a Broken Heart, Feel the Power

Feel the Power, Blessed by a Broken Heart
Feel the Power, Blessed by a Broken Heart

When I saw the video for Blessed by a Broken Heart’s (hereafter BBABH) first single off of their latest album Feel the Power I was actually a little disappointed.  The band’s previous album, Pedal to the Metal, as a guilty pleasure of pop-metalcore with copious layers of 80s influenced glam metal keys; that album’s “Move Your Body” has been a mainstay on my workout playlist for years now.  That new single, “Forever” was enough a departure from that sound to leave me a little disappointed with that I heard.  I don’t know what changed between that first listen and now, but damn do I absolutely dig the hell out of Feel the Power.

Yes, Feel the Power is slight departure from Pedal to the Metal but that same level of smooth pop-influenced slickness has been polished to a near mirror sheen and the incongruity of the Pedal to the Metal’s metalcore growls toned down to an absolute minimum.  The result is an album full of slick riffs, big choruses, and copious amounts of high energy rock and roll.  While the harsh bark of metalcore’s bark-like vocals still pops up on several songs it fits slightly better absent of synth heavy tracks.  The faster tempo employed across the album and the crunchier riffs the speed each track along lend to a curious blend of a thrash and hair, with a slight lean towards hair, and I for one love it.  While Feel the Power plays up the hair metal vibe by including one ballad (“I’ve Got You”) it never veers into the self-indulgent seriousness that marks the worst hair metal of yesteryear.

Indeed if one word can define Feel the Power that word is fun.  This is an album that you toss of the car stereo and crank to 11 while cruising down the road with the windows down.  This isn’t the kind of music that will change lives but it is the kind of music that well definitely make your day more tolerable.  Every track is killer though several standout: “Deathwish,” “Shut Up and Rock,” “Love Nightmare,” the chorus-heavy “Forever,” the easy-to-sing with “Rockin’ All Night,” and “Skate or Die” stand out (if only slightly) from the rest of the pack.  Bottom line if you are into fun pop-influenced metal then Blessed by a Broken Heart’s Feel the Power is well worth your time.

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Review: The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie

The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie

The Heroes
Joe Abercrombie
Orbit, 2011

If you’re a fan of total badassery, of giant battles, of soldiery wisdom, or of solid exciting prose you should do yourself a favor and read The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie. Indeed, if someone were to ask me what badass means I might just hand them a copy of this book. Likely if you’ve read and enjoyed The First Law trilogy, or Best Served Cold you’ve already picked up and read The Heroes. Indeed events in The Heroes trace their origins back to The First Law trilogy (I’ve yet to read Best Served Cold) and, while the novel can certainly be enjoyed absent of Abercrombie’s debut series, readers familiar with the author’s past work will definitely get more mileage out of The Heroes.

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Review: Heaven’s Shadow by David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt

Heaven's Shadow by David S Goyer and Michael Cassutt
Heaven's Shadow by David S Goyer and Michael Cassutt

Heaven’s Shadow
David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt
Random House Audio, 2011

A little over a year ago I read and reviewed the classic science fiction novel Rendezvous with Rama. David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt’s Heaven’s Shadow is in many ways a modern update to that story and tries to blaze a new path employing tropes and scientific concepts that weren’t as familiar or at all extent during Arthur C. Clarke’s time. Heaven’s Shadow opens as two competing spacecrafts, one from America and one an alliance of Europe/India/Russia, race to intercept a Near Earth Object (NEO) amusingly dubbed Keanu. It of course becomes obvious that Keanu isn’t quite what it appears to be; it is not a simple asteroid but rather a ship sent by mysterious alien entities. Heaven’s Shadow owes a lot to Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama. How much? Keanu, the NEO detected in the novel, would have been found by the Spaceguard program. The Spaceguard program, founded in 1992, is inspired by the organization of the same name in Clarke’s novel. Rama, I should add, was also mistaken for a NEO.

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Review: The Sacred Band by David Anthony Durham

The Sacred Band by David Anthony Durham
The Sacred Band by David Anthony Durham

The Sacred Band (Book 3 of the Acacia Trilogy)
David Anthony Durham
Doubleday, 2011

The Sacred Band by David Anthony Durham brings the saga of the Akaran family, begun in Acacia, to a close. The novel picks up where The Other Landsleft off. Corinn controls Acacia with an iron grip her growing mastery over the magic learned from the Book of Elenet allow ever greater control over the populace. Dariel, still far across the sea in the Other Lands learning about the society formed by the former quota slaves. Mena has been tasked with defending Acacia’s northern border from invadeing Auldek. Last, the recently resurrected Aliver slowly begins to recover who he was. On a minor note one of the brilliant things this series does, and one of the things I’d love to see other shorter fantasy series do, is provide several pages (about two to three) of summary for the previous novels. In a genre wherein volumes are separated by months if not years this type of summary is extraordinarily helpful in helping ease a reader back into the story.

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Music Monday: Speed of Darkness by Flogging Molly

Speed of Darkness by Flogging Molly
Speed of Darkness by Flogging Molly

Speed of Darkness
Flogging Molly
Borstal Beat Records, 2011

Speed of Darkness may be my favorite Flogging Molly album since Drunken Lullabies. Both Within a Mile of Home and Float are fantastic albums, no doubt, but something about Speed of Darkness really caught my attention. To be fair, and this might turn many Flogging Molly fans away from this album, is that there is a certain slickness to Speed of Darkness that really sets it apart from previous albums, or from Flogging Molly’slive show. It is a well produced album, not over produced, but well produced and absolutely polished to gleaming shine.

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Review: Unclean Spirits by M. L. N. Hanover

Unclean Spirits by MLN Hanover
Unclean Spirits by MLN Hanover

Unclean Spirits
M. L. N. Hanover (Daniel Abraham)
Pocket Books, 2009

Unclean Spirits by M. L. N. Hanover, a pen name for one of my favorite authors Daniel Abraham, is the first in urban fantasy series the Black Sun’s Daughter. While I didn’t have any major trouble reading Unclean Spirits it is a far cry from other works by Abraham. It stands head and shoulders above other urban fantasy books I’ve read, and its excellent pacing and smooth prose makes Unclean Spirits a quick read.

Unclean Spirits opens with the troubled 22 year-old Jayné Heller arriving in Denver as the inheritor of her uncle’s estate. Of course there was more, much more, to her uncle than Jayné ever expected and she soon finds herself dealing with the sinister Randolph Coin; the same man who orchestrated her uncle’s death. Turns out Eric and those he knew dealt with some of the nasty things that jump into our world from elsewhere. It isn’t long before Jayné takes up her uncle’s quest; mostly in the name of vengeance for the man who helped her throughout her life.

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