As we gear up our anticipation for the late summer and fall releases we've been teased with, we're getting to hear more samples from many of them, so it's once again time to take a look and see what we've got in terms of singles.
Spock's Beard - Tides Of Time
I was a huge, huge fan of the band's previous album, so I'm expecting great things from "The Oblivion Particle". This track, the album's opener, isn't really doing much for me. There are a few great moments, and the way the acoustic guitar comes out of nowhere is pure Spock's Beard from the old Neal Morse days, it feels too much like it was stitched together from ideas that they had lying around. Coupled with the fact that it's missing a big melody to tie it together, and it's a disappointing first impression.
Soilwork - The Ride Majestic
I will admit that I never actually got around to listening to the entirety of Soilwork's double album. I like the band, but only in small doses. The title track of their new album is the first we've heard from the record, and it is also a bit disappointing. The riffing doesn't lock down into a heavy groove, instead relying on more atmospheric sounds, and far too many of the vocals are delivered in Speed's harsh tone. What makes them great is the blend of death metal and melody, and this song doesn't really have either of those things.
Slayer - Repentless
The third tracks we've heard from the upcoming Slayer album still does nothing to stoke my fires for it. "Repentless" is Slayer by-the-numbers. The riffing is exactly what Kerry has been writing for at least three albums now, fast-paced chugging with little actual musical worth to it, Tom's vocal cadence is unchanged, and the lyrics are downright awful high-school language. Apparently, it's an ode to Jeff Hanneman, and if that's so, Slayer should be even more embarrassed than usual. If they can't do better than this as a tribute to their fallen brother, they have nothing left to offer.
Symphony X - Without You
This is more like it. The first song Symphony X released was a weak rehashing of their past, but this is what I was expecting. Yes, it could be called a ballad, but it's got heart and melody to go along with Michael Romeo's guitar prowess. Russell Allen sounds great singing cleanly here, and the hook is actually strong, so this is a clear winner.
Stryper - Yahweh
Since coming back, Styper has been getting heavier, which you would think is a good thing. But in their case, it's not what they're good at, so it doesn't always work out. Michael Sweet is oversinging throughout this song, and the chorus is a weak, lame choir chanting the title. It's not melodically interesting in the slightest. I'll still listen to the album, and presumably review it, but this isn't getting me excited.
Riverside - Discard Your Fear
I know Riverside is considered one of the greatest modern prog bands, but I've never heard it. I liked "Anno Domini High Definition", but that's about it. Getting ready for their new album, the first track that has been released is.... incredibly slow. It's a very sleepy, dream-like song that has very little energy to get you interested. That said, it does have a cool bit of bass at the beginning, and the main melody is soothing and enjoyable. It's a good song, but an odd choice to be the first impression of the record. I'm hoping there's some more energy on the rest of the songs.