This summer has seen not just a slowdown in terms of the number of albums coming our way, but also the number of big singles coming out to promote the fall slate of huge releases. With September fast approaching, that is starting to change, so now is a good time to take a look at the teaser's we've been given, and look ahead to what they means for the whole albums.
Metallica - Hardwired
Let's start with the big one. Metallica is back for the first time in eight years, and the result is.... meh. Sorry, but a three minute track with one passable riff in it is not going to get me excited. James' lyrics are once again grade school level, and there isn't a groove or a hook in there that reminds me of the good ol' days. It's been said that it was a last minute song thrown together for the sake of having a short and snappy number on the record, and it sounds like it. It's under-developed, weak, and showcases a production that once again is not up to snuff. Worse, the length of this track means that the rest of the album is due to average seven minutes a track. Ugh.
Green Day - Bang Bang
Green Day's last outing, the triple album disaster, showed that they needed to back off the ambition and focus on writing one album's worth of good material, before that started plotting world domination. This track, however, is not that. It has the right punk attitude in the early riffing, calling back to "American Idiot", but while the subject matter is heady (for a mainstream band), it's the song itself that lets us down. Green Day was always able to get away with their lyrical ambitions (high and low) because they wrapped them up in punky pop songs. They've embraced the modern pop sound here, which means there isn't a hook to be found. The chorus is as flat and flaccid as can be, which makes me think they have yet to hit the bottom of the barrel.
Sum41 - War
Here's a blast from the past. Shockingly, after all the turmoil that the band has gone through, as well as the fact that few realize they still exist, they've come back with a damn solid song. In fact, the song released before this one was really good as well, which gives me pause. Is Sum41 a good band now? I don't know yet, but I know that this ballad, while an odd choice for a leadoff single, is a well-crafted bit of soft rock with a good sound, and a solid hook. It shows a band that has grown into adulthood, finally, and hopefully signals that the upcoming album is going to be the big statement they need.
In Flames - The End
Is there anything we can say about In Flames at this point? I was actually a defender of their modern sound, including thinking that "Sounds Of A Playground Fading" was a very good record. I couldn't defent their last outing, and this new song splits the difference. It's as slick and mainstream as anything they've ever done, but it lacks the bite that their best mainstream songs have always had. Anders can write and sing a good melody, but like the last album, this one isn't capturing my attention at all. They have the right idea, but the wrong execution. We all know the album is going to get savaged by the old fans anyway, so there isn't really much point in going any further than saying that even in this configuration, In Flames has done better.