Posts Tagged ‘As Cities Burn’

2009 was another banner year for new albums. Bands from all different genres of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal released good albums this year and I was on the frontlines buying them up as they were released. Of course there were some bad albums too. I acquired more new releases in 2009 than I have any other year that Heavy Metal Addiction has been active so there were bound to be some bad ones in the pile. Last year I got a lot of email about my decision to call this the “Worst” albums, some people thought that was too negative. My feeling is that no matter if the album is a major disappointment because you were looking forward to it so much, or the album is just plain awful from the packaging to the production to the performance, then it qualifies under the heading of “Worst”. Of all the albums I picked up some releases were just plain bad, some were huge disappointments, some I just couldn’t stand…..so here is my list of The 5 Worst Albums of 2009:

#1

Lita Ford – Wicked Wonderland (2009): This had to be the easiest pick for the absolute worst album of 2009! Just one listen was all it took for me but I made the mistake of listening to it twice, even three times. WICKED WONDERLAND was supposed to be Lita’s big comeback but it turned out to be the worst album I have ever heard her release. Gone is the Melodic Metal sound that made her career and now we have this down-tuned Industrial drone full of sexually specific lyrics about her marriage to former Nitro singer Jim Gillette. I’m all for changing styles, for trying to be current, but WICKED WONDERLAND is a complete opposite of everything that Lita Ford has released previously. Of all the albums I have heard in the last four years of this website, this is by far the worst of them all. A wasted comeback.

#2

As Cities Burn – Hell Or High Water (2009): If Lita Ford didn’t release WICKED WONDERLAND then As Cities Burn would be the winners of the worst album of the year. Actually, I almost moved Lita to #2 and this album up because at least Lita attempted something Metal. The press releases for HELL OR HIGH WATER billed the album as an Christian Indie Progressive Rock album so I figured that there would be something worth listening to, I like Prog Rock & Metal and Christian Rock & Metal. Unfortunately, there was nothing really “Rock” about this album. This was like bad, whining, mellow Smashing Pumpkins and that’s being kind. I listened to this album exactly 10 times to find anything redeeming and I fell asleep 2 or 3 times…..probably the most boring album of my 2009!

#3

The Gathering – The West Pole (2009): My hopes were high for a band that I have been following since 1997 and I figured a change at the lead vocalist position would add some spark. Unfortunately there wasn’t much spark after all. New singer Silje Wergeland is excellent vocally, and the band still performs well, but the material is monotonous and boring…..all the songs started to sound the same. This technically wasn’t a bad album I guess, more of a major disappointment and there were definitely a ton of better albums out there this year.

#4

Lacuna Coil – Shallow Life (2009): I wasn’t going to put Lacuna Coil on this list but I gave this a fresh listen the other day and I remembered why I had them on my initial draft. I’ve been into Lacuna Coil since 1998 when they released their first E.P. so I like to think that I have an idea of how they sound. Over the years the band has progressed in their sound and songwriting but SHALLOW LIFE didn’t have that progression I had hoped for, it all sounded the same and just like their last few albums. Lacuna Coil were the leaders of the Gothic Metal movement but there are other bands experimenting with their sound and doing it better. This was a major disappointment for me because I was really looking forward to it.

#5

Sepultura – A-Lex (2009): The last spot on my Worst of 2009 list had a lot of contention and I narrowed it down to 3 candidates: Sepultura, Bon Jovi and Chickenfoot. I went back and listened to all three albums and tried to find any tracks that would gain my attention and, unfortunately for Sepultura, A-LEX bored me to tears. Now I know that there are a lot of people out there who disagreed with my review back in March (I had a lot of email!) but I have to go with my gut response and I was just bored. The album is based on the novel A Clockwork Orange and that didn’t help me out either, it was just another boring concept album to me with all the songs sounding the same. I like a lot of the bands earlier work and I gave A-LEX a lot of stereo time to make sure that I was paying attention but I was just disappointed that nothing really stood out. At least Bon Jovi & Chickenfoot had a few songs that stood out even though both releases were disappointing too.

AsCitiesBurn-HellorHighWater

As Cities Burn – Hell Or High Water (2009, Tooth & Nail)

  1. ’84 Sheepdog
  2. Errand Rum
  3. Into The Sea
  4. Made Too Pretty
  5. Lady Blue
  6. Petty
  7. Daughter
  8. Pirate Blues
  9. Capo

Band Lineup:
Cody Bonnette – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keys
Colin Kimble – bass, guitars, backup vocals
Aaron Lunsford – drums, percussion
Chris Lott – lead guitar
 
Produced by: Tyler Orr & Cody Bonnette

Total Time = 38:14

As Cities Burn MySpace page
Tooth & Nail Records

2009 has been a great year so far for Hard Rock & Heavy Metal new releases but there is always a few albums that cross my desk that are awful and a waste of my time. The first suspect of 2009? HELL OR HIGH WATER by Christian Indie Progressive Rock band As Cities Burn.

I got this album a couple months ago for review and I put it in the pile because I have a massive backlog of promos but I read the press release and the band sounded interesting. Tooth & Nail Records is home to the popular Metalcore band Underoath so I figured that As Cities Burn would have some sort of Metal slant to their music. The album cover looked promising although a bit different but you should never judge an album by it’s cover!

As Cities Burn plays a very mellow brand of Indie Rock that I would here on my local Indie rock station instead of my local Rock station. There is nothing hard, heavy or fast to the music, it’s more ambient (not in a Gothic Metal style) and mellow. Lead vocalist & guitarist Cody Bonnette sounds very whiney and subdued with no display of vocal range or ability, kind of like a younger Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins). The music itself sounded primarily the same over the entire album, the sound effects were distracting and the performances were boring. On the positive side….the production was crystal clear and there is a bit of melody in the songs. I liked the middle section of ‘Lady Blue’ but that’s it.

Bottom Line:
I’ve played this album at least 10 times to try and find something interesting or something that relates to what this website is about: Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. I didn’t find anything worthwhile, what I got was the most boring 10 spins I’ve ever listened to (and I really listened). The album is so mellow and boring that I actually fell asleep a couple of times and had to go back! There is nothing Metal here, nothing Hard but fans of Indie Rock will eat this up I’m sure. There is crossover Pop Rock appeal to the music so I’m sure that Indie rock stations will pick this up. This type of Indie Rock music gets played all the time at the record store I shop at weekly and I am always annoyed when I hear it. There is good interesting Indie stuff out there but HELL OR HIGH WATER is just boring. If you like Smashing Pumpkins with an Indie/Punk flavor then this is for you. If you are looking for any piece of Metal or Hard Rock…..avoid this album! This is my lead candidate for the worst album of 2009.

Favorite Songs: none

I’m trying to catch up on a lot of listening to some of the newer releases that I haven’t gotten to yet but having the collection organized has been a challenge. Everytime I grab an album to put into the Collectorz cataloging software or iTunes, I find another that I haven’t heard in a long time! Then I find a band I forgot about and I pull out all of their albums! Will it ever end?

UFO – The Visitor (2009): This hasn’t left my rotation since I got the advance from SPV a few weeks ago and I don’t think it’s going to leave anytime soon. One of the best albums of the year for me.

Saxon – Into The Labyrinth (2009): I had the advance in December and I haven’t put it down yet…..album of the year for me but UFO is challenging!

Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens – Play My Game (2009): A great comeback for the Ripper, its good to hear him doing his own thing and not being a hired hand. I like the Iced Earth and Malmsteen albums but I think Ripper has to make a mark with his solo career or Beyond Fear.

Beyond Fear – s/t (2006): More of Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens doing his own thing instead of being a hired frontman. I listened to the album and realized that this was easily one of the best pieces of work Owens has produced. It hasn’t grown stale since it’s release, it still sounds feash and I think that’s because Ripper had the control.

Chickenfoot – s/t (2009): Sammy Hagar & Michael Anthony…..that’s enough to sell me on this album but then you add Joe Satriani and Chad Smith. This isn’t Van Halen, solo Hagar or a Red Hot Chili Pepper thing, this is an actual new band with some good Hard Rocks songs from solid performers. So far it’s better than I thought.

As Cities Burn – Hell Or High Water (2009): One of the worst albums I’ve heard so far this year! The album cover screams Metal but As Cities Burn is a Christian Rock/Indie/Progressive/Modern Rock band and there is just nothing heavy or hard to the music. It sounds too much like what is already clogging Rock radio: mainstream modern Rock with no substance. I wanted to give this another chance but it was a tough listen.

Joe Lynn Turner – Rescue You (1985): JLT’s first solo album after Ritchie Blackmore ended Rainbow. I haven’t listened to this in years and I just got the CD in from a nice seller on Ebay.

Iron Maiden – (various albums): Basically I pulled out all my Maiden albums and started spinning them on the stereo. At work, I put the iPod on “shuffle” and listened to Maiden out of order and had some cool playlists. The new DVD documentary and live CD, FLIGHT 666, come out Tuesday and I want to be ready!

AC/DC – Back In Black (1980): I never pull out BACK IN BLACK because I can tune in to any Rock radio station in my local area and I guarantee I will hear the whole album by the end of the day! There’s nothing wrong with BACK IN BLACK, it’s just that I know it all by heart and it’s completely overplayed. So why is it in my current playlist? My 10 year old daughter loves the album and she absolutley begs me to play it! At least she knows about good music!

The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed (1969): I’ve always been a Stones fan and LET IT BLEED has been my favorite Stones record for a long time. I heard ‘Monkey Man’ on one of the radio stations as a “deep track” and I pulled the album out as soon as I got home!