Brkn Love wrapped up their current tour this past weekend, including the penultimate stop at The Vogue in Indianapolis.
Brkn Love (฿ Ɽ ₭ ₦ ⱠØVɆ) has been on the road for the past few weeks supporting Badflower on an arc of shows that traversed a winding path, leading finally to the toe-stub stop in Broad Ripple on Saturday night. While lightning flared outside, Justin Benlolo and the band threw down their music with accustomed gusto to the swelling crowd.
My first time seeing Brkn Love was a couple years back at Aftershock in Sacramento. I was impressed by performance and the sound they put together. The music they play is hard-edged rock that sometimes gets labeled alternative. To me there is a classic vibe in it, updated and extended through the eccentricities and urgencies of the composers.
The tour has ended for now, so here are a few pictures to help remember the show at The Vogue. The follow-up to the band’s self-titled 2020 debut album can’t be too far away, and when it arrives it will be big news. Until then, stream the current single “Like A Drug” and think back to the last time you heard them play live.
Hard rock legends Scorpions have a new studio album out, Rock Believer.
I write a lot about the early days of my heavy music listening, but the hard rock avenue is one I have spoken less about. The three bands in this lane that meant the most to me back in the day where Judas Priest, Scorpions, and Thin Lizzy (they put out a couple of hard rock albums there in a row). Phil Lynott was lost first, and so Thin Lizzy. Judas Priest had a few rough years but they are still tearing up the stage today. Scorpions were more famous by far than the other two, and they had some killer albums I still listen to like Lovedrive (1979), Animal Magnetism (1980), and Blackout (1982). But really, it weas the earlier albums that made the biggest impression on me – Fly To The Rainbow (1974), In Trance (1975), Virgin Killer (1976), and especially Taken By Force (1977). I even have affection for the sometimes-maligned Lonesome Crow (1972). These first few albums were raw, drawn straight from the core of the musicians’ hard rock hive. The later albums are more polished and, as time went on, they became increasingly designed for a broader audience. To me, every album, all nineteen of them, sound like Scorpions music, and on that level I like them all.
After the mega-hits and mega-stardom, the world at large heard less and less about Scorpions music, but fans could tell you that the band continued to produce albums on a regular, but less frequent, cycle all the way through. It has been seven years since Return To Forever, so the universe is more than ready for Rock Believer.
The line-up is Rudolf Schenker (guitar, backing vocals), Klaus Meine (vocals), Matthias Jabs (guitar), Paweł Mąciwoda (bass), and Mikkey Dee (drums). Schenker and Meine, of course, go back to the earliest days, and Jabs has been there since the seventies. Mąciwoda seems almost like a newcomer, even though he has played with the band for nearly two decades. Legendary drummer Mikkey Dee joined a few years back after Lemmy’s passing saw the end of Motörhead. A formidable group of musicians if ever there was one.
As soon as the needle drops on “Gas In The Tank” you know you have stepped into Scorpions world. Layered guitars, catchy melodies, sharp leads, and the unmistakable voice of Klaus Meine, sounding fantastic. “Roots In My Boots” has the raw energy so much in evidence on the Blackout album, updated and refined, while “Knock ’em Dead” is a new creature altogether. There is a lot going on with the new album.
The singles released in advance of the album were the title track and “Peacemaker.” Fans have probably heard these already. The album overall leans a little more toward the “Peacemaker” kind of song with all its raucous energy. There are a few introspective, rock-ballad-type songs (and passages within songs) that serve to balance the music out – something that Scorpions have always been expert at achieving.
Nineteen is a lot of albums, but fans will always clamor for more. This one is a very good one. Recommended.
Rock Believer is out now through Spinefarm Records. You can get it everywhere. Check out the links below, and look for the deluxe edition with additional songs.
The first full-length album from Saul is a stab at the heart of mediocrity that rises above the tide of ordinary heavy music.
This band from Iowa is Blake Bedsaul (vocals), Zach Bedsaul (guitar), William McIlravy (bass), and Myles Clayborne (drums). Their EP Aeons (2019) received a lot of attention, propelled by the success of the single “Brother.” Their music has a harder edge than Pop Metal and more melodic passages than you might expect from heavy music. Punchy, sawblade guitar riffs and forceful vocals are the hallmark, interspersed with lyrical moments. The songs are typically about experiences of people as opposed to dark or fantasy concepts. Breaking Benjamin might be a starting point for reference, but Saul’s music has a sharper edge and a fuller sound. There are other comparisons, too, but listen to Saul directly if you really want to know what they are like.
The album has fourteen songs all running at radio length and each one a separate success. The opener is “Trial By Fire,” which was released earlier as a single. It is clearly a crowd pleasing live anthem, cracking out with a snapping riff that has a clever bend to it then proceeding on to a sing-along chorus that will resonate with fans. In fact, every song sounds like a single – meaning that they are all tight and constructed for maximum impact. There is no meandering anywhere on the album. Take “King of Misery,” which starts out at a slower tempo than many of the other songs, but the rock solid guitars are there and the execution of the vocals as the centerpiece to the composition is spot-on. The title track is another stand-out piece, and for me, and “The Toll” is maybe my favorite on the album for its pulsing rhythm and penetrating message.
I saw Saul perform on a livestream with Clutch, Crowbar, and Blacktop Mojo a couple months back and their set really stood out. I have been waiting for this album to come out ever since, anticipating something big. The band absolutely delivered. Rise As Equals is even better than I expected. Highly recommended.
You can get the full album this Friday, October 23rd from Spinefarm Records. The quick buy is through Amazon Music for the download, with the physical versions widely available. The Saul Shop link below is a good path to follow if you are in a buying mood.