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Album Reviews

Psycle : Surfaces

Blacktop Mojo : Burn the Ships

Blacktop Mojo : Burn the Ships



Psycle is a high energy four-piece rock band based out of Providence, Rhode Island, with a passion for great rock and live performance. Their latest EP “Surfaces” is a four track journey across the scope of rock and roll that showcases the range of the band as a whole and the path carved out as individuals.
This EP screams and begs to be performed live with every note and every sound. The members are big on creating music that translates beyond the studio with the same fervor that inspired them to create in the first place. This fact is especially evident in the clean and honest vocals of Seth Salois the band's front-man. His fierce vocal delivery gains the listener's attention immediately, regardless, if you are hearing him for the first time or are a returning fan.
With lyrical magic on every track, Seth is adept and spins a story that everyone can relate to and is memorable. In the day and age of vocal manipulation, the refreshing part of Seth's performance and style is that you can expect to hear the same thing when you see them live and watch every word and sound performed with skill.

From the empowering message in “Face The Fire” to the rolling and wide-ranging “The Road I'm On” , shred master Joe Nicolazzo trades licks with Seth and navigates the entire rock genre with twists and turns of a truly motivated soul.

The band's madman on the skins is JaySpyne. Jay is a fountain of precision and timing worthy of a Swiss watchmaker. Jay carefully sections out each part of each song with skill and nuance at every percussive turn. His performance on “Break” has me “Air-Drumming” every time!
Bassist Mike Kaz, adds just the right elements to form one hell of a backbone and steps out big on the bass-driven track “Long Way Down”, proving that he is no slacker and worthy of the ruling class in the world of bass.

All in all, this EP reflects a group that is passionate about their craft and their fans. It is sure to become a classic and is currently a beacon of things to come from one of the Eastcoast's finest rock acts.

~ Shamas Maximus

Blacktop Mojo : Burn the Ships

Blacktop Mojo : Burn the Ships

Blacktop Mojo : Burn the Ships



The newest release from Blacktop Mojo is built on a foundation of insight that reaches well beyond the years of the members who make up the band. In short; these guys are way ahead of their time. There is a well of talent, breadth of style, and influence infused into every song.

“Burn the Ships” releases on March 10th, and I had the pleasure of getting an early copy.

So, let's break it down.

The title, “Burn The Ships,” is a historical reference to the conquistador, Cortez, and references making a stand and facing the fight, knowing there’s no turningback, and being fully committed to that realization.

The whole album feels like the work of a fully seasoned touring band. The attention to and placement of all of the little details reveal the skill and experience of a band who has been writing and doing shows for 20 years with the same lineup. The thing is, Blacktop Mojo’s only been at it for  five.

The mesh and weave of the band members become clearly evident on this album. The epic nature of songs like “Prodigal,” a song which not only plays but feels like its author languished a hundred years to get the inspiration for the lyrics.

Songs like “Sweat” display the laborious journey of not only making a record but of life's struggles. That journey is translated into music and fortified by grunge backbones that we, the listeners, can all understand. Blacktop Mojo gives us a music with far-reaching tentacles able to touch every node, invoking emotion and offering inspiration.

As an album, “Burn The Ships” is truly the work of a like-minded, harmonious, and talented group of musicians who make it obvious that they love their craft. The sync and style of the music are refreshing and on point. 

With songs like “End of Days” and “8000 Lines,” Blacktop Mojo glides with ease across the generational canvas of rock and roll. Their respect for what each member contributes is apparent and seems a part of what brings every moment and every mood to life. And, that’s just it, the album feels alive.

I admit with no shame that this album has been on repeat day after day. It is the kind of album that you will be able to listen to over and over again. Not just in the early days of ownership but in ten years, in twenty years.

Blacktop Mojo's release of “Burn The Ships” is a worthy culmination of the blood, sweat, and tears of five amazing musicians on a mission to bring passion back to rock and roll. It has quickly convinced me that this is the first "Must-Have" album of 2017

  •   ~Shamas Maximus

Zero Theorem - Ataraxis

Blacktop Mojo : Burn the Ships

Zero Theorem - Ataraxis



In a purposeful drift, between the pathways of hard rock and metal, Zero Theorem is slicing their way, in a ninja-like show of laser focus through the highways and byways of killer rock.

Their forthcoming EP, Ataraxis, is a bountiful haven of excellence in entertaining, energizing and perfectly performed rock.

The EP was produced by the amazing Kane Churko, who is known for his work with Five Finger Death Punch, In This Moment and Papa Roach.

The first release “Area” rips onto the scene with nuances of everything that is great about hard rock and metal.
The track is an excellent showcase of the range of Caesar's vocal capabilities, as well as, the passion he puts into the delivery and creation of his lyrics.

The band does not rely on passion alone, all members are intelligent thinkers who understand the balance of professionalism juxtaposed to a lighthearted self-image.

Max is a maniacal shredding genius who also happens to understand the depths of rhythmic and often flowing changeups with nodes of progressive influence.

Eloy and Jake create a structure like no other in a bounding display of solidarity, skill, and teamwork. Astounding on every track, and hits a personal favorite peak on the track “Rorschach”, truly a march of perfection.

This EP will not disappoint rock and metal fans alike. With so much depth packed into each song, it is evident that we will see much more from Zero Theorem for years to come

The EP drops May 4th make sure you get your very own copy. These guys are the real deal, and Ataraxis will take you to a place of blissful rock 'n roll euphoria.

​Shamas Maximus

Kaleido – Experience

Darkness; Ending - Unkindness of Ravens

Zero Theorem - Ataraxis



On May 19th an album will be released like no other in recent memory. After listening to the album over and over again I am still at a loss for which song is my favorite. I am finding it very enjoyable, and keep returning to, the Detroit-based, Kaleido's upcoming release, Experience.

Christina Chriss is filled with so much talent in not only her vocal skills but in the delivery, meter, and lyrical content. She exudes a powerhouse female front persona the likes we have not seen since the early days of No Doubt or the power of Shirley Manson of Garbage, and the rest of the band floats across the scales in the fashion of 311, Sublime, and even hints of Mother Love Bone.

Joey Fava on drums and Cody Morales on bass lay down a stellar backbone framework of pure driving rock and roll. Some of the tracks have a distinct southern California vibe, in the vein of Incubus and Red Hot Chili Peppers, with a modern hard driving feel. Truly, a talented duo who work well off each other and that feeds into how well the rest of the band come together as one as evidenced by their latest single “Die Tryin'”

Ronnie Rosolino and Zach Bolling on guitars scream across some tracks like “Blue Collar Delight”, while meticulously weaving in and out of the backbone on others like “Trouble In Paradise”.
As a band, the members of Kaleido are very in tune with what they want to accomplish, very comfortable with their sound. This maiden voyage is a genre masterpiece that will definitely stand alone as a unique, refreshing piece of 2017 rock and roll album history. While bands like this are rare to come around. I have a feeling they will be around for years to come.

 ~Shamas Maximus

Messer (Self Titled)

Darkness; Ending - Unkindness of Ravens

Darkness; Ending - Unkindness of Ravens



From the first listen of Messer's self-titled debut album, it is apparent that these guys have a long legacy in the making.

The first track, “Make This Life”, is an anthem for taking hold of one's own destiny and Messer is certainly grabbing the rock 'n roll bull by the horns. The melodic march of the tune is, to say the least, infectious.

Dereak's vocal range is amazing, with the ability to scream rock at you or finesse the runs of a ballad, he can do it all. This contrast is well noted when going from the blistering vocals of “Simple Man” to the pitch-perfect vocal delivery of “Lay Down Your Heart”. A ballad destined to become legend.

Maddox and Kenn, on bass and drums respectively, lay down a titanium backbone, weaving in and out with precise contributions as team members, while pulling off stand out performances as individuals. This is especially obvious on tracks like “Save Myself” and “Everything Beautiful”.

Dual ax-men Donnie and Javier navigate each song with Swiss timing. The guitar work on this album, by itself, is amazingly diverse, but when contributed to the rest of the band's work, it shows how well these two understand the meter and the measure of great rock 'n roll. They rock every track without exception.

This eleven track masterpiece shows the depth and charisma of seasoned veterans in a band that, is bursting at the seams with talent. Incredible beyond belief, that it is their debut album. The album was mastered by Tom Baker (Papa Roach, David Bowie, Motley Crue) and mixed by Ben Grosse (Manson, Breaking Benjamin, Disturbed) and comes out April 20th.

This album joins the history of great albums of  2018 and is a must-have for any self-respecting rocker.

Shamas Maximus

Darkness; Ending - Unkindness of Ravens

Darkness; Ending - Unkindness of Ravens

Darkness; Ending - Unkindness of Ravens


 You know that feeling you get... when you hear gritty rock and roll... when the distortion rings as the first lick on the strings of a guitar rings out.  Unkindness of Ravens, it's like that.

That was my constant state of existence while listening to this album. These guys have so much going on in their music, nothing is arbitrary , every sound... every note... is intentional and belongs right where they left it.

I have often said that newer artists need not be afraid to do an instrumental.. an intro or play with atmospheric measures. Darkness Ending in this regard are bold; brazen and refreshingly welcome to my ears. Every track is a journey of music with milestones of influence and skill, and they manage to make even the most mellow track feel heavy , riffs dripping with the tone and feel that tug at every rock and roller.

Darkness; Ending is definitely a rock and roller's band Bobby, Greg, Kevin, and Brandon hail from Austin Texas and you can tell they have absorbed all ,that is, one of the hottest music scenes in the U.S.

 The ethereal "Machination" is something I have missed from the 70's and 80's rock that got lost in today's translation of rock and metal. Darkness Ending make it new , like experiencing it for the first time all over again

It is easy to tell that these guys are as much in tune with each other as they are their instruments. The cohesive nature of the album would be nearly unattainable otherwise.from songs like "Telling Stories To the Dead" where even the clean opening riffs are addictive, to the Grungy heaviness of "Better Than Me" in a perfect storm of the drums and bass backbone.

Their newest single "Bullhead" is a melting pot of style and finesse in a "Sabbath meets Zakk Wylde" collision of musical giants. If I were to try and compare them to a band or cite influences, the list could go on for days... so if you are wondering about their sound.. check them out.. they sound like Darkness; Ending! All in all a band and an album for the rocker in everyone! 

If you consider yourself a rocker,Unkindness of Ravens is an album to watch for. If you are in the Austin area check them out Dec 2nd at Texas Mist, a new permenant member of the #ROTRArmy ... Darkness; Ending 

~ Shamas Maximus