Cold Summer – Fight To Survive EP Review

Cold Summer
Cold Summer (Photo taken from their official Facebook page)

Hardcore music is synonymous with a theory along the lines of ‘the world is fucked but if stick together we’ll be just fine’ motivating people to feel together and enjoy their time in the world of hardcore music – Writes Darren Hardie. Cold Summer echo this sentiment exactly throughout this entire EP where the lyrics include “We live our lives just to die” from Car Crash (In Progress). However,  there is an underlying theme of positivity that also comes out of this EP to help all those apathetic with the way their lives are going and give them something to shout along too.

Sticking with the hardcore theme, Cold Summer have maintained the DIY feel to there music that is evident from their previous work here but have not diverted very far from a safe post-hardcore formula of songwriting. However, that is not necessarily a bad thing. The vocal interplay between the rougher and more melodic clean vocals is reminiscent on Alexisonfire with the clean vocals especially sounding very similar to early Biffy Clyro records.

Art work for Fight To Survive

This record is not all pure post-hardcore however and the best moments of the EP come when the influence of bands such as Funeral For A Friend come to the fore in moments such as lead single A Time Imagination Forgot To Inspire and 5th track Waiting. Both of these tracks give the listener an interesting journey and a unique take on post-hardcore music which focuses much more on melody and is a welcome change in a genre becoming over saturated and could soon see the band reach never before seen heights.

Although this a promising release which will hopefully see Cold Summer grow as a band in the coming months, some of the ideas on the record are often repeated and so can occasionally be forgettable but if the band keep on this path they will see their stock continue to rise with more and more rewards.

You can listen to Fight to Survive and purchase it here.

7/10 – A lot of potential, great lyric writing and vocal interplay, occasionally could use some fresh ideas

Album Highlight: A Time Imagination Forgot To Inspire

One to watch out for: City of Lights

City Of Lights
City of Lights (photo from their official Facebook page)

Acoustic driven rock band City of Lights are certainly a band to watch out for in the future as the Leeds based lads are ‘writing all the time’. Originally formed in Paris, 2011, the band came about when guitarist and lead vocalist Matt Dunwell decided to create their own brand of honest rock-pop with former drummer Sean Howey. When the duo pulled in Sean’s brother Ashley to play bass and handle backing vocals, the enterprising crew undertook over a year’s worth of rigorous rehearsals and shows throughout the UK to help shape their sound.

Lead guitarist Alex Humphreys then joined before current drummer Ben Freer took over Sean’s role. Ashley is currently with the band now despite his brother going separate ways and they took some time out of their busy schedule to talk to us – they said: ‘It’s exciting. It’s cool to see people support us and become part of our story while we do what we do.

‘It’s also cool to see that we have an influence both visually and sonically, the same way we were influenced before we found our sound and worked out who we are and what we’re about.

‘Everything is changing all the time around us so it’s always good to see how we impact when we release new material and new content.’

City of Lights currently have no official dates for any gigs this year however they are set to announce a few dates soon so you can keep up to date on their official website.

Last year saw the band release three singles in a mini EP titled Ready Aim Fire and you can watch the music video for Live it Up below from the EP.

The band produces a refreshing sound in their music which is easy listening for any fan of this genre and certainly sound similar to Snow Patrol.

City of Lights continued to reveal there is no set date for a next EP however they did hint there could be something near the end of the year – they continued: ‘We’re writing all the time but timing is everything so we’ve not set a date for the next EP yet.

‘People are still loving Ready, Aim, Fire so we’re taking our time and making sure the next EP raises the bar again and also lands at the right time.’

‘If people are feeling and experiencing what we’re writing about, they relate to it better and that puts the final piece in the jigsaw for us. Without committing to a release date, mid-to-backend of the year there could be a something…’

The lads played at Reading & Leeds festival three years ago and have played a number of big venues and have featured at a number O2 Academy’s in the country. The lads then explained that they would love to get out to other countries to share their music – he said: ‘Yeah we’ve been lucky enough Reading & Leeds Festival which was huge and we’ve played pretty much all the legendary venues in the country which has been amazing.

‘We hope to get out to other countries again to play some more shows and experience different scenes and gig cultures but touring is expensive for an unsigned band.

‘As for the next big step, we’re actively looking for the right booking agent or management company to step things up a gear as we’ve self funded and self managed from day one.’

City of Lights released their second album back in 2014 titled Live and Learnthis was a huge deal for the boys. Finally four-piece went on to thank  fans for what they have done for them and stated that they wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for them – he said: ‘Thank you for taking the time to listen to City of Lights. Thank you for being a part of what we do and thank you for caring.

‘It’s cliche and we know every band ever says it, but it gets said for a reason: we wouldn’t be a band without our fans.

‘They keep us grounded, focused and they keep us pushing forward. We’re all about the fans.

We change up our live set all the time to make sure they’re getting something new every time they come to our show. We try to be that band that even the bar staff talk about.’

Make sure you follow City of Lights on Facebook and Twitter for further updates and to interact with the lads.

You can watch Here, Alive below which is also from the Ready Aim Fire EP.


51st State at Southampton’s Hobbit

51st State
51st State

Anarcho-Punk duo 51st State put on an awesome show at Southampton’s Hobbit on Friday night as the lads rocked the shit out of their set. I normally go to the Hobbit most Fridays and then for an alternative rock night at Lennons ‘District’ just up the road. And I often see bands play at the venue and once again I decided to take a look in the live music room.

There seems to be a common theme of great live bands performing at the Hobbit and 51st State were no exception. Lead singer and bass player Noah Burton really but in 110% throughout the show and drummer Justin Woods put in an impressive shift behind the kit which gave a really authentic punk sound. Unfortunately I only managed to catch their set on the night however Radioactive Bones and DJ Gonk were both on stage with the Somerset lads.

51st state 2
Lead singer and Bass player Noah Burton showing of his other skills

Formed in 2007, 51st State have released 7 CDs including a double disc anthology and have played hundreds of gigs around the UK. I know when I like a band straight away and these gave off that atmosphere that someone like me thrives on when enjoying live music with a beer or two. Despite this I didn’t realise the amount of history that these guys had and I was fascinated to read they have been on the same stage as hardcore punk band English Dogs in their past.

51st State play at Exeter’s Cavern on Thursday 14th April

You can listen to PaRaNoiD from 51st State below and check out their Facebook page for live news on gigs.

The band’s latest CD Live in Bridgwater, released in 2012, is currently available through the Riot Ska Records for a small fee of £2.00.



Introducing 3 By Design

3 by design pr 1

If you love your American radio rock then your new favourite band might have just been discovered in LA boys 3 By Design – Writes Darren Hardie. Formed by long term friends Frank Mullis (Bass) and Kevin Hecklin (Guitar), the band took shape in late 2014 when they completed the line up through Craigslist with vocalist Jon Goodhue and drummer Kent Diimmel joining the band.

With the line-up set in stone, the band immediately set to writing music and released their first EP Under The Surface independently last year and began making a name for themselves around the LA rock scene.

Listen to Shelter from 3 By Design’s first EP Under The Surface below.

Blending catchy as hell riffs with roaring vocals they began creating a buzz in the underground and even went on to share stages with big rock acts such as Puddle of Mudd and 36 Crazyfists before setting to work on their next EP.


Enemy EP released on 2nd May

Enemy, out 2nd May, see’s the bands hard rock sound grow even further with the influence from bands such as Alter Bridge and Shinedown being strongly heard but there is also a node to bands of the past such as Fleetwood Mac giving the band an energy that could see them make an impact on the American radio rock scene. Enemy, led by single Man At The Wheel (out April 12th), see’s the bands roaring riffs get even more catchy as well as showcasing Jon’s incredible voice which is akin to that of Myles Kennedy, which leaves him in great company. Enemy is sure to see the band grow much more popular in the year to come so don’t waste anytime, check them out now!

3 By Design will be playing at LA’s Boardner’s on Thursday 21st April before another show just two days later at Lander’s Brew Co where there will be special festival called Desert Moon MetalFest. You can listen to new single Man At The Wheel on April 12th and be sure to check out the new EP Enemy when it arrives next month!

Check out Dapper Darren, he’s pretty awesome!

Dapper Darren
Dapper Dapper  (photo taken from his official Twitter)

Poet/ singer-songwriter Dapper Darren really put’s his heart and soul into the music he produces and the best thing about it, he does it all on his own. Real name Darren O’Toole, the singer writes powerful lyrics and in a song called The Good Times Minus The Bad: The Regret Maths Equation, he really gives you an insight into his life. The backing track that is also recorded by Darren used in the song as well is as powerful as the lyrics and gives you goosebumps.

Darren revealed how it can be difficult for an up and coming singer such himself, especially being independent – he said: ‘It’s been up and down, everything I’ve done has been by myself, booking gigs, organising them and playing them, it makes it harder because it’s a lot more time consuming.

‘I’d like to release an EP but I’d need help with it, me on my own trying to out an EP together would be difficult.

‘No artist really inspires my tracks it’s just what I can do more than anything. I write, record and play all the music.’

The singer plays his first Irish show in June at Roscommon Arts Centre and although he revealed he is a little scared, he wants fans to have a laugh and like what they see – Darren continued and said: ‘My first Irish show in Roscommon is in June and it’s super scary but in so excited for it.

‘I hope people who come to my show mainly laugh but I want them to want to come to another show.’

You can purchase tickets for the Dapper Darren’s Video (&Pictures) Killed The Radio show here  and it will take place on 25th June.

Dapper Darren’s Debut Ireland Show

Check out the singer’s music on Soundcloud  or interact with him on Twitter  where he has a healthy amount of followers and fans of his epic music.

Review: Trivium at Kilmarnock Grand Hall

Trivium (Photo take from their official Facebook page)

Walking into the Kilmarnock Grand Hall is a strange experience for any modern day gig go-er – Writes Darren Hardie. Working as part of a palace complex in Kilmarnock, a town just outside of Glasgow, the Grand Hall represents an area more associated with the arts than a metal band who almost became one of the biggest bands in metal in Trivium. Touring latest album Silence In The Snow, Trivium are stopping by in cities and towns that don’t normally hold metal gigs and showing them what they are missing as Trivium bring a fire tonight that has not been seen from them live in a long time.

First up though is As Lions (7/10). Fronted by Austin Dickinson (ex Rise to Remain), they open the show on a more melodic front then what is to come and are embraced warmly by the crowd filling in. Despite only having one song available, The Fall, the band show a lot of potential and when the wait for new music finally ends, hopefully the wait will have definitely been worth it.

As Lions
As Lions post this picture of all three bands after the show (Photo by their official Facebook page)

Following this, Savage Messiah (6/10) don’t reach quite the same heights but are definitely somewhat enjoyable. If you’ve heard Iron Maiden then there is nothing new or innovative here but songs like Hellblazer have the crowd holding their horns high and leave an impression on those people who aren’t ready to give up on the 80’s just yet.

Both of these bands may have left with some new fans but it is quite evident from the moment Trivium (9/10) step on stage with the title of track of seventh album Silence In The Snow that there is only one real headliner here and they were flawless tonight. Playing with a fire that has not been seen live in them in some time they jump into Into The Mouth Of Hell We March and don’t look back treating the crowd with a set spanning the entire length of their career with some hidden gems thrown into the set. Watching the crowd collectively lose their minds to songs such as Insurrection, Watch The World Burn and Rain and you find yourself wondering why these tracks aren’t aired live more often.

As expected with any Trivium gig,the songs played from massive breakthrough album and quintessential metal classic Ascendancy get the best reactions of the night with songs such as the ruthless Like Light to Flies and the singalong anthem Dying In Your Arms turning Killie (Kilmarnock) into a fit of heavy metal fandom. New Songs from Silence In The Snow, an album that has received mixed reviews,  were played went down very well in the live setting with Dead and Gone and Until The World Goes Cold sounding huge in a live environment.

Despite this, it’s the songs played of the brilliant and vastly overlooked Shogun, the band’s 4th album, that steal the show tonight though. Sometimes it feels like the band don’t know themselves how good the material on Shogun is but the performance of the songs tonight and the crowd reaction to huge songs such as Down From The Sky and Throes Of Perdition are sure to show the bad themselves that they ought to give themselves more credit for an album that incredibly underrated.

The show began to come to an end when main set closer Pull Harder On The Strings of Your Martyr comes blasting out the speakers with Matt Heafy’s self confessed best friend, the aforementioned Austin Dickinson, taking over vocal duties and he treats it like an audition for the band as he gives the song all the effort it needs adding his expert melodies to the already huge chorus. In Waves ultimately brings the night to an end in a chaotic way with bodies flying everywhere and voices being lost screaming along to yet another brilliant chorus and that provides a fitting end to an incredible night. Trivium are back and we all could not be happier.

Set Highlight: Throes Of Perdition


April Fools Day – how the world of rock reacted

Beartooth pulled of a cheeky prank (photo from their official Facebook page)

Every year bands across the world try and fool their loyal fans into thinking on April Fools Day and today was no different with a number of bands taking part in the tradition.

It is a day that where fans try and resist to react to breaking news however sometimes it’s it’s just to hard not to.

Some are traditionally dark, some were actually disappointing that they wasn’t true and some were just damn right hilarious!

We start off with Metalcore band Beartooth who fooled most of their fans in thinking they were going to release a new single however in fact they just released a ‘Swingcore Jazz’ version of their 2014 hit Dead from their Disgusting album.


You can see what really got released below and to be honest I think it’s pretty catchy!

Speaking of dead, Utah band Artwork put up a slightly concerning Tweet today that the lead singer Sky Verdone died.

There was mixed reactions to this tweet as you can imagine however I think they just about got away with it.

Sky took it well however.

Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus however took a more laid back view a day before April Fools Day and jokingly said he’ll call the cops if anyone were to pull a prank on him.

Ska Punk Alternative band BAH RAM YOU meanwhile took a less mainstream approach to the day.

Kentucky Pop Punk band Before the Streetlights just simply made fun of the Taylor Swift’s Apple Music Ad and to be honest they had a point.

The pop singer was singing along to Jumpman by Drake and Future in a recent ad for the company before she supposedly tripped on the treadmill.

We hope everyone has enjoyed April Fools Day!


Neck Deep’s Ben Barlow explains Serpents song

Ben Barlow

In Neck Deep’s latest Best of Pop Punk playlist for Spotify, lead singer Ben Barlow explains the background behind their song Serpents.

The epic song was originally part the 2015 Life’s Not Out To Get You album  and has recently been released as a EP that includes Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus remixing both Serpents and Can’t Kick up the Roots along with their originals.

In a recent interview Ben talked about the inspirations he had for the single and said: ‘Serpents is a little bit different and definitely a darker vibe I guess you could say.

‘Originally the bones of the song were given to us by Tom Denney (former A Day To Remember guitarist) – he had this idea just kind of sitting round that he hadn’t used and gave it to us.

‘We had to play around with the structure a little bit, I remember the structure being kind of difficult at first but yeah we kind of decided straight away that should try and make it full of imagery and all that sort of stuff.’

It is no coincidence that Tom Denney was involved with the album as A Day To Remember’s Jeremy McKinnon produced and helped wrote the songs as well as producer Andrew Wade.

The welsh pop punk star continued to talk about how the lyrics came about and what inspired the band and said: ‘Lyrically I guess it was inspired by a video game, me and Fil (Thorpe-Evans, bass player) played a game called PT Demo which was a demo for the new Silent Hill game.

Silent Hill P.T. Demo inspired Neck Deep for Serpents

‘We just heard it was super scary so we decided to put our nappies on and give it a go.

‘The whole game is about this women and she’s obviously dead and you have to find who’s killed her and what happened to her and all that sort of stuff and there is a load of creepy imagery in there.

‘The first lyric of the song or at least the first verse ‘A dark face in a corridor
Deceptively beautiful, She’s watching you’ was really inspired by the video game and it kind of just rolled on from there.

‘I took some of my own personal experiences and yeah tried to write a song that sounded like it should be set in a haunted house.’

The lads started their European Tour in Paris two nights ago with Southampton band Creeper and fellow pop punk band WSTR.

WSTR (photo take from their official Facebook page)

All three bands will tour around the UK from April 16 where they will be heading to Southampton’s Guildhall.

A further three dates in Newcastle, Leeds and WSTR’s home city Liverpool will then take place.

Ben mentioned these bands and one more when he was asked if there is any new music that he’s been jamming too, he said: ‘So new music I would definitely recommend would be Creeper, WSTR and another band I have been listening to a lot lately is a band called Let it Happen – they’re from the states.

‘If were to recommend any three bands it would be those guys, that’s all the new music I’ve been listening to.

‘Other than I listen to the same music I been listening to in the past 10 years – not much has changed there.

That music being fellow pop punk band  Blink 182 and the Neck Deep front man continued to talk about how they influenced them – he said: ‘We were massively inspired by Blink 182, I think if anything they’re probably at least mine, probably Fil’s and maybe Sam’s (Bowden, guitarist) too.

‘Probably our biggest influences just generally musically, you know they’re the band that really did define music for me.

‘When I was a kid listening to Blink (182) and I don’t know it just seemed like they didn’t really care about being immature but at the same side still a little bit of a serious side to them to an 8 year old me that kind of just appealed to me.

‘Music to that kind of era generally like Sum 41, Good Charlotte and Green Day, they were some bands that I really enjoyed growing up.

‘My brother was a huge skate punk, when I was a kid I just remember him walking around with green hair just skating all the time constantly listening to his favourite band Bad Religion but he was the one that showed me (Green Day’s) Dookie for the first time and I remember that vividly.

‘I think I was just brought up well and I just spent my days sat in front of the TV and just flicking through the music files and just trying to find new music I can jam out to.’

You can watch Neck Deep’s acoustic cover of Fall Out Boy’s Grand Theft Autumn taken from a fan’s point of view below.


EP Review: Grader – Wholly

Grader (photo taken from their official Facebook page)

Having gained some publicity and a new wave of fans following their tour with Creeper, Grader are a band on the lips of many rock fans. Writes Darren Hardie.

Formed in 2008, Wholly is the first Grader release in three years following the 2013 release of Underheaven and we see that the band have grown in terms of song writing ability. Grader have embraced the hardcore community all the while creating music made to evolve and expand their beloved genre and this continues on Wholly as it further explains that Grader are not your ordinary hardcore band and this is largely down to the enigmatic vocals of front-man Liam Mason.

Sounding more like Tom Waits than Henry Rollins, Mason creates an entire new sound due to his incredibly believable and emotional wails and this is evident right away on opening track Feel This Low. The song opens with a slow but powerful build led by Liam’s vocals and then kicks into a more hardcore based sound you would expect from their previous work. It is the next track, Love in Pounds and Ounces, however, where we see Grader enter more unknown territory and try to evolve their hardcore sound. Opening with a pop punk-like guitar line, this is the sound of evolution and if Grader keep writing songs like this a bright future lies ahead.

Album artwork for Wholly

Despite this, the highlight of the album lies in the following track titled No Secrets. Launching straight out of the speakers, No Secrets’ expertly written melodic chorus will be stuck in your head for hours after listening and having you coming back for more, only to realise it gets better and better every time you listen. This song best describes what it is that Grader are trying to create and is convincingly the highlight of the EP, we just have to hope that Grader don’t remain a secret for much longer.

Album closer, Wilt, sees the rhythm section of the band take over and provide more than brilliant support to Mason’s majestic voice and also brings an appearance from Creeper’s Will Gould who brings his haunting style to Grader’s short but immensely emotional ride and proves to be an excellent closing track for this brilliantly crafted piece of art.

8/10 – A brilliantly crafted album with an incredibly talented vocalist, although you still get the feeling there is more to come.

Album Highlight – No Secrets

You can listen to Grader’s Wholly here however the EP is not officially released until 2nd August.

Deaf Havana sign new deal announce new album

Deaf Havana, photo taken from official Facebook page.

Alternative rock band Deaf Havana has signed a deal with SO Records and will be recording a new album in the summer.

The lads from Kings Lynn are currently making waves in the music industry and from a previous encounter with the band I had while they was doing  a DJ set at one of Southampton’s District nights, it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of lads.

The album will be produced by Adam Noble through the epic record label that brings you Dinosaur Pile-Up,  Fenech-Soler, Demob Happy and Broken Hand.

You listen to Deaf Havana’s latest single Cassiopeia below.

It’s been over two years since the band released Old Souls and lead singer James Veck-Gilodi are set for another massive year ahead.

The band are set to play Leicester’s Hand Made Festival in April before playing at Glasgow’s Stag & Dagger in May.

They then will go international as Deaf Havana has recently been announced at Switzerland’s Greenfield Festival over June.

This is really exciting times for Deaf Havana fans I am sure you will hear lots more news about the new help through their Twitter page!


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