DRAWING ON SCARS – Single Review: “Pressure”

Drawing on Scars is an alternative rock music project based in Atlanta, Georgia. The creative brainchild of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Will Thacker, Drawing on Scars collaborates with guest vocalists from across the U.S. in the creation of ever-changing music in which the vocalists bring their own unique approach to each song. Generally, Thacker writes and performs all the music, and the different vocalists write the lyrics, which they then interpret in their own distinct style. The result is a music repertoire that always sounds fresh and delivers the unexpected.

Formed in 2012, the project produced an EP featuring seven artists, then went on hiatus in 2017, during which time Thacker formed the band Fieldcrest. He resurrected Drawing on Scars in early 2019, and began releasing a series of singles in quick succession. In August 2019, I reviewed his single “Rewrite”, which featured vocals by Jena Jones, and am now pleased to share his fifth and latest single “Pressure“. The track features dramatic vocals by Julian Michael, whom Thacker had worked with previously.

Once again, Thacker’s masterful musicianship is on full display here, as he wields his guitar like a jack hammer, pummeling us with an unrelenting barrage of jagged riffs. Solely responsible for all the instrumentation, he also does a superb job delivering a pulse-pounding bass line and heavy, thunderous percussion that create a massive wall of sound for Michael’s fearsome vocals. It’s a fairly short track, but sure packs a dynamite stick’s worth of explosive metal rock in under two and a half minutes.

Michael got the inspiration for his lyrics from imagery contained in the dark and surreal video, which was created a few years ago by animator Gabrielle Azi. He explains: “I wrote these lyrics during a time of self exploration and growth. I had joined the Army and experienced new relationships, all which required open mindedness and action while setting aside my fears and insecurities. The barrier in my way was mostly pride and narcissism, as it’s hard to be a genuine person when you weren’t brought up to be available to those sorts of things. This song is about how I forgot what it was like to be, in my eyes, that broken person. It’s about forgiving yourself, learning from mistakes, and overcoming trauma. While the implication of the lyrics may be about death and destruction, they have more of a subtle and less disturbing meaning. This contrast is to paint a picture of what it felt like, versus how simple it all really was. Regardless of what “Pressure” means to me, I want a listener to be able to heal and know that growth happens every day. We can’t change our outside world very often, but we can change how we see ourselves and our perceived worth. Most importantly, we can always treat ourselves and others better.”

I walked in line, I should be dead
Yet I felt the pressure grow
Saw it leaking out of my head
Thought it time for me to go

Cold, dark, lost and crying
He’s not one worth finding
I will never miss his face
Despite what we have found

I have forgotten what was said
There is more that I should know
Evil lying in my bed

Long road, old forgotten
Feet hurt, gross and rotten
I will never miss this place
No matter where this road is bound
He’s lying in the street but I still let him bleed

Sweet silky breeze, sweet silky dreams

I disregarded all my head
I am all I need to know
Auras filling out the edge
Time for this tired soul to go

Follow Drawing on Scars: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  SpotifyApple Music / Soundcloud / Reverbnation / YouTube
Purchase:  Bandcamp / Google Play 

ECHOSEVEN – Single Review: “EVERYTHING”

Echoseven Everything

ECHOSEVEN is a heavy alternative metal rap group based in New Brunswick, Canada. After a tentative start in 2016 as a music project of drummer Allon McCall and guitarist Justin Larracey, the guys got serious about their music in 2019 and began recruiting more members to form a legitimate band. By early this year, ECHOSEVEN’s lineup was complete, and in addition to McCall and Larracey, now includes Stefanie Roy (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Darrell Vautour (Rap Vocals), Andre Leblanc (Guitar) and Jamie Warren (Bass). They’ve just released their debut single “EVERYTHING“, and it kicks!

The band wastes no time getting right down to business, as the song blasts open with jagged riffs of gnarly guitars and smashing drums, anchored by a deep, chugging bass line, all of which creates an ominous vibe. Having three guitarists gives the music greater texture and depth, and when combined with the heavy bass and intense percussion, the result is an explosive wall of sound. But what I like most about the song is the presence of both a female vocalist and male rapper. The contrast between Stefanie’s haunting vocals and Darrell’s beautiful flow as he raps his verses creates a dramatic back and forth that makes for an exciting listen.

About the song, the band explains: “EVERYTHING is about going through hard times, being broken down to ground zero and finding out who your true and real friends, family, helpers and supporters are, and confronting them on their motives and intentions. When the smokes clears, who’s left standing next to you?

“EVERYTHING” is a fine debut by ECHOSEVEN,  and I look forward to hearing more music from this dynamic collective very soon.

Follow Echoseven: FacebookTwitterInstagram
Stream on Soundcloud and purchase on Bandcamp

New Song of the Week: DRAWING ON SCARS – “Rewrite”

Drawing on Scars Rewrite

I just reviewed a song titled “Under These Scars”, and now turn my attention to Drawing on Scars, an online alternative rock music project based in Atlanta, Georgia. The creative brainchild of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Will Thacker, Drawing on Scars seeks to collaborate with guest vocalists from across the U.S. in the creation of unique, ever-changing music. Generally, Thacker writes the music and lyrics, which the different vocalists then interpret in their own distinct ways, keeping Drawing on Scars’ repertoire sounding fresh and delivering the unexpected.

Formed in 2012, the project produced an EP featuring seven artists, then went on hiatus in 2017, during which time Thacker formed the band Fieldcrest. He resurrected Drawing on Scars in early 2019, and since March has released four singles, the latest of which is “Rewrite“, which I’ve chosen as my New Song of the Week.

The song features vocals by Jena Jones, who is also vocalist for Fieldcrest (I reviewed their EP Canvas last October.) The song has an Evanescence feel, not only because of the dark, complex melody and powerful instrumentation, but also because Jones’ strong, resonant vocals remind me of Amy Lee’s. Thacker’s a skilled guitarist, and his work really shines here as he dazzles our ears with crushing riffs of grimy guitars and heavy bass. The spooky synths and thunderous percussion are pretty fantastic too, and combined with the intense guitars, create a massive backdrop for Jones’ mesmerizing vocals. 

The lyrics seem to speak about someone suffering from mental illness or an emotional breakdown, and their desperate plea for help and support in getting their life together. Jones’ emotion-filled vocals beautifully convey the anguish expressed in the powerful lyrics:

I need you here babysitting my thoughts
I can’t control them, they’ll tear me apart
There’s just little things that go straight for my heart
It makes me sick

I hope I can keep control and not let myself down
But I’m a fake, how much can you take
Can’t you see that I’m afraid

Distorted perception of who I am
Help me rewrite it, begin again
This war going on inside of my head

I don’t know how to fix myself
The words that kill me are my own
Oh, I’m the harshest critic I know

Connect with Drawing on Scars: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Reverbnation / YouTube
Purchase:  Bandcamp / Google Play / cdbaby

IGNITE THE FIRE – Single Review: “Echoes”

Ignite the Fire2

Alternative metal band Ignite the Fire play some of the most electrifying rock I’ve had the pleasure of hearing recently. Based in the state of Maryland northwest of Baltimore, the band was formed in 2011 by guitarist Mark Quinn and drummer Caelan Gregory while they were still both in high school. Their phenomenal vocalist Jack Gurecki joined a short time later after responding to a flyer put out by the band looking for a singer, and was soon joined by a second guitarist Michael Nelson, who serves as the band’s resident “unclean” vocalist for their harder-edge songs. The fifth and newest band member is the amazing bassist Holly Smith, who came on board in 2017.

That same year, Ignite the Fire released their debut EP Trial and Triumph, an outstanding work featuring their hard-hitting single “Criticize”, which was named 2017 Song of the Year by Z98 and iHeartRadio. They followed up in late November 2018 with a second EP Between Shadows and Solace, featuring six mind-blowing tracks. “This whole EP is about what it means to be human,” says band drummer Caelan Gregory. “We don’t want to just connect with listeners on a musical level, but an emotional one as well, and in doing that we hope to connect with people in a real and significant way.” Guitarist Mark Quinn adds “The title ‘Between Shadow and Solace’ speaks for itself. We are writing about battling the darkness but also about the hope that is there. You see that in the world we live in. There’s this feeling of dread and darkness around us but also there’s hope.

In April, they released an outstanding video for “Echoes“, one of the most popular tracks from the EP that strongly resonated with their fans and followers. The video shows scenes of a man returning to an empty house he once occupied with his significant other, and remembering past moments they shared in better times, interspersed with scenes of the band performing the song. At the end of the video, he sees her standing on the beach, and runs toward her, only to disappear just before reaching her. We’re left to determine the scene’s meaning for ourselves, but my take is that it’s too late to salvage the relationship, and he can no longer reach her, literally and figuratively. The video was directed by Tom Flynn and stars Jimmy Donohue and Kris Doscher.

“Echoes” is a stunning rock anthem, starting off with a gentle melodic synth and strummed guitar line. The song then expands in the first verse with jangly guitars, strings, keyboards, and crisp percussion as Jack begins singing in his beautiful, clear vocals. When the first chorus arrives, Holly’s deep bassline melds seamlessly with Mike’s guitar riff into a thunderous mix, accompanied by Caelan’s power drums that send the song into the sonic stratosphere. Jack’s commanding vocals – which have been favorably compared to Shinedown frontman Brent Smith’s –  rise to the occasion, bringing chills as he passionately sings the deeply poignant lyrics:

Cause I fear that I’m right
But I pray that I’m wrong
I’ll echo this silence
And I won’t let go
You left me uncertain
Don’t leave me alone
I’ll search through the darkness
And I won’t let go

The band just released a ‘Behind the Song’ video where they discuss their process and inspiration for the writing of “Echoes”.

Since 2018, Ignite the Fire has performed on numerous stages, supporting the bands Otherwise, Shaman’s Harvest, BadWolves, From Ashes To New and Diamante via Live Nation.  This year they provided direct support to Stone Horses and Another Lost Year, and headlined shows in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Those of you in the Middle Atlantic region can catch them at one of these upcoming shows. I would love to see them along with another one of my favorite bands The Mayan Factor, but alas, live 3,000 miles away.

SAT JUNE 8  –  ROCK FOR ROB! 2019 @ KC’s Music Alley, Fredericksburg, VA

FRI JUNE 14  –  With Stone Horses, The Mayan Factor, After the Broken @ Fish Head Cantina, Baltimore, MD

FRI-SAT JUNE 22-23  –  With Defending Cain, Seventh Seal @ Break Away II Sports Lounge, Hagerstown, MD

Connect with Ignite the Fire:  Website / Facebook / TwitterInstagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Reverbnation
Purchase on iTunes / Amazon

DEAD ON ARRIVAL – Single Review: “WE.ARE.ONE.”

Dead on Arrival Header

Dead On Arrival is a formidable alternative metal rock band based in Derbyshire, in the English East Midlands. Formed in 2011, the band consists of Jack Dughan (Lead Vocals & Rhythm Guitar), Ben Calver (Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals), Connor Woodward (Bass) and newcomer Joe Smith (Drums). Drawing on influences from some of their favorite bands such as Metallica, Machine Head, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Asking Alexandria and Bring Me The Horizon, the guys make aggressive rock that’s melodic, raw and in-your-face. In their bio, they state “Our passion is to write, produce and release our own music and then play it live and LOUD.”

In 2016, the band released their debut album From the Ashes, then followed a year later with a scorching hot EP Chasing Tides (which I reviewed and you can read here). They’ve now returned with a new single “WE.ARE.ONE.,” delivering the face-melting metal rock we’ve come to expect from them. Jack and Ben lay down raging riffs of shredded and distorted guitars, while Connor’s deep, buzzsaw bass lines and Joe’s hammering drumbeats keep the frantic pace. The instruments all reach a bombastic crescendo in the bridge, causing an outbreak of goosebumps. Jack’s raw, impassioned screams are mind-blowing, especially given his youth and seemingly gentle appearance.

The scathing lyrics seem to be a repudiation of people or forces trying to hold you back, crushing your soul and self-worth through their lies and lack of faith in you. Jack told me they’re meant to symbolize the band’s determination to continue moving forward, staying strong against whatever odds are thrown their way, and to keep getting better and better. I think they’re succeeding quite nicely.

Don’t take this away from me
Where are you gonna lay when you’re dead?
When you’re buried in the ground covered in shit and dirt.
And no one knew you existed.
It’s all on you, It’s all on you.
Karma wasn’t my intention. These things just happen.

You can try and take what’s mine.
I can see right through the lies.
But you can’t take, you can’t take this away from me.
And no we won’t fall. It’s us after all.

You can’t take this away from me.
You won’t take this away from me.
You won’t be the end of me.
We will never rest
We are one, and one to be.

The awesome video of the band performing the song was filmed and produced by Bigger Boat Film.

Connect with Dead on Arrival:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on  Spotify and purchase on iTunes

DEAD ON ARRIVAL – EP Review: “Chasing Tides”

It’s back to the UK to shine my spotlight on metal rock band Dead On Arrival. The Derbyshire four-piece was formed in 2011, and consists of Jack Dughan (Lead Vocals & Rhythm Guitar), Ben Calver (Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals), Connor Woodward (Bass) and George Lathbury (Drums). Drawing on influences from some of their favorite bands such as Metallica, Machine Head, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Asking Alexandria and Bring Me The Horizon, the guys make aggressive rock that’s melodic, raw and in-your-face. As they state on their Facebook bio, “Our passion is to write, produce and release our own music and then play it live and LOUD.

Dead on Arrival
Photo by Pete Key

Dead On Arrival released a full length debut album From the Ashes in 2016, and now return with a terrific EP Chasing Tides, which dropped on August 18. The EP delivers four scorching tracks that clearly demonstrate the band’s growth, both in songwriting and musicianship. Their song lyrics address themes of dysfunction and betrayal within ourselves, our relationships and our government leaders, and their ferocious instrumentals perfectly convey the strong feelings expressed in the lyrics.

Chasing Tides

Vulture in the Waves,” released as a single in late 2016, kicks things off with an onslaught of shredded guitars, powerful throbbing bass and pounding drums – all hallmarks of the band’s hard-hitting sound. Dughan wails the lyrics that speak of someone wracked with guilt and tormented by his actions:

Oh I’m the vulture in the waves
Chasing tides to escape my mistakes
Because I couldn’t live on
Knowing what I’ve done
And I hide in the shadows
It’s the only way to survive

Hammering drums and blazing riffs continue unabated on the hard-driving “Inside” and “Corrupted World.” Calver’s shredded and distorted guitars are mind-blowing, and the bass so heavy I felt it in my core. On the latter track, Dughan implores, “This is a final call. We will stand tall and fight against this corruption.”

As if the first three tracks aren’t aggressive enough, the guys unleash their full sonic arsenal on the bombastic “Sickening Thing.” The frantic guitar riffs rain down like thunderbolts, and Lathbury attacks his drums like a wild beast, nearly blowing out the speakers – and my ear drums! Woodward lays down a face-melting bass line, and Dughans’ fiery vocals match the brutal music note for note. It’s my favorite of the four tracks, and really shows what these guys are capable of.

Connect with Dead on Arrival:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Stream their music on  Spotify and purchase on iTunes