CD Reviews

Elbow Leaders of the Free World Townsend Records HHIII After being dumped by several record labels within their first few struggling years, the Manchester, England based Elbow’s third album fails to prove that they are

Leaders of the Free World
Townsend Records

After being dumped by several record labels within their first few struggling years, the Manchester, England based Elbow’s third album fails to prove that they are better than their rocky past indicates. Leaders of the Free World is an unremarkable 11-track package wrapped in the guise of a misleading title.

Before the album’s release, much hype surrounded the idea that the album would tackle political and world issues. Only the title track shows any real indication of political dissent – dissent as in taking a stab at President Bush, a song topic that lately has been overdone.

The rest of the album focuses on deteriorating relationships, where lead singer Guy Garvey’s soft, throaty voice whispers lines like, “You’ve gone and made a beautiful hole in my heart.”

Garvey is no stranger to rendering heartbreak through the use of elaborately arranged instrumentals. A mixing of piano, acoustic guitar and regretful lyrics have always been a trademark of Elbow’s, creating the funereal gloom of their previous two albums.

A few tracks on Leaders of the Free World are worth listening to. “Puncture Repair” serves as a haunting way to end the album, highlighting Garvey’s sorrowful vocals while a piano plays barely audibly in the background.

“An Imagined Affair” is a perfect example of Elbow’s strength at bringing a surreal, dream-like quality to their music. It’s hard not to feel relaxed listening to Garvey repeatedly croon “She brings the morning sun,” alongside a gently strummed acoustic guitar. One or two decent tracks can’t redeem a flawed effort though, and the album as a whole remains easily forgettable.

Many songs on the album break the typical three or four minute barrier. The title track and the unreciprocated love story of “My Very Best” linger well past the five-minute mark, but rather than working for Elbow, this makes listening to the album the entire way through a tiresome endeavor.

At times, the album borders on repetitive and several songs seem like only minor deviations of one another. Aside from the final song, the ending of Leaders of the Free World sounds oddly similar the first few tracks, making it seem like even the band began to lose interest in the album.

With a slew of British acts ranging from Bloc Party to the Killers dominating the music scene lately, it makes it easy for smaller bands like Elbow to get cast aside as just another forgettable indie band. While Elbow deserves a bit more credit than that, Leaders of the Free World proves that Elbow certainly won’t be the next big sensation anytime soon.

– Jess Thom

A Dozen Furies
A Concept from Fire
Sanctuary Records

It is hard to believe that a heavy metal reality TV show on a pop-loving MTV can propel a small metalcore band like A Dozen Furies to success.

They went from a small band from Austin, Texas to touring on the mecca of heavy metal tours, Ozzfest, in just a year. Their debut album A Concept from Fire justifies the fact that they did deserve to win MTV’s Battle for Ozzfest.

With metalcore music fading away and bands changing their image and sounds it was a wonder if metalcore would stay alive. The rise of “nu-metal” bands like Linkin Park and Three Days Grace has really affected the future of metalcore music. A band has been needed to take the metalcore world with all its might and bring it back to its true form. A Dozen Furies is undoubtly that band and A Concept from Fire is precisely the album needed.

It all starts with the band’s single “The Cycle.” Hard bass pounding, witty guitar melodies, gut-retrenching screams and a melodic chorus; really gives metalcore a good smack in the right direction.

Lead singer Bucky Garret’s loud abrasive vocals really echo throughout the album and are teamed with masterful guitar play and pounding drums. Each song is fast and aggressive, leaving the listeners energized and belligerent.

The 2005 Ozzfest tour has proven to be a growing point for the band. Being surrounded by current metal stars and legends really has influenced their music. Songs like “Lost in a Fantasy” show how the band has developed the technical aspect of their music.

They use more complicated guitar riffs and prove that they can play more than just bar chords, proving that they are not just another bar band from Texas and that they are as good, if not better, than anyone else in the metalcore scene.

It is no wonder that when over a million people went online to cast their votes on who would win the Battle for Ozzfest that A Dozen Furies came out victorious. After a fast paced year with lots of success it is good to know that there was at least one reality TV show out there that can produce a good winner. You can’t speak that way for shows like American Idol. Remember that guy named Ruben Studdard?

Metalcore may have looked like it was going into recession, but as long as A Dozen Furies is out their making music that will not happen. This album is pure metalcore at its finest, and fans will enjoy the raspy vocals along with destructive instrumentals.

It has been a big year for these guys from Texas, but as long as they keep making albums like this, it will also be a long career. Don’t forget to see A Dozen Furies as they open up for Gwar at the Electric Factory on Oct. 23. This could be one of the most gruesome concerts of the fall.

– Dan Cappello

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