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Rock - To be released February 5, 2021 | Mascot Records

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Christmas Music - Released November 27, 2020 | Mascot Records

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Christmas Music - Released November 26, 2020 | Mascot Records

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Christmas Music - Released November 20, 2020 | Mascot Records

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Metal - Released November 19, 2020 | Mascot Records

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Rock - Released October 30, 2020 | Mascot Records

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Over six previous albums, Kentucky's Black Stone Cherry continued to prove that their hoary hybrid of Southern rock, grunge, post-metal, and hard rock remains vital. The Human Condition underscores their deserved reputation as the brotherhood of Southern swamp metal, but there is immense growth in their creative process. Previously, BSC's recording process always involved cutting basic tracks while playing live on the studio floor. Working in bassist Jon Lawhon's Monocle Studios, the band did a 180: For the first time ever, they meticulously multi-tracked every note and sound. The sonic detail is indeed expansive, but the group sacrificed none of their power or swagger. They also felt a sense of urgency; while recording, the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading exponentially, and they undertook marathon sessions to complete the record. They finished days before the world shut down. The result is a startlingly fresh-sounding BSC album. Opener "Ringin' in My Head" offers muted feedback and dissonance before a bone-crunching guitar riff introduces the melody. Though written years ago, its lyrics are oddly prescient: "People people, your attention please/I need to tell all y'all about a new disease/it's crept right up from beneath our nose...I got a ringin' in my head/My bones are shakin'...I can feel it in my chest...The whole world's been shaken." The jam welds shattering grunge to metal as vocalist Chris Robertson sounds the alarm. "Push Down & Turn" offers scorching swamp metal. Robertson wails about his struggles with bipolar disorder and the band protects him with a maelstrom of overdriven riffs, chugging bass, and John Fred Young's thundering kick drums. "When Angels Learn to Fly" and "In Love with the Pain" are both exercises in the kind of anthemic AOR stadium rock balladry employed by bands such as 38 Special and the Outlaws. The muscular, dynamic production frames infectious, melodic hooks, vulnerable lyrics, and chiming group choruses. The metallic psych in "The Chain" channels Soundgarden in the best possible way. "If My Heart Had Wings" melds Dobro, electric guitars, piano, synth strings, and majestic processional drumming as Robertson heartbreakingly confesses his shortcomings in a relationship strained to the breaking point. BSC's customary inclusion of a classic cover remains in a noisy, slamming, irresistible read of ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down," offered with impeccable backing vocals and the filthiest bass line Lawhon has yet recorded. On "Devil in Your Eyes," Ben Wells channels Sonny Landreth's slide guitar sound before raging into dark, swirling Pearl Jam-esque hard rock. "Keep On Keepin' On" had to close the set. Despite its fist-pumping riff and hard rock vamp, the lyrical melody and group refrain return us to the tragic uncertainty of the present: "When everything that's good is gone, got to keep on keepin' on." The Human Condition's polished production might startle, but it's key to the band's most adventurous, mature, and finely wrought album to date, hands down. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 30, 2020 | Mascot Records

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Christmas Music - Released October 29, 2020 | Mascot Records

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Christmas Music - Released October 29, 2020 | Mascot Records

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Rock - Released October 23, 2020 | Mascot Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 18, 2020 | Mascot Records

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Rock - Released August 21, 2020 | Mascot Records

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Rock - Released July 9, 2020 | Mascot Records

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Metal - Released May 29, 2020 | Mascot Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 15, 2020 | Mascot Records

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Rock - Released April 24, 2020 | Mascot Records

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Metal - Released January 31, 2020 | Mascot Records

Certain bands aren't huge names in their genre or style but nonetheless inspire smiles from those who are aware of them; Heathen are such a band. Heathen aren't as well known as Testament or Exodus, two other combos that came out of the Bay Area thrash scene of the '80s. But the moshers who are hip to Heathen are quick to give them props, and The Evolution of Chaos gives those moshers no reason to think any less of them. This early-2010 release is Heathen's first full-length album of new studio recordings since 1991's Victims of Deception; Heathen's 2004 release Recovered contained several new recordings (mostly covers) along with four previously unreleased 1991 demos for what was supposed to be the Opiate of the Masses EP. The Evolution of Chaos is a solid outing that finds Heathen's 2010 lineup -- David White on lead vocals, Lee Altus and Kragen Lum on guitar, Jon Torres on bass, and Darren Minter on drums -- combining high-speed thrashiness with epic power metal tendencies. Power metal, of course, was always a major influence on thrash, which owes a huge artistic debt to both power metal and punk. Epic hooks and choruses are things that thrash usually doesn't borrow from power metal, but there is no overlooking just how epic things get on "Red Tears of Disgrace," "Undone," "A Hero's Welcome," and other tracks. And as blistering as The Evolution of Chaos becomes at times, Heathen are appealingly melodic through the 68-minute CD; this is an album that values nuance as well as intensity and caffeinated aggression. Headbangers who hold thrash metal and power metal in equally high regard should have no problem getting into The Evolution of Chaos. © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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Metal - Released January 30, 2020 | Mascot Records

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Metal - Released January 17, 2020 | Mascot Records

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Rock - Released January 10, 2020 | Mascot Records