The Airborne Toxic Event return with grace in “Hollywood Park” (review)

The Airborne Toxic Event, 2020

I’ll admit off the get-go, I know about The Airborne Toxic Event solely thanks to their inescapable 2009 hit, “Sometime Around Midnight.” Made to be played over and over on radio, I wanted to see how the band is holding up more than a decade later, as they’re clearly not a one-hit wonder. I’m going in not with the expectation that every track will capture that one’s magic, but with the hopes that the musicianship is sound and diverse.

Hollywood Park opens with its title track, it’s clear the raspy delivery of Mikel Jollett can still manage to stand out with ample storytelling in his lyricism. The cavalcade of instruments at play and nice little moments make this 6 and a half minute track anything but long-winded. “Brother, How Was The War” adds some “oomph” to the sad words sung thanks to an echo effect and striking piano before the band enters.

More jovial vibes come with “Carry Me” in the guise of acoustic guitar and Mikel’s lower register. It’s easy to get lost in songs like this, with all the moving parts working like a well-oiled machine. The bass riff gets the early proceedings of “Come On Out” going; the guitar solo is a little confusing in structure, but works decently in execution.

“I Don’t Want to Be Here Anymore” really captures the feeling of a toxic environment and the desire of escape with more aggressively-delivered vocals than usual. This hopeful track is surely one to relate to for many in a similar situation. “All the Children” benefits from group vocals in its chorus and has the most eclectic bridge on Hollywood Park with a great climax.

Thrust back into the sadness, “Everything I Love is Broken” tells another sad tale with the vocals at the forefront of a bleak tune. While still a bit dreary, “All These Engagements” really picks up in its second half with a hook sure to stick in heads.

“The Place we Meet a Thousands Feet Beneath the Racetrack” serves as somewhat of an interlude, which unfortunately creeps me out with the overproduced baby cooing in the middle.  Again opting for the lower octaves in “The Common Touch,” there’s a lot of vulgar lyrical bits in the verses that will surely catch people off-guard like it did for me.

Opting for a reprise to the “Racetrack” song, this serves as a soft segue into the closing track, “True.” A standout piece, the emphasis of the words “I’ll see you again” repeated to wrap up the record ends things on a calming, well-deserved note.

I’m pleasantly surprised to find that The Airborne Toxic Event has a lot going for them. With a lot of layers to take in, it’s hard to encapsulate my thoughts from one listen, but I thoroughly enjoyed a run through Hollywood Park and expect some songs off this to get the acclaim they deserve!

A press copy of Hollywood Park was provided courtesy of Big Hassle PR.

This Day In Music History: May 20th, 2003 – Deftones balance experimentation with high expectations on ‘Deftones’

Expectations, especially when it comes to art and music, are interesting things. You can either rise above the weight of expectations and let the burden fuel you, or that same burden can put a nail in your proverbial career. Even the most successful bands in history have had internal and external issues that affected their subsequent albums in both positive and negative ways.

These expectations couldn’t have been more descriptive for a band like Deftones. The alt-metal band were certainly saddled with them after the success of 2000’s White Pony, and while their 2003 self-titled album may not have been White Pony II like many fans wanted, the record is much better off not duplicating their arguable magnum opus.

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Volumes’ new video for “Pixelate” was filmed in the empty streets of Los Angeles

Volumes have gone two for two, batting 100% with their first two songs since the return of Michael Barr as co-vocalist. The Los Angeles-based metal band have released some accomplished songs over the years, and it’s their 2012 debut full-length VIA that really propelled them into the public consciousness. It’s definitely a fan favorite, and the great news about the band’s two new songs – “holywater” and “Pixelate” – is that they wouldn’t sound out of place on that record. However, they also sound fresh, accelerating anticipation for their upcoming new album.

The band’s new video for “Pixelate”, which dropped a few days ago, was filmed entirely in the empty streets of Los Angeles due to coronavirus restrictions. This certainly isn’t an opportunity that many bands get to have – considering Los Angeles proper ranks as the 3rd-highest GDP (gross domestic product) and is also one of the highest populated cities in the world, at approximately 4 million residents.

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Stray From The Path premieres new video for “Beneath The Surface”

Stray From The Path have been bringing their politically charged metal/hardcore/hip-hop hybrid to the masses for years. 2009’s Make Your Own History put the band on the map as one of Sumerian Records’ first real breakout bands, and over a decade later, they’re still putting out solid music. Last year, the band released their new full-length, Internal Atomics, and it’s just as incendiary as you’d expect from hearing the band’s earlier work. There’s plenty to be angry about in the world – railing against social and racial injustice have always been the band’s calling card – and they certainly deliver it on Internal Atomics.

The band is now premiering a new video for the song “Beneath The Surface”, which you can watch below. Of particular note, the video itself was directed by the band’s bassist, Anthony Altamura.

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