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Mace & Crown | April 22, 2018

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Monarch Music Minute: Warpaint, Meek Mill and Avenged Sevenfold

Monarch Music Minute: Warpaint, Meek Mill and Avenged Sevenfold
Lindsey Lanham
Staff Writer

Warpaint – ‘Heads Up’ 💿💿💿

The actual embodiment of Los Anegels grunge-rock, “Heads Up” shows how Warpaint have finely tuned their alternative sound.

Two years after the release of their self-titled album, Warpaint is back and more moody than ever. Notorious for walking the fine line between boring and being bored, the all-girl band keeps up their indie-grunge roots.

Released on Sept. 23, “Heads Up” incorporates R&B and pop into their rock sound. Tracks like “By Your Side” keep the cool lyrics that Warpaint is known for, but it also has an easy going, synth-pop backing.

“Heads Up” is a lot of whining and trepidation, and the band wastes no time jumping right into it. The lead track, “Whiteout,” features the girls crooning on about built up walls and distrust. Lyrics like, “You lock it up so easily / I wanna believe all that you say to me,” establish the angst right off the bat.

Other songs like “New Song” and “So Good” keep the new, upbeat sound Warpaint has created. Each song continues with the same allure as the album goes on. “Heads Up” is definitely a more pop version of their older works. It still has the angsty theme that is well-loved, but now they’ve added a solid sounding R&B base.

The album is a bit disjointed, almost as if the band had to prove just how alternative they really are. It’s got some good qualities, but overall is just a lot of noise.

Unlike their self-titled album, the goal for “Heads Up” seems to have been to put together an album that captured the essence of their live shows. It’s definitely taken a turn from their usual down-tempo rock feel, but it still remains repetitive and broody.

Meek Mill – ‘DC4’ 💿💿

Almost a year after putting out his last full-length album, the world waited in anticipation to see what Meek Mill had to say next. As it turns out, it’s not a lot.

Meek Mill has had a hard time keeping his mouth shut. After starting a variety of beefs with other artists, people who thrive on petty conflict eagerly awaited to see who he was going to piss off next.

“DC4” is, unfortunately, a bit underwhelming. While Meek Mill can always pick the best beats as a solid backbone to his music, the lyrics are repetitive and bleak. The album is all about Meek Mill trying to prove how cool he really is. But as he says, he’s just “stickin’ to the basics.”

The album features many well-respected artists, ranging from Tory Lanez to Nicki Minaj. Just because high profile artists are featured on an album, doesn’t make the album any better. Unfortunately for Meek Mill, this was most definitely the case.

“Blessed Up,” the second track off of “DC4,” is one of the most low-key. The lines, “I got God watchin’ over me from courtside / Ballin’ like I’m Jordan cause I’m blessed up,” are grateful, and show how Meek Mill really appreciates the opportunities he’s been presented.

Meek Mill doesn’t really rap, but rather yells most of his lyrics. Even in more downbeat songs, his voice rings loud. He says, “It’s no roof so they can see me shine,” in “Shine,” a song that confronts the struggle he’s had becoming successful.

“DC4” continues the theme of identity and the struggles of making a name for yourself. Sadly, it’s just boring. Meek Mill tried to make it a big deal, but it fell short.

Avenged Sevenfold – ‘The Stage’ 💿💿💿💿💿

Avenged Sevenfold surprised everyone by releasing their new album two months early. “The Stage” incorporates everything a great metal album should, while still keeping the same Avenged Sevenfold sound that fans love.

The album, released Oct. 28, is more ambitious than their last, and even features a cameo by Neil deGrasse Tyson. After the switch from Warner Bros. to Capitol Records, the band has proven that they’re not holding anything back.

“The Stage” opens up with an eight-minute long epic. The lead track, also the title track, was the first and only single to be released off of the new album. Cynical lines like, “Jesus Christ was born to die / Leave it to man to levitate his own to idolize,” waste no time grabbing the listener’s attention.

Unlike the downbeat rock sound the opening track has, the second track, “Paradigm,” resonates with a more classic metal sound. It’s loaded with heavy shredding and drum pounding. Lead singer, Matthew Sanders, better known by his stage name M. Shadows, screams “I’m way up, a God in size / Beyond the reach of mortals I shed my human side / Father, O’ Father,” brings almost a sacrilegious theme to the album.

Other tracks like “God Damn” and “Simulation” stay true to the metal sound. Each member plays their part perfectly. While Shadows goes on about cosmic rains, the drummer keeps up an easy going beat as a solid backbone.

Closing track “Exist” is the longest song on the album at a total of 15 minutes, and continues the theme of existentialism. The song centers around the idea of the big bang and has Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about the universe as the music continues to rock in the background.

While tackling the challenge of a conceptual album, Avenged Sevenfold also dealt with label changes and the departure (and addition) of a new band member. None of this stopped them from writing and recording a great album. “The Stage” will impress any metal fan, and maybe even some who aren’t.

💿 — Face palm.
💿💿 — Eh…
💿💿💿 — We’re getting there.
💿💿💿💿 — I’ll listen to it twice, even.
💿💿💿💿💿 — Hell yes!