Jump to content

Headphones, amps and other audio gear


Recommended Posts

Don't see a thread for audio gear at all so figured I'd start one. 

 

Specifically I'm looking for headphone recos. Have a pair of Fidelio X2's that I really like with a broken ring mount thing on the left cup, and a pair of Meze Neo's with the stupid ear pad won't go back on.

 I was looking around online to see what's new and I came across these Hifiman Sundaras. They're planers and they're supposed to be pretty good, has anyone heard these? If so how did they sound and how was the bass?

sundara2.jpg

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd like to try a nice pair of headphones like that. I've been using the Sony MDR-7506 for about 15 years, both for fun and for recording, and I have no complaints, but who doesn't love nice new gear. My apartment is probably too noisy for open-back headphones though. Barring the need to replace something, my next headphones will probably be a pair of Shure SE425 in-ears.

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, GoatmasterGeneral said:

Don't see a thread for audio gear at all so figured I'd start one. 

 

Specifically I'm looking for headphone recos. Have a pair of Fidelio X2's that I really like with a broken ring mount thing on the left cup, and a pair of Meze Neo's with the stupid ear pad won't go back on.

 I was looking around online to see what's new and I came across these Hifiman Sundaras. They're planers and they're supposed to be pretty good, has anyone heard these? If so how did they sound and how was the bass?

sundara2.jpg

 

I've been asking the same question lately and I'm eyeing the same headphones right now. Basically the best open cans for metal under $500. Supposedly scale up well with amplification, but are fine just off a phone or DAP, neutral sound that responds well to EQ, and tight accurate bass. Everything the LCD-2 is known for in a cheaper package (except the LCD-2 requires a decent amp).

Second one I'm considering is the Audeze LCD-2C. An updated version of my original LCD-2's. I love the sound of them but hate the comfort. Supposedly improved in the new model. They're twice the price of the Sundaras though and require an amp.

The last one I would like to find are the Hyland Jupiter, but they are made to order in England. Not likely to get a chance to test those out.

Others I've seen rec'd are the Modhouse Argon and the Grado Hemp. The Modhouse are difficult to get ahold of. I'm not a Grado fan.

Long story short, the Sundaras are my recommendation based on my research. You can buy them off Amazon and get free returns if you don't like them.

12 minutes ago, FatherAlabaster said:

I'd like to try a nice pair of headphones like that. I've been using the Sony MDR-7506 for about 15 years, both for fun and for recording, and I have no complaints, but who doesn't love nice new gear. My apartment is probably too noisy for open-back headphones though. Barring the need to replace something, my next headphones will probably be a pair of Shure SE425 in-ears.

The Sony's are a classic. I know tons of people who swear by them. My favorite iems are the Periodic Be. Our buddy Mark (if he ever comes along) has experience with the Shures. If you were to replace the Sony's, I can't recommend the Meze 99 Classics enough.

Link to post
Share on other sites
49 minutes ago, navybsn said:

I've been asking the same question lately and I'm eyeing the same headphones right now. Basically the best open cans for metal under $500. Supposedly scale up well with amplification, but are fine just off a phone or DAP, neutral sound that responds well to EQ, and tight accurate bass. Everything the LCD-2 is known for in a cheaper package (except the LCD-2 requires a decent amp).

Second one I'm considering is the Audeze LCD-2C. An updated version of my original LCD-2's. I love the sound of them but hate the comfort. Supposedly improved in the new model. They're twice the price of the Sundaras though and require an amp.

The last one I would like to find are the Hyland Jupiter, but they are made to order in England. Not likely to get a chance to test those out.

Others I've seen rec'd are the Modhouse Argon and the Grado Hemp. The Modhouse are difficult to get ahold of. I'm not a Grado fan.

Long story short, the Sundaras are my recommendation based on my research. You can buy them off Amazon and get free returns if you don't like them.

The Sony's are a classic. I know tons of people who swear by them. My favorite iems are the Periodic Be. Our buddy Mark (if he ever comes along) has experience with the Shures. If you were to replace the Sony's, I can't recommend the Meze 99 Classics enough.

Thanks man. I hope I don't have to replace the Sonys anytime soon, but I might need to get another pair or two of decent over-ear headphones for recording. I'll look into those. The only other ones I have right now are a pair of Koss cans that sound atrocious and feel like bricks wrapped in sheet rubber. The lifetime warranty is an albatross. I resent the space they take up in my closet.

I really loved my pair of single-driver Shures years ago, but that was before they started using detachable cables and the wire eventually wore out. I'm super picky about in-ears so it would be good to hear from someone with direct experience before I pull the trigger, but I know I like Shure's sound profile. I like a mid-focused sound and despise everything I've heard with "extended bass".

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, FatherAlabaster said:

Thanks man. I hope I don't have to replace the Sonys anytime soon, but I might need to get another pair or two of decent over-ear headphones for recording. I'll look into those. The only other ones I have right now are a pair of Koss cans that sound atrocious and feel like bricks wrapped in sheet rubber. The lifetime warranty is an albatross. I resent the space they take up in my closet.

I really loved my pair of single-driver Shures years ago, but that was before they started using detachable cables and the wire eventually wore out. I'm super picky about in-ears so it would be good to hear from someone with direct experience before I pull the trigger, but I know I like Shure's sound profile. I like a mid-focused sound and despise everything I've heard with "extended bass".

The Meze are fantastic cans that are very comfortable. I have mine setup with the Brainwavz pads and they are very comfortable. Build quality is excellent. Not sure if I would recommend them for studio work though. Might not be neutral enough, but then again, I eq mine to get them just the way I like them. Haven't tried them "flat" in a while.

The Periodics on the other hand can be a little bassy if you eq them up, but I find that they sound best with no eq. Maybe a touch of treble boost depending on what I'm listening to.

I do no recording stuff and I certainly don't have golden ears by any means. Never heard the Shures and I dislike detachable cables on iems myself (required on regular cans though).  

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been using a pair of Sennheiser HD650s(and HD6xx) for the past few years. Prior to that just using whatever cheapo things(like bottom of the line Koss) I had. Most of my headphone listening was at work. (Worked in an office pre-covid, so mostly just wanted to filter out the crappy music they play and extraneous conversations when I needed to focus) One day, my boss stopped over for some reason and, turned out, he is an audiophile so we chatted about headphones. Not sure if he recommended the Sennheisers or if my own research got me there. Anyway, those were my first open back "mid-fi" headphones. Mind sufficiently blown. "What? There's a second guitar in this song?!" and so on and so on.

Anyway, two recent purchases. I've been working from home since covid. Weather permitting, I try to take a decently long walk around my suburban neighborhood over lunch so I don't go crazy. I wanted a bluetooth option so I can play stuff from my phone(no headphone jack).  Picked up the Qudelix 5K bluetooth DAC/amp. I really like this thing so far. Has EQ and 2.5mm balanced output so I just plug my HD650 into it and out into the world I go. 

I found I don't mind open backs outside... power equipment or lawn mowing sucks, sure, but usually there's not too much of that in the middle of the day during the week. But hearing bird song and wind come through, generally speaking, does not detract from music at all for me.

Last month I decided to treat myself to an upgrade and picked up a pair of Hifiman Anandas. Have to say, they make my Sennheisers sound stuffy and cramped by comparison. Even my wife who doesn't give a shit about this kind of stuff noticed a huge difference. I'm happy with the purchase. There's not a place around here that has a variety of headphones to try, so I just read some reviews and ordered from Amazon so I could easily return if I hated it. 

Haven't tried Sundaras, but assuming they are close to Anandas I think they'll be great. 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Been reading and watching headphone reviews all morning. Think I am just about settled on these. They're not planars like I was thinking I wanted, but the reviews speak for themselves. Have a $208 dollar open box pair in my Amazon cart, new pairs go for $255. Just not ready to move up to that $500 - $800 range and all the cheaper sub $500 planars seem to have issues and conflicting reviews.

One guy says Sundara has great bass, next guy says only if you have a fancy amp, next guy says highs are too much, next guy says stay away if you want bass, it's hard to know who to believe. Haven't heard a bad word about these Phoenix though. And they'll be here Tuesday (if I order within the next 2 hours and something minutes) the Sundaras usually ship in 3 to 5 weeks.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, navybsn said:

The Meze are fantastic cans that are very comfortable. I have mine setup with the Brainwavz pads and they are very comfortable. Build quality is excellent. Not sure if I would recommend them for studio work though. Might not be neutral enough, but then again, I eq mine to get them just the way I like them. Haven't tried them "flat" in a while.

The Periodics on the other hand can be a little bassy if you eq them up, but I find that they sound best with no eq. Maybe a touch of treble boost depending on what I'm listening to.

I do no recording stuff and I certainly don't have golden ears by any means. Never heard the Shures and I dislike detachable cables on iems myself (required on regular cans though).  

I've got mock suede Brainwavz pads on the 7506s and they are great, hell of a lot more comfy than the originals. Plus they're not shedding little flakes of pleather all over my face, a real bonus.

BTW what do you not like about Grados? They were on my list to try out, although I haven't heard them aside from a store demo years ago.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sound and comfort. The Grados I've heard have weak bottom end the treble was too shiny. I know lots of people like them, but they just don't get along with my ears. Similarly, I found them uncomfortable. Granted, I hate on ears in general, but the Grado did nothing to convince me to overlook that.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just wanted to share my experience with a set of headphones, closed can, in the price range over 500 USD. I have the B&W P9 now after I owned a B&W P5 (< 500 USD). Both are really excellent headphones. Sound is truly amazing, for sure if you listen through the Onkyo DP-x1A and probably any other DAP. There is so much depth in the sound, it's really great to hear all the nuances in the music. Last is the amazing comfort that this set has. I can have them on for hours without getting annoyed or having sore ear shells.

Otherwise, there are so many quality headphones you actually should go to the shop with a set of music of various sounds, lo-fi BM, some death metal (Sulphur Aeon is good for testing!) and some thrash or so. You probably know that already but for me it was an eye opener how many headphones I didn't like until I heard the B&W.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Received my Amazon Warehouse pair of Sivga Phoenix in the mail today, the ear cups seem kind of small but I haven't actually heard them yet. 

Just agreed to buy a pair of LCD-2C used from a dude on Head-fi for $560. They sell for $799 new on Amazon. He says it's the best bass he's ever heard in a headphone,  so as somewhat of a bass head myself I'm encouraged. Waiting for him to invoice me.

Also put a bid on a used pair of Assdrop Hifiman Edition XX on Ebay last night. $519 was the buy it now price, $399 was the minimum opening bid, I think they sell for about $600 new. It's currently sitting at $410 right now with 4 days to go. $440 was my top bid but I think I'll probably just let someone else outbid me now that I'll be getting the LCD-2C's. But if I do actually get them for the bargain price of $440 I won't be upset about that either. 

Man I hate when I get sucked down into that headphone/audio gear rabbit hole. Now when the 70 ohm LCD's get here that'll be an excuse to hunt for a new DAC/amp. Unless it turns out my Micca OriGen2 will supply enough juice to power them properly to get that good bass, we'll have to wait and see. 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, GoatmasterGeneral said:

Received my Amazon Warehouse pair of Sivga Phoenix in the mail today, the ear cups seem kind of small but I haven't actually heard them yet. 

Just agreed to buy a pair of LCD-2C used from a dude on Head-fi for $560. They sell for $799 new on Amazon. He says it's the best bass he's ever heard in a headphone,  so as somewhat of a bass head myself I'm encouraged. Waiting for him to invoice me.

Also put a bid on a used pair of Assdrop Hifiman Edition XX on Ebay last night. $519 was the buy it now price, $399 was the minimum opening bid, I think they sell for about $600 new. It's currently sitting at $410 right now with 4 days to go. $440 was my top bid but I think I'll probably just let someone else outbid me now that I'll be getting the LCD-2C's. But if I do actually get them for the bargain price of $440 I won't be upset about that either. 

Man I hate when I get sucked down into that headphone/audio gear rabbit hole. Now when the 70 ohm LCD's get here that'll be an excuse to hunt for a new DAC/amp. Unless it turns out my Micca OriGen2 will supply enough juice to power them properly to get that good bass, we'll have to wait and see. 

 

I think you will be happy with the Audeze. My only issue with them has been comfort for long term wear. They're huge and heavy, but the new models are supposedly improved, so ymmv. End game cans for metal really with the only thing besting them being 4x the price (Abyss Diana).

I would definitely recommend a beefier dac/amp than the Micca. I was very happy with my Schiit stack for $200. The JDS Labs stuff is also high quality for low dough. I'm eyeing the Khadas Tone Board 2, but I'm waiting to get some time to do more research. Best thing to do is pick a price point and figure out what features you want. I thought you had an Audio GD amp at one time. That's the goat's nipples if you can swing it. A used Audeze Deckard would be awesome if you can find one. Tons of options really. Big money Marky Mark would usually swing by after dropping his blazer off at the cleaners to give us a better educated opinion, but we'll just have to wait until he gets back from down river and joins up.

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, navybsn said:

I think you will be happy with the Audeze. My only issue with them has been comfort for long term wear. They're huge and heavy, but the new models are supposedly improved, so ymmv. End game cans for metal really with the only thing besting them being 4x the price (Abyss Diana).

I would definitely recommend a beefier dac/amp than the Micca. I was very happy with my Schiit stack for $200. The JDS Labs stuff is also high quality for low dough. I'm eyeing the Khadas Tone Board 2, but I'm waiting to get some time to do more research. Best thing to do is pick a price point and figure out what features you want. I thought you had an Audio GD amp at one time. That's the goat's nipples if you can swing it. A used Audeze Deckard would be awesome if you can find one. Tons of options really. Big money Marky Mark would usually swing by after dropping his blazer off at the cleaners to give us a better educated opinion, but we'll just have to wait until he gets back from down river and joins up.

Dude I spent $250 on the Audio GD on Ebay (ND-15 I think or something like that) but being an idiot who's long on mouth and short on tech savvy I ultimately couldn't get the damn thing to work. Seller said he'd walk me through it but then ghosted me. I emailed the Audio GD dude in China but his reply was in broken English and the instructions were complicated so even though I felt like I was following the instructions I never was able to install the drivers and get any sound to come out of it at all. So basically 4 years later I have a beautiful chunk of aluminum that's a $250 paperweight. If you wanted to take a whack at it bro I'd send it to you in FLA because you're my goat. 

LCD seller said that these are really easy to drive and sometimes he runs them right out of his MacBook. He also said they have the best bass he has ever heard out of a headphone, which is encouraging. I'll wait til they get here and then see if I need to upgrade the amp. Lots of options out there now, I just want something that will drive the headphones and also serve as a preamp for my JBL LSR 305's. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. Also my JDS Labs amp with the big volume knob had terrible noise, static or ground loops or whatever, rendered it unusable. I still have that here too.

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, GoatmasterGeneral said:

Dude I spent $250 on the Audio GD on Ebay (ND-15 I think or something like that) but being an idiot who's long on mouth and short on tech savvy I ultimately couldn't get the damn thing to work. Seller said he'd walk me through it but then ghosted me. I emailed the Audio GD dude in China but his reply was in broken English and the instructions were complicated so even though I felt like I was following the instructions I never was able to install the drivers and get any sound to come out of it at all. So basically 4 years later I have a beautiful chunk of aluminum that's a $250 paperweight. If you wanted to take a whack at it bro I'd send it to you in FLA because you're my goat. 

LCD seller said that these are really easy to drive and sometimes he runs them right out of his MacBook. He also said they have the best bass he has ever heard out of a headphone, which is encouraging. I'll wait til they get here and then see if I need to upgrade the amp. Lots of options out there now, I just want something that will drive the headphones and also serve as a preamp for my JBL LSR 305's. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. Also my JDS Labs amp with the big volume knob had terrible noise, static or ground loops or whatever, rendered it unusable. I still have that here too.

I don't know about newer models, but my original LCD's sound like shit straight off a laptop or phone. Maybe my ears are just too tender. An amp/preamp that would meet your criteria, look at the Schiit Jotuneim. Well reviewed and not too spendy. Tons of connection options and modular so you can add a DAC module later if you want.

Schiit Audio: Audio Products Designed and Built in California

Feel free to send me that paperweight. I'll swap you for a bottle of the finest Kentucky fire water.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/2/2021 at 7:44 AM, FatherAlabaster said:

my next headphones will probably be a pair of Shure SE425 in-ears.

Eating my words here, the Shures will have to wait. I'm in the process of replacing my phone, because everything fails at once, and none of the ones with the specs I want have fucking headphone jacks. Yes, I could (and probably will) get a little USB to 3.5mm adapter dongle, but given how much walking I do while I'm listening on headphones, I think keeping everything connected will get annoying quickly. So I'm getting a pair of Sony WH 1000XM3 Bluetooth headphones. I've had crappy experiences with Bluetooth audio and I'm really hoping these change my mind.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've so far refused to buy a phone without a headphone jack, but my next one may be the end of the road for that streak. I'm keeping this one until it absolutely shits the bed.

The main gripe with BT headphones is the battery life sucks. Can't believe people pay $200+ for Apple Ear Pros or whatever they're called when they have 4.5 hours of battery new. The Master Dynamic MW08 look decent with 11-12 hours, but they are $300. Haven't really checked out the Sonys.

Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, navybsn said:

I've so far refused to buy a phone without a headphone jack, but my next one may be the end of the road for that streak. I'm keeping this one until it absolutely shits the bed.

The main gripe with BT headphones is the battery life sucks. Can't believe people pay $200+ for Apple Ear Pros or whatever they're called when they have 4.5 hours of battery new. The Master Dynamic MW08 look decent with 11-12 hours, but they are $300. Haven't really checked out the Sonys.

I hear that. I've been holding onto my current phone for about 4.5 years now and it's just about had it. Hate to see it go. The Samsung A series still has headphone jacks, and I almost went with one of those, but decided I needed/wanted better specs. I haven't heard these Sonys before either, but apparently I can EQ them flat, use them as wired headphones with an aux cable, and should be able to get 25 hours of real-world battery life out of them. The price was right, too, they used to be over $300 but they've come down a lot now that the new model is out. Fingers crossed I don't need any more electronic gadgets this year.

26 minutes ago, ratpfink said:

Bluetooth dudes. BT headphones suck. Just use a bluetooth DAC AMP with your awesome wired headphones that you already own. https://www.qudelix.com/products/qudelix-5k-dac-amp

I mean unless you really don't want a wire... but sounds like the problem is more "no 3.5mm headphone jack on my phone" and less "I hate having headphone wires when I'm on the go"

 

 

 

Yeah, I've never liked Bluetooth headphones at all, so this is a big experiment for me. They've always seemed like expensive toys for people with tin ears. If they aren't up to snuff I have two weeks to return them. Wires have never bothered me but I think lugging yet another device around probably would, even if it's something this small. Will definitely look into it or one of the wired USB-C to 3.5mm adapters if these phones don't work out. Thank you for the link and recommendation.

Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, FatherAlabaster said:

 So I'm getting a pair of Sony WH 1000XM3 Bluetooth headphones. I've had crappy experiences with Bluetooth audio and I'm really hoping these change my mind.

I have the 1000XM1 and they have served me very well. no problems with dropped connection or bad sound quality. I can only imagine the newer models are even better. The noise cancelling is excellent too. I like BT, it's very practical when out and about or at the gym. Having long hair a cable tends to get tangled when outside, which is really annoying. I currently have the Philips Fidelio X2 for home use and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds for outside, which are excellent.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/4/2021 at 5:33 PM, GoatmasterGeneral said:

Just agreed to buy a pair of LCD-2C used from a dude on Head-fi for $560. They sell for $799 new on Amazon. He says it's the best bass he's ever heard in a headphone,  so as somewhat of a bass head myself I'm encouraged. Waiting for him to invoice me

This is a very positive development.  Goatworthy and far beyond the horned herd pastures of endless blackened death....not that those pastures aren't opportunities of wonderous gorging. Metal shall be delivered with proper horned fidelity.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/7/2021 at 12:31 PM, Sheol said:

I have the 1000XM1 and they have served me very well. no problems with dropped connection or bad sound quality. I can only imagine the newer models are even better. The noise cancelling is excellent too. I like BT, it's very practical when out and about or at the gym. Having long hair a cable tends to get tangled when outside, which is really annoying. I currently have the Philips Fidelio X2 for home use and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds for outside, which are excellent.

That's good to hear, cheers man. I hope they work out. 

Edit - I think I like them! I don't hate them, anyway. The active noise cancellation is pretty amazing and it makes a huge difference, I don't have to strain to hear anything over background noise. They don't sound as good as my other headphones and the new phone doesn't sound as good as the old one, but it'll do fine for what I need.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well after exploring options ad nauseam and over researching as usual, I've finally settled on a new set of open cans. I picked up a set of Quad Era-1 from the Head-Fi classifieds. They are planars, over the ear, made in England by the legendary Quad Electronics (who developed the first electrostatic speaker in the late 50's). A direct competitor to the LCD-2. I can't compare them to much else besides the Meze 99s and the LCD-2 that I own, but I will say that they are exactly what I was after. They combine the comfort of the Meze and sound better than the LCD-2's. Glorious planar bass, open airy soundstage, blah, blah, blah. I don't have golden ears vocabulary, but I can say they are fucking fantastic and my phone drives them with ease. Solid A+ construction too. I've read a bunch of reviews that gave a bunch of differing opinions of the sound. To my ears they take the LCD-2 sound and improve upon it. Better midrange and clearer treble. Individual instruments are easily placed. The rumble from Geddy's Rick (the most glorious sound in the universe) sounds better on these by far. Most compare them more directly with the LCD-4 which is 3x the price. I've never heard those so I can't comment. What I can say is that they are well worth the price of admission. Endgame? Nothing is endgame, but these will quell the upgraditis for a few years.

Only problem is now I want to upgrade my signal chain....

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sweet  Navy. It's been so long since I've been in the market that I'm totally out of the loop. Seems like every year new appealing products get hyped. I'll have to look those up. Glad your happy with your new cans.  That's a very strong recommendation.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've purchased 3 pairs of headphones in the last two weeks. So far I've only listened to the first ones to arrive, the $209 Sivga Phoenix. They sound really good to me, similar to my Fidelio X2's maybe a little better with good bass and I like them quite a bit for my purposes. But they're not the most comfortable headphones I've ever used. They call them over ear but for me they sit on ear so after a couple of hours my ears start to hurt. I'm hardly an audiophile though, unlike many others here I really do mostly listen to poorly recorded goat and black metal MP3's. So if these cans have any shortcomings in the treble or midrange or anywhere I probably haven't even noticed. 

 

The LCD-2C have been here for a couple of days now and I've opened the box and looked them over and fondled them a bit but tbh I've been almost scared to plug them in and try them out in case they're not all they have been built up to be. I've been busy this week and it's just been easier in the evenings when I'm tired to just put on the headphones that are sitting there and already plugged in ready to go. I guess this weekend I will have to make time to try all my other new headphones out.

 

Also have my Assdrop Hifiman Edition XX here since yesterday and I haven't even opened the box yet. They were $519 buy it now or a $399 opening bid on Ebay. Not wanting to spend $500 I put in a low bid with 6 days to go and then when I bought the LCD's I figured I just wouldn't pursue the XX anymore. But no one came along to outbid me so I had to buy them as well for $410.

 

Now Navy brings these other Quad Era-1's to my attention and I'll just have to put them out of my mind for now because I don't need a 4th new pair of headphones right now. I have 3 and I only meant to buy 2. Lemme see how these other two new ones sound first and then I'll decide which ones I want to keep and which ones I could sell if any.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Join Metal Forum

    joinus-home.jpg

  • Our picks

    • Whichever tier of thrash metal you consigned Sacred Reich back in the 80's/90's they still had their moments.  "Ignorance" & "Surf Nicaragura" did a great job of establishing the band, whereas "The American Way" just got a little to comfortable and accessible (the title track grates nowadays) for my ears.  A couple more records better left forgotten about and then nothing for twenty three years.  2019 alone has now seen three releases from Phil Rind and co.  A live EP, a split EP with Iron Reagan and now a full length.

      Notable addition to the ranks for the current throng of releases is former Machine Head sticksman, Dave McClean.  Love or hate Machine Head, McClean is a more than capable drummer and his presence here is felt from the off with the opening and title track kicking things off with some real gusto.  'Divide & Conquer' and 'Salvation' muddle along nicely, never quite reaching any quality that would make my balls tingle but comfortable enough.  The looming build to 'Manifest Reality' delivers a real punch when the song starts proper.  Frenzied riffs and drums with shots of lead work to hold the interest.


      There's a problem already though (I know, I am such a fucking mood hoover).  I don't like Phil's vocals.  I never had if I am being honest.  The aggression to them seems a little forced even when they are at their best on tracks like 'Manifest Reality'.  When he tries to sing it just feels weak though ('Salvation') and tracks lose real punch.  Give him a riffy number such as 'Killing Machine' and he is fine with the Reich engine (probably a poor choice of phrase) up in sixth gear.  For every thrashy riff there's a fair share of rock edged, local bar act rhythm aplenty too.

      Let's not poo-poo proceedings though, because overall I actually enjoy "Awakening".  It is stacked full of catchy riffs that are sticky on the old ears.  Whilst not as raw as perhaps the - brilliant - artwork suggests with its black and white, tattoo flash sheet style design it is enjoyable enough.  Yes, 'Death Valley' & 'Something to Believe' have no place here, saved only by Arnett and Radziwill's lead work but 'Revolution' is a fucking 80's thrash heyday throwback to the extent that if you turn the TV on during it you might catch a new episode of Cheers!

      3/5
      • Reputation Points

      • 4 replies
    • I
      • Reputation Points

      • 1 reply
    • https://www.metalforum.com/blogs/entry/52-vltimas-something-wicked-marches-in/
      • Reputation Points

      • 3 replies

    • https://www.metalforum.com/blogs/entry/48-candlemass-the-door-to-doom/
      • Reputation Points

      • 1 reply
    • Full length number 19 from overkill certainly makes a splash in the energy stakes, I mean there's some modern thrash bands that are a good two decades younger than Overkill who can only hope to achieve the levels of spunk that New Jersey's finest produce here.  That in itself is an achievement, for a band of Overkill's stature and reputation to be able to still sound relevant four decades into their career is no mean feat.  Even in the albums weaker moments it never gets redundant and the energy levels remain high.  There's a real sense of a band in a state of some renewed vigour, helped in no small part by the addition of Jason Bittner on drums.  The former Flotsam & Jetsam skinsman is nothing short of superb throughout "The Wings of War" and seems to have squeezed a little extra out of the rest of his peers.

      The album kicks of with a great build to opening track "Last Man Standing" and for the first 4 tracks of the album the Overkill crew stomp, bash and groove their way to a solid level of consistency.  The lead work is of particular note and Blitz sounds as sneery and scathing as ever.  The album is well produced and mixed too with all parts of the thrash machine audible as the five piece hammer away at your skull with the usual blend of chugging riffs and infectious anthems.  


      There are weak moments as mentioned but they are more a victim of how good the strong tracks are.  In it's own right "Distortion" is a solid enough - if not slightly varied a journey from the last offering - but it just doesn't stand up well against a "Bat Shit Crazy" or a "Head of a Pin".  As the album draws to a close you get the increasing impression that the last few tracks are rescued really by some great solos and stomping skin work which is a shame because trimming of a couple of tracks may have made this less obvious. 

      4/5
      • Reputation Points

      • 3 replies
×
×
  • Create New...