Heavy Alternative Rock

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Heavy Alternative Rock, also known as Alternative Hard Rock, is a catch-all sub-genre used to encompass the various alternative rock artists that play heavy music that don't necessarily descend, at least directly, from the traditional hard rock spectrum. It notably includes grunge and post-grunge bands, both of which can be heavy but of a different heritage to traditional blues based hard rock acts, but it may also include actual hard rock acts and releases that borrow heavily from alternative rock to create a fusion sound. Some examples of this include Nickelback (hard rock/post-grunge), Dizzy Mizz Lizzy (hard rock/alternative rock) and Foo Fighters (hard rock/alternative rock/post-grunge), at least on some releases, such as Wasting Light (2011).

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Showing only albums and EPs | Based on members ratings & MMA custom algorithm | 24 hours caching

THE SMASHING PUMPKINS Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness Album Cover Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness
THE SMASHING PUMPKINS
4.55 | 27 ratings
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THE SMASHING PUMPKINS Siamese Dream Album Cover Siamese Dream
THE SMASHING PUMPKINS
4.43 | 17 ratings
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COHEED AND CAMBRIA The Afterman: Ascension Album Cover The Afterman: Ascension
COHEED AND CAMBRIA
4.54 | 12 ratings
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PEARL JAM Ten Album Cover Ten
PEARL JAM
4.22 | 67 ratings
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COHEED AND CAMBRIA The Afterman: Descension Album Cover The Afterman: Descension
COHEED AND CAMBRIA
4.50 | 11 ratings
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PEARL JAM Vs. Album Cover Vs.
PEARL JAM
4.20 | 33 ratings
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SOUNDGARDEN Superunknown Album Cover Superunknown
SOUNDGARDEN
4.12 | 77 ratings
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COHEED AND CAMBRIA Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness Album Cover Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness
COHEED AND CAMBRIA
4.11 | 44 ratings
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NIRVANA Nevermind Album Cover Nevermind
NIRVANA
4.04 | 74 ratings
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COHEED AND CAMBRIA Year of the Black Rainbow Album Cover Year of the Black Rainbow
COHEED AND CAMBRIA
4.10 | 21 ratings
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INCUBUS (CA) Morning View Album Cover Morning View
INCUBUS (CA)
4.31 | 8 ratings
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STONE TEMPLE PILOTS Purple Album Cover Purple
STONE TEMPLE PILOTS
4.12 | 14 ratings
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Pike 291 - Fogray
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BUCKETHEAD
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Pike 288 - Liminal Monorail
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BUCKETHEAD
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Pike 287 - Electrum
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BUCKETHEAD
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heavy alternative rock Music Reviews

BUCKETHEAD Pike 291 - Fogray

Album · 2021 · Heavy Alternative Rock
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siLLy puPPy
And although almost a week after Easter 2021, a new egg has hatch in the coop of the eccentric BUCKETHEAD who has taken on another weird trait of releasing his PIKE series out of numerical order with PIKE 291 - FOGRAY coming out before any sign of #s 290 and 291 not to mention that #s 285 and 286 are still missing from the cue. As with other album titles i have no idea what FOGRAY refers to as it’s probably some weird puzzle reference. This is the 3rd PIKE of 2021.

This standard 30-minute PIKE only features 2 tracks, the short less than 6-minute alternative rocker “Piston” which takes on that by now all too familiar style that BH has released on numerous PIKEs but doesn’t really add anything new to the mix. In other words it’s a throwaway track designed as a musical fluffer i guess.

The album is basically nothing more than the 24-minute title track that pretty much follows the opening tracks slightly faster than mid-tempo grooviness with rockin’ bass and drums and a few breakdowns for some guitar antics. There is a noticeable dark ambient atmosphere that sort of swirls around in the background while the chugga chug guitar parts create some nasty grungy sounds. The tones and timbres are quite well polished even if the music itself is fairly by the books. It’s yet another one of those familiar tracks that pretty much engages in a monotonous cyclical loop of grooves that adds a few guitar tricks here and there but doesn’t justify the playing time.

I’ve grown quite bored with most of BUCKETHEAD’s recent editions to the PIKE universe because as someone who has taken the time to listen to every single one of the near 300 installments, i have to say that dude has simply been recycling the same old tired ideas now for quite some time and clearly more interested in quantity over quality. Despite it though i still continue to check out every new PIKE because every once in a while the chicken lover pulls a diamond out of a hen’s arse and actually rocks my friggin world.

As for PIKE 291 - FOGRAY, this one is just one more instrumental reworking of countless tracks on numerous PIKEs from the past and although performed well and engineered perfectly i’ve long grown weary of this incessant cookie cutter approach. What happened to all that energetic passion from the early days? Dude doesn’t even crank out metal much any longer as this is nothing more than heavy alternative rock. Oh well. OK but certainly not a PIKE i will ever be revisiting for sure.

BUCKETHEAD Pike 288 - Liminal Monorail

Album · 2021 · Heavy Alternative Rock
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siLLy puPPy
For his first act of 2021, the prolific artist known as BUCKETHEAD released not only one but TWO editions of the PIKE series on the 27th of February in the calendar year of 2021. First came “Electrum” and then came PIKE 288 - LIMINAL MONORAIL which seems to suggest that a phase change is taking place in BUCKETHEADLAND, a most welcome changing up of things and mercy me we all love change in these tumultuous times! HA!

PIKE 288 - LIMINAL MONORAIL is one of the shorter PIKEs as of late with a playing time of only 27 minutes and 31 seconds but still within the near 30 minute parameter of all but the earliest known hatchlings in this series. Unlike the previous edition which consisted of a sole track that swallowed up almost the whole album with a couple squeakers at the end, this PIKE features two tracks roughly of the same length.

The opening title track is the lengthiest of the two with a playing time of 16 1/2 minutes and features the already established BH playbook style of alternative heavy rock synthesis of grungy distorted guitar riffs accompanied by bass and drums and an atmospheric backdrop of synth rich mood enhancers. BH seems to have gotten a hold on making these sprawling behemoth tracks a tad more interesting with more dynamic guitar variations, drumming expansionism and nicer production tones which expand into infinity. Chord progression-wise, LIMINAL MONORAIL does evoke a sense of been there done that as there is nothing substantially different from a gazillion other PIKEs of this style. I’m not sure why BH is intent on replicating the same compositional formula ad nauseam but for whatever reason he does just that.

“Hawksglide” provides the perfect soundtrack for a, well you guessed it, gliding through the air as it is totally airy with echoey guitars at a slow tempo and atmospheric embellishments. This one is very much like a gazillion other BH releases of the past and nothing special really. In fact the echoey ambient nature of the track is actually not very pleasing to my ears for whatever reason. It’s OK and nothing overtly horrible but geez, where did the creativity go from this once prolific artist that could totally create a shock and awe at a moment’s notice? Not here in this one. Overall a decent PIKE but not as pleasant as the preceding PIKE.

BUCKETHEAD Pike 287 - Electrum

Album · 2021 · Heavy Alternative Rock
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siLLy puPPy
After a long absence, the seemingly indefatigable BUCKETHEAD returns in 2021 with another edition of his PIKE series. Far from the hundreds of albums released in 2014-15, in 2020 BH only unleashed nine hatchlings onto the world.

PIKE 287 - ELECTRUM is the first baby chick to emerge from the coop in 2021 and BUCKETHEAD is continuing to release the numbered PIKEs out of order since the previous edition was “Pike 284” therefore 285 and 286 are still in the hatchery. My guess is that he has been incubating many of these for a while and simply releases them once they are done at varying rates.

PIKE 287 - ELECTRUM is yet another near 30 minute experience which features only three tracks however this one is unique in that the opening title track runs just over 24 minutes and the other two tracks are both under 3. Of course BUCKETHEAD plays all instruments and this was released digitally only but unfortunately unlike the misleading price of 13 cents on the PIKE covers, this PIKE goes for 8.99$.

The title track is pretty much the entire PIKE and features the by-now typical arrangement of guitars, bass, drums and a bit of keyboard ambience. This is basically alternative rock with crunchy guitar riffs nurtured into a melodic construct with slower parts and more upbeat cadences of heavier rock. While implementing the tried and true formula of a post-rock styled cyclical loop that incorporates a single melody that alternates with a few others, “Electrum” crafts a tapestry of varying dynamics and subtle guitar differences that sprawl out to a whopping 24 plus minutes. Decent but nothing out of the ordinary either however diverse enough to be entertaining. 
“Astro Backyard” starts of with clean arpeggiated guitar but then adds some of those clucking heavier alt rock guitar riffs. This one is pretty cool as it has interesting rhythmic chops and dynamic shifts from heavy to softer. Short and sweet but satisfying.

“Archway” is the heaviest track on board with an instant heavy guitar riff and a choppy time signature. Alternates with what almost sounds like black metal guitar tones. Another nice short but sweet mix of heavy and less heavy.

Not a bad PIKE, in fact one of the better ones of recent memory however still not in the league of when the series began. I much prefer the last two short tracks over the sprawling title track opener and wish that there would’ve been a reallocation of time with the last two at least being doubled in length however as these alternative rock PIKEs go, this one is worthy of hearing again as it employs new ideas and there is an effort to keep things from sounding too repetitive.

SHINING Animal

Album · 2018 · Heavy Alternative Rock
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siLLy puPPy
After “Blackjazz,” SHINING got increasingly more commercial by jettisoning its prog and jazz complexities after adopting a heavier extreme metal style with vocals but after that high note that caught the world’s avant-garde metal and prog communities by storm, this Norwegian band led by Jørgen Munkeby seemed to be going for a crossover appeal that would hopefully thrill alternative metalheads and hard rockers worldwide. By the time we get to the band’s eighth studio album ANIMAL everything progressive and jazz had been totally abandoned and even the metal was tamped down in order to make a watered down form of alternative heavy rock that sounded more like heavier versions of the Stone Temple Pilots or Foo Fighters than anything that came before.

ANIMAL was recorded by the same lineup as “International Blackjazz Society” except that it added bassist Ole Vistnes who replaced Tor Egil Kreken. Most surprisingly of all is that the famous saxophone squawking that had been one of the few common denominators starting with the early post-bop albums and through the experimental King Crimson inspired prog era had been completely dropped for the first time leaving a completely jazz-free album that was focused on the more commercial side of alternative and industrial rock. Gone too are Munkeby’s frenetic Marilyn Manson vocals (for the most part) and replaced by cleaner bad boy band style parts. It goes without saying that SHINING was not interested in pleasing prog and avant-garde crowds any longer and wanted to make some ca$H.

Some tracks like “Fight Song” sound a bit like if Soundgarden hooked up with Muse but ultimately comes off as a cheap imitation rather than something either original or interesting even as pop rock. The album features nine tracks and plays for 38 minutes while featuring one of the least diverse albums of the band’s career although there are a few slow numbers amongst the rather by the numbers hard-hitting alternative rock guitar riff fueled tunes. For anyone who thought that SHINING’s inspiration was limitless, ANIMAL will prove that even a once highly creative and fertile wellspring of ideas can suddenly dry up when hair brained ideas of commercial crossover potential creeps into the picture.

Who’s to say why Munkeby steered the band in this direction. There are many reasons artists go for a more commercial direction and some of them may be quite legit but when it comes to actual execution on ANIMAL, all i can is that this is a very hard one to sit through as it’s completely devoid of inspiration and about as canned as it gets. It reminds me of some of the prog bands of the late 70s that grasped for straws to see if they could fit in with the pop hits of the day but even Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s “Love Beach” sounds like a classic masterpiece in comparison to this limp biscuit. This is one to be avoided at all costs even if you happen to love commercial leaning alternative rock. This is just shamefully bad in about every possible way. Will Munkeby pull off another inventive move to revive SHINING’s sagging career? It’s anyone’s guess but if ANIMAL is any indication, SHINING’s moment has long expired.

AYURVEDA Being

Album · 2008 · Heavy Alternative Rock
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siLLy puPPy
AYURVEDA existed from 2003-2011 and was from Ithica, New York and consisted of Tom Burchinal (vocals and keys), Diwas Gurung (guitar and vocals), Shikhar R. Bajracharya (guitar), Dan Halperin (bass and laptop) and Mike Parker (drums). The band’s name which refers to the Vedic branch of knowledge most associated in the West as a healing system actually comes from Sanskrit and means “the knowledge of life.” This name was chosen because of the band members focusing on personal spiritual practices as well as having an ancestry from the Himalayan nation of Nepal.

The band released two EPs and four albums under the nam e AYURVEDA but also released a fifth album titled “Rato Mato” which was basically a collection Nepalese folk songs adopted to alternative rock but for some reason was released under guitarist Diwas Gurung’s name perhaps to set it apart from the main band’s established sound that was heavily focused on 90s alternative heavy rock with a mix of sounds from bands like Stone Temple Pilots and a lot of Tool. BEING was AYURVEDA’s first full-length album that was released in 2008.

BEING features 13 tracks with most hovering around the 4 minute mark and a few exceeding past 6. AYURVEDA may not be a household name but found regional success and embarked on regular touring schedules. The band was helped by the fact that it worked with producer Alex Perialas who worked on many albums from bands like Anthrax, Testament and Bad Brains. AYURVEDA’s sound has ben described as Tool meets Radiohead with a bit of Led Zeppelin, Beatles and Pink Floyd thrown however unlike the darkened themes of 90s alternative metal bands AYURVEDA focused on spiritual and uplifting themes.

While Tool is certainly the main influence here, the band is less heavy than its LA counterparts and instead delivers more of a Tool lite approach however stylistically it borrows not only those distinct chugging repetitive riffs but the tribal percussion and vocal counterpoints. For some this may come across as too close to the original source but in comparison to other Tool inspired bands like Soen, AYURVEDA somehow works for me on an enjoyability level however there is never a doubt from whence inspiration was derived. The opening track “Universal Mind” was released as a video.

Perhaps not the most original band at this point yet AYURVEDA delivered a polished and professional sounding debut album. While BEING still dwelled a bit too heavy in the Tool department, it’s is different enough to at least warrant investigation. Having more succinct tracks as opposed to Tool’s progressive sprawlers allowed AYURVEDA to construct tighter songs that didn’t outstay their welcome. Despite a job well done, BEING does suffer from copycat syndrome and prevents this album from being essential in any way but for anyone interested in Tool influenced bands, this one is surely worthy of consideration.

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