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Noosphere - "Always And Never" (CD)

Noosphere - "Always And Never" CD cover image

"Always And Never" track listing:

1. You
2. Falling Down
3. Abandoned
4. Life Sentence
5. Mind Control
6. Damn Me
7. Worlds Apart
8. Leaving Myself
9. Dysfunctional Reality
10. Waiting

Reviewed by on September 4, 2009

"The one downside to the disc is that it sometimes does have a been-there-done-that feel to it. The choruses especially can tend to blend together. "

If you turn on your local hard rock radio station at around 5 p.m. on a weekday, you're going to probably hear something that sounds a lot like Noosphere's "Always And Never." It's a radio rock sound born of thick, sludgy mid-tempo guitars, hammering drums, and a singer spitting out the lyrics with just a hint of growl in the back of his throat.

It's not that Noosphere does anything new with that template that makes me recommend the disc — it's that the band blends essentially work to perfect that format. After playing around the East Coast for half a decade, sharing stages with Slayer, Killswitch Engage and Dope, these Pennsylvania-based boys know how to play off each other well.

Take "Worlds Apart," with guitarists Kevin Hightower and Frank Wright playing two wildly different but interlocking parts, while Morgan Phillips' bass rumbles menacingly in the background. I really enjoyed Phillips' bass playing throughout the disc for the heaviness it brought, evoking both Geezer Butler and Les Claypool in some ways. "Leaving Myself" has an especially successful beginning, with Phillips and drummer Ryan Jarrell working exceptionally well together.

Brad Kelly's vocals do a lot to give the band a heavier feel than say Nickelback, with occasional growls and screams that almost evoke death metal. He's also quite adept at the quieter stuff, with "Worlds Apart" being his finest moment in that department, though all votes will be counted for the ballad "Waiting."

The one downside to the disc is that it sometimes does have a been-there-done-that feel to it. The choruses especially can tend to blend together. Still, there aren't any genuinely bad songs here.

Sure, Noosphere's "Always And Never" sounds like what's on the radio, but they've taken that sound and refined it well. If I'm in my car during drive time, this'd be just what I'd want to hear.

Highs: "Worlds Apart" features great playing and singing; expert bass and drum work on "Leaving Myself."

Lows: Some of the songs tend to sound alike, especially in the choruses.

Bottom line: Modern radio rock at its best.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)