Day 11 (Love Muffin)
These brazen rockers out of Youngstown have gotten a lot of mileage from the fact that boxing phenom Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik uses their hard-hitting tune "Point Blank" as his theme song. But the band goes for a more melodic, Incubus-derived sound on Day 11, its full-length debut. That's apparent from the opening title track, which features plenty of dynamic range. Too bad singer Billy Smaltz's hoarse vocals don't have the ability to match the music's subtleties. He's best suited to bludgeoning tunes such as "Divide," "It Grows" and the anti-war screed "Ricochet." - Jeff Niesel
The Dead Matter: Cemetery Gates (Entity)
This time around, the Midnight Syndicate guys draw inspiration from their forthcoming film, The Dead Matter, though they emphasize this release isn't a soundtrack for the movie. Rather, the film's subject matter (a woman tries to contact her dead brother by using a vampire relic) provided the basis for this disc. As a result, songs such as "Across the Chasm" and "Shadows Descend" sound particularly creepy, with their pulsating piano crescendos and orchestral flourishes. There's not much here that deviates from other Midnight Syndicate releases (though the "bonus tracks" are a little more rock-oriented than usual), so you can expect to hear this music in haunted houses everywhere come Halloween. - Niesel
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