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Friday, 4 November 2011

Reviews: Steel Panther, Sylosis, Redemption, MaYaN

Steel Panther: Balls Out (Universal Republic)

The most serious band of the 1980's have returned with their new album which is filled with anti-government protest songs with deep meaningful messages...PSYCH it's actually the new filth ridden Sunset Strip homage from 80's throwbacks Steel Panther. With lyrics such as "Hit her in the shitter, treat her like a Critter. Fuck that lady right!" You know what to expect from this second album. Firstly and foremost has the joke worn thin...well not really as the music is still as authentic as always showing that unlike many 'real' bands the Panthers can play. The jokes are still pure filth and puerile but it's how far they go that makes them funny; many lines are crossed in this album but all of them with the trademark humour that endeared the legions of fans to them in the first place. So secondly is this album as good as Feel The Steel well the cultural references are still there with Tiger Woods, Charlie Sheen and Chris Brown all mentioned in the songs. The Motley Crue, Bon Jovi and Def Leppard style songs are still there, the latter most prominent on the misogynistic That's What Girls Are For. The large ballads such as If You Really Really Love Me and Weenie Ride (Which has to be the sequel to Community Property) are still epic and the songs rock hard however the album just doesn't seem to have the overall zing of the first album, I think this may be due to the lack of special guests on this album, obviously Panther wanted to make an album that was more 'them' but I think it suffers for that, on Feel The Steel appearances from Corey Taylor, M Shadows, Scott Ian and Justin Hawkins made the album funnier as it featured 'proper' musicians having fun like the massive metal party Steel Panther is supposed to be, the fact that in my opinion It Won't Suck Itself featuring Chad Kroger (who is not ad versed to writing filth himself, and co-writes this track) is probably best track on the album and features a killer solo from Nuno Bettencourt from Extreme makes it even better and illustrates my point. Panther should have continued to be the party rock band they are live and invited even more diverse artists to feature. (My own choice would be Lou Reed, as it would have stopped LULU). A well-played, produced and written album that is equal but certainly no better than their debut. 7/10

Sylosis: Edge of The Earth (Nuclear Blast)

After seeing these modern thrashers live twice I decided to purchase their latest album to see if they translate as well onto disc as they do live. I'm pleased to say they do, their brand of technical modern thrash with melodic prog influences and death vocals makes for a very good listen and most importantly a very heavy one. The majority of the songs are heavy speedy thrashers or crushing metalcore style riffs much akin to heavier version of Trivium or a more modern Machine Head. After original vocalist Jamie Graham left many believed that they would fold however lead guitarist Josh Middleton has stepped up to the plate admirably giving growls, barks roars and the occasional clean passage real power as well as providing some incredibly tasty lead breaks, check out Empyreal for an example. The rest of the band are tight as they are heavy and give every song their all, the production is also modern and crisp meaning that this release is well above that of many of their peers. This album would only really appeal to fans of this type of modern thrash as I could see the vocals putting some people who prefer clean singing not going for it as there is very little. If Sylosis keep this up the future of British metal is in good hands. 8/10

Redemption: This Mortal Coil (InsideOut)

The US Prog-metal psuedo-supergroup Redemption return for their fifth album and it is more of the same, technical heavy and melodic tracks that come from the Fates Warning, Shadow Gallery, and Symphony X style of prog-metal. Current Fates Warning singer Ray Alder again takes the lead vocals on this album as he did on their last album the fantastic Snowfall On Judgement Day and again the writing is all done by guitarist/keyboardist Nick Van Dyk who on this album deals with his own morality after recovering from a rare cancer, despite the depressing subject matter (as Redemption seem to thrive on) the album is filled with melodic, technical metal that is based more on song writing than some of the virtuoso musicianship that comes from other bands in this genre. Stylistically I would make the link between Redemption and latter-day Symphony X. The keyboards are understated and flow with the heaviness of the tracks, the guitar playing from Van Dyk and Agent Steel guitarist Bernie Versailles is stunning with solos galore coming from both; check out the epic 9 minute+ Dreams From The Pit for all your soloing needs and Begin Again being the best introduction to Redemption's sound. The album clocks in at over 70 minutes but it really fly’s by with some of the shorter songs such as Noonday Devil and the opening track Path Of the Whirlwind filled with speedy riffing and classic metal pretentions albeit with odd time signatures. Redemption are no strangers to ballads ever with Let It Rain being one of the best  The album is nothing new as I have said (something that can affect a score) but when the quality is this high then that really doesn't come into effect. As starting point for Redemption This Mortal Coil is great but Snowfall... is still their magnum opus. 8/10

MaYaN: Quaterpast (Nuclear Blast)

Billed as a Symphonic Death Metal Opera, MaYaN is the brainchild of Dutch guitarist and grunter Mark Jansen formally of After Forever and founder member of Epica. Jansen handles the grunts and screams but not the guitars on this album. He has assembled and all-star cast to aide him with this concept 'opera'; the production comes from symphonic metal producer’s extraordinaire Sascha Paeth and Miro (Kamelot, Epica, Avantasia etc.) and features the vocal talents of After Forever/ReVamp vocalist Floor Jansen, Epica and Sons Of Seasons chanteuse Simone Simons and Sons Of Seasons/Metalium singer Henning Basse. The album mixes all of Jansen's former bands as it is equal parts Epica and After Forever with both Floor and Simone giving top notch performances, however there is an extra layer added to the standard symphonic metal sound with Miro's choirs and orchestrations being professional. Another revelation is Henning Basse who sings on nearly every track meaning that it isn't all death grunting and screaming from Jansen and his band who also handle grunts and screams meaning there are some different voices on each track. Some have a more classic/power metal sound like Bite The Bullet (co-written with AF guitarist Sanders Gommans), some are straight up death metal like War On Terror and the album is punctuated by small choral songs that are sung by choirs and soprano Laura Marci. This is an epic album that will appeal to fans of Jansen's other projects and also those of progressive/symphonic death metal in general. This is a great album from some of the industry’s best performers. 8/10 

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