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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Reviews: Metallica, Tracer, Haken

Metallica: Beyond Magnetic (Download-only)

This is a download-only release that compiles the tracks that were left off Metallica's last album Death Magnetic and was released to celebrate Metallica's 30th anniversary. It also continues in the same vein as Death Magnetic with 'Tallica returning to their thrash roots and also maintaining their modern touch. The tracks are also as long as they were on Death Magnetic with all of them well over 5 minutes. Kicking off with Hate Train the EP starts in powerful way as the song has thrash riffing before kicking into a Black Album-like groove on a song that has much in common with the track Fuel. The next track Just A Bullet Away has a relentless riff before it switches into a slower soaring solo section and then back into the main riff. The creeping (death) Hell And Back slows the pace a bit with its slow burning intro and the heavy mid-paced riffage on a track that could have easily had as much airplay as The Day That Never Comes. The final and longest track is the 8 minute epic Rebel Of Babylon which sees the band spitting venom on the razor sharp riffage before the chugging chorus kicks in and is followed by a face melting solo from Kirk. All of these tracks are top quality and could have easily replaced any of the tracks on Death Magnetic and would not have been out of place. A nice little stopgap that fills a void that Lulu has left and reminds people of the great band Metallica were/are/and still can be as long as they keep releasing stuff like this it is just a shame it's only an E.P. 7/10

Tracer: Spaces In Between (CoolGreen Records)

Tracer are a hard rocking trio that hail from Australia, they have released this album which is their major label debut and it rocks hard! Coming out like a mix of classic blues rock trios like Grand Funk Railroad and ZZ Top, before adding fellow countrymen Rose Tattoo and Wolfmother and then topping with a large dose of 90's grunge rock in the style of Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. The band have released an album that rocks like a bastard. They have great guitars and bass handled by brothers Michael and Leigh Brown both of which are backed by the smashing (literally) drums of Andre Wise. Michael also handles the vocals which have much in common with Chris Cornell especially prevalent on The Bitch and Walk Alone. His brother Leigh handles the vocals for one track the bluesy and propulsive Louder Than This. The band where their hearts on their sleeve and on each track you can hear elements of them. The title track has a very Kashmir vibe and the opening track Too Much sounds like The Answer (no wonder it's doing the rounds on rock radio) and Devil Ride has a very QOTSA sound. Despite the similarities to other bands the band play every track with precision and enthusiasm and this shows on the album. All in all a confident album from a young band that I expect will go on to great things. 8/10

Haken: Aquarius (Sensory)

Released in 2010 this is Haken's first album and is a collection of fantastic progressive rock/metal tracks the album is just over an hour and features just 7 tracks all of which are over 5 minutes long with four clocking in at over 10 minutes. The album revolves around the concept of a couple that have a Mermaid daughter. Again all of the band play excellently with the guitars and keys of Richard Henshall being the main focus of the band as he is also the bands primary writer. Ross Jennings' superb vocals also take the forefront albeit with slightly less expression than on their latest album. Unlike their latest album the band use more extreme influences that are merged with their progressive mix they feature heavily on the first two tracks with Streams being especially jarring as it merges the Genesis like first part with a doom laden middle complete with Opeth style guttural roars which show the talent of Ross Jennings' voice. The jazz influence features heavily on the opening track The Point Of No Return which has changing time signatures and a jazz influenced middle eight. Third track Aquarium is a huge ballad that features some excellent guitar playing and has a huge scope in sound. Eternal Rain is perhaps the weakest track on the album as it follows the progressive rulebook by having changing time signatures and tight technical playing still excellent but defiantly the most 'generic' track. Drowning In the Flood has much in common with Dream Theater, with Sun following as an acoustic psychedelic track that brings a Middle Eastern vibe adding bongos and subtle playing from all concerned and a Pink Floyd guitar solo. The final track is the majestic Celestial Elixir which is both the longest and possibly the best on the album. It melds all of their influences of jazz, rock and metal and also adds the small offshoots and almost comedy asides to keep the track interesting. Much like their newest album Visions this is a fantastic album that is among one of the best progressive albums of the last 10 years and probably will still be one of the best in another 10 years. 10/10

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