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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Reviews: Wolfsbane, Haken, 3

Wolfsbane: Wolfsbane Save The World (Self Released)

Having released their last album in 1994 Wolfsbane the gap between that and this album has is longer than that of Chinese Democracy. However this album is superior to Chinese Democracy because unlike Guns 'N' Roses Wolfsbane have stayed true to their original sound, they limited modern influences and lastly they have actually released a good album. Kicking off with the anthemic Blue Sky you know that this classic Wolfsbane with the band playing with all the balls and power they always have. Blaze's voice is sonorous and powerful and his expression covers light and shade. Jase Edward's guitar playing is fantastic as is Danger's drumming and Jeff's bass. The band are partying like it's 1994 with the album sounding like a AC/DC with a snarling go-fuck-yourself punk attitude which actually brings to mind the early 90's rock bands such as The Wildhearts, Thunder and Skin. The tongue-in-cheek Teacher is a small reminder of the humour in early songs such as Kathy Wilson. The autobiographical Smoke And Redlight shows that the band were always the underdogs but were never really fazed by it, this is a cracking track as is the next track Illusion Of Love which starts out as ballad before turning into the soundtrack to a bar-room brawl and features the smoky female vocals of Midland's vocalist Givvi Flynn. If I had to make a criticism it would be that the production is a little raw but this adds to the do-it-yourself vibe of the album and that the songs do sound a little dated but hell this is goodtime rock n roll. So if you like Wolfsbane, Blaze (as a solo artist or when he was in Maiden) or bands like Thunder or The Wildhearts (especially The Wildhearts) then you’re going to love this album, however if modern rock and metal is more your thing then at least give it a listen you  might enjoy it. (I promise it's better than Chinese Democracy) 8/10

Haken: Visions (Sensory Records)

Haken are a progressive rock/metal band from London that was formed by members of the Prog/Gothic metal band To-Mera. This is their second album with their first Aquarius having been released in 2010, very little has changed since then with Haken's sound staying the same as it was on their debut, although before I criticise this I will have to stop as really I can't, Haken's sound is flawless progressive rock with such influences as Rush and Pink Floyd, with the addition of Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree (especially in Ross Jennings' vocal delivery) and also a myriad of other influences ranging from jazz to world music. All of the band are virtuoso in their playing but they are not stuck in an up-their-own-arse groove they are writers of excellent songs that merge all of their influences and also add a real string quartet to flesh out their sound, this means that the keyboards and programming can insert random noises from Super Mario and horror movies to add to the overall effect of the music without detracting from it at all. The soloing and guitar playing is majestic and the bass and drums both technical and also perfectly placed, the production is also crystal clear meaning that no on instrument is given prevalence. To pick a favourite track is almost impossible as this is very much an 'album' with many of the songs merging into one another to create a fantastic vibe. If I was to refer someone I would plump for the 22 minute final/title track which brings in all of the bands influences showing Gilmour-like guitar solos, Ross Jennings expressive vocals which range from James LaBrie's to Frank Zappa's (and everyone in between). The song is upbeat and incredibly catchy as well as being incredibly technical and throwing more curveballs than a major league baseball player; this would be the track that encompasses all of Haken's sound however the album itself is far deeper than one song could allude to. This is truly a progressive (be it rock or otherwise) masterpiece. 10/10

3: The Ghost You Gave Me (Metal Blade)

Returning with their first 'real' album since 2007's The End Is Begun the self-proclaimed hybrid-band have created another creative, inventive and challenging album. The band effortlessly mix genres with Joey Eppard's Geddy Lee-like voice and flamenco influenced acoustic guitar being at the forefront. The rest of the band are all excellent with Daniel Grimsland's bass and Chris Gartmann's drumming providing the track Numbers with a fantastic and unique rhythm. The band play very technical and intricate music with very pop tendencies, I say pop rather than mainstream as you can hear it in the vocal harmonies and upbeat arrangements; this is juxtaposed with the dark lyrics. Overall the band have elements of Tool, Coheed And Cambria, Deftones and some Rush. Tracks like Sparrow, It's Alive and the title track all providing the heavy quota however tracks like One With The Sun and The Barrier having more of a ballad quality. The track Pretty has an almost Smashing Pumpkin's sound to it moving from heavy rock to dreamy psychedelia in an instant. A great album from a very talented band, not everyone's taste but still a very well realised album. 8/10

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