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Monday, 24 December 2012

Best Of The Year 2012

These are in no particular order and I'm doing 20 because...well I can so there. This has been a good year with some cracking albums. These are my top 20 that I have enjoyed numerous times some I have played more than others. I have also included some of the albums that have dissapointed me greatly and these are also included.

Have a merry gift season and heres to a glut of great albums in 2013!

Best Of The Year
  1. Dave Kilminster: Scarlet
  2. Doogie White: As Yet Untitled
  3. Shadow Of The Sun: Monument
  4. Simon McBride: Crossing The Line
  5. Docker's Guild The Mystic Technocracy - Season 1: The Age Of Ignorance
  6. Headspace: I Am Anonymous
  7. Foxy Shazam: The Church Of Rock & Roll
  8. Red, White & Blues: Shine
  9. Sylosis: Monolith
  10. Devin Townsend Project: Epicloud
  11. Slash: Apocalyptic Love
  12. Triaxis: Rage & Retribution
  13. Gene The Were Wolf: Rock N Roll Animal
  14. Black Country Communion: Afterglow
  15. Kamelot: Silverthorn
  16. Rival Sons: Head Down
  17. Threshold: The March Of Progress
  18. Baroness: Yellow & Green
  19. Rush: Clockwork Angels
  20. Gojira: L'Enfaunt Sauvage 
Worst (or most dissapointing) Of The Year
  1. Meatloaf: Hell In A Handbasket
  2. Axewound: Vultures
  3. Steve Harris: British Lion
  4. Manowar: Lord Of Steel (Hammer Version)
  5. Blazre Bayley: King Of Metal

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Live & Dangerous: Limehouse Lizzy

Limehouse Lizzy The Globe Cardiff 22/12/12

One last gig to end the year, I'm not usually one for tribute acts but I have seen Limehouse Lizzy a couple of times and this seemed like a good way to get one last pre-Christmas gig. After a very long wait for the band to appear they finally did explaining that there had been some problems meaning they wouldn't be as loud or move as much as they usually would due to the venues P.A and the 'slippery' stage. The band kicked things off with the one-two punch of Jailbreak and Waiting For An Alibi before launching into a set filled with Thin Lizzy classics with Suicide, Do Anything You Want To Do and Don't Believe A Word all aired in the first set. The large crowd ate it up with smiles all round. The band also threw in a couple of covers with Parisienne Walkways and Out In The Fields added to the main sets, although with the amount of back catalogue that Lizzy have I felt these were a bit needless but maybe I'm just a grumpy bastard as everyone else didn't seem to care. Still after an intermission the band returned full of power and incredible precision, with Tim and Greg peeling off the dual-guitar attack of Robbo and Gorham and Andy Fox smashing the hell out of the drums, the obvious selling point is Wayne Ellis who slings his bass like, has all the charisma and the voice of the late Phil. The band mixed up the set list with the heavier tracks like Cold Sweat full of roaring metal swagger and also played Sarah as a request from an birthday girl who shared the same name. The classics continued with the still awesome Emerald before the main set closed with double whammy of Cowboy Song and The Boys Are Back In Town. Which was met with cheers before the encore of Me And The Boys was followed by a choice of either Black Rose or Whiskey In The Jar however due to overwhelming demand from the very vocal audience they played both ending the set in fine style merging the original three-piece Lizzy with the post-Live And Dangerous era band. This was a great fun gig full of some of the best known songs in rock expertly delivered by possibly the best tribute band on the circuit. 8/10

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Reviews: Absolva, Pig Iron, Dave Kilminster

Absolva: Flames Of Justice (Rocksector/Code 7)

When a band splits because a member leaves there is usually some trauma, when a band splits and the member who leaves is your brother you might be forgiven for years of feuding and backbiting (e.g. The Kinks, Oasis etc.) however Chris Appleton didn't do this after his bassist brother Luke left to join former tour mates Iced Earth, he put their band Fury UK on indefinite hiatus and then set about forming a new band with Fury UK's drummer Martin McNee adding a bassist and a second guitarist. They also adopted a new sound stepping away from the proggy, power metal sound of Fury UK and replacing it with dual guitar harmonies of classic British heavy metal. This is an album imbued with the sound of Priest fighting with Maiden while being fronted by the gritty Mustaine-like vocals of Chris. Speaking of Chris his and Tom Atkinson's guitar interplay weave a very impressive tapestry with lots dual rundowns and some very killer duelling guitar solos, with Martin McNee's drums and Tom Date's bass all adding to the metal attack. Things kick off with Flames Of Justice, Hundred Years and Code Red show the band firing on all cylinders. There is a break in proceedings with the acoustic State Of Grace before the heaviest track on the album From Beyond The Light explodes. This is a great modern metal album that takes influences from classic metal bands. 8/10

Pig Iron: IV (Cherry Red Recordings)

Always a band that seem to be lumbered in the underground Pig Iron have released three solid albums of heavy blues based rock. With their last offering Blues + Power = Destiny they showed more of their blues influence than on their heavier first albums. With this fourth album they have switched fully and have become a fully blues rock band. With this (almost) new direction they also have a new guitarist in the shape of Dan Edwards from former label mates and protégés Sons Of Merrick. He brings a very bluesy guitar vibe and provides swampy electric and clean acoustic playing to the songs as well as some great solos and riffs. The key sound of Pig Iron however has always been the rumbling bass lines of Hugh Gilmour and the ravaged vocals and mouth harp of Johnny Ogle who blows up a storm on the blues rockers like Horseshoes & Hand Grenades and Carve Your Name. The album opens with the very Zep-like stomp of The Tide Within it is punctuated by the acoustic Chapter 6 and Grave's End and ends with the fantastic Low Grade Man which has a terrific Sax solo! This is a very blues rock based album and anyone who cites their earlier heavier work as their favourite may be disappointed at their more bluesy direction but they can still rock with tracks like Good Man, Poor Man, but for everyone else this is great slice of blues rock that is both authentically old school and very modern. 7/10

Dave Kilminster: Scarlet - The Directors Cut (Self- Released)

This is a re-release of Dave Kilminster's debut (and only) solo album and it is simply awesome. This was always going to be the case as Kilminster is Roger Water's touring guitarist/vocalist (doing the Dave Gilmour parts) and formed a band with Keith Emerson. It is the rhythm section of that band that make up the other two players on this album and both of them are simply stunning supplying some cracking drums and some groovy bass flourishes. The album itself starts out with the strangest track selection, the proggy yet funk Silent Scream which is still a pretty good track but is just a bit lacklustre in comparison to the rest of the album however it starts things off nicely. Things pick up on the excellent Static which features some fantastic guitar playing and showcases Kilminster's great James La Brie-like voice to full effect and has all the elements of Dream Theater at their jazziest, the DT trend is continued on the ballad Just Crazy which has all the hallmarks of Hollow Years this is followed by the orchestral and simply beautiful Angel written about his long-time partner, and Panic Room singer Anne-Marie Helder (who contributes backing vocals to the album). The album then moves through genres ranging from acoustic pop ala Jack Johnson on Chance as well as a bit of The Police on Big Blue before really kick off on the latter part of the album with some jaw-dropping solos on Liar and Rain... (On Another Planet). As debut this is pretty much flawless especially for someone that could be lumped into the virtuoso category, it is an album of great songs that feature some fantastic musicianship. This album quickly builds into something very special indeed and is a must for any fans of guitar based music. 10/10

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Live & Dangerous: Devin Townsend Project, Fear Factory

Devin Townsend Project, Fear Factory O2 Academy Bristol 16/12/12

Tesseract were the openers but due to some timing 'problems' I missed them, which does seem to be a recurring problem with this band as every time they tour they clash with something else. Oh well I will see them at some point because by all accounts they were very good

Fear Factory

On the other hand Fear Factory were a different prospect as an instrumental band Fear Factory would work their industrial groove metal to perfection with the precision drumming of Mike Hellier and the unstoppable rhythm of Dino Cazares' guitar. The band were loud heavy and shook the foundations. However they do have one almost fatal flaw, these are the vocals of Burton C Bell who cannot sing, growl yes, sing no. I don't think he hit note while singing clean and this really grated on me. I realise he is a founder member and obviously hardened fans are used to it but it really annoyed me that his vocals were so poor. Still I'm sure if your circle pitting or bringing a wall of death (both of which happened) then you wouldn't notice this and just enjoy the super aggressive metal display. 6/10

Devin Townsend Project

Having only released his new album 'Epicloud' this year, and after a phenomenal show at the Roundhouse with the 'Retinal Circus' I was expecting yet another good show from Mr Townsend and I was not disappointed. Despite spending much of this year touring and with this end of year show he was visibly suffering with a cold but still managed to kick things off in fine style with the start-stop riff of Supercrush! Before Truth was followed by the instrumental ZTO which led into the very heavy and very long Planet Of The Apes. This managed to heave the crowd along nicely, with all Devin gigs they amount to a very good or very bad trip with the songs shifting genres and acoustics nicely, this is combined with the constantly adapting backing images and Devin's strange sense of humour that includes pointing out his 'invisible choir' on (their Def Leppard song) Where We Belong and the taped vocals of Anneke Van Giersbergen. After the kinky monster lust of Vampira Devin (and us) indulged in some jazz hands to new song Lucky Animals before the heaviness resumed with Juular and Grace. He then treated a fan to an acoustic rendition of Hyperdrive! before ending the set with the epic if a little slow Deep Peace which did strike me as an odd choice to end a primarily heavy set with. Redemption came at the hands of the explosive Liberation which was followed by the SYL speech again and then a sped up Bad Devil to end properly. This was a master class of performance with the right amount of peaks and troughs in the set to maintain interest; Devin even managed to get a good sound out of the weirdest venue in the Britain (probably). Can't wait to see him a bit closer to home next time though. 9/10

Friday, 14 December 2012

Reviews: Wolfsbane, Electric Wizard, Shadow Of The Sun

Wolfsbane: Down Fall The Good Guys: Remastered (Self-released)

So on goes the re-issue campaign from Blaze and co Down Fall... is the band's second album and continues in the same vein as there EP and debut album, with songs filled with booze, money, women and politics. Kicking things off with the funky blues of Smashed And Blind before the shout along You Load Me Down. Jase Edwards’s guitars are far more prevalent filling most of the songs with some tight soloing. That's not to say that the bass and drums are slacking as they are both vibrant and driving. Bayley does seem to give a better vocal performance on the Wolfsbane records than he does on his Iron Maiden outings which might be because he is a better fit, his vocals are especially good on tracks like Ezy which ends with a blood curdling primal scream. The album is full of live staples like Black Lagoon and Temple Of Rock. Down Fall The Good Guys still has all of the dirty sleazy hallmarks of Wolfsbane's sound and also improves on it with big ballads like Broken Doll and the blues of Twice As Mean which show their improved songwriting prowess. This remastered edition includes two new tracks that have been taken from original album demos and they fit in with the rest of the album and make two good additions to an already good album with a wide musical scope. 7/10

Electric Wizard: Legalise Drugs and Murder (Satyr IX Productions)

This is cassette that was presented free with Terroriser magazine and has already been released as 7" Vinyl single. It is six tracks long and features the same deep, dark, dope-smoking, doom metal that Electric Wizard does so well. Starting things off with the simply evil, fuzzed up, knuckle dragging riff of the title track you know Electric Wizard are in their comfort zone. The audio is all over the place but this is obviously to give a very retro cassette feel, with the snaps, crackles and lots of tape hiss. Jus Oborns hollered, echoed vocals are still as haunting as ever and his and Liz Buckingham's guitar interplay is great as usual. Satyr IX comes next and is sparse and even slower than the opening track with even more vocodered vocals and some very cultish drumming. As ever Electric Wizard have created six more tracks of headphone music, best enjoyed with some chemical 'accompaniment' (though not needed in my case) the tracks are full of occult lyricism, back masking (on Murder And Madness), head rattling bass and some titanic slabs of doom riffage. There are only really three full songs on this EP with two being instrumentals and one being really an outro piece however the band are still one of the genre leaders, kneel at their altar. 7/10

Shadow Of The Sun: Monument (Self Released)

Hailing from the Rhondda Valley, Shadow Of The Sun have honed this album in the live arena, and all of the band bring their respective talents to it resulting in a very accomplished, grown-up album that draws from neo-prog of Porcupine Tree, some Pink Floyd influences and a very hearty does of Tool. The vocals of Matthew Alexander Powell are strong and have a very wide expressive range meaning he is equally adept to the hard rock of Rising and the acoustic folk of My Heart Is Wild And Overgrown, he is backed by the propulsive percussion of Rhys Jones, the dexterous, voodoo rhythms of Lee Woodmass' bass and the melodic, technical and emotive playing of Dylan Thompson's guitar. These are truly four incredibly talented musicians working together to create a very good album that stretches between the modern metal of Hourglass, the reflective Halo, the technical heaviness of I'm Coming Home, the anthemic Crimson Flags and the almost Beatles-eque Who Cares? This is a fantastic debut album from Shadow Of The Sun and has been expertly produced by Lee Howells. If they continue to create music this good they will be something very special indeed. 9/10

Monday, 10 December 2012

Live & Dangerous: I Scream For Crow, Dodgem X, Shadow Of The Sun

I Scream For Crow, Dodgem X, And Shadow Of The Sun: Buffalo Bar, Cardiff, 09/12/12

So another night of rock in the capital and yet another poor showing from the Cardiff rock fans, playing to a grand total of four paying customers (who were refunded by the nice chaps) the bands put on their respective shows with aplomb. I feel sorry for anyone that missed this because it was a showcase of some fantastic local talent.

Shadow Of The Sun

The Rhondda Valleys finest noise was in full swing tonight with Shadow Of The Sun bringing their progressive, impressive and joyous rock/metal to the capital. Anchored by the hard hitting drumming from Rhys Jones, some very nifty lead bass playing from Lee Woodmas, the heavy rhythm is then enveloped by the hard rocking, crunchy and at times almost ethereal guitar playing from Dylan Thompson; the four-piece are rounded off by the Maynard James Keenan-like vocals of Matthew Powell. Shadow Of The Sun plough a very unique furrow mixing heavy metal with tripped out prog rock and adding a hearty dose of virtuoso playing. So they have a sound that spans Tool, Floyd, Soundgarden and beyond. In such a small space with great sound it is easy to see that with the right breaks this is a band that could really do something huge. They are truly an asset to the Welsh rock scene. 8/10

Dodgem X

And now for something completely different, transporting us back to the late 70's Dodgem X play angry, abrasive, shouty punk rock with tongues planted in their cheeks. The between song banter was excellent describing horrific gym scenes, and being mental. The band were straight up four-chord punk and despite this not really being my thing my head was nodding throughout their alcohol fuelled set, With songs about starting fires, rape and war Dodgem X rally against the norm with their power chord assault that incited some shirt spinning (albeit from SOTS's drummer Rhys). Dodgem X are a real riot of crazy stories and hard hitting punk rock. 7/10

I Scream For Crow

This was I Scream For Crow's first gig as a four piece (after their second guitarist stepped down the night before) however I have never seen the band before so I have no comparison to what they did sound like. On tonight's evidence they are very good, despite this being in their own words a 'posh practice' the band pushed through their set with vigour. I Scream For Crow are a band hard to describe, they have elements of the Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and even Biffy Clyro mixed up with some off-kilter heavy metal with pulsing funky bass and some clever guitar work. The vocals of Rob Thompson are powerful and perfectly suit the multi-genre assault that the band bring. This means that their songs grow on you developing as the set progresses. Upon first viewing, they really impressed me with their style, songs and general good humour about the ridiculous situation of having more bands than punters (in fact all the bands were very good natured about this). I personally will be seeking out I Scream For Crow again if not just gain a better understanding of the band. 8/10

All in all very good night of local rock, however the support from the so called 'scene' was simply abysmal. Three talented bands, in good venue missed by the general populace. I do hope this trend doesn't continue.

 

Friday, 7 December 2012

Live & Dangerous: Cauldron & Preacher

Cauldron & Preacher: Bogiez Cardiff 06/12/12

I am sure more than 25 people in Cardiff like heavy metal however you would not know that if you only attended this gig. If band comes all the way from Canada to play then they should play to more than 25 people in my opinion. Even with the frankly disappointing crowd the night was enjoyable as you will see:

Preacher

Welsh metallers Preacher had an extended set due to the absence of Hate Gauge and they took the extra time with aplomb weaving a web of classic progressive metal with elements of Maiden and Dream Theater, opening with two full on progressive metal tracks the band really impressed me, the guitars were technical and also heavy as lead, the bass and drums worked in glorious tandem and finally the keys added a great melodic edge to proceedings and also keyboardist James Letson is the strangest member of any band gurning, snarling and jumping around like a man possessed. The prog was balanced by some thrash style songs which sped along nicely and with a bigger crowd could have incited some massive pits. However the band do have a slight problem and that is the vocals of Owain Williams, he is a great vocalist with a hearty growl much akin to Phillip Anselmo however it does not fit this type of music. Still the talent there and a band that are visually and musically a very appealing prospect. 7/10

Cauldron

Canadian NWOBHM (or should that be NWOCHM?) revivalists Cauldron hit the stage with their proto-thrash assault and the furious riff of All Or Nothing. With the set list made up of mainly their newest album they ran through a concise set of super-powered metal, with End Of Time, Born To Struggle, Nitebreaker, Summoned To Succumb and the speedy Burning Fortune all coming from newest disc. A few came from previous disc Burning Fortune but surprisingly there were none from their debut. Guitarist Ian Chains, drummer Myles Deck and frontman/bassist Jason Decay all had great chemistry and injected the between song breaks with dry humour before melting more faces with their metal. As usual the sound was great and really filled the room and despite the poor turnout the band gave their all and were warmly received by the fans that were present. Maybe a band of Cauldron's ilk don't have a place in Cardiff, maybe the recession is hitting metal, maybe people are just miserable but all I know is after seeing Cauldron live you can't help but smile. 7/10

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Reviews: Mustasch, Christopher Amott, Gene The Werewolf

Mustasch: Sounds Like Heaven, Looks Like Hell (Regain Records)

Sweden's Mustasch come to bludgeon the ears once again with their sixth album which has more of a stripped back live-in-the studio feel than their last self-titled effort. This is heavy metal at its purest big sledgehammer riffs, pounding drums and some snarling vocals from frontman Ralph Gyllenhammar who also provides the riffage with his rhythm playing which has always been the key to Mustasch's sound. Things kick off with the pacey Speed Metal which turns into the walking riff of The Challenger before the explosive It's Never Too Late which features some of Mustasch's intelligent lyrics that are also a trait of the band. This album doesn't have the little orchestral flourishes of the previous effort which still rates in my top twenty albums of all time but it does have some down tuned doom style playing on Dead Again and the stoner metal of Morning Star has more than an element of Clean My Wounds by COC, these all add variety to an album of powerful heavy metal. This is a good heavy metal album full of big guitars and beefy metal anthems I personally would start with their self-titled 2009 album and then pick this up but as it stands Sounds Like Heaven Looks Like Hell is very good pure heavy metal album. 8/10

Christopher Amott: Impulses (Self Released)

Former Arch Enemy guitarist yet again leaves his brother’s band and goes out on his own and moves away from the super heavy Arch Enemy assault. This is Amott's second solo record and it couldn't be more different than Arch Enemy's melodic death metal assault and also it's differs from his power metal band Armageddon. Impulses is a hard rock record with big riffs and Amott's very melodic vocals crooning over his excellent guitar playing. After the big rock opener of Sea Is Black the second track is a trippy, progressive and acoustically laced track called Lone Wolf which is itself followed by the Pink Floyd-like soundscape Dream Away. This record brings to mind Black Country Communion with its mix of 70's prog and more metallic rock combined with Eastern influences on Back To The Jungle and full on heavy rock on The Storm. This is an accomplished effort of great vocal and instrumental tracks, with Under The Surface, being the pick of instrumentals, from a talented guitarist/vocalist. It's great to hear him expand his musical horizons and he shows that outside of the Arch Enemy fold he can really achieve his own greatness. 7/10

Gene The Werewolf: Rock N Roll Animal (Frontiers)

As soon as the opening chords of Wicked Love hit the volume went up and the beers started flowing, this is punchy, SG toting, party rock n roll from Angus Young's songbook (see the title track and Wicked Love) with songs about dirty women, horny men and the filth that inevitably creates. Frontman Gene (alias of Jon Belan) provides the very Paul Stanley-esque vocals as well as the rhythm guitar, the rest of the band are a ragtag bunch of vagabonds contributing powerful drumming, bruising bass and some sublime OTT soloing. This album however is not a pastiche of AC/DC there is obviously also some Kiss (due to the vocals) as well as any number of party bands you care to mention Light Me Up has the electronic drums sound of Def Leppard which contributes to the distinctly 80's vibe which means of course there are some big keyboards, especially on Heart Of Steel which has the sound of Fall Out Boy covering The Darkness (but is much better than that sounds). In fact the bad boys of Lowestoft are all over this album, it's big ballsy hard rock with tongue placed firmly in cheek which means most of all it's just bloody good fun. It's never going to win awards for originality but it will improve any grey day and bring a huge smile to your face and a steady nod to your head with its mix of bawdy, boozy good-time hard rock. Well done Mr Wolf you have certainly got me howling along too. (Sorry) 9/10

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Reviews: Soundgarden, The Trews, StoneRider

Soundgarden: King Animal (Seven Four Entertainment/Republic)

The Seattle rockers return with their first album since 1996 and with all the original members returning this was set to be a return to their seminal early 90's heyday. From the offset the band gel together as well as ever with opening track, the perfectly named Been Away For Too Long, having a grungy rhythm and Kim Thayil's bright psychedelic guitar. This album certainly has more of the classic rock stylings of Badmotorfinger and Superunknown than the early grunge works; however there is still the odd nod to Seattle miserablism and lashings of trippy psych showed on Non-State Actor which also has a huge Hammond riff. Cornell sounds the best he has been in a while clearly buoyed by revisiting his glory days, I have already mentioned Thayil's guitar sound and with Ben Shepherd's bass being big and billowing, and drummer Matt Cameron gets to stretch himself here more than he does in his day job (Pearl Jam) with the countrified A Thousand Days Before being an example of his propulsive percussion. The entire performance is bolstered by stripped back live sounding production which benefits the natural sound of Soundgarden's new material. After the release of their 'best of', King Animal is the sound of a band both rediscovering their sound but also moving back into their comfort zone ready to show why they are considered to be the top of their genre. 8/10

The Trews: ...Thank You And I'm Sorry (Bumstead)

Canadian rockers The Trews follow their last release Hope & Ruin with a new EP. This is a deliberate shift in style from the last album as this has more of an upbeat party atmosphere. Kicking things off with the fantastically named The Power Of Positive Drinking which is followed the bouncy rocker Leaps And Bounds. The silliness of Herm- Aphrodite (She Was A Guy). Three of the seven tracks feature the guitar presence of Black Crowes' Rich Robinson; he lends his talent to the acoustic blues of Lord Keep Me In Mind, the jangly indie of Oblivion and the big ballad of Not Yours To Love. As usual the production of Geordie Johnson and John-Angus MacDonald is excellent and the band are as usual on form with Colin MacDonald's strong sonorous voice being the main hook over the great musical backdrop of John-Angus' guitar, Jack Syperek's bass and Sean Dalton's drums, all of which are added to by keyboards and organs from Jeff Heisholt. As many who know me will know I love The Trews and this EP is them in their melodic, majestic best giving a small snapshot into their radio friendly but authentic sound perfectly summed up by final track ...And We Are The Trews. Another great little album from the Toronto band. 8/10

StoneRider: Fountains Left To Wake (Self-Released)

StoneRider's last album was released in 2008 and this follow up sees them losing a member and reduced to a trio they have improved their sound, the first album was strong but was a hodgepodge of influences ranging from Zeppelin, to Free bringing in elements of some of the bigger classic rock vibes with fuzzed up guitars and psychedelic elements. This second release has more of a bluesy vibe with many of the songs having the same laid-back rock feel of The Rolling Stones, opener When I Was Young illustrates this perfectly, however there are still some nods to the classics with Hot Summer Nights having an acoustic Led Zeppelin III to it. The vocals of Matt Tanner are gritty and his guitar playing is very good. Stonerider have made an album of hard hitting blues/psych rock that features distorted, feedback guitars, funk bass and some jazzy drumming, they also have more than enough harmonica fill their blues quota (When The Sun Goes Down) and just the right amount of jamming freak-outs and The Doors like groove on Say I Won't and El Dorado. All in all a very good retro rock affair with lots of Stones/Zeppelin. 7/10

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Live & Dangerous: Revoker, Sacred Mother Tongue & Cry Havoc

Revoker, Sacred Mother Tongue & Cry Havoc - Bogiez Cardiff 17/11/12

So another night in Bogiez Rock Bar and Nightclub for a night of British heavy metal. I will admit that I went to this gig for Sacred Mother Tongue as Revoker have never really done it for me, however tonight was my epiphany as they really impressed me but more on that later. First up however were Exeter's Cry Havoc.

Cry Havoc

Billing themselves as Thrash 'n' Roll Cry Havoc delivered just that with equal parts thrash, groove and sleaze metal. The band are lewd, rude and tattooed featuring a dual guitar attack and some screamed/clean vocals from frontman Gav. The band exploded into a short opening set that perfectly showed their obvious talent. They reminded me of Avenged Sevenfold in their City Of Evil phase using classic metal riffage with modern sensibilities and dousing it all with a fuck it all attitude. A7X have never been my favourite band and Cry Havoc are also not a band that I would go out of my way to see but they deliver a feisty cocksure set that will see them gain a lot of fans (that will be considerably younger than me). 7/10

Sacred Mother Tongue

The band of guitar virtuoso Andy James, Northampton's Sacred Mother Tongue mix rock and modern metal to bring a very explosive but melodic attack to their set. The band played a mix of old and new with a lot of the set coming from their new EP A Light Shines the highlights of which were Bleeding Out and the monstrous Seven. Andy James' guitar playing is as usual simply phenomenal his rhythm is chunky, heavy ad filled with groove and his solos are masterful and have melodic precision. This is not a one-man-band however bassist Josh Gurner has his own extreme technical gifts and bounces around the stage like a kid on a sugar rush, the drumming of Lee Newell is also great and shakes the foundations. It's the vocals of Darrin South, who looks like a cross between a giant and a mad wizard, that are also a revelation as they are equally at home screaming as they are producing a powerful croon and can switch with ease. The band continued to rip Bogiez a new one (even when the vocal P.A onstage had exploded) with the would-be classic Two Thousand Eight Hundred. SMT played a set full of groove laden, heavy metal with lots of melodic rock styling’s, which was helped by the great sound that the venue continues to deliver. Great stuff from these modern British metallers. 8/10

Revoker

Rhymney Valley natives Revoker returned to their nation’s capital to prove why they have been featured as support on so many bands UK tours. Their brand of modern thrash that is part Machine Head, part Pantera and part fellow countrymen BFMV has always left me a little cold the last few times I've seen them however they certainly managed to stoke my fire here tonight from the opening shout along chorus of opener Stay Down which features the refrain "It's just another Saturday night in my hometown!" and in the nation’s capital this was close enough to their hometown to incite a riot. They were on fire running through their debut on which they have been touring for a good few years now, as such this is both a blessing and a curse as tracks like Time To Die, Psychoville and Nature Of The Beast were all delivered with extreme tour honed precision however it does mean that their set has become a bit predictable. Despite this Jamie Mathias' voice has become strong with all of their touring. The band's modern thrash inspired many pits and crowd surfing and managed to pull quite a considerable crowd. This was the best I've seen the band, who aired a new track called Killing Floor which was the heaviest track they played and also put in a cover of the TNT that they managed to turn into a Pantera song. Ending on Hate Inside the boyo's managed to create a set of finely tuned thrash that left the crowd battered and grinning from ear to ear. They just need a new album and some new songs to propel them to stardom. 8/10

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Live & Dangerous: Opeth & Anathema

Opeth & Anathema - Rock City, Nottingham 12/11/12

Thanks to Paul Hutchings

So it was another road trip to see Opeth for the 8th time, the nearest they've got to home being the O2 in Bristol. This time some strategy was employed, and an overnight stay at the very comfortable Ibis in the City Centre proved the right move

Anathema

When the dates for this tour were announced, one of the things that excited me most was the inclusion of Anathema as support. I've loved their music for a long time, and Judgement ranks in one of my all-time favourites. They aren't prolific at touring so it was with eager anticipation that I waited as the house lights dimmed and they entered stage right. I was not disappointed. Opening with Untouchables Part 1 from the awesome Weather Systems album. The band appeared in total unison with Lee Douglas' vocals supporting the lead from Vincent Cavanagh. The band then went straight into Untouchables Part 2 before five other classics wrapped up their set. These included Thin Air from 2010's fine We're Here Because We're Here and my overall favourite Deep from Judgement. There are few gigs where you find yourself catching your breath but this was genuinely one of those moments. The Cavanagh brothers may lead this band but this is one unit where the sum of the parts is definitely greater. I can't wait to see Liverpool's sons again. 9/10

Opeth

Bang on 9pm (both timing and sound impeccable - full marks to Rock City for that) and Opeth's familiar intro music filled the air. As always, little pretention as Mikael Akerfeldt and the group ambled on before launching into the ferocious The Devil's Orchard. What followed for the next 100 minutes or so can only be described as breath-taking. Those who know me are aware that I can easily run out of superlatives for this Swedish unit, so suffice it for me to say that the musicianship was simply stunning. The band have clearly been preparing for this tour and despite a few first night niggles there is a quality and professionalism about them which sets them apart from many so-called bigger metal brothers. The set list itself was immense; Ghost Perdition and main set closer Harlequin Forest came from the Ghost Reveries album; Burden and Hessian Peel from Watershed, a hauntingly beautiful Hope Leaves from Damnation as well as possibly the heaviest track of their career Deliverance. However more incredibly, given that mouth-watering selection, the Swedes (and Uruguayan) pulled pout White Cluster from Still Life and when I had finally picked my jaw up from the floor they threw in their first live performance of Famine from Heritage which was delivered flawlessly. Throw in the double cover of You Suffer from Napalm Death and Mikael's dry banter and you couldn't have stopped me grinning if you tried. Concluding with, unbelievably, Blackwater Park, this gig moved very close to my second best. This gig was second only to their impossible to beat, Royal Albert Hall show. Overall, as you may have gathered this was one of the best evenings for many a year. Awesome 10/10

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Reviews: Wolfsbane, Orden Ogan, Diagonal

Wolfsbane Remasters: All Hell's Breaking Loose Down At Little Kathy Wilson's Place & Live Fast Die Fast (Self released/Orginals on Def America)

Tamworth terrors Wolfsbane will always probably be known as Blaze Bayley's pre-Maiden band. All Hell's... is the band’s first E.P and Live Fast Die Fast is their first full length. These albums have just been remastered and re-released and like with most remasters this is the most recent part of a money spinning exercise, both of these albums have not been available on CD for a while and with the reformation of the band and their newest album the band have remastered these original albums. This is a good thing because the albums sound much louder than the originals and with this increased clarity comes a reflection of the bands power.

Live Fast Die Fast

As a first introduction to a new band you could do worse than Man Hunt which has a relentless riff some explosive drumming from Steve 'Danger' Ellet and its shout-along chorus. This is Wolfsbane's manifesto writ-large, barn-storming muscular metal mixed with bruising hard rock, it's the sound of a young band showing their chops and also showing their hunger. With the benefit of hindsight it baffles me why with a debut like this the band were so overlooked, admittedly they were better known for their live performances than their recorded output, but this is great debut filled with big songs that match Bayley's big voice. The remaster has made the songs clearer and louder and it shows that if they had the breaks they could have been as big as some of their compatriots. Money To Burn is what they could be making if they had been given the breaks. So Wolfsbane's debut is the sound of a band in their young, greasy, turbo-charged glory. 8/10

All Hell's Breaking Loose Down At Little Kathy Wilson's Place

From the opening staccato riff of Steel which is a perennial live favourite and bursts into a great guitar solo from Jase Edwards the foot of the band is never really off the gas pedal with every track having a full-on party metal vibe with all the songs about drinking, fighting and generally having a good time. The frankly mental Loco follows until the break with the acoustic Hey Babe which shows that Bayley can actually sing before the dirty Totally Nude ramps up the filth factor before the Sci-Fi title track finishes things off in truly 'theatrical' style with one of their biggest tracks. This is a great mini-album that has had everything ramped up to 11 and was a great stopgap between full lengths as it perfectly distils Wolfsbane's sound. 7/10

Orden Ogan: To The End (AFM)

When talking about German Symphonic Power Metal it's immediately Krefeld's Blind Guardian that comes to mind however the mighty Bard's now have some serious competition from Orden Ogan who have the same lightning fast guitars, thundering drums, huge choirs and lots of symphonic elements. Things kick off with the awesome title track which after the rampaging first part breaks into a huge guitar dual between guitarists Seeb and Tobi. Despite sounding exactly like Blind Guardian this is by no means a bad thing as if you’re going to imitate then imitate the best. The frankly epic The Things We Believe In comes next with its huge sing-along chant refrain of "Cold, Dead and Gone!" this is a very epic album that features all of the hallmarks that make symphonic power metal so entertaining and will remind fans of why they love the genre. The album is filled with light and shade with folky The Ice King bringing to mind the Bard's Song with its acoustic melodies, the tornado riffage of Dying Paradise and Mystic Symphony both hark back to the speed metal classics before the technical Angels War shows that the band are not averse to 7 minute plus tracks filled with time signature changes. Frontman Seeb has a very Hansi Kursch-esque voice albeit with a lower register but he fits the music perfectly with a wide range which is added to by the fantastic choirs. This is essentially the best Blind Guardian album Blind Guardian never released and Orden Ogen have taken the classic Imaginations From The Other Side sound and made it their own. A great album of stirring power metal that despite its similarities to their countrymen is still very worthy on its own merit. 9/10

Diagonal: The Second Mechanism (Rise Above)

After some severe line-up changes Brighton prog-rockers Diagonal have somehow become less accessible on this sophomore effort than they were on their debut. Having shed at least two members the band have also shed most of their rock leanings now favouring a more jazz orientated approach which brings to mind Van Der Graff Generator and many of the Krautrock originators. The band are very ambient with their keyboard, organ and synth based with jazz drumming and lots of parping sax. The five tracks on this album are very instrumental based with vocals only appearing on the 10 minute mammoth Hulks. This is less of an album more of an experience, it will alienate many people with it's almost anti-rock approach to progressive music but those of more of a 'chemically dependent' lifestyle and anyone who favours the output of Tangerine Dream and Can to Pink Floyd and ELP will discover that this is just one long strange trip. 6/10

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Live & Dangerous: Sabaton, Eluveitie, Wisdom


Sabaton, Eluveitie & Wisdom Great Hall 2 Cardiff 10/11/12

So again to the Great Hall 2 for another night of metal mayhem

Wisdom

So Helloween is the word best to describe Wisdom's sound, the Hungary band have all the hallmarks of the Kiske era of the band sing songs of battle with galloping bass, dual guitars and shrieking vocals. The band were competent if a little generic until they played their penultimate track, preceded by a "Scream For Me Cardiff!" (which drops them a point) the then decided to launch into Maiden's Wasted Years which despite many singing along seemed a bit of a cop out for a band that should be showing off their own songs. This huge faux pa was saved by the final track but I for one was underwhelmed by Wisdom. 5/10

Eluveitie

What is it about folk metal that unites all metal fans? You could be the deepest darkest blackest underground-core metal fan and still have to jig when a band like Eluveitie come on the stage? Folk metal seems to stir the soul of any fan with its mix of full metal band backing and folk instruments. it also stirs every man and woman's desire to drink copious amounts of alcohol. Eluveitie have definitely found their niche as they have all of the hallmarks of Gothenburg death metal especially in frontman Chirgel Glanzmann who snarls and growls with the likes of Anders of In Flames. The electric part of the band play with extreme speed and tenacity ploughing through thrash style songs that are enhanced by the pipes, flutes, violins, hurdy gurdy and Glanzmann's array of wind instruments. The band stormed through their set causing both mass dancing and pitting which was strange to watch but just the sort of reaction that folk metal inspires. This was a great set from a band that plays full throttle folk metal that will inspire even the most hardened and po-faced metal fan to crack a smile. 8/10

Sabaton

As the strains of The Final Countdown ended and The March To War kicked in the anticipation was a tantamount and then it was the first fantastic blast from perennial set opener Ghost Division which got the entire crowd jumping. Then there was some of Joakim's quite entertaining stage banter before the band played a few from their last two albums which despite still being ott power metal full of big riffs, melodic vocals and lots of gusto however they just don't seem to have the same oomph that their earlier material possessed. They then launched into two classics in the shape of 40:1 and Cliffs Of Gallipoli the latter having just a little bit more emotional bearing considering the date. The next song was the fans choice and was between Uprising and Midway it was Uprising that was decided by a nice bit of pantomime before the piano led The Hammer Has Fallen was introduced by both Jump and Abba's Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie which the frontman played on a keyboard. This slowed the set considerably and broke momentum before The Lion From The North and Into The Fire finished the set with furious style. The encore came in the shape of The Art Of War, Primo Victoria and Metal Crue. This was a good set but not the best I've seen them yet it sent the people in attendance home happy and that really is all a band like Sabaton are about. 8/10

Friday, 9 November 2012

Live & Dangerous: Gojira, Klone & Trepalium


Gojira, Klone & Trepalium Great Hall 2 Cardiff 08/11/12

Trepalium

Didn't see much of these but from I saw they were slightly generic death metal with some progressive flourishes, they seemed to have the breakdowns and riffage to move the set along but did nothing much to get the already and unfortunately small crowd going. 6/10

Klone

Klone on the other hand seemed to have an identity crisis, they were unsure whether they wanted to be Pantera, Tool, Alice In Chains or Killswitch. They had groove metal breakdowns and furious thrashy riffage before the next song moved into more progressive arty territory. This did make for a somewhat disjointed listen. They seemed to have the chops but they were not my cup of tea. 6/10

Gojira

No such ambiguity from the French progressive metal merchants as from the end of the intro tape came the mighty heaviness of Explosia and from there on the extreme noise onslaught refused to lament. This gig was probably one of the loudest I have ever attended in such a small venue and in some parts it actually physically hurt. After the first song came Flying Whales and The Heaviest Matter In The Universe and Backbone all came in quick succession insuring that the pit that opened was filled with ferocity. The riffage of the Joe, Christian and Jean-Michel was frighteningly mechanical and intensely technical, with bassist Jean-Michel the main focal point as he jumped around the stage. Gojira have always been defined in my eyes by the drumming of Mario Duplaniter and on this occasion he failed to disappoint bring his double kick barrage to every track making sure that there would be no-one left standing at the end of the show. The band then talked about their love for their large stage head before launching into the title track of the new record L'Enfant Sauvage. With this being a tour for the last release I thought more would be played but the classics came with The Art Of Dying and Toxic Garbage Island following before Wisdom Comes and Ourobouros led to the obligatory drum solo which considering Mario's form throughout the night didn't need to happen as really he had nothing to prove. The main set ended with Clone, The Axe which is not for those with tinnitus and Vacuity the short break gave everyone time to breathe before the encore of new track The Gift Of Guilt which left everyone well and truly destroyed by a truly brutal metal assault. Gojira are not a band that conjures violent pits like say LOG or Slayer but they don't need to, they can do as much damage to an audience with just their instruments and sheer volume than most bands fans could ever dream of doing to each other. Simply an awesome live band! 9/10

 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Reviews: Aerosmith, Black Country Communion, Andre Matos

Aerosmith: Music From Another Dimension! (Colombia)

So Boston mega-rockers Aerosmith return with their first album of new material in 11 years after various splits, reformations, solo albums and American Idol. Unlike the blues-covers album Honkin’ On Bobo this sounds like well Aerosmith, the two opening tracks shows this with the percussive Luv XXX which has an air of Love In An Elevator about it and is followed by Oh Yeah which is a rump-shaking blues-rocker with some soulful backing singing. Now this isn't the old Aerosmith with Perry and Tyler handling most of the writing duties, many of the songs are collaborative efforts with long-time collaborator Desmond Child, Jim Vallance and co-producer Marti Fredrikssen (who co-produces with the band and Jack Douglas). Beautiful has an almost rap verse before the lush chorus kicks in and it's followed by the acoustic Tell Me (which is Crazy by another name). All of the band are working at their best with Tyler's vocals a particular highlight, he sounds as good as ever proving that he was wasted on American Idol wannabe's and Joe Perry's solos are a louche and have a jam feel, which translates to the rest of the album. Many of the tracks seem to have that live-in-the-studio feel to them. This is Aerosmith doing what they do best with sleazy blues of Out Go The Lights which has a great harmonica from Tyler before a guitar solo reprises the funky laden rhythm. Legendary Child is quite a progressive track that brings to mind the eastern influence present on Nine Lives before the super-ballad What Could Have Been Love rock radio dream that segues into the blues/railroad folk storytelling of Street Jesus. At 15 tracks the album does feature some filler Freedom Fighter is one, although I've never liked Joe Perry's voice. It also means that it is quite schizophrenic in its delivery. Can't Stop Lovin' You features Country star Carrie Underwood and sounds like Lady Antebellum (Americans will love it!). Overall this is Aerosmith mixing their influences and harking back. "America's Greatest Rock 'N' Roll Band" have some of the most well-known songs in rock so they don't need to produce an album that will change the world and this album won't it is however with some trimming and cohesion this would be miles better. 6/10

 Black Country Communion: Afterglow (Mascot Records)

There has been a lot of talk that this will be BCC's final album due to Joe Bonamassa's frankly excessive workload. If that does turn out to be true then they could do worse than finish with this album. It is the sum of all of its parts; BCC 1 & 2 was the sound of a band experimenting with their sound drawing together from their talent and influences. This album on the other hand is the sound of a band that have discovered their true sound. With nearly all of the songs penned just by Glenn Hughes it shows that he has not only re-discovered his mojo but also shows that this is what he always envisioned for BCC. From the two epics of the sprawling The Circle and the orchestral title track, along with The Giver (all of which wouldn't sound out of place on Physical Graffiti), to the blues stomp of This Is Your Time and the synth fuelled Midnight Sun which has all the elements of 70's The Who (and even has a drum solo outro Mooney would be proud of). All of the band are the best in their respective disciplines, Bonham’s drums thunder, Sherinian's keys and synths layer everything with huge hooks and melodies, Bonamassa's guitar playing is far more concise and focussed than on his solo works and Hughes voice is still one of the best in rock. This album features some of BCC's finest songs with the hard rocking Cry Freedom (which is Joey B's only vocal performance), the title track and Confessor being the best of a very good bunch. As I have said this is the sound of a band on top form and if this does turn out to be the bands swansong then they have left us with three excellent albums with this one being the most cohesive and possibly the strongest. 9/10

 Andre Matos: The Turn Of The Lights (Cherry Red Recordings)

Brazilian screamer Andre Matos returns with his third solo album and the ex-Angra singer has created another prime slice of melodic/power metal. Things kick off with the mid paced Liberty which has some sterling guitar work from Andre Hernandes and long-time Matos collaborator Hugo Mariutti. This album has a lot more of Matos keyboard talent on it which shows that it's just not his voice that is superb; the progressive and propulsive Course Of Life comes next and has all of Angra hallmarks. This album seems a lot more mature than his previous efforts with less of the balls to the wall bouncy power metal and more reserved, well written, adult metal. I am a fan of Matos screaming over some galloping power metal and this album is quite a big departure from that style. The sparse haunting Gaza shows this change with its big orchestral flourishes before the almost pop-like Stop! also shows how his sound has progressed for better or worse. This is a great album that is a little slower that the two that proceeded it but like I said it is much more mature and does pick up towards the end of the album with the thrashy Oversoul and the super-speed Light-Years. The cover of Fake Plastic Trees is actually quite good in its acoustic delivery. This is Matos expanding his musical palate and doing it well. 7/10

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Live & Dangerous: Huntress & From Ruin

Huntress & From Ruin Bogiez Cardiff 27/10/12

From Ruin

Hailing from the Warminster, female fronted metallers From Ruin play Priest style speed metal with a large amount of modern thrash thrown in. Singer Anita has a great voice with powerful delivery and has a lot of stage generalship. The dual guitar attack was precision filled with melodic riffage and big solos. The songs were a little samey but it can be expected and the operatic delivery could be a bit grating if they were on for any longer but a perfect warm up for the headliners. 6/10

Huntress

Despite only playing a short set they made the most of it by exploding into their Mercyful Fate style metal. The band seemed streamlined and focussed and the pace was breakneck until there was a major gap in the set when frontwoman Jill threw a diva tantrum about a punter and wouldn't continue until he was ejected. This struck me as a bit petty and also as a waste of time in an already short set. The set continued but never really reignited the set despite the grizzled guitar trio playing for their lives and the drummer demolishing his kit, frontwoman Jill showed that she’s more than a pretty face by screaming, growling, shrieking and howling through every song all while stalking the stage like a serial killer. With big tracks like Eight Of Swords and Spell Eater the band have big brash tunes but they too are a little generic with much of their offering sounding the same. This was a short, sharp, shock of pagan metal that featured a little bit of unwanted tension during the middle of the set. 6/10 

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Live & Dangerous: Evil Scarecrow and Counterhold

Evil Scarecrow & Counterhold: Bogiez Cardiff 26/10/12

Counterhold

On my now fourth viewing of the Cwmbran metal machine I can safely say that they have improved yet again. Despite having their lead guitarist missing (which unfortunately meant no solo's) the band still managed to produce a set of finely tuned head crushing metal that was filled with aggression, groove and nods to thrash and classic metal. The band ripped up the venue with some heavy metal destruction in the form of songs like The Beast Within, Children Of A Lesser God and the anthemic Fatal Taunt. The drummer Ryan, bassist Ben and guitarist Karl all made a hell of a racket and they were able to fill the breaks (where the solos would have been) with some quality riffage and drum fills. The highlight of their set is frontman Steve who not only has a powerful expansive vocal range but also is a consummate showman getting the crowd involved by stalking the floor and getting everyone clapping and chanting along. He also has a secret weapon in the form of his lovely wife spinning her poi during their set which was a great visual touch to the brutal metal rampage. Bolstered by some great sound (as were the headliners) Counterhold are defiantly one of the bands to watch as they have some anthemic arena ready songs and give a quality, professional performance that can get everyone head banging, singing and will fill arenas when given the chance. 8/10

Evil Scarecrow

There is a list of things I thought I would never hear or see at a metal gig and tonight many were ticked off that list: Windmilling drummer? Check! Metal cover of the Thundercats theme? (I shit you not) Check! 100 people doing the robot and then doing the can-can to rousing black metal rendition of The Final Countdown? Very much check. Yes Evil Scarecrow's set featured all of this lunacy and much more! To fill you in hailing form Nottingham these metal maniacs blend the black metal of Dimmu and Cradle with some old school metal riffage and shake it all up with Pythonesque madness thrown in. They were possibly one of the funniest, craziest and most entertaining bands I have seen. Opening with the very stupid but heavy as a really heavy thing War And Seek which became the scary (?) Vampyre Trousers. The band had syncopated guitar moves with guitarist Brother Dimitri Pain bassist Kraven Morrdeth and guitarist/singer Dr. Rabid Hell all pulled out their best shapes and were aided and abetted in their madness by keyboardist Princess Luxury and all round nutter (and set destroyer) drummer Ringmaster Monty Blitzfist. For a parody metal band they are no amateurs all of them are tight players and their songs like the bizarre Sixty Six Minutes Past Six are quite progressive. Their own songs are crazy enough with Godzilla's Lament inspiring monster poses, Morbid Witch a sing-along and Thundercats just bringing huge smiles. The set was flawless it was part heavy metal gig part stand-up routine and was filled with some absolutely excellent songs which climaxed in the aforementioned robot dancing during fan favourite Robotron and much can-caning during closer The Final Countdown. Evil Scarecrow are a band that you could watch every week and still be entertained their sense of fun is infectious and they left on as big of a high as the crowd did. Possibly the best, if not the most entertaining, live band on the circuit. 10/10

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Reviews: Kamelot, Malefice, Graveyard

Kamelot: Silverthorn (SPV)

Melodic metal band Kamelot return with a third concept album about a young girl's murder and cover ups and it is also the first release with Tommy Karevik of Seventh Wonder fame replacing the long-term vocalist Roy Khan who left in 2011. The album is pure Kamelot of old, symphonic, majestic and filled with some excellent musicianship. There are choirs, orchestrations and guest female vocals, with the lovely Elize Ryd of Amaranthe and The Agonist's Alissa White-Gluz both contributing. The drums and bass are propulsive on the rockers and understated on the ballads. The guitars of Thomas Youngblood are as fantastic as usual and he has brought back the guitar solos in a big way and Oliver Palotai's keys are melodic and weave fantastically with the guitars also providing his fair share of solos. Changing singers can be a bands downfall however I already know how talented Karevik is due to his work in Seventh Wonder and he is the perfect replacement for Khan as his voice has the same mid-ranged sonorous voice that Khan possessed meaning that very little has changed vocally. After the choral intro the opening track Sacrimony (Angel Of The Afterlife) has all of the Kamelot hallmarks and has all of the three vocalists interplaying brilliantly with Karevik's operatic delivery contrasting with Ryd's haunting classical style and White-Gluz's guttural roars. The rampaging style continues until the haunting Song For Jolee which shows just how good Tommy's vocals are on slower tracks. The pace shifts throughout the album with a mix of rampaging metal and big ballads before the organ drenched 8 minute epic ends the album in truly awe-inspiring style. Like with nearly all of Kamelot's albums the production comes from Sascha Paeth and Miro (who also helps with the orchestrations) and has the same clean style that they are known for. This is Kamelot returning to their classic best after the slightly patchier Poetry For The Poisoned took them into some unknown territory. Concise, powerful and full of pomp this new album could be the start of a second classic era for the band. 9/10

Malefice: Entities-Anniversary Edition (Metal Blade)

British ragers Malefice have remastered and re-released their debut album on the back of their meteoric rise in the metal circles. As this was originally released in 2007 it was always going to sound different to their newest release Awaken The Tides however what is evident is how different it is, this is the sound of a band chomping at the bit, young, hungry and ready to show the world. The album is produced by Justin Hill and Dan Weller of Sikth (with Weller providing guest vocals on Dreams Without Courage). The band are far more aggressive on this album without the years of touring and refinement it means that they have an early Killswitch Engage style with some very violent death vocals and less clean delivery than they have now. Having not heard the original I don't know how good the remaster is but the album sounds bright and modern. The band thrash, blast beat and breakdown through the 12 (original tracks) broken up by two short instrumentals. The additional track Reasons Lost added to this re-release shows how they made the jump to their sound now. Its metalcore sound is of its time but this is a piece of Malefice history and is fitting to show how far they have come since its original release. 7/10  

Graveyard: Lights Out (Nuclear Blast)

The psychedelic Swedes return with their third full length and its more doomy 70's psych rock, lots of fuzzy jangling guitars, jazz drumming and lashings of Hammond organ (especially on opener An Industry Of Murder) this is followed by the gothic soul ballad of Slow Motion Countdown which has a very dark, slow beat and the fractured vocals of Joakim Nilsson ring over the top. This is an album of riffed up retro rock from a band that are truly making waves in the rock world and you can see why the band have all the hallmarks of classic 70's rock the bluesy, bass heavy boogie of The Suits, The Law & The Uniforms through the punky Endless Night and the very Nick Cave sounding Hard Time Loving all of which come together to make this another very good album from the Swedes as it features many of the songs that will sound electric live (this is where the band really shine). Good old school psychedelic hard rock with some new little elements here and there thrown in for good measure. 7/10  
 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Reviews: Manowar, Cradle Of Filth, The Sword

Manowar: The Lord Of Steel (Retail Edition) (Magic Circle Music)

Yet again I review Manowar's new album, this time however it's the 'Retail' edition rather than the edition that came with Metal Hammer magazine. Now as many of you would have read in my previous review I didn't think much of said album mainly because of its hideous disco fuzz bass sound. Now from the opening title track you can hear that it is still present but it has been mixed better meaning that now it fits in with the normal Joey DeMaio soul rattling bass playing. From the sound of this albums production and studio additions I now realise that the 'Hammer Edition' could be seen as a demo version of this album which features the full Manowar production rather than the lack of production that the previous version featured, which meant that the fuzzed bass was the only thing you could hear in most of the songs. Now everything works in conjunction and even on bass heavy Born In A Grave it doesn't overpower the rest of the band. Eric Adam's vocals are still at their meteoric best mainly on uber-ballad Righteous Glory and Karl Logan's guitar brings some chunky riffage and some OTT soloing. The record itself has all been produced so it sounds best when played loud (as all good Manowar albums should be). There are still some of my reservations from the previous review Manowarriors and Hail, Kill And Die still feature some hideous lyrics but the rest of the album is pure Manowar metal with the heroic El Gringo now extended to nearly 7 minutes and the explosive Expendable both bringing a true metal noise, the pulsing Black List is perfect for slo-mo head banging and bonus track The Kingdom Of Steel has all the hallmarks of another live epic. This is what a Manowar album should sound like which begs the question why did they lead me to the depths of despair with the previous edition when they could have just released this much better version in the first place!? 7/10 (Purely for the emotional trauma first time round)

Cradle Of Filth: The Manticore And Other Horrors (Peaceville)

Dani Filth and his not so merry men return with the bands 10th album and they have shedded some of their symphonic skin that had built up on the last few records. The female vocals of Sarah Jezebel Deva are gone as are the 7 minute epics and the cinematic scope. This record seems much more concise and streamlined than previous efforts and it is better for it. The riffage is angular, heavy, melodic and even punky in some respects especially on For Your Vulgar Delectation, the drumming is relentless extreme metal blast beating and Filth's vocals range from scarred singing to guttural roars and banshee like shrieks. Opening track The Abhorrent comes after the intro The Unveiling Of O and while (like with a few of the tracks) it features some orchestration it is not overpowering and you get a sense that COF have returned to sounding like a straight up extreme metal band again with bludgeoning riffage and Filth’s schizophrenic delivery. The lyrical content is a semi-concept as it based upon monsters and horrors with lycanthropes, vampires and Lovecraftian horrors all alluded to with the latter coming in the form of Siding With The Titans. This is a full on blast of extreme metal and is all the better for its concise and more natural sound which makes it sound a far more violent and powerful record much like the COF of old as it aims straight for the throat and doesn't let go. One for old-school fans. 7/10

The Sword: Apocryphon (Razor & Tie)

This is The Sword's fourth album and first to feature new drummer Santiago 'Jimmy' Vela III after founder Trivett Wingo left on the previous tour. After the very retro and technical/progressive/conceptual Warp Riders the Texans have returned to the big, stoner metal vibe seen on their first two albums. Things kick off with the riff-fuelled The Veil Of Isis which gets the head nodding nicely, J.D Cronise's vocals are still unique and his guitar interplay with Kyle Schutt is excellent. Many of these songs are set in the mid-pace but have all the elements of genre leaders Sleep and obviously Sabbath (Hidden Masters). However it's not all back to the drawing word some of the innovation from the previous effort has remained but it has just been made to fit. As this not a 'retro' sounding record like the last one was the production is crisper and more modern and yet despite this this sounds like The Sword in their Age Of Winters phase all big riffage and lyrics straight out of Game Of Thrones, Cloak Of Feathers has more mythical beasts than you can shake a Sorcerer's staff at. Also this is the first The Sword record that doesn’t feature an instrumental. Despite how critically acclaimed Warp Riders was it is not my favourite The Sword record, that will always be their debut, this new record however with its classic sound and some newer ideas tastefully added puts it a close second behind. 8/10

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Reviews: Stone Sour, Triaxis, Doogie White

Stone Sour: House Of Gold & Bones Part 1 (Roadrunner)
                                                         
No longer Corey Taylor's 'other' band Stone Sour have become more of a going concern than the 9 (now unfortunately 8) man killing machine that made his name. If I'm honest I have always preferred Stone Sour over Slipknot as it shows what a good vocalist Taylor actually is. As you can tell this is the first part of a two album concept and it is also the first studio album to feature former Skid Row bassist Rachel Bolan rather founder member Shawn Economaki (touring bassist will be Johny Chow). This album manages to move away from the soft and slightly too melodic previous effort and ramps the metal back up to eleven. The album ranges from alternative to full on heavy metal with opening track the thrashy Gold Sovereign which moves into the pulsing Absolute Zero which opens the album in great style. What is evident from the first few songs is that James Root and Josh Rand have been given free rein on the solo's front as nearly every track features either a guitar solo or a killer instrumental break, as in A Rumour Of Skin. The band can still pull out the occasional slower song with the acoustic and orchestral The Travellers Pt. 1 before it turns into the doomy Tired which is full of the world-hating, self-depreciating lyrics that Taylor does excellently. Speaking of Taylor he is as usual on top-form but seems to have brought some of his Slipknot venom to Stone Sour especially on RU486 but this is opposition to his croon on the super-ballad lament of Taciturn which shows his subtle side when backed by a simple acoustic guitar and piano. This is a very good album that will probably only be fully appreciated when the second part is released next year however it is shaping up to be the best Stone Sour release yet. 8/10

Triaxis: Rage & Retribution (Rocksector Records)

Welsh metallers return with their second album and by Jove they've done it again as the long period of touring since the last album has made this one heavier, louder and much with a much more defined sound. The first album took a huge amount of Iron Maiden influence and this one too has some of 'Arry's Army key sounds with the galloping Black Trinity and the progressive Some Things Are Worth Dying For (which has to be the sequel to These Colours Don't Run or Coming Home). There are also some nods to other classic metal bands such as Priest (step forward Under Blood Red Skies) however the band have also brought in some Megadeth thrash on the blitzkrieg opener of Sand & Silver they have also embraced more modern metal with The Infected illustrating this perfectly. The production is great very crisp and clean and the band are all playing their hearts out, the guitars shred with some fantastic soloing also making its presence felt. The drums are big and propulsive and they work with the bass to anchor all of the tracks with supreme power and as on the first album Krissie's vocals are excellent with some awesome range which is illustrated perfectly on Asunder which is followed by the off-kilter and proggy And Shadows Creep and the instrumental showcase of XGP. This album has no filler and every track will be fantastic in the live setting but mostly it shows that Triaxis are producing some top quality British metal and this album is a testament to that. 8/10     


Doogie White: As Yet Untitled (Metal Mind)

Scottish vocalist Doogie White (La Paz, Cornerstone formally of Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen and every band ever at some point) finally releases a solo album and really there was no doubt how this was going to go down as the album is chock full of hard rock which is something White is very suited to doing as he has one of the best voices in rock. Things kick off with the Deep Purple pastiche Come Taste The Band which features the unmistakable vocals of long-term Meatloaf alumni Patti Russo, this track is drenched in organ form Tony Carey and really gets things moving. White's vocals has elements of Ian Gillan, David Coverdale, Glen Hughes, Biff Byford and Brian Johnson on Time Machine. He shows some immense vocal power on every track backed by a cast of excellent revolving door musicians, Hammerfall guitarist Pontus Norgern supplies the majority of the six stringing and also all of the production, Paul Logue of Eden's Curse handles most of the bass and the drums are shared between Patrick Johansson and Thomas Broman. Despite not having a 'stable' line up the album is consistently full of powerful hard rock the pacey Land Of The Deceiver (which is a great Saxon-like song) and the epic Dreams Lie Down And Die. The Rainbow link runs throughout with Secret Jesus being the most similar, the AC/DC homage of Catz Got Yer Tongue has all the swagger of Angus and Co, it is followed by the 80's style rocker Living On The Cheap which has some great keys from Derek Sherninian, the acoustic Sea Of Emotion shows the fragility of White's voice before the album ends with the storming Times Like These. This is one of the best hard rock albums I have heard in years big ballsy and full of great rock homages all of which handled by one of the most expansive vocalist in the business. Simply a flawless example of its genre. 10/10

Friday, 19 October 2012

Live & Dangerous: Triaxis, Primitai, Darksite, Insuna

Triaxis, Primitai, Darksite & Insuna: Bogiez Cardiff 19/10/12

Insuna

Insuna are a Cardiff based metal band that play intelligent, progressive metal with some good female vocals. They have a sound that features lots of snarling guitars, some heavy breakdowns, big solos and a powerful vocalist in the shape of AK who is an excellent singer but did seem a bit nervous. All in all a good set of songs and  not your normal female fronted fodder, they reminded me of American band Echoes of Eternity but this is a good comparison as they two blur genre lines. 7/10

Darksite

Heavy groove metal was the order of the day for Darksite, the band had a similar style to Pantera's bruising riffage Adam Redpath doing his best Dimebag throughout, and the vocals of Robert Garlick are similar to those of Panic Cell's Luke Purdie both melodic and aggressive. This was apparently one of Garlick's final gigs with Darksite before he leaves which is a shame because he is talented singer and compliments the music. The majority of the songs were heavy barrages of groove, however there was bit of rap metal thrown in for good measure, I personally thought this didn't fit but Darksite did enough to impress me here. 7/10

Primitai

These guys seem like the band I'm destined not to see as every time they have played I have always been indisposed. But tonight was the night and am I glad I did see them in such a small venue, if you want to know what they sound like then guitarist Srjan's Sad Wings Of Destiny t-shirt summed things up. Primitai have all the hallmarks of classic Priest and NWOBHM with some twin lead shredding and some shrieking vocals from frontman Guy Miller. The band have a great set of songs with The Line Of Fire and the swaggering Sin City being set highlights. They also threw in two gut busting new tracks for good measure which bodes well for their third album. The singer is a great frontman who got the unfairly sparse crowd going (mainly by being in their midst) he like all good singers must be a frustrated guitarist because his air-guitaring was top notch and all the band seemed to be having a ball on stage. A cracking band evoking the spirit of Priest with a tiny bit of Megadeth thrown in for good measure. 9/10

Triaxis

You know a band are preaching to the converted when they open with two songs from an album that has only been out a week. (Although they have been touring these songs for a while). Both Sand And Silver and Under Blood Red Skies (which caused a pit) opened the set with some high velocity riffage and powerful hooks. Next came Gates Of Damnation before some more new stuff in the shape of the thrashy Sker Point which was followed by the majestic Some Things Are Worth Dying For this track is akin to the more modern progressive Maiden and featured some Maidenesque whoa's. This was followed by the horror break with the bass heavy ...And Shadows Creep and the evil Infected both of which come from the second album. The fact that this set was drawn heavily from the new record (and why wouldn't it be) shows how talented Triaxis are as these songs sound more mature and distinctive than those on the (still excellent) debut and they are perfect in a live setting. The set came to a close with classic rabble-rouser Lies and the headbang inducing Black Trinity which brought the set to a fittingly monstrous end with the final chords of The Trooper added for good measure. The entire band seemed to be on form with shapes being thrown by bassist Owen, guitarists Glyn and CJ had the twin guitar gallop down pat and all the while they were anchored by Giles precision smashing which rattled brain cells. As usual front woman Krissie was enchanting, bewitching and very bloody loud! (the sure sign of a good singer) All of this lead to an excellent headline set for the locals with some fantastic songs and lots of head banging. What more could you ask for on a Thursday night? 9/10  
 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Reviews: Kiss, Sacred Mother Tongue, Black Wolf

Kiss: Monster (Universal)

Is there a band more divisive than Kiss equally loved and loathed around the world it is usually their flamboyant image and Gene Simmons' penchant for putting his foot in it and his obsession with merchandising, that gets them a lot of heat form their detractors. However if you ignore the politics and the shameful self-promotion; then Kiss have always produced some absolutely awesome Rock 'N' Roll. Paul Stanley (the man who has always been the musical force of the band) stated that he didn't want the under par Psycho Circus to be the final Kiss album and because of that we got 2009's Sonic Boom which brought back Kiss' musical credibility and showed they were capable of writing great songs again (Danger Us excluded). That albums success has obviously buoyed the band as Monster is even better it's louder, harder and contains all of the classic era Kiss sound (I'm talking Black Diamond rather than Crazy Crazy Nights) this might be because of Stanley's analogue production and also that songs themselves are stripped back to just four guys rocking hard as they can. There are no ballads, no disco, no AOR just straight up hard rock. As usual the majority of vocals are split between Paul and Gene with the subtle as a brick Take Me Down Below featuring both in duet. Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer both get a lead vocal (continuing a trend from Sonic Boom) Thayer's is on the shredding Outta This World (well he is the Spaceman) and Singer's is on the bluesy All For The Love Of Rock & Roll. The rest of the album is full of big ballsy rock tracks like the explosive opener Hell or HallelujahFreak which is more Alice Cooper than Alice and the Simmons showpiece Back To The Stoneage which features bass as heavy as a Brontosaurus. Who could have predicted that one of the best Hard Rock albums of 2012 would come from Kiss? 9/10  

Sacred Mother Tongue: A Light Shines (Transcend/EMI)

This is an E.P from British metal band Sacred Mother Tongue. It is a four track release record with three studio tracks and one live from China. The E.P is a prelude to their second album, tipped to be called Out Of The Darkness. It kicks off in great style with the pacey single Evolve/Become which features all of the SMT hallmarks; some fantastic guitar playing from Andy James (who is a one of the best guitar players in the world), the aggressive yet melodic vocals of Darrin South and the heavy engine room of bassist Josh Gurner and drummer Lee Newell. The groove riffage of Bleeding Out  bludgeons and then breaks into a short but searing solo before the machine gun drum intro of Seven knocks your block off and makes you want to head bang and windmill throughout with its catchy riffage. The final live track hasn't really got the best production but the band still sound powerful even if the bass and drums are barely audible. This is a nice little introduction to SMT sound and it sets the tone for the sophomore album perfectly, although as with a lot of E.P's it is a bit short at just over 17 minutes. 7/10

Black Wolf: Taking Root (Self-Released)

Bristol 5 piece Black Wolf play ballsy hard rock which features some big riffs, powerhouse drumming, soaring solos and some powerful vocals. This 4 tracker shows how good the band as they create a Zeppelin groove mixed with some of the modern sound of bands like Soundgarden and the solos of Slash. The vocals of Scott Sharp are powerful and melodic and have the Percy Plant swagger to them with the slight gruffness of Cornell. Considering this is a self-produced release the production is very good and the songs sound bright and most of all they are well written and performed. The storming Seeds is definitely the stand out track but the entire E.P is a must for fans of groove-laced, funky old school hard rock. This is a band that will go on to big things with the right backing. Check them out now before they explode into arenas. 8/10 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Live & Dangerous: The Reasoning, Touchstone & Kyshera

Adventures In The City Tour: The Reasoning and Touchstone & Kyshera, The Globe Cardiff

Two for one of modern prog rock tonight with both London based Touchstone and Wales' own The Reasoning both having headline sets. First up were Cardiff locals Kyshera;

Kyshera

A three piece alternative metal band, they really didn’t seem suited to the night as they were playing slightly progressive alt metal with some very political lyrics that made them have an air of RATM about them. Don't get me wrong they did what they did very much and seemed to have an explosive amount of energy it was just that it really wasn't my thing at all and by the time there set ended they had outstayed their welcome a bit. 5/10

Touchstone

This is where the evening actually began for me with Touchstone hitting the stage with Corridors from their latest album before rocking with Zinomorph which became Shadow and then it's sequel When Shadow's Fall as front woman Elkie told us these three tracks all stem from Keyboardist/vocalist Rob's obsession with killers and assassins (a dangerous man two know obviously!) The band played a mixed set from all three of their albums with Being Hannah, Strange Days and the folky Half Moon Meadow all given an airing. The band were all having a blast on stage with the interplay and between song banter coming to them naturally and bassist Moo seeming to be the cause of most of the mischief. Elkie has developed into a great front woman and her powerful but not operatic voice is a perfect fit for the melodic keyboards and heavy guitars and drums. The band wound up their set with the wonderfully epic Wintercoast before a change over break. With the band on top form and a set of great songs Touchstone laid down a pretty impressive baton for their tour mates. 

The Reasoning

The locals were always going to end the night and as they came to the stage to the strains of the Theme From The Great Escape before launching into Hyperdrive which morphed into Dark Angel. Unlike Touchstone, The Reasoning have a new album to promote (the excellent Adventures In Neverland) so the set relied heavily on this however this not a bad thing as it is one of the strongest albums of their career. Omega Point, No Friend Of Mine and the duo of Forrest Of Hands And Teeth/Adventures In Neverland were all cut from the new record and all went down brilliantly with the guitar playing of new boy Keith Hawkins reach Floydian proportions on Forrest Of Hands... the key to The Reasoning's sound though are the unique vocals of Rachel Cohen which weave their magic over the fantastic keyboards of Tony Turrell who is the bands ace in the pack providing slick melodic keys and some excellent co-lead and backing vocals. The band invited Touchstone's Moo onstage for as Bassist Matthew Cohen put it "A beer and a song" which brought their set to an end with the classic Aching Hunger which featured Moo's shouts and cheerleading on the chorus.
 This led to a three band pile up with Touchstone and Kyshera all taking Rachel's percussion and all three bands joining in on a group sing-along of Queen's Tie Your Mother Down on which features TT on lead vocals and ended the night with a party atmosphere (what's more fun than Queen?) overall this was a great night of prog rock with two bands currently on the top of their game in a very reasonably priced package. Three bands, two headliners, a pretty packed house and everyone having a good time what more could you ask for on a Sunday night? 8/10

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Live & Dangerous: Jettblack, Night By Night & Black Wolf

Jettblack, Night By Night & Black Wolf: Bogiez, Cardiff 13/10/12

Having won over many fans after their last performance in Cardiff supporting Fozzy, 80's metal revivalists Jettblack returned on their first headline show to a very packed Bogiez.

Black Wolf

First however were Bristolians Black Wolf who I personally have not seen before but I must say they left an impression, kicking things off with hard and heavy rock vibe the band certainly drew my attention with their big ballsy rock sound that had a solid blues vein to it. Both guitarists were rocking with foot stomping, four on the floor Young Brothers rhythm of Jason Cronin and the Slash-like guitar heroism of John Greenhill both equally impressive and rocking. The band were anchored by some big smashing drums and a rumbling bass line from Thomas Lennox-Brown and Ben Webb respectively. The big cherry on top for me though, were the vocals of Scott Sharp who had hint of Plant and Cornell to his delivery which made a few of the tracks have a very Audioslave vibe to them, this was helped by the cosmic, spiralling solos also, they also had some similarities to modern world beaters Rival Sons which stands them in good stead for the future. The band really impressed me with their hard, heavy professional performance and a setlist that just got better until its big rocking climax. Definitely a band to watch out for in the future 8/10

Night By Night

Night By Night are a band that bring the melodic sensibilities of AOR and merge them with the metallic crunch of modern metal. The band boast big three part vocal harmonies in the style of Def Leppard and play songs that are not too far away from the sound that latter period Avenged Sevenfold produce. The band were all proficient and had some good stage craft and some well written and well performed songs. However this mix of AOR and modern metal did give me the slightest hint of emo style rock and the band didn't really do it for me but they did seem to pull the crowd so what do I know, personally though they just weren't my thing. 6/10

Jettblack

As if the 80's never ended Jettblack stormed the stage all permed hair and no shirts and low slung axes. The band kicked things off with favourite Get Your Hands Dirty before moving on to Temptation from the new album, this was a running theme with a mix of old and new working great together and showing these songs are made to played live. The superbly named Less Torque, More Thrust was next and then the rampaging Slip It On. Vocals were split as usual between guitarists Will and Jon, who both have a similar style, there guitars were ferocious and the solos were face melting, this mixed with the drumming and bass meant that it was hot and heavy with the crowd loving every minute of the 80's revival. The very Y&T Sunshine slowed the set for the mega-ballad Not Even Love before things were rocked up again for the final furlong until Prison Of Love and the sing along Two Hot Girls ended the main set. With the pumped up crowd baying for more there was a brief break before they returned for the encore of Raining Rock (which actually caused a pit) and their absolutely fantastic cover of Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins which got the crowd shouting along like it was 1986 all over again. All in all Jettblack are a great live band providing some serious entertainment and some catchy melodic metal that looks back at rocks glory days and lets people get loose and enjoy themselves. It's not big or clever but it's rock and roll (and I like it) 9/10

Friday, 12 October 2012

Reviews: Sylosis, Cauldron, Soulicit

Sylosis: Monolith (Nuclear Blast)

Reading is for the most part not somewhere you would associate with metal, it is the home of indie rock due to the festival however the exception are Sylosis as they bring bone crushing, face melting modern thrash metal to the masses. Since the last record (the fantastic Edge Of The Earth) the band have streamlined their sound and it finally feels like they have found their true sonic pitch which is somewhere between the modern thrash of Machine Head and the classic sound of Metallica, the band are technical, aggressive and heavy as hell and on Monolith this has all been maxed out to it furthest end. The lead guitar of Josh Middleton is absolutely awesome with the progressive Behind The Sun providing some fantastic solos and lots of amazing lead breaks. The drumming also is phenomenal with A Dying Vine (which also has some sublime acoustic playing) and the metalcore title track providing the best examples.
 The album is bookended by two fantastic songs the first is the thrash attack of Out From Below which wouldn't have looked out of place on The Blackening or ...And Justice For All and final track is the crushingly heavy Enshrined which ends the album in brilliant style. There is just so much to like about this album, it encompasses everything that makes these British thrashers great, Middleton's voice is the best it has ever been, the songs vary from classic thrash to groove metal on All Is Not Well, add to this the Gothenburg sound of Paradox and even a bit of Toolesque darkness on What Dwells Within. This is a thoroughly modern metal album full of technical playing, great songs and crisp production; Sylosis are a British band doing this type of things as good as or even better than their American counterparts. 10/10 

Cauldron: Tomorrow's Lost (Earache)

Canadian NWOBHM revivalists Cauldron return with their third full length and it's a case of business of usual with the high pitched shrieks of Jason Decay over the propulsive rhythm of his bass and the drums of (the now departed) Chris Rites. The guitar of Ian Chains rips up especially on the galloping Nitebreaker which features some killer lead breaks. The band do seem to have brought a darker sound to this record with Summoned To Succumb having a very Mercyful Fate vibe to it offering an evil bass heavy sound.  This is in total opposition to the following song which is the thrashy Burning Fortune which melds the new harder edged sound with classic NWOBHM sound. They also have seemed to dropped some of the more tongue in cheek elements from their last two records and they have brought the darker themes to their lyrical content as well. As with their previous efforts this album has a very retro vibe to the production with the bass low and fuzzy and the guitars very distorted and scratchy. This is another good addition to their retro revivalist catalogue and shows that if something ain't broke don't fix it. 7/10

Soulicit: Parking Lot Rockstar (Thermal)

Imagine if you will Nickelback fronted by Brent Smith from Shinedown with Mark Tremonti on guitar, playing an album full of should be classic tracks that also bring in elements of Buckcherry on the shout along Hell Yeah and Kroeger and co on the title track and with a huge dollop of Hinder on Beauty Queen. From here the album takes on more of a Creed/Alter Bridge vibe especially on super ballad Complicated. The songs slow in place after this but they are still full of muscular riffage, some great soloing from Dan Weaver and the perfect voice of Darick Parson who has a melodic southern drawl that suits this modern American rock to a tee. Despite there being possibly a few too many slower tracks all of them are well written and great example of their genre with all of them having a purpose, none outstaying their welcome and all of them having massive arena-sized hooks. This will be massive in America and should be here too with any justice, with a few more rockers on the next album Soulicit will be one of the best in their genre. I recommend that anyone that has even a passing interest in any of the bands mentioned seek out this album immediately you will not be disappointed. 8/10