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Friday, 22 June 2012

Reviews: Manowar, Jettblack, Royal Thunder

Manowar: Lord Of Steel (Magic Circle Music)

The Warriors Of The World are once again united and ready to destroy false metal. The now Sylvester Stallone indorsed heavy metal legends are back with their 12th studio album. Gone is the symphonic backing from Gods Of War and back is the head destroying metal sound pioneered by band albeit with crisp modern production. Two tracks have already been released prior to the album's release, one is the rampaging El Gringo which has the galloping riffage and *shudder* a bass solo. Eric Adam's vocals are still staggeringly good with Karl Logan's guitars also on great. However there is one question I asked myself about this album right from the opening title track. The question was: "WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THE BASS SOUND!" Seriously it sounds like it's going through a crap speaker with a huge amount of fuzz; this is ok for one song but not for the whole album as it is here! This is another Manowar album full of lyrical clich├ęs and lots of heavy metal posturing as for tracks very few are worth listening to these are the title track, the aforementioned El Gringo, the actually pretty good Black List and ballad Righteous Glory. The rest of the album ranges from bad, the Sly Stallone influenced Expendable to the downright shit, the truly awfully titled Manowarriors (possessor of the worst Manowar lyrics ever) Hail, Kill And Die (which is just a list of Manowar album and song titles). So what should have been more of the same from metal's defenders is ruined in part by some awful writing but mostly by the unlistenable fuzzy disco bass. Shame. 5/10

Jettblack: Raining Rock (Spinefarm)

The British sleaze merchants released their first 80's homage in 2010 and the have now released their second album proper and they really haven't progressed that much since the advent of the first album. That's to say the album isn't good if you like macho, faintly misogynist hard rock with metal tendencies. What immediately strikes me is that the album is probably three tracks too long, Soppy ballad Black Gold, the too poppy Sunshine and the bonus track of the title track featuring Udo Dirkschneider could all be killed. As far as good songs the title track is good as is the sleazily titled Less Torque, More Thrust and the electric version of The Sweet And The Brave (which originally featured acoustically on their Slip It On E.P). These tracks prove that Jettblack are at their best when they are playing fast, hard rocking songs filled with lyrics about love and sex. However they will need to improve their song writing, break some boundaries, and make their next album more concise if they want to progress in future. 7/10 

Royal Thunder: CVI (Relapse)

Maybe it's because they are on Relapse but I knew what to expect from Royal Thunder from the outset, heavy blues riffage with added metallic doom and a heavy acid drop of psych. What I didn't predict was how good it actually was going to be. Hailing from Atlanta the band is the brain child of guitarist Josh Weaver and bassist/vocalist MLny Parsonz. Together they have created a stunning journey through dark musical madness that can be claustrophobic (on South Of Somewhere and Sleeping Witch), dripping with malice (No Good) and a mirror to the rumbling heaviness of bands like Mastodon (Whispering World). However what lifts them out of the normal Stoner rock category are the distinctly alternative smoky and scarred vocals of MLny who is equally adept to a strained shout and a dark croon see: Drown. For a full distillation of their sound check out the epic Shake And Shift which is 9 minutes plus and journeys through the band's light and shade. This is a great album for fans of dark, trippy, heavy rock with a distinct blues edge that is bolstered by the bands playing (Weaver is one hell of a guitar player) and the fine production job. 9/10

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