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Friday, 3 August 2012

Testament, Admrial Sir Cloudsley Shovell, Icarus Witch

Testament: The Dark Roots Of Earth (Nuclear Blast)

Upon returning in 2008 with the fantastic Formation Of Damnation Testament have come back with their second album since their reformation. Dark Roots Of Earth continues in the fine form set on their last album and it also blows that one out of the water. The band seem on fine form with Chuck Billy's snarling vocals drawing you in with his fantastic aggressive style and the twin guitars of Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson peeling off riff after riff and separating them with face-melting solos. The rhythm section cannot be ignored as the unmistakeable blast beat of Gene Hoglan brings the speed. Kicking off with the very modern sounding Rise Up (which has elements of Machine Head to it) the thrash metal riffage kicks off proceedings in fine style before Native Blood continues in the same modern vein. There is a rest bite with the brooding doom-riffage of the title track which has hints of mid-era Metallica to it. The pace quickens again with the very classic sounding True American Hate. The album features two seven minute plus epics in Cold Embrace and Throne Of Thorns which is an absolute killer of a track (and is extended by nearly another minute as a bonus track). Ah yes the bonus tracks a mixed bag of Iron Maiden, The Scorpions and Queen all of which performed with the technical proficiency and passion. That really is the two words that sum up this album overall it is helped by the stunning production of Andy Sneap. Testaments are continuing with their stunning form on this album. It makes you wonder why it's not the 'Big Five'. 10/10

Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell: Don't Hear It...Fear It! (Rise Above)

Named after an 18th century Admiral that shipwrecked off the coast of the Isle Of Scilly (see you get some history here folks). This Hastings three piece are a decidedly retro affair bringing to mind the sludgy, riffage of proto-metal behemoths Budgie, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly and of course Sabbath (mainly on Red Admiral, Black Sunrise). The drums of Bill Darlington are bone rattling; the bass of Louis Wiggett is like lead and pipe. The guitar of Johnny Redfern is frenetic, choppy and fuzzed up and his vocals have a Dave Wyndorf style to them. The album has the classic 1973 feel to it in the blues rockers and the production has all the pops and fizz of early 70's records. On Scratchin’ And Sniffin’ the sleazy slide guitar is provided by The Groundhogs Tony McPhee in a figurative baton passing. This is and album made to be played LOUD and it's liable to blow your speakers. Sit down, tune in, turn up this is very good. 9/10

Icarus Witch: Rise (Cleopatra Records)

This is Icarus Witch's fourth album and their first after a band overhaul with a guitarist and original singer (and Kiske clone) gone this album has a much more updated sound. New vocalist Christopher Shaner has a much more melodic but slightly lower range than his predecessor which means that the band are no longer in danger of being Maiden copyists, the classic harmonised guitars and galloping bass of Maiden and Priest are still there but added to this are some keys which gives songs like Coming Of The Storm a Rainbow-like feel. The have also taken a more modern route with the song writing with some tracks sounding like Trivium and other modern metal bands (Break The Cycle) which sets them apart from the other NWOTHM bands they have been lumped in with. This is a very good album and one for fans of any of the bands mentioned, could be the first step on a road to stardom as the band have definitely found their sound. 7/10

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