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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 

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