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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

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