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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

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