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Thursday, 28 February 2013

Reviews: Heaven's Basement, The Union, Free Fall

Heaven's Basement: Filthy Empire (RedBull Records)

The band formally known as Hurricane party and Roadstar, Heaven's Basement have been plying their trade since 2008 with original Roadstar members Ritchie Hevanz on vocals and Sid Glover on guitar. Hevanz stuck around for one EP and then left the band and was replaced by current vocalist Aaron Buchanan. This is the band’s debut album (Second EP Unbreakable was released in 2011) and it is myriad of influences all of which come together to form a hard rocking, hook filled, hard hitting album full of attitude. The lead influences are Guns N Roses, Buckcherry and even some Thunder mixed with punk snottiness and some crunchy modern metal riffage, see I Am Electric. Lead single Fire, Fire is dripping with foul language and brings to mind the short lived Stone Gods, Glover's guitars are awesome with some very Slash-like solos and riffs which work well with the chunky rhythms of Rob Ellershaw and Chris Rivers. Buchanan's voice is great equally melodic and raw with the band providing some big chanting backing vocals, and also Glover giving a dual lead vocal on Nothing Left To Loose. This is an album full of big arena anthems much like the freight train riffage of album ender Executioner's Day with the bluesy Thunder style of Lights Out In London and Jump Back. The band can also do stripped back which they do excellently on the acoustic, piano leaden The Price That We Pay which is a beautiful break in the all-out rocking. It's these big crowd pleasing tracks that will see Heaven's Basement on the same upward career trajectory as Brit boys done good The Treatment. It looks like that my opinion of them at Hammerfest was wrong, Heaven's Basement might just be one of the new breed of great British rock bands. 8/10

The Union: The World Is Yours (Payola Records)

The Union's third album is one that balances light and shade, by having big, ballsy rockers and some more reserved bluesy acoustic songs. The album is bookended by the instrumental Sawtooth Mountain Rise Pt.1 & 2 the first proper track is the big blues rock swagger of You're My Jesus which merges into the jangly, pop sound of Tonight I'm Alive and then the slow burning acoustic, country of Fading Out Of Love which is the first real showcase for Pete Shoulder's fantastically soulful voice. This tends to be the theme of the album with the big rock tracks, most of which have a real Zep sound to them with Luke Morley providing some very Jimmy Page style guitar passages with Shoulder providing guitar as well as some huge Hammond Organ on the slower bluesier tracks. This album could be seen as The Union having a go at recreating Physical Graffiti with lots of acoustic blues, full of with gospel and swampy country influences (see Marie Celeste) mingling with some very heavy rock tracks in the Kashmir-like title track and the almost glam stomp of Perfect Crime. This is The Union finding their own voice by merging the laid back acoustics of Shoulder's former project Winterville with the heavy rocking of Morley's on-again-off-again band Thunder. This is a great album and one that shows The Union are both men's major concern rather than just a side-project, this am album that can only be fully realised after numerous listens. 8/10

Free Fall: Power & Volume (Nuclear Blast)

Sweden is a strange country musically, the bands do tend to either be from the Gothenburg scene of melodic death metal or they tend to be from the riffed up retro scene. Free Fall are from this school of retro rock. Formed by former The Soundtrack Of Our Lives guitarist Mattias Barjed Free Fall are a four-piece garage style face punching rock band full of dirty riffs and an aggressive swagger brought by too much booze and too many women. Things kick off with pulsating drumming and angular riffage of the title track which sounds like early Zeppelin mixed with the Stooges attitude. The whole album in fact draws you to the bands obvious influences with Free Fall having that classic The Who sound (complete with some Ox style fleet fingered bass playing from Jan Martens, who has a real gift for the four strings). The band really have gripped on to the late-60's early 70's style of hard rock with Barjed bringing the clean melodic guitar stabs, on top of some powerhouse time-keeping from drummer Ludwig Dahlberg as well as the fractured, rough as hell vocals from singer Kim Frannson who is a ringer for Bon Scott as well as Cormac Neeson from Irish-Zeppelin The Answer. With a sound that brings to mind AC/DC on World Domination, early Zep and as well as spilling into psychadelia of Attila and Free Fall are ready to compete with Graveyard, The Answer and the other retro styled riffers already plying their trade. Free Fall however are set on a very strong path because of the animalistic, rough and ready strength of their song writing, this is a very exciting and very, very good record. 9/10


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