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Sunday, 10 February 2013

Reviews: Snakecharmer, Alpha Tiger, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats

Snakecharmer: Snakecharmer (Frontiers)

So serpent referencing name and an album cover that features an amp with the guitar lead coiled like a cobra. No guesses that Snakecharmer are linked with old leather lungs David Coverdale's primary source of revenue. Starting out as a tribute to the early more bluesy Whitesnake material, Snakecharmer have released an album of totally original blues rock material (just as the 'Snake have gone back to their roots since signing to the same label on Forevermore). However this is more than a simple bunch of also-rans trying to be Whitesnake the band is a melodic rock super-group featuring former Snakes Micky Moody who imparts the record with his signature hard rock rhythms, and also Neil Murray on bass, who keeps it all locked in tight with Thunder's Harry James who is on the skins. The other members are Adam Wake man on key's and Hammond, Wishbone Ash's Laurie Wise field completing the six-string line up and the vocals come from Heartland's Chris Ousey who comes from a long line of soulful British rock vocalists. This album is not a blatant rip off though as many of the tracks stray from the Whitesnake mold with many sounding like Bad Company (mainly due to Ousey's Paul Rodgers-like voice) To The Rescue shows this link at its best furnished with a bluesy bluster and funky, hip swinging back beat. The guitar interplay between Moody and Wisefield is cracking with Moody's more blues based approach working well with Wisefield's more melodic approach, seen on the slightly Lizzy like dual guitar attack on Accident Prone. Although the band are a melodic hard rock band in their own right drawing influences from other bands mentioned the spirit of Coverdale still looms large on this record with the gospel-style ballad of Falling Leaves (which has a great solo crescendo) the bluesy stomp of A Little Rock & Roll is vintage Lovehunter era and the rocky Turn Of The Screw which has more of later Snake sound to it. This is an extremely accomplished album from something that has evolved from a project into a fully formed band (every member contributes to the writing) and has delivered a strong set of melodic hard rock songs that are set to snake into your psyche and charm you (sorry). 9/10

Alpha Tiger: Beneath The Surface (Century Media)

How many more trad/power metal bands does Germany need? They already have Helloween, Accept, Blind Guardian...etc. However they have a new contender in the shape of Alpha Tiger. Having all the influences in place e.g. Maiden, Helloween and also Queensryche the band have amalgamated these influences into their brand of retro-styled metal. The album focusses on the current political situation, conspiracy theories and aliens (have they been talking to Muse?) which is not the general fodder for retro-metal bands but it works well. As with many albums of this genre an intro track starts proceedings before the first track kicks off with some razor sharp riffage and pounding drumming of The Alliance which immediately opens proceedings in fine style with some dual guitar riffage and the very strong vocals of Stephan Dietrich who has a definite Michael Kiske style delivery, in fact Alpha Tiger do sound a huge amount like classic Helloween which is no bad thing as they pull off the imitation very well. The pace slows slightly on the mid-pace rocker of Waiting For A Sign which sounds like Queensryche at their most balladic and sees the frontman doing his best Geoff Tate impression before the title track brings back the power metal tempo. This is an accomplished album that sounds a bit too much like Helloween to be seen as anything new but they are a good metal band for fans of the genre. 7/10

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats: Blood Lust (Rise Above)

This is a re-release of UK Psych/doomsters, Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats second album in preparation of their new album to be released in April. Blood Lust follows in the tradition of British doom by providing mind-melting psychadelia with good old fashioned Sabbath riffage, much like label mates Electric Wizard there is a fuzzed up, analogue vibe to the recordings with the production providing hiss, fizz and pops as well as some neatly vocodered wailing from Uncle Acid himself who also handles the six string chugging as well as the massive guitar solo freak outs while also dabbling with the eerie keys and lashings of mellotron. The Deadbeats are made up of bassist Kat and drummer Red who both keep things dark and doomy through the occult based tracks like Death's Door, Curse In The Trees; I'm Here To Kill You. Final track Withered Hand Of Evil and bonus track Down To The Fire show the juxtaposition of the band as it moves from the slow moving doom of the former to the acoustic fireside instrumental of the latter. This is a very good album full of retro vibed occult rock that has become huge at the hands of world beaters Ghost, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats have all the pieces in place to be as big as their Swedish compatriots and I for one can't wait to see them on the same plateau! 8/10

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