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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Reviews: Voodoo Circle, Serenity, Kvelertak

Voodoo Circle: More Than One Way Home (AFM Records)

Alex Beyrodt, David Readman and Matt Sinner return with their third album of classic hard rock. Since the previous record nearly their entire Rainbow sound and Blackmore style playing of Beyrodt has been stripped away to make way for a more bluesy based rocking in the style of Messer Coverdale and friends. This is not to say that they have lost any of their power, in fact they have gained a lot of bar room grittiness with some crunching guitars and soaring solos from Beyrodt who also plays the strings in Sinner's other bands Primal Fear and also Sinner. Speaking of Sinner he provides a driving bass beat which anchors the smashing drums all of which is topped by the huge Hammond organs and keys of Jimmy Kresic and the awesome vocals of Brit David Readman who is a dead ringer for Coverdale in the vocal department with his strong bluesy bellow, the songs all have a hard rock swagger with opener Graveyard City bringing to mind prime 1987 era 'Snake, the epic Heart Of Babylon having a very Still Of The Night vibe to it, however with Ghost In Your Heart is led by very Perfect Strangers style organ riff and ends with some Zeppelin orchestration. The band also has some 'Snake-like ballads with the acoustic Alissa and Cry For Love which features a searing solo. This is another great hard rocking album from Voodoo Circle who have been one of the most consistent new bands to come on to the scene in a while, three albums in and their song writing is still top notch with every member showing how skilled they are and how well they gel as a group. Let's hope that they can find time to tour between Sinner and Beyrodt's other jobs. 9/10

Serenity: War Of Ages (Napalm)

I have always been a fan of Austrian's Serenity and their progressive/power metal style that has much in common with Finns Sonata Arctica and American's Kamelot. However I've always thought Georg Neuhauser has a great voice and is more than capable of carrying the band by himself, however the band have always had female guest vocalists on their albums much like Kamelot have, but when I saw that this album featured Clementine Delauney (who was with them on their tour as a guest member) as a second vocalist, I was not shocked but a little surprised that they thought they needed to have dual vocal, when Kamelot still use either backing tapes or the occasional guest vocal from Simone Simmons (who is technically a band member!) All of my worries were dispelled when I played the record however as the band haven’t turned into Lacuna Coil style dual vocal band. The heavy riffing and powerful blast beat drumming is still in place and Georg still is the lead vocalist however Clementine provides extra vocals on the choruses and is purely there to bolster and counterpoint the dramatic power of Georg's voice and the orchestral backed, choir filled and music of the band. Clemetine shines when she is given the room too especially on the beautiful ballad For Freedom's Sake which is a duet with Neuhauser as well as her other lead vocals on tracks like Age Of Glory. She has a fantastic voice which not too overpowering but classical enough to match Neuhauser’s admirably. This is another excellent album from the Austrians with some killer guitars; double kick drumming, lots of complex orchestration and arrangements. They even have a great cover of Queen's beautiful Love Of My Life on the limited version. Serenity have added another string to their bow with a second vocalist and have pulled out yet another seriously good album for genre fans. 8/10

Kvelertak: Meir (Roadrunner Records)

Kvelertak (whose name is Norwegian for stranglehold) have always been something of an anomaly in the metal world as they fuse screaming hardcore/BM vocals with some punked up rock and roll riffage. This means that the band themselves always go for the throat with a very aggressive delivery see Bruane Benn which has a super speedy riff but some big classic rock style soloing. For a band that perform in Norwegian they have some huge hooks and some meaty riffage, which lends them a very good sound that is similar to Americans Valient Thorr mixed with some AC/DC (especially on Undertro). The songs are all a bit similar full of blazing riffage and the barked vocals of Erland Hjelvik but with a band like Kvelertak the similarities of the tracks doesn't matter this is a band that are purely exist so people can have a good time. The triple guitar sound is excellent with all three creating a deafening wall of noise as well as providing some country style acoustics on tracks like Spring Fra Livet and Evig Vandrar. This is an album of noisy rock and roll with a punk attitude and some cracking tunes thrown in, Kvelertak have the sound of a band made for the live circuit and if they are anywhere near as good live as they are on record they are worth seeing (shame I was working last time they came D'oh!) 8/10

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