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Thursday, 16 May 2013

Reviews: TesseracT, Battle Beast, Shooter Jennings

TesseracT: Altered State (Century Media)

So the British djent originators return with their second album, between the two albums TesseracT have been through two vocalists and have finally settled on Ashe O'Hara who makes his recorded debut on this release. Again the band focus on polyrhythmic, technical guitars coming from founder member Acle Kahney and James Monteith and some heavy palm muted bass from Amos Williams (who gets a bass break on Of Energy - Singularity), the drums too of Jay Postones are good too providing both the soft airy percussion on the more ethereal tracks like opener Of Matter - Proxy and second track Of Matter - Retrospect (which has a few nice little time changes in it to mix things up) as well as some big double kicked O'Hara's voice is suited to these ethereal songs as his high register delivery gives the tracks a ghostly feel. Like the debut this is a concept record with all of the tracks split into sections that relate to different states, because of this the record has a more of an esoteric feel than its predecessor starting out slowly before building, by the time Of Mind - Nocturne kicks in we are into metal territory with an upbeat djent riffage and some extremely strong vocals from O'Hara and an extended outro which is followed by the off kilter Of Mind - Exile which snakes through several time changes in its 8 minute plus run time. This second album has a more expansive soundscapes especially on the sax filled Of Reality - Calabi-Yau and goes much further than just being a djent album, with every listen you pick up another intricate guitar or bass riff, the band have managed to create a modern progressive metal masterpiece. 9/10

Battle Beast: Battle Beast (Nuclear Blast)

So Finns Battle Beast return with their second album and a new singer in the shape of the silver haired Noora who immediately shows her skills on the pulsing opener Let It Roar which wouldn't sound out of place on the last Stratovarius album. Noora is phenomenal talent her voice stretches between heavenly clean crooning and some screams that Rob Halford would have trouble hitting. On the musical front they still play the muscular traditional/power metal that would sound at home on a Sonata Arctica or an Accept album with some massive guitar riffs and solos from the two guitarists a bucketful of keyboards underpinned by some powerful bass and drums. Battle Beast have done one of the hardest things in music and made vocalist change for the better, Noora has a fantastic voice which suits the heavy metal style of the record that has made people call them a female fronted Dio. A comparison like that is apt because of tracks like Neuromancer and Out On The Streets which wouldn't sound out of place on a Dio album (the former having a Euro-pop backing that also lends them a bit of Amaranthe). Battle Beast is an extremely strong album that features some high quality heavy metal that rips and tears throughout threatening to explode out of the stereo with every track and it is topped by a phenomenally talented vocalist who can match the best metal singers out there note for note and some she walks all over! This is a trad metal experience par excellence! 9/10

Shooter Jennings: The Other Life (Black Country Rock)

So Waylon's baby boy returns with a new album from his new band The Triple Crown this is the follow up to last year’s Family Man which saw the Outlaw Countryman return to his roots but also he has merged this with the atmospheric rock styling’s of his side project Hierophant. From the spooky opening salvo of Flying Saucer Song which sounds like it has been taken off Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds, before moving into some mellotron backed train of thought vocal delivery. The second track A Hard Lesson To Learn is back to Jenning's country stomping grounds but with lashings of keys and organs from collaborator jazz pianist Erik Deutsch, he is just a part of Jennings' extremely talented backing band and shows his chops on The White Trash Song, while the rest of the band have that focussed looseness that comes only from country players. Jennings' himself covers a myriad of topics from heartbreak, to family, to religion his voice croons and roars in equal measure meaning he can move from forlorn to downright aggressive when he hits out at all the fake country stars out there on Outlaw You (Kid Rock beware!), Shooter Jennings has managed to create some fantastic songs on this album with the heart rendering sorrow of the slide-guitar and fiddle propelled title track, through the Yes styling’s of Mama, It's Just My Medicine to the blues rock of 15 Million Light Years Away (which features guest rasps in the from Black Oak Arkansas Jim Dandy). This is an album that draws from a wide palate but is rooted in the Southern roots of Shooter Jennings' heritage. 8/10

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