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Thursday, 20 June 2013

Reviews: Jorn, Voodoo Six, Sound Of Contact

Jorn: Traveller (Frontier Records)

So the big Nordic Duke returns with a new collection of original tracks. Once again this is heavy rock delivered at full volume with Jorn's voice still at fine fettle he adds the right amount of bombast to proceedings with his croon soaring over the hard rock base in places, he has an element of the great Ronnie James to him see the excellent The Man Who Was King which is about the aforementioned Legend but also some David Coverdale to him as well especially on Make Your Engine Scream, Jorn has been a great vocalist for his entire career and shows no intention of stopping now. The band too do a fine job with both guitarists Jimmy Iversen and particularly lead guitarist Trond Holter both supply the pounding riffs see the title track or the Lizzy-like Widow Maker and Holter pulls off some searing solos, and the rhythm of Bernt Jansen's Bass and Willy Bendiksen's drums provide the hard as granite groove, long time collaborator Tommy Hansen who provides some sturdy keys and production. This is a strong album full of some well delivered hard rock that delivers where it needs too, however it can all get a bit samey in the second half still another good addition to The Duke's discography. 7/10

Voodoo Six: Songs To Invade Countries To (Spinefarm)

Right three albums into their career and this album title says something about how far the band have come. Ok as Bassist Tony Newton is friends with Maiden's Steve Harris the band were always going to have some high profile support sets, which could be why they sound as strong as they do but it seems that they set on becoming headliners in their own right. After the loss of their original singer and their triumphant rebirth with new and current frontman Luke Purdie the band have come back with possibly their best album yet. From the opening bass run and bouncy riff of Falling Knives it immediately shows that the band are targeting the arenas, the riff dirty and heavy and the chorus hook is huge with its "Keep catching 'em" refrain, this track as well as the snotty punk vibe of Sharp Sand and the funk-fuelled Stop were all featured on their previous stopgap EP so many will already know that the quality of these songs is very high so it's up to the rest of the album to keep up the quality and it does so with gusto,  All That Glitters is a heavy riffer again showing the talents of axe-wielders Chris Jones and Matt Pearce and it's typical of Voodoo Six's heavy rock sound bridging the gap between bluesy hard rock (Brick Wall) and metal (Higher Ground). Lead Me On is a fantastic song that kicks off with an uplifting, orchestral backed intro, turning into bass driven verse before the euphoric chorus brings to mind those arenas and then evolves into a massive solo and closing chorus, one for the live set definitely. Purdie has a tremendous voice equally rusted and soulful like he comes from the American West, and in a few places very similar to Chris Cornell but with some added British grit. Newton's bass playing is superb lots of flair and not your regular four on the floor rhythm, this also means drummer Joe Lazarus can also stretch a bit. Production wise it's big and ballsy giving every instrument what it needs, the guitars rock, the bass rumbles, drums smash and the vocals are the whiskey soaked cherry. This a true call-to-arms for fans of powerful British heavy rock, an album full of songs that will lead Voodoo Six to a few dictatorships around the world! 9/10

Sound Of Contact: Dimensionaut (InsideOut)

Question: name a prog rock band with a drummer who also sings? I'm assuming you all said Genesis right? Well Sound Of Contact have elements of Genesis (an early incarnation recorded a version of Keep it Dark), Marillion, Spock's Beard, Porcupine Tree and blend them into one adding space rock and some pop as well. Well the two main members of the band are David Kerzner on keys and soundscapes, a man a who has worked with Steve Hackett and Steve Wilson as well as producing for others and the other is drummer/vocalist Simon Collins (yes son of Phil) who is the brainchild of this conceptual work. Yes conceptual where would prog be without it? Well this story revolves around a man who travels through time, space and dimensions the he is the Dimensionaut of the title and this is a story revolving around him. Things start with the acoustic PT-like Sound Of Contact before seguing into Cosmic Distance Ladder which is a driving instrumental that shows off the bands obvious chops, the synths are layered beautifully and his solo spots are excellent in their delivery, the guitars of Kelly Nordstrom shred and weave intricately through the piece, the bass of Matt Dorsey pulses and drives everything along and Collins has the power and precision of his father providing some great fills. Pale Blue Dot gives his first vocal performance and shows that he has a tremendous one, equally melodic in the higher register and can also provide some grit when needed. I Am The Dimensionaut is a huge ballad that has many elements of Simon's fathers solo career, albeit with a meatier soundscape behind it. This a band that encompasses many bands styles, with Not Coming Down sounding like PT or Pink Floyd at their most reflective. The production of Kerzner and Collins is excellent with everything shining brightly, the slight dub elements on Beyond Illumination show this mix of styles well too and features the voice of the Wishing Tree's Hannah Stobart, the album ends with the amazing 19 minute Mobius Slip which brings this album to a fittingly euphoric conclusion. Yes ok there are lots of nods to Simon's father (and also Marillion) and lyrically it is a bit wishy-washy but all in all this is an excellent album that features some great songs crafted to make an intensely musical concept album it is performed by some highly professional musicians and it shows that Collins does indeed have (an Invisible) touch! (Sorry) 7/10 

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