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Friday, 20 December 2013

Reviews: Toby Jepson, Aeon Zen, Jizzy Pearl

Toby Jepson: Raising My Own Hell (Self Released)

Veteran singer Toby Jepson is coming off something of a resurgence these last two years with a successful run in GUN as well as the amazingly well received Little Angels reformation and farewell tour and producing some of the rock albums of the year with The Answer's scorching New Horizon, Saxon's Call To Arms and Chrome Molly's latest album Gunpowder Diplomacy and also Classic Rock Award winners The Virginmarys. This E.P goes back to Jepson's roots as it is acoustic based blues with lots of Bad Company-like organ drenching tracks like Patience Of A Saint, the plaintive Shoes which has a whiff of Phil Collins about it, the celtic flavoured Four Letter Word, the jazzy Shadow Boxing and the awesome title track which sounds like a song out of Jepson's past with its huge chorus. It's on an E.P like this that you see how versatile Jepson is as a songwriter, the music is great with all the instruments playing with gusto, Jepson's production is crisp and sonorous and his voice is the same with a bluesy soulful wail. I do hope this is just a stopgap as I think a full album from Jepson in this style would be great as he has the talent to make this genre spanning acoustic rock last over 12 songs. This is great little E.P from the singer of a band who holds a special place in my heart much like compatriots Thunder. 8/10

Aeon Zen: Self Portrait (Self Released)

Aeon Zen are one of Britain's premier Progressive Rock/Metal bands and this E.P shows that they are the best imitation of themselves as it compiles 1 new song and three re-recorded tracks that originally appeared on their debut A Mind's Portrait all with abbreviated titles. So what has Richard Hinks, the mastermind of Aeon Zen, done differently on this E.P well first is the almost ethereal Psych! which goes past in just over 2 minutes and opens things up nicely, then it's Portrait (originally A Minds Portrait on the debut) in a big change this song now is a heavy djent fuelled rocker rather than the dreamy acoustic ballad that it was on the debut. This seems to be a theme for this E.P as Rain too has shifted from progressive rock of the original Blinding Rain to progressive metal with its heavy bass lines, some growled vocals and even a saxophone solo! Until finally Demise closes things strongly in its shortened (To 8+ minutes form!) Hinks has outdone himself on these re-recorded tracks it has brought Aeon Zen's original compositions into the present and shows what the band can do now. A great little album that can be downloaded from the bands website as a pay what you want price (don't worry I paid for mine). 8/10  

Jizzy Pearl: Crucified (Self released)

Love/Hate came out of the Sunset Strip at the same time as G'N'R and Skid Row and were burning brightly for the brief time in the early 90's before grunge came along. Led by the sleazy vocals of Jizzy Pearl the band had two massive albums (Blackout In The Red Room and Wasted In America) one massively stupid stunt involving the Hollywood sign and a crucifix and then faded into relative obscurity with Jizzy fronting  few bands of similar ilk most notably Ratt until the return of Stephen Pearcy. So now Jizzy has returned with a mini-album that kicks off with the punk like Hanging You Out To Dry before the more old school hard rock swagger of Sunny Day and You're Making Me Nervous. This is an album of two parts with the first three songs hard rocking tracks with Pearl full of gritty aggression and the last three are more laid back balladic affairs with the sun (and organ) drenched I Don't Want To Be Your Baby sounding like The Black Crowes mixed with Rod Stewart (Faces) the middle eastern flavour to Love Is All is a trippy spiralling song with lots of guitar solos which is followed by the country/blues of Too Late. If I'm honest I prefer the second half to the first as I think it suit Pearl's vocals more. Now whether you were a fan of Pearl's work is immaterial this is the sound of a Sunset Strip survivor all grown up. 7/10

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