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Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Reviews: Wolfmother, Gus G, The Oath

Wolfmother: New Crown (Self Released)

Andrew Stockdale put Wolfmother on hiatus to release his (admittedly very Wolfmother sounding) solo album. Now he returns with a new drummer and bassist/keyboardist which is if you remember the original line-up the band went forward with. Now can they conjure up the magic of their world beating debut? The short answer is no there are a few flashes of greatness that hark back too their self titled album. How Many Times, Heavy Weight, Radio and the title track are full of the riff fuelled rock that made Wolfmother popular in the first place. However seeing as Wolfmother were put on hiatus and guitarist/vocalist Andrew Stockdale indulged himself with a solo album, which had a mix of styles a few if which make their way on to this new 'mother record. I Ain't Got No is a pure Rolling Stones pastiche, wholeheartedly ripping off one of their biggest hits (no prizes for guessing which one), whereas Feelings is a four chord punk rocker that Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy would be proud of. This is a return of the Stockdale's baby and shows where he has his best ideas, on the back of a solid solo effort this is Stockdale back to doing his day job. 7/10

Gus G: I Am The Fire (Century Media)

Right lets get this out of the way first of all, Gus G's debut solo album does not sound like Firewind or indeed Ozzy so those looking for that will be disappointed. What the Greek virtuoso's debut does do is cover a spectrum of rock music with an A-list line up of guests. The main recurring member, other than Gus and drummer Jeff Friedl, is Mats Leven (the man who should be the singer of Firewind) whose strong smoky voice is perfect for the opening salvo of rockers My Will Be Done and Blame It On Me, so far so good, big, fat, melodic riffs good songwriting and some seriously fret melting solos, then things get a bit weird as the title track is an American alternative radio rock song straight out of the Hinder/Papa Roach playbook and features the vocals of Devour The Day's Blake Allison, so yes the song is good but it is a very rapid change of direction that leads to another two songs that are similar in style to I Am The Fire both having that alternative rock feeling with Long Way Down featuring the great voice of Alexia Rodriguez and is similar to Halestorm in feeling and the big, radio ballad Just Can't Let Go which is right out of the Kroeger playbook. Both of these tracks are bookended with instrumental tracks one is Vengeance (not the Yngwie one) and the other is Terrified, both of the tracks sound a lot like Racer X/Paul Gilbert instrumentals with melody and also virtuosic tendencies, bolstering the Gilbert comparisons is the appearance of Billy Sheenan on Terrified. The final part of the album features more walks through the rock genre with an AOR ballad featuring Evergrey's Tom S. Englund (Dreamkeeper), the Journey-like Summer Days which features Jeff Scott Soto (thus the link to Journey) and the last guest is a pleasant surprise in the shape of Steel Panther's Michael Starr playing it straight for once on the Bon Jovi meets Metallica Redemption. So this is an eclectic album that touches on so many different styles but they are all held together by Gus G's excellent guitar heroics, a great album that will have a wide appeal and will surely make Gus very, VERY famous across the pond (which one suspects is the entire point). 8/10

The Oath: The Oath (Rise Above Records)

When I first saw the press pic for The Oath I immediately thought the metal community are going to have a field day with this, an occult doom metal band fronted by two devastatingly attractive, leather catsuit clad, almost identical blondes, one the Swedish guitarist Linnea Olsson and the other German singer Johanna Sadonis. The two women recruited a bassist and a drummer (two bearded dudes, a Parisian and the drummer from Angel Witch) and set about constructing some dark, stripped down, occult doom is going songs about Satan, death and misery. So with the image set it was up to the music to prove that the band were more than style over substance and it does so excellently, imagine if you will a band that is part Danzig (naturally), part Sabbath (obviously) and part the Runaways especially on punkier tracks like Night Child and All Must Die. Olsson's guitar is very good with the right amount of stripped back, garage, heavy riffage and jangly, angular folk on Leaving Together. Sadonis' vocals are soulful, sonorous and powerful giving a gutsy performance on every track, especially the haunting Silver And Dust. This is a great album full of some strong traditional doom rock that will be for fans of Blood Ceremony, The Devils Blood as well as Cathedral, Sabbath and the old guard. As the album ends on the haunting, progressive Psalm 7 you feel like you've been taken on a journey by the two sorceresses that formed this band, a glimpse into their dark world. 8/10

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