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Saturday, 12 July 2014

Reviews: (Hed)Pe, The Trews, Kaine

(Hed) P.E. - Evolution (Pavement Entertainment)

Ever since their debut EP Church Of Realities way back in 1995 Huntington Beach's own rock veterans (Hed) Planet Earth (or Planetary Evolution if you prefer) have been steadily pumping out their somewhat standard blend of rap, punk rock and metal with the odd peppering of funk and reggae influences occasionally thrown in for good measure. If you're a fan then you probably know what to expect from each release. But given the title of this their ninth studio long player you could be forgiven for expecting a change to their usual formula. So is that what we get here? Not exactly. While the first half of the album (especially the opening double of No Turning Back and Lost In Babylon is full of your typical (Hed) fare things take a sharp turn for the more mellow on the second half, especially from the interlude/segue track nine The Higher Crown and into the final three tracks Nowhere2Go, Let It Burn and Hold On where I guess the Evolution begins. Now, there is certainly nothing wrong with a more mellow sound and indeed the band are certainly no strangers to this (see The Meadow (Special Like You) from probably their best known album Broke) but their previous forays into this area had, for me anyway, better songs. Frankly I find those last three songs to be a big let-down and almost do the rest of the album an injustice if those are what sticks in your head after listening to the whole thing. The final track Hold On in particular sounds to me like a studio out-take for some reason. That said there is definitely some good on this album - apart from the aforementioned opening two songs the lead single One More Body is a good choice to promote the album featuring Jared's semi-ragga style vocals (not quite Benji Webbe standard but I digress!) coupled with a strong chorus and the fourth track No Tomorrow is more or less standard (Hed) formula to the point where I wouldn't be surprised if this was chosen as the second single somewhere down the line. Lyrically also Jared appears to have dropped the many references to the Truth Movement that were so prevalent on the previous two albums, which I personally feel is to the benefit of his social commentary. Overall I found this to be kind of a patchy record that starts fairly strong but for me drops off badly towards it's end. Given that the early press releases trumpeted this albums alleged heaviness (some of which is on display admittedly, albeit the overall pace of the album as a whole is far, far slower than the sometimes frantic pace of it's predecessors which for a band who identify themselves as a punk rock band feels almost like the anti-thesis of that particular ideal when compared to their previous output but I digress again) I would personally consider this album to be more of a disappointing sideways step than a true Evolution. 5/10

The Trews: S/T (Self-Released/Fan Funded)

Canadians The Trews are one of my favourite bands and quite frankly the band I am at my most hipster with. Not many people in the UK know about them and I'm fine with that. I think they are great equally rock but with big chart aims, they write songs that sit in the same league as The Foo Fighters the draw from a classic rock legacy but add a modern twist with intelligent lyricism, humour and also realism to their songs. This last part was at its most evident on their sparse, melancholic previous release Hope And Ruin which was an album full of regret but also as the title suggests hope, the band seemed to shake themselves off a little on their EP ....Thank You And I'm Sorry which waxed lyrical about The Power Of Positive Drinking and made sure the band found their smile again (one for wrestling fans there). Anyway what about their fan funded self titled fifth album? Well firstly a self titled album is usually sign of a reinvention or a rejuvenation of a band and this is true of The Trews they sound a lot like they did on their first two albums, cranking out radio rock with fire in their belly and passion in their hearts! Ride In The Wake has a cracking riff to kick things off it also has a huge sing along rock chord chorus that is made to fill stadiums. Its a great song to start the album as it sets the tone especially with John Angus MacDonald's killer lead guitar which accompanies his Colin's huge voice perfectly. Age Of Miracles is a pop song that features one of The Trews' hallmarks which is lots of acoustics and some Celtic flavour before the love lorn ballad of Permanent Love slows things down so Sean Dalton can show off his drumming acumen. Yes this is the sound of a band revitalised and as the R.E.M sounding The Sentimentalist, the country influenced style 65 Roses on which Colin MacDonald shows off his soul, the reverberated electronic pulse of What's Fair Is Fair a theme that continues on Where There's Love which has a lot of Foo Fighters to it with the electric and acoustic guitars merging and Jack Syperek's driving bass as well as The Beatles-like Living The Dream which ends with a string quartet in true Fab Four style before ending with the clarion call of Under The Sun. The Trews is the culmination of the band's career so far; the stadium-size hard rock of their early years through the more modern influences of their latter period all rolled together with their love of acoustic instrumentation, see In The Morning (the bands first ever duet, featuring singer songwriter Serena Ryder). All these musical elements are added to the intelligent and at times emotional lyricism, the melodic and excellent song writing as well as a shed load of integrity, honesty and passion to create an album that pushes itself up to the top of the bands discography. If you are curious about The Trews start with this album, then work your way through their back catalogue, I guarantee you will find something! 9/10

Kaine: The Waystone (Self Released)

The NWOBHM is possibly the biggest movement in metal music as it had the ethos of punk but with better musicianship, bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and yes even Def Leppard have gone on to bigger and better things but the movement carries on however there are few British bands flying the flag for leather trousers and white sneakers metal. Most of the bands hail from the Scandinavian countries as well as Canada but Kaine are British based noise merchants that look to bring the twin guitar attack back to our shores. As the first riff of Iron Lady kicks off it immediately transports you back to 80's and the reign of the real Iron Lady with it's dual guitars from Anthony Murch (Lead), Rage Sadler (Rhythm) who also provides the vocals pitched somewhere between Dickinson's mid range and the shouted delivery of Dave Mustaine; especially on The New Wave. They have smashing drum fills and rhythms from Chris MacKinnon and big bold bass licks (and even a bass solo!) from bass man extraordinaire Dan Mailer who comes from the 'Arry Harris school of bass playing hard, fast and like a lead player. Sadler and Murch's guitars are great rich with riffs and solos to get your fist pumping and heads banging. Kaine have been around since 2009 and The Waystone is their second album and as such it is a very professional affair with lots of great performances, very good songs; especially Solidarity which is a slow burning track with lots of light and shade, the progressive epic This Soul Exchange which takes it's cues from Metallica as well as Entropy (Unrelenting Chaos) an instrumental is always a key feature of any great album (see Powerslave/ Ride The Lightning for reference). Yes Kaine are on a crusade to bring back the sound of the NWOBHM which they do on The Waystone but they are not a one trick pony, the manage to merge thrash and traditional British metal and on the 9 tracks of this album they convince you that it's not just the Scandinavians that can do retro trad metal we Brits do a fine job of it too!! 8/10

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