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Friday, 15 August 2014

Reviews: Alestorm, Upon A Burning Body, The Blues Pills

Alestorm: Sunset On The Golden Age (Napalm)

Garrrr!!! Ahoy mateys!! Yes get your eye patches out and get the rum flowing people the fun loving Pirate Metal merchants from Scotland are back with their fourth album of alcohol fuelled, metal shanties. Main man Chris Bowes has had a break after the last album forming the mighty (and totally bonkers) Gloryhammer, with this creative release from sea faring silliness, it means that the band can now plunder more Pirate themed material meaning that their fourth album has a hull full of metal madness, with the usual songs about wenches, mead and of course rum! Throw in the occasional squid fight and I'm sure you are aware of what Sunset On The Golden Age is going to sound like. As the first chord or Walk The Plank kicks in the keys swell and the band kicks into quite a heavy riff to start the album, the song is unsurprisingly about walking the plank but what strikes me is that the song has a real thrash feel and an explosive solo from Dani Evans that comes from out of nowhere. The second thing I noticed was how multi layered the keys are this could be because the band now have two(!) keyboardists, Bowes himself and Elliot 'Windrider' Vernon both of who add massive texture to the sound, more than just the normal accordion sounds. Drink is a folky track that still has a heavyweight riff and a huge gang chorus and the folk continues on the acoustic opening of Magnetic North which is a sea shanty with metallic backing. The rhythm section needs a mention too with Gareth Murdock and Peter Alcorn doing a great job anchoring the songs in the briny deep. Yes this is a another good album but one that has much more mature structure musically even if the lyrics are still juvenile (although this is part of the point).The album has some more fleshed out sounds to it as well from the surf rock of Surf Squid Warfare to the cover of Hangover originally by Taio Cruz and Flo Rida and weirdly it works as a pirate metal anthem. The also album features two longer tracks with the 7 minute plus 1741 (The Battle of Cartagena) starting off with an 8-bit opening before the mini epic sets sail with its story of Pirates versus the British Navy! The second epic is the closing title track which at 11 minutes is hell of a song about the golden age of piracy (1680-1720). So all in all this is another great pirate metal album to drink and plunder too, but it doesn't stop there the special edition features an acoustic greatest hits set called Rumplundered and this too more than just a novelty. So hoist the mizzenmasts, fly the Jolly Roger high, pour yourself a pint of rum and get the pirate party started!! 9/10 (I apologise if I got carried away with the puns!)

Upon A Burning Body: The World Is My Enemy Now (Sumerian Records)

"I'm Not Sorry For The Way That I Am!" screams Danny Leal on Red Razor Wrists the first track on the Texans third album. You want to believe him as Upon A Burning Body have gained a lot of attention for their antics away from music, the most recent of which was the staged disappearance of the frontman which ended in disaster and a annoyed a lot of people the band's fans included. What they should do is let the music do the talking and with the mix of electronics and heavy groove metal with death vocals. The band are lumped into the deathcore genre and you can hear some Suicide Silence as well as some Whitechapel in their groove based beat down filled heavy metal, the djent palm muted riffs are there with Ruben Alvarez and Sal Dominguez providing a maelstrom of riffs on every track coupled with Ramon "Lord Cocos" Villareal's furious blast beating behind the kit and Leal's growled vocals. The songs are good and the music is big and heavy like most modern metal/core music few solo's but lots of huge breakdowns to get the pits moving and the heads banging. As much as this album will probably appeal to metal fans under the age of 20 to me the band sound a lot like Slipknot with the electronics, breakdowns and lightning fast riffage and percussion there doesn't seem to be much in the way of progression or free thought, every song on here could have come off Iowa. This coupled with their blatant attention whoring puts me off the band however based on the music alone they have a released an album that does everything they have ever done but nothing more, it is a solid effort from a band that make it easy for people to dislike them. 6/10

The Blues Pills: The Blues Pills (Nuclear Blast)

Their 2013 Devil Man EP blasted the Swedish retro styled rockers The Blues Pills into the public consciousness. It was a four track EP that showed The Blues Pills psychedelic blues rock to the world the band were likened to Big Brother & The Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane as well as more modern fair like Saint Jude. Their debut album only features two songs from the previous EP, that song is the evil sounding Devil Man and the swampy sounds of The River (now titled River). This means that we get 8 new tracks of retro flavoured Blues rock. The bands sound has fleshed out a bit on the LP as they have incorporated the bass driven blues rocking of Rival Sons, especially on the opening thrust of High Class Woman which could have come straight off Head Down. Second track Ain't No Change could be a Vintage Trouble number while Jupiter has an echo-filled, psychedelic middle section. The album is filled with retro rock riffs that come straight out of the Age of Aquarius with the pulsating percussion of Cory Berry and thumping hum of bassist Zach Anderson (the two Americans of the group) driving the songs especially on Black Smoke which features a huge guitar freak out by French guitarist Dorian Sorriaux at the end of the track on which he does his best Hendrix impression. The band is completed by Swedish singer Elin Larsson who has a majestic voice part Joplin, part Franklin able to sing smoky soul songs like Astralplane and No Hope Left In Me but also the big rockers like the aforementioned Devil Man and the proggy reworking of Chubby Checker's Gypsy. The record ends with the dynamic Little Sun which has a sprawling delivery and climaxes the albums excellently. This is a strong record for a band that are part of the ever burgeoning retro fuelled rock revival, The Blues Pills have delivered a great debut album that is bolstered by Don Ahlsterberg's analogue production. If you like your rock flavoured with blues and lashings of 60's psychedelia then The Blues Pills is the album for you!! 8/10

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