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Sunday, 21 September 2014

World Of Metal 17: Wild Rose, Never Awake, Tides Of Sulfur

Wild Rose: Hit 'N' Run (AOR Blvd Records)

You can tell what Wild Rose sound like from their name and their record label, they are pure AOR with huge keyboard hooks, melodic guitars and strong emotional vocals. Hailing from Greece Wild Rose take you back to the time of Foreigner, Journey and Styx with the lush, saccharine keys of Dirty Haris that kick off Through The Night continue on I'll Be There which also features some great guitar playing from main man Andy Rock who along with Tiny Karpo do their best Mick Jones/Neal Schon throughout. They are being backed by the rock solid rhythm section of Phil Gun and Dimos Thomaidis on bass and drums respectively before the entire (glac√©) cherry is the Sammy Hagar-like voice of Brit David A. Saylor, his voice is at it's best on the ballads, especially the sickly Without Your Love. For many this album will be reviled due to the fact that it is pure AOR cheese, some may dismiss it as lightweight or throwaway, but this is very good album the songs are very strong and they are the epitome of the genre they represent, the songs are great with pulsing rockers that have a poppy radio friendly edge and the heart wrenching ballads that make up the record. The solo's sizzle from the fretboard, the keys evoke those memories of headbands and leg warmers and the vocals are soulful but have a gritty quality too. There will be detractors of Wild Rose's third album and opinion will be split (especially here at the Musipedia) but Hit 'N' Run is a great AOR album and I've always had a soft spot for AOR meaning that I personally like the album a lot, 8/10

Never Awake: Underground (Self Released)

Never Awake are a progressive metal band from Portland, Oregon and one wonders where the hell have these guys been! This debut is something very special, it is awesome to see a young band producing such quality this early in their career. The band cite Dream Theater as an influence and have toured with Fates Warning, both of whom influence the bands sound massively along with the likes of Shadow Gallery and Symphony X. The songs are very definitely in the metal category with thrash riffs, blast beating drums and lots of fret melting solo's. Firing the first shot is Pull The Trigger which crashes in with some modern metal riffage from Matt Galligan who is channelling John Pertucci on his technical riffage and lightning fast solos, the rhythm section of Alex MacDonald's drums and Jesse Weiss' bass is amazing especially on the title track where the bass leads the chunky riff and the drums are precise, powerful, intensely technical and I hate to say it very Portnoy-like. What separates them from their main influence is the vocals of Taylor Dye, who has more alternative modern metal voice than the higher register usually associated with this kind of music, the vocals really add a new dynamic to the already impressive music, as Dye's voice is very strong and emotive especially on Wander which slows the album down but still shows off the bands impressive musical chops, Cross The Line starts off with more of modern edge that is straight out of the Opeth play book with a rhythm section driven by galloping percussion before the middle section is a piano led orchestral piece that Opeth do so well, everything speeds up again in the final part. Habits is an acoustic led ballad that does well to break up the album with it's reflective and sombre tone. As I've said Never Awake look to the New York prog veterans as inspiration and much of Dream Theater's latter albums (Train Of Thought onward) and as the heavyweight battery of The Will To Live brings things back into the realm of loud you can really hear the similarities. However this is not to say that they are a blatant copy of Dream Theater, far from it, they add their own muscular sheen to the eight tracks on this album meaning that their debut is a master-class in progressive metal and also issues a challenge of "Beat This!" to other bands of their ilk. 9/10         

Tides Of Sulfur: Ypres (Self Released)

Tides Of Sulfur hail from my home country, their first EP Eternal Bleeding showed their hand as one of South Wales' premier noise merchants and their second named after a Belgian city that was the seen of one of the most intense battles in WWI. The band have cornered the market in noisy, brutal, bleakness and the 10 minute plus title track opens with a hail of bullets and from there the relentless mechanical battery that is all encompassing, the drums of Tom Lee are like an artillery assault, the guitar of Anthony O'Shea is down tuned and heavy as hell giving the song it's huge riff and Chris Bull is the gut churning bottom end and also his howitzer-like vocals. Next is 16 With A Bullet which is a short, sharp shock of loudness that drives straight into the bass led Trench Foot which again crushes everything in it's wake with the bands mix of sludge, doom and bit of death thrown in for good measure. Another great EP from these Welsh men of war and one that sounds it's best when played through a huge stereo, mainly due to the improved sonics on this EP. Ypres is big and foreboding and after the three tracks end you are shaken to the core. good stuff indeed! 8/10  

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