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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Reviews: Amaranthe, Allen/Lande, Virgil & The Accelerators

Amaranthe: Massive Addictive (Spinefarm)

Swedes Amarathne are now on their third album and this comes just over a year after their second, in that time front woman Elize Ryd has become the go to female voice for such acts as Kamelot and Timo Tolkki on his Avalon project. Also in the interim they have lost their harsh vocalist Andreas "Andy" Solveström who has been replaced by Henrik Englund who is also in Scarpoint. Most bands try to expand their sound on their third album, however Amaranthe are not one of those bands they have just continued the formula from their first two albums. So yet again we have another album of heavy metal mixed with pulsing electronic pop, this is at it's best on first single Drop Dead Cynical which is as saccharine as a honey covered cotton candy. The title track is heavy weight with an electronic backing but it is driven by a big guitar riff from mainman Olof Mörck, the following track Digital World also shows off the skills of new boy Englund and he is good having more of black metal delivery than his predecessor but he works excellently with both Ryd and Jake E Berg who provides the clean vocals. Digital World also has a huge drop in the middle making it prime club fodder, expect this as the next single, the adrenaline rush subsides on ballad True and Over And Done on which Berg really gives his all. Again Englund is the driving force behind Danger Zone. So Amaranthe's third album has all the sounds of their first 2 albeit with a slightly different vocal, still if you liked the first 2 albums, then you will know what to expect and will love this album, however if you didn't there is nothing here to change your mind. 7/10

Allen/Lande: The Great Divide (Frontiers)

Symphony X singer Russell Allen and Masterplan vocalist Jorn Lande have been steadily releasing albums since 2005 with one coming every couple of years, when you have two amazing singers like Allen and Lande you need supreme talent backing it, on the last three albums The Battle, The Revenge, The Showdown it was Primal Fear guitarist Magnus Karlsson doing all the writing and most of the instrumentation, on this fourth album it is man who doesn't shy away from a collaborative project; ex-Stratovarius man Timo Tolkki who provides all the guitars (electric and bass) and also handles production. As usual his musical compositions are great with sweet riffs and solos bolstered by his crystal clear production and aided by Jami Huovinen on drums. The romantic hard rock of Come & Dream With Me starts things off, Down From The Mountain is faster track that is prime power metal on which Lande and Allen do their best Rob Halford while Huovinen keeps the pace rapid. From then on it's your normal power metal fodder with symphonic backing. Still even with the talent of the vocalists this is all a bit generic and gets very similar very quickly, still if you've got the others get this one, if not I would keep your money for some of the other better releases out at the moment. 5/10

Virgil & The Accelerators: Army Of Three (Mystic Records)

Virgil McMahon formed his power trio with his brother Gabriel on drums and Jack Alexander Timmis on bass in 2009, their first Radium album was full of hard hitting blues rock with elements of funk, soul and even jazz, McMahon has been hailed as spoken about in the same breath as Clapton or Hendrix and has been decorated with numerous awards such as European guitarist of the year. So what about his second album well the Hendrix vibe is at full effect on Take Me Higher which features some playing that would be at home on Electric Ladyland, Are You ExperiencedAxis: Bold As Love with Gabriel giving his best Mitch Mitchell and Timmis providing the funk of Noel Redding or Billy Cox. McMahon's superb playing is bolstered by his sonorous voice that betrays his age and adds to the band's classic power trio vibe. Blow To The Head rocks hard with it's "Hey Hey Hey" chant along final part. The blues runs through this album, everything is anchored by it the phrasing and feel the construction of the songs but where the magic lays in this album is how far they play with the genre moving away and adding others to create some great sounding rock music. All Night Long is a perfect example of this with it's punky riff and psychedelic middle section driven by Timmis bass. Love Aggression has an almost 80's feel to it with the lush backing synths, it moves into another rocker Give It Up which has the hip shaking groove and parping mouth harp of Aerosmith or The Cult. Through The Night is another big ballad with a hell of a solo in it, the heavyweight Stand Up is driven by lots of cowbell. Virgil & The Accelerators released a hell of a debut album but they have followed up in excellent style on this second album which is more mature, more considered work on which all three of these men give supreme performances, the spirit of Cream, The Experience, Taste and even SRV looms large on this record and because of that they have created an excellent second slice of pure British rock. 9/10  

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