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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Reviews: Evil Scarecrow, Audrey Horne, Messenger (Reviews By Paul)

Evil Scarecrow – Galactic Hunt (Deadbox Records)

The scarecrew’s third full release has been a bloody long time coming. Forged out of a massively successful pledge music campaign and capitalising the momentum deservedly achieved from their constant gigging, not to mention two fucking incredible BOA appearances, Galactic Hunt is certainly packed full of new goodies from Dr Hell and his cohorts. Opener Rise is a full on heavy metal rocker, whilst Space Dementia, all homage to Red Dwarf races along, ringmaster Monty Blitzfist’s drumming powerful and combining with the guitars of Dr Hell and Brother Pain. However, throughout the album it is the subtle synths of Princess Luxury which have been enhanced in the excellent production, adding a soothing and essential layer to many of the songs. Of course, if you've seen Evil Scarecrow live, the opening few tracks will be familiar already. Space Dementia is greeted like an old friend whilst Crabulon has been around so long it seems scandalous that it is only now committed to record. Evil Scarecrow make no bones about their parody element; their lyrics are ridiculous yet right. However the band can really play and Galactic Hunt certainly justifies their right to THAT Saturday morning slot at BOA. Flight Of The Dragons, one of 12 tracks, certainly provides a demonstration of their musical prowess, building atmospherically from an Arthurian setting into a full on heads down metal attack, harmonies in full use, before the pace slows and showcases Pain’s guitar work. In fact there is little for me to criticise on Galactic Hunt except for … and this is a minor issue, the vocal delivery. Dr Hell’s voice is really suited to the live arena and although it fits the band perfectly, on record it can become a little difficult to live with after the first few tracks. Having said that, this is a really decent release, we'll worth the wait and the pledge. The opportunity to see them convert these songs in the live arena should be taken with both claws; Hammerfest can't come quickly enough. 7/10

Audrey Horne – Pure Heavy (Napalm)

Regular readers of this illustrious blog may recall that I waxed lyrical over Audrey Horne’s 2013 release Youngblood. Indeed, if memory serves, it made my top 10 of last year [They did- Matt]. It was with delight that I discovered that Pure Heavy had been released, albeit below my radar. So what is it about Audrey Horne that makes them so damn fine? Well, a listen to Pure Heavy should answer that very easily. Excellent musicianship, beautifully crafted heavy rock songs with no hidden agenda and of course the brilliant voice of Toschie. I won't provide a history as this has been done before, save to say that in my opinion Norway has produced nothing finer. Highlights on this album? Opener Wolf In My Heart rocks comprehensively, whilst Out Of The City is pure AOR filth. The whole album just reeks of classic rock, influences of many rock giants evident including Van Halen and one of my all-time favourite bands Thin Lizzy but all what the Audrey Horne stamp. Harmonies adding to the the sing-a-long choruses (Tales From The Crypt is a prime example), hooks galore and an overall great feel. Unfortunately Audrey Horne are rarely on the UK shores although I had the massive fortune of seeing them live at Sonisphere a couple of years ago (and at the same time introduced the legendary Brett Perry to Jagermeister but that’s another story) but they are really worth catching if you get the chance. Into The Wild, possibly my favourite track on the album, demonstrates the excellent guitar work of Arve Isdal (Enslaved) and Thomas Toftenharg (Sahg) and really is the essence of the band. Powerful rhythms and swirling guitars topped off with great hooks and vocals. Pure Heavy continues the excellent work laid down in Audrey Horne and Youngblood. Another great release in a year of quite exceptional music. 9/10

Messenger – Illusory Blues (Code 7-Svart)

Messenger first appeared on my radar when I was fortunate enough to see them support Casualties of Cool at the Union Chapel in September. Even in their short set their complex delicate compositions pricked my interest and the subsequent purchase of their first long player left me with the feeling that I'd uncovered a bit of a gem. Formed in London in 2012 the core of the band consists of Khaled Lowe, Barnaby Maddick and Jamie Gomez Arellano. This album sits very comfortably in the KScope stable, alongside the likes of Anathema, The Pineapple Thief, Lunatic Soul and Blackfield.  Combining the best elements of the progressive movement with folk, rock and even Jazz, the album is delicately crafted and beautifully constructed. The Return starts with harmonies and an instrumental opening that quickly develops in an acoustic epic complete with flute action! The track slowly meanders to a dramatic and thunderous conclusion, rolling drums and chords a plenty. Piscean Tide is awash with folk, violin and acoustic guitar providing a folksy opening which progresses into another quite delightful track, mellow and relaxing with the violin enhancing the rhythm. The vocals are pristine throughout, warming melodies and soaring harmonies combining to quite stunning effect. Dear Departure captures the huge Pink Floyd influence that surges through the whole of Illusory Blues, no bad thing. Atmospheric sound effects provide another layer to the compositions. The combined vocals are of the highest quality, rich and powerful yet measured and composed. The Perpetual Glow Of A Setting Sun contains oriental influences along with the. Swirling keys and effects synonymous with bands like Hawkwind. Somniloquist sweeps you on a journey which ebbs and flows, intricate time changes and some quite heavy riffs in the middle section, contrasting perfectly with he overall calming vibe which flows through the album. String sections and keyboards are used to great effect, adding a number of complex layers to the tracks. The Eastern feel continues with final track Let The Light In, Led Zeppelin influences fusing into a fitting climax. This album requires some dedication, each listen allowing you to discover more and more of the delicious elements which are almost hidden within each song. A quite enchanting album. 9/10

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