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Sunday, 2 November 2014

Reviews: Sixx A.M, Crobot, While Heaven Wept,

Sixx A.M: Modern Vintage (Eleven Seven Music)

The kings of the gutter LA scene Motley Crue will soon be hanging up their spurs and shelving their hairspray for good within the next year, a good job then that band leader, bassist, serial corpse and reformed hell-raiser Nikki Sixx has this project to fall back on. Sixx A.M have been Sixx's side project since 2007, their first two albums were based upon Sixx's Heroin Diaries memoir and his second autobiography This Is Gonna Hurt respectively. So Modern Vintage is the first album not to part of another project so I was wondering how well it would hold up. Well the answer is very well indeed, the project retains the same members as the previous releases with Guns N Roses axe slinger DJ Ashba on lead guitars and producer/singer/multi instrumentalist James Michael (producer for Halestorm, Meat Loaf and Motley Crue) providing the vocals, additional guitars, keys, drum programming and of course his Midas touch production. So into Modern Vintage and the title is one of the best ways of describing the album with elements of 70's glam rock and 80's sleaze mixed with modern alt-radio rock Stars is a guitar packed opener that screams of the post 2000 era but it sharply followed by football stomp of Gotta Get It Right which sound like classic Queen all backing choirs, thumping percussion and preening bravado. Ashba's guitars are excellent, he echoes the guitar heroes of old playing with a relaxed experience, Sixx is a great bass player providing the backbone to most of the songs while clearly channelling his influences, finally there is very little I can say about James Michael's vocals other than wow! There is a great mix of styles on this album with the acoustic southern influenced Get Ya Some, the chest beating Let's Go, the almost disco funk of Miracle, the New Orleans carnival feel of Before It's Over and a fantastic reworking of The Cars Drive which gets an electronic overhaul with some massive drum loops and synth fuzz. This is yet another top drawer album from Nikki and his new Crue, let's hope that we see a lot more of these guys after Motley Crue finally call it a day, with GNR's relative inactivity it is really only Michael that could stop that but I'm sure they can work it out. 8/10  

Crobot: Something Supernatural (Wind-Up Records)

Pottsville, Pennsylvania may not immediately spring to mind when you think of rock and roll but this city of 14,000 people is also the home of Crobot, the heavily bearded, eight legged riff machine. The band play music that they describe as "Dirty. Groove. Rock" and they are pretty spot on they have a really soulful mix of blues based rock with a real heavy groove. In fact if you are a fan of Clutch then Crobot will be right up your street as they have a similar style of riff based rock fuelled by smokes and brews, as well as Clutch there are nods to Scorpion Child, Wolfmother, The Sword and even Soundgarden. Crobot's songs are all drawn from fantasy and the occult meaning this band will appeal to the dope smoking, beer drinking, comic reading members of the fanbase. With titles like Skull Of Geronimo, Chupacabra and even simple Wizards the band stick rigidly to the fantasy imagery. As the album kicks off with excellently titled Legend Of The Spacebourne Killer we are thrown straight into a world of blazing leads from Chris Bishop he takes you to space and back with his six string wizardry, the groove comes from the bass and drums of Jake and Paul Figueroa who are the voodoo groove of a bottom end. The percussive Nowhere To Hide follows before the honking mouth harp led The Necromancer takes you into blues territory and shows off the keen vocals of Brandon Yeagley who sounds like a merger of Chris Cornell and Myles Kennedy with a soulful croon that can explode into a sky scraping holler at any moment. Crobot do what they do, but they have crafted an album of songs perfect for the live arena, somewhere that Crobot apparently are truly electrifying. Pick up a six pack, roll some doobys and crank it up Crobot welcome you into their world! 9/10  

While Heaven Wept: Suspended At Aphelion (Nuclear Blast)

While Heaven Wept have been around for a since 1989 but I will admit I've never heard of them, but on doing some research I found they have are a progressive metal band with a taste of the epic about them, now any band that has two guitarists and two keyboardists (sometimes three) is a bonus in my book. So pressed play and the classical intro Introspectus came to life with it's plaintive cello and classical guitar playing, the band are known for their emotive and personal lyrics dealing with struggle and problems so the sadness etched into this intro is the norm for the band, as the scene was set the drums clattered and the guitars kicked in with gusto, the band is the brain child of Tom Phillips and he leads the guitar charge with some technical and melodic playing ably aided by Scott Loose and the pulsing synths of Jason Lingle and Scott's sister Michelle Loose-Schrotz, while the drums are handled by her husband Trevor and the bass comes from Jim Hunter and the deep sonorous vocals of Rain Irving ties everything together. The first two proper tracks are huge in scope but the length of them is immaterial as the time flies by as you are taken of a journey with some seriously epic music, middle track is Heartburst which is a slow classical guitar piece that explodes into a searing guitar solo in the final section, from here on out the songs get better and much wider in scope with the 5th and 6th tracks amalgamating at least three different songs to create a some lush arrangements that deal in light and shade, the guitars soaring with some seriously fantastic solos see Reminisce Of A Stranger/Lifelines and rhythms that are bolstered by the the amazing keys that work together to create quite an overpowering musical adventure. Some may love this some may hate it but give it time and it will reveal itself as a great progressive album. 7/10

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