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Saturday, 6 December 2014

Reviews: Will Wallner & Vivian Vain, Kaledon, Black Book Lodge

Will Wallner & Vivian Vain: The Battle For Clyst Heath (Self Released)

Will Wallner is the British born guitarist of the semi-defunct White Wizzard (It is too complicated for words) and Croatian singer Vivian Vain, their debut album was released in 2012 and now with The Battle Of Clyst Heath they have set about creating another album of hard rock that nods it's head at the more classic style of music from the late 70's and 80's. Wallner is considered a blues rock guitarist and while this album has got blues rock passages the over arching style is that of Rainbow, Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy. Things kick off with a guitar rendition of Vangelis' Blade Runner theme which has the synth backing topped with some silky guitar lines from Wallner which bursts straight into the rocking riffage of The War Of The Roses which is a historical tale ripped right out of the Thin Lizzy song book, in fact Vain's strong, unique and smoky vocals are perfect for this kind of hard rock. She croons and crows on tracks like Eye Of The Storm which does sound a lot like vintage Dio and features some great guitar work from Wallner like the super speed solo at the end. Wallner has also got some great musicians helping him out too with Dio Disciples Bjorn Englen bassist and former White Wizzard drummer Giovanni Durst contributing to most of the tracks he also has both the Appice brothers drumming on the album Tony Franklin adding bass and final track the instrumental The Loner is a tribute to Gary Moore, the bluesiest track on the album if features Moore's former bandmates Neil Murray and Don Airey on bass and keys respectively. As I said the album draws from classic hard rock with Black Moon harks back to Wallner's Wizzard days with a NWOBHM stomp, You Won't Take Me Alive is a Purple-like propulsive rocker and the title track is pure Blackmore in his Rainbow days with some truly stunning guitar playing and some cracking walking bass. Wallner and Vain have produced yet another album of quality hard rock with top class musicianship and some great songwriting. 8/10  

Kaledon: Antillius: The King Of The Light (Scarlet Records)

As the orchestras swell we are plunged straight into symphonic metal territory here, with nods to Rhapsody, Sonata Arctica and even Blind Guardian, Italians Kaledon have been playing this kind of music since 1999 and this is their 8th album, much like countrymen Rhapsody the band rely on cinematic concept albums as their stock in trade with this being the second album in their second conceptual arc based around this albums titular King Of The Light. As far as the music goes that too is very similar to Luca Trulli's mob with dual guitar assault throughout with the solos coming from Alex Mele, rhythms from Tommaso Nemesio both of whom are founders of the band along with bassist Paolo Lezziroli, fast paced drumming from Massimiliano Santori, sweeping keys and orchestrations of Paolo Campitelli and the soaring Euro vocals of Marco Palazzi. The songs are well written but there are many bands already doing this sort of thing who have a bigger profile so that may mean this album will not be recognised. This is good album for power metal fans and it does have all the hallmarks of the more symphonic/cinematic side of the genre with some good musicianship from all involved but most, even dyed in the wool, power metal fans, will find it to be another album full of swords and sorcery gimmickry that sticks rigidly in the Rhapsody mold. 5/10

Black Book Lodge: Tundra (Mighty Music)

Black Book Lodge are a four piece band based in Copenhagen, Tundra is their debut album and is very hard to classify. For the most part they seem to be stoner based heavy rock with QOTSA, Monster Magnet, Soundgarden and even The Sword. Many of these comparisons are due to the vocals of Ronny Jønsson who also plays guitar along with Jonas Budtz Møller bringing some huge heaving slabs of riffage, Ronny's voice is similar to Audrey Horne's Toschie meeting Chris Cornell in a frozen wasteland. His vocals are especially prevalent on Black Sheep/Prodigal Sons which is a hell of a song with its swaggering riff and final swirling solo that melts into the chunky rocking of Pendulum which swings (sorry) with some gang chants and some perfect guitar work. As with all stoner style rock music the rhythm section that drives the massive riffage Trygve Borelli and Lund Jakob Gundel are the powerhouse engine room making sure the songs rattle your bones allowing Ronny and Jonas to rock like bastards on an album that has a definitive old school flavour sounding as if it was made to be on vinyl, the production and otherworldly songwriting creates soundscapes that many bands would kill for, see Thalassa as an example of this as the song still has the bulldozer guitars but also lots of dynamics that mean it doesn't sound same and also lets the screamed intro of The Call smash you in the face with it's fuzzed up distortion assault, which continues through the trippy Cripplegate as this fades out in a wall of feedback, things get all Planet Caravan on the title track which is an acoustic, percussion based track with a laid back sparse feel much like it's geographical namesake, with the break over we go back into electric territory as once again the fuzz is in charge with the finale of Empire which wouldn't seem out of place on a Josh Homme record and starts with some atmospheric guitar playing in the verses before the rock kicks in in the 'choruses'. These four Danes have created a storming debut filled with big juicy riffs, but they also have enough melody to make every song make it's own mark, all of this together leads to a great listening experience of an album that has snuck in at the end of the year and blown my face clean off . 10/10 

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