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Sunday, 15 February 2015

Reviews: Devil's Train, ShadowQuest, Air Raid

Devil's Train: II (earMusic)

This is the stuff indeed, like drinking a fine bourbon in your favourite dive bar (possibly while scantily clad ladies cavort on poles) Devil's train play hard rock the way it should be a sleazy, dirty and delivered with a punch to the stomach. This multinational band are now on their second album (thus the imaginative title) and they keep things simple with the kind of late 70's early 80's bluesy hard rock favoured by Whitesnake and American hard rockers Tesla who's sound is at it's most noticeable on Gimmie Love and the swaggering Satanic country rock of Mr Jones. The band also add some modern biker stoner thrown in for good measure. The band are made up of some of the best known names in world of rock and metal, the man doing his best Slash-meets-Frank Hannon-by way of Reb Beach and George Lynch is guitarist Danish axe slinger Laki Ragazas while the sleazy, gun slinging engine room is provided by ex-Stratovarius men Jorg Michael (drums) and Jari Kainulainen (bass) however none of this would be as effective without a snake hipped, leather lunged vocalist and Devil's Train have a great one in Stetson sporting Greek wailer R.D. Liapakis who has a voice like velvet with the right amount of grit to set the loins of any ladies aflame. So that's the players sorted what about the songs well Rock Forever is 80's cheese at Y&T levels but very welcome indeed between the driving hard rock Can You Feel and the booty shaking Let's Shake It. Yes OK the lyrical content has been done before love, women, rocking, drinking and having a good time but now as then there is not much else you need to get a make a good rock song, that and some big balls luckily Devil's Train possess a huge pair that they use to great effect on these hard rocking tracks. OK so no one needs another cover of Born To Be Wild or indeed Immigrant Song but on their original tracks they really show their talent on the the rumbling (sorry) Thunderstorm, the filthy Hollywood Girl and for guitar fans Ragazas' guitar workout on Suffocate. A burly, strutting rock album that harks back to hard rocks glory days but performed with modern sheen. 9/10       

Shadowquest: Armoured IV Pain (Self Released)

As many of you may know Sweden is one of the spiritual homes of Power Metal with few countries doing it as well and here we have yet another Swedish power metal band composed of members from many famous Swedish metal bands most notably drummer Ronny Milianowicz formally of Sinergy and Dionysus, ex-Stratovarius, ex-Symfonia and current Devil's Train (see above) and Masterplan bassist Jari Kainulainen and Bloodbound singer Patrik "Pata" Johansson. With the high profile members involved everything points to this album being a power metal tour-de-force. Well all the elements are certainly firmly in place with duelling guitars, symphonic keyboard flourishes and a rhythm section that hurtles along at a fair pace indeed with All One being one of the fastest tracks and gives Johnasson a chance show off his powerful Michael Kiske-like vocal range, the band have a lot in common with Stratovarius and indeed Helloween with some robust guitar work in the rhythms and solos on Blood Of The Pure but also the classical keys of Stratovarius showing themselves on Live Again, with Midnight Sun having a swashbuckling Running Wild style fist-in-the-air chorus and We Bring The Power yet again this bands' striking gang vocal choruses. As it stands Shadowquest have managed to live up to the talents of those musicians involved with some genuinely exciting power metal that will have fans of the genre lapping up every single shredding solo, bombastic chorus and head banging riff before ending with the monstrous ballad Where Memories Grow which would make Kiske weep before the album ends with a by-the-numbers cover of Priests' Freewheel Burning that really adds nothing to the original but is done well. Shadowquest are very much a sum of their parts and play some great quality Swedish Power Metal. 8/10  

Air Raid: Point Of Impact (High Roller)

Another week and another album on High Roller means another denim and leather clad trad/retro metal band channelling the spirit of NWOBHM. This time we have Swedes Air Raid who play explosive, duel guitar led metal full of solos and helium vocals. This album is an album that does hark back to those heady days of the early 80's but the band add a lot of youth and vigour to the music and the modern production means everything sounds huge. No as for the band themselves they are all great musicians, plus they have great pseudonyms with the axe slinging coming from Stormchild and Johnny Nightshredder, bass is handled by Rob Thunderbolt, drums by Dave Thunderbolt and the roof raising vocals are from Arthur W Andersson (which is is his real name). These men come together brilliantly with the right amount of energetic drumming, lively basswork and dynamic guitars, throughout to make sure they keep your attention, Madness deviates from one rhythm part to another, Victim Of The Night starts slow before allowing Stormchild and Nightshredder to flex their fingers a little on the solo section. As I said for the most part the band hark back to Maiden, Priest and their ilk (Wildfire) but their flashes of the Swedish speed metal that Europe were known for in their early career, especially the aforementioned Victim Of The Night and Vengeance (not a Yngwie Malmsteen cover) which has an air of Seven Doors Hotel to it. With some superb musicianship and an album of eight well conceived and played songs Air Raid have produced a very strong sophomore album that does a lot to endear them to the listener. 8/10

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