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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Reviews: Michael Schenker's Temple Of Rock, 4ARM, Danny Cavanagh (By Paul)

Michael Schenker's Temple Of Rock: Spirit On A Mission (Inakustik)

The latest release from German guitar legend Michael Schenker and his Temple of Rock outfit is a decent if unspectacular slab of hard rock. Schenker is in top form, frantic fretwork laced with his traditional bluesy feel. Opener Live and Let Live races along at top speed and whets the appetite with a pounding rhythm section from ex-Scorpions duo Herman Rarebell and Francis Buchholz. Communication is a slower track with Doogie White given ample opportunity to show his vocal skills. However, from here on, the tracks become a little bit repetitive and I’m afraid some of the lyrics are just typical mid-tempo heavy metal rubbish. Sure, the traditional format of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, chorus are all present and the tunes are decent enough with Schenker’s playing his usual high quality; it just seems a little stale and dare I say it, dated. Vigilante Man plods along tediously, and although Rock City is faster, the lyrics are just drivel. Maybe I'm being a little hard on the band, as it’s not dreadful by any level, it just does so little for me. Saviour Machine at least has the traits of MSG from the 1980s when the star was really in the ascendency, a stomping beat and wailing guitar work, combined with Wayne Finlay's solid keys and rhythm guitar work. I wonder as I listened if it was just White’s vocal style that irritated me about this album but I've seen the guy live with this band several times and he’s always been excellent. The guitar work at the beginning of Something Of The Night mimic Flight Of The Bumblebee, whilst the song itself is classic 1970s rock, suitable for Deep Purple or Rainbow, which of course is where these guys influences are based. Let The Devil Scream has a quality riff which provides the basis for a Dio-style tune, complete with religious history in the lyrics, before the album draws to a close with three routine songs, including the ridiculous Good Times. So overall, a bit of a disappointing jumble of songs, with a definite old school hard rock feel to them. It may be the quality of the song writing that persuades Schenker to fill his live sets with tracks from his past, the classics from UFO, MSG and the Scorpions always receiving astonishing responses. As I said, the guitar work on Spirit On A Mission is as top drawer as always, it maybe just that the sum of the parts can’t consistently meet that quality. 6/10

4ARM: Survivalist (Self Released)

When Aussie thrashers 4Arm’s third album, Submission To Liberty landed on my mat in 2012 I was blown away by the sheer quality of it. Yes, it was a hybrid of Machine Head, Slayer and Metallica but it was fresh and kicked hard. Three years later, and their latest release Survivalist has finally arrived. Refreshed by two line-up changes, namely vocalist and lead guitarist Marcus Johansson and guitarist Evan K, remaining members Andy Hinterrieter (bass) and drummer Michael Vafiotis have delivered a raging beast of an album. Produced by Matt Hyde (Trivium, Machine Head, Kreator, Slipknot), Survivalist is a classic all-out thrash assault, opening with Eyes Of The Slain and finishing with the album’s title track, an epic eight minute slow burner which culminates in some astonishing fretwork. 4Arm follow the trash blueprint throughout, shredding guitars, more hooks than a Saturday meat market (Lets hope PETA don't read this - Ed), riffs dripping from its open pores and a powerful and at times quite stunningly aggressive rhythm section. Sure, Hyde’s production influence is clear here; at times the Trivium and Machine Head influences are very apparent but then so is the Metallica and what thrash band post 1984 doesn't have that? Overall, the latest release from the Melbourne outfit is excellent and if you like high quality thrash metal then this will be right up your street. Hopefully we will get to see them back on our shores again before too long. 9/10

Daniel Cavanagh: Memory and Meaning (Pledge Music)

The main writer for Liverpool’s Anathema, Daniel Cavanagh embarked on a pledge music campaign in order to fund and produce an album of his take on some of his influences and favourite artists. The result is well worth the pledge, with ten tracks of the highest quality and some interesting choices too. An all-acoustic set, Cavanagh’s sublime guitar work combined with his uplifting vocal performance adds fresh dimensions to some older classics. Highlights for me include the timeless Song To The Siren (Tim Buckley), a beautiful version of Dire Straits’ Romeo And Juliet and a very refreshing Wasted Years (Iron Maiden). What makes this album so special is the heartfelt effort which you can feel Cavanagh has put into it; each track having something a little different to make it stand out from the original. Album closer High Hopes (Pink Floyd) is an ideal example of this. If you fancy something a little different, then give this a go. 10/10

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