SiXforNinE: S/T (No Regrets)
SiXforNinE are alternative/progressive metal band from Athens Greece, the band was formed by guitarist George Kapa, Bassist Herc Booze and drummer Pete Outfox, while writing their debut album they acquired the services of former Septicflesh drummer Fotis Bernardo as producer and sound engineer, during the recording process they found that Fotis also has a hell of a voice and he duly became the bands lead singer. This was a superb step for the band as Fotis' voice is the cherry on top of what is already a very sweet musical cake. Sound Of Perfection starts things off with Floydian Run Like Hell style before the heaviness kicks and we move straight into the Alter Bridge/Disturbed style metal with a huge bassline from Booze, Kapa's furious guitar work and some cracking drumming as Bernardo uses his powerful vocals that are perfect fit for this kind of chest beating metal, in fact while I was listening to this album I immediately thought of bands like Adrenaline Mob or Sacred Mother tongue that tried this style of progressive tinged alternative metal but ultimately couldn't pull it off; SiXforNinE however do it with style part Alice In Chains, part Porcupine Tree bringing in progressive elements throughout their muscular riffs.
All My Heroes Are Dead is of that style with some big grooves augmented by Booze's voodoo groove, Kapa's melodic flowing playing style in the solos that flash like lightning before moving back into the thumping metal rhythms. Hourglass slows up the pace relying on a funky prog bassline to move things along as Bernardo howls with his superior voice. His production too allows everything to stand out, from the thunderous drumming, to the anchoring bass, impressive leads and great vocals, the production is modern and gives you a crystal clear sound meaning that all elements can sparkle. More Floyd comes in on the opening to Save Me which has a staccato reverbed guitar riff to open before turning into the albums most emotive song until the acoustic When The Roses Turn Back which is classic AIC, featuring some beautiful lyrics and orchestral swells behind. The rock kicks back in on 649 and the punky Drifted before climaxing with the heaviest track on the album God Among The Silence which ends the album perfectly. SiXforNinE are an amazing blending classic metal influences with heaps of modern metallic goodness, couple that with spellbinding performances from all those involved, sterling production and most importantly excellent songs that bridge that gap between mainstream and underground. SiXforNinE remind me a lot of Brit groove masters Panic Cell, I loved them and I love SiXforNinE, pick up their album and you will too. 9/10
Hinder: When The Smoke Clears (The End Records)
Hinder hit the big time with their debut album Extreme Behaviour the album sold over three million copies in the U.S and their debut single Lips Of An Angel went in at number one on the rock charts, things looked great for the band, they continued a strong streak on second album Take It To The Limit. However the band had a few problems with their singer Austin Winkler who became increasingly erratic with his behaviour and fianlly he entered rehab, it also saw the band moving away from the Buckcherry like sleaze rock into a Motley Crue pastiche on All American Nightmare and Welcome To The Freakshow, I'll admit both of these albums were uninspired in my eyes however Winkler has gone now and the band are in a new era. When The Smoke Clears can be seen as metaphor for their rise from the ashes with drummer Cody Hanson producing the album with new singer Marshal Dutton who has been writing with the band since All American Nightmare, Dutton has breathed new life into the band his voice is cleaner than Winkler's having a more Bon Jovi-like croon which gives the band a new edge on the Hit The Ground and first single Rather Hate Than Hurt. Hinder have moved back into their hard rocking American radio rock style fusing Papa Roach with Guns & Roses all wrapped up in a Nickelback blanket, cue big guitars, big hooks and chant along choruses. There are also some country elements creeping in on Wasted Life, I Need Another Drink with the heaviness supplied by Intoxicated, electro elements on Dead To Me. As with all bands like this there are more than enough lighters in the air balladry with If Only For Tonight, the very JBJ Foolish Eyes and the shout along Nothing Left To Loose. Hinder have really stepped up their game on this album, welcome to the party guys it's nice to have you back! 7/10
Banditos: S/T (Bloodshot)
Southern to the core Banditos hail from Birmingham, Alabama but are now based in Nashville (yes folks that Southern) these Stetson wearing, banjo toting, gospel howling, bourbon drinking, blues loving, country pickin' good ole' boys (and girl) have all the necessary elements to impress a crowd in a spit and sawdust honky tonk bar (that play both country & western) and down & dirty rock show. The band were formed by singer/guitarist Corey Parsons and singer/banjoist(?) Stephen Pearce who spent their time in D.I.Y punk and hardcore bands and you can hear that punk ethos throughout this debut album the band sound a lot like Dylan when he went electric (Can't Get Away) mixed with some early ZZ Top, some Drive By Truckers with a bit of Grateful Dead and Brother & The Holding Company thrown in for good measure. The band have a wide eclectic sound with three vocalists giving a breadth of delivery the opening The Breeze has all three giving blast over fuzzy electric rocking, a U-turn comes next with the hillbilly explosion of Waitin' which is a banjo led bluegrass track and shows of Mary Beth Richardson's seriously soulful delivery, she made her name in gospel choirs and it shows through on this track where she does her best to channel June Carter Cash and Janis Joplin howling as the song gets faster.
The band are all talented musicians their technical prowess perfectly understated and loose while never missing a beat, the locomotive shuffle of Golden Grease shows this driven by Randy Wades shuffling drums, Danny Vines double bass, the dual chugging guitars of Jeffery Salter and Corey Parsons (who also shows off his pained gruff voice) and underscored by Stephen Pearce's banjo. As I've said this is 'proper' Southern music honed on the road and drawing from a multitude of influences including doo-wop on No Good and Old Ways on which Richardson does her best to take the roof off the place. Banditos have managed to distil all of the sounds of the South into 12 distinct tracks and as the rollicking Cry Baby Cry and the smoky blues of Preachin' To the Choir end the album this six piece have taken you on a journey through the history of Southern music with Banditos as your hariy, denim clad guides. 9/10