The V (Veronica Freeman): Now Or Never (Frontiers)
Veronica Freeman will be familiar to many who know a thing or two about the metal scene, the voluptuous Amazonian queen of scream has fronted American metal act Benedictum for a good for years now so if you have listened to the band then you will be familiar with her powerful vocals that will blow your speakers when she lets rip. However on this her debut solo album she moves away from the all out metal attack of her day job moving more into the hard rock sphere, this may be due to her recent collaboration with Stryper's Michael Sweet, this meeting of minds continues on this record with Sweet producing two tracks and writing others on this album as well as contributing guitar. In fact The V has acquired a huge line up of guests on this album with the most notable being Jeff Pilson (Dokken) and Michael LePond (Symphony X), Aric Avina (Benedictum) supplying bass, Jim Durkin (Dark Angel), Mick Tucker (Tank) and Benedictum's Pete Wells slinging the six strings.
There is only one drummer in the shape of Unearth's Derek Kerswill behind the kit but there are a couple of vocal foils for Ms Freeman to challenge with Chastain's Leather Leone on Kiss My Lips and former Sabbath man Tony Martin on the excellent last track the epic ballad (the albums only) King For A Day. The tracks on this album are very good, the title track is filled with swaggering riffs and backing horns and sees Freeman really letting loose, before Rollercoaster has the dirty sleaze of the 80's sunset strip and L.O.V.E borders on AOR with it's speedy melodic guitar licks. In fact much of this album is deep in the 80's vibe with Pat Benatar and Joan Jett both coming to mind as you listen to tracks like Line In The Sand, Love Should Be To Blame and Below Zero. With an album full of great songs that moves between melodic hard rock, to bluesy rock tracks while having a pinch of metal too. They really let you see how good Veronica's vocals are (and also you can see where a lot of In This Moments Maria Brink influences comes from). Now Or Never is a strong solo album from a metal legend, The V is definitely one of a kind and this album is proof! 8/10
Enertia: Piece Of The Factory (Divebomb Records)
Enertia call themselves 'Pure American Metal' and it is hard to argue as they are indeed American, hailing from the Empire State and they do play pure classic metal in the vein of Iced Earth, Manilla Road, Armored Saint, Queensryche and have been doing so since 1996. Funding most of their career themselves the band have kept a constant line up since their inception and they have plied their trade as a D.I.Y style band for years all of which has culminated in Piece Of The Factory their fifth studio album released through Divebomb records (who also released Eradikator's most recent effort). Musically the band have a strong showing honed over years this four piece are all consummate musicians and virtuoso players, from the opening blast of Do It Again which is driven by Jeff Dahley's huge drums sound before Roman Singleton's guitars slice through the beginning of Demons Of Silence.
The pace stays high through the tracks that follow with the anthemic The Hardest Sorrow having the same kind of lyrical sentiment but crunchy instrumentals as Symphony X. The title track starts out with percussion and turns into a thrash attack that allows Singleton's guitars and Joe Paciolla's bass can provide the huge riffs and groove, now I've talked a lot about the instrumentation which is great but the band also have one heck of a vocalist in Scott Featherstone he has a great voice that handles this metal really well with his gritty vocal style and booming delivery that would equally suit power metal bands and more groove based bands like Pantera. Enertia have produced another competent effort with great songwriting and precision performances, Enertia need more recognition than they have and hopefully with Piece Of The Factory they will get recognised on these shores. 8/10
City Of Thieves: Incinerator EP
Another British rock band comes bursting out of the gates full of vim and vigour with big riffs, swaggering basslines and snarling vocals, City Of Thieves have a pedigree that betrays their years, much of this is due to their great songwriting, professional playing and the excellent production from Toby Jepson (who is rapidly becoming the go-to guy for up and coming rock bands when they want to create magic) This EP has four huge tracks driven by the monstrous riffs of Ben Auswick and Adam Wardle who show their mettle on Lay Me To Waste which does just that, they are backed by the big beats of Will Richards drums and Jamie Lailey's thumping bass and scarred, attitude fuelled vocals which are at their best on the razor sharp Buzzed Up City which has a riff Angus will probably find a little familiar. As with all young bands they have influences to draw on with AC/DC and Aerosmith being the two biggest but like all good bands they add enough of their own style to stop them becoming a pastiche and they show their blooze prowess on the final track which is an acoustic 'live' version of Mr 50/50. Yet another serious rock and roll band from our hallowed ground and with a strong EP the debut album bodes well! 7/10