Pop Evil: Up (eOne Music)
So Michigan rockers Pop Evil come back with their fourth album, this record comes off the back of their breakthrough record Onyx, this previous release saw them get harder heavier and more grown up yet still retaining the melodic punch of their early albums. Onyx was the album instrumental in getting them known in the UK too (we got a special edition) and saw them tour the country on a solo tour and as support to Five Finger Death Punch. So what about Up? well it is yet again a step up in terms of musicianship and song writing, Footsteps is a marching chant along track that perfectly merges the bands heaviness with their keen ear for a melody, in fact this whole album is heavier than it's predecessor with a lot more big riffs from Nick Fuelling and Dave Grahs who add a swagger to tracks like Take It All and even some thrash riffs on Vendetta although they are not afraid of some introspective strumming on If Only For Now and even some Mandolin on Seattle Rain. They are the work horses that generally drive the music while Matt DiRito's bass and Joshua Marunde drums are deft and expressive supplying more than just rhythm.
Musically the palate on this record is wider than on previous releases, with a lot more electronic elements throughout especially on the eerie Ghost Of Muskegon; In Disarray harks to Stone Temple Pilots's style of psychedelic alternative rock, they are more than at home with the thumping modern metal stomp of Core, while Ways To Get High has a nod to Nirvana or Seether and Lux is a lustful hard rocker with a 'ooh' refrain, much of this mix of styles comes from Leigh Kakaty's impressive vocals, he gives an impassioned performance throughout with a huge range in his vocal. Last time I reviewed Pop Evil I said they were essentially an amalgamation of most post 90's American Rock bands, cherry picking the best bits to create albums and once again this is true albeit with a bit more gravitas, most notably on the final track Til Kingdom Come and the bonus number My Confessions, than before. Pop Evil continue on an upward trajectory with this record, watch this space as they could go stratospheric! 9/10
King King: Reaching For The Light (Hatman)
Scots blues rockers King King don't need any praise they have already won five British blues awards including best band (for the third time) and best album for their debut and their second album Standing In The Shadows. Having toured the album all around the UK they focused their sound and this is what is most evident on their third offering, the band are as tight as the lid on a W.I Jam jar. The four piece play classy blues rock on which all of the band gel perfectly, Alan Nimmo is the soulful vocals and the sublime six stringing, he plays with precision and passion providing the same kind of restrained but eloquent playing that Rory Gallagher or Stevie Ray Vaughan were revered for see the middle section of Stranger To Love. He is not the member of the band though and he is more than ably backed by the spirited drumming of Wayne Proctor, the funky bass playing of Lindsay Coulson both keep the engine room nice and stoked on the faster tracks like Hurricane and You Stopped The Rain as well as the more soulful cuts such as Rush Hour which also highlights the talents of Bob Fridzemas keys, he adds a mean organ with some ramping up the funk factor on Crazy.
All together the band blend seamlessly feeding off each other and giving the album a jam-like feel, from the outset the album it feels like a classic Whitesnake album, in fact Nimmo's excellent voice is the major reason for this, he delivers each line with a smoky blues that is somewhere between David Coverdale and Dave Meneketti from Y&T he has the perfect voice for the blues emotive but masculine especially when he sings of love on Lay With Me which has the keys just punctuating it perfectly before things funk up again in the coda for Just A Little Lie. After just one play of this album and it is evident why the hype surrounding King King is so justified, this album is superb it's a real tour-de-force of blues rock power, the band are virtuoso musicians and they know how to write a song and on this album they have nine stone cold classics. If you love blues rock par excellence then seek out Reaching For The Light you won't regret it. 9/10
Mykur: M (Relapse)
Mykur is a black metal band formed by Danish singer-songwriter Amalie Bruun who handles vocals, guitar piano and the production along with Kristoffer "Garm" Rygg from Norwegian Black Metal legends Ulver, she has assembled a cast of musicans to help her create this album that draws elements from, second wave black metal, atmospheric post-metal, gothic, darkwave, Scandinavian folk and classical music. So if that all sounds like it might be a bit over the top then you'd be right, this album moves from glacial black metal riffs and screeches to huge orchestral passages before culminating in lilting folk, Bruun's vocal range is superb she can chirp like a song bird, evoke magic with her clean vocals and scare Satan himself with her murderous scream. Now this album has garnered a lot of praise from the metal and rock press, which may be because Bruun is a woman, but it seems that this album is hailed as some kind of second coming of black metal, well that it maybe but for me it is mostly just the folky metal of Leave's Eyes with some black metal blastbeats thrown in for good measure, everything is played perfectly, precision is the name of the game here folks, add to that the D.I.Y production and you get a great true cvlt metal sound throughout. If you love black metal with folk influences then you will love M but for the most part the album is by the numbers black metal with some Danish folk and orchestrations to flesh it out a little. 7/10