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Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Reviews: Clutch, Hollywood Vampires, W.A.S.P (Reviews By Paul)

Clutch: Psychic Warfare (Weathermaker)

It’s two and a half years since Clutch released the incredible Earth Rocker, without doubt their most well received release and one that finally made many people realise what some of us had known for many years, Clutch are brilliant. Psychic Warfare builds on Earth Rocker in many ways, with Neil Fallon’s lyrical genius showing no sign of slowing down, Tim Sult’s blues soaked riffs wandering all over the place and the groove laden rhythm section of Jean Paul Gaster's frantic drumming combining with Dan Maines crack laced bass lines. Back in 2013 Matt commented in his Earth Rocker summary that if you know the band then the review becomes irrelevant as the band have a unique sound. Psychic Warfare is no different but is an album of sheer quality. We are all acquainted with X-Ray Visions by now, a superb opener which races out of the traps like a greyhound, all stomp and groove. As usual the melody and hook are mightily infectious and you find yourself tapping along very quickly. This one will incite the pits when they inevitably open with it in November.

As usual with Clutch, they don’t fuck around with lengthy tracks; the overwhelming majority of songs come in around the three and a half minute mark. Firebirds! maintains the momentum, seguing neatly from X-Ray Visions. It contains all the hall marks of a classic Clutch track, Fallon’s vocals on top form. Although Clutch do driving hard rock magnificently, they never stray far from the blues influences which have always flooded their sound and this is illustrated in fine form on A Quick Death In Texas and Our Lady Of Electric Light complete with some quite beautiful guitar work from Tim Sult. Psychic Warfare retains some of the punk tinged hard-core edge of early Clutch, infused with the hard rock and stone metal sounds. Check out Sucker For The Witch and Your Love Is Incarceration and the full-out assault of Noble Savage. Album closer Son Of Virginia is the odd one out on the album, a six minute slow burner that smoulders and entices you to listen harder. With an edge reminiscent of The Regulator from 2004’s Blast Tyrant, Son Of Virginia is very cleverly composed and demands repeated listens. Another outstanding release from a band finally getting the recognition they deserve. 10/10

Hollywood Vampires: Hollywood Vampires (Republic)

In the 1970s the Hollywood Vampires was a legendary drinking club which comprised some of the biggest names in music at the time. President of the club was Alice Cooper whilst other members included such shrinking violets as Keith Moon, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Micky Dolenz, Berine Taupin and Harry Nilsson. Cooper has collaborated with Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and actor Johnny Depp to create a super group who perform live with guest appearances from many of the rock world’s Gliterrati. Cooper has also put together the self-titled Hollywood Vampires in tribute to those who have long since departed.

The album features guest appearances from a host of rock legends including Paul McCartney, Robby Krieger (Doors guitarist), Dave Grohl, Slash, Brian Johnson, Perry Farrell and Zak Starkey. It consists mainly of 70s covers with a couple of new songs written by Copper and Depp. Opening with the last ever recorded work of the late Sir Christopher Lee who contributes a voice over on The Last Vampire, a passage from Dracula, the album starts with a new track, Raise The Dead which is a rabble rousing anthemic two and a bit minute typical Cooper rocker. This segues immediately into a montage of covers, starting with a pretty average My Generation. And I suppose this is my problem with this album. Yes, it’s a tribute and it is all very well played but it just smacks a little bit too much of just being all rather pleased with itself. I'm not a fan of cover versions at the best of times and some of the covers are of tracks I don’t particularly like; Itcychoo Park, for example I despise, whilst the inevitable School’s Out towards the end just leave me cold. Whole Lotta Love will no doubt get the average classic rock fan very excited but I'm afraid it just leaves me cold. Cooper has no doubt earnt the right to do whatever he wants and given the rubbish he churned out in his last solo release Welcome 2 My Nightmare 2, it might be small mercy that he’s focused on this instead. The other new composition, My Dead Drunk Friends is another typical Cooper composition with pretty limited lyrics saluting those who drank themselves to death. I'm afraid that this album does very little for me and whilst the musicianship is excellent throughout, I find Cooper’s constant retrospective a little tiresome at times. C'mon Alice, let it rest. The World has moved on. 5/10

W.A.S.P: Golgotha (Napalm Records)

Babylon, the last release from W.A.S.P in 2009 demonstrated that, as much of an arse as he undoubtedly is, Blackie Lawless could still write a metal tune. Six years on and the power is still there. Lawless’s voice remains powerful, with that gravel edged rasp still as strong as it was back in 1982 when his band first crashed onto the metal scene. Yes, the guy has erased part of his back catalogue, with some of the old tunes which made the band a shock to the system all those years ago now filed away for ever. Yes, he’s become a born again Christian (surprising how many metallers are bible bashers these days) but Golgotha contains some excellent hard rock tracks, accessible and catchy, with pounding drumming from the recently departed Mike Dupre, and some fine lead work via Doug Blair who has been with the band for nine years. Underpinning the whole thing is the rhythm work of Lawless and long serving bassist Mike Duda (20 years and counting). With a mere nine tracks, Golgotha surprisingly delivers value for money, six minutes shy of an hour’s worth of tunes.

Opener Scream is classic W.A.S.P, quickly getting the pulse racing as it charges along and the rest of the album is pretty similar in terms of what you expect. I'm unashamed when I say that I really enjoy a bit of W.A.S.P from time to time. It is hard rock/heavy metal reminiscent of the 1980s. Sure the lyrics aren't going to win any prizes for intricacy and some of the tracks on here are pretty tepid; the ballad Miss You for example is just dreadful, Eyes Of My Maker moves a little too close to the God squad for my liking and the tile track is just too “Dear Jesus” (Yes, I know what the title refers to) but there is sufficient on Golgotha to keep the fan base happy and let’s face it; at 60 years of age Blackie isn't looking for the big break now is he? Slaves Of The New World Order is another example of a typical W.A.S.P song, galloping along with a sound very similar to Iron Maiden and that is no bad thing. W.A.S.P are never going to appeal to a large section of the metal world; deemed irrelevant and in all honesty a bit of a joke despite the fact that they have soldiered on following their own ideas and really not giving a fuck. Golgotha is a decent heavy metal album and really worth a listen. 7/10

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