Abbath: Abbath (Season of Mist)
To say that what seems to be the end of Black Metal legend Immortal was dramatic is an understatement, the split was rife with all the mud slinging of an episode of Eastenders with frontman Abbath leaving the group he founded with guitarist Demonaz in 1990. Now the band wer in a legal battle over the rights and Abbath dissolved the band to continue under his own name however Demonaz and drummer Horgh will apparently continue the band without him and are said to be recording a new album. Now what will come of this I'm not going to speculate, but what I am going to do is review Abbath's heralded debut solo album. Before the release of the solo album yet more departures have happened with album sticksman Creature and live guitarist Per Valla both leaving the group before the album was even released, but now lets get away from the comings and goings of the personnel and focus on the music contained on this disc.
Lets address the elephant in the room right away shall we, this is black metal, in fact it's the kind ov Norwegian Black Metal that Immortal were at the forefront of for many years, blending finger shredding thrash with Satanic lyrics and Abbath's croaking vocals to brooding, dark metal, just listen to the propulsive blast beats of Count The Dead and Fenrir Hunts and you can hear the band Abbath started. There is also a lot of classic and modern metal on this record with the atmospheric Root Of The Mountain sounding like it could come from Mercyful Fate and the brutal Winter Bane sitting at home on a Devildriver record. So fans of Abbath will get a lot from this records but it's not perfect it suffers from sequencing issues, the best tracks coming towards the latter part of the album, there also one or two duds with To! War sounding like it was recorded in a dustbin and Ashes Of The Damned being totally rubbish having the jarring synth horns slicing through it. For a first shot away from his previous band it's got enough to win over the doubters but there are a couple of risks that don't quite pay off, still for the most part it's fast, furious black metal fun! 7/10
Cauldron: In Ruin (The End Records)
Four albums into their career and Cauldron are showing no signs of releasing that disco-funk album we've all be waiting for but they still seem able to drop a heaving slab of bullet-belt wearing, leather clad, NWOBHM worship, so for now we'll just have to deal with the fact that this is what Cauldron do and do very well indeed. The threesome, led by founder members Ian Chains and Jason Decay, once again have every old school pastiche covered with galloping bass runs from Decay leading the charge backed by the thundering toms of new boy Myles Deck, topped with some tasty shredding from the Flying V of Chains. Yes Cauldron do stick rigidly to a formula but it's one that seems to really make them shine, from the first chords of No Return/In Ruin you are drawn in with the schlocky B- movie horror lyrics and the songs direct go for the throat riff. It's this immediacy that the Canadian three piece have repeatedly brought to their previous albums, there is no real let up as every one of these nine tracks has either a swift thrash riff case -in-point Santra Mira or as on Hold The Sky a strutting punch the sky rhythm, more melody comes in the shape of Corridors Of Dust which is possibly the albums most Maiden moment while Delusive Serenade is an instrumental that gives you time to breathe and nods to Ride The Lightning. I have to reiterate that Cauldron do what they do well, the proto-thrash, the ghostly reverb of Decay's vocals and the prerequisite admiration paid to the old school are all in abundance and hopefully Cauldron will still continue to keep the spirit of NWOBHM alive. 7/10
The Radio Sun: Heaven Or Heartbreak (Melodic Rock Records)
When you think Aussie rock the usual suspects come to mind, however The Radio Sun have about as much in common with AC/DC as Behemoth would. There are no bluesy pub rock vibes here just big slick saccharine melodic guitar rock rhythms that take you to hazy summer nights as the mist descends over the beach and that bikini clad beauty cuddles up to you to keep warm...*cough* sorry drifted away there. Starting off with Caught Between Heaven And Heartbreak we kick start with the huge riffs Stevie Janvski who plays like EVH in his heyday soloing mightily when he gets his time to shine. The groove of bassist Robbie Erdmanis and drummer Ben Wignall's is sturdier than Locktite, this powerful boiler room is the perfect foil for Janvski's guitars and the impressive but understated synths that fill the background at their poppiest on Science Fiction Make Believe which features Danger Danger frontman Paul Laine helping with vocals, as well as doing a sterling production job, ensuring everything is very glossy. This is uncomplicated, polished, accomplished melodic rock that has an ear to bands like Winger, Nelson, Night Ranger, Def Leppard and even Queen on Hanging By A Thread in places, much of these comparison can be drawn because of the soulful vocals of Jason Old who has the perfect vocal for this kind of unfussy melodic rock giving the same heartfelt performance on the rockier tracks as he does on the emotive ballad Dying Without Your Love and the radio bothering Do You Remember Me? The Radio Sun perfectly execute a mix of hard rock with a keen ear to the 80's FM radio era. Heaven Or Heartbreak is a melodic rock masterclass and The Radio Sun couldn't be more aptly named, this album is a ray of sunshine shining out of your speakers (if that's possible). 8/10