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Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Reviews: Vodun, Heavy Star, Hypnos

Vodun: Possession (Riff Rock Records)

Vodun means spirit in the Fon and Ewe languages of Ghana, it is pronounced [vodṹ] with a nasal high-tone and is for all intents and purposes a form of Voodoo. Vodun the band are a three piece unit from London (but they would say they were from Mother Earth) the band is made up of Ogoun on drums, Marassa on guitar and Oya on vocals and they play what can only be described as shamanistic ritual rock that is part soul, part stoner and wrapped in psychedelic blanket of quirkiness. Possession is their second album and it stays deep in the soulful, afro-centric rock rhythms of the debut with slabs of fuzzy riffage and the furious tribal beat drumming that cuts like lightning through the static rhythm created by Marassa. As Loa's Kingdom gets started with the explanation of the Vodun religion before the riffage kicks in and Oya unleashes her special, natural vocals that merge gospel with more hard rock style, the record doesn't hang around the with the primal fury of Bondeye moves into Bloodstones which has a slow burn beginning but has a heavyweight second half with superb riffs working in conjunction with Oya's wailing on this psychedelic proggy track, then we speed up again into the punk styling of Oya. Throughout this record you get real love for the bands use of just guitar and drums to create the rhythmic body moving jams featured here, if you don't believe me then check out Leba's Feast which employs some frenetic drumming and some melodic furious riffage. Possession is an album that want's to creep into your soul and take it over turning you into a dervish of sound and colour as Vodun translate the noises in your head into an impressive musical palette that will let you expand your mind. 8/10             

Heavy Star: Electric Overdrive (Perris Records)

Heavy Star are an Italian heavy rock band, aiming for the same swagger of bands such as Tesla, Ratt, Skid Row and Kiss Electric Overdrive is full of big ballsy guitar playing, a powerful rhythm section and melodic vocals that sound a lot like Jeff Keith with that right amount of grit and melody. Electric Overdrive is the band's debut record and see's the band coming fully formed with eight rocking tracks that show what the band can do, yes there's the usual mix of ballads and rockers, but from the opening riff of Love And Affection you are locked into a late 80's rock groove, still the opener is the a bit weak actually and it's up to Blessed to start the album properly as it really has the punch the album needs blending Motley Crue and Def Leppard and showing founding member Marco K-Ace's guitar work, as the album progresses we get more slabs of rock with all of the band displaying their talents, however as they cover Love Gun you realise that this record is just a bit meh throughout, it never really moves out of third gear, it's all a bit safe, there is a lot of promise but for the most part this is middle of the road hard rock, hopefully a second album will let them flesh their sound out a little. 5/10

Hypnos: Cold Winds (Crusher Records)

Sweden's Hypnos play denim washed boogie rock of early Status Quo fused with bullet belt wearing NWOBHM by way of Jethro Tull, see singer Phillip's liberal use of flute on opening track Start The Hunt. Like many of their compatriots Hypnos are decidedly retro with Lizzy-like twin guitars, a rocking backline and some wild eyed layered vocals all coming together to make you want to throw on your bell bottoms, put your fist in the air and headbang like you are half your age. Cold Winds is the bands second full length and after seeking out their debut before this review I can see that the band have stuck to their initial style of riff laden classic rock that exhibits some excellent guitar interplay from Oskar Karlsson and Fredrik Bäckström by the two on the jam session middle section on The Captive but also add the heart to the emotive Det Kommer En Dag which starts out slow and builds into a heavier second section, the everyone contributes magic to the 8 minute plus stoner finale 1800 which once again has flute bolstering it and slow steady jazz like back beat, as it switches pace frequently. The band work in harmony throughout with everyone playing brilliantly throughout really bringing a sense of live-in-the-studio to proceedings, enriched by warm production, the classic sounds Hypnos can now stake their claim to the Swedish retro rock title which is currently passed between Graveyard, Blues Pills, Truckfighters, Lugnet and Troubled Horse. Cold Winds could be the album that announces Hypnos to the masses. 7/10

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