The Amorettes: White Hot Heat (Off Yer Rocka)
"It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll" this famous line from the immortal Bon Scott has been the motto of many rock bands throughout the years, every young up and coming band can identify with the sentiment but few make it with many falling by the wayside. Scottish all-girl three piece The Amorettes will not fall by the wayside, their snotty, riff driven style of hard rock brings to mind the rawness of Bon Scott fronted AC/DC if the songs were performed by Girlschool. White Hot Heat is the bands third album and once again attracts big hitters with Thunder's Luke Morley handling the production, he also co-writes a couple of the tracks, as does Black Star Riders' frontman Ricky Warwick so with such luminaries of the rock world supporting the band you wouldn't be surprised to find out that White Hot Heat is a rip snorting, hard riffing, kick you in the spuds rock album from word go.
The bands D.I.Y ethic is commendable but this record they have tightened their sound up a little with the rhythm section of Heather and Hannah McKay chomping at the bit, trying to get faster and louder with every song, meaning that guitarist Gill Montgomery has to be both Malcolm and Angus with the six string, she chugs along with Heather's heavy bass until it's time for her to let loose with explosive guitar solo that cut through the noise with their sparkling precision. The band have been called Airbourne fronted by Joan Jett and you can see why on The Runaways-like Batter Up and four chord attack of Eyes On the Prize and White Russian Roulette which would both sit pretty on High Voltage.
However it's not just AC/DC and the Riot Grrl mentality, Let The Neighbours Call The Cops has the loudness and fuck 'em all attitude of the great Motorhead, Come N Get It is a bit glamtastic as is Pervert Alert both sounding a lot like The Sweet in their heyday. Roll is punk at it's purest and Man Meat is yet another DC-styled track but from the woman's point of view. Bon's mantra is true to this day but with the support these Scottish lasses have had the peak of the mountain is most definitely in site. 8/10
Persona Non Grata: Confirm Your Humanity (Steel Gallery Records)
Any album that opens with a finger plucked bass led opening track is either one of two things, a Les Claypool release or a progressive metal album. Confirm Your Humanity is the latter (sorry Primus fans) and it's progressive metal that sits in the same style as Fates Warning, Shadow Gallery and Dream Theater, think a heavy metal sound, virtuosos on the instruments and passionate songwriting that is built upon mesmerising instrumental pieces and the expansive vocal range of their frontman Bill Axiotis who is a dead ringer for Pagan's Mind man Nils K Rue, I mean he sounds exactly the same with just a hint of Geoff Tate.
Musically the band are very impressive indeed the guitar and bass are the heavy components of the songs with the keys adding the orchestrations and melodies for the cleaner leads to play over all while the drums often sound like they are playing a different song, this of course is a good thing as it keeps the songs interesting meaning that even when the band slow things down on the mega ballad Hope you can still sit in awe of the excellent playing that is going on behind the slightly maudlin song.
This album is the Greek band's third and the production is handled by veteran metal producer Chris Tsangarides who has behind the desk for Priest, Helloween, Anvil, Thin Lizzy as well as Depeche Mode and Tom Jones. He makes sure every instrument pops and allows you to focus on the intricate opening of songs such as Absent and brings out the heaviness on the more jazz orientated Burning Bridges. I'd not heard of Persona Non Grata before this despite my many dalliances with Greek metal, but I'm glad I found them as for me they tick all the boxes, this is a very strong classic sounding progressive metal album that will appeal to fans of Dream Theater and Queensryche. 8/10
Ouzo Bazooka: Simoom (Self Released)
Hailing from the cultural centre of Israel Tel-Aviv Ouzo Bazooka are a band that play Middle Eastern psychedelic rock, their third album Simoom is a sweeping piece of consciousness altering, mind bending piece with desert influenced music built on as the band say "exotic food and fresh coffee". This inclusive musical nature of the album is evident on all of the ten tracks, through funky, psych-filled romps such as Black Witch and the freaky Look Around which has the spirit of Syd Barrett looming large, in fact Syd's touch is heavy across the whole of Simoom as the album's kaleidoscopic, experimental nature allows the band, much like the city they come from, to draw from a melting pot of influences.
These are sculpted into songs by mastermind frontman Uri Brauner Kinrot who along with guitarist/bassist Adam Scheflan, keyboardist/vocalist Dani Ever-Hadani and drummer Ira Raviv are the arbiters of the music contained on this release. With glam rock on Shell, hallucinogenic ambiance on It's Real the obligatory slabs of Middle Eastern promise that shine through on tracks such as Clouds Of Sorrow all show Ouzo Bazookas dedication to the psychedelic genre in general. As I've said the influences come from throughout the musical spectrum the Oud and Bouzouki bring the Mediterranean heat as the record works through surf rock, pop rock and every other sound you can think of. With a real mix of East meets West this is shamanic, trippy peace loving music that wouldn't sound out of place on the hippie caravan trail and it's really just groovy...man! 8/10