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Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Reviews: Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Orphaned Land, Armory (Reviews By Paul)

Chris Robinson Brotherhood: Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel (Silver Arrow Records)

The voice of The Black Crowes. A voice that can make you melt. A voice used as an instrument. I fail to see how you cannot be moved by Chris Robinson’s voice. The acrimonious relationship with brother Rich that led to the final split of the Crowes disappointed many but has led to several albums from Robinson’s Brotherhood. The latest release, Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel is the first release to be self-produced by the band and the first to feature drummer Tony Leone and bassist Jeff Hill. It’s hell of an album, a fusion of psychedelia, funk, rhythm and blues and rock.

From the haunting emotional Some Gardens Green fine slide guitar through to the Jamiroquai soaked funk of Narcissus Soaking Wet and Ain’t It Hard But Fair, this is an album that stinks of quality from start to finish. Alongside Robinson, Neal Casal continues to provide quality guitar work whilst Adam MacDougall’s synths and keys underpin much of the album’s eight songs. At 46 minutes long it really is good value for money and stunning in its quality. Just grab a glass, sit back and relax to the likes of Oak Apple Day. Brilliant stuff. 8/10

Orphaned Land & Amaseffer: Kna’an (Century Media)

So who do you turn to when you are looking for a soundtrack to match your modern perspective on the biblical tale of Abraham? Orphaned Land lead singer and all round nice guy Kobi Farhi and Amaseffer’s Erez Yohanan seems like a good place to start. With the help of the rest of Orphaned Land, Farhi and Yohanan composed the soundtrack which consists of ballads and more mainstream metal songs about all the characters and inner conflicts of the heroes in this complex episode, a story that still reflects till this day in the three Abrahamic religions.

The first thing to comment on is that Farhi’s voice is as superb as ever, with his ability to soar given full range throughout. Secondly the musicianship is fantastic, such as the classical guitar work on A Tree With No Fruit and the rocking There Is No God For Ishma’el. As one would expect with two bands from Israel who really wave the flag for their country and the Middle East, the regional flavours which make Orphaned Land’s music so unique and appealing are strong throughout.

The quieter ballad type songs probably edge the rockier tunes, with the emotion soaked A Dove Without Wings a stand out tune. The harder edged Akeda is full of atmosphere and Uri Zelcha’s thundering bass lines combine magnificently with the haunting guitar work of Chen Balbus and Idan Amsalam. As soundtracks go, this is as good as you get and taken on face value it’s well worth a listen, especially if you are a fan of either band. 7/10

Armory: World Peace … Cosmic War (High Roller Records)

The resurgence in the 1980s has manifested itself in many ways. Recycled TV, food trends and fashion. I see people walking down the street dressed in exactly the same way a lot of my school colleagues did in 1984. Hideous fashions that were never cool. And as with all other fads, there is a little bit of a wash over to the world of metal. This currently applies to the numerous bands who have fashioned their sound on those early pioneers of the thrash and power metal scene. Which brings me to Hisingen’s Armory, not to be confused with the multiple Armory’s that seem to be around these days.

World Peace…Cosmic War takes you right back to the mid-1980s and the overlap with the formative thrash of Metallica circa Kill Em All, Slayer’s Show No Mercy and the power metal of Priest, Accept, Sacred Reich and Helloween. Throw in the breakdowns of Iron Maiden and Megadeth and you’ve pretty much nailed the sound that Armory make.  So far, so good and musically there is nothing to dislike. It’s fast, it’s frantic, the drumming sounds like Animal from The Muppets is keeping time and there are riffs galore, scorching solos and some decent changes of pace. The stomp of Hell’s Fast Blades and blitzkrieg of High Speed Death are testimony to this. Unfortunately, like many good band, Armory’s sound is defined by the vocals and I’m afraid that Konstapel P’s delivery just isn’t that good.

With a mixture of Tom Araya, King Diamond and Sy Keeler of Onslaught, his shrieks become irritating quite fast. The guttural delivery is fine, and when Konstapel does this I have no complaints. His weaknesses are highlighted on Spinning Towards Doom with a quite bizarre performance. Overall World Peace…Cosmic War is an average thrash release. If you want to use your cash wisely, pick up a release from Reign Of Fury or push it towards the old school and Onslaught. A band that did it right all those years ago. 6/10

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