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Friday, 19 August 2016

Reviews: Sabaton, Gene The Werewolf, Electric Fence

Sabaton: The Last Stand (Nuclear Blast)

Swedes Sabaton are back with yet another record of more bouncy power metal based on yet more war themes. I suppose the lyrical content will run out when they run out of wars, but still they seem to find inspiration from somewhere. So what make The Last Stand different to it's predecessors well this is Sabaton so nothing, which will come as a relief to new fans but may irritate longer term listeners as they seem to be continuing with the lighter weight sound from their last few records. This record seems to be a lot more keyboard orientated than their live set, something that I think is lacking in their stage show, it would be a lot more representative of their sound much like it used to be.

Here they are a blessing and a curse as they make tracks like Sparta sound like an excellent symphonic film score but equally the synth bagpipes on The Battle Of Bannockburn turns an already weak song into a bit of a joke. The playing on the record is as usual good and Joacim still has a chest beating vocal delivery but this album just screams "reason to tour" i.e just an excuse to add new songs to their live show which is where the band shine, this isn't a bad thing by any means, stick with what you are good at but the quality of the songwriting is much lower than on Art Of War, Coat Of Arms and Primo Victoria, in places it's almost a pastiche of itself. The songs vary in quality and move from the sublime leg pounding classic Sabaton on Rorke's Drift to curveball of throbbing electro industrial of Lost Battalion then to the the title track where I defy you not to sing the theme from Chuckle Brothers during the middle section.

Like I've said I'm surprised about the extensive keyboard use on this record and I think they'd benefit getting a keyboardist in the band again, but that's not my call. There is a bit of a goofy laziness to this album, it's Sabaton doing what their newer fans expect; slightly silly by the numbers power metal with an ear to the pop mainstream. I urge you to get the limited edition version because even though the Judas Priest cover is not necessary the other bonus track Camouflage is actually one of the strongest tracks on the record. The Last Stand is Sabaton being Sabaton but at nowhere near their best. 7/10

Gene The Werewolf: The Loner (Self Released)

I loved Gene The Werewolf's first international release Rock N Roll Animal it's been played to death at MoM towers since I first heard the record. The bawdy, sleazy, fist pumping biker rock contained on it still puts a stupid smile on my face every time I play it. I must say I did lose touch a little with Gene and Co after the album, so you can picture my grinning face when I stumbled upon The Loner which is Gene's newest album, his first in 2 years and his third (in the US) album overall.

The Loner is an apt title to the record as Gene and his band of merry men are really iconoclasts due to the music they play, there is no urge to be famous or part of the crowd, they play music that is ingrained in the hard rock tradition, they do so for their own enjoyment mainly as there is not a shred of compromise to be had anywhere. It's the music they love, played their way and if you love it too jump on your Harley and come along, if not then keep walking while the rest of us bask in the hard rocking that take place from the opening swagger of The Walking Dead which has Gene covering the zombie apocalypse in his own unique style while Whitesnake/Winger axe man Reb Beach adds some scorching guest guitar solos (Beach is from the band's home city of Pittsburgh).

What follows from this are 9 tracks of pure unadulterated rock n roll harking back to American hard rock sleaze driven early 80's heyday think Motley Crue and G'N'R jamming to Ted Nugent, KISS and AC/DC this will tell you all you need to know. Gene handles the howls, croons, wails and screams of the vocalist position as well as playing a mean guitar (SG of course) aided and abetted by Drew Donegan also on six-strings, bassist Tim Schultz, drummer Nick Revak and Aaron Mediate bringing the keys/organs, he has assembled a supremely competent band to support him among more guests who rear their head throughout.

Once again I'm in awe of Gene's vocals, he has such an expansive expressive range to his Southern drawl, applying it with gusto on the cracking tracks that fill this album with the ZZ Top-like Too Kool For Skool which is full of blues harp and the honky tonk title track. The second half of the album moves away from the Southern sounds to a more classic hard rock feeling with Let It Loose and Fortune And Fame bringing to mind G'N'R. The Loner is another great album from Gene The Werewolf check it out if you love classic rock at it's best! 9/10

Electric Fence: Motorkiller (Self Released)

Electric Fence hail from Madrid but their sound is rooted deep in the late 60's early 70's hard rock legacy but with massive amounts of Southern rock power. Stole The Fire which opens the record sounding like lost Cream track but with a nod to Wolfmother with the riff and the howling vocals. Much like with the Gene The Werewolf record they have an eclectic sound the title track sounds like Lynyrd Skynyrd mixed with driving AC/DC riffage. The album grabs you by the balls and doesn't let you go with it's fusion of modern meets classic sounds the guitarists play laid back slide blues on What I Am which also shows off the frontman's incredible soulful vocals very similar to Myles Kennedy but with a much grittier bottom end.

Motorkiller astounds on every song it's the Spanish band's third album and this shows, all of the songs on this record are well written played and most importantly produced, they just sound warm and welcoming bringing you into the record as the drumming work get hips shaking on Don't Dare while Red Moon Rising has a bass driven Zeppelin sound while Black Widow once again brings the heavy Country of Molly Hatchet. There are just so many sounds on this record that any discerning rock fan will find something they will love, especially those that love a Stetson wearing, whiskey drinking Southern rock

Electric Fence have bit of a duff name but their music is just that brimming with electricity and a fresh approach to classic rock as well as having the flavours to some of the biggest modern bands such as The Temperance Movement, The Cadillac Three, Blackberry Smoke, Airbourne and so many others. The album plays as almost a jukebox of classic rock music and yes there is a bit of a mish mash of sounds but they are all anchored by a love of rock music. Impressive stuff from the Spanish rockers, now let's organise a tour shall we? 9/10    

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