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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Reviews: Taylor Hawkins, Stefan Berggren, Trees Of Eternity, Duskwood

Taylor Hawkins: K.O.T.A (Self Released)

Another Foo Fighters hiatus, another Taylor Hawkins solo project, following on from two Coattail Riders records and his Birds Of Satan records K.O.T.A takes a departure that sees Hawkins in full 'solo' album mode, with previous releases he has formed another band with this release he does a Prince and plays everything sans some bass from Wiley Hodgden, Coattail Riders’ Chris Chaney, and Foo Fighters’ Nate Mendel.

It is also probably he most personal record to date, though just a 6 song EP it sees Hawkins telling tales of his suburbanite existence and drawing on his past follies, crafting Sprinsteenian stories. Groove driven Range Rover Bitch and Bob Quit His Job are observations of American life as Hawkins lives them the latter actually about his neighbour Bob doing what the title says. However he also digs deep with Southern Belles touching on his down south upbringing and Tokyo No No is a cautionary tale from the Foos early days of being young, dumb and reckless.

Each song is a self contained narrative that forms part of a wider more meditative whole and as I've Got Some Not Being Around You To Do Today closes out the EP, Hawkins once again captures the imagination and displays that away from the Foos mother-ship he has his head firmly rooted in 70's Cali sound. 7/10  

Stefan Berggren: Stranger In A Strange Land (Pride & Joy Music)

Stefan Berggren is a former singer of Whitesnake off-shoot Company Of Snakes, that survived until 2004. Berggren was behind the mic between 2000-2002,l he has also served time in Snakes In Paradise, M3, Razorback and the Berggren Kerslake band. The Swede also had the unenviable task of being the Coverdale in what was a reactivation of the original line up of Whitesnake (Marsden, Moody, Murray, Lord & Paice) for a show in 2001, but on the basis of this his debut solo record you can see why he was chosen, his vocals are the perfect fit for our David rich, deep and soulful just like the leather lunged screamer himself with a touch of Paul Rodgers creeping in at times. As I've said Stranger In A Strange Land is his debut and it sticks with the traditional sound that Berggren has been a part of for most of his career, this is bluesy classic hard rock that sits comfortably with the first few early 70's 'Snake albums.

Sands Of Time starts the record and sees Stefan shift into Bad Company territory with layered acoustics and slow pace, its a track that eases you in, before the strut of Coming Home gets your hips shaking with it's heavy soul. On the album Berggren has reached into his address book for old friend such as Bernie Marsden, Neil Murray (both Whitesnake), Marcus Jidell (Avatarium - Guitar) and Joakim Svalberg (Opeth - Keys) they put their seal on the tracks they feature on. The record taps a blues vein as I've said none more so on Keef's Song which is a tribute to The Rolling Stones seemingly invincible and irrepressibly cool guitarist, while the title track has more in common with Deep Purple or Uriah Heep due to the great use of  Moog. This record may go under the radar a bit which is a shame as it's got class and flair if you hanker for some slithering blues rock. 7/10

Trees Of Eternity: Hour Of The Nightingale (Svart Records)

Doom metal at its core is a depressing genre, slow, chugging guitar playing, haunting vocals and a very dark atmosphere all round. However Hour Of Nightingale may just take the cake, the music is desolate, down tempo and bleak, exactly what you would expect from a band formed by Juha Raivio of Shadow Of The Sun along with members and ex-members of Katatonia, October Tide and Wintersun. What makes it particularly harrowing are the ghostly vocals of Aleah Stanbridge she soars above the gloomy ambient melancholy with a baleful fragility on A Million Tears and Condemned To Silence (where she is complimented by low male vocals).

This isn't the heaviest of doom records taking more from the ambient soundscapes but this enhances the glum but emotive nature of the record. This album has had a long gestation period, finally though it has seen the light of day in albeit in very regretful circumstances as vocalist Aleah passed away earlier this year from cancer, so in part this record serves as her epitaph and it couldn't be more beautiful, the title track being particularly mournful and sobering affair. Hour Of The Nightingale is a heartbreaking record but it is wonderful to listen to really displaying the talent of all those involved, it also serves as a lasting testament to singers sadly now lost talent. 9/10

Duskwood: Desert Queen (Self Released)

Heavy stoner rock from Somerset, think Clutch or Wolfmother but with more cider apples. Desert Queen kicks like a mule, Obelisk the song that opens this album is a pounding rocker with fuzzy guitars and great hollered vocals from Liam Tinsley. Titan is a grooving bass driven number that builds in its final part. Duskwood are a very competent band and play with a swagger rare in a band that were only formed in 2011. With heavy riffs galore from Greg and Laurence while Aaron and Jack are the flaring boiler room for tracks such as Hurricane. It's not big or clever but it is slightly psychedelic stoner rock album that brings the riffs in big order. 7/10

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