Blackfield: Blackfield V (Kscope)
Blackfield V is the fifth collaboration between Steven Wilson and Aviv Geffen and it sees them returning with yet another Blackfield record even though Wilson did say he intended to leave the project as his solo career increased in stature. Wilson's solo career had meant that Welcome To My DNA and Blackfield IV were primarily written by Geffen over Wilson, however once again the collaborations are shared equally like they was on their first two records. Over the course of 18 months they created this record with famed producer Alan Parsons in England and Geffen's native Israel with Wilson and Geffen interchanging between vocals, guitars and keys while Tomer Z re-takes his seat at the drum kit.
The songs of the high quality you would expect from the pair, taking a more alternative influenced approach that has been key to the Blackfield since the outset, much of this is due to Geffen's background in the pop/glam and alternative rock field, his vocals are part of the bands charm blending with Wilson seamlessly on Lonely Soul which also has some beautiful female vocals to while his solo voice adds emotion to We'll Never Be Apart.
The record is a concept piece with all of the tracks loosely themed around the ocean and the life cycle so it means lots of emotive pieces that have rapidly become part of the Blackfield trademark, especially when the musical arrangements are augmented by the London Sessions Orchestra who provide the delicate string sections on tracks such as How Was Your Ride? I always welcome a Blackfield album as it is a chance for Wilson and Geffen to stretch their remit outside of their already expansive musical influence. With gorgeous arrangements throughout, produced by legend of the craft it's another sublime album from this duo. 8/10
Boneyard Dog: Bluesbound Train (AOR Heaven)
Imagine the titular dog, a dog in a boneyard, nothing else just a yard full of bones, imagine how happy he is. Now what this has to do with blues rock is anyone's guess but sometimes these are the images that come to mind when looking at a bands name unless of course you're Unforeseen Prophecy because any images of prophecy would be unseen naturally.
Still I digress Boneyard Dog are a new name but as far as membership it's old dogs new tricks with the the main duo of the band being German/Italian singer Rob Mancini (Hotwire/Crush) and Irish blues guitarist Davy Kerrigan, they are the backbone of the band and take the bulk of the songwriting, helping them out on the percussion is Ron Wisko who has played with Cher, Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi), Foreigner, David Lee Roth (Van Halen), The Storm, Gregg Rolie (Santana/Journey) amongst others, rounding out the group is keyboardist Tony Carey who is probably most well known as the man supplying the keys to Rainbow's seminal Rising record.
The record is full of bluesy hard rock music on which Kerrigan gets to channel the blues rock heroes, Rory, Stevie and The Reverend Willy G with Carey's classy organs and keys providing the foil as guest bassists Marc Lynn (Gotthard) and Neil Murray (Ex-Whitesnake) work well with Wisko's tub thumping. Atop the powerful blues rocking are the rough, smoky vocals of Mancini who has the atypical blues singer delivery and suits the style down to the ground especially on Mother Lode and Lay Down The Law, they play heavy when they can, funk things up on Paid My Dues and get a little dirty on Fire Down Below it's a blues rock album that smacks of quality with everyone involved at the apex of their power.
In the positives too is the info that the band have created the Boneyard Foundation, it benefits victims of motorcycle accidents or their immediate families. A very philanthropic gesture especially when all the proceeds from the track Lonely Road goes towards the foundation, with the track itself featuring Gotthard's Marc Lynn who's singer Steve Lee tragically died in a motorcycle accident in 2010. A great album and from what seems to be a very charitable bunch of fellows, Boneyard Dog are ruff (sorry) an ready to rock. 8/10
Psycho Kiss: Grit (Self Released)
Neath/Swansea band Psycho Kiss are local favourites on the South Wales music scene, Grit is their third record and it maintains their mix of heavyweight riffage and infectious hooks. The five piece are fronted by Helen Ceri Clarke who has very tough vocals matching the riff heavy backing that has nods to Alter Bridge and Halestorm especially on the thumping Scream Queens. The band use a lot of dark horror themes in their music with odes to sociopaths on the twisted Sociopathic Superstar the antichrist on Devil Inside and the intro to the record is happily titled The Ballad Of Pennywise (the killer clown from Stephen King's IT).
The musical backing is muscular Pete (rhythm), Tom (bass) and the brilliantly named Penfold (drums) taking the rhythm section by the collar and shaking it around a bit as Paul plays the searing Tremonti like leads. Psycho Kiss are an outfit that sound very professional, years of touring and three albums in they have managed to channel their energetic live show into the record, they rock hard put power into songs like Even Better If aren't afraid to take risks on The Haunting and I Grieve which are both slower injecting more drama, they also put a bit of southern flavour into Down which has the always appreciated cowbell. A really classy, modern rock record from these folks from West Wales. 8/10