Nightmare: Dead Sun (AFM)
The origins of Nightmare can be traced all the way back to Grenoble, France way back in 1979. The band were active in the NWOBHM scene until 1987 when they disbanded. Reforming in 1999 with drummer Jo Amore taking on vocal duties, the band has moved from classic rock, through death metal to their current thrash tinged power metal. The current line-up includes original member Yves Campion on bass and backing vocals and the impressive pipes of Maggy Luyten. Dead Sun is their 10th full release, eight of which have come since 2001. It is the follow up to 2014’s The Aftermath.
Within these parts female fronted bands are always measured against South Wales’ own Triaxis, whose front woman Krissie Kirby possesses one of the best voices in metal today. What Nightmare have over Triaxis is a more composed sound, with standout tracks Inner Sanctum, Ikarus (sic), Starry Skies Gone Black and opener Infected all impressive in their strength and sheer power. Luyten’s voice contains a gritty husky edge which adds to each song, with the battering of Olivier Casulan’s drumming combining with Campion to lay down a hugely infectious foundation which is topped off by some viciously dangerous guitar work from Frank Milleliri and Matt Asselberghs. Dead Sun is a listenable slab of hard metal, simple yet intricate at times but full of pace and potency that obviously comes with the experience that Nightmare holds. 7/10
Bad Touch: Truth Be Told (Bad Touch Records)
Just over a year ago, Norfolk’s Bad Touch opened for Snakecharmer at The Globe. Their high-energy show won over the crowd and ensured that their debut release Half Way Home was snapped up. It was a gutsy debut, oozing the swagger of the Black Crowes and infused with a Zeppelin like feel which is often evident in this type of band. A year later and their sophomore release Truth Be Told is a bit of a damp squib. It’s routine stuff with little to catch the imagination. Stevie Westwood’s vocals remain the best thing about this band, and whilst the groove and swagger dips in and out, for example on opener One More Night, it isn’t maintained in the manner which bands such as The Answer and The Temperance Movement can do with ease. It’s easy to listen to and competently played but just a wee bit dull. 6/10
Sister: Stand Up, Forward March (Metal Blade)
Don’t get confused with the 1970s outfit that spawned one Blackie Lawless, this is Stockholm’s Sister. Formed in 2006, Stand Up, Forward March is the third release from the band who were signed to Metal Blade in 2010 by Primordial’s Alan “Nemthenga” Averill. It’s full of aggressive fast powered punk-driven metal, lots of anthems and sleazy riffs and some impressive hooks. A bit like Motley Crüe without the bloat mixed with the edge of early Guns ‘N’ Roses.
Jamie Anderson’s dirty vocals fit perfectly whilst the guitar of Tim Tweak chugs away alongside the filthy bass of Martin Sweet and drummer Cari Crow. Lost In Line, Carved In Stone and Dead Man's Dirt are all disgustingly infectious, and whilst the glam punk rock sound isn’t my bag this lot could raise the dead with their infectious approach. Album closer Piece Of Shame is dreadful, old school Hanoi Rocks without the class but overall this is a decent album which won’t have you thinking hard but may get you close to a speeding ticket. Drive with caution. 7/10
Vanderberg: Devil May Care (Self Released)
Guitarist Marc Vanderberg is another German virtuoso influenced by the likes of Yngwie Malmsteen, Kee Marcello and John Norum; all whose styles can be heard on this very competent melodic hard rock release. Not to be confused by the Dutch master Adrian Vandenberg (different spelling folks) and his Moonkings, this release has some spectacular guitar work but suffers from a lack of variation in compositions and too many vocalists. Goran Edmann (ex-Malmsteen) and Tave Wanning (Adrenaline Rush) add some solid performances but it’s Columbian Paulo Cuevas who steals the show with the best Joey Tempest impression I’ve heard for years on Key To Your Heart and balls out rocker Corrosion Of Society which is by far the best track on the album, full of power and pace.
Spirit Of The Dragon features Boban Vasileski and if you like your rock heavy but full of melody you’ll dig this immensely. Basically, Devil May Care takes you back to the mid-1980s when Swedish rock was taking a foothold in the world. There are some dull tracks on here, such as the weak Pray and closer Smoking Kills which is just garbage. However, if you can cope with these this is a decent album, especially if you want to live in 1986 again. 7/10