Bath based band Ulysses can rightfully claim to be the UK kings of Glam/Psych/Rock on the back of this their third full length record. It's one that I have criminally overlooked until now as it was released earlier in the year and I missed reviewing it so consider the balance redressed. My am I glad I revisited this record as it contains some of the most upbeat, dirty glam rocking since Roy Wood and Wizzard (very festive). Much like Purson, who's singer Rosalie Cunningham contributes vocals to this record, Ulysses make full use of the kaleidoscopic musical backing of the 60's and early 70's with stomping glam on the title track and Smiling a liberal sprinkling of The Beatles pop-psychedelia and the big wailing guitar riffs of Hendrix cutting through the cheeky lyrical flights of fancy such as Dirty Weekend and the proto-Quo of Mary Jane. Think Super Furry's with sparkling guitar solos and you'd be in the right stacked heeled, facial fuzz toting field.
The influences are worn on the collective sleeves with The Cars, Syd Barrett, Thin Lizzy and even Sailor creeping in. The record is deftly produced by Steve Evans (Robert Plant / Siouxsie / Goldfrapp) at the legendary Monnow Valley Studios and as such has an organic analogue quality to it which lends itself to the retro vibe of the bands ethos. The four piece are Luke Smyth on vocals and guitar, Julyan Wells-Cathedral on bass, Denny Peppers on guitar (lead) and finally Shane Maxymus on drums, with all of the these three contributing backing vocals for those gorgeous harmonies that Brian Wilson would lust after. The third record by Ulysses is their strongest to date encapsulating a sound from one of the most creative times in music, poppy, rocky and a little bit naughty get on your leather gloves and give in to Law And Order. 8/10
Lux Divina: Walk Within The Riddle (Einheit Produktionen)
Catalonian pagan black metal is not something you hear very often but Barcelona four piece Lux Divina have been the major exponent of this since 1998. Walk Within The Riddle is their third full length record and it takes traditional folk and Latin elements (The Oceans Are Bewitched) putting them with the black metal overtones of Ireland's Primordial or are own Winterfylleth. The guitars of Gangreal and Javi Bastard switch between frantic heaviness and more progressive touches on Waters Of Tomorrow - Woods Of Yesterday where things slow down as Iberian's bass adds groove.
It's musically very good with the slower sections punctuated by the blitzkrieg speed on Macchiajolo as Norax's vocals switch between demonic screams and booming clean vocals. Walk Within The Riddle is a powerful statement from the Spanish band, with the holiday season upon us I can't think of anything better than hailing Satan with this slab of pagan metal. 7/10
Saboter: Mankind Is Damned (Witches Brew)
Athens based Saboter have only been doing the rounds since 2014 but they have managed to release an EP and now a full length album, when I say full length I mean in the traditional sense of 8 songs and just over 45 minutes, much like the Maiden and Priest albums of the past. Saboter are a band that draw heavily from these acts with furious speed metal and NWOBHM trappings and songs dealing with political issues and war wrapped in a cover that features a robot wizard in a future world.
I said that the band have only been around since 2014 but that's not to say they are rookies three (both guitarists and the vocalist) come from a 90's thrash band called Overcast, the bassist has spent time in thrash/black metal acts and the drummer seems to have been in every underground band in the Greek metal scene.
Like a lot of 'traditional' metal acts the members have all spent time in the black/death/thrash metal circles before coming together, it means that some of the fury from these extreme acts comes through especially in the drumming but the songs have bigger hooks and lots of melodic guitar playing. Mankind Is Damned is a punchy debut album for this group of experienced musicians with fire of Priest and the slightly progressive sounds of Sanctuary, a superior addition to the traditional metal pack. 7/10