Aaron Keylock: Cut Against The Grain (Provogue Records)
Aaron Keylock is probably a name you will have seen if you've seen any hard/blues/southern rock band doing the rounds over the past few years, this young bluesman has opened up for some of the biggest in the business like Blackberry Smoke, Joanne Shaw Taylor to name just two. Heavily touted as the next big thing (much like a certain Oli Brown before him) this 18 year old Oxford native has been treading the boards since he was much younger building up the confidence and talent that shines through this record from the very first note.
Cut Against The Grain is his debut record and features many of the songs those who have seen his live show will recognise such as Spin The Bottle and it's chock full influences with Just One Question channeling the smooth blues playing of Gary Moore, All The Right Moves has the swaggering rock of The Black Crowes, Down is a slide driven Southern rocker from the Cadillac Three songbook replete with Keylock adopting a drawl that makes Keylock sound like a young Jagger.
The record was produced by Fabrizio Grossi who is the cornerstone of the excellent Supersonic Blues Machine and a producer/collaborator with Alice Cooper, Dave Navarro, Slash, Ice-T and Zakk Wylde he gives it the warm, analogue sound that still sounds modern and fresh. Keylock is an incredible guitarist his playing is fluid and expressive and it makes these songs really stand out, but his songwriting too deserves kudos writing like a performer three times his age he's an old soul with young bones, mature, expertly delivered and everything you could want from a blues rock record Cut Against The Grain stands as a defiant, confident challenge to the blues rock royalty. 8/10
Terrifier: Weapons Of Thrash Destruction (Test Your Metal)
Canadian thrashers Terrifier (terrible name) have this thrash til' death stuff down to a fine art, this excellently titled record is their second record and my is it good, ferocious thrash riffs come thick and fast dropping in and out like kamikaze pilots while the amphetamine fuelled rhythm section pounds away at a frighteningly fast pace. Terrifier have had 6 years to hone this record an it shows in that time they have found all the VHS' they can of early Exodus, Slayer and Metallica (Kill 'Em All Era) and have faithfully tried to bring that sense of fun and urgency to this record.
The lyrics are goofy and based on the go to themes of pop culture (more accurately 80's pop culture) with two songs dedicated to Arnie's video library with Scitzoid Embolism drawn from Total Recall and even having a clip of the man himself at the beginning while Sect Of The Serpent is a homage to Conan The Barbarian, its' not all Austrian strongmen though elsewhere there is the ode to partying Drunk As Fuck which has an Anthrax stomp and killer gang vocal chorus aiding the proper gruff thrash vocals of frontman Chase.
The remaining tracks all do their best to rekindle the glory days of thrash with dual channel guitars and battering drum patterns. Weapons Of Thrash Destruction (equally terrible) is not a perfect record, it does all sort of blend in to one halfway through but thrash metal isn't the most innovative genre, however Terrifier have created near enough an hour of pure thrash fury and my does it get the blood pumping. 7/10
Courtesans: Better Safe Than Sober (Self Released)
Courtesans have buzz around them, it's a dark halogen buzz that you often see in the alleyways of their native London. The music they play is categorised as 'Doom/Dark Pop' their musical palate accommodates fuzzy grunge, unsettling pop, industrial sparseness and gloomy trip-hop to make this five track EP and the four women that created stand out from an ever expanding music scene.
The EP comes nearly three years after their debut but still taps a rich vein of sugar-coated misery, with the band taking a no-compromise approach to songwriting driven by liberating, feminist ideals the band hope to "not only encourage women in music but for more men to accept that it is OK to look up to female artists".
The five tracks on this record manifest themselves in various guises Mesmerise is a swirling doom rocker, Feel The Same has some lyrical rhymes that can be usually heard in London hip-hop scene displaying the vocal dexterity of frontwoman Sinead. Backing her is cacophonous rhythm section of Agnes and Vikki with Saffire providing the wailing riffs, their sound is unique sort of Hole jamming with Steven Wilson on NIN songs, it something fresh and this EP is a prime slice of darkened goodness in preparation of their next full length. 8/10