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Friday, 24 March 2017

Reviews: Steve Hackett, One Desire, Hydrogyn

Steve Hackett: The Night Siren (InsideOut)

After 2015's amazing Wolflight legendary guitarist Steve Hackett returns with his twenty-fifth (!) solo album, according to Hackett this record is "a bird's eye view of the world of a musical migrant ignoring borders and celebrating our common ancestry with a unity of spirit." The record was driven once again by the collaborative team of Hackett his wife Jo and co-producer keyboardist extraordinaire Roger King, the music was recorded direct to computers meaning that it is record that retains it's heaviness but is not intrusive.

The world-music influences are abundant throughout with Hackett not only giving his usual stunning guitar and vocal performance but also adding a sitar from India, a tar from the Middle East (played by Malik Mansurov), the charango from Peru fleshes out this record. The Night Siren features musicians from Iceland, Azerbaijan, Israel and Palestine, with vocals coming from Orphaned Land's Kobi Fahri, Arab Israeli singer Mīrā ‘Awaḍ, Hackett's touring singer Nad Sylvan, drums from Nick D'Virgillio (ex-Spock's Beard), uilleann pipes from Nightwish's Troy Donockley.

Martian Stream is Middle Eastern flavoured instrumental that leads into the spacey Fifty Miles From The North Pole which has some excellent classical strings that also drive the ominous percussive El Nino which has some great guitar playing from Hackett. Other Side Of The Wall is beautiful acoustic song with a political heart, one that beats heavily too on West To East, the whole record is reminder that music is the great unifier. The Night Siren is yet another excellent progressive rock album from the man that was the distinctive sound of Genesis for so many years. 8/10

One Desire: One Desire (Frontiers Records)

Hurt the song that sets this album off immediately gives you everything you need to know about One Desire, the huge keys, bouncy rhythm and emotive vocals firmly sit One Desire in the AOR category. However as Apologise brings a thumping Shinedown sound it's clear this is 21st Century AOR, the production is like cut glass, the songs sit between pop and rock, there is no room for distortion or jam sessions every part is measured for maximum impact.

Love Injection has the current trend of bringing in electronic touches, Turn Back Time is a fist clenching rocker and its followed up by the synth heavy ballad Falling Apart which could have been number 1 in 1985, while Where The Heartbreak Begins is a showstopper Bryan Adams would have trouble knocking off the number one spot. One Desire are a Finnish band who share similarities with fellow Finns Brother Firetribe and Reckless Love, the vocal hooks are huge, the songs bombastic and the whole package of this debut record is equally modern and retro. One Desire sees AOR being brought bang up to date while still clinging to its roots. 8/10

Hydrogyn: Redemption (HighVolMusic)

I've defended Hydrogyn for years, their mostly generic metallic hard rock was saved by vocalist Julie, who had a superb voice. A band that seemed to lose their way a few times during their career they have become another piece of evidence in why you should never work with your spouse as Julie left the band in 2016 after splitting with guitarist husband Jeff. The band however carried on recruiting Erica Parrott behind the mic and announced this record was going to be heavier than any of it's predecessors, well yes it is heavier, it's also terrible. Very little melody, overly crunchy guitars so they sound like white noise, the tracks seem roughly cut together and Erica unfortunately isn't sure what to do vocally, in parts she cackles as she tries to growl and then she tries to croon like Julie poorly, it's all a bit of a wreck really. No amount of divine intervention could give Hydrogyn Redemption, avoid if possible. 3/10

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