Life Of Agony: A Place Where There Is No More Pain (Napalm)
New York groove masters Life Of Agony return with their sixth studio album and their first since 2005. The original line up of Joey Z (guitar), Alan Robert (bass), vocalist Mina Caputo (previously known Keith) return along with drummer Sal Abruscato for ten songs of riff driven groove metal that hasn't really changed since the band first brought their crushing misery to the scene in the early 90's. Track like Dead Speak Kindly, A New Low, Right This Wrong and the opener Meet My Maker all carry the bands normal traits of low tuned riffs and Mina's lyrics come from a very personal deeply considered place, reflecting the struggles that she as a transgender person faced and the similar struggles that fans have told the band they have gone through.
This album in Mina's own words "gives us hope that there's light at the end of the tunnel". Mina's voice has matured since the River Runs Red days and every lyric is delivered with conviction while the band play at the top of their game. As I've said very little has changed musically for the band and for long time fans this will be perfect, yes it may be a little bit of a dated sound now but it's good to have a band like LOA back doing what they do best. 7/10
Harlott: Extinction (Metal Blade)
Australia seems to be becoming a hotbed of thrash metal at the moment, it must be the intrinsic link between the genre and heavy drinking. Harlott can really be called one of the finest examples of thrash from down under, three albums into their career and numerous supports, most notably with Annihilator on their recent European tour and the band are playing some of the best music of their career honed by the hundreds of live shows and real understanding of the Bay Area thrash sound. Extinction is the sort of album Exodus, Testament or Slayer would have written at the height of their powers mixing blitzkrieg thrash fury with more nuanced slower elements to ramp up the atmosphere before the fireworks start again.
Frontman Andrew Hudson has the raspy ideal thrash voice thats sits between Zetro and Araya with the band behind him kicking the living shit out of their instruments in the best way possible, the furious double hit of the title track and First World Solutions open the record with Slayer-like aggression last heard on Evile's first couple of albums. The twin dual leads of Hudson and Jake Weber shred your face off, on Whore Tim Joyce displays that he's probably superhuman as he demolishes his kit like a whirling dervish and Tom Richards reminds you that thrash needs bass no matter what Metallica think. Extinction proves to be a superior third strike by the Melbourne band, it's their most accomplished album yet, this is proper thrash metal how it should be done and in a year of excellent trash albums Harlott have tossed their hat into the ring with a blinder. 9/10
The Franklys: Are You Listening? (Hälta Hälta Records)
Are You Listening? That's what London -based four-piece The Franklys want to know on their full length debut record. They have made it easy though as this record contains 10 tracks of spiky rock n roll delivered with a rebellious take no prisoners attitude. The album rapidly jumps between, pop, garage, punk, and indie rock with touches of funk and classic hard rock thrown in to shake up the noise, it's been built on a solid base of touring where The Franklys thrive their energetic live show receiving rave reviews all around.
The task of trying to distill this live fire onto record is given to Sean Douglas, Jimmy O and Mikey Sorbello of The Graveltones who co-produce the albums with the band themselves, it's a successful snapshot of the four women's live riot, the 10 tracks on this record are built to be played live, they cry out for a sweaty, packed venue where the punters can just go wild. The band is made up of Jennifer Ahlkvist (rhythm guitar/vocals), Fanny Broberg (lead guitar /backing vocals), Zoë Biggs (bass) and Lexi Clark (drums) and they all play their instruments with an unreserved passion blasting out shuddering The Hives-like rockers such as Castaway, Weasel and Don't Kill Your Friends (good advice kids). Are You Listening? If you want to hear the future driven by the past then you should be! 7/10