Troubled Horse: Revolution On Repeat (Rise Above Records)
Here's a band that have risen from the figurative ashes, Troubled Horse's debut album in 2012 saw them arrive, raise retro hell and then leave to little or no bluster. After a period of quietness the noise has come once again and it's full of the typical Swedish riff-worship you'd expect from bands such as Graveyard. The Filthy Ones is a furious twisting hard rocker, Which Way To The Mob is a more psychedelic influenced and features some sweet howling guitar solos and frantic drumming.
The five years between album one and album two has not been wasted on Revolution On Repeat the songs zing with a knowing look to the past but modern production, they straddle psych, rock and metal with trippy sections on The Haunted which also displays excellent wide eyed vocals and a massive slab of doom on the Sabbathy Track 7. Troubled Horse's second album is more nuanced than the first, it takes a few listens to really hear everything and sees the band spreading their wings a bit lets hope this second record brings a UK leg of the tour. 7/10
Emerald: Reckoning Day (Pure Steel Records)
Emerald were not a name I'd heard of when I picked up this record, after a bit of research, I found that they are Swiss power metal band and have been doing the rounds since 1995, their debut was released in 1999 and they have released 6 albums. They also suffer from a curse that affects a lot of power metal bands, this is that they seem to have had numerous members throughout their history, the most notable being Thomas Winkler who is now more famously the vocalist of Gloryhammer.
The two consistent members throughout have been brothers Michael and Thomas Vaucher who are the founders of the band and take the roles of guitarist and keyboardist within the band. This album illuminates the personnel problems with former vocalist George Call taking the mic for three songs with the rest sung by new vocalist Mace Mitchell, the rest of the band has changed since their last album (in 2012) with only the Vaucher brothers and drummer Alex Spicher remaining.
Taking up the other guitar role is Julien Menth and on bass is Vania Truttmann and they slot into Emerald's "Pure Fucking Heavy Metal" assault perfectly adding the to the furious rhythms and twin axe attack you'd expect. With a long time to write this album, there was clearly no lack of inspiration as it's 15 songs long. The first seven have no thematic link other than the usual power metal trademarks but the final part of the album is part of a suite that deals with The Burgundian Wars (1474-1477) a conflict between the Dukes Of Burgundy and The Old Swiss Confederacy. The vocals are nearly indistinguishable both sky scraping and the songs are at the heavier end of the traditional metal spectrum, Reckoning Day sees Emerald return with a vengeance, it may be a bit too long for some but it has lots more killer than filler. 7/10
Nightmen: Can't Avoid Success (Lövely Records)
I reviewed the first Nightmen record Fifteen Minutes Of Pain very favourably, I really enjoyed their spunky, garage rock n roll, dual vocals and catchy shout along choruses. It was a record that stunk of cheap leather and channeled Cheap Trick and The Ramones with powerful pop melodies merging with four-chord riffs. Well Nightmen are back with their second full length album and it sounds as if they have mellowed and matured a bit, Can't Avoid Success was recorded in a farmhouse and the pastoral surroundings have obviously rubbed off on the band as this time under the leather jackets are Hawaiian shirts.
This record is much more pop-centric with the Surf-Guitar of Link Wray or the Ventures a major influence throughout, this time the album is more The Ramones jamming to Beach Boys records as the sounds of the 60's California are writ large on Can't Avoid Success. The spikiness is still here but it's been softened a bit by the breezy pop melodies, whether this is for the better or worse is your own opinion but I'd like to hear just a bit more snarl on this second record still these Swedes have captured the essence of the era well. 7/10
Death Blooms: S/T (Self Released)
Having toured with Skindred, DOPE, Raging Speedhorn, Anti-Clone Death Blooms have been tearing up the UK live scene for a while now so here's an EP for everyone to see what the fuss is about Hate:Die opens the record with brutal riffs, hardcore scarred vocals and big breakdowns. Death Blooms are band for fans of While She Sleeps and Beartooth, it's modern alternative metal with lots of sounds from the 'core' scene that has sprung up since the beginning of this decade, this is evident on the fat riffs of Last Ones which has the duality of the guttural roars, a melodic clean chorus and a lot of chugging, while I'm Dead is a Slipknot-like call to arms. Death Blooms are a defiantly modern band, an angry, dark EP that features four slabs of melodic extremity that may get them a lot more recognition. 6/10