Dragonforce: Reaching Into Infinity (earMusic)
In the review for their previous album I said that Dragonforce MkII were going from strength to strength with Marc Hudson on vocals, the songs were faster, the solos madder and the vocals more intense than ever. Since then the band have released a career retrospective and clearly they have reverted back to type as their latest album seventh in total opens with the Ashes Of The Dawn which has the familiar blitzkrieg guitar riffs, thunderous million miles per hour drumming from Gee Anzalone, the twitchy electronics and speedy keyboard runs of Vadim, it's old school Dragonforce but distilled into their more recent trend of shorter songs.
I will admit having been following the band since the Dragonheart days this first song brought an instant smile to my face, it's an incredibly simple trick but 'play guitar fast' is one Dragonforce have always done better than anyone else. They also shake things up as the album progresses, they add the video game 8-bit chip-set to Judgement Day and Curse Of Darkness is an organ-driven horror themed track that stretches the band creatively and gives Marc a chance to show off those pipes. In what is a recurring theme Silence is a big power ballad slowing the album in the middle before they explode into the euphoric Midnight Madness and they once again switch styles to stomping thrash on War! which could be mistaken for Municipal Waste et al if it wasn't for the high vocals in the chorus. The records finest moment is The Edge Of The World a Maiden-like epic that sits as the albums longest track and even brings in harsh black metal vocals.
As usual the solos, lead breaks and riffs of Herman Li and Sam Totman are set to warp speed but it's the duels that have always been the material for air guitarists to emulate and there are tonnes of them here with every song having the classic Dragonforce solo section. Even Fredric Leclercq gets in on the act with a bass solo on Astral Empire. Reaching To Infinity is a Dragonforce album and it sounds like how you'd expect it to sound, for fans it's a sparkling return to former glories with one foot firmly in the present. Feel the force and get widdling ladies and gents! 9/10
Danzig: Black Laden Crown (AFM Records)
He's back, 7 years since his last solo record Deth Red Sabbaoth the man they call Danzig (or Glenn to his mum) returns with his first album since hell froze over and the original Misfits line up reformed at Riot Fest last year, on the back of this Danzig has confirmed his own festival called Blackest Of The Black that also features Ministry, Suicidal Tendencies, DevilDriver and CoC. So with his stock so high it's about the right time to release a new album and as a heavy metal fan that's a good thing as Danzig's solo output has always been nearer the heavy doom and classic metal circles than the punkier Misfits music.
The first thing I'll get out of the way is that the cover art is awful looking like something from a D.I.Y Mercyful Fate style band the large breasted woman has been done over and over again. Danzig has had H.R. Giger create cover art for him in the past so this is a let down but hey never judge a book so onto the decks of death it went. Both the title track and Eyes Ripping Fire are slow moving doom rockers with Danzig bellowing over the top but his vocal does seem a little weaker than it used to be, this might be because of the production which is poor at best. I was expecting so much from this record but it's not what I expected at all the music is ok moving between Sabbath doom and Doors psych (Last Ride) but this is record for die hards only. Sorry Glenn I've got something to say, I think you've lost it today. 6/10
Mark Slaughter: Halfway There (EMP Label)
Mark Slaughter is probably best known as the singer of American glam rock band Slaughter their biggest hit was probably the 1990 single Up All Night. Halfway There is his second solo album and it takes from his old school rock sensibility with modern techniques. Hey You opens the record with the glam rock stylings he is known for it's an upbeat number that opens the album, he adds more 90's sounds on Devoted and Conspiracy which lends a nod to Alice In Chains due to Slaughter's reverbed vocals on both tracks, the heaviest song on the record is the lumbering Reckless and Disposable has a hint of Beatles-psych to it.
As he's an offshoot of the glam rock scene in the US you'd expect there to be a ballads and the title track is a rock ballad up in the best, whereas Forevermore is slower and built for waving lighters. A good hard rocking album from this veteran of the radio rock era, Halfway There might be the album title but he's been there and done that which shows on this album. 7/10