Helker: Firesoul (AFM)
Helker are probably one of Argentina's top metal acts, although kudos if you can name another without Google. Firesoul is their fifth full length album and it's been released on AFM records meaning that it will open the band up to bigger audiences on this side of the world. They are a band that do need to be heard by a wider section of the metal world, mainly due to the similarities in style and sound to the Dio's solo outings. It's ironic that I listened to this record on the anniversary of the great man's death and if you close your eyes and listen hard Diego Valdez could be RJD in another body, his raspy but soul driven vocals are perfectly suited to the fist pumping heavy metal witnessed on the melodic Stay Away, the stomping Where You Belong and the organ friendly The One all of which are so reminiscent of the Holy Diver/Sacred Heart era.
The record was produced by the uber-talented Mat Sinner and the thick production technique means the guitars of Mariano and Leo can bring tough riffs on Break Your Chains while the thunderous rhythm section of Christian and Hernan batter you on the title track. This record gets very heavy towards it's latter part and at 14 tracks that means that the final third of the record holds your attention as grinding Rise Or Fall adds the Black Sabbath tones to the Dio-worship before the transformation is complete with their spot on cover of Neon Knights. At 14 tracks it takes lot of patience but it is rewarded with classic heavy metal riffs and a instantly identifiable vocal style, pick up this album if you're sick of the two bands trading on Dio's legacy, Helker are doing no such thing and they are more authentic than any of the 'tributes'. As an extra buy the special edition that comes with the album recorded in Spanish which makes is equally as good. 8/10
Junkyard: High Water (Acertate Music)
Junkyard fromed in Los Angeles in 1987, the band featured former members of Minor Threat, The Big Boys, Decry and Dag Nasty and their punk fuelled rock n roll was enough to get them signed to Geffen Records at the same time as Guns N Roses drawing comparisons between the two back in the day. High Water is their first length album in 26 years and it opens with the snarling punk of Walk Away a short sharp shock of attitude that's followed by Faded which is Bon Scott AC/DC when they had a bit of danger about them. This musical trend continues throughout the record with a mix of bar room rock n roll, aggressive punk and a sleazy Los Angeles sound that has only really been replicated outside of the USA by The Quireboys, The Wildhearts and Danko Jones. Styrofoam Cup sees the band trying their hand at Country and they do it well especially on Till The Wheels Fall Off which was written by Blackberry Smoke's Charlie Starr.
David Roach's vocals are battle scarred he wails and sneers on tracks such as the swaggering Hellbound. In fact his vocals maybe the deal breaker for some as it is a very punk sounding voice. Underneath him guitarists Tim Mosher and Jimmy James are backed by Pat Muzingo (drums) and Todd Muscat (bass). Like I said this record has quite myriad of influences to it but with a country swagger, a punk rock grunt and a heaving load of rock n roll High Water is a strong return to the breech by these Sunset Strip survivors. 7/10
Morass Of Molasses: These Paths We Tread (HeviSike Records)
Lumbering into view like a Godzilla stomping through tar Morass Of Molasses are the audio equivalent of their namesake it's sludgy, angry and discordant and from the beginning of My Leviathan the band set out their stall with creeping riff, barked vocals and a woozy psychedelia, this is washed away with the thick stoner grooves of So They Work. This UK three piece marry sledgehammer heaviness with slow moving doom on Serpentine which slithers along like a cold blooded reptile and they bring bluesy elements to Centralia. With a melting pot of drug induced sounds Morass Of Molasses have foreboding sound that whispers one minute and shouts the next. Having seen the band live this power is translated to the record, if you love your metal with a hefty dose of ear splitting volume then Morass Of Molasses will be your new sweetness. 7/10