Orden Ogan: Gunmen (AFM)
I've had a soft spot for Orden Organ since their third record To The End the German band successful marry heavy power metal with a cinematic feel but in an unfussy way, they are not as over the top as bands such as Rhapsody but have the same pomp. The band is the brainchild of frontman Seeb Levermann who is the bands' vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist/producer and writer he pretty much is the sound of Orden Ogan and his creates excellent power metal soundscapes, with the thunderous riffage, elegant keyboards, large backing choirs and his own deep powerful vocals tracks such as the dramatic Vampire In A Ghost Town, the Teutonic-metal of the title track and the epic final track Finis Coronat Opus which is just that an opus of operatic proportions.
Aiding Seeb are the band that have been with him since To The End guitarist Tobi, bassist Niels and drummer Dirk and they all are top flight musicians giving a really tight performance throughout as the songs twist and change numerous times during their relatively short run times, the amount of melody to metal is measured almost perfectly and on ballads seem muscular rather than airy Come With Me To The Other Side is the ideal example of this it's a great folk-influenced song that features Seeb duetting with Liv Kristine for maximum drama. Gunmen continues Orden Ogan's purple patch classy, heavy power metal with the occasional lighter moment added for a more rounded experience. 8/10
Blackwater Conspiracy: Shootin' The Breeze (Bulletproof 20/20)
Do you remember Million Dollar Reload? They released two albums and a live record between 2010 and 2013, highly touted as 'the next big thing' by the rock press their sleazy rock n roll was part AC/DC, part Guns N Roses. The comparisons were drawn mainly due to Phil Conalane's whiskey soaked Bon Scott-like vocals, the album's were very good and the band more than lived up to their press tag, however in 2015 the sleaze influences sank away and the music they were creating was much more laid back and blues-influenced.
Phil continued with vocals and strapped on a guitar and along with M$R bassist and co-founder Kie McMurray they added to their ranks the lead guitar wizardry of Brian Fallon, the tub thumping of Fionn O’Hagain and the keys of Kevin Brennan before deciding that a new name was needed and so Voilà Blackwater Conspiracy came about. This is their debut album and the years of service to rock n roll is written all over it, the songs bristle with energy that is captured by fellow countrymen The Answer.
The Gaelic spirit is writ large all over this record, as well as The Answer comparisons can be drawn to The Temperance Movement, The Quireboys and of course The Faces, Phil's raw vocals are particularly Rod-like on the breezy Blackwater Swagger and Roll The Dice, the band go a bit Skynyrd on Waitin' On Hollywood which teams a fuzz riff with church organs and A Penny For Your Dirty Mind continues in the soulful Southern vibe. Hanging Tree is a packed with soul bearing from Phil, '85 Rockstar builds on bubbling organs with an easy shuffle into a tale of self destruction that could have come from their previous incarnation.
Decadent Highway goes the other way by landing squarely in The Black Crowes territory matching boogie piano running with rock n roll guitar heroism. Recorded at Rockfield and Studio 2 in Portadown the album brims with confidence, intelligence and a real love for the music contained herein, Blackwater Conspiracy have spent time crafting an album that goes from slide-driven blues through to driving rock n roll via confessional country, it's a fantastic record that like all the best albums is British rock influenced by American blues, come and shoot the breeze it's comforting, familiar and boy howdy does it feel good. 10/10
Bloody Hammers: The Horrific Case Of Bloody Hammers (Napalm Records)
The Horrific Case Of Bloody Hammers is a vinyl only EP of Transylvania County goth, horror, schlock rockers Bloody Hammers. On their full length records they have slowly adapted their sound from doomy Sabbath-like rock to a more Cure-like goth styling and the six tracks on on this EP draw from both of those different style. The EP opens with the low down dirty riff of Gates Of Hell which is the heaviest track and has frontman/guitarist/bassist Anders Manga conducting the the ceremony with his resonant vocals and low end guitars.
His wife Devallia's organs come in on Blood which has the percussive melancholy of Type O Negative, it's on the synth heavy The Beyond that the band show their sexy gothic stylings. As a short slice of what the band can do The Horrific Case Of Bloody Hammers is a great EP that brings together the best of the band and takes it's place as a taster for their next album. 7/10