Fireball Ministry: Remember The Story (Cleopatra Records)
Fireball Ministry records are few and far between, there last was in 2010, but when they do come out, you always know what to expect. There's no frills from this Los Angeles band, the self proclaimed "First Church Of Rock N Roll" talks the talk but the fuzzy stoner riffs of Jame A. Rota and Emily Burton certainly walk the walk. The End Of Our Truth has a strutting riff straight out of the gate, with Rota (accompanied by Burton) giving out his unique vocal delivery before they fire up the cylinders of this bad boy, bringing the Sabbath worship in the final part and on the following track the sauntering Everything You Wanted. The curse of Fireball Ministry bassists rears it's head again with Kyuss's Scott Reeder the latest in along line of four stringers to record with the band locking in with sticksman John Oreshnick for the powerful grooves, check out Back To Earth for some cowbell bashing.
Their 2010 self titled record had a crisper modern sheen to it, the songs were cleaner cut with modern hooks, here it's back to the Fireball Ministry of old, fuzzy guitars, strutting riffs carved out of granite, proper rock n roll as it should be. Only on the final I Don't Believe A Word shifts the musical focus from rest of the record to what I would refer to as almost a ballad, it might be a bit contentious for some (me included) so good that it comes at the end of the record. This is probably the most consistent Fireball Ministry record since Their Rock Is Not Our Rock, in this day an age consistency is nothing to be sniffed at, welcome back to the church! 8/10
Sorcerer: The Crowning Of The Fire King (Metal Blade Records)
I'd never heard of Sorcerer before this record landed at MoM towers but bloody hell this is the sort of epic doom metal I really like. The obvious comparison would be Candlemass but also the earlier releases from Grand Magus as there is a big classic metal sound throughout. Originally formed in 1988 by bassist Johnny Hagel and vocalist Anders Engberg the band released a few demos but ultimately folded when Johnny left to join Tiamat. In 2010 the band returned for the German Hammer Of Doom festival and Up The Hammers in Athens, they released their critically acclaimed debut album in 2015.
Not wanting to leave a similar gap between their next record this second full length comes only two years later and it's got the epic doom down to a tee. The monolithic riffs of Ship Of Doom take it to over 7 minutes of dramatic, cinematic doom-laden pirate metal, this segues nicely into the Eastern influenced touches of the head nodding Abandoned By The Gods. Hagel and Engberg have a strong cast of musicians backing them, the guitars of Kristian Niemann and Peter Hallgren are the heavy, down tuned riffs and clean passionate soloing bringing a brilliant classically influenced guitar duel to the hailing Satan of The Devil's Incubus as well as swelling out the sound with acoustic guitars which are haunting on instrumental Nattvaka.
In the back room Hagel does the Leif Edling thing of pacing the lumbering heaviness as Lars Sköld takes the drum stool to meld with Hagel. I haven't heard a doom metal album this good in a long while, it does away with the usual malaise preferring to take the clearer more traditional metal influenced route of colossal riffs and clear powerful vocals from Engberg. The Crowning Of The Fire King is monster of an album and a must have for fans of epic doom metal that the Swedish do brilliantly. While you wait for the next Candlemass record console yourself with Sorcerer's latest masterstroke. 9/10
Kardinal Sin:Victorious (Tramp Music)
Please whatever you do don't confuse this Swedish/Finnish heavy metal band with Cardinal Jamie Sin, the 30th Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila. No Kardinal Sin are a proper heavy metal band symphonically charged with keys they play fist-in-the-air heavy metal like Hammerfall playing with Kamelot, the lyrical content on this record is also taken from the Kamelot/Serenity book of songwriting having a historical theme on Bonaparte and Bells Of Notre Dame, they use religious iconography on S.I.N and they even take on fantasy with Attack. Victorious is their second album, their first was only released earlier this year and they have rapidly followed it up with another passionate piece of power metal. I'd not heard anything of Kardinal Sin before this record but I'm sure I'll be hearing a lot more from them in the future such is the strength of this record. 7/10
RSO: Rise (BMG)
Ritchie Sambora has been a part of one of the biggest rock bands in the world, he's even released a pretty decent solo album in the past, meanwhile his new beau and muse Orianthi has plied her trade in Alice Cooper's band and most famously as the guitarist for Michael Jackson's final This Is It concerts (which he ultimately would not perform due to his untimely death)
Opening title track is a fuzzy rocker with dual vocals as Orianthi and Sambora's vocals compliment each other well but there's none of the virtuosic flair you'd expect from two guitar wizards, it's competent but nothing more. Unfortunately this mediocre pop rocker is the best song on the record, Masterpiece is dog shit, a late 90's/early 2000's pop song Bryan Adams would have rejected, the synthesized drums are a Mutt Lange special and the lyrics are coy and unappealing. The EP goes from bad to worse on the vomit inducing Truth a song so vile I'd rather stick needles in my eyes, saccharine and overproduced, it's budget X Factor fodder in the highest order.
Take Me is shit, ripping off those million selling Santana records albeit without the guest singers, coolness or even the guitar ability and finale Good Times has the pop country of Sugarland and even a rap for goodness sake! With talk of Bon Jovi heading into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame, it seems the door for Sambora is always open at the BJ mothership, I suggest he accept their offer as Rise just makes me want to dig a big hole and throw this album in it. 1/10