Living Colour: Shade (Megaforce Records)
This is the sixth album from New York’s Living Colour, and their first since 2009’s The Chair In The Doorway. It’s been a long time since I listened to the band who came to the attention of the world in 1988 with their debut Vivid and of course, Cult Of Personality, a track that remains their signature song. The line-up for Shade remains the same as it has been since 2000’s reformation, with Vernon Reid holding the guitar duties and Corey Glover giving it his all on lead vocals. Will Calhoun on drums and Doug Wimbish make up the rest of the band. Shade retains the funk, rock, hip hop fusion of previous releases, with subject matter combining political commentary with a variety of social observations.
The band slip in a riff heavy cover of The Notorious B.I.G’s Who Shot Ya? a track that remains as relevant today as it was when it was first released. The fusion of sounds has always made Living Colour unique in terms of their status in the rock and metal world. They can do it all and tracks like Blak Out, Pattern In Time and Glass Teeth combine the hip hop influences with funk and hard rock. Reid has always been an underrated guitarist and he shows his chops time and again here whilst Glover’s voice is outstanding. I’ve never been bored with a Living Colour album and Shade is no different. 8/10
Kadavar: Rough Times (Nuclear Blast)
2015’s Berlin was an exceptionally good album. The Berlin three piece’s third release contained a plethora of hard stoner rock full of groove and hooks which were stuck in the head for days afterwards. Two years on and Rough Times is here; a more eclectic and varied album, Rough Times still retains the psychedelic vibe that surges through the band’s music and expands into a variety of sounds and styles which are all aurally stimulating.
It kicks off with huge fuzzy distortion on the title track, Christoph Bartelt’s thumping drums and Simon Bonteloup’s snorting bass lines providing foundations for Christoph Lindermann’s floating vocals and soaring guitar. Into The Worm Hole is dripping with 70s Sabbath groove whilst there is variation throughout the album; Tribulation Nation veers towards the Hawkwind space rock genre and You Found The Best In Me is pure Zeppelin. It’s heavy, it fucks with the brain and it’s a trip you should not miss. 8/10
Act Of Defiance: Old Scars New Wounds (Metal Blade)
Huge slabs of groove, thrashing riffs and snarling vocals continue the style started two years ago with Act Of Defiance’s solid debut release, Birth And The Burial. With the same line up in place, Old Scars New Wounds builds neatly with some impressive tracks. Henry Derek’s vocals range from the positively scary, MIA and Molten Core to the more melodic harmonies of Overexposure, which sits in the Killswitch Engage territory. Chris Broderick, as we know, can shred with the best of them and it’s no exception here with some tasty fret work.
Pounding bass and drums from Matt Bachand and Shawn Drover create tidal waves of power on Circle Of Ashes and Reborn. As with the previous release, Old Scars New Wounds maintains a high tempo throughout. Conspiracy Of The Gods could have fallen right off a Testament album, Drover’s high tempo drumming impressive. Two years and two albums. Act Of Defiance have established themselves in the metal world, with my only criticism the rather repetitive way many of the songs sound. It’s a solid metal release. 7/10
Monolord: Rust (Riding Easy)
We head to Gothenburg for the doom-laden sounds of Monolord, a powerful three-piece whose third album Rust conjures images of evil and horror. A filthy distortion greets the listener, the massive wall of sound that the band’s vocalist and guitarist Thomas V Jäger intended easily achieved. This is no easy throwaway listen mind you, with the six tracks hitting a huge 54 minutes. Opener Where Death Meets The Sea may be somewhat deceiving, pacey and relatively snappy in comparison to the crushingly slow Dear Lucifer which focuses more on piling on intense weight.
I like the band’s inspiration for their music though as Jäger, bassist Mika Hakki and drummer Esben Willems have previously stated. “The disgust for what humans do to each other and to the planet is constant. Religion, greed, and power madness run through humanity like incurable diseases, which is, consequentially, a constant stream of inspiration for us”. Quite so. We are truly fucked as a species.
The Hammond organ intro on the title track gives way to a mammoth riff which is so heavy it buries you in its path. Don’t put the headphones on to this as it will stove your head in. Rust may lumber but it is always on the right path, pounding like a herd of rhinos in search of a water-hole. The mountainous riffs continue with Wormland, another bone snapping track which haunts the listener with eerie violin, all the while pounding like the sea on the shore. Imperious crashing chords maintain the intensity of substantial impact.
This is no small moon. It’s a fully operational battle station. When you thought it could not get any more concentrated, the band hit you with two massive tracks, the 13-minute Forgotten Lands which is sufficiently substantial to carve holes in the sky (or blow up a planet - Ed) and album closer At Niceae, all 15 and a half minutes of pulverising mesmeric roaring doom. It’s a cavernous release. Dare you take the challenge? 8/10