Marilyn Manson: Heaven Upside Down (Loma Vista Recordings)
Close to three years since his return to form with Pale Emperor, the 'God Of Fuck' has delivered a quite astonishingly good 10th album. Regardless of whether you like the man himself, this is pure quality. Rammed full of gritty industrial riffs, I’d wager that this is close to Antichrist Superstar in quality. It’s snarling, unnerving and disturbing; everything that you’d want from Manson at his best. There is violence, smouldering in the powerful opener Revelation 12 and lead single We Know Where You Fucking Live, the uncomfortableness of Say10, and the powerful pomp of Jesus Crisis. Backed by his trusty trio of Tyler Bates, Twiggy Rameirez and Gil Sharone, this is Manson turning the clock back whilst retaining a fresh outlook on a totally fucked up world.
Saturnalia, full of astrological and mythological references also references his father who passed away during the recording. The punk lust is present, sitting comfortably with the industrial grind on tracks such as Kill4Me and the edgy title track. As I write Manson is recovering in hospital after giant stage props (two pistols apparently) collapsed on him during a show in New York. Fingers crossed for a speedy recovery. If you’ve been wise enough to grab a ticket for his forthcoming UK tour then it could be something special. A contender for one of the albums of the year. 10/10
Bob Kulick: Skeletons In The Closet (Vanity Music)
He’s been in the business for 40 years. He’s a well-regarded guitar master who has worked with many rock giants. Skeletons In The Closet is amazingly, Bob Kulick’s first solo album and he’s called in a wealth of talent to help him out. Unsurprisingly the guitar work is first class. This is the man who did work for Kiss, Alice Cooper. Lou Reed and Meat Loaf, who I saw him play with at St David’s Hall in November 1984. Robin McAuley does sterling work on Not Before You, whilst Dee Snider’s snarl makes the homage to Sweeny Todd on London more sinister and twisted (sorry!). Andrew Freeman (currently fronting Last In Line) appears on the bombastic Player and is reminiscent of Glenn Hughes in parts but it’s the bizarre cover of Shirley Bassey’s Gold Finger with some godawful vocals from Vic Wright (ex-Tokyo Blade?) which got me scratching my head in bemusement.
David Glenn Eisley adds his melodic rock style to the middle Eastern themed India, which features a coral sitar solo from Kulick, as well as the title track and Can’t Stop before Dennis St James brings the remaining tracks home. However, it’s Guitar Commandos that is the real show stopper here, mainly because of the guitar duel Kulick has with brother Bruce, not because of the rather mundane song itself. Other musicians that feature include bassists Rudy Sarzo and Chuck Wright, drummers Vinnie Appice, Quiet Riot’s Franki Banali and Kiss main man Eric Singer. It’s not a bad album, and it is certainly well played. Middle of the road hard rock with a melodic edge and some sweet guitar work. 7/10
Lynch Mob: The Brotherhood (Rat Pak Record)
Studio album number ten for the US hard rockers Lynch Mob, whose parts are probably greater than their sum. As well as legendary guitarist George Lynch cutting shapes and trading riffs, Lynch Mob’s current line-up includes original singer Oni Logan, bassist Sean McNabb (whose CV longer than Mr Tickle’s arm and includes time on Sons Of Anarchy) and drummer Jimmy D’Anda. Once again Lynch flings his guitar around with ease, adding chunky fat riffs to the opening few tracks. However, it’s formulaic stuff, the type which Lynch has churned out his whole career.
Logan appears at times to be doing his best Dave Lee Roth impression at times, such as the bubble gum rock of I’ll Take Miami. Last Call Lady is a horrible track with a ghastly chorus and from here on in the album blends into one. Rather forgettable riffs and ponderous paced tracks like Where We Started and cock-rock slow burn of The Forgotten Maiden’s Pearl all merge into that white noise that is the sound of the Dokken era hair metal. If you like bands like The Dead Daises then you’ll probably love this. Me, it’s just a bit dull and leaden and oh so dated. 5/10
Travelin Jack: Commencing Countdown (SPV)
Whilst Berlin based four-piece Travelin Jack make a decent enough classic rock sound, steeped very much in the 70s hard rock of Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple and certainly an edge of Scorpions and even that era UFO, Commencing Countdown does little to impress over the course of the album. Alia Spaceface (Yes, really) has a decent enough voice, but she pales when compared with the likes of Blues Pills Elin Larsson. The songs on Commencing Countdown quickly become repetitive and Spaceface’s voice (I can’t type that again) has a monotony about it that quickly wears. Songs like Metropolis belong in the 1970s for a reason. 5/10