Samarkind: S/T (Self Released)
Oof now we're talking, those delicious bluesy riffs, the soulful Glenn Hughes mirroring vocals, glistening solos and rough and ready hard rock edge, Samarkind bring a swagger to their debut album right from the off, they have a strutting Zepalike riff on Sun Stroke Heart but they also sit themselves in the Southern sounds on the rootin' tootin' Skinny Rivers, the slide drenched Black Rain and the percussive semi-acoustic Touch Stone Man. The band have global membership, the thrilling pipes of David Paul Byrne and throbbing bass of Mark Dempsey hail from the Emerald Isle, the hammer behind the kit is South Africa's Marius Appelgryn and the impressive guitar prowess comes from Polish guitarist Michal Kulbaka.
Together they've latched on to the spirit of real British 70's rock putting Samarkind up there as the natural successors to the likes of Thunder, Little Angels and Reef, raised on a diet of Zeppelin, Free, Whitesnake and the US Blues masters which gives this record not only it's arrogant stride but backs it up with dazzling songwriting. The record is only 8 tracks but that's all that's needed, it satisfies your craving but leaves wanting more meaning the only option is to play it again, sitting in the middle of the record is the incredibly atmospheric Good Man Call which rides on the coattails of Still Of The Night and In My Time Of Dying for echoed dramatic rock and roll, a creep of Purple comes in for Fire And Blood as the organs ramp up in the colossal chorus where Byrne gives his all vocally. A blues drenched, confident slab of hard rock with a Southern soul Samarkind are on fire with their debut. 10/10
Skarlett Riot: Regenerate (Despotz Records)
I first saw Skarlett Riot supporting Devilskin in a small pub somewhere in England (The Iron Road, Evesham) they impressed due to the commanding pop savvy vocals of frontwoman Skarlett and their alternative metal riffs were impressive bringing a youthful exuberance but a sense of confident experience to them. Since then they have released a critically acclaimed EP and now they have dropped their second album. As you press play you can hear why this album is called Regenerate, Skarlett Riot are heavier than they have ever been guitarist Jonny riffs like a madman with the thrash yet classic sound of BFMV (Paralyzed).
Opening number Break showcases Luke's impressive drumming giving a battery that pricks up your ears, there's a lot of In This Moment-esque industrial heaviness due to the vocals of Skarlett who has a similar sneering candour to Tori Amos, classic metal riffs on The Storm while Outcast has the attitude of Paramore taking things back to the earlier releases. Regenerate sees Skarlett Riot poised to explode out of the UK scene and into the wider consciousness, they have skillfully balanced heavy metal and melodic rock for a sound that is all their own, keep and eye on them they'll be huge very quickly. 8/10
Riffocity: Under A Mourning Sky (Soman Records)
Thrash metal from Northern Greece Under A Mourning Sky is their debut full length album, it's a thrash album in the usual Slayer and Exodus styles. This Eternal Secret Lies Above and Hail hy Father have the speedy riffs and aggressive vocals while they show there other side on the more melodic Arnis Oblivion which gives a different style to Dimitris Kalaitzidi's guitar playing. It's perfectly competent thrash metal with gruff vocals counterpointed by the female vocals of Vicky Kapsali on Perish Unloved. Riffocity have a good grip on heavy thrash, there's some doom on Above The End but it's mostly tough stomping thrash metal, expertly produced by Bob Katsionis, at the beginning I wasn't enamoured with the vocals but they did grow on me and they fit the aggressive music well. The only thing I would say is that i really don't like the name but I suppose it's not as bad as some thrash bands. If you want a thrash-orientated band with pumping riffs and a rawness Riffocity will hit the spot. 6/10
Seed Of Sorrow: Vice Like Grip (Holier Than Thou Records)
Inverness is not where you'd think of for ball busting heavy metal but Seed Of Sorrow are looking to change that. This debut EP is a raging slab of melodic death metal with barked vocals, explosive technical guitars and relentless drum battery. It's breathless stuff for sure with big hitting riffs and all out audio assault, with tracks like Tearing Me Apart and Death Fuck Ritual blast beating away, there are no melodic elements, no lightness just outright brutality from riff one. Probably the heaviest thing to come out of Inverness in a long time, don't expect anything light or fluffy just play loud. 7/10