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Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Reviews: Exhumed, LA Guns, Heaven & Earth, Solar Sons (Reviews By Paul)

Exhumed: Death Revenge (Relapse Records)

San Jose’s death metal outfit Exhumed have been consistent in their releases since their reformation in 2010. Death Revenge continues the biannual output and maintains the gore themes which the band’s focus has been on since day 1. As someone who isn’t that familiar with the band Death Revenge is totally what I’d expect. The guttural vocals of Matt Harvey impress, the pace and power of the band is frightening at times with Harvey’s guitar work combining with former bassist Bud Burke who also handles the axe work.

Michael Hamilton’s drumming is as ferocious as you’d expect. The Carcass influence remains throughout, on tracks such as Lifeless and The Harrowing, which inevitably throws a bit of Cannibal Corpse into the mix. There’s also a bit of classical hidden in the bonus tracks, with Death Revenge Underture bringing to mind a horror film score, as well as a cover of the Exodus classic A Lesson In Violence. 7/10

LA Guns: The Missing Peace (Frontiers)

The first album to feature Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns for 15 years, so very much a reunion album from the band who first emerged from LA in 1983. I’m not a big fan of this type of hard rock, with the sleaze/glam element often being more important than rather weak music. The Missing Peace is a reasonable effort, with more emphasis on the music than in previous times. Phil Lewis’ voice is in fine form and there is some neat guitar work from lead Michael Grant.

The inevitable ballad is inevitably grim; Christine made me bring up a little bile. Some of the tracks are particularly throwaway including the hideous Baby Gotta Fever which does nothing and there is the usual misogynistic lyrical content. Sticky Fingers is case in point. I’m sure if you enjoy your hard rock in the Motley Crue, Poison, Cinderella ball park then you’ll find this enjoyable. 7/10

Heaven & Earth: Hard To Kill (Quarto Valley Records)

Hard rock immersed in the blues is everywhere these days but now and again the odd band just makes you stop and listen in more detail. Such is the case with Hard To Kill, album number 4 from LA based outfit Heaven & Earth. The band has featured an impressive number of musicians since their debut way back in 2001 but has been driven forward by British born Stuart Smith whose blues soaked guitar is one of the highlights throughout this release. The line-up which recorded Hard to Kill includes the smoking hot vocals of Joe Retta, the thumping bass of Lynn Sorenson, Kenny Arnoff on drums and Ty Baillie’s ivories which tinkle throughout.

Unsurprisingly the band sit very much in the 70s and 80s rock of Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake, Free and Bad Company. The tracks come hard and fast, stuffed full of melody and harmony along with more than the odd hook. Opener Hard To Kill is a barnstorming start, power and passion mixing with more than a good dose of the blues. The acoustic Bleed Me Dry hits the spot, allowing Smith the opportunity for some heartfelt guitar work.

There’s even opportunity for Retta to deliver a bit of killer harmonica during the duelling The Game Has Changed which sees the band on fire. This is a polished release which simply oozes quality and you know from one listen that these are musicians at the top of their game. If you fancy a slab of honest, top class blues drenched rock then get a copy of Hard To Kill. Great stuff. 8/10

Solar Sons: Retrograde Motion (Slow Dragon Music)

The second release from Dundee’s Solar Sons whose old-school metal with a progressive tinge is a very enjoyable slab and an improvement on their debut The Great Blue Divide. The progressive edge remains firmly in place with most of the songs well over six minutes in length. A fuzzy production adds to the retro feel and whilst I can hear bits of the Maiden and Sabbath influences, I do struggle to pick up much of Rush apart from the odd synthesiser swoosh.

Stand out track is probably Colossus which ebbs and flows like a mighty river through the countryside. Elsewhere the chunky guitar sound blends with some crashing guitar work and Dave Hill (Demon) style vocals from bassist Rory Lee. This is a grower which demands repeated plays to fully appreciate the complexity of a three piece who are showing positive signs of progress. It certainly won’t do you any harm to give it a spin. 6/10

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