Ne Obliviscaris: Urn (Seasons Of Mist)
Australian extreme progressive metallers Ne Obliviscaris have been bubbling under the rock radar for several years. That might be about to change with their third release, Urn. The band’s dynamic and fluid balance of pace and styles is an intoxicating blend that will capture the imagination of a wide range of metal fans. There’s the devastating guitar riffs which can crush one minute, the violins and string sections which change the atmosphere and tempo at a stroke and the intelligent use of clean and growling vocals. Each track is an intensive experience, soaring highs and sweeping passages quickly capture your attention and embrace you closely in their grasp.
Having formed in 2003 but only released their debut Portal I in 2012, the band followed up with their sophomore release Citadel in 2014 and Urn continues their Avant Garde approach, with a range of styles which sees jazz, flamenco alongside the progressive and death metal staples. Six tracks clocking in at 45 minutes tells you that it isn’t the easiest listen in the world, but it is well worth dedicated time to let the album cascade over you whilst you gasp for air and try to take in everything that is happening. This is a musical journey well worth taking. 9/10
Tankard: Hymns For The Drunk (AFM)
It's quite astonishing to think that Tankard have been pursuing beer and thrash since the early 1980s without ever stopping, kind of the runaway train on the never-ending track. Hymns For The Drunk is a best of from 2002-2010 while the band were signed to AFM records and is an excellent summary of a rather underrated outfit, who revived their career with 2002’s B-Day. A constant force in German thrash alongside the big 3 of Destruction, Sodom and Kreator, it could quite easily be argued that they have never been given the credit they deserve.
Maybe it’s the humour which masks some technically excellent thrash metal but as our Rich commented in June when reviewing album 17, One Foot In The Grave, ‘the riffs are so good you’ll be too busy banging your head to care’. So it is on this mighty compilation, which contains 15 ball-busting monsters including Need Money For Beer, New Liver Please and the classic Zombie Attack. If you don’t know Tankard, this is as good a place as any to start. Bang your head and raise your glass. 8/10
Eric Bell: Standing At A Bus Stop (Off The Edge Productions)
Forever known as one of the founding members of Thin Lizzy, Eric Bell has had a varied and interesting career. The originator of that riff in Whiskey In The Jar, who famously quit Lizzy by throwing his guitar and amps off stage mid-gig, Bell has released several solo albums over the years, soaked in the blues rich sound that he has always played. Standing At A Bus Stop is the follow up to 2016’s Exile, which was Bell’s first release for a decade. The bitter sweet lyrics and melodies are present and correct. Covers of Howlin’ Wolf’s Back Door Man and the classic Elvis tune Mystery Train allow Bell to transport you back to a simpler time. The rest of the release is a mix of blues and country with slight rock leanings and whilst it certainly won’t appeal to all it’s a pleasant change from the blast beats and crashing riffs that sometimes occupy our aural capacity. 7/10
Warrior Soul: Back On The Lash (Cargo Records)
Big, brash and in your face, Warrior Soul led by the infamous Kory Clarke return with Back On The Lash, nine tracks and just over half an hour of stomping sleaze ridden rock n’ roll. The band, formed by Clarke way back when has been around for many years, earning a reputation for the unpredictable and the chaotic. Clarke, from the mean streets of Detroit, is a loose cannon, a poet, political activist and artist whose reputation is much bigger than his standing.
Back On The Lash makes the sleaze of Poison and those pretty boyz of the 1980s and 1990s look like a school trip from St Joseph's. If dirty, swung from the hip sleaze is your thing then you’ll be over this like the fat bird in the cake shop. Think the Dogs D’Amour on steroids. If, like me, you hate sleaze, you’ll hate this shit too. 7/10