Riddlemaster: Bring The Magik Down (Metalapolis)
You may recall the Manilla Road Album To Kill a King that we reviewed back in July. Well, Riddlemaster combines Mark ‘The Shark’ Shelton with drummer Rick Fisher, who played on the early Manilla Road releases from 1979 to 1984. EC Hellwell adds the bass and you have a powerful trio whose classic rock sound isn’t a million miles away from Manilla Road. The epic title track opens the album, all 14 minutes of it and you soon get a flavour of where the band are going. More fantastical lyrics, with the music containing the characteristic style that Shelton has long delivered.
His vocal delivery on Crossing The Line mixes Jim Dandy from Black Oak Arkansas with Zakk Wylde. The song plods a little but has sufficient depth not to cause an issue, whilst Shelton’s solos impress. Every Mothers Son changes the tempo with a rather tasty acoustic edged almost country style track, Shelton’s extended soloing highlighting the man’s undoubted talent.
Another change in direction for the haunting Lair Of The White Witch, which meanders pleasantly with some exceptional playing. In fact, the whole album showcases just how good a guitarist Shelton is. This album has a real 70s feel, shades of lighter Sabbath appear from time to time, such as on Ghosts Of The Plains, which is a superb calming track. I must admit to being pleasantly surprised by just how enjoyable this release is. 8/10
Snowy Dunes: Atlantis (Hevisike Records)
Another day, another review and another band from Sweden. This time it’s Snowy Dunes, a fuzzed-up ball of psychedelic rock from Stockholm. Atlantis is their sophomore release. With five tracks totalling over 42 minutes of music you get the picture from the start that this is going to be a meandering, rambling journey rather than a ride on the Bullet Train. Opener Atlantis Pt II complies with all expectations, tripping through the first seven minutes before Christoffer Kingstedt’s guitar is unleashed to good effect.
The band combine to a cymbal crashing crescendo, Niklas Eisen’s wailing vocal adding to the cacophony. If you like the 70s sound that seems to be prevalent across Scandinavia now, then Snowy Dunes will probably be another band to add to your list. Chunks of stoner and hard rock merge with the psychedelic aspects throughout. Testify has a slight change with a White Stripes stomp combining with the more expected Zeppelin and Sabbath elements which kick in. Well produced and expertly performed, this does everything expected. 7/10
Three Seasons: Things Change (Transubstans Sweden)
Album number 4 from the Swedish Blues and psychedelic three-piece and it’s a fabulous release. Full of groove, swagger and a lot more than your average band in this genre. First thing that strikes you is the retro sound, cemented in the 1960s and 70s but with a freshness which immediately sparks the interest. Secondly are the smoky vocals of Sartez Faraj, which to me is almost akin to Joanne Shaw Taylor, whose husky low tones is always a delight. Things Change is crammed full of lazy yet energetic tracks that combine the unique styles of The Groundhogs and Hendrix amid a haze of other influences.
The musicianship is top quality with Faraj's guitar playing impressive and ably supported by the bass of Olle Risberg and the jazz style drumming of Thomas Broman. This is a stunning journey which has improved on every listen; tracks like Trust Me and opener Been Gone draw you in whilst the hooks of Set Me Free Again become earworms very quickly. I’d endorse a listen of Things Change as soon as possible. 8/10
The Black Marbles: Moving Mountains (Ofelia)
Yet more Blues rock from Gothenberg comes your way in the shape of The Black Marbles. The band has been around since 2009, fronted by Marcia Svensson whose powerful soul filled vocals are impressive. The Sabbath infused opener Little Sun certainly gets the attention and from there its difficult to escape. Not that you’d want to, as The Black Marbles sound, which is certainly like their countrymen the Blues Pills amongst others, is infectious. Svensson’s strong voice draws you in, whilst the combination of Rikard Lindberg’s soulful guitar playing and the groove driven engine room of bassist Krister Selander and drummer Tobbe Bovik is guaranteed to get that head nodding.
It’s all over in 32 minutes but it's a special 32 minutes with tracks such as the emotionally charged Stain My Eyes and the Fleetwood Mac style Fallen showcasing the qualities in the band. Best Believe It demonstrates that the band can kick out the jams with the best of them. Whilst I’m certain that no-one in Gothenburg does anything but play psychedelic and blues rock, The Black Marbles are certainly a band which are worth looking out for. 8/10