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Monday, 22 January 2018

Reviews: Voodoo Circle, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Mutual Appreciation Society, Order To Ruin

Voodoo Circle: Raised On Rock (AFM)

Do you remember when Rainbow replaced Dio with Graham Bonnet? The overall style of the band didn’t change too much but with the Hawaiian shirt wearing frontman, Ritchie Blackmore’s men tightened up, got a little louder and bit more radio friendly; it was Rainbow for the MTV generation. It seems Alex Beyrodt is not content with just imitating Blackmore as a guitarist; he also seems to be taking the same route musically, after the previous record vocalist David Readman became involved with another three of four projects (the biggest being Almanac), Voodoo Circle searched for another vocalist, they settled upon Herbie Langhams (Avantasia) who Beyrodt met at Wacken festival. Langhams’ voice is a bit grittier than Readman’s once again supporting the Bonnet transition.

Musically as I’ve said they moved away from the heavy blues of the earlier albums bringing in some 80’s styled hard rock like Ultimate Sin and Running Away From Love, there's quite a deep AOR vein as well on Just Take My Heart and Where Is The World We Love. Even though I've compared the band alot to Rainbow both here and in the past there's actually a lot more Whitesnake on this record with Chase Me Away the track that really comes from the Coverdale book of slinky grooves, Unknown Stranger and Dreamchaser the two songs that are the VC of old. This isn't the Voodoo Circle I've loved from the first album, it's close but this record is slicker and brighter, it loses some of the blues based rocking of before but gains a more melodic edge that lets them seperate themselves from what's come before and establishes Herbie as their voice going forward. 8/10

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard/Slomatics: Totems (Black Bow Records)

Black Bow records have brought two of the heaviest acts together on one EP, North Wales psychedelic doom merchants, four piece Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and three piece Belfast riff masters Slomatics. MWWB get two tracks and Slomatics get three but to be fair to MWWB both of their tracks come it at over 22 minutes. The Master And His Emissary is exactly what you'd want from the Wrexham band; Paul Michael Davies (synth and guitar), Jessica Ball (bass, vocals, synth) Wez Leon (synth and guitar), James ‘Carrat’ Carrington (synth and drums) wind up the synths and discord before letting loose with the crushing riffs they not only bring to the table, but that they use to smash it into pieces.

Four minutes in the haunting at time banshee-like vocals of Jess come in over a chugging riff while the percussion flays wildly. It's a breathtaking noise backing up the heaviness of the riffs with the rhythmic vocals and spiralling synths, it takes 10 minutes to get to the guitar solo which climaxes the song, letting you regroup for the second onslaught that is Eagduru, more immediate than it's predecessor, the leviathan slabs of riffage drag the song along at a blissed out pace. After you've been bludgeoned for 20 plus minutes it's time for Slomatics to ramp up the fuzz as David/ Chris turn their guitars to eleven while Marty howls and bashes away at the skins, Sliver Ships is a slow piano number that sits in the middle of the two riff fests, their type of music is built upon aggression but with atmospheric doom cutting through especially on final track Masters Descent. Totems is a five song showcase of some headache inducing volume from two of the UK's loudest bands. 8/10  

Sterling Ball, John Ferraro & Jim Cox: The Mutual Admiration Society (Mascot Records)

Sterling Ball (Son of guitarist Ernie) has probably been exposed to some of the best musicians ever and as a bass player he has played with some big names as well as being the CEO of Ernie Ball Musicman, his buddy's John Ferraro (drummer) and Jim Cox (piano/organ) round out the core trio of this instrumental group that have released an album of blues, soul and jazz covers with some odd choices thrown in. As you can probably see with the membership of this band there seems to be an integral part missing, on most of the songs Ball plays guitar but this album is all about the guests as Albert Lee strutting his stuff on Hey Good Looking, Steve Lukather sticks around for Baby Please Don't Go, Steve Morse plays on The In Crowd and Sugar Shack features Steve Vai who is co-releasing this album with Mascot. There are standards on this record as you'd expect but occasionally it throws up a suprise the biggest two being I Want You Back (Jackson 5) and Disney Medley which oddly features John Petrucci on guitar. If you like instrumental albums that are full of virtuoso musicianship then pick up this album for your regular Joe Bloggs the record may be nothing more than restaurant level muzak. 6/10 

Order To Ruin: The Return To Ceyrior VII (Self Released)

German act Order To Ruin are a studio based project formed rhythm guitarist Denis, who was joined by lead guitarist Simon. The band have released 6 albums before this one but according to the press release they believe that this may be their best yet, featuring Mike on bass and vocals the style of this record is rather eclectic featuring horror/sci-fi themes throughout the music is split between thrash, power and classic Swedish death metal, The Stormlake's Tale gallops away like prize pony, with blistering twin guitar riffs, furious drumming and squawked vocals The Return To Ceyrior reminds me of early In Flames due to the melodic elements interweaving with traditional death/black sounds. Dating Lucifer has more classic flavours, Mary-Jane whizzes past at lightspeed and The Conjurer starts out slow but kicks you in the guts much like the rest of the record. It's good stuff, melodic death metal played well, my only gripe is that the production is bit too rough meaning that all of the instrumentation does get a little muddy. 7/10

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