Lance Lopez: Tell The Truth (Mascot Records)
Lance Lopez may be a name that some of you are not familiar with but you will know his voice and guitar prowess from Supersonic Blues Machine records, his is a voice that has been lived in, he's walked the walk, talked the talk and lived to tell the tale. This seventh solo album is his first for Mascot records and it's hi most autobiographical to date, he discusses his sordid history and his recent sobriety. The record is a warts and all telling of his life, he sets out his stall on Never Came Easy which is a country styled rocker about his hardships, that leads into a adrenaline fuelled take on John Lee Hooker's Mr Lucky (something Lopez has been by all accounts), these two songs pretty much give you the basis of this album, it's a record that brings the blues to rock n roll with both creeping in from time to time, Lopez is a bluesman he's played with Bobby “Blue” Bland, Buddy Miles, Johnny Taylor, and Lucky Peterson.
He started playing professionally at the age of 14 in bars and his friend and mentor at that time was fellow Texan Rev Billy Gibbons along with Buddy Miles. With all the touring and playing came the darker side which is what makes up much of the lyrics on this record see Down To One Bar and High Life. However the musical education of Lopez means that when he's playing the good old blues his guitar and smoky vocals are etched with pain and regret but when he's rocking out there's a confidence to him that tells you he's not only bought the t-shirt and written the book he's probably the damn copyright. Tell The Truth is an unapologetic rocking blues record that will guarantee Lopez the plaudits he deserves, if you only know him from Supersonic Blues Machine maybe it's time to pick up this record and get to know the real truth about Lance Lopez. 8/10
Hypnos: The GBG Sessions (The Sign Records)
What is it with the Swedes and retro rock? With Graveyard and Blues Pills among others, the American sounds of 1965 to 1979 seem to be a recurring theme in Swedish rock music. Hypnos are apparently one of the strongest live acts in the current batch and they have a chance to show this to a larger audience with this live session from Gothenburg. It's the first to feature new singer Linus Johansson and sees them bringing together older songs from their previous two albums along with new songs Ain't No Fool and Looking Out from their soon to be released album, they also throw in a cover of ABBA's Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie at the end, it is a party after all.
The rawness of this record is it's charm, you feel as if you're at the session itself as the band freak out in front of you with hook laden, riff driven catchiness that has the blues base of Graveyard (check out Nightmares) and the dual guitar harmonies of Thin Lizzy (The Mountain). At 8 tracks long this record is blast of Hypnos' retro influenced sound, they can prog out on 1800, turn up the volume for Looking Out and the ABBA cover is pretty good sounding little like Yngwie Malmsteen's version from the 90's. I didn't know much about Hypnos before this but The GBG Sessions gives you a pretty solid idea of what the band would be like on a live stage. If retro rocking is your bag then get vibing to Hypnos. 7/10
Godstone: Monument Of One (Self Released)
I’d never heard of Godstone before this five track EP but when you press play they sound like the quintessential American heavy rock act, there’s Alter Bridge, Shinedown but mostly Stone Sour coming through with Matthew Pascoe’s grooving bass driving Over The Line. It came as a surprise then I read that Godstone were from the Southwest of England, they sound so American that you could hear their music as a WWE Theme without questioning their nationality. Monument Of One is their debut EP and it features five tracks as I’ve said, these are used to display what’s best about the band big booming bass lines, thumping drums from Matt Davey and dirty riffs from John Kenward and Alex Goodrich.
James MacDonald has a voice that some will either love or hate, sounding a little like Corey Taylor, like his American counterpart his lower more aggressive approach is great it’s only when it’s a little lighter he seems to struggle, but like I said that’s just what I feel, many will love this vocal style. Monument Of One is a pretty impressive first strike by Godstone, it gives you enough to want to invest in the band and leaves them a lot of room to refine their sound, well produced and performed they are another worthy addition to the British metal scene. 7/10
Victorius: Dinosaur Warfare - Legend Of The Power Saurus (Massacre Records)
Yes you read that title correctly this is an EP about both those things mentioned, I'm talking about Dinosaur's with freaking laser beams. German power metal band Victorius have clearly lost their collective marbles and just thought "Screw it let's write sci-fi songs about Dinosaurs". Oddly it works when a song has the lyric "Mighty Dinosaur, fight a holy war" you are on to a winner right away, it's epically silly but brilliantly realised, the power metal is what you'd expect it to be all galloping, blast beated Germanic metal with powerful vocals, it's the talent of the band that means this record is not as stupid as it first seems, they've also made sure that this is just an EP so the concept doesn't get too tiresome, with songs like Razorblade Raptor and Laser Tooth Tiger this EP is great power metal record with bonkers theme that somehow holds it all together. 7/10