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Thursday, 1 February 2018

Reviews: Walking Papers, The Poodles, Ammunition, Thuum

Walking Papers: WP2 (Loud & Proud Records)

The aptly named WP2 from Walking Papers is another album of Alternative/garage blues from what is an alternative rock supergroup made up of Screaming Trees' drummer Barrett Martin, bassist Duff McKagan, guitarist/vocalist Jeff Angell and his longtime collaborator Benjamin Anderson on keys. Since the critically acclaimed debut record Angell amd Jefferson have been keeping their hand in with Staticland, Duff has been touring the world with some band he was in back in the 80's and 90's, while Martin was the producer of the 2017 Latin Grammy's but after reconvening it was Matin and Angell's push/pull approach to recording that once again saw Walking Papers emerge with 13 more tracks.

Martin admits "there’s some creative tension, sure, but the music benefits from it. If you have an idea and you’re not willing to fight for it, then maybe it’s not that good of an idea in the first place" conflict, contradiction and fallacies of life as it is today are central themes to this record, almost like philosophical arguments set to a diverse musical backing. From the strutting Death On The Lips through the slow burning Red And White, the foot stomping Hard To Look Away, the slinky Before You Arrived and to the country shuffle of Don't Owe Me Nothin' Walking Papers add more tracks to their expanding repertoire.

Unafraid to experiment or move away from the sounds on their debut album this high skilled four piece really understand that without risk there is no reward and they take risks here the reap plentiful rewards. The old saying goes "put up or shut up" well this is what Walking Papers put up and it's pretty damn good in my opinion. 9/10

The Poodles: Prisma (Gain Records)

With 7 albums behind them it was probably only a matter of time before the Swedish melodic glam rockers released a covers album. Kicking off with Crazy Horses, which is much better than Zakk Wylde's version as it's got the 70's stomp of the original but showcasing Jakob Samuel's vocals. What it does show you is that if it had been by The Sweet or T Rex and not The Osmonds it would be a rock classic. They take a slower approach than Firewind did for Mainiac. There's some rocked up covers of dance/pop songs by Adele, Swedish House Mafia and David Guetta, the Depeche Mode cover doesn't add much but their version of Yellow Brick Road is brilliantly realised and Call Me is not as good as In This Moment's cover on their second album.

They manage to make Go Your Own Way a cheesy AOR fest but the issue with all cover records is that they can never really be judged on their own merit they are one band taking someone else's song and performing it in their own way, whether that's good or not depends on many factors, the band, the song, the version but I think The Poodles have nailed it with their choices and their performance is always top notch, it's pretty much a guarantee that if you hate the song their cover is not going to change your mind but this record might just act as an in to the music and fun of The Poodles which can only be a good thing. 7/10

Ammunition: Ammunition (Frontiers Records)

What to expect from Ammunition, well huge choruses and arena baiting rock songs, this is the second album from the band but the first for Frontiers and they've just turned everything up to maximum. A collaboration between singer Åge Sten Nilsen (ex Wig Wam) and guitarist/producer Erik Martensson (Eclipse, W.E.T, Nordic Union) Ammunition are cocked, locked and ready to rock, full of the glam stomp Nilsen brought to Wig Wam but really it's best of melodic rock record with the songwriting of Nilsen and Martensson bringing an attitude to Freedom Finder, some Van Hagar to Virtual Reality Boy and a heaving load of radio rock to Wrecking Crew a song that saw the band get to the Norwegian Eurovision Grand Finale.

With this in mind you can make the connection to why the tracks on this record are so damn catchy, they get your head nodding, heart racing and fills you with the need to sing along, ballad Eye For An Eye is an example of this as it is full of anti-war sentiment with a simmering building rock ballad that Nickelback would be proud of. Ammunition reinforces that this band are more than a one hit wonder, to do melodic rock well is a hard task there have been so many bands in the genre that have attempted it but Ammunition do it with a slickness, Nilsen and Martensson are right on target with these shots of melodic rock goodness, Ammunition? They have plenty here. 8/10  

Thuum: Through Smoke, Comes Fire (Self Released)

Bournemouth band Thuum have a dark heart and a fuzzy haze, it's aggressive stoner metal, with a nod to the progressive and walls of distorted groove, similar to the earlier Mastodon albums that took from the hardcore scene, they add it to the the sonic abuse of High On Fire and sludgier acts like Eyehategod. Intro the instrumental that is track one has everything you'd want from a band like Thumm, a repeating clean part that is taken away with the monstrous distortion, it's the first song to get your head nodding in sync with the groove and builds into Worthless which starts with a stomach churning roar and speeds things up with heaviness and it's frequent time changes between lumbering doom, percussive psych and thrash speed.

It's the longest song on the record and is followed by the neck wrecking Hafgufa which has that hardcore groove I talked about earlier, rounding out the EP is the title track which has the first usage of clean vocals and continues the theme of pummelling you to dust. On the basis on this EP Thuum could be hitting a town near you and they may just level it, heft in it's rawest form. 7/10

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