Andrew W.K: You're Not Alone (Red/Sony Music)
"When it's time to party, we will always party hard!" It was with these words in 2001 that Andrew Wilkes-Krier established himself as the boss of all things party, since then the albums have come, the wall of sound heaviness of I Get Wet has dissipated but W.K. is still seen as the bastion of all things party, in the nine years since his last album 55 Cadillac he has established a political party, appeared in numerous films, written numerous articles and books and has become a self help guru basing his approach on partying is life and life is partying.
It was only a matter of time before the huge sound of his debut returned with more life-affirming positivity blowing you away with music that moves from stadium rock, through punk to pop on this 16 track album which starts with an epic orchestral introduction and has numerous spoken word pieces that has Andrew giving his outlook on life and advising the listener that . The album is probably the most positive you will hear this year, it's a direct attack on negativity and using your own demons and self doubt as a fuel to be the best you can be. Music Is Worth Living For is a massive stadium anthem that will get you throwing your hands to the sky in celebration of music as way of both healing and defiance, with only one track gone you've got to catch your breath before the edgy punk of Ever Again explodes into a massive chorus of self confidence.
A pretty strong start but the record doesn't have the immediacy that I Get Wet had, much like Andrew's follow up records The Wolf and Close Calls With Brick Walls it's not really supposed to. This record is much more musical than anything he's done. It all sounds very big with multi-instrumentalist/producer notching every instrument up to maximum to make sure there is an encompassing noise. (Tip play it through speakers). There are moments greatness of course; the piano pounding Ramones-alike I Don't Know Anything, the obstinate The Party Never Dies and the anthemic The Devil's On Your Side, power ballad that is Total Freedom and the final title track are all winners and the record is well spaced as the spoken word pieces split the album into a few distinct parts. There is enough on here to be added to his raucous live shows and it's a welcome return from one of the most inspiring figures in rock music. 8/10
Sebastien: Act Of Creation (Escape Music)
Czech melodic power metal band Sebastien are back with their third album, their follow up to the 2015 record Dark Chambers Of Deja Vu a record that was 5 years in the making. This has taken less time to produce but still has the cinematic scope of the previous Sebastien albums, if I'd make a comparison Sebastien sound a lot like Kamelot musically with theatrical symphonics throughout but never taking away from the riffy power metal heart. Vocalist George Rain sounds a like (Original Kamelot vocalist) Khan so that could be another reason for the comparison, he performs like thespian approaching every song no matter how heavy or dramatic with the same adaptive soulful vocal
Continuing the performance style of this record and the similarities to Kamelot the record features an ensemble cast of guests on vocals as Marián "Mayo" Petranin (Signum Regis) and Apollo Papathanasio (Spiritual Beggars) both lend their pipes with Apollo appearing on the albums best track Die In Me. Along with them are two Czech ladies adding the female harmonies which are important to the symphonic style of music. Act Of Creation seems to be based upon some religious lyrics and quite a bit of romance an unrequited love rearing it's head as well.
The one issue with the album is that at 14 tracks it is a little long and you do find your attention wandering a little in the middle before you are focussed again for the storming end, still it's a solid melodic power metal filled with good performances all round. 7/10
Poem: Unique (ViciSolum Productions)
Greek/Swedish band Poem I'd consider to be one of the biggest progressive bands to come from Greece and along with Need and Tardive Dyskinesia they are carving out a niche for themselves as a band with interesting, intelligent, emotional progressive music that focuses on songwriting over musical posturing. Unique is their third album and it brings to life their special blend of prog, alternative and grunge metal that has touches of Deftones, Tesseract and Tool, the songs bring the loud/quiet dynamics of grunge, but with the technicality of the modern era of progressive metal. False Morality the first of seven songs on this record set the theme as Takis (bass) and Stavros (drums) lay down a tasty groove for Laurence (the lone Swede) and George to ramp up the distortion with offbeat riffs.
Four Cornered God does the same with the tribal beat of Tool and George beautifully flaunts his incredible vocals, I'd consider him to be one of the best vocalists in European prog metal able to give a touching rawness and fervent aggression check Discipline for both. Unique is an album that lives up to it's billing, there's a lot hear that may be recognisable to anyone familiar with modern prog metal but they inject their own style into these well worn troupes. More absorbing progressive music from Greece, what a hotbed for this style the country is at the moment. 9/10
We Sell The Dead: Heaven Doesn't Want You And Hell Is Full (earMusic)
Apparently We Sell The Dead were formed upon the question “What if Jack the Ripper had played in a band? A heavy metal band?” it's an interesting concept for sure and it sets We Sell The Dead up as a steampunk influenced horror drenched melodic doom metal band formed by Niclas Engelin (In Flames, Engel), Drömriket’s Jonas Slättung, Gas Lipstick (former HIM) and the voice of Apollo Papathanasio (Spiritual Beggars, Firewind), it's a record based around Victorian themes that tries to point out injustice, but expands the narrative into the extreme, playing with themes of ghosts, death or religion, it's a theatrical multimedia experience apparently but as we only have the debut record to go on rather than anything else, all conclusions have to be taken from there.
Heaven Doesn't Want You And Hell Is Full brings the thundering doom from the outset as Apollo's soulful vocals doing what they do best in Spiritual Beggars which is the major comparison I can make to this band especially with some of the fat juicy riffs that Niclas and Jonas peel off. They do change a little though as Imagine is a percussive chugging track, whereas Turn It Over has some melodic rock influences creeping in, built around Gas' expressive drumming. There's not much I can mark this album down on, all the performances are tight but it does get a little uninteresting as it progresses with Trust's funeral doom dragging on for a little to long. Nothing special but nothing terrible either. 7/10