Stone Broken: Ain’t Always Easy (Spinefarm)
To say that Walsall four-piece outfit Stone Broken’s rise has been meteoric would possibly be the understatement of the year. Relentless touring since their debut release in 2016, a huge promotional push with intense publicity from Planet Rock has catapulted a mediocre melodic rock band to a level which is, in my mind, quite undeserving. However, regardless of my views about their media support, Ain’t Always Easy is a solid if unremarkable release which follow the formula which has served so many bands in this genre well.
Think Black Stone Cherry, Nickelback, Theory Of A Deadman, Alter Bridge and Shinedown and you are in the right ball park. Tracks such as Home, I Believe and the Creed-lite Doesn’t Matter are all fine if you want your rock safe and comfortable. I have no doubt that the band, who are debuting on Spinefarm, are nice people and clearly hard working. Their website refers to this as “one of the most assured British rock albums of recent times”. If that’s the case, then I despair of the competition. It’s benign stuff. 5/10
Marco Mendoza: Viva La Rock (Mighty Music)
So, the pouting, real life Derek Smalls bassist of the godawful Dead Daisies has decided that he should inflict even more of his greatness on us mere mortals with his latest solo release Viva La Rock. Eight years since Casa Mendoza, apparently this is an album full of classic rock anthems. Oh really. Guest appearances from Guns N’ Roses guitarist Richard Fortus and White Lion’s Mike Tramp on a weak and unwarranted cover of Thin Lizzy’s Chinatown do nothing to ease the pain. A version of Ted Nugent’s Hey Baby stinks like monkey vomit.
Pompous, overblown compositions set in the misogynistic dark days of yesteryear are totally marred by shite lyrics and Mendoza’s constant screeching and arrogant Dave Lee Roth like delivery. If you think this is quality hard rock, then you have my endless pity. I’d rather have piles than listen to this arse sore again. 2/10
Chris Bay: Chasing The Sun (Steamhammer)
So, the guitarist and vocalist of power metal heroes Freedom Call has decided to deliver his first solo album. Completely and unashamedly separate from his main gig, Bay has clearly stated that this album is influenced by classic pop and rock from the 1990s and by god it is. To be honest, it sounds like an album full of failed Eurovision entries, such is the depth of cheese contained within it. Radio Starlight, Hollywood Dancer and the quite unbelievable Light My Fire are all quite astonishing.
I’m no aficionado of German pop music but if this is representative then I may be in favour of Brexit. But seriously, it’s such a curve ball in its content and style that underneath the horrible sounds that emerged from my speakers, I think I found a sneaking admiration that he was able to churn out such a horrible fuckworm with a straight face. If only the Gregory's would book him for BOA this year. How magical that would be. It needs to be heard … and then burnt. 2/10
Spartan Warrior: Hell To Pay (Pure Steel Records)
Sunderland was never really noted for its contribution to the NWOBHM movement but between 1980 and 1985 Spartan Warrior proudly flew the flag for the Mackems. Fast forward over 30 years and we find the band releasing album number four and their first since 2010’s Behind Closed Eyes. Whilst I can certainly appreciate the passion and enthusiasm that the band retain, like many of their contemporaries who have made comebacks over recent years, it might have been better if Spartan Warrior had left it the hell alone.
If only Hell To Pay had been called Behind Closed Doors and remained there, we’d probably all be better off. It’s lumbering heavy metal by numbers, limited vocals which struggle badly at times, and desperately poor compositions which fail to ignite any interest. By the time I’d got to the Iron Maiden Blaze Era Court Of Clowns I’d completely lost interest. 10/10 for effort but this is just dull. 4/10