The Free Life the third full length from Bristol musical alchemists Turbowolf has the heady mix of genres sometimes one or two in the same song, the steel drum smashing No No No takes flight with synths about halfway through then again at the end letting the expressive vocals Chris Georgiadis do the work before they add a bit of snotty punk with Capital X which has Lianna Lee Davies fuzzy bass and Andy Ghosh's distorted guitars melting your mind as the percussive precision of Blake Davis is key to the noise on this track and also the reverbed to all hell disco-rock of Cheap Magic.
Turbowolf don't really don't do long songs but their 3-4 four minute blasts of intergalactic space punk rock is enough to get you going nuts in the isles, when they do elongate a song such as the title track they really bring a progressive touch to it, throwing the kitchen sink at it. The Free Life features some great guest vocalists as well, the funky synth driven Very Bad has Vodun's Chantal Brown adding her soul voice all over it, the previously mentioned Capital X features Idles Joe Talbot while Cheap Magic has Sebastian Grainger of Death From Above and stomping stoner rocker Domino has Michael Kerr of The Royal Blood in fine form.
As with all Turbowolf records it's the variation of styles that makes them stand out above the rest of the British rock pack, they aren't afraid to take risks with their music from the alt acoustics of Half Secret to the fuzz rock and phase shifting of The Last Three Clues and all that's in between. Always unique and always brilliant The Free Life is another top notch record from Turbowolf. 8/10
Rivers Of Nihil: Where Owls Know Our Name (Metal Blade Records)
Not sure why the owls know their name and in one particular place but Rivers Of Nihil return with their third album, this one thematically deals with the Fall (Autumn for us Brits) with the previous albums being Summer and Spring respectively. As is only right with the changing of a season they have again reinvented themselves adding to their brutal death metal assault with electronica, jazz, alternative and folk making this record their most accomplished yet. Now rounded out with by guitarist Jon Topore and drummer Jared Klein the record starts as it means to go on as The Silent Life not only has the bludgeoning visceral death metal of before but is bolstered by an electronic undercurrent, clean guitar middle eight and lots and lots of schizophrenic sax playing.
It's the beginning of yet another journey following the protagonist of their last two albums continuing the story but also adding an awful lot more emotional material that sees the collective band members dealing with, as Adam Biggs (bass/vocals) puts it, "loss, getting older, and reaching a point where death becomes a much more present part of your life." The sax comes up again on the Subtle Change (Forest Of Transition) which has an epic jazz break in it's middle as the sax parps are anchored by the battering double kicks while Terrestria: III is a electronic driven industrial break that leads into the the second part of the album which continues in the vein of the of the first half filled with complex progressive music right but as the finale of Capricorn/Agoratopia rears its head the record has opened itself as one of the most interesting death metal records of the year so far. 8/10
Palace Of The King: Get Right With Your Maker (Golden Robot Records)
I've reviewed both of Aussie rockers Palace Of The King's previous albums and their third album maintains the theme of records full of swaggering, psychedelic, revivalist hard rock that moves between Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and of course AC/DC with massive bluesy riffs, soulful vocals and big organs that bubble away on opener and first single I Am The Storm which brings in a bit of The Doors with the blues rocking. There's touches of The Black Crowes as they shake their money makers on the percussive A Dog With A Bone, they go a bit solo wild on Said The Spider To The Bird and take a Floydian flight of fancy on Back On My Feet Again (which has a very Zep III secret song at the end).
It's this collaboration of styles and the straight ahead rockers like The Serpent that are all evidence that this record has been honed over the course of more than 100 live shows a year. Recorded in stages it's almost as if the songs on this record have been written specifically for playing live, they've got guts and balls bringing the best parts of classic rock music and the post Millennial revival for a wholly authentic hard rock experience. As I've said I've reviewed all of Palace Of The King's albums and they are consistently solid hard rock records and because of that I hope they start getting the recognition they deserve. 8/10
Old Man Wizard: Blame It All On Sorcery (Self Released)
While Ghost go through their current stage of reinvention as yet another Papa takes over as the front person, fans must be waiting with baited breath for their new album. Luckily for them then there is Old Man Wizard to satisfy their list for occult 70's rock, this Californian trio have the same influence base as the Swedes fed on a diet of Blue Oyster Cult, Queen (Last Ride Of The Ancients), Rainbow, Jethro Tull and even The Moody Blues (Somehow). They are uncannily similar to both Ghost (The Blind Prince, Cosmo) and Opeth on both folk driven Never Leaves and ultra heavy Innocent Hands.
The three piece have got the occult retroism down Francis Roberts vocals are much like Tobias Forge's and occult lyrical content and the riff driven rocking gets you headbanging in your chair as Roberts supplies the dancing guitars while Andre Beller and Kris Calabio lock in as the rhythm section. It's nothing that different from the Swedes and if you don't like Ghost then you'll not think much of Old Man Wizard but if you feel that your life is missing more folky, spectral, retro rocking then you'll have to listen to Old Man Wizard until the church is back in session, Blame It All On Sorcery as this is bewitching rock music at its best. 8/10