Black Stone Cherry: Family Tree (Mascot Records) [Review By Paul]
After the Black To The Blues EP of last year, it’s time for album number 6 from BSC. The challenge for a band whose vocalist is as distinctive as Chris Robertson’s is how to deliver music that differs from the previous output. Well, on Family Tree the Kentucky outfit have taken a decisive step away from the middle ground routine that made Magic Mountain and Kentucky of limited appeal. There is a harder, bluesy edge which runs through the heart of Family Tree, and tracks such as Carry Me On Down The Road, which has a Stevie Ray Vaughan feel, New Kinda Feelin’, with its piano riffs as well as the gospel feel on My Last Breath demonstrate a stripped down approach to songwriting which was missing from their previous release.
A chunky Hammond underpins Southern Fried Friday Night, sure to become a live classic with its dirty middle section. Don’t get me wrong, BSC still have the feel-good arena packing songs that I don’t always enjoy, but in Family Tree the band has stripped away some of the bullshit and gone back to solid rock n’ roll songs. The appearance of the legendary Warren Haynes on Dancin’ In The Rain adds quality and has shades of Black Country Communion as well as the inevitable Southern rock influences, something that BSC can do very well when they get back to basics. Family Tree is a mature, well-crafted album full of decent hard rock songs and proves that there is still much mileage in the band. 8/10
Lordi: Sexorcism (AFM) [Review By Rich]
Finnish monster rockers Lordi are back with their ninth album Sexorcism which they have stated to be their most controversial album to date. Judging by the absolutely tasteless album cover I can see the direction Lordi are going with this album and that's down the Steel Panther road of overly sexual and rather immature lyrics. Lordi have always been a band with tongue firmly planted in cheek lyrically but it's just taken a bit further on Sexorcism.
Thankfully despite the silly lyrics the music is as good as ever. Hugely catchy tunes which straddle the line between hard rock and heavy metal but with a vintage 80's feel about them. Songs such as Your Tongue's Got The Cat, Naked In My Cellar and Polterchrist are irresistable anthems which make you want to equally sing along and bang your head. The album does go on a bit too long and two or three songs could have been chopped off. Sexorcism isn't a groundbreaking record but it's a very consistent, fun and entertaining one. One thing that Lordi have always been throughout their career is consistent with barely a misstep in their discography and very little deviation from their sound and style. Sexorcism is another enjoyable entry in the Lordi back catalogue. 7/10
ISSA: Run With The Pack (Frontiers Records) [Review By Paul]
I’d never heard of ISSA before but apparently, she’s a bit of melodic rock queen hailing from Norway. Run With The Pack is her fifth album and it’s a polished, melodic rock album that ticks every box for fans of the genre. Unsurprisingly this is crammed full of soaring vocals, beautiful harmonies, layered synths and huge production. ISSA certainly has a strong vocal delivery, reminiscent of the symphonic metal female frontwomen. Think Sharon Den Adel or more closely Charlotte Wessels without the blast beat accompaniment, performing some rip-roaring Pat Benatar tunes.
A rather ghastly duet with Revolution Saints frontman /drummer, Deen Castronovo on Sacrifice Me as well as a couple of inevitable mushy ballads which the mighty Heart deliver so well. The Sound Of Yesterday is a perfect example. With Alessandro Del Vecchio overseeing the recording, mixing, mastering and tinkling the ivories, Simone Mularoni of Italian progressive metal giants DGM on guitar and Andrea ToWer Torricini (Vision Divine) and Marco Di Salvia (Kee of Hearts) holding down the rhythm section, Run With The Pack is about as perfect a melodic rock release as you are likely to hear this year. 8/10
Abramis Brama: Tusen Ar (Black Lodge) [Review By Rich]
Tusen år is the seventh album by long running Swedish stoner rockers Abramis Brama. Another band I have never heard of before so I have none of their previous work to compare this new release to. What strikes you first with Abramis Brama is that they sing in their native tongue. I have heard black metal and folk metal sung in the Swedish language but it's a refreshing change to hear it sung on a hard rock album. The music on Tusen år is classic hard rock with a big wedge of 70's influence running throughout.
The riffs are big, groovy and plentiful with a nice bluesy edge and at times ably accompanied by a harmonica. The vocals by frontman Ulf Torkelsson are very suited to the music with plenty of soul and rock and roll swagger. Tusen år is a solid album with plenty to enjoy throughout but it does get a bit repetitive and my attention had started to wander towards the end of the album but if you want a good retro sounding hard rock album then you can't go wrong here. 7/10