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Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Reviews: Spiders, Kalmah, Hamerex Jari Tiura (Reviews By Paul)

Spiders: Killer Machine (Spinefarm Records)

Down and dirty rock n’ roll from Gothenburg is the name of the game with Spiders’ third album, the fabulous Killer Machine. Full of fuzzy stomping riffs, fast paced tempo, neat guitar and the stunning vocals of Anne Sofie Hoyles. It’s inevitable that comparisons with fellow rockers Blues Pills will be made, with Hoyles voice reminiscent of Elin Larsson. Spiders are much more straight forward and less psychedelic although it’s fair to make a comparison with similar influences. Spiders sound sits slap bang in the 1970s. One glance at the album cover and band photo and you’ll see that the association is reasonable. Although it’s pure rock n’ roll, there is a myriad of styles such as Like A Wild Child with its pure pop chorus and almost disco swagger, the darker title track, the biker rock of Swan Song and to prove me wrong, a psychedelia breakdown on So Easy. The Blues melting Don’t Need You shows a mellower side to the band including John Hoyles delicious guitar work. This is a real grower of an album which improves on every play. A wonderful release. 8/10

Kalmah: Palo (Spinefarm Records)

Finnish Melodic death metal outfit Kalmah’s eighth album is three quarters of an hour of Amon Amarth and Children of Bodom wrapped up neatly into a visceral package that illustrates why the band sit alongside Bodom and Wintersun in terms of status within the metal scene in their homeland. The guitar work is intense throughout; World Of Rage echoes Wintersun in terms of speed, style and delivery. Opener Blood Ran Cold is full on Amon with Pekka Kokko’s Hegg-like vocals. There is plenty of melody throughout although the style changes from Viking to thrash to melodic death as it progresses.

Antti Kokko’s lacerating shredding is complimented by a sweet undertone of keyboards whilst the rampaging drumming of Janne Kusmin maintains the pace. This is superbly evidenced on Take Me Away, the interplay of guitar and keys integral to the song. Whilst the pounding and roaring is all well and good, there is a slight bit of repetition towards the tail of the album, and in the same way that I sometimes find Wintersun overpowering, there are times when the sheer intricacy overwhelms you. Having said that, Through Shallow Waters is a stunning track, combining about five different styles in just over four minutes. I can’t argue with the technical quality and at times the desire to bang that head is irresistible. 7/10

Hamerex: The Abyss EP (IX Music)

The first in an EP trilogy, The Abyss features two brand new songs by traditional heavy metal band Hamerex alongside new recordings of two older tracks. Hamerex have been around for over 10 years and have experienced several line-up changes but have also released several albums and EPs during this time. Recorded at Laurel House Studios in Wakefield, the songs sit comfortably side by side and having not been familiar with their catalogue, it’s fair to say that its impossible to differentiate which tracks are new.

The music is solid, heavy and singer Steve Blower can certainly hold a tune. The one down side is Crucifixion which features the inferior vocals of bassist Marc Hood, which lets a fine song down slightly. With some tasty riffs, Hamerex avoid the dull plod that so many of the current wave of NWOBHM influenced outfits churn out, with reworked The Dark Tower, a frantic thrashing beast which one would imagine is a beast in the live arena. With elements of Maiden, Priest but also the heavier side of things through Metallica and even Slayer, The Abyss should appeal to all metal fans. 7/10
Jari Tiura: King Of Lions (AOR Heaven)

In case you didn’t know, and I admit I was amongst them, Jari Tiura was the singer for the Michael Schenker Group between 2004 – 2007 when the band released Tales Of Rock N Roll and toured Europe, the States and of course, Japan. Prior to that the Finn had been vocalist for power metal outfit Snakegod and currently sings for both Stargazery and Century LostKing Of Lions is his debut solo release, and has an AOR stamp throughout. To be honest, the songs are a little bland and unimaginative at times, with tracks such as London and Human steady rather than exciting.

Musically there is little to criticise; it has huge swathes of synths, sufficient riffs and hooks which ensure that you can remember the tracks, and it is all perfectly played thanks to Yrjö Ella on lead guitars, Jaan Wessman on bass and drums and the keyboards of Jussi Kulomaa, Jani Kemppinen and Mikko Kangasjärvi. Unfortunately, there is little to really fire the imagination. Tiura’s voice doesn’t work on all the tracks, and falls short in some, such as the ponderous ballad Lion of Judah which is one of the weakest songs I’ve heard in a long time. This was a struggle to get through, and I’m afraid it does little to hold the interest. 5/10

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