Yes: Fly From Here - Return Trip (Pledge Music)
The original release of Fly From Here was the the first record to feature Oliver Wakeman (keyboards) and Benoit David (vocals-replacing Jon Anderson), the record was produced by Trevor Horn who himself is a Yes alumni and was a very good album. Since then they have had a new vocalist, Jon Davidson (of Glass Hammer) who remains the singer to this day, he appeared on Heaven & Earth which was the last album to feature Yes founding member Chris Squire. So with Squire now sadly deceased and the band celebrating their 50th anniversary and as Yes have done numerous times they have relied upon their massive amount of previous members to celebrate this anniversary.
They have chosen to re-release Fly From Here with Trevor Horn re-recording Benoit David's vocals and remixing the album so with Horn on vocals this is a performance from the line up that performed on the Drama, who are for those who don't know are Trevor Hor (lead vocals), Steve Howe (guitar), Chris Squire (bass), Geoff Downes (keyboards), Alan White (drums), so you've got the precision rhythm section of Squire and White one last time driving the excellent five part title track and the dramatic Life On A Film Set. Along with new vocals from Horn (which are very good as you'd expect) there is one new song Don't Take No For An Answer, which features Steve Howe on vocals and a full length version of Hour Of Need which is classic Yes.
It's a good album and as Horn puts it a "real labour of love" originally the album was available at the Yes UK fan convention and now it's ready to be picked up by the public at large. It's a triumphant celebratory release for this legendary band with one of their most popular line ups. 8/10
Bulletboys: From Out of the Skies (Frontiers Records)
Formed in 1988 smack bag in the middle of the LA glam scene, back then they were compared to Aerosmith and even Van Halen as they were more rooted in the blues and 70's hard rock roots than the flash in the pan, style over substance acts that were all over MTV at the time. Bulletboys membership came from King Kobra and Ratt and they have been plugging away since those heady days and throughout their existence have featured two ex-G'N'R members Steven Adler and DJ Ashba. The guitarist and bassist Nick Rozz and Chad MacDonald have been in the band for about 8 years, but drummer Anthony "Tiny" Biuso is new boy in the band but they all meld together on what is the band's eleventh.
They are led, as Bulletboys have always been, by Marq Torien whose vocals are the cornerstone of the band, it's fireworks from Apocalypto which is a rocking start to the record that actually brings to mind Velvet Revolver, it's not Bulletboys dwelling in the past, they seem to have adapted their 80's sound for the present day, D-Evil is a dirty garage rocker and features Jesse Hughes of The Eagles Of Death Metal (but less said about him at the moment the better). This record rocks hard but as I've said it's got a modern sound of Foo Fighters but also the classic blues rocking of Tesla and Winger, it's melodic rock but not as we know it. 7/10
Yossi Sassi & The Oriental Rock Orchestra: The Illusion Of Choice (Self Released)
The self proclaimed 'Pioneer Of Oriental Rock' returns with his new record with his band the grandiose Oriental Rock Orchestra. The Illusion Of Choice is a record about just that, trying to define what choice actually is and how it determines us as human beings, it is in the bands words "an open album that was recorded open heatedly next to the open sea on a secluded Island, by a group of musicians who broke away from everything for a few days and tried to really choose what they feel and want to do". Sassi's 8 piece band are really used to great effect on Reveal you can hear the metallic leanings of Sassi's past (in Orphaned Land) with 7-String guitar, bass and drums rocking heavy and proggy.
However it's when the flutes, percussion, strings and Sassi's smorgasboard of stringed instruments all work together on Maktoob for the quintessential Oriental progressive rock track, it's like the OL of old with the backing chants used an instrument in itself. The Illusion Of Choice is a primarily instrumental record but does feature vocals from Israeli singer/actor Ester Rada on the beautiful Choice and from Ross Jennings (Haken) on Reveal the heaviest track on this record, if you want some Middle Eastern promise that is both beguiling, technically gifted and mostly a very entertaining, if you have a choice choose to pick up this record as your ears will thank you. 8/10
Blackwater Holylight: S/T (Riding Easy)
Portland band Blackwater Holyland are sonically and emotionally heavy, their swirling psychedelic, gothic garage riffs and haunted distant vocals are captivating, with some Krautrock, indie and folk rock. Kicking the record off with huge bar chords and spacious drumming Willow is a slow build into a a jangling surf rock final third with a syrupy bass holding the music together like a musical flapjack.
This four piece comprise of vocalist/bassist Allison Faris, guitarist/ vocalist Laura Hopkins, drummer Cat Hoch and synth player Sarah McKenna, forming out of the ashes of Faris' former band they've adopted a multitude of sounds from the sparseness of Barrett led Floyd on the creepy Babies, the odd pop of Sunrise which morphs into a a feedback driven psychedelic freakout with McKenna's space age synths.
It's a sonic collage of noise with all of the songs having the heaviness I talked about now but they are not heavy in a metallic sense but as they slither along built on the leviathan soundscapes this debut record can be disconcerting, nausea inducing but also get that head of yours banging. It's an uneasy listen at times and if you like your music unpredictable and adventurous then Blackwater Holylight could be one of your albums of 2018. 8/10