The Damned: Evil Spirits (Spinefarm)
I’ve only seen The Damned once live supporting Motörhead way back in 2009. My knowledge of the band was limited to their hits back in the 1980s; namely Eloise and Grimly Fiendish. However, at the recommendation of Krysthla vocalist Adi Mayes I picked up a copy of their 11th album and well, it is just superb. With original members Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible and bassist Paul Gray alongside longtime members Pinch and Monty Oxymoron, The Damned have released one of the albums of the year. A timeless album in so many senses, this release captures the original feel and power of the band whilst maintaining a fresh and current sound.
Sensible’s guitar work is fabulous, his riffing on Devil In Disguise, the angst driven soloing on the title track and the subtle undertones on the opening Standing On The Edge Of Tomorrow cannot be ignored. Oxymoron’s lush keyboards add depth and warmth whilst Vanian’s dark vocals are just imperious. Apparently, the album has been the band’s highest ever placed in the UK chart, and fully deserved it is. There is not a poor track on this release, but stand out tracks for me include Shadow Evocation, with its gothic feel and dramatic increase in pace as the track develops and the politically charged Look Left. This will feature in my top 20 without a doubt. It’s simply brilliant and I’ll finally get around to checking out more of the band’s back catalogue. 9/10
Jizzy Pearl: All You Need Is Soul (Frontiers Music)
Sleaze fans will be acutely aware of the band Love/Hate who pulled up a few trees in the early 1990s. The lead singer of Love/Hate, Jizzy Pearl returns with a new solo album All You Need Is Soul. Utilising the big drum sound of Dave Moreno (Puddle Of Mudd) and guitars from Love/Hate guitarist Darren Housholder, this is an impressive release. I can’t stand sleaze and even I found it perfectly listenable. Pearl goes a bit further mind you; “In my opinion this is the best record I’ve done since ‘Blackout In The Red Room.’ Now I’m not schooled sufficiently in this ghastly genre to make such sweeping and grandiose statements, but this record is fresh, contemporary and if you like a combination of raw vocal delivery and trashy guitar work then is no doubt most interesting.
The album kicks off at high tempo with You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone, a hard-edged groove underpinning Pearl’s high-pitched drawl. Householder’s guitar work throughout is notable, and completely effortless. The sleaze remains, with tracks like Comin’ Home To The Bone leaving little to the imagination and yours truly shaking his head; such is the typical filthy style and content expected. All You Need Is Soul has swagger and poise and at times it is effortlessly cool, such as the funk-fused title track and album closer Mr Jimmy. 7/10
Aura Noir: Aura Noire (Indie Recordings)
It’s been six years since the legendary black thrash of Norwegians Aura Noir released their last album. The band, whose seminal 1996 debut Black Thrash Attack remains a masterpiece of the genre. Aura Noir of course have links with many other cult outfits including Mayhem, Immortal, Satyricon, Dödheimsgard and Ulver and were the first band to join the Tyrant Syndicate Promotions label run by the Darkthrone duo Nocturno Culto and Fenriz in 2004.
The band remain the tight trio of Aggressor, Apollyon and Blasphemer. Aura Noire is a sharp, 32-minute ride, full of the dark brooding anger and rage that has long stoked the literary fires of the band’s themes. Throat ripping guitar work, battering drumming and guttural roaring vocals combine to provide an ominous reminder that in the world of blackened thrash, Aura Noir maintain the standard for a genre which is too often sloppy and disappointing. This release is neither of those. 8/10
Mother Trudy: Self Titled (Stickman Records)
Named after a Brothers Grimm German fairy tale, albeit one with a rather gruesome ending, Mother Trudy hail from Oslo and deliver 70s and 80s style hard rock with a modern twist. So, what’s the modern twist I hear you cry. Well, I suppose it is the fresh approach which allows a sparkle to a sound that is now embedded in the rock world. The four-piece don’t hold back, crashing their way through 35 minutes of heads down boogie and rock ‘n’ roll which is pleasantly enjoyable.
Andreas Restad has a solid, clear vocal whilst the twin guitars of Restad and Henrik Antonsson ensure that the driving pace never slows. It’s not original and it’s not mind-blowing but it is raucous and rowdy and sufficiently impressive to sit on the car stereo on a hot day whilst driving at high speed. Sometimes, that is all you need. 7/10