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Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Reviews: Maiden UniteD, Hercules Morse, Circle Of Silence, Petyr

Maiden UniteD: Empire Of The Clouds (Self Released)

Bassist Joey Bruers was asked by the Dutch Iron Maiden fanclub to do something special for a live show back in 2006. Born out of this was Maiden UniteD an unconventional Maiden tribute that sees popular Maiden songs re-interpreted for acoustic and classical instruments. The latest offering is their take on Maiden’s most recent opus The Empire Of The Clouds probably the longest Maiden song in existence I’ll be dammed if you will ever here the band play it live so this four part acoustically led version will have to suffice. Of course it’s not just any old cover the mix of acoustic instrumentation from bassist Joey Bruers (Up The Irons), guitarist Ruud Jolie (Within Temptation, For All We Know) drummer Mike Coolen (Within Temptation) and pianist Huub van Loon (The Ultraverse) some beautiful cello from Perttu Kivilaakso (Apocalyptica), bubbling Hammond from Thijs Schrijnemakers (Orgel Vreten) and excellent emotive vocals from Wudstik (For All We Know, Ayreon).

This mostly Dutch band have done the Irons proud with additional news reel audio and narration from Edward Reekers (Kayak, Ayreon) bringing you into the story of His Majesty’s Airship R101 in marvellous full bodied passion, the electric instrumentation is not missed as Maiden UniteD have the talent to pull off the same epic feel of the original. It also stands a tribute to the songwriting prowess of Iron Maiden (Bruce especially) as even without the full power of heavy metal behind it this song still has depth. This is two part EP with the studio version of the track on disc 1 while disc 2 contains the live recording from January 27th 2018 when the band performed at the Royal Theatre of Amsterdam: Carre, the live performance has as much brilliance as the studio version but is just a bit more raw it closes out with an almost balladic version of Killers which would make Paul Di’Anno hurl, but I think its adds a new edge to a oft-forgotten Maiden track. Empire Of The Clouds is a wonderful album for any Maiden fan that goes against the normal tribute boundaries. Up the Irons! 8/10

Hercules Morse: Hercules Morse (Self Released)

“Hercules Morse is the narcissistic bodybuilding younger brother of fictional Detective Endeavour Morse, he was lined up for his own book series but there are only so many books one can write about bodybuilding in rural Oxfordshire” Colin Dexter said this once in an interview and clearly this is where the Southampton band got their name from. This of course is a lie however there is a children’s book about an Old English Mastiff of the same name that is ‘as big as a horse' , if this was the inspiration for their name then it’s probably only slightly less weird than my flight of fancy. I’ve had to stretch the review of this record out a little as I could have easily said “sounds like Foo Fighters and QOTSA” which is probably the most honest statement so far, the foursome have taken most of their cues out of the more accessible combined efforts Dave Grohl and Josh Homme, the songs are zippy, musically muscular but rely much too heavily on repetitive choruses that do get a little boring as the album progresses.

Cuckoo is probably the best (worst) example of this with the title work taking up probably 70% of the lyrics. It’s not through laziness I don’t think, Hercules Morse are trying to write sing along anthems such as Monkey Wrench or No One Knows but what makes these songs so good is that they are the exception to the rule for the most part, Hercules Morse’s debut album is an entire record of these radio baiting rockers. I seem overly critical but I’m not, I saw the stoner/desert rock tag and I expected something a little more experimental. This is a little too safe for me. 6/10
Circle Of Silence: The Crimson Throne (Massacre Records)

German band Circle Of Silence return to the metal scene with their first album of heavy power metal since 2013. The Crimson Throne is a solid power metal record it's got the normal intro track to build the drama before Race To The Sky jumps out of your speakers with galloping rhythms and higher register vocals, it's an insight into what Circle Of Silence can do as a band with thick, tasty muscular riffs, a hint of thrash here and there with the solos coming from the speed metal school. It's a record that is competent and full of quality power metal tunes, don't come expecting to have your head blown off however if you're after some decent metal tunes like Into The Fire or Endgame check out The Crimson Throne. 7/10

Petyr: Smolyk (Outer Battery Records)

When you live in California the kind of psych-heavy proto-metal that Petyr play has always been associated with bearded, long hair skater dudes. It's the sort of music that begs for fat joints and half-pipes as the fuzzy rocking vibes pump out of your stereo. Petyr probably have closer links to the skateboarding community than other bands as they fronted by renowned street skater Riley Hawk who is the son of the the legendary Tony Hawk. When he's not shredding up a storm on the streets of Cali he's the frontman of Petyr his voice reverebing over the the stoner rock riffs brought by him and the band.

The echoes of Sabbath and Cali godfathers Earthless are clear to see with the songs full of elongated jams, swirling feedback, shamanic chants and guitar solo freak outs, Smolyk fully encapsulates the Cali skate scene through it's musical expression and a commitment to the stoner rock scene in general. Pair this album with the new offering from The Sword and you'll have the ultimate soundtrack to your next session (be it on the halfpipe or the hash pipe). 7/10 

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