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Thursday, 24 May 2018

Reviews: Reef, Bleeding Through, Willow Child, Limb

Reef: Revelation (earMusic)

Reef were one of the shining stars of the start of that 'Cool Britannia' revolution in the mid-Nineties, before the Gallagher Brothers and Blur stole all the limelight. Their biggest hit Place Your Hands is still played on rock/alternative radio stations across the land to this but as with many of these bands that shone like stars they burned out and in 2000 called it a day. In 2010 they reformed headlining one of the early Steelhouse festivals, founding guitarist Kenwyn House left to pursue his excellent Goldray project and was replaced by Jesse Wood (son of Ronnie). So finally 10 years since their last record and 4 since their reformation Reef have come back, but have they come back brighter?

Well Revelation's opening title track has the four chord sleaze of Bon-era AC/DC and it kicks off some really killer soulful blues rocking, Just Feel Love has the monolithic psych rock tendencies of Wolfmother, How I Got Over is a gospel soul track that highlights the raw versatility of Gary Stringer, while Ball And Chain has hip shaking groove from Jack Bessant and Dominic Greensmith. You get the feeling that if Reef had taken the leap to sound like this back in the day then we'd be citing them as influence to The Temperance Movement and the current crop of blues/soul enthusiasts, perhaps even mentioning them in the same vein as The Faces (First Mistake is old Rod all over) or Humble Pie. 

However popular the band were back in the day on Revelation they sound more authentic and sincere than ever, even managing a country duet with Sheryl Crow with a measured confidence. There's very an album that lives up to it's title but Reef have come back with a real Revelation! 8/10 

Bleeding Through: Love Will Kill All (Sharptone Records)

I (Matt) have always been rather vocal in my dislike of most metalcore bands, the whole genre for me is a little stale but it's here that I will say that I have always loved Orange County band Bleeding Through, their effortless fusion of hardcore, death and black metal symphonics combined with their inspiring nature for anyone that can be considered an outsider, no matter what that means. Nearly 20 years into their career Bleeding Through have experienced great success but not without disharmony as a hiatus in 2014 could have been the end of the band. However now they are back and more vital than ever Love Will Kill All is a vicious, brash recording that is about an hour of aggression.

Just take a End Us which is a pummelling and full of hardcore breakdowns from the dense rhythm section of Ryan and Derek. Brendan Schieppati remains one of the best vocalists around blending hardcore barks, death metal roars and angst ridden cleans, equally the contribution of Marta Demmel behind the keys can't be understated from the gothic church organs on Darkness A Feeling I Know/Fade Into The Ash to the orchestral swathes on Set Me Free, she's always been one of the reasons why I love this band especially as here she also brings an extra voice to the euphoric Life.

Although Brian Leppke's tremolo guitar playing is something to behold. In 2014 this record wasn't on the horizon, however through the blood, sweat and tears comes the most important record in Bleeding Through's history, this is the one that solidifies their return to the battle. 8/10 

Willow Child: Paradise And Nadir (Stonefree)

Erlangen Germany must be a pretty good and happening spot that seems to be stuck in 1969 if Willow Child are anything to go by. These groovy cats are retro to the bone clad in paisley, wide brimmed floppy hats, loon pants their music is a heady (strange) brew of Cream, Zeppelin, Purple and The Doors it's organ drenched blues rocking with the band led by Eva's soulful Joplinesque and Flying V she's the transition between Javier (bass) and David's (drums) rhythm section to Flo's fluid lead guitar and Johnny's swirling Hammond organs. Think The Blues Pills and you're in the right area, the slow burning Little Owl is a proper strat for a record like this as everything fizzes with a analogue crackle as jazz comes in on Land Of Sloe but you get big Zeppelin riffs on Starry Road and pumping Purplisms on Beyond The Blue Fields. There's nothing particularly new here but that's the point with retro rock bands it's all been heard before but it's all about the grooves and Willow Child have got serious grooves. 7/10

Limb: Saboteurs Of The Sun (New Heavy Sounds)

London contingent Limb are three albums into their career and they are still reaching to infinity and beyond, every record they expand their musical horizons into new territories seemingly with the same guto for exploration as the USS Enterprise. Saboteurs Of  The Sun is their latest release and it does boldly go, if I had to describe what they sounded like it would be the result of Orange Goblin dropping acid and jamming out Hawkwind while high as kites. Curse Tablet is a the most straightforward track on the record with a thunderous riff getting the head banging and Rob Hoey's vocals a whiskey soaked snarl reminding me a lot of the sorely missed Viking Skull.

Like I said along with heavy there's a lot of swirling space prog with The Astronaut a Floydian dreamscape, 100 Years as sea shanty for space pirates, Limb have deliberately tried to add a more cosmic exploration to their stoner grooves and it works, from the twitching organ on Wych Elm to the battering Man On The Outside each track is a little conceptual sci-fi piece that will get the pits going wild when they play live. Saboteurs Of The Sun does sound like the title to a interplanetary heist movie (directors message me for that idea) but as an album it'll calm the jitters until the new Goblin record. 7/10

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