Skindred: Big Tings (Napalm)
I wasn't so fussed on De 'Dreds last record Volume, I thought it was a little bit too ambitious aiming the songs at the more mainstream arena than sticking to their roots. Happily it seems that Benji Webb and his motley crew noticed this as Big Tings opens with the fuzzed up title track which has the offbeat guitar riffs of Mikey Dermus (and a lead break) it's a rocker that sets things El Fuego, it's also followed by the groove laden That's My Jam which has great use of Benji's harsher vocal and Machine is a pretty heavy rocker that breaks into a AC/DC-like sing along coda and a duck walking solo. Three bonafide balls out rockers to start a record is a fine welcome to the party (Richter) from the Newport massive, storming riffs, booty rocking grooves from Daniel Pugsley (bass) and Arya Goggin (drums) as Webb is the ideal master of ceremonies.
I will say that there is quite a bit more of the reggae/ska/dub influences on this one. Tell Me has that electronic dub cutting through what is quite a tender ballad and Last Chance features some great bar spitting at its heart. It's the first trough after a series of peaks, but this is Skindred and the party doesn't stop with Loud And Clear relying on the reggae style as Goggin gives the percussion a good knocking. As with every Skindred album it's a cornucopia of styles in one big melting pot of bouncy fun drawing more from their early years rather than there more recent classic rock stylings, this is Skindred sounding dangerous again, unafraid to take risks and shake the system. 8/10
Godsmack: When Legends Rise (Spinefarm)
Godsmack are a band have been around for 20 year, in that time they have been nominated for four Grammys, played all over the world, were name checked in a Bowling For Soup song and have their own day in their native Boston. Frontman Sully Erna has ably led his band through the turbulence of the music industry, When Legends Rise is the bands first foray into a more hard rock influenced sound as Erna was always a little miffed at them constantly being lumped in with 'heavy metal' bands so here they have brought more of a melodic sound that means that due to the gritty vocals of Erna the songs would fit well on anything released by Shinedown and bands of their ilk.
The sing along choruses such as the one that takes up the majority of Let It Out are made for arenas and sound huge on this record, they are actively trying to aim towards a wider audience and who can blame them when they've been doing the rounds for 20 years, they haven't fully left the metal behind though as the title track has distorted rhythms and solo, although Bulletproof is much lighter faire. When Legends Rise is probably a semi-prophetic title as Godsmack look to broaden their appeal outside of what they have been known for before, it's a strong record full of driving heavy rock. 8/10
Riversea: The Tide (Self Released)
Riversea is the collaboration between Brendan Eyre and Marc Atkinson, The Tide is their second album and is voraciously awaited by the progressive rock community, their debut was released in 2012 and a follow up has been anticipated since then. Press play and you'll understand why, The Tide is a magnificent album taking the best of David Gilmour fronted Floyd and H fronted Marillion (The Design) it's emotive, beautifully realised progressive rock that effortlessly fuses virtuoso playing with intelligent songwriting. Layers of acoustic guitars, plaintive pianos and the touching vocals all combine with ardent striding guitars and pulsing synths, the first two tracks are about as far apart as you can get the title track is an analogue folk influenced number featuring Olivia Sparnenn Josh of Mostly Autumn but Shine has a thumping industrial sound that breaks into the beautiful chorus.
The lyrical content of this record is dark with Blasphemy the first of three tracks that comment on the current socio-political climate, it's a dark number led by just a piano with the guitar darting in and out, it's these rallying cries of the maltreated and innocent that brings to mind the most recent album from Marillion as they too deal with these heavy issues with a compassion as the orchestral sounds flare up the guitar gets frisky as well before the sounds fade ready for the next track to envelope you with an affecting darkness, there's an overall sadness here you can hear it at its most raw on the magnificent Goodbye My Friend a poignant number dedicated to Andy Sneddon and Liam Davidson (Mostly Autumn) both of who were friends of Atkinson whose vocals are at times truly beautiful combining with the keys of Eyre for the 'true' sound of Riversea, they have Alex Cromarty taking drums and Dan Clements on bass this core four piece are augmented by a multitude of guitarists all leaving their mark without the songs breaking down into aimless showboating.
Every song on this album is vital, nothing can be ignored it's one of the most arresting records I've heard this year, 55 minutes of perfection, if you're a fan of emotionally charged progressive music than go with The Tide I promise that much like the ebb and flow of the water you will return again and again. 10/10
On Parole: Caught On Tape (Ofelia)
This is some greasy haired, garage inclined rump shaking rock n roll. Caught On Tape is the second album from these Swedish leather clad rockers have a dirty punk snarl that takes you to those halcyon days of CBGB where you could regularly see The Stooges and the MC5 bashing it out on the stage. On Parole have taken those choppy, jarring guitar riffs and attitude and brought them into 2018 on the back of continuing Swedish retro revival.
The album has a mixture of styles about it in that there's a psychedelic swirl on Why Do You Want Me So Bad, a glam stomp on Read My Lips, some outlaw country for Parasite Blues however On Parole excel when they stick to the flash bang wallop garage rocking of Faster, Faster! Double Tricked or the sleazy Give Me A Kiss. It's only on the closing Lazy Days that they really change their sound into that of a campfire torch song. On Parole have been truly Caught On Tape here and it begs for playback! 7/10