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Thursday, 14 June 2018

Reviews: Don Airey, Subsignal, Infared, RSO (Reviews By Paul H)

Don Airey: One Of A Kind (earMusic)

One of the unsung heroes of the hard rock scene, Don Airey needs no introduction. If you don’t know who he is then you really need to brush up on your rock history. As well as keyboard player for Deep Purple for many years, taking over the late great Jon Lord’s place, Airey has played with some of the biggest bands in rock. You know that huge swathe of keyboards at the start of Ozzy’s Mr Crowley? Yeah, that’s Airey. Throw in Rainbow, Sabbath, Whitesnake, Gary Moore and many others and you get the picture.

So, Airey, in between the huge tours with Purple has found time to deliver his fifth solo album, One Of A Kind, and it’s a solid slab of classic rock that features Carl Sentance on vocals, Simon McBride on guitar, Laurence Cottle on bass and drummer Jon Finnigan on drums. Unsurprisingly the album is thick with the traditional keyboard sound which personifies Airey’s work, with Sentance hitting the Gillan high-pitches with ease. Sentance has a decent pedigree of course, from his work in Persian Risk through to Nazareth and he delivers a fine vocal performance. McBride is another guitar hero in the making, and of course is currently a member of Snakecharmer.

The title track is one of the highlights of the album, a mighty majestic piece that builds with strings adding to the AOR feel. Children Of The Sun is one of the heavier numbers, and has Purple stamped all over it. A fast paced, free flowing track, Sentance works his vocals hard; the interplay between Airey and McBride subtle and sweet. The bonus edition gets you four live tracks; the best of these being a riotous Pictures Of Home. This is an album for the classic rock fan, and if you like your rock with large banks of Hammond organ and quality guitar work then it is worth picking up a copy. 7/10

Subsignal: La Muerta (Gentle Art Of Music)

Having formed as a side project to Sieges Even, Subsignal is now an established and popular band, which consists of original members Arno Menses (vocals) and guitarist Markus Steffen, long term bassist Ralf Schwager and more recently keyboard player Marcus Maichel and drummer Dirk Brand. La Muerta is the fifth release by the band, and very pleasant it is too. Combining the best in progressive rock, metal and even pop, with an AOR feel that isn’t riddled with the fromage which invariably plagues other AOR outfits, this is an album that should appeal to fans of Marillion, Yes and The Pineapple Thief. 

Instrumental passages display an emotive and intricate style which I admit, took several plays to appreciate; meanwhile, Menses’ vocals are crystal clear, smooth as honey and easy on the ear. The title track is captivating, the acoustic instrumental Teardrops Will Dry In Source Of Orig beautiful whilst The Bells Of Lyonesse is possibly one of the most perfect AOR tracks you will ever hear. An impressive release which gets better after every listen. 8/10

Infrared: Saviours (Self Released)

So, back in the 1980s in Ottowa, Canada, four teenagers were intent on making it in the fledgling thrash scene. Fully influenced by the Big 4, the band failed before their chance came. Scroll forward to 2014 and three of those hopeful young men, now older and wiser, reunited for Infrared’s second assault. Debut release No Peace completed, the band, Kirk Gidley on guitar, Armin Kamal on guitar and vocals, Alain Grouix on drums and new bassist Mike Forbes moved onto sophomore release Survivors. So far so good … but then of course, so what! 

Well, honestly, this is a routine piece of thrash metal which certainly pays homage to the 1980s Big 4, although mainly Megadeth and Metallica, and has a huge slab of countrymen Anvil included as well. The tracks are monstrous in composition, huge chunky riffs and thundering drumming is usually fine with me, but I do need a vocalist that can deliver and here there is a problem, Kamal’s groaning vocal is a weak spot of some magnitude and sadly detracts massively from the solid thrashing speed which powers through tracks such as All In Favour, Project Karma and The Fallen. A shame that an album with some promise is marred in this way. Sorry. 5/10

RSO: Radio Free America (BMG)

The acclaimed (by who remains questionable) duo of former Bon Jovi Richie Sambora and former Alice Cooper guitarist Orianthi, RSO, released their genre-spanning musical project Radio Free America earlier this month. With Sambora in control, there was little chance that this was going to be a ball breaking head splitting release, and it really fucking isn’t. 15 duet tracks that encompass elements of rock, blues, pop, R&B and country, this is just horrible in every way. You know that bland pop which gym classes seem to have on endless repeat? Yep, some of this rhino crap would fit right in there. 

Sure, it’s slick, it’s glossy and has about as much soul as a paper plate. One Night Of Peace invokes a children’s choir, which is akin to sticking needles in your ears whilst the Sonny and Cher cover of I Got You Babe provokes the gag reflex and nothing else. They may be talented virtuoso guitarists, but holy shit, this is dreadful. I’m sure that music for mothers is a thing – the equivalent of dad rock maybe? All I know is that Stief, who should have reviewed this, will get something very nasty in his sleeping bag at Bloodstock because of this. 2/10

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