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Monday, 25 June 2018

Reviews: Orange Goblin, Tremonti, Trauma, Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters (Reviews By Paul H)

Orange Goblin: The Wolf Bites Back (Spinefarm Records)

Over 20 years into their career, the London power house that is Orange Goblin shows no sign of slowing up. In fact, with this latest release the band have hit an even higher gear and are demonstrating the adage that there is no replacement for experience and quality. It’s been four years since the excellent Back From The Abyss pummeled our ears, and since that time the band has put a lot of effort into getting their ninth album spot on. The good news is that The Wolf Bites Back is as good as anything the band has ever released. Retaining their earthy biker stoner approach, there is also substantial variation which supports the band’s desire to expand their sound whilst retaining their roots. Opener Sons Of Salem is classic Goblin; gnarly, gritty and fast paced with Ben Ward spitting the lyrics out. Move forward to the title track, a stomping head banger of a tune, down and dirty, displaying the band’s Motörhead style raucous approach.

Ward acknowledged that this album is designed to be played in the live arena, and the stripped back feel should work brilliantly. With Phil Campbell making a guest appearance there is a real raw feel going on, Joe Hoare’s guitar spewing out filthy riffs for fun whilst the anchor of the band, Chris Turner on drums and bassist Martin Millard are tight and solid, providing the platform from which the band build. Renegade is fast and furious, Swords Of Fire an anthem, whilst the funk and groove of Ghost Of The Primitives, a near seven minute thunder blast, expands the band’s repertoire. The punk feel of Suicide Division will incite chaos when the band hit ‘go’ during their November tour with COC; a rampaging three-minute old school rage which never drops below 100mph. It’s all fantastic stuff. 

The smouldering blues of The Stranger provides a welcome breather from the frenetic pace and allows the band to demonstrate a quality in their playing, Ward delivering a smoky husky vocal style, and Hoare displaying some beautiful guitar work. Burn The Ships is another foot stomper, In Bocca Al Lupo is an instrumental piece which changes pace and allows the band to demonstrate some tasty playing whilst closer Zeitgeist is a fitting closing song, with an epic feel. As always, Orange Goblin deliver quality in spades and this is a worthy addition to their catalogue. See you down the front in November. 9/10

Tremonti: A Dying Machine (Napalm Records)

The fourth album from Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti, and his first concept album. Accompanied by his trusty colleagues Eric Friedman and Garrett Whitlock, the album is accompanied by a full-length novel that Tremonti has co-authored with John Shirley. A Dying Machine follows on from 2016’s Dust and at 61 minutes is quite a commitment to listen to. As with all Tremonti releases, the album is slick, polished and extraordinarily well produced (Michael Baksette is once again at the helm, having produced the previous three albums along with some of Alter Bridge’s work). The album opens strongly, Bringer Of War and From The Sky both big high powered hard rock songs with Tremonti’s superb guitar work at the fore; the title track maintains the thunderous sound, the clean vocals akin to Tremonti’s usual partner Myles Kennedy. 

As with all Tremonti’s solo work, the blueprint doesn’t stray far from the day job and whilst there is a heavier edge, it could still be Alter Bridge. Throw Them To The Lions is another accelerating beast, Whitlock’s drumming clean and solid. At 61 minutes A Dying Machine is quite an undertaking and it does contain a lot of quality songs; but here’s the problem I always have with Tremonti. It’s all so bloody prescribed. It’s fiery, it’s hard and heavy and anthemic in every sense. And it’s just a little boring. Nothing really grabs you hard and shakes you. The Day When Legions Burned is a stomper but As The Silence Becomes Me had me stifling a yawn. Good, but not great. 7/10

Trauma: As The World Dies (Rivet Records)

One of the original Bay Area thrash outfits, Trauma lay low for three decades after their debut Scratch And Dream before returning in 2015 with second release Rapture And Wrath. Album number three arrived in the shape of As The World Dies, an album that stays true to their signature sound. Produced by guitarist Joe Fraulob and mixed by Juan Urteaga (Machine Head, Testament, Exodus, Ted Nugent) As The World Dies is ten tracks of solid, thrash metal which unfortunately struggles from opening track The Rage mainly due to founder and vocalist Donny Hillier’s screeching delivery. Musically it is competent and listenable, which it should be with a line-up that comprises long time drummer Kris Gustofson, bassist Greg Christian, (a founding member and integral part of Testament) and guitarist Joe Fraulob, a former member of Danzig whilst Steve Robello played guitar in Dublin Death Patrol. 

Trauma will forever be connected by the fact that one of their early members was the legendary Cliff Burton and in 2013 in the film Birth School Metallica Death: The Inside Story Of Metallica, legendary Bay Area thrash singer Steve “Zetro” Souza of Exodus recalled seeing Trauma as a music-hungry teenager, describing them as possible for the “next big thing”. Trauma never realised that potential and this album will not change that situation at all. Hillier’s vocals are just not very good;

The title track for example, has him reaching for notes in a similar style to Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson, and whilst at times he hits the high notes, too often the weaknesses are exposed. Gun To Your Head sounds like it was stolen from the Maiden cutting room floor and as the album progresses, so the songs faded from memory. 5/10

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters: Come & Chutney (Riff Rock Records)

Yum! an enticing album title with which to draw you in. The over amped down tuned fuzzy tie-dye stoner hits you hard from the off. The London band (which includes former Dopefight front man Owen Carty) have been turning heads on the UK’s burgeoning underground scene not least because of their combination of tie-dye and corpse paint, but with an apparently staggeringly heavy live show that has everyone who sees them agreeing that they’re about to become huge. Probably. Tracks like Cojones Feos and the lovely opening tune Doggy Bag Of Slurry tell you all you need to know. Booming bass, filthy raw vocals and gritty riffs all combine for a ride which requires a magic carpet, a bong and some rainbow coloured knit wear. You’ll either love it or hate it. The album features several guest appearances including guest vocals from Chantal Brown of Vodun, guest guitar solo from Gary Harkin of Ten Foot Wizard, and guest keyboards by Thom Carter of Riddles on closing track Psychedelic Hallucinogenic Vagrancy. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters exist solely to leave the listener with one thought, “that was some weird shit.” Get on board and enjoy your trip man. 6/10

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