ASG: Survive Sunrise (Relapse Records)
ASG is a band probably most famous for their association with many MTV shows and their numerous boarding and surfing videos. It’s not a surprise when you hear the opening track on their first album since 2013’s Blood Drive. With a sound once described as a mix of the best of Kyuss and QOTSA, the appeal is obvious. It’s stoner rock, but with a punky edge that gives the band a bit of volume and girth. Execution Thirst has the kind of riff that would grab your attention wherever you were; it’s whether the rest of the package would maintain your focus.
The higher pitched clean vocals of Jason Shi sit comfortably alongside the CKY’s of this world although I don’t see ASG as natural compatriots. Up From My Dreams promises something different with some guttural screaming trading verses before Lightning Song finally gives you some thumping stoner grooves that the band are known for. Having been around for over 15 years, ASG don’t have anything to prove. Survive Sunrise is a solid release but for me it gets a little lost after about the fifth track.
Attention began to wander although the delicate desert sounds of Kubrick Colours, with its Crosby, Stills And Nash harmony snapped my focus back before the thunderous overture of God Knows We crashed over me like a wave. The more I listened to this album, the more conflicted I became about it. Tracks such as Heavy Scars work well, the fuzzy distortion adding heft. It just didn’t quite grab me in the way I might have expected. 6/10
Victorius: To The Death EP (Self Released)
Not to be confused with the German power metal outfit of the same name, Victorius hail from Dundee and are in their second spell, having initially existed from 2006-08 before plying their trade as Pariah until 2011. Reforming in 2016, To The Death is their first release for ten years and it is traditional UK style heavy metal with a power metal edge. Fast, melodic with the duel guitar work beloved of Iron Maiden et al. Although the band state that they are an old school thrash style band, I don’t really hear that but there is certainly some pace about them.
With three quarters of the original band joined by newbie Stewart Kennedy on rhythm guitar Victorius certainly possess some clout and tracks like Silver Bullet and the Powerslave/Seventh Son influenced nine-minute epic Rise From The Flames get the head nodding along. For an EP, this is value for money with 34 minutes of metal; you can pick it up for a measly £3 on their website. If you like heavy metal the way it should be played, then this is worth a punt. Join John Brandon, John Gibbons and Ryan Shepherd on their journey To The Death! 7/10
Lizzies: On Thin Ice (The Sign Records)
Lizzies are a four-piece female band from Madrid. The band have apparently played at some European festivals in recent years, including Germany (Metalheadz Open Air & Headbangers Open Air), Sweden (Muskelrock) and England (Live Evil). This is their second release and has a real drab 80s feel to it. It’s pretty routine stuff, with opener Like An Animal having as much bite as a dead hamster. Much like The Amorettes and Tequila Mockinbyrd, the band do the simple stuff well but don’t progress it any further. It may well appeal to those who like their rock completely unreconstructed, but after a couple of tracks I’d had enough. 4/10
Redneck Rampage: Caveman Chronicles (Redneck Rampage)
I’d assumed a band called Redneck Ramage would have hailed from the Deep South, but no, these guys come from Estonia. Formed in 2007, the five-piece deliver Pantera style slicing Southern metal with a huge boot print across your face. How vocalist Karl Nagel manages to sound like a member of the Texas Hippie Coalition is beyond me but he does it well. Crashing riffs, thundering soaring tracks and high intensity all combine to make Caveman Chronicles, their sophomore release, an interesting album.
With the essence of Pantera intersecting with heavier Down down tuned riffs, such as the massive My Mountain, Caveman Chronicles improves with every listen. With Ludrek Könnussaar laying down some tasty riffs, ably supported by rhythm guitarist Allan Arjokesse and the engine room of bassist Enriko Tooding and drummer Martin Jűssi, Redneck Rampage can do hard and heavy but also hit the sensitive balance of a medium paced tune as demonstrated in The Light. It’s good stuff from start to finish. 8/10