Lucifer: Lucifer II (Century Media Records)
Lucifer is Swedish/German occult rock band that were formed out of the breakup of The Oath with singer Johanna Sadonis hooking up with Gaz Jennings if Cathedral (now Death Penalty) and a couple of others. After their debut there was a spell of line up shuffling with Sadonis the only remaining member of that debut line up. This follow up has been a few years in digestion but now the bewitching Johanna has returned to the retro styled rocking of Lucifer, backed by Entombed's Nicke Andersson (drums/guitar) and Alexander Mayr (bass) and three revolving guitarists.
Lucifer II expands on the sound laid down on the first album but brings in a bit more psych and folk giving them a wider range of styles to play with. It all kicks off with California Man a snorting hog riding pastiche of Easy Rider, it's the kind of music that will get you into the mindset of Henry Fonda riding that hog in the desolate desert, from there though the psych is ramped up for Dreamer while Phoenix has the occult rocking of BOC. Johanna's vocals are what give Lucifer their magic on their fuzzed up cover of Dancing With Mr D she's go impetus and passion, Reaper On Your Heels and Before The Sun is where she can rub a bit of soul on it for the better. As I said it maintains what Lucifer set out to do on their debut but it adds new expression which will see the band comfortably into their second incarnation. 8/10
The Paradox Twin: The Importance Of Mr Bedlam (White Star Records)
White Star Records once again reiterate their place as the best up and coming prog label in the UK, encouraging all of their acts to integrate and play on each other's records both label co-founder John Mitchell (producing) and artist Kim Seviour (vocals on Moonblood and Planeta) appear on this new record from Berkshire band The Paradox Twin. The Paradox Twin is the creation of Danny Sorell who has more than hint of one Messer Wilson albut him, the band are cinematic, prog act with alternative soul who effortlessly blend rock, metal, electronica, ambient and all other manner of genres for these soundscapes.
Sorell explains the concept behind the record "(it's) influenced and inspired by conspiracy theories and the idea that humans on Earth are being controlled by extra-terrestrial beings" so the album is built around long sprawling instrumental passages, with emotive vocals added as another instrument rather than a focal point. As I've mentioned there's a Steven Wilson influence that runs rife throughout the record especially when they're transcending genres on the galactic sized Earthbound, but there's also some Opeth darkness that permeates strongly. Ranging from 6 to 10 minutes the 7 (yes 7) songs on this record are lushly arranged with the soaring guitars and keys an obvious highlight on the beautiful Moonblood.
The current line up of The Paradox Twin is Danny Sorrell (vocals/guitar/keys) supported by Leland Freeman (guitar), Diane Fox (bass), Rob McGregor (drums) and The Importance Of Mr Bedlam is a fine album of expressive progressive music, another spectacular release from White Star Records! 9/10
We Are Sentinels: S/T (Saol)
Ummm what the heck is this? I found myself asking this question a few times while listening to this record, it's not metal, lets make that clear. We Are Sentinels is the project created by composer/producer Jonah Weingarten who provides keyboards, piano, percussion, orchestration, notice the lack of guitars, bass etc? That's because there aren't any, the entire album is classical music but played with the epicness of heavy metal, contributing to that epic feel is We Are Sentinels other half, the amazing vocals of Matt Barlow, who probably has one of best voices ever to contribute to an album. Life, Death, Rebirth is a beautiful example of this with Barlow at his most mournful and that's where this record loses it's way Barlow is best when he's using his harder edged metal vocals in conjunction with his crooning, here he's not utilized as much as he could be, with Battle In Winter the obvious exception. Unfortunately it means that much of this album sounds a little like a budget "rock" musical or when a band does those "with orchestra" shows. We Are Sentinels is ok if you're looking for something a little different or if you're a Barlow fanatic then try it, I'm not convinced. 5/10
Haunt: Burst Into Flames (Shadow Kingdom Records)
Haunt are a band that have a bit of a challenge ahead of them, the Fresno California based band is the work of one man Beastmaker's Trevor William Church who sings, plays guitar and bass, but with White Wizzard now on permanent hiatus it might be time for Haunt to take over the mantle of the USA's premier exponent of NWOTHM stylized by those glory days of British metal. Haunt certainly have all of the requite hooks, the galloping basslines, dual leads and analogue production it's Maiden, Priest, Lizzy and anything else from that era, with one man who clearly loves this style of music and is using it as another avenue away from his stoner/doom day job, tracks such as My Mirage and Wanderlust really hark back to those days and give you the confidence that Haunt could easily step into the void left by White Wizzard. Burst Into Flame has the rawness of the High Speed GTO record and while it's not perfect or anything new, but it's NWOTHM just crank it up! 7/10