Paul Rodgers: Free Spirit [Live] (Quatro Valley Records)
One of the foremost and influential bands in the hard rock movement, Free were active for barely five years, 1968 – 1973. During that time the band carved out numerous classic tracks that continue to receive airplay to this day. Fifty years on from the band’s formation, vocalist Paul Rodgers took to the road with a backing band of top quality musicians to relive and celebrate the band’s music. Rodgers of course is something of a legend; his voice remains as impressive at 68 years of age as it did in those halcyon days, hence his nickname ‘The Voice’.
This release was recorded at a sold out Royal Albert Hall in London in 2017 and is 76 minutes of Free classics, from All Right Now, The Hunter and My Brother Jake through to rarer tracks such as Love You So, Catch A Train and Magic Ship. Whilst I have never really enjoyed Free’s music, much of it is uncomfortably misogynistic, there is no debate about the quality of Rodgers voice on this album. With an audience that probably in the main matched or exceeded Rodgers age, this is an exercise in nostalgia, delivered with quality. The sing-a-longs are frequent, with All Right Now and Wishing Well two of many that are very well-supported. If you enjoy the sound of the early 1970s, then Free Spirit will be a worthy purchase. If you don’t know who Free were, then I suggest you rectify it with this album. 8/10
June 1974: Nemesi (Visionaire Records)
Italian writer and composer Frederico Romano was new to me. His June 1974 solo project has been around since 2009 and as the press release says, is a challenge to label. Nemesi is the latest release and comprises 49 minutes of instrumental tracks, which unlike his previous releases which feature a range from electro-pop to heavy metal with all stations in-between, focuses very much on the metal, in various shapes and styles.
Plenty of heavy synth and powerful drums provide an interesting progressive feel to the release, which contains a range of guest musicians from bands as diverse as Sadist, Shining, Ishan and Obituary. The heaviest chunk is without a doubt Creed, which is a powerful thrash-infused romp with background strings and features James Murphy (Obituary, Testament, Death amongst others). The whole album is strangely soothing, with the orchestral additions providing a layer and texture which enhances each song. If you fancy something a bit different then June 1974 may be worth a punt. 7/10
Mindreaper: Mirror Construction - A Disordered World (Black Sunset)
Hailing from Wetzlar, Hessen in Germany, Mindreaper formed in 2001 and play a combination of thrash and death metal. This is their first release since 2012’s Human Edge ( … to the Abyss) it’s certainly big and in your face thrash alright, with pounding smashing riffs and drums, aided by some decent guitar work. It’s the vocal delivery of Sebastian Rehbein that I struggled with; his Johan Hegg growl just doesn’t do it for me. It’s a decent enough record but nothing that is going to get the world talking about them. 5/10
Dead Man’s Boogie: Devil Nation (Housemaser Records)
Quite a curiosity this one. Dead Man’s Boogie are German and play a range of hard rock styles that is ferociously resistant to pigeon holing. With more than a nod to the grunge soaked rock of Alice In Chains, check out The Devil’s Rejects and Jekyll & Hyde for evidence. The band comprises Michael Dietrich on vocals and guitar, Volker Zaucker on guitar, bassist Phillip Trenkle and drummer Timo Hilzendegen and was formed in 2010. Whilst there are moments when Dietrich’s vocals wobble and struggle to stay in tune, the rampaging energy of the band drives them through. There’s something different and yet familiar about this band and Devil Nation is well worth a listen. 7/10