The Record Company: All Of This Life (Concord Records)
Over two years has passed since the debut album by Los Angeles power trio The Record Company, Give It Back To You arrived. As Matt said in his review in April 2016, we were alerted to this talented outfit when they supported Blackberry Smoke at The Forum in 2015. Last year I caught them at The Fleece in Bristol where they excelled in front of a sparse audience. Undeterred, the band have now released their second album, All Of This Life and it is another 45 minutes of quality blues orientated rock. The line up remains Chris Vos, lead vocals and smooth guitar; drummer Marc Cazorla and bassist Alex Stiff. Plenty of John Lee Hooker style blues, great use of the slide guitar and simple yet perfectly formed tunes make this an album that is well worth getting hold of. Foot stomping songs like Life To Fix and Make It Happen are balanced by the more measured The Movie Song and Goodbye To The Hard Life. All in all another quality release from a band who get better with age. 8/10
Theia: Ghost Light (WDFD Records)
This is the third release from Burton-On-Trent’s Theia, a three-piece who bring a blend of hard rock n’ roll. At times muscular (Mask Of The Day, No Crisis), at times gentle with a calmer blues soaked approach (The Revelator), Ghost Light is a solid slab of crashing guitars, soaring vocals and at times give the impression that they are much more than a three-piece. The band comprises Kyle Lamley on vocals and guitar, Paul Edwards on bass and vocals and drummer Jake Dalton who joined the band in 2016. On tour throughout the UK this summer, certainly a band worth checking out if you happen to be at a festival. Their brand of rock n’ roll is certainly pleasing enough. 6/10
Voodoo Diamond: Darkness Becomes It (Musicarchy Media)
Another three-piece, Voodoo Diamond are a London based outfit whose colours are nailed to the mast early on in opening track Black Ice. This is a band whose mix of influences include Killswitch Engage, Alter Bridge and Sevendust. There is plenty of chunky riffage here, tight and fast-paced drumming and clean rising vocals that interchange with rougher growls, and enough melody to attract those who may otherwise be put off. At times the band stray into Bullet For My Valentine territory, something that is never a good move in my book.
As the album progresses, tracks such as Deny move closer to the KSE blueprint and it becomes less interesting. That maybe because I’ve never been a fan of this style of metal, and While She Sleeps doesn’t make me like it any more with its cross over to FFDP and Disturbed country. I’m sure if you like that harmonised vocal then you may well enjoy this, and it certainly is well crafted, but I got bored half way through and unfortunately for Voodoo Diamond, turned it off. 5/10
Craft: White Noise And Black Metal (Season Of Mist)
One of many black metal bands to come from Sweden in the 1990s, Craft formed in 1994 and operated as Nocta until 1998 when they changed their name. Apparently, the band didn’t perform live until 2014, so legend built around them. White Noise And Black Metal is their first release since 2011’s Void, so it’s a bit of a welcome back. The Cosmic Sphere Falls opens the album in typically dramatic style, plenty of intense riffing and down tuned guitar work; this continues into Again, a soaring atmospheric piece which follows a steadier pace, the sheer size of the track compensating for the slower speed at times.
And so, it continues. Hauntingly evil, the duel guitar picking of John Sjölin and Joakim Karlsson, the demonic vocals of Nox and the driving bass of Alex Purkis all combine to make this a superb black metal release. From the opener, through Tragedy Of Pointless Games through to the huge closing White Noise, there isn’t a track on here which is anything short of excellent. In a year of some astonishingly good black metal releases, Craft has ensured that they remain in the premier league. 8/10