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Saturday, 24 November 2018

Review: Beth Hart, Dan Patlansky, Cattle Decapitation, Greenleaf, Rifflord (Review By Paul H)

Beth Hart: Live At The Royal Albert Hall (Provogue Records)

A capacity audience hold their breath as a lone figure walks between them. Her usual gutsy, powerhouse voice for once fragile as a glass crystal. As Long As I Have A Song finishes. The crowd erupts and the smoky husky drawl of the singer from Los Angeles welcomes everyone like it’s a show in her front room. For the next two hours and 22 songs, Beth Hart delivers a compelling show that captivates. Hart’s voice has often been described as a ‘powerhouse’ and this release, captures during Hart’s show at the RAH on 4th May 2018 is exactly that. From the raucous to the calm reflection, Hart can do it all.

She reflects on her early career, struggling with undiagnosed bi-polar and mania in the 1990s, throws in numerous off the cuff remarks about her excitement at playing at the RAH (which sounds so genuine) and regularly refers to her bond with her family (her mother, deceased sister and husband get repeated mentions throughout) reflected in Trouble and Mama, This One’s For You. Supported by a crack band which includes the rhythm section of Bob Marinelli and Bill Ransom (bass and drums respectively) there is tonnes of blues, a large serving of soul and even some jazz going down during the evening. Bookended by As Long As I Have A Song and the intimacy and emotions of Caught Out In The Rain, this is Beth Hart at her most impressive. 8/10

Cattle Decapitation: Medium Rarities (Metal Blade Records)

The San Diego grindcore masters have always been a bit too much for me but this 23-track release is certainly one for the purists with a collection of pre-Human Jerky unreleased demos which includes vocalist Travis Ryan on guitar duty, obscure tracks and the previously unreleased bonus track Rotting Children For Remote Viewing that never happened from 2002’s To Serve Man. The band pull no punches on this release, as visceral and crushing in these tracks as they are on their other albums and whilst it is probably for extreme fans only, if you like your metal as brutal as it comes then Medium Rarities is likely to be an essential purchase. 7/10

Greenleaf: Hear The Rivers (Napalm Records)

Created as a side project in 1999, the current line-up of Greenleaf doesn’t bear much resemblance to the days when three members of the band were also ¾ of the band Dozer. Today only guitarist Tommi Holappa remains but the band continue to churn out their stoner 70s hard rock at an impressive rate. Hear The Rivers is the band’s seventh full release and the first to feature vocalist Arvid Hallagard, who replaced Arvid Jonsson. It’s a fine combination of Floyd psychedelia with the heavy riff and rumble of Birmingham legends Black Sabbath. There’s the inevitable fuzzy guitar sound on tracks such as Good Ol’ Goat and the expansive almost jazz exploration of In The Caverns Below. Closing the album with an eight-minute track, The Rivers Lullaby starts off with an Aerosmith riff before taking the listener on a journey of psychedelic delight, Hallagard’s voice working superbly with the rumbling bass of Hans Frohlich and Sebastian Olsson’s rolling drums. Dark and brooding, curious and entrancing, Hear The Rivers works on many levels. It’s raw and focused on the 1970s but it’s a fine listen. 7/10

Rifflord: 7 Cremation Ground/Meditation (STB Records)

Oozing Sabbath riffs and even stealing them in places and subtly burying them in the middle of their tracks, there is no doubt that Rifflord worship at the altar of the Sabs and Sleep, alongside the raging power of High On Fire. This album contains so many riffs that it’s amazing there are any left for anyone else to use. The crushing power of Holy Roller, the rampage of Dead Flower Child and the slow burning The Riffman Cometh (with a nod to the mighty Clutch, stolen riffs from Sabbath’s Hand Of Doom and even a quote featuring the riff lord himself Tony Iommi). The band who hail from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Minneapolis and Austin, Texas blast and bludgeon their way through 13 tracks and 41 minutes of heavy riffage and double bass kicking. It’s music designed to help you drive fast and drink beer. Worship at the doom drenched altar of the Rifflord now. 8/10

Dan Patlansky: Live 2018 (Self Released)

Recorded live at the Rockwood Theatre in Pretoria earlier this year and released to coincide with a UK tour, this is a rather feeble release which is likely to appeal to fans only. Four tracks which don’t sit comfortably with each other, rather disjointed in listing but a clear demonstration of the flair that this South African Blues guitarist possesses. With nine albums under his belt this is just a taster of his music and maybe the gateway to his catalogue of quality music. 6/10

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