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Thursday, 20 December 2012

Reviews: Absolva, Pig Iron, Dave Kilminster

Absolva: Flames Of Justice (Rocksector/Code 7)

When a band splits because a member leaves there is usually some trauma, when a band splits and the member who leaves is your brother you might be forgiven for years of feuding and backbiting (e.g. The Kinks, Oasis etc.) however Chris Appleton didn't do this after his bassist brother Luke left to join former tour mates Iced Earth, he put their band Fury UK on indefinite hiatus and then set about forming a new band with Fury UK's drummer Martin McNee adding a bassist and a second guitarist. They also adopted a new sound stepping away from the proggy, power metal sound of Fury UK and replacing it with dual guitar harmonies of classic British heavy metal. This is an album imbued with the sound of Priest fighting with Maiden while being fronted by the gritty Mustaine-like vocals of Chris. Speaking of Chris his and Tom Atkinson's guitar interplay weave a very impressive tapestry with lots dual rundowns and some very killer duelling guitar solos, with Martin McNee's drums and Tom Date's bass all adding to the metal attack. Things kick off with Flames Of Justice, Hundred Years and Code Red show the band firing on all cylinders. There is a break in proceedings with the acoustic State Of Grace before the heaviest track on the album From Beyond The Light explodes. This is a great modern metal album that takes influences from classic metal bands. 8/10

Pig Iron: IV (Cherry Red Recordings)

Always a band that seem to be lumbered in the underground Pig Iron have released three solid albums of heavy blues based rock. With their last offering Blues + Power = Destiny they showed more of their blues influence than on their heavier first albums. With this fourth album they have switched fully and have become a fully blues rock band. With this (almost) new direction they also have a new guitarist in the shape of Dan Edwards from former label mates and protégés Sons Of Merrick. He brings a very bluesy guitar vibe and provides swampy electric and clean acoustic playing to the songs as well as some great solos and riffs. The key sound of Pig Iron however has always been the rumbling bass lines of Hugh Gilmour and the ravaged vocals and mouth harp of Johnny Ogle who blows up a storm on the blues rockers like Horseshoes & Hand Grenades and Carve Your Name. The album opens with the very Zep-like stomp of The Tide Within it is punctuated by the acoustic Chapter 6 and Grave's End and ends with the fantastic Low Grade Man which has a terrific Sax solo! This is a very blues rock based album and anyone who cites their earlier heavier work as their favourite may be disappointed at their more bluesy direction but they can still rock with tracks like Good Man, Poor Man, but for everyone else this is great slice of blues rock that is both authentically old school and very modern. 7/10

Dave Kilminster: Scarlet - The Directors Cut (Self- Released)

This is a re-release of Dave Kilminster's debut (and only) solo album and it is simply awesome. This was always going to be the case as Kilminster is Roger Water's touring guitarist/vocalist (doing the Dave Gilmour parts) and formed a band with Keith Emerson. It is the rhythm section of that band that make up the other two players on this album and both of them are simply stunning supplying some cracking drums and some groovy bass flourishes. The album itself starts out with the strangest track selection, the proggy yet funk Silent Scream which is still a pretty good track but is just a bit lacklustre in comparison to the rest of the album however it starts things off nicely. Things pick up on the excellent Static which features some fantastic guitar playing and showcases Kilminster's great James La Brie-like voice to full effect and has all the elements of Dream Theater at their jazziest, the DT trend is continued on the ballad Just Crazy which has all the hallmarks of Hollow Years this is followed by the orchestral and simply beautiful Angel written about his long-time partner, and Panic Room singer Anne-Marie Helder (who contributes backing vocals to the album). The album then moves through genres ranging from acoustic pop ala Jack Johnson on Chance as well as a bit of The Police on Big Blue before really kick off on the latter part of the album with some jaw-dropping solos on Liar and Rain... (On Another Planet). As debut this is pretty much flawless especially for someone that could be lumped into the virtuoso category, it is an album of great songs that feature some fantastic musicianship. This album quickly builds into something very special indeed and is a must for any fans of guitar based music. 10/10

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