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Friday 27 September 2013

Reviews: Alter Bridge, Onslaught, Venrez

Alter Bridge: Fortress (Roadrunner)

After a brief hiatus of the band which featured frontman Myles singing for the legendary Slash and guitarist Mark Tremonti releasing his first solo album, Alter Bridge are back looking to reclaim their throne as the kings of American metal. With any new AB release I always have to compare it to Blackbird which I consider their magnum opus; ABIII was cathartic for the band with Myles releasing his inner demons through music, however Fortress returns to the bands fist pumping metal sound but brings a grown up twist with more progressive elements to their sound. This progressive tinge can be witnessed from the first track Cry Of Achilles which features an acoustic intro before building in the verses and bursting into life for the meteoric chorus and the sublime solo's after Brian Marshall's bass break and also on the final title track which clocks in at over 7 minutes and twists and turns throughout. So far so good then with a great opening which is followed immediately by the thrash-like riffage of Addicted To Pain and the swinging Bleed It Dry which is a mid-paced rocker with a massive hook and a blues guitar break in the middle. Lover gives you a rest bite with a haunting acoustic melody that explodes into a majestic chorus. What is most noticeable about this album is that Alter Bridge sound more like a band on this record than any of their previous records, the guitars of Tremonti are excellent as usual but Myles' bring an extra edge to things especially on the heavy as hell tracks like the djenty Peace Is Broken and the head crushingly heavy Farther Than The Stream and the awesome Waters Rising which features Mark on lead vocals and again shows the unison between the band with the dual vocal style bringing to mind AIC. This is a fantastic album that really shows off Alter Bridges strengths mixing melodic metal with anthemic choruses, a heavy as steel rhythm section from Flip and Marshall, some amazing shredding and melodic leads from Kennedy and Tremonti and its all topped off with the best vocalist in the world, who sounds even better on this album than anything previously. So my comparison to Blackbird, well Fortress is equal to and may become better than their best album after repeated listens. 9/10           

Onslaught: VI (Nuclear Blast)

Onslaught have always had a bit of special place in my heart as they are one of the first true British thrash bands that were able to compete with the big Yanks. Well after a two year wait accompanied by relentless touring the Bristol thrashers are back with their sixth album (thus the title) and since the previous album Sounds Of Violence the band have changed very little aurally with this album retaining much of the unrelenting ferocity of the previous effort. Chaos Is King immediately sets things aflame with its blast beat drumming from Mike Hourihan and the razor sharp riffage of Andy Rosser-Davies and Nige Rockett. The album blends enough modern and classic thrash to keep fans of 'Tallica, Megadeth head banging with glee with the old-school tracks like Children Of The Sand and Enemy Of My Enemy both of which have that Bay Area feel to them. Onslaught also have enough venomous, pit inciting shred for those brought up on Machine Head and LOG; see Slaughterize and Cruci-Fiction for total pit devastation. All of the tracks are strong, full of face ripping riffage and Sy Keeler's snarling vocals which could strip paint. Another killer album from the thrash crew, which will really slay the live arena. Get ready for pain! 8/10

Venrez: American Illusion (Monarch Music Group)

Venrez are a hard rock band that are soon to be touring with Buckcherry and Hardcore Superstar so expectations of sleaze based rock was at a high when I received this album. However I was massively surprised when I heard the band's grunge/stoner rock vibe on the opening track Unforeseen. Venrez bring fuzzy riffage from the two guitarists and a driving rhythm section which creeps menacingly on the opening track before the swaggering Sanctity brings a real hard rock vibe. The band have a sound that mixes Monster Magnet and Stone Temple Pilots with some voodoo rhythms and lots of reverbed guitars, these two bands are brought to mind because of the vocals of frontman Ven who sounds a lot like Dave Wyndorf. They do have some faster tracks that bring to mind some of the American sleaze rock scene however it’s on the grungy tracks that the band do best at case in point is the excellent Intellectual Drool which is Alice In Chains by another name. A good album from Venrez who are a band still finding their style but if they continue to focus on the grunge aspects then they will definitely move further up the bill. 7/10

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