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Monday 2 September 2013

Reviews: Annihilator, Tedeschi-Trucks Band, Haken

Annihilator: Feast (UDR)

The most recent album from Canada's premier thrash band is nothing new, it is technical, speed driven thrash with some absolutely stunning guitar work from main man Jeff Waters. However since their last self-titled album they have had somewhat of resurgence. This album continues where Annihilator left off with lots of slick guitar work from a man that has always provided top notch fret-wankery. However what sets this incarnation of the band head and shoulders above much of their other work are the vocals of frontman Dave Padden who has a hell of voice that can snarl on the speedy thrashy numbers like Deadlock, No Way Out and the political Smear Campaign, however he can also croon on the almost Trivium-like ballad Perfect Angel Eyes and Fight The World which shows that Water's is not all about the head crushing riffs and face melting solos. Most importantly it also shows that he is in touch with the new wave of bands coming out of metal as there is an abundance of old-school thrash riffs but much like the last two Testament albums and indeed those of Exodus or any in the 'second wave' of thrash, Waters is keeping his head above water and looking forward with tracks like the almost death metal sounding Demon Code and the almost funk-metal of No Surrender. The special edition includes an extra disc of re-recorded classics with Padden on vocals which I haven't heard but it should be a great introduction of the band's classic songs but with their new vocalist and modern production. A great album that has a couple of slower moments but it is mostly pure metal fury. 7/10

Tedeschi-Trucks Band: Made Up Mind (Sony Masterworks)

Both Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks are successful solo artists in their idea of splitting their bands in half and touring as one band was first realised excellently on the debut album Revelator but it's on this second album that they really have brought their blues, rock, soul combo to its only logical evolution. With influences drawn from the gamut of roots music things kick off with the chicken pickin' title track that has an air of Clapton's Crossroads about it, this leads into soul-tinged country ballad of Do I Look Worried which has some delicious slide guitar, some great brass parps from the trio of Kebbi Williams (Sax), Maurice Brown (Trumpet) and Saunders Sermons (Trombone) and Susan Tedeschi's gospel trained vocals, she has a voice that could soothe the roughest soul and she steers the ship admirably with her heavenly voice and some smooth rhythm guitar which lets her husband pull off some fireworks in the lead guitar department, Derek Trucks weaves some guitar magic throughout every song peeling off solo after solo which makes you realise why Clapton picks him as a side man on his tours, he also alludes to his Allman Brothers membership on Idle Wind which has all of the acoustic picking and slide guitar workouts of Jessica. The album moves through genres with ease showing off the impressive band that back the husband and wife, the Hammond's and B3's of Kofi Burbridge are brought to the front on the funk filled Misunderstood which wouldn't sound out of place on a Stevie Wonder album, the drums too need to mentioned as both drummers (yes two) both work in perfect synchronicity and provide the perfect backbeat for the rest of the players, Part Of Me continues in this funk vibe with some (Nile Rodgers style) staccato guitar and some Motown harmony vocals from Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers. This another excellent album from Mr and Mrs Trucks which is a menagerie of some of the best American music styles, one for fans of Rock, R&B, Soul, Funk, Guitar workouts and just general great music. Go out and buy it! (Then buy the debut too) 9/10

Haken: The Mountain (InsideOut Music)

The UK's prog/rock/metal merchants are now on their third album of genre bending prog however this time The Mountain has more of a personal feel which is reflected in the rawer edge to the music on this record, the songs come together and build into a whole piece of stirring music that ebbs and flows throughout the album. Things start off slowly with the piano led The Path which is a slow burning opener that sets the tone for the new record admirably; it’s haunting and plaintive and shows off amazing soundscapes that the band creates even in their quieter moments. The Path leads (no pun intended) to second song Atlas Stone which again has the simply staggering keyboard progressions from Diego Tejeida and Richard Henshall, these strong keys are a major factor in Haken's sound and run through the album lifting the tracks to a higher level. However the keys aren't the overriding factor they work as part of a whole, the guitars of Charles Griffiths and Richard Henshall are intricate and in parts very heavy, Thomas MacLean's bass is also an incredible addition bringing the amazing jazz inflected rhythm patterns in tandem with Raymond Hearne's drums and lastly it’s the unique vocals of Ross Jennings that complete the band's sound. Like I said Atlas Stone starts things off properly with the piano-led intro which moves into a heavy djent like riff, off kilter bass and drums after the solo it moves into a jazz break and it's here that Haken show that they above and beyond a lot of the progressive act as in places the band are hard to listen to and have lots of intricate passages that move through jazz, rock, metal and lots of other odd sounds. The band can be seen at their most weird on Cockroach King. They show their electronic and Gregorian influence on Because It's There which leads into the 11 minute workout of Falling Back To Earth which is all light and shade. In parts this album is heavy in others it's ethereal, an album that is hard to describe but an absolute joy to listen to as it's only with repeated listens that it's jewels are revealed. 10/10

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