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Sunday, 3 November 2013

Reviews: Lissie, Exit State, The Earls Of Mars, Ravenous

Lissie: Back To Forever (Columbia)

Back To Forever is the second album from California's Elizabeth Corrin Maurus and it continues in the same vein as her debut Catching A Tiger she peddles a modern kind of country and folk influenced rock that can only come from out of California. From the opening chords of the shimmering electronica based The Habit however you can tell that Ms Maurus has evolved her sound a bit as she has moved away from the Rumours era Fleetwood Macisms of her debut and stepped more into the Tango In The Night stages with the electronic loops and beats infecting many of the tracks. She seamlessly blends electronic pulse with acoustic strumming and some killer 80's guitar solos especially on the debut single Further Away (Romance Police) which has a killer chorus hook and leads into the paparazzi baiting  Shameless which has a repeating drum loop straight out of New York Hip Hop. Yes Lissie does mix up the sounds on this album but she still maintains the smoky vocals that set her apart from her peers merging Stevie Nicks see Sleepwalking and on the slower songs like the mega ballad They All Want You she has all the (summertime) sadness of Lana Del Rey. The album mellows out in the middle with the more country moments coming through and a defiant live sing-along in the shape of I Don't Want To Go To Work (which has a jarring guitar break in the middle) and even has Springsteen moment on Mountaintop Removal. This is a more mature album than her debut and some tracks to seem slightly out of place but for the most part the experimentation pays off and the album sounds big, bold and confident. Forget your chart nonsense; Lissie is the real deal, authentic musicianship at its purest. 8/10

Exit State: Let's See It All (Rocksector Records)

Roy Bright and his band of modern rockers return for their third album with a new guitarist in tow and Matt Harris puts his stamp all over this record straight from the off. Exit State have always been a band that have intrigued me as they combine some really heavy riffs with Bright's unique vocals that always seem at odds with the music but do seem to work. Their debut album is a very good full on party rock album and their sophomore release Black Veins brought a more adult vibe in terms of lyrical content. If I were to make a comparison I would say they have the same quiet/loud dynamics of The Foo Fighters (whether that's a good or bad thing depends on how much you enjoy Mr Grohl and co) personally I think if they were American and not from Lancashire. Still I digress and back to the album, they have started off the album strangely I think with a brooding track that features some electronic drum loops and heavy riffage before it bursts into the brighter, funkier Sun In My Eyes. This third has maintained the great compositions that the band has always had but it marries them with great production. The punky, voyeuristic title track follows and is followed by a stirring ballad in the shape of The Pain I Demand. As I've said before the band are somewhat of an enigma in the British rock scene as one minute they are poppy and the next heavy as lead, still they translate well and will appeal to a wide crowd with this strong third release. 7/10      

The Earls Of Mars: S/T (Candlelight Records)

The Earls Of Mars are on odd one, mixing rock, jazz and psych they are a full on head-trip featuring some percussive mastery from Dave Newman who bashes and crashes like a child in a kitchen, he is aided in his noisemaking by Si McCarthy who plays the doomy upright bass. From the first track Poor Whores Petition the band show their chops with a driving doomy dirge that features some fuzzy riffage from guitarist Harry Armstrong, the band then totally confuse you by diving straight into a 4 minute jazz rock anthem which shows off main-man Dan Hardingham who uses his organ to great effect making The Swinger a swaggering, acid tinged key workout with schizophrenic vocals also from Hardingham. Now I've seen The Earls Of Mars live twice and both times they have freaked me out and on record they are no more coherent, every track differs wildly and they can just as much get stuck in a groove as they can veer off on a tangent. The songs are strange, weird and in places terrifying but mostly very well constructed and perform by a group of talented (if a little mad) musicians, bringing to mind Captain Beefheart in his heyday, especially on The Astronomer Pigs (yes all the songs have very odd names). This is weird music for weird people and though some will hate it beyond anything else those who have opened (or indeed expanded) their mind will take it to their hearts. 7/10  

Ravenous: We Are Become Death (Coffee Jingle Records)

Ravenous are a thrash band from Southampton and they have shot out of the blocks with a killer debut. This get started with Abhor and you know where we're going from there with the razor sharp riffs, heavy drum licks, rattling bass lines and some face melting old-school soloing. The band bring to mind modern thrash masters Evile on the opening track and on the pacier tracks like Deathstiny which wouldn't be out of place on Five Serpents Teeth. However they are not all about super-fast riffs they also have huge amount of groove with second track Reverse with its breakdown outro and the heavyweight Suffocate bringing to mind Machine Head especially in the vocal department with Dave Game a dead ringer for Robb Flynn also the band look back to the legends of 'Tallica on the amazing Easter Island (We Are Become Death) which starts off slow before building into a massive arena sized stomper that Lars and co do best and then finally exploding into its finale, Ravenous too must be live killer too with its shout along one word chorus. For a band that are only on their debut record I was surprised how professional it sounds in terms of song writing and production, the songs are tough, heavy, melodic and feature all of the best thrash metal hallmarks, the production is excellent with all of the instruments and vocals given time to breathe. With Evile up in the air in terms of members it might be time for Ravenous to step up to fill the void. A killer debut that rips you limb from limb! 9/10 

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