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Saturday 18 January 2014

Reviews: Bruce Springsteen, Suicidal Angels, The Brew

Bruce Springsteen: High Hopes (Colombia)

So what can the Boss do on his 18th album that he hasn't already done? Well on the previous record Wrecking Ball he made a pseudo-concept piece tackling economic injustice so this time he lets his hair down so to speak by creating and album of covers and never recorded and reimagined songs from his past. This makes the album span multiple genres and styles a fact that was added to by its hotchpotch recording history with Springsteen recording when he could while on the road during the mammoth Wrecking Ball tour. This myriad of genres means that the album has a rougher and ready sound than some of his previous releases, but this is not a criticism far from it. Things start well with the title track (originally by Gothic bluesman Tim Scott McConnell) which has R&B shuffle too it that makes your hips want to shake, obviously Springsteen is joined by his E-Street Band with Lofgren, Talent, Van Zandt, Scialfa and Weinberg making up the major players, with the dark noir-like Harry's Place featuring departed member Clarence Clemons on some smoky sax. Still the major contributor in terms of sound is the unmistakable guitar sound of Tom Morello who puts his funk-rock stamp all over this record with a killer guitar solo on previously unreleased live favourite the haunting American Skin (41 Shots). Morello contributes to 9 of the 12 tracks and his stamp is all over them most notably on the reimagined version of The Ghost Of Tom Joad which moves away from its introspective acoustic roots and turns into a guitar solo filled stadium rock epic with both Springsteen and Morello trading guitar solos and vocals (Morello sounds a lot like The Boss vocally). The rest of the album is made up of electronic-country ballads like Down In The Hole which features the late Danny Federici contributing some scintillating Wurlitzer, the gospel of Heaven's Wall, Celtic battle cries with This Is Your Sword and love letters to small town America with The Wall. This is pure Springsteen Americana condensed into a selection of choice cuts from his vaults as well as some well-chosen covers. So 18 albums into his career The Boss is still just that! 9/10       

Suicidal Angels: Divide and Conquer (NoiseArt Records)

Suicidal Angels are a thrash band who hail from the Greece the land of Firewind. No power metal here though this is for fans of Kreator and Slayer with speed of sound riffage and lighting fast solos that break into the middle of the song much like Kerry King's mob. The songs are all based on horror, gore and war the subjects of King and Petrozza, from the opening of Marching Over Blood the band immediately lay down their baton with shouted vocals, great thrash riffage and the barked vocals of Nick Melissourgos before moving into the marching stomp of Seed Of Evil. The songs do this throughout the record, moving from face melting speed metal through fist pumping classic metal, Control Of A Twisted Mind starts out with a classical opening and moves into some strong thrash. I am at a loss to say anything else really because if you are not a fan of Slayer, Exodus and Kreator then you will love this if not then you will find it very samey and repetitive pit causing thrash. 6/10   

The Brew: Control (Jazzhaus Records)

The Brew are a classic rock influenced trio hailing from Grimsby and this is their fourth album and quite frankly I'm disgusted with myself that I haven't heard of this band before, they are staggeringly good. Lots of blues based fuzzy guitar riffs, powerhouse drumming and driving bass lines that are reminiscent of Cream (Mute and Pause) Jimi Hendrix on Repeat, The Who on Fast Forward and lots of Zep especially from Kurt Smith's drumming. Obviously they don't just stay in the classics they bring forward a more modern vibe which shows that the band are drawing on their influences rather than copying them wholesale. Guitarist/vocalist Jason Barwick has an anguished blues howl an squeezes as much emotion out of his guitar as possible, this along with Kurt's drumming and Tim Smith's voodoo bass lines see Repeat, give the band a hip shaking, hard rocking modern rock vibe but with just enough retro to keep the Classic Rock crowd happy. The band have obviously drawn on their extensive touring schedule with bands such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Chickenfoot and the Tres Amigos ZZ Top as this record is chock full of great rock and roll songs that burst to life thanks in a big part to Toby Jepson who has become somewhat of an extraordinaire and makes this album crisp and bright in the producers chair, obviously the other half of the bands power comes from their excellent song craft and supreme musicianship. This album is a hell of a record and has everything I like from a hard rock band, personally I will be seeking out the bands back catalogue but for now I just going to play this one until my neighbours hate it!! 9/10     

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