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Saturday 8 February 2014

Reviews: Transatlantic, The Treatment, No Sinner

Transatlantic: Kaleidoscope (InsideOut)

So the pro-rock supergroup release their fourth album and it is a possibly their most adventurous yet, their last release The Whirlwind was a concept tour-de-force with the album being one song split into separate tracks. On this record the band go one better by having two 20 minute plus epics start and close the album and in between they have 3 shorter (less than 10 minute tracks). The band haven't changed their style as they still play prog in it's purest form with lots of instrumental passages huge keyboard hooks, technical bass and drums, great guitars, harmony vocals and lots of time and tempo changes. For a band made up of lesser mortals achieving this level of musicianship over the course of four albums without a dip would be very difficult however Transatlantic is now (and has always been) ex-Spock's Beard and prog-mastermind Neal Morse tinkling the ivories, Ronnie Stolt of the Flower Kings on strumming and crooning, Pete Trewavas slapping, plucking and also crooning before the motley bunch (not crew) are rounded out by Mike Portnoy, he of Dream Theater infamy manning the skins. With all the usual suspects recruited we can move onto the music which is as rich and varied as the contributors day jobs. Opening track Into The Blue starts off with a hard rock instrumental before sweeping into classy strong prog, then into and jazz middle section before Stolt is allowed to really let loose with a solo as the track slows and moves into it's euphoric final third (which features Pain Of Salvation's Daniel Gildenlow). The three middle tracks are a nice respite from the prog-epics with Shine sounding like a late period Beatles song with it's acoustic delivery and sitar intro, despite the musicianship it's a little throwaway, they change tact on Black As The Sky which is an ELP fans dream full of pulsating organ from Morse and finally out of the middle tracks is Beyond The Sun which is pedal steel powered obligatory Morse ballad that serves as an intro for the title track which closes the album (yes 5 tracks folks how very prog). This track is over 30 minutes long and goes through so many styles and time changes that mentioning them would take up the whole review, needless to say this a bit special (as all their albums are) and the title track shows just how good these guys are in their composition of epic tracks. So in conclusion the two epics are awesome but the shorter stuff is a little whiny, still a massive album for true prog fans and one that really blows you away after a few spins! 9/10

The Treatment: Running With The Dogs (Spinefarm Records)

Cambridge rockers The Treatment came to be noticed through Classic Rock magazines Powerage records initiative and they have gone from strength to strength after re-releasing their debut on Spinefarm they have embarked on some high profile tours that has honed their rock and roll skills and in the live arena they certainly look the business clad in their G'N'R/Ramones chic. However has it improved their recorded output? Well in a word yes, they have bolstered their classic rock sound with some sleazy swagger on the opener I Bleed Rock + Roll which is part Motley Crue, part AC/DC (which seems to be one of the major influences), the arena baiting Get The Party On which even has a big clap-along drum break in the middle, the title track is straight out of the Sunset Strip, as is The Outlaw which is the best G'N'R song released in last 20 years and then there is Emergency which is a big Def Leppard style track. Yes The Treatment do wear their influences on their sleeves but they add enough of their own modern influences to stop them sounding like copyists. The twin guitars of Jake Pattinson and Tagore Grey bring the riffs thick and fast, with Swoggle and Dhani Mansworth anchoring the rhythm on every track and Matt Jones' great rock and roll vocals commanding the debauchery. At 13 tracks the album is a little long with a few of the tracks filling space, but on the whole this is ballsy, brash, British rock music done by a band that are drawing from the past to influence their future, they are drawing from all the right places and I can see this album being stage one of their global take over. 7/10           

No Sinner: Boo Hoo Hoo (Provogue)

Canadians No Sinner are a traditional blues quartet with lots of balls and bluster, fronted by the awesome voice of Colleen Rennison (No Sinner the right way around fact fans) whose smoky vocals drips with an authentic whiskey hued, tobacco fuelled huskiness that is only shared by the likes of Janis Joplin and even Amy Winehouse if she rocked. The band have an early 60's vibe with the opening title track having the R&B drum shuffle and a slow break in the center of the track before the sing along chorus kicks back in, this is followed by the blue eyed soul of Love Is Madness which so Motown Vintage Trouble may want it back and until you hear If Anything you haven't heard as much raw emotion in a song, Rennison truly has a one in a million voice full of unchained emotion and moulded by years of hard living. The band straddle the line between early Stones, Motown classics and good old southern blues with a production job straight out of the Phil Spector era with songs about love, loss and general alcohol fuelled misbehaviour with the cover of Nina Simone's version of Work Song. The album slows down in the middle a bit but with a band that have as much soul as No Sinner you can forgive them for stretching their emotional muscles a bit with Rise Up which with Devil On My Back is something that Ms Winehouse would have released if she had been backed by rockers! This is good album with a nice old school feel a tour with Vintage Trouble is calling and I for one will be in the front row. 8/10   

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