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Thursday 17 April 2014

Out Of The Beyond 32

Michael Schenker's Temple Of Rock: Bridge The Gap (2013)

Michael Schenker is a name that will fill certain readers hearts with glee, the six stringer of UFO, The Scorpions and his own Michael Schenker Group, he created his own special style that has followed him throughout his turbulent career. So when he returned with the Temple Of Rock, his new project there was a lot of interest, however the first album really didn't have that spark that Schenker is known for. However on Bridge The Gap he has done what the namesake says this is album that links MSG and his early years, full of hard rock and classic metal anthems, Schenker is back to his best playing with the dexterity he has always shown cranking out some killer riffs and sublime solos. On this album he is backed by the rhythm section of former Scorpions Francis Buchholz plucking the bass and the madman Herman 'Ze German' Rarebell on drums (the first time the three have appeared on a record since Lovedrive) on the guitar front he has Wayne Findlay helping on 7-String guitar and keyboards to flesh out the sound, finally he has the adaptive vocals of Doogie White who is doing his best Biff Byford on this album. Things kick off with the almost Into The Arena style intro to Neptune Rising before the heavy riffage of Where The Wild Winds Blow kicks in in true MSG style. This is an album that covers all of Schenker's career with the UFO style of Horizons to the Celtic flavoured Lord Of The Lost And Lonely which has some amazing Schenker solos. This is a far superior album to the first Temple Of Rock record the songs are bigger, better, badder and Schenker is on top form as are his backing band, with these songs and his back catalogue he makes for an exciting liev prospect and also a damn good album too. 8/10      

Armory: Empyrean Realms (2013)

Look at their name, look at the album title. Now guess the genre? If you said European Power Metal you'd be half right. Armory are Yanks that stand in the shadow of Manowar and emerge with more symphonic bluster than you could handle. This is almost Rhapsody-like if they were fronted by Tobias Sammet, from the off Eternal Mind starts things with in fine style with the amazing dual guitars of Joe Kurland and Chad Fisher bringing some huge riffs, melodies and solos who work in tandem with keyboardist Peter Rutcho to provide some amazing melodies rich with layer upon layer of riffs and melodies all of which are pure European power metal. The drumming of Joe Kurland (on the album, Tom Vieira in live) is also immense full of blast beats and drive all the songs along when coupled with the galloping fingerstyle bass of Thomas Preziosi see the amazing rhythm of the epic Dreamstate which has Stratovarius written all over it. This is a great album that blends progressive/power metal with the awesome vocals of Adam Kurland who sounds so much like Tobias Sammet it's uncanny, especially on Beyond The Horizon which has the hard rock stomp of Edguy before it changes tempo and pulls out some killer solos. Armory are American yes but they have a clearly European sound with lots of melodic solos, huge keys, powerful drums and bass topped with some top class vocals, this is a band doing it themselves and doing it right. The songs are complex, well written, expertly performed and yes it is technical but it is not ridiculous like Dragonforce the solos last just long enough to entice and cast a spell without outstaying their welcome, the production too is excellent crisp, clear and bright. An absolute treat for power metal fans, I urge you to find this album and buy it, it is fantastic!! 10/10

Diamond Plate: Generation Why? (2011) & Pulse (2013)

Diamond Plate are thrash metal band from Illinois, they have two album both of which I am going to review here. First up is Generation Why? which is their debut full length and starts out well with some serious thrash riffage on the title track and Pull The Trigger. The guitars of Mario Cianci and Konrad Kupiec are awesome with lightning fast riffage and razor sharp solos galore on all eleven tracks, the drums of founder member Jim Nicademus are also great with blast beats galore throughout. The bands major downfall are the vocals of Jon Macak whose death metal like delivery (eg grunts and screams) are not good and detract a bit from every song, the instrumental song More Than Words is one of the better tracks along with Casualty Of War and the eight minute plus Empire Tomorrow. So for a debut this is strong on the instrumental front but is let down a lot by the vocals. 5/10
Next is their sophomore album Pulse which is a marked improvement on the debut, this could be due to the wholesale line up change leaving just Kupiec and Nicademus as the only two originals left from the first album. This album kicks off with the faded in intro of Walking Backwards which shows that the band still have the same strong musicianship, however the major improvement is with bassist/vocalist Matt Ares who has a much better voice than his predecessor somewhere between Mille Petrozza and James Hetfield meaning he has a snarl on the groove infected All Of It but can also croon on the big, ballsy Rainmaker. A much better album than the debut showing the need of a good vocalist! 7/10 

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