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Saturday 26 April 2014

Reviews: Edguy, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Tuomas Holopainen

Edguy: Space Police: Defenders Of The Crown (Nuclear Blast)

Tobias Sammet is a man of two musical minds, one being the ott symphonic Avantasia project on which he is the leader of a massive band of musicians and singers and the other is his more straight up rock/metal band Edguy which he started at 14. The oddly titled Space Police: Defenders Of The Crown is Edguy's 10th album and according to the ever humble Tobias it's their best work, now most will think that Hellfire Club is their best album, personally I think the trifecta of Hellfire Club, Rocket Ride and Age Of The Joker are three of their best, would Space Police be up to Sammet's opinion of it? Yes it is in a few ways, the old school power metal is there from the opening salvo of Sabre & Torch which has the Teutonic fury of their early see (Mandrake and Hellfire Club) work as well as some massive backing choruses. This leads into the title track(s) first of which is the catchy, melodic, hard rock grunt of Space Police which is straight off the Rocket Ride album and has a Hawkwind style synth in the middle of the song which adds to the spacey feel to the song before the rampaging Defenders Of The Crown has all the hallmarks of a Maiden classic, which has a galloping rhythm section from Felix Bohnke (drums) and Tobias 'Eggi' Exxel (bass), some killer guitar solos from Dirk Sauer and Jens Ludwig and you get Tobi's awesome vocals throughout. The eclectic nature of the album continues on Love Tyger which is so 80's it actually hurts, think Reckless Love with more spandex, then comes the cover, a bit of Germanic genius in the shape of rock cover of Rock Me Amadeus, which is the first song they have done in German. So the humour and irreverence is still here in spades, the metal comes with The Realms Of Baba Yaga and Shadow Eaters the ballads come with Do Me Like A Caveman and mega ballad Alone In Myself. The album ends with the 8 minute plus epic The Eternal Wayfarer (The bonus tracks on the special edition are the Queen-like England which is Tobi's anglophilia in full swing and the Def Leppard pastiche Aychim In Hysteria). This is possibly the definitive Edguy album bringing everything from their back catalogue together in one place, yes Tobi may think it's the best but by listening to it I have to agree with him. 9/10

Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell: Check 'Em Before You Wreck 'Em (Rise Above)

The grease returns, yep denim clad hairy herberts Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell are back! Packing more fuzzy, filthy, furious riffage with a lot of LSD inspired psychedelia. With a sound harking back to Sir Lord Baltimore, Dust, MC5, AC/DC, Budgie and early Quo boogie ASCS have been gaining more acclaim since the release of their debut album, primarily through their incendiary live showings (where this kind of music is at its best). Still with all the crackle and pop (and yes snap) of old 70's vinyl ASCS kick off with the bass heavy, punk riffage immediacy of Do It Now which immediately shows the talent, Louis Comfort-Wiggett's thumping bass, Bill Darlington's primal drums and Johnny Gorilla's flanged and fuzzy guitars are combined with his howls to create some serious proto-metal. The BOC-like (and brilliantly named) 2 Tonne Fuckboot continues things in strong style with its heavyweight riffage before the trippy, Captain Merryweather provides and 8 minute, narcotic fuelled freak out, replete with some eastern flavour that wouldn't be out of place on Ravi Shankar's discography. Another riotous slab of molten metal from ASCS showing that no matter how much our music evolves there is always a place for ballsy, brash, meat and two veg rumbling metal. Another good album of animalistic rock with tracks like Shake Your Head, the voodoo bass heaviness of Don't Hear It...Fear It! and Bulletproof (which explodes into a big ending solo) and the rapid fire spit and sawdust of The Thicker The Better. Another good album from ASCS which takes you back to the smoke filled clubs of yesteryear with a one fist in the air and a bottle of Newkey Brown in the other. 7/10

Tuomas Holopainen: The Life And Times Of Scrooge (Nuclear Blast)

Tuomas Holopainen is the keyboardist and leader of symphonic metal band Nightwish; he is key to their stirring symphonic sound and has always aimed at producing a more cinematic feel to their music (see Imaginarium). Finally his dream has been realised with his first solo album, the album neglects the metal crunch of his day job and focuses solely on the orchestral/cinematic part of his musical output. The Life And Times Of Scrooge is not based on the Dickensian redemption story but instead the Disney adventurer/tycoon/multiplujillionaire Scrooge McDuck, an odd storyline for an album yes but for anyone that has read the comic novelisation it full of drama and adventure all of which is suitable fodder for a concept album. Things start off well with opening narration of native Scot Alan Reid before the Celtic flavoured Glasgow 1877 kicks in fuelled by the London Philharmonic orchestra and the Uilleann Pipes and low whistles of Troy Donockley (ex-Mostly Autumn, current Nightwish), the album is mainly instrumental with the countrified Into The West coming next full of Holopainen's saloon style piano and a lot of banjo to really put the point across, Duel & Cloudscapes is the song most similar to Holopainen's day job with its epic feel and big organs lending it similarities to Hans Zimmer at his most overblown. The story has very few vocal parts with the Metro Voices providing the choral accompaniments to the orchestral soundtrack, Tony Kakko appears on Cold Heart Of Klondike and with Johanna Kurkela (who provides a stunning performance on A Lifetime Of Adventure) and Johanna Iivanainen being the voice of McDuck's secret love and Scrooge's mother respectively before the final track features Reid's lilting singing voice accompanied by just an acoustic guitar ending things in a reserved but emotional style. No this is does not fall under the metal banner but it is an inspired, excellently played, stirring soundtrack based on what is actually quite an enthralling story. Nightwish need to look out as Holopainen will definitely be on many people's lists for film scores after this, an excellent album that while not being anything like the keyboard maestros day job it will still appeal to anyone that loves great music! 8/10

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