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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Reviews: AC/DC, Soundgarden, Persian Risk

AC/DC: Rock Or Bust (Columbia)

Legends, the word is bandied around a lot but AC/DC are one of the few bands that can lay claim to this title, Rock Or Bust is the bands fifteenth studio album and the first without founding member rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young who was diagnosed with dementia, it will probably be the last album with drummer Phil Rudd who has some serious legal problems! Still the band have not let any of these things affect the album as from the title track (which could be seen as the bands motto), through Play Ball and from then on we have the leg stomping, blues guitar based hard rock that the 'DC have always been known for. You know what you are going to get with Acca Dacca and here you get it in spades, Rudd has his one two shuffle which backs the walking rhythms of Cliff Williams bass and Stevie Young's (Malcolm and Angus' nephew) rhythm guitar. Despite the change in the engine room, Captain Angus is still present soloing with aplomb while the Geordie screamer Brian is once again belting it out like a man half his age. AC/DC are one of those bands that will never change (there won't be a ballads album) but also they will never die, the riffs are still iconic and most of all instantly recognisable see Dogs Of War a song which the O'Keefe brothers would kill for, the filth factor is up to maximum on Miss Adventure and Sweet Candy and tracks like Baptism By Fire and Rock The House ramp up the rocking. I go back to that first word I used, AC/DC are rock and roll legends and because of that they will never change or move with the times, thankfully they can still write an album of hard rock songs to blow away most modern bands, despite the loss of key members the 'DC will never die. 7/10   

Soundgarden: Echo Of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across The Path (A&M)

This is an odds and sods collection, from the Seattle kings of grunge. It is a compilation of B-sides, EP tracks, non album singles and songs featured on compilations. There are two versions with both a single disc and a massive three disc collection, I only have the single disc album as it seemed the most concise, it kicks off with two tracks from the Loudest Love EP both of which have that early psychedelic haze that featured heavily on Loud Love and Nothing To Say. Cornell's voice is almost unrecognisable on Heretic until he starts to shout and the unmistakeable voice kicks in. H.I.V Baby too is not very Soundgarden more Stooges style punk, Cold Bitch is Soundgarden through and through and provides a strong b-side to the classic Spoonman, Show Me is a trippy pop song from an AIDS benefit and the feedback fuelled Birth Ritual comes from the soundtrack to the film Singles. Because of the nature of this album there are highlights and indeed lowlights, I personally could do without the punky stuff but the more heavy riff based songs like She Likes Surprises, the excellent Black Rain (from the Telephantasm compilation) and Live To Rise (from Avengers). The album ends with two previously released songs first up is Kristi which carries on where their last album King Animal left off with Kim Thayll and Cornell's guitars down tuned and dirty and Storm has a more psych delivery with some lead bass from Ben Shepard. The single disc is a great little stop gap featuring some of the bands more hard to find songs in one place, the three disc is for collectors and die-hards only, still with the talent of Soundgarden the quality is always going to be high and both will appeal no matter which version you go for. 7/10     

Persian Risk: Who Am I? (Self Released)

Formed in the late 70's by Phil Campbell and Jon Deverill Persian Risk were one of the few NWOBHM bands to come from Cardiff, always popular in the scene frontman Deverill left to join Tygers Of Pan Tang and was replaced by Carl Sentance, the band continued with Sentance at the helm even when Campbell left to join Lemmy and Co finally though the band broke up but Sentance has always tried to keep the name alive. The reactivated Persian Risk returned in 2012 with Sentance at the helm being the sole original member of the band bringing in a wealth of musicians to aide him on the recordings; their first album since reforming Once A King received a warm welcome and was reviewed even better so finally 2 years later they are now on their second album (third overall) and yet again it's pure NWOBHM fury. Don't Look Back gets things firing on all cylinders with the twin guitar intro before the gallop kicks in and Sentance starts hollering with his amazing voice which can reach some very high peaks, the title track is pure Maiden and features Sentance in full Dickinson mode on a song that this bathed in light and shade. After two rampaging tracks the pace needs to slow and it does on the bass heavy walk of My Creation which is part Dio, part Foreigner and features some organs from Don Airey (a long time collaborator of Sentance). I could talk about Sentance's voice all day but his cast of musicians don't disappoint either the Wayne and Jason Banks supply the bass and guitar respectively, Tim Brown is the percussive powerhouse, used to great effect on Writing On The Wall, with extra guitar coming from Danny Wilson, Manny Maurer and Sentance himself. The real guest star of the record though is Phil Campbell who supplies guitar on the two re-recorded old school tracks Dark Tower and Calling For You both of which are classic NWOBHM but as good as these tracks are for nostalgia fans the newer tracks like the speedy I Feel Free, the anthemic Ozzy-like Facing Your Demons and the final jazz influenced I Thought It Was You which harks actually sounds a bit like Diamond Dave's solo stuff. A great album from a band that hold a special place in any Cardiff metal fans heart, happily the band aren't resting on their laurels they are prepared to look back to their history and also move forward with their sound. Another great album from these NWOBHM survivors. 9/10     

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