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Sunday, 28 December 2014

Reviews: Black State Highway, Khaos, Psychostick

Black State Highway: S/T (Self Released)

Former Brighton Institute Of Modern Music graduates Black State Highway are here to give hard rock a good hard kick to the balls. Formed by guitarist Ollie Trethewey, bassist Gordon Duncan, drummer Harry Bland and singer Liva Steinberga the band gigs in the local Komedia but realised they need another guitarist so quickly recruited Yonnis Crampton who gelled with the band just in time for their performance. Since then they have risen through the local British rock scene with some high profile supports and lots of press from Classic Rock Magazine and others, still as with all bands it's all about the music and with the glut of female fronted hard rock bands around at the moment, see for example Saint Jude, Blues Pills, No Sinner etc Black State Highway could fall into obscurity at any time if they didn't have the songs. Luckily as Conclusion kicks of with it's slide driven intro, propulsive rhythm section, bluesy riffage and Steinberga's holler, who exudes attitude as she tells an unnamed former lover to "Get the fuck out of my life". So far so good then and the swagger continues on Ain't Got No which really shows off Duncan and Bland's hard hitting aggressive bottom end which despite it's power also has a lot of nuances to it. The guitars ring out with huge slabs of riffage throughout on the rockier tracks like Free and Tekkers but also the solos sizzle on the slower paced Broken which oozes with class and sleaze and shows off Steinberga's voice to its full extent. For a band so young this debut is very dynamic, vibrant and very mature, the band are steeped in the 70's blues rock of Rival Sons but also they have a modern edge which stops them from getting stale and being more than just revival act. A young band with real fire in their collective bellies and a collection of songs that translate to a searing live show. Pick it up and play it loud!! 8/10  

Khaos: Risen (MRR Records)

Khaos are a modern hard rock band built around guitarist Mark Rossi's sterling guitar work, he moves between intricate melodies and big hard hitting riffs. Rossi has a great line up backing him with Trevor Franklin working over the drumkit and Nic Angileri providing the rumbling bottom end. The cherry on top though are American Chandler Mogel's strong, soulful vocals, Mogel will be familiar to those who have listened to Firewind offshoot band Outloud, Mogel is the vocalist for Outloud but Khaos are a different prospect all together, whereas Outloud are 80's style AOR band, Khaos are a more modern sounding band in the style of Alter Bridge, Shinedown mixed with the slinky smooth rock of The Cult. Rossi plays like Tremonti throughout with After The Silence, Imagined Danger and Loaded Question having the heavy, melodic riffs of AB and Loaded Question also having  guitar solo Slash would be proud of, End Of Daze is infused with the spirit of Ian Asbury and Billy Duffy on its snake like verses and explosive chorus, this continues on Ride The Chain. It's not all hard rocking however there are a few ballads on the record with Exalted, Hung The Moon and As FAr As We Go being three of the best. As good as the component parts of Khaos are they do try to sound a bit too much like Alter Bridge for my liking and Mogel's voice is good but he is no Myles Kennedy (but who is) and personally I believe his voice is better suited to Outloud. Still if you like muscular American rock played by the bands mention previously this will pique your interest however this might not appeal to everyone, still a nice modern rock album. 6/10     

Psychostick: IV- Revenge Of The Vengeance (Rock Ridge Music) [Review By Stief]

Opening with a movie trailer-esque intro to their fourth album, IV: Revenge Of The Vengeance, Psychostick let you know exactly what you're getting into. If you're already a fan of Psychostick, then you know exactly what to expect from the band that sang a sandwich (no missing words, they literally sang a sandwich). The first song of the album, Obey The Beard gives, in this writer's opinion, sound advice. Any problems, just grow a beard. This sets up the mood of the album quite nicely and without giving too much away, they cover a wide range of topics, such as being a dog in Dogs Like Socks, Anatidaephobia in Quack Kills, how to perform the heimlich and CPR in Choking Hazard and a love of Bruce Campbell in...well, Bruce Campbell. The band are clearly comfortable being a comedy metal band and the songs are interspersed with several skits and one in the case of Dimensional Time Portal (Skit, Kinda), a mix of short bursts of metal and a small tale of how reverb can cause a rift in time. The band are solid, Alex “Shmalex” Dontre's drumming heavy along with Matty J “Moose” Rzemyk's bass, Josh “The J” Key's riffs great, all supporting Rob “Rawrb” Kersey's quite frankly angry voice. The album gives two surprises, the first in the shape of a 3 minute medley of classical music consisting of several hundred fucks and one shit. This is immediately followed by the highlight of the album, a cover of Kenny Loggins' Danger Zone which the band embrace with classic Psychostick zeal, even treating listeners to a cover-of-sorts of the chorus of Berlin's Take My Breath Away from the same film. Overall, if you've listened to Psychostick before, it's pretty much the same as always, but if this is the first time, then I'd suggest you embrace the insanity. Great metal and laughs all round. 7/10

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