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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Reviews: Crazy Lixx, Divine Ascension, Sky Valley Mistress

Crazy Lixx: S/T (Frontiers)

Crazy Lixx have been doing the rounds since 2002 and since then they have been one of the bands at the forefront of the 80's Glam rock revival. So this self titled album is their fourth and once again they bring together G'N'R, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and Motley Crue and bands of their ilk to put together 11 tracks of top drawer glam metal. From the anthemic Sound Of The Loud Minority, through the swaggering Outlaw (surely the follow up to Blaze Of Glory). With the two guitars driving the sleazy riffs and double tap soloing and a locked in rhythm section its the job of frontman Danny Rexon to take up the mantle of Joe Elliot and JBJ himself with his strong melodic vocals. The backing the Elliot influence is at it's strongest on Girl's Of The 80's which has some big backing harmonies, Missed The Mark and All Looks, No Hooks are little Steel Panther like but keep things straight enough not to be considered parody. All of the tracks on this album are strong, rocking 80's style songs with big hooks, huge choruses and a real sense of fun throughout, thankfully the band have focussed more on the rock side things than the massive ballads that plague this genre, in fact there isn't a single slow paced song on this album just a lot of fun hard rocking songs, the with Call To Action and Wrecking Ball Crew being two of the strongest on the album. With bands like Reckless Love, Outloud and Brother Firetribe all flying the modern AOR flag Crazy Lixx are another band at the forefront of the melodic rock renaissance, much like the first time round many will hate this kind of bubblegum tinged rock but for those that just want to rock out like it's 1984 then Crazy Lixx is the perfect record. 8/10

Divine Ascension: Liberator (Nightmare Records)

Progressive/power metal from Australia? A rarity indeed but Divine Ascension are just that; female fronted and brimming with blast beat drums, powerful guitar work and strong keyboard rhythms throughout all backing the strong vocals of Jennifer Borg who unusually doesn't have the normal classically trained vocal but a more mainstream almost Maria Brink style vocal that is a refreshing relief. her vocals are great and work well with the rest of the band who are rooted deep in the Euro power metal tradition but with a lot of progressive tenancies. the Progressive tendencies start on the first track which breaks into a piano led middle section before ending in an explosive guitar solo. The title track features some time signature changes and a keyboard solo from David Van Pelt. My Contender Lies is heavier, slower more modern metal style track but still maintains the power metal keyboard melodies and orchestrations, before Sorrow's Sacrifice starts off with a slower balladic style before turning into faster, heavier chorus. Over the 11 tracks the band play some great metallic music with a strong progressive vein, its nice to hear a band with a female singer, take a shot at the more male orientated progressive metal style of Symphony X, Shadow Gallery etc rather than fall into the more symphonic classical style of Nightwish, Within Temptation and bands of their ilk. The musicianship is virtuoistic and songs are well constructed and delivered with style. A good second album from these Aussie prog metallers that really shows their skill. 7/10      

Sky Valley Mistress: Rival, Hounds & Rebel Sisters (Holy Roller Records)

There does seem to be a a resurgence in female fronted blues at the moment with The Blues Pills, Black State Highway, Saint Jude all featuring Joplin-like vocals set to a bluesy rock backing. Sky Valley Mistress from Darwen, Lancashire are new to the party but they come in ready to challenge the big hitters with their "Dirty Blonde Blues". The band set about playing groove laden hard rock that merges the classic bombast of Sabbath and Zeppelin with the sledgehammer rhythms of the bands such as Soundgarden and QOTSA while rapping it all up in a package that Jack White would be proud of. The rhythm section rattles the brain with Russell's bass and Maxwell Harvey William Newsome III's drums providing the chunky bottom end for Squire's dirty guitar licks and Kayley 'Hell Kitten' Davies' sultry vocals, she is all about the presence a man eater of the highest calibre with a mic in one hand and a knuckleduster in the other; see her croon through She Is So for this. As the Hell Kitten beckons, the band rock out royally setting hips shaking and fists pumping. This is just a four track EP but is does a lot to endear you to the band, the songs are well written, expertly (and menacingly) delivered with some fat fuzzy riffs and voodoo rhythms. A great little snippet of what Sky Valley Mistress can do and as the band sign off with the shamanistic Blood, Sweat & Blisters they leave you wanting more of their fuzzy, garage blues rock. 7/10 

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