Voodoo Circle: Whiskey Fingers (AFM)
The release of a new Voodoo Circle album is always a cause for celebration with me as ever since the bands (more metallic sounding) debut I have loved every album they have produced as I've seen them turn into one of the most accomplished hard rock acts in modern times harking back to the glory days of hard rock's heyday with blues infused licks, huge organs and some smooth as silk vocals. The band is the brainchild of Alex Beyrodt who is a noted guitarist who made his name in Silent Force and Primal Fear playing classic metal with the other founder member bassist Mat Sinner, however Voodoo Circle are not a Primal Fear side project, no they are fully formed guitar slinging, shit kicking, whiskey drinking rock and roll band that men like David Coverdale, Ronnie James Dio and Paul Rogers used to front. These were bands that had singers with huge voices, guitarists that played from their soul and sang of heartbreak, dirty women and having a good time. So what of this fourth album? Well once again it is music in the vein of rock's great heroes.
The album title itself comes from a something that was said about men like Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page who were suggested to have whiskey on their fingers (due to lots of gigs in bars) which imbued them with the spirit of the blues and rock. Beyrodt certainly has this he plays with massive amounts of soul on The Rhythm Of My Heart and the superb closer Been Said And Done deftly casting spells with his six strings, equally happy with electrics and acoustics on tracks like Zep-like Watch And Wait (I Got My Eye On You). Beyrodt is matched in his virtuosity by the driving Lord-like organs of Alessandro Del Vecchio who gives the album the bombastic tendencies of Deep Purple. The rhythm section of Sinner and Tim Husung add the driving riffs of Trapped In Paradise and the swaggering of Heartbreaking Woman (which neatly talks of aforementioned heartbreak and dirty women) as well as the more metallic Medicine Man. Once again the vital final part of the bands appeal are the unbelievable vocals of David Readman who channels prime period Coverdale, having the smooth richness to his vocals that allows him to croon on The Day The Walls Came Down but also lets him snarl a little on Straight Shooter while maintaining that allure of rock's greatest pipes. If you love Whitesnake (Moody, Murray era), Deep Purple (MKII & III) and Rainbow you will love Voodoo Circle's Whiskey Fingers it has all the elements of rocks great tradition (production included) while remaining very modern! I love it so will you! 10/10
Bruce Soord: Bruce Soord (KScope)
Bruce Soord is the singer, guitarist and main songwriter of English progressive/art rockers Pineapple Thief, despite creating 10 albums with Pineapple Thief this is his first solo album. I've always thought Pineapple Thief have a similar sound to compatriots Porcupine Tree drawing from lots of musical influences to create truly progressive music, as you would then assume Soord's solo album shares similarities to Tree mainman Steven Wilson last couple of solo releases. It is a solo album in its truest sense with Soord playing everything, only having Darran Charles from Godsticks adding some additional guitar. The album is beautiful from beginning to end, it is not a heavy album by any stretch, in fact much of this could not be counted as rock, as there is an acoustic seam that runs through every song. It is an alternative, dreamy record coming from a wide spectrum of musical traditions. The opening piano piece of Black Smoke smoulders, a little bit of menace underpins the songs like the funky The Odds, there is a Radiohead style to A Thousand Daggers that also has a lone trumpet adding a sadness to the piece, the Floydian Buried Here is the closest to Wilson's work. Soord really is a musical polymath crafting these fantastic songs deftly and with a real passion, Willow Tree is a dark brooding affair that builds on its solitary guitar into a brass-infused final part, while Born in Delusion is a folky number backed by some throbbing electronica. As I've said before this is dreamy, gorgeous album that is suitably English, it's subtle, nuanced and filled with emotive lyrical themes set to exceptional music. You could say that this album has elements of Radiohead, Coldplay, Anathema, but that is only part of it Soord comes from a tradition of progressive music that KScope has always been known for supporting. A superb album that is expertly written, performed and indeed produced (another one of Soord's talents) if you love his day job then then you will love this album, but any fan of brilliant music will enjoy the eclectic scope of this debut solo record. 9/10
Manimal: Trapped In Shadows (AFM)
Manimal hail from Sweden and they play a heavier style of power metal with gritty rhythms working well with the soaring Tim Ripper-esque vocals from Samuel Nyman. Think Primal Fear or Accept meets Firewind and Manimal's sound will be easy to understand. Their debut was released in 2009 and it has taken 6 years for them to record a follow up, but what a follow up it is, nothing is radically different but everything has been tightened up and given an attitude injection. Irresistible could have come off any of the last few Primal Fear albums with superior shredding from Henrik Stenroos driving the speed demon metal style of the title track (which has the classic metal scream to open) and the explosive Invincible as the rhythm section pounds like a battering ram and show their mettle on March Of Madness, Silent Messiah which has percussive break joined by some striking strings. The chugging power of The Dark has the keys of Martin Mellström strewn throughout it, Mellström adds some creepy mellotron to the brooding Man-Made Devil. They are not all about speed and fury though as they have huge ballad in the shape of The Journey which has the unmistakable vocals of Udo Dirkschneider duetting with Nyman. Trapped In The Shadows is a great album of tough, mature power metal that gets your heartbeat racing and your horns in the air. Manimal have great things ahead of them with two cracking albums under their belts anyone would be stupid to write them off now! 8/10