Headspace: All That You Fear Is Gone (InsideOut)
When looking back at the numerous (1,000 +) albums we have reviewed here it's always interesting to see which albums I keep coming back to. One of these is Headspace's 2012 full length debut I Am Anonymous which continues to get better every time I listen to it, each play reveals deeper meaning and more complex parts that I hadn't heard on previous listens. Now as many will know from these reviews I'm a bit of a prog fan so to have what is essentially a prog supergroup playing complex, intelligent, heavy music with an overarching high concept lyrical content that deals with the Kübler-Ross model of dealing with grief is an interesting and emotional prospect. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw that Headspace were on the verge of releasing their second album which deals with the on going journey of the first albums protagonist (the listener) who has cast off their obedience to experience their own life independently, becoming in frontman Damian Wilson's words "Free thinking, fighting against natural grouping, what appears as destructive rebellion is in fact evolution. Written to make the listener think, whilst capturing the ear with complexity and simplicity combined." So more high concept stuff combined with technically gifted performances drawing from various stylistic influences but filtered into superior songwriting so the album never feels totally inaccessible.
The gestation period of this album has been five years but this time has meant that the band have had time to properly craft this record in the way they see fit, with all but drummer Richard Brook returning from the debut record, his drumstool has been taken by noted session man Adam Falkner but the quality is still here in droves. Once again the trio of guitarist Pete Rinaldi, keyboardist Adam Wakeman and bassist Lee Pomeroy are the bands' musical soul, Rinaldi especially has really left his mark on this record, his guitar playing is technically impressive and along with Pomeroy gives the record it's heaviness however he can also do more than riff and solo, going into acoustic blues on Polluted Alcohol and even some classical guitar on the beautiful title track.
Pomeroy's bass playing is not relegated to just rhythm though it slinks under the surface adding flourishes whenever possible rooting all of the music's dense riffage and time signature changes along with Adam Falkner's expressive drumming. This allows Rinaldi to soar and Wakeman to do as his father has done before him and add swathes of luscious melodies that create an atmosphere that is hard to ignore drawing you in especially when combined with the majestic vocal prowess of Wilson who soars with same power and fragility that he shows in his own band Threshold. All That You Fear Is Gone is yet more proof that Headspace are the best kind of 'supergroup' one that relies on the talent of the members more than notability and history of them. 9/10
Reckless Love: InVader (Spinefarm)
"Marty! We've got to go back!!" these iconic words from Back To The Future couldn't be more apt for the 80's-tastic Reckless Love that have always gleefully reveled in being an amalgamation of Def Leppard and Van Halen wrapped up in one band. However InVader is a deliberate step away from the retro pomp metal sound of their first two records, this change has been coming since their previous release Spirit where the band toyed with electronica and more pop-like sounds, this influence seems to be what has carried over to this fourth album on tracks like Child Of The Sun which is pure synth pop, as is the saccharine Scandinavian Girls which is ludicrously throw away. As well as the more synth-led aspects they have also added a huge amount of modern radio rock on the opening We Are The Weekend which sounds a lot like many of younger bands around such as All Time Low with it's huge sing along chorus, a trick they repeat on the Euro-Pop metal Pretty Boy Swagger.
Things get a little tougher on Monster which is more like fellow Finns Lordi although the band still have the ability to sound like they come from the Sunset Strip with Bullettime and the filthy Hands both having the sordid hard rock of Ratt, Poison or Van Halen. The band are by no means amateur's everything is delivered with style and wrapped in the thickness of production that means everything sparkles brightly, with all of the progression on this album it does mean the whole thing may be a bit too slick for a lot of people. This is a well made, produced and played album but the band are on dangerous ground moving away from their hard rock history towards a much more mainstream sound. Only time will tell whether this pays off but for now it may take some getting used to. 6/10
The New Roses: Dead Man's Voice (Napalm)
The resurgence of bluesy hard rock seems to be gathering pace every year with The Brits, Americans and The Swedes leading the way with The Answer, The Temperance Movement, Rival Sons, Scorpion Child, Bonafide and Free Fall all coming from that legacy of great hard rock bands, channeling Zeppelin, Free, The Black Crowes, hell even old Whitesnake. Well all the way from Germany comes a new band you can add to the list of blues based hard rock booty shakers, The New Roses are more 80's/90's than 70's styled with shaking blues base mixed with a lot of the sleaze of the strip, in a as far as influences go they are firmly in the American/Australian sound with Black Crowes & AC/DC overarching added to a big heaving load of Cinderella mainly due to frontman Timmy Rough's vocals which are rough by name and rough by nature, sounding like he smokes 50-a-day his vocals are gritty and raspy but also have a soul that is a rarity these days. The band have garnered a lot of experience having supported ZZ Top , Black Stone Cherry, Joe Bonamassa, Die Toten Hosen, Blackfoot and Molly Hatchet in their native Germany they have gained bags of exposure, which has bolstered and honed their skills since their debut full length record Without A Trace (the title track featured in trailers for Sons Of Anarchy on German TV).
This experience is evident from the off as Dead Man's Voice kicks things off with a punch to the nuts on Heads Or Tails which has muscular backbeat from drummer Urban Berz and bassist Hardy that makes it similar to a Quireboys track albeit it a little heavier than that band will ever get. The bluesy swagger continues on the slide guitar filled Thirsty which due to some dirty riffs from Norman Bites and Rough sounds a lot like Rose Tattoo with Rough taking up the mantle of Angry Anderson. There's a distinctly modern sound too on Partner In Crime which could be a Soundgarden track, a style that abates on the quiet-loud dynamic of the country tinged neolithic title track which is built on huge guitar riffs and thundering drums. The sheer heaviness of this record is to it's benefit it makes the songs seem fresh. The rampaging I Believe is a showcase for the gag vocals on an Alter Bridge rhythm, while Ride With Me is more Black Stone Cherry with a huge chorus. Rough and Bites' riffage is awesome with the two trading solos throughout most noticeably on the explosive Try (And You Know Why).
The sublime songwriting continues on the Black Crowes-alike Hurt Me Once (Love Me Twice) and the impressive ballad What If It Was You which could have been a number one back in the 80's with ease. The final track is the monstrous From Guns & Shovels before we get four bonus tracks (two coming from the band's debut). Make no mistake with big riffs, big choruses, more cowbell (The Secret) and an album full of hip shaking rock and roll The New Roses are a true hard rock revelation. If you love true honest hard rock with a sizable portion of the blues that is distinctly modern ala The Answer,The Temperance Movement or The Black Crowes, then pick up Dead Man's Voice, grab a bourbon, a pack of smokes and turn it up loud, you will not be disappointed! 9/10