British NWOBHM revivalists Monument return with the follow up to their 2014 debut with sophomore record Hair Of The Dog (not a tribute to Nazareth sadly, but related to the bands Bulldog mascot) the title track is about all you need to know about the band that was formed in the ashes of White Wizzard still the vocals of Peter Ellis are part Halford, part Dickinson with a air raid siren style delivery on top of the galloping, dual axe swinging, shamelessly retro metal assault that has put the band once again in the revival category. However what is endearing about Monument is that they are not po-faced about it, they wear their influences on their sleeve and inject a bit of Britishness into their songs about myths, legends, fantasy and the like in a similar way to Saxon. Hair Of The Dog wouldn't have sounded out of place with likes of Denim & Leather, Point Of Entry and Killers.
The sound of Maiden's second album is spread thickly over the punky Streets Of Rage so much so that its sounds like early-Maiden in full flight. Behind Ellis' very English delivery is the top flight band of noted trad metal drummer Giovanni Durst (White Wizzard, Omicida etc) pairing with ex-Absolva/ex-Blaze Bayley bassist Dan Bate who supply the galloping rhythms to the album for Lewis Stephens and Dan Baune to shred like bastards over with a dual riff assault. One thing is evident about Monument is that they have studied the source material closely with two epic tracks coming in the shape of Imhotep (The High Priest) surely a lost cut from Powerslave (it even has the bass driven mid-section breakdown) and the massive ballad break on Heart Of Stone both ramping up the drama as Lionheart serves as a chest beating final song channelling the flag waving Patriotism of Biff and the boys.
There are so many retro loving NWOTHM bands around but Monument just stand out due to their inherent plucky Britishness that made the original NWOBHM very much a phenomenon, all of the trademarks are here the powerful bass, the twin axe licks heck they've even got an instrumental called Olympus that comes near the end of the record as Maiden have always been fond of. Monument are the ultimate if it ain't broke don't fix it band, with enough youthful exuberance to give the trad-revival a shot in the arm and much like Grand Magus, Enforcer and Cauldron Monument sit in the Pantheon of retro styled Gods that draw from one of the most recognisable sounds in heavy metal history. 8/10
A Devil's Din: Skylight (Island Dive Records)
According to their bio "A Devil’s Din is made up of 3 musicians born in the Old World who traveled across the ocean to find each other in Montreal, drawn together by a mutual love of melodic, innovative, inventive and daring rock music." This pretty much sums up A Devil's Din sound imagine classic 60's psychedelic sounds fused with thundering stoner/doom rock that evokes the tie-dye freakiness of Syd Barrett, The Beatles (Sgt Pepper's era) but also riffs of Sabbath along with more modern nostalgic acts such as Purson, Big Elf or Ulysses. Skylight is the bands second record and Canada residing three piece have managed to perfectly encapsulate an entire period in music history.
The band was formed by David Lines who handles guitars, keys and vocals along with Thomas Challet who provides the Rickenbacker voodoo, guitar and vocals and Dominique Salameh (born in Abu Dhabi) provides the Moon-like wild drumming. With swathes of analogue keys and organs, jangling effects filled guitars, Arabic/Asian influences, vocal harmonies and huge mind expanding soundscapes that are dead ringers for the psychedelic trips of Syd's solo stuff and early Pink Floyd right down to the vocals and esoteric lyrics that conjure kaleidoscopic images in the mind's eye. The band have a heavy streak to them on Nature Of The Beast that sounds like Sabbath when it kicks in and it is the antithesis to For A While which is progressive jazzy number followed by Eye's Pie which brings to mind Yes at their most eccentric. In fact there's progressive, jazz, folk, pop and rock all over this record meaning that Skylight is the erstwhile treat for those that love their music trippy, funky and decked out in an Afghan coat and John Lennon sunglasses. 7/10
Sleep Of Monsters: II - Poison Garden (Svart Records)
Finns Sleep Of Monsters come from a long tradition of Gothic rock bands from their home country, something about the frozen tundra seems to inspire morose lyrics and melodic, atmospheric rock music. Bands such as HIM, The 69 Eyes, Sentenced all do misery well and Sleep Of Monsters are the next band to throw their black top hat into the ring and pile on the eyeliner ready to stand awkwardly in the corner and pout. II Poison Garden is unsurprisingly their second album and it builds on their debut with a bigger soundscape than the debut. A track such as Golden Bough features a string section and a female vocal duetting with frontman Ike Vil on a song that is Sisters Of Mercy do James Bond, while Foreign Armies East is a swaying brass backed folk number and Land Of Nod is instilled with classical guitars. For the most part the band are classic Gothic rock with fuzzy guitars, extensive uses of keys and of course Vil's chanting baritone vocals who maybe familiar to some as the frontman of Babylon Whores. The addition of three backing singers called Furies adds another extra dimension to the Goth rocking. As I've said II Poison Garden is an album that sounds just excellent all the elements come together heavy riffs, dark lyrics and the occasional cathartic murder ballad such as Our Dark Mother. I said at the beginning that the Finns do Goth the best and Sleep Of Monsters are yet another band to add to that list of Finnish Goth rockers and they are one that adds a myriad of flavours to the pot. 7/10