Mitch Malloy: Makin' Noise (Self Released)
Mitch Malloy came to prominence by signing to RCA back in the early 90's releasing his debut record Mitch Malloy in 1992, he proceeded to release records throughout the 90's and into the 2000's chalking up some top 20 hits, an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and even auditioned for the job of Van Halen vocalist after Sammy Hagar's departure (the job actually went to Gary Cherone and we all know how that went, so maybe he dodged a bullet). Malloy is something of a name in his native USA but he has never really broken this side of the pond. Well on the back of this his seventh solo album things are set to change as Malloy will set out on UK tour (including Cardiff), so does the album warrant the tour? Happily it does, if you love classic American hard rock then Makin' Noise will get you very excited, with nods to Bon Jovi, Tesla, Winger, the Red Rocker himself littered throughout, there's even some old school British rock present with Speak Of The Devil having the heavy organ riffs of Deep Purple.
The songs on this record are very strong, with fist pumping rockers like Rock N Roll, My Therapy and Shook sitting pretty with ballads like It's Just A Word which is a little Beatlesesque and the Blue collar storytelling of the lighter-waving I Was Wrong which has a sound developed in the heart of Malloy's adopted home Nashville. What's impressive about this record is that Malloy, plays, sings and produces everything, there is real care and attention it's authentic hard rock music that was all over MTV in it's heyday, tracks like Alone conjure images of driving a muscle car through the desert with your luscious locks blowing in the wind and a smokin hot babe in the passenger seat.
It's decadent but with a working man's grit, for all the posturing that comes through there are tender moments as mentioned but mostly what is evident is the talent of Malloy, his vocals are practically perfect see Life Has Just Begun and his musicianship is incredible from the first chord. Makin' Noise is a great hard rock record and really whets the appetite for the upcoming live dates, pick up the album, learn the songs, get yourself down to one of the shows and get ready to party like it's 1995!! 9/10
Preacher: Aftermath (Self Released)
When you listen to Preacher you have to ask yourself a single question. Do you like Pink Floyd? If the answer is no then move on, however if it;s a solid yes then welcome to the best Pink Floyd album released since Division Bell. Aftermath is pure Floyd from start to finish, the emotive guitar playing backed by the swirling synths will bring to mind the legendary sounds of Gilmour and Wright especially on War Reprise with atmospheric music where the silence speaks just as loud as the sound. The eight piece Scottish band are heavy touring combo that features three guitarists, Greg Murphy only one playing the searing leads, the other two being Martin Murphy on rhythm and Ron Rodger acoustic respectively.
In the rhythm section they also have Gordon Munro on bass and Iain Duncan on drums echo the rhythmic power of Waters and Mason which is fused with the massive use of keys from Arny Burgoyne all of which comes together to create epics soundscapes not seen since the heyday of progressive rock. Vocally too the spirit of Floyd is worn all over Aftermath Martin Murphy's vocals simultaneously evoke Waters and Gilmour but also Bowie on Hold On and Mark Knopfler on the incredibly good Welcome To The Fray, Martin's smooth tones often give way to gritty shouting on the harder edged songs.
The record opens with the title track which is built upon a single piano piece and a haunting vocal as the synths bubble underneath, it's slow burning opening that explodes into an amazing guitar solo to end the piece as Angela Bell and Kerry McWhinnie provide the "ooh" choirs. This sophomore album harks back to the glory days of progressive rock with a massive amount of Pink Floyd but also King Crimson and Yes, if you love classic progressive rock then you must buy this album it's simply stunning. 9/10
Blind Saviour: The Master Plan (Self Released)
Blind Saviour are apparently Malta's best and only power metal band formed by bassist Karl Friggieri, guitarist Aldo Chircop and drummer Robert Friggieri out of the ashes of thrash/speed metal band Phantom Lord. Along the way they were joined by singer Rachel Grech and guitarist Campos Gellel and after a brainstorming session Blind Saviour was born. The Master Plan is the bands debut release and follows the story of the Blind Saviour character so yes it's a concept album but one where the individual songs are used to tell the story rather than the Rhapsody-esque segues and spoken word sequences.
The power metal style is similar to that of Blind Guardian (a notable influence), Iced Earth, Freedom Call or really any dual guitar wielding heavy power metal band, there is not much room for keys relying mainly on the shredding, bass galloping and rattling blasts of percussion to power the sound. Musically it's been done before but Blind Saviour do it well with enough enticing riffs and solos for any discerning power metal fan.
They also have scored big time with vocalist Rachel who has a wide range soaring into highs from a powerful mid, similar to UK band Triaxis the band are not you usual female fronted mob this is fist pumping metal that just happens to have female singer. The Master Plan is a tough sounding, accomplished debut from a band that are both the originators and innovators of the sound in their fair country, hopefully those outside Malta will also take Blind Saviour to their hearts. 8/10