Welcome Back Delta: Sucker (Self Released)
Three years since their debut release Shocker Cheltenham’s Welcome Back Delta’s sophomore release is well worth the wait. Sucker is just over half an hour of blues soaked dirty rock ‘n’ roll in the style of Clutch and Lionize, to name but two. There’s foot tapping stomp of Beast Mode and Snake In The Grass, the sing-a-long Arms Dealer features Damon T and some sweet blues guitar work whilst it’s not surprise that Bison Steed from Reign of Fury pops up on the fabulously raging Dadgerous. Sucker conjures up images of the roof down on the Cadillac, cold one in hand and the open road ahead with your lady in the passenger seat (Something I’ve never felt when I’ve been to Cheltenham but hey, maybe I took the wrong road).
Joe Kelly has the whisky soaked voice ideally suited to their sound; check out Jeremy’s Iron, which shares its no-nonsense approach with the big noise of Northern Ireland’s Trucker Diablo. Rob Duncan’s guitar work is superb whilst the engine room of Phil Davies and Steve Roberts on bass and drums respectively ensure that the foundation is oh so solid. It’s not all balls out rock and the calmer soul filled The Magic Of Flight reminds you of some 1970s greats, with a single guitar riff and some delicious harmonies. The Southern feel of Black Tie would sit well alongside the likes of Atlanta’s Blackberry Smoke and who could fail to raise a smile to the dirty riffs of the innuendo soaked Don’t Hold It Against Me, Unless It Gets Hard? This is a damn fine album which deserves to be heard. Get involved. 9/10
Meshiaak: Alliance Of Thieves (Mascot Records)
I have to admit that I had a massive fondness for Aussie thrashers 4Arm to the extent that I actually pledged for their last album. Of course, by then the band had made appearances at Download and opened for some of the big thrash merchants in the States, including Slayer. However, in 2014 the voice and lead guitar of the band, Danny Camilleri left and 4Arm’s last release didn't quite match their earlier duo of long players.
What is our gain though it the arrival of Meshiaak (apparently Hebrew for ‘messiah’) which features Camilleri alongside one of the best drummers in the thrash scene, Jon Dette who has occupied the seat for Slayer, Testament, Anthrax and Iced Earth to name but four. With extra shred brought to you by Dean Wells and thundering bass lines delivered by Nick Walker, the four piece who come at you out of Melbourne have served up a very tasty slab of quality thrash metal.
It's not just heads down balls out thrash though. I Am Among You retains the power and drive but has a more complex and intricate feel, soul searching solos giving the track some real heart. The aggression which Camilleri showed with 4Arm remains and his vocal delivery continues to give that Hetfield/Araya combination which really works. Opener Chronicles Of The Dead is area. Statement of intent and Dette’s drumming is just insane. The melody provided by Wells’s backing vocals also adds to the mix. With a dash of early Bullet For My Valentine as well as the more obvious Metallica and Megadeth influences coursing through this beast, tracks such as It Burns Both Ends with a neat oriental flavour and the harmonies of the guitar work on Drowning, Fading, Falling really work and add variety to the all out assault.
This is a solid solid album, well written and excellently performed. At The Edge Of The World utilities some keyboards to provide a Trivium edged track whilst Last Breath Taken really does leave you gasping for air. This is a circle pit anthem which could do some damage given half a chance. Alliance Of Thieves picks up where Submission For Liberty finished. Get some Meshiaak in your life. It's a decision you won't regret. 8/10
Castle Welcome To The Graveyard (Prosthetic)
I have to admit I'd not come across Castle, a powerful. Three piece from San Francisco and Toronto but I'm glad I now have. Welcome To The Graveyard is their fourth full length release, not at all bad for a band that only formed properly in 2009. As the title suggests, Welcome To The Graveyard is heavy on the occult and dark themes, with tracks such as Black Widow and Hammer And The Cross not hiding anything away.
Despite the traditional doom sound of the genre being rather slow and ponderous, Castle really don't sit back and for a three piece they make an excellent sound. Al McCartney’s drum noise is loud and proud, sat somewhere in the 1970s but with a contemporary twist. Mat Davies’s guitar work is excellent and I use the comparison with Tony Iommi as high praise rather than as the standard comparison for all heavy doom outfits. His fret work on Black Widow and Flash Of The Pentagram are just two examples of his quality. Leading it all on vocals and driving bass is Elizabeth Blackwell whose voice is just so suited to Castle’s sound.
Powerful, aggressive and not afraid to really kick out the jams, Castle’s eight track release is a pretty fine piece of work. The magnificent Down In The Cauldron Bog with its atmospheric intro, haunting gothic vocals and crushing riffs is perhaps the pick of the album, but that might just be splitting hairs. It's all damn fine stuff. Get yourself down to the graveyard. You won't be disappointed. 8/10