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Sunday 11 September 2016

Reviews: Voodoo Vegas, The Apocalypse Blues Revue, Impavidus

Voodoo Vegas: Freak Show Candy Floss (PHD)

Freak Show Candy Floss is second full length album from Bournemouth rockers Voodoo Vegas, their debut The Rise Of Jimmy Silver was released to a lot of critical acclaim in 2013, it was followed by the EP Hypnotise last year which showed the band were still firing on all cylinders. Freak Show Candy Floss is the first album to feature new drummer Jonno Smyth and new guitarist Jonathan Dawson who add their own touches to the established triumvirate of guitarist Meryl Hamilton, bassist Ash Moulton and vocalist Lawrence Case. Voodoo Vegas expertly blend the classic sounds of the Sunset Strip taking the sounds of Aerosmith, Guns N Roses with the modern rock revival and this second album is the continuing story of their protagonist Jimmy Silver now in charge of freak show circus so the songs all fit within the theme.

Opening track Backstabber is a big power chord driven rocker that welcomes you with a massive chorus and solo, while Long Time Gone has blues shuffle driving it. Things slow for Resolution which sounds a lot like The Answer as it has heavy bass line and an acoustic opening that blows into the spiralling riff. The dual guitars are the ideal compliment to the ballsy rhythm section as Case sneers with his Axl-esque vocals. The band are more accomplished on this record than they have been before they also have wider range of sounds with some blues harp parping on Poison and new heaviness on Killing Joke which has slabs of riffs lined up with lyrics that reference the Clown Prince Of Crime. Freak Show Candy Floss is an impressive second shot from these classic styled rockers, with a relentless gigging schedule Voodoo Vegas have honed their sound to produce another strong record of classy hard rock. 8/10         

The Apocalypse Blues Revue: The Apocalypse Blues Revue (Mascot Records)

Drummer Shannon Larkin and Guitarist Tony Rombola have made their names in American alt metal troupe Godsmack. During some of the studio time for Godsmack Larkin started to lay down grooves on his kit in improvising session with the guitarist and he saw the other side of Rombola as he ripped blues solos that evoked the spirit of Hendrix, Page and SRV. From here they set about creating a new project which has turned into TABR, along the way they have acquired Brian Carpenter on bass and on vocals they have found Ray 'Rafer John' Cerbone who is the dead ringer for Jim Morrison. In fact the whole album oozes the blues based cool of The Doors with a punky attitude, this record is a much darker prospect than many of the current blues crop there is a bit of soul and funk in the album.

It's an atmospheric, simmering, fuzzed up release that sees Larkin and Carpenter locked in with dirty rhythm as Rombola slices through with wailing, soulful virtuosic guitar playing. I've mentioned that the band sound a lot like The Doors, they even go as far as cover When The Music's Over as the final song on the album, as far as the rest of the album goes we get heavy wah-wah infected rock on The Devil Plays A Strat (with a nod to Charlie Daniels), the Southern stomp of Evil Is As Evil Does, pure Johnson-style blues on the tragic Junkie Hell. The aim of this band is just to plug in and play and it works, stripped back electric blues that takes blues music back to it's early days played by a group of musicians who though not associated with the genre seem to have an affinity to it, a damn good start for TABR. 8/10         

Impavidus: Impavidus (Self Released)

Manchester's Impavidus have risen from the ashes of My Wooden Pillow, a band who impressed me with their death/groove metal sound. Well MWP's frontwoman Michelle, bassist Patrick and drummer Chris met up with guitarist Gav with the sole intention of creating more very heavy metal. This four track EP immediately reminded me of the unrelenting death metal of Arch Enemy and Carcass with metallic scything riffs from Gav riffing away wildly as Patrick and Chris hammering away in the back room with ferocious blast beats and powerful groove laden bass work.

With the discordant battery going on from the music standpoint they merge it with the varied vocals of Michelle who can soar melodically but more impressively roar better than many of her counterparts, as she bellows over the heaviness. The four tracks on this record are all strong from the hard and heavy Heaven's Gate and the thrashier Excapulate, through the bass heavy Black Mirror and the final technically impressive Scourge, they encapsulate many of the sounds of death/groove metal and deliver them with a percussive force. Keep an eye out for Impavidus as on the basis of their EP they are ready to make a statement in a venue near you soon. 7/10  

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