Eden's Curse: Cardinal (AFM)
Cardinal is the second record that UK/European melodic metal band Eden's Curse has released since the departure of co-founding frontman Michael Eden. The ship is still steered co-founding members bassist Paul Logue and guitarist Thorsten Kohne, they are still the main creative force behind this band meaning that Eden's Curse still maintain their high gloss metal sound, as well as the penchant for religious and historical imagery in their lyrics and the obligatory beautiful women on the album covers. Eden's replacement Nikola Mijić displayed his skills first on previous record Symphony Of Sin and proved he could handle and even surpass Eden's vocals on the older tracks on their live release Live With The Curse. Once again here he wipes away any naysayers by demonstrating his strong, powerful, Tobias Sammet-esque vocal throughout.
Logue and drummer John Clelland lock in for galloping power metal on Messiah Complex and the pounding, swaggering hard rock The Great Pretender they switch between the two with ease even packing a punch on the slower more emotive songs such as Find My Way and Unconditional (which also features former Leaves Eyes singer Liv Kristine), the band even tackle some funkier influenced rock on Kingdom Of Solitude. Kohne's guitar playing is exhibited across every song riffing like hell and soloing with precision, technique and passion he also duels with the killer keys of Christian "Chrism" Pulkkinen who takes over from Power Quest's Steve Williams who intern took over from Alessandro Del Vecchio (probably because he's in every other band ever). His classy keys are all over the record bolstering the rockers like Prophets Of Doom and giving the AOR touches to Sell Your Soul. Cardinal retains the high level of musical ability and classy songwriting they have always done so well. It's melodic metal at it's finest! 9/10
Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell: Keep It Greasy (Rise Above)
In what is now the post Lemmy era it's always very exciting to hear another band that plays sleazy, gritty hard rock unmoved by popularity and fashion. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell are neck deep in the tradition of the spit and sawdust blues based rocking popularised by early Lizzy, The Groundhogs, Stray and Budgie, it's buzz saw proto-metal at it's rawest. Everything about the band gives a defiantly refreshing, couldn't give a shit attitude, the facial hair, the clothes and lyrical content are all decidedly retro. This is music made in dingy pubs and grotty cafes over a plate of bacon, eggs and spam (topped with extra spam) and my does it sound like it, the analogue production adds an air of authenticity to the fuzzy rocking.
The bands third record doesn't stray too far from those first two with the trio of Bill Darlington on drums, Louis Comfort Wiggett on bass and Johnny Gorilla on guitar and shouting they all attack their instruments with gusto. It's plug in turn up and rock out conjuring the images of long haired oiks in skinny bell bottoms banging their heads while swigging a bottle of Newcastle Brown. Like the famous wood stain this record does exactly what it says on the tin and keeps it greasy from the opening chords dropping in punk, psych, doom and early metal sound. ASCS keep cranking out sweaty riffs played at full volume, long may it continue!! 8/10
Crystal Breed: Barriers (Keymedia)
German heavy prog rockers Crystal Breed's debut record The Place Unknown was somewhat of a revelation, fusing the classic prog sounds with a heavier sound they took cues from acts such as Porcupine Tree, Enchant and Spock's Beard. Their debut was released in 2012 so it's taken four years for this second record to see the light of day, so has that wait been worth it? Well yes it has they pick up where they left off with intelligent, intensely progressive music that skews genres and relies heavily on impressive musicianship. Brain Train starts the album off an a particularly mad note with changing time signatures a bass heavy groove from Nico and vocal harmonies Neal Morse has always done well.
The band have two vocalists shared between guitarist Niklas and keyboardist Corvin and they are also the two members that power most of the songs trading off with their skill at every moment, while Thorsten keeps the tubs thumping and driving songs such as the complicated Barrier Of Ignorance which is the album's longest song and draws from rock, classical, Latin and various other genres in the keyboard heavy middle section that Yes would be proud to call their own. Barriers is another complex album from this German progressive rock band, the songs are long and intricate meaning that it's one for prog fans only. 7/10