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Saturday 29 October 2016

Reviews: Korn, The Answer, The Pretty Reckless, Pelander

Korn: The Serenity of Suffering (Roadrunner) [Review By Paul]

It only seems like yesterday that Korn were being labelled the flag bearers for the Nu-Metal movement with their self-titled debut crashing into the scene with all the finesse of Donald Trump in a brothel. Since Korn hit the shelves in 1994, the band have stuck faithfully to their own sound, distinct and immediately recognisable. Three years since 2013’s The Paradigm Shift, The Serenity Of Suffering is their 12th studio release and it hits hard and heavy. Opener Insane has a brutal riff, the usual throbbing bass lines that we’ve come to expect from ‘Munky’ whilst Brian ‘Head’ Welch is now firmly back in the fold and shredding harder than ever. It’s as heavy as anything Korn have released since those early days and with the line-up stable these days, it’s easy to hear how this has benefited the band. With Ray Luzier firmly ensconced on the drum stool, ‘Fieldy’ driving his guitar and Jonathan Davies in fine vocal form, this is a pretty solid album. Of course, if you don’t like Korn, this won’t change your mind on iota, even with Corey Taylor adding his unmistakable roar on A Different World. Produced by Nick Raskulinecz, full of crashing riffs, big hooks and thundering bass, Korn continue to follow their own path, unaffected by fads or fashions. 22 years on from that stunning debut, the Korn juggernaut shows no sign of slowing down. 8/10

The Answer: Solas (Napalm) [Review By Paul]

For many The Answer are the ultimate good time band, full of anthems and sing-a-long songs, heart and passion. The Answer has always been one of THE bands to see live. On record, they’ve blown hot and cold. After the impact that debut Rise had in 2006, great things were expected. Everyday Demons, Revival, New Horizons and last year's Raise A Little Hell all contained a mix of good stuff and some average songs. Maybe they've just plateaued a little too much? Solas will do little to change that situation. Coming off the back of some of the most unfortunate personal issues you could imagine, it’s astounding that the band ever wrote again.

So maybe it’s unsurprising that there is a profound change in sound present on the album. Focusing more on a lighter, traditional feel but with a huge amount of reflection and introspection, the band have returned to their Celtic roots with fiddle and folk influences all present. The title track is a stunner. Full of atmosphere, intense and brooding, it is without a doubt one of the tracks of the year. Hearing it on record cemented the live experience when the band debuted it at the Steelhouse Festival in the summer. The power continues on Beautiful World which maintains the change in direction. Battle Cry requires a couple of listens but gets better with a folksy blues feel. It’s on track four, Untrue Colour where the band really move away from their Zeppelin stomp, with a sound reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age. Less rock, more pop but a good track. Thief Of Light fuses the new style with some heritage, a return to the Gaelic influences. 

From here on it all becomes a touch weaker and apart from the driving rocker Left Me Standing which is very much in the vein of old school sound, the rest are just a little filler. Demon Driven Man, Real Life Dreamers (with additional vocals from Fiona O’Kane) and closer Tunnels do little although the lyrical content tugs at the emotions. The deluxe edition adds three bonus tracks; an acoustic version of In This Land, a demo of Light In Darkness which is actually one of the best tracks with its heartfelt feelings and Paul Mahon’s honest guitar work excelling and a cover of Pink Floyd’s Money which adds little but does allow Mahon to show his chops again.

It’s hard to be tough on such a great band. Live they are one of those bands I’d never tire of seeing. They have energy and power, with the natural and engaging charm that the people of Northern Ireland possess. They’ve also been through a lot of shit, with Cormack Neeson in particular clearly using some of Solas to verbalise the world of darkness he inhabited for four horrendous months. And it’s not a bad album by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just not the brilliant release we all hoped it would be. 7/10

The Pretty Reckless: Who You Selling For

Third album from The Pretty Reckless sees them spreading their musical wings a bit more which shows the band are trying hard to impress more with their songwriting and musical nuances than the fact they are fronted by the incredibly attractive and more than a bit naughty (especially live) former actress and model Taylor Momsen. The band, and Momsen especially have been trying to define themselves as musician, rather than just a project, their previous release achieved this part of the way but with this third record it looks like they will get the recognition that, on the evidence they deserve. Here Momsen displays her vocal versatility while the band make sounds that are far more mature than before, The Walls Are Closing/Hangman opens the record with grinding progressive grunge, which itself is a misnomer. Many would have been drawn to the record due to first single Take Me Down which is a jangly rocker with some great percussion and Taylor using her husky vocal to perfection on a track that sits well with more recent Halestorm approach.

The classic rock vibe continues on the soulful stomp clap of Prisoner, the funk fuelled Wild City which contains a smattering of Doobie Brothers-like guitars, on a track that sounds like it should be in a Shaft episode. There is a jam-like feel to this record, it's sounds as if it was recorded live in the studio. They've drawn from their influences with punk (Oh My God), Country (Back To The River which features Warren Haynes), blues (the moody title track). Who You Selling For really does let the music do the talking. This record shifts the focus of The Pretty Reckless from them being a actor's other project to being just a band in their own right, with a well constructed, performed piece packed with some of the band's most accessible and strongest material yet. 8/10

Pelander: Time (Nuclear Blast)

Pelander is the solo project of Witchcraft main man Magnus Pelander, Time is his debut solo album and sees the multi-instrumentalist/vocalist exploring paths that his main band would fear to tread. Despite Witchcraft having an expansive style of doom/occult rock, Time takes it's cues from the pastoral side of music featuring mainly acoustic sounds this record brings to mind Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull and even Opeth in their quieter moments, with the guitars backed by violins on The Irony Of Man as Magnus uses his dulcet tones to sing songs of change, love and loss with the title track one of the best on the records with tapping percussion and some haunting female vocals. This is a relaxed fireside album that merges the occult sounds of Pelander's day job and takes them into the acoustic realms never before heard. Time is not a metal album, neither is it a rock album but it has a presence all of it's own, listen to it on a cold winter's night in front of a warm fire and you will be bewitched by it's charms. 7/10


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