White Widdow: Silhouette (AOR Heaven)
When I say Australian rock music to you what comes to mind? Probably big power chords, brawny vocals, heavy drinking and a man in a school boy outfit who should know better. Yes Australia does tend to get stereotyped with their rock music, with AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, Airbounre however they do a good trade in modern metal (Parkway Drive), power metal (Black Majesty) and as I've demonstrated on a few occasions they can really pull off the sunshine AOR of the Sunset Strip with bands such as The Radio Sun evoking the melodies of Journey and their contemporaries. Well here we are again in FM radio territory with White Widdow who've been around since 2007 and who I have actually listened to before but never realised were Australian until now.
I actually thought they were American or at least Scandinavian (the other big AOR stalwarts) but no these are Aussies that play the sort of synth heavy 80's rock that should be the backing track to a stylish, lens flare heavy movie starring Tom Cruise. Brothers Jules (formerly of Welshies Tigertailz) and Xavier are the soulful vocals and layered shiny keyboards of the band with Enzo Almanzi on the lead guitars, Ben Webster on bass and Noel Terry on drums.
The music on this record is as slick as Crockett and Tubbs dress sense, it purrs like a bright white Lamborghini, Silhouette is chock full of driving anthems like Stranded, Wild At Heart and Game Of Love that you can just hear playing out of s supercar as the sun glows orange over the bay on the horizon. The perfect album to do away with the winter blues White Widdow are sweeter than a candy cane dipped in Golden syrup, if you love this music Silhouette is a shining example of the genre. 8/10
Heaven Below: Good Morning Apocalypse (eOne Entertainment)
Reading the info for this band I made a lot of suppositions and I have been proven wrong on most of them. Good Morning Apocalypse is the third record from LA band Heaven Below, formed in 2007 by Patrick Kennison formerly of Union Underground, a band that I know from a theme they did for WWE Monday Night Raw in the early 2000's. After the breakup of that band Kennison formed Heaven Below, they have released two records and have gone through multiple line-up changes with Kennison being the only consistent member since the beginning.
For musicians that are normally associated with the Nu-Metal scene this record spreads its wings and adds choirs to Nefarious Angels which puts it in the realms of symphonic rock, while on Devilina And The Damage Done it's full heavy metal fury with Kobra Paige duetting with Kennison, Nightfall Comes Again brings some electronic touches then Killing The Deadman blows you out of the water with ferocious blastbeats. It's a very heavy album that sits in the harder rock bracket as there are big choruses but chunky riffs, while listening to the record I couldn't help but think of Sixx A.M as this record shares a lot of similarities with Nikki Sixx and James Michaels band.
This record is a concept piece based around one soldier (Corporal Todd Grant) that intersperses the songs with spoken word pieces however the songs stand up by themselves as individual pieces especially on the tracks that feature guest vocalists like Lita Ford (Running Under Satan's Hand) and Udo Dirkschneider (Black Sunrise/War Of The Gods). Don't let the previous bands of the members put you off Heaven Below are an excellent modern metal band and this record is very impressive, polished, slightly progressive and filled with towering heavy rock songs. 8/10
King Hiss: Mastosaurus (Self Released)
Another concept piece now but this one deals with themes that are black as tar, mainly the story of a doomed antihero fighting his own demons. Luckily King Hiss pack riffs strong enough to level mountains, Belgium is probably not the place you would immediately go for thundering stoner metal but my God King Hiss mean that you might do after this. The four piece are a musical hodgepodge with thick, sludgy stoner riffs (Renegade), crushing doom (Homeland), a rock n roll swagger (Killer Hand) and some hardcore influences (Egomaniac), hell they even throw in a breakdown on the rapid fire Tourniquet.
The music on this record is tight as hell and has genuine urgency to it, from the distorted We Live In Shadows and the drum fuelled almost tribal title track through to the acoustic laced, Alice in Chains-esque Stuck In A Hole. King Hiss are a mighty noise from the land of chocolate and much like their countries beer they hit hard and leave a lasting impression rattling your brain for a solid 36 minutes before the minor key piano of Requiem For The Lost plays you out giving rest-bite from the riffage yet still having ominous overtones. Mastosaurus is a superior stoner effort with these Belgians needing more your attention. 8/10