Halestorm: ReAniMate 3.0 (Atlantic)
I what seems to be a recurring theme now Halestorm have released another EP of covers as stopgap between full length albums with artists as wide ranging as Skid Row, G'N'R, Pat Benatar, Judas Priest, The Beatles, Lady Gaga and Daft Punk covered in the past you never know quite what to expect from the Pennsylvania natives on these EP's. Luckily we have familiar territory as the famous opening of Still Of The Night starts Lzzy Hale gives it a jolly good belt her voice at full power, those who have seen Halestorm recently know that they have been playing this one live and as such they channel that live sound into this recorded version.
On the rest of the record there is the poppier sounds of Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover by Sophie B. Hawkins and Heathens by Twenty One Pilots both showing the more melodic radio rock style of the band even but they often use these EP's to show off their heavier sound this time with Soundgarden's Fell On Black Days and Metallica's Ride The Lightning (which is done brilliantly actually). Tellingly their cover of I Hate Myself For Loving You by Joan Jett sounds exactly like a Halestorm song rather than a cover. ReAniMate 3.0 is yet another selection of choice covers to satisfy the fans. 7/10
Dead Witches: Ouija (Heavy Psych Sounds)
Ok I'll get this out of the way now Dead Witches are a doom band made from members of other doom bands and as such they sound like an amalgamation of the bands they have all previously played in. The band is the unholy union of Mark Greening formerly of Electric Wizard, more recently With The Dead his 'supergroup' with Cathedral's Lee Dorrian and Virginia Morti the vocalist of Psychedelic Witchcraft so here on this debut record you get all the facets of both musicians past the rumbling heavy doom riffs Greg Elk (who sadly died after album had been recorded) cranks out at full volume, Carl Greary's bass rattling your eardrums, Greening's drumming thundering like heavy artillery fire as Morti's haunting vocals bewitch with tales of the occult.
The record is a psychedelic, hypnotic debut that beckons you into it's sinful, subversive sound with a vintage flavour, right from the discordant Intro the record takes you back to the halcyon days of Dopethrone (the record was recorded in the same studio as that legendary album). Drawing Down The Moon has a stoner rock vibe with the fastest riffage on the record, while Dead and Ouija are the low, slow, groove-laden doom songs you'd expect from those involved. Ouija kicks out the distorted, trippy, fuzzy riffs and is the exact record you'd want from anything Greening is associated with. 8/10
Solarus: Reunion (Self Released)
Canadian progressive metal band Solarus have a modern take on progressive metal, much like fellow Canadian's and similarly titled Borealis. They have technical modern riffs from band founder Lucas McArthur, his guitar playing is virtuosic, his rhythm playing cranks the technicality, the solos are impressive feats and he also handles the bass giving the bottom end for drummer Jacob Burton to blast away against. Up front Sarah Dee's vocals are excellent she delivers each line with conviction and the requisite power giving a nice change from the normal female fronted metal, Solarus have a sound more akin to Threat Signal, Symphony X and as I've said Borealis, who the band have much more common with than just name and sound.
Borealis' drummer Sean Dowell provides this record with the stirring orchestrations, Ethereal Tears being the pick of the bunch and their singer Matt Marinelli gives a blast of his baritone duetting with Sarah on Shattered Skies and the title track. The band are really a female fronted Borealis but this is not a bad thing by any stretch, I love Borealis they have managed to keep the progressive metal scene very fresh and as such I also like Solarus a lot they too play direct prog/power metal that is equally complex and accessible much like their fellow Canadians. 8/10