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Sunday, 16 July 2017

Reviews: Stone Sour, Five Horse Johnson, Ulvedharr (Reviews By Paul)

Stone Sour: Hydrograd (Roadrunner Records)

It’s been four years since the double concept release The House Of Gold And Bones Part 1 & Part 2 was released. Since then Jim Root has been the most notable departure of the engine which fuels much of Corey Taylor’s creativity. The resurgence of Slipknot with several world tours in between along with his spoken word efforts and his creative writing made him appear almost as busy as Dave Grohl. Album number seven has now arrived, a 15-song beasty crammed full of delicious hooks and melody whilst retaining the aggression and cutting edge that the band has always possessed. It’s one that really requires repeated listens to appreciate the quality. 

From the reggae fused Rose Red Violent Blue (This Song Is Dumb And So Am I), the killer opening tune Taipei Person/Allah Tea to the hook laden single Song #3, there is much to appreciate and enjoy here. Taylor’s voice, surely one of the best in the business, is on top form, snarling one minute, crystal clear smooth the next. Guitarist Christian Martucci has slotted in perfectly, his riffs brooding and dangerous. 

The obligatory ballad St Marie sees backing vocals from Pearl Aday (that’s Mrs Scott Ian folks) but one thing that Taylor can do well is a heartfelt ballad. Full of slide guitar, it’s a real country sound which fits surprisingly well. As with most albums containing 15 sons, there is a little filler and it tails away slightly towards the end. Overall, this is a solid and reliable addition to the catalogue. They band play the Motorpoint Arena on 5 December. Live, they are tremendous and I shall certainly look forward to how the new stuff translates. 8/10

Five Horse Johnson: Jake Leg Boogie (Small Stone Recordings)

I should admit I knew nothing about this band. Jake Leg Boogie has changed that. This is album number eight for a band who are now 20+ years in the making. Blues soaked hard rock ‘n’ roll if you must pigeon-hole them. Cross early the grit and guts of early Aerosmith, throw in a large spoon of Clutch, a pinch of George Thorogood and the Destroyers and the ball smacking sound of Orange Goblin and you’ll have a fair idea. 

There’s the smoulder of Little Lonely, the stomp of the title track, the driving rock of Hard Times and the harmonica drenched Overload. Eric Oberlander’s voice reeks of unfiltered cigarettes, whilst Brad Coffin and Phil Durr lay down the riffs with as much soul as the Grim Reaper after a good night’s work. It jumps, it glows and it kicks ass. A beauty of an album. 8/10

Ulvedharr: Total War (Scarlet Records)
Old school death metal is having something of a resurgence with a slew of cracking releases this year. If you like the battery of Entombed, Unleashed and Obituary and the Scandinavian scene then Italian outfit Ulvedharr’s third full release Total War should sit comfortably in your collection. With skull crushing riffs from start to finish, frantic fretwork and an assault and battery from the thrashing of Mike Baid’s drumming, Total War is as brutal as you would expect.

Ark Nattlig Ulv’s guttural vocal delivery fits perfectly for the merciless onslaught. It’s occasionally mellow, providing welcome space and atmosphere, such as the pause in Flagellum Dei, which divides the six-minute track superbly. There is some quality guitar work amid the chaos, with Ulv and newish guitarist Guiseppe Ciurlia shining. Powerful, imposing and full of strength, Ulvedharr’s latest release is a fine addition. 8/10

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