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Sunday 24 September 2017

Reviews: Gizmodrome, Gun, Angel Nation, Kamikaze Test Pilots

Gizmodrome: S/T (earMusic)

So Gizmodrome, four incredibly talented musicians together in one band so you'd expect there to be a lot of intricate instrumental sections and progressive music that is far and away out of the normal listening habits. However what you get is the off kilter power prog pop, layers upon layers of instrumentation all virtuosic. The band are four of the most accomplished players in the music industry. drummer/arranger/vocalist Stewart Copeland (The Police), bassist/vocalist Mark King (Level 42), guitarist/vocalist Adrian Belew (King Crimson) and keyboardist/organist Vittorio Cosma because of the mix of membership it means that the sonics are all over the place.

There is a definite Frank Zappa quirkiness to it all, vocally the band is somewhere between Zappa and Les Claypool the band's other musical similarity. It's jazzy, rocky, funky and at time downright mad in places wildly veering from genre to genre but still sounding self contained. Man In The Mountain has the regatta de blanc of Copeland's 'other band' but it's the only track like this, plus Mark King is a better bass player than Sting will ever be.  The lyrical content is zany with the satirical quirks Talking Heads, but isn't the instrumentation that is what will keep the music nerds happy, Mark King plays lead bass throughout his four string jazz funk rhythms fighting with Stewart Copeland's expressive drumming and while they both sound like the are playing different songs it fits.

As Belew's guitars continually remind you why he was sideman to Robert Fripp for years and Cosma widens the soundscapes for this musically arresting soup. Gizmodrome have released the most musically accomplished, quirkiest record of the year, if Zappa, Primus and Captain Beefheart are your bag, play this over and over and let the musical madness wrap you in saran wrap and squeeze your jiggly bits, sorry as the band themselves say Strange Things Happen. 9/10   

Gun: Favourite Pleasures (Cloburn Music)

Thirty years is a long stretch for any band for a while there it looked like Gun may not make it, having had a few hiatuses and a few singers since their heyday, the tale of this Glaswegian rock band was set to become one of those what could have been tales you see late at night. Thankfully they have ploughed on with Dante Gizzi behind the mic and since his debut as a singer (he was originally the bass player) on Break The Silence not only has his voice come on in leaps and bounds so has confidence of each record.

This is probably to do with the non-stop touring the band do, but it means that Favourite Pleasures the band's ninth album is probably their most varied in all of the thirty years. There's a little bit of everything here from the poppy hooks of She Knows which takes bittersweet lyrics and marries it with frenetic guitars from Jools Gizzi and new boy Tommy Gentry, the raging RHCP disco-funk of the filthy title track, the bouncy Silent Lovers (which I can't help thinking sounds like the theme from The Sweeney) and Here's Where I Am has the bluesy fuzz of The Black Keys.

The record was apparently written after Dante's breakup with his ex-partner and there is a lot of darkness below the surface rocking which comes to a head on the mega ballad Boy Who Fooled The World which sees Dante giving his most emotional performance on the record. The special edition features another four songs including their cover of Fight For Your Right To Party which has become a live staple. Favourite Pleasures sees Gun still plugging away with the kind of radio friendly hard rock that has seen them last 30 years, live they are brilliant and if their records mean they get more stuff to play then that can't be a bad thing. 7/10

Angel Nation: Aeon (Inner Wound Recordings)

Back in the annals of the Musipedia Of Metal I reviewed the debut album by Angel Nation, then they were called EnkeliNation (the same name in Finnish), their record was stylish melodic symphonic metal and it did impress, since their debut they have changed their name to the easier to understand Angel Nation but the music remains the same. The band was formed by singer Elina Siirala who has an ethereal atypical classically trained vocal and between the debut and this their second album she also now sings for Leaves Eyes which means that the performances on this record have been honed a lot more than on the debut and it also means that it has differentiate itself from Leaves Eyes.

It's fortunate then that Elina tries to be as musically diverse as possible with her songwriting, opener Burn The Witch is closer to the bombast of Nightwish, Breathe Again brings the gothier elements of Within Temptation and there is even some Lloyd-Webber drama on Wonder Who You Are which moves into a gallopin Maiden riff courtesy of Sonny Antoniou (guitar), Julia B Cadau (bass), Lucas Williamson (drums) who blast beats the hell out of Free. It's another strong record from Angel Nation with lots of booming symphonic rockers and the obligatory super ballad in Music Plays that features Elina's mother on violin, if you think the 'female fronted' tag is overused and dying out then think again, Angel Nation keep the flag flying high. 7/10

Kamikaze Test Pilots: Stealing Chameleons (Gwash Records)

How does one steal a Chameleon? I would assume it would be difficult due to their ability to blend in with their surroundings. Unless of course the title of this sophomore album from South African alt rockers refers to Chameleon's stealing, in that case I would think the scaly master of disguise would come into it's own being subtle and stealthy. Subtly is not something Kamikaze Test Pilots excel in, their music is loud and abrasive, this trio make a lot of noise and it's a noise difficult to describe, shouty, riffy and frantic Betty Ford is the first single and first track from the record and it gets you ready for what's to come.

The record is a twisting turning journey of fuzzy riffs, psychedelic freak outs and raw vocals, the title track is full of punk rock fury, Weirdo Beardo has the desert trippiness, it's like Clutch jamming with QOTSA while travelling the worlds bars, an expedition that could produce the gypsy drinking anthem that is Emigre. The record moves between styles with no breaths in between, one minute they could be ramping up the funk, bringing furious African grooves (Crocophile), the next punching you in the throat (Dawg) before bringing things to an emotional end with For Frankie. Ryan Niemandt (vocals/guitar) Wes Niemandt (drums) and Simon Buckett (bass) play music that intrigues, excites and never gets bogged down in genre boundaries, whether you are stealing Chameleons or having things stolen by them, this record is an odd slice of rough, ready and sonically expansive music. 8/10

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