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Sunday 26 August 2018

Reviews: The Guess Who, Monte Pittman, Ethernity

The Guess Who: The Future Is What It Used To Be (Cleopatra Records)

Probably best known as the band that recorded American Woman that featured Randy Bachman later of Bachman Turner Overdrive, they have been playing live ever since 1965 with a few gaps of course, but this marks their first studio album in 20 years! So is it any good, well it's definitely what I'd call a classic rock record When We Were Young opens things with a poppy bluesy glam number with Runnin Blind having the parping sax of Leonard Shaw bring to mind acts like Mott The Hoople. Membership wise the recording line up is the current touring line up: Garry Peterson (drums, vocals), Derek Sharp  (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Will E. (guitar, harp, vocals), Leonard Shaw (keyboards, flute, sax, vocals), and Rudy Sarzo (bass, vocals), they have been together in this formation since 2016 but the album features guest appearances from Tommy Shaw (Styx) on vocals, Brent Fitz (Slash, Gene Simmons) percussion, Jim Kale (Guess Who founding member) and Michael Devin (Whitesnake) on bass guitar.

Back to the music and The Guess Who have just brought their 60's sound into 2018. They have some psych on Give It A Try, Beatlesy vibes on Playin On The Radio and of course some ballads Haunted being the best but mostly the record is the same kind of thing The Guess Who have always been good at, bluesy rock that's about a natural sounding as possible, no big production or layers of synths just simple instrumentation and old-fashioned songwriting. There's nothing flashy on The Future Is What It Used To Be and yeah it's a bit bland at times but the record has competent rock. 7/10

Monte Pittman: Between The Space (Electric) (Metal Blade)

Monte Pittman has had pretty eclectic career as a guitarist being both a member of Prong and the guitarist for Madonna, he’s toured the world, played with the biggest and brightest, as well as also having a long running solo career, Pittman is a philanthropist, guitarist, songwriter and singer, so you won’t expect him to do anything by halves and on this most recent solo records he’s recorded two separate albums that fit together as two halves, Better Or Worse is an all acoustic record but Between The Space hits between the eyes with metallic riffs and fury, the crunchy Evidence kicks off the record with 90’s metal riffs and virtuoso soloing that moves into the Prong-like thrash of Ominous/Hope. It’s pretty standard groove driven metal stuck in the late-90’s early 2000’s style of low riffs and chunky riffage. If you’re a fan of Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam or even Prong then you’ll lap this up, it works well as a counterpoint to the acoustic record reviewed below but on its own it’s just ok. 6/10

Monte Pittman: Better Or Worse (Acoustic) (Metal Blade)

As well as the electric offering reviewed above Monte has released an 8 track acoustic record Better Or Worse an album that has heavy lyrics but soft musicality, it’s meant to be a polar opposite to Between The Space dealing with being attached to something and also being unattached, it’s a grower with the title track the darkest of the songs here due to its stripped back emotion, Whose Side Are You On? Has a delicate beauty to it and as the record progresses the songs build into more musically dense numbers with the Torchbearer having a heavy electric final third and military drum pattern, which leads into the unsettling Witch Trials. This acoustic album gives a new side to Pittman’s performance his voice becomes Bono-esque and his songs seem more personal here, as a juxtaposition to Between The Space it’s ideal but it holds its own as separate piece. 7/10

Ethernity: The Human Race Extinction (AFM)

The Human Race Extinction is the second album from Belgian prog metal sextet and in the style of Symphony X and Evergrey it's emotional, heavyweight music with buzzing electronics in conjunction with the modern metallic riffs make tracks like Mechanical Life really shine as Julie Colin belts out the dystopian lyrics that make up this concept album as the band of Julien Spreutels (keyboards), Nicolas Spreutels (drums), Francesco Mattei (lead guitar), Fran├žois Spreutels (bass) and Thomas Henry (guitar) supply the cinematic soundscapes which is bolstered by the mix and mastering skills of DGM guitarist Simone Mularoni. The conceptual nature of this record is quite dark and gloomy (it's about extinction after all) but there are glimmers of light but with the thick djent riffs driving the majority of the record it never strays far from the dense progressive metal sound. It's a long record (14 tracks) but it's modern progressive metal with Ethernity adding their own take on  well worn sound. 7/10

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