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Monday, 17 September 2018

Reviews: Ian Gillan, Master, Dead Letter Circus, Emperors Of The Wasteland (Reviews By Paul H)

Ian Gillan: Ian Gillan And The Javelins (earMusic)

Transport yourself back 54 years and a teenage Ian Gillan, yet to become the rock god with Deep Purple, is cutting his teeth with The Javelins, a good time rock n’ roll band who comprise guitarists Tony Tacon and Gordon Fairminer, drummer Keith Roach and bassist Tony Whitefield. Their one album was a selection of cover versions of tunes that were popular at the time. Speed forward once more, to 2018 and Gillan, now a veteran and real rock legend has reunited with The Javelins to record 16 tracks of old school rock n’ roll which sounds as fresh now as it did back in the band’s fledgling time together.

Recorded in four days in a studio in Hamburg, with just the basic instruments available, Gillan told Ultimate Classic Rock that having got the original band together, the band “kept playing in the style which was in 1962 and consequently when I’m listening to this, I think ‘My God! This is so authentic’. It sounds exactly as it did in those days”. With the addition of Don Airey on piano this really is a trip down memory lane. Do You Love Me, Memphis, Tennessee, High School Confidential, Save The Last Dance For Me and Rock n’ Roll Music all feature in a sixties style which was a feature of every café, high school and youth club back in the day.

It’s not metal at all, and most of our hard-edged readers will probably recoil in horror, but I really enjoyed this release. About as far away from most of the stuff we review as it can be, this is nevertheless a fun release dating back to a time when music was genuinely vibrant, exciting and the beating pulse of the youth across the world. 7/10

Dead Letter Circus: Dead Letter Circus (Rise Records)

I struggle with alt-rock most of the time. The multi-layered angst driven guitars, the mournful vocals and abstract time changes rarely engage my listening delight. Such is the position with Dead Letter Circus and their self-titled fifth album. Unsurprisingly, I was unaware of the band, but I was interested to discover that the Brisbane outfit released their debut This Is The Warning in 2010 and have built solidly on that ever since. To be fair to the Aussies, Dead Letter Circus is superbly crafted, with the musicianship clinically delivered. Kim Benzie’s voice, whilst typical of the genre, is crisp and clean, with the sorrowful vocals a perfect fit for the intricate delivery.

The guitar work of Clint Vincent and Luke Palmer is neat and sharp, with Benzie’s keyboards subtle. The album consists of ten tracks, the pick of which is Change, with its strong chorus and hard driven guitar work. Ladders For Leaders changes style a little, with a slower paced start, reminiscent of Linkin Park at their height. However, there is a fair bit of repetition and the tracks do tend to blend into each other. I may be being unfair on a band who are clearly hitting the right notes and if you like the alt-rock style this is worth checking out. Just not for me. 6/10

Master: Vindictive Miscreant (Transcending Obscurity Records)

Death metal legends Master have never featured in the Musipedia before so with the release of their much-awaited full length album Vindictive Miscreant what better time to wrong this right? Formed way back in the mid-1980s as Death Strike, the band, and it’s driving force Paul Speckman were originally from Illinois but relocated to the Czech Republic. With a stable line-up since 2003, where Speckman was joined by drummer Zdnek Pradlovsky and guitarist Aleš Nejezchleba, Master have continued to deliver their gargantuan vitriolic intensity with dogged single mindedness. Soaring guitars, unearthly vocals and a drum and bass combination that rattles the bowels of hell, Master is unashamedly old school; think early Death, Celtic Frost, early Sepultura and Obituary.

The album features eight tracks of relentless riffage, with the schizophrenic Sabbath riffing of The Inner Strength Of The Demon (Children Of The Grave anyone?) contrasting with the all-out frenzy of the opening title track and the 100mph rampage of Replaced. Speckman’s guttural delivery is without doubt amongst the evilest that exists within death metal, his strangulated gargle guaranteed to raise the hackles. This may be the band’s 12th studio release but with history and a trademark gritty sound on their side, Master once again demonstrate that they are amongst few bands who are able to continue along the path they carved. Flawless in execution, saturated with hunger, passion and integrity, Vindictive Miscreant provides perhaps unnecessary validation that when it comes to death metal, Master remain very much in the heavyweight division. 8/10

Emperors Of The Wasteland: Begin (Self Released)

Limited information available on these guys, but I can tell you that Emperors Of The Wasteland hail from Derby, formed in 2016 and are a four-piece who play stoner edged hard rock. Clear Sabbath influences run through their debut release, Begin. Whilst the Sabbath riffage is evident throughout, there are many other sounds contained in this release. See You Again finds the band in full Cult territory, with vocalist Al delivering an eerily Astbury performance and in fact it’s Astbury that Al’s voice is reminiscent of throughout. The slow burn of the title track, full of sludgy riffs neatly contrasts with the pacier opening tracks Under The Skin and Zodiac. First single Mickey Finn is a solid hard rock song with some strong work from guitarist Sid and overall, whilst Begin is unlikely to win any awards it is a perfectly decent debut album. 6/10

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