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Thursday 27 September 2018

Reviews: Joe Bonamassa, Andrew Stockdale, MaYan, Electric Citizen

Joe Bonamassa: Redemption (J&R Adventures/Mascot)

Redemption is probably Joe Bonamassa's masterpiece, I mean it really is. He's finally managed to incorporate all the sounds he's played with throughout his now lengthy career. With the drum fill from Zep's Rock N Roll kicking off Evil Mama hard rock is expected but blues licks and brass parps is what you get from this strutting opening number, then it's time for some boogie on the frothy King Bee Shakedown and like that the tide changes again with Molly O bringing the Celtic influenced heavy rock of Ballad Of John Henry as Deep In The Blues Again brings to mind his lesser know second and third records which married blues and early 2000's.

So far four songs in an it's a run through of Joey Bones career and it doesn't stop there, he's gets atmospheric for Self-Inflicted Wounds has him bearing his soul in the vein of Gary Moore continuing the theme of redemption that is at the core of this record and comes back on Just Cos You Can Don't Mean You Should. As the man himself puts it “I’m going through some other stuff in my life I didn’t expect to be going through.

It’s a rising, it’s contrition, it’s acceptance, it’s everything. It’s painful, but knowing that there’s a rising coming,”you can hear that as on what his 13th album overall, and his third with no covers he is really upping his game in what he wants to sound like and what he wants to present to others. Pick Up The Pieces has a soulful New Orleans slide ala Tom Waits, he strips things back to their bare minimum for Stronger Now In Broken Places using the talents of drummer Anton Fig, bassist Michael Rhodes, and keyboardist Reese Wynans.

Added to this there are horn players Lee Thornburg and Paulie Cerra, some extra vocalists such as harmony vocalist Gary Pinto and background singers Mahalia Barnes, Jade McRae, Juanita Tippins. As an extra for this record super-producer extraordinaire Kevin Shirley introduced two additional guitar players, Kenny Greenberg and Doug Lancio who give the record it's more expressive tone. With guests including country singer Jamey Johnson on Ghost Of Macon Jones and Midnight Oil’s Jim Moginie providing soundscapes on Stronger Now In Broken Places.

Kevin Shirley has said that there are at least two tracks missing from this album as they filled with recording right up to the last second, you can hear that it's a man who has been in the limelight for some time having a sort of creative catharsis and it's produced the best record of his career. I was losing faith a couple of albums ago but it's lucky (album) number 13 for Mr Bonamassa. Buy it! 9/10

Andrew Stockdale: Slipstream (Middle Man)

The second solo album from Wolfmother frontman Andrew Stockdale is not a Wolfmother album, his first was written while his main band was on hiatus so it was always going to have songs written for the his day job. This second album comes while Wolfmother are still showing concern so it means that Stockdale can experiment a bit more with the sounds that influence him away from the colossal slabs of heavy rock, there's proto-metal on Of The Dark, hazy Beatles psychedelia (Sunshine), Mott/Bowie glam stomping (Lazy & Remember) and folky pieces like Dreamy Afternoon.

It's the sort of songs that wouldn't sit on Wolfmother records too comfortably but show the incredible versatility of Stockdale. That's not to say he hasn't got rock on here as the title track is a pretty heavy prog rocker with some bluesy slide guitar that has the classic Stockdale finesse. Vocally unique as always and able to turn his hand to anything Slipstream is a rocking affair that sits as a side to his main band. 7/10

MaYan: Dhyana (Nuclear Blast)

The third album from Epica mastermind Mark Jansen and Ex-After Forever Jack Driessen once again is a cinematic, death metal record which puts various vocals styles, death metal and orchestrals together for a seriously epic music. This album goes one step further than previous efforts by recruiting a full live orchestra for this third album, they have managed to secure the participation of The City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra (who recently appeared on the latest Dimmu album), who do add another dimension to the cinematic metal of MaYan. it's almost operatic in tone the full orchestra bringing depth to the multiple vocal lines that has four sets of harsh vocals two female voices and one male clean vocal, see the title track for the purest form of opera on the record, but it's quickly back to thundering symphonic death metal on Rebirth From Despair.

They have also brought yet more musicians into the band with the addition of the grunts of George Oosthoek, the intense playing of Merel Bechtold (Delain) and Frank Schiphorst is relentless aided by the 6 -String bass playing of Roel Käller, while Adam Denlinger handles all the clean male vocals in the place of Henning Basse who is now a part of Firewind. The female vocals are Laura Macri (soprano) and Marcela Bovio (clean) letting Jansen, drummer Ariën van Weesenbeek and keyboardist Jack Driessen. It's a lot to take in (as usual) so take a breath and put aside an afternoon to fully experience this record, if you've always thought the Dutch metal scene was a little rinse-and-repeat MaYan turns everything up to it's maximum pomp. 8/10

Electric Citizen: Helltown (Riding Easy Records)

The third album from Cincinnati rockers Electric Citizen is somewhat of an ode to the past. Named after the part of Cincy they hail from it got it's name from the rowdy bars of the 1800's now though it's called Northside and is much more sanitary. This idea can also be used to describe Electric Citizen's new record on their previous effort they experimented a little adding cleaver riffs and more drawn out passages but found they didn't enjoy every aspect of this so Helltown is then reverting back to the form of their debut with gritty Sabbath-styled fuzz riffage and short 3 minute rockers driven by Ross Dolan's mean guitar licks (Ripper) and dramatic almost ghostly vocals of Laura Dolan, see Heart Attack. The album also welcomed back original bassist Nick Vogelpohl who forms a sturdy rhythm section with Nate Wagner for the groovier offerings like the atmospheric Father Time. Nine tracks of dirty Sabbath worship is what you get from Electric Citizen there's not a lot else I can say, if you worship the riff then go on down to Helltown. 7/10

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