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Sunday, 7 October 2018

Reviews: Slash, Arabrot, Wolfheart, Creye (Reviews By Alex, Paul S, Rich & Paul H)

Slash With Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators: Living The Dream (Snakepit/Roadrunner) [Alex]

Eight years have passed since Slash, decided to kind of launch a solo career, by which I mean he has still been in collaboration with some equally talented performers. His self-titled debut was more of a compilation, seeing him collaborate with artists from Iggy Pop to Ozzy Osbourne, to Fergie, a venture which yielded some mixed results. One collaboration which did not yield disappointment, however, was the one with Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge. His soaring vocal prowess just seemed to mix perfectly with the signature shredding style of the legendary Guns n’ Roses guitarist. Since then, the two have joined each other on a few sold-out tours and performed on three albums together. Living The Dream, as you may expect, is an album of straight up and unashamed hard rock, Glam metal attitude with some good ol’ fashioned rock n’ roll flair thrown into the mix.

Call Of The Wild opens proceedings, with a harsh, crunchy riff, almost in the vain of AC/DC, while Kennedy keeps his singing to a low purring, still exuding that traditional charm, yet with more hiss and bite to add some welcome diversity to the beloved classic tropes which these musicians have always championed. Serve You Right and Read Between The Lines have a little more of that old-fashioned sting. My Antidote and Mind Your Manners have a stylish 80’s-metal charm, showing the Conspirators at their absolute finest. That is to say when they aren’t utilising their talents for balladry or theatricalism. Guns n’ Roses could always adopt a more reserved nature when they needed to, as can all Alter Bridge - so when we hear that tone given life on the romantic Lost Inside The Girl and the acoustic-led The One You Loved Is Gone, it naturally fails to disappoint.

By bringing together the strengths of Kennedy and Slash, Living The Dream proves another wild experience. While it has its less exciting moments – I personally find myself skipping Slow Grind and Sugar Cane – there enough moments which prove strong, without having to imitate any previous successes of any of the performers involved. Maybe Slash’s desire to collaborate and learn from friends, evidenced by that debut solo album, is what keeps his deserved icon-status blasting loud and clear. 7/10

Arabrot: Who Do You Love (Pelagic Records) [Paul S]

Arabrot is Norwegian singer songwriter Kjetil Nernes. Who Do You Love comes 2 years after the last Arabrot album The Gospel. The Gospel was written and recorded while Nernes was recovering from a rare form of cancer, 2 years later (and now a father), it feels like he is reevaluating his life, after a very close brush with death. The title of the album comes from a Bo Diddly song, and there is a healthy amount of the blues in this album. The album starts with the fairly strait up rock track Moldoror’s Love, a simple, but effective way to start the album. The Dome has a relentless driving rhythm that reminds me a little of Talking Head’s Psycho Killer, but with a much more menacing guitar riff. Warning is a raucous, pounding track that is a little like a more punky Monster Magnet.

The first 3 songs give the album a great, uptempo start before it gets a little more complex. After a great triumvirate of driving rock songs comes Pygmalion, a soft, delicate track. The song is just keyboards and female vocals, sung by Karin Park, Nernes wife. Pygmalion is breathtakingly beautiful, and is a stunning interlude between strait up rockers and the darker material that comes after it. Next up is Arabrot’s version of a traditional spiritual; Sinnerman, made famous by Nina Simone. The track has cleaner guitars with a military style snare heavy drumming. Nernes uses a lower register singing style on this track. The effect is a little like Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, but with a slightly more unhinged feel to it. Sinnerman is a great track, it really gets into your head, I challenge you to listen to it without singing along! After Sinnerman is the track Look Daggers, which starts with a spooky theremin sound, before a relentless rhythm starts and brings in simple, threatening guitar lines and vocals that Tom Waits would be proud of.

The slightly threatening feel continues with A Sacrifice, a slow burning rock track, which has mournful piano, violin and a great chorus. The album now gives the listener a break from the darker material with the more upbeat track Sons And Daughters. Sung by Karin Park again, this song has a much more positive feel to it, an uplifting piano line makes the song seem more hopeful, and a slide guitar helps this feeling of positivity. Last song Uniform Of A Killer could have come from the soundtrack to a western. Not a John Ford western; this is much more of a late sixties counterculture western, something like El Topo. The song has slide guitar throughout it, and that military style snare is back. There are also some keyboards and bells, to make the mix really interesting. Uniform Of A Killer is a great, atmospheric way to end the album.

Who Do You Love is a fantastic piece of work. Although I’ve mentioned quite a few, fairly normal acts in comparison with this album, all of it has been put through the Arabrot filter. This album reminds me of a dream. A dream filled with familiar, normal, everyday objects, but where nothing is as it should be. This is the normal, feeling threatening and dangerous, everything is slightly twisted, not quite right. The guitar and bass is a little too distorted, the vocals are a little to demented, the feel of the album is a little too sinister. So don’t worry Arabrot aren’t trying to get on Radio 2, this is still a twisted rock album. An album of huge quality and worth. I’ve really enjoyed listening to it, and comes highly recommended! 8/10

Wolfheart: Constellation Of The Black Light (Napalm Records) [Rich]

I’ve been a fan of the work of Tuomas Saukkonen for many years being an avid listener of his previous bands Before The Dawn, Black Sun Aeon and Dawn Of Solace but somehow have not yet managed to listen to his latest project Wolfheart despite Constellation Of The Black Light being the fourth album from the band. Wolfheart is unmistakably the sound of Tuomas Saukkonen and a continuation of the previously mentioned bands with a sound that mixes the more straightforward melodic death metal of Before The Dawn with the melancholy and dark melodies of Black Sun Aeon and Dawn Of Solace.

It’s a winning combination and results in Constellation Of The Black Light being one of the better albums I’ve heard this year from the ten minute plus epic opener Everlasting Fall, the symphonically tinged Defender and my personal favourite the aggressive yet hauntingly melodic Breakwater which is one of the best songs I’ve heard from Mr. Saukkonen. Wolfheart seem to be making a name for themselves in the metal world and it’s about high time that the work of Tuomas Saukkonen reached a wider audience. Here’s hoping that Constellation Of The Black Light will bring the much deserved attention the band requires. Now excuse me whilst I listen to the rest of the Wolfheart back catalogue…9/10

Creye: Self-Titled (Frontiers Records) [Paul H]
Retro pop-rock in the classic AOR sound arrives once more from Sweden, a country which appears to have an insatiable appetite for the saccharine coated rock song. Formed in 2015 by guitarist Andreas Gullstrand, this is 14 songs of sheer terror; it’s so nice and cheerful that you might just lose self-control and break out the dance moves you didn’t even know you harboured, so deep were they locked away. Synth heavy in all the right places, it also includes a classic 1980s drum beat and some of the most glorious harmonies that rock can buy.

Yep, it’s absolutely awful but somehow, as with numerous Frontiers releases, the polish and shine makes it a rather tidy album. With the high-pitched soaring vocals of Robin Jidhed certainly the right match, and the rest of the band harmonising magnificently, tracks such as All We Need Is Faith, Different State Of Mind and the ghastly semi-ballad of Desperately Lovin’ will have those who love their rock on the soft side swooning and gushing with joy. 7/10

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