Hatesphere: Reduced To Flesh (Scarlet Records)
Powerful, crushing and immensely gnarly, album number ten from the Danish death metallers explodes into life with Corpse Of Mankind which follows the atmospheric build-up of Praeludium. Driving riffs, huge drums and slabs of concrete heavy passages slam with utter devastation; this is shatteringly brutal, as one would expect from a band now into their 20th year. The Aarhus outfit take no prisoners, switching between thrash and death metal with ease; check out Ruled By Domination with its slight gothic edge or the title track for examples of the former (although the psycho-style middle section moves the track to pure evil) whilst Corpse Of Mankind demonstrates the band’s dedication to the death metal genre.
Although only Peter Hansen remains from the original 1998 line-up, the current version has in part been together for over eight years, with Esben Hansen’s appearance here his fourth studio outing and a continued similarity to At The Gates frontman Tomas Lindberg. Mike Park is once again in the drumming hot seat and his performance is as solid as on previous albums; in fact, his driving intensity propels the band through Reduced to Flesh at frightening velocity. This is an album that could start a fight if played in an empty room, such is its ferocity and venom. 8/10
Ace Frehley: Spaceman (Entertainment One)
The former KISS guitarist was always a bit of a hero of mine. I was distraught when he left the band in 1980 to be replaced by the (in my mind) inferior Vinnie Vincent. Of course, I was a mere youngster then, caught up in the mysticism that KISS in the late 1970s still generated, despite their bloody awful music of the time. The Spaceman’s solo album was the best of the four simultaneous releases from the band in 1978, and still stands up reasonably well. Having read his autobiography I have to admit that his confidence in the quality of his music has never been matched the output he has generated. His output in recent years has been average with a seemingly factory line of routine rock songs that sit more comfortably in the 1980s.
Spaceman does little to change my opinion with a selection of average New York forged songs that follow the same formula that the first solo album took back in the 1970s. The exception is Mission To Mars, a rip-roaring hard rock track and allows Ace to let fly with his guitar playing. Rockin’ With The Boys, Pursuit Of Rock N’ Roll and Bronx Boy are middling rock tracks whilst the two tracks co-written with Gene Simmons (Without You I’m Nothing and Your Wish Is My Command) are exactly as low rent as you would expect. Frehley’s guitar work throughout the album smokes hot; he is an underrated guitarist for sure but his songwriting just isn’t that brilliant. Once more the memories are best left undisturbed. 5/10
Disrule: Sleep In Your Honour (Seeing Red Records)
I don’t think I’ve heard such filthy dirty riffs since Geezer Butler’s fuzz balled bass intro on the opening bars of NIB set the standard which so many bands have attempted to recapture ever since. Denmark’s Disrule’s sophomore release which follows their 2016 debut Omen Possessor certainly worship at the Sabbath altar, but throw in the heavy stoner influences of Clutch, Kyuss, Fu Manchu and Orange Goblin to name but four. This isn't your normal desert biker rock though, as the band utilise two vocalists to provide contrast.
Bassist Allan Segalt shares the microphone duties with drummer NP Nielsen allowing the distortion of guitarists Frank Sorensen and Soren Dybdal to run riot. From the opening bars of the title track with its huge nod to Dave Wyndorf and Monster Magnet via the raging (Gotta Get Some) Control to the massive punk fused How You Suffer, Disrule make one huge sound. Nielsen’s drums are enormous, at times just about retaining a semblance of control as they crash around, teetering on the brink of chaos. Of the many stoner 70s rock I’ve heard this year, Sleep In Your Honour is amongst the best. 8/10
Vandenberg’s Moonkings: Rugged And Unplugged (Mascot Records)
Stripped down to Adrian Vandenberg’s acoustic guitar and the vocals of Jan Hoving, Rugged And Unplugged sees the former Whitesnake guitarist take on seven of his own compositions and Whitesnake’s Sailing Ships in a format shorn bare of all the usual orchestral pomp that accompanied Moonkings and Mk II. The guitar work is as expected, perfect and beautiful. Sailing Ships is well known due to the Coverdale version, and Hoving at times is so close to the maned one that you could be forgiven for wondering if the Cov had joined forces once again. There’s nothing actually that wrong with this release; Hoving has a soaring voice which handles all the tracks with ease, emotion and soul. It’s just a little lacking in sparkle.
If you saw these guys in a bar, you might watch whilst you drained a pint but I’d probably head to a different boozer for my second one. The length of this album also rankles a bit. Eight songs, the longest of which clocks in at under five minutes, doesn’t represent great value for money these days. A classy instrumental in Sundown lasts a mere 1:30. Still, if you fancy some gentle background music whilst having your chilli con-carne and a glass of red, this might just do the job. 6/10