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Monday 7 January 2019

Reviews: Gin Annie, Festerday, Fusion Bomb, Emerald Sabbath (Reviews By Paul H)

Gin Annie: 100% Proof (Off Your Rocka Records)

With over 6500 likes on Facebook and half a decade already under their belt as a band, Wolverhampton hard rockers Gin Annie finally get their debut release out to their increasing fan club. I saw these guys support Graham Bonnet in Pontypridd last year and they gave a reasonable show (although Bonnet was ropey to be honest and the night was stolen by Doomsday Outlaw). Full of energy and bursting with confidence, the band are another in the new wave of British classic rock alongside a plethora of bands like Those Damn Crows and Federal Charm who pushed through in 2018.

Vocalist Dave Foster and guitarist Byron Garbett, who are cousins form the nucleus of the band, now completed by guitarist Brian Green, Phil Burrows on bass and drummer Jack Ryland Smith. Their music hits a certain market, and whilst there is nothing which gets me excited here it’s a competent performance from a band that may well take some large strides in 2019 towards those events which seem to be everywhere; such as the Planet Rock sponsored Rockstock, Winters End and Steelhouse Festival. It’s certainly well played, with Foster giving a solid vocal performance throughout and Garbett’s lead work neat and tidy. Tracks such as the single Chains, Next 2 Me and Damage Is Done are all ear worms which get the foot tapping. Fitting into an already crowded market, Gin Annie may well push their way towards the front of the pile. 7/10

Festerday: Iihtallan (Seasons Of Mist)

The two-track bludgeoning from the Finnish underground cult death metallers which hit late in 2018 was the perfect precursor for this long-awaited full-length debut. The two tracks contained in that release, The One Who Strangles Stars And Suns and Let The Sun Vomit Its Beams Upon Your Cold Swollen Skin were uncompromising, and I said at the time were ‘fused with raging punk anger and massive slashing riffs’. Well, the full-length monster continues in the same vein, but with an underlying melody which is surprising at times given the ferocity of the EP. Don’t get me wrong, this is no love song-soaked release, and it is still as brutal as the taster menu was. Tracks such as Edible ExcrementVomiting Pestilence and Into The Void, with its doom laden feel, are as relentless as you would expect; the ferocity of the band obvious within the chaos that is unleashed. Powerful, crushing and with the duel guitar work of Timo Kontio and Teemu Saari razor sharp, Iihtallan is an uncompromising slab of death metal which merges the old school sound with punk fuelled aggression and the imperiousness of quality black metal. A nasty, snarling piece of work which sets 2019 off to a fantastically gruesome start. 8/10

Fusion Bomb: Concrete Jungle (Iron Shield Records)

Oh yes. Fucking yes! Form a pit and stomp your arse off as old school thrash from Luxembourg crashes into 2019 with a total disregard for anyone or anything. This is thrash as it should be. Fast, ferocious and totally infectious. Not merely a nod but a massive head swing to the legends such as Exodus, Death Angel and Overkill, Fusion Bomb hit the accelerator with intent on Zest Of Scorn and decide that the brake pedal is for pussies until they slam head first into the wall as the last bars of their cover of Excel’s I Never Denied fades. In between there is nothing but massive riffs, roaring vocals and groove inciting rhythm with their 2018 single You’re A Cancer To This World and the frantic Nyctophobia amongst the numerous highlights. Home of Amazon’s tax dodging HQ and everything else that is bland and dull, Concrete Jungle is the complete opposite. When thrash is done well it is hard to be beaten. This is a thumper of a debut. 8/10

Emerald Sabbath: Ninth Star (Plastic Head)

Let’s face it, 2019 is shaping up to be a kitbag stuffed with dog shit. Political chaos, climate change and humanity is generally being total twats to each other. So why not start the New Year with an album that mirrors that stinking festering kitbag; a tribute to Black Sabbath performed by some of those who starred in the band during the years the band was never actually meant to be anything but a project for Tony Iommi, alongside some tracks that are never going to be bettered. Add in The English Chamber Choir and a string quartet and already this is looking either highly ambitious or an idea that should have been aborted in the first trimester. This is the brainchild of Michael Sullieabhain, apparently a former nuclear construction safety inspector who clearly lost the plot in his day job. He’s managed to bring together virtually every person who played in the various versions of Sabbath apart from Iommi, Butler, Ward and Osbourne, as well as Ronnie James Dio’ Glenn Hughes and Ian Gillan. So, apart from Vinnie Appice, a real bunch of also rans really.

Let’s tackle the string quartet pieces first as they are probably less of an irritation. We get Embryo from Masters Of Reality, which is pointless before Stonehenge from 1983’s Born Again which is three times as long as the original and goes precisely nowhere. Fluff, originally an acoustic piece from 1973’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, is a superb breather in amongst the chaos that was unfolding on and around that album; here is it is routine, with the string quartet providing a passable cover which adds precisely nothing all to the original. Orchid, from Masters Of Reality is another that is unable to achieve any upwards propulsion and leaves you yawning whilst Superstarz fails to ignite even the smallest spark of interest. So that covers that. And then we get to the real steaming turds. 

First up is Die Young from HeavenAand Hell. With a production that sucks balls, and an attempt that can only be described as a passable pub covers band, the immediate outrage of any attempt to cover RJD is fuelled by the absolute desecration that follows. Back to 1983 with a ball achingly bad version of Trashed, which was only ever any good because of Iommi’s riffs and Gillan’s maniacal shrieks … and the fact that Gillan only joined the band because he was pissed. The album hops eras, with She’s Gone from Technical Ecstasy totally ruined, which is impressive given how much of a rhino turd that album was anyway.

In For The Kill fails to ignite anything without the passion of Glenn Hughes whilst the turgid approach to Hole In The Sky had me screaming “turn it off”. But just before you think this is reaching the nadir of the album, Adam Wakeman pops up with Changes, one my most hated of all Sabbs songs and absolutely destroyed in putrid lift muzac. With a line-up that ranges from Bev Bevan, Neil Murray, Appice, to Tony Martin, Terry Chimes and Laurence Cottle (those huge household Sabbath names) this may well be badged as a tribute to the godfathers of metal but please in the name of the black winged one stop. It is dire and deserves only to reside in the £0.99 bin for eternity. Put on some proper Sabbath and forget it ever existed. 1/10

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