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Wednesday 16 January 2019

Reviews: Imperial Jade, Usurper, Demon Head, Hey Zeus (Matt & Paul H)

Imperial Jade: On The Rise (Aural Music Group) [Matt]

Get those hips ready for a good shaking as Spanish classic rockers are a very rare mix of head swirling psych, hard rock riffage and howling vocals that owes a lot to American genre leaders (and former tour mates) Rival Sons, blast Dance and you'll understand what I mean the echoed vocals, the stop-start Zep-alike riffs it's the sound of 1968 to 1976 as the Summer Of Love transitioned into the glory days of arena rock n roll. The band hail from Barcelona and their music is just as sunny as their Californian brethren mixing styles to great effect, with The Call bringing the funk and fairly bold percussive freak-out in the middle, the soulful Lullaby In Blue is a neat middle section to chill the fire of the other tracks it's very Houses Of The Holy.

With guitars, drums, bass, keys and vocals Imperial Jade are properly analogue old school rock n roll band and on this second album they really show their skills, a track such as Sad For No Reason is a scuttle-buttlin country stomper, Heat Wave an organ drenched rocker while the finale of Struck By Lightning has those head-tripping psychedelic keys to really close the record out in fine style. OK so it does sag a little in the middle but every slow maudlin number explodes into a mass of dirty riffs and hollered vocals making everything all better. An album for those with dancing shoes and a love of the classic rock sounds, while you wait for the new Rival Sons record pick up Imperial Jade rise with them! 8/10

Usurper: Lords Of The Permafrost (Soulseller Records) [Matt]

This one packs a bit of an old school punch. Usurper are supposed 'legends' of the Chicago music scene, returning after 14 year hiatus. This sixth album features a down-tuned style of traditional heavy metal that mixes some black metal blastbeats, thrash riffs and snarled vocals for more extreme take on a well worn genre. Reminding me of the Germanic thrash titans such as Kreator, Sodom and Destruction, Lords Of The Permafrost has a lyrical style dealing with monsters and folklore. A track such as Gargoyle shows this with the absolutely destructive double kicks leading some thrashy riffage and galloping melodic leads.

Skull Splitter kicks off with acoustic intro then actually begins to split your skull. The title track has more of chug and there are also some death metal stomps that also come through on this 8 track record. The production is a little muzzy leaving the vocals quite high in the mix and with the guitars so distorted it's difficult to pick them out. This aside Lords Of The Permafrost is a record to bang your head too thick juicy slices of the more extreme end of thrash. 7/10

Demon Head: Hellfire Ocean Void (Svart Records) [Matt]

Goth rock is probably one of the genres that I can take or leave, some bands such as Type O Negative I love but others really don't do it for me. Danish band Demon Head have brought those days of Gothic rock back to casting it at truly original music, however it's not it's pretty standard Gothic rock. Starting out with the discordant intro Rumours, Hellfire Ocean Void is about as dark and spooky as you can get, echoed production and vocals sit atop dual leads and keys. To the untrained ear you'd think they were jumping on the Ghost bandwagon but for those with heavy eyeliner, fishnet clothing and New Rock boots, the depressive, atmospheric compositions that have swishing guitars and heavy pianos ideal for a dark night smoking by the candlelight. Unfortunately I did find my attention wandering after a few songs as there is only so much wailing and morose music you can take. Still for Goth fans Hellfire Ocean Void will be a most played record. 6/10

Hey Zeus: X (Argonauta Records) [Paul H]

Boston-based Hey Zeus fuse stoner and hard rock with a style that is both classic and modern. X is their debut release and it is a decent listen. Underneath the 29 minutes which comprise this release lurks a punk attitude which surfaces from time to time, adding a primal edge to their short punchy songs. Loitering towards the end of the album is a cover of Deep Purple’s Bloodsucker, from the In Rock album, a thick chunky version which doesn’t bring anything new to the table but is a pleasing version all the same.  Hard riffs, driving fast paced rock n’ roll and soaring vocals are all here in an album that suggests Hey Zeus may well be able to climb Olympus soon. A healthy start. 6/10

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