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Tuesday 12 March 2019

Reviews: FM, Re-Animator, Gary Hoey, Profundae Libidines, Tome (Paul H)

FM: The Italian Job Live (Frontiers Records)

I saw FM most recently supporting Saxon at the Barrowland in Glasgow. The band had been catapulted into that tour as a last-minute replacement for Y&T, who in my view were a much better fit. Having seen the UK melodic outfit several times I was still very impressed with the way the band grabbed their opportunity. Of course, FM are veterans of the UK rock scene, with ten albums under their belt and a devoted audience across the globe. This live album, recorded at The Frontiers Rock Festival in Milan in April 2018, captures the band on sparkling form, performing tracks from their catalogue including their massive debut Indiscreet, sophomore release Tough It Out as well as rarer tracks and a selection from their recent Atomic Generation album. In terms of melodic AOR rock, FM are absolute legends and their polished confidence shows through track after track here. 

Opening with Black Magic and I Belong To The Night, the band power through their 17 track set, including Let Love Be The Leader (a single from 1987) and obviously finishing with That Girl and Other Side of Midnight as you would expect. In vocalist Steve Overland, FM possess one of the best vocalists in the business, his smooth, velvet style perfect for the band. Guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick can show his chops throughout, and what a stunning guitar player he is. Alongside Kirkpatrick, Jem Davies adds the depth with his rich keyboards. Holding it all together, Pete Jupp and Merv Goldsworthy maintain the rhythm with ease. 

Having formed in 1984, disbanded in 1995 and reformed in 2007, FM are clearly in the form of their lives, and this latest live release, their first since 1993 is a perfect statement of health. FM are the definition of melodic rock to me; they do what they do in style and on occasions, are just what I want. Just like Thunder, the band get better with age. They hit Cardiff in April with The Quireboys which promises to be an enjoyable evening and well worth checking out. 8/10

Re-Animator: One More War EP (Self Released)

Old school thrash from Hull. That’s what we have here with the first offering from the 2013 reformed outfit Re-Animator since 1992’s That Was Then…This Is Now and whilst stating that it’s been worth the 27-year wait is probably pushing it, this is solid and frantic thrash in the style of Onslaught, Xentrix and Evile amongst other UK stalwarts. The title track hits hard from the off, Kev Ingleson’s snarling vocals on key, his guitar matching the effort of Dan Murray as they race at breakneck speed. 

It’s big, ballsy and true thrash filled goodness. Condemned To Eternity II maintains the pace, slicing riffs and frenetic rhythm work powering the band forward. Old Stinker’s sinister tale of stalking belies its humorous title. Re-Animator were in the wrong place at the wrong time all those years ago, but One More War demonstrates that the UK can still produce quality thrash metal when it feels like it. With the Maiden feel in the opening of Blood Soaked Vacation soon giving way to a more visceral attack, this is an EP that really excites. Ingleson is joined by Murray, bassist John Wilson (who has left the band since the release) and drummer Jamie Cammish and this current line-up of Re-Animator is proving that sometimes, the old dogs can do it better. 8/10

Gary Hoey: Neon Highway Blues (Provogue Records)

Another big name in the blues rock scene, Neon Highway Blues is the 21st album by Gary Hoey. Amazing how these guys just churn this music out but regardless of quantity, it’s the quality that counts and this album is as impressive as many of Hoey’s peers in the Blues world. We all know that it’s the guitar work that is all important on such releases and Hoey, who has enlisted Eric Gales, Josh Smith, Lance Lopez and his 17-year-old son Ian Hoey to participate, is as good as you will have heard. Whilst the focus is very much on the blues soaked soul, there is enough here to interest more than just the enthusiast. Emotionally charged tracks such as Don’t Come Crying contrast with the crunching fuzzy stoner style riff which kicks off I Felt Alive and the melancholic title track which closes the album in a laid back manner. Delicate, raucous, beautifully delicate and throwaway aggressive, this is an album that works on many different levels. Worth taking time in your day to chill out and enjoy some masterful playing. 8/10

Profundae Libidines: Procés De Sorcellerie (Self Released)

Bit of a challenging one this. Profundae Libidines is a one-man project which has been in existence since 2009. The main man is Philoxera, who plays all the instruments and delivers the vocals. Based on the French Witch Trials of the 1400s, I’d hazards a guess that the lyrics, which are all in French, deal with the whole concept of the events which led to hundreds of so called ‘witches’ being murdered. It’s an intense listen from start to finish, with additional flute and violin adding to the haunting atmosphere. Vocally it is hysterical, with the guttural roar in the early tracks slowly morphing into a squeaky gremlin style, whether this is a parody or not I’m undecided but its unintentional I’m sure. 

During Visions I we experience what sounds like The Count from Sesame Street making a cameo appearance, and again I apologise, as this is clearly a complex piece of work which has taken time and talent to craft. The production is a little thin but at times the album is extremely interesting and complex in its patterns and direction. As with many solo projects, this album sounds a little lacking in cohesion although there is enough here to maintain the interest. The challenge is knowing that it is just one person who has made this music; you can’t help but consider what this musical talent would sound like in a full band. I tired quite badly towards the end of this release, the repetitive riffs and loops in conjunction with the tinny drum sound starting to grate on the old nerves a bit. Black metal needs angst, it needs darkness, mist and feeling. This is decent enough, but it won’t win any awards. 6/10

Tome: Tome (Self Released)

As far as I can work out, Tome are a three-piece doom outfit from Ireland. This is a 25-minute shambles, filled with darkness, echoing chords and thick haunting organ. Eerie, narrative split each of the tracks, whilst the actual music veers between full on stoner and the more elongated and complex doom metal. Reasonably delivered, the band have managed to catch a totally retro sound that transports the listener back to the 1970s and that includes the production which one assumes was completed underwater in the toilet. The cover of Blondie’s Call Me drops the rating lower as it is terrible; a cacophony of noise mutilating a classic. 3/10

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