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Thursday 27 June 2019

Reviews: Supersonic Blues Machine, Plague Of Carcosa, All Hell, Hollywood Vampires (Matt & Pascal)

Supersonic Blues Machine: Road Chronicles - Live! (Provogue Records) [Matt]

I Am Done Missing You is a pretty slow way of opening this live album, it's got a lot of bubbling hammond and even some harmonica, soulful backing singers come in and we get the first hint of what Kris Barras can do as the new frontman of Supersonic Blues Machine, it doesn't really set you alight, however I Ain't Fallin' gets a bit rockier and shows Barras' gruff vocals when he sings alone towards the end of the song in front of a baying crowd. The setlist of this album is based upon their two studio albums West Of Flushing, South Of Frisco and Californisoul with the tracks culled from  the final show of their European tour in Brugnera, Italy on 20th July 2018.

The tour was Barras' first official appearance as a member of the band joining the original members Fabrizio Grossi (bass) and Kenny Aronoff (drums), along with Alex Alessandroni Jr. on keyboards, Serge Simic on guitar and Andrea and Francis Benitez Grossi on background vocals. Now what you have to remember here is that Barras is basically filling in the role of :Lance Lopez but he handles himself well both vocally and on the six strings playing tracks that are bit more laid back than his own music. It does mean that the first part of this record is a bit slow with only the funky Whatchagonnado, the soulful Elevate and Bad Boys picking up the pace a little, but their own material for the most part is measured slick blues.

Where this album really shines though is when The Reverend Willie G (Billy Gibbons) comes on with a bit of La Grange, he sounds in fine fettle and this is the first really blues rocker on the album with Gibbons giving his all. Gibbons stays for the remainder of the show playing Supersonic Blues Machine songs and covers such as Elmore James' Dust My Broom, Muddy Waters' Got My Mojo Working and Freddie King's Going Down. When Gibbons is fronting the band there is a star quality and it feels a lot more cohesive, that's not a slight on Barras at all but these are probably the biggest shows he's played, with a SSBM album under his belt it could be so much different but as an introduction Road Chronicles -Live! is the first part of a new era, a different voice, but the same old song and dance. 7/10       

Plague Of Carcosa: Ocean Is More Ancient Than The Mountain (Sludgelord Records) [Matt]

This two track album is is inspired by H.P Lovecraft and much like those Eldritch Horrors, both of these numbers are slow burning monolithic slabs of droning sludgy metal where everything is down tuned to a point it just being distortion, the guitars fuzz with every note it as the drums are mainly cymbals crashing with the snares building a concrete base. That's pretty much all you need to know about this record Ocean Is More Ancient Than The Mountain has no vocals to it at all relying on the sheer force of the instruments.

Formed by cult leader Eric Zann and taking cues from Bongripper, Plague Of Carcosa are now a two piece with Zann on all guitars and ZM on drums they have brought in Andy Nelson and Bongripper's Dennis Pleckham to aide with this primal sounding record that as I've said is based on Lovecraft's tales of The Great Old Ones. First track, the slumbering The Crawling Chaos is about Nyaralethotep and creeps along with a harsh drone to it while Madness At Sea is about everyone's favourite squid monster Cthulhu with an almost slimy riff that gets wilder towards the end as the sailors lose their minds when they gaze upon Cthulhu. Dark and imposing Plague Of Carcosa's latest release is an elemental force which will appeal to any fans of Bongripper and Sunn O)). 7/10

All Hell: The Witch’s Grail (Prosthetic Records) [Pascal]

All Hell are a blacktrash/metal punk trio from Asheville North Carolina. Their bio states that Jacob Curwen (vocals & guitar) Kurt Henderson (Drums) and Erik Ballantyne (Bass) draw their influences from dark & horrific literature, art and history. The Witch’s Grail is their fourth album based on what I can gather. Musically you can detect influences such as Celtic Frost, Bathory and Venom obviously but also the likes of Misfits and Samhain (Danzig if you don't know). 10 tracks, well actually 9 if you consider La Bas (Reve Noir) the beautiful acoustic intro. Sorcery & Sanctify sounds punkish, Tonight We Ride adheres to a more traditional black metal template while Black Blood has trash riffage introduces some variety to a vintage underground sound. I like most of the titles including the rapid tempo based Marbel Embrace and the Danzig influenced track Where Devils Once Danced. Overall it’s a solid and efficient underground full length. I think perhaps the addition of a second guitar would beef up their sound while I may understand they may not want to compromise the integrity of their sound. 7/10

Hollywood Vampires: Rise (earMusic) [Pascal]

Hollywood Vampires are a super group formed by Alice Cooper with Johnny Depp and Joe Perry to allegedly honour the music of past rock stars who died of excess. Unlike their debut effort it mainly consists of original material bar three covers namely Heroes from David Bowie, People Who Died from Jim Carroll’s band and Johnny Thunders' You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory. Like any super group it can be actually super or plain average. I am not a big fan of any of the band members or their previous work and apart from the covers I am not overly receptive to the raucous tunes from Rise.

At a push I appreciate their first single Who’s Laughing Now and the anthemic The Boogie Man Surprise but that it is probably more than I can bear. Don’t get me wrong its not bad, it is actually OK but overall this full length is too long (16 tracks) and too predictable to capture the imagination. To me it sounds more like a recorded rehearsal session. That said If you like musical documents you may appreciate the collaboration aspect of musicians coming from a different background if not I suggest you pass your way. 5/10

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