Pattern Seeking Animals: S/T (InsideOut Records)
Pattern Seeking Animals combines the talents of former and current members of Spock’s Beard, the band is comprised of Jimmy Keegan (drums & vocals), Ted Leonard (vocals & guitar) & Dave Meros (bass), with long-time contributing songwriter-producer John Boegehold handling all the synths. This started out as Boegehold solo project that had an emphasis on melody but also musical dexterity, however after the recruited the rest of the band the songs came together properly with Dave and Ted coming in as co-writers. There was a deliberate attempt to separate this music from that of Spock’s Beard and that has been achieved. Yes obviously the influence is still there due to Leonards vocals but he was also the singer of Enchant whose influence creeps in as does that of YES, especially on the jaunty opening number No Burden Left To Carry a track that develops into some great synth work matching the soaring guitars.
The idea here was to not leave any dead space, it was either to have vocal melodies or instrumental sections nothing in between, it means that all the songs on this album, despite having elongated run times capture your attention, especially when they take a turn for the dramatic or romantic on The Same Mistake Again, although I think part of this has been nicked from Red Dwarf’s theme. As the album progresses we get plenty of different facets of this band’s musical talent and over the course of 9 songs they really show what they can do. It’s not the Spock’s Beard copy many would guess it could be, it’s a more modern progressive rock record albeit with some classic 70’s hallmarks in place. Talented musicians, release good album shocker, that’s a pattern you can follow. 8/10
The Allman Betts Band: Down To The River (BMG)
To be honest you probably just need those surnames to know how this record is going to sound, especially when you consider that Devon Allman and Duane Betts are joined on this album by Peter Levin (Hammond B3 player for Devon’s father Gregg Allman) and also Chuck Leavell (former Allman Brothers Band and current Rolling Stones keyboardist). This album and partnership was spawned by Devon’s concert tribute to his father and after Betts turned solo becoming the opening act for Devon’s tour, both men obviously played tribute to both their fathers (Gregg Allman and Dickie Betts) every night so the only natural course of action would be to form their own band and keep not only the music of their father’s legendary band alive but also provide their own take on it.
They set about forming band that included Berry Duane Oakley (son of Allman Brothers Band founding bassist Berry Oakley) all three of these men have obviously got a long history due to the legacy bestowed on them but it with the addition of Devon Allman Project members slide guitar sorcerer Johnny Stachela (slide guitar), John Lum (drums) and R Scott Bryan (percussion – Sheryl Crow) that The Allman Betts Band was started, for live shows they have also gained keyboardist John Ginty (Dixie Chicks, Robert Randolph) but here it’s those old hands also lending the keys. So how much does it sound like The Allman Brothers Band? Well first track All Night has a soulful Southern rock sound, it creeps in with a swagger but it’s Shining that brings the first taste of that Allman Brothers twin guitar sound with the slide guitar added for some slinky sounds which are made to sound more authentic by the production of the Grammy Award winning Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price, John Prine and Elvis Presley) who recorded the album with the band at THE Southern Rock studio Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.
With smoky vocals, some groovy rhythm swings, those definitive guitar sounds and the organ/keys jangling, but there’s so much more than just country rock mash ups, the title track is based around the percussion bringing some world music influence. Allman and Betts have drawn from their fathers but not slavishly copied them, you can hear the echoes to the past but this is very much a record that has its own identity, spearheading the country/southern rock sound pioneered by three of these men’s fathers, into the next chapter and as Southern Accents finishes the record off beautifully it’s a journey I want to be a part of. 8/10
Possessor: Gravelands (APF Records)
Filthy horror based punk-metal from London now as Possessor grace us with their latest album Gravelands, it’s a rocket ride through the evil and occult that owes as much to Matt Pike as it does to Jerry Only, brimming with punk attitude, heavy metal mastery and some stoner sledgehammer grooves tracks such as Backwoods are relentless riff monsters that take no prisoners as they are augmented by the more vicious numbers like Breathe Fire. It’s hard to realise that Possessor are a three piece Graham Bywater attacking his guitar with the steely eyed wildness of Norman Bates, while also howling like the Wolman in mid-transformation, his biting guitar tone and reverb heavy vocals are underpinned by Ellie Mathews’ grizzled bass lines and Bean behind the kit giving it more abuse than Jason Voorhees could take.
The album never loses its pace even when it breaks down into stoner jams on Savage Rampage which is a song of two halves, they do a similar thing on Hitchhike To Hell which is proper occult stoner metal with an 8 minute run time. Gravelands is one of the most stripped back savage sounding records I’ve heard for a while, there’s disregard for the safety of the listener but it’s more honed than their previous releases showing that time spent on the road with Uncle Acid, Truckfighters and All Them Witches has been worth it in developing this band past that of just frantic punk-metal and into a multi fanged beast. 7/10
Besvärjelsen: Frost (Blues Funeral Recordings)
Besvärjelsen is Swedish for conjuring and it’s pretty much what these psych drenched stoner rockers do, the waves of fuzzy guitars, throbbing bass and off kilter drumming is all used to give a woozy sound that has the front woman Lea’s shamanic chanting over the top. When We Fall is the best example of this; the disorientating riffs are met with more otherworldly noises that sound like a 50’s Sci-fi B-Movie. Things come back to earth with the insistent All Things Break where Lea isn’t as wild but is still bewitching, something which carries through the EP. As of course does guitarist/vocalists Andreas Baier and Staffan Stensland Vinrot both showing their respective chops and a forceful rhythm section of Johan Rockner and Erik Bäckwall carrying everything along, making your head nod to the big grooves coming out of your speakers. Short and by no means sweet this EP distils the essence of Besvärjelsen, gaining attention once again ready for another full length. 7/10