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Wednesday 3 July 2019

Reviews: The Rods, Crooked Horns, Kaleidobolt, Pretty Wild (Manus)

The Rods: Brotherhood Of Metal (Steamhammer)

You can’t take stuff like this too seriously if you’re going to enjoy it. While The Rods aren’t quite as ridiculous as, say, Manowar, the corny feel that’s perfectly summed up by this album’s title is definitely there, and it’s prominent. It’s self-aware, though, making call-backs to some of the originators of this style, like Saxon in the title track. It’s just as well-done as any other absurdly macho heavy metal, and because of what it is, warrants comparisons with every note and word. Then again, The Rods have been around since 1980, so they’re just doing what they clearly know how to do. It’s a lot of fun, this album. Tunes like Everybody’s Rockin’ and Party All Night should get anyone in the mood for a good time and not caring about how cheesy the lyrics are. That’s really what it’s good for, but it’s really good for what it’s good for. 7/10

Crooked Horns: The Metamorphosis (Independent)

It’s when the vocals kick in that this becomes more than just well-played but typical black metal and something that differs from the classic sound enough to give Crooked Horns an identity of its own as a band. The vocals are incredibly powerful, and still sound black metal in baritone, with a nice death metal edge to them. They sit nicely in the production as well, where everything is heard and nothing feels like too much. The guitar work is another strong suit this record boasts. The dual guitars give every song a feeling of intensity, and at times even suspense. They can play melodically with natural grace as well, as displayed on instrumental Utharaba Sba. The rest of the album goes between doomy, stomping tracks like To Become, As One, and high-intensity bangers like Anathema. There’s nothing poorly done, nothing that feels out of place, and no obvious weak points in any of it. So yea, pretty killer album. 8/10

Kaleidobolt: Bitter (Svart Records)

Can music be crazy technical but also hit the feel-good rock ‘n’ roll style at the same time? Kaleidobolt seem to make it work on this fine piece of work. It’s psychedelic, progressive, and straight-up rock all at once. The instrumentation is fantastic, and the instrumental passages, which are plenty, are actually the most enjoyable parts. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with the vocals. They get the job done, but it’s the instrumentation that these songs are really about. There are only seven tracks on the record, but they’re all long enough and cover enough musical ground that the record doesn’t feel at all short or incomplete. Bitter is just one of those albums that’s an experience to listen all the way through. Seriously groovy stuff. 8/10

Pretty Wild: Interstate 13 (Black Lodge Records)

Most modern bands that aim to recapture the 1980s sunset strip scene sound miss the mark entirely. On Interstate 13, Pretty Wild actually hit pretty close to it. There are still modern elements, and some overly poppy choruses, but these might be part of what makes it sound fresh, and without them could risk being a copycat. If it was the exact same as the old 80s hair bands, it would have to be as good or better to be good at all, pretty much. But Interstate 13 is able to recall the glory days of Mötley Crüe and Ratt while still being a fine rock record of 2019. The rock party anthems on the album are its best moments, tracks like Let’s Get It Out and Meant For Trouble serving as highlights, but Pretty Wild also show they know their way around an arena-sized power ballad with Wild And Free. As awesome as this album is, there’s something about these songs that sounds like they were meant to be performed live. 8/10

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