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Wednesday 31 July 2019

Reviews: Rosalie Cunningham, Bones, Insurrection, The Drippers (Matt, Sean & Val)

Rosalie Cunningham: Self Titled (Cherry Red Records) [Matt Bladen]

Originally planned as a PledgeMusic release the debut solo album from Rosalie Cunningham, was saved from doom by Cherry Red Records so now has been released to general public with the freak flag flying high. If the name seems familiar then you'll probably know Rosalie as the frontwoman/multi-instrumentalist/band leader of psychedelic troopers Purson. They played their final gig in 2016 and after a brief break Cunningham launched back into music with a solo album, where she can let her creative juices loose, bringing her own slant on the music that has influenced her. Cunningham is a woman that embodies the spirit of the 60's and early 70's citing her influences as The Beatles, Slade, Syd-era Pink Floyd, Bowie, Small Faces, Genesis and Black Sabbath.

So it's fitting that her solo album is full of all of these flavours, climaxing with the 13 minute progressive epic A Yarn From The Wheel, it begins with the psychedelic shimmer of Ride On My Bike which name checks mescaline in it's lyrics as an afterthought as it breaks out into wild semi-jazz guitar riffs at the end. It's a dramatic start to an album on which Rosalie sounds revitalised, it's also an album on which she has made her most personal record. The feminist Fuck Love is a swirling organ/piano driven track which moves between Western boogie and histrionics that remind me of Nick Cave. Though Butterflies nicks the riff of Pink Floyd's Brain DamageHouse Of Glass sounds an awful lot like Purson with it's creeping acid induced fuzziness. Playing most of the instrumentation here, she credits her journey with Purson as improving her songwriting as now she is not shackled by band dynamic she can compose as she sees fit, alluded to on Dethroning The Party Queen.

This self titled debut has everything you'd want from Cunningham, especially if you were as obsessed with Purson like I was, but with a lot more packed into the kaleidoscopic packaging this album is clad in, big stomping rockers such as Riddles & Games are counterpointed by tracks such as Nobody Hears, taking you on this journey of discovery with Cunningham. On the back of this I can't wait for her Bristol co-headline with Goldray on Thursday 01/04/19. Get on a pair of loons and let your hair down, man. 8/10

Bones: Diseased (Transcending Obscurity Records) [Sean Morgan]

Yeesh, I need a friggin shower! Scratch that, I need to scrape off my decaying skin ASAP. Just how much are this band packing? Grimy, gritty and fucking gruesome are a few of the words used when listening to Bones. And surprise surprise, these American death crusties are signed to Transcending Obscurity! If that isn’t enough to give you the horn then I don’t know what will, given how consistently awesome TO are of late. Bringing it back to Bones and their blighted brand of dank death, 3rd album Diseased makes the La Brea tar pits look a relaxing bath in comparison! With Bones’s sole purpose of mass contamination via an assortment of blasts and shrieks, I’d best hold on tight. Thing are gonna get filthy REEEAL fast!

Blood, Diarrhea And Tears kicks things off and my teeth long with it, bulldozing in a furore of Bolt Thrower riffs and agonised roars. Everything is cranked to the max, the bass pleasingly filling out the dynamic space, as Bones' death rumble continuously explodes from my speakers. The death march continues on Mass Graves, grimy scathing riffs propelling the relentless onslaught onward, underpinned by the ever present barrage of drums. Fucking hell, these guys REAALLY like Bolt Thrower! Nawt wrong with that of course, as Carrion Crows solidifies this in it’s opening riffs, occasionally straying into early Cannibal Corpse. Frantic crossbeats add extra chaos to already belligerent attack, the wonderfully loose solos heightening the mania even further. Title track Diseased takes a slight left turn, the usage of octave riffs imbuing the carnage with a hypnotic edge. The more measured pace also allows for some groove, which Bones take full advantage, until Stench Of The Dead drags us into the pit once more.

It’s thicker than a tank, firing off round after round of pummelling destruction. Yeah, pummelling and ABSOLUTELY FUCKING CHUNKY! No One Matters goes full on D-beat, sounding like prime Rigor Mortis or Unholy Grave, though I’m almost certain both never sounded this THICC! Down brings the speed…uh…down once more, sinister groove in full force as Bone trample everything in their stride. The shifts between clean and distorted add some variation, showing that Bones can do more than just be CRUSHINGLY LOUD. Louder than hell, one might say (suck it Manowar)! Boozer and Broken Wheel go full Venom and rock the fuck out, displaying the more playful side of Bones. Before things get too fun, Crucifier and closer The Future Is Now remind us what Bones came here to do; rip and tear until it is done!

Not going to lie, things got bloody listening to Diseased. Bloody, bruised and battered and I loved every minute of it! ‘Diseased” not going to win any prizes for technicality, that's for sure. But ask yourself this; who needs that when Bones can bulldoze everyone and everything into oblivion? One hit = one kill and Bones kill hard. 8/10

Insurrection: Circles Of Despair (Big Bad Wolf/Headbangers Records) [Val D'Arcy]

Dutch melodeath band Insurrection return with their first full length album, Circles Of Despair. Following on from the band's well received debut EP Catatonic, my first impression of this album is that this is straight up melodeath (with some thrash influence). Although not a huge departure from the slightly more thrash based sound of the EP, the abundant melodic riffs are dexterous and calculated, coupled with a crisp production that gives this record an accessible, clean finish. The vocals have a raspy, Lindberg-esque grit that give the otherwise polished sound a nicely contrasting, jagged edge. There does indeed appear to be a decent amount of classic, Swedish influence at work here; not surprisingly perhaps with Fredrik Nordström (At The Gates, In Flames) at the controls. But that's not to say this is an unoriginal album by any means.

Over and above the melodic riffs (there are lots) there's a layer of real feeling and atmosphere, quite dark and heavy at times. It's this that both gives Circles Of Despair a twist of originality to its profile but also holds it back from falling into the trap of an overly pop-like sound, that some melodeath at the fat wedge of the melodic scale fall foul of. This is much more than just hooks and catchy tunes (again, there are lots) and second and third play through of this album reveals a little more character and depth each time, there's a complexity that warrants a closer look. The solos are tight and elegant, plentiful but not overdone. 

So what's the downside? Well, the songs are generally well structured and the musicianship on display is first class but, the whole thing feels a little bit too safe. I do feel like it's missing a climax. I can honestly say I enjoyed almost every passage of this album and it did well to build anticipation but never quite got to the big reveal. That said, I'm making an effort to be critical, on the whole this is a technically brilliant album that should plant this band firmly on everyone's watch list. 7/10

The Drippers: Action Rock (The Sign Records) [Matt Bladen]

'Action Rock' that's the genre tag that Swedes The Drippers have coined for themselves on this debut album, at just over 30 minutes I'd say in more normal terms Action Rock is a garage rock album owing a debt to The Stooges and MC5 with it's raw fuzzy sound and wild abandon. recorded and mixed byTomas Skogsberg at Sunlight Studio in Stockholm, he has worked with The Hellacopters, Gluecifer, Entombed and Backyard Babies on their classic albums so you can hear why even though this album requires there to be as much fuzz and feedback as possible it's clean and crisp, ideal for a keg party. It's an album written for a stage show where I'd assume The Drippers are in their element, screaming guitars, songs about drinking and rock n roll itself and a crowd baying for more. So any album isn't going to recreate that live show but it can sure as hell get you pumped for it and hint at what to expect. This trio have both vocalists bellowing while taking bass and guitar respectively as their drummer abuses his kit, they charge through this 11 song record in double time as no song exceeds four minutes. From the early Motorhead sound of White Light and Bottled Blues to the rockabilly themes of Backbeat and the snarling punk of Finskt Blod Action Rock gets the blood pumping with both it's brevity and intensity. This is supercharged rock n roll, play it loud, with friends and copious amounts of booze around! 7/10  

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