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Tuesday 26 November 2019

Reviews: Grand Slam, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Taraban, Quiet Riot (Reviews By Paul Hutchings)

Grand Slam: Hit The Ground (Marshall Records)

Initially formed as a touring project by Phil Lynott when Thin Lizzy disbanded in 1984, Grand Slam were never able to create a permanent record of their music before Lynott’s death in 1986. Guitarist Laurence Archer (formerly of Stampede) had stepped in to replace John Sykes when Whitesnake came calling and he had been pivotal in reforming the band. Vocalist Mike Dyer delivers a strong performance, resembling Lynott in his style without attempting to clone the Lizzy frontman. Songs that Lizzy fans will be familiar with here include Dedication and Military Man, the harrowing song that saw Lynott in the grip of his demons during performances with Gary Moore shortly before his death. A combination of new material and older tracks should please Lizzy fans and Archer, who also had a stint with UFO gives a solid effort alongside Praying Mantis drummer Benjy Reid and ex-Quireboys bassist Dave Boyce. Whether there is a need for Grand Slam is a question for another day. Alongside the Black Star Riders, Grand Slam fill the void that was so beautifully filled for those 12 years from 1971. 7/10

Fleshgod Apocalypse: An Evening In Perugia (Nuclear Blast)

Recorded in their home city of Perugia in 2018, this recording was released as a bonus disc with this year’s phenomenal Veleno which was released back in May. 13 tracks which highlight the sheer intensity and power of the symphonic death metal group. Tracks include Healing Through War, Minotaur and a blistering Gravity which allows the classical style and the bruising death metal of the band to merge in perfect harmony. Veronica Bordacchini’s soaring soprano complements the gruff style of Francesco Paoli and Paolo Rossi. The audience participation is impressive, such as The Violation where the home crowd join in the with intro. No doubt heavily overdubbed and polished, this release still offers a fascinating insight into one of metal’s most intriguing bands. 7/10

Taraban: How The East Was Lost (Self Released)

Named after an Eastern war drum, How The East Was Lost is the debut album from Polish three-piece Taraban. The band have released two EPs prior to this long player following their formation in 2013. The album is about the eastern state of mind, the epic struggle it brings and the romantic side of being born to lose. Opening with the ten-minute plus Last Laugh, Taraban embark on a psychedelic journey which transports the listener far away. The track climaxes in a raging crescendo of Macieji Trojanowski’s fiery guitar work. Along with Trojanowsi, haunted vocals from Daniel Suder who also plays bass and Kris Gonda’s elegant drumming are supported by guests Kuba Jaorski (keyboards), Wiktoria Tabak (backing vocals) and the saxophone of Alex Clov. Their sound ranges from trippy psychedelia to more ferocious stoner rock, such as the rage of Backseat Driver whilst the space trip of White Lies takes influence from Hawkwind, Ozrics and the rest. It’s a competent debut in a field where competition and quantity can sometimes overwhelm quality. Taraban have produced a decent release for their first album. 7/10

Quiet Riot: Hollywood Cowboys (Frontier Records)

Forever to be tainted with the motormouth Dubrow era of Metal Health, the awful Slade cover and of course the legacy of Randy Rhoads, Quiet Riot are much more than that, and the band have stoically pushed forward over the past four decades. Their history is blighted by numerous legal fights over the name and publishing rights but Hollywood Cowboys, album number 14 is a reasonable piece of work. Featuring James Durbin before he left the band to be replaced by Jizzy Pearl, it is also the first release since drummer Franki Banali’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Banali, now 68, gives a solid performance, anchoring 12 songs which vary greatly. Durbin’s vocal delivery is one of the highlights of the album, alongside Banali’s steady beat and the slick guitar work of Alex Grossi. Songs range from the glam rock of opener Don’t Call It Love, the sleaze rock of The Devil You Know and the explosive guitar work on Insanity, which drives forward at a colossal pace. It’s polished and well-delivered and about as much to my taste as John Smiths Smooth. Yet there are some highlights and Quiet Riot demonstrate that there is life in one of rocks oldest dogs, now at least. 6/10

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