Disappointing. No other word to describe this album. Clearly aimed at a wider more generic audience, the bland opening track Running With The Wolves suggests that Heart FM may well be the target of the Birmingham band. Money has a bit more about it, the swagger a cross between the Kings Of Leon and The Temperance Movement, but track three, the title track is genuine housewife country. It may be clever and perfectly crafted, but what the hell happened to the Southern blues drive that kept my spirits up on the mountain in the rain at Steelhouse 2017? Caught In The Middle lacks backbone and Take You Home is, well, pop light.Now, if that’s the way the band want to go, and it appears they have, then good luck to them. Kings Of Leon appeal to millions and the Birmingham quartet are focusing their writing on tracks appeal to a similar fanbase. A gentle, relaxed approach throughout that misses the cutting edge on every level. The closing tribute to their hometown, Birmingham, will no doubt stir emotions with those from the second city but it’s not for me. I’ve been there. I love the city but it’s not an idyllic location in any sense of the word. This is music for a middle-class dinner party. File next to Travis and move on. 4/10
Cauldron: Undercover Of Moonlight (Self Released)
A collection of tracks from sessions between 2006-15, this is by their own admission “some old tapes and hard drives … a digital slab of various cover songs recorded over the years. Some are mastered, some aren’t, most of ‘em are quick/rough mixes and/or live off the floor”. Some has been previously released but as Cauldron say, they aren’t going to waste time remastering, “if you want to support music, go out and buy the originals”. Put like that, it’s a bit of a challenge to write anything critical about this release. The Canadian trio, whose main style is that of traditional metal, cover a mass of genres here but there are a couple of real golden turds. The winner by a country mile is their mauling of the melodic cheese of fellow Canadian and housewives fave Bryan Adams. Run To You has comfortably the worst quality on the album and is also fucking awful – think cat with paw caught under a car wheel. Then there’s a mediocre version of Rising Power (AC/DC), and a toilet recording of Lay It On The Line by Triumph. Of greater interest is a bruising version of Bathory’s Sacrifice, a rip snorting Die Hard (Venom), some appropriate can opening effects before the thrash stampede of Tankard’s Making Noise and Drinking Beer and a faithful Necropolis (Manilla Road). Elsewhere the echoes of a live track (Fortress Doomed) by their previous band Goat Horn is delivered underwater and the sound of vocalist and bassist Jason Decay falling over is humorous for about a second of the 0:22. It’s hard to be too critical here but hey, that’s how we roll and as Cauldron say, you are probably better off buying the originals than listening to most of this. 4/10
Steed Of Fury: Motorised Horses (Tratore Records)
“Be kind” said Mrs H as I began this review. So here goes. Steed Of Fury are from Brazil. A five piece who follow the classic heavy metal style and formation. Two guitarists, singer, bass, and drums. All bases covered. Despite their heavily accented enunciations, there was the odd spark of promise on the title track that opens the album. Musically I have heard much worse from the NWOBHM stable in recent years. Reign Of Steel follows, and singer Diego Krugger is hitting notes that King Diamond would be proud of. Unfortunately, a lot of them are arranged in the wrong order, making it a warbling, tone deaf delivery. Meanwhile the engine chugs away in classic Priest style and if you can ignore the vocals, there is a solid unit underneath the bonnet. After a reasonably promising start, two songs follow which contradict everything I’ve written so far. Into The Battle is ponderous, Krugger wailing all over the top of a desperately poor song.
It doesn’t get any better on Death Squad, although the enunciation nose dives spectacularly and it’s hard to work out if Tony Angelino (look it up kids – cwwyyiingg!) has taken over the vocals or whether Krugger has developed a lisp. Suddenly we’ve moved to routine garage metal which suggests that the band’s material stretched to a 7” and not a long player. Monstroqueiros United is dedicated to the Monstroqueiros MC, located in the band’s hometown, Feira de Santana. I’m not big on insulting bikers but this is a dull, chugging track, with some atrocious harmonies. It may be a song of defiance, and I’m sure the heart behind this song beats strong, but god, it’s dire. By now, you know that the game is up and despite the urge to give bonus points for effort, this really is an album of low quality. The ballad Tamming the Dragon (I’m assuming this is just poor spelling) is the worst song I’ve heard this year (and I reviewed Thor remember). If you want to know how not to do it, then give it a whirl. Otherwise, don’t waste your time on one of the poorest albums of 2020. 2/10
Speed Queen: Still On The Road EP (HIgh Roller Records)
When you name your band after a brand of domestic appliances (dryers, washing machines etc) one must wonder. Not to be confused with the French rock band of the early 1980s (who were dire – hunt them on YouTube) Obviously, the Belgian ‘classic’ metal outfit who formed in 2016 probably didn’t name it after the brand with the slogan “Laundry is all we do. And we do it better than anyone” but I bet they wish they had. Their second EP, Still On The Road contains two studio tracks, the godawful Church Avenue and the much better rager Fire with two live tracks recorded in Hamont. Both tracks are distinctly average hard rock songs with Live Hard the worst of the two, containing the line “Grab your leather jacket and your sister’s jeans, it’s rock and roll if you know what I mean”. They may be part of the New Wave Of Belgian Heavy Metal (Clever – I see what they did there) but we can but hope that this wave runs out of power way before it hits land. Another reason why the Belgians should stick to beer, chips and chocolate. 3/10