Passengers In Panic: S/T (Sleazy Rider Records)
Not the normal dirty rock from Sleazy Rider Records, Passengers In Panic are a progressive folk metal band from Greece. Their musical style is a melting pot of sounds with a political fury inspiring their musical explorations. The intro speaks of issues surrounding Syria and Palestine, on top of a Diamond Head riff before we are led into the first track The Undertaking which manages to blend choppy prog rock, with Greek/Balkan folk instrumentation and a Pink Floyd solo, in just under three minutes, as it shifts again into the very traditional sounding No Ghosts At The Feast which has that percussive nature of Greek folk music.
This intensive mix of sounds continues throughout the record, with Shipwreck melding Iron Maiden riffage with Kansas-like violin solos, the Gothic edged To Stain, a Western theme to Life At It's Best that once again brings an air of a Maiden epic and the spoken word passages return on Nakba which has a doomy tone that makes things shift into Aphrodite's Child realms, in fact Passengers In Panic sound like a modern version of the legendary Greek prog rockers, the psychedelic sounds replaced with power progressive metal.
Passengers In Panic features ex-members of numerous different Greek bands from different genres and they have all brought their experience to this record that unveils it's charms with every subsequent listen, when you first hear it can be little jarring but as you play it a few times it really grows on you, from the Jethro Tull charms of Gang Of Stares to their cover version of traditional Greek song Tsampasin. This debut album is very impressive skillfully balancing the multiple musical styles under the progressive metal banner. 8/10
Minerva Superduty: In Public (Yetagain, Body Blows Records, Sweetohm Recordings, Bright Future, Vault Relics and 5 Feet Under Records)
From home of the olives Kalamata along with the capital Athens of course. Minerva Superduty are a raging post hardcore act in the style of Converge and Botch, starting out as an instrumental act they added a vocalist in 2016 ready for their second full length record, between then and now they have been hard at work for their third release which shoots out of the gates with biting riffs and ferocious shouting vocals. The Converge influence looms large on this album as the tracks rarely drop in place at all. Most of the record embracing chaos with an experimental edge where the 'screamo' sound is fused with hardcore punk and even some groove breakdowns, all of which are intensely politically charged each tracks a call to arms against those that oppress and terrorise. It's got riffs you can see people throwing themselves around the room to, as it speeds on by in a tornado of aggression. They fire out body blows and flurries of violence with a sharp focus on making the songs last as long as they need too, this means that the whole record is quite short but then that is kind of the point. For Hardcore/post metal fans In Public will get you bouncing around your living room. 6/10
The Kings Head: The Kings Head (Wormholedeath Records)
From The Netherlands The King's Head formed in 2018 with a specific goal of playing the music that they grew up with, specifically the music that defined that period in the early 90's when where the mainly Seattle based grunge was the biggest thing on the planet and bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains and Stone Temple Pilots ruled the airwaves. Now the members of The King's Head aren't wanton fanboys, they have all been playing since the late Nineties so one way or another that influence was going to find it's way out, but The King's Head inject the grunge sound with some progressive flourishes, alternative metal intelligence and sludge metal aggression this shift towards the aggression comes with Pim van Zuilen's growls who along with Tim van Bokhoven is one half of The King's Head's vocal duo, van Bokhoven providing the crooning cleans.
Both men play guitar too underpinning Koen Koniuszek's great leads, van Zuilen's widening the scope with keys also. It means that the musical expression here is along way from the "no solos" mentality of grunge (though Pearl Jam, AIC and Soundgarden all had solos/lead breaks) furnishing the huge riffs with big melodies. The record is driven by the powerful rhythm section of Jasper van der Hoeven (bass/vocals) and Chris Stadhouders (drums) who give the grunge influenced riffs their metallic heaviness, on tracks like the massively AIC styled The Far Beyond and the crunching The Fall. Elsewhere the keys make their mark on Anymore as Waiting has more psych sound. Riffy grunge rock with a heaviness The King's Head is a ballsy debut album from talented, veteran musicians. 7/10
Iconic Eye: Back From Behind The Sun (Self Released)
Iconic Eye are apparently a critically acclaimed rock band, I'll admit I've never heard of them but it seems that they have had a change of membership with Janey Smith, formally known as Jamey Bombshell in 70's Glam covers bands. This is her second release with the AOR rockers written mainly by Janey and Greg Dean (guitars, keys and backing vocals) with the exception of their cover of Jefferson Starships's Jane. They are joined by lead guitarist Neil Hackett, Mike Dagnall on bass and Jon Cooksey on drums for 5 rock tracks that have big chorus hooks where Janey's vocals work really well and the songs are all in the kind of rock style favoured by Dante Fox and Romeo's Daughter as the soaring leads and swathes of keyboards bring a bouncing rock tone. It's a record buoyed by their numerous high profile live shows and support slots and comes five years after their debut full length and two after their second record. If I'm honest it's good enough to enjoy a little radio friendly hard rock and if you fancy hearing more of it Iconic Eye will perform a socially distanced and live stream concert at KK’s Steel Mill in Wolverhampton on Saturday January 16th. 5/10