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Monday 15 March 2021

Reviews: Thunder, White Void, Enforced, Drudge (Reviews By Matt Bladen & Paul Scoble)

Thunder - All The Right Noises (BMG) [Matt Bladen]

With their thirteenth studio album, Thunder firmly establish their latter period purple patch, and reinforce that their self imposed hiatus in 2009 was well worth it as when they returned in 205, their music sound more vibrant and honest than ever. Gone are the days of Dirty Love and Backstreet Symphonies, replaced by All The Right Noises showing Thunder as the elder statesmen of British rock n roll. Still making honest and insightful rock music that not only gets the foot tapping but the mind thinking too. Recorded before and during the first Lockdown and originally planned for release in September, the band have obviously put this album out now in the hope of being able to tour it later this year. What is noticeable about this record is that it's full of social and political commentary, Danny Bowes lamenting being a youth today on Young Man while St George's Day is an indictment of English patriotism and the veil of racism it uses to change opinion.

With some bands this could seem like pandering but Thunder have always have had a knack of not only appealing to the common man but also using their music as a force for good, calling out injustices, much like their blues influences. On Force Of Nature we get a track about those that get away with murder just because they are in powerful. (Think those that are orange or blonde ditherers) Worry not though Thunder suddenly haven't become RATM you still get some slinky rock ditties like She's A Millionairess, Going To Sin City and Last One Out Turn Off The Lights, the latter two adding lots of sexy brass for that full show band feel. You also get some Zeppelin like riffs from the duo of Don't Forget To Live Before You Die and Destruction., where Luke Morley, Ben Matthews and Chris Childs' riffs are heavier. It's not all about the big ballsy rock riffs though , there's an Country Appalachian feel of Smoking Gun where Harry James' percussion is close to pots and pans as the acoustics, mouth harps and tambourines lead this locomotive numbers and of course there's one big ballad in I'll Be The One, but this never breaks the propulsive pace of this album, keeping you entertained from the first to the last note. Still one of the finest rock acts Britain has ever produced, with no signs of slowing down Thunder are definitely making All The Right Noises! 9/10

White Void - Anti (Nuclear Blast) [Paul Scoble]

White Void could quite easily be described as a supergroup. The band might be on their first album, but are getting a lot of interest due to the stature of the members. The band is led by lead singer and songwriter Lars Are Nedland who’s day job is split between Black Metal giants Borknager and Solefald. Lars is joined by Tobias Solbakk from In Vain and who also drums for Ihsahn, Electronica legend Vegard Kummen, and Blues virtuoso Eivind Marum on Guitar. The band play a style of Hard Rock that sways between the seventies and eighties, and also has a certain amount of New Wave in the mix as well. Lyrically the songs deal with the absurdist philosophy of Albert Camus. The album opens with Do. Not. Sleep. which is a piece of uptempo Hard Rock that initially feels quite eighties, there is also a hint of New Wave to the sound as well. The chorus jumps back a decade for a much more seventies feel with the addition of an organ and some very pleasing layered vocals. 

Next track There Is No Freedom But The End has a taut, minimal verse that has a lot of drive, the big organ is back for a more expansive chorus part. The song also boasts some great vocal harmonies and a very pleasing bluesy guitar solo. Where You Go, You'll Bring Nothing is a softer song, much more of a ballad. The pacing is slow but the song has a lot of weight, I hesitate to use the term Power Ballad, but that's pretty much what this is. The track builds in the second half and has a fantastic jazz infused solo, by the last quarter the song has a swing to the tempo that works very well. The Shovel And The Cross is a cracking piece of seventies psych rock. This Apocalypse Is For You is an up-tempo blast of hammond organ driven rock. It boasts a great solo, a layered vocal part that feels huge, and is a huge, fun track. All Chains Rust, All Men Die is a mid-paced, fairly introverted track that has a Prog Rock feel to it. The vocals are superb and again the guitar of Eivind Marum is a standout part of the song. The Fucking Violence Of Love is another track with a seventies feel to it, but this time it feels a little bit leaning towards southern rock. 

The big hammond organ is still there, but the main guitar riff feels more dominant. Final track The Air Was Thick With Smoke takes us back to a more eighties sound. The organ is replaced with a synth and feels much more electronic. There is a slightly more clinical feel with this track, I’d imagine this being listened to by yuppies in their Porches, as they talk about stock options, rather than by hippies sharing a joint. Although it’s an enjoyable track, it does feel a little bit out of place when compared to the other material, although that may be deliberate. Anti is a very accomplished album. The eight songs are very well written and have been recorded by clearly very talented musicians. Vocally the album is stunning, particularly when they are being layered. All of the performances are great, I especially enjoyed the guitar work, but it feels a little unfair to single out any of the performances, as they are all so good. A hugely enjoyable piece of Hard Rock. 8/10

Enforced - Kill Grid (Century Media Records) [Paul Scoble]

Based in Richmond, Virginia Enforced have been making fast Thrashy music since 2016. The five piece made up of Ethan Gensurowski on Bass, Alex Bishop on Drums, Will Wagstaff on Guitar, Zach Monchan on Guitar and Knox Colby on vocals, are on to their second album with Kill Grid, coming two years after their first album At The Walls. Enforced play a very fast and frenetic style of Thrash Metal, with a definite slant towards Crossover Thrash. The main thing this album has is energy, so much energy. It’s a blast of tight, fast riffs, pounding drums and frantic, urgent vocals. The album kicks off with the track The Doctrine which opens with a pounding mid-paced riff, that is full of energy and drive. The track then goes into a really fast Crossover Thrash part that has massive power and rips along in a way that will cause whiplash. The song vacillates between these two feels, and fits in a fantastic solo as well before a huge and heavy ending. 

The main style of thrash Enforced play is Crossover, thrash with a little bit of a taste of Hardcore added to the mix. The band do give a nod towards a more traditional thrash sound; on the track Beneath Me in between the high energy crossover thrash there are some mid-paced riffs that have a definite Slayer ‘Reign In Blood’ feel to them. Enforced are very good at really fast thrash, the fast riffs on this album are tight as anything, they crack, sizzle and spark with energised power. However, thrash sometimes needs something to juxtapose the high speed elements, and Enforced also have a talent for slow and heavy. Title track Kill Grid opens with a riff that is staggeringly slow and heavy, it batters the listener in a very pleasing way and adds some welcome weight to the song. This section has a great solo as well, one of many rippingly fast and intricate solo’s on this album. 

I’ve mentioned Crossover Thrash a number of times in this review, so let’s deal with the elephant in the room; how do they compare to Power Trip? Pretty well, the album has a great production job and a fantastic guitar sound that is comparable to the sound on Nightmare Logic. There is a similarity in the quality of the riffs and the huge amount energy that is on this album. There are a few closer similarities to Power Trip as well; the track Curtain Fire has an unstoppable mid-paced pacing that is reminiscent of the track Executioners Tax (Swing Of The Axe). Kill Grid is a cracking album. It’s packed full of power, energy, drive and some incendiary riffs. The album never dips in quality or drive. The pacing on the album is very impressive, even when the riffs are slow the tempos feel driving and unstoppable. This is an album that will cause some serious neck damage, I can’t imagine anyone would be able to listen to this without head-banging. An absolute blast of an album. 8/10

Drudge - Lay Your Burden Down (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

If for any reason London stoner metal legends Orange Goblin decided to hang up their instruments (God Forbid they do), there will be a list of bands in line to take their place however other than Blind River I would put forward Cumbrian riff machine Drudge, whose debut album Lay Your Burden Down is mining a rich vein of thundering heavy riffs, rowdy vocals and a take-no-shit attitude. Release Me gets us grooving with some slow doom before things pick up with the blues of the title track which sits in between the heavy riffing of A Shot Of Redemption and Rattlesnake. As you'd probably guess there is a massive Orange Goblin influence on this record but also touches of Clutch and Monster Magnet (Higher State Of Mind), as it's a debut they've yet to fully develop their own take on this sound so there are a lot of musical similarities to the influences but hell it's done with experience making for a record ideal for drinking a couple of beers too. 7/10

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