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Friday, 30 July 2021

Reviews: Paradigm Blue, Axel Rudi Pell, Polyfrenetics, Sweet Teeth (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Paradigm Blue - Transist (Self Released)

I usually try to avoid reviewing albums that came out more than a month ago, but occasionally you stumble across something that appeals to your taste so much that you have to review it. If not just to get it off your chest how bloody brilliant it is. Paradigm Blue are a prog rock three piece from Raleigh, North Carolina, made up of Juan Mantilla (guitars), Ruben Moreno (vocals, bass & keys) and Steve Laur (drums), now experienced proggers will be able to gather from looking at the line up and that this album is comprised of two multi part suites that the main musical influence here are Canadian Prog icons Rush. Transist is brimming with musical nods to Geddy, Alex and Neil, the rippling keys, exploitative basslines, soaring guitars and expressive drumming all very similar to Rush while vocally Ruben is not up in the higher falsetto of Geddy Lee, he often slips into the lower end, but mostly his voice is very similar to another major soundalike for the band, John Mitchell. 

There's times on this record, such as on The Mobius Trip V: Solar Sails that the emotive, modern prog energy of Lonely Robot makes its mark. Transist is a concept record that started out small and sprawled into a 14 song tribute to Rush, made all the bittersweet by the death of Neil Peart last year. As with Rush everything on this debut record is created by the trio with exception of the keyboards on Perihelion and the final keyboard solo on Mobius Trip VII: Resistor, both of which are supplied by the keyboard maestro Derek Sherinian. Yes it was released on June but it would have been remiss of me not to review this, as after one listen I was hooked. I'm a massive Rush fan so this album, that pays homage to the late 70's period when Rush played double neck guitars and had the biggest drumset on the planet, was bound to stir something. 

Add to that the more modern edge of John Mitchell and the cinematic touches of orchestrations we have a record that could have easily followed up Clockwork Angels, maybe even Hemispheres. With Rush now gone it's up to bands such as Paradigm Blue to carry that torch, to remind people what made them so good. It's easy to be cynical, as I have been in the last with bands that draw to much from their influences but Paradigm Blue walk that narrow edge between pastiche and admiration. There's a few prog releases coming this year but very few will stand up to Transist. My only gripe is that it's not available on CD. However it's a magnificent album and a proper tribute to one of the greatest bands ever! 10/10

Axel Rudi Pell - Diamonds Unlocked II (SPV)

In 2007 German guitarist Axel Rudi Pell released Diamonds Unlocked, a covers album featuring big hitters such as U2, Kiss, Free, The Who and even Phil Collins all done in the man who is both a heavy rocker but will be known mainly for his numerous ballads. For the first time since then Pell has decided not to release a record of his own music, as he would want to tour that, which at the moment is still up in the air. So now we have Diamonds Unlocked II the second covers album that Pell has been working on for about 3 years. Again he's backed by his longterm band of Johnny Gioeli (Hardline) vocals, Ferdy Doernberg on keys, Bobby Rondinelli on drums and Volker Krawczak on bass. 

It kicks off this album with a riffy version of Sammy Hagar's There's Only One Way To Rock which is perfect for Johnny's soulful vocals, the second track is a proper guitar workout for Pell as he takes on The Man In Black Ritchie Blackmore for Rainbow's Lady Of The Lake. So far so hard rock but the addition of Paul Anka's She's A Lady, here as fireside ballad is the first wtf moment, as we get a real deep cut in Black Cat Woman by Geordie, Gioeli adding his own style rather than trying to ape Brian Johnson.

As you'd expect the tracks are all very well played the band in fine form throughout, but it's not all older stuff as The Subways Rock N Roll Queen is given some big organs as Paint It Black moves into power metal realms. I mean Diamonds Unlocked II is a completists record, made to keep the Axel Rudi Pell fans happy before a new album of originals. Despite the varied amount of songs covered, they all sound very similar but then I suppose that wouldn't be the ARP style if they didn't. 6/10   

Polyfrenetics - Self Titled (Argonauta Records)

What makes an EP an EP? There is a definitive answer regarding timings but here at MoM Towers we've discussed this at length, Messer's Scoble, Hunter and myself normally, however we've yet to really decide whether there is an credence to the definitive answer. Why am I starting this review like this I bet you're asking (all 12 of you)? Well Polyfrenetics is the debut release from the band of the same name and they state it's an EP. At four songs I guess you could agree however the final track Comfortably Dumb is nearly 12 minutes in long taking the run time somewhere near 30 minutes, in the 80's that's an album. Anyway I digress you're here to hear about this Oslo psych rock outfit so here goes. 

This self titled debut has been snapped up by Argonauta Records for release and it's plain to see why as the Norwegian trio have a swirling psychedelic bent, that builds on top of their punk rock fury. Like bands such as The MC5, latter period Iggy and numerous prog rock acts. There's long instrumental passages that bring much experimentation, the final track certainly fits this with its persistent drum and bass beat while guitars scream and wail across your headphones. But the shorter songs all have a drive that's very non-conformist and punchy but never goes to far in the way of punk to get sloppy. It's kind of like Therapy? jamming to Hawkwind, across 4 tracks. EP or album? Doesn't matter just get grooving! 7/10

Sweet Teeth - Acid Rain (Lövely Records)

Punchy power pop from Sweden as Sweet Teeth unleash their debut EP Acid Rain. Brimming with jangly guitars, fuzzy bass and emotive vocal rawness, Acid Rain conjures the likes of Husker Dü and the early Foo Fighters releases. It's packed with 7 direct punchy rockers, all with sing along ability but a sadness that lays behind. You will have heard something like this before, I can guarantee but Sweet Teeth make properly slick and inviting. The run time is around 15 minutes, which is perfect for these punky, poppy nuggets of 90's alt rock. Nothing on Acid Rain hasn't been done before and if you're a Feeder fan you'll have heard it a 1000 times, but Sweet Teeth is a treat you've sampled many time but keep coming back too. The musical equivalent of a digestive, simple but enjoyable. 6/10

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