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Thursday 15 July 2021

Reviews: Resurrection Kings, Big City, L'Uomo Nero, Valyear (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Resurrection Kings - Skygazer (Frontiers Music Srl)

Listening to this album on what would have been Ronnie James Dio's 79th birthday is a little bittersuite as it would have been brilliant to hear the great man's vocals on this record once again teaming up with his long time guitarist Craig Goldy and frequent collaborator Vinny Appice on drums. Whether he would have been able to actually sing on it at 79 is a question for another day...but here we are with another Resurrection Kings record featuring the vocals of the excellent Chas West, so some consolation that this music still has a gifted vocalist singing on them. Skygazer follows up Resurrection Kings' 2016 debut record with yet more powerful hard rock/metal that has 80's and 70's touches throughout influenced heavily by Dio, Rainbow and even Whitesnake, with West's vocals somewhere between Dio and David Coverdale. 

This album, like the debut was produced and co-written by Alessandro Del Vecchio (him again) making for a classic production style that was writ-large over those Rainbow records, the title track clearly influence by the legendary rock band Goldy's guitar playing duelling with the big organs. Goldy's heavy rock playing is all over this record with choppy riffs on World's On Fire and Tears as Angry Demons makes things both sleazier and doomier while Don't Blame Our Love is a monster Whitesnake-esque ballad, the Whitesnake sound also abound on Troubled SoulSkygazer brings back the hard rock style of (admittedly latter-period) Dio with lots of late-70's/80's styles too. It's a strong rock record delivered by four great musicians, well worth a listen! 7/10  

Big City - Testify X (Frontiers Music Srl)

Norwegian melodic metal band Big City came together in 2014 and have previously released two records before Testify X. In between their previous record and this third release they have had a change behind the mic with Jørgen Bergersen the new singer of the band. He has served time in a Europe tribute band and as such has a set of pipes similar to Joey Tempest adding a more melodic edge to this record vocally. According to guitarist and songwriter Daniel Olaisen, Jørgen's voice is more expressive and powerful than his predecessor which means that they can add more depth to their music. It's clear that they have with massive melodic flourishes throughout the album, some of the songs spend their time at the heavier end, others like Dark Rider move towards AOR while they also have big ballads like Testify and I Will Fall. I would say fans of Europe and even Queensryche will be able to find a lot to love in this record, it's got lots of bright 80's-styled riffs that shimmer but also some proggy flourishes on tracks like Conception. The one issue I have is that on an album of 10 tracks four of them are emotional ballads, while the remaining rockers are never too heavy to annoy the neighbours. It's easy to see why Big City were signed by Frontiers as they fit their remit to a tee. I just can't hear the comparisons to Firewind and Fates Warning that are mentioned in the press pack. 6/10

L'Uomo Nero - Elle, De La Mer (Desert Records)

Translated to (The Boogeyman) L'Uomo Nero are an occult blues rock band from New Mexico, and this EP is the second of three EP's that are created as a Lovecraftian thriller and inspired by true events. Essentially it's an occult murder mystery of which this one is the middle EP. In total  the three EPs take the protagonist through the stages of grief, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. An odd an intriguing concept for sure but one that lends itself to this band's quirky music. The trio have a style that fuses Kyuss with ZZ Top adding bluesmen like Robert Cray and even some poppier sounds of Cheap Trick to the mix. Elle, De La Mer also really brings a sense of the film noir aesthetic the band are looking for from Volbeat boogie of Elle to the very bluesy De La Mar the three piece hammer home their style while also continuing the fantastical storyline of these EP's. If you haven't heard the previous offering then the concept may be a little bit of mystery but musically there's enough to enjoy for any fan of psych/blues rock, perhaps some though may want to wait for all three parts before the deep dive. 6/10   

Valyear - Revolution Fear (Wormholedeath)

Where to start with this? It's evident from this album that Valyear don't know what sort of band they want to be. Badged as alternative metal, this record has punk, metal and numerous other genres across the 8 tracks but they do feel as if they've been thrown at the wall to see what sticks. What I'd boil it down to is a mix of Scott Weiland and Jacoby Shaddix playing Nickelback and Black Label Society. Unfortunately this is not a particularly positive thing, Revolution Fear is an album that is just...meh, average songwriting played well yes but nothing that gets you too excited. Nothing either that lives long in the memory after listening to it. Despite being around since 2014 this Canadian four piece still seem to be finding their feet, hopefully they will, but for now I won't be giving it another spin. 3/10  

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