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Monday 15 August 2022

Reviews: David Paich, Abest, Walter Trout, Alpha Wolf & Holding Absence (Reviews By Matt Bladen & GC)

David Paich - Forgotten Toys (The Players Club) [Matt Bladen]

The Player's Club, part of the Mascot Label Group, released a solo album from both Joseph Williams and Steve Lukather last year, both were high quality records with plenty of guests, most of whom were also members of Toto, along with artists they have worked with. However fans of the band will be eagerly awaiting this solo record from the only other co-founding member (along with Lukather) of Toto, keyboardist/vocalist David Paich. So here it is Forgotten Toys a record of music from a man that not only has featured on and written for some of the biggest acts of the last 50 years including Micheal Jackson's Bad and Thriller albums, but was also the co-writer of Hold The Line, Rosanna and every Millennial/Gen Z's favourite song Toto's Africa by Toto, which he not only wrote but also sang. 

If you know anything about the members of Toto then you'll know that they are were and are all of the top session men of their era, with massive discographies behind them, it's strange that this is Paich's first solo album. However during the Covid lockdown and his stepping away from performing with Toto, he revisited some songs from the last that he was able to work on. Paich takes the keys and vocals but he's not alone, willbelongtoyou is very much in the Paich wheelhouse, a flowing melodic offering with that excellent vocal and lots of brilliant keys. Co-produced with Toto singer Joseph Williams, who can't resist a co-vocal, there's also contributions from Steve Lukather, Brian Eno, Michael McDonald, Ray Parker Jr., Don Felder, and Steve Jordan, keeping things very Yacht Rock. 

Queen Charade is a rollicking rocker, perfect for throwing on while you're enjoying a sunset on said yacht, as First Time is a radio friendly ballad, All The Tears That Shine meanwhile originally appeared on Toto XIV. For many Lucy will be the odd track out here but it's a jazz number from the music David's father jazz icon, musician, and arranger Marty Paich was world renowned for so he delves right back into his roots. Forgotten Toys, despite being a collection of old songs that he has finally gotten round to, is great listen for fans of Toto and those that know Paich's history as a writer/performer. 8/10

Abest - Molten Husk (Moment Of Collapse Records) [GC]

Abest are back with their new album Molten Husk, and they have come back with vicious intent which showcases an unrelenting hybrid of sludgy metal, furious hardcore and atmospheric post metal and on this album, we find them intent on mixing all the above genres to devastating effect.

This is shown no clearer than on the brutal opening track Through The Veins with its haunting intro that leads into a punishing, sludgy riff that then just descends into a full blown assault for the rest of the track the punishment continues with Narrative Subtracted which starts with a fast and damaging riff and leads into a crushing mid-section before settling into an unnerving trance like section to unsettle you even more before that crushing riff comes towering back and then fades out and you are left wondering what has just happened! The Twitched Veil then drops into a sludgy drone before reintroducing another pulverising mid-section and fading out once again into silence and it is this constant up and down musical shift that makes for an unsettled and at times painful listen which is the beauty of what is on offer here.

Molten Husk is probably the most straight forward song but even here its full force and brutal and doesn’t give you any chance to breath as it suffocates you with strangled riffs and drums that make your chest collapse. Rendition Of Triumph is another unrelenting beast full of bull dozing riffs and relentless drums and the vocals take on another level of brutality all together before the instrumental/interlude Possessor crawls out and relents slightly on the punishment but still feels like the musical equivalent of being dragged kicking and screaming though a dank dungeon. 

Bulging Aversion is another full on attack with a sludgy hardcore riff and hammering drums before yet another eerie fade out which throws you out of sync and straight into Through The Concrete which follows the same formula and has a crushing riff to hold it all together before closing out on the trademark fade to silence which lead directly on to the most rounded track so far Into A Mirrored Hall which really shows that Abest can mix everything that has gone before and blend it all into one track which is razor sharp and devastating. Cognitive Empathy and Obliteration end this album with all the subtlety of a boot to the testicles and are both stunning and beautifully aggressive.

There is not one ounce of subtlety on this album, the slow parts are devastating and feral, the fast parts brutal and fixated on hurting you and any relaxing of pace is interjected with the sort of unease that never fully prepares you for what is coming next. Abest are both devastatingly savage and unrelenting in equal measure and it’s a beautiful thing to behold. 8/10

Walter Trout - Ride (Provogue Records) [Matt Bladen]

On his 30th album blues rock survivor Walter Trout deals with his past and present. With the touring for 2020's Ordinary Madness cut short, Trout was made to stay home in Denmark (after moving there from his California base of 47 years). His liver transplant basically putting him in the at risk category during the pandemic. However his wife/manager Marie got the bluesman a new record deal for his 70th birthday, so he flew to the West Coast as things lifted, and sitting in his deserted house in Huntington Beach he wrote Ride.

A record that draws from Trout's past, both musically and personally, drawing from trauma to create such Grade A blues as So Many Sad Goodbyes, where emotion is rung out though his rough vocals and searing guitars. Much of this album is poignant, a retrospective, recalling if where Trout has been and more importantly what he's been through. His years as a hellraiser are touched on, his meeting of Marie in 1990 influencing Destiny, as Hey Mother is a pointed response to his stormy childhood. The blues has always been drawn from the regret and remorse so tracks such as Waiting For The Dawn and Follow You Back Home are brilliant examples of blues how it should be done, the more upbeat, hopeful The Fertile Soil and the self realisation on I Worry Too Much both move away from the doom and gloom. 

Having had somewhat of a career resurgence since his life saving surgery, and it looks like he isn't slowing down for anyone or anything. A fully fledged blues legend, Trout is in his element here, crafting an album that is very much his wheelhouse, but also adding new feathers to his considerably long bow. Jump along for the Ride with this blues journeyman. 8/10

Alpha Wolf & Holding Absence - The Lost & The Longing (Sharptone Records) [GC]

So, here I have 2 bands, a whopping 4 songs and a total of 13 minutes of music to ingest, react to and write some words about!?, bit tricky to really get a full picture of what is on offer here but I will do my best!!

Openers Alpha Wolf tear out of the blocks with a style very similar to a band I enjoy, Emmure, however they don’t have the same force and fury of Emmure they offer the same nu-metal tinged metalcore complete with electronic sounds, squeaky riffs and neanderthal drumming but it just doesn’t really hit the mark for me. First song is 60cm Of Steel and the highlight of this is Holding Absence’s Lucas Woodlands guest vocals which lift the song midway through and helps save this song from being a bit of a paint by numbers chug fest. Second track Hotel Underground tries its best to be furious and angry but again falls short as the riffs are flat and uninteresting and the song just bumbles towards an end and just reminds me that little bit too much of nu-metal and the reasons why it died on its arse. I know this may sound harsh as I have only heard 2 songs but there is nothing here that would convince me to listen to them again.

And now we are introduced to Holding Absence who are the better of the 2 bands they are closer to the emo/post-hardcore melodic style and first song Aching Longing has some great guitar work that pushes the song forward until it dives directly into the first great chorus, and we also get guest vocals from Alpha Wolf’s Lochie Keogh which should probably sound out of place here but actually compliment the song very well. The whole song flies by on the more melodic route to balance out what has been before and is without a doubt the highlight of the whole E.P so far, second song Coffin however is a bit of an up and down affair its slow and meaningful with quiet almost whispered verses that fade into a big driving chorus that then fades out into a mournful end section that ends abruptly and makes you feeling a bit flat and empty overall.

Now, I know it may be unfairly harsh to judge both bands off the back of just 2 songs each but unfortunately that’s all I have to go from! In all honesty this E.P has done absolutely nothing for me and wouldn’t make me want to look out for any old or future releases from either band its all very safe and doesn’t challenge the listener and never made me get passed a slight foot tap when Holding Absence were on. Disappointing. 4/10

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