Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Thursday 8 June 2023

Reviews: Ray Alder, Buckcherry, Firstborne, Queen Kona (Reviews By Matt Bladen, Rich Piva, Simon Black & GC)

Ray Alder – II (Inside Out Music) [Matt Bladen]

Denied the chance to tour his debut solo album What The Water Wants, due to Covid, Fates Warning vocalist Ray Alder, returns with another solo release called II. I’d consider Alder to be one of the premier voices in the progressive metal scene, the right mix of soul and bombast, he is held in high regard by fans and peers. Because of his link with Fates Warning, though he’s also been a member of Redemption and more recently A-Z, his solo records tend to take a different path, much like James LaBrie from Dream Theater. 

There’s progressive touches in the way synths are used, the song structures and melodies but II is a heavier yet more anthemic record, for instance a song such as Silence The Enemy, has a great stop start riff but a hooky chorus and lead guitar solo, the guitars trading off between Mike Abdow and Tony Hernando who again co-wrote the album with Alder. Mixed by DGM’s Simone Mularoni, II is a sophisticated record with lots of dynamics in the songs, from the slower, emotional tracks such as Keep Wandering to the heavier crunch of rockers like Hands Of Time, II is a journey record, it keeps you not only entertained by excited by what’s to come the musicianship, brilliant against Alder’s superior vocals. 

Keep Wandering for me is the best song for drummer Craig Anderson to use his skill, but with the longer run times of these songs compared to the first album, the instrumentals are more similar to the Fates Warning material, the final offering of Changes the closest to his other band. With anything Alder sings there's magic to it but on II it lasts longer and is more potent. Heavier, longer songs mean that the album will entice the hardened Fates Warning fans who thought the debut a little lighter, and it'll thrill long time fans with it's scope. 8/10 

Buckcherry - Vol. 10 (Earache Records) [Rich Piva]

Buckcherry has 10 albums? Wow. That is where I was going to end this review, but I didn’t think I had reached the minimum word limit so let’s expand a bit on this. Back in 1999, Buckcherry burst onto the scene that had been dominated by “Alternative Rock” with something that sounded fresh and dangerous, led by their hit single Lit Up, that praised how much singer Josh Todd loved the white devil.

That whole album was great, but was it new and fresh? Not so much, considering the thousands of bands who were playing the sleazy hard rock ten to fifteen years prior to the release of their self-titled debut and before all those bands were killed by Teen Spirit. So yeah, hearing someone praise cocaine unironically and how they had a yearly pass on the Nightrain worked for those who were looking for something more than Lit, Incubus, and Smashmouth. So now, Vol. 10. I am sure there are fans of this band that will like this, but if you thought their act was tired after the debut, then you may want to skip this one. This is unmemorable and at times somewhat unlistenable.

Take the opening track, which sounds like a new country song (definitely not a compliment), about not taking shit from haters. Yikes. Cringeworthy lyrics and an overall overproduced feel is consistent across Vol. 10. Good Time and Let’s Get Wild being other examples of uninspired cookie cutter drivel. Keep On Fighting musically is fine, but again, nothing I will ever want to revisit. Feel Like Love sounds like a lesser version of John Waite’s Missing You. You also know when they put the cover as the last song on the album it really doesn’t fit with the flow and is most likely unnecessary, which is what you get from the very straight ahead and pointless cover of Summer Of ’69.

My suggestion would be to go listen to the new Skid Row or L.A. Guns album and skip this one unless you are a Buckcherry mega fan. There is so much more good stuff out there in the style they play that I would suggest spending your time there and skipping Vol. 10. 3/10

Firstborne – Home (Self Released) [Simon Black]

Another day; another supergroup. To be fair, since Chris Adler parted company with Lamb Of God (a band he formed), this really is his main project these days, but by virtue of the people he has pulled into his orbit all being established musicians in other ongoing acts, I guess it’s both of these things.

We got a five track self-titled EP in 2020, but this is the first full album and I guess the start of things properly, given the disruption Covid has wreaked since that time. Joining him are bassist James LoMenzo (Megadeth), soft-shred guitar pioneer Myrone and vocalist Girish Pradhan, who hails from India, whose mainstay is Girish And The Chronicles, which I haven’t heard before, but on the strength of this recording, I suspect that I am about to do so… (serves you right for avoiding Frontiers releases - Ed)

Given the Lamb Of God and Megadeth connection of two of the principles, I was expecting something quite fast and furious, but this is actually hugely leaning in the direction of Heavy / Hard Rock, but with a nice Metal tinge thanks to LoMenzo’s brutally tight, but down tuned, hugely metallic sounding string slapping. To be fair, the whole rhythm section of this record is tighter than the backside of someone who has inadvertently ingested a whole packet of Imodium, but when you add Myrone’s rather unique playing style into the mix the instrumental sound really does come out as something rather unique, and I am somewhat reminded of the first time I ever heard Rage Against The Machine and pondered exactly how three instrumentalist musicians could manufacture such a sound.

And these songs are really well written and structured to boot, despite the slight otherworldliness of the sound… In the main, the core arrangements are the sort of stuff that gets hearts racing and fists pumping in the time-honoured fashion, but with an edge of otherness. When they do go fully off kilter and experiment (such as the quite exceptional Bad Things), it still works in a remarkable accessibly way because the delivery is so unexpectedly clever, yet catchy in equal weight to the more unusual.

Then there’s Pradhan’s quite exceptional vocal performance. He has the kind of soaring power that would have opened doors, wallets and plenty else besides in the long-gone era of the rock star, but stylistically can pull things into more Modern Metal or even Extreme Metal directions when needed almost effortlessly at will, without sounding forced, strained or out of place. Soulful and charismatic, this is one hell of a singer and I hope this ends up as more than a studio project, because I am drooling at the thought of what he could deliver live.

It’s days like this when an absolute gem comes out of the blue, that I love my job. Out of the park and absolutely 10/10

Queen Kona - All Hail (Moosh Man Records) [GC]

Looking over the track listing here I am a bit confused. The first 5 tracks are normal tracks and then the next 5 are instrumental versions on the very same tracks. Not sure if I see the point in that if I am honest. Anyway, today I have the new release from Queen Kona All Hail.

It all starts with Black Flag with its serene drum intro this then seeps in an ambient guitar sound that gives way to a kind of standard sounding electronic modern day metalcore sound that everyone seems to use now and its not very inspiring or memorable and I have heard this done much better many times before and midway the standard big clean vocals come in and again don’t do anything for me his voice is just to high and makes my eardrums bleed and the end of song beatdown outro doesn’t save the song either, Atomic Diplomacy doesn’t fare much better and actually sound like a nu-metal track it’s all chug chug riffs mixed with stupid electronics that sound like an 80’s computer game, the best part of this song is the vocals and the short running time. 

Dreams Of Calpurnia has another muted intro that tries to create the tension before kicking into the main song and on this they do find a bit of rhythm and the riffs are good and again the vocal performance is worth talking about there is a bit more urgency and focus than previously and it makes for a decent listen if you like nu-metal deathcore, which I unfortunately don’t but it’s the best song on this release by a mile, Flat Six follows a familiar path with some almost rapped verses mixed into the down tuned wall of sound that mixes in some more clean vocals that don’t actually sound that bad this time round but its all so mundane nothing ever really grabs hold of you and makes you want to really care about it and pay attention and really enjoy it, its all just passing me by and is just there, it inspires nothing in me and I’m glad its only 5 tracks long and not 10, the relief I am feeling is immense right now! 

And on that note, it’s the final track Heist which has the most nu-metally feel of all, its kind of dis-jointed and scattergun in approach with the loud/fade out explode back into life dynamic throughout and the riffs are probably the highlight on here they are sharp and jabbing and actually do finally make you listen and think what could have been if they did this all the time but as a whole release it’s all just been a bit to meh? for me really.

Side note: Once I had listened to the first 5 songs with vocals, I obviously wasn’t about to listen to the same 5 tracks but without any vocals because really, what is the point? I have already reviewed them once and have not been overly kind to them so to then put myself through it all again just seems pointless and unfair to Queen Kona.

Shorter than usual review because obviously there were only 5 tracks to review, and I didn’t like them that much. From the start to the end it was all just to boring, nothing on here ever made me sit up and pay attention or want to hear it again and that’s the problem it all just kind of happened and did nothing for me, I would say they need to try and vary the sound to make it more interesting and dynamic because if they carry on like this there isn’t really much hope for them going forward. 4/10

No comments:

Post a Comment