Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Thursday 14 December 2023

Reviews: Mark Tremonti, Health, Warcoe, Dune Pilot (Reviews By Matt Bladen & Rich Piva)

Mark Tremonti - Christmas Classics New & Old (Take A Chance For Charity) [Matt Bladen]

If you didn't already know, Mark Tremonti (Creed/Alter Bridge/Tremonti) is something of a crooner. His voice is suited almost as well to big band standards as Seth MacFarlane, so much so that he released an album in 2022 where he sang the songs of Frank Sinatra. So at this festive time of year, rather than out out some more virtuoso shredding he's turned his attention to some Christmas classics. This is not a metal album, neither is it a rock album, this is a collection of Christmas songs, delivered in the original style with and orchestra and Tremonti on vocals.

If you're fed up of Mickey Bubbles then perhaps play this while you carve the turkey. You get The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (Andy Williams), Jingle Bells, The Christmas Song (Nat King Cole), Santa Claus Is Coming To Town and of course Have Yourself A Merry Christmas from Ol' Blue Eyes himself, backed by Let It Snow originally by his best buddy Deano. So there's Ratpack tracks, traditional songs, hymns and one original composition called Christmas Morning, which is a schmaltzy ballad but can be forgiven as it's Christmas.

Recorded authentically with that 50'/60's crackle, a full orchestra Bury Bacharach would be proud of and the major suprise of Tremonti having the ideal vocals for a crooner, as well as the chops of a virtuoso. Scrooge's need not apply, it's a curious album but one way to make sure the metal scene influences the holidays, and it's for Tremonti's Take A Chance For Charity organisation. (Follow it up with Higher, granny will love it!) 7/10

Health – Rat Wars (Loma Vista Recordings) [Matt Bladen]

So Rat Wars opens with, Demigods, the intro of which is a pastiche on the Terminator 2, theme, they thought I wouldn’t notice but I did. This quickly breaks and we are brought into the gothic, industrial, nightmarescapes of Health. Jake Duzsik (vocals/guitar), John Famiglietti (bass/producer), and BJ Miller (drums) make up this L.A band and this is their fifth album. 

No I’ve never heard of the band I’ll admit but industrial music is not always my go to. Health do it well though, NiN-like introspection, with Laibach-like soundscapes as pulsing electronics, oscillating synths and heavy bass drops are set to stabbing riffs, mechanical drumming and ghostlike vocals. It’s their most personal album while also being their most aggressive the inclusion of Lamb Of God’s Willie Adler on Children Of Sorrow and sampling Godflesh’s Like Rats on Sicko, showing that they draw from the darker reaches. 

Inspired by the pandemic the music here is called “The Downward Spiral for people with at least two monitors and a Vitamin D deficiency”, the young tech savvy kids uncomfortable in their own skin and looking for an outlet are the audience Health are made for. I suppose you could call it “Reddit Metal”, the angst of Millennials, giving way to a resignation of hopelessness that breeds complacency from Generation Z, condensed into modernist, apocalyptic synthscapes. 

Health and Rat Wars define their generation, an inhospitable nightmare, where a sneer and sarcasm mask the pain. 7/10

Warcoe - A Place For Demons (Morbid And Miserable Records) [Rich Piva]

When I heard the name and saw the album art for all the material for the Italian band Warcoe I immediately thought that their stuff was going to be either hardcore punk or some kind of black metal. Oh, how wrong I was, because the trio bring an almost lo-fi, doomy Sabbath worship groove that I did not expect the first time I heard them on their last album, The Giant’s Dream, from last year. The band is back now with their latest full length, A Place For Demons. Warcoe hasn’t evolved much on their new one, but that is OK. Give me their brand of old school groovy doom any day, evolution be damned.

There are riffs aplenty on A Place For Demons, starting out with the title track. Warcoe sound like they recorded this in a tiny, dingy studio in the mid-80s, and yes, that is a complement. Like all the tracks, this is some solid Ozzy era Sabbath love that grooves along and has some catchy elements as well. The tuned down everything gives the band a more sinister sound, like the opening riff on Pyramid Of Despair

Warcoe reminds me of a less produced Sahg, especially on this one. A three-minute sparse acoustic interlude introduces us to Leaves, which has the best riff on an album filled with great riffs and the most up-tempo track on A Place For Demons, a certified proto ripper, and my favorite track on the album. I love to vocals, and I love the guitar sound right behind the voice. Ishkur bring the tempo down a notch, but not too much, for some more proto doom done right. 

Once again, the vocals really do it for me on A Place For Demons and this one has the chunkiest riff out of all of them. Boys Become Kings slows it down to a more traditional doom pace and has serious Ozzy vocal vines going on. This could be a Sabbath B-side. The album wraps up solidly with some more killer proto doom with Wounds Too Deep To Heal and the nine-minute instrumental doom epic Buio that is chock full of riffs and has old school Trouble vibes. Great stuff.

Do not judge a book (album) by it’s cover because I could have easily dismissed Warcoe as another black metal or punk band that I really do not have time for. Instead, we get some killer proto doom, riffs, and excellent vocals from the eight tracks on A Place For Demons. A nice December treat for those who worship the riff. 8/10

Dune Pilot - Magnetic (Argonauta Records) [Rich Piva]

Bands are probably not thinking about year end lists when deciding when to release their next record, but there is an unfortunate habit of reviewers and list makers to build their year-end lists in early December and miss some killer stuff. 

Last year I had to scramble to adjust my list when Mos Generator dropped their killer record, Time/Wounds. The German stoner rockers Dune Pilot may cause the same problems I had last year for many people 2023 list, because their new album, Magnetic, is a killer stoner rock ripper that if released, in say, July, may wind up way higher than it probably will, given how locked in people are by now. But lists be damned, Magnetic rocks.

Starting with the title track, you get super solid stoner/desert rock with lots of riffs and a nice driving tempo. The production is super clean but not overly so and combined with the vocals give me a bit of a Valley Of The Sun vibe. Visions is the best track on Magnetic, with its cool tempo changes and crunchy riffs. Serious Kyuss worship hits us next with Lumi, also recalling the excellent new record from Fire Down Below. Love the background vocals on this one and you get some more of those tempo changes as well. 

You get a bit of a slow burner next with Take Your Lies, but still with some abstract tempos and great riffs. So Mad and Pied Piper bring more of those Valley Of The Sun vibes while Next To The Liquor Store continue the Kyuss tip. Heap Of Shards is a weird one in a good way, kind of a if stoner rock had ballad situation to start until the ripping kicks in and I am here for it. Highest Bid is another strong track, with great guitar work and killer groove. All 11 tracks rock and are worth your time.

The new Dune Pilot record is some more December goodness that people need to recognize. 2023 has 12 months, and Magnetic, even though it is towards the end, will most likely be near the beginning of several end-of-year lists. At least it would have if it came out in July, no matter how unfair that is to the great record. 8/10

No comments:

Post a Comment