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Thursday 11 April 2024

Reviews: The Lunar Effect, Gun, Elk Witch, Attacker (Reviews By Rich Piva & Matt Bladen)

 The Lunar Effect - Sounds Of Blue And Green (Svart Records) [Rich Piva]

It is fitting that I write a review for a band called The Lunar Effect on the day eclipse mania is hitting here in the US. Not just for their name, but for how much my love of their new record, Sounds Of Blue And Green has eclipsed my expectations for how much I would enjoy the London band’s second album. For those unacquainted with the band, they play a heavy and fuzzy stoner heavy blues mix with some elements of psych thrown in.  Sounds like a pretty good mix of stuff, right? Well, let me tell you, it is all that and more because Sounds Of Blue And Green blocks out more than the sun, try the whole universe.

What some heavy bluesy riffs and fuzzy stoner nicely blended for your heavy enjoyment? Cool, because that’s what you get with the opener, The Ocean Queen. How about some serious Zeppelin vibes, but fuzzier? Flower For Teeth is for you then.  How about we slow it down and go with more proto/psych/heavy blues vibes with Colour My World. Damn, I love when this one kicks in. The vocals are top notch on Sounds Of Blue And Green, with this one being a great example. We double down on the slowed down heavy blues vibe with the next one, In Grey

The addition of piano on Middle Of The End makes this track sound like a close cousin of one of my favourite songs ever, Edge Of The World, by Faith No More, but this one veers more towards fuzzy blues riffs then the 90’s alt weirdness and creepy old man propositioning vibes of the FNM song, and it is so great. The Lunar Effect excels when they are going all heavy London blues on us, like on Pulling Daises where the quiet, loud, quiet is used to perfection and more Zeppelin vibes start to shine through. This song is so killer. 

Same with I Can’t Say, which when it gets all fuzzy and heavy during the chorus you so gat when these guys are bringing.  I am all for bringing the piano back, and that is just what they do with what could be considered the ballad on Fear Before The Fall, which is heavy in a totally different way and fits so perfectly on the album. It’s like a perfect 70s hard rock hit but only now.  The closer has similar vibes, reminding me of a fuzzier, dark, and rainier UK version of the Skynyrd hit A Simple Man.

The Lunar Effect is a million times more interesting than the actual solar eclipse, and will have way more staying power and overall impact, as Sounds Of Blue And Green is a serious top 20 AOTY contender and will be shining bright a lot longer than the flash in the pan event happening today. Check this one out as soon as you possibly can. 9/10

Gun – Hombres (Cooking Vinyl) [Matt Bladen]

Gun 2.0 has existed longer than their original 90’s incarnation ever did. Able to weather the turbulent storms of the 90’s rock scene gave them the experience and confidence to grab the new decade by the balls and have at it again. With former bassist Dante on vocals and his brother Giuliano on guitar, the brothers Gizzi surrounded themselves with top notch musicians and hit the stages. 

They gained a new rabid following from the Planet Rock faithful and many others as both rock n roll survivors and a band always looking to go forward. Creating music to be played live, where they are in their natural habitat, there have been a slew of albums since their reformation in 2008 reformation and their newest is Hombres, the record that they say was needed to “save the band”.

It’s their post pandemic comeback, a band with itchy feet and live for the stage having to stay home must be hard, but after their last album The Carlton Songs featured cathartic acoustic reworking of classics, Hombres is them embracing electric guitars and rock n roll again. Has it worked? Well sort of, it’s the first album since coming back in 2008 that sounds like “old” Gun, which is radio friendly rock with pop sheen to it. Traversing the void between blue collar Americana/Country/Gospel  on You Are What I Need, a song that sounds like The Flaming Lips and some slithering rock n roll on Boys Don’t Cry

There’s the Gun boy swagger of Never Enough, the bass-driven dark attitude of Lucky Guy and of course, ballads such as Falling and A Shift In Time, the former being the weakest track on the album for me. Eclectic song writing but all made for the stage and that’s the key point to any Gun album review, you could go on all day about the records and debate the pros and cons, they are there to bring new songs to their live set.

I’m sure fans will lap it up, some of the songs here have the potential to be stage favourites for a long time, but I just don’t find it as engaging as some of their previous post-reformation albums. 6/10

Elk Witch - Azimuth (Majestic Mountain Records) [Rich Piva]

The Pacific Northwest is once again a hotbed for heavy rock. My current album of the year is from Kitsa, hailing from Washington state, and now another serious contender for that spot comes to us from the mountains of Medford, Oregon in the form of the second album from Elk Witch, Azimuth. I loved Elk Witch’s first album and Azimuth is even better as the band refines their heavy and fuzzy take on stoner rock and takes it to the next level.

This album has riffs coming out of every cave and mountain hideaway, case in point the opener, Dead Silence. This album is very riff driven. The vocals are there but act more as a second fiddle to the heavy ass riffing that all these songs bring. There is something wonderfully messy about Elk Witch. The title track sounds like it was done in one take in the best possible way. The trio’s fuzz quotient is off the charts too, with a guitar tone that is just about perfect. 

An instrumental interlude brings us to Empyrean, that has another sweet and chunky riff and some nice work on the skins. I love this song, especially as the pace gets to a nice gallop. There is something inherently psych about Elk Witch that is not so obvious on the surface, but listening to this track you certainly feel it. A second (and heavy) instrumental interlude leads us from the Vortex To Universe 25 that has an almost early Metallica in the garage feel (maybe I am nuts but that is what I keep hearing) until the slower, chunky break that keeps the fuzzy stoner vibes alive. 

The aptly named Space Drift is the most chill and psych sound on Azimuth and fits perfectly as a come down from all the heavy, but still continues to bring the riffs. The heaviest riff of them all comes on Ghosts Of The Lupatia which is also the most epic track on Azimuth. I love how they just start jamming at the end of the track. If this is a concept record, the closer Goddess Of Winter could not be a more fitting closer.

So, we have now established that Elk Witch rules and are one of my favourite bands out there today. Check out Azimuth if you love non-pretentious, fuzzy, chunky, stoner rock with psych leanings and garage band ethos. I love this album and you will too. 9/10

Attacker - The God Particle (Cruz Del Sur Music)

I could have sworn that Attacker were German when I played their first album in eight years. Celebrating 40 years with The God Particle, they have a Teutonic sound similar to fellow veterans Accept. Their singer even has the same rough sneer as Udo but it’s band founder and drummer Mike Sabatini that keeps this band going after so long. 

If like me you don’t know who they are then here’s a little history; formed in the mid 80’s releasing two albums, they had a hiatus in the 90’s and reformed in 2001, releasing three albums in the 2000’s and have released two albums since 2013 this being their eighth overall and I bet if you compared those record with this one you’d hear that Attacker have a definitive style and stick to it. It’s meaty classic metal, leather studs and biting thrash riffs, though the lyrics are conceptually about the Large Hadron Collider and CERN and the supposed Satanic ritual that was done at the site. 

So it’s a bit silly and doesn’t change anything Attacker have been known for in the last 40 years, but you know what? They obviously have a following and they play metal that gets the heart pumping so why try to reinvent when you can just refine what you do with experience? 6/10

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