www.needleinthegroove.co.uk

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Airbourne - 'Boneshaker' Album Review

Airbourne - Boneshaker

Me and Airbourne have a bit of beef. (Ok I know its not grammatically correct). Not serious beef, more like beef substitute. I’ve been to lots of gigs since I was 15 years old. I’m 52 now, so let’s just say that its ‘lots’ of gigs. But only one band got me admitted to A&E, and that’s Airbourne. Manchester Academy, near the front, 2011. It was unnoticeable at first, but when we left the venue, my son who was about 15 at the time sounded like a Smurf. We laughed all the way home. After an uncomfortable sleep, it was no longer funny, I thought I was fucked. I could hardly hear a thing and was relying on lip-reading. Four days passed before it came back, and I was shitting myself. Today it’s more of a badge of honour, because very few bands crank it like Airbourne and sadly missed Motorhead, and mainly because there is a legal limit. I’ve forgiven them. I am sure they can now rest, in knowing I no longer hold that grudge.

Enough of my problems. Let get onto the review. I loved the first two Airbourne albums, and clearly saw them as a methadone replacement for AC/DC should they ever jack it in. (At this rate, AC/DC will still be touring in 2043, only it will all nephews of the originals!). Their star rose very quickly, playing the likes of the big Academy in Manchester etc. in a short space of time. Nine years later sees them still playing the same venues, and I was seriously tipping them for much bigger audiences. At least they haven’t gone backwards!


Bands give 100%, and then there's Airbourne. Their effort feeds into their high-octane songs. Title track Boneshaker opens up and typically, it’s in their inimitable style. Let’s face it, who wants them to do an Opeth and see Airbourne go left field all of a sudden. It’s AC/DC by any other name, and the title falls right into TNT, or Thunderstruck territory. I can see others criticising the format, but ITS WHAT AIRBOURNE DO! ‘Burnout The Nitro’ follows suit in wanting to rip your head off and piss down your throat, with its ferocity. ‘This Is Our City’ slows the tempo down a bit, it that’s possible of Airbourne. It’s also quite simple and minimalistic. I just noticed that its been produced by Dave Cobb, which is didn’t expect, but so far into Boneshaker I can immediately feel his impact on the songs.

Sex to go sees O’Keefe going to the David Coverdale ‘iSpy Book of Saucy Lyrics’, ‘Gotta get me a bit of meat on the bun; Supersize, cheese and fries, all I really want is your apple pie’. ‘Backseat Boogie’ is their go to bar-room, spit and sawdust, beer-swillin’ number – fun, sweet, and neat. I immediately wanted to connect to ‘Blood In The Water’ thinking they had written a song about my kidney stones, but it’s no such thing unfortunately, as Airbourne have more than enough liquids in their diet, unlike me! Instead I’m certain it’s about ‘Jaws’. It has a growling riff, and pounding base. You don’t need a chiropractor to realign your bones, just crank and let the power of the riff do its work. 

‘She Gives Me Hell’ follows the ‘You Shook Me…’ beat as being a close a dance track as Airbourne could possible do. ‘Switchblade Angel’ is a 100w, raucous number that these guys can now write in their sleep. Simple and effective. ‘Weapon Of War’ mixes it up a bit with a slow and menacing riff, which builds to a crescendo of sound – riffage, thunderous bass, powerful drumming, melodic and fist pumping energy. It’s on to the last track all too soon (I think I’ve had longer dumps! The running time is a short and sweet 31 minutes), the Airbourne random name generated ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll For Life’, a song that will no doubt be coming to a tattoo parlour soon. It is out of the blocks like a stabbed rat. Fast, frenetic, and LOUD. You need to take a breather, just listening to it. 

If you’re a fan already, its rinse, repeat, enjoy. It’s what they do best. Airbourne probably make no apologies for what they do, and rightly so. You can only listen to this album at full volume, anything less and you’re a Jessie. It's the closest feeling you can get to a gig without being there in the flesh. Dave Cobb has done a good job with the production. It’s rawer than anything previous and he has managed to catch that live feeling that few can on an album. It has more grit than McAlpines quarries.

8/10

Review by Paul Chesworth

Tracklisting – 
Boneshaker
Burnout The Nitro
This Is Our City
Sex To Go
Backseat Boogie
Blood In The Water
She Gives Me Hell
Switchblade Angel
Weapon Of War
Rock ‘N’ Roll For Life

Airbourne – 
Joel O’Keefe – vocals/ lead guitar
Matt Harrison – guitar
Ryan O’Keefe – drums
Justin Street – bass

Produced by Dave Cobb


Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Klone - 'Le Grand Voyage' Album Review


Klone - Le Grand Voyage

Like my review of Leprous yesterday, Klone are another band I’ve never encountered. And, just like Leprous, I want them in my life from here on in. I find this album wonderful on its first listen, and wanted to hear it a bit more before reviewing. OK its past the release date, but I make exceptions for albums that deserve a write up and more importantly, a listen or purchase.

“Our music allows the listener to travel and ask, ‘What is the spirit? What is the matter?’ and those kinds of questions,”/says guitarist Guillaume Bernard. “/The title refers to the wandering of the mind. It all came our singer [Yann Ligner] who came up with something in English like ‘The Great Journey’. We all liked the meaning but weren’t sure how it sounded. Eventually we realised it would be easy enough for people to translate and understand in our native tongue.”/

Much of the inspiration on forthcoming singles “Breach”, “Keystone” and “Hidden Passenger” came from pondering the great philosophies of life, those eternal unanswered questions like who we are, where we are going and, ultimately, what happens next. It was the uncertainty and confusion surrounding mortality, the notion that something or nothing awaits us, which felt like an unlimited creative playground for the French art-rockers.

“Me and Yann were watching documentaries about near death experiences,” continues the Klone guitarist. “We’re no specialists on the subject, but we found it exciting to think about. Our music is really connected to universe. We used a lot of reverb, almost as if we were to touch everything in space… we wanted our music to resonate in the cosmos!”

Their stance is a very similar one to my last review which was for Leprous, “We don’t have to respect any particular rules when making this music.” I really like that, because why try to keep making the same album when you can push yourself to make something different and make no apologies for doing so.

“Yonder” is a song epic in length and also in stature. I was anticipating some pronunciation issue, but was availed of this just by hearing the first line, as Yann Ligner’s pronunciation is much better than mine. Similar to Leprous, I just fell for the vocals immediately. ‘Yonder’ is a song that is as wide an expansive as the sky, the texture of which would be even better played live. I found this song mesmerising. I find Yann’s style similar to Layne Staley only with more range. ‘Breach’ is a high and airy song, and has  the DNA of Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree running though its body. Its as close at a single as a band like this ever gets. ‘Sealed’ sees Ligner sounding like prime era Gordon Sumner, and some delicate vocals and snappy chorus. ‘Indelible’ moody and emotive opening develops to electronica and even jazz-sax in the latter, accompanied by some fine rhythmic drumming from Berthet leading the way. Jazz-art-rock. Its the future.

‘Keystone’ is both ethereal and haunting, and the last quarter just opens up sonically and is a highlight of the album so far. This in particular is a passage they could expand on live and make for one hell of an experience. ‘Hidden Passenger’ makes me quote Nigel Tufnel. As the mood takes a downturn, ‘D Minor, the saddest of all keys, I find”. Klone don the flannel and plaid shirts for a very 90s grunge sounding ‘The Great Oblivion’ with more AIC inspired guitar work. ‘Sad And Slow’ is Klone Ronseal moment. Its not bad, its just that the bar has been sry high for everything pretending this track. Finally we are on to ‘Silver Gate’ . It take a short while to get going, and the first minute or so makes me think of The Doors, but when it does ‘go’, you are rewarded with a very enjoyable listen, an envelope of ‘Klone-sound’ (Pat.Pending) encircling and comforting you

Very impressed with the quality on ‘Le Grand Voyage’. Ligner voice is very good. He has a very unmistakeable tone, and that does make some of the vocals a bit ‘samey’.  Its not a negative, Im just stating what I feel. That said, it hasn’t stopped me from buying the album

I have to say Ive been pleasantly surprised by the quality of this album, and I apologise for not taking any notice the past 20 years. All I can say to that it, I will rectify this omission. I really liked this album. A lot

A very solid 8/10

Review by Paul Chesworth
Tracklisting
Yonder
Breach
Sealed
Indelible Keystone
Hidden Passenger
The Great Oblivion
Sad And Slow
Silver Gate

Klone are -
Yann Ligner : Vocals
Guillaume Bernard : Guitar
Aldrick Guadagnino : Guitar
Morgan Berthet : Drums
Jean Etienne Maillard : Bass
Matthieu Metzger : Sax / Samples


*Facebook & Instagram* @kloneband
*Twitter* @KloneOfficial

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Leprous - 'Pitfalls' Album Review

 Leprous - Pitfalls

Norwegian Rock outfit Leprous return with their sixth and most ambitious studio album to date entitled “Pitfalls”, set for release on October 25th, 2019 worldwide via InsideOutMusic.

Leprous vocalist and keyboardist Einar Solberg comments on the upcoming album: /“We’re incredibly proud to announce “Pitfalls”! It’s the album no-one is expecting from Leprous. When you think you know where it’s headed, you’ll realise that you’re wrong. It’s not only by far the biggest production and musical departure we’ve done, but the also most personal and honest. The album has been written through one of my toughest years, where I struggled with depression and anxiety. No filters, no metaphors, just the truth. They say that writing music is therapeutic. but I would say that it’s an understatement. For me “Pitfalls” is the result of 1,5 years of learning how to get through the dark tunnel. The music has been my torch.”

I’ve been listening to music for as long as I can remember. In fact its probably one of my earliest memories, with my dad cranking 50s and 60 rock n roll and thumping pop acts. Not quite metal, but stuff you could play loud. I have probably heard thousands of albums from thousands of bands over the years, and Im still scratching the surface. I’ve been reviewing since 2007 and the reason I keep doing it is for occasions like this, where a band I’ve never heard of before, ends up in my inbox and I’m asked to give it a listen. It’s happened twice this week, the other being French outfit Klone.

There are nine songs in all, and for the frontman they are roughly divided into two halves. The first half of the album can be described as representing the poppier side of the band’s artistry. The second half is a lot more experimental and progressive.

I’ve no previous history so its a case of reviewing it from a single standpoint without referencing anyof their past work. What I will tell you immediately, is that I want to get hold of everything they have done before this, after just one single listen of this album. Its good. Bloody good. I immediately like the phrasing, tone, and falsetto of Einar Solberg’s vocals, akin to something I expect to hear on a Scandi thriller playing in the background. Both haunting and compelling ‘Below’ is a joy from its first to its last note. I can’t call it prog, or rock or anything in-between. It is what it is. ‘I Lose Hope’ is close to Royal Republic’s recent disco album, and the short choppy vocals combined with sparse use of guitar, and electronica show that these guys are not to be trifled with, or pigeon-holed. ‘Observe The Train’ has a lovely lilting chorus that’s instantly likeable. ‘By My Throne’ picks up the pace more than anything previous, and for me the tone is similar to  Agnes Obel. Not your usual comparison I’d agree! ‘Alleviate’ involves strings, bongoes, and is as close to pop as a band like this Leprous will get.

'At The Bottom’ is a song you can’t fathom which direction it is going to go. Almost operatic, and balladic, its not conforming to any given structure. Again there are strings lifting the emotion of the song beyond the norm, before falling into something that Steven Wilson may curve ball you into. Its from this song to the album end where the experimentation takes place. ‘Distant Bells’ starts with a piano intro, with Solberg’s vocals drifting gently over the piano. I feel like I’m watching a very dramatic film, with the soundtrack to an emotional and downbeat section. Its achingly haunting, as it builds to its powerful crescendo. Theres one ‘rocker’ on ‘Pitfalls, and that’s ‘Foreigner’ , which has a synth section that is similar to The Prodigy’s ‘Funky Shit’ crossed with the melody of Rammstein. Finally we are onto the epic in length closer, ‘The Sky Is Red’ starts off with some fab drumming from  Baard Kolstad, and a choir has been employed to sing over the vocals adding extra sound and depth. It has choppy riffing from guitarists Suhrke, Ognedal, and bassist Børven. They even throw in a guitar solo, to keep the purists happy, at least for one song. Its prog at its finest and a fitting way to finish off the album.

I sense that Leprous are doing ‘an Opeth’, in having a career defining change, and I’ll leave the last word to Solberg. Solberg believes ‘Pitfalls’ firmly represents the Leprous philosophy and artistry. It is an album without any compromise whatsoever. The band have followed their vision throughout, whatever the cost and wherever it took them. “I can honestly say that ‘Pitfalls’ is the album we set out to make, and I am proud of what we have achieved. I hope everyone enjoys it. But what matters most to me is that I love it. That’s all any artist can ask, to be happy with what you’ve created.” I agree with him wholeheartedly. A wonderful album, and I can’t wait to catch them live in November.


Thank you Leprous, you have a new convert.

9/10

Tracklisting
Below
I Lose Hope
Observe The Train
By My Throne
Alleviate
At The Bottom
Distant Bells
Foreigner
The Sky Is red

Leprous
Einar Solberg - Lead vocals / keyboards
Tor Oddmund Suhrke - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Baard Kolstad - Drums
Robin Ognedal - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Simen Børven - Bass, Backing Vocals

Leprous online
www.leprous.net
www.facebook.com/leprousband


Saturday, 12 October 2019

Alter Bridge - 'Walk The Sky' Album Review


 Alter Bridge - Walk The Sky

Few bands formed in the 21st Century would be added to my all-time list of favourite bands. Alter Bridge are one band that sit proudly for me amongst the likes of Rainbow, Thin Lizzy, Rush, and Van Halen. Ive been hooked right from the off, when I heard one of the songs on a rock radio station on holiday in Orlando promoting the debut album, ‘One Day Remains’. I have watched them break the chains of any connection to Creed, and in doing so becoming one of the best live bands I’ve seen in many a year.

For me, their true reckoning came with the release of ‘Blackbird’. Later albums, have more than had their moments, but this (Blackbird) was good, great even. For me, it is still the yard stick to be measured by. ‘Walk The Sky’ is their sixth studio release, but can it surpass ‘Blackbird’….?

Well what we have (for the first time in their 15 year career) is a bit of a game changer for Alter Bridge. Ok, the foundations of an Alter Bridge record are still there, industrial scale riffing from Tremonti, pulsating bone pounding bass and spleen splitting drumming, and the eloquent and uplifting, positive vocals from Kennedy; but when I say game changer, gone are the lengthy numbers, and most here are short and snappy, even with a bit of electronica to boot! (Godspeed, a song that feels and sounds as if it could be courtesy of ‘insert 80s band name here’. Its probably the ‘poppiest’ they have ever produced. It has the DNA of what I call ABs ‘funeral song’. How could it not be with a line like “Farewell, Godspeed, goodbye, you have changed all our lives.” Kennedy certainly knows how to pen an emotional and gut-wrenching lyric.

‘Wouldn’t You Rather’ opens in typical Alter Bridge manner - a bludgeoning Tremonti riff, encircled with Kennedy’s harmonic wail; its like adding a fourth tried and tested instrument, adding ‘Wouldn’t you rather live from the heart?’ A  lyric to fuel many a tattoo parlour over the coming few months I suspect! ‘In The Deep’ is full of melody and almost certain to be a video release. ’Native Son’ starts with an eastern sounding tones, before the hammer blast falls like a blacksmiths anvil. ’Take The Crown’ is of a lighter fare,  but lyrically it’s still thought provoking, as are the lyrics to ‘Indoctrination’.

‘Pay No Mind’ is another with a keyboard /sequencer undertone. AB, using keyboards as a prominent instrument? I’m in! As it adds depth and power to the overall sound. ‘Forever Falling’ lulls you into a false sense of security, like being waterboarded only with guitars! It sees Tremonti take a lead with the vocals. It further shows his development as a vocalist in his own right.

“If I die tonight, would the question still remain? Did I live for what was right, did I live this life in vain?” Is the opening and existential verse to ‘Clear Horizon’. It make me think about Kennedy’s persona. Putting yourself ‘out there’ lyrically is cathartic and cheaper than any shrink could assist with. It also shows why Myles is one of the true masters of his trade. The absolute highlights for me though are on two of the last three songs - ‘Walking On The Sky’, wailing “Do you feel alive, tempting your fate on the line….”, and is as monstrous as the sky is infinite. ’Save the best till last’ is a saying used far too frequently, but is not the case here. ‘Dying Light’ is a ‘Blackbird-esque’ song in its emotion-evoking spirit, rising and falling like the waves, its guitar building to the impending Tremonti solo. The result is a big, huge monolith of a song, with the closing lyric of “In the dying light, we can begin to live again” and sums up AB for me. A new dawn is approaching for Alter Bridge, and the outlook is very promising indeed

It’s their most mature album to date, and is their best album this side of Blackbird. Other opinions are available, obviously.

For me, one thing is certain, few bands can muster or match the consistency that AB have attained these past 15 years. Along with a band like Ghost the futures of Download festival et al, are in very safe hands indeed. Cracking stuff.

8.5/10

Review by Paul Chesworth

Tracklisting
One Life
Wouldn’t You Rather
In The Deep
Godspeed
Native Son
Take The Crown
Indoctrination
The Bitter End
Pay No Mind
Forever Falling
Clear Horizon
Walking On The Sky
Tear Us Apart
Dying Light

Highlights
Wouldn’t You Rather
In The Deep
Godspeed
Walking On The Sky
Dying Light

Friday, 4 October 2019

Alter Bridge - 'Blackbird' Album Review

Alter Bridge - Blackbird

Alter Bridge hit us with this their sophomore offering, but will it be sophomore or sopholess (see what I did there!). Also will it be enough to shake the ‘Ties That Bind’ of the constant reminder that is/was Creed. The Creed tag never really effected Alter Bridge in ‘ol Blighty, but the U.S. is a different matter entirely

Alter Bridge hit a home run when they recruited Myles Kennedy, a vocalist (and also excellent guitarist) whose previous band was The Mayfield Four. Similarities between AB and Creed were bound to come thick and fast, in snippets there are musical similarities on the first album, but with a settled and comfortable line up AB now have a better singer by Myles (I did it again)

Blackbird has allowed them to break free and become purely Alter Bridge. This album is a much heavier album but still holds on to the melodic choruses and crunchy riffs of One day Remains. The music is not a pretentious ego fuelled statement. Instead we get a pure rock album without the full-on ego trip.

From the opener ‘Ties that Bind’ with its chorus ‘One last hope/To rise and break away/Above the faded line/Way beyond the ties that bind’ and ‘Brand New Start’ ‘God how we ache to be free/We’ll make our way’ the crux of the theme is FREEDOM. Freedom from the record company, Wind-Up, from who they had to buy out their contract, and freedom in clearing the Creed tag. 

Kennedy at one stage even sounds like Coverdale on the opening few lines of ‘Brand New Start’ before hitting the highs like only Myles Kennedy can

Title track ‘Blackbird’ is not only the best song on the album, but also one of the best songs I’ve heard…ever! This could be THEIR ‘Mistreated’ ‘Heaven & Hell’ ‘Stargazer’ etc and is one to played live for many a year. Weighing in at a hefty 8 mins it honestly felt like a 3 minute single, such was the listening pleasure. Sucked in by the personal lyrics ‘ Blackbird ‘ is a haunting song inspired by a dear departed friend of Myles which builds to an assault attack of a solo by the vastly underrated Mark Tremonti who is a master of crafting a well constructed solo, both intricate and mesmerising.

Hook after hook entwine with memorable choruses and a pulsating rhythm section. In the main the songs are punchy and rockin’and are destined to become modern classics.One of the surprises is the ballad ‘Watch Over You’ which is destined to become a staple on the live circuit.

Alter Bridge have a collection of songs they can be very proud of. With the record label issues now behind them, they can now get back to launching themselves on the rest of the world. Fame surely, has to beckon. Existing fans of Alter Bridge will be delighted with this album, for potential new fans, if you want to buy and try out a band you’ve never listened to before, then look no further than this, I swear you will not be disappointed. My favourite album of the year!

9.5/10

Review by Paul Chesworth**

Track listing
01 - Ties That Bind
02 - Come To Life
03 - Brand New Start
04 - Buried Alive
05 - Coming Home
06 - Before Tomorrow Comes
07 - Rise Today
08 - Blackbird
09 - One By One
10 - Watch Over You
11 - Break Me Down
12 - White Knuckles
13 - Wayward One

**review I originally did for www.roomthirteen.com back in 2007

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Steel Panther - "Heavy Metal Rules' Album Review

Steel Panther - Heavy Metal Rules

I saw Steel Panther for the first time supporting the Leppard and Motley Crue  Mirrorball Tour back in December 2011. Anyway, I had already got the album, partially dismissed it as a bit of fun, and went along mainly to see Motley Crue. How. Fucking. Naive. Was. I? Very it seems, as Steel Panther were the best 80s hair metal band on that bill, for any other come to think of it that I had seen for quite some time. They were great, funny as fuck, and proved there and then that they were onto something special. 80s originals have tried (and failed) to write songs like Steel Panther have these past ten years or so. They have almost single handedly kept hair metal alive when it was close to being read the last rites.

So October sees the release of ‘Heavy Metal Rules’ their fifth studio release. It opens up with a clip taken from ‘Heavy Metal Parking Lot’ called ‘Zebraman’. Go looking for it if you’ve never seen it, as it is priceless! What you get are the usual high standards of smut - ‘All I Wanna Do Is Fuck (Myself Tonight)’, ‘Always Gonna Br A Ho’,  ‘Im Not Your Bitch’, ‘Fuck Everybody’ and ‘Gods Of Pussy’. The bar is set high with ‘All I Wanna Do is Fuck (Myself Tonight). It follows the now standard formula for a Steel Panther anthem, shallow as gnats piss puddle, but a belter of an opener. ‘Always Gonna Be A Ho’ is their maturer ‘Community Property’ with the classic line “Has your vagina never seen the shade” and “I kissed your mouth and tasted Satchels dick”. Mercury Prize, please take note!!!!

Its the likes of ‘Fuck Everybody’, ‘All I Wanna Do…’, ‘Heavy Metal Rules’ with its Sabbath-esque riff, but a bit of a repetitive chorus, and the wonderfully titled ‘Gods Of Pussy’ (I can already see the mechanising), that resonate the most and will be remembered in the long haul. One thing is absolutely certain, Satchel and Steel Panther have a Metal detecting ear for a great hook, riff and a chorus. Like I said, single handedly keeping hair metal alive….I mean it! Other than getting into a DeLorean, SP are producing some of the best riffs this side of Warren DeMartini’s poodle perm!

7/10

Review by Paul Chesworth



Tracklisting
Zebraman
All I Wanna Do Is Fuck (Myself Tonight)
Lets Get High Tonight
Always Gonna Be A Ho
I’m Not Your Bitch
Fuck Everybody
Heavy Metal Rules
Sneaky Little Bitch
Gods Of Pussy
I Ain’t Buying What You’re Selling

Michael Sweet - 'Ten' Album Review

Michael Sweet - Ten

If you’re a fan of Michael Sweet and Stryper, then ‘now’ is the best time there has been to be a fan. I say ‘now’, but I mean the last 10 yrs in particular have been great ones. Stryper albums have come thick and fast, his alliance with fellow 80s rock icon George Lynch, and his solo works. Its been three years since his excellent One Sided War’ was released, and this, the tenth album from Michael is what we have come to expect from him.

The list of luminaries taking part is a large one - Jeff Loomis of Arch Enemy, Todd La Torre of Queensrÿche, Andy James, Tracii Guns of LA Guns, Rich Ward of Fozzy, Joel Hoekstra of Whitesnake, Gus G, Howie Simon, Ethan Brosh, Marzi Montazeri, Will Hunt of Evanescence, John O’Boyle, Mike Kerr and Ian Raposa of Firstbourne, and more!!!

It’s great that Michael is getting some of his illustrious friends on board. Either that, or they charge next to nothing! For me, he doesn’t need the likes of Hoekstra/Loomis etc on board as he is a shit hot guitarist in his own right. That said, all the guests bring their own bit of spit, polish and panache to proceedings, and all add their own individuality and personality to the songs on board! But by doing it this way, I can see Sweets reasoning as it will open up the sales to fans of all the aforementioned guests. He’s a canny lad is Mr Sweet.

So, onto the review. First up we have ‘Better Part Of Me’. I’ll add all the luminaries at the end on the track listing so you know who is doing what. Anyway, Michael opens up with what is probably a contractual obligation to let rip with a scream his 80s self would be bloody proud of. Even more so, the 50s version! It’s 80s music by numbers, and the numbers are good. A cracking riff, great tempo, and goosebump raising harmonies. Its a good thing he isn’t paying the guitar solo by the note!

‘Lay It Down’ is traditional 80s metal, driven by a thumping drum beat and long lost 80s outdo guitar solo. ‘Forget, Forgive’ has a Hendrix-y ‘Foxy Lady’ style riff and a dirtier, bluesier number. ‘Now Or Never’ has a grandiose feel to the song, and slower than anything so far, and has an anthemic style with some very orchestral and biblical hymn like ‘Whoa-ohhs!’. You have to hear it to understand! 


Title track ‘Ten’ sees Sweet go back to his idols and sup from the chalice of Tony Iommi. It reminds me of H&H era Sabbath, particularly ‘Lonely Is The Word’. ‘Shine’ is complete with a chugging, charging riff, and is one of my fave tracks of the album so far as it has some cracking harmonies. I know there’s a lot of messaging in the lyrics, but I chose to go for melody over meaning, especially as I am a non-believer! Okay, I know!

‘Let It Be Love’ is the first song not to feature anyone ‘matey’. With it having ‘love’ in the title, it’s the second contractual obligation of a MS ballad. Its fine as it goes, but its predecessors have been blistering up until now, and I feel it would be much better as a closer. It’s still a fine song, especially the bridge and chorus. It will mean a lot to a number of his followers. And HIS followers! 

‘Never Alone’ sees the first of back to back Hoekstra. It has a more menacing riff, and puts the album back on track. ‘When Love Is Hated’ is the better of the two, a great chorus, and solo command. It is simply structured and very, very effective. ‘Ricochet’ rounds of the album well. A punchy chorus that is instantly repeatable, that just bounces along.  All album formats have two bonus tracks, one you have probably heard already, ‘Son Of Man’ feat. The Rÿches Todd La Torre. A man so Geoff Tate like even Geoffs wife can’t tell the difference (sound, not looks!). It jumps out of the blocks like a stabbed rat. A duet/sing-off that brings together two of metals finest for a thoroughly enjoyable romp and a hell of a note at the end. I can see what they left ‘SOM” until the end!!! Fab.


The other is ‘With You Till The End’ and features Firstbourne’s Ian Raposa on vocals, who can stand toe-to-toe with Michael, and is a powerful performance. I for one will be checking out Firstbourne after this. 


I like what Sweet has been up to the past few years. He still sounds fucking fantastic, he still poops out riffs and lyrics like there’s no tomorrow, and is as heavy as he has ever been. That in itself is a great place to find him. I just wish someone would put up the money to get him and or Stryper over to the UK , as a visit is long overdue.

7.77 out of 10! We'll round it up to 8!

Review by Paul Chesworth

Tracklisting

Better Part of Me (Feat. Jeff Loomis of Arch Enemy)
Lay It Down (Feat. Marzi Montazeri)
Forget, Forgive (Feat. Howie Simon)
Now Or Never (Feat. Gus G)
Ten (Feat. Rich Ward of Fozzy)
Shine (Feat. Ethan Brosh)
Let It Be Love
Never Alone (Feat. Joel Hoekstra of Whitesnake)
When Love Is Hated (Feat Joel Hoekstra)
Ricochet (Feat. Tracii Guns of LA Guns)

Bonus Tracks
With You Till The End (Feat. Mike Kerr and Ian Raposa of Firstbourne)
Son Of Man (Feat. Todd La Torre of Queensrÿche and Andy James)


Motor City Rock band "The Lows" Video Release 27th Sept

The Lows “Love Xtinction” Video
Los Angeles, CA. - Hailing from the Motor City, the original super sonic groove rockers,  The Lows, are single handedly bringing back the classic Detroit Rock & Roll sound to the limelight with a new video on September 27, 2019 for their highly acclaimed track, ‘Love Xtinction’.

Angelo Coppola (Founder/Lead Vocals/Guitar), describes The Lows first official music video, “we set up in the round at legendary Pearl Sound Studios (Asking Alexandria, Eminem, Filter) and did most of the shooting from inside our circle in order to literally give the viewer an insider's close-up look at the band”.

The video also captures the human elements of the band during the recording process, as we see Angelo, Nick Behnan & Brandon McNall (guitars), Wolf (bass), Duane Hewins (drums) interact with each other, as well as their Grammy Award winning Producer/Engineer Chuck Alkazian (Pop Evil, Soundgarden, Tantric) and owner of Pearl Sound Studios. Coppola also says, "we wanted to keep the video fun and lighthearted as the song is sort of a tongue-in-cheek comparison of how love is becoming like an endangered species".

www.thelowsmusic.com                                                                   www.unleashedmusic.com           

Host Date release 28th Sept 
Band - The Lows
From - Detroit 
Track -Love Xtinction
Album  - The Love Sessions
 produced by grammy award winning producer/engineer"CHUCK ALKAZIAN"

Thursday, 26 September 2019

The Spectre Beneath - 'The Downfall Of Judith King' Album Review

The Spectre Beneath – The Downfall Of Judith King

The Spectre Beneath consists of L Lockser (Vocals), Pete ‘Paz’ Worrall (Guitar/Bass/Piano), and Consta Taylor (drums – Bleak Exist with Paz). All songs were written by ‘Paz’ except one, and all were produced by said ‘Paz’. I have no other supporting PR bumfery that usually accompanies an album release.

However I do know Pete Worrall, not that well, but enough to know he is a talented writer (check out his novels), an extremely good guitarist (other bands/projects include Bleak Exist and also Plague And The Decay), and lover of greyhounds! Also he accompanies another friend of mine, ‘Hedgy’ on the ‘Pictures, Noise and Words’ YouTube channel (Pete’s the one on the left).

I was asked by Pete if I’d review this, which is a bit weird, because if you could compile a Venn diagram of mine and Pete’s musical tastes, about 4 bands would cross over! Generally, we are miles apart, possibly even planets apart. He is a braver man than me.

So, what of ‘The Downfall Of Judith King’? With a title like that, you know its a concept album of some description. I’m crap at explaining albums, so we’ll get straight to the melody….

What happens if you combine the musical melody of a singer like Den Adel, progressive metalness of Devin Townsend, Symphony X, and the riffage of Biomechanical? Well the answer wholeheartedly is ‘There Are Cameras In the Dolls’. The guitar playing is brutal (in a good way), so much so, I had to take the volume down just to concentrate and listen to what my ears were taking in. The riffs are fast and frenetic, and when combined with Taylor’s drumming its multiplies the rhythmic assault. I think the guy has 4 legs based on the bass drum beats coming through. The contrast of L Lockers vocals cuts through the guitar and drums like a knife through butter. It makes for one hell of an opening track.


‘Teach Yourself Guitar (Step 2)’ follows on in the same path. If you’ve got a good formula why rewrite the rule book. Bonus for me? No grunting, well not yet anyway. ‘As The Crows Peck At Your Bones’ ramps up the quality a notch. At this point I’m really liking the vocals of L Lockser, and the rest isn’t too shabby either. The first chance to draw breath comes with the title track, ‘The Downfall Of Judith King’ and acoustic opening, before a more ‘traditional’ rock song ensues. I’ve enjoyed the pace of the album so far, but this is a song that defines The Spectre Beneath for me, and has a very ‘Heaven and Hell’ Black Sabbath bass line running through it for the bridge sections. Six minutes in I half expect Lockser to wail ‘Sing me a song, youre a singer...’. Its by far and wide my favourite song on the album. Mainly because it falls into the Venn diagram section I mentioned earlier. I love this song. All Pete needs to do now, is grow that handlebar moustache!!

‘Mrs Lovett’s Pies’ is another assault on the senses. I don’t know how many BPM we are up to, but lets settle for ‘its lots’. The guitar playing isn’t overpowering in any way, its riffs just come at you very thick and very, very fast. ‘Fragmented’ goes back to the less frenetic pace, and for me its where this album shines. The solo is blisteringly good. The first third of ‘The Plotting Of Judith King’ reminds me of a great rock/prog band called Tilt, in this instance a song called ‘Long Gone’ and in my books, this is high praise indeed. Info the final stretch we get the 'The Abduction and The Questioning Of Olivia Soames’ (2 songs). They introduce a dramatic effect to proceedings, culminating in the powerhouse ‘Questioning Of...’ where ‘Paz’ and the guys throw the proverbial sink at you. If Arjen Lucassen, Michael Romeo and Charlotte Wessels had a threesome, then ‘The Questioning Of Olivia Soames’ is the outcome of such a convergence.



For a bloke whose musical tastes range from the likes of Dokken, to Journey and Alter Bridge, ‘The Downfall Of Judith King’ has been a walk out of my usual comfort zone. Its definitely an album of two sides, the first half is fast, heavy and has more notes than you could care to count. Then there’s the lighter side of the second half, still heavy, but not as frenetic, and its these songs for me where the album resonates the most. There are some bloody good songs on here, in particularly the title track, ‘Fragmented and the latter section. Its a mighty impressive debut and I really look forward to what these guys do next.

Play this album loud, extremely loud. Theres just no other way to.

A very solid 8/10

Review by Paul Chesworth

The Spectre Beneath
Pete ‘Paz’ Worrall – Guitars / Bass / Piano
L Lockser – Vocals

Luke C.M. - guitar solos on ‘Teach Yourself Guitar (Step 2)’ / ‘As The Crows Peck At Your Bones’ / Mrs Lovetts Pies

Produced by Pete Worrall
Mixed and mastered by Joho Kilponen, Kilproduction Audio

Tracklisting -
There Are Cameras In The Dolls
Teach Yourself Guitar – Step 2
As The Crows Peck At Your Bones
The Downfall Of Judith King
Mrs Lovetts Pies
Fragmented
The Birth Of Judith King
The Plotting Of Judith King
The Abduction Of Olivia Soames
The Questioning Of Olivia Soames

Released Friday 27th









Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Sam Millar - 'Holy Sass' EP Review


Sam Millar – Holy Sass

Every now and then you see a band that chimes with you and for an inexplicable reason you just go “Wow”. Bigfoot were that band for me. They had this long haired guitarist with a smiling, cheeky, “I’m bloody good btw” attitude. That’ll be the bold Sam Millar.

I saw them supporting Jeff Scott Soto in Newcastle where I personally thought they were better than the main act. I also treated my wife to a gig in Edinburgh when the lads were supporting Tyketto. I loved the short set, my wife discovered that premium seats at the front side of the stage meant she was under the speakers. She’s not spoken to me since as she’s now partially deaf. She wasn’t a fan however I was.

I then saw the lads at Rockingham where they were awesome and the Welsh mafia agreed with me to the extent that 4 of us were decked out in the green and white Bigfoot Union Jack tour shirts. I think fan-boy is a harsh but fair comment as I collected t-shirts and signed EPs. I also had the pleasure to chat to the lads and so I was gutted when they undertook a farewell tour that, to be honest only Black Sabbath and Kiss have done for longer. The upside of this was Sam Millar (him of the cheeky smile, never say no to a beer and general happy demeanour) announced on Facebook that he was recording his own stuff. I’d seen his YouTube videos (videos? FFS how old do I sound?!) and was committed to a signed copy of the EP.

'Holy Sass' – nae idea what it means but I knew the word on the street was it wasn’t a Bigfoot style sound. This worried me not a jot and into the car CD it went. To be honest it hasn’t been off. It is 5 tracks of pure soft/melodic rock/pop. Delete as appropriate.

'Eyes' kicks things off with a good old fashioned 70’s guitar riff and then I discovered Mr Millar can bloody sing. Not a booming voice but one that totally compliments the sound of the song superbly. It’s foot tappingly good with echoing clapping and nicely layered vocals. There’s also the lyrics, not twee but heartfelt: “So much for walking away, so much for making it history, get up and get up and go if you don’t like what you see”. I think there may be a bit of hangover from a previous relationship there (band or girlfriend I won’t presume to know but you make your own minds up)

'Cyber Girl' – FFS I thought the start was gonna be Mud “Lonely this Christmas” followed by The Darkness and their bloody Christmas song.  However, I was wrong! It grows and grows into a very soft but haunting song. It becomes a superb melodic piece and the Sam solo is stunning. OK it’s still a Christmas style song but it’s more addictive than Marmite. I love it. “Cyber girl meet me in the real world”, a sad refection on youngsters nowadays, what happened to bumping into your wife in a pub? Oh that’ll be just me then.

'Let Me Yet' – the first song I’d heard as sneak preview, the guitar hook and general happy upbeat sound is wonderful. The chorus is superb and it leaves a smile on your face. Again the lyrics are quality but the guitar again is just so good. I think this boy may actually be able to play…….

'Lost in Translation' - nice acoustic start with “that” guitar sound kicking in. A bona fide melodic rock piece that just grows to highlight that Sam is a proper guitarist. It has the orchestral bit at the end which I think was wasted a bit, another minute of that with the guitar and we’d have a perfect song.

'Strangers' - I always thought I’d heard the perfect melodic rock songs and this beauty bursts into life. It’s one of the most stunning piece of catchy guitar based joy you can imagine. My wife sat in the car stunned and said “no way was he in that noisy band, it’s brilliant.” It’s stunningly good, the chorus is an ear worm, it’s one of the most uplifting tracks I’ve heard…..in days

So 'Holy Sass' is just a piece of pure fun, enjoyment and choruses that are just magnificent and if you don’t listen to this and smile you must be dead from the neck up and nothing working downstairs.

I wanted to like it because I’ve met Sam and he is a genuine nice guy but it blew me away how good it was and rumours there may a follow-up coming makes me very happy.

Its the best EP I’ve heard in a long time.

9 out of 10 easy. Loved it.

Review by Lawrie Willcox

Track Listing:

1. Eyes
2. Cyber Girl
3. Let Me Yet
4. Lost In Translation
5. Strangers

Artist:
Sam Millar……and probably a few mates.




Whiskey Myers - 'Whiskey Myers' Album Review

Whiskey Myers - S/T

Whiskey Myers are about to release their fifth studio album, their self- produced, self-titled and set for release Friday 27th Sept.

“This was the first album be have produced on our own and its 100% authentically us, which is why we decided to self-title it ‘Whiskey Myers;” says lead guitarist John Jeffers. “We’ve been fortunate in our careers to work with some incredible producers, but self-producing gave us the freedom to try out every crazy idea in the studio, which got us to this place where we are completely satisfied with the end result and more excited than ever to get this new music out to our fans”.

My path first crossed theirs as a +1 when I went to see them support The Cadillac Three a few years back, and I took an immediate interest in their work. Their last album ‘Mud’ was a defining moment for them as far as I am concerned, and thankfully I am pleased to say that this upward trajectory continues with the “S/T” album. They have previously had three albums in the Country Chart in the US, but, to me, they have Southern Rock coursing through their veins and are THE band to take up the reins from Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Get your stomping boots out for opener “Die Rockin’” as its part preachin’ and totally bitchin’! I particularly like WM’s use of female backing vocals as it just elevates the song to a different level. “Mona Lisa” is a more melodic tune that is instantly likeable, and Jeffers' lide guitar shines. “Rolling Stone” does drop its anchor deep in Country territory, and highlights the fact they are equally happy with a more commercial sound and will surely be lapped up by CMTs fanbase. “Bitch” is a more up-tempo rocker, and of course there's a song about “Gasoline” which reminds me of bar-bands, sawdust and chicken wire, with a cracking 'wah-wah' geetar solo, and some fine wailing from Cody Cannon.

“Bury My Bones” is a southern as a possum eating a sweet potato pie. A slow number that shows their versatility and can mix it all up with the simplest of ease. “Glitter Ain’t Gold” has a pulsating backbone that will get your body moving in time with the beat, with Cannon wailing ‘I was raised by the wolves in the woods, not the streets’. It's a  curious line, and one I’d like to know its meaning of. “Houston Country Sky” is one song I can clearly visualise at a country fair, and the lap steel guitar transports you right in the middle of the action. “Little More Money” and “California To Caroline” have a lilting, haunting guitar sound, and the minimal use of Hammond organ combined with lap steel guitar on Caroline sucks you in, wanting more and is just delightful. “Kentucky Gold” is a live kick-ass anthem if ever I heard one. A treasure trove of a song.

“Running” is the first song that hasn’t taken me on a musical journey. Its pleasant enough, but everything before is soooo much better. It picks up considerably towards the back end though, and makes up for its plodding majority. “Hammer” is all harmonica and pounding rhythm, and gets them back on track. Full credit to the harmonies, and its gospel/blues style backing vocals. Simply marvellous.

I've made the comparison to Lynyrd Skynyrd at the top of this review, and its their final song “Bad Weather” that is the contender to be Whiskey Myers’s ‘Freebird’, both in stature and length! Cannon projects emotion in his vocals, and I see many a hardened biker wiping a tear as they sup their beer. The second half of the song sees the band take over and it’s all about the jam. The song fades out at its peak, but you can imagine and feel that it’s only just beginning. A nailed down 100% cert for the live shows. Every note is being wrung out. It’s a belting way to finish off the album.

If you’ve been keeping count, it is fourteen songs of pure quality, that just slip by in an instant. Very few bands utilise female backing singers, but Whiskey Myers, as did Skynyrd, use these harmonies that elevate the songs to a different level. More bands should do it, and when done well, there’s nowt better.

In going it alone, Whiskey Myers could have gone off the rails, but its been a sterling decision to self-produce. I didn’t think they could top ‘Mud’, but how wrong I was. The album cover is minimalistic, and the songs are anything but.

TC3 may get the plaudits from the faithful, but Whiskey Myers are the real deal.

Score 8.5/10

Review by Paul Chesworth

Tracklisting -

Die Rockin’
Mona Lisa
Rolling Stone
Bitch
Gasoline
Bury My Bones
Glitter Ain’t Gold
Houston Country Sky
Little More Money
California To Caroline
Kentucky Gold
Running
Hammer
Bad Weather

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

The Defiants ' Zokusho' Album Review

The Defiants - ‘Zokusho’

THE DEFIANTS is a band put together by Paul Laine, Bruno Ravel, and Rob Marcello. Fans in the know will immediately recognize them, as all have ties to Danger Danger.

Best known for being the D2 vocalist on four studio albums over the course of 12 years, Paul Laine came back to work with his former bandmates Bruno Ravel and Rob Marcello, who are the other two pillars of The DEFIANTS, for the band’s self-titled debut album in 2015. The guys reunited at the suggestion of Frontiers’ President, Serafino Perugino, who really wanted these current and former Danger Danger members to offer fans of that band some new music. The resulting album was pleasing not only to the D2 fans, but also to ALL the fans out there who are into the classic sound of the era from which D2 emerged.

The Defiants debut album was greeted with a great acclaim as a glorious return to the “in your face” melodic hard rock that enraptured millions of fans back in the ‘80s and ‘90s and is currently enjoying a renaissance here in the 21st century, so a follow-up album was a no-brainer. The brand new album, “Zokusho”, a Japanese word meaning “the sequel” or “the next chapter”, is now set for release this fall.

This time, things for D2 fans get even more exciting as D2 drummer Steve West is a special guest on drums. The Defiants could very well be one Perugino’s best ideas yet. Despite 12 years and 4 albums fronting Danger Danger, 90% of fans would likely go for the Ted Poley fronted version over this Paul Laine period. Paul Laine fronted the band during the AOR wilderness years (’93-’04) unfortunately. Even 80s household names struggled in the advent of flannel, two chords and depressing lyrics (aka Grunge)! Paul proved on the debut that he is definitely the man for this job.

So do the guys shake off the sophomore second album syndrome? More of that later. ‘Love Is The Killer’ immediately sets its stall as a companion piece for the debut. Melodic rock in a modern being. Big (hair), big hook, bigger chorus and some stellar soloing from Marcello. ‘Standing On The Edge’ is a powerful song with TNT in its veins, and some vocal histrionics from Laine. ‘Hollywood In Headlights’ and ‘Fallin’ For You’ are both classic D2 songs by any other name. Both are bona fide Summer driving song to be played at max volume. By now you (the listener) can relax. The boys have got your back. You know its gonna be good from here on in.  ‘Hold On Tonite’ is the first traditional ballad and and takes the pace down slightly, but it’s still good listening, and a definite grower.

‘Allnighter’ is back to a rough and ready approach, with its harder edged guitar riff and a verst that’s straight out of Nickleback’s ‘Burn It To The Ground’ playbook. ‘U X’D My Heart’ is a vehicle to prove how good a singer Paul Laine is. This song is all about him. As he nearly his notes that only dogs can hear.  It has a great outdo from Marcello. ‘It Goes Fast’ just skips along at an enjoyable pace that goes so quick you want to savour it all again. As we get to ’Stay’ Im beginning to wonder how many of these songs are worthy of being singles. It’s hard to select any losers in the pack. ‘Alive’ has a big scoop of U2 in it and I hate myself for knowing this! So let’s leave it at that. Im going to scrub myself in bleach….

…I'm back now for the final song, the Paul Laine mantra ‘Drink Up’. I’ve only seen him once, and he drank, like, a lot! It's a proper old school rocker that invites you to play it loud and proud and it makes no apology for what it is.

Heres the checklist….
Melodic. Catchy. Harmonies a plenty. Great guitar work. Wonderful songwriting. Four guys at the absolute top of their game. Cracking production. ‘Zokusho’ has the lot.

SAS? (Sophomore Album Syndrome?) No fucking chance. Its bloody fabulous!

Score 9/10

Review by Paul Chesworth

The Defiants
Paul Laine - Vocals
Bruno Ravel - Bass
Rob Marcello - Guitars
Steve West - Drums

Tracklist:
1.Love Is The Killer
2.Standing On The Edge
3.Hollywood In Headlights
4.Fallin’ For You
5.Hold On Tonite
6.Allnighter
7.U X’d My Heart
8.It Goes Fast
9.Stay
10.Alive
11.Drink Up!

Released 13th September