shinedown-new2This week sees some true heavyweight new releases jostle for favour with the rock buying public – none more so than the second album from rushonrock faves The Answer.

But you’ll have to wait until Monday for the full lowdown on Everyday Demons as we check out the vinyl version in all its gatefold glory.

In the meantime veteran craftsmen Rush and Thin Lizzy go head to head with new boys (to the UK, anyway) Shinedown and their mix of radio-friendly anthems and heavier metal classics.

It’s been a relatively slow start to 2009 but this week is when things really hot up. And Rock Solid is firing on all cylinders…

shinedown-sound-albumShinedown – The Sound Of Madness (Atlantic Records)

Now rushonrock readers should know all about this Floridian quartet as we’ve been quite keen on their modern rock sound for some time now. Once this little gem hits stores across the UK tomorrow the rest of the nation will surely begin to agree with our verdict that the Jacksonville crew deserve every bit as much success as the likes of mega-selling Nickelback – because  they’re so much better.

This may be Shinedown’s UK debut but these guys are seasoned pros who’ve simply been biding their time before tackling the fickle European market. And it shows. Every track on The Sound Of Madness bristles with the confidence borne out of millions of US sales and a series of smash hit singles. In fact don’t think of this as a debut at all – what it is is the glorious mainfestation of more than seven years’ toil and two previous big sellers back home.

Already certified gold in their home country, The Sound Of Madness is made for classic rock radio and arena stages. Lead single Devour was a huge smash hit in the US and the album’s title track is making waves over here right now. The Crow And The Butterfly is both brave and beautiful in equal measure and Breaking Inside could easily become another anthemic single.

Brent Smith’s vocals won’t be to everyone’s taste but if you’re a fan of heavy rock played with passion there’s little to dislike about Shinedown. And it takes balls to release your first UK record on the same day as Rush,Thin Lizzy and The Answer…

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Shine On!

rush-retro3Rush – Retrospective III (Atlantic Records)

What is it about Atlantic Records? They wait for months between great rock releases and then unleash two on the same day! But if Shinedown is the sound of slickly produced US radio rock then Rush remain the chief protagonists of pure-unadulterated prog heaven.

It’s unlikely all of the band’s legion of fans will buy the latest (and most likely last) instalment in the Retrospective series because only three of the 14 tracks offer anything we haven’t heard before. For those keen to update their collection it is, ofcourse, a must but for those Rush afficionadoes feeling the credit crumch right now it’s probably a CD you can do without.

The remixes of One Little Victory and Earthshine, coupled with a raucous live version of Ghost Of A Chance, are the songs designed to tantalise the fan with everything. But then if you are that man (or woman) and you really must boast everything this brilliant band has ever done then go for the DVD bundle. As well as the pertinent clips there are four live tracks – including a terrific blast of Tom Sawyer – and an interview.

There are some who claim Rush had lost their mojo until the emergence of 2002’s Vapor Trails and the near-perfect Snakes & Arrows but this compilation says different. Whether rolling with it on Roll The Bones (1991) or reminiscing about a long-lost foodstore on Presto (1989) there is ample evidence that Rush have never been anything less than consistent.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Feel The Rush

thin-lizzy-stillThin Lizzy – Still Dangerous (Thin Lizzy Productions)

Why fix what ain’t broke? That has to be the question as modern-day Lizzy look to trump the seminal Live & Dangerous with this even earlier and, supposedly, even edgier snapshot of one of the best live bands in the world.

Apparently 1978’s L&D was touched up here and there to make Phil and co. sound even slicker on stage and this set, from the previous year, serves to set the record straight. It’s stripped back but then cleaned up again. The raw sound is obviously raw thanks to today’s mastering techniques. And if this was exactly how Lizzy sounded prior to their Bad Reputation tour then they were clearly a band ahead of their time.

But hey, let’s not get bogged down in technicalities. This is still a stunning statement from a band who, at this point, were on the cusp of worldwide fame. Cocky, confident, call it what you like – Lizzy on stage were, for a time, unlike any other rock band.

This answers a few questions in the wake of the L&D overdub debate. But it raises just as many.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Still Lizzy