thunder-liveThis week we look at the latest reissues from Thunder as the best blues rock band in Britain continue to say their goodbyes in style.

Plus there’s the new release from thrash heroes DevilDriver and a look at two seriously scary records from the Century Media stable as Tenet and Arkaea unveil their debut albums. Something for everyone – unless you’re a Richard Marx fan.

thunder backstreetThunder – Backstreet Symphony Deluxe Edition (EMI)

For less than a tenner this really is the rock bargain of the year as one of the most exciting debuts in history gets the remastering treatment and comes replete with 18 new tracks.

Thunder have always sounded great but in a recent interview with rushonrock, lead singer Danny Bowes admitted this record was a rushed affair. And hearing it in its revamped form suggests he’s right.

The Andy Taylor production was always a plus point but almost 20 years on from its original release even that sounds superior here. The 12 inch extended version of Dirty Love, and the seven-song Town & Country Club live set represent the best of the additional material for die-hard fans.

For the rest of you this was and still is an essential part of any self-respecting rock fan’s collection. Only now it’s even better than the first time.

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Symphony of the Damned Fine

Thunder laughingThunder – Laughing On Judgement Day Deluxe Edition (EMI)

Originally released in 1992, this follow-up to the band’s barnstorming debut was a far more confident, if less raw, affair and has divided fans ever since. With guitarist Luke Morley joining Andy Taylor for the record’s production duties it’s clearly more the sound the band always wanted and yet, significantly, very few of the original 14 tracks make it into a Thunder live set in 2009.

Low Life In High Places and the magnificent A Better Man are two tracks which more than stand the test of time but it’s the disc of extras which will interest those fans who failed to buy everything the band released at their commercial peak.

The acoustic version of Dirty Love, B-side The Damage Is Done and New York, New York: Harry’s Theme (live) are all must-haves if you don’t already have them. More than any other hat-trick of songs on this 2CD bargain, they showcase a band as diverse as they were light hearted. Cracking stuff.

rushonrock rated: 7/10 Fine Judgement

DevilDriverDevilDriver – Pray For Villains (Roadrunner)

It only seems like yesterday that The Last Kind Words announced DevilDriver as ones to watch on the thrash scene. Two years on and they’re close to grabbing their seat at the top table with this unrelenting slab of molten metal. Pray For Villains is a fantastic example of what focus can bring to a band on the brink of widespread acclaim and true greatness.

Much of the credit must go towards surprise pick as producer – former Machine Head and Soulfly guitarist Logan Mader. Somehow the accomplished axeman has brought DevilDriver’s bone crunching axe work to the fore without losing any of the force associated with Dez Fafara’s vocals or one of the best rhythm sections in the business.

Sample Fate Stepped In or Bitter Pill – two tunes at opposite ends of a thrilling 13-track opus – if you want a true taste of DevilDriver 2009-style, By then you’ll be demanding more.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Pray For More!

tenetTenet – Sovereign (Century Media)

If you think DevilDriver deliver some heavy shit then try a dose of Tenet. Two years in the making this record features members of Strapping Young Lad and Zimmers Hole but its ferocity and flow makes it feel like more than simply the soundtrack to a side project.

Superbly crafted thrash metal with some occasionally scary growling and screaming it might well lack obvious commercial appeal. But Sovereign embraces guitar solos hewn from hair metal’s golden era and chord progressions straight from the Bay Area’s big-selling peak.

The infectious Indulge Me is short and bitter sweet while the drum-heavy intro to Crown Of Thorns gives Suicide Silence a run for their money. Inventive, devisive stuff.

rushonrock rated: 7/10 Gold Sovereign

arkaeaArkaea – Years In The Darkness (Century Media)

Not quite super enough to be described as a super group, self-styled industrial metal newbies Arkaea are 50% Fear Factory and 50% Threat Signal. With that in mind they’re often heavy, at times melodic and always liable to toss a cunningly catchy chorus your way.

The constantly changing vocal styles make for addictive listening – this is one record with more twists and turns than a Curly Wurly. Opener Locust might be familiar as a track showcased on the band’s website earlier this year and it could almost be early Linkin Park on steroids. And that’s a positive thing.

But for a purely pounding taste of a band with bags of potential fast forward to track five and the Rammstein-esque rhythm of Awakening. A terrirfic tune on an album laced with quality. Arkaea – file under ‘ones to watch’.

rushonrock rated: 7/10 Arkaea Royal