A slew of new releases maintain the impression that October will prove to be one of the maddest months for rock with tomorrow’s hot picks covering every genre.
We’ve got the post-grunge progressive growl of Aussie giants Karnivool, the hair-metal-by-numbers brilliance of Mr Big and Winger plus some seriously feral sounds from old stagers Senser (pictured).
Throw in the debut album from indie rock heroes Flood Of Red and there’s plenty of options if your money’s burning a great big hole in that rock pocket come Monday morning.
Winger – Karma (Frontiers Records)
This was never going to be anything less than a melodic rock triumph with the peerless Kip Winger pulling the (bass) strings and long-time Whitesnake axe slinger Reb Beach back in the Winger fold. Great expectations can often pre-empt a feeling of bitter disappointment but in this case the US hair metal heavyweights truly deliver.
Tracks like the superlative Supernova and the killer ballad After All These Years could have come straight off any classic album circa 1990 but that’s a good thing. It’s high time bands like Winger put a smile back on the faces of late 30s/early 40s rock fans needing to lose themselves in nostalgia and ready to buy back into an era of excess all areas.
This is no straight repeat of the band’s glory days but it’s damn close. Kip found a formula back then and he’s sticking to it now – and why not? If you’ve got it, flaunt it. And Winger do that all over again.
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Kip It Real
Karnivool – Sound Awake (Columbia)
It used to be that Australians recognised a really cool rock band – whether you go back to Bon Scott-era AC/DC or pick on modern day heroes Wolfmother and Airbourne. But have they finally lost any sense of perspective Down Under?
Karnivool’s Sound Awake was certified a Gold record in their home country after just three weeks but there’s little that glitters here. In fact this is one over-hyped, flat tinny of a record from a band stuck somewhere between grunge and prog rock.
Lead single Set Fire To The Hive proved to be nothing more than a false dawn for anyone hoping this was going to be another Aussie winner. It’s a rare moment of musical clarity on an album too cluttered and clunky to make a lasting impression. This is a band and a record which should have made the blood pump and the adrenaline kick – instead it’s like listening to a bunch of mediocre kids with ideas above their station. Which may well be what Karnivool are.
rushonrock rated: 4/10 Vool’s Gold
Senser – How To Do Battle (Imprint Music)
They may not be singing from the same rocking hymn sheet but where Karnivool are as dull as dishwater, veteran bass rockers Senser are simply fizzing on this flood of creativity. For those of you obssessed with Pendulum and Innerpartysystem check out How To Do Battle and realise just what force can be added to a catchy dance beat given a suitably fierce dose of metal.
2 3 Clear is classic Senser and So Refined is already imbedded in the consciousness as one of the catchiest little ditties we’ve heard all year. Nothing really touches lead single Resistance Now for sheer aural ferocity but then it doesn’t need to. This is an album where the text book has been shredded, the pattern reworked and the formula stripped back to its raw basics.
Senser should be one of the biggest bands on the planet with quality like this tumbling forth from their frankly frightening minds. A band made for festivals, made for fun and made for 2009. Awesome.
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Makes Good Senser
Flood Of Red – Leaving Everything Behind (Dark City)
Tinny guitars. That’s the overriding memory of Flood Of Red’s hotly anticipated debut after the first listen. And the second. And the th… OK, let’s be honest – too much tin is no good for anyone and we never made it to the third listen. Whether producer Brian McTernan advocated a frankly annoying six string backdrop to an otherwsie encouraging offering – or whether guitarists Sean McGroarty and Calum Doris just aren’t very good – is just one unanswered question vexing the rushonrock staff right now.
There were moments, very few of them, where we felt this was about to kick into some kind of edgy indie rock groove but then those grinding guitars reared their ugly heads. There were even moments, even fewer of them, where we thought we’d unearthed a post-screamo metal band with something serious to say. But then those awful guitars killed the optimistic mood.
The Heartless And Loving is a terrific tune and Paper Lungs is pretty clever. But those two tracks apart this is a record mired in inexplicable mediocrity. Inexplicable because, in their finer moments, these guys would appear to have the rock world at their feet.
rushonrock rated: 5/10 Flood Of Tears
Mr Big – Back To Budokan (Frontiers Records)
Without a new Mr Big studio album to speak of what’s the next best thing? This live greatest hits package which at least hints that the newly rerformed hair metal giants have the potential to become meaningful again.
Records like this smack of acts looking to pat themselves on the back after getting back together to prove to themselves, more so than their legions of fans, that they can still hack it in the world of rock. Mr Big always could and this double CD of melodic rock treasures suggests they still can. But the bigger test is still to come – can they produce a new album of original material capable of challenging label mates Extreme, Danger Danger, Great White and Winger?
All will become clear if and when the mew Mr Big record sees the light of day. For now live versions of Daddy Brother Lover Little Boy, Just Take My Heart and To Be With You must fill the gap. They’re good but then we’ve heard it all before. And against the backdrop of a typically crazed Japanese crowd they don’t always do justice to an undeniably classy act.
rushonrock rated: 6/10 Big In Japan