With less than a week to go until Download 2010, June once again looks like being the month for rock and metal fans – tomorrow’s raft of new releases simply proving the point.

We review and rate the latest sounds from Die So Fluid (pictured), Motley Crue’s Vince Neil, pop rock crossover act Fun and post-hardcore legends Far.

There’s live metal from Crystal Viper, German prog from Vanden Plas and more Welsh madness from newbies Colours Of One. But of all of that’s not enough to float your boat then how about Finnish punk rock from Jaakko & Jay or Primal Fear live across the USA? And then there’s the scary Circle Of Dead Children… Spoilt for choice – we knew you would be.
Vince Neil – Tattoos & Tequila (Frontiers Records)

If you liked Motley Crue’s Saints Of Los Angeles then you’ll love this. And if you thought the Crue’s last record sucked then this remarkably cool effort should, at the very least, restore your faith in the band’s colourful frontman.

Far, far batter than the patchy SOLA this is sleaze metal (albeit underpinned by covers) as it was always meant to be. Simple, sassy and rarely classy. From the dumbed down relationship shocker of Ac/Dc, to the voicebox fuelled mayhem of Nobody’s Fault and the Crue-esque ballad Another Bad Day (written by Nikki Sixx a decade ago and one of the two previously unreleased tracks)┬áthis is exactly what you’d expect from a fixture on the Sunset Strip. But it’s brilliant.

Fair play to Vince Neil. He doesn’t need to try too hard to sell records to his legions of die-hard fans but this is aimed at proving the doubters wrong. And it does that in some style.

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Neil Before The Sleaze Master

Fun – Aim & Ignite (Hassle Records)

If you’ve somehow missed one of the feelgood minor hits of the summer in the shape of Fun’s All The Pretty Girls just where on earth have you been? It’s pop rock par excellence and should, if there is any justice in this world, propel this canny band to the very top of their profession.

Think Queen mixed with Mika, Paul Simon fused with any pop punkster you could care to mention and the Beach Boys covered by Wheatus and you get the idea. Or maybe you don’t!

Listening to this again and again had us questioning the album’s position on a rock and metal site but there’s enough alt-rock humour and ass-kicking guitar to give it the nod. And a track poking fun at nu-metal in the shape of At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be) has to be worth a few bob of your hard-earned cash. Weird and wonderful stuff.

rushonrock rated: 8/10

Jaakko & Jay – War Is Noise (Xtra Mile Recordings)

There’s a place for everything within the wide world of rock and the proactive Xtra Mile have always known it. Here they bring us folk rock with a punky edge from Finland – and it works.

Jaakko & Jay are made for sweaty tents in muddy fields at the sharp end of small festivals. But then that’s where label mate Frank Turner was just a few years ago and this summer he opens up for Green Day at Wembley Stadium.

Mixing smile-on-your face pop rock with sharp cynicism in the finest traditions of late 70s punk, there’s a sense of unbridled enthusiasm about Jaakko & Jay’s music and we love the faux simplicity and banjo-vibe of No Need To Think.

rushonrock rated: 7/10 Jaak Of All Trades

Crystal Viper – Defenders Of The Magic Circle: Live In Germany (AFM)

Delivering mightily satisfying Maiden/Helloween-inspired metal-by-numbers there’s no mystery surrounding Crystal Viper’s appeal as a hot live band. They play with power, precision, energy and enthusiasm and there’s no obvious weakness to speak of.

But, and it’s a familiar but, this is almost too clean for comfort. The meaty Metal Nation pounds along at a pleasing pace and next up there’s the riff-tastic – almost Dragonforce-esque – drive of Legions Of Truth (wait for the Justin Hawins moment!). Both songs rattle along but neither suggest there’s any room for true musical expression and for a live record the production is just too good!

It’s hardly a criticism but apart from the occasional crowd appreciation and mid-set banter you’d be hard pushed to differentiate between DOTMC and any one of Crystal Viper’s excellent studio discs.

rushonrock rated: 6/10 Crystal Clear

Vanden Plas – The Seraphic Clockwork (Frontiers Records)

Say what you like about Vanden Plas but these boys don’t do things by halves. Opener Frequency sets out their stall, packing more time changes, key changes, chord progressions and aural twists into six minutes of music than Dream Theater would manage in double the time.

Vocalist Andy Kuntz is clearly a man on a mission to write his name in prog rock folkore such is his progress over the last decade. Having found a joyously melodic tone to suit his band’s more expansive moments and realised there’s merit in making out he can be relaxed his is a star on the rise.

Check out Scar Of An Angel to fully appreciate this band at their monumental best – it’s proof that the prog metal big guns of America have been warned.

rushonrock rated: Van-Tastic

Far – At Night We Live (Xtra Mile Recordings)

It’s incredible to think that it was 12 years ago that Far released their previous studio album but just like a fine wine these boys have matured into something even more magnificent than they were before.

Opening up with the bombastic Deafening, only to lower the volume with the melodic If You Cared Enough fits this band to a tee – they’re all about stretching the listener and keeping the flow fresh. It works and even on the James-esque indie-lite pop of When I Could See there’s a certain sense of emotion and realism underpinning an otherwise uneventful tune.

The highs far outnumber the lows and Jonah Matranga’s incredible voice has never sounded better. If you’re lucky enough to catch him playing some tiny clubs on his solo tour this week it’s an experience you’ll never forget. Let’s hope Far follow soon.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Far Out

Circle Of Dead Children – Psalms Of The Grand Destroyer (Candlelight Records)

Another disturbing slice of America’s finest death metal with some of the most stomach churning growls we’ve heard in a while. Bury The Ill Flock boasts some fantastic percussion but an urgent riff is lost in a typically vocal-heavy mix.

That 88-second blast is one of CODC’s most accessible tunes and it’s not exactly radio-friendly. But if that’s too long then all 38 seconds of Jaracaca sound like someone being violently ill to a backdrop of uncontrolled garage rock.

This is one genre of metal you really must love to truly appreciate its finer points and right now we’re still struggling to come to terms with some of the nastiest sounds we’ve ever heard. Yikes.

rushonrock rated: 4/10 The Full Circle

Die So Fluid – The World Is Too Big For One Lifetime (DR2 Records)

Just off the back of a 15-date headline tour of the UK, there’s no doubt Die So Fluid are still a big live draw a decade after rising from the ashes of Feline and Ultraviolet. Frontwoman Grog is a sight to behold but there’s always been a niggling doubt that this is one band which will never translate its on-stage verve to the studio.

With third album The World Is Too Big For One Lifetime, DSF they seek to address that criticism with a brisk production and a determination to bring some of UK metal’s most thrilling rhythms to the fore. Grog’s vocals seem smoother, the delivery is less hurried and suddenly this band seems capable of taking a giant stride forward.

Opener Figurine is a fantastic tune to kick off a very promising record but this is not a perfect album – the title track tries to pack too much into four pretty messy minutes and there are other patchy moments. But the upbeat Raven (showing off the true talent of DSF’s rhythm section) and the chugging If Wishes Were Bullets are reminiscent of L7 in their (all too brief) glory days.

rushonrock rated: 6/10 Die Another Day

Colours Of One – Bad News Makes Big Noise (Rogues Gallery Records)

This seven track-mini album offers further evidence of an explosion of raw talent coming out of Wales right now. Impressive tunes, well packaged (we love the artwork) and just the right length to offer hope for the future and satisfy any current curiosity.

There’s undoubtedly a desire to sound like any number of arena-size US acts but it never did fellow countrymen Bullet For My Valentine any harm and tunes like the awesome Linkin Park meets Thunder (yes, really) Burning Ants are bursting with ambitious intent.

It may be that vocalist Mike Simmonds needs to decide whether he wants to follow the blues rock path or tread a route mapped out by grunge’s big guns because his pipes could easily do both genres justice. On the bombastic Spin Colours Of One really do sound like a small band ready to make it big – we hope they do.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 True Colours

Primal Fear – Live In The USA (Frontiers Records)

Listening to this and it’s no surprise that ex-Gamma Ray frontman Ralf Scheepers came within a whisker of pipping Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens to the post in the race to succeed Rob Halford in Judas Priest all those years ago. He has a voice made for metal and this 14-track live showcase is a joy from start to finish.

Far more organic in its feel than the live record served up by fellow Germans Crystal Viper (see above) this isn’t an exercise in delivering studio standards note perfect in front of well-briefed die-hards. There are some rough edges but there’s a raw appeal to Live In The USA which would appeal to fans of early Queensryche, Dio as well as Priest.

Battalions Of Hate is a bruising example of this full-on band at their devilish best but played live the iconic Metal Is Forever takes some beating. This is a live record which makes you want to see Primal Fear in action – and that must be a good thing.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Primal Instinct