There’s the post-Rev return of Avenged Sevenfold, the retro cool comeback from sleaze merchants Buckcherry and a slice of India’s finest from Demonic Resurrection.
Throw in the debut album from the Rick Rubin-endorsed Violent Soho plus some old school fantasy metal in the shape of Blind Guardian and late summer has never sounded so good!
If you hark back to a time when Guns N Roses were a real band, the Sunset Strip was the only destination for any rock pilgrim and a singalong chorus was a source of some pride then Buckcherry are the business.
When it seemed like the whole world was still content to wallow in a nu-metal stupor and classic rock chords were laughed out of clubs the length and breadth of America one band stuck to its guns (or should that be Guns?).
Vocalist Josh Todd and his axe-slinging buddies didn’t just ride the storm, they navigated their way to the career high that is All Night Long on the crest of a creative wave that started with 2005’s 15 and is still washing over those in the know and the newly converted.
This record is a killer. From start to finish. It’s as simple as that. The title track might have grabbed all of the pre-release attention but wait until you hear It’s A Party – this song will have rock fans jumping all day and all night long.
Todd might have popped up on smash US crime show Bones this year but he’s all about heart and soul. The decision to use an old school production job on his raspy vocals really reaps rewards as one of the sleaziest singers on the planet comes across like he means it. And then some.
Pick Liberty, Never Say Never or Dead if you want to dip into this album before committing to the full monte. But rest assured you’ll want more and more and more. The party has just started – expected it to run and run. SR
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Cherry Ripe
Losing a band member is never easy but as tributes to Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan go this is something very special indeed.
It would, of course, be easy to view Nightmare through rose-tinted glasses given the tragedy which preceded its release. But when we say this is A7X’s crowning glory it has nothing to do with misplaced sympathy and everything to do with the fact that this a remarkably accomplished and frighteningly relevant album.
The diversity alone is worth investing in this modern metal album and playing it over and over until you’re dizzy with delight. There’s the trademark punch, the mellow reflection and the confidence gleaned from a solid start to a promising career. Throughout it all M Shadows proves himself as a frontman par excellence – the wannabes have suddenly slipped way further down to pecking order.
The title track is good but what follows is often great. So Far Away soars while the Metallica-lite riff underpinning God Hates Us should rip up even the most vacuous venues when A7X take their new record on the road.
The piano-infused Fiction is Sevenfold’s November Rain moment and as for the epic closer Save Me – only time will tell whether this ambitious track defines a band on a collision course for global dominance or represents the point in time when Mr Shadows and his mates began to believe the hype and allow overblown excess to cloud their better judgement. Whatever, we love it.
With Maiden and The Sword lining up to challenge Bullet For My Valentine and A7X in the race to win the metal album of the year accolade us punters have rarely ben so spoilt. As The Rev would surely have said, enjoy the good times while you can. SR
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Nightmare Scenario
For those of you who don’t know Blind Guardian, I suggest you give them a chance. Time after time they continue to deliver their own unique take on fantasy with great force.
This may not be their best album, but there’s no doubt At The Edge Of Time is still going to force me to neglect a few albums in the coming months, in favour of it.
Weighing in at over nine minutes long, Sacred World is a daring introduction to the album featuring a dramatic orchestral start, which builds up before Andre Olbrich brings in the trademark style of his wild but fluent rhythm guitar.
Yet again Hansi Kursch has returned to his beloved Michael Moorcock themes with Tanelorn, a full throttle thrash-fest with a spine tingling chorus. Kursch has still stuck with the multi-tracking of his own vocal harmonies throughout the album, but hasn’t gone to the point of over-looping in the way he did in 2002 album A Night At The Opera. His voice is consistent throughout, still having the same crisp, raspy-ness that moved mountains for me when I was a kid.
War Of The Thrones is a beautiful song with a lovely piano introduction, but true standout is Wheel of Time. The song has a very oriental influence at the beginning and eventually progresses to demonstrate the vocal limits of Kursch with some classic Olbrich guitar work – all this while a full orchestra musters an epic whirlwind of a tune.
Out of the eight albums that preceded this one, there were always four standout ones for me. A Night At The Opera, Nightfall In Middle Earth, Somewhere Far Beyond and Imaginations From The Other Side are collectively, a tier of genius that I can’t allow At The Edge Of Time to be in.
They may not have completely blown the minds of the listener with At The Edge of Time, but with their sparkles of genius and Guardian charm it’s still sure to satisfy a lot of fans – including me. CR
rushonrock rated: Blind Faith 7/10
Ten years old and showing no sign of slackening the pace, Mumbai’s finest have been showcasing the final part of the Darkness trilogy since January but this summer’s worldwide release, and their first on Candlelight, threatens to break the band globally.
Mixing trad growls with a heavy orchestral emphasis and some breakneck riffing, there’s much to admire here. Intro Between Infinity And Oblivion lulls the listener into a false sense of melody before the full brutality of The Return To Darkness kicks in in the shape of Where Dreams And Darkness Unite.
Check out the Maiden-esque conclusion to standout track The Warriors Return but it’s the battle metal feel of follow-up A Tragedy Befallen – embracing elements of the Bay Area thrash movement and prog metal to boot – which marks out Demonic Resurrection as ones to watch in 2010.
A decade harnessing their collective aggression and achieving symphonic metal precision has seen India’s standard bearers reach an exciting new level. Join the ride and see just how far the magnificently named Sahil ‘The Demonstealer’ Makhija can take you… SR
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Light From The Darkness
You’d expect a bunch of kids from the Brisbane ‘burbs to sound pretty raw and angry and Violent Soho don’t disappoint. Infused with the kind of southern hemisphere angst that drove Mrs Mangle to stir up so much shit in Ramsey Street, it’s little wonder uber-producer Rick Rubin liked what he heard when the band’s demo dropped on his mat.
In fact it’s Gil Norton (Jimmy Eat World, The Distillers) who does the knob twiddling here and his ability to transform the Midnight Oil-esque growl of opener Here Be Dragons into something Kurt Cobain could have belted out is crucial. Without the right direction Violent Soho could have sunk without trace.
As it is they’re alive and kicking and screaming. It’s all just a bit grunge-meets-punk-meets-alt metal for our liking – formulaic is the word – but lead single Jesus Stole My Girlfriend will find favour with Green Day fans and Foo Fighters followers alike. And if that’s not a recipe for success then what is?
Closer Narrow Ways is the only song which clocks in at more than three-and-a-half minutes and the emphasis here is short but sweet. Sweet in a sickly way, if you get the gist. Singer Luke Boerdam has a voice capable of reducing grown men and hair metal fans to tears and this is a post-grunge contender to strike fear into purveyors of power chords everywhere. File under: dangerous. SR
rushonrock rated: 7/10
* This week’s reviewers: Simon Rushworth and Calum Robson.