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On full frontal opener Relentless Revolution there’s a line in the chorus which urges all Death Angel devotees: ‘Join us or step aside’. This could be the record which persuades the masses to sign up for some old school Bay Area thrash as the reincarnation of the Californian trailblazers reaches a creative peak.
Death Angel always were the best of the new breed when, as a bunch of fearless teenagers, they followed hot on the heels of the Big Four and crafted a slew of sharp, studied and seriously good thrash metal classics. Now older and wiser (if that is possible) the band is threatening to leave the likes of Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth in their wake – Relentless Retribution even matches Death Magnetic for sheer energy and musicianship.
Competing with Metallica might not be the Angel’s primary aim but make no bones about – they are in a position to do just that. Into The Arms Of Righteous Anger is a timely reminder that there was always a melodic edge to this band’s heavy roots and this majestic tune features one of the finest guitar solos you’ll hear all year.
Then there’s Absence Of Light – pure retro Death Angel in all their furious glory. Age has not diminished the appetite of a band determined to keep doing what their peers eschewed some time ago. Give your speakers a real workout and give this record its due. SR
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Death Defying
When, as a British band from the north of England, you opt to play sprawling prog rock in favour of chart friendly indie it’s a brave decision designed to reap rewards in the long haul. And after 12 years crafting ambitious alt-rock standards and space metal classics it seems Oceansize are on the cusp of critical – and possibly even commercial – acclaim.
SPWTBFU is typical of this genre-defying five piece as they once again ask the listener to embark on an often frustrating, but ultimately fulfilling, journey into the unknown.
Oscar Acceptance Speech, checking in at close on nine minutes, is a big ask of any self-respecting music fan and there’s no doubt Oceansize often come across as self-indulgent musical nerds. But if you have half an hour, give this track three listens back-to-back and you’ll understand why the band’s cult following won’t have a word said against their heroes.
Then there’s the brisk and almost jaunty A Penny’s Weight with its radio-friendly refrain and sub-four minute limit. Oceansize are a band of glorious contrasts and baffling extremes and their latest opus sets out to prove the point. This is not for the feint-hearted but it’s fun it its own over-convoluted way. SR
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Size Matters
Like a hurricane blowing over the British rock scene, the fantastic Fury UK are a gathering storm. Mixing trad NWOBHM riffs with the best bits of 70s Purple and early Whitesnake, their very British brand of metal is made for now and 2010 could be a big year for the Manchester mob.
Following the release of A Way Of Life the band embark on a tour with US legends Y&T before a series of headline shows. With this remarkbaly accomplished record in their armoury failure is not an option.
Opener I See Red pulls together everything that is good about Chris Appleton and his cohorts as crisp vocals jostle with a pounding rhythm and made-for-metal riff to announce Fury UK’s coming of age as a serious commercial proposition. Subsequent track Fall From Grace is just as gritty and One God revels in its retro roots.
The mediocre mid-section perhaps reflects a band still finding its feet but even here there’s nothing to shame these would-be metal kings. Run Away From No-one picks up the pace again and the final three tunes hint at the huge potential Fury UK boast in spades. Never lacking confidence, this record only lacks cohesion. And that’s not a problem. SR
rushonrock rated: UK, You Rock
Corey Taylor might still be mourning the loss of Slipknot band mate Paul Gray but Stone Sour’s new record could provide the singer with the perfect tool to come to terms with his grief.
Accomplished doesn’t do justice to a ‘made-f0r-arenas’ behemoth of an album. With more twists and turns than the Des Moines suburbs, Audio Secrecy pulls together everything good about the last 30 years of metal and moulds it into one juggernaut of a release – powerful, poignant and unrelenting.
Apart from the odd nod to his day job – The Bitter End would fit onto any ‘Knot release – this is by no means a case of diluting the music which has made Taylor’s name (and fortune). The piano intro kicking off a cracking album may not be Journey but it does signal the start of a journey – a trip into the depths of a troubled mind hosting a creative genius.
Say You’ll Haunt Me is Nickelback meets Avenged Sevenfold while Dying is an acoustic-led number guaranteed to crash charts across the globe. If this is Taylor’s tilt at a commercial high he’s done a brilliant job.
Unfinished could be classic Foo Fighters before a straight-from-the-80s hair metal solo throws up a huge surprise. And that’s the secret of Audio Secrecy: there are no hard and fast rules, no set formula and no hint of bowing to pressure. Every fresh track sheds new light on a band destined to be one of the biggest of 2010.
Miracles might even find favour with the Springsteen/Gaslight Anthem crowd while Imperfect will come across as just that in the eyes of the Slipknot faithful – fusing a harmonised chorus with an acoustic hook to recreate the best of Def Leppard/Poison circa 1989. Taylor wears his heart on his sleeve and clearly doesn’t fear the consequences.
That’s because the major consequences of Audio Secrecy will be Stone Sour’s widespread acceptance and a new respect for Taylor as one of the most talented artists of his generation. File under: triumphant return. SR
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Stone Me!
Ethno metal, anyone? If the term might seem confusing and contrived then opener A New Arrival certainly contains enough earthly, historical and traditional flavours to conjure up images of Middle Eastern camp fires and South American forest settlements.
The pipes which form the intro to Call Of Yesteryear give way to more Eastern-influenced chanting before a powerful duet surges into second, third and fourth gear. At this stage you realise After The Storm is both ambitious and beguiling – neither heavy metal nor world music but pitched somewhere in between. And it works.
Whether the Ethno tag will do Atrocity any favours – it doesn’t exactly sit comfortably alongside an extreme band name and an often extreme band – it does deliver on an implied promise. There’s a deep-rooted, emotional vibe underpinning a vibrant and expansive record.
Ignore it and ignore the chance to open your mind and open your eyes. SR
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Storm Brewing
This week’s reviews: Simon Rushworth