We check out the latest albums by Outloud (pictured), Bai Bang, Evaline, Slam Cartel and Jasta.
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With Europe happily reinvented as 21st century blues rock troubadours the race to fill their hair metal void – and to build on that infamous pop rock legacy – is on.
Outloud’s unashamed attempt to steal a march on their rivals is a glorious throwback to The Final Countdown-era Europe and seems perfectly timed to capture the hearts and minds of retro-fuelled rock fans everywhere.
Hot on the heels of the band’s 2009 9/10 rushonrock rated self-titled release this is of equal quality – if not better. Opener We Came To Rock is pure commercial gold and the wonderful Waiting For Your Love wouldn’t sound out of place on a 1987 mix tape.
Outloud don’t try to do anything new but their fresh twist on a favourite sound is addictive. Chandler Mogel’s vocals must be heard to be believed and driving force Bob Katsionis has never sounded better. Another belter from the Outloud boys.
rushonrock rated: 10/10 Out There
Bai Bang – Livin’ My Dream (AOR Heaven)
Once Livin’ My Dream begins its memorable journey it’s immediately obvious that Bai Bang belong to the 80s. But the band that famously released the critically acclaimed Enemy Lines 22 years ago have managed to transcend eras to plant themselves right at the forefront of the resurgent melodic rock scene.
Diddi Kastenholt’s sleazy vocals truly belong in the same Sunset Strip bars that spawned Ratt, Motley Crue and LA Guns but the band’s fourth album in a decade marries glam rock with pop metal to create the perfect party record for anyone over the age of 35.
Tracks like Rock On and Rock It tell the story. In terms of songwriting Bai Bang keep it simple. And yet they manage to keep it tight. There’s not a bad tune here and even if there’s a cheesy side to the bulk of their songs it would be wrong to say this record stinks – in actual fact it’s an uplifting smile-on-your-face album which could teach Steel Panther a thing or two.
Kastenholt and Bai Bang have been living their dream for longer than anyone could have reasonably expected. And it’s far from over just yet!
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Bang On Form
It’s immediately obvious that Evaline owe a huge debt of gratitude to just about every British rock band that tasted chart success during the first half the 90s. The US band’s Anglophile songbook references Britpop, Manchester’s incendiary indie scene and the alt-rock of Radiohead as if to impress upon the listener that imitation is, indeed, the greatest form of flattery.
Well that may be the case but what that means for Woven Material is a record as dull as it is derivative. Even the upbeat Picking It Up is just too much like a classic Stone Roses track to make a true impression and Equally is right out of the Radiohead guide to cerebral guitar pop.
It’s difficult to imagine Evaline sharing a bill with pop rockers Bon Jovi but that’s exactly what they did at Hard Rock Calling in London earlier this year. Whether anyone who worships Jon and Richie could stomach the Californians’ ultra-cool but ultimately dull material that day is open to debate but the two bands are hardly perfect bedfellows.
That Evaline enjoy a huge amount of industry support as this years alt-rock buzz band is beyond doubt. But being trendy was never a guarantee that you were any good.
rushonrock rated: 5/10 Dull Material
Jamey Jasta’s 15-year tenure as Hatebreed frontman has seen the hardcore heroes establish themselves as one of the must-see metal bands on the live circuit and there’s no doubting the singer’s ferocious talent.
This solo offering is not so much a diversion as a different take on the music he knows so well. Much of the material is underpinned by Jasta’s trademark snarl and yet it is on the more mellow songs (and we’re not talking power ballads here) that the voice of Hatebreed reveals himself to be even more talented than anyone ever realised.
Perhaps his day job somewhat restricts the artistic flow where Jasta is concerned or perhaps he can’t – or won’t – countenance a leap too far from what’s expected. But, make no mistake, this self-titled tour de force is a coming-of-age record for an artist blessed with all the necessary tools to forge a metal masterpiece.
Nothing They Say is the pick of a pretty impressive bunch. Jasta sings, rather than shouts, and proves more effective as a result. Imagine James Hetfiled on …And Justice For All and that’s the sound Hatebreed’s leader manages to recreate on this magnificent song. It’s the jewel in a crown of sparkling metal gems.
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Jast The Job
It’s always dangerous to believe the hype and this patchy record from Londoners Slam Cartel is a sorry case in point. Billed in some quarters as the answer to the capital’s latest hard rock scene they also feel it necessary to tout Russell Brand as a celebrity fan. There’s the first black mark right there then.
But far be it from rushonrock to judge a band on its big-name followers. Let’s get down to the music. Overall it’s incredibly difficult to pigeon-hole the Slam Cartel sound and, while that can be a positive thing for so many ambitious and genre-defying acts, in this case it’s simply an open invitation to criticise the band for boring unoriginality.
Never settling on a sound that suits them – if that sound exists at all – the six-piece bounce from one rock template to the next, shifting from the guise of Foo Fighters wannabes to Black Sabbath apologists and thru Faith No More moments with almost indecent haste.
On the surface this looked like a record every self-resepcting rock fan would love to own. Beneath the surface – and you only need to scratch it in the case of Handful Of Dreams – there’s very little substance and only the vague hint of style. Even Wishing Eye, the tune tipped to launch the band as genuine big hitters, is, at best, distinctly average. And it only gets worse.
rushonrock rated: 4/10 Slam Dung