REVIEWS – NEW MUSIC

Another mixed bag this week as we finally get up to speed with surprise Earache Records signing Rival Sons (pictured) and a whole lot more.

We review and rate the latest releases by Revengine, Bedouin Soundclash, Ancient Ascendants and Kids In Glass Houses.

And remember to check in every Sunday for news on the best new rock and metal records money can buy! 

Rival Sons – Pressure & Time (Earache)

Bizarrely signed to the home of some particularly ear-bleeding thrash metal, the retro-soaked Rival Sons are, nevertheless, a canny capture by an Earache label well known for its ability to spot rising stars.

Already nominated for a Classic Rock award and veterans of a Judas Priest tour and double High Voltage Festival slot, the Los Angeles mob are making a pretty big noise in the UK right now – even if their potential remains largely untapped back home.

There is, of course, a very good reason why Blighty is the natural home for Rival Sons. Their sound is underpinned by the kind of bluesy rock riffs favoured by Zeppelin in their pomp and from start to finish this is an engaging listen.

The rousing title track is an obvious highlight but Save Me, clocking in at just over two-and-a-half minutes, is another stupendous example of what this band is capable of. All fuzzed-up guitar and rock n roll energy – with a sleazy chorus to boot – it’s a tune which is best enjoyed in the company of Jack and a pool table surrounded by assorted rock chicks.

If you’re a fan of classic rock then Rival Sons is a name that should already be on your radar. If not then this album will leave you red-faced and wondering why. SR

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Get In My Sons

 

Kids In Glass Houses – In Gold Blood (Roadrunner)

If people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones then Kids In Glass Houses shouldn’t throw caution to the wind. And thankfully the world’s favourite pop rockers have stuck to their guns with some determination on a record which barely strays from a tried and tested AOR-leaning formula.

There’s the ‘na-na-na, oh-woah- oh’ refrain of Not In This World so beloved by Bon Jovi and their ilk, the Katy Perry meets Don Henley cheese of Diamond Days and the sax-infused, sugar coated commercialism of Fire all within one hell of a formulaic yet fun record.

KIGH are the kings when it comes to understanding the needs and wants of their screaming teenage fans and each and every one of them will absolutely delight in this romp through retro 80s anthems-by-numbers. It’s a good bet their mums and dads will like a lot of it too.

Even when the band stray into the indie rock of Manics tribute The Florist (crap name, killer tune – horns feature here too) they sound perfectly suited to the music. It’s so easy to write off KIGH as nothing more than serial imitators but there’s no doubt they’ve hit upon something rather special here and we finished listening to In Gold Blood wanting more…and more.

Such an addictive quality has always been the measure of a good record. And if Machine Head devotees won’t be rushing out to buy this late summer hit anytime soon then anyone who enjoys their music simple and uplifting really should. SR

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Glass Act

 

Ancient Ascendant – The Grim Awakening (Siege Of Amida)

It’s been some time in waiting for Southern four-piece Ancient Ascendent to release their first full-length record but they have awoken with The Grim Awakening.  Formed in 2005, they’ve had a number of high profile support slots with the likes of Bolt Thrower and Fleshgod Apocalypse and released one demo and a couple of EPs.

Firstly, with only tentative prejudgments based on an album cover, you just really hope that the epic artwork of some powerful out-of-world beast with a trail of destruction surrounding it will be the prelude to a colossal record too.

As far as death metal goes – and it always has been a genre restricted by its own pretension towards wild experimentation or diversity – The Grim Awakening does more than the average record.  It’s hardly Morbid Angel syndrome at all, but while Ancient Ascendent stick primarily to ordinary measures, there’s dosages of prog on a relatively confined scale that works undoubtedly in favour of the London/Reading band.

Originally, it is of some surprise that Bleeding In Exile momentarily cuts into a peaceful, proggy interlude, but it’s nevertheless refreshing.

So-called ‘technical’ guitar work of death metal that usually constitutes to a flailing speedy mess of shredding is a saturating problem in this genre, but not where these guys are from.  There’s method and thought in their guitar picking that make them almost more accessible than your average Carcass or Obituary record.  Brutal blasts are held in such measure too.  Though clearly a technical drummer Dave Moulding doesn’t decide to fly off the handle and ruin the spectacle throughout the record but especially in Ravenous Undead Of The Dead and follow-up Forced Insight.  The ending minute of Titan finishes the record with a majorly crushing, sludge pace, departing with a thumping, dark charisma.

This isn’t quite getting close to the progressive side that typifies Opeth’s kind of DM – it’s more thoroughly brutal, and if you’re on the lookout for a neck-snapper with only touches of prog, then this is it.  A fine debut for the UK DM scene to dissect. CR

rushonrock rated: 7/10 Grim-pressive

 

Revengine – Absence (Self-Released)

The last time we encountered Revengine at rushonrock we were left with a lacklustre feeling.  The Finns’ 2009 debut EP Plan Your Escape did nothing to lyrically stimulate or musically arouse.

What we can gather from debut album The Absence is that the four-piece haven’t really made any improvements on their previous attempt, suffering from an inability to engage a level of consistency throughout.

Song titles are as generic as they ever were and the songwriting isn’t great.  Area and Characterized are about as boring as their bland titles would suggest, but what makes frustration elevated is the fact that Revengine show a rare glimpse of potential at one point on this record.

The heavier-bodied intro of Envy flashes us with a flare of groove-driven rock n’ roll and moves on to some nice picking that maintains listening interest more than any other song on the record.  Though lyrics are poor, follow-up track Believe hits us with some potent harmonies and tough-natured yet melodic riffing.

By the time you’re through The Absence, you’re ironically left feeling void of emotion. There’s an absence of a lot of things on this record and Revengine will have to find a new approach if they’re going to be bowling strikes at the hard rock world. CR

rushonrock rated: 4/10 Absence Of Quality

 

Bedouin Soundclash – Light In The Horizon (Pirates Blend Records)

Toronto’s Bedouin Soundclash release fourth album Light The Horizon in the UK for the first time and, as the title would suggest, there’s a silver lining in every cloud with this one. It’s an uplifting, foot-tapper perfect to just zone out, chill out, kick back, meditate – whatever you find peaceful solace in.

That doesn’t at all imply that Light The Horizon is a snooze fest.

Fools Tattoo has relaxing traces of reggae with a laid-back, funky bass line rumbling through it’s soul and May You Be The Road is a beautiful crooner bolstered by the occasional light backing of electric guitar and strings.  A guest appearance from young indie singer Beatrice Martin (known as Coeur De Pirate) culminates in Bedouin’s seductive Fever moment in Brutal Hearts.

The Quick & The Dead and Rolling Stone both demonstrate how Dire Straits would have sounded if Marc Knopfler had suddenly decided to make chilled out reggae songs – by no means a criticism.

Follow The Sun is the final track of the record – not including bonuses – radiating in a dreamy light, with echoing vocals that resemble solo Jarvis Cocker except with a more positive final outlook.

Bedouin Soundclash have been sure in their direction for some time and that extra wealth of experience is paying off. CR

rushonrock rated: 7/10 Sound’s Good

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a journalist specialising in sport and rock music. Can’t play either so I write about them instead.

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