Every Sunday we bring you the very best in brand new music right here on rushonrock.
Eight-years – that’s how long you’ve waited for this one if you’re an Anthrax fanatic. But was it worth it? Or has too much hype left expectations melodramatically crushed and fans in the madhouse?
In the almost-three-year run-up to to Worship Music, the New York five-piece have swayed in dizzy motion, with many believing this record wouldn’t surface at all – never minding the uncertainties of who would front the band.
But whether you’re big on Belladonna dramatics, crazy for Bush or even wished that Dan Nelson had been given a chance – one thing is certain – Worship Music marks a new era for the band.
With Belladonna back as singer after more than 18-years away from Anthrax, Worship Music reveals the singer in a modern, polished guise – certainly up there with his best stuff as a member of the band. But while Among The Living and Spreading The Disease may be revered as the classic records, this latest attempt can be admired in a completely different light.
Anthrax still have a remarkable tendency to crash through a dirt-foundation of thrash – this best shown on Earth As Hell, which opens the album after the introducing track. The initial blastbeating – which Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante is hardly renowned for – makes for a misleading beginning to the record, having the listener briefly believing that they’re in for something far heavier than originally thought.
It’s the stop-start riffing of Scott Ian on The Devil You Know that continues this pacing charisma and has you wondering if this is going to be something of a bombshell in Anthrax history. Single Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t is a zombie-themed thrill that stands out among the best tracks on the album in its catchy, almost spoken-word, rapped verses and rapid palm-mutes.
The brief string section of Hymn 1 introduces us to a ballady number with In The End. The mid-album-track has a chorus of epic proportion and shows an especial effort from Belladonna’s pipes, having that extra tuneful swagger, sitting beautifully behind a fortress of chugged riffery. An obvious homage to NWOBHM legends, tenth track Judas Priest reverts to memories of traditional metal with a melodic tint again – the latter sound is definitely more prevalent than expected on the album as a whole. After a few listens, it’s Worship Music‘s first-half that proves itself to be stronger than the second by some stretch.
No singular opinion will dominate the reception of this record. A variety of opinions are to be expected. But whether you see Anthrax’s move to a more melodic metal base as a transition to a safer haven or something that makes sense – there will always be the nostalgic core of fans who will be disappointed for failing to swing in rotation, back to 80s-styled thrash with speed influences. Ultimately Anthrax have done something different here, and good for them – they’ve returned respectfully with a decent record. CR
rushonrock rated: 7.5/10 Worship Thrash
Years down the line from the days when your beloved local More Store titillated you with its trashy, mass-produced rubbish and furthered an already spreading epidemic of disposable consumerism, we have a similar problem. It’s in relation to what’s happening with saturated, trendy, nonsensical metalcore music in both the UK and US.
While there were stores across the UK giving us such plastic pleasures, we’re now facing a similar suffocation – with some labels following this latest fad in the hope of plucking the next August Burns Red or Bring Me The Horizon. It’s all more-core – more of the same in more than one realm. First there’s musical ambition which adheres weakly to the latest fashion of characterless, robotic breakdowns. Secondly there’s the unashamed, self-conscious development to narrowly market themselves into a brand and hit the big support slots. It happens too often, and finding an act who reject the casual acceptance of the genre’s overdone aesthetics is rare.
Some flog horrendously in almost parody-like embarrassment and others hit the jackpot, but Fall Against Fate are somewhere in between – just good enough to pop their heads out from the mire of muddied mediocrity. If Not For Ourselves shows that FAF aren’t ascending above the twaddle we’ve been tortured with in this genre of music – they’re just floating on the surface.
Le Corps has some nicely executed intricate guitar that spices up things from the ordinary dusty flavours of the record. Galleon musters technical, melodic undertones too, but is brashly swiped with what is becoming a far-too-often problem – whining screechy vocals with passion absent, tenacity dead and monotony dominant.
Waters Of Asteria shows the band to don a djenty side to them, but with tuneful guitar lines that pang with shaking resonance. So Real is probably the most impressive track on the record, and that’s not just for the welcoming of some clean vocals but for its quirky, almost bluesy riffs in verses and peaceful, emotive outro. In true cliché frustration, the constant bombardment of breakdowns spoil the sound of a technical band that could undoubtedly do more.
Fall Against Fate certainly aren’t the typical bad example, and although their clear addiction to this style of music is apparent, they’re a much tighter, technical force, with a huge emphasis on the word technical. They can play their instruments to a great standard, but don’t use them to their full advantage. CR
rushonrock rated: 6/10 Heavy Fall
Credit where credit’s due. At least Stained doggedly stick to their nu-metal, post-grunge blueprint and refuse to bow to the pressures of making modern metal music. The fact is, it’s dire.
Of course it’s easy to jump on the ‘slag off Staind’ bandwagon and this was a review approached with a clear head and an open mind. Hell, there was even a nagging desperation that this would be the record that relaunched the one-time US heavyweights as a revitalised and relevant band. Instead Staind the album only reaffirmed every familiar preconception of Staind the band.
Falling is, quite simply, music to slit your wrists to. It’s so bad that the RUSHONROCK staff were almost reaching for The Smiths for a cheer up (almost). Wannabe is jaded nu-metal pap attempting to match Nickelback for chart-friendly acceptance but failing miserably.
Then there’s Paper Wings with it’s ‘sick of it all’ line. And yes, by now, we were. Something To Remind You is a pleasant enough ballad as Staind save the best until last. Then again, the best is far from brilliant where Staind is concerned. A desperate album for desperate times. SR
rushonrock rated: 3/10 Forever Staind
It’s a big few weeks for rock and metal stalwart Roadrunner and where Staind (see above) is a blot on their copybook there are plenty of cracking albums coming out of the label’s burgeoning stable right now.
And Opeth’s Heritage is up there with Lenny Kravitz’s Black And White America and Black Stone Cherry’s Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea when we’re talking about the cream of the crop.
At times it’s difficult to believe the hirsute Scandinavians founded their cult status on a penchant for pummelling death metal. Heritage is almost art rock with its swirling soundscapes, soothing vocals and bizarre subject matter.
Mix the prog rock jazz fusion of Nepenthe with the 70s gangster soundtrack score (think Get Carter does prog) underpinning Famine and you find yourself feasting on a smorgasboard of aural treats.
Not created for one sitting, Heritage is a record both delightful and demanding and in time it will enjoy the classic status it deserves.
Those enlightened fans of the band’s death metal heritage (pun intended) will find it in their hearts to adore Opeth’s latest opus. Yet its softer centre will inevitably alienate those bound to be distraught by the decision to forsake all things angry and dark. SR
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Opeth Pocus
Didn’t Black Stone Cherry already release their new album? At times this thrilling example of the thriving British rock scene sounds like the album Chris Robertson and co. could, or possibly should, have recorded as the follow-up to 2008’s fabulous Folklore And Superstition. It’s that good.
So Many Lies and Sob Story kick things off with a thumping one-two likely to floor even the most hardened of rock fans. Dave McKee’s vocals exude confidence, passion and focus and there’s no doubting the jewel in Nightvision’s crown. Retaining his services in the long term might well be this band’s biggest challenge.
Nowehere To Hide is another anthem-in-waiting and demonstrates just how far Nightvision have come since 2009’s impressive yet flawed rushonrock rated 6/10 debut As The Lights Go Down.
Indeed, with a clear sense of ambition underpinning tunes like Find Me and Enter Escapism, there’s no sign of second album syndrome affecting McKee and company. Nightvision know their strengths and have eradicated any weaknesses. Enjoy. SR
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Sin The Zone
These are golden times for fans of great guitar music and, hot on the heels of meaty efforts from Slash and Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell, comes another album chock full of star-studded collaborations and bluesy anthems.
Ex-Mountain man West knows his way around a fretboard after four decades working with many of the biggest names of rock and a dozen belting tunes showcase his best work in years.
Mudflap Mama, featuring the aforementioned Slash, is sensational with its jamming vibe and raspy vocal but Third Degree, introducing the brilliant Joe Bonamassa, is probably the best tune here. Fusing the generations it nevertheless demonstrates the unique talents of two guitar heroes with licks to die for.
I Feel Fine sees West out on his own and, in the light of the fact that he lost a leg earlier this year, this is a song rich in emotion and obvious pride. Five years after his last studio album, Blue Me, and one of rock’s most influential musicians has proved there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet. SR
rushonrock rated: 7/10 How The West Has Won
Solid Thin Lizzy tribute bands abound – indeed many would argue the Scott Gorham fronted official line-up is the best of all. So is there really room for Sinner and their selfless tribute to the legacy of Phil Lynott?
So much of One Bullet Left sounds less like this German metal act’s best 80s material and more like the heavy 70s blues rock of early Lizzy that it’s uncanny. But then this is the band that released The Spirit Of The Rose – A Tribute To Phil Lynott just a decade ago.
Back On Trail is a splendid case in point as founder member, vocalist and bass player Mat Sinner lays his cards on the table. Mend To be Broken is another strong example of a band in thrall to Lynott’s best work and if some would say this is blatant replication then at least these songs are undeniably strong.
Title track One Bullet Left is more UFO than Lizzy but there’s no escaping the link with one of the finest rock n roll bands on the planet. Even at their heaviest – harking back to the early years – the band sounds like much-missed Brit metal heroes The Almighty. And guess who fronts Lizzy in 2011? None other that The Almighty’s Ricky Warwick!
There’s absolutely nothing original here but almost everything is quality hard rock guaranteed to bring the house down in Sinner’s native Germany. Elsewhere – and unfairly so – it’s likely to draw the odd sneer. SR
rushonrock rated: 6/10 Bullet’s Blast
Not One Of You became a familiar favourite on the rock scene following its pre-album release and hinted at exciting things to come from Aussie noiseniks Dangerous!. Appearing first on the band’s debut long player it does, however, lull the listener into a false sense of security.
Teenage Rampage is no classic album – quite the contrary. It’s an irritating mix of indie rock, generic punk, post-grunge and faux angst. Trying to be all things to all men, the majority of the tracks here don’t come close to matching the bristling opener and most will be consigned to history long before the next Dangerous! album sees the light of day.
Slo Mo Video, with its layered vocal chorus, is particularly irksome. But there’s plenty more where that lazy, screechy, loathsome tune is concerned. Chasing The Girls and Big Muff aren’t big, aren’t clever and aren’t really worth dwelling on. After a while the overbearing scuzz rock peddled by Dangerous! becomes deeply frustrating for anyone seeking some semblance of cute musicality.
At some stage soon somebody, somewhere, needs to take these boys aside and explain that a wall of noise alone is not enough to found a career upon. Clearly requiring a crash course in simple songwriting craft, Dangerous! only appear top be so to themselves.
Rock music can point to numerous examples of genuine danger within its ranks and even the exclamation mark can’t pull the wool over the eyes of the increasingly discerning fan of gutsy guitar music. One song wonders? SR
rushonrock rated: 4/10 Teenage Garbage
This week’s reviewers: Simon Rushworth, Calum Robson.