REVIEWS – NEW MUSIC
Plus we rate and review the latest albums from You Me At Six, Charred Walls Of The Damned, As You Drown and 3.
A massive pat on the back to the marketing man who thought up this neat little twist on the traditional pre-Christmas cash cow – the Best Of compilation.
Hang on though. Didn’t Judas Priest just release a new compilation a matter of weeks ago by the name of Single Cuts? They did indeed. And that’s why The Chosen Few is such a genuine stroke of genius.
The marketing man in question has even got away with lifting six of the tracks which made Single Cuts and moving them effortlessly across to this 19-track career resume. And how has he or she got away with such a move at a time when fans are grappling with a global financial meltdown severely restricting their monthly metal spend?
The twist is that a slew of rock and metal’s biggest names have hand-picked (or at least agreed to put their name to) a selection of the Priest’s finest material – hence the album’s title. So it’s not just any old Best Of. This is a Best Of as selected by the likes of Lars Ulrich, Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, Lemmy, Slash and Corey Taylor. So that’s ok then.
Of course to any Priest fan with half a brain – and there are some out there – such lofty patronage won’t cloud the fact that this is nothing more than another shameless pillaging of the band’s oft-rehashed, albeit brilliant, back catalogue.
Perhaps Taylor’s support of You’ve Got Another Thing Coming or Cooper’s drooling verdict on Living After Midnight will bring a few new punters through the door. But anyone else has seen and heard this collection of metal classic many, many times before. SR
rushonrock rated: 6/10 The Rip-off
Wednesday 13 – Calling All Corpses (Wednesday 13 LLC)
Make no doubt about it, the boy Wednesday has always had a great ear for a singalong shock rock anthem. And this familiar mix of metal, punk, sleaze and pop ticks all the boxes for those demanding more of the same from their favourite Murderdoll.
Once atmospheric intro Blood Fades To Black cedes to the Sex Pistols-esque I Wanna Be Cremated we’re straight back into the Wednesday groove. And any accusations of the main man gleefully reinventing the wheel have clearly fallen on deaf ears where the master of imitation is concerned.
Wednesday won’t ever pretend to be a rock n roll original, shamelessly piecing together the best bits of his favourite records to create a sound that is, nevertheless, all his own. It’s a winning formula so why change it?
The cheesy lyrics (One Knife Stand), the garage band riffs (Bad At Being Human) and the old school shock and awe (Calling All Corpses) are trademark 13 – unlucky for some but lucky for anyone who likes their guitar music gutsy, gory and likely to inspire sporadic fits of girly giggles. Every day should be Wednesday. SR
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Wednesday-release
Glyder – Backroads To Byzantium (SPV/Steamhammer)
A few months ago the idea of a new Glyder album released by SPV would have been akin to the original Guns N Roses line-up reforming.
But the seemingly impossible has happened with both band and label risen Phoenix-like from the ashes and, for all fans of classic rock, it’s something which should be celebrated long into the night.
Glyder have only gone and recorded the album of their career with new singer Jackie Robinson taking over from the departed Tony Cullen and playing an absolute blinder.
Robinson’s Lynott-esque drawl and respectful nod to the very best in British blues rock suits the Irish crew to a tee. Founder members Bat Kinane and Pete Fisher are in fantastic form as the band’s dual guitar heroes and it’s immediately obvious there’s plenty if life in the old dogs yet.
Killer cuts Long Gone, Down And Out and Two Wrongs are right up there with the best tunes from 2006’s critically acclaimed self-titled debut and yet the same old problems are sure to plague a band every bit as good as fellow countrymen The Answer.
Firstly there’s the band name – quite possibly the weakest in rock. Surely Tony Cullen’s departure was the perfect opportunity to rebrand this classy quintet as anything but a mode of flight synonymous with quiet relaxation and baffling quirkiness? But the logo’s no better – after five years it seems nobody has suggested to the band they draft in an artist over the age of five and with more than a crayon for company.
Given the atrocious name and the questionable imagery it’s little wonder Glyder have failed to penetrate the mass market. But those who have delved beneath the frankly unprofessional surface will hope and pray that this is the incredibly accomplished record that finally negates those damaging first impressions. SR
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Backroads To Basics
You Me At Six – Sinners Never Sleep (Virgin)
With almost indecent haste the bright young things of You Me At Six have morphed from happy-go-lucky pop punksters into deadly serious major league rock players.
Sinners Never Sleep is a self-confident collection of radio-friendly anthems with bite and the rapid rise of Josh Franceschi and co. seems certain to reach a new stratosphere before 2011 is out.
There are frequent, yet subtle, references to the band’s 2008 debut Take Off Your Colours but everything about YM@6’s third long player in as many years smacks of maturity and focus.
The Chilis-esque No One Does It Better is an obvious highlight and there’s no better example of a creatively rich band all grown up. Epic closer When We Were Younger sets the perfect seal on a magnificent album – neatly drawing a line under YM@6’s earlier output and hinting at an altogether feistier future.
Even with the success of back-to-back Top 25 UK records it’s been easy to write off this lot as fresh-faced flash-in-the-pan punk-lite uopstarts. Sinners Never Sleeps is proof that YM@6 are in it for the long haul and ready to make a play for everyone from Radio One tastemakers to metalcore aficionados. SR
rushonrock rated: 9/10 SAS Rescue
Rat King is a slab of all things heavy built around a vicious barrage of death metal by Sweden’s As You Drown. Not eager to be trying anything overly experimental, this is a band predominantly stuck within the constraints of a genre.
However, what we learn some way into the album is that tracks like Slaves To The Kingdom Of Fear drizzles a groove metal precision onto a frantic bedrock of manic riffing to best display the technical potential of As You Drown. Rabid Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing shows these complex outbursts too with infectious guitar riffs demonstrating what the four-piece can do with an already hard-hitting punch-up of furious DM.
But for all the tight musicianship, unforgiving speed and ravaging gutturals, the five-piece don’t venture much further beyond that and in truth it’s The Nothing and Bleeding Structure that lack a feeling in them at all. Despite this, hardened fans of the genre will still appreciate its singular goal – to cause as much sonic disruption as possible through a vortex of whirling riffs and thumping machine-gun-percussion.
Rat King won’t just leave you chewing on iron nails, it’ll have you eating the cardboard box they came in too. CR
rushonrock rated: 5.5/10
Richard Christy drummed with Death for four-years, played alongside Iced Earth for three-albums and is founder of this amalgamation of musicians that came together in 2009. Charred Walls Of The Damned have an A-list of talent that certainly puts the US band in the ‘supergroup’ category. Made up of former Judas Priest vocalist Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens, prolific bassist Steve DiGiorgio and guitarist Jason Suecof, the four-piece return with second attempt Cold Winds On Timeless Days.
The reinvigoration of classic metal is a narrow and dodgy patch of territory to tackle and too often it’s done with a conscious intention to pay homage to heroes a little too much. But when you are those very heroes, do you have a sovereignty that rules forthrightly? No, you don’t of course. Complacency is the ill that kills ageing musicians and what is pleasing about Charred Walls Of The Damned is that they’re a band that avoid this mentality – open to seriously mixing it up and unafraid to try new things.
Attempting to bring a razor sharp modern style to an old framework, Charred Walls Of The Damned launch into surprising bouts of blastbeating at times and momentarily dazzle us with some momentary melodeath guitar lines. But instead of hearing a harsh assault of brutal squawks, Owens shakes the ground with his dynamic vocal style. It’s perched alongside classic NWOBHM soloing too, providing a half-way house for those reeled by the melodrama of trad metal but psyched over the intensity of a DM.
At the same time, Ashes Falling Upon Us has a theatrical atmosphere that reveals the band’s obvious link with Iced Earth while Bloodworm is a powerful energy of melodious guitar soloing and minimalistic but apt riffing – certainly the most successful track on the album. CR
rushonrock rated: 6.5/10
Off the back of numerous dates with Porcupine Tree and travelling on the Progressive Nation Tour with Opeth, Dream Theater and Between The Buried And Me, 3 have been circulating in the right areas to get recognised. The Ghost You Gave Me is their sixth record to date.
A Mars Volta bow with a poppy prog glaze is where they stand musically, and thus far it’s been working for the New York four-piece. Joey Eppard – brother of former Coheed And Cambria drummer Josh Eppard – has created a ‘static’ record with his band here, and it isn’t with great electrical force as the connotation of the word would originally dictate.
The bland pop feel of the record is a resurfacing factor that prevents this album being the very one it intends to be. Sirenum Scopuli and ensuing track React begin so promisingly with a soothing Genesis-esque tone but continue into the uninspiring hard-rock riffs of Sparrow and the deadpan chorus of Numbers. The sparkling prog licks of Only Child makes it one of the best tracks on the record. The mathy percussive constitution of the song is the epitome of long-serving drummer Chris Gartmann’s rhythmic ideas.
Not bad but certainly not a great one – 3 whistle by pretty weakly in comparison to the heavyweights of progressive music. They’re not quite there yet. CR
rushonrock rated: 6/10
This week’s reviewers: Simon Rushworth, Calum Robson.
I’m a journalist specialising in sport and rock music. Can’t play either so I write about them instead.