Welcome to our weekly look at the best new rock and metal releases on the planet.
Every Sunday we focus on tomorrow’s hot albums today and one title will be crowned the rushonrock Record Of The Week.
We rate and review the best of the rest – so you don’t have to.
And this week we check out new music from prolific Irish alt rockers Therapy? (pictured), label mates Dear Superstar, metal monsters Ram and more.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Alt Rock
The release of Crooked Timber saw Therapy? rediscover the rich seam of groove laden agit rock that won the Ulstermen widespread acclaim and considerable commercial success two decades ago.
A Brief Crack Of Light picks up the baton and carries it into the future without ever leaving behind the very best of what has gone before. If Therapy?’s previous record was an acceptance that the old ones really are the best then this remarkable follow-up is an ambitious declaration that things could be even better.
Maintaining the momentum generated during the past two years, tunes like Plague Bell and the marvellously haunting Marlow showcase everything that is intoxicating about a Therapy? set.
These boys have never recognised boundaries and if the frenzied percussion underpinning their more extravagant moments might not suit the masses it simply seems natural in such an expansive environment.
These are heady times for fans of a band that almost lost its way with the patchy Shameless and High Anxiety a decade ago. Back on track and back at the front of alt rock’s leading pack, Therapy?’s 13th studio album is only unlucky for the less talented bands trailing in their wake. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 A Brief Glimpse Of Brilliance
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Hard Rock
The follow-up to 2008’s Heartless has been a long time coming and were it not for Dear Superstar’s insatiable appetite for playing live there’s every chance the delay between second and third albums could have been terminal for the Manchester band’s initially promising career.
Yet surely in that time Micky Satiar and his mates have managed to craft a killer album? Not quite. If you’re expecting this to be Dear Superstar’s Hysteria moment then it’s time for a relatively harsh reality check. The feint sound of progress is just about audible but Damned Religion is, in effect, more of the same.
There are more crunching riffs, more shouty choruses drowned in the mix and more of the metal-meets-sleaze moments this band do so well. More modern-day Papa Roach than latter-day Buckcherry (DS have toured extensively with both bands in recent years) songs like Glitter Just Like Gold effortlessly veer into A7X territory.
Satiar’s evolution into a seriously big player on the vocal front continues at pace but his band mates are struggling to keep up. This is good, just not good enough. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Stars In Their Eyes
Genre: Heavy Metal
Featuring 31 rare and live tracks plus a bonus DVD of the band in action in 1984, this is the perfect career retrospective of an ultimately imperfect metal band.
Originally released more than a decade ago, the live set has been lumped on to bring Cirith Ungol back into the public eye at a time when bands of their ilk are becoming popular again.
Whether or not it’s enough to prompt a first original album since 1991’s Paradise Lost is open to question: guitarist Jerry Fogle passed away in 1998 and fellow founder member Greg Lindstrom appears happy enough feeding the odd Cirith track into the setlist of latest band Falcon.
But if you can imagine Black Sabbath mixed with Thin Lizzy and given a typically American sheen then this could well tickle your fancy. Cirith never quite had the quality to make the big leagues but if they were a new band right now then the metal world would be buzzing. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Ungolievable
Genre: Punk Rock
Taking its name from the band’s debut demo – released 30 years ago – this 29-track overview of the Portland punk rockers’ early years is raw, passionate and occasionally immature. Just like punk should be, then.
Pulling together the Darby…. tracks plus tunes from the previously unreleased Boner’s Kitchen demo from 1981 (a gem for the true collector) there’s a certain charm about Poison Idea’s utter disregard form creating anything remotely pleasant.
Thrillingly bizarre highlights like the 49-second Think Twice should appeal to the most cynical punk still rooted in the genre’s distant past. And songs like Castration and (I Hate) Reggae tread a fine line between humour and serious prejudice.
This is all about revising a much maligned genre that still polarises opinion and divides critics. The first of a series of Poison Idea reissues, Darby… still has the potential to spark heated debate in 2012. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Ideas Men
Don’t let the almost proggy swirl of the instrumental title track deceive you as hearts-on-their-sleeves metallers Ram gently warm up for what turns out to be a classic romp through the genre’s finest traditions.
As soon as …Comes From The Mouth Beyond bursts into life it’s clear this is more Judas Priest than Jethro Tull and if you like your guitars shaped by power chords and your vocals screamed with genuine passion then this is pure rock heaven.
Even the great Joe Satriani would be proud of the sensational solo that punctuates …Comes From The Mouth and precedes a quieter, more considered passage and bizarre voiceover. Ram (as in Ram It Down?) do enjoy trying to be a little cleverer than they probably are but every metal titan is allowed its six minute-plus epic.
A couple more crop up as Death rumbles on but founder member Harry Granroth and his fully committed cohorts are at their best on the more succinct but equally potent I Am The End and Defiant. A terrifically entertaining trip down metal’s memory lane. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Ram Raiders