REVIEWS – NEW MUSIC
And this week we review and rate the latest albums by Lita Ford (pictured), My Dynamite and The Other.
We deliver our verdict on the return of Whitechapel, look at the latest offering from Thormesis and check out Katana‘s brand of blazing metal. Plus we assess the latest Rocksector release featuring October Sky.
Every Sunday we reveal the RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK and round up the BEST OF THE REST.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Hard Rock
A sneering blast at ex-husband Jim Gillette, this feisty record represents a new start for former Runaway Lita Ford and leaves 2009’s patchy Wicked Wonderland trailing in its wake.
Combining the best of her Runaways snarl with the polish of 1988’s Lita, this is the record fans were craving three years ago – only to be deeply underwhelmed by a distinctly average first studio album since 1995.
Gillette’s influence clearly loomed large over Ford’s personal life as much as her professional life. And having ditched the former Nitro singer altogether (he co-produced Wicked Wonderland before the couple split) there’s a fresh sense of focus on Living Like A Runaway.
The title track is on a par with the classic Kiss Me Deadly and Relentless is a raucous statement of Ford’s never-say-die intent. Contrast that with the equally powerful yet stripped down ballad Mother and it’s abundantly clear Living Like A Runaway is one of the bravest and most revealing records you’ll hear all year.
Often a little too intense, Ford’s finest album for two decades isn’t designed to bring joy into the world. But it will put a huge smile back on the faces of fans who feared the guitar hero had lost her mojo. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Ford Focus
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Gothic Metal/Horror Punk
In 2010 The Other were hailed as the natural successors to the Misfits after their horror-themed punk-infused New Blood caused fans and critics alike to sit up and take notice.
Two years on and it seems there’s so much more to an eclectic German band surely destined for even bigger things given their talent, ambition and genre-busting bravado.
The Devils You Know leans heavily on the mid-80s goth rock scene and standout track Skeletons In The Closet sounds like Depeche Mode doing metal. Indeed, arch perfectionist Marilyn Manson must wonder why his latest opus sounds nowhere near as good as this magnificent body of doom-laden work.
The pugnacious Puppet On A String sizzles with brooding intent and My Home Is My Casket is reminiscent of The Cult’s most polished heavy rock.
The decision to ditch their punkier side has the potential to seriously offend those fans of The Other there at the very beginning (only In My Veins comes close to the band’s rough and ready early work).
But The Devils You Know represents a glorious transformation designed to carry this band into the big leagues. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Other Worldly
Genre: Extreme metal
With their self titled fourth album, Tennessean bruisers Whitechapel have cast off the ‘deathcore’ tag and produced a body of work that’s mature, brooding and intense.
There’s an emotional depth to this record to accompany the pounding, brutal riffs and mosh-friendly beatdowns, and tracks such as Faces and Make it Bleed boast hooks which could propel the band onto larger stages.
Powered by new drummer Ben Harclerode, Whitechapel’s superbly executed, pummelling rhythms are utterly exhilarating: the sextet specialise in hitting the afterburners and then shifting down gears to hammer their point home… in punishing fashion.
Hate Creation and (Cult)uralist feature perfect examples of this technique, but there are deft changes in pace throughout the album.
While their last opus may have been entitled A New Era of Corruption, it’s this follow-up which sees the band truly opening a fresh chapter and showing a real step up in songwriting suss. Impressive. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7.5 Ripping
Genre: Pagan Black Metal
They may be daubed in corpsepaint and bear an indecipherable logo, but Thormesis’s bark is nastier than their bite.
You wouldn’t call the Germans’ brand of pagan black metal ‘accessible’, but their third album offers plenty of mid-paced moments among the blastbeats, as well as heart stirring, rousing melodies on the likes of Sterbend Herz and In den Nachten der Wiederkehr.
Sadly, Von Leere Und Tod (Of Emptiness and Death) is hampered by the prevalence of ponderous, over-long tracks, plus some wince-inducing clean vocals: a singer of the quality of ex-Dimmu man ICS Vortex would make a huge difference here.
However, it’s still early days for these Bavarian heathens, who are only six years into their career. And with some refinement, the quartet could be a force to be reckoned with. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5.5/10 Ragna-rock
Genre: Classic Rock
My Dynamite have the potential to be a pretty explosive rock n roll package. Yet this self-titled album packed full of radio-friendly summer anthems never quite emerges from the shadow of its primary influence.
Close your eyes and this could be the best Black Crowes tribute band you’ll ever hear. The problem is My Dynamite play original material. And that material too often lacks originality.
There’s an argument for suggesting now is the time to capitalise on a sound brazenly stolen from the Robinson brothers with the Crowes on a permanent hiatus.
But even if imitation is the most treasured form of flattery it would be encouraging to think My Dynamite could create their own identity moving forward. More songs in the mould of Singing Stormy Weather would do the trick. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Dynamite Or Might Not
Genre: Heavy Metal
In thrall to Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Dio and Queensryche, the balls-to-the-wall metal favoured by ultra-keen riff crew Katana is hugely entertaining.
From the off opener Reaper cuts and pastes soaring vocals, a singalong chorus, piercing solo and the odd scream to create the ultimate trad metal anthem.
And the trick is repeated again and again as Katana forgo the opportunity to break boundaries and redefine genres by sticking to what they know best – delivering fast-paced denim and leather-bound blasts from the past.
Wrath Of The Emerald Witch and The Samurai Returns marry rich imagery with more hot licks to create the ultimate in metal wet dreams.
Katana could comfortably open up for the majority of trad metal’s new breed and give most an exacting run for their money. Let’s hope some wise sage of a promoter gives them the chance to do just that. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 War Cry
Genre: Alt Rock/Electronica
An ability to create truly immersive, sweeping rock soundscapes is beyond many of the most experienced arena bothering bands but relative minnows October Sky manage to do just that.
The Canadian alt rockers have crafted a Muse-meets Savage Garden sound that should appeal to rock die-hards and pop pickers alike. It works remarkably well and reinforces a reputation forged on extensive touring alongside the likes of Bad Religion and Alexisonfire.
The melodic vocals might be a little too light if you prefer your rock to cause cracks in the walls but there’s no getting away from the fact that frontman Karl Raymond boasts a compelling range.
The band don’t shy away from electronica or the temptation to play a more progressive brand of rock and that should count in their favour. It would be a crying shame if stretching the boundaries limited October Sky’s appeal. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Bright Sky
I’m a journalist specialising in sport and rock music. Can’t play either so I write about them instead.