And this week there’s more than enough music to keep fans of every genre happy!
We run the rule over the latest raft of releases from the Frontiers Records stable including Crashdiet, Snakecharmer, Pink Cream 69 and Jorn.
Retro rockers Audrey Horne (pictured) return to the fray and Tomahawk turn back time with their first studio album since 2007.
There’s a brand new album from German metallers Helloween and EPs from flying Finns Stratovarius and metallers The Resistance. Plus we check out London boys Belasco.
Every week we reveal the RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK and we round up the BEST OF THE REST.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Hard Rock/Classic Rock
Hailing from the home of black metal and named after a character from cult US TV show Twin Peaks, it’s hardly surprising Audrey Horne have a significant PR job on their hands.
That job entails persuading the record buying public that Youngblood is one of the first truly great albums of 2013 and the culmination of the band’s exciting evolution from alt-rock, post-grunge pretenders into genuine classic rock contenders.
The name and the Norwegian heritage do them no favours. But once the word gets out that the Horne are nothing like their name or background would suggest, it should be all systems go in the race for global domination.
Hooking up with Classic Rock Magazine to unveil lead video Redemption Blues is the first of what we imagine will be many smart moves this year: Youngblood is a record made for the readers of the UK’s finest music magazine.
Audrey Horne’s NWOBHM leanings, singer Toschie’s earnest impression of classic Paul Stanley (Cards With The Devil) and even nods to prog masters Marillion and It Bites (The King Is Dead) make for a classic rock gem. Albeit obscured by that bizarre name. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Horne Of Plenty
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Heavy Metal
Efficient, powerful and high performance: Helloween are the typical German package. Their supercharged fusion of retro metal with a modern finish remains reassuringly reliable. And Straight Out Of Hell fires on all cylinders.
Tellingly the title track is the tastiest tune here with its nod to stadium grade Maiden ensuring a fast-paced ride through hard rock heaven.
Helloween have always lived in shadows of their British and American peers but as consistent purveyors of fist-pumping anthems theirs is a reputation that remains rock solid.
Straight Out Of Hell is straight out of the heavy metal handbook with its clichéd song titles, riotous riffs and walls of noise dripping with Teutonic passion. This one’s a Keeper… almost. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Hello Hooray
Genre: Hard Rock/Symphonic Metal
Jorn Lande was born to sing loud and proud – few singers can belt out the word ‘rock’ with such emotive force. Few would even dare try.
Recognising this talent, the burly Norwegian has always played to his strengths. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the first two songs here include ‘rock’ in the title. And Lande doesn’t hold back.
On this occasion, however, an orchestra is his foil and, in truth, the symphonic arrangement does the Masterplan frontman few favours. This shouldn’t be a battle but that’s how it pans out and ultimately Lande is the loser.
RUSHONROCK will always remember this most competent of singers doing the late, great Ronnie James Dio proud as he shared lead vocals with Glenn Hughes throughout Heaven And Hell’s High Voltage festival set. Symphonic is one to forget. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Yawn Lande
Genre: Classic Rock
Was it a coincidence that David Coverdale revealed Tommy Aldridge was rejoining Whitesnake on Friday? Or was the announcement perfectly timed to remind fans that the real deal is still rocking in spite of this rather splendid new release featuring former colleagues?
Whatever, Snakecharmer are so much more than the bastard spawn of one of the biggest names in classic rock. Featuring original Whitesnake members Micky Moody and Neil Murray there’s heritage as well as the odd humdinger underpinning this self-titled debut.
Heartland’s Chris Ousey is in the form of his life as he dovetails with Moody’s trademark licks to tease every last drop of blues-soaked sentiment out of a seriously impressive 11-song set.
Falling Leaves is a fabulous piece of music steeped in the best of British classic rock, Stand Up is groove-laden rock reminiscent of mid-80s Magnum and only the crass closer Cover Me In You lacks quality. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Charming Debut
Genre: Hard Rock
Absence makes the heart grow fonder and Pink Creams 69’s reputation has duly rocketed during the band’s six-year studio exile.
The reality is that Dennis Ward’s German plodders were never anything more than average and Ceremonial does nothing to snap an alarming streak of mediocrity.
David Readman delivers his usual pitch perfect performance as Burnely’s finest closes in on 20 years fronting one of Europe’s premier acts. And the dual guitar assault of Alfred Koffler and Uwe Reitenauer raises the bar – without ever raising the roof.
Even with a failsafe Ward production too much of Ceremonial mirrors a band going through the motions and ignoring emotion. Wasted Years sums it up best – very little appears to have been achieved since 2007’s equally lukewarm In10sity. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Cream Crackered
Genre: Glam Metal
Sweden owes its current claim to fame as metal’s home of all things shiny, poppy, sleazy and over the top to bands like the achingly cool Crashdiet and The Savage Playground offers fun and games from start to finish.
A marked step up from 2010’s RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Generation Wild, this riotous record showcases a band revelling in a period of unfamiliar stability.
Second time out singer Simon Cruz oozes confidence – leading from the front and leading by example he sets a standard band mates Martin Sweet, Peter London and Eric Young are eager to match.
The melodic side of Crashdiet filters through on the classy California while Circus – casually referencing the album title – is a ferocious example of why this band kills it live.
Sin City pays due homage to Motley Crue and lead single Cocaine Cowboys is another example of glam metal gold. Crashdiet have crafted the album of their careers. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Savage Amusement
Genre: Power Metal
A taster for next month’s full-length Nemesis album, this five-track EP unleashes lead single Unbreakable and packages a slew of remastered favourites as a fan bonus. But that’s all folks.
As a hint of things to come Unbreakable hardly rips up the blueprint where these power metal veterans are concerned – Stratovarius have always dealt in singalong metal with blatant symphonic touches and choruses that are catchier than the norovirus. This is more of the same.
And while remastered and remixed versions of Falling Star and The Game Never Ends are quirky enough, even this opportunity to deviate from the norm is ultimately missed. Nemesis was never going to rewrite the record books where Stratovarius is concerned – the band’s latest offering and pride in their back catalogue is confirmation of that. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Unremarkable
After a five year hiatus, the London three piece have burst back with an almost perfect prog/grunge record which is easily their most accomplished and complete record to date.
The album kicks into life in atmospheric style with the brand new single Moves Like Water, with its slow build up of appegiated bars, before bursting into life with a riff reminiscent of The Gaslight Anthem.
Despite a number of great tracks on this album, the one that really stands out is mid-set track, Taken, a real catchy singalong grungy/prog track which instantly draws comparison to Creed and Pearl Jam at their best.
Along with Taken, Open Up is another standout track simply for the reason it shouldn’t work in this album. But it does – a real soft rock, feel good song which sees riffs comparable to that of Queens Of The Stone Age’s No One Knows.
Overall a fantastic album that grabs you in from the first bar to the last. Adam Keys
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Belasconfidence
Genre: Alt Metal
When a supergroup comes together it is impossible to tell how they will fare with artists being taken out of their comfort zones and pitted against other egos as large as their own.
Two years in the making and following the introduction of a new bassist, Tomahawk have finally released the follow up to 2007’s Anonymous, and it really was worth the wait.
The album is very much a slow, experimental record which verges on their alternative side, rather than heavy metal, and does require serious attention to get the most out of.
Standout track Stone Letter is a real rock song that will get you off your seat and get the blood pumping, with great riffs, excellent vocals and a catchy chorus, giving the feel of a song you’ve known for years.
A superb comeback from the US rockers and hopefully fans won’t have to wait as long for the next on. AK
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 ‘Hawk’s Flying
Genre: Extreme Metal
The debut EP from the Scandinavian rockers who have been tipped to be ‘THE extreme metal band in the next year’.
Scandinavia has a fine history of extreme metal and this band who claim not to be a super group, despite their impressive individual CVs, look to carry on its great legacy with a EP that deserves volume, with shredding riffs, deadly drumming and pure anger.
From the distorted opening of My Fire to the very last beat of Slugger, this EP flies through, making for a collection of songs that belong on stage, in front of a room of sweaty moshers.
The band are currently in the studio working on their debut album which is due for release in May and if the record lives up to the EP, extreme metal fans everywhere are in for a real treat from a band who plan on sticking to the old no compromise values of metal. AK
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Resistance Is Futile