And today we cast a critical eye over the concluding part of Stone Sour‘s (pictured) epic House Of Gold And Bones series.
We review and rate the latest music from Avantasia, Gloryhammer and Covered Call.
Plus we revisit some classic Whitechapel and check out the new Meads Of Asphodel record.
There’s also new music from Russkaja and Century Media stable mates Terror and Deez Nuts.
Every Sunday we reveal the RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK. And we round up the very BEST OF THE REST.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Hard Rock
With Audio Secrecy and The House Of Gold & Bones Pt1, Stone Sour produced the back-to-back albums necessary for fans and critics alike to take this phenomenal modern metal band seriously. No longer seen as a second-rate Slipknot side-project, Corey Taylor’s ‘other band’ has now completed a hat-trick of career-defining records.
The House Of Gold & Bones Pt2 is the third of three killer releases that reinforces Taylor’s position at the forefront of the current rock scene. Whether as a masked maniac, an acoustic troubador, Steel Panther’s special guest or Stone Sour’s irrepressible frontman, the multi-talented vocalist is one of the most relevant musicians around.
On Stone Sour’s fifth studio album – the band’s third in three years – Taylor is allowed to showcase his full range with a mix of melody and menace making for an eclectic and riveting record. If HOGAB2 lacks some of Slipknot’s in-your-face angst it’s not short on heartfelt intensity – more importantly it picks up where its punchy predecessor left off.
Listen to Jim Root on Red City, Taylor on the terrific title track and the band as a unit on the brilliant Black John and there’s no doubt Stone Sour have nailed it – to such an extent that Slipknot just don’t seem so vital anymore. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Gold Dust
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Black/Experimental Metal
The Meads of Asphodel belong to a long line of eccentric, mind-bending British acts which includes Hawkwind, Killing Joke and Amebix. But it’s doubtful that any of those bands would have dedicated an entire album to the subject matter of Sonderkommando – namely the Holocaust.
Partially inspired by mainman Metatron’s visit to Aushwitz in 2011, this opus doesn’t flinch in its portrayal of man’s inhumanity to man, from its horrific cover to tracks like Aktion T4, which deals with the Nazis’ euthanasia programme.
As such, it’s not an easy listen, and difficult to class as ‘entertainment’. But it’s another brave step from The Meads, who’ve never been shy of controversial subject matter, and musically, paints its pictures using a broad palette, from abrasive black metal, to jazz and psychedelic space rock.
Nightmarish and at times, deeply disturbing, Sonderkommando is nevertheless an important body of work which deserves to be heard. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8.5/10 Hellish Vision
Genre: Death metal/deathcore
Deathcore pioneers Whitechapel really did the (gruesome) business with last year’s self-titled full length, which showed a band maturing, evolving and aiming to step up a league. This opus, though – a remastered and remixed version of their debut album – takes you back to the Tennessee bruisers’ beginnings. ‘Brutal’ is not the word.
First released in 2007 and focusing on Jack The Ripper’s East End killing spree, The Somatic Defilement is a downtuned, pummelling, thoroughly nasty effort, full of blood spattered guitar leads and guttural, monstrous vocals.
Audiohammer Studios sorcerer Mark Lewis has given each track a muscular, beefed up sound, but it’s the pure hateful bludgeon of the likes of Ear To Ear or Alone In The Morgue which really makes the impact.
OK, so The Somatic Defilement is a little basic compared to Whitechapel’s later work, but as an exercise in undiluted sonic violence, it takes some beating. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6.5/10 Bloodthirsty
With the classy Hold On, the Swedish AOR powerhouse that is Covered Call sound uncannily like Wings Of Destiny-era Magnum.
That’s no bad thing – in fact it’s testimony to the quintet’s quality and offers proof that they’re much more than just another hastily thrown together AOR act plucked from the prolific Scandinavian production line more in hope than expectation.
Former Yngwie Malmsteen main man Goran Edman is in the form of his life as he proves there really is no substitute for experience.
More than 20 years after peaking on Malmsteen’s post-Joe Lynn Turner opus Eclipse, the veteran journeyman is what sets Covered Call apart from the melodic rock pack. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Massive Impact
Genre: Heroic Fantasy Power Metal
Fans of Turisas, Alestorm, Finntroll et al sit up and take notice now – this is the feelgood fantasy metal album of the year.
Alestorm’s Christopher Bowes paints a vivid picture of Scottish folklore seen through the eyes of witches, wizards, dragons and heroic Celtic warriors. It’s an engaging concept and the fist-pumping heavy metal soundtrack is perfectly complementary.
Thomas Winkler’s lusty vocals, Bowes’ sweeping keys and sparkling song titles including Hail To Crail, Quest For The Hammer Of Glory and Below Cowdenbeath (that’s be Airdrie United then, Ed) make for a rollicking run through Highland mythology.
Expect the Scottish National Party to embrace Gloryhammer’s passionate manifesto ahead of the referendum on independence with Angus McFife their candidate of choice. It’s a winning combination that cannot fail. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Hammer Time
Genre: Symphonic Metal/Melodic Rock
Tobias Sammet has drafted in familiar friends in the shape of the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg to take Avantasia to the next level on the suitably overblown The Mystery Of Time.
And while the hired hands who made Edguy’s Hellfire Club such a compelling listen certainly add an atmospheric layer to this sumptuous album it’s the guest vocalists who really steal the show.
None more so that the brilliant Biff Byford on Black Orchid – following Joe Lynn Turner is no easy task but the Saxon frontman is the standout performer on this star-studded celebration of rock alumni.
Drafting in Mr Big’s Eric Martin on the ballad What’s Left Of Me is a masterstroke and Sammet’s ensured no stone is left unturned in his quest to create the ultimate metal record. If only this line-up could reproduce The Mystery Of Time live… SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Avant-ace-ia
Genre: Hardcore Punk
Los Angeles crew Terror, as the band name suggests, don’t deal in the niceties of rock. Theirs is an approach hewn from an inner angst and founded on a desire to unsettle.
And unsettling is exactly what Live By The Code is. From the (almost melodic) opener The Most High it’s clear this is an album ready made for those seeking instant gratification and lacking any kind of attention span whatsoever.
With no song clocking in at more than three minutes it’s full-on, full speed and full of thrashy riffs and shouty vocals.
Mixing their trademark hardcore sound with classic Anthrax, bits of the Beastie Boys and more, Terror have what it takes to transcend genres. But it’s a fair bet they’d feel a lot happier staying exactly where they are – blasting the life out of punk’s dirty underbelly. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Terrorising
Much like label mates Terror, the hardcore heroes at the heart of Deez Nuts don’t mess about when it comes to making music that grabs you by the balls before stringing you up and leaving you to hang helplessly against a backdrop of bludgeoning metal.
It’s an uncomfortable experience at the best of times and in the midst of an unseasonal spring cold snap there’s nothing but misery to be gained from slapping Bout It in the stereo right now.
Australia is supposed to be such a shiny, happy, optimistic nation but this vile Victorian mob begs to differ – Shot After Shot is a vicious slab of hellish hardcore while Go Fuck Yourself needs little explanation.
It seems Deez Nuts are on a mission to inflict misery upon the masses. On the evidence of Bout It, it’s mission: entirely possible. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Deezy Does It
Genre: Russian Turbo Polka
Hands up who has any Russian Turbo Polka in their collection right now? Nope. Well it’s a first for us too.
Think folk metal mixed with ska and the odd blast of thrash and you’re halfway towards understanding what must be the most bizarre sub-genre of rock on the planet.
It is, of course, more addictive than a shot of vodka and a plate of caviar – Russia has never been a rock heartland but more music like this would go down a storm.
Based in Vienna but putting a post-modern slant on traditional Russian folk, the merry folk of Russkaja have made 2013’s ultimate party metal record.
It doesn’t make sense on any level but it does make grown men with beards leap about the house like demented teens. And that must be a good thing? SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Russianrock