Today we check out the latest music from Metal Blade label mates Memory Garden and Flotsam And Jetsam.
And we focus on fast-rising rockers Glossary and reformed French metallers Karelia.
There’s new music from British buzz band Sacred Mother Tongue (pictured) and a meaty live set from legendary metal crew Iced Earth.
Every week we reveal the RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK. And we round up the very BEST OF THE REST.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Heavy Metal
Last September Sacred Mother Tongue’s A Light Shines EP won a richly deserved RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 review and we boldly suggested that British metal’s next big thing had already arrived.
Out Of The Darkness reaffirms that view with a raft of blistering modern metal anthems suggesting a band that’s paid its dues is ready to reap the rewards.
With the backing of EMI and Live Nation it’s not as if SMT will be found wanting as they prepare to take a genuinely exciting record to the masses in 2013.
But no matter how big your biggest fans it’s the music that will determine whether this band sinks or swims. And once SMT deliver live tracks as compelling as Bird In Hand and A Light Will Shine new devotees will come flocking.
Black Sabbath’s upcoming release isn’t the only British metal record you simply MUST hear this year… Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Mother Of All New Albums
BEST OF THE REST
With 1986’s Doomsday For The Deceiver, Flotsam and Jetsam penned a genuine thrash classic. But it’s a long time since a certain Mr J Newsted was in their ranks, and while the bassist went on to rule the world with Metallica, fortune didn’t smile on his former bandmates.
And so Ugly Noise doesn’t come with the same sense of anticipation felt for an album by, say, fellow thrash vets Exodus or Death Angel.
Ugly Noise is nevertheless a solid effort from the grizzled quintet, with some fine moments: the title track starts with an ominous piano riff which evolves into a taught, mid-paced thrasher, while closing salvo To Be Free and the awesome Machine Gun offer plenty of urgency and aggression.
However, there’s too much filler and slow, melodic stodge present to give the likes of Testament – or much of the thrash new breed – a real run for their money. And that’s a shame, given Flotsam and Jetsam’s undoubted pedigree. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Swimming Against The Tide
Genre: Doom/Trad Metal
Twenty years on from their first demo release, Swedes Memory Garden are still treading a dark path. And unlike many current retro/occult rock acts, or spliffed-up stoner outfits, their version of doom metal places the emphasis very much on the metal element, in its ‘traditional’ form.
Much of that is down to Stefan Berglund’s soaring, Dio-esque vocals, but on tracks like The Evangelist, the album’s powerful opener, it’s also a result of Simon Johansson’s stunning axework. His playing throughout is subtle and refined, like a goblet of rich red wine, and adds a classy sheen to much of Doomain.
Where Memory Garden falter though, is in their regular forays into over-wrought, plodding metal, such as on Daughters Of The Sea. There’s a gothic grandeur to much of Doomain, granted, but at times you’re screaming for a truly seismic riff to appear… and it rarely does.
Still, the quintet’s fifth full-length is a mature effort in keeping with their 20 year plus career, and will provide plenty of sustenance to long-term fans – if not make them many new ones. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5.5/10 True To Their Roots
Genre: Heavy Metal
Floridians Iced Earth have been keeping the metal flag flying for almost 30 years but the accomplished rockers have still to enjoy the mainstream acclaim their challenging music deserves.
Always excellent in the live arena, it may well be that the mammoth Live In Ancient Kourion is the album that finally affords this hard-working band long overdue credit.
Clocking in at two-and-a-half hours and spread across two CDs (and an optional DVD) this career-spanning trip down memory lane requires a certain level of commitment: if you listen to your music in short, sharp bursts then LIAK is best avoided.
If, however, you fancy immersing yourself in an atmospheric set recorded in Cyprus last September and featuring all the classics – When The Night Falls and the epic Dante’s Inferno are stunning – this will tick every box imaginable.
Fans of British metal will enjoy the assured contribution of former Fury UK bass player Luke Appleton and much, much more. Iced Earth have never sounded better. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Earth Shattering
Genre: Heavy Metal
Inked in to support Michael Schenker on the final four dates of his latest UK run, the revamped and reinvigorated French metallers Karelia are pushing hard to earn respect and grow their market.
After the success of 2008’s Restless and a slot opening up for The Scorpions across France, hopes were high for follow-up Golden Decadence. Released to critical acclaim across mainland Europe in 2011 it’s finally been picked up for the UK market to coincide with the Schenker dates.
British fans will find to much to admire in Karelia’s bluesier moments but their over-reliance on the electro vibe that underpinned Restless will divide UK audiences straight down the middle. Choosing the right pre-Schenker setlist could prove pivotal in determining whether this band has a long-term future on this side of the Channel.
Guest guitarist Rudolf Schenker’s impeccable work on Keep Watch On Me and The Way Across The Hills adds class and proven quality right when it’s needed – just as an initially impressive album begins to sag in the middle. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Decadence Dance
Genre: Rock N Roll
According to US veterans Glossary – for those new to the band this album number seven – the Tennessee quintet deal in ‘romanticised rock n roll’ and it’s unlikely there’ll be a better soundtrack to the summer in 2013.
Long Live All Of Us oozes confidence and an understated cool with hints of Americana, blues, gospel and soul underpinning a truly feelgood release.
Think classic Rolling Stones mixed with Crosby, Stills and Nash, Tom Petty and a hint of the Cowboy Junkies and it’s possible to get a feel for this fantastic retro-modern record – tunes like A Shoulder To Cry On and When We Were Wicked resonating with rock n roll audiences far and wide.
The subtle use of horns, harmonised vocals, pedal steel and piano makes for a glorious journey through the very best American roots music has to offer. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Long Live Glossary