And where better to start than with the chart-topping return of US titans Avenged Sevenfold (pictured)? We review and rate Hail To The King – the UK’s biggest-selling long player!
There’s new music from classic rockers The Jokers, AOR stars Houston and metallers Satyricon.
We check out the new Kreator live album, female-fronted metal courtesy of ReVamp and the metalcore of Woe, Is Me.
North Easterners Waheela and Druganaut prove Tyneside’s metal scene is gathering pace and there’s the latest release from Ministry. Plus we run the rule over Dark Age, Abominant and B’LAST! and Masada.
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: Heavy Metal
Avenged Sevenfold’s inevitable metamorphosis into the Metallica for a new generation is complete with this chart-topping beast of a metal album set to confirm the US heavyweights’ transformation into an unstoppable global force.
As ascensions go it’s incredibly assured. A7X’s rise to the top might have been steady rather than spectacular but in biding their time and honing their sound, M. Shadows and co. have only gone and recorded their game changer: a record rich in variety and oozing confidence.
The trademark metal is still there but there’s a classic vibe to a killer record with the Metallica-esque Shepherd Of Fire, radio-friendly lead single Hail To The King and the classic–era Guns N Roses snarl of Doing Time providing an instant triple-shot of titanic stadium-ready tunes.
Epic anthem This Means War is Sad But True shamelessly rebooted but that’s no bad thing. A7X have tapped into the power of the Black album’s breathtaking bravery and created their own piece of ferocious metal history. Stunning stuff. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Kings Of Metal
BEST OF THE REST
Houston’s self-titled debut caused quite a stir on the AOR scene with its carefully crafted tribute to the genre’s 70s heyday – all luscious melodies, choruses dripping with heavenly sweetness and an utter disregard for 2010’s ‘on trend’ rock sounds.
Fast forward to II and the band’s trail-blazing retro cool has been copied, condensed and carried forward by peers inspired to follow suit. Houston’s response is a record that dazzles – commercially driven keys underpinning an album that channels even more of the trio’s inner Journey and Styx.
But if II is a bold play for mainstream recognition – Coming Home and On The Radio have ‘radio single’ written all over them – then the potentially dangerous consequence is that Houston are no longer the strikingly different melody makers who set pulses racing. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Journey II The Styx
Genre: Classic Rock
Referencing Bad Company, Free and Bon Scott-era AC/DC the second album from The Jokers is no laughing matter. If classic rock is your bag you’ll find a sackful of treats within a serious contender for 2013’s album of the year.
Just about staying on the right side of generic, it’s no criticism to pigeon-hole The Jokers as pub rock par excellence. Theirs is the well-rehearsed sound of your favourite Saturday night quartet belting out brilliant original numbers inspired by 70s blues rock classics.
The title track and Sky Line owe a huge debt to the Young brothers while Radio benefits from a laid back Bad Company vibe. Paul Rodgers also looms large over Find My Way Home with its fantastic Free-style refrain. This isn’t just classic rock, it’s classy rock. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 No Joke
Big, chunky southern fried riffs dipped in swamp sludge, monstrous, city levelling grooves, hooks most ‘stoner’ bands would sell their last ounce of weed for… Druganaut’s self-titled debut is a celebration of all things heavy and a real statement of intent from the Newcastle five piece.
Fans of NOLA luminaries such as Crowbar and Down will lap up the likes of Smoke The Dead, while the doom boogie of Carradine’s Closet (a paen to auto-erotic asphyxiation!) and Sex Face are free-flowing booty shakers which will have Clutch-lovers drooling.
Yes, Druganaut inhale some strong influences from the doom, sludge and stoner worlds, but the band are no lazy sub-Sabbath riff recyclers, instead ensuring that every track works as a ‘proper’ song, rather than a collection of downtuned guitar licks. And the formidable vocals of Craig Relf only add further strength to the band’s potent brew.
With an appearance at Hard Rock Hell on the horizon, Druganaut could be moving up to the next level very soon – this superb album will surely help them on their way. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8.5/10 The Drugs Do Work
A lost gem of a recording session, lovingly brought back to life by a certain Mr D Grohl after gathering dust for 25 years, it’s a miracle that Blood! even exists. And given the sheer quality of material on offer here, it would have been criminal to see it remain unreleased.
Because if you want a lesson in hard-edged, urgent and downright furious US hardcore, then Blood! is a must.
Originally recorded in the mid-80s, tracks such as Your Eyes and Sequel see the Santa Cruz legends on blistering form, with their punishing riffs and sharp time changes akin to Black Flag in their Rollins days. Hell, this BL’AST! line-up even saw William Duvall – now fronting Alice In Chains – beefing up their sound on second guitar.
Grohl – a huge BL’AST! fan with roots in the hardcore scene – must have loved mixing this, and he’s done his heroes proud too, capturing every ounce of raw energy.
“There will be Blood!” said Dave. And it was so… Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7.5/10 Having A Bl’ast!
To experience Waheela live is to step into a room that crackles with primal, unbridled energy. So capturing their largely improvised, trance-inducing sonic assault on record is no easy task.
Turn Amber up to 11, though, and you’re almost in that sweaty gig space with them: the album, featuring one track which clocks in at just shy of the half hour mark, is an experience, not just a casual listen.
The North East quintet could easily be shoved into the ‘post metal’ genre by lazy journos (like yours truly). And although they take inspiration from the likes of Neurosis, as well as black metal, doom and noise acts, Waheela exist in a space of their own, making music that sticks a middle finger up to convention.
Amber, therefore, is a flowing, evolving piece of work which is not for the faint hearted or close minded. Vocalist Adam Potts screams like his soul is on fire, dark distorted riffs rear up and crash over thick bass lines and drummer James Porter’s fluid, organic style keeps the hypnotic grooves bubbling away.
Passionate, intense and uninhibited, Waheela show where extreme music can go when the straightjacket’s off. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Amber Nectar
Genre: Death Metal
This Kentucky outfit’s moniker and album title might hint at a straight up blast fest, but there’s a lot more to Onward To Annihilation than meets the eye.
While the band aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel with their tenth full length, the quartet’s violent, flawlessly executed take on death metal has plenty of depth, from the slick time changes of Conquerors Of Dust to the spiked riffery of Battlescarred and the pitch black melodies of the title track.
And then there’s the superb cover of Hypocrisy’s Left To Rot and the curveball of Hold Your Ground, a speed metal rager which suggests a mis-spent youth drinking beers and listening to Judas Priest’s Painkiller.
The product of two decades in the game, Onward To Annihilation is a tight, focused slab of deathly rage… and an album which will give many young whippersnappers a run for their money. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Marching Onwards
American Dream is six-piece Woe, Is Me’s third release and follows hot on the heels of 2012’s Genesi(s).
The five track EP serves as a snapshot of the upcoming third full length album and contains a wide range of musical sounds and ideas
Contained within the 16-odd minutes of music is exactly what fans of the metalcore outfit would expect – heavy riffs, guttural vocals and an aggressive delivery.
But WIS save the surprises for the last two tracks – two ballads that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Magic FM Sunday Love Songs segment. It reveals a surprisingly softer side and might win them some fans who previously thought them too aggressive and hardcore.
Because that’s exactly what the first three songs Stand Up, American Dream and A Voice of Hope, are. Aggressive and Hardcore. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Woe Full
Genre: Thrash Metal
More than three decades into a career built on neck-burning thrash metal and this raw record of Kreator as a force for ear-bleeding brutality is long overdue – arriving a decade after the band’s only previous live album, Live Kreation.
Rammed full of high-octane fan favourites and a few timely surprises, the quality of the axe work is outstanding. Perhaps it’s due to some decidedly patchy vocals, or maybe it’s because they’re always so prominent in the mix, but the duelling guitars of Mille Petroza and Sami Yli-Sirnio give Dying Alive a consistent shot in the arm.
This mammoth collection of metal – audio and video versions are available – is custom made for Kreator fans with Phantom Antichrist and Civilization just two of the many steely treats on offer. If you thought the Essen legends were shot then think again. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Kreating Chaos
Genre: Death metal
The brainchild of guitarist/bassist Chris Milewski, Masada aim to offer something unique to the death metal scene. And this five-track mini album certainly sees them achieve that goal.
It’s awash with warped, convoluted riffing and off-the-wall time signatures, and has an unsettling feel throughout… as well as a pug ugly drum sound.
However, following opener Hideous Cerebral Pulp – a searing DM blast – with a flute-flecked contribution by Clive Jones of 70s occult rockers Black Widow, is a bizarre move that doesn’t quite pay off.
Jones’ track – Fluteotherapy – stands out like a sore thumb (that’s probably the idea) but detracts somewhat from the rest of the material, and would have worked better as an intro, outro, or on another record.
A short opus then, but not particularly sweet. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 3.5/10 Mas-Effect
Genre: Black Metal
2014 marks the 20th anniversary of Satyricon’s doom-laden debut Dark Medieval Times: almost two decades after making a pitch for their unique brand of visceral black metal it’s incredible just how far the Norwegians have come.
Brooding instrumental Natt uses layered guitars to create an atmospheric and stifling soundscape few bands can better. Juxtaposed with Nekrohaven – boosted by an intro that sounds eerily like the original Batman theme tune on acid – these two songs alone prove the dexterity and diversity Satyricon now deal in.
Still relying on the backbone of frontman and founder Satyr and drummer Frost there’s no doubt this is a band benefiting from familiarity and a tight knit loyalty. But Satyricon don’t exist in any kind of comfort zone – this is music composed with confrontation in mind. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Satyricon Artists
Genre: Symphonic Metal
This limp follow-up to 2010’s self-titled debut does nothing to suggest that ReVamp can even begin to challenge the big names dominating the ever-congested female-fronted melodic metal scene.
Stuck somewhere between Kate Bush and In This Moment’s Maria Brink, front woman and founder member Floor Jansen delivers a jarring, vocal mismatch of styles that sit uncomfortably alongside metal that occasionally veers towards the industrial.
Wild Card suffers from a lack of identity, a lack of focus and a painful lack of originality. At her best Jansen is both brilliant and inspiring but at her worst the former After Forever favourite appears to have no idea of her strengths and remains dangerously oblivious to her weaknesses. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 4/10 Wild Thing
Genre: Power Metal/Electronic Metal
As Dark Age hit their stride on the uptempo dance metal of Afterlife it’s easy to imagine the experienced Germans propping up Pendulum and The Prodigy on an arena tour. But whether the Hamburg crew is capable of becoming the headline act remains to be seen.
A Matter Of Trust offers no firm evidence either way. It’s accomplished, slick and will appeal to metal fans across the board. The snarling Out Of Time harks back to Darks Age’s early days with deathly growls given due prominence alongside the cleaner, melodic vocals. It works. And works a treat.
But there’s not enough quality and a glaring absence of originality. Dark Age have drifted along at an unremarkable pace for far too long now – since 2004’s impressive self-titled opus – and efficiency is no substitute for proficiency. Right now that next level looks out of sight. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 A Matter Of Mediocrity
Brilliant opener Hail To The Majesty (Peasants) is trademark Al Jourgensen – boasting the deep industrial groove of a high speed rail line and the genre-defying, in-your-face cockiness of a true rock icon.
That From Beer To Eternity doubles up as a tribute to the late Mike Scaccia makes its positive vibe and wild optimism all the more incredible. Jourgensen was rocked by the sudden death of his band mate last year but immediately holed himself up in the studio to do justice to a series of unreleased gems.
Scaccia would have been proud of the typically upfront and bold album that took shape. Delivered at a breakneck speed and with a rhythm to die for (or die to) this is a killer record – Punch In The Face epitomises the mood as anger crashes head on into bitter irony. If this really is the end for Ministry then what a way to go! SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Beer We Go!