REVIEWS – NEW MUSIC
There’s another bumper crop to suit everyone’s tastes with retro rockers The Temperance Movement, pop rockers Tonight Alive (pictured) and punk rockers Green Day leading the charge!
We check out new music from Thought Chamber, Ashes Of Ares and Pinkish Black. And we review and rate new music courtesy of Farewell, My Love, De Staat and Mael Mordha.
There’s a retrospective from Rise Against and the latest releases from Scalpel, Vattnet Viskar, Nephren-Ka and Obelyskkh.
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: Classic Rock
America has Rival Sons and now British fans can revel in the fact that their own favourite sons have truly arrived as flag bearers for the revivalist classic rock scene.
Earache have both bands locked in to their eclectic roster. And a label for so long associated with metal in its most fearsome form is blazing a trail for a new breed of retro goodness.
TTM’s self-titled debut is rich in promise and more than justifies the band’s nomination in this year’s Classic Rock Magazine Best New Band category. Listen to this and you’ll ask yourself ‘can there be another contender?’
Planet Rock favourite Only Friend – the track that broke the band at the back end of last year – sounds fresher than ever while set closer Smouldering perfectly sums up one of the hottest new bands on the planet.
Fans of Zeppelin, Free, Bad Company, Frankie Miller, vintage Whitesnake and, of course, the Rival Sons should delight in a record that will revitalise the UK scene. There Ain’t No Telling just how far this brilliant band can go. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Movement For Change
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Heavy Metal
Imagine Geoff Tate attempting to sing with a sharp object piercing his behind: it’s an unpleasant image and, as Ashes To Ares prove, it generates an equally uncomfortable sound.
Opener The Messenger is a frustrating mish-mash of trad metal styles and the eye-watering vocal is just one of its many irritations. Delve deeper into this self-titled, self-important record and it’s blindingly obvious that Ashes To Ares won’t be grabbing a Grammy anytime soon.
The slower-paced On Warrior’s Wings – all generic acoustica and Tatey, throaty bass – aims for the sky but falls predictably short. Elsewhere Judas Priest could sue for breach of copyright as Ashes To Ares flounder in the search for their own identity. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 4/10 Ares Hole
Genre: Experimental Rock
On the outstandingly bizarre Ashtray Eyes the brazenly daft Pinkish Black come across like David Bowie fronting Muse. That it works is testimony to a band dedicated to using rock as the loose foundation for something far more experimental.
The instrumental intro to Razed To The Ground’s multi-layered title track has latter-day Rush written all over it before sludgy guitars and vocals buried deep in the mix suddenly shift the mood.
Elsewhere the eerie piano ushering in eight minute epic Bad Dreams sets up a nightmare-inducing piece of music that should be approached with extreme caution.
Pinkish Black represent rock’s myriad shades covered in sweeping, unconnected brush strokes of introspective brilliance. And how many bands can say the same? SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Colourful Stuff
Genre: Progressive Metal
In 2013 Inside Out continues to provide dedicated followers of progressive metal with a veritable smorgasbord of tasty new treats but Thought Chamber’s Psykerion could be the label’s most mouthwatering prospect yet.
If the spaced out electronica of Exodus doesn’t quite work then there’s more than enough crazy riffage within this brief instrumental blast to concentrate the minds of budding Steve Vais and wannabe Satches.
Rush meets Death Angel on The Question and the stunning Kerakryps is pure progressive gold with one of the most sweeping soundscapes of the year.
Ted Leonard’s vocals impress throughout as the eagerly anticipated follow-up to 2007’s Angular Perceptions delivers on every level. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Chamber Of Secrets
Genre: Pop Punk
Gaze at the scores of glossy Tonight Alive pics adorning trendy rock magazines right now and it would be easy to dismiss the beaming Aussies as little more than eye candy for the undemanding pop punk generation.
Appearances, of course, can be deceptive. And while Jenna McDougall and her chiseled band mates look great, on this breakthrough record they actually sound even better.
There are still the familiar singalong choruses, hummable riffs and polished pieces of three-minute pop rock but there’s greater depth to this revealing follow-up to 2011’s What Are You So Scared Of?
McDougall is clearly more than a pretty face – lead single The Ocean, fist-pumping punk anthem The Fire and aggressive tear jerker Lonely Girl cast the band’s frontwoman as a feisty rock chic more in the mould of Joan Jett or Lita Ford. Watch this space. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Tonight’s The Night
Genre: Punk Rock
The final word on Green Day’s ambitious punk rock masterwork? Maybe. But in this day and age expect their inventive record label to drain the well dry with another Uno! Dos! Tre! offshoot in time for Christmas…
In reality the kind of content that makes up DVD Cuatro!: The Making Of Uno! Dos! Tre! is the stuff most bands are dishing out for free in regular webisodes via their official sites or social networking arms.
Green Day are not, of course, most bands – and Cuatro! is a fascinating insight into an often arduous recording process – but even their most devoted fans might feel a little miffed at having to fork out again for Tre! and its added extras.
The music here can’t touch the quality of Green Day’s epic American Idiot or 21st Century Breakdown and the DVD doesn’t break much new ground. You have been warned. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Day Off
Primordial have long been kings of the Irish extreme metal scene, and while Dubliners Mael Mordha may fall a little short of dethroning their countrymen with Damned When Dead, they have given it a damned good go.
For, like Primordial, their music is full of anguish and drama, drawing on the traditional music of their homeland and fusing it with melancholic, doom infused metal to stunning effect. Tracks like King Of The English and All Eire Will Quake simply make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, such is their grandeur and ground shaking power, while vocalist Roibéard Ó Bogail’s ‘Sean-nós’ inspired traditional Irish vocal style lifts Mael Mordha’s music to even loftier heights.
Having stepped up to a bigger label for their fifth opus, Mael Mordha should finally get the exposure their finely honed ‘Gaelic doom metal’ deserves – anything less would be criminal, as Damned When Dead is awe-inspiring. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Damn Good
Genre: Death Metal
Taking their musical cues straight from the blood-drenched source of Carcass and Suffocation, Scalpel, as you’d probably expect, deal in brutal, old school death metal. The Boston outfit don’t just go for the jugular on tracks like Skullscraper and Sentinels Of Severed Flesh, they repeatedly plunge a serrated knife straight into it.
Guttural vocals evoke the spirit of the early days of DM, while guitarists Manny Egbert and Taylor Brennan lay down salvo after salvo of downtuned – and downright nasty – riffage, punctuated by some excellent lead work, especially on Ripe, Sorrow And Skin’s opener.
Scalpel’s third album won’t give the recently resurrected Carcass any sleepless nights (unless they check out the US act’s artwork), or indeed, challenge DM’s top division. But if you want a lesson in gore splattered aural violence, you could do a lot worse. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5.5/10 Flesh Wound
All the way from Holland, The Charm The Fury follow up their debut five track EP The Social Meltdown with an equally brutal and transfixing debut album, A Shade of My Former Self.
One of the aspects of TCTF that stands out is the vocals of Caroline Westendorp. Having a female vocalist is hardly a new approach in the world of rock and roll, but narrow down to metalcore and it becomes more of a rarity.
Her voice provides a beautiful contrast with the melodies and riffs of her bandmates – although she does need help when things get really brutal. Heart of a Coward’s Jamie Graham lends a hand on vocals for The Enemy, and Daniël de Jongh of Dutch metalcore outfit Textures features on Colorblind.
That doesn’t mean that she can’t handle the screamo aspects – on Living Saints she creates a noise akin to that of bands of Tear Out The Heart’s ilk.
While originality is increasingly harder to achieve, The Charm The Fury go somewhere to accomplishing that task through the efforts of Westendorp. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Charming
Genre: Alt Metal
Farewell My Love might sound like the type of melodramatic, theatrical band that resemble a poor man’s Fearless Vampire Killers, but for a band whose stylist made a beeline for the guyliner they have a surprising sound.
Part All Time Low via My Perfect Thing, part Black Veil Brides courtesy of Afraid of the Dark and part Versace playing on his rhinestone piano thanks to Angels – FML have engineered an album that is hard to pin to any specific genre.
They bring extravagance and undoubted flair to their debut album, Gold Tattoos, although they sound less edgy then they were probably aiming for.
There is such a thing as trying too hard.
There are good, catchy songs on the album – and its variation does keep the listener interested. Stand out among them is Mirror Mirror and the epic closing tune Queen of Hearts which sounds like it could be an excerpt from an audiobook drama at times.
Not a stand-out-from-the-crowd debut effort, but not a bad one either. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Gold Standard
Genre: Punk Rock
From the first track, Historia Calamitatum to the last, a live version of Bruce Spingsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad that includes Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello – Long Forgotten Songs: B-Sides and Covers 2000-2013, to give it its full and slightly long winded name, is a lesson in how great Rise Against are.
By lead vocalist Tim McIlrath’s own admission the album is crammed with 26 songs that have ‘slipped through the cracks’ at one point, and never ended up on any of their six full length album.
And to have 26 songs of such quality to have slipped through the cracks is a great testament to the skill of the band. A whole range of sounds are represented on the album – so much so that it sounds like a journey through the bands lifetime.
From the Prayer of the Refugee-ish Death Blossoms to the more raw, punk rock sounding Generation Lost, The Long Forgotten Songs is a must have collection for any Rise Against fan. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Against All Odds
Genre: Punk Rock N Roll
Punk rock and roll is back.
Max Raptor’s first proper full length album, Mother’s Ruin, marks a big announcement from the four-piece. An announcement loud enough to wake Johnny Rotten and get him out of bed with the farmer’s wife.
Each song on the album is crafted to make you bang your head and use it to think with in equal measure.
Songs such as England Breathes tackles sensitive areas such as immigration, with the message “England breathes as it does, in and out and get out it.” But Max Raptor do it without sounding patronising or pushy, and therein lies the beauty of the album.
Mother’s Ruin is undoubtedly packed full of quality songs, including the get-up-and-go Evangeline and the powerful, raw Breakers.
But anyone can create a powerful album. Where they really excel is with the subtleties of their music. And that’s why they are going to be huge. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 It’s A Rap
Genre: Alt Rock
Delivered in English, I_Con, by Dutch five piece De Staat, is their first ever UK release – but is their third full length album. Recorded in 12 days, it is a varied and wide reaching piece of work that tests the limit of the word alternative.
The first two tracks, My Bad and All is Dull blend into a bluesy rock and roll – more rock and roll then alternative. The alternative is saved for the middle section, and songs like Make Way For The Passenger and Input Source Select showcases the bands alt rock nature.
Put simply, I_Con is an album that constantly surprises the listener, and keeps them guessing.
But better than that, it’s a good album – and one that will leave De Staat’s new English fans wishing that they released the other two over here as well. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Staatment Of Intent
Like many acts inhabiting the 2013 doomosphere, Obelyskkh write punishing, granite heavy riffs that, while highly effective, can’t quite match up those unleashed by the masters of this genre. However, that doesn’t mean this German quartet have produced a dud in Hymn To Pan. Far from it, in fact.
This album has more than a whiff of psychedelica about it, and fuses low end rumble with lighter, more atmospheric elements that make tracks such as The Ravens intriguing propositions.
Like Neurosis , Obelyskkh also have a knack of knowing when to hold back and when to drop a big old, moss covered slab of a riff, and like Sleep (for whom Hymn To Pan’s producer, Brad Boatright, one twiddled the knobs), they are adept at locking into repetitive, head nodding grooves: Horse being a prime example.
If Pan’s paying attention, he’s sure to dig this record…Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Monolithic
Genre: Death Metal
Named after an insane Pharaoh and playing intense death metal awash with double bass drum blasts, you wouldn’t bet against Nephren-Ka being fans of US death metal legends Nile – which is no bad thing.
The French quartet, whose debut is inspired by Frank Herbert’s Dune saga, are certainly a tight, focused outfit. However, they don’t match of the levels of inhuman technicality reached by Nile, or similar bands who inhabit a similar corner of the DM universe, and their songwriting – the excellent Praise Shai-Hulud aside – is solid but not quite there… yet.
Fall Of Omnius also suffers from a muddy mix that doesn’t allow Sébastien Briat’s dexterous axework to shine in the way it should.
But gripes aside, Nephren-Ka are clearly a talented bunch who have plenty of time to improve, and this first full-length is a decent start. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Sandstorm
Genre: Black metal
US black metal has been gaining more and more momentum in recent years, and Vattnet Viskar are another fine addition to the scene’s ranks.
The New Hampshire act’s debut has a melancholic, BM core, but post-rock and doom influences shine through too, making for a varied, considered piece of work that belies the fact that the band are still in their embryonic stage: opener New Alchemy is a case in point (and lives up to its name), evolving from furious, dark BM into a mellower, more atmospheric piece akin to Isis, while the first segment of Monarch brings to mind Glasgow’s mighty instrumentalists Mogwai, before blasting off into the sunset… or across the frozen tundra.
Granted, the slower, more wistful parts of Sky Swallower tend to drag, but overall, this is a confident, assured and challenging first full length from a hugely exciting band. Watch them soar. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7.5/10 Sky’s The Limit
I’m a journalist specialising in sport and rock music. Can’t play either so I write about them instead.