Today’s featured bands include Glamour Of The Kill (pictured), Dream Theater, Starship and Within Temptation.
There’s new music from Eyes Set To Kill, Tyr, Windhand, Anneke van Giersbergen and Ulcerate.
Plus we review and rate Wolvserpent, Stranger By Starlight and Taxi Violence.
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
One Direction for the metal masses? The UK’s answer to Avenged Sevenfold? Bullet For My Valentine’s bastard sons? Glamour Of The Kill are all of the above and more – making Savages a sensational statement of intent.
It’s five years since the band’s Download main stage set caused serious ripples but waves of adulation and a deluge of record sales never quite followed. Now the York mob finally boast the record that will seal their long overdue transition from kids with potential to serious players.
It’s ironic that Second Chance just happens to be the finest song here. After the damp squib that was 2011 debut The Summoning, GOTK have come out fighting with a polished long player crammed full of modern metal anthems.
Heartbreaker is a headfuck of a love song and Live For The Weekend is a bona fide, fist-pumping party starter. Killer stuff, from start to finish. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Glamour Model
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Progressive Metal
Almost two years to the day since A Dramatic Turn Of Events saw Dream Theater drifting into an unfamiliar and alarming comfort zone and this self-titled beast of a progressive metal record suggests the slump is over.
Fresher, fiercer and more focused than ever before, an album built on John Petrucci’s trademark flair bursts into life with the rousing symphonic pomp of instrumental opener False Awakening and never looks back.
The thrash metal riffage underpinning standout Enemy Inside reinforces DT’s metal credentials just as the intro to Enigma Machine, apparently plucked from a Roy Budd soundtrack, is a timely reminder of this band’s expansive confidence.
The Bigger Picture sees James Labrie in peerless form juxtaposed alongside a simple piano melody and this is an album of joyous variety. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Dreamland
Genre: Alt Rock
She’s Dutch. She’s beautiful. She can sing. And Anneke van Giersbergen is even the favourite muse of metal pioneer Devin Townsend. What’s not to like about this multi-talented, chic rock chick?
Well, this derivative album, for starters. Drive isn’t her best work. Not by a long chalk. Solo album number five is disappointingly generic and does nothing to promote van Giersbergen’s unique talent.
On Treat Me Like A Lady she comes across like a female Serj Tankian but a potentially strong vocal is buried by a muddy mix. And if striking piano ballad My Mother Said casts the singer songwriter in an altogether mellower light it’s a brief flash of stripped down brilliance.
Drive had the potential to be so much more than this car crash of an album. Forgive Me, sings van Giersbergen, midway through this unconvincing set. Sorry, we can’t. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 4/10 Van-ity Project
Genre: Post Hardcore/Alt Metal
The Rodriguez sisters have always been a pretty potent partnership. The addition of Cisko Miranda’s driving rhythm guitar and guttural vocals make their band an even more intriguing proposition.
Eyes Set To Kill launch into their Century Media debut in typically ferocious fashion as title track Masks makes the case for a full-on metal assault. But there’s more melody than ever before on the most assured ESTK album to date.
Killing In Your Name sounds like 80s NWOBHM legends Girlschool given a reboot for the Pro-Tools generation while Lost And Forgotten affords this ambitious quartet the perfect opportunity to showcase their wide-ranging skillset.
Masks is the sound of a band making rapid progress. What follows next will be fascinating. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Eyes Opener
Nothing was gonna stop Starship 25 years ago after the Jefferson Starship offshoot scored a global number one hit and confirmed their status as AOR royalty.
The band that had ‘built this city’ in 1985 appeared to have strong foundations but potential fractures have never been far away from frontman Mickey Thomas and his revolving doors line-up and by the early 1990s this was a band in decline.
Starship have never gone away but Loveless Fascination suggests that this time they’re here to stay. The band’s first original material for years mixes latter day Europe’s bluesy rock (It’s Not The Same As Love), the synth-led AOR sheen of How Do You Sleep? and the Maroon 5-esque pop of the sugary sweet title track.
Given a break – and the respect Thomas’s back catalogue deserves – Loveless Fascination could provide the platform for a full-on comeback. Here’s hoping. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Ship Shape
Genre: Black Metal/Doom/Drone
There are parts of Perigaea Antahkarana where you feel like you’re being pulled into a pit full of grasping, demented fallen souls, or being cast into an empty, pitch black void: Wolvserpent’s ability to paint dark pictures with their music is truly incredible.
The Idaho outfit’s influences are rich and varied – the latter stages of Within The Light of Fire, for instance, bring to mind the bleak industrialism of Godflesh, while the duo’s classical background is brought to bear on In Mirrors Of Water, a shimmering, twilight soundscape with haunting strings that eventually evolves into a black metal mind-bender.
However, rather than turn Perigaea Antahkarana into a mass of splinters, Wolvserpent’s tangle of musical roots coalesce sublimely, producing an album which demands you tune in from start to finish… you know, how you used to listen to records before the shuffle button came along.
Awe-inspiring work, and not for short attention spans. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Serpent’s Lair
Genre: Death Metal
Ulcerate are about as far away from easy listening as The Saturdays are from a headline slot at Bloodstock. For the New Zealanders take the essence of death metal and sculpt it into contorted, anguished new forms, paying no heed to songwriting convention.
In a genre known for worship of the ‘old school’ (with early 90s Entombed particularly in vogue), or aimless technical wizardry, it’s good to see a band like Ulcerate create something genuinely disturbing, jarring and, well, original.
There’s an underlying feel of horror to tracks like Clutching Revulsion and The Imperious Weak that many DM bands couldn’t produce, no matter how hard they tried, and the Auckland outfit share much in common with black metal experimentalists like Deathspell Omega, who don’t as much throw away the rule book as burn it to a cinder.
Vermis, then, isn’t an album to ‘enjoy’ necessarily, but open minded extreme metallers should nevertheless delve into its depths. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 No Pain No Gain
Genre: Doom Metal
As soon as the lowdown, fuzz fried riff of Orchard – Soma’s opener – lumbers into life, you know you’re in for a treat. A treat in the shape of an epic, almost mystical slab of psyche-doom which deserves serious attention.
Windhand certainly aren’t mucking about with Soma, an album which is sonic nirvana for those raised on Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus and The Melvins, a masterpiece full of ground shaking riffs, chaotic leads and tripped out grooves… plus some great, acid-infused hooks (see Woodbine or Feral Bones).
Asechiah Bogdan and Garrett Morris’s seismic guitar tones could give Electric Wizard a serious run for their money, while Dorthia Cottrell’s haunting vocal style gives the Richmond, Virginia quintet a distinctive edge over many of their contemporaries.
And although the mid-album lull of Evergreen, a wistful acoustic piece, shows off the band’s versatility, their folky side is quickly forgotten when the hulking behemoth of Cassock rumbles out of your speakers.
Want a definition of doom in 2013? Look no further than Soma. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Hand Of Doom
Genre: Folk Metal
Hailing from The Faroe Islands, Tyr are one of the more intriguing acts in the folk metal scene –Heri Joensen’s vocals draw straight from the traditional music kept alive on their homeland, giving the band an authenticity many plastic sword wavers can only aspire to… check out the rousing melodies of Valkyrja’s Grindavisan if you want a prime example.
Now on album number seven, they’re a polished outfit as well honed as a hairy Norseman’s blade, and although this opus veers into cheesy territory at times, especially on The Lay Of Our Love (a collaboration with Leaves Eyes’ Liv Kristine) Valkyrja is still an album with plenty of fire in its belly; Terji Skibenæs’ axework is particularly impressive, with plenty of NWOBHM gallop and soaring leadwork.
Plus, there’s an awesome cover of Iron Maiden’s Where Eagles Dare here too – never a bad thing to pay tribute to your influences, whether they ride around on longboats or jumbo jets… Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Ride Of The Valkyrja
A collaboration between Eugene S Robinson, vocalist for US experimental noise rockers Oxbow, and English composer Anthony Saggers (aka Stray Ghost), this album could be the score to a late night tax ride through the avenues of a dark, urban underbelly… where the streets filled with despair and danger lurks in the shadows.
Chalk White Nights sees Robinson – as an intense a frontman as you’ll ever see – produce an incredible performance which bleeds with emotion, from the brooding spoken word passages of The Last Days Of The Sinner to the howls of album closer, A Black Cat.
And Saggers provides an intriguing palette for the vocalist to work with, building tension with his ambient noir soundscapes – An Organist being a prime example – or taking us even deeper into the night with the jazz leanings of Beautiful Boy With A Stone.
Best enjoyed with a glass of red wine then, preferably in the early hours… Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7.5/10 Night Vision
Genre: Rock N Roll
Taxi Violence, from Cape Town in South Africa, are a wonderfully uncomplicated bunch. They play clean rock and roll with beautiful, slightly gravelly lyrics and on their third album, Soul Shake, they sing songs about seizing the day, being in love and God.
But that lack of complication does not mean a lack of musical talent or that they have created a bland album – in fact it means the opposite. Every song is well constructed and played with proficiency, from the opening lines on Brainmash – the almost bluesy rock track – to the more energetic Aint Got the Time (But I Got The Moves).
While South African rock in general won’t have had much of an impact on the musical conscience anywhere outside their home continent, the local scene is thriving through bands such as Shadowclub and Zebra and Giraffe. Taxi Violence only add to that well deserved local reputation.
You may never have heard of Taxi Violence before – but all that should change. Now. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Taxi For Violence
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Two of the queens of symphonic metal team up to treat fans to a taster of Within Temptation’s forthcoming album and expect heavy rotation to follow the release of this chorus-driven anthem.
Sharon den Adel and Tarja Turunen turn an average tune into a killer cut but who would predict anything else?
Of greater interest to long-term fans of WT will be the demo versions of three songs slated to feature on the Dutch band’s as yet untitled follow-up to 2011’s The Unforgiving.
Let Us Burn marries a crunching rhythm with a dazzling den Adel vocal while Silver Moonlight’s suspect mix will surely be sorted ahead of its final release. Dog Days is a haunting tour de force more than worthy of the Within Temptation name.
And if this EP was an exercise in raising levels of expectation ahead of the album release it’s job done. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Tempted?