REVIEWS – NEW MUSIC
And as usual there’s an eclectic mix of every genre of guitar-based music imaginable.
We check out the brand new album from thrash metal heroes Death Angel (pictured) and deliver our verdict on Trivium‘s latest.
There’s new music from Stone Diamond, Bonafide, Radkey and Red Fang.
We review the latest offerings from Gehenna, Rivers Of Nihil, Throne Of Katarsis and Mayday Parade.
Plus we focus on fresh tunes courtesy of Kill Division, Degreed, Symphony Of Pain and Nightlife.
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: Thrash Metal
Once upon a time Death Angel were the fresh face of the burgeoning late 80s thrash metal scene but there was never anything immature about their music. Act III remains a genre classic and yet, 23 years after that iconic release, the classy Californians have never sounded better.
Building up to a mesmerising crescendo following the decision to end a 10-year hiatus in 2001, The Dream Calls For Blood is the culmination of a determined bid to secure a lasting legacy.
Follow Death Angel’s remarkable progress from 2004’s The Art Of Dying thru Killing Season (2008) and 2010’s Relentless Retribution and this imposing album is the natural conclusion to a period of rich creativity.
Caster Of Shame ranks alongside anything this band has ever written while set closer Territorial Instinct/Bloodlust is six-and-a-half minutes of masterful modern metal. The title track is chilling in its intensity and Left For Dead leaves the listener in no doubt as to this record’s vitality – kicking off in style what could be the definitive Death Angel album. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Dream Scenario
BEST OF THE REST
For a while it seemed the day that Trivium lost their edge would never come. The mighty In Waves followed sure-fire hit Shogun and the heirs apparent to metal’s arena-hopping behemoths had finally landed.
Just why Vengeance Falls is a potentially catastrophic wrong turn remains a mystery. Strife is strong on edgy vocals as Matt Heafy sings ‘How I yearn for the silence’. Not us. But then that’s only three songs in.
From that point onwards Vengeance Falls’ swift descent into frightening mediocrity is both alarming and inexplicable. It’s almost as if Trivium felt three belting songs could carry an album’s worth of patchy material.
Villainy Thrives suffers from a truly horrible mix while At The End Of This War uses a second-hand System Of A Down intro before drifting into a generic thrash metal growl. Crisis meeting required. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 4/10 Trivial
Genre: Classic Rock
The individual talent of Stone Diamond’s experienced triumvirate ensures there are moments of pure brilliance on this hotly anticipated debut.
Disappointingly Josh (vocals/guitar), Cy (vocals/bass) and The Tongue (drums/ridiculous names) offer much more than the sum of their parts. As a band they lack chemistry, cohesion and a clear identity.
Flavor Of Tears and Dark Lover demand closer scrutiny and if there is to be a second Stone Diamond album then these are the songs that should blueprint any future work.
Mimi Moo’s vocals enhance the dreamy U Know but evidence of similarly uplifting material is scarce. More rough Diamond than polished Diamond. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Stone Cold
Genre: Hard Rock/Classic Rock
Currently opening up for best buddies and label mates Quireboys across the UK, Bonafide have delivered another adrenaline-fuelled shot in the arm for classic rock.
Bombo’s standout Bad As Clint is typically tongue-in-cheek Pontus Snibb and the colourful leader of this Swedish quartet continues to push the envelope as a songwriter supreme.
Following 2012’s RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Ultimate Rebel would have fazed many more experienced bands but that quality record has inspired an even greater creative triumph.
Better Safe (Than Sorry) and the moody Suburb Baby Blues have been crafted with a keen sense of retro goodness and all those Lizzy, Bad Company and latter day Europe fans out there should buy into Bonafide now. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Exploding Bombo
Genre: Black metal
It has been eight years since Gehenna’s last full length, WW, was released – a long wait for fans of the Norwegian veterans.
Thankfully, Unravel sees the band back and unleashing their own special brand of creepy black metal once again. At times, the opus can seem stuck on trudge-speed and it does require some patience, but once the dark melodies of Death Enters or The Decision get a grip your soul, they won’t let go.
The title track, meanwhile, boasts both blastbeats and a truly magnificent necro-riff that’s straight out of 1993 – a real kvlt classic if ever there was one.
An album that will drag you down rather than lift you up, Gehenna have crafted a challenging, unsettling piece of work with Unravel – and a worthy addition to their unholy canon. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Welcome Return
Genre: Death Metal
As intro/opener Terrestria I: Thaw kicks seven shades of hell out of your speakers, and then plunges headlong into the pummelling Rain Eater, you know you’ve stumbled across something very special indeed with The Conscious Seed of Light.
Rivers Of Nihil’s debut is a technically flawless, armour plated behemoth of progressive death metal, which should put the Pennsylvanians firmly on the map – taking influences from the likes of Morbid Angel and Decapitated, but very much forging their own path, the quintet are serious talents.
Boasting a monstrous sound courtesy of producer/DM legend Erik Rutan, The Conscious Seed Of Light mixes unrestrained brutality (Human Adaptation could level a city) and convulsing rhythms with more atmospheric sections, such as album closer Airless.
Granted, like many modern DM bands, Rivers Of Nihil would occasionally rather employ ten riffs when a couple would suffice, but that doesn’t detract from the sheer might of material on their first full length. All hail the new breed. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7.5/10 Taking Root
Genre: Black Metal
Gehenna’s Skinndod and Sanrabb must have had a busy year, playing on Unravel and also joining Throne Of Katarsis duo Infamroth and Vardalv to produce this otherworldly effort.
Straight from the black metal’s frozen heart, The Three Transcendental Keys comprises a trio of lengthy compositions which combine to form an eerie, funeral march of an album, punctured by the haunting screams of Infamroth.
Recorded live in the studio, the band’s fourth full length has a suitably raw production, and you can imagine Throne… playing this music in a candle-lit crypt, daubed in corpsepaint and intent on summoning up something rather unpleasant.
The Third Transcendental Key could be seen as the album’s peak, boasting a passage of hypnotic, hellish riffs underscored by tomb rattling blastbeats, but in truth this album needs to be swallowed as a whole for its effects to take hold… if you want them to. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Unlocking The Underworld
Genre: Pop Punk
When you write a pop/punk song, you are really only limited to a few subject matters – and the best bands manage to make a career about singing catchy songs about that girl in high school, or that girl that they used to have but don’t have any more.
Mayday Parade are in that bracket.
They are no different from genre buddies such as All Time Low, We Are The In Crowd and The Summer Set. In fact, Monsters in the Closet was produced by the same duo (Kenneth Mount and Zack Odem) that worked with the aforementioned acts.
Monsters in the Closet is a good, enjoyable piece of work. MP might have calmed down with their song titles since 2007’s A Lesson in Romantics, but their sound has pretty much remained the same, if not a little slicker in production, than their debut.
Ghosts, Girls and Last Night For A Table Of Two kick off the record with punchy lines and infectious, happy-go-lucky guitar riffs that show a different side to the guys from Florida – especially on Last Night For A Table Of Two.
There is plenty to be happy about with Monsters In The Closet. Mayday Parade won’t challenge All Time Low’s mantle as pop/punk kings but they are getting close. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Closet Rockers
Genre: Death Metal/Grindcore
It’s a fair bet that Kill Division aren’t going to be providing the backing tunes to a twerking Miley Cyrus any time soon. Soundtracking nuclear annihilation would be a more appropriate use of their talents, as Destructive Force hits hard, fast and incinerates everything in its path.
With a foot in both the death metal and grindcore camps, there’s an obvious comparison with Napalm Death – the neck snapping (and rather fine) Sadistic Oppressor certainly hints at a love for Barney, Shane and co, while the album’s weightier moments are reminiscent of classic Bolt Thrower.
But this trio have plenty of their own songwriting suss to stand on their own two feet, and from the hyperblasts of Fear Of Live to the pummelling Distorted Reality they’ve delivered an absolutely ferocious debut.
Does what it says on the tin? You bet your ass it does! Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7.5/10 Force To Be Reckoned With
Genre: Hard Rock
Scandinavian hard rock is in rude health – no other region seems to be pumping out the amount of quality as the Danes, Swedes, Fins etc seem capable of producing.
There must be something in the water.
But unfortunately with We Don’t Belong, Degreed’s follow up to their well-received debut Live, Life Loss, they haven’t been able to live up to their fellow Scandenavians level of quality.
Opening with Black Cat, the band have a real gem. It sets the pace and shows off the excellent guitar work but it’s a shame that it’s the only song of its type on the record.
Despite the excellent early work, songs like In For the Ride do fall into the cheesy category – something that is easily done but prevents the album from reaching the dizzy heights that they have the potential to achieve.
Access Denied even sounds like something Bowling for Soup would be happy to produce – which means it’s not a bad song, but one that doesn’t seem to fit in with the Degreed mould.
The songs are fairly listenable, but after the good work in Black Cat, they just feel slightly out of place. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Sense Of Belonging
Genre: Gothic Metal
It’s not every day that you would listen to an album that combines the talents of Julian Lloyd Webber’s pianist and a semi-successful (if a quick Google search is anything to go by) heavy metal veteran – but then the world of classic rock and metal is not your everyday scene and stranger things have (probably) happened.
Singer/song writer and multi-instrumentalist Tracie Law provides the majority of the music on the album, as he tackled the drums, guitar bass and keyboard with precision and skill, while Pam Chowhan, the aforementioned pianist, tackles the violin, piano and keyboards.
Hydeology will probably go down at Law’s most successful venture to date, as the songs are all solid enough – especially the new material live Mister Hyde with its chilling violin, Am I Dreaming? and Lonely.
For fans of their previous work, older songs such as Darker Side and Out of my Head have been thrown into the mix for good measure as well. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Pain Full
Genre: Pop Punk
Nightlife are a new band with a wealth of experience – they are a four-piece that have toured Europe and the US with other groups and have come together to self-release their second EP.
Following in the footsteps of their debut EP The Road To Hope and Glory is For The Record, which contains six excellent songs that are endlessly listenable.
Catchy and accessible seem to have been the by-words during the recording process and right from Where I Ought To Be you can tell that this is a band making a big statement.
This will appeal to fans of pop-punk all the way through rock spectrum. Good Intentions brings a heavier sound to the record while Wisdom Teeth takes a leaf out of bands like All Time Low’s endlessly successful book.
Nightlife have put out a statement of intent with For The Record. Keep an eye and ear out of these boys. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Record Attempt
Genre: Punk Rock
Radkey, the male response to those devilish young women from Deap Vally, should enjoy a boost in sales of the darkly effective Devil Fruit EP following this month’s vibrant showing on Jools Holland.
Just what Chas and Dave thought of teenage brothers Dee, Isaiah and Solomon is anyone’s guess but their infectious racket brought an otherwise dull evening to life. There’s clearly something special going on here.
Romance Dawn is a riveting track full of angsty aggression and authentic rock n roll intention while Little Man is a big statement from such a young band. With festival experience under their belts, big-name fans the world over and finally some songs to justify the hype expect the Radkey circus to roll on. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Tasty Fruit
Genre: Stoner Metal
Partial to a bit of High On Fire? Missing the Mastodon boys? Can’t quite get into the latest incarnation of Kyuss? Red Fang could be the band you’ve been waiting for.
There are enough muddy riffs and sludgy vocals here to satisfy the most ardent of Orange Goblin fans but there’s a bite to the Fang that hasn’t always been evident on previous long players.
Still capable of putting a smile on the stoner faces of the most cynical of metal heads it’s clear that there’s a growing maturity underpinning a band renowned for its bizarre, beer-fueled videos and laddish lyrics.
Whales And Leeches is a wonderful exercise in proper metal played at a proper volume with Blood Like Cream a banging example. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Red Alert
I’m a journalist specialising in sport and rock music. Can’t play either so I write about them instead.