And today we mark the return of spooky Dave Grohl-produced ghouls Ghost!
We check out the latest long player from Liv Kristine’s (pictured) Leaves Eyes.
And there’s new music from GWAR plus reissues galore: Orchid, Savatage and Lost Breed are all given a timely pre-Christmas reboot.
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: Hard Rock
Savatage never evolved into a truly powerful commercial force but record sales don’t always tell the whole story where creativity is concerned. And 1991’s Streets: A Rock Opera remains a classic of its time – on a par with Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime as a compelling progressive rock album par excellence.
Rebooted for 2013 – as the final piece in the earMUSIC reissues jigsaw – this is the definitive version of Jon Oliva’s conceptual masterpiece, featuring the original narrations and a powerful remix.
Repackaged with a DVD of the band’s favourite promo clips – including the awe-inspiring Jesus Saves from Streets – if you’re late to the Savatage party then there’s no better time to take a peak.
The jury’s out where the narrated parts are concerned: each track is separated by a spoken-word interlude that occasionally works and frequently grates. But there’s no doubting the quality of Oliva’s songwriting with a series of hard rock classics (Jesus Saves, You’re Alive and Heal My Soul) representing Savatage in all of its overblown pomposity.
With bonus tracks, live classics, unreleased material and Oliva’s exclusive liner notes, nothing’s been left to chance where this final, fabulous reworking of Streets is concerned. A triumph. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Streets Smart
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Occult Rock
Readying themselves for the big time, the mysterious rock troupe that is Ghost have hooked up with Dave Grohl to release their first material for new label Spinefarm.
The Foo Fighters’ frontman is, by all accounts, a big fan of the men in masks and his deft touch has instantly transformed the nameless ghouls into a truly frightening commercial prospect.
Opener If You Have Ghost is slick, verging on the poppy. Yet Grohl’s mission is, by no means, to devalue the band’s USP: there’s still an abundance of weird as well as a whole lot of wonderful here.
Four studio tracks and a live version of Secular Haze make for a neat and timely package. Ghost are only going to get bigger and Grohl’s patronage is possibly their biggest weapon yet. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Grohl’s Ghouls
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Liv Kristine continues to evolve as one of metal’s most affecting vocalists. It’s just a crying shame that her band-mates are lagging so far behind.
Symphony Of The Night may as well be a public declaration that now is the time for Kristine to sever her ties with Leaves Eyes and go solo. Such is the lack of obvious artistic progress since 2011’s critically acclaimed Meredead that a parting of the ways may be best for all concerned.
The generic opener Hell To The Heavens and the meandering Maid Of Lorraine is no reflection of Leaves Eyes at their creative best. Indeed 2009’s iconic Njord seems a dim and distant memory during much of Symphony Of The Night.
Kristine’s input ensures there are still more than enough symphonic metal treats to satisfy die–hard fans of the genre. But she’s capable of so much more. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Eyes Left?
Genre: Classic Heavy Rock
Theo Mindell may not have intended to be reborn as the bastard son of Ozzy Osbourne and Blackie Lawless but there’s a nasal snarl to his vocal style that leans heavily towards two of metal’s most iconic frontmen. Mixed with pounding rhythms and soaring solos it makes for essential and addictive listening.
Here the fledgling singer feels his way through Orchid’s first two releases – Capricorn and Through The Devil’s Doorway.
The precursors to this year’s stunning The Mouths Of Madness are raw slices of doom-laden delight and don’t disappoint. Sabbath fans will appreciate the sense of history even if they baulk at Orchid’s brazen duplication.
Hints of Zepelin and Pink Floyd will pull in the pure classic rockers with the percussion, in particular, evoking memories of the golden age of 70s heavy rock. The Mouths Of Madness is the place to start where Orchid is concerned but the prequels are still pretty special. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Orchid You Not
Gwar have been shocking the establishment and splattering audiences with fake bodily fluids for more than 25 years – mind boggling isn’t it?
The costumed maniacs lost one of their number – guitarist Flattus Maximus (aka Cory Smoot) – in 2011, and this album is, in part, a tribute to the late six stringer. Their former band mate would no doubt be proud of their efforts, with Gwar’s 13th full length packed with trash thrash stormers like the ultra-catchy Bloodbath and the punchy, hardcore-influenced Madness At The Core Of Time.
Whatever you think of Gwar’s taboo-smashing/downright daft stage act, there’s no doubt the self-styled ‘Antarctic rock gods’ can play, and new guitarist, Pustulus Maximus (probably not his real name) is a more than capable replacement for Smoot.
Battle… certainly isn’t exactly the most mature album you’ll ever hear, but who said metal had to take itself seriously all the time? Grab a beer and turn it up to 11. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Gwar-Metal
The Evil In You And Me, originally released in 1993, isn’t quite a forgotten classic, but as an exercise in Sabbathian groove, mixed with good ol’, weed smoking, booze swigging hard rock, it’s a winner.
Clearly influenced by The Obsessed – it’s no surprise to learn that Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich was once Lost Breed’s frontman – the band’s debut is a rich in big, fat, loud riffs, the kind of riffs that don’t need a ‘doom’ or ‘stoner’ tag to prove that they’re pretty darn heavy.
Some of the songcraft on display is rather fine too: King Of Electric is simple and gloriously effective, while the full-throttle Storm Comes Down sounds like the LA-based outfit spent some time hanging out with Lemmy and chums.
A welcome re-issue, The Evil In You And Me deserves its new lease of life. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Rare Breed
Not content with re-releasing Lost Breed’s debut (see above), Shadow Kingdom have also recovered this gem from mid-1990s obscurity.
The quartet’s second effort is a (slightly) doomier affair, with tracks like The Gears carrying a heftier clout than much of The Evil In You And Me. However, like its predecessor, it still really, really rocks, and the likes of Simulator would provide a nice soundtrack to a Sons Of Anarchy Motorcycle Club hoedown.
Pay Lydon’s vocals are especially potent here, his gritty tones doing serious justice to B.A.C. and Going Strong especially, and adding to the raw, streetwise vibe of Save Yourself.
Anyone with a penchant for Saint Vitus, Clutch, Gibson SGs and a few beers needs to check this, and the band’s debut, out: they’re certainly too good to be left gathering dust in the vaults. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Something To Savour