REVIEWS – NEW MUSIC
There’s a heavy flavour to today’s top tunes with Vampire, I Am Heresy and Ancient Ascendant leading the charge.
Slovenian rockers Tide look to make inroads on the UK market and there’s new music from Issues, Nothing and Villains.
We run the rule over Angra‘s latest live album, Bong‘s answer to rock and yet another melodic metal record from Freedom Call.
Plus we run the rule over Ogre and atmospheric Aussies Jupiter Zeus (pictured).
Every Sunday we reveal the RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK and round up the very BEST OF THE REST.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Hard Rock
Fusing Foo Fighters’ groove with U2’s grandiose production, Slovenia’s Tide is turning – into a seriously affecting act.
Wave after wave of classy riffs, confident melodies and visceral vocals make for a masterful collection of modern rock. Beloved by the Balkans’ faithful and looking to break out beyond the continent, Tide are drowning in potential.
Released across Europe last year, the only question on the lips of the RUSHONROCK team was ‘why haven’t we heard this before’ as belting bitter-sweet ballad Love Is Gone and the atmospheric Awakening prompted even the most cynical hack to sit up and take notice.
Four albums in it’s not as if Tide are new to the rock game. But they’re new to a market that was made for the band’s arena pretensions and radio-friendly anthems. They’ve supported Slash, Maiden and Uriah Heep but it’s high time the UK’s rock community supported Tide. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Tidal Surge
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Alt Rock
It takes a certain courage to abandon a band after they have toured with acts like Enter Shikari and Mallory Knox, and have played at festivals such as Download and T In The Park.
That is what the guys in Villains, formerly Never Means Maybe, have done. It might be that all they have done is give the project a lick of paint and a clever rebranding – or it might be an admission that a fresh start was needed.
Whatever the reasons behind it, Villains by Villains is an excellent debut release by the Essex five-piece.
The Way I Tell Them and Wicked Ways set a tone of infectious lyrics and heavy, alternative punky guitar riffs.
And there is hardly a weak link throughout all 10 songs, and it’s clear that Villains have used the seven years of experience gained with Never Means Maybe to create a debut that sounds more like a polished second or third album. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Villains Of The Piece
In the modern world no one gets time to be successful, especially in music. If you do not produce top quality straight away, you will not be given the time to make poor records just because you have great potential.
Record labels want success straight away, no one gets the opportunity Springsteen had in the 70s before the release of Born To Run.
This record is one that is incredibly frustrating to listen to. From the off, you can see the tremendous potential these talented musicians possess and yet what they have produced is an instantly forgettable record.
This is a record purely for music fans, the kind of album that a non-fanatical follower would dismiss in an instant. To music fans, these albums are usually a real treat but Guilty Of Everything contains no standout features from start to finish. Nice to listen to, but too much work to really feel what’s going on. Adam Keys
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Nothing Special
Issues have followed a rather turbulent path to their debut album. They have undergone four line-up changes in their short history, the most recent of which saw drummer Case Snedecor leave the band due to musical differences.
It may well be that those differences stem from the use of the DJs’ decks to create the sort of hardcore electronic sound that could come off early Nu Metal tracks from bands like Limp Bizkit.
Perhaps prophetically titled, Issues dive straight in at the deep end and kicks off their debut with two tracks that don’t have the anger and hate of their Bizkit counterparts but carry more of a regretful tone.
But then again, being emotional is the new cool for hardcore bands and Issues pull it off well.
Fans of aggressive angsty and emotional rock should turn a blind ear, as the fare served up by this Atlanta mob is actually infuriating catchy – especially Life Of A Nine.
The new Limp Bizkit? Probably not, but then maybe they shouldn’t be judged on the performances of Fred Durst and his unique hellraisers. Judge Issues on Issues and they’ll do alright. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Latest Issues
Genre: Doom/Hard Rock
Take the heavier end of 70s rock and mix it with the vintage doom of Saint Vitus and Pentagram and you’ll have Ogre, a Portland, Maine act who embrace retroism like a bosom buddy.
The problem is that their plodding, meat and potatoes metal doesn’t have the groove of their heroes, or boast the riffs that make guitarists like Tony Iommi, Dave Chandler or Victor Griffin such masters of their art.
Vocalist Ed Cunningham’s whine is also an acquired taste, which doesn’t help things… a singer like Wino would surely add more depth to this material. But even then, much of The Last Neanderthal sounds like pub rock rather than stoner rock… and cover version, Soulless Woman (originally by a different Ogre, a 70s bar band) fails to light things up either.
Warpath is probably the best song here, with its Sabbathian strut, but there’s little else to celebrate.
A poor show. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 3.5/10 Neandering
Genre: Black/Thrash Metal
It’s raw, it’s raucous and it really, really rocks. Yes, Vampire wear old school influences on their sleeves – and there’s nothing particularly original on this album – but their debut is full of spiked-gloved spirit, sticking its middle finger up to any notions of progress or technical innovation.
The works of Darkthrone, Bathory, Celtic Frost, (early) Slayer, Possessed et al have clearly shaped what’s on offer here, but there’s also a creepy, gothic tinge to much of Vampire; something especially evident on the likes of The Bestial Abyss. And although the Swedes’ reverb-drenched vocals and retro guitar tones hark back to a simpler time, that doesn’t mean that the quartet sacrifice genuine songcraft at the altar of aggression, as Ungodly Warlock and The Fen clearly show.
An assured, confident and pretty damn ferocious first full length, Vampire is well worth getting your teeth into. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7.5/10 Showing Their Fangs
Genre: Death Metal
In the last decade, British death metal has often lagged behind the rest of the world in terms of producing high-quality acts. Ancient Ascendant, however, are showing what Blighty is capable of and with their second full length, they’ve really proved their mettle.
Drawing on black metal and thrash, but with a dark-hearted, DM core, Echoes And Cinder is a mature, superbly executed album packed with steel-plated riffs and plenty of hair-whipping groove. It’s also an excellent showcase for guitarists Alex Butler and Nariman Poushin’s deft fretwork; the duo can really pack a punch, and the way they bring melodic sensibilities into play on tracks like Fuelling The Flare is a joy to hear.
Break The Binds, the album’s stand out track, is metal at its most exhilarating, but while not every song on Echoes And Cinders reaches its lofty heights, you still get the sense that Ancient Ascendant are well on their way to the top of death metal’s tree.
A significant release for UK metal. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7.5/10 In The Ascendancy
Formed by Boysetsfire’s Nathan Gray (and featuring his son, Simon, on guitar), I Am Heresy produce spirited, passionate music which draws on many influences, but burns with an intensity all of its own.
Thy Will shifts from straight-up, pit-slaying hardcore punk (March Of Black Earth) to more melodic fare, such as the acoustic folk of Alarm, to lacerating noisecore (Rahabh) and vicious, hyperspeed metal (Blasphemy Incarnate).
However, there’s cohesion in the chaos, focus in the ferocity. This feels like a ‘proper album’, rather than just a mish mash of styles… it’s is all the better for it.
And as for Gray senior’s vocal performance… his range and sheer power is something to behold, whether he’s spitting venom over Devour or delivering the anthemic chorus of As We Break.
Thy Will, then, is a triumph, plain and simple, revealing something more with every listen. Play loud. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8.5/10 The Will To Win
Bong’s music sounds like it was created by ancient extra terrestrials, deep below the surface of a primordial Earth, or humanity’s hyper-evolved descendants, cast into some far flung corner of the universe.
During their near ten-year career, the Newcastle outfit have made some of the most incredible, otherworldly doom/drone you’re ever likely to hear … and Stoner Rock is yet another example of their considerable talent.
Clocking in at more than 72 minutes, and boasting just two tracks – Polaris and Out Of The Aeons – Bong’s new opus is a journey to the outer limits, and is so heavy it could pull the solar system into its own black hole.
Whether you enjoy this album will depend on whether you ‘get’ this band or not – a single, monstrous chord played through an entire track isn’t for everyone. But for the enlightened, Stoner Rock is a chance to worship at Bong’s altar once again. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Smokin’
Genre: Power Metal
Brazil’s answer to Iron Maiden have a blast celebrating their breakthrough album in the company of thousands of fist-pumping fellow countrymen.
There’s no avoiding the comparisons with the world’s premier metal act as new boy Fabio Lione and co. do their very best impression of Eddie’s muckers with magnificently over–the-top arrangements, layered riffs and jaw-dropping showmanship.
Appearances from Tarja Turunen, Uli Jon Roth and Brazilian string quartet Familia Lima add to the sense that this is a special show by a special band. The title track from Angels Cry kicks things off in fine style and the pace remains unrelenting throughout.
Massive in South America, big in Japan and pretty popular on mainland Europe, Angra are doing ok. With Lione on board they should be aiming to do much, much better. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Angra Management
Genre: Melodic Metal
Taking their lead from the melodic German metal of the late 80s and early 90s – fans of Helloween and Gamma Ray have long since warmed to this classy quartet – Freedom Call celebrate their 15th anniversary in typically optimistic fashion.
Age is just a number where these boys are concerned and one spin of Come On Home (fourth up here and a fantastic singalong classic) is enough to put a smile on the face of the most battle-weary metal head.
Generic? Maybe. Predictable? Certainly. The most fun you’ll have with one CD? Could well be. Vocalist Chris Bay has a happy knack of singing every note like he loves every aspect of his rockstar life and the wildly enthusiastic singer sets the tone for Freedom Call’s fun-packed approach to melodic metal.
Yet the title track – an epic tune clocking in just shy of eight minutes – is taking it too far. Bay and the band should know their limits by now and Beyond goes further than is really necessary. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Cry For Freedom
Genre: Psychedelic Rock
Guaranteed to delight the doomsters, pique the interest of the post-grunge crowd and make the odd metal fan sit up and take notice there’s no doubt that the psych-rock community will claim Jupiter Zeus as their own.
Spaced-out, fuzzy, fantastical rock is what these mind-bending Aussies deal in best and On Earth is far from it – this meandering album belongs in another world.
Divinity, with its doom-laden vocal and piercing guitar solo, is the pick but it’s easy to get lost in any number of Jupiter Zeus’s myriad aural mazes. At times this is so good it could give early Graveyard a run for their money. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Not Of This Earth
I’m a journalist specialising in sport and rock music. Can’t play either so I write about them instead.