There’s a slew of heavy sounds courtesy of Abysmal Dawn, At The Gates and Anaal Nathrakh.
We check out new music from Bush, Crobot, Bulletrain and Angels Or Kings (pictured).
There are reissues courtesy of Kiss and the Quireboys.
Plus we deliver our verdict on Forever Came Calling, Gates and Devin Townsend.
Every week 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
Had Myles Kennedy snubbed Slash (as if) and fronted Scorpion Child the end result would have sounded uncannily like Crobot’s second long player.
The pumped-up Pennsylvanians produce heavy rock par excellence – their commercially tinged riffage likely to enamour fans of Blues Pills and Graveyard as much as AC/DC and Clutch.
The subject matter can spill over from the sublime to the ridiculous on the sci-fi epic-themed Something Supernatural but the occasionally daft lyrics are only part of a compelling package.
Get over the fact that frontman Brandon Yeagley (now there’s a name and a half) is singing about Le Mano de Lucifer and the Skull Of Geronimo (!) and it’s easy to drown in the superior sounds of Crobot at their sonically charged best.
Don’t even think about coming up for air. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Cro Blimey
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Death Metal
With new albums from Cannibal Corpse, At The Gates, Entombed AD and Autopsy unleashed this year, death metal’s old guard are making their presence felt in a big way, and now Floridian legends Obituary have joined the fray too.
Inked In Blood, their ninth full-length, bears all of the band’s trademarks – the massive, grime coated riffs of Trevor Peres, John Tardy’s inhuman grows, the unmistakable, heavyweight groove – and it’s proof that the grizzled veterans can still knock out a great death metal tune.
The churning stomp of Violent By Nature is one of the album’s many highlights, harks back to Obituary’s classic early albums, while Visions In My Head, with drummer Donald Tardy on particularly fine form, pummels you into submission before slowing down and allowing Kenny Andrews’ leadwork to flourish.
Granted, Inked In Blood can’t match the deathly charm and dark, claustrophobic atmosphere of Slowly We Rot, Cause Of Death or The End Complete – but it builds considerably on their post-reformation output… and gives many newcomers a run for their money. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7.5/10 Bloody Good
Genre: Death Metal
As pioneers of the ‘Gothenburg sound’ At The Gates’ impact on death metal, metalcore and indeed, much of the USA’s extreme output over the last two decades, cannot be understated . So the sense of excitement surrounding At War With Reality – the quintet’s first album in 19 years – has at times, reached fever pitch. Could At The Gates pull off another masterpiece like 1995’s Slaughter Of The Soul? Could they still sound relevant?
On first listen, At War With Reality, feels more diverse, more mature than their early 90s work. Some of its tracks, such as The Night Eternal and Order From Chaos, lack the immediate impact of Terminal Sprit Disease or Slaughter… era material. However, they are finely crafted songs nonetheless and really bring the Swedes’ melodic sensibilities to the fore.
Look elsewhere, though and you are straight into the white hot furnace of ‘classic’ At The Gates: the title track is absolutely furious, with Anders Björler and Martin Larsson peeling off a slew of scorching riffs. Conspiracy Of The Blind continues in the same way, with a fist pumping chorus topped by Tomas Lindberg’s venomous rasp.
Yes, At The Gates have grown up and evolved. Yes, they’re offering something different here. But long-time fans, as well as a new generation, will surely appreciate this band’s sheer class and incredible musicianship. Welcome back boys. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 War Cry
Genre: Extreme Metal/Grindcore
Over the last couple of albums, there’s been a suspicion that Anaal Nathrakh’s well of inspiration might be running dry.
Desideratum doesn’t just allay those fears, it completely vaporises them. Ok, the Brummies’ eighth full-length does not come close to the duo’s game-changing debut, The Codex Necro, or the nuclear firestorm of 2006’s Eschaton. But one listen to Unleash or Monstrum In Animo and you’ll hear a band with renewed vigour, an outfit whose mission to soundtrack Armageddon is still well on course.
Anaal Nathrakh’s industrial elements are more prominent on Desideratum, there’s a greater range of material than we’re used to, and a wider palate of riffs, from the melodic to the necro to the downright deathly. However at the album’s core is a maelstrom of black metal, grindcore and crust punk which obliterates everything in its path. Indeed, few musicians can come so close to the edge of chaos, yet appear so single-minded and focused, as messrs Hunt and Kenney, and their unique brand of extremity makes songs like Rage and Red and Sub Specie Aeterni (Of Maggots, And Humanity) absolutely thrilling.
A stunning release from one of the UK’s finest extreme acts, Desideratum needs to be heard. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8.5/10 Rakh Magic
Genre: Death Metal
Los Angeles mob Abysmal Dawn are one of death metal’s hottest properties at the moment – listen to Obsolescence and you’ll realise why. The quartet’s music is not particularly original, but they are adept at blending brutality with technicality and their fourth album is brimming with passion for their dark art.
Inanimate rocks with a chugging, mid-paced groove, Perfecting Slavery attacks you head-on with a whirlwind of catchy riffs, The Inevitable Return To Darkness slays with pace and power… and it’s all flawlessly executed too.
Abysmal Dawn do fall into the trap of trying to fit too many ideas into one song – a common theme with modern death metal – but on the whole, Obsolescence is a fine piece of work, and an opus which, with patient listening, offers plenty of treats for extreme metallers. Plus, as a bonus track, there’s a storming cover of Dissection’s Night’s Blood to round things off with too… never a bad thing. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Dawn Of The Dead
Genre: Post Grunge
Does the world really need another album’s worth of dreary post grunge fare from a distinctly average band that simply refuses to die? Probably not.
But Gavin Rossdale is determined to unleash the Bush beast one more time by way of ‘celebrating’ 20 years as a commercially successful if critically derided outfit.
Man On The Run might not even be it. Worryingly, there could be more Bush albums on the way.
But for now let’s take solace in the fact that this is only their second record in 13 years. Unlucky for some.
The frustrating thing is, The Gift and This House Is On Fire hint at some kind of artistic revision of the Bush brand. But all too often on Man On The Run, the predictable Rossdale reverts to type.
If you’re not a Bush fan this won’t convert you. And if you are, then why? SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Prickly Bush
Genre: Rock N Roll
In stark contrast to the lavish three-disc, treat-laden Black Eyed Sons, this single disc reboot of the Quireboys’ 2001 ‘lost classic’ somehow lacks the wow factor as far as long-time fans of the band are concerned.
The music, of course, is killer as Spike delivers every last note with a mixture of steely determination and angry reflection – peaking on the superb Seven Days and the colossal Coldharbour Lane.
But with no revealing insert explaining the history behind this album – or those responsible for its conception – there’s a gaping hole that all credible reissues should seek to fill in the face of digital music’s relentless advance.
Perhaps the plan was to focus on the tunes. The title track says it all about a band risen from the ashes and set closer Never Let Me Go hints at the bright future that followed this popular reformation.
There are added extras: four Quireboys’ classics re-recorded by the current line-up and produced by Chris Tsangarides earlier this year confirm the band’s ascension back to the brink of rock’s big leagues. Misled sounds just as good now as it did in the late 80s but the ‘new’ band sounds even better. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Boys’ Own Story
Genre: Melodic Rock
At the outset of the 1990s British melodic rock was on the verge of a golden era with Dare, FM, Shy, Jagged Edge et al poised sell bucketloads of records to an MTV generation with money to burn.
Angels Or Kings were ready to join them, armed with the hooks, the looks, the ambition and talent to burn. But grunge claimed far bigger scalps than A.O.K. and the bullish Brits were swiftly swept aside.
Two decades on – and with new singer Baz Jackson leading from the front – the band has delivered the album that finally fulfils their obvious potential. This is polished AOR that’s more than a match for the revitalised FM and Darren Wharton’s born-again Dare.
A Harder Place allows Jackson to fuse finesse with power and the sweeping keys that usher in the impressive Ice Turned To Rain reveal Steve Kenny to be the real ace in the A.O.K. pack. Ballad Real Life is a little weak but overall this is classy stuff. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Kings Of AOR
Genre: Rock N Roll
It’s hardly a surprise that Kiss have seized upon the year of their 40th anniversary to dig deep into a bulging back catalogue and add a new gloss to their shinier releases.
2014 has already seen remastered vinyl reissues, yet another Greatest Hits package, a mammoth US arena trek alongside Def Leppard and the premier of an American Football-themed reality TV show.
But there’s more. This neatly packaged reworking of Love Gun serves up a slew of previously unavailable versions of familiar tunes across two discs and includes liner notes from Leppard’s Joe Elliott. It’s a nice touch within what is a very nice addition to any Kiss fan’s Kollection.
But it wasn’t too long ago that you get your hands on a single disc edition of the remastered classic and it’s still available for half the price. So the question is this: how much are four versions of the title track and Elliott’s words of wisdom really worth? SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Gun Ho
Genre: Sleaze/Hard Rock
Bulletrain’s story is one of a revolving doors line-up that almost cost the band it’s tilt at success. But Start Talking could represent the chapter that ushers in a period of stability, steely focus and an exciting fresh start.
There’s more than a hint of Motely Crue’s Kickstart My Heart around the intro to All For One but it works an absolute treat with echoes of Bulletboys (surely no coincidence?), Warrant and Ratt making for a rousing Sunset Strip-flavoured anthem.
Bulletrain might be a band out of time in so many respects but they’re bound to have cast an envious eye in the direction of Reckless Love, Dynazty and Crash Diet in recent years and fancied a piece of the action.
Cheesy ballad Even With My Eyes Closed is so contrived it’s brilliant – imagine Winger meets White Lion given a Steel Panther sheen. There’s no doubt Bulletrain have what it takes to evoke teary-eyed memories of the hair metal scene’s excessive peak but they can be so much more than a carbon copy of the genre’s fabled heroes. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Talking A Good Game
Genre: Post Rock
A real post rock gem from this slow burning New Jersey five piece. Having formed in 2010, the band haven’t rushed themselves to get this album on the shelves, taking their time, working on their sound and finding their rhythm before unleashing a incredible piece of music that you could find yourself completely lost in.
Imagine Thirty Seconds To Mars without the gimmicks and theatrics. Imagine if they stripped themselves down and focused on the music? Gates’ ability to dictate tempos through a beautiful vocal/guitar partnership allows for an effortless build up, before a wall of energy is released.
Almost in spite of this, the album’s real standout comes in the form of Nothing You’ll Miss, a track that is stripped right down to the bare essentials, allowing Kevin Dye’s whispering vocals to reel you in and feel every breath of a magical track.
This is just the beginning for Gates and judging by this there is much more to come. Adam Keys
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Bloomin’ Heck
Genre: Pop Punk
What Matters Most is one of those albums that you can put on at any point and feel like you’ve heard it 100 times before. The reason for that is not that it’s an overly catchy album but more because it sounds like a group lads who grew up idolising Blink 182, Sum 41 and New Found Glory and decided to make an album that sounded like an amalgamation of the trio.
While tracks such as Mapping With A Sense Of Direction and Indebted do offer a sense of authentic pop punk sound, they also sound like track that could be plucked off any early naughty’s pop punk classic.
Over the last few years questions have been asked as to whether pop punk is still relevant and those who deem it out of touch can surely use this album as a backup for their argument.
No genre is ever truly dead provided the artists continue to grow. But when new bands are coming out and producing carbon copies of their heroes it a sad day for everyone involved. AK
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6.5/10 Forever Pop Punk
Genre: Progressive Metal
Where Devin Townsend is concerned fans have been conditioned to expect the unexpected and the sharp contrast between opener Rejoice‘s stark, industrial tones and Midnight Sun‘s mellow progressive structure says it all. Before V2 is three songs old the album has already thrown up more questions than most artists on the metal spectrum are able to ask in their entire career.
If A New Reign comes across like New Order doing rock then it’s a rare wrong turn on yet another absorbing and cerebral offering from Townsend. One of the premier creative forces in heavy music, the multi-talented singer songwriter has never lacked bravery and the occasional misstep is a small price to pay for those seeking blind ambition.
Universal Flame is, perhaps, more familiar fare but even here Townsend manages to add a Pet Shop Boys gloss (and AOR-flavoured solo!) to a shiny burst of symphonic metal. It’s weird and yet, like so much of this musical pioneer’s best material, it works. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 V2 For Victory