And this week we focus on exciting newbies Prosperina and Starset.
There are new releases from Nightingale (pictured) and Primordial.
Plus we check out Brant Bjork And The Low Desert Punk Band.
And we run the rule over new music from Cripper and Thomas Giles.
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: Post Grunge/Stoner/Doom
No second album syndrome here then. Welsh wizards Prosperina have filtered raw potential into proven quality on the eagerly anticipated follow-up to Faith In Sleep. With sweeping melodies, affecting lyrics, heavy rhythms and lightbulb moments this is a brilliant showcase for British rock.
Gethin Woolcock oozes confidence throughout. Powerful delivery, pin sharp diction and the foreboding tone of an individual one step away from channelling Ozzy’s inner angst ensures Prosperina’s frontman remains the centre of attention.
But it’s a battle that’s not easily won. Yotin Walsh and Owen Street are as accomplished a rhythm section as we’ve encountered in 2014 – think Kirke and Fraser with cathedral-sized bells on.
The decision to add fret melter Chris Dean to the live mix has already paid dividends where Harness-Minus’ best material is concerned: channel Chase The Throne through your hi-fi and then imagine its aural threat through a massive speaker stack. Prosperina take no prisoners. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Hot Pros-pects
BEST OF THE REST
Where Greater Men Have Fallen doesn’t boast quite as many jaw dropping moments as Primordial’s titanic 2007 opus, To The Nameless Dead or 2011’s Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand. It takes longer to absorb, longer to seep into your soul. But in no way does that make the Irishmen’s eighth full length anything less of a masterpiece.
For pitting Primordial albums against each other is like comparing 80s Metallica efforts, or early 70s Sabbath LPs: they all brim with class, incredible musicianship and a unique spirit that captivates and enthrals.
On Where Greater Men Have Fallen, AA Nemtheanga proves once again that he’s one of metal’s finest vocalists, delivering a towering performance on the title track especially. And the elements which make Primordial so powerful are all here in abundance: their ability to infuse sweeping, black metal guitars with Irish folk melodies; the drama which accompanies every song (feel your hairs stand on end as Nemtheanga bellows “traitor!” on The Seed of Tyrants); and their talent for delivering on an epic scale. Listen to Wield Lightning to Split the Sun, with its soaring leads, and you’ll get the picture.
Another triumph then… but did we expect anything different? Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 True Greats
Genre: Stoner Rock/Blues Rock
This bold blast of sun-baked desert rock is so laid back it’s possible to imagine Bjork and his buddies recording Black Power Flower in a state of semi-consciousness. Yet somehow a cerebral creativity shines through the scuzzy riffs, doom-laden hooks and grizzled, frazzled vocals.
Boasting a CV to make pretenders to the stoner rock throne wilt with self-doubt, Bjork could be forgiven for trading on past glories. That he has crafted something new and exciting, without ever betraying his roots, is testimony to this most adventurous of multi-instrumentalists.
The brilliant Buddha Time (Everything Fine) is like Lynyrd Skynyrd covering Kyuss: it really shouldn’t work but the Southern Rock groove is infectious.
And there’s much, much more where that came from. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Brantastic
There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with Cripper’s brand of thrashy, gutsy metal. The quintet’s delivery is passionate, Christian Bröhenhorst and Jonathan Stenger’s axework provides a meaty accompaniment to Britta Görtz’s lacerating vocals. But the Hannover outfit’s songcraft sadly does little to make them stand out from the crowd.
If more of Hyëna was like the excellent Bloodshot Monkey Eye, Cripper’s fourth album would be a far stronger proposition, but when you’re operating in the same space as Machine Head, Lamb Of God et al, tracks like Animated Flesh and 7” simply don’t cut the mustard. You’ve heard it all before, quite frankly.
Admittedly, Cripper’s thrashier moments – Patterns In The Sky for example – are spirited and should be a blast live. However, they don’t do enough to give Hyëna the bite it desperately needs. Disappointing. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5.5/10 Behind The Pack
Genre: Progressive Rock
Anyone who’s been paying attention to the virtually peerless Between The Buried And Me over the past few years will know what a talent their vocalist/keyboard player Tommy Rogers is. So it’s no surprise that the multi-instrumentalist – under the Thomas Giles moniker – has conjured up an album as expansive and intriguing as Modern Noise.
The album is a colourful, wondrous mix of styles, inflected with electronica, Floyd-esque psych, post-rock… hell, there’s even some woozy blues here in the shape of Blueberry Queen – you feel that Rogers could comfortably produce a whole album in that style.
We Wander Lonely, with its gentle synths and simple, machine-beats is a beautiful composition and demonstrates Rogers’ ability to create music which touches the soul, while I Appear Disappear ramps up the rock factor and features a majestic guitar solo. And these are just two highlights: delve deeper and you’ll discover plenty more.
With Modern Noise, Rogers has once again proved that he’s one of contemporary rock’s most inventive songwriters. You need this album in your life. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Modern Art
Genre: Cinematic Rock/Electro Rock
‘Starset is the sonic interzone where fact, science and speculation collide.’
So says the blurb prefacing Transmissions. Cue alarm bells ringing loudly in the ears of critics searching for the substance behind the spin.
Unsurprisingly, given the disaster that is Starset’s dire debut, there is nothing of any genuine musical essence here: it’s generic, messed-up, mind-boggling mush that will have true fans of ‘rock’ running for cover.
Dustin Bates may well be a creative genius but this doesn’t do anything to enhance his reputation as an artistic entrepreneur. Even a Ben Grosse (TSOM) mix can’t save Transmissions from getting lost in the musical ether.
It Has Begun might appear six tracks in but makes you wish Transmissions never had. At least Point Of No Return, the penultimate track, is well placed.
Starset defy classification but not in a good way. Avoid at all costs. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 3/10 Star Trek
Genre: Progressive Rock
Had Chris Rea ever been required to stand in for Bob Catley then this would be the sound captured so perfectly by Swedes Nightingale. It’s Magnum with a rough edge or Rea backed by a proper rock band.
Retribution really is a phenomenal achievement by a band that’s been peddling its luscious progressive sound for two decades. Divided I Fall isn’t a million miles away from what Dare might achieve and the acoustic guitars inspire a more melodic turn from frontman Dan Swanö – like Darren Wharton he’s just as adept at tinkling the ivories as he is being out a top rock tune.
Opener On Stolen Wings and the magical Chasing The Storm Away see Nightingale channel their inner Tony Clarkin with some spellbinding fretwork and rousing riffs. Every song attempts to trump the last one leading up to a thrilling denouement as Echoes Of A Dream drifts effortlessly into the prog rock night.
A genuine treat. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Retro-bution