And this week there’s the usual mix of heavy, light and everything in between.
We check out brand new music from Stonewire and Philm.
There’s the latest release from Neonfly and we check out rising US star Lauren Strange (pictured).
We deliver our verdict on Obtruncation. Plus we review and rate new music from Ulver, The House Of Capricorn and Sinners Burn.
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: Blues Rock
The British Blues Pills? It’s a bold claim but Stonewire’s accomplished debut is more than a match for the best that Elin Larsson and co. have to offer. Mixing throaty blues with dyed-in-the-wool hard rock hooks, When The Crow Flies is a soaring endorsement for homegrown bands looking for a break.
Singer Sky Hunter might be at her passionate best letting rip on brooding, slow-burning opener Walk The Line but the versatile ace in the Stonewire pack is equally adept handling a heart-rending ballad. In fact even after she’s powered her way through 11 soul-searching tunes the feeling is that Hunter’s only warming up. The Sky’s the limit.
Lead single Favourite Bitch fuses trad blues with an angsty refrain and if it’s not the most affecting song here it still packs a startling punch. Stonewire know how to make an impression but it would be wrong to judge the quintet on this confrontational attempt at causing a stir. They’re better than all that.
Blues Pills might have cornered the market for female fronted heavy blues but Stonewire are poised to take their share. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Stone The Crows
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Alt Metal
Within seconds of the album coming into life, the ferociousness nature of Dave Lombardo’s patterns are there to see, and you are instantly drawn into this intricate metalwork. Taking a step away from the highly polished approach of modern day music, the trio have left the album very rough around the edges, giving it a 70s punk like finish, making it angrier and full of passion.
With their rough approach, Nestler’s vocals lack the focus that would have come from a more polished album, however this only adds to the album’s infectiousness. Tracks like Lion’s Pit and Silver Queen really highlight his vocal ability, while a number of prolonged solos allow him to show off his technical axe skills.
From start to finish, this album is so well put together it feels like turning it over to play anything else would be like cheating on a great record. Rough, raw, and rhythmic from start to finish. Adam Keys
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Total Philm
Genre: Black Metal
Ulver may have abandoned their black metal roots many moons ago, but this formidable box set is a reminder (if it was needed), of just how important the Norwegians’ early music was to the genre’s development.
Boasting the classic trilogy of 1994’s Bergtatt, 1995’s Kveldssanger and 1996’s Nattens Madrigal, as well as the band’s 1993 demo Vargnatt and a 4-track rehearsal recording featuring material from Nattens Madrigal, the package has something to offer to both long-standing fans and those poor souls still unfamiliar with Ulver.
It’s fascinating to hear the rehearsal tracks alongside the work they evolved into, and to experience the early charm of their demo material, which always hinted at the progressive animal that Ulver later became.
There are so many masterpieces to delve into on Trolsk Sortmetall that it’s impossible to list them all – Capitel II: Soelen gaaer bag Aase need, Nattens Madrigal’s III, the beautiful acoustic instrumentals of Halling and Utriese… these are just some of the highlights.
A veritable feast of music – from lulling melodic passages to raging black metal – this box-set is the perfect anti-Christmas present. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Back In Black
Genre: Death Metal
There have been a spate of death metal comeback albums in recent years, with Carcass, At The Gates and Massacre all proving they can still cut the gory mustard.
However, it’s fair to say that Abode Of The Departed Souls, Obtruncation’s first full length since 1997, has not attracted as much pre-release hype as Surgical Steel or At War With Reality – and it doesn’t exactly mark the Dutch act’s return with a bang either.
This release is a brutal affair – and when the quintet indulge their thrashier side (Scourge Of A Dying World, Callous Concept) it is perfectly enjoyable. Unfortunately, the songwriting is at times, uninspired and the arrangements overly complex: with tracks like Soil Of Disease, Obtruncation sound like they’re trying to shoehorn as many ideas as possible into one song. Indeed, much of Abode Of The Departed Souls lurches from one passage to another, without ever settling into a groove.
They may be ‘old school’, but Obtruncation still have lessons to learn. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 4.5/10 No Soul
Missing Pete Steele? Sick of waiting for a new Danzig album? The House of Capricorn will provide some much needed sustenance. For the Kiwis are adept at making dark, menacing music which is so cool it hurts… and Morning Star Rise really, really rocks.
You’ll hear echoes of Type O Negative in the brooding, doomy Ashlands or the lengthy closer, Dragon Of Revelations, while elsewhere – such as on the phenomenal Light Of Lucifer and the black metal spiced Our Shrouded Kings – the New Zealanders hit the accelerator and make some glorious, foot to the floor devil music. Put simply, they know how to write great, catchy songs that beg to be played loud – and isn’t that what rock ‘n’ roll is about?
Why The House of Capricorn aren’t much bigger than they currently are is a mystery, but with Morning Star Rise, this hellbound trio should be on the up. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Star Performance
Genre: Death Metal
Now on album number four, Sinners Burn show no sign of deviating from their straightforward, crunching death metal assault – a sound that’s clearly takes its influences from the early Swedish DM scene, as well as Brit legends Bolt Thrower.
Sadly their relatively simple compositions – while punishingly heavy – lack the spark to make them truly ignite. There are exceptions – Sweet Stench Of Death mixes NWOBHM with melodeath to great effect, Burned from Inside boasts lacerating riffs backed by remorseless, stomping rhythms – but the stand-out moments are few and far between. Even Darker Than Black, which starts promisingly, lets itself down with a turgid chorus.
If meat and potatoes death metal is your thing, Disturbing Creatures might be worth a bite. Otherwise, you’ll have to look elsewhere for a taste of something imaginative. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Luke Warm
Genre: Country Rock/Classic Rock
Two EPs into a fledgling career and it seems remarkable that Lauren Strange already comes across as supremely confident, self-assured and on the fast rack to superstardom.
But the rising star of the Nashville scene has been wowing the music business since the age of nine and nothing appears beyond this Memphis belle.
Three tracks barely seem enough but opener Johnny’s pop rock drive, the indie-styled grit of Runner and the country rock of set closer Say Yes offer a short but eminently sweet showcase of Strange’s considerable potential.
Mastered by John Netti (Rival Sons), the mix of high production values and prodigious talent make for a compelling snapshot of a future star. Say yes to Lauren. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Strange Brew
Genre: Melodic Metal/HardRock
Flammable riffs, molten hooks, choruses doused in heavy duty hard rock fuel and a vocalist the spit of Stryper’s Michael Sweet make for a mightily impressive return to the fray from London’s new metal masters.
If opener Whispered Dreams comes across just a little too ‘Dragonforce’ then once Neonfly hit their stride there’s more of a Sunset Strip swagger and the melody of Empire-era Queensryche about this assured quintet.
Rose In Bloom captures frontman Willy Norton at his emotive best while six minute-plus Chasing The Night hints at what’s still to come from the Dennis Ward-produced melodic metallers.
Twenty-five years ago acts like Neonfly made it big the world over, fusing burning ambition with a super-cool approach to their songwriting craft. In 2014 success doesn’t come so easy for bands of their ilk but Strangers In Paradise is proof that Neonfly simply won’t settle for second best. It’s time to take a chance on the Big Smoke’s next big thing. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Neon Knights