And today we deliver our verdict on The Answer’s (pictured) latest tilt at rock and roll glory.
There’s new music from Santa Cruz and a hard rock blast from Motor Sister.
Plus we review and rate new releases from Árstíðir lífsins, Karyn Crisis and Keep Of Kalessin.
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: Classic Rock
The Answer. Admit it, we all thought they were. At least to the question ‘where are classic rock’s new heroes?’. But it’s been a rocky old road for a band once deemed exciting enough to open up for AC/DC on the global smash that was the Black Ice tour and a quartet blessed with the most charismatic frontman since David Coverdale.
Unsurprisingly Cormac Neeson is in imperious form on Raise A Little Hell – the in-your-face antidote to New Horizon. A RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 record, the band’s 2013 release received a lukewarm response and failed to dent the top 40. Who knows why?
Should this uplifting addition to The Answer’s classic rock canon suffer a similar fate then the UK’s music buying public can be accused of committing the most heinous of crimes against good taste and red hot talent. This is, quite simply, as good as it gets.
The first four tunes set the mood but it’s on side two of the limited edition purple vinyl where the bar is raised. The Zeppeliny Last Days Of Summer segues into the wonderful, stripped back Strange Kinda’ Nothing (Neeson OWNS this song) before I Am What I Am offers a bullish response to the doubters with its supercharged singalong chorus.
The Answer have always sounded like the saviours of rock and roll. Now they sound better than ever. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Hell Yeah!
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Hard Rock
Reputedly recorded in just two days, this raw and emotive masterpiece sounds like a rock and roll record really should.
Risen from the ashes of Mother Superior, at the behest of that band’s biggest super fan Scott Ian, Motor Sister are all about balls-to-the-wall, sleaze tinged, punk-inspired, guitar-fuelled, amplified adrenaline.
Despite the swift turnaround it seems nothing has been rushed where Ride is concerned. Anthrax shredder Ian is in full-on retro mode as he fires out monster riff after monster riff and the bluesy refrain of This Song Reminds Me Of You sounds like vintage Cream…until the killer outro kicks in.
Fool Around references classic Aerosmith and Head Hanging Low has more than a hint of Tom Petty at its heart. And that’s no bad thing.
Don’t stop at gutsy opener A Hole because this remarkable record specialises in throwing up surprises all the way through to set closer Devil Wind. Wow. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Sister Act
Genre: Norse/Black Metal
Sung entirely in Old Norse-Icelandic and dealing in Scandinavian history and myth, this double album is an epic journey – and one that requires plenty of patience.
Árstíðir lífsins’s third effort, Aldafoðr ok munka dróttinn is hugely ambitious, taking in Viking and black metal, classical instrumentation, chants and spoken word passages, and is imbued with a sense of melancholy and foreboding throughout.
The Icelandic/German act have the talent to match their musical vision that’s for sure, with tracks like Kn?rr siglandi birtisk á lön boasting both beautiful acoustic work and rousing, double bass driven riffs: the band’s ‘problem’ is that their compositions are so sprawling, with so many interludes and diversions, that it’s difficult for them to sink in… even after repeated plays.
That said, Aldafoðr ok munka dróttinn will go down very nicely with a late night tipple in front of a roaring fire, with a blizzard howling outside. And for dedicated fans of Norse metal, it offers plenty of riches. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6.5/10 Saga Holiday
Genre: Occult Metal
Karyn Crisis has had some career: screaming for hardcore band Crisis at CBGBs in the mid-90s, dropping music for painting and leathercraft, living in a haunted house in Italy with Ephel Duath guitarist Davide Tiso (where she was taught by the ghost of an ancient Italian witch, Aradia) and moving to San Francisco in 2009 to reignite her musical career.
Salem’s Wounds is the result. Featuring Tiso, plus members of Immolation and Tombs, it’s a tour de force for Karyn, whose remarkable vocal range is demonstrated by the seductive strains of Omphalos, the menacing incantations of Father and the screams and growls of the title track.
The band also step away from ‘traditional’ retro-flavoured occult rock by employing ambient passages on tracks like The Secret, although there are plenty of doomy riffs peppering the album too.
However, Salem’s Wounds drags in places and sounds like a culmination of many years of ideas thrown into a cauldron – with mixed results. But when it hits home (Pillars for instance), this debut does weave some magic. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6.5/10 Witch’s Brew
Genre: Extreme Metal
Six albums into a fine career, Keep Of Kalessin have forged one of their best works yet in Epistemology. The Norwegians have always excelled at bringing a sense of grandeur to their black/thrash metal assault, however their work has rarely felt as focused, as downright majestic, as what you’ll find here.
Playing at hyperspeed, yet still conjuring music that sounds like the score to a Sci-fi epic, the Trondheim outfit are at times, breathtaking – The Grand Design, for instance, truly lives up to its name, a superbly written song which punches through the stratosphere, while Dark Divinity, reminiscent of earlier albums like Armada, sees Obsidian C unleash some scorching fretwork, from quick-fire BM riffery to stunning, melodic solos.
Quite possibly Keep of Kalessin’s definitive opus, Epistemology is proof of what a band can achieve by constantly improving and refining their sound… and confirms the trio’s status as virtuoso musicians in the extreme metal scene. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8.5/10 Playing For Keeps
Genre: Hair Metal/Sleaze
Four singles in and it’s finally time to hear the full package as Santa Cruz bid to build on the momentum sparked by 2013’s Screaming For Adrenaline. Forget the sleaze – this self-titled expletive fest presents the fiery Finns as downright dirty: those easily offended look away now.
Quite why the band feel the need to pepper so much of Santa Cruz with the F-word is uncertain. It’s not big, it’s not clever and it doesn’t do the Scando stars’ credibility any favours whatsoever.
Beyond the foul-mouthed blasts there’s some bloody good music. We Are The Ones To Fall – introduced to live audiences last year – still sounds like the feisty, fist-pumping anthem Motley Crue have been searching for since the late 80s. And stirring set closer Can You Feel The Rain proves the band has put in the hard yards in a bid to hone its previously patchy record writing ballads.
Stick Santa Cruz on a stage and they always deliver. Stick the cute quartet in the studio and it seems they still struggle for consistent quality. This is a record as lopsided as it is lively but when the energy is focused few new bands do it better. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Santa Suite