It’s that time of the week again when we cast a critical eye over the best of the week’s brand new rock and metal.
This week’s in-focus releases include new music from House Of Lords, Beauvoir Free and Trixter.
Plus we turn back time to deliver our verdict on the hippie-themed Magic Bus compilation.
There’s a live outing from Finland’s Erja Lyytinen (pictured) and a solo set from Alter Bridge guitar hero Mark Tremonti.
Plus we review and rate Dew-Scented, Paradise Lost and Light The Fire.
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: Soft Rock
The creative force behind Crown Of Thorns is back and this time they mean business. Jean Beauvoir and Micki Free fought against the rising tide of grunge to craft a brilliant self-titled debut 21 years ago and American Trash revisits that unique and much-missed melodic rock sound in 2015.
This is an album that does what it says on the tin – to an extent. It’s typically American in its tight production, chorus-led pomp and brash enthusiasm but rubbish? No way.
American Class might have been a better choice of title as Beauvoir Free fire off silky smooth soft rock seemingly at will – power ballad Just Breathe is just brilliant and the reflective, Europe-esque Cold Dark December is chillingly good. When the reunited COT duo reveal It’s Never Too Late they have a point: American Trash is proof that their partnership is timeless. She’s A KO is disappointingly weak but elsewhere Beauvoir Free are punching well above their weight. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Free Love
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Thrash Metal
German/Dutch outfit Dew-Scented deserve credit for keeping the thrash flag flying before its recent(ish) revival and for nailing their colours to the mast in the mid-90s, when the scene was at a low. They also deserve credit for albums like Intermination, a punishing, venomous opus filled with vicious ditties like the gloriously-titled Ruptured Perpetually.
Guitarists Marvin Vriesde and Rory Hansen are the stars here, their churning, violent riffs brought screaming into life by legendary producer Dan Swanö, while Leif Jensen’s caustic vocal assault ups the ante even further.
Ok, Dew-Scented aren’t going out-create Kreator and their ilk any time soon – their songwriting isn’t in the same league – but anyone who hankers after a good old fashioned, heads down thrash album will lap up Intermination. And with a cover of Repulsion’s Radiation Sickness thrown in too, you have a recipe for total carnage. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Determination
Ever since they re-embraced metal with 2002’s Symbol of Life, Paradise Lost have been wooing fans old and new with a steady stream of finely written, majestically dark albums.
However it’s their more wrinkled acolytes who may appreciate The Plague Within the most. For it sees the return of vocalist Nick Holmes’ trademark growl, rarely heard since 1992’s Shades Of God. Perhaps it’s the influence of Bloodbath, the death metal band he now fronts, which is responsible. And there’s even a hint of Gregor Mackintosh’s crusty side project Vallenfyre on show too – especially in the guitar sound. Whatever the reasons for the Yorkshiremen’s more extreme direction though, it works – and arguably brings a freshness to Paradise Lost that’s been lacking recently.
That’s not to say the Plague Within rejects the last 20 years of the band’s evolution, far from it. The dark, mournful melodies that we know and love still run through tracks like Sacrifice The Flame. It’s just that on the likes of Cry Out, a magnificent song powered by a doomy groove and Punishment Through Time – a more mature cousin of Shades’ Pity The Sadness – the quintet remind us that their core is still a ball of molten British steel.
Classy, crushing and delivered with firey intensity, this is one plague worth catching. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Plague Bearers
Combining electronic dance music with hardcore or post-hardcore sounds isn’t a particularly new thing but it hasn’t yet permeated through the world of heavy rock and metal in a way that other crossover genres have.
However, with bands like Quasar and The Qemists, it is slowly gaining more traction – and an album like Lost At Sea from Light The Fire can only help to accelerate that growth.
When done correctly, using EDM and having a dubstep type breakdown adds real impact to the music, and Light The Fire really nail it with #IDoItForTheHatchets and Touch Her, Kiss Her.
But they don’t compromise on the nuts and bolts of their genre either: Jeff Gunter lets lose with plenty of dirty vocals while Felix Lopez and Seth Davis combine to unleash the type of heavy riff associated with genre leaders like Funeral for a Friend.
Lost At Sea is only an eight-track whirlwind of an album but it’s a ride certainly worth taking. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 On Fire
Genre: Hard Rock
Myles Kennedy’s increasingly fruitful partnership with Slash continues to marginalise Alter Bridge at a time when the post-grunge heroes are in their prime.
AB guitarist Mark Tremonti’s spirited response to a potentially awkward situation is Cauterize – an edgy record that kicks off in bullish fashion. Opener Radical Change allows the rhythm section of former Submersed tub thumper Garrett Whitlock and Wolfgang Van Halen to come down hard on those critics who had predicted something a little tamer. Four songs in and there’s still no let up.
Tremonti might appeal to the Shinedown crowd but his talent is such that this album transcends America’s favourite brand of polished hard rock. A guitarist’s guitarist, his decision to lead on vocals doesn’t dilute some of the finest fret burning of the year.
A Download Festival main stage set should help spread the word: Mark Tremonti is the man. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Trem-endous
Genre: Hair Metal/HardRock
Trixter’s self-titled debut, spawning minor hit Give It To Me Good, couldn’t have been worse timed. Sandwiched in between Nirvana’s Bleach and Nevermind, the 1990 release was all about partying, women and rock and roll excess – just as the tide was turning against the trend for bubblegum metal.
Their potential cruelly nipped in the bud, it seemed the New Jersey mob were destined to become a footnote in glam rock history. But 2012 comeback New Audio Machine made significant waves and Human Era might well be the band’s best album yet.
Founder members Pete Loran (vocals) and Steve Brown (lead guitar) lead the charge with a level of enthusiasm normally the sole preserve of men half their age. The Whitesnake-fuelled Soul Of A Lovin’ Man is sensational but opener Rockin’ To The Edge Of The Night and power ballad Midnight In Your Eyes are equally rousing highlights. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Era Defining
Billed as ‘three CDs of huge hits from the hippie trail’ it’s unlikely Magic Bus is the first of this week’s new releases that the rocker in your life will consider worth his or her hard earned cash. It should be.
This package might look like it belongs with your dad’s flares and his Woodstock ticket stub (and it probably does) but there’s some seriously heavy shit going on here. Deep Purple, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steppenwolf, Procul Harum and The Grateful Dead fly the flag for balls-to-the-wall riffage but they sit neatly alongside classics from Buffalo Springfield, The Band, Cream and Bob Dylan to create a brief history of the music that shaped hard rock and heavy metal.
Of course you need to sit through Peter, Paul and Mary, The Hollies, Donovan and Elton John but it’s worth it. And everyone loves the Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations…don’t they? SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Bus Pass
Genre: Melodic Rock
James Christian is, without doubt, one of the finest practitioners of melodic rock on the planet and House Of Lords continues to provide Mr Robin Beck with the perfect platform to put his supreme talent out front.
It’s more than a decade since the Californians did the decent thing and reformed but it’s only since the release of 2011’s Big Money that they’ve been able to recreate the glory days of 1990’s Sahara. Last year’s RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Precious Metal confirmed this is a golden era for Christian and co. and Indestructible builds on the momentum.
There’s the Robert Plant-meets-Aerosmith tour de force that is Pillar Of Salt and the hard rock fury that cuts through the frantic 100mph. Call My Bluff borrows an Hysteria-era Leppard riff and multi-vocal chorus to triumphant effect while power ballad We Will Always Be One is cheesier than a box of Wotsits – which is why it’s a bona fide winner.
House Of Lords might sound like a load of old blokes who belong in the past but Indestructible is a future-proof classic. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Lords Of Rock
Genre: Blues Rock
Finland – a land of fir trees, reindeer, long summer nights and wide-eyed Vikings. It’s also a nation that boasts a veritable feast of music: a cultural and stylistic melting pot that continues to spawn acts as sublime as they are surprising. Blues rocker Erja Lyytinen is a powerful case in point.
A deep, sultry vocal introduces Fred McDowell’s It’s A Blessing before Lyytinen original Let It Shine offers a strident snapshot of what this multi-talented slide guitar specialist is all about. If blues can be upbeat then here’s the evidence – there’s an infectious, urgent groove to a tune that announces a new star to the legendary 100 Club.
Leaning heavily on her successful The Sky Is Crying album – a tribute to Elmore James – the technical prowess and passionate delivery underpinning Hand In Hand and Dust My Broom create a delightfully heartfelt atmosphere inside a venue stepped in rock folklore.
Lyytinen might be a new – and unusual – name on the blues rock block but it’s a name that demands familiarity. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 See The Lyyt