Your essential reviews section is back with an old beast repackaged and re-released, a new North East quartet capable of taking their innovative hard rock to the next level and a round-up of the latest batch of Frontiers records which you might have missed earlier this month.
Yes Metallica are on a roll right now and the vinyl re-issue of their finest work to date – …And Justice For All arrived at the rushonrock offices this week in all of its four-disc glory. And if we needed our appetite whetted for their March 3 show in Newcastle we’re now well and truly hungry for more…
Wow. And let’s just say it again. Wow! There are certain bands and certain albums which demand time to dissect in the most minute detail. Metallica and this, their groundbreaking commercial breakthough, is a case in point. And there’s no other way to assess such a seminal work when almost every song requires stepping up to the turntable, carefully flipping a hefty slab of vinyl, and settling down again.
The Shortest Straw and Harvester Of Sorrow excepted, each track on this incredible album is granted its own side. Listening to this version of …And Justice For All therefore requires a certain patience but all good things come to those who wait. And it’s not long before we have to wait for One – a legendary opus we have used these pages to praise before. And we’re going to do it again.
Because on this heavyweight vinyl, played at 45rpm, one of metal’s greatest works sounds more essential, heartfelt and magnificent than ever. This is a song made for this format and the only danger is you’ll become addicted to replacing the needle time after time and missing out on the gems which follow.
And talking of which, Harvester… is still one of the best and bleakest tracks in the Metallica back catalogue as it aggressively chugs its way throigh more than six punishing minutes. But does it top To Live Is To Die? We think not. It’s a lot to ask for one final flip and a listen to the below par Dyers Eve but it has to be done. And when the final notes of that clinical closing track drift into the dark night you know you’ve just experienced something very special on a format which deserves to live on.
rushonrock rated: 10/10 The Vinyl Frontier
This North East four piece remain on the list titled ‘future stars’ but surely their blend of 70s power, 80s sleaze, 90s doom and 21st Century swagger will catch on soon? If not then we’re going to eat our Slash-alike hat and wonder exactly what a band has to do these days to gain widespread recognition and global fame.
This self-financed six track EP is still rough around the edges but then anyone who’s witnessed vocalist Jen and her crew before will claim this is part of Remedy’s charm. It’s difficult to imagine polish being added to tunes like Last Demand and Sacred Deep Inside and either staying true to their garage rock roots.
Jen does have a touch of Janis Joplin about her uneasy growl but it’s a lame comparison to make when across all six songs she demonstrates enough verve and versatility to stamp her own mark on the world of rock vocals. Remedy aren’t quite unique but they’re almost there and they even held the Quireboys’ crowd for 30 minutes at last December’s sold-out Academy show. Strange Fast Now doesn’t tell the whole story but check out Jen and her guys live and you’ll start to get the idea.
rushonrock rated: 6/10 Strange Fast Improving
And finally this week we thought it was about time those good folk at Italy’s superb Frontiers Records got a decent stab at persuading you to part with your hard-earned cash in February. As always it won’t take much with the first three albums off the label’s 2009 roster delivering a typically classy mix of melodic hooks and heavy hits.
9 Degrees West Of the Moon by Vision Divine is a delicious little exercise in hard rock pleasure from founder Olaf Thorsen (guitars) and Rhapsody frontman Fabio Lione. Letter To My Child Never Born and Angels In Disguise are the standout songs to download now but the album as a whole is a winner (ror rated: 7/10). Then there’s Skyscraper, the outstanding new record from the Steve Augeri-fronted Tall Stories. Sadly the shocking artwork will deter the casual buyer flicking through the CD racks as we speak but behind that amateurish image lies an album full of professionalism and depth. Check out Stay and Original Sin if you need convincing that Augeri stil has what it takes post-Journey (ror rated: 8/10). And completing this week’s Frontiers hat-trick is Now Is The Hour from Places Of Power – and it doesn’t only rhyme, it rocks! This collaboration between Bruce Turgon and Philip Bardowell (Foreigner, Shadow King, Lou Gramm) is a melodic rock must – check out I Live For You if you need convincing (ror rated: 8/10).