Almighty star Ricky Warwick goes head to head with the might of Heaven & Hell this week as we look ahead to the best of tomorrow’s releases – today.
The workaholic Ulsterman releases his latest stab at solo salvation in the shape of the barnstorming yet stripped down Belfast Confetti while Tony Iommi and Ronnie James Dio unite again to unleash some frankly spooky metal on the masses.
Plus there’s a look at a new (at least to us) US outfit called Noxious – can this hard hitting quintet really kick up a stink in the rock world? Wait and see…
Heaven & Hell – The Devil You Know (Roadrunner Records)
If you’re hoping for a few surprises from this studio reincarnation of many fans’ fave Sabbath line-up then prepare to be disappointed. There are none. This is vintage Dio-era Sabbath chock-full of haunting vocals, fierce riffs and an unrelenting pace from start to finish.
Men a third of Dio’s age would be proud of what makes up The Devil You Know but does it match up to the new metal movement spearheaded by the likes of Mastodon, Trivium and Machine Head? Songs like lead single Bible Black (somehow sounding very much like Metallica’s The Judas Kiss) and the pounding Double The Pain suggest the answer is an emphatic yes.
Then again lazy fillers like Follow The Tears do nothing to enhance the reputation of these rock giants and there are at least three songs on an otherwise excellent album which don’t do Sabbath justice. If you’re an Iommi fan then head straight to the solos in Rock And Roll Angel and The Turn Of The Screw – both prove the axe hero has lost none of his touch around the fretboard.
But if you’re a fan of Dio, and marvelled at his performance on H&H’s 2007 UK tour, you might just be a little disappointed. For some reason this never comes across as his very best work – this self-produced CD failing to fully showcase the pocket dynamo’s true range.
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Better The Devil You Know
Ricky Warwick – Belfast Confetti (DR2)
Don’t be fooled by Belfast Confetti’s billing as an acoustic album – this is still some heavy shit. Sure the guitars are stripped down and the focus is on the voice but don’t expect David Gray. This is very much a rock album in the finest tradition of Warwick’s former band The Almighty and the subject matter is just as weighty as the record’s grinding riffs.
Perhaps taking inspiration from the ubiquitous Frank Turner, Warwick has found the confidence to deliver the songbook of his youth with all the maturity of a seasoned singer songwriter. Tunes like Thousands Are Leaving and Angel Of Guile are great examples of an artist scaling a creative peak and staying there for the majority of a magnificent musical tour de force.
It’s doubtful Warwick will gain mainstream recognition for what might be his finest work but then that was never the point of Belfast Confetti. This album is about telling a gripping tale at first hand and it’s a story worth listening to time after time.
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Irish Eyes Are Smiling
Noxious – Timbre (Destructist Music)
Now this isn’t entirely new Noxious material – five years after their formation the hard rocking quintet take a stab at reaching a new audience by reworking six classics and adding four new tunes to the mix.
It’s a whole lot quieter than the bulk of their material but it works. Lead singer Hans Wenzel does a great impression of early 1990s Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam as he adds a deep throaty growl to a series of acoustic-led numbers. But this is often nearer a stripped down Nickelback or Shinedown than those grunge masters of the past.
Elements of country and bluegrass add to the mix and Broken is a brilliant fusion of so many styles. Given the right breaks – and perhaps a name change – Noxious could be the next big thing out of the USA. We’ll certainly be keeping tabs on them from here on in.
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Noxious Brew