paparoach1Men of the moment Papa Roach show their softer side this week with the release of acoustic EP Naked And Fearless and it’s fair to say Jacoby and the boys have come up trumps again.

But in another great week for rock there’s serious competition from fellow Downloaders Dream Theater and Pendulum. Plus we check out the latest effort from perennial Brit faves Magnum and the surprise package of the week in the shape of melodic Swedes Baltimoore. For full reviews read on…

papa roach nakedPapa Roach – Naked And Fearless EP (Interscope)

Right now there are certain bands who can do no wrong and, remarkably, nu-metal noiseniks turned serious rock contenders Papa Roach fit that bill. In sparkling form on the back of brilliant new album Metamorphosis the boys have shaken off their mid-decade malaise to prove they can play a part in taking metal forward.

An incredible acoustic version of hit single Lifeline sets the scene on this three-track sampler and it’s often impossible to equate this band with the act which spawned Last Resort all those years ago. After falling out of fashion a few years ago there’s a reason the Roach are back en vogue and this ambitious EP is why. Forget your preconceptions and take another chance on the comeback kids.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Naked Ambition

baltimooreBaltimoore – Quick Fix (BLP music)

The Swedes have always had a penchant for releasing quality melodic rock and if Europe (the band, not the continent) is the extent of your knowledge of a vibrant scene then think again. Baltimoore are seasoned veterans of a thriving genre and more than two decades after frontman Bjorn Lodin burst onto the scene this could and should be the record to bring his band to the attention of the British masses.

Put it this way – if you love Whitesnake, Deep Purple, UFO and just about any other 70s flavoured blues rock behemoth then you’ll absolutely love this slick and sassy record. How Can You Undo What’s Become Undone might be one of the most cumbersome titles we’ve come across in years but the song is an instant classic, dripping with catchy hooks and a mesmerising melody.

But that’s just one of the instantly attractive tracks on Quick Fix and this is one CD you’ll be coming back to time and time again. You’ll be left wondering where Baltimoore have been all your life – well they’re here now and that’s all that matters.

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Fix Me Up

dream theaterDream Theater – Black Clouds And Silver Linings (Roadrunner)

Those of us privy to the band’s Download performance of A Rite Of Passage were expecting something special from the thinking man’s prog metal band and, not surprisingly, BCASL doesn’t disappoint. On any level. Clocking in at more than 75 minutes and featuring six sensational slices of typical Theatrical bombast we couldn’t find a bad word to say about this record if we tried. But of course we didn’t try too hard.

Dream Theater have effortlessly slipped into a rhythm you can’t ever imagine them slipping out of again. Every new album is a fan pleaser but this is one band which never stands still.

Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci don’t do bad albums anymore – if they ever did – and if their eclectic mix of styles, from classic rock, to metal and even thrash means they will never be described as mainstream that’s what makes this lot so very special.

So sometime soon set aside a sunny afternoon with a four pack and a pair of expensive earphones and enjoy the aural delight that is BCASL. You deserve it.

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Silver Plated

magnumMagnum – Into The Valley Of The Moonking (SPV/Steamhammer)

Perhaps inspired by the success of their recent retro tour, Magnum have gone back to an era when their slick classic rock gave a load of hair metal dudes a run for their money. If you’re a big fan of 1988’s Wings Of Heaven or its equally neat follow-up Goodnight LA then you’ll love the return of Tony Clarkin and co. as commercially viable soft metal beasts.

Cry To Yourself and Take Me To The Edge are two of the best Magnum songs we’ve heard in a decade but Bob Catley’s familiar tones make every one of the 12 tracks here worth a listen. The epic and evocative A Face In The Crowd conjures images of the band in their early days but still it doesn’t stray from the modern edge underpinning this true return to form.  

If you haven’t listened to a Magnum record in a while now’s a good time to right that wrong.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Valley Of Dreams

pendulumPendulum – Live At Brixton Academy (Warner Bros)

If you want to get down with what the kids are listening to these days then you could do worse than investigate the best dance metal band on the planet and their definitive Brixton Academy set.

The CD itself is enough to get the adrenaline pumping but if you check out the accompanying DVD you get a real flavour of what Pendulum are all about and the effect they can have on an impressionable teenage crowd. This time last year the band was forging an impressive reputation on the festival scene and their Download 2009 set won widespread critical acclaim.

That’s what makes Pendulum special. It would be easy for their clever samples and wicked loops to stay firmly rooted in the studio and on the dancefloor – transferring this genre to the live arena has never been easy. Pendulum make it look nothing short of simple.

rushonrock rated: 7/10 Pend Up Frustration