blackhole2It’s a black day for rock reviews as both The Black Crowes and Blackhole are rated by rushonrock. And another member of the B-team, the North East’s very own The Casino Brawl, release their debut album with 10 tracks of pure metal fury coming your way.

Unfortunately Frank Turner’s new record still hasn’t rolled onto the reviews desk but as soon as it does we’ll give you our exclusive verdict. Out tomorrow, we should have our sticky mits on a copy of Poetry Of the Deed very soon.

black crowes untilThe Black Crowes – Before The Frost…Until The Freeze (Silver Arrow Records/Megaforce Records)

With more than 20 million album sales under their belts it is, perhaps, about time that the Robinson brothers gave something back to their fans and that’s exactly what they’re doing these days – in spades.

Not only did the new-look Black Crowes record both Before The Frost… and …Until The Freeze in front of a live audience of the band’s die-hard followers but they’re making the latter collection of nine tunes available for free to anyone buying the former record. It’s a great deal of fine music and simply a great deal.

Twenty years after the release of Shake Your Money Maker, the Crowes are a long way off resting on their laurels and across 19 new tunes and a cover of the Stephen Stills classic So Many Times they reach new creative heights. 

…UTF appears the less commercial, more stripped down of the two records with a raft of tunes custom made for playing around the local camp fire. Shady Grove is a gem of a tune while the honky tonk vibe and humalong chorus within Shine Along is impossible to get out of your head.

Both albums were pulled together over five nights at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY, in front of an intimate audience and the ‘as-live’ recording process results in a rare atmosphere – replete with whoops, hollas and the occasional clap.

BTF… is the bigger, rowdier record and it boasts rushonrock‘s song of the year so far in the disco rock that is I Ain’t Hiding. A throwback to 70s flares and unkempt hair, this stonking tune splits a fabulous album in two and it’s impossible to stop both your feet tapping to a brilliant composition.

Elsewhere there’s plenty of evidence of the trademark Crowes sound with elements of country, soul, rockabilly and the rest making for a magical listening experience. If you like your rock no frills and laden with thrills then these two albums will hit the mark – without hitting you in the wallet.

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Worth Crowing About

blackhole albumBlackhole – Dead Hearts (Search And Destroy)

Musically, at least, Richard Carter may have been living in the shadows of his prolific and powerful Gallows-embossed brothers but now’s the time for a new take on one of rock’s rising families.

For starters this is no attempt to recreate the growling punk trademarked by his super-charged siblings. Sure, there’s some snarling vocals, an undercurrent of attitude and that sense of frustration and disaffection but it’s all pulled together by a nod to pure thrash metal.

Carter told rushonrock his vocal style was inspired by Pantera’s back catalogue and this is more festering heavy metal than in-your-face punk. The sheer power of songs like new single Scared To Change and the belting Forever will have you running for the nearest sofa to cower in fear before finally plucking up the courage to face this record head-on. 

So polished and aggressive is the production job on this damn fine debut that it’s frankly frightening to imagine the same music played live. Blackhole really need a health warning ahead of the 19-date UK tour this month but if you like your music meaty and to the point then head along – if you think you’re hard enough.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Dead Certs

casino brawl albumThe Casino Brawl – shades;directions (In At The Deep End Records)

Any band which slips a semi colon into its album title deserves some kind of credit but exactly what shade is The Casino Brawl and in which direction is this band headed? 

Listening to this accomplished record in its entirety it’s clear that Jonny Ferguson and his crew are nowhere near settling on a definitive sound. And when you’re a new band that’s no bad thing. Who would have imagined Welsh mash-up masters Lost Prophets transforming into pop rock beasts within the space of five years? The Casino Brawl can, for now, be whatever they want to be.

Tracks like L Is For Liars and You Can’t Save Them All will lure fans from across rock’s genres but within the next two years that universal appeal will become a means to divide the rock public. And that’s the trick. Between now and the end of 2010 TCB need to gauge opinion and make a positive move – in our humble opinion ditching the annoying shouts and focusing on some seriously catchy melody is the way forward.

For now the band can take immense pride in an impressively mature and aurally powerful debut. The metal world could yet be their oyster.

rushonrock rated: 7/10 Brawl Good