Another storming week for new releases and we’ve got them all right here on rushonrock. Whether you’re ready for some old school W.A.S.P. (pictured) with a modern twist, some live Steve Vai with widdly diddly bits aplenty or some frankly bonkers fare from Bowling For Soup we rate them all.
Throw in some stripped down Marillion for good measure, a slice of Linkin Park in the shape of Chester Bennington’s new band Dead By Sunrise, some post-grunge Antwerp style from The Hickey Underworld and Chilli Pepper Chad Smith’s new side project the Bombastic Meatbeats and you’ve got a recipe for rock heaven. Honest.
Bowling For Soup – Sorry For Partyin’ (A&G Records)
Fans of Bowling For Soup will no doubt have become accustomed to the bands repetitive sounding records, mixed with the odd hit and they should expect no different from Sorry For Partyin’.
Since The Bitch Song hit in 2000 BFS have never really hit the big time that their debut smash promised, with only a handful of tracks fairing well.
Sorry for Partyin’ seems to give an insight into a Texan mindset of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’. Unfortunately for the band most of the tracks are broke and seem tediously repetitious.
Belgium Polka is a shadow of fellow comedy singer Weird Al Yankovic’s infamous polka renditions and these days the band has new rivals in their metal equivalents Steel Panther.
The bottom line is that Sorry For Partyin’ is by no means groundbreaking – but that isn’t the BFS way. An easy listen with some average tracks that is guaranteed to bring plenty of guilty smiles and a few obvious cringes.
rushonrock rated: 6/10 Almost Souper
W.A.S.P. – Babylon (Demolition)
Blackie Lawless deserves huge respect for keeping the W.A.S.P. flag flying during rock’s lean years and this is the album which should see the fruits of his labours rewarded. Released at a time when metal is cool again, this nine-track blast fuses the best of the Headless Children era with a fresh zeal often associated with men half Blackie’s age.
Babylon’s Burning is more NWOBHM than hair metal with it’s grinding riff and alliterative chorus but there are plenty of nods to W.A.S.P.’s commercial peak at the height of the late 80s MTV-obsessed era. Throwing in a cover of Deep Purple’s Burn – especially at the top end of the album – initially seems bizarre until you realise it’s the perfect fit for this expansive record. The fact that Blackie destroys a classic Coverdale performance is neither here nor there.
At a time when Alice Cooper is still going strong it’s almost comforting to know that the long-time heir to his shock rock throne is still awaiting the ascension. This triumphant record should bring that day just a little bit closer.
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Babylong Time Coming
Steve Vai – Where The Wild Things Are (Favoured Nations)
Available as a single CD and a DVD this is exactly what you’d expect from a muso of Steve Vai’s considerable quality and experience. Impeccably produced, delivered with a steely determination and designed to thrill Guitar Heroes everywhere it’s the perfect career-spanning package. And if it sounds good then it looks even better.
And here’s the thing. It takes a certain individual to transfer the energy and passion underpinning a live show and reproduce it on film. Vai does exactly that and while the aural experience is pretty immersive it’s the visual version we loved best.
Plus you get more than two-and-a-half hours of Vai for your money on the DVD and just the 60 minutes on CD. That might be more than enough for those of you who can’t stand the thought of listening to a one man band play himself into guitar heaven but then you’d be missing the point.
Vai knows he’s good but he knows his band is just as good and tracks like Tender Surrender and All About Eve come alive with various musicians jostling for position and seeking to stamp their mark on this marvelous show.
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Vai-tal
Dead By Sunrise – Out Of Ashes (Warner Bros.)
With Linkin Park’s new album not due until January that cheeky chappie Chester Bennington has only gone and stolen his band’s thunder with a thoroughly decent stab at commercial rock in the shape of new boys Dead By Sunrise. And although this could never be an LP LP there’s more than enough here to keep fans of Bennington’s main employers more than happy.
While the vocals are unsurprisingly strong it’s the axe work of Orgy guitarist Ryan Shuck which shakes the whole DBS project up into a real rock frenzy. Tracks like Crawl Back In and Condemned are truly beefy but even the record’s lighter moments see Shuck toning it down to excellent effect, occasionally adding some uber cool synth action to the mix.
My Suffering is a truly outstanding song and the Linkin lads might just be wondering how they missed out on this one. Maybe their new record will answer that. For now there’s this.
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Dead Good
Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats – Meet The Meatbats (earMUSIC)
Not content with tub thumping for internationally renowned funk rock pioneers Red Hot Chili Peppers and recently formed supergroup Chickenfoot, the multi-talented Chad Smith has released a record of instrumental splendour which will simply add to his already formidable reputation.
If you like a certain structure to your songs and singalong choruses are an absolute must then avoid this at all costs. But if you’re never happier than when humming along to vintage Satriani or immersing yourself in huge swathes of 70s funk rock then this will be your record of choice in 2009.
Smith’s drumming is typically delicious but Jeff Kollman’s guitar work is a revelation. Insisting he is out to ‘protect and defend the rock guitar’ he does the job admirably and if you’re thinking this is a drummer’s record then think again. The rest of the music is gloriously groovy and drowned in an old school vibe.
Tops Off is terrific but the keys on Night Sweats could come straight out of a swetay jazz rock cellar and this is the one Bombastic Meatbats track you must hear. After that you’ll be hooked.
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Chad To Be Good
The Hickey Underworld – The Hickey Underworld (Naive Records)
The most hyped record of the week and, on the back of brilliant lead single Blonde Fire, it’s obvious why. But that gem of a tune, with it’s biting riff and retro groove is one of only a handful of standout tracks on an ultimately average affair.
Mastered by Howie Weinberg – the man behind the final mix of Nirvana’s nvermind – the sound of The Hickey Underworld is a sound of post-grunge Belgians getting stuck into a groove they can barely escape.
The truly melodic moments are few and far between and there aren’t enough killer tunes in the vein of Blonde Fire or the moody Future Words. But hey, this is a debut record and these boys can only get better. Hopefully.
rushonrock rated: 5/10 Hickey Underwhelmed
Marillion – Less Is More (earMUSIC)
Stripping down some belters from your back catalogue and changing the emphasis of a slew of fan favourites could be seen as brave, bordering on the foolhardy. But when you’re a band exuding Marillion’s confidence it’s an ambitious move guaranteed to succeed.
The fact that the majority of these reworked tunes sound largely unfamiliar is testimony to a project which evidently knew no barriers. Marillion haven’t just taken away the bombast underpinning the originals, they’ve added subtle touches of melody to create a soothing musical environment which will appeal to die-hard fans and potential new converts alike.
Interior Lulu and If My Heart Were A Ball are actually better than the originals and the rest run their namesakes mighty close. There are a handful of rock bands still treading the boards who can do no wrong these days and Marillion are members of that exclusive club. This is not Incommunicado but it doesn’t need to be.
rushonrock rated: 9/10 More Of Less Please