lita fordTomorrow sees the return of the ultimate hair metal babe as Lita Ford (left) unleashes her hotly anticipated comeback record Wicked Wonderland. We review and rate it right here.

So who’s the former Runaway up against this week?

Big hitters Bon Jovi and Slayer bring their latest tunes to the table so look out for a Rock Solid special later this week.

In the meantime we check out the old school metal of Saviours and some stripped down Sharon den Adel (if only) as Within Temptation go all acoustic.

Then there’s the full-on assault that is Fu Manchu as the stoner legends return with one of their most accomplished and accesible albums to date.

But does any of it come close to lovely Lita? Find out right here…

lita ford wickedLita Ford – Wicked Wonderland (earMUSIC)

As Lita Ford belts out the lyric that we’re finally seeing the return of the lady with ‘dangerous curves and the deadly kiss’, on Piece (Hell Yeah), fans of the hair metal maiden’s late 80s/early 90s will no doubt break into a knowing smile.

Crowd pleasing references to the blonde bombshell’s underrated 1991 album and, of course, her biggest hit single remind us of the former Runaway’s enduring class. And while this patchy effort ebbs and flows it’s simply a pleasure to welcome back a true fox who always rocks. 

Attempting to assess the substance without being influenced by the style has always been a problem where Ford is concerned. And yet she’s responsible for enough classy rock to kick the critics who only judge her on looks into touch. Those expecting a hair metal revival will quickly realise there’s a heavier, grinding vibe to the bulk of Wicked Wonderland and while tracks like Inside are maybe a touch too blatant the effect of sleaze over sheen is pretty effective.

Imagine a latter day Alice Cooper album with a female vocal and you’ll come pretty close to the sound of Lita’s latest. Confident, yet never too cocky, it could be the start of something special.

rushonrock rated: 7/10 Model Tease Ford

fu manchuFu Manchu – Signs Of Infinite Power (Century Media)

A favourite of the stoner genertaion and worshipped by skater dudes everywhere, Fu Manchu have carved themselves a tidy little niche producing short but sweet rockers with attitude.

Frontman Scott Hill might not boast the most expansive vocal range in the history of disaffected vocalists but he does his job and does it very well. Those who felt the Fus wouldn’t make it beyond 1997’s The Action Is Go might be pleasantly surprised by the quality of tracks like Against The Ground and Take It Away. Both combine powerful bombast with a laid back groove – a sound only bands like Fu Manchu can possibly hope to achieve.

If you’re not already a devotee then this record isn’t quite good enough to convert the critical masses. But if Hill and his mob are your cup of rock tea then these are halcyon days for fans of Fu Manchu.

rushonrock rated: 7/10 Fu Fighters

savioursSaviours – Accelerated Living (Kemado Records)

This beast of a record occupies the no man’s land which exists between old school thrash and the new wave of trad metal. And for that very reason it rocks your socks off. 

Only time will tell whether Saviours are required to lay down solid foundations in one camp or the other but let’s hope tracks like Acid Hand and the belting retro metal of Burnin’ Cross mean the Oakland crew can plough their own furrow for some time to come.

Saviours (ditch the shit logo lads – you want people to be able to read your name when you’re this good) are, as their modest monicker would suggest, one of the emerging acts most likely to keep the ways of heavy metal alive long after Saxon, Anvil and even Maiden have finally called it a day. The black metal influences mean they might lack credibility and widespread critical acclaim for now but just you wait – these boys will be big. And they’re already nasty.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Metal Saviours

within temptationWithin Temptation – An Acoustic Night At The Theatre (Roadrunner Records)

The very title of this latest project by the ridiculously talented Within Temptation will have a whole host of symphonic metal fans running for cover fearing the end of the world. And they do so with some justification.

Sharon den Adel and her buddies have built their reputation on huge productions and a rich, immersive sound. Some bands simply aren’t suited to stripping away the added extras and exposing their raw heart. WT are one of those bands.

The best thing to say about An Acoustic Night At The Opera is that it certainly doesn’t cheat the band’s fans. This is no Greatest Hits record masquerading as something different – it is different. So much so that it rarely sounds like the Within Temptation we know and love.

 And here’s the thing. If you didn’t know this was WT you’d be thinking this was one of the best records you’ve heard all year. But because we expect so much more from such an incredible act less isn’t more – it’s just less.

rushonrock rated: 6/10 Little Temptation