Chickenfoot5This week we catch up with prog rock/doom metal hybrid Katatonia and check out the debut EP from Bristol-based indie rock upstarts Fighting Fiction.

There’s another compilation in the shape of the lighter than Kerrang! but very similar NME The Album 2009 plus the deluxe edition of supergroup Chickenfoot‘s (pictured) bombastic debut. Something for everyone then?

katatoniaKatatonia – Night Is The New Day (Peaceville)

Released in the shadow of Paradise Lost’s stunning Faith Divides Us Death Unites Us it would be easy to dismiss Katatonia’s ninth studio album as the poor cousin of one of our albums of 2009. And while Night Is The New Day lacks the metallic intensity of the record it is most likely to be judged against, it boasts a depth and melodic edge most bands would kill to replicate.

Often taking the prog path, this is light on the doom and heavy on the deliciously dark. Opener Foresaker and the brilliant Idle Blood set the benchmark and it’s a level which is sustained with impressive ease. Vocalist Jonas Renske is a revelation as he delivers the performance of his career across 11 expansive and enthralling tracks.

The Swedes always threatened to produce something like this and, seemingly freed from the genre constraints which have limited previous releases, this is the prog metal masterpiece fans have been praying for. Ingenious and inspirational.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Kat’s Got The Kream

chickenfoot deluxeChickenfoot – Chickenfoot Deluxe Edition (earMUSIC)

Back in June this demanding debut by America’s latest (and possibly greatest) classic rock supergroup won a rather respectable 8/10 review on rushonrock. But with thoughts turning towards our picks of the year what better time than the present to reappraise the work of Messrs. Hagar, Satriani and co.?

What is immediately obvious is that there’s still a heavy bias towards the over-complicated and the over indulgent on the first half of a record which bubbles under before breaking free. It’s still a mystery as to why the luscious Learning To Fall is buried way don in the number nine slot and the equally epic Future In The Past finds itself even further down the pecking order. The best thing about tracks like Soap On A Rope and Runnin’ Out is Satriani’s exquisite axe work but veteran Hagar, rather surprisingly, takes time to find his feet among such exalted friends.

Of course this is a deluxe edition and while the songs remain the same the overall content is boosted to the tune of a cracking DVD. The studio insight is compelling and the video clips are suitable slick. But it’s the live action which reveals the truth behind Chickenfoot – they’s not simple a bunch of big name musicians filling in the time between more prominent projects. This is a band which boasts a certain vibe, a certain togetherness and an on-stage chemistry which suggests this will not be the only Chickenfoot record we have the pleasure of reviewing. Let’s hope so.

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Chicken’s Got Wings

nme albumVarious Artists – NME The Album 2009 (Rhino)

The NME annual is, generally speaking, a grouping together of all the cool-kid indie bands that have hit puberty in the last year and look decent in a pair of pointy shoes.

But this year, NME The Album calls upon some of the finest talent to have hit the airwaves – regardless of the length of their turn ups. Opening with Uprising from frightfully un-cool heavyweight stadium rockers Muse, disc one quickly picks up the pace as Friendly Fires, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Sweet Disposition by Aussie Newcomers Temper Trap all provide definite highlights.

You will be forgiven for skipping past the massively overplayed Dominoes by The Big Pink and the oddly included Death by post-punkers White Lies – first released in a very unfashionable early 2008. But the rightful inclusion of Cheat On Me by the Cribs is a welcome reprieve at the end. Disc two is, predictably, a little heavier with Biffy Clyro kicking things off with That Golden Rule and Prodigy providing some alt-dance fun as well.

Pop cutie Little Boots makes a bizarre appearance despite a slightly disappointing year of not nearly living up to the hype. And aside from Who Can Say by The Horrors and Dead Bees by indie elder statesman Graham Coxon, the second CD reads like a catalogue of indie also-rans. Notable absentees include Editors, who released one of the year’s finest records, as well as northern newcomers White Belt Yellow Tag who have been pumping out hits all summer. NME The Album 2009 isn’t the worst of guides to the final year of the noughties but it’s not nearly as exciting as it could have been.

rushonrock rated: 7/10 NME Of The State

fighting fiction epFighting Fiction – A Lesser Of Two Evils EP (Dead Planet Records)

Imagine the King Blues crossed with Frank Turner and a Gallows mentality minus the aural assault and you come somewhere close to the sound of Fighting Fiction.

The military precision of Cameraphones And Choruses is strangely addictive and the blunt storytelling style (think pumped-up Pogues) utilised on You Mean The World To Me suggests a band brimming with confidence.

And yet the burning question has got to be: where’s the originality? This is a singalong pop punk delivered with aplomb but haven’t we heard it all before somewhere…

rushonrock rated: 6/10 Fighting Spirit