Valentine’s Day may be all about red roses, big hearts and sloppy kisses but not if you’re a member of HIM or Dommin. We look at two of rock’s chief anti-love protagonists and a whole load of other stuff this week.
There’s the long awaited Best Of from our favourite Scando sleaze kings Backyard Babies (pictured) and the debut solo album from Cradle Of Filth crooner Sarah Jezebel Deva.
Throw in some seriously heavy shit from Rising Records’ label mates Sworn Amongst and With Chaos In Her Wake and there’s plenty to keep the metal heads out there happy. Plus we check out a snappy debut from buzz band Straight Lines – fresh from a triumphant 2009 touring with Kids In Glass Houses, The Automatic and Motorhead.
Dommin’s major label debut will send lovelorn Goths everywhere into a downward spiral of introspection and depression but what about the rest of us?
Well, lead singer Kristofer Dommin employs a nice turn of phrase throughout a slickly produced effort which mixes shades of Depeche Mode with hints of HIM to serve up one of the treats of 2010 so far. Title track Love Is Gone sums up the pessimistic theme but if the lyrics preach emotional abstinence then the music is strangely uplifting with Kristofer’s 80s-influenced riffs a true highlight.
The Lucas Banker/Logan Mader production has perfectly captured a band on the cusp of stardom and trcaks like Tonight and One Feeling are fantastic snapshots of Dommin’s bid to become heir apparent to Mr Valo. Let battle commence.
rushonrock rated: 7/10 World Dommin-ation?
So how does the master fare against the apprentice (see Dommin review above)? Rather well, actually. With HIM seemingly back for good Ville Valo has unleashed one of his strongest records to date with big choruses and even bigger riffs hinting at a new commercial edge. Selling out? Not quite. But expect this belter of an album to shift a few thousand copies nevertheless.
The tepid In The Arms Of Rain apart there isn’t really a duff track on here. Lead single Heartkiller is a raucous romp of a track and opener In Venere Veritas fuses a thumpimng rhythm section with a memorable vocal to kick things off in typically bombastic style. And Shatter Me With Hope proves to be Screamworks’ triumphant peak.
It might be disrespectful to describe HIM as an underground band but if they are then this should finally force the masses to turn on to one of pop metal’s truly exciting acts. A triumph.
rushonrock rated: 9/10 HIM Practice Makes Perfect
It was about time the Babies pulled together all the gems from their bulging back catalogue and created a one-stop CD for new fans and old converts alike. And if this converts you then be warned: one of the hardest gigging bands on the planet is on a self-imposed break. But knowing BB they’ll be back sooner than you can write a riff to rival that which rips through crowd favourite Highlights.
Taken from 1998’s Total 13 it could well have been the title track to this 12-tune career retrospective because every one of the songs chosen here is nothing short of brilliant. From the raw punk-infused emotion of Electric Suzy right through to 2008’s anthemic Degenerated there’s abundant evidence that BB are one of rock and roll’s true treasures. That their music is only fully appreciated now beggars belief.
Of course there will be die-hards moaning that their favourite song hasn’t made the cut but just for them there’s a monster package of BB classics available – lovingly compiled by the band prior to their much-needed hiatus. If you didn’t much care for Guns N Roses’ Chinese Democracy then this could be the album to restore your faith in raw and passionate rock and roll.
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Babies Grow
From the label which brought us the brilliant but flawed Reuben, mega rockers Million Dead and, more recently, the first batch of Frnak Turner solo albums come another rock phenomenon worth following.
Straight Lines peddle a listenable line in incendiary indie rock, fusing elements of reggae, metal and soul with a soft rock underbelly. Tracks like All My Friends Have Joined The Army suggest these guys really are quite special – although it’s impossible to imagine them playing with Motorhead (which they have done) and surviving without the odd angry critique from the crowd.
Then again tracks like Antics and opener Versus The Allegiance could take on a heavy metal life of their own given a beefy backline and a slight change of tone from talented singer Tom Jenkins. File under ones to watch and watch very carefully indeed.
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Straight Ahead Rock
Making her name as the distinctive voice behind Cradle Of Filth’s more melodic moments, the workaholic SJD has taken time out from that band and her side project Angtoria to deliver a startling solo record. An underlying sense of the grandiose ensures this never feels like a straight ahead metal album – although tune into the impressive axe work and it’s some of the most brutal riffage you’ll hear all year.
According to the ‘Deva’ the acquisition of stixman Max Blumos (ex-Trigger The Bloodshed) was key to the success of her multi-facted debut and there’s no doubt a tight rhythm section underpins a diverse and, at times, immersive record. Tunes like overblown pomp rocker The Devil’s Opera may well belong on a low budget horror movie soundtrack but then the relentless title track is worth the money alone.
Gamble on SJD this Monday and you might just feel you’ve hit the metal jackpot.
rushonrock rated: 7/10 A Sign Of The Future?
If you’re one of the thousands of failed romatics out there who forgot the Valentine’s card, flowers and chocolates then don’t, for a minute, imagine this will fit the bill as a belated love gift. But if you really, really detest the old flame who now has a hot husband, huge house and handbag bursting full of cash then slip this through her letterbox and watch the pain unravel.
Northern England’s death metal scene is booming right now and WCIHW are at the forefront of some frankly ugly stuff. There’s no time for niceties on tunes like Dehumanization and Genocide: Oppressive Violence but then this is not a genre renowned for treading a conservative path. It’s brutal, heavy and occasionally disturbing stuff. Death metal then.
rushonrock rated: 6/10 Treasonably Good
More accessible than label mates WCIHW (see review above) but equally unflinching in their desire to deliver high octane metal, these old skool thrashers lean heavily on early Bay Area standards and conjure up a modern classic which demands to be heard.
Singer/guitarist Liam Liddell has an uncanny knack for squeezing every last drop of emotion out of every track on a hugely entertaining record. And at their very best the band create riffs not dissimilar to the legendary Death Angel at their creative peak.
The thumping title track kicks things off in fine style and Liddell’s ability to deliver clear diction above a wall of unrelenting noise means some pretty deep lyrics make a lasting impression. It’s refreshing to know that a developing band possess the skill and confidence to make an album as accomplished as Severance and we can’t wait to hear and see more.
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Amongst Legends