There’s a look at the new releases from would-be stadium rockers Jettblack, German punksters Beatsteaks, chart busting veteran Steve Miller and metal legends Danzig.
And we deliver our verdict on the latest album from Maria Brink’s In This Moment as the US band go for global glory.
And read on if you want to know what we think about the new records by Insidious Disease, Stringer Bessant, The Pineapple Thief and Sons Of Liberty.
Korn are an acquired taste with the jagged vocal style of Jonathan Davis as obviously grating as it is perceived to be great. And this much lauded ninth studio album sees the charismatic frontman in typically ear-bleeding form.
At the forefront of the nu-metal scene and true survivors of the genre there has, nevertheless, always been a nagging suspicion that Davis and his band mates are not quite as good as the hype would have you believe. Korn III – Remember Who You Are does nothing to dispel those nagging doubts.
Sounding uncannily like System Of A Down (again), but never as compelling, tracks like Pop A Pill are neatly produced but lack the band’s late 90s passion. Perhaps the pick of a pretty patchy bunch is the roaring Let The Guilt Go – vocally Davis lets himself go and the result is simply stunning.
Why Korn don’t go down that road more often is anyone’s guess but a desire to recapture former commercial glories seems to have clouded their judgement on what could, and possibly should, have been a career high. Fans will love this. Critics will find much with which to beat their various drums. SR
rushonrock rated: 6/10 III Jeers
Formerly known as members of 90s band Reef, Gary Stringer’s and Jack Bessant’s most recent project Yard is a far cry from the upbeat Brit-rock band they used to perform in.
StringerBessant’s new album is rich in soulful lyrics from Stringer and traditional folk-like acoustic guitar with a real blues feel from Bessant. Free from modern production techniques, the track list is perfectly formed with the first three tunes painting a clear picture of the rest of the album, with the lads going back to the essence of rich acoustic music.
On first impressions there isn’t anything outstanding here – the lyrics are easy to listen to and Stringer’s precise diction is a breath of fresh air. But after playing the album through a few times you realise that this is the whole point to an album where the songs are centred on a rustic, skeleton like score without any fancy trimmings.
Eventually it’s possible to appreciate this idea and see through Stringer’s and Bessant’s eyes and into their imagination when writing the album. With songs like The Calling it is easy to see that, by cutting out modern production techniques and relying on natural verve, StringerBessant have managed to come up with something entirely fresh and unique in the form of Yard. CG
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Yards Ahead
This album is a pointed political statement with the very name of the band Sons Of Liberty referring to the secret organisation of US patriots from 1765.
Now, through their highly charged debut album, Jon Schaffer’s Sons Of Liberty speak out about the corruption of government, injustice and inequality in a supposedly democratic country. Each song title refers to the politically centred idea – the most blatant being the final track We The People.
Although the fact that Schaffer plays all of the instruments on the album is impressive, as are the guest solos from his Iced Earth guitarist Troy Seele, bassist Ruben Drake and even producer Jim Morris, the album’s downfall is the way it often seems dated.
It’s all very much akin to bands such as Anvil, who played this type of music as far back as 1978, and even Metallica and Anthrax. Scepticism abounds as Schaffer’s classic rock-tinged approach to the vocals and some blatant System Of A Down-alike moments (check out Don’t Tread On Me) smacks of a project without the musical direction its political push requires.
As it turns out the songs are incredibly catchy and any inconsistencies are quickly forgotten. Schaffer’s well placed riffs and traditional metal structures, coupled with his use of political samples, makes this debut album the same but different. CG
rushonrock rated: 6/10 Sons Rising
Relatively unheard of on these shores, German punk rockers Beatsteaks have made great waves in their homeland and across mainland Europe in the past 15 years. Their fifth studio album, Limbo Messiah, might well be the making of them in the UK even if the album was originally released back in 2007.
Beatsteaks boast an excellent gritty punk-hardcore sound and possess the fist pumping rhythms yet still have the rock and roll swagger very similar to that of The Bronx.
Straight from the opening chords of As I Please this record is right up in your face, with driving bass lines and break-neck drums. Whilst Meantime and Demons Galore swing with all the grace of Jane’s Addiction you’re hit swiftly in the jaw by the uppercut that is Bad Brain.
Another highlight of Limbo Messiah is undoubtedly closing track E-G-O which again returns to the swinging element that is a feature throughout the album. The contrasting vocals between Armin Teutoburg-Weiß and Bernd Kurtzke are played out expertly and bring a real rock and roll feel to the song.
Three years after the original release of Limbo Messiah, Beatsteaks can now be confident that they can finally crack the UK market. If Limbo Messiah is anything to go by this won’t be the last time we hear from the Berlin fivesome. TW
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Feel The Beat
Let’s start by getting the ‘Steve Miller hits a full house with his new album Bingo!’ out of the way. The first studio album for 17 years may not be fresh material, with all 10 tracks covers of old blues rock, but the approach is.
Still evergreen in the US, Steve Miller is quite literally playing tribute to his heroes and influences. Even though the original tracks were cut well before this reviewer’s time, Miller brings his own twist to the table. A dash of lime in a deep southern whisky if you please. It’s difficult therefore to review a CD that is obviously a tribute to his forefathers, but it certainly makes for some easy listening.
Sweet Soul Vibe is a highlight with a blues riff that will have you tapping your feet and placing you in a cramped, dimly lit Louisiana bar for the duration. Lead track Hey Yeah is the first single off the album and is a solid effort to bring alive a genre that seems destined for the pages of history.
And here lies the pitfall: many of the songs, although easy enough listening, blur into one another and just feel a little irrelevant in today’s hustle and bustle world. Obviously some escapism is more than welcome and fingers crossed it’s not the case. But let’s face it – blues is a dying sound in everywhere but America.
The album marks the first of a double release with the next due some time next year, but it will be interesting to see what Miller’s next move is. The smart money or thinking would be a move towards his hit The Joker.
But with SMB still selling out shows across the Pond and an upcoming tour in Europe, the formulae must be working. And as one of the oldest sayings goes, If it Ain’t Broke… AS
rushonrock rated: 6/10 Miller Time
With members from various metal bands across the world, Insidious Disease have released their debut album Shadowcast, a brutal ride into the gory entrails of death metal.
The supergroup Features Silenoz of Dimmu Borgir, Jardar of Old Man’s Child, Shane Embury of Napalm Death, Marc Grewe of Morgoth and drummer Tony Laureano, who has played with a handful of successful metal bands across the world. So for any fan of the genre, this is a dream come true. Or is it a nightmare?
There’s no time to catch your breath as the album is relentless from start to finish. Nuclear Salvation begins the onslaught with thrashing conviction. Where some other bands of the scene fail to fuse their heavy sound into coherent song, Insidious Disease have created a pulverising sound with a purpose.
From the grinding deep riffs to the raw piercing screams, the sound has a mature feel to it, despite this being a debut album. The experience of the band has obviously paid off.
The Desire is a standout song at the centre of the album, with wild, veering guitar riffs and a pulsating breakdown to remember. This won’t get mainstream attention but that was never the intention of Insidious Disease.
If you like death metal, there’s no doubt that this will be a more than entertaining album. It would have been nice to see some variation in the sound – not in the sense of making it catchy or mainstream but just something else to break up the album. Still, we look forward to hearing more from this exceptionally talented and incredibly scary supergroup. CR
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Get Infected
Earlier this year US band Taking Dawn bagged plum support slots with label mates Airbourne and Kiss and the Roadrunner signings are widely tipped to become stadium rock’s next big things.
Well UK upstarts Jettblack are seen to possess equal promise and on this evidence they knock Taking Dawn for six. Their Darkness/Steel Panther-esque take on metal – Two Hot Girls won’t win any prizes for lyrical depth – might grate with purists but this is a bunch of hard rocking would-be heroes having a huge amount of fun.
Welding everything that was ever good about rock and metal back in the 80s, Jettblack call on the canon of Judas Priest, Nickelback and Bon Jovi at various points across this spirited debut and it’s a heady mix of modern ambition meets retro cool.
I Won’t Sleep Alone is an incredibly polished track while the epic closer, Innocence Is Mine, proves this band can add a mature edge to their singalong metal by numbers. The potential is huge but the hard work starts here. SR
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Jett Propelled
In This Moment must make some pretty tough decisions and make them soon. Does this incredibly talented US band want to stay true to its heavy roots and risk losing the opportunity to taste massive mainstream success? Or do Maria Brink and co. want to develop their melodic metal sound and start to play bands like Nightwish at their own accomplished game?
Brink cut her teeth as a snarling, growling, screaming beast of a frontwoman – her harsh tones creating a mysterious juxtaposition with the pretty girl in frilly skirts. Yet on 2008’s The Dream there was a move towards the more melodic and two years down the line that change is gathering pace.
And it really is a change for the better. The title track is a thrilling snapshot of just how good the Los Angeles quintet could be and puts lead single at album opener The Gun Show in the shade.
Brink can clearly grapple with any vocal style and come out on top. But it’s time she ditched the angry young woman act in favour of taking a tilt at Tarja, Anette Olzon et al. SR
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Star Quality
Just as Jonathan Davis of Korn (see review above) is an acquired vocal taste so Glenn Danzig has the ability to divide fans of blues-soaked heavy metal. But there’s no denying this man means it and Deth Red Sabaoth is a forceful call to arms six years after the last Danzig record flattered to deceive.
On A Wicked Night is as good as anything we’ve heard since the Lucifuge days with its brooding, bulldog-like growl. But if you doubt Danzig as a truly great songwriter then challenge those preconceptions by downloading the two-part Pyre Of Souls. Opening segment Incanticle is incredibly effective stripped of any lyrical content and its seven-minute partner work is pure, focused metal fury.
There’s a very good reason why this album peaked at 35 on the Billboard Hot 100 – it’s got class written all over it. Danzig the man or Danzig the band: both are bywords for hard rock heaven steeped in an ugly hell. SR
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Danzig’s Deth March
Sometimes it’s best not to believe the hype and in the case of The Pineapple Thief it would be foolish to be sucked into the buzz surrounding this prog-lite crew.
Sure they create a pleasant soft rock soundscape with the odd sprawling epic mimicking Muse but there’s something missing from Someone Here Is Missing. Less can be more – even in the over-complicated world of prog rock – and The Pineapple Thief appear to have forgone focus in the pursuit of pretentiousness.
On Barely Breathing – and for huge swathes of this album you’ll wish you weren’t – the Coldplay comparisons are painfully obvious. If the Storm Thorgerson artwork adds to the facade of greatness then it’s just that – a facade. This is a huge let down from a band which should be so much better and no amount of keyboards or samples can disguise the fact. SR
rushonrock rated: 5/10 Something Here Is Missing
This week’s Rock Solid team: Simon Rushworth, Chiara Giordano, Calum Robson, Andy Spoors, Tom Walsh.