They’ve long been touted as potential stars and this week we review and rate the major label debut of US heroes Circa Survive.

There’s a look at a typically heavy offering from 36 Crazyfists and we run the rule over 80s throwbacks Kickhunter.

Plus there’s the return of the mighty Hawkwind and some serious metal from Sister Sin.

Circa Survive – Blue Sky Noise (Atlantic)

If you’re a fan of Geddy Lee’s vocal style then there’s an excellent chance you’ll fall in love with this occasionally ambient, often rocky and most definitely prog-tinged effort from the soon-to-be-huge Circa Survive.

There’s a very good chance Blue Sky Noise will be the album which propels this band into the big time and about time too. Perhaps reflecting an act brimming with the confidence a big record deal can bring there’s a certain sense of unbridled joy spread across 12 rich and varied tunes and this is one album which you’ll want to revisit time and time again.

Tracks like opener Strange Train and the faraway I Felt Free are future club classics and made-for-arena hits. But if you really want a taste of what Circa Survive are all about skip straight to album closer Dyed In The Wood and prepare to be stunned. SR

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Blue Notes

36 Crazyfists – Collisions & Castaways (Roadrunner Records)

Spawned at the height of the craze for mind-numbingly dull nu-metal it’s a miracle this US band are in a position to produce records of this quality.

Mixing trad metal with elements of thrash and metalcore, the Portland-based heavy hitters use a dual vocal style to devastating effect and there’s more than a hint of Death Angel’s penchant for a thundering riff and a pounding melody.

The incredible Reviver and the brooding Caving In Spirals are two of the best metal tracks you’ll hear all year, while set closer Waterhaul II is an epic beast of an anthem which will go down in Crazyfists’ folklore. SR

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Fists Pumping

Kickhunter – All In (AFM)

Hailing from Hamburg and featuring a former member of Helloween it won’t come as a huge surprise to discover Kickhunter trade in classic rock heaven from an overblown era industry chiefs would rather we forget.

Of course the hair metal-tinged tracks scattered liberally across All In, the band’s third (and by far their best) album, are back in fashion in the summer of 2010. And given the right breaks these boys could make a big splash across Europe and the US during the next few weeks and months.

Giving fellow countrymen Kissin’ Dynamite a run for their money in the tongue-in-cheek rock cheese stakes we’re hoping Kickhunter kick on. On this sparkly evidence it’ll be a travesty if they don’t. SR

rushonrock rated: 7/10 All Good

Sister Sin – True Sound Of The Underground (AOR/Metal Heaven)

Although the title may hold similarities with a certain girl band’s debut single, this is one record not to play to your little pop princess.

With vicious guitar riffs, slamming solos and venomous vocals throughout, Sister Sin hold nothing back at break-neck speed. In a recent interview with rushonrock fellow female led rockers Halestorm described themselves as “a punch in the face and a kiss on the mouth”. Sister Sin don’t offer such tenderness.

In fact lead singer Liv would be more likely to give you a kick to the well, use your imagination, on your way down. The influences of the band are clear, none more so than in the almost growled vocals reminiscent of a certain Lemmy Kilmister. But the Gothenburg quartet establishes their own sound early, with some impressive shredding on tracks Outrage, 24/7 and Built to Last.

The bizarre American announcement in Better Than Them seems misplaced for a band that sticks to their Swedish metal roots throughout True Sound of the Underground. But it still sticks out as a winning track.

The stick in the craw is the majority of the tracks blur and before you know what hit you the record’s over. Too many repetitive beats, threatens to spoil what could have been an enjoyable album (tracks Time’s Aren’t A Changing and Nailbiter’s intros sound identical!).

There are flashes and tracks of brilliance but I’d prefer a kiss on the mouth from Halestorm than a kick in the jewels from SS anyday. Now there’s a warm thought!

rushonrock rated: 6/10 Sin Full

Hawkwind – Blood Of The Earth (Eastworld)

Very rarely do bands create a completely new genre of music for themselves, but very rarely has the music scene been graced with a band like Hawkwind.

Space rock sounds quite literally from another planet, the blend of guitar strains into science fiction-esque sound effects is an alien concept. Lead track Seahawks sounds like a Star Trek soundtrack gone wrong, while title track Blood of The Earth is reminiscent of a Sounds of Whale Noises CD designed for an easy night’s sleep.

But alas there seems to be life somewhere out there – when Wraith finally kicks in the album gathers pace. The sparse vocals are a fusion of David Bowie and The Jam.

Hawkwind seem to reach lightspeed with Green Machine’s achingly beautiful guitar work. But the majority of the album seems closer to psychedelic electro than any form of rock from this planet. Rather bizarrely though, some of the tracks sound like Beatles records played in reverse in an attempt to find the infamous hidden messages.

No doubt Hawkwind has its cult following and as always their latest release is as experimental and therapeutic as ever. But there is little evidence of anything to convert a new audience and generation to the psychademia of the 60s. For want of a better phrase the band seems stuck in a time warp.

On the plus side, there’s more than enough therapeutic tracks to make the album almost an alternative rock chill out record. There are, however, breakouts of a rock riff here and there which save the latest offering from obscurity. Despite their hefty running times You’d Better Believe It and Sentinel are well worth checking out.

Some good bedtime listening, but heavy rockers look elsewhere, and here lies the beauty of creating a new genre with just one band in it. Even after 40 years, you’re still going to be the best in your field.

rushonrock rated: 7/10 Wind Of Change