Plus we rate and review the latest efforts by Children Of Bodom, Darkest Hour, Visions Of Atlantis and Serenity.
By now every self-respecting classic rock fan should be au fait with one of the finest albums of 2010. But if you did miss it – or you loved it to bits like we did first time around – then here’s a chance to experience more of a peerless exponent of his chosen art.
Slash might not be quite as slick as Satriani, as vital as Vai or as hammer to the pedal as Hammet but he’s the guitarist who has it all – the kudos, the cool reputation and the creativity at his fingertips many lesser mortals can only dream of.
By entering into a series of dream partnerships with the great and good of the rock and metal world, the former GnR man reinvented himself and delivered a delicious smorgasboard of rock in the process. But it was his duet with Fergie, of Black Eyed Peas fame, which really caught the imagination and the provocative video clip of that cracking tune is just one of the must-have extras bundled here.
For the true connoisseur there’s Slash and touring vocalist Myles Kennedy delivering three acoustic gems – the duo’s collaboration Back From Cali, Velvet Revolver’s Fall To Pieces and a fabulous version on Guns N Roses’ Sweet Child Of Mine. To hear Slash deliver that iconic guitar intro on an acoustic instrument is a rare treat indeed. But this revamped album is full of them.
rushonrock rated: 9/10 More Slash To Burn
Known for their fusion of thrashy death metal, powerful progressive rock and the odd hair metal solo, the magnificent Children Of Bodom aren’t afraid to experiment. And yet Relentless Reckless Forever smacks of a band playing it safe.
In COB’s case that’s an easy thing to do. They don’t have to prove anything to anyone after delivering a series of genre-defying modern metal classics and when they’re good they’re great. Resisting change is difficult to contemplate when you’ve truly discovered the winning formula but too much of this record rests on past laurels and sits on the fence.
Not My Funeral is the kind of blistering, swirling COB track we’ve come to expect. And that’s part of the problem. Perhaps COB don’t want to rock the boat where their current fans are concerned and if that’s the case then RRR does the job. But even the killer combination of sweeping keys and rough-edged vocals which underpin standout track Round Trip To Hell And Back aren’t likely to win many new converts any time soon.
By the time the band is blasting out Was It Worth It the jury’s out. It was because the world has been eagerly awaiting a new COB album for some time now and this is, indeed, a fine addition to the Bodom back catalogue. It’s slick, bombastic and occasionally brutal – but it’s not the killer album that it could well have been.
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Bod Time
As the Metallica …And Justice-era riffs kick in on track two of this meaty metal record it’s clear that Darkest Hour aren’t just any old band. Brimming with confidence and quite capable of penning a thought-provoking tune this Washington DC gang clearly mean business and this is one album you won’t be able to put down.
The brooding, intense chorus which underpins Savour The Kill showcases long-serving singer John Henry at his very best. No metal band is complete without a frontman who can force the issue and a strong presence is required to cut through some of the most vicious axe work you’ll hear this year.
The piano intro to Terra Solaris – an eight-minute epic and the standout track on a cerebral release – contrasts perfectly with Henry and his cacophonous cohorts. Darkest Hour’s Richard Marx moment doesn’t last long but it does help to develop the personality of a band which could easily get stuck in a metalcore rut.
There’s no doubt the Peter Wichers production adds a muscular quality to an already robust record and if it’s to early to describe The Human Romance as a career-defining record it could well be. Darkest Hour is a band on the up – you’d better believe it.
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Hour Class
It’s all too easy to reference Evanescence, Within Temptation, Tarj, Nightwish et al when considering the merits of a record rich in lush female harmonies but it’s impossible to ignore the various likenesses on this accomplished effort.
To compare with the above is no sleight on the classy contributors who join Georg Neuhauser for a series of engaging vocal jousts and in many cases this is so much better than the increasingly indistinguishable fare peddled by the genre’s leading ladies.
Avantasia’s Amanda Somerville, Delain’s Charlotte Wessells and Sirenia’s Ailyn all appear to raise their game once set the challenge of stamping their mark on a hugely uplifting melodic metal masterpiece.
And on The Chevalier, in particular, the addition of Ailyn’s trance-like tones lift a typically strong Serenity tune to a thrilling new level. Somerville is in similarly scintillating form on Changing Fate but the highlight has to be the Battle Metal infused six minutes-plus State Of Siege.
Rousing stuff from start to finish – Serenity had better change that band name and fast.
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Siren-ity
Greek singer Maxi Nil debuts on the new Visions Of Atlantis album and immediately makes a play for best female newcomer as she delivers a composed and confident performance worthy of this band’s lofty ambition and soaring soundscapes.
In a genre exploding with talent and some terrific tunes it’s increasingly difficult to make your voice heard. Nil manages it with ease and if symphonic metal is your bag then you won’t want to return home without a copy of this little gem this week.
As far as wider appeal goes who knows? To the non-discerning ear this lot may sound like any other band leaning heavily on melodic female vocals but there’s a certain charm about Visions Of Atlantis and their unerring attention to detail when it comes to finding that perfect hook.
Nil is not there as window dressing or a token gesture and neither is she content to live in the shadow of her predecessors. Each one of her meticulous vocals fits the structure of the song perfectly and it’s almost as if VOA have never been without their new driving force.
Closer Gravitate Towards Fatality doesn’t boast the snappiest title in the book but it’s a brilliant example of this impressive band at their expansive best. Nil claims she ‘will make your dreams come true’ and even if that doesn’t happen she could well be the catalyst for a big leap in VOA’s popularity. Watch this space.
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Nil By Mouth
This week’s reviews: Simon Rushworth