This week’s best new music comes in the shape of Twin Atlantic (pictured), Sixx:AM, Slaves To Gravity, True Widow and Mastodon.

We review and rate them all and you can check out the rushonrock verdict on all the key new releases from the worlds of rock and metal right here every Sunday. 

Sixx:AM – This Is Gonna Hurt (Eleven Seven)

The soundtrack to the new book of the same name, it would be easy to dismiss the second Sixx:AM album as nothing more than a great marketing gimmick. Inspired by the latest photo journal from Motley Crue’s colourful bass player, This Is Gonna Hurt is, in fact, one of the finest rock records you’ll hear all year.

For starters the vocal delivery of acclaimed producer James Michael is just perfect for tunes mixing metal, sleaze and raw rock n roll. A part-timer when it comes to belting out big choruses and even bigger finishes, the voice of Sixx:AM is a sensation throughout the often heartwarming journey that is This Is Gonna Hurt.

The Muse-like meolodic groove underpinning Live Forever is as unreal as it is unexpected but there’s a full-bodied arena sound here and elsewhere. Nikki Sixx’s experience at the forefront of the 80s rock scene serves him well and almost every one of the tracks here could have dented the charts 25 years ago.

Sure Feels Right simply must be the second single lifted from the accomplished follow-up to 2007’s The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack. It oozes understated cool with a laid-back vibe Kid Rock would kill to call is own. Perfect for any East Coast cruiser and barbecue boozer, it has surprise hit of the summer written all over it.

Then there’s the emotive, passionate, strings-infused ballad Smile. Michael makes his presence felt with another fine vocal and it’s a finely crafted piece of AOR which evokes memories of MTV past – without ever straying into the realms of the insincere.

And sincerity is a big part of what Sixx:AM is all about. The band’s driving force has been there, done that and overdosed in the T-shirt so what he’s saying here really does mean something to just about anyone who’s ever been a in a band or followed a band.

Take one solid songwriter, add a blistering production and a mix in a vibe perfect for 2011’s retro-hungry crowd and the result is one of the most essential albums of the year. Surprisingly effective, you can’t help but be affected. SR

rushonrock rated: 10/10 Sixx Appeal

Twin Atlantic – Free (Red Bull)

It’s difficult to look beyond the achingly obvious yet truly relevant Biffy Clyro comparisons when judging Glasgow rockers Twin Atlantic’s full length debut.

The angular, indie rock riffs, unashamedly parochial lyrical style and some stellar songwriting suggest Sam McTrusty and his cohorts can easily fly the flag for the Scotrock movement long after Biffy disappear into the shadows.

But as long as their arena-dwelling fellow countrymen occupy the forefront of the populist rock consciousness can Twin Atlantic really compete?

Perhaps competiton is neither fair nor realistic. Complementing Biffy would be a good place to start and what Twin Atlantic do offer is a slightly less commercial, youthful alternative to their million-selling colleagues. All those already jaded by the big Biffy sell-out may find salvation in a quartet still youthful and naïve enough to guarantee credibility.

The title track and the equally magnificent Make A Beast Of Myself are brilliant examples of modern, thought-provoking rock. Made for radio and crafted for festival tents this deadly duo scream potential, quality and understated cool. And for now that’s all Twin Atlantic really need. SR

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Twin The Money

Mastodon – Live At The Aragon (Reprise)

Every good metal band requires a strong live album to cement its position within a genre demanding real evidence of the ability to deliver. As a truly great metal band Mastodon were, therefore, set the challenge to conjure something extra special from the mixing desk.

That the progressive tinged rock behemoths are leaders in their field is surely beyond doubt. In the shape of  2009’s Crack The Skye any lingering suggestion of potential segued into convincing proof that Brent Hinds and his buddies were set fair to rule the roost for years to come.

The tour which followed that landmark release emphasised that belief. A Top 10 rushonrock show of the year in 2010, miss the Crack The Skye presentation and you missed out. This CD/DVD record of the event tells you everything you need to know about the unrelenting metal juggernaut that is Mastodon.

Crack The Skye is given the full live treatment with rhythm king Brann Dailor is barnstorming form. A drummer’s drummer, he beats the s**t out of every tune that comes his way and at times it’s tough for his band mates to compete.

Hinds and Troy Sanders deliver a pin sharp lesson in live vocals and Bill Kelliher does what he always does: the business. If there’s any justice in the rock world this will go down in the annals as Mastodon’s Live And Dangerous. It’s that good. SR

rushonrock rated: 10/10 Full Mast

Slaves To Gravity – Underwaterouterspace (SPV)

From the off Slaves To Gravity – winners of Kerrang! magazine’s Best British Newcomer in 2008 – have produced quality post-grunge by the bucket load. And the follow-up to their Scatter The Crow debut charts a band continuing to plough a confident furrow in the face of changing tastes and short-lived trends.

The familiar, soaring vocal on the mesmerising Misery Pills could have been plucked from the early 90s Seattle scene and yet Slaves To Gravity are making the kind of records many of their most obvious heroes never quite managed – mixing groove-laden alternative rock with a sharp metal edge.

Frontman Tommy Gleeson’s Chris Cornell meets Kurt Cobain vocal delivery is spookily familiar to anyone who bore witness to the uncomfortable birth of the grunge scene but tracks like the ambitious Last Ignition offer hope that there’s an individual with his own style and steely determination in there somewhere.

If Gleeson is still struggling to escape the stifling bonds of his big-name predecessors then, for a band just half a decade into their career, Underwaterouterspace is nothing if not an accomplished effort. An incredibly smooth production job, just enough variation (This Time It’s Terminal is an emotive example) and expert musicianship make for an incredibly rewarding listen – whatever your tastes or preconceptions.

That the British rock scene is still spawning bands of Slave To Gravity’s quality is something to be proud of and even those quick to write off the Londoners as lazy Seattle apologists must recognise a talent pool capable of flooding the airwaves this summer. SR

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Gravity Defying

True Widow – As High As The Highest Heavens And From The Center To The Circumference Of The Earth (Kemado)

There’s just no need. No need for such a ridiculous album title. No need for such a de-tuned, de-motivated, depressingly dull album. And no need to say much more.

Well, Ok, for those of you who fancy the soundtrack to your suicide then this seriously drab ‘stonegaze’ warrants further comment. In effect we’re talking about nine songs which make you want to bury your head in a pile of needles and spend the next week rolling around with your eyes wide open.

Trying to imagine watching this underwhelming crew live is akin to envisioning a time when the Daily Mail dictates the British media and Indian takeaways are taxed at a higher level than cigarettes. In other words some kind of brutal armageddon.

The seven minute-plus ball ache that is Boaz perfectly illustrates all of the above points. It’s an arduous trek through lo-fi scuzz metal which never promises to reach any kind of artistic peak. Thankfully the vocals are buried somewhere behind the band’s eroded backline – if we could actually make out what True Widow were saying then the world would be an incredibly grim place.

Avoid at all costs isn’t a strong enough warning. This record could destroy your faith in rock music for good. SR

rushonrock rated: 2/10 Widow Makers