Plus we rate the latest records by The Treatment, Serpentine, Lechery, Epysode, Wolfpakk, Pro-Pain and As They Burn.
Fans of 80s hard rock have never had it so good (well, not since the 80s, anyway) and it’s time to add The Treatment to a list of homegrown bands ripping up club stages across the country and brazenly proving there’s nothing wrong with singalong choruses, soaring guitar solos and flowing locks.
If you’ve joined the legions of fans following Jettblack, have a feeling Heaven’s Basement are finally going to make it and get a kick out of The Crave then there’s every chance this lot will nudge out all of the above as your new favourite band. With the songs to match the hype and the live show to justify the swagger it’s fair to say The Treatment are the cure to a cold, wet and miserable summer (and a whole host of other things besides).
Opener Departed lays down the ground rules – good, old fashioned kick-ass rock n’ roll delivered with a panache way beyond the years of these youthful upstarts. And if every successive song follows the same tried and tested formula who cares when it’s this good?
D***k, F**k, F***t tells it like it is if you’re a kid making his way through life wearing denim and leather. The soundtrack to so many Friday nights spent laughing in the faces of riotous chavs will bring a wry smile to the face of any hirsute rocker and it just about stays the right side of clichéd.
The All The Young Dudes/God Gave Rock And Roll To You mash-up that is Nothing To Lose But Our Minds sees The Treatment wear their hearts proudly on their sleeves. Shameless as it is, this raucous rip-off is a fitting tribute to the music this band so clearly adore.
Given time to grow as a creative force it would be gratifying to think The Treatment could build on The Answer-like bluesy rock of I Fear Nothing but even if they remain true to their cheese rock roots there’ll be no complaints here.
A genuine contender for album of the year and another shot in the arm for the burgeoning British rock scene. SR
rushonrock rated: 9/10 The Cure
Mentioned by many as the future of British melodic rock, the sugary sweet Serpentine find themselves at somewhat of a crossroads.
Make no mistake about it, LADIHD is a fantastically assured follow-up to last year’s rushonrock rated 8/10 A Touch Of Heaven but what you hear on this record isn’t necessarily what Serpentine sound like in September 2011.
As with the band’s assured debut, classy veteran Tony Mills take charge of vocal duties on another sensational album but there’s a new man at the helm these days with Matt Black behind the mic. And bearing in mind Mills is one of the reasons why LADIHD is such a triumph the jury has to be out on Serpentine’s immediate future – an opening night Firefest 2011 slot should answer that.
In the meantime this keyboard-heavy classic – founder member Gareth David Noon is in fine form throughout – features the delicious Where Do We Go From Here?, Love Is Blue, Heartbreak Town and seven more superb examples of classic British rock at its very best.
Quantity hasn’t diluted quality despite the release of two records in as many years and it seems Serpentine boast creativity to burn. We’re looking forward to their 2012 offering already… SR
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Serpentine Of Their Lives
Lechery – In Fire (Metal Heaven)
Don’t judge an album by its sleeve. It’s a lesson which should be drummed into every fan of rock and metal because, let’s face it, for every arty classic (think Hysteria, just about any Yes album and Master Of Puppets) there’s a cheap and cheerful stinker. Sleeve-wise Lechery’s In Fire belongs firmly in the latter camp.
The band name is bad enough. But then there’s the lazy font and the derivative, fingerless black leather glove clutching a chain. Welcome to cliches-ville. And yet beneath the surface there’s a reasonabley good hard rock record just waiting to be heard.
We’re not saying Lechery are in line to win a major songwriting award anytime soon – in fact some of their tunes are pretty basic – but Martin Bengtsson and his mates possess a happy knack for penning some pretty memorable metal fare.
A vocal style which bounces between Klaus Meine, Blackie Lawless and even Sammy Hagar at his heaviest suits some serious riffing. And when we say serious riffing we mean serious riffing. The middles segment of In Fire‘s title track will have Maiden fans dancing in the aisles – but that’s not the only highlight here.
Heart Of A Heavy Metal Virgin might be a little too Spinal Tap for the metal purist but it’s a great take-off of classic Anvil and Lethal could have been stolen from many a late 80s/early 90s WASP album. Not afraid to ape their heroes, Lechery really do the business when it comes to delivering quality rock with an edge and we suspect this lot are pretty mental live! Shit cover, superb music. SR
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Fire Starter
First time around this gritty debut from Swedish retro giants Graveyard all but slipped under the rock radar but with the runaway success of 2011’s Hisingen Blues comes a timely reissue of the band’s formative record.
It might lack some of the smoother 70s soaked grooves of its predecessor but there’s plenty of evidence of a band more than capable of fulfilling its obvious potential. Tracks like Lost In Confusion and Blue Souls are the kind of badass numbers which must have persuaded the hirsute quartet to continue on their path towards global glory and anyone fortunate enough to witness a wild High Voltage Festival set this summer must be glad they did.
What makes the trademark Graveyard sound so good is their refusal to give in to the temptation of a clean production and modern, post-grunge sound but there are times when the band’s self-titled debut is just a little too rough around the edges. Thankfully the balance was just right on Hisingen Blues and this is very much an experimental release, occasionally lacking in confidence but never wanting for songwriting prowess.
As a glimpse of what Graveyard would go on to become this is mightily interesting. But the follow-up is far superior in every way. SR
rushonrock rated: 6/10 ‘Yard Stick
After 20 years it’s not strictly true to say Pro-Pain are still going strong. But they are still going.
Significantly one of the finest tunes here is a bristling re-working of the title track from their 1992 Roadrunner Records debut. Foul Taste Of Freedom was always a thumping tune, purposefully blurring the lines between thrash metal and hardcore and sticking a middle finger up at the sudden fashion for Seattle grunge. Almost two decades on and it’s still a song which resonates with any fan of good, honest metal.
But if that’s the best Pro-Pain can do, with another 11 albums under their belt, then has it really been worth all the line-up changes, label moves and days on the road without ever hitting true paydirt? Frontman Garty Meskill would probably say so but then he’s the only founder member still plugging away – illness stripped the band of Tom Klimchuck earlier this year and suddenly it seems as if the New Yorkers are facing a significant career crossroads.
Live versions of F*ck It, In For The Kill and Destroy The Enemy are vibrant enough to suggest there’s plenty of life in the old dogs yet and it would be a crying shame if this career retrospective turned out to be the final statement from a band with a big reputation on the hardcore scene. Then again there’s a need for some rapid reinvention and refocussing – replicating Foul Taste Of Freedom isn’t the answer but emulating it could well be. SR
rushonrock rated: 6/10 Pain Relief
So to this week’s ‘supernatural thriller concept album’ and, as expected, there’s a whole lot to take in as you immerse yourself in the new project from Virus IV’s Samuel Arkan.
Featuring an array of symphonic metal royalty and more twists and turns than Jon Bob Jovi’s best 80s perm, Obsessions delivers a feast of over-produced anthems and intricate arrangements guaranteed to thrill geek-rockers the world over.
Arkan doesn’t do things by half and whether you’re enamoured by the rousing title track or left bamboozled by the seven minutes-plus March Of The Ghosts there are more talking points here than you’d expect to hear on a week’s worth of Newsnight. Obsessions makes Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime appear relatively simple and the complicated nature of the storyline is just one of the obstacles to overcome before this ambitious album can be truly appreciated.
In this day and age of immediate media and superfast downloads it’s doubtful whether there’s still a population of music buyers out there still willing or able to sit down and engage with a record of this nature. It takes time and commitment and even then there’s no guarantee of 100% satisfaction – even if a tune like Gemini Syndrom leaves hairs standing on end.
With so many stellar names jostling for position the overall feeling is one of too many cooks spoiling the musical broth – Arkan might be the man behind the concept but somewhere along the line he lost control. Easily done. SR
rushonrock rated: 6/10 Epysode Near Yet So Far
Michael Voss (ex-Casanova and Mad Max) and Mark Sweeney (ex-Crystal Ball) know their 80s metal and this collaboration mixes generic riffs with spiky vocals and well-placed keys to create a decent enough tribute to a genre on the rise.
Dark Horizons, the second track here, is spoilt by a ham-fisted chanted chorus but otherwise captures a classic sound beloved by MTV bosses and label bosses alike 25 years ago. With a Europe-esque vocal laid over an FM Radio-friendly rhythm and a Sunset Strip-off solo there’s no better example of where Wolfpakk see their future (and celebrate the past).
At just under seven minutes, follow-up Lost ups the metal ante somewhat with a hard-edged intro and ambitions to become something like Savatage in their pomp. The female vocal will appeal to fans of Within Temptation (although it sounds uncannily like Katherine Jenkins jamming with Helloween) but Wolfpakk never sound entirely comfortable rolling out a track which appears to have more to do with a nod to current trends than their underlying desire to glory in the past.
Set closer Wolfony (what?) is a whopping 10 minutes long (to the second) but aside from the ridiculous title it’s just too pompous for words. Compared to the cliched but foot-stompingly fantastic Slam Down The Hammer it’s a poor reflection of Wolfpakk’s best work and will test the patience of anyone who makes it through the livelier moments of a mixed record. There’s no point sounding like a poor man’s Dragonforce but Voss and Sweeney manage it with ease right here. SR
rushonrock rated: 6/10 Six Pakk
Don’t be deceived by the growling, grunting lyrical style – As They Burn don’t simply deal in ‘heard it all before’ death metal. France’s answer to Dimmu Borgir are as progressive as they are powerful and this punchy debut is a frightening prospect for the band’s European rivals.
If this is what As They Burn are capable of now then imagine their ferocity in fiver years’ time? Bless My Will is a bludgeoning beast of a tune which takes some beating. But Scarlett The Sacred Whore is built upon a thundering riff which belongs to the very best in Bay Area thrash – these fearless newcomers to the metal scene clearly don’t want to be pigeon-holed one album in and on this evidence there’s no danger of that happening anytime soon.
As summer gives way to autumn there’s no better soundtrack to darker nights and an increasingly uncertain future. As They Burn have crafted a disturbing yet varied, dark yet enlightening record rich in metal’s wide scope for aural bombardment. Watch this lot with interest – theirs is the sound of a band with much, much more to come. SR
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Burn Notice
This week’s reviews: Simon Rushworth