Plus we catch up with Magnum‘s (pictured) latest offering and check out The Peckham Cowboys, Nile, Cradle Of Filth and Autumn.
Quantity doesn’t always guarantee quality. Germany’s Riot have been together for over 35 years and their latest outing Immortal Soul is pretty bland.
Excitingly enough for fans, the four-piece who performed on the Thundersteel and The Privelege Of Power records are together as a collective again for this 14th attempt.
The hard-rocking early days of the band are slightly surfacing here, alongside poor lyricism, monotonous choruses and general blown-up drama.
Sins Of The Father is brought down by the ridiculous “I know, I know, the bottle tells me so” repetitious chorus, although the percussive twists at the beginning of the song are impressive. The standard is brought down again with the cringing lyrics of Insanity and the boring Whiskey Man; simply running into bland and uninspiring verses.
There is a consollation on this record and it’s Crawling – a thumping Dio-bow and a tune that will rally the masses on the live stand. Follow-up Wings Are For Angels has a speed metal beat laced with melodramatic vocal wails from original vocalist Tony Moore, who returned to the fort last year. Other than this, and the Led Zep-influenced final track Echoes, this is a record that does nothing to resonate as a stand-out title. CR
rushonrock rated: 4/10 Soul Destroying
Just as they did with UFO a few months back, the recently revitalised SPV have decided to repackage the best of Magnum’s most recent work in what amounts to a Best Of The Last Decade.
And if, on the surface at least, Evolution might look like a lazy money making exercise it is, in actual fact, a fine addition to the band’s bulging back catalogue.
Many of the catchiest tunes on offer here are given a subtle makeover best appreciated on some seriously expensive sound equipment.
Assessing Evolution through ear phones via your iPod won’t do the slickly produced material justice – but pumped through some high-end audio technology and it’s easy to appreciate why Magnum’s blend of melodic progressive rock continues to set new standards.
New tracks The Fall and Do You Know Who You Are? offer ample evidence that there’s still much to look forward to from a band who last confounded the critics with The Visitation – one of 2011’s very best releases. But it is the title track from that fine record which stands out as the jewel in Evolution’s crown.
If you’ve missed what Magnum have been doing since the late 90s then this is the perfect place to get up the speed. And what they’ve been doing is making some exceptional music. SR
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Evolutionary
Folk metal’s relative boom is great news for fans of bizarre parochial instruments and indecipherable lyrics delving deep into ancient history. And Metsatoll do the whole shebang better than most.
Mixing a myriad of weird sounds with tribal beats and growling lyrics, there’s a certain addictive quality to the Estonian crew’s finest album to date. The haunting opener Daybreak, building to a foreboding knocking sound, ushers in a fantastic range of metal-forged folk and this is one record that’ll have you coming back for more.
Rolf Harris pops up with his didgeridoo (not really, but it sure sounds like the great man) to kick off Land Full Of Stones and there’s a surprising aural twist to every one of the 11 tracks spread across the magical Ulg.
Markus ‘Rabapagan’ Teeäär’s unrelenting vocals are a joy to behold but, with all due respect to the eerie frontman, it’s the instrumental latitude that makes this essential listening.
Bog-Harp is brilliant and six-minute epic The Howl is the perfect showcase for a band that takes its name from an ancient Estonian euphemism for wolf. This is a special record from a unique band. SR
rushonrock rated: 9/10 For Folk’s Sake
A mix of horrible background noise and moments of truly inspired songwriting, Flog It! sounds like the product of disparate recording sessions, a lack of focus and a band rapidly running out of time.
If the idea is to create an as-live vibe on an album boasting as many soaring highs as indecipherable lows then it kinda works. But do we really want to be thrown into the heart of a heaving south London boozer when we could be listening to what this talented trio can really do?
Driving force Guy Bailey, founder member of the Quireboys and finally hitting the comeback trail after a spell in the musical wildnerness (who can forget last summer’s High Voltage Festival cameo with his old mucker Spike?) is an undeniably smart musician.
Yet here he plays too hard on the Cockney rebel image with the otherwise listenable This Is The Sound Of Millwall spoilt by its frankly ridiculous title. Opener South London Thing will put off scores of potential converts long before they’ve delved into the meat of Flog It! and choosing to kick off with the weakest tune on offer is just one of the many bizarre traits set to hamper Bailey and his band.
And yet The Peckham Cowboys simply ooze potential on the ‘Quireboys meet Kraus-era Robert Plant’ lo-fi brilliance of Crackhouse Blues. You might be forgiven for thinking you’re about to catch an episode of I’m A Celebrity… as the intro rolls for With The Good Lord’s Permission but a weird opening segues into another fine song.
At times it’s as if the best album of 2011 has suddenly landed six weeks before Christmas but all too often this is disjointed, desperate stuff. The Peckham Cowboys could be on to something but even they don’t seem to know what that might be. SR
rushonrock rated: 5/10 Peckhamfisted
Cradle Of Filth Live – DVD
Cradle Of Filth’s performance at Graspop Festival is mixed. The reception from the Belgian crowd is modest initially. It isn’t the tightest performance by the British queens of extreme. Even though Dani attempts an early rally – calling for the crowd to be louder than Bullet For My Valentine who are playing on the main stage, the performance has its ups and downs.
There are such classics as From The Cradle To Enslave and of course the catchy Nymphetamine which are particular highlights. But it’s Lilith Immaculate that captures imagination on this 11-track performance. Dani’s impossible screeching voice is consistent throughout as well. It does feel disjointed on occasion from the instrumental symphonic soundscape and Allender’s sturdy riffery, but for the best part it’s nailed on the spot and in the right places.
As Dani Filth has pointed put, ‘this is something for fans to sink their teeth into’ until they craft a new record. It’s half-way house, only for devoted fans of the Suffolk act. There’s plenty of them to keep happy too – as we’re reminded in their new rockumentary… CR
rushonrock rated: 7/10
You Can’t Polish A Turd But You Can Roll It In Glitter – Rockumentary
As far as rockumentaries go, we’ve seen the heartwarming Anvil to the damn-right ugly Some Kind Of Monster. So where does Filth’s aptly-named documentary stand?
Well, it’s not as revolutionary or extreme as the two aforementioned ones, but it’s certainly entertaining enough for Cradle-fanatics. The negatives of it would be brushed aside by most obsessives of the act, but here are some of them anyway.
The editing of the piece flits excessively through different areas of little interest. As they tour across Europe, there’s no particular focus on each respective city and random bits of footage are rattled off before moving to another area. It would have been nice to see some concentration – as this does seem like a junkyard of footage slung together, quite haphazardly.
The positives do make the DVD worth a look though. They have consistent interview footage with Dani Filth and do eventually get some good interview material from James McIlroy, who tells us a little bit about musical expression and what being in a band is all about for him.
It’s a direction that organisers should have taken throughout, given Filth’s obvious monumental European following. We wanted to get their opinions on why and what has turned the tides of extreme metal music in these far-out regions. The menial aspect of the DVD is however, of some interest – you’ll get Dani telling you he’s bitten by a spider in their coach and that it’s “swelled up!”
Take them as a bit of fun with tongue firmly in cheek and you can derive enjoyment – laugh at their cheese, cry in their awe (as one Kiev fan did when they hit the stage) or nod your head with a stern face of appreciation – Cradle Of Filth are a fun band. So what’s the harm in that? Not black metal enough? Harrumph! CR
rushonrock rated: 6/10
Evermore Darkly – CD
The third and final instalment of this package is the Evermore Darkly… EP – containing two fresh tracks, three demo versions, one remix, an extended song and a teaser.
New audio samples of creepy voices in Transmission From Hell, lead into the brand spanker – Thank Your Lucky Stars. It will surely appease fans with its crushing, Allender riffing, charismatic pace and well-layered Dani vocals.
The extended version of Lilith Immaculate has a lovely escapist bit of keyboard, strings and horns in a soothing classical epic mid-way – transcending into some powerful riffing and increasing the length to eight-minutes.
There’s even a trance remix of Forgive Me Father, which works well enough but is not a scratch on hearing the interesting demo version. The demo sees the glitter stripped away from the track, perhaps appealing to the Filth lover of old in its rougher edges.
A teaser of Summer Dying Fast‘s orchestral remix finishes the EP. It will be fully released with the completely orchestral Midnight In The Labyrinth album, due April 2012. To top it all off is the Lilith Immaculate video that you get with the DVD – it’s got plenty of blood and a crackin’ set of tits in them too. Whoever said you weren’t spoilt?! CR
rushonrock rated: 6.5/10 Extra Filth
Five albums into their career, these Dutch rockers have conjured a shining gothic pearl with Cold Comfort. Autumn might be the band you brush past for the average name. If you’re an unassuming listener with an open mind to all that’s labelled gothic, you might find this record slowly creeping up you.
Lyrically, the sextet offer a little more than the average goth metal artist, with tender descriptive verses that compliment the musical exploits of this tight unit. And what musical work it is.
Album opener The Scarecrow is wick with very doomy riffing and layered carefully with lush sections of strings and Marjan Welman’s gorgeous voice. Follow-up and title track Cold Comfort has an infectious groove weaved into its pulsating melodic riffs. Overlapping vocals sway in alluring harmonisations that tenderly take you away with their subtle but astute charisma.
The dullest moment on record is Retrospect. It dithers around a number of structures, feeling particularly restless or lost in its conviction. But refreshingly, it’s a rarity. Truth Be Told will dazzle you with lovely, deep chord progressions and its wintry atmospheric coating while final track The Venamoured is an apt bolshy finisher to an impressive album. Alongside While Heaven Wept’s Fear Of Infinity this is a stand-out, ‘heartfelt’ highlight of the year. CR
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Comfort Blanket
Since their formation in 1993, Nile have been a distinguished force – not only for spearheading ferocious yet technical death metal music, but for their blazing enthusiasm for ancient Egyptian culture. It’s a passion that has evidently stood the test of time. Go back to 1994, when the then-three piece outed this self-titled debut demo and it’s clear of that much.
Renamed Worship The Animal and re-released with wider distribution, this EP is not just a nostalgic path directly to the South Carolina act’s original line-up, but also the historic gateway to a precursor sound – a harbinger of potential that would later be unleashed on unsuspecting DM masses.
This rough reverse ride to Nile’s beginnings reminds of a time when Chief Spires fronted the band in particular – but it’s probably not in the way many younger fans will remember him. While Spires isn’t exactly a typical tuneful singer, his vocals are much more melodic in context of Nile’s discography but still with those destructive moments of bulldozing growls that would later define him. Riffs are as abrasive as ever on opener La Chant du Cygre and the drum work of Pete Hammoura is significant for its competence in tight off-beat executions and all-round versatility.
Obviously that early Egyptian influence is lushly interwoven through almost secretive layers of the music, adding to Nile’s very unique charm – something that removes them from being your next average death metal act.
How many bands have you counted that have an embarrassing first demo? There’s plenty, and it can be forgiven of course. But this isn’t a collection filler for a fanatic or a piece to analyse in fathoming the fantastic success of their career, it’s to be ultimately enjoyed by even the initial unbelievers. Having said this, fans of early Nile – this is a must. CR
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Nile Belter
Were it not for the fact that Mike Patton is one of the most important metal singers to ever walk the planet then this ambient soundtrack wouldn’t really have any place on the pages of rushonrock.
But anyone worthy of fronting Faith No More deserves respect for his wider back catalogue and, in its place, The Solitude Of Prime Numbers – the soundtrack to the Italian film of the same name – is an incredible collection of music guaranteed to stir the emotions.
Mixing heavy bass lines with deep synths, subtle piano breaks and the odd vocal effect this is not what your average FNM fan will be listening to. But maybe they should. For any fan of music in its many and varied forms there’s something instantly appealing about an album with a recurring theme of quality running right through it.
19-Radius Of Convergence is a killer tune given the right circumstances and epic closer 53-Weight Of Consequences must be one of the finest pieces of music Patton has ever penned. We’re not sure what the numbers are about and frankly we don’t care – this is all about the sensational soundscape which quickly immerses the listener within a bubble of aural bravado.
Patton is a true artistic talent in a position to let his imagination flow. Here you don’t want the creative journey to end – when it does don’t be surprised to find yourself fumbling for the repeat button and relaxing all over again. SR
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Beautiful Patton
This week’s reviewers: Simon Rushworth and Calum Robson.