Plus we review and rate the latest albums by the reformed Beggars And Thieves and label mates Royal Hunt.
Yes – In The Present: Live From Lyon (Frontiers)
It’s been a while since tribute singer David Benoit followed in the footsteps of Journey’s Arnel Pineda and actually joined the band he aped for so many years.
And while Pineda’s effervescent presence has proved an instant hit with AOR fans old and new, the almost laughable posing employed by Benoit on the last Yes tour (from which this set was culled) smacked of an awkward lack of self-confidence.
Yet as a singer he excels with a voice more than capable of carrying the most complicated of passages favoured by the prog rock legends. Shut your eyes and this could be the vintage Yes line-up delivering all the bug hits and more.
Benoit, of course, has time to work on his cabaret-style image and it’s the vocal prowess that really matters. A lively Lyon crowd certainly reacts favourably to the new Yes frontman and on Yours Is No Disgrace, in particular, the new boy nails every note.
Throw in a member of the Wakeman clan, albeit Oliver rather than Rick, add the stabilising presence of Steve Howe, Alan White and Chris Squire, and this latest release in a long line of live Yes abums more than matches what’s gone before.
Perhaps one for the completionists it nevertheless ticks all the boxes where the sheer outrageousness of prog is concerned. SR
rushonrock rated: Yes. No Maybes.
For those utterly turned off by the generic tosh of Korn’s nu-metal legacy it could be time to reassess one of the most maligned acts in living memory.
Such is the vitality underpinning The Path Of Totality that this collection of dubstep collaborations could very well reinvent Jonathan Davis and his buddies as a band worth watching.
Of course there’s no getting away from the Marmite effect of Davis’ nasal delivery and the metal community remains polarised by one of the genre’s most devisive frontmen.
But the likes of Skrillex, revelling in his role as the new darling of the alt metal media, and Excision breathe new life into an ailing rock dinosaur and tunes like My Wall and Get Up! are, whisper it quietly, really rather good.
There will be millions of music lovers the world over who take one look at the name on this album sleeve and run a mile. The more enlightened will give Korn a second chance and their generosity might just be rewarded. SR
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Korn Again Metallers
Beggars And Thieves – We Are The Broken (Frontiers)
Ahmet Ertegun (almost) always knew a good band when he saw one and in 1989 it seemed few had the potential of Beggars And Thieves.
Signed by the Atlantic Records chief on the strength of a five-track demo, their debut album delivered on that promise and then some. But grunge came along and the band’s story remained one of missed opportunities and fateful decisions.
Until now. From the emotive keyboard intro to opener We Come Undone thru the expansive creativity of Oil And Water to the sheer class of Stranded this is a monster of a melodic rock album.
Louie Merlino’s vocals are occasionally mesmerising and always meaningful, making this more than just a lame throwback to the band’s occasionally immature early work.
Beggars And Thieves have grown up and grown in stature: this is a band finally poised to capitalise on the partnership of Merlino and Ronnie Mancuso and win the plaudits that should have come its way two decades earlier. SR
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Beggars’ Banquet
Royal Hunt – Show Me How To Live (Frontiers)
Releasing albums at a rate of one every two years for the past two decades, quality has occasionally suffered in the face of quantity where the career of Royal Hunt is concerned.
The 11th record of the band’s prolific career, Show Me How To Live, is different. Marking the return of lead singer DC Cooper it harks back to the classic sound of Moving Target and Paradox – much to the delight of the Danish band’s die-hard fans.
Founder member and driving force Andre Anderson has never lost that knack for crafting splendid, sprawling progressive metal masterpieces.
But two tracks into the follow-up to X it becomes clear there’s a renewed edge underpinning a powerful statement from Royal Hunt 2011-style. Another Man Down is vintage stuff with a modern twist – taking the listener on a vivid journey and all the time showcasing Cooper’s undoubted quality.
Sections of An Empty Shell might veer too close to theatrical show tune for many a traditional metal head’s liking. But a brilliant guitar solo a minute from the end more than makes up for any misgivings about the overall song structure.
Royal Hunt have a rich heritage and a name that resonates with fans of progressive rock the world over. Show Me How To Live announces their return as major players which much more to give. SR
rushonrock rated: Hunt Is On
This week’s reviews: Simon Rushworth