We review and rate this year’s albums from Touchstone, Attica Rage and Define My Addiction – all bands you’ll be hearing a lot more from in 2012.
Hertfordshire’s Touchstone get more and more exciting. Whether it’s watching one of their wizardly live shows or hearing the product of their songs on record – they’re an increasingly tantalising phenomenon for their smooth splicing of hooky melodic rock and powerful prog metal.
From The City Sleeps we discover that this is an act that know how to beat the ‘tough follow-up’ syndrome that the Wintercoast album could easily have disparaged them with.
Corridors kicks off this prog beast nicely, but it’s the beginning of When Shadows Fall that truly initiates the album. It has a spacey, native American atmosphere that builds to the crescendo of a great powerchord strike. A momentary silence ensues before some stop-start riffs initiate accessible Marillion-esque keyboard verses with further clean riffery. It’s a track that keeps Touchstone on course to top that critically acclaimed second record, and is with hindsight, one of the best on this third studio attempt.
As the record moves on it’s filled with lush melody, but essentially with snaking variety. Sleeping Giants will emotionally rouse you with some extraordinary synth playing from Rob Cottingham and gorgeous vocal harmonies of Kim Seviour. Good Boy Psycho is not only another great achievement of the album, but ranks up there with the best of Touchstone’s back-catalogue. Any fan of classic picking will surely acknowledge that Adam Hodgson’s soloing on the near-seven-minute epic is quite angelic to say the least.
Adding more splendour, Anna Marie-Wayne – daughter of War Of The Worlds composer Jeff Wayne – performs narration on title track The City Sleeps and Touchstone pull out another prog behemoth.
If Touchstone are a first time for you, give The City Sleeps a few spins and you’ll undoubtedly appreciate the musicianship of this promising band. As for their die-hard followers – sit back and enjoy yet another above stellar release from the talented English five-piece. CR
rushonrock rated: 8.5/10 Touching
Announcing last month that guitarist Big C would be leaving the band, Attica Rage had no idea that their second album would be their last with the much-loved guitarist. Nevertheless, as we assess some of the records that slipped under our radar a few months ago, we take pleasure in hearing a decent release from the Scottish band.
If you’ve heard the name but not the music, Attica Rage craft big bluesy riffs and create some feel-good hard rock and chunky trad metal to jive to. But that’s not where it ends. There’s a much rockier motive than most in Rage’s sound. Through The Inner Eye seriously gets you thinking about this band in a way you might not have before. It’s a gorgeous song stacked with mega riffs and not without its subtleties – some fine harmonising and soft acoustic picking clearly indicating that Attica Rage have talent beyond the usual formulaic appreciation of heavy metal or hard rock. But when they do want to produce a ‘no strings attached’ traditional, hard rocking tune, there’s no problems.
Ashamed marks the band’s stadium rock intentions with some silly crowd sounds cheering in an arena – a bad move for the record which was moving quite nicely till then. From the more easily heard sound that Attica Rage don, it’s already obvious that they’re out hunting for the jugular of big-time audiences. If that’s their honest, unclouded intention, then so be it.
High has a quirky bass line with a dark, intoxicating atmosphere to it and Altea is a nice acoustic number with sorrowful chelo surprisingly playing a lovely part in the intro track that leads to the groove-driven Altered Reality. What can be appreciated about Road Dog is that it isn’t simply another Sabbath or Led Zep rip off with imitation prioritised over creativity. It’s an accessible record with clearly marked intentions and clever moments. Watch classic rockers and heavy metallers equally enjoy the Glaswegian act for some years to come. CR
rushonrock rated: 6.5/10 All The Rage
Aussie four-piece Define My Addiction join the host of metal acts spilling out from the bottom of the world. Debut album Systemic tells us that the rockers have got the talent, just not the imagination to focus those talents into something special.
Title track Systemic begins promisingly with a stop-start crunch of big riffs. Blending a number of styles takes careful planning if conscious of it, or natural finesse if not, and Define My Addiction have neither. Carriers feels badly disjointed. You can get a general sense of what their ambitions are but it’s unfortunately a failed exercise of eclectic work clumsily sandwiched together.
They have clean singing passages that would please a Godsmack fan and jerky, jagged metallic riffs that make equal frustration as enjoyment. The ambition to splice proggy edges into their tempo is borderline. Their prog movements are raw and feel forced at times. Sleep Is For The Weak is suspect and certainly one of the weaker tracks on the record.
There are a couple of transitions that don’t feel particularly smooth and it holds up the record like someone just hit the emergency stop without a purpose. It is a rarity but nevertheless worth noting – we just hope they’ll come back with enough collective strength to stir us with some future metal releases. Potential – they’ve got it. But it’s not being realised here. CR
rushonrock rated: 4/10 Define Metal
This week’s reviewer: Calum Robson