And we’ve reviewed and rated some cracking albums from the likes of Primal Fear (pictured), Biohazard and the evergreen Evergrey.
Every Sunday we name the rushonrock Record Of The Week and bring you the very best of the rest.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Heavy Metal
Ralf Scheepers probably dreams of being Rob Halford as soon as his head hits the pillow. And his committed one-man mission to pay homage to the charismatic Priest frontman gathers pace with each and every new Primal Fear record.
If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery then Unbreakable is the band’s most reverent nod to NWOBHM mastery yet. Mixing Priest with Saxon at every available opportunity, Scheepers and his buddies have crafted a glorious throwback to the days when faded denim and studded leather was a uniform worn with pride by millions of metal heads the world over.
Give ‘Em Hell proves, once and for all, that Primal Fear are no followers of current fashion. And lyrics like ‘Bang your head until you reach the end’ say everything you need to know about a quintet who, at the very least, know their audience.
Metal Nation would seem to see Primal Fear lay their cards firmly on the table and yet this slicker piece of hard rock owes more to the US west coast circa 1988 than anything forged in the West Midlands or Barnsley. Even so it’s a fantastic tune from a band unburdened by expectation and disinterested in trends. This is music from the heart and the heart is pounding. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Primal Instinct
BEST OF THE REST
It’s seven years since Biohazard last unleashed their distinctive mash-up of metal, punk and rap on the masses but Reborn In Defiance is the only suitable title for a record that unleashes a pent-up fury on fans who might just have felt the band’s best years were behind them.
Billy Graziadei is in typically effervescent form as he belts out hardcore anthem after hardcore anthem with the crushing Killing Me a head pounding highlight.
Countdown Doom brings the trademark rap influence to the fore and it’s a tribute to the core members of a seminal band that this angst-fuelled album never goes through the motions. Conceived as a tribute to Type O Negative’s Peter Steele, Reborn In Defiance does the job – and then some. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Bio-logical
Genre: Progressive Rock/Metal
Any band that purports to be progressive is taking an almighty risk. And while the very best emerge with their credentials intact, acts like Beyond The Bridge lay themselves wide open to the criticism that their music is simply fatuous and lacking focus.
Lazily juxtaposing a growling male vocal with a melodic female antidote, extending a number of songs beyond the five-minute mark and throwing in a flute for good measure does not guarantee progressive rock plaudits.
And quite apart from their prog-by-numbers approach, Beyond The Bridge take far too long to hit their stride. It is not until a largely predictable album reaches its pacy mid-section – The Struggle and The Difference Is Him raising the bar – that BTB’s potential is clear. Sadly it’s a fleeting glimpse of a talent unfulfilled. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Beyond Reason
Genre: Hard Rock
Former Black Sabbath frontman Tony Martin might never have earned the praise he deserved as the least famous lead singer of the world’s biggest metal band. But The Third Cage allows the multi-talented singer yet another opportunity to take his place in the pantheon of heavy rock heroes.
Often sounding like Sammy Hagar’s more bluesy brother, Martin joins forces with long-time collaborator Dario Mollo to dust off a series of retro-tinged modern classics. Cirque Du Freak’s ‘T-Rex meets Hagar-era Van Halen’ sets about exploding preconceptions from the start and Still In Love With You rides on an unashamedly Zeppelin-esque rhythm.
Don’t Know What It Is About You could sit quite happily on Whitesnake’s Slip Of The Tongue and Violet Moon sees Martin hit his vocal peak on an albeit average ballad. Overall this is an unexpected treat – enjoy at your leisure. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 MMmmm
Genre: Industrial Metal
Hot on the heels of 2010’s rushonrock rated 5/10 self-titled album, the Steel Man returns with another pounding, bass-heavy, synth-layered sheet of Teutonic metal.
It’s more of the same from a band seemingly determined to remain within the comfortable confines of a genre offering familiarity spliced with a lack of creative freedom.
For now progress, it seems, is not on the Stahlmann agenda. This is no worse than the record they released 16 months ago but, frustratingly, it’s clearly no better.
It’s difficult to understand what goes through the minds of band members resigned to replicating former glories and refusing steadfastly to reinvent or reinvigorate.
Looking for the soundtrack to celebrate this weekend’s post-Cold War Germany party? It’s right here. Otherwise avoid metal’s answer to the Pet Shop Boys at all costs. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 No Silber Lining
Genre: Progressive Metal
Still to impact fully on what should be a welcoming UK audience, the Swedish metal troupe that is Evergrey have delivered a delightful and well-timed synopsis of their 15-year career.
There’s barely a dud track on this double disc Best Of and if you only know the Stockholm quintet for cracking recent efforts Torn and Glorious Collision then this is a golden opportunity to dig deeper.
What becomes obvious is that Evergrey have never been content with standing still. Creative development is at the heart of A Decade And A Half and even if three fifths of the band quit in 2010 it’s quite clear any personality clashes only enhanced the song-writing process.
Frozen, These Scars and Words Mean Nothing are just three of the tunes that demand reappraisal as Evergrey approach the post-Glorious Collision era. If there’s any justice in the music world then the next decade and a half should be even more glorious. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Grey Matter