We check out the latest releases from returning thrash metal masters Overkill, prog rockers It Bites, math metal titans Meshuggah and trad metal standard bearers 3 Inches Of Blood.
Every Sunday we name the RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK and wrap up the remainder of the new week’s new releases in the BEST OF THE REST.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Alt Rock
With its confrontational album title and bold imagery it would be natural to assume that this was the most dangerous Lostprophets album since their blistering debut.
In actual fact this is a multi-million selling rock band playing it predictably safe – serving up a selection of radio friendly made-for-festival anthems coated in all the lavish post-production gloss we’ve come to expect from the Welsh stars.
As a result Weapons is another incredibly catchy, well crafted and vibrant modern metal record that proves more than a match for rivals from across the Pond including Linkin Park, Avenged Sevenfold and Shinedown.
Ian Watkins and co. have matured into a slick act so far removed from their Thefakesoundofprogress days that it’s often impossible to imagine what Lostprophets were and where they’ve come from: Jesus Walks is almost like Coldplay cranking it up.
The careful juxtaposition of That’s All I Need and A Song From Where I’m From showcases the band’s power and finesse and if the latter is just a little cheesy it somehow works.
When Watkins sings ‘You bring a gun, we’ll bring an arsenal’ you do wonder whether he can really deliver. But Weapons is a blast from start to finish as one of rock’s true big guns fires its latest salvo. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Choose Your Weapons
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Heavy Metal
This is just about as good as it gets if you like your heavy metal traditional, loud and meaty.
3 Inches Of Blood have been honing their craft for 12 years now and it shows: this is, by some stretch, their finest album to date and deserves to propel the Candian crew into the mainstream.
Ardent followers of metal convention, the ‘Blood excel on bullish tunes like the balls-to-the-wall Storming Juno but equally impressive is their desire to diversify with the Tull-esque The Chief And The Blade an unexpected highlight.
When you opt to call a record Long Live Heavy Metal it’s not going to shift bucket loads in emo, punk or indie rock circles. But don’t expect 3IOB to shed a tear on that front. They’ve made a metal record for metal lovers at the dawn of metal’s new age. And we love it. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Long Live 3 Inches Of Blood
Genre: Math Metal
It takes patience, a penchant for sheer power and a particular fondness for bizarre time signatures and sweeping prog metal soundscapes before you can truly appreciate the math metal monster that is Meshuggah. But this is one musical marathon worth completing.
Growling vocals, bass lines commonly found on Rush classics and some seriously impressive shredding are all vital ingredients in the Koloss mix. As has become common with Meshuggah’s most intricate work this album is initially intimidating, ultimately rewarding and always evidence of a band that genuinely means business.
Favouring unexpected twists and frankly bizarre turns there’s never any danger of one song morphing into the next. Even within tunes it’s possible to lose track of time and any sense of direction – Behind The Sun, its bright and cheery intro rapidly descending into the bass-heavy mix, is about as accessible as it gets with these guys.
Meshuggah don’t make music for the masses: they make massive music. Not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s more like a flask of Jagermeister. Koloss is another major achievement. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Kolossal
Genre: Thrash Metal
The Big Who? In an age dominated by Metallica and their buddies Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth it’s easy to forget that bubbling beneath the surface lies a raft of thrash metal titans all deserving of their own place in the genre’s riotous history.
Overkill came out of the US in 1980 and, by the time they were making records of the quality of Under The Influence and The Years Of Decay, had more potential than most to cling to the coat tails of Metallica et al.
But for all of their commitment to thrash metal’s more robust roots the brainchild of Bobby Ellsworth never enjoyed the commercial success required to reach the next level. The Electric Age asks the question: why?
Fusing modern steel with traditional power, Overkill have made an album destined to cross genres and appeal to Machine Head fans as much as Death Angel die-hards. Where Save Yourself often sounds like classic Judas Priest, opener Come And Get It is six minutes of thrillingly fast-paced thrash. And there’s much, much more where that came from. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Overkiller, No Filler
Genre: Progressive Rock
The re-emergence of It Bites, with the release of 2008’s magnificent The Tall Ships, marked a welcome return from a much-missed band responsible for three of the finest progressive rock-tinged pop records of the 1990s. Map Of The Past maintains a new age of vibrant creativity from the supremely talented Cumbrians.
This is, of course, an It Bites without the distinctive tones of former frontman Francis Dunnery and while die-hard fans are still getting to grips with their favourite band shorn of its flag-waving talisman this is no time to look back.
With the more than able John Mitchell taking over vocal duties, it’s an exciting future that should concern followers of the band responsible for the classic Calling All The Heroes: much of Map Of The Past echoes that golden mid-80s age without ever sounding dated.
A cleverly conceived concept album, delivered with genuine passion and steeped in Marillion-esque majesty, this rich and varied record will keep you coming back for more. It’s British progressive rock at its evocative best, paying due respect to a famous legacy and looking to the future with obvious optimism. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Bites Back