It’s that time of the week again when we wrap up the very best of tomorrow’s new releases and deliver the definitive verdict on the best rock and metal money can buy.
Today we assess the much-hyped debut from Fearless Vampire Killers (pictured) and check out the latest offerings from At Vance, Storm Corrosion, Before The Dawn and The Dead Wretched.
Plus we review and rate new albums by Nate Hall, Billy Vincent, Bible Of The Devil, Trioscapes and Cattle Decapitation.
Every Sunday you can discover which album wins the title of RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK. And once that’s decided we sum up the BEST OF THE REST – right here, every week.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Fearless Vampire Killers – Militia Of The Lost (Goremount Records)
Genre: Emo/Steampunk/Hard Rock
Occasionally a debut album comes right out of nowhere, slaps you in the face, drags you out of your jaded genre-locked slumber and reminds you what it was like when a new band really did represent a thrilling bolt from the blue.
Representing an unforeseen tidal wave of aural fury, Militia From The Lost sneaked up on the RUSHONROCK staff without so much as a warning splash and yet here we are, a couple of weeks down the line, utterly submerged in a sea of crazy sounds and warped storytelling.
This is truly addictive stuff whether or not you buy into the complicated concept of the fictional city of Grandomina and a re-writing of history some 700 years ago. The music is special in itself as grandiose touches of classic 70s Elton John and Queen mix fluently with growling metal, stereotypical screamo and driving hard rock.
Likeable rogue Laurence Beveridge and brooding cohort Kier Kemp offer a one-two vocal punch that underpins everything that’s ambitious, groundbreaking and head-turning about Militia Of The Lost but they’re only part of this wacky band’s way-cool appeal.
Accomplished songs like Bleed Till Sunrise have no right to pop up on a debut album and the fact that FVK are already penning prog-tinged classics in this vein begs the question where next for this wildly diverse gang of five.
Download 2012 and a support slot with William Control is the short-term answer and you’d be mad to miss a buzz band finally worth the hype. Get in early to guarantee the ride of a lifetime. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Killer Record
BEST OF THE REST
Bible Of The Devil – For The Love Of Thugs And Fools (Cruz Del Sur)
Genre: Heavy Metal
Bible Of The Devil may deliver decent enough metal for an undemanding American market but this bland Chicago band clearly belongs on the undercard of a Motorhead-meets-Ozzy bill.
Leaning heavily on Messrs Kilmister and Osbourne to create a wholly unoriginal sound, the quartet show a considerable commitment to their limited craft without ever offering any semblance of ambition.
The Parcher’s ‘Eye Of The Tiger’-esque riff serves up a rare highlight but I Know What Is Right (In The Night) sounds like it was recorded in a garage, in one take at the end of a beer-fuelled night.
Bible Of The Devil might believe they know what is right. On this evidence they’re more likely to get it completely wrong. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Bible Bashing
Storm Corrosion – Storm Corrosion (Roadrunner)
Genre: Progressive Rock
It will come as no surprise to those fans of Opeth’s hauntingly mellow Heritage that Mikael Akerfeldt’s latest project is another stunning exercise in ambivalent ambience.
Hooking up with Porcupine Tree’s progressive mastermind Steven Wilson, the one-time growler proves he really is AWOL from the death metal scene on a series of compositions surely designed with dreamy Scandinavian movie soundtracks in mind.
Yet as pleasing on the ear as Storm Corrosion’s self-titled debut may be there’s an almost sinister side to it’s bleaker twists and ethereal turns.
Happy is a fiercely ironic case in point while album closer Ljudet Innan is one of the most immersive musical experiences of the year. This is genuinely emotive stuff. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Eye Of The Storm
At Vance – Facing Your Enemy (AFM)
Genre: Hard Rock
Those Yngwie Malmsteen fans fighting a constant craving for Odyssey MkII might finally find a release in the fantastic Facing Your Enemy.
Imagine a more grizzled Joe Lynn Turner and a less orchestrated approach to songwriting and At Vance could easily be the Rising Force for 2012.
Opener Heaven Is Calling sees the band setting out their stall with genuine relish as they fuse late 80s hair metal with the familiar sound of en-vogue 21st century melodic rock.
But Facing Your Enemy is full to bursting with fist-pumping anthems: Eyes Of A Stranger, Fear No Evil and Live And Learn all induce a retro-fuelled frenzy.
And then there’s the delicious ballad Don’t Dream – At Vance have discovered the recipe for hard rock heaven and Facing Your Enemy serves up a feast of rifftastic delicacies. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Best Of Enemies
Trioscapes – Separate Realities (Metal Blade)
Genre – Experimental/fusion
If Ronnie Scott’s jazz club was frequented by bearded 30-somethings in Dillinger Escape Plan and Meshuggah shirts, then Trioscapes would be its house band.
OK, this isn’t RUSHONJAZZFUSION but the US trio deserve your attention – and not just because they’re on Metal Blade’s roster.
Inspired by Frank Zappa and Mahavishnu Orchestra, and laced with psychedelica, Separate Realities is aptly named, teleporting you to several astral plains by the end of its six compositions.
Bassist Dan Briggs, also of prog metallers Between The Buried And Me, varies between heavy, distorted grooves and deftly plucked noodling, and his interplay with Walter Fancourt (tenor sax/flute) and drummer Matt Lynch is, at times, utterly fascinating.
The title track and Curse Of The Ninth prove particularly potent brews, cramming more ideas into a few minutes than many bands spawn in a whole career.
It may only be their debut opus but, in Separate Realities, Trioscapes have crafted a journey deep into uncharted space. Strap yourselves in. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Fusion reactor
Cattle Decapitation – Monolith Of Inhumanity (Metal Blade)
Genre: Grindcore/death metal
While you wouldn’t exactly call Monolith Of Inhumanity accessible, it may be the album to propel US quartet Cattle Decapitation into the extreme metal mainstream… if such a thing exists.
Occupying similar ground to Anaal Nathrakh and latter day Napalm Death – but delivering their own, unique form of sonic ultraviolence – the four piece have given birth to a monster with this, their seventh full-lengther.
Cattle Decapitation know when to blast, when to chug and when to let fly with some hyper-technical guitarwork. But on the likes of Your Disposal and Lifestalker, they’ve included some (barbed) hooks which catch you unawares, with frontman Travis Ryan employing melody, not just bile, in his vocal delivery.
And on The Monolith, the San Diegans create a downbeat atmosphere as bleak as the album’s concept: an apocalyptic future where humans have devolved into scavengers.
Brutal, intense and superbly executed, Monolith Of Inhumanity stands out from the herd. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 A Choice Cut
Nate Hall – A Great River (Neurot)
Genre: Post-Grunge/Alt Rock
USX founder Nate Hall recorded A Great River in one evening and there’s a raw power and emotive thrust to this remarkable album that’s simply missing from the bulk of today’s pro-tooled, over-produced, multi-filtered guitar-based rock.
To his credit Hall manages to retain focus and resist the temptation to allow an ambitious project to drift down the frankly unappealing path of the disorientated jam session: this is both organic and ordered.
Utilising banjos, and MXR blue box and a trusty slide, the nods to traditional Americana are plentiful but don’t be fooled into believing A Great River is the laid back soundtrack to your summer.
There are heavier moments more akin to formative Nirvana and Hall has the pipes to take post-grunge to a pivotal new level. Here he prefers to mix and match – it’s an approach worthy of critical acclaim. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Hall Right Now
The Dead Wretched – Anchors Down (Believe Revolt)
Wales has become a hotbed of angsty modern guitar music in recent years and this nasty metalcore mob have risen from the ashes of national favourites Boys With X-Ray Eyes on a mission to invade your mind.
Familiar growling vocals couple with unexpected melodic sparks make for an appealing debut as The Dead Wreteched do a decent impression of Million Dead on a cocktail of muscle-enhancing drugs.
Anchors is the obvious highlight with its thumping riff, cleaner vocals and a chorus that will have grown men weeping in the pit.
The Dead Wretched do what they do with considerable aplomb but the jury’s out on whether they do it better than the rest.
The metalcore world is a congested and unforgiving environment where only the strong surive: Anchors Down may not be weighty enough at a time when even the genre’s most ambitious new bands are more likely to sink than swim. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 The Living Dead
Before The Dawn – Rise Of The Phoenix (Nuclear Blast)
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Death metal might belong on the fringes of the mainstream and its most devoted fans wouldn’t have it any other way.
But listen to bands like Before The Dawn – seamlessly mixing the most foreboding of vocal assaults with moments of neo-classical dexterity – and it’s not difficult to imagine a day when the genre could break all commercial records.
This is a frighteningly effective blast of molten riffage fired by Tuomas Saukkonen’s harsh vocals and some of the most beautiful metal music composed this year.
The fearsome Finns rarely hold back as pin sharp tunes like Pitch Black Universe punctuate an album conceived deep in the bowels of some Scandinavian hell. Death metal just came alive. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Dawn Rising
Billy Vincent – She (Something Nothing Records)
Genre: Folk Rock
Billy Barratt and David Vincent aren’t a natural fit for the RUSHONROCK reviews section but there’s something strangely endearing about their unique brand of self-styled ‘dirty folk’.
Lyrics from the heart and music from the soul are features of the memory-shaping She with pedal steel, Hammond organ and a touches of brass making for an eclectic alt-rock mix.
Whittled Away and Pirates probably sum up best the lazy, hazy appeal of Billy Vincent and this is a record that demands open minds and sidelines preconceptions. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 She Saw Ride