We review and rate a slab of classic thrash Kreator-style, check out the prince of soft rock Richard Marx and make a date with fast-rising Dutch crew Delain (pictured).
There’s new music from metal-as-anything Jorn, label mates Circus Maximus and melodic rock royalty Gotthard.
We assess the blues rock supergroup Spectrum Road and a new album from retro British mob Jettblack. Plus there’s our verdict on Fear Factory and the Cory Smoot Experiment.
Each Sunday we reveal the identity of the RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK.
And just so that you don’t miss a thing we round up the BEST OF THE REST.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Symphonic Metal
When ex-Within Temptation tinkler Martin Westerholt created Delain a decade ago expectations were high.
But it’s taken all of those 10 long years to reach the point where the Dutch band is in a position to realise its potential and take its brand of pop metal into the mainstream.
And pop metal is exactly what We Are The Others is. That’s no criticism of a bullish album but it’s just as likely to appeal to fans of Avril Lavigne and Pink as it is to followers of Edguy and Nightwish.
The title track is a perfect case in point. Polished and powerful, with a memorable chorus and delightful vocals courtesy of the wonderful Charlotte Wessels, it’s a huge leap forward for Delain in so many respects.
Westerholt goes to town on Milk And Honey with the synth-soaked sound more Depeche Mode than heavy metal. And on Get The Devil Out Of Me the keyboard player oozes confidence and defies genres – his 90s-style raving complementing Wessels’ emotive ranting.
Delain have finally delivered and done so in style. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Delain The Inevitable
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Hard Rock
You’ve got to love just how passionately Jorn Lande wears his hard rock heart on his sleeve. Most performers would be embarrassed to pen an album boasting such a toe-curling title but not so the towering Norseman.
There is no individual better placed to bring rock to your land – you only have to look at the fearsome Masterplan main man to know he has the credentials. And once he lets rip on songs like the rousing title track any nagging doubts are extinguished.
Lande won a new army of fans standing in for the late Ronnie James Dio – alongside Glenn Hughes – at Heaven And Hell’s High Voltage tribute set two years ago and opener My Road is very much in the vein of Sabbath’s much-missed pocket rocket.
An earnest version of Ride Like The Wind nevertheless fails to match Saxon’s 1988 cover of the same song and stands out for all the wrong reasons. Otherwise this is an album of typical class from one of rock’s genuine talents. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Lande Rover
Genre: Progressive Metal
The third, and most ambitious, album from Norwegian progressive masters Circus Maximus is an absolute triumph of songwriting craft and musicianship from start to finish.
Less metal and more rock than might be anticipated, Nine kicks off like a Marillion/Rush jam session with the epic Architect Of Fortune setting the standard.
And a dazzling album swiftly develops into a progressive tour de force with frontman Michael Eriksen delivering the performance of his life.
Reach Within could be plucked directly from Rush’s Hold Your Fire while I Am leans heavily on the vocal style of Eriksen’s fellown countryman Morten Harket – think a-ha meets Dream Theatre. And check out the stunning Satriani-esque intro. to set closer Last Goodbye!
Nine is a 10. With bells on. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Nine Lives
Recorded in 2010 by the late Cory Smoot – aka long serving GWAR guitarist Flattus Maximus – this material was originally intended to form a concept album, featuring various Virginia metal luminaries on vocals. However, scheduling difficulties lead to Smoot recording all the vocals himself and he completed the album in 2011, before his final tour with GWAR.
It’s tragic that Smoot didn’t live to see the project progress further as When Worlds Collide – the proceeds of which will go to support his family – packs a very heavy punch indeed.
It’s raw and sometimes feels unfinished but there’s plenty of catchy, downtuned riffery to get your teeth into: thrashy forays such as Religion Is Fiction and Mandatory Purgatory are particular highlights.
He may not have been as famous as Dio or Dimebag but the metal scene lost a real talent with Smoot’s passing, as this album shows. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6.5/10 A Fitting Epitaph
When Burton C Bell and Dino Cazares reunited for 2010’s Mechanize, it marked a return to form for Fear Factory, who, sans Dino, delivered a career low with 07’s Transgression.
And with The Industrialist, they’ve continued in the same vein. Granted, it doesn’t reach the heady heights of the cyber metallers’ breakthrough, Demanufacture – but that would be a tall order.
What Fear Factory have delivered is an album that embraces all of their core elements and a sound – crafted with the help of Rhys Fulber – that would make a Terminator tremble.
Bell growls, roars and soars his way through The Industrialist’s 10 tracks, as armoured plated riffs fuse with pulsing, deftly programmed beats and synths cut through the mix like shards.
There’s plenty of variety on show too: God Eater is swathed in industrial bleakness, Recharger combines blistering pace with stunning melodic vocals and closer, Human Augmentation brings to mind Blade Runner’s Vangelis-penned soundtrack.
Fear Factory may be over two decades old but The Industrialist proves they’re no rusting relic. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Industrial Strength
Genre: Thrash Metal
It’s 30 years since Tyrant, Kreator’s early incarnation, burst onto the German metal scene and on this evidence founder members Miland ‘Mille’ Petrozza and Jürgen ‘Ventor’ Reil have a whole load of angsty metal left in them yet.
By the time second song Death To The World kicks in it’s clear age hasn’t diminished the duo’s appetite for thoroughly brutal thrash akin to that so successfully peddled by fellow countrymen Destruction and Sodom.
The crisp intro to standout track From Flood Into Fire evokes memories of classic Testament and just as Kreator stay true to their Teutonic roots theirs is a sound commonly favoured – and regularly pinched – by North America’s finest thrash metal titans.
Phantom Anarchist fails to break new ground but will comfortably manage to break your brand new speaker system given the chance. It’s loud, laddish and set to be lauded by Europe’s loyal metal community. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Kreating Kaos
Genre: Melodic Rock
It’s always tough attempting to fill the shoes of a bona fide band favourite and even more so if he happens to be the late and much-missed founder member of the act in question.
However, Firebirth is Nic Maeder’s brave attempt to do just that as the majestic melodic rockers of Gotthard look to the future following the tragic loss of singer Steve Lee.
And the fact that Maeder makes his presence felt throughout this fantastic triumph in the face of adversity is credit to a singer with some serious talent and even bigger balls.
Opener Starlight sets the tone and the upbeat Give Me Real is rich in the bluesy commercial rock that has made Gotthard so easy on the ear for so many years now.
Of course this silky smooth Swiss operation has always excelled when it comes to ballads and Tell Me That You Love Me is right up there with their very best. The voice box-boosted Bon Jovie-esque Right On is another barnstormer and it’s safe to say Lee’s legacy is in safe hands. Gotthard can move on with confidence. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 ‘Hard Times
Genre: Jazz Rock
Jack Bruce loves music and he loves his job. That the two just happen to co-exist means this most remarkable of musicians continues to push the boundaries and seek fresh challenges without bowing to the pressures of modern trends, commercial viability or even time.
Spectrum Road’s debut album has been 11 years in the making according to guitarist Vernon Reid – who first came to Bruce’s attention during Living Colour’s late 80s breakthrough – and it’s the kind of record that would have label bosses running for cover.
Bruce, Reid, John Medeski and Cindy Blackman Santana have stayed true to their collective vision of creating a fitting tribute to the late drummer Tony Williams and, as a result, this is an album without constraints and brimming with spontaneity.
Mixing tracks from Williams’ Lifetime band with a couple of original numbers (Reid and Bruce are keen to develop Spectrum Road as a platform for new music moving forward) the sense of retro-cool is compelling.
It won’t dent the charts but it may well chart what could be a glorious final chapter in the career of Bruce – a national treasure and still the cream of the crop. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Road Trip
Genre: Hard Rock/Hair Metal
Jettblack might look like a bunch of pretty boy glam rockers plucked from the Sunset Strip circa 1987 and at times they even sound like the bastard sons of Ratt, Warrant and Quiet Riot.
However, there’s a solid British work ethic underpinning this band’s burning ambition and Jettblack are wholly dedicated to their craft: Raining Rock offers further evidence of a quartet working night and day to cement their reputation for singalong choruses, ripped six-packs and brazen confidence.
Neck and neck with label mates The Treatment as the bright new hope of homegrown rock, Will Stapleton and his crew are here to party – and party hard.
Prison Of Love is a half decent attempt at a hair metal ballad while Temptation is a terrific example of why lyrics don’t really matter if the riff’s on fire. ‘She would have a body that could stop a freight train dead’ sings Stapleton, sounding like a frontman suffering from a severe case of writer’s block but pulling it off anyway.
Raining Rock is the natural follow-up to Jettblack’s testosterone-fuelled debut and laughs in the face of dreary metal-by-numbers. Oh, and Accept’s Udo Dirkschneider makes a guest appearance…. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Jett Propelled
Genre: Soft Rock
A giant of the 80s soft rock scene with his made-for-MTV ballads, the phenomenon that is Richard Marx has been bubbling under the mainstream radar for far too long.
Inside My Head is the timely reminder that while form is temporary, class is permanent. And as a bonus for British fans this fabulous album is packaged with a slew of fan favourites from a bulging back catalogue.
Marx has a voice made for classic rock and he’s lost none of the emotive delivery that made him the first artist to clock up top five Billboard Hot 100 chart positions with his first seven singles.
The neat juxtaposition of upbeat rocker Wouldn’t Let Me Love You and the trademark ballad Like Heaven showcases the full range of Marx’s talents long before this perfect soundtrack to your summer gathers pace.
If some of the songs here veer dangerously close to Disney soundtrack territory then it’s a minor quibble. On the whole Inside My Head is a magnificent return to form and on a par with 1989’s Repeat Offender – it’s that good. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 On Your Marx