Every Sunday we review and rate the latest releases – revealing the identity of the RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK along the way.
And this week we focus on new albums from Gallows, Korn, Steve Vai (pictured) and new metal heroes Sacred Mother Tongue.
We deliver our verdict on Swedish rockers Bonafide, assess US dudes The Southern Experience Band and give you the lowdown on newbies Lilygun.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Classic Rock
Like AC/DC? Partial to a little bit of Lizzy? Steeped in the kind of bluesy classic rock that British bands used to do best? Then welcome to your new favourite band.
Those in the know will already be all over Pontus Snibb and his brilliant Bonafide – the super smooth Swedes have been pedaling their hypnotic wares for five years now and playing to fans of the Sweden Rock festival, Deep Purple and the Quireboys along the way.
But Ultimate Rebel is the ultimate statement of intent from a band in boot-stomping form with everything here – from anthemic opener Make My Own Rules to the retro cool of Blue Skies Red – soaked in creative swagger.
Snibb has written and produced the record of his life and with Mikael Fassberg lending some delicious licks to a fantastic mix this is one classic rock album you can’t afford to be without. An absolute belter! Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Rebel Yell
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Heavy Metal
Northampton has never been a hotbed for metal. Never, that is, until the emergence of Sacred Mother Tongue as genuine contenders to challenge the very best America has to offer.
Sitting somewhere between Black Stone Cherry at their heaviest (Bleeding Out) and a less polished – and all the better for it – Avenged Sevenfold (The City Is Crying) these boys mean business.
As a taster for next year’s full length album this beefed up EP offers a succinct but supercharged blast and screams potential. But if you’ve marked down SMT as the next big thing think again: they’re already there. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Tongue Piercing
Genre: Hard Rock
Expectation weighs so heavily on the shoulders of Joe Satriani’s most famous student that he must occasionally be tempted to ride into the sunset never to be seen again.
If Steve Vai does make a great record the world of would-be guitar heroes simply shrugs its shoulders and crows ‘told you so’. If he dips below standards so high they belong in a different galaxy then the naysayers will claim the fat lady has sung where this particular virtuoso muso is concerned.
Vai just can’t win. But on The Story Of Light he comfortably takes it to extra time and penalties. This is an album built on the solid foundations of diversity and keeping fans guessing is about the best Vai can do after three decades at the top of his game.
Fusing metal, jazz and funk with melody, groove and a good number of trademark solos this is a lesson in the limitless boundaries of the simple electric guitar. Catch him live in the UK this winter while you still can. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Vai-ing For Glory
Korn changed the face of metal with their 1994 debut and since then, they’ve certainly been no strangers to experimentation and collaboration.
2011’s The Path of Totality, though, was a brave move, even for them.
Taking dubstep – a sound germinated in the bedroom studios of South London – and bolting it to their heavyweight grooves might have spawned something awkward or clunky. But the US act, working with producers such as Skrillex, pulled it off, creating something new, vibrant and unmistakably Korn.
This live album opens with seven of these ‘Kornstep’ tracks in all their bass-quaking glory, with Get Up! and Narcissistic Cannibal in particular, bursting at the seams with glorious hooks.
It’s then off for a tour down memory lane, with sizzling versions of Here To Stay, Freak On A Leash and the incredible Falling Away From Me sitting alongside other nuggets.
What you’ve got here is one hell of show… and an album that might make a few doubters take notice of Korn once again. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Stepping Up
Genre: Prog Rock/Gothic Rock
Escaping the genre trap with consummate ease, Lilygun’s self-titled debut deals in freedom of expression and a feast of guitar-driven emotion dredged from the depths of London’s underground live music scene.
On opener Sunlight Dreams singer Anna-Christina sounds uncannily like Geddy Lee on the latest Rush album and there’s no escaping the prog-tinged power of this band’s best work.
But the folksy, brooding acoustica of My Ways drops things down a notch or two – allowing Lilygun virgins their first real opportunity to judge the voice of Anna-Christina in full bloom. On the whole, it’s a beautiful sound.
The post-grunge of Excuses is poorly produced by comparison with a messy mix doing a band capable of much better no favours at all. But it’s a rare moment of mediocrity and the prog-funk of Conversations allays any fears that this is an album of two halves.
Impossible to pigeon-hole and yet easy to admire, Lilygun could be the shot in the arm British rock is searching for. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Gun-Ho
Good punk rock should be angry, urgent and make you want to punch through walls. Hertfordshire’s Gallows have always had these qualities in abundance, but on this self-titled third album, the quintet have turned them up to 11.
The first full-length to feature new frontman Wade MacNeil, this is a raw, bareknuckled streetfighter of an album that builds considerably on the band’s already formidable reputation. MacNeil has slotted in perfectly here, spitting venom and rage all over tracks such as Austere and riot-starter-in-the-making, Last June, like he’s been destined to sing them all of his life.
And as ferocious as it is, Gallows isn’t a one trick pony: the steel toe-capped kicks are delivered from many different angles, whether it’s the US hardcore/Brit street punk collision of Vapid Adolescent Blues, the spiky melodies of Odessa, or the thrashed-up intensity of Cross of Lorraine, the album’s phenomenal closer.
A bar-raiser, a vicious statement of intent, a punk rock landmark – Gallows is all of these things and more. See you in the pit… RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Wading-in
Genre: Southern Rock
First off there’s no danger this lot will face a lawsuit for luring in listeners under false pretences. The Southern Experience Band do exactly what they say on the sleeve – delivering a laid back masterclass in Southern Rock sure to delight all fans of Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Marshall Tucker Band and the Allman Brothers.
Even the album title doesn’t disappoint. Listening to Where I’m From you immediately feel right at the heart of the North Carolina crew’s home and bonding with this band is easy.
The title track is heartfelt and earnest without ever losing sight of the fact that this is the entertainment business. And tracks like Fight The Fight are staple tunes for the Southern Rock fraternity.
With Skynyrd’s latest album making waves worldwide it’s worth remembering that there are hundreds of next generation Southern Rockers doing so much more than simply imitating the original and the best. The Southern Experience Band are at the forefront of that talented generation. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Experience This