We’ve picked up copies of the latest releases from Savage (pictured), Absolva, Babylon Fire, Finsterforst, Blood Of The Sun, Mors Principium Est and Sticky Boys.
So if you’re still searching for that stocking filler for the rock and metal fan in your life this could be the page you’ve been crying out for.
And we’ll be bringing you another selection of latecomers to the 2012 party before Christmas…
Don’t forget to check out RUSHONROCK every Sunday in 2013 for the latest reviews of the hottest new releases.
And every week we reveal the RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK as well as rounding up the BEST OF THE REST – with handy ratings and categories to make your review reading easier than ever.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Heavy Metal
On the back of an incredibly positive one-line (!) live missive from this month’s Hard Rock Hell festival a swift rifle through the album review pile was required – and there it was: Savage’s Sons Of Malice.
The noises coming out of North Wales had been so positive that it was agreed we’d missed a trick missing this classic metal gem. Sons Of Malice proved the point.
It’s almost 30 years since the iconic Loose And Lethal announced the Lars Ulrich-endorsed Savage as one of the key players on the NWOBHM scene and their sixth album is evidence that the band has lost none of its infectious metal-meets-melody vibe.
The funky Black N Blue is a perfect fit for the retro-fuelled British rock scene – rich in 70s emotion – but it’s the punchy title track that confirms Savage is back with a bang. Mixing the band’s jagged NWOBHM roots with a late 80s US west coast sheen, it’s a modern classic oozing quality. As for The Hanging Tree – this is Savage branching out and it’s brilliant.
Chris Bradley has never sounded so good and the addition of his fret-burning son Kristian is far more than lazy nepotism – the kid can play. Miss Sons Of Malice and you’ll miss out. We should know. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Get In There My Sons
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Black/Folk Metal
As an opening statement to usher in the incredible Rastlos, Nichts Als Asche is something else. Clocking it at almost 14 minutes it’s by no means the lengthiest track here but its combination of bludgeoning black metal vocals, atmospheric folk, traditional metal riffs and haunting melody make for an ethereal listening experience.
Dubbed as ‘Black Forest Metal’, this is a band that has its cake and eats it – for all their folk influences and nods to metal’s foreboding past Finsterforst readily rip up the rule book when it comes to presenting anything close to predictable.
Rastlos might be destined to float under the radar as critics rush to compile their lists of 2012’s big hitters but this album is rich in creativity, ambition and excitement. Germany’s search for genuine folk metal heroes is over – Scandinavia’s genre leaders must accept Finsterforst represent serious competition. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 The Rast Is History
Genre: Classic Rock
Boasting a cover that looks like a cross between a 70s disco compilation and a cheap porn mag, Blood Of The Sun don’t look like they fit into any obvious genre.
Yet one play of the brilliant Burning On The Wings Of Desire confirms these blues-fuelled heroes are rooted firmly in retro rock. And every kind of retro rock.
Brings Me Down has a truly Southern flavour while opener Let It Roll is reminiscent of Deep Purple’s heavier moments. There are times when the Clutch comparison is obvious but Blood Of The Sun are far more melodic than scuzzed-up Maryland mob.
Celebrating their 10th anniversary in style, Saint Vitus drummer Harry Vasquez and his gang have only gone and bettered their awesome self-titled debut and more than matched 2007’s In Blood We Rock. The past has never sounded so current. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Sunderful
Genre: Metal/Death Metal
Finns Mors Principium Est had more than 200 applicants for their vacant guitarist slots, which they eventually filled in 2011 with Brit Andy Gillion and Kiwi Andhe Chandler.
And they obviously chose their new recruits wisely, as the pair ‘s axework on this opus is incendiary.
However, the band’s songwriting nous doesn’t match these six stringers’ talents, with the 11 tracks on offer (powerful closer Dead Winds of Hope aside) failing to leave a lasting impression.
Rooted in the commercial, (very) melodic death metal sounds of In Flames and Children Of Bodom, …And Death Said Live is slick and polished but does nothing to stand out in a crowded market.
And even guest slots from Bring Me The Horizon’s Jona Weinhofen and The Black Dahlia Murder’s Ryan Knight do little to alleviate that. Disappointing. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 4.5/10 Bored To Death
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rising from the ashes of Fury UK – following the departure of Luke Appleton to Iced Earth – Absolva are on a mission to fly the flag for trad British metal. And Flames Of Justice is a bullish banner of intent from Manchester’s finest.
Fury UK duo Chris Appleton and Martin McNee have recruited well in the shape of Tom Atkinson (lead guitar) and Dan Bate (bass) – both musicians are the perfect fit for a band dealing in big riffs and crunching power chords.
If British heavy metal is Absolva’s mantra (think Priest and Maiden) then at their loudest there are elements of the thrashier kids on the Bay Area block – Death Angel would sound at home singing Hundred Years and Appleton and co. aren’t afraid to hold back.
A titanic twin guitar sound, coupled with Appleton’s furious vocals, makes for a mind-blowing debut from a quartet of homegrown heroes who demand to be heard. Justice for all? It should be. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Sweet Justice
Genre: Heavy Metal
Without Iron Maiden and Motorhead the home of heavy metal would be a pretty empty place right now.
One glance at next summer’s Download bill proves the point with German heavyweights Rammstein joining American big hitters Slipknot, Stone Sour and Mastodon as the premier draws at the world’s biggest metal fest.
But bands like Babylon Fire are fighting back. Alongside label mates Absolva, the Manchester quintet is at the forefront of a new wave of British metal and their sound is every bit as brash and bold as the genre leaders from across the Pond.
Frontman Mark Dunford might lack so-called star quality but his performance on Dark Horizons is consistency personified. Blood In Blood Out offers the vocalist the chance to stretch himself and Stripped Away’s heady juxtaposition of growls and clean vocals works a treat.
Babylon Fire could be the UK’s answer to Machine Head given the right breaks and a bigger production. For now it’s time to take Dark Horizons on the road and watch the praise roll in. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 On Fire
Genre: Classic Rock/Rock N Roll
If you thought Airbourne had the AC/DC imitators title all sewn up then think again. Sticky Boys have made their own convincing play for the crown with this cracking rock n roll party album.
Clearly refusing to bow to the pressure of playing anything original or groundbreaking, what this lot specialise in is having a cracking time without a care in the world.
Bang That Head is the kind of cheesy rock anthem kids in garages have been banging out for 30 years but the Sticky Boys have brought it out of the garage and into the street of dreams. Fair play to them.
Great Big Dynamite is another AC/DC-inspired classic and Girls In The City is a down and dirty bar room sleaze fest. What’s not to like about songs based on women, beer and partying – the Young brothers have made a career out of it and the Sticky Boys have, at the very least, made a decent album on the back of their favourite subjects. Fantastic stuff! SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Boys Done Good