And the New Year has already got off to a flier judging by the latest album from German trad metal heroes Majesty (pictured).
There’s the debut EP from Brit rockers Rough Cut and a blast of blues rock courtesy of North East England’s award-winning Trevor Sewell.
Plus we finally deliver our verdict on Rush‘s 2112 reissue featuring remastered audio and a DVD.
Every Sunday we look at the latest releases and review and rate what’s hot and what’s not before revealing the RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Heavy Metal
Seven albums in and you wonder how Majesty can reinvent the metal wheel. The good news in they haven’t bothered.
The Germans’ familiar balls-to-the-wall bonzo bluster runs right through the heart of Thunder Rider with beery-eyed anthem after beery-eyed anthem blowing away the Christmas cobwebs.
This adrenaline rush of an album asks few questions of the listener and simply demands a commitment to full-throttle, head-banging thrills. Resistance is futile.
The tasty title track is a bona fide stadium anthem paying homage to the genre that spawned Majesty and their metal mates. Anthem Of Glory rolls out kick-ass riffage on a grand scale and Metal Union is a brutal amalgam of Priest, Saxon and Accept.
Even the band’s softer side – heard here on the ballad Asteria – follows the hard and fast rules of a feisty metal meltdown with powerful vocals, a soaring chorus and pin sharp solos delivered in fine style.
Majesty are the very definition of heavy metal. And Thunder Rider is a stormer. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Kings Of Metal
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Blues Rock
This incredibly rich record has been causing quite a stir Stateside for some time now and one play of the cultured Calling Your Name is enough to make the hairs on any blues aficionado’s neck stand on end.
North East based Sewell has been selling coal to Newcastle – or in this case blues to the US – for some time now with awards, accolades and high-profile patronage complementing carefully crafted and achingly cool guitar music.
At more than seven minutes Hundred Years is the emotive and immersive highlight but it’s not difficult to be charmed by the bulk of what Sewell has delivered here.
He’ll be back in Los Angeles next month for the Hollywood Artists In Music Awards and on this evidence yet another gong beckons. Glorious stuff. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Fame Calling
Genre: Prog Rock
The title track to this cerebral offering from Canada’s finest features six passages of music the majority of bands would spend a lifetime attempting to replicate. The Temples Of Syrinx is an aural masterclass in itself – albeit only two minutes of Rush magic – but 2112 is only just kicking off by the time the final chimes of Grand Finale fade into the distance.
There’s much more to come in the shape of the brilliant A Passage To Bangkok, the terrific Tears and the deeply ironic (in the context of this sumptuously layered album) Something For Nothing as Rush expertly unravel one of the finest records of their stellar career.
And now there’s much, much more to come with 2112 expanded to include three live versions of a trio of the most familiar cuts from this classic release: A Passage To Bangkok sounds at its mightiest within the four walls of Manchester’s Apollo in 1980. Throw in a DVD (or Blu-Ray, book and more depending on your budget) and this is the 2112 to end all others…until the next version comes along. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Another Rush Job
Genre: Hard Rock
Allegedly influenced by Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake and Aerosmith it surely isn’t too much to expect that Brits Rough Cut can fashion a blues-based classic rock sound to rival Rival Sons et al in 2013.
Instead the meandering Rollin’ Thunder EP is, for the most part, far too heavy and strikingly dull. It’s cumbersome, lacks cohesion and is the very antithesis of rousing classic rock.
Vocalist Jack Simkin sounds like the bastard son of Almighty-era Ricky Warwick and The Cult’s Ian Astbury – in the right band he could blossom but Rough Cut simply aren’t that band.
Simon Court’s technical ability is in no doubt and his ferocious fret burning will turn heads. But Rough Cut are much less than the sum of their parts and a major reassessment of their sound and future direction is required – fast. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 4/10 Rough Around The Edges