Resident ear-bleeder Richard Holmes runs the rule over some seriously heavy shit from Blood Tsunami, Neaera, In Vain and Voices.
We check out the latest effort from Eurovision heroes Lordi (pictured) and some classic hard rock courtesy of Voodoo Circle.
There’s an AOR fest in the shape of Heartbreak Radio and Wild Rose plus we review and rate What Now.
Throw in our verdict on Heavatar and Mortillery and it’s another monster week for new music.
Every Sunday we reveal the RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK. And we round up the BEST OF THE REST.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Heavy Metal
If Lordi will forever be remembered as Finland’s first and only Eurovision Song Contest winners then it’s time to reassess a band that celebrated 20 years in the music business in 2012.
This Michael Wagener-produced album is classy, consistent and considerably better than anything GWAR could ever hope to produce. Look beyond the make-up, the prosthetics and and the tarnished reputation and it’s quite clear Lordi are a metal band par excellence.
So they deal in decidedly silly titles like We’re Not Bad For The Kids (We’re Worse) and The Riff. So what? Lordi aren’t ever going to challenge Dream Theatre or Steven Wilson in the race for cerebral rock’s coveted crown – they’re here for a party and the party’s still going strong.
To Beast Or Not To Beast is a brilliant take on the very best and worst of heavy metal. Lordi poke fun at themselves, the genre and the business. And they do it with panache. If you thought Abba were the best band to win Eurovision think again. Lordi win hands down. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Praise The Lordi
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Classic Rock
If Whitesnake ever require an emergency stand-in for charismatic leader David Coverdale then it will be well worth giving Voodoo Circle a call. David Readman is a vocal clone of the former Deep Purple man and on More Than One Way Home he’s on fire.
In tandem with genuine six-string artistry courtesy of Alex Beyrodt, the band’s blues-infused singer has surely never sounded so good. Readman is ridiculously effective on Tears In The Rain, Cry For Love and the masterful title track. If you liked Snakecharmer’s debut then you’ll just love Voodoo Circle’s luscious tones.
With subtle keys courtesy of Jimmy Kresic and a failsafe beat delivered by Markus Kullmann it’s incredibly difficult to find fault with More Than One Way Home. Here the talent pool goes deep and the songs are awash with shimmering retro rock brilliance. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Circle Of Life
Genre: Progressive metal
If In Vain don’t climb further up the prog tree after this release it will be crying shame. For Ænigma is a sparkling third opus from the Norwegian act, a work rooted in extreme metal but never stifled by genre constraints, a journey of discovery which reveals more and more with every listen.
Though Ænigma is a grower (many great albums are) this Kristiansand six-piece rarely meander – their lengthy compositions are focused, powerful and adeptly arranged. In Vain are also blessed with two outstanding vocalists, with the harsh roar of bassist Kristian Wikstøl combining with the clean singing style of Sindre Nedland to stunning effect, especially on the awe-inspiring Hyme til Havet.
And while horns and keys are employed on several tracks, such as Culmination Of The Enigma, their use is subtle and considered, rather than overwhelming, and provides a counterbalance to the band’s weighty riffs.
An expansive, visionary offering, Ænigma deserves to be heard. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8.5/10 In Form
Genre: Thrash Metal
Mixing the leather and spikes of 80s Teutonic thrash, the raw fury of early Slayer and the snarl and spit of punk rock, For Faen! is a flaming petrol bomb of an album, a vicious little beast bearing tales of serial killers, war crimes… and a bar favoured by the Oslo metal scene.
This Norwegian quartet, who put their Kreator and Sodom-worshipping stamp on the thrash revival with their 2007 debut (entitled Thrash Metal, of course), aren’t about subtlety or progression: For Faen! (translation: ‘for the devil’), certainly won’t bag them a support slot with Dream Theater.
Instead, Blood Tsunami excel at unleashing the raw aggression of thrash and punk through short, rapid-fire bursts such as The Butcher of Rostov and The Brazen Bull, brought screaming through your speakers via a fine production job from Sverre Dæhli and Anders Henningsen.
Original? Not particularly, but if this opus is indeed a gift for Satan, it will be a loud day in hell. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Full Blooded
Genre: Black metal
Akercocke were one of Britain’s most intriguing metal bands, sculpting a black/death hybrid that was progressive, eccentric and truly original. So it’s heartening to see three of that outfit’s former members – drummer David Gray, guitarist Sam Loynes and bassist Peter Benjamin (who also provides vocals on this occasion) – back together under one banner.
This debut ditches the goats and sacrificial altars of Akercocke’s work for, dare we say it, an even darker and more unsettling take on black metal: From The Human Forest Create A Fugue Of Imaginary Rain is a claustrophobic nightmare made flesh, and an album that certainly doesn’t need Satan to play wingman. But for all their atonal guitarwork, rapid-fire blastbeats and overwhelming , terrifying intensity, Voices have a sense of melody too, which is enhanced – on the likes of Eyes Become Black – with the aid of beautiful female vocals.
A much anticipated opus, From The Human Forest… lives up to the hype, and then some. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Twisted Imagination
Genre: Death Metal
Six albums in just eight years is a hefty output by anyone’s standards, but German quintet Neaera are showing no signs of fatigue.
For new opus Ours Is The Storm offers 12 slices of slick melodic death metal that has a real sense of urgency to it… and some punchy, high octane riffing too, courtesy of Stefan Keller and Tobias Buck.
Through Treacherous Flames is a perfect example of the band’s blistering, streetwise style; it’s well structured, laden with hooks and aims for the jugular, and you’d imagine it would be devastating live. Elsewhere, the Münster oufit pay homage to their Swedish DM influences with the ferocious Between Us And Annihilation, and mix blastbeats with mosh-friendly pounding on Back To The Soul.
Granted, Ours Is The Storm isn’t strong enough to propel Neaera into the big league, but it’s sure to spark many a festival circle pit come the summer. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6.5/10 Lightning Strike
Genre: Trad Metal
While Opus I:All My Kingdoms might sound like something straight out of the Catholic Church, it’s unlikely that Heavatar will get the College of Cardinals’ stamp of approval. Especially when they sing: “Evolutions never ends” on Long Way Home.
All My Kingdoms opens up with Replica, which is fitting because Heavatar sound just like the 80s heavy metal bands such as Iron Maiden that have undoubtedly influenced this piece of work. For fans of that period, this album will be a perfect trip down memory lane – the big guitar sounds and imposing vocals are a perfect replica of what was being produced at the time.
There is nothing subtle or surprising about this album. It’s pure metal and it doesn’t shy away or apologise for that. It just snarls in your face and dares you not to grow your hair and develop a penchant for leather jackets.
There are plenty of good songs on the album, including the 11 minute marathon song-within-a-song The Look Above, the love song To The Metal and Born to Fly, with its big chorus and infectious guitar riffs.
This is music made for the Deadmouse generation, it’s music for a legion of teenagers who have forgotten how to rock. And for their dads, it’s a reminder of when times and fashions were simpler. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10
Genre: Thrash Metal
Serving up a brand of thrash metal that sounds like the glorious lovechild of Metallica and Slayer, Mortillery return with their follow up to debut album Murder Death Kill.
The female fronted band achieves a pitch of vocals that have eluded their masculine brethren for years, and as a result the music sounds a bit more unique. A bit more natural.
But that doesn’t mean Cara McCutchen can’t sign with the aggressiveness that is required for a metal band. She is able to deliver powerful vocals that have a hint of rawness, with a hint of animalistic bite.
Musically, Mortillery is an album that will please. It contains plenty of high tempo riffs to sink your teeth into – riffs that combine more traditional sounds with a hint of thrash to leave you in no doubt that Mortillery, and Origin Of Extinction, means business.
Because of the variety that is mixed within the album you get the more metal sounds with No Way Out, and a thrash-ier noise on songs like Creature Possessor – there is little danger of this record stumbling into sounding too repetitive.
It isn’t even a case of ‘jack of many trades, master of none,’ as Origin is a well-crafted album that does justice to all of its influencing genres. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10
Genre: Sleaze Rock
What Now’s decision to strip everything back to their DIY roots and record in a miniscule home studio has paid dividends as they have captured an album of a band reborn.
It’s dark, seductive and dripping hooks, flaunting choruses and confident approach give the album that dirty, sleazy rock and roll sound we don’t hear often enough.
With their confident, polished approach and catchy choruses High Class and Money Maker, belong in sold out arenas being blasted from a big stage with thousands of fans singing along.
Having swapped the sweaty summers and warm winters of Ballito, South Africa for the alluring lights of the London music scene, What Now are fully focused on taking on the world and with their new found purpose and precision in mind, it may not be long before the world sits up and takes notice. Adam Keys
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 What Next?
As is commonly the case when considering a revivalist genre, quantity swiftly outweighs quality.
On Air is a sorry case in point and yet it’s only the powder puff vocals that mean this melodic offering fails to match AOR’s market leaders.
Bizarrely, given the fact that singing duties are shared between a slew of experienced performers, the men behind the mic are consistently weak.
Six of the 10 tracks here contain the word ‘love’ but fans of 70s west coast AOR won’t take much of this tosh to heart. Supposedly built around an appreciation for all things Journey, Toto and Christopher Cross this is a poor tribute to some genuine greats. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 4/10 Hot Air
Just a little more edgy than Heartbreak Radio (see above) it’s a stretch to say this Wild Rose record is truly Dangerous.
Dealing in singalong choruses and slick guitar solos is par for the course where classy AOR is concerned but there needs to be something more.
Wild Rose never go the extra yard and as a result Dangerous never blossoms. I Can’t Stop Loving You is decent enough but too many tunes drift aimlessly into a sea of generic dirge.
This is a band that screams potential only to sign off with a whimper. Wild Rose’s follow-up may be worth a look – if they get that far. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Rose Tinted