And there’s a heady mix of the new and the old, the hard and the soft and the sublime to the ridiculous.
Big hitters including Whitesnake, ELO and Frank Turner (pictured) all return to the fray.
And we review and rate the latest music from metal crew Heaven Shall Burn and CROWN.
Plus there’s new music from Steak Number Eight, Woe, Lo! and Hacride.
Every Sunday we reveal the RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK. And we round up the very BEST OF THE REST.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Classic Rock
There were times on both the Good To Be Bad and the Forevermore tours when the jury was most definitely out where David Coverdale’s status as one of classic rock’s most enduring vocal talents was concerned.
As a consequence the prospect of 2013’s barrage of live material – Made In Britain will follow hot on the heels of Made In Japan – hardly filled the Whitesnake choir with wild optimism.
Let’s face it, Coverdale’s form in the last five years has been patchy to say the least and his over-reliance on seasoned guitar heroes Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach during the band’s live sets had begun to grate. There was even talk that Made In Japan could be a catastrophic career ender.
However, in typically ebullient fashion the Cov has not only come out all guns blazing but fired off a timely salvo with a simply stunning live set sure to get the juices flowing ahead of this summer’s UK arena tour.
On the spine-tingling Forevermore the former Deep Purple frontman has never – ever – sounded better. Love Ain’t No Stranger allows Coverdale to extend his range and if that range can’t quite cope with Still Of The Night 25 years on from its glorious inception there’s still plenty to enjoy about a lung-busting set closer.
It would be foolish to write off DC just yet. And the universal love for one of classic rock’s most consummate performers means nobody will be in a hurry to do that any time soon. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Made In Japan, Forged In Saltburn
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Punk Rock
After last year’s Olympic exploits, mainstream recognition and celebrity endorsements it would have been so easy for former Million Dead main man Frank Turner to have kicked back and chilled out in 2013.
But then that would be utterly against this self-confessed workaholic’s love of creativity and constant evolution. Tape Deck Heart is the sound of a musician not about to let the chance of sustained success pass him by – striking while the iron’s hot this is a record pitched at old fans and new converts alike.
Then again it’s unlikely fans of Motley Crue and their sleaze metal brethren will flock to hear an album that, on Good And Gone, launches a ferocious broadside against the excesses of the 80s and the consequent impact on today’s society.
If blaming Tommy Lee et al for all of the world’s ills is a little simplistic then lines like ‘Fuck you Mötley Crüe/ For telling tales that skimp on all the dark sides/ For teasing us with access and with excess/ For bringing out the lowest drive in everyone/ Oh fuck you’ make a pretty forceful point.
Turner, of course, won’t care a jot if he upsets four blokes with big hair and even bigger bank balances and his stature as a controversial and astute social commentator remains intact. Even in these heady days of commercial success and critical acclaim. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Heartfelt
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Put Devil Driver through a blender packed full of Swedish death metal, German power metal and the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal and you’d soon be feasting on Heaven Shall Burn.
An unappetising (in a good way) platter of punchy riffs, focused growls, scorching solos and unpredictable chord progressions make for a smorgasbord of Teutonic noise sick with tension.
Where Fallen is a full-on aural assault from the start, the epic Hunters Will Be Hunted prefers to build towards a compelling crescendo – showcasing HSB’s full range of skills as a result.
Well practiced in rolling out pummeling metal since the 90s there’s no doubt Veto adds something to a canon already boasting the classic Deaf To Our Prayers. Indeed, it’s no stretch to claim this is HSB’s best album for seven years. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Heaven Sent
Genre: Sludge/Post Rock
Their name might be a bit off-putting, but Steak Number Eight have given bearded, plaid shirt wearing post-Kylesadons plenty to chew on with their second full length.
For The Hutch is a gripping, expansive piece of work that belies the Belgian outfit’s tender (sorry!) age, and boasts a visionary zeal many sludgers would give their last ounce of weed for.
Take first track, Cryogenius, for instance. Opening with a low slung beast of a riff, it then evolves into something far more mellow and spacious, with a streak of Americana running through it, before returning to head crunching territory.
Or there’s the uplifting, majestic Push Pull, which is breathtaking in its scope and shows off frontman Brent Vanneste’s formidable vocal talents in fine style.
OK, Steak Number Eight may be youngsters, especially compared with many grizzled post rockers, but The Hutch is a mature, superbly crafted opus… and one well worth tucking in to. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Prime Cut
Genre: Black Metal
While Woe’s 2010 effort, Quietly, Undramatically, strayed into some mellow(ish) territory, this follow-up is a nastier, fiercer affair… with a catchy, barbed riff found at every turn.
The Philadelphia crew, centred around mainman Chris Grigg, don’t pose in corpsepaint or conduct their photoshoots in misty forests: what they do – and very well – is bring forth black metal bile from America’s urban underbelly.
And like many bands in the USBM scene, they’re prepared to push the boundaries a little without straying too far from the dark path. Exhausted, for instance, starts life as a face melting, hyperspeed blaster before mutating into something more foreboding and atmospheric, while the clean vocals which grace This Is The End Of The Story are perfectly placed, adding more depth to the track without detracting from its ferocity.
Woe have certainly up the ante with Withdrawl and six years into their short career, this opus could be their defining moment. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Woe-Some
Fusing the quasi-nu metal groove of The Deftones with modern extreme prog, and adding a spark of cybernetic energy, Hacride are a pristine, state-of-the-art proposition who almost seem out of place in the contemporary rock scene.
The French quartet’s fourth full length doesn’t really fit into any popular niche: not retro, not djent and certainly not metalcore – which might make the band’s job harder – but it has a passion and potency that’s difficult to ignore.
Frontman Luiss Roux and his crew clearly mean business, and the likes of Ghosts Of The Modern World are phenomenal in their technical execution: Hacride have ambition in spades, and aren’t frightened of taking a short detour into prog land.
Unfortunately, the songwriting isn’t quite sharp enough to label them with the ‘new Gojira’ tag and listening to Back To Where You’ve Never Been, there’s a feeling that there’s still work to be done.
But if Hacride build on this opus, Ligue 1 could beckon. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6.5/10 Modern Warfare
Two men and a drum machine can make a hell of a lot of noise – just ask seminal Brummie industrialists Godflesh. And like Justin Broadrick’s recently reactivated project, CROWN do a ‘nice’ line in bleak, hopeless soundscapes which threaten to flatten everything in their path.
The French duo are no ‘Flesh clones though, and temper their aural assault and industrial leanings with the ‘post-metal’ atmospherics of Isis: it’s an approach which, at times, works brilliantly. After a tense build-up, you’ll be floored by the seismic riff of Serpent and Fire, for instance, while Abyss fittingly drags you down into the earth’s molten core.
The downside? There’s little variation in pace – maybe the drum machine controls were jammed – and so on the album’s weaker tracks, boredom sets in… it’s pretty miserable stuff after all.
However, where it comes to conveying urban grimness (and being damn heavy), CROWN are certainly pretenders to Godflesh’s throne… if not usurpers. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6.5/10 Hard Reign
Lo! may hail from Sydney, a stunning, sun-kissed city with a big smile on its face, but listening to Monstrorum Historia, you wouldn’t think so.
For this is a gnarly, abrasive music perfect for sweaty, underground basement bars, a caustic mix of doom-soaked oppressive sludge and spiteful, rabid hardcore. Bands like Mastodon, Converge, Burst and Burnt By The Sun all spring to mind, but Lo! are their own men… and are far more than just the sum of their influences.
Crucially, their weighty riffs are reinforced by punchy, jolting rhythms, courtesy of drummer Adrian Griffin, who clearly loves to batter the living daylights out of his kit: time changes are thrown gleefully into the mix (check out the explosive blastbeat during Lichtenburg Figures) and they succeed in making Monstrorum Historia one hell of a ride.
A quartet who clearly deserve world-wide attention, high times should now beckon for Lo! RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Monstrous
Sixties-obsessed Jeff Lynne originally released this solo amalgam of ELO and the Travelling Wilburys in 1990. Twenty-three years later and the record is ripe for reappraisal.
With old buddies and former Beatles George Harrison and Ringo Starr on board the emphasis is clear: this is retro rock n roll flavoured with 80s pop rather than a blatant ELO vehicle with brief nods to another era.
As a result it’s a heartwarming, if a little over-earnest, listen with opener Every Little Thing a stone cold classic and even the Shakin’ Stevens-esque Don’t Let Go clinging to a classic vibe. Oh, and Lynne nails it on the dreamy Nobody Home.
The voice of ELO has always had the knack of putting a smile on the face of music fans the world over and with Harrison and fellow guest Tom Petty adding particular highlights this is a first class album that deserves a second chance. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Theatre Of Dreams
More post 60s-flavoured pop rock from the mercurial Jeff Lynne and with 2001’s Zoom there was proof that ELO could still be relevant given a consciously retro reboot.
Just For Love sounds like something Julian Lennon should have launched his career to and Easy Money is a rocking affair boosted by a brilliant guitar solo.
Melting In The Sun wouldn’t sound out of place tucked away on one of Tom Petty’s classic albums and the Muse-like Lonesome Lullaby predicts a new golden era for glammed-up symphonic rock.
Originally tipped to shit all over the ELO legacy, Zoom actually positioned itself quite comfortably alongside some of the 70s stars’ finest work. Twelve years on and it’s still an album that confounds the critics and surpasses expectations. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Zoom Kind Of Magic