And there’s the usual mix of music to keep fans of all genes on their toes!
Cinderella frontman Tom Keifer releases his long-awaited debut solo album while Kingdom Come return with a most un-Zeppelin record.
There’s new music from Freedom Call, Gloomball and the ridiculously-named V8 Wankers.
We check out the latest offering from Brit metallers Malefice and there’s some booming trad metal courtesy of Orchid.
But if none of that’s heavy enough then we review and rate the latest albums from Altar Of Plagues, Nonexistence and The Old Wind.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Hard Rock
It would be reasonable to imagine that, in the light of Cinderella’s inability to record new music, frontman Tom Keifer’s debut solo album is nothing more than the next best thing. To frame a fantastic record in those terms would be a huge mistake.
In truth, The Way Life Goes is what Cinderella could have sounded like given the opportunity to evolve the bluesy tones of Heartbreak Station and break free from their hair metal legacy. Opener Solid Ground is a stirring statement of intent with Keifer casting aside his recent vocal cord problems to deliver the performance of his career.
Cold Day In Hell and the self-reflective title track are two more rousing highlights on a record that successfully fuses commercial nous with a homegrown, organic production. Sure it sounds like a Cinderella album – Keifer’s signature sound is the same as ever – but it’s so much better than your average Cinderella album.
It may have taken a decade for The Way Life Goes to see the light of day but it’s been well worth the wait. Let’s hope this is the way Keifer goes – with or without Cinderella. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Life Affirming
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Hard Rock
Gloomball might not be the most inspiring band name in rock and metal history, but luckily their ability to name an act has no impact on their ability to come up with creative material.
Blending sounds from alternative metal to southern rock, Gloomball include a wide range of sounds in an album that keeps the listener interested from start to finish. Overcome bursts out of the album like a bat out of hell and sets the tone for a record that is abrasive and aggressive.
They describe themselves as simply a ‘rock band,’ but to go along with that description would be a criminal oversimplification of their music. Each track on the album is varied but each track fits into its own place on the album.
You have the more aggressive Blown Away and Gone, while fans of a more melodic tune will appreciate Burning Gasoline, and Your Sorrow Inside Me almost sounds like Nickleback from their good old days of How You Remind Me.
Gloomball may have one of the worst names in modern rock music, but keep an eye and an ear open, as this bunch of Germans may yet dominate the airwaves. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Balls To The Wall
Genre: Punk Rock
Just like the subject matter of this album, prolonged exposure to the V8 Wankers will leave you momentarily happy, before you wake up in the morning with a terrible head, asking yourself why. Why did you spend all that money on something that is so momentary, so throwaway?
There are a few decent tunes on the record, but before you hit them you have to slug through countless songs that are all about partying, with repetitive riffs and a singer’s vocal cords that sound as rough as you feel after a night on the beer.
Which is a shame, because there are moments of good music from the Germans. Long Spoon doesn’t really make lyrical sense, but that doesn’t really matter as they deliver a song that has catchy riffs and a decent chorus. For all the negative parts of the album – and there are many – songs like Long Spoon keep you coming back – contradicting any semblance of common sense. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 The Beer And Now
One of the most genuinely exciting bands to emerge from the blackened/ ambient/post-metal/whatever ‘scene’, Ireland’s Altar Of Plagues have spent the last few years re-defining extremity.
Both 2009’s White Tomb and 2011’s incredible Mammal deserve a place on any open-minded metaller’s shelf/iPod… but they’ll now have to jostle for pole position with this opus.
Teethed Glory And Injury however, is not simply a case of AOP continuing where they left off. In fact it’s a very brave move by the trio, who’ve left the sprawling ten minute-plus soundscapes of the past behind and replaced them with shorter tracks, jarring rhythms and unexpected, disorientating twists and turns: there’s even an industrial-tinge to the likes of God Alone.
Yes, the black metal and doom influences are still present, but more in the album’s mood than its riffs. And while the band may attract derision for not producing more of the same, just a few listens to Teethed Glory And Injury will convince you that the change in style has borne fruit… even if those fruit are rotten and hard to digest.
Not an ‘enjoyable’ album by any means… but a brilliant, visionary piece of music. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Glory Beckons
Genre: Doom/ black metal
When you’re trying to bring the freezing, icy land of Antarctica into musical life, employing the kind of blackened, majestic doom found on Nonexistence’s second effort isn’t a bad idea.
Over eight frost-bitten tracks, mainman Philip Santoll, backed by Finnish multi-instrumentalist Tuomas Saukkonen, paint pictures of windswept, desolate landscapes: the true ends of the Earth.
The foreboding, crushing gloom of Paradise Lost, combined with symphonic touches which bring to mind Dimmu Borgir, make for an interesting proposition, and Antarctica is both graceful and powerful. Opener Hope Dies Fast, for instance is a dark shard of doom My Dying Bride would be proud of, while the mountainous Shroud Of Distress brings Santoll’s black metal influences to the fore.
And while the ivory tinkling can be a touch too distracting on the likes of Vast Abysses Inside, that’s a minor quibble, for on the whole, Nonexistence’s glacial, towering music deserves to be heard. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7.5/10 Big Freeze
Genre: Sludge/post metal
The grubby, miserable offspring of former Breach vocalist Tomas Liljedahl, Feast On Your Gone is an unapologetically soul crushing record. It’s also very, very heavy.
The six tracks found here aren’t going to put a smile on your face, and that’s no surprise, given that The Old Wind – consisting solely of Liljedahl himself, at least in the studio – was born of a need for its creator to exorcise his demons.
And what demons they must have been, as on tracks like I’m Dead and Raveneye, emotion seems to pour out of Liljedahl, through both his abrasive vocals and his leaden, doomy riffery.
Feast On Your Gone certainly doffs its cap to the low slung, sludge workouts of Neurosis, but it has an ugly face all of its own, a unique take on hopelessness, if you will. Six songs, however, is probably all you’ll be willing to take. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Gristley
Genre: Thrash Metal
Having finally developed some stability over the last decade, Sodom had yet another line up change in 2010, wand this is their first release since Markus Freiwald entered the picture.
From the jittering drums of My Final Bullet, it appears the continuous line-up changes may have finally caught up with the German giants.
But the album does grow in quality from its inauspicious start. Standout anthem S.O.D.O.M reeks of the shredding riffs, catchy hooks and raw aggression the band built their reputation upon.
While this is a good album, it does not touch on some of the great records Sodom have produced in the past and, at times, sounds like a band who going through the motions. Adam Keys
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Sod This
Genre: Heavy Metal
Pitched somewhere between trad metal and Sabbath-esque doom metal, the riff-heavy Orchid are a quirky act. Clearly rooted in 70s scuzz, the San Franciscans can’t avoid the fact that singer Theo Mindell is, at times, a dead ringer for WASP’s Blackie Lawless.
Every so often the likeness is such that it becomes off-putting. On Leaving It All Behind the resemblance is uncanny and has the effect of undermining Orchid’s brave attempt to make credible metal music beyond their years.
It’s a shame because when Mindell uses a range more akin to Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell in his prime it’s clearly a better fit for The Mouths Of Madness. In isolation Orchid’s music is mesmerising and mystifying in equal measure – easily evoking the classic Sabbath era and building a wall of noise Tony Iommi would be proud to call his own.
But throw in Mindell’s vocals and everything goes to pot. If Orchid are to flower as a credible doom act then tough decisions are required. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Sheer Madness
Genre: Hard Rock
In a previous life Lenny Wolf was lambasted for mimicking one of the greatest classic rock bands on the planet. In 2013 he can be accused of attempting to ape every genre of modern rock from industrial to electro but still the multi-talented German is striving for his own artistic identity.
One listen of Outlier and it’s clear that mirroring Led Zeppelin is the lesser of two evils. At least Wolf allowed his charismatic side to shine on Kingdon Come’s much derided yet endearing self-titled debut – 25 years old in 2013 – and the impressive follow-up In Your Face.
Too often on this mish-mash of styles one of rock’s finest voices is slammed down in the mix – forced to battle against grungy guitars and haphazard electro beats. On heavily rotated lead single God Does Not Save Our Song Wolf is offered the opportunity to showcase his talent and it’s a chance grasped with open arms. Sadly it’s a limited offer.
This is Kingdom Come in name only. In reality it’s just another example of a lone Wolf looking for answers. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Comedown
Genre: Power Metal
Fifteen years into a steady career and Freedom Call feel the time is right to celebrate their back catalogue to date. They could well be right – New Ages Of Light serves as a welcome reminder that power metal still has plenty to offer as a genre.
If a recap of the band’s standard setlist is refreshing enough then it’s the reworked bonus material that will surprise the most hardened of cynics. The classic ‘Killerbilly’ version of Rockin Radio really works and the ‘Melodic Reggae’ version of Mr Evil is inspired.
It would have been easy for Freedom Call to prey on their devoted fan base and churn out a bog standard Best Of before watching the sales roll in and the European dates confirmed. Instead the band has ripped up the manual and offered much more.
Catch them at Staffordshire’s Scarfest this summer and prepare to reassess the power of power metal. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Call To Arms
Genre: Thrash/Death Metal
Reading’s finest metal export inked a deal with Transcend last year and V represents the first brief but compelling blast of a match made in heaven.
There are the recognised screams and the trademark riffs, the soaring solos and the piercing choruses. But there’s also a renewed confidence underpinning an album that shouts maturity and focus.
The subtle keys that link Time and Blueprints ensure the juxtaposition of melody and ferocity is felt more sharply than ever – the former of the album’s best two tracks representing the most exciting five minutes of Malefice’s career.
A band that’s been on the cusp of greatness for some time surely stands a chance of breaking through into the big leagues in 2013? If not now, when? SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 V Power