And there’s a more melodic flavour to this week’s slew of releases with Frontiers Records delivering Whitesnake (pictured), James Christian and King Kobra.
Retro hair metal heroes Santa Cruz make their bid for the big time and sludge metal crew High On Fire unleash a double dose of live fury.
A classic from The Allman Brothers Band gets the deluxe reissue treatment.
Lonewolf, Night Verses and Battlecross bring the metal noise and letlive. return to the fray with one of 2013’s most eagerly anticipated releases.
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: Southern Rock/Country Rock
The first album recorded and released in the wake of Duane Allman’s death, Brothers And Sisters is already regarded as a classic work by a revered band.
Underpinned by a steely determination and a raw emotion, its heady brew of blues, Southern Rock, country and jazz makes for a must-own masterpiece.
If it’s missing from your collection then grab this double disc deluxe edition now. Not so much for the original album – remastered and remixed and featuring the magnificent Ramblin’ Man and Jessica – although seven standout tracks stand the test of time.
No, make this a centrepiece of your rock anthology for the second disc alone – a delightful, sprawling trip into The Allman Brothers Band’s distant past where rehearsals, outtakes and a stunning studio jam capture this outfit at their irreverent best.
Duane might have gone but his spirit it still very much alive on the brilliant Brothers And Sisters. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Relative Success
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Hair Metal/Sleaze Rock
With label mates Reckless Love ripping through packed out venues across the UK and Europe it’s clear there’s a renewed appetite for gonzo metal delivered with just a little more sincerity than Steel Panther.
Santa Cruz have, it would seem, joined the party at just the right time but the Finns often eschew pure cheese for Backyard Babies meets Love/Hate-esque sleaze and perhaps that’s the route they should ultimately follow.
Right now they do the raw, screechy stuff better than the over-produced power ballads but fair play to the spandexed-up quartet for attempting to master the full cock rock spectrum.
In fact, with all the pieces of the hair metal jigsaw firmly in place it would be easy for this band to coast through an album from start to finish in Cruz control. In reality it’s clear a good deal of effort has gone into pitching Screaming For Adrenaline at the right market at the right time. Let’s hope it works. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Santa’s Rocking
Genre: Sludge Metal
With blockbuster back-to-back albums Snakes For The Divine and De Vermis Mysteriis under their belts it’s time for High On Fire to move out of the studio and into the live arena with not one, but two, records bursting with killer cuts.
Having firmly established themselves as key players on the sludge metal scene, the Oakland crew confirm that position with their very own Live And Dangerous/Alive/Live Evil.
It’s an emotion-fuelled rollercoaster ride through some of the heaviest cuts in modern metal with barely a moment of calm within a sea of fret-fuelled ferocity. Wave after wave of punishing riffs pour from speakers barely able to handle a awesome aural assault.
Skip to Snakes Of The Divine – the title track from 2010’s breakthrough record – for the full High On Fire flavour. Then settle down for a feast of monumental metal. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Fire Starters
War Of Will isn’t so much of an album as a whack in the face with a big metal stick. It’s jam-packed with all-guns-blazing neck snappers like Force Fed Lies and the aptly named Beast, and it doesn’t let up for a second.
Battlecross clearly love to go for the jugular, and the Detroit outfit fit very easily into the realm of post-Pantera US metal inhabited by Lamb Of God and Devil Driver.
Razor sharp riffs and mosh-inducing rhythms are present and correct, so too is a strong melodeath influence, which pushes some tracks into Black Dahlia Murder territory. And the leadwork, especially on the stunning Flesh & Bone, is truly sublime.
Does it offer anything new? Not really – and Flesh & Bone aside – War Of Will’s 10 songs tend to blend into one. But if pure sonic adrenaline floats your boat, Battlecross will certainly deliver. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6.5/10 Waging War
Genre: Post Hardcore/Alt Metal
Night Verses’ debut album Lift Your Existence is an album of depth, noise and subtlety. Including former members of letlive. and The Sleeping, the opening track The Rot Under The Sun sounds like it could come straight off a Fall of Troy and The Sleeping collaboration.
But the comparisons in the first half of the record are few and far between, as Night Verses forge their own path with the excellent Celestial Fire and Antidepressants. Two songs that sound like their titles, Celestial Fire employs a magnificent change of pace coupled with delicate chimes that make it instantly stand out. Antidepressants is a raw, aggressive and powerful song that takes no prisoners.
The second half of the album is where the old influences start to break out and it begins to sound more like a reimagined record by The Sleeping.
Lift Your Existence is an album based on aggression and anger. A quick glance through the track titles, with songs such as Antidepressants, Whatever Makes You Hate Me and I Don’t Want My Loved Ones To Die, tells you all that you need to know.
However, aggression, when it’s controlled, can provide good results. Thankfully Night Verses manage to channel it into something that works. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Black Night
Genre: Post Hardcore
With their third album Fake History (which was rated one of Rock Sound’s 101 modern classics), letlive. set the bar high for any follow-up attempt.
And following up on Fake History is The Blackest Beautiful, an album that combines elements of a Hot Action Cop-ish rock/rap delivery with the more traditional screaming vocals of the eternally anguished post-hardcore vocalist.
The subject matter is often as anguished and dark as the vocal delivery, as the lyrics explore the very worst of the human condition through songs such as Dreamers Disease, Banshee (Ghost Fame) and White America’s Beautiful Black Market.
TBB is a more commercial album, something that seems ironic given the band’s previous haranguing of cooperate America, and songs like Pheremone Cvlt and The Fear Fever could serve to introduce a legion of fans to their work slowly and gently.
The best song onthe album, 27 Club, is left to the very end. It just shows what can be created when an artist lets music happen organically, rather than forcing an agenda on their music.
And that’s just what this album feels like – a forced attempt to enter the mainstream, instead of a natural piece of work that sounds great. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Live And Let Live
Genre: Melodic Rock
Had House Of Lords frontman James Christian released Lay It All On Me 25 years ago promoters would be beating down his door in a bid to book up tour after tour of the world’s most prestigious rock haunts.
Lay It All On Me is testimony to an artist who recognises his strengths, uses his experience and revels in the fact that he can reproduce a sound synonymous with melodic rock’s late 80s heyday.
From the slick title track – featuring a peerless vocal – to the almost-ironic closer Welcome To The Future this is a joyous celebration of superior songwriting and pin-sharp production.
The Pyromania-era Leppard-like Sacred Heart is a clear standout and if Christian occasionally drifts into Bryan Adams territory (Believe In Me) it’s a minor complaint. This is fantastic stuff from a proven performer. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 King James
Genre: Hard Rock
You wait almost a quarter of a century for a King Kobra album and then, like buses, two come at once. Well, almost. Hot on the heels of 2011’s self-titled comeback, Paul Shortino and co. are back with another absolute belter.
Have A Good Time could easily be the party rock anthem of the summer – if mainstream radio stations actually considered stuff like this anymore. With a riff that takes root in your head and a chorus that was meant for mass crowd participation, it’s yet further proof that the Kobra were too long gone.
With endearing nods to everyone from Aerosmith to Kiss and Great White to Montrose this is polished hard rock at its sparkly best with Carmine Appice still beating his kit like an animal after all these years.
Shortino might never have hit the (really) big time but he remains one of rock’s most accomplished vocalists – King Kobra II allows him the room to showcase his full range and he’s as feisty as ever here. II good to be true? Almost. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 King Size
Genre: Classic Rock
Whitesnake return to drain the well of live material for the third time in as many years – and the second time in three months – but for fans of a certain vintage this double disc special is the real deal.
Where April’s Made In Japan was more about the visual than the audio – the DVD was the main selling point – and featured a slimmed down greatest hits set this is the definitive record of post-reformation Whitesnake.
Anyone who enjoyed the Forevermore world tour will lap up every minute of both discs. And the partisan Made In Britain (disc one) is a joyous trip down memory lane with David Coverdale making a point of mentioning where it all began for his band – at Newcastle’s City Hall.
Whitesnake recorded more than 130 hours of bluesy rock n roll from across the globe during the Forevermore jaunt and everything included here sounds like the best possible take from the most electric show.
There are gems like Steal Your Heart Away, Pistols At Dawn and The Badger as well as a sparkling rendition of Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City – controversially omitted from this summer’s UK arena shows.
Throw in all the big late 80s hits and Doug Aldrich’s peerless axe work and this is one Whitesnake live album that belongs in any British rock fan’s collection. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Best Of British/World Beater