Today we focus on new music from AOR stable mates Newman and Farraday.
And we delve into the death metal of Quest Of Aidance. Plus there’s new music from Pantheon.
Death Valley High‘s (pictured) latest work is reviewed and rated and we check out Counterparts‘ brand new record.
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
During the last 15 years Steve Newman has become synonymous with soul-searching, classy and emotive melodic rock. A bastion of the AOR scene and a prolific writer of polished, hook-laden tunes this is the 10th album from the band bearing his name.
As expected there’s not a weak track here and searching for any obvious flaws on Siren is like looking for a guitar pick in a mosh pit. It’s almost impossible – although Had Enough and The Foolish One are poorer by comparison to the album’s standout tracks.
Opener Scar Of Love is typical Newman fare with its flowing verses, catchy melody and killer chorus. Some Kind Of Wonderful is slick in the extreme but Another Bitch Of A Night is a jarring mismatch set alongside the rest of this record’s highlights.
Thankfully instant classics Feel Her Again and the magnificent title track prove Newman haven’t lost their old spark. This is AOR at its commercially-driven and radio-friendly best. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 New Men
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: AOR/Hair Metal
Fans of White Lion, Def Leppard, Dare and Poison should beg, borrow or steal a copy of Farraday’s joyous Shade Of Love. Going back to the late 80s with a zeal missing from so many of 2013’s hair metal throwbacks, this is a measured and meticulous record rich in everything that was so overblown and underrated 25 years ago.
Rock U (The Old Fashion Way) is as cheesy as the title – replete with retro brackets – suggests and the likeness to Mike Tramp’s Pride-era vocals is eery. Right across this fabulous record the vocal harmonies, perfectly positioned keys and anthemic choruses are spot on: it’s like Farraday digested the hair metal songbook in one sitting and made the record of their lives at the first attempt.
Roy Da Vis (vocal and keys) has delivered a sparkling debut demanding a wider audience – preferably an audience born in the early 70s and schooled on spandex, big hair and MTV gloss. Shade Of Love is, of its type, the best record we’ve heard in 2013. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Farraday Trip
Genre: Doom Rock
Comparisons with teen buzz band Black Veil Brides are unavoidable where the recently remodelled Death Valley High are concerned but Positive Euth is a pale imitation of the Brides’ best work.
Lacking imagination, originality and passion, this mundane collection of generic ‘club rock’ anthems fails to venture beyond the commercial and the contrived. At least the thumping How2Kill sounds like The Clash making a comeback in 2013 but it’s a rare polished gem in amongst a pile of riff-laden rubble.
Batdanse owes almost all of its punky bravado to the aforementioned Brides but even DVH’s bravest efforts lack the nous synonymous with the canny songwriting of Andy Biersack and company.
It had been suggested in certain quarters that DVH could be shock rock’s next big thing. On this evidence they’re nothing more than a big disappointment. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 4/10 Highs And Lows
Genre: Death Metal
An atmospheric instrumental opener – boasting a military beat and some rousing keys – briefly suggests Misanthrophic Propaganda could be much more than a predictable death metal procession.
However, as soon as Seething Voids blows away that pretension with a merciless zeal there’s no suggestion Quest Of Aidance have gone soft in the throes of delivering their debut full-lengther.
In fact the Swedes have upped the ante when it comes to making more noise than a nuclear blast site but in that search for aural ferocity all sense of identity and individuality is lost.
Slipping into a familiar groove laden with nods to the death metal greats this isn’t a bad album – it’s just been done before. Quest Of Aidance always had the potential to break new ground but in 2013 they’re only breaking the sound barrier. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Forlorn Quest
Genre: Melodic Hardcore
No genre-leaders, Counterparts are, nevertheless, very good at what they do. Never likely to capture the imagination of those skirting the fringes of the melodic hardcore scene their future fan base will be drawn from those fully appreciative of a no-holds-barred approach to some of metal’s most angular sounds.
For example, if Hundredth are your bag then Counterparts are clearly worthy of serious consideration. If melodic hardcore is at your metal heart then there’s every chance you’ll fall in love with this Canadian crew.
Cursed is a glorious case in point. Sure, it sounds a little bit like just about everything you’ve heard before but there’s an addictive quality to this most punishing of tunes. Counterparts are the ultimate professionals in a business that often places bold creativity before tried and tested business sense.
As such TDBHAM can come across a little cold and dispassionate. In fact this album if focused and firm in its steadfast beliefs. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Counterfit
Genre: Heavy Metal
Treading a thin line between the NWOBHM bluster of Saxon and the lighter side of the Bay Area thrash scene, York quartet Pantheon have the potential to give America’s new breed of metal titans a run for their money.
But if a band that can come across all latter-day Judas Priest (Bladerunner) is to reach the next level then serious questions have to be asked about the production values they attach to their fledgling releases.
It’s far from easy for an emerging act to capture their best mix on a limited budget but lead singer/bass player Simon Dawson frequently sounds like he’s performing in a different country – let alone a different studio room – to his band mates. There’s no obvious connection between the vocals and the riffs and Intervention is an incredibly frustrating listen as a result.
It’s clear that the four songs showcased here could be huge if Machine Head, Trivium or Lamb Of God lent their names to a quartet of powerful compositions. In the hands of Pantheon (or their producer) none sound like genuine contenders. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Urgent Intervention Required