It’s a brand new year and there’s a whole heap of brand new music already making its mark on the rock and metal scene.
This week’s pick of the bunch include latest 70s-influenced throwback The Vintage Caravan (pictured) and veteran metallers Iced Earth.
There’s new music from Suicidal Angels and Iskald. Plus we check out the latest from Canadian trad metal heroes Skull Fist.
Every Sunday we reveal the RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK.
And we check out the very BEST OF THE REST.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
The Vintage Caravan – Voyage (Nuclear Blast)
Genre: Classic Rock
Do caravans undertake voyages? It’s a moot point. But whatever the technicalities of a joyous journey through rock’s ages this could be the trip of a lifetime.
Fusing meaty, scuzzy, riffs with a vocal call to arms to rival Rival Sons’ Jay Buchanan, The Vintage Caravan have hit the ground running with a rollercoaster of retro-fuelled goodness.
Opener Craving could hardly be more apt. By the time this compelling statement of intent has sounded its raucous rallying cry you’ll be desperate for more. And more there is – in the mould of Sabbath, classic Purple and relative newbies Graveyard and Free Fall.
The Vintage Caravan were never going to reinvent the wheel. But who cares when their vibe is this good? Transport yourself to 1974 and enjoy the ride. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Vintage Bubble
BEST OF THE REST
Iskald – Nedom og Nord (Indie Recordings)
Genre: Black Metal
The polar vortex may have caused havoc in North America, but Norway has its fair share of icey, blasting winds too, vividly brought to life in the music of Iskald. The band’s fourth full length is a New Year treat for lovers of melodic black metal – it’s progressive without being pompous, epic yet rarely lacking focus.
A tribute to the northern parts of their homeland, Nedom og Nord is a grand opus and tracks such as The Silence and Underworldly showcase both Iskald’s technical ability and ambition, as well as offering plenty of frostbitten riffs which nod to BM’s infamous second wave.
You can almost feel the chill of a Scandinavian winter when listening to this album, and while it may not serve as an ideal advert for the Norwegian Tourist Board, it paints pictures of majestic landscapes and boasts a cold atmosphere which seeps into your bones.
Hot stuff? No. But all the better for it. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7.5/10 Kings Of The North
Skull Fist – Chasing The Dream (Noise Art)
Genre: Heavy Metal
Pursuing fellow countrymen 30 Inches Of Blood with renewed vigour it’s clear that Skull Fist are still determined to be crowned Canada’s number one trad metal band. And on this evidence the race could soon be well and truly over.
Adding elements of polished hair metal to their staple NWOBHM sound, the classy quartet have made remarkable progress since 2011’s debut Head Of The Pack hinted at a glorious future. Think Maiden crossed with Ratt and Saxon covering classic Quiet Riot. It’s that good.
Bad For Good is a brilliant metal anthem. The title track tugs at your metal heartstrings like Brett Michaels revisiting the Sunset Strip and the drum roll intro to Sign Of The Warrior could blast through the thickest combo of denim and leather (it seems new stixman Chris Steve is keen to make an impression).
Shred’s Not Dead might be too cheesy for most but set closer Mean Street Rider is a riveting send-off. Enjoy loud. Enjoy often. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Dream Scenario
Suicidal Angels – Divide And Conquer (Noise Art)
Genre: Thrash Metal
It’s just shy of two years since Bloodbath earned Greece’s answer to Death Angel a RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 review and this ferocious follow-up is yet another seminal slice of thunderous thrash.
Seed Of Evil allows founder and frontman Nick Melissourgos ample opportunity to showcase his striking evolution from Dave Mustaine wannabe to genuine metal titan – more than six minutes of epic loudness is the sound of a talented musician turning potential into proven class.
This is an album as bold as it is beautiful and bombastic as it is focused. Suicidal Angels make one hell of a racket but never lose sight of the classic thrash melodies underpinning their very best work.
The terrific title track rolls along at a punishing pace – each note, chord, drum roll and scream a nod to the genre’s greats. Remember Anthrax at their angsty best, the fresh-faced Death Angel in the early days and Testament circa 1986? Divide And Conquer takes you back to the future. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 All Conquering
Iced Earth – Plagues Of Babylon (Century Media)
Genre: Heavy Metal
The eerie, almost tribal intro. to set opener and title track Plagues Of Babylon suggests Iced Earth mean business on the album many are tipping to carry the US metal crew into the big leagues. It’s ambitious, atmospheric and absorbing all in one – and that’s before frontman Stu Block lays the foundation for a near eight minute epic with his impassioned wail.
Of course wading in big early doors has its dangers. And the rest of this record often sounds disconcertingly tame by comparison. There’s nothing that quite matches the majesty of track one and while it would be unfair to suggest it’s all downhill from there then there are relatively few peaks poking above the many troughs.
Block is part of the problem. Lacking the vocal dexterity to challenge metal’s genre leaders he can only go so far on raw emotion and sheer power. On Democide he sounds distinctly ill. And on Among The Living Dead it’s as if he’s trying too hard to imagine life (or death) as a zombie.
Iced Earth have made yet another good album. It’s just not the great record metal fans craved. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Iced Gem?