There’s new music from Def Leppard/Quireboys offshoot Down N Outz and some seriously heavy stuff from Whitechapel.
We review and rate the latest offerings from The Bermondsey Joyriders and Aborted.
Plus we run the rule over Satan’s Satyrs, Dawn and Coldwar.
And there’s even time to cast any eye over Insomnium and Thine.
Every week we reveal the RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK. And we round up the very BEST OF THE REST.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Hard Rock/Southern Rock
Black Stone Cherry or Black Stoned Cherry? Who really knows (probably not the band themselves) but this is clearly an album of high-lights from the laid-back Southern Rock giants.
Me And Mary Jane, Blow My Mind, Peace Pipe, Holding On…To Letting Go and the surreal title track leave little to the imagination as Chris Robertson and co. pay homage to the benefits of taking the odd trip.
It’s a familiar theme, of course, to those who know their rock. And just because musos in the 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond penned tributes to their favourite vices it doesn’t mean the Cherry can’t revisit the subject.
Lyrically, though, it’s all a bit too jaded. In fact it’s just as well this band makes such good music – without the heavy Southern-flavoured riffs and trademark rhythm the focus would be very much on some pretty weak wordplay.
Black Stone Cherry are a brilliant live band who make very good albums but the bigger they get the greater the level of scrutiny where their songwriting is concerned. Magic Mountain has its peaks (Bad Luck & Hard Love and Remember Me will make the Best Of collection) but old friend Mary Jane might just have influenced the odd, worrying trough. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Cherry Bomb?
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Glam Rock
The second installment of fanboy Joe Elliott’s Mott/Ian Hunter tribute albums is no ordinary trip down memory lane. Down N Outz aren’t in the business of bashing out lazy covers to keep the 70s glam rock legacy alive: this is a record rich in ambitious reinterpretation and as fresh as the proverbial spring daisy.
As combinations go guitarists Paul Guerin and Guy Griffin were already tighter than leather hot pants and a lycra vest top (no doubt borrowed from Elliott’s Hysteria-era wardrobe) but here their bond is unbreakable. Talented musicians and the best of mates, they cut loose from their Quireboys’ blueprint and enjoy every minute of The Further Adventures Of…
Meanwhile, Sheffield United’s most famous fan (after Sean Bean) is in blistering form vocally. Elliott hasn’t sounded so good in years and Leppard fans should be licking their lips with glee at the prospect of a new album later this year.
Backed by three full-time Quireboys (and one former Quireboy in the shape of drummer Phil Martini) there’s an inevitable bar-room swagger underpinning a slew of 70s rock n roll classics. The Down N Outz’ take on One Of The Boys is brilliant and tinkler Keith Weir takes the listener on a thrilling retro ride on The Journey.
With an album of Down N Outz originals next up this raucous record could be the precursor to something very special indeed from a super group worthy of the label. Covers albums are rarely much cop: this one’s killer. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Outz Sourcing
Genre: Extreme Metal
With 2012’s self-titled fourth opus, Whitechapel broke out of the deathcore ghetto and into ‘mainstream’ extreme metal: a fine collection of songs, it saw the sextet underpin their savage downtuned assault with emotional intensity and a more considered approach to their songcraft.
And on Our Endless War, the Tennessee boys carry on where they left off, and introduce some thrash and tech-metal elements to the mix too. However, they certainly haven’t gone soft, with efforts like Worship The Digital Age and the crushing How Times Have Changed being about as subtle as a brick in the face.
Unfortunately, with the exception of the The Saw Is The Law, the album’s title track and the more melodic Diggs Road, Our Endless War lacks the strength in depth of its predecessor, and too easily blends into one long, merciless barrage.
It’s a shame, as Whitechapel clearly have plenty to offer, and few bands can match them for all out brutality. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Battle Scarred
Genre: Punk Rock
Since the release of their first album in 2008, this ‘77 punk super group has gathered a strong following, which has sent fans and journalists crazy.
With a wealth of experience behind them and a revolving door of drummers (Rat Scabies has been replaced behind the kit by former Johnny Thunders’ drummer, Chris Musto) it’s impossible to take your eye of this exciting combo.
With rave reviews from 2011’s Noise and Revolutions, the band have reused the same template this time round with former MC5 manager, John Sinclair, providing spoken word between tracks in an album commentary, track-intro style.
The album’s standout comes in the title track Flamboyant Thugs, a throwback to The Damned’s Damned Damned Damned, with aggressive, British vocals matched by the raw live feel that has seemingly eluded modern punk. Bringing back an old sound is one thing but making it as fresh and relevant as the Joyriders have is a whole different matter. Adam Keys
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Joyride
Genre: Death Metal
With a slew of reactivated ‘classic’ death metal bands currently doing the business, it’s easy to forget about bands like Aborted. Founding member Sven de Caluwé has been pushing gore-splattered extremity into the world’s ear canals since 1995 and eight albums down the road, he’s a veteran in his own right.
OK, so they might not have the following of Carcass and At The Gates, or the old school cred of Autopsy, but that doesn’t mean that Aborted can’t write a mean DM tune or two… as The Necrotic Manifesto illustrates. The band are also highly accomplished musicians, and while you’ll be bludgeoned into a pulp by the likes of Coffin Upon Coffin and the blistering An Enumeration Of Cadavers, you can’t help admire Aborted’s technical skills while they boot you around the head.
Samey? Yes. Progressive? Nope. But this is a solid – and perfectly enjoyable – effort from Sven and his merry men, and one which will cause some serious damage. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6.5/10 Man-Mangling
Genre: Garage Rock/Doom
If Hades has a biker bar, Satan’s Satyrs would surely be the house band. For the Virginia act offer up a trashy blend of 60s psyche, raw garage rock and doom which you just can’t help shaking your rump to.
From the fuzzed-up, gonzo riffs of opener Thumper’s Theme, to the closing title track, a drawn out Sab-fest which wouldn’t be out of place on an Electric Wizard album, Die Screaming will have you hooked throughout.
Ok, the wail of vocalist Clayton Burgess might be a (very) acquired taste, but Satan’s Satyrs rock out like there’s no tomorrow and the trio’s demonic boogie has hedonism, debauchery and a sheer love of music right at its heart.
Plus, with songs called Lucifer Lives! and Show Me Your Skull, you know you’re onto a winner even before you’ve pressed play.
The devil has the best tunes, we all know that – and on Die Screaming, there are a few more to add to his playlist. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Horny
Genre: Black Metal
Watain may now be the undisputed kings of melodic black metal, but the Swedes owe much to compatriots like Dawn, who were producing incredible albums like Nær Solen Gar Niþer For Evogher way back in 1994.
Re-released by Century Media, Dawn’s debut is now available in a range of formats – including the very first vinyl version of the album – and certainly deserves this resurrection.
For the band’s first full length is a classic of the BM genre, blessed with finely honed arrangements, searing riffs and tremolo picked melodies that cut you to ribbons: Diabolical Beauty and In the Depths Of My Soul are just two of the highlights, but in truth, Nær Solen Gar Niþer For Evogher stands tall from beginning to end, through the sheer quality of Dawn’s songcraft.
Do they make them like this any more? Yes, but albums as magestic as Dawn’s debut are still few and far between. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8.5/10 Lighting up the day
Genre: Hardcore/Extreme Metal
Dubliners Coldwar have been kicking against Church and state since 1999, and have made some absolutely furious music in the process.
This fifth full length is a violent blend of thrash, death metal and hardcore, topped with a healthy dose of crust punk attitude and a vicious vocal assault from frontman Trevor McClave. It ain’t pretty… or anywhere near groundbreaking.
Indeed, Pantheist could have been recorded any time in the last 20 years and certainly doesn’t re-write the rulebook or offer some kind of grand vision, but if you like lashing out to raging riffs, backed by pummelling double bass drums, you could do worse than tracks like 13th Moon and Heart Of Darkness. And it does contain some more subtle, melodic passages too, with the album’s closer, Last Days Of The 4th Sun, bowing out in eerie fashion.
The lasting impression, though, is of an album better heard live than through an iPod. And that’s probably how Coldwar would want it. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Waging War
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
This is stirring stuff. It’s music to conquer mountains to. It’s music which, despite being shrouded in winter ‘s cold darkness, uplifts the listener with its sheer power. If Game Of Thrones’ Jon Snow had an iPod, it’s a fair bet that he’s be listening to Insomnium while keeping look out from his perch on The Wall (apologies if that sentence doesn’t make sense, but if you’re a rock fan it’s a fair bet you like a bit of GoT).
While We Sleep, which kicks in after the album’s intro, is a titanic piece of songwriting from the Finns, and it’s hard to match such an incredible opener. But on tracks like The River and the blast beat driven Black Heart Rebellion, they give it a damned good go – and nearly succeed.
In fact the bar is set very high throughout, with Ville Friman and Markus Vanhala’s guitarwork veering from beautiful melodic passages to frost-coated goth metal riffing, which sweeps and soars through the likes of Lose To Night and Ephemeral.
Put simply, Insomnium have excelled themselves – and Shadows Of The Dying Sun puts them at the top of the melodic DM tree by some distance. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8.5/10 Insomniummm
Genre: Progressive rock
Thine’s third album in two decades, and the first since 2002’s In Therapy opus, The Dead City Blueprint has been well worth the wait. For the Yorkshire outfit are a quintessentially English band, making brooding, rain swept music which both lulls and surprises in equal measure.
And in founding member Alan Gaunt, they boast a hugely talented vocalist – it’s his performance which really stands out here, as he caresses the listener through the folk-leaning Flame To The Oak, and the dark, melancholic Scars From Limbo. And on The Precipice, one of the album’s more fast-paced tracks, he proves that there’s power in his delivery too.
Fans of Anathema’s more recent work should find much to enjoy on The Dead City Blueprint, as should anyone who likes their music washed down with a glass of fine red wine and a dash of eccentricity. Thinking man’s rock? You’ve got it right here. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7.5/10 Design Of The Times