And it’s safe to say there’s a bumper crop of genre-busting rock ready to hit the shelves tomorrow.
Leading the charge are Top 10-bound US retro heroes Rival Sons (pictured) with fourth long player Great Western Valkyrie one of 2014’s most talked about titles.
Veterans Uriah Heep, Tesla and Night Ranger all return to the fray with brand new music.
And there’s the return of Arch Enemy with their first post-Gossow album.
German heavy rock troupe Kadavar build the momentum with a meaty live set from Belgium.
And at the even heavier end of the scale there’s new music from Wretched, Tombs, Godflesh and Falconer.
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: Classic Rock
A must-see at this year’s Download festival, cerebral classic rockers Tesla have followed up the fantastic Forevermore with the superb Simplicity – the disarming album title utterly at odds with the thought-provoking lyrical twists and turns typical of this criminally underrated band.
Simplicity’s title is taken from a line in opener MP3 – a heartfelt nod to nostalgia and a warning to those attempting to keep pace with modern technology’s unstoppable advance.
Technology, of course, has always been close to Tesla’s heart with the band named after electrical engineer Nikola Tesla and hit albums Mechanical Resonance and The Great Radio Controversy tapping into the Sacramento act’s obsession with communication.
Here the message is clear: Tesla are in no mood to slip away quietly after three decades in the business. The power of Ricochet, the passion underpinning Cross My Heart and the peaceful refrain of set closer Burnout To Fade prove this is a quartet still keen bolster an already impressive artistic canon. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Simply The Best
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Classic Rock
Only Tesla (see above) can better this week’s biggest release and if Great Western Valkyrie isn’t the album to finally persuade the masses that Rival Sons are their new favourite band we’ll eat our transparent red gatefold vinyl.
And here’s the thing: bands like this, soaked in 70s classic rock and respectful of the genre’s glorious past, were surely born to forge their reputation on physical ‘records’. It’s virtually impossible to capture Great Western Valkyrie’s mood, ambition, stunning soundscape and awe-inspiring gravitas via a download or – woe betide – through a stream.
One twirl on the decks and this modern masterpiece is swiftly elevated to the status of treasured classic. Its 10 tracks mark a unique moment in time, a justification of the hype and a testament to the incredible craftsmanship of four supremely talented individuals guided by the naturally gifted Dave Cobb.
The Doorsy Good Luck, urgency of Electric Man and emotive tug of Belle Starr offer compelling evidence that Rival Sons are – of their type –without rivals. This is peerless, pulsating, precious rock. And Good Things is the best thing ever.
Two discs: one lasting record of a band ready to seize the day. Dig out the old turntable and usher in an exciting new era. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Sons Burn
Genre: Extreme Metal
With their ’09 debut, Winter Hours, Tombs established themselves as a powerful force in extreme music; the New Yorkers’ blend of abrasive black metal and noise rock conjured images of urban blight and crumbling cities, and that bleak outlook still lies at the heart of the band’s work.
Savage Gold, Tombs’ third effort, is therefore a difficult listen, but one which offers plenty of rewards, and from the searing, caustic BM of opener Thanatos to the awesome, Godflesh-inspired Deathtripper, it never stops pummelling your senses.
Many black metal bands could learn something from Tombs’ approach, which sees the quartet twist the genre to their own ends, rather than let it constrict their music, and gives tracks like Ashes so much potency. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy unleashing some lacerating tremolo picking when the need arises, as Séance illustrates.
Dramatic, gritty and imbued with a real sense of cold dread, Savage Gold is the sound of civilisation falling to ruin. You have been warned. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Golden Era
As soon as you hear the first rumbles of GC Green’s distinctive bass, the steel-plated riffs of Justin Broadrick and that relentless, industrial beat, you know that Godflesh are back – and Ringer, the opener to this EP, ensures they’re back with a bang too.
Having reformed for some live dates in ’09 after a seven year hiatus, recorded output was the logical next step – but with Broadrick wearing so many hats (Jesu, JK Flesh etc), there was always the worry that Godflesh might not make it into the studio.
Thankfully they did, and Decline And Fall sees the duo making the same kind of pounding, post-apocalyptic soundscapes that became their trademark on albums like Streetcleaner and Pure. Dogbite is classic ‘flesh, and while Playing With Fire and the title track aren’t quite as strong, this effort still bodes well for their first full-length in 13 years, due out this autumn. Frankly, we can’t wait! RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 In The Flesh
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Singers come and singers go. It’s a fact of life in the fickle world of rock and metal. But when a formidable songstress of Angela Gossow’s class and calibre suddenly flies the nest there’s understandable apprehension.
Fourteen years as the face of Arch Enemy and in possession of one of the fiercest vocal ranges, hers is a loss that would be felt far more keenly by founder member Michael Amott were it not for the gritty debut of replacement Alissa White-Gluz.
No Gossow, she is, nevertheless, a frightening prospect in her own right. Ripping through Never Forgive, Never Forget, the punishing title track and highlight Avalanche it’s obvious this is a chance White-Gluz was determined to take.
War Eternal won’t be remembered as an Arch Enemy classic but it might yet go down in history as the moment these great survivors rose from the ashes of post-Gossow self-doubt. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 War Story
Genre: Power/Folk Metal
Swedes Falconer have been making epic, swords-in-the-air metal since 1999, but have yet to make the same kind of international impact as contemporaries like HammerFall or Turisas. Will Black Moon Rising lift them up the Bloodstock bill? Unlikely. There is some fine musicianship on the album – Wasteland is a stormer of a track, drawing on black metal elements – and Stefan Weinerhall and Jimmy Hedlund’s axework is impressive throughout.
However Mathias Blad’s vocals are an acquired taste to say the least, neither boasting the power of classic trad metal warblers, nor the grit that would inject some extra verve into tracks like Halls and Chambers… and his quaint style makes the mediaeval-esque Scoundrel and the Squire sound even more twee.
Black Moon Rising, then, will no doubt appeal to some, but lacks the ingredients to lift Falconer to greater heights. Disappointing. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 4.5/10 Featherweight
Genre: Heavy Rock/Doom Metal
The people of Belgium never had it so good. When Kadavar announced they were en route to conquer Antwerp the odd daughter might have been locked up but on this evidence every long-haired, doom-laden rocker in the vicinity welcomed the German invaders with open arms.
A rowdy, riff-heavy, sweat-soaked show perfectly captures the bearded three-piece in punishing form a few months on from the release of the RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Abra Kadavar. The Sabbath-esque Creature Of The Demon is suitably oppressive while Living In Your Head is lapped up by the moshing masses.
An invaluable addition to Nuclear Blast’s retro-tastic roster, Kadavar will capture the hearts of fans into Graveyard, Free Fall, Blues Pills and The Vintage Caravan. Many more shows like this and they could even outshine their more illustrious label mates. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Ant Music
Genre: Classic Rock/AOR/Melodic Rock
Eleven studio albums into a stellar career and Night Ranger – the band responsible for classics Sister Christian and (You Can Still) Rock In America – continue to knock out irresistibly catchy tunes.
Knock Knock Never Stop sets the mood while Rollin’ On (replete with the line ‘until the day I die’) is a fine exercise in self-deprecation and a trademark singalong anthem to boot.
Founder members Kelly Keagy and Brad Gills have always had a good thing going on and High Road strengthens a seemingly unbreakable bond. The bluesy, Free-meets-Thunder Don’t Live Here Anymore is as good as any of the hits punctuating the band’s meaty back catalogue. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Road To Success
Genre: Classic Rock
With the 2014 Download Festival just days away this spirited album recalls one of last year’s standout cameos as Mick Box slayed the second stage crowd with a masterclass in old school guitar heroics.
That brief but brilliant set proved there was plenty of life left in the Heep – even if long-time bass player Trevor Bolder had passed away just weeks earlier. Outsider is the first post-Bolder release and it’s a record that screams defiance, determination and devilish intent.
Box and long-time co-writing partner Phil Lanzon have crafted a rounded set every bit as good as 2011’s critically acclaimed Into The Wild with The Law, Looking At You and Jessie three standouts within a series of Heep highlights.
At a time when the world is going crazy for Led Zeppelin’s expanded reissues it’s worth remembering that they’re far from the best of British when it comes to enduring rock acts. Forty-five years and 24 albums into their incredible career, Heep still have the edge. And they’re still making memorable new music. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Outsider Tip
Genre: Death Metal
Few acts can make tech-death memorable or engaging, with the genre laden with bands for whom dexterous fretwork takes precedence over mature songwriting. Wretched, sadly, fall into that trap, and while there’s no doubting the quality of their musicianship, Cannibal is generic and often uninspired.
There are some decent tracks on the North Carolina act’s fourth full length – the title track boasts some slick, well executed time changes which lock into a brutal, mid-paced groove, and To The Flies introduces more melody to the guitar work.
But there’s just not enough to hook you in on songs like Thin Skinned or Gold Above Me, and there are bands out there, such as The Black Dahlia Murder, who can pull this music off with far more aplomb.
Of course, guitar shop junkies will find much to like here, but for the rest of us, Cannibal lacks bite. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Poor Diet