As usual there’s a full range of contenders with singer songwriter Ryan Roxie jostling for position alongside melodic death metal crew Sonic Syndicate.
We check out the latest release from Jon Allen (pictured) and run the rule over returning hero Ted Nugent.
There’s new music from soft rock legends Chicago and US upstarts Wilson.
Plus we review and rate albums by The Relapse Symphony and Black Trip.
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: Blues/Folk/Rock N Roll
Feted by Radio Two, patronised by Jools Holland, beloved of folksy blues rockers across the Pond and clearly producing the best music of his career, Jon Allen’s time has surely come.
Deep River showcases dazzling songwriting of the highest calibre and if it’s impossible to escape Allen’s uncanny likeness to Rod Stewart it’s by no means a criticism of this most accomplished musician.
Opener Night And Day offers no hint of what’s to come – its relative simplicity in stark contrast to Deep River’s more intricate moments. Hummingbird Blues is quite brilliant and Wait For Me is a wake-up call for those yet to be convinced by Allen’s rising star. And just when the vibe could be lost, the horn section on Get What’s Mine gives the tail end of a terrific record a timely boost.
Touring the UK this autumn it would be a mistake to miss Allen. Three albums in and he’s on fire. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 In At The Deep End
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Rock N Roll/Hard Rock/Sleaze Rock
Sometime Alice Cooper guitarist and self-styled rock n roll troubadour Ryan Roxie has reverted to Roxie 77 mode for the band’s first new material in five years.
English and Swedish versions of six songs reflect the EP’s title – the limited vinyl release (including a run of 77 red records) reflecting Roxie’s love of all things retro.
Following hot on the heels of the career-spanning Roxie Box there’s the usual heady mix of bar room rock n roll, sleaze-lite riffs and trademark balladry as the main man breezes through the perfect soundtrack to a lazy summer. The Beatles-esque acoustic number Anna is sparkling in its simplicity – the saxophone solo a genuine bonus.
The indie-flavoured Downtown is optimistically upbeat and fans of the Rolling Stones, Hanoi Rocks and The Wildhearts will love the enigmatically-titled Silent Confrontation.
The Swedish take on all six songs is fascinating and for Roxie completionists The Ameriswede EP is essential listening. For the rest of us it’s another intriguing diversion on a fascinating musical journey. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Swede Smell Of Success
Genre: Hard Rock
The Motor City Madman’s return is typically brash and refreshingly bold – Shut Up & Jam is a no-holds-barred blast of the Nuge doing what he does best: firing off salvo upon salvo of high octane rock n roll.
Detroit might be in terminal decline but one of the city’s favourite sons appears in no mood to throw in the towel just yet. Roping in old buddy Sammy Hagar for a sweet turn on She’s Gone is a shrewd move but in all honesty big Ted needs little help from his friends.
Still boasting one of the most rough and ready voices in rock it’s his 100mph riffs and soaring solos that deliver SU&J’s stirring highlights. Nugent’s fretwork on Everything Matters is frightening while I Love My BBQ is the type of tongue-in-cheek anthem he’s trademarked over time.
It’s seven years since Ted delivered a studio album but this belter of a record has been well worth the wait. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Jamtastic
Genre: Hard Rock/Metal
According to Wilson’s overly optimistic publicity material it’s high time UK fans were treated to a full release of Full Blast Fuckery. Don’t believe the hype.
This is an inane, insubstantial, infuriatingly dull and desperately generic dog’s dinner of an album. Wilson’s laughable brand of party metal is part poor man’s Foo Fighters, part Shinedown-lite and mostly a total waste of time.
Better Off (Strictly Doods) is one of the worst offenders and while College attempts to create a sound akin to a nastier Motley Crue it’s still kindergarten stuff.
The fact that Wilson have yet to break the UK is a blessing for fans on this side of the Atlantic. The longer they stay there the better. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 3/10 For Fuckery’s Sake
Genre: Hard Rock
For bands still trying to figure out a sound, The Relapse Symphony should be an inspiration. Trying to tie down Shadows to one specific genre is tricky – and that’s because the band themselves don’t really know what sound they are.
“(This) is a combination of everything we love about our favourite bands,” says guitarist JC Charles. The best way to pin it down is to describe it as a mixture of Emo, Rock ‘n Roll, Hard Rock with a splash of Black Veil Brides thrown in for good measure.
With big, black hair and guyliner, the content of the lyrics don’t necessarily come as a surprise – there is plenty about girls, emotions and death – but The Relapse Symphony try to rock out really hard and that they accomplish it.
Angles Takes Us Demons Save Us, We Are The Broken and Savage Eyes are among the standout songs from an album that delivers more than it promises if taken solely on appearance.
Watch out Black Veil Brides, there’s a new band coming for your crown. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Symphony Or Damned
Genre: Trad Metal
The age of the sub-40 minute NWOBHM-styled, denim and leather-infused trad metal album is alive and well. And it should come as no surprise to learn that a bunch of long-haired Swedes are responsible for the perfect take on the classic sound of the 80s.
More polished than Free Fall, gutsier than Graveyard and offering a more commercial take on Grand Magus, the retro-fuelled quintet have clearly done their homework.
Goin’ Under is like a vintage Saxon record given a 2014 reboot and it’s better than anything Biff and the boys have mustered in recent years.
The eight songs here will have you begging for more but tunes like Radar, The Bells and Thirst sound better and better on repeat. It’s become the fashion to plunder trad metal’s glittering past but Black Trip have done it better than most. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 VIP Trip
Genre: Soft Rock
Only the Beach Boys can better Chicago’s record as a US charting band and the title track and lead single from their latest opus proves they’re still penning soft rock anthems par excellence.
Ensuring the Roman numeral remains en vogue, album number 36 doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel: as such fans of classic Chicago will love every last second of Now. Glorying in Chicago’s trademark fusion of rock and soul – replete with the band’s famous horns – this is a record carefully coated in a glossy radio-friendly sheen.
Standout track America is patriotism personified. Few US bands are in a position to deliver the line ‘America, America is free, America, America is you and me’ and still maintain a straight face. But Chicago command the respect, authority and authenticity required to pull off the cheesiest of 21st century anthems.
Interestingly it’s the percussion of Walfredo Reyes Jr that provides Now’s unexpected highlights. In a mix dominated by sugary choruses and that signature brass, the beat holds everything together. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Now Or Never
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
The self-titled follow-up to 2010’s ludicrously optimistic We Rule The Night is a tantalising blast of what might have been.
In their infancy Sonic Syndicate oozed excitement, ambition and a genre-defying verve but as the band’s various founder members have gradually drifted away, the Swedes have slowly but surely moved to play it safe – as much as a melodic death metal band can.
At times this record really hits the mark: the focus and fury of Black Hole recalls the band’s early ethos and Long Road Home is equally effective – if seemingly self-reflective.
Nathan J Biggs’ clean vocals are worthy of praise but his talent is never truly allowed to shine in the face of a muddled and misleading mix. Sonic Syndicate is a band at the crossroads and where they go next could make or break their metal future. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Synful