It’s that time of the week again when we round up the very best in new rock and metal album releases.
Hotly tipped female fronted blues rockers Blues Pills finally unleash their full-length debut.
And there’s new music from John Garcia, Wednesday 13 (pictured) and Gregory Lynn Hall.
We review and rate the latest sounds from King Of Asgard, Entrails and English Dogs.
Plus we deliver our verdict on Corrupt Moral Altar and Bowl Ethereal.
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
Blues Pills – Blues Pills (Nuclear Blast)
Genre: Blues Rock
Elin Larsson was born to sing dirty, raspy, emotive blues rock: that the fates have conspired to throw her together with guitar prodigy Dorian Sorriaux is a blessing for all fans of Cream, Sabbath, classic Purple and latter day Scando stars Graveyard and Free Fall.
The duo dovetail in spectacular fashion to craft a fabulous fusion of retro goodness that nevertheless offers a fascinating glimpse into this band’s exciting future. Blues Pills are right up there with Rival Sons when it comes to leading the 21st century blues rock revolution.
Skip straight to Black Smoke (track one, side two on Rushonrock’s strictly limited pink vinyl) for compelling evidence that Larsson and Sorriaux were born to groove together. The latter’s scintillating guitar work belies belief on a belter of a track and although the pace drops significantly on River it matters little. In fact Larsson, her vocal strength laid bare, excels when under pressure to lead the way.
Devil Man, by now a familiar blast of Blues Pills, almost sounds dated within this expertly produced set but it’s a reminder of just how far this brilliant band has come within 18 months – and how far they can go moving forward. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Elin The Groove
BEST OF THE REST
John Garcia – John Garcia (Napalm)
Genre: Stoner Rock/Alt Rock
In 1972, Lester Bangs penned on of the most controversial pieces of rock criticism, as he tore apart Exile On Main Street, describing it as a soulless piece of work.
Forty-two years on and Bangs’ review has been shot down, as Exile On Main Street has gone down as one of the greatest albums of all time. However, the soul of music is still as important as ever.
In the world were people are scared to show their soul, rock and roll should bare all and this album, unfortunately, feels more like a half-hearted attempt to get an album out quickly to meet label demands.
While there are a number of gripping riffs and strong vocals from Garcia, there is also a sense that he doesn’t really believe in this album.
Despite the strong start, with the beautifully distorted opening riffs of My Mind, the album quickly fades away with the appropriately named Confusion providing a feeble, feedback-infused mess. Plenty to work on but music needs soul! Adam Keys
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Honest John?
Entrails – Resurrected From The Grave (Demo Collection) (Metal Blade)
Genre: Death Metal
Coming hot on the heels of last year’s Raging Death opus, Resurrected From The Grave is a weighty collection from the re-animated Swedes, in terms of both its pulverising riffery and sheer amount of music on offer (18 tracks, we’ll have you know).
The material is culled from versions of Entrails two original 90s demos, which were re-recorded in 2009 but self-released and limited to 50 copies each at the time. And Metal Blade have certainly done the death metal community no disservice in helping the thrashing Human Decay, groovesome Casket Garden and punky Evil Obsession reach a wider audience.
Purists might even prefer the more primitive, bottom-heavy production afforded to Resurrected From The Grave, compared to that which graced 2013’s full-length, and while Entrails can be a little repetitive at times (especially over 18 songs), there are plenty of reasons here to bang your head into oblivion. Play loud. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Grave Times
English Dogs – The Thing With Two Heads (Candlelight)
Genre: Thrash Metal
It’s curious that there are now two versions of this long-established, rabble rousing institution; a punk version, lead by original vocalist Wakey and the crossover/metal line-up, featuring Graham ‘Gizz’ Butt of Janus Starl/The Prodigy fame, and guitarist on the dogs’ second album, Forward Into Battle. It’s the latter incarnation who are responsible for The Thing With Two Heads, which, as its name implies, is a thrashy old beast, best washed down with a pint of cider… and boasting plenty of taught axework and ripping solos courtesy of Mr Butt.
And bar the beefy production, this album could have been recorded any time from 1984 to 1990, as it unashamedly deals in punked-up thrash metal written straight for the mosh pit.
When English Dogs keep things simple (Turn Away From The Light, Ghost Note), The Thing With Two Heads does a decent job… when they try more complex arrangements and introduce more melody (Rectify, Royal Flying Corpse), the quintet sound like a poor pub thrash band – which is never a good thing, and makes this opus a mixed bag to say the least…RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Dogged
Corrupt Moral Altar – Mechanical Tides (Season Of Mist)
Genre: Extreme Metal
Forget While She Sleeps. Forget Bring Me The Horizon. If you want to see what kind of metal Britain is really capable of producing, metal which blasts its way into your consciousness and vaporises your soul, then look no further than Corrupt Moral Altar.
An unholy alliance of sludge, death metal, hardcore and grindcore, CMA inhabit similar scorched turf as US extremists Nails, but rather than aping any American acts, the Liverpool outfit’s flailing, barbed ditties are pent up, urban British rage personified. Put simply, tracks like River Blind, Father Tongue and Closed Casket will make you want to punch your way through walls of reinforced concrete.
However, that’s not to say the fearsome quartet can’t conjure some deeper, atmospheric music when the mood takes them, with Admit Defeat seeing the band in a more reflective (and less frantic) mood.
The UK is producing some truly exciting extreme bands at the moment, with the likes of Conan, Bast and Coltsblood really turning heads. And with Mechanical Tides, Corrupt Moral Altar have announced their arrival in some style. A devastating record. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8.5/10 Tidal Wave
Bowl Ethereal – Bowl Ethereal (Southern Lord)
The dynamic duo of Amish Control Tower’s multi-instrumentalist Brian Metz and Loincloth/Honor Role’s Pen Rollings unleashed five of these six tracks as a demo in 2013. Now available as a seven-inch, with an extra track, this is a lurching, complex – and pretty absorbing – riff fest, where every movement, every change of pace, every cymbal crash, is made to count.
Each composition clocks in at one minute, but you still get plenty of bang for your buck, with the complex arrangements of God’s Damned, Initial Nutrient Receptacle and The Sixth Sickener especially leaving you scratching your head, yet still wanting more. Plus, the likes of Cryonic Slumber boast hooks that many a death metal band would kill for, which only adds to Bowl Ethereal’s odd appeal.
Let’s hope that there’s plenty more to come, as it would be a shame if this project didn’t bear more substantial fruit. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6.5/10 The Joy Of Six
King Of Asgard – Karg (Metal Blade)
Genre: Black/Viking Metal
They may not be as commercially successful as Amon Amarth, but like their fellow Swedes, King Of Asgard’s Norse metal is played with real passion, and a reverence for their ancestral heritage.
A more focused effort than its predecessor, …to North, Karg opens up with two storming tracks of rousing, blackened Viking metal in The Runes Of Hel and The Trickster, and they set the tone for the rest of this opus. There’s a real art to incorporating folk melodies into searing black metal riffery, and King Of Asgard pull this technique off better than most, with The Heritage Throne a prime example. And of course it wouldn’t be Swedish extreme metal without a nod to Bathory, which you’ll find on Highland Rebellion.
If there’s one criticism, it’s that a few tracks on Karg lumber along, rather than go for the jugular, but on the whole, Karg is a fine effort from a band on the rise. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7.5/10 Thor-some
Gregory Lynn Hall – Heaven To Earth (AOR Heaven)
Genre: Classic Rock
From the Thunder-esque opener Rockin’ The Road thru the Coverdale/Hughes-influenced Stars In The Night and into the Dio-styled Love Can it’s unlikely you’ll hear a better hat-trick of opening tracks all year.
Sure, the quality inevitably wanes a little as Heaven To Earth explores every facet of the classic rock genre but this album is assured as it is polished. The only surprise is that it’s taken Hall the best part of 40 years to fire off his first solo record.
Renowned as a session muso par excellence, a regular on the American West Coast scene in the 80s and latterly the voice of 101 South, the ex-Rat Sally singer has pulled out all the stops in a brave bid to shed his nearly-man tag. And he’s succeeded.
Give Heaven To Earth a whirl (the Leppard-meets-Whitesnake title track is real treat) and you’ll wonder why Hall’s remained a rock n roll stranger for so long. Welcome to his Indian Summer. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Hall Right Now
Wednesday 13 – Undead, Unplugged (Self-Released)
Genre: Shock Rock/Acoustic Rock
It’s a wonder one of the hardest working (business)men in rock hasn’t given his best work the unplugged treatment before now but Wednesday 13 – buoyed by the success of side project Bourbon Crow – is ready to show off his softer side at last.
Of course there’s an argument that the self-styled heir to Alice Cooper’s shock rock throne should steer well clear of anything that’s likely to destroy his image as a harbinger of pure evil and destruction.
Yet Wednesday – like his idol – has never been afraid to defy convention. And Undead, Unplugged reveals itself to be an opportunity for artistic fulfilment and a bid for some well deserved critical acclaim.
Suddenly the trademark screaming and shouting seems childish in comparison to the mature gravel-toned rasp underpinning the unplugged version of Haunt Me. The messages are clear and it all sounds even more sinister and foreboding without a thumping bass line. Wednesday 13 reinvented. Who knew? SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Undead, Unplugged, Unbelievable