There’s a batch of new tunes from American Fangs, Audrey Horne (pictured) and Zodiac.
And we review and rate the latest releases from Grand Design and 220 Volt.
There’s new music from Hang The Bastard, Sick Of It All and Amulet.
And we check out The Pineapple Thief, Vampillia and White Empress.
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: Alt Rock
Remember the first time you heard Faith No More’s We Care A Lot? Or the moment White Trash dropped their dazzling debut? Or the day Dave Grohl finally unleashed the Foo Fighters?
Listening to American Fangs’ self-titled debut inspires the same sense of excitement, anticipation and belief that there really is a future for rock – whatever Gene Simmons says.
Feisty, frantic and full of life this a record that refuses to conform and an album that kicks some serious 21st century ass. The now familiar Pomona is pure class while Gimme Gimme and Pass It Along guarantee there’s no lazy mid-section lull.
It’s the kinda all killer, no filler alt rock classic our friends from across the Pond used to roll out with reassuring regularity. But right now American Fangs are in the minority when it comes to making music that stands apart from the bland norm.
British fans have had to wait for what seems like an eternity for this rousing record to drop. Now it’s here everything else seems a little dull by comparison. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Fangs For The Memories
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Stoner/Sludge Metal
They’ve have been doing the underground rounds for several years now, gaining a sizeable following in the process – but Londoners Hang The Bastard have now surely made a career changing step up with this opus.
Their second full length (and first for Century Media) sees the band unleash 11 tracks of downtuned, riff-worshipping, sludge-caked stoner metal…. And not since the mighty Iron Monkey crawled out of Nottingham in the 90s have a British band been able to make this style of music sound so nasty.
Much of that is down to the rasping throat of frontman Tomas Hubbard, whose vocals burn through tracks like Beyond The Pale or Hornfel like sulphuric acid.
Mists Of Albion (Sex In The Seventh Circle’s equivalent to Planet Caravan), provides some light relief, and shows HTB are capable of more than just full metal racket, but you’re quickly back into the fray with the album’s mighty, head battering title track.
Yet another great album from yet another great British band, 2014 is looking like a vintage year for the UK’s extreme scene. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Glorious Bastards
Sick Of It All are synonymous with New York hardcore. The quartet are revered across the globe for their incendiary live shows, punk rock ethics and near-30 year career of making tough, brutally honest and genuinely exciting music.
Last Act Of Defiance, the band’s eleventh full-length, is full of the muscular riffs and revolutionary spirit which have become their trademark over the last three decades. And as ever, vocalist Lou Koller is on hand to spit in the face of authority and raise a middle finger to oppression – an attitude encapsulated in the fire-starting anthem Never Back Down.
DNC, with its gang shouts and fist pumping chorus, sees the band embrace their Oi influences, and the quickfire Act Your Rage channels early, street-smart NYHC. They’re just two of many highlights on Last Act Of Defiance, and for a band who’ve been pumping out music for as long as SOIA have, it’s heartening to see that brothers Pete and Lou Koller, plus bassist Craig Setari and drummer Armand Majidi, have lost none of their songwriting suss.
Mosh inducing, politician baiting, riot starting hardcore at its best. Long live the kings. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Built To Last
The revival of traditional, low budget, sweat stained metal has been upon us for some time. And bands like London’s Amulet are carrying the torch for the New New Wave of British Heavy Metal.
If you’re a fan of Angel Witch, Maiden et al, you’ll surely like the sound of Heathen Steven and Nippy Blackford’s steel-plated retro riffs, and the charming Motörhead meets Diamond Head assault of Mark Of Evil or the galloping Trip Forever.
However, Amulet’s allure is somewhat dimmed by the weak vocal style of Jamie Elton, who is no Di’Anno or Bruce, and lyrics which could have come from a ‘metal songwriting for beginners’ handbook. Or perhaps that’s all part of Amulet’s ‘authentic’ gambit.
The First shouldn’t be the last by any means – these boys have talent – but this debut is more likely to make you turn to your old NWOBHM LPs, rather than embrace this new act. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5.5/10 Rough Diamond
Japan’s Vampillia, featuring Boredoms and Merzbow alumni among their number, have created an intensely spiritual work in Alchemic Heart, an album which needs your full attention from start to finish to feel its full effect.
And feel it you will, with Sea washing over you gently at first, then rising to an emotional climax – and then gently subsiding once more, with a simple piano motif accompanied by the words of Swans vocalist Jarboe.
The album’s second part, Land, is equally dramatic, a cascade of sonic textures underscored by soaring strings and boasting an almost operatic bombast in places.
Alchemic Heart is far removed from the kind of shimmering, atmospheric post-rock many readers will be familiar with, but if you’re happy to inhabit Vampillia’s bizarre headspace, you’ll find much reward here. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6.5/10 Beating Heart
Genre: Black/Symphonic Metal
White Empress are an unlikely band of brothers and sisters. Lead by former Cradle Of Filth axeman Paul Allender, they feature members of Coal Chamber, The Awakening, Damnation Angels and even a former Ugly Kid Joe drummer in their ranks.
Unsurprisingly, given Allender’s influence, the US-based act have much of CoF’s unholy , pitch black spirit running through their veins, as well as his former band’s love of epic bombast. And vocalist Mary Zimmer has added her formidable talents to the fray, giving songs like A Prisoner Unleashed a sense of Gothic grandeur.
What is surprising though, is that White Empress can just get down to business and rock out when the occasion calls for it, for instance during The Ecstatic and The Sorrow.
So for anyone who thinks Cradle of Filth have long since run their course, this sextet could be a welcome shot in the arm. And while Rise Of The Empress isn’t without its moments of filler, as a debut it’s an impressive statement of intent from Allender and his cohorts. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Rising Force
Genre: Hard Rock/Classic Rock
Only three songs in and Audrey Horne nail their colours firmly to the classic rock mast. Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne and Thin Lizzy are all reinvented within Wolf In My Heart, Holy Roller and Out Of This City but there’s no shame in paying homage to the genre’s greats.
These canny Norwegians deserve respect, not ridicule, for their marvelous reimagining of the 70s and 80s and their very best music remains original enough to draw in a new army of fans unaware of those gloriously decadent decades.
The perfect follow-up to last year’s RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Youngblood is a scorching celebration of molten riffs, sweet solos and singalong choruses. Pure Heavy isn’t always all that: the album’s lighter moments stand tall alongside those songs written with neck-aching head banging in mind.
How on earth Audrey Horne aren’t already a huge deal on the classic rock scene remains a mystery. Pure Heavy is pure gold. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Sound Your Horne
Genre: Progressive Rock
Reaching 10 studio albums is no mean feat, but that’s exactly what the boys for Somerset have done with the release of Magnolia. Over the last 15 years the band have produced plenty of variety within indie and prog, with each piece more polished and rounded than the last.
With Magnolia, the quartet have managed to produce an extremely natural piece of work but one that may not be the most easy listening record they have released.
While some may misinterpret this as a negative, this is perhaps their greatest feat, as they have produced an album that creates a sense of awareness and feeling.
This awareness is best highlighted in the album’s second track Alone At Sea, a five minute 22 second masterpiece that combines guitar wizardry with soothing, gripping vocals for a beautiful piece of progressive rock.
This is an album that will pass many by but those who are fortunate enough to pick it up and invest the time and attention it deserves will be extremely grateful. Adam Keys
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Mag-nificent
Genre: Hair Metal/Hard Rock
As their name attests, Grand Design don’t lack confidence and the band created as a mirror image of the 80s hair metal greats have posted a perfectly crafted follow-up to 2011’s Idolizer.
Pelle Saether’s sleazy, high-pitched delivery is more Stephen Pearcy than Joe Elliott but in every other respect the Swedes mimic Def Leppard down to every last detail.
The layered vocals on the chorus to 10 Outta 10 are straight from the Hysteria book of songwriting and if Grand Design have yet to tempt Mutt Lange then Thrill Of The Night benefits from a crisp, clear compelling production.
Of course all of this makes for one of the best records of the year with ballad When The Greatest Love Of All Kicks In a contender for poodle rock anthem of 2014.
Leppard are busily wrapping up the follow up to Songs From The Sparkle Lounge in readiness for a spring 2015 release. Until then this will do nicely. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Just Grand
Genre: Hair Metal/Hard Rock
For a decade in the 80s 220 Volt stood toe to toe with fellow countrymen Europe as purveyors of radio friendly, ready for MTV rotation, chorus-driven hard rock. But as Europe’s star rose ever higher, their fellow Swedes reached a commercial and creative peak with 1988’s Eye To Eye and faded fast.
More than 25 years down the line and 220 Volt are back with a brand new record that screams ‘unfinished business’. Still boasting riffmeister generals Thomas Drevin and Mats Karlsson at their heart the band has never sounded better and yet the Europe comparisons are still warranted: System Overload sounds uncannily like Riches To Rags or, indeed, any of Joey Tempest and co.’s more recent bluesier output.
But if you can still compete with one of the world’s greatest hard rock bands that’s no bad thing and Walking In Starlight is a shining example of why Scandinavia is awash with brilliant rock and metal records right now. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Walking Tall
Genre: Blues Rock/Stoner Rock
It’s less than a year since Zodiac’s RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 A Hiding Place hit the mark and if Sonic Child occasionally strays from that record’s bluesy roots then classic tunes like the Mark Knopfler-esque Swinging On The Run more than compensate for moments of questionable deviation.
The title track evokes memories of The Cult and perhaps this Sonic Child was borne out of the Sonic Temple. Who knows? But there’s no doubt vocalist Nick van Delft has that happy ability to ape many of rock’s most familiar frontmen (listen out for Bono in Holding On where you’ll also find a belting blues solo).
Right now Zodiac could and should be jostling for position with Free Fall, Blues Pills, Rival Sons, Black Star Riders et al. Blackberry Smoke would be proud to call Sad Song their own (van Delft even manages to channel his inner Chris Rea on a brilliantly bittersweet ballad) and there’s no doubt Zodiac have yet again captured the mood of the rock’s fastest-rising scene. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Child’s Play