There’s the brand new album from Fearless Vampire Killers (pictured) and the return of US rockers Flyleaf.
We check out the latest offering from Cavalera Conspiracy and cast a critical eye over Guns N Roses’ brand new live release.
There’s new music from Mysticum, Vesania, Atriarch and Unearth.
Plus we check out Live’s latest.
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/Prog Rock
Few new acts play with the same self-confidence, ambition, conviction and disregard for convention as Fearless Vampire Killers. Increasingly popular with alternative metal’s teen market and yet capable of bridging rock’s generation gap theirs is a sound that screams maturity as much as the exuberance of youth.
The challenge in 2014 is to ensure Unbreakable Hearts is heard by as wide an audience as possible, to explode the lazy notion that FVK are the British answer to Black Veil Brides and to elicit feedback from fans of Queen, Muse, Pink Floyd et al.
Such is the songwriting prowess underpinning FVK’s best work that it’s far from patronising to suggest their finer moments will be lost on those under the age of 25. Many of Unbreakable Heart’s most compelling highlights belong to a bygone era of classic progressive rock and those schooled on the genre’s more expansive releases will find much to admire here.
There’s pop-fuelled melody, dual vocal dexterity and some of the fiercest riffs you’ll hear all year – welding together another deep and meaningful lyrical concept. Cerebral stuff. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Unbreakable Resolve
BEST OF THE REST
Atriarch inhabit a dark world, where the lines between goth, post-punk and extreme metal are blurred, and horror lurks down every alleyway.
The band’s influences seem myriad, from black metal and Neurosis-like sludge, to The Sisters Of Mercy and The Birthday Party. It’s an intriguing mix, and the Portland outfit are a unique proposition as a result: listen to the death rock of opener Entropy and you could be in a mid-80s Goth club, switch to closer Veil and it’s doom central, with monolithic slabs of downtuned guitar dragging you into hell. Billy Anderson’s production, meanwhile, gives Atriarch’s third full length a weight to match its gloomy vibe.
An Unending Pathway certainly ain’t pretty, but as a slice of metal noir, a hymn to urban decay, or a soundtrack to utter despair, it works on every level. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 A Dark Path
Genre: Symphonic Black/Death Metal
Featuring current and former members of Behemoth, Vader, Decapitated and Dimmu Borgir, it’s fair to say that Vesania have a decent pedigree. However, this is no flash in the pan side project: the Poland-based outfit, who are now on album number four, boast their own identity and a history going back to 1997.
Deus Ex Machina is a mixed bag – when Vesania put the pedal to the metal, and play to their strengths, their brand of symphonic extreme metal really hits home: Halflight is a dramatic opener, all blastbeats and sweeping synths, while Vortex is a double-kick driven monster of a tune, Daray’s drumming bordering on the inhuman. Innocence does the quintet few favours though, its creepy fairground keys and melodic moments sounding particularly twee, and Disgrace sounds weak compared to the album’s more powerful moments.
Still, if Dimmu’s Death Cult Armageddon holds a special place in your heart, then Vesania’s latest will provide a decent fix. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6.5/10 Symphony Of Destruction
Genre: Black Metal
Planet Satan may be a new album, but its release has been rumoured since the late 90s. Ever since Mysticum’s debut, The Streams Of Inferno, set the world ablaze with its unholy black metal/industrial collision way back in 1996, the follow-up has been on many a wish-list.
Now it’s finally here, can Mysticum’s second full-length live up to expectations? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. The Norwegians’ unhinged drum programming, underscoring a torrent of blazing BM riffs, pushes extreme metal to the outer limits: pump Fist Of Satan at maximum volume through your headphones, and your brain will soon be flowing out of your ears, likewise the relentless barrage of Cosmic Gun.
The opus is infected throughout by Mysticum’s unearthly, psychedelic overtones – opener LSD a prime example – and when Planet Satan finally stops spinning, and the menacing, ambient soundscape of Dissolve Into Impiety draws it to a close, you’ll feel like you’ve journeyed through a black hole.
Worth the wait, then? Hell yes. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Devil’s Work
They might not have the fanbase of Lamb Of God, Trivium or Machine Head, but Unearth have been steadily making a name for themselves in the wake of the noughties metalcore/New Wave Of American Heavy Metal explosion.
And unlike a few bands to have sprung from that scene, such as Bleeding Through and Chimaira, they’re still going strong: Watchers Of Rule bristles with intent, from hypercharged opener The Swarm to the punishing title track, which seals Unearth’s sixth opus with a smack to the head.
Guitarists Buz McGrath and Ken Susi’s axework is nothing short of incendiary, and it’s with sheer delight you’ll hear the pair blend brutal, downtuned riffs with complex leadwork on the likes of Lifetime In Ruins and Burial Lines.
Simply put, Watchers Of Rule brims with passion and unbridled metallic fury. There’s the odd dud (To The Ground lacks inspiration), however that doesn’t detract from a classy effort from the Boston boys… and an album which is begging to be heard live. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 They Rule
Genre: Hard Rock
Flyleaf’s popularity remains an enigma. As American hard rock goes their radio-friendly anthems are, at best, distinctly average and at worst reek of rank commercialism.
Of course there’s the Christian Rock angle – a stick used to beat Flyleaf and their ilk at the expense of appraising their music. Regardless of their religious beliefs, this is a band that continues to punch above its weight.
Or perhaps it’s the weight of expectation – inevitable after the success of 2005’s platinum-selling self-titled debut – that sees Flyleaf stuck in a rut and going nowhere.
Upbeat lead single Set Me On Fire promises so much but Between The Stars is a galaxy away from the band’s innovative approach to rewriting metal’s rulebook almost a decade ago.
Sober Serenade says it all and even the eager refrain of new singer Kristen May can’t save this Don Gilmore-produced dud. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Fly By Night
Genre: Death/Thrash Metal
The Cavalera brothers are no strangers to brash, bludgeoning, foreboding metal and Pandemonium does what it says on the tin.
A cacophony of feral beats, fret-melting riffs and rabid vocals makes for a wholly shocking aural experience – something these boys specialise in.
Insurrection is a terrifying case in point with Marc Rizzo and Max Cavalera producing a guitar sound that can only be described as unearthly.
However, it’s Igor Cavalera’s innate sense of rhythm that ensures the latest CC record to run riot with the senses is founded on drumming that demands respect.
There’s nothing quite so striking as a death metal album delivered with the urgency and breakneck speed of a thrash metal opus and Pandemonium will appeal to fans of both genres. But CC have carved out their own niche in a congested scene and this is an unique as it is unhinged. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Cavalera-defining
Genre: Alt Rock
Having gone back to their roots, re-enlisting the guidance of their original producer, Jerry Harrison, Live has come back bigger than before. Following the release of Songs From The Black Mountain in 2006, the band went into hiatus and various critically acclaimed side projects ensued – leading fans to question whether the band would ever return.
Rounding up the troops in 2012, the band invited childhood friend, Chris Shinn to take centre stage for departing vocalist Ed Kowalczyk and what a revelation that move has proved to be.
Shinn’s vocals add an effortless alt vibe that complements Taylor’s riffs – offering a seamless transition but also allowing the band to explore untravelled avenues.
Shinn’s ability to mix up his vocals have added a diversity to the band that was previously missing, as they now possess a singer who can truly control a crowd purely on vocal range. This album is every rock fan’s dream with the versatility of hooking riffs, a tight knit rhythm section and effortless vocals making The Turn a real contender for one of the best albums of the year. Adam Keys
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Live Forever
It’s more than 20 years since Guns N Roses delivered a live document of their globally acclaimed back catalogue and for many the wait continues: until Axl buries the hatchet with Slash and brings back Duff McKagan full-time there will be no GnR for millions of disaffected fans.
Perhaps it’s time those naysayers moved on. The hundreds of thousands who witnessed the sprawling majesty that was the Chinese Democracy world tour were forced to admit that Axl had not only rediscovered his live mojo but finally assembled a bunch of hired hands worthy of his band’s famous name.
Appetite For Democracy is a triumphant statement of intent from the much-maligned Axl and deserves to be appraised as an acutely relevant piece of work by a musician who is hardly renowned for his productivity.
If some of the vocals are just a little ropey at least they prove there was no auto tuning disguising a singer with plenty to prove. And if the solos lack Slash’s soul then DJ Ashba and Bumblefoot do a more than decent impression of the world’s greatest guitarist.
Skip to CD two for cracking versions of Don’t Cry and Civil War – it’s just a shame The Seeker is shoehorned in before Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door and Nightrain recapture the sense of victory inside the Las Vegas Hard Rock Casino.
This is about as good as it gets for GnR these days. And that’s surely the point. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Appetite For More