Today we run the rule over the latest Foreigner (pictured) reboot and the return of Canadian melodic rockers Harem Scarem.
There’s new music from Yellowcard and Cloudkicker.
And we check out the latest releases from Pentacle and Lotus Thief and Morthra.
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: Melodic Rock
Harem Scarem are back with a first original studio album in six years and 13 begs only one question: why the long wait? Well, for a while at least, it looked like 2008’s Hope would be the final Harem Scarem record with the band at a creative crossroads and ready to call it a day. It’s taken the interim period – and the successful reissue of career-defining opus Mood Swings – to remind Harry Hess and co. just how good this band always was. And can still be.
This is classic Harem Scarem with the layered vocal melodies and twin guitars often reminiscent of 80s Leppard and yet channelling just enough originality to avoid criticism. Slap bang in the middle of 13 Hess unleashes a decisive hat-trick – Whatever It Takes, Saints And Sinners and All I Need confirm his band is back. In a big, big way.
Had the Toronto natives hailed from LA – or even London – and had they kicked off their career at the start of the 80s rather than the end of that halcyon decade then Harem Scarem would have been huge. Troubled Times‘ bridge could easily belong on Adrenalize or Leppard’s 2002 offering X and it’s testimony to Ontario’s finest that their talent for penning melodic rock masterpieces shows no sign of waning. Never Say Never actually says it all. At least where this Lazarus-like band is concerned. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Lucky 13
BEST OF THE REST
The rush to rewrite Foreigner’s history continues at pace with the band’s latest Kelly Hansen-fronted collection further proof that Lou Gramm ain’t returning to the fold anytime soon.
And if that grates with the purists then those who’ve witnessed the band live during the last decade won’t care a jot. Hansen has been breathing new life into the band’s old classics for some time now and on The Best Of 4 And More he’s in imperious form.
Opening up with a bullish rendition of Night Life and closing with 4’s singalong favourite Jukebox Hero this carefully considered set showcases the very best of a line-up that, as long as Mick Jones remains at its core, comfortably does justice to a brilliant band’s enduring back catalogue.
The ‘…And More’ suffix allows Foreigner to throw in live standards Hot Blooded, Feels Like The First Time and Cold As Ice – three tracks that didn’t feature on 4 but belong on just about every Foreigner retrospective. Hansen has done his time and he deserves to make these magical anthems his own. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 4midable
Genre: Post-Metal/Progressive Metal
Cloudkicker – aka Columbus native Ben Sharp – has been writing, recording and releasing his music (for free) since 2008. A somewhat mysterious figure, he’d never toured until this year, when, with LA’s Intronaut in tow as his rather formidable backing band, he hit stages across North America… and if this live album is anything to go by, you should have been there.
It’s packed with punchy, instrumental gems like We’re Going In, We’re Going Down and Seriosity, tracks which, despite their complex arrangements, still sound like they were great fun to play. You And Yours is both dramatic and hypnotic, Dysphoria is hard hitting, with crunching riffery, Push It Way Up! drifts into the stratosphere… the album has plenty of twists and turns but is connected throughout by the performers’ vibrant energy.
Cloudkicker always needed to get out more: we’re glad he eventually did. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Kicking Off
Genre: Space Rock/Metal
Svart Records have made a name for themselves this year by releasing some of 2014’s coolest albums, and Lotus Thief’s debut is right up there with the best of them. A psychedelic, riff-fuelled voyage across the astral plain, Rervm draws from Hawkwind’s space rock, plus black metal, doom and ambient, and is enthralling throughout… given the pedigree of Lotus Thief’s members (Botanist’s Bezaelith and Otrebor) you’d expect it to be.
With Lotus Thief’s trippy vibe, creepy album artwork and stated aim of resurrecting ancient stories, the duo could easily be lumped into the exploding ‘occult rock’ scene. However there’s far more to songs like Discere Credas and Miseras than a few recycled Sabbath riffs and a retro production – this San Francisco act are a unique proposition, and although they nod to rock’s past, they’re not chained to it.
A late contender for debut of the year? You bet. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Flower Power
Genre: Death Metal
Pentacle have been churning out nasty, barbed death metal ditties since 1989 and The Fifth Moon…Beyond And Back aims to package up at least some of the Dutchmen’s work. Featuring 1996’s The Fifth Moon mini album, plus the two track EP, Exalted Journey, and a host of rehearsal and demos from the early 90s, it’s a solid compilation for long-time fans… and for the uninitiated, a snapshot of Pentacle’s first few years.
We’ve only been furnished with the first CD (The Fifth Moon, plus Exalted Journey) so have no idea of the quality of the demo and rehearsal material, but The Fifth Moon’s tracks – especially Black At Heart and Adoring An Endless Dawn – are gutsy, thrashy affairs which boast plenty of charm: they eschew outright brutality for an approach more similar to Kreator or early Sepultura, and it works. Exalted Journey tops them though, veering from a catchy, mid-paced assault to doomy territory.
Pentacle are one of death metal’s lesser names but The Fifth Moon…Beyond And Back (well at least half of it) hints that the band could have been bigger players in the mid-90s. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Moon Rock
Genre: Death Metal
Resurrected from the depths by Vic Records, Desecrated Thoughts brings together Morthra’s first two demos, plus a two track promo and live material from the early 90s. The band never made it past demo stage and split up before recording their debut album for Osmose, but at one point, were one of Dutch death metal’s most promising acts.
There’s enough quality in their demos to suggest that Morthra’s full debut could have borne fruit – Magnification, for instance, is a stomping fearsome beast of a tune, Tale By The Antichrist a firestorm of lacerating riffs and neck snapping rhythms – but not quite enough to make Desecrated Thoughts an essential purchase for anyone other than DM fanatics.
That’s because when Morthra don’t hit the spot (The Labyrinth, for instance) they sound like a band still finding their feet in death metal… and the production (despite the material being remastered) sure ain’t pretty.
A collector’s item them, but no horde of buried treasure. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5.5/10 Morthra The Merrier
Genre: Alt Rock/Pop Punk
Nine studio albums in and the South Coast quartet look lost for ideas on an album that is split drastically in two halves. While the first half starts promisingly with tracks like Crash The Gates and Make Me So offering something to build towards, as Ryan Key’s vocals come across in a perfect pop punk singalong vibe. Even with this strong start though, there remains an underlying feeling that these tracks are just building towards something that never really gets going.
While the first four tracks have promise, the album really takes a nosedive the second One Bedroom kicks into life, with a horrible modern-day, High School Musical type vibe. From this point onwards, the band seem to lose any sense of direction and the album turns into a lethargic, poorly written soundtrack.
Yellowcard have never wasted time getting their songs out there and their efficient run of nine albums in 17 years proves this. But there is a real sense that they should take some time and work out where they’re going before releasing another shocker like this. Adam Keys
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Sail Rail