And with Christmas on the horizon there’s still time to find that last-gasp gift fro the long haired, leather-clad head banger in your life.
This week we check out new music by The Bosshoss (pictured) and a bulldozing reissue courtesy of Battleaxe.
We review and rate the latest split release from RAM and Portrait.
And we deliver our verdict on Hateful Abandon and Witherscape.
Look out for a review of 2014’s rock and metal highlights starting later this week…
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
Genre: Hard Rock/Country/Blues
Those who witnessed The Bosshoss in all of their faux country finery at Download this summer won’t be surprised to hear that God Loves Cowboys is a glorious shot at success from a band that defies categorisation and revels in causing musical mayhem.
This amalgamation of the Germans’ best material to date is aimed fairly and squarely at a UK market yet to get to grips with an often unfathomable mix of Southern rock, country and heavy blues. And it’s a raucous record from start to finish – no wonder The Bosshoss were handpicked to open up for Motorhead a few weeks back.
If originality isn’t the band’s forte then putting a new slant on some old styles is where they excel. Opener Bullpower, the superb title track and Skynyrd-esque Don’t Gimme That will bring a smile to the face of the most grizzled cynic as central Europe’s answer to 38 Special lay every last card on the table.
Part of the band’s obvious charm live is their penchant for filling the stage with horn sections, dancers and anyone else who happens to be looking for trouble in the wings. If an incendiary live show doesn’t quite come across here then there’s still more than enough to endear The Bosshoss to rockers the world over. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Bossing It
BEST OF THE REST
Let’s face it, this split album is about two bands having a whole lot of fret scorching, head banging fun. These Swedish acts are at the vanguard of trad metal’s revival and combining the duo’s talents on one opus makes perfect sense.
RAM’s cover of Kiss classic Creatures Of The Night is triumphant, Portrait’s version of Exciter’s Aggressor is speed metal heaven… and you can imagine the banter exchanged while performing each others’ work too (RAM take on Portrait’s Welcome To My Funeral, Portrait deliver a scorching take on RAM’s Blessed To Be Cursed).
Meanwhile, of the two original tracks on offer, it’s Portrait’s riff fest, Martial Lead, which takes the honours over RAM’s exhilarating Savage Machine.
Hugely enjoyable and a reminder of what heavy metal’s all about, Under Command is an inspired release. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Dynamic Duo
Genre: Metal/Progressive Rock
Featuring multi-instrumentalist and producer Dan Swanö (of Bloodbath, Nightingale and Edge of Sanity fame) and guitarist/bassist Ragnar Widerberg, Witherscape is a homage to trad metal and prog rock. Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate and even Rush make their presence felt in the duo’s grandiose music, and when their work hits home – this EP’s title track for instance – you can’t fail to be swept along.
Fans of Swanö’s death metal output may cringe at the cheesy A World Without Heroes, but anyone who stockpiles denim and leather in their wardrobe will surely appreciate the fist-pumping power of Defenders Of Creation or Out In The Cold.
Plus, there’s always the Swedes’ excellent musicianship to marvel at, even if Witherscape’s overblown ditties get a bit much at times…
Not an essential purchase, The New Tomorrow is nevertheless a nice little stopgap before a new full length album appears. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Tomorrow’s Dream
Genre: Post Punk
This is an album which could only be made in Britain. Conjuring up images of bleak, urban landscapes, and brimming with tension, Liars/Bastards is Blighty’s dark underbelly brought to life. And then there are the influences of Killing Joke and Joy Division – two of the UK’s most important post punk bands – which make their presence felt too. Culprit reeks of Jaz Coleman and his cohorts for instance, while the incredible December – the album’s sparkling closer – is a song Ian Curtis would have been proud of.
However, Liars/Bastards is no ‘Joy Joke’ pastiche. Far from it, in fact. Crust punk, industrial and krautrock all go into the mix to create sole member Vice Martyr’s dystopian musical vision. And from the opening sample, culled from 1984 (“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever”) to the dying embers of December, you know that Hateful Abandon is an extremely serious proposition.
Spawned in Bristol but resonating with the whole nation, Liars/Bastards needs to be heard. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Bastard Offspring
Genre: Trad Metal
Sunderland’s position on the NWOBHM map was secured when Battleaxe followed up their bullish debut Burn This Town with the equally punchy – yet surprisingly polished – Power From The Universe.
If the achingly catchy Movin’ Metal Rock and AC/DC meets early Leppard License To Rock veer dangerously close to Spinal Tap territory then Twisted Sister would make a healthy living out of similarly clichéd fare for the next decade.
And let’s face it – Battleaxe always had a knack for knocking out bona fide anthems made for frenzied festival crowds and beered up club goers alike before their unexpected mid-80s implosion.
Latest release Heavy Metal Sanctuary proves they’re not done yet but it’s no patch on the record that represents a band in its creative prime.
Everything about Power From The Universe screams passion, focus and burning ambition but only Dave King and co. really know where it all went wrong for a quartet that once sounded so right. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Battle Hardened