There’s the usual mixed bag with new music from Melissa Etheridge (pictured), Alpha Tiger and Night Demon.
We review and rate the latest offering from Marduk.
And there’s our verdict on Angelus Apatrida and Diablo Blvd.
Plus we check out the new EP from Pig Iron ahead of their full album release later this year.
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: Hard Rock
There’s no doubt Stephan Dietrich echoes a young Geoff Tate and the Queensryche comparisons are never more relevant than on stunning opener Lady Liberty. However, iDENTITY is aptly titled – charting Alpha Tiger’s spectacular evolution from purveyors of classy power metal into genuine hard rock heroes. This is their sound.
It’s perhaps unfair to bring the band that should never be named into the mix but there’s no escaping the fact that the German quintet sound every bit as exciting as Lostprophets at their creative and commercial peak. A glossy production showcases Dietrich’s impressive range and allows Alexander Backasch and Peter Langforth to engage in a series of engaging guitar duels.
We Won’t Take It Anymore and Revolution In Progress are fine songs in their own right but it feels as if both underpin the overriding theme of a band breaking free and breaking out. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 10/10 Easy Tiger
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Trad Metal
It requires a special band schooled in the dark arts of trad metal to retain a spot as warm-up act for Raven but it’s no surprise Night Demon have emerged as the go to guests for NWOBHM legends.
Their gutsy, frantic, Devil-referencing brand of brilliantly retro supercharged rock echoes classic Saxon, essential Diamond Head and, of course, early-years Maiden. Yet fans of Dio-era Sabbath will also find much to admire on this stunning debut with frontman Jarvis Leatherby quite capable of evoking the full range of metal heroes.
The most startling thing about Curse Of The Damned is that it features a single guitarist – Brent Woodward often appears to be doing the work of three men as he races through scorching riff after scorching riff.
Satan, Heavy Metal Heat and Livin’ Dangerous could be clichéd – if they didn’t rock quite so hard. Damned fine stuff. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Speed Demons
Genre: Black Metal
Since they erupted onto the black metal scene in the early 90s, Marduk have been one of the genre’s most consistent acts… and it’s no surprise that 13 albums in, they remain as uncompromising as ever.
Frontschwein (‘front pig’, a reference to soldiers as cannon fodder) sees the Swedes soundtrack the chaos of World War II, and unlike more experimental albums like Wormwood, it barely lets up for a second.
Afrika and the incredible Thousand Fold Death are blistering blast fests with plenty of hooks, while Frontschwein’s heavier, mid-paced moments – such as The Blond Beast and Nebelwerfer – demonstrate that Marduk can yield plenty of power at less frantic tempos too: of course, we already knew that, but it’s a point strongly reinforced here on tracks like the menacing Wartheland. Guitarist Morgan also turns in another masterclass in BM axework, his distinctive, ice cold chord progressions and searing tremolo picking bringing the quartet’s war stories to life.
Frontschwein, then, is a total onslaught – and in a world where many of BMs more revered 90s-born acts have split or splintered, it’s reassuring to hear Marduk still remain at the top of their game. Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Into Battle
Genre: Hard Rock/Groove Metal
Diablo Blvd? More like dead end street. This disastrous take on Shinedown-lite hard rock is mundane in the extreme and makes Alter Bridge look like the most exciting band on the planet.
Fair play to these bold Belgians for bagging a deal with the normally astute Nuclear Blast but albums like these must baffle genuinely talented bands working the pubs and clubs of Europe and never winning a break.
Follow The Deadlights is the plea on the unconvincing title track but we’d rather follow our gut instinct: giving this woeful record a wide berth is the sensible thing to do.
If only End Of Time was the truth. In fact there’s one more song to come – albeit the aptly titled Inhuman. The decision to commission, record and release this agonising album was exactly that. Don’t be tempted to take a trip down Diablo Blvd’s road to nowhere. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 3/10 Follow The Deadweights
Genre: Soft Rock/Blues Rock
Bravely breaking free from the constraints of her major label home to set up ME Records, multi-talented singer songwriter Melissa Etheridge may never have sounded better – or more like Tina Turner.
Opener I Won’t Be Alone is a defiant pop rock anthem rooted in the 80s (when the American first burst onto the scene) but it doesn’t sound dated. In fact Etheridge capitalises on a series of astute collaborations to ensure This Is M.E. comfortably fuses the past with an exciting, newly independent future.
The countrified Take My Number benefits from a neat chorus and simple riff – both of which allow one of America’s finest voices to soar. The stripped down A Little Bit Of Me is both heartfelt and bold – two terrific Etheridge traits writ large across This Is M.E..
Never able to emulate her Stateside success on this side of the Pond, it’s not too late to discover an artist who, at 53, is still approaching her prime. Think the female Rod Stewart (in a good way) and then some. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 All About M.E.
Genre: Thrash Metal /Heavy Metal
The Call, released in 2012, earned a richly deserved RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 as the rapidly evolving Angelus Apatrida managed to better the equally impressive Clockwork and maintain their remarkable progress.
Spain is hardly renowned as a hotbed of metal but these no-holds-barred riff-fueled bandits remain on course to shatter preconceptions and push the boundaries.
Hidden Evolution is, therefore, a serious contradiction of terms. AA are in no mood to conceal their talents or shroud their rapid transformation – the Death Angel-meets-Metallica fury underpinning First World Of Terror is fantastic.
Title track and set closer Hidden Evolution is more heavy rock than pure thrash but AA have never been restricted by genre. This completes a career-defining hat-trick of essential modern metal classics. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Hidden Depths
Genre: Biker Metal
Showcasing two tracks from forthcoming long player Sermons From The Church Of Blues Restitution and a brace of live gems from the band’s recent Download set at Donington, it’s time to welcome back everyone’s favourite purveyors of fine biker metal.
The EP’s title track and High As A Pine will both feature on the band’s full length debut for Off Yer Rocka Recordings (home to the Quireboys, Bonafide, Vargas Blues Band and more) and this brace of whisky soaked, petrol-fuelled foot stompers suggest another classic collection is incoming.
Captured live on Download’s acoustic stage last summer, Pig Iron have never sounded better than on the extended version of Golden – check out the finger picking guitar mayhem four-and-a-half minutes in! The new record can’t come soon enough. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Iron Will