And we’d be lying if we said we weren’t rather excited about the return of British blues rock royalty Thunder.
There’s a new EP from rising stars Skarlett Riot and another slice of polished hard rock from multi-million sellers Danko Jones (pictured).
We review and rate the latest sounds from Blind Guardian and Adrenaline Mob.
Plus we deliver our verdict on Hawk Eyes, Drugzilla, Necrowitch and Rwake.
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: Alternative Rock/Metal
The Leeds scene has spawned some truly exciting bands of late, but the city’s finest exports are surely now Hawk Eyes. For Everything Is Fine should be renamed ‘Everything Is Awesome,’ such is the album’s sparkling brilliance.
Quite simply, the quartet have birthed a monster of a record here, an opus which should – if there is any justice – see them soar up to Biffy Clyro’s heights. Why? Because every song, from the spiky, angular opener It’s A Trap to the post-punk meets grunge closer, TFF, balances hard-edged riffing with melodies which will you’ll be humming for weeks. Because the Yorkshiremen know how to give their music enough weight and aggression to hit home hard (I Never Lose and Permission are just two fine examples) while never straying too far from simple, hook-laden songwriting. Because as soon as their third full length draws to a close, you’ll need another fix.
A classic of contemporary rock, an inspiration to bands toiling away far from the capital, Everything Is Fine is everything you’d wish for in an album. A proper brew indeed…Richard Holmes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9.5/10 Spreading Their Wings
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Noise/Grindcore / Industrial
Slam Ireland’s apocalyptic noise terrorists Drugzilla into London cybergrind lunatics Skat Injector and the result is this nasty little split EP, a record made for a warehouse rave held under a rain of nuclear bombs.
Drugzilla’s sample laced contributions – Face The Feast Of Powder and Circle of Mania – are disturbing and disorientating, two bad trips which inspire fear and dread. Circle of Mania is the stronger of the two, ending with a chilling quote from John Carpenter’s sci-fi flick, They Live: it’s not for the faint hearted.
Skat Injector, meanwhile, up the tempo with their hyperspeed mechanical blasts, topped off with inhuman vocals which drip with menace… Orgasms Reaped Through Sadistic Design is as nightmarish as it sounds, and there’s a sense of barely restrained chaos throughout.
As a sampler of the two bands, Virulentia does a job, but it’s over very fast… which may be a mercy for anyone unaccustomed to this form of aural assault. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5.5/10 Viral Infection
Genre: Death/Black Metal
French extreme metal troupe Necrowretch, on the second full-length, eschew any notions of evolution and embrace a sound which embraces early death metal and at times, melodic Swedish BM. The influence of bands like Marduk, Dissection and Impaled Nazarene is clear on the excellent He Thrones On Thy Sins or the ferocious opener, Black Death Communion (an aptly named tune if ever there was one).
Old school metalheads will lap this up, and the trio can be commended for their single-minded approach to the black arts: guitarist/vocalist Vlad is at the heart of the vortex and his riffs, while occasionally derivative, crackle with dark energy.
Ultimately though, Necrowretch lack the songwriting nous possessed by the bands who have inspired With Serpents Scourge: too much of the album merges into one long, bombardment of blastbeats and bestial vocals, without leaving a lasting impression – and that’s a real shame, as you get the feeling this band could have plenty more to offer. Maybe next time…RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 6/10 Venomous
This is where it all began for Rwake, one of the world’s mightiest doom acts. Recorded as a demo in 1998, Xenoglossalgia: The Last Stage of Awareness has been revived from its slumber by Relapse and remastered by Brad Boatright – and credit to the label for giving it a new lease of life.
The album still boasts an organic, jam room sound which adds to its charm, but what’s most appealing is the incredible range of ideas pouring out of Rwake through the course of Xenoglossalgia: their experimental, psychedelic take on sludge makes for a fascinating listen, and unlike many bands of their ilk, the Little Rock outfit never resort to sub-Sabbath autopilot.
Plus, amongst the mind-warping vocals, synths and lead guitar wig-outs, there are some colossal, herculean riffs, such as the behemoth which kicks in after Or Die’s extended intro, as well as welcome nods to Southern sludge cousins like Eyehategod in songs like Nagarachi.
Sometimes, a great band’s early work can be embarrassing, full of youthful verve but lacking in real quality. In Rwake’s case though, it’s an essential listen. RH
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Opening Chapter
Genre: Blues Rock
It’s not over until the fat lady sings and, in the absence of a large female chanteuse, those masters of the comeback, Thunder, have only gone and recorded a first new album in seven years.
It’s not as if fans of the band will feel cheated that Wonder Days follows in the wake of a ‘farewell’ tour and the ‘final’ studio album Bang!. Thunder have been easing themselves into a full comeback since 2011 and this new music simply satisfies an insatiable appetite for all things Bowes and Morley. If the reformation never felt official then it does now.
What makes Wonder Days so special is that it’s band’s best work in more than two decades – fusing their bluesy roots with the chart-friendly rock that blitzed the charts in the early 90s.
If The Rain is a little wishy-washy where Thunder are concerned then it’s the one wrong turn on a record that goes all out to make a mockery of their enforced absence. British rock needs its best rock bands firing on all cylinders and this is a blast.
Broken is a ballad penned to give Love Walked In a run for its money and the lyrics on When The Music Played will strike a note with generations of misty-eyed rock fans the world over. ’I hold my vinyl like a new born child/memorising every word’ sings Bowes but there’s really no need to reinforce Thunder’s authenticity. These boys make music from the heart and deliver it with passion. Wonder Days indeed. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Days Of Our Lives
Genre: Symphonic Metal/Power Metal
Blind Guardian don’t believe in rushing things. Beyond The Red Mirror is the band’s third record in a decade and the biggest surprise is that it’s taken so long to do no more than repeat a sound that’s seriously starting to stagnate.
Five years separate this album and its predecessor – the RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 At The Edge Of Time – and mediocrity once again appears to be the limit of the Germans’ ambition as they enter their fourth decade.
Set closer Grand Parade sounds like Michael Ball starring in a metal musical but you’ve done well if you make it this far. Prior to Beyond The Red Mirror’s overblown nine-minute finale there’s a glut of distinctly average generic power metal with The Holy Grail and Twilight Of The Gods amongst the worst offenders.
Blind Guardian used to flavour their best material with a brilliantly retro taste but that was 15 years ago. In 2015 they’re prisoners of the past content with playing at being Queen’s heavier little brothers. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 5/10 Blind Devotion
Genre: Hard Rock
Canada’s hard rock heroes Danko Jones don’t know the meaning of quitting and one of the hardest working bands in the business continue to mature into serious contenders almost two decades down the road.
Fire Music follows three years after the band’s RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Rock N Roll Is Black N Blue and it’s another belting release from a trio yet to convince the UK that they’re worth a punt.
Danko’s trademark blend of Foos-meets-AC/DC post-rock power is write large across another assured set and Getting Into Drugs is typical of their desire to tread an unwavering path. ‘I like the Rolling Stones/I like the Wu-Tang Clan’ sings earnest frontman Danko Jones before hitting the quasi-controversial chorus – it’s a great song but unlikely to win the band any more Junos any time soon.
In fact it’s more than a decade since the Toronto boys gained the last of their four nominations for Canada’s equivalent of the Grammys. They might have fallen out of favour with the nation’s tastemakers but their ability to pen a punchy hard rock anthem is beyond question. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Fire In Their Bellies
Genre: Hard Rock
Serving up a heady brew of covers, reinterpreted tunes and an unreleased session track, this delicious offering from Adrenaline Mob is a real treat. Vocalist (and Symphony X frontman) Russell Allen’s pipes are laid bare on the acoustic numbers and he peaks on the reworked version All On The Line from the band’s 2012 debut Omerta.
But that’s just scratching the surface when it comes to the quality underpinning Dearly Departed from start to finish. And it’s the start and the finish where this quirky collection truly wins out.
Adrenaline Mob kick off with a sleazed-up version of the Pat Travers standard Snortin’ Whisky and wrap things up with a heavy metal blast of Queen’s Tie Your Mother Down.
Mike Orlando’s masterful fretwork reveals a guitar geek getting to live out his dreams and he takes his chance – whether playing Travers, Brian May, Tony Iommi or himself. And here’s the thing: Adrenaline Mob’s own material is more than a match for that of the bands they honour. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Mob Rule
Genre: Hard Rock
Is it too much of a stretch to describe Scunthorpe’s Skarlett Riot as the UK’s answer to Halestorm? We don’t think so.
This gutsy, driven, raucous EP pulls no punches as frontwoman Skarlett blasts through five tunes high on ambition and rock radio-ready.
Current single Rising sums things up perfectly where this spiky quartet is concerned – its mix of punk attitude and 80s posturing explaining why Skarlett Riot are on an upward curve.
Given the right exposure and more music in the same vein, the sky’s the limit. Rising might be the buzzword in 2015 but by next year this band could have risen. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 We Predict A Riot