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  STEVE GÖLDBY'S METAL CHRONICLES

CHRIS APPLETON
'Restless'
(Rock Sector Records)
Release Date: 2nd February 2015


steve goldby



chris appleton

Absolva got my Album Of The Year for 2014 with their second offering, 'Anthems To The Dead', and the announcement in November that founder and frontman Chris Appleton was to bring out an acoustic album early in 2015 came as a major surprise. If you're not aware of the Absolva story, this little bit of history will go some way towards explaining why that announcement was such a surprise.

Fury UK were formed in 2002 by brothers Chris and Luke Appleton and from 2007 released three albums, an EP and a DVD, building up a loyal and solid fanbase in the process. In 2012 after Fury UK completed a major tour supporting Iced Earth, Jon Schaffer made Luke an offer and he became the Iced Earth bass player. Fury UK was put on hiatus until such time as Luke was available again.

Chris and Fury UK drummer Martin McNee immediately formed Absolva and the band hit the ground running. Their debut album, 'Flames Of Justice', was released barely a month after the formation of the new band and they played an impressive array of gigs and festivals in what was then their infancy.

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A rather superb live album and DVD quickly followed and second studio album, the brilliant 'Athems To The Dead', was released less than two years after the band's formation. Absolva played a staggering amount of live gigs in the first two years of their existance and Chris and Luke also played as backing musicians for Blaze Bayley during 2014.

Luke was available because Iced Earth mainman Jon Schaffer unfortunately had to undergo surgery on a neck injury which put him off the road so in the latter part of 2014 Chris and Luke completed an eight week tour of Europe with Absolva, a six week European Tour with Blaze plus extra shows in November and a six date UK Tour with Absolva in December.

Absolva's third album is scheduled for a "sometime in 2015" release which means that amongst all that touring, writing, releasing and guesting, a break or a rest for Chris Appleton was, in true Heavy Metal style, a proposterous suggestion.

chris appleton
Chris Appleton

Chris said: "I know some people are asking, why a solo acoustic project? and it's in the title, 'Restless'. Whenever I come back from a tour I'm always waiting for the next one. Whenever I record an album I can't wait to record the next. I really would spend all my time on tour if I could, so I'm trying to make that happen!

"Basically, every year Absolva tends to have January and most of February off touring - and Blaze Bayley is over in Brazil this year - which also tends to lead to me going stir crazy at home or spending most of my time in the pub. So I said I was going to do something different this time.

"So I had some studio time available at Bart's in Belgium during the last Absolva European Tour, so with my days off I recorded this acoustic album 'Restless'.

"It's excellent to have Wizz Wizzard singing on it and even my brother Luke played some guitar and wrote a couple of the songs. Something different and I think you'll like it!"

chris appleton
Wizz Wizzard

Well we most definitely do like it. It's a class album containing nine quality songs that resonate and hit all the different emotions.

As I write, TBFM Radio has just announced 'I See Red' as number one in their Official chart, the first time an acoustic track has ever reached this position. This track is from Fury UK's third studio album, 'A Way Of Life', from 2010. Chris told me that the idea to record it acoustically came when he saw Wizz Wizzard perform it that way at Belgium's SOS Festival Acoustic.

Another song that was previously released in full band format is 'Only When Its Over', from the aformentioned 'Flames Of Justice' album. Both numbers work brilliantly well in acoustic and give a new dimension to the songs.

The only other previously released song on 'Restless' is a cover of Ozzy Osbourne's 'Mama I'm Comin' Home', the final track on the album. Once again, this works incredibly well on acoustic and brings a new life to a song previously known as a rocker.

The other six songs on the album, 'Seafarer', 'Crazyhead', 'No Tomorrow', 'How Will I Feel When You're Gone', 'Restless' and 'Wonders Of The World' are all brand new tracks making their recorded debuts on this album.

The album opens with 'Seafarer' which has a wonderful mystical element and a haunting story to tell but before you go any further, no need to take my word for it that this is a great album because you can take a listen to the first track right here. It sets the tone for the whole album.



Second track, 'Crazyhead', is a total contrast to the opener as it's a blues romp about a rock musician out causing chaos on some rare touring downtime. Chris loosely based this track on himself and it's a cracking listen, slightly reminiscent of the dangerous edge that Guns N' Roses managed to pull off with their 1986 acoustic offering 'Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide', only the songs are better on 'Restless'.

Next up is 'No Tomorrow' and here is the official video for that track.



The video is very representative of the evocative and thoughtful nature of the whole album and that instrumental interlude in the middle of this beautiful song is pretty damn close to perfection while 'How Will I Feel When You're Gone' is made of pure emotion, dark, haunting and provoking.

Title track 'Restless' is completely instrumental and combines a hammering riff that I would love to hear the band do, with a delicious harmony over the top that could be straight from one of Al Stewart's classic albums. As an instrumental this is simply a masterpiece.

'Wonders Of The World' has a piano intro that brings back memories of Cat Stevens at his most mystical height and is yet another thought provoking track with expertly worked lyrics. That's another thing that makes this album special; the lyrics are superbly written and I know that is not so important for every listener but I place high value on it so it deserves mentioning that this album has that ingredient.

Another thing that makes 'Restless' stand out - and I have touched on this in other reviews this year so far - is the fact that the album was recorded entirely on analogue desk and recorder with no digital whatsoever. Without a doubt this means the sound quality is better than average for this age and gives the album a special feel. It was definitely the right way to go.

chris appleton
Luke Appleton

So the album is up for pre-order right now from rocksector.com and Chris, Wizz and Luke have some tour dates booked for 'Restless' which are coming up very soon and are listed in full below. Chris has said that if this is a success they will do more.

But straight after the 'Restless' dates, it's back to Absolva business with a European Tour planned for March/April and the same for Blaze Bayley in May/June. Chris said: "A new setlist is being put together for 2015 which will include songs from 'Flames Of Justice' and 'Anthems To The Dead' but also some brand new songs which the band is currently working on. Writing has begun towards a third studio album in 2015 and we're very happy to say Luke will be co-writing which is a mouth-watering prospect."

So it's not long to wait until the band are out on the road again but in the meantime, 'Restless' does much more than fill the gap. It's a perfect showcase of the versatility of and an essential addition to the portfolio of one of Britain's best Metal talents and is well worthy of being added to your playlists.

The maestro himself gets the final word here: "Special thanks to Wizz Wizzard and Luke Appleton for performing on this with me, and big thanks to Bart Wyns for letting me use his studio and co-producing the album, and his wife Ela for feeding me and taking awesome photographs for the fan pack."

Here's the original version of 'I See Red', just in case you missed Fury UK in their heyday.



'Restless' on the road...
JAN
28 Whittles, Oldham, UK
29 Grand Central, Manchester, UK
30 Fox & Goose, Southport UK
31 Snooty Fox, Wakefield, UK
FEB
1 Hark To Towler, Tottington, UK
5 Manuscript, Oostende, BE
6 Blues Devils, Arras, FR
7 Cafe Elpee, Deinze, BE
8 Rockcafe Bone, Haarlem, NL

Tracklisting
1. Seafarer
2. Crazyhead
3. No Tomorrow
4. How Will I Feel When You're Gone
5. Restless
6. Only When It's Over (Absolva cover)
7. I See Red (Fury UK cover)
8. Wonders Of The World
9. Mama I'm Comin' Home (Ozzy Osbourne cover)


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23.1.15

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