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  BERNIE TORMÉ
'Blackheart'
(Independent)
Release Date: 2nd October 2015


Joe Geesin

joe geesin


bernie torme

Dublin born guitarist Tormé releases his latest solo album, 'Blackheart', following on nicely from last year's successful and acclaimed 'Flowers & Dirt', fronting the trend for crowed funded recording with aplomb.

Bernie's electric gypsy fire is influenced as much by Hendrix as it is by fellow Irish guitarists Gary Moore and Rory Gallagher and found fame initially with Gillan (fronted by Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan) and subsequently with Ozzy Osbourne, Desperado (featuring Dee Snider) and GMT. Tormé's punk-meets-Hendrix style is long been unique, touches of blues and punk and a lot of fire add a serious edge to classic rock. Bernie Tormé has never been anything short of absolutely blistering, on record and on stage.

Moving to London and playing in Scrapyard with ZZebra bassist John McCoy, he later formed his own band and recorded two tracks for the legendary 'Live At The Vortex' LP, before signing to Jet and recording several singles. With lack of label support he would then find success with Gillan, replacing original guitarist Steve Byrd, and forming the classic line-up of drummer Mick Underwood, bassist John McCoy and pianist Colin Towns alongside himself and Ian.

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Three albums (1979s 'Mr Universe', 1980s 'Glory Road' and 1981s 'Future Shock') found chart success and a string of hit of singles ('Trouble', 'No Laughing In Heaven', 'New Orleans' et al) saw many a TV appearance, Bernie's guitar adding a fiery eclectic edge. Leaving mid tour, he played live with Atomic Rooster and filled the recently killed in a plane crash Randy Rhodes gap with Ozzy Osbourne to complete the tour.

Bernie then recorded solo, as The Electric Gypsies, then formed Tormé featuring Girl/LA Guns vocalist Phil Lewis, as well as guesting on the Mammoth album (featuring John McCoy and Nicky Moore). He then joined Desperado with Twisted Sister's Dee Snider and Iron Maiden's Clive Burr, but the grunge bandwagon put paid to that project, their one album released some years later.

In the 90s Bernie released 'Demolition Ball', 'Wild Irish' and 1999s 'White Trash Guitar', his last solo album for 15 years.

During the 00s, Bernie recorded with GMT, featuring bassist McCoy (again) and drummer Robin Guy, and in keeping with the members' backgrounds, mixed classic rock with raw sleaze and punk.

Then 2014 saw the release of 'Flowers & Dirt', which received universal acclaim. The crowdfunded project was so successful he was able to donate some of the profits to charity.

Joining guitarist and vocalist Tormé are bassist Chris Heilman and drummer Ian Harris.

Opening track 'Golden Pig' features Bernie's trademark guitar, mixing riffs and solos; a solid mid paced number with ever-so-slightly muddy production. 1985 ('Keeper Of The Flame') musically returns to Tormé's mid 80s rock, a slower chunkier number with a huge slab of sleaze. There's a nod to the 70s (a hint of BOC in there) in 'On Fire', with Bernie able to switch between rhythm and a very blistering lead instantaneously and smoothly.

Add a bit of Hendrix feedback to Ritchie Blackmore for 'Better Days', there's an infectious groove on this one; equally a punky blend of sleaze and Rory Gallagher for 'Snake In The Garden'.

'Flow' is a slower track that is heavy, live sounding and with good production, and 'Into The Sun' is smoother, a bit more melodic, but the intense energy is bubbling under.

Back to the groove for the uptempo 'Pain Song', a rhythm that will get you nodding guaranteed.

Many of the tracks here nod to Bernie's roots, and 'Steady Roller Blues' is seriously that, with harmonic and slide guitar. A solid, heavy and chunky riff with some deft and intricate work, bit of sleaze to the vocals, this is a seriously stand out track.

'Miles To Babylon' is more acoustic, a touching track that is thought provoking both musically and lyrically, building nicely to some heavy moments.

The 12 track album closes with 'Party's Over', another bluesy track with harmonica and singer/songwriter feel (well, as Tormé does it).

Overall, more total brilliance from Bernie, who clearly has the energy and passion, so look out for the tour dates.

While totally smooth production would not suit Tormé's work, the only issue with this album is occasional muddiness.

That aside, if you like Hendrix Punk with a touch of blues to your Classic British Metal, then this really is the business.

Tour Dates

22nd Oct – The Octagon, Keighley
23rd Oct – South Beach Hotel, Troon
24th Oct – Bannermans, Edinburgh
28th Oct – Cheese & Grain, Frome
30th Oct – Institute, Birmingham
31st Oct – The Borderline, London
7th Nov – The Wheatsheaf, Oxford
11th Nov – The Cluny, Newcastle
12th Nov – Arts Club, Liverpool
14th Nov – Prince Albert, Brighton


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