NEW RELEASES FROM KIX, TYKETTO, JOAN OV ARC, KINGBREAKER AND MANY MORE 16th October 2016
Something old (Kee Marcello), something new (Kieran Robertson), something borrowed (Buzzard Canyon) and something blue (New England) - it's a right mixed bag of albums this time round from big 'name' bands, bands that you won't have heard of and some you may have forgotten about, spanning a plethora of genres within rock and Metal...
GRIM REAPER: 'WALKING IN THE SHADOWS'
Out Now (Dissonance)
Grim Reaper have a special place in the hearts of true British Metallers with a legacy that stretches back to a time when vinyl albums were something to be treasured and concert tickets akin to Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket. Mainman Steve Grimmett also nearly became the Iron Maiden singer when Bruce left in 1993, making the top five on their short list, and was also considered for Judas Priest after Rob Halford left and was also offered the Black Sabbath frontman position but was committed to Lionsheart at the time.
And it's very easy to see why Grimmett came so close to hitting the very top when you listen to 'Walking In The Shadows' as he's on the form of his life here, stretching his lungs to produce a truly powerful performance on some really top class tunes. If you like British Metal from the 80s onwards played straight, true, hard, fast, loud and proud, then just get this album. It's very, very impressive.
'Walking In The Shadows' is stuffed full of searing riffs, spellbinding harmonies and rousing choruses in a collection of twelve really great songs, all of which deserve a place on the opus. There's no 'filler' at all here, just solid, hard rockin' songs performed superbly well that you'll want to hear again and again.
It's Grim Reaper's first album since 1987s 'Rock You To Hell' and if it can get the exposure it deserves, Grimmett and his boys could be in for a rennaissance of sorts and his voice is sounding so good on 'Walking...', don't write off a fourth shot at fronting a major name in the future, although the common consensus here is that Grim Reaper is the way to go, as you'll discover when you hear this superb album. Reap it and weep.
NEW ENGLAND: 'LIVE AT THE REGENT THEATRE'
Released: 15th November 2016 (GB Music/King Records)
New England played their first gig together for thirty years in their hometown of Boston, Massachusetts on August 15th 2014 at the Regent Theatre in Arlington and now the live offering of that special night has arrived. It's titled 'Live At The Regent Theatre' and it's full of atmosphere and feeling.
'Seal It With A Kiss' starts off proceedings and it's got mystical qualities along with some great hooks, as has the whole album. The full New England live experience is captured nicely here as we are taken on a ride through all their popular tracks from back in the day, including their biggest hit, 'Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya'.
ELO-style harmonies blend effortlessly with a thumping rythym section that is driven by Gary Shea's pounding bass while John Fannon puts in an oustanding display on the vocals. He reverts to guitar only when Hirsh Gardener takes the mic for 'Holdin' Out On Me'. This and John's solo acoustic spot for 'Turn Out The Light' show the versatility of New England.
It's an immaculate performance from Jimmy Waldo on keyboards too and by the band as a whole and 'Live At The Regent Theatre' will appeal to all lovers of melodic, keyboard tinged 80s-style rock with hard and heavy basslines. Welcome back New England. It's good to see you again.
As a footnote, Hirsh Gardner, Jimmy Waldo and Gary Shea were all members of Vinny Vincent's Warrior, as detailed in full right here.
JOAN OV ARC: 'RIDE OF YOUR LIFE'
Released: Friday 11th November (Red Vixen Records)
JoanOvArc are a band that you'll only hear good things about and if you're looking for a new, young and energetic band, with catchy songs with a bit of attitude, then you need to look no further than this London all-female based quartet.
'White Trash' was an early favourite of mine with lead vocalist Sam Walker putting in a great performance whilst the track is peppered with guitar stabs, giving it a nice feel overall. The band have a quick through 'Live Rock N' Roll' which underlines everything that's good about Joan Ov Arc - a catchy guitar riff, memorable chorus, fast tempo and when you throw the astounding guitar solo into the mix, there's only one word to describe it - tremendous!
It's not all fast and frantic, though, as they show more of a bluesy side to their sound with 'Five Years'. The mean and moody bass intro gives way to a silky smooth guitar track and it's just a joy. Walker comes into her own here with another impeccable performance as she stretches her voice but the quality of the performance is maintained. Sure the tempo and volume picks up later in the song but the bottom line here is that the song is another potential showstopper.
With the band scheduled to play Hard Rock Hell in Wales next month, they're definitely on the 'To See' list.
'Ride of Your Life’ Tracklisting:
Ride Of Your Life
Dragon In the Sky
Seeds Of Summer
Live Rock N' Roll
KIX: 'CAN'T STOP THE SHOW: THE RETURN OF KIX'
Released: October 21st 2016 (Loud & Proud Records)
Hard rock royalty, Kix, are about to release in intimate look at the making of 2014s 'Rock Your Face Off'. It was the first release from the band in nearly twenty years and the 71-minute film allows guest stars to tell stories and share memories about Kix and why they are so special to them. Lzzy Hale, Nuno Bettencourt, Jeff LaBar, and Eddie Trunk are just a few of the guest stars that appear.
The DVD also features the band at bassist Mark Schenker’s studio and puts a microscope on the creative process of bringing a new album to life. A rare appearance by producer Taylor Rhodes provides a lot of insight into the project and how the band was able to keep the Kix sound despite Donnie Purnell, who had provided the bulk of their catalog, not being involved with the band anymore. The CD, 'Can't Stop The Show (Live)' offers live tracks recorded over the past three years.
Kix is an infectious musical entity that has only gotten better through the years. The DVD shows the energy and charisma of band that has truly honed their craft. I've had the pleasure of seeing these guys twice this year and I can speak from first hand experience, these guys are 100% rock'n'roll and give you everything they got.
This package gives you a rare inside look at the inner workings of the band and also some great live footage.
Released: 14th October 2016 (Frontiers)
US hard rockers Tyketto are the epitome of the hard rock hard luck stories of the early nineties. Their debut album, 'Don't Come Easy' (now regarded as a genre classic), combined with some high profile support slots had put them on the map and seemingly ready to be the next big thing and then Nirvana happened. In the space of a few months the US music scene completely changed and their chance was gone. They continued with various line-up changes (including original vocalist Danny Vaughn being replaced by a pre-Journey Steve Augeri) until the mid nineties and everyone moved on thinking that was that.
The quality of that debut was never forgotten by the hardcore audience though and singer Danny Vaughn kept the songs alive in his live sets as he pursued his solo career. This eventually resulted in the band reforming in 2004 ostensibly for one tour to celebrate the good old days. This of course turned into something more permanent and now we have 'Reach', the second album of brand new material since that reunion.
2012s comeback album 'Dig In Deep' was unconvincing but I am pleased to say that there is more this time around. While the album starts with a couple of standard 'let's do a big chorus' hard rock tunes it is when the band deviate a little from the safety of the AOR/hard rock fold that things really take off. 'Kick Like A Mule' has a wilder sub-Van Halen edge and 'Circle The Wagons' mixes a variety of different sounds gathered around a swinging, soaring chorus. 'Letting Go' is a ballad with real imagination to it's construction and 'Scream' is a song with a narrative feel to it like some of vocalist Vaughn's solo work.
The rest of the band are all very good of course but the magic ingredient here is the charismatic singer and even on songs which are a bit too formulaic, 'Sparks Will Fly' being an example, they always have those terrific voca chords to lean on.
Overall a pretty good album for twenty five years on and most of the Tyketto fan base will lap it up but that classic debut still hangs like a shadow over these songs and says you can do better. Maybe one day soon they will.
KING OF THE NORTH: 'GET OUT OF YOUR WORLD'
Out Now (Dirty Rock Records)
We premiered King Of The North's 'Burn' in late June (here) back in June and they were so good at Hard Rock Hell last year that we'd really been looking forward to their new release. Comprising of Australian duo Andrew Higgs (on guitar and vocals) and Steve Tyssen (drums/back up vocals), they have an electrifying live show that belies the fact there are only two of them onstage.
'Get Out of Your World' is their second full length album and it's just a phenomenal piece of work. A dozen songs and so many highlights that it's difficult to choose. Title track, 'Get Out of Your World', has the legs to turn into a great jam session live whilst 'Hard Wired For Hard Times' has a chunky guitar riff that's bound to get your feet tapping.
The winner here is 'Down To The Devil' which was a favourite since the first listen. Straight ahead heavy blues with a touch of menace about it and as the guitar builds up towards the end, it reminds of the riff from the classic Status Quo number 'Big Fat Mama'.
If you see this album, give it a listen and if the boys are touring near you, make the effort and go as you'll not be disappointed.
KINGBREAKER: 'TO THE FIRE'
Out Now (Independent)
Hailing from four different parts of the globe, London based Kingbreaker are fully loaded and ready to unleash their armoury on the Metal public with this debut offering.
Recorded under the tutelage of much respected Metal producer Jamie Dodd, the album wastes no time in grabbing you by the lugholes. The gun toting opener 'Outlaw' and lead off single 'Straitjacket' both ooze a barbaric authority with searing guitars and haunting vocals from the impressively commanding frontlady Spinky.
Although heavily influenced by powerhouses like Pantera, Monster Magnet and Black Label Society, they do pull their horns in and let off some classic and southern rock vibes with the sublime to To The Kill but primarily these folks live and breathe Metal and with tracks entitled 'Feast And Decay' and 'Bury The Witness', you know they're not singing songs about painting the picket fence or Mom's homemade apple pie.
Bursting with a bevy of caustic riffs and chilling choruses, 'To The Fire' is an outstanding debut and a must for any self respecting Metalhead.
BUZZARD CANYON: 'HELLFIRE AND WHISKEY’
Out Now (Salt Of The Earth Records)
Connecticut, USA, and the new album from five piece Buzzard Canyon. The band have played many a stoner and doom festival and the more uplifting edge of those genres shines through from the outset.
The vocals are split between male and female, a fuzz filled doom Metal album that has a groove (think Clutch), twin guitars reminiscent of Thin Lizzy and on the opening track, 'Highway Run', a distinct element of Orange Goblin.
The opening guitar line on 'Red Beards Massacre' could be straight from Black Sabbath circa 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' as there’s a Sabbath hint to the fuzz and doom throughout, albeit with a groove more than the slower side. That said, there's a Cathedral riff or two in the album to boot.
The tracks 'Louder Than God' and 'For The End' stand out with a groove that takes you skimming through the sludge without being stuck in the quagmire. There are some moments of sameness but definitely one to enjoy with a bottle of JD in the back of an open truck on a highway in the Mid West.
RUMMELSNUFF & ASBACH: 'RUMMELSNUFF & ASBACH'
Out Now (Out Of Line Music)
What's that old stereotype about Germans and humour? You know the one... well Rummelsnuff & Asbach have completely disproved it here because this album has got me absolutely in stitches with tears of laughter rolling down my face. The bottom line here is that 'Rummelsnuff & Asbach' is so bad, it's actually quite good.
It's not standard MetalTalk fare because it's synthesizer heavy and full of songs that are more suited to psyched-out fans of macabre sideshow comedy from a bygone era. The image it provokes is if Udo Dirkschneider and Doro Pesch went to pay a visit to some elderly, eccentric relatives then this would probably be the soundtrack.
The cover artwork gives you a taste of what to expect and there are plenty of German drinking songs, most notably 'Haferschleim' (gruel) which now appear to be obligatory for bands from the Fatherland these days but they do drop the odd English phrase in there, namely "fish and chips" and "let's drink our lager, let's drink our wine and live to the age of 99". Sound advice indeed.
Rummelsnuff is "the ancient bodybuilder with the rusty dumbbells" and sidekick Asbach is a "tenor baritone and offspring of a famous dynasty of German liquor distillers" and they say they are "taking wide strides towards perfection while cautiously avoiding it by any means". It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock'n'roll and the duo are making a good fist of the second part of their statement. Don't expect to see them land a major arena support slot any time in the near future. Or ever in fact. Bargain buckets never contained so much mirth.
DORJE: 'CENTRED AND ONE'
Released: 14th October 2016 (Independent)
Prog Metal may be an underground offshoot from the Metal world but judging by the number of bands around these days it is thriving. Underneath the higher profile acts such as Dream Theater and Threshold there is a bubbling cauldron full of bands keen to take the aggression of Metal and add it to highly skilled musicianship and see where they can take it. Dorje from Guildford are a case in point, forming in 2012 and working through from a debut to EP to this, which at under thirty minutes is really a mini album by modern standards.
Singer and guitarist Rob Chapman founded the band (who started out life as The Rob Chapman band) and his strong, deep vocal style provides the basis that Dorje's sound is woven around. This is a particularly strident and muscular kind of prog Metal. There are plenty of bits of light and shade and some beautifully subtle lead guitar at times from Rabea Massaad, 'To Survive' being a shining example.
Intensity is never far away though here and while there are plenty of time changes and complexities too the Guildford version of prog Metal seems like it's about strength and songs as much as showing off how many notes you can squeeze into a tune. There are eve echoes of Creed style melody in 'Zero' before they veer off in their own direction.
This a very accomplished set of songs from a band with a little something different about them. One to watch.
XOTH: 'INVASION OF THE TENTACUBE’
Released: 10th November 2016 (Independent)
Here's the debut album from black thrash four-piece Xoth, following their 2014 EP 'Hostile Terraforming'. Xoth hail from the Pacific North West and their sound is science fiction inspired throughout with their name coming from a binary star in the HP Lovecroft world of Cthulhu. It's as black laden as it is brimming with complex time signatures and astronomic shred.
Featuring members of Phalgeron, Lecherous Nocturne and the Century Media signed Warbringer, the technical black Metal side shines through from the opening track, 'Tentacles Of Terror', a brief build and crashing intro lead to some harsh growling vocals and blistering guitar work. The guitar work lights up the sky like fireworks. The intro to 'Antediluvian Annihilation', like some of the guitar work throughout, is almost too fast, ready to fall over the machine-gun drums, however the time changes introduce riffs and guitar work that stand out.
The riffage and time signature on 'Transcending The Energy Harvest' could almost be, in a black Metal way, progressive; there are elements here to be explored and extended. It'd be breakneckingly relentless. Some of the guitar work on the album ranges from symphonic to Doom, re-imagined at 78rpm, the likening to Absu and Obscura well noted.
Fast, black, blistering rhythms, the twin guitar clean and the vocals gravelly. A step aside from the mainstream and all the better for it.
VORGRUM: 'LAST DOMAIN'
Released: 30th September 2016 (Via Nocturna)
Argentinian Folk/Pagan Metallers Vorgrum's first full-length album. Last Domain', was actually previously self-released by the band back in 2015, and if you didn't catch this collection of twelve tracks first time round, it's highly recommended if you're into Korpiklaani, Finsterforst or Finntroll.
It's a nice piece of Folk Metal and it's quite accordion heavy giving it that Koorpiklaani vibe and it's generally an upbeat album with a mystical industrial edge. You get a bit of high fantasy on 'Last Domain', some trolls and of course, plenty of drinking and growler Vultrok, guitarist and accordion player Folter, bass player Iti, Patrick on vocals and keyboards and Santiago on the drums have welded together a very valid offering that should do well in Europe if promoted properly.
Have a listen to track eleven, 'Clockowrk Of Decadence', on Vorgrum's Bandcamp page and see if you can spot a nod of the hat to System Of A Down in the vocal.
My humour is wasted here. Vulkrom's music most definitely isn't.
KEE MARCELLO: 'SCALING UP'
Released 14th October 2016: (Frontiers Music)
Whatever happens in Kee Marcello’s career from now on, the Swedish guitarist can always boast he played on Europe’s finest album, 'Out Of This World' and since his departure in 2003 he has carved out a solo career that has just spawned it’s fourth album.
Not intending to break any new musical boundaries, Marcello once again sticks strictly to the tried and tested melodic rock formula. While the album at times flirts with banality with the lethargic 'Scandinavia' and 'Good Men Gone Bad', there are far more highs than lows amongst the twelve tunes.
Opener 'Black Hole Star' is a lofty nod to kingpins like Boston and Journey, neat and tidy melodies executed with military precision. The hip grinding 'On The Radio' and 'Fix Me' are injected with addictive doses of pure 80s airhead rock, and the cheeky 'Wild Child' complete, with a guest appearance from Whitesnake's keyboard tickler Michele Luppi, see's Marcello turn up his smutty button.
As ballads go, Marcello could give his old colleague Mr Tempest a run for his money. 'Finger On The Trigger' was probably born thirty years too late, but take a leap back in time and this beauty would be mounting the airwaves.
Not content with just caressing his axe for a living, Marcello has also made a name for himself in his homeland in competitive horse racing but on this evidence, I doubt he will be trading in his leathers for a permanent donning of the jodhpurs just yet.
KIERAN ROBERTSON: 'IN THE NAME OF VANITY'
Out Now (Mordhorst Music)
Kieran Robertson hails from Glasgow, Scotland and already has a large fan base across Europe as well as in his native land. Very much a 'rock star in the making', Robertson was influenced by Kiss, Rammstein, Marilyn Manson, Mötley Crüe and Gary Numan at an early age and knew he always wanted to have a career in music instead of a desk job or something equally mundane.
Mixed by Joe Graves (Asking Alexandria) and Euan Brown, 'In The Name of Vanity' is his debut album and it has a lot to offer. From the punch in the air splendour of 'This World' and the fast paced 'Addicted To This Life', Robertson shows he does hard rock and he does it very well. His voice is strong enough to carry these numbers off but at the same time there's much more to him and his sound.
There's also the calmer side to his nature as seen through the reflective 'My Everything' and the ubiquitous acoustic number, titled simply 'Forever' which sees a deeper tone to his voice.
A somewhat understated personality when not on stage and an electric live performer, this album is the ideal vehicle to launch his recording career as it shows all the aspects of him in less than a dozen tracks.
Edition Three of You Spin Me Round here in a fortnight...