NEW RELEASES FROM DEVIENCE, AC ANGRY, SOLITUDE, PRETTY MAIDS AND MANY MORE 15th November 2016
Edition Four of You Spin Me Round. Most people who grew up in the 60s, 70s and 80s can remember the first record they ever bought but can people who grew up in this century remember?
The magic of buying a new album on the strength of a magazine review only, the feel of that 12" delight, the smell of the vinyl, reading every single word on the liner notes... that may all be long gone now but there is still more than enough great music out there and here's the best of the latest releases.
Listening to as many new albums as we do here at MetalTalk, it takes something really staggeringly good to grab our attention and earn a hit of the repeat button but this one leapt out of the speakers and bullied it's way into a contender's spot for 2016 Album Of The Year.
deVience are a London based five piece with a twin guitar assault courtesy of Donnie Roulstone and Jim O'Connor putting some serious gloss on some very punchy, brave, upbeat and hard, driving material. All thirteen tracks are superbly well written and presented with a kick and in a style that you'll find irresistable. The whole album has a sound that is fresh and it's very wild and sexy too.
This is the band of Giovanni Spano who offers a vocal style that you can't pin down and compare to any of his peers but he's just landed the part of Ledoux in 'Bat Out Of Hell - The Musical' and an endorsement by Meat Loaf himself says all you need to know about this rising star.
There's big variety on this album, the first of many from a band with a big future. 'Go Hard Or Go Home' and 'Living The Dream' will have you banging that head, 'Indifferent' and 'Easy' are power ballads of the very highest calibre with their own twist while 'Lady Of The Night' and 'SSC (Sweaty Sex And Cigarettes') have a conviction that is truly infectious.
This is just the begining for deVience and what an opening statement they have made. With Gio set to make a huge name for himself in the 'Bat...' musical and a belting first album in the can, it's time for the pretenders to move aside and make way for the real thing. The tide is about to turn...
PRETTY MAIDS: 'KINGMAKER'
Out Now (Frontiers Records)
Denmark Metal giants, Pretty Maids, have just delivered another slice of sonic bliss. They have trudged through the musical landscape for over thirty years and have stamped their imprint over fifteen albums. The newest one, 'Kingmaker', fuses hard and melodic rock with rich melody and hooks.
Ronnie Atkins continues to be an absolute force vocally. He's able to provide the grit and heaviness in a song like 'Sickening' and then scale it back into a harmonious soothing approach that's utilized in the ballad 'Last Beauty On Earth'. There are no shortages of powerhouse riffing thanks to Ken Hammer. The guitars sound huge and confrontational.
The epic opener, 'When God Took A Day Off', showcases how brilliant they are at blending varying dynamics within a song and still keeping a cohesive flow while the blazing title track is crushing yet capitalizes on a euphonious hook that sticks around long after the song has ended. 'Bull's Eye' rides the wave of an uncompromising melody interwoven into the songs aggressive structure.
They shift gears with 'Face The World' by adding a more vibrant uplifting approach and the harmonious chorus gives the album a legit AOR sing-along. 'Heavens Little Devil' also caters to a more melodic feel and keeps things a bit lighter and the dark and slumbering 'Humanize Me' has a haunting intro before being engulfed by the bruising chorus. The album is rounded out with more heavy hitters, 'Civilized Monsters' and 'King Of The Right Here And Now'.
'Kingmaker' is a flamboyant album full of songs that are sonically heavy and masterfully blended with euphoric melodies. With such a bevy of releases being released every week, great albums sometimes can slip through the cracks. I'm hoping this isn’t one of them because ‘Kingmaker’ demands to be heard.
ERIC JOHNSON: 'E.J.'
Out Now (Mascot)
In Metal circles, he's most widely known as one of the +1s that strung along with Satriani and Vai on one of their G3 circus tours. However Eric's lineage as a dextrous master of tone and melody traces way back to Austin city limits, where he vied for six-slinger status with the likes of SRV. This fine pedigree and a succession of diverse, but always compelling releases, has cemented both respect and reputation for this fine musician.
His latest album, simply titled 'E.J.' is his first completely unplugged album - but wait, it's not your average folky vegan fare, it's a scintillating meaty banquet of strummy goodness and percussive bite, kicked-off by a storming instrumental version of 'Mrs Robinson'.
'Once Upon A Time In Texas' recalls the technicolour acoustic landscapes once conjured by the great Michael Hedges and 'World Waiting For A Sunrise' is reminiscent of the hyper-kinetic ragtime style of Adrian Legg. With time, Eric's once reedy voice has acquired a silky richness particularly evident on 'Wrapped In A Cloud'. He also reveals his skill as a pianist throughout the album, with 'One Rainy Wish' perhaps the highlight, where flesh, ivory and wood are embodied in a Hendrix-like maelstrom of emotion.
EJ has just embarked on a two month tour of the US, so we're hoping for a return to Europe in 2017.
Released 18th November 2016 (Independent)
An album called 'Ouroboros', and based on the first eleven cards of the major arcana in tarot was always going to captivate me so this debut full length from Leeds-based Hieroglyph was eagerly clutched.
It's an interesting order, starting with card 0, The Fool, and then counting backwards from card 10, The Wheel, to card 1, The Magician. The track names give you a clue to the story, which at first seem counter-intuitive, for example associating the butterfly with The Emperor and mandragora with The Lovers, but on closer listening the story is pretty coherent and the intense journey is evident.
Twin vocal talents of Valentina Soricaro and Mark Howes provide polarity with their clean and growled performances, often to excellent effect. The band are not afraid to mix up tempos, and styles and there are some abrupt changes of direction. The adjacent tracks 'Sapphire (The Empress)' and 'Starlight (The High Priestess)' are the standouts of this complex set.
Musically it strays on to the technical/industrial side of progressive Metal, and there's some fascinating sequences here, although it can sound a bit disjointed in places due to trying to cram so much in. Still, it's a real beast of an album that packs a punch and all respect to Hieroglyph for pulling out all the stops for this debut.
SOLITUDE: 'REACH FOR THE SKY'
Released 25th November 2016 (Test Your Metal Records)
Japanese headbangesr Solitude have just signed to Test Your Metal Records for the North American release of 'Reach For The Sky' which was previously released in Japan last year via Spiritual Beast. It's their third album and follows 2009s 'Brave The Storm' and 2001s 'Virtual Image'.
This is an eight track offering featuring fist pounding anthems with meaning and melody and fans of Motörhead, Accept, Tank and Venom are sure to appreciate this. Akira Sugiuchi captures the vibe perfectly and adds the finishing touch with a voice reminiscent of Udo mixed with Lemmy but the influences are merely and no more than that.
There's no cheap imitations going on here, as you will find out as soon as the band hit full power with a mighty blast on opener 'Venom's Angel' and it gets even better with 'Reach For The Sky', the very seriously pounding 'You Got My Mind' and not to mention the intense riff heavy and thumping 'December'.
They won Tower Records and Shibuya's Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album Of The Year 2015 for the original release of 'Reach For The Sky' and you'll know why as soon as you hear it. Solitude have got big things happening Stateside with their new Canadian deal and they'll be more than welcome and sure to be a big success in the UK when hey eventually arrive here.
AC ANGRY: 'APPETITE FOR ERECTION'
Released 25th November 2016 (SPV/Steamhammer)
It may have been fictional, but there's no denying that Spinal Tap's 'Smell The Glove' must go down as one of the funniest and most memorable album titles ever. Well German shin kickers AC Angry can have a massive say in that now. Following 2013s 'Black Denim', these purveyors of anarchy unleash 'Appetite For Erection'. Yes, that's right, 'Appetite For Erection'.
So it's fairly obvious this ain't no 'Dark Side Of The Moon', probably more 'Completely Wrong Side Of The Tracks' but one thing is for certain, if it doesn't raise the rent down below, it will definitely get your ears standing to attention.
Tracks like '4TW', 'I Wanna Hurt Somebody' and the snarling title track all ignite the album like special brew Molotov cocktails. There's even time for a tender moment with the sensitively titled 'Son Of A Motherfucker's Son'.
But it's mayhem where this lot prevail. Album closer 'Testosterone' has all the attitude of a band who will gladly chew up your vitals and spit them back in your face. Low on intelligence and high on adolescent buffoonery, this is a rampaging filth fuelled record.
With lyrics such as "no way I'm coming back, get down and lick my sack", did you expect anything else? And they say the Germans are devoid of a sense of humour.
FURIA: 'Księżyc milczy luty'
Released 14th November 2016 (Pagan Records)
Here's something very, very different for you. 'Księżyc milczy luty' (The Moon Is Silent) is a dark, brooding and intensely atmospheric beast with hints of Bauhaus, early Celtic Frost and Witchfynde more than prevalent but you can't pin this album down or pigeonhole it as it stands unique in it's own right with it's Nosfertu-esque, bleak imagery more than capable of inducing nightmares.
The six tracks here make up Furia's fifth full-length album and all the songs contain the band's trademark 'Nekrofolk' sound (black Metal with elements of folk) and although Furia have traditionally based their themes around a misanthropic hatred, 'Księżyc milczy luty' focusses more on the morose side of gloomy bleakness.
'Tam jest tu' (There Is Here) is the most intense track here and it's got massive strength and depth and pervades a sense of death more weightily than The Grim Repaer with a super-sized scythe and a brand new cloak that he's just dying to show off.
Furia offer poetic themes influenced by the brutally astonishing beauty of their home province of Silesiahave and they've taken Polish black Metal to entirely new places with 'Księżyc milczy luty'. Anyone thinking black Metal may have lost its originality should listen to Furia.
LUCA TURILLI'S RHAPSODY: 'PROMETHEUS THE DOLBY ATMOS EXPERIENCE'
Released 9th December 2016 (Nuclear Blast)
A founder member of Rhapsody (now Rhapsody Of Fire), guitarist Luca Turilli helped shape operatic melodic power Metal, going his own way and in a more cinematic direction.
This package sees last year's 'Prometheus, Symphonia Ignis Divinus' remixed in Dolby Atmos, the first studio album to ever get this treatment. Assuming you have the setup to appreciate, the effect is mindblowing with every layer of guitar, orchestra and choir exploding your mind from quite literally every angle.
The live album, spread over two CDs, is equally wonderful. The filmscore take on symphonic Metal is by definition reliant on backing tracks to fit in all the layers, but as tracks like the intro 'Nova Genesis' show, the gothic, almost Gregorian, chanting and orchestration add so much atmosphere to the Metal.
The band's two albums feature heavily and the piano and orchestration match the twin guitar riffery and shred with aplomb, especially on tracks like 'Ascending To Infinity'. Tracks from his solo career feature too, but it is Rhapsody Of Fire tracks that stand out. The Lord Of The Rings Metal of 'Dawn Of Victory' and the uplifting 'Emerald Sword' get your head rocking.
LUCID FLY: 'BUILDING CASTLES IN AIR'
Released 11th November 2016 (Independent)
Despite having formed in 2001, alternative progressive rockers Lucid Fly are not exactly what you would call prolific. In their fifteen year existence, just three EP's is all their discography can boast, however 'quality over quantity' is a saying you can seriously throw in their direction. Those three releases, 'Adapting To Gravity' (2005), 'The Escape Stage' (2009) and last year's sublime 'Statis', have served as the perfect hors d'oeurve to their first full length album.
Self produced across various studios in Southern California and Oregon, it's clear from the punchy opener, 'Billowy And Broken', that they wanted you held captive right from the get go. That's mainly due to their brilliant front of house Nikki Layne, whose vocal prowess dominates each track with breathtaking ease. Her arresting delivery doesn't put a foot wrong with each note genuinely measured and executed perfectly.
Labelled with the ever complicated and overcrowded progressive tag, this lot can sling their hat upon a lot of genres. 'Circles Into Squares', 'Mascot' and 'Ribbons' are all typically dark and haunting, but are generously seasoned with Metal and gothic tones. Tracks like lead off single 'Visions Of Grandeur' and closer 'Paperthin' may come across to the average listener as run of the mill modern melodic Metal. But to the more eagle eared, they will no doubt immediately smack of songs that will inspire and ignite you.
Packed with a mix of brilliance and boldness, Lucid Fly have produced an album that's seeping with power and enchantment. Well worth the wait.
HEAVENS DECAY: 'THE GREAT VOID OF MYSTERY'
Released 12th December 2016 (Chaos Records)
Heavens Decay's debut album, 'The Great Void Of Mystery', is a punchy affair, full of bombast and force. From the opening bursts of 'Born In Fire' through the atmosphere-laden 'Where The Ravens Fly Free', the quickfire assault of 'Ritual Site' and the gnarly 'Reaper In Wait', this album is forged from the NWOBHM and sounds like a Metal band at their peak.
Julio Viterbo had a long and illustrious career as a Death Metal guitarist before deciding to reconnect with the Heavy Metal that enveloped him as a youth and gave meaning to his life and there are kicks, licks and riffs here that will raise more than your eyebrows.
Nick Hernandez is the vocalist and he's got the perfect voice for these great songs. You'll be hearing a lot more from Nick and from Heavens Decay too because there's mass fist-thumping anthems aplenty here that are executed with bravado and a rousing magnitude.
This is a band who have convinced with their debut release that they will absolutely slay it live and we want that opportunity to be presented to them right now. Feel the thunder of the guns in the endless fire.
Edition Five of You Spin Me Round here in a fortnight...