NEW RELEASES FROM PAIN OF SALVATION, STEPHEN PEARCY, JACK RUSSELL, POWERWOLF AND MANY MORE...
15th January 2017
Edition Eight of You Spin Me Round and the first one of 2017. It's been a slow start to the year in terms of album releases and gigs but that is all about to change soon as we're expecting a truly rocking year.
Here's the best of the new albums from 2017 so far. The beginning.
Let's do this...
MARCELA BOVIO: 'UNPRECEDENTED - THE PIANO SESSIONS'
Released: 24th January 2017 (Independent)
The saying is that you should strike while the iron is hot and former Stream Of Passion vocalist Marcela Bovio obviously believes in that. Only a few months after the successful launch of her first solo album 'Unprecedented', which you can find out about here, she has followed it up with a reworking of the concept in 'Unprecedented - The Piano Sessions'.
Originally a project featuring the stellar vocals of this Mexican born singer backed by a string quartet, after some European dates where the songs were performed with piano and vocals only Ms Bovio and keyboard player Erik van Ittersum decided that the songs worked so well in that format they had to be recorded that way. One long, intense day in the studio later this album is the result.
All ten songs from the string quartet album are redone here very simply with only piano and vocal. Usually to be found tinkling the ivories for Dutch prog rockers Kingfisher Sky, van Ittersum is an accomplished player and his playing here is exquisite as are the arrangements made for the altered format. The vocals are beautiful, heartfelt and emotional as we have come to expect from this fiery latin songstress and for me personally I prefer these arrangements to the originals, mainly due to the fact that the format leaves even more space for that amazing set of vocal chords.
There are some extras here too, no doubt to pique the interest of those who have bought the original release. There is new song 'Hope Is Never Lost' which is simple and even sparse in arrangement yet haunting at the same time and another version of 'The One' but this time sung in Ms Bovio's native Spanish which always sounds evocative, even if like me you can't understand the language. In addition there are two covers, one of 'Pure Imagination' from the 1971 film 'Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory' and a version of the jazzy 1950s Nat King Cole hit 'Nature Boy' which is my favourite of the bonus tracks here.
This album is aimed squarely at the considerable fan base that Marcela Bovio has following her and I think every one of them aside from the most fervent Metal head will enjoy this release. Metal it is not but the voice of Stream Of Passion can sing anything she puts her mind to and this is an even better example of how she can sound when things are stripped right back than the string quartet version is. Resistance is futile. Just give in, relax and let that magical voice carry all your cares away.
JACK RUSSELL'S GREAT WHITE: 'HE SAW IT COMIN''
Released: 27th January 2017 (Frontiers Music)
Those who aren't au fait with rock music may think former Gloucestershire and England wicketkeeper Jack Russell has lost his marbles and released a concept album about a killer shark. Wrong, this is the Jack Russell who fronted American hard rockers Great White and whose hits such as 'Once Bitten,Twice Shy', 'House Of Broken Love' and 'Rock Me' became anthems of the 80s. Having fully recovered from cracking two vertebrae and a herniated disc, Russell returns with his own version of Great White.
This album will come as a welcome new years gift for Russell's fans. It's been six years since the bands inception, and you'd be forgiven for thinking that this release might not have happened given his health issues.
If you thought he was just going to recreate a version of his previous employers, think again. This is quite an eclectic bunch of compositions. 'She Moves Me' is a jazzy soul injected track that will surprise a few people. The funky stomp of 'Crazy' will have you swiveling your hips long after the song has finished, and the lazy blues swagger of 'Love Don't Live Here' beautifully smoulders throughout.
The record gets personal with 'My Addiction', a trippy, psychedelic track inspired by Russell's battles with his demons. He pays tribute to his wife on the moving 'Anything For You' and having nursed the singer back to health, it's no understatement to say she is the reason this album exists. And I suppose you could include Russell's parents in that too. When he was six years old his parents bought him The Beatles 'Help' album and his dreams of becoming a world famous archeologist quickly evaporated. The Fab Four's influence weighs in heavily on the title track 'He Saw It Comin''. Once again not vintage Russell by any means, but it's the sound of a man liberated both musically and personally.
But this guy is and will always be a rocker. The album's opener, 'Sign Of The Times', 'Spy V Spy' and the pure classic rock vibes of 'Blame It On The Night' are stone wall evidence that the Montebello native has found his mojo again. Jack Russell is back in the saddle.
POWERWOLF: 'BLESSED AND POSSESSED'
Released: 6th January 2017 (Napalm Records)
Kneel before the Metal mass and marvel at the might of Powerwolf! The band have unveiled the tour-edition re-release of their 2015 epic 'Blessed & Possessed', and it's available now in the UK. The 2-CD DigiPack has spanking new cover artwork and a bonus live CD of their headline performance at the Summer Breeze Festival in 2015.
Kicking off with 'Sanctified With Dynamite', the fifteen track CD includes essential ecclesiastical moments such as 'Amen & Attack', 'In The Name Of God', 'Blessed QAnd Possessed', the epic 'Armata Strogoi' complete with crowd chants, and the grand finale of ‘Lupus Dei’.
Proving the band sound just as good live as on record, and full of Metal fire and brimstone, this is a great addition for all fans of the band.
Powerwolf bring their religion to the masses at London's Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 3rd February 2017 with Epica. Read our full review of 'Blessed And Possessed' from 2015 here.
Released 3rd March 2017 (Independent)
Formed in Stoke-on-Trent back in August 2014, Sertraline wasted no time in getting down to business with the release of their debut single, 'Set The World Alight', that announced to the world that they were there and to take notice. Take notice people did – in their droves and their debut EP, 'Bury The Ghost', released in February 2015, was soon topping playlists on rock based radio stations around the country as well as earning them well earned column inches in magazines including, of course, MetalTalk.
Fast forward to January 2017 and the band (albeit minus a permanent drummer) are ready to release EP number two, 'Guilty', and let me tell you, this could be the vehicle to enable the band to skip further up a rung or two on the ladder to success. Five tracks are included with a running time of around twenty-one minutes and every one of these tracks deserves to be there on their own merits.
Title track 'Guilty' leads the way and showcases the clean vocals of Lizzie Parry set against the more intense male growling vocals, but both voices blend together seamlessly and, along with a killer guitar riff, put simply, this is Sertraline doing what they do best mixing the heavy elements of their sound with the subtler vocals to produce an exceptional number.
'Snakes' features a flawless vocals from Parry whilst the current single, 'Change Of Heart', gives a different feel with its stop-start intro before the track settles down into a solid enough number. The latter may not be a personal highlight for me, but the band obviously have enough faith in the track to make that the one that rock based radio stations are most likely to play first.
'Nyeevise' is far and away the fastest paced track here by some margin and it's the guitar riff that takes centre stage as it blasts out. The song does settle down into a more mid-paced number but it's the guitar work here that shines through. For me, though, it's very much a case of "leaving the best until last" with 'I Admit The Blame'. It's a truly epic song that should certainly make it into the band's live set list and deserves to remain there for sometime. A future classic Sertraline track? I certainly wouldn’t bet against it – fantastic stuff from start to finish.
MORS PRINCIPIUM EST: 'EMBERS OF A DYING WORLD'
Released: 10th February 2017 (AFM Records)
The sixth studio album from Mors Principium Est is a really good listen but why the band have been labelled as Melodic Death Metal is a mystery as this is more Euro power Metal with a touch of symphonic and operatic in there for good measure. Sure, there are growly DM style vocals courtesy of Ville Viljanen but it's too upbeat and tuneful to be classed as Death.
'Daeth Is The Beginning' is the absolute standout track here. It's in the epic category and it's built to last, with a haunting atmosphere along with female vocals at the beginning that captivate. It's fair to say that MPE have a unique sound and some great songs that deserve attention.
There's been a few line-up changes over the years but the addition of the UK's Andy Gillion as permanent songwriter/lead guitarist has made all the difference and if this line-up stays together, the band could finally achieve the far-reaching success they should have experienced years ago.
'Embers Of A Dying World' is dramatic, bold, ambitious and it works well, each track taking you on a separate journey but intertwining well to create a positive listening experience. Highly recoemmended, but it's definitely not Death Metal and it's not easy listening either. It's a complex affair that will work very well live and hat's off to MPE for not playing it safe.
THE MURDER OF MY SWEET: 'ECHOES OF THE AFTERMATH'
Released: 27th January 2017 (Frontiers Records)
Swedish cinematic Metallers The Murder Of My Sweet tend to like their music epic and grandiose. They proved that last time out with their third album 'Beth out Of Hell', a concept album which had all the sweeping majesty and soaring vocals needed to live up to that hint of Meat Loaf in the title.
Follow up, 'Echoes Of The Aftermath', sees them dialling things down a notch or two and applying that knack for big melodies and symphonic arrangements to some more straight ahead kind of rock tunes. They still sound like the band fans of the first three albums know and love but keeping things slightly simpler and more down to earth so to speak turns out to be really effective.
Straddling a line between AOR and symphonic Metal, songs like the really catchy title track, the keyboard dominated balladry of 'Loud As A Whisper' and the twisting, turning, building 'Inside Outside' are at the same time big in sound and scope yet accessible and memorable. The songs get time to breathe and singer Angelica Rylin really enjoys showing off how she can inhabit a song without the need to always go up to the top of her considerable range.
This may be these guys' best album yet. I have a feeling these songs are really going to grow on me when I get to spend more time with them. In an era when fans of melodic rock and AOR are finding many of the current bands formulaic and uninspiring it has taken a band coming at the basic principles of strong songs, great hooks and top notch singing and playing from a different angle to really produce the goods. Whatever genre you favour if it's big sounding rock with songs to remember you need this album is where you can find them. I think it's fair to say that The Murder Of My Sweet have killed it.
PAIN OF SALVATION: 'IN THE PASSING LIGHT OF DAY'
Released: 13th January 2017 (InsideOut Music)
It's been an interesting time in the house of Pain since the release of that savoury double dose of 'Road Salt' in 2011. With band leader Daniel laid Gildenlöw out with a serious illness for much of 2014, that year's acoustic 'Falling Home' release failed to fully satisfy the faithful followers of these seasoned Swedes.
Indeed, with the 20th anniversary of their fine debut, 'Entropia', approaching, many yearned for a sweeter return to the beautiful yet disturbing sonic panoramas of that album and subsequent classics such as the recently Re:visited, Re:mixed & Re:lived issue of 'Remedy Lane'.
I'm delighted to report that salvation is indeed at hand. Marked by the portentous release date of Friday the 13th, 'In The Passing Light Of Day' is the killer album we've been waiting for. Opening track, 'On A Tuesday', has all the perfect elements that encapsulate the unique sound of the band. Starting with a crunching entropian riff and seguing with remedy melody into staccato sick rhythm and rhyme as Daniel's stellar vocals stretch to the stratosphere.
And so the album unfolds, song-upon-song, revealing its dark and at times intense heart, yet it's an uplifting experience, full of dynamics, rich instrumentation, tricky rhythms and thought-provoking lyrics. It's made all the more visceral knowing that Daniel survived the lions' den and the flesh eating monster that almost saw him pass into the dark of night. Never more has the light of day been such a wonderful sight and had such a thrilling soundtrack.
MEMORIAM: 'THE HELLFIRE DEMOS'
Released: 20th January 2017 (Nuclear Blast Records)
Formed only a year ago, after the tragic death of Bolt Thrower drummer Martin 'Kiddie' Kearns, things have moved on swiftly for this self-proclaimed old school death Metal band. Several high profile gigs and festivals await them over the next few months and this two-song EP is their first offering in the build-up to a busy year.
'Drone Strike' is a wall of sound from the outset: frantic but solid riffing over a constant barrage of kit and there's very little let-up in this five minute monster. There are some pleasing atmospheric touches with the vocals and the chorus riff is mesmeric and I was wondering how demo-like this recording might sound but the fullness and sonic depth, if lacking at all, are well balanced by the vitality only a first draft can bring.
'Surrounded By Death' is more of the same but so instantly likeable. The drums lift this to a spectacular place in the double-time section and the riffs roll seamlessly from one direction to another as we hurtle dangerously through this whirlwind of a tune. This has even more power and verve than the first song.
The band are just beginning to announce details of their new album, 'For The Fallen' and this taster EP is currently available as a digital download and as 7" single on white, white & black splatter, green or clear vinyl and with 'Drone Strike' being an exclusive release, you'd better get collecting.
CHROME MOLLY: 'HOODOO VOODOO'
Released: 27th January 2017 (earMUSIC)
Chrome Molly looked like they were going to make it big in the mid to late 1980s, opening for Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne amongst many others, playing the legendary Marquee Club over twenty times and headlining CBGB in New York and it's easy to see why they almost hit the big time and easy to see why they didn't too.
The songs on 'Hoodoo Voodo' are instantly likeable with some superb riffs carrying top, top tunes and more than a few excellent guitar solos. They say this, their sixth studio album, is a tribute to the greats but the songs stand up on their own without being overshadowed by the influences. 'Can't Be Afraid Of The Dark' is a standout while 'Pillars Of Creation (Albion)' takes the Sabaton 'Metal Machine' approach of creating the lyrical content from the names of said influences. Nice touch but unoriginal.
The original idea was to create an album that conjured up the magic of listening to the great bands of the 80s: "We wanted to make an album that made us feel like we did in the 80s, one that you can turn up in the car and sing along and play air drums and guitar to," says vocalist Steve Hawkins and they've gone some way to achieving that but the whole thing is let down by Steve's vocal.
The Mollies have even achieved variety with songs like 'Now That Those Days Have Gone' containing big potential and just listen to that opening to 'Rock For You'. But the voice just does not cut it and spoils what would otherwise be one of the top picks of the month.
KINGFISHER SKY: 'TO TURN THE TABLES'
Released: 27th January 2017 (Independent)
What should you do to celebrate your tenth anniversary as a band? Well if you are Dutch prog rockers Kingfisher Sky of course you have a live anniversary show as they did in Zoetermeer recently. However prog rock is all about more so that's not enough, there has to be a new ten minute epic song as well and that is exactly what we have in 'To Turn The Tables'.
It's been more than two years since the release of 'Arms Of Morpheus', the band's third album and one which I thought showed just how much they had matured since their 'Hallway Of dreams' debut in 2007. This release may just be limited to one song but what a song. There are so many ideas packed in to the ten minute running time here that it's difficult to keep up. The full gamut of styles that Kingfisher Sky have in their locker are here, folky passages, jazzy passages, complex progressive twists and turns, the occasional crushing riff,it's like a band history squeezed into one song.
The playing is superb as we've come to expect from these guys, especially Edo van der Kolk's smooth soloing style, some superlative keyboard skills from Eric van Ittersum and Ivar de Graaf's drums which keep all those complex twists and turns in control with deceptive ease. Over the top of all that you get the shimmering, shining vocals of Judith Rijnveld who just gets better every time I hear her. The most important thing though is that the ten minutes of ideas and talent may be complex but it works as a song, a really impressive memorable piece of music which when it finishes makes you want to immediately press play again. Ten minutes just isn't enough in the end.
This is an excellent, exciting new piece of music from a band who, in their ten years have grown and matured and who have a real kind of weight to their work now, a gravitas and a confidence which really grabs your attention. I love this song but I am frustrated that there's not an album along with it. Time for album number four please guys; anytime this year will do!
SILENT KNIGHT: 'THE ANGEL REBORN'
Released: 20th January 2017 (Independent)
Formed in 2009 and hailing from Perth, Western Australia, Silent Knight are a power Metal quartet with two full length albums, 'Masterplan' and 'Conquer & Command' and an EP, 'Power Metal Supreme', to their name so far. 'The Angel Reborn' is their second EP, and it serves more of a stop-gap for the band whilst they work out their third full length album.
Spanning seven tracks with a combined running time of just under forty minutes, this EP gives a really good taste of the band if you're a new listener. Four live tracks, an acoustic track, a full on electric number and a cover song all show that this band have confidence in their own material and also the skills to produce a high quality product.
Studio track 'When The Fallen Angel Flies' is a good solid start with the guitar riff leading the way before the drums and the lead guitar riff take hold, and the track really takes off. There’s a catchy chorus in there too, whilst frontman Jesse Onur Oz's soaring vocal performance is helped by the merest hint of backing vocals. 'The Ravens Return' appears here in two forms, one acoustic and a live version, with the former proving this band certainly have the skill set to pull off these tracks acoustically and this is a fine example. The guitar flourishes are great (and not easy either), whilst Oz gives a more sympathetic performance.
Of the three live tracks, 'Conquer & Command' has an Iron Maiden sounding riff driving it on whilst giving Oz a chance to really stretch his voice before the guitar solo takes centre stage. All the live tracks are missing one key element – a bit of audience noise through the tracks not just at the beginning and end, but it’s a minor point and these live documents certainly show a powerful performance overall.
The final track is a cover of Megadeth's 'Holy Wars...' – never an easy song to cover, but these guys absolutely nail it. From the note perfect guitars and drums to the near Dave Mustaine soundalike vocals, you'd be pretty hard pushed to spot the original and the cover. All in all it's a very interesting and enlightening EP from a very skilled outfit.
STEPHEN PEARCY: 'SMASH'
Released: 27th January 2017 (Frontiers Music)
With the use of the Ratt name now snapped from the mits of drummer Bobby Blotzer, 2017 is looking like a great year for fans of the Metal glamsters. Not only is a reunion tour in the pipeline but to whet the appetite, their frontman Stephen Pearcy has now released his fourth album.
It may be the case that the recent legal fun and games acted as inspiration in writing this album but one thing is for certain; Pearcy has definitely grown a bigger pair, and is hell bent on showing them off. The opening couple of tracks, 'I Know I'm Crazy' and 'Ten Miles Wide' don't stray too far into foreign waters musically and would fit on any Ratt record but they're unleashed like a man reborn, refuelled and looking for trouble.
It's fair to say the vast majority of the purest of Led Zeppelin fans would never admit to liking anything whatsoever to do with Ratt or music of that ilk. Well weld a big pair of headphones to their lugholes and whack 'Shut Down Baby' up to eleven and watch them pathetically trying to hide their approval. Erik Ferentinos Page-esque performance is exceptional and while Pearcy doesn't try to ape Mr Plant, his influence is prominent.
The snarling 'Dead Roses' introduces itself with a middle fingered roar of 'Motherfucker' and sees Pearcy at his menacing best throughout. The innuendo drenched 'Lollipop' may smack of a vintage Van Halen in parts, but Pearcy's cock of the walk vocal makes it his own. Barring dodgy moments like 'What Do Ya Think' and 'Passion Infinity', the album is a retro packed orgy of sleaze injected hard rock. And in recruiting Beau Hill, the man who produced the classic Ratt albums, to mix and master, humdinger's 'Hit Me With A Bullet', 'Rain' and 'Jamie' have reaped the fruits of his midas touch.
Stephen Pearcy was one of the most recognizable faces of the 80s hair Metal genre and this album is a full blooded reminder that he can still produce songs that can dine at the same table of his most celebrated works. On this form Pearcy has come to the boil, and is sounding shit hot.
Edition Nine of You Spin Me Round here in a fortnight...
ALL EDITIONS OF YOU SPIN ME ROUND
15th January 2017: Pain Of Salvation, Stephen Pearcy, Jack Russell, Powerwolf and many more...
31st December 2016: Damaj, Mercy Isle, Krampus, Wretched Soul...
18th December 2016: Alice Cooper, Beyond The Black, Rush, Magnum and many more...
28th November 2016: Graham Bonnet, Civil War, The Doomsday Kingdon, Departed and many more...
15th November 2016: deVience, AC Angry, Solitude, Pretty Maids and many more...
30th October 2016: Testament, Sonata Arctica, Drescher, The Answer and many more...
16th October 2016: Kix, Tyketto, Joan Ov Arc, Kingbreaker and many more...
2nd October 2016: Twisted Sister, Extreme, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Pain, Raveneye and many more...
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