Archive for the ‘Albums’ Category

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Gwar – The Bloody Pit Of Horror

November 22, 2010

As you can probably see, I’ve been on a bit of melodic stint lately. Roughly since…2001, so I thought it’s about high time we shook things up a bit with everyone’s favourite B-movie extras Gwar, and their new record. Catching these guy at Bloodstock was…enlightening, certainly with thoughts of “Is that…yes, yes that’s Hitler and he’s…he’s ejaculating green into the crowd. Well, the members of the yacht club won’t stand for that!”

While a large part of Gwar’s live show is the shock factor of the stage antics, and the admittedly great costumes and personas, it’s significantly harder to put that across on record. The album begins with the four part title track, a violent fusion of thrash, early hardcore and all the low budget horror violence a man could wish for. Therein is the essence of Gwar, there are no giant memorable riffs that pull a song out from the rest, but the throaty shouts of songs like Tick-Tits and the question “What could be better than ticks on your tits?”.  I’ll give it to them, Gwar a very crude, but very funny band. Without lying on the outright clinical horror of death metal, although Litany Of The Slain might just be the one semi-serious song on the album.

While I wouldn’t exactly call Gwar a singalong band, choruses that are shouts of “Tick-Tits!” and/or “Genocide!” are annoyingly infectious the extent you wonder if the band haven’t put them in just to piss you off. Regardless, the few moments of melodic hook are lost in a thrash maelstrom who’s main focus is often naught but unbridled malevolence toward the listener.

I have a feeling if you own a Gwar album, you pretty much own them all. Despite the juvenile bristling energy leaping off TBPoH, it’s true that Gwar have honed their sound to an art. If, the last time someone offered you a hug, you punched them in the dick, I’d certainly recommend it, you angry angry badger.

6ish/10.

Twaddlefish

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Michael Monroe – Another Night In The Sun/Live In Helsinki

November 12, 2010

Monroe has been fronting Hanoi Rocks since it’s inception, and has been the driving force behind their 2002 reunion with the killer 12 Shots On The Rocks.  ANITS is live from Helsinki and features Ginger from The Wildhearts on guitar and Sami Yaffa, a previous H-Rocker, on bass.

And if you do like Hanoi Rocks, you’ll be very happy, as a fair part of the set list is made up of their material. What you have on offer is a nice helping of sleazy glam rock from the early 1980s, with anthems like Back To Mystery City and Malibu Beach Nightmare. I really dislike reviewing live albums, because by and large you comment on the actual performance rather than the actual material, aside from setlist objections. The playing is perfectly good, Monroe sounds as good as he did back ten years ago, and the band sound exactly the kind of thing you’d go to a sweaty, dark shithole of a club to go and see.

ANITS oozes sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, all of which Monroe has had plenty of in his career. While his solo career will never achieve the dream of mega-stardom he’s always wanted, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a belter of hard rock band playing dirty blues like Dead, Jail or Rock N’ Roll.

6/10

Twaddlefish

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Revolution Renaissance – Trinity

October 19, 2010

And the award for most unoriginal record goes too… well you get the idea of what I’m going to say about this album. Or do you? Yes you do, except that whilst I found it mostly unbearable, there was a small part of me (that still has long hair at heart) actually enjoyed this latest ‘melodic power metal’ release. It’s got more cliches than Avatar, and if you’ve heard anything by Iced Earth then you’ll be able to predict exactly what’s going to happen next… but it’s still not that bad.

In fact, it’s perfectly fine. It’s an album which genuinely is ‘middle of the road’ in every way. There’s very little to say about it if I’m honest. Trashing it would be unfair and ultimately pointless. But praising it is something that I won’t do because  don’t really like it that much. I’m sure you can understand the problem here.

At the end of the day, if you like your metal flashy, predicable and often tedious then this is for you.

Mr Bogle

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Symphorce – Unrestricted

October 18, 2010

I remember being somewhat ambivalent at Symphorces previous album, Become Death when it arrived through my letterbox sometime in 2007. I’m a Brainstorm fan, Anthony B. Franck bringing some much needed balls to power metal, so it always eluded me why another band that would, in essence, sound like Brainstorm was needed.

Well thankfully, Unrestricted isn’t a Brainstorm album under a different banner. While it is as unrelentingly heavy in places, it’s a much more varied affair, album opener The Eternal teasing us with a mournful piano intro before descending into some truly aggressive and catchy guitar work.Whatever Hurts follows similarly with jilted showground organs, but by this point it’s evident thatUnrestricted is nothing short of a fantastically written album with nigh on perfect execution.

Unlike previous releases, the keys do play a more prominent role, if only in intros and occasional background noise. The vast majority of the songs have slowed down to less than a breakneck pace  which have allowed for some far superior riffs, with Worlds Seem To Collide creating a groove that professional routers would be jealous of. The closer Do You Ever Wonder is by far the best thing on offer, a blend of serrated guitars and the menacing vocals of Mr Franck that nail the Symphorce sound of subtle melody with unrelenting aggression.

Unrestricted is a great album, full of catchy hooks driven by some titanic vocal pieces.  For once, I’m glad an album doesn’t try and blow my mind, but instead tries to beat it to death with a steel girder.

8/10

Twaddlefish

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Circle II Circle – Consequence of Power

October 16, 2010

As my dream of another Savatage album floats further from my grasp, I turn to Circle II Circle to provide me with another dose of Tampa-based heavy metal. 2008’s Delusions of Grandeur had some great moments, as well as being a victim of pre-emptive Death Magnetic Syndrome during the mastering process.

Through their career, Circle II Circle are one of the few bands that have devolved instead of evolving and progressing their sound. 2003’s Watching In Silence might as well have been another Savatage album, but with each passing release building up to CoP those more grandiose moments have been stripped away. While the Oliva-esque riffage is still present in Out of Nowhere, the feel of the album is firmly in good ol’ Heavymetalville. Anathema‘s delightfully crushing chorus provides one of many neck-wrecking moments accompanied by some pretty heavy and heart-rending lyrical content, something that the ‘tage family of bands manage with exceptional ease.

However, and this is a big however; CoP strays too far into background music territory. It’s not bad in the slightest, as Zak’s vocals have improved continuously over time with perhaps his best all round performance on CoP. There are some great hooks in the music with strong dynamics, Take Back Yesterday in particular, but it’s nothing we’ve not heard before from Circle II Cirlce. Including ending the album with a big ballad, which never gets old.

You could quite easily shuffle up CoP and it’s predecessor and the two would blend together seamlessly. In a way that doesn’t take anything away from CoP, it won’t be the album that gets you into the band (the honour of which goes to 2006’s Burden of Truth) but if you really like the Circle II Circle it certainly won’t lower your opinion of them.

6/10

Twaddlefish

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Mostly Autumn – Go Well, Diamond Heart

October 15, 2010

For those that don’t know, Mostly Autumn started life as a Pink Floyd tribute band, and they were bloody awful.  It’s kind of like seeing a teenage death metal band do The Trooper or any song from the first three Metallica albums. Then, suddenly, they decided to become an amazing folk-prog-rock band. As you do. They played Bloodstock about five years ago, and have kept my interest when you just need something to chillax to.

Go Well ,Diamond Heart is nothing if not chillaxed. While they still take a fair bit of inspiration from the Floyd, the sound that Mostly Autumn seem to have forged is one of subtle folk rivulets in across a rock-lite veneer. The female vocals flow gracefully over the music, whether it’s the gentle balladry of Back To Life or the chugging of Hold Back The Sun. In releases past I’ve often been critical of the countered male vocals, but Something Better as well as the album closer have the voice that I suspect they’ve been waiting for years; it’s still Bryan Josh, but his voice has got better and it really has made all the difference.

If you need an album just to chill the hell out to, Go Well, Diamond Heart has it absolutely nailed. The songwriting is nothing short of craftsmenship, nothing less than what’s expected considering how long Mostly Autumn have been at this. For the umpteenth time, they deliver another LP bristling with the crème de la crème of British folk-rock. Twang on, you roguish bards.

8/10

Twaddlefish

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Ross The Boss – Hailstorm

October 10, 2010

If you know who Ross The Boss is, it’s fair to say you know who Manowar are. While the latter have gone to oil themselves up more than an unwashed chip fryer and slam spoken word verse in place of actual songs, Ross has commited himself to making ‘proper’ albums. You know, ones with songs on them.

Hailstorm itself is not without a dash of the old Manowar chest-beating, but the meat of it is the classic metal sound of the 80s given slick modern production with a sprinkle of rock n’ roll. Burn Alive is an irritatingly upbeat affair with a dirty rock swagger and an infuriatingly catchy chorus. The title track itself is an extremely aggressive fare of rasped chorus vocals and aggressive riffage reminiscent of Stormwarrior.

As expected, the lyrical content has a lot do with kingdoms and warriors and whatever, melding nicely with some suitably epic and pompous guitar work, and while not breaking any newground or progressive elements to an already established sound, creates an almost youthful energy that bands this far into their career can often lack.

Despite the genre in which RtB resides is one that isn’t renowned for it’s originality, Hailstorm delivers a strong mix of hooky guitar riffs and memorable vocal lines. What isn’t suprising is that the ballad is beyond hilarious, channelling every ounce of his previous band to an almost embarrassing degree. Manowar fans will probably buy it, but those needing a decent guitar album wouldn’t do badly here either.

6/10

Twaddlefish