Classic Rock New Releases Round-Up
This week, we get into the new Iron Maiden album, and check out the latest from Megadeth, Tarja, Skin, Spock’s Beard and Stan Bush. Plus lots (well, a few) more.
Words: Malcolm Dome
What to make of the new Iron Maiden album. Is The Final Frontier (EMI) a natural progression for the band? Or is it a great big ball of huff and bluster? While there might be some who go for the latter, the reality is that the former is a lot closer to the mark. Yes, the songs are complex and multi-layered, but the production seems a lot less cluttered than was the case on 2007′s A Matter Of Life And Death. And you know what, after a few listens I’m starting to think this is the best Maiden album since Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith returned.
Tarja has a magnificent voice, although sometimes you wonder if she spends too long on the technical side of music and neglects the emotion. This is the conundrum on What Lies Beneath (Spinefarm). It’s enjoyable in an overblown, almost pompous fashion. You can’t fault the orchestral style of musicianship, nor what Tarja herself brings to the table, but…well, it lacks passion. It also needs the masterful melodic touch Nightwish have in abundance.
Megadeth celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Rust In Peace album by playing it live in its entirety on a US tour earlier this year. It didn’t take much brain power to realise that they’ve film and record it somewhere down the line. And they did just that, on the last night of the tour at the Hollywood Palladium. Rust In Peace – Live (Universal). It’s a CD plus DVD or Blu-ray, and a damn fine package. The band sound, and look, in top form. Yes, it’s a nostalgia thing, but witnessing the return of David Ellefson on bass suggests Megadeth are about to do something spectacular. Oh, and I’d agree with anyone who reckons they’ve made more good albums than Metallica.
Kyrbgrinder are one of a number of young British bands who combine modern metal with progressive ideas. And Cold War Technology (Kyrbgrinder) is a really impressive mix that brings to mind Cynic meeting Voivod in a test tube being swished around by Baroness. If that makes no sense, just get the album.
Skin say farewell with Breaking The Silence. Quite why the band have decided to split up again when they’re capable of something as good as this is a mystery. This is effortless, classy Brit melodic hard rock, which reminds me of…well, Skin in their prime. Get copies from www.skinfreak.co.uk
Stan Bush has always been on the fringes of the AOR big time. He’s been close, but never quite cracked it. Dream The Dream (Frontiers) is thoroughly entertaining, and Bush even has a trademark all of his own. One I’d never really noticed before. What he now needs is to get one song on a high profile TV show, movie or advert, and he might be on his way (and yes, I know he’s had this sort of exposure in the past). He certainly deserves it.
Logan have often been called Scotland’s answer to Alter Bridge, with good reason. They’ve even opened for the Creed offshoot. But what they’ve needed is someone to really focus their drive and talent. Well, their fairy godmother has appeared. In a way. He’s actually producer Keith Olsen, who’s not given to waving wands in a tutu during panto season. But he does spread a little magic over The Great Unknown (Guardian Angel). Now Logan sound like an international band, and one who could take the proverbial coals to America.
Spock’s Beard return after almost four years, to find the world has gone prog crazy. So X (Music Theories Recordings) comes out at a time when interest in the band could peak. It’s business as usual for the Beard – still making music that intelligent, yet not overtly clever. Old school prog really, but with enough modern nous to carry the message to a younger generation.
Murderdolls bring back their ghoul rock on Women And Children Last (Roadrunner). Now down to the duo of Joey Jordison and Wednesday 13, it’s been eight years since their debut, Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls, and they seem to have lost that air of cartoonish lunacy that made the first album such fun. This sounds lacklustre, less Ed Wood and more dead wooden.
Hovercraft Pirates do a nice line in enthused extreme-ish metal on …When Our Wake Hits Your Shore (True Blue). It gallops along with no little tunefulness, and both Alice Cooper and Rick Wakeman are in there somewhere. One to watch – carefully.
Finally, to an album not coming out until October 4, but one you should know about. Primitai come from the south of England and The Line Of Fire is straight out of the NWOBHM text book (very early Maiden and even a touch of Black Axe), only adding in some fun pirate metal subtexts. It’s the surprise CD of the week – in the best possible way. Twin guitar mannered mania. You can find out more at www.primitai.com
Tags: Adrian Smith, Alter Bridge, Baroness, Black Axe, Bruce Dickinson, Cynic, David Ellefson, Hovercraft Pirates, Iron Maiden, Joey Jordison, Kyrbgrinder, Logan, Megadeth, Metallica, Murderdolls, Nightwish, Primitai, Skin, Spock's Beard, Stan Bush, Traj Turunen, Voivod, Wednesday 13