Classic Rock’s New Release Round-Up
This week we look at a classic Judas Priest reissue, Taylor Hawkins going out on his own, and the return of The Haunted and Annihilator. Plus there’s yet another Rush compilation. And we get a taste of the new Accept record.
Words: Malcolm Dome
It was movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn who once said that any movie should start with an earthquake and work its way to a climax. Following his example, we kick off with a true metal quake. Judas Priest‘s immortal 1980 album British Steel (Sony) needs no introduction. It stands as one of the titans of the metal genre. However, this deluxe reissue packages the original album with a DVD featuring the whole of a show filmed last year on the band’s US tour when they performed British Steel in its entirety. Only downer – so far there’s no sign of the Priest repeating this magic over here.
Talking of British Steel, mention must be made of the excellent tribute album being given away with the new issue of Metal Hammer (issue 205). There are some cracking interpretations of these iconic songs from a wide range of bands. Of particular note are Disturbed’s strut through Living After Midnight, Firewind’s crack at Breaking The Law and Arthemis turning United into a battle metal anthem!
Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins proves he’s got the touch of a master with his own band Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders. Their second album Red Light Fever (Sony) is a breathtaking combination of Queen, Jellyfish and The Beach Boys – in other words, intelligent pop-rock. The songs are excellent, spanning a spectrum from catchiness to atmospheric and even occasional a little eerie. The performances are impassioned yet controlled, and Hawkins’ voice can hold a tune. A right gem.
The Haunted have always been a better live band than a studio one. So Road Kill (Century Media) should suit them, being a live recording. Hell yeah, the Swedes come out bashing and blazing on this show from Amsterdam last year. It’s fast, furious and enough to make you realise they’ll give Slayer something of a run for their money when they open for the thrash emperors in the UK next month.
Still on the brutal metal front, Annihilator have roared back with their best album in years. Self-titled (Earache), it’s full of the sort of guitar solos that helped to establish mainman Jeff Waters as one of the best shredders around. No wonder he’s been courted by some very big bands. But it’s not just about guitar overload. The songs are all chest-beating anthems. They’ve even done a bristling version of Van Halen’s Romeo Delight.
Final Axe were a semi-obscure Christian metal band from the late 80s. Their 1989 debut album, Beyond Hell’s Gate, has now been reissued (Retroactive). Bizarrely, they’ve chosen to replace all the drum parts, bringing in Stryper’s Robert Sweet to do the deed. Inevitably, this gives the record a somewhat lopsided sound that can’t be disguised by remastering and remixing. It’s good, clean power metal fun, but isn’t exactly essential.
The problem with any Rush compilation is that you can’t argue with what’s on there, but you still miss what’s not. Time Stand Still: The Collection (Mercury) features 13 tracks, taking in the albums from Fly By Night to Grace Under Pressure. Great stuff, until you start to list what’s absent… oh hell, just enjoy the peerless music.
Seems so long ago that Robin George was being tipped for superstardom; he even made the cover of Kerrang! in 1983. But fate never gave him an even break. So he’s been left paddling in the backwaters, while others have surfed on the big waves. Right now, there appears to be a massive programme of reissues going on. The latest is the double CD featuring the Crying Diamonds studio album and the Dangerous Music Live ’85 album (Angel Air). The former is surprisingly classy, showcasing George’s gift for writing interesting, mature songs with genuine depth. The only problem is that his voice, while decent, isn’t strong enough to really carry things to another level. The same applies to the live album, where George proves he’s a fine sideman, but not a leader. A real talent, no doubt about it, but also one that’s mostly unfulfilled. Harsh as it is, maybe fate had a point?
Sweden’s H.E.A.T have a sumptuous AOR appeal. And the album Freedom Rock (Ear Music) will delight fans of FM or Skagarack (semi-obscure mid-80s Danes). The melodies are the sort of which gluttons for a good tune will gorge, even if there are moments, as on the ballad Shelter, when the vomit factor moves into cliché overdrive.
LA Guns might have signed to Steve Vai’s Favored Nations label, but that doesn’t mean the reissue of 1999′s Shrinking Violet has suddenly given this album any extra credibility. It still sounds like the band went into the studio with very few ideas, messed around for a while and came out with less than they started with. Compared to the impressive nature of their early releases, this is a travesty.
Accept‘s comeback album, Blood Of Nations, isn’t due for release by Nuclear Blast until September. But one song, The Abyss, is being streamed at www.myspace.com/accepttheband. And if this is a typical example of what we can expect, then we are talking about an Accept classic. Mark Tornillo has done a tremendous job replacing Udo Dirkschneider. Let’s hope the rest of the album turns out to be so Accept-like.
Tags: Accept, Annihilator, Arthemis, Beach Boys, Disturbed, Final Axe, Firewind, FM, Foo Fighters, H.E.A.T, Jeff Waters, Jellyfish, Judas Priest, LA Guns, Mark Tornillo, Metal Hammer, Queen, Robert Sweet, Robin George, Rush, Skagarack, Stryper, Taylor Hawkins, Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders, The Haunted, Udo Dirkschneider, Van Halen