Classic Rock’s New Releases Round-Up
This week, there are surprises from an Arch Enemy guitarist and Filter, no shocks from Helemt and Black Label Society, a couple of corking DVDs and sundry other crackers and, er, slackers.
Words: Malcolm Dome
It’s nice to be surprised. As long as it’s a pleasant one. That’s the case with Christopher Amott and his solo album Follow Your Heart (Trooper). If you only know him from Arch Enemy, then you won’t be expecting the Swedish guitarist’s diversity here. There’s jazz, prog, folk…in fact, the only thing missing is a metal riff or two. One of the year’s real finds.
You know what you’ll get from Helmet. The 1990s alt rock heroes created a niche a long while back, and have never seen the reason to move out. So Seeing Eye Dog (Work Song) sounds as you’d expect. Which is not at all a criticism, because this sort of twisted metal is always interesting, when performed by a band with this pedigree and creativity.
Filter used to be Nine Inch Nails without Trent Reznor – which is as intriguing as it seems (not at all). But something’s happened to Richard Patrick and his army of industrial magpies. Because The Trouble With Angels (Nuclear Blast) is not only the best album the band have ever recorded, but very nearly a post-modern celebration of Journey and Foreigner. Yes, it’s melodic hard rock, albeit with the occasional NIN reference. But an excellent effort.
Huw Lloyd-Langton has been connected with Hawkwind for so long, it’s easy to forget that he’s a guitarist with a considerable range. Hard Graft (Allegro Music) is a pleasant diversion. And if the Lloyd-Langton vocals aren’t exactly operatic, nonetheless they have an effective style of their own, and his guitar work is nifty. Style-wise, it’s introspective folk-rock, with the occasional foray into the blues.
You know what you get with Black Label Society. And Order Of The Black (Roadrunner) fits right into those expectations. Ah, but it also happens to be one of the BLS albums yet. Maybe the newly sober Zakk Wylde was out to prove a point to Ozzy? Whatever, this piles along at a tidy rate, with some really Wylde guitar playing and hefty lock-and-load vocals.
The Sword seem to be flavour of the month with a lot of people. Quite why is hard to fathom. Warp Riders (Kemado) is certainly no bad record, but at its best, all this does is remind you how good Clutch are. Says it all.
Achilla have long threatened to make a killer (ouch!) album. And Timeless is exactly what they needed to do. Its got gothic, progressive and metallic edges, but has an approach all its own. This is one of the best albums of the year, and will appeal to anyone who’s got an appreciation of creative rock music. Martamaria is a stunning singer, and guitarist Daniele Penza is capable of fluid brilliance. First single Arashi is out in early September. Find out more at www.myspace.com/achillamusic
In 1978, The Godz released a self-titled album, full of greased-up, foot down hard rock. Now it’s been reissued by Rock Candy, and it still sounds rougher than a bunch of psychotic redneck alcoholics on the rampage in the backwoods. Gloriously stuffed with songs which make Steel Panther seem PC. Given all of this, it was inevitably destined to become a cult classic, selling about 14 copies. At least now, a new generation can enjoy Under The Table, Gotta Keep A Runnin’ and Candy’s Going Bad (you’d have thought by now she’d have gone right off!). Warning: this is best appreciated after several bottles of the good stuff. You know what I mean.
Barclay James Harvest are in their pomp on the reissued DVD Berlin – A Concert For The People (Eagle Rock). This 30th anniversary celebration has it all – wonderful setting (on the steps of the Reichstag, in front of 250,000 fans!), supreme music and classic songs. BJH were never better.
Finally, the DVD version of Oil City Confidential (Cadiz) is Julien Temple’s documentary on Dr. Feelgood. It’s madcap, hilarious and informative. It captures what the Canvey Island masters were really all about.
Tags: Achilla, Arch Enemy, Barclay James Harvest, Black label Society, Christopher Amott, Clutch, Daniele Penza, Dr Feelgood, Filter, Foreigner, Hawkwind, Helmet, Huw Lloyd-Langton, Journey, Martamaria, Nine Inch Nails, ozzy Osbourne, Richard Patrick, The Godz, The Sword, Trent Reznor, Zakk Wylde