Classic Rock’s New Releases Round-Up
This week, we’ve goodies (or not so goodies) from Soundgarden, Michael Schennker Group, Angra, Methods Of Mayhem, Survivor…to name but a few.
Words: Malcolm Dome
If you’ve forgotten why everyone got excited recently about the Soundgarden reunion, then Telephantasm (Universal) will help a lot. It’s a compilation featuring many of the Seattle band’s finest moments, plus the previously unreleased song Black Rain and some live stuff that’s not been out before. Once you play this, then you’ll have no trouble in appreciating again what it was that gave the ‘Garden the edge over most grunge names – they had genuine writing depth and playing quality.
Scottish band Logan have often been compared to Alter Bridge. Yet until now their records never quite allowed this comparison to provide a springboard for the band to mix it with the best. That’s all changed. The Great Unknown (Guardian Angel) has been produced by the celebrated Keith Olsen, and he’s given Logan a platinum lift. Their time has arrived and is knocking firmly at the door.
Brazilians Angra have long lived in the shadow of Sepultura. The power metal style they offered was never quite enough to break through internationally, as the Seps have managed. However their self-titled new album (SPV) is a real revelation. It sounds more like classic Helloween than anything else, and possesses a brightness and spark that might just take them a lot further forward.
Tommy Lee is back with a new Methods Of Mayhem album, and A Public Disservice Announcement (Roadrunner) is surprisingly strong. This is all the more remarkable, given the fact that T-Bone invited fans to add their own bits to already recorded tracks, and he’s used the best of these on the album. It could all have gone horribly wrong, and ended up as a cheap publicity stunt that backfired. But it’s worked. This a crunchy, cohesive album, with strong tunes and some inventive production moments. Maybe more musos should involve the fans?
The venerable Fireball Ministry have yet again delivered the stoner goods on their self-titled fifth album (Restricted Release). The band really do have own swagger, and in Rev. James A. Rota II, they’ve a frontman with genuine charisma. What makes this work are the songs – well constructed and shower-friendly (ie. You can hum ’em).
Times Of Grace are a combination of Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz and original KSE singer Jesse Leach. Their self-titled debut (Roadrunner) allows the pair to stretch away from the mother band. Yes, there are Killswitch moments, but for the most part this is more intricate and introspective. A fascinating album that grows with every play.
The Michael Schenker Group celebrated their 30th anniversary by recording a show in Tokyo earlier this year. The result is the ‘enigmatically’ titled The 30th Anniversary Show – Live In Tokyo (Inakustik), with the German guitar god joined by vocalist Gary Barden, bassist Neil Murray, keyboard player/guitarist Wayne Findlay and drummer Simon Phillips. Sadly, it doesn’t work. The playing’s more than decent – with that lot how could it be anything else – but the magic’s missing. Compared to 1982’s flawed yet breathtaking One Night At Budokan, this new live album is rather drab.
The first two Survivor albums – Survivor and Premonition – have just been reissued by Rock Candy. Great to hear the band, before Eye Of The Tiger turned them into a household name like Kleenex or Harpic. Released in 1979 and 81, respectively, they have a stylish melodic charm, even if at times the production is a little clichéd and ham-fisted.
Paul Kossoff is one of the most undervalued blues-style guitarists of all time. He may have been part of Free, but somehow he gets overlooked when discussions turn to the all-time greats. Blue Soul The Best Of Paul Kossoff (Iron Bird) collects together some of his finest works, with Free and beyond. It re-emphasises his fluid, languid mastery of the guitar.
Pure Reason Revolution have evolved from the Pink Floyd-inspired band of several years ago into a somewhat formidable combination of prog and dance. Hammer And Anvil (EMI) is their best release yet. It takes them close to Pendulum territory, but still keeps the band firmly in the prog scene. Yet another example of how to be individual and dynamic in 2010.
Linkin Park are not everyone’s cuppa, but A Thousand Suns (Warner Brothers) is almost progressive with elements of Middle Eastern and African music mixed. It’s somewhere between Muse and 10cc at times, and makes for an enthralling listen. But you have to take it all in. Individual tracks really don’t work.
Finally, to an unsigned band worth checking out. Zocalo are a London five-piece who sound very southern in the Corrossion Of Conformity sense. The four tracks on their Providence CD really do bounce along, and vocalist Sarah is bold enough to carry the songs, while also having a certain edgy individuality. Check them out at www.myspace.com/zocalorocks
Tags: 10cc, Adam Dutkiewicz, Alter Bridge, Angra, Corrosion Of Conformity, Fireball Ministry, Free, Gary Barden, Jesse Leach, Keith Olsen, Killswitch Engage, Linkin Park, Logan, Methods Of Mayhem, Michael Schenker Group, muse, Neil Murray, Paul Kossoff, Pendulum, Pure Reason Revolution, Sepultura, Simon Phillips, Soundgarden, Survivor, Times Of Grace, Tommy Lee, Wayne Findlay, Zocalo