Classic Rock’s New Releases Round-Up
It’s a mixed bag this week, with everything from metal to prog, via melodic rock. And we sweep around the globe, stopping in Norway, Wales, America, Australia and Newcastle. Don’t forget to pack your toothbrush!
Words: Malcolm Dome
Cor blimey (to borrow a Sid James cliché). Issa’s a bit of a looker. Which probably means her album Sign Of Angels (Frontiers) is gonna stink, right? Wrong. This is an absolute cracker (and I’m talking about the album!). Great songs, wonderful voice. Easily among the best releases of its type this year. A right bombshell (I’m taking about Issa – pay attention).
Remember Tank? The band who were always regarded, affectionately, as junior Motorhead. Well, you’d never know it from War Machine (Metal Mind), the new album. With Chris Dale on bass and Doogie White on vocals, they’ve smoothed out a lot of their previous roughness and gone for a more melodic approach. Diehard fans will doubtless cry ‘traitors!’, but this is a good album. Give it a chance.
White Widdow are that rarest of beast – a good Aussie melodic rock band. Their self-titled, debut album (Fronters) reeks of the mid-80s (the era of Dokken, White Sister and Bon Jovi), and is all the better for it. An enjoyable romp, with lots of parping keyboards – the way we like ’em.
You might think you know what to expect from Beyond The Grave after the first minute or so of The Human Tide. But you’d be wrong. Sure the Newcastle band start off with a thunderous rush of gruff rhythms and growling vocals. But as the rest of the album unfurls, there are so many subtle and intricate moments that you end up convinced this is one helluva band. Check them out at www.myspace.com/beyondthegraveuk
Proggers Mostly Autumn might have lost Heather Findlay, but they’ve clearly retained their momentum. New vocalist Olivia Sparnenn has stepped up from the chorus line (as it were) on Go Well Diamond Heart. It’s an impressive mix of traditional Autumnal style with a little more modern edge. Find out more at http://www.mostly-autumn.com/
Where have the last 20 years gone, eh? Is it really that long since the release of Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell (Rhino), one of those seminal albums that turned metal on its head and shook the genre up. This is a lavish three-CD package, with a live performance and also a whole of demos, including The Will To Survive, which sounds more like Queensryche than what we know as Pantera – damn fine, though.
Rob Halford takes a brief break from Judas Priest, returning to Halford for Halford IV – Made Of Metal (Metal God Records). This is perhaps the most satisfying album from the band since 2000’s Resurrection. It’s diverse and allows the metal God himself to prove his range is greater than perhaps we all realise judging him by the Priest output alone.
Sabbath Assembly are not a confusing tribute band to Black Sabbath and Front Line Assembly, but a strange brew of dark imagery. The New Yorkers follow the teachings of the controversial Process Church Of The Final Judgement (who believe Christ and Satan will be reconciled, and together will judge humanity), and draw on Satanic and Christian beliefs. Restored To One (:AJNA:) is intelligent but very claustrophobic. It’s like The Devil’s Blood without the expansiveness tunes. Almost folk rock, but with a sinister soul. These are hymns with the duality of love and fear. A flawed masterpiece.
Far removed from the angry young punks of yesteryear, the Manic Street Preachers are still making fascinating, edgy music. Postcards From A Young Man (Sony) has got a gospel choir, Duff McKagan, John Cale and Ian McCollough – oh, a whole string of potential hits. While the pace is sedate and the manner is mature. Don’t be fooled – there are also enough barbs hidden here to prove the band still believe they have something relevant to say. As indeed they do.
Finally, in a year that’s given us some tremendous DVDs, Ladies And Gentlemen…The Rolling Stones (Eagle Vision) is up there with the best. The live footage comes from the Exile On Main Street tour (perhaps the Stones’ best period), while the extra footage is also well worth watching. It’ll tide us over until the inevitable 50th anniversary tour.
Tags: Beyond The Grave, Black Sabbath, Bon Jovi, Chris Dale, Dokken, Doogie White, Duff McKagan, Front Line Assembly, Halford, Heather Findlay, Ian McCollough, Issa, John Cale, Judas Priest, Manic Street Preachers, Mostly Autumn, Motorhead, Olivia Sparnenn, Pantera, Queensryche, rob halford, Rolling Stones, Sabbath Assembly, Tank, the devil's blood, White Sister, White Widdow