Classic Rock’s New Releases Round-Up
A right old mixed bag this week. From British hard rock to Norwegian black metal, via NWOBHM-influenced Canadians, some proggie reissues and a massive book on one of the biggest bands in the world. Time to break out the wheels of steel.
Words: Malcolm Dome
Voodoo Six are one of those Brit bands who’ve been threatening a breakthrough for some while. Well, Fluke? (Powerage) could just be the album to do the trick. It introduces new vocalist Luke Purdie, who’s edgy style suits the songs. This could be an important time for the Six.
Stringer Beasant are Gary Stringer and Jack Beasant from Reef. And, thankfully their debut album together, Yard (Xtra Mile) doesn’t sound like Reef. Only because there would be no point in doing an album that’s merely a copy of what you do in that band. This is more acoustic, introspective and laidback. But showcases Stringers’s voice rather well, and also Beasant’s guitar talent.
Joanne Shaw Taylor is a blues rocker who really is the true deal. Diamonds In The Dirt (Ruf) is a low-slung selection of gritty songs, with Taylor’s voice telling a life lived in bars and hustling on the road. Which may or may not be true, but the combination of that voice and some sharply observed guitar work makes this something of a killer.
Kobra And The Lotus are Canadians who’ve got an almost British sense of power and urgency. Out Of The Pit, their debut, rides high on the NWOBHM era, with vocalist Brittany Paige providing some modern swagger. Of interest here is that not only is producer Kevin Shirley involved, but so is Greg Godovitz, and some of you might recall him from Goddo, a cult Canadian from the late 1970s. He’s produced all the music here. The band tour the UK next month, and you can find out more at www.kobraandthelotus.com
The return of Strangeways has been heralded by some as the AOR equivalent of finding Elvis’ false teeth buried at the bottom of your garden. In other words, it’s momentous for aficionados, but puzzles everyone else. Now, the Scottish rockers did come up with a couple of gems in the 1980s, and Perfect World (Frontiers) is a genuine grower. With American vocalist Terry Brock back, the band don’t go for the obvious, but deliver an album that gets better with every listen. Classy stuff.
Cradle Of Filth have, it must be admitted, been treading water for a while. Once the proud leaders of a new dawn in the black metal world, in recent times they’ve been left somewhat behind by defter and dafter bands, who’ve been prepared to try out fresh ideas. However, Darkly, Darkly Venus Aversa (AbraCadaver/Peaceville) sees Dani Filth et al slowly clawing back lost ground. By no means a masterpiece, but a return to more brutal basics, and better use of orchestration than has been the case on the last few albums, makes this nightmarish fairy tale a decent descent into Hell, Filth style.
By contrast Dimmu Borgir have been getting more elaborate and expansive with each album. The danger always was that the Norwegians would one day place style over substance. Well, that day has arrived. Abrahadabra (Nuclear Blast) is much ado about not a lot. There are massive symphonic statements and sweepingly portentious epics. But it all feels vacuous and a little pointless. Shame.
Given the fact that all four members have been otherwise occupied recently, the third Alter Bridge album could easily have ended up as an afterthought. But ABIII (Roadrunner) is their best yet. Perhaps the time apart, when Creed reunited and vocalist Myles Kennedy got involved with Slash’s solo project, has done them a power of good. This is everything you want from the band, only taken to a new level.
King Crimson continue their campaign of reissues to celebrate their 40th anniversary. Beautifully packaged and wonderfully remastered, both In The Wake Of Poseidon and Islands (Panegyric) sound better than ever. Each comes with a bonus DVD, which includes 5.1 surround sound remixes.
Finally, a weighty book on AC/DC. High Voltage Rock ’N’ Roll: The Ultimate Illustrated History (Voyageur Press) has been put together by veteran British journalist Phil Sutcliffe. It’s stuffed with good photos (some rather rare) and info, although most of the latter will already be well known to fans. However, the idea isn’t to give an amazingly new insight into the band (no revelations here about Bon Scott actually planning to do a six-hour opera, based on the life of Kierkegaard!), but to celebrate their achievements. It does this rather well. It is a hard back book, therefore slightly more expensive, but with Xmas coming up, time to persuade someone this is the ideal pressie.
Tags: AC/DC, Alter Bridge, Bon Scott, Cradle Of Filth, Creed, Dani Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Gary Stringer, Goddo, Greg Godovitz, Jack Beasant, Joanne Shaw Taylor, King Crimson, Kobra And The Lotus, Myles Kennedy, Reef, Slash, Strangeways, Stringer Beasant, Terry Brock, Voodoo Six