Classic Rock’s New Release Round-Up
This week, we’ve got a couple of classic Brit AOR bands – Asia and FM – plus a Canadian who loves his naughty bits, a deluxe death metal/prog reissue from Opeth, the return of Soulfly and Melissa Auf Der Maur, some Belgian grind and old-school thrash from an old-school band. Phew!
Words: Malcolm Dome
The return of supergroup Asia wasn’t exactly consummated with 2008′s disappointing album Phoenix. But there’s no doubts that Omega (Frontiers) is a classy sophisticated work. This is mature melodic hard rock, but still with enough bite to freshen up the songs. Maybe not as good as those first three albums from the early 1980s, but definite proof that there’s more than nostalgia to commend the chaps.
Equally as impressive is FM‘s rejuvenation with Metropolis (Riff City). Like Asia, they’re not trying to recapture past glories, but moving onwards. The band have a real vibrancy, in a typically British way. Good to have them back and burning.
Danko Jones is man who understands how to mix up sensuality with rapacious sexual conquest, all captured through a really priapic groove. Below The Belt (Bad Taste) is the Canadian’s best album yet, with a thrusting, lustful rock ‘n’ roll pulse and song titles that impress even David Coverdale. Magic Snake, anyone? Or how about Active Volcanoes? Well, the album title tells you where his mind’s locked!
The reissue of Opeth’s 2001 classic Blackwater Park (Sony) comes lavishly packaged. Apart from the original album – and it’s great to be reminded just how good it was – there’s also a DVD with a 5.0 audio mix of the songs, plus a documentary on the making of this record. This is the moment when death metal and prog realized they could get drunk together.
Soulfly have been making outrageously good albums for a decade. But Omen (Roadrunner) might just be their finest. It’s stuffed with thrilling tribal rhythms, angry ambience and dysfunctional progressive music. This is Mastodon, only with a slightly elliptical Pere Ubu vision.
Belgians Leng Tch’e are far more straightforward. Hypomanic (Season Of Mist) is unashamed grindcore, taking off form where Napalm Death were at the end of the 1980s. It’s convincing and definitely presses all the right buttons. Not exactly innovative, but that’s besides the point.
If you’re after invention then try Melissa Auf Der Maur ‘s Out Of Our Minds (Roadrunner). It’s an album that mingles stoner and alt. rock with a measure of spontaneous assurance. There are hints of The Smashing Pumpkins (Melissa’s former band), but thankfully takes its own path into a psychedelic spree. This is part of a bigger project, which takes in a short film, gallery exhibitions and a comic book.
Finally, if you’re a thrash head then Annihilator‘s 13th studio album on Earache is a guaranteed winner. Self-titled, this has more guitar solos form Jeff Waters than entire Ynwgie back catalogue, and is realold-fashioned metal thrashing mad experience. There’s even a cover of Van Halen’s Romeo Delight – now, that’s entertainment!