Classic Rock’s New Releases Round-Up
Blimey, what a selection this week. An all-girl band revisit their most loved album. One prog band ditch their metal roots, while another gets a little heavier. An American band inspired by NWOBHM come up woth the good using a singer who’s now quit. A guitar great does an album with other guitar gods. And while one young thrash band builds for the future, a more venerable name proves they do still have a future.
Words: Malcolm Dome
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Hit And Run album, Girlschool have re-recorded it for the Wacken label. Now titled Hit And Run Revisited, there’s little doubt they’ve done a fine job. And studio technology being so much better in 2011, the whole thing has a more powerful sound. But, you know what? The original is still better. They’ve even changed the silly banter in Yeah Right. Sure, it wouldn’t now make sense to have a mum laying down the law for her daughters, but the new dialogue lacks the daft panto humour of the 81 version.
White Wizzard don’t appear to have much luck with vocalists. No sooner had Wyatt Anderson returned for Flying Tigers (Earache) than he’s quit the band again. However, he certainly enhances the new album. In fact, this is White Wizzard stepping up a notch or two. The songs have a confident stride, and the clear NWOBHM influences of yore are slightly downplayed now, in favour of a more modern metal strut. Let’s hope the loss of Anderson can be overcome.
Touchstone have been one of those British prog bands standing on the edge of something special for a while. Well, they’ve got a lot closer with The City Sleeps (SPV/Steamhammer). Vocalist Kim Seviour has never sounded better; she radiates personality, while around her the band veer across the spectrum, from an almost heavy sound to something more introspective. This does showcase Touchstone’s strengths.
Now, Opeth have long been regarded as one of the very best at balancing metal and progressive tendencies, sometimes favouring one or the other. But Heritage (Roadrunner) is unquestionably an album where they jump full into the latter camp. This is measured musical alchemy, with each song shining thrillingly with momentous ideas. Whether Opeth have now taken a firm and irreversible decision to leave their overt heaviness behind remains to be seen. But there’s no denying Heritage is pure class.
What the thrash world now needs is one of the younger bands to step forward and lead the pack into a new era. There are plenty of candidates, but Evile might just have taken a march or two on everyone with Five Serpent’s Teeth (Earache). One hesitates to compare it to Master Of Puppets (that would be something to live up to), but like the latter, this album has diversity without diluting its metal commitment. It’s thrash with a brain, and that could be what takes Evile into the big time.
Leslie West is a master guitarist who’s regarded as a hero and inspiration by many of his peers. Which is why he can call on so many to guest on an album like Unusual Suspects (Mascot). The list is remarkable, taking in Slash, Billy Gibbons, Zakk Wylde, Joe Bonamassa and Steve Lukather. But why this could easily have ended up as a widdle fest, what ultimately matters, as it should, are the songs. This is a great collection that allows West to show off not only his pure guitar chemistry, but also that unmistakable voice. It’s one of his best albums in years, and not just because of the guests lined up to salute him.
Finally, to a band who’ve rediscovered themselves. The portents for Anthrax and new album Worship Music (Nuclear Blast) didn’t appear too promising, Having recorded the whole thing with vocalist Dan Nelson, they then had to totally rethink it when he was replaced by Joey Belladonna. But it’s worked. Belladonna has never sounded so tough and unyielding, while he still retains that essential melodic quality. And the album comes across as having the spirit of Among The Living but also boasting the physicality of The Sound Of White Noise. A new era beckons for Anthrax, who prove here they don’t have to rely on the 80s to be regarded as one of the Big Four of thrash.
Tags: Anthrax, Billy Gibbons, Dan Nelson. Girlschool, Evile, Joe Bonamassa, Joey belladonna, Kim Seviour, Leslie West, Opeth, Slash, Steve Lukather, Touchstone, White Wizzard, Wyatt Anderson, Zakk Wylde