Classic Rock’s New Releases Round-Up
It’s a week when Pink Floyd go all deluxe with their Darkly classic album. Where Steve Hackett proves he can more than hack it. Where Machine Head plague us with metal. And Mastodon Hungrily chow down on new songs.
Words: Malcolm Dome
Pink Floyd fans are about to get the feeling that they’ve gone to heaven and the soundtrack is total Floyd. This happens when EMI start a massive reissue campaign that goes way beyond just making the same albums available yet again with a couple of bonus tracks. The first example is The Dark Side Of The Moon (EMI). The real collector’s edition is the six-disc Immersion set, which is simply a remarkable celebration of this iconic album, with so many audio and visual extras you almost feel like you now know the whole story of the making of this landmark record, or as close as you’ll ever get without being in the studio with the band. There are also a double-CD, vinyl and digital formats.
Steve Hackett has enjoyed a considerable revival in his solo fortunes, and this continues with Beyond The Shrouded Horizon (InsideOut). This spans the spectrum of Hackett’s virtuosity and talent. It has classical, jazz, hard rock and folk inflections on a series of songs that’s among the best he’s come up with in what is now a lengthy solo career. This really shows Hackett to his best advantage.
Machine Head have long threatened to make a classic modern metal album. Well, Unto The Locust (Roadrunner) is that beast. The band have thown nothing away from their heritage; you can still hear the thrash and aggression, But what’s been added is an in depth progressive sensibility, and they’re not afraid to show a melody sensitivity. One of the best metal albums of the year, no question.
Aussies Tracer have a neat way of combining 90s stoner/grunge with the more classic hard rock format of the early 1970s. They come across well on Spaces In Between (Mascot). The band write tight songs and deliver with passion and power, as you might expect from any Down Under band. Not exactly in the style for which that country is renowned – of which AC/DC are the prime and primary example – but a strong album.
Kory Clarke has a habit of turning up unexpected results on any album with which he’s associated. And the solo Opium Hotel II (Cargo) lives up to his reputation for being unpredictable. This has the feel of being very personal and agitated, but never to the point of becoming self-indulgent. If you enjoy singer-songwriters with a warped prism on life, this is one to get immediately.
Toxic Federation are a a trash/glam band with a very British slant. Distance couldn’t have been made by an American or Swedish band, but that’s no bad thing. What it lacks in finesse and subtlety is more than made up by vigour and energy. More info: www.toxicfederation.com
Finally, Mastodon continue to prove they’ll always do their own thing on The Hunter (Roadrunner). Anyone expecting a continuation of Crack The Skye is in for something of an awakening. Yes, it’s still progressive metal, but the songs are if anything more melodic and accessible. So, not the massive move towards progression predicted by many, but an excellent album in its own right.