Classic Rock’s New Releases Round-Up
This week, there’s lots of prog. Plus the return of Peter Frampton, a Dio covers album, and some metal from Devil Sold His Soul and Hellyeah…Words: Malcolm Dome
There’s currently a massive surge in prog rock compilations. Two almost share the same title. We have Wondrous Stories – 33 Artists That Shaped The Prog Rock Era and Wondrous Stories – A Complete Introduction To Progressive Rock. Confusingly, both are on Universal. The former is a double CD featuring the usual suspects (Yes, Jethro Tull, Peter Gabriel, Marillion et al), plus a couple of surprises. Andrew Lloyd Webber?!
The latter is a four-CD box set, expertly put together by Classic Rock Presents Prog editor Jerry Ewing. It really does live up to its billing as an exhaustive guide to the myriad delights of prog.
There’s also another double CD collection on Universal. Space Hymns: An Introduction To Prog Rock has again been compiled by Master Ewing, and is a better collection than 33 Artists That Shaped The Prog Rock Era. Still, riches galore for prog fans.
Whatever he does, Peter Frampton will always live in the shadow of that mega 70s album Frampton Comes Alive. But new album Thank you Mr Churchill (Eagle) is his best studio release in a couple of decades. There’s some great virtuoso playing from the man, who’s always been undervalued as a guitarist, plus some nicely constructed songs which are both mature yet enthused. Good value
Devil Sold His Soul have come up with a fascinating album in Blessed & Cursed (Century Media). It combines some very heavy music and lyrics with ambient progression. It’s dense, dark, doomy but highly listenable. One for fans of Isis, Baroness and Kylesa. Gloomily gloriously
Hellyeah have really come on smartly since their self-titled, debut album in 2007. Second album Stampede (Spinefarm) takes them away from being just a collection of high profile musos, associated with bands like Pantera, Mudvayne, Damageplan and Nothingface. They now sound like a truly inspired band. Think Down with a little more metal bit, and you’ve got it.
Jorn Lande has caused some controversy with his album Dio (Frontiers). A collection of covers associated with Ronnie James Dio, some have seen it as a cynical cash-in. In his defence, Lande recorded this before the man’s tragic death last month. And he’s done a respectable job on songs from Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Dio – and he’s not totally gone for the obvious choices. There’s also one original here, Song For Ronnie James, which isn’t as cringing as it might have been.
Incidentally, Lande will be one of two guest vocalists when Heaven Hell do a Dio tribute set at the High Voltage Festival on July 24. That tells you he’s held in high esteem by those who matter. The other singer’s Glenn Hughes, by the way.
Veteran NWOBHMers Cloven Hoof stay resolutely in shape on Throne Of Damnation (EM Music). It’s a five-song EP that could easily have been released in 1981. You know what you get with the Hoof – that very British, anthemic proto power metal approach.
Stephen Dale Petit almost comes up with a good album on The Crave (333 Records). The problem is that his entertaining modern blues-rock groove all too often suffers from his insistence on guitar showboating. Why let the melody talk for itself when you can add in a surfeit of superfluous solos. The man can play, granted. Trouble is, he knows it and insists on proving the point throughout. Shame, because there are some really good songs here.
Metallic Dawning (AFM) is pure power metal glory. It’s a double CD compilation featuring 32 tracks in all, from names like U.D.O., Nightwish, Sabaton, Ross The Boss and Jon Oliva’s Pain. Fine showcase for the label. It’s gumbie mania. All we need are a free sew-on patch and studded wristband. You gotta love it.
Tags: Baroness, Black Sabbath, Classic Rock Presents Prog, Cloven Hoof, Damageplan, Devil Sold His Soul, Dio, Glenn Hughes, Heaven & Hell, Hellyeah, High Voltage, Isis, Jethro Tull, Jon Oliva's Pain, Jorn Lande, Kylesa, Marillion, Mudvayne, Nightwish, Nothingface, Pantera, Peter Frampton, Peter Gabriel, Rainbow, Ronnie James Dio, Ross the Boss, Sabaton, stephen dale petit, U.D.O., Yes