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ALBUM REVIEW: L.A. Guns – Cocked and Loaded Live

 

The pandemic of course has hit bands hard and no more so than those who make their living from relentless touring. Back on November 28th last year L.A. Guns (the Phil and Tracii version) took to the stage in Las Vegas to rip and tear through the classic second L.A. Guns record ‘Cocked & Loaded’ on the 31st Anniversary. As those that listened in will know the set was streamed live globally and this is what you get here – a live CD of that set featuring two of the classic-era line up of the band. There’s no extras, no other incentive to add this to your collection, not even the Eddie Trunk interview that preceded the stream. In short just a straight to CD live set.

As live albums go of course it’s got some pretty good material to run through so you can’t complain with songs like ‘Rip and Tear’, ‘Never Enough’, ‘The Ballad of Jayne’, ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ and ‘Malaria’ all on here and all released as singles back in the day. The band also sounds great bearing in mind the months of inactivity that preceded it. So if you’re looking for a live version of that great album look no further…

For me though there’s a few niggles here such as the omission of the albums short and sweet opener ‘Letting Go’ – why? It’s a minute long song that I love to hear every time I play the record and one which I was even hoping they might expend here!

More annoyingly perhaps for some there’s the shoe-horning in of recent song ‘Speed’ (from 2017’s ‘Missing Peace’ album) between ‘Give a Little’ and ’17 Crash’ where the ‘I’m Addicted’ guitar solo was on the original record. That raises a few questions – firstly it makes you wonder if they’re already writing off latest outing ‘The Devil You Know’ released in 2019? I’m mean ‘Speed’ is a decent song (and certainly ‘of the era’ sonically) but who wouldn’t rather have another of the songs from the ‘Cocked and Loaded’ era in there? Secondly why isn’t that two minute solo isn’t in here? Sure its pretty throwaway but it’s part of the album. Ironically of course in these days of streaming they’d both generate income!

For me in the end a record has to do what it says on the can and for me this is L.A. Guns – ‘Almost all of Cocked and Loaded Live’ (or as an even more pedantic fan pointed out it should actually be called ‘Cocked & Loaded Live’.)

If you’re a fan like me though you’ll no doubt want this but probably like me you’ll wish they’d just done a little bit more to reward you. I mean surely the band would have made more selling downloads of the show at the time? Or releasing this on video maybe?

A new studio album is due in Autumn.

7/10 

TRACKLIST: 1  Slap In The Face | 2  Rip And Tear | 3  Sleazy Come Easy Go | 4  Never Enough | 5  Malaria | 6  The Ballad Of Jayne | 7  Magdalaine | 8  Give A Little | 9  Speed | 10  17 Crash | 11  Showdown (Riot On Sunset) | 12  Wheels Of Fire | 13  I Wanna Be Your Man

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The post ALBUM REVIEW: L.A. Guns – Cocked and Loaded Live appeared first on The Rockpit.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Farcry – Balance

 

Oh how I’ve missed you FarCry! And what an uplifting message to the title track that comes rushing out of the speakers to greet you like an old friend (albeit with a new voice)! FarCry is indeed back with album number three a massive ten years after their last release – the wonderful and in retrospect ironically titled ‘Optimism’! Shortly after that release of course vocalist Mark Giovi left the band and in 2013 the band ground to a halt with guitarist Pete Fry calling time. But if you have the calling to Rock and Roll then it’s hard to ignore and in 2015 Fry teamed up with new vocalist Bob Malone for a project that eventually, though not intended at the time, retained the name FarCry. And here it is album number three…

FarCry 2021 is a different beast to the original vintage though and whist the songs capture the feel good Melodic Rock sound of the previous two releases the 2021 line-up retains only Mr. Fry (remember though that ‘Optimism’ saw a new rhythm section and added a second guitarist). who here lays down some sublie guitar and more than memorable solos.

‘Stay Away’ is a great song and along with the opener makes you realise how much we’ve missed the band; and ‘I’ll Find the Way’ a slower number that turns into a tasty mid-tempo rocker that follows gets thigs off to a great start. The deeper you dig though the more you realise there is something missing though, and whilst we get the melodies, the great riffs and the harmonies we’ve come to expect there’s something that doesn’t quite click. If I’m honest I’m not sure exactly what it is and when ‘I Am Your Man’ kicks in, which just happens to be one of the best here, it’s the last thing from your mind.

There’s certainly plenty to love here and whilst Bob might not quite have the punchiness of his predecessor he pulls off the songs in his own inimitable style. Stuff like the more metallic ‘Reaper’ is pretty cool and I think actually suits his voice better than some here. Along with that and the opening salvo my favourites would have to be the smooth commercial sounding ‘Broken Dream’, the feel good ‘Chasing Rainbows’ which I must admit I love, but I’m not such a big fan of the upfront vocal which seems to dominate the mix; and closer ‘Weight of the World’ which adds a nice eclectic ending. Welcome back!

7.5/10

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ALBUM REVIEW: Buckcherry – Hellbound

Buckcherry - Hellbound

Well I’ve got my signed orange vinyl on the way how about you?

As someone who was there at the start over the years Buckcherry have released some stunning albums, countless more than memorable singles and if you’ve seen them live then you’ll know that being out there on stage is what its all about. Whilst 2021 finds frontman Josh Todd (check out our latest interview about the album) may be the only remaining member sonically the remains in the business of  failing to slow down and here on ‘Hellbound’ spectacularly failing to compromise on quality and directness.

There’s no better way to start, let’s face it, than with ‘5-4-3-2-1’ a song that announces loudly and proudly that Rock is back and more importantly so is Buckcherry with a cracking new album made to be played loud and  a tout that starts in June and runs almost to December! It’s the sort of direct party rock hit with a dirty underside that the band are known for and sounds all the more awesome when you know that the single ‘So Hott’ is up next – a song in the vein of all of those sing along classics and one that gets more infectious the more you’re exposed!

Indeed June 25th can’t come soon enough as Hellbound keeps on pumping out the Rock and Roll outrageousness you should expect from these reprobates.  The 10-track record was produced by Marti Frederiksen, who previously produced ‘Black Butterfly’, and co-wrote one of their biggest hits ‘Sorry’ – here he contributes even more – co-writing half the album in Nashville with vocalist Josh Todd and guitarist Stevie D in a burst of condensed energy.  Sitting on this since November must have been so hard!

Title track ‘Hellbound’ sees Todd look back at what got him onto this crazy train in the first place with an AC/DC groove and wonderful breakdown to boot. The Aerosmith-flavoured ‘Gun’ (a favourite of mine) follows with a cast iron groove before teh funkier and grittier ‘No More Lies’ has you gasping for breath! This really is relentless!

The second half of the record (yes this does sit beautifully on vinyl) starts out with the angry, hard rocking ‘Here I Come’ just to make sure you’re not flagging and that shot of adrenaline is followed by ‘Junk’ which flows off the back of a huge riff and a chorus to make you jump , before the beautifully contrasting smoky ballad ‘No More Lies’ underlines the fact that Buckcherry always pulls out a killer slower number without fail. It’s a song that really catches the feel of the early albums and sports some killer lyrics to boot.

‘The Way’ the second ballad on the album is arguably even more catchy and sees Todd wringing out all the emotion he can squeeze from it – it’s gonna rival some of the other slow moments over the years for many and Stevie pulls out the solo of the album just to crown it! And far too soon we’re left with one – closing track ‘Barricades’ a mature mid-tempo rocker that mixes it up nicely even infusing a reggae feel in the verse before a dramatic chorus and wonderful breakdown. It’s a song that has so much going on you’ll love each moment and again the guitars just sizzle! It’s often said I know, but this is a great way to close.

This is Buckcherry like you love them, loud, sleazy and ready to Rock you off your feet!

9/10

 

After cancelling over 100 shows in 2020 due to COVID, the band is planning extensive touring commencing in June and continuing through 2021 and 2022. Current confirmed dates are below.

Buckcherry Tour Dates

6/1 — Kansas City, MO —Uptown Theatre
6/2 — Wichita, KS — Cotillion
6/4 — Kearney, NE — Joe’s Honkey Tonk
6/5 — Denver, CO — The Venue
6/6 — Colorado Springs, CO — Sunshine Studios
6/8 — Grand Junction, CO — Mesa Theatre
6/10 — Minot, ND — The Original Bar and Grill
6/11 — Scottsbluff, NE — Shots Bar and Grill
6/12 — Des Moines, IA — Val Air Ballroom
6/13 — St Louis, MO — Pops
6/15 — Cedar Park, TX — Haute Spot
6/16 — San Antonio, TX — Rock Box
6/18 — Corpus Christi, TX — Brewster’s
6/19 — Ft Worth, TX — Rail Club
6/20 — Tyler, TX — Country River Club
6/25 — Texarkana, AR — Crossties
6/26 — Houston, TX — Outdoor Warehouse Live
6/28 — Ft Smith, AR — Temple Live
6/29 — Huntsville, AL — Shagnasty’s
7/1 — Kansasville, WI — 1175
7/2 — Evansville, IN — KC’s Marina Point
7/3 — Hannibal, MO — National Tom Sawyer Day
7/5 — Lancaster, NY — Lancaster Motorsports Park
7/7 — Pittsburgh, PA — Vinoski Winery
7/9 — Gettysburg, PA — Gettysburg Bike Week
7/10 — Streator, IL — Streator July 4 Fest
7/14 — Omaha, NE — Barnato Lounge
7/16 — Joplin, MO — Guitars
7/17 — Chickasaw, OK — Legends Event Park
7/19 — Memphis, TN — Lafayette’s Music Room
7/20 — Baton Rouge, LA — Basin Music Hall
7/21 — Jay, OK — MAO Event Center
7/23 — Chesterfield, MI — Diesel
7/24 — Grover Hill, OH — Whetzel Motor Rally
7/25 — Cincinnati, OH —Riverfront Live
7/30 — Columbus, OH — King of Clubs
7/31 — Marietta, Oh — Adelphia Music Hall
8/1 — Indianapolis, IN — Hi Fi ANNEX
8/3 — Madison, WI — Majestic
8/5 — Dubuque, IA — Five Flags Event Center
8/10 — Columbia, MO — Blue Note
8/14 — Inwood, WV — Shiley Acres
8/15 — Knoxville, TN — Cotton Eye Joe’s
8/17 — Hobart, IN — Hobart Theatre
8/19 — Ft Wayne, IN — Pieres
8/20 — Lombard, IL — Brauerhouse
8/21 — Escanaba, MI — UP State Fair – Grandstand
8/22 — Green Bay, WI — Epic Event Center
8/27 — Fountain, MN — Beaver Bottoms Saloon
8/28 — Walker, MN — Northern Lights Casino
8/31 — West Peoria, IL — Crusens
9/1 — Lexington, KY — Manchester Music Hall
9/3 — Nashville, TN — Brooklyn Bowl
9/4 — Charlotte, NC — Park Expo Center
9/5 — Chattanooga, TN — The Signal
9/7 — Ardmore, OK — Heritage Hall
9/10 — Flandreau, SD — Royal River City
9/12 — Flint, MI — Machine Shop
9/14 — Cleveland, OH — HOB
9/15 — Syracuse, NY — Sharkey’s Event Center
9/17 — Hampton Beach, NH — Wally’s
9/18 — Blackthorne, NY — Blackthorne Fest
9/24 — Santa Clarita, CA — Canyon Club
9/25 — Agoura Hills, CA — Canyon Club
9/26 — Montclair, CA — Canyon Club
9/28 — Tempe, AZ — Marquee
9/30 — Salt Lake City, UT — Royal
10/1 — Cheyenne, WY — Outlaw
10/2 — Billings, MT — Pub Station
10/4 — Seattle, WA — El Corazon
10/5 — Vancouver, BC — Rickshaw
10/7 — Calgary, AB — Eagle Event Center
10/8 — Dawson Creek, BC — Encana Event Center
10/9 — Edmonton, AB — Century Casino
10/11 — Red Deer, AB — Bo’s Bar Stage
10/12 — Saskatoon, SK — Coors Event Center
10/14 — Regina, SK — Conexus Art Center
10/15 — Winnipeg, MB — Burton Cummings Theatre
10/18 — Thunder Bay, ON — NV Music Hall
10/19 — Sault Ste Marie, ON — SOO Blasters
10/21 — Sudbury, ON — The Grand
10/22 — London, ON — London Music Hall
10/23 — Ottawa, ON — Barrymore’s
10/25 — Halifax, NS — Marquee
10/26 — Moncton, NB — Tide and Boar
10/27 — Moncton, NB — Tide and Boar
10/30 — Hampton Beach, NH — Wally’s
10/31 — Portland, ME — Aura
11/2 — New Bedford, MA — Vault at Greasy Luck
11/4 — Norwalk, CT — Wall Street Theater
11/5 — Sayreville, NJ — Starland Ballroom
11/6 — Wantagh, NY — Mulcahy’s
11/8 — Baltimore, MD — The Recher
11/9 — Harrisburg, PA — Club XL
11/10 — Jacksonville, NC — Hooligans

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ALBUM REVIEW: Midnite City – Itch You Can’t Scratch

Midnite City - Itch You Can't Scratch

 

2021 has seen some great albums already, and after Midnite City unwittingly became one of the last international acts a lot of us Australia Rock fans saw back in March last year, hearing something new from them was always something to eagerly anticipate whilst we wait for their return! But coming up with a album mid-pandemic that would stand head and shoulders against their first two releases was always going to be a tough proposition wasn’t it?

In the world of Modern 80’s flavoured Melodic Rock there are of course a number of big names when you look at the European scene: most notably perhaps Eclipse and H.E.A.T. then there’s Crazy Lixx, Rekkless Love and bands like The New Roses and Black Diamonds, not to mention a host of other bands that tick a lot of those boxes like W.E.T., Dynazty, Brother Firetribe, Kissin’ Dynamite, the list goes on. And all that of course without even mentioning the greats of the era who are still out there putting great music either in the same guise or a variation of the same; or the bands that fall into a Sleazier category like Crashdiet and co.

If you’re simply looking for Arena sized acts though of course those days are sadly gone, but the sound certainly isn’t. So if you crave the sounds of that golden era from early Bon Jovi and Def Leppard to Poison and Whitesnake there are arguably bands out there right now who would have been huge 30 odd years ago. For me three albums in Midnite City are right at the top of that tree and here’s why…

When you have behind you a bunch of  gems like ‘Here Comes the Party’, ‘You Don’t Understand Me’, ‘Summer of Our Lives’ and ‘Give Me Love’ it’s hard to imagine writing songs that could replace them in the setlist, but the problem with ‘Itch You Can’t Scratch’ is that it’s in danger of squeezing out some of your favourite Midnite City tunes from the setlist! It’s the best of positions to be in of course!

‘Itch You Can’t Scratch’ could well be the band’s best record yet, and rather than stay safe and deliver a collection to replicate the eponymous ‘Midnite City’ and ‘There Goes the Neighbourhood’ we see the band pushing a few boundaries and taking a few risks. The best examples of that are probably two of the three singles released in the lead up – ‘Crawlin’ In the Dirt’ with it’s harder edge and ‘They Only Come Out at Night’  with its darker cinematic feel and lush layered melodies which take the song in a wonderful new direction (love that video!)

Opening with the first two singles of the three already released though might be the only slight misstep here, but it does on the other hand build the anticipation as you hit ‘play’ or drop the needle in the groove of you have the vinyl! ‘Crawlin’ In The Dirt’ of course is delightfully heavy and the inescapable groove of the Danger Danger-meets Def Leppard ‘Atomic’ really does hit the spot. The problem for album fans is that with the release of a third single – ‘They Only Come Out at Night’ before drop day – there’s almost a third of the ten songs here already out there in the wild. But it’s a minor niggle.

The first ‘new’ track the mid-tempo ‘Fire Inside’ is one of the things Midnite City do best – write a song with a huge set of wings that just lift you up and let you look down on all that’s good with the world, it’s a real mood lifter made to sing along to. ‘Darkest Before the Dawn’ that follows ups the pace slightly and sports a chorus that just clicks beautifully.

Those gems are quickly followed by the majestic build of  ‘I Don’t Need Another Headache’ – another winner swamped in lush melody and equal Pop Rock nous, before the ‘let it all rip’ party rock wail of  ‘Blame It On Your Lovin” kicks in,. It’s a helluva introduction to the real meat of the album and if you already love the band you’ll be beaming from ear to ear! If this is all new to you you’ll be in Hard Rock heaven.

Third single ‘They Only Come Out At Night’ follows, it’s a composition of real maturity, and man those guitars! Resting against the harder-edged rocker ‘Change Of A Lifetime’ which it’s a wonderful one-two punch.

With the first two records sporting 11 tracks (plus an alternate take making 12 on the Japanese releases) the ten tracks of ‘Itch’ do seem to breeze by, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing when there’s no weak links in sight, and of course we do  appreciate that it’s all about fitting the album on that single vinyl!

We hit the home stretch with one of my highlights – the ballad ‘If It’s Over’ which is beautifully orchestrated piano and show-stopping refrain – it’s a song that just captures a feeling we’ve all felt and realizes it beautifully. We close Midnite City’s third long-player with the good time ‘blue sky’ rock of ‘Fall To Pieces’ and yet another unforgettable refrain.
The Japanese CD version of the album adds an 11th song – the rather fittingly titled ‘Girls of Tokyo’ which if I’m honest’ doesn’t quite have the immediacy of the rest of the songs here but that’s more of a comment on the quality of the release than a song which in lesser hands could easily be a high point…
Almost 15 moths after their last live show at the Melodic Rock Fest in Melbourne Australia there seems to be finally light at the end of the tunnel with live dates booked and a Festival in my old backyard just weeks away  – and believe me this is a record that needs to be heard live and loud! Man that Festival set list is going to be hard! If you’ve been itching for some world beating Melodic Hard Rock – your itch has been well and truly scratched!
9/10

Midnite City consisting of lead vocalist Rob Wylde, drummer Pete Newdeck, lead guitarist Miles Meakins, keyboardist Shawn Charvette and bassist Josh ‘Tabbie’ Williams will be releasing their third full-length studio album Itch You Can’t Scratch via Roulette Media on May 28th 2021.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Fear Factory – Aggression Continuum

Fear Factory - Aggression Continuum

 

Longtime industrial metal veterans Fear Factory are finally back with new music after what seemed like a long time since their previous album “Genexus” was released back in 2015. Of course it’s well documented as to what the delay was and while we won’t get details here, it’s unfortunate that this album “Aggression Continuum” will be the final work to feature vocalist Burton C. Bell, at least for the forseeable future. Many questions were thrown around surrounding this album, the release, the vocals and the future of the band but as seen in our interview with guitarist Dino Cazares, there is a future albeit a slightly different one and given just how strong this new album is, we think it will be a bright future at that.

 

We get straight to business as it’s been 30 years since Fear Factory exploded onto the world with their unique brand of industrial tinged groove metal. Still to this day there is no band that comes close to sounding like them, putting them in a spot that forever cements them as a truly revolutionary band.

Opening track “Recode” warms things up with the words “The world we know has suffered from the system we once knew“, a very poignant look at not only the world today but even at the band themselves. Burton’s first line “Imagine your life taken from you” is almost revelatory in a manner of speaking, the cinematic intro and signature sounds of Fear Factory blasting through in an attempt to capture the true essence of the band. That signature is utilised well with the first verse heavy and mechanical and the chorus melodic in nature, giving a slight “Obsolete” feel.

Disruptor” is one that is already familiar to people as it’s the first single released, again the trademark swinging grooves and catchy chorus lines a stark reminder of just how brilliant this band can be. We move to the title track “Aggression Continuum” for what could be one of the highlights of the album, it’s “Industrialist” feel and mechanical groove is solid and a real fun one to listen to. And like in “Genexus”, there’s little throwbacks to some of their earlier work that while probably not intentional, is nice to hear and gives that little extra authenticity about it to further cement their well known signature sound.

Purity” feels like a potential live hit, it’s a melodic number but with a bit of that “Linchpin” vibe about it. Second single “Fuel Injected Suicide Machine” is another brilliant piece with the mid-section blowing right into a bit of the past for that vintage Fear Factory.

Collapse” is perhaps one of the more different tracks on here although certainly not outside of the usual Fear Factory world. Lot’s of staccato induced structures and massive heavy breakdowns makes this another stand out track. “Manufactured Hope” brings some more vintage aspects again, the keyboards especially really accentuating certain parts of the verses to really elevate this song to a higher level.

We come towards the tail end of the album and looking through the album so far, there’s definitely an aggressive feel about this whole thing despite plenty of the melodic elements. The production is much the same as on “Genexus” so this subsequently sounds like a continuation of that album while also retaining much of the band’s earlier sounds for that extra muscle. A lot of focus will of course be on Burton’s vocals and here he sounds as raw and as vicious as ever. Boy will he be missed, especially after this album but if you’re going to leave a mark, this couldn’t have been a more fitting way to do it.

In our recent interview with Dino it was revealed that the drums were indeed recorded live by Mike Heller and it shows given the more fluid and organic nature of the drum tracks. Initially it was programmed much like “The Industrialist” but the result here shows just how important live drum tracking can still be.

Cognitive Dissonance” brings us a step closer to the end with a dynamically charged track but one of the show stealers on this album comes in the form of “Monolith“. The name may sound familiar as there was rumors of the album title being this name but whatever the case may be in terms of the name, the song itself is a beast and stands as one of the strongest tracks on the album. Despite it’s somewhat more mellower nature and less of the aggressiveness of much of the previous songs, “Monolith” just has a brilliant groove among the melodic passages that just seems to really hold your attention that makes you truly appreciate the depth of Fear Factory. The bonus here is the guitar solo towards the end which is quite a rarity for this band, but one that actually fits quite well here.

The album ends with the fitting “End Of Line” and much like many of the band’s previous albums, traditionally rings out with an instrumentally dramatic end but not before giving it one last push of the heavy stuff. Say what you will about Fear Factory but they have made it this far and are still able to produce such brilliant music which cannot be said about a lot of bands that have been around for as long as they have. “Aggression Continuum” may very well be a landmark album in some respect with Burton C. Bell’s final vocal delivery but it also means a new beginning for the band as clearly there’s still much to come from Fear Factory.

10/10

 

TRACKLIST

Recode
Disruptor
Aggression Continuum
Purity
Fuel Injected Suicide Machine
Collapse
Manufactured Hope
Cognitive Dissonance
Monolith
End Of Line

 

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ALBUM REVIEW: Airforce – Strike Hard

Airforce goes way back – back indeed to NWOBHN and early Iron Maiden’s drummer Doug Sampson who played with them from 1977-1979. He left Maiden and formed Airforce but the band called it a day without leaving a recording behind. There were a number of regroupings over the years but it took a few decades before ‘Judgement Days’ in 2016. Now as we are into the next decade comes the second full length with new vocalist Flavio Lino (discovered in ‘Iron Beast’ a Portuguese, wait for it… Iron Maiden cover band!)…

Whilst that first record was rather a collection of songs from over the years and featured a number of vocalists this one is more coherent and whilst there is a single guitar rather than the twin guitar you might expect the sound is VERY NWOBHM as the album sounds like the technological advances of the last few decades haven’t happened!

Sonically this is a rather mid-tempo affair that rather tan take a queue from Maiden sounds more like other NWOBHM acts like Saxon, Diamond Head or Tygers of Pang Tang. And whilst it does hint at Maiden at times like on opener ‘Fight’ or ‘Finest Hour’ it’s more Lino’s Dickinson meets Geoff Tate vocal that draws you into comparisons. As a whole there’s generally more groove at play here than you’d find on a Maiden album.

Interestingly Paul Di’Anno pops up on vocals for ‘Don’t Look into her Eyes’ – a demi-reunion of sorts that sound rather like early-era Queensryche. It’s tracks like the Sabbathy ‘Son of the Damned’ and the powerful ballad ‘Wargames’ though that really stand out.

Worthy of your attention, not just a nostalgia trip.

 

  

Fight | Die for You | Son of the Damned | The Reaper | Finest Hour | Don’t Look in Her Eyes | I Feel Your Pain | War Games | Band of Brothers |The War Inside | Faith Healer

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ALBUM REVIEW: Sinsid ‎– Enter the Gates

 

First of all I must apologise for getting to this so late! It’s a case of a long lost bag resurfacing with what turned out are some great music within! Formed in 2012 Sinsid is a band with a heap of influences from blues to rock and many shades of either – but essentially they play a brand of what many might know as traditional Heavy Metal! Debuting with the promising ‘Mission from Hell’ in 2018 they’re back two years on with the even more rewarding ‘Enter the Gates’…

This really is the sound of a band that has a long and pedigree so Sinsid’s relative youth is surprising when they can come up with material as good as that displayed here. What you get is nine no frills head bangers, great musicianship and plenty of hooks.  Take opener ‘Rise of Fury/Enter the Gates’  a real fist pumping head banging combination which starts things off extremely satisfyingly and along with the fiery ‘Fighting With Fire’ and the hard as nails ‘Hail to the Gods’ its in good company, and all fight for the honours here. To be honest though competition is stiff here and every track has its merits.

It’s the fist-pumping ‘Dawn of Night’ and its beautifully captured traditional sound and the epic closer ‘Freedom of the Sea’ though that might shade it for some. This is nothing you haven’t heard before but its just so satisfying to hear it done so well.

Official Website

Tracklisting: 1. Rise of Fury | 2. Enter the Gates | 3. Fighting with Fire | 4. Hail to the Gods | 5. Point of no Return | 6. 666 | 7. Dawn of Night | 8. Roll the Dice | 9. Freedom of the Sea

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ALBUM REVIEW: Hollowed Sky – Unstrung

 

Released on February 26th, ‘Unstrung’ isn’t a new long player from Hollowed Sky, but rather a collection of their most definitive songs, completely remixed and remastered by the band themselves. And if you’re new to the band like I was a couple of years back then I can’t think of a better introduction to their brand of Alt Rock with tones of Grunge and the occasional Metallic thrust.

What you get here is a remixed four songs from the debut EP and the entire ‘Strings’ EP remixed – a release that the band was not entirely happy with as far as production went. I must admit it always puzzles me a little when bands do this – essentially meld together two EP’s to create an album from them – and I can’t help feeling sorry for the three songs that didn’t make it from that first EP – the rather ‘Live-like’ ‘Breaking Bread’ in particular I thought was worth inclusion.

Reviewing the second EP not that long ago on the site it would seem trite to run through those songs again, only to add that they do sound enhanced here and ‘Strings’ which opened that EP and now opens the album particularly benefits – it’s a hard rocker that has a nice crunchy riff drives it all the way to the solo and gives you the perfect wake-up call.

Similarly the other tracks from that EP benefit from teh make-over: ‘This Hell’ keeps that nice momentum; whilst ‘Bleeding Out’ throws in a nice accent of something punkier and more metallic, whilst the powerful ‘Turning Ill’ still stands out for me, as does the epic ‘Baltimore’ a wonderfully passionate song and still the standout for me.

The four songs plucked from the debut too benefit from the remixing but maybe less so. ‘Breathing Life into the Sun’ still sounds impressively grand in stature; whilst ‘Head in the Fence’ just rides a riff frenzy to a fist-pumping climax! The other two songs honestly are just as good – the wonderful ‘Soviet Red’  was probably my favoutrite from that first EP and it’s one of the best still; and ‘Earth & Sky’ maybe the bands most adventurous song musically veering into Prog territory which I’m sure would see it a great live song.

Great band, great sound and a nice Covid rebirthing!

7.5 /10

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ALBUM REVIEW: Mother Road – Drive (Remastered)

 

Love this one! Imagine a band that takes as primary influences early Whitesnake, Hughes Coverdale era Deep Purple, Free and Bad Co and ends up like a more guitar oriented Cry of Love with a touch of Badlands and Zeppelin – sounds like you thing? Well the good news is that this is an album for you – the bad news is this is simply a remaster of the record you should have picked up seven years ago when it was released in May 2014! The good news is the mix sounds great here so if you’re late to the party grab one now as well as the just released second album – the imaginatively titled ‘II’…

Opener ‘The Sun Will Shine Again’ is all you really need to hear to make up that mind but the rest is all Classic 70’s sounding fare. We don’t normally review remastered records but this is definitely worth a listen from the groove of ‘Feather In Your Hat’ replete which huge keys, to the real hard rock and roll of ‘Out Of My Mind’ all the way to ,the bluesy ‘Drive Me Crazy’ (love that guitar) and the more reflective ‘These Shoes’ and its touch of early Whitesnake.

There’s plenty more to love here though with ‘Dirty Little Secret’ soulful and easy on the ear, ‘Blue Eyes’ too has a wonderful Black Crowes feel with that swell of keys whilst the stripped back sounds of ‘On My Way’ is one of those wonderful songs that builds into a swirl of sounds. It’s maybe my current favourite here.

Great Bluesy Hard Rock. A real class act…

8.5/10

Tracklist: 01 The Sun Will Shine Again, 02 Feather In Your Head, 03 Drive Me Crazy, 04 Out Of My Mind, 05 Dirty Little Secret, 06 Poor Boy (Long Way Out), 07 Dangerous Highway, 08 These Shoes, 09 Blue Eyes, 10 Still Rainin’, 11 On My Way

Line-Up: Keith Slack – vocals | Chris Lyne – guitar, backing vocals | Frank Binke – bass | Alessandro Del Vecchio – Keyboards | Zacky Tsoukas – drums

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ALBUM REVIEW: Tommy Bolin – Shake the Devil – The Lost Tapes

 

Searing guitar, horns, a funky groove and a lot of fuzzy noise in the background are the best of things here as we kick things off with a remix of Tommy’s ‘Shake the Devil’ the title track of this new dig into the archives. Releasing only two albums (the outtakes from the latter ‘Private Eyes’ make up this recording) before his untimely death it appears that the ‘lost recordings’ are almost the last of what isn’t already out there. So as a fan how does this compilation rate? Well it’s not bad but its not perfect either.

Case in point that wonderful opener sounds very like the original, as does ‘Bustin’ Out For Rosey’ which follows – now I’m sure fans will appreciate the subtleties but to these ears there’s little to set those (which incidentally are tow of teh best here) apart,

Elsewhere it really is a mixed bag. There’s a nice stringless outtake of ‘Hello Again’ – a song that really underlines the promise Bolin had that sadly was cut short too soon. The outtake of ‘Gypsy Soul’ is interesting  and a little ‘loungy’ (as are the other two takes especially the acoustic demo), and I don’t mind the alternate take on ‘Sweet Burgundy.’

The real interest however comes in things like the Instrumental demos (for there are two) of  ‘Someday Will bring Our Love Home’ which open your eyes to the original whilst the instrumental of ‘You Told Me That You Love Me’ that follows is one probably best left ‘lost’! Sadly on occasion the lo-fi tape hiss does get disappointing and these days you’d think a little more could have been done without materially altering things too much.

If you’re a fan this is of course a must have. If you’re a casual yet to take a dip I suggest some of the superior compilations first.

7/10

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