Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators – “World On Fire” (Roadrunner Records / Dik Hayd International)
Soul. This album has got so much soul I’m on emotional overload. Slash of course needs no introduction having amassed 100 million album sales worldwide, seen him awarded a Grammy, been nominated for seven more and inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Along with bionic Alter Bridge vocalist Myles Kennedy these two have become the dynamic duo of modern rock n roll. But even so this album is something else. It simply has so much energy pulsating out’ve it that it positively blazes the essence of true rock like the radiant light of God! Whilst Slash’s first two solo albums were highly respectable affairs that drew from his roots in Guns N Roses, he has hit gold on “World On Fire”, cos it literally does exactly that. Right from the off, the positive upbeat rock riffs coming out’ve Slash’s guitars grab you and start to shake you with irresistible rock n roll energy that will have your jaw dropping at first, then on your feet rockin out. Then Myles Kennedy’s voice comes in and that’s when the epiphany hits you – God and the Devil can rock together – and you are on fire man, rock n roll fire!!!! With seventeen unbelievable tracks “World On Fire” deserves to be up there with the greatest the rock brigade has to offer the world, from outstanding compositions like ‘Beneath The Savage Sun’ to ‘Withered Delilah’ and my personal fave ‘Dirty Girl’. Everyone, and I mean everyone has pulled out the stops on this one from bassist Todd Kerns to drummer Brent Fitz to the stupendous performances of Kennedy’s blessed voice and Slash’s possessed guitar work (undoubtedly the man has the pick of destiny lol – ed) skillfully harnessed by Michael ‘Elvis’ Baskette’s AAA production. It’s damn near the perfect rock n roll album – do not miss this one because without a shadow of a doubt it’s ROCK N ROLL ALBUM OF THE YEAR!!!!!
Cannibal Corpse – “A Skeletal Domain” (Metal Blade Records)
The beast is back. Now onto their bad luck 13th album no less, “A Skeletal Domain” sees world premiere death metal band Cannibal Corpse move into the torture, sado metal that was hitherto the domain of their ex vocalist, the visceral Chris Barnes. Now that he has moved into a somewhat more technical direction, these Buffalo natives who have long been the backbone of US Death Metal haven’t been slow to move to satiate the bloodlust of fans the world over. Sure, these guys have always been associated with gore and opener ‘High Velocity Impact Splatter’ certainly says it all, but listen to ‘Kill Or Become’ and a dark, eerie feel soon becomes evident as George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher’s guttural roaring vocals torment you to ‘…fire up the chainsaw..’ whilst on ‘The Murderer’s Pact’ he wails in anguish ‘..is there no way out..?’. With more high screaming, the violence in his voice has been vividly captured in the predatory material here. Whilst their savagery can be taken for granted – 26 years of bludgeoning brutality has seen to that – Cannibal Corpse have in their maturity evolved into better musicians and song writers without feeling any need to change their core death metal sound – and full credit to them as one of the last original purveyors of gore metal. As a consequence the music these days now sensibly includes plenty of catchy hooks n grooves, and dark melodies in the soloing taking on insane proportions along with wailing tremolos a plenty especially in Pat O’Brien’s guitar work – definitely a man heading into Rick Rozz neo-classical territory. Still open to blast beating like on ‘Blood Stained Cement’, Cannibal Corpse are equally confident to be crushingly slow like on the excellent title track where the unhurried, reverberating guitars add the extra horror dimension amidst OG members Alex Webster’s sophisticated bass runs and Paul Mazurkiewicz’s drumming who’s hitting so hard n fast he could be hammering his way into hell! Older, wiser, but as malevolent as ever before, “A Skeletal Domain” is something diabolical!
Antropomorphia – “Rites Ov Perversion” (Metal Blade Records)
These Tilburg terrors take their cue from the early black / death legends of Death, Autopsy and Hellhammer with dirty, whirring guitars that cut n slice at speed and chop n tear when set to a slower kill mode. Whilst clearly influenced by the old school Antropomorphia aren’t a retro band so the musicianship is a step up from those old pioneering days but rather a modern refinement of that style with a definite emphasis on taking the finer, catchier grooves and rolling them into the violent and occult material that Antropomorphia deal with. It’s something that has drawn the attention of the German authorities, who’ve tried to get their previous album “Evangelivm Nekromantia” banned – with no such luck ha! Even better is that “Rites Ov Perversion” pretty much follows on from that album in style with the only change being the addition of guitarist Jos van den Brand, obviously a Rick Rozz disciple of the neo classical inspired solo, and whose presence can be felt by the evil, heavy ten ton riffs that smash into you like a cascading wall ov death. Making the core sound are undoubtedly the bestial vocals of founder guitarist / composer Ferry Damen that definitely add to the morbid atmosphere of songs like ‘Carved To Pieces’ and ‘Crowned In Smoldering Ash’ whilst the driving bass rhythms of Marc van Stiphout are some of the best I’ve ever heard – put it together with song arranger Marco Stubbe’s possessed drumming and their cover of Death’s ‘Open Casket’ is the best I’ve ever heard, almost conjuring visions of Evil Chuck in his 50s standing before you – if only – which these Dutch shock rockers should be proud of.
Audrey Horne – “Pure Heavy” (Napalm Records)
Despite hailing from Black Metal central namely Bergen, and having members who’ve played in Gorgoroth and Enslaved, Audrey Horne is an altogether mellower affair with hints of hard and stoner rock – although it’s true that the band are named after a character in David Lynch’s cult 90s series Twin Peaks. Clean, multi layered harmony vocals with plenty of oooing and whoa – oh harmonies leaning towards ABBA (well they’re Norwegian right? – ed) groove along to Thin Lizzy melody meets rockin riffs with hints of Iron Maiden in the solos of guitars from Thomas Tofthagen (SAHG) and Arve Isdal (ENSLAVED). Coming out just a year after its predecessor album “Youngblood” the sound is unsurprisingly similar, although aside from the chugging ‘Into The Wild’ and the 70s Kiss anthemic ‘Volcano Girl’ the album is surprisingly lightweight considering the album title, not to mention the revved up album cover. It’s like these songs are the lighter cast offs from last year and the featherweight but organic sound treats them exactly as such, although that’s not a problem if you like your hard rock somewhat chilled in a fjord before being served up. Still I did enjoy the finale of ‘Boy Wonder’ which seemed to brilliantly encapsulate the album from a black metallic opening riff to a cool stoner groove with those beautiful harmonies given an Ozzy touch culminating in a chorus that was made for airplay in the US. I guess that’s the essence of what I always thought Audrey Horne were about, just like their televised namesake a little quirky and too off the wall for some, yet somehow reflecting eccentric brilliance in its veritable cornucopia of sounds?
Iron Reagan – “The Tyranny Of Will” (Relapse Records)
A crossover super group made up of Municipal Waste’s Tony Foresta and Phil Hall, along with Ryan Parrish of Darkest Hour together with members of Mammoth Grinder, Iron Reagan take me right back to the 80s listening to DRI, Cryptic Slaughter and of course – skateboarding! From their mammoth 24 track blitz right through to the raw production this is a fitting enough modern take on that cult sub genre, fans of which are sure to lap up on socio-politically charged songs like ‘Your Kids An Asshole’, ‘Rat Shit’ and the apocalyptic finale of ‘Four More Years‘ – complete with deranged crowd chants as a (piss)take on a Republican convention. Gained from their reputation of leveling audiences the world several times over, Phil Hall and Mark Bronzino‘s guitars are like a high speed punk chop shop while bassist Rob Skotis and Ryan Parrish’s pummeling drumming stomp you asunder amidst Foresta’s off key hollerin’ and throat strained shout outs. Fast, raw and ugly, this was the way it was back then and Iron Reagan are doing it all over again on this in your face debut for Relapse – total punk metal mayhem!
Lord Volture – “Will To Power” (Mausoleum Records)
Now onto their 3rd album, these Dutch Heavy Metallers have a trend of featuring well known guest artists, from Jeff Waters of Annihilator on their debut to Cage’s Sean Peck on their sophomore. A touring regular on the Euro Metal circuit, this time around they’ve chosen legendary ex Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland on “Will To Power” which also happens to be their first signing to cult Belgian label, Mausoleum. Drawing inspiration from Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and more newer bands like Iced Earth, Lord Volture play a straight up meat n potatoes metal that is as unpretentious as it is powerful and passionate. From David Marcelis’s high end vocals that are almost as high as the wailing guitars of his brother Paul, who along with Leon Hermans, kick enough furor out’ve their engine beast riffing matched by the heavy bass lines of Simon Geurts and Frank Wintermans steamhammerin’ drumming. Lord Volture’s rugged metal is complemented by highly tasteful melodies intelligently woven into the chugging riffola, skillful soloing and harmonies. Poland adds his own subtle measure through his jazz fusion signature sound in additional solos that bolster the band through a slightly wild and certainly off the wall vibe as he did in Megadeth, although the band’s sound remains true to their identity throughout the 9 meaty tracks making up this excellent album. Showing an equally wide variety of subject matter lyrically, Lord Volture exhibit both class and intelligence from the epic ‘Taklamakan‘ (presumably named after the vast desert in China) to hitting hard with ‘The Pugilist’ (dedictated to a heavyweight boxing champion) and the bombastic ‘Badajoz’, which is about the 1812 Siege of Badajoz during the Napoleonic Wars – and you can almost hear the cannons pounding thanks to Wintermans! All in all another winner from Lord Volture, a band fast rising up the ranks in the fine spirit that is true to the tradition of Dutch Metal.
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