Vista Chino – “Peace”

Vista Chino – “Peace” (Napalm Records)

The legacy of Kyuss lives on! Following the legal debacle in respect of the Kyuss Lives! name, John Garcia, Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri are now free to continue under their new band Vista Chino, reputedly named after a street Bjork grew up around. In many ways it also takes the band back to the roots of their music i.e. desert rock although “Peace” – as the title suggests – is a somewhat more laid back affair owing more to psychedelic rock with jamming that is almost jazz like and even incorporating harmonicas! With heaps of humming feedback amidst ambient tranquility, trippy wailing guitars, fuzz tinged bass and Garcia’s high end vocals songs like ‘Good Morning Wasteland’, ‘Planets 1 & 2’ and ‘The Gambling Moose’ simply cruise groovily into the next dimension – if Kyuss was 70s, then Vista Chino is a throwback to the late 60s and definitely far out baby…. Continue reading

ReVamp – “Wild Card”

ReVamp – “Wild Card” (Nuclear Blast Records)

Floor Jansen needs no introduction: the former vocalist of cult Dutch band After Forever, the members of which went on to form Epica, she then formed her own group – ReVamp – releasing their self titled debut in 2010. Sadly, after heavy touring took its toll in 2011, Floor suffered a burnout but nevertheless continued to write material while she recuperated. In 2012, she received an offer to sing for Nightwish, which led to the postponement of this album, but it’s been well worth the wait. Firstly, Jansen’s power simply kicked my nuts with her amazing vocals – ranging from operatic to soprano to growls – I guess she’s clearly recovered ouch! Secondly the music itself has a tremendous amount of energy and passion, literally unleashing itself in an eclectic mix of goth rock like on ‘Amendatory’ to the djent of ‘Wolf And Dog’ and even a look back to the symphonic metal of ‘Distorted Lullabies’. Floor has done a fine job in recruiting her new band, who do commendable task of staying on her musical merry go round – along with guest musicians ranging from Devin Townsend to Marcela Bovio (Stream of Passion) and Daniël de Jongh (Textures). “Wild Card” certainly lives up to it’s name in every aspect – not in the least heralding the amazing comeback of Holland’s leading femme vocalist extraordinaire! Continue reading

Ohrenfeindt – “Auf Die Fresse Ist Umsonst”

Ohrenfeindt – “Auf Die Fresse Ist Umsonst” (AFM Records)

lol – roughly translated as “in your face free of charge”, this is the 5th album from this rough n ready St Pauli crew blitzing Hamburg’s (red) lights, sleaze n booze with their equally apt style of hard bar room rock. Needless to say, Bon Scott era AC/DC and Rose Tattoo are the main drivers here from the alcohol shredded vocals of According to Chris (yep, that’s his handle) to the dirty blues riffs n slide along with swanky solos made to make a stripper blush. Despite singing in German songs like ‘Rock’n’Roll Sexgöttin’ and ‘Durch die Nacht’ capture the essence of hard living with one foot in the gutter as vividly as the lurid neon of St Pauli’s strip clubs and street hookers. Still, the essence of life flickering back the morning after is equally well portrayed in the quiet acoustic instrumental of the optimistic, uplifting ‘Egal’. Gotta admit, I’d never of these guys before, but this is a fine slice of rock n roll that comes only from the experience of actually living that life to the full – and Ohrenfeindt have to the max. Continue reading

Niva – “Magnitude”

Niva – “Magnitude” (AOR Heaven)

An AOR legend in Japan, Sweden’s Tony Niva has been in the melodic rock business since he first starting singing back in the mid 80s. Although cutting his teeth in bands like Vanessa, Swedish Erotica, Malibu Band and Axia, it was not until the mid 90s that Niva’s solo debut came out – sadly on an ill fated (and now long defunct) Japanese label that also screwed up their follow up release! Fast forward to 2011 and a song called ‘Janitor Of Love’ – actually written for the Swedish Eurovision song contest – that formed part of a demo created with partners (and today’s members of Niva) Roger Ljunggren and Marcus Persson. Ironically another Japanese label immediately signed them and released “Gold From The Future”, garnering Niva international AOR acclaim. Capitalizing on this resurgent success now comes “Magnitude”, a mixture of pomp rock and pure AOR magic! From Niva’s own clean, high end vocals to the even higher solos and oozingly harmonious keyboards, the emphasis is on genteel, uplifting melodies that shine brilliantly on songs like ‘My First And Only One’ and ‘Never Say Goodbye’. Every now and then they might rock it out and hit the drums a little harder like on ‘Always Somewhere’, but don’t fret, it doesn’t even cause the Richter scale to blip it’s that melodic in its magnitude. Continue reading

Keen Eyed – “Reflection”

Keen Eyed – “Reflection” (www.facebook.com/keeneyed.it)

Wow, this Italian band go right back to the mid 80s, when their “Metal Rain” demo scored quite a hit on their native soil along with some intense gigging towards the end of that era. Then the split! Not sure why but after a 15 year hiatus the inevitable reunion took place, the culmination of which was new songs and ultimately this album. For the most part Keen Eyed play classic rock that has its heavy moments here and there like on ‘She’s The Devil’. Equally they show their mellower moments with the use of acoustics and harmonies to the point of being AOR like on ‘Scent Of Feeling’. It’s certainly played well enough and the band show their technicality on the prog like ‘Hold Me Tonight’ that also incorporates some dextrous keyboards. New vocalist Angelo Gervasi seems able enough to cope with the differing styles both injecting power where necessary while being content to take a more laid back, trippy tone elsewhere. I think the band could have benefited from better production soundwise but “Reflection” should still ring a bell with their long time fans so let’s see if time has not overtaken Keen Eyed? Continue reading

Ministry – “Live At Wacken 2012”

Ministry – “Live At Wacken 2012” DVD / 2CD (UDR / Wacken Records / 13th Planet Records)

Wow – if there ever was an act that could end a day for 75,000 screaming fans then Ministry be thy name! Still (con)fronted all these years by Al(ien) Jourgensen who remains a raging maniac even after his hate figure George Bush has long gone, this bumper 2CD / DVD captures a full on shock rock audio visual experience that only Minstry can unleash: heaps of video delivered across 3 massive screens, blinding lights, relentless samples and most of all, the ultra industrial noise of the band themselves as they stamp out ’99 Percenters’, ‘Rio Grande Blood’ and ‘New World Order’. The Wacken crew have done a superb job both in terms of the camera work shot from a multitude of angles and most of all, a crystal clear sound that puts to shame some studio albums! Tragically, guitarist Mike Scaccia passed away in Dec 2012 but this album is a fitting dedication to him, containing plenty of high quality footage and material that sees him going out on a high note. Incidentally, this also be the case for Al himself who has recently announced Ministry’s intention to close following “From Beer To Eternity”, also penned with Mikey and to be issued late summer this year. Not ones to hold back, the bonus material contains nothing less than the band’s 2006 Wacken show – 14 tracks in total including ‘The Great Satan’ and ‘Khyber Pass’ – and while less of a visual spectacular, it’s certainly not lacking in intensity and if anything, more down n dirty! Even if Ministry never go out on the road again, this must be the perfect way to remember these outrageous freaks by so enjoy the quiet….! Continue reading

Lingua Mortis Orchestra feat. Rage – “LMO”

Lingua Mortis Orchestra feat. Rage – “LMO” (Nuclear Blast Records)

Rage are one of Germany’s classic heavy metal bands having been going for over 3 decades and showing no signs of running outta steam with this 22nd album no less! Not a band to stay constrained by style, Rage chose to record a classical album back in 1996 called “Lingua Mortis” which then became the name associated with orchestras who’ve played with the band since. “LMO” is a continuation of this classical theme, composed entirely by Rage’s guitarist Victor Smolski who, along with the rest of the band added guest vocalists like Metalium’s ex-vocalist Henning Basse and over 100 musicians from 2 Spanish and Russian orchestras. With thoughts of Metallica’s nightmarish “S&M” still requiring therapy, I haveta say “LMO” is anything but that cacophony – in fact, Rage have got it right! Smolski has done an amazing job, and when you learn that he has a degree in classical music and collaborates regularly on classical pieces with his father, a notable Belorussian conductor, it’s easy to see why his talent for incorporating orchestra into metal has seen him work with Atrocity, Leaves Eyes and even scored a few movies! The key to Smolski’s success is in his experience of knowing when to use each instrument based on its greatest capabilities and moreover, the emotions it evokes in the listener. He has then meticulously arranged these into his compositions, based on his detailed research of the album’s overall concept, that of 16th century witch burnings in Germany. The result is a metal opera par excellence, bringing the best of metal and classical in superior songs like ‘Cleansed By Fire’, ‘The Devil’s Bride’ and ‘Straight To Hell’. Smolsk’s work reads like a book and actually brings to life in your mind his concept, which after a while ceases to be music but takes you into the realms of fantasy. Magnificent. Continue reading

Sinner – “Touch Of Sinner 2”

Sinner – “Touch Of Sinner 2” (AFM Records)

If you’re a fan of early Sinner, then this may be the treat for you! Anyone trying to purchase their long deleted 80s albums will either be paying extortionate prices or be involved in legal wrangles only to find – as Matt Sinner did himself – that the original tapes have been long lost. As such any original intention to do a re-mix soon went up in flames, but being the veteran hard rocker that he is, Matt Sinner trounced everyone by simply announcing new recordings of the best of those early classics! Taking inspiration Sinner’s early career you’ve got tracks like ‘Knife In My Heart’ from 1985’s “Touch Of Sin” to ‘Concrete Jungle’ from ’87’s “Dangerous Charm” to ‘Danger Zone’ from their self titled 1984 album – 11 classics in all! Additionally, there’s 3 brand new songs like ‘Don’t Believe A Word’ which also make the grade to be fitting complements to their older counterparts, but all of which feature the classy, catchy hard rock of Sinner – also joined this time by guests David Readman (Voodoo Circle, Pink Cream 69), Erik Martensson (W.E.T.), Tom Naumann (ex- Primal Fear/Sinner) & Diego Valdez (Helker). All in all an excellent release fulfilling a number of long sought requirements from the fans in one fell swoop from the German hawk of hard rock himself – Matt Sinner! Continue reading

Primitive Man – “Scorn”

Primitive Man – “Scorn” (Relapse Records)

Ugly, hateful death grind noise from the Colorado wastelands. If notorious cannibal Alferd G. Packer were still alive I’d imagine he’d be jovially a listenin’ to Primitive Man as he blissfully carved up his victims before serving them up in a stew lol. Feedback drenched noise guitar, distorted bison fart bass and Ethan Lee McCarthy’s predatory guttural vocals bring on the hate in songs like ‘Black Smoke’, ‘Stretched Thin’ and ‘I Can’t Forget’ – nor will you in this mind numbing experience that is guaranteed to bring out the inner savage in even the meekest soul. Be forewarned. Continue reading

Hornet – “Skies Are Falling”

Hornet – “Skies Are Falling” (SED Records)

‘..you can’t make me! you can’t break me!! you can’t change me!!!..’ Raucous punk rock metal from the streets of London! This lot barged their way to the front with their loud n abrasive EP a coupla years back and have now returned 200 gigs on with a full blown debut, confidently funded by a Pledge music campaign. Straight outta AC/DC’s no frills just honest rock n roll book, Hornet play it like they pack it in their sting – gravelly throat strained vocals, deep crunching bass, chunky blues based rock riffs that would leave a guitar steaming and a crashing rhythm – the perfect accompaniment to loud kick ass songs like ‘Second Hand Smoke’, ‘I’m Gonna Be The Man’ and ‘Sweet Lips’. This is sweaty, beer fueled man rock beaten out on steaming stages to the soul of pure rock n roll! Continue reading