The Terraces – “The Terraces”

The Terraces – “The Terraces” (Blast Records)

This one takes us all the way to 1979 when punk was roaring and the football terraces were raging! Featuring old punk Gary Buckley who was in One Way System, The Terraces are an Anglo Aussie band currently stomping the streets of Melbourne – but not for long I suspect given their fiery n catchy brand of modern punk. Mixing the raw streets-of-London vocals of The Clash with the passionate guitar melodies of The Dropkick Murphys and the singalong addiction of Rancid, songs like ‘Short Back And Sides’, ‘Care About Nothing’ and ‘The Internationals’ bring both old and new punk together on these racy, boppy songs that will ‘ave grandad pogo-ing in fits of fuck off attitude! Continue reading

Soilwork – “The Living Infinite”

Soilwork – “The Living Infinite” 2CD (Nuclear Blast)

These guys have been going since the mid 90s and were influenced by the likes of extreme metal bands like Meshuggah along with the now legendary Gothenburg melodic death scene. In many ways Soilwork themselves went on to inspire many a metal core band but they were destined for a somewhat different path. “The Living Infinite” is quite possibly the band’s most ambitious project to date being a double album made up of 20 tracks no less! What is even more striking is the sheer range of other styles that today make up Soilwork’s sound: from mainstream metal with keyboard harmonies to commercial rock to alt rock (with Justin Sullivan of New Model Army guesting on ‘The Windswept Mercy’) to even old school metal complete with epic finishes. Nevertheless, at its heart Soilwork still remains almost melancholic, driven by twin guitar melodies and a propelling rhythm fueled by a dark energy that can be savagely unleashed at any time on songs like ‘Drowning With Silence’ and ‘Let The First Wave Rise’. With Speed Strid’s vocals also taking a range from scream to raw to clean and a ‘big’ sound production, “The Living Infinite” goes beyond that of another impressive Soilwork release to striving for generic metal perfection! Continue reading

Heavatar – “Opus I – All My Kingdoms”

Heavatar – “Opus I – All My Kingdoms” (Napalm Records)

The brainchild of Van Canto mastermind Stefan Schmidt, who now exchanges his ‘A Capella’ vocals for a 7 string rhythm guitar, Heavatar is modern power metal mixed with the best of the classical composers ranging from Bach to Beethoven! Epic choirs, clean vocals and most of all, cool funky classical interludes in the melodies and guitar work will have you rockin n rolling to catchy songs like ‘Abracadabra’, ‘Born To Fly’ and the ripping Manowar like ‘To The Metal’. Whilst this won’t be breaking any power metal records I’m certainly impressed by the way Schmidt has carefully weaved (not to mention impressively played) the classical elements – most of which I’ve heard even if I can’t name them lol – into the material to make this highly enjoyable especially for those of us who don’t listen to classical music. For those who are, I hope they can appreciate this an admirable effort in mixing the old with the new. Continue reading

Hellbastard – “Sons Of Bitches”

Hellbastard – “Sons Of Bitches” (Selfmadegod Records)

Hellbastard were a product of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain (not that we should be grateful to her for that lol!): with heavy industry in terminal decline, 3 million people unemployed and little hope for young people except welfare there was real anarchy in the air. Rather than dying as expected by the elite, punk had evolved from its fashionable roots in the 70s to spearhead a new movement based on class war, militant social struggle and overt political action by the underclass. Wallowing in their impoverishment, embracing bitterness and reveling in social disorder a new breed of crust punk proudly trod the streets of their land unwashed, raggedy and brimming with hate. Bands like Crass and Amebix were their standard bearers, but so too was the influence in the bastard child of metal known as thrash. And so Hellbastard was born. Utterly raw in every sense, Hellbastard were like a good kick in a yuppy’s nutz – raw, hoarse vocals, ugly thrash riffola and riot squad drumming said it all back then and still do on songs like the raging ‘System Whore’ and the wall of noise ‘We Had Evidence’. These days Scruff & co are more technical with more Slayer-esque lead breaks and – gaspo – even time for a reggae piece in ‘Throw The Petrol Bomb’ but their militancy remains. Hellbastard are the real anarchists and are still out to mash up Babylon mate. Continue reading

Jolly – “The Audio Guide To Happiness (Part II)”

Jolly – “The Audio Guide To Happiness (Part II)” (InsideOut Music)

Conceptually more of a scientific experiment than a musical one, these New Yorkers combined the art of musical production with sociological and neurological data, packaging it all into one cohesive system to create happiness as affected directly by the music! Released in 4 parts, the debut was equally a musical experiment drawing from an extensive range of styles and sounds that was certainly awe inspiring, if not inconclusive in its human goal especially when compared to more primitive bands who achieved happiness to the max lol. Part II of this grand experiment is altogether more straight forward, in the main modern technical rock as defined by songs like ‘Despite The Shell’ or the bombastic bass heavy djent of the likes of ‘Firewell’. Elsewhere there are ambient pieces that draw on tranquil vocals, delicate electronics and subtle prog melodies as on ‘As Heard On Tape’. Overall I think the technical sophistication and musical dexterity is still there, but Part II is an altogether more refined therapy aimed more accurately at the listener, and an inexperienced one at that, and that for me is pleasant enough as a quiet revolution. Continue reading

My Endless Wishes – “My Endless Wishes”

My Endless Wishes – “My Endless Wishes” (Doolittle Group)

Created by a happily married couple in Frida and Martin Viberg – the mainstays of the band – MEW follow in the footsteps of other femme melodic metal bands like Within Temptation and Evanescence, covering a range of styles from epic to indie metal to mainstream rock all of which they seem to handle with relative ease! A part time project, there’s a definite home style feel to the band with songs like ‘Before I Say Goodbye’, ‘Searching For A Hero’ and ‘Follow The Light’ reflecting an unpretentious, unhurried feel but instead yielding huge amounts of passion and power melodies especially in Frida’s excellent voice which bring out the lyrics that are truly sung from the heart. MEW have now incorporated others into their band which judging by the smoothness of their musicianship appear to have reflected their organic growth that is once again based on friendship and love of the music rather than commercial gain so I have nothing but praise by how well this album turned out given their DIY approach. Continue reading

Illnath – “4 Shades Of Me”

Illnath – “4 Shades Of Me” (Pitch Black Records)

These Danes have been thru many changes since they were formed in 1999 as a kinda symphonic black metal band. Today only founder guitarist Peter Falk remains, and now joined by a female aggro vocalist in Mona Beck play aggressive modern metal with death vocals – deffo plenty of headbanging here folks! Heavy chugging riffs and a matching pounding rhythm set the pace for Mona’s growls n screams on songs like ‘Blood Warrior’, ‘Gallow Hill’ and ‘No Salvation’. Although still an uncommon phenomena, Beck’s style lends further weight to female DM given that while being aggressive they are somewhat cleaner than her male counterparts allowing for wider audience appreciation of the lyrics et al. Falk’s guitar work has also grown and now includes subtle melodic death harmonies but this nonetheless remains primarily aggro metal to make your ears bleed! Continue reading

Tombstone Highway – “Ruralizer”

Tombstone Highway – “Ruralizer” (Agonia Records)

Doggone it, this hasta be one of the most bizarre releases I’ve heard in a while – southern fried lickin’ rock played by a buncha Italians lol! Complete with banjo, they infuse Lynyrd Skynyrd and Down to create an awesome southern groove complete with redneck rawk vocals, down tuned geetars and a rollin’ stoner groove that kick ass on ‘Acid Overlord’, ‘Hellfire Rodeo’ and ‘Bite The Dust N Bleed’. Formed at the turn of the century by HM Outlaw (Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Banjo) and Emilio S.O.B. Sobacchi (Drums), the partnership soldiered on for the best part of a decade before adding more more members and recording this album. If you can get over the idea of this being a fine interpretation of an old style – and their cover of Mountain’s ‘Mississippi Queen’ being a prime example – rather than the genuine stars n bars article then “Ruralizer” is certainly a worthy addition to any collector of hillbilly rock. Continue reading

The Last Shot Of War – “Piece Of Hate”

The Last Shot Of War – “Piece Of Hate” (www.facebook.com/thelastshotofwarofficial)

Ravaged by two world wars, Belgium is a country that has seen its fair share of aggression. If that wasn’t enough, then The Last Shot Of War hail from the near mythical city of Mons, where legend has it that the ghosts of English longbow men came to rescue the British Army from the numerically superior Germans! Playing ugly beatdown deathcore, TLSOW’s style is befitting to their heritage: barrel bottom roars; dirty heavy guitars; pig fart bass and booming drums launch artillery salvos like ‘Beyond The Nightmare Of’ and ‘Bill To The Death’. It may not be fast but it’s like a panzer crushing you slowly under its treads. If that wasn’t enough then they launch their Götterdämmerung of ‘New Unhealthy Order’ which also features heavy dub on top of everything else! Guaranteed to wreck any peace process, this is one of these bands that sound and mean what they say: total annihilation. Continue reading

Bush – “Live!”

Bush – “Live!” DVD / Blu-ray (earMusic)

With over 16 million albums sold in their time, Bush remain one of the most successful 90s indie rock bands and many ways set the blueprint for today’s emo scene with their use of heavy melancholic melodies amidst a passionate guitar driven sound. Still fronted by animated front man Gavin Rossdale (who during Bush’s hiatus acted as ‘Balthazar’ in the film “Constantine”), this is a long overdue live DVD that not only captures Bush’s best songs like ‘Little Things’, ‘Machinehead’ and ‘Greedy Fly’ but also the intimacy and most of all, love, between the band and their fans. Although older, the band look good being toned and tanned and it’s clearly reflected when Rossdale sings ‘..there’s no sex in your violence..’ during ‘Everything Zen’ and a line of hot lookin milfs (including one with a baby) got nuts and virtually claw him offstage lol! If that wasn’t enough the feel good factor is multiplied even further during his laid back balcony walk, stopping to sing to crowd members whose beaming smiles, tears and affectionate touches say it all about a band that was never forgotten by their fans. Definitely one of the most moving performances I’ve witnessed in a long time. The Roseland Theatre in Portland OR was a perfect choice for the filming which itself deserves a commendation in sparing no expense for its multiple camera angles, zoom and pan shots as well as giving plenty of views of the crowd, who along with the band are comfortable enough to fully participate in the cine experience that is accurately conveyed to the home viewer. With a crystal clear sound and matching note perfection from the band themselves this DVD sets a live standard that is on par with Bush’s legacy – little wonder they didn’t need a big light show or any stage effects! Chuck in the bonus tape.tv unplugged performances and music videos totaling 22 tracks and this is an absolute must have as Bush look set to take on the world again! Continue reading