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CD Reviews: Mahavatar,Venom, Midnight Syndicate and Rory Gallagher

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I have been a bit of an errant reviewer over the last few days, not getting my column done in a timely manner. I make no excuses but I have a bit busy and my selection of music has been so good I did not want to have to stop listening.

CD Reviews

Mahavatar: From the Sun, The Rain, The Wind and the Soil

Besides having a rather odd name this lot have the whole male/female metal vocalist going on that seems to be rather popular in some metal circles with a slight twist, they have no male vocalist. More metal than Nightwish; there is a good contrast between gruff heavy metal vocals and the more ethereal female ones. It's most striking on the cracking tune "Cult." Oh yes, they only have one vocalist not two. It is one woman singing like that.

This lot are on Escapi music and provide quite a bit on this 10 track selection. The band is from New York but it was formed by Lizza Hayson who is from Israel and guitarist Karla Williams from Jamaica. It's goth tinged metal with lashings of ethnic sounds. They are quite impressive all around and well worth checking out either live or on this CD. All in it's all a professional outfit that should go far.

Venom: Cast in Stone

This is a re-release to coincide with the recent release of the new Venom album Metal Black and it certainly does its best to give you a reason to buy this album over again. Not just content with a remastering of the original release we have a 15 extra track bonus CD consisting of "classics" remastered and five tracks from their '96 performance at the Dynamo Festival.

And unlike some of these kinds of releases there is only one duplication between the rest of this release and the live CD in the form of "The Evil One." This is an impressive package for an extended edition. Malcolm Dome of Classic Rock fame has written a quite impressive nine page piece on the band and the album in the sleeve notes. Well worth seeking out if you want an intro to Venom the band or need the album on CD. And a bloody good value for the money as well. Oh yeah and you can still use it to annoy the dance music loving neighbours. They will just eat this stuff up in Scandinavia.

Midnight Syndicate: Retrospective: 1994-1999

Rather than just slapping together old recordings for this release, Midnight Syndicate re-recorded their older material to update its sound. Edward Douglas & Gavin Goska never fail to impress with their symphonic goth music. The 24 tracks on there do not fail to live up their normal level of quality.

So it's just not just a rehash the band has included a few new tunes in the form of "Sanctuary," "Scenes from The Dead Matter," "Prisoner of Time" and "Theme from Journey into Dementia." If you like a bit of symphonic goth ambient music then this lot are some of the best in their genre. Every song evokes a mood and oozes quality. If you are interested in the genre or the band, this is essential. If you like the band you will want to pick this collection up as well.

Rory Gallagher: Live at Monteux

As the title suggests this is a live recording from the famous blues and jazz town of Montreux over his career. And like other live recordings it rather suffers from being a bit limp. There is no questioning Rory's talent but it would probably be best to pick up one of his studio recordings if you are new to the band. The quality and class of the man seeps out of the speakers when this release is on, but it is still missing something.

As with most live CDs, they either bore or make one wish one was there. Most definitely it's a case of the latter. Highlights include "Too Much Alcohol" and "I Take
What I Want." Talented man but this release is just missing that extra something to make it special.

One of the things taking up my time was getting another batch of Growing Old Disgracefully CDs to CD Baby. We sold out of our first batch in something like four days which was most gratifying.

Last night John and I met up to attend a special summer jam on the Thames. He played some wicked mouth organ and sang "Roundhouse Blues." And then I joined him for a drunken but very apt version of "Sweet Home Alabama" which got a nice loud cheer.

It's been a musical weekend as my betrothed Kim clearly showed me the proper way to sing songs from the Sound of Music as we watched How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? I got her to hobble over to the mic and record a little ditty we wrote called "Blogging Blues" which appears in this week's "Dodging Reality."

Incidentally I am doing a once a fortnight wrap-up of my metal reviews for the podcast. It allows me to return to my days of radio DJ-ing complete with the annoying DJ voice.

I will try not to make the next column so tardy. Please keep rocking and go see some live music. It's there if you look trust me.

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