The Christmas/back to school CD onslaught has hit in earnest now. My desk is creaking with stuff from all kinds of interesting bands, most of which is really rather good to be honest. But first a bit of breaking news.
It seems Justin Hawkins has left The Darkness to pursue a solo career and deal with his drug demons. He recently checked into rehab and seems to planning to stay awhile. The rest of the band will carry on with the new guy, who succeeded Frankie Poulin on bass, taking over on vocals. The fall of The Darkness seems to have been swift after their last Queen-alike album didn't excite the punters. I wonder if Hawkins & Co now regrets using Roy Thomas Baker for a producer. It remains to be seen whether or not Darkness less Hawkins will make a decent go of it. I rather hope they do as there is talent there to be sure.
Seven Witches: Years of the Witch
One thing that is patently obvious from watching this DVD is that Frost loves hearing himself talk. He has several "chats" on the bonus bit of the DVD where he barely lets the other person get a word in edgeways. This gets tiring rather quickly.
On watching the musical content of this DVD you rather wish he had spent a bit more time playing with the sound of the main gig as it sounds washed out. Not all to the standard of level of modern DVDs like the recent Black Label Society DVD I reviewed. And this is a recent gig featuring all their highlight of the band's career including "Camelot", "Dance with the Dead" and "Metal Asylum."
There is an archive of live material whose sound is only slightly worse than the main event. Seven Witches are a good American metal band; it's just too bad this DVD does not live up to expectations of what makes a DVD worth buying. One for fans only, I am afraid.
Nuclear Assault: Louder, Harder, Faster
Nuclear Assault is about as subtle as a brick in the head and with a 10 track live performance focusing on their particular brand of thrash metal brutality this DVD is no exception. With songs like "Long Haired Arsehole" and "Butt Fuck" you know this is a PC-free zone. NA is just thrashy old school fun with zero brains needed to get involved. There are few goodies in the form of unreleased tracks, music videos of their songs, and an interview with Danny Lilker and Glenn Evans with oodles of vintage footage. This is great value for any NA fan or those who like to remember the golden days of thrash. It put a smile on my face and that says a lot. Definitely a DVD to put on when the prat below puts on some trance or dance rubbish.
A bill put together by Megadeth's Dave Mustaine (there is some thought he is trying to bring it to the UK & Europe) with such acts as Dream Theater, Anthrax, Fear Factory, Nevermore, and Symphony X on the bill. Each band gets two songs apiece on the two CD set, except Megadeth which gets three. There are a couple of bands on here that don't really belong like the execrable Bobaflex and Dry Kill Logic which are not bad just nothing special. Life of Agony is an interesting choice as well; not really fitting in with the power/prog metal styling of the rest of the bill.
That said the production on here is excellent and there is little if any of the normal annoyances of a live CD. No extended on-stage raps or muso-solos to be found. What is good is the choices on this CD are not what one might expect from some of the bands including Megadeth like "Tout Les Monde." The collection leaves one with the desired effect, as in you wish you were there. Dave's rival to Ozzfest is quite a collection of bands. And yes there is a DVD if you want a visual version of the music on here.
Frost – Out in the Cold
I was a bit beastly above about the Seven Witches DVD; however I can happily report that the Jack Frost solo album is rather good fun. On it he works with several great singers including Danger Danger's Ted Poley and Paul Shortino. In fact the guest list on the entire thing is quite impressive.
As you would expect with this sort of album there is more than a fair share of covers, in this case culled from all the tribute albums Jack has been on, but Jack does manage to add something different to them. His versions add a taste of menace to "Hold on Loosely" (38 Special), "Cold as Ice" (Foreigner) and "Season of the Witch" (April Wine). All in all it's a satisfying collection from this most productive and journeyman-esque of guitarists. His attempts as singing himself are half bad either. Not an essential purchase, except for the fans of the man, but one that satisfies just as the same.
Meliah Rage – The Deep and Dreamless Sleep
The band was one of those talented metal bands that never quite made it out of the b-list. The Boston natives produce solid metal in the vein of Metallica and Megadeth with oddles of care and talent. This album is no exception. It is impossible to deny the quality; and at times a serious Brian Tatler & Co. vibe going on here.
New singer Souzo has that Hetfield quality about his wife; combining strength with melody. From opening track "Permanently Damage," which sounds like the great W.A.S.P. song Blackie never wrote, to ended "Take What you Want" there is not a turkey to be found here. If you miss 80s metal but can't quite take Trivium doing it then this lot might be your answer. It's American metal with bells and braces on. Great stuff and a welcome return from a great band.
Tristania – Ashes
What with the seeming onslaught of female fronted metallic music around this days I thought the column would be a bit thin if we didn't have one such group. On this occasion it's Tristania with their combination of brutality, male melodic vocals and ethereal operatic female vocals. At times they come across as a cut-down version of Therion.
Ashes is a collection of eight tracks that will take you all round the houses musically ranging from almost black metal styling to melodies not out of place on a Evanescence CD. Tristania like Therion don't just play music they take one on a musical journey through their world. If you don't mind a nice mix of female vocals with your heaviness then check this lot out. You will be glad you did.
Well that is my lot for this week. A wee bit of news from my band, we finally got our tracks up on Coke music service. You know I have to be an early adopter. Well lets just say they didn't take us the first time. Second thing is a candidate for mayor here in London has decided to use us for his run for the office. While he is not of Arnie proportions it's an honour just the same.
As always check out live music whenever you can, stay safe, and stay rocking.