As the color starts creeping into the leaves outside my window and the days get cooler, it’s good I have a great selection of new review material.
Sinner – One Bullet Left
Sinner have fully embraced their previous hints of a Thin Lizzy fascination and gone for it full bore. Mat Sinner of Primal Fear fame has dropped any thought of this band being trad heavy metal and gone for the louche’ hard rock of Thin Lizzy. Now Lizzy is a great band, but do we really another sound-alike? After all, we have a sound-alike touring band called Thin Lizzy already. You will see their live disc reviewed below.
The first song “The One You Left Behind” is fairly metallic, but there is still a strong hint of hard rock rather than metal kicking around. But “Back on Track” is so Lizzy-like I was convinced it was a freaking cover and had to check my Lizzy facts to make sure it was original. Then again the lyrics are so cheesy I should have known it was not penned by Lynott. It’s a fun enough yarn, but positively screams its influences. The next track “Give and Take” has a bit more of an AC/DC vibe. Then it’s back to Lizzy-isms with “One Bullet Left”, a German take on that Irish hard rock sound that is quite amusing.
This reminds me of some of those supergroups of Scandinavian metal-heads who get together for a good ole’ retro crack at classic heavy rock. Taken by those standards this isn’t a bad album at all and quite fun. It took me a while to get into the vibe, but give it half a chance and you will find yourself singing along soon enough.
Gary Moore – Live a Montreux 2010
Yet another sadly deceased performer is Gary Moore. This is one of his final performances before his sad demise. And it’s a good one. No need to worry, this is just something rushed out to take advantage of his untimely passing. As the name suggests this is a CD & DVD recorded at the legendary Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. The CD is 11 tracks long, including some new songs debuted at the gig, most notably the Lizzy-esque “Day of Heroes” and a stomping “On Wild One”. With the DVD you get two more tracks from that show including his blues standout track “Still Got the Blues”. The other track missing from the CD is “Thunder Rising”. The DVD also includes four never released tracks from his performance in 1997 at the festival. Wehy we need a duplicate of “Still Got the Blues” and “Walking by Myself” is a mystery.
What is great is to be able to hear some of his heavy rock tracks from the ’80s like the great “Over the Hills and Far Away”. His hard rock solo work sometimes gets left out because of his hugely successful solo blues work. Gary Moore was a talented musician who rarely was associated with anything that was not up to scratch. This CD & DVD, whichever you choose, is an excellent tribute to the talent that was Gary Moore. He will be seriously missed by both blues and heavy rock fans, many of the latter having been introduced to the former by Gary Moore.
Visions of Atlantis – Maria Magdelena
This is an EP to get people prepared for their forthcoming full length. At six tracks it certainly doesn’t skimp on content. Though the last two tracks are re-workings of early songs of theirs, there does seem to be a fresh appeal to all of this. In fact, the title track is a cover of an ’80s tune by Sandra (“Maria Magdalena”). I think anyone who heard the original would be hard pressed to recognize it, but for the name. If you want a laugh, check out the video of the original, not least for the site of a keytar in all its cheesy glory. Not since Marilyn Manson re-worked and warped Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” has ’80s cheese been so gothed up.
The two re-worked (original) tracks are “Last Shut of Your Eyes” and “Beyond Horizon” from their earlier albums. This will be the first time their new vocalist Maxi has recorded the tracks. The three new tracks, “Melancolia”, “Change of Tides” and “Distant Shores” will keep current fans happy with their continually developing symphonic metal style. Despite the cover, VOA have a far less poppy style than some of those that they might be lumped in with due to their male and female vocal style. A nod to the past, a fun cover and some new tracks add up to a satisfying EP.
Einherjer – Norron
The title of the album should have an “o” with a line through it to be accurate, but this keyboard doesn’t have Norwegian letters. That does not detract from this bunch of Norwegian viking metal. Gruff gritty vocals go along with heavy but melodic metal therein. There are in touches of guitars that would not feel out of place on an Aerosmith record, especially on the first song “Norron Kraft”, an epic 12-minute track. While sung in Norwegian and heavy, there is something quite approachable about this. The vocals are rough without being death metal-like, and there is enough melody to make things easier. Some might bemoan the fact this release is more mainstream metal, but that certainly adds to its appeal.
As readers of this column might have gathered now, I have a soft spot for Viking metal, especially if it’s sung in Norwegian, Swedish or some other Nordic tongue. It rather adds to authenticity and likability. Quite frankly there are all the elements you want in this sort of album. While it might not be the raucous party music of some of the bands of this type, its epic quality is quite a pleasure. Raise your swords and head once more into battle in Valhalla for the glory of Odin—the name of the band denotes fallen warriors who party all night and fight all day after heading to Valhalla once they die in mortal battle.
Haken – Visions
I’ve never heard of this lot and more fool me. Coming off their highly rated debut, 99% was the average on Metal Encyclopedia, so this follow-up had quite a lot to live up to. Fans of this band needn’t have to worry a bit. While I have not heard the debut, I cannot believe it’s any better than this release. The band produce a jazz progressive metal fusion that is quite sublime. Most of it is quite mellow at first listen, but it has an intensive nature that is quite impressive. While the tracks are as long as you might expect, there is never a sense of lagging that sometimes happens if bands go a bit over the top and get pretentious.
This is probably more Dream Theater than Opeth, especially on the impressive title track. And it goes without saying there is a strong, if updated, Floyd thing going on in the track as well. Then again so much is tossed into the mix it is rather hard to tell what kind of progressive music you are listening to. That said, there is never any sense of a band over-stretching their talent. In the impressive genre that is progressive metal this is a very worthy addition. I would dare say this is as essential as anything to come out of this genre for quite a few years.
Thin Lizzy – Live in London 2011
This was recorded in Hammersmith this year by the newest incarnation of Thin Lizzy. This one features Ricky Warwick of The Almighty on vocals. He does an admirable job chanelling Phi Lynott. The fact he is not Irish does rather let the side down a bit. This version features a couple of original members and a bunch of guys who are dead chuffed to be playing in Thin Lizzy. Vivian Campbell, of Def Leppard fame who is Irish is having the time of his life doing this gig.
The vibe makes it clear that they are all having a cracking good time playing Hammersmith and doing all those old Thin Lizzy songs. The real question is: Why is this really necessary? It’s hard to top the two classic live Lizzy releases that were recorded in their prime. And both of those albums have the real deal on vocals in the form of Lynott complete with his on-stage quips.
Now there are some who like to think that Thin Lizzy members should not be able to tour under that name. This is a bit silly considering Lynott is not alive and no Thin Lizzy fan is unaware of that. They are hardly touring under false pretenses and there is no problem with rival groups touring while slagging each other off.
On simple merits as a live album of damn good music with a bunch of damn good players, this is a good release. As for it being worthy of the Thin Lizzy name and the legacy of Phil Lynott, that is another matter entirely.
That is your lot for this week. Have a rocking safe week out there.