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Music Review: Exciter, Iommi, Lethargy, Carbon 9, and Connor Christian & Southern Gothic

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Now that the post-New Year's warmth has warn off and my re-issue session has ended, it's time to concentrate on stuff that is coming down the pike in the next few months. But first, there is one more re-issue to contend with.

Exciter: Exciter

This is a re-issue of the fifth album from the bunch of Canuck thrash nuts. It surprised some fans that they waited this long for their self-titled release. Then again a certain other band from SF did it and was quite successful. What separated Exciter from many of its peers was its willingness to drift away from pure-thrash and try some heavy rock boogie. The track "O.T.T." could be off a whole myriad heavy rock albums of the time.

The only thing that takes some getting used to is the helium-filled vocals of Rob Mainati. Think, Geoff Tate of Queensryche or Rob Halford of Judas Priest (who provided the name for the band) only higher, getting dangerously close to that nutter from Nitro, Jim Gillette, who could break glass with his high notes. Once you get over that hump, this is quite an enjoyable heavy rock/thrash romp. Exciter excited lots of people and it's not hard to see why. This re-release of a re-release contains the bonus track "Termination".

So if you like a bit of 80s thrash with heavy rock nuances, then this might be for you. Check out their previous releases as well while you are at it.

Iommi: Fused

I am a bit late to the party on this one having completely missed acquiring it when it came out in 2005. What a fool I feel. I have never been that big a fan of Glenn Hughes' solo work, finding his penchant for overly-clever funkified rock a bit tiring at times.

However, he seems to work well with other strong personalities whether it be in Deep Purple, in the awesome Hughes Thrall, or with Tony Iommi (in and out of Black Sabbath). Then again Iommi is well versed with dealing with reformed drug addicts with big personalities isn't he?

This is far less Sabbath and far more mainstream heavy rock. Iommi has a great deal of fun trying out new stuff. It comes together perfectly on songs like "What You're Living for" that would not be out of place on a release from Queensryche. That is not to say that the band doesn't drift towards Sabbath territory, of the Tony Martin led variety, on songs like "Face Your Fear". The album ends with rather fun "I go Insane" which is almost Floyd-esque prog at times.

There is no denying Hughes has an original and rather good voice. Its just refreshing to hear him tamed by the mighty Iommi. I hope the pair team up soon for another such release when their schedules allow them to do so.

Lethargy: Purification

Young Welsh is the second release from Classic Rock magazine’s new label Powerage. Much hyped by the magazine since being discovered by Geoff Barton, this lot have a lot to live up to. Overall they don’t live up to the hype they have been given, coming across as Alice in Chains obsessed without being able to make the sound their own. Derivative music is fine, unless the band sound a bit samey. A good example of how to do it right is Black Stone Cherry. This on the other hand never really makes it out of the “clone” territory.

That is not to say songs like “14:9” are bad in any way shape or form. There is just nothing on here that leaps out and grabs you. This lot have the feeling of perennial gig openers never quite getting to the headline status. On their next release they need to up their song-writing game and try to be a bit more original. Good musicians certainly, but not quite there with the songs. They might need a name change as there quite a lot of other bands called “Lethargy” around.

Oh yes and the song, an attempt at a ballad, “Fragile Crystal Dream” should have been left off as it's mind-numbingly awful. It's an unfortunate way to end a decent , if nothing special, release.

Carbon 9: The Bull

It’s a more accessible Rob Zombie or Marilyn Manson with more a hard rock than industrial feel, although the elements remain. It's catchy and danceable with a clear eye to the goth/industrial dance-floors around the world. There is a touch of Orgy about it as well, without the campness. One listen to a song like the uber-catchy “Somebody like Me” clearly demonstrates why these guys have a deal.

They are from LA and have headlined all the haunts there (Troubadour, Roxy, Viper Room & Whiskey). They have gotten all kind of raves reviews in the LA press. For once you don’t have to wonder what people are on about.

This is great pop heavy rock that will probably be huge sooner or later. Just the right touch of attitude, talent, and swagger make this work rather well. Just check out “Loving You” for all those elements in one song. You can just tell this bunch have honed their craft on the live scene and try to get as much in this release as possible.

Modern, refreshing but approachable no matter how you come at it. Expect big things from Carbon 9 in 2009. Well, if there is any justice in the music scene that is…

Connor Christian & Southern Gothic: 90 Proof Lullabies

To end the column we'll have a nice touch of southern rock for your listening pleasure. This is smirk on your face, hat on your head, and whiskey in your hand rock goodness. From the first track “Sunday Suit” you just know what is on offer. This is in the tradition of Skynrd with a touch of the Black Crowes. The piano tinged goodness of “It’s Alright” just sweeps you into a feeling of getting slowly pissed while this lot bash out their tunes on stage.

Hell they even get rid of the mainstream country ballad “Waiting for Princess” with its lashing of slide guitar and piano. This song could be a huge cross-over hit for this guy if it met the right ears. It has the same vibe about it as “Angel Eyes” by Jeff Healey. It evokes that kind of non-lame not contrived ballad that just nails the genre. Then “Chipping Away” is a touch Sawdoctors with a healthy touch of the Pogues at their most rousing. The booziness of the track just emanates from the speakers. Its almost criminal to listen to this without a drink in your hand.

Having been picked up by Indie film makers for inclusion in sound-tracks this album is full of songs that would work on either TV or movies during “those type” of songs. CC & SG retain that touch of southern bar-room swagger while making themselves approachable by almost anyone. If you like country-tinged/mellow southern rock then this is probably the release of the new year for you. Forget 90 proof, this 100 proof quality.

On that note a trip to the wine rack is in store. See you next time round when I will have another load of new amd new-old releases for your listening ear.

Stay safe, rocking, and appreciate your loved ones for however long you got em’.

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