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Music Review: Onslaught, Human Zoo, Lillian Axe, Monster in the Machine, and Nick Oliveri and the Mondo Generator

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One DVD and four discs is not the biggest trawl, it has to be said, but that’s the breaks this time of year. The normal flow of music becomes a trickle before it picks up again in a month or so. For the bands, it is probably a good thing that I have more time to spend on each of their releases.

DVD Releases

Onslaught: Live Polish Assault 2007

As you might have guessed from the title, this is a live gig DVD from their recent tour of Poland and a treat for Onslaught fans. This is pretty much the original line-up with the ousted original Sy Keeler at the helm instead of Steve “Grim Reaper” Grimmett on the vocals. What Sy lacks in the range, he certainly makes up for in effort and grunt. Onslaught are late 80s trash with a bit of hardcore mixed in. It’s rather thrashy death metal that has no subtlety whatever. This is old school in its purest and rawest form. Metal Mind has done a great job at capturing the band it all its glory.

As with all their DVD releases there are two extra short live shows from ’87 and 2006 plus an interview with Sy Keeler and Nige Rocket with the normal collection of other goodies. It might amuse readers to know there are no tracks on here from their album with Grimmett. It is only conjecture whether that has to do with rights issues or is done out of spite.

CD Reviews

Human Zoo: Over the Horizon

Scandi-rock with a tongue firmly in cheek and a willingness to use saxaphone in anger is what you get with this lot. And yes, it works. It sometimes veers close to the overwhelmingly cheesy like on “Be the One” before it recovers the wheel and heads back to ballsy rock with “Rock your Town.” The afore mentioned song sounds like it comes straight out of the end of every 80s movie you can think of with the hero limping off with the girl into the distance next to the credits.

Songwriting on here clearly comes from the Diane Warren, Desmond Child school of big choruses and catchy sing-along choruses. The sax player isn’t a guest but a member of the band. In the 80s this stuff would have been prime MTV/rock radio fare. And it certainly beats the misery guts of most modern music. Now where did I put my lighter?

Lillian Axe: Waters Rising

Like Y&T and Kings X, Lillian Axe never got the respect they deserved at the time. Never known to release a stinker of album, this lot continue to create excellent, inspired, complex, but accessible hard rock that is familiar and new at the same. This latest release contains elements of Dream Theater with “2nd of May” to smatterings of Kings X to Pink Floyd on “Deep in Black” (think Dark Side of the Moon continued).

Every song brings something different and interesting to your ears. There is not a stinker on this album and it was well worth the wait. If you like your hard rock with a bit of brains and brilliance then Lillian Axe is just the ticket.

Monster in the Machine: Butterfly Pinned

What would happen if ELO and HIM joined forces to release a modern album of rock pop? Well, you just might have found an answer with this lot. They remind one of both without either channelling the uber-gothy pop of HIM or the filtered symphonic pop of ELO at their height. A smattering of Prince pops up every so often as well.

Repeated listens are required to get this CD, even the slightest bit. Like an onion its got layers to spare. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but one to check out for those who enjoy their pop rock a bit more interesting than the average fare.

Nick Oliveri & the Mondo Generator: Dead Planet

Nick late of Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age returns with his Mondo Generator outlet. Rather than being a side-band, this is a full time gig these days and this album reflects it in intensity. Everything Nick is known for is contained on here with its impenetrable darkness, angst, and hurt. It is equal parts punk and thrash but with an overlying element that belies the simplicity of either genre. Fans of this band will have finally got what they always wanted with his bloody-minded sole focus on the band. Yep Nick and the MG are back with a bloody vengeance. Need proof… check out the lead single “Lie Detector”.

Quite a bit to chew on with this selection. All good in their own ways, nothing sticks in yer craw and something for every phase of a rocker’s moods.

Until next time; stay safe, rocking and please check out live music as much as you possibly can. Oh yeah… if you got Van Halen tickets I am oh so envious of you.

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