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Music Reviews: Astral Doors, Steve Hogarth + Richard Barbieri, A Sound of Thunder, Huntress, Craaft and Joe Matera

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It is that time of week again, and there is plenty of rock to keep you content.

Astral Doors are not a trip-hop or electronica group specializing in chill out music. They are in fact straight-on heavy metal with a lead singer who does not sound unsimilar to Ronnie James Dio, thus the band sounds Dio-esque. Their latest is called Jerusalem and it is worth your attention.

Steve Hogarth of Marillion fame and Richard Barbieri of Porcupine Tree have teamed for a new album called Not the Weapon But the Hand. This is mellow, trippy prog rock, dense enough to be almost impenetrable. Despite repeated attempts, I could not get into this at all. To my mind it is just turgid.

A Sound of Thunder is not in fact prog, despite the name, but in-your-face heavy rock with a belter of a frontwoman. Out of the Darkness is worth it, if merely for the song “Kill that Bitch.” There is a strong hint of old Heart on here, as well as Lita Ford and Joan Jett. This is a damn good album from a band I am happy to have discovered.

Huntress is stalking the metal scene with their album Spell Eater, which delivers the goods. While maybe not the most original album, it is a solid release. Quite satisfactory considering this is their debut album. This band stakes their claim that all female-led metal bands need not be dealing in frock metal. Huntress and A Sound of Thunder should team up for a tour as they would fit nicely together.

Craaft have re-released their album Second Honeymoon, which was known as merely Craaft when it was released in the U.S. It is a damn good album from a bunch of German hard rockers, all of whom I seem to remember had PhDs (that was in the PR for the band). Most notable about this album was the track “Jane,” for which a video was produced that reduced friends to tears for its over the top unintentional cheese. All of that doesn’t distract from a solid melodic hard rock release with catchy choruses and damn good playing.

And finally, Joe Matera is an Aussie guitarist who has released an instrumental album called Slave to the Fingers, which just might excite guitarists out there. The tunes are decent but to me they all need lyrics and vocals. If you are a fan of well-played guitar albums, then check out Joe Matera.

Stay safe and rocking until next time.

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