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Music Reviews: Ben Sommer, Cauldron, Assassin, Hour of 13, Sevendust, Junior Doctor

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It’s snowing outside, I am prepping for colonoscopy and you lot need a column. A diverse selection as per normal, but quite a bit of good stuff.

CD reviews

Ben Sommer: America’d

This is quite a rarity for several reasons. It’s not that uncommon for an artist to approach me via my own blog rather than via this column. What is more unusual is that this artist is not only libertarian (or rather admits he is), but is actually quite good. The disc, which wisely is short and sweet, has some real gems. However the final song, which is funny at first listen, gets old quickly. “Kill Estrogen Queens” is amusing the first listen, but bad rap, deliberate or not distracts from the rest of this disc. Sommer has a good voice, but a rapper he ain’t.

The first track on the album and first video is called “Adult Children” and is Warren Zevon-esque cynical rocker. The video contains quite a few images of grown men in diapers, which at first is quite disturbing. Musically, with the exception of the last track, the songs are combination of mild prog and observational song-writing. That said, all of them can be enjoyed merely as tunes as well, and lyrics never get in the way of a good track. And how many albums do you know with a song about “Henry Kissinger” or one called “Sumerian Proletarian” for that matter?

 

Cauldron: Burning Fortune

Besides this being a bleeping bleeped promo copy I was able to enjoy this release on its merits. Quite often the bleeping is so over-zealous that its gets in the way of actually listening to the music. At least one release I have not reviewed because it was so bad.

Away from that, it is fair to say that Cauldron have their music heads firmly in the age of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, as they did on their first release. There is a distinct feeling of Diamond Head about on here at its heaviest. The irony is that I got the new Jag Panzer this week and there is some similarity between the two.

Songs like “Tears have Come” almost fall into the realm of what is now known as “hair metal” and probably would have gotten lots of airplay back in the day. The band seem to be introducing more elements of the 80s into their music and adding a touch of the heavy rock that was everywhere. “I Confess” is a slightly less produced Badlands, complete with high pitched scream or even Dokken.

This is by no means derivative and if you weren’t round in the 80s you would probably miss most of the musical hints. The band have honed their chops and while still a bit derivative they produce some damn good stuff.

 

Assassin: Breaking the Silence

They sound like 80s thrash to the core and German thrash at that. Well there is a reason for both of things. This lot formed in the 80s in Germany under the name Satanica to play thrash, as far as they possibly could. They ended up breaking up at the end of that decade, not because they couldn’t stand each other, but because some bastard nicked all their gear and they couldn’t afford new stuff. In 2002, they reconvened, not being able to resist the lure of the thrash.

Unlike most bands, they are on their heyday label in the form of the SPV. This lot were signed third after Sodom and Destruction. This is a great classic thrash done by a band of guys who know what they are doing. Nothing subtle or melodic on here. Its head-down driving pedal to the metal thrash that is just as fun (or annoying to the haters) as it was the first time around.

This is a solid release for the band that would not be out of place on a bill with the titans of the genre. Why bother with the new wavers of real metal when you can actually get some proper original Germanic thrash? Soon to be heard in the mosh-pit at Wacken I suspect.

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