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Music Reviews: Christian Mistress, Heart, Iron Maiden, The New Czars, and Kickhunter

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This week’s column is a collection of albums that didn’t thrill me at first. They all took some time to sink in, some more successfully than others.

Christian Mistress: Agony & Opium

This is a fascinating and rather cool mash-up of Doro Pesch fronting Motorhead. If you like Headgirl, that get together of Motorhead and Girlschool, you will just love this. Motorhead-like metal combined with scratchy female vocals delivered with lots of oomph. Those too young to remember that great single could consider this some straight-ahead, garage rock. There are times when it strikes a bit Die So Fluid, which is not bad thing.

This album does not necessarily grab you at first. Honestly, it’s a slow burn. At first it’s like meh, but the sheer attitude and angst of the tracks grow on you. I found myself going back to the beginning to give another chance, which was well rewarded. This album shows a band with so much damn prescence.

This is old school garage heavy rock, it could come from the UK or US. It’s that back to roots stuff that just oozes everything that rock and roll should. Lemmy should take these guys on the road, a perfect fit.

Heart: Red Velvet Car

To be honest, this really doesn’t fit this column. They are so far gone from their hard rock roots it ain’t funny. This is far more Lovemongers, their post-Heart, that it is anything you know and love from Heart. If it was anything but Heart you would find the introspective navel-gazing a bit twee. The concepts on the album are hardly original: fame and bitching about it and lost friends.

But then again this is Heart, when Ann kicks it into gear her voice lets you know this ain’t you normal navel gazing album. Her voice trascends the mundane and adds gravitas to anything she sings. She could sing the freaking phone book and we would listen.

There are no real songs that jump out and grab you. There is nothing really catchy on here, no obvious singles, nothing immediate and impressive. Then again I don’t think the Wilson sisters give a damn. They are doing what they love: playing music, and if no one else likes it they don’t give a rat’s arse.

If you like the Wilson sisters and respect where they want to take you, give this a go. If you expect to be blown away by rocking goodness, this might not be the CD for you. Not that it will matter to their fans or the band, but I actually rather enjoy this CD. Once you get past the reality of what is, it’s a great driving release that is perfect for windows down driving.

Iron Maiden: The Final Frontier

It’s a new Iron Maiden album with crap cover art and an accompanying game. When you put it in the player, it does not blow you away. Flashbacks to Blaze-era Iron Maiden right, the band are finally played out? Well, not really. This is the most proggy album Iron Maiden ever released. It’s far more Opeth than it is power metal, and it’s a band doing what they want to do. They are taking their next big step into power prog, and once you realise that it’s pretty good.

Songs like “Coming Home” are epic in scale and rival the best prog epics. I suppose if there is any anthemic metal on her it would be “The Alchemist” which has quite a bit in common with songs like “The Trooper” et al. It’s a track that would have fit snugly in Bruce’s solo epic “Chemical Wedding”. In fact, it is arguable that this is the album where Bruce’s best solo material and Iron Maiden finally merge. That said, even this track is not instantly approachable.

The album is a bit of work and requires patience with repeated listens. You give it a chance; it rewards in droves: both lyrically and musically. Subtle nuances abound, and the playing on here is first rate. It’s Iron Maiden, but it’s got touches of Pink Floyd and oodles of metallic progressive music. It’s an album that screams to be played in its entirety live.

In the patheon of Iron Maiden is it one of their greatest? Probably not, but in the pantheon of music as it exists right now, it’s one of the best things you will have heard in a long time.

The New Czars: Doomsday Revolution

The title sounds like something on a death metal album while the band’s name reminds you of members of the current administration. Is this band death or politics? Nah, nothing of the sort. They are a good, old hard rock band that knows how to have some fun. You get all kinds of stuff from heavy rock to ballads to stompers on here. Members of this band have worked with everyone from Alice Cooper, Bruce Dickinson through to Pink and Country Love.

They are a three piece with solid rock roots, who have a bit of a Cooperish vibe to their sound. You can tell they have been at these tracks for a while, with a full sixteen appearing on this debut. Now most debut albums can barely muster eight decent tracks, but this bunch have enough experience to pull it off. If anything can be said about this album, its that it’s too diverse, running the gamut from almost Cheap Trick-esque pop to proper hairy-bar, hard rock. “Brush with the Devil” drips with that same Hollywood sleaze that oozes from Guns n Roses and laterly from their inheritors like Buckcherry.

“Only Dreaming” is a ballad that would put most rock bands to shame. It’s got all those hooks and bits in it to make it a hit. And iPhone (instead of lighter) waving potential is high. It will be interesting to see where this band goes with their next release. They got the chops to do whatever they hell they want. A few more tracks and a bit more focus on a style might push them where they want to go. All in all a great that deserve to be huge.

Kickhunter: All In

A bunch of German rockers, including Marcus from Helloween on bass, ham it up in grand scale. They have done support for Lynyrd Skynrd and Deep Purple. This is very much a combination of Southern Rock, but more in the style of the Quireboys, “Shy Shy Shy” is a classic example, than anything actually from the South. They have got that English immitation of Southern rock boogie and soul that the English seem to produce, whether it’s The Faces or of their many immitators. There is a bit of Steve Wonder on tracks like “Revolution”.

There is plenty of Hammond, a couple of guys from Masterplan and Accept guitarist Hermman Frank. The eleven tracks are solid with everything you want from this album. There is nothing serious or deep going here, but the good time rock and rock is infectious whether it’s the original tracks or covers like “Checks in the Mail”. While the cover of “Call Me” by Blondie is unnecessary if you are cynical they make up for it with the rest of the stuff.

This is a great stuff and woth the price of admission. I loved every minute of it. Next time you are having a party and people are getting a bit lairy stick this on. File it in the same section as the “A Bit of What you Fancy” by the Quireboys. Louche heavy rock never sounded so good.

Something for everyone, except maybe you black metallers. Stay safe and rocking this holiday weekend.

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