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Music Reviews: Doro, 4Bitten, Nightvision, Stratovarius, and Absu

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Another month, but I must carry on and hear my way through my pile of CDs. This week saw the return of a rather good band many thought was no more.

Doro: Fear No Evil

Doro Pesch has been a cornerstone of German heavy metal for 25 years, first with Warlock and for most of that time with her self-titled band. A new album is a celebration of all that is fun, a bit naff, and enjoyable about German heavy metal. She could be considered the female equivalent of the Scorpions with all that entails. Along the years she has released some good music and some dire (her cover of “Whiter Shade of Pale” is painful to these ears), but she consistently helped young German metal-heads through puberty. She is the German Lisa Dominique, Runaways, or Girlschool in a Rhinemaiden slightly terrifying to young men sort of way.

This album reminds a veteran of her 80s output both with and without Warlock. In fact as if to reminds us, the opening track is a corker called “Night of the Warlock.” She is obviously proud of her history in metal with the final track a nod to her fans entitled “25 Years.”

Some people refer to this sort of metal as “gumby” metal and po-po it. I think they can be snobs at times. Its fun heavy metal that is great to see live and proves that rockers can remain just as good even as they age. If you like your metal you could do far worse that enjoying a bit of Doro.

4Bitten: No More Sins

Yes, you read that right they are really called 4Bitten and clearly can’t tell how lame their name sounds to anyone not willing to use “text” speech in normal writing. This is a Greek/American band that doesn’t really work on so many levels, but is actually quite good and pump out solid hard rock grooves with aplomb.

The trouble is the leader singer does not really have the pipes to work with the tunes; it's pretty weak. When you try to hear the vocals the mix pretty much buries most of them so they all sound very samey. Another problem with the band is while they might have the chops to play, they don’t really have any songs to speak of. All of it just blends into one big ball of hard rock mediocrity. I really wanted to like this band, honestly, but just can’t find anything to get into here.

They are not bad per se but they need to write some songs. Excuses for the guys to play just don't cut it. I love to hear women doing heavy rock, but the songs on here are just not the right vehicle.

Nightvision: As the Lights Go Down

The opening section of the opening track stuck me as coming straight out of the Dio catalogue. I needn’t be worried, I was just being a bit of an anal rocker reviewer who sometimes retains way too much knowledge for this own good. Hailing from Lincolnshire this lot play hard rock that mixes the attitude of Guns N' Rose and reminds you of great British bands of the 80s like the Almighty.

Not the slightest tinge of screamo metalcore on this lot’s release. The bloke on the vocals, Dave Mckee, can actually freaking sing and revels in letting you know. These guys are young and talented with an attitude and an ability that belies their age and origins. I really enjoy this release and hope it does the band the justice it deserves in sales. Oh and it gets better with every spin.

There is not one duff track anywhere to be found on here. It’s a joy to listen to start to finish. Lets just say, that while a bit heavier, you’d be hard pressed to find a better debut since the freaking awesome The Answer (whose new CD I have). Let's hope that British music press and public takes these guys to their bosom in order to make them the next great Brtish heavy rock export.

Clearly a strong contender for “Best New Band” in the Classic Rock awards.

Oh and you just know they kick some serious butt live.

Stratovarius: Polaris

Yes, you read that right, Stratovarius is back with a new album of original material. Despite their legal and money problems that drove guitarist Timo Tolki to leave, they have mustered their forces and risen again like a phoenix. Tolki now has Revolution Renaissance and has given the rest of Stratovarius his blessing to carry on without him. It’s a bit like the Helloween saga that produced so many other great bands.

One the basis of this album it possible to argue that the band has taken the changes, hardships, and troubles well. This is a strong album of Scandinavian power metal that works rather nicely and fits well into the genre. Their new label and lease on life have produced quite a good slab of technical metal. They retain all their elements, whether it’s the ludicrously clever playing, the sing-along choruses and, of course, the occasional key change. Just check out “Higher We Go” for some of that catchy as stink melodic metal goodness.

If you like Scandi progressive-tinged power metal you can do far worse that seek out this release. We can report that their demise was overstated and they have returned to thrill you once more.

Absu: Absu

I am leaving Absu for absolutely last because it's a band that is really tough to review. They don’t really fall into any “normal” categories, besides being vaguely “extreme” metal. They are something extraordinary that will either fill you with dread or excitement when you hear of a release. Its been eight years since their last and this has been eagerly awaited by their rabid fans.

Just in case you wondered how much of a big deal is to have this lot of Texas nutters release something, they managed to rope in members of such heavyweights as Kind Diamond, Mayhem, Melechesh, Firstborn and the mighty Enthroned to come along to help out.

This is dark, deep, occult metal with nods to Celtic, Summerian, and other traditional mythologies. Think of this lot as the extreme metal ZZ Top and you might be somewhere in understanding their reputation. Why haven’t I bothered to mention the songs? Well this is not exactly a band that you need to worry about them. You will either like or loath this slab of intense molten metal.

If you a fan, get it, naturally. If you like your metal extreme and never checked this lot out then it's time you gave 'em a try. Absu is absolutely not for the meek.

Well, that is your lot for this week; enough for you to sink your ears into. As always have a safe and rocking week.

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