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Music Reviews: Glyder, Lechery, White Widdow, Serpentine, Newman, and Vintersorg

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This week features a fine collection of music that reminds us all of a different decades.  It’s amazing what trends bands pick up who aren’t old enough to be around the first time.

Glyder: Backroads to Byzantium

Despite the odd name for the album–the title suggests this might be a turgid concept album–this is typical hard rock fare. What struck me a few listens in is that the band have lost a bit of their Thin Lizzy vibe and added a dash of Diamond Head, no more so than on the opening track. The band’s new singer from Northern Ireland has a Sean Harris quality to his voice. The band seems to have adapted their sound to mix well with the vocal style and its paid dividends. What has resulted is a more classic rock/NWOBHM sound than before. This is not a bad thing, as regular readers of this column wil tell you.

With one exceptin, Glyder has produced a consistent collection of songs that fit well into past output. The song “Down & Out” just completely kills the vibe and should have been left for last, or better yet not included at all. The departure of their previous frontman seems to have left the band unaffected at all. Whether this album will finally get the band the kudos they deserve is another question. Its just good stuff all around and no doubt will be a treat live. Glyder continues to develop with each release, and this one is no exception.

Quality hard rock is always a treat and Glyder fit that bill with aplomb. It’s well worth checking out this autumn.

Lechery: In Fire

Lechery contains a bunch of Swedes, including an ex-member of Arch Enemy and a bunch of his mates from other metal bands. What they produce is a combination of Judas Priest and Germanic metal in the form of the Scorpions (old) and Accept. This is proper heavy metal with no apologies; these guys are doing it old school. Unlike on their first effort, which was more of a patchy affair, this time the band seems more together. Considering some of the stuff the band has been through since the first release, that is quite a surprise.

In Fire is not groundbreaking by any means, nor will it win any prizes for originality. It rises above the “all right” to pretty decent.  However, if you are in the mood for some straight ahead metal, then you could do far worse than this release. There is nothing the slightest bit out of place or weak about the music on here. Clearly they understand the right elements for the music they want to create. As with many of these releases, it has a strong tinge of festival metal with enough chest-beating sing-along choruses to please the metal masses every summer. If you like your metal pure and simple, then this just might be just up your musical street.

White Widdow: Serenade

Break out the wine and fill your glass because this is full-on pop rock cheese. The opening keyboards are a good hint at what lies therein. It’s like every 80s soundtrack you have heard rolled into one big cheese log. They are a bunch of Aussies who have shied away from the AC/DC & Cold Chisel style of Aussie pub rock. This stuff makes Guiffria, Survivor and House of Lords seem heavy. To this bunch grunge never happened and Miami Vice is still the height of style. Check out how they are dressed on the cover, rolled up jacket sleeves–oh yeah.

Not to say that it is fair to completely take the piss. This is nowhere near as sticky sweet as the couple of releases I reviewed last week from Yesterock. There is a healthy dose of guitars and drive mixed in with the generous lashings of keyboards. There is no denying that “Cry Wolf” is catchy as stink, but maybe a bit heavy on the keys. The lyrics are cliché ridden and predictable. Then again, when you are at an 80s club drunk on champagne sparkling wine you would hardly care. Each of these songs is guaranteed floor-filler, and that is obviously what the band is aiming for in the end. I mean “Patiently” is the uber-cliché slow-dance of the decade, possibly. No doubt they want this to be their “Heaven” or “Every Rose has its Thorn.”  Maybe on their next release they might tone down the keyboards and bring the guitars a tad higher in the mix.

Hell Airborne kicked off the new wave of hard rock and they are from Oz. Could WW be the leaders in a new wave of pop rock cheese (N.W.P.R.C.)?

Serpentine: Living and Dying in High Definition

Serpentine are Welsh and big in Japan. Buurn Magazine gave their debut album a 92% rating, impressive by any standard. Despite being a young band of Welsh hard rockers, they are fronted by TNT vocalist Tony Mills. Mills adds a touch of gravitas to this release, resulting in an album of strong poppy hard rock. The most obvious band you hear in buckets is Journey. This band clearly admire that band at their peak, and Mills is going with the flow channeling Steve Perry at his best. Production values are very Raised on Radio era. It helps that keyboardist Gareth David Noon has all the chops of Jonathan Cain.

“Deep Down (There is a Price for Love)” is a track you could imagine wafting out of a Trans Am circa 1987 as it bombed down i-95 to a gig at the Miami Marine Stadium. There is even a song that pays tribute to American radio with the track “Philadelphia.”  As with their debut this is just a quality release start to finish. There is no denying the level of performance on this CD from everyone involved. They know what they are going for and hit the mark perfectly. Every bit is balanced perfectly. It’s no wonder melodic rock fans in Japan like this so much; Living and Dying in High Definition certainy qualifies for AOR album of the year. If you are in the UK and like this sort of stuff be sure to check them out at Firefest in October.

It’s nice to hear that there is music coming out of Wales that is a bit more upbeat than misery guys like the Stereophonics.

Newman: Under Southern Skies

Led by the namesake of the band, this is classy AOR. If you take Toto at its best and add a touch of Survivor, with the musicianship and songwriting to boot, then you are getting somewhere near what this bunch produces.  Newman sounds comparable to Heartland, if a tiny bit more edgy–a bit like Giant with less of a hint of country. Classy and quality just ooze from the speakers as these guys do their thing. There is just something incredibly infectious about the songs on this release, an example of the ever increasing quality of releases from AOR label Heaven. Heaven is certainly a label that can rival Frontiers with this sort of release.

Newman is not some wet behind ears group of new wave AORsters, but a band that has been around since the late 90s churning out albums of AOR goodness. Steve Newman seems to be able to continue from strength to strength with this album building on the band’s 2010 release.

This music might not be for everyone, but there is no denying the sheer quality of the output. This is not a bunch of musicians trying to recreate 80s AOR, but a band of musicians who know what it takes to make a contemporary-sounding AOR album.

Vintersorg: Jordpuls

The duo is once again making their way towards to the progressive goodness that is Opeth or Ihshan. At times the tracks on here have an almost Jethro Tull-like quality to them, at their heaviest. Sung in their native Swedish, this album is even more catchy that their last outing. While not catchy in the Viking volk metal beer drinking variety, the chorus still engages.

Not surprisingly some reviewers take exception to the mainstreaming of this release; there is a sense that too much of this comes from programming rather than live instruments. The production is almost too slick for a folk metal. You suspect that if they had the money they would be employing full orchestras on their next release. 

That said, all the complaints are fairly moot. This is a great folk-tinged progressive album that is equal parts beautiful and aggressive. The band have a good sense of what the right is combination for the songs. Every time I listen I hear another texture or element to the track. I especially like “Stjärndyrkan” with its over-lapping vocal intro.  Those waiting with bated breath for the new Opeth release might want to check this out to tide them over.

On that folkie progressive note it is time to end the column. Stay safe and rocking next week.

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