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Music Reviews: Live, Collected, and Zombified

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Has it been a week already? I hope you enjoyed the inaugural version of Marty’s Musical Meltdown. Most amusing to me in this last week was the fact I got feedback at a Reculver gig from several of my industry contacts.

As promised, most of this week’s content is going to be of a harder edge than last week’s. But first, I start with two live reviews from a busy gigging week. The coming week will be a wee bit quieter, as I am only going to see two: Opeth on Wednesday and the Melodic Rock Xmas Bash all-dayer on Sunday. But enough of my blathering — on to the reviews.

Gig Reviews: Reculver and Murdoc

Reculver on a Blinder

Hot young hard rock hopefuls Reculver did their damnedest to produce a blinder of a headline gig on November 24th at the Underworld in cold London town. And, boy, did they achieve it! I didn’t bother to see the other two bands as I was otherwise engaged; however, I made it just in time for this storming foursome.

The four guys look and sound like 80s hard rock. The lead guitarist, Simon, throws shapes like Joe Perry of Aerosmith fame and even dresses like him. His playing has that blues–meets-country vibe. It was hard not to say, “Yee-haw!” as he introed at least one of the tunes. The rhythm section is tight as a monkey’s arse, and the drummer, Jarrett, knows all the right moves. (He could do a bit more spinning his sticks… we had a brief chat about that over a few cold ones). The bassist, Jim, has the sort of cool vibe that you’d expect from any rock band bassist who doesn’t sing: he’s right on the money with his playing, but he lets the lead singer and guitarist take the spotlight.

Then we come to the chap at the front, Luke. Long haired and goateed, he looks as if he stepped out of central casting for the role. He has the pipes, the charisma, and the guitar skills to get Reculver where they need to go. Unlike their previous recorded material (much of it demos), there is nothing the slightest bit grunge about this lot live. It’s pure, unadulterated hard rock with a pinch of Cinderella, Tesla, and Aerosmith. This band will go down huge in the US as long as they avoid the college indie circuit. They’d make perfect touring partners to someone like Tesla or Ted Nugent. In short: they freaking rock. Like with Tokyo Dragons & the Answer, I can’t bloody wait to hear what these guys are going to do on their album (being mixed now). Oh yeah, and they are all damn nice blokes, as well. This seems to be the year for straight-ahead booze soaked hard rock in the UK. Long may it continue.

Murdoc Rock a Castle

Murdoc stormed the Dublin Castle on November 26th with their tight performance and classy songs. They’ve sure come a long way since the last time I saw them, when they were a bit haphazard, to say the least. Now they are a rather good four-piece group with a female guitarist/backing singer and charismatic front man. They have a strong boozy vibe going on and with jolly good songs, to boot.

And it should be said that the band take care of their fans. A bunch of underage fans came along, and the venue changed its mind over their admission. The band made sure these kids had something to do while the band were on — they took them to a movie so they wouldn’t end up wandering around Camden on a Saturday night. As far as I could tell, the band were as concerned about their young fans as they were their own performance that night. A very classy move.

Overall, Murdoc deserved to headline this gig as they certainly produced the tightest set of the night. The band are keen to get into the studio and do another set of material to show how far they’ve come. As with the other two gigs I saw this week, Murdoc were well worth the trip across London on a cold November night. They’re certainly a band to watch over the next year or so. Thanks to Dean for the invite and best of luck in his new venture: Tourdates.

CD Reviews: Anthrax, Dragonlord, and Indukti

A motley collection this lot, but some decent stuff nonetheless.

Anthrax’s No Hit Wonders

Thirty tracks (and only one different mix of the same song!) from Anthrax’s pre-John Bush past. Released on the back of hugely successful “classic line-up” reunion tour, this CD is clearly a money-spinner for the record company. It comes not very long after Greater of Two Evils, a set of the same songs re-done with John Bush on vocals. That said, No Hit Wonders isn’t a bad collection if you have all these tracks on vinyl or want to re-live your long-haired, denim-clad youth.

It can be argued — and I would do so — that Anthrax’s best material was done with John Bush on the mic. Specifically, their finest hour came in the form of the awesome Sound of White Noise. However, most people seem to have their fondest memories for the gumby metal of Belladona-vocalled Anthrax. While Megadeth, Slayer, and Metallica were serious, Anthrax was always a bit more goofy. Need proof? Check out “Antisocial” (an English remake of Trust’s song…a band which Iron Maiden’s did a stint with), “Efilnikcufecin (N.F.L.)” (“nice fucking life” spelled backward), “I am the Law” (an ode to the comic Judge Dredd), and “I’m the Man.” That last track was credited with inventing the rap-metal genre. It’s a good song, and the crap that followed in its wake at the hands of Korn and their ilk should not diminish the song in any way.

The pre-John Bush version of Anthrax did fun metal with great aplomb and are great fun to listen to, even almost 20 years after some of these tracks were originally recorded. Seeing as some press reports say a new record from this line-up is unlikely, as old tensions have returned during the touring process, No Hit Wonders might be a cheap alternative to collecting their entire Belladona-era catalogue. Yes, the second disc lags a bit starting about half-way through because the material isn’t as good as some of the earlier material. But with 30 tracks, some uneven quality is bound to result.

Is this collection an essential collection for everyone? Probably not; but if you ever had a soft spot for this load of nuts or wondered what all the fuss was about, then No Hit Wonders is a great purchase. It’s a good collection: well put together, and light on the filler. It will put a smile on your face, of that I have no doubt.

Dragonlord: Black Wings of Destiny

Dragonlord is a black-metal supergroup of sorts, featuring Testament founding member Eric Petersen. Black Wings of Destiny is less of Testament under another name and far more of a nod to Dimmu Borgir in its black metal intensity, with the track “Blood Voyeur” as a good stylistic example. It’s very much a Euro-black metal release than the more North American flavour of Testament’s prog-thrash. This stuff is complex and epic in nature, for sure. Interestingly enough, the last track is a cover of the Thin Lizzy track “Emerald,” not exactly a natural choice for a black metal band. It’s a rather good version that bizarrely fits in this collection. The cover of a black metal veteran’s “Merciful Fate” track in the form of “Black Funeral” is a bit more logical and just as good. Black Wings of Destiny is a quality release from a very talented band. While it doesn’t break any ground in the genre, its quality speaks volumes. Who cares if it’s just Eric having a bit of fun on the side, as long as we get to hear the results?

Indukti: S.U.S.A.R.

You just knew it was going to happen sooner or later. Someone was going to produce an album that pretty much apes the mellower of Opeth’s releases like Damnation. It had to happen, considering the well deserved praise that is being heaped on the Swedish/Mexican prog death metal band. Well, this lot of Poles Indukti are the first lot I have heard try it. The PR claims more of a Tool/King Crimson influence…well maybe via Opeth. And while these sort of clone bands tend to annoy this reviewer (Vanden Plas with their Dream Theater by the dots, for instance), it’s hard to fault this lot’s release.

S.U.S.A.R. is is of a high quality that most bands will never achieve. The musicianship is bloody impressive, and the little touches like harp are just a joy to behold. Alas, you just get the feeling you have heard it all before done quite a bit better and with more original feeling. This is an enhanced CD with a rather odd, make that very odd video for a song called “Mantra” that looks as if it were made with a map creation program for a first-person shooter computer game. This is a very good release by some very good musicians; just don’t expect anything too groundbreaking as you enjoy it.

DVD Review: Hellbilly Deluxe by Rob Zombie

This is an impressive reissue of the quintessential Rob Zombie CD with the addition of every song as a video, even in these days of excellent DVD releases. Rather than merely an average release, you have the original tracks and their video counterparts in one place. In addition, you’ll find the usual DVD enhancements, including a photo gallery and some other bit & bobs. Unlike many other artists, Rob Zombie is very much a visual as well as audio musician, so the addition of video content really does bring the tracks to life. They help you peer into the warped world of Mr. Zombie on such tracks as “Living Dead Girl” and ”Dragula”. The DVD has two remix videos and eight unreleased videos, all of which were directed by Rob himself. It comes with new artwork as well, done by none other than his nips himself. Hellbilly Deluxe is a must for any Zombie fan and would make a great introduction to the musical force that is the man. Whether this DVD release is a case of Zombie being indulgent to his ego or indulging his myriad fans is another matter. But when the quality is this good, it’s almost a moot point.

Well, that’s all I have reviewed for this week; the pile is looking a little smaller. Next week, I”ll have live reviews of Opeth and the aforementioned Melodic all-dayer. I hope you enjoyed this sophomore column. I hope, like many a successful rock band, I do not suffer from the sophomore slump. Rockgards to you all.

ed/pub bhw

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About Marty Dodge

  • Guppusmaximus

    Great Review Marty,

    DragonLord is kinda like Dimmu Borgir…Huh, I guess I will have to check that out, but I am definately interested in Indukti if it comes anywhere close to Opeth it must be pretty good.
    Now, my only gripe…. Granted Anthrax acted like a bunch of clowns from time to time they still put out some great work like “Among the Living” and “State of Euphoria” which is more than I can say for Rob Zombie with his Disco Rock. I even saw Rob(White)Zombie when he opened up for Anthrax on “Sound of White Noise” and they killed him.The only good thing was the chick on Bass..*Smirk*.. Even the White Zombie material was utterly boring & monotonous… I think Rob and Andrew W.K. should come out with some Aerobic DVDs and leave the Metal to the Pros!!

    Thanks for the info on those two new bands….