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Music Reviews: The Cringe, The Hawkwind Triad, Orwell, and Whiplash

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I looked at my calendar today and realized that my week had extended a wee bit. Must have been all the ash that continues to bugger things up all over the world. That and speaking appearances, a rather ill dog, and other distractions.

The Cringe: Play Thing

No this isn’t yet another remake of the Japanese horror film The Grudge. It’s a new band of rockers aiming to make it big. This is pretty mainstream stuff, but thankfully nothing to do with pop punk or that band who we shall not name. Oh and the driving force behind the band is the husband of TV personality Rachel Ray.

It also features a former member of Bruce Springsteen’s band and Mr Bungle, there is a decent amount of experience there. You could describe this as power pop for the masses. Lots of tracks strike the sound that you might expect to hear pop up on a soundtrack to a TV show sooner or later. There really is nothing that ground-breaking on here, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. It's solid song-writing and musicianship that produces solid pop rock.

There is plenty to sink you teeth into, and songs like “In the End (We are all the same)” are good enough to put a smile on your face. There is something almost English about the sound of this band and I am sure given a release in the U.K. it just might bother the British charts.

The Hawkwind Triad: s/t

An interesting project where three bands Harvestman (side-project of Steve Von Till of Neurosis), U.S. Christmas, and Minsk share a tribute album to legendary space stoner rocker Hawkwind. Is this necessary or needed considering all the other people who have paid tribute to the influential group of nutters? Probably not, but when it's done as well as it is on here, then we should not dismiss it out of hand. OK, that is more directed at me, since we reviewers are subject to so many god-awful tribute albums, that one that is good is often a surprise.

All except the most ardent fan of Hawkwind would be forgiven for wondering if they tributes on here add enough to the table. Does this really feel that different to the original tracks to make it special? Ultimately it does not really matter as its done with such loving grace and attention to detail the album flows like any good stoner rock album should.

Kudos go to the bands who have done an admirable job covering a band that influenced them. I am sure Hawkwind fans will find nothing objectionable about this and it’s a good addition to the pantheon that is the world of Hawkwind.


Orwell: Endeavors

Just when you thought you had heard the end of the metalcore boom in modern metal, this drops on your doorstep. And it's very much like the rest of the metalcore bunch of inspiring, insipid modern plod. These young guys from the Midwest do it well, but it's such a flooded-with-rubbish genre that it's hard to take the release seriously.  That said, they do seem to try to extricate themselves from the mire of metalcore.

The musicianship in “Anticipation” is quite impressive, and show the guitarist actually knows how to play a solo. “Consumed” is less metalcore and more mere death-metal. This is nice, but then again it's nothing that raises them above the fairly full genre of death metal. The whole disc has a rather samey vibe about it, that is fairly niggling. Why the hell would you want to subject yourself to over eight minues of “Fortress”? I mean it's not like there is much variety over the length of the song.

These guys can obviously play and have talent. Let's hope next time they evolve like many of their modern metal fellows into something with a bit more substance that is less stuck in time. Metalcore has had its day, thankfully, but bog standard death metal will not help either.

Whiplash: Unborn

With a name like whiplash no one should be surprised to hear that these guys are veteran thrashers who have been through the mill. This is their first release since the death of their bassist Tony Bono. They started in the mid-80s at the height of thrash and appeared on several great compilations, including Speed Metal Hell along the way. This is some high quality thrash speed metal.

None of this “modernising” for these guys, they are still doing what they always did and doing it rather well. It's some great thrash that really remind the listener of why people loved the genre in the first place. It's nothing deep, clever or progressive, that is just the way we like it. Considering it's been a decade since their last release and that release was a best of, some might argue this is not a complete return to form, but it's good enough for me.

Native American chanting adds a nice touch along the way. If you like your thrash then I would seek this sucker out. I can’t believe I let this one slip down the back of the CD rack and didn’t review it last year. Better late than never eh?

I hope you enjoy this collection of reviews. Stay safe and rocking for the next week.

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