Not as prompt with this as I could have been. I apologize, the manuscript I was working had to be perfect before we sent it off last night. Still, making tweaks gives you lots of time to listen to some decent heavy rock.
The Wishing Tree: Ostara
This is pretty mellow for this column. Okay, probably the mellowest thing reviewed here in recent memory. It's even more mellow and laid back than Marillion’s recent “Less is More” reviewed here a while ago. However, as it’s a project of arch-progger Steve Rothery of Marillion fame, it's worth taking a look at. This is a release that you would take out in one of your very laid back and calm moods. A bit like some of Blackmore’s Night tracks, the ones not about drunken nights in the local tavern. I digress.
Rothery originally teamed up with vocalist Hannan Stobert in 1996 to form this band. Their debut album was released ten years ago. This release has 8 new tracks and a couple of live tracks from the band. Rothery and Stobert have a penchant for combining their instruments into soaring exercises in acoustic melody. Whether live or in the studio this lot produce music that is at its core a thing of beauty.
Not a release readers of this column would necessarily listen to that often. When the mood strikes I can think of no better release of its type. A tour de force of progressive mellow rock. Its hard to believe you will hear a more beautiful album than this in the coming year.
Axis of Evil: Get Dead
This band is barely drinking age in sensible parts of the world (like the UK), but they pump out the classic metal just the same. They sound like new wave of British heavy metal hopefuls that never quite made it, not for lack of talent but for bad luck. (And there were many.) With a healthy love of Judas Priest, Megadeth, and Maiden, they know it's all about the riff.
Oodles of riffing and some solid musicianship means that the original tracks on this release stand up well to the classic covers. Their cover of Judas Priest’s “The Hellion/Electric” would make even the most cynical Priest fan weep. They also give a good go at Skid Row’s “Slave to Grind”, a great track off that band’s often forgotten second album.
“Get Dead” is a meant to be a hint of what is to come on the band’s next release. If they can deliver an entire album as good as this track, then it's going to be something special. “Cruel Intentions” hints that it should be something every metal head should crave. This Arizona band is some hot young talent that gives us all pause for hope about the future of metal. As long as the pair of brothers can keep it together, metal fame and fortunate should not be that far away.
Those Crooked Vultures: s/t
Josh Home, Dave Grohl, and John Paul Jones doing their best to produce a supergroup to rival all supergroups. Sounding like Cream, "Scumbag Blues" is just pure creamy goodness, at their finest with a touch of stoner metal. These guys are having a bloody good time doing what they are doing, a similar vibe to what you hear in Chickenfoot. The nonchalance attitude on the album is infectious. Unlike po-faced and contrived supergroups like Audioslave, this band come across like they don't give a toss if people like it or not.
Not that there is any danger of that, of course. It's hard not to love this album with its great power trio vibe. There is nothing on here that does not delight. If you haven't purchased a heavy blues album in a while then you owe yourself this release. It might not exactly be all instantly to your liking, but repeated plays will reward in heaps. Very much a grower of an album. Personally this is the best music that I have ever heard Grohl involved with in his long career as a journeyman drummer. There is something here for fans of all the players old bands.
My only worry is that it will implode like Cream and we won't see anything else from this great collection of musicians. That would be a crying shame. I guess we never knew there was a need for heavy blues power-trio for new the century. TCV have convinced us of that need and filled the void nicely. Damn near essential for any heavy rocker.
Ever since the black metal genre started to diversify from the template laid down by Venom, Bathory and Emperor there has been much discussion on what qualifies. What defines black metal? Is it the subject matter, the grunt and growl vocals, blast-beat drumming, or ferocious riffing? Or can there be such keyboards, “clean” vocals, epic soundscapes, and a touch of other music styles?
Ihsahn, from the afore-mentioned Emperor, is of the opinion that it can be anything. This album mixes jazz, prog, and some of the normal deathisms into something that is really quite engaging. Like Opeth and Therion this band produces a form of music that could be known as extreme progressive metal. You never quite know where its going, but whenever it is it's pretty damn intense.
That said, this album is one of the most approachable things that Ihsahn has had anything to do with musically. If you go in with no prejudices and you have an open mind, it can be very rewarding. Instead of dealing with normal dark subjects of his former band, Ihsahn is more introspective about the struggles within. This is monumental stuff and builds on his previous two solo efforts. This is one of those releases I hate to have to stop listening to regularly. There is no doubting his talent and this release is proof.
Suicidal Tendencies: Live at the Olympic Stadium
Filmed in 2005 right before the Olympic Stadium venue was due to be converted to a Korean Christian Church, the band relieved their history in great style. For the night it was the “Church of the Suicidal” and Mike Muir certainly was its preacher. Now some would get rather bored with Muir’s lengthy on-stage quips and inter-song banter, but the fans of the band lapped it up.
Nothing in the form of extras on this release, its probably for those who wished they were at this gig but unable to make it. The gig comprises the whole history of the band from its early punk days to its more metallic later period. It was Suicidal Tendencies and 4000 of their “Cycos” living it up like there was no tomorrow (for the venue). Tracks like “I Saw Your Mommy” and “Institutionalized” measure up against their skate punks tracks like “Possessed to Skate”.
Love them or hate them, you can’t deny that they certainly have had some impressive staying power. While maybe not the release for someone wanting to see what ST are all about, this DVD has some worth for their cyco fans. A bit more content would have been nice it must be said.
Well that is your lot for the week. Quite a bit to sink your ears into and some good variety to boot. As always check out live music when you can, stay safe and rocking.