As winter raises its chilly head in defiance this week, I am warmed by the metal in my review pile. Well, at leastmost of it is metal.
Tyr: By The Light of the Northern Star
For reasons that escape me, I missed this release when it first came out in 2009. Their just announced U.S. tour has given me a perfect excuse to rectify the error. This bunch of Pagan metallers from the Faroe Islands really do what they do so well. I am willing to bet they will be a great opener for Amon Amarth.
To say I have been enjoying catching up with Tyr’s release would be an understatement. It didn’t even bother me that there was a “watermark” in each of the English tracks. I must say that I prefer their stuff in their native language as it adds to the gravitas of the Viking-tinged ,epic, salt-flavoured metal. If the second track, Tróndur í Gøtu, does not drive you to get your ale out to sing along, then nothing will. It's one of two tracks in their native language, both of which are great.
English or Faro, this is just great pagan metal with a band at the top of their game. There is little not to like on here and I can’t find anything that I don’t like. If you like your metal tinged with Viking lore, pagan imagery, and lots of ale then this lot will be quite up your cove. This is great stuff and one of the best metal releases of last year.
Wuthering Heights: Salt
You probably would have never guessed that Emily Bronte’ would be an inspiration for some fine power metal. Then again, they band deserve kudos for being original and not being a sub-Genesis Peter Gabriel inspired English prog band with that name. They are from Denmark instead of the UK, but produce some very fine progressive metal.
There is a touch of Dio as well as Savatage, which any readers of this column will know is not a bad thing. Like Tyr there is a vaguely nautical tinge to this release, hence the album title. Songs like “The Mad Sailor”, “Lost at Sea”, and “Weather the Storm” seems to fit perfectly with the coastal setting in which I currently reside. Their progressive metal sea shanty is quite entertaining and the choruses are as heavily catchy as you would expect.
The sing-along quality of the tracks make their progressive, power-metal style more accessible than some releases. This is the fifth album from the band and I am quite sure this is one of their best. Great stuff from the Danes, and no weepy morose prose in sight.
October File: Our Souls to You
The first thing that strikes you is the feeling you have heard it all before when it was done by Killing Joke and Fear Factory. Being the type of album it is, you get a healthy dose of re-mixes to pad it out, and as with most re-mixes, they don’t really add much to the original track.
The stand-out track is “Love is (A Warm Ak-47)” but that is about it. This lot are English and are getting kudos in places like Kerrang. I can quite get what all the fuss is about to be honest, even after quite a few listens. It's aggressive and angsty, but that is about it really. I am sure there will be people who take exception, but it really doesn’t impress.
A decent industrial metal release in the style of the giants of the genre. They do what they do and succeed mostly. It just doesn’t send me the way this release should. I suppose if you like the genre then check it out, but that is about all I can muster for this one.
Ares Kingdom: Incendiary
They have been around since the late 90s and play thrashy metal like it was the late-80s. “The Destruction Of Sennacherib”, which is an instrumental, proves to you that the band has the chops. This is no simplistic thrash or death metal, but a band that knows how to get the job done with some panache.
Gravely, death-metal vocals are really the only key to their intentions. Considering this release is self-produced you have to marvel at the quality. There are bands with a hell of a lot more money behind them that don’t do it this well. What I enjoy most is the fact the band are keen to use a solo to move things a long. Death metal without solos rather gets dull after a while.
No matter if you consider these guys late to first wave of thrash metal or early to the genre’s revival you can’t fault the quality. There are some great stuff here that is worth the price of admission. Let's hope you hear more from these guys in the future.
30db: One Man Show
This is not exactly heavy rock, but certainly very good rock. This “supergroup” of guys from North Mississippi All-stars, Open Road, Umphrey McGee, and Yonger Mountain String band definitely have to chops for a great release. There is a touch of country rock, blues, and even folk rock about here. But there is plenty for fans of groups like the Allman Brothers, Black Crowes, Kansas, and their ilk.
When I first heard of this release, I thought it would be just too mellow for this column. After many listens, I knew it had the balls and quality to warrant a mention. Certainly, this is more apt for fans of rock and fine musicianship than the Jeff Beck I reviewed last week. This release is rather hard to pinpoint and categorise. That is what makes it such a delight to listen to.
Songs like “Number Six” remind me of some of the material off the last Steve Morse Album. “Grave” on the other hand would not be out of place on current country darlings Zack Brown Band's hit album. There is something for everyone on here if you like clever played great American rock. Perfect for the next time the sun comes out and you have the windows down. They deserve to be the next great hit super-group.
On that mellower note, we shall end this week’s collection. As always make sure to stay safe and rocking.