Welcome to a new look of MMM.
To my surprise the new Van Halen album A Different Kind Of Truth is actually quite good. The album is a clear return to vibe of Van Halen of old. “Tattoo” is a good hint of what is on here and was a good choice of a first single. While all 13 tracks are not of consistent quality, this is certainly worth it for any Van Halen fan. Rest assured, this is more than a mere nostalgia trip and excuse to tour again with original singer David Lee Roth.
Generation Wild by Crashdiet is a wonderful collection of trash glam rock that could have come out of the Sunset Strip, circa 1988. The sneering Swedes have got the whole thing down to a science. Their latest is infectious and guaranteed to put a smile on your face. It is perfect music to put on before a night out.
Another candidate for your sleaze choice is a band called Nitrogods, with their self-titled release. While not as instantly gratifying as Crashdiet, there is a good bit of promise on here and it is worth your time. Nitrogods’ adoration of Motorhead is hard to miss.
If the night out goes well, you might want to have Mr. Big’s Live from the Living Room ready to go on the stereo. It is Mr. Big playing their hits acoustically to an adoring Japanese crowd. The fact the gig features their “classic” line-up makes it all the sweeter.
In a similar AOR vein is a band called Xorigin, with their latest release State of the Art. This a damn solid CD with a good mix of rockers and ballads. None of the ballads make you wince.
“In the Blink of an Eye” gets the power ballad just about perfect, but try not to sing along. It is a solid release from a quality band that deserves AOR fans’ attention.
Speaking of the mellow side of AOR, there is a new release from the Michael Thompson Band by the name of Future Past. This has a strong West Coast vibe and will be great for open top driving come spring.
Toby Hitchcock’s Mercury Down shows that this guy certainly didn’t release a bunch of throwaways for his solo album while he waited for Pride of Lions to come off hiatus. It contains strong hard rock tracks from an impressive vocalist. Check out the soaring tracks “Let Go” or “One Day,” either of which could be prime cut Survivor.
If you are looking for something heavier, there is a always Third Cage from Dario Mollo and Tony Martin. This is the third “Cage” release and it reminds me of all the good things about Martin-fronted Black Sabbath. There is a strong Headless Cross vibe on here that is mixed nicely with less heavy tracks. If you liked any of the other Cage releases this should please you.
Those in need of something even heavier should check out Kill Devil Hill by Kill Devil Hill. This is the debut album of a new heavy rock super-group that combines two relative unknowns with two veteran players on the scene. Black Sabbath/Heaven & Hell drummer Vinnie Appice and Rex Brown of Pantera fame join the couple of less well-known musicians. The rhythm axis of Appice and Brown is quite something to hear. The two of them are as tight as you would expect from such veterans of the genre. Thanks to Dewey Bragg on vocals, this band sounds like Alice in Chains if it were a classic rock band instead of part of the grunge era. The mash-up between Sabbath & Chains works so well it is hard to resist. Took a few listens to get into, I have to admit. It was the track “Voodoo Doll” that really hooked me. This is an album that rewards repeated listens and a bit of patience.
Kill Devil Hill manages to successfully combine a modern sound with a vibe that will please older metal fans. It seems to tap into that same musical sense as Those Crooked Vultures. TCV is the classic heavy rock and modern rock super-group which features John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin and Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters. It is great to see Vinny Appice back with another great band so soon after the sad demise of Ronnie James Dio . Time will tell if KDH will have the same success as Chickenfoot, Black Country Conspiracy and TCV. There is no doubt they should be as big as those bands. As with any of the super-group type bands, there is always a worry it is a one-off. Hopefully strong sales of this album will make sure there are plenty more albums to come.
On that heavy note, it is time to end this week’s column. Stay safe and rockin’ out there.