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.