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Soul Desire – Ignite

Posted in Alternative, CD, Rock with tags , , , , , on 1st August 2018 by mickbirchy

Soul Desire
Ignite
Hard Rock, Alternative Rock
Released 13 July 2018
Self Released



I was quite interested to listen to Soul Desire. Formed this year, and already armed with an exciting and well-executed EP. I can’t say I knew much about their previous band, One Last Run, so I’m not really going to touch that. However, Ignite is the first taste that we’ve got from Becky Jade (Vocals), Rob Leach (Guitar) & Chris Smith (Bass) in this new project and I am thoroughly impressed. The sound is good, the melodies are catchy, the lyrics are well written all leading to a great debut for them.

The album opens with their lead-in single, “Rapture” and it automatically sets the tone for the EP, which is rocking hard and clearly enjoying it. I like the sound of the guitars and the bass which chug away and the riff is a great one to open with. It really feels like that sound that I have been listening to for a long time, with bands like Papa Roach, Skarlett Riot and Firewind. So points there and the same can be said across the EP. It has that really clear and defined tone that just punches you right in the gut. Also, the songs “Dark Light” and “Ignite” were brilliant headbangers as well. From the production standpoint, this album is great to listen to and catches the ear just right.

My only problem with the EP is that it reminds me too much of other bands out there. In all honesty, there’s not much in this genre anymore that you can make original without co-opting other musical influences. Whilst the lead vocalist, Becky Jade, certainly brings her own charm, energy and personality to the music, the overall sound is something I’ve heard a lot of. Not so much a problem with the band it’s more the genre itself. However, they do suffer from it. I would have liked some other musical ideas or just something to put meat on the bare bones. Maybe some backing tracks, electronics or other instrumentation, but that’s just me spitballing.

I will admit it’s a fine EP. It has some very strong production and beautiful lyrics. I particularly liked the ballad “Falling Apart”, it broke up the EP and showed that they’re not just a one trick pony. I would definitely like to hear more from them as they’re very talented musicians. I also would really be interested in hearing them in a live setting. Ultimately I’m giving this EP a thumbs up. If you’re into you alternative hard rock then I would recommend giving them a listen.

3.5/5

Mick Birchall

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DevilDriver – Outlaws ‘Till The End

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 18th July 2018 by mickbirchy

DevilDriver

Outlaws ‘Till The End, Vol 1.

Groove Metal, Melodic Death Metal

Released: 6th July 2018

via Napalm Records



This album is an amazing concept and something I kind of want more of. Judging by the title, we might just get it. DevilDriver, have created an album full of metal covers of classic outlaw country songs. Outlaws ‘Till The End Vol. 1. I’m a huge fan of country and metal music, so this works perfectly for me. Also, this doesn’t feel like a cheap cash-grab. There does seem to be a real effort and passion put into the album. It’s clear from listening to it that DevilDriver has a lot of respect and love for the artists that they’re covering. All of the songs pack a punch straight to the gut and give new life to these songs for a new generation, who may have never encountered them otherwise.

Covering artists like Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and The Eagles. They manage to capture the soul of the original songs whilst, at the same time, putting their own mark on the tunes. Giving every song that signature DevilDriver edge that sounds really brutal. Production-wise, the album sounds great. With chugging guitars, well-executed drum work and Dez Fafara screaming his heart out. Producer, Steve Evetts, did a great job putting this project together. Every instrument sounds brilliant and Fafara roars over the top of it all, creating an energetic and fierce sound. Joining DevilDriver on the project is an all-star cast of metal artists: Wednesday 13, Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe and Mark Morton, Lee Ving from FEAR, Glenn Danzig, Brock Lindow of 36 Crazyfists, Testament’s Chuck Billy, and John 5. Who all add that little bit of flavour to an already delicious sound. As well as the metal star power, there’s a cool appearance from country heavyweight, Hank Williams III. Who performs his song “Country Heroes” with DevilDriver.

The songs are already tried, tested and beloved outlaw country songs like “Ghost Riders in the Sky” by Johnny Cash, “Outlaw Man” by The Eagles and “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere” by Dwight Yoakam. So as far as the songwriting is concerned, it’s great. It really is the way DevilDriver have re-imagined these songs and made something truly original out of them. Almost turning them into their own songs. The way they take the familiar elements and put their own spin on things is mesmerising and is still enjoyable on the other side.

No doubt this album might be little divisive to some. Fans who might have just wanted more original content from the band may be annoyed by a cover album. Also, country fans may not like the idea of these metal versions, “destroying the original sound”. Yet, I really like the idea here. More importantly, I like the execution and delivery. DevilDriver has made a fun, compelling record that I think people will really enjoy. The existence of the covers doesn’t ruin the originals but continues their legacy by getting new listeners on board. Be that with songs they’ve never heard, in the case of metal fans. Or a genre they’ve never considered, in the case of country fans. Since the title is “Volume 1”  all I can say is when is “Volume 2” coming?

4.5/5

Mick Birchall

Urne – The Mountain of Gold

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 30th June 2018 by mickbirchy

Urne

The Mountain of Gold

Groove metal, stoner metal

Released: 27 July 2018

Self-Released

Image may contain: night and outdoor

It always sucks when a band with so much potential, doesn’t go the distance. Hang The Bastard are a prime example of this. An excellent groove metal band that always brought the extra something to their live performances and it really sucked when they split in 2016. Well hopefully, this will go some way to easing that loss for the fans. As a new band formed by two former members of, Hang The Bastard emerges. Bassist, Joe Nally and guitarist, Angus Neyra have come together once again to make something new and special within the same vein of music, with their new group, Urne. Armed with their new drummer, Rich Wiltshire they’re ready to unleash their new EP – The Mountain of Gold. I’ve had the chance to listen to it prior to its release and I have simply loved what I’m hearing.

The album kicks off with this atmospheric build up to the debut single “Dust Atlas”, which then kicks into a powerful bombastic riff. Already establishing a commanding presence, they manage a great balance between heavy and melodic as Joe’s vocals come in. The music’s production sounds simply phenomenal, with the guitar roaring away, the bass pulsating and the drums sound as sharp as a tack. The riffs are groovy as hell and the whole EP packs one big punch. The bands also add that groove flavour to the riffs to keep the songs fluent and easy to listen to. In all honesty, I like the simplicity of the sound. It’s definitely bare bones metal but it’s really effective.

The only thing that I am not a fan of is the vocal effect that comes in from time to time. It’s I find the echo distraction and makes the production cluttered. However, I think that’s just my personal bias, toward vocal effects. On the other hand, I did like Joe’s screamed vocals. Although it sounds like he is straining himself at times, there’s real emotion to connect with when it comes in. I can’t think of much else that I didn’t like here. Urne really presents a great EP, it has a dynamic sound that keeps you entertained from start to finish.

It’s really good to hear new and fresh music from musicians that have already proven themselves in the arena. The Mountain of Gold is a well made first step into this new venture for the groove metal trio and I’m excited for what comes next.

4/5

Mick Birchall

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Sick N’ Beautiful + Supports @ Manchester Aatma

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , on 4th June 2018 by mickbirchy

Sick N’ Beautiful w/ Bad Pollyanna & Novacrow

Venue: Manchester Aatma Date: 02 June 2018

This was an interesting show, to say the least. First of all, I struggled to find the venue. I like to think that I know Manchester pretty well but I had to lap the building a few times to even find it. So that wasn’t the best start. Also since this was one of the last dates of the tour and this date was a last minute addition to the tour, there wasn’t much of a crowd in the venue. Still the bands really brought the energy and intensity, resulting in a fun time regardless. I have recently reviewed the new album from Sick N’ Beautiful and I really liked it. It had so much personality to it, so naturally, I had to check out what a show from them would be like. Also for an added bonus the support came from Liverpool’s mad rockers, Novacrow. Also, one of my favourite bands, Bad Pollyanna. With all that in play I knew I was going to have a good time.

Novacrow


Straight from the get-go these guys brought so much fire. They just went absolutely crazy on the stage. The guitars roared and the bass pulsated as they brought their tunes to life. Unfortunately their drummer was absent but nothing that a cardboard cutout of Danny DeVito and a drum machine couldn’t fix and to be fair it was mixed pretty well into the set. They wouldn’t stand still for one moment and I liked that. Lead vocalist, Kitty was a mad woman, roaming around the venue and screaming with such passion. They were a lot of fun and I was really into it. Every moment they were playing the audience were captivated by their antics. I haven’t seen them in a long time and I have to say they haven’t missed a step for a single moment.

They’re just as fun and enjoyable as ever and they’re clearly having a good time when they play. The only real problem I had with the set is that the balance was out at times. There would just be moments where the distortion was just a little too much and you couldn’t hear the actual music more just noise. However they made up for that with their personalities. They were beaming with big grins as they played great tunes like “Fight The Horde” and ending the set on the ever popular “Fat Frog”. Where the band went into full on crazy mode. Definitely an enjoyable opener and it made me realise that I need to see them more often. They put on a great live I hope more and more people catch on to them.

Bad Pollyanna


I’ve already kinda gave this away but yeah Bad Pollyanna are one of my favourite bands. I could go to see them again and again and never really get bored. They have the really nice balance of rock and electronica. Once again they didn’t disappoint. They blasted full force on the stage and I think a lot of the audience knew who they were as well which added to the show immensely. I loved the set list, each song followed into the next, it all felt like it really flowed well. Songs like “Pull the Trigger” and “Bionic Heart” got the people moving and I was really enjoying myself. The electronic sections really add layers to their live set. It was mixed really well with the live instruments and the vocal performance was sublime. Frontwoman, Olivia Hyde and bassist Nikki Kontinen had some really great moments of vocal harmony as well. The whole set just felt so fluid. “Define Me” was really well received as well, as one of their biggest hits. They just injected so much charisma and energy into their set. Their performance was engrossing. Maybe a little more restrained that Novacrow’s set, but still really fun to watch. It was really hard to take your eyes off of them.

There wasn’t too much in the way of negatives in this set. To be perfectly honest I was enjoying myself too much to really notice. The mark a really good set in my opinion. The only thing I wish is that there was some new material for them to play. As much as I love the two albums they have I wish there was some new music just to spice up the set list a little more. To be fair though that’s not a bad criticism to give, I want more music.  Bad Pollyanna continue to be one of my favourite bands to watch live. Everything they do while on stage is really enjoyable and their songs are very entertaining.

Sick N’ Beautiful


Okay…This was actually really good. Very much worth the wait to see. Sick N’ Beautiful really know how to put on one hell of a show, even the smallest and cramped of spaces. Seriously talk about making the most of the space given to you. They really brought their set list to life in the best of ways. Their music was excellent as they played some of my favourite tunes from the album. Their performance was out of this world with strobe lighting and a very interesting presentation. The sound was pretty damn good as well. The songs were well played.

Unfortunately the crowd had thinned out even more than before so there wasn’t quite as much energy as there was for the openers. I would love to see them play to a much bigger and more energetic crowd because I think a show like that would be quality. They clearly put a lot of time into their stage personas. I really loved them for the short time they were on stage. The setlist was great I really liked “Megalomaniacal” and “All Wanna Go To Heaven”. They just performed really well. I loved that they put their all into the set, I can really respect that. They clearly have a passion for performing and it shone through here. I wish there was more of an atmosphere to the show, but beggars can’t be choosers and I had a great time listening to them.

Mick Birchall

Sick N Beautiful – Element of Sex

Posted in Alternative, CD, Industrial, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , on 31st May 2018 by mickbirchy

Sick N Beautiful

Element Of Sex

Shock Rock, Nu Metal, Electronic Metal

Released: 29 June 2018

via Rosary Lane Records

Sick N Beautiful are a shock rock band that took me by surprise. Their new album Element of Sex is absolutely superb. Mixing elements of rock, metal, pop and electronica and combining it with sci-fi themes. In my book this makes it a real winner. They have so much personality and they really use this album to express themselves. For people who may not be well versed in this style of music, it’s meant to be loud, heavy on the distortion and has character driven lyrics. So if you enjoy Lordi or Rob Zombie, you’ll more than likely get into this. I have listened to the album a few times now and I have to say I’m really enjoying the sound. It’s weird enough to be abstractly enjoyable but conventional enough to garner a wide audience. I think it’s a good place for them to sit.

Their music is this great fusion of rock and electronica with a gothic edge. It puts me in mind of German industrial music with its distorted guitars and well put together arrangements. The production is sharp and the unique sounds of the band truly engross you. Their sheer charisma is matched by an intense energy that persists throughout the record. The riffs come thick and fast, they really sound great. With the electronica influences the songs sound other worldly and give the guitars and bass a slightly weirder tone. It’s almost an orchestral vibe, intercut with nu-metal undertones. I have to give a lot of credit to the vocal performance of Herma. She sings the songs with such passion and conviction; every moment of her performance on the album is absolutely captivating.

Their lyrics are fun as well invoking scenes of sex, violence, space and ritual. All cleverly tied together with the use of imagination. They manage to use their lyrics to create scenes in your mind where they can tell their story. They sound like they’re having a lot of fun with the lyric writing and use their imaginations to tell stories and that’s what I like here. There’s never a feeling of being talked down to. You go for the ride with them and I can appreciate musical escapism.

Overall, I have really loved listening to Sick N Beautiful. They’re a strange band but very likeable. Their music is enjoyable and with their use of genre hopping and mixing it really feels like something fresh and new. Even though there’s nothing really different the way they piece it all together feels new and it’s a bit of fresh air in a genre that hasn’t progressed in a while. They make music they clearly enjoy and their not going to let anyone tear them down or make them feel ashamed. It’s a fun album and in my opinion definitely one to pick up.

4/5

Mick Birchall

Turbowolf – The Free Life

Posted in CD, Experimental, Punk Rock, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , , on 20th February 2018 by mickbirchy

Artist: Turbowolf

Album: The Free Life

Genre, Psychedelic, Punk, Electronic

Released: 09 March 2018

via So Recordings

The Bristol based psychedelic punk rockers, Turbowolf, are back with their third album, The Free Life. They’re definitely one of those bands that are so different and distinct that you either love the sound or hate it. I personally, love what they produce. I like bands that really challenge their listeners and do something different and Turbowolf have that spark, something that their fans can connect with which leaves casual fans with intrigue (and I’m sure some confusion). I loved their 2011 self-titled debut so much. It was a burst of creativity and really delivered a full package of excitement, not bad for a first outing. Their 2015 album, Two Hands, left me a little disappointed, maybe it was just the victim of over-hype, but it just wasn’t as good. Some great songs individually but the album wasn’t as well put together for my liking. However, early demos and singles from this album sounded interesting enough for me to want to get the whole album and a proper spin.

The album sparks with energy straight off of the bat, with the infectious No, No, No. The synth, guitars and bass all meld together to create this delicious soup of electronic noise. Exactly how you want a record to open, with a punch of punk right in the senses. Across the board Turbowolf seem to have more of a toned sound on this album. Guitarist Andy Ghosh and bassist Lianna Lee Davies bring the heavy riffs that feel heavier. When they kick into full punk mode you feel this rush of psychedelic electronic sounds. The riffs are tight and the basslines are highly enjoyable. Every second of this album hits hard and fast with all of the verbose and intricate sounds that Turbowolf have become known for. Chris Georgiadis’s vocals fit well. He delivers the lyrics in such a way that you have to pay attention to what he’s saying. Then when the vocal harmonies come in, it leaves an impact. On a sound design level The Free Life impresses and on writing level it’s excellent. Turbowolf do everything in their power to bend the very concept of music to their whims.

Also, with this album comes a slew of featured musicians to collaborate on this project. Joe Talbot of fellow Bristol band Idles, lends his vocal talents to Capital X. Sebastian Grainger of Death From Above adds his musical mind to the track Cheap Magic. Mike Kerr of Royal Blood trades lines with Chris in the mind melter of a tune Domino. Finally, Chantal Brown of acclaimed psyche-metallers Vodun adds her flair to the song Very Bad. Usually I would say having this many featured guests cheapens a record. However every single one adds something unique to their respective song and makes the album all the more varied and diverse. One thing is for sure, you will not be bored with this album in a hurry. There is so much to appreciate and the talent on display is immense.

Now like I said Turbowolf are a very distinct band, so this will not be to everyone’s taste. If you’re not into this type of music then this album will do very little to change that mindset. They have definitely chosen their direction. Whereby they push the medium further with every release. I mean they do have some crossover appeal and casual audiences will probably take to the singles, as they do get radio play. However, the albums go full on weird mode and it can be a little much for the average listener. They’ve always had that effect though, so nothing new there. I’m very much into the sound on display here. There’s a creativity and splendor to the album that makes it sound so interesting. From its most intense punk moments to the mind-bending distortion and synths that gives them their signature sound. You will not mistake Turbowolf for anyone else, they hit the mark perfectly here.

5/5

Mick Birchall

MAKS – 3ft No Diving

Posted in CD, Folk, Rock with tags , , , , , , on 2nd February 2018 by mickbirchy

MAKS

3ft No Diving

Rock, Southern Rock, Adult Alternative

Released: 23 June 2017

Self Released

This is definitely an interesting release to listen to. MAKS is a Dutch multi-instrumentalist singer songwriter with a very distinct sound. It’s a big old mixture of rock, new wave, country and adult alternative. His new album 3ft No Diving is certainly something very unique, I guarantee you haven’t heard anything like this. It’s an album that really stretches the length of what you’d call “rock music”. The type of album you get here is an interesting musical soup of different instrumental styles and genres which when combined make for something really interesting to listen to. All of the songs are written by him, barring the two covers which I’ll mention later, so there’s some real personal ideas here which I feel are executed well. OK, this album is not going to be to everyone’s taste, I’ll tell you now but there’s some fantastic songwriting here.

The album opens with the foreboding tone of “Portal”. However this is quickly moved into the first song on the album “Lay Down Low” and automatically you learn what type of album you’re getting. A nice fusion of electronic new wave and folky southern rock and it actually works quite well. Obviously he’s not the first to make this odd pairing but he definitely has his own vision of how it should work. The guitar being very prominent and most of the other instruments falling into the background somewhere. MAKS voice is really good, a very soothing tone for the melodies and every so often he has that blues scratchiness to his voice which is great. In particularly for his cover of “Stones in my Passway” a blues classic by Robert Johnson. The other cover “Waiting for the Man” by Lou Reed is nicely performed as well, although I’m not the biggest Lou Reed fan, I can appreciate this. It’s very clear from the sound on the album that this was a passion project and the passion definitely shines through.

However, the production is not all there, at least not for me. Everything is quite tinny and there sounds like there’s a lot of audio filters. Hey, if this is your thing then fine but for me, I like a little bass and more of a bottom to the production. The acoustic guitar sounds lovely, however everything else is quite muted and feels synthesised to a degree and that gets annoying after a while. If the drums had a little more impact to them and the bass filled the bottom of the sound, then this maybe a little easier to listen to. Other than that, I have very little problems, the songwriting is great and I love how the melodies flow, it sounds well put together on a writing level, also the riffs are well executed.  

For me I like it. I didn’t love it, but I look forward to hearing him create more music. He obviously has an ear for lyrics, melody, harmony and rhythm and with that comes something that truly sticks with you. Again, the production may not be to everyone’s taste but I think with a little bit more of a punch and a thicker tone this could be something I could say I love.  Definitely worth checking out anyway. Hope you listen and enjoy.

3.5/5

Mick Birchall