Archive for the Rock Category

Uncle Paul – Dot Rotten

Posted in CD, Experimental, Rock with tags , , , , , , , on 14th April 2019 by mickbirchy

Uncle Paul
Dot Rotten
Noise Rock, Stoner Rock, Psychedelic
Released 14th January 2019
via Introclusor Records

You guys know me by now. I’m usually the first in line for the weird and experimental side of rock n roll. After all, today’s experimental music is tomorrow’s mainstream. So, why not listen to everything that you can? Which leads me to this EP. Dot Rotton is the newest release from the weird and wonderful Uncle Paul and let’s just say it’s an interesting listening experience, to say the least. Sounding like a weird hybrid of Butthole Surfers, Deerhoof and Lightning Bolt, this band have really captured my imagination. Though this isn’t the best example of the genre, the North-West UK rockers certainly work as a weird noise rock psychedelia band, that incorporate elements of garage rock and stoner rock into their style. Referring to themselves as “refined musical dyslexia” is a good call, because this is what this is, a random assortment of musical ideas thrown into a melting pot and left to simmer.

Though it would take you longer to listen to “In A Gadda Da Vida” than it would this entire EP. I think there is some merit to the EP. In the sense, that you shouldn’t try to investigate it or look into it too deep. It’s more just a musical experience with a hodge-podge of ideas, riffs and distortion just blasting full force at the listener. With vocal effect layered over the sound and weird noise coming from every which way. It’s an EP to lose yourself in and not worry too much about its motivations or connotations. It’s just music for music’s sake and, you know what? That’s actually quite refreshing from time to time. The production is all over the place with nothing really meshing or coming together. Very much like the noise rock movement of the early 90’s this band just make what they feel like and run with the ideas they have.

Let me put this straight, this is not of the average consumer of music. There are no hooks or ear-worms to be found here. Yet, there is some creating bass work, some great riff ideas and guitar licks littered throughout the EP. Which makes it enjoyable enough. Also, considering that a couple of the songs don’t even reach two minutes long and the longest track here is four minutes, the music just passes by so quick that you don’t even realise that you’ve just heard something really fun and ridiculous.

By no means is this a great example of modern rock music. Yet, it serves as an interesting example of the noise rock sound and how it can still be relevant today. Then again, noise rock usually exists outside the normal boundaries of music anyway. If you like that  90’s Gen-Xer sound or watched a lot of Bevis and Butthead then I would recommend this in a strange way. It’s not a masterpiece, nor is it trying to be. It’s designed to be off-putting and weird and to be honest, that’s what I liked about it.

3.5/5

Mick Birchall

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Tara Lynch – Evil Enough

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , on 10th April 2019 by izaforestspirit

Tara Lynch
Evil Enough
Released 1st March 2019
Heavy Metal/Hard Rock
Released via Cargo Records

Image result for tara lynch evil enough

Evil Enough’ is the debut album from the American heavy metal singer and multi-instrumentalist Tara Lynch. The album features several guest performances from a wide variety of metal and rock musicians including the following: Vinny Appice (Dio, Black Sabbath), Phil Soussan (Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol), Glen Sobel (Alice Cooper) and many others.

This is a very guitar-focused album. As far as the genres go, I would call this classic heavy metal with hints of hard rock. Most of the songs feature great guitar work and each of the guest musicians is given a chance to shine. Yet the real star here is of course Tara Lynch herself. I can see how she earned the nickname “Gui-Tara!”. Her guitar skills are nothing short of impressive and she has a good voice too. Her vocal style reminded me a little of Doro Pesch.

Antidote caught my attention due to powerful vocals and excellent guitar work. It also acts as a means to showcase Tara Lynch’s vocal range. There is a lot of emotion audible in her vocal performance which is great to hear. It’s pretty clear why this song was chosen as the first single from the album. Kringeworthy, one of the more melodic songs on here, also deserves a mention. It starts off slow, melodic and ballad-like before picking up the pace towards the end. Once again the guitar work is impeccable and the vocals work well with the music. Then there are the instrumental Gui-Tara Rises and Enigmatic being the most guitar-centered tracks on here with no shortage of memorable riffs and solos.

Overall, there is a lot to like on ‘Evil Enough’ especially if you are a fan of guitar-focused heavy metal. I think that hard rock fans will enjoy it too.

4/5

Iza Raittila



The Raven Age – Conspiracy

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , on 27th March 2019 by Paul Macmillan

The Raven Age

Conspiracy

Hard rock/metal

Released March 8th 2019

Self-released

This is an interesting release for one major reason; it doesn’t fit neatly into a specific sub-genre of either rock or metal. Kicking off with an orchestral piece, which comes across like a meandering fantasy adventure film soundtrack, could easily give you a false impression of what follows on Conspiracy. This is, however, the second long-player from Londoners, The Raven Age, so if you’re familiar with predecessor, Darkness Will Rise, you might be more prepared than others. Regardless, they are still a difficult prospect to pigeonhole.

Whatever they are, it seems to be working for them. Their mass-appeal, melodic metal has already received rave reviews from Kerrang, Metal Hammer, and Powerplay magazines, to name a few of the bigger hitters. It’s easy to see why. These accessible tunes come from the shared house of Disturbed, Killswitch Engage, and, maybe at the rough edges, In Flames. There’s certainly a large, existing market for that.

While there are immediate metal tinges, this release leans more to the classic end of that spectrum much of the time, overlapping into old-school hard rock, despite the overall contemporary feel. The clean, powerful singing throughout is one of the stand-out features to represent that. Heck, I think they might have even half-borrowed a vocal melody from Phil Collins’ Land Of Confusion at one point. It’s catchy and effective, and one of the most memorable parts of their sound.

Perhaps one of the reasons this band are currently picking up so much speed, and in just a few years a few years of existence, is that not many others are currently taking this approach. If you like your heavy not so heavy, this might just tickle your fancy. However, if something more extreme is your go-to, it ain’t gonna tick your boxes. Either way, it’s worth a spin, just to find out.

3.5/5

Paul Macmillan

Alestorm live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , on 4th March 2019 by izaforestspirit

Bootyard Bandits, Skálmöld, Alestorm
Klubi, Tampere, Finland
3rd March 2019

Alestorm… It’s been a while. Nine years to be exact. The last time I saw these guys live was in 2010 when they supported Sabaton. I was also at their show at Wacken Open Air in 2008. They have always been one of those bands that I enjoy watching live but I have never actually listened to any of their albums in full. I might play the odd song or video but that is all. They are a party band that is fun to watch live while enjoying a nice cold beer. This was their first headlining show in Finland and it was sold out.

First up was a British band called Bootyard Bandits. These guys clearly like all things Wild West ranging from cowboy hats, country music to banjos. I’m not sure how to describe their style – “comedy country rock?”, hard rock…They were definitely fun to watch. I especially enjoyed the heavy metal banjo solo featuring a cover of AC DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ and other hard rock classics. 4/5

Next up was an Icelandic Viking folk metal band called Skálmöld. Their show was a bit more serious but still good. They sound like a mixture of Týr and Falkenbach. All their songs are in their native Icelandic. Good vocals and some of the songs were catchy but I could have done without the Týr-style progressive guitar parts. 3.5/5

Then it was time for the headliners. When Alestorm took to the stage I found myself on the edge of a mosh-pit. The crowd really went wild during the show. There was everything from the usual head-banging, air guitar to rowing inside the mosh-pit during one of the slow songs. The Scottish pirates played some new material including ‘Mexico’ along with some old hits such as ‘‘Keelhauled’, Captain Morgan’s Revenge’, ‘Drink’ and a cover of ‘Wolves of The Sea’. 5/5

 

In summary I had a great time and I enjoyed all of the performances. Bootyard Bandits were better than I expected. Skálmöld had a few memorable moments. Alestorm were entertaining as always. Pirate metal is fun to watch, just do not take it too seriously.

Iza Raittila

Stelios Gatziolis – Sphere of Resonance

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , on 24th February 2019 by mickbirchy

Stelios Gatziolis

Sphere of Resonance

Instrumental, Progressive Rock

Released: 30th September 2018

Self Released

 

 

What do I say about this one? It’s weird, I mean I grew up listening to a menagerie of different rock and metal styles. One of the records I loved was Surfing With The Alien by Joe Satriani. From there on in I always made time to instrumental records done well. So, here I am listening to the new EP by Stelios Gatziolis and I’m not getting into it. I don’t know there really feels like there is something missing from this and I can’t put my finger on it at all. The new EP, Sphere of Resonance dropped last year and it’s done well for the solo guitarist. As well as that, this EP features ex-Dream Theatre keyboardist Derek Sherinian, who put his seal of approval on Stelios’ playing by featuring on the tune “Doomgazer”. Not a bad endorsement at all.

The four-track EP is relatively impressive from a technical level. The intricate guitar skill of Stelios is really impressive. The way he weaves in and out of melodies is awesome, it really is a captivating listening experience. The backing band creates a nice backdrop for the guitar to truly shine. The heavy booming bass perfectly syncs up with the well-executed drum work. The keyboard and synths add a really nice atmosphere to the tunes. The guitar playing is slick and you soon pick up on his playing style. As each song has a slightly different variant on this style. The songs all play on the rule of tension and release. Each song builds up the tension and then has a massive payoff of guitar goodness. The song featuring Derek Sherinian, “Doomgazer” probably uses this technique the best.

Unfortunately for all of its positives I still can not get into it. For the most part, it just feels soulless. It just feels like a passion project that was meant for the artist himself and no one else. In fact, it feels like a demo to a much bigger project yet to be released. Unfortunately, I don’t know if such a project is on the way but I hope it is. You know, to justify this EP’s existence. The songs, whilst impressive on a technical level, are meandering and trite. I’m fine with ‘progressive’ music but this feels like a jam session that was recorded and released.

It’s decent enough and I stand by both parts of my review. From a technical view, it’s really good. Yet, at an entertainment level, it’s a little toothless for me.

2.5/5

Mick Birchall

Lord of The Lost live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Live, Metal, Rock with tags , , , on 22nd February 2019 by izaforestspirit

Rain Diary, Lord of The Lost
Jack The Rooster, Tampere, Finland
21st February 2019

I originally had two live shows planned for this week. Sadly one of them got cancelled and re-scheduled for the autumn. So I will have to wait until September to catch Ozzy Osbourne live in Helsinki. Get well soon Ozzy!!

This brings me to the other gig that I have been looking forward to for weeks – Lord of The Lost. I first discovered them three years ago when they came to Tampere supporting Combichrist. I was totally blown away by their performance and since then I have acquired most of their releases. Their latest album ‘Thornstar’ was one of my top 10 albums of 2018. So, needless to to say I jumped at the opportunity to see them live again. This time they played at a rock pub called Jack The Rooster, one of the few music venues in the city centre that also serves food during the day.

First up was a Finnish dark wave band called Rain Diary. I have seen them live before; just last year when they supported Vlad in Tears. This time they had a much bigger audience – the show was sold out and there was already a sizable crowd gathered when they started their set. It was a good show and enjoyed dancing to their music. 3.5/5

Then it was time for the night’s headliners – Lord of The Lost. The venue was packed by then. Their frontman Chris Harms made some comments about how small the stage was. Apparently it’s been many years since they have played on a stage this small. Luckily it did not affect their performance. They played many songs from ‘Thornstar’ including ‘On This Rock I Will Build My Church’, ‘Haythor’, ‘Loreley’ along with some old crowd-pleasers such ‘Dry The Rain’, ‘Six Feet Underground’, Drag Me To Hell’ and many more. They even did a rather amusing “metal” take on Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’. Fantastic show! 5/5

In summary, it was a really good night and I am glad that I got to see Lord of The Lost live again. As I mentioned at the start of this report the band has been a bit of an obsession of mine lately. I cannot get enough of their music. I would recommend their music to anyone who likes dark rock or Gothic industrial metal.

Iza Raittila

Avantasia – Moonglow

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , on 8th February 2019 by mickbirchy

Avantasia

Moonglow

Symphonic Metal, Power Metal

Released: 15th February 2019

via Nuclear Blast Records

Every time a new album from the mind of Tobias Sammet comes out, you know I have to listen to it. The new album from Avantasia, Moonglow is another home run for the band. This is their eighth studio record to date and they keep going from strength to strength. This album is one of their most impressive in my opinion. It has so many interesting elements, mixing many different styles from around the world, they have created a complex and dynamic record that is consistently interesting. I have been really into this band for the longest time. The way they mix sounds, melodies and intricate lyrics has always captivated me.

The album was produced by Sascha Paeth and Tobias Sammet and I think they have created something beautiful with this record. Right from the very first track “Ghost In The Moon” the overall sound is so good. The  interweaving of themes, melody and lyrical poetry make this an exciting and interesting listening experience. All of the Avantasia tropes are present, the epic choirs, the fast and furious power metal energy and Sammet’s infectious charisma. His vocals just demand your attention and coupled with the overwhelming orchestral metal sound, every song hits you like a tonne of bricks. Also, this album contains an all-star cast of great metal musicians to accompany Sammet and share the workload. Massive names such as Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Mille Petrozza (Kreator), Candice Night (Blackmore’s Night), Geoff Tate (Queensrÿche), Eric Martin (Mr Big) and Michael Kiske (Helloween) all lend the assist to making these songs sound so powerful and making the word larger than life.

Personally, this is one of my favourite Avantasia albums. The hooks are simply massive and I’ve had a tonne of fun just rocking out to these songs. From the soft and tender ballads to the energetic and forceful power-metal songs. I don’t think that Avantasia has ever really sounded this good. The guitars can be punchy or lend to a gentle atmosphere. The keyboard and synths are simply wonderful encompassing the music in an aura of majesty. The bass is tightly locked in with the drums and keeps the rhythm beautifully. All in all, every instrument sounds massive and Paeth and Sammet’s production makes everything sound as good as possible.

This is a flawless album and already up there as one of my favourites of 2019. From the passion and conviction of the performances to the sharp and punchy melodies. This album is just one to listen to over and over again. I mean making great music is just Avantasia’s M.O. at this point, yet, this album goes above and beyond the call of duty and really delivers something special. Exceptional writing and fantastic production carry this album to a pleasing 66 minutes 45 seconds, that I just want to keep listening to as many times as I can.

5/5

Mick Birchall