Archive for the Rock Category

Planet of Zeus – Live in Athens

Posted in Metal, Rock with tags , , on 13th November 2018 by mickbirchy

Planet of Zeus

Live in Athens

Stoner Rock, Groove Metal, Southern Rock

Released: 30th October 2018

via ihaveadrum Records

There are two peaks in a bands career. Two heights of artistic achievement that they can wear like a badge of honour. One is the concept album, the other… The “live” album. Nothing really says “We’ve made it” like selling out a venue, recording the show and selling that show for all to hear. For me, one of the best live acts I have ever seen would have to be, Planet of Zeus. They are a force to be reckoned with on the stage. Their music is so anthemic and powerful, it can connect with pretty much any audience member at any show. All I can say is if you haven’t taken yourself to a show from them. Treat yourself the next time they’re in town. After their most recent record Loyal To The Pack, the band played their home countries capital city, Athens, to a ravenous crowd, giving birth to the bands first ever live album: Live In Athens (I know, such an original title).

I will say that this record sounds excellent all the way through. It captures that feeling of a Planet of Zeus show to an extent. From the heavy riffs to the excellent and gut-busting solos this album sounds so damn good. When Stelios Provis busts out the solos, the rest of the band create a tight foundation from which he’ll just let loose and create magic with the guitar. The set-list for this show was a solid one as it’s completely filled with energy, good vibes and their unique atmosphere that they bring to the show. You even hear those little echoes and refrains that you only hear in a live setting. When Babis Papanikolaou roars out the lyrics to songs like “A Girl Named Greed”, “Loyal To The Pack” or “Macho Libre” I can feel it right down in my gut. It’s the kind of voice that you take notice of. The production as a whole is wonderful.

The record is beautifully balanced and well mixed, I can only imagine what some of these songs felt like in the gig itself. If there’s anything that Planet of Zeus is known for it’s their riffs and they packed this setlist with their finest. Songs like “Leftovers”, “Devil Calls My Name” and “Little Deceiver” are definitely the moments that grab your attention. As their riffs just have that way of getting in your head and sticking around. It’s that great balance of groove, rock n roll and balls-to-the-wall heavy that makes Planet of Zeus such a compelling band to listen to.

However, I think there’s something that can be lost on a live record. Some things from the gig itself don’t always translate quite as well to the album version. This is the only downside I can think of to this record, yet, it’s more of a failure of the medium. Some bands can really transcend it and make you feel like you’re at the gig from the live album alone. Here, I don’t think Planet of Zeus has quite pulled that off. Although, it’s a great recording and there’s all of the unfiltered crowd banter, as well as the audience chanting for the band. The recording of the crowd is great too. You hear their chants as clear as a bell and their interaction with the band is great. It must’ve been quite the crowd to be a part of night itself. Yet, there’s just something missing from it that stops it being an amazing live album. Don’t get me wrong it’s still a great listening experience but it’s not a great “live album”.

This is a fun record to listen to. A must buy if you’re any sort of stoner rock or groove metal fan. If you’ve never listened to Planet of Zeus I would say that this is a great album to get you started. Not only did they provide some of their best material but you get a small sample of what it would be like to listen to them live. Which is a treat! I adore Planet of Zeus (if I haven’t made that obvious) and having missed the Loyal To The Pack Tour, this was awesome for me to listen to. They are simply one of the best bands going today in my opinion and this live record should be more than proof to anyone who denies that sentiment.

4.5/5

Mick Birchall

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Sunflower Dead – Coma

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , on 12th November 2018 by Paul Macmillan

Sunflower Dead
Coma
Released  16th November 2018
Hard Rock
Released via Combat Records

Featuring former Fear Factory bassist, Christian Olde-Wolbers, Coma is the latest recorded work from Californian rock band, Sunflower Dead. If you’re expecting chuntering, mechanical metal, however, sit back and prepare for a surprise. This is nothing like the aforementioned metal giants of the 1990s.

Drawing in equal parts on nu-metal and 80s classics, SD have melded together a surefire concoction, utterly guaranteed for rotation on mainstream alternative channels. Big chunks of Korn, Dope, and Disturbed have been cherry picked to form a large part of the body of sound, but are equally matched by volumes of Skid Row, and Zakk Wylde (especially in some of the lead work shredding). Everything is further fleshed out with something else of the band’s own creation, plus a spritz of something akin to Pist. On. jamming with Sevendust.

Nothing groundbreaking, then, yet it still has character worth giving a chance. It wouldn’t be too much of a shock to see this band taking the reigns of the soundtrack for a sequel to Queen Of The Damned. Looking over their back catalogue, Coma is certainly a big step up from previous releases, but continues in the same style. Existing SD fans should get a real kick out of it. Personally, I’ve moved away from such things for the most part, as years have gone by. I wouldn’t shy away from it, but I’d be more likely to plump for yet another spin of Demanufacture. Maybe I’m just old…

3/5

Paul Macmillan

Escape The Fate announce ‘This War Is Ours’ 10th anniversary tour

Posted in Misc., News, Rock with tags , , , , on 9th November 2018 by izaforestspirit

The American rock band Escape The Fate have announced that their ‘This War Is Ours’ 10th anniversary tour will come to Europe at the start of next year. The tour celebrating the 10th anniversary of the release of their debut album starts in The United States in December 2018. Then the European leg of the tour begins on 24th January 2019 in Bristol, The UK .

Here is the full schedule:

January 2019
Thu 24th – Bristol, UK, Thekla
Fri 25th – Manchester, UK, Gorilla
Sat 26th – Nottingham, UK, Rock City
Sun 27th – Dublin, Ireland, Voodoo Lounge
Mon 28th – Belfast, N. Ireland, Limelight 2
Tue 29th – Glasgow, Scotland, Garage
Thu 31st – Antwerp, Belgium, Zappa

February 2019

Fri 1st – Cologne, Germany, Kantine
Sat 2nd – Copenhagen, Denmark, Pumpehuset
Sun 3rd – Stockholm, Sweden, Fryshuset
Tue 5th – Helsinki, Finland, Nosturi
Thu 7th – Oslo, Norway, Parkteatreret
Fri 8th – Goteborg, Sweden, Sticky Fingers
Sat 9th – Hamburg, Germany, Grunspan
Sun 10th – Berlin, Germany, Bi Nuu
Mon 11th – Munich, Germany, Backstage Halle
Tue 12th – Prague, Czech Rep., Futurum
Thu 14th – Vienna, Austria, Szene
Fri 15th – Milan, Italy, Live Club
Sat 16th – Zug, Switzerland, Galvanik
Mon 18th – Paris, France, Le Trabendo
Tue 19th – Eidenhoven, Holland, Dynamo
Wed 20th – London, UK, Electric Ballroom
For more details visit:
http://www.escapethefate.com.
https://www.facebook.com/escapethefate/

DC4 – Atomic Highway

Posted in Alternative, CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , , on 22nd October 2018 by mickbirchy

DC4

Atomic Highway

Hard Rock, Classic Rock

Released: 21 September 2018

via Highvol Music

With over 40 releases under their belts combined, it’s really easy to expect a lot from these bonified legends of the industry. DC4 are a supergroup formed by brothers, Jeff, Shawn & Matt Duncan with their brother-in-metal Rowen Robertson, who between them have appeared in such bands as Armored Saint, Odin, Killer Bee & the legendary Dio. So their rock n roll pedigree is far from in question. We know they can do the job. The question is this, are they any good? My answer, in a word, yes. It’s all the great aspects of classic hard rock and none of the fluff. Their new record, Atomic Highway is an enjoyable experience that will get any rocker’s mojo going. If the talent on display didn’t impress you, then know that Bill Metoyer produced and mastered the record. With bands like Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies, Corrosion of Conformity and the aforementioned Armored Saint under his belt. You can bet the album is going to sound as good as it can possibly be.

This album gives you everything you expect. Powerful riffs, gut-busting solos, commanding vocals and grooves for days. The band sounds so good, with strong songwriting and well-executed performances all around. It’s amazing how this automatically feels like a classic record with those familiar guitar sounds that you could swear you’ve heard before. The band just rides the groovy riffs and then go wild during the solos, whilst still maintaining that great control of the rhythm. No one member feels more important than the other, everyone plays their part beautifully. Sure, the rock style may be formulaic, but at this point, it’s a tried and tested formula of rock n roll and it guarantees that people keep listening and enjoy the songs. The impressive guitar solos are what sell this record for me. When the guitar is let loose, I can feel goosebumps shiver through my body. The precision and skill, blended with a wonderful rhythm section make the solos pop and really stand out.

Jeff Duncan’s vocal performance is great as well. He has a dynamic singing voice that ranges from powerful with a rough edge, to tender and well toned. When he sings, his voice sores above the production. The music matching the lyrical subjects really well and the squealing guitar contracts well against his vocal style. I really don’t think there is a dull moment of the album. A real shock for me came with their unique cover of The Who’s “Baba O’Reily”. Although it’s not a flawless cover version, this song is a beloved favourite of mine. So anytime I get to hear it, a smile comes to my face. It also comes with cameo appearances from Guns ‘N’ Roses’ Dizzy Reed on the keyboard and John Bush (Anthrax, Armored Saint) on guest vocals. So that was pleasant and made the song more whole then if the band just tried to do it outright.

In all honesty, you get what you pay for with this record. It’s meat and potatoes rock n roll. If you love your classic rock and that old school flair, then this is for you. As a kid who grew up thumbing through his dad’s old albums, this album is right up my alley. It’s familiar and new in all the right ways. It doesn’t beat you over the head with nostalgia. It simply feels like a record right out of the past with newer production. Atomic Highway is a solid album that will please people who love unapologetic rock music. Let me tell you, I’m having a ball listening to this record.

4/5

Mick Birchall

Bad Wolves – Disobey

Posted in Metal, Rock with tags , on 3rd October 2018 by Paul Macmillan

Bad Wolves

Disobey

Released 11th May 2018

Melodic metal/hard rock

Released via Eleven Seven

It’s been some time since I listened to a full album of music of this ilk. Falling somewhere between the ballparks of nu and 00s melodic metal, the tone really pulls me back to when I was a young un. To be honest, I didn’t even realise people were still putting out releases quite so earnestly in this style. It’s no big surprise when you find out that Bad Wolves feature among their ranks former members of Snot and In This Moment. The result is neither as urban or as soft as that might lead you to believe, however; possibly under the influence of other contributors’ previous employ in the likes of Devildriver and Divine Heresy.

The full and final effort is most assuredly accessible, mainstream heavy metal, but so much time has traveled by since that sound was originally formed, that it’s somewhat ‘retro’. If you dug into the easier metal bands of the late 1990s and early 2000s, you’ll no doubt have some familiarity with Sevendust, and, unavoidably, Killswitch Engage. Throughout Disobey, whether in emotional melody or grunting angst, these are the kind of artists who are brought to mind. It’s not as technical as the former, or as strictly structured as the latter. They would maybe have been more at home during the heyday of such trends, rather than stepping into a scene which has exploded into diversity, and away from the swansong of traditional progression paths via big labels. Perhaps the protracted release and promotion schedule (the first single came out November 2017), is aimed at finding a new way to get around this.

This is an easy listen, and a well executed album, but I do wonder if modern metal fans will be as inclined towards it as they might have been a generation ago. (Yes, it has been that long!) Their huge single in Cranberries cover track, Zombie, will no doubt keep them remembered for years to come. Could it have been bigger with different timing, though?In my own opinion, the album kicks the a*** off bands like Nightwish or Ghost, as music with a significant amount of clean singing, but I would have likely been more instantly gripped by it 15 – 20 years ago. It’s a hard call as to how far this could go with metal Joe public, now. In total, we can be a fairly unpredictable bunch.

3.5/ 5

Paul Macmillan

Bad Wolves’ UK tour starts next week

Posted in Metal, Misc., News, Rock with tags , on 28th September 2018 by izaforestspirit

Good news for fans of the American hard rock band Bad Wolves. Their European tour with Three Days Grace starts next week. They will playing in The UK first.

Here is the schedule:

Mon, Oct. 1st – Pyramids Centre, Portsmouth
Tue, Oct. 2nd – Rock City, Nottingham
Thu, Oct. 4th – O2 Institute, Birmingham
Fri, Oct. 5th – St. Philips Gate, Bristol
Sun, Oct. 7th – O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London
Mon, Oct. 8th – SWG3, Glasgow
Tue, Oct. 9th – O2 Ritz, Manchester
For more information visit:
https://badwolvesnation.com/
https://www.facebook.com/badwolvesofficial/

Alice In Chains – Rainer Fog

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , , on 16th September 2018 by mickbirchy

Alice In Chains
Rainer Fog
Grunge, Alternative Metal, Stoner Rock
Released: 24 August 2018
via BMG Records

The grunge rock icons, Alice In Chains return with their sixth studio album, Rainer Fog. They’ve always been one of those bands for me that I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with. I think they’ve had some amazing songs over the years and their influence is certainly felt across the world of rock music. Yet, I don’t think I’ve ever really enjoyed a full album from them, I like a few songs but never a full record. So, when I got the chance to check out their new album, I was curious to have a listen. This album is the third album with William DuVall as lead vocalist sharing vocals duties with Jerry Cantrell, and the first Alice in Chains album in 22 years to be recorded in their hometown of Seattle. The album’s title was inspired by Mount Rainier, a volcano that overlooks the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area.

Straight away the grunge tone takes over with sharp heavy blasts of the guitar as the opening tune “The One You Know”. The riffs are heavy and have that chugging tone. A lot of bass and the drum hits come through sharp. From a production standpoint, they sound excellent with a great balance and a clear tone. I will say they have a lot of strong hooks that keep you listening. There are moments of the album that just get stuck in your head. Also, the weird vocal effect is so strange to my ears it gets lodged in my brain. The dueling vocals between DuVall and Cantrell creates some very nice moments of harmony. Even the weirder moments from a musical perspective are save by the harmony. Like on the track “Fly”. A song that sounds like it was cut and pasted straight from the nineties.

Musically, Rainer Fog has some particularly strong tunes. The title track is great as it has that old-school Seattle grunge feel injected into it. Also, I really like “So Far Under” with it’s Sabbath-esk riff and bass tone that hits you right in the gut. However, I can’t stand up for the whole thing. A lot of the album feels like filler from previous Alice In Chains albums and it might as well be white noise to me. It has interesting ideas but for the most part it does nothing super interesting with them. It sounds fine and if you’re in to Alice In Chains you’re probably used to the hit and miss songwriting. For me though, there are just long stretches of the album that either don’t pack enough punch like on “Red Giant” or feels like it’s there to just take up space on the album such as “Drones”.

Yet again, Alice In Chains just makes an okay album. Nothing bad just nothing that really gets me going. It’s produced well but lacks a lot of imagination and feels like a band that’s just stuck, spinning their wheels. There are some great songs here and ones I really liked, with strong riffs and hooks. Others, where just long windy tunes that didn’t go anywhere. If you’re really into Alice In Chains and the Seattle scene then… well, you’ve probably already got it.

2.5/5

Mick Birchall