Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man

Posted in Metal with tags , on 22nd February 2020 by izaforestspirit

Ozzy Osbourne
Ordinary Man
Released 21st February 2020
Heavy Metal
Released via Sony Music

Ozzy Osbourne - Ordinary Man

The past few years have not been easy for the legendary heavy metal front-man Ozzy Osbourne. He has suffered from various health problems and injuries forcing him to postpone and cancel tours but he has managed to vent all that frustration and anguish into his latest studio effort – ‘Ordinary Man’. It is his first full-length album since 2010’s ‘Scream’. I have to admit that I had a little bit of catching up to do prior to listening to this. I’m a big fan of the old Ozzy albums, especially ‘No More Tears’, but the last album of his that I remember was ‘Down To Earth’. Luckily I managed to get hold of the ‘Memoirs of A Madman’ compilation to check out the stuff I missed.

So now that I’ve caught up on the past releases, it’s time to tune in to his latest opus… Straight to Hell marks a good start to the album, treating the listeners to an energetic and catchy heavy metal song. The guitars have playful, rocking feel to them, and Ozzy’s vocals work well with the music. So far so good. Then we get to the title track, which even after several listens, I still have mixed feelings about. It’s not so much that it’s a ballad. I have no issue with ballads. Ozzy has done a few good ones in the past including ‘Mama, I’m Coming Home’ and ‘Dreamer’. But this? I mean, the song itself is decent. I like the Beatles-style melody and Ozzy’s emotional vocals. But what the hell possessed him to to sink as low as to do a duet with Elton John? Seriously this is almost as bad as when Metallica decided to collaborate with Lou Reed. No! Just no.

Luckily the next track Under The Graveyard works much better. Now that’s the type of Ozzy song that I was hoping to hear. It reminds me of his earlier works and it is easily my favorite track on here. I also enjoyed It’s A Raid featuring Post Malone – another energetic and uplifting heavy metal song. Then the high descends into the low with the album drawing to a close with Take What I Want (feat. Post Malone & Travi$ Scott). Did I ever mention how much I hate rap and hip-hop? There is not a single good thing I can say about that song and vocals sound atrocious. Must skip. Oh wait! That was the final track!!

In summary I am a little disappointed with how this album turned out. There are a handful good tracks on here, about three of which I would happily play again. The rest range from the mediocre to the downright awful. I think that it would have been better without some of the collaborations. I really hope that this will not be his last album because Ozzy can do better.

5/10

Iza Raittila

3Teeth live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Industrial, Live, Metal, Rock with tags , , , , on 16th February 2020 by izaforestspirit

Khroma, 3Teeth
Olympia, Tampere, Finland
15th February 2020

My first gig of 2020! The American industrial metal group is a recent discovery of mine. I only got into their music at the end of last year after a few of my friends recommended it to me. They have been around since since 2013 and their music has been compared to the likes of Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and Nine Inch Nails. I found out that they were playing in Tampere so naturally I decided to go and see them.

The show took place at Olympia, a.k.a. Olympia-kortteli, a restaurant and gig venue in Tampere city centre. It was not super busy when I arrived but the main act drew in a sizable crowd.

First up was a Finnish alternative/electro metal band called Khroma. I normally like various forms of electronica and electro metal, but something about this band just did not work for me. The keyboards sounded decent and some of the guitar work was ok at times. Sadly the vocal style and the weird mish-mash of trip-hop and metal-core got on my nerves. The parts I liked were the instrumentals.

Then it was time for the headliners 3Teeth. They started a little later than scheduled and they encountered some technical issues during the performance. Luckily that did not stop them from putting on a good show. The singer Alexis admitted that he has never heard of Tampere before but he was glad to see a large crowd gathered to watch his band. They put on a good show. My kind of industrial metal. I particularly enjoyed hearing the older tracks such as ‘Master of Decay’ and ‘Atrophy’.

In summary, I am glad that I got to see 3Teeth live. It’s rare for new, up-and-coming bands from foreign countries to come to Finland, especially those from as far away as the USA. I hope that there will be more bands like this in the future.

Iza Raittila

Gorilla Riot – Peach

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , , , , on 14th February 2020 by mickbirchy

Gorilla Riot

Peach

Southern Rock, Groove Rock

Released 31st January 2020

via Off Yer Rocka Recordings

I have been following this band for a while now. If you are from Manchester then you should know who these guys are. Gorilla Riot are the premier southern rock band of the northwest. They have been tearing up the underground rock scene in the UK for a while playing some of the biggest festivals and headlining venues around the country. I have been interested in their music for a while and was intrigued to get this album. Peach is the first full-length album from the band. I have to say I am pretty pleased with the outcome and if you have never heard of these guys before, then this is the time to get into their music.

The album is filled with all sorts of riff-rock goodness including tight grooves and a real old-school feel. They have the groovy rhythms of the ’70s infused with the style, flair and production of modern hard rock. If you’re into the likes of Sturgill Simpson or Steve Earle then this is something right up your alley. There’s that real down ‘n’ dirty hard rock with burning passion and soul.  The production just feels massive with a lot of depth to the music. You can really feel the impact of the three guitars in the band with sharp and concise riffs, blistering solos and co-ordinated harmonies. The bass adds this massive bottom to the songs and the drum work packs a punch as it forms the framework of each song.

Saying all of that, I could definitely understand how this kind of music is not everyone’s cup of tea. The twangy blues rhythm is really slow-paced and when listening to the album all the way through. It never really feels like it picks up with every song hitting the same groove, or at least it feels like it. It could have done with an acoustic country-style ballad or a high octane super-charged track. Just something to break up the album and give it some more flavour. It’s not that any of the songs are bad, I just think it needed some other style of rock to give the band some more character and to show they can be more versatile.

I quite liked this album. I think it does more than enough to entertain. It’s not going to be to everyone’s liking and that’s fine. I think the band knows their audience and they’re not out to please everybody. They’ll keep right on trucking and I think that’s fair. They’re a really fun band to watch live and their music pretty much speaks for itself. It’s a solid album and definitely worth a listen.

7/10

Mick Birchall

Hollywood Undead – New Empire, Vol. 1

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , on 12th February 2020 by Pieni

Hollywood Undead
“New Empire, Vol. 1”
Rap Rock
Released: 14th February 2020
Via BMG / Dove & Grenade Media

HUNewEmpireVol1cover

Whether one likes Hollywood Undead or not, their ability to combine all kinds of musical traits can’t be ignored. So when many people said – Johnny 3 Tears himself included – that “New Empire, Vol. 1” would be heavier than ever, and then “Already Dead” was out, with all such Linkin Park-vibe, I was momentarily afraid they’d changed their focus to an “alternative metal” direction and forgot everything else that’s always made them somewhat unique. Well, they didn’t.

“Time Bomb” was the second single and proof of this heightened nature, laced with a fiery party-mood. Also “Empire” was released beforehand, built on enthralling drums and strong bass lines, revealing how intact is the band’s diversity.

“Heart Of A Champion” falls more or less in the same description as “Empire”, but is a tad more intense, more seductive – a mandatory sing-along chorus if played live. “Killin It” is way too hip hop for my personal taste, but while the metalhead in me will skip this track, the music writer must acknowledge its edgy composition, as well as the aforementioned mix of traits I’ve always admired in this band. The final track “Nightmare” is also a hip hop tune, but the soft piano keys and bitter chorus make it more alluring to my ears – and surely a grand finale for most fans.

And while “Enemy” goes blasting pretty much through and through, “Upside Down” gets the prize for the catchiest melody in this record. It features Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens, even though I believe Danny would’ve covered that perfectly (sorry Quinn!). And “Second Chances” is the most beautiful – in that somber kind of way – piece. At some point, a sharp breakdown highlights such somberness.

Yes, “New Empire, Vol. 1” is heavier, but it’s unmistakably Hollywood Undead. I don’t like labels, but the rap-rock one they go by still fits – it’s just that the rap got darker and the rock got thicker.

8/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Game Zero – WAR – We Are Right

Posted in CD, Metal, Rock with tags , , on 4th February 2020 by izaforestspirit

Game Zero
W.A.R. – We Are Right
Released 28th February 2020
Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
Released via Art Gates Records
GAME ZERO - W.A.R. - We Are Right

’W.A.R. – We Are Right’ is the second album from the Italian hard rock band Game Zero. The group was founded in 2013 by vocalist Mark Right and guitarist Alexincubus (ex- Theatres des Vampires). Their debut album ‘Rise’ came out in 2015. Since then they have had some successful tours, supporting bands such as Sabaton, Amorphis and Equilibrium.

First up is the title track, an energetic rock anthem packed with powerful vocals and lively-sounding, uplifting guitar riffs. So far so good… One thing that I’m not so keen on here are the stop-start, nu-metal-styled guitar parts. In certain songs such as Goodbye they seem to disrupt the flow of the music. The same track also features an acoustic guitar part towards the end, which also seems a little out of place. Luckily the chorus is good enough for the listener to forget about the chaotic structure. Is it just me or does anyone else think that Mark Right sounds a bit like Dave Mustaine from Megadeth on here? I mean that as a compliment.

I wasn’t expecting a Simple Minds cover but I have to admit that Game Zero’s take on Don’t You Forget About Me works pretty well. I also liked the groove guitar style guitar work on You Choke Me, one of the heavier, more metal-sounding tracks on here. I was quite surprised by the changes in pace on the closing song Full of Nothing. After an aggressive start, they really mellow things down midway through the track, only to pick up the pace later on.

Overall, ‘W.A.R. -We Are Right’ takes a few listens to get into. Even after a few listens, I have mixed feelings about it. There are a few catchy hard rock songs on here but the overall structure seems a little disjointed at times. It’s almost like they had a bit too many ideas and tried to squeeze them all into one album.

6/10

Iza Raittila

Sepultura – Quadra

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 3rd February 2020 by mickbirchy

Sepultura

Quadra

Thrash Metal, Groove Metal

Released: 7th February 2020

via Nuclear Blast Records

The Brazillian purveyors of heavy-ass thrash metal return to the limelight in 2020. I’ve been excited for this album for quite some time now. I have always appreciated Sepultura. They are by far my favourite thrash metal band. Their unique blend of groovy riffs and sharp, hard-hitting rhythms make them a true powerhouse of a band. The way they inject their music with interesting ideas and concepts always makes them an enjoyable act to listen to. They are now back with their fifteenth record, Quadra, their follow up to 2017’s Machine Messiah. I have to say that this album is quite good.

Once again, this album was produced in Sweden with Jens Bogren at the helm. As with the previous record, there’s some really great production here. Especially considering the concept of the album. The album itself is based on numerology, the number four and its significance as depicted on Quadrivium (the four subjects, or arts namely arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy). So, as you could probably tell this is quite a heavy-handed record. The album is broken into different pieces and each part is a representation of the different teachings of Quadrivium. Making this an album that you can listen to one so many different levels. It’s an album that I have been playing all week and I am still hearing it in new ways.

I love the way this album grooves. The bass and rhythm work is outstanding with lots of great moments throughout the album that just caught me and I was engrossed for a while just listening to certain parts of the record. From the clever acoustic moments to the slower ballads type moments and, of course, the all-out brutal heavy moments. Sepultura just knows how to keep a listener’s interest for hours on end.  Also, you have to appreciate the amazing guitar work of Andreas Kisser. He is simply incredible on the album bringing the energy where needed but also giving moments of the atmosphere. All of that is backing the powerful performance of Derrick Green, who really brings it on this record and sounds like he’s having fun with the record.

An absolute powerhouse of an album. A well-thought-out concept, excellent performances and great production… It all adds up to something powerful that can keep hardcore fans and casual listeners interested for a while. I genuinely enjoyed this album and I know it’s early but this is one of the best records of the year so far.

10/10

Mick Birchall

Battering Ram – Battering Ram

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , on 26th January 2020 by mickbirchy

Battering Ram
Battering Ram
Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Released: 24 January 2020
 Self Released

It’s always fun when a band immediately catches your attention. The Swedish rockers, Battering Ram have been building some momentum since 2017 and now are ready to strike with their debut self-titled album. The band consists of Johan Hallström on vocals, Jonas Edmark on guitar, Tony Trust on drums and Jocke Ståhl on bass. I have been really enjoying listening to this album, it gives me vibes of early 90’s hard rock or early 2000’s riff-rock. I think their sound is heavy enough to get the purist-headbangers listening but broad sounding enough that they could reach a much larger audience of casual rock listeners.

The tight delivery and commanding energy hits hard with well crafted and memorable riffs. Jonas on vocals gives a great performance and sings with passion as the instruments really support him. The electrifying guitar solos and the great rhythm work are a simple joy to listen to. They’re not reinventing the wheel, a lot of what their doing is pretty standard fare for hard rock. Yet, their music just gets you pumped in the right way with booming bass and drums, well-performed melodies and well-executed harmonies. The best thing about their music is its simplicity. Standard song-writing structures, a focus on big hooks and keeping the whole record feeling well-paced. It kept my attention all the way through and never had any real down moments.

There isn’t much more to really say about this record. It’s good and I think that Battering Ram would make a great addition to any gig or festival lineup. These are songs that will get a crowd moving and singing. Songs like “Chase The Fire”, “Stronger Forever” and “Scared For My Life” are definite hits in my eyes. Their focus on tight musicianship and a bold sound suit them well. They are able to craft some big sounds with great writing. They have a great sense of groove and rhythm that makes then very enjoyable to listen to. It’s the kind of band you see on a Friday night with a beer in hand and headbang all the way through their set. Great album and I look forward to more from them.

8/10

Mick Birchall