Archive for Hard rock

Santa Cruz – The Return Of The Kings

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 4th September 2022 by Mickelrath

Santa Cruz
The Return Of The Kings
Sleaze Rock, Hard Rock, Glam Rock
Released: 26th August 2022
via M-Theory Audio

Oh wow! Santa Cruz is back with a brand new lineup and attitude. This band has definitely had its highs and lows. However, throughout the turmoil, they managed to keep a fairly consistent output over the year. This new record, The Return Of The Kings, is the follow-up to the 2019 album Katharsis which in itself was a rebranding of the band. So, let’s call this Santa Cruz version three. For this record front-man, Archie Cruz put together a new lineup that consisted of Jerry Jade on guitar, Tommy Bradley on bass and Randy McDemian on drums. Say what you will about the new lineup, but the new songs are relatively enjoyable. 

The album opens on the lead single “Here Comes The Revolution” and this sets the album up pretty well. From the first riff, you know exactly what you’re in store for, it’s a hard rock record with elements of sleaze and glam rock. It hits quite hard and from the first few moments of the album, I was enjoying myself and it kept escalating from there. One thing I know about Archie Cruz is that he knows how to write a hook. On every single track here there’s an insidious little ear-worm that keeps you locked into the song. In particular, on the closing track “Stay”, which got stuck in my head long after my listening sessions with this record. I feel like everything is so tightly written here. Every song has that little punch that keeps the momentum going. Be it the anthemic qualities of “1000 Cigarettes” and “Disarm” to the hard-hitting and tight-sounding “Take Me To America” from a writing perspective the music is great. It’s definitely something that I can listen to on repeat without getting bored. 

The production is fine however not spectacular. It’s pretty much the standard for hard rock. A lot of guitar and drums in the foreground with the bass in the mix but not really punching through. Not a bad thing but it feels pretty plain. Archie’s vocals are a mixed bag. I could perfectly understand someone not liking his voice. If you’re not into a lot of sleaze rock or modern glam rock this vocal style could get pretty grating. I’ll admit at times I wasn’t into it as he can be a little grating. However, the songs are so well-written that it almost saves it. In terms of the production, everything is clear. I mean, it’s not like the production was muddy or too heavy, it just didn’t land as effectively as I think they wanted it to. 

Yeah, this one is fine. Santa Cruz will always be a jack of all trades in rock music. They’re proficient at most things but never really excel at anything. They’re somewhere in the middle. The new lineup is mostly doing the same as the previous ones. It’s very clear Archie is at the wheel of the helm as so many different lineups shouldn’t sound this much alike. However, it’s fairly consistent with the rest of their material. I like the album, there are enough catchy songs and the production is good enough that it doesn’t make me turn it off. Like I said, I was never bored or had any super negative reaction to the music. It’s fine but I don’t think I can go much higher than fine. Out of 10, this album is between a 6 and 7 but closer to a 7. Though, that could change on re-listens in the future for me.

7/10

Mick Birchall

SOiL – Play It Forward

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 31st July 2022 by Mickelrath

SOiL
Play It Forward
Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Released: 26th August 2022
via Cleopatra Records

It’s been quite a long time since we’ve heard from cult heavy metal, SOiL. They have kept their following for over 20 years now. Since their 2 mammoth hits “Halo” and “Unreal”. After their 2013 album Whole and the unfortunate health concerns of singer Ryan McCombs, they have stayed largely quiet. Now, they’re back with a new album Play It Forward. A new album filled with covers of songs that the band have found meaningful and have helped them through the rough times of the past few years. As much as I was craving new material from the band, I have to admit it’s really good to hear them playing again. Even if it’s hit songs from the likes of Neil Young, Foo Fighters and Halsey

There should be no surprise that they took the original songs and added their own individual flair to the tracks. The production is loud on muddy in that early 2000’s nu-metal way. The guitars grind away with the thumping bass pounding on the low end of the production. For some songs like White Zombie’s “Thunder Kiss ‘65” and Motörhead’s “No Voices In The Sky” this works fine and sounds pretty much like a straight-up like-for-like cover version. However, when you give this tuned-down bombastic production to Halsey’s “Nightmare” or “What’s It Like” by Everlast, it changes the core foundation of the songs and really gives them a new identity. 

Ryan McCombs’ vocals add a pretty interesting layer to these songs. You’ve never heard these songs sung like this before. His low temperate growls and unique inflections add a great final touch to these songs. Giving that growl and intensity to Foo Fighters’ “Monkey Wrench” and The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated”. It all comes together in such a magical way. A real mixtape adventure of a listening experience. 

After so long with no new music from SOiL it’s really great to have them back. It’s nice to know that band played these covers with so much vigour and passion. Songs that clearly mean a lot to the band. That’s the magic of music. It can lift us out of the dark times and with these covers, the band could potentially allow their audience to discover songs they may never had the chance to. Would I have preferred a new album of original material? Yes, absolutely! However, I feel this could tide the fans over until that day arrives.

7/10

Mick Birchall

CrashDïet w/ support – Madrid, Spain

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , on 29th May 2022 by Pieni

CrashDïet, Shiraz Lane, King Zebra
Sala Caracol, Madrid (ES)
25th May 2022
Promoted by Madness Live

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The golden age of glam & sleaze rock may have officially been the eighties, but there are a handful of bands capable of convincing you that such age is now. CrashDïet is one of them. After the “Rust” tour being cancelled due to the heinous pandemic in 2020, the release of “Automaton” late last month provided a payback in spades.

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The doors opened about 15 minutes after scheduled, but King Zebra got on stage at the announced time (19:30). Not sure of how many people knew the Swiss – I didn’t and yet I found myself singing along the catchy choruses of songs such as “We’re The Survivors” or “Under Destruction”, so maybe the words also got easily into other people’s brains – but everybody seemed real happy to see them. Thundermother’s Guernica Mancini wasn’t at the show, but King Zebra played “Wall Of Confusion” just the same and singer Eric St. Michaels was clearly proud of having such collaboration in the band’s discography. It was “Firewalker”, however – a song “very popular on Spotify” – that raised the spirits of the crowd a bit higher than they already were.

https://www.facebook.com/KINGZEBRA.band

shzln20221Shiraz Lane, on the other hand, had a lot of enthusiastic fans waiting for them. What a roar exploded at Sala Caracol when they hit the stage! They haven’t released a full-length album since “Carnival Days”, back in 2018, but its follow-up should be out soon, as a few new songs are already rolling on YouTube. One of them, “Disconnect From The Matrix”, was posted two days after this show but the Finns already graced us with it. Such a fiery performance from all members, but it was obviously singer Hannes Kett who had the chance to dance and jump around more, as well as bond with the audience with heartfelt speeches. When announcing the last song – which got a loud “NO!” in response, especially when Hannes said they had to play the following night for “your friends in Barcelona” (I wonder if there’s any country with no rivalry between its major cities…) – he said we must remember that love is the most important thing, more than ever. Then their own version of Savage Garden’s “To The Moon And Back” was on and in the last moments of it, Hannes went into the crowd to sing among us.

https://www.facebook.com/ShirazLane

CDT20223I believe Gabriel Keyes was somewhat sick, or at least tired. Wait, let me rephrase it – his voice might have been tired, ‘cause the way he rocked that stage through and through was evidence of a powerful energy. It was the first time I was seeing him live, but I’d seen videos – including the Quarantine Thrills – so I know what his voice is capable of outside a recording studio. Changing the higher pitches into lower ones in order to not go out of tune was a bit disappointing at first, but eventually I got used to it and had to appreciate the effort (one CrashDïet gig cancelled was enough in my book). I’m still bummed that they didn’t play “Shine On”, though, as it’s probably my favorite song out of “Automaton” and I know they had played it in the previous dates of the tour. But listening to so many “oldies” such as “Tikket”, “It’s A Miracle” (dedicated to all of us, for being there after all the world’s been through in the past couple of years), “Breakin’ The Chainz” and “Queen Of Obscene” (yes, and “Riot In Everyone”, of course, but that one is mandatory) certainly made up for the absence of my most recent fav track. Curiously enough, despite being the “Automaton Tour”, they’ve only played two songs off it – “Together Whatever”,which opened the show and made everyone go wild right from the start, and later on “No Man’s Land”. And from “Rust”, the first album featuring Gabriel, only “Reptile” came up. It’s great to see he feels so comfortable singing all those songs he didn’t originally record – they’re CrashDïet songs and he’s their current (hopefully last!) lead singer. Period!

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More or less in the middle of the show, he stepped off stage (maybe to rest his voice?) and let guitarist Martin Sweet sing a Nirvana song (“Territorial Pissings”). What an unexpected blast, and I don’t even like Nirvana that much! What I wasn’t expecting either was to see both King Zebra and Shiraz Lane members getting on stage and singing “Generation Wild” at the end of the show That’s the kind of thing that usually happens when wrapping up tours so it’s quite an understatement to say I was really glad that these bands don’t go by “the usual”.  

https://www.facebook.com/realcrashdiet

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Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Warrior Soul – Out On Bail

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 17th April 2022 by Pieni

Warrior Soul
“Out On Bail”
Hard Rock
Released: 4th March 2022
Via Cargo Records

warrior-soul-out-on-bail

As factual as the expression “Out On Bail” may sound, given that it was the title chosen by Warrior Soul for their latest album, it must be seen as some kind of defying statement. When listening to the opening track, “We’re Alive”, one can clearly hear the “we’re back in the game” message of someone who has just done time. The cliché motto of every insurgent in “One More For The Road”. The scorn towards white-collar offenders in “Hip Hip Hurray”. A whole rebel speech/attitude, and so I guess the raw, almost punk approach fits. The same with Kory Clarke’s voice, which is way hoarser than I remember. No, scratch that – it IS hoarser than it used to be, nothing to do with my memory; time’s just gone by and wasn’t at all kind to his singing skills. And after two or three songs, you can’t help but reconsider that “broken” is more accurate than “hoarse”. Especially when the songs themselves are played in a somewhat sloppy manner. Yes, I know I’ve mentioned a punk-ish approach and so a reckless performance could be part of the picture. But something feels off. “Cancelled Culture”, however, has a pretty catchy rhythm – that bass intro bringing a smile to my face – but then Clarke tries to sing along such catchiness and he just can’t keep up, and what could’ve been the one song I’d actually enjoy, turns out to be another disappointment. So I choose “End Of The World” as the best track here, as it shows a more elaborate and melodic guitar work, with an edgy vibe to it, where Clarke spoils it a little but doesn’t ruin it completely…

4.5/10

Renata “Pieni” Lino

New album from Michael Monroe coming this summer

Posted in News with tags , , , on 25th March 2022 by izaforestspirit

The Finnish hard rock musician Michael Monroe has recently announced that his new album ‘I Live Too Fast Die Young’ will be out in both digital and physical formats this summer on 10th June 2022 via Silver Lining Music.

Here’s the cover and track-listing:

1.Murder The Summer Of Love
2.Young Drunks & Old Alcoholics
3.Derelict Palace
4.All Fighter
5.Everybody’s Nobody
6.Antisocialite
7.Can’t Stop Falling Apart
8.Pagan Prayer
9.No Guilt
10. I Live Too Fast To Die Young
11. Dearly Departed


For now you can check out the video for his new single ‘Murder The Summer of Love’.

The band will also be touring Europe this spring. Here’s the full schedule:

08 Apr – House of Rock Bar, Kouvola (FI)
14 Apr – Möysän Musaklubi, Lahti (FI)
15 Apr – Hyvinkääsali, Hyvinkää (FI)
16 Apr – Olympia, Tampere (FI)
21 Apr – Tavastia Club, Helsinki (FI)
22 Apr – Ikaalinen Spa, Ikaalinen (FI)
04 Jun – ROCK HARD FESTIVAL, Gelsenkirchen (DE)
06 Jun – K.B. Hallen, Copenhagen (DK)*
9-11 Jun – SAARISTO OPEN AIR, Kaarina (FI)
10 Jun – ROCK IN THE CITY, Kuopio (FI)
11 Jun – SWEDEN ROCK, Sölvesborg (SE)
15 Jun – Dolina Charlotty, Charlotta (PL)*
17 Jun – Stadthalle, Zwickau (DE) *
18 Jun – AZKENA FESTIVAL, Vitoria-Gasteiz (ES)
21 Jun – Mitsubishi Electric Halle, Dusseldorf (DE)*
22 Jun – Jahrhunderthalle, Frankfurt (DE)*
25 Jun – HELLFEST, Clisson (FR)
29 Jun – Ippodromo San Siro, Milan (IT)*
07 Jul – SAUNA OPEN AIR, Tampere (FI)
08 Jul – ROCK IN THE CITY, Oulu (FI)
14-17 Jul – VAUHTIAJOT, Seinäjoki (FI)
16 Jul – ROCK IN THE CITY, Rovaniemi (FI)
29-30 Jul – SKOGSROJET FESTIVAL, Rejmyre (SE)
04-06 Aug – WACKEN OPEN AIR, Wacken (DE)
04-06 Aug – VAASA FESTIVAL, Vaasa (FI)
27 Aug – HRH Sleaze, Sheffield (UK)
*Supporting Alice Cooper

For more information go to:

http://michaelmonroe.com

https://www.facebook.com/michaelmonroeofficial

Skarlett Riot – Invicta

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated, Review with tags , , , , , on 6th May 2021 by Mickelrath

Skarlett Riot

Invicta

Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Metalcore

Released 7 May 2021

Via Despotz Records

It’s a special feeling when you see one of your favourite bands rise up and release an album this good. Yes, this will probably be somewhat of a biased review as I really do like this band and I can confidently say that I’m almost proud of Skarlett Riot for making this album. Invicta is their third album and it’s been quite the journey listening to them grow and develop into the band they are today. They have always had a way with lyrical themes intertwined with heavy dark tones with a good measure of catchy melodies and this record is no exception with songs that will no doubt be taking centre stage of their setlists when the world goes back to normal and gigs are once again attendable. It could have been really easy for the band to not do anything during the lockdown, however they were laser-focussed on this new project and, armed with this new album, they’ll be ready to take over the hard rock scene.

The album opens with “Breaking the Habit” and it sets the tone for what to expect throughout. Dark and heavy melodies with impactful hard-hitting lyrics. It goes full-force and doesn’t really slow down except for the magnificent crescendo that is the ballad “Into Pieces”, which for my money, is really the centre piece of the album. A soft acoustic intro that builds into a solid hard rock ballad that really caught me off guard but I really enjoy listening to it. While listening to this, I found myself relating to a lot of the lyrics on here. Skarlett Riot work their magic with the lyrics. I especially like the dark lyrics in “Black Cloud” which perfectly sums up how depression and anxiety feels, it really hit me hard and the vocal performance really sells it to you with a lot of conviction and passion. 

The production absolutely packs that extra punch. The big difference on this record is the addition of guttural vocal work, which has never really been in Skarlett Riot’s previous work. Thanks to new bassist, Tim Chambers. He really works off of Chloe’s vocal work and complements it with big bassy sounding guttural vocals that really gives this album so much more of an edge. The guitar riffs are excellent and create a solid framework for the songs. Then you have the drums which feel so punchy on this release. The drum-fills are well worked and they add so much depth to the overall sound.

Okay, this was an outright advertisement for the album rather than a review. Yeah, it goes without saying that I recommend this album. It’s more Skarlett Riot with more of a punch and the new addition of the vocal work is so welcome in the band’s sound. Just an excellent listen and one already in my top ten albums for 2021

10/10

Mick Birchall

Rob Zombie – The Lunar Infection Kool Aid Conspiracy

Posted in Review with tags , , , on 17th March 2021 by izaforestspirit

Rob Zombie
The Lunar Infection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy
Released 12th March 2021
Hard Rock /Heavy Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast

You got to hand it to Rob Zombie when it comes to coming up with bizarre-sounding album titles. Five years ago the hard rock musician released an album with the one of the longest titles ever ‘The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser’. Luckily this new one has a slightly shorter title but it is no less crazy – ‘The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy’.

Sadly this is one of those cases where even after several listens I cannot get my head around this album. I really tried to like it and I hope that it would grow on me after a while. There are a few good heavy metal songs such as The Triumph Of King Freak (A Crypt Of Preservation & Superstition) and The Eternal Struggles Of The Howling Man and Shadow of The Cemetery Man. Then there’s the ultimate evil hellbilly circus track called 18th Century Cannibals, Excitable Morlocks & A One-Way Ticket On The Ghost Train delivering a highly amusing mishmash of country music and heavy metal.

So that was the good part. Now for the bad parts. There are way too many filler tracks. The instrumentals such as ‘The Much Talked of Metamorphosis’ seem a little out of place on here. I fail to see the point of having several interlude tracks lasting less than a minute. The style is a total mishmash of genres too. Oh and don’t even get me started on the lyrics. Seriously, I know that Rob Zombie is hardly a lyrical genius but even he can come up with better than “smoke your grass and shake your ass” and “the witch is sliding up the broom.”

In all honesty I expected better after a five year wait. There are a handful of good tracks on here but not enough to make this album worthwhile. If you were expecting another solid Rob Zombie album like ‘Sinister Urge’ or ‘Hellbilly Deluxe’ then prepare to be disappointed.

5/10
Iza Raittila

Bloody News Online Festival streaming this month

Posted in Festival, Live, News with tags , , , , , on 9th March 2021 by izaforestspirit

Bloody News Metal Magazine have once again teamed up with GlobMetal Promotions to bring you the second edition of Bloody News Online Fest – Spring Madness. This will be a live stream taking place on 26th March 2021 and it will be available for free from their website.

Here is the line-up:
Running Bot
Arhat
Termination Central
ANGER DOSE
Steel Velvet
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
Avoid Humanity
Gwendydd
Horror Dance Squad
Devine Defilement
Beyond Frequencies

No photo description available.



For more details go to: https://bloodynews.ro/en/

https://www.facebook.com/events/760054691299835/



Ricky Warwick – When Life Was Hard & Fast

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , on 16th February 2021 by Pieni

Ricky Warwick
“When Life Was Hard & Fast”
Rock
Release: 19th February 2021
Via Nuclear Blast Records

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Ricky Warwick’s solo career has been a straightforward rock ride and this “When Life Was Hard & Fast” is probably the most genuine in such essence. He invited some friends over, some well-known names in the scene, but the fact that you don’t see “feat. Rockstar X” in any of the titles proves how those invitations weren’t a marketing stunt; just a bunch of buddies celebrating good ol’ rock ‘n’roll. The opening and title-track, for instance. A catchy, spirited tune where Def LeppardJoe Elliott’s crystal voice contrasts perfectly with Warwick’s raspy pitch in the chorus. Or how Andy Taylor (yes, that legend who used to play in Duran Duran) produces a mean guitar solo in the political vent “I’d Rather Be Hit”. Thunder’s Luke Morley also plays a sharp solo on “You Don’t Love Me”, but I’m personally more hooked on the groovy, smooth rhythm provided by the bass on this song.

The Mink Deville cover of “Gunslinger” is pretty loyal to the original but with all the perks of a nowadays recording, meaning it sounds more refined but keeps all the rock’n’roll attitude of the seventies. So it’s kinda funny to talk about “Clown Of Misery” now, as in order to preserve its candid acoustic nature they stuck to the demo version and it sounds like you’re listening to it on an old radio transistor. But it’s “Time Don’t Seem To Matter” that really shows you the graceful side of rock – also acoustic, with some delicate samples in the background and then an electric solo mirrors the chorus modulation sung by Warwick and his youngest daughter Pepper (whom the song was written for).

All the brisk and snappy traits on this record prove how honest Warwick is when he says “rock’n’roll ain’t dead – it’s just lost in its mystery”.

7,5/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Battering Ram release new single

Posted in Misc., News with tags , , , on 19th January 2021 by izaforestspirit

It’s been almost a year since their debut Ep came out. Now Swedish hard rock band Battering Ram are ready to present some new music. The new single is called ‘Down’ and it is out on Spotify.

Image may contain: text that says "BATTERING RAM BR-21 DOWN"

For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/BatteringRamOfficial/

http://battering-ram.com/

Nox Rocks II Lucia Metal Party livestream this weekend

Posted in Gig, Misc., News with tags , , , , , , , , on 8th December 2020 by izaforestspirit

The Swedish broadcasting media & production company Nox Rocks Live Events have teamed up with Stagedip, King2Music Records and Kingart Music Management to bring you a unique live stream experience called Nox Rocks II Lucia Metal Party. The event will be streamed worldwide live via the Nox Rocks website on 12th December – 13th December 2020 (Lucia Night) and it is scheduled to run for a grand total of 6 hours, 6 minutes and six seconds.

The line-up features a number of well renowned Swedish hard rock and metal artists including Europe, Hammerfall, Therion along with international artists such as King Diamond, Pretty Maids, Rainbow, Manowar and many others.

Italian Trulli

For tickets and more information visit: http://www.noxrocks.nu/
Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/495643994747327

Battering Ram release new single

Posted in Misc., News with tags , , on 8th November 2020 by izaforestspirit

Swedish hard rockers Battering Ram have recently released their new single ‘Pieces’ on Spotify. ‘Pieces’ is the second single from their self titled debut album which came out back in January this year. Here is the cover:

The band are relatively new to the hard rock and metal scene and yet they have already made a name for themselves, growing in popularity thanks to streaming platforms. Their sound has been likened to that of Mustasch and Corroded.

Check out ‘Pisces’ on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5ZE8smCT2oR50Kq9yLZ3GW?si=vJjXVibATMGmucX9qNtcwQ

For more details visit:

https://www.facebook.com/BatteringRamOfficial/

Joe Bouchard – Strange Legends

Posted in Review with tags , on 8th September 2020 by izaforestspirit

Joe Bouchard
Strange Legends
Released 31st July 2020
Hard Rock
Released via Deko Entertainment

‘Strange Legends’ is the latest solo album from the American hard rock artist Joe Bouchard. He is best known as one of the founding members of Blue Öyster Cult. This record features drummer Mickey Curry (Alice Cooper, Bryan Adams) along with lyrical contributions from the the sci-fi writer John Shirley, co-screenwriter for the movie ‘The Crow’.

I have to admit that I’m not too well versed when it comes to Blue Öyster Cult. I am mostly familiar with just two of their songs – ‘Don’t Feat The Reaper’ and ‘Astronomy’ thanks to the Metallica cover. Despite this I decided to give the album a go… So, what we have here are eleven tracks of melodic and uplifting hard rock. The pace is varied but generally speaking the more energetic tracks are mostly in the first half of the record, then Mr. Bouchard mellows things down with a few ballads towards the end.

I enjoyed the guitar parts on African Queen and the chorus is pretty good too. It’s catchy, almost to the point where you are tempted to swing along to the guitar tunes. Speaking of guitars, if you like like jazz style guitar work then you should definitely check out the instrumental Racing Thru The Desert. The guitar riffs are very well done, but personally I’m not so keen on the trumpet noise on the background. Perhaps a little too much like a jazz jamming session for my liking. She’s a Legend is another standout track with a memorable chorus. The overall tone is a little darker thanks to the creepy synthesizer sound in the background. That the doesn’t make the track any less catchy than the others on the album, though. In many ways that song reminded me of some of Blue Öyster Cult’s best known hits.

In summary, ‘Strange Legends’ is a catchy, guitar-driven hard rock album. I enjoyed it despite my limited knowledge of Blue Öyster Cult and Joe Bouchard’s solo work. If you are a fan of Blue Öyster Cult, the chances are that you already have this record. I reckon that most hard rock fans will like it too.

8/10

Iza Raittila

Valkyrian Music

Orange Goblin – Rough & Ready, Live & Loud… 25 Years of British Rock and Heavy Metal

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 10th May 2020 by Mickelrath

Orange Goblin
Rough & Ready, Live & Loud
Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Stoner Rock
Released: 1st May 2020
via Orange Goblin Music / Rise Above Records

It’s hard to put into words how much I love the band Orange Goblin and how much their music reached me. Let me take you back to 2012 and the release of their album A Eulogy For The Damned. This was an album that immediately captured my consciousness and reached me on a level that I don’t think many metal bands have done. It wasn’t an overly complex record from a musical standpoint.  It adhered to a standard, verse/chorus/verse/chorus structure with riffs to carry the general tune of the song and they used some brilliant guitar work to give their music some extra life. After listening to that album I was immediately fascinated with them, their riffs always caught me, hook line and sinker and I hunted down their previous albums to see if they gave the same feeling. Very luckily, they did. In particular Thieving from the House of God, which still to this day is one of my all-time favourite metal albums.

Once I had discovered their music I made it a mission to see them live in concert. I got my chance time and time again as Orange Goblin are touring machines, I’ve managed to watch them live at least 12 times now. Now, how do I describe their live shows? They’re one of the most charismatic and fun bands to watch live. They just have this imposing presence to their shows, it’s something you can really feel as an audience member, no matter how many times I see them perform I still get chills when they get certain parts of their sets. There are some staple tunes that the band will just play and the crowd goes nuts, like “Saruman’s Wish” and “Some You Win, Some You Lose”, when they hit those songs you can feel the crowd twist and shift and come to life. It’s such an awesome feeling. They do such a good job of making a set-list that will keep their fans happy. I mean all bands have to release new material and I think deciding what old songs to keep and what new songs to add is an art form unto itself. They always seem to get that balance of rocking the old school tunes and promoting the new material. So, it’s great to hear a set-list unfold itself over the course of a night.

Now they have been rocking for 25 solid years, Orange Goblin wanted to do something for the fans to celebrate this milestone in their career. However, with the UK being in lock-down due to the world health crisis at the time of writing this review, it wasn’t like they could just hit the road at their leisure. So, the next best thing was to give their fans a live album. Rough & Ready, Live & Loud is a collection of live recordings from their gigs. The songs were taken from their sets at Sylak Open Air Festival 2016, KOKO in London 2016 and at the Fuzz Club in Athens in 2019. It’s a well-rounded album with lots of great songs to rock out to. It also gives some love to some of their, let’s say underrated, classics like “Time Traveling Blues” and “Made of Rats”. So in that sense, it’s not a greatest hits album per se, more of a collection to give the listener the feeling of hearing the band live and enjoying the show. Which is cool and a good way to put their stamp on 25 years as a band. Also, included with the album on Bandcamp is a digital booklet filled with fan-submitted memories of the band. Which made this feel like an all-inclusive experience with their fans. In addition to this the Bandcamp edition of the album features the extra track of “Your World Will Hate This” from the album Coup de Grace. Which is a pretty damn good cap on the album. I mean it’s a short tune but it has that fierce energy and packs that little extra punch.

Although I can’t pretend that I have been a fan since the start (you know since I was only three years old when they started, so the only music I liked was the intro to Thomas the Tank Engine). I feel like they were definitely a cornerstone in developing my taste in heavy metal and hard rock. Still to this day I gravitate to music with heavy riffs and fuzzy solos more than any other styling. Their live shows have always been something to look forward to for me because I know they’re going to give it their all and they enjoy every moment of being on stage. This was a nice treat as a fan of the band and something that I’ve enjoyed listening to. So… here’s to 25 years of Orange Goblin and hopefully another 25 years of hard rock and heavy metal.

10/10

Mick Birchall

Get the album for yourself here – https://orangegoblinofficial.bandcamp.com

Gorilla Riot – Peach

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 14th February 2020 by Mickelrath

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

Game Zero – WAR – We Are Right

Posted in Uncategorized 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

Battering Ram – Battering Ram

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 26th January 2020 by Mickelrath

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

Vandallus – Outbreak

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on 8th December 2019 by izaforestspirit

Vandallus
Outbreak
Released 12 December 2019
Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
Released via Mercinary Records


’Outbreak’ is the latest album from the American hard rock band Vandallus. The band has been around since 2015 and it features several members from the power metal group Eternal Legacy. This is my first encounter with Vandallus so I had no idea of what to expect. The amusing looking cover art would suggest anything from heavy metal to sleaze rock via classic rock. Well, there is only one way to find out…

If hard rock is your thing, you are in for a treat. There is a lot to like on here; from the catchy vocals, memorable choruses to the well timed and skillfully executed guitar harmonies. I particularly enjoyed the playful guitar tunes on Not Alone. It sounds very uplifting and puts the listener in a good mood. Then there is the slightly slower, melodic Bang The City Down– another enjoyable hard rock tune and Shotgun Lady with a catchy chorus and good, bluesy guitar work. Once again the guys sound like that they are having a good time in the studio.

Many of the songs sound like they been inspired by old school hard rock from the 80s. As far as the structure goes, this album is pretty straightforward and it is fairly easy to get into. Like the guy on the front cover, sometimes you just need to sit back and enjoy the ride. Motorbikes are not really my thing but I do like hard rock and heavy metal.

Overall, I quite enjoyed listening to ‘Outbreak’. It is definitely one of the more memorable hard rock albums I have heard this year.

7/10

Iza Raittila

Metallica live in Hämeenlinna

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , on 17th July 2019 by izaforestspirit

Bokassa, Ghost, Metallica
Kantolan Tapahtumapuisto, Hämeenlinna, Finland
16th July 2019

Metallica, it’s been a while… The last time I was at a Metallica show was back in 2007 when I still lived in The U.K. They were and, in many ways, still are one of my favourite bands. I have always hoped that some day I will get to see them live again and this year I finally got that opportunity. This was one of the main events that I was looking forward to. This time the venue was Kantolan Tapahtumapuisto (Kantola Event Park) near the city centre of Hämeenlinna. I do not normally travel to Hämeenlinna and this was my very first time at the venue so I planned my trip well in advance.

Everything went as planned. The one thing that I cannot predict too well however is the weather. It was sunny when I arrived, then there was some heavy rain and thunder just I approached to the entrance. Luckily it did not last long and it had mostly cleared up by the time Bokassa took to the stage. I’m not really into stoner-punk but I have to admit that they were entertaining to watch. It was far more energetic than your average stoner rock, so not a bad start to the night. 3/5

I never really understood the hype surrounding the Swedish hard rock band Ghost. I keep hearing their songs on the radio and seeing their videos on Youtube. Yet I find it hard to fathom why they are so well regarded. I mean if you ignore the elaborate outfits and the imagery, the music itself is good but nothing ground-breaking. This was the first time that I have seen them live and I actually liked the performance. Their singer, Cardinal Copia, as he now calls himself, has a very charismatic stage presence. 4/5

Then it was time for the main event. The Metallica show was absolutely spectacular. They played most of the classic hits including: ‘Master of Puppets’, ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘One’, For Whom The Bell Tolls’, ‘Nothing Else Matters’, ‘Seek and Destroy’. The set also featured some songs from the mid-career period and several from the latest release ‘Hardwired to Self-Destruct’. There was pyrotechnics, lots of visual displays and even fireworks at the end. One of my favourite moments was the Rob and Kirk guitar medley when the performed a cover a Finnish rock classic – Popeda’s ‘Kuuma Kesä’. I could have done without ‘Frantic’ from the dreaded ‘St. Anger’ album and perhaps played more songs from ‘Death Magnetic’ instead, but that is the only extremely minor fault with what was otherwise a flawless performance. 6/5

Overall, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to see Metallica live again. Twelve years is a very long time to wait but it was totally worth it. The show was an experience that I will cherish for many years to come.

Iza Raittila

King Zebra – King Zebra EP

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 6th May 2019 by Mickelrath

King Zebra

King Zebra EP

Hard Rock, Glam Rock

Released: 22 March 2019

Self Released

Right from the first notes of this EP, I knew I was going to like this one. I mean, this is the sound I grew up on, pure hard rock with lots of energy and pep. Swiss hard rockers, King Zebra have been tearing up the European rock scene as of late. Opening for awesome bands like The Dead Daisies, The New Roses and Crystal Ball just to name a few. Armed with their new lead vocalist Eric St Michaels (formally of the band China) and this new self-titled EP, they are setting out to conquer. The EP can really be divided into two pieces, firstly the three songs they released last year and the two new songs they’ve released for this EP. Putting it all together makes for an enjoyable listening experience.

The one thing I will say about this EP is that it has a lot of energy. I mean, it’s the kind of music that makes you want to get up and move. The guitar work is fast and loose and the rhythm sections are tight. The grooves are excellent and the riffs really land a hit every time they come in. The band just feel like a forceful presence at all times. Eric St Michaels is a great vocalist and he sounds amazing here. He’s mixed in really well to the tunes. His vocal performance is really impressive, with a powerful voice and a tonne of charisma he’s able to keep you invested in the songs and adds that extra punch to the hooks. The production is great and easy for any listener to get into and enjoy.

There really isn’t anything to say beyond this. I mean, if you like your 80’s glam rock then this will definitely fill a hole for new material to listen to. It’s an entertaining listen, to say the least. With songs about the general rock topics and production that’s clean enough to get a general audience but edgy enough that rock fan won’t turn it off either. I like the EP, it’s not my favourite release of the year, as good as it sounds and as fun as it is to listen to, it’s just an okay release. Not bad but not something that I have to listen to again and again. It will be one of those EP’s where if it’s on I’ll keep listening but not one I will go out of my way to listen to.

2.5/5

Mick Birchall