Archive for Rock

Bullets and Octane – Riot, Riot Rock N Roll

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 4th April 2020 by mickbirchy

Bullets and Octane

Riot, Riot Rock N Roll

Hard Rock, Sleaze Rock

Released 24th April 2020

via Bad MoFo Records / Cargo Records UK

It’s always cool when you get a chance to review a band you’ve been listening to casually for years. It’s a weird feeling because all I want to do is enjoy the record. Yet, I’ll have to put my reviewer cap on for this one, as much as I just want to listen to it and have fun. Bullets and Octane are one of those bands I got into as a teenager and that I gravitated to instantly. I have also seen them in concert and I have to say they are one of the wildest and fun bands out there today. So how is the new album Riot, Riot Rock N Roll?  It’s pretty darn good. It’s a lot of the same from this band. Fast-paced and aggressive tone but it has that fun party rock n roll tone that will keep you coming back for more.

The whole album has that really powerhouse feeling to it. With every instrument sounding larger than life. It feels like you’re in their jam session room and they’re coming up with the songs off the top of their heads. IT has that wild and rowdy feeling to it. The intense tone coupled with the tight musicianship is infectious and, like their other albums, extremely re-playable. As soon as you’re done with this record, you’ll put it on again and again. Or you’ll take my advice and look up their previous records and play it all. The production is good, I mean it’s not the finest production in the world, yet it suits this style of music. Everything is turned up and each piece of each song is presented in a way to get you headbanging.

There’s a good variety of rock n roll tunes here. From fast and furious punk-rock-like to the more groovy riff-based tracks. All coated in a sleaze rock style that gives the music a dirty and gritty edge. The riffs are fun, the grooves are slick, the guitar solos are over-the-top and the choruses are infectious and easy to sing along to. Perfect for a concert, lots of moments left open for crowds to sing along and other moments to allow mosh pits to develop. You can tell that Bullets and Octane know their audience as nothing really new is here. It has the same feeling as their last couple of records but who needs to reinvent the wheel still turns so well.

They’re back and it feels so good to be getting some new music from the veteran rockers. It feels like they’ve hit their stride as a band and they know how to make this style of music. They have just made it look so easy when they keep making music this consistent and this fun. This is a solid reminder of why I have been a fan of their music for so long. The grit, the intensity and the engaging fun of their music should be enough to keep any fan of rock music coming back for more.

10/10

Mick Birchall

Collateral – Collateral

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , on 27th March 2020 by izaforestspirit

Collateral
Collateral
Rock
Released 21st February 2020
Released via Roulette Media Records

‘Collateral’ is the debut album from the British rock band of the same name. They have already made a name for themselves in the rock industry last year when they won a competition to support Bon Jovi on their Runaway to Paradise Mediterranean Cruise.

Everything about this album is pretty much textbook stadium rock. There are big, bold vocals, easy to sing along choruses and uplifting guitar work. I enjoyed the opening track ‘Mr. Big Shot‘. It has definitely got that playful feel to it thanks to the rocking guitars and the catchy chorus. ‘ You also get some Bon Jovi vocals on track such as ‘Lullaby’, another highlight of this album. Similar things can be said about ‘Midnight Queen’, though that one has a slight country rock feel to it in the guitars. It’s not exactly my style but it has its moments.

Then they mellow things down for the reminder of the album, closing off with a few slow ballads. Once again the vocals work well and I cannot find any faults in the guitar work. Yet even after several listens, none of the last few songs stand out as much as the ones at the start of the album.

Overall, Collateral have created a promising debut album which will please rock fans everywhere. If they continue along this path, they have bright future ahead of them.

7/10
Iza Raittila

CrashDïet – Rust

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 22nd September 2019 by Pieni

CrashDïet
“Rust”
Sleaze/glam rock
Released: 13th September 2019
Via Frontiers Music

Rust

It’s been over a week since “Rust” was released but only now I’ve managed to write about it. Why? Because every time I’ve started doing so, the songs popped up in my head and I just couldn’t stop singing along and moving my whole body to their rhythm. When the single “We Are The Legion” was released on New Year’s Eve 2017, I felt that old school sleaze vibe which CrashDïet have always offered us and knew that whatever came next would be worth the waiting; still I was amazed at such worthiness.

Don’t expect me to compare singers, as that wouldn’t be fair to any of them. I’ll just say that Gabriel Keys has a powerful voice which fits the band like a glove, and even though I’ve only listened to him in the new tracks, I can imagine him singing the old ones as if it had been him who’s originally recorded them. Yeah, that kind of voice.

They’ve recently asked on their Facebook page which was our favorite song off the new album and to me that’s an honest trick question. How can I choose between the enticing riffs and catchy chorus of the title-track and the seductive melody of “In The Maze”? How can I choose between the enthralling beats of “Into The Wild” or the upbeat pulse of “Crazy”? The heart-warming ballad “Waiting For Your Love” in contrast with the sleazy speed of “Reptile”? And what about the hymn-ish “We Are The Legion” or the crowd-friendly “Filth & Flowers”? The latter even has parts as if recorded live because it’s exactly the kind of song that will have the audience cheering and do that now-you-sing-it game that vocalists love to put us through.

CrashDïet have had their fair share of downs but their albums have always been ups in their career. I won’t say “Rust” is the highest up so far but, once again, only out of fairness. I can say, though, that this is the essence of sleaze rock, bearing such purity and class – so hard to find nowadays.

9/10

by Renata “Pieni” Lino

King Zebra – King Zebra EP

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

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

Joakem – Mind Matter

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 26th January 2019 by mickbirchy

Joakem

Mind Matter

Progressive Rock, Heavy Metal

Released 7th December 2018

Self Released

It’s been a hot minute since took a listen to anything from the heavy metal community beyond the UK, so I feel it’s about time to rectify that. The Cyprus based progressive metal musician, Joakem has recently released his debut album Mind Matter and from the first moments of the album, I liked the sound. Musically the album is a blend of complex melodies and time signatures, heavy synth sounds, rough guitars, intricate and precise drum patterns and a blend of different vocal styles. It immediately leaves its impact on you and since the sound is so distinctive, you can quickly make up your own mind on whether it sticks with you or not. The album was recorded/mixed by Chris Charalambides at “Soundscape Studios” and mastered by 3x Latin Grammy-nominated, Alex Psaroudakis at “Alex Psaroudakis Mastering” in New York. So, you can bet the album packs that punch.

The album is certainly a gripping listen. The production is top-notch, with a great mix of all the instrumentation with Joakem’s vocals standing out. The complex and diverse rhythm patterns keep you hooked as you can never really guess where the song is going to go next. Also, the great balance of blasting synths and heavy guitars work well together. It comes together quite nicely and works for the range of styles that this album tries to tackle. Each song feels like a different sub-genre of rock and metal and no matter the style it still feels natural and the records keeps flowing. From all-out prog-metal to alt-rock and even some post-grunge elements work their way on to the album and it’s strange but all of the pieces work together and each song complement, as well as contrasts, with the previous.

Joakem’s vocals are indeed diverse as he manages to be competent in a variety of vocal techniques. I prefer his clean vocals over his guttural singing but that’s just me. I generally prefer clean vocals in music. It’s difficult to point at an element that lets the album down in a great way. I will say, that if you’re not into progressive music with changing time signatures and musical styles then this really isn’t the album for you. That’s sort of the let down for me, although it’s impressive, I prefer music to remain in a consistent style throughout. The high-points of the album are the more alt-rock and post-grunge style songs where he maintains more consistency, such as the opening track “A Peaceful Place” and the closing track “Departure”. However, I do think there is a happy medium for any fan of rock and metal.

Definitely an impressive and solid effort from an interesting artist. I would be more than happy to keep paying attention to him for future releases. Mind Matter is a decent record with a lot of positive aspects to it. It’s not something I would play all of the time, but if I’m in the right mood this is something I would consider putting on. If you’re interested in genre-mixing artists that break from normal convention, then Joakem might be up your alley.

4/5

Mick Birchall

DC4 – Atomic Highway

Posted in Uncategorized 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

Laurus Nobilis Music Famalicão 2018 – 3rd day

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 5th August 2018 by Pieni

The Godiva, Dark Tranquillity, Tarantula, Crisix, The Temple, Revolution Within, Low Torque, Legacy Of Cynthia
Louro, Famalicão (PT)
Promoted by Associação Ecos Culturais do Louro
28th July 2018

dt1

LEGACY18No “alternative metal” band had played yet so Legacy Of Cynthia had the pleasure of doing so, kicking off the third and last day of Laurus with their brilliant “Rats And Rattlesnakes”. Their sound is too exquisite to describe but that exquisiteness is also unique, and it works perfectly live – especially in an open air festival. Their vitality spread out to the crowd, and even when bass player Caesar made a “small” thank-you speech – he himself recognized he was a pain in the ass and that those who’ve been to Legacy Of Cynthia gigs before were surely sick of listening to him – everyone applauded, clearly amused. I admit dancing to “Cabaret”, which wrapped up their set.

https://www.facebook.com/legacy.cynthia/
LOWTORQUE18

Late last year, rockers Low Torque released their third album, “Chapter III: Songs From The Vault”. They’ve brought along some juicy tracks like “Dust Mojo” and “Mutant”, endorsing heavy headbanging and body movement in general. And that’s it, not much else to say – pure rock’n’roll is that straightforward.

https://www.facebook.com/lowtorque/
RW18

It was the first time I’ve seen Revolution Within’s new drummer Rúben Moreira (apparently also known as Tozé…) and the kid’s got my personal approval. He also plays in One Step To Fall and their singer Diogo Pardal would join Raça later on to roar “Pull The Trigger”, but that was closer to the end. Way before that the crowd had already gone wild with the band’s other hits and usual violence. In the end, Raça thanked everyone and paid respects to the Abbott fallen heroes: “Dimebag, Vinnie Paul – rest in peace, wherever you are”.

https://www.facebook.com/revolutionwithinband/
TEMPLE18

Time to head back to the main stage Porminho and watch The Temple. They were still sound-checking, playing their cover of Mão Morta’s “Budapeste” – which sadly they didn’t perform “for real” afterwards. But then again, their own songs set the crowd on fire, starting up a really peculiar mosh pit that included laughter, capoeira moves and guys on other guys’ shoulders. Its climax was certainly “War Dance”, when singer João and guitarists Marcelo and Tiago joined drummer Rui in a tribal percussionist feat.

https://www.facebook.com/thetempleband/
CRISIX18

Crisix is not your average thrash metal act. The music is thrash through and through: you’ve got the shredding guitars, the long shrills, the strong bass and the powerful beats. But the performance is much more than angry faces and neck-breaking headbanging. They run, they jump, they laugh… Fiesta all the time! In fact, that’s the exact term they use at some point, when they all change instruments and guitarist B.B. Plaza and bassist Dani Ramis take over the microphone. A medley of covers, including Beastie Boys’ “Fight For Your Right (To Party)” and RATM’s “Killing In The Name Of”, put the Barcelona band at the top of Laurus’ most amusing artists. And their own songs, such as “Get Out Of My Head”, “Conspiranoia” or “Ultra Thrash”, made a huge cloud of dust rise up out of the mosh circles.

https://www.facebook.com/CrisixOfficial/

TRTL18Getting Tarantula to play between Crisix and Dark Tranquillity wasn’t the best of options – unless the idea was for the crowd to recharge batteries. Their old school heavy/power metal is legendary around these parts, but even with the crowd echoing loudly the choruses to “Face The Mirror”, “You Can Always Touch The Sky” or “End Of The Rainbow”, something felt amiss. It’s been less than two years since I’ve last seen them live and they were in pretty good shape. Now it seemed like the spark was gone, or at least dimmed. It was a bit disappointing. And I’ll never understand why, despite someone always screams for “Power Tower”, they still refuse to play it…

https://www.facebook.com/Tarantula.Official/
dt2

There’s this Dark Tranquillity song called “The Mundane And The Magic” (which they’ve played in Laurus, by the way) and I believe “magic” is just the right word to describe what happened when the Swedes got on stage. Their current album “Atoma” was released over a year-and-a-half ago (review here) but as Mikael Stanne said, “it still felt pretty new”; the title-track, “Clearing Skies”, “Force Of Hand” and a couple more were just as rejoiced as old classics like “Monochromatic Stains”, “Therein” or “Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)”.
The encore started with “State Of Trust” and then Stanne said that it was always a pleasure to come back to Portugal and that we knew they’d keep coming; he’d learnt over the years that we were very passionate, that we weren’t “Lost To Apathy”. And “Misery Crown” was just… well, what I’ve first said: magical.

https://www.facebook.com/dtofficial/

GODIVA18This year’s festival finished with a local band, that came back together after almost a decade-long hiatus (I think it was an actual split-up, but whatever it was, it’s over). The Godiva was the first band I’ve shot with a digital camera, back in 2005, and for me it was enthralling to see this new version of them, all re-vamped and full of life – despite their “deadly” make-up, ha ha. And those who only knew them from the brand new single “Empty Coil”, or didn’t know them at all before this show, seemed to enjoy the old songs such as “Spiral”, “Fallen” or “Oblivion”. A great new era for the band, closing what represents a new era as well for this great festival. See you in 2019, Laurus Nobilis!

https://www.facebook.com/thegodivaband/

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Sick N’ Beautiful + Supports @ Manchester Aatma

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

Sick N’ Beautiful w/ Bad Pollyanna & Novacrow

Venue: Manchester Aatma Date: 02 June 2018

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

Novacrow


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

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

Bad Pollyanna


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

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

Sick N’ Beautiful


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

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

Mick Birchall

Sick N Beautiful – Element of Sex

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 31st May 2018 by mickbirchy

Sick N Beautiful

Element Of Sex

Shock Rock, Nu Metal, Electronic Metal

Released: 29 June 2018

via Rosary Lane Records

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

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

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

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

4/5

Mick Birchall

MAKS – 3ft No Diving

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on 2nd February 2018 by mickbirchy

MAKS

3ft No Diving

Rock, Southern Rock, Adult Alternative

Released: 23 June 2017

Self Released

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

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

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

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

3.5/5

Mick Birchall

Projecto Sem Nome – Bulas Para Dedos E Coração

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 23rd April 2017 by Pieni

Projecto Sem Nome
“Bulas Para Dedos E Coração”
alternative rock
Released: 8th October 2016
Via Raising Legends Records

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Projecto Sem Nome is Portuguese for “nameless project”, and while some of you may see it as a tacky lack of imagination, I think it’s quite ingenious and liberating – “nameless” but it’s still the name they go by, so it’s a clever pun, and at the same time, having such an empty meaning, it’s up to you to give it one. Just like with their lyrical content, which is so full of metaphors that even if Portuguese is your mother tongue, you’ll be left wondering about what singer/lyricist Cristovão Siano really means with those words.

Musically, it’s not so hard to label them as “alternative rock” is probably the most comprehensive and vague genre ever. “Até Amanhã” (see you tomorrow), for instance, is a rough post-grunge piece seasoned with delicate acoustic guitar fragments. “Detalhes” (details) has a more upbeat and catchy main riff but eventually sounds somewhat heavier, and then the guitar solo is pretty dire, as if out of one of those eighties hard rock hits. The ballad “Identidade XXX” (identity XXX) features a xylophone and an intense vocalization, while “Havia Lá” (there was) is probably the fiercest track, a double bass drum backing up Cristóvão’s high-pitch lament towards the end. And the duet with Blame ZeusSandra in “Marcha Gole” (sip march) gives the song an extra refinement.

Is therefore safe to say that “Bulas Para Dedos E Coração” (leaflets for fingers and heart) offers a batch of rock songs written and performed on a basis of a myriad of styles and influences. One word: classy.

4 / 5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Studio update from Mother Feather

Posted in Misc., News, Studio Report with tags , , on 15th April 2017 by izaforestspirit

The American glam/pop rock band Mother Feather have recently entered the Mission Sound studio in Brooklyn, New York where they will begin recording their second album. This time they have teamed up with Grammy-nominated producer Joshua Valleau and Jay Ruston, who has mixed and produced albums for Anthrax, Meatloaf and Steel Panther.

Here is an official update from their singer Ann Courtney:

The newest songs for the album were written last fall and winter in the midst and aftermath of the US presidential election. The political climate and outcome were personally devastating, but it also re-ignited my sense of purpose. I locked myself away to write, face my depression, and stare down some uncomfortable feelings. Truthfully, I went to some very dark and lonely places. So there’s a lot of fever – and intimacy – in the new music. When I emerged from my self-exile, I discovered my band waiting for me on the other side, so there’s exuberance and catharsis there too. It’s good to have friends, ya know?! Together, the five of us worked to develop the songs and shape them into some of Mother Feather’s best, most eclectic work yet. We couldn’t be more excited for this opportunity to continue our work with Metal Blade.

This will be the band’s second album with Metal Blade, following their critically acclaimed, self-titled debut which came out last year.

For more details:

https://www.facebook.com/motherfeather

http://www.motherfeather.com

 

Blame Zeus – Theory Of Perception

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 4th March 2017 by Pieni

Blame Zeus
“Theory Of Perception”
Alternative Rock
Self-released on 4th March 2017

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Blame Zeus started out as progressive rock but have now engaged in a more straight-forward direction – less technicalities, same elegance. Maybe that’s why “Queen” wasn’t included in this new album (either that or they totally revamped it and renamed it, but I honestly doubt it). “Queen” was a song they introduced live almost a year ago, at the last gig with the line-up they had at the time, and I remember saying that whatever changes were on the way, that song sounded pretty much like the Blame Zeus we all knew. I’m glad I was wrong. Not that I didn’t like their original sound, don’t get me wrong! I just find it more interesting when a band has more than one side (if you’ve read my reviews before, you’ve probably seen me using the expression “diversity is the spice of life” more than once). And “Theory Of Perception” offers some heavy, feisty stuff (“Slaughter House”, “Miles”) contrasting with gracious melancholy (“More Or Less”, “Entertainment Clown”); the rough seduction of “All Inside Your Head” and the loose rock of “Redemption”; the weepy electric solo in “The Moth” and the seventies acoustic heartache of “Signs”. Twelve new songs with distinct traits but one in common – the strong but very feminine voice of Sandra Oliveira.
Tonight I’ll see how this works live. In the studio it works peachy.

4/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Behemoth’s Nergal launches dark folk side-project Me And That Man

Posted in Misc., News, Studio Report with tags , , , , , , , on 20th January 2017 by izaforestspirit

The Behemoth frontman Nergal has recently formed a new side-project with rock musician John Porter. The project is called Me And That Man and it is completely different from Nergal’s main band.

There are no metal elements, instead Me And That Man is more akin to the works of Johnny Cash and Nick Cave. Dark folk is the best description that I can think of.

The duo are currently working on their debut album ‘Songs of Love and Death’, which is scheduled to hit the shops on 24th March 2017 via Cooking Vinyl.

In the meantime you can check out their first video here:

For more information about the project visit:

https://www.facebook.com/meandthatman/?fref=ts

http://www.meandthatman.com/

Sister – Stand Up, Forward, March!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 26th December 2016 by Pieni

Sister
“Stand Up, Forward, March!”
sleaze rock
Released: 25th November 2016
Via Metal Blade Records

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Sister’s debut “Hated” is a sleaze punk treat. Then for their sophomore “Disguised Vultures” they went heavier and wilder. And now with “Stand Up, Forward, March!”, they stood somewhere in-between, glamming up the sleaze and the wild.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this happened after Martin Sweet joined the ranks – after all, he’s responsible for all those juicy guitars in Crashdïet. But I don’t want to give him all the credit as the rest of the band has proven their writing skills aren’t raw. Still, once you hear the guitar solos in songs such as “Trail Of Destruction”, “Carry On” or “Endangered Species”, you sense a refinement which you can’t help but associate with Sweet’s work.

The album kicks off with the fiery “Destination Dust” and wraps it up with the joyful “Piece Of Shame” (“I’m too perfect to die” is a hell of a chorus to be sung at any party) – pretty much Sister style. But they also took a few new things and used them in their own way, like the hints of blues they’ve twisted for “Unbeliever”, the ritualistic chants and melancholy that “Let It Bleed” features, or the somewhat old school goth outline melody – as in The Sisters Of Mercy and such – upon which “Liberation Song” was built. And in the end, it all sounded like Sister just the same.

Sister’s best album so far? Probably. Best album of 2016 on my personal list? Definitely!

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

The Answer release new video and announce U.K. tour dates

Posted in Misc., News with tags , , , , on 11th October 2016 by izaforestspirit

The Northern Irish rock band The Answer have recently release a new video for their latest single ‘Solas’. ‘Solas’ is the title track of their new album which is scheduled to hit the shops on 28th October 2016 via Napalm Records.

Here is the cover art:

The new album is inspired by the band’s Celtic background and sees them incorporating elements of Irish instrumentation, vocal style and Gaelic chanting into their music.

You can check out the new video here:

The Answer have also announced that they will be touring The U.K. next month with The Dead Daisies. So if you would like to hear some Irish rock n’rock then you can catch them live on the following dates:

NOVEMBER TOUR 2016
Sat 12th – The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
Sun 13th – The Classic Grand, Glasgow
Mon 14th – Corporation, Sheffield
Tues 15th – Riverside, Newcastle Upon Tyne
Wed 16th – Picturedrome, Holmfirth
Fri 18th – Diamond Live Lounge, Doncaster
Sat 19th – Academy 2, Birmingham
Sun 20th – Concorde 2, Brighton
Tue 22nd – Waterfront, Norwich
Wed 23rd – Electric Ballroom, London

For more information visit:

https://www.facebook.com/theanswerrock/

http://www.theanswer.ie/

 

 

Volbeat – Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on 22nd May 2016 by mickbirchy

Volbeat
Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie
Heavy metal, Hard Rock

Released: 3 June 2016
Via Universal Music Group

Volbeat are one of those bands that just have it.  I couldn’t tell you for the life of me what ‘it’ is, but they definitely have it.  Over the years they have put out splendid record after bombastic hit. Once again I think they’ve done it again, well they have for me at least. Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie, is their 6th studio album and it’s more of what have done over the years, it has a big sound, a lot of emotional power and the songs are catchy and anthemic.  It is also the first album not to feature bassist, Anders Kjølholm who left in November 2015.

This album has a lot to enjoy about it.  From the big sounding production to the consistent and commanding song structure.  All designed to be lodged in your head and to sing at the top of your lungs at live shows. Michael Poulsen’s vocals are crystal clear and have a lot of emotional weight to throw around and it’s matched by his own superb guitar work with Rob Caggiano’s blinding guitar skill as well. Everything on this album sounds big and expansive, it makes me want to track down all of the lyrics and sing them loud as I’m sure you will  too. The pure emotion on the album is wonderful as every song has weight and they’re not just throw away rock songs to get as many people in a concert venue.  The songs are quite frankly beautiful.  Especially songs like For Eveigt (featuring Johan Olsen from Magtens), Mary Jane Kelly & Goodbye Forever.  For Eveigt has this sweetness to it and the addition of Johan’s vocals only serves to add to the power of the song.  Whilst Mary Jane Kelly & Goodby Forever have the aura of real honesty and the anthemic choruses are genuinely fun to sing along to.  By the way the gospel choir on Goodbye Forever nearly brought me to tears, it’s not a sad song, but it just was done so well that it got me emotional.

Then you get to the other thing that Volbeat do exceptional well. Kicking you in the arse with hard rock awesomeness (side note: is it strange my spellchecker recognised that word?).  Oh well,  songs like the album’s lead in single The Devil’s Bleeding Crown and Seal The Deal are sure to keep old school rock fans satisfied. With Caggiano’s signature guitar stings and sweeping solos mixed with the incredible riffs that keep you pumped for hours.  Volbeat really have made something amazing here.  Mixing all rock styles, from hard rock to metal to blues to ballads.  There’s seemingly no style that they can’t take and make their own.  This is a definite must for anyone in 2016.

5/5

Mick Birchall

The Hyena Kill – Atomised

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 2nd May 2016 by mickbirchy

The Hyena Kill
Atomised
Hard rock
Released: 16 May 2016
Via Proud Cow Records

Manchester based rockers, The Hyena Kill have been making waves recently in the UK. They have a reputation as being one of the best live bands on the independent circuit and when you consider the fact that there only two of them it’s all the more impressive.  The band are raw, intense and uncompromising when it comes to their music.With brutal riffs and screamed melodies, The Hyena Kill could well bring in the next generation of hardcore in the UK. Building off of their influences rather than just blatantly copying them, they’re looking to make their mark on the UK rock scene with their debut album Atomised.

The band consists of Steven Dobb (on guitar and vocals) and Lorna Blundell (on Drums) and they share a fantastic chemistry working off of each other in superb fashion, making these raw and, quite frankly, beautiful tones.  It really strikes in your head and leaves an impression. That’s probably the best way to describe this album, striking.  Everything hits you like a tonne of bricks as the aforementioned, uncompromised sound attacks your senses. Everything feels raw like the album was done in one take and you can really feel the raw passion and emotional weight in every song.  From the blistering “Tongue Tied” to the heavy and powerful title track “Atomised”. All of it is just balls to the wall harcore.  Steven’s heavy vocals complement the heavy twang of the guitar and his more subdued voice works for the most part as well, although I’ll admit I’m not a fan of the vocal effect.  It’s quite echoey and can make the overall production feel muddy.

I don’t have much bad to say about the album. Except that the production can be muddy and that really does hurt the album.  Take a listen to the current state of heavy rock records going around at the moment.  Yes, they’re intense and wild but they still have that polish to them that makes them sound like finished products. Whereas The Hyena Kill’s album feels a little…. Well, middle of the road. I’m not say the songs are bad.  The concepts are there and it’s clear that they are very talented songwriters but the presentation of this album feels quite messy. Overall it’s a mixed bag of sounds that definitely grabbed my attention, but doesn’t hold it all that well.  Which is why it’s taken me two weeks to write this review.  The album wasn’t holding my attention for very long and I found myself moving on to the plethora of other music I have to look at.

If you particularly follow the UK independent rock scene and like the raw intensity, you may like, or even love this.  However, for me it just lacks that polish and flair to keep me coming back for more.

2.5/5

Mick Birchall

Patricia Vonne – Rattle My Cage

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on 26th April 2016 by izaforestspirit

Patricia Vonne
Rattle my Cage
Released 22nd April 2016
Texas “Tejano” Rock
Released via String Commander, a division of M.I.G.-Music GmbH

Rattle my Cage’ is the new album from the Texan American singer and songwriter Patricia Vonne. In addition to being a musician, Vonne is also an actress and the sister of renowned film maker Robert Rodriguez. Her style is a mixture of rock with Latino music and jazz as well as other genres popular in her native Texas.

I’m not exactly sure what Texas rock is. Texas makes me think of Westerns, ranches, cowboys, country music, Tex-mex food and so on. Based on the description offered in the press release, I knew that this wasn’t going to be country music nor was it a soundtrack to some Western movie. So, let’s see what we have here…

The title track, co-written with the blues artist Johnny Reno, is a pleasant and fairly catchy rock song which demonstrates Vonne’s skill as a singer. Her melodic and passionate vocals are a perfect match to the guitars. The Latino style, Spanish song Que Maravilla slows the pace down a little with the guitar tunes and the sound of the violin giving it a slightly sombre tone. Also Patricia Vonne’s Spanish sounds all the more profound and it’s impossible not to feel the emotions that must have gone into writing the lyrics.

This Cat’s in the Doghouse has that catchy and light-hearted rock’n’roll style which makes you want to get up and dance. Dulce Refugio sounds like that would easily be played in any club or bar specializing in Latino music be it salsa, tango or even flamenco. You can almost picture yourself at a bar by the beach, wearing a sombrero hat and drinking an ice-cold Corona beer.

In summary, listening to ‘Rattle My Cage’ this has been an interesting and educational experience for me. It’s taught me a few things about the various music styles of Texas. I happen to speak Spanish and I’m familiar with Latino music so Patricia Vonne’s Spanish songs on here struck a cord with me.

4/5

Iza Raittila

The 69 Eyes – Universal Monsters

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 14th April 2016 by Pieni

The 69 Eyes
“Universal Monsters”
Goth’n’Rock
Release: 22nd April 2016
Via Nuclear Blast

 photo 69eyes.universal.monsters_zpsf8iviq0x.jpg

It’s funny – in an admirable way – how The 69 Eyes keep surprising us, after all these years, while releasing albums within the same parameters. Then again, I believe it’s simply called “talent”.

If “X” was the band’s “pop album” (quoting Jyrki 69 himself), “Universal Monsters” is the rock one – hand-in-hand with that ever-present gothness, of course. You can tell that yourselves already, if you’ve listened to both singles the album has produced – the upbeat rhythm of “Dolce Vita” (those catchy piano keys and that spry guitar solo) and the fetching melody of “Jet Fighter Plane”; the pulse is stronger and yet they have The 69 Eyes seal all over them.

Then things get a bit heavier with “Blackbird Pie”. And somber when, midway, some kind of Indian rain dance beats precede a beautiful semi-acoustic solo. Then watch them “gothicise” the Arabian feel of “Jerusalem”! What an exotic song that turned out! There’s also a Spanish guitar in the background of “Never”, so I dare saying that “Universal Monsters” may not use sounds from all around the universe, but it rolls quite internationally.

“Miss Pastis” is even more cheerful than “Dolce Vita”, the piano replaced by what sounds like a blow-organ, while “Blue” is the mandatory ballad, the sadness embedded in it living up to its name. I wonder if it’s just a coincidence that the most popular ballad from the previous album was also named after a color…

“Saving the best for last” would be somewhat unfair, as the whole album is stellar, but “Rock’N’Roll Junkie” has indeed everything to become a hymn – the lyrics, that intro resembling The Rolling Stones“Start Me Up” and Jyrki’s vocal posture a tribute to David Bowie… yep, that one’s going down in the rock history.

5/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino