Archive for Rock

DC4 – Atomic Highway

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

DC4

Atomic Highway

Hard Rock, Classic Rock

Released: 21 September 2018

via Highvol Music

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

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

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

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

4/5

Mick Birchall

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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 nI’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 Alternative, CD, Industrial, Metal, Rock 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 CD, Folk, Rock 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 Alternative, CD, Rock 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, Rock, 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