Archive for Rock

Bullets and Octane – Riot, Riot Rock N Roll

Posted in Metal, Punk Rock, Rock, CD 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 CD, Rock 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 CD, Rock 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 CD, Rock 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 CD, Metal, Rock 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 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

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