5 Times George Michael Nailed It

When I was a child growing up it was kinda hard to get away from whatever pop music was polluting the charts at the time; whether I liked it or not, this music was soundtracking my childhood. However, what I didn’t realise at the time, basically because I found songs like ‘True’, ‘Rio’ or ‘Karma Chameleon’ irritating (though now admit to their pop genius), was that the people who sung numbers like these could not only hold a tune but were seriously talented. Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet) had an absolutely massive voice, Simon Le Bon (Duran Duran) could really nail a hook, and as for Boy George, his voice had texture – just listen to ‘Do You Really Want To Hurt Me’ it’s stunning.

Then, of course, there was George Michael. I wasn’t exactly a fan, but as pop music went at the time George could normally meet with pretty much universal approval and was about as close as you get to pop perfection. I always knew he was a good singer, I mean, I bought ‘Older’, which is a fine album with a jazzy late night feel that makes for a very chilled listen, but it was only recently that it really hit me.

Since the turn of the century, we’ve been inundated with “talent” realities – Idol, X-Factor, The Voice to name a few – and a number of alumni from these shows have gone on to achieve considerable success. The shows themselves have thrown up a number of memorable moments where singers have stunned crowds with incredible voices or stand out performances. A handful are even genuine talents with a long history of hard work behind them; think Adam Lambert and Leona Lewis, but in reality most are just winging it, benefitting from big production, teams of songwriters and talent makers like Simon Cowell looking for a quick return on their investment. However, singers like these, and other internet sensations discovered via YouTube or wherever, have become the norm and are everywhere.

So when, a few years ago, I happened across a George Michael live show on a satellite music channel – it was an unplugged style thing – it struck me just how easy he made it look and how little production he needed. Where the reality stars were singing their hearts out to make it look good, George hardly broke sweat, where the wannabes were struggling to reach a note and get all the words into the melody, George had smoothly glided through and never missed a beat or failed a note. Thinking back over his career, a couple of big ballads aside, he rarely belted out a tune, there was always this sensation that he was singing well within himself and that he could sing pretty much anything with consummate ease. And therein lies George’s genius, ok, his career may have waned in recent years, but his early work has stood the test of time, simply because it was so well done. Great voice, great talent.

Anyway, here’s a bunch of times George nailed it in his own inimitable style.

‘Careless Whisper’
One of the few times George really lets loose, showing off an enviable range and stunning power. Sure, it’s about as slushy as a ballad can get, but the sax riff is genius and the vocal nothing short of incredible. Hats off to Andrew Ridgeley for writing such a timeless classic.

‘Somebody to Love’
Move over Adam Lambert, George was the original choice as the new Queen vocalist, such was the supremacy of his performance at the Freddie Mercury tribute. There was a lot of speculation in the media that he really would join as permanent replacement, but rumour has it that John Deacon vetoed the project (among other rumours). Whether he could’ve cut it on the rockier numbers will also remain open to question. Anyway, George described ‘Somebody to Love’ as the hardest song he ever had to sing, but boy does he nail it, whether in the famous rehearsal video or on stage at Wembley, where he puts in a sublime performance – take note singers, that is how you work a crowd.

‘Father Figure’
For me, this is one of the most underrated songs in George’s back catalogue and is often overlooked, yet it has stood the test of time and his understated vocal shows the depth of his singing talent. This performance from the Mtv Unplugged of 1996 is testament to the talent of the man.

In my humble opinion, this darkly jazzy track is one of George’s finest moments. It’s a beautifully understated song that shows off some fine vocals – there’s a bit of bite, a bit of hush – and really was a coming of age. The whole album stands up for its quality until today – ‘Jesus to a Child’, ‘Fastlove’, ‘Spinning The Wheel’…great songs, brilliantly sung.

Ok, so I’m a bit of a sucker for a big bad Mary J vocal, she always kills it, but on this Stevie Wonder classic George more than holds his own on what is a superb duet. Whether it’s trading riffs between verses or when they go head to head as the song gathers to its killer gospel climax, George puts in an awesome performance.


The Best Records of 2016 Part 2

I’ve already highlighted a bunch of records from 2016 that I believe to be cool as fuck and I’ve also banged on at length about the thrash metal renaissance – five of my favourite albums of the year are right there. However, there was so much awesome music around this year deserving a mention that my end of year round up merits a part two, so here goes…

The Lion and The Wolf – ‘Cardiac Hotel’ is one of the most lovely records I’ve heard in years. Its sublime blend of folky indie ticks all the boxes as it wraps the listener in a warm blanket of melancholy, the sadness of which manages to be uplifting and comforting in equal measure. The quality songwriting weaves a richly textured tapestry, striking an intimate chord with the listener as it deals with the everyday hurt in life. Thank you Thomas George.

The problem with the Pixies – ‘Head Carrier’ is that it’s not ‘Surfer Rosa’ or ‘Doolittle’, but if you take it on its own merit, it is a mighty fine record. Sure, one or two tracks are on the ordinary side, but there is still plenty of quality on display – ‘Classic Masher’ being as good a slice of indie pop as you are likely to hear, while the sound of Black Francis screaming his way through ‘Baals Back’ rolls back the years. Throw in the banger that is ‘Um Chagga Lagga’ and it’s a winning record.

The anarchic chaos that is Heck – Instructions is another record that surprised the shit outta me this year. Already famous for their frenetic stage show, the band formally known as Baby Godzilla managed to translate their wild abandon into a noisy as hell collection of attacking riffs and pummelling rhythms that transcends classification, such is the stylistic melting pot on offer. Just when you think it’s all frenzied mayhem they trip you up with a moment of subtle beauty or an absolutely stunning guitar solo. Well worth a listen – it’s exciting stuff.

My EP of the year over at Already Heard went to the superb Making Monsters – ‘Bad Blood’, whose six tracks of hard edged alternative rock are all killer. This is a band going places – they know how to bang out a bad ass riff and in Emma Gallagher they boast a really talented and versatile vocalist; she can do tender or angry, deliver a hook and even go guttural. Couple that with their sassy songwriting and you have a winning combination; can’t wait for the debut album.

I’ll admit that The Hotelier – ‘Goodness’ took me a few listens to get into, but once I did, it became a regular play. It’s a pretty deep record and worth investing some time exploring. For some reason, it reminds me of REM, but in a good way – I guess they are kinda like how I always wanted Stipe and Co to sound – intelligent lyrics in well structured engaging songs, only with an edge. Tracks like ‘Piano Player’, ‘Settle The Scar and ‘Soft Animal are all kinds of good, check em out.

Admittedly, I haven’t given it as much time as it deserves but man, Black Peaks – Statues is one spectacular record. From the furious opening and intricate twists and turns of ‘Glass Built Castles’ through to the shifting textures of ‘To Take The First Turn’ with its powerful blend of progressive hardcore, this is a rollercoaster of an album. It takes the listener on a heady journey through the aggressive, the dramatic and the beautiful; it is as haunting as it is engaging and makes for a truly powerful listen. Following a debut album as epic as this one is gonna be quite a task.

There is a subtly cool vibe to Solange – ‘A Seat At The Table’, as the younger Knowles sister stylishly pulls up a chair. This is a finely worked album that blends elements of pop, soul and R &B around Solange’s soothing tones, though her voice possesses a delicious ache just beneath the surface. There is a maturity to the songs and the insightful interludes as she expounds on race, womanhood and empowerment, that makes for a thoroughly compelling listen. Hypnotic rather than bombastic, assured rather than sassy, this is one classy record.

There is something almost elusive about Warpaint – Heads Up; it seems to be much more about the overall groove than individual songs as it rumbles hypnotically along. It is something of a master class in the use of beats and bass to create a vibe, as the understated guitar lines and gossamer thin vocals add a textured finish. I really enjoyed this record and it’s one that I keep going back to, trying to grasp its meandering indie groove; superb.

I’m sure there are other albums I could’ve included here, but I decided to focus on those that have most stayed with me to make this another excellent year of music. Roll on 2017….

The Best Records of 2016 – Part 1

If there is one dead cert in the world of music writing, it’s the end of year list – the golden opportunity to wax lyrical about all the uber cool shit we’ve been listening to through the year that we totally believe every other fucker should also be listening to. I’m just as guilty as the next pensmith; I mean, I’ve already done two – one for Already Heard ( http://alreadyheard.com/post/154430616852/record-of-the-year-2016-staff-lists), another exclusively on thrash metal albums, although in fairness it was a retrospective article analyzing the genre with a top 5 attached (https://hardpresseded.wordpress.com/2016/12/07/thrashback-best-of-2016/)

But lets face it, here in the blogosphere it’s basically a totally subjective list and isn’t really worth shit, unlike the top ten we came up with at AH (http://alreadyheard.com/post/154422480446/already-heards-record-of-the-year-2016) which involves several contributors. So, the final list is a kind of representation of the site’s view of the world of alternative rock, and therefore a pretty useful piece of retrospection. Anyway, my top ten is there, along with the site’s top ten, but I have to say that probably wouldn’t be a definitive list, nor would another one that I might write tomorrow. So what’s the point?

However, there is surely some value in celebrating some of the seriously cool records that have had an impact on me this year. It doesn’t need to be a top ten. They don’t need ranking. It’s enough to say that this is cool as fuck and you could do a lot worse than give it a whirl, you might discover something you love – it’s what Spotify is for, for fuck’s sake. So, here come a bunch of records I’ve been listening to pretty solidly this year and intend to keep spinning well into the future.

David Bowie – ‘Blackstar’ I was deeply moved by the death of David Bowie and wrote about it at length here:https://hardpresseded.wordpress.com/2016/01/12/303/ Listening to Blackstar is inextricably linked to the loss of this musical giant and was always going to be an emotional experience, but having gone back to it again and again since its release, I have to say that it really is quality and holds up well. ‘Lazarus’ is undeniably superb and the artistic merit of the record as a whole is unquestionable. Great record – excellent way to punctuate such an incredible cultural footprint.

I only got round to listening to Michael Kiwanuka – ‘Love & Hate’ a couple of weeks ago, but have had it on very heavy rotation ever since. Damn, what a great, honest record this is. Michael lays bare his conflicting emotions on this sublime collection that neatly combines a kinda classic seventies soul groove with a more contemporary feel and some achingly good guitar work. The title track is unbeatable.

Lisa Hannigan – ‘At Swim’ Great songs, cool vibe, lovely voice, excellent record – I keep going back for more.

Lonely the Brave – Things Will Matter is a good solid sophomore record from the Cambridgeshire boys and continues their climb up industry ladders. There are some quite spectacular moments, like the massive ‘Black Mire’, the excellent ‘Diamond Days’ and ‘Jaws of Hell’ that hint at a very bright future for British alternative rock.

Slowcoaches – ‘Nothing Gives’ came out about a week ago and I had the immense pleasure of five outta fiving it for Already Heard. The most exciting garage punk record in years, it has an energy comparable with The Strokes debut and rocks from beginning to end as it tackles issues like loss and anxiety. Heather Perkins is punk rock personified, making their brand of angry optimism instantly relatable – this band deserve to be massive.

The Cult – ‘Hidden City’ There’s nothing like your favourite band hitting good form again. Ok, it’s not ‘Love’ or ‘Sonic Temple’, but it’s creatively vibrant, still pushing boundaries and features some killer tracks. Ian Astbury‘s raw vocal on ‘Birds of Paradise’ and the killer hook of ‘No Love Lost’ find The Cult at the top of their game.

Another return to form from an eighties icon came on The Mission – Another Fall From Grace. Wayne Hussey took a conscious decision to dust off his twelve string and write an album bridging the gap between Sisters of Mercy and The Mission. According to the front man it was a painfully cathartic experience, but the vocalist can be justifiably proud of his band’s finest record since their peak. Sure, it’s as overblown and pretentious as you might expect, but Mish fans wouldn’t have it any other way. The title track is prime example of Wayne’s songwriting prowess and ‘Tyranny of Secrets’ shows they can still deliver a good old Goth rock banger.

Black Foxxes – ‘I’m Not Well’ is quite simply one of the best records I’ve heard in years. It’s rawness imbues it with power, energy and emotion at a level few bands come close to. Stone cold killer from beginning to end – album of the year by far.

Thrashback – Best of 2016

When I first heard Dave Mustaine shredding faster than ever on ‘Fatal Illusion’ it was clear something had shifted. Sure, Megadeth and a bunch of other bands have all continued releasing thrashy records over the years, but it had all gone a bit stale. So when Dystopia dropped and suddenly Megadave was sounding fresh and exciting, it meant something was in the air. And sure enough, little by little, thrash bombs kept dropping and exploding through my headphones with a ferociousness and fervour I hadn’t heard in years.

As in 1986, three of the big four have released killer records this year, but as well as the big guns there are a crop of other groups who have also put out some of the finest work of their careers and some of the finest thrash albums ever. The list of quality releases this year is quite literally massive, the genre as a whole sounding vibrant and exciting.

I put this down to the marginalization within the music industry; now that there are so few major labels, all of which concentrate their eggs firmly in the mainstream basket, there is a gaping hole on the alternative side of things, so counter culture is thriving, and it is largely fueled by the internet. This has meant that smaller boutique labels like the fantastic Nuclear Blast have been able to deepen otherwise niche markets like that of thrash. A quick flick through the label’s roster and it’s obvious that much of the current excitement on the thrash scene can be laid at their door. Then there’s Metal Blade and Roadrunner and their enduring dedication to the metal scene.

Also, now that we live in super slick, social media obsessed, internet madness, there seems to be a kind of retro cool about the old school sound, suddenly, it’s OK to go back to the eighties, so the older groups now sound relevant rather than dated. Anyway, this eighties vibe and vibrant alternative scene has translated into some mighty fine records and made 2016 the biggest year in thrash since the glory days. Here’s what it’s all been about…

Suicidal Tendencies went back to their roots to great effect with ‘World Gone Mad’, their most defiant and most hardcore record in years. It was great to hear Mike Muir as passionate as ever, and with Dave Lombardo putting in a titanic drum performance they managed to retain a thrash edge despite the album’s punkiness. Meanwhile, Danish veterans Artillery put together a good old fashioned riff heavy superfly thrasher on Penalty By Perception, which is one seriously riffy record. Of the younger bands kicking up a storm, the standout is undoubtedly Vektor, whose ambitiously conceptual Terminal Redux makes for a technically excellent record and is well worth investing a bit of time in. They put their abilities to good effect, creating a keen sense of drama that resonates between the multiple layers of this highly textured epic. There have also been noteworthy releases from the likes of Voivod, Flotsam and Jetson, Vader and the massive Gojira. However, for my top five it’s strictly old school.

5) Testament – ‘Brotherhood of the Snake’
Of this year’s releases it was ‘Brotherhood of the Snake that was the most pleasantly surprising. I always had a soft spot for Testament and loved their early material, but there was always a feeling of unfulfilled potential with ‘Souls of Black’ failing to deliver on their early promise, despite selling well. Therefore, it was brilliant to hear them produce a record as strong as ‘Brotherhood…’; they sound harder, heavier and faster than in their heyday, but have managed to incorporate their melodic tendencies with some killer hooks; Chuck Billy is sounding incredible, with the kind of performance younger singers could learn a lot from. ‘Black Jack’, ‘The Number Game’, ‘Stronghold’, ‘The Pale King’ are just some of the stand outs on this relentless collection of all killer no filler.

4) Megadeth – Dystopia
There are moments on ‘Dystopia’ that could slip easily into Megadeth‘s impressive cannon of material. The above mentioned ‘Fatal Illusion’, which rocks as hard and fast as anything on ‘Peace Sells…’, being one, the ‘Rust’ish ‘Bullet To The Brain’ another. Then there’s the double punch of the massive ‘Poisonous Shadows’ and instrumental ‘Conquer or Die’, where Kiko Loureiro (Angra) and Lamb of God Chris Adler really earn their salt, proving the catalysts for this reinvigoration. Sure, ‘Dystopia’ has its flaws, but this is without doubt Mustaine’s strongest album in years and with the current line up they actually sound exciting again.

3) Anthrax – ‘For All Kings’
Despite sounding a little overblown on first listen, For All Kings has stood up well and repeated listens have revealed more and more depth to this excellent record, the songs are excellently crafted and there is a surprisingly strong sense of melody to temper their ever present thrashiness. Joey Belladonna is quite simply outstanding throughout and musically speaking there is plenty to get your ears around, from stone cold bangers like Evil Twin to textured epics like the sprawling ‘Blood Eagle Wings the entire album rocks.

2) Metallica – ‘Hardwired…to Self-Destruct’
At its best ‘Hardwired…to Self-Destruct’ is up there with Metallica‘s finest work. The first half of the album, or disc one of the CD, delivering in spades. However, the second half is found wanting and lends a slight sense of disappointment to what could have been their best record since ‘Puppets’. Once again, the band’s incapacity to self edit has meant that some really good riffs are wasted on some really average songs. Even so, when it works, it nails it in style; ‘Moth Into Flame’ is their finest single since Enter Sandman, ‘Dream No More’ will be massive live and ‘Halo on Fire’ plays like a retrospective of their entire career. There is a welcome ‘Kill ’em All’ vibe underpinning the record, with some serious classic riffing liberally peppered around the album, and all in all it is very, very good, but just misses out on being the modern classic we were hoping for.

1) Death Angel – The Evil Divide
Without doubt the most vibrant thrash release of the year is ‘Evil Divide’; with stacks of sublime riffing from Rob Cavestany and absolutely superb vocals from Mark Osegueda. From the moment opening track ‘The Moth’ starts racing away on the back of some fly riffage, the album hits a pulsating thrash fury that is relentless. The full on attack of each and every track is nothing short of killer, it sounds fresh and exciting, yet has a foot firmly in classic thrash territory, while boasting an energy and groove that is hard to beat. ‘Hatred United, United Hate’ is simply awesome, while the performances on the emotion fueled ‘Lost’ are nothing short of stunning; then there’s the killer guitar work on tracks like ‘Breakaway’ and the excellent arrangements of songs like ‘It Can’t Be This’ and ‘Father of Lies’. Not only is it an immediately likeable album, but it stands up – it doesn’t get tired with repeated listens and at a tight ten tracks there’s no baggage and it never gets indulgent. Great fucking record.

Everybody Loves a Ballad

Ok. Hands up, I admit it – I’m a sucker for a big rock ballad. You can’t beat a bluesy riff, some heart-break lyrics, a soaring solo and a massive chorus. Sure they roll out cliché upon cliché, but who cares? What am I made of – stone? Hell no! Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved a good old soppy love song or a tragic melancholy slice of the break-up blues; I mean my favourite Elvis track as a kid was ‘I Just Can’t Help Believing’ and I loved ELO‘s ‘I Can’t Get It Out of My Head’; Doctor Hook‘s ‘Sylvia’s Mother’ was another that drifted up through the floor late at night that I couldn’t resist. So call me a sentimental old fool if you will but come on, we all love a good ballad really and here’s a few that have stood by me.

How do you end an album almost totally dedicated to shagging? Getting dumped that’s how. ‘What It Takes’ has to be one of the ultimate power ballads – it is Aerosmith at their heart aching best. Lyrically it is nothing short of superb, even with its cheeky references to other Aerosongs*, and musically it’s sublime, the subtle time shifts are pure genius. Throw in an astonishing vocal from Steven Tyler and you have one of their finest crying in your beer tunes ever, something they’ve tried hard to match multiple times since, failing repeatedly every damn time. Yes, even on ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’ – it was good, but pales in comparison. Pass the tissues.

Ah yes, I remember it well, one of my first musical epiphanies. Back in the days before the internet, before satellite TV and even before channel 5, entertainment back home in England fell way short of today’s multiplicity – we had four TV channels and a handful of radio stations, yet access to non-pop programming was available for a few precious hours here and there. Besides The Tube (Channel 4), The Old Grey Whistle Test (BBC 2) and of course the legendary John Peel on Radio One, we also had the Friday Rock Show with the gravel voiced Tommy Vance for the rock/metal crowd, of which I was an enthusiastic member. Anyway, there I was one Friday night, in the middle of winter, must’ve been January ’89, headphones plugged into my midi system, when Tommy announced the next song – “Top 40 record? Hmmmm” – followed by the heartbreak riff of ‘How Come It Never Rains’ pulling on the heartstrings of my lovelorn 15 year old self. Damn it, I almost cried! I fucking loved that song, still do, Tyla‘s raspy cracked voice, the hook laden chorus and all those bluesy notes bending out of shape – unbeatable.

‘Don’t Know What You Got (til it’s gone)’ is without doubt one of the cheesiest most cliché glam rock power ballads in the history of hair spray. Forget about that shit and check out the pure blues of the title track from the same album ‘Long Cold Winter’. Cinderella were somewhat unfairly lumped in with the whole 80s glam thing, Tom Keifer is actually a pretty badass singer and sure played a mean lick of guitar, especially on the weeping notes of this Zeppelinesque blues lament, man, the sky is crying, the guitars are crying, even Tom sounds like he’s crying and it’s gonna be a long cold winter without your love baby.

Jeff Buckley‘s ‘Grace’ is one of the finest albums ever committed to vinyl, bearing not even the vaguest hint of filler. Although ‘Last Goodbye is an absolutely incredible break up song, there is way too much groove to the bass line to call it a ballad; ‘Lover, You Should’ve Come Over’ on the other hand….slow acoustic strum, rainy funeral imagery and tonight you’re on my mind… we get soaring vocals in the hook, brooding Hammond underpinning the melody as the emotions stack up in the lyrical climax:
“It’s never over, my kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder
It’s never over, all my riches for her smiles when i slept so soft against her
It’s never over, all my blood for the sweetness of her laughter
It’s never over, she’s the tear that hangs inside my soul forever”

Then there’s ‘Forget Her’ which features Jeff at his best, fuck it just listen to it – it’s awesome.

Tesla were so sure they’d written the ultimate love song that they called it ‘Love Song’. Ok, so it’s like mega cheesy but hey, it works. Medieval intro and classic break up lyric to kick off, but the twist here is that this song offers hope that we can all find love again. It’s corny, it’s lighters in the air time and on one level it totally sucks, but on another you can’t argue with it’s delivery, from every soaring guitar lick to the arm waving sing along parts – the extended five man acoustical jam version is unbeatable – it out clichés every glam rock cliché ballad ever – even ‘Every Rose..’.

You don’t get much more heart breaking than the warm bath, open vein agony of ‘Black’ by Pearl Jam. Man, that Eddie Vedder dude was really upset when he wrote those words and if you can’t identify with how the poor fella feels then you are either a cold unfeeling shell or you’ve never been dumped. There’s only one thing more emotional than Eddie singing that killer mid section and that’s thousands of people doing it for him. Check this out, the camera work is awful but the sound’s impeccable.

One of my all time favourite songs is so obscure you’ll be hard pushed to find it anywhere. On the UK version of Tones of Home by Blind Melon, ‘Wooh G.O.D.’, also known as ‘Whoa Dog’, is either a mispress on the vinyl 12″ or wrongly credited as ‘Soak The Sin’. Whatever the case may be, this melancholy lament by tragic vocalist Shannon Hoon to his dead dog** is just so damn raw…

*) “Girl before I met you; I was F.I.N.E fine; but your love made me a prisoner; yeah my heart’s been doing time”
**) “Wooh” was the name of Shannon’s dog. It is spelled Wooh, but pronounced “whoa.” Shannon would always catch it tearing something up or raising hell and he always yelled “whoa!” to try to get him to stop so he named him that. Shannon got him in a pet store and really connected with the dog and felt bad that he was cooped up in a cage. The dog was expensive so Shannon went back to the pet store, slid the glass up on the cage and snuck Wooh out of the store under his coat. He died when he swallowed a pin cushion. He was undergoing surgery and was over-anethstized by the vet. Shannon and Rogers buried Wooh near the big “HOLLYWOOD” sign in California. From http://www.blindmelon.org

Eight British Bands You Really Ought To Know About

Ever since I started writing about music I have had the dubious pleasure, and occasional outright torture, of listening to a plethora of new, old and downright ancient bands from the ragged cross section of multiple sub genres that exist in the world of rock. Basically, I have been introduced to the world of music far removed from the Coldplays, Mumfords and Adeles of the world – it’s a bit like that iceberg photo explaining deep web, where there is so much going on beneath the surface that the general public have absolutely no idea about, which is both glorious and heartbreaking in equal measure. Glorious because you discover that there is so much more talent in the world than radio, TV and record company executives would have you believe and heartbreaking because you know that most of them are fighting a losing battle. Nevertheless, there is hope, as many of these bands, most of whom are doing things on their own terms (or are even D.I.Y), are establishing fan bases way beyond the level of the thousand faithful and are gaining enough leverage to bother alternative chart lists and secure spots on festival bills. The quality of their music is surprisingly high and in some cases truly innovative. Anyway, having previously written about British rock bands that could use a break at the truly hard end of the music scene, I’ve now decided to put fingers to keyboard in regard to a bunch of upcoming bands that have released quality music over recent months and people really ought to know about.

Making Monsters
The Northern Irish alternative rockers have just closed the cycle of their superb EP, ‘Bad Blood’, by playing the BBC Introducing stage at T in the Park, prior to shutting themselves away to write their full length debut. In Emma Gallagher the Derry four piece boast one of the most talented vocalists around and with their emotionally charged, well constructed songs they managed to deliver a set of musically versatile hard hitters packed with bad ass riffs and winning hooks. They’ve got the talent, they’ve got the songs and they’ve got the style – watch them go places. http://www.makingmonsters.co.uk/

When you think of punk pop, you could be forgiven for thinking purely in bands from California, yet there is a bunch of rockers from Eastbourne putting a very English twist and injecting some life into an otherwise tired genre. With hard thrashing tracks like the excellent ‘Deadweight’ and the brilliantly worked ‘RIP in Peace’ there’s plenty to like about this band, whose talent, energy and hard work should see them making waves. https://roamuk.bandcamp.com/

There is a distinctly commercial edge to the alternative (dark) pop rock of this four piece from London. Margarita has a fine voice to supply the hooks and they are also blessed with quality musicianship; guitarist Dan consistantly delivering the goods. Debut album, ‘The Parts We Save’, offers up plenty of ear candy, as it is blessed with many a tight melodic rocker; ‘Nothing New’ being prime example of one of their many killer tunes. http://www.heelband.com/

The band formerly known as Baby Godzilla have already built up a formidable reputation for their stunningly chaotic live performances and on their debut album ‘Instructions’, they have managed to translate that wild abandon into a quite sublime record. They are seriously pushing creative boundaries with this gut wrenching collection of hard riffs and pure destructive energy – it sounds so refreshingly free it’s hard not to be infected by the raucousness of it all. Tracks like the punky ‘The Great Hardcore Swindle’ and the epic 15 minutes of ‘See The Old Lady…’ barely scratch the surface of what this band are all about. Go see them live, they have some festival dates coming up, including Reading and Leeds, before embarking on a co-headlining tour with the excellent Black Peaks. http://m.ents24.com/uk/tour-dates/heck-1

Speaking of whom…
Black Peaks
What a monumental sound this band has. Their debut album, ‘Statues’, also dropped earlier this year and it features a heady mix of naked aggression and progressive post hardcore melodies that pulsates with a controlled release of raw power that is nothing short of stunning. This band will be massive. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/statues/id1052921521?app=itunes

It’s been about a month since ‘Beneath the Spinning Lights’ dropped and its brand of smoothly crafted melodic alternative rock keeps winning new fans. Vocalist Will Alford is gifted with a fine voice and the band´s mature song writing approach provides the perfect vehicle. Tracks like ‘Rise’, with its massive hooks and soaring guitars, show precisely what they can do, – this is a band with enormous potential. http://witterquick.tmstor.es/

These four girls from Oxford certainly know how to deliver straight ahead hard edged grunge pop with massive choruses and killer hooks. Their exciting debut, ‘Invisible Monsters’, packs punch after punch of ear fodder on eleven slickly delivered songs of substance. Tracks like ‘Glitch’ and ‘Provoke Me’ are quite simply banging tunes and showcase just what this band is capable of – great vocals, quality musicianship and top songwriting – check them out.http://evarose.bigcartel.com/

Earlier this year Essex hardcore brawlers Giants finally released their long awaited debut, ‘Break the Cycle, which neatly showcases their brand of 21st century angst ridden punk. They’ve managed to put a modern twist on old school vibes and come up with a fresh and vibrant record with some excellently crafted tunes like the excellent hard edged ‘I’ve Been Low’ and ‘I’m Not Around’. Exciting, intense and with plenty to say. https://giants.bandcamp.com/

5 Slices of Killer Filler

Once upon a time the album format ruled the music business, particularly in the seventies and then again with the CD boom of the late eighties early nineties. However, with the changing landscape of the digital age, singles or individual downloads, legal or otherwise, were the preferred method of consumption for the internet generation. In a somewhat surprising twist it appears that vinyl is making a comeback, and also with the save to device features of streaming platforms being at their most efficient when downloading the whole album, the good old long player format is once again at the fore with all its pros and cons.

The case in favour is basically one of context, artists don’t decide running orders lightly – ever make a playlist? – this shit is important and the combination of songs can make or break a track. For instance, Blur‘s ‘Song 2’ only works as track 2, preferably right after ‘Beetlebum’. I mean can you imagine listening to GnR’s Appetite for Destruction and ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ not being followed by ‘It’s So Easy’? Also, the fact that each track is normally intended as part of the ebb and flow of the album’s mood makes each and every song important – at least in the eyes of the artist.

Which brings us to the downside – filler. Unfortunately, not every track on every album can be a classic and sometimes artists stamp their feet and hang on to tracks they have a real personal thing for, but just don’t always strike a chord with the listener. So stuff gets included that maybe would be better left on the studio floor and we start reaching for the skip button, something more complicated for vinyl junkies, but easy as pie for streamers and CD & Mp3 listeners. How many twelve track albums have you heard that would be all killer if they were cut to nine or ten? Then there’s the one hit wonders who build albums around that one awesome track and just don’t have the songs to merit a full LP. You ever buy an album for that one song?

Whatever the case may be, every now and again the lack of patience that has us reaching for fast forward, or the “I love that one killer track” mentality, or even the greatest hits approach, means that certain less well known tracks don’t necessarily get their dues. Sometimes the filler can be killer, check out these low fliers….

Oasis’ debut album, ‘Definitely Maybe is a certified classic and has a lot of very strong songs. ‘Live Forever’, ‘Supersonic’, Cigarettes and Alcohol’ and ‘Slide Away’ all have an enduring popularity, but one song that is often overlooked and was never given enough runs on stage was the mighty ‘Columbia’. Ok, it’s not exactly pushing any boundaries lyrically speaking but it’s got hooks and is just so damn loud. The guitar sound is gigantic and it builds and builds, layer upon layer, lick upon lick as the hypnotic rhythm rolls along in mesmerising fashion; it is surely one of their most unique songs – mad for it.

1991’s ‘Screamadelica’ is a classic album of indie acid house that came about after Andrew Weatherall had deftly deconstructed Primal Scream‘s ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’ into the dance floor hand waver and top twenty hit ‘Loaded’. The album is overflowing with dance beats, chill out music and house piano lines that neatly capture the pervading drug culture on (and off) the UK’s dance floors. The album is famous for the aforementioned ‘Loaded’, the uplifting gospel of ‘Movin’ On Up’, the ultra chill of ‘Higher Than The Sun’ (and its dub symphony on side four), floor filler ‘Don’t Fight It Feel It’ and the monumental ‘Come Together’. But hang on a minute, what’s that tucked away half way through side three of the vinyl? A ballad? Yep, and it’s one of the Scream’s most underrated songs. ‘Damaged’ owes a lot stylistically to ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’, the song which prompted the whole thing, and is a piano based acoustic strum of summer love featuring sublime guitar work from Robert ‘Throb’ Young, who also did the vocals on ‘Slip Inside this House’, literally impersonating Bobby Gillespie, who was too wasted to sing. ‘Damaged’ stands up as a quite beautiful song, very much in the vein of their regular indie rock style, and is deserving of way more recognition than it gets.

Buried on side seven of the ridiculously overblown ‘Use Your Illusions’, ‘Locomotive’ is one of the most criminally overlooked Guns n Roses songs. The song ebbs and flows through Axl’s story telling and is jam packed with time changes as they drop in all kinds of twists and turns; musically speaking it’s a superbly arranged track, with the piano break in the finale accompanied by understated soloing to provide a classy finish.

‘Hatful of Hollow’ (‘Louder Than Bombs’ in the U.S.A, albeit with a slightly different track listing) is a compilation album of tracks The Smiths recorded for sessions at the BBC, besides a couple of singles. While not exactly a greatest hits album it does feature slightly altered versions of a number of their most famous tracks like ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’, ‘Hand in Glove’ and ‘This Charming Man’, but wait, what’s that little gem nestling at mid-album? It’s a song that was only ever recorded for a Peel session in September of 1983 – This Night Has Opened My Eyes’. I’m no Smiths aficionado, but this track has everything that made them great; laid back guitar melody, disturbing lyrics and a subtly twisted pop aesthetic, only it finds Morrissey delivering a beautifully understated vocal while Johnny Marr‘s guitar lines meander along atmospherically; sublime.

Elbow‘s universally acclaimed, million selling, Mercury Music Prize winning album ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ is one of the most important records of the last ten years and is filled with many a beautiful moment. With Guy Garvey‘s thoughtful lyrics and the band’s intricately woven musical tapestry it’s a record that is nothing short of superb. The stand out tracks like the massive Grounds for Divorce, ‘The Bones of You’ and ‘One Day Like This’ in all its glory tend to steal all the thunder, yet it’s the rich textures and the subtle details that make this such a fine album and one of the less obvious tracks that repeated listens reveal to be quite stunning is ‘Weather To Fly’. Featuring one of Garvey´s most measured yet brilliant vocals, a delicate piano melody and gorgeous lilting orchestration that takes on a whole new dimension on the Abbey Road version with the BBC Concert Orchestra, it is a song of restrained beauty that is sorely underrated.

Six Second Albums That Actually Nailed It

Ah yes, the difficult second album – there’s so much that can go wrong and it so frequently does, more often than not ending up in the shadow of the classic debut and the all important third album. The list of second albums that fall somewhere between the disappointing and the disastrous is immense. Bristol triphoppers Massive Attack are prime example of a band that falls into the former category, 1993’s ‘Protection’, despite being a nice enough album with some quality tracks, is positively lukewarm in comparison to their monumental debut ‘Blue Lines’. Florence and the Machine‘s ‘Ceremonials’ is another culprit; Iron Maiden get beyond the artwork on ‘Killers’, but it’s hardly a tour de force; ‘Van Halen II’ is but a shadow of the first album and despite positive criticism The Strokes sophomore effort, ‘Room on Fire’, was never going to live up to ‘Is This It’. As for categorical failure of a follow-up, look no further than Stone Roses’ ‘The Second Coming’ – can it get any worse than this?
Yes – Kula Shaker, ‘Peasants, Pigs and Astronauts’ – nailed that band’s coffin closed.

Actually, there’s a whole bunch of other records that were never really what you’d bought into on the debut, the list is endless; Portishead, Finlay Quaye, Terence Trent Darby, Duffy, Elastica and so on and so forth, and as we can see, failing to deliver the goods is irrespective of genre, although it has become a far more common phenomena in the days demanding instant success. It seems that the second album basically runs into trouble because of pressure resulting from the first record. Bands get caught up in the touring and the success and are too busy “making it” to get the next record written. Then there’s the inevitable come down when they find themselves in the studio under pressures of time and money to deliver a new product, but this time, barring a few leftover tracks not quite good enough for album number one, they’re starting from scratch, having spent the last few years playing to death that first batch of songs they so lovingly created. Bands get so focused on establishing themselves with the first album that they don’t have time to really think about there being a next one, let alone what to put on it. They almost need to fuck up the second album a bit to take the pressure off and get the hunger back for album number three – if there is one!

However, despite the all too common let down of a band’s second record, there are also plenty of killers. Once upon a time, artists were given the chance to develop; their record labels actually helped them progress. Bands were often signed to seven album deals, so labels were in it for the long haul – they wanted to see their artists improve and sell progressively more records. Also, it wasn’t unusual to sign a band based on potential rather than one that already had its bangers primed and ready. Blur is a great example of a band that had potential, but had yet to find its songwriting chops on debut album ‘Leisure’, it’s their second album ‘Modern Life is Rubbish’ where things start coming together. Then there’s the thrash metal scene; in the beginning it was all a bit rough and ready, but by their second albums Metallica, Megadeth and the like were coming on in leaps and bounds. So, here’s a bunch of second albums that not only progressed but blew away their predecessors and quite rightly became classics.

The ultimate second album is surely Nirvana‘s ‘Nevermind’, possibly the most game changing record in history. It’s predecessor, ‘Bleach’, had hinted at the band’s potential, but was miles short of what would follow. Cobain had long harboured the desire to harness the aggressive energy of punk and marry it to more accessible melodies and the final pieces of the puzzle finally fell into place whilst writing the songs for Nevermind. Kurt borrowed the Pixies loud – quiet – loud template and suddenly not only his fury, but also his talent had a vehicle; the rest, as they say, is history.

Radiohead‘s debut album, ‘Pablo Honey’ is a fairly unremarkable affair, save for the ubiquitous ‘Creep’, which the band grew to hate; its follow up, The Bends, however, is one of the finest albums of alternative rock ever to see the light of day. The entire album is all killer, ‘High and Dry’, ‘Fake Plastic Trees, ‘Just’, ‘Street Spirit’, I mean, it’s quality track after quality track that propelled the band towards the big time. They may have taken a more arty direction after the fairly conventional songwriting on display, but without The Bends and the bold statement that is ‘OK Computer’, Thom Yorke and co never would’ve gained the leverage to follow their chosen path.

If you go back and listen to the first Lenny Kravitz album, ‘Let Love Rule, you’ll here a soulful young man blending a kinda laid back hippy-like innocence into some funky folky rock n roll toons, and it’s a highly enjoyable record. The world’s one time highest paid session musician was breaking in slowly though, as on his second effort, ‘Mama Said’, he came back pimped up, jazzed up and funked up and knocked it out of the park. Fields of Joy is a ‘Stairway’ for the 90s, ‘Always on the Run with Slash is a sublime rocker; there’s quality rock pop a plenty, funky reverb on ‘Stop Draggin’ Around’; soul fueled crooning on ‘All I Ever Wanted’ and the whole album is peppered with bass groove and jazzy licks. Where did it all go wrong?

Led Zeppelin II. It’s Led Zeppelin, only more so – every song a winner. Nuff said really.

Björk shook off the Sugacubes on ‘Debut’, but it was on ‘Post’ that it all came together. This urban soundtrack remains as one of her finest albums and is jam packed with hard edged indie pop in the Icelander’s own inimitable style; from the sinister opening to ‘Army of Me’ you just know it’s going to be a winner. There’s the manic Hyperballad, the irrepressible ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’, ‘Isobel’, ‘The Modern Things’, ‘Enjoy’ and so on and etc not a dull moment to be found.

I will readily admit to not being the biggest Foo Fighters fan in the world, but you gotta love Dave Grohl for just being such a nice bloke, and on his/their second album, ‘The Colour and The Shape’ he delivered the goods. Besides the killer singles ‘Monkey Wrench’, ‘My Hero’ and ‘Everlong’, which are without doubt some of the most iconic alternative rock songs of the nineties, the album is imbued with a cathartic quality that runs surprisingly deep. Ok, so there’s plenty of upbeat snippets where Dave and co sound like their having a great time, but it’s the raw emotion on the ballads that really picks the scab on Dave’s then recent divorce. Besides, the emotional moving on, this record really exorcised the whole Nirvana thing and paved the way for Foo Fighters to be respected in its own right – respect. Check out this live version of ‘Hey Johnny Park’, Dave looks so young and it’s got such raw emotion.

Nine Cover Versions That Are Cool As

The good old cover version, you gotta love it. Some are so ill advised that they’re cringeworthy – All Saints ruination of ‘Under The Bridge’ by the Chilis immediately springing to mind – but every now and again the cover becomes more famous or respected than the original. I mean, can Bob Dylan really say ‘Knockin on Heaven’s Door’ or ‘All Along The Watchtower’ are still his songs? One strange thing about covers is that when a pop band does a rock/alternative tune, a few notable exceptions aside, it’s more often a miss than a hit, whereas the opposite tends to be true; it’s probably a credibility thing I guess. Anyway, a good cover version involves paying tribute to the original while putting just enough of a twist on it to make it your own. There have been some surprisingly awesome (unlikely) cover versions over the years and here are a handful I particularly like. Check em out.

Jane’s Addiction – Sympathy
‘Sympathy for the Devil’ is such a quintessential Stones song that it borders on the untouchable, but on their live self-titled debut album Perry Farrell and Co. pretty much nail it. Their version of Velvet Underground‘s ‘Rock n Roll flows neatly into ‘Sympathy’, which fits Farrell’s voice perfectly, his unusual vocal style giving the track an intensity way beyond the woo-hoos. Throw in the understated guitar rhythms, Dave Navarro‘s scorching soloing and the rich percussion sound of bongos and tambourines that build to the final meltdown and we have a superb version of a classic on our hands. They actually did a second version a few years ago, and although it’s beautifully arranged and is a damn cool version of the song, it lacks the passion and intensity of their original cover.

Chris Cornell – I Will Always Love You
Watch this and try to not get goose bumps.

Florence & the Machine with Dizzee Rascal – You Got The Dirtee Love
There’s only one thing better than a good cover and that’s two good covers (Ok, one and a half) in a mash up! ‘You Got The Love’ has long been Florence’s own, the ‘Candi Staton’ original barely a memory, and Dizzee’s reworking/sampling of The Adventures of Stevie V classic ‘Dirty Cash (Money Talks)’ worthy of respect, but when the two came together for this unlikely collaboration, the Brit Awards were ecstatic and a partnership formed. A few other live performances followed its release as a single, which entered the UK charts at number 2, this version from Glastonbury being nothing short of amazing. Check it out.

Mary J Blige – One
The vocal performance on Mary’s own version, not the one with U2, is so sick that she totally wipes the floor with the original. It’s got so much power and emotion that Bono sounds bland by comparison (maybe because he is).

Stereophonics – Nothing Compares 2 U
The Prince penned heart breaker originally made famous by Sinead O’Conner got dusted off and reworked by the Stereophonics for an NME/Warchild compilation back in 2002. It stays true to the original, but Kelly Jones raspy voice adds an emotional edge to this already classic break up song. Pass the tissues.

Cake – I Will Survive
This version of the Gloria Gaynor banger has got it all; funny yet stylish with its own louche cool, pure genius.

Leona Lewis – Run
Radio One’s Live Lounge has thrown up all kinds of killer performances over the years and one of the most notable is Leona Lewis’ version of Run by Snow Patrol. Leona succeeds in taking it to a whole new level. Damn that girl can sing.

Disturbed – The Sound of Silence
Oh. My. God.
How powerfully epic can you get?

Homeless Mustard – Creep
Left me speechless.

30 Years of The Mission

MissionThis year, British Goth rockers The Mission are set to celebrate 30 turbulent years in the industry by doing precisely what they do best – touring extensively and reliving former and more recent successes.

Once upon a time the Mish ruled; achieving an enviable level of commercial success with multiple top 40 singles and top ten albums, as well as being one of only a handful of bands to have headlined the Reading festival on more than one occasion. Their first headline slot is testament to the quality of their early releases as it came a little over a year after Wayne Hussey and Craig Adams had said goodbye to the Sisters of Mercy to form first The Sisterhood and subsequently The Mission.

Their debut album, ‘Gods Own Medicine’, and the amalgamation of their early EPs, The First Chapter, had struck a chord and catapulted the band to early success; tracks like ‘Wasteland’, ‘Garden of Delight’ and cover versions of ‘Like a Hurricane’ and ‘Dancing Barefoot’ were indicative of their growing reputation and a lot of hard work on the road, supporting the likes of The Cult, The Psychedelic Furs and a still credible U2, as well as on their own, soon expanded their hard core of fervent fans – ‘The Eskimos’.

The band’s penchant for the theatrical, Hussey’s resonant baritone and Simon Hinkler‘s intricate guitar work, meant that the Celtic rhythms and rich melodies to their particular brand of atmospherically dark pop could do no wrong. In the period from early 86 to the end of 1990, successive releases saw the band grow in stature and confidence, the John Paul Jones produced ‘Children’ peaking at number 2 in the UK, while the first single from ‘Carved in Sand’, ‘Butterfly on a Wheel’, just missed out on the top ten. As Wayne says:

“Our record label were making us a ‘worldwide priority'” … “We were a band on the cusp of being very successful internationally. It was something that we collectively really wanted at that time.”

However, behind the scenes the excesses of the rock ‘n roll lifestyle were beginning to take their toll and the wheels were starting to come off. Internal conflicts and record company input meant that ‘Carved in Sand’ never did quite as well as it deserved, Wayne having been forced to compromise the track listing; in the words of the man himself:

“I have to say that the only true professional regret I have to this day is that I allowed the final track listing for ‘Carved in Sand’ to be chosen by committee rather than the usual practice of yours truly stamping my feet until I got my own way. I think at this point in time we the band and, more regretfully so, myself were more than willing to allow other people to make important decisions for us. We relinquished control and responsibility and unfortunately I think ‘Carved In Sand’, as an album, suffered as a result.”

The subsequent tour was also wrought with difficulties ranging from illness and staggering levels of debauchery to conflict and walk outs, with Hinkler taking his leave mid-tour.

Wayne:“With the release of ‘Carved in Sand’ (which, almost ironically, actually went on to become our biggest selling album) we were set up to go and conquer the world but instead within the space of a few short months in early 1990 after its release we internally combusted and our trajectory was set downward for the first time since our beginning in late 1985. We were never to recover.”

Nevertheless, that five year period to the end of 1990 had produced five albums worth of genre defining material and makes for an impressive achievement. Such prolific production documents the sound of a band that had hit a rich vein and were peaking in more ways than one. Their early catalogue of releases has certainly stood the test of time and is packed with classic tracks that comprise a fine record of Hussey and co’s songwriting talent.

Although the following record ‘Masque’ had its moments and there was the occasional hidden gem in subsequent albums, The Mission’s material post 1991 has offered little to compare to their peak period. The notable exception being 2013’s ‘The Brightest Light’, which saw Hussey reunite with Hinkler and fellow founder, bassist Craig Adams. This was the sound of a band reformed and reinvigorated and although it owes more to hard rock than Goth, it sounds fresh and honest. Hussey’s voice is a little more gravelly with age but no less powerful, and it sounds as if Hinkler had been given the chance to throw off the shackles a little to let rip on the guitar.

The intervening years had also seen a whole batch of re-issues, compilations and live albums, as well as (far too many to mention here) line-up changes, hiatuses and solo projects. Yet every time they hit the road there was always a faithful army helping to recapture the essence that makes the Mission such an enduring prospect; recent shows on the Blood Brothers tour with Fields of the Nephilim proving a resounding success. So this year’s anniversary tour is sure to be greeted with the adulation it will no doubt deserve, can’t help but wonder if there’s another album in the pipeline…..

In the meantime here’s my Mission top 10, which might raise the odd eyebrow amongst the faithful.

10. Amelia
Probably the bravest song Wayne has ever written, yet it is something he is rightly proud of, given the difficult subject matter of child abuse. Lyrically, it is cleverly constructed and the urgency to the instrumentation compliments it perfectly.

9. Severina
It’s theatrical, it’s magical, it’s a superb slice of Goth rock fantasia – “She’s dancing by the light of the moon”

8. Beyond The Pale
‘Children’ saw The Mission take a more measured approach with a strong nod in the direction of the grandiose; as such Beyond the Pale perfectly captures where they were at the time. There’s plenty of substance to this epic song, yet it’s a great example of their pop tropes, boasting a series of killer hooks in the chorus.

7. Swan Song
Of the tracks on ‘Brightest Light’ this is the most Goth influenced and stands tall alongside the early material. There’s some superbly atmospheric guitar work from the underrated Hinkler that builds to a climax on a fine solo, while Wayne delivers the killer hook and intense finale in fine style.

6. ‘Sacrilege’
There’s a wonderful dark energy here as the arrangement ebbs and flows with subtle time changes and chord progressions. It’s a superbly constructed song and is a fine example of Goth rock at its intriguing best.

5. Bird of Paradise
If Wayne had got his way this epic piano ballad would’ve been the closing track to Carved in Sand and a sublime way to close the album. Darkly atmospheric with a beautiful melody and beautiful lyrics, quality.

4. Wasteland
The opening track on their debut album was a killer cut to kick off with and indicative of the leverage that had secured a seven album record deal. One of their most enduring songs; there’s the evocative opening riff, the barren landscape of the verses and the battle cry chorus, all easily translating to the biggest stages; great start to a great album.

3. Like a Hurricane
If you’re gonna cover Neil Young you gotta do it right and here The Mission do not disappoint. There is sufficient tribute to the original, yet they succeed in making it their own. IMHO this is Hussey’s finest vocal performance at the helm of The Mission, where Young’s original is almost plaintive, live versions showcase Wayne’s voice as powerful, rousing and nothing short of brilliant.

2. Butterfly on A Wheel
The Mission always had a gift for melody and this beautifully atmospheric cut is one of their finest moments. It is a wonderfully evocative song featuring genuinely spine tingling moments; the time change after the second chorus and the ever building intensity sublime to say the least.

1. Deliverance
For me, this is the perfect Mission track, including every weapon in the band’s extensive armoury – from the atmospheric opening, through the driving bass, to the hook riddled chorus and hard rocking guitar parts – yet still shrouded in the Goth feel – I can never play this song loud enough.

For tour dates etc check out the official site:http://www.themissionuk.com/wp/