Prophets of Rage – Live in Rio de Janeiro Review

It’s getting on for a year since Prophets of Rage were first revealed to the world after months of rehearsals behind closed doors, but now this super protest group that came out swinging against Donald Trump’s election campaign has become a global entity as they take their powerful set to the four corners. Last week it was Brazil, and on Friday night (May 12th) Tom Morello, Tim Comerford and Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine hit the stage at Vivo Rio with vocalists B-Real (Cypress Hill) and Chuck D (Public Enemy), with DJ Lord, also of Public Enemy, spinning the wheels of steel.

Despite playing a set liberally spiced with RATM classics, this is no nostalgia gig, the dynamic of not one, but two hip hop greats on vocals giving the project an exciting edge. Throw in a handful of PE numbers, a few snatches of CH, some surprising covers and even some original material (there’s an album in the can due for a September release) and we have an exciting night on our hands.

An enthusiastic set from Rise Against was soon followed by an extended introduction from DJ Lord, featuring a mash up of classics from the worlds of rock, metal and hip-hop, with some badass mixing of ‘Enter Sandman’ and ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ to set the mood.

The siren rings out to signal the opening track, signature tune ‘Prophets of Rage’, and it’s obvious from the word go that this is one well drilled outfit. Chuck D, dressed all in black, and B-Real, doing his best Arab sheik impression, take centre stage and split the vocal duties, while the Rage boys add a whole new level of power to the Public Enemy classic.

The crowd needs little encouragement and is already bouncing around enthusiastically from the word go. Three RATM tracks follow in quick succession, with ‘Testify’, ‘Take The Power Back’ and ‘Guerrilla Radio’, increasing the intensity, before Cypress Hill’s ‘How I Could Just Kill a Man’. B-Real makes for a commanding presence stage front, handling a little more of the lead work (maybe his voice is better suited to the Rage material?), with Chuck seemingly happy to bounce off the rocking Cypress Hill frontman, swinging his microphone baseball style and taking the lion’s share on his own material.

We get two more Rage tracks to push the temperature even higher with the intense ‘Bombtrack’ and ‘People of the Sun’, before something of a hip-hop interlude. First up is the Enemy classic ‘Fight the Power’, the passing years have given Chuck’s voice more gravity but have done nothing to diminish his flow and the rock arrangement adds an interesting angle, the song proving a perfect fit for Tom Morello‘s idiosyncratic style.

Chuck and B-Real then make their way down to the barriers for an extended rap medley of ‘Hand on the Pump / Can’t Truss It / Insane in the Brain / Bring the Noise / I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That / Welcome to the Terrordome and Jump Around’. To be honest, the sound is pretty rough at this point, but the two MCs are giving it their all and are rocking the crowd up close. ‘Jump Around’ is an undeniable crowd pleaser and after working its magic, one of the greatest riffs in history kicks in and ‘Sleep Now in the Fire’ opens the second half of the show, which can only be described as insane.

Pits open up all over the venue as ‘Bullet in the Head’ elicits an almost primal reaction from the energetic crowd. ‘The Party’s Over’ and ‘Know Your Enemy’ maintain the intensity as what started out as well-drilled slips into top gear and becomes high-octane.

There is something so right about the chemistry in this band that even the new songs sound like instant classics; upcoming single ‘Unfuck The World’ being greeted with the same enthusiasm as the rest of the set. The White Stipes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’ is then a surprising addition, before ‘Bulls on Parade’ once more whips the crowd into a frenzy.

Tim McIlrath from Rise Against takes to the stage for the now traditional ‘Kick Out the Jams’ cover and then there’s only one song left. The inevitable closing track
Killing in the Name’
is quite simply one of the greatest protest songs ever and cannot fail. Tonight is no different. The crowd going absolutely mental with circular mosh pits filled with bodies crashing off each other and the floor is absolute ecstatic chaos.

There are no false pretenses here though, we aren’t getting an encore – ‘Killing in The Name’ is the end, and that’s it; what more could you possibly want?

All told, it’s a pretty damn superb performance; the playing is highly professional with impeccable rhythms and Morello never dropping a note; the two MCs work the stage with such a cool dynamic it is as if they’ve been performing together for years and DJ Lord slips in and out seamlessly, even managing a battle with Morello. There is undeniable chemistry and the exchange of energy between band and audience is quite contagious, provoking the kind of scenes not seen since smart phones became the norm. Then there’s the songs – every single thing stands up – whether it’s the Rage classics, the PE classics, the Cypress Hill classics or the new material – it all works and they nail it every time.

Watch out Europe.

Patrons – As Above, So Below Review

The rough and ready, post hardcore(ish) stylings of heavy rocking Plymouth quartet Patrons have more than a certain charm; their debut album making for pretty exciting fare. With well constructed songs, a variety of quality riffs and absolutely superb vocals, ‘As Above, So Below’ is further proof that the British rock scene is alive and well.

‘First of the Slow Burners’ gets off to a measured start, being aptly named as it ticks along a little mechanically, before a passionate chorus drops a cool hook to draw you in, the rough edges to Danny Brooks vocal showing a rawness that is immediately likeable. ‘Shapes in Nature’ works similarly well, with a quirky melody and a killer hard rocking chorus, which builds to a passionate heavy finale; tune.

Most of the tracks have a pretty personal feel, musing on life and relationships to great effect, whether it’s the mid paced rocker ‘Everything Matters’, or the excellent ‘The Art of Conversation’, which rolls along atmospherically until some big riffs and a passionate chorus kick it into epic rock shape.

Although they are billed as post hardcore there is plenty of variety on display, we get an air of Panic at the Disco to Eighty Four’ before they rock it up on what is another well worked tune, they then venture into seriously aggressive territory on the gutsy ‘War and Pieces’. But then there are tracks like ‘Listen’, with its sparse intro of guitar, vocal and eighties atmosphere, which slowly builds to a big chorus and a passionate finale dripping in emotion.

Without a trace of filler in sight, as debut albums go this is a pretty damn impressive record. Whether it’s on the quirky guitar lines and frantic banging chorus of ‘Army of One’, energetic rocker ‘Last of the Quick Think’ or the alt rock come down ballad ‘Dawn’, which brings things to a spectacular close, they certainly know their way around a tune.

All in all, ‘As Above, So Below’ is a mighty fine debut album that ticks all the power, energy and emotion boxes. It stands up to repeated plays and to put it in simple terms, is all killer, no filler. Good work fellas.

9/10

‘As Above, So Below’ is out as of 31st March on Rose Coloured Records. Check it out here http://www.wearepatrons.com/

Halestorm – ReAniMate 3.0 Covers EP Review

Halestorm recently dropped ReAniMate 3.0, the third in their series of covers EPs, which they use to fill stop gaps between albums, and to put it bluntly, it’s pretty damn fine. What you get is an eclectic mix of six covers from the various sub genres of rock and pop, all of which are a nice fit for Lzzy Hale‘s raspy rocker voice.

It all kicks off with live favourite ‘Still of the Night’, which stays true to the original, moody mid section, blistering solo and all. It’s very close to their own style, but they breathe some freshness into the Whitesnake classic.

Much more surprising is the hard rock twist they put on ‘Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover’, the nineties pop classic from one hit wonder Sophie B. Hawkins. Sure, it has a killer hook to the chorus and is catchy as hell anyway, but some laid back radio friendly riffing turns it into a feel good hit for the summer, giving the listener that blaring from the car stereo cruising on LA freeways feel. Joan Jett‘s ‘I Hate Myself for Loving You’ is up next and is everything you might expect; straight forward banging hard rock tune.

It’s the second half of the EP where they really stretch themselves though, nowhere more so than on Twenty One Pilots’ ‘Heathens’. On first listen, it’s not an obvious winner, especially after the radio-friendly rockiness of the first three tracks, but repeated plays reveal it to be truly excellent. Vocally, Lzzy demonstrates surprising versatility as she wraps her chords around the tongue twisting verses, while musically they retain the darkness of the original, but succeed in giving it a harder rockier edge; great track.

Soundgarden‘s ‘Fell on Black Days’ follows in a similarly dark vibe and, like the original, it’s good, but nothing spectacular. Covering Metallica is always a bold move, especially on a raw thrash track like ‘Ride the Lightning’, but they pull it off. Sure, the guitar sound is a little less meatier and as raspy as Lzzy’s voice is, it’s difficult for her to emulate the same naked aggression of the original. Even so, as the song progresses it thrashes along as fast as the original and the solo totally nails it and besides, this is Halestorm‘s version not a copy, so it has to be respected.

It’s testament to the band’s talent and versatility that they can shift easily from rock to pop to grunge to thrash so easily, whilst paying sufficient homage to the original without losing their own identity/style. A lot of upcoming bands could learn from EPs like this; for me it’s a win win situation, you keep your fan base involved between big releases and tours, maybe attract some new fans, whilst also testing your own talents on a variety of styles. Metallica is another band that have long enjoyed a cover, often using them as a way of blowing away the cobwebs in the studio.

So, all in all, a great little release and well worth a listen – fair play Halestorm. Now, about the new album…..

9/10

Metallica – Hardwired… to Self-Destruct Album Review

20160818_193928_7549_939483Metallica are like The Clash of thrash metal, pioneering a genre that they easily outgrew. The thing about them though, is that they have been under pressure to go back to that genre ever since the ‘Black Album’, and while ‘Death Magnetic’ largely placated the naysayers that yes, they could still thrash, the question of their relevance remained open. That has firmly been put to bed by the release of ‘Hardwired…to Self-Destruct’; I mean, how often is a new album an event these days? And who drops a video for every single track on the record the night before its release? This is the very pioneering spirit that established Metallica as the biggest metal band in history and what they are offering on their first album in eight years – ‘Lulu’ doesn’t count people – for the most part does not disappoint, yet is also quite typically flawed.

From the word go, it’s clear there’s still life in the old dogs yet; the fast and furious ‘Hardwired’ being a no-holds barred flier, while the Maidenesque ‘Atlas, Rise’ is a massive tune to follow. Both tunes are pretty much instant classics, yet it’s ‘Moth Into Flame’ that steals the show of the three singles. It is quintessential Metallica – radio friendly, yet defiantly muscular – every bit as good as ‘Enter Sandman’.

The rest of the first disc of the double album is equally high level. ‘Now That We’re Dead’ is a slick take on their early eighties sound, but is fresh and rocks along nicely at mid-tempo; its hook sure to stand the test of time. Then there’s the slow boiling groove of ‘Dream No More’ which eats into the brain and will no doubt become a live favourite, especially with Hammett’s bad ass solo.

‘Halo on Fire’ also boasts an eighties feel to the intro but it gives way to that atmospheric groove a la ‘Until it Sleeps and for a while is reminiscent of Load era, only with more bite. It takes a heavier turn with a series of shifts in tempo and despite being a bit piecemeal, the arrangement really works – with James’ most versatile vocal to boot, it makes for a killer track.

‘Confusion’ opens the second disc in competent enough fashion, although there’s something not quite right about it. Metallica work by putting riffs together like a jigsaw, but sometimes, like here, the pieces don’t fit perfectly – it’s not exactly bad, just maybe a bit, er, confused.

The rest of disc 2 is enjoyable enough, but lacks the quality of the first half. ‘Here Comes Revenge’ is interesting musically speaking, a fine performance from Ulrich underpinning the shifting textures, although it finds Hetfield uncharacteristically obvious on the lyrical front.

The mid-tempo ‘ManUnkind’ and the brooding ‘Am I Savage?’ are both fairly straightforward slices of Metallica at their most functional and don’t really nail it, despite more fine soloing from Hammett. ‘Murder One’ meanwhile is just plain dull, its lumbering metal by numbers makes for a slightly disappointing tribute to Lemmy – the yee ha metal madness of closing track ‘Spit the Bone’, the saving grace of disc two, far more in keeping with the Motorhead front man’s metal footprint.

Despite the shortcomings of the second half of the record, ‘Hardwired…to Self-Destruct’ remains a mighty fine album of quality metal, but when you have set the bar as high as Metallica there are going to be moments when they fall short. Once again, their lack of capacity to self edit has made for an album with excess baggage. It is telling that their first three albums all weighed in under 55 minutes and contained very little in the way of filler, while since ‘Load’ every studio album has over seventy minutes of music, hmmm.

Even so, there are plenty of ticks on the plus side, the underlying influence of ‘Kill ’em All’ is most welcome, Kirk Hammett delivers some of the finest solos of his career and Ulrich has finally evolved into a drummer of versatile excellence. Some of the material on display is seriously high quality, easily standing up alongside their finest work, and could be seamlessly slipped into their live set.

8.5/10

Buy the damn thing here: https://metallica.com/store/featured

Guns n Roses – Live in Rio Review

wp_20161116_005-3So, a few months back I wrote a piece on the much lauded Guns n Roses “reunion”, saying what an awful idea it was. My argument was basically that it was a cynical money making venture and that Axl could not and would not cut it, as he has been largely shit for the last 20 years. I also suggested that the shows would be nowhere near as good as they were back in the day and that it was one more nostalgic nail in the coffin of modern rock.

However.

Then I saw the videos of the performances from the U.S and it was pretty damn obvious that Axl was actually cutting it. Maybe not like a hot knife through butter, but there were high notes and enthusiasm, and not just in GnR, but in AC/DC too. And with a broken foot.

Then, as the tour showed little sign of imploding and actually decided to roll on down to South America, what else could I do, but see for myself. wp_20161116_005-2

So the question is, did I eat my words?

Kinda.

After a functional set from the uninspired choice of opening act, Brazilian rockers Plebe Rude, and a surprisingly short interval, in which we got to see the really quite beautiful logo variations on the backdrop, the Looney Tunes theme blared out and it was showtime.

‘It’s So Easy’ kicked things off and we all went mental. Seriously. Once upon a time Guns n Roses was known as the most dangerous band in the world and for the first 15 minutes or so it was easy to see why. The crowd was like a raging sea as it bounced as one to the punk energy of the opener and the swagger of ‘Mr. Brownstone’, even ‘Chinese Democracy’ got people jumping before the teased intro to ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ eventually sent everyone ballistic. For a few moments Axl, Slash, Duff and Co rocked as hard as they ever did; sure they are a little slower and a little rounder, but they still know how to deliver a good old fashioned hard rock banger.

‘Double Talkin’ Jive’ immediately calmed things down a little and calm they stayed, for the underrated ‘Better’ and an absolutely epic performance of ‘Estranged’. Despite proving spectacular and one of the highlights of the night, this was the first of many rather indulgent mega ballads – we got them all, bar ‘Patience’.

‘Live and Let Die’ was predictably frantic, prior to the cool bass groove of the sorely underrated ‘Rocket Queen’; the already lengthy track gaining an extended midsection and sexy skeletons on the backdrop. There was another surprise in ‘Out Ta Get Me’ before the heroin chic of the tireless Duff McKagan pounded out the bass riff to ‘You Could Be Mine’ to get the crowd bouncing again. Although Axl was mostly excellent, reaching most of the high notes, it was here and more notably on ‘Coma’ that he struggled – the fast sections tripping him up a little. A mid set breather was due – cue Duff and his version of the Misfits‘Attitude’.

img-20161119-wa0002-2‘This I Love’ preceded the epics ‘Civil War’ and ‘Coma’ before the obligatory Slash solo of Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather). It was all great stuff and the top hatted one still shreds, but the dude has been playing the same damn thing since I was a kid – talk about playing it safe. Was it then necessary to do an instrumental duet with Richard Fortus on ‘Wish You Were Here’? Sure, it was awesome, the crowd sung it, people cried and Slash and Richard nailed it, but two solo slots?
Sandwiched in between were the unbeatable ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ and the surprisingly fun ‘Yesterdays’, which proved much more enjoyable in the live arena than on record. In a neat twist they then segued ‘Wish You Were Here’ into the piano outro from ‘Layla’ to get Axl on the piano.

Only one song could follow, and follow it did. On the one hand November Rain epitomizes everything that is pretentious and overblown about GnR and can so easily turn into an awful lumbering spectacle of over indulgence. Thankfully though, the front man seems to be in a good place right now, despite him and Slash virtually ignoring each other all night, and he crooned his way though with technique and urgency, delivering one of the best vocals of the night. For some reason most of the crowd seemed to have balloons to go with cell phones and it all made for a quite beautiful spectacle, even more so as the massive full moon emerged above the stadium right on cue – I guess these kind of shared moments are the whole point of such nostalgic outings. Fair play Axl.img-20161117-wa0007-2

Two hours in and the vocalist was visibly enjoying himself as he rolled back the years to dart around the stage to conduct the crowd in a sing off on ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’. By now it was utterly shameless enjoyment of timeless classics, and we were certainly getting our money’s worth.
We rocked again for set closer ‘Nightrain’, but it was back to the ballads in the encore of ‘Don’t Cry’ with more extended guitar work. The Who‘s ‘The Seeker’ offered an irresistibly big riff, but we were really only waiting for ‘Paradise City’ to rock to an explosive close. And it did not disappoint – mosh pits opened up, swathes of bodies bounced as one and it was genuinely wild abandon in the crush – it almost felt like 1990 again.

The crowd actually demanded another encore, but the band returned merely to take a bow, all hugs and smiles.
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So, all in all, I guess you have to take your hat off to Guns n Roses – they are still a mighty proposition and deliver a fine performance. They are seasoned pros and know how to work a stage and get a crowd going, despite the minimal interaction between band members and between band and crowd.
Are they still dangerous? Not really, but they do rock and they are a pretty tight unit; they put on a show but it’s not over produced and works well with less people on stage – no horns, no backing singers, a cool backdrop of images and minimal pyrotechnics keeps it lean.

Is Axl the vocalist he was 25 years ago? He’s a damn sight closer to it now than he has been in the last 15 years. His range is impressive and he works the mic, but the impression is that age has taken it’s toll a little and slowed up the delivery, there may be an element of tiredness too.

Are they just in it for the money? Surely that is a factor, but then again they do seem to be enjoying themselves, so I’ll reserve judgement. Also, they may be raking in the cash, but at two and a half hours long their set is pretty damn good value.

Is it all just shameless nostalgia? Sure, of course, but when you are this good and the material still cuts it, then why the hell not? Quite how long the night train can roll on without new product though is open to question, as is whether or not the relationships will endure. In the meantime though, they are well worth the trip down memory lane.

Revoada

Revoada é o projeto que reúne duas bandas finas da cena Niteroiense, Barcamundi e Gragoatá, cujas trajetórias vêm entrelaçando há tempo. As bandas se conheceram nos meados de 2015, dividindo palcos, emprestando apoio uma á outra, criando uma afinidade e amizade entre os nove integrantes que se realiza num grupo só no EP audiovisual ‘Revoada.

“Revoada, bando de pássaro ou o voo da ave que volta ao local de onde partira, remete ao início das duas bandas, cujas primeiras músicas lançadas foram O Trem e o Pássaro (Barcamundi) e Passarinho (Gragoatá). O nome do EP simboliza um ciclo de renovação natural, simboliza revisitar as origens com perspectiva para os próximos voos. Revoada é um fruto pelo parentesco, que aponta para o semeio de novas ideias.”

O EP conta com seis músicas, sendo cinco inéditas, gravadas e filmadas ao vivo no Espaço Multifoco, na Lapa, pela Selo AudioVisual Útero, cujo produção é estilosomente executada em mais um trabalho de alta qualidade. A gravação do som é impecável, deixando espaço suficiente para os múltiplos instrumentos, enquanto a fotografia está sempre em busca de uma perspectiva inovadora.

O EP começa com o clima intimo, mas animado de ‘Menina’ (Renato Côrtes) em que as duas bandas entrelaçam numa entidade só; as vozes de João Barreira e Rebeca Sauwen se complementando lindamente. O conjunto de influências e instrumentos ajuda cria um som suavemente mesclando mpb, folk e indie com um leve toque de animação.

A meu ver ‘Balão’ (João Barreira) é o destaque. Partindo de um melancólico violão, a musica se constrói em camadas ricas criando uma textura linda em que a emotiva performance vocal duela com o excelente trabalho dos guitarristas. A intensidade cresce nas costas de um slide sublimo de Leon Navarro, (esse cara toca tudo!) e chega à apoteose com a emoção viva na voz da Rebeca – arrepiante!

‘A Grama do Seu Jardim’, uma musica antiga da Barcamundi é gostosamente reinterpretada aqui, beneficiando de uns integrantes a mais e varias toques pequenos que combinam numa musica gloriosamente rica – bom trabalho.

‘Novembro’ do excelente Fanner Horta se beneficia de um clima mais relaxada em que os integrantes se complementam perfeitamente. É uma musica quase infantil com suas toques sutis de instrumentação, mas sucede em criar uma textura rica, especialmente quando os vozes se juntam.

‘Amor Concreto’ (João Barreira), com a bela contribuição vocal da Gabriela Autran, é basicamente uma musica da Barcamundi levando uma melodia e groove típica da banda,. A guitarra do João adiciona um vibe levemente roqueira, enquanto os floreios de flauta levam para free jazz numa mistura surpreendente.

Em contraponto, ‘Rio Abaixo’ (Fanner Horte e Esther Martins) é mais de Gragoatá; a balada levando um toque de blues no ritmo, enquanto a acordeão dar uns ares franceses para complementar a personalidade no vocal Piathesque da Rebeca.

As seis músicas reveladas aqui são um exemplo do que essas bandas são capazes, mostrando os talentos invejáveis de todos os integrantes. Com a filmagem impecável do Útero o EP consegue ser uma produção muito gratificante e é esperançoso ver que existe tanto talento atuando de uma forma tão competente, mesmo comprometidos pelas limitações financeiras do atual cena musical. Parabéns aos todos envolvidos.

Metallica – Atlas, Rise! Review

I think the most striking thing about ‘Atlas, Rise!’, the third track to drop from the new Metallica album, is the obvious Iron Maiden influence. It’s there in the straightforward riffing, the high flying guitar lines, extended mid-section and slightly over-long running time. As such, it’s actually another pretty damn good track – high energy rather than thrashy – echoing much more of ‘Kill ’em All’ than of the convoluted ‘Justice’ era tracks.

Although there is an obvious step back in time, it doesn’t feel like a going back to their roots just to regain some credibility, it kinda sounds like they’ve maybe been listening to some old school tunes and rediscovered what got them excited in the first place. This, and the obvious hooks, succeed in lending an air of vibrancy that was lacking on ‘Death Magnetic’, making it as immediate a listen as ‘Hardwired’ and ‘Moth Into Flame’. Another plus point is that ‘Kirk Hammett is sounding rejuvenated as he delivers more fine soloing and if the video clip is anything to go by, James, Lars and co seem to be enjoying themselves. Whether ‘Atlas, Rise!’ stands the test of time remains to be seen, but it is certainly another promising snippet of what is to come. I haven’t been this excited about a Metallica album in years. Roll on November 18th.

The Lion and The Wolf – Cardiac Hotel Review

tlatw-cover-digitalwebresThomas George is the misty voiced curator of The Lion and The Wolf and his second album The Cardiac Hotel is quite something. A whole lotta heartbreak has been poured into this record, yet its atmospheric mix of indie folk rock boasts an enviable maturity and poise that give it a warm intimacy. Although he may be dealing with difficult subjects like his father’s illness, grief and lost love, it is very accessible and something we can all relate to, as the intimate nature of the songs wrap the listener in comfort and understanding.

‘Don’t Fail Me Now’ sets the tone with an aching yet uplifting ode to love, the melancholy horns almost half heartedly tickle a wry smile onto the lips of those who’ve loved and lost. This is immediately followed by what, for me at least, is one of the album’s finest moments on ‘Heaven Forbid’. This is a darkly sublime beauty of an open wound, its layered textures of ponderous percussion and spacious guitar lines make room for an emotional vocal.

There’s plenty more feelings on display as the record progresses through the soothingly reflective ‘My Father’s Eyes’ and the melancholy ‘The Hospital Floor’, with its subtle touches of horns that punctuate the lilting piano melody. Things take a folky turn on ‘The Pinching Point’, which features a heartbreaking violin in the mid section, while ‘Walk on The Moon’ is more upbeat and offers comfortable melody.

To be honest, there’s not one song on here that doesn’t work; every single track has something to offer, whether it’s the late night sorrowful lament of ‘Barstools’, with its air of bitterness and defeat or the coolly delivered ‘Past The Point of Fair’. Then there’s the more powerful ‘December’, which sounds like something Ben Watt might do, with lyrics like “The body I have is a ghost town” and the slight drama to the percussion that builds as the song gathers an emotional urgency and Thomas delivers his most complete vocal performance; great stuff.

The bittersweet reflection of the smooth ‘Witness’, with its tumble down piano, precedes the subtle beauty of ‘Find the Time’ which eventually gathers into a rousing barrage of horns to round this fine record off in style. It is a fitting finale to an album that will endure; one that is peppered with many a moment of sublime beauty and that possesses a wonderfully human quality that speaks to us all. Sublime, beautiful, heartbreaking and hopeful – like a warm hug from a good friend – immerse yourself.

9/10

‘Cardiac Hotel’ is out now on Xtra Mile Recordings.

Check out The Lion and The Wolf at https://m.facebook.com/thelionandthewolf and https://thelionandthewolf.bandcamp.com/

The Mission – Another Fall From Grace Review

the-mission_another-fall-from-grace_front_cover_onlyIt was a brave step by Wayne Hussey to set out to make an album that sounds like 1985, yet it is one that by and large he manages to pull off. ‘Another Fall From Grace’ plays like an echo, an echo of former glories when The Mission were riding on the cusp of a wave towards being the UK’s biggest alternative rock band, or an echo of days gone by, when making epically dramatic tunes was de rigueur in the realm of Goth.

Tentative drum beats signal the opening of title track, ‘Another Fall From Grace’, but it soon takes shape around a rumbling bass line as layers of jangly 12 string guitars weave a tapestry of wonderfully bombastic Goth drama reminiscent of Tower of Strength’. Hussey sounds a little older and wiser, but there’s still a powerful richness to his voice and this deeply layered epic is surely one of the finest tunes this band has ever produced.

They seem to have rediscovered their signature sound and on ‘Met-Amor-Phosis’, featuring Ville Valo, it effortlessly translates into the type of song that would’ve bothered the top twenty back in the day. ‘Blood On The Road’ is in a similar vein, but despite being rockier, it is actually a little lacklustre and doesn’t quite nail it.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of moments when they do totally nail it, whether it’s the brooding drama of the atmospheric ‘Within The Deepest Darkness (Fearful)’, featuring excellent vocal contributions from Martin Gore and Gary Numan, or the instantly likeable ‘Can’t See The Ocean For The Rain’; a quality, largely acoustic number with a wistful air.

However, it’s on ‘Tyranny of Secrets’ that they are firing on all cylinders; there’s a distinct Sisters of Mercy feel to the driving electronica of the opening, but it’s got everything else that we know and love about the Mission besides a surprising element of vitriol to the vocal; great tune.

In fact, this opens a section of the album that is pure class, as the wonderfully overblown ‘Never’s Longer Than Forever’ and the intricate intensity of ‘Bullets and Bayonets’ follow stylishly before the spoken word reflections of ‘Valaam’. This segues neatly into my favourite moment of the album, the emotionally charged ‘Jade’ with its signature guitar lines and a haunting piano melody typically reflective of glories past. The song meanders along in darkly atmospheric fashion until Simon Hinkler finally lets rip with a soaring solo, before an emotional finale where Wayne gives it both barrels. This is the Mission at their finest, talk about recapturing whatever it was that once made them great.

Despite being firmly rooted in the past, it is interesting that on closing track ‘Phantom Pain’, another dark 7 minutes, there are some skittering saxophone touches to add a little extra depth. It is a cool touch and offers a hint that this creative well is far from running dry.

All in all, ‘Another Fall From Grace’ is a deeply satisfying record full of great touches, including a number of subtle backing vocals from long term collaborator Julianne Regan; long time Mission fans will surely be overjoyed that they have managed to recapture the essence of what it was that we fell in love with all those years ago, whilst also looking forwards. Sure, at 12 tracks and over an hour long there’s probably one too many pedestrian paced sweeping epics making it a little OTT, but I’m sure Wayne wouldn’t have it any other way, especially when it is such a strong album both musically and vocally.

9/10

Get the bombastic new album right here: https://the-mission.tmstor.es/

Metallica – Moth Into Flame Review

Hold the phone, Metallica just dropped another track from the forthcoming album, ‘Hard Wired’, and much like the first single there is a nagging sense of familiarity about it. This, however, is no bad thing, as it sounds like the Metallica we know and love being the Metallica we know and love – it’s like they’re done pissing around and have gone back to writing quality heavy metal.

‘Moth Into Flame’ is not quite the full on thrash fury of the first single, but this take on the attractions and pitfalls of fame is a satisfying listen and worth it for the blazing Kirk Hammett solo alone, heavy wah wah and all. The track opens with a Maidenish lick that soon turns into a chugging riff straight out of the bay area, featuring those little rising licks on the end of riffs, besides the typical Lars stops and fills, a slick vocal from James and even a hint of harmony on the chorus.

Ok, so there’s plenty of recycling going on, including a mid section tempo change, lines with only one word – ‘Decadence!’ – and I’m sure I’ve heard that melody somewhere before, but hey, who really cares? They’ve proved everything they’ve ever needed to prove, conquering the rock world in uncompromising fashion, I mean, when you’re heavy metal champion of the world you can do a lot worse than sound like a copy of yourself with a few of your influences and contemporaries thrown in for good measure. Sounds like the new album will rock.