Danzig – Black Laden Crown (Evilive Records 2017)

After the weak sounding covers record Skeletons I didn’t get my hopes up for this release. The sound is in the same sort of low fi Glenn has been doing ever since 7:77 I Luciferi. The songs are doomy and gloomy, mostly slow to mid tempo pieces.

 

Let’s pause a minute to consider the cover art, wow how awful is this cover? Danzig cover art has been a huge part of what has drawn me to the music, especially the Giger drawing of How the Gods Kill, not to mention the classic skull logo or the medieval look of Circle of Snakes. This time around he has chosen to go for the esthetics of his Verotic comic books. I get that he is big into the comic book world, but this cover is too much on the cartoony side for me personally, bit of a disappointment.

 

The sound is very similar to the Deth Red Saboath album. Lyrically this album is better crafted, maybe not as accessible as earlier, but with better quality… quality might not be the right word…shit… they seem less childish and more of a comprehensive body of work.

 

The guitar is heavily overdriven, I’m thinking a thick fuzz sound, Victor likes himself some natural harmonics, so much so that it sort of gets annoying. The riffs themselves are dark, and heavy, reminiscent of Circle of Snakes and 4p. The high, squeaky fills gets a bit much, for my taste. The drums are once again handled by Joey Castillo, who was the from about 95 up through the touring cycle for I, Luciferi in 03. I can’t really say he makes much of an impact on the album. Drums are hollow-sounding and bass-laden, like they’ve been on every danzig-record since the turn of the century. I guess Glenn played the bass and keyboards himself.

 

The opener, which also happens to be the title track, is a sort of half breed between his past half instrumental openers, like Unendlich or Wotans Procession and earlier heavy numbers; like Thirteen or Angel Blake. It’s a slow, but heavy number. Best of all, it has this classic, easy-to-follow Danzig vocal melody. A truly wicked start to the new disc. Eyes Ripping Fire is not a great song, it’s lacking in power and gets dull and seems to drag out, even though it’s only like four minutes long.

 

Devil on Hwy 9, the teaser and the single, isn’t a very good either. The chorus is nice and infectious, but the main riff is just boring and Victor is slightly too active with his fills. I’m sure this will be killer live though, it just falls flat in a studio version.

 

I’ve listened to this album a bunch of times now, and it doesn’t really stick. It kind of falls flat. I get what he’s trying to do with production but when you know that with today’s technology untrained kids can make great sounding stuff in their bedrooms, this low-fi shit doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t sound retro, it doesn’t sound evil, it just sounds half assed.

 

Being a Danzig-fan is hard around the release of new music, because of Danzigs press rounds, he’s now getting to sound like more of a nutcase than Mustaine and that says a bit. Jeebuz man, Glenn says some crazy shit.

 

Let’s end this with: Established Danzig fan? Yes: Get the record, it’s what you expect and want, but with crap production. No: Go to the first four records for some bluesy stuff, record 5 and 6 for some industrial darkness, 7 and 8 for some truly dark, yet somehow popy, music, wait with Black Laden Crown and Deth Red Sabaoth.

 

Recommended tracks: Devil on Hwy 9, Skulls & Daisies

 

Rating: 3 / 5

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Deep Purple – Infinite (Ear 2017)

Deep Purple, still going and still sounding like Deep Purple. There’s nothing new to either the songwriting or sound of the band. If you like Deep Purple, you will probably like this album too. If you’re a hitpicking Purple listener you might as well just skip this record all together. Just a little side note; is this actually the most stable “mark” of Deep Purple? Is there any constellation of the band that’s been together as long as this particular line up?

Don Airey has kept the sound and feel of Jon Lord, the horrible organ sound of the seventies is still alive and well on Infinite, I really do detest this sound, it screeches in my ears and, just as I do with the older purple songs, I skip these tracks more often than not. Ironically, the first song to stay with me is the organ heavy Hip Boots. Steve Morse is a great blues guitarist, he wrangles that thing and makes it howl and scream when he wants it. Get Me Outta Here has some major licks and so does Roadhouse Blues. The latter being an old fashioned dirty blues tune, borrowing heavy from the yearly decades of last century, complete with harmonica and everything.

Ian Gillan sounds a bit whiney. His voice pretty much sounds the same, but with a tinge whineyness to it. When he brings on the energy, he is magnificent, truly. Ian Paice is steady, groovy, heavy and same old same old. All I Got Is You has that recognizable Piace groove.

This record is for the people who have a past with the band, lets be honest, who else is interested in Deep Purple anymore? This is not a creative masterpiece, it’s rather predictable in its greatness. The musicianship is rock solid and the songwriting is heavy inspired by their back catalogue and true blues rock. I will give them props for playing to their strength rather than experimenting with all kinds of craziness which plagues a lot of aging rockers.

The question is: does the world really need more original material from Deep Purple? Off course it does! Infinite is worth a good spot in any hard rock rotation.

Recommended tracks: Hip Boots, Roudhouse Blues

Rating: 3/5

Danko Jones – Wild Cat

Man, I just love Danko. I love the music, the attitude, his podcasts and his writing. He is a genuine rock n roll enthusiast. I consider myself a guy who is quite well versed in the metal, rock and punk scenes, but the people this band sites as influences and as big and important names, I’ve never even heard of. Just another proof that there is always more to discover!

Wild Cat presents a band harking back to its roots, taking small steps forward and showing off some influences. The songs that speak to me the most are the songs in a classic Danko Jones style. Hard riffs, with big stops, fat bass and slightly obscene lyrics. I Gotta Rock, My Little RnR and Revolution are typical examples of the dirty gritty rock that Danko does so well. Danko himself isn’t the best singer in the world, but he’s a damn fine vocalist and front man. When he finds his rowdy voice and speaks in stead of sings and then belts it out on the chorus; that is truly his finest hour.

Let’s start Dancing is different from the rest of the track, every now and again this band release songs that reminds of dance music; fast, repetitive and with a thick rhythm section.. It’s quite catchy, I’ll admit to that fact, but also a “skipper”. The title track is clearly influenced by the seventies hard rock scene and sporting some flat out sexual lyrics. Going Out Tonight reminds me of First Date, one of the bonus tracks on the Sleep is the Enemy album, slightly more punky, but still. Do this Every Night is a sleazy little tune, not in a Steel Panther kind of to obvious way, but in a gritty, bluesy, rock n roll kind of way. Success in Bed is maybe too much on the nose lyrically, but a damn catchy, fun, bluesy tune.

Danko is no shredder in any sort of way, but his guitar tone is fat and heavy, and sometimes almost funky. Calabreses bass is strong and solid, and I’ll just admit it straight away, I’ve lost track of who the drummer, as it has changed too often. Most riffs are in the cross section between punk and rock n roll, except maybe You’re My Woman which sounds like a Thin Lizzy tune, both melodically and musically. I’m not the biggest lizzy fan, but I enjoy most of their music, and I also like this track. Even though this tune is way outside what the bad usually does, it works great.

This record has a few new twists and turns for the band, but everything sound very much like the Danko Jones I’ve come to know and love. It’s just not the band at its best, it’s the band at its medium, for the most part at least.

Recommended tracks: I Gotta Rock, My Little RnR, Success in Bed, You’re My Woman

Rating: 3 / 5

Black Star Riders – Heavy Fire (Nuclear Blast 2017)

Few records impress me as much as The Killer Instinct. I fell head over heels in love that record, and barely listened to anything else for months after its release. When the news that BSR was crowd funding their next full length reached me, I got in on the ground floor. I didn’t get my Heavy Fire copy upon release as promised, but three weeks after the date. I’ve got to say I’m disappointed by this, stand by your words and honor you commitments. Because I’m a gentleman I choose to blame the shipping and / or record company, not the band itself.

Heavy Fire doesn’t keep the impossible quality of the Killer Instinct, but I didn’t expect that either. The album is a nice rock album, just as the debut was, but not brilliant. Some of the lyrics have a high school banality to them, in some cases intended like on Dancing with the wrong girl, but at times it just seems wrong sung by a grown man. The opener and title track sets a rock n roll tone, which is kept throughout the record. Heavy Fire is the kind of track this band does well. It’s got a lot of Lizzy glimpses, some nods to Queen and fifties rockers like Jerry Lee Lewis. When the Night Comes Inn is a bland and boring number that should have been left off the record.

Dancing with the Wrong Girl has 1950’s American dream movie innocence, a naiveté, to it. The riff is fun and excellent, and the lead guitar a couple of minute’s inn is also excellent. I enjoy Who Rides the Tiger for its silliness and catchy main riff. Cold War Love has a real rock n roll groove to it. True Blue Kid is shaping up to be my favorite track of the entire record. It’s got that x-factor that sets it apart and I keep humming the chorus to myself while shopping for groceries. That’s a good sign, trust me.

The first time I heard Ticket to Rise I seriously thought it was a very different take on a certain Beatles classic. The chorus kind of play on the similarities of the titles, but other than that the two songs sound nothing like each other.

This is a good record, not as good the previous record, but that record was phenomenal, out of this world. I will definitely continue to listen to the record and to follow the band. Scott Gorham might be an old man, but he still rocks!

Recommended tracks: True Blue Kid, Heavy Fire, Who Rides the Tiger

Rating: 3,5 / 5

Glenn Hughes – Resonate (Frontiers Records 2016)

I know Hughes mainly through Deep Purple, I haven’t been a follower of any kind. I like Black Country Communion and his Sabbath record. My interest was peaked for this particular record after a chance listen to a tune from this record, the song was called Heavy, and yes it was heavy.

As might be expected the bass sound is thick and rumbling throughout the entire record. If anything the sound might be a tad bottom heavy and somewhat light on top. The vocals are always soring way over top, it fits a few of the songs like Heavy, Let it Shine and God of Money, however it seems a bit misplaced on Flow or Stumble and Go.

The record is put together in a rather splendid and clearly planned out manner. The different songs roll and build on each other, even songs I find on the weaker side of things, work in the big picture. Take the song When I fall, it’s a rather boring piece of straight forward rock n roll, kind of bluesy, real predictable if you put this track on, say a playlist or just by itself in any sort way. It would be a “skipper”, track to skip, but when played in its spot on the album, this song is worth listening to. It actually sounds pretty God damn good.

A lot of the riffs have a bass kind of feel to them, in that I suspect they are written on a bass, for a bass, by a bass player. Some work as pillars of the song, but some sound rather weak through a guitar. Other than that the record is kind of what to expect from Hughes, it’s bluesy, heavy music with some clear ties to hard rock scene of the seventies.

Recommended tracks: Heavy, God of Money

Black Star Riders – All Brakes Loose (Nuclear Blast 2013)

The debut from Black Star Riders is kind of hard to consider a debut, seeing that the band had been playing together for a number of years, but as Thin Lizzy. The decision to release new music was a good one, but the decision to release the new music under a new name was even better. Had this album been released as a Thin Lizzy album, it would’ve gotten a totally different welcome, from me at least. I understand the drive to write new music, but with Lynott dead it would be kind of disrespectful, in a way.

The music is a continuation of the sound and songwriting style made famous by Thin Lizzy. The guitar leads, double or not, all have that melodic tinge to them. The record is kind of uneven, some of the songs lack a little in the completion, and they don’t all come together.  Some songs seem like they’ve been thrown together, or recorded as separate riffs and put together in the mix.

I rather concentrate on the songs I enjoy. Bound for Glory is totally working the Lizzy sound, the double lead is magnificent and chorus is catchy as all that. Hey Judas is great, from start to finish. The main riff is so strong, and the melody is magnificent. Hoodoo Voodoo  is contagious in it’s catchiness, even though I got kind of sick of it after some time. Blues ain’t so bad  is a heavy blues song with some monstrous bass going on.

This album is nothing new,  it’s not original in any way. The album is probably close to what Lizzy could have sounded like if Lynott hadn’t passed away. This band, this record is a great tribute to the sound that Lynott was a big part in creating. The uneven songwriting will change before the next record, thankfully.

Recommended tracks: Bound for Glory, Hey Judas

Rating: 3/5

Volbeat – Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie (Vertigo 2016)

Yay, a new Volbeat album. I’ve been following Volbeat ever since the release of Rock the Rebel / Metal the Devil. I really loved the easy going creativity, genre meshing and party lyrics. The fact that they didn’t fit neatly into any kind of box really tickled my funnybone. But as their popularity grew, their albums and their live show weakened. The sound grew continually more radiofriendly and their last album, Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies was feast of weakly veiled ballads and poor riffs.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this new one, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to listen to it or buy it. But my love for the first two albums is so strong, that I decided to give chance, and the fact that it got good reviews from people I usually agree with, sealed the deal.

The opening track, the Devils Bleeding Crown, is a nice rocker. The fun is back in the music, it’s not a creative fest, but I’m pleased. Next up Marie Laveau is a big letdown and passes by totally unnoticed. For Evigt is the lead single off the album. I can totally see why they chose this track, it’s a pop song, with a love theme and Danish lyrics, to give that exotic edge. It’s not for me however, I like the harder side of Volbeat, and this is not it.

The Gates of Babylon starts off nice, with some Arabic scales, but then falls into mediocrity with boring verse and easily forgettable chorus. The guitar solo is stellar, which brings the song up from a total waste of time. Let it Burn is poprock tune, in a style similar to what the Bangles sounded like in the eighties. Black Rose had me intrigued, because it featured Danko Jones. It turns out that this is a ballad posing as a hard rock song, and I probably won’t listen to again.

The first real standout track of the album is Rebound. This is said to be a kind of tribute to the Ramones, and does sound somewhat like Ramones. The reason this track stands out, is that it’s a piss poor song. It sucks, the riff is shit, the lyrics are teeny bopper crap and whole song just stinks. This is the worst track Volbeat has ever released. It amazes me that they would include this on album.

Mary Jane Kelly is another masked ballad, and the next track, Goodbye Forever is so similar, that it’s hard to tell where one finishes and the other starts. But then, finally, the proper Volbeat rock is back. Seal the Deal is brilliant, absolutely amazing. The riff, the drumming, the lyrics, the melody, the guitar work is spot on. Wow, just wow. I love this song, man … what a song.

Battleship Chains is another feast of banality and the less said about You Will Know, the better. A little bit of honor is saved by the last track The Loas Crossroads which is good song and proper foot tapper.

I like two songs and love one song on this entire record. Worst to date from the Danes.

 

Recommended: Seal the Deal

Rating: 2/5