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

Advertisements

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

Vicious Rumors – Concussion Protocol (Steamhammer 2016)

Vicious Rumors has been around ever since 1979, but the mainstream hasn’t really paid much attention to them and the underground never embraced them either. Still, they’ve released a string of albums, one every few years at least.

I can kind of understand why they never broke through; the quality of music is up and down, with the 1988 release Digital Dictator as the highlight. Vicious Rumors exist in a cross section of power metal and thrash metal. Some riffs are very much in the thrash bag, as is the guitar sound. The arrangement and melodic elements have more in common with European power metal acts such as Rhapsody or Rage. The vocals is also a major reason why I’m thinking European, Nick Holleman sounds a lot like Peavy Wagner (Rage) in his melodic voice. I wish he would utilize his gruffer voice more, it’s really good.

This album has some great moments; I love the opening riff of the title track. It’s fast and powerful, and sets a tone for the rest of the record. Mid tempo and powerful riffs are the main components of this record. One of my main issues are the fact that they sort of keep to the rule of one good riff per song. A lot of the verses and choruses are pestered with boring guitars and subpar vocal melodies, broken up by some great riff and / or melodic guitar parts. Last of our Kind has an absolute killer riff, but the rest of the song doesn’t deliver.

Concussion Protocol mostly sits in a mid tempo chug, with some tempo shifts into a faster pace. In my personal opinion they sound best when they get really heavy, with the rather slow tempos, like in the song Bastards, which varies between an almost doomy atmosphere to mid tempo and then to a rather fast middle section, one of my favorite tracks.

There isn’t that much of a melodic edge to the album, but sometimes they let the guitars shine. The intro to Last of our Kind has a nice Thin Lizzy sounding melodic intro. There is some stellar lead work sprinkled out across the album, most impressive might be the soli on Every Blessings is a Curse, especially with the trading off between the guitarists.

The album is a great work soundtrack. It’s loud enough to drown out my coworkers and  unintrusive enough to allow me to concentrate on my work.

If you like the mid tempo chug, than this album is for you. I think the vocals kind of lack a little energy and are slick in a way. I wish he would do his lower register more, where he really shines, listen to the final track, Life for Life, and hear for yourselves.

Recommended tracks: Every Blessing is a Curse, Bastards

Rating: 3/5

Gojira – Magma (Roadrunner Records 2016)

This album is just beautiful, both visually and musically. Gojira has chosen the path of many of their contemporaries in sludge / death metal segment, and are headed towards are more progressive sound. This record is heading in the direction of Enslaved or, to some degree, Opeth.

They’ve kept a lot of their heaviness, but added much to the melodic side of their sound. The soundscape is still similar to the earlier material, with a heavy bottom and a lot of going on in the background. And overall the sound is as atmospheric as ever. The sound is layered with a heavy bass and drum sound in the bottom layer, crushing guitars in the middle section and lighter top from lead guitars and vocals. Even when the harsher vocals turn up, it still has a softer feel then earlier material.

Silvera has sneaky intro and continues into an almost Meshuggah-ish riffing. This style of riffing is prevalent on other songs as well, stranded for one.

The album is really cohesive in that songs end and slide into each other, which makes for a seamless listening experience. The record doesn’t have any real single-tracks; they all sort of belong together. If I had to pull out a couple of songs I guess I would choose the title track, Low Lands and Liberation.

Magma, the track, has that certain sound and feel which I like in Gojira: Big variety in intensity, creative arrangement and great lyrics. Low Lands  is a haven of heavy and melodic riffs and turns into a beautiful soft outro. Liberation is Gojira at their most melodic and experimental. Usually they have experienced with atmospheric sounds, but this is more of a melodic and rhythmic song. It’s a great ending to a great album.

I like that they keep the songs rather short, and don’t feel the need to push the ten minute mark on every song, and keep it around five minutes. I wish they would let even more rules behind, because they’re still quite bound by metals dogmas. Gojira deserve to be much bigger than they are. Even though this album is beautiful in almost every way, I don’t think this is the kind of album that brakes through to the kid crowds.

 

Recommended tracks: Magma, Low Lands

Rating: 4,5 / 5

Dunsmuir – Dunsmuir (Hall of Records, 2016)

 

I’m not sure if this is a project or new band or what exactly this is. I personally despise the term supergroup, because most of the so called supergroups mostly consists of b-players from b-acts. Or they are long lost players resurfacing. Let’s call it a project and not dwell on this.

All members have been or still are members of some household rock / metal / stoner acts. It’s Neal Fallon of Clutch on Vocals, Dave Bone from The Bad Company on guitar, Brad Davis from Fu Manchu on bass and Vinny Appice of Black Sabbath / Dio fame on the drums. This was apparently a metal side-project put together by Fallon, and I believe he is the main songwriter. At least a lot of the music sound kind of like lighter version of Clutch.

Fallons voice is very prominent on every track. I enjoy his voice, so I don’t mind, but his voice is the voice of Clutch, so I’m thinking about that band every time I listen to this record. The album is densely produced with not a lot of breathing room or space for experimentation or adlibbing. The riffs are mostly of the foottapping variety, without being too memorable.

The riff that I like the best, and is the most addictive, is the intro to the opener Hung on the Rocks. It’s catchy and edgy, and the song is a truly great opening track and overall real heavy stoner song. What Manner of Bliss? Also has this great catchy, hooky feel to it, and the lyrics are fun and memorable.

Church of the Tooth is great, just amazingly forward leaning and laidback all at once, just how I like my stoner music.  Crawling Chaos has a really interesting middle section that sticks in my head and won’t leave.

I’m not to fund of the production of the album, and there is too many lazy and uninteresting songs. A lot of the material seems like fillers, and lacks passion. I’m a big fan of Appices drumming and Fallons voice, and they both come clearly through. This is however not their best work, a few excellent tracks and a few fillers.

 

Recommended tracks: Church of the Tooth, What Manner of Bliss? Crawling Chaos

Rating: 3,5 / 5