Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Second Coming of Heavy (Chapter Eight)

Label: Ripple Music

"Already recognised as one of the world's leading purveyors of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Stoner, Doom and Heavy Psych, Ripple Music upped the ante in 2015 with the arrival of one of their most ambitious projects to date, The Second Coming of Heavy Series.

Serving as an ongoing showcase for some of the best and heaviest bands emerging from the underground, each installment shines a light on those worthy of your attention. Consisting of one, 12” slab of multi-coloured vinyl with full colour sleeves and inserts, the series is designed to be saved and treasured, like a fine anthology of books. So much so when the albums are filed next to each other, the complete collection of aligned spines form a mind-blowing image direct from the underground".

The above quote was taken from the electronic press kit that accompanied the review copy of this album and it hits the nail on the head with the information about this series and the record label releasing the material.

This volume features a North American and a European band. The American band, Ride The Sun hail from Southern California and the European band, The Trikes are residents of Germany. The balance of this LP favours the US band, Ride The Sun get five songs and The Trikes get four. Time for some US/European trade balance discussion. There's a raw rock sound to a number of these tracks which is more Motorhead than Kyuss. According to Ride The Sun's bandcamp, there are two vocalists in this band, which maybe why sometimes the vocals are close to close to Neil Falloon of Clutch and at other times much rawer.

While Ride The Sun are about rocking your face of, their German offsiders, The Trikes are more laid back and instead of going for the throat, this band creep up on the listener with catchy melodic, jamming guitars and a reliable drummer providing the background beat which all fit into a psychedelic groove of fuzz together. Just listening to the music, it's impossible not to get the feeling that these musicians know each other well. A further inspection of their bandcamp site reveals that the vocalist/drummer and the bassist share a family name.

If I had to declare a winner between the two bands, then the prize would go to The Trikes as their musicianship is clearly of high caliber however it's clear Ride The Sun achieve their goal of rocking out and taking others along for the ride.


Release Date: 4 May 2018

The Trikes on bandcamp/Ride The Sun on bandcamp

The Trikes on Facebook/Ride the Sun on facebook

Monday, April 23, 2018

Four Lights - Kobayashi Maru

Four Lights are a pop punk band from Seattle. Kobayasi Maru is their second record. The band's music falls somewhere between power pop and punk-pop. The emphasis is more weighted towards pop than either punk or power with tight harmonies. The press sheet mentions a Weezer influence and that band definitely comes through in "Characters" and "Scene of The Crime". However, this whole album is about as punk and, for that matter, about as pop as The Goo Goo Dolls have been since they got a song in a Meg Ryan movie (check out their "Hold Me Up" and "Superstar Wash" albums for when they peaked musically).

Record Label: North AmericaBomb Pop Europe: Stardumb

Despite my complaints, the catchiness of most the songs on Kobayasi Maru is undeniable but this album feels too long as too many of the songs just blend together. Four Lights claim to love nerd culture and be pop punk but anyone hoping Four Lights used "Milo Goes to College" as a blueprint is heading for a disappointment. To be fair to Four Lights, the most appealing songs on "Kobayashi Maru" are songs that run over the three minute mark. "Jimmy's Song Part 2" and "Characters". In these tunes, Four Lights really put themselves across as tight and accomplished songwriters.

If emo or Weezer excites you, then "Kobayashi Maru" will be for you. Now, where is that nomeansno album?


Release Date: 20 April 2018

Four Lights on bandcamp

Four Lights on Facebook

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Against Evil - All Hail the King

Record Label: Transcending Obscurity

Indian band, Against Evil are a straight up traditional meat and heavy metal outfit. It's easy to hear the influence of eighties mainstream metal on the band. Don't think about the metal that the music television of the time was pushing or thrash metal but instead think Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Manowar. Against Evil have a pumped up metallic sound without sounding like a carbon copy of any of the before mentioned bands.

Against Evil have a beefy sounding vocalist or two(both the rhythm guitarist,Sravan and the bass guitarist, Siri are credited with vocal duties), who can carry a tune without needing to show off that he can do high-pitched screams. The groups songwriting is strong as is the riffing. Often an all-in chorus comes in where you'd expect there to be a scream which works in the band's favor The rhythm section has a muscular bass and is a solid unit throughout the album.

"Bad Luck" is reminiscent of early Motley Crue with a similar punchy guitar sound and its all-in chorus. There's a definite Manowar influence on "Gods of Metal" but Against Evil aren't delivering a facsimile as they have their own thing going and stamp their own identity into the tune. Against Evil aren't exactly reinventing the wheel but they deliver catchy and enjoyable head-nodding metal. Oh and by the way, Jeff Loomis from Nevermore and Arch Enemy provides a guest guitar solo on "Sentenced to Death", which could be a selling point for many although Against Evil are definitely all capable musicians. The music video for the song is below. While "All Hail the King" may not be an instant stand out album but it certainly is a solid metal album.


Release Date: 6 April 2018

Against Evil on bandcamp

Against Evil on Facebook

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Axminister - The Crucible of Sin

Label: Self-release

Some times it really is worth looking at the promo sheet. It would have been easy to ignore Toronto band, Axminister simply due to the piles of death and black metal that comes this way and just write them off as another band that will only appeal to fans of those sub-genres and not write about them at all. However the publicity sheet recommends the band for fans of Iron Maiden, Manowar, Slayer and Megadeth. So, there is a warning that it's time to get prepared for revved up speed metal.

It's immediately apparent that Dave Mustaine is a huge influence on the vocal style of Nicholaus Klaus as he employs an incredibly similar snarl. The riffing and song structure of "Prey" and "Salvation" have also been learned from the Megadeth textbook. There's a definite Manowar influence on the chest-beating chorus of "The Trials of Hercules". The vocals are raspier and the chorus isn't quite as catchy as it might have been. The song's best moments are when the vocals stop and the instruments are given a metallic thrashing. The intro to "The Succubus and The Crucible of Sins" is in a sea shanty style that is reminiscent of many a viking and folk metal band however Axminister veer away from the ocean as their desired pirate booty contains thrash metal.

There is undeniable Slayer influence creeping through "Sanctus Equitus Mortis" and strangely the vocals are their strongest on this tune. Axminister add a little melody to the tune and, after a tempo change and a couple of layered choruses, the song then ends in a much more traditional heavy metal fashion.

It's hard to shake the feeling that this is a band still trying to find their own sound. Despite that the Mustaine snarls are great and more of them throughout the EP would have been nice.

Release Date: 4 May 2018


Axminister on bandcandcamp

Axminister on facebook

Friday, April 20, 2018

Bang - The Best of Bang

Label: Ripple Music

Bang were a cult band back in the early seventies. Power trio Bang released their debut album in 1971. Since the band were considered the American Black Sabbath by some, it could be argued by many whether they fit under proto-metal umbrella or not.

The Black Sabbath influence is so strong on tracks like "Lions...Christians" and "The QUeen" that you wonder how many bats the singer has bitten the head off. There's undeniably heavy UK influence on this group in both senses of the word, "Questions" sounds like a missing link between Stray and Led Zeppelin due to the vocals doing the high-pitched part that Robert Plant became renowned for during his Led Zep days.

There's a delightful simpleness to the rock of "Mother". The song is catchy and there are echoes back to the fab four but while Bang were looking to the past, they were also looking forward. "Keep on" is from a similar mould and you can check this tune out on soundcloud. (Yay, I finally got my head around Soundcloud. Oh, no. I didn't. That site still sucks for embedding music on blogger). Many listeners will hear the roots of both what is now known as classic rock and also doom metal on tracks such as "Feel The Hunt". If "Windfair" was stacked up through more amps and turned up to 11, it'd sound rather similar to an English band named after torture device. There's some great soloing on "Don't Need Nobody". "Feels Nice" has a huge Zeppelin influence and if you've never liked Zep, this track will also beg the question, why does he sing like that?

This Anthology will nestle down in the vinyl format in the record collections of stoner and psychedelic rock/proto-metal fans and meat and potatoes hard rock fans. If you've enjoyed any rock albums that were released in the early seventies or if you'd like to, then "The Best of Bang" is a good arrival point.


Release date: 20 April 2018

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Mordor - Darkness...

Pagan Records

Here's another comeback album. Poland's doom metal peddlers, Mordor have definitely taken a long time between drinks. It has been 21 years since there previous album. The band blot the landscape by painingt a bleak atmosphere with heavy riffs and deep throaty vocals.

The band walk the tightrope between atmospheric post-rock or post-metal on many on their tunes. There's a black metal influence on "L.U.C.I.F.E.R." with a similar guitar tone and incredibly fast drumming that veers away from plodding doom metal but Mordor still keep their musical template. There's a slow build to "Melancholy", which incorporates black metal with a more atmospheric sound which are married with deep gruff caveman style vocals that would seen many a sludge band green with envy. The band convey a Gothic feel that in the album closer, "Dark Room", which has a sparse and dark sound.

Fans of death-doom will eat this album up and non-purist black metal fans will be intrigued by the manner in which Mordor has incorporated one of their favourite metal sub-genres. There aren't any quick hooks on "Darkness.." so those looking for a quick metal fix won't find much to their liking here as Mordor favor long songs with no tunes briefer than six minutes.


Release date: April 20 2018

Mordor on facebook

Monday, April 16, 2018

Satanic Surfers - Back from Hell

Label: Mondo Macabre

This Swedish punk band's comeback album should be right up my alley. After all, I loved the pop punk that the Epitaph record label was putting out in the mid-90's.

However this album is boring as hell. Sure there's loud guitars and it's fast and melodic but it's mostly generic as hell. There is an experiment with combining reggae with Pennywise style surf/skate punk on "Self-Medication" and whilst it doesn't really help the song that it comes in late in the picture, it's hard to shake the feeling that this is the most innovative Satanic Surfers get.. "Ain't No Ripper" sounds like came straight from a skateboarding video soundtrack and Satanic Surfers got a well used but reliable cookie cutter. "Madhouse" asks that age old question, "Who let the dogs out? "Nowhere Fast" has a speedy edge that is reminiscent of the faster material on the later Descendents album but not quite as catchy. "Paying Tribute" is the Satanic Surfers version of the Descendents "Thank You" but the Swedes have a punk and roll edge.

This album will no doubt appeal to fans of skate punk and 90's pop punk fans who still pop out their old CD's now and again. Those looking for hooks and those looking something on the harder side of pop punk may find a little of what they are searching for on "Back From Hell" but whether it satisfies or even leaves the listener wanting more is uncertain.


Release date: April 13 2018

Satanic Surfers on Facebook

Satanic Surfers on bandcamp