Stonefield – Bent (2019)

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I’ve been a long time fan of Stonefield – four sisters from Victoria’s Macedon Ranges – ever since I was first completely captivated by Through the Clover.  I was even fortunate enough to do a bit of a Q&A with the bands keyboardist and backing vocalist, Sarah Findlay, for 100 Percent Rock Magazine a few years back…

https://100percentrock.com/interviews/201404/50900

Now, here we are in 2019, and Stonefield have just released their latest effort, and fourth full length album, Bent.  What we have in Bent, is an album by a band who have grown, developed, and built upon what was already a very mature sound, unmistakably influenced by 70’s rock.

Sleep opens up the album, and it is a Sabbath-esque, riff driven beast.  Lead vocalist and drummer, Amy Findlay demonstrates her soulful and equally powerful voice throughout – not just this track, but the album as a whole.

Dog Eat Dog is driven by some fantastic keyboards – Jon Lord would be proud, while Dead Alive is an energetic, psychedelic affair.  It makes great use of simple effects, and has legitimate single potential.

People is straight out of the 70’s, which might be a little lazy to say, considering the majority of this material fits that description, but it’s never more evident than here.  Route 29 on the other hand, has a certain 80’s vibe to it – there are elements at play that have a lot in common with disco – you could easily dance to this track (I’m definitely no dancer, but YOU could dance to it…)

66 is funky and spacey.  Almost completely instrumental, save for some great vocal harmonies later on.  If I Die is a slower, almost psychedelic tune – just listen and drift away into a trance like state.  Dignity a short, but welcome instrumental piece, atmospheric in nature, and a well placed lead in to Shutdown, which may just be the highlight of this record for me, as it wanders through all of the elements that make Stonefield particularly appealing to me.

Woman has a certain stoner rock vibe, colourful synths are front and centre, but that underlying guitar riff is chunky and hard to ignore.  It wouldn’t be out of place on a Sabbath Record.

Overall, Bent is a wonderful listen – particularly for fans of Sabbath, Deep Purple and Rainbow.  It’s excellently crafted rock music, with a strong 70’s influence.

7/10

Review by Shayne McGowan

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Majesty – Legends (2019)

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German heavy metal icons lead you into a post-apocalyptic wasteland!

Legends is the ninth MAJESTY studio album and leads all defenders of steel into a post-apocalyptic wasteland where mankind fights for a brighter future.

Opening with the atmospheric spoken word intro, The Will To Believe, and then launching into Rizing Home, Majesty deliver a rousing power metal epic, with all the hallmarks – soaring vocals, galloping guitars and attention grabbing drumming.

Burn the Bridges is musically on point, but lyrically, the chorus is particularly lazy in its over use of the word “burn”.   We Are Legends, on the other hand, is anything but lazy – bombastic choruses, layered vocals, and some great harmonies.

Wasteland Outlaw is full of pop sensibilities, and another immense chorus, while Church of Glory is a galloping anthem, complete with gang vocals – making for a highlight of Legends.

Words of Silence is a completely different beast, offering up the softer side of the Majesty sound.  Soft and tender vocals from Tarek Maghary, and some great piano accents eventually build towards some brilliant guitar solos.

Last Brigade opens with machine gun precision and power – definitely the heaviest song thus far.  By this point, I’m legitimately regretting the fact that I’ve never spent more time listening to Majesty, something that I’ll surely correct in the near future.

Blood Of The Titans is epic, not in length, but in shear stature.  It’s a bold number, infectious and groovy – another sure fire favourite for mine.  Rounding out the record is Stand As One, Majesty’s call to arms – the riff is exceptional, and the gang vocals are great.

While I’m not hugely familiar with Majesty, having only heard a handful of songs previously, I can safely say that Legends holds up to the bands previous output – if not outright bettering it.

8/10

Review by Shayne McGowan

 

Introducing Chaos Ritual…

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Chaos Ritual are a progressive, metal band hailing from Ohio, in the Midwest of America.  Their sound, as heard on their self titled debut, also has a clear thrash influence – as demonstrated on tracks like The Show, S.T.F.U and Machine.  It’s an album well worth hearing, particularly if you’re a fan of a band like Flotsam and Jetsam.

Noise Pollution recently had the opportunity to speak with one of the five piece bands guitarists, Ace Parlier, who speaks on the bands inception, their debut album and their goals for the future..

What does the name mean to you?

 We’ve come to agree that everything is a Chaos Ritual. Life is a Chaos Ritual. We spend a great deal of our adult lives trying to put order to chaos. Those who approach life with a bit of art and tact develop tricks or hacks to simplify the task. It becomes a ritual.
We like the Zen of it. It encompasses everything but contains nothing.

Where are you from?

We are from the East side of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

What genre do you fall under?

Metal. We call it old-school metal with a twist.
We are all fans of 70’s metal and 80’s thrash. All of that music has been filtered through our individual influences to inform our songwriting.

How long have you been together?

About 18 months. We formed in January 2018.

 Give us the story of your formation..

 Brent and I were in a metal band together years ago…The Malevolent. We had both been out of the business for a while…raising families, working. About two years ago we got together and started playing around with some of the old Malevolent tunes that were never used.
Brent had no doubt about the strength of the material. He said it would be a shame to just let the stuff go to waste. We needed to start another band.
I was apprehensive at first but, as he and I worked through the material, I heard that the magic was still there. We always worked well as a guitar duo but, then, after practicing together for the better part of a year…We were vicious….
So, in late 2017, we started looking for musicians. I reached out to Glen, our bass player, who I didn’t know, but I knew the band he was in had broken up, so I was hoping he was available.
It turned out he was trying to put something together with Shawn and Rick, both of whom I knew. We went to school together. Shawn and I actually graduated together. He’s a phenomenal drummer and had played in some really cool bands over the years, so Brent and I went in with a good vibe knowing everyone had tons of experience, and that very first night, it was just fucking magic…. We all locked in together and tore it up. It was just obvious.
We wrote our first song together,
Social Destruction, that night from scratch, and it’s been Chaos ever since…..

Tell us about your influences..

I’m all over the place. I have very eclectic tastes. As far as guitarists go though, my two main influences are Ritchie Blackmore and Randy Roades, but I also admire Tony Iommi, Frank Zappa, Steve Vai, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Brent is a straight up metalhead. He’s into Yngwie Malmsteen, Craig Locicero and Phil Demmel.
When we started working on our own dynamic duo we studied all the great duos; Tipton and Downing, Hanneman and King, Hetfield and Hammet, Glen Buxton and Michael Bruce, Rudy Schenker and Uli Jon Roth. We were just knocked out by each duo’s dynamic, their interplay. We’ve worked very hard developing our own style.  As a band, we’ve found tons of common ground in our influences, Slayer, Megadeth, Overkill, Death Angel, Sanctuary, Flotsam and Jetsam, Sacred Reich, Violence, Savatage, Rush, Dream Theater, Rainbow, Deep Purple…They all play in the jam room during rehearsal breaks.

Tell us about your latest release..

The songs on this album came together quickly. Once we all settled into working together they just came pouring out.  Then, over the course of our first year, we tightened them all up playing everywhere we could get our foot in the door.  We went into the studio in March of this year with our good friend, Ron Pease, and hammered them out.  It’s a diverse group of songs. And that was very much by design. We wanted to grow as songwriters. We pushed ourselves to explore the limits of the sound we had created.  I’m very happy with how it turned out.

Where is your music available?

 It’s available on iTunes, Spotify, Shazam, Amazon…tons of other download sites. You can get physical copies from the CD Baby website…or at one of our shows.

What are your goals for the band?

To keep moving forward, to progress…We want to become better songwriters and better musicians. We want to write epic shit! Beyond that, we would love the opportunity to tour the world. We’re still a few steps away from making that a reality, though. We need to get out and explore our own country first.

If you could share the stage with any other band or artist, who would it be?

There are so many….Death Angel, Overkill, Judas Priest! All of those bands we grew up emulating.

Tell us about your live shows?

 Our live shows are crazy…Our singer, Macko, is a madman….You quickly learn to keep an eye out for him…He’s all over the place. He has a knack for drawing a crowd in. You can’t take your eyes off of him because you don’t know what in the hell he’s going to do next….

Any upcoming gigs to promote?

July 18th, we’re opening for Sanctuary at home in Cincinnati. They’re playing the entire Refuge Denied album. It’s going to be a great show! Definitely a checkmark on the bucket list…

What do you think sets you apart from other bands?

Our sound. I think we have our own vibe. It’s heavy but has its own groove.

Explain why listeners should give your music a listen…

To hear new tunes…something you haven’t heard a million times before.

What has been your bands greatest achievement so far?

This album….There’s been a lot of blood and sweat invested in it. I think it captures where we’re at now and where we aim to go…The elements are all there and there’s plenty of room to progress.

There you have it folks.  Chaos Ritual are a band that make awesome music, but clearly remain grounded – They have a clear vision of who they are, and where they want to head, with realistic goals to get them there.

The debut album is fantastic from start to finish, and I highly recommend that you check it out.

 You can keep up with Chaos Ritual at the following links;

   www.reverbnation.com/chaosritual

    www.facebook.com/chaoticritual

    @chaos_ritual on Twitter and Instagram

Written by Shayne McGowan


 

Mammoth Storm – Alruna (2019)

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From the release notes:

The Swedish doom heavyweights MAMMOTH STORM finally strike back: After the trio has just recently signed a worldwide deal with Argonauta Records, they are set to release their brand new album titled Alruna on June 28th 2019!

Formed in 2012, MAMMOTH STORM left an impressive first stamp with their critically acclaimed debut EP, Rite Of Ascension, followed by numerous shows all over Europe alongside acts such as AHAB and many more. Fornjot, the band’s first full-length album released in 2015 with Napalm Records, gained MAMMOTH STORM the well-deserved, high praise by both fans and critics alike, while pursuing heavy as hell riffs in the name of doom.

Four years later, the band featuring Daniel Arvidsson (also in Draconian) on bass and vocals, drum & organ wizard Emil Ahlman and guitarist Christer Ström return to the scene with their sophomore storm of a mammoth album, Alruna.

Says the band: “It feels great to finally be able to present a release date for our second album. It´s a strong album that clearly holds it´s own identity and shows our natural progression as a band. We´re proud of what we´ve achieved and curious to see how the scene will respond to it.”

Named after the mythical plant Mandragora, Alruna is the enigmatic sequel to the highly appreciated debut album Fornjot. The album holds five new songs sprung from the same source as its predecessor but shows a broader range of expression and a somewhat different sound. The production has a rare deadly punch that animates the progression of MAMMOTH STORM into a new earth shaking experience. The deceptive silence has ceased, the storm is approaching!

My impressions:

“Giants” opens with two interwoven guitars and the music soon gets heavy and ominous. The music falls away and at one stage is on one side only. I always appreciate such use of balance. The lyrics are appropriately guttural, without being unintelligible. The guitar work is driving and distorted and the percussion is understated, but effective. Some of the guitar work borders on the psychedelic and this is done well. This track is over 6 minutes long and much of it is instrumental. The band uses this time to showcase a variety of guitar elements.

“Alruna” starts simply, with one distorted guitar laying the platform for the track. This is soon joined by the other instruments and they establish a dark and driving backdrop for the vocals to commence about 2 minutes in. These are deep, slow and haunting. The track is over 7 minutes long.

“Shores of the Dead” opens with a dense layer of guitars and the bass line is particularly prominent. It’s a slower track that is rich in instrumental segments that has an epic feel about it. The vocal sections have a heavy, troubled air and the guitar work conveys a feeling of madness appropriate to theme of the title of the track. This one is over 7 minutes in duration also.

“Raven Void” is 9 minutes long. A distorted guitar flies in on the left side only, joined soon thereafter by the rest of the instruments in an oddly syncopated arrangement. It’s a slower, driving track that is quite melancholy. It shifts gears between guitar effects, styles and arrangement, but the laconic tempo remains through the track.

“Atra Mors” starts with a distorted guitar and a heavy bass riff, accompanied by vocal snippets. It is slower in tempo again, as it begins it’s 9 minute journey. The template that has been established in other tracks is used again – distorted opening, followed by slow, driving riffs in a considered and purposeful tempo, with extended instrumental sections peppered by vocal sections. I really appreciated the bass line in this one – it’s dark and brooding. The track slowly winds fades away as an appropriate end to the album.

With some tracks being really long, the band elects to share some effective musical elements, with the guitar work being brought to the forefront. It’s done well, but themtracks feel too long. Whilst there is variation between the tracks, there isn’t sufficient engaging variation within the tracks to warrant such length. But, what do I know?! It’s not awful, but it had me zoning out a little.

There’s a good bit to like in these tracks. The vocals are moody and emotional and the guitar work is well executed. The percussion is quite understated and this gives the music an uncomplicated and honest quality. Like all effective art, it conveyed a message of struggle and melancholy well.

The release notes spoke of a ‘rare deadly punch’ to the production. I understand what they mean – the stripped back, heavy and darkly emotional nature of the music fits that description. But, the long nature of the tracks left me a bit punch drunk at times.

5/10

Review by Greg Noble

Gorilla – Treecreeper (2019)

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For their first release since 2007’s Rock Our Souls, Gorilla are certainly making up for lost time, with an album full of intensity and fuzz.  Treecreeper is due for release on June 21st. 

From the moment that Scum of the Earth fires up, Treecreeper instantly becomes an album worth listening to.  Fast and intense, with a vocal sound that is more than just a little reminiscent of Lemmy, this is a sure fire way to get people interested.

Cyclops slows the pace to begin with, and leans into Gorillas stoner and psychedelic roots.  It’s exceptionally well put together, but at the half way point where it really unleashes, it becomes glorious.  Gorilla Time Rock n Roll is the aural embodiment of a band having a great time.  Big and sleazy, and an absolute boat load of fun – with added harmonica solo!

The title track opens with a fuzzy bass riff, instantly calling N.I.B to mind – where it goes from there is special.  For six minutes, we’re treated to a southern, psych-rock masterpiece.   The vocal delivery is muddy and perfect.  Gorilla again unleash their full force in the mid section, and some stellar lead guitar work makes this a fantastic centre piece to an album that I couldn’t dislike if I tried.

Mad Dog builds slowly toward a cacophony of riffs and inspired work from the rhythm section.  It’s near eight minutes in length, but uses its time wisely, and never becomes long in the tooth.  By comparison, Ringo Dingo is shorter, and straight to the point.  Punchy and rocking.

Terror Trip is the bastard child of Motörhead and Black Sabbath, while Last In Line manages to be otherworldly and atmospheric in its opening moments, before becoming a rollicking bluesy groove – another definite highlight.

To finish us off, Gorilla leave us with what could easily be their theme song, Killer Gorilla.  The drumming from Ryan Matthews is perfect here, on what is the shortest track, but possibly the most memorable of Treecreeper.

Gorilla are completely capable of lengthy epics that will take the listener on a journey, and punchier straight forward rock songs – and deliver both in equal shares on this record.  Treecreeper is definitely now in heavy rotation at my house.

9/10

Review by Shayne McGowan

Texas Hippie Coalition – High In The Saddle (2019)

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Texas Hippie Coalition have been around since 2004, releasing their raucous brand of country meets metal.  On their latest, and sixth full length album, High in the Saddle, the band deliver just what we as listeners, have come to expect.

Moonshine opens up the record with the familiar sounds of southern fried riffs, and vocals that are the bastard son of Pantera, ZZ Top and Merle Haggard.  It’s a slow and chugging song that works well.  I actually expected something a little harder to kick us off, but this sets the tone for what is to follow.

Dirty Finger does fire up a bit more.  It’s a little heavier, and the lyrics definitely have more attitude and party vibes.  Bring it Baby follows suit nicely.  Subdued in the verses, building up to huge choruses designed for audience call and response.

Ride or Die is the ballad, driven by piano, but not out of place.  The vocals from Big Dad Ritch are very rough around the edges, which for me, is what makes this work well – adding that “outlaw country” feel.

Tongue Like A Devil is a groovy tune, sure to get your foot tapping.  This has been a pretty decent album thus far.  Far more laid back than previous releases, and while I prefer the Texas Hippie Coalition that we hear on the debut record, this feels like a natural progression.

Why Aren’t You Listening is the first mis-step for me.  It’s not flat out terrible, it just doesn’t stand out against an otherwise pretty strong batch of songs, while Stevie Nicks on the other hand, hooks me right away.  Groovy riffs, possibly the best vocal delivery, and catchy as hell.  An absolute highlight.

Bullseye is the 2019 model of Texas Hippie Coalition at its best.  Leaning further into that outlaw country territory, maybe more than ever before, we’re treated to a great song, and when those guitar solos let rip, it’s glorious.

Tell It From The Ground is a chugging riff-fest, that is hard to ignore.  Certainly the most aggressive moment of the album, making for another highlight.

To finish us off, we have Blue Lights On.  Catchy, anthemic, bouncy and groovy, and a great deal of fun – It’s always good to leave the listener on a high note, and this track doesn’t disappoint.

I did say that I prefer the debut album, but I really do love what this band is becoming with every new release – outlaw country rebels, with a heavy metal edge.  David Allen Coe must love this stuff.

7/10

Review by Shayne McGowan

GranDuca – Beneath Thy Roots (2019)

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What the release notes included:

The upcoming debut album by GRAN DUCA ( featuring members of DRONE ).

What was on their Facebook page:

Dirty and mean, innovative song structures, Germany’s up and coming power mud rock power unit GRAN DUCA are set to release their first full length album this summer, on June 28th!

Recorded live at ‘Institut for Wohlklangforschung’ by Hannes Huke, GRAN DUCA deliver an exotic mix of raw stoner sounds, complex progressive vibes and a healthy dose of classic rock qualities. 70s retro tunes and a heavy 90s groove without platitudes, GRAN DUCA know how to please the old and new school rock fan! Fuzzy and distorted guitars, thick and deep rhythm lines, raw and authentic vocals, the eleven songs of Beneath Thy Roots are same inventive as catchy.

My impressions:

The release notes sounded intriguing and when I looked through the track list I thought that this album was going to either be epic or pretentious.

“Monstrosity” starts with one drum that accelerates rapidly. The deep and complex sound that was promised in the release notes is immediately apparent, with a stop-start distorted riff. The vocals are clear and genre correct. The first track is 7 minutes long and I was prepared for a rambling exercise in self-indulgence. But… it’s groovy. The musical interludes have a laid back, laid bare groove that is engaging. Some really crisp and clever guitar solos weave their way seamlessly through the track.

“Howlin’ Rollin’” keeps the party rolling with an instrumental opening of the same layered guitars, but the vocals take a step sideways into Red Hot Chilli Peppers territory. Great use of the wah pedal gives a real point of difference.

“Open End” begins with a sole distorted and overdriven guitar that lulls you into a false sense of security. Things then get nasty with heavy guitar and another change in vocals to a rough, plaintive style. It’s a track that aurally grabs you and doesn’t let go.

“Fields to Plow” starts with one guitar and in a grand surprise, the vocals are different again. The arrangement of this track is one of 70s storytelling that follows a pattern of cruisy guitar and percussion, overlaid with similar vocals, swapping to a heavier, driven arrangement, then alternating between the two styles.

“Witchwoman” has the initial standalone guitar to kick of proceedings, but this time percussion and rhythm lines steadfastly build as the track progresses. It’s a track about a beguiling witch woman. This is another example of a track that tells a story, one to which we can relate. The track shifts gears a number of times, using changes in tempo and sound to great effect.

“All Hail the Autowagen” drives forward with fast and furious distorted guitars that don’t let up. They get more complex from time to time, with some rhythm and solo work that catches you out – seemingly surfacing from nowhere. Then, you realise they were there all along, but have just been made more prominent. It’s a track that asks why the person can’t be loved by another. In the middle it slows right down and is pared back to be simple percussion and less distorted guitars. With great patience and poise, things slowly muscle up and it drags you along for the ride. It’s a masterfully crafted piece of accumulation to finish the track.

“Fly with Me” is different again – a shorter track for this album at 3:40 – it has a driving arrangement and is a bit more urgent. It’s a track about freedom and living in the moment. It finishes was an awesome exclamation of frustration from the vocalist that they left in. It’s clever.

“House of Fools” has the guitars wading in. The track continues the theme of thick guitar layers – it’s complex without being suffocating. Under 4 minutes again, the track gets down to business early and the vocals are indeed authentic.

“Panta Rhei” wafts in, with acoustic guitar and a monk chant-like backing. It’s an instrumental track of 2 minutes that had me wondering why it was there. It’s pleasant and crisp.

“The Walk” opens with two very different guitar lines – muted on one side and a driven, melody line on the other. It’s a bit of a departure, but a welcome one. This band isn’t frightened to change things up. It’s another 7 minute track that uses a stylish mix of vocal sections and musical interludes to weave a tale.

A calmer vocal approach opens “Blackened Son” and this is accompanied by a rhythm that is reminiscent of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted, Dead or Alive”. The track gets heavier periodically and it slows, thins, speeds up and thickens out throughout.

From the outset, the feel of this album is elusive – at once it felt 70s inspired, 90s driven and it even wouldn’t be out of place as a movie soundtrack.

I didn’t find myself head banging or foot tapping – I was often too drawn into the sound, actively listening, wondering what was going to come next. Most tracks are over 4 minutes, with many over the 6 minute mark. You know that they are that long – they don’t fly by – but they don’t feel bloated. Vocal sections, augmented by instrumental interludes, give the tracks a rich, intricately layered and purposeful feel.

I really enjoyed that the sound is not clean – that it was recorded live is obvious in the way that you can often hear the progressions across the guitar fretboards. It gives a rich, authentic feel to the album.

Some albums talk about being able to satisfy a breadth of listeners by using a variety of styles from different periods of music. What sometimes results is a bland concoction of tracks that draw from the same elements over and over. Not this one – it walks the walk.

I said at the outset that this album was gong to be epic or pretentious.

It was epic.

8/10

Review by Greg Noble

Trapped In Wax #2

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Roadmaster – Sweet Music (1978)

I bought this for one song alone – album opener ‘It Doesn’t Mean A Thing’. With overtones of ELO and Styx, this song is 3 minutes and 23 seconds of absolute pomp rock mastery. So much cool shit going on in it; harmony guitars, string section, sweet harmony vocals and 14 seconds of what could possibly be one of the greatest guitar solos laid to tape. Actually, the 7 second lead up to the solo is fantastic, too, the way everything drops out except for piano so that when the solo kicks in it’s a real air-drum/guitar moment. Guitarist Rick Benick has a Buck Dharma from Blue Oyster Cult vibe, at least on this solo, with a real fluid, almost bouncy feel. I won’t bore you with the rest of the album because I don’t think it’s amazing – couple of OK numbers, but ultimately pretty forgettable. Not ‘It Doesn’t Mean a Thing’, though – every time I chuck that song on I end up playing it at least 5 times in a row. I know you want some trivial type shit, so here ya go; bass player Toby Myers went on to play with John Mellencamp from ’83 til ’98 and Steve Riley from W.A.S.P. and L.A. Guns was Roadmaster’s drummer on the album previous to this –  I bloody love that guy! And now I’ve listened to the song another 4 times. Fuck! Might as well make it an even 10 for the day, I guess.

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AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirty Cheap (1976)

Produced by Vanda & Young

Can you believe their American record company wouldn’t release this version of the album back in ’76? That’s a dirty deed if ever there was one! This album rules and the Australian release is THE definitive version. It’s no Highway to Hell or Powerage, but fuck me – what is?! As far as I’m concerned, this is AC/DC’s most Australian sounding album – rough around the edges but with killer material. Bon Scott’s charisma and personality shine through in every song. His delivery is so idiosyncratic and all the little ad-libs and screams make his vocals absolutely unique. A lot of people hate  the cover art to this, but it’s my favourite of all the AC/DC covers. I used to stare at it for ages as a kid. For some reason I always got the feeling that the pub featured in the art was in Bendigo. I don’t know why – I love all those old pubs in Bendigo and this just looks like one of those old Gold Rush pubs – no frills and no renovations, just rough and stripped back – like this album. One more point about the US version of this that came out in ’81 – it didn’t include ‘Jailbreak’! What friggen genius made that decision? Bloody record companies.

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Siouxsie and the Banshees – The Scream (1978)

Produced by Steve Lillywhite

Outstandingly unique sounding debut album. A little less bleak sounding than the follow-up, Join Hands, however both albums have a dense and oppressive sound thanks to guitarist John McKay and drummer Kenny Morris, who both left after the second album. The Banshees would never sound as claustrophobic after they left. I mean claustrophobic in a good way – it makes for a pretty harrowing listen. There are some moments that hint at pop and traditional song structures, such as the classic ‘Hong Kong Garden’, but there’s a menacing undertone even under the lightest moments on this and the slashing guitar is just relentless. Then there’s Siouxsie herself – another total original with her breathtaking appearance and unmistakable vocal style. Actually, the whole band looked friggen cool as at the time of this album. Influential stuff.

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Survivor – Eye of the Tiger (1982)

37 years later and Eye of the Tiger still remains my favourite song of all time. You know some songs that you love so you play the shit out of them and then after awhile you’re just sick of it? Not this thing – I just never tire of it. I’ve already played it 5 times today and I’ll probably do it another 3 at least. Even without a guitar solo, this is the perfect song. Love that rit-picketing pulsating guitar shit that starts the song off, and then when the main staccato riff comes in with the cymbal grabs – fucken gold and it’s not even the best part of the song. When the drums come in – get outta the way! That’s some serious head-boppin’ shit goin’ on there. The guitar tone mixed with the piano is par excellence – in fact, it sounds so good, it makes me wanna get a piano player in MY fucken band. And the tambourine hit on every second snare hit? WHAT THE FUCK! I’m so friggen excited writing this and listening to it at the same time that my eyes have gone all watery like I’m gunna bloody cry! Soaring harmony guitars in the second verse and then the third verse where the pulsating guitar stops for the first half…and then comes back in for the second half – friggen genius! I love every single second of this song. Fucken Dave Bickler’s vocals! Not as technically proficient as his replacement Jimi Jamison, but he has a soulfulness that makes him my favourite out of the two. The lyrics themselves? An 80s cheese masterpiece. I’m running out of space and I haven’t even gotten past the first song, so I’ll wrap it up quick…the rest of the album is bloody good too! I don’t like the ballad, but Children of the Night, Hestitation Dance, I’m Not That Man Anymore – fuck this album rules. In fact all the Bickler-era albums rule. Sorry Jimi.

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The Jam – All Mod Cons (1978)

Produced by Vic Coppersmith-Heaven

Part of the one-two punch of classic albums – this and the follow-up, ‘Setting Sons’, are superb. Every song is memorable and there’s so much variation in moods. There’s a couple of acoustic ballads and, would you believe, I actually like them – I guess that’s testament to the calibre of Paul Weller’s song writing talent. He was a great storyteller and nowhere more so than on ‘Down in the Tubestation At Midnight’ – everytime I listen to that song I feel sick in the stomach about the bloke and his wife’s plight at the hands of violent turdburgers. Weller was just 19 when he wrote this album – that is also sickening – 19 and you write songs as good as these? Get outta here, wouldya! I remember sitting in my bedroom in the house I was renting in Clayton in 1992 and working out the riff to ‘It’s Too Bad’ – I always had plans to cover it in a band but it just never happened. It was always a case of ‘What Jam song should we do?’ but there were always too many good ones to choose from, so we did none, ha ha.

Written by Karl Mautner.

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Silversun Pickups – Widows Weeds (2019)

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On Saturday, I woke up in the morning and guzzled coffee.  Once I was good and full of caffeine, I went about tidying the garage, mowing the lawns, listened to some new music, watched cartoons with my son… sorry, am I boring you with my mundane schedule?

Honestly, I can see how the above routine could seem boring, but ultimately it’s far more exciting than the new album from Silversun Pickups, which is about the most boring and uninspired release of anything I’ve heard in about 5 years.

From the opening notes of Neon Wound, right through 9 other songs that run for 48 minutes, Widows Weeds is nothing short of dull.

There is potential for something interesting, particularly in the pretty good voice of singer, Brian Aubert, but every time something peaked my interest, I was let down.

The title track has a fairly vibrant opening, but my hopes are dashed again, when it soon settles into another coma inducing snorefest…

I don’t really have anything else to offer for this one, it’s completely bland.

3/10

Review by Shayne McGowan

Roadsaw – Tinnitus the Night (2019)

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Boston based legends, Roadsaw, have returned with their eighth full length album, Tinnitus The Night, and it’s an energetic hard rock record that will be sure to get your head nodding and foot tapping as you listen.

I just finished listening to this record while on a drive, and for me, it was the perfect accompaniment.  Opening up, funnily enough, with Along For the Ride, there is an undeniable swagger to Roadsaws brand of rock that is hard to ignore.  It’s all about the riff for this three piece – the rhythm section rests its head when necessary, but it’s definitely a guitar driven album.

Shake features a huge groove, and brings Craig Riggs’ vocals a little more to forefront.  The chorus puts me in mind of Rob Zombies lyrical cadence.  It’s really great.

Fat Rats is a little slower, with a stoner rock vibe.  In contrast to the previous song, Final Phase picks the pace back up, getting a little sleazier in its delivery, and the lead guitar work is possibly the best on offer.

Peel is one of the longest songs on the record, clocking in just shy of six and a half minutes, but uses its length wisely, incorporating a range of influences.  Knock ‘Em All Down brings back the swagger and sleaze, and becomes a highlight for mine.

Find What You Need follows on perfectly, with more top notch guitar work, and plenty of stoner fuzz – Its easy to see why Roadsaw are the perfect fit to play with the likes of Fu Manchu.

Under the Devils Thumb breaks no new ground, but fits extremely well within the total package, while Midazolam is ambitious and really shows off how talented and underrated Roadsaw actually are.  Throughout its near seven minute length, this track takes us through all of that which defines Roadsaws sound.

Silence is the final track, and through its acoustic and airy delivery, it becomes a highlight for me.  There is a definite 70’s vibe here.

Roadsaw have delivered a really good hard rock album in Tinnitus the Night, one that fits very well within their back catalogue.  Check it out.

7/10

Review by Shayne McGowan