Friday, 28 November 2014

DUST – Tequila Shiver (CD)


I’ve seen this band has been in the starting blocks for quite some time, trying to build up a sort of hype around the upcoming album. Can’t say I usually fall for that, so I kept my expectations at a moderate level. Well, I truly wasn’t prepared to be blown away, but man, I WAS! Already from the opening track “Bad Boy” this Stockholm foursome show they mean business! There’s a pretty strong Badlands aura hovering over this band, and I honestly don’t mind that at all! There’s a band I truly miss. Dust do an impeccable job carrying that torch. Roger Solander has a knife sharp, outstanding rock voice, a bit similar to Ray Gillen when he goes for the high notes, Johan Niskanen’s brutal, crunchy guitar-work is wailing all over the place while bass player Bernt Ek holds the lower frequencies down with heaviness and precision and drummer Örjan “Dr Rock” Englin does his best to keep the Bonham legacy alive, and does really well. I love the way he makes the title track groove with the Bonhamish ghost strokes. This one does owe a bit more to Zeppelin, which Solander also shows vocally. “Stranger” kicks off with a mean, angry riff and then struts off in a cool, groovy way. “Black Dressed Woman” brings us back to Badlands territory with Englin grooving like a beast. “Changing Colours” is a cool bluesy acoustic, also with a Zeppelinish vibe to it. “Keltic Wheel” draws us back into the heavier Zeppelin territory, but only in the verse, I’d say. Dust are by no means any Zeppelin clones, even though the influences are quite clear. They have their personality and they also have the songs to show for. “Lies To Tell” is a prime example of Dust taking on a more personal sound. The riffs rule, Solander sings his ass off and I just love that groovy verse and the crushing chorus. Not really sure about a guitar solo “song”, "Mojo", on an album though, even if Niskanen is a great guitarist. Apart from this one I must say, I love every track on this album! Definitely one of the strongest debut albums this year has had to offer! Highly recommended!
Janne Stark
Country: Sweden
Year: 2014
Label: private
 

BAILEY – Long Way Down (CD)


Nigel Bailey is foremost known for fronting UK melodic rockers Three Lions. This solo album was actually recorded before Three Lions, and I guess with the success of the lions this one was a no-brainer to release. Thank you for that! When Bailey does his own thing there’s a bit more edge to it, heavier guitars and a more power. We already know Nigel’s vocals are outstanding. So, all I can say is - This is a bloody brilliant album! Opener “Feed The Flames” gave me a vibe of Dave Bickler (Survivor) in the vocal delivery, while the song could be a Peterik penned thing, this one is slightly more guitar dominated in its direction. Love that! “In The Name Of The King” kicks off with a powerful detuned guitar riff that immediately catches my attention. Yet, another heavy and melodic hard rocker that just hits me right in the face. The production, by Allesandro del Vecchio is fat and big, yet dynamic. “Dirty Little Secret” reminds me even more of Bickler-era Survivor, which is great in my book. “Bad Reputation” is yet another great, catchy, straight ahead melodic hard rocker. “Stay”, even though it’s a really good song, feels a bit more run-of-the-mill. However that being said, this album’s weakest song is stronger than a lot of today’s albums strongest songs, which says a lot. “Somewhere In Oslo” is the album’s poppy moment, while “Long Way Down” brings back the heavy guitars and pounding rhythms. It makes me think of the same perfect balance of melody and heavy edge guitar riffs that can be found on the outstanding debut by Hardline. No need to go though each song I guess, but deliver the conclusion – this is a damn great melodic rock album and actually the reason I will still go to Frontiers Rock festival next summer! So far, one of my favorites this year! The UK has actually delivered some really strong stuff in that area!
Janne Stark
Country: UK

Year: 2014
Label: Frontiers Records

WHITE TRASH PRESIDENTS – s/t (CD)


If you’re into heavy Swedish sleaze rockers such as Hardcore Superstar, Crazy Lixx and Crashdïet, you simply have to check out the new SweDane unit: White Trash Presidents and I’m sure they will be added to your list. This band’s 8-track debut will hit you like a ton of bricks! With their roots in bands like Starats and Crazy Lixx these four guys takes the best from their previous bands and mix it into something that kicks their background firmly in the ass! “White Trash Presidents” and “One Fuse Left” will hit you like a ton of bricks! The band features former Starrats singer Magnus MP Möller and guitarist Dennis Post, flanked by former Crazy Lixx bassist Loke Rivano and drummer Brion Wekin. “Smack Me Around” is a bit mellower, closer to Enuff Z’nuff, which is ok by me. “Pushin’ Daisies” gets the power machine back in action with its heavy and grinding riffing. Every album needs a ballad, right? Well, I don’t think they do, but when they do they better bring me something that hits me. Well, this one contains two. “Cryin’” starts out pretty cool, but hell does break loose and it becomes a pretty bluesy powerful thing in the end. Nice soloing indeed by Mr Post! “Lovesong” finishes the album and this one is a pretty epic piano ballad with a pretty cool arrangement. I really like this one, indeed! “Lovers & Haters” and “Psycho Dad” also offer the, by now obligatory, punch in the face! The production and sound reminds me quite a bit of Hardcore Superstar, but to be honest White Trash Presidents hit me harder. This is really good stuff!
Janne Stark
Year: 2014
Label: WTP Music (private)
Country: Sweden


AXENSTAR – Where Dreams Are Forgotten (CD)


Swedish power metal band Axenstar have been around for quite some time now. They started out as a cover band back in 1998 and made their first album in 2002. I must say they have evolved quite nicely by each album. Singer Magnus Winterwild started out as the band’s keyboardist, but his decision to become a singer was a really good one as his clean and strong voice fits the slightly progressive power metal perfectly. To be honest, my interest for power metal has more or less vanished the last couple of years, due to over exposure, probably ;-). However, while listening to “When Dreams Are Forgotten” I do realize there’s actually still some good power metal out there as well. The reason why Axenstar slips my through the net for me, is probably because 1. They lean a bit more towards the proggier side, which gives me a vibe of Pagan’s Mind. 2. They skip all the major scale happy lucky sing-a-long choruses that give me the shivers. A great and fat production by the band and Pelle Saether also gives the album a bump in the right direction. Then there are songs like the excellent “Curse Of The Tyrant” which sounds a bit like if you would mix Candlemass and Helloween, power metal with quite doomy riffs. Nice! Not bad at all, especially for a power metal album.
Janne Stark

Year: 2014
Label: Inner Wound
Country: Sweden

LOMMI – Horse (CD)



2013 saw the debut release “Life In Sepia” by Gothenburg brutality trio Lommi. A self-release in paper pocket format. The follow-up has however received a proper release by Rambo Music. The band follows the beaten path with their brick heavy, riff-oriented groovy metal. They sound a bit like a mix of Black Label Society and Pantera, actually not that far from fellows Transport League. Detuned riffs and crude, but still vocals that have enough melody to make it sound melodic. The sound is heavy as concrete with powerful thundering drums, a bass that fills out every crevice and a wall of guitars (even though there’s only one) right in your face. Outstanding production, by Sven Jensen! So far, so good. My only complaint this time is, the songs. They could have had it all going form them if they had only got me with the songs as well. If only a song like “Back Of My Head” had been the low point of the album. I’ve listened through the album three times and there’s unfortunately not one song I remember after wards. Love the sound, love the band, but miss the memorable hooks.
Janne Stark
Country: Sweden

Year: 2014
Label: Rambo Music

CAPTAIN BLACK BEARD – Before Plastic (CD)


I have bit of a hard time deciding what I really think of this album. On one hand it’s a bit too poppy and happy for what I’m mostly into. The opening track “Please Come Home” reminds me of Swedish colleagues The Gloria Story, but I do like the Black Beards better. The song does have some cool intricate moments in the mid section. I’ve however always had a problem with “wooohooohoohooh” singalong vocals. “Somebody” sounds a bit Cheap Trick, which is ok by me, but I think it’s the vocals that lack the attitude that lifts the song for me. It’s by no means bad, just a little too mainstream. “Bad Girl” however is a really nice classic AOR number with a killer chorus and a nice melodic guitar solo. Not sure if the band really needed the lead guitar help of Tommy Denander, Mats Karlsson (220 Volt) and Bruce Kulick, but it is of course some added value. “Music Man” is also a nice melodic hard rocker with a touch of Kiss. There are some tracks that really stick out for me, in a positive way. I really love the riffy, intense hard rocker “Shout”, the boogie-oriented “Life’s What You Make It” and “Takin’ You Out” that also has quite a Kiss sounding pre-verse riff. Despite some moments that are a bit too slick and poppy for yours truly, this album does have its bright moments.
Janne Stark
Year: 2014
Country: Sweden

Label: Dead End Exit

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

FREAK KITCHEN – Cooking With Pagans (CD)


Freak Kitchen, this institute of Swedish retrofuturisticontemporary musical madness and melodic mayhem, is again back with another collection of mind-boggling songs. Lyrically the band’s ironic, cunning and satirical lyrics are the antithesis of Steel Panther. But the similarity is that you sit there and happily sing along to lyrics you would normally not even speak out loud, such as “(Saving Up For An) Anal Bleach”. However, in this case you actually get a second layer that gets you thinking. Think, yes, as a musician I am thinking when I listen to songs like “I Don’t Want To Golf” and the whacky rhythmic things going on, where you as a “normal” listener just groove to the rhythm. Well, don’t be fooled by the easy going surface, there are weird things happening under the surface. It does however surface a bit more in songs like “Mathematics Of Defeat”, which is proggy to the max. Except for the chorus, which is pure pop melodies. I just love the mix of the wackiness and the simple melodies in perfect symbiosis. “Private Property”, written and sung by bassist Christer Örtefors is another cool straight-ahead ditty. There has often been simple yet really cool simple but effective riffs coming out of Mr Eklundh and you get those here as well, just check out opener “Professional Help”, “Come Back To Comeback” and the catchy “Sloppy”. To me this feels like the most even Freak Kitchen since “Spanking Hour”, and this has quite quickly become my favorite since then as well! The only question mark of the album has to be the odd cover of “Goody Goody”, but what the hell… we’ve heard “La Bamba” coming out of this man before so why should I be surprised? All in all this is a damn great album! 
Janne Stark

Year: 2014
Country: Sweden
Label: Thunderstruck