Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Bill Ward (Black Sabbath) - Accountable Beasts (2015)

Genre - Hard Rock / Heavy Metal
Label - Self Released (available through iTunes)
Track listing:
01 - Leaf Killers
02 - Accountable Beasts
03 - Katastrophic World
04 - D.O.T.H.
05 - First Day Back
06 - As It Is In Heaven
07 - Ashes
08 - Straws
09 - The Wall OF Death

So without warning or fanfare, Black Sabbath's legendary original drummer releases his third, and first in eighteen years!), solo album up on the world.
And to be honest, the album sounds exactly as you would expect, with a sound that fits somewhere in between that of his debut (Ward One - Along The Way) and its follow up (When The Bough Breaks).
Opener, Leaf Killers begins with a heavy chugging riff, before piano and orchestration kicks in. A great opener and more importantly a great song.
The albums title track follows, Accountable Beasts. This song really picks up the tempo, and has a loose feel to it, in fact the entire album has a raw garage feel to it, with Bill avoiding the trappings of over producing the tracks, which really brings out the quality of the songs.
Katrastrophic World follows with its menacing atmospheres and doomy riffs. This could have been worked up into a great Sabbath track had the reunion gone to plan!
D.O.T.H is a track that could have fitted well on Ward One - Along The Way. A great song in its own right, but in my opinion the weakest one so far into the album.
Next we have First Day Back, a song with a strange beginning to say the least, funky guitars and sound bites. A great if quirky (in places) song that again would have easily fitted on Ward One.
AS It Is In Heaven is I guess the albums ballad. Its a great song, but as with most tracks on Bill's solo albums, its not quite what you are expecting. I love this song!
Ashes follows with its chugging riffs, but slow melodic vocal. Another great song, that morphs through many tempos and changes before it reaches its conclusion.
Straws is a track that some fans may have heard previously, as I am sure it was made available a few years ago whilst Bill was working on his shelved Beyond Aston project (A project that I pray will one day see the light of day!). Still its a great if rather dark song, another of my favourites.
Finally we have the albums mighty closer, The Wall Of Death, which clocks in at around the ten minute mark. Its a monster, a really great song.
Despite all the recent claims about Bills health issues he plays drums on seven of the nine album tracks, playing alongside long time collaborators, guitarist-keyboardist Keith Lynch, bassist Paul Ill, drummers Ronnie Ciago and Walter Earl and a number of vocalists, including his daughter Emily.

This album proves that there is plenty of life in the Black Sabbath legend, along with vast amounts of creativity it would seem too.

Accountable Beasts is a good honest old Hard Rock album that is well worth checking out.

Vary Highly Recommended!!

Rating - 10/10

Junkyard Choir - Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (2015)

Genre - Hard Rock / Garage Blues
Label - Self Released

Track listing:

01 -Vaya Con Dios
02 - Get It On
03 - Oh Have Mercy
04 - Let The Good Times Roll
05 - Hold Fast
06 - Shake Your Tambourine
07 - Sun Moon Stars
08 - Rehab
09 - The Wolf
10 - Let Your Love Roll In
11 - Sweet Marylou

This one again comes by recommendation of Mr Kyle Vallis and his Unsigned Melodies site, cheers pal!

Junkyard Choir is a two-piece musical powerhouse from Brighton, England (although at times you could be forgiven for thinking that they were from the USA's dirty south!) - a stripped-down garage orchestra of guitar and drums, characterised by gritty melodies and commanded by imperious vocals. Mark Woods and Tom Herbert are purveyors of a restless and dirty blues from south of the borderlands - drenched in rum, and served with lime - this is riot music, road trip rock n roll: the sounds of the desert and the soul of the swamp, forged from hunger and baptised in sweat.
One half Scottish grit, the other half Caribbean spice; Junkyard Choir is a one-hundred-percent south coast blues-grunge explosion. Established in 2014 - and formerly trading as 'Dos Hermanos Locos'.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie is the bands debut album and what a way to introduce yourselves!
A perfect mix of dirty blues and garage rock, that is the best way to describe the way Junkyard Choir sound, with the lead vocals being very reminiscent of NWoBHM legends Samson's one time lead vocalist Nicky Moore, which is no bad thing at all!
There is not a bad track on this album at all, in fact it's quite amazing as to just how good this album sounds considering that Junkyard Choir are just a duo!
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie could be the perfect soundtrack to that road trip that you have always dreamed about taking, just laid back, gritty rock n roll. Songs like Get It On, Oh Have Mercy, Shake Your Tambourine, Rehab and Hold Fast in planting themselves in your brain and forcing you to sing along.
Junkyard Choir are a truly independent band, doing everything, and I mean everything from booking shows, designing and printing merch / flyers to producing their own videos, so show some support!
These guys are really worth checking out!

Very Highly Recommended

Rating - 10/10

FM - Heroes And Villains (2015)

Genre - Melodic Rock / AOR
Track listing:
01. Digging Up The Dirt
02. You’re The Best Thing About Me
03. Life Is A Highway
04. Fire And Rain
05. Incredible
06. Call On Me
07. Cold Hearted
08. Shape I’m In
09. Big Brother
10. Somedays I Only Wanna Rock And Roll
11. I Want You
12. Walking With Angels
Perhaps the most important British Melodic Rock / AOR act of all time, FM may have spent last autumn on a 30th anniversary tour, but they are neither a nostalgia band nor one to let the grass grow under their feet. Two years after a pair of new albums in Rockville I and II, and ahead of yet another tour, they are back with another record of new material entitled "Heroes And Villains".
Simply put, "Heroes And Villains" is probably the most overtly commercial of the albums they have recorded since reforming, possibly even since the outstanding 1989’s ‘Tough It Out’.
Opener "Digging Up The Dirt" has a shuffling groove to it driven by a great big guitar riff underpinning the track courtesy of Jim Kirkpatrick whose guitar work on everything from Metropolis to date has been phenomenal.
Steve Overland’s vocals need no comment other than to say that the smoothest set of pipes in melodic rock sound as strong as ever allowing the listener to settle into the mood of the album within the first 30 seconds.
All the trademark FM styles are there. Merv Goldsworthy and Pete Jupp make everything sound big, while Jem Davis’ keyboard sound is fresh and modern.

The ultra-catchy follower "You’re The Best Thing About Me" can be compared with Def Leppard-Hysteria era, although Steve Overland’s ever superb lead vocals are vastly superior. Later, the lush ballad "Incredible" is another showcase for the warmth and emotion the frontman brings to his singing.
"Life Is A Highway" sneaks a little bit of American Girls from FM's brilliant debut into the mix just to keep the long term fans happy. "Fire And Rain" brings in a classic melodic rock groove with some 'whoah oahs' thrown in for good measure at the beginning of the track.
Commerciality should not be equated with fluffy keyboards though as the guitar of Jim Kirkpatrick is pushed well forward in the mix and his concise solos suit the music perfectly.
Much of the album has the feel, if not the budget, of a Mutt Lange-produced album and indeed "Shape I’m In" could be a missing outtake from Bryan Adams’ ‘Waking Up The Neighbours’.
"Cold Hearted" is virtually the only representative of the more melodic bluesy sound of early Nineties FM, adding a touch of grit to the highly polished fare elsewhere like the bright and breezy "Call On Me".
"Big Brother" offers something different both lyrically and with its slower pace and haunting keyboards at the beginning and end, and "Sometimes I Only Wanna Rock n Roll" has the raunchy Seventies feel of Brishish scene.
Now of course, no FM album is complete without the ballads. There are tracks littered throughout FM’s history that other bigger AOR acts would have loved to have written and the aforementioned "Incredible" ticks all of the boxes that denotes a future fan favourite as well.
They save the best for last though and the album plays out with "Walking With Angels", opening with soft acoustic guitar playing, beautiful harmonising from the band and Steve doing, well, simply what Steve does best. This song deserves to be huge and may be one of the best tracks the band have ever written.
Well it's 2015 and here we are gearing up for a new FM album, and sometimes you just gotta love the music world, because during their initial period of rocking all over the world and after the wilderness years of 1996 - 2007, it is amazing that the band continue to release great music.
"Heroes And Villains" cements their reputation as the UK’s foremost exponents of Melodic Rock, and delivers, as usual, very polished & slick quality stuff.

Highly Recommended.

Rating - 9/10

HELLOWEEN - Battle's Won (Single) (2015)

Genre - Heavy Metal
Track listing:
01 - Battle's Won
02 - Lost In America

One of the most influential and internationally successful acts of the global metal scene, Germans HELLOWEEN celebrates their 30th anniversary with the release of their 15th studio album 'My God-Given Right', due out on June 1.
On April 17th, HELLOWEEN will release the hymn “Battle’s Won”, which is the first single off of the album. A limited quantity of the special edition 2-track vinyl single will be will be available.
My God-Given Right was recorded between October 2014 and February 2015 at the band’s very own MiSueno Studio in Tenerife with long-term producer Charlie Bauerfeind handling production and recording duties.
The enchanting artwork of the main album was once again created by graphic guru Martin Häusler (Bon Jovi, Queen, Gotthard).
The band's first self-titled EP was released in 1985, making their new album My God-Given Right the celebratory marker for their impressive 30 year career.
And judging the quality of this 2-track single, they are better than ever as unit. Production is bombastic, brilliant.

Rating - 9/10

RAVEN - ExtermiNation (2015)

Genre - Hard Rock / Heavy Metal / NWoBHM
Label -

Track listing:

01 - Intro / Destroy All Monsters
02 - Tomorrow
03 - Its Not What You Got
04 - Fight
05 - Battle March / Tank Treads (The Blood Runs Red)
06 - Feeding The Monster
07 - Fire Burns Within
08 - Scream
09 - One More Day
10 - Thunder Down Under
11 - No Surrender
12 - Golden Dawn
13 - Silver Bullet
14 - River Of No Return
15 - Malice In Geordieland (Bonus track)

Raven? Now there is a blast from the past!
If by the year 2015 you haven’t heard Raven then it is time to question your Rock credentials. Formed in Newcastle way back in 1974, the band released a triple whammy of cult classic heavy albums Rock Until You Drop, Wiped Out and All for One between 1981 and 1983.
On “ExtermiNation”, they still sound the same, but despite of being an exercise of nostalgia or 'too much old men to rock', the result is fun, fun, fun.
And they are damn fine a their playing, wrapped by a very good recording production.
There are a lot of speed, power and melodic metal bands out there that owe a debt to Raven for paving the way. The band have had one line-up change since 1981 which was in 1987 when drummer Joe Hasselvander (Pentagram, Death Row) joined the band, and they have never compromised their sound. The guys have come a long way since "Don't Need Your Money"!
Raven is traditional heavy metal, at this point, named 'classic rock'.
Yeah, you have pounding drums, screaming guitars and head thumping bass all topped off with John Gallagher’s unmistakable voice.
“ExtermiNation” is the band's 13th studio album and their first in 6 years, in the interim they have relentlessly toured and recently hooked up again with old sparring partners Metallica for some mega-dome shows in South America.
Due the excellent production for this type of music, on “ExtermiNation” Raven sounds younger, fresher, and more merciless than ever. By employing the formula of hooks and fun), the album just feels incredibly energetic and alive.
If there is one thing that Raven never forgets – it’s that all real Rock music begins with a hook to make it great. It takes more than just 'heaviness', though “ExterminNation” has its fair share of that.
Most of all, they always keep it fun with a healthy dose of rock ‘n’ roll. This formula has endured for the last 35 years and has been the basis for some of the most consistently iconic material in the history of heavy metal. Stacked with amazing hits like “All for One,” “Rock Until You Drop,” “Hell Patrol,” “Mind Over Metal” – most bands would have tried to pass off a half-assed album only to rely on the past glory to garner fan forgiveness.
With tracks like "Fight", "Scream", "Thunder Down Under" and "Feeding the Monster" Raven smashes the metal right in your face in the same classic fashion that the band has done in virtually the entire time heavy metal existed – complete with the auditory activated smell of leather, denim, and sweat and the sensory propagated studs to chin that comes with every exhausting live performance.
“One More Day” highlights Mark Gallagher’s guitar prowess with a tapped intro before a big fat juicy riff comes in for the kill. This song contains some great runs with the band sounding tighter than ever; how John Gallagher gets those high pitched screams nowadays is commendable, many of his peers can only squawk at this stage of the game.
The album is a mix of these slower mid paced rib crackers and the faster material which is more akin to their earlier material. Hasslevander puts in a sterling performance throughout with his trademark heavy hitting and solid double bass.
The production in “ExtermiNation” is big and bold with a bucket load of bottom end, but more importantly it is full of songs - classic heavy metal songs, nothing more nothing less.
If I was to aim criticism at this record, it would be the length and for some folk that may prove a turnoff and they may not give the songs all a fair chance. Some bands try to over complicate things, Raven don’t – they do what they have always done – delivered a hammer to the face.
Go buy and find out what real fun heavy metal is!

Rating - 10/10

Romeo's Daughter - Spin (2015)

Genre - Melodic Rock / AOR
Label -
Track listing:
01. Touch
02. Already Gone
03. Love will come to those who wait
04. Enemy
05. Didn't see it coming
06. Radio
07. Tonight
08. All Because of you
09. Perfect Plan
10. Tall Buildings

After their very good comeback album in 2012, the quintet fronted by the stunning Leigh Matty (voted Number 5 Lady Rock Singer of all time in Classic Rock / AOR Magazine) returns with a new studio record to be released tomorrow April 20 entitled “Spin”, that will excite any fan of the genre.
The new album includes all the traditional elements of the band, only updated. They are delivered in a more 'modern', matured way so to speak. It's been 26 whole years since the band's classic debut and the band has grown up!
But don't worry, "Spin" is a glorious mix of melodic rock and AOR and all with the pure velvet tones of the gorgeous Leigh Matty leading the way.
The opening tune "Touch" exactly paints what Romeo's Daughter is in 2015; rockier, 'darker' but with the melody in front row. Craig Joiner's jabbing guitar riff and Leigh's deep vocal in the first verse set the tone before bursting into a huge chorus where keyboards add to the mix in great stabs.
"Already Gone" starts on a chug along riff before a cracking pace is set before a massive multi layered chorus. The excellent mix shines with Craig's riff to the fore but you marvel at Ed Poole's bass work that underpins the whole tune.
"Love Will Come To Those That Wait" is just a brilliant power ballad and it's movin' to the band's earlier works.
"Enemy" has a chorus line that will make you whistle it for days while "Tonight" seems like an edgy rocker taken from the band's second album.
In "All Because Of You" we have a catchy uptempo song with a beautiful chorus and a sweet melody to die for. Smoky Leigh vocal and classy keys on this one.
"Didn't See You Coming" begins on a picked acoustic guitar on a song that is Romeo's Daughter unplugged. Leigh's vocal soars in the chorus to new heights and during the verse is quite hazy in comparison. I'm sure it would be a huge hit if radio picked it up.
What you can expect from a song called "Radio" done by a melodic rock band? An ultra-catchy track. The chorus is fantastic with the lyrics saying 'give me guitars' and a melody that I will sing out loud. It has a great pump and a lengthy Craig guitar solo takes it to new altitude.
"Perfect Plan" and "Tall Buildings" finish the album in style. The former all stop start guitar riff and a big chorus, the latter built on an early drum pattern plus round bass lines that then builds into the chorus where Matty's vocal whoa whoah's fit snuggly.
Romeo's Daughter have matured and while the overall sound is more 'edgy', this new album is packed with a bunch of feel-good, summer-ready tunes plenty of melody and catchy choruses.
"Spin" sees Romeo's Daughter embracing their past but also look to the future with an album that equally will delight old & young Melodic Rock aficionados. Catch them on tour with FM next month.

Highly Recommended.
Rating - 9/10

WhiskeyDick - Welcome To Yeehaw County (2015)

Genre - Southern Rock / Country / Hillbilly / Acoustic
Label - Stampede Press Uk
Track listing:
01. Redemption
02. Train Robbin, Gun Totin, Dope Smokin, Guitar Pickin, Mother Fuckin, Good Time Band.
03. Yee Haw
04. Breathin A New Life
05. Help
06. 18  Wheels Of Life
07. My Prison State Of Mind
08. Drunk As Hell
09. Devil’s Eyes
10. Gun Totin’ Rebel Son
11. Murder Love Song
12. BlackTooth Grin
13. Fallen Heroes Remastered

"Texan duo WhiskeyDick have given anyone stumbling across them some very subtle hints as to what they may sound like. If the album art featuring jars of moonshine, trucker hats and a confederate flag doesn’t quite give it away, maybe the albums title will. These two guys play good old-fashioned, redneck-tinged acoustic country rock. You can pretty much smell the bourbon (and weed) that undoubtedly went into the making of this record."
Now the above statement may sound a little negative to some, but its not. These guys play acoustic driven southern hill billy blues with their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks. But they take what they do very seriously, and all thirteen songs on offer here show that. The songs are very well crafted, and by no means throw away, despite the tongue n cheek lyrics. Now I love my down tuned overdriven guitars as much a the next guy, but this album really has taken me by surprise. As I previously said, its acoustically driven, yet as powerful as any full blown band album out there. Help is just brilliant, sensitive and touching, Redemption and Train Robbin... are pure southern fun.
These guys are very obviously enjoying themselves and you are left in no doubt that that’s what you will be doing also. The whole album gallops along and takes you on an exciting journey, from gentle acoustic to breath taking riff and solo offerings mixed with a gritty cowboy presence. Outstanding tracks for me were ‘Help’ with its beautiful melodic raspy vocals, delicate acoustic and heartfelt passion. ‘Black Tooth Grin’ with its very obvious Dimebag Darrel tribute.
Welcome To Yeehaw County isthe perfect soundtrack to a night of booze and BBQ.

Well worth checking out!

Rating - 9/10