Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Graveyard - Innocence & Decadence (2015)

Genre - Hard Rock / Stoner / Psychedelic
Label - Nuclear Blast

Track listing:

01 - Magnetic Shunk
02 - The Apple & The Tree
03 - Exit 97
04 - Never Theirs To Sell
05 - Can't walk Out
06 - Too Much Is Not Enough
07 - From A Hole In The Wall
08 - Cause & Defect
09 - Hard - Headed
09 - Far Too Close
10 - Stay For A Song

Swedish stoner's Graveyard return with their fourth release in the form of Innocence & Decadence.
This is an interesting album because although opening track, 'Magnetic Shunk' begins like a run of the mill Stoner track, it quickly switches gear into a bluesy romp, and from then on in the album keeps the listener guessing. The musicianship is tight throughout this album, and the songs rarely falters as it goes off in spontaneous tangents and adventures, taking the listener along for the ride. I imagine that most of this album was written the old fashioned way, whilst jamming together (although I could obviously be wrong!)
Highlights include, ' Exit 97', 'Too Much Is Not Enough' and 'Stay For A Song'.
Graveyard are an interesting band, well worth keeping an eye on!

Rating - 8/10

David Gilmour - Rattle That Lock (2015)

Genre - Hard Rock / Progressive / Blues
Label - Columbia

Track listing:

01. 5 A.M.
02. Rattle That Lock
03. Faces Of Stone
04. A Boat Lies Waiting
05. Dancing Right In Front Of Me
06. In Any Tongue
07. Beauty
08. The Girl In The Yellow Dress
09. Today
10. And Then...

So this is what last years final album from Pink Floyd, The Endless River, could have sounded like!
Damn, has Mr Gilmour been a little greedy and kept all of his best ideas for his solo album? I think so, as this David Gilmour's forth solo album is absolutely fantastic!
On his first project since Pink Floyd put an end to their long career with The Endless River, Gilmour continues on the path the band laid down decades ago with a concept album about a typical day in the life of a middle-aged man coming to terms with loss, mortality and his varied musical influences.
Written by Gilmour with his wife, Polly Samson, "Rattle That Lock" is both autobiographical and meditative, a look at a life filled with the usual shares of love, hope, hurt and joy.
On “Today,” which comes near the end of the narrative, it’s all pretty much summed up with a Floyd-funky rhythm buoying a live-in-the-moment sentiment. It’s not heavy, and it never goes as deep as Pink Floyd classics like The Dark Side of the Moon or The Wall, but for the 69-year-old Gilmour, it’s where life has taken him.
The journey to this place is what "Rattle That Lock" is all about.
There are three instrumental cuts, which float somewhere between the ethereal and the concrete, but it’s the songs featuring Gilmour’s voice that invite, for better or worse, the Pink Floyd comparisons.
The soaring title track recalls the band’s ’80s and ’90s work, when they were trying to carve out a new identity following Waters’ departure. It's one of my favourites on the CD, and worth the purchase alone.
The biting guitar that caps 'Dancing Right in Front of Me' is vintage Gilmour, and 'Today' chugs along with Animals-era punch.
Although largely steering away from anything too arena-rock, 'In Any Tongue' is steeped in grandeur and sentiment. It's also one of the few orchestrated and epic solos - no impromptu blues here, but the full Gilmour-arsenal of wailing bends and climatic crescendos.
Album closer 'And Then' is delicate, flowing and understated; a whimsical and evocative piece of music that fellow guitarists can only wish to create with such simple techniques.
The whole track has a sense of finality, ending with a fingerpicked nylon string guitar over swelling strings that gently fades out. Simply awesome!
"Rattle That Lock" has some - obvious - Pink Floyd flashes, but it's pure David Gilmour. It's not as majestic or epic as his work with the famous British band, but following the somewhat exasperated exhale of The Endless River, it’s about as close to a classic Pink Floyd album fans are going to get these days.

Highly Recommended!

Rating - 10/10

Devil City Angels - S/T (2015)

Genre - Hard Rock
Label - Century Media Records

Track listing:

01. Numb
02. All My People
03. Boneyard
04. I'm Living
05. No Angels
06. Goodbye Forever
07. Ride With Me
08. All I Need
09. Back To The Drive
10. Bad Decisions

Devil City Angels are yet another super-group, this one featuring the talents of former L.A. GunsTracii Guns on guitar, Quiet Riot‘s Rudy Sarzo on bass, Poison‘s Rikki Rockett on drums and Brandon Gibbs (Cheap Thrill) on vocals.
This their self titled debut follows hot on the heals of last years 'The Devil EP'.
The album is a great mix of classic and contemporary hard rock. The songs are incredibly melodic, catchy and memorable which should come as no surprise when you consider the calibre of the musicians involved here!
Devil City Angels launched the album with “Boneyard” which hit the mark sonically and lyrically. Brandon Gibbs has a powerful soulful voice and a brilliant sense of melody that sets him apart from his contemporaries. The best example of this is heard on “Boneyard,” “I’m Living” and what could quite possibly be one of the best ballads in years, “Goodbye Forever.”
The most unique track is “All I Need” which features Beatlesesque chorus and a super sappy, poppy feel to it — yet it works. Devil City Angels also covered the Mike Chapman penned “Back to the Drive” which was made famous by Suzie Quatro, and the result is very good.
Devil City Angels have come up with an album that is guaranteed to satisfy anyone who is looking for some solid hard rock music, played by guys who actually know what they are doing. There is not a bad song on this disc. Are Devil City Angels going to set the world on fire or re-write the Rock n' Roll history books, unlikely, but they are gonna play some great rock music and provide hours of enjoyment for millions of rock fans all over the world!

Well Worth Checking Out

Rating - 9/10

Hollywood Vampires - S/T (2015)

Genre - Hard Rock / Classic Rock
Label - UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Track listing:

01. The Last Vampire
Narration: Sir Christopher Lee
Keyboards and Sound Design: Johnny Depp, Bob Ezrin and Justin Cortelyou

02. Raise the Dead
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen, Bruce Witkin
Drums: Glenn Sobel
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Background Vocals: Alice Cooper, Tommy Henriksen, Bob Ezrin

03. My Generation
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Drums: Zak Starkey
Background Vocals: Tommy Henriksen,

04. Whole Lotta Love
Vocals: Brian Johnson, Alice Cooper
Guitars: Joe Walsh, Johnny Depp,
Orianthi, Tommy Henriksen, Bruce Witkin
Harmonica: Alice Cooper
Drums: Zak Starkey
Bass: Kip Winger
Programming: Tommy Henriksen
Backing Vocals: Alice Cooper, Tommy Henriksen

05. I Got A Line
Vocals: Alice Cooper, Perry Farrell
Guitars: Joe Walsh, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen, Bruce Witkin
Drums: Abe Laboriel Jr.
Bass: Kip Winger
Background Vocals: Perry Farrell, Tommy Henriksen, Bob Ezrin

06. Five to One/Break on Through
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Robby Krieger, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen
Drums: Abe Laboriel Jr.
Farfisa: Charlie Judge
Bass: Bruce Witkin

07. One/Jump Into the Fire
Vocals: Alice Cooper, Perry Farrell
Guitars: Robby Krieger, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen, Bruce Witkin
Drums: Dave Grohl
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Keyboard: Bob Ezrin, Bruce Witkin
Programming: Tommy Henriksen

08. Come and Get It
Vocals: Paul McCartney, Alice Cooper
Guitars: Joe Perry, Johnny Depp
Piano: Paul McCartney
Drums: Abe Laboriel Jr.
Bass: Paul McCartney
Background Vocals: Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, Abe Laboriel Jr., Bob Ezrin

09. Jeepster
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Joe Perry, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen,
Drums: Glenn Sobel
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Programming: Tommy Henriksen
Background Vocals: Bob Ezrin

10. Cold Turkey
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Joe Perry, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen
Drums: Glenn Sobel
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Programming: Tommy Henriksen
Background Vocals: Alice Cooper, Tommy Henriksen

11. Manic Depression
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Joe Walsh, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen
Drums: Zak Starkey
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Piano: Bob Ezrin

12. Itchycoo Park
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen
Drums: Glenn Sobel
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Programming: Tommy Henriksen
Background Vocals: Alice Cooper, Tommy Henriksen, Bob Ezrin

13. School’s Out/Another Brick in the Wall pt. 2
Vocals: Alice Cooper, Brian Johnson
Guitar: Slash, Joe Perry, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen, Bruce Witkin
Drums: Neal Smith
Bass: Dennis Dunaway
Background Vocals: Kip Winger, Bob Ezrin

14. Dead Drunk Friends
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Johnny Depp, Bruce Witkin,
Drums: Glenn Sobel
Programming: Tommy Henriksen
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Piano: Bruce Witkin, Bob Ezrin
Background Vocals: Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen, Bruce Witkin, Bob Ezrin

The HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES, are a super-group started by Alice Cooper, actor Johnny Depp and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry. This their self titled debut album is produced by legendary Bob Ezrin, features appearances by Paul McCartney, Brian Johnson, Slash, Duff McKagan and Kip Winger, among others.
Most of the album’s 14 tracks are covers, including as a mashup of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall pt. 2”, although there are a few originals included too. “Raise the Dead” and “Dead Drunk Friends” were both co-written by Johnny Depp and Alice Cooper alongside producer Bob Ezrin, who also provides backing vocals as well as playing keyboards. “The Last Vampire”, meanwhile, features narration from the legendary late Christopher Lee.
Work on the album began in 2012 and took two years to finish.
The project is a salute to Cooper's hard partying L.A. crew in 1973/1974, which included Keith Moon, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson, Micky Dolenz and others. A plank of wood featuring the legendary musicians’ signature is immortalized at Hollywood's Rainbow Bar & Grill in the club's upper level, known as 'Over The Rainbow'.
Clothing designer John Varvatos created the packaging which resembles an antique book, while the booklet features liner notes from original Hollywood Vampire and Elton John’s writing partner Bernie Taupin.
Other classics covered by the band includes The Who's "My Generation", Badfinger's "Come And Get It", Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love", John Lennon's "Cold Turkey", T. Rex's "Jeepster", Small Faces' "Itchycoo Park" and Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression".
It's all good stuff, cleverly produced by Ezrin combining the classic rock vibe with an updated, vibrant production.
This really is an album that is not to be missed. Its a pity that there isn't more original material, but with any luck the guys may have had enough fun making this album to consider a second? Lets hope so because this really is good stuff, but then again when you consider the calibre of the musicians involved, then it should be shouldn't it.

Very Very Highly Recommended!

Rating - 10/10

The Hollywood Vampire's -
Alice Cooper – vocals, harmonica, backing vocals
Tommy Henriksen – guitar, backing vocals, programming
Johnny Depp – guitar, backing vocals, keyboards
Dennis Dunaway – bass
Kip Winger – bass
Duff McKagan – bass
Bob Ezrin – piano, keyboards, backing vocals
Charlie Judge – keyboards
Perry Farrell – vocals, backing vocals
Brian Johnson– vocals
Paul McCartney – vocals, piano, bass
Christopher Lee – vocals
Bruce Witkin – guitar, bass, keyboards
Robby Krieger – guitar
Orianthi – guitar
Joe Perry – guitar
Slash – guitar
Joe Walsh – guitar
Neil Smith – drums
Glen Sobel – drums
Dave Grohl – drums
Zak Starkey – drums
Abe Laboriel Jr. – drums, backing vocals

Slayer - Repentless (2015)

Genre -  Heavy Metal / Thrash Metal
Label - Nuclear Blast

Track listing:
01. Delusions Of Saviour
02. Repentless
03. Take Control
04. Vices
05. Cast The First Stone
06. When The Stillness Comes
07. Chasing Death
08. Implode
09. Piano Wire
10. Atrocity Vendor
11. You Against You
12. Pride In Prejudice

This month saw the return of one of the titans of the heavy metal and thrash genre's, namely that of Slayer, who released their first new studio album since the tragic death of guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who sadly passed away prematurely two years ago. Are or can Slayer still be Slayer without one of their integral components and songwriters?  Well to be totally honest, yes!
First let me just say, that this the new album, Repentless, has the best production that I can recall any Slayer album having, the songs are crisp and clear, and packed full with power courtesy of one Mr. Terry Date. (the Wildhearts / Pantera etc.).
Now as for the songs themselves?
Repentless opens with a the instrumental, 'Delusions of Saviour', which is just so unmistakably Slayer that any doubts that the listener may have dissolve away quickly. Kerry King and Tom Araya are in fine form here, providing blistering riffs and brutal lyrics. Just check out the refrain from 'Pride In Prejudice', "Don't give me your power bullshit" or 'Vices', "A little violence is the ultimate drug....lets get high!"
Repentless sees Slayer pulling no punches at all. The title track is a fast as anything that they have ever recorded. New guitarist Gary Holt (Exodus) does a great job. The album features a touching tribute to late guitarist Jeff Hanneman in the form of Jeff penned 'Piano Wire' which was apparently one of the first songs written for the World Painted Blood album.
Repentless is a great album packed full of great Slayer songs, that also sees Slayer in fine form. Is it as good as South Of Heaven, Hell Awaits or even Seasons In The Abyss? Only time will tell, but I honestly believe that this is the best possible album  that Slayer could have put out.
Welcome back guys!

Well Worth Checking Out!

Rating - 9/10

Ricky Warwick - Stairwell Troubadour (2015)

Genre - Rock / Acoustic
Label - Pledge Music

Track listing:

01 - You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) (Dead or Alive cover)
02 - Oops!...I Did It Again (Britney Spears cover)
03 - Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochran cover)
04 - 1000 Dollar Car (The Bottle Rockets cover)
05 - Cocaine Blues  (Johnny Cash cover)
06 - I Don't Want To Grow Up (The Ramones cover)
07 - I Fought The Law (The Bobby Fuller Four cover)
08 - Burning Love (Elvis Presley cover)
09 - Jesus Loves You....But I Don't (The Almighty cover)
10 - Wrathchild (Iron Maiden cover)

So Ricky Warwick returns with his fourth album release of 2015! (the other three are the rather excellent Black Star Riders 'Killer Instinct', and the previous two solo albums, 'Hearts On Trees' and 'When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchel Sang The Blues)').
This album, The Stairwell Troubadour came about as a result of just how well Ricky's previous pledge campaign went over, especially the exclusive performances of songs from the stairwell, hence the albums title!
OK so this album is a covers album, but its a cover album with a unique twist. Firstly as part of its pledge campaign, the fans (or pledgers) got to vote upon what songs would actually be covered for the album, and secondly, Ricky and crew manage to put their definitive stamp upon each of the songs presented here, whilst still managing to remain true to the spirit or essence of the original.
First up the album opens with the Dead or Alive classic, 'You Spin Me Round'. This song features the talents of Ricky on guitar and vocals and Tim Boland on  Electric Guitars, Keyboards and Percussion. Here Ricky really manages to capture the energy and essence of the song, especially with the panning effect on the chorus!
Next up we have a song that Ricky has performed many times at his acoustic live shows, once again Ricky handles the guitar and vocals with Tim Boland again providing the drums. They manage to pull off a really rocking version of Britney Spears' 'Oops! I did it Again' in the process, especially with the electrified midsection!
The cover of the Eddie Cochran classic, 'Summertime Blues' follows, again with Ricky handling all guitars and vocals with Tim Boland once again providing drums and percussion. Here they really do manage to bring this old classic to life, injecting the song with bucket loads of energy. I really love this  track!
Next up we have Ricky's take on The Bottle Rockets classic '1000 Dollar Car'. Again this track is just a two man affair with Ricky providing all guitars and vocals and Tim Boland providing  the Hammond, Vibes and Snare. They guys really do manage to capture the heart and soul of this song, with its seeming to pour out emotion. Another great song. The guys tackle a Johnny Cash classic next with their take on 'Cocaine Blues'. Once again Ricky handles all the guitars and vocals and Tim Boland provides the Upright Bass. Its a great cover and proof positive that Ricky could well be the modern day Johnny Cash!
Up next is the guys take on The Ramones classic, 'I Don't Want To Grow Up'. Once again Ricky covers all the guitars and vocals with Tim Boland providing the songs percussion. Here the guys really do manage to capture the angst of the original, whilst managing to show a certain amount of restraint and slowing the song just enough to make the marching beat work. Love it!
Next Ricky tackles The Bobby Fuller Four classic ' I Fought The Law' in true solo fashion. I love this cover of this anthemic song. Ricky really does seem to tap into the songs soul here!
Ricky tackles the Elvis Presley classic 'Burning Love' again in true solo fashion. A great performance it is too!
Next up we have a strange one, where Ricky covers one of Ricky's own classic's in the form of The Almighty classic, 'Jesus Loves You....But I Don't'. Now this has always been one of my favourite Almighty songs. Here Ricky manages to capture the real power of the song with Ricky once again covering all vocals and guitars and this time Tim Boland providing the Piano and Percussion. The song manages to keep building in tension and atmosphere without ever bursting into that fill blown rock big band section, instead using the piano to provide the power. Absolutely cracking version of the song, quite possibly even better than the original!
The album closes out with a cover of the Iron Maiden classic 'Wrathchild'. Here Ricky who provides all the songs vocals is joined by Mark Thwaite who provides all of the guitars within the song. Its so surprising that this Iron Maiden, famous for its angst power and energy, works so well in an acoustic format!
Ricky and Mark really do manage to capture and convey the true essence of the song here!

Stairwell Troubadour is a great covers album, with Ricky showcasing just how much he understands the songs that he is covering.

Very, very highly recommended!

Rating - 10/10

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Richards / Crane - Richards / Crane (2015)

Genre - Rock / Melodic Rock / Acoustic
Label - Pledge Music

Track listing:

01 - Homeward
02 - Everyone
03 - Here In The Light
04 - Black & White (Feat Myles Kennedy)
05 - Someday
06 - Lost
07 - Waiting On A Prayer
08 - Rainy Day
09 - Don't Cry For Me
10 - World Stand Still

Richards/Crane is a brand new project from Ugly Kid Joe front man Whitfield Crane and Another Animal guitarist Lee Richards. This their self titled debut album is released exclusively through pledge music as part of the pledge campaign for Ugly Kid Joe's latest album, 'Uglier Than They Used Ta Be'.
This album is about as far away from the Ugly Kid Joe release as Whitfield Crane could safely get! In place of raucous rockers we have acoustic driven melodic tunes, which again display an accomplished maturity within their song writing that only comes with experience.
Opener 'Homeward' has a laid back melancholy feel, driven along by the vocal melody and acoustic guitar. 'Everyone' is once again propelled along by the acoustic guitar, only this time augmented by subtle strings. 'Here In The Light' sees the gentle acoustic rhythms textured with some beautifully played electric guitar melodies. 'Black & White', which I guess is the albums lead single, features the vocal talents of a certain Mr Myles Kennedy, and proves to be a great song and solid introduction to the project.
'Someday' has a moody atmospheric feel to the music to accompany its positive lyrics. Quite possibly my favourite song on the album. 'Lost' is up next and is once more a beautiful song, this time the textured vocals driving the song, with a subtle string section augmentation. 'Waiting On A Prayer' quite possibly has the most rock feel to it, yet its still acoustically driven and for some reason it has a Crash Test Dummies feel to it!
'Rainy Day' is another beautiful and delicate little track, as is 'Don't Cry For Me'. Album closer 'World Stand Still' is a really great song.

On this self titled debut from Richards / Crane Lee Richards guitar playing is sublime, restrained and soulful, full of feeling, and Whitfield Crane is in fine voice.

Very Highly Recommended!

Rating - 10/10