Continuing my trip down memory lane in remembering my days as Rock/Metal critic, I decided to review some of the releases of 2015 I had the opportunity to listen to. Keep in mind these are quick, short reviews based on just one listen. I won’t grade the albums because these are just first impressions and that would be unfair. And you’ll notice there’s hardly a highlight about a song, because as just first impressions, these are also difficult to point out.
Let’s get down to business.
Scorpions – Return to Forever – The Scorpions announced that they were quitting the scene altogether in 2010, after releasing the good Sting in the Tail. However, they released a covers album in 2011 and another unplugged in 2013. Now, they released a new album and will tour to support it. Whether you’re feeling betrayed by them or not the fact is that this new collection of songs is better than their latest batch of originals. According to the band these are tunes that didn’t make the cuts for their 80’s classics like Blackout and Love at First Sting. Now, if these songs didn’t make that cut, it really shows you how high they were riding the wave at that time! This album of dropped songs has the potential of a best of for a lot of bands.
Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase. – I always read a lot about Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson’s talent. However I always saw him as a great producer, especially on those Opeth records. It was not until I read endlessly about how The Raven that Wouldn’t Sing (Steven’s prior release) was so good that I decided to give him a shot. And that paid off. That album is great and when I learned that the new one was even better, I didn’t flinch. And it really is. The songs are great and although extremely progressive, they are never too long or sleep inducing. And there’s also the complex but interesting concept, too complex for explaining in just a few lines. Heavy candidate for making my Top 10 at the end of the year.
Napalm Death – Apex Predator/Easy Meat – The Godfathers of Grind are on a roll for a quarter of a century now. Ever since Harmony Corruption you can’t say a Napalm Death album is bad. They are all great and thoroughly entertaining. What’s more, this is a band that manages to evolve in a genre where this is seen as impossible by those who don’t understand it. Barney Greenway’s lyrics are still acid and critics to all the usual suspects: Capitalism, corporate greed, injustice, media, you name it. You obviously still need a lyric sheet to be able to understand them, but isn’t that what you expected from his growls? If you’re a fan of Grind and Death Metal, you could do a lot worse than to check this one.
Black Star Riders – The Killer Instinct – Black Star Riders deserve all the accolades if only because they have the good sense of choosing another name instead of keep flying under the Thin Lizzy banner. They got rid of a huge burden and became much freer to create. There’s not to say you can’t hear a distinctive Lizzy influence throughout the record (Scott Gorham is there, for Chrissake!) but they do have personality. This record is even better than the already great All Hell Breaks Loose. The opening title-track alone is worth buying this. It’s one of those moments when we know Phil Lynot is in heaven smiling and tapping his foot. A band that didn’t lose (and must never do that) their main influence but managed to find its own voice in a great way.
For now, we stop right here, see you next week for more impressions on 2015 new releases!
Lucifer – Lucifer I
Bell Witch – Four Phantoms
Tribulation – The Children of the Night
Sister Sin – Black Lotus
Renaissance – Symphony of Light
Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal” winner of the NABE Pinnacle Awards 2014 Fall edition.
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