Continuing my reviews of 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.
Europe – War of Kings – It’s hard to fathom that Europe’s return happened more than ten years ago now. I was lucky enough to witness of their reunion concerts at Sweden Rock Fest in 2004. It was brilliant. Their first two albums after coming back (Start from the Dark and Secret Society) were correct and then they decided to honor their influences in Last Look at Eden. This experience proved to be extremely successful on their last album, Bag of Bones and they are keeping it on this new one. Influences of Zeppelin, Purple, UFO and Thin Lizzy permeates every pore of this new record making it look like it was recorded by a seventies band (and I mean that in the best way possible). The record has even an instant hit in “Days of Rock and Roll”.
Secrets of the Sky – Pathway – There’s a new trend in Extreme Metal today and that is to mix Black Metal with a lot of Progressive, Psychedelic, Post-Rock sounds. Sometimes the thing gets just too messy, the songs became very long and you just can’t stand it. It’s not the case here. The vocals are good and the arrangements are so well-done that you don’t feel the songs are dragging although they are rather long. It’s hard to actually describe it but think a more Metal Hammers of Misfortune mixed up with atmospheres harking back to Pink Floyd, Genesis and Sunn 0))) and you’re halfway there.
Beth Hart – Better than Home – I’m totally biased in analyzing this as Beth Hart is probably my favorite singer in the world today (if we think Heart’s Ann Wilson is a) not from Earth b) is hors-concours when it came to female Rock singers). I like all her past albums and I just adore both her releases with Joe Bonamassa. And this being her first album since those collaborations, I think she hugely benefited from it. She seems more aware of what she wants in this record and her powerful and soulful voice is in better shape than ever. She’s letting her Soul and R&B side more evident (clearly an influence from her work with JoBo) and we listeners are much happier for it.
Royal Thunder – Crooked Doors – Stoner Rock has reached an all -time high (no pun intended) over these last few years. It seems that every week there’s a new band rediscovering the powers of Sabbath and Blue Cheer riffs and forming a band to play it. They actually even had some more recent references to search like Spiritual Beggars, Nebula, Fu-Manchu and Orange Goblin. Royal Thunder fits this description, but they have some differences worth pointing out. First their bassist/vocalist Miny Parsonz has a peculiar but rather cool voice and that adds a different and interesting texture to the whole thing. And their songs are not immediate probably to some strong psychedekic influence. They do require you get used to it. However, I can safely say that after thinking their last album CVI was good but a bit weird, I decided to give them another chance and was not disappointed. I liked this one much more right on the first listen.
See you next week with some more 2015 releases!
Horrendous – Ecdysis
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats – Mind Control
220 Volt – s/t
Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal” winner of the NABE Pinnacle Awards 2014 Fall edition.
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