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.
Ruby The Hatchet – Valley Of the Snake – And let’s all hail Black Sabbath! One more of these seemingly endless batch of bands that like to drink from the holy Sabs well. This record is almost like an EP as it has only six tracks, but they are long and therefore it is actually a full-length. However, the songs are not that long as the record is just a little less than 40 minutes long. All kudos must go to singer Jillian Taylor. What great set of pipes this girl has! It is one of the reasons why the songs don’t tire you. Apart from Sabbath, if you think a much down-to-earth and less trippy Yob, with female vocals, you’re pretty close to how Ruby The Hatchet sounds.
Blackberry Smoke – Holding all the Roses – This is the fourth studio album (they also have a live one) from this Southern Rock band from Atlanta (GA). They had been hailed as the new Skynyrd in England and although this is a high claim, this album proves that it is not an overstatement. Their first three albums are rather good (especially the first and the third one) but this one is my favorite for best album of the year (until I listen to the new Maiden, that is). All the elements you search for in a Southern Rock band are here and very well represented: great melodies, good choruses, a lot of Country and Blues influences and wonderful vocals. The new Skynyrd? Not yet, and probably never (as they would arguably tell you themselves) but they are certainly on the way for something rather special.
Lucifer – Lucifer I – First of all how the hell (Lucifer, hell, see what I did here?) Lucifer is not a name takes by any other Metal band yet? This should be one of the most obvious names and yet it seems that it was up for grabs. Anyway, the name wouldn’t mean thing, if the sound wasn’t good. Another one of those great discoveries from the almighty Rise Above Records owned by the great Lee Dorian, former Cathedral singer. Actually Lucifer rose from the ashes of another awesome band called The Oath (that unfortunately only lasted one great self-titled album released in 2012). The singer of that band, German Johanna Sadonis, teamed up with former Cathedral guitarist Gary Jennings and recorded this hell of an album (see? I did it again). And if you put all this ingredients in a blender – Rise Above, Gary Jennings and a Metal band – what do you get? Yes, another Stoner/Doom/Seventies Rock, Sabbath worshipping band. Unlike the above reviewed Ruby The Hatchet, they songs are more concise and it also has some NWOBHM flavor to them. Johanna is also a great singer and I don’t need to tell you about Gary riffing if you ever listened to Cathedral.
Bell Witch – Four Phantoms – I want to propose Rock/Metal writers to start using the tag Acquired Taste Metal to some bands. There are so many bands pushing the envelope to be different these days that some need you to open your mind and try to let it all sink in. That’s the case here. This is like Post-Black Metal/Doom/Old-School Black Metal with some Progressive and Gothic hues. Yes, it’s hard to fathom, but I guarantee you when you reach the end of your listening experience you’ll kind of get it. It’s similar to Secrets of The Sky and there are some parts that reminded me of a more trippy and brutal Type O’ Negative. It’s really hard to say anything more; you have to listen but always knowing how acquired taste this is.
Tribulation – The Children of the Night – What it is with the water in Sweden? I’m always amazed about how they produce good bands yearly. This one’s a winner already on the eerie cover and the great artwork in the booklet. The atmosphere has a lot of their Swedish countrymen In Solitude. But they are heavier and the vocals are more Death/Black Metal than Traditional Metal. A lot of times this band reminded me of more laid back Children of Bodom, you know, without those Malmsteen-esque guitar-keyboards the Finns like so much. This one is not actually acquired taste but it does sound original. If you’re looking for something that is not derivative, you can do a lot worse than check out these Swedes.
Metallica – Kill’Em All
Metallica – Ride The Lightning
Watain – The Wild Hunt
The Stranglers – Rattus Norvegicus
Yes – Close To The Edge
The Art of McCartney – The Songs of Paul McCartney Sung by the World’s Greatest Artists
Breaking Bad – Season II
Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal” winner of the NABE Pinnacle Awards 2014 Fall edition.
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