All posts by Overtone

ATBPO: Have Night Ranger still got it?

AOR legends Night Ranger is one of the more consistent bands to have risen to success among the 80s California hair metal scene. Having 13 studio albums under their belt including this year’s ATBPO, it is even more of a rarity that their outputs have been at a consistently high quality.

I caught them at Hard Rock Hell and I’ve been a fan ever since so I’ve been excited about this release for a while!

Launching hard and heavy with a fantastic guitar riff and a heavy drumbeat to back it, ‘Coming for You’ is a fantastic opener. The dropouts for the verses were great, especially with the low, fuzzy bass filling the gaps in the guitaring. The harmonies in the second half of the verse and pres build up perfectly to a huge, very catchy chorus. The backing vocals add so many layers to it but, given that they are saying the song title, they may be a little quiet. I also have to say that the lyrics for this song did feel a little cringy, a little basic and unlike them. It’s easily forgiven though given how great the instrumentation and catchiness it is. The bridge incorporates some acoustic guitar into the mix as it slows stuff down, adding a great further layer to it all and bringing back more classic Night Ranger feels. The solo is also fantastic, technically great and it fit with the song perfectly. We get a final big chorus and another awesome outro guitar solo to take us home. This is how you start an album!

Single ‘Bring it All Home to Me’ opens on some Bryan Adams style power chords and vocals before the drums explode in perfectly behind them. The fun pre leads to a VERY glam chorus, the harmonies and catchiness giving off massive Poison vibes. They have a similar bridge again after the second chorus that emulated the chorus but also had some very Queen-like harmonies. Another ripping, duelling solo follows, somehow even better than the previous one. I cannot get over just how catchy the chorus is with the harmonies, one of the biggest, best choruses I’ve heard all year so far. Another brief, awesome guitar solo takes us home again, and this track was even better than the first, easily making the playlist!

Lead single ‘Breakout’ opens on the most Night Ranger riff I’ve ever heard, and it’s f’in awesome. The verse is quick and punching, it all sounding very 80s with the synth but also uplifting in both the sound and lyrics. The pre leads to the chorus, the intro riff being the main part of it aside from the song title being shouted between bars. Another solo follows directly after the first chorus and it’s awesome, though I was spoilt by the last one so it didn’t stand out as much. The riff just before the last pre was awesome though, I have to say. The second half of the final chorus was also incredible, the guitars working overtime with an awesome riff, maybe my favourite of the album so far. This whole song was awesome, and another that makes the playlist, more for the guitar work than anything else!

‘Hard to Make it Easy’ goes almost country/blues rock after the opening AOR riff, the beat being bouncy and full of crunching guitars and a lot of awesome piano. The chorus comes out of nowhere but was great and catchy, this one giving off lots of Status Quo vibes. It’s just a fun song all around. Although I have to admit, it did feel a little repetitive by the end, there wasn’t much variety in it. It’s a small gripe when it’s so enjoyable, though.

The final single for the album, ‘Can’t Afford a Hero’ is a slower, ballad-y one. The acoustic guitar is broken out fully, a weird opening riff that I’m not sure I’m a fan of dropping away into beautiful chords through the verses and choruses. It somehow gives off both Bon Jovi and Oasis vibes, an odd combination that works a lot better than it should! The chorus is pretty catchy too, though maybe the least so of the tracks so far. There isn’t much more I can say about it, it’s a fun ballad that’s worth a listen if you’re into the slower music.

Unfortunately, the following three tracks, ‘Cold as December’, ‘Dance’ and ‘The Hardest Road’ don’t do much to pick up the pace again. While the first is a little heavier and has a great riff hidden in there somewhere and gives off some Cult vibes too, it doesn’t stand out too much. It definitely feels like an album track. ‘Dance’ straight-up steals from ‘We Will Rock You’ to open, be it a homage, unintentional, or something more sinister, who knows. But outside of that, it gave off ‘Stripper Girl’ (Steel Panther) vibes, which is bad when the parody band makes a better song out of it. But heck, it has a huge, stadium-filling chorus, so it can’t be sniffed at all too much aside from the opening few seconds. Meanwhile ‘The Hardest Road’ is generally just boring, it adds very little to the album and is simply a sign that it has ground to a halt. Maybe it’s just badly arranged, as the first half was pretty steady and enjoyable. I have nothing at all against ballads, but having four slower songs in a row feels a little unnecessary when the first three songs were pretty quick. Hopefully, the last quarter can pick up the pace and quality again.

Thankfully ‘Monkey’ picks up the pace again with one of the best, heaviest opening riffs of the album. The verse keeps up the quick pace, the drums being solid and awesome behind the basic guitars. The pre ramps the song up perfectly into a huge, open chorus, not quite as catchy as some of the others but the half-timing made it sound awesome. One of the best solos I’ve heard in a LONG time bridged the gap between the choruses, long and technical, the perfect showcase of Brad Gillis’ extraordinary talents. Another chorus and an awesome closing solo finished it off. This was a guitar player’s dream, and another to make the playlist!

Unfortunately. the last couple of songs on the album, ‘A Lucky Man’ and ‘Tomorrow’ don’t quite live up to ‘Monkey’ for me. They are another couple of mid-tempo, ballad-feeling songs. There is absolutely nothing wrong with them, and on their own I would probably love them. But, after so many slowish songs on the album, I’ve gotten a little bored of them. I’d happily listen to them again, but they don’t feel all too special to me like some of the others.

Overall: This was a pretty good album, in all. While it doesn’t quite measure up to some of the best albums of the band’s discography, or some of the best albums released this year in general, it is a solid release with a few great, standout tracks. It may grow on me with more listens, as is the case with some of this band’s work, but for now, I shall give it…

Score: 7/10

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Halestorm tease fans over social media – is this the beginning of a new era?

Over the past few days Halestorm fans have been going crazy over the band’s latest social media teasers.

Halestorm have completely archived all of their Instagram posts and replaced their feed with one singular image that fans are trying to read into for an explanation.

Front woman Lzzy Hale hasn’t archived her feed but she has posted a strip of the same image, suggesting a divide between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ Halestorm eras. This was then followed by another post of the same image but this time it was captioned “Day 1”

DAY 1 OF WHAT??

“Day 2” is today and we are no closer to finding out the answer.

Lzzy Hale then tweeted a link to the official Halestorm website as the link reads “Tombstone Splash Page – Back From The Dead” with the caption “Halestorm….Coming Soon”

Fans are speculating trying to guess whether the artwork suggests a single or album – whatever it is, it’s got to be new music … right? With the band currently on tour in the US with plans lined up with Evanescence, it begs the question whether the two bands will come together once again for a hit single or if Halestorm are creating suspense for a new album.

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Guns N’ Roses release studio version of their first ‘new’ track in 13 years – Absurd

Yep, you read the title right. Hard rock legends Guns N’ Roses have released their first new music since 2008’s ‘Chinese Democracy’, and their first with Slash and Duff McKagan since the early 90’s.

NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 11: Slash and Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses perform onstage during the “Not In This Lifetime…” Tour at Madison Square Garden on October 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation)

The track, ‘Absurd’, is a reworking of ‘Silkworms’, a rare track that has been floating around for some time. The band debuted it live at their gig in Boston on Tuesday and have subsequently this morning released the studio version of it.

Let us know what you think to the track on our socials! I thought I’d let you guys check it out before I said anything because… well… it’s pretty terrible, isn’t it? When it popped up on my YouTube recommendations this morning I got so pumped, being a lifelong GnR fan, but this was a huge let-down. The riffs are basic and for some reason Axl is putting on a faux british accent, although it’s hidden behind a fair amount of vocal effects. My only hope is that it’s some sort of comedy track, much like ‘My World’ was on ‘Use Your Illusion II.’

The live version sounds a little better, featured down below, but it is still an odd track overall. The band have been teasing an album the last couple of years now so hopefully we soon get some more releases that are simply better than this. Fingers crossed!

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Blue Kubricks: the Leeds-based band are ready to take over the funk/alt world

Leeds-based band Blue Kubricks have been bringing their fun brand of funk/alt-rock to the UK underground scene for the last few years. The quintet has begun to amass quite the following from their various singles released from 2019 onwards, as well as some impressive gigs both live and on stream. With just five singles released so far, the band are already making an impression on the UK scene.

Starting with their debut track, ‘Incomplete’, it opens on an almost 90’s pop-rock style acoustic guitar chord progression before the rest of the band join in over the top that keeps the mood light and fun. The vocals come in and don’t change the feeling at all, sounding like a British Eddie Vedder or Scott Stapp. I’m a sucker for this style of music, both for the style and nostalgia. There isn’t too much to talk about in terms of structure or changes in this song; it’s just a straight-up pop-rock song featuring catchy, soaring vocals and some simple but awesome instrumentation behind it. There is a brilliant little guitar solo towards the end too. A great song!

‘Heroin’ opens on some instrumentation more reminiscent of Red Hot Chili Peppers or even Reef – the guitar playing being fantastic and working so well over the slightly simpler drumbeats and bassline. The vocals fit perfectly over the top of it all too, having such a great tone and style to them. There again isn’t too much in the way of dynamics in the song, but the genre and type of music almost excuses that and it doesn’t need too many massive transitions as the entire song is catchy and entertaining. It does mean it’s a tad hard to hear where the choruses are though, I have to admit. Another awesome solo follows what I think is the second chorus, this one definitely channels some heavy John Frusciante vibes. I enjoyed this even more than the first one and it makes the Overtone 2020 playlist!

‘You’re a Beach’ definitely lives up to its title with its opening riff, it feels like it would fit straight in on the Hawaiian coast! It impresses me that the band can seem to change their style a fair bit between each song while also maintaining their own sound throughout too, something that even big mainstream bands struggle with a fair bit at times. It also has the most indistinguishable chorus of all of the songs so far, it sounds awesome and the backing vocals making it sound even more catchy than it already was. There’s also a little funky bass fill before a guitar solo, both of them sounding fantastic and again very RHCP-y! Another final, catchy chorus ends another great song.

‘Jermaine’ mixes things up, opening on a great piano melody instead of guitars and somehow gives off even more of a 90’s vibe than their debut. It took me far too long to realise that this was going to be a completely instrumental song, getting to nearly a minute into a two-and-a-half-minute track before realising I hadn’t heard any vocals yet. This is, however, an excellent song – a calm, slow showcase of some simple yet emotional, impactful piano melodies backed by minimalistic drums and some strings towards the end. It’s a fantastic little track that would work perfectly in an album setting, even if it is a little odd for a standalone single.

The final single, and the most recent, is ‘Latin.’ It is obviously the heaviest song the band has released so far – the vocals opening it up with a slightly harsher tone before a pretty great guitar riff comes in behind, accompanied by some cymbal heavy drums. It quickly builds into the catchiest, biggest and best chorus they have I’d say. We also get another fantastic guitar solo before the final chorus, it sounding technically difficult and pretty damn impressive. The band go balls to the wall for the whole three minutes of this track and I love it, giving them a harder edge and changing their style yet again. It may be my favourite song by them, but it’s a pretty hard choice!

Overall: I honestly loved each and every one of Blue Kubrick’s songs. They were all interesting and different in their way and, while slightly indie in their mixing, they were different enough from the dozens and dozens of Artic Monkeys clones in this country that it made me like them so much more. Their sound is an amalgamation of so many different bands who I already like and I honestly cannot wait to hear more, and not just to see what style they come out with next!

Score: 8/10

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The Bitter Truth: will Amy Lee and co’s new album finally measure up to their debut?

Evanescence was one of the biggest bands of the early 2000s, with their debut selling over 17 million copies and even winning two Grammys. However, since then they have slowly dipped in support and buzz – though I have to admit I have no real idea why. ‘Fallen’ was an incredible album, sure, but their three following albums were also pretty impressive. With their latest album, ‘The Bitter Truth’, they look to try and recapture the magic some feel they have lost by bringing their form of American symphonic rock/metal back after a four-year absence. I have been a pretty big fan of this band for pretty much my whole life, ever since hearing the terribly misplaced ‘Bring me to Life’ in the Daredevil movie as a kid. It made the movie even more cringe as a result and didn’t fit at all, but the actual song is a banger.

‘Artifact/The Turn’ feels like an intro track to the album, opening on some simple electronic notes and Amy Lee’s beautiful, signature vocals. It’s simple yet haunting, setting the tone for the album perfectly. The electronics pick up the pace a little around the midway mark, having some more ambient noises fading in and out which builds even more atmosphere and anticipation to the proceedings. What a great way to open an album!

It fades perfectly into the first “proper” song, ‘Broken Pieces Shine.’ An almost industrial metal feel opens this. Huge, simple drums and a chuggy, sporadic guitar riff sound fantastic beneath Lee’s high, effortlessly powerful vocals. The verse still feels like a build-up before it explodes into a huge chorus – full of lofty, catchy vocals and some great, heavy guitar chords behind it all. It keeps the industrial style throughout over their token metal style with a great bridge between the second and final choruses, filled with subtle backing, synth and some more awesomely catchy vocals. Well worth the four year wait!

We reach the first single on the album, ‘The Game is Over.’ It opens on another slow drumbeat, the low bass coming in intermittently at the same time as Lee’s vocals. The instrumentation is a fantastic low driving force to contrast the higher vocals, especially when the guitar does an awesome slide to come in on and join in. A great pre leads to another HUGE chorus, Lee’s vocals being just as strong and melodic as ever on top of the simple guitar chords. My only issue is that it could have done with being a little longer, maybe double the length; that first one felt a little short for the amount of build it got. They rectify this just moments later when we reach the second chorus and, like I’ve said, they double it up. We get some dynamics with it too, the guitars shifting to a riff over simple chords and the drums providing a faster more cymbal-heavy beat, making it all sound even better and bigger. The breakdown riff after the second chorus is heavy and the opening part of it when they alternate between drums and guitar is fantastic. It again is a tad short for my liking, but that is more just personal preference. We get a short build into another final chorus that finishes things off in a suitably epic dead end.

The following single ‘Yeah Right’ opens straight into the verse and feels almost pop-like with Lee’s vocals singing quietly and fairly reservedly over a synth track behind her. I, for one, am all for it. The chorus is catchy, easy to sing along to and a lot more like their more nu-metal days than the previous two songs. There’s an awesome bit midway through the second verse where the cymbals and bass follow each syllable of the vocals before everything drops out for a second. It’s sections like this that I love, keeping it interesting by putting in little extra bits throughout each verse. It makes for a much more rewarding and fun listen. We get a short bridge before a simple yet hugely fitting guitar solo, a rarity for the band. We get a final massive chorus before it drops down to just piano and vocals for the outro. I loved this and honestly cannot praise it enough. One hell of a radio rock song and a great choice for a single. Playlisted!

‘Feeding the Dark’ opens on some tribal-sounding drums. Lee’s voice again comes in over the top of them, her and the guitars building up perfectly into a fantastic, heavy riff. The great, riff continues through the verse, this again giving off more old-school Evanescence vibes – perhaps the closest thing to ‘Bring me to Life.’ It heads into another huge, stadium-filling chorus as the vocals soar over the top of the heavy guitar chords. We get another beautiful bridge after the second chorus and it stays kind of heavy but the added keys add a striking layer on top of it all, pairing perfectly with the vocals.

‘Wasted on You’ is perhaps the biggest single from the album. Opening on Lee’s beautiful vocal and piano work immediately reminds me of ‘My Immortal’ or ‘Call me When You’re Sober’, two of my favourite songs by the band. Again, the subtle harmonies make this somehow even better and more beautiful than they would have been without them. An electronic drumbeat and some quiet synth build into it, adding to the beautiful atmosphere. It then explodes into another HUGE chorus, another fantastic one with incredibly profound and well-written lyrics and a fantastic vocal melody. The rest of the band brings the rock behind the chorus too with distorted guitars. It’s a power ballad in the best possible way and it’s utterly fantastic, one of the best they have done and one of the best to come out of this millennium. I can’t get over how fantastic the first couple of lines of the chorus are. If you like emotional, slower songs, check this out now! Playlisted!

The most recent pre-release song, ‘Better Without You’, opens on the sound of a music box before a heavy guitar tone rings in the verse. The structure of the verse, having the instruments play in the gaps between the vocal lines, is always a great choice. The instruments come in with a simple yet nicely heavy guitar riff that continues through the rest of the verse. The chorus is a pretty standard affair at this point for the album – huge and anthemic but nothing to write home about after the amazing tracks that proceeded it. Despite following a similar formula, it’s still an enjoyable song.

As if she heard this herself, Lee gets her piano back out to open up ‘Use My Voice.’ Another beautiful intro and a damn catchy vocal melody sees the band really lean hard into their symphonic metal roots. The verse afterwards is fantastic; the tribal, slow drums coming back on their own behind the vocals and letting Lee go for it vocally. Lee’s vocal lines almost sounding a little like something Maynard James Keenan would come up with. Thinking about it, damn do I want to see an Evanescence/Tool collab, how good would that be?! After the chorus, the track drops down again and we get some building of various vocal harmonies that almost give an acapella effect behind Lee’s main vocals. This was another fantastic song and is up there in contention for my favourite on the album. Playlisted!

‘Take Cover’ starts fast and heavy with a huge drum and guitar line, but quickly drops down into a slower rhythm for Lee to sing over for the verse. It felt just a little disjointed, a running theme throughout the song. I loved the chorus for it, but it didn’t fit that well after the verse. All three parts so far sound like they are from different songs. The heavy bridge before the last chorus was short but a definite highlight of the track.

‘Far From Heaven’ is another beautiful, slow piano ballad. It is truly beautiful and maybe one of Lee’s best-ever vocal performances. It gave me goosebumps the first time I listened through it, a feat very few songs can do these days. This is like Disturbed’s ‘Sound of Silence’ levels of beautifully haunting and hauntingly epic. Check this out if you haven’t heard it yet or, even if you have, put it on right now; I won’t take no for an answer.

‘Part of Me’ picks up the heaviness again, bursting straight into a heavy guitar and drum lead verse and Lee’s vocals fitting perfectly in over the top as usual. This is another case of the song following the same sort of formula of others on the album before, though. Again, it’s a fantastic song, and one I’ll be listening to a lot more after this, but I just don’t have anything different to say. The same could be said for the last song, ‘Blind Belief.’ Another fantastic song, but nothing I haven’t heard already at times throughout the album – at least it wasn’t a whimper of a closer!

Overall: This album is fantastic. I am honestly blown away by a good four or five songs on this album, something that I wasn’t expecting but I was happy to experience. This may actually be their best album since their debut and yes, you can quote me on that. I’ll be happily listening to The Bitter Truth on repeat over the next few months so that should say it all really.

Score: 8/10

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Florence Black Announce Debut Album: Weight Of the World

South Wales born rock band Florence Black have become rising stars over the last few years, earning high praise from the likes of Benji Webb, Ben Wells and even Corey Taylor has called them ‘BAD ASS.’ The band have released three EPs and a slew of singles since 2016, but have been hard at work recently getting ready to release their first studio album, ‘weight of the world.’

The album is to drop on September 17th and was recorded at Long Wave Recording Studio with producer Romesh Dodangoda. Two singles have been released so far, ‘CAN YOU FEEL IT?’ and ‘SUN & MOON.’

Tristan Thomas, the vocalist, had this to say about the album:

“‘Weight Of The World’ is the culmination of our time as Florence Black. It’s a mixture of songs written at our very beginning and brand new material just created, blended together and shaped into one. The pressure and anticipation of releasing our debut album, feels like we have the weight of the world on our shoulders, especially with waiting what has felt like since the beginning of time to get it recorded and released. We wanted that reflected in the title and the artwork. Not to mention, with Romesh Dodangoda’s production, the sound is as heavy as Planet Earth too!”

We for one cannot wait to hear the full album, and y’all best keep an eye out because we sure as heck will be reviewing it when it’s out!

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Songs for the Saddle Sore: how well do comedy music and NWOCR blend together?

Comedy country-rock band Bootyard Bandits have been floating around the UK underground scene for a couple of years now, gaining more and more momentum seemingly with each passing month. I end up seeing them on more and more festival line-ups, which is a great thing, and initially discovered them myself after a frankly fantastic recommendation from Spotify. Because of that, I have heard of a good four or more of the songs on this album already, but I have to say I do like them and I am excited to review them properly. Join me in checking out this review, things are about to get silly!

Straight away with the opening track ‘M.I.L.F’, you can see what I mean. Bursting into a great, speedy country-rock riff, the song oozes sleaze and attitude. The feel and tempo keep up throughout the song and the lyrics immediately pull no punches. Singing about a beautiful woman in ridiculous detail who the band would essentially like to be dominated by, it sets the tone for the album and the band’s sound and style pretty perfectly. However, do not let the crudeness distract from the great instrumentation. The breakdown riff after the second chorus is great, boarding on metal with its heaviness, and the lyrics over the top add to the awesomeness. I was hoping for a guitar solo to complete the greatness of this song but it didn’t happen, we instead got another awesome chorus to close things out. A damn good opening song for what is going to be a ridiculous album, I’m sure.

Next up is one I have heard before and my personal favourite song by the band so far, ‘Country Music’. Another great opening riff leads to another surprisingly heavy guitar riff through the verses. The vocals fit perfectly between the guitar parts, and the harmonies only make it sound even better. It all builds to the gag of the song, the opening line of the song satirically splitting up the first word of the song title and honestly catching me off guard the first time I heard it, as well as leaving me in hysterics of course. The chorus as a whole isn’t nearly as catchy as the previous song, but the riffs and comedy are a little better in my opinion. We get a dropdown after the second chorus, a great, VERY metal guitar riff filling the gap between the vocals and the cymbal heavy drums as the song builds up more and more before it explodes into a huge final chorus. More silly humour that I cannot help but enjoy and backed up by awesome music, I cannot complain at all. Playlisted!

The band’s biggest song to date, ‘Hoedown Showdown’ (nope, I’m not making this up!) is up next. A slightly steadier country-rock riff opens this one up, heading into a pretty stripped-back verse with heavy blues vibes. If it wasn’t for the lyrics, I’d say it’d be the perfect radio-rock song for them. The chorus is pretty open and massive, but the spread-out lyrics ruin it for me just a little bit – it slows down the song a little too much for me. The lyrics in general are a little worse than the previous two songs too, a little more on the nose like modern-day Steel Panther instead of subtler and funnier than old-school Panther. There isn’t much to the song – just two verses, two choruses and then a quick bridge and final chorus. I get that it was supposed to be their most accessible song, but it just felt a little basic to me.

‘Let’s Rodeo’ opens into the most enjoyable part of the album from a musical standpoint with a simple, fun guitar riff, a singular, slow bass drum and some catchy vocals. The backing and harmonies behind the vocals make them sound even better and add to the impact, and honestly add to their catchiness. It builds up perfectly with a drum roll into what I assume to be the chorus guitar riff after a vocal callout of the song title. Unfortunately, there is slightly more to the second verse – being a steady chugging guitar and drumbeat. It was still good, but it didn’t sound as good as the first verse. There is even less to this song in terms of structure, there just being three verses and three choruses, but the addition of the strings for the third chorus and a short solo from them instead of the pre sound great and add more country to just about any other song I have heard written by a British artist. I’m umming and erring about whether to put this song on the playlist or not. Why don’t you go over to it and check, see which way I ended up deciding…?

Next up is another song I know already and kinda love, ‘Shirt Potatoes’. It’s another song that, despite the ridiculous, hilarious premise written around a woman’s chest, is fantastic musically. The opening riff is the perfect mixture of country and sleaze, fitting the lyrics perfectly. The open verse of mainly just drums and vocals always works well too, and the vocals are so strong and powerful that they easily carry it through. The chorus isn’t the catchiest I’ve heard but the lyrics are silly enough to make it work and make more childish people happily want to sing along to it. The heavy few seconds in the middle of the second chorus is also worth bringing up, the call and response vocals with the dropping out guitar chords sounded awesome. It’s also taken me this long to realise just how much the singer sounds like Nathan James of Inglorious, but you can definitely hear it with the high notes. I also remember now why I like this song so much – it’s finally got a guitar solo in it and it’s a damn good one, definitely worth the wait. A final chorus and outro of course take this home and this song is another highlight of the album.

The next song has me interested as it features a guest who I am a big fan of at the minute, Christopher Bowes of Alestorm. It opens on a typically good, heavy riff for the band and this album at this point, and the verse isn’t too out of the ordinary for what I’ve heard so far either. The chorus is basic again but the backing vocals drive it forwards enough to make it catchy. Christopher comes in for the second verse, his distinctive vocals lending a lot to the track, in my opinion. The two bands mesh together pretty well too, especially on such a party-centric song. Unfortunately, there isn’t much more involvement from him outside of the odd line in the final choruses that you can hear him in. It’s a shame, as Alestorm is one of the best bands in rock at the minute for doing things a little different. Another good guitar solo but outside of that and the inclusion of Christopher, this wasn’t much we haven’t heard already.

The same sort of analysis could be given for the next few songs. ‘Hobby Horse’, ‘Ladies Man’, and ‘Cowboys and Indian Takeaway’ are all fairly similar in feeling and style to the previous songs on this album. It isn’t a bad thing at all, it just means I don’t have much to talk about. There is one track that is different though, the most-likely-to-offend-someone track winner of the album, ‘Cowperson’. Clearly being inspired by Bon Jovi’s ‘Dead Or Alive’, hilarious in of itself, it’s the first ballad and change of pace we’ve had at all on the album so far, which is very welcome. It’s a damn good ballad that wouldn’t seem out of place in the 80s if it wasn’t for the crazy, gender-confused, children’s-toy-related lyrics. 

‘Vanessa’ continues the trend of sleazy-country pretty steadily, but I did want to talk about just how damn good of a chorus it had. It’s the best on the album I’d say, featuring massively catchy and fun lyrically as well as some impressive high notes being hit vocally. Outside of that, it’s pretty standard, much like the following few tracks, ‘Outlaw’, ‘Family Tree’ and ‘Doc Holiday’. There are some genuinely amazing lyrics in here, and some more good riffs and solos, but 13 songs (14 if you count the last one) of pretty similar music, tempo and style do get a little much all at once.

The final song, as the name itself explains, is a Christmas one. It’s good, even if it sounds pretty close to all their other stuff. The chorus is enjoyable but it isn’t something I’d actually listen to much around the festive season.

Overall: This was a damn enjoyable album. It was pretty bloated; I think 15 songs was a little much and it could have been cut down to 11 pretty easily and therefore stand a little stronger, but every song was at least fun. I cannot wait to finally catch them live at some point soon and I think they have a bright future ahead of them.

Score: 7/10

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Leave a Scar: is the Twisted Sister frontman writing some of the best music of his career?

Dee Snider is a man who should need no introduction. From fronting one of the biggest rock bands of the 80s to famously fighting against the censorship of music, he has done a lot in the public eye in the past. However, since his original band started winding down and then called it a day over the last five years or so, he has gone on to release music under his own name… and it’s HEAVY. Not once did I expect the ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ singer to release an almost thrash album, but 2018’s ‘For the Love of Metal’ was practically that. His latest work, ‘Leave a Scar’, was released last week and is his third solo album. I have always been a huge fan of the man and his solo music, and he is still incredible live too, so I have been excited for this one for weeks!

‘I Gotta Rock (Again)’ immediately starts the heaviness off with a couple of huge guitar riffs, backed by cymbal-heavy drums and an awesome opening call from Dee. The awesome riffs continue through the verse and Dee’s vocals sound as pitch-perfect and powerful as ever; the man seems ageless. The chorus kicks in fast and hard and it’s catchy as hell, the chanted backing vocals helping it out a lot. The duelling solos are also both fantastic – fast, technical and perfectly fitting with the tone of the song. If there was ever a modern song that needed to be on a Guitar Hero game, it’s this one. The slowed-down chorus after was a nice touch before a massive final one takes us home. An amazing opener and one that easily made the playlist!

The insane riffs continue through the start of ‘All or Nothing More’, this feeling more like a Testament album than something that came from anyone who was in Twisted Sister. It quickly reaches another catchy chorus, this one feeling a little more like a modern metal style like it was ripped straight from a metalcore song. The breakdown riff after the second chorus was good, even if it did remind me a little too much of the main riff from the last album’s title track. The solos were again great and led into another great double chorus to finish things off, this time with the surprising inclusion of some screaming from the backing vocals. Another strong song!

‘Down But Never Out’ launches straight into what I assume are the chorus vocals over the top of yet another great riff. They stop and we get a brief but great solo before the verse vocals kick in. They’re fast and powerful, including more chanting backing vocals. It was a little hard to distinguish between the verse and chorus with this one though, as the riffs are pretty similar and so is the vocal delivery. Another little breakdown is followed by another great solo and another pre before we get a fantastic extended outro breakdown. It was heavy, stomping and very enjoyable just like the whole song.

‘Before I Go’ gives off slightly lighter, more AOR vibes, despite its still blistering speed. It’s still damn good though, the chorus maybe being the best of the album. It reminds me of another big name in the 80s’ solo project, Sixx AM. The slower, lighter pace really helps, making it stand out from the other tracks so far. It follows the same format as the other songs, a short bridge/breakdown part before a briefer guitar solo this time around. There’s a nice little bit of clean guitar afterwards, but it did feel a little out of place in the track. We then get a final, Maiden-esque chorus to end on.

 While ‘Open Season’ does feel a little more of the same at this point, this track showcases the production quality of the album – especially with the drums. Every bass hit was crisp, clear, and powerful, adding so much to the track. 

I had similar feelings about the following track, ‘Silent Battles’. It’s a steadier song, but still had a lot of the same feeling as the previous songs. I thought ‘Crying for your Life’ would be different as it started slower, mainly focusing on the clean guitar chord progression and vocals. It does pick up the pace and distortion about a minute into it, but it still feels different enough to hold my attention. It’s more of a groove metal track than thrash like the others and there are various different parts that were awesome and catchy, not just vocally but including the guitar riffs too. It was a very enjoyable track and another that makes the playlist easily!

Both ‘In for the Kill’ and ‘Time to Choose’ go back to their more thrash-oriented style. Both are great songs in their own right, but it’s a lot of the same on one album and that makes it hard to review without repeating myself. The only bonus is the version of ‘Time to Choose’ below also has Corpsegrinder from Cannibal Corpse, which automatically makes it 100000x more metal.

‘S.H.E.’ is still pretty similar, but for some reason it caught my attention a little more than some of the others. It was damn catchy, especially in the chorus, and the stomping pace through the verse was infectious and something I would LOVE to see live. ‘The Reckoning’ again stood out mainly for the drums, the double bass work in the opening riff/chorus being mighty impressive and sounds MASSIVE. However, outside of that, it is just more awesome, samey heavy metal.

The final track on the album, ‘Stand’ is the slowest song on the album. While I usually have an issue with the ballad of the album being the final song, leaving the album on a whimper instead of a bang, this track was at least heavy enough to carry itself to an epic finish. The clean guitars are beautiful behind Dee’s vocals, and the choruses sound huge when the distorted guitar chords come in over the top. The lyrics for this track are also the best on the album, a great call to arms full of positive reinforcement. It did feel like it maybe needed some long and powerful notes at the end to drive it home. Instead, it does kind of fade out, but as a whole the song worked pretty well.

Overall: This was another fantastic album from a man who for all intents and purposes “shouldn’t” be pumping out this sort of quality and heaviness in his mid-late 60s. The man defies all expectations again and again and also has one of the best backing bands around today. The whole album is filled with huge riffs, catchy vocal lines and honestly, there isn’t a bad song on it. He’s hit it out of the park again.

Score: 8.5/10

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Tour Announcement: Whitesnake, Foreigner & Europe

Yes, you read the title correctly. Three huge bands in one tour! The dates postponed from 2020 are back on, hopefully more firmly pencilled in for next year. It looks to be a fantastic night!

Three of the biggest and best glam rock bands to have formed around the end of the 70’s, they all enjoyed great success and released some of the most recognisable music of the decade afterwards. From ‘Here I go Again’ to ‘I Want to Know What Love Is’ to everyone’s favourite ‘The Final Countdown’, the whole night will be rocked (yes, pun intended) and will be full of singalong anthems and ballads, as well as some truly underrated musicianship.

Beginning in Dublin, Ireland towards the beginning of May 2022, the bands will play eight of the biggest cities and arenas across the UK, culminating in Cardiff towards the end of the month. Check out the full tour from the picture below and see which venue is closest to you to get tickets for!

Hopefully the new tour means some new music from any of the bands, given that even at their advanced age they still have enough creativity and juice left in the tank for another awesome album – as a lot of older bands are proving these days!

Tickets go on sale tomorrow, so get them while they’re hot!

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This is NWOCR: a showcase of the best British new wave of classic rock scene

A term coined back in 2017 for the resurgence of a classic sound brought about by the likes of Inglorious and The Dead Daisies, the New Wave of Classic Rock has gone from strength to strength since and has found itself at the forefront of the underground scene over the past couple of years. That has in large part been down to the fantastic efforts of a lot of people behind the scenes, helping promote the bands and form a real community around the sub-genre. It has led to this, a 42-track collection of some of the best the genre has to offer. I for one am familiar with a good few of the bands contained on it and I’m a big fan so I’m excited to get the chance to review them. 

To put it simply, it’s 42 smaller bands getting some much-needed exposure, and I could not be happier to listen to it and help by both buying and reviewing it. This may be a long one – who’s ready?

Massive Wagons start us off with their 2015 hit, ‘Tokyo’. It’s a fantastic track that perfectly encapsulates the genre. It’s a middle-paced stomper full of 70’s inspired riffs, soaring, powerful vocals, and a massive (pun intended), catchy chorus. It wouldn’t feel out of place on a Rainbow or even AC/DC chorus with that sort of vibe – a real stadium-filler of a song and a big reason as to why the band is one of the biggest up-and-coming British artists around.

Next up is Mason Hill. I’ve listened to their debut album before and I have to admit that while I didn’t enjoy every single song, ‘DNA’ was one of the standout tracks on it. The main riff alone is a massive positive, quick, driving, heavy guitar pairing fantastically with the slower drums. The backing vocals and harmonies are also on point throughout, be it in the pre-chorus or chorus which both feature different layers and styles in each part. Another great track from such a young band.

Hollowstar‘s biggest track ‘All I Gotta Say’ starts off slower than the other two, having a beautiful clean chord progression for the first verse before another amazing, heavy guitar riff cuts through it and launches the song into a faster pace. The verses stay slower but the real highlight is the heavier choruses, blasting out with huge power chords and catchy vocals from Joe Bonson. Three for three with amazing tracks so far.

These Wicked Rivers give us a bit more of a scrappier track more reminiscent of Rival Sons and older bands like Rolling Stones than the more polished and produced tracks we’ve had so far. That doesn’t take away from the quality at all though. The riff is again awesome; it is lighter and higher than the others and the chorus is maybe one of the catchiest of the album.

We finally reach a band I haven’t heard of – Anchor Lane with their track ‘Fame Shame’. The band definitely fits into the NWOCR sub-genre but I hear just a little Soundgarden in here too – there’s some of that faster, heavy grunge vibe to it. I have to admit, I’m a fan. The breakdown was pretty great too and the chorus was just as catchy as some of the others on the album. The band has found a new fan in me!

Empyre gives us another middle-paced track, filled with palm-muted guitars and low drums that contrast nicely with the powerful, awesome vocals. The chorus is a great riff but, outside of that, it doesn’t take off any, staying at the steady, low pace. The guitar solo in the middle is fantastic though and the vocals almost remind me of Peter Steele’s at times. A good track and the slowest so far.

Daxx And Roxane are a band I have been recommended a couple of times before but just haven’t had the chance to check out. I’m so glad that this changed today as ‘Without You’ is an awesome track. Channelling some real Poison vibes with this track but modernising it for the current scene is awesome. The riff is infectious, making me bob my head throughout, and the vocals are powerful: soaring and catchy. They have a new fan in me and I can’t wait to hopefully catch them on the festival circuit next year!

Sons of Liberty are one of the surprising number of bands on this album that I first heard at HRH a couple of years ago and have been a fan of them ever since. ‘Fire and Gasoline’ is a great AC/DC style chugging rock song, incorporating both the catchy soaring vocals and the lower, almost power-metal-esque style through the verses. Its catchy, infectious chorus hook is enough to push it into our playlist alone but the rest of the song is awesome too.

Tequila Mockingbyrd and Cult Classics alumni united to form The Hot Damn! at the back end of last year and launched their debut single at the start of the month ready for this release. I was a big fan of the two separate bands that the frontwomen were part of and I have purposely been holding out on listening to the track so that I could review it properly with this album. ‘Dance Around’ is a great track that feels punkier than the rest of the songs so far. It feels like it was inspired by early Wildhearts in the best way – catchy, light and bouncy throughout. Gill Montgomery’s vocals fit perfectly over the instrumentation and the harmonies throughout the chorus work so well. Another fantastic new band!

Everyday Heroes give us another bluesy stomper of a track. It’s mid-paced and good but I’m sad to say it fades into the background a tad after so many phenomenal tracks before it. The harmonies were nice though, as was the solo. I kind of felt the same about the next track, Elles Bailey‘s ‘Woman Like Me’. It was definitely different from the previous tracks on the album but it didn’t fit as much into the sub-genre as the others. It felt closest to The Doors to me, a band that I wouldn’t necessarily class as classic rock. It was a good song and a well-needed change of pace in a solely hard rock album, but there wasn’t too much to it. It was a nice chilled-out song though and the solo in the middle was great!

Scarlet Rebels pick the pace back up with a great riff and some awesome pinch harmonics to open ‘No One Else to Blame’. I actually can’t get enough of the riff; it is the highlight of the song for me, though the chorus is pretty decent too! Meanwhile, Wolf Jaw offer up their own brand of slower blues-rock to the mix. Lead by the funky bassline and simple drumbeat, Tom Leighton’s vocals fitting perfectly over the top of them. It picks up perfectly into the chorus too, the guitars adding some great layers into it and pushing the vocals up higher. Another fantastic track!

Tomorrow Is Lost’s production is second to none on this album; the quality when the instruments explode over the top of the bassline sounds MASSIVE. It only adds to the epicness of the track as it builds perfectly from the verse through to the amazing chorus. I haven’t heard the song before as I hadn’t even heard of the band but damn, it’s one of my favourite tracks on the album. Even the awesome distorted vocals that kind of acted like the solo was awesome and such a unique take on the conventional rock style that I couldn’t not love it. An awesome track and I shall definitely be listening to more from the band!

Riff machines Dead Man’s Whiskey bring the power and attitude with ‘War Machine’. The vocals are good but the instrumentation for me is the real highlight of the track. The riff is just so infectious that even the awesome call and response backing vocals through the chorus could beat it. Meanwhile, Dig Lazarus channels similar vibes to The Hot Damn! with a great punk rock track. It’s driving from start to finish and simple yet pretty effective. However, I do feel like it would get a tad lost in the shuffle among the other incredible tracks on the collection.

Next is a band that I need no introduction to as they have been one of my favourite bands of the last few years, The New Roses. Because of this, I shall spare my relentless gushing over the band that I have done to my friends and over social media and instead I urge everyone reading this to CHECK THEM OUT. The track on this album, ‘Whiskey Nightmare’, is a great starting point. So, what are you waiting for? Go check out your new favourite band already!

Shape of Water (not the fish porn movie) is another song that feels like it revolves around an awesome riff. The vocals work well over the top, giving off a massive sludgy/bluesy vibe to the whole thing – almost like a stoner rock song like Kyuss or Masters of Reality. It was another welcome change of pace on an album that has a lot of similar music, making me like this song a lot as a result!

Häxan sounds good but their track feels as much lost in the shuffle as a couple of the others, there isn’t much special about it that hasn’t already been done. The same can be said about the final two tracks of the first disc from Rival Black and Gin Annie. Both are good songs in their own right but offer little in the way of variety.

It isn’t until disc two begins with the always fantastic Phil Cambell and the Bastard Sons that the album truly gets back to form. The man from Motorhead has been firing on all cylinders during his current solo project and releasing arguably some of the best music of his career, and ‘Son of a Gun’ is no exception. A great hard rock song and another highlight of the collection.

The Dust Coda’s ‘When The Tide Comes in’ has a catchy as anything opening vocal hook, especially when the rest of the band come im. It’s the highlight of the song, the rest not quite as fun. Unfortunately Skam, another band I am usually a fan of, fade a little into the background with the sheer quality on display throughout these two discs.

Collateral offers a fresh change of pace, this time going for a Bon Jovi ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ style with ‘Merry Go Round’. It’s an enjoyable, acoustic lead song, filled with catchy vocal hooks, huge choruses and awesome backing vocals. It’s the ballad this album needed and is definitely a good one. Another band I haven’t heard enough of!

Bad Touch provides the most controversial track on the album for me. I used to gig with them a lot back in the day and, as good as this song is, I have to admit I prefer their older stuff. I don’t know what the difference between ‘I Get High’ and something like ‘Wise Water’ is and maybe it’s simply nostalgia. 

Massive was one of the few to record a new song ready for this release. We covered their latest single ‘Rise’ when it first came out so check that out! 

The next few tracks from bands like Gorilla Riot and Thundermother all felt a little samey at this point, something that is unfortunately going to happen with so many songs from the same sub-genre. The next one that kind of caught my ear was Rews with ‘Today We’re Warriors’, and that’s mainly because it sounds pretty similar to something Dorothy would release. It’s more pop-rock leaning and another nice and appreciated change of pace on this LONG album.

Twister gives us a good track that somehow blends glam and punk seamlessly, and Bootyard Bandits bring their own fantastic brand of comedy and country-rock to the proceedings. Doomsday Outlaw gives off some great country/blues vibes too and Ashen Reach shows off their impressive AOR sound and style, almost metal in its execution.

Ryders Creed got me excited for a second as their guitar tone was pretty reminiscent of early Nickelback (to a point where the riff seems almost a straight rip of ‘Hangnail’) but when the vocals kicked in it became a lot lighter and radio-bait-y. It’s not bad but I had never really understood the hype around this band to begin with, so it would have taken a lot to convince me.

The final track saved the same-ness of the second disk for me with Blackwater Conspiracy’s ‘Soul Revolutionaries’. It gave off almost Rod Stewart vibes at times, being a lighter, poppier rock song but it was done so well and enjoyably that it became one of my favourite tracks of the album. The driving guitars, subtle piano, and soaring vocals were all massive highlights and drew me back to a band I haven’t listened to enough of recently. An awesome way to close an album!

Overall: I have to admit right out of the gate that 42 tracks/bands took a lot to listen to in one session. However, the sheer ambition of this album has to be applauded and being able to showcase so many smaller, incredible bands on a release such as this is amazing. There were a lot of awesome tracks on the album from bands that deserve to be a lot bigger than they are and hopefully this will give them a platform to really launch off of!

Score: 8.5/10