Archive for June, 2012

Empires Of Eden – Channelling The Infinite – Review

Posted in Album Reviews with tags , , , , , , on June 27, 2012 by novametalreview

Generally I don’t like surprises, that is unless they involve someone buying me a beer or similar, but when a CD arrives unexpectedly in the mail and it is an outstanding metal CD, then I am firmly in the ”like surprises” camp. So re-winding a couple of weeks, I find a padded envelope in the mail and with a puzzled look, because I have no recollection of ordering anything, open it up to find an “Empires Of Eden” CD looking at me. Still no light bulbs… what have we here? “Channelling The Infinite” is the title and still no “Ah ha!” moment. Well, how bad could it be – off to the CD player to crank it up. Whoo-hooo! Slam! Ears immediately wake up.

The opening track (“Cry Out”) breaks open with an early-Queensryche-like twin-harmony guitar melody that lulls you into a sense of expectation, which is dully satisfied as the verse kicks in with a decidedly power-metal, guitar and drum fueled riff-fest. Then the vocals grab you… I look up and say a quiet thank you to the metal gods – surely this must have been sent to me by a higher metal power? And I haven’t mentioned the shred-tastic guitar work yet have I?

OK, so after my brain woke up, I vaguely recall someone referring me to the FB page for Empires Of Eden and signing up for a pre-order copy of this CD, but it was entirely “sight unseen”. What a smart move! Let me set the scene here. Empires Of Eden is a project entirely led by Stu Marshall formerly of the band “Dungeon” and ESP guitar clinician. This is actually the third CD release from “Empires Of Eden” and all are characterized having a massive power metal sound, orchestral score, and guest performances from some of the most metal vocalists (and the odd guitarist) in the business. Whew, even writing that down seems epic.

So the idea here is that Stu masterminds the concept but writes tracks with the vocalists who are collaborating on the record. So each track has a spirit imparted by the character of the particular vocalist. It’s an interesting concept and gives a theme-related feel to each track, but allows the personality of the vocalist to carry the song. It certainly works for me. So whom do we have delivering the vocals? How about Bob Rock, Udo, and Steve Grimmett for starters? In fact a total of 10 different vocalists contribute to the thirteen tracks included on the release – check out the Empires Of Eden website – http://www.empiresofeden.com/ for full details.

Can pick out my favorite tracks? Actually this is kind of hard since the overall standard is right up there across the entire record – no there isn’t a lame duck to be seen anywhere here. I guess the opening track “Cry Out:” (vocals by Bob Rock), “Hammer Down” featuring a classically Germanic performance by Udo, “This Time” featuring Steve Grimmett and “Born A King” (vocals by Danny Cecati) are the four that spring to mind, but I guarantee any other selection would be hard to argue with.

So who will like this CD? According to other things I have read online this would be most likely characterized as “power metal” and that’s fine – if you know what that is go for it, but in my opinion this record is more like supercharged Iron Maiden/early-Queensryche sort of deal. If you know who “Shaman” as a band is then they are in the same ball-park for me (and that is one I really like). I’m not trying to say this is for everyone mind you, because I can certainly see some finding the orchestral backing on some of the tracks being a little over-the-top and I’m certainly not trying to sell this as classic 80’s metal (if that’s your thing), but it is a damn fine record and well worth the $20 it goes for. Oh, yes, you won’t find this on Amazon (at least not unless through a third-party), since it ONLY being sold direct through the Empires Of Evil website – the direct link is this > http://www.empiresofeden.com/channelling.htm

So what do I score this? For me this is great release and a perfect example of this genre of metal, it’s good > 9/10

Channelling The Infinite

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LA Guns – Hollywood Forever – Review

Posted in Album Reviews with tags , , on June 25, 2012 by novametalreview

Would the real LA Guns please stand-up… OK, this isn’t going to be one of those reviews. The whole history of the band called LA Guns is a confusing mess and in the scheme of things personally I don’t really care who ‘owns’ the name or who doesn’t like who. I do know I like a lot of the early material though I certainly was never a hardcore fan; to be honest it was the attitude that the band managed to convey in their music that was key to me. They were always sleazy in a very laid back cool way and one that I find at odds with a lot of characterizations that use the word ‘glam’. For me that has other owners.

Just to be clear, this is the Phil Lewis fronted band and represents just the second studio release since officially forming back in 2002. If you ever want to be really confused look up the Wikipedia entry that covers LA Guns and try to figure out how many members have played in a band called LA Guns! So for this record we have Phil Lewis on vocals who I have been a fan of since his days with Girl (who featured Phil Collen from Def Leppard), Steve Riley on drums, Stacey Blades on guitar and Scott Griffin on bass.

So what do we get with Hollywood Forever? Well, an initial listen will give you the immediate message that the band have not attempted any radical paradigm shift here – that sleazy rock’n’feel is still firmly rooted and harks back to the golden 80’s. If you grew-up through that era you will hear a lot of what was good about the music then brought forward in this album. For me the first few listen or two felt a lot like pulling on your favorite pair of cowboy boots – everything seems to fit nicely, no surprises, but equally pretty predictable, but in a good way.

The opening track, “Hollywood Forever” I have to admit immediately reminded me of classic WASP, which given Steve Riley’s past as the drummer of WASP, perhaps shouldn’t have been as surprising as it seems. Somehow Phil Lewis seems to drift into a pretty convincing mirror of Blackie Lawless. This may come over as a criticism but if anything it is intended as a compliment.

Moving on the next track has become one of my favorites – “You Better Not Love Me” – which has a great guitar harmonic-driven intro, powered along by a driving bass-line. This song is essentially Phil Lewis giving his ‘girlfriend’ some advice and has a great grove. With lyrics as follows how can you not love this band “My friend, she don’t play nice, her lips are like marshmallows, but her blood is cold as ice…”

Overall the production is great and so it should be coming from the highly experienced Andy Johns, who has a list of credits as deep as any including The Rolling Stones, Led Zep, Van Halen, Cinderella and more recently Chicken Foot. One thing I did notice is that each instrument has a nice space to work in; for once the bass isn’t buried in some low-end mush, while the cymbals and drums cut through and drive the band along. Everything fits together in a very complimentary way.

The album closes with a surprise; the last track is entirely sung in Spanish. This is “Araña Negra” which is a cover from a band called the Bicicletas and after looking this up, the  LA Guns version is pretty close to the original, but perhaps with a little more swing to it. Phil pulls this off with apparent complete ease, which for a lad from London, England is perhaps harder than it might seem.

Having just seen LA Guns live at the M3 Festival, the album lives up to what they delivered on stage. Phil is sounding great and I am hoping to catch them at a venue where they can play a full set including more of the new material.

So how much do I like this release? Well, to be honest it has been on constant rotation in the car for the past two weeks and it’s not wearing even a tiny bit thin on me and is one of those records that just seems to get inside your head a little bit more each time you hear it. This is really strong release and in my opinion a must buy for anyone with any appreciation of metal. Score 8.5/10