Archive for September, 2014

Kix – Rock Your Face Off – Album Review

Posted in Album Reviews with tags , , , , , on September 23, 2014 by novametalreview

KixPix

So, those of you that know me fairly well will already know that I am not perhaps the World’s biggest Kix fan, haha!… And indeed I have been less than complimentary in some of my live reviews of the M3 Festival. Unfortunately it seems M3 will yet again, for the yawningth time (yes, I know that isn’t a real word), have to suffer through another Friday night Kix-off set for 2015. Hopefully they close the night, so we can hit the bar early. That aside Kix have recently released their latest studio album after a hiatus of some 19 years.

Those with an elephantine memory may just recall the prior album, “$how Bu$ine$$” from 1995, which was basically a “flop” and led to the band disbanding that same year until 2003, when they reformed without their primary song writer, Donnie Purnell. Despite this, Kix got back on the road and have essentially flogged the same set drawn from the first five decently successful albums, covering the era 1981 through 1991, and it is this lack of creativity that has driven me to my stance on them live – well, that and the silly jokes between songs and rather childish stage show (please don’t mention popping balloons!).

While Kix do indeed have a decent catalog of songs from their early material, it all becomes a bit “tribute band-like” without at least some attempt to come up with some new material. So, I guess I have to shut-up moaning about that aspect at least now with the release of “Rock Your Face Off”, which delivers 12 new tracks.

Firstly, credit where credit is due – some people were surprised I spent $10 on this band, especially given my prior comments. Ah ha! Fooled you… Well, no, this doesn’t indicate any great change in my opinion, but I DO want to support all bands who are prepared to get their finger out and bring us, rock and metal fans, new material. So, enjoy the $10 Kix (or at least the share you finally get after all the blood-suckers have a slice of the pie).

So, my first curiosity was who the heck had written the songs on the record? Well, new bass player, Mark Schenker (no, not related to THE one and only Michael Schenker I believe), gets a co-writing credit on 10 of the tracks, along with another name from outside the band who also appears listed (I don’t have the CD in front of me right now to get the exact details), with a mix of other members of the band listed as co-writers on various tracks. Mark Schenker is also listed as engineering the record, and that is definitely one aspect I have absolutely no compliant about – the production is top notch.

OK, deep breath, how about the record itself? Well, let me be clear it’s not a bad record at all. Phew! In the grand scheme of things it’s better than I expected, but it is let down by a few tracks. The CD opens with “Wheels in Motion” and this immediately brings a recognizable vibe, that I’d be hard pushed to say was anything other than Kix. I will note one thing – Steve Whiteman seems to have adopted a different style from the earlier material and if you play some of the new material back-to-back with the old, you will see what I mean. It’s by no means a criticism, just something anyone paying attention should spot. I guess we’re all getting older, perhaps? So, the opening track cranks along at a pretty decent pace and at times it may be seems as if the lyrics are a bit of a squeeze to fit, but in the end the track works.

The next track up, “You’re Gone” is a straightforward rock’n’roll song and perhaps where the current-day Kix excel best. This track works very well, as does “Can’t Stop The Show” which follows. May be the teen boys in the audience will gravitate to the next track, which has the teasing title “Rollin’ in Honey” which is slathered in sexual innuendo, however in this case Steve Whiteman’s voice just gets a shade to thin and whiney in the chorus. Also the guitars here seem just a shade to thin for my liking and closer to the Rolling Stones and a touch to much from AC/DC. Too much Telecaster and not a whiff of a Gibson SG or Les Paul. Or more simply too much twang and not enough overdrive for my liking. However, my real beef with this track is that I think I can sing “Bump The La La” from the 1991 Kix “Hot Wire” album. Come on guys, you thought no one would notice?

So, skipping over a couple more perfectly adequate tracks, we land on track number 8, “Inside Outside Inn” which takes the pace down with an acoustic guitar intro and leads us to the ballad. OK, so now I let loose… this is a HORRIBLE song. From the rather wavering lead vocal, to the horrid backing vocals… “yeah, yeah, yeah”. Uhhhg! The lyrics are wrapped in a painfully convoluted way around the title of the song and clearly this is sole reason the song is here. I have already deleted this from my iTunes library.

Following this we have “Mean Miss Adventure” which is another perfectly competent rock’n’roll song. The next track is another overloaded with sexual references, but in this case it actually works, “Love Me with Your Top Down”. This song almost made me smile…

But…then we get to “Tail on the Wag” which unfortunately I find has an uncanny resemblance to the main riff of “Same Jane” from Hot Wire. Wait it IS the same riff, but not quite as good. If you like try interchanging the lyrics. Yep….

The album closes with another perfectly acceptable rock’n’roll track, but when I put my super critical ears on this track just doesn’t seem as tightly executed as the rest of the album, and I might venture it comes across as rushed a little.

So, how was my $10 investment? Well, I think there are eight tracks here that are perfectly fine. Nothing exceptional, and not better than some of the earlier material, but in the same ballpark. Then we have one track that to my ears is just a little loose. I’ll give that one a concession since it is probably just personal perspective. Now we turn to the two re-cycled tracks. Sure, this happens sometimes, especially with a band that hasn’t been song writing for such a long time, but it is a little too blatant. Finally that horrid ballad – sorry, but that song just sucks. So I think I got about $7 value, which to be fair isn’t a complete loss is it? I’m sure if these tracks cycle through my iTunes library on shuffle I won’t be reaching for the ‘skip’ button, so they pass that test. But will I ever be pulling the CD from the shelf to give it a dedicated listen on the home hi-fi system? I doubt that very much.

If you believe you are a Kix fan and would drive a 100+ miles to see them, then by all means buy this, but for anyone else you will live a very happy life without ever hearing the record. I’ll score this the same as the $ value = 7/10, but only if you delete that ballad from the play list.

 

A Sound Of Thunder – Udoroth – Video Review

Posted in Album Reviews with tags , , , , on September 4, 2014 by novametalreview

This is something of a departure for me, writing a review of a promo video, but occasionally a band steps up and does something so exceptionally special that to not recognize it would be a travesty. In this case, local heroes A Sound of Thunder (ASoT), have just released their promo video for what happens to be my favorite track from the forthcoming album, The Lesser Key of Solomon, due for release on September 9th.

PromoImage

The track in question is “Udoroth”, which lists as the second track on the album and delivers a classic slice of power metal, very much inline with previous ASoT favorites of mine. However, the video takes the story and turns this into an epic of unparalleled merit! As I sit here, I am struggling to think of any comparable video offering from any other band… Perhaps I have a crappy memory, but I honestly can’t bring anything to mind.

Unlike the majority of music videos, instead of the usual “let’s mime to the video (and, if we’re really creative, try to impart a bit the story of the song)”, which, in the case of ASoT’s previous offerings, have been pretty decent all round; here we have a full-up animated video! Now, I have to confess, I am not familiar with comic books at all – that world exists in another parallel universe to the one I reside in, so I can’t offer any deep insight into the style of the animation, but visually it is a festival for the eyes.

The basic story takes us through the demise of a rather unsavory character with a penchant for lopping heads off with a large sword and keeping a bevy of scantily clad ladies chained to his ‘throne’ and his subsequent re-emergence in the underworld, where his bad-ass terrifies everyone including the local demons. Pretty soon he’s the taken over as the demon lord and anyone not toeing the line is likely to have their head bitten off or smashed with a flail (there’s a lot of blood splashing around in the vid…). As his power grows, he masters the fires down below and morphs into a demonic creature of rage-fuelled terror, who then marches his army into the human world. Fortunately the Queen Of Hell (from the previous ASoT album, Time’s Arrow) is there to defend the destiny of man. At this point a most epic battle ensues.

The lead-in to the solo is awesome with the backing vocals driving an almost tennis-match-like to-and-fro between the opposing sides. Also making an appearance at this point are the animated ASoT characters, starting off with a cool headstock go-pro camera-like view of Josh’s Steinberg guitar, which pans out to see the band floating above a pit of fire, with Jesse stylishly sporting his signature hat and Chris pounding a quad bass-drum kit! At this point we briefly meet anime-Nina, complete with goggles – all in all very cool touch. Despite the bands appearance, it is the story that continues to dominate and we see the track come to a conclusion with a crushing duel between the Queen and Udoroth – who will win…?

Below is a link to the video and at the time of writing, just 24 short hours since public release the view count is sitting at just over one thousand. This deserves to be 100,000 and if it isn’t close to this within a few weeks I will be sorely disappointed. This is a classic breakout performance by the band and consider is a masterstroke. One thing to consider – this was far from a cheap enterprise – but the finished result more than justifies this. There isn’t one aspect from start to finish that points to anything other than 100% commitment to do this right. I cannot praise this highly enough – it is awesome. I sincerely hope everyone reading this shares the video – it deserves to go viral and push the band far into the metal-world spotlight. Easily a 10/10.

http://youtu.be/yetRJ9aAyvc