Review: DeWolff – Thrust

Mascot Records (May 4th)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

I said to DeWolff vocalist Pablo van de Poel when I interviewed him last month regarding the band’s new album ‘Thrust‘, for some inconceivable reason I’d not come across them before!

Well, after the first play of ‘Thrust’, I promptly went and bought the band’s back catalogue. I guess that is a fairly strong indicator that I kind of liked what I’d heard. I am loving the mainly European bands who are ‘re-visiting’ that Seventies vibe, but also putting their own take on it.

DeWolff are most certainly a band who inject their own DNA into the music. Layers of Hammond organ, a tight bass line and vocals which have a slight psychedelic twist to them. This all adds up to an absolute foot-stomper of an album.

In keeping to the whole Seventies thing, the band recorded the album in analogue at their own purpose built studio. While I’m listening to the advance on streamed audio, you can still detect that all encompassing warmth that comes with that process which of course enhances the music even further.

DeWolff are a band who know what they want out of an album, and deliver that in a straight no nonsense fashion, displaying a maturity to both the song writing and musicianship that bands twice their age don’t always manage.

I’m not going to break the album down track by track, I want you to go out and explore it yourselves, trust me when I say you won’t be disappointed and your volume knob will without a doubt be cranked up a few levels.

Highly recommended.

 

Review: Snake Oil and Harmony

Borderline London March 3rd 2018

Reviewer: Dan Mann

The Snake Oil and Harmony Tour is now on it’s third outing, with messers Danny Vaughn (Tyketto) and Dan Reed (Dan Reed Network) presenting an intimate, stripped back experience stretched over two hours.

After experiencing Snake Oil and Harmony for the first time, my immediate reaction was why only two hours!

I was so drawn into not only the music itself, played on acoustic guitars, which covered songs from across DV & DR’s wide and varied careers, but also the stories, some of them quite personal, and the general banter between the two performers and the audience.

It was pretty obvious the audience were made up of Tyketto and Dan Reed Network etc fans, who sang along with much gusto to the delight of DV & DR. All of which just added to the overall experience.

One things for certain, I’ll be buying tickets again at the earliest opportunity.

 

Review: Palace Of The King – Get Right With Your Maker

Golden Robot Records (March 23rd 2018)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

There are certain bands that just hit you right between the ears & Palace Of The King certainly did that when I first heard their debut album ‘White Bird/Burn The Sky‘.

After following up with an equally great release ‘Valles Marineris‘, I guess I was wondering whether it would be third time lucky!

Well, I can breath easy as ‘Get Right With Your Maker‘ follows along the same lines as it’s predecessors.

The album kicks off with the first single ‘ I Am The Storm‘ a track that weaves and surrounds you in an all encompassing sound so familiar from the previous albums. Singer Tim Henwood’s unique sounding vocals still have that hint of Brian Johnson roughness mingled with Enuff Z’Nuff’s Donnie Vie which really helps give the songs a bit of an edge.

This is a band who’ve not let the ‘remoteness’ of Australia hold them back, with a relentless touring schedule, which in turn has helped bolster this album with that accumulated experience that has in turn lead to a tightness to the sound that you couldn’t pry apart with a crowbar!

The blend of 70’s guitar, harmonies and pounding beat certainly get your foot tapping and your head nodding along, you cannot help but reach for that volume knob and giving it a hefty increase in decibels.

It’s difficult to give an impartial review to something that ticks all your boxes and then some so I haven’t tried. All I can say is buy this release as soon as you can and strap those speakers down as they’re going to take a pounding!

Review: Voodoo Circle – Raised On Rock

AFM Records (Feb 2018)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Voodoo Circle are back with a brand new album ‘Raised On Rock‘ but with one significant difference. That difference is a change in vocalist. Welcome Herbie Langhans (Avantasia) to the role.

Now this has certainly caused some muttering within certain circles (dunno if they’re voodoo ones) regarding the departure of David Readman, most of those mutterings being negative ones. However, I for one am someone who prefers to wait and actually listen to the end product before releasing a plague of locusts!

So from the outset the album follows in the vein of previous releases, first track ‘Running Away From Love‘ starts in pure Whitesnake mode and then Herbie launches head first, and launch he certainly does. His voice lends a much more out and out hard rock slant to the track, less of the slightly bluesy rock traits of previous albums.

As the album progresses we’re taken from the Whitesnake influence to late 80’s Uriah Heep to the Scorpions, all of which is absolutely fine by me. There is a slight veering off that direction on ‘Dreamchaser‘, the clue is in the track title, at just over six and a half minutes this is a great piece of Rainbow influenced music.

No the band aren’t trying to invent the wheel, to me they’re treading the path taken by The Dead Daisies in that they are unashamedly playing late 80’s/early 90’s hard rock and good on them for doing it. Yes it’s nice to hear bands trying new directions or laying down their own stamp but it’s also great just to be taken back to those heady days and reminisce as it were.

With eleven tracks (thirteen on the digipak) it’s an album that I’ve already played numerous times and rather a high volume!

Highly recommended.

Review: Blindstone – Blues-O-Delic Celebration – A Tribute To The Blues

Grooveyard Records (November 2017)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

The Blindstone boys are back with a brand new album, this time a collection of covers amounting to a tribute to the blues. I know they were a tad nervous about whether they’ve done the thirteen tracks justice, having had chance to listen to the whole album quite a few times here’s my humble opinion of if they hit target or not.

Kicking off the album is a cover of BB King’s ‘Rock Me Baby‘. Now a cover can be two things. A carbon copy of the original or a band’s interpretation. Personally I prefer the latter as it’s interesting to listen to a song from a different angle so to speak. The original is a laid back track, while this is more forward, leaning more to blues rock which actually gives this track some balls!

Second up is ‘Blood Stream‘, originally released by Rocky Hill, brother of ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill. Straight away this grabs you with wailing guitar, and energetic rhythm section, this is Blindstone putting their stamp on it. Being very familiar with the original I’m not disappointed with this rendition.

Next is Freddy King’s ‘Pack It Up‘ covered by Bonamassa on Blues Deluxe which is more of a direct copy but as I said earlier, I prefer things getting a little twist or two. This is once again adding that that distinctive Blindstone blues rock stamp, which makes it more of a foot tapper in my book.

Me And My Woman‘ is next on the bill from the criminally underrated Shuggie Otis. The Blindstone version thankfully manages to retain elements of that 70’s New York funk groove with the underlying blues elements.

Old School‘ is a track unknown to myself and was originally recorded by the wonderfully named Guitar Shorty. An appropriately named track for sure as it is quite simply old school blues.

The next track ‘Something’s Got A Hold On Me’ is based on the Gales Brothers song which i believe is written by Eugene Gales. A slow blues number, low down and dirty with a wonderful guitar tone. Great stuff indeed.

You can’t really have an album in tribute to the blues without certain artists being covered. And so we have Howlin Wolf’s ‘Built For Comfort‘, a song which I’ve always loved for it’s lyrics. Blindstone have transformed it into what sounds like early ZZ Top, so another box ticked for me.

I’m really enjoying the selection of artists being covered on this album, people not normally covered. The next track is Leslie West’s ‘By The River‘, another southern soaked blues rock extravaganza which sounds more full bodied than the original, not to knock the original mind in any way.

Having mentioned that ‘Little Old Band From Texas’ ZZ Top earlier we now arrive at a cover of the band’s ‘Bar-B-Q‘, originally to be found on Rio Grande Mud. Martin has nailed the sound of Billy Gibbons’ guitar. Just over three minutes of musical bliss.

The next cover version is of Slim Harpo’s ‘Finger On The Trigger‘. I can see why this appears as the original is quite a funky blues number and I know Martin is rather partial to a bit of funky guitar.

We re-visit the legendary BB King with ‘The Blues Come Over Me‘, the guitar riff just gets your foot tapping and your hand starts to wander into air guitar mode!

Slowing things right down is our next number ‘Stone Crazy‘. Again from a blues legend, Mr Buddy Guy. Blindstone have for want of a better phrase, thickened out the sound, giving it almost some angst, but not taking away the essence of the song.

I’m not in the slightest bit surprised which artist is being covered on the last track on the album. Blindstone wouldn’t be Blindstone without some Jimi Hendrix in the mix somewhere!

The Hendrix track chosen to close is ‘Hey Joe‘. Well I’ve never heard the band do a poor job when it comes to playing anything by Hendrix and this is no exception. What’s really great is Martin’s son Magnus Andersen and Jens Andersen, his dad, are both guesting on guitar.

To sum up, if your already a Blindstone fan then you’ll most certainly enjoy the album. If you want to hear a covers album that isn’t covers by number then this is the album for you.

 

 

 

Review: Devoid – Cup Of Tears

MelodicRock Records (October 2017)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

You’d think it would be easy to write a review about a release that ticks all your personal taste boxes, however you then have to ensure it doesn’t come across as too gushy!

Cup Of Tears‘ is the brainchild of French guitarist Mael Saout (Shadyon), and brings together an ensemble of talent that should ensure it’s a killer release.

First off the inclusion of vocalist Carsten ‘Lizard’ Schulz ticks the first box. Carsten is the perfect fit for this melodic metal album and is most certainly on form. Yes I’m biased, being a huge fan of the albums he’s released/sung on.

Secondly, the remainder of the band form such a tight outfit, from the excellent guitar work of Shad Mae, the engine room of bassist Ben Toquet & drummer Ben Wanders and ivory tinkler Jorris Guilbaud.

And thirdly, we have a selection of guest guitarists, Mattias Ia Eklundh (Freak Kitchen), Henrik Danhage (Evergrey), Daniel Palmqvist (Beyond The Katakomb) and Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear/The Ferrymen). Each one of these axemen has a fantastic track record and their contributions on this album don’t disappoint.

The album consists of twelve tracks, coming in at just under an hour, which is certainly a more than acceptable run time.

Okay I did say I’d try not to get ‘gushy’, but this album has immediately leapt into my shortlist of favorite releases of 2017. This is exactly the sort of melodic metal I love, a melting pot of influences & musical expression. There is only one way to listen to this and that’s LOUD!

It can be difficult picking favorite tracks off albums as some releases are such that your choice can change the more you listen. And so my initial choices are ‘Religion‘, ‘Mind Keeper‘ and ‘Hollow Point‘.

A highly recommended release.

Review: Samarkind – Samarkind

Independent (November 24th 2017)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Of course there is many a time that your told by a PR that this album will be right up your street, on this occasion the PR in question is so bloody right!

What we have here are eight tracks which are absolutely soaked in southern rock & bourbon.

Samarakind are a truly international band with two Irishmen, David Paul Byrne, formerly of Assassin on vocals, Mark Dempsey on bass guitar, Polish guitarist Michal Kulbaka and South African Marius Appelgryn on drums.

Not exactly what you’d expect a Southern tinged band to be, but trust me these guys absolutely nail it! Think Blackfoot mixed with 70’s classic rock, a combination which as I said is certainly my bag.

The band has just supported Inglorious in Dublin and they are in some respects of the same ilk. Similarities in vocal style at times and as I said there’s that underlying 70’s vibe.

The stand out track for me is ‘Good Man Calling‘, a slow burner of a track which amply demonstrates what this band is about.

If there’s one small criticism, it’s the fact it’s only eight tracks, which makes sort of in between an EP and a full album. Hopefully the band has plenty more material up it’s collective sleeves.

Another 2017 release that’s highly recommended.

 

 

Review: American Mafia – Made In New York

Lions Pride (September 25th 2017)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

As regular readers of my ramblings know only too well, I’ve impatiently awaited the arrival of ‘Made in New York‘ since it was first announced.

I was one of the people who took part in the band’s Pledge campaign, ending up with a rather splendid t-shirt indeed. American Mafia are a band I was instantly attracted too after hearing the samples from their first album ‘Rock N’ Roll Hit Machine‘, and have played that particular release to death! Well I was certainly hoping for more of the same when it came to this five track EP.

Unlike the aforementioned album, all the vocals on ‘Made in New York‘ are handled by Don Chaffin, who’s vocal style is certainly my taste, don’t like the vocalist, don’t like the music…simples!

The simple fact is if you like ‘Rock N’ Roll Hit Machine‘ then you’ll like ‘Made in New York‘, it’s a perfect follow on from the band.

To still have bands following that hard rock path with no added fluff and nonsense is an absolute blessing, the old ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ saying is a perfect example of what the EP brings to the table.

All I can say more is roll on another full album from the band. I for one already have my wallet open and ready!