Gillan: The best post Deep Purple project

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Ian Gillan has been one of my favorite vocalists from his performances with Deep Purple and his short stint with Black Sabbath alone. However, after leaving Purple he went through the motions eventually forming the Ian Gillan band playing jazz/fusion in the mid to late seventies and finally forming a super group of sorts simply titled “Gillan” in 1978. Gillan’s classic lineup consisted of underrated guitar player Bernie Torme, Bass juggernaut John McCoy, Colin Towns on keys and Mick Underwood on drums. The band with a slightly different lineup recorded an album that was not widely available simply known as “The Japanese Album” in 1979 before a slight lineup shift and songs being reworked finally ending up on the first classic album “Mr. Universe”

 

Image result for gillan mr universe“Mr. Universe” was NWOBHM before it even exploded. This album took what was good about about the sound Gillan had in Purple and gave it more balls than ever. While the album isn’t quite “metal” per say, it is great British Hard Rock. Opening with the brooding and epic keyboard instrumental “Second Sight”, the album launches into its proper first track with the neck breaking “Secret of the Dance” which is incredibly fast and tight and shows how gritty Ians vocals can be but also how melodic they are especially in the chorus. The album continues with the catchy mid paced “She Tears Me Down” and then another fast tune titled “Roller” which is another go for the throat tune. The title track is incredibly epic and builds quite well with some impressive soloing from Torme. :Vengeance” is a good almost boogie rock tune with a lot more blues influence to it as well as “Puget Sound” and “Dead Of Night”. Up next is possibly my all time favorite Gillan track “Message In A Bottle” which is another breakneck tune but the real highlights are the ways Ian Gillan spit out his lyrics and Mccoys commanding bass really shines here and shows how underrated his thick tight playing is. Ending the album is the ballad like “Street Fighting Man” which an equally epic song and another favorite of mine. Overall this album could just be called Gillans greatest hits because it is that good definitely a great start for the band and personally my favorite album by them.

 

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Perhaps Gillan hit their peak was their second record “Glory Road”. After gaining a huge following in the growing hard rock revival in the turn of 1980, the band quickly released this album which also included a “for Gillan fans only” mini album featuring some jam tracks which was a cool inclusion. However, this album like its predecessor is pure grade A British Hard Rock but definitely shows a bit more of a metal side to the band. This is definitely apparent with opener “Unchain Your Brain” which is a no nonsense fast rocker. Torme’s guitar feels a bit sharper on this record and the production is slightly slicker and my favorite track on the album “Are You Sure” features some awesome guitar and keyboard riffs blending its definitely very well written. There are so many great tracks like the epic “On The Rocks”, the classic “No Easy Way” and even the super Bluesy “If You Believe Me” which solidify this album being another classic. The album thrived in the more underground but unfortunately didn’t break in America (shocker) but that didn’t stop the Gillan train from rolling on.

 

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While the album cover is a bit  aliening, the album is anything but. This could very well be the most visceral album Gillan did. The title track opens up being a great fist pumping hard rocker that is equal heavy and catchy. “Night Ride Out of Phoenix” is a badass mid paced bluesy rocker as well. “(The Ballad Of) The Lucitania Express” is such a fast tune that almost sounds impossible to play the riff is just so unbelievably fast and really makes this tune because its crazy fast but still very precise at being what it wants to be. “New Orleans” is a great cover that feels equal parts Hard Rock and 50’s rock n roll. There are other great tunes like “Bite The Bullet” and “Sacre Bleu” but the best song has to be the dryly comedic “No Laughing In Heaven” with such entertaining lyrics and a great bumpy rhythm that makes it such a blast to listen to. Unfortunately this would be the last album Torme would be a part of but equal talent in the for of former White Spirit guitarist Janick Gers would join for the bands final recordings.

 

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Gillans fifth album would be an interesting one as it would be a double album splitting studio tracks and the other being a collection of well recorded live tracks which is a real treat. The studio tracks include the terrific melodic yet rocking “Reckless” as well as the grooving “I’ll Rip Your Spine Out” and the terrific foot stomping “Hadely Bop Bop”. The band is definitely in top form here and the studio side definitely feels the most polished the band has sounded yet with more melodic touches on the songs as well. However, it still feels incredibly Gillan and Gers more than holds his own. He isn’t as much as a gung ho player as much as Bernie but he is solid and his solo’s are very precise. The live side shows recordings from the 81 reading festival and one track with Torme performing from the Rainbow theater. Definitely a well worth it package for Gillan fans.

 

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Magic was released in 1982 and ended Gillan’s discography pretty much perfectly. The band sounds the best on record than they ever have. Now while Magic is not my favorite it is still a damn good and should have launched the band higher than they achieved. Opening with the gritty and fast “Whats The Matter” right into the groovy “Bluesy Blue Sea” which both alone make the album worth a purchase, the album stays consistent with mid paced and fast rockers all the way through. “Caught In A Trap” and “Your So Right” are perfect pop rock songs and are the closest the band goes to that kind of sound and they pull it off perfectly. However the main event is the epic progressive ripper “Demon Driver” which has a lot of twists and turns and always keeps your attention and Ian’s almost creepy like vocals sell the song especially the intro amazingly. The album ends with a badass cover of “Living For The City” by Stevie Wonder and a short reprise of “Demon Driver” as Gillan set off into the sun.

Ian Gillan had to get nodes removed from his vocal chords shortly after the end of the tour and dissolved the band at this point from inner tensions due to money as well as other difficulties. Gillan himself shortly joined Black Sabbath and then came back to the reformation of the Mk II lineup of Purple while some members such as McCoy and Torme stuck to doing projects here and there while Gers became part of Iron Maiden nearly ten years afterwards. While we will most likely never see a Gillan reunion especially after Torme’s passing, these albums represent a band full of excellent musicians that need to be rediscovered for their sheer staying power and “magic” that each release holds still. Gillan for me will always be the one band when everyone talks about Rainbow or Whitesnake, as the best Post Purple project by any member of that band.

Album Review- Diamond Head: The Coffin Train

 

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When Diamond Head released their self titled comeback in 2016, it was a major success. Not only was the album received with praise, partially bringing the band back to their roots, but it also brought them back into relevance in the metal world. As soon as it hit, the band went on a massive touring spree where I was lucky to see them twice on. However, I was really curious about where they would go from here as their self titled really was homing in on the classic DH sound with some touches of progression here and there. “How could this sound eventually mature?” I really wondered. Well their next album entitled The Coffin Train is finally here to show exactly where they ended up.

The album opens thunderously with the furious banger “Belly Of The Beast” which is a logical continuation of the 2016 album. This song is a total callback to their NWOBHM heydays or at least Tatlers since he is the sole original member. Rasmus’ voice sounds honestly even better on this album overall and this song shows how much more comfortable he has gotten being the new and my personal favorite voice of the band. It is almost too strong of an opener with the band giving it all they’ve got. Up next is another heavy number entitled “The Messenger” with a nice build into a heavy main riff that really sets a good groove. The chorus on this song is also really catchy. The title track definitely shows the proggier elements the band hinted to on songs in the past with a build to an epic end that I really like. The next two tracks “Shades Of Black” and “The Sleeper” are structured in a similar way showing this more dark and almost grungier sound the band is going for akin to a band like Soundgarden. It almost is a 180 turnaround from the last release which may put some hardcore fans off. However it works in the bands favor as it doesn’t show them do the same album twice and keeps things fresh. Speaking of the track “The Sleeper”, it is definitely one of the highlights in the middle part of the album with a very nice structure containing this orchestral backing that really beefs up the sound. It eventually ends in an explosion of fiery fretwork by Mr. Tatler which never gets old. Up next is another callback tune entitled “Death By Design” and is another absolute banger with that catchy chorus as well as simpler yet always solid riffing. “Serrated Love” is next and gives us a little bit of more foot stomping hard rock that has a bit more of a modern sound to it but still works pretty well. Up next is “The Phoenix” which definitely is another hard hitter with some nice acoustics opening the song. I really like how this song chugs along with Rasmus having this almost distortion to his voice it really works for this heavy grooving tune. Finally we end with “Until We Burn” which is a softer tune but still definitely fits in with the overall more modernized darker sound on the album. It is a fitting end to the album and definitely has a good feel to it.

Overall, This album while not being a typical Diamond Head album, is still pretty damn good. The band adds a darker and more complex rhythm based formula here that I feel works for what they were going for. It has it’s moments that may remind fans of the classic “Lightning Of The Nations” sound but definitely an overall package you have to go into with more of an open mind. It is definitely heavy and shows a solid core of musicians writing a solid collection of songs that won’t leave my stereo anytime soon, but don’t expect a nostalgia ride, this is definitely Diamond Head on a different level and I really enjoy it. Highly recommended.

Album Review- Leathurbitch: Into The Night

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Back when I saw these guys at Legions of Metal in Chicago in 2018, I knew they had something special and unique. Their E.P combined some really catchy speed metal with hard driving late 80’s sleaze metal to create a killer release showing how hungry these guys are. Finally now we have a full length release coming out May 31st and I have to say it really is a sleazy metal masterpiece.

Opening with a very 80’s synth piece, the album goes into full blast with “L.U.S.T” showcasing some tight instrumentals led by Joel Stair’s unique vocals. This tune has a very catchy chorus as well and shows virtually the same band I remember seeing live with a slightly polished production working in their favor. Next up is “I Want What You Got” which shows the sleazier hard rocking side of the band but still works with the sound they are going for with some moments that stray into speed metal as well. “Sleaze City” is next up and is another catchy tune that doesn’t let up and features one of my favorite solo’s on the album. “Killing The Silence” goes for more straight forward speed with Joel’s soaring vocals really making this one of the major highlights. I also really love the groove going on with “I’m Insane” and it feels like if early Queensryche stepped off the sunset strip and I really dig it. The final tune “Killer Instinct” may just be my favorite song on the album with how razor sharp the band is.

Overall, Leathurbitch are really coming out swinging with this debut. If you are into Sleazy metal dripping with speed and major attitude then this album is for you. The band essentially take the formula they established on their E.P and refined it time ten. Grab this album May 31st from High Roller Records, its worth it and definitely will be on repeat for my summer playlist.

Album Review- Riot City: Burn The Night

 

 

 

Album releases are definitely coming in hot and heavy within the next month and this album is no exception. I have been waiting inhumanely patient for the official release from Canada’s excellent speed metallers Riot City and the time has finally come. Entitled “Burn The Night”, this album definitely pulls you in with the eye catching and colorful cover that seems to pay homage to some of Priest’s most memorable covers. However, what lays within will make your head uncontrollably bang and endlessly air guitar until the last second.

Opening with “Warrior Of Time”, the intro quickly builds into a pure assault on your ear drums in a great way. The galloping guitars along with the epic and falsetto vocals really get the album off to a great start. This tune shows how catchy the album definitely can be right away. The title track is one of my favorites with the main riff getting stuck in my head as soon as the first listen and the solo is just oozing with magic and intensity! In The Dark is another major highlight with catchy vocals and an awesome acoustic opening before you get hit in the face with brutal double bass drumming. Honestly, there really isn’t a bad track portrayed on this album from the riff heavy Livin’ Fast to the breakneck speeds of Steel Rider to the catchy ender Halloween At Midnight, this album just screams all the way through.

Overall, Riot City have crafted a worthy debut album that lived up to expectations that I have had ever since hearing of the band years ago. They definitely took the time with these songs to give them magic and a spark that will make any fan of old school speed metal feel confident that there is still real gems being produced out there and Burn The Night will be one of those ones I fondly remember looking back! Check it out as soon as it is released on May 17th!

 

Preorder the album: http://swordsandchains.storenvy.com/collections/57505-all-products/products/25992693-riot-city-burn-the-night-preorder

Album Review- Asomvel: World Shaker

 

 

Here is an album I have been anticipating for awhile. For those who are not familiar with Asomvel, they are a trio that are true to their roots as a straight to the point classic Heavy Metal group. Their sound is rooted mainly in Motorhead all the way to the distorted Rickenbacker bass lines and growling vocals. However, with their sound so reminiscent of classic acts, can they hold up on their own? Now the album “Knuckle Duster” they released some years ago was damn good and a very fun album but I felt the production was just a tad flat in parts and the vocals just felt a bit off to me as well. However, with “Worldshaker”, the band forges on with the Nephew of original front man Jay Jay Winter at the front of the band and this album I have to say is pretty damn fun.

Now what makes this album to me an improvement over “Knuckle Duster” is firstly that the production seems a bit more lively. The bass really takes over and but still meshes well with the guitar lines. Even thought the Motorhead sound is even heavier here, it still works as the song quality is very tight. We have break neck speed tunes such as the title track, “Runnin The Gauntlet” and “Every Dog Has It’s Day” to songs that are locked in solid grooves like “PayBack’s A Bitch”, “Reap The Whirlwind” and the generic but straight to the point titled “The Law Is The Law”. However, for me personally the best song here is “The Nightmare Ain’t Over” which is one of the catchiest tunes and ends the album with everything it’s got.

While this album is everything but original, it hits you square in the face with a solid selection of songs that are straight, simple hard rock n roll. Asomvel to me are very much how Airbourne are in the spirit of keeping that Hard Rock sound alive and this record definitely exemplifies that for showing that the old school still has a place in 2019. “Worldshaker” comes out May 3rd through Heavy Psych Sounds. Check it out!

 

Order the album: https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm#HPS102

 

Bewitchers new 7′ single “Too Fast For The Flames” is a precursor for the hoards of chaos to come.

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Bewitcher, the satanic speed metal trio has returned with a teaser for their upcoming sophomore album “Under The Witching Cross” in the form of the single “Two Fast For The Flames”. One listen to this speed drenched neck breaker and I already knew that the upcoming album will be a real treat. The band still remain as heavy as ever with a production very similar to their debut but with a bit more of a raw feeling especially in the drums. The song is very simple but it is catchy as hell and picking up a copy also guarantees a nice kick ass bonus with the band covering the W.A.S.P tune “Show No Mercy” adding a nice blackened layer making this tune even more epic. Overall, this is a nice tease for the upcoming album and I recommend you check it out as soon as possible.

Order the single: https://www.indiemerchstore.com/item/68738

Pre Order the new album: https://www.indiemerchstore.com/item/71387

Album Review- Tora Tora: Bastards Of Beale

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Tora Tora are a hard rock band that formed in Memphis at the tail end of the 80’s unfortunately sandwiched between the Glam acts and the heavy hitting Grunge bands soon to come. While they did have some minor hits and fairly strong albums with “Surprise Attack” and “Wild America”, they never saw much more than a cult status and soon folded after planning a third album that never was released. However with the recent onslaught of more obscure acts returning with full-fledged reunions, the time seems right to give this little Bluesy Hard Rock group a second chance and the market seems ripe for their return. Finally in early 2019, we are seeing the next chapter of Tora Tora entitled “Bastards of Beale”.

Right away the band come out swinging with the heavy Bluesy hard rock sound they reveled in when they first formed. We see opener “Sons of Zebedee” keeping a refined melodic rock sound all the way through its chorus all the way to the very upbeat “Silence the Sirens” which is one of my favorites here. Another major highlight is “Son of a Prodigal Son” which has an almost vintage country stomp to it with driving acoustic guitars against heavier electric guitar riffs. The production I also have to say fits the bands character as well. Every instrument is mixed evenly together and still are able to give off a garage band sort of vibe where everything still feels loose and organic. Songwriting-wise, the arrangements are very simple in their execution but hold a lot in terms of feeling and that can be heavily attributed to Anthony Corder’s soulful voice. Besides a lot of other standout rockers such as “Rose Of Jericho” and the swaggering title track, we also get some softer sides such as “Lights up the River” which absolute shines. It adds more to what is already a terrific rock solid album.

Honestly, this album is one of the major early highlights of the year and it is a totally unexpected one. While I love when bands expand their sounds to new musical heights, sometimes it is great to just put on a simple rock record with song after song of catchy hooks to keep you coming back for more which is what you exactly get here. Tora Tora have released a record in 2019 that’s a statement showing that straight forward rock n roll ain’t dead and that they aren’t either and are here to show the kids how to do it right.