Headbanging Highlight of The Week: Nazareth- Loud ‘n’ Proud

 

For this weeks highlight we are going way back to the year 1973 with the fourth album from Scottish hard rock band Nazareth entitled “Loud n Proud”. Nazareth have been one of those 70s bands that always eluded me until about three months ago when I decided to pick up a copy of their “Anthology” CD at a discount store. After listening to both discs multiple times, I had become almost obsessed with the band. The thing that makes their music so interesting is the fact that they have a heavy edge to them but they have a lot of more melodic up beat pop songs that are just as good and how every album had something to enjoy.  But enough rambling, let us taker a look at one of my favorite albums they released in the 70s.

 

The album opens very bombastically with the bumping rocker “Go Down Fighting” featuring some awesome slide guitar work from Manny Charlton and some of Dan MCcafferty’s best vocals on any Nazareth album. Out of all their albums, this one is definitely one of the most consistent at least in terms of harder rocking songs with another being the infectious cover of “Teenage Nervous Breakdown” and “Not Faking It” being one of my all time favorites from the band. “Turn On Your Receiver” is another great one with a very boogie rock feel to it and Dan’s vocals balancing the raspy and melodic feeling perfectly. The song “Child in the Sun” is the ballad of the album but is still a great melodic 70’s rock song that Nazareth delivers perfectly. The heaviest moment of this album is the epic closer “The Ballad of Hollis Brown” which was originally written by Bob Dylan. Thus is definitely the most interesting song on the album in that compared to Dylans version, it is miles different with the song being dominated by some of the heaviest fuzzed out droning bass that anyone at the time had ever been doing. The song overall has a very proto-doom feel to it and in a way is heavier than anything Sabbath did up until this point. Combining the bass with MCcafferty’s wailing and dread filled sounding vocals really makes for a chilling atmospheric song. Overall, if you want a Heavy and melodic solidly written 70’s Hard Rock album, this one is one you need to check out. The band have a lot of great albums similar to this one such as “Razamanaz”, “Expect No Mercy” and others but I feel they peaked with the heavy rock sound on this album.

 

Headbanging Highlight of the Week: Blue Cheer-What Doesn’t Kill You

 

Welcome to another headbanging highlight of the week where I tell you guys what I am currently listening to and what you should check out! This week we are going back a decade to 2007 with an album that I personally think is quite overlooked from a band that was considered one of the heaviest bands of their time. Blue Cheer who formed in the mid 60’s releasing their ear splitting 1968 classic “Vincebus Eruptum” which was essentially the bluesy styles of the trio Cream taken to it’s logical extreme at the time. The band released a few more albums before imploding in the 70’s before coming back with a straight forward heavy metal record entitled “The Beast Is Back” in the mid 80’s and retaining a more heavy metal style through a few more records and tours until 2007 when the group released “What Doesn’t Kill You” which was their last before band leader and founder Dicky Peterson passed away shortly after. Blue Cheer have always been one of my favorite trio’s but unlike groups such as Cream, they never really got the recognition I always felt they deserved. Well i’m going to tell you exactly why their final album was just as heavy as most bands that were releasing albums at the same time.

 

Now this album  features only two out of three original members with Peterson and drummer Paul Whaley being them with Andrew Mcdonald joining on guitar who does a great job. a more stoner rock style with fuzzier guitars grooving riffs and Petersons now very gravely vocals which are battered to hell but work and add a layer of dinginess to alot of these song. From the straight heavy blues metal opening “Rollin Them Bones” which is one of the quintessential songs about weed to the calmer and more melodic “Young Lions In Paradise”, The album definitely is one that I play a lot. The production is very well done with every instrument mixed fairly well together. The soloing has a lot of grit but is still clear and that is something I really enjoy. Peterson’s vocals like I said are very beat up which is noticeable in songs especially like “Gypsy Rider” which is actually my favorite and one of the heaviest songs on the album with a very Black Sabbath feel in the main riff of the song. You also have some vintage sounding fuzz guitars found in grooving songs like “Maladjusted Child” which give off that heavy 70’s feel a lot. The album more so in the second half is very consistent blowing off bluesy hard rock number one after another which does feel quite monotonous however the really good songs detract from the album becoming dull. I would suggest the first half over the second but if you are a fan of stoner rock, heavy 60’s fuzzed out rock music or anything in that Heavy 70’s style, then you should pick up this final album from one of the most underrated trio’s of all time.

Album Review: Mothership- High Strangeness

Mothership

“High Strangeness” is the third album by Texas heavy rockers Mothership and is to be released on March 17th, 2017. I had first heard Mothership back when I was affiliated with the sorely missed MHX Radio station when they had released their second album “II”. I was drawn in so much by how well these guys had their sound nailed down and just the groove every song had especially with the perfectly flowing solos and distorted bass and Bonham like drumming. These guys ever since have been on my radar and have been a favorite as well because of just how well they work as a three piece. Now with their third album just on the horizon lets see how well they do this time around.

Track Rundown

1.High Strangeness- Opening with a very space rock instrumental with the bass coming in with an infectious yet soft riff and the guitars almost tapering off into space when they come in. It is like jamming while on a heavy acid trip and it really works. It really sets a tone and atmosphere that the band had managed to do on the last album but it feels bigger here.

2.Ride The Sun- And the band comes in with a heavy as hell rocker. This song sticks to a nice mid groove that has me tapping my foot all the way through. After the third listen that main riff has become ingrained in my brain. The verses although very simple are just dripping with that ZZ Top like groove all the way to the chorus. Even though the song has a lot of vintage influences to it, the band do somehow make it feel quite modern especially with the very nice production you can practically feel the fuzz oozing from Kelly’s cranked Orange amps into one of his best solo’s he’s ever recorded. This is a great fun groovy tune.

3.Midnight Express- Opening with some nice thumping drum rolls into a more doom-soaked riff, this song sticks more with the slow bashing tempo that the band does just as well as when they kick into overdrive. I love the vocals in that they still have that grungy dirty southern feel to them. This song is also catchy as hell and one of the heaviest on the album. I really dig when it speeds up toward the end with another grooving solo with the bass just going full assault in the background as well. Another total barn burner.

4.This tune has more of a mid tempo with the drums doing this sort of gallop at least in the beginning. There is also more of that heavy doom/stoner sound that dominates this song as well and it isn’t bad but it does have some interesting riffs around the mid mark of the song where it changes pace a bit and definitely adds more variety to the track that makes it another one of my favorites on the album as well.

5.Helter Skelter- The band pull some more up beat riffing off on this tune and the groove is just so freaking good. This is possibly my favorite tune on the album because it just sticks with me so much. The chorus is pretty damn catchy as well.

6.Eternal Trip- Now here’s something a bit different. This song is a lot softer and I think works very well because of that variety factor. It definitely has that spacey and beautiful atmosphere with the echoed and very shimmery guitars. There are some amazing melodic moments too and it is very welcomed for how well it is done.

7.Wise Man- After listening to the last track, this song sounds a lot more bombastic when it still sticks to the stoner metal formula. However, there is some really kick ass soloing in the song that I absolutely love. I really think this highlights Kelley’s capabilities as a guitarist and how well he really can play.

8.Speed Dealer- I love the riffing in this tune and it is another absolutely dirty rocker as well. The vocal deliveries are just as filthy as ever and some of my favorites on the album as well. It actually has more of a straight heavy blues feel to it that I love. The band really fires on all cylinders with this one giving a really heavy and bombastic end to a solid slab of stoner rock in 2017.

Overall, I give the album a very solid 8 out of 10. Mothership have brought that similar stoner metal vibe from their past two albums to this one but this one feels more on the spot especially with the more rocking songs. It just feels a lot more natural and the band really pulls together creating some very memorable jams as well as in cooperating some of those space rock and late 60’s rock sounds to make a really well done heavy rock album.