Metal Blade Strikes Gold Again With Brit Rockers’ New Album

COurtesy: Metal blade Records/Rise Above Records

We are currently living in the twenty-first century.  But don’t tell that to the British hard rock band Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell.  This British three-piece takes listeners back to the days of Led Zepplin, Black Sabbath, and so many others from rock’s Golden Era.  From the opening moments of Mark of The beast, audiences know that there is something special about this band. 

What’s really intriguing about “Don’t Hear It, Fear It” is that while the songs on this album do have some lyrical content, it’s obvious that much more emphasis was placed on the music.  There is nothing wrong at all with this.  The emphasis on the album’s musical side is what makes the music that enjoyable for listeners.  The album’s opener, ‘Mark of The Beast’ is solid proof of that.  Drummer Bill Darlington’s playing on this song is right up there with Bonzo himself, the great John Bonham.  He echoes Bonham’s playing both stylistically and sound-wise thanks to the work of producer and mixer Drew Mudd and Chris Fielding along with Ed Turner.  Even vocalist/guitarist Johnny Gorilla seems to channel Tommy Iommi and Jimmy Page all at the same time.  The two together, along with vocalist Louis Wiggett’s vocals make this a solid opener for this album.

The band channels other classic rock stylings on ‘iDeath.’  This is another excellently rounded hard rock song that any true purist metal head will love.  Again, vocalist/guitarist Johnny Gorilla and drummer Bill Darlington take center stage with their talents on this semi-Motorhead style song.  The slower, sludge rock vibe from the song is a drastic change from so many of today’s hard rock acts with their down tuned crunching guitars and cookie monster style growls.  It’s only one more highlight that’s offered throughout the course of this almost hour long record.  Yes, it’s a short record.  But it’s a good record.  In a time when so much modern metal is dominating playlists everywhere, this is a record that has turned out to be another surprise success and another hit from Metal Blade Records in 2012 along with the likes of Horisont and Gypsyhawk.

“Don’t Hear It, Fear It” is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct via Metal Blade’s website at http://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords/band/admiral-sir-cloudesley-shovell.

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Horisont’s sophomore album a shoe in for one of 2012’s best rock records

Courtesy: Rise Above Records/Metal Blade Records

The members of Swedish based rock band Horisont could not have chosen a better name for their band.  For those who don’t know, Horisont is Swedish for horizon.  So what does that have to do with anything?  Everything.  For every band and act that wants to hit it big, fame is just over the horizon.  It’s in the distance.  But for Horisont, the band has reached the horizon (horisont) line and crossed over to major fame in the rock community. 

The band’s new album, “Second Assault” is arguably one of the year’s best rock records.  There are lots of acts that try to emulate the old school rock/metal sound.  But what Horisont does is more than just emulate that classic rock sound.  Horisont sounds like it came direct from rock’s golden era. The album itself makes the band’s name fitting, as it starts off very quiet as if the band is off on the horizon before launching into ‘Time Warrior.’  This is one that fans of Deep Purple will love.  The band gives listeners just enough time to catch their breaths at the end of ‘Time Warrior’ before going headfirst right back into things with ‘Road to Cairo.’  The softest that the band gets on “Second Assault” is on the seemingly Pink Floyd-esque, ‘Crusaders of Death.’ 

‘On The Run’ is yet another perfectly fitting piece to this band’s musical puzzle.  It’s a straight forward, hard driving piece that will get any true rocker moving.  The band’s dual guitar attack, mixed with the Rob Halford/Ozzy style vocals of frontman Axel make this one of the album’s highest of points.  And who would ever have imagined Fleetwood Mac being mentioned in the same thought as Ozzy and Rob Halford.  But it’s true.  ‘Watch Them Die’ shows a pretty obvious Fleetwood Mac influence throughout.  And the guitar solos in this piece will even conjure thoughts of Jimi Hendrix, with their styling.

The title track from “Second Assault” kicks off the second half of the album just as strongly as ‘Time Warrior’ kicked off the first half.  There’s no denying the Judas Priest influence on on this one, from the vocals to the music as a whole.  Axel even gets the high notes with an ease that would make Rob Halford proud.  He doesn’t lose his vocal footing even once anywhere in the song.  The band barely lets off from there as it segues into ‘Spirit.’  The bluesy/rock fuzz feel of ‘Spirit’ brings to mind so many different influences.

‘Hard Bargain’ especially is an impressive track. It boasts a touch of Jimi Hendrix on the guitars mixed in with the thundering John Bonham-esque drumming from Magnus.  Add it together, and audiences get yet another great musical experience.  Once the band pounds through ‘Hard Bargain’, there’s jsut one more song on the album.  That song is the hard rocking, guitar driven, ‘Thunderflight.’  It’s just as relentless as the rest of the pieces on “Second Assault.”  Once it’s all said and done, and ‘Thunderflight’ ends, audiences are left breathless.  But it’s a good breathless.  From start to finish, this record leaves real rock fans feeling like they haven’t just listened to another album.  Rather, it leaves them feeling like they actually just experienced something special.  It leaves them wanting more, in a good way, like a really good book.  They don’t want it to end, even though they know it has to.  And thankfully, just like a book, audiences can listen to it again and again and relive that experience each and every time.

Rise Above Records made a great choice signing Horisont.  “Second Assault” is proof of that.  Of the ten total songs on the album, there is not one bad song.  All combined, “Second Assault” makes for an album that stands on its own two feet among the masses of bands whose albums try to emulate perhaps one classic rock band or another.  Horisont has taken the road less traveled, instead, making its own path.  Because of that, the band has put itself in place to be a candidate for the best rock record of 2012.

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Even in name only, Foreigner is ‘Alive & Rockin’

Five years ago, Eagle Rock Entertainment released “Alive & Rockin'” on dvd.  Considering that the band was (and is) really Foreigner in name only, the show’s title was fitting, as the nine-song setlist showed that this classic rock band was indeed still alive and rockin’.  Now, fans who bought the dvd back in 2007 will finally get to take this modern classic show anywhere with them as it will see the light of day on cd next week.

Whether or not fans already own the companion dvd to this new cd, the audio only presentation of the band’s live show proves that even with only one remaining original member, Foreigner hasn’t lost any steam since the last performance of its original lineup.  If anything, this audio presentation combined with its companion dvd, show a band that performs like it was ‘the very first time (yes that bad pun was intended).  The recording comes from the band’s 2006 show at Balingen Germany’s famed Bang Your Head Festival.  The band’s set included all of its major hits including:  ‘Double Vision’, ‘Cold as Ice’, and its equally famed anthem, ‘Feels Like The First Time.’ 

Even with vocalist Kelly Hansen now manning the mic, Jeff Pilson(Dokken) on bass and second generation drummer Jason Bonham (yes, that Jason Bonham) behind the kit, this incarnation of Foreigner rocks just as hard as the original lineup.  Bonham really gets his chance to shine in the intro to what is arguably the high point to the show in the combination of ‘Juke Box Hero’ and the band’s cover of the Zepplin classic, ‘Whole Lotta Love.’  His drum solo at the beginning of it all is reminiscent of his legendary father’s chops.  And Hansen is the perfect frontman as he leads the audience through ‘Juke Box Hero.’  It should be noted on a side note that Hansen does drop an “S” bomb during the song, ‘Dirty White Boy.’  This happens as he’s interacting with the audience.  Thankfully, that’s the extent of the foul language in the set.  That is at least in this presentation of the band’s set.

Just as drummer Jason Bonham shines, original guitarist Mick Jones gets more than his share of shning moments in this set, too.  He drives the band and the audience forward in the first three songs in the set.  The band slows things down with ‘Cold as Ice’ and ‘Starrider’ before Jones gets his moment again in the band’s mega-hit, ‘Feels Like The First Time.’  And his work in the closer, ‘Hot Blooded’ is spot on.  He and the entire band give their all to give its audience a huge closer.  And they do just that.  After it’s all said and done, this incarnation of Foreigner has shown that even though it may not be the original band, it more than does honor to the memory of what is one of the greatest bands in rock and roll history.

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