13th December 2013
The final show of 2013 was a real riot, a line-up packed with stars future and present mixing up the sub-genre’s but providing their own slant on high octane rock.
First to stake out their claim, was the brash and rising young hard rockers The Treatment. Their set was a blast of power, guitar licks and melody flashing nifty moments of soloing prowess in a mix of big chorus’, thumping rhythms and a driving tempo. Their new material was ok, I Bleed Rock & Roll being the pick of the bunch, while the rest was difficult to connect with seeing this was the first airing. Melodies seemed to be there but they lacked the familiarity of the older repertoire which brought many more fist pumps from the sizable early crowd. Their stage act is slick, enthused and engaging which cannot be faulted (except for the stature of their bassist which seemed to irrationally irk fellow DiR man The Docktor). I wait with baited breath to see what the album has in store.
Orange Goblin were next out, they wasted absolutely no time is obliterating any chance of being able to hear anything the next day. Their muscular and lolloping Stoner Rock cut huge swathes of gigantic riffage out of the mire of fuzz and astounding aural plunder. With sweat, dropped tuned guitars and long hair as standard they came, they saw and the conquered with their mega-sound. Having been about for a long time, many tracks were unfamiliar, but their blues based guitar licks never failed to impress. Vocals however (as with many live rock leviathans), were drowned and pulled helplessly into the whirlpool of noise. Hypnotic repetition failed to interest The Docktor, who was still reeling from the strength of his opinion on the first act. A defiantly different approach, but no less entertaining.
Finally we arrived at the headline act, Airbourne, who have climbed to the upper echelons of Rock Mountain with effortless ease. A task made much easier by their standing on the shoulders of Rock Giants Ac/Dc. Tight and powerful rhythm guitars with a packed arsenal of dangerous riffs fronted by an equally perilous leader who seriously put his body on the line each and every night, tonight was no exception. From cracking open beer cans on his head (both macho and stupid), riding around on shoulders in the crowd and climbing to the balcony (both while continuing to blast out captivating guitar solos) the Joel O’Keeffe circus has an abundance of tricks.
Showmanship of the highest order keeps the crowd fixated throughout despite when songs seem to start merging together with their similar melodies. No questions asked, Airbourne were born to rock, as they ride each huge track from their pulsating opening riffs through rollicking and romping tempo’s to their cataclysmic crescendo’s. Simple and loud, their beer swelling party ethos and daredevil antics are the kind of rallying cry for all men to join and party, beers and fists aloft.
Standout tunes were mainly the slower grooves which sparked huge sing and bounce-a-longs (yes, the elder crowd were jumpin’ too) such as No Way But The Hard Way, Back In The Game and Too Much Too Young Too Fast fitting this particular billing. New album material went down well, mainly because it rather similar to all their previous records. While variety was in short supply, you cannot fault Airbourne for doing what they do best, putting on the best rock and roll show the world has ever seen! Tonight, they did just that!
I’ll be honest, a get together of the DoesItRock motley crew for ages took precedence this evening, resulting in a later than planned entry to the Electric Ballroom this eve. Forgetting about the ridiculously early kick out times of venues with Friday night club nights, we were instantly greeted to the swell of anticipation at the arrival of the Black Spiders.
After being the only high ranking band in my top listen charts that I haven’t seen live, It’s fair to say I was excited. So they came, like hard rock behemoths they swooped and plundered riff after riff and terrorizing the audience with their macho Marshall/Gibson combo rock sound.
It was a shame then that after the release of a new album that they stuck to this material like glue, never venturing 2 or 3 song from its track list before coming running back again I guess after years of touring the same material they wanted to get their new stuff out there.
The new songs were flooded with guitars and quite often drowned out the vocals, whilst the chorus’s didn’t quite have the sing-a-long nature or immediacy of album one tunes. The highlights including the super heavy Motorhead style thrasher Teenage Knife Gang their ode to a late night stroll in Croydon Trouble and the power punching opener Knock You Out.
When the past beckoned it was clearly a cut above the rest on the sedate but infectious run through of “KISS Tried To Kill Me, the romper stomping mammoth sing-a-long of St. Peter and the carnage causing wind up and release of What Goods A Rock Without A Roll.
On the whole though it was the slower groovier sluggers which took most of the DiR praise, mostly because of the big chorus lines which gnawed into your head until you were singing like everybody else. I’m glad to have finally seen them, but given the pedestal I’d put them on before they struck a chord, it was going to be tough to match.
19th August 2013
Stoner Rock Floridians Torche made the trip across the pond to bring their refreshingly pop-centric brand of heaviness to London. Some UK support band were up first, it was a mixed bag.
The Jerks were a simple duo who eminated a sense of normality, right down to the attire and jam style interplay. They really just seemed to be having a great time, which in itself is a crowd pleaser. They played a ramdon brand of fuzzy rock with spasmodic time signatures and tempos. Never the same for more than a minute they were tricky to keep track of, as they bounded on giddying gallops one moment to laborious plunders the next. A surprise package which was a early treat.
If The Jerks were a bit random, then the Dundee based sub-headliners Fat Goth had to fight out of their strait jackets to get here tonight. They played a combo of deep chugging noise riffs all with undercurrents of very technical mathy fret runs and off-kilter melodies. They were mesmeric and hard to ignore, no matter which angle they decided to take. However when the vocalist opened his mouth it fell apart. Comical (and creepy) voices such as cowboy, falsetto’s, girly yelps and spoken words meant I felt embarrassed for the guy. Entertaining, yes…but in the way that’s really cringe worthy. Totally random and superbly enthralling, although not sure if its for the right reasons though.
With the main event imminent, Torche lined up with a towering statue. With the lights set to darkly and mysterious with flashes of ambient they begun the onslaught of the senses (I say senses, I mean hearing). Unfortunately the sound stampeding from their Orange amps was really awful. Whether it was a poor sound check we’ll never know, but the first 3-4 songs were blur of amp buzz and slurred riffs which have no bite or distinguishing melodies.
This was never truly rectified and it was only on their more uplifting singles did the crowd really start to get behind them. Set highlights which did match expectations were the boulder thumping riffs of Kicking and the frenetic energies of Walk It Off restoring my faith in their sound.
Rarely am I as disappointed as tonight, but when technical issues take a firm hold it’s hard to wrestle back control.
25th October 2013
Abandoned for the night I head alone into the electric ballroom with trepidation. Only to be greeted by a bunch of howling guitar slinging Aussies! Business as usual then! Tracer we’re good value go their sub slot tonight and played with the swagger of a headliner with nothing to lose. Thumping guitars riddled with hard blues fuzz gave them more of an outback stoner sound akin to QoTSA than fellow hard rockers acdc and Ac/Dc Jnr (Airbourne).
Plenty of heavy toe tapping drop d riffs and a fare dose of sing-along sections which had even the stoniest faced onlooker humming the in a joyous crowd chant. Plus they were good at working the crowd too, plenty of jokes and japes all with that cheeky Oz charm. A startlingly good set from a band I’ve not given enough credit till today!
Following the desert beer swilling fist pumping rock fest of Tracer, The Answer had much to prove, especially s Ii hadn’t yet spun their new album New Horizon.
I had need not worry despite them kicking off with the new eponymous title track as it was roof raising. Full of sparkling melodies, driving bluesy rhythms and supersonic vocals…all the best The Answer has to offer.
With brilliant delivery of new material and great clear sound they didn’t seem to want to do much else. In fact between this and their debut album, this accounted for what felt like 90% of the set. I’ll never complain about hearing golden oldies again, but it did feel like I was trapped in a time warp. Familiar also was their double header renditions of bluesy and soulful Memphis Water and Preachin’. Both put a very rootsy spin on classic rock and blues but clocking at 15mins between them, I’d rather have heard 3 or 4 other tunes (No New Day Rising…sad face).
Not to wholly disappoint on set listing, On and On and Under The Sky were aired with aplomb, as 2 of the best hard rocks songs in the game. The best song of the night however was a really beautiful mellow and vocal heavy reworking of Nowhere Freeway, a moving and beautiful power semi-ballad. Brilliant solos, extended jams, crowd walks, ‘all sit down’s and thunderous guitars made to fling your noddle to is what they do best. Playing blues and musicianship is high on their agenda which despite the extended noodling, The Answer are still the class prefects of the new school (of the old school) of classic rockers!
23rd July 2013
After a rip roaring outing at the Monto Water Rats many years ago (Over 7 years ago now, wow), I could not resist the lure of The Thermals once more. This time they come after a couple of poppier LP’s laying back their sound, would their show be equally electrifying? The support tonight came from Slowcoach. After 6 months has elapsed, it turns out I have no recollection of the performance or their sound, which in itself is evidence in its own right.
The Thermals however left another rampaging wake in my memory with their blistering indie punk which belies their relatively polishes LP’s. Each song was a short sharp burst of energy, played with buzzing fuzz guitars and romping bass lines, enough of which have memorable pop chorus’s to keep the crowd happy. Alongside their true rock out moments which sparked crashing bodies to fly this was a balanced set of songs from old aggression, recent fine melodic moments all delivered with bursting enthusiasm.
Set highlights includes the recent return to fine rock out form “Born To Kill”, slow melodic bounder “Never Listen To Me” and the terrifyingly brilliant assault of “Here’s Your Future”.
The advancing years have not taken any toll on The Thermals, plus there’s no sign of them slowing down any time soon either.
18th July 2013
***Playing catch up on the review front…memories are hazy at best…Pics AWOL***
One of the less widely known buzz bands of the past few years made the trip to London in the summer for a rather intimate outing in Camden in support of their latest album Celebration Rock. Mr Flowers and I were in the venue early and caught their support act The Wytches.
Their inoffensive indie rock was jaunty and light. Mr. Flowers was suitably impressed with their style and tunes, their underground lo-fi’ness an attractive attribute (henceforth shattered by their rise over the last 6 months). For me however it sounded like every other indie band who seem to all share an effect pedal/rig harking to surfy 60’s guitars packed with reverb which lacks in punchy tones (I think they all must use the same one on timeshare). Still young and with far to go they get a half thumbs up from doesitrock.net on this occasion.
Japandroids are not your typical indie rockers, they are a power duo who like to play rawkus noise rock, yet want people to sing along too. This was all in evidence this evening as they started their aural assault kicking head splitting drums and amping up layer of fuzz, over overdrive, over fuzz, over overdrive etc… Their thumping melodies were only matched in stature by their towering chorus’ from their latest LP.
Standout moments included the rampaging Evil’s Sway and the summery sprinkled chant vocals of The House That Heaven Built. The venue was packed and crowd in fine voice throughout generating a buzz of its own all night.
With just guitar and drum kit it’s hard to be truly diverse, where on occasion they suffered from repetitive riff syndrome on their lesser known album tracks. But with enough cannonballs in their arsenal there was plenty enough bombardment of fret board firepower to keep us happy, ranging from chugging punk strikes to chimed high notes providing the backdrop for the effect heavy vocal howls.
Tonight Japandroids showed themselves to be a star band, deceptively big and heavy despite their pop angles and love of a huge sing-a-long melody.
This years countdown is into it’s top 10, time to find out who takes home the title, and who’s a dirty rascal…
10) Frank Turner – Tape Deck Heart
Franks transformation from the hardcore punk turned touring folk troubadour who would gladly sleep on your floor after a show to the UK’s premier acoustic rock star and all round national treasure has been confirmed. His latest album matches this step up in profile with a packed LP of undeniably huge songs fit for stadium sized singalongs. This is more pop rock than folk but his adept skill at writing both catchy but meaningful songs is still in tact. This is about the most happy sounding breakup album ever! Full of rousing chants, yet the lyrics document a outpouring of heartbreak and lost love. Frank has never lost the ability to pen raw and honest song and here, he is back at the top of his game.
9) The Virginmarys – King Of Conflict
Finally, after many years of circling with excellent EP’s teasing us with unhinged raw blues energy, 2013 saw the Virginmary’s unleash their debut, which was everything we’d hoped for. This trio strip back all of the production gloss and turn the amps up to make gloriously noisy and punchy blues rock packed with killer hooks, boundless enthusiasm and infectious chorus lines. King of Conflict is a rampant riot of a record, which is both exhilarating and exciting!
8) Volbeat – Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies
Volbeat have been making great records for a while now, their latest is another to add to their rising credentials as Scandinavia’s finest Hard Rock/Metal band. Musically akin to a hard rock juggernaut armed with metal jagged guitars, yet vocally as soulful and as clean as a whistle, all while walking the line between dark and deep grooves chugged from huge amps to concise and bright pop songs. The mood swing-o-meter pinball’s about which keeps this album interesting, but its their catchy rock numbers (of which there are many) and melodic soaring choruses which kept me coming back. Nice and cleanly produced this is a big album from a bad assed band.
7) Clutch – Earth Rocker
Clutch have cometh once more, and they bring southern attitude. style and massive songs. This is their rockiest record for some time and they reminded me of just how good they can be when they crank their amps and play all out attack rock and roll. Spinning weaves of blues & deep south into their version of hard rock, this truly stands out as a terrific record, full of high octane energy, thrusting tempo’s and the ragged croak of those deep booming vocals. Varied, engrossing and fiery, Earth Rocker just takes the bull by the horn, gives a huge kick and lets you see how long you hang on tight.
6) Coheed & Cambria – The Aftermath Descension
After the loose and proggy pop of The Aftermath Ascension, I wasn’t sure what to expect with 2013’s second Aftermath album, Descension. Like the title suggests this is a brooding and dark album which is as beautiful as any of their previous works. Tuning down the tempo and letting Claudio’s vocals fly like a bird in flight allow for a different side to be showcased, one that has me addicted. The guitars (technical as ever) are still there in abundance but mainly used to bolster the drama and create huge waves of noise at the melody crescendo’s. Taking nods from classic rock, metal, prog and pop, C&C are always able to write brilliantly different songs which are still familiar and composed of the up most emotion and impact. This Descension is pure genius.
5) The Bronx – IV
The Bronx, after doing the totally unexpected and converting (temporarily) to a mariachi band…I’m please to announce they are back doing what we have come to expect of them. Straight talking, no nonsense blasts of punk attitude and a 6 barrels full of lock and loaded energy punk rock. Swaying closer mainstream sound with less abrasive vocals and more melodies than on previous releases this album is a surefire success. Each song produces either a captivating guitar riff, an addictive vocal harmony or thundering melody, each driven along at 100mph by non-stop thudding drums. Like a vice, once it has you in its grips…The Bronx barely relents.
4) Monster Truck – Furiosity
New boys Monster Truck knew they were onto a winner. So much so that they had to invent a new word to describe just how awesome and powerful their debut album! Furiosity is about an apt a description I can think for this rocket fuel powered, nitro guzzling hard rock beast. Equal parts harmony, melody and gruff classic rock vocals yet overwhelmed by the carnage created by the blazing guitar riff destruction derby. Pure simplicity of the good old blues lick and hell for leather fury combine to make a stonking release which looms over all comers like the champion it is. If you love rock, you’ll love Monster Truck.
3) Dinosaur Pile-Up – Nature Nurture
Dinosaur Pile-Up’s sophomore effort was created just as number #1, entirely by front man and lead guitarist Matt Bignall. There is no doubt his incredible talent for writing songs and vocal hooks large enough to see from space. Grungy guitar thumping typify their more energetic punked up songs, but more modern rock and foo fighters comparisons can be drawn as the tracks tick by. Honestly there is not a single dud tune on Nature Nurture, plus the album flows so beautifully through rampant rock, to perfect pop on what is a tremendous alt-rock record that deserves to be noticed!
2) Heaven’s Basement – Filthy Empire
Author Bias Alert! After nearly 5 years of following these guys through the underbelly of London’s gig circuit, they finally landed a coveted record deal with Red Bull and boy have they delivered. Heaven’s Basement play ferocious modern rock inspired by the classic exponents. Bulging and pulsating with unrestrained energy and flair. New songs have stood up well alongside the material pulled from their early singles and EP’s, especially when doubling up the vocals and unleashing the mesmerizing guitar pyrotechnics. Riffs are tight, melodies are massive and the production is clean. Sweeping from all out attack to infectious pop-rock catchiness, Filthy Empire is loaded with soaring rock anthems which demand you to raise your fists to the sky, sing your heart out and jump about like you just don’t care! A fine debut, years in the making!
1) Alter Bridge – Fortress
Alter Bridge have returned to set a new career defining standard in Hard Rock, one which blasted all fellow AOTY contenders into oblivion with its epic power. By far their heaviest album to date, the dropped tuning creates immense Richter measurable riffs and melodies which are astoundingly good. In the words of the band, “it’s like dumper trucks falling from the heavens”, who am I to argue. Technical and complex dual guitar work is pervasive throughout and create memorable melodies both challenging and familiar. Lead singer Myles shows why he’s one of the greatest rock vocalists of a generation. Fortress packs the impact of a meteor, the wake of comet and the staying power of a planet. That’s why its DoesItRock.nets Album of 2014!
Let’s hope 2014 is half as good as 2013!