Posts tagged Metal

Albums of 2014: 10 – 1

The countdown continues with the Top 10 Albums of 2014…

10)  Weezer  – Everything Will Be Alright In The End

After all this time Weezer are still a good as ever on their latest LP. Looking backwards to blue In a good way, focusing on those fabulous understated college pop melodies, cool for being uncool vibes and as ever their dash of special doo-waah hooks. Packed with witty and self mocking lyrics, it’s also quite a fun listen also. But with chorus’ like these, destined to be stuck in your head all day, It’s not surprise it’s been such a success!

9) Marmozets – Weird & Wonderful Marmozets

Like a true abstract collage of pop, math, metal and punk all on a broad canvas of youthful energy and disregard for the rules….this is perfect modern rock! Erratic swerves from all out aural assaults to complex technical riffs, scything synths, pop punk gang harmonies and spiteful screeches. Also shows huge songwriting potential on some impressive piano rock balladry too. Exciting new talent which like to push the boundaries.

8) The Smith Street Band – Throw Me In The River

Akin with Frank Turner or Hold Steady verbosity, The Smith Street Band’s latest is steeped in poignant, poetic and passionate lyrics. Lines you sit learn and scream out at live shows like nothing else exists. A spectacle of raw honest, open hearted tales both world-weary and awestruck that captivates from the first line to the last chord. All the while the ever melodic alt rock back-flips from dour picked strings to all out thrash outs via exuberant melodies almost as impressive as the vocals. Truly Captivating!

7) Grand Magus – Triumph & Power

Triumph & Power is as collosal as rock gets. Evoking images of Vikings plundering the frozen wastelands of Scandinavia, knights riding to death or glory and scenes of epic battles past. Galloping riffs, giant melodies and a knack for catchy chorus’ only serve to elevate this above 2014’s kings of hard rock.

6) I Am The Avalanche – Wolverines

Wolverines is a rampaging pop-punk record with gnarling flashes of hardcore punk coursing through its veins. Encapsulating this vibe are the stand-out vocals which soar and snarl in equal measure, howled with real intensity and vigour throughout. Emphasis here is on all out punk attach with a clean polished punk rock sound with all the pop boxes ticked for good measure. Huge sing-a-long chorus’s, Check. Simple but effective power chords, Check. Enigmatic vocals, check. Gang Wow-ohhs, check. A packed LP of fist aloft anthems, waiting for widespread appeal!

5) Cloud Nothings – Here & Nowhere Else

Clocking in at a blistering 31 mins 24 secs the raggedly lo-fi garage punk of Cloud Nothings barely stops for breath. Exhausting energy bounds throughout charting the demise of a relationship is one of the most openly honest lyrical outings this year. Despite this, it has to go down as one of the most high octane breakup records ever penned. Lightning punk strikes, exhilarating drumming and machine gun lyrics fuel what’s a true out of control joyride of indie rock prowess. Uncontrollable but unstoppable!

4) Destrage – Are you Kidding Me

 

Destrage mix a unique concoction of Diamond tipped metalcore, off kilter math riffing, punkish tempo’s and accelerating and twisting melodic phrasing brings the most eclectic explosions of 2014 (occasionally all within the same song). Dance and dub heavy electronic surges and erratic tempo changes makes this album totally unpredictable, shifting from politically charged acid tongued vitriol to big chorus’d melodic chaos punk. Can be pretty heavy in places but the screams and the cleans are both do well balancing anger and enigmatic qualities. Whilst varied, the album is (somehow) cohesive and the fun/crazed lyrics (“We shoot zombie’s in the face” anyone?) match the unrestrained vibe of a band at a creative peak.

3) Black Pistol Fire – Hush Or Howl

Two men, One Guitar, One Drum kit. the simplicity and effectiveness of execution which elevates this retro garage blues ablum above the pack this yeat. Doing Blues soaked rock better than anyone else like a former White Stripes or once a Black Keys these guys have enough vintage vibes crossed with an abundance of corking riff heavy tunes to make his a rip roaring bonafide modern blues classic.

2) Märvel – Hadal Zone Express

Above all else Marvel’s latest has brought the most whimsy and fun to 2014’s rock roster, harking back to the glory days of the 70’s hard rock of Thin Lizzy and the garage rock revivalists of the early 00’s. A pure pop rock album infused with rock and roll blood pumped along at a fair gallop. Focused upon creating inventive but addictive riffs and a constant stream of singalong songs means Hadal Zone Express both excels in rocking hard and captivating the popular ear. Beware the Danish Rush as these (gimp-esque) masked Scandinavian retro rockers are coming for you too!

1) Johnny Foreigner – You Can Do Better

Whilst not breaking their scatterbrain indie rock mould, JF have produced their most consistent and enigmatic album of their career to date, Mixing the melodic musings of Wifi Beach with the ramshackle riff-meisters of Shipping, there is so much to fall head over heels for. Never a dull moment as each song ducks and dives in its unique JF way where noisy clattering guitars somehow combine to form addictive melodies. The JF boy/girl duelling vocals again are both sweet, smooth and edgy highlighting the irreverent but addictive lyrics. A heady and pulsating adventure in indie-rock which has climbed to the top of the 2014 DiR.net mountain.

That’s all folks…2015 here we come!

Albums of 2014: 25-11

I’ll be honest, I checked out a far more music this year than usual in search of the album which would to the top of this countdown. But there was a distinct lack of big hitting rock monsters from an established artists, with disappointing releases from Black Stone Cherry, Foo Fighters, The Gaslight Anthem, F**cked Up ,Death From Above 1979 but to name a few, has typified my year. However that has given the Album of 2014 list a more diverse feel to it which is never a bad thing. The albums which have made the grade have done so with high praise from DoesItRock HQ.

Without further ado I present this 2014’s DoesItRock.net Album of the Year countdown. (As usual free from critical sneering and driven purely by honest love of guitars, drums and voices.)

 EP/Mini-Album) Hey Vanity – Blindfolds

Chelmsford based Post-Hardcore rockers released their first mini album after last years promising EP. Standing out from the crowd, they mix challenging riffs and razor edged guitars with stunningly catchy pop hooks.

 25) Toseland – Renegade

Former Superbike World Champion James Toseland turns his hand to rock by fronting his own hard rock band. Turns out he’s got a damn good rock voice. Backing this up with some tasty riffs and pop slanted melodies this album was an unexpected treat. Not exactly original and lyrics are standard fare, but they do rock pretty hard!

24) The Datsuns – Deep Sleep

The Datsuns whilst still lighting the classic rock canon have changed the fuse and gone Sabbath. Still packed with fuzz packed, riff heavy garage rock and roll but this album is darker in mood and tone. Such marked progression from a retro rock band is rare, hence it’s being celebrated here.

23) Orange Goblin – Back From The Abyss

Thirsty for riffs? These lumbering Stoner Rock mammoths deliver a earth shattering set of monster amp maxing anthems packed with pure guitar power. Uncompromising whilst retaining the accessible vibe of uplifting rock anthems. Worth thumping the head for!

22) Blues Pills – Blues Pills

Of all the current new wave of old retro rockers Blue Pills are by far the most dynamic and unique. Taking raw production values and a youthful vigour for blues they meld boisterous energy and drifting psychadelia to mind spiralling effects. At their best when flicking between loud/soft and slow/fast all whilst blasting our rawkus guitar licks and seductive vocals.

21) Slash – World On Fire

The legendary behatted Gibson Les Paul slinger returns with the greatest rock vocalist of a generation Myles Kennedy for another adrenaline fueled romp through the classic/hard rock songbook. Loads of quality riffs and guitars driving huge chorus’ as you would expect from 2 men on top of their games. But there’s too much slash being slash genericism for this to place higher, plus its waaay to long as well.

20) The Brew – Control

A concept album from this hard working British blues band tips the right scales on their latest album. Pop laced rock numbers with supremely catchy melodies and guitar hooks aplenty. Honest, addictive with true swagger and style. Amazingly its also recorded LIVE!!! Control throws of the shackles of overproduced rock and blasts out raw powerful rock and roll!

19) The Treatment – Running With The Dogs

Hard Rocker’s The Treatment’s latest album is packed to the rafters with pop friendly chorus’ and killer guitar hooks. Snarling vocals, thunderous riffs, and  bold steamroller energy reinforces their status as once of the best new classic/hard rock bands in the UK. Running With The Dogs is more radio friendly than their debut, but this doesn’t hinder this a stellar set of headline grabbing tunes which have grown into some of my favourites this year.

18) Audrey Horne – Pure Heavy

Exactly what it says on the cover, Pure Heavy! For their latest album these Norwegian rockers went all traditional metal with some startlingly good results. Songs are driven by diamond tipped melodies and huge booming chorus’s. Huge array of upbeat, uptempo and romper stomping anthems sure to set pulses racing!

17) Joe Bonamassa – Different Shades Of Blue

The premier blues man of the 21st century delivers yet another brilliant addition to his growing back catalogue. This is a more traditional LP, laced with soul, heartbreak and plenty of rhythm n’ blues to match. Guitar workouts are less prominent, allowing the fully backed songs to shine for themselves. One thing is for certain, the blues will never fade away while Joes’s in town!

16) Royal Blood – Royal Blood

Hype machine finally tunes into rock.fm! This Brighton duo produce some of the dirtiest bluesy riffed hard rock under the guise of cool scenesters, following in the trail og bluesy rockers previous Black Keys & White Stripes. The real winner on this album is the Production. Royal Blood pump out a magnificent racket which emanates stunning super-power from every conceivable angle. Whilst not the most inventive or best big scuzzed up rock around, it certainly the most stylishly polished.

15) Antemasque – Antemasque

Latest incarnation of alt rock legends Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala, sees them strip away all the unnecessary indulgences and focuses on high tempo, high impact punk infused rock. Antemasque married tight indie-rock songs with enigmatic vocal hooks, off-kilter clanging guitars and a knack for a nifty melody or two. A total change in direction from Mars Volta’s excesses, but elements creep back to keep us on our toes to ensure this is anything but a dull listen.

14) The Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams

 

Everyone’s favourite bar band is back to doing what they do best, weaving shaggy dog stories in and out of their melody-centric rock songs. Songwriting are every bit as good as ever, leaving you tied to the lyric book for the next quotable line. Bringing the focus back onto the harmonies and chorus’ has paid dividends as this is a return to their early career highlights.

13) Mean Creek – Local Losers

 

Indie rockers Mean Creek know how to write classic pop ditties and clearly also know how to throw caution to the wind. Its the intersection of the frenzied indie rock attack, punked up guitars, pop melodies and sugary sweet girl/boy vocal harmonies ensure a headline grabbing sound. Local Losers is a real rapid fire album of short sharp addictive tunes which breeze past leaving you humming them all day.

12) Manchester Orchestra – Cope

Manchester Orchestra’s twee indieness has been well and truely shattered with this “their big rock album” which succeeds with self-confident swagger at odds to their more normal introspective/subdued standards. The template is clearly let’s make Pinkerton 2.0, it almost a succeeds too! A combo of hulking indie rock noise, wailing guitars and tight insistent melodies is truly fantastic. I’m a fan of their new rawkus direction, but it won’t stay long seeing as the companion acoustic version LP Hope” is already out.

11) Against Me – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

The punk bands first outing after the outing of lead singer Laura Jane Grace (Tom Gabel) is a very important record. Bringing LGBT issues to the fore in an open, honest and raw way with Laura’s rough vocals opening a window into her former/new life. The fact that it’s wrapped in Against Me!’s usual pop heavy vocal harmonies and driven by some damn catchy upbeat rock numbers keeps you coming back for more. Transgender Dysphoria Blues is about as punk a record could be in 2014!

Stay tuned for the top 10 (sometime soon…..)!

 

Heaven’s Basement @ The Electric Ballroom

27th March 2014

Heaven’s Basement finally have found a rich vein of success and their headline show at The Electric Ballroom way back in March underlines their new found popularity. Their support came from a mix of sleaze glam hard rockers The Dirty Youth, who impressed with their melodic guitar work and big vocal hooks in the short time they were around.

mini-Glamour Of The Kill (1)

Glamour of the Kill, post-hardcore noiseniks did plenty to upset the hard rock theme and brought the metal edged nastiness. Razor sharp riffing and abundance of electro backings they surely entertained, but sadly lost marks for fairly average vocal efforts. At their best when straddling the line between metal and melody.

Heaven’s Basement were as impressive as ever. I liked their staging whereby their relatively short singer/lead guitarist were up on pedestals for all to see, adding that extra bit of pro-polish and entertainment value.

mini-Heaven's Basement (1)

Playing a mix of titanium edged guitars with a increasingly heavy outlook they truly rocked out. Combining their fast and heavy elements with their knack for Pop melodies and huge hard rock riff brings out their best.

mini-Heaven's Basement

Vocalist Aaron has grown in confidence and is now a true front man with a great stage presence.

mini-Heaven's Basement (5)
Let’s hope they continue on their climb up the rock ladder. But as we all know, “It’s a long way to the top…if you want to rock and roll!”

mini-Heaven's Basement (8)

Iron Maiden @ Download Festival 2013

Once again I headed once again to the spiritual home of Rock, Donington Park for a stunning lineup to listen and capture some eclectic up-comers, resurgent groups, underrated rockers and true megastars taking influence from the entire spectrum of the rock/metal clenched fist.

I took some photos and watched some bands, here’s the day in brief…

UFO

UFO (2)

Stood still for the camera, which was more to do with their advancing years. Proper classic rock still sounds good to these ears.

UFO (1)

Highlight: Storming rendition of Doctor, Doctor

Heaven’s Basement

Heaven's Basement (1)


Finally the band we have been trumpeting here at DiR.net for years have made it onto the first rung of the ladder, destination rock rocket to the top. They truly ran rampant on huge stage and I loved every glorious minute of this power packed energetic set of high attitude modern rock and roll. Huge crowd and fantastic reception…the general public seem to now agree with me! Sure to rise and rise on from here.

Heaven's Basement (3)

Highlight: The band’s remarkable display of happiness,astounded that so many people actually turned up, each rewarded with a huge version of Executioners day!

 

Hardcore Superstar

Hardcore Superstar (2)

Swedish sleaze glamsters clad in objectionable outfits came and conquered the utterly terrible weather which saw 2 huge downpours deposited on the crowd. Despite this their upbeat party anthems and fist pumping punk rock tunes provoked much singing in the rain and dancing in the aisles.

Hardcore Superstar (1)

Highlight: ‘We Don’t Celebrate Sunday’s‘, sparking a massive sing and dance along in the middle of a torrential soaking. it was a case of “c’mon skies, is that all you got!”

Black Star Riders

Black Star Riders (1)

Ricky Warwick and the remains of the Thin Lizzy crew were back again this year under their new moniker with a set of (oddly enought) Lizzy-esque rock tunes which could be easily be plucked straight from the 70’s legends. Throw in some greatest hits such as Jailbreak, Boys Are Back In Town, Rosalie and another rain defying epic Whisky In The Jar…their set was a absolute pleasure from the first rings of Scott Gorham’s guitar to the final note of Wawick’s Lynott lined lungs.

Black Star Riders (3)

Highlight: Whisky In The Jar getting a field full of old drowned rats jumping around like youthful loons in bright sunlight.

Katatonia

Katatonia

With dark clouds looming and a mist like patter of rain descending over the 2nd stage, there was no better atmosphere for my next band, the black metal titans, Katatonia. Their dour gloom, huge guitars and soulful clean vocals cut a lonely figure which crashed wave after wave of sorrow into the skies. Yet somehow there is a glimmer of hope running through them which is hard to pin, melodic and beautiful, a unique set.

Katatonia (3)

Highlight: The Parting’s soaring vocal section, juxtaposed against their deep earth excavating riffs.

Karnivool

Karnivool (3)

Aussies Karnivool were here to make a statement that Progressive Rock/Metal still reigns, on a performance like this its hard to disagree. A dazzaling assortment of melodies and sounds, given punch with sparse but crushing overdriven guitars and bound together with the beautifully fragile and powerful voice of front man, (one of my favourite vocalists). His emotive and distinct vocals were just as good live as it cut like knife through the gathering booming soundscapes. A pause for thought and refelection, but unmissable nonetheless.

Karnivool (1)

Highlight: Simple Boy and its xylophone melody giving way to a stonking deep 7 string bass riff machine

Mastodon

Mastodon

Being a hell of a long way back I could only pick out a few cool riffs here and there, time to exercise the zoom lens.

Alice In Chains

Alice In Chains (1)

A faithful following swarmed around the main stage for the return of these heavy grungers. New material from their comeback albums were typified with some pretty awesome bass riffs which had the hard rock crowd salivating. Vocals from DuVall/Cantrell were as good as expected, not overplaying but leading charged singalongs on their biggest hits Rooster and Down In A Hole. Despite the lyrical subject material they sounded uplifting and this well rounded set of loud and soft moments really impressed.

Alice In Chains (2)
Highlight: The sheer number of blow up chickens which found their way stagewards during Rooster.

Motorhead

Motorhead (2)

This was not their finest outing, plenty of really old and obscure tracks had the faithful worshiping and the classics were all here too. Nothing out of the ordinary, but still you can’t mess with Motorhead, neither would I recommend it.

Motorhead (1)
Highlight: The set ending knockout 1-2 combo of Ace of Spades and Overkill

Queens Of The Stone Age

QOTSA

A newly re-invigorated QotSA were here today, which marked one of the best sets of the day. Equal measures of high quality, heavy desert stoner drawn from the latest album and Fuzz driven upbeat dance rock from Songs From The Deaf, they stuck to the formula which has brought them so much success. Their greatest hits were all aired and picking the more melodic and high octane tracks really pumped up the crowd. A fitting warm up for the epic headliners to come.

QOTSA (2)

Highlight: Little Sister, where the guitar solo and thumping bass line collide, caused carnage.

Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden (5)

When you can commission a flypast from a WWII Spitfire to start your set off with a bang, you are clearly in for something very special. Their ‘Maiden England’ tour was a success on its first outing, today its reprise was just as epic. Triple Guitar attack and a greatest hits set spanning their best albums this was a blast from the past which has endured its time and is clearly still as popular today. Pyrotechnics, flames, fireworks, costume changes, a 20 ft Eddie, plenty of British & war imagery was all part of the elaborate staging which was just as absorbing as the music on offer. The crowd were in full voice and knew every word coming from Bruce Dickinson’s falsettos vocal chords. A magnificent performance from a band who has been doing this size show for decades! A Superb Show!
Iron Maiden (6)

Highlight: Fear of The Dark, with the entire crowd bellowing the opening riff a Capella.

 

Iron Maiden (4)

Voodoo Six, New City Kings @ The Garage

9th May 2013,

A fairly sparsely inhabited Garage awaited for evenings openers Fighting Wolves. They came, they played a few tracks, they departed. My notes read thus… “amateurish, bad sound, over stretched vocals. Decent songs, poorly executed…possibly.” I think that just about covers it.

Fighting Wolves

I was totally unaware of the sub-headline act, which I think has made my new found admiration all the more greater. Alongside their home town, the new 2012 Jubilee city of Chelmsford, New City Kings are rising fast. There was a marked swing in the female direction as their charismatic front man stood tall centre stage as many besotted onlookers swooned. With plenty of local support cheering them on they played a remarkably assured and professional set, packed with melodic hooks and strong chorus’s, I was rather impressed. Note to self, add these guys to the watch list.

New City Kings

Voodoo Six strutted rather than walked, postured rather than stood and rocked their hearts out for a hours worth of corking hard rock anthems worthy of any festival stage or arena venue.
Voodoo Six
While a twin guitar will always make my eyes light up, these axe men were a delight to watch a they entwined their licks and solos between each other raising the bar each and every time. What works the best is that their two totally different musicians, which doesn’t really come across on record. There’s the metal head and the blues man, long hair vs. short, smooth soulful licks vs. frantic shreds, wailing string bends vs. sweep picked speed. Put together their a force to be reckoned with. Vocalist was strong and they played their home town roots to rapture and applause all night.
Your Way was the pick of their new material with twin solo in Falling Knives being the highest moment  of melodic thin Lizzy-esque bliss, while oldies such as groove heavy Long Way From Home and the wahhed stomper Like The Other Did didn’t  fail to impress. Tonight was a masterclass in hard rock and working of a smallish crowd into a buzzing riot of wide eyed acolytes ready to obey all commands from the Voodoo Six bible of hard rock.

Kvelertak & Truckfighters @ The Electric Ballroom

14th March 2013,

After missing out on Kvelertak’s first time down at the Borderline last year, it was with great pleasure I wandered into the Electric Ballroom tonight ready to be blasted by the monsters of black and roll. As you may imagine many things have grown over this last 12 months for tonight’s headline act; the budgets, the crowds, venue capacities and line-up quality.

Sadly the latter does not account for the openers El Doom and The Born Electric. Their 70’s retro influenced guitar and piano noodling outfit, had a couple of decent melodies in among their expansive songs indebted more to Americana than their native Nordics. Still they were entertaining to watch as the lead singer (who is the Father of a Kvelertak Guitarist) act as if he’s 21 and doesn’t have a son backstage. Calls to screw groupies and plenty more crude jokes must make a son proud of old dad! To his credit though, he’s still can rock a cool cowboy hat!

El Doom & The Born Electric

A few weeks before DesertFest 2013 arrives in Camden for a 2 day/3 night Stoner spectacular, one of the main attractions were here tonight for a trial run in support of their Scandinavia counterparts. The reigning lords and masters of fuzz, Truckfighters! After witnessing their incredible set. I believe I have found the true definition of ‘the’ power trio. Every sonic wave created by this band is intended to knock you on your ass with it’s mighty seismic force, obliterating all in its path. The Orange amps were kicking out was more fuzz than the combined casts of The Muppets and Fraggle Rock.

Truckfighters

Despite being an mainly instrumental band, these guys are a blast live. All eyes were on the adrenaline fueled, semi naked guitarist Dango, who was bouncing, pogoing, spinning and pulling skateboard tricks Tony Hawks would be proud. His axe partner in crime bassist/vocalist Ozo, by comparison was far too cool to be jumping about like a loon, concentrating instead on thumping out some hefty bass lines and sparse vocals. Minds were sore after this set due to the epic noise onslaught and the infectious head bang which pervaded through the enthused crowd. Brilliant and boisterous!

Ozo

Kvelertak were here on serious business tonight with 5 of more professional video cameramen were strewn around the floor at varying vantage points (the guy who was placed to cover the unfolding chaotic mosh pits must have drawn the short straw tonight). From the very first glimpse of the band, they were here to make a big impression. When all 4 guitarists and the lead vocalist wearing a menacing owl headdress lined up on centre stage,  back dropped by their huge amp stacks and lit up by blinding lightning strike strobes you wouldn’t be hard pushed to imagine the Apocalypse was coming. I for one can’t shake the captivating visuals of this raw and unhinged Norse Viking power, both sonically potent and visually striking.

Erland Hjelvik

Immediately into their groove they gave a lesson in high octane rock with a rasping metallic edge as they showcased many new tracks from their upcoming album, Meir. These new tracks had all the melody and attack of their fantastic debut, but also shifted into slightly more accessible realms for the casual listeners.

Kvelertak

Gang vocal hooks and even a high bend classic rock solo were on display. Vocals were literally as understandable as Norwegian screams, but it never seems to matter as they provide clout and machismo to the stunning triple guitar work. Their live axe wielding is some of the best I’ve seen as the talented trio chop and change between solos, dueling riffs and rhythm responsibilities never missing a chance to flare or thunder another huge chord.

There was no mistaking tonight that Kvelertak have most definitely arrived…on tonight’s performance, they are also here to stay! Long live Black and Roll!

Albums of 2012: 10 – 1

It’s time to complete the countdown of DoesItRock.nets favourite albums of 2012…

10) The Darkness – Hot Cakes

There was much excitement here at DiR.net when news broke that the brothers Hawkins ‘were gettin’ the band back together’. Live they’re still a hoot, enigmatic and brilliant as ever…but I didn’t expect how good their return LP would be. Yes its cheesy, yes it’s full of glittery glammed guitars but who cares, its The Darkness! Their tongue is still firmly in cheek, but thankfully far from the overly druggy themes of album #2. Hot Cakes is smothered in big fun romps of incredibly catchy guitar fueled genius.

9) Corrosion Of Conformity – Corrosion Of Conformity

This album has been the revelation of the year. Blending both metals deep and sludgy riffs with the angry attack and unrelenting energy of no hold barred punk, CoC have a label unto themselves. Masters of their own genre, this album riffs like a lumbering dinosaur on rocket skates shifting erratically from stoner grooves to thrashed palm muted chugs. The slow/fast dynamic has never been so apparent, or so finely executed within the abundance of cracking heavy rock tunes.

8) Foxy Shazam – The Church Of Rock And Roll

Another DiR.net favourite, the boundless oddity and eccentric songwriting of Foxy Shazam was restrained somewhat on this years gospel themed offering. By anyone else’s standards though, they are still totally bonkers. Assisted by Justin Hawkins on production duties the Darkness man influences the more driving rock tunes here, producing the finest uplifting pop-rockers of the year. Their pop aspect is hugely enjoyable and with a emotional dose of beautiful balladry, this album has much to recommend and explore.

7) Torche – Harmonicraft

It’s been a while in coming, but critics have finally caught up with the point that big rock can be beautiful too! These stoner rockers with progressive ambitions have created both huge and expansive head throbbing titans that have a catchy edge. Strong trippy vocals and lumbering guitars demand your attention, but it’s as they add the pop spice into their concoction, their potent drug of rock pleasure is complete.

6) Orange Goblin – A Eulogy For The Damned

Relentless onslaughts of wave after wave of earthshaking power chords dominate the hard rocking album of the year. These veteran Stoners have crafted a album packed with gigantic melodies, infectious de-tuned riffs which you just want to blast out at 11 obliterating all in their wake. In among the plodding systematic bass lines lie a raft of vengeful vocals and a burning urgency for chaos. Monolithic Stoner rock has had a good year in my books.

5) The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten

Another album of the highest order has only served to push Gaslight towards becoming the most essential band on the planet. Still burning with passion and pride, Fallon’s lyrics are as beautiful and tale telling as ever bouyed by the driving  yet understated retro guitars. They have carved a good balance here between slow emotive balladry and uplifting road songs with one foot in springsteens shoes to raise the spirits and fists skywards. A great album which both satisfies both old and newcomers alike.

4) Tallest Man On Earth – There’s No Leaving Now

The odd out out in this years top ten comes courtesy of the fantastic folk icon, The Tallest Man On Earth. On this LP he channels a fragility which is both heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure. His simple guitar melodies, however low key, are incredibly hard to shake and are iresistably matched to this lo-fidelity record of lyrical and emotive beauty. However nasally, dylan’y and seemingly un-romantic his voice resonates, the delicacy of the fraught verses is in itself an un-expected triumph. An honest and true album of stunning proportions.

3) Halestorm – The Strange Case Of…

In 2013 there was only one lady of Rock and Roll, her name is Lzzy Hale. This powerhouse vocalist and guitar slinger is responsible for some of the most catchy pop rock of the year, some of the biggest rock anthems and definitely some serious girl power attitude. Melodies galore and more sing-a-longs than a cockney pub piano this is a joyous album of high octane guitars and driving attack wrapped in a pop package that’s hard to resist.

2) Japandroids – Celebration Rock

Anthemic indie rockers Japandroids have struck gold with their combo of raw rock power, polished production and ear for a massive chorus. Producing one of the best indie albums for years, these songs set sights for the sky with sweeping reverbed guitars and lo-fi vocals blasted with euphoric bliss. From the first pulsating soaring anthem to the last Celebration Rock is pure quality, all killer, no filler. An A* lesson in indie rock which captures both heart hearts of the pop fans, the passion of the rock acolytes and the minds of the indie crews.

1) Accept – Stalingrad

Heavy Metal!!! Yeah right on, Accept have recreated the glorious 80’s scene with this their second comeback LP without founding vocalist Udo. He is not missed one bit as the guitars let rip with riff after head spinning riff, thundering hooves of melody across this monumental record of unadulterated rock and roll attack. Powerful high pitch vocals and lightning guitars are let fly at every angle taking of string old school grip on your metal head. Epic and colossal, Accept have bridged this hard rocker into trad metal and so rightfully sits proudly on the iron throne of 2012.

Roll on 2013!

Honourable Mentions: Sharks  – No Gods, The Menzingers – On The Impossible Past, Screaming Females – Ugly, Blood Command – Funeral Beach, Coheed & Cambria – The Aftermath: Ascension, Baroness – Yellow & Green


Click here for the top 25 as a Spotify Paylist

>> DoesItRock Albums of 2012 <<


Albums of 2012: 25-11

It has to be said that 2012 was an awe inspiring year for the UK. What with the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympic Games, national pride and enthusiasm has never been higher (hell… I witnessed a Mexican wave down 2 tube carriages! Unspeakable behaviour !). So it was only fitting that the year also brought with it one of the strongest contests in years to, the bout to be crowned DoesItRock.net’s Album of the Year. A prize to be scoffed at by critics and one loved by fans of honest rock and rollers everywhere.

Let the (slightly delayed) countdown commence!

25) Katatonia- Dead End Kings

Dark and menacing, Dead End Kings is a brooding melodic metal record of the princes of doom. This is a starkly barren soundtrack to a cataclysmic end of the world event, where great waves of guitar noise sweep across the landscape backed by fittingly clean and soulful vocals. It is a superb master class in atmospheric melodies, yet somehow they retain an unexpected accessibility to those less ‘metal’. Often brutal, mostly beautiful.

24) Cancer Bats – Dead Set On Living

Abrasive ranting vocals spit lashings of gravel baked growls, drums thrashes, bass thumps and dirt bag guitars soaring anthems from the underbelly of the rock monster. A gargantuan effort which veers further into hard rock territory than they have before, bringing with it the punk beast who’s still a kickin’ and screamin’.

23) Hot Water Music – Exister

Chuck Ragan has won me over with his solo material, so it was about time he pushed his raggedy vocaled chords back into the punk rock arena. An album packed with standout tunes which are seriously catchy, showing there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet.

22) …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Lost Songs

Reigning in the progressive angles, Lost Songs has struck out on the pure rock sound of AYWKUBTTOD’s earlier releases. Full on face planting into their walls of noise is not uncommon throughout this cathartic and unpredictable release of pent up energy. Oddly unrestrained from the loose binds of prog they have taken up the battle axes and brought us their most edgy and surprising release for years.

21)  Joe Bonamassa – Driving Towards The Daylight

Joe Bonamassa is the new King of the Blues, his latest album showcases everything which makes the man every bit the undisputed bluesman of his generation. Melodies flow effortlessly from his fretboard, vocals of deep heart and emotive soul, slow burning grooves and funky upbeat shuffles all with a country twist thrown in for good measure. Oh did I mention he can play demon guitar. If ever there was another who went down to the crossroads… JB is that man!

20) Jack White – Blunderbuss

Whatever this man touches turns to gold (ignoring The Dead Weather for augments sake) and his first official solo release is no different. A bluesy, country inflected track list of swaggering tunes which swing from pop groove to rawkus retro rock whilst retaining an enigma only Jack White can conjure. His personality flows free lyrically and stays musically true to his vintage sounding ethos. Dramatic and unmissable.

19) Train – Highway 37

A pop rock record, my! my! Yet somehow with every spin a ray of California sunshine brightens the air and fills your life briefly with the kind of roller-skates by the beach, driving down the pacific coast highway kind of carefree optimism, rarely managed by a record (not by the Beach Boys). For this alone they hit the countdown in 2013. A number of pop classics line the track list which only bolsters it’s credentials further.

18) Tenacious D – Rise Of The Fenix

What a fantastic return to form Rise of The Fenix proved for the hard rocking acoustic-men. Crammed full of tongue in cheek lyrics, big riffing and comedic moments. But a chuckle only gets you so far, these tunes are bigger and better, returning to former glories, instantly banishing any ‘Pick of Destiny’ demons with the euphoric opening title track. This rollicking romp of a record is fun and kick-ass, just as we’d all hoped for.

17) The Smith Street Band – Sunshine & Technology

This band’s sound is almost perfectly aligned for me. If Frank Turner hooked up with the Gaslight Anthem and moved to Australia you’d have something very special, in the meantime though The Smith Street Band are a pretty close approximation. Rasping ranting vocals with potent lyrics documenting life the universe and everything from an everyman’s perspective. The lo-fi punk melodies back the spoken verse perfectly, being understated but never forgotten. yet it’s the passionate delivery and chorus’s which shouldn’t work, but do, what make this record stand out from the crowd.

16) Danko Jones – Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue

One of the most underrated Hard Rock bands on the planet. These Canadian ambassadors of no-nonsense guitar, bass, drum, voices with driving punk attitude and succinct songwriting have again produced the goods. Plenty of rousing anthems for long drives, sing-a-long choruses for the shower and fiery riffs for those air guitar moments when no-ones watching. This album is a whole lotta fun, which by not taking its ‘we’re rock’ credentials too seriously, only boost it further. We all know Danko lives and breathes rock and roll anyway.

15) Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet On Sky

For the third album in a row since their reformation, Dino Jr. produce a brilliant collection of rough around the edges, fuzzed up indie rock numbers. Plenty of pop melodies maintain focus on the slacked vocals and songwriting rather than the master guitar work of J. Mascis, which as ever is totally mesmerizing!

14) Fighting With Wire – Colonel Blood

FWW aren’t messing about upon their long overdue return. Colonel Blood is packed with big mainstreamed rock numbers brimming with infectious sing-a-long choruses and nifty guitar licks, its hard not to let them embed in your head. Song for song, these guys would give the Foo’s a good run for their money… straight laced fist pumping rock and roll for the masses.

 

13) Pulled Apart By Horses – Tough Love

DiR.net favourites are back and still have plenty of energy to burn. PABH clearly do not like to be tamed in the studio, hence this record sounds like the band going bat-shit, crashing every ounce of blazing rawkus energy into each guitar freak-out or throaty howl. Short sharp songs with minimal lyrics aping both punk’s abandon and heavy metal’s epic riffing. Not to be missed live!

12) Killing Joke – MMXII

For all their back catalogue, this release is the first Killing Joke album to set these ears a wagging. Deep booming bass lines, and sedate atmospheric guitars dominate the bleak industrial backed wasteland vision of MMXII. Only the walls which suddenly blast into euphoric waves of noise provides any sense of escapism. Its this thunderous meld of electro-keys, menacing guitars and robotic drone vocals which transports to another world, one dominated by the impending of total annihilation. Dark, emphatic and unmissable.

11) Million Dollar Reload – A Sinner’s Saint

Exuberance, energy and enthusiasm…everything a fresh hard rock band should be striving for can be found on A Sinner’s Saint. This Northern Irish Sleaze/Punk influenced bunch have the attitude for chaos, the canny knack for pop melodies, the ability to pull off a decent ballad and pen some epic driving rock anthems. A solid sophomore which has really grabbed my attention by the scruff of the neck and doesn’t look like relenting anytime soon.

Stay tuned for the top 10!

TurboWolf @ Newcastle Academy2

3rd October 2012

It wasn’t until my usual January 2012 aggregation of the best of 2011 lists, that I had a terrible shock and surprise. For I found that the blistering electronic hard rockers TurboWolf had released their Debut LP including the best tunes from the numerous live sets of their I’d been to. As a big fan of their unique synthesised brand of Zep gone Sabbath, I eeked it onto the runners-up despite onyl having a couple of spins. The habit of odd timing seems to have continued until this night when nearly 10 months after its release TurboWolf were promoting it alongside a new covers EP. Still stuck in Newcastle, I headed to the Academy again this time into the smaller “Academy2″ back room. A small and intimate venue with disgustingly sticky carpets on the micro-balcony.

Black Moth

It was nowhere near full as Black Moth took to the stage. Female fronted Stoner Rock pulled all the standard fare of the genre with slow and melodic bluesy guitars played through deep swampy amps low enough to send shockwaves through your ears right down to your boots. The slow building riffs so often exploded into glorious thunderclaps of noise the lead vocalist attempted to have her voice heard (a rare feat). This was essentially Stoner by Numbers, but there was a spark whenever lead guitar started meandering into another extended melodic solo. A good performance but unlikely to be more than a good Stoner band.
Turbowolf on the other hand have carved out a signature sound which is both massive and varied pulling from electronic synths, dizzying riffs and killer hooks. Unveiling their stage prop, a giant Egyptian head you immediately feel this band are something a little different from your usual hard rock crop. Eccentricity is something lead singer Chris Georgiadis has in abundance as his hippy locks and rainbow wardrobe attest to. His screeches are key to the bands driving sound which whilst not the most tuneful, set the dials to panic and chaos whilst delivering a shot of adrenaline into each energetic punked up tune. There was barely a duff song all night as they flung themselves head first into each tune, enthusiastically bounding around, barely contained by the small space, resulting in a (carefully orchestrated) stage dive (who wants to land in thin air after all?).

TurboWolf
Big unrelentingly heavy riffs Sabbath would be proud of, played with punk’s speed and intensity were showcased on highlight tunes A Rose For The Crow’s, snyth driven Read & Write, head crusher Bag of Bones, and stop/start loud/soft accentuated The Big Cut. They were just as adept at sprawling prog outs and mellowed out toe tappers such as Son(Sun) which added yet another Zeppy angle to their sound.

With a new Covers EP out they hit up a few of these re-inventions, some more effective than others. Captain Caveman (Lightning Bolt) was a mess of fuzz and didn’t really grab he but their high octane version of Jefferson Airplane’s Somebody to Love was a quite the opposite, as was the trip skuzz of MGMT ‘s Electric Feel. Turbowolf signed off the evening with their most jubilant, howling rock attack, Let’s Die which sparked furious reactions from the crowd, many of whom are probably now suffering from whiplash. An allout aural assault, just superb!

Don’t Jump

Marshall 50 Years of Loud Live @ Wembley Arena

Marhall Amplification…50 Years of Loud Live

22nd September 2012,

After the terribly sad passing away of company founder Jim Marshall earlier this year, tonight’s celebration of all things LOUD is is less a celebration of Marshall’s ass kicking amplification it was envisaged to be. Instead it was a fitting and emotional posthumous eulogy to the Lord of Loud. A last hurrah from Jim’s closest friends and industry allies to turn it to 11 one last time in the name of rock and roll, many of whom are now brand ambassadors. Tonight saw a unique line up of music legends collaborating in a star studded show the likes of which are usually reserved for staving African children. No tonight…

“This one’s for Jim!”

Tonight was hosted by 2 men on opposite ends of the professional drumming scale. Our comedic compère Al “Pub Landlord” Murray was all British Pride and Glory keeping the insults flying all night, while Jim’s close family friend, Iron Maiden’s Nicko McBrian, brought an emotional and personal edge to proceedings. With the guitar stars out in full force, each jumping on and off stage to play some of the greatest cover versions from the rock gods of yesteryear, it was a) hard to keep up and b) absolutely mesmerizing!!!

Nicko McBrain

Al Murray also pointed out that tonight we were probably going to hear many, many extended outro’s, probably the longest in history of the world. He wasn’t wrong, but the joy brought by these virtuoso’s playing at the top of their games was overwhelming! A stunning shred here, tap solo there, wailing wah-wah’s, stellar string bends and thunderous power chords were never more than a moment away on a special night of rock!

In order to cover the highlights of this 3 hour spectacular, I’ll pick out the highlights…

Whitesnake man Doug Aldrich slung his Gold Top Gibson Les Paul axe plugging into his Marshll stack with pride, as her punched ace classic rock, while Judas Priest front man Tim ‘The Ripper’ Owens provided vocals on Judas classic Living After Midnight. Doug’s measured melodic playing was soulful and careful, with any flashy solo’s always retaining a harmonious and catchy vibe.

Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake) & Tim ‘The Ripper’ Owens (Judas Priest)

The Trio of classic rock covers from Paul Gilbert paid homage to the old masters, adding in some of his trademark shreddy fret runs whist retaining the hard rock backbone of the originals. The highlight being Jimi Hendrix’s Manic Depression, played with such soul, flair and exuberance it was impossible to fault.

Paul Gilbert 

A heavier edge soon arrived in the shape of Phil Campbell of Motorhead who gave the crowd what exactly they wanted, “The Ace Of Spades, The Ace Of Spades“.  Slayer’s bad-ass beardy metal guru Kerry King jumped at the chance of being a part of this truly explosive 3 minutes of out and out chugtastic handbanger.

Kerry King

Kerry King continued on more a metal mayhem tornado as he ripped through some classic Judas Priest sung with ‘The Ripper‘ himself.

Phill Campbell  & Corey Taylor

Vocalist of the night goes to the magnificent Corey Taylor. His octave range was unparalleled and ambiguous style shifts saw him howling a beautiful bluesy Thin Lizzy cover (w. Phil Campbell) of Still In Love With You, gutteral screams on the Pantera’s metaltastic Mouth for War and many other soaring hard rock numbers throughout the show. My expectations of him were well and truly blown skywards.

Corey Taylor & Billy Duffy (The Cult)

The fastest fingers of the night goes to Scandinavian flash lightning string striker that is, Yngwie Johan Malmsteen. Such speed combined with ‘arpeggio’s from hell’ left most onlookers stunned with awe. Not the most tuneful portion of the night but by damn this man doe not do half measures.

Yngwie Malmsteen

My personal guitar hero stepped up to the plate next, Joe Satriani. He kicked off with the fantastic Satch Boogie and then put in the song of the night, the emotion packed soaring instrumental Always With You , Always with Me, which stole the show with its beauty, heart and soul, without having to turn that dial to 11.

Joe Satriani

Joined by his G3 running mate Paul Gilbert they kicked a cool duelling jam called Going Down. Sharing the stage were two of my icons, this was true guitar heaven!!

Gilbert & Satch = Guitar Ecstasy

For the final set, we were greeted by former Deep Purple and Black Sabbath front man and current Black Country Communion, “The Voice of Rock” Glenn Hughes. Boy this bloke has a set of pipes! His range was outstanding and varied, I’m sure however a few notes were so high to be only audible by our canine friends.

Rounded out with a full ensemble the likes of which will never be seen again for a rip roaring rendition of Smoke on the Water. For completeness here is the full star studded cast of this outstanding hard rock rendition (including those I’ve glossed over in the aid of time):  Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert, Malmsteen, Corey Taylor, Doug Aldrich, Billy Duffy (Guitar – The Cult), Phil Campbell, Kerry King, Mike Portnoy (Drums – Dream Theatre), Nikko McBrain, Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne & Black Label Society), Fraser (Bassist – Free), Tichy (Drums – Whitesnake/Ozzy/Slash/Foreigner), Adam Wakeman (Ozzy Osbourne) and the man who put this choreographed the whole show, Marshall demonstrator (since the age of 17) Chris George.

You’ll never see this again!!! Fact!!!

P.S. As I sped through the proceedings, the best of the rest includes:

Zakk Wylde stomping out some corking Black Sabbath covers despite having the single most annoying voice in the building tonight.
Al Murray playing the most underwhelming but most enthusiastically cheered drum solo.
Mike Portnoy and Nicko McBrain jumping on and off the drum kit for the odd song or two.
Free Bassist Andy Fraser looking either aged and senile or totally plastered as he joined Glenn Hughes.
The magnificent House Band who played for the full 3 hour spectacular including the spectacular drumming of Brian Tichy and guitar work of Chris George