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Monday, 18 August 2008

Not just folklore

As I type this I'm taking a pleasurable meander through Black Stone Cherry's new album, "Folklore and Superstition" and frankly, they've done it again. Already I'm hooked.

It opens with "Blind Man", a song that got the crowd going at Download despite no-one knowing the words. In the same way that "Rain Wizard" punched you in the face on the first album, "Blind Man" gives you a good slap and demands that you listen. It's impossible not to tap along for the first four songs and it really does start to feel like these guys have given us another future classic.

The inclusion of piano ballad "Things My Father Said" may seem a little odd for those expecting the pure Southern rawk strummings of their s/t first album but it fits, and it has a genuine emotional tone. Still, if it's too soft, wait until "The Bitter End" appears and the balance is quickly restored. The good ol' reverb trick employed at the beginning of "Shooting Star" on the first album makes a welcome resurgence on "Long Sleeves" and "The Key" but the sound is altogether more mature.

John Fred's drumming has also improved ten-fold, although there's always the chance that this is down to more expensive production (everyone's a critic, eh?) - their forthcoming live dates will tell all. There are already some identifiable crowd-pleasers - "Peace If Free" sounds as though it's written almost specifically for a mid-gig break, where the distortion is turned off and the lighters are held aloft. I'm always a bit sceptical of songs that include huge crowd sing-a-longs on the album as it feels a bit contrived. Still, it's good to hear a good old fashioned protest song on a "modern" rock 'n' roll album. It's not just the BSC guys' hair that's keeping the 1960's alive.

The references to swamps, 'gators and general truck drivin' ol' boys gives this album a truly authentic Skynrd-esque vibe, especially with the excitable organ-into-guitar solo in "Devil's Queen". It's clear to see the relevance of the oft used Soundgarden parallels in "The Key" but the bluegrass banjo keeps it Southern all the way.

"Sunrise" has a bit of a bizarre reggae feel but again, it fits. Black Stone Cherry have dipped their toe into a number of different genres across "Folklore and Superstition", 90% of the time with great success. It's great to hear a band genuinely mature with album number two but not change so much as to leave us fans confused. These guys are still a good ol' Southern rawk band - listen to the yokel intro of "Ghost of Floyd Collins and try not to smile. They're versatile, young, passionate, and fucking good at what they do. Roll on December 14th.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

You just ask the lonely

Thumbing through a recent issue of Classic Rock magazine I stumbled across an article on the new Journey album. Time for a confession: I love Journey. There's something about "Don't Stop Believin'" that makes me want to put my arms around my wife, sit her on the back of my hog and drive off into the sunset. I don't actually have a hog but if I did, I would do this. Often.
Anyway, I was scanning the review and accompanying photo an lo, no Steve Perry! I'm sure there's a huge percentage of you who already know this but I couldn't believe he's not there! Apparently the new chap sounds just as good - will have to consult with YouTube to verify this, to be honest.

I'm glad I didn't buy tickets to see them play in London - I would have been the one retard in the crowd screaming "YOU'RE NOT STEVE! IMPOSTER!".

Nearly saw Meatloaf play at the London Motor Show last week but Bro Dude reminded me that, no matter how frankly obliterated we were, there really was no need to go and see Meatloaf. In fact, there really never is any need to see Meatloaf. My Hot Chick is not going to be happy with this post as she's a 'Loaf fan. And I suppose with this ode to Journey, I can't really talk about terrible music tastes.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

All Hope Is Still There...

Despite the lack of gigs in the next few weeks, there are a number of new album releases coming up that are pretty damn exciting. Number one on this list has to be Slipknot's All Hope Is Gone, as I've said before. However, I've got a feeling the backlash is going to really kick off with Iowa's finest.

Point A - Reading Festival, not Download
Point B - new single Psychosocial debuted on Radio 1
Point C - a huge amount of Kerrang! Coverage, which means a large portion of the metal contingent will see them as going more and more mainstream

"Psychosocial" aint, to be honest, the best track I've ever heard from them. This being said, it's pretty par for the course for them to release a radio-friendly unit shifter in the vein of "Wait and Bleed" and "Vermillion". Let's hope the album is as heavy and raw as they're promising.

Black Stone Cherry's follow up to their first s/t album is coming in a few days too - "Folklore and Superstition" is going to be fuckin' huge - can't wait for the tour later this year. They're one of those bands who never fail to deliver, both live and on CD (not that there's a huge amount to judge them on yet!)

DragonForce's new widdly-widdly outing is coming too, but I know bugger all about it yet. Let me make a prediction though - 10 songs, 7-8 minutes each, at least 5 minutes of guitar wankery. Good lads - don't change that formula!

I downloaded Trivium's new single "Kirisute Gomen" off of their forthcoming "Shogun" album. It was, to be honest, well, poop. Just plain boring. Their first album was pure hardcore, then "Ascendancy" proved to be an exceptional follow up. However, number three "The Crusade" was a little less impressive and they seem to have really lost their edge in this new tune. It's a sad but oft seen example of a band that peeks to early. I always stood up for them against the "fake metal" accusations but to be honest, I don't know how they are going to survive supporting Slayer on the forthcoming Unholy Alliance tour. Seeing as the only band who don't get caned by the Slayer crowd are Machine Head, I think the Triv boys might struggle...