Tuesday, 24 January 2017

EP Review: HALESTORM - Reanimate 3.0: The Covers EP

Halestorm Reanimate 3.0 cover

1. Still Of The Night (Whitesnake cover)
2. Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover (Sophie B. Hawkins cover)
3. I Hate Myself For Loving You (Joan Jett cover)
4. Heathens  (Twenty One Pilots cover)
5. Fell On Black Days (Soundgarden cover)
6. Ride The Lightning (Metallica cover)

I really enjoy these cover EPs. They're a great 'stop-gap' between studio albums, not only giving the fans something new, but introducing younger fans to some great bands. The choice of songs is always a diverse mix of Rock and Metal with a curveball or two, and for me, it's the curveball songs that I enjoy most. On the first Reanimate, there was a superb Hard Rock cover of Lady Gaga's Bad Romance, and on the second, an equally cool, rocked up take on Daft Punk's Get Lucky. Other previous highlights were covers of Skid Row's Slave To The Grind, AC/DC's  Shoot To Thrill, and Guns n' Roses' Out Ta Get Me.

On this third covers EP, Halestorm kick things off with their version of the Whitesnake classic Still Of The Night. Halestorm's rendition is a little shorter, and cuts out some of the moody middle section. The song doesn't suffer for this. Whilst I love the original, it was nice to hear this faithful yet modern sounding version with some of the fat trimmed off. It's a strong opener for the EP, and possibly the best Whitesnake cover I've ever heard.

Next up is the curveball, a version of Sophie B. Hawkins' pop classic Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover. To be honest, I never liked the original song. Halestorm do a good rock version though, and I've found myself warming to it.

The cover of the Joan Jett classic I Hate Myself For Loving You is much more to my tastes, and Halestorm deliver a faithful, yet no frills version with a bit more Rock and a little less Glam. The changes they made are subtle but really effective.

Covering a song from a recent successful mainstream movie is a clever move. It will ensure plenty of hits on YouTube, and potentially help the band to reach a wider audience. That's what Halestorm have done here with their cover of Twenty One Pilots' Heathens. The original was used in last year's hugely popular Suicide Squad movie. Their cover is naturally a bit more rocking, but lacks some of the darkness, and the generally creepy vibe of the original. It's still cool though, and fits nicely with their repertoire.

The last two are straight up Hard Rock covers. They sound exactly as I'd expect them to. I really like the Soundgarden cover. The original is my favourite song from the Superunknown album, so I was particularly pleased that Halestorm chose this one. Singing anything originally sang by Chris Cornell is always a risky move as he has such an incredible, distinctive and unique voice. However Lzzy Hale tackles this one in style, bringing her own soulful charisma to the table, and making the song her own.

They finish the EP in style with a truly killer version of Metallica's Ride The Lightning. It's heavy and doesn't lack any of the savagery and precision riffing of the original. I've heard many Metallica covers by various bands, and I can't think of one that's anything like as good as this.

To conclude, this is another really strong covers EP, and shows the diversity of the band's influences as well as their very high calibre of musicianship. I'm really looking forward to their next studio album, and hope another covers EP isn't too far behind that.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Album Review: ACCEPT - Restless and Live

Accept - Restless and Live

1. Stampede (Live in St. Petersburg 2015)
2. Stalingrad (Live in St. Petersburg 2015)
3. Hellfire (Live in Saarbrücken 2015)
4. London Leatherboys (Live in Moscow 2015)
5. Living for Tonite (Live in Saarbrücken 2015)
6. 200 Years (Live in Pratteln 2015)
7. Demon's Night (Live in Hannover 2015)
8. Dying Breed (Live in Saarbrücken 2015)
9. Final Journey (Live in Moscow 2015)
10. From the Ashes We Rise (Live in Hannover 2015)
11. Losers and Winners (Live in Berlin 2015)
12. No Shelter (Live in Minsk 2015)
13. Shadow Soldiers (Live in Grenoble 2015)
14. Midnight Mover (Live in Sofia 2015)

1. Starlight (Live in Yekaterinburg 2015)
2. Restless and Wild (Live in Moscow 2015)
3. Son of a Bitch (Live in Saarbrücken 2015)
4. Pandemic (Live in Saarbrücken 2015)
5. Dark Side of My Heart (Live in Yekaterinburg 2015)
6. The Curse (Live in Krakow 2015)
7. Flash Rocking Man (Live in Saarbrücken 2015)
8. Bulletproof (Live in Saarbrücken 2015)
9. Fall of the Empire (Live in Saarbrücken 2015)
10. Fast as a Shark (Live in Moscow 2015)
11. Metal Heart (Live in St. Petersburg 2015)
12. Teutonic Terror (Live in St. Petersburg 2015)
13. Balls to the Wall (Live in St. Petersburg 2015)

DVD/BLU-RAY (Live at Bang Your Head 2015)

1. Stampede

2. Stalingrad

3. London Leatherboys
4. Restless and Wild
5. Dying Breed
6. Final Journey
7. Shadow Soldiers
8. Losers and Winners
9. 200 Years
10. Midnight Mover
11. No Shelter
12. Princess of the Dawn
13. Dark Side of My Heart
14. Pandemic
15. Fast as a Shark
16. Metal Heart
17.Teutonic Terror
18. Balls to the Wall

The last twelve months have seen the release of a number of Accept related albums. We've had an amazing solo album from guitarist Wolf Hoffmann featuring electric guitar renditions of various pieces of classical music. Former guitarist Herman Frank released his third solo album which is likely to appeal to Accept fans with its traditional Heavy Metal riffing. Then there's former lead singer Udo Dirkschneider who released a double live album of Accept classics under the name 'Dirkschneider'. Now, at the start of 2017, we have a brand new Accept live album (also available with a DVD/Blu Ray), and we're promised a new studio album later this year too.

Recorded on the Stampede tour, this double live album shows that, after all these years, Accept are still on top of their game.

This is their first live album (excluding the Live in Chile DVD/Blu-ray that came with the Ltd Edition version of latest studio album Stampede) to feature lead singer Mark Tornillo, who sang on the last three studio albums, all of which were well received by fans and press.  The track-listing is a great mix of old classics and really strong new material. It's far more than a nostalgic trip down memory lane, it's a statement. When it comes to traditional Heavy Metal, Accept are still a super power and continue to be both creative and relevant. The production is crisp and powerful thanks to the engineering skills of Andy Sneap, giving the older material a modern sheen.

This is a fantastic selection of recordings, all brilliantly brought to life by one of the tightest bands in Metal. There are no weak moments here. They have several decades of music to draw from, and have plenty of A-grade material to hit the listener with including timeless classics such as Fast As A Shark, Balls To The Wall, Metal Heart and Bulletproof, and modern monsters such as Stalingrad and Stampede. With such a large back catalogue, there will always be some favourites omitted (personally I'd have loved to have heard Blood Of The Nations, or I Don't Wanna Be Like You) but with twenty seven killer songs over two CDs, there's no room for complaint.

Accept are Heavy Metal royalty. They are still one of my favourite bands, and their ability to continually deliver the goods to such a high standard is commendable. This is another fantastic release, and I'm really looking forward to their next studio album.

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