Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Album Review: ART OF ANARCHY - The Madness

Art of Anarchy - The Madness

01. Echo Of A Scream
02. 1,000 Degrees
03. No Surrender
04. The Madness
05. Won’t Let You Down
06. Changed Man
07. A Light In Me
08. Somber
09. Dancing With The Devil
10. Afterburn

After the fiasco and tragedy that surrounded their first album with the late Scott Weiland on vocals (I say fiasco as Scott publicly said that he'd only been asked to write and record for the album and was never actually in the band, which I'm sure was a PR disaster for them), Art Of Anarchy is back. When Scott sadly passed away six months after the album's release, I thought I'd heard the last from Art Of Anarchy. However in May last year, former Creed vocalist Scott Stapp was announced as Weiland's replacement. The rest of the band is made up of Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (Guns 'n' Roses) and Jon Votta on guitars, Vince Votta on drums, and John Moyer (Disturbed, Adrenaline Mob, Union Underground) on bass.

Prior to joining the band, Scott Stapp was all over the news again, not for his music, but because of his substance abuse, marriage break-up, paranoid delusions and general crazy behaviour leading up to him returning to rehab. My initial thought when he was announced as the new lead singer is that the rest of the band must be gluttons for punishment, replacing a dysfunctional rock star with drug problems with someone with similar attributes. However, when I thought about it, it made sense as Scott Stapp's vocals have that rich 90's Alt-Rock tone that aren't a million miles away from Weiland's, and his voice would probably work very well with the early material.

The lyrics on this record clearly reflect Scott's mental health problems, his self reflection and his path to recovery, making it a dark and personal piece of work. I often hear heavy bands singing about rage and insanity, but with this Art Of Anarchy album, you know it's very real. It's a great example of turning suffering into art, and I'm sure that writing these lyrics must have been quite cathartic for Scott. Musically, the band have that commercial modern American rock sound that's hugely popular. In many ways, it sounds like a mix of the bands the members all came from, Guns 'n' Roses, Creed, Disturbed and Union Underground, all carefully entwined to make a radio friendly Heavy Rock sound that will appeal to fans of Alter Bridge, Shinedown, Pop Evil, Theory Of A Deadman and Saliva etc. If the band can 'keep it together', I can see Art Of Anarchy becoming huge, and deservedly so.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Album Review: CREEPER - Eternity, In Your Arms

01. Black Rain
02. Poison Pens
03. Suzanne
04. Hiding With Boys
05. Misery
06. Down Below
07. Room 309
08. Crickets
09. Darling
10. Winona Forever
11. I Choose To Live

I had the pleasure of seeing Creeper last summer at the 2000 Trees festival in Cheltenham, and I really enjoyed their set. I've been keeping tabs on them and watching their music videos since and finally, after what seems like a lifetime of waiting, their debut album is finally out. Thanks to their videos and lengthy campaign for this album, I've been familiar with a number of these songs for some time. It's pretty obvious that a hell of a lot of money has been pumped into Creeper, so expect to continue to see them at plenty of festivals, and plastered all over the Rock magazines. Their debut album was also really cheap at £7.99 when most new CDs are £9.99 or more, which tells me that the label are very keen for this album to make an impact on the charts early on. Maybe I'm just cynical?

More importantly, is it any good? Actually, yes. Creeper fill the void left by the now defunct My Chemical Romance and the various other bands who have called it a day, who were all once hugely popular with Emo kids across the globe. Creeper's album is packed with quotable lyrics that would have served as MSN names back in the day, and are all marketable on the backs of T-Shirts such as "Misery never goes out of style".

Musically, they seem to be influenced by older artists such as The Misfits, The Smiths and The Cure, as well more modern bands such as My Chemical Romance and AFI giving them huge crossover appeal, as I could easily see the NME crowd getting into them as much as the Heavy Rock/Goth scene.

The album kicks off with the huge single Black Rain which is a very strong opener and sets the tone for the album perfectly. Poison Pens shows the faster and more aggressive side of their repertoire before soaring into a melodic chorus juxtaposed with some Hardcore shouting. Other highlights are Misery, which I'd describe as a mournful Gothic power ballad, and the relentlessly catchy Pop Punk Winona Forever. The album is consistently good, and wraps up nicely with the piano driven powet ballad I Choose To Live, which bizarrely sounds a bit like Meat Loaf both musically and in terms of the over the top dramatic delivery. I'm sure many teenage girls will have this album as the soundtrack to their complicated lives and love it immensely. Personally, I thought it was really good, and it made me want to re-watch the episode of South Park where the Goth kids talk about their disdain for the emos and the douchey vampire kids, and burn down Hot Topic.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Gig Review: BATTLE BEAST, MAJESTY and GYZE at The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton (UK) 22/03/2017

I arrived at the Slade Rooms in time to catch the last song of Japanese Metal band Gyze's set, so I can't really comment on their show. What I heard sounded good, kinda like Children of Bodom or Norther, so I'll have to check them out at a later date.

Up next were German Power Metal band Majesty, who played for a full hour to support their new album Rebels. This was my first time seeing or hearing them, and my first thought was that the lead singer sounded like Eric Adams from Manowar, and the instrumental side of their music was a bit more like Virgin Steele. I really like both of those bands, so Majesty really appealed to me. In a world where so many metal bands are full of angst, it's always refreshing to hear a band like this that's upbeat, fun, and whose main message is one of international unity between everyone out there who loves Heavy Metal. Every traditional Heavy Metal cliché is present and welcomed like an old friend. Majesty thrive in an area of the metal genre that is ridiculous and over the top, and if you enjoy this kind of Metal driven escapism, Majesty are definitely worth checking out. The band was very impressive tonight, both in their exemplary playing and crowd participation. They were the perfect band to go on before Battle Beast, and I'm sure that they earned themselves plenty of new fans.

Majesty live in Wolverhampton 2017
Majesty live in Wolverhampton 2017

Headliners Battle Beast were fucking incredible. I've been enjoying their latest album Bringer Of Pain for a few weeks now (check out my review here) so I was really looking forward to seeing them, and I am so pleased that I made the effort to go to the show. Opener Straight To The Heart was pure fire, as the band played a note perfect rendition of it, and lead singer Noora Louhimo's vocals were absolutely astounding. I haven't been that blown away by a lead singer's performance since the first time I saw Rob Halford live! From tonight's performance I honestly believe that when it comes to Metal, Noora is one of the best lead singers in the world right now, and that's no exaggeration. The rest of the band were also absolutely killer, nailing each song with precision and making it look easy. They all seemed to be having a great time on stage too which added to the performance and made for a really entertaining show. The band played most of the tracks from Bringer of Pain and a good mix of early material. I was a little gutted at the exclusion of the 80's Pop Metal masterpiece Dancing With The Beast, but aside from that, the band delivered everything I wanted, including the insanely catchy King For A Day and the wonderfully ludicrous Black Ninja. Battle Beast are on top of their game, and I feel privileged to have seen them at this key stage in their career. The Beast is rising and the future of Heavy Metal is in safe hands.

Battle Beast live in Wolverhampton 2017

Battle Beast live in Wolverhampton 2017

Battle Beast live in Wolverhampton 2017

Battle Beast live in Wolverhampton 2017

Battle Beast live in Wolverhampton 2017

Battle Beast live in Wolverhampton 2017

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