Posts Tagged ‘Rock’

‘The Resistance’ is a 7″ accompaniment to Danish rockers Demon Head’s last record, ‘Thunder on the Fields’, and provides a fitting epilogue to that piece. An old fashioned, sinister rock two tracker due on on the 28th of April via The Sign Records, and is a haunting change to my usual heavy soundtrack.

The dusting off of old tape machines, instruments and themes provides opener ‘Rivers of Mars’ with a soulful, desert groove. Aching vocals croon over clean guitar that teases artful country and folk rock influences from a soft electric sound. Framed as a tale against tyranny, the cool factor of ‘The Resistance’ is almost overwhelming. You can imagine it playing over a smoky 60s movie, with motorcycles roaring down highways of endless sand. I’ve never come across these guys before, but these two tracks have spun repeatedly in my head since I first heard them.

Hunt out this two track piece, then find the album it finishes. Demon Head are ghostly, oozing with a quiet swagger and a fragile openness. When amidst all the headbanging and throatshredding comes this beautiful tour de force, it is more than welcome. Drift away amongst hazy smoke and grass blowing in the wind, and allow your resistance to leave you.

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Zodiac are here to rock! That’s what their bio tries to get across to you, pure rock with no mucking about. They channel the spirit of 70s rockers like ZZ Top or the Eagles without the overt country influences. A release that sounds like it comes from the dusty streets of Arizona, but actually from Germany. Clutch-lite? Maybe, but you cannot deny the quality.

The spoken word intro, followed by slinky, 70s bass and synths, betray flashes of Pink Floyd in their psychedelica. It feels like we’re about to slide into a blaxploitation movie at any moment, it is very chilled out and funky. You’ll not hear an intro like that in rock music anywhere today. Kudos to Zodiac for that at least. When the record starts proper with Swinging On The Run, we get an injection of bluesy rock and roll that possesses a killer boogie riff. This is a band that is about the power of music, as the intro states, and what we have here is a track that sells you nothing but the soulful power of rock and roll. The solo is restrained but apt. The rock is solid and supple.

Sonic Child has a cool propulsive bassline, and vocalist Nick van Delft’s soulful croon is just the crowning glory. Each track provokes that closed eyes, head nodding groove that every man, woman and child looks for in music. Holding On is more urgent, rumbling bass driving us onwards towards yet another beautiful solo. What Zodiac do is subvert the obvious blues rock paradigms, taking elements of blues, soul, desert rock, driving basslines and deft drumming and twisting them into exciting new styles.

The dark, acoustic ballad Sad Song is a chance for the storytelling prowess of van Delft to shine through. He comes across as a weaver of tales, rather than a preacher, gracing this melancholic moment with poignancy and gravitas. The slow solo is another brilliant addition. The solos should be given special mention, as they really enhance the songs. Not just there to show off guitar skills, they add an extra layer to the music. And for an album that is driven by the hypnotic power of rock music, it fits beautifully.

The driving Out Of The City is deceptively simple in its direction, all bluesy licks and catchy choruses. The epic A Penny And A Dead Horse is the album centrepiece; a haunting paean to a lost love. It’s dark and when the drum and bass kicks in, overlaid with another killer solo, you begin to feel that Zodiac can extract any emotion from you that they see fit.

Be it the mourning poems of the Mississippi Delta in Rock Bottom Blues or the groovy, catchier than an STD in a whorehouse Good Times, Zodiac turn their hand to all different styles of rock and turn them into a natural selection of great tunes. We’ve been blessed this year with some very complex, musically intense records. It’s about time we had some honest to goodness fucking RAWK. Sonic Child is exactly that, proving that classic rock still has an inspired soul at its heart and a riff or two in its back pocket. Crank it.

Ah Baroness, what a wonderful band you are. You have graced us with four (since this is a double) coloured coded records of supreme loveliness. It’s rare you can regard metal as lovely. It’s supposed to be BROOTAL, HEAVY, VICIOUS, BROOOOTAL and numerous other metaphors for musically scything your balls off. But Baroness isn’t. Baroness is just, well, lovely. It’s difficult for me to review a double album, because I don’t want to find myself waxing lyrical about how good it is. So I’ve split this review into two, reviewing the Yellow and Green discs as separate entities.

Yellow (Disc 1) opens with a triumphant stoner doom rock stomp in the form of ‘Take My Bones Away’ after a suitably moody intro. This is a song that could personify the whole record. It’s catchy as hell, rocks hard and has superb melodies. The more rumbling ‘March to the Sea’ takes over, with an insistent rumbling bass and drum performance, and yet another killer chorus. The guitar licks in this chorus are very reminiscent of Mastodon’s fretwork, but they lack the primal roar of Atlanta’s finest. That’s fine though; if anything was needed in this world, it was LESS Mastodon clones (because most just can’t cut it). Baroness are more unique than some of their peers, simply because they employ beautiful melodies and harmonies. And good cleaning singing. Very Important. ‘Little Things’ is a indie hit record doused in southern groove; if the Shins listened to Torche. I love the solo in this song, it is so unconventional and brilliant.

‘Twinkler’ is acoustic balladry at its finest. It’s Appalachian campfire music, and probably should be played while staring up at the night sky through trees. ‘Cocainium’ is a funky, bass driven trip out, all psychedelic guitar work and ethereal vocals that then morphs into a hard rocker. Baroness are ‘post sludge’ on this record, taking cues from their heavier, doomier past but adding lush instrumentations and subtle touches. Combinations of metal and indie rock shouldn’t work. But Kylesa did it to beautiful effect on ‘Spiral Shadow’, and Baroness do it here. ‘Back Where I Belong’ adds spiralling guitar tones and dream pop atmospheres. ‘Sea Lungs’ has a driving, insistent riff, and is pleasantly heavier than most of the disc. ‘Eula’ is the close of the ‘Yellow’ disc, a towering monument to what this disc is all about; beauty captured in intricate guitar melodies, dreamy atmospherics and a transcendant feeling.

Much of this has moved beyond metal into rock territory, but it doesn’t matter. Baroness are not a genre band, they are a music band. A band where songwriting is paramount. ‘Yellow’ is a collection of heartfelt songs, and we are all better for hearing it. Coming up soon, disc 2 review, ‘Green’.

For my first gig in a long time, and long meaning that I can’t remember the last one (it was 2013, but what it was escapes me at this moment), I picked a doozy. Airbourne, the young, speed infused version of AC/DC, supported by the triumphant power of Orange Goblin? Life can be beautiful sometimes.

We arrived at the venue in time to catch the final two tracks by The Treatment, a young English rock and roll band who sounded pretty decent but hard to tell from just two tracks. Probably worth checking out, although their leather jacket-clad, tousled hair look felt a bit forced. You don’t need to look the part if your music is good lads, all I’m saying.

When Ben Ward, titanic frontman/monolith of rock of Orange Goblin strode on stage to huge cheers, my friends turned round to me and said, ‘aye, he does look like you!’ I had the fortune of meeting the man at the merch stand during Airbourne and he’s bigger than me. Like, I’m 6 foot 4 and I had to look up. He looked proud when I told him I’d be wearing my newly purchased Orange Goblin shirt to get me through what inevitably turned out to be a massive hangover. On stage, he’s engaging, blessed with a titan roar and loads of charisma. He’s smiling, waving his arms and encouraging everyone to party. The man seriously loves life. His band were excellent, from the barrelling ‘Scorpionica’ through the epic ‘Saruman’s Wish’. If you’re unfortunate enough to be unfamiliar with Orange Goblin, imagine Motorhead where Lemmy smoked weed instead of doing speed. When Ward dedicates their final track ‘Red Tide Rising’ to the victims of the Clutha disaster, it rounds off what has just been 30 minutes of pure class, rock and roll at its finest.

Airbourne had a lot to follow, but if there’s a band that personify the feeling of good old fashioned rock and roll, its them. Endlessly energetic, with a setlist packed with sing-a-long anthems that only the dead wouldn’t enjoy, they are a band to be appreciated in their live form. On record, I’ve always enjoyed them but live they are something else. Frontman Joel O’Keefe is a hyperactive Angus Young, bounding around stage, going for trips through the crowd on somebody’s shoulders, pulling off guitar solos while perched on the merch stand, smashing beer cans off his head and hurling them into the crowd, and just generally conducting rock and roll chaos. Airbourne are simply huge, and they deserve it. From fist pumping anthems like ‘Stand Up for Rock and Roll’ and ‘Running Wild’, to sleaze rockers like ‘Chewing the Fat’ and ‘Girls in Black’, not a single moment in their set is boring or cliche. Yeah, they sound like AC/DC, but since when was that a fucking problem? Airbourne slay, and that’s the end of the tale. We were ready to rock, and rock we did.

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