Reviews roundup – Hard To Handle Bluesband vs. Micha Schellhaas cs. Endogenesis vs. Highway
HARD TO HANDLE BLUESBAND
We’re starting off in Norway today with some blues rock courtesy of the Hard To handle Bluesband. Singer and saxophonist Randi Nymoen and guitarist Åge Nymoen are the band leaders here, and they do a good job of bringing the music to life.
There are a lot of Chicago influences here, as they turn their hand to weel kent tunes like ‘It Hurts Me Too’ and Luther Allisons ‘Bad Love’ and ‘Living in the House of Blues’. They also have a hint of sixties British blues about the edges, and it makes for an enjoyable listen.
It also sounds good, with an excellent production from Spoonful Of Blues guitarist Morten Omlid, and they’ve got enough of a modern edge about them to do well on the festival circuit. Definitely worth a listen.
Time for some instrumental, blues-rock-jazz fusion now, with the debut album from German born / Los Angeles based guitarist, Micha Schellhaas. And he’s got some big names helping out here, with Carl Verheyen in the producers seat and Dave Marotta (Gino Vinelli, Phil Collins) on bass, Chad Wackerman on drums (Frank Zappa, Steve Vai) and Jim Cox on keyboards (mark Knopfler, Robben Ford).
Schellhaas put out an EP called “Wings Of Fire” back in 2013, but this is his first full length, and if fancy fusion fretwork is your thing, then you really need to be having a listen to this, as it’s very impressice indeed.
He’s very adept in all his chosen directions, with ‘velocity’ the best of the fusion tracks. He goes pure jazz on ‘False Wrok’ and stretches out into some blues on ‘Ford F-150’. It’s all original material, and shows Micha Schellhaas to be a major talent.
With a name like Endogenesis, you won’t be in the least surprised to learn that they’re a progressive rock meets metal band. If you needed more convincing, then the fact that the title track weighs in at a meaty fifteen minutes plus, should be enough to convince you.
Messrs Dolgodillin, Krylatov, Solovejko, Nikolajenko, Skobelev and Pogorelov may sound like characters from War and Peace, but they hail from the mythical kingdom of Belarus, and this is their debut album.
They big up their prog credentials even more, but saying that this record is “is half-conceptual and develops theme of disappearance, dissolving, vanishing of men. It is not about suicide or even death – it is about escaping ‘normal’ society, about fading to somebody faceless, about changing the kind of existence to some other form.”
So, now you know. And they’re pretty good at it as well. They’ve certainly got the musical chops this line of work, and if even if some of the musical motifs are stretched a bit far, when it all comes together, as it does on ‘Ghost’, then you can see them making a name for themselves in the world of prog metal.
United States of Rock’n’Roll
Despite the name, Highway are from France. No, me neither. But they certainly yearn to be American. Or more precisely, to be in a late eighties US melodic glam metal band. And who wouldn’t want that? I know I do.
They’ve been making a bit of a name for themselves over there, and recently opened for
Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock. And I’m sure they would have went down well if they can translate these tunes into the arena (hah!)
They follow the glam metal meets melodic rock template quite carefully, and barely put a foot wrong while doing so. They’ve got some good songs, meaty riffs and a handful of choruses that will have you singing along in no time. I enjoyed the whole shebang, but my current favourites are ‘Mr King Size’, the Dirty White Boy soundalike ‘Freedom’ and the sleaze rock of ‘Leave Me Alone’.
A great record from start to finish.