Reviews roundup – Rackhouse Pilfer vs. Bill Durst vs. Odin’s Court vs. Smoke Healer vs. Synaxaria

love-and-havocRACKHOUSE PILFER
Love And Havoc

According to Mark Twain ‘a gentleman is someone who knows how to play the banjo and doesn’t.’  Well, no-one told Sligo band Rackhouse Pilfer, who crowd funded their way to Nashville to record this, their second album.

It’s an appropriate place for their bluegrass meets country meets folk sound, which on this release is largely self penned.  Musically, they’re bang on the money and if they play this well in a live environment, then they’re pretty much guaranteed to go down a storm at festivals around the land.

I won’t be the first (or the last) to point out that they’re better at rabble rousing than they are at balladeering, but I’m allowed to say that, what with being largely comprised of Irish, thanks to the wanderings of itinerant Irish cobblers.  Take a listen to the verve of ‘Bright Lights’ to get a feel of what I’m saying.  Individually, they’re not the best singers in the world, but when they start to harmonise, then it’s a real treat.


good-good-lovin-cover-storeBILL DURST
Good Good Lovin

Off to the Canadian colonies now for some riff heavy blues rock.  Which is fine by me.  I must admit to having a heart flutter when the CD came out of the packet, as all I say was the name Durst, something that induced a moment of rap-metal pnaic.  Thankfully, this is the fifth solo album from the blues rock veteran Bill.  Not Fred.

I say veteran, because he spend years with the rock band Thundermug, before branching out on his own.  And what he does is play high octane, seventies styled, thunderous blues rock.  Which would deserve a round of applause all on its own.  Luckily, there are some good tunes here as well, so it’s not all riffs.  Well, it’s mainly riffs, but who cares when they’re as meaty on the ones here.

It’s a wee bit ZZ Top, a wee bit Michael Katon, and a whole lotta good.

51dx-4avyylODIN’S COURT
Deathanity (R3)

The last time I heard Odin’s Court, it was “Turtles All The Way Down” time.  Yes, really.  I said “song wise, it’s hard to pick a winner, as there isn’t a bum track on the record” and gave a special mention to new singer, the splendidly named Dimetrius LaFavors.

Well, the band obviously still rate him, as what they’ve done here is revisit their 2008 album, “Deathanity”.  The R3 means re-recorded, remixed and remastered, with Dimetrius LaFavors singing the old songs.  Now, I’m not normally a fan of these sort of things, but as I never heard the original, this is a new album to me.  And an excellent one.

They’re one of the finest prog meal bands around, with their Fates Warning meets mid period Dream Theater sound, and this will be a real treat for fans of the genre.  They’re technical but never lose sight of the song at the heart of the music, and with guest vocals by Tom Englund (Evergrey) on ‘Mammonific’ and Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica) on ‘Crownet’, there is an awful lot here for folks to enjoy.


41uze-j239l-_ss280SMOKE HEALER
Smoke Healer

I did like a bit of stoner rock when I were a lad, and this American band make a fair fist of it, on this, their debut album.

There’s a wee organ intro before they get ripped into ‘Black Liquid Drain’, a barnstorming opener, with riffs galore.  It’s not long before they’re channeling their Black Sabbath, with some Blue Cheer drone hither and thither.  It all makes for an invigorating noise, and there is even the bonus of some decent vocals, something often lacking in the genre.

They make good use of keyboards throughout, something that fleshes the skeleton out.  Take a listen to ‘Garden Of Sin’, which is one of the album highlights, for proof of that.  The less said about the arrival of a didgeridoo, in these post Rolf years, the better, but it shows they can be adventurous.

For stoner fans, looking for some new heroes.


Sadness Of Memories

Finally today we’re having it large with some Belarussian goth / dark metal.  Yes, please, I hear you cry.  Quite why they’ve named themselves after the Eastern Orthodox Church book of martyrs escapes me, but as an old fashioned Catholic, I heartily approve.

Musically, Dzmitry & Natallia Kramoushchanka started out playing industrial metal back in 2010, but made they wise move into a more gothic style, prior to releasing this record.  And it was a wise move.  They’ve got some good songs here, and even if the production could do with a bit more (techical term alert) oomph, they’ve got a lot going for them.

They veer between goth rock and darkwave, which isn’t surprising considering their history, but there’s many a gloomy teen who will take tunes like ‘Love Gives Eternity’, ‘Angel’ and the killer ballad ‘Ghosts Of Our Past’, to their black coated hearts.

If you like Sisters of Mercy (the band, not the Irish institute of Catholic women)mixed with some All About Eve and Gary Numan, then give this a go.