Reviews roundup – Crowbar vs. Trevor Sewell and Janis Ian vs. Herem vs. Mallet vs. Noesis

81hwpaec2dl-_sl1024_CROWBAR
The Serpent Only Lies
Steamhammer / SPV

Studio album number eleven from the kings of New Orleans sludge.  “We are so excited about our eleventh studio record! ‘The Serpent Only Lies’ is a powerful follow-up to our last studio album ‘Symmetry In Black’” proudly states front man and riff lord Kirk Windstein.

Which is fair enough because the rate of progression in Crowbar world is akin to that of a particularly dawdle inclined snail.  But that’s what their fans want so why would you mess with the system.

The album kicks off with “Falling While Rising” and you’re straight into the big slow, doomy riffs that we known and love them for, replete with a ear melting screamed vocal from Windstein.  They go all moody and magnificent on “Surviving The Abyss”, probably the album highlight, but wherever you land you know instantly that you’re in Crowbar world.  Fans will love this.

‘The Serpent Only Lies’ is available as a DigiPak CD, as a gatefold 180 gram transparent green vinyl LP with printed inner sleeve, (plus the full album CD in a paper sleeve) and as one of them digital download things.

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6122b11hkngl-_ss500TREVER SEWELL & JANIS IAN
Shadows
independent

Hot on the heels of his ‘Hollow’ album which featured Paul Barrere of Little Feat, Mr Sewell headed back into the studio to start recording a new record.  Some well known people turned up to join in, including Tracy Nelson of Mother Earth fame, Vickie Carrico, and Janis Ian.

Turns out Mr Sewell was struggling to finish one particular song until Ms Ian came up wit a solution which involved stripping it right back with her on piano and Trevor singing.  And that was all it needed in a moment of one take magic.

It’s being pushed as a Christmas single even if the theme is more universal than that with Mr Sewell saying “It’s about the appreciation of those who have offered us unconditional love, when and where it’s most needed, and without ever expecting anything in return; about unselfishly helping others through dark times, when they are at their lowest and need support.”

Which is nice if you like the thought of Chris Rea fronting a plaintive piano ballad.  Which you should.  A percentage of the Shadows proceeds will go to The Pearl Foundation in the US, set up by Janis herself , and which has raised over $900,000.00 to assist with education and scholarships.

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herem20coverart300pixHEREM
III
Inverse

Well know.  Here’s ones for fans of the above mentioned Crowbar.  Because it’s Finnish doom meets sludge band Herem.  They’ve been on the go since 2005 and have now got around to releasing their cunningly titled third album, ‘III’.

Oh yes, they do like their meaty riffs and wailing vocals over in Herem land.  And they’re very good at it indeed.  They’ve got the riffs, the grooves and the screams, the latter courtesy of Valendis Suomalainen.  There is a weight to the music that leaves you feeling like a large rock has been dropped on your chest. In a good way.

There’s lots of distortion, a few stoner influences on tunes like “Snakes  Of  The  Third  Moon”  and  “Edge  of  the  World”, some great guitar solos and no earthly reason why you shouldn’t buy this record immediately.

http://www.inverse.fi/

51b5izin0gl-_ss500MALLET
Man On Fire
Baze Records

To Germany and to a band who have been plying their hard rock’n’roll trade for over thirty years.  Ladeez and gennulmen, it’s Mallet!

And they’re about as subtle as a flying mallet as well.  But in a good way.  You don’t get to open shows for the likes of Deep Purple and Scorpions if you’re a bit shit and Mallet have certainly got the classic rock chops.  The trio play over 150 shows a year and you can hear their experience in every lick.

It’s basically seventies meets eighties hard rock with a few metallic edges hither and thither.  But they do get a wee bit experimental here and there with their arrangements as befots a band who had a long-standing collaboration with the Wiesbaden State Theater and their Rock Ballet “Rock around Baroque”.

Songs like “Million Dollar Babe”, “Thank You” and “Old School” may slot into a rock template but it’s an artisan, hand crafted one.

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51qzegfm1el-_ss500NOESIS
The Current
independent

To the Canadian colonies now and a meeting with the debut album from progressive rock band Noesis. And it’s that modern prog meets post rock meets prog metal hybrid so beloved of band like Tool, Mastodon and Dream Theater.

It’s serious stuff and not the sort of thing to take to your office Christmas party but if you are looking to educate minds then the music purveyed by Jonathan Gagné (vocals), Charles Lavoie (guitars), Samy Guenette (guitars), Anthony Hébert (bass) and Cédric Lepage (drums) may well be your thing.

The music is intense, complex and rhythm driven which really pushes songs like “Post Mortem Illness”, “The Thing Called Consciousness” and “The Prey” to the limits.  If you do like the bands named up above and are looking for a new best friend then ‘The Current’ might turn out to be the place to be.

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