Reviews roundup – Evil Scarecrow vs. The Red Goes Black vs. William Shatner vs. Slears
Chapter IV: Antartarctica
Dead Box Records
I like Evil Scarecrow. There aren’t enough nutters doing the rounds these days. Especially not ones whose latest album is about “the endeavours of a sandal-clad monk bravely exploring a sub-antarctic wasteland, on an unknown quest, enduring the extreme elements and battling his inner demons”. Oh and an ice slug who shoots frozen milk. And two headed turnip monsters. Not forgetting a song about a cosmic goth moths gong. That’ll be ‘Cosmos Goth Moth Gong’. All soundtracked to an almighty metal racket that seems like it’s about to collapse in on itself at any given moment.
It’s not easy to pull of metal and humour. For sure it’s easy if you don’t mean to be funny. Just ask Cradle of Filth. And there are some Filthy type moments here, especially on the keyboard side. They’ve also got plenty of Maidenesque riffs, some chest beating true metal moments and a lead single about Martians invading the earth disguised as Red Riding Hood. But it all works. At least to the ears of someone officially certificated as “no quite right in the heid”. But it’s also easy to hear how they’ve clambered up the ladder of metal success unlike such loveable rubbish as Lawnmower Deth. Because they’ve got tunes and they can play.
If Dr. Rabid Hell, Brother Dimitri Pain, Kraven Morrdeth, Princess Luxury and Ringmaster Monty Blitzfist had decided to be a serious metal band then I’m sure they could have done it. Thankfully they thought sod that, let’s have some fun and knock a rise out of all those po-faced power and goth metal combos. They’ve even chucked in a lighter in the air power ballad this time around. Just because they can. A job well done and one of the metal albums of the year.
THE RED GOES BLACK
Hold On Music
So it turns out that the old saying about never judging a book by it’s cover is actually true. When I looked at this, with it’s Boschian cover, I was thinking prog, maybe goth metal. The press release was all in Furrin (French I believe) so that was no help. But the sticker on the front mentioned some guest vocals from Lisa Kekaula of The Bellrays, who I vaguely remembered as a US garage band. She’d also worked with Basement Jaxx and Crystal Method so now I was even more confused. Dance Punk?
Well it’s none of these as The Red Goes Black are actually a sixties / seventies influenced classic rock meets soul meets white boy blues kind of thing. Which came as a surprise. A pleasant one,mind, as they’re really rather good. There’s bits of Bad Company, the Faces and their ilk in their as well, and they manage to pull the whole thing off.
They’ve been on the go for a decade or so now and released their debut album, “I Quit You Dead City”, back in 2015. I’m most taken with the bluesier tracks so the New Orleans influenced ‘Life’ featuring the aforementioned Lisa Kekaula and the Delta sounding ‘Broken Man Blues’ are the winners for me. The band are certainly talented enough to deserve a wider audience so here’s hoping this one sees them forging further afield.
I’ve always hated Christmas. It wisnae a thing when I was boy and my Dad died on Christmas Eve when I was still at the school. But when my late wife was alive I made a huge effort as she loved it. But even if I wasn’t inclined to hate it again, this record would definitely take me back doon the left hand path.
Mr Shatner gives his usual enthusiastic vocal display. Which means, of course, he still canny sing for toffee. He knows that so there’s as many spoken word moments as there are sung ones. However, the record label has managed to rope in a huuuuge number of rock legends (and mariachi punk Dani Bander) to phone in some contributions to a wide array of Christmas classics including So you get ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Blue Christmas’, ‘Little Drummer Boy’, ‘Winter Wonderland’, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ and more.
So, deep breath, there’s Henry Rollins, Rick Wakeman, Ian Anderson, Billy Gibbons and possibly the only time you’ll get Todd Rundgren and former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle on the same tune. ‘Winter Wonderland’ since you ask. From the world of country we’ve got Brad Paisley, bluesman Joe Louis Walker and folkie Judy Collins. It’s not all awful. Well it is but the tunes where he just declaims in faux Shakespearan style are at least funny. Once. So, the military drums of ‘Little Drummer Boy’ with some buried Joe Louis Walker guitar works best. And the free jazz / beat poetry of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ will certainly scare mony a wean.
I’m 100% convinced that Mr Shatner won’t give a shit what anyone thinks. And why should he. Buy this for someone in the office dip that you really don’t like.
To Bavaria! For some heavy rock meets modern rock meets metal.
It’s the second album from the German band following on from “Far Away From Getting Somewhere” in 2014. They’d been around for a while before that so they’re certainly more than competent musicians with some excellent guitar work from Tom Kaser and Gusti Berauer. And it’s when the guitars dominate that it works best as the heavier tracks work a lot better than the mellow ones.
They’re probably more of a post grunge band than anything else with a lot of nineties influences on display in moody songs like ‘Haven’ while the title track takes an edgier (and stronger) approach. It’s a good one for the Candlebox / Seether fans out there looking for a new vibe.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton