Reviews roundup – Sodom vs. A Tribute To Yes vs. Knightlife vs. Randy Mcallister vs. Light Among Shadows vs. The Frontiers
Steamhammer / SPV
Meet the new Sodom, same as the old Sodom. And by old, I mean old.
After turfing out the rest of the band, Sodom mainman Thomas “Angelripper”, brought in one of his old guitarists along with a couple of metal stalwarts. That would be guitarist Frank “Blackfire” Gosdzik (Kreator), second guitarist Yorck Segatz (Beyondition), and drummer Stefan “Husky” Hüskens – aka Tormentor (Asphyx, Desaster). In doing so he’s also went back to a time when Sodom were leaders of the German thrash scene for this appetiser of an EP.
And it certainly thrashes out. The title track is the best Sodom track for a long time, full of fire and venom while ‘Conflagration’ spits with fury. Chuck in a live version of ‘Tired and Red’ taken from the band’s classic 1989 album Agent Orange as performed at the four pieces live debut at the Rock Hard Festival and it’s safe to say things look rosy in the World of Sodom.
It’s available as a Digi-CD, 10” clear vinyl, and download / stream.
Yesterday And Today: A 50th Anniversary Tribute To Yes
50 years, eh? That’s a long time for anyone to be playing music. It’s certainly a long time to wait before getting yourself in the ludicrous tomfoolery that is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Especially when you consider the utter keech that is in there. But this is Yes, a band that seemed out of time even when prog was a thing. Of course this being Yes, there are two versions of the band touring round the anniversary. As it should be. This one may be unofficial but there are a lot of “official” Yes members floating around it, so there’s no room for Messrs Anderson or Wakeman.
It’s a grand album though, heading back to the debut album in 1969 and getting as far forward as “Big Generator” in 1987 so it’s not all predictable. Among the Yes alumni are Tony Kaye, Billy Sherwood, Jay Schellen, Geoff Downes and Jon Davison along with such prog luminaries as Steve Hackett, Nick D’Virgilio, Robert Berry and Francis Dunnery. It’s been co-ordinated by Dave Kerzner and Fernando Perdomo who have pedigree all of their own and both of whom have been featured within these walls.
Things kick off with a personal favourite – ‘Machine Messiah’ from “Drama”. And it’s a cracking version that has Nick D’Virgilio and Geoff Downes front and centre before heading back in time to ‘Yours Is No Disgrace’ with Tony Kaye. Fans of Yes can be assured that they’re not fiddling about here. It’s straight ahead prog that rarely strays too far from the originals. Then it’s into a hefty set of ballads culminating in a fabuous rendition of ‘Sweetness’. Steve Hackett pops in to play on ‘Cinema’ and it’s not long before current Yes vocalist Jon Davision turns up with a delightful acoustic medley. There are highlights a-plenty but I was personally delighted to hear from Francis Dunnery on the closing ‘Starship Trooper’.
A worthy tribute that all Yes fans should hear.
Here’s the “official” Yes a couple of years back. RIP Chris Squire
Poppa Mack Records
Off to Pennsylvania now for some alternative rock from Knightlife. They’re a band who claim to be influenced by Fleetwood Mac, Joe Walsh, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, The Cars, Weezer, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Oasis amongst others. Which means they actually sound a bit like every other mainstream so-called rock band out there. I say so-called because the word rock has become devalued and consumed by bands that wouldn’t know what rock was, even if you smashed them over the head with one.
Having said that if you are in the market for a college radio mainstream rock band then there is no reason not to give Knightlife a listen. They’re all competent musicians and can knock out a radio friendly song with modern day self-aware (aka me) lyrics. If that’s your bag then ‘Tangerines’ or ‘Ocean’ will more than satisfy you. It’s not thing but I did find myself returning to ‘Philosophy’ for more than one listen. It’s definitely my favourite so will probably be loathed by the target market.
For what it is, it more than does the job. One for the twenty something hipster / barista in your life.
RANDY McALLISTER & the Scrappiest Band In The Motherland
Triggers Be Trippin
We’re back for another trip around the block with Randy McAllister and his scrappy band.
There’s a lot of folk helping out on this one but it’s the main man who writes, sings, drums and plays the moothie on what is mainly a set of enjoyable originals. Although he does find time to take a spin round the Ivory Joe Hunter staple ‘Since I Met You Baby’. Most of the excellent guitar play comes from Brandon Gudspeth who puts in a good shift.
As always he runs the gamut of blues, soul and a wee bit rock, although it’s the tougher songs that tend to please me most. They would include ‘In A Flick of a Bic’, the stating the obvious ‘We Can’t Be Friends (If You Don’t Like Jimmy Reed and the splendi ‘Bring It On Backbreaker.’. He never fails to bring his A game and this is another excellent listen if you like blues with a Texan, funky and sometime funny twist. Definitely recommended. As far as I can tell you can only this direct from the man himself at https://www.randymcallister.com
LIGHT AMONG SHADOWS
Under The Wave
Ooh, I do like me some female fronted symphonic metal. It’s tricky though. After all, how do you measure up to the majesty of Nightwish over the last decade or so?
Well you don’t. So you have to scrap for second place. To be fair a lot of the pretenders to the throne have given up and moved on to other things. So there is a gap where the likes of Epica and Within Temptation used to live. Well Light Among Shadows aren’t there yet but they’ve given a good account of themselves here.
The Spaniards are off to a good start as they have an excellent singer in María Barragán. She may not have the distinctive tones of a Tarja but her style suits the music. And there are fair few tunes here that will certainly get them noticed, given half a chance. Lyrically they’re off into a world of gloom, introspection and gothica. As it should be. An extra point goes to the CD presentation which knocks many a major release out of the park. It is an independent release so for they money they had the production is fine and I would like to hear what they could achieve given some additional input. I’ve had ‘The Loneliest Road’ and ‘Winter of the World’ on repeat for a wee while now so they’re the pick of the bunch.
An excellent introduction to a band with a lot of potential.
To Holland now and the unpronounceable town of Spijkenisse to meet an up and coming power trio called The Frontiers.
And what do we have? Well there is certainly plenty of energy as befits a bunch of young ‘uns. The opening title track certainly bursts with life as they take a punky approach to their music. A fine start. But after that it gets a bit hit and miss, almost as if The Frontiers aren’t entirely sure who they want to be yet. Next up are a couple of so-so mainstream alt-rock tracks which saw my finger straying towards the skip button. But then you reach ‘Memento Mori’ and the harder, more focused edge to it, draws you back in.
In fact it’s the second half of the album that has the greater weight so maybe some different sequencing might have made a difference. To be fair, they’re young, it’s their debut and they’ve put this together themselves so fair play for getting this far. They might want to consider a dedicated vocalist and I’d still like it if they concentrated more on one sound rather than throwing all their influences into the mix but there is a very strong EP in here that suggests they’ve got enough to climb the ladder.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton