Reviews roundup – Brothers In Metal vs. Curved Air vs. Regina Bonelli vs. Metal Inside vs. Louwiper vs. Teksti-TV 666
BROTHERS IN METAL
Prophecy Of Ragnarök
How much more metal could this album be? None more metal, that’s how much.
It’s quite clever actually. What with Manowar winding down and the Viking motif still riding high, why not take the power metal of Manowar and the lyrical imagery of Amon Amarth, chuck in a wee bit folk and symphonic metal and let rip. And it works. Big time.
Chuck in three singers (including one female for those symphonic fans), three guitarists, a barrow load of riffs, some mighty choruses and a breast beating attitude, and it’s all systems go. It’s powerful, majestic and the kind of thing that makes me want to invade a small country. Or at least set fire to the pile of leaves in the corner of the back green. When the songs are good they’re very very good. It’s impossible to resist the sheer metallitude of ‘Defenders of Valhalla’ with it’s hey nonny breakdown and chanted Oi’s. The gang backing vocals are a regular feature and are guaranteed to get those European festival fans hoisting their shields.
Even better when they slow down and chuck in a ballad, it still works. ‘Yggdrasil’ is a magnificent song that sacrifices none of the power in it’s angst filled journey. They also know how ridiculous they are. And I mean that in a good way. Why else would the singers be identified as Ylva Eriksson – Voice of the Valkyries, Joakim Lindbäck Eriksson – Battle Cries, Mats Nilsson – Tongue of the Gods! If it were still 2018 then this would be one of the albums of the year. It was certainly the best Battle Metal of 2018. Hail and Kill!
Rarities Series Volume 3: The Second British Rock Meeting 1972
Curved Air Records
For a footnote in the history of pro rock there has been a lot of Curved Air activity of late. I mean, do we really need to be at Volume 3 of their rarities series? Who are these hidden Curved Air fans? I’m cracking on a bit and have met thousands of prog rockers over the years without ever having a Curved Air conversation.
Well they’re out there somewhere and the latest treat for them is a live record recorded at The Second British Rock Meeting in 1972. Which was a two day festival in Germany. And one that played fast and loose with the “British” tag. Pacific Gas & Electric, Buddy Miles, New Riders of the Purple Sage and others failing the nationality test. But the first day saw Curved Air half way down the bill underneath the likes of Atomic Rooster, Humble Pie and the Incredible String Band. The whole festival was recorded by the US Armed Forces Radio and it’s from those tapes that this has been sourced.
Soundwise it’s OK. Probably a B+ or A- bootleg quality. It features the Sonja Kristina, Darryl Way, Francis Monkman, Florian Pilkington-Miksa, and Mike Wedgwood line-up who were promoting their “Phantasmagoria” release. It’s an hour long set that sees roadie cock ups (the guitar not being plugged in when they arrive on stage) through to a thirty minute closing jam featuring their tour de force, ‘Vivaldi’. It’s a well presented package with some excellent liner notes from some of the folk involved and some previously unseen pictures. If you are one of those mysterious Curved Air addicts then this is definitely for you.
To America now to catch up with New York Blues Hall of Fame member Regina Bonelli.
Her take on the blues is that line where blues and soul cross over and with a fine voice to present her songs, she puts on a good show.
Bar a solitary cover (the Rolling Stones ‘Paint It Black’) it’s an all original set of tunes ably brought to life by an excellent set of musicians who throw in brass, harmonica, pedal steel, washboard and even a Wurlitzer cameo performed by Ms Bonelli herself. It’s well recorded and arranged, pulling off the trick of showcasing a voice without disappearing into the background.
There are plenty of highlights with the B-3 enhanced opener ‘Don’t You Put Your Hands On Me’ and the country blues (and washboard featuring) ‘Playin’ In The Dirt’ high on the repeat button. An enjoyable and engaging set of soulful blues that comes recommended.
Soñando Tu Camino
Right, time for Spanish heavy metal on a five track EP which is the brainchild of one Francisco Javier Rodríguez Guerrero.
Well he did write all the songs and play all the instruments. He has brought in Antonio Luis Rodríguez Ramón to take care of the vocals on an EP which fits into the power / symphonic metal idiom. There are more than a few nods to the likes of Iron Maiden, Helloween and Stratovarius tucked away in the grooves. I’ve no idea what they’re about, mind, as the songs are all in Spanish. The best of the bunch is the opening track ‘Quién Soy Yo?’ (Who I Am?) which is one of the shorter tracks at a mere seven minutes long. Because he does like a long tune does our Javi.
There are some interesting ideas in most of the songs. About half of ‘Immortal’ captures the attention and the same with the closing title track (‘Dreaming Your Way’). But a lot of what’s here sounds more like a demo than an actual release. I know it’s been independently recorded but there is a lot of competition in the metal world and you really need to hit the mark. There is talent in the basic song structures and performance and with a wee bit of editorial control and, perhaps, some external input then what comes next could be interesting.
Stand In Line
Blimey! Louwiper have been on the go for a long time. Their first demo tape (ask yer Grandad) came out in 1994, a couple of years after they formed. Seems they were more of a hardcore band back then, but the years have seen them develop into more of a stoner meets Pantera kind of band.
Which is a good thing to be. Naturally, musicians have come and go over the years but since 2013 they’ve settled into a power trio format of Andrea Tonon (bass/vocals), Michele Dal Bianco (guitar) and Giuliano Favaretto (drums). And they do make a fine racket. Not that you can tell but they seem to be fully woke and right on as they sing about the environment, oppression and freedom. You know, the kind of freedom where other people tell you what to do. They even have a song about the Bataclan attack in Paris.
Like a lot of bands of their ilk it’s more about the riff and the groove than anything else and so it proves here. They have some great Down / CoC riffs blasting out on the likes of ‘Monsters Of Control’ and ‘Temple Garden’. In some places they get a bit punky, obviously looking back to their hardcore heritage but it always remains hard. The vocals aren’t great but show me a stoner band who care!
“Finlands top purveyors of shoegaze kraut punk”. Wow. That’s some claim. What with all those other shoegaze kraut punk bands banging about Finland.
But top or not they description isn’t too far off. Of course I’n an old man so I end to sum it up as spacerock, and be damned. But that’s not a sale-able commodity to the kids so let’s cover all the bases. Musically, things get a bit rowdy, as you would expect with four guitarists in their ranks and I’m sure it’s even rowdier live where you can actually tell it’s four guitarists rather than overdubs. But they do make a good noise especially when they head way out there.
That would be on ‘Turbos-Mondeo’, the little known follow up to Fords Mk II, and the closing ‘Katko’, both of which have the swoosh and attitude you would want from your spacerock. Some of the material inbetween does go a bit My Bloody Valentine but you can’t win them all. Naturally I have no idea what they’re lauluing about, what with it all being Finnish to me, but it’s really all about the rhythmic, hypnotic sounds. What I do know is the old speedfreak spacerocker in me found an awful lot to love here. A good one.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton