Reviews roundup – The Three Tremors vs. Alan Simon vs. Hadden Sayers vs. Panic Fire vs. Dr. Chrispy vs. Souls Of Deaf
THE THREE TREMORS
The Three Tremors
Back in the mists of time the prophets of metal sat around their oracle and conjured a vision of The Three Tremors. Riders were sent around the kingdoms seeking the finest voices in rock. Answering their call were Ronnie James Dio (Rainbow / Black Sabbath), Rob Halford (who was between Judas Priest stints) and Bruce Dickinson (who was also doing solo stuff before rejoining Iron Maiden). Dio dropped out and Geoff Tate (Queensrÿche) answered the clarion call. But life (and band reunions) got in the way and it came to nought. A quick Youtube shufty for a live rendition of ‘One You Love To Hate’ from 2000 and you can see and hear Tate and Dickinson join Halford onstage in London on the song written by Halford, Dickinson and Roy Z that was featured on Halford’s “Resurrection” album.
Fast forward several decades and we have a new Three Tremors. This one features Tim “Ripper” Owens (Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Dio Disciples), Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin (Jag Panzer, Satan’s Host, Titan Force), and Sean “The Hell Destroyer” Peck (Cage, Denner/Shermann, Death Dealer), So not the A league but all decent enough singers in their own right. And it delivers exactly what you would expect. Shredding power metal, vocals that only dogs can hear and vibrato upon vibrato.
Thing is there’s a reason that none of their own bands made the cut. And that is songs. The performances are great but there is a dearth of memorable songs. Don’t get me wrong, when it goes right it goes very right. The doomy ‘When The Last Scream Fades’, ‘Invaders From The Sky’, the title track and ‘Wrath Of Asgard’ are metal par excellence, as a re a couple of others. But for every cracker there’s a ‘Sonic Suicide’. The songs are written by Sean Peck with his band Cage providing the music and there’s a reason not every metal household has a copy of “Hell Destroyer”. But the singers seem to be having a great time throwing every vocal trick into the mix with the band aiming straight for the power metal jugular.
There’s half an album here of classic metal and if you’re desperate to hear the sound of Ripper, The Tyrant and The Hell Destroyer shredding their vocal chords in unison, then grab the chance.
Excalibur: The Ladies of the Lake
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Excalibur series of albums from Alan Simon, all prog folk Celtic rock concept albums par excellence. This is a themed compilation of previously released material which pulls together female vocalists who’ve contributed to them.
Alan Simon, said of the compilation: “Since for creation of the first Excalibur album, it’s been a privilege to work with so many strong ladies characters. I speak not just of Guinevere and Morgane, but also of the talented singers who have brought some of the roles to life.” So you’re getting the vocals of Moya Brennan, Maddy Prior, Karan Casey, Kohann, Siobhan Owen, Jacqui McShee, Nikki Matheson, Sonja Kristina and Maite Itoiz for your delectation.
It’s actually quite a clever idea as the songs are of the gentler variety and there is certainly a market for dreamy, romantic Celtic folk rock out there, especially if there’s a bonnie lass leading it. Which probably makes me frightfully sexist but I’m an old man and past caring. The songs themselves, shorn of their parent album, stand proudly on their own and hopefully this will direct a few more people in the direction of their origins. As always, the packaging is a delight, the production faultless and it’s 50 minutes well spent.
Hadden Sayers is one of those blokes who you’re sure should be a well known name. Then a new album comes out and you remember that he isn’t. And you can’t work out why.
So here comes album number nine and the question remains the same. Because it’s another fine offering of blues rock. And when none other than Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top says Hadden is pretty much my hero” you do wonder if there is any point in trying to convert the unbelievers. Fools. This time around he’s got a fine backing band in the shape of Greg Morrow on drums, Rusty McFarland on bass and percussion and Johnny Neel on organ to bring his self penned songs to life. His always excellent guitar is well to the fore and his sturdy voice does what it needs to. It’s a fiery start to the record with the rock firmly to the fore on the opening tracks. The boogie backbeat of ‘Hit The Road’ is an early favourite before he mellows down easy on ‘Blood Red Coupe Deville’.
He’s often spotted playing in Ruthie Foster’s band and she pops in on ‘Waiting, Wanting’, a splendid, soulful love song. Before you know it, the album has come to a close with nary a bum note and an overwhelming urge to hit the play button over and over again. One of those records that will stay with you for a long time, it’s nigh on essential listening for blues fans. If you head off to his website you can also get an acoustic version of this release where Hadden returned to the studio with only his 1952 Gibson acoustic and weathered tenor to reinterpret the songs as solo pieces. Doubtless another treasure.
You might not the name Greg Schutt but if you’re of a Certain Age you will remember Takara. He played on their debut alongside producer turned singer Jeff Scott Soto and we all know what happened to him.
As well as working with Soto he was later in a band called Signal Zero before embarking on a solo career that has seen a dozen releases. He’s also continued playing live performing covers and originals. This latest release is actually another solo album but he’s decided to use a band name for his latest offering of classic rock meets progressive metal. This is sort of the second Panic Fire release as the album “Evolve” came first, which is actually a best of his solo material.
So far, so confused. He’s brought in his rhythm section from his Diary of an Ozzman tribute band (Tracy Ferrell on bass and Dan Martin on drums) to fill the sound out and there are some rather good tunes on offer here. Granted, he does jump over the place musically as he takes on metal, rock and even pop across the 11 tunes. The radio hit that won’t be is ‘You And Me Against The World’, even though it’s the kind of thing that radio would have snapped up when radio was a thing. Me? I like it when he rocks a wee bit harder so I’m more drawn to the likes of ‘Decompose’. It’s certainly worth a listen but you might want to stream before you buy.
Apparently (for the technogeeks out there), the booklet includes QR codes that will take to to an exclusive YouTube link for all the Chrysalis music videos and documentaries, plus album lyrics. As you do.
I don’t get many electronic synth pop psych albums arriving at my door. Understandable, since there is no-one alive who knew me in the nineties so will have missed my Anubian Lights, Eat Static, System 7, FSOL phase. Combine that with me not knowing any former NASA engineers and the thud of “VHS” from Dr Chrispy came as a surprising treat.
Dr. Chris Boshuizen is the NASA engineer in question and he certainly likes his old school electro. He started off wanting to emulate Enigma on an Amiga then became a massive Dave “David” Gilmour fan. And that’s pretty much what you get on this instrumental spacescape.
So if bleeps and swooshes are where you want your head to be, then you’re really going to take to the likes of ‘Vanmover’, ‘Torotoroid’ and ‘Dreaming of Home’ amongst many others. For sure, some of the tunes are interchangeable but he manages to combine retro and futuristic into an ever enjoyable set of electronic themes. Be warned, though. The closing ‘Follow The Wild Geese’ is yer actual song. A folky ballad with vocal from one Marie Jenkins. It’s not yer CD turning wonky. Oh, and if you get your finger oot the limited first edition compact disc features a double page spread photograph shot inside the cockpit of a vintage Boeing 747 aircraft. The disc photography lines up with the cover, and hidden behind the disc is a shout out to one of Dr Chrispy’s greatest film influences, “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”. Geeks ahoy!
SOULS OF DEAF
Fortune Favors The Bold
That’s a terrible name for a band, that is.
But after a thrashy instrumental intro the band settle into a world of late seventies Judas Priest riffs and early eighties Accept riffs as they make their way through the world of olde school metal. Which is a good thing.
Seems that Souls Of Deaf was started by Sander Stappers (bass guitar) in 2015 when he first started writing the songs for this release. Joined by Luc van Rens (guitar), Carl Vereijken (drums) and Francis Van Der Hoff (vocals) they’ve done a grand job of recreating the sounds of yore. Although apparently they’ve all been laying away in the world of metal for quite some time before getting together.
There are some good tunes and riffs on offer with ‘Fall From Grace’, the title track and their Motorhead alike ‘Out To Lunch’ the ones that really hit home for me. Things do slide when they slow things down as the vocals are more obvious then. They’re fine on the faster tempos but on something like ‘Forwards You Move’ they don’t really work. It’s a decent effort for a new (ish) band but they’ll have to work hard to stand out from the metal crowd.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton