Reviews roundup – Brad Vickers ~ Voodoo Logic ~ Fateful Finality ~ Wardress ~ Ikarus ~ Intergalactic Huso Orchestra
BRAD VICKERS and his Vestapolitans
Twice As Nice
Man Hat Tone
I’ve always enjoyed the music of Brad Vickers and his Vestapolitans and this sixth album is no exception.
Is he rewriting the rule book of the blues and demolishing boundaries? Thankfully, no. What he does is stick to the roots of the blues across a set of originals and covers which could have sat happily anytime between the 1940s and the present day.
It’s mainly originals although he dips into the Big Maceo and Jimmy Reed songbooks, amongst others, and it all sits together in the manner of a good night down the juke joint. For sure, it’s a shame that neither Brad nor bass player Margey Peters are particularly good singers but they have a confessional style that suits the music.
I’m particularly fond of the songs where the unfortunately named V D King whips out his baritone sax so ‘Love Can Win’, ‘Close Together’ and ‘Everything I Need’ score highly. Best of all is there take on the Tampa Red tune ‘Look A There, Look A There’ which is just a joy.
If you kick off your album with a song called ‘Party Rock & Roll’ then you’d better bring your A game.
Voodoo Logic from Texas do in places but as an album it’s a bit hit and miss. They’re basically a classic rock band made up of Adam “Prophet” Stern (guitar/vocals), George “Juke Box Hero” Woods III (guitar/vocals), Lori “Heartbreak” Ragsdale (vocals), James “Boom-Boom” Gongora (drums/vocals) and John “D-Day” Perez (bass/vocals) so at least they’ve put some effort into giving themselves nicknames.
Musically, it’s a bit scattershot. Generally, they stick to a mid/late seventies hard rock vibe and the musical side of it is pretty good. I loved the guitar work on ‘Yesterday, Here to Stay’ and they’ve come up with a good few melodies along the way. You’ll find those on ‘Fallen Angel’ and ‘Best Days.
But the production isn’t great unless they were actually going for a seventies demo tape vibe. If so, well done. I’d also rather they’d stuck to one vocalist as it makes things a wee bit unbalanced. But they seem to be having fun and if I bumped into them one night while I was in command of a pitcher of beer I’m sure I’d have a fun night.
Ah, the Germans do like their thrash metal. I wonder why that is?
Anyway, this is the fourth album from Fateful Finality and with the Germanic pedigree including the likes of Kreator, Destruction and Sodom there are some hard acts to follow.
If you’re looking for the easy comparison (and I know I always am) then they’re probably closest to Kreator with a few more modern touches thrown in for good measure. Now and then you get a bit of a death metal vibe but at it’s heart it’s pure thrash metal. And they do it well. The vocals are pure barking classic German thrash and the guitars certainly know how to shred.
They seem very, very angry about everything and if you manage to survive ‘The Raid’ without diving for cover then you’re a braver man than me. ‘They Breed The Dead’ is another absolute banger and if thrash is your thing then I really recommend this. It’s a shame then that the end things with two cover versions. The listed ‘Moonchild’ seems them taking on Maiden and losing. Then there’s a hidden track which sees them doing ‘Overkill’. The song not the band. It would have been better to bung on another original as taking on iconic songs isn’t always a good move.
That aside, a goodie.
Dress For War
I believe “the kids” call this sort of thing True Metal. Or as it was when I was a boy, Heavy Metal.
Amazingly, Wardress actually date back to when I was a boy. Of course they split up without recording anything and it took them a mere 33 years for guitarist Alex Gor and vocalist Erich Eysn to finally get round to recording an album.
It’s proper old school metal, the kind of thing that got me all a quiver back in my hormonal days. Songs about war, killing, death and more killing, they’ve got the galloping guitars of Maiden, the leaden gumby of Angelwitch and all points inbetween. Which means that I loved it. Quite how it fits into the modern world is a whole other thing but who needs the modern world.
If you’ve got a studded leather wristband hidden at the back of the wardrobe now is the time to dig out, strap on your knee brace and put your foot on the invisible monitor for some serious headbanging. They actually have a song called ‘Mad Raper’ so make sure you don’t have that one as your ring tone but you can’t go wrong with ‘Metal Melodies’ and ‘Dark Lord’. They’ve got a proper epic in the shape of ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ which is an odd title considering the serious amount of carnage elsewhere on the record. The guitar work is really impressive throughout and it makes a pleasant change to hear someone roaring instead of screaming.
I loved this. Heavy. Fucking. Metal.
This is the third album from Swiss band Ikarus who describe themselves as a “contemporary groove jazz quintet..whose..singular sound is based on continuously permutating polyrhythms”.
So modern jazz fusion then? Yes. With ambience and tonal soundscapes? Yes. Right you are.
Having sorted that out, they’re blooming good at what they do. The opening ‘Meridian’ certainly lets you know what you’re in for as the gentle rhythms is offset by a piano having a henner while the male / female vocals set of on an intergalactic journey all of their own. It’s quite a feat considering they’re basically a piano / drums / upright bass trio. I’m sure that it makes even more sense if you’re on that intellectual plane but I only feel music in my gut and this is quite something else.
The album sometimes has the feel of space-age chamber music which seems an oxymoron unless you’ve actually heard this. Granted, by the time you’re two thirds of the way through some of the same rhythms have cropped up more than once but it actually adds a hypnotic element which is only augmented by the occasional bout of heavy breathing and panting in among the glowing wordless vocals.
It takes a lot to mess with my head these days but this did it. One of my records of the year.
INTERGALACTIC HUSO ORCHESTRA
By the name and the cover art I would have guessed space rock. Well you know that thing about a book and its cover? Well say hello to some seventies styled jazz rock fusion.
Which I love. Give some Pierre Moerlen’s Gong and I’m a happy bunny. So I’m delighted to welcome Finnish drummer Jimbo Makelainen and multi instrumentalist Jari Riitala into my world.
The latter is the main man here as he also wrote the bulk of the material as well as gi’in it laldy on an assortment of guitars, bass and keyboards. There are some guests as well who pop in for some guitar parts as well as flute and trombone. Seems it’s taken ten years to get this record finished largely down to Jari who says “they were too lazy” to search for collaborators.
Has it been worth the wait? Of course not. Nothing is worth waiting ten years for. Apart from possibly, a really good khachapuri. But musically, it’s a cracker as they head off into the world of Weather Report, John McLaughlin and others of that ilk. Judging by the album titles they seem to take a tongue in cheek approach to life but when they tackle ‘A Night in Tunisia’ from the Dizzy Gillespie they could be none more serious. ‘Old Rabbits Die Hard’ however? Well that’s another story.
Although it’s mainly classic fusion they do reach out into the words of pure jazz, rock and even prog on what is an absolute gem.
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