Reviews roundup ~ The Druids of Stonehenge ~ Crossbones Creed ~ Kali Trio ~ Gate to Infinity ~ Scott Reed’s String Theory
THE DRUIDS OF STONEHENGE
I rather enjoyed “Resurrection”, the recent covers album from the Druids of Stonehenge. That was a mere 49 years after their debut but they’ve not hung around with this follow-up.
It’s also an album of originals and as befits a proper album, it’s 10 songs long and clocks in at under 40 minutes. Like I say, a proper album.
And what they are doing is, spoiler alert, rootsy blues rock. Which may be the least spoilery spoiler ever. It sort of fits in a space between Canned Heat and JJ Cale and if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t like that notion, well, get off my land!
It starts off rather oddly with a really laid back, almost horizontal tune called ‘The Prettiest Train’ which doesn’t float my boat in any way shape or form. But then ‘Run For Cover’ arrives and all is well. It’s a cracker of a tune with some fabulous guitar and snarling vocals from David Budge. Me Like.
There’s a whole lot of chuggin’ going on here, something that makes me almost smile. There are also some excellent lyrics dotted about with the Sherlock Holmesian ‘Seven Percent Solution’ a grand example. Hands up, they’re not doing anything new here but their rootsy blues is a sound I always enjoy and the Druids of Stonehenge certainly know how to deliver it. My favourite? Ooh, that would ‘Dance With The Devil’ which has a rolling down the river vibe that is just delicious. A real good one.
Southern rock from Russia, eh? Well I suppose Sochi is in the south of Russia. And they are a rock band. Fair enough.
To be honest they’ve also got a lot of sleaze rock in there as well. The good stuff, mind. Sea Hags, Rock City Angels, Junkyard, that sort of thing. I was rather fond of that sound in my youth as it’s music that’s perfectly suited to sitting in a basement bar knocking back dark Furstenberg. Sadly that particular brain melter is long lost in history.
But Crossbones Creed seem very keen on rekindling the grubbier side of the Sunset Strip from back when Axl Rose was only 70% twat. Yes, that long ago. And they’re really good at it as well. Lots of fiery guitar solos, strong vocals and melodies and plenty of moments where shaking your thang in a snake like slither seems legally obligatory. Elsewhere there are a few bluesy Great White licks which are always welcome and the occasional sideways glance at the harder side of southern rock.
They’re not averse to the Big Ballad either with ‘Where You Belong’ coming on strong. ‘My Way’ should have been the lead single and that really has got early Tora Tora written all over it. In fact, I started singing ‘Walkin’ Shoes’ when it first arrived. It’s really good. In fact there isn’t a duff track here and they’ve sensibly stuck to ten songs that get your foot tapping and your head shaking rather than trying to fill space. As too many bands do. If we’re ever allowed to have concerts again, Crossbones’ Creed opening for Little Caesar at Bannermans Bar will do me nicely.
Ronin Rhythm Records
They say it better than I ever could.
“Each piece plays like the equivalent of a time-lapse of a looming cloud formation – a liquid progression of shifting shapes, changing density as well as shadow and light play. By the virtue of working with subtle iterations of form and using extended swaths of time as the equivalent of a large-scale canvas”.
What the…? I think that means they’re sort of a modern day minimalist fusion band with dance influences. I don’t know anymore. It’s all too much for my tired ears.
A Swiss trio who formed back in 2015 they are Raphael Loher on keyboards, guitarist Urs Müller and drummer Nicolas Stocher. This is their second album following on from their 2019 debut “Riot”. It’s certainly interesting. In a good way not the interesting in air quotes version and certainly comes across like the soundtrack to a very dark film. Probably about repressed memories, filmed in black and white. Perhaps Polish. That’s the vibes I’m getting anyway.
There are bleeps and swooshes aplenty while the percussion usually seems to have found a beat of its own and to hell with what the others are doing, this is a rhythm I like and I’m sticking with it. At times you don’t really know whether you’re listing to loops and samples or if it’s actually an electronic drum kit while the guitar rarely takes centre stage. In fact, the instruments are mixed together so well it’s quite hard to work out who is doing what. There are no songs in the conventional sense but sound wise I was sucked in by both ‘Transitoriness’ and ‘Folding Space.
They certainly give themselves plenty of space to manoeuvre with only four pieces occupying the 45 minute trip. It’s not easy listening but sometimes you need to feel discombulated by a strange time signature. You’ll get that here.
GATE TO INFINITY
Prog metal time. And unlike the last one from Gate To Infinity it’s not a concept album (boo!).
It’s actually the sixth album from the Austrian band who date back to the mid 2000’s but only the second one with the current lineup. It’s actually a mini album as the 5 tracks run for 24 minutes or so as, apparently, the feedback from their last release suggested they might want to condense their songs a wee bit. As if. It’s prog metal, damn it.
They bandy about the usual influences Symphony X, Dream Theater etc but I actually get a heavy metal Kansas vibe off the. Considering there are only two actual musicians involved – Berhard Hämmerle on guitars and Martin Hämmerle on drums and keyboards – they’ve managed to make a remarkably full sounding album. So a round of applause for their studio wizardry.
I must admit the vocals leave me a wee bit flat. There are moments where I want things to soar and a sustained vibrato isn’t what I’m waiting on. But there is plenty of good music. The title track is a corker while the almost brutal sound of ‘Stardust Falling’ is a real highlight and shows that the metal part of prog metal is firmly in place.
SCOTT REED’S STRING THEORY
Are you ready to shred? I said ARE YOU READY TO SHRED? Scott Reed is certainly ready to shred. He’s the musical director and co-founder of the Adelaide based CircAxe, a heavy metal-circus-opera but this is his debut solo release.
And shred he does on this all instrumental album. So how much of this you’ll enjoy really does depend on whether that particular sound is one that gets your gusset all in a twist. His variety of shred is of the prog metal variety and he’s managed to save up enough to get ex Dream Theater / Black Country Communion fella Derek Sherinian to add his keyboard touches to half of the eight tracks on offer.
His sound is quite a dense and dark one. ‘The Seduction’ is probably the best example of that although it’s a very misleading title. If I invited a young lady back to admire my etchings and put that on, she’d be running for the hills.
There are a lot of pounding riffs on offer and if you are the sort of person who thinks Yngwie Malmsteen got better after he stopped writing songs then you’re probably going to like this.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton