Reviews roundup ~ The Damn Truth ~ Blackjack Symphony ~ Gabriel and the Apocalypse ~ Immortal Sÿnn ~ Toboggan
THE DAMN TRUTH
Now Or Nowhere
Spectra Music/Sony Music
Been a while since The Damn Truth had an album out. If I could be bothered and do some of that research stuff but I’ll stick to “been a while”.
And, if memory serves, not much has changed in their world. Do they purvey big sounding, powerful, slightly bluesy rock tunes? Why yes they do.
They know their way around a good riff and Lee-la Baum is an excellent singer who gets a bit prime Grace Slick in places. Which is a good place.. I must admit my preference is for when they fuzz things up and go a wee bit out there so the likes of ‘Lonely’ and the lead single ‘This Is Who We Are Now’ did a grand job of floating my boat. Having said that, ‘Only Love’ is an absolute killer. Strip away the jangly guitars, slow it down a wee bit and get that in the hands of whoever it is nowadays who does what Mariah Carey these days and then laze about on your private island counting your coconuts.
Back in the world of the rawk and ‘The Fire’ is an absolute barnstormer while ‘Full On You’ is the rawkiest of the rawk offering which almost made me think of Young Heart Attack. Remember them? No, me neither. If there is one thing lacking here it’s that out and out killer song that’s going to get fields full of people singing gustily and clapping out of time. Assuming we’re ever allowed to do that again.
But what it is, is a really good record Excellent performances, a headphone approved production with six of the tracks produced by Bob Rock (Metallica, Aerosmith, Motley Crue, All Of The Records). Fair play, though, you can’t see the join
The Damn Truth’s new album ‘Now or Nowhere’ is available from www.thedamntruth.com
If I could still fit into those spandex kecks. Well, people would be very sick but while that was going on, this would be the perfect soundtrack.
Because Blackjack Symphony really, really like the 80s. And if it wasn’t for the small inconvenience of this being the 21st century, they’d be shoo-ins for the opening slot who don’t get their names printed on a Whitesnake / Dokken arena tour.
Which, of course, means that I really enjoyed. The brainchild of the Keevers brothers, Matt and Lonny, who cover vocals, guitars, keyboards and bass between them they can cover the entire gamut between hard rock and metal with ease. To begin with you think it’s going to be out and out 80s metal as ‘Kamikaze’ is all that. But a couple of songs later and you’re in the legally obligatory, 80s styled, lighters in the air, power ballad moment.
A few tracks further on and they’re cranking out a Judas Priest 1984 riff on ‘Criminal’. And doing it well. Matt Keevers has an excellent voice that can handle the changes of pace and lyrically they’re not afraid to explore diverse subjects such as the Abominable Snowman and Napoleon. Not in the same song mind. Although if anyone wants to write a rock opera about Napoleon encountering a Yeti then I will be first in line to pre-order.
The production is solid from beginning to end and as a skip free record it gets a big thumbs up from me.
GABRIEL AND THE APOCALYPSE
Alpha Transcendence – Remix Edition
Of course I’ve got no idea what the original versions sound like so it ill behooves me to make a comparison.
But based on this I’m guessing that the splendidly named Gabriel and the Apocalypse specialise in metal of the industrial variety. Even my aged ears can detect some sturm und drang mixed with KLANK!
This remix EP is a real treat if that Sort of Thing is your Sort of Thing, especially if splendid percussion makes you go all moist in all the most important places. Things start in fine fashion with Rick “St1tch” Thomas from the always criminally underrated Mushroomhead remixing ‘Systematic Chaos’. It’s actually remarkably poppy and is the song that would go down a storm in the fourth floor down of the Mission in India Buildings when I was a boy. Five subterranean floors with a different strand of metal on each one. Those were the days.
‘Electro-Mechanical’ is quite trancy and there’s an odd cover of the Midnight Oil track ‘Beds Are Burning’. That’s mixed by Sin Quirin (Ministry) and as I don’t keep up to date with the gossip I can’t tell you whether that is a good thing or pure evil. Those who pay attention will doubtless know. Oddly, my favourite is the closing acoustic mix of ‘Bleed Me An Ocean’. The vocals really ring out on that one and it’s just an excellent song. Obviously not their bread and butter but a real good one.
Their industrial electro metal is mighty fine and if the point of an EP is to make you look up, pay attention and go looking for more then it’s a job well done. A truly excellent offering.
Force Of Habit
Now that’s a proper heavy metal album cover that is. Force of habit. Geddit? Fnarr fnarr.
More importantly, I can assure you that I am not getting back in the bus until you say we’re Heavy Metal. And, if you hadn’t guessed from the spelling and umlaut of Sÿnn, Immortal Sÿnn are Heavy Metal.
Heavy Metal from 1983 but still heavy metal. It’s no surprise to me that the vinyl version of this will feature a cover of The Rods’ ‘Let Them Eat Metal’. They’ve had records out before but seem to have had a huge personnel turnover since the last one which saw the ousting of their guitarist and bassist and the arrival of a new singer.
If you are the kind of person who lived solely on cheap beer and Metal Massacre compilations back in the day then this is going to make you fell really homesick. Most of the tunes are in an early Accept / Split Beaver vibe while a few thrashier riffs crop up hither and thither. As you can tell from song titles like ‘The Mailman Song’ and ‘Nuclear Terror’ they’re not afraid to take on the big political issues of the day. But then you start to wander into songs like ‘Satan’s Tavern’ and it’s slightly less full on.
The one thing that holds this back is the split vocals. Turns out the new singer didn’t arrive in time to sing all the songs but the guitarist and the drummer have a bash at lead vocals as well. It would have been better if they’d managed to have a unified approach to the record as it makes things a wee bit disjointed.
It’s a fun release if you yearn for the days of Malice, Steeler and early Armored Saint.
In the mood for some funky prog fusion? Of course you are and you’ll find plenty of that on the full length debut from Toboggan.
Dreadful band name aside, this follows on from a 2019 EP and sees them taking a jittery, psychedelic approach to their instrumental sound. If you don’t believe me then the fact that they have noodly interludes with names like ‘Impro Ambiant’ and ‘Impro Jazz’ should be enough to convince you.
The main body of the kirk is taken up with lengthy workouts that really do explore their world of music. I wasn’t sold on the opener but when we get to ‘Zouloulouzou’ things really start to work for me. It’s a remarkable piece of music that takes the listener through modern jazz into fusion and way beyond prog as it unfolds itself across fourteen minutes. ‘TanpYoupY’ is the most rock of the pieces whule ‘Rezzz’ is the most jazz.
The three musicians involved – Etienne Mazoyer – guitar, keys & synths, Victor Bernard – drums and Yoann Chillault – bass – are quite exceptional and if your headspace is looking for something to take you in another direction then this one comes highly recommended.
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