Reviews roundup ~ D’Ercole ~ Gilles Snowcat ~ Dawn Ahead ~ The Willing
Ach. I’ve given up trying to work out how many albums Phil Vincent has worled on in assorted guises. If I was guessing I would say this, his collaboration with guitarist Damian D’Ercole, is the seventh in that guise. I wouldn’t bet the farm on it, mind.
This is where a heavier edge appears in the music, less eighties melodic rock and more eighties hard rock. So there are plenty of riffs on offer. They’re provided as is often the case by Vince O’Regan who seems to relish the opportunity to let rip. Straight from the opening ‘Keep It All Together’ there is a rawer edge to the music than some of Mr Vincents other offerings. Even his vocals have a grittier edge to them.
I like that and the riffage carries on into ‘Bad Dream’ which actually manages to teeter on the edge of turning into metal. It’s also got one of my favourite guitar solos on the album. Things take a moodier edge for a few tunes after that but they’re not short of power and on ‘Lost In Yesterday’ they offer up some near CoC like sludge. It’s true, I’m no making it up. It’s probably my favourite on the album as the vocals soar over the doomy riff while the lead shreds over the top. It’s really good.
Much like previous D’Ercole records there are a few poppier moments that don’t really grab me but the legally obligatory big ballad, ‘Far Away’, is a good one. The show ends with another beast of a track. ‘The Only One’ is another highlight on what is the best D’Ercole album to date.
You’ve Been Unboxing
We See Limes Records
Mr Snowcat got in touch and asked me “would you be the happiest person in the world, if you had the opportunity to review an album that tastes like a groovy orange cocktail?” Of course, as an official Scotsman, it’s genetically impossible for me to say no to a free drink.
So imagine my disgust upon receiving said disc only to discover that it tastes exactly like a normal CD. Bastards. I licked it aw ways till Sunday but nothing. But I chucked it in the CD player anyway.
There are a lot of Belgians on this record by the way. Just flagging that up as I know there are a number of Belgophobes who follow this page. And I also suspect that a lot of them spend way too much time playing free jazz. And you know what circle ov Hel they reside in. The music. It’s odd. There are lots of of jazzy bits. But there also lots of reggaeish bits. And even some downtempo bits. And poppy bits. Lots of different buts. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Obviously I have no time for the reggaeish bits. But I have a lot of time for the downtempo bits. It’s also verra verra smutty in places which suggests that Mr Snowcat has been “active” or a vivid imagination.
Can Gilles sing? Not a jot. So when he’s not fiddling about with his clavinet, organ and synthesisers he melodically and somewhat gruffly speaksings his way through the songs. Imagine Lee Marvin singing Goldfrapp B-sides and you won’t be a million miles off. I really, really like the Lemon Jellyish moments. ‘Hot Towel (From That Funky Hotel’ should go down well with folk still waiting for that hiatus to end. It’s the sort of record that needs to played about 11pm on a sultry tropical night. Right now I can’t see the mainland for the mist but should the sun come back for a second go this year, I’ll be up the hill with this and a flask of Cuba Libre.
Art Gate Records
The debut album from German thrashers Dawn Ahead certainly, um, thrashes.
They’ve been around a wee while now with a couple of previous EPs under their studded belts. Their take on things seems to be a mix of trad clean vocals and modern growls over a thrashy base. Which is nice. They do veer off in some other directions in case a full album of that sort of thing is too much for modern ears. So there are nods to hardcore and nu-metal along the way. ‘Anthem of the Fallen’ is a fine example of the latter.
I’m not a huge fan of the clean vocals but the growls work well. The twin guitars can churn out a mean chug. They also have a slightly more experimental side which is best displayed on ‘Summon The Black’ which is stylistically all over the shop but which works really well. There are a couple of songs which you’ll struggle to tell apart but most of the time the arrangements and the music work well. If you were looking back to find out who they’re most redolent of then there is no doubt that a whole load of Anthrax has been ingested over the years.
They’re at their best when they’re going for the throat. The angrier the better seems to really kick them off. The closing ‘Excess’ really rips and I’d have pushed that much further up the running order. It’s a good one and there is definitely an audience out there who will want to hear this.
Rave Song Records
This one had me racking my brain. In the end I had to give up and use that there internet. Twas 2016 and “Right Direction”. That was my previous encounter with The Willing.
And they’re still going despite being what you might call well seasoned. I remember at the time being amazed that the rhythm section many years earlier had been members of biker rockers The Boyzz. Because this is as far away from that as you could imagine. But then that was a long time ago so if forty years on from that they want to play Eaglesy west coast smooth harmony pop then fair play. Go for it.
And that’s what they do in The Willing, a band who were doing the rounds in the seventies under the name of Ultima Thule. Turns out the lineup is the same as they had back then with Dave Angel (bass, guitar, keys, vocals), Kent Cooper (drums, percussion, vocals), John Krahenbuhl (keys, guitar, vocals), Dan Smith (keys, vocals), and Rich Wigstone (guitars, keys, percussion, vocals). It’s smooth and easy on the ear without being easy listening. However, the moments that you really wait for here are when they all chip in on five part harmony vocals. Now that’s a real treat.
It’s their fourth album since their latter day regeneration so they know what they’re about. So it’s songs about life and love which rarely get out of second gear. But they’re expertly performed and produced and when the core song matches that, then it’s a delightful listen. ‘You Got This One’ and ‘Who Wants To Fall’ are the absolute standouts round my way and as someone of a certain vintage and status a line like “I’m empty and I’m lonely to the bone” has ridiculous resonance. Ambrosia for folk who remember Ambrosia.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton