Reviews roundup ~ The Holy Road ~ Suzi Cream Cheese ~ Polly O’Keary ~ Nova Incepta
THE HOLY ROAD
An Unshakable Demon
I don’t know what unshakable is. A demon who doesn’t want to turn into former Newcastle United player Shaka Hislop. Which is fair enough seeing as how Shaka Hislops actual first name is Neil. Hasn’t quite got the same ring to it. Perhaps we’ll leave it to the cunning linguists out there.
Anyway, you know how you sometimes say something nice just to keep the peace. Then twenty years later you’re still having to go to barbecues with people you barely know and now it’s too late to tell them that it was all a spectacular miscalculation on your part. Well that’s me and The Holy Road. But I’m too tired to put things right and he won’t actually read this. So.
I lightly praised “The Minotaur (Mesto In A-Minor)” off the back of a band called To Bury A Ghost (although I still think he’s got me mixed up with someone else). Which brings us to ‘An Unshakable Demon’. Which is a 6 track EP as it seems he’s still not got round to debut album, “For The Blood Of England.” Ah well. Electronic post-rock apocalyptic soundtrack, anyone? Well I can do you one in a medium, course it’ll fit you, look at you, barely an ounce to spare.
As the kids would have it, this is a collab with some of his favourite musicians, none of whom I’ve heard of. So I won’t be giving them a taste of fame. It will just make them bitter in the end. The opening intro track resolutely failed to float my boat, possibly because I was still staring at the rear sleeve of the CD which features someones innards. Well it is divided into Appendix A and Appendix B. But then ‘Coming Up For Air’ arrives with its eighties industrial-lite vibe and the sound of something unpleasant happening in the downstairs neighbours house. It’s good. A disco banger!
‘The Chauffer’ continues the “it’s good” vibe although this is the point where you realise it’s time to put your headphones on as there’s all sorts of weird shit going on in the mix. From there through to the closing ‘Slow This Down (Epilogue)’ it’s all top quality with nary a mis-step. And the latter track aside it somehow manages to be completely different to his last release while sounding exactly how you would expect it to sound. It’s dark, melancholy, downbeat and depressing. But in a good way. Enjoy. That said the whole “Pure joy is just a memory” stalkery thing means he’s still on my Evisceration List.
SUZI CREAM CHEESE
Lifetime (A Story)
Cream Cheese Records
I’m sure I used to know someone called Suzi Cream Cheese. She worked in the Fantasy Bar in Home Street. You know? It used to be Tokyo Joes. 4am license on a Monday night. Used to stay there till chucking oot time then walk to the station for a fried breakfast then up into the Penny Black for 6am opening. Then in work for 8.45. Good times, good times.
Turns out this Suzi Cream Cheese are an alt-rock German band who were on the go between 1985-1995. Which is a lot less interesting than the other Suzi Cream Cheese who worked in a similar timeframe. Anyway, turns out their midlife crisis saw them getting back together in 2019 just in time for the pandemic. Coincidence? This record is a reimagining of a lost album from 1992 although they are vague about whether they remembered to check down the back of the settee.
As befits a band that predates grunge their alt-rock is fairly firmly rooted in that other abomination called punk so there are plenty of Clash like moments. Luckily for me they also mix it up with some New York Dolls type riffology. Take a listen to ‘Sheila E’ and tell me I’m wrong. Apparently it’s got something to do with celebrity sex cults. As you do. They’ve also got some klang about some of their tunes which may be down to the arrival of two members of Acid Rooster to help out the two originals still in the band – Georg Nägle and Andreas Nierlich.
It’s not all good – the self referencing ‘Crap’ being a fine example of that but as eighties alt-rock goes, it’s alright. Obviously I was busy pursuing a life of hedonistic heavy metal when this was all the rage but if you’ve reached that point in your life when remembering your Pixies collection brings tears to your eyes at the thought of a life wasted, as you stare at the walls of your recently divorced bedsit knowing, really knowing, that you should just bring things to an unnatural end. Then this might be the thing for you.
POLLY O’KEARY & THE RHYTHM METHOD
It’s been a while. “Black Crow Callin” was our last encounter, if I recall correctly. Anyway, turns out that the three piece Rhythm Method all turn 50 this year and have decided to make a “thing” of it.
They’re still doing that soul meets blues thing and as it’s done them no harm over the years, why not. Ms O’Keary has a strong voice and guitarist Dave Miller plays some wonderful melodic lines. And when he’s called upon to knock one out the park he does just that. ‘You Better Think’, which is probably my favourite song, gives him a chance to throw in a wild solo and he does not hold back.
I don’t know who plays the piano on that track as the sleeve notes fail to tell me, but a tip of the hat is due to the piano pounder in question.
A lot of the material is fairly mid-paced so it’s when things speed up and slow down that it catches my attention the most. Which means the swampy ‘People On The Corner’ is another favourite. I’m not saying there are any bad songs here because there aren’t but when the arrangements get a wee bit adventurous , well that’s when your ears perk up.
They take in blues rock, swamp blues, soul and roots across the record and it’s another strong release.
Visions of Arcadia
If I tell you that Jordan Rudess raved about ‘Anonymous Oracle’ from this record then there’s really no point in me writing anymore. I mean, come on, who knows more about prog metal. Dream Theater fella or decrepit Scotch miserabilist drunk?
Well, if you’re still here then I can tell you that this is the debut album from the mythical Australasians following on from a 2016 EP, “New Initiatives”. Which, of course, is English for Nova Incepta. Clever boys. (checks – yes, they’re all boys).
It will come as no surprise to learn that it’s very Dream Theatery. It’s not for nothing that they left their alleged homeland to head off to the Berklee College of Music. But that also shows that they’re damn good at what they do. Now I should flag up that this is largely instrumental prog metal so anyone who likes vocal hooks and melodies should move along now, nothing to see here. There is the odd spoken word section and a few female vocal interludes but it’s really all about the music, man.
You can tell that the assorted members have plenty of history as there is definitely a musical understanding that makes everything fit together really well. Some of the music is still in thrall to their musical heroes but there is more than enough standout individuality to highlight that they could be a band to reckon with, in their genre. Although, even there, the lack of a vocalist will probably limit them. But they can do full on prog metal and they can also slow things down for some really melodic interludes. The best example of this is ‘Polarity’ which shows what they’re capable of in terms of composition and arrangement. It’s an absolute delight.
The closing ‘Anonymous Oracle’ runs it close though. It’s really helped by the vocal interludes and if they do decide that taking over the world of prog metal is their goal then they need to find their Russell Allen. That should be easy enough.
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