Reviews roundup ~ Dion ~ Inner Axis ~ Psychotic Apes ~ Emerald Rage ~ Mick Kolassa

Reviews roundup ~ Dion ~ Inner Axis ~ Psychotic Apes ~ Emerald Rage ~ Mick Kolassa

DION
Stomping Ground

KTBA Records

Dion has been on a rich vein of form over the last few years, which is particularly impressive since his three score and ten are well in his past. But here he is with another excellent set of blues tunes in some illustrious company.

And when I say illustrious I mean ILLUSTRIOUS with Joe Bonamassa (natch), Boz Scaggs, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, Billy Gibbons, Keb’ Mo, Sonny Landreth, Rickie Lee Jones and many, many more. Oftentimes, a record full of heavy hitters can overshadow the main man but, in the main, the contributions are well suited to the tunes on offer. To be honest, I found the front end of the album less satisfying than the closing run but that’s only because the last half dozen songs are so good.

In among those numbers you’ll find two duets that are the absolute highlights on an excellent release. First up you’ve got a whole lot of fun and games with Boz Scaggs where they seem to have a rather unhealthy obsession with unicycles and ice cream vans. The latter I get … Then, the final number, “I’ve Been Watching You”, is just beautiful. I’m not going to deny there were some involuntary tears as he duets with Rickie Lee Jones on a horn drenched heartbreaker. A stunning end to a really enjoyable album.

Dion website

INNER AXIS
Midnight Hunter – Steelbladed Avenger

Fastball

You’ve only got four tracks here, so that’s an unnecessarily long title. Sort it. Oh, it’s a single? Right.

Inner Axis are heavy metal. German heavy metal. So I think you know they’ve got the power metal guitar stance down pat. I’ll let you know after I see the video. They’ve been on the go for a long time but have only managed to punt out two full length albums since 2008. So managing a four track, double A side single (remember them Granda) is quite an achievement.

As befits a band of their vintage there are lots of eighties metal influences, something that is very acceptable in my part of the world. Of the two actual songs here, “Midnight Hunter” has a decent chorus and some awful lyrics. But it will get the crowds joining in at 3 in the afternoon at a festival with a surfeit of ‘woah oah woah oahs’.

“Steelbladed Avenger” is the heavier of the two, with lots of NWOBHMing and a Helloween style vocal hook. It’s fun. I’m not sure who is going to buy this what with two instrumental versions being bolted on to the end but if they happen to pass by my part of the world I’ll be happy to throw some horns.

https://fastball-music.bandcamp.com/music

PSYCHOTIC APES
Psychotic Apes

independent

To Brazil for some rock. Sort of alt modern metallic rock.

They’re a new band whose debut single came out earlier this year. That involved a translation of “O Fortuna”, the medieval poem used by Carl Orff for his “Carmina Burana”. Which makes them sound verra interesting. They’re also a wee bit internet shy with only a Portugese language Facebook page to their name. I’ll give you a listen.

They start off with a spacerocky instrumental called “Cosmic Silence”. But then a metal riff kicks in, followed by some thrashy drums and bass. Well played, fellas. There are a lot of post grunge influences across the record with “The Storm” a prime example. But later on “The Shadow Inside” is a bit Sabbathy on acid. And that’s also a good thing.

“Wheel of Fortune” is the aforementioned “O Fortuna” and it’s actually quite stoner like. They do like to get about these lads. I’m not going to lie and say it’s got the best production ever but the fact that the songs still manage to shine through is a Very Good Thing. If you’re in the mood for something new, give this lot a try.

https://www.facebook.com/PsychoticApesBand

EMERALD RAGE
High King

Stormspell Records

21st century, m8? Never heard of it. Music ended with the first Helloween album and don’t try to tell me otherwise. There’s something to be said for that. No Adele for starters.

Look at that album art! It’s just glorious. No pissing about. We’re heavy fucking metal, m8, deal with it. Actually, I was being unkind when I said the first Helloween album. Chuck in the second one as well.

They punted out their first demo in 2017 and even managed to secure an incredibly rare guest performance from the shy and retiring Tim “Ripper” Owens on a recent single. But this is their debut album and it’s a fun time big metal party. Want songs about pagan religion, wolves and solitary pigeons. Well give “Heart Of A Pagan”, “Dire Wolves” and “Wings Of Solitude” a spin.

Jake Wherley, Patrick Kern, David Hardesty and Erik Curry have done a bang up job and it’s hard to believe it was recorded at Patrick Kerns hoose in Akron, Ohio. Job done.

https://emeraldrage.bandcamp.com/music

MICK KOLASSA
Uncle Mick’s Christmas Album

Endless Blues

Really, Mick? This is what you’re doing to me? And you kick off with”All I Want For Christmas Is You”. You bastard.

It’s been recorded with the usual Endless Blues reprobates so you’re guaranteed some exemplary performances with Jeff Jensen in fine form. There’s three originals in there amongst the usual suspects including a fabulous, New Orleans flavoured “Frosty The Snowman”. And I guarantee you’ll never be able to listen to any other version of “Jingle Bells”. Promise.

Of the originals, “Christmas Morning Blues is the winner. A barnstorming wee tune that hides a tale of true heartbreak. Almost puts my life in to light relief. Obviously, I will be taking no part in Christmas this year but if you are looking for something that goes along with your Christmas Speyside malt, after the weans have collapsed in a sugar coma, then this could be a winner.

Endless Blues website

St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton
http://linda.hamilton.muchloved.com/

The Rocker monthly reviews sampler now available on Spotify

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