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Born in the late 60's, Chesy hails from a Welsh mining village with a long name and was pretty glad when he got the Hell out of there. He got into Rock/Metal in about 1980, thanks to a TISWAS related incident (Rainbow video for All Night Long) and thankfully has never looked back. Chesy often sang solo in the school choir, but thanks to a puberty related incident his voice is now completely bolloxed, although in his own head Paul thinks he sounds like a blend of Coverdale and Dio (R.I.P). He was brought up on the classics - Deep Purple, Rainbow, Thin Lizzy, Rush, Whitesnake and loved melodic rock and the Hair Bands of the 80's. (Nowadays, he has progressed a little and prefers a more technical and/or progressive metal - Dream Theater, Rush, Symphony X, Porcupine Tree, Pain Of Salvation, Spock's Beard. He hates Black and Death Metal (can't stand the grunting) but for some unknown reason loves the magnificent Opeth! He wont stop this blog until his beloved FM finally play the likes of the NEC as a headlining act!!!

Thursday 14 June 2018

Dare - 'Out Of The Silence II' - Album review

Dare – Out Of The Silence II

I know many of my reader has written in and asked, ‘does the world need another Dare album?’. Well, dear reader, please read on…..

Dare are probably best known for their singer/songwriter Darren Wharton (who first rose to fame in the early eighties playing keyboards with legendary Irish rock band Thin Lizzy). Today Dare are one of the most respected and innovative melodic rock bands on the AOR scene, and have gained cult status among AOR fans throughout Europe, the UK and the world. The band’s debut 1988 A&M album ‘Out Of The Silence’ recorded at Joni Mitchell’s Bel Air Studio in Los Angeles, and produced by Nickelback  producer Mike Shipley is still widely regarded today as one of the all time great AOR albums.

Darren joined Philip Lynott’s  Thin Lizzy  at the tender age of eighteen and enjoyed 5 great years with the band touring extensively, alongside  renowned guitarist Scott Gorham, drummer Brian Downey, guitarists Snowy White (Pink Floyd),  Gary Moore and John Sykes (Whitesnake).  Working closely with Philip Lynott, Darren also recorded classic Thin Lizzy albums, such as ‘Chinatown’, ‘Renegade’, and ‘Thunder and Lightning’ on which Wharton co-wrote 3 songs, including the hit single ‘The Sun Goes Down’.  Sadly, the latter was to be Thin Lizzy’s last studio album, and in 1986 Darren Wharton returned to his home town of Manchester where, as an outlet for his creative flare for song writing, working with young Oldham guitarist Vinny Burns, formed his own band, Dare.
Following the   debut ‘Out Of The Silence’, Dare’s second offering  was the explosive ‘Blood From Stone’ produced by Keith Olsen (Whitesnake, Scorpions).Sadly this was the last album recorded for A&M Records after the company was sold to Polygram in 1993.

Now 2018 promises to be another great chapter in the book of Dare, as the band celebrate their 30yr Anniversary with a Special Edition re-release of their debut classic album ‘Out Of The Silence’. Out Of The Silence II has been completely re-recorded and in Wharton’s own words “has taken on a new life”. 

FM did it a short while back with ‘Indiscreet’, and in this instance DWs made a good decision. I love the original album, but the production of this sounds so much better in parts and Vinny’s guitar frippery is right up front and centre. What’s not to bloody like??

So, whilst it isn’t anywhere near as heavy as ‘Blood…’, ‘Abandon’ has a decent production, and Vinny Burns’ guitars are front, back, left right and centre. Wharton’s voice has not changed since the 80s so that’s another good sign as it could have gone South. The original songs are a fresh as they were in the 80s, and that is all down to some great songwriting (and playing). ‘Into the Fire’ has better vocals than the original as they came across a little weak, but now the ‘boost’ button has been pressed and its all very good. ‘Nothing Is Stronger Than Love’ but I personally prefer the original chorus to this new version.

I can see the benefit of re-recording songs if they felt the originals were weak due to what was available at that time, and some songs here do benefit from the modern approach – ‘Into the Fire’, ‘Under The Sun’, ‘Runaway’, and ‘Return the Heart’, but the real classics from their debut – ‘Abandon’, ‘The Raindance’, ‘King Of Spades’ (even more Celtic-ier than before), ‘Don’t Let Go’ and ‘Heartbreaker’ don’t really feel as it theres any benefit as they are ingrained in my psyche.

And that’s part of the issue. The original album is so embedded in my mind that I go to sing the original versions. OK, it was not a perfect album, and production levels are better now and cheaper than the 80s, but it was an iconic album from that period. However, on that note I would say it’s definitely a worthy addition to a current Dare fans collection. I myself prefer to sit with the original. It's a great way yo celebrate the original album and give their fans something a little different to the original. Great songs are always great, they dont always require tweaking.

Does the World need a remake of a Dare album? Not really. But it’s better than a lot of the (more) Celtic influenced music that has been Dare the past few years. I got the Celtic/Lizzy influence in the earlier years, but it was time to separate from Lizzy and forge out a path of their own. I worked in Scotland for 6 months in 1989, but I don’t speak with a Scottish accent.

My only worry is that in 2021 we will see the 30th anniversary of the fantastic ‘Blood From Stone’, an album that Darren thought was 'too metal'. Just don’t go and revisit this and replace the great guitar work with frilly shirts and an additional parpy keyboard to ponce it back to the soft and fluffy AOR levels ofthe 80s. Darren, leave it!

Score 8.5/10
Original 9/10

Into The Fire
Nothing Is stronger Than Love
Under The Sun
The Raindance
King Of Spades
Return The Heart
Don’t let Go

Dare are
Darren Wharton
Vinny Burns
Kev Whitehead
Nigel Clutterbuck
Marc Roberts (live keys)

Orange Goblin - 'The Wolf Bites Back' Album Review

Orange Goblin – The Wolf Bites Back

Orange Goblin have been holed up at Orgone Studios with producer Jaime Gomez Arellano (Ghost, Grave Pleasures, Paradise Lost, Cathedral) to create their latest opus, titled The Wolf Bites Back. The resulting nine track album will be the band's ninth studio release and will be released via Candlelight/ Spinefarm Records worldwide on 15th June. Jesus, nine albums, and this is my first experience of the Orange Goblin. Despite going to shit loads of gigs every year, our paths have never crossed, and I’ve never gone looking for them….unfortunately. This is their debut for renowned label Spinefarm, and I guess they have been building up to this level and their moment that is fully deserved.

Vocalist, Ben Ward, commented:
"We are very excited about this new album. The Wolf Bites Back is our strongest and most diverse collection of songs to date, it’s certainly a lot darker both musically and lyrically. It is still definitely a distinct ORANGE GOBLIN album but we have incorporated a lot more variation on this record and there are hints of Can, Captain Beyond, Wishbone Ash and The Stooges nestling amongst the obvious Sabbath and Motorhead influences. Lyrically I have explored everything from alien serial killers to zombie biker gangs, Buddhist warriors through to descendants of the Salem witches!

"There was definitely a concerted effort to make sure all the songs could work in a live environment which gives the album a more raw, stripped back feel - something that I feel has been lacking from good rock and metal in recent years. Working with Jaime Gomez Arellano was really productive and a great experience, especially going back to tracking stuff to tape. I feel that he got the best out of all of us as musicians and songwriters and that really comes across in the songs, there is an air of confidence and experience. It was also a real honour for us to have Phil Campbell of Motorhead lending his hand to a couple of solos on there too!"

What can I say. If you’re a newcomer, then this is some seriously heavy shit! If you’re nine albums in, I’m guessing its tried and tested and you’re in it for the long haul. What immediately gets to me is the seriously heavy riffage, powerful, doom laden, with a bit of Sabbath thrown in for ‘Sons Of Salem’. More like Sons of Sabbath if you like. Ben Wards vocals are more on the growling side and the opener is the Ronseal style, its written on their sleeve and does what it says on the tin. ‘The Wolf Bites back’ takes me a bit by surprise as I wasn’t expecting a lilting beginning, but then….pow, in comes the guitars and we’re off again! It’s a fucking great track if I am honest – a cracking groove driven track. Coming from a diet of Classic Rock and AOR, Ward isn’t the best singer I’ve heard, but its all about attitude and style, and his vocals fit the music perfectly. ‘Renegade’ (not a Styx cover) again, grabs you to the throat and wrestles you to the ground. If you have a Motorhead sized hole in your life, then look no further than Renegade as it has Lemmy and Campbell running through it like a stick of rock. ‘Swords Of Fire’ kicks of with an extended bass riff, a bit too long at over half the song, before its back to some early Sabbath drum pounding, before letting go. It’s the weakest song for me so far, but that’s not necessarily a bad point. The others have been so good.

‘Ghosts Of The Primitives’ has a bit more class up its sleeve and is a but bluesy than anything so far. Its proper head-banging stuff, is this, before falling, rising, and again falling and segueing to the instrumental ‘In Bocca Al Lupo’ and serves as a welcome break and allows the ears to reset. Of course the rest isn’t and cannot be sustained, as ‘Suicide Division’ (a ballad, of course it isn’t a ballad!) out Motorhead’s Motorhead, for a couple of minutes of pure neck snapping metal, brutal. ‘The Stranger’ looks as if its about a killer. The lyrics are given extra menace as they are pretty much spoken and shouted by Ward, even as the track builds. ‘Burn The Ships’ sees the guys going back to the beginning of the album in style and substance. If Ward has never been in a Motorhead tribute band before then why not!? A voice as close to Lemmy’s as I’ve ever heard. Finally its onto ‘Zeitgeist’ and it’s a point that just sums up the whole of this album and the band themselves, its pulsating riffs, headbanging and horns, with some great guitar work  (dare I say Lizzy-esque) and driving rhythm. A great song to finish ‘The Wolf Bites Back’.

Orange Goblin certainly have the claws, bite, and wolf roar to make them stand out in the crowd. After 20 years, its their time in the sun, but I should say moon!

Whilst I’ve never been a fan, (up until now – how can you if you haven’t heard them) I cant wait to see this band live as I expect they would be explosive. I don’t know about any of the previous eight albums, but number nine is a perfect place to start.

The most times I’ve written Motorhead without reviewing a Motorhead album.

Score 8/10

Sons Of Salem
The Wolf Bites back
Swords Of Fire
Ghosts Of The Primitives
In Bocca Al Lupo
Suicide Division
The Stranger
Burn the Ships

Monday 4 June 2018

Monster Truck Announce New Album 'True Rockers' + New Track 'Evolution'

Monster Truck return with their brand new album ‘True Rockers’, which will be released on Mascot Records/Mascot Label Group on 14th September 2018.

Return with new album ‘True Rockers’
Released: 14th September 2018
Mascot Records / Mascot Label Group

Check out the brand new track Evolution:

  It’s been two years since the mighty ‘Sittin’ Heavy’ came out and in the 18 months that followed its release, they played over 150 shows, which included arena tours with Nickelback, Billy Talent and for the final ever European Deep Purple tour - They also played with Black Stone Cherry, Volbeat, The Temperance Movement, Jane’s Addiction, Rob Zombie and Alter Bridge.

They  embarked on their biggest European headline tour to date selling out venues across the continent and thundered through main stage festival slots at RockPalast (Germany), Ramblin’ Man Fair (UK), Download (UK), Rock on the Range (US), Shiprocked (US) and Rock in Vienna (Austria) amongst others.

During the time on the road the band took a recording rig on tour and songs came together for what was to become ‘True Rockers’ and they began to send material back and forth to producer Dan Weller (SiKth, Young Guns, Enter Shikari). “When the inspiration strikes, use it, if you’re not gonna use it, you’re wasting it” says frontman/bassist Jon ‘Marv’ Harvey, “as soon as you think of something could be a good song, work on it, immediately. Inspiration is so valuable.” They then returned to Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, North Carolina in July 2017 to record the album.

True Rockers’ is the sound of a band letting lose and having fun. Harvey affirms, “We want people to listen to it and have fun, have as much fun as possible.” “Yeah, that’s what I was gonna say too,” adds guitarist Jeremy Widerman. “I mean right off the beginning of the album you hear me scream at Marv. That just kicks off the entire vibe of the album. Us in a room, having fun, joking and yelling at each other.”

Album opener ‘True Rocker’ is a statement of intent and features Mr ‘I Wanna Rock’ himself, Dee Snider (Twisted Sister). “He’s a true rocker, who’s more perfect than Dee Snider” says Harvey.   ‘Thundertruck’ is another juggernaut and was originally from the ‘Sittin’ Heavy’ sessions but was abandoned. Widerman says. “We had worked on that with me playing that lead part, and it left a big gaping hole in the heaviness of the song. Once we shifted that line over to the organ, we were like, this is awesome.”

‘Devil Don’t Care’ oozes blues-rock swagger and tackles the notion of people staunchly rooted in religion and  they explore real depth in the emotional ‘Undone’ which was written about people that struggle with addiction and the feeling of hopelessness, while album closer ‘The Howling’ poses the question, are spirits real?

The album had been put to bed but the band were still bouncing around ideas and they had the opportunity to work with award winning producers Gavin Brown and Maia Davies on songs ‘Evolution’, Young City Hearts’ and ‘Hurricane’. “We had a chance to work with some hit makers so we took the chance, and what came out is different than anything we have done. Gavin and Maia were fantastic to work with. It added a lot of colour to the record and allowed us the opportunity to take a risk and branch out a little,” explains Harvey.

Elaborating further Widerman adds, “It almost wouldn’t be a Monster Truck record if we didn’t reach the supposed end of the process and then double-back to track a few extra songs in order to strengthen what was already a strong record to us.

Harvey has become a father since the last record was released and this life changing moment had a real effect on the songwriting. Whereas ‘Sittin’ Heavy’ was a more “serious” record, ‘True Rockers’ is the sound of a band letting lose and having fun. Harvey affirms, “We want people to listen to it and have fun, have as much fun as possible.”

In 2019 they will celebrate their 10th Anniversary and for a band that wasn’t going to take things seriously, they have already achieved an incredible amount in that time. “I think you have to know where you came from, otherwise how do you know where you’re going.” Harvey says. “You can’t forget your roots, we started from such a pure place of just a party. I literally couldn’t ask for anything better. How am I so lucky that I get to do this, perseverance pays off.”

This is the essence that is pumping through ‘True Rockers’, a band that formed only for fun back in 2009 have toured the world because they connect with their fans who want that from them. Upon the release of ‘True Rockers’ they will be three albums in and are steamrolling through the world picking up people along the way that want that wild ride and its feels like they are only just getting started.

Widerman adds, “Looking back to the beginning I think in a way, I knew it, I really did. Within the first couple of rehearsals we ever did. I always think back to how I knew this was something different to anything else I’d ever done. It was weird because I had to manage how excited I was, we all agreed that this wasn’t gonna be a band that signs a record deal and goes on tour. I was like, holy shit, this is better than anything I’ve ever done before. How am I going to convince these guys to go with it?”
“I know who I am, A true rocker, I am a true rocker, I feel the music from inside baby, from within, I'm good to go on just about anything, No time for brakes we move full speed ahead, I know who I am, a true rocker”  True Rocker

Don’t tell Monster Truck that Rock is dead. Rock isn’t dead, it’s alive and burning a trail across the globe. Don’t fuck with the Truck.