About Me

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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!!!

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Alter Bridge - 'Walk The Sky' Album Review


Alter Bridge - Walk The Sky

Few bands formed in the 21st Century would be added to my all-time list of favourite bands. Alter Bridge are one band that sit proudly for me amongst the likes of Rainbow, Thin Lizzy, Rush, and Van Halen. Ive been hooked right from the off, when I heard one of the songs on a rock radio station on holiday in Orlando promoting the debut album, ‘One Day Remains’. I have watched them break the chains of any connection to Creed, and in doing so becoming one of the best live bands I’ve seen in many a year.

For me, their true reckoning came with the release of ‘Blackbird’. Later albums, have more than had their moments, but this (Blackbird) was good, great even. For me, it is still the yard stick to be measured by. ‘Walk The Sky’ is their sixth studio release, but can it surpass ‘Blackbird’….?

Well what we have (for the first time in their 15 year career) is a bit of a game changer for Alter Bridge. Ok, the foundations of an Alter Bridge record are still there, industrial scale riffing from Tremonti, pulsating bone pounding bass and spleen splitting drumming, and the eloquent and uplifting, positive vocals from Kennedy; but when I say game changer, gone are the lengthy numbers, and most here are short and snappy, even with a bit of electronica to boot! (Godspeed, a song that feels and sounds as if it could be courtesy of ‘insert 80s band name here’. Its probably the ‘poppiest’ they have ever produced. It has the DNA of what I call ABs ‘funeral song’. How could it not be with a line like “Farewell, Godspeed, goodbye, you have changed all our lives.” Kennedy certainly knows how to pen an emotional and gut-wrenching lyric.

‘Wouldn’t You Rather’ opens in typical Alter Bridge manner - a bludgeoning Tremonti riff, encircled with Kennedy’s harmonic wail; its like adding a fourth tried and tested instrument, adding ‘Wouldn’t you rather live from the heart?’ A  lyric to fuel many a tattoo parlour over the coming few months I suspect! ‘In The Deep’ is full of melody and almost certain to be a video release. ’Native Son’ starts with an eastern sounding tones, before the hammer blast falls like a blacksmiths anvil. ’Take The Crown’ is of a slightly lighter fare,  but lyrically it’s still thought provoking, as are the lyrics to ‘Indoctrination’.

‘Pay No Mind’ is another with a keyboard /sequencer undertone. AB, using keyboards as a prominent instrument? I’m in! As it adds depth and power to the overall sound. ‘Forever Falling’ lulls you into a false sense of security, like being waterboarded only with guitars! It sees Tremonti take a lead with the vocals. It further shows his development as a vocalist in his own right.

“If I die tonight, would the question still remain? Did I live for what was right, did I live this life in vain?” Is the opening and existential verse to ‘Clear Horizon’. It make me think about Kennedy’s persona. Putting yourself ‘out there’ lyrically is cathartic and cheaper than any shrink could assist with. It also shows why Myles is one of the true masters of his trade. The absolute highlights for me though are on two of the last three songs - ‘Walking On The Sky’, wailing “Do you feel alive, tempting your fate on the line….”, and is as monstrous as the sky is infinite. ’Save the best till last’ is a saying used far too frequently, but is not the case here. ‘Dying Light’ is a ‘Blackbird-esque’ song in its emotion-evoking spirit, rising and falling like the waves, its guitar building to the impending Tremonti solo. The result is a big, huge monolith of a song, with the closing lyric of “In the dying light, we can begin to live again” and sums up AB for me. A new dawn is approaching for Alter Bridge, and the outlook is very promising indeed

It’s their most mature album to date, and is their best album this side of Blackbird. Other opinions are available, obviously.

For me, one thing is certain, few bands can muster or match the consistency that AB have attained these past 15 years. Along with a band like Ghost the futures of Download festival et al, are in very safe hands indeed. Cracking stuff.

8.5/10

Review by Paul Chesworth

Tracklisting
One Life
Wouldn’t You Rather
In The Deep
Godspeed
Native Son
Take The Crown
Indoctrination
The Bitter End
Pay No Mind
Forever Falling
Clear Horizon
Walking On The Sky
Tear Us Apart
Dying Light

Highlights
Wouldn’t You Rather
In The Deep
Godspeed
Walking On The Sky
Dying Light

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Michael Sweet - 'Ten' Album Review

Michael Sweet - Ten

If you’re a fan of Michael Sweet and Stryper, then ‘now’ is the best time there has been to be a fan. I say ‘now’, but I mean the last 10 yrs in particular have been great ones. Stryper albums have come thick and fast, his alliance with fellow 80s rock icon George Lynch, and his solo works. Its been three years since his excellent One Sided War’ was released, and this, the tenth album from Michael is what we have come to expect from him.

The list of luminaries taking part is a large one - Jeff Loomis of Arch Enemy, Todd La Torre of Queensrÿche, Andy James, Tracii Guns of LA Guns, Rich Ward of Fozzy, Joel Hoekstra of Whitesnake, Gus G, Howie Simon, Ethan Brosh, Marzi Montazeri, Will Hunt of Evanescence, John O’Boyle, Mike Kerr and Ian Raposa of Firstbourne, and more!!!

It’s great that Michael is getting some of his illustrious friends on board. Either that, or they charge next to nothing! For me, he doesn’t need the likes of Hoekstra/Loomis etc on board as he is a shit hot guitarist in his own right. That said, all the guests bring their own bit of spit, polish and panache to proceedings, and all add their own personality to each of their songs!  By doing it this way, I can see Sweet's reasoning as it will open up the sales to fans of all the aforementioned guests. He’s a canny lad is Mr Sweet.

So, onto the review. First up we have ‘Better Part Of Me’. I’ll add all the luminaries at the end on the track listing so you know who is doing what. Anyway, Michael opens up with what is probably a contractual obligation to let rip with a scream his 80s self would be bloody proud of. Even more so, the 50s version! It’s 80s music by numbers, and the numbers are good. A cracking riff, great tempo, and goosebump raising harmonies. Its a good thing he isn’t paying the guitar solo by the note!

‘Lay It Down’ is traditional 80s metal, driven by a thumping drum beat and long lost 80s outdo guitar solo. ‘Forget, Forgive’ has a Hendrix-y ‘Foxy Lady’ style riff and a dirtier, bluesier number. ‘Now Or Never’ has a grandiose feel to the song, and slower than anything so far, and has an anthemic style with some very orchestral and biblical hymn like ‘Whoa-ohhs!’. You have to hear it to understand!

Title track ‘Ten’ sees Sweet go back to his idols and sup from the chalice of Tony Iommi. It reminds me of H&H era Sabbath, particularly ‘Lonely Is The Word’. ‘Shine’ is complete with a chugging, charging riff, and is one of my fave tracks of the album so far as it has some cracking harmonies. I know there’s a lot of messaging in the lyrics, but I chose to go for melody over meaning, especially as I am a non-believer! Okay, I know!

‘Let It Be Love’ is the first song not to feature anyone ‘matey’. With it having ‘love’ in the title, it’s the second contractual obligation of a MS ballad. Its fine as it goes, but its predecessors have been blistering up until now, and I feel it would be much better as a closer. It’s still a fine song, especially the bridge and chorus. It will mean a lot to a number of his followers. And HIS followers!

‘Never Alone’ sees the first of back to back Hoekstra. It has a more menacing riff, and puts the album back on track. ‘When Love Is Hated’ is the better of the two, a great chorus, and solo command. It is simply structured and very effective. ‘Ricochet’ rounds of the album well. A punchy chorus that is instantly repeatable, that just bounces along.  All album formats have two bonus tracks, one you have probably heard already, ‘Son Of Man’ feat. The Rÿches Todd La Torre. A man so Geoff Tate like even Geoffs wife can’t tell the difference (sound, not looks!). It jumps out of the blocks like a stabbed rat. A duet/sing-off that brings together two of metals finest for a thoroughly enjoyable romp and a hell of a note at the end. I can see what they left ‘SOM” until the end!!! Fab.

The other is ‘With You Till The End’ and features Firstbourne’s Ian Raposa on vocals, who can stand toe to toe with Michael, and is a powerful performance. I for one will be checking out Firstbourne after this.

I like what Sweet has been up to the past few years. He still sounds fucking fantastic, he still poops out riffs and lyrics like there’s no tomorrow, and is as heavy as he has ever been. That in itself is a great place to find him. I just wish someone would put up the money to get him and or Stryper over to the UK , as a visit is long overdue.

7.77 out of 10! Round it up to 8

Review by Paul Chesworth

Tracklisting

Better Part of Me (Feat. Jeff Loomis of Arch Enemy)
Lay It Down (Feat. Marzi Montazeri)
Forget, Forgive (Feat. Howie Simon)
Now Or Never (Feat. Gus G)
Ten (Feat. Rich Ward of Fozzy)
Shine (Feat. Ethan Brosh)
Let It Be Love
Never Alone (Feat. Joel Hoekstra of Whitesnake)
When Love Is Hated (Feat Joel Hoekstra)
Ricochet (Feat. Tracii Guns of LA Guns)

Bonus Tracks
With You Till The End (Feat. Mike Kerr and Ian Raposa of Firstbourne)
Son Of Man (Feat. Todd La Torre of Queensrÿche and Andy James)