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Quick Play: A round-up of December 2006 and January 2007 album releases

We've listed albums in order of star rating. Best first.

IMPALED NAZARENE Pro Patria Finlandia

Blimey, this is Impaled Nazarenes ninth studio album! I remember thm when they were little four inch nails, and here they are, all grown up.

Frankly, when they're at the top of their game they're virtually untouchable, and this is one of their best. If you're looking for mood changes and shimmering melodies then this is not the place for you.

However, if you're in the market for anally abusing farmyard animals to an apocalyptic soundtrack, then this is essential. The brutal coupling (hah!) of "Goat Sodomy" - you didn't think I'd made it up? -and "Neighbourcide" is as splendid a centrepiece as you could wish for. Making Slayer sound like Take That is no mean feat. Good work, fellas. ****½

Review by Stuart A Hamilton

BLOW UP HOLLYWOOD The Diaries Of Private Henry Hill

A luxurious digipak with audio and video telling the tale of Private Henry Hill, a soldier in the US army, who served in Iraq. And through the medium of soft rock, melody and understatement, they've dished up as damning an indictment of wars effect on the individual as you could wish for. ELO with less bombast crossed with orchestral Todd Rundgren, if you will.

Despite the presentation, there are no credits on the album, as though they didn't want to distract from the subject of the story. With an album full of melancholy and reflections on our inevitable mortality, presenting it as a stand alone piece of art seems to be a way of focussing our minds on the subject at hand, without distraction. If you're looking for the easy comparison, think of late period Roger Waters era Floyd and drift on.

Listen through headphones for maximum impact, pick up on the nuances and take it all in. ****

Review by Stuart A Hamilton

ALLFADER At Least We Will Die Together

This is the follow up to their debut mini CD, "From The Darkest Star", which was actually a compilation of demos. So this is their first 'real' album.

And it is rather good. They're fundamentally a death metal band who're happy to chuck in a few black metl textures here and there.

Driven along by the blistering drums of Cato Skivik, who is truly outstanding, the band whip up a fair old storm, especially on album highlight, "This Blackened Heart".

Whether they have what it takes to stand out from the crowd remains to be seen, but this is a good standard bearer. ***½

Review by Stuart A Hamilton

MARTONE When The Aliens Come Lion Music (2007)

Canadian guitar maestro Dave Martone has produced a literally out of this world album! The premise behind the music on this all instrumental affair is too imagine music as it would be played in 400 hundred years time. This being the case he whips out the SFX guitar and boy can he play! It is very space metal in sound although other instruments are added to the guitars/bass/drums including tabla. 'Techno Bee'z' is great fun, being an update of the classical piece 'Flight of the Bumble Bee', whilst 'Starz Scarz' is highly addictive to the ears and has you using the old repeat button.

I am not usually a big fan of guitar instrumental albums but this one is worthy of repeated plays plus it has some very catchy tunes contained on it. ***½

Review by Jason Ritchie

JIM GILMOUR Great Escape ProgRock Records (2005)

Jim Gilmour plays keyboards with Canadian band Saga and this solo album is a real prog fans delight as he gets to really show his keyboard playing skills. 'No Sign' features piano and synths along with Gilmour's very gentle vocals. In fact these are similar to Camel's Andy Latimer and like some Camel tunes Gilmour's voice can get overwhelmed by the music.

'Carden Isle' is simply a very enjoyable piece of piano music whilst the 13 minutes plus of 'Last Portage' is classic epic progressive music that sweeps in piano, synths and even some jazz.

Definitely one for Saga collectors/fans and those who enjoy progressive music in its truest sense in that it takes you on a musical journey free of any genre boundaries. Enjoy! ***½

Review by Jason Ritchie

THE OTHERS/SANDS/SUN DRAGON Listen To The Sky (Cherry Red)

This complete history (64 - 73), takes us through the complete recordings of The Others and through the bands they morphed into. Several tracks unreleased too.

The Others sound good quality early British Invasion. Mix the r'n'b (there I mean Rhythm'n'Blues) of the Rolling Stones with the innocent chirpiness of the Beatles.

The Sands' cover of 'River Deep Mountain High' is pretty 60s Garage.

It's a well annotated compilation that will please many 60s fans. A good package. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin

MUD It's Better Than Working (7 T's/ Cherry Red)

The glam rock band's fourth album (or second, if you discount the first two as party records), was issued in 1977 to much acclaim. Glossy production, cheesy keyboards, neat vocal harmonies, boogie guitar, it was classic Mud. 'Beating Round The Bush' is a good number.

Sleevenotes, lyrics, loads of artwork make for a good package, and a plethora of extra tracks, some of which are new to CD.

Of you're a glam fan, you'll love this. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin

MUD Off The Rak: The Singles 1975 - 1979 (7 T's / Cherry Red)

Taking in the band's post RAK (ie post party music) era, when they were signed to Private Stock and RCA.

Kicking off with 'L'L'Lucy' is a good way to open any CD. There's ballads, rockers, glam and schmutz, we get all the period A and B sides. Many new to CD.

Again a well presented package, essential for fans and a good intro to this part of the band's career. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin

DARTZ This Is My Ship (Xtra Mile Recordings)

New album from this uptempo quirky guitar pop band. Youthful and full of energy, opener 'Network! Network! Network!' is interesting, while 'Simple Hypothetical' is little more eclectic, off the wall.

The new single 'Once Twice Again' is a good track, a little more substance. An element of rock'n'roll to the pseudo punk / guitar pop. A catchy number too.

The album does bounce round a lot, within each track, there's nothing too different or catching here.

For the younger generation, a hit. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin

ALKALINE TRIO Remains (CD + DVD, Vagrant)

This 2 disc set in a well packaged digipak kicks off with a CD of b-sides and other non album rarities, and a couple of live tracks too.

Opener 'Hell Yes'(a single) is a good track, strong, heavy as guitar/pop/rock goes.

If you squint your ears there's an element of early Maiden guitar in 'Dead End Road', sadly let down by the ‘same as every other guitar pop band' mid-range up-tempo vocals.

The second disc is a collection of band videos, backstage shots etc.

As usual with such collections, there's some excellent material and other songs that are obvious why they never made the original album. That said, the collection is well annotated (by the band too).

A good collection, but aren't they a bit young to warrant this? ***½

Review by Joe Geesin

MANNING Anser's Tree (ProgRock PRR270)

This progressive folk set is led by singer, songwriter, story teller and multi instrumentalist Guy Manning, and he's joined by a saxophonist, a lead guitarist and a violinist.

The vocals are very akin to Jethro Tull, a sound augmented by a flute on opener 'Margaret Montgomery', the music ranging from early Tull and prog folk up to more modern folk rock.

The approach ranges from whimsical to rocking, and even a nod at morris dancing on one track.

Interesting, but a little too 'out there' for me. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

MOONLIGHT COMEDY Dorothy (Lion Music LMC199)

Italian progressive power metal, melodically extreme.

Musically intricate, very in your face power, almost harsh production. Solid vocals that occasionally strain to match the ferocity, and lengthy instrumental passages.

Nothing operatic here, but some damn good (and long) melodies.

Prog metal for the extreme metal fan. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

PHAZM Antebellum Death 'n Roll

Hmm, can't say I've ever wondered what death metal crossed with rock 'n' roll would sound like. And despite their claims, French band Phazm haven't come close to answering said, unasked question.

If you want the short version, this is basically a death metal Misfits, which may be what you've been looking for. And good luck with the rest of your life. You'll need it.

Over in planet rawk, however, we require more than a sporadic harmonica, second hand Sabbath riffs and a one minute, acoustic instrumental called, um, "Sabbath" to keep us going.

However, there is one moment of fuzzed out, scuzzed up, waltz time genius, and it's name is "Mr Toodling".

The whole caboodle is released as a dualdisc with full length DVD on the B-side. Form an orderly queue. ***

Review by Stuart A Hamilton

SNAKERYDER Back From The Kill Z Records ZR0497117 (2007)

This CD is a good slice of 80's style, sleazy hard rock- not the glam end of things but the guitars and choruses are reminiscent of the late 80's, with vocalist/guitarist AJ Fedz providing a modern sound to things.

Opening track 'Wake Up The Nation', 'Breakout', 'Can't Stop The Insanity' and ballad 'Love Steals' are the highlights here. ***

Review by Nikk Gunns

PREVIEW Preview (Rock Candy)

This 1983 AOR epic gets a CD issue at last, and will please melodic rock fans. Based around the guitar or Danny Gold and keyboards of Ernie Gold, there’s nods at Foreigner, Toto and Survivor.

Some neat lines, plenty of melodies and harmonies, a big sound produced by one Tony Bongiovi (recognise that surname trivia fans?)

Excellent AOR, but nothing exceptional. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

TRIK TURNER Naming The Unidentified (Glifixx Music)

Second album from this young alternative metal band, sounding suitable hard, heavy, and programmed. Touches of grunge in the fast/slow; guitar pop ballad to extreme and back again, vocals range from sung to strained.

In the main the twin guitars work well together, complimentary, but do occasionally clash in a disjointed noisy way.

At their best they sound mature and intelligent, should do well. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

CHARLIE ROBY Ramble & Shuffle (Malandrin Music)

Born in Northern England but now resident in Canada, singer/songwriter Charlie Roby has produced a satisfying collection of tunes that range from the jaunty 'Yorkshire Shuffle' through to the blissful 'Cinnamon Road', with its references to the Beatles.

Nicely played and produced this expands the folk genre this release would normally be put in and with the addition of tabla and other traditional Eastern instruments on 'Dust' and the brass on Monument To Love' you certainly get variety on here.

Enjoyable and one to play to unwind but sadly not an essential purchase. ***

Review by Jason Ritchie

DIVE DIVE The Revenge Of The Mechanical Dog (Land Speed Records)

That guitar pop feeling behind some real rock'n'roll, opening track here 'Let The Blind Lead The Blind' also has an uptempo Iron Maiden feel, abeit a pop/punk feel.

'The Game' continues in a similar vein, with a touch of grunge in the fast/slow sections.

A touch of The Jam in a disjointed way in 'Cuts And Bruises'.

An interesting album, largely enjoyable, of guitar pop / punky rock'n'roll with retro influences, pretty typical of what's out there now, should do well. ***

Review by Joe Geesin


The Butterflies (Jeff Greene: vocals & guitar, Daniel Greene: vocals & guitar, Jason Mills: guitar, Scott Amore: keyboard, Pete Whitney: bass guitar, Neil O'Brien: drums and Mark Mulcahy: additional vocals) originally burst forth in 1998, lauded by the late great John Peel and hoards of NME readers, as well as attracting favourable reviews from some of the more mainstream press such as Mojo, The Guardian and The Times.

Their debut It's Different Now, was sufficiently vibrant for Peely to invite the boys over for a Peel Session, and while their follow up How To Know appeared almost immediately in 1999, it took the band another 3 years to release The New Patient in 2002.

And now with a settled line-up Famous Problems has taken an equally long time to put together, the 13 songs being refined in a succession of residencies at east coast nightclubs.

It's gentle set, but with a distinct taste of sawdust and spit. While still aimed squarely at the indie market, it isn't unpleasant in a non mainstream sort of way. For the most part there are distinct echoes of REM / Michael Stripe in their pre mass appeal period. While at other times, Famous Problems delivers a surprisingly mature sound. Ghostride, for example, is a lovely track with hints of early Neil Young and Pink Floyd.

But in the main, The Butterflies will find favour with those who like their rock unpolished. The band will be in the UK for live dates in March / April 2007. As for But global domination, I think not. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

ANOTHER TRAGEDY The Beauty Of Suffering Zebra 3 Records (2007)

Debut album from this Ohia 4 piece, which kicks off in alternative style with a nod at progressive metal. Influences include Tool and RATM, which show, and there’s touches of Sabbath too. Chunky riffs and off the wall rhythms with a dark edge.

'The Cold Space' opens with a guitar sound you’d expect on Iron Maiden’s new album before the alternative sound follows.

There’s quieter moments too, but all pretty much in your face.

Think Incubus and The Mars Volta, you get the idea. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

FRANK TURNER Sleep Is For The Week (Xtra Mile Recordings)

This new album kicks off with the acoustic 'The Real Damage', sounds good if typical singer/songwriter pop, vocals and a guitar or two.

Drums come in for 'Vital Signs', still that artistic acoustic feel though, with a few bursts of crunchy chords.

The full band acoustic feel continues, guitar pop cum heavy folk. Some nice tunes along the way, but nothing really outstanding. **½

Review by Joe Geesin

PLATE SIX Battle Hymns For A New Republic (One Little Indian)

An interesting guitar intro before we get 'As The Pinson Turns', which has to be one of the most difficult songs I've ever listened to.

Art / Indie metal at the extreme, disjointed, a mess. And the first 7 lines all start 'We'! Add some extra guitar to a U2 song, make the vocals even more monotonic, then put the whole song through a blender. At times you wonder if they're playing the same song.

Much of the album continues in a similar vein. Yes there are odd moments, riffs, rhythms, but like exotic nuclear particles, they appear, spiral off and then vanish into the ether.

This guitar led noise is either arty and clever, or just plain horrible. **

Review by Joe Geesin

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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