FROM THE VAULT

DECEMBER 2016

CHILD
Blueside
Kozmik Artifactz

Our favorite Aussie heavy-blues power trio are back with their second long player Blueside. A slight lineup change brings new bassist Danny Smith to the fold. His presence is immediately noticeable with fierce and bulging riffs, giving the bottom end an extra thump. Guitarist Mathias Northway still leads the pack with his aggressive rhythm, extended solos and raw delivery while drummer Michael Lowe lays down the thunder. Much like their debut, the band keep Blueside stripped down and loaded with wooly fuzz. The songs clocks in at around seven minutes allowing the band to stretch out, fully exploring their progressive dirty blues. Opening track ‘Nailed to the Ceiling’ has a stoned-out laidback groove like early Fleetwood Mac. The guitar rests on the plodding rhythm adding just enough accent to keep it mesmerizing while Northway’s vocals lull into a suds buzz. The guitar gets a boost during the last couple minutes with a searing lead over a chugging riff as the electric organ keeps the song firmly rooted in the Seventies.

Traditional Delta slinger ‘It’s Cruel to Be Kind’ follows with a baiting vocal overcome by a tidal wave of amplified feedback and old school doom. The track is a brilliant extended jam that is moving and chilling all at the same time. Autobiographical ‘Blue Side of the Collar’ is the record’s first single (and video) telling the story of workingman woes put to a slow-marching soundtrack. The guitar adds color and meaning to the lyrics while the bass and drums unfold the story. Opening the second side of the vinyl is ‘Dirty Woman’ a Hendrix-inspired groove monster mixed low and slow with a Sabbath hook. A keyboard fill bolsters the chorus and mid-section while Northway’s smooth, gospel-like vocal resurrects the spirit of Robert Johnson. Taking up the rest of the album is the 11-minute epic ‘The Man’ with a scaling dance through front-porch picking, wandering runs and straight-up blues arrangements. The track is full of space: airy and bright with minimal interruption making way for vocals and guitar to collide into a wall of sonic doom.

Website: Kozmik Artifactz


NOVEMBER 2016

ROBERT PEHRSSONS HUMBUCKER
Long Way To The Light
High Roller Records

Robert Pehrsson is a Swedish guitarist who has worked for such diverse bands as Runemagick, Thunder Express, Death Breath, Dundertåget, Imperial State Electric, Slingblade and Dagger – all from the fertile Swedish rock scene. Long Way To The Light is Pehrsson’s second LP under the monarch Humbucker and goes a long way in proving this guy can do it all from witting hook-edged songs to fireball melodies and dangerous heavy rock. Famed musician and producer Nicke Andersson (Hellacopters, Imperial State Electric) lends a hand as does bassist Johan Bäckman and a couple of the guys from Enforcer other than that, Pehrsson runs the show as singer, songwriter, guitarist, bassist, pianist, etc… The record has a strong Thin Lizzy meets Hellacopters vibe with a bit of catchy Cheap Trick tossed in for good measure. Forty years ago this record would have been a smash as it explores the full scope of classic Seventies rock. “Send Her My Love”, “Distant Bound” and “Traveling Through The Dark” benefits from Andersson’s polish with laser-like solos, chest-beating rhythms and Pehrsson’s incredible tenor.

Amped-up ballad “Break Away From This Broken Heart” fuels Pehrsson’s passion as he allows the vocals to carry the emotion of the song. Layers of acoustic guitar build a solid foundation alongside the bass and percussion. Reflections of Peter Frampton are sewn into the fabric, not so much in style but in feel and structure. “Pretender” is the record’s balls-out rocker and (along with the cover photo) reminds us of Rory Gallagher’s “Shin Kicker” off Photo Finish (1978) with a shadow of Nugent’s “Stranglehold” in the riff. “Zero Emotion” follows in quick order with a Patti Smith “Because The Night” rolling that capitalized on a killer hard rock hustle. The unabashed use of keyboards in “The Hollow In A Rising Tone” and “The Somber Sleeps” bring a hint of ‘80s into the layered harmonies and guitar prominence of each track while “No I Don’t” flexes its muscle on a traditional break up song. Long Way To The Light is a genuine return to straight up rock and roll with all the bells and whistles to make it a classic!

Website: Robert Pehrsson’s Humbucker, High Roller Records


OCTOBER 2016

ADMIRAL SIR CLOUDESLEY SHOVELLL
Keep It Greasy
Rise Above Records

For their third long player, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell brings you right into their time-warped world with both fists in the air. The disc is like listening to your first real heavy rock album. It takes me back to when I first heard Mountain, James Gang and Grand Funk – a full-on power trio groove rocker. Guitarist/vocalist Johnny Gorilla, Bassist Bill Darlington and drummer Louis Comfort-Wiggett celebrate those that went before them with each note. You can hear Dust, Sir Lord Baltimore, Buffalo, Rose Tattoo, AC/DC, MC5, Budgie, Status Quo all through a haze of weed ‘n’ booze. “You Got Wot I Need” is a slang-infested monster that kicks the disc off with a staccato riff, punching rhythm and gritty vocals. The boyz use tempo changes like spicy curry dubbing in sound effects for jollies and mix them together with humor and swagger. It’s the texture malfunction that oddly works for these guys painting a whole new musical landscape of awesome delights. Take on “Potato Boy” – five minutes of thunder and sweat about dirty books and late-night TV.

The band is more conservative this time around focusing on clean, approachable melodies within their tempered fuzz delivery. The throbbing bass of “Hairy Brain Part 2” picks up where “Bulletproof,” off their last album, left off with bulging guitar, avant-garde phrasing and a crashing chorus. Following on it’s heels is “Hawkline Monkster” easily the greasiest tune in the lot where the guitar throws out big chunks of MC5 and Stooges licks for a punk rock shiner. Cowbell enthusiasts will gobble up “Paid In Full” as it’s just the ticket with a simple but poignant open structure and a barbarian rhythmic beat. The cinematic “Tired’N’Wired” rumbles through a Motörhead wasteland finding its salvation in buckets of feedback laced with speed. A sound bite filters through the speakers before the muscle rock of “I’m Movin” takes the lead as the record’s heaviest number. Its primal, headbanging fury is what grinding metal is all about enjoying the full impact of blistering solos and inflated bass and drum – all cranked to eleven. The six-minute “Wrong” is a heavy psyche thriller busting at the seams with all the band can throw in while spading out advise that everything “they” tell you is all “wrong”. Another UK classic!

 Website: Rise Above Records


SEPTEMBER 2016

BRANT BJORK
Tao of the Devil
Napalm Records

King of gargantuan desert riffs, Brant Bjork, returns with his tenth solo record Tao of the Devil. The seven-track disc is laden with heavy grooves and sludgy feedback, a formula that has worked well for the ex-Kyuss drummer. The album benefits from a warm mix of texture and color that’s more laid-back and earthy than the aggressive stylings of some of his earlier work. Low desert jams like opener ‘The Gree Heen’ are a conscious effort to move towards a bluesy slow-baked stoner vibe while still keeping a healthy dose of 70s influence. The vocals on the track follow the riff in the intro before kicking into a five-minute, band-infused, plodding dirge. Bjork’s tuned down guitar has a signature hypnotic quality that, combined with his vocals, makes for the perfect desert experience. ‘Stackt’ leads the batch of new songs with a video single. It rumbles along with a passionate grinding guitar while drummer Ryan Gut’s hi-hat beat merges like liquid fusion into Dave Dinsmore’s thunderous bass.

The funky groove of ‘Luvin’ and ‘Humble Pie’ are straight out the seventies songbook of southern California retro rock where one can hear elements of The Allman Brothers, Doobies and Santana in their vibe. Guitarist (and producer) Bubba Dupree is the unsung hero of this masterpiece. Over thirty-five years of rockin’ hardcore punk in The Faith and Void to the electronic world of Moby to heavy tones of Soundgarden make him the right guitarist to add accents, solos and rhythm textures to Bjork’s massive amplification. ‘Biker No.2’ borrows from Hendrix as it snakes along with minimal vocals letting the full efforts of the band develop in a simple open structure while the nine-minute, guitar opus ‘Dave’s War’ gallops along to a fuzzy backbeat. Title cut ‘Tao of the Devil’ uses its tribal beat to capture Bjorks biographical tale that’s dark and brooding with the occasional progressive run. Bonus track ‘Evening Jam’ logs in at just under 14 minutes taking numerous twist and turns – an amalgamation of Bjork’s 20-year sonic landscape.

Website: Brant Bjork, Napalm Records


AUGUST 2016

HYPNOS
Cold Winds
Crusher Records

Smashing the sophomore jinx, Sweden’s Hypnos come roaring back with the highly polished and incredible balanced Cold Winds. Following their debut by two years has given the band ample time to jell and plot a firm direction. The first hint of their non-stop work ethic was the winter single ‘I’m On the Run” with its B-side ‘Phoenix Rising’. The minute the needle hit the vinyl, a full assault of drums and guitars came flying from the speakers. The brisk paced riffing and catchy chorus had us singing, “I’m on the run from the devil’s tongue, livin’ in meeeeee!” all weekend. Taking their cue from The New Wave of British Heavy Metal, the Gothenburg five-piece have forged an approach that finds hooks and melody to accompany speed and force. They bring the bluesy-ness of Graveyard, the guitar solos of Thin Lizzy, and hooks reminiscent of Judas Priest (think ‘Breaking the Law’ and ‘Turbo Lover’). They remember that it wasn’t too long ago that a band could have the catchiness of pop without losing any of its rock ‘n’ roll cred.

Cold Winds limits itself to eight tracks – perfect for vinyl format, which gives each song a wider groove to celebrate texture and tonality. The record opens with Priest-like ‘Start the Hunt” a driving mixture and twin-guitar harmonies and thumping rhythms with vocalist Philip Lindgren showcasing his soulful tenor. Flanked by guitarists Oskar Karlsson and Fredrik Bäckström, the song almost goes full metal until it reaches the halfway point. A dynamic pause filled with only Lasse Ekelöf’s high-hat tapping ushers in a Jethro Tull-like flute passage. The shift is beautifully structured with the flute joined by axemen for some nice melodies before the dual six-strings take over in the reverberating last section where both guitarists go off soloing. “The Captive” rises as a clear favorite with its slower, heavier drive where Lindgren’s vocals reach their full range from balladry to primal screams. The song’s Thin Lizzy-nature keeps it rightfully embedded in ‘70s nostalgia where the past is reverenced by a modern approach and tasteful crafting.

In a world that celebrates diversity, it’s not uncommon for a band to sing in their native tongue. The ballad ‘Det kommer I Dag’ (There comes a Day) is sung in Swedish and embraces a retro Zeppelin vibe. It’s one of the longest tracks on the record allowing a full breadth of emotions to sweep across its melodic soundscape. The energy shifts gear on the album’s B-side. ‘Descending Sun (Unrootables White)’ takes full advantage of Anton Frick Kallmin’s galloping bass while scaled guitar harmonies bring sonic bash. The shift in tempo keeps the assault passages more dynamic. ‘Cold September’ and ‘Transylvania Nightmare’ have a Di’Anno-era Iron Maiden feel about them. Lyrically entrenched in what lies beyond the shadows adds a sinister edge to the pounding drums and piercing guitars. The closer ‘1800’ has the broadest musical range of the record. A distorted, fuzzed-out intro moves into a psychedelic verse before being overtaken by metallic riffs while leaving room for lots of guitar-flute interludes. A masterpiece for a young band reaching their creative best.

Website: Crusher Records


JULY 2016

SPIRITUAL BEGGARS
Sunrise to Sundown
Inside Out Music

Sweden retro rockers, Spiritual Beggars have had quite a roller-coaster ride since forming in 1994. Led by guitarist Michael Amott after leaving death-metal band Carcass, the concept of the band was to explore a more ‘classic’ ‘70s direction - holding up Deep Purple and Rainbow as a main influence. In the past twenty years they have survived three changes in singers, all dynamic and charismatic in their own right, but with Greek vocalist Apollo Papathanasio (Firewind) they have settled on a winning combination. Sunshine to Sunrise is their ninth long player with some calling it a comeback, or at least a return to the classic ‘70s sound they first became known for. From the opening riff to the album’s title track ‘Sunrise to Sundown’, the band prove to be confident, well-prepared and engaging. A solid production captures their song-craft with intensity and sonic energy allowing Amott ample room for creative guitar prowess while Papathanasio embraces elements of Dio, Coverdale and Hughes.

Filling out the line up, Papathanasio and Amott are joined by bassist Sharlee D’Angelo (Arch Enemy), drummer Ludwig Witt and keyboardist Per Wiberg (Opeth, Kamchatka). Amott splits his time between Arch Enemy (which he formed with his brother Chris) and Spiritual Beggars. In times past, it seems his work with Spiritual Beggars may have been a bit rushed due to tight scheduling, however Sunshine to Sunrise has all the markings of a true classic. A leap forward from their last outing new songs ‘Hard Road’, ‘Diamond under Pressure’, ‘Dark Light Child’ and ‘Lonely Freedom’ are impressive slabs heavy rock. Each song has a big, arena-style, blues guitar footprint which dances on the edge with thundering metal riffs. Even the swelling keyboard runs hearken back to when Jon Lord and Tony Carey ruled the airwaves. Mixing it all mixed together with stoner grooves, fluid ripping leads and topnotch rock-star vocals gives the listener an indication the boys are more than serious this time around.

Amid the beefier songs some of the best moments are found in the finesse of the deeper cuts. ‘I Turn To Stone’ rides a pounding drum beat that introduces a subtle organ swell leading into the lyrics “I turn to stone, break my bones, and all I’ve got is lost” before a plea for redemption followed by two minutes of prog-psych mayhem. Finding strength in Dio-era Rainbow ‘No Man’s Land’ paints a musical portrait of a loner’s odyssey that chases “rainbows in no man’s land”. The song is accompanied by a diverse musical landscape held together by a repetitive hook and concludes with a hi-hat tremble. A lumbering ‘Southern Star’ about a “real bad mother” takes a driving rhythm and builds a soaring Whitesnake-like chorus. The mourning guitar is complemented by a clean piano break before sliding into a fiery solo Tommy Bolin would be proud of. Other powerhouse monsters include ‘Still Hunter’, ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’ and You’ve Been Fooled’. Get the deluxe CD for bonus covers of Mountain’s ‘Thumbsucker’ and Ten Years After’s ‘Stoned Woman’.

Website: Spiritual Beggars, Inside Out Music


JUNE 2016

BLACK RAINBOWS
Stellar Prophecy
Heavy Psych Sounds

Black Rainbows have been at it for nearly ten years now. First album Twilight In The Desert was released in ’07 introducing the Italian trio to the stoner rock movement. With each of their five long players and numerous splits, EPs and singles, the band have pushed the boundaries of the genre finally landing on their magnum opus Stellar Prophecy. The album is a culmination of the group’s fine-tuned sound merging acid fuzz with space psych and polishing it off with pure ‘70s heavy rock. They wear their influences on their sleeves with big bold sweeps of Blue Cheer, Sabbath and Hawkwind, then rock it up with bits of MC5, Monster Magnet and Fu Manchu. Opening track “Electrify’ is pure rock genius - fuzzed out with massive feedback and controlled by a solid, structured rhythm while using space effects for texture and color.

The current lineup of guitarist/vocalist Gabriele Fiori, bassist Giuseppe Guglielmino and drummer Alberto Croce keep their fuzz addiction going with “Time To Die”. The song hooks a repetitive riff and brash drumbeat while using the bass line as a scourging whip. The occasional change in rhythm keeps the song fresh and vibrant allowing Fiori’s solo guitar to set the whole thing ablaze. But it’s “Keep The Secret” that piles on a ton of fuzz to the point of overload. A throbbing backbeat hammers out a 4/4 time signature while the amps reverberate with distortion. “Stay down, stay high, with your hand you can touch the sky” sings Fiori as the song spirals into Hawkwind territory for two-minutes of cosmic overdrive. Both “Golden Widow” and “The Travel” clock in at well over nine-minutes giving the band ample opportunity to stretch out into more ranging sonic space jams.

Let’s not forget Black Rainbows can still offer up some of the best ‘70s power rock of the decade. Remember “The Prophet” from Hawkdope and “Return to Volturn” from Carmina Diabolo? Stellar Prophecy gives us the slow blues burner “Woman” with a swelling keyboard injection that brings the band about as close to Deep Purple as they’re ever gonna get. Hot on its heels is the devastating “Evil Snake” where a wooly riff, pounding drum and winding bass blend together into a heap of distortion. Short and sweet, the track begs to be played live in an outdoor setting with only a haze of reefer between the stage and the stars. With Stellar Prophecy, the trio may have locked in on the perfect stoner sound - hairy, trippy, layered, psychedelic with a thick, heavy production. And the best part - it’s all held together within the stunning artwork of Solo Macello. Check out our interview with the band by clicking here.   

Website: Black Rainbows, Heavy Psych Sounds Records


MAY 2016

BRUTUS
Wandering Blind
Svart Records

Brutus is one of our favorite Swede/Norwegian bands that play classic ‘70s hard rock with plenty of personality, heavy groove and true grit. Based in Oslo and established in 2007, the five-piece have two full-length platters to their name with a couple EPs and a split with The Graviators. Two years in the making, Wandering Blind marks album number three and establishes the band as faithful worshippers of Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Grand Funk and Bloodrock, with a lust for volume and low-end fuzz. “Drowning” was advanced as the record’s first single, which instantly caught fire and spread rapidly throughout the doom/psych/blues fraternity. The song’s plodding rhythm and dynamic riffing are infectious, while charismatic singer Nils Joakim Stenby wails away with Ozzy-like conviction. “Help me, baby I am so weak…I’m a man in constant fear,” sings Stenby of his faltering reality then snags his victim in the hook chores, “before you know it, you’re drowning too.” The single’s exclusive non-LP B-Side “Ute Av Fokus” is especially worth checking out.

Of the album’s nine tracks, most hover around the five-minute mark. “Whirlwind of Madness” bumps to six with a slow, melodic flow where the guitar is understated and the jazz-drumbeat caresses a seductive patter. The song is a slow builder, giving the bass and rhythm guitar room to breathe. Spotlighted by a gorgeous solo the track is only superseded by its soulful vocal performance and climatic ending. Title track “Wandering Blind” is full-on sonic boom as Knut-Ole Mathisen hammers his drums and Christian “Krille” Hellqvist destroys his bass. The guitars are furious, the vocal edges on madness and it’s the closest the band get to mid-seventies Sabbath. “Axe Man” owes more than a little to blues-legend, Free. An urgent, driving, power-chord showpiece, the song embraces just the right moment where blues meets heavy rock. Guitarist Karl Johan Forsberg and Kim Molander are suitably matched, feeding off each other and trading Kossoff-like licks with reverence and authority.

Both “The Killer” and “Blind Village” exude Iommi’s best moments with chunky monster riffs rattling through, what sounds like, aged Marshall 9005 Power Amps. Thick, beefy and slightly distorted, the guitar tone is what makes the songs go supernova with an organic bass-line that’s absolutely punishing. “Blind Village” actually throws in a nice funky Cream-like groove that peels away the layers and allows individual notes to nest in the open spaces. The quicker paced “Creepin” adds just enough funk to keep the hips shakin’ with a mind-bending psych guitar overload while a stripped-down bass introduces the blues grinder, “My Lonely Room” where the steady dirge is broken up by wah-wah distortion, eventually piling into a heap of vibrating feedback. The disc closes with “Living in a Daze”, a track that rides a repetitive twang riff followed by shards of lashing solo guitar. The climax takes about a minute to reach its apex pulling out all the stops and running the tape right to the end.

Website: Brutus, Svart Records


APRIL 2016

THE LU SILVER STRING BAND
The Soul Comes Back To Boogie
Go Down Records

Charismatic and multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter, Lu Silver returns with his second release The Soul Comes Back to Boogie. The album follows his first solo effort Voices, Harmony, Silver Strings by two years and continues his exploration of blues, folk, and West Coast rock with a nod to the late sixties and early seventies. His love for Neil Young, Terry Reid and Leon Russell weave a beautiful fabric of texture with elements of classic Stones, Beatles and even Skynyrd. Joining Silver are guitarist Alessandro Tedesco (OJM), bass/keyboardist El Xicano and drummer Matt Drive. The new disc plays out like an epic soundtrack complete with the atmospheric “Overture” soaked with Ennio Morricone twang ripe from a Quentin Tarantino thriller. The guitars are perfectly aged with dry, desert fullness and layered over a thick drumbeat while the melodic solo casts an intoxicating spell. “Just Another Day” dawns from the ‘overture’ fade and springs straight from the songbook of Johnny Cash; moody, emotional and refined from the burning fires of introspection and personal experience. Its beauty is in the craft.

As the title indicates, the eleven songs that fill The Soul Comes Back To Boogie focus on ‘soul’ and ‘boogie’ and Silver’s unique interpretation of each as the music pours out. There are times when the songs are wide open, spacious and dreamy and others that swirl around like a whirlwind of color and texture. The country swagger of “We don’t like your Ties” is an often-visited theme. A pulsating beat with a rattlesnake riff, as the song sets the vibe for the album with boogie and soul. The laidback “Life Is a Strange Game” combines elements of The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers, injected with some James Gang and explodes with Silver’s own dynamic chemistry. His vocals blend elegantly with stylistic prose while the band tears into the structure. Scatting the vocals at the start of “I Feel Really Junky” sets the jam up for a cool transition into Skynyrd territory with a southern rock kick to the ass while “Turn Me On” sets the lights low as the lyrics tell the story, “the party’s over and she’s down singing while the jukebox plays the same old song.”

Serious magic unfolds when the band launch into “I Gave You My Blues”. Picking up where Elmore James left off with “Dust My Broom”, it jumps into a rockabilly beat with powerhouse rhythm that could have easily fit in with Silver’s previous hard rock outfit the Small Jackets. It’s a great return to his roots packed with passion and groove. Slowing the tempo follows a tragic song of “Valentina”, a gorgeous ballad layered with string arrangements that move to a mid-tempo masterpiece reminiscent of The Who in full flight. Moving to the deeper tracks comes “Looking for Another Way”, a laid back instrumental intro with Silver’s vocal buried in the mix. All comes into focus midway through as the song bursts into a seasoned composition that breathes with steel guitar and a California breeze. In harmony comes the Neil Young cover “On the way Home” with its gloss produced that pays revered homage to the original. “Last Train for a new Day” closes out the opus with delicate piano transitioning into a soulful guitar-driven jam as Silver howls in the background. A triumph of a sophomore!

Website: Go Down Records


MARCH 2016

GUDARS SKYMNING
Till Detta Var Jag Nödd Och Tvungen
Transubstans Records

Three years in the making and Sweden’s Gudars Skymning have finally released their fourth opus Till Detta Var Jag Nödd Och Tvungen. It took a total of five days to record the album, which is a record for the four-piece as they usually work much faster. This time, they gave themselves more time to work with atmosphere and arrangement in the studio. Just like on earlier releases, all the basics were recorded live with the whole band in the same room to capture the right feeling. That unified vibe is quickly captured in opening track “Olycksfågel”. A power-chord riff blasts from the speakers as vocalist Kenny-Oswald Dufvenberg howls out a blues-infused midnight moan. Bassist Magnus Hasselstam and drummer Dennis Sjödin lay down a mean backbeat while Knut Hassel roars with six-strings of molten fury. The solos are fresh and invigorating with a dirty tone that leaves a nice grease streak. And there’s just enough ‘70s-inspired organ to give the group a signature drive that carries a bit of retro to fuel their modern heavy rock.

Sung entirely in Swedish, the record enjoys a folksy blend of heritage trademarks and edgy songs craft. Like fellow Swedes Witchcraft, Horisont and Abramis Brama, Gudars Skymning use the seventies as a launching pad while finding plenty of fervor in their aggressive instrumentation. Of the album’s ten tracks, all but two fill the tank with riffing rocket full. The guitars are thick and chunky with standout hooks and liquid grooves. Title track “Till Detta Var Jag Nödd Och Tvungen” pays tribute to Black Sabbath with its sludgy plod and dark timbre – it also logs in as the record’s longest track at almost seven minutes. Translated as “For This I was Forced and Compelled” indicates to the listener a foreboding nature in harmony with its doom texture. Picking up pace is the Rainbow-like “Ur Askan” where the keyboards bake over a galloping rhythm. “Ormens Ägg” and “Djupa Revor” hint at early Judas Priest with the beer-soaked “Gånge-Rolf” (complete with guzzling effects) inject a laidback prog jam using subtle jazz elements to contrast (and converge) into a wall of Marshals.

Highlights include stadium rocker “Vedergällning” which takes the balls of Thin Lizzy, the swagger of AC/DC, and chugging guitar of Accept to create a sonic masterpiece. A perfect slice of timeless hard rock with a hook riff, heart-pounding beat and melodic solo all packed into three-and-a-half minutes. In their quieter moments “Kaisers Testamente” begins with an elegant acoustic guitar before riding a metallic bronco. It’s that kind of dynamic that gives the band their unique sharpness and addictive base. Stretching out into southern rock is “Strövtåg I Mörkveden” an instrumental that could have seen its beginnings in “Tuesday’s Gone”. For the Wizard’s keeping comes “Arla I Urtid,” a hybrid of Uriah Heep and Hawkwind with the surprise inclusion of harmonica that’s not only intriguing but musically mind-numbing. Gudars Skymning deliver an album that’s mature, balanced and engaging. They stick to what they know best – groove, heavy riffs and Swedish pride.

Website: Transubstans Records, Gudars Skymning


FEBRUARY 2016

SPIDERGAWD
Spidergawd III
Crispin Glover Records

Norwegian power rockers Spidergawd proudly return with their third installment simply titled, Spidergawd III. For a band that started only two years ago, it’s amazing how far they’ve come. Led by Bent Sæther (bass/vocals) and Kenneth Kapstad (drums), the rhythm section for progressive psych rock giants Motorpsycho (also Norwegian), they take their influence from ‘70s gorilla bashers Grand Funk, Nugent and the tougher side of Pink Floyd to create a frantic scorcher. Known for their quick stints in the recording studio (maximum 10-days), the quartet actually took a couple months to smooth out album number three. The assault of opening track “No Man’s Land” speaks volumes as to where this band wants to be. Guitarist Per Borten pulls out his favorite ZZ Top, MC5 and Foghat records and charges full on into arena rock riffs. The results are more than satisfying especially with Rolf Martin Snustad adding just enough saxophone to keep the whole thing exhilarating, uniquely bizarre and spellbinding.

Eight compositions make up the entire album, which comes in at approximately 36-minutes. Similar to a seventies record it’s just enough to get the juices flowing while still leaving the listener hungry for more. The first half keeps the songs to fairly short bursts of sonic masterpieces, the second half is one continuous song separated into three parts. Our personal favorite, “El Corazon Del Sol” enters the album early as the second track, sounding the most Sabbath of anything the band has recorded to date. With beautiful wooly guitars that scratch at the soul and a solo that lands squarely as the track’s magnum opus, it’s guaranteed to blow the speakers out of any metallic housing. Best is the foghorn finish which has a slight Hawkwind edge that lingers into next track “The Best Kept Secrets”. The biker brutality of Motorpsycho is all over “Secrets” using the saxophone as a primary mood-setter plowing headlong into a barrage of fuzzed out guitars and thundering bass and drums.

Five-minute long “The Funeral” paints a darker landscape of color as is erupts from a rhythmic river of sludge. “Sweet little sister / save a prayer for me / I see I’ve gone too far, this is much too real,” sings Sæther over the hammering of chiming guitars as the encroaching cloud of melodic blackness engulfs the group in a cavalcade of feedback. It may be the closest the group comes to Blue Öyster Cult. “Picture Perfect Package” is the band’s foray into garage rock with some substantial Detroit muscle and a chorus that combines the Hellacopters with MC5 reverence. “Lighthouse Part I, II, and III” merge a musical soundscape of throbbing rhythms and boisterous guitars. “Part “I is all about the grove with a boogie bass that winds its way through to the end. “Part 2” is an instrumental interlude of sorts giving the sax full range in Pink Floyd fashion. “Part 3” fires up the belly of the beast in a six-minute spaced-out psych fest over a rhythmic undertone. Absolutely brilliant!

The band is signed to specialty label Crispin Glover Records that has produced all three of the group’s recordings on vinyl. Demand for a CD version sparked the label to produce a three-disc box set incased in an elegantly designed package. Highly recommended.

Website: Spidergawd, Crispin Glover Records


JANUARY 2016

MOUNTAIN OF POWER
Volume Three
Grooveyard Records

As the title states, this is the third installment of the Mountain Of Power (MOP) guitar overload franchise. Brainchild of guitarist and producer Janne Stark, and with the assistance of producer/label president Joe Romagnola, all three MOP records reignite a passion for the electric guitar by pulling the best from well know to obscure heavy rock bands of the ‘70s. Stark carefully selects tunes from a list of guitar heroes and rebuilds each tune into sonic monsters that pay the ultimate homage to the original creators. Eagerly anticipated, Volume Three features a slew of prominent guests including Craig Erickson, Mike Onesko and Jay Jesse Johnson (all steadily reviewed as solo artists within The Electric Beard vault). However, the biggest thrill this time was inclusion of legendary bass/vocalist Neil Merryweather. The disc kicks off with a roaring version of “Give It Everything We Got / Kryptonite” from Merryweather’s iconic classic Kryptonite (1975). Immediately, the bass jumps up front and center as the riff lands full-throttle. Martin J. Andersen (Blindstone) turns in a brilliant vocal performance on par with the original.

Merryweather’s contribution continues as he lends vocals to the groovy Walter Rossi/Charlee number “Hey Serena” / “Wheel Of Fortune Turning”. His powerful voice has lost nothing over the years bringing a legitimate stamp to the proceedings with dynamic force and raw emotion. Stark’s unique vision breaths new life into each of the album’s twelve arrangements. A world-class musician in his own right (Overdrive, Locomotive Breath), Stark takes the creative liberty of fusing two or three elements from his list of influential artists into a cohesive bundle of guitar worship. In his tribute to Kansas he combines “Death of Mother Nature Suite” and “Child of Innocence” with a mash of “Carry On Wayward Son”, “Relentless”, “Down The Road” and “Cheyenne Anthem” in a twelve-minute progressive mind-blower. He does the same thing with Rush combining “Under The Shadow” with “Working Man”, “What You're Doing”, “Soliloquy” and “YYZ”. The results are extraordinary and the seemingly complicated becomes beautifully melodic.

Though some may recognize deep cuts by April Wine (“Silver Dollar”), Triumph (“Be My Lover”/ “Little Texas Shaker”) and Captain Beyond (“Raging River of Fear” / “Can't Feel Nothing” / “Frozen Over”) the personal highlights are in the more obscure workouts like Cain’s “Badside” where the song literally explodes out of the speakers. Throughout the disc, Stark plays the majority of the song’s structure including guitars and bass with the rhythm assistance provided by drummers Peter Svensson and Peter Hermansson. Where that rhythm really finds it’s groove is in the Diamond Rio number “It's A Jungle Out There (Power)”. The swagger plays perfectly into the dirty hook while Boomerang’s “Cynthia Fever” / “Juke It” is brought back from obscurity with the full Janne Stark riff-master treatment. The expected strut of “All The Way” (Mother's Finest) is made all the more incredible by the vocal prowess of Amy Douglas who sounds like a mix between Mother's Finest's Baby Jean and Tina Turner on steroids. Another surprise is the addition of Canadian singer Carl Dixon (Coney Hatch) raising hell on The Hunt’s “She Flew Freely” / “If Only We Had Tried” and April Wine’s “Silver Dollar”.

Website: Grooveyard Records

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