WAYSTED
Back From The Dead
Majestic Rock Records

While the Paul Chapman debate rages on through cyberspace we’ll throw our two-cents in on the new Waysted Back From The Dead CD. First, it’s a miracle this thing ever saw the light of day. Second, it’s amazing that it’s as good as it is. A return to former glory complete with tongue and cheek lyrics delivered by none other than Fin, BIG chunky guitars and Pete’s personal touch which all blend into a musical erection.

The songs credit four compositions written by Way/Muir/Chapman, three by “Waysted”, an Everly Bros cover and (if you get the Japanese CD) two ballsy UFO covers – "The Wild, The Willing and The Innocent" and "No Place To Run". Of the new tracks “Garden Of Eden” and the Foreigner-esque “The Price Of Love” are probably the heaviest the band have ever written. “The Alternativa” and “I’m Gonna Love Ya” are typical Waysted but the surprises are “Lost In Cleveland” and “Breakfast Show” giving the band a distinct AC/DC flash complete with Fin doing his best Bon Scott.

“Dreams” features Way up close and personal as the bass takes a leading roll in this driving mid-tempo barnstormer. Oddly “Must B More 2 It Than This” rolls out like a Van Halen number bulging with a muscle-bound riff. No matter what the Waysted camp says, clearly Chapman’s guitar is all over this thing – heavy, abrasive and the best we’ve heard in years. At the risk of making you spend your leftover Christmas cash get the Japanese copy. The UFO numbers are unbelievable and so worth it!

Websites:
www.pchapman.com, www.waysted.co.uk, majesticrock.com

EL CACO
Solid Rest
Black Balloon Records

First introduced to us through their amazing debut Viva (2000) this Norwegian three-some take their sledgehammer sound and crush empty-minded myths about stoner rock. Solid Rest take elements of Soundgarden slash Mountain and merge them with a Queens of the Stoneage pop sensibility to produce a heavy companion to Tool.

Vocalist/bass Oyvind Osa is the center of the band’s universal appeal. His voice can be dark - even sinister as in “Marionette” yet also becomes amazingly melodic as in “Blind No More”. Guitarist Anders Gjesti completely writes a new chapter on heavy riffs that are not only memorable but completely original in a genre that is fast approaching repetition. The king of the groove is found in the infectious rhythmic pounding of drummer Thomas Fredriksen.

“A Nice Day” and “Mrs. Coma” tend to lead the seduction of the record with the former making the most out of congas of all things. “Please Be Sad” and “The Small Hours” have a desert feel while “Get Up”, “No Regrets” and “Space Station” are full-throttle rock-n-roll. Producer Daniel Bergstrand (Meshuggah, In Flames) gave the record an incredible sound embracing the El Caco’s signature yet allowing the band room to flex their musical muscle. A traditional back-bone rocker with an alternative edge.

Websites:
www.elcaco.com, www.blackballoonrecords.com

JOSIAH
Into The Outside
Molten Records

Quintessential classic hard rock is the only way to describe Josiah’s hybrid of dirty Led Zeppelin/Deep Purple groove. From the Saul Bass-inspired album art to thick, grinding, blues-soaked riffs Into The Outside is first-rate rawk. This is the Welsh trios second opus following their critically acclaimed debut in 2002. Yet, once the needle hits “Turn It On” with its electrified open-chord romp over a bouncing bottom-end, hang on for your life!

“The Scarlatti Tilt”, “Beyond” and the blistering “Black Country Killer” chew on some serious Grand Funk amplification with a bit of Lenny Kravitz tossed in for soul effect. Sabbath with a Southern Rock kicker bolsters “O.B.N.” while “Sweet Time” pays homage to Edger Winters, “Frankenstein” mid-way through the set. The dark, psychedelic instrumental “Death Rides A Horse” clearly drips pure Hawkwind, then you got Nugent licks all over “Keep On Pushin’” and the monster “Bloodrock”.

Sticking with traditional ‘70s-style crafting guitarist Mat Bethancourt gives the record a breather with the velvet “Sylvie”. However, bassist Sie Beasley and recently arriving drummer “The” Bear ward off any intention to slow the record for two long and bash out another eleven minutes of cosmic thunder. Like an Ennio Marconni soundtrack, Bethancourt ability to apply vintage nuances close this session with “Unwind Your Mind,” a generation lift if ever there was one. Watch for the stoner bonus jam at the end…dude!

Websites:
www.josiahrock.co.uk, www.molten-records.com

SUCKERPUSH
Reminiscing…
Gripton Records

Joining the ranks of Matchbox 20, Everclear, Train, Better Than Ezra and even Collective Soul is Michigan-based Suckerpush. Reflected on their second release Reminiscing are ten tracks of layered harmonies and hyper-catchy melodies in a tempo balanced running order. Evidently guitarist Scott Moerman, singer Brian Pitcole and drummer Sean Campbell saw some success in their acoustic cover band Farley. When bassist Jeremy Diamond and rhythm guitarist Chris Villarreal joined in the band’s sound toughened up and so did their name.

Without a doubt “Dollar Sign Eyes” is the lead single off the record. Penned with all the key elements that made Bread or America historically huge in the ‘70s, the song capitalizes on a slick acoustic hook, Pitcole’s throbbing baritone and a radio-friendly chorus. “Days of Change” and the Dylon-like “Tackling Daises” follow a similar suit caressing moments of cherished pop.

Guitarists Moerman and Villarreal find a winning combination as they duel it out in “Switch Head” and the aggressive “Waitress”. Even “Anymore” milks out some tasty guitar slinging with Pitcole’s doing his best Ozzy (ballad) impression. Taking notes from college circuit mainstays Smashmouth and Jimmy Eat World Suckepush work a sense of humor into their songs keeping them memorable and clever.

Websites:
www.suckerpush.com

MARDO
Self-titled
House of Restitution Records

Mardo is the surname of the two brothers that lead it - Aaron (vocals, bass) and Robbie (drums, guitars). Their latest release rides a loud wave of rock across generations and genres with hints of Motown soul, ‘70s glam and Stadium Rock. They follow closely to The Black Keys in deep respect for The Kinks’ tuneful seductive presentation. Where the Davies brothers were craftsmen of intoxicating melodies, the Mardo’s inject youthful bravado with plenty of strut. Soak up what they do with Huey Lewis’s “I Want A New Drug”.

Mimicking vintage guitar sounds keeps the record rooted through the band’s three-decade symposium. “Big Mouth Shotgun’s” fuzzfest, “Cold Creepin’s” power-blues and “Catch A Thief’s” Neil Young-type feedback not only pay tribute, but elevated their dedication. For their age, Mardo are unusually savvy when it comes to mixing psychedelic elements into their format. They find their forte in mixing chunky riffs with Pink Floyd sound-scapes. “Told You So”, “Son” and “Hey Girl” are caustic fusions of augmented vocals and instrumental spontaneity.

Delightful is Aaron’s command of the electric piano and organ. His style can embrace a power-ballad like “I’m The One” and reeks havoc on the senses all at once. But for pure head-bashing grinders, stick with “Anyone But Me” and “Last Call” as well as garage-rockers “Poor Paul” and “Broken Bones”.

Website:
www.mardomusic.com

NIGHTSTALKER
Just A Burn
Mad Prophet Records

Somewhere between Motorhead and Monster Magnet hails Nightstalker. And where do we find these other world wonders? In Athens Greece – the crown jewel of the ancients. It may come as a surprise but Greece has its share of rock idols - look no further than power-metal guitarist Gus G (Firewind, Dream Evil). Nightstalker find their sound on the leather saddle of a low-riding chopper. This is prime grinding space rock with a nod to ‘70s-era Steppenwolf and baked over a massive production.

Fans of the band’s The Ritual EP (2000) will find the trio brushed off and ready for a second round of sweat. The guitars (by Tolis) on Just A Burn are heavier - or at least sound that way, the bass (by Andreas) it damn-near lethal and the drums/vocals (by Angry) are deafening. “All Around” gets the record started with a ripe riff which eats solid Monster Magnet steel before blowing out the speakers in a massive wave of cosmic unrest. Title cut “Just A Burn” capitalizes on the momentum slowing to a plodding power-chord with Angry bellowing “I’m so stoned/I’m almost there/So long gone…I don’t care.”

The trippy acid-laced guitar flowing from Tolis’ six strings caress “Don’t Blow My High” and “Voodoo U Do” that even our dear departed Hendrix would be proud of. Andreas’ bass never misses a beat - from the space-rock of “Shadows” to the feedback fuzz of “Give It All” he burns his signature right in. Balls-out rockers like “ Staripper” and “Iron” counter balance the doom-based “Explode” and Doors-esque epic “Silver Shark”. It’s still astounding that Angry handles both drums and vocals so well. It’s his Lemmy-like voice that drives the band right into the stratosphere.

Website:
www.nightstalkerband.com

SVARTEPAN
Nattvandring
Record Heaven

Nattvandring is SvartePan’s first full release after releasing a split with Abramis Brama They hail from Sweden and, in a twist for the rest of the English-speaking world, sing in their native tongue. Letting the music speak for itself the lyrics fuse into gigantic grooves and Jethro Tull sonic melodies. Singer/guitarist Conny Anderssson takes the lead not only as the group’s focal instrument but producer as well. That being said, the production does favor the guitar but is well rounded and gives vocalist Bjrn Holmden plenty of room to move about. Check out his killer harmonica work on “Min van” for great rock ‘n roll texture.

The magic for the band comes through their skilled stacking of the musical soundscape. A gorgeous layering of acoustic and electric guitar take “Vill ha” and “Drommar” straight to the classic level. The lighter acoustic side takes over in “Gravsang” and “Sov Gott” reminiscent of early Uli Roth Scorpions. Beefy riffs o’ plenty return to fill the record with stadium anthems “Det var en man”, “Balladen om Lillebror” and “Starkare” complete with rumbling drum rolls, thundering bass and piercing guitar.

This record is a ball breaker covering the music spectrum from Tull and King Crimson to AC/DC, Sabbath and Scorpions. The foursome throw everything into each song – and a lot in-between as most tracks run right into each other separated only by subtle refrain. You’ll hear complicated coral arrangements; Moroccan rhythms, strings, gypsy hand symbols and even the occasional “Jews harp”. Hats of to Nattvandring – a job very well done.

Website:
www.svartepan.com , buy it at www.recordheaven.net

MOORE
Bleed
Nightwing Records

Calling Denver home, this Colorado quartet may have struck gold with their fourth full-length release Bleed. Regurgitating old-school riffs and vintage production in the vein Motley Crüe’s Too Fast For Love or Iron Maiden’s Killers Moore keep the guitar solos fierce, the rhythm section heavy and vocals howling. “Raise ‘em High” leads the record with Matt Meyer’s chainsaw guitar opening up to a tasty solo. Aside from vocalist Jim Moore, only Erik Grove remains from the old (1999) lineup but his presence is clearly heard in the bludgeoning drums. Classic lyrics like “Nothing satisfies like triple six…Get up, stand up and grow a fucking spine” pepper the record with colorful spice.

Make no mistake, this is quintessential pre-hair band metal. It has teeth and it bites! Remember early Overkill, Nuclear Assault and Flotsam & Jetsam? – well Moore remembers and hands it back in the grinding of “Warfare” the Metallica tribute of “A&B (Assault & Battery)” and the sledgehammer of “The Polite Song”. A hint of Wasp even creeps in to “The Sun Goes Down”, the record’s title “Bleed” and the brilliantly cross-fed “Escape”.

Mixing it up with the countrified “Glow”, raspy-voiced Jim Moore lays down a convincing story of love-gone-sad, then comes back swinging in “Jackhammer Jesus”. New(ish) bassist Chadwick tightens up the bottom end lending plenty of support for a steady, iron-clad beat. It’s been some five years and several stints on sunset strip since this band’s locked horns in their feud for world domination - adding Meyer as lead axe-slinger certainly lends credence as does Moore’s maturity as a songwriter. Get it at:

Website:
www.2moore.com

WITHER
Breakthrough
Dark Reflections Music

California-based five piece Wither have just released their sophomore Breakthrough. Led by brothers Jeff (vocals, guitars, keys) and Keith (vocals, guitars) Edelman they derive their sound from post-grunge alternative pop. Sandwiched between Queensryche, Creed and 3 Doors Down the band take their rather visionary approach and apply power-chords a plenty to a quacking rhythm section provided by bassist Robert Becker and drummer Tony Rangel.

Progressive rockers “Together”, “Revisited”, “Rise Over” and “Malkuth” shadow prog-metallers Tool and showcase lead guitarist Micah Cummins at his fiery best. The songs use chunky guitars, melody and atmosphere to embrace and accent panoramic lyrics. The credits don’t reveal who sings which vocals, which may be irrelevant for the most part, but weather its Jeff or Keith they both have a distinct operatic feel for dynamics. The orchestrated “Human Condition” is the perfect example of building layer after layer of emotion, which culminate into a bold exchange of keyboard and guitar interplay.

Midway through this opus the band ease into a blissful acoustic melodrama with “Sin”, “Starry Night” and “Fountain”. All three songs ease into their hard rock bridge with subtle, intoxicating introductions, thus furthering the echo of refined, attractive melodies swirling around the record like an enchanting fragrance. There is the occasional gruff vocal which possibly cuts a little too deep, however, the middle-eastern “Avalon” and lullaby “Breakthrough” close the disc with a passionate, memorable signature.

Websites:
www.wither.cc, or www.cdbaby.com.

LUCIFER WAS
Blues from Hellah
Record Heaven Music

The third offering from this Norwegian prog-rock legend is even more drenched in Jethro Tull inspired blues rock than ever before. Right out of the box the title track bolsters a gorgeously orchestrated 30-second intro, followed by a driving flute, then bleeds into an intense slow-burn riff. “Come Drug Me Babe” is the perfect segue way complete with thundering bass and drum. The edge of “Mire” hinges on the flute, which drives the melody. Who says the flute can be used in heavy rock music to set the pace of the song?

Lucifer Was is a big band hosting six members. Jon Ruder’s baritone carries each song with dignified grace while Thore Engen cuts through with a clean almost mechanical guitar. Flutist Dag Stenseng and Morten Seyfarth duel it out as a wicked flute combo while Einar Bruu (bass) and Kai Frilseth (drums) keep the train steamed and running. They all come together in a cacophony of inspired prog equipt to take on the hooks of Captain Beyond’s “Armworth”, the big band of “Lucilla’s Gone” and on to the New Orleans-styled “Sleeping House”

Personal favorites gravitate toward the sharp blues driven “Old In Eden”, the hypnotic (almost disco) “Za Za Banshee” and the power-house “When The Crossword’s Done” which coaxes a Robert Cray riff from a Cliff Richard-like vocal. This has to be the record’s highlight as an exceptionally well-crafted song. If it’s a taste for the distinguished stadium rock of the Seventies (Kansas, Styx, Jethro Tull) then Lucifer Was is for you.

Website:
www.recordheaven.net

SUNDER
Self Titled
Copper Blood/Dethride Records

After a promising showing with last years Burn All The Barns Sunder strike back with another set of blood-stained gut-wrenches. Make no bones about it – these boys are some angry red-neck mothers with the venom of a copperhead rattler. Production value has gone up significantly with these 13 new thrillers. And enough can’t be said about the slick, classy digi-pack and it’s excellent design. But it all boils down to the songs for your dollar value so let’s check under the hood for a full review.

Third track in “Daredevil” packs the biggest punch and does the best job encompassing what the band is all about. With a massive drum sound and a load of feedback the band infuse outlaw blood into death-metal veins turning Montana white bread into sweat-stained salt. “Blood On The Edge”, “The Deep Hit” and “Copper Kings” pull from Pantera roots with an evenly paced tempo and tuned-down guitars that lay on the floor and hiss. Yet, just when you think it’s safe “Neck Of The Woods” and “You Won’t Take Me Alive” come out with a forged-in-metal riff set to assault your cerebral cortex.

Sunder, named after a phantom form of Montana justice hold their own in the new (not nu) metal format. Straight from the pages of their website we quote, “With a mix of metal, punk and heavy rock, Sunder pound out songs with the rage and introspection of a small town existence. (Their) lyrics are a mix of violent images of the prairie and dark loneliness of the Rocky Mountains. In a state riddled with poverty, right-wing militia extremists and farm house meth labs, they write songs that are both an graphic depiction of this hard life and an escape from it.” Feel it – order it here.

Website:
www.sunder.tv

THE SAVOY TRUFFLE
Roadhouse Boogie
Bic Stone Records

Straight from the land of the rising sun we introduce The Savoy Truffle, a Japanese southern rock band. Abandon any misgiving that pop into your head because, not only do they do an admirable job, but a damn fine one at that. Featuring classic slide guitar, bell-bottom blues and a deep respect for the Allman Bros/Skynyrd legacy the five-piece led by whisky-soaked vocalist Monji Kadowaki whip up nine Macon-ready firebreathers.

“Out In The Rain” sets the pace with full-octane slide guitar and roadhouse swagger. The combination of percussion bongos, kick drum and organic bass fuel a vintage sound as convincing as any south of the Mason/Dixon line. “Lowdown Blues” moves closer to Canned Heat with some smokin’ harmonica courtesy of Kadowaki and guitarist Toshihiro Sumitomo. Bits of Stevie Ray Vaughan find their way into “Chevrolet”, “I’ll Never Know” and the rockin’ “Bring You Down” – authentic and original.

Ballads “Until You Can Feel It”, “Too Real Too Feel” and “Give It One Good Try” find a laidback groove and bask in a soft-shoe shuffle. It also sees the band eating into the Allman Bros pie while still finding their own voice in what was once considered a Western culture commodity. Another respected influence shows up in “Don’t Beat Around The Bush” where the band pick up a Doobie Brothers’ flare that’s just ripe for the pickin’.

Website:
Official website