Good Time Gone Bad
Independent release

Guitar rock comes a’screaming from the six tracks of this teaser EP. Compared to the likes of greased up Motley Crue/Faster Pussycat (without all the glam baggage) comes a band that takes boozed-up pelvic-thrusting RnR back to where it belongs – mired in the filth of sweat, sex and three-chord biker riffs.  “Nobody Rides For Free” is just the ticket, simple hooks, played by what sounds like a wall of guitars, the echo of a cowbell and a heart-pounding backbeat. But if you’re looking for a little refinement, try on “Bad Doctor” or the pub rocker, “She Loves The Money” complete with some mad piano bangin’.

Once the engines get revved up there’s no stopping the AC/DC powered “F.W.W.” Just hold on and enjoy the ride. There are times the voice, guitars, bass and drum call back to ‘80s hair metal, but the for these guys their roots are firmly rooted in no-nonsense Aerosmith oil. 12-bar blues bring the fist pumping “It’s Only Blood” to its feet with both hands in the air. Title track “Good Time Gone Bad” puts it all together with a sneer to those that went before them including Buckcherry, Wildhearts or early LA Guns. When was the last time you heard five guys from Michigan tear a new hole in the knickers of rock and roll?

Website: The Nastys

Through the Eyes of Heathens
Small Stone Records

The wait has almost been agonizing as we’ve anticipated this new opus from Sweden’s centrifuged sludge riffers, Dozer. Three years has seen its effect taking the band in a more metallic, axe-grinding direction. More rock and less stoned out fuzz. Those massive riffs are still there and “Drawing Dead” sets the bar with a hypnotic wielding from the frets of guitarist Tommi. “From Fire Fell” and “Omega Glory” follow suit, packing some COC in the hook. There’s still the desert vibe in “Born A Legend,” the densely eruptive “Until Man Exists No More” and the beautiful straight-ass rocker “Days Of Future Past” only this time they’re carrying a big oak club.

There is a cohesive tightness to the band this time around. Some may find it hard to appreciate based on the loose stands of Madre de Dios (2000) or the second side of Call It Conspiracy (2003). However, everyone must agree singer/guitarist Fredrik Nordin has come into his own. His voice, though sometimes whiney in a Chris Isaak kind of way, can unleash a volley of angst. By the time the record gets to the savage “Blood Undone,” we hear a confidence that only comes from getting to know your strengths and muscling them up for a fight. Complexity fuels “The Roof, The River, The Revolver” with a bit of Audioslave thrown in and the nature of “Man of Fire” though heavy as hell, drifts into a caustic wasteland. “Big Sky Theory” bounces right back with a massive engine of thunderous guitars, cavernous bass/drum lines and otherworldly vocals – surging, holding back and surging again.

Website: Small Stone Records

Third Time is the Charm
Leviathan Records

There may be something prophetic to SG’s new title. Indeed, this is the band’s third outing, and another round of changes since 2003’s Double Your Pleasure. This time, we see the blues rockers expanding into a foursome with bassist Dave Swart replacing Kevin Kekes and guitarist David T. Chastain stepping aside to allow Eric Johns to man the vocal front. Both Swart and Johns are transplants from the Cincinnati, Ohio band, Simple Aggression. Many associate Chastain and his guitar calisthenics to ‘80s power metals bands CJSS, Chastain and the wizardry of his solo efforts. With Southern Gentlemen, Chastain’s focus is on blues-based hard rock.

It is immediately clear Johns fits comfortably into his roll on Third Time is the Charm. Like a pre-Whitesnake Coverdale, his old school baritone rumbles over the record’s opening cut “Even Now” while Dave Swart’s galloping bass gives Chastain’s guitar a run for the money. By the second track, you’re convinced, if the band had added some keys, they might be in ’74 Deep Purple territory. The slow grinder “Heaven Help Me Now,” or the two-step “It’s Not True,” fuse together signature riffs and raspy vocals that keep the songs heavy, melodic and powerful. Drummer Mike Haid surfaces in his groove on the bitter, “I Don’t Want You” then kicks it into overdrive for a roaring, “I’m Down.”

SG’s not your traditional southern rock like Skynryd, Marshall Tucker or Allman Bros, but more metallic - like Molly Hatchet or Blackfoot. “Caught you Red Handed” lays into a Charlie Hargrett meets Dave Hlubek-like hook and carries it right into “Broken Man.” And just when you didn’t think Chastain could play heavier, in comes “Don’t Go” to tear the roof off. The songs seem much tighter this time around; less extended and more focused. It gives the listener a chance to key into the songs. The lyrics are stained with outlaw themes from “Going down to Texas” to the sexy “Love Train” followed by “Ladies of the Night.” Once again Chastain proves he can do it all.

Website: Leviathan Records

Livin’ Like we Wanna Die
In Wine Is Truth

Vintage biker rock meets goth-punk is what we get when laser hits plastic from this Virginia Beach, VA threesome. Easy to pick out is the relatively simple chord structure, the hectic backbeat and a throbbing bass played by Ms Angela Foxx. The driving force is Johnny Sonic – a manic guitar player who’s all over the place whipping out frenzied solos then slipping back into a rhythm groove without breaking a sweat. Oh yeah, and he sings over the top of all this chaos. There is the comparison to Motorhead, which is justified in the audio abuse of, “Hard Man to Please,” “Ironhead” and “Ready To Kill.” Yet, with Ms Foxx shouting her background vocals, it brings back memories of St Valentines Massacre with Lemmy and Co joining up with Girlschool. 

Opener “She’s So Evil” has a screech that sets the pace for the 13 turbo-charged slabs to come. Among all the sleazy riffs and ball-breaking drum fills are some rather tasty licks. “Heart Stealer” and “Hotwired” take a grinding guitar chug and turn it into dirty power pop. There’s also plenty of New York Dolls meets Ramones attitude in “Broken Heart, Broken Bones,” “Too Cool For School” and “Out Drinkin’ Again.” Others have more melody like the ‘80’s metal hook of “Ready to Kill” and “Take a Look.” Produced by Electric Frankenstein’s Sal Canzonieri, there’s no wondering where some of the sonic bombardment comes from. Closer to Sweden’s The Bones, American Dog and The Rods, these guys pack enough solid rock to get you down the Jersey turnpike with plenty of metal in your pipes.

Website: Ironhead

Sextant Records

Fans of Toronto’s Crash Kelly will perk up when they hear the noteworthy chops of Revolver due to guitarist’s Sean Kelly’s participation in both bands. Evidently this band is the brain-child of Nick Walsh, singer for Canadian outfit Silk Toxik and includes an eclectic lineup featuring Gene Scarpelli, the son of Goddo guitarist Gino Scarpelli, with a rhythm section of Laurie-Anne Green (bass) and Sheldon Thomas (drums). The five-piece pack thick, chunky riffs along the lines of - well, Velvet Revolver, Beautiful Creatures or a tougher sounding Bang Tango meets Danger Danger.

In essence, what we have in Turbulence are slick hooks found in “Dead Weight,” “Nosebleed” and “Juggernaut” splattered among the occasional searing power ballads “Blue Sky” and “Walking.” Though the production is fairly good, the guitars come dangerously close to taking over the whole thing. Kinda of similar to Tesla’s last records. Walsh’s voice is palatable, typical of ‘80s hair metal and at times, finds home base with the less aggressive melodies. Yet it turns frail as the density increases. “Pandora’s Box” rises with solid potential finding a good balance between a throbbing back end and a flexing guitar structure. Throughout the record the choruses are memorable and the solos tasty. However, there is a mid-disc slump in “Electric Machine,” “Atomic Arcade” and “Gasoline.” Not bad songs just failing to excite. Once they get into more texture the disc takes off again.

Website: Revolver

Flores De Sangre
Small Stone Records

Flores De Sangre is considered the first “real” full-length release from this Albany, NY stoner/doom outfit following their split EP with Jersey’s Solace (2005). This is one HEAVY record. Right from the start “Sinner Takes All” blows the speakers with a massive wail and chest-beating bass drum. Lead singer Mark Langone actually gets carried away in the mix as the shear volume rolls over the top of his vocals. The relentless barrage keeps pace, cowbell in hand, through “Taste of the Wasteland” but by “Another Lesson” a bit of the desert vibe comes through in guitarist Mike Vitali's wa-wa. Dueling it out with second guitarist Jay Sunkes, Vitali can embrace the layered harmonies in “Twist of the Spine” or accentuate the brutal velocity of “Deme Su Coolo.” Not bad for a kid who gained his chops and notoriety from his stint in Helmet.

Bassist Brendan Slater is like a dog unleashed. His solo intro alone in “Man’ Ruin” is enough to put the average human being in traction for a week. Supporting, lifting and pairing with Vitali and Sunkes, Slater punishes all contenders for his space. Exciting for the listener is the completion between metal and stoner/doom. A chugging “Three Card,” the Nine-Inch Nail-esque “To the Limit” and “Wish I was Gone” have the slow, sludgy lumber but riff it up with meat and potatoes metal. Drink in the lyrics and you’ll find the sound somewhere between Pink Floyd and Motorhead. The haunting title track, “Floes De Sangre” closes the record with a muffled piano interlude pushing even further a prog vibe – almost like Opeth but darker and hairier.

Website: Small Stone Records

Shut Up & Take It
Gearhead Records

This is the second record from the Austin-based punk band following 2004’s One Night High. The Pink Swords mix a lethal dose of high-octane punk with a flare for garage rock including frantic piano bouncing off twin guitars, a deathrace drummer and a maniacal bassist. A midst their turbo-charged attack they occasionally find a gripping grove, beat it to death and spit it back out properly toxic and dangerously addictive. Both “Give it to me” and riff rocker “Down & Dirty” fall in line as a Dead Boys meets Motorhead slammer with a pair of fully ripe testicles swinging in the breeze.

Midway through “No Rock N Roll” you can hear lead singer Stink Ray clear his throat and hock a loogie – an attitude of total punk excess. Most songs don’t run past the two-minute mark keeping the heat on and guitars flailing. Guitarist Dirty Steve lives for hyper riffs and sizzling leads flying in and out of the song structure with reckless abandon but astute enough to avoid a collision. Eating through “Things you Say,” the spastic “Crybaby” or the pumped up “She’s Gone” has an evil effect on your neck as it thrashes to the Steve’s guitar beat.

Galvanizing into a heat-seeking missile comes the cast of drummer John V and The Kid on bass. Just keeping up in this band is an achievement - so, when they lay down a raging firestorm of foot/fret frenzy all we can do is admire. “Epic” is indeed just that. Moving out of the gate at a million miles an hour, it knocks out the bumps, finds a paranoid lick and opens up a serious can of whop ass. The lovely “Ode to Mama” is enough to bring a tear to your eye followed affectionately by “Drop Dead.” The Pink Swords are unapologetic in their musical assault and plan to leave you bruised and bleeding with each play.

Websites: Pink Swords, Gearhead Records

Lords Have Mercy
Gearhead Records

This is why we love labels like Gearhead. Unlike the majors, they find some of the best rock n roll, package it up real nice, and make sure we can get our hands on it. If you missed the Lords debut To Hell with the Lords of Altamont, it’s time to track it down. The band play dirty, greasy garage rock at full volume and drag it kicking and screaming into the 21st century. They continue to pulverize the ‘60s rock revival with their sophomore outing Lords Have Mercy. By pairing bludgeoning riffs with Hammond B3 organ, the LA quintet shake and shimmer their way into a loud, obnoxious b-movie soundtrack compete with go-go stripper beats and Mellotron overdrive.

Similar to East coasters Mooney Suzuki, the Lords breathe new fire into the genre with catchy hooks and melody that MC5 would be proud of. In fact MC5 bassist Michael Davis contributed the liner notes and his wife’s management company run’s the Lords business affairs. But more importantly the songs are outstanding. Start with “Tough as Nails” where the organ grinds out a throbbing beat before joining the guitar in a Spaghetti western (complete with harmonica) mid-section. The action-packed “Buried” or full on chugger “Let’s Burn” tear a path straight into your memory setting up a permanent industrial riff plant.

Though the organ may be a bit over played and the guitars hold second fiddle, the maturity of the songs stands strong especially in the records mid-section where we get massive personality in the rocker “Velvet,” the surf-tinged “Project Blue” or the gyrating “$4.95.” Top of the pile must be the anthem “Live Fast” perfectly messing balls-out fuzz guitar, a deafening drum beat and layered keys. Surprise cover of the Chambers Brothers’ “Time Has Come Today” makes for a cleaver finish doing justice to the original while still maintaining the band’ integrity. Plenty of praise for the Lords doing justice to a revitalized formula – and doing it with class and passion. That’s all we can ask.

Website: The Lords of Altamont, Gearhead Records

Sky High
Howler Records

Bad Wizard is one of those bands caught between Steppenwolf and Ted Nugent in an all-out territorial war over Camaro rock. Sky High marks their fourth attempt to overthrow the wimpy nostalgia of yesteryear with pile-driving hard rock and anxious twin guitar leads. As kids growing up in NYC, they listened to it all – maybe even saw Kiss sellout Nassau coliseum or AC/DC headline Jones Beach. Wherever it was, they learned the right way to deliver high-octane rock and roll and it’s been pouring out of them ever since. Last year’s #1 Tonight” was the closest these guys (and one girl – Tina Gorin, guitar) came to matching their idols. Sky High in many ways surpasses that benchmark and their idols.

Thin Lizzy posturing is all-the-rage in the record title track complete with an approachable chorus. “Agent,” the cowbell-laced “Jealous Man,” and the galloping bass-line of “Strawberry” offer a certain southern rock charm with a bit of Jane’s Addiction passed around like a Jamaican spliff. Producer and former Royal Trux co-founder, Jennifer Herrema adds an acceptable amount of fuzz and clout reaching for a more all-terrain sound in the darker “Black Navigator” or the MC5-ish “13x Around The World.” As for classic cuts, “He’s A Rat” takes the cheese with riff rocker, “Slow Down” and “Pass It On” kicking up plenty of Detroit dust.

Website: Howler Records

Metal Black
Sanctuary Records

Excellent return to form for these ancient demons of the infernal pit. After his restless stint with Enthroned, Cradle of Filth, Warpath and Dwarf Star, Conrad “Cronos” Lant has landed right back where he started – fronting the hellacious Venom. In all honesty, this is where he truly belongs. Titled Metal Black (a reverse play on the band’s 1982 classic and genre defining Back Metal), the 14-track disc pulls all the right elements together including lethal doses of thrash riffing, bombastic drumming and heart-pounding bass. The names have changed for bass and drum welcoming Antton and Mykvs, who obviously did their homework, as the record is a meaty return to the trio’s earlier writing style.

At this point in their career, it’s a mute point to find comparisons, as all things dark and sinister came from their loins. Lant’s work behind the boards gives the whole thing some treasured nuggets including the hyper “Burn in Hell” which feeds off a chainsaw lick and double-kick stomp with Cronos’ caustic laughter speckled over a winning chorus. One might hear a bit of Metallica in “Death & Dying” and “Hours of Darkness” – somewhat odd as history reverses itself, (Metallica being big fans of the Newcastle trio). There’s also the cool Thin Lizzy-like galloping of “Rege’ Satanas,” which boasts some searing lead guitar. But it’s the good ol’ headbangin’ of “Good Day To Die”, “Assassin” and “Blessed Dead” that fly the flag of true British metal as only Venom can.

Website: Venom, Sanctuary Records

Another Perfect Day, Orgasmatron, Rock ‘N’ Roll
Sanctuary Records

Much like the Iron Maiden catalog, Motörhead’s cherished gems are getting overhauled and re-released with even more bonus tracks, more live archives and more memorabilia than ever before. Ex-Kerrang/current Classic Rock writer Malcolm Dome handles the liner notes well, summing up the band’s well-deserved place in the annals of Rock history. Images include press release photos, singles cover art, tour programs, backstage passes, set lists and tour info all surrounding that particular album’s release schedule. Live tracks pull from the same era and range from the Manchester Apollo and Caister, Great Yarmouth to Monsters of Rock, Castle Donington.

 This particular series includes Another Perfect Day, Orgasmatron and Rock ‘N’ Roll. Another Perfect Day being the red-headed step child of the lot – literally and figuratively. It was during this time (’83) that original guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke left/got fired and was replaced by ex-Thin Lizzy man Brian “Robbo” Robertson (leave it to Lemmy to give everyone nick names). For Robbo this was always considered a “work for hire” situation and though he contributed some great chops to songs like “Turn You Around Again” and “Die You Bastard,” his slick “70’s style never carried through to old school fans. Still there is plenty here to crow about starting with the title track “Another Perfect Day,” even if it does come close to Lizzy territory. Then there is the polish of “Shine” and “One Track Mind” before landing on the bar-room boogie of “Rock It”.

Orgasmatron was a different animal all together. It saw the departure of Robertson and original drummer Philthy Phil. (Evidently Phil was a big Lizzy fan and none too happy Robbo got sacked.) His replacement was Saxon man Pete Gill which may have had a lot to do with this record sounding like a Saxon record. Robertson was replaced by Persian Risk guitarist Phil Campbell and unknown, Wurzel. The guitars were much more in keeping with Motorhead’s aggressive nature and very metallic especially on “Built For Speed”, “Mean Machine” and the clanging “Deaf Forever.” Even the punky “Ridin’ with the Driver” and the clever “Claw” had their moments. But the original production suffered a bit - a little too thin for these guys, even with the re-master.

Rock ‘N’ Roll brought Philthy back and gave everyone a chance to settle down. The results were a tougher, rougher blend with a much better production. Less metal and more straight ahead rock in their undercurrent, tracks like the title cut “Rock ‘N’ Roll,” “Blackheart,” and “Dogs” showcased Motorhead’s ability to craft signature songs that stood up to their predecessors. More than anything, this is a record surrounded by movies and a movie-like atmosphere. Prior to its recording, Lem was cast in the comedy film Eat The Rich and asked to pen its soundtrack. Monty Python’s Michael Palin came in and recorded the intro to “The Wolf,” and after the record’s release Lem was featured in Penelope Spheeris documentary Decline of the Western Civilization II, The Metal Years. Though it was banned by several critics, what it should be known for is its stellar guitar solo work.

Websites: Motörhead, Sanctuary Records

Time Will Be Your Doctor
Sanctuary Records

This is definitely your older brother’s band – hell, maybe even your Dad’s. Tucky Buzzard was one of the obscure ‘70’s bands that got its fame by being produced and managed by Rolling Stones bassist, Bill Wyman. Lumped in with bands of like ilk including Three Man Army, Tear Gas and Juicy Lucy, the group found their base in hard rock blues with a tendency for psychedelic adventure. They released four records from 1969-1974. Like most from that period, the American five-piece interspersed mid-tempo numbers with sonic crashes. By the end of their tenure they were sounding more like Uriah Heep than Deep Purple. Time Will Be Your Doctor is a 25-track-by-track retrospective meant to capture the band’s first three albums.

 The double disc picks up from their earliest beginnings and runs through their self-titled debut on Capitol records. Though “Time Will Tell…” is a bit keyboard heavy, “Stainless Steel Lady” is much better, latching on to a good hook and reeling you in. A couple other standouts include the Foghat-like “She’s Meat” and “Gu Gu Gu.” For the most part, the band is finding themselves musically in the first 8-10 tracks and dragging you along for the ride. Some of that takes in country, blues, and psychedelic meanderings. However, by the time we reach the songs off Warm Slash (starting with “Mistreating Woman”) the disc is much more aggressive. Check out the Spooky Tooth/Gary Wright-like riff in “(She’s A) Striker” or the chunky guitar in “Burnin’” and “Heartbreaker.”

The final journey takes us through the band’s third opus, Coming on Again, recorded with the Madrid Philharmonic Orchestra. For collectors, this is a real treat, as for years it was considered “lost”. Found again, it returns the band to its more melodic roots with spiraling choral arrangements, hypnotic baroque elements and the occasional Led Zeppelin-esque rock. If this were on vinyl, the first side is the more explored soundscape running as one full track over 14-minutes long. The flip-side is sliced up in neat radio-friendly tunes with “You Never Will” and “Free Ticket” rising to the top complete with sizzling slide guitar.

Website: Tucky Buzzard, Sanctuary Records