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DAVID T CHASTAIN
Heavy Excursions
Leviathan Records

David T Chastain, leader and founder of Chastain and CJSS, is easily one of the all time ‘80s shredders on par with such luminaries as Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Eddy Van Halen. He out plays Yngwie Malmsteen in both style and technique and wipes up the floor with Warren DeMartini and Paul Gilbert. In fact, he is probably the most prolific and hardest working guitarist to ever come out of the Shrapnel camp. Heavy Excursions is the guitarist’s 34th recording and picks 18 of his finest moments from his six solo records beginning in 1987 and running up to 2007. The disc’s tracks include a number of world-class players including drummer Ken Mary (Alice Cooper, Accept, Fifth Angel), bassist Dave Harbour (King Diamond) and Chastain’s own Mike Skimmerhorn. One risks boring even the most committed of audiences with lengthy instrumental passages so Chastain mixes it up from the metallic onslaught of “Capriccio in E Minor” (from his first solo effort) to the classic scaling of “Excursions Into Reality” and the Jeff Beck-like “Burning Passions”.

A musician at the level Chastain is at only surrounds himself with top-notch players.  So, needless to say, his rhythm section is huddled tight and sonically proficient. Still, there are those jaw-dropping moments where the level of playing is off the charts. “18th Century Inamorata” is one of those masterpieces that will live on as truly legendary. It begins with a slow, emotional, Ritchie Blackmore-type scale then jumps into an astounding fret firestorm. The melody is simply superb. Another is the frantic “Schizophrenia” where the guitar actually sings the song – it is literally set up and played like a vocal line, complete with scaled inflection and a duet with the bass. Chastain is metal through and through, and though he applies orchestral and neo-classical soundscapes to his playing, he always returns to a punchy metal riff. That’s why the Dio-feed “Now or Never”, the Van Halen “Manage A Trois” and thunderous “Rambunctions Delicacy” will live forever as quintessential metal monsters.

As a bonus, Chastain throws on the wildly wizardous “827” from Chastain’s The 7th of Never and the pinnacle of blistering rock guitar, “Thunder and Lightning” off CJSS’s Praise the Loud, both of which have aged quite gracefully. Is the any doubt this guy stands in the same halls as the other great gods of guitar?

Website: David T Chastain, Leviathan Records

DEAD COWBOYZ
Exhumed
Independent Release

Dead Cowboyz are a four-piece out of LA that take their cue from Motörhead, Nugent and Sabbath by playing loud, heavy rock. Their sound is big and beefy with a slight tinge of LA glam/sleaze. The band’s vision is channeled through guitarist/vocalist Craig Heartsill making the record more of a solo project as he wrote and arranged all the songs and produced the album. The production is reminiscent of mid-eighties thrash especially with the tinny drums and over-blown guitar mix. It’s obvious this was compiled at different locations (perhaps over several years) using a range of settings and equipment. For example “Darkside” sounds like it was recorded in the mid-eighties. It’s classic old school Sunset Strip rock, ala Ratt, Dokken, Bang Tango - even the lyrics and vocal phrasing are true to the time. Whereas “Drive” and “Hazy” are more contemporary stylistically - the latter adding some funk to its thick guitar sound.

Joing Heartsill is guitarist Sam Benham, bassist John Biocic and drummer Bruce Safken. They gel on the Van Halen-inspired “Independence day” where the drum sound improves tremendously, the bass locks in and the guitar shreds. “Livin’ In Fear” and the ‘80s metal romp “Cry of Thunder” prove Heartsill as a promising musician capable of serious showmanship. He leads the band through a galloping rhythm in the Stryper throwback “Shout It Out” and even picks up a Tommy Shaw vibe in the ballad “Still Thinkin’ Of You”. The songs themselves need more time to mature. They lack any real hook; the kind that makes you hit the repeat button over and over again. Exhumed works best as a polished demo with promise –it just needs that extra push in song craft and a decent production. A ripping live version of the band covering Sabbath’s “Fairies Wear Boots” demonstrates what they’re capable of when everything lines up just right.

 Website: Dead Cowboyz

IAN GILLAN
One Eye To Morocco
Eagle Rock Entertainment

There are many colors to Ian Gillan’s music. Fronting Deep Purple from the ‘70’s to present was one shade. His hard rock, almost metal, solo band Gillan was another and then there was Black Sabbath. The singer has always maintained a solo identity for a more introspective climate. There was What I Did On My Vacation (1986) and Toolbox (1991) that communicated his global wonderings with the flair of a Dylan-esque troubadour. Gillian’s Inn from 2006 timidly stepped back into rock and now we have One Eye To Morocco, which finds Gillan at peace and aging gracefully. It’s not a loud, brash affair yet, it’s appropriately passionate and bubbling over with ideas. Accompanying Gillan on his journey are several noted musicians, primarily guitarist Michael Lee Jackson with only Steve Morris representing the Purple camp. Says Gillan in the liner notes, “It was a conscious decision to avoid the use of a rock rhythm section and you will notice the complete absence of guitar and keyboard solos. So, the instrumentation is perhaps more seductive than thrusting.”

That’s not to say Gillan has abandoned his rock roots completely. “No Lotion For That” has a strong guitar center more akin to Tom Petty than Purple’s Fireball days. The slower blues of “Better Days” also beckons back to a more earthy period. The slide work is especially strong here and one of three numbers credited solely to Jackson. The singer shows his affinity for travel in the record’s title cut and the wispy “Sky Is Falling”. A cross between the Beatles and Zeppelin, the songs harnesses a fusion of the exotic and middle-eastern time signatures. One can easily make comparisons to Robert Plant and David Bowie. Funny to note, the song was written in Buffalo, NY. Unusual is the hummable pop hook of “Don’t Stop” and the horn-filled “Deal With It”. Dare we call them ‘dance trax?’ The piano boogie of  “Texas State of Mind” is more Gillan as is the CCR beat in “Change My Ways”, which combines a killer harmonica and driving bass. “Ultimate Groove” packs a big organ groove but might sound better with Purple. A nice surprise is the singer’s Band-like treatment of “Girl Goes To Show”. Mature but with grace.

Website: Ian Gillan, Eagle Rock Entertainment

BLACK LABEL SOCIETY
Skullage
Eagle Rock Entertainment

Finally a proper ‘Greatest Hits’-type package featuring the best of BLS. Under appreciated as a riff master of the finest order, Zakk Wylde takes his 10-year solo project and gives the fans the cream of the crop. Available in three different formats: CD, DVD, CD/DVD combo pack, Skullage is a three-hour music overload with tons of tasty treats. Granted it’s a little thin on newer material, only one song “New Religion” from Shot to Hell (’06). However, both Pride and Glory and Book of Shadows get a track each with a couple acoustic re-workings thrown in. Put together in order, it’s interesting to hear how Wylde has progressed as a singer from the mumbling Allman brother to the Ozzy clone. The CD itself starts out relatively mellow. “Machine Gun Man” (P&G) and “Dead As Yesterday” (BoS) showcase Wylde’s Greg Allman styling, a direction he attempted on Shot to Hell with less success. Mafia, his best record yet, fills the discs midsection with “Suicide Messiah”, “Fire It Up” and “In This River”, a song he still dedicates to Dimebag Darrell every night they play live. Stronger than Death (2000) and Blessed Hellride (2003) both get two tracks apiece and the spotty 1919 Eternal (2002) and Hangover Music VI (2004) get one. The acoustic Allentown sessions of “Spoke In The Wheel” and Stillborn” are interesting but can’t compete with the DVD footage.

The DVD is the real reason to pick this set up. Five of the best BLS videos are there for repeat viewing including “Stillborn”, “Suicide Messiah”, “In The River”, “Fire It Up” and newby “New Religion”. Three songs, “All For You”, “13 Years of Grief” and “Bleed for Me” are lifted off the Boozed, Broozed & Broken-Boned 2003 DVD while “Spoke In The Wheel” is from the 2006’s Doom Troopin – European Invasion which, incidentally is essential viewing for the “Ironman” interlude alone. The hidden treasure is the “Welcome to the Compound” live interview outtakes with Wylde in his home. True to form we visit the guitarist working out and drinking beer, showing off his guitars (and Barbie collection) while drinking beer and four-wheeling with Dimebag drinking beer. His unique sense of humor is actually quite charming – in an Ozzy sort of way. He’s diatribe on selected songs in also an interesting reference for fans on how the songs were constructed or how certain lyrics came to be, through his muttering requires subtitles.

Website: Black Label Society, Eagle Rock Entertainment

MILLION DOLLAR RELOAD
Anthems of a Degeneration
Lime Records

We totally dig this record, so if you're looking for an unbiased review – move on. After our love affair with Jaded Sun we strike gold with yet another Irish band, this one from Belfast. Before you even read this, go buy the record – it’s a monster. Leading the charge for these AC/DC-styled gutter rats is lead singer, Phil Conalane who plays some wicked bar room boogie piano. He’s joined by guitarists’ and backing vocals Andy Mack and a dude named ‘Bam’. Then there’s bassist Kie McMurray and drummer Davy Cassa to round it out. The five-piece have been working on this platter for a couple years, hence the stretch to 15 songs. Conalane’s a spot on ringer for Bon Scott, even throwing a shadow over the legend in “The Last Icon”, but that doesn’t pigeon-toe the band in only one direction. The bass-driven “Dead Like You (Freeloader)” is more Detroit rock with Nugent riffs and a tasty chorus. The staccato “You Can’t Stop Me From Flying” is more a kin to Buckcherry, LA Guns or even Gothenburg’s Hardcore Superstar with just enough sleaze to paste it on the Hollywood walk of fame.

Still, there is plenty of guitar-blazin’ whiplash as the band scorch through the massive hit “Livin’ In The City”. Take your pick – is it a Gun and Roses b-side, a Darkness outtake or a lucky punch into the midnight air? Whatever you make of it, it lands these boys on classic rock soil straight out of the box. This kind of muscle never sounded so good as “Tattoos and Dirty Girls”, a tribute to their wayward lifestyle - and if that tickles your fancy, jump to “Fire Your Guns”, “International Anthem” and “Give It All” for a wind up of AC/DC meets Black Crowes. The arena blood runs deep in the vains as they snag the hook and load it up with Texas boogie hot sauce. Oh, and don’t let the “Uncle Tom Cabin” intro throw you off on disc opener “Get It Up”. They dust those Warrant pussies off the map with some really meat and potatoes twin guitar harmonies and gut-kickin’ rhythms. Our pick for the defining track is the head-slammin’ “Superslave” that begs volume behind it. Even the breezy 6-minute “Travel” stops the madness just long enough to appreciate the band’s incredible musicianship and skill in capturing a quintessential road ballad. Highly recommended.

Website: Million Dollar Reload, Lime Records 

ORANGE SKY
Dat Iz Voodoo
StarCity Records

A couple years ago we reviewed the debut, Upstairs form this Trinidad three-piece. Dat Iz Voodoo is their second disc and finds the Rasta-haired islanders playing much heavier while still continuing to experiment with a hybrid of sounds that range from The Wailers to Black Sabbath. Their unique blend of reggae and rock is an acquired taste but when you checkout their cover of the Scorpions “Is There Anybody There” it all comes into focus. They could be the modern equivalent to Living Color with a splash of the Caribbean freshness. Combining talents, brothers Nigel (singer/guitarist) and Nicholas (bassist ) Rojas together with rhythm guitarist Dion Howe, keyboardist Richard Hall, and drummer Obasi Springer spread their personal tastes over 12 infectious grooves. The album’s opener “Yesterdays & Tomorrows” is a thick, riff-fest that chugs with the force of the titanic steam room. Lyrically it feeds from political injustice and the frustration that breed discontent of government and corruption. A topic revisited in crushing “Psycho World” and funk-metal “Dark Room.”

Interspersed are the melodic compositions that counter the doom with thought provoking elements that range from the tearful cries of  “Alone” (a promising hit) and twin-guitar rumbler “Roses” to the more direct “Run” and “The End”. The guitars are astonishingly profound – almost Zakk Wylde in places where the squeal is let out of the amp in quick, biting bursts. The drums are bombastic and the production clean. They obviously spent time and money to get the sound just right. Jeff Glixman’s (Kansas, Gary Moore, Saxon) name appears under their team of producers, which would explain the dense level they achieve. Even the more sedate “Rainbows” and piano-laced “Never” are punctuated with colorful layers of dynamic contrasts and ten-ton hooks. Reminiscent of Quickness-era Bad Brains with a new age crunch has these dread-lock warriors of metal delivering one of this years most unique, complex and satisfying discs to date. Check ‘em out on tour opening up a string of dates with Texas metal legends King's X.

Website: Orange Sky

BILLY WHITE TRIO
Illusionation
Grooveyard Records

What ever happened to this guy? We did an interview with Billy back in 1990 right after he joined Don Dokken’s solo band replacing not only the genius George Lynch but Norwegian shredder John Norum. He was nervous about his chops but after the release of Up From The Ashes and subsequent tour, he proved to be up for the task. White’s previous experience was in the Austin, TX underground prog-metal band WatchTower. His unique ability to play a number of styles led him to form the Billy White Trio in 1994. He’s no longer pushing stadium riffs as his focus is more about amped-up Texas blues and extended jams. Illusionation is more of a compilation of his past couple of records. From this huge 16 tracker, White originally released the first 12 songs back in 1996 under the same title. Production-wise they sound the same with only the tracking order different. The remaining four songs were pulled from the 1995 EP Sistershootingstar with a smoking live version of that record’s lead-in number “Cookie Cutter”. All of which, in their original form, have been long out of print.

Repackaged with slick new art including some current pictures of White crankin on his Les Paul give the whole thing an added spark of freshness. Back is the edgy “Nectarine”, the laid-back ‘70s vibe of “Ashes From The Sun” and the distorted yet melodic “13-Second Blackout”. It’s interesting how the songs mix classic ‘70s rock with ‘90s alt rock including flashes of In City Dreams-era Robin Trower, the atmosphere of fellow Texan Eric Johnson and even heavier Collective Soul. White says in the disc’s liner-notes, “it seems like another lifetime ago. We spent many live shows exploring the boundaries and possibilities within an electric rock trio.” Some of those experiments are heard in the eclectic “Up The Ladder Down” and “The Moth and the Flame” where the arrangements become more Rush-inspired. Whereas “Twelve”, the twangy “No Other” and “Cookie Cutter” are 3 Doors Down heavy. Lots of funky grooves as the trio trip out to a loose, blues-based, alt rock packed with White’s signature biting guitar and soulful voice capturing the emotion of a band blossoming into a power trio sunburst.

Website: Grooveyard Records

DOZER
Beyond Colossal
Small Stone Records

Swedish band Dozer are still at it releasing their fifth, almost boastful, elpee, Beyond Colossal. From the early days of “Let the Shit Roll” these guys have always had that Fu Manchu, Kyuss, Nebula vibe. They embrace the fuzzed out, distorted riff and plugged it into a stack of Marshall’s – fully cranked. Gotta tell ya, the first thing to grab our attention was Neil Fallon’s (Clutch) guest spot on a couple tracks. That dude is everywhere these days. Before we touch on his highlights, it’s important to note this is easily the heaviest, slowest and darkest record the band has produced yet. There are still melody lines but not as overtly catchy as Through the Eyes of Heathens (2006). It’s like Kiss Destroyer verses Motörhead Iron First. “The Throne” is the monster here, packing on the weight and laying it down with earthshaking density - everything going into the red. “Bound for Greatness” harnesses the keyboard eeriness of the Band turning it into a stoned-out blanket of despair. The guitars clean up for the moaning “Exoskeleton (Part II)” while the drums hammer out a neck-jarring bang in “Grand Inquisitor”. Fallon steps in on the foot-tapping “Empire’s End” which borrows the hook from the Stones’ “Paint It Black” giving the tune a swift kick and gallop. The Clutch-man also duets on seven-minute “Two Coins for Eyes”, the closest thing to Soundgarden you’re gone hear this year. However, “The Flood” will be what folks will be talking about years from now. Brilliant

Website: Dozer, Small Stone

VALIS
Dark Matter
Small Stone

Must admit – this one caught us off-guard. From the Iommi-like riff of opener “Resurrection Sickness” to the power surge of “Battleship” a new favorite was born. The Seattle-based four-piece might be on to something as they pull from Tool, Mudhoney and Tad with plenty of attention paid to the U-District’s second-hand record stores. Van Conner (Screaming Tress) made the band official ten years ago and now shares the glory with younger brother and guitarist Patrick Conner, bassist Adrian Makins and drummer Matt Vandenberghe. Noticeable is the band’s shift from space stoner rock to more melodic riff rock with plenty of catchy hooks for immediate impact. They still dig the fuzz, but frame it into polished nuggets of lasting freshness. Van does his best Ozzy on the southern-fried “Daylight In The Swamps” the stoned out mellowness of “Under Satan’s Will” and the bluesy pop romp “Down Like Rain”. Little brother Pat takes over vocal duties on the peyote dance “Blood On Blood”, the cosmic “Hands Of Grace” and Tom Waits-inspired acoustic “Everyone Sun” which become a duet of sorts. Producer Jack Endino even lends his ‘heavy guitar “ on the eleven-minute “Battleship”. Stretching out into the more commercial corners of the universe, doesn’t change the effectiveness of Dark Matter’s ability to remain firmly rooted in heavy rhythms while exploring the catchier side of songwriting.

Website: Valis, Small Stone

THE BLACK CROWES
Warpaint – Live
Eagle Records

A return to active recording after a seven-year hiatus saw last year’s Warpaint continue The Black Crowes progression into southern-tinged blues with rock elements similar to The Band and Allman Brothers. Adjusting their style from a Faces/Humble Pie beginning to a current jam band mixture of Gov’t Mule, Grateful Dead and even Phish has tested their fan-base. Warpaint Live tries to smooth over the bumps of evolution and give the listener a balanced menu of where the band is today. The first disc of the two-disc package includes a track-by-track “live” replica of the studio record while the second recaps a set of covers and Robinson Bros classic. Recorded in Los Angels, the live setting is stimulating and energetic. Having allowed the studio Warpaint to settle in, the stronger songs pull the audience along with whirling force, and even the wistful nuances in “Oh Josephine” and “Whoa Mule” are captivating. A good example is the fourth track “Evergreen” when the audience’s pulse jumps as they welcome the Zeppelin-like riff and fill the chorus with several thousand voices.

One can’t help but feel these songs are old. They have a ghost-like quality to them, as if you’re listening to the soundtrack of the Civil War. The production is noticeably off balance with the guitar and rhythm section turned way up while the vocals remain in the shadow. It’s haunting with headphones. Maybe it’s because “Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution” sets such a strong pace. Slow and hypnotic, the beat allows both guitar and piano/organ to cut in with equal dynamics while the Stones-like minor chord drop is dirty and effective. “Wounded Bird” was always a favorite and live is bigger and just as rusty except in the chorus where it escapes into the moody organ. Several tracks benefit from their layered composition that’s reminiscent of The Band. “There’s Gold in Them Hills” is one that just squeezes the grit and blood from every note. (The giddy laughter from the audience should have been removed as it’s a real spoiler on such a great song). Second disc has the familiar Stones cover “Torn and Frayed”, a raucous “Darling of the Underground Press” and the Southern Harmony cherry “Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye”.

Website: The Black Crowes, Eagle Records

PAUL RAYMOND PROJECT
Virtual Insanity
Independent Release

After nearly 42 years as a professional musician Paul Raymond can claim his rightful place among rock’s elite. At seventeen, he joined his first band Plastic Penny. In 1967, a year later, he replaced Christine Perfect (Fleetwood Mac) in British blues band Chicken Shack. By 1969 Raymond found his way into Savoy Brown and there recorded some of their most aggressive work including Hellbound Train (’72), Fire Wire (75) and Skin and Bone (’76). In 1976 he was asked to join UFO and contributed to their three biggest selling records Lights Out (‘77), Obsession (’78) and the live Strangers in the Night (’79). He joined Michael Schenker for the 1981 MSG record, and then moved to Waysted and back to UFO in 1985 where he has remained ever sense. In between UFO gigs Raymond has continued to grow and mature as an artist releasing several solo projects that range from rock to jazz. His latest effort Virtual Insanity is firmly planted in the UFO hard rock vein and is co-written, played and produced by Andy Simmons.

Fans will immediately respond to Simmons’ Schenker-like fret runs. The ex-Static / Snowblind guitarist lights it up on the heavy-handed opener “Edge of Sanity” with a titanic riff and chugging pace. Raymond plays all keys, rhythm guitar and lends his seasoned baritone throughout giving the songs an authentic, gritty edge. A number of influences can be heard including the rough and ready “Exorcise the Demon” which harkens back to old school AC/DC meets The Rolling Stones – Raymond’s favorite band. “Bad Hair Day” pulls from Zappa and Alice Cooper with Raymond closely mimicking Cooper’s voice inflection as the guitars fuel a classic ‘70’s rumble. A couple oddities add interest and depth including the unusual “Michael Caine”, a song Raymond wrote about the actor.  He tried to squeeze every one of Cain’s film titles into the lyrics, “The man who would be king / steal your heart away.” The delicate acoustic-based ballad “The Rest Is History: is a refreshing refrain with Raymond adding gentle chapel-like organ bits into a reflective Rod Stewart vocal. An immensely powerful composition is the framework of UFO’s “Try Me.”

Two years in the making, Virtual Insanity gave Raymond and Simmons plenty of time to let ideas gel into fruition, but the spontaneous instrumental “Where’s My Bike” written after Simmons got his bike stolen is a smokin’ Satriani ball-buster. The energy is a nice rocket ride mid-way through the record. The second half plays like a tribute to rock history with the honky tonk Beatle-esque “Shangri-La” where Raymond pays tribute primarily to John Lennon. Our favorite track, “Don’t Hide Your Love Away” is a mid-tempo rocker that has Free written all over it - complete with an Andy Fraser walking bass line. Both “A Debt of Gratitude” and “No Turning Back” are churning hard rock blues and “Too Late For Love” could have fit nicely on Mott the Hoople’s Brain Capers. Tightly spun and wonderfully executed Virtual Insanity shows us the other side of Raymond with all his personality gems nestled into one fine package. Simmons, also a graphic illustrator, contributed the cover. A bit dark and brooding, yet raw and intriguing – much like the music it encases.

Website: Paul Raymond

EAT A PEACH
The Smokehouse Sessions (E.P.)
Independent Release

With a name like Eat a Peach, one would expect there would be an enormous Allman Brother influence throughout this five-track EP yet, for the Liverpool-based four-piece, their brand of electric-blues is far more metallic. After a name change from Terraplane to their current moniker, the group has adjusted their sound in an effort to purse a more hard rock direction that pulls from the grizzly ‘70s. Still blues-based but with a distorted fuzz – they come off like Alice Cooper with a slab of Norwegian stoner tossed in around tasty Michael Bruce riffs. “A Matter of Days” kicks off with a nice high-hat rattle before a wooly stampede of guitar and bass barrelroll into a stoner freakout. The song is a loose cooker with a smashing mid-section. Adding color, “Sister Your Picture” is a wicked little snake charmer soaked in cowpunk blues. A bit like Aussie band The Datsuns joining forces with George Thorogood, it builds on a rockabilly beat over some dirty slide that turns the track into a toe-tapper with a big hook chorus. The vocals are a key standout and with their delicate use in “I Do Declare” it showcases unexpected passion as the band ramp up into a storming riff and Trower-like solo break. The Scotty Moore-influenced  “Smokehouse” has a swagger that walks the line of rock’s early roots and is bolstered by another sidewinding fret run. The five-minute plus “Chrysanthemum Blues” returns to the fuzz guitar that started off the record with a chunky hook and sonic drum punch guaranteed to shiver your bones. Already turning dates with Red Light Company, blues-legend Mike Pini and The Doors Live, Eat A Peach are ripe for the pickin’.

Website: Eat A Peach

KAMCHATKA
Volume III
Super Puma Records

Volume III is the third installment from this Swedish power trio and has them crafting a number of stellar tracks that breathe of warm, classic vinyl. As fans of ‘60s – early ‘70s rock, guitarist Thomas Juneor Andersson, bassist Roger Öjersson and drummer Tobias Strandvik have become skilled at combining the elements of blues, stoner and psychedelic genres, making them work in spirited tandem. In our past reviews we’ve hailed their Robin Trower allegiance and called them a “groovy version of Opeth.”  With Volume III they reach out into Southern rock, jazz and some interesting, complex time signatures. There’s the Grand Funk riff-fest of “Pathetic” that opens to a keen jazz mid-section, the Uriah Heep-like “Look Over Your Shoulder” with Per Wiberg of Opeth pounding away at the organ. Then there’s the funky, Yes-inspired cover of the Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post” featuring Clutch drummer Jean-Paul Gaster.  Adding to their palette has only increased their appetite for writing timeless music with just the right hook.

We hear shades of Desolation Angels-era Bad Company in the upbeat “681” with some amazing, yet subdued slide work. “Astrobucks” is total 70s pop, with the clever lyric line, “My ambition needs nutrition” while the vocal interplay between Andersson and Öjersson is a textbook study in harmony. The Sledgehammer “See” basks in Deep Purple with Andersson’s solo moving from interesting to innovative and provocative. It’s that certain element of comfort playing that can manage a King Crimson / Wishbone Ash mash-up like “Outnumbered” and blindside it with the folksy, Zeppelin beauty of “Guess I’ll Be Leaving”. For us, the reason we buy this ticket is for the pure, head banging enjoyment of “Confession’s” tribute to Sabbath and “Wood’s” heavy metal ring complete with Tull-ish lyrics. Though, after many plays, the instrumental “Sorg” is our standout pick as it drips with trippy, haunting blues tones and just enough backbeat to push it into a metallic landslide, then bring it back again to a moody, melodic whisper. Outstanding!

Website: Kamchatka, CD Baby