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Vidunder
Vidunder
Crusher Records

Formed in 2011, in Malmö, Sweden, Vidunder is a power rock trio consisting of Martin Prim (vocals and guitar), Linus Larsson (bass), and Jens Rasmussen (drums). The three draw from a number of influences including classic and blues rock (Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Cream) as well as contemporaries Opeth, Graveyard and Witchcraft. The band signed with Crusher Records not long after forming and released a single Asmodeus on 7” vinyl. Their self-titled debut is now upon our shores and is sure to turn heads of ‘70s groove rockers. The band have kept their brand of retro rock simple, heavy and beautifully crafted. “Into Her Grave” is the record’s single and showcases Prim’s high-pitched, ethereal and haunting vocals. His guitar playing is more laid back with a lot of strumming keeping the energy of the disc organic and melodic. The track also features John Hoyles on lead guitar from Witchcraft/Troubled Horse. The rhythm section is about feel, mood and groove. There are no special effects or gimmicks just blues-based hard rock played the way only Swedes know how to do it.

The cover features the faces of the band members with Vidunder written above. It’s reminiscent of album covers by ‘60s and ‘70s groups like The Beatles’ With The Beatles and Dr. Hook’s Sloppy Seconds. The charm of the album is that it sneaks up on you. The more direct heavy rockers “Threat From The Underground” and “Summoning The Not Living” stand out because the other eight tracks are lustfully mid-tempoed. The lyrics are mournful and haunting as most of the record is steeped in a darker realm with songs about ghosts, demons and the underworld. Yet, the organ-infused “Trees”, the bounce of “Försummad Och Bortglömd (Neglected and Forgotten)” and the slow/heavy “Beware The Moon” are blissfully hypnotic and caressingly memorizing. The comparisons to Graveyard and Witchcraft are undeniable but the band still pack plenty of their own originality – especially in the guitar solos. First single “Asmodeus” returns to the long player and finds itself in good company with the gorgeous ballad “Fire” and chilling mood-setter “Your Ghost” reminiscent of early Free.

Website: Vidunder, Crusher Records

AUDREY HORNE
Youngblood
Napalm Records

Norwegian rockers Audrey Horne make a BIG noise with their third outing Youngblood. Most shocking is how far they’ve come as songwriter in the last year and a half. Guitarist Arve Isdal (ex-Enslaved), and partner-in-crime guitarist Thomas Tofthagen (ex-Sahg) have created some of the most dynamic riffs since vintage Van Halen, Foreigner and JLT-era Rainbow. Vocalist Torkjell Rød Toschie showcases his massive pipes while drummer Jetil Greve with bassist Espen Lien (Bass) lay down some serious Mad Max thunder. The hooks just keep coming as the album’s rich flavor and massive tuneage bring back tons of retro ‘70s and ‘80s influences. The first chords of “Redemption Blues” could easily be off Iron Maiden’s Piece of Mind with twin guitar fury and a sonic blast that hails the resurrection of Eddie’s ghost. When the galloping bass kicks in it’s 1984 all over again. No time to catch your breath comes the Rainbow-esque “Straight Into Your Grave” with a dazzling array of vocal gymnastics.

The crowning jewel comes early as the album’s title track “Youngblood” burst forth in a mind-blowing ode to Foreigner complete with a hook-filled chorus and blazing riff not to mention a heavy-handed drum beat. Within the first three songs the record has paid for its self in golden ear awards. But then comes “There Goes A Lady”. We’ve waited all year for a song this good. It’s classic Rainbow with a foot stomping bass that’s backed up by a killer Jon Lord organ riff. The chills start to climb as the vocals tell a shanty tale over a spine-tingling guitar. If you don’t hit repeat several time – there’ something wrong with you. “Show and Tell”, “Cards with the Devil” and “This Ends Here” follow suite with one of the grandest tributes to the best of ‘80s cock rock. Organ-infused ballad “The Open Sea” capitalizes on the records nautical theme with a Celtic-like swagger. “The King is Dead” polishes the record off with another powerful riff and memorable chorus bringing to light old Q5 or early Riot with lots of room for the melody to take full effect.

Website: Audrey Horne, Napalm Records

ALL THEM WITCHES
Our Mother Electricity
Elektrohasch Records

It’s nice to hear there are still bands making great music in the States. We’ve been focusing so much on Europe that All Them Witches almost slipped by. Funny, they came to our attention through their German label Elektrohasch Records. The Nashville, TN three-piece play psychedelta: gutsy stoner blues / psych rock with lots of ‘70s groove and roaring guitar. The southern rock element and their darker lyrics add another level to the band’s unusual flare. All the filler has been stripped away leaving the recording clean, sparse and relevant. The first track, “Heavy/Like A Witch” is Black Keys deep with dual vocalizing and intense moments of doom accompanied by a haunting organ. Where as “The Urn” sounds straight from the back woods with country twang, slide guitar and a raw drum kick. Best break up line “I’ll but your ashes in the urn.” Yet, it’s the band’s subtlety in delivering heavy music in a very refined, melodic almost quite way that’s pure magic.

The album travels through fast paced rockers, soulful grooves and slower quite tracks. A trilogy of tunes seems to be about hunting. “Bloodhounds” is a prowling guitar-driven track that maximizes on the band’s musicality. “Guns”, the record’s epic, is a hook riff over a slow plodding drum beat and steady bass that builds into a heart-pounding political stain. “Elk.Blood.Heart” is another Black Keys moment as it allows the mood of music and lyrics to drive forward with powerful emotion. The trilogy ends with the tribal beat and sirens of “Until It Unwinds” a funky, piano laced blues pop track where the slide guitar and echoed vocals are cosmic Skynyrd. The group’s ode to Zeppelin’s “Battle of Evermore” is “Family Song For The Leaving”. Its folk structure and chilling story telling sounds a hundred years old. “Easy” and the Skynyrd-like “Right Hand” are southern gospel with rock and blues in the mix. “I Can’t Even See Myself” is a bonus track and worth getting for it classic southern rock riffs.

Website: All Them Witches, Elektrohasch Records

BLACK DEBBATH
Nei, nå får det faen meg være rock! Akademisk stoner-rock
Duplex Records

They call themselves “Heavy Politically Incorrect Humor Rock” and unless you speak Norwegian, you might miss out on the humor of Black Debbath. They are a satirical cross-pollination of Sabbath and Motörhead with witty lyrics and comical videos. Formed in 1999 the quartet has released five albums, the last one in 2007. After a “Greatest Hits” package in 2009 some thought the group were all but dead until the release of Nei, nå får det faen meg være rock! Akademisk stoner-rock (probably the longest title ever). The offering is a splendid collection of ten satirical songs with aggressive guitars and a hellhamer rhythm section. Their video for “Nei til runkesti på Ekeberg! (Skulpturpark-låta)” has already logged 70K views on YouTube while their busy summer tour schedule proves their fans are just a loyal as ever. The new disc picks up where they left off five years ago.

First track “Slaver av humoren (Slaves of humor)” jumps right in with metal riffing and unyielding bass drive. Laughter is splattered about in the backing track signaling the group don’t take themselves to seriously. Politically inspired lyrics poke fun at the Norwegian Bjornson Research as if they were issues of international importance all sung over a well-crafted heavy metal framework. Amongst the mayhem are songs about a clean room “Rydd rommet”, a dirty kitchen cloth that can’t be changed often enough ”Bytt kjøkkenklut oftere! and an open letter to Professor Jon Bing in connection with decisions on the establishment of a Data Retention Directive (the noble intentions tyranny)”, all highly relevant issues that need the people’s attention…at least according to Black Debbath. Without a working knowledge of Norwegian it all sounds like damn good heavy metal that one mumbles along to. The choruses are memorable and the musicianship is top-notch. Check ‘em out!

Website: Black Debbath, Duplex Records

BLACK STAR RIDERS
All Hell Breaks Loose
Nuclear Blast

Ok, so it’s not perfect but for diehard fans of Thin Lizzy this is as good as we’re gonna get. The Black Star Riders are part of the touring band that called themselves Thin Lizzy two years ago because founding member Brian Downey (drummer) and classic-era guitarist Scott Gorham we in the lineup. For contractual (and probably a bit of guilt) reasons, the band changed their name to Black Star Riders (BSR) and continued on with Jimmy DeGrasso (drummer), Marco Mendoza (bass), Ricky Warwick (vocals/guitar) and Damon Johnson (guitar). Produced by Kevin Shirley, there’s no disguising the intent of All Hell Breaks Loose. It is meant to rally Lizzy fans again and give the opportunity for the band to play and the fans to hear those classic cuts one more time. They also wanted a forum to write new material but still have that “Lizzy” vibe. “Bound For Glory” went to radio as the lead single because of its universal appeal. Lizzy fans will spot the twin guitars, retro groove and Warwick’s well-honed Lynott-like sneer immediately. Other similarities are heard in the Gallic “Kingdom of the Lost” and ballad “Hey Judas”.

Aside from subtle shades of Lizzy the band do forge their own territory. The title track “All Hell Breaks Loose” is a solid effort and return to ‘70s hard rock with a modern punch. The galloping “Bloodshot” and bombastic “Valley Of The Stones” stand independent of Lizzy connections with loads of energy and crack-shot playing. The record stays upbeat most of the way through as “Kissin The Ground” and “Hoodoo Voodoo” keep the band steeped in their dedication to the electric blues. With three guitarists in the band it would be easy to over do it yet, BSR find common ground giving everyone their time in the spotlight without complete saturation. Granted there are fractions of their old bands creeping in like the cascading “Someday Salvation” and the Irish influence of “Before the War” but when they converge to create “Blues Ain’t So Bad” its pure genius and ready for the next generation of the legacy that gave us Jailbreak, Bad Reputation and Live & Dangerous.

Website: Black Star Riders, Nuclear Blast

FREE FALL
Power & Volume
Nuclear Blast

I love this record. Fans of The Soundtrack of Our Lives might scratch their head but if you’ve seen their guitarist Mattias Bärjed live you’ll recognize this is a natural progression. Calling themselves “Freedom Rock”, Free Fall, led by Bärjed, reinvigorate the classic ‘70s hard rock sound and manage to come up with something they can call their own. Influenced by bands like Led Zeppelin, UFO, AC/DC and Judas Priest the band oozes classic rock ‘n’ roll at its finest. The dry production style of Power & Volume gives their music a very vintage feel that puts them on top of retro rockers still struggling to capture the right vibe. Kim Fransson’s raspy, high-pitched vocals immediately bring to mind a bit of Bon Scott as he powers through the album’s title track “Power & Volume”. When he claims, “I’m the king of rock ‘n’ roll” you believe it! The rhythm section of bassist Jan Martens and drummer Ludwig Dahlberg also give songs like “Midnight Vultures”, “Top of the World” and “Meat” a signature beat the band will build on for years.

High-energy guitar leads showcase Bärjed as he tares through “World Domination” and “Love Bombing”. His tone changes often to ignite and refine the texture of the song. In some instances it’s distortion on overload but in others, like the easy-going “Free Fall” his subtle and diversified style naturally find its way to a memorable hook. The six-minute “Attila” with it’s slow drum beat and suppressed bass line demonstrates how the band can improvise a muted guitar, add some piano and move through The Who, AC/DC and Accept without loosing a step. For all the refinery of “Attila” the crashing angst of “Meriola Blues” is what makes this band so exciting. They leverage a MC5-meets-Stooges attack while crafting a pristine, gorgeously produced slice of wax with the un-nerving addiction of gut wrenching rock ‘n’ roll. For their first time out of the gates, Free Fall have an uncanny knack for classic heavy rock. They utilized a very organic feel, build on solid compositions and take just enough inspiration from their rock idols to come up with their own interpretation of perfection.

Website: Free Fall, Nuclear Blast

STILETTO FARM
Bad Reception EP
Independent Release

This three-piece bottle of nitro claim to be “the most pissed off band in the world” yet listening to their two-track EP they sound more like Kiss-meets-Keel. 1970’s throwback “Bad Reception” jumps from the speakers like a turbo-charged Camaro. The vocal is pure Ace Frehley delivered with a sneer and a wink all in the same line. The guitar has a nice crunch while the bass/drums rumble with a big ‘ol thud. The production is classic hard rock with a slice of dirty ‘80s metal. Comparisons to The Rods come to mind as does vintage Raven and Strength of Steel-era Anvil. Very promising. On the flip side is “Strawberry Sundae Red” which dances along under the glow of sunset-strip sleaze. It benefits from a great guitar riff, piercing tone and raw squeal. The vocals are more guttural mixing a bit of Crüe and Motorhead into their energetic punk stomp. Still trying to make their way through a hurricane of influences and testosterone, they have the attitude and musicality to see them through.

Website: Stiletto Farm

STONE COLD KILL
Out For Blood
Independent Release

Hailed as “No frills, no fuss, all metal” by Powerplay Magazine, these young guns have Heavy Metal cruising through their veins. Front man Ralph Robinson is the son of ASOMVEL guitarist Lenny Robinson while both he and guitarist T-Bone are nephews of the late, great, ASOMVEL front man, Jay-Jay Winter. Drummer Kyle ‘Goose’ Corrigan rounds out the power trio in a frenzy of prizefight hammering. The recent release of their 5-track EP Out For Blood is a take-no-prisoners onslaught with a fist full of raging licks, badass bass and bombastic brutality. Already a radio hit, opening track “Cheap Faker” is a bloodthirsty hellhound with Judas Priest riffing and Tank-like growl. Following close on its heels is “Dead Man Walking” with a surge of feedback and hook chorus where the guitar calisthenics are a premium. The bass-driven title track “Out for Blood” uses staccato guitar to full effect while slamming out a killer biker anthem. “Nothing to Lose” and “Incineration” are fast-paced and action-packed delivered with no mercy and determined to kick your ass. A monster first timer!

Website: Stone Cold Kill

LU SILVER
Voices, Harmony & Strings
Go Down Records

Italian rock vocalist Lu Silver came to prominence as lead singer for the high-octane four-piece The Small Jackets. As the main songwriter and co-founder of the band, he dedicated himself to bringing the struggling group up through the ranks, recording three critically acclaimed albums and playing endless gigs throughout Italy and Europe. In 2012, Silver split from the band to pursue a solo career and the amazing Voices, Harmony & String is the result of his effort. From its bluesy electric intro we get an immediate sense of Silver’s admiration for Bob Dylan, The Beatles and Joe Cocker. As his whiskey-soaked voice rumbles into “A Song for You” over a piano cascade, it’s clear Silver has opened up his heart for all to hear. Emotionally charged, dramatically simple and beautifully played, the artist purges his soul in the country-tinged “Broken Promises”, the acoustic-led cinematic “Save Me” and the riveting ballad “See Me in the Rain”. Silver can seduce, mesmerize and captive all with in the range a single song, a skill very few writers can evoke.

The singer has surrounded himself with a stable of musicians that not only capture his musical vision but also celebrate it with guitar, saxophone and stringed orchestration. Much of the album plays out like the veil of a motion picture with songs “Life and Love” (featuring Silver on Harmonica), the delicately fragile “Sister Butterfly” and elegantly crafted instrumental “Desolation” to accompany the soundtrack. When Silver rocks, it’s with a western edge reminiscent of The Marshall Tucker Band, Poco and The Flying Burrito Brothers. The Spaghetti Western “The Same Old Song” is a glimpse into the creative mind of the artist as he sings “I like country, I like punk rock. I like soul, jive and blues…because music is emotion.” The track remains a glorious musical diary of a man’s most raw and personal connection. The collaboration with Germany singer/songwriter Conny Ochs on “Rollin’ Down” is one of this years most incredible duets while the Neil Young-inspired “I’ve Got Time” comes around full circle to Silver’s root. Basking in ‘70s AOR is the maritime shanty “Sail Away” where one can envision Silver, acoustic guitar in hand, at a Cesenatico pub on the edge of the Adriatic Sea.

Website: Go Down Records

FATSO JETSON
Live At Maximum Festival
Go Down Records

American desert rock band Fatso Jetson celebrate their 20th anniversary with Live at Maximum Festival recorded in Zero Branco (Treviso), Italy. The album’s eight tracks capture the five-piece in full flight. Credited as the Godfather’s of desert (stoner) rock made famous by Kyuss, Fu Manchu and Queens of the Stone Age, Fatso Jetson incorporate a broader variety of musical influences including punk and surf. Their delicious stew of musical diversity is on hand as they plow through “Tutta Dorma” a combination of feedback and sonic fuzz. The fusion of guitarists Mario Lalli and Dino Von Lalli is exotic, weird and often psychedelic. Rhythm section Larry Lalli (bass) and Tony Tornay (drums) keep the bottom end thick and groovy allowing the guitars to wind their way through an ever-expanding soundscape. As with most live recordings, the listener is transported to a moment in time made all the more organic with the occasional technical difficulties. Which leave “Orgy Porgy” and “Bored Stiff” sounding far more dangerous in their live setting than their studio counterpart.

The onstage banter between band and audience is comical like in the gap before “Flesh Trap Blues” when Mario shouts out, “Does anybody know Gabriele from The Black Rainbows – he’s a bro.” Then the band jump into the classic fuzzed out blues jam. The hypnotic “Nightmares Are Essential” is more comfortable sitting alongside Rush and Tool than retro stoner outfits where as “Salt Chunk Mary” is balls-to-the-wall rock complete with heavy as hell guitars on a roaring attack. A distorted bass echoes through the amp introducing “Too Many Skulls” where the four-piece drift into heavy prog rock territory. It’s gets a bit convoluted but towards the end of the eight-minute jam they pull it back together again for a tripped out finish. Fatso Jetson close the set with encore “Magma” from the Chris Goss (Masters of Reality) produced Toasted. They push and pull waiting for something to break, but it holds fast to its lumbering riff. Order Fatso Jetson’s Live at Maximum Festival on green vinyl here.

Website: Go Down Records

THE SADE
II
Go Down Records

Ripped straight out to the pages of hard rock fury comes The Sade’s sophomore LP simply titled II. The threesome never let up on the gas as they blaze through ten high-energy ballbusters with all the ferocity of a devil’s spawn cyclone. Leading the pack is “Latrodectus” a four-minute instrumental that cross cuts guitar leads with a pounding rhythm. Blinding solos are in abundance as the band reach optimum speed blazing a trail of scorching madness. Their gothic fascination with destruction begins with the turbo-charged “End of My World”. Shades of Type O Negative, Danzig and even The Doors creep into this jewel as it struts its way through lyrical darkness. The motif continues with “The Last Day on Earth” plunging deeper in to Field of Nephilim-Sisters of Mercy territory with uncanny precision. The guitars become more bombastic and brazen as the drums beat a tribal calling to the undead in “Before the Death”. Not for the faint of hearted, the song growls with intensity bordering on frantic punk.

Only in the slower, more groove-centered, “Not for Glory” do we hear how incredible tied to the rhythm section the guitars can be. Stunning to think all this clashing, thrashing and bashing is conjured up by a humble three-piece. Masterminding the guitar assault is Andrew Pozzy who plays everything from acoustic, classical and electric to the piano. It’s also his deep baritone that sends shivers up your spine as he sings his brooding lyrics. Brothers Mark (bass) and Mat (drums) Sade keep a solid grip on the rumbling engine. The heavy drum in “Ballad of the Black Moon” gives the six-minute (plus) monster a larger-than-life presence while the bludgeoning bass beat of “The Werewolf” is the ideal counterpoint for the ram shackled guitar. Fan’s of the darker side of life, the trio inject a Misfits-like power chord riff in the sinister “Black Demon” and soak “Lovekiller” in a loaded stack of amplified distortion. A nod to Johnny Cash is heard in last track “Devil's Song” where harmonica and lap-steel guitar paint a ghostly Tex-Mex musical landscape while Pozzy croons, “My nightmares are my songs.”

Website: Go Down Records

SINISIS
Dreams of a Decade
Independent Release

Sinisis is the brainchild of Swedish musician Anders Jansson. The title presumably represents the time dedicated to the ten songs that make up Dreams of a Decade. The disc is modern with elements of classic rock. Jansson plays guitars, keyboards and percussion. Joining him in the studio was Marcos Ciscar (producer, programming, keyboards, bass and percussion), Sten-Ake Kristiansson (bass) and Niclas Baumann (bass). For a homespun recording, the production is amazingly sharp and crisp. The listener is taken into a room and up a flight of steps. A record player is turned on, the needle drops, a bell tower rings in the distance and the grooves spill out “Down”. The track is atmospheric riding a slow, sustained organ chord. Suddenly, the crunch of a guitar jars one into reality. It’s clear that Jansson has a flare for the dramatic as the song becomes more metal with layered harmonies, lead burst, and a catchy chorus. There is a certain NWOBHM charm as the album broadens into chugging guitars, ambient keyboards and electronic drums, all captured in the six-minute “Head of the Family”.

One can’t help but be catapulted back to the golden age of ‘80’s metal as the record moves through “Restless” with its acoustic intro and classic Scorpions edge. Jansson keeps the guitar rhythmic and powerful allowing the song to build. His true talent is in the ability to write an effective chorus in every composition. “Sleeping Machine” introduces the listener to the incredible voice of Karin Bergqvist. A perfect operatic power-metal voice, she brings emotion and balance to the testosterone-driven affair. Her duet in the piano-laced “This Time” is astonishing as are the other voices that contribute to the ballad’s breathtaking beauty. “Crash’n’Burn” echoes of Queensryche both in composition and expert musicianship but it’s the Megadeth-like “Dark Side” that really get the head bangin’. There are a few odd moments like the mid-tempo sex-charged “Dirty Mind” where New-Wave meets ‘80’s Hair Metal, but the cosmic “Lucid Dream” turns it around with Gregorian chanting, the return of the tower bells, and a chugging rhythm guitar.

Website: Sinisis

MOJO RADIO
Rise
Grooveyard Records

Wisconsin-natives Mojo Radio return with their stellar second disc Rise. The 10-track blues-based hard rock collection is a celebration of early ‘70’s influences and pays tribute to bands like Free, Bad Company, Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The four-piece have fine-tuned their delivery in a sonic shockwave packed with soul, power-house riffs and sensual groove. Singer Adam Zierten has a voice custom-built for ‘70’s rock. His expressive crooning on the grinding “Come Hell or Muddy Water” is essential listening. Guitarist Jason Peterson’s playing is conservative yet emotional. His electric notes are carefully selected and packed with passion as heard best in “War Horse,” a cocky study in testosterone-driven rock ‘n’ roll. Drummer Brent King fills each track with a distinctive patter but it’s in the rumble of “Death of Me” that benefits from his full weight. The thumping “Avalanche” is a musical playground for bassist Scott Aumann and his four-string fury. Level, on the mark, and in the pocket, the combined rhythm section gives the guitar and voice all the room they need to flex and strut.

The organic nature of the group is reminiscent of Cry of Love, early Black Crowes or the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. From the foot-stomping “Torn Asunder” with its Louisiana vibe and talkbox vocals to the tearful dedication of their fallen musical brother Paulie Heenan in “110912”, Mojo Radio excel both as songwriters and musical craftsmen. The gospel-tinged “Darken My Door” sparks the imagination as Zierten plays a holy-roller preacher man accompanied by a church organ before the band jump into a rollicking barnburner made all the more authentic with slide guitar and harmonica. “Hold Your Breath” and “See It Through” come in moments where a ballad brings light, color and emotion to a recording superbly assembled. The songs are made all the more rich as they ebb and flow building in texture and dynamics. Personal favorite, “Changing of the Tide” could easily sit on Bad Company’s debut. A power-blues rocker, the song is etched by slide guitar, wah wah, pounding bass/drums, incredible vocal and a hook chorus. It’s 1974 all over again!

Website: Mojo Radio, Grooveyard Records