Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Zodiac Mindwarp & the Love Reaction - We Are Volsung

Zodiac Mindwarp & the Love Reaction
We Are Volsung

Before Turbonegro, long before Viking Skull, there was Zodiac Mindwarp & the Love Reaction, kicking ass, taking names, raping the horses and riding off on the women. Whether or not Mr. Mindwarp is a very carefully planned longterm satire, a huckster who lost the plot and started believing his own stories, or a serious, hardcore rock & roll motherfucker, there’s no denying the guy and his warped band of space pirates know how to kick out the goddamn jams. The band’s sixth LP, We Are Volsung certainly throws the horns in return for panties, blasting down Satan’s highway with beer cans, coke spoons and battleaxes held high. Cobalt Stargazer recycles every hard rock lick you’ve ever heard like they’re brand new, and Zodiac’s whiskey bent and hellbound sneer sounds as strong as it did 25 years ago. Leering, clichéd, dumb as a bag of Thor’s hammers and, above all, hooky as hard rock hell, Lucille, Stark Von Oben and Don’t Touch My Guitar may be interchangeable, but they’re also irresistible. Screw artistic merit – the world still needs a Love Reaction, and We Are Volsung gives it to us, with the tongue from its cheek down our throats.

- Michael Toland

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Glyder - Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Irish quartet Glyder might be laboring under the shadow of its countryband the Answer when it comes to the crown in the neo-classic rock sweepstakes. But while the latter stays faithful to old-fashioned bluesy hard rock as its meat, potatoes, salad and dessert, Glyder shows a lot more ambition. Hard rock is still the foundation, but the edifice erected on Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow contains bricks of prog rock and girders of radio metal, as if the contractors included Thin Lizzy, Guns ‘N Roses and Asia. No wonder the band’s shared stages with everyone from Def Leppard and Whitesnake to Blue Oyster Cult and Hawkwind. Sometimes it’s an uneasy marriage, as with the sore-thumb synth groove driving Jack Strong or the pop/street metal hybrid of One of Us. It doesn’t help that the slick production gives some of the gnarlier pounders a sheen they don’t need, and singer Tony Cullen, who comes straight from the John Wetton/Greg Lake school, may not be an appropriate choice for some of a dirty rocker like Make a Change. But when the band hits a soaring melody like The Bitter End, Always the Loser or Innocent Eyes, or even abandons hard rock completely with Time to Fly, all the pieces come together and the band hits the marks it sets for itself. Glyder would have ruled AOR radio in the 80s; it remains to be seen whether it can find its place in the niche-oriented music industry of the noughties.

- Michael Toland

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Black River - Black'N'Roll

Black River

Black River is made up of members of Behemoth and Dimmu Borgir, among others, but it’s not a black metal supergroup. Instead, the Polish band hops in a muscle car, pops the top on a brew and blazes down the road with bad intent, chains on wrists, cigs hitting the tarmac and halter-topped chicks in the back seat. BR is hardly the only black metal side project that lets its hair down (see also: Chrome Division, another hard rock & roll outfit made of Dimmu Borgir folks), nor is it necessarily the best. But the band cherrypicks the nasty bits of Motörhead, the Backyard Babies, Black Label Society and the Spiritual Beggars, riffs flowing like beer, rhythms rolling like an avalanche and the sneers snarling like wolverines after a 12-pack. Singer Taff has a pretty thick accent, but as long as he growls right and the guitars rip properly, it doesn’t much matter. In the right light, Loaded Weapon, Like a Bitch and Lucky in Hell may not be your Miss Right, but they can certainly be your Miss Right Now.

- Michael Toland

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Red Giant - Dysfunctional Majesty

Red Giant
Dysfunctional Majesty
Small Stone

Red Giant used to live up to its name, putting a spacey, cosmic spin on good old-fashioned heavy rock & roll. Most of the psych element has been purged from their sound in recent years, but that’s ultimately been a good thing. Instead of trying to out-freak Monster Magnet, the Cleveland quartet has concentrated on just rocking the fuck out, something at which it’s quite good at, as Dysfunctional Majesty proves. The band’s third record bursts at the glowing seams with thick, meaty riffs that spill out over the edges of Million Point Buck, Never Touch the Lens and Lamentations. Frontdude Alex Perekrest boasts a nice, healthy growl, but it’s really Damien Perry’s six-string wizardry that’s the Giant’s most compelling calling card. The band rocks perfectly good ass without him, but once he uncorks, Red Giant turns deadly. The album’s apotheosis is Weird Problems, a six-string ensorcelled epic that could only be followed by a palette-cleansing AC/DC cover (Let There Be Rock, natch). Dysfunctional? Not hardly. Majesty? Oh, yeah.

- Michael Toland
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