Buffalo Revisited, Volcanic Rock Live (Ripple Music 2022)

Australian metal pioneers Buffalo, performing as Buffalo Revisited, release their first live album, called Volcanic Rock Live, to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the studio original.

Buffalo is a band a lot of fans today never came across but I am convinced they would be happy to hear them if they got a chance. The Australians released five full-length albums back in the 1970s, the most well-remembered being Volcanic Rock (1973). Founder and front man Dave Tice has been performing in recent years as Buffalo Revisited, playing songs from the early albums. Interestingly, Buffalo never released a live album. Until now.

Recorded on June 6, 2018 at The Bald Faced Stag Hotel in Sydney, Buffalo Revisited plays the entire Volcanic Rock album. Troy Scerri (guitar), Steve Lorkin (Bass), and Marcus Fraser (drums) joined Dave Tice to make it happen.

Some of my all-time favorite music was created in the 1970s, so I figured I was going to be on board with this one, too. I had heard Volcanic Rock before, and a couple other Buffalo albums, so I was ready.

What you realize immediately about this music is it’s a great stoner record. Laid back riffs and weathered lead guitar work seep easily into your readied head. By the second song, “Freedom,” I had settled in. I remember having a fleeting thought hoping the album was playing on a loop because I did not want to get up. Tice sounds great, and he and the other musicians celebrate the 45th anniversary of the classic album in style.

Whether you have heard of Buffalo before or not, you should listen to this album. If you are a fan of the Ripple Music catalogue, then this is for you. It fits right in. Highly recommended.

Volcanic Rock Live is out now from Ripple Music and available at Bandcamp or through the label’s on-line store.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/volcanic-rock-live

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/buffalorevisited

Ripple Music, https://www.ripple-music.com/

Buffalo Revisited, Volcanic Rock Live (Ripple Music 2022)

Axe, The Albums 1979 – 1983 (Cleopatra 2021)

The axe swings again with a new four-CD set of the first albums from iconic metal band AXE.

I remember buying those early Axe (often stylized as AXE) albums in the 1970s and early 1980s. It is entirely possible that I bought the first one on the strength of the cover art alone – I was young. What you heard when you listened to the music was something that was very different from other contemporary bands. Melodic vocals and keyboards, which might make you think of bands like Styx or even Kansas, but with surprisingly sharp guitars. That’s what I remember most about Axe, those big guitar riffs that were so prominent in the mix.

The original Axe line-up (emerging after the demise of the band Babyface) was Bobby Barth (guitar, vocals), Edgar Riley, Jr. (keys), Mike Turpin (bass), Teddy Mueller (drums), and Michael Osborne (guitar). At the beginning, many band members traded off on vocals, but eventually the singing focused on Barth. Axe was growing in popularity with each passing year, and sales of their albums were increasing. They were well known as an energetic touring band and it looked like the sky was the limit. Tragedy struck in 1983 when Michael Osbourne died in a car accident that also badly injured Bobby Barth, and the band broke up immediately after. Axe did reform in the 1990s and have released several albums since. It is those first four that are stuck in my head, though, and they are the ones in the new set.

The clamshell box the new CDs are issued in hold individual sleeves with the original album artwork for all four releases: Axe (1979), Living On The Edge (1980), Offering (1982), and Nemesis (1983). The Offering CD has six bonus live tracks, and there is a 16-page booklet with an essay about the band by Dave Thompson, and liner notes. Lots of photos as well.

The new set is out now on the Dead Line imprint of Cleopatra Records. I am a big Axe fan so it was an easy choice for me. Listen to a few tracks at Bandcamp or Spotify if you want to test the waters before taking the plunge, but it is a solid bet the physical products won’t be available for long. Get them while you can. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://therealrockaxe.bandcamp.com/album/the-albums-1979-1983

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/axeband1979

Cleopatra Records, https://cleorecs.com/store/shop/axe-the-albums-1979-1983-4cd/

Axe, The Albums 1979 – 1983 (Cleopatra 2021)

Age Of Wolves, Age Of Wolves (Pitch Black Records 2021)

Veteran metallers come together on a new band and release their debut album: Age Of Wolves.

Canadian musicians Michael Edwards (vocals), Al “Yeti” Bones (guitar), Ray Solomon (bass), and Dwayne LaFramboise (drums) established Age of Wolves two short years ago. Focusing on traditional metal starting points, their music expands and circulates to fold in contemporary insights into formidable established frameworks. The result is slamming rock and roll that will get your head banging.

There are eight cracking tracks on the self-titled record. “Lil’ Burner” starts the fire with a Thin Lizzy lick, a heavy bass line, and an engagingly gravely vocal. The lead break pushes the edge of tone and the rhythm holds firm the place in time. “Avernus” comes next and hits at a darting clip then soon down shifts into a relaxed bluesy posture. Whiskey drinking music. “Grease Monkey and the Monkey Wrench” has a Clutch feel to it in my ears, and that is always a good thing. It is a strange little story with a spritely vamp that pushes the narrative along. Side one ends on “Temple Bar,” a beautifully executed, soulful-sounding song that resonates with rich guitar renderings.

The back half almost sounds like a different album at first. “Overlord” presents an epic face while “We Rise” has a much more street-level approach to its maneuvering. The guitar is still there in each case, and it is clearly revealed as the through-line. “My Love Ends All” has a power-balladesque structure at the beginning and also has a ripping lead break that challenges your idea of what this song is all about. The closer is “Endless Tides,” and it is a delightfully heavy rambler with an esoteric outro. It is a great choice for the set closer. The album was not what I expected but, after hearing it all the way through, I’m definitely on board with Age of Wolves. Recommended.

Age Of Wolves is out now through Pitch Black Records on CD and digital.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://pitchblackrecords.bandcamp.com/album/age-of-wolves

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/AgeOfWolves

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCb-7a39qy_Qw532NCP6DRgA

Pitch Black Records, https://www.pitchblackrecords.com/

Age Of Wolves, Age Of Wolves (Pitch Black Records 2021)

AC/DC Back In Black Redux ~ The Best Of AC/DC Redux (Magnetic Eye 2021)

Two new AC/DC tribute albums are out from the venerable Magnetic Eye Records.

Magnetic Eye Records continues its Redux series with a couple of tribute albums celebrating the iconic Australian band AC/DC. I grew up listening to AC/DC, and their albums were drinking music for me. I love them front to back, all the way through Back In Black, and I have continuing abiding affection for the ones after that, too. A tribute album (or two) makes sense because of the legions of fans.

We all know the songs from Back In Black, right? OK. So, with that as a baseline, how are things different on the tribute album? First up: Red Fang has a completely shifted take on “Hells Bells.” It is a sour twist and very different. It would take you a minute to recognize it if you just heard it playing the in the background. It shook me a little. Howling Giant is a bit more linear with “Shoot To Thrill,” rubbing a little stank on it while circling the goal posts. Supersuckers wag a bluesy rendition of “What Do You Do For Money Honey” and Smoking Lightning doom down “Giving The Dog A Bone.” AC/DC’s beautiful ballad “Let Me Put My Love Into You” is given a tender treatment by Heavy Temple.

Side 2. Besvärjelsen gets the title track. Their version made me want to listen to the original. Jakethehawk offers up a psilocybin take on “You Shook Me All Night Long.” Unexpected. “Have A Drink On Me” is slowed down to a crawl by Whores. My favorite track from the album is Early Man’s “Shake A Leg.” This one slaps. The closer was never my favorite song from the original Back In Black, but I do really like the Earthride version of “Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.” With this tribute, well, you’ll like it more if you weren’t counting on faithful reproductions. All the bands infused a good deal of themselves into these classic metal tunes, and a tribute was offered by all.

The set list was fixed for Back In Black, but for The Best of AC/DC Redux, the producers could have picked anything from the catalogue. Most of the songs come from the Bon Scott era with just a couple later entries, and a few of them are real surprises. Here is the list. “Sin City,” Witchskull; “It’s A Long Way To The Top,” Kal-El; “What’s Next To The Moon,” Bob Balch & Tony Reed; “Bad Boy Boogie,” Kryptograf; “Walk All Over You,” Blue Heron; “Overdose,” Supersuckers; “For Those About To Rock,” Riff Lord; “Whole Lotta Rosie,” Solace; “If You Want Blood,” Red Mesa; “The Razor’s Edge,” Ghost Ship Ritual; “Dog Eat Dog,” Caustic Casanova; “High Voltage,” Electric Frankenstein; and “Night Prowler,” Domkraft.

I’ll just mention a couple of the new renditions of my favorite originals. Witchskull absolutely kills it on “Sin City.” I have always loved this song and the new version smokes. One of my all-time favorite AC/DC songs is “Whole Lotta Rosie.” I only saw AC/DC play this song live once, and I’ll never forget it. God damn. The new Solace version does right by the legend. Electric Frankenstein tears down the house with “High Voltage” and Domkraft walks “Night Prowler” into the doomlands, but it was right next door, anyway – an exceptional interpretation.

I am a big AC/DC fan and I like both these tribute albums. If I had to pick only one, The Best of AC/DC Redux has the edge. Recommended.

Links.

Magnetic Eye Records, https://us.merhq.spkr.media/

Bandcamp, https://reduxrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-best-of-ac-dc-redux

AC/DC Back In Black Redux ~ The Best Of AC/DC Redux (Magnetic Eye 2021)

Unzane, Test Of Time (Too Loud Records 2021)

Classic-style metal band Unzane crack out a new album, Test Of Time.

The band started out in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2000 and relocated to the mainland in 2009. They have released four previous albums, including Unzane (2005), Justice Is Our Cradle (2006), Tampering With Evidence (2011), and Nation Attack (2017). On the new one, the musicians show their experience while continuing to hone their metal muscles. The band is Ricky Leon (guitars), Alfredo Vargas (bass), Alex Hernández (drums), and David Carrión (vocals).

The musical style of the band is classic heavy metal, leaning on grooves the crowd can bang their collective head to and solidifying the effect with forceful, melodic vocals. The guitars are heavy, the rhythm is thunderous, and the road is straight ahead.

There are ten tracks in all on Test Of Time, each landing in the radio length of two-to-three minutes. “Emotional Coaster” has a feisty drum lead-in and a cooking melody. It is the perfect curtain-up rocker to get your blood going. “Brave Heart Warriors” has a taller presence and it is more vocally ambitious. The lead work goes front and center with an early tingle that pushes the song to the next level.

The song that really got my attention was “Boogeyman” because it has such an all-out charging approach that draws you in. Following immediately is the high-temperature track “Extreme Ferocity,” and the pairing works a nimble implacability. “Life Cruiser” is another favorite – the chopping opening riff gets you through the door and the party starts on the other side. And “Life Expectancy” joins the list of songs that stick because of its memorable chorus and peppery rhythm. There is a lot here to admire.

Test Of Time is available now. The quickest catch is at the Bandcamp link below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://unzane.bandcamp.com/music

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/UNZANE-Fan-club-122870541074885/

Too Loud Records, https://www.tooloudrecords.com/unzane/

Unzane, Test Of Time (Too Loud Records 2021)

Sarke, Allsighr (Soulseller Records 2021)

Sarke has created another unstoppable metal music amalgam on their seventh album, Allsighr.

Sarke is an unusual metal band from Oslo, Norway. They have released six previous albums, the most recent one being Gastwerso in 2019, and they have been at this for ony a decade. Widely regarded as seminal players in metal fusion, Sarke’s reputation will be embellished by their newest album with its boundless creativity. The musicians are Nocturno Culto (vocals), Sarke (bass), Steinar Gundersen (guitar), Anders Hunstad (keys), and Cato Bekkevold (drums).

There are ten rugged tracks on Allsighr. The opener is “Bleak Reflections,” and it has groove-laced primary riffs that propel it along its dark path. Sarke is known for an atypical mixology, combining basic rock from the 1970s with curious bursts and – least likely to go with the others – black metal infusions. It is crackle and stomp with a gloomy cloak strolling in the swirling mist. The perfect example is the song “Grim Awakening,” which has a mid-tempo riff and dreamy keys and then a chorus that goes, “I leap into cruelty / I leap into hate / a grim awakening / will seal my fate.” Juxtaposition on parade.

There are many songs to admire on this album. A couple of my favorites include “Funeral Fire” for its inventive creepiness and “Beheading of the Circus Director” for its incredible urgency and unstoppable optimism. This music will completely take you over if you let it. And you should let it. Listen to “Through The Thorns” and tell me I am wrong. I am not getting over this album anytime soon.

The drop date for Allsighr is Friday, November 5th through Soulseller Records. Snap it up on-line or at your favorite local music store. It’s a ripper. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://soulsellerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/allsighr

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/sarkeofficial/

Soulseller Records, https://soulsellerrecords.aisamerch.com/

Sarke, Allsighr (Soulseller Records 2021)

The Sonic Overlords, Last Days of Babylon (M-Theory Audio 2021)

The debut album from Sweden’s The Sonic Overlords rumbles and shakes and vibrates its way into your personal space.

The Sonic Overlords are a new band, having come together in just the past couple years. Their music pays tribute to classic metal and extends the reach of the originist ideas by expanding the paradigm without breaking it. Other bands have tried to do this too but The Sonic Overlords actually pull it off. The band is Marcus Zachrisson Rubin (vocals), Morgan Zocek (guitars), Per Soläng (drums), and Daniel Ramírez (bass).

The first track, “Utopia,” is reminiscent of the Rainbow standard “The Gates of Babylon” in its esoteric warble but not so much in its fundamental construction, which relies on a different fundamental structure. A little bit later in the album, “Fools” has a very clever heavy riff that puts a unique torsion on a standard framing. This sort of accustoming is an enterprise at which The Sonic Overlords excel.

You can hear the doom metal come out on tracks like “Lords of Tomorrow.” Here again the path is a crooked one as heavy, slow doom guitar riffs partner with a melodic vocal and are taken to the next level by lead work worthy of Candlemass. All manner of variations can be heard throughout, as in “Sands of Time” with its latter-80s Iommi-ness and “Children of the Night” with its hard-hitting, churning rhythm that delivers a deep feeling of inevitability.

Everywhere you turn and everything you hear on this album brings a sense of breakthrough that coexists with familiarity. It is an excellent metal album. Recommended.

Last Days Of Babylon is out now through M-Theory Audio in the standard formats. The CD version features a guest appearance by Tony Martin who sings on “Past the End of Time,” a bonus track that is a reworked rendition of “Sands of Time.”

Links.

Bandcamp, https://thesonicoverlords.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Thesonicoverlords/

M-Theory Audio, https://www.m-theoryaudio.com/

The Sonic Overlords, Last Days of Babylon (M-Theory Audio 2021)

Iron Maiden, Senjutsu (Sanctuary Records 2021)

Heavy Metal legends Iron Maiden release their seventeenth studio album, Senjutsu.

I first saw Iron Maiden in 1981 on their Killers tour. They were supporting Judas Priest at Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio, and Whitesnake was also on the bill. I went to the show to see Judas Priest, mainly, but I had started listening to the Killers album a few days before the concert. Iron Maiden was the newest band so they went first. Somebody in an Eddie mask walked out on the stage and I didn’t know what that was all about at the time, but everybody started cheering and then the music started. I have been a diehard fan of Iron Maiden ever since.

The impact Iron Maiden has had on heavy music is immense. They have released so many albums that could be called pivotal in their history and they have been written off by the press just as many times. But they never left, did they. For me, the albums that had the greatest impact were The Number of the Beast (1982), Fear of the Dark (1992), and The Book of Souls (2015). Yeah, how about that, Maiden fans? Which three would you choose? It’s here where we sit down and start debating the merits of each and every one. But we’ll have to do that in person, so instead let’s take a quick look at the newest, Senjutsu.

There are ten tracks and the running time is 82 minutes so if you make a quick division that means there are a lot of long songs. Iron Maiden has never shied away from the extended form, and as their career has gone on they have really leaned into the concept. Strong and inventive compositions, from Steve Harris especially, deepen the musical expression and more than justify the running time. If anything, at the end I wish there was even more.

Clever and instantly memorable hooks on songs like “The Writing On The Wall” sink in immediately and are with you to stay – I made a mental list on the first listen through of the songs I hoped to hear live this year on the band’s tour, and it is a pretty long list. The lead work sounds fresh, Bruce Dickinson’s voice is in top form, and the rhythm is granite. Picking highlights from this long set is almost arbitrary because of the consistent quality throughout, but I’ll go ahead and do it anyway. Along with “The Writing On the Wall,” I have a sparkling affection for the relentless pulsing of “Lost In A Lost World,” the familiar finesse of “Death Of The Celts,” and the profound and sweeping thoroughgoing of “The Parchment.” There are no wrong turns anywhere on this album. Highly recommended.

Senjutsu is out now in digital, double CD, and triple vinyl versions. Tap the links below.

Links.

Iron Maiden website, https://www.ironmaiden.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ironmaiden

Iron Maiden Shop, https://666.ironmaiden.com/

Iron Maiden, Senjutsu (Sanctuary Records 2021)

Motörhead, No Sleep ’Til Hammersmith Box Set (BMG 2021)

Motörhead’s iconic live masterpiece No Sleep ’Til Hammersmith gets the deluxe treatment in a new 4-disc box set.

I don’t have to go on and on about Motörhead and how important that band is in the history of heavy music. And too, their monumental No Sleep ’Til Hammersmith album was huge back when it came out in 1981. It was the first Motörhead album I actually ever heard and it put me on track to be a lifelong fan. I am glad to know it continues to be revered and listened to and sought after.

And at the time, by the way, I didn’t like live albums much. A few years before, Kiss had a massive success with their second big live album Kiss Alive II, and I have to say I didn’t really like it much. I thought the studio versions of the songs were better and I didn’t channel anything extra from trying to listen to the music through the crowd noise on a record in my room. But Hammersmith was something different. It was all new to me at the time, and it is loaded with brain smashers coming, as it did, hot on the heels of Overkill, Bomber, On Parole, and Ace of Spades. I didn’t know what hit me, and after I got myself back together, I was never the same.

This new set is huge and includes a remastered version of the original album plus bonus tracks not included on that first record. In the big box, there are also complete recordings of the three shows that were used for the original album: Leeds Queens Hall on March 28, 1981 and Newcastle City Hall on March 29 and 30, 1981. There are also a bunch more bobs and whistles, one important entry being a previously unpublished interview. Much here to sort through and admire.

Is it too much Motörhead? Not for big fans of the band like me, but for regular metalheads, yeah, it probably is a little over the top. Still, it is worth listening to the remastered original album even if you don’t want to hear all three concerts because it sounds great in its new incarnation and it is classic metal music that never gets old. Recommended.

No Sleep ’Til Hammersmith Box Set is out now from BMG Records. Get yours before this one sells out.

Links.

Website, https://imotorhead.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/OfficialMotorhead/

Motörhead, No Sleep ’Til Hammersmith Box Set (BMG 2021)

Motörhead, Louder Than Noise … Live In Berlin (Silver Lining Music 2021)

One of the best late-career concerts from Motörhead is now available for the reliving.

The storied history of Motörhead does need reiteration from me – their place in heavy metal history is foundational. I miss the band, and Lemmy, gone now these many years. One good thing about recorded music is you can always listen to it again.

Captured live in Berlin in 2012 during the Kings of the Road Tour, this full concert runs over an hour and features stalwart fan favorites as well as timelies. One surprising feature is the eight-minute “Overkill” closer when members of Anthrax join Motörhead on stage.

Every time I saw the band live it was a great show, and this is the long-running lineup I remember best with Lemmy, Phil Campbell, and Mikkey Dee. There is a companion video of the performance that is well done and comes along with the CD and in the bigger bundles. Since there will never be an opportunity to ever see the three play together again, the video is especially poignant.

Louder Than Noise … Live In Berlin is out now. There are choices to be made and they are all degrees of good. Recommended.

Links.

Website, https://imotorhead.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/OfficialMotorhead

Motörhead, Louder Than Noise … Live In Berlin (Silver Lining Music 2021)