Diamond Head, Lightning To The Nations 2020 review (Silver Lining Music 2020)

For the 40th anniversary of the seminal album Lightning To The Nations, Diamond Head has re-recorded it in its entirety.

It is hard to overstate the impact of Diamond Head on heavy music. The album in question came out in 1980 on the vanguard of the New Wave OF British Heavy Metal, inspiring many bands, including, famously, Metallica. They released three full length albums in the 1980s, had a short resurrection in the 1990s, and since 2005 have been producing new music regularly, including last year’s The Coffin Train. Founding member Brian Tatler (guitar) is joined by Rasmus Bom Andersen (vocals), Karl Wilcox (drums), Andrew “Abbz” Abberley (guitar), and Dean Ashton (bass, organ) for the new recording.

Lightning To The Nations 2020 sounds amazing, and comparing it to the original is challenging unless you grabbed and held onto one of those early LPs. There was a remastered version of this album released in 2011 and it is on Spotify, so you can track-by-track those two, if you like. There are noticeable differences, but all my money is on this year’s release as it is crisp and deep, and it is the newest incarnation of the music presented the way Brian Tatler wants it to be. The two songs that get most of the attention are “Am I Evil” and “It’s Electric” – deservedly so because they are outstanding. Still, there are big riffs and fantastic lead work throughout the entirety of the recording, so don’t skip the others.

Besides revitalizing the seven original songs, there are also four covers: “No Remorse” (Metallica), “Immigrant Song” (Led Zepplin), “Sinner” (Judas Priest), and “Rat Bat Blue” (Deep Purple). My favorite is the Deep Purple cover. If I had been asked which Deep Purple song Diamond Head would cover having such a rich catalog to choose from, “Rat Bat Blue” would not have been very high on my list, but it is absolutely fantastic. Guitars stand in for the crazy keyboards of the original, and this new one cracks.

Additional info and links below. If you are a fan of this classic music, it is time to start debating which version you like best. If you are hearing it all for the first time, just sit back and enjoy. Recommended.

Band photo by Nic Gaunt.

Links.

Wesbite, http://www.diamondheadofficial.com

Band Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/DiamondHeadOfficial/

Silver Lining Music, http://sl-music.net

SLM Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/Silver.Lining.Music.Ltd

Diamond Head, Lightning To The Nations 2020 review (Silver Lining Music 2020)

Clutch, Weathermaker Vault 1 review (Weathermaker Music 2020)

Clutch collects the singles they have been releasing over the past several months in Weathermaker Vault Series, Volume 1.

The idea behind doing this at all is to release fan favorites and songs that the band has played live a lot over the years because they have evolved as time has passed. These new studio versions are closer to the way you hear the songs when you see Clutch in concert, and several of the songs are covers that were not released on studio albums. In some cases, they differences on the re-records are small, but in others the comparison between the original recordings and the new ones show that the differences really stand out.

The album has ten songs on it, nine of which has already been released as digital singles: 1. Passive Restraints, 2. Electric Worry, 3. Run, John Barleycorn, Run, 4. Evil, 5. Fortunate Son, 6. Algo Ha Cambiado, 7. Spacegrass, 8. Precious and Grace, 9. Smoke Banshee, and 10. Willie Nelson.

On “Passive Restraints,” Randy Blythe of Lamb of God joins the band and creates an amazing synergy. “Electric Worry” has a slightly more stripped down sound here (and no harmonica) like, again, it is on concert – always one of my favorites. “Run, John Barleycorn, Run” was only previously available on a split from some years back. “Evil” and “Fortunate Son” are fantastic covers of those legendary songs, and “Algo Ha Cambiado” is a briefer version than the one that appears on Strange Cousins from the West. “Spacegrass” gets an extended treatment, and “Precious and Grace” is a ZZ Top cover. “Smoke Banshee,” another one of my personal favorites (that is a long list when we are talking about Clutch songs), never sounded better, and on “Willie Nelson,” we find out he “only smokes killer weed.”

Should you buy this? Of course. If you are a Clutch fan, you want all these songs together, even if the singles are floating out there separately somewhere. If you are a collector, you will want to look for the vinyl (or even the CD) as it’ll be a hot sold out item almost immediately. And if you like music, this is great music. C’mon. It’s Clutch.

The full album drops on Friday, November 27th. You can order the CD all over, at Amazon and whatnot, and the digital in the usual places. There is a vinyl version at the Clutch merch site (link below) that should be available soon to order. Highly recommended.

Links.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clutchband

website: https://www.pro-rock.com

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/officialclutch

Clutch merch: https://www.clutchmerch.com/

Clutch, Weathermaker Vault 1 review (Weathermaker Music 2020)

Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, We’re The Bastards review (Nuclear Blast Records 2020)

The Bastard Sons are back with another great album, We’re The Bastards.

Phil Campbell is a veteran metal guitarist I have always admired. I can think back to seeing him so many times with Motörhead and every performance had a singular brilliance. After Lemmy died and that iconic band was no more, Campbell formed The Bastard Sons. Their first release was an EP in 2016, followed by the full-length The Age of Absurdity two years later.The music is solid hard rock and heavy metal – guitar-driven goodness that salves the wounds of the modern world. I have been counting down the days to the new album because the ones that came before were so excellent.

“We’re The Bastards” is the opener and it is the right foot forward – it is an anthem about heavy music and the intentions of the band, which are uncomplicated: playing heavy music. “Son Of A Gun” follows and it is a high speed banger. The story rolls on in “Promises Are Poison,” where a more serious tone is established. What is constant throughout are the harrowing riffs, the commanding percussion, and Phil Campbell’s impeccable guitar work. Neil Starr has the perfect voice for this music, tying it all together.

There are so many great songs on this album it hardly makes any sense to separate them out. The guitar in “Animals” is monstrous, but it is on “Keep Your Jacket On” too. The singles are all cracking, and the longer pieces like “Desert Song” and “Waves” are composed in uncompromising balance. This music sounds like it was designed to be performed live – when you listen to the songs you can’t help but visualize the band on stage belting them out. This one is a keeper.

Nuclear Blast has many versions and bundles for you buying enticement. The limited digipack has four live tracks not on the regular CD, so that is something to consider if you are into the physicals. Whichever way you go, you get to hear the music and that’s the winner. Recommended.

Link.

Band website, http://www.philcampbell.net/

Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, We’re The Bastards review (Nuclear Blast Records 2020)

AC/DC, Power Up review (Columbia Records 2020)

Here they come again – the first new music from AC/DC in six years is good metal for 2020.

Rock Or Bust  came out in 2014, and we’ve been waiting since then to see whether there would be new music from the iconic Australian Hard Rock band. Question answered. Power Up is true to form heavy hitting riff medicine.

Every fan of the band has a favorite or two. My short list is creeping up to ten. I saw AC/DC one summer in Indianapolis at an outdoor venue during the For Those About To Rock We Salute You tour. The highlight for me that night was “Whole Lotta Rosie,” one of my favorites anyway but I never thought they’d play it. The performance was astonishing, visually completed by a large blow-up Rosie behind the band. I have seen them other times but that one summer night sticks in my mind. There are so many killer songs … “Kicked In The Teeth,” “Gimme A Bullet,” “Problem Child,” … it is a long list. And then there are all the radio tunes that were smash hits. The impact AC/DC has had on heavy music, and popular music, cannot be denied.

The singles from the new one are “Shot In The Dark” and “Realize,” and they punch just like AC/DC radio songs always do. Great hooks and heavy riffs, catchy choruses. Check, check, check. It’s a formula you hear on many of the other songs, too, naturally, like “Why Do They Kick You When You’re Down,” “Wild Reputation,” and so on. But that is not all that is here. “Through The Mists Of Time” is almost sentimental in its tone, “Witch’s Spell” has a wicked, cracking little lead break, and “Code Red” combines a nostalgic throwback riff with a new roller that celebrates the confluence of history with modernity. The songs are short with only one reaching to the four minute mark and they are all designed to grab you attention. They always do, from the first to the last.

The album is out now and available everywhere. The story has been told in interviews and articles that AC/DC has tons of music sitting around unreleased. Maybe we’ll get more soon. If it is as good as Power Up, I can’t wait to hear it. Recommended.

Band photo by Josh Cheuse.

Link.

website, https://pwrup.acdc.com/

AC/DC, Power Up review (Columbia Records 2020)

Saul, Rise As Equals review (Spinefarm Records 2020)

The first full-length album from Saul is a stab at the heart of mediocrity that rises above the tide of ordinary heavy music.

This band from Iowa is Blake Bedsaul (vocals), Zach Bedsaul (guitar), William McIlravy (bass), and Myles Clayborne (drums). Their EP Aeons (2019) received a lot of attention, propelled by the success of the single “Brother.” Their music has a harder edge than Pop Metal and more melodic passages than you might expect from heavy music. Punchy, sawblade guitar riffs and forceful vocals are the hallmark, interspersed with lyrical moments. The songs are typically about experiences of people as opposed to dark or fantasy concepts. Breaking Benjamin might be a starting point for reference, but Saul’s music has a sharper edge and a fuller sound. There are other comparisons, too, but listen to Saul directly if you really want to know what they are like.

The album has fourteen songs all running at radio length and each one a separate success. The opener is “Trial By Fire,” which was released earlier as a single. It is clearly a crowd pleasing live anthem, cracking out with a snapping riff that has a clever bend to it then proceeding on to a sing-along chorus that will resonate with fans. In fact, every song sounds like a single – meaning that they are all tight and constructed for maximum impact. There is no meandering anywhere on the album. Take “King of Misery,” which starts out at a slower tempo than many of the other songs, but the rock solid guitars are there and the execution of the vocals as the centerpiece to the composition is spot-on. The title track is another stand-out piece, and for me, and “The Toll” is maybe my favorite on the album for its pulsing rhythm and penetrating message.

I saw Saul perform on a livestream with Clutch, Crowbar, and Blacktop Mojo a couple months back and their set really stood out. I have been waiting for this album to come out ever since, anticipating something big. The band absolutely delivered. Rise As Equals is even better than I expected. Highly recommended.

You can get the full album this Friday, October 23rd from Spinefarm Records. The quick buy is through Amazon Music for the download, with the physical versions widely available. The Saul Shop link below is a good path to follow if you are in a buying mood.

Links.

Saul website, https://saulofficial.com/

Saul Shop, https://saul.merchnow.com/

Saul Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/saulbandofficial/

Saul YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfVimzkq5EqQ0ZDo_FrP7Lg

Spinefarm website, https://www.spinefarmrecords.com/usa/

Spinefarm YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/user/SpinefarmRec

Saul, Rise As Equals review (Spinefarm Records 2020)

Marilyn Manson, We Are Chaos review (Loma Vista Recordings 2020)

Marilyn Manson is the monster you know. On his newest album, he shows us we cannot hide from the chaos we see because it is everywhere.

Heaven Upside Down was three years ago, The Pale Emperor two years before that. Marilyn Manson has been keeping up with regular new releases, and it was time for another. But 2020 is a weird year, strange days, and We Are Chaos is an odd album in the artist’s canon. The Shock Rock persona is in there somewhere, and we get flashes of it throughout this new one, but there is less revelry this time around and in its place there is a pervasive dolefulness.

“We Are Chaos” was released as a single ahead of the album launch, as was “Don’t Chase The Dead.” Both of these songs are basically ballads (especially the title track) and it left us all to wonder what the rest of the album was going to sound like. I mean, I am used to Marilyn screaming, or giving us the sinister whisper. The first song, “Red Black and Blue,” has that pulsing energy I expected with punching percussion, strong guitar riffs, and distressed, urgent vocals. Next are the two singles, and then another sweet ballad, “Paint You With My Love.” “Half-Way & One Step Forward” has a very creepy feel to it, and it is quiet, too, although it does get a little louder there at the end. “Infinite Darkness” conveys a spacey odor and has a bigger guitar presence than the previous four songs. It is heavy on the narrative and has a stomping momentum. “Perfume” sounds like it might be the next single – it is very radio friendly (is there still radio?). There is a nice heavy punch to “Keep My Head Together,” and a committed recklessness that is very appealing. The eeriest song is probably “Solve Coagula” with its hopelessness and caustic violence. It also has the great line, “I’m not special, I’m just broken.” The album wraps up with “Broken Needle.” The opening acoustic guitar riff is a quiet signal, a statement that this subdued entry in the history of Marilyn Manson is understandable on the surface. It is exactly what it seems. “Are you all right / ’cause I’m not OK / all of these lies / are not worth fighting for.”

Out now on Loma Vista, We Are Chaos is available in many formats and features. Suggested links are below, but you can get some form of the album pretty much anywhere.

Photos by Wayne Edwards from Aftershock 2019.

Links.

Wesbite, https://www.marilynmanson.com/

Buy Music, https://marilynmanson.lomavistarecordings.com/

Buy Merch, https://store.marilynmanson.com/

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

Marilyn Manson, We Are Chaos review (Loma Vista Recordings 2020)