Pick ‘n’ Mix…
Kicking off proceedings, we’ve got ALICE, SWEET ALICE from Kansas City. Already on their 4th album, this quartet (comprising of Scott Martinez: Vocals, Bass & Guitars. Ali Kat:Vocals, Piano & Synths. Billy Brown: Drums & Vocals. Ron Bales: Guitars.) play their own brand of classic rock, but with a modern twist.
Their latest album, “Ribbons & Stone” was released in June, and comprises of 10 varied tracks. Each song has its own identity and reference points range from the Fleetwood Mac, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Lacuna Coil and The Gathering/Anneke van Giersbergen.
There is a great traditional rock & bluesy vibe throughout the album, and the use of keyboards adds an interesting texture to many of the tracks, and when coupled with the dual vocal approach (although, it is predominantly Ali that sings) the end result is an enjoyable experience. While the tracks come across well enough on the disk, i expect that in the live environment these songs would really shine. The change of pace and time-signatures throughout help add to the diversity.
On a personal note, and in reference to the album’s production, its great to hear the bass guitar has been given its rightful place in the mix, as so often with rock and metal bands its buried under the drums, and you’d be hard pushed to know it was even there! So, with that in mind, you have to hand it to Alice… for crafting songs that have allowed all the members to showcase their talents. Another special mention needs to go to the track “Worth the Wait”. While not normally my thing, this is a piano led piece showcases Ali’s soulful vocals and has genuine emotion. Perhaps I’m just getting more sentimental in my old age…?
Better Thrash this out of me!
RATING: 7 / 10
So next up, we have XPULSION from California, who bring us their “Hunted” 2 track EP.
Lets get this out of the way now… This isn’t going to be the best sounding EP you’ll hear this year, but lets not hold that against them, as this is a young band, and by the gods, do they make up for it with pure enthusiasm!
Starting proceedings with “Hunted”, the pace is manic straight from the off, but the lads (Spencer Landon, Sean Mutlu and Nicolas MacDuffee) do manage to reign it in a touch to find their groove and this is what Thrash has always been about, right? It brings back memories of the first time you heard the early Slayer demos, and it feels good! By the time “Intent to Kill” comes around, your ears will have tuned in and you’ll start to notice some of the more subtle elements on offer.
There is no doubting these lads have got some great ideas as well as embracing the classic style, and i expect if they are given a break, there would be no reason these guys couldn’t hold their own. Definitely one to keep an eye on.
RATING: 6.5 / 10
I think this now calls for some good ‘ol, home grown Death Metal…
Ladies & Gentlemen, let me introduce you to TODAY THE SUN DIES who hail from Morpeth, UK and their latest EP: “Torment”.
Now, this is BRUTAL Death Metal. If this isnt your cup tea, you can be excused and are free to leave (dont forget to check out the band’s links below and tell them we sent you!). For the rest of us… your in for a treat!
The band cite the likes of Whitechapel, Job for a Cowboy and The Black Dahlia Murder as reference points, but there is a lot of old school influence here as well… Broken Hope, Baphomet (US) & Disgorge rear their ugly disfigured heads as well.
There are 4 tracks on the EP which range from blistering to destructive, but each song has well placed breakdowns and small teasers of respite that will lure you in to a false sense of security, all of which helps you to appreciate the inevitable chaos to follow!
Thats not to say that “Torment” is messy sounding, far from it in fact. The musicianship on display is excellent, with guitar tones that sweep from razor sharp to crunchy where necessary and a crystal clear, pounding drum sound. The vocals, while always in the classic guttural style, they are not completely indecipherable, you’ll just have to listen very carefully!
Bonus points go to the song “Unnecessary Surgery” for the excellent Hellraiser 2 sample 🙂
“Torment” can be downloaded from from the Bandcamp link below.