Bad Butler, Not Bad At All, 2017

bad butler - not bad at allAfter a couple of more progressive albums to listen to, now back to a more straight in your face release. Bad Butler are from Germany and describe their music as “Impressive melodies, gripping guitar riffs and an accentuated heavy sound that gets straight under your skin. The troupe works with driving, atmospheric songs that create a mystically dynamic soundscape”.

Mhm, atmospheric songs that create a mystically dynamic soundscape? Afraid that means something different to me. For me this is a “take no prisoners” album. Heavy metal as it is supposed to be. Not overly German by the way, with which I mean there is no constant galloping on the double kick. The band sure mean business though. Lots of energy and melodies that stick. Actually, one of the good things about the album is that the band keep trying to avoid using all too obvious genre clichés. And indeed, they are not afraid to make use of dynamics. Listen to Gunman for instance; clean guitars, break downs, a talking voice… All this resulting in a song that makes you want to listen.  Or take Straight From Hell, with an addictive rhythm. Another highlight for me is Nameless Thing. The vocal and guitar melodies in this track are just stupefyingly brilliant. And still the thing rocks your socks off.

Even when not all 10 tracks are of the same calibre, this is a solid release that will make many genre addicts very happy. And considering it is an independent release, one of high quality.

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Trucker Diablo, Fighting For Everything, 2017

trucker diablo - fighting for everythingThis is the third Trucker Diablo album that has reached the YMB office. Find the 2012 The Devil Rhythm and 2013 Songs of Iron albums amongst these pages. Yet it seems that means I missed album 3, Rise Above the Noise, from 2015. Which also answers my question about the time gap between albums.

In the past I have called the music from Trucker Diablo a combination of Thin Lizzy and Black Label Society. Yet this time around I would like to describe this as the evil younger brother of Nickelback. With which I mean to say that many songs on this are catchy as the flu too, yet brought with a venomous intent and a take no prisoner mentality. Yes a little of that wonderful Thin Lizzy dual guitar attack is still present (check We Will Conquer All for a taste of that), but overall I have found this to be a kick ass hard rock album that grabs you from the go and still manages to get better every time you listen to it.
For me the killer tracks are opener Born Trucker, the already mentioned We Will Conquer All and the beautiful album closer When The Waters Rise. But this surely is a no filler album.

Anyone who thinks that rock is dead should get this served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That will make ‘m change their mind. Rocks, and rocks hard!

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Tragik, Tainted, 2017

Tragik-TaintedAlbum number 7 for this US hard rock band with many pomp influences. Lead by the unmistakeable voice and talent of multi-instrumentalist Phil Vincent. And what is most striking is that, even after recording for over 20 years and being involved in over 30 albums, the man still manages to evolve. Both as a songwriter, as well as a producer. So even when this is in essence a pomp hard rock album, some things cross new borders. And yes people, that is a very good thing in my book!

Opener Welcome Back is a driving song, built around riffs and melodies and with crunching guitars and solos. And then arrives Not Over You (Listen). I can already hear the critics wail over this… And why? The base of it is a drum loop and parts of the song have an Eighties wave feel to them. It also clocks in at over 9 minutes. But if you are able to listen beyond that; you will hear it is an adventurous take on something familiar. And people who follow the blog on a regular base, know that I am all for experimenting. I think this is a great song that keeps you on your toes!
Songs like Can’t Take It Back or Face Of Sorrow are aiming for the more traditional tastes. And songs like Into The Great Unknown or Heaven (another 8+ epic) aim to blend genres again. And closer Harsh Reality sees Vincent and co groove like never before. The guitar work of the late David Zychek playing a great part in it.

So for me this is another great release from the band. And as with all of the earlier releases, the album just keeps growing on you. Wonderful stuff.

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Still Living, Ymmij, 2017

still living, ymmijThe boys from Brazil are back with album 3, a conceptual album called Ymmij. Now that title might sound a bit mysterious, but the artwork gives some clues away I guess. And I hear you think, concept album? Still Living are a melodic hard rock band or? Yes they still are! And apart from a few interludes with spoken word, meant to enhance the story, the songs on the album work very well on their own. So nobody needs to worry 🙂

Opening in a familiar style with Reign Of Pills, we are welcomed by the guitars of Eduardo Holanda, accompanied by the keyboards of Thiago Nascimento and the drumming of Cleber Melo. All soon met with the powerful voice of Renato Costa. Bass and additional keyboards are provided by co-producer Aldecy Souza. Next track On The Edge shows them operate in a more aggressive and harder style. Great riff too! People already familiar with the band probably know they always strive to deliver catchy tunes with melody and still enough power and surprises to avoid genre cliché’s. So while Call Of The Night continues this more powerful momentum with another killer riff and some almost metal vocals, the melodies are always there to guide us. A song like the Man I’ve Become fits seamlessly with older work, yet somehow manages to sound more mature. Haunted on the other hand manages to surprise with a deep emotional vocal delivery by Costa, who surely seems to be stretching boundaries with his voice. Nice power ballad!

As it turns out Still Living are raising the bar on every level and have delivered a strong album that every lover of melodic hard rock will enjoy. By the way, the European edition closes with the stunning bonus track Redemption, a contender for ballad of the year!

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The Soul Exchange, Vow Of Seth, 2017

the soul exchange - vow of sethThe excellent previous album from Swedish band The Soul Exchange has been making quite a few rounds here at YMB HQ. And while they are working on their next full length, they have released an EP with 5 new songs. Well with 32 minutes of playing time, once that would have been considered an album 😉

Opening with the title track, the mood is set for another slab of that Soul Exchange goodness. Powerful rhythms, mysticism, power chords and that chilling voice of Daniel John. And while the band is on fire as usual, I can’t help thinking that John is the absolute star. His delivery grabs you from the go and he really takes you to other worlds.
But it would not be fair to appoint the attraction of the band solely to their singer. Their music, still a bit of a mix of Metallica and Ghost, proves the perfect platform for those vocals to shine on.

So the conclusion is simple, they have done it again! Now when is that new album arriving boys? Cannot wait!

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Uriah Heep, Raging Through The Silence, 2017

uriah heep - raging through the silenceUriah Heep have also gone independent and this is their second release on their newly formed label. The band are determined to close all the gaps in their discography so the core fans (me included) will be pleased with this double disc and DVD, as this has only been available on a long lost VHS at the time.

What we have here is the 1989 concert of their 20th Anniversary show. Also included is an interview which was recorded at that very same time. Which makes 2018 their 49th year of existence… In the band besides ol’ Mick Box (RESPECT), Bernie Shaw and Phil Lanzon, are Trevor Bolder (RIP) and Lee Kerslake. Besides mandatory pieces like July Morning, Stealin’, Gypsy, Easy Livin’ or Look At Yourself, we also get more recent material from that time. Like Bad Bad Man, Blood Red Roses, Too Scared To Run, Cry Freedom or The Other Side Of Midnight.
Because Uriah Heep never was a band content with delivering another greatest hits set and always look to perform their newer songs. And in the process captivate every audience they can play for. A live band par excellence! And even when I own 5 live albums now, as well as all the studio albums, I never get tired of listening to the band. Classic songs and a bunch of guys thoroughly enjoying what they do.

On to the 50th anniversary! And more music please 🙂

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Ten, Gothica, 2017

ten - gothicaEver since the first release X in 1996, we have been following the band Ten. I say we, because in this case even my better half is quite fond of the band! And despite numerous changes of personnel over the years, the band has always been about the songs, storytelling and dark voice of Gary Hughes. And of course Gothica is no exception. Anyone familiar with the band will recognise the identity in an instant.

And no, in this case that is not a bad thing! Because the sound may have a certain ring to it, it is the voice of Hughes that takes care of the familiarity. And his knack for writing pompous songs with enough twists and turns to surprise even the most avid fan, but always with a great chorus and enough hooks to catch your attention.

Being a prog lover myself, I love the fact that Ten boldly play 8 minute songs if need be. And manage to do it with panache and energy. The storytelling of Hughes has always been great and this time we get to hear about Jekyll and Hyde, La Luna Dra-Cu-La, The Grail, time Travellers, and so on. The 7 man band all shine. They can rock, they can play fiery solos, and they can bring it all down and get you on the tip of your toes with a piece of piano and vocal.

Even when not all albums of the past are of the same calibre throughout, Ten rarely disappoint, and this one is very consistent and just amongst the best of them.

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Phil Vincent, XX, 2017

Phil-Vincent-XX-2017Regular readers of the blog will surely recognize the name. It has been a while since I could feature American singer and multi instrumentalist Vincent on these pages, but it is with pleasure I present his latest album XX. Indeed, solo album 20, but the discography is of course much much longer with his participation in D’Ercole, Legion, Cranston, Tragik, etc. Let alone contributions to many other releases.
This is a straight solo album, with Phil handling songwriting, drums, bass, guitars, keyboards and of course ALL the vocals. Not to mention recording and mixing. Yet he did invite some of his friends to play guitar solos, including William Roux, Paul Sabu (also Cranston) and his buddy from the Legion days, Vince O’Regan.

On offer are 11 tracks in 45 minutes. Meaning that there is no epic this time, but songs from 3 to 4 minutes and 2 that play for 5 to 6 minutes. But that has not changed anything style wise. This is still kick ass melodic (hard) rock with sometimes a bit of proggy arrangements. To me it feels that the production skills keep improving with more depth in the overall sonic soundscape. And speaking of depth, impossible it may sound, but is his singing voice really better than ever?
The choruses are catchy as always and the songs are pouring with hooks. So in short another welcome addition!

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Chris Brockbank’s Phantom MkV, Phantom, 2017

From down under comes the fifth cycle of the band Phantom. At the centre: the Australian Blackmore Chris Brockbank. So to anyone who likes the music of old Whitesnake (before the hair days), Deep Purple etc., this might be right up your alley! And they got it down to a tee, even the sound of the album.

Opener So Clear is indeed not spilling beans. In your face rock with that hammond lurking, strat styled guitar solos,  powerful vocals, etc. Next track One O’ Clock even manages to add solos on both the organ as the guitar and still keep it under 4 minutes. I guess it is safe to say to people who are stuck in the rock of the seventies are going to have a ball with the album. It ticks all the right boxes. In all honesty I needed a bit of time to get used to the voice of Steve Mulry, especially since he is a bit dominant in the mix. But once you get used to that, it is alright.

Okay, it is retro so do not expect anything new. But the guys are having fun, they know what they are and how to sound and they do it well. Nothing more and certainly nothing less. If interested check songs like Beggin’ You, Miss You or Rapid Fire and you will know what to do.

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Tiebreaker, Death Tunes, 2016

tiebreaker - death tunesAnd within a year another Tiebreaker album. Well, that is not 100% true, as their previous one saw an independent release before Karisma Records picked them up. That is, if memory serves me right. Anyway, I liked that one, so was curious how this would impact me.

But nobody needs to worry, if We Come From The Mountains got you moving, then this one will kick you as hard, if not a tad harder. The 5 piece from the massive nature and industrial silence of Norway’s Odda still rock with a passion. Time stood still around the Seventies there, but what they bring is of high calibre, filled to the brim with passionate melodic riffing and spiced with a bluesy melancholy. Besides that, their attitude of “take no prisoners” pays off. And with an average song of around 4 minutes, they waste no time and keep things fresh and relevant.
From the hard hitting opener Hell to the lengthy and more mellow closer Heavy Lifting, this is a treat. All 10 songs are a showcase for their desire to rock, and singer Thomas Espeland Karlsen is tailor made for this type of hard rock. But in fact all the guys do their job very well.

So no need to dwell, if you like your rock in your face, sweaty and real, this is a must. Rock On!

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