Tag Archives: Double album

Kai Hansen announces solo album release

Gamma Ray and former Helloween guitarist, Kai Hansen has released a new single, entitled Born Free to act as a taster for his debut solo album, XXX – Three Decades In Metal

The album is due for release on 16th September through earMUSIC in a variety of formats, including single CD, Special Edition double CD, double vinyl LP and digital.

Here’s the aforementioned video:

The album and video were made at Chameleon Studios in Hamburg.  The recording line-up featured Kai Hansen on vocals and guitar, Alex Dietz (guitar player of Heaven Shall Burn) on bass, Eike Freese on guitar and Carcass‘ Daniel Wilding on the drums.

Queensrÿche – Condition Hüman

Queensryche - Condition Human

Century Media

Review by Rick Ossian

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Ever since the Queensrÿche bust-up in April 2012 (following a backstage altercation before a show in Sao Paulo), there has been a LOT of internet hate for former Queensrÿche singer Geoff Tate (he of Operation: Mindcrime).  He was replaced with former Crimson Glory vocalist Todd LaTorre.  A temporary court injunction allowed both parties to use the name of the band, but in 2014 a settlement was reached with members Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson winning the rights to use the name.  In the interim, of course, the Tate camp released their universally panned Frequency Unknown (2013), and the others released an eponymous debut, if you will, two months later.  Both outfits toured, and both survived.  Having recently listened to and reviewed the Tate camp’s latest (Operation: Mindcrime’s debut, The Key), I have to say I’m inclined to agree with the judge.  These bands are two separate entities, granted – but only one has the right to say that they are actually Queensrÿche.  In this case, the majority ruled.  In my humble opinion, the release that we are currently dealing with is the better of the two.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, Chris DeGarmo left in 1997. His most current replacement is one Parker Lundgren, who is, along with Michael Wilton, a guitarist in the band.  Bass man Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield, of course, remain in the engine room, and the aforementioned Mr. LaTorre is the man with the pipes.  One devastatingly accurate pair of pipes, it should be noted, particularly if he was making an attempt to sound like Geoff Tate.  He is a dead ringer vocally for their former singer, and more power to him if he is able to pull that off, because of course there will be many punters who have no idea that the singer is another bloke.

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Arrow of Time, the lead-off track, is a hard-charging rocker in the vein of just about any other Queensrÿche album that you may care to mention.  Critics will probably immediately note the similarity between the voices.  Anyone who can’t hear it may as well hang it up. If we were doing a comparison/contrast study (which DOES sometimes happen), I think we would find that they compare favourably.  As with most of the tracks herein, there are at least a pair or so of lead guitar bits on this salvo.  Save for the ballad Just Us and the title track, all or most of the tunes are also radio-friendly in length.  The way FM programming is going nowadays, if you’re not pop or country or classic rock, there are few formats willing to take a risk on new material, but with such vocal/guitar heavy treats, who knows?  A bit of airplay may indeed be in order…

Guardian finds Mr. La Torre once again emulating the man he ousted from the fold, but that may not be entirely to his disadvantage.  As I mentioned before, when one does a festival, it DOES somewhat behoove you to sound like the band that you’re in!  Guardian is another feet-first rocker with plenty of guitar work and engine room pyrotechnics.  Punters may also note that there are the occasional vocal FX inserted, reminding us once again of our heroes of old.  The phrase ‘revolution calling‘ is repeated at key points of this track – what’s THAT about?

Hellfire reminds us that Messrs. Wilton and Lundgren are NOT just background fodder.  Their work comes to the fore with astonishing regularity throughout this recording.  Plus, if you listen closely, you can hear LaTorre doing his skybound vocal impressions consistently.  The guitar figure at the end of this track is also interesteing, as is the guitar work as a whole on this entire recording.

Toxic Remedy also features some very pretty guitar work, and some chugging riffs to boot.  The vocals are positively haunting, and the rhythms are absolutely infectious.  There is more energy here as well, and the potential to be actual heavy metal and/or hard rock, depending on which term(s) you prefer.  I submit to you that the two CAN be interchangeable, but with HM you are more likely to hear screaming, pounding, hammering and more extreme musical moments overall.

Selfish Lives contains a ghostly guitar intro, vocal FX and some fairly standard riffing.  Again, the main vocal is a dead ringer for the voice of the original pipe-master, but as mentioned before, you kind of NEED to do that to a certain extent to retain any kind of credibility.  After all, without a killer set of pipes, how would you perform Queen of the Reich?  Let alone a veritable slew of others.  I submit to you that is can be a good thing to emulate your forebears.  There are times on this recording where one would be hard pressed to tell the difference.

Eye9 features a beautiful bass intro, compliments of Mr. Jackson.  Nice job, Eddie!  There are more vocal FX on board here, as well as some nice riffing on the main refrain.  Lyrically, “lost in the labyrinth of life/stuck in the middle of the two” struck me as somewhat prophetic, and it stood out.  Good writing and phrasing seem to be the order of the day with most of the tracks.

Bulletproof contains a faint keyboard intro, and more cool lyrics; “the cleanse of surrender has freed me/no longer a victim of change”.  I also really dug the instrumental cacophony at the close, and the lead guitar work was remarkable.

Hourglass is bluesy but still very good, and sounds great, sonically speaking, overall.  There is some beautiful acoustic strumming at the ending.  There is also some serious riffing and some nice lead guitar work.

The six-minute ballad-style piece, Just Us, actually sort of shimmers a bit, which we can stand if it doesn’t occur too often, right?  The vocals are top-notch, and there is some excellent acoustic strumming.  There are also several brilliant guitar bits electrically.  At the 3-minute mark, one can hear both players integrating lead (solos).  Instrumental breakdowns abound, which is par for the course.

All There Was is another interesting piece with some sweet riffing and some excellent guitar work at the intro.  The engine room is on board with this bit, as well.  I particularly enjoy a good tune when the bass guitar and the drums come to the fore.  This is another high-energy tune with an excellent fading out of sorts at the end.

The Aftermath is apparently an interlude of sorts that sets up the title track, which is also, appropriately, our closer.  Condition Human is an absolute behemoth, and at 7:45, is the longest track by far on this set.  The intro is a bit shimmery and strumming acoustics again, but if you can get past that, you can hear the majesty of this track for yourself.  Another haunting tune, and just in time for All Hallow’s Eve, too!  This is a very powerful piece, and actually enters Riff City mode (2:25).  There is a chugging, energetic tempo here, and we are headed somewhere, even lyrically; “Shake the species overtime/moralities collapse”, hollers LaTorre, and once again we also hear some vocal FX, which we should probably come to expect now, at least with this particular band.  Whenever we hear echo or whispering in conjunction with vocals, many of us think Queensrÿche almost immediately!  An excellent track, and a very good recording overall.

****/5

Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls

Released 04 September 2015

Parlophone UK

Review by Suzi Horsley and Rick Ossian

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Right.

Iron Maiden.

I *love* Iron Maiden. Probably more than any other band ever- seeing them at Sonisphere last year was one of the highlights of my life, and the picture of me screaming my head off to Fear of The Dark remains one of my most loved pictures of me everThey were my gateway into Heavy Metal. When I was 17 or thereabouts, (I’ve told this story way too many times on here) I nicked my housemate’s copy of Best of the Beast (It might have been Number of The Beast, I can’t remember these days) and was enthralled. I walked around the house snarling “666! The Number of The Beaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaast” for months. From then on, it was a slow descent to my current eclectic tastes which are slowly widening to include Metal of the Black and Death variety. Anyway, Iron Maiden hold a very, very special place in my heart for a multitude of reasons, and I am rather firmly of the belief that it is actually impossible for them to put out a bad album.

However, that being said I didn’t think was possible for Linkin Park to put out a bad album (remember that horror?  Or this one?) or for Lacuna Coil to put out a bad album or…well you get the idea. In the last few years I’ve been let down by some of my trusty favourites, so before I gave The Book of Souls (announced on my birthday this year don’tcha know – thanks for the present, guys!) it’s inaugural listening in the southern tower of Castle Wyrd Ways I was somewhat apprehensive.  Could a band who have been steadily churning out killer albums for the last 40 years do it again? It’s been five years since we had an Iron Maiden release – what if they’d all forgotten how to play, or something?

Well, I’m very pleased to say that is not the case. I’ll spare you the summation of my feelings and give you a track by track breakdown and as a Wyrd Ways Rocks Show Special and (to save fights) my colleague, the esteemed Rick Ossian, also known as WWRS’s King Of Prog And AOR and Senior Reviewer will be joining me.

Hello Maiden fans and freaks worldwide – Rick here, your favorite Fish-Man, with a few words (or so) to add to my fellow WWRS cohort Suzi’s.  Apparently, track listing(s) vary from one continent to the next, so what we shall have here is a Transcontinental Twisted Review with a shared authorship of sorts.  Now, normally when I do a review I do a pretty technical breakdown and try to map things out for the listener.  I will try to refrain from that to a certain extent here and just get down to brass tacks.  Like Suzi, I have become an ardent admirer of the Irons (Up the Irons!) since they appeared in my musical orbit — only difference being that I may have become more aware of them much earlier than Suzi.  Then again, the only REAL reason for that is because I am much older.  Also, there isn’t going to be a lot of objectivity involved here…let us be clear, this is a completely biased review.

When I first began listening to Maiden, I was a MUCH younger man than I am now.  I also have one concert experience to covet, and I can’t even begin to tell you about it, because the memories just aren’t there.  I DO recall that Guns N’ Roses bowed out as the support band (supposedly because their star was on the rise and Axl didn’t think it ‘proper’ that G N’ R should open for somebody else at the time). Another American outfit, Hurricane, did the honours instead, and I remember not much else except for Dickinson‘s regular requests for us to “SCREAM FOR ME, OMAHA!!”

Since I’m the boss (or T’Gaffer, to use Yorkshire slang), and Maiden were the band that single-handedly got me into this whole Heavy Metal thing, if you two think you’ll get away without at least the odd interjection, you’ve got another thing coming!

So let’s get to it.  Damn straight.

The album is Maiden’s first studio double album (though I have a digital copy from Groove Music) and comes in at a whopping 92 minutes. It has  their longest ever track on it, which comes in at 18.01 minutes long and knocks Rime of The Ancient Mariner down to being Maiden‘s second longest track. It is *not* a concept album, although I rather feel it should be, but it quite thematic on the subjects of death and hell and other cheerful things like that.

If Eternity Should Fail  is our introduction which kicks off with some weird Spaghetti Western-esque “do-do-dooooooo” stuff before Bruce gives the most beautiful, ethereal standalone kick off to a vocal introduction to an album I think I’ve ever heard. What you then get is gloriously classic Maiden – all the things that make Maiden great – with something that’s new.  It’s old Maiden enough that no one is going to be upset, but new Maiden enough that it isn’t boring either.  And the lyrics are mind blowing.  It’s also instantly catchy.  I’m only on my third listening and singing along already.  At the end it has some really creepy spoken word stuff which gives you some flavour (and freaks you out).

As an opening track, this one sets the stall out well.  The intro is a bit… interesting.  Very 80’s synths (remember this band telling us in their sleeve notes that Metal and keyboards should never mix?  How times have changed!) backing a mournful verse, with Bruce showing another, Blues-y, side to his voice.  Then the rest of the band comes in and we’re in familiar territory.  This is Maiden.  A good one to start with.

If Eternity Should Fail follows The Red and The Black (more on that later) as track 5 in the States, and I was agog at the intro, a purely spacey, Egyptian-style intro that recalled some of the tracks from Powerslave, for me at least.  The requisite galloping and guitar-soloing are there, and at the five-minute mark there is a brief bass/drum takeover, of all things.  Bruce‘s vocal power is just that, an extraordinary display of an extraordinary man’s talents.  The voicing(s) at the end may be these blokes’ way of getting all philosophical on us, but who cares?  It SOUNDS cool!

Track 2 here in the UK is the previously released single Speed of Light which is *deep breath* the closest I think Maiden have ever come to releasing a Pop Song. It’s not bad, please do not misunderstand me for a single second, it’s just a bit poppy in a way I can’t put my finger on. It’s my least favourite track from the album, but it’s still good. From any other band I’d think it was perfectly acceptable. Anyway, it’s a bit boppy, and I want Maiden to make me scream and then displace bits of my spinal column head-banging. This track doesn’t do that. I do still find myself bouncing along in my desk chair signing the chorus though so, yeah…

Oh, give over, Elfie!  This one’s a cracker!  The song gallops along on sheer joy and showcases a band that are enjoying themselves.  After the last couple of albums, I’d begun to fear that Maiden had lost the ability to write quick songs.  This one proves me wrong, and does it in fine style.  Nicko even uses his cowbell!

Speed of Light, the track that first became available to us, is the last track to appear, ironically enough, on the US version.  Though it may sound tepid by some standards, it is a truly remarkable piece of work as well.  

The Great Unknown starts with all the guitars doing cunning understated things, and is almost stripped back for a Maiden guitar line. The Bruce comes in with some restrained vocals and then you get some keyboards I think, and the track just slowly builds up for well over a minute until finally around the 1 and a half minute mark Nicko gets unleashed on the drums and then the guitars kick into Maiden style and you get hit full on in the face with the glories of a full Maiden line up doing what they do best, while Bruce shows off all that opera singer training he had. Also, epic guitar solos.  I can see the crowds going nuts, with horns up screaming this one back in the middle of a festival already.

This one is an example of what Iron Maiden have been experts at for the last thirty years.  Slowburning, epic songs that build from quiet and thoughtful to full speed gallops, before returning to quiet, without feeling forced.  One thing that you can’t help but notice is the sheer quality of the guitar work from original member Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers (the former White Spirit and Gillan six-stringer who has now been with Maiden for something like a quarter of a century, but still feels like the new boy!), all underpinned and anchored by Steve Harris’s throbbing, galloping bass.

The Great Unknown comes in as the second track on this side of The Pond, and Steve begins this number in rather regal bass fashion.  The urgency is there, the in-your-face delivery is there – in fact, it’s ALL there, folks.  All we need to do is listen!  It occurred to me during my first listen of this track that NOBODY screams/yells at you/us like Bruce.  About 5 minutes in there is a contemplative shift of sorts, and …Unknown begins to sound like a different song, hell, even a different band, up to the fade-out. “And the world has fallen/And we stand alone” – kind of prophetic lyrics, but then they do that occasionally, don’t they?

Up next is my favourite track from the album – The Red and The Black. Kicks off with Spanish-style guitars and then kicks into a high octane, thumping, thrumming wall of glorious, multi-coloured sound. Seriously, it is an aural orgasm. You know how Maiden have a back catalogue full of songs that you can just jump and down to, singing “woaoh ah ohhh oh!” along with a slamming guitar line and drums that are just right where it’s at (Lars Ulrich can piss off, Nicko is king FOREVER) THIS IS THAT TRACK. It’s just perfection. I can’t even begin to tell you how perfect it is – it jumps to being my number three favourite Maiden track (Fear of the Dark and Number of The Beast are at 1 and 2. Incidentally Can I Play With Madness is fourth). It’s also a glorious 13 minutes long. There’s always a risk with long tracks that they’ll get boring halfway through. Not so, with this one. It’s 13.33 minutes of sheer perfection.

The Red and the Black is up fourth here in the expanse that is Nebraska too, and I don’t know that a bigger track has been heard (at least not to these ears) in quite some time.  Steve begins the proceedings again, I believe, though these ears MAY be a bit untrained.  Any bass players out there that would be willing to express their opinion(s) would be more than welcome!  Emotions and guitar solos are running high on this track as well, and at about the ten-minute mark things shift to a more uptempo rendering.  At ten-and-a-half the repetition, though oh-so-subtle, is the only thing that takes away from the track.  Repetition CAN be cool, methinks.  Perhaps in another world, repetition is all the rage!  At twelve minutes in we do another shift to that world-famous, globe-trotting gallop, and then Steve ends things, kind of like he did at the beginning – you remember, back at the beginning of this track?

There’s some very interesting guitar work on this one, acting as a mirror to Bruce’s melody line, playing along to his singing, matching him note-for-note.  The wash of keyboards in the background adds colour and depth without overwhelming anything else.  Probably the most striking thing is that, four songs in, with nothing clocking in at less than five minutes (most either pushing or exceeding 10 minutes) none of these have overstayed their welcome or sounded forced.  It’s really looking like Iron Maiden have completed their transformation from meat-and-potatoes NWOBHM to a fully-fledged Prog Metal band of the type the likes of Dream Theater can only dream of being.  The Red And The Black is just one of the tracks that reinforces that.  Then there’s the gear shift at around nine minutes in that just makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

When The River Runs Deep should then be an instant disappointment, following such an epic little adventure. However it isn’t. The Red and The Black has a peaceful finish to it and then When The River Runs Deep slams right into your face with a full-on start, and no build up. It’s “only” 5:52 long (there’s only one track shorter than 5 minutes on the whole album and it comes in at 4:58), and I’m sure there’s some cowbell in it. Just the right amount, it doesn’t need more. We’ve got Her Majesty’s Right Royal Air Raid Siren, Bruce Dickinson after all.

When The River Runs Deep is one of those classic Iron Maiden songs.  Unmistakeable.  Riffs, vocals and solos… all perfectly weighted and placed.

I found myself immensely enjoying US track 7, When the River Runs Deep, which in Maiden World is short but sweet at only about six minutes, but still an excellent track, with a super fucking bad-ass main riff and some soloing featuring one of those wah/crybaby pedals (I’m thinking probably Janick there).  The solos abound on this and all of the tracks.

The Book of Souls is the last track of Disc One for those with a physical copy here in the UK and track 6 for those with a digital version. It’s a 10 minute long epic, and it’s best listened to by sitting back and closing your eyes and letting it wash over you.  While you headbang, obviously.

Now then.  The title track.  The Book Of Souls.  Is it epic?  Yes.  Somewhat surprisingly, the keyboards are a lot further forward in the mix than you’d expect.  Again, that raises a wry smile, but it turns the song into something huge.  Then the pedal goes down at the halfway point and the goosebumps are back.  The soloing again is incredible.  Guitar afficianados bang on about Vai, Satriani, Friedman and Malmsteen… but if you want guitar heroics that actually serve the song, you really can’t do any better than Murray, Smith and Gers.  The energy and imagination in this track alone put bands twenty years younger to shame.  THIS is how you do Prog Metal.  Yes, you can do all the Proggy twiddly bits, but you remember the Metal.  

The title track, which you will find in penultimate position Stateside, begins life as it ends, with some positively heavenly acoustic guitar work.  Since when do these guys deploy such subtle weaponry?  I haven’t heard it on any tracks since, oh, say the last album?  All kidding aside, dear readers, The Book of Souls is a piece of work that needs to be heard to be believed.  It is incredible – it is fantastic.  It is, as Bruce intones, the “food of all the gods“.  Their are many sweet solos, and the crybaby pedal is broken out again.

Disc 2 kicks off with Death Or Glory and is an instantly upbeat faster paced (and shorter) track than The Book of Souls. It’s fairly punchy, with memorable lyrics, and is again, bound to be a crowd pleaser, but I got distracted listening to it and forgot to write anything. (Elfie! – T’Gaffer)

Death or Glory, which occupies the eighth slot here, features another big rock intro, complete with more wicked vocals and even a couple of paradiddles (getting a bit technical there, Rick! – T’Gaffer) from Nicko.  We get the full package here, folks, with no less than three guitar solos to boot!

Now this is what an album opener should sound like.  Yet Death Or Glory could be classed as the opener for “Side 2”.  This one’s got the Maiden swagger all over it.  This really is the sound of Iron Maiden in full flight, and it is truly majestic.  The goosebumps are back again as soon as they get to the bridge.  If you don’t get the urge to get out your air guitar about three minutes in, you have no soul.  On any other album, this would be the highlight track… but as my colleagues have already mentioned, this album is something special…

Shadows Of The Valley follows Death Or Glory in the UK, and again it’s fairly fast paced. Disc One may be all slow build up songs that then smack you in the face, Disc Two is full of boiling over tracks who have already reached a full head of steam by the time they start. I can’t put my finger on which previous release this track puts me in mind of, but whichever one it is, they’ve done it before. This seems to be a subtle re-working than an entirely new track. Still, bloody good though.

Unlike the UK version,  Shadows of the Valley is the album opener on the Stateside version.  I can hear Steve REALLY well, and of course that classic Maiden gallop is there.  Nicko’s drumwork is wonderful, I might add, and I can hear that beautiful ting ting ting of his cymbal(s).  Bruce is in wonderful form, considering his recent bout (Bruce wins!) with cancer, and there are plenty of guitar solos to go around.  “Into the valley of death“, Bruce intones, which we should realize takes on a completely different perspective, again considering Dickinson’s brush with the Reaper.

They’re at it again on Shadows Of The Valley!  Another slab of classic Maiden.  Bruce is singing out of his skin… which is truly amazing when you consider that, when this was recorded, he had a tumour “the size of a golfball” on his tongue.  There’s the hint of an Eastern influence on the riffing.  Those solos… as I type this, the song is playing and the hairs on the back of my neck are standing on end.  This one is going to go down a storm at the live shows.

Tears of a Clown is the albums shortest track coming in at a mere 4.58. It’s also (apparently) based on Robin Williams’ death in 2014. The opening guitars don’t quite ring right for me – they’re a little off beat somehow, but then it improves.  The opening lyrics:

All along in a crowded room
He tries to force a smile
The smile it beamed or so it seemed
But never reached the eyes, disguise
Masquerading as the funny man do they despise

…are absolutely heartbreaking and a very poignant reminder of the complexities of mental health. It is, a solid tribute both to Robin Williams (assuming the story is true) and to those battling mental health stigma everywhere. Never let it be said that Maiden are scared to tackle the hard subjects. And unlike a lot of bands they manage to do it in a non-sensationalist way as well.

It’s absolutely spot-on.  Despite the somewhat cliched title, the song itself is pretty much perfect.  Lyrically poignant… and that guitar work.  I know, I keep coming back to it, but this triple attack from Messrs Gers, Murray and Smith is truly awe inspiring, and there’s no hyperbole in that.  Each and every time, the soloing is incredible.

Tears of a Clown is the shortest track on board here, at just under five minutes, but it is no less cooler than the remainder of the tracks.  It features a wickedly cool intro, and is probably a perfect example of the stop-start, proggy time signature freak-outs that our parents warned us would screw up our ears and the rhythm of our hearts!  More of the wah-pedal being stepped on, which I ALWAYS enjoy, as well.

The Man of Sorrows isn’t any more cheerful and is the penultimate track of the album which also is seemingly based on a mental health theme. It’s probably the most haunting track on the album, and has  slower paced verses and vocals that really let Bruce’s range go to work. Like all Maiden tracks there’s a fairly long vocal free intermission in the middle. Always a pleasure to listen to musicians who are skilled at what they do making some melodies work their asses off.

The Man of Sorrows has a sweet guitar opening, weighing in as track 6 in the US, and an extremely cool ending as well, with a slamming pounder of a riff (1:30), more galloping (2:00), and more guitar solos (4:00/4:30).

Finally, the album comes ot a glorious close with The Empire Of The Clouds. Written solely by Bruce (as was If Eternity Should Fail), it boots Rime of The Ancient Mariner from the longest Maiden track slot, being as Rime is a mere 13 minutes long, and Clouds comes in at 18.01. It also features Bruce on the piano and begins with a distinctly unMaidenish piano intro. This is not a headbanger, this a Lie Back And Enjoy It. And it’s beautiful. There’s even a violin. Or something with strings at any rate. Anyway, it’s a gloriously fitting closer to an album that has been a long time in the making.

Empire of the Clouds (US track 3!) pretty much sums up the definition of epic, and even when faced with other standard side-long prog tracks, it does NOT lack whatsoever.  There is plenty of pomp and circumstance, Stürm und Drang, as it were, and you know it’s going to be an absolute monster when there are keys and strings involved!  The introduction features a beautiful piano piece, and about a minute in we get some gorgeous violin work.  Two minutes in, we get some powerful vocals.  You don’t really hear your first taste of guitar until about three-and-a-half minutes in!  At the four-minute mark, things get decidedly heavier.  This one is positively hair-raising – I literally had gooseflesh during my first listening to it!  Again, plenty of lead guitar work to go around, and the big Nicko shift (7 minutes in) is interesting to say the least.  If one were to look in Webster’s (or the Oxford English Dictionary for those of us on this side of The Pond! – T’Gaffer) under ‘vocal prowess’, then there would be a big picture of Bruce there with this track!  There are transitions a-plenty as well, and at fifteen minutes in, you would swear we were listening to a different track again!  Towards the end, at about 17 minutes in, as the track begins to fade out, we get more of that ‘grand’ piano stuff.  This track in particular kind of says it all, and could even be indicative of a Maiden ‘formula’, if there were one!

So after 1600-odd words of my waffling at you, what do I think of The Book of Souls? Well, frankly I think it’s a continuation of a 40 year long career standard. There’s not many bands who can consistently turn out excellent albums. Iron Maiden are one of those bands. Longterm fans won’t be disappointed and new fans will be left wanting more. I’m rating this album 5/5 but only because Carl won’t let me rate it as an 11. (Just this once, I might let you do that, Suzi – T’Gaffer)

It’s been five years since The Final Frontier (which I have to admit was something of a disappointment).  The question that has to be asked is, “Has it been worth the wait?”  The answer has to be, and can only be in the affirmative.  If you’re going to call this a “comeback” album, it’s been the best return since Osiris.  This is a band that, even after nearly 40 years, are capable of working magic.  Not content with nostalgia trips, this is a band that is pushing forward and pushing forward hard.  It’s likely we will never see the like of Iron Maiden again, and the credit for that lies firmly in the hands of Steve “Bomber” Harris.  He put this band together.  He’s the lynchpin that holds this band together.  His drive, determination and sheer ability to pick exactly the right musicians to fit his vision have absolutely come to full fruition with The Book Of Souls.  Every single note played on this incredible record just proves that Iron Maiden are the greatest Heavy Metal band in the world.  Ever.

If you disagree, you’re wrong.  It’s as simple as that.  Full marks.  Album of the fucking DECADE.  UP THE IRONS!

For those of you whose musical orbit does not land in Maiden Land, this may NOT be for you.  However, for those of you who are about to Rock, as we all do from time to time, this is the stuff right here!  I am in complete agreement with my cohort, Suzi – at the very least, highest marks with two thumbs straight the hell up!

(P.S Maiden for Bloodstock 2016 alright? Please don’t let them Download, I don’t want to deal with the tweenagers)

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*****(******)/5

Blaze Bayley invites fans to help with new album

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Wolfsbane and former Iron Maiden vocalist, Blaze Bayley will be opening the doors to the process behind creating his eighth album.

Back in March 2015, he began writing the science fiction story that will form the basis for this concept album.  As he begins the work of putting everything together, he will be giving fans the opportunity to get involved.

 

Pre-orders will be starting on the 1st of September, and the fans will be able to opt in on an exclusive membership package. Members will receive exclusive items and monthly email updates on the new album, which will contain information on the development of the artwork, the album and song titles, videos of writing and recording sessions and rehearsals and interviews with the musicians involved.  When the album is released, members will also receive an exclusive printed magazine and a making of DVD.

  

For a few hours each month, Blaze will be available for personal calls with the members to discuss the progress of the album and any other questions those fans may have.  Ultimate members will be able to take part in an exclusive competition, with the winners voices being part of the dream song on the album. 

“ I’ve always had a strong interest in science and cosmology and A.I. and those subjects have featured in a lot of my songs on past albums. Now I’m taking this to the next level by having a complete concept album set 100 years into the future. This is a story that follows on from the ideas and songs I had on my first two solo albums, Silicon Messiah and Tenth Dimension. I’m really excited about being able to have some of my fans involved so much at this stage of the process. There are always struggles, great moments, little bits of magic and some kind of crisis that happens during the process of making every one of my albums so far. I’m sure this one will be no different. I can’t wait to share these moments with the fans. I want to say a massive thank you to all my fans. Your support has made it possible for me to be independent and to continue making music. Now I will attempt make the best record I have ever made.”

More details on the pre-order packages can be found on the website www.blazebayley.net and Facebook page .  Pre-orders for the new album start on the 1st of September at 8 PM UK time

David Coverdale looks back at the Purple years

The mighty Whitesnake have reared their heads to release their twelfth studio emission The Purple Album, which will be something of a pleasant surprise to their hardcore fans.

Recorded and mixed by the old King Snake himself, David Coverdale and co-produced by Michael McIntyre and ‘Snake guitarist Reb Beach at Hook City Studios in Reno, The Purple Album draws on the songs from the three Deep Purple Mk III and IV studio albums featuring Coverdale: Burn, Stormbringer and Come Taste The Band

All the songs on the new album are presented as a respectful tribute to his former colleagues and pay homage to the band who started him on an amazing musical journey over 40 years ago that continues today.

“Even though we’re playing songs I recorded with Purple over 40 years ago, it has all the classic Whitesnake elements people who support us have come to expect…” says Coverdale, “I thought it would be cool to go out, as it were, the way I came in to this music business.”

From the opening track, the incendiary classic Burn through to the sonic insanity of StormbringerRedcar native David Coverdale brings his career full circle from when a 21-year-old singer/songwriter bravely answered a music press ad to become the new lead singer for Deep Purple in 1973.

After leaving Deep Purple in 1976, Coverdale formed the original Whitesnake in 1977, beginning a journey that has taken him from the early heavy blues rock of the late ‘70s with albums like Trouble, LovehunterReady And Willing and Come An’ Get It through to the explosive hard rock of the revamped ‘Snake sound with the multi-platinum version of Slide It In1987 and Slip Of The Tongue.

“People have been asking me for many years to revisit Purple songs like Mistreated and Soldier Of Fortune with Whitesnake, but I always felt like I should be writing new, fresh Whitesnake songs for the fans.

In 2012 I was told by a representative of the old Purple management that keyboard maestro Jon Lord, who had worked with me in Whitesnake, too, had been diagnosed in with cancer and that Jon’s wish on his recovery would be that we put together a Purple reunion of sorts. I agreed to be there for him. As we all know, sadly he didn’t recover.

After Jon passed away, I felt it necessary to reach out to Ritchie Blackmore to express the grief at Jon’s loss and to hopefully bury any unpleasant hatchets we’d been throwing at other for decades. It was during our reconnect that we discussed the possibility of some kind of a Purple reunion or a Blackmore/Coverdale project. During the time we were talking, I started listening to our old albums and began working on ideas and new approaches to suggest, rearranging some of our original works.

Unfortunately, our ideas on the reunion aspect didn’t quite gel, so I respectfully withdrew from further discussions, though I am happy to say we did bury old animosities and we have thankfully stayed in touch.

It was Coverdale’s wife, Cindy who suggested that he take his ideas and make a new Whitenake studio album celebrating his legacy from his time with Deep Purple. “And that’s how it all happened. I discussed the idea with my musicians and our record company and everyone was very positive. So it was all systems go for The Purple Album.

Coverdale and the band picked their favourite Purple songs from Mk III and IV and set to work at the band’s new recording studio, Hook City.

They also shot the four new promotional videos on site at Hook City.

It was a shared vision,” Coverdale says. “Every member of the band came to the sessions fully loaded with ideas and talent and helped make this a memorable project for me.”

Whitesnake now brings you The Purple Album, featuring ‘Snaked up versions of those beloved Purple classics many will be introduced to for the first time and with a seriously kick-ass chapter of the band that can reinterpret these classics with the passion they deserve.

There was absolutely no intention to compete, or compare with the original recordings. We just wanted to play these songs the best we could and this is how we wanted to play them,” says Coverdale.

SOILWORK release official lyric video for ‘Tongue’

Swedish metallers SOILWORK have released a lyric video for ‘Tongue’. The track is from the band’s new album The Living Infinite; the first double album in the history of Melodic Death Metal. Check out the video on YouTube, here:

SOILWORK kick off their European tour next month and will be hitting the stage at The Underworld in Camden, London on the 13th of November. Support comes from KEEP OF KALESSIN + SYBREED and tickets can be purchased here: http://www.theunderworldcamden.co.uk/gigs/events/13-nov-13-soilwork-underworld

The Living Infinite was released on the 4th of March this year and is available in the following formats:

CDhttp://smarturl.it/SW-Liv-Inf-AMZN-2CD
iTuneshttp://smarturl.it/SoilworkLIiTunes
Vinyl – http://smarturl.it/swtliblvnlamz

VISTA CHINO Stream whole of “Peace”

Vista Chino

Straight from the desert we give you an exclusive glimpse on the new record by Ex-KYUSS members John Garcia and Brant Bjork. Here the whole album here:

VISTA CHINO have limited pre-order bundles available in the UK. Both the CD and Double album versions of ‘PEACE’ feature an exclusive A2 poster only available here while stocks last.

Get the CD media book version and Poster here: http://goo.gl/7gR0oJ
And the Double album version and Poster here: http://goo.gl/4YGgYE

Rising from the desert sands that birthed Kyuss Lives, VISTA CHINO’s sound is instantly familiar.  With the trademark soulful vocals of John Garcia, the songwriting and production of Brant Bjork (drums) and the fuzz-laden riffage of imported guitarist Bruno Fevery, VISTA CHINO’s debut is one of the year’s most anticipated heavy rock albums. A new band born of a storied past, right now it’s about these players playing these songs.

‘PEACE’ is released on Napalm Records on September 2, 2013 in the UK.

To hear “Dargona, Dragona” visit the VISTA CHINO facebook page,  clicking the “like” button will enable the audio.

www.facebook.com/VistaChinoBand

Catch VISTA CHINO live here:

VISTA CHINO  + Monster Truck European Tour 2013
18.10.13 FI  – Turku / Klubi
19.10.13 FI  – Jyväskylä / Lustakko
20.10.13 FI  – Helsinki / Nosturi
22.10.13 SE – Stockholm / Debaser Strand
23.10.13 SE – Gothenburg / Tragarn
24.10.13 NO – Oslo / Rockefeller
25.10.13 DK – Copenhagen / Loppen
27.10.13 DE – Osnarbrück / Rosenhof
28.10.13 DE – Hamburg / Docks
30.10.13 UK – Manchester / Ritz
31.10.13 UK – Birmingham / Institute
01.11.13 UK – Bristol / O2 Academy
02.11.13 UK – London / Roundhouse
04.11.13 UK – Glasgow / Garage
05.11.13 UK – Notthingham / Rock City
06.11.13 UK – Newcastle / O2 Academy
08.11.13 DE – Erfurt / HSD
10.11.13 DE – Berlin / Huxleys
11.11.13 DE – Dresden / Alter Schlachthof
14.11.13 AT – Salzburg / Rockhouse
15.11.13 CH – Pratteln / Z7
16.11.13 IT   – Milan / Live Club
18.11.13 DE – Augsburg / Kantine
19.11.13 DE – Frankfurt / Batschkapp
20.11.13 DE – Köln / Live Music Hall
22.11.13 BE – Tourhout / De Mast
23.11.13 NL – Eindhoven / Klokgebouw SPEEDFEST  John Garcia: