Category Archives: album reviews

Melodic metal: album review – The Ferrymen ‘A New Evil’

This review was originally published by Get Ready To Rock here

Although the name may conjure up images of a Gerry & The Pacemakers tribute act playing package tours to provincial theatres, The Ferrymen are actually a European metal outfit fronted by Ronnie Romero on vocals who, of course, was chosen by Ritchie Blackmore to perform that same task when he embarked upon his return to the rock world and the resurrection of the iconic Rainbow brand.

A New Evil is the follow-up to The Ferrymen’s self-titled debut which was released in June 2017. Polished, well-produced melodic metal of the type that has become almost synonymous with the Frontiers label, the album makes its presence felt in dramatic but not entirely unpredictable fashion. Orchestral-style flourishes and spooky-sounding choral introductions lead us into thunderous hard rock. Romero’s Dio-esque vocals are well-suited to the material, all of which is written by Swedish guitarist, Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear, Magnus Karlsson’s Free Fall), who delivers all the guitar, bass and keyboards parts on the album. The third member of the trio is drummer Mike Terrana (Rage, Axel Rudi Pell) whose furious drumming (deservedly high in the mix throughout the album) provides a perfect counterpoint to the lush but intensely powerful instrumentation delivered by Karlsson.

While the album can seem a tad predictable at times it does exactly what it says on the tin and delivers classy-sounding melodic metal, appealingly memorable song-writing and flawless vocals. Fans of classic-era Dio et al will really warm to A New Evil right down to the cover art – and won’t be at all disappointed by what’s inside.

Released 11th October by Frontiers Music

TheFerrymen_600x600

https://www.facebook.com/TheFerrymenofficial/

Related review:

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow at Birmingham 2017

Singer-songwriter: album review – Gary Fulton ‘Blood and Dust’

Blood and Dust is the fifth album from Cheshire-based singer songwriter, Gary Fulton. Branded in the acoustic folk category, comparisons have been made with Nick Harper and Rory McLeod and his music has been championed by the likes of Fatea. To be honest, however, there’s so much zestful energy in his songs I heard everything in there, from George Thorogood to 80s/90s indie a la The Las to 60s flower-power era Status Quo. Fulton’s talent is undoubtedly an ability to combine engaging lyrics with unforgettably catchy melodies.

For one who creates music so appealing and with a comparatively weighty back catalogue Fulton has a fairly low-key presence online and there’s not a huge amount of information about the artist to be found either on his reverb-nation site or in the press release that accompanied the album. However, Fulton is certainly deserving of wider attention and, hopefully, the excellent Blood and Dust will go some way to achieving that.

Released: 8th September 2019

210KnM7dasL._AA256_

 

Metal: album review – Sascha Paeth’s Masters of Ceremony ‘Signs of Wings’

This review was originally published by Get ready To Rock here

UK audiences may not be too familiar with German-born Sascha Paeth but the multi-instrumentalist and producer has had a hand in many, many dozens of albums for an extensive roster of bands over the past three decades. These include the likes of Avantasia, Kamelot, Rhapsody and Epica.

Now Paeth has put together his own band: “Finally, I am putting my energy into a metal project of my own. It is the sum of my experiences over the years and a bit of a revival of what I was doing in the past.”

The musicians that he’s recruited are Felix Bohnke on drums, André Neygenfind on bass, Corvin Bahn on keyboards and American singer Adrienne Cowan. Style-wise it explores a variety of different textures from the melodic to the more straight-ahead metal. Cowan’s powerful range certainly suits the mix of styles on the album from the full-frontal assault of ‘The Time Has Come’ to the symphonic Blackmore-esque ‘Weight of the World’ to the delicate piano-driven ballad ‘The Path’. All of the album’s eleven tracks are either written by Paeth alone or co-written with lead singer, Cowan, and demonstrate a good ear for creating catchy but powerful songs.

Production-wise it’s as polished as anything you’d expect from the Frontiers stable and Paeth and the record label seem perfectly suited to one another.

Powerful, melodic and inventive Signs of Wings is a piece of well-crafted European metal that’s worth seeking out.

Released: Frontiers 13th September 2019

image-asset

https://www.facebook.com/saschapaethsmastersofceremony/

Interview with Gary Moat of Burnt Out Wreck

On the day Burnt Out Wreck’s new album ‘This Is Hell’ is released I caught up with the band’s front-man and former Heavy Pettin’ drummer, Gary Moat.

So the new Burnt Out Wreck album is released today. Tell us about it.

Just carrying on in the same sort of style as ‘Swallow’ – the song itself, not particularly the whole album. More a straight-ahead kind of rock n roll. It’s a bit faster paced this album. We needed some of that to go live really. And we’re really looking forward to getting out there and doing it.

Did ‘Swallow’ kind of set the template for Burnt Out Wreck then?

Yes most certainly. It’s just my favourite style of music, you know. And that’s the way I write so I had to go down that path eventually in my life. So this is it. It’s just the best form, the most enjoyable form of rock I’ve ever heard in my life. So that’s why I had to do this.

On this album particularly because we’ve got all of the new band and obviously they’re playing on it live and yeah – it just sounds good because it’s not all come out of me this time.

Was the first album you bringing in different musicians then, before you created the permanent band?

I was doing it on my own and I said to Adrian (Dunn – guitarist) do you want to come in and have a go at this but it was just the two of us. I played drums. I played bass. I played rhythm guitar. But when you put a band together it becomes a different animal, you know. And it’s far better for it I must say.

BOW band

Everyone obviously comments on the AC/DC influence when they see Burnt Out Wreck.

You know, everyone always goes on about Bon Scott and AC/DC and that’s obviously the first thing that comes to mind for them and I sing in that register. At 15/16 AC/DC were just the best thing in the world and Bon Scott was amazing. And so that’s why I sing like that, not because I wanted to copy what he was doing but just because that’s the way that my voice developed. And because I was listening to them my whole life, I suppose, I took it on in my head somewhere. There are other bands though. People forget about bands like Rose Tattoo and Krokus – Airbourne even. Some people try and have a little dig at you because your ‘copying AC/DC’ but you know all of these bands are copying AC/DC if you like. But they’re not really because they’re just blues rock bands. I keep going back to this but if you go back to bands that inspired AC/DC, you know the old blues players from America. You can’t distinguish who’s who. They’re all playing a twelve-bar blues and they all sing like each other. It was not that different in the modern era.

When did the desire to sing first emerge? Were you thinking about it back in the days you were drumming with Heavy Pettin’?

Yeah I get asked this a lot. It was there in me. I suppose it’s there in everyone to get up and have a sing. When I was becoming a teenager and started going to pubs and clubs I started getting up and singing with other bands, as well as being the drummer in the band I was in at the time. But when we started Heavy Pettin’ Hamie was obviously the choice for the frontman because I was a drummer. And I had no intention of being a singer. I didn’t want to do it. But the thing is myself and Gordon were the songwriters and Hamie was the singer so I was making the parts up… So I’ve always been singing and writing songs. But when Heavy Pettin’ split up I thought I’m going to do it myself this time. But it’s taken all these years to actually get in there and make my own style.

And, presumably, when you were writing the songs it started to feel more authentic to sing them yourself and express yourself in that way?

Oh yeah. It sounds better coming out of yourself. And people tell me that all the time, you know and that they appreciate it. They like it. And thanks very much to those people.

It was quite a gap between Heavy Pettin’ coming to an end in the late 80s and Burnt Out Wreck now – talk us through what you were doing in between.

I was writing songs, of course, and some of the songs that are on these two albums were written many years ago but not finished. Never finished until I was going to pick them up for the albums. Because you just scribble an idea down. You just get a guitar riff and put it on tape or whatever way back and you just leave it on the shelf. But I’d get around to them eventually. After the band split up way back in 1989 everybody went their separate ways and did whatever they did – got jobs, got married, had kids and just cracked on with life, you know. It took until 1992 for me and Gordon to put a band together called Mother’s Ruin and we played around for many years just on and off. We did gigs mainly around the Milton Keynes area. And then everyone went their separate ways again, going to uni and stuff. We had some younger guys in it. But some of the songs from that are on the first album. But they just sat there and eventually it got to a point where I thought I just hate these songs being left there and nobody’s heard them so I thought I’d put them out you know.

It must be nice to see those song titles finally being released.

Yes and with the first album we’ve had praise from all around the world. Everyone seems to love it and the second album looks as though it’s going to go the same way.

Gary Moat

You’re supporting the Pete Way Band this autumn. And your old band was actually named after a UFO album. Did you know Pete from UFO days back then?

No. The only time I ever met Pete Way was 87/88 when we were recording the Big Bang album and Waysted were in the studio next door to us. I went to see UFO many times, of course. They were all big heroes and influences on all of us I suppose. He told me he really likes our stuff and obviously he’s looking forward to us playing. Yeah it’s just incredible that someone you think of as one of your old heroes thinks you’re good.

You obviously come across quite a few younger bands when you’re out gigging and doing festivals. Are you pleased to see this renaissance of classic rock and the so-called New Wave of Classic Rock? And are there any of the younger bands that you particularly admire?

We do a lot of these festivals and I’ve seen many people. I don’t actually listen to music. I just write my own stuff. I’m in my own little bubble and if I hear something then either instantly it’s good or instantly it’s oh never mind. There are some good bands. I especially like Scarlet Rebels who’ve supported us.

What can we expect from Burnt Out Wreck on this latest tour? Is it a mixture of songs from the two albums? Will there be any covers?

We usually play (Heavy Pettin’ song) ‘Rock Ain’t Dead’ but I don’t think we’ll be playing that any more. We’ve two albums worth now so we don’t need to be slapping that out now, even though it’s a big crowd pleaser and we’re certainly very good at playing it. But yeah we’re really excited and dying to get out to play live and to play some new material. Because we’ve been out on the road for three years, basically, and we’ve just been playing that one album. And we’ve been itching to get into the new one. We knew it was coming but I didn’t want to go out and play it until it was actually out. So we just waited and it will be a mixture. But more leaning towards the new album because er.. we just love it!

This Is Hell released 11 October 2019 on Burnt Out Wreck/Cherry Red
Burnt Out Wreck tour dates here https://www.burntoutwreck.com/tour

285207

Related reviews:

Anvil / Burnt Out Wreck / VOiD at The Underworld 2018

Four Sticks – Classic Rock All Dayer at the New Cross Inn

Four Sticks Classic Rock Weekender at the New Cross Inn

Pete Way interview

News: Scottish folk band Skipinnish celebrate twentieth anniversary

Scottish folk band Skipinnish celebrate their twentieth anniversary this year. The band’s origins may have been modest, gigging in pubs and bars and village halls but their rise in recent years has been phenomenal – with prestigious venues selling out, many millions of streams on Spotify and other platforms and their latest album Steer By The Stars reaching number 4 in the charts. And that was not some obscure specialist folk chart but the actual official UK mainstream charts .

Now the album has been nominated for Album of the Year at the Scottish Trad Music Awards. Fans of the band can vote for the album here: https://projects.handsupfortrad.scot/scotstradmusicawards/voting/

Visiting familiar themes for the band of ocean, island, landscape, love, hope, mortality, friendship and the pull of home the album was officially launched to a packed house at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall back in May this year and has gone on to attract many enthusiastic reviews.

The band’s twentieth anniversary is officially marked with a special performance at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on October 25th and that will be followed by a short tour of Scottish venues in December.

https://www.skipinnish.com/

1072350593

Folk: album review – Bird In The Belly ‘Neighbours and Sisters’

Sifting through a stack of new folk CDs that arrived in the post for review over recent weeks, this one immediately stood out.

Bird in the Belly are a Brighton-based traditional four-piece and their debut album The Crowing, which was released in Spring 2018, caused something of a stir – picking up numerous plaudits including the Sunday Express’s album of the year.

Neighbours and Sisters immediately impressed the moment I put it on, putting me in mind of a pre-amped up, early Steeleye Span in some ways. The collective is made up of Ben ‘Jinnwoo’ Webb (vocals), Laura Ward (vocals, flute), Adam Ronchetti (percussion, acoustic guitar, shruti) and multi-instrumentalist Tom Pryor (violin, guitars, organ, banjo, bass, additional vocals). With eight traditional songs and two originals they’ve delved deep into the folk song index and unearthed some wonderful, but not particularly well-known, nineteenth century ballads and applied some breathtakingly good arrangements. Webb’s voice is as gravelly and full of character as Ward’s is pure and enchanting. Together they are a perfect fit. This sounds like an album I’ve been playing for years and fell in love with a long, long time ago – and I’ve only had it on twice so far…

An album of character, presence and purpose combined with superb vocals, effortlessly brilliant instrumentation and excellent song choices, Neighbours & Sisters is set to be one of the stand-out folk albums of 2019.

Released: 18th October 2019 by GF*M Records

https://www.birdinthebelly.com/

BITB_album_cover.jpg

 

Folk-rock: DVD review – Merry Hell ‘A Year In The Life of Merry Hell’

Evolving out of an ad-hoc reunion of 90s folk-punk band, the Tansads, Wigan-based folk rockers, Merry Hell, have been making a decisive impact on the UK’s folk and festival scene over the past nine years. With several albums under their belt they now come at us with a DVD. Titled ‘A Year In The Life of Merry Hell’ it’s a documentary that follows the band between February 2018 and February 2019 – and when we say documentary it is very much a carefully-crafted film worthy of the name rather than a video of concert footage with a few dressing room interviews tacked on to the end.

Made by the band themselves and produced, directed, filmed and edited by Merry Hell fiddle player, Neil McCartney, it’s a fascinating insight into this tightly-knit band of close family members and long-term friends.

We see the band on the road – at festivals and backstage at various venues – but we also see individual members at home, in pubs or visiting some of their favourite places. We get to hear about musical influences (punk, Susan Vega, Nick Drake and hymn melodies…) but we also get to hear about literary influences, too. Orwell looms large, and not just for Wigan Pier, either.

Engaging, funny, moving, and highly personal, as band documentaries go ‘A Year In The Life of Merry Hell’ stands head and shoulders above many films about far, far more famous musicians. In fact, I’d go so far as saying that even if you’d never heard of Merry Hell and you had zero interest in folk rock, this documentary would still be compulsive viewing for the warm and very human portrayal of its subject matter.

Released: September 2019 

http://www.merryhell.co.uk/

documentary-cover

Related reviews:

Album review: Merry Hell ‘Anthems To The Wind’

EP review: Merry Hell ‘Bury Me Naked’

EP review: Merry Hell ‘Come On England!’

 

 

Hard rock: album review – Big River ‘Redemption’

It’s been a long time coming and they’ve whetted our appetite with a handful of singles along the way but Kent-based hard rock outfit Big River have finally released their debut album.

Meaty guitar, soulful vocals, catchy hooks, great solos and chugging rhythm, not to mention some nice touches of harmonica, Redemption has a pleasingly retro feel to it with echoes of some of the great hard rock albums of the early to mid 70s.

Recorded over a two-year period at Rochester’s Ranscombe Studios in Kent under the guidance of producer Jim Riley, close to thirty songs were written for the album but they’ve narrowed it down to nine (ten if you buy the CD which includes a bonus track). Stand-out tracks include Blues Blood Baby, ‘Hometown Hustler’ and ‘Blackened Rain’ – all previously released as singles – alongside the anthemic ‘You Are My Sun’ and the soulful ‘Who Do You Want Me to Be’.

Big River are: Adam Bartholomew (vocals), Damo Fawsett (guitar), Ant Wellman (bass) and Joe Martin (drums). Guitarist, Damo Fawsett, comments: “To capture the energy and chemistry in every track, we record it live, we’re all in the same room playing the songs & that really does make for something special, no click tracks, no gimmicks and very minimal overdubs. What you hear on the recordings is how we sound live on stage.”

Redemption is available in two formats: 10-track CD which includes a CD-only bonus track and as a 9-track album on all digital platforms.

Fans of genuinely classic-era classic rock will find plenty to like on this album.

Released: 16th August 2019 on Trouserphonic

www.facebook.com/bigriverblues

Big River

Related review:

Dave “Bucket” Colwell at Leo’s Red Lion, Gravesend 2016

Singer-songwriter: album review – Sheila K Cameron ‘River to Sea’

River To Sea is a collaboration by singer song-writer Sheila K Cameron and Johns Saich and Mags Russell of Wild Biscuit.

The project began life as seven tracks released in 2016 under the title More Like a River Than a Road, inspired by the Tlell River on one of the Haida Gwaii islands off the coast of British Columbia. The collaboration continued and another five tracks were recorded, this time with the inspiration moving to the the Tiree island, off the west coast of Scotland. Together both sets of songs form this album River to Sea.

There’s a depth and a maturity to Cameron’s lyrics and singing and in her biography she describes herself as being at the third stage of her work as a singer and performer. Some gentle and appealing musical accompaniment from Saich and Russell, particularly some beautiful piano playing, serves to make this a very appealing album.

I’ve previously championed the work of another singer-songwriter Marina Florance, another artist who emerged as a singer-songwriter later in life, and in their abilities to deliver heartfelt, passionate, authentic songs borne of lifetime’s experiences there are some obvious parallels. I am more than happy to recommend this album.

Released: 17th June 2019 by Glalell

https://sheilakcameron.com

http://www.wildbiscuit.com/

Sheila2_PR1

Folk: album review – Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer ‘Twelve Months & A Day’

This review was originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of fRoots magazine

Now on to their eighth album as a duo, Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer said they considered a number of possible themes for this, their latest offering but in the end it evolved into a celebration of everything they do. There are folk songs written in traditional style, tune-sets of Swedish polskas, William Morris verse put to contemporary music, a fifteenth-century Christmas carol and two songs from thirteenth-century continental Europe. Adding to that is a whole array of instruments that are set to work on the album including a selection of nyckelharpas, the bouzouki and the harmonium, not to mention ‘early music’ instruments the citrole, the cornu and the carnyx in addition to the more obvious guitar, flute and piano.

This everything-but-the-kitchen-sink could have resulted in an album that was interesting but somewhat erratic and lacking focus. However, such is the distinctive feel and verve that Swan and Dyer bring to their music that rather than getting in the way of building a clear identity, the sheer breadth of influences, material and instruments that make up the album very much help define it.

Normally, an album with such an extensive range of instrumentation would also have an equally extensive ensemble of guest musicians but, save for some additional percussion from Evan Carson guesting on a couple of tracks, it really is all the duo’s own work, an impressive testimony to the duo’s talents as multi-instrumentalists.

From the mad, irresistible, quirkiness of Grandpa Joe to the slow, haunting beauty of Ai Vis Lo Lop the inventive arrangements and superb musicianship, together with the duo’s lovely harmony vocals, serve to make Twelve Months & A Day a compelling album that will continue to cement Swan & Dyer’s reputation.

http://www.swan-dyer.co.uk/

Released: March 2019

TMAAD-300x268