Wednesday, November 7, 2007

It's November kiddies, time for some new music!

THE CHUCK NORRIS EXPERIMENT - "The Return Of Rock 'N' Roll" CD '07 (Masterrock, Swe) - Well, "The Return..." sure came quick and I ain't talkin' 'bout no Goddamn Bathory album! No, Sweden's majestic CHUCK NORRIS EXPERIMENT has ridden back into town, snarling & proud astride their iron horse of riffs that would make everyone from Angus Young to Dirty Power to Wayne Kramer not only nod in agreement but say, in a suitable drawl, "I believe we've got company." Some short 6 or 7 months down the line from their already etched-in-stone 2007 Top 10 entry "And The Rest Will Follow," they've gone it one better with this sonic visit to the gin mill at the center of the town called Rawk. In the days when bloated, wheezing old has-beens like Metallica take 5 years to make a living piece of shit, CNE has gone back to the days of the '70's, when rock & punk & everything was fresh and delivered not 1, but 2 records of 10-out-of-10 worth just like masters named Iommi, Powell & the like used to do. Here's the thing, guys & dollies: This album has songs with titles like "Cold Blood," "That Shit Is Over Jack" and "The Road The Dust And The Goddamn Power." And, unlike others, they have the songs that back it up. In spades. People with names like Chuck Ransom, Chuck Daniel, Chuck Lee Riot, Chuck Baker & Chuck The Ripper hammer out riff bonanzas that would make Dan Blocker wince, pump in vocals that would do well accompanying a full-scale back-alley brawl & then coat the whole thing with leads Sir Angus could have switched for any on "Powerage" & come out OK. The fact of the matter is that THE CHUCK NORRIS EXPERIMENT has returned once again to bring the Rawk and what they've brought is as great a record as this year will see. 10/10 (Hey, I thought I didn't give numerical ratings. Well, I just couldn't help myself this time!)

BLOOD ISLAND RAIDERS - "Blood Island Raiders" CD '07 (Inava, Eng) - Anybody remember the old NWOBHM battlecry, "Wwwwoooaaaarrrrrgggghhhh!!!!?" Well, this baby echoes those sentiments super large time. I happened to spy this little disc thumbing through a local CD emporium's metal section &, remembering a glowing review I'd read, plunked down the $12 it took to make it mine. Any regrets? Not unless you consider about a size 12 boot-print square in the forehead, laced with sometimes Schenker-esque lead shards piercing your eyeballs a bad, that's not a bad thing, is it? From "I Am The King" and "Demon" (Sheezus, what an opening salvo) to "Blade Of Vengeance" & "God's Breath Is Steel" (that title sounds like a collaboration between Paul Chain & Manowar), this is pure freaking English metal the way it's supposed to be done, peppered with some blue-collar American & leathered Swedish vibes as well without sounding derivative. In fact, imagine if Steve Harris & Glenn Danzig had some sort of run-in with Entombed behind a hardware store over who's getting the last air compressor. Yeah man, this is sweet stuff that is as fresh as it is getting better every time it spins in my player. The real deal.

ANEKDOTEN - "A Time Of Day" CD '07 (Virta, Swe) - I remember several years ago I got a package in the mail from my old "Overdrive" buddy, Janne Stark. It was the debut disc by a Swedish band he was hot on, a group called ANEKDOTEN entitled "Vemod." What I found unusual was that it was not the typical Stark recommendation...usually crushing '70's-inspired metal-rock with devastating bluesy lead guitar. This was something that reminded me for all the world of that dark, nasty & yet hauntingly melodic King Crimson affair, "Red." Intrigued, I listened. And a funny thing happened...I listened to that album almost exclusively for about 3 months on my busrides into & out of downtown Baltimore for work. This was music that was organic, angular & above all, addictive. Through the years, ANEKDOTEN would go on to release several more discs, now arriving at their 5th studio effort, "A Time Of Day." With each release, the same line-up has been present (Niklas Barker, Ana Sofi Dahlberg, Peter Nordin & Jan Erik Liljestrom) and the band's progression has been linear but oh-so interesting. As so many times, it's all in the songs & while that initial ANEKDOTEN disc will always hold a special place, it's pretty damn cool how these folks have grown as song writers. One listen to the likes of "30 Pieces" or "In For A Ride" will tell the tale of a band going from writing prog riffs (great though they were) to truly progressive & captivating songs. Yeah, all the trademark ANEKDOTEN points are there: the pensive vocals, the Fripp-tastic guitars, the haunting mellotron & cello. And yet, listen to how they raise the bar each time, this album being yet again a new standard in creating memorable numbers. Great stuff, and not just for a rainy day ride home on the bus!

JOHN FOGERTY - "Revival" CD '07 (Fantasy, US) - I've always had a soft spot for CCR and John Fogerty. Of course, you hear all the stories about his tyrannical reign over his former band but JF and his songwriting always struck me as a pretty cool, honest working-man kinda take on good ol' rock & roll. And, hey, let's face it, his guitar playing in those old gems like "Suzie Q" and "Heard It Through The Grapevine" didn't hurt. Of course, JOHN has gone on to a pretty successful solo career, pushed along by stuff like "Centerfield" back in the '80's. This effort sees FOGERTY returning to his age-old label, Fantasy and delivering a set that is a mixed bag. There is some really good stuff here, like the very Credence-ish "Long Dark Night" and er..."Credence Song," not to mention the emotional stirrings of "Summer Of Love." On the other side of the coin, there are a couple downright embarrassing moments, like the forced, overly-polished & frankly, desperate-for-a-hit sound of opener "Don't You Wish It Was True." All in all, a decent CD by an old guy who could've had a real gem, had he whittled this down to about 8 songs.