Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hey, you want a fat lip?

THUNDERLIP – “Thunderlip” CD ’07 (Lucid, US) – I have to admit it, and this may be a funny forum to do so, but I actually like the movie “The Sound Of Music.” My dad used to always watch it & play the soundtrack on his record player. I remember that one song from it, “My Favourite Things.” Well, what led to this review is one of my favourite kind of things. Would Julie Andrews like this album? I don’t know. I know she did appear topless in a movie not long after “TSOM,” so she may have some rawk & roll in her after all, but that’s beside the point. This is the point: One of my favourite things is to be out working during the day, driving from one place to another and I spy a local music emporium. A glance at the clock tells me I have a few minutes to kill, so I amble in & browse through the budget discs. I’m thinking, “Hmm…I’ve been looking for that used copy of ‘Sabotage,’” something like that. Suddenly, what to my wondering eyes does appear than a strange-looking cover I’ve never seen. It says…what is that, “THUNDER CLIP?” No, looking at the spine it’s THUNDERLIP. Weird name and the skull with the helmet on the front looks decidedly like something off a Manilla Road album from 1982. Turning it over, I see titles that could be from the Scott/Young song-book, like “Backseat Bedlam” & “Denim Destiny.” ‘Course, I also see some darker references like “The Prophecy,” “The Impaler” & well…now, they’ve got me. The last song is “Prophecy II: The Second Coming.” You know I’m a sucker for shit like that and hey, it’s $6. I figure a couple good songs, at least, why not. You know what happens next, right? Of course you do. I wouldn’t be writing a review like this if it ended up being a living piece of aardwolf dung like it is 9 out of 10 times. No, this is that magical 10th time. The mutha starts out great and then just keeps getting better. It kick my ass from front to back. Starting with the balls-out rawk of “Mister Informer,” there isn’t an ounce of let-up…no, it’s a ton of ass-whup. John Manning (another brother of Peyton or Eli?) and James Yopp do as much Les Paul-thru-Marshall-harmony-&-lead-solo dueling as you’d typically expect from a vintage Robbo/Gorham work-out. Chuck Krueger puts down a solid mile-long tract of Souther-fried barroom metal crooning. Hell, check him out in “Backseat Bedlam” when, in best Stevn T fashion, he calls out the guitarists name before a riveting solo. Thing is, this is top-level stuff, Rawk with the capital “R” and it needs to get imbedded with the force of a country wallop deep into the 2007 Top 10. From North Carolina, my friends, we have a damn dangerous crew on the loose and apparently they have 2 albums before this! Lovers of all things related to T Lizzy, Maiden, Bible Of The Devil, Dirty Power and the like (in other words, RAYSREALM gods), get busy writing. And, hey, give Julie Andrews a chance. This is so good, even she might like it!

LOUDNESS – “Metal Mad” CD ’08 (Tokuma, Jap) – Are we really going to have this debate? Is someone actually going to try and argue with me about how great LOUDNESS in general & Akira Takasaki in particular are? Save it. There are some things I will sit down and discuss like a rational human being. Most things, actually. Much as I love Brooks Robinson, I will sit for, oh, maybe five minutes and let someone try to convince me that Craig Nettles was a better 3rd baseman. Much as I think “24” may be the greatest action/drama TV show of all time, I’d probably let someone try to argue for NYPD Blue. For a moment or so. But come talking to me about how there’s been a better overall metal band for the last…hmmm…25 years or a better metal axe-slinger than Akira? Not happening. Sorry, no can do. Once again, Mr. Takasaki and crew have proven why I love them so much. Striking once again with the re-united & better-than-ever line-up of Mr. T (sorry, couldn’t resist that), Niihara, Yamashita and Higuchi, the LOUDNESS guys come up aces in every corner. From the opening salvo of “Fire Of Spirit,” through crushers like “High Flyer” and the more involved “Crimson Paradox” and “Call Of The Reaper,” this is simply metal supreme. Have these guys updated their sound, with a rawer production and more down-tuned, Pantera-styled riffage? Sure, but the fact remains that this is a lean, mean metal machine just as it was in the “Devil Soldier” days when they were just kids. Don’t know what else to tell you. Go on Amazon, plunk down your credit card for $40+ and order this baby. Sure, it’s a tall price to pay for one CD, but in quality per song ratio, it’s pretty tough to top. Here’s hoping for another US Tour!

GRAVEYARD – “Graveyard” CD ’08 (Tee Pee, Swe) – Ok, when you think of Gothenburg Sweden, the first thing that’s naturally going to come to mind is the legendary death metal scene that emanated from around those parts. Point is, after hearing this GRAVEYARD disc, I gotta say that’s missing a nice part of the picture. Now on first blush, it seems a lot of people are comparing this 4-piece (Joakim Nilsson –guitar/vocals, Jonatan Ramm – guitar/vocals, Rikard Eldlund – bass, Axel Sjoberg – drums) to another Swedish outfit, Witchcraft. I can’t say that’s a bad jumping off point but it doesn’t tell anywhere near the whole story. Sure, I’m betting GRAVEYARD have listened to their fair share of Pentagram as well as ancient vinyl treasures like November & Morly Grey. The fact remains that there’s also some other pretty interesting things going on here. Listen to the real & boisterous Stooges overtone that creeps in right from the get-go in opener “Evil Ways” (not the Santana song). Check out the jazzy, Larry Coryell-like lead guitar lines in “Lost In Confusion” and the back-room, smoky “Blue Soul.” Then grab an earful of “Submarine Blues.” This one somehow seamlessly combines that vintage SG-thru-Marshall ’70 crush with a distinct nod to some of the great early ‘90’s leaders like Mudhoney & early Soundgarden. Throw in uncontrolled drum insanity a la the master Keith Moon and you’ve got something that goes quite further than just being called a winner here. Yes, when you mix in emotional vocals along with a super variety of songs, amazing lead guitar throughout and a production job that’s nothing short of superior, you’ve got an early 2008 favourite working here. Excellent, and very nice to see this on Tee Pee Records. Sweet digipak, too.

IGNITOR – “Road Of Bones” CD ’07 (Cruz Del Sur, US) – The first thing I have to admit that I noticed about this disc by IGNITOR is the fact that the vocalist and one guitarist are women. Of course, that doesn’t make any difference to me from a musical standpoint, except to say that once again, this poo-poos the idiots who always are going on about how women can’t rock. IGNITOR sure as hell rocks, as do nearly every band who come flying in on the Cruz Del Sur imprint. This is a label that has to explain their commitment to metal to no one, having become home of some of the best in the business. Joining a roster that includes Bible Of The Devil, Slough Feg, Hammers Of Misfortune, Pharoah, etc. you’d better be able to bring the goods and IGNITOR do, through a series of ass-busting ‘80’s-styled bullet-belters like “March To The Guillotine,” “Phoenix” and “Broken Glass.” Am I ready to say these guys are going to replace BOTD on my shortlist of current desert island disc producers? Well, not yet, but let me say that for anybody who stands at the altar of Priest, Maiden & Accept, this should be a purchase you make.

MOTHER SUPERIOR – “Grande” CD ’08 (Kicking, US) – After giving quite a few spins to 2007’s sprawling MS opus “Three Headed Dog,” it was really a nice surprise to get this thoughtfully assembled collection of re-mixes, live tracks and new songs in the mail from the SUPERIOR crew. Sort of like a nice cognac & smoke after a fine meal. Well, ok, I don’t drink cognac nor smoke, but you know what I mean. Or even if you don’t….MOTHER SUPERIOR, are the band that’s supplied the musical stew for Henry Rollins to croon over in recent years and, in their spare time, they’ve also managed to simply be one of the best rawkin’ bands around themselves. Their penchant for delivering bluesy hard rock, somehow then blended with Beatle-level harmonies & melodies, strikingly excellent writing skills & finger-scalding guitar has always really impressed. Now they’ve issued “Grande,” and while some bands’ decisions to deliver comp’s speaks of spreading things too thin, nothing could be further from the truth here. Listen to the scintillating new version of “Four Walls” or the absolutely blinder live takes on “Five Stars” or “Beg Borrow Steal.” You can’t help but love a band who show so many sides & do it so seamlessly. When you add in newies like “Brain Child” and a ridiculously good version of “Happiness Is A Warm Gun,” you’ve got a record that stands completely on it’s own. Now, you’ve just gotta go order it so it can stand on your shelf next to all the other MS discs. Real. Good. Music.

WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE – “Kiss The Ground, Curse The Sky” CD ’08 (Underdogma, US) – 2 of these guys have beards, one doesn’t. Ok, so the one dude in WAGD sans facial hair is NOT named Beard. The thing is, right about now, 3 albums into their career, this Massachusetts band is, like Billy F. Gibbons & crew were around “Tres Hombres,” running on all 8 cylinders. One thing that I always use as a rule of thumb in determining the really great bands is when you can’t say exactly who they sound like…that depth of originality. With WAGD, if I had to be put on notice to give a comparison or be beaten to within an inch of my life with a rusty tire iron, I’d might be given to mention a certain Maryland band called Clutch. But even that is just not a fair comparison and, in that lies this band’s charm…the fact that while they surely play a bluesy, grooving version of heavy rawk/metal, they’re easily their own animal. Hell, check out the opening (& mostly instrumental) “Brown Rabbit,” “Burn” (“Kashmir” if it were written in a backwoods garage), the thundering firepower of “The Guns Of August” or the gorgeous ballads “Dusk & Done” & “On The Sea.” The thing that makes a band like WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE stand out is that they have made an album that will matter not only in 2008 but that you’ll still take out to listen to in 2018. That’s truly great stuff. Kudos for the awesome digipak, as well.

1 comment:

Michael said...

GRAVEYARD do sound good, and their on tour with J. Mascis' WITCH as we speak. I'm planning on seeing them (and all that flying hair) here in London in May.

In a similar vein in Sweden's DEAD MAN (, who've got a new CD due out in a couple weeks. Their first rec hit me like a cross between vintage QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE and Roger Chapman's FAMILY - I got high hopes for the new one as well.