Saturday, May 31, 2008

Why Dontcha Die...Wontcha?

FALCON – “Die Wontcha” CD ’08 (Liquid Flames, US/Australia) – The first thing I have to say here is that I love the title of this album. Is it a take-off on the West, Bruce & Laing opus of years gone by, “Why Dontcha?” I’m not sure but if it is, that rules. Either way, this disc rules and, brother, I mean it rules…HARD! For those who don’t know, FALCON is the power trio that includes ex-Destiny’s End guitarist Perry Grayson & ex-Cirith Ungol bassist Greg Lindstrom. Their first album revealed a side to both these guys that was very welcome to me. As good as their previous bands had been, “Falcon” showed a decided move back in time toward a ‘70’s hard rock vibe. Visions of names like Budgie, Cactus & Mountain danced in my head as I listened to that debut a couple years ago and now, the 2 along with drummer Darin McCloskey have seriously upped the ante with an album that I didn’t even realize these cats had in ‘em. First off, you gotta check out the sound here. When Lindstrom’s bass & McCloskey’s drums lock into a groove, it is clear, dynamic and organic as friggin’ hell, so Grayson can lay that guitar tone right down on top. And let me tell you, Perry ol’ boy has a serious nasty tone going on with this disc. You want to talk about a Gibson into Marshalls? I don’t know what guitar he’s using on any particular song, as the insert pics show SG’s, Flying V’s and Les Pauls but you get the idea. That idea is the removal of the listener’s face. This is like KK Downing from 1976 or Mark Shelton from 1981! And man, what songs! From the opening riff-fest of “Jimmy Clark,” through the crushing instrumental of “The Wreck Of The John Deere” to the lengthy “Everything There Is To Know,” there are so many different kinds of riffs, speeds and interesting ideas here that I’m surely reminded of the classic records from no decade other than the marvelous early ‘70’s. Still, with all of that, my favourite cuts have to be “Elfland’s Daughter” and “Falcon.” The former blew me away instantly, not only with it’s wide array of riffs & changes, but with it’s very clear nod to a band near & dear to my heart, Thin Lizzy. Between the one riff that reminds me so much of the Eric Bell trilogy (the first 3 TL albums) to the heart-searing harmonized leads, this is one of the best songs I’ve heard since Survivor’s “All Your Pretty Moves” platter in 1979. Then, there’s “Falcon,” once again, not only telling a story with it’s lyrics but with it’s ornate chapters of riffs and a semi-acoustic section, the melody of which almost brings tears to my eyes in “Before The Dawn” style. Through it all, Grayson’s vocals take on a killer Liebling-like tone, his wah-wah leads destroy and current blazed by Lindstrom & McCloskey continues to crush. An awesome thing that FALCON do here is something I used to love so much about bands like Budgie & early Sabbath and, similarly, something few if anybody (save Ogre) does anymore. That’s the practice of ending a particular rhythm in mid-song and immediately diving headlong into another…and, magically it flows! Think what the Sabs did in something like “Snowblind” or “Hand Of Doom,” for instance. That kind of wailing shit is all over the place here. Truly, this is an album for the ages and we haven’t even talked about the blistering cover of Buffalo’s “Leader.” Interestingly, that Australian connection leads me to mention that Perry Grayson has now relocated to Australia. What that means for the future of FALCON (as Greg Lindstrom lives in California) remains to be seen but for now, this band has lain down a gauntlet that I’m not sure who is going to be able to pick up. Freaking awesome. 9.5

OBSCURE – “On Formaldehyde” CD ’08 (Dark Essence, Nor) – Well, maybe just maybe that gauntlet mentioned above landed somewhere near Norway, because this here OBSCURE crew sure as hell picked something up and decided to lay a whipping down with it. A four-piece with one guitarist who doubles as lead singer, the line-up will remind you of Bible Of The Devil and, yessum’s, that’s a pretty good parallel. “On Formaldehyde” came on a nice recommendation from The Ripple Effect ( and after having this little number kick my ass, I’ll take everything those guys say very seriously, I’ll tell you that! Much like BOTD, this crew supplies a mix of shorter, NWOBHM-style mashers like “Conversensation” and “Methamorphosis” (love those titles) plus longer, more involved dual-guitar devastators in the name of “Abra Macabra,” “Giants” & “Abraxas.” Here, Roy Kronheim & Tom Eide put on a performance that will have your head banging on the air-stage while your fingers work overtime trying to keep up with the but-busting six-string violence they’re laying down. Imagine Hoffman & crew’s “Warrior Fugue” to get a feel for what you’ll be in store for when you cue up the aforementioned “Abraxas.” Raw-ass metal with a bit of a quirky, psychy edge and crushing axe will fill your day right down to the mangling cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Massacre!” This is truly a killer discovery and I think that OBSCURE is going to be a band you’ll be hearing about again on this site. Let’s hope they get signed and make it to these shores, as they murder! 9.0

VAN MORRISON – “Keep It Simple” CD ’08 (Lost Highway, Ire) – It’s funny. Some people become icons and then rest on their laurels. VAN MORRISON has never been a guy who struck me that way. I mean, to begin with, if VAN’s not an icon then I’m not a music fan. Anybody who can include on their resume stuff like “Astral Weeks,” “Tupelo Honey” and “Moondance” has pretty much got icon-status wrapped up. But again, here’s a dude who has stuff like that to his credit and some 30-odd years later still is pouring his soul out. Most people would be dead if they even tried that. VAN, instead, issues an album like “Keep It Simple.” Such a wonderful statement, and such a wonderful sentiment for this man to still have. Is this stuff as mind-blowingly riveting as a cut like “Tupelo Honey,” arguably one of the greatest songs/vocal performances of all time? Well, probably not. There’s a lot more subtlety here in the laid-back, smoky room groove of “How Can A Poor Boy” or “No Thing.” The fact is, though, the songs are there, the passion is there and, yes, that voice…one of those that can never be duplicated is there, both conforting and cajoling as an old friend on a stool at the end of the bar. Nice. 8.0

BLOOD OF THE SUN – “Death Ride” CD ’08 (Vibra, US) – Ok, that some mo-fo is really swinging that gauntlet around, cause now the s.o.b. has landed in Texas and BLOOD OF THE SUN has reached for it with this, their 2nd effort. I was pretty taken with these boys’ debut effort awhile back, laced as it was with a total ‘70’s biker hard rock vibe and adorned with plenty nifty leads & analog keys. This time, the twist is that the lead vocals on nearly all of “Death Ride” are supplied by the one and only Derek St. Holmes. In case some of you are staring blankly at the screen saying “Ray, who the hell is Derek St. Holmes?” then, 2 things. First, I pity you. Secondly, take out your dog-eared copy of “Ted Nugent” (1975) and look. Yes, that Derek St. Holmes. And, as you might expect, he fits this music like the proverbial glove. I mean hell, a couple minutes into opening cut “One More For The Road,” when St. Holmes belts out the line “Caught you with another man!” I’m standing on the bed, clutching my air mic and wishing I had a ‘70’s Afro! But damn, I’m telling you, great vocals aside, these guys put the pedal to the metal hard as hell and just rawk like stinking dawgs for this entire album! There isn’t one dull cut, as numbers like “Edge Of The Sky,” “Shine” and “The Witchin Hour” prove. Check out guitarists Ty Tompkins & Eric Schmidt, as they simply “go off” on lead duels with keyboard man Dave Gryder. Hell, the insert pic looks like an outtake from The Allmans “Filmore East” and these guys jam like a hard rock version of Georgia’s best. Remember the days when a band wasn’t afraid to just open the jets during the middle of a song and let the guys solo like crazy?! Welcome home, chief, your ride is here. Ass-Kickin’ 101 is in session! 9.0

TARPIT – “There Is Nothing After Extinction” CD ’08 (Private, US) – Nice seeing some good stuff come out of the local B-more area these days and a very good example is this TARPIT I just fell into. The truth is that if you are in the mood for something melodic or something that will get you racing around the room in a wild burst of energy, well, this is just not going to be your cup of tea. TARPIT, you see, are (as their name implies) the soundtrack to something huge, dark and covered in gore to come crawling out of a hole in some far corner of the woods behind your house and lurch, brontosaurus-like toward your humble abode, growling, dripping blood and implying great harm. Think Noothgrush being given a handful of downers at a St. Vitus concert and then being told their mother suck co…well, you know. Thing is, songs like “Velociraptor,” “Basilosaurus” and “Compsognathus” are not going to do anything to help anyone who is already afraid of the dark or needs their mommy. Serious stuff and I’d love to check out these guys live. 8.0


Michael said...

Fucking hell, Ray - how DO you come up so many great recommendations?!? The short clips I've just heard of FALCON, OBSCURE, and even BLOOD OF THE SUN all sound totally righteous. Thanks, a helluva lot.

raysrealm said...

Just doin' my job, man!


Protecting Your Rights on the Internet
Tel 44-(0)208-323 8013
Fax 44-(0)208-323 8080

Hi Ray,

On behalf of Exile Productions and Exile Publishing, many thanks for your great review of Van Morrison's new album and, if your readers want good quality, non-pirated, preview tracks, full versions of "That's Entrainment" and "Behind The Ritual" (along with album track samplers) are available for fans and bloggers to listen to (and link to) on Lost Highway's web-site at .

Up-to-the-minute info on Keep It Simple and Van’s 2008 shows is, of course, also available on and and, for a limited period, you can still hear Van's exclusive BBC concert at and you can also see his BBC sessions at .

Thanks again for your support.



Mark said...

I only like pirated tracks. They sound better.

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