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31.7.11

The Effect - 'Everything Has Gone' (self released) 4.5/5

I'm constantly being left in awe of the shear weight of musical talent that is coming from South Wales at the moment, especially from the Swansea / Llanelli area, and now to add to a canon of names like V0iD, Nine Plan Failed, Anterior etc we have The Effect, a band that can be considered as one of the very best of the current crop.

This young Swansea based quartet, none of which are over 18, play a catchy brand of commercial post indie rock that has a bit of the Muse / Lost Prophets vibe to it, and they play it with a drive and passion few others can match. This debut self released six track mini album is an almost perfect show case for their talent. From the opening chiming guitars on Plastic Hearts, via the anthemic Everything has Gone (Wake Up) with its hook that compels you to yell along and the soft and whimsical Can't Forget Your Love which sounds a little like their compatriots Tiger Please (and I mean that as a compliment - I LOVE  Tiger Please) to the epic closer of Left Wing (and Right Wing Are Both Parts Of The Same Bird) every track is an almost perfect mix of driven head bangy bits, guitar synth washes, intelligent lyrics, up lifting choruses and some wonderful mellow moments.

My only real criticism is that I feel they could let go a little more on some of their heavier riff driven moments, especially on the song Tremble - I can't help feel that if they beefed up those moments a few more notches, in the way say Funeral For A Friend do in places, and kept the rest as they do already then they would have some real killer product on their hands. But I'm sure given a bit of time, a bit more experience and an outside producer that will come. After all The Effect are a young band at the start of their careers, and therefore, as good as they are, must still be viewed as a work in progress. And a quick word on the production, which the band did themselves, apart from the above point, they have done a fine job on the whole and should be praised for their efforts.

In short, a great debut from a band, that if there is any justice in the world are set for big things.

For fans of... Tiger Please, Muse, Funeral For A Friend, Lost Prophets.

29.7.11

Queensryche - 'Dedicated To Chaos' (roadrunner records) 1.5/5


While I've never been the worlds biggest Queensryche fan, I will admit they have always been a band I've admired for their musicianship and approach to their music... that is until I tuned into this, their latest full length album.

To say I was disappointed is a vast under statement. OK the album starts well enough with Get Started, with a catchy hook and passable riff, and the following number Hot Spot Junkie isn't too bad, even if it is a little Queensryche by numbers. However then the good news ends and its all down hill from there. Got It Bad sounds like a bad attempt at a Prince cover with a ham-fisted Sitar player droning away in the background. Wot We Do is naff MTV synth rock. Around the World is a failed attempt at a power ballad with sub Foreigner stacked Harmony vocals and so the rest of the album continues with only some tasty guitar work on At the Edge to shed some hope on the musical disaster.

Even Geoff Tate, a guy once hailed as as one of the best voices in rock sounds jaded and seams to be just going through the motions. I've given this album repeated listens and tried to like it, but sadly this piss poor offering is light years from the glory years of Operation Mindcrime. FOR FANS ONLY.

For Fans of... once great bands who are content with going through the motions.

Stone Axe - 'Stone Axe : Delux Edition' (ripple music) 4/5

This is a weird one. The band looks like they come crawling from the early 70's acid rock scene, sound like they are left overs from Woodstock and even the album cover yells retro archive material at you. Yet Washington (US) based stoner rock outfit Stone Axe (a duo in the studio and a quartet live) have only been around since 2007 and are part of that interesting 'retro rock' movement that is doing interesting things stateside along with the likes of Crash Street Kids, The Muggs, Antique Scream et al.

This is their second eponymous full length release and its a a very catchy little opus. Rooted firmly in the classic sounds of the likes of Foghat, Blue Cheer, Led Zep and the like it certainly sets out to keep alive the flame of old style stoner rock and achieves the goal with ease. Tracks like The Skylah Ray and Black Widow are as trippy as hell and feature some damn fine extended instrumental passages that make you want to skin up something illegal and listen to in a darkened room at very loud volumes.

On this deluxe edition of the album there are 10 great studio tracks that stand up to repeated darkened room listening, but its on the eight live bonus tracks the band really come into their own. The live tracks have more power, more spirit more of a wow factor and I'll admit that I'm spinning the live tracks more than I'm playing the studio ones, the live version of Diamonds and Fools being particularity note worthy with it's AC/DC on hash stoner boogie beat and Bon Scott-esque vocalisations.

In short a damn fine album. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

For Fans Of - Blue Cheer, The Muggs, Spirit, Grand Funk Railroad etc

IRON CLAW - 'A Different Game' (ripple music) 5/5


One of the great pleasures about this radio DJ lark is your constantly finding great music. Sometimes its a great young band that  comes out of nowhere and bites yer balls, other times, such as with this gem, its a band that's been around for years, and has previously slipped right under your radar. Iron Claw have been around for a long time, a very long time. They formed in the Scottish boarders way back in 1969 and until 1974 they plugged away straddling the line between heavy metal and art rock with out really making much head way. Then in 2009 a compilation of their back catalogue was released to a fair amount of critical acclaim. This prompted the inevitable reformation and now we have the bands first new material in over 30 years.

And what a release A Different Game is. Thirteen cuts of top grade old school rock and metal, expertly produced and played with a fire and a passion Scottish folk hero William Wallace would be proud of. You get the doomy grindhouse riffage that tips a hat to likes of Black Sabbath and Stone Ground (remember them?); blues tinged work outs that Juicy Lucy would have been proud to call their own; country boogie classics that reminds you of the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Grinderswitch - hell there's even the ghost of Heep / Rooster style heavy prog floating around the tracks in places. Yet the whole sounds like one band, and a damn fine one at that.

After repeated play thoroughs I am finding it almost impossible to select any individual track out as a stand out moment' its all very very good and is rapidly becoming a must play on my walkman; although I will say my personal faves on the album are See Them Fall, which reminds me a tad of the very early Saxon material, the spine tingling Love Is Blind and the raw riffage of Saga.

If this album had come out in the 1970's or even in the NWOBHM era Iron Claw would have been huge, but even now this album will assure the band a cult status at the very least. BUY OR DIE

For fans of - Classic old school heavy metal / hard rock