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Sebastian Bach - 'Kicking And Screaming' (frontiers records) 4/5

Those of you with long musical memories will recall that around the time Guns And Roses were breaking through with their remarkable Appetite For Destruction album there was another outfit also setting the world on fire. They were called Skid Row (not to be confused with the old Irish Blues rockers from the early 70's!!). Now to be honest I always preferred Skid Row to G'n'R, and when Axel and his crew were vanishing into clouds of drug abuse, internal disputes and  over blown self indulgence, Skid Row did bang out a series of really quite excellent hard rock albums. But they never got the deserved breaks and soon vanished off the radar. But now, lord knows how many years on we have this solo effort from Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach to remind us that the spirit of Skid Row is still very much alive and kicking.

Ok as albums go Kicking and Screaming isn't perfect, but it aint bad either. There are plenty of good old balls out rockers on offer here, Dance On Your Grave, Caught In A Dream, Dirty Power and the like are all classic slices of headbangablity that do have echos of classic Slave to The Grind era Skid Row about them and even the inevitable hair metal power ballad Dream Forever comes over like sleaze fueled nostalgia trip rather than an cliched lighter waver. Then we have the albums stand out track As Long As I Got The Music, a number that shows the likes of Nickleback exactly how modern commercial rock tracks should be penned and performed.

It isn't all good news though, in a couple of places, most noticeably on the song I'm Alive Mr Bach is heading into Theory of A Wifebeater, sorry Deadman, territory (although thankfully without the thuggish sexist lyrics), but these moments are few, and more than compensated for by cuts like Live The Life and Lost In The Light.

Mr Bachs vocals are as fresh and infectious as they were on 18 And Life all those years ago and praise must also be heaped on his side kicks, guitarist Nick Sterling, and former Iced Earth drummist Bobby Jarzombek for helping to make Kicking And Screaming a very listenable and enjoyable album indeed.

Well worth a good listen

For fans of - Skid Row, Guns And Roses, Poison, Ratt, Faster Pussycat etc...

Screaming Eyes - 'Greed' (this is core records) 4.5/5

It's metalcore time again kiddies, but this time we have a twist, Screaming Eyes are not a bunch of hopefuls from some bland south east English dormitory town; they are infact from Piedmont in Italy.

Now I'll admit that the fact these guys are Italian came as a bit of a suprise to me. Not cos I doubt the Italians ability to play great music - everyone from PFM to Speedjackers and Deluded By Lesbians has proved Italy rocks with the best of them; its just that Screaming Eyes sound so English. Sounding like a mixture of Skin The Pig and Malefice they have produced a really rather remarkable little opus that stands proud alnong side, if not above the very best of the current UK metalcore scene.

There are 10 tracks on offer here. Ten slices of shear musical brutality that grab you by the sonic short and curlies and pull with all the power they can muster, and they can muster a lot of power. The opening track Sentenced smacks you round the head like a few tonnes of dolomite marble dropped from a great height and other tracks like My Reason, My Fire and Cash-O-Crazy just explode from the speakers and leave your ears feeling a bit like Pompeii after the big one.

However as I said before when there is a big genre scene around you need a trick or two under your toga to make you stand out from the plebeians, and fortunately Screaming Eyes have just that. The instrumental And Nothing Else Shall Remain is a wonderful moment of musical tranquility amid the pound and bludgeon that wouldn't sound out of place on a Goblin soundtrack to a Dario Argento movie, One Last Trip features a melodic middle section that springs out of nowhere and teasing lifts you out of the metallic hellfest, only to throw you back in head first and the closer Dream Pt.9 has a couple of very strange progressive type sections that make me think of Amon Duul II for some reason.

Basically this is a great record - Buy It NOW

For fans of... As I lay Dying, Skin The Pig, Malefice, Anterior, Trivium etc

Uriah Heep - 'Live In Armenia' (frontiers records) 4/5

Of all the great founding fathers of UK hard rock and Heavy Metal I've always felt Uriah Heep, have had a rough deal over the years. Despite being just as successful commercially as the likes of Led Zep, Purple and Sabbath, and filling just as many stadiums with just as many rabidly loyal fans, they have always had a rough ride from the critics and are never shown as much credit as their aforementioned peers as being one of the true greats.

Still I get the impression that the band themselves are well past caring (if they ever cared at all), they have blazed trails for UK rock all over the world, First UK rock act to play in the Soviet Union, First into China and now we have a double live set recorded in Armenia of all places.

Now there is nothing too surprising on show here, Live In Armenia is a guided tour of the bands 40 year career, from the early classics like Gypsy and July Morning (a song that has inspired a folk tradition in parts of Eastern Europe, what other band can claim that?) and a whole host of tracks taken from their more recent releases like the Wake The Sleeper album from a few years ago. All good stuff, although as a bit of a Heep fan myself  would like to see some of the stuff from the late 70's albums like High And Mighty and Fallen Angel recorded, or at least performed, live at some point.

The performance is top notch as is to be expected from a group of guys who have been fine tuning their craft for over 40 years. Mick Box is on blistering form, especially on the solo for Look At Yourself, and his interplay with Phil Lanzon on the keys is sublime.

There is one small downside, Vocalist Bernie Shaws haranguing the crowd to stop videoing the show gets annoying in places; 'This night is a special one just for you', (right, so when's the official 'Live In Armenia' DVD out then guys?) - To be fair I can understand where he is coming from, but they surely they could have lost those bits at the editing and mastering stage.

That gripe aside, this album is a very worth addition to the cannon of Uriah Heep albums, a must buy for all Heep fans and a great starting place for anyone new to the band who wants to check out some of the true masters at work.

For fans of... Deep Purple, Budgie, Led Zeppelin and the masters of classic rock

Weapon - 'Set The Stage Alight (30th Anniversary Edition)' (weaponrock) 4.5/5

No matter how old I get, I will always take comfort in the fact that my teenage years and early 20's were set to the soundtrack of two of the UK's greatest musical movements, The '77 punk boom, and the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. So its always a pleasure to rediscover gems from that era that you last rocked out to many years ago. so with that in mind I give you this re-issued and updated version of Weapons classic 1981 opus Set The Stage Alight.

I used to have this album on cassette back in the day, and it was a bit of a permanent fixture in my Walkman for a year or so until it went the way of all tapes and became a mass of brown spaghetti wrapped around the play heads and damaged beyond repair. But now I have this re-issue on CD and sitting hear playing through it is like a host of old friends you haven't seen in years rushing into a room at a suprise party.

But enough of the nostalgia trip, what is this album like? Well to be honest its typical NWOBHM fare in the vein of Sweet Savage, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Jaguar, Dark Star etc. Not very 'heavy' by today's standards, but laden with memorable riffs, catchy vocal hooks, care-free guitar solos, pounding rhythms and played with an enthusiasm that so many of today's so called 'serious' metal acts have forgotten how to capture.

Tracks like Set The Stage Alight (a Tommy Vance Friday Rock Show fave in the early 80's), One Night Stand, Midnight Satisfaction, Liar and the rest of the album to be honest all go to show what a cracking band Weapon were back then, and also points out what a lottery the whole NWOBHM era was, with bands like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard becoming international superstars and equally worthy outfits like Weapon bound for the cult status file.

Maximum praise for the four guys who recorded this classic. Vocalist Danny Hynes has a voice that is powerful, tuneful and instantly likeable, guitarist Jeff Summers is a guitar hero in all but mass adulation and the ducks backside tight rhythm section of Baz Downes and Bruce Brisland hold the whole thing together with bolts of pure British Steel. The songs are expertly penned and despite being 30 years old are just as fresh as they were when this album first came out.And you younger ones remember without the likes of Weapon and the NWOBHM you wouldn't have yer thrash and death, and metalcore at all. This is where it all started.

Fans of the band are also in for a treat for this edition contains four early demo tracks, that are if anything even more urgent and classically NWOBHM than the main album, (just check Jeff Summers slick solo on Remote Control to see what I mean)

Now I've penned the above in the past tense, but I, and fans of the whole NWOBHM will be glad that Weapon are still very much alive and kicking, and there is a new album on the way, that if the latest single Ready 4 U (available through the usual outlets and NOT featured on this reissue) is anything to go by should be just as much a classic as this their debut opus.

So if you've not heard Weapon before, load up and check out this gem whilst your waiting for the new album, you'll love it, I promise.

For Fans of - Marseille, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Sweet Savage, Dedringer, Def Leppard etc...