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Boots N All - 'Up Your England' (self released) 4/5

I dunno too much about Boots N All. They come from the sleepy English town of Warminster and they play a rather impressive brand of in your face and fuck the system brand of Oi! punk, and this is their new five track ep.

Now anyone who has bit of Oi! knowledge will know exactly where these guys are coming from. Kicking off with a rather good little moonstomper entitled You Moved To America, a track that to my ears draws favourable comparisons to the legendary The Oppressed, this ep just blast along in a wall of gloriously aggressive righteous fury that puts a sonic Doc Martin full in your face and demands that you join the pogo pit. All five track on this one are just great, Freedom, Psycho, Oi Oi (What You Gonna Do) are all prime slices of the very best Oi fueled punk; however my fave cut on offer is the fantastic title track, a real underground punk classic in the making that sticks a lyrical boot into all aspects of 'the system' from the armed forces and the police, to the legal system and the royal family. My kinda music indeed.

OK I will be honest and say the production here is a bit rough, but as I have said before and will keep on saying when it comes to punk, production counts for nothing. Punk is about the three A's, Attack Attitude and Aggression, and those are three things that Boots N All have by the bucket load. Whats more the production here, or rather lack of only adds to that great punk DIY low budget feeling and ethos and makes the over all delivery all the better for it.

In short, what with the world of economic crisis, money grabbing bankers and Torey Governments the time is right for a bit of angry street punk to shout out for the masses, and when its Boots N All doing the shouting you just know you wanna join in.

First Rate Stuff

For fans of... Oi Polloi, Hard Skins, The Oppressed, Cockney Rejects, Chaos Reunion....


Various Artists - 'The Ripple Effect Presents Volume 1 - Head Music' (Ripple Music) 5/5

Five years ago a couple of Californian music lovers set up The Ripple Effect, an online magazine where they could share their love of old school stoner and modern underground rock. To say the idea was a success is a vast understatement. Since the site was launched Ripple has grown into one of the most respected music sites in the world, has its own radio station and of course Ripple Music, a label that has rapidly become one of the most vibrant and cutting edge in the whole realm of underground music with such acts as Grifter, Stone Axe, Mighty High, Mos Generator and Iron Claw on their books. Now to celebrate the first five years of The Ripple Effect they have issued this twenty three track compilation album, representing the very best of the kind of stuff Ripple have been championing over that time.

Now this compilation is a real delight to listen to, most of the 23 cuts here are previously unreleased, and every track is of the very best of whats happening on the current stoner, retro and underground classic scenes.

I'm not gonna give you a track by track breakdown, this is a free download album, go get a copy for yourself and have an explore. However I will point out a few highlights. There's the glorious stonehead groove of Torso with One, the fantastically sleazy Swear It To The Sun from Voodoo Johnson, Dark Earths highly headbangable eponymous post Sabbath work out and Concrete Sun with the underground classic of Silver Tear... infact every track on this one falls somewhere in between the 'yeah thats pretty damn good' and 'fuck me sideways that was great' camps.

There is still a huge market out there for this kind of new wave old school rock, and with retro rocking bands like Gypsyhawk and Dear Superstar on the edge of the mainstream, the market for this kind of classic rock is only gonna grow, and I have no doubt that Ripple will be there to bring you the very best of it for many years to come. Whats more this is a FREE record, so download it NOW and expand your head with the effect of ripples of superb music

Get this album NOW

For fans of... Stone Axe, Mos Generator, Fen, Black Sabbath, the classic and the underground....

Get your copy here for FREE -


The Spittin' Cobras - 'Year Of The Cobra' (Omega Records) 5/5

If you take a couple of ex-pat Brits who have cut their teeth playing with the likes of Ginger (ex Wildhearts / Quireboys), hook them up with a couple of talented types from the musically active melting pot of Seattle, cook well in a huge pot of classic hard edged rock and roll and season with an endless series of gigs traveling in a large motorhome (thats an RV to you American types).... Then result will sound something like The Spittin' Cobras.

Gotta say from the off I'm loving this one, nine cuts of pure, no bullcrap, heads down and let the dandruff fly, air guitar a gogo old school hard rock, that once again shows that the US underground rock scene has thrown  off the post emo teen agnst fakery and the pig grunting devil worshiping sub genre fixated death thrash scenecore sensibilities and has at last remembered how to rock like bastards once more.

This album kicks off with a rather tasty headbanger called All The Way, a track that hits you like a sonic sledgehammer and pounds your brains into a gloriously satisfied mess. And then it just doesn't let up, cuts like Hooker With A Heart Of Gold, Built For Speed, Criminal Mastermind and Throw Your Horns all come at your ears like speeding bullets and pepper your head with wonderfully enjoyable rock and roll buckshot. All the greats are referenced here, Motorhead, AC/DC, Foghat, Quiet Riot, Odin, Aerosmith... and believe me this record sounds just as good as the very best those classic acts have produced.

The final track on this gem is a storming balls out rendition of the Rainbow classic Long Live Rock And Roll and when you have bands like The Spittin' Cobras out there you just know Rock and Roll aint nowhere near dead yet!!

Just Great

For Fans of... Gypsyhawk, Crash Street Kids, Antique Scream, Airbourne....


Gypsyhawk - 'Reverly & Resilience' (metablade) 4.5/5

Pasadena hardrockers Gypsyhawk have been causing a bit of a stir in classic rock circles over the past year. Certainly their reputation reached my ears long before any of their music did, tales of a band from California who sounded like a mad mix of Thin Lizzy, Golden Earring and UFO certainly made me keep a special eye out for them. Then I got hold of Hedgeking, the lead single from this album, and that really impressed me, and now we have this their debut album for Metalblade on our hands.

And I gotta say from the off that its every bit as good as I was expecting. Kicking off with Overloaded, a track that just drips classic Thin Lizzyisms; bass playing singer Eric Harris doing a damn fine Phil Lynott impression whilst guitarists Andrew Packer and Ian Brown do the twin lead bit in the style of the 'Renegade' era pairing of Scott Gorham and Snowy White. Hell if the late great Mr Lynott was still with us this is what Lizzy would be sounding like.

Having laid out the goods in fine style Gypsyhawk then take us on an eleven track cake walk through a damn fine classic rock soundscape. Highlights include the Golden Earring fueled The Fields, Frostwyrm with its hat tips to the likes of The Almighty and Wild Horses, the majestically epic Night Songs From The Desert and the post Motorhead rock out of The Red Wedding. Chuck in a belting cover of the Rick Derringer classic Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo to wrap the whole thing up and you have a damn fine album indeed.

It is indeed great to find acts like Gypsyhawk, who along with the likes of Crash Street Kids, The Muggs and Antique Scream are keeping the old fashioned, no bullshit hard rock flag flying proud and proving once and for all that not all modern rock and metal is inaccessible sub genres and and angry youths with emo haircuts. And long may they continue.

Highly Recommended

For Fans of... Thin Lizzy, Golden Earring, Airbourne, Crash Street Kids, Motorhead etc.....


Rummer And Grapes - 'Ground Control' (New Model Label) 4.5/5

Now despite being named after a London student boozer, Rummer And Grapes are in fact from Italy, and are, along with the likes of Bi-Polar Sluts, Speedjackers, Having Thin Moonshine etc part of the exciting new wave of Italian rock that is beginning to make waves beyond their homeland. They issued their debut long player a couple of years back, and have now returned with this rather cool and groovy three track ep.

Now there is lot of interesting influences on show here; a touch of good old indie / alternative rock, a hint or two of The Subways style pop punk and a smattering of good old fashioned hard rock sensibilities; all served up on a platter of Delain / Nightwish style female fronted post goth styling.

Of the three tracks on offer we get Between Darkness And Light which starts out sounding a little like Within Temptation at their very best and builds into a cracking commercial hard rocker that is dripping huge hooks and vast sweeping riffs. January 12th has a certain Lacuna Coil quality to it with its huge guitar soundscaping, spine tingling vocal and massive chorus. However the real killer cut on offer is the title track Ground Control, a ripping track that wouldn't sound out of place on a Subways or Skuzzies album, with its bouncy post punk light and choppy riffs, air punching anthem of a chorus and shiver inducing use of samples - a classic cut if ever there was.

All in all this is a great release, and goes a long way to build on the already impressive reputation of this band and for that matter new Italian rock in general

Seek and buy.

For fans of... The Subways, Nightwish, Where's Billy, Trillium etc....


Elisium - 'Becoming' (Self Released) 4/5

Coming out of Fredericksburg Virginia, in the USA Elisium are a three piece industrial-groove metal outfit who's mission statement reads "we believe music is more than just entertainment, and that our lives, and the very fabric of the universe are united by rhythm and vibrations and harmony. With song lyrics and themes ranging from determination, reincarnation, and man's many attempts at describing the universe, we are not afraid to tackle serious themes in powerful ways." They have have been around for eight or nine years and previously had a full length album released in 2004.

Now this six tracker (well five tracks and an intro piece) is an interesting one. Using Tool as a starting point and sounding not unlike Chicago outfit Treble Damage, these guys have cooked up a rather tasty little mini album that blends elements of industrial grind, groove metal, prog rock and pop punk into an infectious and engaging package that really does stand up to repeated listening. 

The most accessible track on offer is undoubtedly a rather fine and groovy cover of the Men Without Hats classic Safety Dance a track that has already proved a big hit with the BCFM show listeners, becoming the most requested track of the year so far. But I can't help but feel it would be shame for such a good band and album to become known for one 'novelty' cover version, for this album has a lot more to offer.

Tracks like AGV, Bombshells and especially the closer Surface all go to show that Elisium are an act to take notice of, they are heavy and grinding, light and introspective, epic in scope and heartfelt in delivery. All the marks of a damn fine band that could with a lucky break and enough determination go places.

In short a great release, and whilst it may take a bit of tracking down, believe me the effort will be worth it.

Worth a look or four

For fans of... Tool, Treble Damage, AFI, Amebix, Soundgarden.....


Campus - 'Empathy' (Small Town Records) 4.5/5

With two full length albums under their belt already Belgium based hardcore / screamo outfit Campus have recently undergone a bit of a line up change and are now a five piece and have just issued this their latest four track ep.

Kicking off with a rather vicious and angst fueled little rage rocker of a title track this ep is a nice short an sweet exercise in all that good about hardcore punk. Snarling and aggressive barked and growled vocals and mercilessly pound and pummel beats are inter-cut with soaring and uplifting clean vocals and some perfectly sweet melodic lead guitar lines. If your familiar with the work of the likes of Converge, While She Sleeps, Terakai, Red Enemy etc then you'll know exactly where these guys are coming from, and  if the like of the aforementioned bands are your thing then check this one out, it will be right up your street. This ep is raw to the bone, dripping bleeding heart emotion and delivered with an attitude and approach that marks them out as being up there with the very best in their field.

Of the four impressive cuts on offer, in my humble opinion the best of the crop is the closer Young Bastard, a song that just bleeds sorrow, rage, anger and rebellion from a slashed musical artery of raw emotion, then stitches the wounds with a solid wall of hard driven determination. Very Very good stuff indeed.

I know hardcore isn't everyones cup of tea, but if you like your music on the bleeding edge of empathetic emotion then you really should add this one to your collection.

Bloody Great.

For fans of.. Converge, Terakai, Red Enemy, Gay For Johnny Depp, The Hotel Ambush....

Titans Eve - 'Life Apocalypse' (self released) 4.5/5

This is the second full length offering from Vancouver metal merchants Titans Eve, a band who seam to love doing it old school and touring their butts off across their fairly vast native land in a beat up old van and to be honest its quite a good one.

There are eleven cuts on offer here (if you include the obligatory short intro and a short linking instrumental number). Mixing old school power metal in the Anvil, Exciter, Armored Saint mode with good healthy dollops of Onslaught, Megadeth, Exumer type late 80's trash, the band have in this release served up a damn fine platter of good old fashioned, no bull shit heavy metal, that sets the head banging, the pulse racing and makes even this old headbanger want to start a circle pit right here in his own office.

Just to pick a couple of highlights, there's the headlong slam dance of Life Apocalypse with its blast beat drumming and distinctive signature riffing. Then there's the high speed thrash out of Destined To Die - a cut that reminds me of Onslaughts classic 'Power From Hell' debut album; a gloriously chilled and melancholy out instrumental entitled A Wound That Never Heals - complete with a rather groovy bongo drum line!! and the divinely majestic Frozen In Time - an true mini epic if ever there was that goes from slow and acoustic to Priest-U-like twin guitar harmonies to heavy as fuck grind and pound and back again. All damn good stuff.

Got single out a couple of people here for special praise. First up the vocals of Brian Gamblin, a guy whose delivery is gruff and aggressive, yet never falls into the trap of the old cliched pig grunt all of which means you can hear what the guy has to say. And I always say if you have something to say, make sure people can hear it. Add in the fact that both Brian and his brother(?) Kyle Gamblin play a mean and impressive guitar that can balance on the line between melodic delivery and brain melting shred and the rhythm section of Jesse Hord and Casey Ory are as tight as a Scotsmans wallet and you really do have a line up that can deliver the metal in fine style. On top of that the production here is first rate, its smooth enough to give Titans Eve a huge and ear shreddingly vast and aggressive sound, yet is rough enough around the edges to keep the whole kit and caboodle bouncing along with the hungry urgency this kind of metal demands.

All in all a pretty impressive album that will win them a lot of friends. At the time of writing Titans Eve are about to hit the road in support of the legendary Anvil, so if your in Canada and get chance to see em, do so, and where ever you are in the world, buy this album. You will not regret it.

Very Impressive

For fans of... Anvil, Armored Saint, Onslaught, Six Feet Under, Portrait, Raven.....

The Effect - 'Lioness' (self released) 5/5

I first encountered young Swansea band The Effect a year or so back when they supported my outfit Alien Stash Tin over in Wales and blew us off stage, they had just released their debut ep (reviewed here) and that release proved a big hit with the people of radioland and got a lot of airplay on the BCFM show. Now they are back with this, their second ep release.

Now Lioness kicks off where the bands previous effort 'Everything has Gone' left off. There are seven tracks on off (well five main songs, an intro and a bonus track) and just like the band debut its another fine package of expertly played and produced, catchy as hell, commercial hard rock that shows these guys have a musical maturity well beyond their tender years. Batting firmly off the modern commercial hard edged rock wicket of the likes of Kids In Glass Houses, Lost Prophets, Muse, Funeral For A Friend, Shinedown etc, these lads lay down a fine edgy and angsty sound-scape for the new generation, all huge hooks, massive guitar sounds, pounding rhythms and some truly sublime breakdowns.

Now my only real criticism of the bands previous ep was the fact they lacked a little in the light and shade department, and seamed to hold back in places and never really let themselves rock out. However I'm glad to say that on this one that issue has been addressed. OK they never quite let rip into Funeral For A Friend style post hardcore aggression, but on tracks like Vulture and As The World Came Down they do step the RAWK dial up a few notches, just enough to give the band a bit of quality light and shade, and believe me they are all the better for it.

Highlights? well the whole ep is damn good and highly entertaining, but to select just two fave cuts on mine, we have to single out the title track, which is a glorious angry anthem to teen rebellion that builds from from something fairly quiet and introspective into a huge air punching anthem to die for; and the bonus track True Colours which is a superb slice of modern moshpit friendly commercial hard rock to die for.

At the moment The Effect are local heroes in parts of South Wales and almost unknown elsewhere, but if they can carry on releasing stuff like this I can only see far bigger and better things for these guys in the future. I'll watch their development with interest

Get hold of this ep NOW!!

For fans of.. Muse, Kids In Glass Houses, Shinedown, I Divide, Lost Prophets etc...


Wig Wam - 'Wall Street' (frontiers) 4/5

Now I'm convinced that somewhere in Scandinavia there is a big machine where talented musicians are thrown in one end and great glam rock bands come out the other, over the past year we've had Crazy Lixx, Royal Republic and many others hitting  us up with great new albums; now we have Oslo band Wig Wam with their fourth studio album Wall Street.Now if you think you have come across this lot before, then your probably either a fan of Scan-glam or your a regular viewer of the Eurovision Song Contest, this lot represented Norway in 2005 with a track called In My Dreams, a song that was number 1 in Norway for a long long time and has made them household names in their homeland.

Anyway enough of the history lesson, whats this album like? Well there are 11 tracks on offer here and over all its pretty good. The opening two cuts Wall Street and OMG (I Wish I Had A Gun) are both balls out rockers that take a swipe lyrically at cash culture, bankers, the state of the word economy. Heavy? Nah not really, its all tongue in cheek highly headbangable fun stuff. Then we have a quick change of gear for the highly quirky Victory Is Sweet with a huge chorus, children's choir, orchestral backing and massive sing-a-long hooks. And so it continues... I'm not going to give a track by track breakdown, but take it from me its all good stuff. Other highlights include The Sweet sounding The Bigger The Better, the lighter waver of a ballad in the form of Tides Will Turn (again look out for a massive hook), the dark and driven One Million Enemies and the sleaze filled sex out of Try My Body On (with the biggest hook of all!!) Not really a weak moment on show, even the aforementioned ballad isn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Now if there is any justice in the world, Wig Wam would be international superstars with albums like this under their belts, but we all know that justice and the music biz don't exactly walk hand in hand, but  have no doubt that Wall Street will at the very least become a bit of fave with those who like to seek out the good music that lays beyond the stuff served up on mainstream radio.

Pretty Damn Good

For fans of... L.A.Guns, Crash Street Kids, The Sweet, Ratt, Crazy Lixx.....

Circus Maximus - 'Nine' (frontiers) 4/5

Prog metal time again, and this time its Norways own Circus Maximus in the spotlight with this their third studio outing.

Now this is a pretty slick and impressive offering from Michael Eriksen and his band of slick power prog metallers, ten cuts, each a well penned, played and produced slice of musical edification that marks this lot out as leading players in the well populated field of European prog metal.

Once you get past the obligatory short intro track you get into the real stuff, first up there's the impressive Architect of Fortune a 10 minute plus epic that manages to be involved and complex yet avoids the Dream Theater style pomposity and self indulgence. Other highlights include the maidenesque Namaste, the huge and uplifting anthem of Reach Within, and the pair of epic closing tracks, the nine minute Burn After Reading with its superb interplay between guitarist Mats Haugen and keys man Lasse FinbrÄten; and the ten minute plus The Last Goodbye with its long and glorious build up into a breath taking Yes influenced finale. All in all, damn fine stuff indeed.

Now all the prog metal tick boxes are met on this one; complex riff structures, tempo and key changes, huge soundscapes, deep lyrics, Yes style harmony vocals, huge choruses.... Yet there is more to the Circus Maximus sound than the traditional European prog metal cliches, theres an almost AOR / Stadium rock feel in places here, and Circus Maximus are all the better for that it gives them an accessibility many of their contemporaries lack and a sound that will win them friends beyond the hard core prog metal audience.

Over all a good and very listenable record that stand up to repeated listening.

Worth a spot purchase

For fans of.. Opeth, Yes, Royal Hunt, Dignity, Fates Warning, Dream theater....

Mighty High - 'Legalize Tre Bags' (Ripple) 4/5

You don't need to do much lateral thinking to work out where New York stoner punks Mighty High are coming from with their second full length release. If the title and the album  cover art isn't a big enough give away (tre bags is New York street slang for a small cheap weed deal), then a quick look at the song titles confirms that this lot like all thing herbal and combustible - add in the fact that that this albums out on Ripple Music, home of all things cool and groovy in the stoner and retro rock scene and you have a record that really does exactly what it says on the tin.

Kicking off with a glorious MC5-U-like sub two minute thrash out entitled I Don't Wanna Listen Yes ('They sound even worse when I'm high') this record is a glorious rough as fuck cake walk through stoner culture. You get cuts like Moochie ('I'm gonna get high off your supply'), the riff heavy The Ram - a cut that sounds a little like UK alt rockers The Treat, the slick and groovy Tokin' and Strokin' and the doomy post Sabbath work out of Chemical Warpigs; 11 tracks in all every one dripping old school garage punk sensibilities and packed to the coda with drug references. And a very enjoyable listen it is to.

Musically there is a very strong MC5, Stoogies, New York Dolls vibe going on with this one, with hints of the likes of Black Sabbath, Hawkwind and The Deviants thrown in for good measure. As I hinted at earlier, the production here is minimalist and a bit rough round the edges, but that only helps re-enforce the whole garage rock feel to the music and serves to compliment the lyrical themes and ideas the band present.

Over all this is a pretty damn fine record, and there aint that many acts doing this kind of thing now days, and providing the feds don't cramp these guys high, long may they continue.

Worth Checking Out

For fans of... MC5, Inner City Unit, The Deviants, The Pink Fairies, Hawkwind, New York Dolls.....


Crucified Barbara - 'The Midnight Chase' (GMR) 4.5/5

Crucified Barbara are a all girl four piece outfit from Sweden. Originally a punk outfit they have honed their sound over the past 14 years into a classic old school hard rock outfit. They have toured with Motorhead amongst other and have just issued this their third studio album.

Ooo this is good, I've not encountered Crucified Barbara before but a mate of mine has been raving about them for sometime, so I thought it was time I checked them out, I got hold of this their latest release and boy I'm glad I did. Kicking off with The Crucifier, a juicy slice of old school 80's style metal in the Girlschool / Meanstreak vein, this album is just one glorious exhibition of first rate classic old school rock and metal. Tracks like Shut Your Mouth, Rules And Bones, Kid From the Upperclass etc are all damn fine, intelligent and highly headbangable exercises in classic metal excellence that stand up to repeated listening.

I know this may be seen as cliche, but I can't but notice some interesting parallels with Girlschool on this one. After all both bands started out as punk outfits, both evolved their sound into good old hard rock whilst retaining a little of the punk roots in their sound, and both have the power, drive and attitude to prove that anything the boys can do the girls can do just as well if not better.

OK it's not all good news, there is the ballad Count Me In, a very light weight throw away radio rocker that sticks out from the rest of the album like a Torey boy at a socialist workers rally, (hence this album not getting a perfect 5), but when you also have gems like Rock Me Like The Devil on offer it is a slip up than can be over looked.

The bottom line is this is a great record from a great band and one that should help Crucified Barbara get better noticed worldwide. I expect great things from these ladies in the years to come.

Very Good Indeed

For fans of.. Girlschool, Motorhead, Tank, Meanstreak, The Kix, Rock Goddess etc...

L.A.Guns - 'Hollwood Forever (Dead Line) 4.5/5

Sadly there is a tendency with some bands to split and reform in several different incarnations, and then spend as much time suing the backsides off each other as they do touring and recording. Just like Saxon, Great White, Wishbone Ash etc, glam legends L.A.Guns have also found themselves going down this route. Now I aint gonna let this review turn into a 'for fuck sake' rant. I'll just point out  that this version of L.A.Guns is the Phil Lewis fronted version and get on with it.

Now this album, the latest offering, is a pretty damn good one. It kicks off with a rather storming title track that lays out the stall for the rest of the 13 tracks to follow. We get the rather interesting Eel Pie (a reference to Mr Lewis East London roots?) with its cutting insight into the music business, the big an brooding Burn with its huge hook laden chorus, the rock and boogie bang out of Vine Street Shimmy with its glorious sleazy chorus riff, a fantastic slow and heavy blues workout in the form of Dirty Black Night - which features some stunning guitar work from Stacey Blades and the headlong drive of Venus Bomb which is an air guitar classic in the making...In fact there isn't really a duff track on offer, even the slower cuts like Underneath the Sun, are sleaze filled late night drinking anthems, that manage to stay ell clear of the old power ballad cliche.

Phil Lewis is a vocalist I've always had a lot of time for, after all I'm old enough to have seen him fronting both Girl and Torme back in the early 80's long before he upped sticks to California, and I'm glad to say he still sounds as sleazy, powerful, in your face and convicted as he did on Girl's Sheer Greed opus way back when, add in the fact that Stacey Blades does some of the best guitar work of his career on this one and the rhythm section of Scott Griffin and Steve Riley are as tight as Anne Widdecombes rubber bondage cat suit and you've got a great band writing and performing some first class hard rock

In short, this is a fantastic record and a worthy addition to the catalogue of a great band.

Well worth checking out

For fans of.. Poison, Girl, Guns And Roses, Ratt and classic hard rock and hair metal.

Lastwind - 'Return Of A Sonic Assassin' (Flicknife) 5/5

Ok a quick history lesson. Back in 1977, after a particularly disastrous US tour space rock gods Hawkwind decided to split, (only for a short while before they reformed as 'Hawklords' in the summer of 1978), but in the gap Dave Brock and Robert Calvert met up with Devon based prog rockers Ark for a one off gig at Barnstable Town Hall under the name The Sonic Assassins. The gig was recorded and gave rise to the rather impressive and hellishly influential 'Sonic Assassins' ep, Brock later used several Sonic Assassins for the reformed Hawklords (bassist Harvey Bainbridge went on to become a regular fixture in the hawks for the next 10 years), Now, lord knows how many years on, Ark / Sonic Assassins member Paul Hayles has recruited some of his former band buddies, along with a couple of of the great and good from the south West music scene (including former Groundhogs drummer Ken Pustlnik) to form Lastwind. and they have just issued this rather tasty long player.

Now I will admit to being a huge fan of Hawkwind, ever since I had my 16 year old mind blown by a mates brothers copy of Space Ritual, and although I have found that the Hawks themselves haven't done anything that has really impressed me since Xenon Codex back in about 1988 - all those classic albums are still the benchmark I judge space rock by. And I'm glad to say that this one is a bit of a classic.

Kicking off with a title track that harks back to that classic Sonic Assassins ep, Lastwind have put together a cracking album that sounds more Hawkwind than Hawkwind themselves have sounded in years. You get cuts like the spaced out and grinding Winds Of Time, that wouldn't sound out of place of the Hawks 'Warrior on The Edge Of Time' opus, the hard driving Autoroute, that sounds like a classic Calvert era track in all but vocal delivery, the heavy space metal of Monster Trucks which hat tips the hawks PXR5 era and the trippy astral boogie of Which Way When with its references to the works of the likes of Harvey Bainbridge and Steve Swindals.

However don't think for a minute that this classic album is a mere hawkclone offering. There are loads of subtle nods and winks to some of the other greats of UK space rock as well, Inner City Unit, The Lloyd Langton Group, The Alman Mulo Band, Mournblade, Magic Muscle, Underground Zero... the spirit of all these classic acts and more is alive and kicking on this one, and that makes this old acid rocker very happy indeed.

In short this is a great album that should be in the collection of all Hawkfans, space rockers, prog boys and acid trippers whatever planet they happen to be on.

Very very highly recommended

For fans of... HAWKWIND, Mournblade, Gong, The Deep Fix, Krankshaft.....


Blackwolf 'Taking Root EP' (self released) 4.5/5

I first encountered Bristol hard rockers Blackwolf about 18 months back when their self titled demo ep dropped into my inbox. That was a cracking offering, it picked up a lot of airplay on the show and got me, and many of the good folk of radioland interested in the band. Since then they have wowed crowds all over the West Country, chalked a show stopping performance at last years Bulldog Bash and got themselves a bit of a reputation as being one of UK's ones to watch. Now we have their first official release in the form of this rather cool four track ep.

Taking their cue from the likes of AC/DC, Airbourne, classic Aerosmith, early Def Leppard and even the likes of The Little Angels (the vocalist here don't half remind me of Toby Jebson), Blackwolf play no bullshit, heads down, air guitar a go-go, sledgehammer subtle, old school hard rock and they play it very well indeed. Of the four cuts on offer here everyone is a nice little hard rocking gem that just demands to be listened to. You get the balls out bounce of Stairway Ticket, the bang grind boogie of Finding Fables, AC/DC meets Black Alice rock out of Wayward One and NWOBHMesque Seeds. All of which are first rate rockers that show that Blackwolf have a musical maturity many more established acts would sell their right arms for.

A damn fine ep indeed, and one that will win this lot a heap of friends and hopefully open the door for them to go on to the recognition and fame they richly deserve.

Very Highly Recommended

For fans of - AC/DC, Wolf Mother, Airbourne, Aerosmith, Dedringer, Def Leppard.......

Asia - 'XXX' (froniters) 5/5

Supergroups tend be short lived on the whole. Widowmaker, Three, GTR, The Law... there is an endless list of outfits featuring the best of rocks good and the great that promised much but  only struggled on for an album, sometimes two then vanished. However there are exceptions to the rule, and Asia are one such exception. Formed way back in 1982 by Carl Palmer (Atomic Rooster / ELP), Geoff Downes (Yes / The Buggles), Steve Howe (Yes) and John Wetton (UK, King Crimson, Uriah Heap, Wishbone Ash and many many more), Asia put out an eponymous debut album - a record that is now days viewed as one of the classic albums of all time - and then followed it up with the equally impressive Alpha a year or two later. Since then the name Asia has never gone away, but the band since then has always had a fluid line up with various members coming and going through the years. But now the original four have reunited for a 30th anniversary tour and this rather tasty album release.

Now I will declare an interest and say I've been a big fan of Asia ever since that first album hit the stacks and so I was more than a bit excited when I first got wind that this one was on the cards. And I am glad to say I'm not disappointed. From the opening cut, Tomorrow The World, right through to the closer, Ghost Of A Chance this is one great record that manages to capture all the magic and uplifting feel good vibes of those first two albums in fine style. There are nine cuts on offer here and everyone is a winner, we get I Know How You Feel where Geoff Downes keys gives the whole thing a kind of Supertramp feel, the truly wonderful Bury Me In Willow, when Mr Wettons heart felt vocal delivery and emotive lyrics move you to the very core and lift the soul on sonic wings at the same time; and the driving No Religion where Carl Palmers distinctive drumming drive the whole thing along in fine style and give Steve Howe room for some truly remarkable lead guitar work. If fact there isn't a weak track on show here at all.

All the classic Asia trade marks are hear, nice accessible poppy prog rock tunes, expert musicianship, huge soundscapes, big uplifting choruses and enough catchy hooks to keep a velcro factory on over time for months. I will keep saying it, this is one damn fine record, a classic in the making. An album that stands proud alongside those first two Asia albums, and although I don't like saying it (after all I am quite fond of albums like Astra, Aria and Aura) the best thing Asia have issued since 1984.

All in all a damn near as perfect album as you can expect from these guys, and with Yes seemingly changing line ups every two weeks, ELP on hiatus and Mr Wetton  currently on a solo career, I for one would like to see this classic Asia line up sticking around a bit and doing a few more like this.

A True Classic

For fans of... Yes, It Bites, Journey,  Supertramp, Boston etc....