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Chimp Spanner - 'All Roads Lead Here' (Basick) 4.5/5

This is the new mini album from Chimp Spanner, the prog metal alter ego of Blessed Inertia guitarist  Paul Antonio Ortiz. Just like its two full length predecessors it was recorded entirely in his Colchester based home studio.

Now I gotta admit I do like this one lots, in a time when a lot of progressive metal is inaccessible overly self indulgent own backside exploring djent, finding a nice slick smooth intelligent semi ambient work like this is a breath of fresh air. In fact playing through this one you can't help but compare Mr Ortiz with some of the greats of prog guitar past, Steve Hillage, Steve Hackett, Andy Latimar and the rest, which is top notch in my books. Add in the fact that his backing and keys work counjours up images of the likes of Quarkspace, The Enid, King Crimson, Church of Hed, et al. and you have in this record on very enjoyable and chilled out package.

The main body of this one is the three part suite Mobius, a fifteen minute epic that is a pure joy to listen to as it takes you on a glorious psychedelic musical voyage that is as uplifting as it is inspirational. The other three songs on offer are equally good, especially the soaringly majestic Cloud City, a track that has more than a hint of classic Camel about it.

Over this is one great record and is a must have for all proggers and lovers of fine music in general.

Highly Recommended

For fans of... Steve Hillage, Steve Hackett, The Enid, Camel, King Crimson, Quarkspace, Pink Floyd...

Psycho Kiss - 'Monkeying Around' (Psychic Cliff) 4/5

Neath outfit Psycho Kiss are yet another outfit from the seemingly endless line of hellishly talented Welsh rock bands that are exploding from the land of song at the moment, and just like The Bambi Killers, The Effect, Anterior, Betty Swallaux, V0iD, The Dirty Youth and all the others once again they are upholding the very high standard we have come to expect from the thriving Welsh rock scene. Apparently the band have been around for a few years and have built a solid reputation and a fair following through solid gigging before releasing this their debut album.

There are ten cuts on offer here, each a sweet little gem of a number, that ranges in style from the dark and brooding ballad of Little Man via groove rock numbers like Monkeying Around and huge stadium rock anthems like No Good Pretending to balls out rockers like This Is Love.

Helen Ceri Clarke's vocals are to die for, I don't think Wales has produced a female rock vocalist of this caliber since Catrin Southall of the legendary SAL; there is power and melody here with a touch of the old Janice Joplins, and none of the operatic shriek many female rock singers inflict on us.Add in some fine performances from the rest of the band, especially some tasty lead work from g-man Paul O'Brien, and you have in this album a real gem of a debut release that should open doors for them way beyond the Valleys.

Well worth checking out.

For fans of... SAL, The Dirty Youth, Obsessive Compulsive, Rock In Your Pocket.....

RAM - 'Death' (metalblade) 4.5/5

Apparently RAM were formed back in about 1999 by a bunch of Swedish metal nuts who shared a mutual loathing of the then popular Nu-metal scene, and since then they have gone from strength to strength to the extent that they are now releasing this their third full length studio album.

Now as I have said before many times in this blog, I'm a child of the NWOBHM, for me much of the the early 1980's was spent in various clubs and concert halls around part various parts of England giving myself self inflicted whiplash injuries headbanging to the likes of Iron Maiden, Saxon, Tyson Dog, The Mama's Boys and countless other purveyors of classic old school metal. So when I got this one through my inbox and gave it a spin I was more than a little turned on by the metallic delights on offer here. This is after all my first real encounter with this band and it's ringing my bell big time.

Right from the off you know these guys mean business, the double header of Death / .....Comes From The Mouth Beyond starts off sounding a little prog rock then suddenly launches into a galloping driving riff fest that is pure Iron Maiden garnished with slices of Accept and Marshall Law. And it carries on from there I Am The End has hints of Saxon about it, Frozen is a slower metal ballad that hat tips Jaguar and Under The Scythe is pure Sweet Savage. Other musical reference points include Praying Mantis, Sledgehammer, Angelwitch, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Pagan Alter, Tytan and Blitzkreig.

Now don't for a minute think that just because this outfit looks back 30 years or so for its musical cues you have an album of dinosaur metal. RAM's obvious love for this kind of stuff comes shining through. They have taken the sounds and styles of one of metals greatest and most influential and productive eras, and not only made that sound their own, but have also reinvented it for the modern age; something I salute them for.

Add in the fact this record is expertly produced, penned and played and you have here a real gem of a record that will bang the heads of metal fan s world wide regardless of age.

Very very good.

For fans of... Iron Maiden, Saxon, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Weapon, Sweet Savage, Accept....