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Van Susans - 'Bricks Not Sticks Or Straw' (Beatnik Geek) 4/5

Now last time UK indie hopefuls Van Susans crossed my inbox it was late last summer with their ep 'We Could Be Scenery', and I wasn't that impressed to be honest, with the exception of one stand out track I found it generic, and a bit a lacking in both direction and fire, so when this their new two track single arrived at BCFM central I was a bit apprehensive.

However I'm glad to say that this two tracker is an improvement by a country mile over that last ep. OK its still very student friendly indie rock, but these two tracks seam more mature, more rounded, better produced and more focused than their previous material. We have Bricks Not Sticks Or Straw itself, a sweet indie / alt rock anthem with a huge sing along chorus, a lovely chiming guitar riff and a slick and smooth lead line overlaying it. It's a track I can imagine going down a storm on a summers afternoon at certain festivals. The other track (or b-side / bonus track - call it what you will) is a nice pseudo celtic pop ballad called Disappear that has hints of Runrig or The Waterboys about it and features some tactful piano playing underpinning an engaging vocal line.

Over all this is a sweet little single and shows that the Van Susans do have something to offer the UK music scene beyond generic indie pop, and they should be a band to watch out for in coming years

Worth checking out

For fans of... The Satellite Year, Mind Museum, Where's Billy, Waterboys, Runrig etc....

Blessed By A Broken Heart - 'Feel The Power' (Tooth & Nail) 4.5/5

Canada's Blessed By A Broken Heart are a band who have come along way since their metalcore debut inspired debut album back in 2004, slowly changing over each release until we have this one, their third studio opus.

Now as I've said before in this review blog, my metalhead was fixed on in the 1980's, inspired in equal measures by the NWOBHM, the thrash explosion and the hair metal outfits of the time.  And its from the later wicket that BBABH are now batting. Playing this one through I can't help but notice the thumb prints of Dokken, Quiet Riot and Ratt all over it, and I for one aint gonna moan about that.

Kicking off with the gloriously Dokken fueled Deathwish and the Ratt influenced Shut Up And Rock, this one had me wondering if I could still get away with wearing spandex and bullet belts and if the girlfriend would object to me getting a bubble permed mullet. It's damn infectious, expertly played, packed with feel good rock and roll attitude, produced perfectly for the genre and has immediately become a bit of a fave of mine.

Tracks like Holdin' Back For Nothin', Rockin' All Night, Scream Like You Mean It and Sleepless Nights boogie past in a glorious parade of the best of LA circa 1987, as hats are tipped to the likes of Motley Crue, Poison, Cinderella and the rest. But there is something deeper going on here in a few places such as on the track Love Nightmare the ghost of this bands hardcore past lifts is head to remind us that BBABH have a certain fire so many of the other 80's rock revivalists often lack.

Over this is a great record, highly listenable and is a worthy addition to the current crop of 80's revival albums that are around at the moment

Highly Recomended

For fans of.... Black Veil Brides, Halestorm, Ratt, Dear Superstar etc......

Goatwhore - 'Blood For The Master' (metalblade) 4/5

This is the fifth studio outing from New Orleans black death thrasher Goatwhore, a band formed some 15 years ago by former members of Acid Bath, Solient Green and Crowbar.

Now I like albums like this, there's no pretensions here, you look at the cover, look at the band name and read the track listing; full of titles like Judgement of The Bleeding Crown, Death To The Architects of Heaven and My Name Is Frightful Among The Believers and you know what to expect. Then you play the album and you get exactly what it says on the tin. There are 10 tracks on offer here, all sweet and neat packages of good old no bullshit black metal attitude that vary in pace from the headlong thrash and smash of Collapse In Eternal Worth to the more controlled grind and bludgeon of In Deathless Tradition. OK there's no marks here for originality, but lots of marks for a band doing what they do best with near perfection.

Vocalist Sammy Duet is in fine form, his intelligible grows and death grunts manage to stay just the right side of understandable and cliche, while the rest of the band support him perfectly by laying down layer after layer of really quite enjoyable metallic soundscapes that should put a smile on the face of headbangers and pit junkies everywhere

In Short - a pretty good album, recommended

For Fans of... Onslaught, Slayer, Anterior, Revoker, etc....