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Desaster - 'The Arts Of Destruction' (metalblade) 3.5/5

Since their formation in 1988 Teutonic death thrashers Desaster have been  hellishly prolific, clocking up 23 releases (if you include demos, split albums and eps) of which this is the latest.

Now this lot claim their biggest influences are the likes of Bathory, Slayer and Venom, and its good to see they are still sticking to their roots here. Cos once you get past the short intro track and hit the first full cut The Art Of Destruction, your slapped in the face with a sound that is dripping Venom-u-like riffage and Cronos style vocals, that grabs you by the throat and demands your attention. And so it continues nearly for the entirety of the album. Tracks like The Splendour of the Idols, Queens of Sodomy, At Hells Horizon and Beyond Your Grace come screaming from the speakers, rape your ears and damn your brain to a glorious black pit of metal oblivion.

Its only on the epic cut Possessed and Defiled do you get any real real respite as the band do go in for a little bit of Bathory style light and shade. All in all its nothing overly mind blowing, and is fairly generic, but what the hell, it's still enjoyable and after 20 odd years of doing this stuff and with a large fan base Desaster know their audience and sound and are still delivering the goods their fans want. Besides its well played and produced and I have heard a lot lot worse.

Worth checking if your into black thrash metal

Fr fans of... Bathory, Venom, Behemoth, Asphyx, Waxface....

Michael Thompson Band - 'Future Past' (Frontiers) 4/5

Micheal Thompson is a bit of a legend on the session scene, starting off as the 'house' guitarist for the TV series Fame, hes gone on to be the hired gun of choice for the likes of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Phil Collins, Rod Stewart and a whole galaxy of other household names. But he still finds time to record and tour with his own outfit The Michael Thompson Band, and this is MTB's latest album.

Now I'm find this one a bit of a strange one. One the whole its fairly typical west coast stadium AOR, all Toto-U-like big ballads and Journeyesque light weight radio friendly rockers. Stuff that I don't dislike, but stuff I tend to use as wall paper music whilst chilling out reading and doing the house work rather than actively listen too. However there are three factors here that lift this record above the ordinary and have earned it an extra mark. First up we have some excellent song writing, tracks like the anthem Here I Am and the power ballad When You Love Someone are all raised above the bog standard by some first rate arrangements, and some fine attention to detail. Secondly there is the vocals of Larry King, here is a guy with a distinctive voice and someone who knows how to use it dodge cliche, just check out his delivery on Beautiful Mystery, it is indeed stunning.

Finally there is the guitar work or Mr Thompson himself, if you ever wonder why this guy is in so much demand as a session player just skip through this album, every track features guitar work that can only be regarded as superb, it is technically impressive without resorting to show off widdling, sympathetic to the song and compliments the music perfectly. My personal fave section being the rock and blues fueled solo on Gypsy Road, a slice of lead work that sends a shiver right down my spine.

All in this album has a lot to recommend it.

Well worth checking out.

For fans of... Toto, REO Speedwagon, Mecca, The Magnificent etc....

The Ottawa Hoax - 'Kid Gloves, Made With Real Kids' (self released) 4.5/5

I first encountered Bristol hardcore / metalcore outfit The Ottawa Hoax a good few years ago when my old mate, and former band buddy Jim Cogan was producing their debut demo, and I was impressed with what I heard. then as is often the case with local and unsigned bands they dropped off my radar, but now they are back with this their latest ep.

There are four cuts on offer and I am finding this one really enjoyable.We start with God's Rottweiler a delightfully brutal little exercise in blending old school hardcore attitude and aggression with more modern metalcore sensibilities, and it works really well, there is none of the cliche clean v dirty vocal interplay going on. Yes there are clean and dirty vocals but they are blended together so well the transitions are barely noticeable, and the result is a sweet little mosh your brains out opus that makes even this old hippy want to start a circle pit.

Next up is Mendeleev, a slightly more experimental opus that comes over like Melt Banana meeting Rolo Tomassi for one helluva fucked up blues jam. Chuck in the Converge influenced Odourdose and the Gay For Johnny Depp meets AFI fueled Kid Gloves with sweet acoustic passages inter-cut with some first rate hardcore brutality and the result is a sweet little ep that is gonna win this lot a lot of friends.

Recommended - Highly recommended

For fans of.. Converge, Rolo Tomassi, The Hotel Ambush, The Bled....

The Feral Underclass - 'Social Disease' (death to music) 4/5

Taking their name from a speech my Torey grandee Ken Clarke in the wake of last years riots, The Feral Underclass are a Brighton based death, grind, extreme metal project formed by Meads of Asphodel guitarist James Fogarty and vocalist Elliot Wainberg (a drum and bass dj apparently) with guest lead guitar from The Clan Destined guitarist Lee Cassidy, and this is their debut ep.

Now this is a tasty little four tracker, its angry, tight, and dripping in a metallic sauce that references the likes of Bolt Thrower, Carcass, Entombed and Doom. We kick off with the title track, all sweetly controlled riffage, bludgeoning beats, slick lead guitar work and some wonderfully dark and aggressive vocals, we some wonderfully angry and socially charged lyrics, 'we are all guilty, we are the disease on society...' great stuff.

And so it continues, Bitter Milk kicks off sounding a bit like Panzerchrist jamming with the Amebix and coming over in a series of brutal hammer blows that take no prisoners, and again featuring some sublime lead work from Mr Cassidy. Sociopathy - in my mind this eps outstanding track, is a wonderful exercise in death grind with lyrics that drive home the very valid point that how can people care about a society that doesn't care about them. Chuck in a spot on cover of the old Carcass classic Death Certificate and you have a really impressive little debut release from a project that shows a helluva lot of promise.

And whats more you can download this little gem for free!!

In short a great debut from a project I for one want to hear more from.

For fans of... Bolt Thrower, Somnus, Carcass, Police Bastard....

download this ep for free from here -