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8.8.12

The All-Seeing - 'The All-Seeing (demo)' (self released) 4/5

(sorry but I have no idea why the cover art loads rotated)

Time for another lucky random surf discovery. The All-Seeing are a stoner rock outfit from Sweden and this, as far as I can work out is their debut demo single. Apart from that I know naff all about them.

Gotta say this is a sweet little two tracker. Kicking off with a 7 minute minute epic entitled No Place, with its grinding post grunge distorted bass, doomy plod and slog riffing and anthalmic vocals, you can't help but draw favourable comparisons with the mighty Mos Generator and Somerset weed-heads P.O.T. The other cut on show is a sweet little three minute pot and roll work out called Sky, with a head bangable riff, a distant and down beat vocal and a rather short but sweet noise rock guitar solo.

All in all this little demo is highly enjoyable and goes to show that rare gems await the discerning music fan whose prepared to do a bit of net trawling looking for the best of what the underground has to offer.

Sweet.

For fans of... Mos Generator, P.O.T., Stone Axe, Dark Earth....

(download this single for free from http://theall-seeing.bandcamp.com/ )

Firewind - 'Few Against Many' (Century Media) 4/5

This is album number eight from Greek metal gods Firewind and main project of Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Gus G.

Now I am a bit of a Firewind fan I will confess, their 2008 album The Premonition being a particular fave of mine. So I was a bit excited about getting this one to say the least. However having lived with it for a while now, I will say I'm finding it a bit of a double edged sword.

On the up side this album is a pretty good exercise in power metal. There are 10 tracks on show, all of a high standard. Gus G is in fine form, check out the wonderful shred and widdle solo on Losing My Mind for an example of a guitar hero at is best. Vocalist Apollo Papathanasio shows once more that he is one of the most distinctive and engaging vocalist in metal at the moment. As for the music, well tracks like Another Dimension with its driving riffs and the huge anthalmic Glorious are all first rate examples of modern commercial metal.

However I do one issue with this album and that's the production.To my ears its a bit too well produced, everything is polished to perfection, and whilst on tracks like the chilled out and introspective Edge of A Dream it works well, in other places the stacked vocals and layered guitar lines and big keyboard wash only serves to take the cutting edge off the whole thing. Riffs that should kill merely stun, solos that should blow the mind tend just to titillate... I dunno may be its a personal thing on my side, but I like my metal with a little bit of the rough edges left on.

Still that gripe aside I can't really say anything negative about this one, and the fact that its topped the Greek album charts and is generating highly favourable fan reviews means they are doing something right here, and more power to Firewind for that.

Pretty Good Overall

For fans of... Helloween, Dragon Force, Iron Maiden, Queensryche, Primal Fear....

Fen - 'Of Losing Interest' (Ripple) 4.5/5

This is the fifth album from British Columbia based stoner prog outfit Fen, an outfit that has been around since the late 1990's and their second for Ripple music.

First impressions of this one are very favourable, like a lot of Ripples roster the term stoner rock is the first thing that springs to mind as the opening cut Riddles lurks from the speakers and conjures up sonic images of early Rush, Black Sabbath and Triumph. However as the nine tracks on offer play you begin to pick up a lot more diversity of influence and sound that many of their retro rocking stoner counterparts. A Long Line has an almost Kashmir style Zeppelin vibe to it. The Glove, with its not so subtle lyrical references to Michael Jackson, hints at the work of Max Webster, Light Up The End is a sweet acoustic led pseudo ballad that hints at The Grateful Dead on a Rainbow trip and Snake Path reminds me a little of Blue Oyster Cult in places (a very good thing indeed in my book)

As is to expected the playing and production here is faultless, Doug Harrison and Sam Levin are both superb guitarist, each capable of laying down some spine tingling lead work and joining together in some classic Wishbone Ash style twin lead sections - just check out the lead playing on Pilot Plant. Another big plus is the lyrical content; which serves up some very intelligent and quite dark imagery that is delivered by Mr Harrisons Burke Shelley / Geddy Lee type vocals in spine tingling style.

All in all a great record from a first rate band, and a release that will do both Fen's and Ripple's growing reputation the power of good.

Highly Recommended

For fans of... Mos Generator, Rush, Stone Axe, Blue Oyster Cult, Led Zeppelin...