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Dans Pick of 2012

Regular listener to the BCFM Sunday Rockshow and Hot Wires bassist Dan Seward brings us his pick of the best albums of 2012....

1. Led Zeppelin - Celebration Day
Led Zeppelin gives you your musical education. It's where heavy rock began. So, where to begin... I didn't use to like Jimmy Page's guitar tone, but this recent live recording makes it sound that little bit better. This double Cd live recording was recorded in 2007 at London o2 arena. Featuring Jon Bonham's son Jason Bonham on drums. The songs stand the test of time. There's lots of variety and diversity to the way they play. The musical style has embelishments and dynamics which make it interesting such as in: "Good times, bad times" and "Ramble on" where the verse riff and rhythm begin with a main rhythm and then one that follows the riff, it flows into the chorus which is directly built on top of from the verse riff. In "Black dog" a good blues tradition valuing is present when the riff starts and stops to allow a vocal acapella dynamic then hammering back in with the riff. The version of "Stairway to heaven" is well worth listening to featuring some nice pipe organ and endearing guitar work. They hit you with slow blues, smooth, sophisticated and raw, in both "Since I've been loving you" and "Dazed and confused". They convey of plate mesmorising chaos in "Misty mountain hop". My personal favourite is "Kashmir" with it's epic, cinematic riff bolstered by it's well navigated chorus counterpart. Old favourites "Whole lotta love" with a long psychadelic dive in the middle and "Rock n' roll" with it's instantly recognisable chant of "It's a lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely life". 
If you like this you may also like: Doors, Deep purple.
2. Black Country Communion - Afterglow
Black country Communion are a supergroup featuring Joe Bonamassa, Jason Bonham, Glen Hughes and Derek Sherinian.
Joe Bonamassa wields his Gibson Les Paul studio guitar. High flying work horse mode is in abundance on this album, where guitar solos flutter their wings with patterns of beauty in songs such as "Midnight sun" and awsome rhythm guitar in songs like "Dandelion". It's not that we haven't heard this sort of thing before but it's done so well and with genuine passion , it takes the bit of the formula that's proven and kind of enhances it to a higher level. The drums so on the ball they kicksnactivate with power in oodles of a style of which would cause trouble for a lot of today's powerhouse metal drummers. Where as the 2nd album was full of woeful odes to society and emotional subject matter, "Afterglow" is more upbeat and musically enfusing.The bass keeps thundering away, sometimes with quite flamboyant style. Keyboards hot-rod their way through. Whatever your rock angle, it's worth checking this out if you wanna give the classic/retro with a new slant a go. 
If you like this you may also like: The answer, Airbourne
3. Axewound - "Vultures"
Axewound I would call HATECORE but when I say this I don't mean 1- dimensional, I mean a fully fledged onslaught that never fails to interest with it's intensity. All the best of brutal down to it at the pinnacle. God this is a good year for supergroups and Axewound feature members of Bullet for my valentine, Cancer bats and Glamour kill. They spell it out hell is a heaven for the hateful intent of mixing up a mecca of a moshpit world you could think of as a misery for anything but worship of jarring guitars, bashful sometimes simple, never overstated. It would appear to be the point is to recognise the hatred ignited by ignition. Sometimes with harmonised guitaring. Extreme point blank melodying in songs including: "Cold", "Exorchrist" and "Collide"(with it's orchestral/piano leanings). There are a few high-speed guitar solos such as the awsome solo in "Vultures". Fall forward flung riffing power in "Destroy" and "Blood money and lies". Drums are potent throughout.   
If you like this you may also like: Cancer bats, bullet for my valentine, Bring me the horizon,Slipknot
4. Over your threshold - "Facticity"
Some German death metal wizadry courtesey of that limericky one beat bass-snare rhythms. Some grungifying bits
stick out of the starts and ends of a mainly falling plight, which maybe in a stoner abborition seek to control a evil but playful giant wicker robot like the one depicted on the cover illustration. Although they are a German metal band their vocal phrasing seems not to vary from those of metal bands from english speaking countries. They leave you there, venting in low to the ground, pacified melody which counters the affliction of the (in death metal terms) mid-tempo. So there is switching of moods and sometimes it's like a battle between the two. 
If you like this you may also like: Cradle of filth, any death metal band that comes to mind but this band really are quite unique for there genre.
5. Enslaved - "R I I T I I R"
If ever there was a band to release an album dignifying the neon dazed to ultimateism it would be Enslaved. This album has a bit of a Telecaster sounding twangy hammering bleeding knuckle metal. It's all pulled off so smoothly and so calmly with their dark gothic catchy choruses such as in "Death in the eyes of dawn" with lyrics that read: "Blinded are my eyes, tied are my hands, sleeping wide awake, got lost within myself". This could mean a lot to someone looking for a sense of psychosis type bliss. Most of the tracks are long and some have more prog-rock leanings than metal, particularly "Storm of memories" and "Forsaken". Where they really shine through is their ability to take you on a voyage with dry wit, and dwelling on riff led barren soundscapes. Aswell as this, on another
level you can note the bite of their rampant soily death metal. The soloing is kind of like you might have heard before but it's more like the highlights of a gifted player. 
If you like this you may also like: Opeth, Hammers of misfortune
6. The Gaslight Anthem - "Handwritten"
Let's look at it like this; a well groomed garage rock sounding band stepping out with all the right hooks and punky sounds with lead breaks to carry it off for the whole show that anyone can catch on to. As writer Nick Hornby notes is of that boy meets girl subject matter that makes simple, addictive listening. Highlights include: "45" and "Handwritten". The album features just enough kick and grit in the arrangements to qualify it for rockularity. I think this may have been said before, but to quote: "Hey, hey turn the record over" "Hey hey and I'll see you on the flipside". Indeed. 
If you like this you may also like: Stereophonics, Ash
7. Last Wind - "Return of a sonic assassin"
An all star line up including Groundhogs drummer Ken Pustelnik and the bass player from psychadelic rock band the Heads aswell as some former members of Hawkwind. A duo of guitarists (the album also includes some synth sounds from the vocalist) with a spacey slt-fying outing with it's Shaun Rydery-ish twists, like tales of fate from down the pub on acid. Sometimes akin to Alien stash tin. Quirky humour and wit run amok with a take it as we fuck you with it approach and solid rhythm section. Lead guitar entailing a constant fast rip roaring though I believe it to be multi-fx driven sound. It gets that in between early rock and punk notion which people may be familiar with of bands like the stooges, well imagine that going off on a mellow tip, an engine rooted more in a philisophical wisdom as opposed to a wheel of explosion. It has been said that the vocalist Paul Hayles is more of a "Chanter" than a singer. Lyrics such as in "Slots" where it is said: "for some reason it's always a woman's voice saying hang on to that money, keep it for another day" and "that's what money's for ain't it". In "Day trippers": "We used to take a stroll, take a pill or two" definitely work in their favour.
If you like this you may also like: Happy Mondays, Hawkwind.
 8. Neal Schon - "The Calling"
A solo outing from Journey's lead guitar player. He's been deemed as a Satriani-like player. Indeed the title track does remind me of a Satriani title. It's mainly whammy led lead lines, long sustaining and as instrumental music goes it's pretty enticing. Backed sometimes by world music percussion and often slightly funky drumming. I'd give it credit it's interesting to the point where I'd say Schon gets his theories accross in tracks such as "Primal Surge" and "Song of the wind 2". Rarely stopping for a bit of rhythm guitar with nice arpeggios on songs such as "Irish field" he's a talented player in that department too. His quick bursts of speed are nice skirmishes, to coin this I'd say think of Hank Marvin with distortion and rock etiquette, let the guitar sing you a song.
If you like this you may also like: Joe Satriani, Santana
Reviews by Dan Seward