As last year wound down, 2020 was looking bright for music, with tours galore and a litany of reunions. Nashville’s rock ‘n rollers Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown were looking forward to building on their busy 2019, which included tours and festivals across the US and Europe, most notably with Stone Temple Pilots, Rival Sons, Clutch, Sevendust, Blackstone Cherry, and Airbourne, among others, and the release of their critically-acclaimed album, Truth and Lies. But as 2020’s landscape changed, big plans did too. Some artists went on hiatus, while others decided to take the time to reflect and write. In this case, guitarist/vocalist Tyler Bryant, drummer Caleb Crosby, and guitarist Graham Whitford did not slow down, took on the latter approach, and hunkered down in Bryant’s home studio to craft some of their best work with the help of co-producer/engineer Roger Alan Nichols. Aptly titled Pressure (out October 16th on Snakefarm/Spinefarm Records), the album takes listeners on a journey through the emotional and tumultuous year. Coincidentally, many of the songs began to take shape before Nashville faced a destructive tornado, COVID, and racial justice rallies. However, the release could not have been timed better, as it offers up 13 tracks to headbang and air guitar away the trials and tribulations of the last seven months and beyond. With a multitude of moods and tempos, and a collage of rock, blues, roots, and country stylings, Pressure follows the roller coaster that is 2020 life. Continue reading
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Enforcer – From Beyond
Enforcer’s shtick was old before they had even recorded their first demo. But four albums into their career and they can pen a good ode to classic 80s metal. The Swedish four piece – Olof Wikstrand (Guitars & Vocals), Joseph Tholl (Guitars), Tobias Lindqvist (Bass), Jonas Wikstrand (Drums) – probably know it’s not 1982 anymore (we hope…), but they don’t care.
It’s good, mindless fun, and that’s ok.
From the opening notes of ‘Destroyer’ you know what you’re going to get over the next 40-odd minutes; no pretence, no bullshit, just big riffs, melodic hooks, shout-along choruses and the urge to wear nothing but denim and leather. This is pure high octane 80’s metal from 2015.
You like galloping riffs? We got it. High-pitch wailing? You know it. Air-guitar inducing solos? Of course. Enforcer have done their research; Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Diamond Head, Saxon, plus numerous lesser known ‘cult’ acts; all your favourite NWOBHM influences are present and accounted for. It’s a meticulous copy of all the best bits of heavy metal’s classic years combined with a good ear for hooks. You could make a game out of identifying which riffs they’ve stolen from which band/album.
From Beyond (Nuclear Blast) has a default tempo of fast. The likes of ‘One with Fire,’ ‘Hell Will Follow’ and the opener all scream speed metal. ‘The Banshee’s simple but addictive chorus and twin lead guitars has future crowd pleaser written all over it, while ‘Below The Slumber’ and album closer ‘Mask of Red Death’ are both six-minute mini-epics; starting slow and quiet before bringing a plenitude of riffs and noise.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with From Beyond; if you liked any of their previous efforts (or indeed any other super retro act) they’ll be plenty to enjoy here, and if you have a craving for authentic sounding metal from three decades ago you’ll be more than pleased. But anyone chasing anything more than nostalgia will find nothing particularly to enthuse about.