ALBUM REVIEW: Pain Of Salvation – Panther

 

The eleventh full-length studio release from Swedish power/prog innovators Pain of Salvation, Panther (InsideOut Music) is a concept album which presents a futuristic city in which people are separated into dogs and panthers. The dogs being “normal” people while the panthers represent “spectrum” outsiders.  Continue reading

ALBUM REVIEW: Wailin’ Storms – Rattle

Having originally formed in Texas, Doom/Punk quartet Wailin’ Storms relocated to North Carolina and it’s possible that both areas may be contributing to the band’s thick soup of rebellion and a life in the darkness. Third album Rattle (Gilead Media) sees the band incorporate a Grungey, swamp-drenched edge to that sound, further uniting related yet disparate genres. Continue reading

Conny Ochs – Doom Folk

If ever an album title was created with the subconscious aim of getting my attention it’s Doom Folk (Exile On Mainstream Records), the fourth solo album from multi-faceted German troubadour Conny Ochs. More famed in Metal circles for his collaborations with Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich, Ochs’ own output is equally as relevant – perhaps more so. Continue reading

Trees – Trees

Search online for bands named Trees and the only entries you’ll find are references to the glorious British Folk outfit of the late sixties and early seventies. Deep in the recesses of Finland, however, comes another such incarnation: one that joins the gathering of acts that have revitalised the genre this year. Continue reading

Rex Brown – Smoke On This…

While he’s been largely silent over the years, it’s hard to argue with the either quality or the diversity of Rex Brown‘s output. From Pantera’s transition from glam to thrash to pure groove, to the swampy sludge of Down and Crowbar, to borderline country music with Rebel Meets Rebel, the bassist has done it all. Continue reading

Greg Graffin (Bad Religion) Readies Solo Album This Spring

 

Greg Graffin, frontman of the iconic Los Angeles punk band Bad Religion as well as a renowned author, will release a brand new solo album titled Millport on March 10 via the Anti- Records label. Continue reading

On The Road… with Zakk Wylde – Book Of Shadows II Tour

zakk wylde summer us tour 2016 ghostcultmag

 

One thing about Zakk Wylde he never does what is expected of most guitar heroes. In his nearly 30 year career, he has always thrown curveballs at listeners, paved his own road, and still delivered for fans. Continue reading

Pentagram – Curious Volume

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Last time, nobody really thought there would be a next time. Some of us maybe hoped there wouldn’t be. Four years on from Last Rites (Metal Blade) however, Pentagram return with Curious Volume (Peaceville), and there’s still a level of energy despite the weight and omen of previous victories having lost its potency.

Opener ‘Lay Down and Die’ and ‘Earth Flight’ have more of the power and sleaze of early Kiss: Bobby Liebling’s gruff vocal Simmons-like; whilst Victor Griffin’s deep riffs dance around the rhythms, his solo work proving as stellar and timeless as ever. Nowadays, of course, we’d class much of this stuff as good-time Heavy Rock, adding fuel to the argument that some people should know when to quit. ‘Dead Bury Dead’ however, with its return to Iommi-style riffage, tortured solos and lascivious vocal, sounds like a fresh foray into Liebling’s song vaults: returning the band to its former glories whilst simultaneously displaying an existing relevance.

Conversely, the ensuing title track sounds like something that should have been recorded thirty years ago: the squalling strings and ominous nature not enough to hide the belief that a younger band could have prevented this from becoming a mere ‘filler’. Similarly the Punkish feel of ‘Misunderstood’ descends to a ‘pub Rock ‘n’ Roll’ that the band’s history ill deserves, despite the up-tempo rhythm recovering some of the early vim. A return to the signature Proto / Doom of ‘Close the Casket’ and ‘Devil’s Playground’ shows where the real power of Pentagram will always reside: the tolling riffs and Bobby’s ringing yet sinister vocal betraying both his years and his troubles, while the Country Rock twangs of the latter still show they can mix the sound up.

While it strums the heartstrings to see Vic and Bob back together, it’s plainly obvious that their outfit’s best days are behind them. Still capable of eliciting an involuntary twitch of the hips however, Curious Volume is unlikely to win new fans but raises a fond smile, and still shows the odd flash of why we should be thankful for their very existence.

 

6.0/10

 

PAUL QUINN

Blackberry Smoke – Holding All The Roses

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I have a musical comfort zone. And it’s all the way over there with the Jackson Flying V’s and double-bass drums. It may even include some spandex (not on me, though…) Yet here I am, sitting here, rocking on the porch (sofa), nodding along to the Southern vibes of Atlanta, Georgia’s Blackberry Smoke and their fourth album Holding All The Roses (Earache).  And I’m more than fine with that.

Following the critical and commercial success of The Whippoorwill (Earache/Southern Ground) would have daunting to many bands, but not the Smoke, who shacked up with mega-producer Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen). Any fears that such a hit-maker would sterilize their sound are quickly dispersed by the laidback singalong to ‘Let Me Help You Find The Door’ and it’s rock n’ roll shamble. The title track shuffles in next, picking up the beat, with some clean guitar fingerpicking and a more uptempo come-and-join-us chorus. Whereas the temptation could have been to seek the big bucks and accidentally fall into the trap of producing sanitized radio rock, instead Blackberry Smoke have infused their music with even more of a traditional Southern flavour, and, boy, does it suit.

Blackberry Smoke are no gimmick band, just a class one with their hearts in yesteryear and a love of venerable records, releasing an album full of simple pleasures; of pure, excellent songs. There are many highlights, the pick of which are the two melancholy numbers, the deeper, bluesier ‘Woman In The Moon’, where Charlie Starr’s lazy delivery comes into its own, and ‘No Way Back To Eden’ (a track I’d have been tempted to close the album on), both of which prove the quintet have that added depth all the best have. In amongst the swathes of Creedence Clearwater Revival (and several other subtle references I’m too unschooled to know) ‘Too High’ is wistful country and ‘Rock and Roll Again’ is the sound of the Deep South ripping on Status Quo and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Call Me The Breeze’, while ‘Payback’s A Bitch’ has a work-shy hook that will infect you like sidewinder venom, as Holding All The Roses unfurls it’s kick-ass blues rock beauty with a smile.

I’ll level. If Blackberry Smoke weren’t on Earache, the chances are high I wouldn’t have been interested in checking them out. Chances are also as good as getting a 7+ on a 15 hand in pontoon we wouldn’t be included them in the hallowed digi-pages of the good ship Ghost Cult without the same, or similar, connection. And we’d have missed out on a warm, chilled out doozy, so hats off to Dig and all concerned for branching out and expanding their traditional net. I’m delighted they did. I’m not going to go off and dive into a whole other musical genre, but I’m glad the Smoke have entered my life and my music collection. They won’t be for everyone who frequents a metal site, but they should be for people who value unassuming good rock songs.

If there is justice out there, the winds will spread the Blackberry pollen far and wide.

 

8.5/10

Blackberry Smoke on Facebook

 

STEVE TOVEY