Ten years of label changes, line up changes and a decade’s worth of sweat led to the making of The Senton Bombs’ ‘Mass Vendetta’. On this fourth album, the Blackpool rockers deliver eleven tunes that recycle lots of classic influences, leading to a collection of songs that might just excite listeners who still hanker after dirty hard rock with an occasionally sleazy edge.
For those who feel that metal is a purile genre and that black metal is purely just noise, this split release from two underground bands will certainly challenge such ideas. Those who harbour such preconceptions are unlikely to step within a hundred miles of this release, of course, but that’s hardly the point. From Krygyzstan, Darkestrah fuse black metal themes with a few traditional Asian musical slants, while Saudi occult metallers Al-Namrood mix up black metal with some heavy folk metal influences. While the music on this split release can take a while to fully appreciate – if, indeed, in the case of Al-Namrood, it can be fully appreciated – it cannot be said that either band play to extreme metal traditions and that these tracks aren’t in some way surprising.
Back in 1978 Steve Perry sang about a wheel in the sky and, as such, it’s pretty much impossible to encounter this Swedish band’s choice of name without hearing his high tenor as part of the old internal jukebox. The band may or may not be aware of that… There are far more irritating earworms to be stuck with than early Journey hits, of course; even now, half of you will be humming that track to yourselves and potentially cuing up your copies of ‘Infinity’ for later listening. However, unexpectedly, this particular Wheel In The Sky are not an AOR band at all. Most of this release sounds as if it were recorded around the same time as Journey‘s aforementioned single, but that’s as far as any comparison goes. These guys are more your Steppenwolf and Blue Oyster Cult variety of retro and in principle, their desire to want to make you cut loose with their particular brand of throwbacks to rock’s yesteryear is a very admirable trait.
Although presenting themselves in two very distinctly different moods, on their 2014 EP ‘Absence Makes The Heart Forget’, San Francisco’s Hey Hallways’ work always shows a huge DIY spirit and self-belief. Their obvious willingness to pay homage to some great punk and garage rock sounds from the tail end of the 1980s will win over fans of the style almost instantly. The first half of this release has so much energy within it’s crudely recorded material, while the second is a very different beast – one that’s almost certainly guaranteed to be a love/hate affair.
Over the course of a couple of years, the fourth album from Anglo-Dutch band Nine Stones Close – 2012’s ‘One Eye On The Sunrise’ – built up a cult following. Its combination of extended musical workouts and thoughtful song writing really spoke to sections the prog rock audience. Aside from a rather flat drum sound it had a lot going for it, presenting music that culled lots of influence from the past, but still felt contemporary. Fans eagerly awaited a follow-up, but it was clear they’d have to wait some time. Band leader/guitarist Adrian Jones had embarked upon extra curricular work with Michel Simons (9SC’s engineer) creating more sonically spacious music, the results of which can be heard on the excellent Jet Black Sea debut. Keyboard player Brendan Eyre, too, had moved on, eventually releasing ‘Northlands’, a mellow collection of tunes with Tony Patterson. Perhaps the biggest instigator in delaying the follow-up, though, was the departure of vocalist Mark Atkinson.