BOSS KELOID – Melted On The Inch

Boss Keloid are a scary bunch. They’re one part art rock, two parts progressive metal, three parts sludge and seven parts obsessed with ‘Zodiac’ era Melvins. On their 2018 LP ‘Melted On The Inch’ they use those influences and their many quirks to challenge, frustrate and eventually entertain. Providing your mood is right – and this is the very definition of a mood record – it can lead to a fascinating trip.

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FRANK TURNER – Be More Kind

Over the first ten years of his solo career, singer-songwriter Frank Turner recorded some fantastic material. His deeply personal songs touched on many subjects, from death, love, travel, friendship, lost weekends and politics. In short, in that time, he’s acted as a friend who’s been there, seen it all and is able to lend a lyrical tale of empathy whatever your personal situation. This time, though, he’s really not messing about: the commentary of ‘Be More Kind’ is a world away from the songs of youth, parties and camaraderie that peppered his early releases. It’s also musically far broader. A restless album, even; one that refuses to settle into any one style, sometimes with only Turner’s honest and personal lyrical concerns as an obvious link to the past. And while it isn’t a concept album, more than a few of its songs are connected to the universal themes of time and mortality.

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ISSA – Run With The Pack

Issa Oversveen made her first notable appearance on the melodic rock scene back in 2010. Her debut release ‘Sign of Angels’ quickly got attention from the AOR die-hards, with some proclaiming the album “a female fronted Journey”. An odd claim, since the songs neither had a particularly 80s shine and it had a distinctly European flair. That of course seemed only fitting with Issa hailing from Norway and her hired help all being European; it was a little better than most of the second division melodic rock being released at the time, but was still quite workmanlike. A follow up, ‘The Storm’ appeared surprisingly quickly in 2011 which, on the surface, promised more of the same but upon closer inspection boasted a better production and bigger and better songs. It may have accentuated the Euro slant a little more, but the results were enjoyable.

Keen to promote Issa as the new queen of a purer AOR sound, Frontiers Records pulled a master stroke in 2012 when ‘Can’t Stop’ presented the vocalist with a selection of melodic rock covers from the 80s and 90s. Obviously the big hitters like Journey and Survivor weren’t accounted for, but the choice of second division material made the album all the more interesting. For melodic rock buffs, it was fun to hear cult material originally recorded by the likes of Aviator, Tower City and Mystic Healer re-interpreted by new hands. It also was a welcome reminder of a golden period when now defunct labels like MTM Music were cranking out interesting albums on a monthly basis. Following a three year hiatus, 2015’s ‘Crossfire’ was well received by the faithful but, predictably, didn’t make any kind of impact beyond the melodic rock fraternity. As melodic rock albums go, it was a reasonable listen – the upbeat style of ‘Long Time Coming’ harked back to 1990 and was very much a highlight – but after the covers album, it never felt like it deserved as much stereo time.

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SEASONS – Chapters EP

Within a year of forming, Bedfordshire based alt-rock metal band SEASONS (always capitalised) had released two EPs and embarked upon four tours. Obviously, they believe that it’s the hard work that gets you places, but what’s perhaps more impressive is how professional the band sounded straight off the starting blocks. Their second EP, ‘What Comes Around’ really captures a band keen to display a well honed, multi-layered sound while simultaneously really pushing for a distinctive identity. Sure, you’ll hear bits of other rock bands in there, from both alt-rock and emo spheres, and there’s a few clear influences, but rarely anything that feels like a direct lift.

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ALLFATHER – Bless The Earth With Fire

Formed in 2014, Allfather came together over a shared interest of “vikings, anti-fascism and crisps”. It’s good to know the band have a sense of humour, because their 2016 release ‘Bless The Earth With Fire’ is not one to be taken lightly. Its six songs – if, indeed, they can be called songs, rather than an extended collection of devastating riffs – are heavy, dense and sludgy in equal measure. In short, if you’re a total riff junkie and value the weight and presence of a riff over almost everything else, you’ve come to the right place.

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