The new single from Mantic Ritual sees the Pittsburgh thrash band tapping into everything you’ve ever loved about the seemingly unsinkable metal sub-genre. ‘Crusader’ mixes Testament-like riffs with the speed of old Exciter tunes, but for that full on authentic feel, it features a brattish vocal that recalls the carefree style of the young James Hetfield circa 1983, complete with the kind of reverb present on the early 80s thrash releases.
Artists with long careers will inevitably find themselves with their best days behind them. With the passing of time and fading inspiration to contend with, this is only natural. It’s not something that seems to have affected Jeff Scott Soto. In 2020, thirty six years after his breakthrough with Yngwie Malmsteen, he released ‘Wide Awake (In My Dreamland’), one of his finest works to date. He could often be relied upon for a decent record – whether tackling pure melodic rock (2002’s ‘Prism’), unleashing his funky side and inner Prince (1995’s ‘Love Parade’) or fronting something heavier (some great metal albums with Sons of Apollo) – but ‘…Dreamland’ was a cut above.
Given how great that record was, it was a travesty that a global pandemic stopped Jeff taking the songs on the road, but despite the world slowing down, he didn’t stop working. He refocused his attentions and decided to bring the past into the present by re-recording selected tracks from his vast back catalogue with a clutch of the present’s other melodic rock talents. Sometimes reworking the past is a bad idea, especially if the artist isn’t particularly open about allowing other creative souls any real input (Kate Bush, we’re looking at you), but fans need not worry about Jeff tarnishing his already great legacy here. His choice of material is good; his roll-call of friends adds a variety of voices that are complimentary to his own and, regarding a couple of the older songs on the table, there might even be an improvement.
For many years, psych/prog band The Syn’s recorded output totalled a couple of rare 7” singles. Although much loved by collectors, these recordings remained elusive throughout the 80s and 90s, all too rarely spotted at record fairs or in second hand record shops. As an early vehicle for Yes men Chris Squire, the historical value of the discs was perhaps greater than their monetary value, but they often seemed shrouded in mystery to those who discovered Yes much later. Thankfully, Umbrello Records came to the rescue in the mid noughties when they reissued The Syn’s four original 7” sides along with other period rarities and other recordings, and even though their ‘Original Syn’ compilation was terribly titled and looked cheaply packaged, it would be an invaluable collection filler for those lucky enough to grab the limited edition release.
It’s only been a few weeks since Rum Bar Records gave out the excellent ‘XOXOXO, Volume One’ sampler showcasing some of their current roster and upcoming releases, but the label is already giving away yet more music to satisfy your underground rock and pop needs.
‘Rocktober II’ features a few current bits and pieces, but in a brilliant contrast to ‘XOXOXO’, it digs much further back into the label’s history, providing a superb recap for those who’ve only just discovered Rum Bar and their family of musicians.
Although a lot of people still associate Sepultura with Max Cavalera, the Brazilian band has been on a long and interesting journey since his departure at the beginning of 1997. Replacing a much-loved vocalist is always hard, but the band worked tirelessly to keep a high profile and bring their blend of thrash and groove metal to the masses.
The first clutch of albums recorded with Derrick Green may not be as well known as the career defining ‘Chaos AD’ and ‘Roots’ but each one contains several Sepultura classics, and although their Roadrunner Records swansong, ‘Nation’ (released in 2001) sold poorly in relation to previous albums, it captured an angry band still giving their all, and still masters of a tightly wound riff. It might just be one of the era’s most underrated metal discs. It’s definitely worth re-evaluating, especially if you haven’t heard it in a long while.