WEST BOUND (feat. Chas West) – Volume 1

Chas West will be familiar to most listeners as having been the vocalist for Bonham, as well as fronting Craig Goldy’s short lived band Resurrection Kings. With regards to the latter, West always felt like the weak link. A band that included Goldy and drummer Vinny Appice could never be all bad, but West’s tendencies to sing everything at full volume made the album hard going in places.

Two years on, West Bound finds Chas working with cult hero Roy Z, a man best known for his work with Bruce Dickinson in the 90s as well as being a key member of Tribe of Gypsies. Throughout this debut, West still approaches many of the songs at full pelt and with maximum metal theatrics, but with much better material to hand and with Z’s having a more sympathetic style, it’s more obvious why he’s been in demand as a session vocalist in the past. In this case, West’s overblown style combined with Z’s vast array of riffs actually results in a great album.

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HUMANITY DELETE – Werewolves In The Iron Sky

Humanity Delete’s second album, the retail-unfriendly titled ‘Fuck Forever Off’, was a great piece of death metal. For those able to make it past the terrible name and even worse sleeve art, the album showed how it was possible to take classic death metal tropes, shake them up a little and come up with something that felt traditional and yet still new and relevant. Often sounding like a death metal infused Lamb of God, these Swedes definitely showed an ability with a riff.

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IRON MAIDEN – Killers

Iron Maiden’s second album ‘Killers’ was released in the UK in February 1981, just ten months after their debut LP. Not so much “born into a scene of angriness and greed, dominance and persecution” as born of haste following EMI’s request for a speedy follow up, it was a “second album” in almost every conceivable sense. Faced with the prospect of having to deliver a new product amid relentless touring, they looked to their archive of already written material and plundered it for all it was worth. Years of honing their sound on the road and the fact the debut included just eight tracks, they found themselves in the fortunate position of having a cushion of material – and while it’s sometimes obvious why some of the tracks were not considered first division material when compiling the debut, Maiden’s “leftovers” were still strong, with some tracks having already become firm fan favourites by the time Steve Harris and company re-entered the studio.

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NEGATIVE WALL – Gammagelu

Tommy Stewart ended 2018 in style by giving the world an enormous piece of doom when his band Bludy Gyres contributed a near-impenetrable seventeen minute slab of riffery to a split release with fellow doomsters Dayglo Mourning. After such epic scale sludge, some musicians would take a moment to step back and admire their work…but not Tommy. He’s chosen to go head first into 2019 in similarly grand scale, as his other band Negative Wall present just four lengthy and doomy pieces of intensity on their debut full length release. Stretching to almost a full half hour, ‘Gammagelu’ is not an EP, but a near album length, fuzzed up, doomed out musical ride that’s almost as aggressive as Bludy Gyres. This time around, Stewart takes his gift for a riff and applies it to a world of whacked-out sci-fi tales…

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GATEKEEPER – Grey Maiden EP

Metal has gone through various different fashions over the decades. No longer just typified by the big vocals and studs ‘n’ leather of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, it has taken in different influences and spawned several subgenres, with each giving a very different listening experience. Very little of this seems to have been noticed by Canada’s Gatekeeper, whose debut album ‘East of Sun’ relied heavily on some very 80s riffs and the lyrical themes of an old Helloween LP.

Offering a couple of new recordings alongside an acoustic re-working of an old favourite and an obscure cover tune, their 2019 EP ‘Grey Maiden’ is similarly rooted within the 80s and although incredibly old fashioned in style, this four tracker is actually great at what it does. For those whom enjoyed the previous LP, it’ll be a more than welcome stop-gap.

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