A progressive metal quartet from Adelaide, Sun of Gaia are a talented bunch. Rather than take the predictable prog-metal route of trying to recreate an hour’s worth of Dream Theater inspired anally retentive dullness pomposity, the tracks on their 2016 EP look farther afield for inspiration. The riffs are heavier than many prog metal bands for starters – more of a melodic death metal punch informs their sound, along with some hardcore – but that’s not all that sets them apart. In terms of taking such riffs and fusing them with the unexpected, this release is a real winner.
Originally self-released, this debut EP from Manon Meurt finally gained a bigger distribution after being picked up for vinyl release via Label Obscura, a Canadian based label in 2016. It’s great that these Czech dream poppers are given the opportunity to branch out and reach new ears, since in terms of style, things don’t often come much finer. Their six track wax takes in so many great dream pop and shoegazy moods over the course of approximately half and hour; their pensive and droning sounds appear wholly nostalgic and (mostly) quite brilliant.
Stripping away the lightning speed drums and very much favouring a mid paced plod, or a funeral march, Estonia’s Vanad Varjud experiment with some of black metal’s more avant-garde elements throughout their 2016 release ‘Dismal Grandeur In Nocturnal Aura’. Although they are billed as “ambient”, fans of genuine ambient music will certainly want to give this a wide berth. Judging by the four compositions featured on this release, the band don’t always seem to understand what ambient truly means. Most of the supposed ambient moments seem to be either just slow, or hastily composed oddness with a jarring noise for accompaniment.
Following 2014’s full-length ‘The Tide Is Turning’, Colt 45 embarked on a series of live dates which saw them become festival favourites as well as sharing stages with mighty punk ‘n’ roll/soul punk revivalists The Computers. For the Cumbrian based alt rock/punk outfit, busy certainly became the watchword. In the build up to the release of their 2016 EP ‘Snakes & Ladders’, the band continued to receive strong press notices and build their following farther. On hearing ‘Snakes & Ladders’ – assuming Colt 45 had previously slipped under your radar – it should be obvious why they’ve received such a cult buzz, especially since the lead track ‘All Hell Broke Loose’ (issued as a single and YouTube video prior to the EP) is perhaps one of the best exponents of its style since Deaf Havana hit with the furiously infectious ’22’.
In 2015, the legendary Joe Lynn Turner lent his vocal stylings to an all-star project entitled Rated X. A hard rock release best designed to impress fans of a Euro metal style and injected with an obvious influence from Rainbow, the album found Joe in good voice. It was also by far the best thing Carmine Appice had been associated with since 1986. Fans hoped that Turner would next reappear as part of the resurrected Rainbow and, by all accounts, he was keen to get involved, but Ritchie Blackmore – and perhaps, more importantly – Ritchie Blackmore’s ego had other plans.