Hailing from India, About Us play a variety of rock styles, but often centre their songs around hard edged melodic rock with proggy flourishes. Despite their desire to give AOR a kick, the proggy moments won’t be enough to win over the average prog fan, and might be a little distracting for the melodic rock purist. However, if you’re able to get your head around their sometimes very busy and occasionally quirky sound, their debut album presents some very strong melodies and great songs.
British punk band Al Pacinos Sister formed during the pandemic lockdown in 2021, but it wouldn’t be until the following year that they really exploded into life. Their ‘Trained In Karate’ and ‘DOGZ’ EPs (released in February and July of that year) marked their place as one of the UK’s noisiest underground bands. It almost immediately placed them alongside Pizzatramp and Socks On label mates Get The Fuck Out of Dodge – a role that the somewhat faceless act seemed to be taking very seriously.
The Fall’s early work has been reissued several times, but with a few of their “Fall Sound Archives” releases, Cherry Red Records managed to go above and beyond to give some well worn material the best send off ever. Both ‘Live At The Witch Trials’ and ‘Dragnet’ were released as lavish three disc editions in 2019, but even better, the seminal ‘Hex Enduction Hour’ formed part of a brilliant box set, ‘1982’, later that same year. By making the much loved album the main feature of a 6CD anthology, it set a precedent for similarly great reissues.
Taking the same approach as that box set, ‘1970s’ is a hefty 12CD tome that claims to include all of the band’s work from that decade. It doesn’t – there are notable omissions – but it pulls together a huge wealth of material, including several live shows that have never been officially released. There’s always a question of how much bootleg quality Fall material you need, but as the old fan mantra suggests, “you must get them all”, and the lure of six unavailable live sets here will certainly be enough for the hardened fan to want this set – quality be damned-ah.
Best known as the frontman with Metal Church, Ronny Munroe has one of those voices that absolutely encapsulates the sound of “classic metal”. It might not have been so obvious on the thrash-centic output of his former band, but via a run of solo releases, his vocal power has become more than clear. His huger notes convey a Bruce Dickinson inspired wail, some of the harder edged, theatrical elements occasionally capture a gruffer take on Geoff Tate, and when dropping into something a little more angry, his darker tones have even managed to sound a little like Russell Allen, if only the sometime Symphony X man were coasting rather than attacking everything at full volume and full pelt. There’s no escaping the fact that most of Munroe’s style relies on some very 80s influenced stock, but since the bulk of the material on ‘The Black Watch’ centres around a very busy, very retro sound, Ron’s performances are more than suitable. They’re also one hundred percent committed – both in terms of energy and volume. This album’s blend of classic and power metal is many things, but subtle it really isn’t.
‘The Black Watch’ marks the end of a hibernation period for Munroe. Last heard bellowing on his solo release ‘Electric Wake’ in 2014, his voice retains a lot of that voluminous style, but aided a much more adventurous band – unafraid to explore a hugely bombastic canvas – he’s able to abe both grander and more melodic. Things never shift too far from an old school metal core, but it often feels as if there’s far more here at stake for his fans.
Following the release of Crosby, Stills and Nash’s excellent ‘CSN’ LP in 1977, Stephen Stills returned to his solo work. He’d made some excellent albums before [1970’s self-titled album and 1975’s ‘Stills’ are both essential listening, and 1976’s ‘Illegal Stills’, while marred a little by a thin sound, is very enjoyable], so there was no need to think that his next solo LP wouldn’t be of a certain standard. However, in comparison to almost everything he’d put his name to previously, his 1978 release ‘Thoroughfare Gap’ can be seen a big misstep.