Following a couple of hugely unsubtle singles (the hardcore rant ‘Fuck Cyclists’ and the Rose Tattoo meets Hard-Ons rocker‘It’s Too Late’), Aussie punks The Owen Guns unleashed a furiously angry six track EP in the summer of 2020. It was everything the previous singles suggested it would be: brash, crass and – most importantly – loaded with massive hard rock/hardcore punk crossover riffs. The band’s furious verbal attack on the then US president (‘The Ballad of Cheeto Hitler’) even outdid most of their lyrical assaults. In a little over ten minutes, the relentless haranguing that drove the bulk of ‘Violating Community Standards’ set The Owen Guns in place as a band you just wouldn’t – and probably shouldn’t – argue with.
Covers albums can be a hit and miss prospect. For every band willing to take risks, there are three dozen hacking out uninspired versions of other peoples’ songs in the name of a quick buck. As proven by Jorn Lande, metal based covers albums can be an even trickier thing to pull off successfully, since not everything needs – or even suits – being “heavied up” in the name of entertainment. In fact, the experience of hearing Lande wail his way through Don Henley’s ‘New York Minute’ could be enough to put you off metal oriented covers albums for life…
Over the decades, metal has gone through various changes and spawned a lot of different heavy – and increasingly heavier – subgenres, but sometimes, there’s a genuine pleasure in hearing a band thundering out a riff or six that takes things right back to basics. Australia’s Skyhammer bill themselves as “a traditional metal band” and within the first ten seconds of this self-titled EP, that traditional – and very 80s – aspect of their art is presented rather unapologetically. For lovers of the style, this will be a good thing, especially with the opening track showcasing some fab twin lead guitar sounds inspired by Iron Maiden circa 1984.
For Australian rockers The Mercy Kills, there has to be a sense of relief in finally seeing ‘New Rule’ gain a full release. Recorded back in 2010, the EP reached promo stage – a few copies were even handed out at gigs – and then got cancelled. The material then spent the next ten years sitting in someone’s personal archive, always hinting at what could have been.
After finally seeing the light of day via Golden Robot Records (home to Michael des Barres and one incarnation of LA Guns) in 2021, it’s clear that it wasn’t an obvious lack of quality that caused the plug to be pulled prematurely way back when. The five tracks that make up ‘New Rule’ are a little rough vocally speaking, but by and large, are very good: there’s enough of a hard rock edge to please fans of an 80s rock style and there’s even a slightly sleazy undertone that suggests a love of glam. There are also several flashbacks to a more alternative 90s ensuring everything never sounds like a bad 80s throwback. Most importantly, some really fat basslines often give the material a fair amount of muscle. For a DIY release, ‘New Rule’ had – and still has – a fair amount in its favour.
In July 2020, Australian band Hoodoo Gurus gave fans their first taste of new material with the single ‘Hung Out To Dry’. They’ve now shared another track from their forthcoming album (scheduled for release in 2021).