The Autumn Killers may have been new a new name on the rock scene for 2020, but the band’s core members were already veterans of the UK rock scene. Vocalist Rob Reece had previously been a member of Swivelhead, 91BC and his eponymously named Reece, and guitarist Duncan Richardson had twenty years experience as a session musician. You’d think, given the amount of hard yards the duo had already put in, that their debut EP ‘Dance Floor Mayhem’ would have sounded like the work of a professional band. Unfortunately, its songs – in addition to being hampered by a demo quality production and a drum machine that sounded like a plastic tub being hit with a stick – were plodding, uninspired and hopelessly clichéd. ‘Chains’ – a song about “a relationship that felt like being in chains” – chugged along as if a bunch of beginners were experiencing their first studio booking and hammering out an old Black Keys tune in a lumpen manner; ‘I Don’t Mind’ attempted something of a groove, but ultimately sounded like an average pub band paying tribute to the 90s and, worse still, the title track failed to garner any real excitement, sounding like a plodding version of The Cult with no real passion. At its best, the EP could be called unpolished; at its worst, you might even find it falling somewhere between boring and terrible.
Neal Smith will always be best remembered for his time spent as the drummer in the original Alice Cooper group between 1968 and 1974. Once seen, the image of that band becomes indelible. Not just for a body-stocking wearing, snake-wielding frontman, either. At their 1973 peak, Smith’s presence was like witnessing a blonde octopus attacking a drum kit. He allegedly always made sure his kit was one drum bigger than Keith Moon’s. There’s no denying that this man was a rhythmic god.
Arriving on the scene in 1982 at the tail end of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Sacrilege were originally active as a gigging band for five years. Although they played London’s legendary Marquee at their peak, in many ways, they were just one of hundreds of bands at that time who never “made it” in the truest sense. During their original life-span, they never recorded an album, and so by the end of the nineties, they seemed destined to be all but forgotten.
Back in the 90s, Neal Morse was one of the most talented people to emerge on the prog rock scene. With elements of Gentle Giant and Yes mixed with the Morse Brothers’ distinctive own style, Spock’s Beard gave prog a real kick up the arse with their first three albums. Their third album ‘The Kindness of Strangers’, especially, marked the band as one of the new breed of greats since it blended some great proggy ideas with the pop charms of Jellyfish and Crowded House to create a record that mixed excess with a truckload of melody. It was a disc they would never better. In the early 2000s, Neal found religion and left the band for a solo career. His albums from then on featured some reasonable music but divided fans due to some very heavy handed and preachy lyrical concerns.
Paradise Asylum released their debut EP ‘The Storm Queen Cometh’ in 2013. The release was recorded on a meagre budget and vocalist Carla Warnes sang fairly flat throughout, but a couple of tracks demonstrated a can-do attitude that showed that even when they got it wrong, the band clearly loved playing together. Subsequent releases trod pretty much the same path.