THE END MACHINE – Phase 2

The End Machine’s 2019 debut for Frontiers Records presented almost an hour’s worth of classic sounding hard rock. Its sound was exactly as you’d expect from a couple of musicians associated with Dokken and the ex-vocalist from Lynch Mob. It’s higher octane tracks gave George Lynch every opportunity to hammer his fretboard, while the darker and slower workouts put bassist Jeff Pilson squarely in the spotlight. Most importantly, a lot of the numbers wielded huge choruses to great effect, often giving vocalist Robert Mason (ex-Cry of Love/Warrant) plenty to work with. In terms of melodic metal, it was a great disc – certainly much better than Dokken had managed in a few years.

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THE MERCY KILLS – New Rule EP

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.

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Big River share new single; hint at big things for second album

Over the past couple of years, Kent based blues rockers Big River have really grown as a band.  Their early singles suggested a lot of musical weight, but not always much long-term substance. That was more than fine for some listeners, obviously; those who love big riffs instinctively seemed to like Big River from the get go and the lads never shirked in terms of commitment.

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HEAD MACHINE – Orgasm

As the 60s gave way to the 70s, some musical fashions began to take a more aggressive turn. The psychedelia and blues that had been a dominance force on the rock scene had started to fade and while some of the psych bands took the leap into full-on prog rock waters, many psych bands merely just fizzled out. Deep Purple, whose early mixture of psychedelia, rock covers and blues took a harder direction and helped forge what would soon be known as heavy metal; Status Quo – who’d had major success with a couple of brilliant psych-pop singles – floundered for a bit and eventually became a lynchpin of a no nonsense boogie rock sound. In February 1970, the Black Sabbath debut changed everything, killing the last remnants of a 1960s optimism for good. For The Gods – a little known rock pop band who’d released two unsuccessful LPs – the writing seemed to be very much on the wall. In what appeared to be a last throw of the dice, they changed their name and beefed up their sound in an attempt to rejuvenate their ailing career.

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JEFF SCOTT SOTO – Wide Awake (In My Dreamland)

If there’s one word that best describes singer Jeff Scott Soto, it’s “prolific”. He made his first major breakthrough in the mid 80s when he appeared as a singer for hire with Yngwie Malmsteen, a job that doubtlessly helped him score similar work with virtuoso guitarists Alex Masi and Axel Rudi Pell. From that point on, he never stopped working. Throughout the nineties, he fronted hard rock bands Eyes, Talisman and Takara (sometimes simultaneously) and in the twenty first century, he’s fronted his own band SOTO – taking a heavier direction – and been a member of AOR supergroup, W.E.T. In between all of that, he’s found time for an on/off solo career. Take one look at his discography on Wikipedia detailing all of his major works alongside dozens of guest appearances and you’ll find yourself wondering if he ever sleeps.

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