In some people’s minds, Samson are often considered either a second division act of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, or simply “that band that Bruce Dickinson used to be in”. While neither is technically incorrect – historically, most NWOBHM bands are now second division compared to scene titans Iron Maiden and Saxon, and Bruce was in the band – such basic thinking does Samson a massive disservice. By the time they’d recorded their debut album in 1979, the band were actually at the forefront of the emerging scene. They were one of the first to release a full length album and despite some fluctuation in early line-ups, at their best, they could more than hold their own when it came to hard rock entertainment.
Billy Sherwood’s 2015 album ‘Citizen’ looked at the world through the eyes of various historical characters, both real and fictional. He drafted in a few friends to make his vision a reality: Yes men Jon Davison and Geoff Downes lent their vocal and keyboard skills; other keyboards were added by sometime Yes members Rick Wakeman and Patrick Moraz, John Wesley, Steves Hackett and Morse each brought their distinctly different guitar chops to the recording sessions but, perhaps best of all, Colin Moulding (one time of XTC) came out of retirement for a guest vocal appearance. In many ways, ‘Citizen’ felt like an all star epic.
In 2016, The Graham Bonnet Band released ‘The Book’, a brilliant release that managed to look forwards and backwards simultaneously. Its first disc presented a selection of brand new hard rock numbers – many of which represented Bonnet’s best work for a long time – and the second celebrated his past by offering re-recordings of songs originally released by Rainbow, Michael Schenker Group, Alcatrazz and more. The record didn’t especially care for being fashionable, but it was a timely reminder – at least for some – that Bonnet could still deliver the goods when backed by the right musicians.
Every once in a while, a band comes along that sounds almost exactly like their logo and album artwork. This is one of those times. With a sound that falls somewhere between heavy psych and stoner rock, Perth’s Giant Dwarf deliver a world of fantastic riffs on this debut album. These guys have so obviously realised that it can be more effective to take influence from others and do that well, as opposed to presenting an odd mish-mash of more original sounds but end up with a record that’s going to be perhaps quite marginal. It’s resulted in a release that’s full of belters that fall somewhere between classic ‘Dopes’ era Monster Magnet and the more focused Queens of The Stone Age – pretty much guaranteed to please most listeners who loved stoner and space rock in the late 90s…and still find themselves craving some deep fuzz.
French vocalist Emma Sand released her ‘Wonderland’ EP in 2016, but it would be another three years before a follow up would emerge. 2019’s ‘Door To Door’ concerns itself with various musical moods and champions itself as an aural road movie, with the vocalist taking the listener through a handful of musical styles along the way. Lovers of heavily reverbed, retro guitar sounds may well take an instant like to the material, but that’s really only just the surface noise on this particular road. The six songs featured here aren’t necessarily recordings you could love straight away. Sand’s big voice occasionally feels at odds with her band; on first listen, she’s just too loud…but given time to adjust, at least two of these songs slowly unveil themselves as being fairly smart adult pop.