Saturday, January 27, 2018

Mother Mars- On Lunar Highlands (Pepper Shaker Records PPRSKR009)

Mother Mars is an Aussie trio featuring the brothers Frank (Drums) and Paul (guitar, bass, piano, organ) Attard and Dave on vocals and harmonica. Some of you might know Paul from the amazing Frozen Planet1969.  This is the bands 10th release (see their bandcamp site) and a pretty cool one. The CD features 13 tracks in a bit over an hour and starts off with Wreckers Reunion Ball, a bass heavy rock and roll number with a bit of harmonica and dark vibe. Vocal is quite raw but a powerful voice is presented. Lost Planet Airman kicks in and has a totally different sound production that really takes you by surprise. This is a straight up rock and roll number with a great energy and catch piano line to compliment as well. A bit of harmonica for good measure as well.  Paul really holds back on the guitar compared to Frozen Planet and goes for more heavy riffing rather than solos like on these first two tracks.  Quite an AC/DC inspired track. Prior to Thought it best to cut you Loose, which is a mid paced nasty rocker, is a short 30 second Steel guitar piece. Now the track numbering on the CD is all fucked up. Anyway, track #4 Soap bar Pick up Joint, is now track 5 actually and a pretty cool instrumental track with some more intense guitar but also a raw and nasty sound. The Stalwarts of Saltwort Castle is a long track at 9:30. This is in the vein of BANG with a cool long instrumental jam section. The Working mind of the Creator is another instrumental with a sort of oriental string instrument and some strange sounds in the background. Around 2mins, the drums kick in to join the fun. Woodhollow Creek is nearly 13mins long with a lot of lyrics but a lot of time to sing them as well! It starts with just vocals and strummed guitar, where nearly the full story is told before the band kicks into the rock. This track also features a moog synth which gives this track a bit of a freaky and more psychedelic feel.  Around 7mins it becomes a lot like a stoner rock track with a very cool stoned vibe. Cool ending to this long track. Before Never Fail is another short steel guitar piece that is unlisted. This track is a sort of bluesy country twangy track with a dark spirit at times mixed with a happy one. Cool song and totally different. Bigger than Fear is a grooving rocker with a more straight power riff guitar and a nice solo. On Lunar Highlands starts off with a heavy riffing fast pace section and then goes into a Dazed and Confused like vibe for a bit. The Heavy Hand of the Destroyer starts with some psychedelic stuff with effects and guitar of some sort. Trippy stuff.  A quite diverse and interesting album, the first I have heard by this group. The CD comes in a very cool slipsleeve format with a small poster with the lyrics and song credits. Great artwork.

Vvlva- Path of Virtue (World in Sound WIS-3032)

Vvlva is a new German 5 piece band born our of the ashes of he band Orcus Chylde. Black Sands starts things off with a solo organ intro that lasts for about 1min before the rest of the band kicks in. This track is very much like Uriah Heep down to the details of how they did the harmony vocals. The lead vocal is a bit sung and spoken with a bit of a harsh, shouty edge at times. Great opening track. Now you know what you are in for! Motel Floor has a great guitar riff and start stop almost funky groove. Vocal is a bit shouty and in your face at times. Nice wah wah solo as well in this great track. Cause and Effect has a heavy guitar riff and a more laid back vocal with the organ a bit more in the background to start. Dieb der Seelen is sung in German and very passionately sung in this more hard rocking track that is like early Deep Purple!  Think In Rock period. Cryptic Faith starts off slowly with a nice guitar solo before the groove kicks in and off we go. Some nice harmony vocals on this track as well. Love the way the organ and guitar mix into almost sound like one. It gives it a bit of a psychedelic feel. Adam’s Owe is a short powerful 3mins track. The title track of the album starts very laid back before the wah guitar kicks in and great groove leads the way. The organ and guitar parts are really excellent in this track. The song has a bit of mysterious feel to it at times and some of the best vocals on the record.  Second Voice closes out the record with a more bluesy track with some slide steel guitar by Wolfgang (guest).

On first listen, the band reminded me a lot of the recent Danish band, Grusom, who are also very Deep Purple, Uriah Heep inspired with a heavy Hammond organ driven sound. Solid 70s inspired rock and roll.

Red Sun- The Wind, The Waves, The Clouds (Psyka Records PSYKA-007)

Red Sun, are an Italian band (trio) and this is their third release. They produced a full length record back in 2014 and last year did a split LP with The Luck of Eden Hall. The music is mostly instrumental. Artic Wind starts things off with a mid pace, melodic guitar line, and drony synth underneath. The track picks up speed with a cool phased out guitar riff and then back into the floating space where it began, then another break with a guitar solo, and back again. Very good and dynamic track. Hidden Currents follows with a nice melodic guitar line that is repeated quite a few times with a low mixed synth in the backround as well. The melodies twist and turn and eventually a more heavy riff kicks in but no real solo in this one. The Clouds has a really nice melodic guitar line that drives the track. During the break, a windy synth sound is mixed in to change the atmosphere a bit. Some very cool guitar at the end as it gets quite psychedelic.  Holy Mountains closes out side A and features some spoken words by Fredo the drummer. This is a pretty relaxed track with a nice simple synths solo before the heavy and dramatic guitars take the track to the final crescendo.

The Jagged Coast of Wales, which starts side B, features Cavitos from Da Captain Trips on lead guitar. The opening guitar reminds me a bit of Causa Sui. This is one of the best tracks on the album with great melodies and feelings and of course some cool guitar playing.  Aurora is a mid paced but sort of dreamy piece with some synth drones. The track gets a bit heavier towards the end but keeps its melodic energy. Waves of Sand ends the album.  This is a pretty cool mostly laid back melodic spacey album with some good dynamics, I wish for a bit more guitar solos, as I always do.. Enjoy..

Metallica- Master of Puppets Deluxe Box Set (Blackened)

I was lucky to be asked to contribute an interview I did with Cliff Burton in May 1986, a few months before he died. Also, they included two pages from my Metal Madness fanzine in the large hard back book that comes in the box. Thanks.. I got one copy of the box for my contribution.  Anyway, the box is very impressive.  The new remaster on both vinyl and CD. A double live album from the tour on vinyl from Chicago. These live shows, despite not always multitrack quality display just how heavy and powerful Metallica were at this time. A real cutting edge metal band. There are several additional shows on CD and DVDs as well as Cliffs last show on a cassette tape!! A decent quality audience recording. The box also comes with 6 Metallica pins, a Damage inc..  LP size print and the amazing 108 page book with so many cool pics and details about the recording session. A very impressive package and one that will take me a few weeks to hear and watch the DVDs…   Even better than the Ride the Lightning box, which I was also very impressed with. I wonder if they will do something like this for the Garage Days or Black album??

The Nazgul- The Nazgul (Mental Experience MENT016CD)

This is another release from Toby Robinson and his 70s underground label, Pyramid Record from about 1975.  It is 4 long tracks inspired by JRR Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings.  Very creepy, ambient, experimental music with synths, tape effects, guitars (not much), gongs, etc..  The opening trak is The Tower of Barad-Dûr. Very cool stuff and you can imagine as you have snuck into the tower. Great atmospheres. Remember the massive spider?? Shelob’s Lair is next and the mood once again is very cool and creepy as you know this giant spider is watching you, but where the hell is she?? The Dead Marshes starts with pans, percussion, resonating gongs, horns etc.. before it slowly dissipates. There are also some voices on this one. Very evil.

The final track in the 40min journey is Mount Doom and just as creepy and evil. I don’t recommend listening to this one alone on a stormy night!!! Really cool stuff.

Remastered from the original tapes. Released vinyl and CD with liner notes by Alan Freeman. Cool re-release.