Quick Plays: LORD OF MUSHROOMS, CARMEN GREY, MASTERCASTLE, END OF SEPTEMBER, ANCARA

Lord of Mushrooms – Perspectives (Lion Music)

Lord of Mushrooms has been quiet on the recording scene, their last album released in 2005.  Some seven years later, with some personnel changes, they return with their third album, “Perspectives”.

The album starts off strongly, with great rhythm guitar and vocal work over a good melody in “Imago”.  Things go a little awry as the album progresses, though, with a heavy influence of 70’s prog coming through strongly, leaving the melody behind.  The production is strong, as are the musicians (their sound is wonderful), but the strength of the songs are a bit lacking.

Progressive doesn’t necessarily mean one can leave the melody behind.  Sadly, this is what LOM has done.

***

Nick van der Meulen

Carmen Gray – Gates of loneliness (Warner Music Finland)

Carmen Gray has been one of Finland’s best kept secrets for a number of years.  Releasing their debut, “The portrait of Carmen Gray” in 2006, the band has gone from strength to strength, culminating in the release of “Gates of loneliness”, their third album.

The album is definitely radio friendly and it is no surprise that three singles (the title track, “Heroes and losers” and “Two wannabes”) have made into the Finnish single charts.  Each track is melodic, sing-along, and potentially a hit.  There is more of a modern rock sound to it, with a touch of Bowie and Coldplay…but this is way more passionate than Coldplay, with better vocals and guitars.

This deserves to be heard and I hope the secret is now out!  Well worth investigating.

****1/2

Nick van der Meulen

Mastercastle – Dangerous diamonds (Lion Music)

The Italian metal artists return with their third album in as many years and have gained experience along the way…

This being another female-fronted outfit (in a spate of new bands in this vein), Giorgia Gueglio’s voice has matured with the music being created, gelling with the band sound better than in “Last desire”, their previous release.  Eleven tracks of infectious melodies are on offer, with an excellent rhythm section showing prominence – and some wailing guitar solos to boot.

Mastercastle may not be as radio friendly as their rivals, but they deserve recognition for their ability.  Check them out.

****

Nick van der Meulen

End of September – S/T (Ulterium Records)

End of September is the brainchild of Swede Erik Tordsson, who had performed with rock and extreme metal outfits in the past.  He took some time to hunt for a new vocalist, after the previous one had left after recording some demos.  Elin Redin was drafted into the band.

The music is touted to be a balance between Within Temptation and Evanescence and I must admit I was sceptical.  Upon listening to the album, however, it is exactly as described: the symphonic metal side of Within Temptation, the grungy guitar of Evanescence, with Redin containing the angst of Amy Lee and the vocal delivery of Sharon van Adel.  Tordsson adds a few extreme vocals in between which, thankfully, are kept to a minimum.  What we are presented with is a high quality album with nine songs to devour.

Any fan of Within Temptation or Evanescence should love this.  Just one request: more than nine songs for the next album, please!

****1/2

Nick van der Meulen

Ancara – Chasing shadows (DKS Music Oy)

Ancara is a Finnish hard rock outfit and has released two albums previously, both hits on the Finnish charts.  The members have been influences by the rock scene in the 80’s and have brought this influence into their music.

What makes Ancara different from their peers is that they have a modern rock/metal sound with a hint of 80’s influence and a more uplifting and bright disposition with regard to music and subject matter than their more modern counterparts.  The result is a well-produced, rocking album with soaring melodies and crunching guitars and stellar song writing.

This one almost slipped through the cracks (it was released at the end of January), but I’m glad I stumbled on it!  Worthy of your attention.

****1/2

Nick van der Meulen

Andromeda – Manifest tyranny (Inner Wound Recordings)

Andromeda, on the progressive metal scene since 1999, has been hailed as the master in the genre, with the Swedish outfit releasing five studio albums before “Manifest tyranny”.

While David Fremberg comes over well with his voice, it is interrupted continuously with “radio commentary”, which riddles the album to such a degree that one finds it irritating.  There are a couple of flashes of brilliance, like the frenetic solo and the vocals on “Asylum” and “Play dead”, but the album is too inconsistent and one spends too much time trying to wrap one’s mind around what form of progression will happen next…

Not an album I’ll rush out and buy, but I can appreciate the band’s talent and hope their next effort will provide some consistency.

**1/2

Nick van der Meulen

Hydrogyn – Private Sessions (Rapid Fire Entertainment)

Hydrogyn is an American modern rock outfit that has received a lot of hype over the last eight or so years, but haven’t managed to break into the big time (although they have hit the Billboard charts), despite their cult following.  “Private Sessions” is the band’s fourth studio release…

This album has it all: powerful, well-crafted songs, with cutting edge riffs (care of Jeff Westlake and Jeff Boggs), massive hooks and a stunning voice in Julie Westlake.  “Roseline’s song” also provides a softer side to the release, showcasing the band’s panache, along with “Un Monde Perdu” (the European bonus track) which combines the gentle touch with some bone-crunching riffs.

This is modern rock at its best: bombastic American rock doesn’t get much better than this!  After all the hype, I’m now convinced.  Hydrogyn should be big and this release underlines it.  Stunning.

*****

Nick van der Meulen

Eldritch – Gaia’s Legacy (Scarlett Records)

Eldritch has been around for some time now, the Italian outfit producing progressive metal since the 90’s.  “Gaia’s Legacy” is the band’s eighth album, a concept on global warming based on Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”.

The album starts off solidly, with solid hooks and melodic vocals, but things get a bit busy with excessive percussion and progression, taking away listening pleasure.  This, along with plenty of “radio commentary”, makes it more difficult to absorb the concept of the album.

What was a promising release peters out with the busyness of the instruments, which is a shame.

***

Nick van der Meulen

Sun Gods In Exile “Thanks For The Silver” (Small Stone)

>Portland based Sun Gods In Exile may not look like your average Southern rock band but their sound is right bang in there between Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Black Crowes. New album “Thanks for The Silver” is the bands second and as with their debut (“Black Light, White Lines”) mixes Southern and classic rock to fine effect.

Opening track “Hammer Down” may be AC/DC infused but tracks like “Writings On The Wall”, “Climb Down” and the album’s title track, ballad “Thanks For The Silver” should all be enough to fill the hole left by the recent hiatus undertaken by The Black Crowes, the slide guitar on the latter is some of the best you will hear all year.

Album closer “I Buried My Bitch’s Car” is the kind of 6 and a half minute jam track that The Four Horsemen did so well, whilst “Smoke & Fire” locks into a groove and sits on it. “Broken Bones” and “Nobody Knows” are also well worth a listen.

If you like bands like Rival Sons, The Black Crowes, The Four Horsemen and Lynyrd Skynyrd, then you will definitely enjoy Sun Gods In Exile.

****
Nikk Gunns


Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
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Each week David Randall presents ‘New to GRTR!’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, with the emphasis on independent artists and labels. During December he replays favourite tracks including power plays featured during the year. This show covers the period January-March and was first broadcast on 1 December 2019.

Power Plays w/c 25 November (Mon-Fri)

Throughout December we are featuring Best of 2019 selections from the GRTR! Reviewers.

Featured Albums w/c 25 November (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 Melodic Rock Featured Albums of 2019
12:00-13:00 Melodic Hard Rock Featured Albums of 2019
14:00-16:00 Singer Songwriter Featured Albums of 2019

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

A selection of albums featured in 2019



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