Quick plays: SHADOW OF ACOLYTE, TERMINAL DEGREE, MALLET

Shadow Of Acolyte

www.facebook.com/shadowofacolyte [Release date 30.09.13]

It’s always interesting to receive stuff by a young English hard rock band that you’ve never heard of.  Formed in 2008, Shadow Of Acolyte hail from the East Midlands and is essentially Aaron Gidney (guitar and bass) and Dave Hitchcock (drums) with Clive Davenport who seems to have been co-opted late in the day to provide vocals.

It’s a spirited venture where the guys wear their influences freely – citing Maiden, Diamond Head, and Rush amongst others.  Sadly they are not up there yet.  Much of this is down to the lo-fi production and fairly rudimentary writing (and playing).

There is potential, though, and the band bravely put two instrumentals for starters and there is a somewhat ambitious arrangement on ‘Successful Failure’ (Let’s hear it for Hazel Hudson and the choir of St John Baptist Church in Hugglescote).  Davenport is at his best (and the band in general) on the slower piece ‘Accordance And Ascension’ but the atmospheric core is spoilt by the Magnum-esque riff rip-off.  (Before you ask, it’s ‘The Flood’).

At the moment the band is little more than one you might find at the back of a pub (playing not drinking, you understand, to a small coterie of faithful followers).  But if you factor in adequate but hardly striking vocals from Davenport, a lot of work is needed.  With a powerful bass, ramped up multi-tracked guitars, and greater attention to the vocals Shadow Of Acolyte may yet tread in the steps of their heroes,  a little closer behind than before.  **1/2

Review by David Randall

Terminal Degree

TERMINAL DEGREE The Middle Of Nowhen (Voices of Reason Music)

The opening ‘Resisting A Rest’ is quite, er, arresting and immediately sucks the listener in to a jazz/rock fusion tour de force.  Led by Stanley Chepaitis’ wonderful violin playing, the trio’s instrumental prowess is demonstrated elsewhere, on ‘Deep Phreeze’, ‘Fool To A King’ the immersive ‘Onward And Inward’, the wah-tinged ‘Whimsicle’ and the contagious ‘Psychodomy’.

Evidently these are three musos who operate out of American universities – for example Chepaitis is head of the string department at Indiana University – but whilst the music may be academically-focused it is all highly accessible.

The album will certainly appeal to lovers of violin-led rock: think of a frenetic Daryl Way with Curved Air or David Cross with King Crimson.  And we mustn’t forget Ed Alleyne; but there are no electronic loops here, just brilliantly executed, purposeful, organic music.  Yes, there could have been complementary keyboards and an angry guitar to add some variety in texture, and maybe some slower pace at times, but we can forgive them that as it is so very well played.

Throughout I was also reminded of the sort of thing Anna Phoebe did on her solo albums (and with Trans-Siberian Orchestra) although this isn’t metal.  Stanley, Nathan and Mike may not look as sexy as that violining vixen but, my God, they know how to rock.  And without some humungous guitar power chords that’s some achievement.  ****

Review by David Randall

MALLET Quarter To Freedom (Baze Records)

We are informed that this band have been together over 30 years and there is a certain confident swagger to their tenth album which they call “The Classic Rock Radio Show”. Starting with ‘Rock Beat’ with its Creedence-Clearwater-John Fogerty vibe, the German trio are competent if unoriginal. At times they are redolent of Foghat and Mountain whilst never ascending those bands’ respective heights.

Their CV gives the game away and for the past few decades they seem to have supplied solid support to any number of first division bands whilst evidently remaining under the radar as far as their own music is concerned.  Mallet’s good stuff is good but in the main it’s all a bit underwhelming.

That’s not to say there aren’t a few highlights here, including the excellent ‘Flying’ and the ballads ‘Sail Away’ and ‘My Hero’.  ***

Review by David Randall

CHRISTIAN CULAK Essence

I always approach these albums – where the artist plays all instruments – with a bit of trepidation.  They are invariably over-indulgent, immature, and – frankly – boring.  Most need a damn good producer.

Does Culak break the mould?  Well, inevitably this instrumental album flits between out and out metallic bombast and more ambient pieces.  Culak’s first instrument is guitar and when he isn’t noodling ambiently he’s noodling aggressively with a rather unappealing tone.  It’s not an unpleasant listen – and there are some good ideas here – but it’s not an album that is in any way addictive either.  ***

Review by David Randall

KEVIN SIMNACHER Window Of Opportunity

This is yet another home-spun production although it has to be said a cut above average.  The main minus point is Simnacher’s weak and ultimately irritating vocals, which is a shame as on a song like ‘Take Me Back’ there is some nice support from Kristena Kramer.  Amazingly, one of the stronger “tunes” – ‘Johnnie’ – receives a God-awful cod-Johnny Cash vocal.  What the hell is going on there?

The soft-rock songs – with somewhat trite lyrics – do seem at times to be merely a vehicle for Simnacher’s guitar solos (as on the more energetic ‘Air, Fire, Water’) and he receives assistance from Mark Pence and John Reardanz (bass).

There are some adventurous sound textures employed but as with many a first solo project it’s not quite clear what is the direction of travel, although the unifying features remain – sadly – the lightweight vocals and an album that is inoffensive but never ever inspirational.  ***

Review by David Randall

PINK CIGAR – We’re Gonna Get You Out Of Here

www.pinkcigarmusic.com

New young band hailing from London’s Ladbroke Grove and sounding like they were born and raised in the 70’s at the height of glam and punk. Prior to this their debut album they have released an EP and earned rave reviews from the likes of ‘Big Cheese’ magazine.

Vocalist Sharkie Cottrell certainly has a decent set of pipes on him, be it cranking those screaming vocals on opener ‘Generation Next’ or the very Hanoi Rocks sounding ‘Skin Of Your Teeth’. The rock ‘n’ roll beat of ‘London Town Blues’ is great fun and ‘Dreaming Of Love’ wouldn’t sound out of place on a Backyard Babies album. Some seriously good guitar playing on this song.

There are a lot of talented young bands out there and Pink Cigar certainly have the songs and talent to lead the pack.

***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

DIGNITY – Balance Of Power

Fastball

Second album from this Austrian power metal band and it’s not bad at all. The vocals of Soren Adamsen certainly grab the listener from the off, he has a very raw and powerful vocal. The other star of the show is the frantic keyboard runs of Frank Pitters (who writes the majority of the music with the lyrics from Adamsen and Pitters in the main).

There are some belters on here from the heavy riffing and choral vocals on the chorus of ‘Rise’ through to ‘Save Me’, a fast paced power metal beast. ‘Freedom Reign’ sees Threshold’s Karl Groom add a few guitar solos along with Paul Wardingham. They even do a good version of the Scorpions ‘Blackout’ and Adamsen is a deadringer vocally for Klaus Meine!

Good, solid and enjoyable melodic power metal and based on this evidence they will keep on impressing in the future.

***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

TEITUR – Story Music

The Faroe Islands may not be the first place you think of for music but Teitur Lassen could change that perception with this gentle musical journey.

‘Hopeful’ starts things off very gently indeed, although the next song ‘If You Wait’ with its stop/start can grate a little with the listener. ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Band’ is not a plugged in boogie fest as the title suggests as it includes flutes and banjos, and the lyric is a wry dig at some bands. I love the line ‘They couldn’t write a song to save their lives’.

Van Dyke Parks lends his orchestral experience and skills to the blissful ‘It’s Not Funny Anymore’ and ‘Indie Girl’ is another great lyrical treat, this time we have ‘Instead of Jon Bon Jovi she gave them David Bowie’.

Subdued and classy pop tunes, worth a listen.

***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

GUNDACKER PROJECT – Plug Me In

www.gundackerproject.com

Formed around guitarist Dave Gundacker, who played in various local glam metal bands in the 1980’s, the Gundacker Project sounds like a long lost 80’s melodic hard rock album. Think Firehouse, Poison, Danger Danger and lesser lights like Britny Fox.

Vocalist Timothy J Bednarz has just the right amount of party feeling in his voice, ‘Plug Me In’ being a good example. Bit of an AOR fest on ‘Magazine’, loving the keys riff on the chorus. Few songs fail to hit the mark, although nothing has you reaching for the ‘skip’ button.

They even sneak in a cover of cult pomp rockers New England with their song ‘Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya’.

It’s nothing new but it is a fun listen and the album features some lovely riffing action.

***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie


Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.

Power Plays w/c 10 June (Mon-Fri)

TAKE TODAY Lifeline (indie)
CRAZY LIXX Silent Thunder (Frontiers)
HAZY DAYS New Beginnings (indie)
MYRATH Wicked Dice (earMUSIC)
HOLLIS BROWN Do Me Right (Cool Green Recordings/Mascot)

Featured Albums w/c 10 June (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 NITRATE Open Wide (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 CRAZY LIXX Forever Wild (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 DANNY VAUGHN Myths, Legends & Lies (Townsend Music)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

VOODOO HILL Waterfall (2015)



Email This Page
This entry was posted in ALBUM REVIEWS, ALBUM REVIEWS (Mobile), All Posts, Quick Plays and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply