Quick plays: IAN TOOMEY, DATURA4, DAVID COURTNEY, SKINAGE

IAN TOOMEY – Ascension

Metal Nation [Released 04.09.15]

Ian Toomey is the guitarist in Bitches Sin, a band that formed way back in 1980 and reunited back in 2008. This is his solo album, aided by legendary producer Chris Tsangarides, who was gravely ill last year and delayed this album. Luckily Chris Tsangarides is fully recovered and as well as producing this album, plays guitars and keyboards.

As you’d expect from a guitarists solo album the guitar often takes centre stage and there are some cracking solos on here, take a listen to ‘Almost And Always’ for proof. The excellent single ‘Never Alone’ is an album highlight, where the vocals of David A. Mills and the sound of the song remind me of classic Demon. Fellow Bitches Sin guitarist Pete Toomey guests on one song as well.

This is good, solid British hard rock/metal and lovers of Bitches Sin and the NWOBHM era will enjoy this one. ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

DATURA4 – Demon Blues

There’s something in the water down in Fremantle, Western Australia. What are the odds of hearing, not one, but two cracking debut albums in the space of 18 months, both from bands resident in Bon Scott’s birthplace ?…….Ah wait, maybe that’s the key. Having reviewed the excellent 2014 album “Get Yet Rabbit’s Foot and Run” by One Thousand Years, I recently came across Datura4 and their hot-shit and glorious virgin release, Demon Blues.

Lots going on with this album but it is cohesive, consistent and very, very listenable to. I keep hearing and reading that the album is dead and that people only download selected songs…for sure, your average music consumer today has a very short-attention span and is bombarded by content in the fragmented world we live in but the fact is that, very often, an album is patchy with highs and lows and lots of filler.

Not so with Demon Blues which grabs you early doors with the impossibly catchy “Out With The Tide” and doesn’t let up. Simplicity is a prevalent thread throughout this album but this is to the album’s credit, not detriment. Whether your bag is spacey blues or non-gloomy (White ?) Sabbathy riffs, Datura4 has produced a very delicious piece of work. The band name may sound like the moniker for a wrongly-imprisoned group of ne’er do-wells, preaching their innocence to the public but I’m assured Datura is a poisonous strain of flowering plant with possible aphrodisiac qualities (suspect you might have to smoke it to get the latter effect).

Whether dubious consumption choices played a part the creation of this album is for someone else to say. Exhibit One for the prosecution, however, would have to be “Another Planet” a psychedelically pleasant surprise, almost in a CSN meets the Beach Boys kind of way but don’t let that put you off – it completely fits the album, in all its “travelling around the solar system in silver ships” glory…..the case rests !

Possibly born fifty years too late, Datura4 would have been a natural addition for Zeppelin’s own Swan Song label, combining qualified blues chops with just the right amount of stoner sludginess. “Hoonsville” wouldn’t be out of place in a Joe Bonamassa set whilst title track, Demon Blues, just drips riffage, like ZZ Top doing Schools Out – brilliant stuff.

“Pissing Up The Wall”, with its economic use of slide guitar and “Killjoy” featuring its almost Lizzy-like twin axe attack, tell tales of lost opportunity and women that suck the life out of you, respectively….so that shit happens in Fremantle too, huh ? “Gravedigger Man” has that nice California ’70s jangle to its verse but then glides smoothly into a nice meaty chorus.

You’d have to hope someone pulls these guys out of what I presume is a fairly narrow market in Australia and bring them to the U.S. or Europe where they would surely have massive appeal.

This album gets a strong 4 out of 5 – a very confident and enjoyable debut offering…..there’s nothing wrong with having set the bar high for that “difficult second album” and that would be my only downside comment on this album – it’s going to make following it with the second one a tad tricky. As the Aussie’s would say – a real beauty. ****

Review by Mark “Mad Dog” Shaw

DAVID COURTNEY – Anthology

Angel Air Records www.angelair.co.uk [Released 02.09.15]

David Courtney is a Grammy award winning songwriter and producer, who amongst his many successes unearthed Leo Sayer. The music is a mixed bag with the 80′s pop pap of Dollar rubbing shoulders with Ritchie Blackmore, who guests on the Adam Faith song ‘I Survived’. Dave Gilmour is also present, playing on ‘When Your Life Is Your Own’ by David Courtney. Plenty of Leo Sayer’s hits are featured, along with songs from Roger Daltrey’s solo albums.

Worth a listen given the major artists he has written and produced for, however maybe not for all. ***

Review by Jason Ritchie

SKINAGE – Tyrants

EP’s are one of those things that even when I love them, I hate them. I hate them because there is typically very few songs on them, which if the band isn’t good then I guess it’s a good thing, but if it’s a band I love, it just pisses me off and leaves me wanting more. When it happens to be an aggressive band that I love, it pisses me off even more because the brutality makes me want to break stuff AND there aren’t enough songs on it. This is what I encountered with the new Skinkage EP Tyrants.
Skinkage have been doing their thing since 2005, and I have managed to catch them live a few times over the years thanks to them being a local band.

The first time I heard them they were OK, but didn’t make a big impression on me. Each time I saw them they got better and better and truly won me over with the aggression and in your face songs. I caught them on their EP release party recently, and grabbed Tyrants. The show was absolutely amazing, and the new tracks fit perfectly into their set list, and in some cases stood out from them, which is precisely what a band wants to do with their new material.

From the start, “Anthem To An Uprise” sets the tempo and mood of the album, with its full-on assault. I have always thought of them as a super aggressive thrash band, but with this EP they’re teetering in to the technical Death scene, while still having that thrash vibe. Combining the two styles is absolutely brilliant, and it seems that they gel even better on the new tracks. “Hollow Words” and “No Allegiance” keep that heavy feel going with the amazing Frank Brown’s intense voice, the power riffs of guitarists Travis Stiwalt and David Phillips, the thunderous bass of Juston Green, and the brilliant drums of Chris Peavey. You catch your breath a little with the beautiful instrumental “Sands of Time,” then return to the brutal finale of “Of Wolves.”

This is a short listen, but what is contained within is some of hardest metal coming out of NC. It’s time for their name to be out there in the world, on a grander scale. They have a couple older albums out as well, and I highly encourage that if you love extreme metal, Skinkage is a band you need in your collection. If Tyrants is any indication of what the future holds for these men, metal fans have nothing to worry about. Checks out how we metal heads do it down here in the South. You won’t be disappointed. *****

Review by Chris Martin


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



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