Century Media [Release date 18.03.16]
With so many bands taking the 1970s as their inspiration, it has become a crowded marketplace. The worst case scenario is when the listener feels it is simply easier to go back to source. But, the best examples doff their collective caps to influential artists whilst fashioning something that provides a new twist or sounds remarkably relevant.
Michael Amott is perhaps best known for his extreme metal leanings via Carcass and Arch Enemy but for the past decade he has been ploughing a rich, and more mainstream, furrow. Together with Apostolos “Apollo” Papathanasio (vocals) – who has worked with Firewind – Amott’s colleague in Arch Enemy Sharlee D’Angelo (bass), and Ludwig Witt (drums).
Their latest offering, following 2013′s ‘Earth Blues’, is a glorious evocation of Deep Purple and possibly the best album they never made. With lashings of Hammond organ (Per Wiberg, ex-Opeth), great griffy riffs and a fine vocal performance throughout this has to be the band’s most consistent offering.
Of course all the influences are present and correct and at times ‘Sunrise To Sundown’ sounds also like the best new album that Europe never made. It is perhaps no coincidence that in parts this does sound like their Swedish compatriots with the vocals also sometimes evoking Joey Tempest (for example, ‘Hard Road’).
There’s not a duffer here from the opener title track. ‘Diamond Under Pressure’ has the DP swagger of ‘Woman From Tokyo’ whilst Amott’s best Ritchie licks are unleashed for ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’ at a pace that rivals ‘Fireball’. ‘Still Hunter’ is another three minute burst of riff-driven splendour and ‘No Man’s Land’ allows the band to stretch further and is an album standout along with the psych-tinged ‘Lonely Freedom’.
Collectors should note that there is a 2 disc limited edition with seven bonus tracks.
The band are often dubbed “stoner rock” and there are certainly elements but ‘Sunrise To Sundown’ will appeal to all those who crave Hammond-infused heavy rock, a glorious genre that maybe is not being delivered now by the most obvious candidates or in a diluted or unpleasantly plagarised form. This is simply, glorious. *****
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
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