Quick Review: “The Crucible” by Motorpsycho

This time, I started listening to the new album by Motorpsycho with particular trepidation. Next May the band is visiting my city next and their latest material will be presumably the core of their concert. But indepently from this specific and personal reason, the fact that there is on the shelves a new LP from Motorpsycho is, by itself, an event. The three guys from Trondheim have in fact achieved the status of legends of rock and every new album is always unpredictable and full of surprises. Their discography is long and articulated, and across their career, the band moved through different phases and also relatively different musical styles, including progressive, hard rock, psychedelia, and also heavy metal.

At the end of 2017 the band amazed us with The Tower, a great album which proved to fans and critics how much they still like playing loud and psychedelic rock and roll. In this respect, the entry of a new drummer proved to be a revitalizing element for the band. Today, one year and a half after The Tower, Motorpsycho are back with a new LP called The Crucible. And in absolute continuity with their tradition, we are in front of a new stage in their evolutionary journey through rock music. All of those who were expecting something like The Tower are faced with something completely different: an old-fashioned rock opera with only three long songs totalling 40 minutes of impressive and trippy music.


Before entering into the discussion about the quality of their new songs, let me point out how this approach is completely against the business model we see in contemporary music. Given their lenght, it’s very hard to imagine the songs of The Crucible being included within the most successful rock playlists that we can access from Spotify or other similar services that are available on the web. But as it always happened with Motorpsycho, these guys don’t care about trends or mainstream success: every new record contains what they wanted to play in that specific moment, and that’s all. For this LP, their muse commanded them to write three epic pieces full of heavy riffs, endless solos and innumerable changes of atmosphere. Take it or leave it, this is Motorpsycho and they set the rules.

Musically speaking, the three songs of The Crucible are relatively different one from the other. The first one (Psychotzar) is the more accessible of the three and we can find inside it, all merged together, many of the elements that characterized their recent productions. It’s basically psychorock but with very engaging and powerful guitar riffs, on top of which we may enjoy lots of intriguing solos. The second piece (Lux Aeterna) starts softly and atmospherical, with an incipit that reminded me of the sound of Trust Us, which is still one my favourite albums in their discography. After four minutes, however, the songs commences to deviate into psychic madness and the central part of the song, to be honest, is very hard to digest even after many listenings. The last song (The Crucible) is also the longest of the LP with 20 minutes of duration. The track is basically the combination of what we heard in the first two pieces: catchy and headbanging riffs, sections of pure psychedelia, a few moments of dreamy atmospheres, and engaging choruses.


Considered globally, the LP is absolutely rich of many interesting things, even if it’s not always easy to follow with the same attention all the evolutions that come one after the other in every song. The experience of going through The Crucible may be a bit dizzying, it’s a roller coaster of passages and sounds but without the usual points of references that we expect from a rock song. A fairly demanding listening, which can be however extremely rewarding for the lovers of old-school progressive rock.

Taking into acount all the pro’s and cons’, my overall rating for the album is 7/10. My favourite songs is the opening track of the LP: Psychotzar.

The Crucible can be streamed from Spotify.


For those who already like their music, or for those who want to have a better understanding of the good things they’ve done in their impressive career, I’ve made a special playlist called ANGELS AND DAEMONS, with my selection of their best pieces. Check it out!


Best New Music: “John Garcia and the Band of Gold” by John Garcia

The beginning of 2019 has been particularly generous for the fans of stoner music: we have just received, just like a late Christmas present, the new album from one of the most important, influential and acclaimed figures of the stoner scene. I’m referring to John Garcia, the voice of the desert, the American vocalist and songwriter who has illuminated with his shining talent the world of stoner in the last thirty years.

John Garcia’s musical career has been marked by many important phases: he founded the legendary band Kyuss and after that experience he contributed to many other formations such as Unida, Slo Burn, Hermano and Vista Chino.

John Garcia performing live with Kyuss in 1995. You can see in the picture the band’s guitarist Josh Homme, who later founded the rock band Queens of the Stone Age.

Approximately five years ago, the singer from Arizona started a solo career which has already seen the release of three studio records: 2014’s self-titled LP John Garcia, 2017’s The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (where Garcia presented in a totally acoustic arrangement a bunch of new tracks and some of Kyuss’ legendary songs) and, finally, this year’s John Garcia And The Band Of Gold.

John Garcia’s third and latest LP: “John Garcia and the Band of Gold”

As soon as I started listening to the new record I immediately realized that this wasn’t just John Garcia’s latest LP. This album, in fact, could likely represent a turning point in the career of the American musician. John Garcia And The Band Of Gold shows a tangible shift towards hard rock and southern sounds and, in this respect, the album represents a relative departure from the classical “stoner metal” of Garcia’s previous releases. John Garcia And The Band Of Gold is therefore one of those records that you have to listen and enjoy without making continuous comparisons with the artist’s previous discography. Let me be more precise: if the operation of evaluating this new album in the overarching context of Garcia’s career is absolutely normal, especially for long-term fans (as I am), I believe that expecting from each new song written by Garcia to be the new Gardenia is wrong, and it doesn’t make any justice to the phisiological evolution of Garcia’s music, and the evolutionary process that he has undertaken in the last few years. I repeat: this has nothing to do with the overall appreciation of the new album, for which everyone is free to say whatever he wants. This is rather my humble recommendation: to approach the new LP by taking into account that, in its essence, this is basically a record of contemporary hard rock with stoner influences. And it’s no coincidence, therefore, that the part of the album that’s closer to classic stoner is the final one, in which the band reinterprets in an “electric” way the unpublished songs that were initially presented in Garcia’s fully acoustic LP The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues.

John Garcia today.

Once made the necessary recommendations, let’s now focus on the new material released by our beloved singer. The first thing to say about John Garcia And The Band Of Gold is that the record is incredibly fresh, bright and also fun. There are many positive elements about Garcia’s new effort, but the thing that impressed me since the beginning has been the stylistic coherence of the LP. The album has a compactness out of the ordinary and it emanates a sense of confidence that honestly we couldn’t find when Garcia started his solo career. Compared to the music contained in 2014’s Garcia’s debut as leader, the artist today seems to have calibrated much better his style and he’s in condition to offer a collection of songs that go straight and without any hesitation along the road he has now chosen to follow for his music. There are no drops of tension, no dramatic changes of atmosphere, nor even the usual alternation of ballads and heavy pieces that we’ve listened in Garcia’s debut. The new record is like a car that runs fast along the straight and hot roads of Arizona (I’ve never been in that part of the US, but this is how I imagine the roads there). Clearly there is the risk that in the long run the LP could suffer for a relative lack of internal dynamics, but at least in this first phase of listening the compactness of the songs seems to prevails over everything else, and it makes the album absolutely exciting and enjoyable to listen to.


The majority of the tracks of the LP are characterized by simple but extremely appealing riffs, which result at the same time accessible and engaging. The album is immediate and ready to be assimilated already from the first listenings, but it doesn’t lose brilliance even after several runs in the stereo. For sure Garcia and his loyal bandmates (who are basically the same musicians that gravitated around him in the last few years) know very well how to win the hearts of the fans, and they do it on every new album. As a matter of fact, there are artists that have the capacity to write riffs and choruses that stick into the listener’s memory just from the first times you listen to them, and John Garcia is one of those. A few songs, in particular, have all the credentials to become new classics in his vast discography and they have also the potential to excite the audiences of the singer’s future live shows.


If I had to highlight a negative aspect of the record, I would have expected something more for the vocal part. John Garcia has one of the most beautiful and recognizable voices of rock and listening to him while he sings is always one of the most rewarding experiences for a stoner enthusiast (I have seen him live three times, and I can say that in the recent years, under this point of view, he is really in great shape). Nevertheless, in this last record I feel like Garcia has put on show all of his usual repertoire, which is really much stuff, but without ever surprising us with something unique and new.


In conclusion: John Garcia and the Band of Gold is another precious entry within the discography of one of the greatest musicians of all times, and not only within the stoner scene. It provides many elements of innovation to keep alive the interest of the long-term fans of the artists, and for the same reason presumably he will disappoint a few of them. The direction of Garcia’s music as band leader is now clear and his performance as singer is solid and brilliant, despite I would have preferred something new also on this aspect. Finally, the songs of the new album have a level of accessibility and immediacy that make the LP as a good entry point even for those who aren’t familiar with the previous production from Garcia.

If I should express my rating, I would say 8/10.

The album can be streamed from Bandcamp and Spotify.

My favorite songs: Chicken Delight, Apache Junction, Jim’s Whiskers, Popcorn, Don’t Even Think About It and the opening instrumental track Space Vato.



Songs from the album John Garcia and the Band of Gold are featured in DUST AND SAND and THE DELICATE SOUND OF THUNDER, the two playlist I’m curating on Spotify with the best of new stoner music. Listen, follow and spread the word!



Quick Review: “Hear the Rivers” by Greenleaf

Greenleaf represent the umpteenth testimony of the existence of a mysterious gene that many decades ago spread in the countries of Northern Europe and that has allowed the people of these cold lands to develop an innate and incredible talent for rock music. The band created by Dozer‘s guitarist Tommi Holappa belongs in fact to that large group of talented formations from Scandinavia that have gained attention of fans and critics for good and catchy rock, spanning from the punk of Turbonegro up to the black’n’roll of Kvelertak. In a panorama that’s so rich and varied, Greenleaf have conquered a prominent place among the best representatives of Swedish stoner rock and the band consolidated through the years a special recipe of music that is spontaneous and lighthearted but always enjoyable and fascinating.

Greenleaf’s last release, named Hear the Rivers, is the seventh LP in their career and shows that these rockers, on the eve of twenty years of activity, didn’t lose the spirit and the joy of playing that was always one of the most relevant characteristics of the band.

 

 

I say “band”, but never as in this case I should treat it as a “musical project” given the fact that because of the many changes in the line-up, today Holappa is the only member of Greenleaf that played on all the seven LPs, and the only remaining member of the initial formation. By the way, regardless of how we want to tag it, what’s sure is that Greenleaf’s music has always represented a breath of fresh air in a scene that has seen too many bands lose the spontaneity and immediacy that one would expect from stoner rock. Hear the rivers confirms once again that there are still many catchy riffs to be played and many melodies to be invented by simply remaining in the perimeter of classic rock. When you launch this record on your stereo, don’t look for astonishing innovations or genre-bending sperimentations. What you’ll get here is a collection of solid stoner songs, with a genuine “rock” feeling that’s the result of good vibes, passion and an honest and clean production in the recording studio, without too many tricks or artificial embellishments.

 

 

The album flows fluid and energetic between a few songs that are destined to become new classics of the band (We Are the Pawns and Let It Out, just to mention a few) and other tracks that are maybe slightly less exciting but still absolutely enjoyable to listen. Heavy riffs, intriguing solos, incessant drums, solid bass lines and nice lyrics compose a musical offer that’s powerful and engaging as it’s accessible and catchy. That’s music which has the capacity to satisfy the longterm fans of stoner but also good for everyone approaching this genre of rock for the first time.

Hear the Rivers can be streamed from Spotify.

Standout tracks: We Are the Pawns, Let It Out, The Rumble and the Weight, and High Fever.

 


 

Greenleaf are featured in DUST AND SAND, the playlist with the best of new stoner rock and stoner metal. Check it out!


 

THE FIVE BEST ALTERNATIVE ROCK ALBUMS OF 2018 (so far)

It’s really surprising  how from one year to the next the situation for a particular kind of music can change so radically. In 2017 we had so many quality publications for alternative rock that every few months I found myself in the need to update the lists and the charts. In 2018, conversely, this kind of music has somehow struggled to produce quality material and in order to get to a handful of good records to review we have practically arrived at the bottom of the year.

Let’s see then which are the five best alternative rock album of the year, and who knows, at this point, if there will be changes from here to December.

Last, but not least, don’t forget to listen and follow the playlist ALT ROCK ARENA, it’s where you can find all the newest and best alternative rock songs as soon as they are released. The widget to access the playlist is provided at the end of the article. Enjoy!

 


 

#1) Tonight Alive, “Underworld”

 

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Tonight Alive is an Australian rock band from Sydney, Australia. As of 2018, the band consists of lead vocalist Jenna McDougall, guitarist Jake Hardy, bassist Cameron Adler and drummer Matt Best. In January 2018 Tonight Alive have releases their fourth LP, “Underworld”

Remained only four members after that guitarist Whakaio Taahi quit on last October, the Australians alternative rockers Tonight Alive came back to the studio to compose and publish a new LP, Underworld, which follows the three previous good albums that the band from Sidney released since their formation, ten years ago. And despite it was published at the very beginning of the year, Underworld still remains today the best alternative rock album of 2018.

The music played by Tonight Alive demonstrates that it’s absolutely possible to play a simple and catchy rock, but at the same time exciting and interesting. The songs of Underworld are in fact clearly oriented to mainstream radio and big audiences, but without necessarily having to compromise the quality of the songs.

From a musical point of view, the style of Tonight Alive has been often compared to American pop-rock band Paramore, although with their latest works the Australian band is trying, and somehow succeeding, to develop their own and unique sound, as for example it is evident from the relvant use of the electronic inserts, which have an important role in the development of Tonight Alive’s songs.

Underworld can be streamed from Spotify.

Highlights: Crack My Heart, Disappear and Book of Love.


 

#2) Therapy?, “Cleave”

 

Therapy 1300
Therapy? are an alternative rock band from Northern Ireland. The band has released 15 full-length studio albums and have sold over two million albums worldwide. Bassist Michael McKeegan and guitarist and singer Andy Cairns are two of the original members of the band, while drummer Neil Cooper joined Therapy? in 2002.

Therapy?, from Northern Ireland, will celebrate next year the milestone of thirty years of activity, and in preparation of this event they’ve released in 2018 a brand new record, Cleave, which is the fifteenth studio album of their extensive discography.

Everytime I find myself in front of a new album from one of the bands which played the soundtrack of my teenager phase, my reactions are mixed. On one hand there is evidently the curiosity to discover which road has been taken by the band and also the expectations to feel once again the same emotions that these musicians gave me when I was “young”. On the other hand there is the unavoidable skepticism due to the fact that the world of metal and rock have changed dramatically compared to the 90s and these historical bands face physiological difficulties when they try to be still significant and influential in modern days.

The experience of going through the 32 minutes of Cleave has substantially confirmed  the positive expectations I had on the LP, but it has also reinforced some of my concerns. The balance, anyhow, is positive.

Among the good elements, Therapy? still confirm their “anarchist” approach towards the idea of adhering to a single pre-established genre of music. Exactly as they have always done, their style is difficult to catalog under a single label and their songs continue to be too heavy to be tagged as “rock”, but at the same too light to be considered “metal”. In this middle ground the three North Irish rockers have always produced their most beautiful works, and this is exactly where they still like to play in modern times.

Another aspect that I appreciate in Cleave is the frequent recourse to that fantastic style of riffing where powerful guitar chords are combined with clean and “funky” bass lines, something which emerged in the early 90s and that characterized some of the best albums of that time (you can think of the songs form Prong’s Prove you Wrong, to get a better idea).

On the negative side, Cleave maybe lacks of a memorable and particularly catchy song, and this could  preclude these guys to get the attention of the new generations of listeners.

Therapy?’s new LP can be streamed from Spotify.

Highlights: KakistocracySuccess? Success Is Survival and Dumbdown.


 

#3) The Dirty Nil, “Master Volume”

 

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The Dirty Nil are a Canadian alternative rock band from Hamilton, Ontario. The band consists of singer and guitarist Luke Bentham, bassist Ross Miller and drummer Kyle Fisher

The activity in the recording studio of Canadian alternative rock band The Dirty Nil has been at least curious. Formed in 2006, the band waited almost ten years before publishing their debut LP (2016’s Higher Power) but since then, they have practically released a new record every year. After the 2017’s album Minimum R&B and a bunch of singles, The Dirty Nil have now published in 2018 their third and latest full-lenght record, Master Volume.

Listening to their new record one understands that the prolificity in writing and releasing their albums is is strongly connected with a sense of urgency and immediacy that emerges from their songs. And it’s no coincidence, therefore, that the three guys from Ontario have decided to speak the language of a genuine, straightforward and high-voltage rock and roll. We’re light years away from that conceptual and sophisticated version of modern rock that many bands of their same age are proposing in these days, sometimes with greater success.

Although catalogable in the vast family of alternative rock, Master Volume is basically a a concentration of different influences: from hard rock to punk, with the common denominator given by slashing guitars, screams, abominable volumes, distortions.  Master Volume is an impetuous album that reaches the most interesting points when the band unleashes all the current of powerful rock which comes out from their instruments. The experience of listening to the whole record is less satisfying than the selection of its best tracks, and perhaps this is the point where the band could focus their efforts for the future.

Master Volume is available on Bandcamp can be streamed from Spotify.

Highlights: Hit the Lights (Metallica’s cover), Smoking is Magic, and Please Please Me.


 

#4) Senses Fail, “If There Is Light, It Will Find You”

 

senses fail 1300
Senses Fail is an American post-hardcore band that formed in Ridgewood, New Jersey in 2002. The band has seen many lineup changes, with vocalist James “Buddy” Nielsen being the only consistent member. The band has released so far seven studio albums.

American Post-Hardcore band Senses Fail arrives with their new album If There Is Light, It Will Find You to the seventh full-lenght album of their discography, but the new release sees the line-up of the band profoundly changed compared to their previous works.

Basically today the band features only one member of the original formation, the singer James “Buddy” Nielsen. Despite the frequent changes in the line-up, however, in their seventeen years of career the band has got a good recognition as one of the forerunners of the Emo movement, and they demonstrated also the willingness to experiment and explore different genres of rock. In their last album the band is clearly aiming at punk and alternative rock as new elements of inspiration. And the result is definitely good.

All of the songs of If There Is Light, It Will Find You are quite intense and, in most of the cases, gifted by strong and emotive lyrics. What’s missing, maybe, is a sudden spark of creativity, or a particularly captivating track which could project them beyond the standard circle of their fans.

The album is available for streaming on Spotify.

Highlights: Is It Gonna Be the Year? and First Breath, Last Breath


 

#5) Hoobastank, “Push Pull”

 

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Hoobastank is an American rock band, formed in 1994 in California with lead singer Doug Robb, guitarist Dan Estrin, drummer Chris Hesse, and original bassist Markku Lappalainen (now substituted by Jesse Charland). They have released 7 studio album and sold 10 million albums worldwide.

It is not easy to travel the agitated currents of rock and roll for almost twenty-five years and stay afloat. Hoobastank, from the hot lands of California, are among those who have made it. One of their secrets, probably, has been to keep manipulating their music with many different influences from other genres. In addition to that, they have also mamaged to refrain themselves from publishing an album just because some time had passed, deciding instead to work on a new project only when the inspiration and the mood were the right ones.

Push Pull, their new LP, is the sixth studio album of their discography and it interrupts a gap of six years from the previous release. The line-up is basically the same of the early years, with only the bassist Jesse Charland that was not among the original members of the band (this is his second studio record with Hoobastank, by the way). This stability in the formation allowed the guys from Californian to mature and evolve their style album after album, without having to spend energy and time just to find a new alchemy in the recording studio and for the live performances.

The result is clearly before our eyes. Whether you like or not the style of this band, it’s easy to see that their sound is still fresh, modern and spontaneous. There are many beautiful musical ideas in the songs of Push Pull, each one representing a different way of interpreting rock and roll, and that’s evidently the result of experimenting many different inputs and concepts, something that they had plenty of time to do in the six years that have passed since their previous album.

In many sections this album is probably the “lightest” of the five that have been described in this article, but the music is so enjoyable and intriguing that it really seems like a breath of fresh air in a room that has been closed for so many days.

Push Pull is available for streaming on Spotify.

Highlights: True Believer and Better Left Unsaid.


 

As anticipated, here’s the link to ALT ROCK ARENA, the playlist with all the best of new alternative rock. Listen to it, follow it and spread the word!

 


 

Quick Review: “Master Volume” by The Dirty Nil

The activity in the recording studio of Canadian alternative rock band The Dirty Nil has been at least curious. Formed in 2006, the band waited almost ten years before publishing their debut LP (2016’s Higher Power) but since then, they have practically released a new record every year. After the 2017’s album Minimum R&B and a bunch of singles, The Dirty Nil have now published in 2018 their third and latest full-lenght record, Master Volume.

Listening to their new record one understands that the prolificity in writing and releasing their albums is is strongly connected with a sense of urgency and immediacy that emerges from their songs. And it’s no coincidence, therefore, that the three guys from Ontario have decided to speak the language of a genuine, straightforward and high-voltage rock and roll. We’re light years away from that conceptual and sophisticated version of modern rock that many bands of their same age are proposing in these days, sometimes with greater success.

 

 

Although catalogable in the vast family of alternative rock, Master Volume is basically a a concentration of different influences: from hard rock to punk, with the common denominator given by slashing guitars, screams, abominable volumes, distortions. There are no caresses on the cheeks or pats on the shoulders, but powerful discharges of energy that want to hit you right in the face. Not by chance, the best songs of the LP are those where the rhythms are more frenetic (starting from the fantastic Please Please Me and arriving to the incredibly exciting cover of Hit The Lights by Metallica) while the slower pieces seem decidedly less significant and effective.

 

 

In summary: Master Volume is an impetuous album that reaches the most interesting points when the band unleashes all the current of powerful rock which comes out from their instruments. The experience of listening to the whole record is less satisfying than the selection of its best tracks, and perhaps this is the point where the band could focus their efforts for the future.

Master Volume is available on Bandcamp can be streamed from Spotify.

Highlights: Hit the Lights, Smoking is Magic, and Please Please Me.

 


 

Best New Music: ROCKNROLL MACHINE by Turbonegro

 

In recent years we have witnessed the clamorous explosion of the rock and metal scene in the Scandinavian countries, and today it seems something completely natural that among the best records that are coming out every year there are lots of bands from Sweden, Finland and Norway. Back in the 90’s, however, there was a really unique and exceptional case of a crazy group from Oslo which not only got the attention of fans and critics with a series of incredible albums, but in the end managed even to coin a new genre, the “deathpunk”. This band was Turbonegro, but as incredibly as their music was, their fame remained limited to the underground world of punk rock and metal, without reaching that universal celebrity that they would have deserved. Perhaps, however, given that process of sterilization of music that unfortunately happens to almost every group that achievee larger commercial success, to some extent we can even be grateful that Turbonegro mostly remained confined to the indie and underground worlds.

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Surely they were not facilitated by the excessive and extravagant image they gave to themselve, which was further amplified by the crazy titles which they gave to their albums, definitely far to be mainstream-friendly. At least in this single aspect, however, the guys from Norway must have made some progress and in fact today, instead of the various Ass Cobra or Hot Cars and Spent Contraceptives, their new album will be on the shelves with a much more moderate name of Rocknroll Machine.

The new disc of Turbonegro breaks a period of silence of about six years from the previous work, and I must admit that when I became aware of this new publication I had initially mixed reactions. It often happens with the bands that we loved spasmodically when we were teenagers that the news of a new release generates some concern of having to see them scraping the bottom of the barrel of musical inspiration, or rather to find them experimenting with the sounds and styles of modern rock, which they obviously are not accustomed with. But from the first moment that the new album was launched through the speakers of my music system, I realized that all my fears were totally unjustified. This is really one of the few bands that gives no attention to trends and fashions, and which carries on its particular vision of rock and roll without any additive or necessity to insert elements of “modernity”.

Leaving aside the chronicles of the various line-up changes that occurred in the recent years and focusing only on the musical aspect, their latest album seems to be split almost in half between a tribute to the classic hard rock of the AC DC and a second group of songs that result closer to that style of deathpunk that the Norwegians launched more than twenty years ago. In both cases we can definitely enjoy that special kind of catchy and straight-up rock that easily become addictive. And in the short time span of barely 40 minutes we find ourselves invested by the energy and the passion that shines through everything that Turbonegro decide to play. This is timeless rock and roll music, with no frills, easygoing and energetic. Just play it loudly and enjoy.

Rocknroll Machine is available for streaming since early February 2018, the physical LP will be available from March 2nd, 2018.


 

ROCK HARD, RIDE FREE – The Mixtape (Volume 1, February 2018)

 

ROCK HARD, RIDE FREE is the new series of mixtapes presenting the best and latest songs in Hard Rock. Songs are selected and mixed by Guerino.

Volume 1 of the Mixtape was published on February 2018 and features new songs by As They Come, Audrey Horne, Clincher, Mystic Prophecy, Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, Starcrawler, Trespass, Tricklebolt.

You’ll find below a few additional info on the bands featured in the current volume of the mixtape series.


AstheyCome-1280

As They Come, from Portugal, are a talented motorcycle rock band active since 2012. The songs of their debut full-lenght work, To The Road, are characterized by a quite easy approach to stoner rock, with direct and essential rhythms and texts, without too many conceptual frills. What you don’t miss in their songs, however, is the incredible load of adrenaline and energy that fills every second of the record. That’s a very interesting and surprising debut LP and this band is worth to be tracked in their next steps. As They Come contribute to the mixtape with the song Mind Fucked.


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Norwegian band Audrey Horne is one of those groups that have clearly established what their models are, what music they want to play, and they just continue to refine, improve and polish up their output. With their last LP, Blackout, they arrived to the remarkable result of six albums in thirtheen years of career, all of them dedicated to carrying forward the banner of their special style of hard rock. The music played by the band is deeply rooted into the legacy of the 70s and enriched with the insertion of melodic elements of heavy-metal derivation. As They Come contribute to the mixtape with the epic track This Is War, which has clear reminiscences of British Heavy Matal (the bass line could be really taken from an Iron Maiden’s song).


Clincher - 1300

Clincher is an Australian Rock band from Perth, whose fame has not yet crossed national borders but which periodically publishes honest and genuine music, without too many frills but with everytime with a few interesting tracks. This description applies perfectly to Habits Of The People, their latest album, which has a couple of particularly enjoyable songs to store in our music archives. Clincher contribute to the mixtape with the energic song Planes Ladder, which has maybe one of the most intriguing choruses of the entire compilation.


Mystic Prophecy - 1300

Mystic Prophecy is a metal band from Germany which was formed in 2000 and that over the years has lost one after the other all the original members of the band with the exception of singer Roberto Dimitri Liapakis. Their last album, Monuments Uncovered, presents a collection of funny covers of historical pop and rock songs – revisited in a hard rock – from which we extracted the funny Hot Stuff to be part of the mixtape.


PHIL-CAMPBELL-1300

Welsh rocker and former Motörhead guitarist Philip Campbell is one of those musicians who have lived with bread and rock since childhood, therefore we could’n expect any particular surprise from his solo debut album, The Age of Absurdity, particularly if we consider that in this record he was supported by a group of musicians who include many members of his own family. This band is contributing to the mixtape with the stoner-anthem Welcome To Hell.


Starcrawler - 1300

The self-titled debut album by Starcrawler already entered the prestigious club of the Best New Music and they are therefore contributing to the mixtape with a couple of songs: Train and Pussy Tower. This promising band of young rockers from California has attracted in very short time the attention of fans and critics, and they are considered by many as one of the new formations that could revitalize rock and roll in the future years.


Trespass - 1300

Born and established in the metal scene when the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal was the reference metal genre, Trespass had to go through various (and long) period of crisis along the 40 years that have passed since their formation. What we have today is the third reincarnation of the band, which sees two of the three orginal founders of the group (Dave Crawte and Mark Sutcliffe) supported by new traveling companions. Their last album, Footprints in the Rock, proposes a very nice blend of classic heavy metal and rock. The band contributes to the mixtape with the excellent song Prometheus.


Tricklebolt - 1300

Tricklebolt, from Netherlands, are deeply inspired by classic rock bands of the 70’s like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Rainbow, and Thin Lizzy. Last year these guys spent most of their time to refine, record and produce their debut and self-titled album. They’re opening the mixtape with the enjoyable and joyful song High Trees.


 

THE ROCK SHOCK: The Best of HARD ROCK and CLASSIC ROCK in 2018, Episode 1 (January 2018) feat. Starcrawler, Audrey Horne, Clincher, Walking Papers, Tricklebolt, and Mystic Prophecy.

It’s a bit curious how in a musical panorama that’s so rich of new styles and genres there are still many groups – some of the very young, actually – that devote their energies to pure and simple rock and roll. This phenomenon has been particularly evident in the first part of the year, which was particularly rich of good releases for classic rock and hard rock. Let’s find out in this article what have been the best albums published in the first part of 2018.

Before introducing the records and the artists, however, let’s do the usual recommendation: if you landed on this page from a search engine, please check that this one is effectively the latest update for rock’n’roll music. There may be in fact newer charts, in this case easily accessible in the rock section of the blog. This post illustrates the best releases in hard rock and classic rock related to the first twenty days of the year; we can certainly expect many other publications in the months to come.

Having said this, let’s enter the chart.


Number 1

STARCRAWLER (Self-Titled Album)

 

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Starcrawler, the promising new band of young rockers from California, was already at the center of our attention the moment we admitted their self-title debut album within our prestigious club of the Best New Music. This is a formation that in an extremely short time-span has attracted the attention of fans, critics and even a number of old glories of rock of the caliber of Ryan Adams and Elthon John who contributed to promote their music. Today these rockers are considered as those that could revitalize rock and roll, a label that in the past sometimes didn’t bring any luck to the groups that received it. Their record, however, is really nice and extremely interesting and if they won’t get lost and will manage not be overwhelmed by the success received at the debut stage, there are really many chances to see them excel in the years to come.


Number 2

BLACKOUT by Audrey Horne

 

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Norwegian band Audrey Horne is one of those groups that have clearly established what their models are, what music they want to play, and they just continue to refine, improve and polish up their output. With their last LP, Blackout, they arrived to the remarkable result of six albums in thirtheen years of career, all of them dedicated to carrying forward the banner of their special style of hard rock. The music played by the Audrey Horen is always deeply rooted into the legacy of the 70s and enriched with their particular sensibility for the insertion of melodic elements of heavy-metal derivation. On top of that, we find a brilliant and impressive quality of both recording and final production. The songs are generally enjoyable and extremely accessible, as is typical of this kind of music. The first few songs of the album, in particular, shine for the catchy riffs and the rock energy that they emit, and it’s easy to say that these are the best tracks of the whole work.


Number 3

WP2 by Walking Papers

 

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Walking Papers is the rock and roll U.S.-based super-group consisting of Jeff Angell and Benjamin Anderson from The Missionary Position, Barrett Martin, former drummer of twp legendary bands sucha as Screaming Trees and Mad Season, and Duff McKagan, renowned bassist for Guns’N’Roses. The band was formed in 2012 and one year after ther formation they released their self-titled first LP. Five years after their explosive debut they’re back with a follow-on album, named WP2, which basically replicates the same mix of muscular rock with blues infusions that we found on the first release. One of the elements of greatest interest in the case of super-groups is to see what happens when a group of artists coming from heterogeneous musical backgrounds are put into the recording studio with the possibility to combine their different experiences and generate something unique, and special. As we know, however, the magic doesn’t happen all of the times and in the case of Walking Papers we can say that objective is achieved only in half. Looking at their work, in fact, we recognize that there are some songs that manage to transmit a real exciting fusion of different inputs, but at the same time the album features a number of less inspired tracks which offer nothing more than another interpretation of the clichés of classic rock’n’roll. When compared to the debut work, WP2 apperas a little heavier and strong, but in the end it has the same mix of excellent tracks with a few gap-fillers.


 

Number 4 

HABITS OF THE PEOPLE by Clincher

 

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Clincher is an Australian Rock band from Perth, whose fame has not yet crossed national borders but which periodically publishes honest and genuine music, without too many frills but with everytime with a few interesting tracks. This description applies perfectly to Habits Of The People, their latest album, which has a couple of particularly enjoyable songs to store in our music archives.


Number 5

TRICKLEBOLT (Self-Titled Album)

 

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Tricklebolt is a classic rock band from Netherlands, formed in 2014, which are deeply inspired by bands of the 70’s like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Rainbow, and Thin Lizzy. Last year these guys spent most of their time to refine, record and produce their debut and self-titled album. The music we have on this LP doesn’t present elements of particular innovation but the album is nice to listen, and there are also a couple of songs that result particularly enjoyable. The hope is to see them develop a more original sound and style in the future, but the spirit of rock and roll is strong and alive in their music.


 

Number 6

MONUMENTS UNCOVERED by Mystic Prophecy

 

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Mystic Prophecy is a metal band from Germany which was formed in 2000 and that over the yearshas lost one after the other all the original members of the band  with the exception of singer Roberto Dimitri Liapakis. The music published by Mystic Prophecy has never been memorable and even the last album, Monuments Uncovered, presents a collection of funny covers of historical pop and rock songs – revisited in a hard rock – from which we can barely extract a couple of singles worthy of note.


 

Best New Music: FORCE FIELD by The Atomic Bitchwax

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One of the last major stoner publications to be released this year, Force Field by American supergroup The Atomic Bitchwax is immediately noted as one of the most powerful records of 2017. Always linked by a particular relationship with the stoner legends Monster Magnet –  a band with which they have always shared some of the main members of the line-up – this rock project founded by Chris Kosnik almost 25 years ago has always been characterized by an absolute quality in music publications. And their last LP, released in December 2017, absolutely confirms this rule.

From the first seconds since we push the button on our music player, we are greeted by the usual sequence of thick, energetic and impenetrable riffs, an element that has always been one of the main characteristics of their works. And continuing along this stoner ride without leaving the accelerator pedal if only for a few moments – we will soon arrive, in little more than 35 minutes, at the conclusion of this umpteenth masterpiece in the band’s discography. To all effects this is a pure and furious musical assault, but played with a precision and a level of effectiveness that are quite uniqe in modern stoner. And somehow, precisely because of this stylistic coherence among most of the twelve songs of the LP, this work seems really to continue the path already started with the previous album.

In an age where every band seems to battle for the longest song average, and brevity is the soul of last century, The Atomic Bitchwax go refreshingly against the stream. Their mission is simple: rock out, rock hard and rock fucking fast. Force Field is a barreling barrel of fun, unpretentious stoner rock complete with ludicrous guitars and strong vocals (Angry Metal Guy)

The album was released on December 8th, 2017, via Tee Pee Records.

Recommended tracks: Shocker, CrazyHippie Speedball, Shell of a Man.


 

“Three guys from Trondheim, Norway making noise”, the Best of MOTORPSYCHO (a Spotify Compilation)

Motorpsycho is by far one of the most inventive, respected and influential bands in modern rock music.

Their biography is long and articulated, and their career has seen the band moving through different phases and a few lineup changes. Their impressive discography has touched many different musical styles and genres including progressive rock, hard rock, psychedelia, and also heavy metal.

Inspired by their latest and wonderful album The Tower, I’ve created a Spotify playlist which collects together the best songs within their long production. Such a selection can’t be (and doesn’t aim to be) complete and exhaustive, it’s more a way to represent how variegated and inspired is their music.

 


 

September 2017, Best Rock Album of the Month: The Tower by Motorpsycho

When I was a student at the University, more than 20 years ago, Motorpsycho reached for me the status of a cult band and every year or so they repeated the rite of releasing a new album, which for me used to become a new relic to be worshiped. Between 1994 and 1998, in particular, this trio of Norwegian rockers released 4 albums that marked the “renaissance” of progressive rock in the ’90s. Their music was just wonderful. They played a genuine, engaging and exciting rock, a music gifted by a level of creativity that was really outside the boundaries of the human being,  with a powerful and devastating sound. In short, a myth. The story tells that at some point in their career the band faced a musical turn and the magic of those years was never to be repeated, probably not only because of their music but also because it was also my life that changed. Through the years I have continued to follow their steps, perhaps with less transport and passion but always with great interest. Their prolificity has been somewhat slowed, but they have continued to produce albums with a certain frequency. Recently, for some years now, their music is coming back to touch some special strings of my sensitivity and today, with their new work The Tower, it is as if they are again approaching that part of my body that is more sensitive to their music.

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The current lineup of the band features only two members of the original formation: Bent Sæther (lead vocals and bass) and Hans Magnus “Snah” Ryan (guitars) and last year also the “young” drummer who supported the last 7 albums left the group to be replaced by  Tomas Järmyr from Zu, who was presented as the new permanent drummer of the band.

Kenneth Kapstad’s June 2016 departure from Motorpsycho left the remaining psychos Hans Magnus Ryan and Bent Sæther fending for themselves. An almost ten-year ride was over, and things were again changing in the Psychoverse. (Motorpsycho)

But as often happens with the rock groups, the arrival of a new member must have activated a new vein of creativity because the latest work from Motorpsycho is really amazing and full of so many  musical ideas that it really seem to be back to the magical period of their career.

Overall, as expected, this album is a massive piece that requires time to truly sink in. There is plenty to enjoy here and its sunny atmosphere is, so to speak, only occasionally blocked by clouds. For your yearly Motorpsycho fix, this is a magnificent journey. (Sputnik Music)

The Tower is definitely a must have LP, both for long-term fans and for those who have never come across this incredible band. We are talking about one of the most influential formations for contemporary rock, and with this record they only confirm the reason why.

 

Surviving yet another change in personnel, Motorpsycho bounces back and shows yet again that the band is bigger than the individual players and that it intends to survive whatever challenges fate throws at it. The Tower, then, is a statement of intent from a band that is very much alive and kicking: this is the start of a new era in the Psychoverse, and the album stands as proof that there’s bite in the old dog yet! (Motorpsycho)


HEAVY FOREVER – Volume 2 – Best of New Heavy Metal

Three months have passed since the first volume of the HEAVY FOREVER mixtape series, i.e. the periodical publication of the best and most recent heavy metal songs, selected and mixed by Guerino. In this time span there were a number of very good releases and at this point it was quite easy to assemble and produce a new powerful compilation with the best tracks from the most recent LPs with heavy, folk and power metal. Enjoy the playlist and check with regularity for new updates! As usual, a few additional information on the bands contributing to the mix are provided after the widget. Good listen and prepare for the fight!


 

The intro and the first proper track of the mixtape are taken from Amain, the new and third LP released by Finnish symphonic folk metallers Crimfall. This band has a strange story because at the end of last decade they were considered as one of the most promising groups in the symphonic metal scene, and they gained in fact quite a good reputation with the first two albums. From that moment, the band became almost silent for six years until this last release, which however seems to show that all the positive things that were said in the past about the Group are still valid today.

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The Privateer are a German “pirate metal horde”, active since 2007 and which released this year their third studio LP, The Goldsteen Lay, from which I selected the intriguing song Draft of the Strange. Their music is a curious blend of power metal and folk, with violins often breaking the heavyness of the guitar riffs. Accused sometimes to put more attention on their appearance than on the music, their last production contains however a couple of very good songs, and the last album is generally enjoyable and nice to hear.

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It may be strange at first to see Tau Cross contributing to an heavy metal playlist. The band, which is basically a post-punk multinational collective (or “supergroup”), released this year their highly anticipated second LP, Pillar of Fire, which follows their 2015’s debut album (Tau Cross). In both the two releases this group of skilled musicians shows a unique ability to move freely within multiple genres and influences, mixing together post-punk, hard rock, industrial and folk metal. The song selected for this playlist, On The Water, is a beautiful example of their incredible musical approach and you’ll see how the track fits well in this heavy metal compilation thanks to the powerful rhythms and abrasive and energetic anthems.

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The second part of the mix starts with Taipei Person – Allah Tea, that is one of the best tracks within Hydrograd, the sixth studio album by American rock band Stone Sour. Their last LP is maybe one of the best they produced so far and it sees the band particularly focused on the melodic aspect of their sound, with groovy rhytms and a lot of catchy anthems. The track embodies ca lassic heavy metal guitar riff and incorporates also hard rock and punk influences.

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The following couple of songs of the compilation come from two bands that have already appeared in the pages of this blog: we have the talented italian metallers of Arthemis, showcasing with the beautiful Undead their impressive thrash-oriented approach to heavy metal (they were also contributing to the first volume of the series), and Helengard, the contemporary folk metal project which is also a side project of two of the main members of the glourios band Kauan (I spoke some months ago about their free-to-download album).

 

The last and beautiful track of the mix is Avalanche and it’s taken from This Is the Sound, which is the debut album by Cellar Darling, the three-piece folk metal spin-off of Eluvetie.  After their split with the Swiss folk metal masters, the trio composed by singer Anna Murphy, drummer Merlin Sutter and guitarist and bassist Ivo Henzi, focused all of their energy into this new metal project, which fuses together a strong and heavy metal approach with poetic lyrical and folk elements.

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If you enjoyed the playlist, here you can access the first and succesful volume of the HEAVY METAL series, published on last June.