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Men In Metal - Let The Soul Spread Its Wings

You can always rely on Finland’s Inverse Records to bring you the most unique shades of heavy metal. Мужчины в металле (Men In Metal) are a Russian power metal band from Yekaterinburg. You never know what to expect from Russia and these guys certainly offer something new. A retro rock band at their core, they kick off Let The Soul Spread Its Wings with a song that owes as much to The Wanted as it does to Kiss. The ‘Lyrical Drinking Song’ mixes The Gossip with The Bloodhound Gang and throws in a Chumbawamba-esque terrace chant. It destroys any expectations of the album, displaying an unexpected openness and playfulness. It’s an attitude that Men In Metal wear proudly.

‘Only The Wind’ and ‘Dawn Ahead’ are more typical compositions. Lead guitars and heavy lead bass guitars hark back to Gary Moore-era Thin Lizzy, while the galloping kick drums and crisp production give the older elements a modern feel. There’s a noticeable whiff of cheese but it bubbles under more often than it breaks the surface. Power ballad, ‘The Same Way’, is a rare moment where the whole thing collapses into a fondue. ‘Secrets Of The North’ comes to the rescue with a thrash metal intensity and a chorus reminiscent of ‘Out In The Fields’.

The urgent riffing of ‘The Time Has Come’ has echoes of Randy Rhoads. It’s ‘80s rocktastic; so ‘80s that there is even a bass solo. Let The Soul Spread Its Wings manages to capture the joyous spirit of classic commercial rock without a hint of irony or condescension. The cover is painted in classic Russian metal style but is dominated by a cartoonish bat (out of hell) carrying a ukulele in its paws.

Because Yuriy Sakhnov sings entirely in his native tongue, it’s hard to gauge the tone of some of the music but it’s refreshing to hear Russian lyrics and it allows the listener freedom of interpretation. I’d much rather listen to something done well in a language I don’t understand than hear a half-arsed attempt at translation into English. The mix of funk, folk, and shoutalong pop choruses make this one of 2018’s more interesting, and most fun, metal releases.



The Voo-Dooms - Destination Doomsville

Quite the enigma this lot. If you don’t know the band’s history, then it won’t take very long; remarkably they only formed around a year ago. However, they are all seasoned musicians and have been knocking around for a while. You’ll most certainly will be familiar with the individual members; Bassist - Bruce Brand (Milkshakes, Headcoats, Masonics, DuTronc, Len Bright Combo etc.), Guitarist - Kev Smith (The Baron Four), Drummer - Dave Prince (The Sundowners, The Untamed, The Rat Pack etc.) and Guitarist/Vocalist - Mick Cocksedge (The Untamed, Cordwood Draggers and The Dead Bone Ramblers).

And, there’s been a buzz about the fuzz from the get go; their t-shirts popping up on Facebook - the ghoulish design - green and red with a shrunken head. Definitely enough to capture the imagination of us garage/rock 'n' roll hungry ‘kids’ (please humour me) with a penchant for vintage horror schlock. Then a slew of videos from our favourite UK studio North Down Sound (Ah, so that pesky Mole is involved … further intrigue!) the LP recorded in demonic ‘Mo-Fi’ no less.

In May, as fortune would have it, I happened to be down South. The Voo-Dooms played their debut gig, supporting The X-Men, at the Con Club in Lewes. I’d heard a couple of teaser tracks already - 'The Hangman Stomp' being one of them (now a favourite), and they sounded pretty darn good (expecting no less). Fast forward a few weeks, and they had managed to secure themselves places on the bill at the two best garage, surf and beat festivals in the UK - The Franklin Fest and Beatwave.Their undead power growing stronger and stronger and (because I happened to see them perform at both fests) becoming more relaxed, confident and having plenty of eerie fun with each performance.

Mwah-ha-HA! to the album - Destination Doomsville - a delectable and dizzying journey through the sounds of yesteryear. The cover art, designed in-band, sets the scene (should there be any doubt in your mind - at all - that this band are on a horror trip!). Stand out tracks like ‘Hangman’s Stomp’, ‘Gravedigger’s Night Shift Blues’, earworm ‘Do The Plague’ (‘it’s the new dance craze!’) particularly the latter; really showcases Sgt. Von Doom’s Bobby Pickett-esque intonation, and is nothing short of spine chilling. But it’s not all horror finks and fiends, although they do bring a kooky creepiness to their version of Shel Naylor’s marvellous 'One Fine Day', and the country-esque 'Meet Me Here (In New Orleans)'. Moody ‘No Reflection’ is down right putrefied perfection, and Burke N. Hare (in the sleeve notes) ponders on what we’ve always wondered ‘if one is thus disadvantaged, how come Dracula was always so well groomed?’. It’s also worth mentioning the fabulous lyrics, which throughout the LP, are always delivered with much playfulness.

Needless to say the whole LP is full of feral frights, devious delights and rollicking rock n roll. I hesitate not in saying that we’ve all been well and truly Doomed!

Destination Doomsville is still available as a signed copy with free, yes FREE limited album promo sticker and badge for a measly £15.00 + postage worldwide directly from the band or from Trash Wax without the extras here.


The Dahmers - Down In The Basement

Here's one for your Hallowe'en party. Eighteen tracks of Scandinavian garage rock with a bit of a horror twist. 

Down In The Basement turns out to be the band's third album so they may not be new to everyone reading this. By all accounts though they've significantly honed their craft over the period 2016-2018 when these songs were written and recorded. 

Which is handy given the recent history of similar bands from their part of the planet - Mando Diao having failed to live up to early promise and The Hives basically treading water after the first couple of albums.

The songs either then chug along pleasantly ('Street Of The Dead') or race to a close ('Murder Ride', 'Hit 'N' Run') as the Swedish quartet plumb the depths of classic rock, '60s punk and Hammer Horror. The Star Spangles come to mind as a sorely missed reference point.

X-rated horrors from the past are referenced ('I Spit On Your Grave') as are murderous characters ('The Ripper'). The latter does though feature the rather overused sample about having a good time, getting loaded & riding motorcycles as popularised by Primal Scream (and Mudhoney before them) a few decades back. It doesn't really seem to have any bearing on the content of the song but hey ho.

It's a while since a band new to me has given me the feeling that seeing them live would be exciting, rather than just a chance to possibly be entertained in person by a well rendered version of their album but with Down In The Basement  The Dahmers have succeeded in getting me to keep an eye out for them on a bill somewhere, albeit that would still really need to be in Edinburgh at a weekend but we'll see what the coming months hold. 

Down In The Basement is available from Lövely Records here.


Claw Marks - Hee Hee

Given that Idles are now playing stadium shows and appearing on ITV News, the time is ripe for some coattail riding. London’s Claw Marks sound so similar to the Bristolian punks that you could easily mistake this album for Joy As An Act Of Resistance if you hadn’t heard it before. Vocalist, Jack Lantern, in particular sounds like he took intonation lessons from Joe Talbot. The similarities with Idles are not merely aesthetic either. While the vocals and guitars are in the same style, it is the confrontational, sardonic tone, and song structures that are most noticeable. ‘10000 Commandments’ uses the same songwriting tropes as those seen on last year’s Brutalism. Nonetheless, Claw Marks know how to write a noisy, uplifting tune.

Hee Hee opens with the sleazy, discordant ‘The Coat’ which has shades of The Fat White Family who they have gigged with. They’ve also got a Fat White playing keyboards so the sonic connection is more than mere coincidence. In a similar vein, ‘The Rain’ has a ‘Touch The Leather’ vibe, and that’s no bad thing. It leers and swaggers while Lantern’s uvula gets a serious workout, like Jerry Mouse is in there using it as a punchbag.

That’s not to say that Claw Marks are rip-off merchants. This is an underground supergroup of sorts. As well as The Fat Whites, the band features members of Human Hair and Boneyards. These songs have been gestating for a few years and have only now seen the light of day. This is the perfect time for them to be heard. They play raucous, downtuned, progressive punk in a similar vein to Shellac, Arabrot, Future Of The Left, and even The Birthday Party and Butthole Surfers in places.

If loud, challenging, amorphous garage punk is your bag, then you’ll get a kick out of Hee Hee. If you can get past the resemblance to the headline grabbing Idles, Claw Marks offer a thoroughly modern take on punk music. It’s just a major hurdle to overcome. The shadow of Brutalism hangs heavily over this record. Claw Marks have been beaten to the punch. Had this record come out 18 months ago, they would have been rightly lauded. As it is, they may be swallowed in the wake of that leviathan.

Hee Hee is available from iTunes and Amazon.


Garcia Peoples - Cosmic Cash

Garcia Peoples have delivered a solid raucous blues inspired rock album. Taking that next step in an old genre, if it ain't broke don't fix it.

Beautiful, Britpop inspired, with some songs sounding just like they would! Looking up at The Verve's Urban Hymns and somewhere in the future looking back on bands like Cage The Elephant. Even with the comparisons, Garcia Peoples manage to stay within their own room.

This is one of those albums that keeps giving you groovy smiles, sometimes it has a Mac DeMarco slice of groove, sometimes it goes GF Bruce.

’Four Walls’ is a soft ballad remembering old times and lessons learned and earned from inside the walls of a moment in life. Soft gritty vocals with sparse chords and accompanying piano keys carry the the listener into darker alley ways always with a trusted torch.

This album at times packs a fast punch bursting out of the speakers with psychedelic punk riffs and indie melodies. Never sounding formulated in the cut out sense, the production has achieved a big sound with lots of summer guitar band potential and a nod to the blues sounds of bygone years. Is it something that people will be talking about in years to come, probably not. A solid album that’s well produced and sounds good, Just good rock music being created by a good band of musicians. If this sounds like your thing, then check it out.

Cosmic Cash is available from iTunes and Amazon.


Hate Colours - Know Nothing


Fed up with the climate change-fuelled, spirit of '76, soaring temperatures of the summer (& all the hyperbole attached to it)? Longing for the dark winter days & nights along with the scares you can throw into yourself when the thermometer plummets and you become less sociable? Know Nothing is the album for you.

Think Aphex Twin-like, breathy sounds coupled with drum machines, found sounds, field recordings and a lot of songs about anxiety/paranoia and you'll have a reasonable idea of the sound Hate Colours have (they're a quintet lead by J. Turgenev, late of The Douglas Firs).

Second Track, 'House II', brings to mind Downward Spiral era NIN too so there's a bit of '90s industrial in the mix too. It's quite an achievement to keep things both upbeat an sinister but across the eight tracks there's generally enough of a beat to offset the creepy stuff. Goblin & their ilk are likely an influence too.

Recorded over the period of a couple of years (2015-2017) a number of the songs were inspired by a trip to Orcas island in Washington state. An online image search for the place doesn't produce the Blair Witch type scenes you'd expect from the music but we should probably be thankful that seeing the scenery and the whales didn't lead to an interest in dream catchers and crap campfire tunes. 

Hate Colours are definitely doing their own thing so good luck to them. The elements mentioned above are all atmospherically combined throughout the album and it definitely bears listening to more than once (and certainly more than its constituent parts in isolation would have you expect). Penultimate track 'Dream Lake Road' even manages to feel comforting despite the Einsturzende Neubaten-esque clangs during its five minutes so expectations are confounded right to the end. There's also not a single mention of Jon Snow.

Know Nothing is available from bandcamp here.

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