Heaven's Gate - Menergy

Crikey, 10 years ago I would probably have loved this. It's a bona fida metal album, which makes me realise how much I've changed. As the first notes emerge from vocalist Thomas Rettke throat it's immediately apparent that new metal hasn't had an impact on these lot. There's vibratto, tinges of Dickinson, Dio and all those people. Plus that old tinge of the German accent. Talk of Defenders of Time and we're still not through the first song. And I don't know if I like it. It's kind of nice to hear that sort of vocal again, but it's also striking me as more of an aquired taste than it used to. And we've just hit the guitar solo. Oh crikey, this is going to get so annoying. See, before every track there's a small interlude which seems to be telephony messages "your directory has been moved. Please press zero or contact an operator." That sort of thing. Ok once, but for every track, that'll be 11, no. No. NO. Mastermind is up and running, a speedy little affair that is making me think Judas Priest. It's the "old classics" style of doing things. You'll know whether you really do like this sort of thing. They've just mentioned Cyberspace. If I hear people using that word much more in such a trendy not knowing any fucking thing about it manner, the way it gets reported on the news, I'm going to 'kin kill. Why? Cos my research is based around what people would call Cyberspace. Or Cyber anything. It's an utterly cack description. William Gibson must die. Sorry, that was probably sacrilege and ensures any future papers that I write don't get into any conferences for me. Oops, little tangent there. Sorry. God, another of those interludes. NOOOOOOO, for fucks sake. Judging by that little outburst it's probably a good job that the only Maiden studio album that I never bought was Virtual XI. And so it continues. An old fashioned metal track about hi-tech "invaders ... technology" Followed by entirely irritating segueway. It's all well and good, but a little out of date. Bollocks, I just became one of the people I rally against, slagging off the metal. A few years ago maybe, but doesnít do much now.

Available on SPV.


H20 - F.F.T.W

Although I try to listen to quite a bit of hardcore, and with an open mind, at the end of the day, H20 play the type Iím most at ease and happy with. And when I saw them last year, they put on one of the best hardcore gigs Iíve seen. Iíd be loathe to say theyíre as good as Sick of it All, who are easily my favourite HC band, but theyíre playing in the same area. Not surprising given that vocalist toby Morse used to roadie for them. So anyway, what does that tell you. Well, 1) that I was looking forward to this album. 2) I wasnít disappointed. 3) Weíre talking melodic hardcore, vocals you can make out, chantalong, singalong choruses. It feels a lot more relaxed and laid back than the more guttural HC thatís around, whilst still retain what seems to be indicated as being the essence of hardcore, "unity and honesty". Yeah, I like H20.

Most of the songs are short, up tempo, and straight to the point. Toby sings, and itís hugely accessible. Lyrically it deals with that old chestnut of unity and having "your friends around you". It sometimes gets a little too much, but then you get a track such as Guilty By Association where it all comes together perfectly. But it is all positive, and often seems to be reflections on where they were and the open eyed look at where theyíve managed to go. And on Old School Recess, thereís a great chorus.

"I donít wanna be 13, I only wanna share the scene. All I really want to do is have Saturday, everyday for the rest of our lives"

Empty Pockets and One Life, One Chance are perfect singalongs, the later being one of the standout tracks on the entire album, in which you close your eyes and you can see the mike being passed around and hollered into by all and sundry at the gigs. Itís not entirely original of course, and throughout the songs there are niggling little bits where you search for who it is they sound like. Iíve heard bits of CIV in there, and on the bizzarely written EZ.2.B.Anti, the melody and vocals even bring the name of Bad Religion to my lips, even though in this instance it is Mr CIV that actually guests on the track! Actually, the supporting cast list is probably as big as the upcoming Limp Bizkit album. And thankfully thatís the only reference thereís going to be to that lot in this review.

So, to repeat. Itís melodic, huge choruses, and for my mind, they are perhaps one of the best modern day introductions that you can get to this style of music. Then of course youíd move to SOIA.

Available on Epitaph.


Vanilla Pod - Faster Disco


So impressed by them when I saw them, I bought the CD. So anyway, I have to say that this didn't quite leave as favourable an impression as the gig. Live the bass just stormed it, but here, though not bad, it just sounds like pretty much a lot of other melodic punk bands. The opening track 52 Card Pick Up is a solid blast of the old NOFX stylisms, upbeat, chunky sort of punk thing, nice guitars, and that old bass drum out of control not quite managing a thrash sort of speed. You know what I mean. They all go at full pelt with it. It's a trait repeated on most songs. There are also some eerie moments when the singing brings to mind Beddis from the Cowboy Killers. Yet it's all so much more melodic than they are.

Gut Wall fools you into thinking it's going to be more of the same bludgeon, but settles in with a much more laid back thing with those guitars just chugging in briefly. Quite nice. Though the guitars return for the end. Ooh, putting quite nice in a review. That must be a bad sign.

Gotta say though, that my overall impression is this is a band that are better to see live than listen to the CD. Mainly because live they capture that moment, and engage the audience. Here they have to rely purely on the music, and though it's not bad, it's just there's so many similar bands out there. Where's It Gone throws in a little of the ska sort of guitar jangle, while Baa Lamb features a rather summery sound.

To be fair, the band does have it's moments when they drop things down a gear, like the brief intro to Pooh Bear, the opening riff on In And Out Place, just enough to grab the attention a bit, but it usually gets crushed soon enough by a standard speed Fat/Epitaph etc style punk song. If they had the conviction to stick with this for a bit longer, I'd be so much more interested. Come on, just one of you punker bands. Go on, break the rules. Rebel. Don't sound so like everyone else.

Next issue, the above sentence gets repeated, but for another genre. Who shall it be? Skacore? Nu-metal? Stoner? Well, you'll just have to wait and see. Depends probably on the majority of stuff I've seen / reviewed in the weeks preceeding the writing.

Available on Thems Good Records