I can’t remember where or when I first heard Red Arms it might well have been one late night when I vanished down a Bandcamp wormhole and just happened across ‘Better Than Nothing’ the second track on ‘Critical State’. Maybe the first thing I noticed was they were Canadian and to be fair they throw up more than their fair share of great records in recent years.  Post punk, Power pop or alt rock  whatever you want to call it  Red Arms dish it up in spades and have made a most excellent long player.

I’ll level with you I don’t know anything about the band when I went looking for details and previous work I struggled to find anything  so it was a real discovery for me .I hear some Husker Du and The Who as well as more modern alternative bands like some Buffalo Tom and Anti Flag as well for good measure so a real melting pot but the production is bright and the songs sound well constructed and worked on. The album kicks off with ‘Post Punk’ which has something of a Stooges riff and rhythm about it and to be fair its more No Means No or Fugazi than anything else.  Its got energy for an opener and it’ll reel you in for sure. As the record unfolds the songs tend to settle down to mid paced efforts but with strong melodies and harmonies take ‘All This Noise’ as an example.

‘Midwinter’ builds around a bass rumble but a bit of an epic as the first minute takes its time to get going but by the second minute things get rockin’.  To be fair the second half of the album only gets stronger for me and I love the groove they get in on  ‘Pathetic Charms’. If you like a thumping bass rumble then ‘Huckster’ is for you before it starts thrashing around it ebbs and flows through some tempo changes.

To be fair I hear different influences on every play but they’ve managed to create a really listenable sound with a bunch of top tunes. Red Arms are another fine string to Canada’s impressive bow of Rock and Roll bands strutting their stuff this being immersed in the alternative underground but full to bursting with excellent melodies and tunes.  Go check em put but don’t hold me responsible for starting you off down that wormhole of discovery but it will be worth it.

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Author: Dom Daley

It’s always a good day when The Zuglys drop a new record of any description.  A bunch of Oslo natives kicking out the jams on their terms – dancing only to their own tune GBZ as we like to call them, are a force of nature and you need to let them into your life it must be pretty empty without them, that’s all I can assume? Besides I’m declaring right here right now that this is the finest Deathpunk album since ’98s ‘Apocalypse Dudes’ which is quite some gap.

Album number four (or five if you include the compilation of early releases) it would be fair to say that Zugly are one of the best-kept secrets in all of punk rock land.  How? Fuck knows is often a few words we use to describe the phenomena or just that people generally haven’t got a clue what’s good for them.  Over the next few paragraphs, I’m hoping to either put you off music for life or help persuade you to click the red words below and go investigate this band of maverick noisemakers.

Right, let’s do this. ‘Algorithm & Blues’ contains thirteen songs of varying levels of intensity mostly stressful full-on in your face punk rock Oslo style without compromise or a hint of wanting to conform to reach a wide audience of nodding dogs who wouldn’t know a good tune from a puddle of piss. The opening track is ‘Welcome To The Great Indoors’ which is nice. It begins with some Angus like scales working out up the fretboard before the rhythm section joins in building up to the crunch point then bosch! We’re off as the guitars pin you to the back of your seat and we’re careering downhill at a frantic rate of knots.  Fuck this is how to kick off your album. Ivar Nikolaisen leads the charge with his uncompromising vocals and what a thrilling four minutes that was.

 

Forget Turbonegro and Kvelertak this is how to rock out 2020 style.  this is where the bar gets set, these are the leaders and others will just have to follow, simples. ‘Fake Noose’ is intense and has a really haunting melody through the vocals it’s like audio crack it’s that addictive but then when you tackle the subject of elected dying and going to Switzerland to do it its gotta be a little intense right?.  The quality charge continues as ‘Staying With The Trouble’ is up next with its triumphant guitars and pop-savvy melody on those backing vocals its a lighter side of The Zuglys for sure. Have they finally decided to sell a little of their soul for success and chart acceptance?

 

After the slight interlude of ‘Follow Your Dreams’ were right back at it hammering away on ‘Kings Of Inconvenience’. ‘The Man Behind The (Oxygene) Mask’ is the Zuglys on top of their game it’s bold, it’s grand, it’s epic. It gallops from the off (no great shock there to be fair) but the melodies happening are fantastic and the more you play these songs the more things jump out you didn’t notice on the last play and this song is one of the best examples of that. Remember what you thought when you first heard Turbo knock out ‘Apocolpse Dudes’ well, this is like that.

 

‘Fuck Life…But How To Live It’ is hardcore heaven. Uncompromising and just full of boundless energy like the Beastie Boys tackling early Black Flag. The second single off the album ‘Corporate Rock’ is anything but.  Hounding out fake bands with a huge riff that belted out like a 30lb hammer landing on your temple. I’m standing firm behind these boys they know the score!

 

‘The Kids Are Alt-Right’ is tackling the hot potato of today’s global politics but I hope they’re wrong on this one I hope that Hope Not Hate prevails and the Kids are alright and our children don’t head down a wormhole of Trump and tory hate for anyone and everything except money and not 90% are nihilists.  C’mon Oslo’s finest offer us some hope?  whilst there is a darkness I have to believe the kids are generally all right.

 

Blimey, for some light relief from the last one ‘Fuck The Police’ raises the alarm, Doh! bollocks lets go with them. Use the intro to inhale then prepare to enter the pit as the intensity escalates. “Fuck, Fuck Fuck the Police” if you can’t beat them join them. That my friends is pretty much where we get off this trip except for ‘Requiem’ and its one last hurrah!  Rounding off an absolute belter to kick-off 2020.  The Good The Bad And The Zugly are everything you want them to be they make you think, Smile, Laugh, break things, give yourself over to the noise they make, be grateful you have them in your life and you also have impeccable taste in hardcore punk rock and roll Oslo style.

 

As they said it themselves on this record “Don’t tell me that the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon” Go The Zuglys I’m rootin’ for you to break on through.  Let’s make this go overground! Just go Buy it! it’s because you’re worth it!

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Author: Dom Daley

There’s something gloriously familiar about this second long-player from UK bovver rockers Hard Wax, something that I can’t quite put my finger on, but it’s something that right from the very first spin has me beaming from ear to ear, so it must be something good right?

They say the make of any band is the strength of their tunes…and here on ‘This Is The Sound’ Wax main man Tom Boutwood (ably assisted by Paul Bond on drums, Tom Murphy on lead guitar and Matt Colton on bass) has penned some of the finest Oi! infused terrace anthems you’ll hear anywhere this year. Just like the recently released Michael Monroe album it’s not exactly groundbreaking or genre-bending stuff but sometimes I just need my punk rock music to be just that, straight ahead and no-frills, and right here on ‘This Is The Sound’ what you get for your entry money are ten premium cuts of bovver boy rock ‘n’ roll.

Kicking off with ‘Welcome To Bovver Rock City’ this just shy of two-minute long intro bears all the hallmarks of Hard Wax’s upcoming UK tour partners Giuda, albeit a Giuda fronted by someone who sounds a hell of a lot like Ginge Knievel.  And that right there is the familiar thing I couldn’t quite put my finger on at the top, because at times during ‘This Is The Sound’ it’s just like Mr Knievel has returned from his self-imposed exile and is finally fronting the band he’s always wanted to front. The similarity really is uncanny, but trust me, there’s a whole lot more to this record that the singer sounding a hell of a lot like the ex-Sick Livers/Nicotine Pretty frontman.

Things really kick off in style on ‘Living The Dream’, a proper piece of punk rock argy bargy designed to get your oxblood a-stomping. Elsewhere ‘This is The Sound’, ‘Days Of Glory’ (ooh hello Sailor) and ‘Razor Part Rebels’ (complete with an otherworldly Ace Frehley guitar riff) all steam out the blocks full of cock-sure 70s glam rock swagger and just a few spins later you’ll be singing along like you’ve had this album in your life since your childhood.
When the world outside your window is slowly turning to shit ‘This Is The Sound’ is the perfect pick me up record with tracks like ‘Have A Good Time’ and ‘Not Just a Pin-Up Girl’ guaranteed to make you smile once again, and in ‘Boys Of A Saturday Night’ and ‘Stomp All Over The World’ you have the near perfect soundtrack for a right proper tear up…on the dancefloor of course.

Which just leaves ‘In For a Penny’, a track I went straight to when I first got my copy of ‘This Is The Sound’ simply because I initially thought “wow a Slade cover that’s gonna take some balls”. Well, it’s actually not a cover, although the guitar riff is equal parts Hill and Holder and it’s the kind of glorious call to arms tune that would have seen Hard Wax on Top Of The Pops had it been released back in the 70s.
With a whole raft of great new punk rock records released by UK bands in 2019 (if you think otherwise then you really do need to read RPM more) I’m delighted to say that ‘This Is The Sound’ is right up there with the very best of them.

Now go get your boots on and get down your record shop and get yourself a copy.

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Author: Johnny Hayward

Pre-sales are up for one of our favourite Norweigan bands.  The Good The Bad And The Zugly will release their new album ‘Algorithm & Blues’ in January and pre-sales are already up for grabs. Available in Transparent blue vinyl (limited to 250 copies) Transparent yellow vinyl (limited to 250 copies) Standard black vinyl (limited to 800 copies)
and Digipack CD.

Artwork is done by Flu Hartberg as always and it’ll come out on Fysisk Format and as a taster, the single ‘Staying With The Trouble’ is released.

 

Following the recent news of an upcoming ‘best of’ package and vinyl re-issues of four classic albums, Sweden’s finest purveyors of glam slam boogie the Diamond Dogs are back with a new long-player of brand new music to whet the appetite.

It seems you can’t keep a good band down, and four years after they called it quits, following the tragic death of saxophonist Magic Gunnarsson, original members Sulo and keyboard player Henrik “Honk” Widen decided it was time to get the band back together. Joining the duo are long-serving guitarist Lars Karlsson, fellow guitarist Martin Thomander, bassist Stefan Bellnas and Thomas Broman on the drums.

While a revolving door of band members has come and gone over the years, the sound remains the same. Let’s just say, if you dig the cool as you like vintage rock ‘n’ roll of The Faces meets The Stones, then grab a Jack & Coke, drop the needle and sit back and enjoy!

 

Now, when I say new music, all is not quite as it seems. If you were to purchase this album on vinyl then you could say side A is Diamond Dogs originals; recalling their rock ‘n’ roll roots. And then side B is their own tribute to Soul legend Sam Cooke; six cover versions of classic cuts from the Soul singer, reinterpreted in their own classic style.

While their last few studio albums have been a bit patchy, this is a banger of an album from start to finish. Their trademark rock ‘n’ roll shuffles bring to mind a golden age of early 70’s British rock. Anyone from The Stones, Slade and Quo comes to mind at any given moment. You know the score.

 

Opening song ‘Recall Rock ‘n’ Roll’ sets the bar high from the off and sees singer Sulo in introspective mood as the band fire on all cylinders behind him. “Let’s turn back time and make it roll!” he suggests before blasting into a euphoric chorus. The likes of ‘Valentina (Queen Of Broken Hearts)’ and ‘Heavy Swing’ have that classic Sulo chorus refrains in abundance. High energy rock ‘n’ roll, with a tinkling of the ivories and key changes that takes it up nicely to the climax. No one does Mott meets The Faces better.

There’s a hint of sadness to the soulful balladry that ‘Singin’ With Elvis’ brings to the table. Sulo reminisces about times gone by and the ghosts of the past. “I walk down the street where we all used to meet, but it was all dark and quiet” he sings in an almost broken rasp. Swathes of Hammond organ and great, Stones inspired backing harmonies make this essential Dogs material.

The uber-cool ‘There Is A Fire Down There’ has a Black Crowes swagger, with trademark killer backing vocals and a wild n’ crazy slide guitar solo. No one does rock ‘n’ roll rapture quite like the Diamond Dogs do these days.

 

The album is split down the middle by ‘Soul Folks’, a re-recording of a Sulo original that first appeared on his album ‘Hear Me Out’. Sulo’s own tribute to his soul hero that actually comes across like an Exile-era Stones outtake. Cracking stuff indeed.

Now, the Sam Cooke side of things includes a bunch of guests. First up, we have Quireboys frontman Spike lending his gravelly tones to the good time rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Good Times’. Handclaps, sax and heavenly, female backing vocals bring the soul and help get the party started.

The good time boogie of ‘Don’t Fight it, Feel It’ and the 12 bar blues stomp of ‘Somebody Have Mercy’ are delivered in fine Diamond Dogs style, you wouldn’t even guess they were old Soul songs on first listen.

They breathe new life into ‘Keep Movin’ On’. Faster and more uplifting, that killer chorus introduces a song that sounds like it has always been in your head. Hellacopters main man Nicke Andersson adds his dulcet tones to this banger.

Thunder frontman Danny Bowes duets with Sulo on ‘Nothing Can Change This Love’. With the lyrical sentiment and the sparse musicianship, it retains the soulful feel of the original, but it’s given the Diamond Dogs treatment.  A rendition that sounds like it was recorded 50 years ago, not six months ago.

‘Sugar Dumpling’ closes the album and is my favourite of these cover versions. Featuring Swedish rapper Papa Dee, they take to another level entirely. To me, it comes on like The Dave Clarke Five meets The Archies, classic 60’s pop and a surprise finale. What a tune!

 

‘Recall Rock ‘n’ Roll And The Magic Soul’ will not only satisfy Diamond Dogs fan who have been craving more material, it will also remind those who forgot exactly why we missed them in the first place.

Ok, so it may not be an album full of original material. But as the title suggests, this new album is a throwback to the roots and the influences of what made Diamond Dogs one of Sweden’s greatest musical exports. And that is something we should all celebrate.

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Author: Ben Hughes

The first new record from Lucas and his Subhumans in a while (Twelve Years?) and with the current global situation its not like Lucas has had writers block or lacking the inspiration.  Everywhere you look there’s a meltdown – climate change, government leaders lying, despots taking over, smiling, lying and cheating yet it seems OK to the public. Nobody loses their jobs its all fair game. Summed up nicely on ‘Fear & Confusion’. A more polished sounding record that their last outing ‘Internal Riot’ but it every bit as sharp and relevant.

To be fair Subhumans have always released intelligent records their Anarcho leanings have always been dressed really well in big riffs, tight time changes and some sharp as fuck punk rock. ‘Crisis Point’ seems apt as Lucas starts the war cry with the flurry of opening punches on ‘Terrorist In Waiting’ great lyrics (as usual) thunderous drumming and riffs raining down on the listener with an energy and excitement that sets the album up really well.

throughout the albums eleven tracks the ebb and flow is excellent.  I love the attitude on ‘Atom Screen War’ emanating from the riff as it pounds away but it’s nicely pinned by the bass thats rumbling away underneath.  To be fair the sound is reminiscent of the last few UK Subs albums. ‘Follow The Leader’ takes that edginess up a notch as the album has warmed up and is really taking flight. Strange land has the feel and sound the band had back in the ’80s with that flange riff and repetitive beat its a really good tune and one that shows how bloody good a band Subhumans are.

Its no good looking for a weakness because there isn’t one.  Its a really consistent album its focused and as you’d imagine thought provoking with excellent lyrics and a great production. ‘Crisis Point’ is ticking all the boxes whats not to like? If you want fast no nonsense heads down punk rock then Subhumans do that ‘Poison’ if you want intricate musicianship Subhumans can do that for you, if you want lyrics that are well constructed and thought provoking to prick your conscience subhumans can do that. They were a big part of that early ’80s punk explosion and are still going strong along with the Subs,  they always turned in better records than Crass and Conflict in my humble opinion and this record is proof that they are as relevant now as they always were. ‘Crisis Point’ can cover all your modern punk rock needs as well as you old school punks wondering if Dick has still got it.  Of course he has. My advice is get hold of ‘Crisis Point’ now and get on board its never too late. Buy it!

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Author: Dom Daley

 

Strung Out has been together for almost 30 years –You would be forgiven for thinking they are a new band such is the energy of these songs. Produced by Cameron Webb, who was behind the helm of 2009’s Agents of the Underground, it’s a record that has the fire of a new band.

The band are older (obviously) and dare I say it wiser. Yet they play like young men musically and lyricly they view a “big Picture”  as they struggle to make sense of the chaos of the world we live in.

Much of frontman Cruz’s lyrics come from the death of someone he was incredibly close to. That’s something which has exaggerated and exacerbated Cruz’s emotional fragility and continues the spiritual and philosophical journey he says he’s found himself on in recent years. At the same time, though, these songs are also infused with a spirit of hope and defiance.

“I lost my best friend six or seven months ago,” explains Cruz. “It was right before we started writing this record, and that really put a shadow on things. Some of these songs – especially “Monuments” and “Bloody Knuckles” – reflect that loss. But that’s what’s always made our band work. The music is this metal machine and then you get these vocals that express this vulnerability in a melodic way – and there’s love and there’s searching in all that machine. This record starts out hopeful and then it kind of degrades. It sobers and ends with loss. But there are so many things on this record that I’m still figuring it out.”

The albums starts with ‘Rebels And Saints’ and don’t get lulled into a false start becasue its a woven dash and the sunny Californian feel hits you. Melodic and fast. whilst ‘Daggers’ might be darker its almost punk metal in the riffs and pace it tells a story of personal turmoil within the backdrop of an increasingly dystopian America.  Strung Out’s trademark melody and aggression is more metal than Bad Religion and its ebb and flow is maintained throughout the album. Its not really a scene that has taken off massivly in the UK and has a very American feel to it songs like ‘Dissapearing City’ cross over as does the pacey and layered harmonies of ‘Politics Of Sleep’.

Penultimate track ‘Strange Notes’ is bordering on Anthrax metal thrashing mad with a frantic drum roll on the intro like I say some might say it ebbs and flows through the gears throughout the album whilst the next man might say its that constant ebb and flow that pulverises that detracts from the songs as there doesn’t seem too much light and shade throughout the three quarters of an hours worth of music. They could totally land a slot at Download though which might well help US punk cross over to the UK.

The band head out in support of the album for the rest of the year throughout North America where I’m sure they’ll hoover up audiences with their energy alone.  To be fair they’ve always had a tonne of energy  but this is a little more metallic that say ‘Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues’ that was just the right side of this frantic paced style of music.

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Author: Dom Daley

Strung Out will be making the following appearances this fall. Dates below.

SEPTEMBER

18 – Ybor, FL – Crowbar

19 – Gainesville, FL – The Wooly

20 – West Palm Beach, FL – Respectable Street

21 – Jacksonville, FL – 1904 Music Hall

22 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl

24 – Wilmington, NC – Reggie’s 42nd St.Tavern

25 – Virginia Beach, VA – The Bunker

26 – Baltimore, MD – Otto Bar

27 – Asbury Park, NJ – Asbury Lanes

28 – New York, NY – Le Poisson Rouge

29 – Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall

OCTOBER

01 – Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall

02 – Montreal, QC – Club Soda

03 – Quebec City, QC – La Source

04 – Ottawa, ON – The 27 Club

05 – Toronto, ON – The Opera House

06 – London, ON – London Music Hall – Rum Runners

08 – Pittsburgh, PA – The Crafthouse Stage & Grill

09 – Detroit, MI – Small’s

10 – Chicago, IL – Cobra Lounge

11 – St. Paul, MN – Turf Club

12 – Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room

13 – Englewood, CO – Gothic Theatre

31 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre

NOVEMBER

01 – Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre

02 – Seattle, WA – El Corazon

03 – Boise, ID – The Olympic

04 – Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Music Hall

08 – Dallas, TX – Three Links

09 – Corpus Christi, TX – House of Rock

10 – Austin, TX – Come and Take It Live

12 – Scottsdale, AZ – Pub Rock

13 – Las Vegas, NV – Dive Bar

14 – San Diego, CA – Irenic

15 – Santa Barbara, CA – Velvet Jones

16 – Sacramento, CA – Holy Diver

17 – San Francisco, CA – Slim’s

19 – Fresno, CA – Strummer’s

20 – Morro Bay – The Siren

21 – Lancaster, CA – American Legion

22 – Garden Grove, CA – Garden Amp

23 – Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre

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Vancouver’s hard-rock icons ART OF DYING are set to release a new studio album, “Armageddon”, on the 4th October 2019. The album will be preceded by a new title track single taken from the album

The Art Of Dying story starts with their talismanic front man Jonny Hetherington. From hours busking on the corners of frozen streets to gatecrashing some of North America’s biggest venues, to writing and recording records of truly earth-shattering proportions, the trajectory of the quartet’s career has astonished both fans and industry insiders alike.

ART OF DYING have been able to create muscular, vivacious hard-rock bursting with lung-shattering choruses and a sincerity that is impossible to fake. Equally at home with a lead-fingered riff or a deft slow-burner, there is an ease of breadth in AOD’s repertoire.

“I was blown away when I first heard their independent record,” enthuses DISTURBED guitarist Dan Donegan. “I lived with it for quite a while and I was so impressed with the quality of the songwriting that I had a feeling there was something special going on. David (DISTURBED vocalist David Draiman) and I had been looking for someone to sign to our imprint for a while, but I wanted to make sure the guys could do it live – it’s hard to find a band that are the complete package these days. So, we invited them out on a DISTURBED tour of America, we really threw them in the deep end!”

The band introduced guitarist Tavis Stanley and bassist Cale Gontier to their ranks on the eve of the run with DISTURBED – the quartet playing onstage together for the very first time during the soundcheck of the opening show of the tour. But suddenly, everything clicked. “The moment I knew that we had it right was when our voices started harmonizing,” says Hetherington, of the band’s now-trademark three-way vocals for which David Draiman has dubbed them “Eagles in Chains” referencing a blend of 70s supergroup The Eagles and 90s grunge rockers Alice In Chains.

Now, with two critically-acclaimed and widely-played major label releases under their belts, Art Of Dying are returning with Full Length Album “Armageddon”, their most imperious effort to date. “It’s a dark record.” Says Jonny. “Even the cover art (featuring NYC artist Stefano Losi’s painting of Pharaoh Thutmose III) is inspired by the album title. Thutmose lead the historic battle in Megiddo, (aka Armageddon) the first war in history where proper records were kept and a body count was taken.”

Themes like “No One Ever Wins”, “Dark Days” and “Unoriginal” take the listener down to visit the depths of the deep end. But no Art of Dying record would be complete without the inspirational balance of spine-tingling anthems like new single “Armageddon”, “Cut It All Away” and “ShatterProof”.

Of first single “Armageddon” Jonny Hetherington says, “Life sucks. Life is beautiful. Writing Armageddon got me through a tough time and helped shake a few of the demons off my back. If you feel like your world is caving in, like you’re trapped in your own personal Armageddon, I hope you will find the strength to get out.”

If ARMAGEDDON is about one thing above all else it is a study on the power of human will and the uplifting capacity of one’s own self belief. This is rip-snorting rock ’n’ roll that will smash your self-doubt into a million pieces.

 

“Armageddon” is released through Get A Grip on the 4th October 2019. The new album is available to preorder now, including a limited transparent red vinyl pressing:
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It is a remake of the “Hip To Be Square” scene from American Psycho in which Emily puts herself in the place of the axe-wielding Patrick Bateman.

 

It’s such a glossy track that sounds sort of like Mazzy Starr meets Nick Cave & Patti Smith. It was produced by Stew Jackson of Massive Attack and comes from Emily’s new album ‘Rituals’ which is due out on September 6th on Sugar Shack Records.

 

She’s also had BBC 6 Music and Radio X airplay recently as well as some great press acclaim so far.

The third single from forthcoming Emily Breeze album Rituals (Out September 6th) is a shimmering indie pop anthem entitled “Work”. The glossy sonic exterior and radio friendly chorus act as a foil for the ice cold cynicism and pitch black humour of the lyrics which were inspired by Patrick Bateman (American Psycho) and Emily’s own experiences of hauling herself out of bed every morning to make a pointless profit for somebody else.

 

The video for the single re-enacts the American Psycho “Hip To Be Square” scene with axe-wielding Emily taking the place of Patrick Bateman. The refrain ‘I’m dead inside’ repeats amidst washed out guitar noise as we’re left with Emily covered in blood, her victim laid out on the floor.

Emily’s first two singles “Limousines” and “Ego Death” received airplay from Radio X, BBC Introducing in the West, Tom Robinson (BBC Radio 6) and led to Emily being described as “Nancy Sinatra on Ketamine” (Louder than War) and “a 21st Century Patti Smith” (Tom Robinson BBC Radio 6).

Produced by Bristol luminary Stew Jackson writer, producer for Massive Attack, who has also worked with Tom Waits, Patti Smith and Nick Cave and performed by Emily’s Stellar Band of Rob Norbury (lead guitar), Andy Sutor (drums), Graham Dalzell (bass) and Duncan Fleming (keys/synth), “Work” is the soundtrack to the world gradually falling apart in an absurd state of late capitalism, insurmountable admin, antidepressants and unreachable targets.

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I’ve been a huge fan of Ricky Warwick for a long time and have enjoyed whatever music he has put out whether it’s the loud punk-metal of The Almighty or his storytelling solo albums and what we now come to know the great rock’n’roll of the Black Star Riders.

On the first trio of the Black Star riders albums, the songs have been largely co-written by Ricky and guitarists Damon Johnson and the legend that is guitar slinger Scott Gorham.

So it was a surprise when it was let known that Damon Johnson was moving on to pastures new and that the vacant guitar player slot was being filled by Christian Matrucci who is guitarist of Stone Sour and also to my delight I have discovered he has had various bands of his own over the years which I have found too have released top draw music but the question is  would he gell with Black Star Riders.

Fear, not Christian has not only fitted in but the music is all the better for it.

Starting off this new album titled “Another State Of Grace” we have the track “Tonight The Moonlight Let Me Down” and immediately the ears are treated to a great guitar riff and Ricky’s trademark gruff vocal. Scott and Christian’s guitar mesh together beautifully to create a great rock’n’roll sound and we even have some saxophone added into the mix which fits in perfectly.

On track two we get the song “Another State Of Grace” which was the first song to be released as a single and this song has a big Celtic sound to it with a backing chant of “hey” being shouted which really makes the track stand out.

Up next we have “Ain’t The End Of The World” which is the second single to be released and this track has what I would call the classic Thin Lizzy sound with Scott Gorham’s trademark guitar all over it yet has a freshness that while takes you back to the glory days of Thin Lizzy it also shows how the Black star riders are very much their own band with their own identity.

“Underneath The Afterglow” starts off with a great classic rock guitar riff with a great vocal by Ricky and what strikes me is how Christian’s backing vocals go together so well with Ricky’s that you would think they have been in a band together for years.

“Soldier In The Ghetto” is up next and this track adds a funky intro before relaxing back into a great Black Star riders chorus and shows a band that’s not afraid to mix things up a bit but when they do they do it well.

“Why Do You Love Your Guns” slows the pace down a bit with a beautifully crafted acoustic guitar intro before a crunchy electric guitar riff is introduced to build the song up and a great passionate vocal by Ricky makes this track another winner.

Next up we have “Standing In The Line Of Fire” and this track picks the pace back up with some pounding drums and driving bass and a shredding guitar solo that makes this a great rock song.

“What Will It Take?” is another track which features acoustic guitar mixed with electric to add to a song with great harmonies. Also, we have some great female backing vocals which yet again add another dimension to the Black star riders sound.

“In The Shadow Of The War Machine” is a awesome rocker of a track with some real biting guitar and lyrics that describe the troubled times we are living in yet even though this is a serious song it still has the great harmonies and an uplifting chorus that I hope to hear live on the upcoming tour.

Finishing off the album is the track “Poisoned Heart” and this is how an album should be finished off and that is with style with Ricky’s soaring vocals backed with great backing vocals from Christian and great all-round work from the rest of the band making sure this album goes out with a bang.

Overall words are hard to describe how great this album is because every song on here is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser with no weak tracks or filler to be heard anywhere.

This is a great album that on repeated listens is an album that will keep on giving and in this reviewer’s opinion is Black Star Riders finest work to date.

Buy ‘Another State Of Grace’ Here

Author: Gareth ‘Hotshot’ Hooper

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