New Releases Round Up

This week, we delve into the new Iron Maiden single, celebrate three anthologies, contemplate a Vince Neil covers album and put on the specs for the Rush DVD.

OK, let’s start by grabbing that thorn – the new Iron Maiden single. El Dorado (EMI). It’s being given away (yes, it’s free) at www.ironmaiden, and is supposed to whet the appetite for the upcoming album The Final Frontier. So…

Erm, well…OK, there are some decent bits here. The chorus sticks in your mind, the riff (reminiscent of Heart’s Barracuda) has a galloping chug. But what’s going on with Bruce Dickinson’s vocals? He sounds a little off colour, and at times appears to be really struggling. Of course, you can’t tell what the entire album is gonna be like from just one song. But it’s not the spectacle I was hoping for. Perhaps it all makes sense in the context of the whole record.

Erm, well…OK, there are some decent bits here. The chorus sticks in your mind, the riff (reminiscent of Heart’s Barracuda) has a galloping chug. But what’s going on with Bruce Dickinson’s vocals? He sounds a little off colour, and at times appears to be really struggling. Of course, you can’t tell what the entire album is gonna be like from just one song. But it’s not the spectacle I was hoping for. Perhaps it all makes sense in the context of the whole record.

Three triple CD retrospectives get us right back on track. All on EMI. We have A Tale Untold: The Chrysalis Years (1973-1976) from Robin Trower, Think About The Times: The Chrysalis Years (1968-1972) showcasing Ten Years After and Thank Christ For The Groundhogs: The Liberty Years (1968-1972) from The Groundhogs. All are essential reminders of how much quality music these artists were responsible for. Hopefully, they’ll also introduce a new generation to the charms of a trio of severely underrated talents.

It seems that the self-titled, debut album from Angel Witch (Universal) gets reissued every year, under some pretext. This time it celebrates the 30th anniversary of its first release.  But, you know what, it’s still a NWOBHM classic, and the years actually increase its power. Expanded here with a bonus CD, you’ve still gotta love White Witch, Atlantis and Gorgon. But the real clincher is the Chas & Dave style pub metal of their eponymous anthem. Gloriously gumby.

A covers album from Vince Neil might not exactly set the pulse racing, but Tattoos & Tequila (Frontiers) is actually quite good. Neil does an enthusiastic job on songs by the likes of The Sweet, ZZ Top, The Hollies and Sex Pistols (these are his roots, after all), and throws in two originals as well. One of these, the title track, could easily have graced the last Crue album, Saints Of Los Angeles.

Young Brits Void have an unpretentious approach to melodic hard rock. On Zero (Raven Black) the style is modern – you can see them onstage with Bullet For My Valentine or 69 Eyes – but their real coup is in writing the sort of songs that Def Leppard wouldn’t have thought too shabby in 1983. It’s almost Therapy? at the Cheap Trick crossroads selling their soul to Muse and Jeff Lynne. California’s Burning could be a career-changer for them, while Today is a slow, smouldering future classic.

Two more Halford reissues, both on the Metal God Entertainments label. Crucible was originally released in 2002. The second album from the band fronted by the Metal God, it’s not quite as powerful as its predecessor, 2000’s Resurrection, but it’s certainly got some truly striking metal moments. Now remixed and remastered, this is a fine testament to Rob Halford’s omni metal intentions.

Live In Anaheim is actually the soundtrack to the recent DVD of the same title. Recorded in 2003, the set is a mix of Halford, Fight and Judas Priest songs, all delivered with full-on thrust

Discreation are Germans who sound like a combination of early Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride, and recent Anathema. You could call it ambient doom – or amboom? Withstand Temptation (SAOL) is really powerful listen. But doesn’t a song title like Symphony Of Broken Bones sound like it belongs to the Cockney Rejects?

Finally, huge praise for the excellent Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage (Universal). It’s an informative, intelligent and entertaining DVD on the celebrated Canadians. Film makers Scott McFayden and Sam Dunn have set very high standards in the past, with Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey and Iron Maiden: Flight 666. This is right up there.

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