Houston – II

Photographer Linda Åkerberg

Photographer Linda Åkerberg

Not to be mistaken with the excellent Italian band Houston!, the Swedish band of the same name earned plenty of acclaim and deserved praise with their self-titled debut album. Consisting of melodically enflamed passion drenched songs  the release soon found its place at the top spot on the Classic Rock Magazine’s top AOR albums of 2010, whilst Houston went on to garner further recognition through live performances including a successful tour of the UK the following year. Now they return with their imaginatively named second album II, building on that strong plateau with more potent melodic rock which will feed the needs of all AOR, Foreigner, Journey, and Survivor fans.

With producer/keyboard player Ricky Delin becoming a full band member for the new album alongside vocalist Hank Erix and drummer Freddie Allen, the album again sees the band bringing in some of the best Swedish melodic rock musicians including Tommy Denander for the majority of the guitar work and long-time band associate Soufian Ma’Aoui on bass. Also featured across the ten tracks are the likes of Calle Hammer and Jay Cutter, whist offering backing vocal talent there is Victor Lundberg, Geir Ronning, Jessa Slatter, Kristoffer Lagerstrom, and Catharina Lindqvist. Released via Livewire/Cargo Records, the album is a flourish of melodic might and striking songwriting from start to finish and as mentioned if their genre is your chosen pleasure, the release is like aural manna at best and poetic expression in its least dramatic breaths.

As the opener Glory shows, there is also plenty to entice for those of us with a heart stoked by more aggressive and intensive delights. Houston_II_CoverThe track immediately engulfs the ear with the outstanding keys and craft of Delin, their embrace a soaring pull of the senses into the heart and sky of the song where they find the fine vocals of Erix courted by accomplished guitar flames and an inviting bass stroll. Whether the song offers anything new or unexpected, which can be applied to the album as a whole, can be debated between AOR enthusiasts and the more casual visitor, but undoubtedly the skill of the band and poise of the song leaves the senses more than eager to indulge the album in greater depths.

The strong start is followed by I’m Coming Home, the recently released to strong responses first single from the album. Vocal harmonies and the ever persuasive keys shape a vibrant and emotive narrative to enjoy with real appetite though there is a strong familiarity to something elsewhere, though at this point in time it escapes definition.  It makes a good appetiser for both Return My Heart and Talk To Me, the first a keen but restrained melodic blaze with anthemic lures whilst the second merges power ballad grandeur with a smouldering temptation with female backing vocals adding an extra kiss of warmth to the emotive embrace.

The likes of the expansive yet precisely honed 24 Hours and the radiant Losing with a great bass tone from Ma’Aoui marking its territory, leave the ear basking in pleasing heat and melodic prowess but all are blown away by Just Friends, the best track on the album. Led by the delicious tones of Minnah Karlsson, a Stevie Nicks lilt raising their potency, the song is a thrilling wind of dual vocals and harmonies, Karlssson and Erix complimenting perfectly to lift the passion and heights of the song to lofty levels whilst musically the track wraps their seduction with equally magnetic textures and charm.

With the easily accessible and infectious Believe closing off the album, II is a release which will leave AOR fans basking in its open triumphs and the rest of us admiring its craft and alluring presence though maybe more from afar than close up. Definitely for and recommended to every fan of Michael Bolton to Foreigner, Styx to Journey.

www.facebook.com/Houstonsweden

7.5/10

RingMaster 04/09/2013

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Triggerman: Hail To The River Gods

With the rhythmic bombardment of a Black Tusk, the monster riffs of a Mastodon, and the mischievous grooves of a Red Fang, we bring you arguably the most exciting release of the year in Hail To The River Gods from Northern Ireland stomp rioters Triggerman. The seven track release is a monster of an album which simply lights up all the senses, accelerates the heart, and has limbs doing movements only the devil could have designed. If the likes of the bands previously mentioned and those of Orange Goblin, Clutch, and EyeHateGod ring your bell, Triggerman will be your next orgasmic pleasure.

Hail To The River Gods is the third album from a band formed in 2002, with the current line-up of vocalist and guitarist Bap, guitarist Niall, bassist Dixie, and Rory on drums, in place since 2009, give or take a month or two. It follows the critically acclaimed Brand New Day of 2010, a release which had the likes of Metal Hammer and Classic Rock Magazine drooling. Heavier than a mud slide and more rampant than a dog in heat with the moves to match, the album is a senses tenderising thrill of metal, stoner, and classic rock with plenty of other additives to spice the unbridled enjoyment. It is a release which is not trying to invent or re-design anything, just one wanting to unleash the biggest towering grooves and riffs known to mankind, which it does with accomplished skill and energy.

The Derry quartet opens up with Rage Of The Goddess and immediately seize hold with eager welcoming rolling rhythms and fiery guitar chords. The vocals of Bap soon enter to begin the tale of the title, a mythological air soaking every word though at times any woman scorned can fit the story; yeah we have all been there guys. His delivery throughout the release is a spoken growl in a similar style to Jello Biafra which adds to the muscular and raw energy of each and every song, verbal and musical biceps flexing with every word and note. The constantly agitated fury of the drums is a hypnotic pull whilst the guitars and bass unleash crushing hungry riffs with ease. The glorious solo which scorches the air as the song reaches its climax leaves the scent of burnt flesh in its wake which lingers whilst the track evolves into its successor.

      Rise Of The Woodsmen is a storming assault, a raging onslaught dripping sweat, power, and menace like its subjects. For two and a half minutes the track works every sinew within its colossal body, riffs bulldozing everything in sight and grooves sparking fires, their melodic embers showering the skies. The song is a worker, a track which gets things done without distraction or obstruction and loving every damn minute of it, which ensures we do too.

Every song on the album is immense and the provider of infectious glory but some do stand on the top step above others, such is the case with the title track. Hail To The River Gods is a song which with its story of men going off to sea and paying homage and prayers to the River Gods for protection, is rife with absorbing folk metal spicery. At times it teeters on the edge of pirate metal with essences of Alestorm raising their bones. The song is a prowling stomp, again a hard working beast of a track which reflects the energy and muscle of its content.

     Th’on Strange Brew is a magnetic treat, its stoner grooves sirenesque and thicker than tar. The fumes the guitars conjure with their riled riffs overwhelm and intoxicate the senses and with the rhythms inciting the devil inside and a groove which unleashes a wanton wickedness, the track is a wonderful danger to man and beast.

The sixties blues tinged pagan breath of Flower Of Life takes another contagious diversion as the album again shows diversity whilst the closing pair of the brilliant Wake The Dead and Blind Side Of The Moon twist and bewitch the ear with insidious intent. The first of the pair is a fury of anthemic rhythms and aggressively driven riffs, a charging call to arms which is irresistible and the second a sludge flavoured prowl which drags its listener through every treacle thick shadow and oppressive dark corner within its oppressive heart. Wake The Dead emerges as favourite song on the album but all leave nothing but deep pleasure.

Quite simply Hail To The River Gods is one of the best releases this year and Triggerman our new best friends. Go discover them for yourselves and join their addicted ranks too.

http://www.triggerman.co.uk

RingMaster 29/08/2012

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Furyon: Gravitas

You can hear great things about a band as the promotion wagon behind starts its mighty trail enticing the eyes of the world but until you finally get your ears upon the sounds of said band do you obviously find the depth to the truth. With UK rock band Furyon the words written certainly do justice to the band and an album that is deeply impressive and thoroughly uplifting.  Gravitas strikes up the heart with an engaging bounty of rock sounds sourced from their hearts and the world around bringing influences and flavours from across multiple genres. The release is a mighty slab of songs infused with heavy metal, prog, and classic rock as well as some tasty metal touches, all flavours the band from Brighton cut their musical tastes upon.

Having evolved and grown over a few years Furyon entered a studio in Atlanta in 2009 with Platinum selling US Producer Rick Beato (Shinedown, Fozzy and Vince Neil), the result from this vibrant link-up and creative meeting being Gravitas. A limited run of 2000 copies of the album took them to the attention of the likes of Metal Hammer and Classic Rock magazine, each featuring tracks on their over mounted CDs. Two videos followed, one for the subsequent single Disappear Again, each again grabbing more and more eager acclaim and attention, and all the time the band reinforced this tide of recognition with blistering live shows and appearances at the likes of Bloodstock, Hard Rock Hell, Hammerfest, and High Voltage. Now following a management deal with Germany’s Rock N Growl and a link up with Frontiers Records Gravitas gets its full debut and rock music is set to feel a new breath of freshness following through its veins.

Consisting of vocalist Matt Mitchell, guitarists Chris Green and Pat Heath, bass guitarist Alex Bowen and drummer Lee Farmery, Furyon grab the ear from the opening guitar invitations of opener Disappear Again and never releases until it is ready to depart when it chooses. The song epitomises the whole album, infectious, intelligent and unafraid to court the ear with addictive melodies, heavily loaded riffs, and a catchiness which is hard to deny submission to. The song has a sound seemingly melded from the likes of Adrenaline Mob, Alice In Chains and Soundgarden with extra classic rock essences, a mesh that ensures nothing but keen attention going its way.

Following track Stand Like Stone immediately shows the diversity to the band and sound, its heavy tumbling rhythms and formidable metallic riffs thunderous as they burst through the ear. With a groove that beckons like a loose woman the song fills every pore with well crafted melodies and the impressive vocals of Mitchell. In two songs he sets the quality of his tones and delivery high something that never drops throughout the album. The guitars and melodies are quite wanton, eager to excite and thrill, which they do with incredible songwriting skill and realisation.

Songs like the excellent Souvenirs with its lovely deep crusty bass lines, New Way Of Living offering a glorious hard rock/grunge majesty, and the mesmeric Wasted On You, come and go with wonderful quality and the ability to light up the senses. Gravitas is an album despite or rather due to its open diversity and adventure that has a consistency which is refreshing, not once does any of their ideas or surprising avenues fail to connect fully. There is one track that eclipses all though and that is the magnificent Desert Suicide, a song not as obvious as others maybe but one which marks the band already as a mighty addition to rock and gives evidence of what they will yet evolve into. The song meanders in with a mystical and a subdued atmosphere, the guitars slow to reveal themselves fully and the vocals reserved. Soon it evolves into a mighty beast of sound, slowly pacing around the ear before its muscular legs start to run with the senses though it never explodes outright. The song is truly stunning, addictive and unpredictable; the height of invention without indulgence, a stirring animal that remains inside long after the album departs.

Gravitas is an essential investigation for all rock fans; an album that only raises one question. If they sound this great with songs at least two years old how impressive must their new material be? Furyon will be massive, no question so join the ride from the start by grabbing yourself some Gravitas.
www.furyon.net

RingMaster 19/03/2012

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