Voodoo Highway – Showdown

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The album Broken Uncle’s Inn when released two years ago set Voodoo Highway apart from many other similarly clad heavy melodic rock bands, its acclaimed appearance drawing excited responses from fans, media, and notable exponents of the genre such as former Rainbow/Black Sabbath/Gary Moore bassist Craig Gruber. It was a thrilling and hungry release which ignited strong interest of people beyond the confines of classic rock. The Italian quintet now returns with the follow-up and it has to be said that Showdown takes all the great things on the debut to greater accomplished heights. Again it offers so much to lure in and keep the passions of the widest appetites alive just this time with even more devious craft and magnetic enterprise.

Founded in 2010, Voodoo Highway has been showered with eager recognition, even being called “the new Deep Purple”. Their stage presence and destructive stage tendencies has left a trail of acclaim across Italy and their sounds the same throughout the radio veining of Europe, South America, USA, and Japan, with Broken Uncle’s Inn the focal point until now. Showdown is another big step forward, one which again can be argued is not setting new boundaries for classic rock but undoubtedly is invigorating it with a heart and energy it has debatably been long missing.

Released via Dust On The Tracks Records, the new album stands proud as it storms the ear with opener This Is Rock’n’roll, CD BookletWankers!, riffs rhythms, keys, and vocals rousing up the senses with anthemic might and infectious melodic temptation. It is exactly what its title declares, a riotous brawl of middle finger poised rock with flames of precise fiery guitar enterprise and equally transfixing organ weaves within a bruising yet passion igniting confrontation.  The track has a swagger and balls to the wall intensity which recruits limbs and voice for a full engagement, a triumphant and irresistible start to the release.

The following Fly To The Rising Sun with its heavy bulging basslines and thumping riffs continues the compelling call of the album whilst Midnight Hour builds on the already impressive start by soaking the ear in seventies cloaked melodic persuasion and an imagination capturing intensive groove flanked by the ever growling bass of Filippo Cavallini. It is an excellent piece of familiarity entwined within inventive mystique and compelling aural adventure, the guitar of Matteo Bizzarri, as throughout the album, continually changing the face of the song whilst the drums of Vincent Zairo snap the head back on a well-used neck with a firm and hypnotic provocation or beckoning, usually both simultaneously.

Both Could You Love Me and Wastin’ Miles secure thoughts and hunger with their accomplished bodies, the keys of Alessandro Duo’ especially making enticing suggestions in the first though he again is never less than mesmeric across all tracks, and the continuing to impress vocals of Federico Di Marco driving the heart of each song with masterful expression and passion. Neither reaches the heights of those before or of the following pair of Church Of Clay and Mountain High, but never have less than a strong grip on attention and the ability to satisfy. The first of their successors is the biggest highlight of the album, the song from resonating heady bass prods and ambience stirring guitars stalking and ravaging the senses with greedy riffs and predatory rhythm whilst keys and vocals light the surface with melodic blazes which smoulder and burn alternately. Playing with and upon thoughts and emotions, the track paints a colour rich picture with the lyrical and melodic narrative whilst the sounds soundtrack its arrival with skill and contagious imagination. Mountain High follows with similar intent, its sinews making a target of the ear whilst the keys and sonic endeavour eases the scarring. As with most tracks its touch is easy and from a familiar well but it just adds a warmer addictive hook to be caught upon whilst the ingenious extras like the gothic occult rock like wash of the keys in this song throwing an wonderful unexpected spanner in the works of assumption.

From this point in many ways the rest of the album does lack the same punch and attention gripping strength already attained but certainly tracks such as the insatiable Cold White Love and A Spark From The Sacred Fire only give full pleasure and high octane fuelled adventure. Completed by the very decent Prince Of Moonlight and two bonus tracks in the shape of Till It Bleeds and the ever brilliant Broken Uncles Inn, you have an album sure to exhaust the passions of all melodic rock fans. Showdown is an excellent storm of rock n roll which from within the art work wrap of graphic designer Storm Thorgerson, brings an impossible to resist rampage to the year, the claws of Voodoo Highway digging deeper than ever.

https://www.facebook.com/WhoDoHighway

8.5/10

RingMaster 30/04/2013

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Raven Lord: Descent To The Underworld

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    Looking at the line-up of Raven Lord it is impossible not to imagine and expect their debut album to be a rather accomplished and imaginative slab of creativity, and Descent To The Underworld certainly does not disappoint. It is a thunderous expanse of riffs fired by a furnace of melodic might and invention, an explosion of classic metal all fans of the genre will expel a full passion for.

The sextet consists of the fiery vocals of Csaba Zvekan (Killing Machine, Sardonyx, Emergency), guitarist George Karafotis (Vermillion Days, Operation X), bassist Jamie Mallender (Tony Martin Band, ex-Black Sabbath), keyboardist Alessandro Duo (Voodoo Highway), drummer Lawrence Paterson (Blaze Baley, Iron Knights), and newest member lead guitarist Joe Stump (HolyHell, Reign of Terror). Together they have ignited a sound which combines power metal and neo classical influences to their core heavy metal heart for a towering encounter which commands the ear. Released via Mausoleum Records, the Zvekan produced and Fredrik Nordström (At The Gates, Arch Enemy, Nightrage, In Flames, Dream Evil and Opeth) mixed Descent To The Underworld is a continually enthralling album which offers plenty to reward anyone with a taste for melodic metal if not the genre it is settled in. It is a muscular confrontation at times which sparks as much enthusiasm as the sonic and melodic flames which sear and engross the senses throughout.

The album opens with the compelling charge of pulsating bassline, tightly grasping riffs, and warm mesmeric caresses from the keys CD ArtWork - Descent To The Underworldof The Rebel. The track is soon blazing with the expansive vocals of Zvekan who rings the emotion and sound from every note with skill and passion to match the guitar play of Stump. It is an impressive start to the release which immediately confirms expectations and more which were in place over the formidable line-up.

Through the likes of Attila the Hun with its Middle Eastern kiss from the keys and surging sonic enterprise, the mesmeric Seal Of The Cross with its symphonic gait, and the rampant hunger and energy of Promised Land, the album persistently offers variety and smouldering imagination to keep a strong intrigue and unpredictability within the umbrella of classic metal electricity. The latter of the trio is an outstanding brawl of seductive mysterious keys, ravenous riffs, and evocative solo mastery from Stump which leaves one breathless.

Further greater highlights come with the majestic yet corrosive Black Friar and the riveting Metal Knights, another song where the keys wash the senses with a golden glow of Eastern promise from within an exhausting drive of devouring riffs and caging rhythms. Both tracks show the band at its best creatively and musically with the vocals of Zvekan certainly in the latter of the two, scorching the small hairs from the surface of the ear with his sonic squalls which run the fine line between pain and bliss for great results.

Descent To The Underworld is an album fans of the likes of Dio, Yngwie Malmsteen, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath will find a rich home within but it also has plenty to keep those of us who do not necessarily find the deepest of riches in classic metal more than satisfied. Raven Lord is a band destined to lead their chosen genre in the near future.

www.raven-lord.com

www.facebook.com/ravenlordmusic

7/10

RingMaster 20/02/2013

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Voodoo Highway – Broken Uncle’s Inn

The first thing The Ringmaster Review should say is that hard rock is not a favoured genre here, the apparently required squealing vocals and overblown solos more a turn off than a positive. So with an expectant unease the debut album from Italian rockers Voodoo Highway was given access to the speakers. Let us say right now before moving on that Broken Uncle’s Inn emerged as a thoroughly pleasurable experience and most of all was very enjoyable. It is an album that delivers the expected but with more surprises and thoughtful ideas than most current hard rock releases currently.

Italy is becoming an emerging arena for rock bands with alongside Voodoo Highway bands like Blueville and Hungryheart coming through adding a new breath of fresh air to the genre. Voodoo Highway look set to lead and reach far outside their homeland and European boundaries with an album that brings the best in great riffs, absorbing basslines and rhythms, strong vocals, and infectious catchy songs.  Broken Uncle’s Inn shows exactly why we all like surprises and unexpected pleasures.

There is a definite 70’s rock feel to the release especially with the Hammond organs and pleasing keyboards from Alessandro Duo but it is fused with a modern intent and vibrancy that lifts it from the formula approach of most. The vocals of Federico Di Marco are also an added pleasure, yes at times he ventures close to the expected squeals and high pitched attack but only as a spice to his controlled and well delivered approach.

The album starts with an intro that really has meaning only to the band and is certainly not needed, but they are not the first or will be the last to use the start of a release for their own brief indulgency and there is no harm done when the songs that follow are as strong as on Broken Uncle’s Inn.  

   ‘Till It Bleeds’ is the first full song, solid and satisfying but without bringing anything new to the table. It does though show a quintet of musicians who can play skilfully and artistically, the guitars of Di Marco and Matteo Bizzarri very impressive. It is the wonderfully soulful ‘The Fire Will Burn Away’ that sets the album alight from which it never extinguishes again. The bass of Filippo Cavallini giving a deeply pulsing energy to the track alongside the structured rhythms of drummer Lorenzo Gollini.

The best tracks on the album are ‘J.C. Superfuck’ and ‘Windows’ which side by side make an inspired peak within the release. The first of the two is a robust tireless party with wicked overtones; it is fun and siren like in its hooks and chorus, a track that urges many repeated plays. The latter track starts off with a burst of keys that recall The Doors and though out the track the swirling sounds holds a blend of Doors/ELP and again beckons the listener in eagerly. Both songs demand and get solid praise.

Every track is consistent and engaging from the theatrical title track to the emotive ‘Heaven With No Stars’ and all between and surrounding.  Broken Uncle’s Inn is an unexpected joy which has awoken a belief in The Ringmaster Review that hard rock is not a lost cause and has some good inspiration in the shape of bands like Voodoo Highway. Watch out for this band you will be hearing a lot more from them, guaranteed.

Broken Uncle’s Inn is available now with distribution via Voodoo Highway and Rock N Growl.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/VOODOO-HIGHWAY/107889722591097

www.rockngrowl.com

Pete RingMaster 15/07/2011

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