THIS WEEK’S NEW ALBUMS REVIEWED | FEATURE
Weight Of The False Self (Nuclear Blast)
Connecticut hardcore legends Hatebreed have rarely deviated from their crossover/metal sound, and now with a staggering 26-year history behind them this is not likely to change. In an ever-changing world, perhaps familiarity is what is needed right now. At the same time, they are a band which tends to peak and trough, but with 2016’s The Concrete Confessional – and now new album Weight Of The False Self – the band are peaking once again.
Hefty riffs and pummelling double bass drums combine effortlessly with the unmistakable groove Hatebreed have become synonymous with, all harnessed together by Jamey Jasta’s rasping vocal style. Weight… is an album which can stand proudly next to the likes of fan favourite Perseverance quite easily: when this album is unleashed in the live arena, Hatebreed moshpits will be a very dangerous place to be indeed.
words CHRIS ANDREWS
When two genres collide, the result can often be catastrophic… but this is not the case with the sixth album from Finland’s Pharaoh Overlord [pictured], a duo of Jussi Lehtisalo and Tomi Leppanen (both also of fellow experimental Finns Circle) joined by American metal vocalist Aaron Turner. Its apt title conceals unlikely hybrids: this is Jean-Michel Jarre meets Slipknot, or Tangerine Dream meets In Flames, or Earthstar meets Lamb Of God with a touch of ATB.
Yet as much as 6 echoes the past, it sits firmly in the present. The music is hypnotic, the vocals are psychotic but somehow rather than jarring or startling the listener, they blend. Almost. Written at the start of the pandemic, 6 offers a lyrical response to separation and isolation but the sound is surprisingly uplifting. I couldn’t decipher most of the words but could easily listen to this multi-layered offering to the god of Krautrock on repeat for the beat alone.
words LYNDA NASH
Tiny Men Parts (Bubblewrap)
It’s seven years since Quiet Marauder released their epic 111-track (that’s one hundred and eleven tracks) debut Men, of which Tiny Men Parts is a severely pared back, far less time-consuming offcut. The Cardiff-based six-piece have been likened to Half Man Half Biscuit, and it’s not long before that influence shows up in I Want A Moustache, Dammit. And what is their fascination with eggs? There’s a whole clutch of them in, yes, Eggs!, and the limited edition version of this release comes in ‘fried egg’ coloured vinyl, which is to say white with a yellow label.
The aim of Tiny Men Parts was to capture the “sweaty joviality of a dive bar gig” and it succeeds – like a group of friends having a singsong at the end of a party. Unfortunately, Quiet Marauder have gone from one extreme to the other because at under 25 minutes, it’s all over too quickly and I didn’t want the party to end.
words LYNDA NASH
Singled Out (BMG)
One fad typically overlooked when reviewing the 1970s is the rock’n’roll revival. Underpinning glam and punk (Marc Bolan and the Sex Pistols were both huge Eddie Cochran fans, for example), a renewed interest in the 1950s saw Chuck Berry score his only UK chart-topper and acts such as Showaddywaddy rarely out of the Top 30.
Someone else keeping the r’n’r flag flying was Cardiff’s Michael Barrett, aka Shakin’ Stevens, who went on to became the biggest selling UK singles artist of the 1980s. ‘Shaky’ cut his teeth with Welsh rock’n’roll act The Sunsets in the 1960s, but his big break came when he was cast as mid-period Presley in hip-swingin’ West End musical Elvis. Four No.1s and 33 Top 40 singles followed; the 54-track, triple-CD Singled Out brings together all of his singles chronologically, beginning with 1977’s Never, and acts as a more manageable taster for the more comprehensive 19-disc Fire In The Blood box set.
All those clean-edged twangers like Green Door, This Ole House and Oh Julie are included, of course, with the more precise programmed tracks ageing badly. However, Justine and Hot Dog are a blast, while recent cuts such as the bluesy country of Down Into Muddy Water and the stomping Down In The Hole are tougher and more appealing than you perhaps might imagine.
Despite the lack of sleevenotes, Singled Out nonetheless offers a perfect overview of Shaky’s remarkable post-Sunsets career – cheese and all. But if you’re not already a firm fan, you might be better served by heading back to the source: those raw Elvis, Buddy and Eddie jukebox cuts that originally fired up the teenage Shaky.
words DAVE FREAK
Good Night Songs For Rebel Girls (Decca)
Inspired by the bestselling book series and podcast, Good Night Songs For Rebel Girls is an impressive collection of covers penned by primarily female singer-songwriters, many iconic feminist anthems to boot, and features tracks from recording powerhouses like Macy Gray, Anastacia and KT Tunstall as well as some lesser-known, cult favourites. While most of the covers follow the slow acoustic treatment, a standout on this record is Tank & The Bangas’ reggae reimagining of Nina Simone’s classic Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood. A firm favourite of NPR Tiny Desk fans and Michelle Obama alike, the slam poet and her band reflect the soul of the original in an unexpected and upbeat way.
Alongside a beautiful stripped-down version of Brass In Pocket performed by Ani DiFranco and an exclusive rerecording of Joan Jett’s own track Fresh Start, this sprinkling of gems is just enough to offset a few uninspired, John Lewis ad-esque piano versions of songs, and the two separate covers of Beautiful by Christina Aguilera that bookmark the album in a messy, seemingly unplanned way. With an uplifting message at its heart to empower and instil confidence in a generation of girls, Good Night Songs For Rebel Girls’ intentions are good but the album doesn’t quite hit the mark.
words BECKY ADDIS