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Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Reviews: Steven Wilson, Prong, Voodoo Highway, Serperus (Reviews By Paul)

Steven Wilson: To The Bone (Caroline International P&D)

The sixth solo release from one of workaholic Steven Wilson sees him return to the progressive pop inspiration of his youth. Wilson has focused on the influence of artists like Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Tears For Fears and Talk Talk and the result is another beautifully crafted release. Tracks such as Nowhere Now retain the hard rock edge of previous releases whilst the pure beauty of Pariah with its dark undertones is enhanced by the support of Ninet Tayeb on guest vocals. With the usual cast of stunning musicians including Nick Beggs, Craig Blundell, Jeremy Stacey and Adam Holzman, the quality is of the standard we’ve come to expect from the perfectionist Wilson.

There is sufficient variety in the album to either embark on the full journey or dip in and out. It’s an album that works on all levels. The elements of indie synth rock such as Radiohead and Depeche Mode are evident throughout To The Bone, such as The Same Asylum As Before whilst the pop infused Permeating could sit on The Seeds Of Love. Wilson doesn’t do mediocre and To The Bone sits comfortably alongside the quality of his back catalogue. 9/10

Prong: Zero Days (Steamhammer)

It’s album number 12 from the American crossover thrashers Prong and maintains the band’s recent output of an album a year. Like every other Prong album, Zero Days is reliable and enjoyable. Tommy Victor’s energy and enthusiasm cannot be faulted and opener However It May End sets out the next forty-odd minutes. Zero Days is full of crunching riffs, an assault and battery on the senses which is not at all unpleasant. There’s also plenty of melody in this album. Check out The Whispers for evidence. The return of former bassist Mike Longworth, replacing Jason Christopher is the latest line-up change whilst Art Cruz continues behind the kit. Anthems abound throughout. Prong fill a much-needed hole in the metal market. Their continued efforts can only be applauded. 8/10

Voodoo Highway: The Ordeal (EU Import)

If you like your rock steeped in history and influenced by the classic rock giants whose presence still looms over the scene, then Italian’s Voodoo Highway should be a must have. The Ordeal is a short eight track release which mixes bits of Zeppelin, Purple and Bad Company but most importantly delivers with originality. The stomp of opener Litha, NY Dancer blend sweetly with the calmer Quietude. Frederico Di Marco has a voice that could melt the coldest heart. Clever use of keyboards ensure that the hard rock edge is retained whilst the layered sound appeals to those who welcome the lighter side of rock, especially on tracks such as The Rule. The Ordeal is well worth checking out. 8/10

Serperus: Infernal Seasons (697096 Records DK)

Think back to Evile’s debut release, Enter The Grave. Plenty of promise but with some rough edges. I had the same thoughts when listening to Liverpool outfit Serperus’s Infernal Seasons. A battering ram of old school thrash, with lots going on in the technical department. It’s fast and furious, but with one major flaw. Vocalist Joey Farrell’s delivery. Such is the resemblance to Slayer’s Tom Araya that it is nigh on impossible to focus on anything else. The scream on Into Ruin was almost perfect. Add in the cover of Spirit In Black and Infernal Seasons becomes too close to the thrash legends for comfort. 5/10

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