Sunday, 23 November 2014

Dioramic - Supra (Album Review)



Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 12/09/2014
Label: Pelagic Records

‘Supra’ CD/DD/LP track listing:

1). Xibalba (5:05)
2). Carpets On The Walls (3:55)
3). The Calm Before (4:55)
4). The Storm (4:56)
5). Worth (6:17)
6). Big Pump (5:38)
7). Melancholia (3:01)
8). Logbook (5:19)
9). Vortex Reflex (3:32)

Bio:

After the release of “Phase of Perplexity” in 2004 and “Technicolor” in 2010, which was produced by Kurt Ebelhäuser (Blackmail, Scumbucket), "Supra" is Dioramic's 3rd studio album.

The band’s songwriting has steadily evolved over the years, and "Supra" reflects - so far - the peak of this evolution: we are not exaggerating when we say it is a truly mind-blowing piece of heavy, intricate yet catchy music. Main songwriter Arkadi Zaslavski's talent has surprised friends, fans and journalists alike from the band's early days, when they won VISIONS magazine's "demo of the month" award.

In recent years, Dioramic have focused their activities on select support shows for bands like Meshuggah, Skindred, or Every Time I Die, as well as appearances at festivals like Highfield or Southside. The main reason why the band did not play out more was the enormous and rather time-consuming success of drummer Anton’s alter ego “Zedd”, who for understandable reasons could not keep up his commitment to Dioramic. That's why the band recently replaced him with Paul Seidel (War From A Harlot's Mouth), who also joined The Ocean a few months later.

The line-up issues explain the long creation phase of "Supra", which was already recorded in 2011, but could not be finished until end of 2013. Now it's done, and as we all know, haste makes waste!

"Supra" was recorded by Kurt Ebelhäuser at Tonstudio45, mixed by Moritz Enders at Tritonus and mastered by Robin Schmidt at 24-96 Studios

The Band:

Arkadi Zaslavski | Guitar, Vocals
Max Nicklas |
Bass, Vocals
Alex Mauch | Guitar, Vocals
Paul Seidel | Drums

Review:

Ten years on from their debut release ‘Phase of Perplexity’ and much has been made of the band’s evolving song writing capabilities in the build up to ‘Supra’, the supposed peak of their evolution. As a record in its own right, ignoring the expectancy that this record will usurp all previous offerings to be crowned king of them all, an array of superlative words could be bashed about with a giddy abandon. From the off, ‘Supra’ is an extremely diverse record, marrying seismic dynamics with illustrious serenity and thrashing riffs with groovy, unhinged freak-outs with an apparent ease.

While vocally, the genial, almost angelic sounds that wistfully emerge from Arkadi Zaslavski’s pipes make up the majority of the record’s plumage – something which will certainly be off putting for those in favour of a grittier holler – there is still plenty of dispersed aggression in amongst the feathers to contrast those tones. 

‘Xibalba’ is a magnificent opening track. Bursting from the seams with a djent-fashioned riff that segues beautifully into a verse baring comparisons to Muse, it twists every which way from here on out. Pigeon hole these guys, I dare you. The truth is, the more you study this band, the less linear they become. Across ‘Xibalba’s’ five minutes there are references to Cynic, Muse, Periphery, Metallica, Mastodon and so much more. It’s mind-boggling but so ingeniously crafted, so smoothly transitioned that you can’t help but be pulled along for the ride.  

‘The Calm Before’ has to be one of the most convincingly original compositions I’ve ever heard that wears its Muse influence as proudly as it does. It’s dark, brooding and ominous yet brilliantly alluring. ‘The Storm’ which follows boasts another groove infected riff, with sparse keyboards wrapping it all in a dream like atmosphere. As far as the vocals are concerned this is one of the heaviest on offer, with guitars meanwhile going from full fat chugs to manically all over the place runs when you least expect it.  

Elsewhere, ‘Worth’ provides perhaps the most commercially and accessibly potent song on the record. Rich in melody and emotion, it emphasises the band’s multiple-personality disorder. ‘Supra’ isn’t an easy record to define because of just how much these guys defy your expectations throughout. Just when you think you have a song sussed out, when you think you can see where they’re coming from, an ulterior motive rears its ugly head and has you scribbling out your notes like an uninspired novelist battling with a plot twist.

Signed to Pelagic Records, the brainchild of The Ocean’s Robin Staps, you expect this record to be comprised off the back of a towering ambition and delivered with a steely execution. Robin would have it no other way, surely? ‘Supra’ then, takes those expectations and smashes them against a brick wall, shattering them completely. Ambitious seems too soft a word to describe this multi-faceted animal, steel too weak a substance to describe its strength. Dioramic are unique band and this, you feel, is their defining moment.

Words: Phil Weller   

You can pick up a CD here and Vinyl here

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Twingiant - Devil Down (Album Review)



Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 2/12/2014
Label: Self Release/Medusa Crush Recordings

‘Devil Down’ DD/Tape track listing:

01. "Old Hag"
02. "Dead To Rights"
03. "Daisy Cutter"
04. "Through The Motions"
05. "Tiger Lily"
06. "Under A Blood Moon"
07. "Devil Down"

Bio:

Twingiant is a Phoenix, Arizona based loud and heavy band that formed in the spring of 2010. Since its inception, the band has refined its sound from a conceptual stoner rock template to 70’s rock-based guitars meets modern sludge metal. The band consists of Jarrod Le Blanc (Vocals/Bass), Tony Gallegos (Guitars), Nikos Mixas (Guitars) and Jeff Ramon (Drums).
 
To date, they have released a full-length LP (Mass Driver) and a 4-song EP (Sin Nombre) and will release their 2nd full-length entitled Devil Down in December of 2014. Both Mass Driver and Sin Nombre received excellent reviews from numerous blogs and fans alike. Twingiant has played numerous shows locally and out of state both headlining and in support of larger acts to include but not limited to, Windhand, Pallbearer, Metal Church, Satan’s Satyrs and even Guttermouth. Twingiant recently played Southwest Terror Fest III which included such acts as Neurosis, Sunn0))), Goatsnake and -(16)-.  

Twingiant has plans to tour in the fall and record material for a split EP in 2015

Twingiant is:

Jarrod Le Blanc | Vocals, Bass
Tony Gallegos | Guitars
Nikos Mixas | Guitars
Jeff Ramon | Drums

Review:

Fall has hit and winter is on its tail. The naked trees reach high into the sky like the thick November mist, the smoke from the Devil’s cigarette, weaves its way through the bare branches of the trees. The skies are overcast and hanging so low you think you can touch them. The heaviness of the darkest days of the year begin to take their toll. The ground starts to rumble like a beating heart; thu-thump, thu-thump. As the rumbling gets louder a figure slowly appears out from the fog. This might have been what they were talking about on the news. Take cover, Twingiant has come to town.

Twingiant opens their new album, “Devil Down,” with a dark trudge of ominous foreboding. “Old Hag” is a slow, psychedelic groove that is drenched in watery reverb. As the song builds, the lava lamps are traded in for black candles and the tie-dye for black robes. All other things that celebrate peace and love get crushed to dust once Jarrod starts growling “baby, maybe I’m crazy, only time will tell” on the album’s second cut, “Dead to Rights.” The tone and theme have been set; there’s a heavy darkness abound and you’re being plagued by paranoia.

Up next is “Daisy Cutter,” the band’s lead off single that The Sludgelord streamed here a few weeks ago. This is where Twingiant takes a page out of Red Fang’s book and finds the perfect balance between heavy as fuck and catchy as hell. They do it again on “Tiger Lily,” but because this song is peppered with twin guitars, a wah guitar solo, and a growl summoned from the depths of hell, there’s more at play. There’s a tip of the hat to classic metal, a high five with the Palm Desert, and sharing a bong hit with Kalas. The album’s intensity is palpable but even the wicked need a moment to rest. Twingiant employ slide and acoustic guitars on the track “Under a Blood”, painting a picture of a sunset over the Arizona desert.

Though Twingiant's “Devil Down” is a heavy record, it is a varied platter. The instrumentals are like flickers of light that make an otherwise dark forest pitch black and impossible to see through. That’s exactly what’s happened here as “Under a Blood Moon” is followed by the album’s title track to close things down. The heaviness of “Devil Down’s” mid-tempo march carries like a casket on the shoulders of a pallbearer. Jarrod growls “black heart, red sky” over and over like a mantra before handing things over to an instrumental outro.

Twingiant’s new album “Devil Down” is a moody affair, pairing heavy darkness with light glimmers of hope. With their keen sense of melody and the smart use of calmer instrumentals, the heavy moments on the album get even heavier. Twingiant’s song writing is on par amongst their peers but the way they create and play with atmosphere sticks out.

They may be heavy for the sake of being heavy at times, but it is how they go about this that has drawn me to this album.

Words by: Victor van Ommen

You can pick up for DD Bandcamp for Dec 2 and a cassette release will follow via Medusa Crush Records on Feb 7 2015

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Isole - The Calm Hunter (Album Review)



Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 28/11/2014
Label: Cyclone Empire

‘The Calm Hunter’ CD/DD/LP track listing:

1.  The Calm Hunter (08:23)
2. Dead To Me (The Destroyer Part I) (05:44)                      
3. Into Oblivion (07:15)
4. The Eye Of Light (07:45)                                                                      
5. Perdition (06:55)
6. Alone In Silence (07:03)
7. My Regret (The Destroyer Part II) (07:57)                    

Bio:

With their first releases, ISOLE were able to secure an excellent reputation within the doom metal underground. They have elevated their status even further with their three albums released by Napalm Records.

After "Born from Shadows" it was yet again time to move on and ISOLE signed with German label Cyclone Empire for album number six.

ISOLE’s new piece of art “The Calm Hunter” impressively maintains their well-earned position and lays any doubts as to their superiority to rest. The Swedish quartet understands more than any other band how to effectively merge hypnotic melodies with viscous guitar lines.

The album's main focus is undeniably the heavy riffs and ISOLE’s trademark with vocal harmonies, but also a continuation of the path leaning towards a more progressive touch along with occasional digressions into more aggressive realms, where growls and vicious drumming reign. As such, even the epic tracks remain tantalizing and require one's complete attention, so as not to miss the fine details of this musical masterpiece. The dark euphonious landscapes created on “The Calm Hunter” and the stories where death and despair always is present will haunt your minds for a long time.

The four Swedes guarantee genuine and essential progressive doom metal. Get it now and lose yourself

Isole is:

Daniel Bryntse | guitars, vocals
Jimmy Mattsson | bass, vocals
Crister Olsson | guitars, vocals
Jonas Lindström | drums

Review:

Within the first few notes of hearing the title track "The Calm Hunter", and before looking at the biography, I knew right away these guys were Swedish. There is a distinct Scandinavian metal sound, not quite Black Metal, not quite Prog, and not quite Doom.
Isole seems to blend these styles together coupled with, what I can only describe as "very European harmonies". It seems to be their knack.

They called themselves "Epic Doom", and I’m not sure if that completely fits. To my American ears, when I think of Doom, I think of tempos that are traditionally slower than what Isole is delivering.  Perhaps "Prog Doom" might be more fitting? There ARE moments in their songs where the tempo does slow right down, and is plodded along with the harmonies I spoke of earlier, only to swing back up-tempo into more of a prog-metal theme such as the second track, "Dead to Me".

Track three, ‘Into Oblivion’ starts out as much more of a "traditional doom" pacing, but quickly adds keys and adds that smearing of Scandinavian Metal sound. If you're not a fan of Black Metal, mainly because of the vocals, then Isole might just be what you're looking for. They do tend to run into the "epic" style, that somewhat reminds me of early Mercyful Fate, without King Diamonds ultra-high range, but with the same sense of almost operatic musings. 

I'll be honest; I did not fall fanatically in love with this album. However, I can quickly and easily tell you that it does have something for everyone who loves metal or heavy music in general. The guitar tones are right where they should be. Big, distorted and loud. The drums are good and snap right into double-bass beats for a few moments right where they should when the band launches into that "Swedish Metal" cut-time. Really, the question is "Will you dig the vocals", because that is where you either will or will not like Isole.

Everything else falls into place here.

The instrumentation on the album falls right into place and sounds precisely like it should. That is to say, I almost expected the guitars, drums and bass to sound exactly like they do. It works. This not to say "predictable", but rather, that they provide what is needed.

So...back to the vocals. They ARE good. The harmonies DO really work, but like all music, this is where subjectivity comes in. If you like the kind of sound where more progressive epic vocal harmonies set against a dark background gets you going, then you're going to like this band, and this latest effort. If you prefer much more growly and "traditional" vocals, you will be disappointed, but it seems like Isole have used the vocal sound as the centrepiece to the dish they are serving. I think it works, and I will totally give credit where it is due. Their sound is polished and shined up for presentation. Again that can very much work for or against them, depending on who is listening.

Words by: Mike Borsum

You can pick up a copy here

For more information:

Ides of Gemini - Old World New Wave (Album Review)


Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 16/09/2014
Label: Neurot Recordings/SIGE Records

Old World New Wave’ CD/DD/LP track listing:

1. Black Door
2. The Chalice & The Blade
3. Seer Of Circassia
4. White Hart
5. May 22, 1453
6. The Adversary
7. Fememorde
8. Valediction
9. Scimitar

Ides of Gemini is:

Jason Bennett | Guitar, Vocals
Kelly Johnston-Gibson | Drums, Vocals
Sera Timms | Vocals, Bass

Review:

Los Angeles based three piece, Ides of Gemini, released their debut album in 2012. The Neurot released ‘Constantinople’ garnered worthy praise. The bands new opus, ‘Old World New Wave’ is another slice of despairing, doom driven rock that isn’t your archetypal doom record. The album is conceptually based on the yin/yang balance. (http://www.revolvermag.com/news/ides-of-gemini-break-down-new-album-old-world-new-wave-track-by-track.html)

Opening up with a rumbling bass line and urgent guitar riff, the haunting vocals are equally mournful and soaring throughout ‘Black Door.’ The chorus lyric of ‘I’m on your side now,’ is majestic. As opening statements go, this is a cracker and it sets the tone for the whole album. The dense guitar work on ‘The Chalice & the Blade,’ is suitably doomy. The repetitive tone of the drums and the guitars are hypnotic and create a sullen mood with more superbly employed vocals. The middle section of the track sees everything stripped back to drums and choral style vocals before the sinister guitar returns the track to its earlier repetitive tone. A magnificent one-two opening!

‘Seer of Circassia’ sets off in the same way as its predecessor with the drumming very sparse and prominent. ‘White Hart’ follows with a great guitar led opening. The mournful tone is beautiful and the twin vocal is haunting and unique. ‘May 22, 1453’ is an odd title for a track, but upon further research this is a link to the fall of ‘Constantinople’ and a lunar eclipse. The subject matter only adds to the mystique that the band create through their other worldly music. ‘The Adversary’ has a quicker pace than some of the other tracks on show here, and feels more aggressive than anything else on the album. The solo on the track and swirling voices, along with a driving riff take the track home with an icier feel.

The bass on ‘Femermorde’ bobs along gently whilst the guitar punches the surface throughout. Penultimate track, ‘Valediction,’ sees the vocals really hit higher than many of the other tracks. The vocal range of Sera Timms is quite incredible. Her harmonies demand your attention over the darker tones of the music to create a unique blend of doom and psychedelia. The album rounds out with ‘Scimitar,’ in a similar vein to many of the other compositions on the album.

Overall, ‘Old World New Wave’ is an accomplished album. Concept albums are always hit and miss. This is more hit than miss. ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son’ it is not, however the doomy tones are great; and with the added dose of subtle psychedelia, the mix is exciting. It is the vocals that really stand out for me here though. For the duration, they are dreamy and ethereal. It is the kind of mix that keeps music exciting.

Words by: Dominic Walsh

You can pick up the CD here and Vinyl here

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Gangrened - We Are Nothing EP (Review)

  
Album Type: EP
Date Released: 1/11/2014
Label: Bad Road Records

‘We Are Nothing’ CD/DD track listing:

1). Lung Remover
2). Them
3). Kontti

Gangrened is:

Owe Inborr | Drums
Jon Imbernon | Guitars
Andreas Österlund | Guitars
Ollijuhani Kujansivu | Vocals
Ari Kuorikoski | Bass

Review:

Next up is a short 3 song record from Finnish doom band Gangrened, their second after a split with Spain's Hipoxia from 2013.

Blown-out speakers, amplifier worshipping, sloth-paced doom; this trio of exigent and iron-handed tunes have a cohesion, that are not simply three songs in a row but one record complete. The thickness of the tone and enveloping textures evoke backbreaking and brutality, and even when the party starts on the closer "Kontti" (named after a colloquialism for a 24 pack) they still drive home sledgehammer nihilism as well as some of the greats of the genre.

Yawning feedback gapes at every spare second of track 1, "Lung Remover." Between skull-smashing slugs of raw doom, speakers howl in pain along with vocalist Ollijuhani Kujansivu, over a deliberate, dismal plodding that feels like it stretches you out  until you're pulled nearly apart. At the moment of snapping (7:16) a filthy breakdown bangs your head until your face is a bloody unrecognizable mess and a Supercoven-soaked wall of riffs kicks you over and over while you're down. As with many songs exceeding 12 minutes, it overstays a bit at the end, indeed I think it would have been more urgent and ended with some heavier tension, if just skipped the last 2 minutes, overall the song is a neck-wrecker nonetheless.

"Them" follows, upping the pace from funereal to sludgy. After a ridiculous sample about chasing a helicopter pilot, metal wastes no time. Churning riffs play off caveman drums, somehow dragging and kinetic at the same time. The halfway mark gets a jumpstart into dirty hardcore territory, bringing to mind Fistula's faster moments before a ruthlessly simplistic groove pulverizes the final minute to fade out.

‘Kontti’ is a tribute/almost-cover of Black Flag's song "Six Pack" from their ‘Damaged’ album. They effortlessly inject the grime of the Flag into a ripping stoner-groove mosher that won't let you stop bobbing your head, fist clenching a crushed can in the air.

25 minutes of bludgeoning. The restrained beginning of the breakdown in ‘Lung Remover’, followed by the swell into full volume, is one of the heaviest things I've heard in a while. These guys know how to make a racket and hopefully we don't have to wait another year for the next release.

‘We Are Nothing’ is already available on their bandcamp (gangrened.bandcamp.com) and in CD from  Moscow-based Bad Road Records  (www.facebook.com/badroadces). A cassette release will be issued via (https://www.facebook.com/swapmeatrecords) over the forthcoming weeks

FFO: Fister, Fistula, other Fist-based bands

Words by: James Harris

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Saturday, 22 November 2014

LizZard - Majestic (Album Review)


Album Type: Full-Length
Released: October 17th 2014
Label: Klonosphere Records

Majestic” CD/DD track Listing:

1). Vigilent
2). Aion
3). Bound
4). The Roots Within (Majestic)
5). Only One
6). Just A Breath
7). Circles
8). Reminder
9). Colour Blind
10) Falling In Zero

Bio:

Following the release of 2012's debut album "Out Of Reach", which was produced by Rhys Fulber (Paradise Lost, Fear Factory, etc…) and garnered some highly enthusiastic reviews, French heavy-rock trio Lizzard are now prepared to release their second full-length “Majestic”, without a single doubt their most focused and accomplished effort to date.

Produced by the band, mixed Sylvain Biguet (Klone, Trepalium), “Majestic” sees them taking the approach of their debut album, offering ten tracks full of heavy rhythms, beautiful and engaging melodies. Lizzard provide an intense, emotive listening experience with “Majestic”, and its dark and strident alternative rock sound will surely surprise fans of Tool, Karnivool, Deftones and other artists of that ilk.

The Band:

Mathieu Ricou (guitar, vocals)
Katy Elwell (drums)
William Knox (bass, vocals)

Review:

Often when you see bands list prog-metal titans like Tool/Karnivool/Deftones as influences, they either fall flat or sound absolutely nothing like these bands whatsoever, leaving you wondering why they listed themselves as sounding like them at all. Thankfully, LizZard does actually pull of this sound and a very heavy “Sound Awake” era Karnivool influence permeates LizZard's second album “Majestic” as it successfully hits the right sound as it moves through its ten tracks. Not to give the impression LizZard is copying these groups, but this is not an easy type of music to play much less write and not many people can play this flavor of prog and write coherent songs.

The songwriting LizZard displays is pretty fantastic throughout and the second track “Aion” is a great example of this as it begins with a tapped section and moves into a very Karnivool “Goliath” sounding bass line, then moves into territory that distinctly belongs to LizZard alone with some strong unison melodies. The juxtaposition of the simpler riffy melodies with the more advanced tapping section really grabs your attention and displays a fully mature sense of song writing.

The vocals throughout “Majestic” shade towards the clean end of the spectrum and move from solid to exceptional throughout, the dual vocalists compliment each other very well and a minor critique is I would like to hear a little more harmony in future outings. Katy Elwell on drums, deserves a solid nod as well her drumming is very reminiscent of Aaron Harris' from Isis/Palms drumming on Isis' seminal “Panopticon.” Slow burning with some very tasteful jazzy hits, she has a hypnotic pulse especially on the more atmospheric sections of the album. Her rolling beats at the beginning of track seven “Circles” in particular is instant smile inducing, and her subtle change into the chorus is absolutely perfect.

The mix on this album is a little odd, the tones are good throughout but it sounds very uncompressed and is a bit quiet. All this really means is you have to turn it up a bit more than usual to get the full experience, but when you consider how compressed everything is nowadays our ears are conditioned to it, so this actually serves to make “Majestic” sound really different. That being said, all the instrumentation is clearly audible and the levels are perfect throughout, overall they did a fantastic job recording this album. The bass tones in particular are pretty crushing and it's nice to hear them so up in the mix, when you have a talented bassist it's nice to hear him once in awhile!

This is a pretty slick album with some more mainstream influences than what I've normally reviewed here on The Sludgelord. That being said where LizZard really triumphs is in keeping the hooks with uncompromising song writing and a clear and unique artistic vision. When I listen to “Majestic” I hear a band that is on the cusp of something really big and if anyone has the opportunity to see them live while they are still playing small clubs now is definitely the time. Go check it out, you'll like it.

Words by: Chris Tedor

You can pick up a copy here

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Spiders - Shake Electric (Album Review)


Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 4/11/2014
Label: Spinefarm Records

‘Shake Electric’ CD/DD/LP tracklisting:

1). Mad Dog
2). Shake Electric
3). Bleeding Heart
4). Only your Skin
5). Lonely Nights
6). Back on the Streets
7). Control
8). Give up the fight
9). Hard Times
10). War Of The World

The Band:

Ann-Sofie Hoyles | Vocals
John Hoyles | Guitar
Olle Griphammar | Bass
Richard Harrison | Drums

Review:

Spiders are doing throwback retro rock/metal that a lot of bands appear to gravitate too, right now, but they are indeed putting their own spin on it. This record is definitely a fun raucous record harkening back to Thin Lizzy and Kiss with standout female vocals, the kind of record you put on for a warm summer party.  There really isn’t a dud on this record, ill try to breakdown some of the high points.

“Mad Dog” starts things out with a stomping rhythm and Ann -Sofie’s unique voice. Next up is the album namesake “Shake Electric” and it is a pure unadulterated blast of late seventies pop rock with the best of intentions. And it pulls it off, think Kiss meets Joan Jet and you’ve got the right idea of this super fun track.  The next few songs follow the same pattern of good hooky rock songs with seventies pop sensibilities. Things speed up and get more urgent with track seven “Control”, a faster paced and slightly darker take on the formula laid down previously. This one gets your boot tapping and reminds you this is most definitely a rock and roll album.

Let’s just pump the brakes here and talk about track nine “Hard Times”, Spiders know they are doing throwback sounding rock and they do it very well but with this track they go way back, I’m talking super throwback here. There is a really different sound all over this track, the entire band do their best blues rendition with an almost classic r & b ballad, with the addition of a fuzz pedal and the singer mimicking a near perfect smoky soul vocal. This song is different from the rest of the record and with that it stands out and in turn is my favorite track on the record.

The last track sees Spiders revisiting the sound of the first part of the album, starting with a march into “War of the World”, this one acts as a showcase for all the aspects the band exhibited throughout the rest of the record and leaves a memorable closing to the album.

The immediate take away is that this is a fun rock record with a lot of great hooks and seventies pop feeling throughout, indeed there is a few real surprises and gems thrown in too, to keep things from getting redundant or stagnant. ‘Shake Electric’ is a great record to throw on for a party or anytime you want instant fun. If you’re a fan of the retro rock movement and are open to something with more unique twist, then definitely check these guys (and woman) out!

Words by: David Heaton

You can pick up a copy here

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