Reviews Round-Up April 2022 Pt2
• STARSTRUCK – ‘Thru’ To You’
• PLAYGROUNDED – ‘The death Of Death’
• RUBY THE HATCHET – ‘Live At Earthquaker’
• LIV SIN – ‘The Process’
• CONCEPTION – ‘State Of Deception (Deluxe Edition)’
A dose of Covid knocked me – and, apparently, my filing – for six, and I’m still playing catch-up; so some of these reviews are a little late but still well worth a mention.
For starters comes the sole album by Germany’s STARSTRUCK. Apparently, there’s not a lot known about the band, but ‘Thru’ To You’ is now in the racks once more, courtesy of Golden Core/ZYX. Recorded at the end of 1984, ‘Thru’ To You’ is an interesting collection of what sounds like late Seventies UK/US hard rock, peppered with a large number of NWOBHM influences, and once again A&R head honcho Neudi and his crew are to be congratulated for unearthing another artefact from the early Eighties’ German rock scene. The album takes a bit of a scattergun approach, but while some of it misses target (and some of the lyrics can be a little cringeworthy), when they get it right they really do come up with some exciting material: the first Riot album isn’t a bad point of reference. ‘Thru’ To You’ is very much of its time, but a really good example of what was happening in Europe as the nascent thrash scene was gathering steam in the States. The lead guitar work from Mike Bailey and Tommy Löwe is exemplary: ‘Don’t Mess With The Brass’ is one fine example, while the soloing in the title track’s sounds not unlike Taurus’s wonderful ‘Paper Chaser’ at times.
This one’s also been out a little while now, but PLAYGROUNDED’s ‘The death Of Death’ (Pelagic Records, 18 March) is certainly worth catching up on. Originally from Greece, but now spending a lot of their time in the Netherlands, Playgrounded strut the boards as a cross between, for point of comparison, Leprous and Katatonia. ‘The death Of Death’- the stylised spelling is intentional – is their second full album, following on from 2017’s ‘In Time With Gravity’, and is an exquisite progressive metal offering, melancholic and insightful in equal measure. The title track probably takes the honours: a bleak, insistent yet utterly engaging composition with a dynamic, hacking guitar riff and a plaintive vocal which unveils itself over seven-and-a-half minutes. Across the album, in fact, Stavros Markonis (vocals), Michael Kotsirakis (guitars), Orestis Zafeiriou (synths and sampling), Odysseas Zafeiriou (bass) and Giorgos Pouliasis (drums) never display any urgency with their craft, allowing their songs to tell their stories at some length. At a shade under five minutes, ‘Tomorrow’s Rainbow’ is the album’s shortest and heaviest cut, and even that packs a lot into its (relatively) short timespan. Playgrounded are on tour with The Ocean later in the year, and there are a number of UK dates. Check them out...
Video clip – ‘The death Of Death’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEHC1EbBjD8
RUBY THE HATCHET’s ‘Live At Earthquaker’ ( Magnetic Eye Records, 22 April) sees the New Jersey five-piece bluesing and cruising their way through three songs – fifteen minutes’ worth of material – live in the studio. With a healthy Hammond sound propelling the music the band – Jillian Taylor (vocals), Johnny Scarps (guitar), Sean Hur (keyboards, organ), Lake Muir (bass) and Owen Stewart (drums, vocals) – have a neat little psychedelic Sixties’ vibe going on, and after a pair of originals (‘1000 Years’ and ‘Primitive Man’) they romp through a faithful rendition of ‘Easy Livin’’. ‘Live At Earthquaker’ is available on CD or 7” vinyl.
Video clip – ‘1000 Years’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HniRMpKPVM
There’s a new single from LIV SIN, the band formed by former Sister Sin vocalist Liv Jagrell. After two successful albums (2017’s ‘Follow Me’, and ‘Burning Sermons’ which followed two years later), the band’s plans were then scuppered by the pandemic, but a digital single entitled ‘The Process’ (Mighty Music, 29 April) is a welcome taster for the band’s third album, due later this year. The track is brash and forceful, with a relentless driving beat and a neck-breaking middle eight balanced by a catchy chorus. File under ‘heavy but extremely accessible’.
Video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpEu2sOZcTs
And finally, CONCEPTION have now released their expanded version of their 2020 comeback album ‘State Of Deception’. The new deluxe ‘State Of Deception’ (Conception Sounds Factory, 22 April) covers three CDs, with the original album remastered and an instrumental version of it bolstered by a collection of live material, re-recordings and new songs. To get a feel for what the Norwegians have been up to, here’s a reworking of ‘Silent Crying’, a song which originally appeared on their 1993 ‘Parallel Minds’ album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySfAt9LUN44
© John Tucker April 2022