Reviews Round-Up December 2022
• GAUPA – ‘Myriad’
• ROOK ROAD – ‘Rook Road’
• TARJA - ‘Best Of: Living The Dream’
• BARABBAS – ‘La Mort Appelle Tous Les Vivants’
If intensity and diversity is your thing then you’d do well to check out Sweden’s GAUPA whose second album ‘Myriad’ has just been released by Nuclear Blast (18 November). The band’s blend of psychedelia and down-tuned doom, allied to an Alice In Chains’ vibe and topped off with Emma Näslund’s energetic voice results in a clutch of songs which at times defy categorisation. The otherworldliness and creativity of Dool spring to mind as a loose point of reference, and like Dool the Swedes are not instantly accessible; it takes repeated plays to fully appreciate the true depths of the quintet’s imagination. Songs like ‘Ra’ and ‘Elden’ though are both rousing and bewitching, and the breathless, acoustic ‘Sömnen’ is a composition of rare beauty.
Elsewhere on JTo there’s an interview with ROOK ROAD undertaken a while ago, and their excellent self-titled debut album is now available. Although the band only came together two years ago they’re all seasoned pros and ‘Rook Road’ (SAOL/CMM, 18 November 2022) is a traditional rock fan’s dream. It’s brought to the boil with the same ingredients used by some of the Seventies’ heavyweights, although that’s not too say it’s all retro as the guys – Patrik Jost (vocals), Uwe Angel (guitars), Hannes Luy (keyboards), Sebastian (Hantz) Mitzel (bass) and Thomas Luther (drums) – certainly have their eyes and ears on the present day while paying homage to the past. Driven by some extremely classy songs (the driving ‘Tower’ with its guitar / keyboards interplay and the Uriah Heep-tinged ‘Deny’ in particular being spectacularly well delivered) and backed up by a clutch of well-made videos the band are pushing to make up for pandemically-enforced lost time and are already working on album number 2. You’ve got to wish them well: a band this good deserves to break through.
‘Lucky Man’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjZ0VancPTw
‘Kinda Glow’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPe8YumFFXI
‘Sometimes’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5a8h6EHBQeA
‘Talk Too Much’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhaslCt42cs&t=8s
It’s hard to believe that was seventeen years ago that Tarja Turunen and Nightwish parted company. TARJA’s first solo album ‘My Winter Storm’ appeared in 2007 and the last few weeks of 2022 sees the release of ‘Best Of: Living The Dream’ (earMUSIC, 2 December), a career retrospective available in what’s now become the usual bewildering array of formats. The basic CD or double LP version boasts sixteen tracks “handpicked by Tarja” (which, to be fair, is the least you expect from a best of) including one new cut ‘Eye Of The Storm’ – a quite stunning track with a tango-based verse and bombastic chorus – as well as some single edits drawn from the back catalogue. A 2CD & Blu-ray set adds a further thirteen songs and an unreleased live show from Bucharest in January 2020 together with the singer’s official clips; and the Big Boy (pictured) adds another CD of material from her classical outings and the Outlanders’ material as well as picture disc LPs and the usual prints and posters; very nice to have, and beautifully curated, but it will set you back a bob or two.
As ‘La Mort Appelle Tous Les Vivants’ possibly indicates, BARABBAS are French, and ‘La Mort...’ (Sleeping Church Records, 9 December) is their second album, following on from 2011’s ‘Libérez Barabbas’ EP and ‘Messe Pour Un Chien’, their debut album released three years later. The guys in Barrabas are slaves to the riff, and have constructed seven sprawling doom-laden epics (together with an intro and outro) with almost as many riffs – to put a spin on an old cliché – as the first four Diamond Head albums put together. The album is a downbeat doom-laden feast, choc-full of expertly-executed neck-wrenching leviathans, and is a beautifully structured beast which, over sixty minutes, offers neither respite nor remorse. It’s heavy, catchy and exciting, and clever twists like the refrain which dominates the final ninety seconds of ‘Le Saint Riff Rédempteur’ or the juggernaut of ‘Le Cimetière Des Rêves Brisés’ are clearly the work of master craftsmen. Stunning...
‘Le Cimetière Des Rêves Brisés’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rOUciBO3YA
© John Tucker December 2022