PUSHKING – THE WORLD AS WE LOVE IT

Released February 28th 2011 on Edel/earMusic.

Pushking are one of Russia’s biggest rock bands having released 15 albums to date, but then without the exposure of the like Gorky Park got in the late 80’s how are we to know?  But with  “The World As We Love It”; and thanks to producer Fabrizio Grossi that may well change for band have scored one hell of a guest list for their new album which sees selected cuts from the bands previous releases re-recorded each with a special guest or two on each.

As for the guest list how do the likes of Billy Gibbons, Nuno Bettencourt, Alice Cooper, John Lawton, Steve Stevens, Paul Stanley, Steve Salas, Steve Vai, Graham Bonnet, Glenn Hughes, Jeff Scott Soto, Joe Bonamassa, Eric Martin, Udo Dirkschneider, Dan McCaffery, Joe Lynn Turner, Jorn Lande and Steve Lukather grab you?

Musically this is competent hard rock nothing truly spectacular but a pleasant enough listen from start to finish.
 
Highlights come in the guise of the Alice Cooper led “Troubled Love” which is a nice mix of Cooper’s 70’s rock and late 80’s commerciality.  The melodic minor blues of “Tonight” with Glenn Hughes and Joe Bonamassa is touching and classy whilst Hughes also sounds great on “Private Own”.   Bluesy hard rock fans are well catered for with the Joe Lynn Turner led “Head Shooter” and Paul Stanley leads the commercial rocker “Cut The Wire” with his usual flare and panache.  Steve Vai plays with more emotion than normal on the excellent “My Reflections After Seeing The Schindlers List Movie” and its another highlight.

Its not all good though, Udo Dirkschneider will always be an acquired taste and “Nature’s Child” is quite laughable in places thanks to his pneumatic drill delivery, likewise Graham Bonnet has delivered better than what is heard on “God Made Us Free” although the song itself is not too bad.

Musically the Russian band are competent players with nothing flashy or overly original to either annoy nor dazzle but they can pen a good tune as it evident from the majority of this release.

Overall a nice addition to the collection for fans of the assembled guest list.  The production is perfectly fine and there is a nice pace to the 19 tracks on offer. 

One to look into further.

Rating – 83%


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CONCERTO MOON – ANGEL OF CHAOS (REVIEW)

Out now on Triumph Records

Ninth studio album from  Japanese metallers Concerto Moon.  Gone for the most part is the overly neo-classical sound that ran throughout the earlier days of the bands career.  “Angel Of Chaos” sees the transition that first started wth 2003’s  “Life On The Wire” towards a more direct metal sound, this bore dividends on 2004’s excellent “After The Double Cross” and to a slightly lesser extent on 2008’s “Rise From Ashes”.   The new album sees the band stripped down to a four piece with the departure of long time keyboardist Toshiyuki Koike, who one suspects left after seeing his once key role in the band diminish with Norifumi Shima’s excellent guitar work taking more and more of the spotlight. So whilst the new album might not be as quite full of textures as in days gone past there is still an awful lot to enjoy.

A short instrumental paves the way for the title track with its big riffs, fast frantic delivery, a strong opening track yet arguably the weakest on offer to these ears.  The album really hits top gear with “Lost In The Dark”; an all round stunning delivery with superb vocal melodies with the normal mix of Japanese verses and English choruses.  The track is propelled by impassioned guitar work from Shima who has captured a truly magnificent performance here from start to finish.  “Right Here, Right Now” continues the superb work with a drop D tuned riff, darker yet just as exciting.   Vocalist Takashi Inoue’s also delivers a very strong vocal performance.   Melodic mid-tempo waters are catered for with “Gone” which possesses a chorus hook line the likes of Joe Lynn Turner would kill for.  Shima further brings the magic out in the track with a sublime guitar solo, with rich melodic themes, harmonised lines and bends brimming with emotion.  The tempo ups for “Dance With Ghosts”, a 16 note bass drum charger which borders on the verge of vintage Malmsteen. Next up is the complex instrumental “Plectrum” which further, should evidence be needed, of Shima’s guitar prowess.  “Let Me Stay Here” is back to melodic metal waters with more rich hooks and is another highlight. “Live To Win” comes at you like a baseball bat the face, drop D tuning again leads to fantastic chugging riff, I defy any metal head to not get a kick out of this. Another instrumental “Just Before Midniught”, this time in a minor blues fashion allows Shima to once again wow the listener before closing number “Stand Up And Fight” closes the album with the fastest tempo on the album and its another strong hitter.

If that wasn’t enough to satisfy the ltd edition bonus DVD showcases the making of the album, Shima  talking and playing examples from each track (sadly in Japanese – no subtitles) but its compulsive viewing for any Concerto Moon fan.

Quite how the band have managed to keep their quality of output so consistently high throughout their career is worthy of praise indeed, and I view it as a crime that the band have never caught on in a bigger way outside their native country (granted the language barrier is I suspect the main issue here).  If you like extremely well crafted metal with first rate instrumentation and a penchant for strong vocal melodies then you owe it yourself to  grab hold of “Angel Of Chaos”. Even with the import price tag this is still value for money.

Rating – 95%