Music Reviews: New/Recent Releases August 2017

NEW/RECENT RELEASES AUGUST 2017

With a million things going on in July, we didn’t get a chance to post a round up of reviews. Don’t worry though, that just means there’s all the more for August! Once again we’ve got a tonne of top class music for you, with reviews by Cameron Arndt and Chris Small.

Click one of the links below to jump to a specific review, or scroll through and find something new!

Over The Covers EP (Brownout)
Outset Single (Chris Small)
In The Loop – The Acoustic Sessions (Highway 491)
The Most Hated EP (Polyphia)
Dying Embers (Shape Of The New Sun)
Blood Moon (True Gents)
No Saints EP (We Are Riot)

Brownout: Over The Covers EP 

By Cameron Arndt

An interesting one this. Brownout have been described as hardcore latin funk, but came to widespread attention in 2013 after a one off night playing Black Sabbath covers with their own spin turned into two acclaimed albums, Brownout Presents: Brown Sabbath, and Brown Sabbath Volume II. Not only were the records critically praised by the likes of NPR, Pitchfork and USA Today, they also won plaudits from Ozzy Osbourne himself who extended a personal invite to perform for him. Clearly well worth checking out those two releases, but what next for a band who’ve most famously funkified the masters of heavy metal?

Over The Covers is the group’s first set of original material in over five years, and was recorded in between their busy touring schedule (which includes moonlighting as Grammy Winning Latin Funk orchestra Grupo Fantasma). The EP is fairly short, just four tracks, but in those four tracks they not only cover a startling breadth of styles and grooves, they do so with style, flair and tons of fun. It’s a blast to listen to.

Evolver get’s things rolling with a slick, clicking drum intro which launches into the first of many deep, funky grooves. The vocals are up front, strong and catchy and they’re backed up by a sterling horn section. The song, and indeed the record as a whole, never settles, constantly changing up, switching rhythms or adding extra elements to surprise and delight the listener. Evolver has a cool, ethereal middle section with arching female vocals, then a riotous brass solo section, with a gritty guitar buzzing along in the background.

The EP then hurtles straight into second track, You Don’t Have to Fall, with a slamming drum fill and snaking, vibrant guitar riff backed by keyboards and brass. The vocals are even more catchy here, with immediately memorable melodies, while layer upon layer of percussion dance in the background. In the ice-cool breakdown who-knows-how-many toms, cymbals, tambourines and other instruments keep the beat thrumming and throbbing while the horn section spikes and swipes. It’s great fun to listen to, and all finished by a swooping wah-wah guitar lead in a crescendo coda.

Things You Say keeps up the pace with a storming, danceable rhythm recalling African and Cuban beats. The track has a low-down funk feel and seems to end with a blast of horns before being overtaken by a crazy, rollicking, almost jazzy outro. The sounds here are more abrasive, with an off-kilter feel that’s somehow just as compelling as all that’s come before.

The real big twist, though, is final track Super Bright which steps away from the boisterous funk in favour of conjuring a dreamlike soundscape via swirling keyboards and shimmering guitar chords. A section with strong acoustic guitar is topped by a warping guitar part which swoops up, down and around while the entire track is suffused with a myriad of crystalline sounds creating evocative, swirling images in the mind.

It’s a great surprise to close out an EP that really is all too short, but which packs a hell of a lot in to a quick run time.

Brownout on Facebook

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Chris Small: Outset [Single]

By Cameron Arndt

Next up is another artist who’s new single is an even bigger departure from what he has produced previously. We reviewed Perth musician Chris Small’s debut EP (released as Chris Marshall) last year and found it to be ‘a seriously impressive record, with a solid folk/Americana vibe that helps maintain cohesion among an excellent group of songs that display a tremendous array of styles and moods in a short space of time.’

His new work, however, is something else entirely. It’s a much more ambient offering, and completely instrumental. It’s also enormously atmospheric and fascinating. It begins with a slow fade in featuring stirrings, rumblings of a multitude of sounds – chiefly including various synths and keyboards.

A stately drumbeat enters, with a great reverb heavy sound to it. Small recorded this track himself in his home studio, but you wouldn’t know it, the production is bright and clear and allows the listener plenty of space to immerse themselves in the sound.

The song slowly builds, sounding almost sci-fi – like a backing track in Blade Runner perhaps – as extra elements are continually added. It never rushes itself though, seeming to grow organically even as the vibe switches to a more eastern flavour, resplendent with twanging strings and pulsing backing sounds.

In what seems like a fourth distinct section, that still somehow completes a cohesive whole, an epic sounding mood overcomes the rest, giving a widescreen feel that opens the song right up.

The track is like a journey, in fact it takes you on a journey, evoking many different moods in a short three and a half minutes. Interestingly it gave me images of various movies as I listened, from the sweeping glens of Highlander or Rob Roy at the start, to the sci-fi dystopia of Blade Runner as mentioned, then some kind of samurai epic before finally suggesting the stirring widescreen shots of the Titanic putting out to sea in the eponymous film as the track glides to a big finish.

Whether this was intentional, or whether it’s just me being fanciful I don’t know!! But the tune is certainly evocative and another triumph for a superlatively talented artist who seems more than able to succeed at anything musical that he turns his hand to.

Buy the single now here: http://bit.ly/2vPilHQ

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Highway 491: In The Loop – The Acoustic Sessions

By Chris Small

I’ve been aware of Highway 491 for some time now. The Glasgow-based group have evolved over the past five years from playing weekly jam sessions to becoming a powerful trio and have played shows all over the country. They excel at keeping things simple and tight – two things I think blues/rock should be.

The album has been recorded over 3 different sessions and, unconventionally, with different musicians on each session. Whilst I was worried this would make the album feel disjointed, I’m please to say it has quite the opposite effect. It stops the album from becoming stale or repetitive. As with every other aspect of this record, it is Arndt’s songwriting and performance that keep things on track. So let’s dive in and see what ‘In The Loop: Acoustic Sessions’ has to offer…But can you go even simpler? Yes you can, by unplugging the guitars and throwing away half the drum kit. Which is exactly what Highway 491 have done. Not only that, but they’ve ditched the conventional studio and chosen instead to record at ‘Rock & Roll Traffic HQ’, or in other words, singer/guitarist Cameron Arndt’s flat in Glasgow. A man of many talents, he’s also recorded, produced and mixed the entire record. Oh and he did the artwork too. Busy boy.

The record opens with the titular track, In The Loop. The song is a good blueprint for the rest of the album. It also introduces the use of dual vocals between main singer, Arndt, and bassist, Gary Murrie. This gets used to great effect throughout the album with Arndt’s rougher, heavier vocal complimenting Murries’s Bowie-esq warble. A nice injection of electric guitar compliments rather than overpowers the track. Fool and This Is Not The End both have very catchy rhythms and vocals. I’m getting a real ‘Clash’ feel from them. Fool uses dynamics really well despite the only instruments being an acoustic guitar, a bass guitar and a drum kit.

A Lie Agreed Upon is a welcome departure from the rest of the record so far and again could easily be on a ‘Clash’ record with it’s steady feel and rhythm. This is the first time I feel the vocals should be primarily Arndt’s, with the second vocal being used for backing harmonies only. This is purely an opinion, however. Arndt’s vocals are so good, I feel they deserve their time in the spotlight alone. He does get to show off a little more electric guitar playing with a great solo that waves its way over the top of some lovely chord progressions.We take our first dip in tempo of the record when we reach track four, Surrounded. All the musicians are now locked-in with each other – something that has been slightly lacking up to this point in places. Arndt delivers another great, authentic performance and his electric guitar playing again perfectly compliments the acoustic feel of the track. Moving through the latter half of the album, Stuck In The Game continues the killer dual vocal attack with another great hook towards the end of the track (catch riffs and hooks are becoming Arndt’s forte).

Crime and Punishment hits you hard. The stabbing guitar chords and harmonica blasts echo the 70’s and the anti-establishment movement and attitude. Again, Arndt seems to be channeling his inner-Joe Strummer (except you can understand what he’s saying). The dual vocals are used effectively here. Whilst at first I felt the harmonica solo could have had more finesse, upon listening to the track a few more times, it really does fit perfectly with the overall feel of the track. It’s not supposed to be perfect or controlled. It should be ballsy and reckless!

The final track, ‘On the Road’ rises and falls with a great feel and the stomps and claps work very well. It’s interesting to note that this is the first and only time that stomps and claps have been used. It works perfectly in my opinion and could have been problematic had they tried to use this technique throughout the album. Stomps and claps can quickly become clichéd so using them sparingly like the band have done gives the album a great resolution. The song and album ends with a record hiss, the switching off of equipment and the closing of a door. This perfectly ties in with the live nature of the album and its recording

While it’s apparent that the album was recorded in three separate session with different musicians, Arndt’s style of playing, writing and vocal delivery help give the record a linear voice. For me, the only let down is the percussion, which at times could have been a bit tighter. The looseness does lend itself to some of the tracks however. The obvious stand out is Arndt’s vocal performance. As I mentioned previously, there’s moments where I could swear I’m listening to a young Joe Strummer. The authentic nature of his delivery really drives home the blues/rock feel the band is going for.

One thing I was worried about happening with this record was that the band may fall into the awful trap of sticking to 12 bar-blues progressions. This fortunately never happens. The writing is interesting and the chord sequences refreshing and imaginative. The same goes for the riffs and dynamics throughout all the tracks. For being recorded live in a flat and produced by Arndt himself, ‘In The Loop – The Acoustic Sessions’ is a very impressive record with catchy riffs, great attitude and songs that will leave you humming them all day long.

Chris Small is the Trombonist/Harmonica player with Red Pine Timber Company, and recently released his new solo single, Outset.

Highway 491 play Glasgow King Tuts on September 2nd. Buy tickets here.

Links:

Highway 491 Official Website
Highway 491 on Facebook

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Polyphia: The Most Hated EP

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By Cameron Arndt

The Most Hated is the second EP from Polyphia, following their first short release in 2013, and full length albums in 2015 and 2016. It’s hard to be sure what the EP’s title refers to – with the music being all instrumental – but fans of prog rock, electronic and instrumental music are certainly not likely to harbour any negative feelings towards the band as the music here is of a high standard, with plenty of hooks to reel in more casual listeners and top musicianship across the board.

The band – consisting of guitarists Tim Henson and Scott LePage, bassist Clay Gober, and drummer Clay Aeschliman – pack a tremendous amount into The Most Hated’s six tracks and touch on elements of hard rock, hip-hop, indie, eastern sounds and ambient soundscapes all the while maintaining a consistent sound and feel.

Opener Loud is a case in point, opening with a smooth feel, clean guitar and hip hop sounds in the intro it soon kicks in hard and loud with thudding, rolling drums. The guitar switches to a twisty melody of the type you might find Steve Vai laying over a song, while processed beats transform and shape the backdrop. Indeed the song never settles too long on a groove, it constantly shifts and changes and the guitar line becomes increasingly flurried while continuing to include just enough snatches of melody to act as hooks in amongst the flashes of sparkling instrumental prowess.

Loud seems to set the ground rules for the release as a whole, though the rules are that no sound or feel overstays it’s welcome. Icronic bursts at the seams with fast, spritely sounds and an Eastern flavour, yet the guitar has a thick, industrial sound – once again reminiscent of Steve Vai, this time at his most esoteric. There’s a rising chord sequence and midway through the song becomes heavier, concluding with a funkier section where the cool, rounded bass really comes through.

Elsewhere there’s machine gun beats and industrial vibes aplenty on Goose and Crosty, with plenty of exotic guitar leads on the former and slightly abrasive waves of synth adding texture to the latter as an octave/harmony effected guitar sound keeps the melody shining through. 40oz is a little more classic rock with it’s fast guitar licks over a riff that sounds like the riff Survivor’s Eye Of The Tiger being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century to meet a similarly-updated Tron-like computer vibe with whirling, swooping guitar.

The EP finished with The Worst, which begins in a more subtle manner, sounding almost like it’s been recorded underwater at first before finally opening into a simple beat with catchy guitar, then eventually ramping back up the gears to a clicking, pulsing peak.

The Most Hated is jam packed with intriguing sounds, strong hooks and some astonishing moments of skill (particularly in the guitar work), but none of this overwhelms the music leading to an EP which is first and foremost good to listen to, but reveals layer after layer of hidden depths the more time you give it.

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Shape Of The New Sun: Dying Embers

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By Cameron Arndt

Formed in 2014 by four musicians from the small town of Skara in Sweden, Shape Of The New Sun released their first single in February 2016 and signed a deal with Danish record company Lions Pride Music. Dying Embers is the first fruit of that partnership and was released in May 2017 – sometimes we’re slow off the mark, but we get there!

The band describes themselves as ‘A Swedish melodic rock band formed to play live!’ and while there’s not much that’s particularly Swedish about their sound – classic British and American rock seems to be where their influences spring from – there’s plenty of melody, plenty of hard rockin’ riffs, and plenty of songs that would clearly kill live.

In fact I suppose they could be compared to one of Sweden’s greatest rock exports, Europe. They’re nowhere near as cheesy as that band was in their heyday (thankfully!), but hew closer to the ace heavier version of Europe in recent years.

But enough about Joey Tempest’s lot. Shape Of The New Sun are led by singer/guitarist Thomas Kihlberg, and his vocal work across the record is excellent. He has a great, smooth rock voice. Less gruff than you might expect in the genre, and less theatrical than some other singers, his singing is perhaps closer to someone like Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes, with a rough bluesiness in place of histrionic shouting or screaming.

The record opens with the band’s first single, Babylon, which is all crunching guitar chords and Brian May-style leads. Kihlberg grabs the track – and the listener – from the outset and doesn’t let go for the next ten songs. The frontman is partnered on guitar by Ivan Persic and, while the ryhtym work in the album is a touch low in the mix to my ears, that’s not so with the lead and there’s some scorching, yet medloy-filled solos and licks throughout the album.

Holding everything together is the rythym section of Håkan Holmström on bass and Tomas Persic on drums. The drums in particular sound excellent, particularly standing out on the epic Majestic where every stick hit sounds sharp and clear – all the better to provide the backdrop for perhaps the very biggest of a slew of huge choruses on the album. This one is arching and expansive, recalling Journey at their most anthemic.

Much of the record follows this pattern – truthfully many of the riffs and verses, while never less than competent, aren’t always outstandingly hooky but the band certainly have a way with a chorus. Check out how they up the tempo, and the energy when the refrain of Ghost From The Past hits for example.  Kihlberg sounds a little like Richie Kotzen here and the melody and harmonies could well be something Mr. Big would come up with. Speaking of melody and harmonies, the guitar solo on this one contains plenty of both, and is all the better for it!

Other standouts are the title track – with a gritty Winery Dogs-like riff which is overcome by Eastern-influenced vocal tones and another top chorus – and the almost-ballad Give It Up which, while slower and quieter than the rest avoids such  obvious steps with an ominous chord progression from a cleanly picked guitar and lyrics that lend an intriguing feel of menace, ‘So dark, too dark to see.’

 The group finish off in style with the old-school rock vibes and harmony guitars of When The Curtain Falls. There may not be tons of new ground being broken but this is a big, fun album with some very good performances and enough catchy choruses to have you singing along in no time.

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True Gents: Blood Moon
By Chris Small

When I was told I’d have the opportunity to review True Gents latest offering, I couldn’t believe my luck. You see, I’m in the fortunate position of not only being a huge True Gents fan, but I’ve also BEEN a True Gent. I was lucky enough to fill in for them on bass a few years back when they played Audio Soup Festival. It’s still up there with one of my favourite gigs, mainly because of how much damn fun I had on stage with them! Since I played with them, the band has had a shake up in line-up and sound. They’re thankfully still led by Mr Tobe Jeffrey flanked by his songwriting partner and vocalist Mr Euan Nicol, who have been friends since school. Although their style may be heading a new direction, which I’ll be addressing in this review, their partnership, lyrics and songwriting are still at the heart of True Gents, and that is what I believe makes them stand out from the crowd.

In terms of line-up changes, there’s been a few. Drums and Bass are now provided by brothers Kieran and Owen Toole. These guys are no joke. They are as tight as they come and have the added benefit of being super True Gents fans. I clearly remember standing at the front of the crowd with these two watching the band play years ago in The Twa Tams in Perth, and eventually being invited up on stage to sing sea shanties. Perfect opportunity then when an opening became available. They’ve now added electric guitar to the mix coming from Stu Bennett and dual backing vocals from the beautiful voices of Rosemary Stanford and Rea Pirnie, as you’ll see from the review, these extras are what makes this album stand out from previous work. The ever present and on form Ian Scobie is still providing his masterful skills on the accordion which I’m very happy about as I feel Scobie is one of the ingredients that really sets this band apart from their contemporaries. Finally, fiddle player and producer David MacFarlane has provided his expertise to this album but no longer plays live with the band – I’m glad he’s on this record though.

So as soon as this album starts, the changes are apparent. Their first album, 2013’s In The Dark, We Set Sail, was heavily acoustic with minimal uses of electric guitar. Here, however, the opening number Be There, gives us our first experience of Bennett’s versatility. Jeffrey’s familiar and welcoming vocals wash over the song, soon followed by Stanford and Pirnie. The song builds and builds until we hit the chorus, far heavier than I was anticipating, but nonetheless welcome! The more traditional sounds of the fiddle and accordion return and help to perfectly mix the old True Gents sound with the new. For an opening song, you can’t much better.

The title track, Blood Moon, features another great intro from Bennett and to me is classic True Gents, with more great embellishments from Stanford and Pirnie. These two really fill out the sound in a unique way that can only be done with the female voice. As if the band are reading my mind, the accordion and fiddle take prominence once again. Beautiful End is actually a True Gents classic, having featured on their eponymous EP from 2009. The song is almost identical in structure but the band’s new sound enhances this great song to new levels. I will admit, I loved the original for its heavier focus on the traditional elements (featuring a young Ross Ainslie on whistle and pipes), but the key to this song has to be Nicol’s writing and performance. His repetition of the great line, “I’m hurting, you’re still learning, I turn my back and I close the curtains” will be stuck in your head for hours.

The production of the songs shines as we move to track number four, Ashen Man. Yet another guitar intro from Bennett, however, by using different effects and playing styles, he keeps me interested and is NEVER boring. This song perfectly reflects Scobie’s ability to know exactly when to play his accordion, and when he does, it’s sublime. Nicol and Jeffrey work in great partnership here, their vocals feeling connected and genuine. Each section of the song is a master class in composition and the use of counter-melodies. Camomile is another Nicol-fronted number. I think it’s important to note that whilst Nicol won’t be winning any ‘best singer’ prizes, the strength of his writing and delivery shows that this doesn’t mean a damn thing. I personally adore his vocals. I truly believe every word I’m hearing. The song changes pace and feel with another perfect modern-trad melody, never becoming overstated.

Is This Love features another great dual lead from Jeffrey and Nicol. Nicol’s honesty shines through again in his writing, “Is this love, or is this happiness that I feel?” At times there’s so much going on that my ears don’t know where to listen, however this just makes each listen more interesting. The song falls away to just Nicol and Jeffrey’s vocals, showing the potency and honest of the words they’re singing. Scobie then provides another fantastic counter-melody along with classic ‘Ooh-La’s’ from Stanford and Pirnie. The song is over before you know it. Again, I’m left wanting more!

I’ve always been impressed by Jeffrey’s singing voice and use of falsetto. Thankfully, this is put to great use in Invermay Wall, a nod to the area where Jeffrey and Nicol would meet in their school years to write songs together. His higher range is the perfect counterpoint to Nicol’s lower tones. At this point I’m wondering if there’s anything Bennett can’t do with his guitar as we hear a varied mix of effects and sounds, demonstrating his talent as both a lead player and as a rhythm guitarist. Scobie trades off beautifully with guest pianist Ali Pibworth and we’re treated a wonderfully expressive Knopfler-esque solo from Bennett before the whole band starts to sing chorus. It is here that my favourite moment of the entire album occurs. Amongst the chorus of voices now singing, any TRUE True Gents fan will be able to hear the beautiful voice of Taff Jeffrey, Tobe’s father. His influence on his son and anyone who has sung with him is infectious and I’m so glad that he’s on this album. It put the biggest smile on my face.

Now in the latter half of the album, we take a more Pink Floyd turn with Girl In A Cave. Nicol’s in the driving seat once more and the use of echoed delay on his vocals is perfect (think, Us And Them from Dark Side of The Moon). The Toole Brothers keep everything relaxed until 3 minutes in when the song erupts with short syncopated hits from the whole band. Again, the production really shines through here with multiple layers of fiddle, accordion and vocals. The penultimate track, Lightnin’ is one last shake up by the band to keep you on your toes. With a pulsing, tribal intro, you just know this is going to lead to somewhere. With the whole band as tight as a drum, the song explodes at a breakneck pace. This is the first and only glimpse of the band’s previous traditional shanty past (listen to Seasick or The Barrels Are Full from their previous album’). Then, completely out of nowhere begins, and I’m not exaggerating here, one the best guitar solos I’ve heard in a VERY long time! Bennett’s technique, performance and precision is simply outstanding and this is another crowning moment of the album. It was so good, I rewound (is that still the term?) and listened to it two more times! The song returns to its tribal intro, building even more dramatically and more powerful than before then ends like a gunshot.

The final track The Moors, has a sombre feel, which I feel is appropriate in relation to the rest of the album that has preceded it. It’s almost unsettling at times but beautiful all the same. In a word, it’s haunting, which I think is what they were going for. Jeffrey sings with a melancholy and honesty that fits the song perfectly, “Is this dark enough for you my friend, out here on the moors?” Just as you feel it’s not going anywhere, the drums kick in, with Stanford and Pirnie adding another haunting counter-melody of ‘oohs’. Everything builds so naturally, I feel like I’m listening to Gilmour on top of The Wall when Bennett is soloing. The song rises and falls majestically like the moors that Jeffrey sings of. A perfect end to this extraordinary album.

When I first heard In The Dark, We Set Sail, I listened to a band that had a distinct sound that capitalised on the uniqueness and individuality of it’s members. I didn’t think that could be easily replicated or developed. However, after reviewing ‘Blood Moon’, the path this band has taken and the changes it has made, (I’m sure not all of them easy), has resulted in an album that perfectly sits between their early traditional folk roots and the indie rock soundscapes that they touched upon on their last album. Jeffrey and Nicol are two of Perthshire’s most talented songwriters and this album is the proof. They both write and sing from the heart. It’s sometimes more raw than you’d be expecting, but this just adds to the reasons that True Gents remain so popular. I think adding Stu Bennett on guitar was one the best decisions the band have made, and his guitar playing and soloing are world-class. I’m so glad that the Toole brothers got their wish and joined as their love for the band and their music shows in their playing and enthusiasm, both on the record and on stage. These songs will stand as some of Jeffrey and Nicol’s best, and every member should be extremely proud of what they’ve created here. True Gents are one of Perthshire’s hidden gems, but ones that deserve to be heard by the world. Well done guys, and stay true!

Chris Small is the Trombonist/Harmonica player with Red Pine Timber Company, and recently released his new solo single, Outset.

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We Are Riot: No Saints EP

By Cameron Arndt

It seems that this new record from We Are Riot, comprised of five musicians from Bremen and Berlin, Germany, might never  have happened. The band first got together in 2010 when singer Jennifer Bothe and the other four first met and performed together. It all fell apart after one gig, though, when (as the press release says) the four instrumentalists ‘ran away with Bothe’s background singer.’ In most cases, that may well have been the end of the story.

However, five years later drummer Paule Winter and guitarist Yannick Waßmann recalled the meeting and got the band back together. This time things stuck, and the band soon reached the finals of Germany’s ‘Local Heroes’ Competition and set about recording this very EP.

With seven tracks, No Saints is a weighty EP indeed. Recorded more or less live, with minimal overdubs, the band aimed ‘to trigger the ultimate rock power.’

Rock power sure does flow from the EP, as Burning Alive kicks things off with dirty guitar, crashing drums and some superb vocals. Bothe’s voice is great, gritty and filled with attitude. Yet at times she can also channel a deceptive sweetness, which reels the listener in before the next visceral onslaught.

Obvious touchstones are female-fronted rock bands like Halestorm and  The Pretty Reckless, yet at times the sound – all scything riffs, thudding bass and whip-crack drums – owes much to the work of that diminutive giant of metal, Ronnie James Dio, and his self-named band. Daughter Of The Devil certainly has the same sort of witchcraft-and-wizardry vibe found in his work, though it’s twisted to fit We Are Riot’s composition and more modern sound. The shouted vocals are great fun as everyone hollers ‘We are!’ in the chorus as Bothe completes the line, ‘…the daughters of the devil, we are the sisters of the night, we are the pretty and the reckless, looking for a fight.’

The overall sound is bright and punchy and the guitars – by Waßmann and Kim von Salzen – fizz and pop. They play some cool subtle licks, though on both Daughter Of The Devil and No More Lies there are missed opportunities for the big guitar-hero solo that would seem to be required. Even when the lead guitar is finally cut loose during World On Fire it’s a little low in the mix, but generally all the instruments serve the songs well, and gel together throughout.

The band take the foot off the gas just a little for the title track, which adds some nice light and shade as Bothe employs that sweet vocal tone in a restrained opening, singing ‘There ain’t no saints in this world of sin, there ain’t no church to find shelter in.’ The track kicks in to a thrumming groove with a driving, but not pushy, beat. The song builds to a stomping ending with layered backing vocals on a song with an important message. ‘We just let all the frustrations we feel about the current and worldwide development run wild’ says Bothe in the press release, ‘There are NO SAINTS we can rely on. We have to take fate into our own hands and stand up for values that are important to us!”,

The aforementioned World On Fire has an appropriately scorching groove, riding along with a guitar that sounds like something Doug Aldrich would have come up with in the latter-day version of Whitesnake. This, of course, is married to a BIG chorus, which contains a nice touch of emotion in as it’s repeated while the song ends.

Intriguingly the EP ends with a bonus track, Young And Reckless, which has a very different sound. It’s acoustic based, with a more poppy, sunny vibe and again utilitses the sweetness in Bothe’s voice. It’s unlike anything that has come before, but provides a nice ending to a breathless, raw blast of a record.

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