Advanced Album Preview :: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – Its a Corporate World

© Warner Bros Music 2012

“A living detachment exists between the music and listener”

It seems there is a renaissance afoot. Amongst the musical community, the resurgence of indie infused psychedelic, electro pop has never been more popular.

As much of a mouthful as that seems, the oncoming summer months seem to bring out such bands like midges from a mossy log. Throwing their hat into the ring with debut offering It’s a Corporate World are Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

For those UK fans unfamiliar with the band. Formed in Detroit, Michigan, the duo takes their name from American Indy Car racing legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. who, according to some sources, is a reputable fan of the band. Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott have sky rocketed their reputations amongst fans and music critics alike since their formation in 2007.

Branding themselves as psychedelic, electro and Motown influenced, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. appear to be on the cusp of domination of the indie, elector scene. This debut album, It’s a Corporate World arrives as the total of maligned performances, side projects and other dedications that have prevented the two members from publishing their collective work. They bring the haunting, wistful vocals and soft guitar hooks that have established them as a stand out indie outfit to what will presumably be a much wider audience, possibly globally.

Tracks “Simple Girl,” “When I open My Eyes,” and the eponymous “It’s a Corporate World,” showcase the band’s eclectic, anathema style. Drawing clear influences from late Beatles and their own brand of psychedelic pop rock, Epstein (coincidentally) and Zott mesh seamlessly together both vocally and musically.

None more apparent than the harmonic, toe tapping “Vocal Chords.” A fun, catchy, high tempo track that lends itself perfectly to the up coming summer months, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. know their audience and how to effectively win them over new listeners.

This stellar rise amongst their own scene and the music industry as a whole raises some suspicions amongst the more skeptical listeners. And therein lies the problem with both Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and this debut album. It’s a Corporate World is, quite simply, a clean cut, glossy, over produced album that would be more suited to a band’s second or third offering.

Following their various EP releases and a loyal fan following of their energetic live performances, this fully fledged debut album arrives amongst a sea of publicity. None more apparent than the highly touted select UK appearances on Club NME and HMV Next Big Thing. Surprising, surely, to those indie electro groups from native shores who are still scratching around on their home turf all begging for that big break. More importantly, with substantial discographies behind them.

Fundamentally, the band’s ethos and material seems oddly unoriginal enough to warrant this lavish production. Although by no means a poor piece of work, it is exactly that that makes for suspicious reasoning. They may sing of heartfelt, unrequited love and psychedelic jaunts through golden fields, albeit with the looming presence of a disapproving chaperone lurking somewhere in the background. It’s fun but well supervised fun.

A living detachment exists between the music and listener. Begging the question, have Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. sold out before they were even in? Suddenly the album’s title takes on an altogether more sinister and frightening meaning.

Jonathan Whitelaw


The album is released on May 24th. All info on the band and availability can be found, as ever, on the official website, www.daleearnhardtjrjr.com/.

Review :: ’77 – High Decibels

Dig out your denim


Thrashing drums, whiplash inducing head banging and a sphincter clenching devotion to blistering guitar solos and riffs. Not the usual adjectives reserved for sunny Spain. Shove the paella back in the oven, put away the sunscreen, hard rock n roll is back, lock up your daughters.

By that, of course, the triumphant return of ’77 has occurred. Hailed on M&B as the champions of a dying breed, the cymbal crashing cacophony from Catalonia have produced their follow up to 2010’s 21st Century Rock with a much glossier, slicker produced and still irresistibly thrown back (and up) to the glory days of pub rock.

High Decibels is this highly touted follow up. Less than a sequel and more of a rebranded, better equipped version of the first installment, this album marks a much more professional, intensely matured taste of the band’s talent.  The first difference is the more intensified sense of individual identity. This is hardly surprising. In the eighteen months since their last release, the band have moved from an AC/DC tribute act who played their own material to an act in their own right.

Expanding from their native Spain, this summer sees a continental tour that takes in Germany and Sweden. As profile has risen, so too has the ambition of this four piece outfit. With tracks like “Back Door Man,” “This Girl is on Fire” and “Melting in a Spoon,” a more sinister, edgier vibe is shown here. With lofty ambition comes the same mix of catchy blues riffs, solid solos and the sleaze fuelled harmonies that would make your mother blush.

The near nine minute opus “Promised Land” stands as a testimony to how far this band has come since their debut. Split into multiple parts of changing pace, eclectic imagery and the fundamental three riff hooks that force smiles onto the most maudlin of rock fans, the aspiration of such a project is plain to see. Evoking memories of Bad Company, early KISS and even Led Zeppelin in one song is not something regularly attempted, less carried off. “Promised Land,” however, skirts the line between success and disaster with enough majesty and arrogance that the whole operatic ethos comes off with a plom. The jam session approach, casual riffing and constantly changing tempo and medley is an audio delight.

When 21st Century Rock appeared, there were many who rolled their hypothetical eyes at “another seventies throwback, completely out of touch with the modern music listener.” An unfair but altogether more realistic view of the industry and the chances of such an act. However, defying such criticism and producing a follow up as strong, layered and arguably defining like High Decibels has done nothing short of place ’77 in as strong as position they could hope for. The much cleaner production, bigger, bolder sound and broader audience (the album is available on iTunes) reach will provide an excellent starting point for what should be a big year for the band.

Jonathan Whitelaw


The band’s official website has all relevant information. High Decibels is also available on iTunes: http://www.myspace.com/seventysevenrocks

Advance Album Review :: Greg Holden – I Don’t Believe You

After stumbling across Greg Holden on YouTube a couple of years ago and since being an avid follower of his journey, both musically and geographically, the arrival of his first studio-produced album (released in May 2011) seemed reason enough to write a celebratory piece about his story and music.

Greg has led a somewhat nomadic existence, moving from his birthplace of Aberdeen, Scotland, to various cities in England throughout his childhood and teens and now further afield to New York, drawing on all these locations for lyrical inspiration and musical ideas.


Greg’s relatable lyrics, simple guitar riffs and occasional percussion and piano, can make the toughest of hearts melt. His songs are a platform to discuss heartache, chasing your dreams, confusion, love and music. For those who prefer to listen to the music, and not to analyse every single syllable that’s sung, the musical arrangements on his new album “I Don’t Believe You” will undoubtedly be second-to-none, rivalling some of his indie-folk competitors on the scene at the moment, such as Mumford & Sons and Frank Turner. The album, which was produced in America, was funded by over $30,000 kindly donated by Greg’s fans across the world after Greg, quite literally, sold the clothes off his back to fly to New York in 2009 and worked avidly to make a name for himself. He bombarded YouTube with his “Not My Living Room” series of carefully crafted songs and used other social networking sites to build a strong following. His persistence paid off and he was rewarded with the ultimate gift of a fan-funded album. Perhaps it’s the knowledge that so many people contributed to the creation of the album that makes it so special, or the fact that this young guy from the UK has put his heart and soul into pursuing his dream; whatever it is, the album (and Greg’s music in general) is the perfect companion, whether you’re heartbroken, happy, reflective, romantic, soppy or sad. If you’re not mad on lyrics, the music is a great accompaniment to a lazy Sunday afternoon, easy-listening whilst working or studying or a great distraction from the hustle and bustle of the commute to work.

One of Greg’s best songs, “Bar on A”, perfectly describes his travels and summarises his story, with eclectic and touching lyrics, a powerful chorus and great musicality throughout. This, aswell as citing Bob Dylan as one of his greatest inspirations, shows that Greg plays on simplicity and understated style with heart-warming lyrics, coupled with complementary acoustic guitar riffs (all written and performed by himself) and other instrumenal accompaniement.

Essentially, Greg is another gigging-musician with a guitar, trying desperately to break into the hardest industry on the planet, but his passion and determination have led him towards the path of success. Following a string of headline gigs and supporting tours across the UK, America and Europe, he plans to tour Europe this spring and will be in the UK, supporting Jay Nash, from the 21st to the 27th April.

The album, “I Don’t Believe You” is out in all major digital stores on May 31st 2011. [J]

Check Greg’s music, videos, tour info and album news out at: www.gregholdenonline.com

Advanced Album Review :: Delta Maid – Outside Looking In

Prepare yourselves for the next big Blues thing


Delta Maid

Delta Maid

Having appeared here recently on Moon & Back Music with a unique and enchanting cover of The Black Keys’ “Tighten Up” the anthem of a thousand misspent hours on FIFA 11! She is, of course much more than simply a popularity jockey, much, much more. In fact she could very well be one of the biggest indie acts in Britain before the year is at an end.


The monumentally strong positive vibe around Delta Maid is something that is emphatically enjoyable and refreshing in the modern era of music. Hailing from the musically rich shores of the Mersey in Liverpool, there must be something in the water there, this young, blonde, blues-woman has been touring the length and breadth of the country with her vivaciously jolly, upbeat and most importantly traditional take on delta and blues rock.

So, with great pleasure, M&B can present an advanced preview of her upcoming debut album, Outside Looking In released on the 9th of May. Acting as what will surely be a massive springboard for the commercial success of this young artist, Outside Looking In is fine example of what, how, where, why and when a debut album of a musically conscious act should release in this topsy-turvy world of music.

A country and blues album first and foremost, the album debuts with “Broken Branches,” a softly spoken, lightly finger plucked blues based track that shines a wonderfully warm and welcoming summer’s glow on the rest of the album. The southpaw, southern charms of Delta continue through “Spend a Little Time,” “Running on Empty” and “All I Dreamed” each a masterfully crafted arc of mild bourbon flavoured country that can’t help but make even the hardest of listener’s foot tap gently.

The titular track acts as vague interval between the separate parts of the album, a track very much in the vein of Patsy Cline. By her own admission, Delta is heavily influenced by Cline and her ilk, a fact that is very prominent throughout the duration the album. Although many have attempted to recreate the soulfully rich and lamentably spiritual qualities of the rockabilly and honky-tonk queen, very few have ever succeeded. Of course it would be foolish to say that Delta Maid is the next in line to the throne but it would not be a far stretch of imagination to see it perhaps in the future.

A wonderful boiling pot of variance, both in tempo and genre, Outside Looking In is thirteen tracks of diverse, lovingly crafted songs that seemingly offers a great deal to a lot of people. From the high tempo, borderline indie pop tracks like “Of My Own” and “Back the Last Horse,” Pretenders fans will find great comfort and pleasure in these electrocuted, beat intensive tracks.

In comparison, Delta Maid breaks the hearts of the listeners, quite literally with the soul founded, almost scarring tragedies like “Dance With my Broken Heart.” “Footprints” also follows in this vein, her musical and vocal range abilities more than displayed and vaunted for the benefit of her audience.

In all Outside Looking In is an album of great depth and talent. This, in theory, should act as nothing more than accelerating catalysts for a young woman on the cusp of a fabulous career. As is often the case, however, this may not in fact BE the case. With the frankly tempest like atmosphere that surrounds the industry at the moment, a fine line exists between success and failure, regardless of ability. Let us all hope then that Delta Maid is a name that will be more than welcomed in venues radios and downloads for many years to come.

Jonathan Whitelaw


Outside Looking In is availible from the 9th of May, 2011. Check out Delta’s official site for furtehr details, touring dates etc : http://www.myspace.com/deltamaid

Advanced Album Review :: A Clean Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen – A Clean Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen

Ex pat Craig Ward brings his Belgian influences to the mainstream for the first time in an experimental debut album.


ACKHK

A Clean Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen

Sighting experimental, progressive and rock as the three main genres of their music, A Clean Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen (ACKHK) are very much on the borderline between creative art and unadulterated noise. Catering very much to a niche market with their self titled and styled debut album, ACKHK could be the answer to the question you’ve been asking yourself.

Formed by Scotsman Craig Ward and Bootsie Butsenzeller, this trio made complete with Zahnoun Ben Younes on bass have been making some noise, no pun intended, on their respective circuits in Antwerp for a number of years. Finding kindred spirits in each other’s abilities and musical tastes, ACKHK was formed, the explosive and volatile experimental sound that is a signature of their work coming together nicely.

As debut albums go, A Clean Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen could be interpreted in one of two ways. Either it is seen as a rather stuttering start for a band seemingly trying to break into a mainstream audience beyond the borders of their native Belgium. Or conversely for those fans who are much more inclined to listen to improvised guitars, highly smashed synthesizers and just the faintest touch of a percussion section, it could be heralded as one of the greatest of all time.

With tracks such as “Farmers with Televisions”, “Priss” and “Safety Shot”, Ward and his band mates keep their cards close to their chest when inviting listeners into their world. Bemoaning lyrics poorly dubbed in behind the music and a permanently distorted sense of production are no doubt staples of the groups own sense of art and styling. However to the uneducated in the world of improvised and frankly ignorant members of the public and therefore those outside of the bands already established fan base, this comes across as arrogant at best.

Indeed the album and ACKHK are competent at what they do, it just seems confusing to the listeners as to what that is exactly. In regards to their attempt to spread to a wider audience, it is both a brave and perhaps misguided decision to have such an inwardly directed, self satisfying record as this in which to progress any further. To further confuse listeners, acts such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer, KISS and Rush are cited as influences. Of course the adage that this music would not be made if punters did not listen to it can always be said and the best of luck in the future can be given to this currently unsigned act.

Jonathan Whitelaw


The band’s debut is released on the 21st of March 2011 via Jezus Factory Records: http://www.myspace.com/riefenstahl23, http://www.heavenhotel.be/jezusfactory/start.php?var=bands&BID=9

Album Review :: Jamiroquai – Rock Dust Light Star

Jamiroquai have been around for 18 years and have produced some dancefloor classics. Now, they are back after a five year break but does ‘Rock Dust Light Star’ live up to any expectations we might have had after their previous albums?

Jamiroquai’s music has rarely fallen outside the “acid-funk” genre that best describes their sound and has generally been a hit across the board with young and old listeners alike. The changing faces of the collaborators have always been fronted by the effervescent Jay Kay and his outlandish hats. It has been argued that Jay Kay is best known for those hats, his love of fast cars and his penchant for famous (or not so) women, however, in terms of his music, there’s no denying there’s some clear songwriting ability, knowledge of how to seduce people with some of the best bass riffs around and some sustainable funk that’s maintained the band’s presence in the music industry for almost 2 decades.

Rock Dust Light Star has echoes of early 80’s disco combined with the synthesisers and technological tricks of today’s electric generation. Jay Kay’s vocal is, as always, up to scratch and the lyrics are (mostly) imaginative and interesting.

The majority of this album, the 7th for Jamiroquai, has a Saturday night pre-drinks vibe with a whiff of a lazy Sunday afternoon; a good album for the weekend. It’s the kind of album that may grace the Radio 2 playlist or an ’easy-listening for the over 30’s’ album but you’ll probably hear a track or two track on Radio 1 or have seen Jay Kay’s (awkward – after insulting the show’s judges) performance of “White Knuckle Ride” on the X Factor. All things considered, Jamiroquai seem to know how to create music for the masses and are understated but seemingly popular, with this album debuting at number 7 in the UK album chart.

After listening to the album a few times, the band have certainly found comfort in the familiar disco-ball funk that we would expect from them, with songs such as ‘White Knuckle Ride’ and ‘All Good In The Hood’ combining funky bass-riffs, falsetto vocals and sultry saxophones but unfortunately, songs such as ‘Blue Skies’ and ‘Never Gonna Be Another’, which stray from the usual dance-material and creep into the clichéd-pop category , fall short of the mark.

The opening and end of the album are good, with catchy songs and memorable instrumentals but there is a slight dip in the middle. Jay Kay singing cheesey ballads isn’t something I would expect and for me, doesn’t work, but the typical Jamiroquai funk will make me listen to the album, just not on repeat.

Perhaps it’s time, after 18 years, for the funk-veterans to move over and let new dubstep and electro bands take over the dancefloor? [J]

Thanks to Mercury Music for sending the album for review.

http://jamiroquai.co.uk/

Album Review :: The Black Keys – Brothers

American blues rockers delight fans and critics alike with their latest offering in what is set to be a breakout year.


The Black Keys

The Black Keys - Brothers © Nonesuch

With a unique and groundbreaking approach to rock music, The Black Keys have been making a name for themselves since their formation in 2001. Now, with the release of their sixth studio album Brothers, the Ohio due of Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney team with notable producer Danger Mouse of Gnarls Barkley to deliver what could potentially be the climax of their musical and artistic opus.


Formed in Akron, Ohio, a city that notes Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hynde and the smooth talking, moustached master Clark Gable, The Black Keys are predominantly a blues and indie rock band who take most of their inspiration from the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. From their formation in 2001 and with their breakout album Attack & Release in 2008, Auerbach and Carney have steadily readied a loyal fan base that includes prominent rockers Robert Plant and Billy Gibbons. The band have also found notable fame for a number of their songs appearing in various forms of the media, the video game GTA IV and numerous TV shows in the states sampling their work. In all, The Black Keys seem to have hit their stride and are not about to take their foot off of the pedal.

Continuing effectively where they left off in 2008, Brothers has been described by critics and the band alike as feeling the most natural sounding of the group’s albums to date. At a whopping fifteen tracks, sixteen if the vinyl is bought or the track is downloaded via the band’s website, there is certainly a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to material. Opening with the lumbering “Everlasting Light”, a more than Zeppelin esque that pays a great tribute to the old delta blues and sounds like it has been put through the rusty engine of an old Mid West tractor, the album continues this strong opening offering with “Next Girl” and “Tighten Up” the later being the album’s first single.

It is not until the fifth track of the album, however, with “She’s Long Gone” that the whole work as a piece of musical and artist ability really tarts to pick up pace. This track, with Auerbach’s guitar work bleeding through the amps and speakers like the ghost of a tormented old bluesman that the true ability of this duo is really put on show. Once again a very early seventies Zeppelin feel about the song, with its grainy production and whaling vocals, which of course can be no bad thing.  This feel and moping blues laments are continued with “Ten Cent Pistol” “I’m Not the One” and “Sinister Kid” all bring the ambiance and general tone and feel of the album alive, filling it and the listener with a heartfelt confidence and attachment to the band.

Rounding out the blues behemoth is the much slower, almost ballad like “These Days”. A wonderfully crafted slow number that perfectly compliments the rest of the album, Auerbach’s sleepy vocals coupled with his whining guitar and Carney’s downtrodden drumming make the listener feel like they are back on the bayou, a fishing line tied to your toe and a straw hat resting over your face to cover you from the sun. The imagery is evocative and intensely intoxicating, a tribute no less to the master craftsmen of the band.

In all Brothers is a very enjoyable and listenable album, one which is bound to be the band’s biggest hit to date and propel them into a much wider sitting audience, an accolade they most definitely deserve. Debuting with strong download and sales, the album debuting at number three in the states alone, Brothers is a fine introductory, if a little repetitive, example of The Black Keys work.

Jonathan Whitelaw


Check out the band’s official website for tour dates, profiles, discography and news: http://www.theblackkeys.com

Promo & Advance Review :: Sound of Guns – What Came From Fire

…as British as Wimbledon but with more balls (pun not intended)

Just over a month ago I received an album dictating the future of British rock. It’s scratchy guitar refrains, sing-along chants and raw sound draw on the best of 50 years of British rock and punk. We’re talking The Kinks mixed with The Clash, Pistols with Verve, Oasis with The Rolling Stones. The album is called What Came From Fire, it’s by Sound of Guns, and it’s released on the 28th.

For big-sounding indie-rock anthems, nothing has come so refreshing since Whatever People Say I Am… The raw energy displayed throughout the What Came From Fire has justifiably earned Sound of Guns massive fans like Steve Lamacq and Zane Lowe. It’s quality cannot be underestimated: here’s a band that know exactly what they want to do and how they want to do it.

There aint much complex stuff going on here: it’s distorted riffs and power chords, simple bass licks and pounding drums pretty much throughout. Opening two tracks Architects and Alcatraz provide a strong back-bone for the rest of the album that grabs you by not by the ears but whole face and demands a listen. Their punky guitar just shouts out at you “turn me up”, which you obligingly do. Simply, if you’re stuck in traffic with this on, you’re gonna annoy alot of fuckin people.

The album was produced by Chris Potter (Verve, U2) and it shows a bit too much at times. 106 (Still The Words) slows the pace too much with prog-sounding synthy guitairs. Ballad-esque Starts With An End sounds like a History rip-off and, being the final track, taints the album and leaves a depressing and unfortunate after-taste. But, if there’s one thing both tracks shows it’s potential and confidence to explore.

Final verdict time then: for a debut album, Sound of Guns’ What Came From Fire is strong. Very strong. It’s raw, heartfelt, stadium rock. It’s as British as Wimbledon but with more balls (pun not intended). It’s lineage and influences are strong and it’s confidence is felt. Simply, this is a band you’re not going to be able to ignore for much longer.


http://www.myspace.com/soundofguns

Sound Of Guns – Alcatraz

Promo & Advance Review :: Sean Rowe – ‘Magic’

Sean Rowe, by James Robinson. Seanrowe.net

Sean Rowe, by James Robinson. Seanrowe.net

Rustic, natural, deep: Sean Rowe’s ‘Magic’ is released 25th May.

Sean Rowe hails from Albany, NY. His debut album ‘Magic’ was released in the US late last year and is set for release to the UK market on the 25th May. It is no surprise that he has been writing and performing since the age of thirteen: his songs have that richness and depth that tends to be reserved for more established artists.

The depth of Rowe’s musical talent resides in both his lyrics and their delivery. Themes for his songs can be seen as standard – love, life, the past (‘The Long Haul”, “Wet”), the natural wilderness. But it’s the rough, homespun yarns of unpolished lyrics which elevates his writing above many other singer-songwriters. Rowe rasps “You are nothing but the fragrance of an old dream / but that was just time playing tricks on my mind” on opener “Surpise”, which has similar melodies and progression to Springsteen’s “The River”.

Rowe’s delivery lies somewhere between Tom Waits and Bonnie Prince Billy: rough and rasping but with a painful tenderness. Simple melodies are enhanced by bluesy-folk guitar which creates something a bit more than minimalist in tracks such “Time to Think” and “Old Black Dodge” and very near to country-rock with “Jonathan” and “Wrong Side of the Bed”.

‘Magic’ is a strong debut album from a clearly talented musician with a very distinct delivery. Whilst mainstream success is clearly not something ‘Magic’ would achieve, it is certainly an album that deserves attention if your tastes are even slightly folk or blues orientated.


MySpace | Sean Rowe.net

Album Review :: Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of its original release, Ronnie James Dio’s Black Sabbath debut gets the deluxe and double disk treatment.


Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath - Heaven and Hell © Universal Music

With the 30th anniversary of its release having just passed, Black Sabbath’s seminal 1980 album Heaven and Hell is treated to a deluxe edition revamp from good folks at Universal Music. The album, the first since the unceremonious firing of charismatic front man Ozzy Osbourne, the Birmingham metal gods produce a stand up early 80s metal masterpiece despite the numerous trials and tribulations each of the members were suffering through at the time.


Replacing a front man is never an easy task for anybody to achieve. It is even more difficult when the man you are replacing is Ozzy Osbourne, the self styled Prince of Darkness and general, all round hell raiser extraordinaire. This was the task that befell seminal second division screamer Ronnie James Dio as he was approached in 1979 to replace Osbourne, the departure the result of his growing unreliability mainly put down to his excessive substance and alcohol abuse, a mighty task considering the band as a whole were no angels in that field anyway. Combined with remaining original members Tony Iommi on guitars, Geezer Butler on bass, Bill Ward on drums and the inclusion of Geoff Nichols on keyboards, Black Sabbath entered the 1980s seeking some retribution and a fresh start from their rather stagnant act that had plagued them for much of the 1970s, their initial success having worn off a long time previous.

Heaven and Hell is very much a heavy metal album, not surprising coming form one of the genres biggest and best pioneers. Debuting in 1980 it should be noted that of the three bands who sought the heavy metal sound that is known now, the others being Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, Sabbath always considered themselves the hardest and, arguably, darkest, certainly from a lyrical point of view. Songs like “Lady Evil” and “Neon Knights” are classic sounding Sabbath numbers, Iommi’s dark and heavy riffing combined with the distinctly different approach to singing provided by Dio make the whole album gel together nicely, percussion is on course as ever from Sabbath, Butler’s blistering bass not letting up at all and the thrashing of Ward’s drumming providing the spine on which the whole outfit projects from. Ward in 1980 was arguably one of the best rock and metal drummers in the world, a feat he is not often considered for due to what can only be described as his extra curricular activities off, and sometimes on, stage.

The true beauty of Heaven and Hell lies in the band’s ability in versatility. As a genre, heavy metal especially in its infancy is not often citied for such things as dynamic versatility but Sabbath are more than capable of breaking tradition. At the dawn of the decade the so called New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) was introducing bands such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, bands who took heavy metal in a much more epic direction, big, arena sized songs and huge scoped lyrics that spoke of legends and myths and creatures of the night. No longer would metal be reserved to the dank and rather small, graveyard sized topics, fans wanted their metal large and they were happily fed it. It is therefore pleasant to hear songs like “Wishing Well” and “Children of the Sea”, songs that hold a much more grandous sense of scale, the latter being inspiration for Iron Maiden’s “Children of the Damned” from 1982s Number of the Beast.

Included in the deluxe re-issue of Heaven and Hell is a bonus disk featuring live editions of the more popular songs from the album. Spanning across different performances, all from 1980, it should be important to note that out of the seven additional tracks, two of which are “Heaven and Hell”, another two tracks are “Children of the Sea” making the thought that although this deluxe edition of the album is not quite as full as previously thought. Although the production has been stepped up, cleaning the songs which are now three decades old, the fact that Sabbath are pumping this and the rest of the Dio years albums seems to be a rather callous money making scheme from Dio who is and has been reportedly dying for the past decade it would seem. None the less, Heaven and Hell is a worthy album of metal standing that should be enjoyed by fans.

Jonathan Whitelaw


The album is on general release in all major record shops and check out the band’s official website: www.blacksabbath.com