Blue Snaggletooth

Dimension Thule

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Ann Arbor, Michigan’s Blue Snaggletooth will make ya throw the horns – like a Tiefling or Kobold, man. These self-proclaimed D&D lovers pour down fire and rain in the eight battles with the forces of decay and doldrum-ery on Dimension Thule. Whilst such fantasy rooted fare can often be a goofy tickle-feather, Blue Snaggletooth rock with the ball-vibrating chooglin’ of Drunk Horse married to the amp-striding muscle of Saxon and the meat-n-taters boogie of vintage Molly Hatchet, consistently rolling “20” on this end-to-end pleasure. In fact, even with titles like “Death of the Time Lords” and “Swords of Atlantis” this doesn’t come off as fairies and fireballs. These guys really have achieved their goal of painting “aural pictures not unlike Frank Frazetta and Larry Elmore.” Close your eyes and visions of rippling muscles, crimson skies, clanging steel and heaving maiden flesh rise. It’s a beautiful thing, and there’s more than a touch of space rock, where “Sector 7” and “Star Flight” set controls for the same cosmic patch that once fueled early LSD/guitar rock synthesizers. Closer “Fireball Island” could be a missing track from Ace of Spades, and there’s no finer orbit than Lemmy. Ultimately, there are so many promising, pleasing aspects to Dimension Thule that it should put this band on the watch list of any serious hard rock enthusiast. (Dennis Cook)

Download the album here, where there’s also an option for Dimension Thule on 12″ blue vinyl in a limited edition of 300 with a hand silk screened black light album cover. Package includes lyric sheet and immediate download of 8-track album in your choice of MP3 320, FLAC, or just about any other format you could possibly desire.

'77

High Decibels

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It’s natural to miss Bon Scott. Rock just ain’t been quite the same since the AC/DC frontman’s sudden demise in 1980. However, Spain’s ’77 is doing their part to ease our collective Bon ache. Many bands have attemped to evoke the AC/DC of the Scott years but no one has come closer to capturing the slippery, purely carnal mojo of that period than ’77. And while their 2010 debut, 21st Century Rock (DI review), got the basic feel down cold – particularly Bon’s distinctive phrasing and growl – the follow-up, High Decibels (released March 13 on Listenable) shows they’ve got the makings and pummeling talent to eventually knock out their own Let There Be Rock and Highway To Hell.

Like their debut, the fingerprints of their touchstone inspiration are readily apparent, but where High Decibels betters its predecessor is in the increasing complications and subtle touches that step away from Angus, Malcolm, et al. This time they draw upon the Chuck Berry, old electric blues root stuff that originally sparked AC/DC. There are also echoes of early Alice Cooper Band and even Thin Lizzy (think “The Rocker”), and overall this is less slavish to any template. The songwriting is considerably stronger – anti-heroin number “Melting In A Spoon” and broken-hearted near-ballad “Since You’ve Been Gone” are both cool evolutions, and closer “Promised Land” has the revelatory range of AC/DC classics like “Ride On” and “Overdose” – yet they still pull off the glorious dumbstick trick of making titles like “Let’s Beat It Up” and “Are You Ready For Rock ‘n’ Roll” not just stupid anthem red meat. The basics mean something to ’77 and their passion for them renews the listener’s own love of the fundamentals.

With High Decibels, ’77 taps into rock’s primal truths and administers an adrenaline shot to the genre’s heart, waking it up with a throaty come-on, irresistible twin guitars skipping madly atop a crunching, never teetering rhythm section as they chase down birds and good times with a wink and a leer.

While the CD is a pricey import in the U.S., the album is available as a download for $7.99 here.

Gentlemans Pistols

At Her Majesty’s Pleasure

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True Lothario rockers, Leeds, England-based Gentlemans Pistols come on strong in a lot of ways. Striding up with a naughty grin and making their guitars buck like the Sunset Strip in 1984 (strong echoes of L.A. Guns and that other firearm titan with Roses in their name) mingled with the clean, mean lines of early solo Ozzy and Megadeth. At Her Majesty’s Pleasure (released June 21 on Metal Blade in the States) is their second album and it unravels with unapologetic ardor for 80s hard rock and metal. It’s not that say vintage Deep Purple or Nazareth enthusiasts won’t find plenty to vibe off of here but this is classic rock that finds its origins in young Axl Rose, Ratt and the party side of Mötley Crüe. Lyrically, there’s an amusing mock-aristocratic tone evident even in just song titles like “The Ravisher” and “Your Majesty” and the unicorn headed nudies that adorn the band’s “crest,” an approach really only seen with the same tongue-in-cheek glee with under-sung stomp rockers in powdered wigs The Upper Crust. It also doesn’t hurt that Gentlemans Pistols features the shreddy attack of former Carcass/Napalm Death guitarist Bill Steer. What elevates At Her Majesty’s Pleasure above a cheeky lark is the pummeling performances and downright catchy songwriting. This one’s perfect for loud, boozin-ready crankin’, and maybe a discreet in-and-out the boudoir window tryst…or three.

Black Country Communion

2

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Depending on the angle of your dangle – say it points northward towards Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and other vinyl era originators – Black Country Communion might be your new favorite band. A super group of sorts, really more a confabulation of serious working musicians, Glenn Hughes (bass, vocals), Jason Bonham (drums), Derek Sherinian (keys) and Joe Bonamassa (guitar, vocals) generate an enormous, powerful roar on 2 (released June 14 on J&R Adventures). More than an attempt to recreate the sound of another era, BCC suggest what Zep might have turned out like had they continued on past In Through the Out Door, a potent, boldly drawn music built on blues, big ideas, huge feelings and ridiculously fine musicianship.

get caught in the crossfire…

Iron Maiden

The Final Frontier

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[amtap amazon:asin=B003JTHESA] 30 years into a recording career isn’t usually the time most bands choose to create their most adventurous, unpredictable album, but Iron Maiden isn’t “most” bands. Despite having provided more than one of the blueprints for modern metal, these Brits continue to mine fresh terrain on their fifteenth studio album, The Final Frontier (released August 17 on Sony Legacy/Universal), which partially echoes their sci-fi obsessed late 80s work but goes a good deal further in sounding almost entirely un-Maiden-like, grafting interesting new features onto all the sturdy things that have made them one of the biggest, most beloved bands in the past quarter century.

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Ratt

Infestation

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[amtap amazon:asin=B0034K7QXM]To say an established band, especially one getting on in years, is “revitalized” has become a hoary cliché but it really does seem like Ratt has been eating their Wheaties on Infestation (released April 20), their seventh studio set and first original collection in over 10 years. These 11 tough, yummy sleaze rockers reveal how nobody else, try as they might, quite sounds like Ratt, apparently one of the few outfits besides Motley Crüe that can hold a candle to their 80s salad days.

The formulas that drew their core audience aren’t broken, and Ratt is smart enough to know that and play to their strengths – i.e. bad boy rockers with pointy incisors and rocker-gal-wooing love songs (Best of Me and Take Me Home are semi-sensitive, chick-ready backseat warm-ups so perfect they’ll make your spandex swell three sizes). Charging out of the speakers with that peculiar dirty-yet-studio-clean pure 80s sound, Infestation is enjoyable enough to make one call off the exterminator for the indefinite future – as long as they keep ’em coming like this.

Krokus

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[amtap amazon:asin=B00332DJP0]

Krokus isn’t sophisticated but it is hard rock nourishment. Hell, the song “Rock ‘n’ Roll Handshake” is about an actual handshake and not just a clunky euphemism. It’s endearing to find a band so deeply in love with sweaty, long hair, mainstream (albeit of another era) hard rock.

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Airboune

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[amtap amazon:asin=B00342URJ0]Bands have spent decades trying to crack the AC/DC nut so they too might create rock with the same foundational perfection. The overwhelming majority have failed, sounding at best like a caricature of the masters. However, fellow Australians Airbourne have dug out AC/DC’s sweet meat on their sophomore platter, No Guts. No Glory (released March 8 on Roadrunner). AC/DC can be a good laugh but never treat the material as laughable, and Airbourne does the same, resulting in pure hard rock that by turns evokes both Bon-era bite and the rounder pop sophistication of the Brian Johnson years.
ready to kick your ass from here to Sydney