HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Seven Witches - Amped
(Candlelight USA)

Weird chemistry or lack thereof that rubs together and chafes and sort of works. S'funny, I can't help of thinking about the vocalist/guitarist tension embedded in classic years Steel Prophet when I think of Jack and his tonsil-twisters. In any event, this time there's the very human, slightly inaccurate, rich of voice and intellect Alan Tecchio up there doing battle with Frost and his relentless vision amidst constant change. Tecchio brings the arcane approach of his Hades and Non-Fiction work to bear, turning in lyrics about bikes, Buffy, terrorist conspiracies, honour killings, and famous people beating the courts, while Jack cranks the weirdly blue collar metal. Not crazy about the drum sound on this, or some of the other production tones, and the low-down, mean, non-melodic, "modern" riffs from Frost get tedious. A smart, proggy but hooky ballad, a total reworking of Billy Idol's Flesh For Fantasy (so bad, it's good), and a strangely arranged rocker called Red help temper the blunt instrumentation of the first half. And closer Widows And Orphans offers additional twists and turns. Still, the cheap piano sound and the clacky bass drums sorta distract, as does Tecchio's wayward wailing - even if his humanity is a welcome addition to this machine.
Rating 7

Soul Doctor - For A Fistful Of Dollars

Onto record #3 for ex-Fair Warning belter Tommy Heart and his sleaze rockers vacuum-packed in a different time. What you have here is a German band celebrating all manner of cock rock clichˇ, concentrating on the roots rock ones circa Aerosmith, Crue, Cinderella, Tesla, Poison in blues mode, Bon Jovi, Tommy's soulful phrasings going to a Chris Robinson/Charlie Huhn state of mind. There's a certain lack of irony or awareness that happens when Americana is celebrated from afar, and Soul Doctor benefit from this idea of jumping in with all eight feet (no pirates in this band, are there?). The gospel-ish power ballad Remember is bloody awful, as is the synthetic brass, but Chris Lyne's riffs are Slash-y/Perry-ish enough, while Heart is a consummate vocalist for this kind of happy, humpy, sudsy rock. Perfect but sharp-edged production adds favourably to the effect. Chase with Russell Allen's Atomic Soul.
Rating 6.5

Hard Reviews Page 3