HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Beyond Fear - Beyond Fear

Finally Ripper gets to run his own ship, having assembled a band close by rustbelt home, thereafter leading the charge by writing half of these songs himself (Ripper's a passable guitarist) and co-writing the other half with one of his two axemen John Comprix and Dwane Bihary. The sound is wholly unsurprising but worthy and executed well. Jugulator, Demolition, PainMuseum, Painkiller, jackhammering Bruce/Roy Z, early and late and not middle Machine Head, heavy Eidolon, heavy Iced Earth and heavy EvergreyÉ bolt that together with mechanistic, hard sheen production, and that's where this energetic, world-beating album goes. I prefer the earthier rock 'n' rollsy numbers, such as I Don't Need This, My Last Words and the highly catchy Coming At You, and can do without the heavier than thou ones, especially when the lyrics get trite (the first one's about a metal monster). As expected Ripper puts on a great vocal performance, playing with the arrangements a bit, and adding a few thespian moves; plus his voice seems to have changed a bitÉ with age? I wouldn't say it's mellowed, maybe interestingly thinned? Anyway, a cool first step, a measure of variety, but maybe just a bit too grimly clanking and double bass-barraged in total for my particular liking, which is the way I felt about Jugulator and Demolition.
Rating 7.5

Tucky Buzzard - Time Will be Your Doctor

Tucky Buzzard were one of them cool, obscure early '70s acts that weren't exactly heavy, but were seen as such, what with their long hair and rude blues 'n' prog tendencies (see also Blodwyn Pig, Three Man Army, Tear Gas, Juicy Lucy). Five albums would happen, and actually, of that above list, the Buzzard could cook up quite a power chord bluster - on their last two albums (not included here) and on their second, Warm Slash, included in this two-CD comp, along with their elegiac first and rare (Spain-only) and most progressive third. Fact is, this is the type of compilation I wholeheartedly approve of, 'cause, yes, over two CDs, it blasts the first three albums in succession, no deletions. The sound of all three of these albums is thick and warm and always quite bold of ambition and indeed delivery. This was a dramatic band brimming with ideas, with strings and acoustic guitars and harmonies and long songs studding the rare third album, Coming On Again. One could almost call these guys a strange and intriguing cross between Free and Uriah Heep, maybe even Purple Mark I crossed with Purple Mark II and a bit of Humble Pie as a last course. A classy six panel booklet accompanies the righteous old rock, with half of those panels telling in abbreviated form, the complicated story of this under-rated band that shoulda been bigger but stalled, despite the mentorship of Bill Wyman and their eventual signing to Deep Purple's Purple Records.
Rating 8

Hard Reviews Page 5