Hard Reviews
by Martin Popoff

Fresh Metal

Deep Purple - Abandon

Bloody 'ell, the Purps prove the magnificence of Purpendicular was no fluke, all that shuck and jive about Steve Morse fitting in and fueling, turning out to be dead serious. So Abandon (or as the cover suggests: ABandOn, geddit?) emerges, and a bunch of 50-years-olds has just restated their top tier creativity, maturity, sonic sensuality, and effortless hard rock joy. So journalistic and fan buzz on this record is highly positive for good reason, the band compressing their unquestionable chemistry with Morse, settling into what is mostly a surprisingly heavy, mid-pace, grinding blues metal hybrid. What churns authoritatively out the other end is more like complicated, electrified, diddly riffs with a funk edge, no small credit to Jon Lord's anachronistic Hammond drone, Lord's power chords rising to meet the sanitized ones from Morse, the two meeting in the middle for more of that there uh, chemistry, a chemistry that is oddly transparent, built of individual performances that are entirely subtle and ego-void, yet ironically worthy in isolation. Paicey's the pantheon of elegance as usual, really getting to let fly on personal fave Seventh Heaven, a grumbly, rumbly forboding metal masher with an odd time signature and one of those cryptic, knowing rocker-past-morality lyrics. Which is a concept that ebbs and flows through most of Gillan's irresistable, playful woids, Ian mixing the colour of place and memory with this quite uncharted theme of what happens when life has delivered way too much in the way of fun. Main complaint: few of those drop-dead life-enhancing melodies that took Purpendicular stratospheric. But on the flip, that makes Abandon a less pandering, more musicianly, tough-hided, walk through dark woods, more of an even-keeled, deliberate concept. Chucking on Bl(u)dsucker at the end of this feast is a taint. This is a band living so vitally in the present, they need not plunder an equally illustrious past. Oh yeah, and one mark deducted for two underachieving blooz, Don't Make Me Happy and Jack Ruby. But a minor nitpick really, for a record that is a major melding of aging minds once again on fire with possibility. Now let's see the system work and reward what is simply and objectively good art.
Rating 9

Boiler - The NEW Professionals

Some kinda core here, but damned if I know which one, new boys Boiler strapped confidently between hardcore and slowcore, unto uh, groovecore. But given that these funner Crowbars hail from college town Ithaca NY, there's a sardonic and articulate sense of humour to the thing, taking Boiler into the humanity zones of yer minor sensations Stuck Mojo and Pist-On. Rhythms, riffs, just enough melody to cause contrast, and lyrics somewhere between Minutemen and Biohazard all bunch up somewhat invitingly, even as the uncompromised, rudimentary crunch of an Alex Perialas threatens more than it beckons. If I liked this grrrrangry, caged corner of metal more, I'd possibly call this upper quartile, but as it stands, most of it bangs my head, and not my heart.
Rating 7

Paul Gilbert - King Of Clubs

Mr. Big's sprightly sparkly axeman paints his world in the rainbow hues of his main influence and lifelove The Beatles, slotting into line another product thereof, King Of Clubs buzzing comfortably on a shelf populated with Cheap Trick, Enuff Znuff, Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson records. And of course, given a past bookended by shred machines Racer X and Mr. Big, Gilbert exhibits a certain Vai-cynical disdain for the process, marbling the record with punctuations of light-speed Zappa zaps. But a fair dose of this is cloying, annoying, trite and way too precious, Girls Who Can Read Your Mind, Vinyl and Girlfriend's Birthday sounding like The Records (uh, actually a fabulous old skinny tie band who you don't remember). So if you can accept Gilbert's girle emotions, thereby controlling the hysterical sugar fix associated with these highly-arranged, chops-proud Enuff Znuff songs, you'll be in for a sonic treat built of the man's sweet vocal work and even sweeter six-string inflections, again, Gilbert containing his own rainbow in those bluesy, blurring hands of his.
Rating 7

Hard Reviews Part 2