Healing Through Fire (Sanctuary)
I've always had it in for these UK doom minimalists, but I'm starting to warm (ahem) to their world, especially with the slow seepage into the sound of American beard-pullin' stoner rock, more riffs, a little more goin' on, here on their fifth album, newly away from Lee Dorrian and Rise Above. Ben Ward's hoary vocals either sound hollow or really incisive like Neil Fallon, making for a wide spectrum. The riffs are circular and note-dense and musical, again, more like American stoner rock (Fu Manchu, say) than doom, and the production is unbelievably wet at the drum end. Alabama Thunder Pussy is a good comparative, although Orange Goblin retain their long frustrating underground stand-offishness. A rough 'n' tumble live DVD is added for enticement, but the real substance comes with the hazy, crazy studio CD and the band's high quality horror lyrics.
Live For Tomorrow (Frontiers)
I've always been in awe of Marco's talents as a bassist, singer and stage mover 'n' shaker, based on Ted Nugent, Whitesnake and Thin Lizzy shows I've seen him mojo-work. And here he is on his first solo album, and no surprises. Richie Kotzen is the main collaborator (there are many guest stars) and together they of course make sweet and funky classic rock. The production is oddly a little bass-less, I suppose designed so the clarity of his many notes can be heard. Vocally, Mendoza gets a little histrionic like Hughes, again, expected, because he's damn good and likely wanted to showboat a bit (he's also a bit high in the mix). Fun, upbeat hard rock album here, but a bit distractedly thin and snappy of mix, as well as a bit too funk-leaning for my tastes.
Hard Reviews Page 4