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Turbowolf - Two Hands

Posted on March 21, 2015 at 12:40 AM Comments comments ()


They've found their sound, but does album number two deliver?

After my gushing for Turbowolf over the last two months, it’s about time I sat down and properly listened to their new record Two Hands. Second albums always leave me sceptical, I mean, so much work goes into a debut and then a couple of years later the follow up comes out and you’re, more often than not, left with a bitter taste in the mouth. However, Turbowolf have left a considerable amount of time between records, their last album was in 2011, and the line-up has changed since then. With all their creativity they must have come up with something original, shouldn’t they? Well let’s have a look see.

Straight from the get go, they start with a slow builder that sets atmosphere, much like the first but this album wastes very little time getting in to the nit and gritty with songs like Invisible Hand and Rabbits Foot dictating the pace. If you’re familiar with the band you might have heard a fair portion of this record already, with five tracks being played live and on the radio but this album is packed with so much more creativity and intensity.

My favourite tune on the album has to be, American Mirrors for it really fun interesting riff and catchy chorus. Also, Good Hand is a decent little tune and with a cool beat, that’s fun to bop to. The production is really nice and fits the band well, I think they have found their sound by now and it works for them, in fact, I know of very few bands that could pull it off. The riffs are absolutely excellent and the bass lines complement them nicely. Andy’s guitar work ranges from badass to just fun and bouncy.


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The synth is nicely executed to, but in my opinion there’s a little too much on certain tracks like Rich Gift, it’s a good song but it took me several attempts to reach the end. Also, I think the writing isn’t as tight this time around, I don’t know, maybe a lot of these songs are growers, but here and now, it’s just difficult to listen to from start to finish. Not much else negative to say really.

There’s a lot on this record, it’s quite a long album, but I can’t say I was ever bored at any time, and I don’t think there is anything that doesn’t work. It’s a fun and intriguing... 

Read the rest of the review on our new website here -



Soldierfield Unveil Video For The Only War

Posted on March 20, 2015 at 8:50 PM Comments comments ()


New video taken from the Manchester band's record, Catharsis

British metal band Soldierfield today release the official video for The Only War, the single is taken from the highly acclaimed 2014 album Catharsis.

Vocalist Leigh Oates comments: “We’re really happy with the track, it’s everything Soldierfield is about; we hope you like the vid, the Wasp Video guys did a great job in keeping us looking cool”.

Since its release in November 2014, Catharsis has garnered great reviews across the board, inspiring many fantastic reviews including: “Soldierfield have delivered an album vying for the title of best UK Metal album of the year” and “a strong contender for essential albums to own”.


"The thing that stands out about this record is how well produced and well thought out the songs are. Complex structures made to sound simple is not an easy task to pull off and shows the attention to detail that fills this record. If Soldierfield can perform the songs with this same attention to detail then nothing will stop them."

Read our review of Catharsis here.

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Henry Blacker - Summer Tombs

Posted on March 20, 2015 at 8:20 PM Comments comments ()

 Swamp monsters from the Somerset Levels return to eat you alive

The West Country’s power trio Henry Blacker return with a piece of fuzz guitar soaked mayhem to turn your brain into sludge. The band consists of two members of the awesome Hey Colossus. The current line up is made up of bassist Joe Thomson, Tim Farthing on guitars and Roo Farthing on drums, piano and organ. Summer

Summer Tombs is their second slab of awesome sludge/stoner rock following Hungry Dogs Will Eat Dirty Pudding in 2014. Summer Tombs was recorded during September last year by Westminster Brown at the Drop Out Studios in South London and mastered and mixed by Roo. This has cumulated in the band delivering an awesome album for our pleasure.

First track Cold Laking kicks off this album with fuzz guitar the Kyuss boys would be proud off. The monster is now released! Understated deep meaningful vocals hover over the track like a bird of prey looking for its next meal on The Levels. The vibe here produces a sonic induced sound so deep and powerful that you wonder what these guys can achieve as this album progresses. No worry there. Next up one of my favourites, Million Acre Fire - boogie sludge heaven this one. Get that head banging. Shift Magus and The Grain are another two grinding stoner sludge journeys with clever lyrics and sang again with restrained power. At times the vocal power is released and you take note, boom!



"Cold Laking kicks off this album with fuzz guitar the Kyuss boys would be proud off."

Landlubber is a head battering feast of muddy power. I heard a little Henry Rollins in there from the Weight era. Nice. A Plague is a fuzz dripping sludge monster of a track with a little ditti at the end. Now to the final track, are you still with me, you need to be. Summer Tombs is a seven minute long masterpiece. It’s the nearest to a heavy shit ballad on here. The track starts with a relaxing heavy vibe, smooth vocals (Henry Rollins again?). The fuzz guitar lead’s the way for a growl vocal to be released which then leads to them releasing the Levels demon. It feels like the Demon is being summoned to do it’s bidding. Then it is released, a driving sludge boogie builds up to a swamp stampede taking you down the dirt track to oblivion. Everyone is slaughtered. Loved it!

This album totally grabbed me and sucked me into their world. I listened to this at times drinking Scrumpy, I was on the Levels with the monsters. Might have drank too much of the stuff thinking about it. If you are expecting Morris dancing tunes stay well away but if you like stoner, sludge, loads of fuzz etc then this album is for you.

An English power trio doing the business, proud I am and you should be. Buy the vinyl edition when it’s released on Record Store Day the 18th April. Get your ass’s down to your local independent record shop and purchase, I will be. Also catch the boys live supporting the mighty Torche at the end of May. On a final note I would like to say a big thank you to Andy at Riot Season Records for all his hard work in releasing albums like this for us. Cheers!

Words: Brian 'Baldie' Mclean






Live Review: Corrosion of Conformity & Hang The Bastard

Posted on March 20, 2015 at 8:00 PM Comments comments ()

Corrosion of Conformity: still America’s volume dealers

Academy 2 is rammed tonight. Can’t move, can’t see. Unless, like me you got stage times mixed up and arrived early so got right to the barrier with no fuss or resistance. Good times.

There’s a strong powerful presence as Hang The Bastard take to the stage, then, and with a powerful blast of guitars and drums the band begin their set. I have to admit, I have always been curious about these guys, one for their weird cross of stoner/sludge metal and hardcore but also for the fun as anything set. Their riffs were great and the basslines shook the floor of the place, and it must have won over the audience as the cheers could be heard from all around the room. I enjoyed it myself, I have a great appreciation for the stoner/doom metal genre and always enjoy hearing new bands. Hang The Bastard’s presence was simply awesome, they had this intense feel and great stage awareness. Whilst in song they just moshed all around the stage but between tracks singer, Tom Hubbard, just stared down the audience and never said a word. This would usually put me off but I have a feeling they just wanted to look intense and heavy, and I actually liked it from them. There’s only so many band I’ll enjoy who do this, I always prefer a little stage banter. Overall this was an immensely awesome set and I really enjoyed myself.

This is an important gig for COC, band and fans alike, and the atmosphere is appropriately charged for the occasion. It’s been 14 years since the Deliverance era line-up have convened on a stage and Manchester is gifted with being the first night of the tour. Boom!

Four blokes take the stage to the strains of LL Cool J. “Don’t call it a comeback!” is the message and it’s a nod to Keenan’s return for his first full show with the band since 2006. There’s no big intro, no fireworks, no fanfare. Just four blokes who happen to be Reed Mullins, Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean and Pepper Keenan with enough firepower between them to knock the bastard roof off. And do they?

"The sheer volume tonight could push the Hulk against a wall and give the big green git a wedgie."

Shit, yes! It’s been a long time since we rock and rolled with COC and the push of an enthusiastic, well-lubed, Saturday night audience is strongly felt at the barrier. I’m just glad I’m a big (read fat) lad. Intro monster These Shrouded Temples gives way to Senor Limpio and it goes off. The sheer volume tonight could push the Hulk against a wall and give the big green git a wedgie. Riff after riff pummels the sweaty audience but all is soaked up and propelled back at the band in the form of raw energy and enthusiastic sing-a-longs. It feeds the beast and the beast belches back blood and thunder.

There’s little interaction with the crowd tonight aside from a couple of sincerely delivered thanks from Keenan but it isn’t arrogance or ignorance. More an intent on delivering the goods and man, they play out so many greatest hits you’re head is reeling. There’s no sign of ring-rust as the crushing riff of King of the Rotten kicks your botty, the venomous Wiseblood wrecks and Albatross soars, it’s lazy riff causing ripples in the sea of bodies that move as one.

Like listening to a compilation album you are amazed at how many massive tunes this band have accumulated since their inception in 1982. There are shit eating-grins all round as the band trade riffs and Mullins drums knock your heart further backwards into your chest. Both Weatherman and Dean respond with smiles when their names are called from the crowd and Keenan’s vocal delivery is forceful.

Destroying the venue and finishing on a high with the triumvirate of Broken Man, the stunning Vote With a Bullet and the riff-tastic Clean My Wounds - it’s a triumphant night. In fact I could swear I had a foot print on my arse as it was well and truly kicked tonight.

Corrosion of Conformity: still America’s volume dealers.

Words: Corrosion of Cooke & Mick Birchalll (Hang The Bastard)
Photos: Anthony Firmin 

Kontinuum - Kyrr

Posted on March 19, 2015 at 10:15 AM Comments comments ()

With a breadth of their influences and with such a wide sonic palette from which to draw, Kontinuum are set up to have a healthy future in the music world

Kontinuum, a band forced in Iceland during 2010, claim to make "hypnotic and spiritual musical noise," and after multiple plays of sophomore album Kyrr, I can’t disagree. After having not heard anything by the band previously, my first impression of this record was the cover; a bleak, dark, truly suffocating image. From this, I was expecting some kind of blasphemous Icelandic assault on my senses. What I actually got from the first 50 or so minutes I spent with this record is something far more profound and interesting.

After a brief moment of noise, Kyrr begins with a triumphant delay-drenched rock lead which brings to mind the superb melodic sense of Fallujah’s The Flesh Prevails. Kontinuum, though, opt not for blast beats and wretched vocals. Instead they build on a foundation of melodic rock, goth, industrial and post-rock styles to create a powerful crossover sound. Opener Breathe earns comparisons with not only Fallujah, but Gary Numan, The Cure, Katatonia, and Type O Negative amongst others. It’s a truly alternative sound which will please fans of ‘heart’ rather than ‘head’ music. That is to say that there’s no technical spectacle on Kyrr, no explosive moments of intense musicianship or complex arrangements. Everything rests on the sonic palette and note placement on this record, and in that sense it succeeds in a huge way.

Kyrr is built on massive melodies, layers of delay and catchy (in a good way) vocal lines which are sung in both Icelandic and English. The dual language approach is often avoided by artists in favour of wider appeal but works wonders here, giving the songs a greater degree of mystery and intrigue. It’s refreshing to hear a language sung other than English, and it really helps transport me to the Icelandic wastes suggested by Kontinuum’s instrumentals. The band have received extensive local radio play in their home country too, so I suppose it works for them in that capacity too. Whatever their approach, the band have crafted an extremely memorable and affecting vision which is far more than the sum of its eight songs, hitting on great melody after great melody.

"The rock elements inherent on this album are merely a mask through which the band can project their real strength: a natural appreciation for melody."

The album is is, at its most stripped back, a superb pop album. Though, it is a pop album a half step away from post-rock and progressive/atmospheric/post metal. Like Deafheaven (who are often labelled – wrongly – a black metal band), Kontinuum will gain considerable press in the rock and metal scenes without this really being the impetus of their music. The rock elements inherent on this album are merely a mask through which the band can project their real strength: a natural appreciation for melody. This is usually the part of the review where I’ll discuss a few tracks, but just put on Í Huldusal and you’ll see what I mean; it’s a real earworm.

Kontinuum could make an excellent post-metal band, they could make an excellent pop band, too. Here are a group who I sense could become either in the future. Such are the breadth of their influences and with such a wide sonic palette from which to draw, Kontinuum are set up to have a healthy future in the music world going forward. Kyrr is an incredible, moving record which will be criminally missed by many this year. Don’t be one of those people. Bravo Candlelight, between this and Opium Lord, you’ve really got this year going.

Words: Ben Armstrong

Kontinuum is:
Birgir Thorgeirsson
Engilbert Hauksson
Ingi Þór Pálsson
Kristján Einar
Guðmundsson Thorlakur
Thor Gudmundsson.


Europe & Black Star Riders at Manchester Academy 1

Posted on March 19, 2015 at 9:45 AM Comments comments ()
Anthony Firmin finds he has a little Irish in him whilst waiting for the Final Countdown

Black Star Riders

The Black Star Riders are riding high at the moment with a new album, Killer Instinct, smashing into the charts, packed full of great songs. It is a huge complement to the previous album, continuing to prove that they are a great band in great form.

BSR hit the stage with Bound For Glory showing Ricky Warwick's voice was in fine fettle and less like Phil Lynott’s than some would say. They were then straight into the first Thin Lizzy cover, Jailbreak, where the band gave it a more modern feel and sound.

Kingdom Of The Lost had a great Irish feel but the backing vocals were disjointed and flat, someone couldn't sing and it certainly wasn't Warwick. There was no time to lose in this short set so it was straight into Charlie I Gotta Go presenting a more commercial edge to their sound.

Considering there was a lot of competition for rock fans this evening, with both HRH AOR and Hammerfest taking place this weekend, it was a surprise that the gig was as full as it was. And the fans were not to be disappointed, songs like Hoodoo Voodoo with its classic Lizzy twin guitar sound hitting the spot.

For Soldierstown Warwick taught the audience some Gaelic so they could sing along with the song, which again was full of Irishness and Lizzyness. This resulted in parts of the crowd getting involved in silly Irish country jigging which was great fun to be involved in. Next there was a complete change of mood and back on Lizzy ground with Are You Ready To Rock which was performed with a renewed intensity from the band.


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Warwick then thanked the crowd for buying the album as it had landed in the UK national charts at number 13, the band then launched into Bloodshot and The Boys Are Back In Town. During the latter I briefly closed my eyes and it was like listening to Lynott again. Even the bar staff were dancing around, the song getting the biggest response from the audience.

Through The Motions had a funkier edge and judging by their onstage performance they certainly didn't look as if they were going through the motions. Scott Gorham's playing was excellent although he was fairly static compared to the rest of the band, even during All Hell Breaks Loose. Back to Lizzy again and it was another twin guitar solo assault during Emerald.

Warwick told us that when he was growing up he would regularly listen to Radio One and never dreamed he would be on Radio Two, let alone be single of the week on that radio station - but he would take it. And it is understandable that it was single of the week because Finest Hour is a great song, expanding their popularity. Back to Lizzy again, well technically a Bob Seger song, and it's Rosalie played at full force with the crowd fully joining in. "This is Manchester" Warwick shouted, he certainly got his geography O-level, and everyone sang the song louder still.

"Everyone is plain crazy these days but you have to live with the Killer Instinct" was Warwick's introduction to the title track of the album. This was well-known and well received by all present due to having been played regularly on local rock radio. This led us into the final song, the Lizzy classic Whiskey In The Jar which was interesting because none of the band played on the original but nobody in the audience minded.

There was no encore due to the lack of time but it had been a full onslaught of songs from the band. Considering the name change and that they have now put out two solid albums of their own it was a surprise that they were still playing six Thin Lizzy songs in the set. Is the Lizzy material a flag of convenience considering the strength of their own songs? Answers on a postcard, please.


After a break Europe hit the stage to a thinned out crowd launching into new song War of Kings, a brave move starting in this way but in comparison to Black Star Riders who were raw and edgy, these guys were slick and professional, and sadly predictable and boring.

Joey Tempest bounced around the stage with loads of energy throughout the set but still came across like a Jon Bon Jovi imitator. Big dramatic sounds in Last Look At Eden along with dramatic lighting was failing to get the crowd going. One thing in their favour though was that the material was coming from a whole range of albums, Girl From Lebanon being taken from the Prisoners album.

They are a very different band to Black Star Riders and equally different to the band who had hit singles in the mid to late 80’s, they are now striving to become a credible rock band. Sadly they are coming across as clichéd, almost like they are going through the motions. Superstitious sounded like a poor man's Deep Purple.

Even playing The Second Day, a favourite of the band, they were dull and uninspired, not the band I saw three years ago. And the crowd seemed to be agreeing as well as there were less and less people to watch them.

"Black Star Riders who were raw and edgy, these guys were slick and professional, and sadly predictable and boring. Not the band I saw three years ago."

Another new song, Praise You, was greeted by silence. Had no-one bought the new album? It started to become apparent what everyone wanted but the band was going to make us wait.  Sign Of The Times managed to get significant audience involvement from those left, although Riches To Rags and Firebox again came across flat. Joey Tempest then took on a David Coverdale persona with the way he threw his mic stand around.

Finally, on more appealing ground was Rock The Night from the Final Countdown album, again with more mic stand twirling followed by another new song Days Of Rock'n'Roll which left the audience unimpressed. The last song finally put us out of our misery with the opening synth notes which could only mean Final Countdown itself. Again no encore due to time constraints and no “Carrie” either, but I was happy it ended because to be perfectly honest I was bored.

And the final words are not mine, they are those of a friend, Jo…

"Europe - this shit could have been written and performed by anyone, they were just going through the motions!”

Words: Anthony Firmin


Tirade - Waste Your Time Single Review

Posted on March 19, 2015 at 9:25 AM Comments comments ()
Youthful, defiant, fun and unapologetic pop punk



How many of us can say we recorded an EP, won band competitions and played at European festivals while we were students? Not me. But Jake Tilley, Josh Pearl, Alex Young and Chris Oldfield, better known as Tirade, are doing just that.

Tirade is a four piece, made up of music students based in Crewe and Leeds who are, it seems, really working the Manchester music scene. They recently won the MMU Battle of the Bands, which means they get to play over in Belgium at the Burnout Festival in May. It’s worth mentioning that the beautiful original artwork for their upcoming EP If I Told You I’d Have To Kill You was done by the incredible Manchester artist and fellow musician Helen Hebenton (check out her page Uncanny Designs).

Tirade are making the most of what they’ve got and really enjoying it, which gives the band a likeability factor and an endearing sense of fun.

According to the band their new single Waste Your Time is about the struggle to make it in a creative industry and the pressure to get a “proper” job – a typically “misunderstood youth” kind of topic for this genre, but it’s a sincere sentiment, and a defiant message from the band that they intend to prove themselves.

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Waste Your Time is unashamedly pop-punk. Its sound harks back to the heyday of the genre; it’s fast and furious, with the nasal boyish vocals synonymous with pop-punk stalwarts like Billie Joe of Green Day and Jordan Pundik of New Found Glory. However, it manages to avoid being as one-dimensional as some of the more recent... 

Read the rest of the review on our new website here -

Hammerfest 2015: Incinery & Hecate Enthroned

Posted on March 19, 2015 at 1:40 AM Comments comments ()

Thrash and black metal kick out the festival’s proverbial jams

For seven years now, metalheads from across the UK have been descending upon an out of season holiday camp in North Wales – now in its third year at the current site at Haven, Pwhelli - for three days of self-inflicted liver and neck torture, of beer swigging, headbanging and all round heavy music madness. A place that, during holiday season, is amass with hyperactive children, snotty parents and cheesy, family friendly ‘entertainment,’ Hammerfest is a stark change of pace. But every year I’m told by smiling staff members – hot dog venders, barmen and bouncers – just how much they love it. While the hyperactivity in this weekend’s demographic is just as high – if not higher – than that of your average sugar crazed five year old, I’m always told how refreshing and warming the atmosphere becomes when filled with denim, beards and heavy, forceful music.

Even at just gone five o’clock on an overcast Thursday evening, the buzz around the place is palpable. While ducks waddle around a lake outside the Hammerfest stage, where swan and dragon pedalos are parked, clearly enjoying the respite from their in season pummelling, spirits are high. These vibes are reflected in the odd, dark and playful conversation I stumble upon in the toilets.

“It’s all very homoerotic in here,” slurs one guy mid-piss in the urinal to my left. At six o’clock, he’s already hammered.

“It’s alright mate, I’ve got a cork up my arse. Nothing’s going up there,” comes a reply from my right.

The Hammerfest stage – a dark, pillared room that swallows up phone signal like an alligator on a fish – is more than well attended as Incinery light the fuse to the pre-party. They make it worth the punters leaving their warm, booze filled caravans and trudging through miserable rain and slippyer-than-a-porn-star’s-snatch mud to get to the stage; their heavy thrash battering a fine way to kick things off. Dead, Bound and Buried, an early-set highlight, is a staunch thrash metal opus full of whiplash inducing riffs and their set as a whole flows smoothly. Despite niggling technical difficulties out of the band’s control the Nottingham band go about their business with an impressive professionalism that brings a sharp edge to their set.

But they leave their more deadly weapons at the back of their arsenal. The latter tracks boasting much stronger choruses and lavish with harmonies, breakdowns and spicy solos. Set closer Dawn Of War takes things up a notch one last time, even causing a minion mosh pit in the fancy dress heavy crowd - and how many bands can say that?

Marred by a poor mix, with those niggling technical issues still not wholly resolved, Wrexham symphonic black metallers Hecate Enthroned bring blast beats, guttural growls and a much darker mood 70 miles east. Led mainly by tinkling piano which unfortunately clips in the speakers, there is just something lacking from their set. That being said, they do get heads banging and hair swaying about the place, a flag even held aloft emblazoning their logo. But for me their guitar tone, especially on the clean moments, is a bit weak. They just don’t come across as the most able musicians, a confidence lacking in their set and I feel that spill into the crowd a little. 

Words: Phil Weller | Photos: Phil Goddard


Win Tickets To See Karnivool At The Ritz

Posted on March 18, 2015 at 10:15 AM Comments comments ()

Come join us to see a damn find Australian prog band take The Ritz by storm

Read on to find out how you can win a pair of tickets for their show at The Ritz on Tuesday, 28th March.

Not only are Karnivool phenomenal musicians, but they have a weapon that they know how to use and use it well. The Australian band, notorious for their sound’s vast soundscapes, complex rhythms and cutting, soulful and purring vocal melodies, are currently on the road playing some of their biggest headline shows to date. The UK leg of the tour culminates with a show at London’s infamous Roundhouse, but on the 24th March they come to Manchester in what promises to be a brilliant and memorable outing. The Ritz’s intimate but princely environment is the perfect setting for the band, of that we have no doubt.

“Karnivool are a band for fans of rhythmic intrigue, percussive force and a pervasive melodic sense.” reflects Manchester Rocks’ very own Ben Armstrong. “My first encounter with the band was, I believe, back around the time Sound Awake was released. There was a lot of buzz around them at that time; I remember Misha Mansoor (Periphery) saying that SA was one of the best records he’d ever heard. I never really dived in until Asymmetry was released, though. I really didn’t like that album at first but it grabbed me out of the blue one day and never really let go, it helped me get through one of the tougher periods of my life. Since then I’ve managed to catch the band live twice and would recommend them to any fan of live rock or metal music, simply flawless.

“Karnivool are a band for fans of rhythmic intrigue, percussive force and a pervasive melodic sense.”

“It would be a bit of a cop out to recommend them to Tool and/or A Perfect Circle fans, but I do think that the fanbases converge a lot of the time. I’d suggest them to fans of rhythmic intrigue, percussive force and a pervasive melodic sense; someone who’s into clean vocals with a good ear for lyrics, too. They only have a handful of records but they never re-tread old ground, so I guess if you’re looking for the next Slayer then you should go elsewhere! Karnivool are great, go listen to them. Start with the early stuff if you’re looking for something more straightforward, then move on from there.”

Support on this tour comes from Monuments. The London five piece marry progressive and technical metal with the odd bit of saxophone and all round craziness. If you like bands such as Periphery and Devin Townsend then these guys will be an absolute treat to your ears.

To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets to the Manchester show, Tuesday 24th March, send an email to [email protected] with the Subject ‘Karnivool.’ Tell us your full name in the body of the email and we’ll pick a lucky winner on Saturday, 21st whose name will be on the guest list.

Good luck! 

For tickets and more info head to -


Mabel Greer's Toyshop - New Way Of Life

Posted on March 18, 2015 at 2:50 AM Comments comments ()

The band that would become Yes return after 45 years

And here’s a blast from the past – in more ways than one. For starters, a quick google of the name Mabel Greer reveals scant information; rather an traditional old fashioned moniker of which there seem to be very few about these days. Sounds like the name of a gingerbread shop in Grasmere, or wasn’t that Sarah Nelson? Then there’s the band of course, with the ‘Toyshop’ appendage, about which plenty of information can be found on the information superhighway. Not surprising really as their existence as psychedelic cum progressive rock beat combo in the mid to late sixties saw them evolve into the progressive giants Yes, who are of course still alive and kicking to this day some forty plus years after their inception.

The question on the lips quite naturally is the one about why MGT have suddenly surfaced in a form ready to release an album some generations later. The story goes that New Way Of Life evolved from a meeting between founder members Clive Bayley and Robert Hagger after a gap of 45 years - as you do - pulling in Hugo Barre and Yesman Tony Kaye plus latter day collaborator Billy Sherwood to complete the group.

By their own admission, the album combines aspects of old and new. Describing the set as “A piece of history brought to life by the technology of today” it includes new versions of some older classics which appeared on the first Yes album : Sweetness and Beyond & Before alongside a selection of Bayley/Chris Squire penned numbers plus several new Bayley compositions. They have talked about “authenticity without compromise” perhaps referring to the fact that the sound of New Way Of Life is distinctly retro. It’s an interesting combo of reworked older material worked in with some new stuff harvested from the reunion.

"Electric Funeral opens with grand drumrolls and fanfares and a distinctly metallic bass sound before launching into an organ fuelled frolic."

Lead track Electric Funeral, one of the Bayley/Squire numbers, opens with grand drumrolls and fanfares and a distinctly metallic bass sound before launching into an organ fuelled frolic, driven along by no frills drum and unmistakeably distinctive harmonies/vocals – all doo-wop-shoo-wop and clearly the sort of sound which was so characteristic of early and classic Yesmusic. You can even visualise a promo video, in monochrome of course, with all sorts of groovy guys and gals swinging away with an air of abandon and slight self-consciousness.

With Get Yourself Together containing the line “Let’s go back to where we started” (along with something about engine drivers), the journey into the hip and with-it sixties sound begins and sets out the stall of what the album is out to deliver. The double hit of the reworked pair of Yes tracks offers up an eastern flavour in Beyond And Before which makes itself known as a theme, resurfacing at various points throughout the record. Meanwhile of the rest of the album, the title track brings to mind The Beatles And Your Bird Can Sing and the seven minute mainly instrumental Oceans offers up something more experimental, not least of which are the strangely impromptu vocal noises.

There may well be fans who will find the re-emergence of Mabel Greer’s Toyshop ever so slightly confusing. Not to begrudge the guys another day in the sun after being out of the picture for some time, the album does rely on the appeal of the early Yes material alongside new compositions in a mix which aims to appeal to the broadest common factor of fandom. It may well appeal as a bit of a curio to die hard Yes fans – probably the ones who will lap up the forthcoming ‘seven show from seventy two’ box set rather than those who go for the basic two disc compilation. However, it’s no more of a curio than the Trevor Rabin inspired AOR version Yes which returned in the in the mid eighties after their sad implosion into the other curio in the short lived Buggles led version of Yes in 1979/80.

It turned out to be a surprisingly enjoyable listen as sharing Billy Sherwood’s thoughts, it was easy to be sceptical and initial expectation wasn’t particularly high. All goes to show that there’s nothing wrong in looking back.

Words: Mike Ainscoe 

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