The first thing you notice on “Back To Zero” is SJ Mortimer’s astonishing voice. That much was obvious when Morganway opened for Elles Bailey the other week – albeit without their full power.

Power, though, is all over the likes of “Wait For Me”, the wonderful opener here. “Come Over” is the type of the soul-filled thing that the aforementioned Bailey has made her own, but dig a little deeper into the band and there’s a rare type of skill here. There’s a blues on “Burn Every Page” and the solo from Kieran Morgan – one of the two co-founders of the group along with twin brother Callum) is astonishingly good.

It’s been there in parts all the way through, but by the end of the title track, its more or less impossible not to think of Fleetwood Mac, and the last song on the record, “Brother” – with Callum on vocals and Mortimer doing the harmonies, is an example of the more expansive sound they have, there’s echoes of Wille And The Bandits here, as Nicole J Terry’s fiddle offers a real folky diversion.

The band reckon that the album is called what it is to signify a reset. It certainly feels like here, they are planning to regroup and get stronger.

Rating 8.5/10


Brothers Marty and Matt Bohannon have long been a band that MV has thought didn’t get their just rewards. Ever since their “Black Cross, Black Shield” record arrived way back, the siblings – now backed by drummer Mike Gault and bassist Justin Colburn – have been making music that was infused by the Deep South of the US (they split their time between Alabama and Tennessee) but which sounds nothing like conventional southern rock.

“Night Construction” finds them in gloriously primal mood. “Can’t Get Me Out Of My Head” screeches and the title track is amongst the harshest stuff they’ve ever done.

“Ride The Night” has a touch of The Replacements about it, but at its heart is their confusion, their disbelief at what has happened to their home in this post Trumpian, post Truth era: “it seems,” they note with a barely simmering anger “their version of heaven is our version of hell”.

They slow it down for the rather more gentle, almost country, “Why Don’t You Try My Heart”, and there’s something of a hoedown about “Sense It Out” , while “Sleeping Wives” is a swipe at overly commercial music (no one would accuse the brothers of this….)

The feeling that this is a cinematic experience, a film noir if you will, is played out right to the end as “Botswana” in effect sees the credits roll.

A brilliant record, it’s another in a long line from this most innovative of acts.

Rating 9/10


The record company sent a biography of Statues to go with this. The first line of it says: “90’s Alternative Rock was never anything else then great pop-songs filtered through screaming guitars” and maybe they’ve got a point. Certainly it sums up “Black Arcs Rising”.

Rather like mid-period Therapy? Statues do their sugar sweet stuff with a barbed wire chaser. “Underground” is as nasty as it is accessible, and “Sardonic Grin” has bands like Helmet, Prong and others write large in it’s DNA.

“Eyes In The Sky” slows the pace, and is a fine slice of 90s nostalgic sloganeering, while “Dead Of Summer” is absolutely glorious. Anyone who was listening to music at the end of the last decade would have heard something like this type of punk coming through the speakers – Everclear made a career out of it in the early days.

On the last one (its short and sweet, just over half an hour for its 12 songs) “Bestiary”, they rail against the “miserable, boring and dull” over something close to post-punk. The irony is that you can’t ever imagine Statues being the latter two – the first one maybe, but then “happy people have no stories as a band mentioned in this review once noted.

It makes a change to review a Swedish band that isn’t a Hellacopters clone, or playing some power metal, Statues have gone on their own path and “Black Arcs Rising” is exceptional.

Rating 9/10


In the nine years of MV I don’t think we’ve ever had a band from the UAE on these pages. Until now.

The Karman Line are breaking that duck, and moreover “Like A Machine” is wonderful.

There’s a gloriously unpretentious thing going on with these 10 songs. From the opening “Bridges Of Neptune” (and you won’t need me to tell you it sounds like Thin Lizzy once you’ve heard the first groove), that’s all it wants to be.

there’s a line on this that sums it up: “when the morning sun rose you know we’ll be long gone, going out on the road again to sing these rock n roll songs” sings Greg Brown. And that’s it. But what rock n roll songs they are.

There’s a glorious solo on “B.I.O.T.B” (duo Tristan Surina and Frank Bassiouni are excellent), to go with the funk. Look, if this was Rival Sons, they are polishing a gold disc, but KL aren’t bothered, instead “Colourblind” comes in swinging it’s big balls and “Seven” has just a trace of John Butler Trio.

And, as the album ends with “Underground”, a little more gentle than the rest, you have to feel like one of those hotels in the UAE, the sky’s the limit for Karman Line.  Like the cowboys who rode iron horses of yore, there’s an ambition here to see a million faces – and rock them all.

Rating 8.5/10


The artwork for “Power” depicts a black hand and a white hand in unity. The music it contains is a similar melting pot, given the hefty dollop of soul it contains.

11 songs – 10 co-written by Popovic – it starts with a cover of Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s “Rise Up” which she makes her own. And in addition to the funky nature of the music, there’s an unmistakable whiff of lust in the air. Indeed, this is about joy of all kinds. “Doin’ This” makes clear the love she has for her craft.

Mostly, though this is a soul record. “Luv N Touch” has a tinge of “Walk On By” about it. It’s not until “Queen Of The Pack” that a blues record, as it were, breaks out. It is another of the “blues” end of what she does that stands above all others here. “Flicker ‘N Flame” is as good as it gets.

However, “Power” is not that record. It wasn’t supposed to be. It ends as it started, as “Turn My Luck” adds the culture clash to proceedings, and its strident groove is shot through with more than a sprinkling of something that belongs on a second line in New Orleans.

Popovic produced this, so it’s her vision, and if she wanted to do something classy, sassy, sexy and cool, then she’s done exactly what she set out to.

Rating 7/10


You want to talk about nostalgia? Well how about this?  “Enforcer merely want to have a good time with their NWOBHM style grooves. By no means a joke like the godawful shit of Steel Panther, but [they] aren’t to be taken too seriously either.”

I wrote those words on the blog I did before MV back on 9th November 2012, as the Swedes opened for Angel Witch and oddly, they fit still.

Undeniably more accomplished these days, this is still metal to its hi-top boots. “Unshackle Me” takes precisely 11 seconds to gallop and elsewhere on my notes for this I’d simply written “metal, thrash, solos slash”. Rather than just being about “Coming Alive”, it was about the entire record, and as much as you won’t have to look too far to hear the Rainbow comparison on “Heartbeats” then the fact remains that Olof Wikstrand and his merry men are bloody good at this.

It’s interesting that the title track is a big old power ballad, as it doesn’t exactly represent the rest of the record, but in fairness, the brilliantly catchy “Metal Supremacia” does that for them. There’s a song towards the end that is called “Keeping The Flame Alive” but that’s a little too on the nose, much better is “White Lights In The USA” which talks about the “freedom of rock n roll”.

As pure escapism, from a band that loves what they do, “Nostalgia” is brilliantly pulled off.

Rating 8.5/10


“Everything Destroys You” is the first release from Deathstars in nearly nine years – and it’s like they’ve never been away.

“This Is” lays down its marker early on. Like an electro, industrial version of Wednesday 13,  Whiplasher Bernadotte, Nightmare Industries, Cat Casino and Skinny Disco (probably not their real names) sound refreshed.

“Midnight Party” is a birthday bash if it’s held in an underground S & M Club in stead of the soft play and “Anti All” is effectively power metal with lipstick instead of leather. Latex is more the order of the day.

In the middle of the record comes “Atomic Prayer” and its cinematic in a way that Marilyn Manson used to be, and if there’s something a little dystopian and other worldly throughout, then “Churches Of Oil” makes that thought flash with neon.

“The Infrahuman Masterpiece” is a kind of 69 Eyes track but only if they’d gone proper OTT and grandiose. There’s no mellowing with age either. Instead, the last one, “Angel Of Fortune And Crime” is as heavy and harsh as it gets here. Icy blasts from the fires of hell? Something like that.

Back in the day they’ve toured with the likes of Korn and Rammstein in arenas. Big comes easy to Deathstars, but their little black hearts are beating with a special kind of bombast here as they welcome themselves back the only way they knew how.

Rating 8/10

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