FM – ‘Atomic Generation’ Album Review

FM – Atomic Generation
When I first started being a fan of FM in the mid to late 80’s I never thought that 30-odd years down the line that –
a. I would ever be in a position to review their music, and
b. I never thought that there would be an FM in 2018, or 2008 come to think of it!
Where some bands have failed, FM still has the bite, fire and desire to still knock out a great tune all these years later. Especially as they have the ace up their sleeve in one Steve Overland. Since they came back in 2007, they have been knocking one out (albums you dirty sod) what feels like every year. If there hasn’t been an album then they have kept interest going with a few EPs along the way.
Out of all the albums since their headlining slot at Firefest, and their second wind for me, its  ‘Metropolis’ that has been the one album to beat. The others since have had some crackin’ tunes, but none were as consistently good as ‘Metropolis’.
What do we get with ‘Atomic Generation’. Well, opener ‘Black Magic’ is as typical an FM song as you’re ever likely to hear – catchy chorus, decent riff, lots of spit and polish, and plenty of ‘whoa-ohs’ to the part where they are all doing it! Not once did he sing about a ‘Caramel Caress’ or a ‘Hazelnut Swirl’. It also has a little ’break’ that was in use in a similar effect on ‘Burning My Heart Down’. In fact, if you like ‘Crosstown Train’, ‘Digging Up The Dirt’, and ‘Tough Love’ from recent albums, then you’re a happy little bunny as ‘Black Magic’ is an opener in the same style as these. ‘Too Much Of A Good Thing’ is straight out of the 80’s – taking a leaf out of Foreigner’s book. Had it been 1987, this would be all over MTV like a rash. ‘Killed By Love’ is again an 80’s pop rocker, with a chorus that has come straight out of Rick Springfield’s locker. If its not ‘whoa’s’, it’s ‘yeah-ee-eh’s’.
‘In It For The Money’ harks back to the Aphrodisiac days with its blues-y overtones. Its one of the heavier songs on the album and is the side of FM I want to see and hear more of. ‘Golden Days’ kicks off with a Don Henley ‘Boys Of Summer’ sound. ‘Take me back to those golden days’ croons Overland, ‘I wanna go back, I wanna feel that way again’ and they have with this , and in a way so do we as it catapults you back to the mid 80’s. ‘Playing Tricks On Me’ immediately comes over as Santana-esque, and at times even sounds a bit like Michael McDonald and is miles away from a typical FM sound.  ‘Tonite Matthew….’. If it sounds out of place to the rest, that’s because it is. Its not rubbish, its just so different to every other song on the album.
‘Make The Best Of What You Got’, which is a title very similar both lyrically and a chorus vocally as Bad English’s ‘Best Of What I Got’. ‘Follow Your Heart’, is a slow burn. I didn’t think much at first, but it’s a definite grower.  An FM album wouldn’t be an FM album if they didn’t have a love song/ ballad or two in tow. In their second life, I don’t think FM can top ‘Story Of My Life’, so for me, anything else pales into insignificance.  ‘Do You Love Me Enough’ is OK, but cant lace ‘SOML’ boots. That said, the mid section has touches of ELO and the second half of the song has some great vocal harmonies.
‘Stronger’. This is the FM I want more of, part Deep Purple, Bon Jovi with its Hammond riff, before a heavy guitar riff and Overland’s vox kick in. It’s a much heavier ‘Diggin Up The Dirt’. Finally we have ‘Love Is The Law’ and it’s the now standard vehicle for Overland’s soulful voice, and this for one will make it onto the set list, as it’s a great vocal performance.
The question at the end of the day is how many of the songs from this album will be played at an FM gig in 2 yrs time. Yes a few will be played in 2017, but I don’t see any long-term anthems that will have the crowd baying for more past 2019.
This is the first album from FM that has left me divided and at this stage, even uncertain. I don’t know for certain if it improves after a few more listens; if it is something very good, even great, or if its just  ‘good’. Is ‘good’ enough? I want more songs like ‘Stronger’, ‘Make The Best Of What You Got’, and ‘In It For The Money’. Push the boat out guys, go for the jugular. Whether or not Frontiers would approve of a change is uncertain. FM have enough of a following that a ‘I think this is the most mature and complete FM album we’ve made’. Steve Overland.

Maybe time will tell. I’m not yet convinced. I’ll revisit it once I have the physical album in my mitts.

FM are –
Steve Overland – Vocals Extraordinaire & Guitar
Pete Jupp – Drums
Merv Goldsworthy – Bass
Jim Kirkpatrick – Guitars
Jem Davis – Keys
Tracklisting –
Black Magic
Too Much Of A Good Thing
Killed by Love
In It For The Money
Golden Days
Playing Tricks On Me
Make The Best Of What You Got
Follow Your Heart
Do You Love Me Enough
Love Is The Law
STUDIO: Coal House Studios and West3 Productions
RECORDED BY: Engineers: 1. Scott Ralph 2. Pete Jupp
MIXED BY: Jeff Knowler
MASTERED BY: Jim Griffiths at Principal Audio
Released – March 30th 2018

Soundstate – ‘The Face Of Rock N’ Roll’

Soundstate – ‘The Face Of Rock N’ Roll’

Soundstate are a 4 x piece alternative rock group from the North Wales / Neston area.

Formed in 2004, the band gigged and recorded up until 2009 when they eventually dis-banded. Most likely to the dreaded ‘musical differences!’. The band consists of – Ste Daintree (Vocals & Guitar), Carl Ashton (lead Guitar), Jez Taylor (Drums), and Sty (Bass & BVs)

After 8 years apart, they re-united in July 2017 for a ‘bit of fun’. But, six months down the line the ‘bit of fun’ has morphed into the recording a new mini album/EP. The band now realise that their potential is still there. Not being aware of their original output, Soundstate describe their new music as ‘the most aggressive thing we’ve ever done’.

For a demo, and made at a low cost, the production is pretty damn good. It’s hard to define them, which isn’t a bad thing, as too many bands get pigeonholed into a specific genre that they don’t fit in. The opening and title track  ‘The Face Of Rock N’ Roll’ is the best on offer here, Sty’s pulsating bass intro sets you up for a enjoyable ride. Its the combined rhythm section of bass and drum line that really drives this song forward. The chorus reminds me of the early grunge bands like Mother Love Bone, and Temple Of The Dog. That is a good comparison in my book. ‘Blackmail’ follows in a very similar vein. Its a bit of slow burner for me, and improves with a couple of listens. In the end it turns out to be one of those songs that gets right under your skin – in a good way!!. Vocalist Ste Daintree has his distinctive own style, and uses his style to the advantage of Soundstate’s music. ‘Backstabber’s’ riff is similar to that of Iggy Pop’s ‘Passenger’ and scurries along. ‘My Friend’ is recorded twice, firstly as an electric, and also as an acoustic re-titled as ‘My Friend (Alwena’s Song). For me, the acoustic version wins hands down as it has more emotion in this version and this highlights Daintree’s vocals. ‘Bees’ is the first song to have what I would call a proper guitar solo, and this gets heavier as it progresses. All in all its good stuff, and considering it was recorded on a shoestring, its all come out really well ‘in the mix’ as the phrase goes.

You can get hold of the CD from the guys themselves, or via Bandcamp for the price of a pint. (£3). (Links below). Go on, you know you want to.
Facebook – @thesoundstateband

Twitter – @Soundstate1

Soundstate are playing a benefit gig on the 31st march at the esteemed ‘The Tiv’ in Buckley.
Flintshire’s favourite legendary rockers B4 Time reform for this one-off fundraiser in aid of their drummer Andy Jones, who has been bravely battling a Grade 4 brain tumour for a number of years. Andy has undergone numerous operations and still shows incredible strength and resilience to carry on regardless. Following his latest operation at Christmas, he will need specialist treatment for a better quality of life, a treatment not available on the NHS. All his family and hundreds of friends are collectively aiming to raise £30,000 so Andy can obtain the help he needs –

Sainted Sinners – ‘Back With A Vengeance’ Album Review

Sainted Sinners – ‘Back With A Vengeance’
Just one year after their highly praised, self-titled debut album, SAINTED SINNERS return with their second effort ‘Back With A Vengeance’. Like other bands that were born in the 70’s Sainted Sinners have wasted no time whatsoever in releasing ‘BWAV’.

Their debut really took me by surprise. It was a full-blown rock album following in the style of some of the greats. I’m here again, less than 12 months later, with some very high expectations.

Fronted by the soul-driven voice of American born vocalist David Reece (ex-ACCEPT) and guitarist Frank Pané (BONFIRE), SAINTED SINNERS are completed by the rhythm section of the two former PURPENDICULAR members Malte Frederik Burkert (bass) and the Hungarian drum maestro Berci Hirleman.
‘Opening track ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ has a repetitive and lackluster opening, and takes over a minute to get to the riff. When it does happen, ‘RLAP’ paces along with an Iron Maiden rhythm. The only thing is, Maiden does it better. The saving grace here is David Reece’s vocals. The bloke has still clearly ‘got it’. Burning the Candle’ is in itself is straight out of the iSpy ‘Rock and Roll’ music by numbers (£12.99 from all good bookshops). ‘left out in the cold’, ‘turned over every stone’, ‘too hot to handle’, ‘down in flames’. Yup, they are all here folks.  Title track ‘Back With A Vengeance’ kicks off like a Van Halen track. In fact, I am so sure that its Van Halen that I expect Mr Roth wit the lyric… “Oh wow, man !” “Wait a second man. Whaddaya think the teacher’s gonna look like this year ?” The guitar riff, and drum pattern are so close to Hot For Teacher its unreal. I am half expecting Sainted Sinners to receive a ‘cease and desist’ letter.
‘Tell me I Was Wrong’ is the first song on the album that I’ve liked for being themselves. The BVs add to the song, with its bluesy tone. It’s here that Reece shines brightly. ‘Nothin Left To Lose’ goes back to the reference book. Its got a Middle Eastern sound. Following behind the likes of Rainbow’s ‘Stargazer’, Dio’s ‘Egypt’, and Blue Murders ‘Valley Of The Kings’ it falls short in comparison to these three songs. The guys do up the ante with ‘Waitin’ ‘till the Countdown Begins’ –I’m a sucker for a Hammond Organ. Oo-er!
‘Let It Go’ follows on nicely. NOW the guys are in their classic rock groove with guitars, keys, vocals and backing vocals all coming together to great effect. ‘When The Hammer Falls’ falls on Dio territory. ‘Pretty Little Lies’ and ‘Gone But Not Forgotten’ both have a nice bluesy Whitesnake vibe. Both are songs that sit firmly alongside anything on the debut.
Clearly, Frank pane is a talented guitarist. He tries to be Eddie Van Halen on a lot of the songs here, when all I want him to do is to be Frank Pané. With their Debut, SS weren’t trying to be anyone, here they are trying too hard to sound like other bands.
For me, the second half is a lot stronger than the first as there are too many similarities to other bands songs in that first 25 minutes. Looking at other comments around the web, I’m clearly missing something here, as there’s some really positive comments regarding ‘BWAV’ .
I’m not saying its crap, it just that the guys set the bar really high with their debut. However, there are some positives to be had. Pané’s guitar playing when he isn’t trying to be EVH is excellent, the use of the classic Hammond sound is here in abundance once again, and Reece still has a bloody great voice. I just think I’ve been expecting too much.
Rise Like A Phoenix
Burnin’ The Candle
Back With A Vengeance
Tell Me I was Wrong
Nothin’ Left to Lose
Waitin’ Till The Countdown Begins
Let It Go
When The Hammer Falls
Pretty Little Lies
Gone But Not Forgotten