I love a pun, me. So this project appealed straight out of the box!
Superman would certainly love the grandiose entrance to the first song in the collection, I’m Everywhere by Alan King Project. Properly muscular and old-school (in the best sense), and with a vocalist in the vein of Dio or Magnum, it chugs and grandstands and is widescreen and epic with a finely-honed use of stereo. Thunderous drums and prog sections and a satisfying dead-stop are present and correct. The violin sections are a nice touch, breathing fresh, organic life into proceedings.
On the Way To The Promise Land (sic) by The Word66 is up next. Slightly reminiscent of Enter Sandman, but with a more in-your-face veneer and arguably a more limber vocalist. It’s got a tighter pop arrangement, but there’s still room for a guitar solo. Some subtle backing vocals add flesh to the bones and the riffing is solid and confident, with a serpentine melody threading the parts together.
Gypsy Carns’ first track is called Color of Skin. ‘People get caught up in what we see’, opines the re-assuringly gruff vocalist. ‘God don’t judge by the color of skin’ he goes on to reveal. The bass sits tight in a rolling groove that opens up into a great hooky chorus. There’s some great harmony work on guitars and the rhythm section are locked in, fizzing cymbals cloaking the chorus in warmth and elevating the moments where the fists should be pumping along in enthusiasm. It ticks a whole load of boxes, this song.
Obsidian Overlord’s first track is called Forgotten Soul, and I’m put in mind of Metallica again, albeit with a very different vocalist. The mix is pretty brutal, four-on-the-floor kick sections with open power chords and close-captured vocals. As the rhythm picks up into triplets, the bass continues to pump hard, relentless and driving. The guitars go orchestral before the track subsides, the calm after the storm.
The blues arrive in the shape of Long Road to Travel by The L&M Project Band. Perhaps the most traditional track so far, and it’s a great big slice of fun and swagger with lovely little guitar motifs punctuating the narrative. A slide guitar solo is unexpected and uplifting, and the swagger goes up a further notch. Some great vocals with a blistering vibrato mark out the song in some style, and the great mix suits it well – fun, tongue-in-cheek ending, too!
Let’s Get Loud says Jonah Whale. I agree, let’s, if it’s going to be this much fun! Interesting prog-heavy exploration of rhythm and texture, with nice playing and Asia-esque vocals. The guitars wash around warmly, creating a nice contrast with the crisp capture of the drums, and then drop out periodically in an interesting, intelligent arrangement which speaks of confidence and service to the song.
Gypsy Carn’s second track is called Save Us Lord. Another track with religious overtones, and this one also offers affirmation, with an anthemic treatment which feels familiar upon a first listen, which speaks of great songwriting nous. The singer does a good job of imbuing the lyric with earnest emotion, too, which can run the risk of being mawkish with such subject matter. Here, however, no such danger.
Obsidian Overlord’s second track is The Eye. Again, it’s a brutal mix, with gothic overtones. A heavily-treated vocal winds and writhes around the lyric, performed with relish and in unison with a bass run before punishing riffs sing in on synth, guitar, bass and drums. An unusual arrangement means that a veritable soup of sonic assault gets to pound and pump away at us, with little flourishes of limber guitar flying in to the gaps.
Aliens in Hollywood by Jonah Whale runs with the Men in Black theory that there might be aliens amongst us, explaining away plastic surgery and absurd behaviour in a nicely-wrapped metaphor. The guitars put me in mind of Fripp’s work on Bowie’s Scary Monsters in places, and that seems only right for the subject matter. Another nicely-judged piece from Jonah Whale.
There’s Reason is by Skinsnbones. A fine open sound on the kit is complimented by an exploratory, melodic vocal that adheres to a country rock aesthetic. A driving beat provides the perfect backdrop for the lyric’s narrative and also for a wah guitar solo, followed by a straight-ahead electric one. Strident, relentless and laden with pop nous, there’s an urgency that’s underlined by the yearning backing vocals on the main hook. Great!
Zero to Love is Jonah Whale’s third track here. Driving, with another monstrous snare, this riffs a little harder, chugging relentlessly to a hook line that breaks down to focus on the vocal. It’s a far poppier arrangement, coming in at a little under 3 minutes and gets the job done in some style. Fans of stadium-sized rock will love this track, from the nihilistic title to the generous use of delay to enhance the vocal hook.
Rain, by Gia Gallagher, injects some femininity to proceedings. A lovely lazy beat drags at a cool-laden vocal delivery that beats with an indie heart in rock clothing. I think of The Sounds and Shirley Manson when I hear this. The enunciation is awesome, and the conversational nature of the lyric also taps into vintage Debbie Harry. The band do a great job of serving that delivery, and it’s over far too soon.
We conclude with the 9 minute plus instrumental Anticipation by Grit’s Guitar. It’s essentially a traditional guitar workout around a descending chord pattern. Put it on, and chill out. I enjoy the occasional left-field moments of discordant tension where the blues-inflected phrasing gets to fight with the backing track. The lyrical playing glides through to conclude a nicely disparate collection of songs that flit around the rock genre with some dexterity.