If we can draw any conclusions last week's Tracks Of The Week competition, it's that power metal fans can be relied on to stick up for power metal when power metal is included in the round-up.
For power metal's very own Battle Beast ripped through the rest of the opposition like a tractor through a kindergarten with their single Where Angels Fear To Fly, relegating Scarlet Rebels' Take You Home and Goodbye June's Stand And Deliver to somewhat distant second and third places. But congratulations to all of them. Everyone's a winner, etc.
Powerful stuff, eh? Here's this week's selection.
Blacktop Mojo - Strike Me
We’re kicking off on a meaty note with this juicy tomahawk steak from Texan hard rockers Blacktop Mojo. Like a delicious steak dinner, Strike Me is all about simple, quality ingredients, properly seasoned and not excessively fucked about with. Deep, swaggering guitars, dipped in Jack Daniels (think Black Stone Cherry at their heaviest). Chorus that instantly nails that sweet, fist pump factor. Hint of a grungy purr in Matt James’s vocals. No salad garnish or pointless sprig of parsley in sight. Nom nom nom.
The Mysterines - Dangerous
Sounding far more worldly and mysterious than a barely-out-of-their-teens group has any right to, rising Liverpool rockers The Mysterines are on delectably smouldering, stylish form on Dangerous. Fans of Wolf Alice and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club will find much to lap up. Like what you hear? Their album, Reeling, comes out on March 11 – promising more bangers like this, woven together by a lyrical cocktail of grief, self-destruction and deliciously dark humour.
Saxon - Remember The Fallen
It’s business as usual with this riffy number from Saxon’s latest, Carpe Diem, and business is good. Seasons change, variants come and go, but Saxon endure. Where others fall, Biff Byford and gang have rocked on and on – even managing to release a driving, genuinely more-ish covid song just when you thought you’d run screaming at the next mention of the damn thing. And yes that’s Biff’s son Seb (also of rising rockers Naked Six) on backing vocals.
Ceramic Animal - Up In Smoke
Pennsylvania five-piece Ceramic Animal make a gorgeous, dreamy sound on Up In Smoke – the sort that could have been unearthed from a box of early 70s Americana records in some dusty, sun-dappled old house in the desert. Sweet, spirited and deftly melancholic. Play it and feel the edges of the world soften, even if only a little. Find this and much more on their new, Dan Auerbach-produced album, Sweet Unknown, is out on March 4.
D'Virgilio, Morse & Jennings - Everything I Am
Sounding a bit like latter-day Yes, with Crosby, Stills & Nash on harmonies, the latest single from this 21st century prog super-trio cascades into your ears like rays of sunshine through clouds. Gentle but uplifting, with a sparkling backbone of acoustic guitar lines, it’s the ideal tonic for anyone who needs a little extra reassurance this wintery, post-holiday season. The full album, Troika, is out on February 25.
The Damn Truth - Only Love
Originally a ballad – until producer Bob Rock persuaded them to speed it up – the rising Canadian band’s new single is a bright burst of loose, psychedelia-sprinkled rock’n’roll, with a chorus that flies like an eagle. “Touring the UK will make us the happiest, most excited creatures,” say the band of their forthcoming support dates with Scottish rockers King King (starting February 10). “The four of us are meant to be on the road, together, for life. That's where we thrive, where we are whole.”
John Sloman - This River Is A Time Machine
One of music’s rather overlooked voices (he’s worked with Lone Star, Uriah Heep and Gary Moore’s band, among others) Welsh native John Sloman is something of a ‘nearly man’ in the annals of rock’n’roll. These days he’s a DIY guy, lending his dulcet pipes to ditties like this – a beguiling fusion of proggy storytelling that mixes dark, jazzy undertones with twinkles and beats that convey woodland settings and strange goings on. Not to mention a whiff of latter-day Robert Plant in Sloman’s folky blues melody lines.
The Hellacopters - Eyes Of Oblivion
"You could say it sounds like The Beatles meets Judas Priest or Lynyrd Skynyrd meets the Ramones," says Hellacopters man Nicke Andersson of new album Eyes Of Oblivion, but we're saying title track sounds like Redd Kross meets Blue Oyster Cult. Either way, it all sounds completely like The Hellacopters, with a chorus so catchy it's almost a surprise the World Health Organisation haven't designated it a letter from the Greek alphabet.