Sunday, 25 November 2012

Old Head - Maximum Rock


With things settling down a bit for me, no is the time for me to crank out more regular reviews as well as looking at new additions to my blog. I'm starting here with a review of record that was pressed in January of this year through Scottish label At War With False Noise. This is an intriguing record and you'll read why in the next paragraph.

Old Head play, in their words - "Maximum rock, metal, thrash and grind", which kind of leaves thing open until the point when you realise that amongst their ranks are Ryan Moll (guitarist) from Rumpelstiltskin Grinder, Dan O'Hare (bassist) from Total Fucking Destruction and Richard Hoak (Drums) from Brutal Truth, although vocalist MegaDan Tumolo is new to me. Basically it's four gents from Philadelphia, playing good ol' heavy metal.

Tracklist:-

1. Bleeder
2. Fat Man
3. Libertine
4. Kill, Kill, Kill
5. Almost Cut My Hair
6. Ungodly
7. Consumptuous
8. Rock N Roll Doctor
9. Stoner Grind
10. Ballad of Old Head


It's been a long time since any mention of traditional heavy metal was found on this blog. This is pure, unequivocal heavy metal, with thrash infused drums and screaming guitar solos. From the initial impressions of opening track Bleeder, people may make Megadeth comparisons, but that would just be lazy. You can tell though, that the majority of Old Head play in grind bands as the music is furiously fast at times, with a sense of disorganised mayhem flowing through it.

Fat Man (a Jethro Tull cover) starts with an epic intro featuring a great repeated riff and a high-pitched vocal scream. The song is a short one, but pack in fast drumming and a great, extended guitar solo. Old Head pack a lot into their music, for what is essentially standard rock n roll compositions, but turn into to much more with the thrash and grind backgrounds of these guys. Just listen to Libertine for yourself, my description of fast thrashing guitar solos, low-end walls of sound and crazed drumming backing up those over the top vocals, doesn't do it justice.

I'm probably one of those rare fans who actually likes the whole trad heavy metal revivalists more than the real thing, which probably makes me a heathen, but seeing musicians who have wide ranges of tastes embarking on a band like Old Head is super satisfying and just shows that variation is definitely the enemy of boredom. It's also worth mentioning, as Kill, Kill, Kill flails forward, that the production on this album is pretty damn good too. Each instrument is clear but the mix is such that when all are playing in unison, this record sounds chunky as hell and pretty loud. It's how heavy metal should sound to me!

Almost Cut My Hair is probably my standout track on Maximum Rock. It sounds as though Old Head have settled into their stride on this song and have nailed their sound. The structure of the song, the instrumentation and the vocals are in harmony and it's just rockin! The second part of Maximum Rock speeds past at a faster rate. Old Head prefer shorter, more impacting songs now, Ungodly being the first. They follow their formula of old-school thrash inspired rock.

These guys still have their tongue planted in their cheeks though, just listen to the opening bars of Consumptuous. Rock n Roll Doctor is pretty over the top, especially with another big solo part way through. As Maximum Rock closes with Stoner Grind and Ballad of Old Head, you're left pretty out of breath. It's been an experience!

This album will obviously appeal to more people than it's members' more well known bands, but on it's own it's worthy of plenty of listens due to the musical quality. If you want some good old heavy metal and a good time, listen to Old Head.

Maximum Rock is up for streaming on Old Head's bandcamp page below:-


The CD is available from At War With False Noise at http://www.atwarwithfalsenoise.com/index.html.

Old Head can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/oldheadshreds.

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