Album Reviews


Hard Cold Fire

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Thankfully it feels like we are past having to talk about postponements and delays due to the pandemic, but the latest album from Therapy? is another little reminder of what we’ve been through.

Recorded in November 2021, ‘Hard Cold Fire’ is seeing the light of day now having been held back to allow the band to conclude their well received 30th Anniversary Tour. That tour celebrated the incredible journey the band have had; but a major part of their career has always been new music, so it’s fitting that they follow is up with another collection of fresh material.

In fact ‘Hard Cold Fire’ is the band’s 16th album given them an average output of an album just over every two years. Over such a sustained period this is a remarkable achievement, particularly over the past decade during which most acts of a similar ilk would have long slowed down.

Those live shows last year were a clear indication that the band won’t be slowing down anytime soon, either in work ethic or indeed sonically. The velocity at which the riffs on this album are delivered are echoed in the length of the record at just over the half hour mark.

Therapy? – ‘Poundland of Hope and Glory’

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Musically this is Therapy? at their very best and the album simply flies by with all ten tracks adding something to the album. There are some standout moments such as fantastic opener ‘They Shoot the Terrible Master’, the juxtaposition of ‘Woe’ and ‘Joy’ and the stunningly titled ‘Poundland of Hope and Glory’ (fitting on this coronation weekend!), but every track is a winner.

If the delivery rate for Therapy? albums is something to be admired, the consistency in quality truly must be revered. ‘Hard Cold Fire’ isn’t just “another one for the collection”, this is another highly relevant and hard rocking exhibit in the case that Therapy? are one of the most criminally undervalued rock bands of the last three decades!

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Album Reviews

Ryan Hamilton

Haunted by the Holy Ghost

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Ryan Hamilton has always been something of a musical chameleon and on his new album, ‘Haunted by the Holy Ghost’, Hamilton evolves once again. For this album Hamilton takes elements from everything he has done already and wraps them in an Americana inspired bow.

Rock ‘n’ roll, indie rock, power pop and influences from across generations, this album really is a smorgasbord of sonic delights. At this point in Ryan Hamilton’s career, it’s important for listeners to leave their expectations at the door and strap themselves in for whatever wonders have been emanating from his mind.

This is a very enjoyable, fun listen which is obviously an important quality for any album. This record will have you laughing, crying and bopping through three quarters of an hour of finely tuned rock ‘n’ roll mastery.

Ryan Hamilton – ‘Asshole’

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On one of the standout songs, ‘Asshole’, Hamilton sings “…don’t wanna be that guy I’ve been before..”, which is something that seems like something of a motto throughout his career, as he continually reinvents himself.

One thing has remained consistent through his career however and that is the quality of his songwriting. Insightful, deep and meaningful one moment, tongue-in-cheek and brash the next, whatever he turns his mind to, Hamilton comes out with something spectacular.

‘Haunted by the Holy Ghost’ ultimately is another fine release from Ryan Hamilton, which will remain on repeat for quite some time for those that dive in. What comes next from Hamilton, only time will tell, but odds are it will be great!

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The Full Pelt Music Podcast – Episode 15 – Ryan Hamilton

Read our review of ‘Love, Chaos’ from The Pearl Harts

Album Reviews

Lottery Winners

Anxiety Replacement Therapy

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The Lottery Winners have been building up an indelible reputation for their incredibly fun live shows. Numerous memorable festival shows and hugely popular support slots have created a real buzz around the band, and now feels like the time for them to strike while that proverbial iron is hot.

With the band finishing out their current headline tour, the iron is in fact not just hot but absolutely steaming and it’s no surprise that they now find themselves in a little chart battle for the number one spot. Some ingenious sales techniques will certainly have helped those pre-order numbers.

But, all that build needs an important thing at the end of the day and that’s a top quality album! So, when you strip back all the showmanship and focus on the music, can the Lottery Winners deliver the goods required to take their next big leap forward?

Lottery Winners – ‘Worry’

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Spoiler alert – you’re damn right they can! ‘Anxiety Repleacement Therapy’ is a perfectly timed blast of infectious indie pop that gets your feet moving and your brain thinking. Sonically uplifting and thematically inspiring, the album takes you on a literal journey towards enlightenment.

There are some purely stunning moments that will have you completely lost in the music such as ‘Worry’, ‘Burning House’ and ‘Sertraline’, then there are times where the smart lyrics will have you considering the depths of your inner being such as the highly relatable ‘Letter To Myself’ and ‘You’re Not Alone’.

Everything on this album just clicks and flows effortlessly. For example, seeing in advance of release that the album would feature guest slots from Frank Turner, Boy George and Shaun Ryder; I wondered if these would take something away from the Lottery Winners and disrupt the album. Quite the opposite is in fact the reality as each fits in seamlessly and works superbly within the context of the album.

The time really does feel like such an important one in the history of the band as they look like they are ready to firmly breakout into the mainstream. They have the live show to back up the music and now they have a masterpiece of an album to showcase, the world very much appears to be their oyster!

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Album Reviews

The Pearl Harts

Love, Chaos

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Time moves so quickly these days, even that life changing time when the world stood still seems a long time ago. It certainly doesn’t feel like five years since The Pearl Harts released their phenomenal debut album, ‘Glitter & Spit’!

Well, it somehow was, but after everything that has happened in the intervening time, it’s finally time for the duo to unleash their sophomore record, ‘Love, Chaos’.

The build up towards the release of the album has seen the singles ‘More’, ‘Wild Me’ and ‘Hypocritical’ hint that whilst the bands ferocious hooks remain front and centre, this new material has had the groove turned up to eleven.

The Pearl Harts – ‘Hypocritical’

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The album in its entirety continues the theme of sonic growth building on the solid foundations that their debut album laid. ‘Love, Chaos’ is stylish and elegant rock and roll fun, that isn’t afraid to challenge the unhealthy and the unjust through some witty lyricism.

Packed full of a healthy mix of attitude and unashamed chic, ‘Love, Chaos’ is a charming collection of songs that also happens to pack a punch.

There may have been a bit of a wait between albums, but the wait for more of The Pearl Harts has been worth the wait and more. This duo are a force of nature and ‘Love, Chaos’ is another spectacular statement from a group with so much potential. Remember the name The Pearl Harts!

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Album Reviews

Enter Shikari

A Kiss for the Whole World

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Enter Shikari have been riding on a hot streak that some would argue dates back to their 2007 debut album, ‘Take To The Skies’. Others may point towards 2015 masterpiece ‘The Mindsweep’ as the moment that a band with all the potential in the world finally seized on their talents to move to a different level.

Either way, it’s clear at this point that the band operate on their own level and creatively not many contemporaries can keep their pace. New seventh album, ‘A Kiss for the Whole World’ is another unpredictable collection of genre-defying bangers which will get the listeners moving.

Where Enter Shikari regularly raise the game however is their ability not just to get their audience moving, but also thinking. Again on this album, the band tackle the complexities and dangers of the modern world – and let’s face it there is no shortage of source material for the band to explore given the state of the world these days.

Enter Shikari – ‘A Kiss for the Whole World x’

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Always willing to confront and inspect the signs of the times, ‘A Kiss for the Whole World’ finds the band lighting a spark found missing during the pandemic years. Fittingly ignited by their appearance at the Download Pilot Festival that represented one of the first glimmers of life for the music industry, this is the sound of a band regrouping with another affirming record.

The likes of the title track, and pre-release singles ‘(pls) set me on fire’, ‘It Hurts’ and ‘Bloodshot’ are typical of what to expect from the rest of the album. If there was any doubt this would be more of Enter Shikari at their very best, one quick run through of the album will dispel those doubts immediately.

The hot streak is very much intact, and this album can only be heralded as another stunning success for a band showing no signs of resting on their laurels.

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Album Reviews

Black Orchid Empire

Tempus Veritas

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Black Orchid Empire have been quietly assembling a formidable back catalogue and now they are back to further showcase themselves as a creative force with their fourth album, ‘Tempus Veritas’.

Once again packed full of killer riffs, driving rhythm and soaring vocals this is another stunning collection of songs from a band who have certainly mastered their sound.

There is something for everyone across these eleven tracks with elements of hard rock, melodic pop rock and radio friendly choruses all bound by their ferocious technical hooks. Whether you are after a rocker to sing-a-long to or something with a little more substance, Black Orchid Empire have you covered on ‘Tempus Veritas’.

Black Orchid Empire – ‘The Raven’

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The likes of ‘The Raven’, ‘Deny the Sun’ and ‘Glory to the King’ are massive but realistically there isn’t a song on here to drops below the high standards that the band has already set for themselves.

At around 37 minutes, the album just flies by which feels so refreshing having just reviewed the new Metallica album! As with that record, the quality is well and truly here but this one doesn’t feel like a slog to get from start to finish. In fact once the album does finish, your first instinct is the hit play again, which is always the best sign that an album is a winner.

Don’t sleep on this band, whilst criminally underappreciated they are one of the finest rock bands currently plying their craft!

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Read our review of ’72 Seasons’ from Metallica

Album Reviews

Sean McGowan

Who On Earth

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For his second album Sean McGowan has unshackled himself from expectation and bet on himself. The stunning results speak for themselves as eleven songs spread over 31 minutes showcase one of the UK’s finest songwriters as his brutally honest best.

McGowan has always had a knack for capturing a true indictment of the current climate and with our country in a constant state of turmoil in recent years it’s no surprise that on ‘Who On Earth’, McGowan manages to articulate a fair few home truths.

More than just the odd fleeting jibe, McGowan’s lyrical outpouring is consistently relevant and sincere. Nothing is off limits it would seem as McGowan paints an accurate picture of Britain in 2023, and with his ability to rejuvenate the listener rather than drag them down, ‘Who On Earth’ is a statement of resistance rather than a message of surrender.

Sean McGowan – ‘Casanova’

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Throughout his career McGowan has always shown his lyricism to be fresh and frank, but on this album we get to experience a more expansive sonic frame for those words. The focus on making the most of his musical freedom is clear for all to hear and the likes of ‘On The Up’ and ‘Casanova’ are amongst the best work McGowan has ever produced.

It’s a difficult climate for musicians to navigate at the moment and ‘Who On Earth’ isn’t just brave from a business sense it’s bold and daring from a musical perspective. For an artist such as Sean McGowan to continue to surprise at this stage of their career is special and that just confirms McGowan as the extraordinary musician those familiar with his work have always known him to be.

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The Full Pelt Music Podcast – Episode 19 – Sean McGowan

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Album Reviews


72 Seasons

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Metallica – 72 seasons – album review

A new Metallica album has become quite the event these days due to the timeframes between releases. ‘72 Seasons’ represents the first new album in almost seven years and only the third album over the past twenty years since the much maligned ‘St. Anger’.

Realistically Metallica have reached a point in their career where they don’t need to release any new music. Their legendary status is secured and fans will flock to see them live regardless of new material.

They have however lived something of a renaissance with their last two albums, ‘Death Magnetic’ and ‘Hardwired… to Self-Destruct’, both being very well received and termed by many as a mythical “return to form”.

It may be then that rather than a need to release new music, the band want to release new music. That again is a right that they well and truly earned and realistically no matter what they do musically, they are never going to lose stature because of any missteps – awful 2011 Lou Reed collaboration ‘Lulu’ proved that.

watch ‘Lux Æterna’ on YOUTUBE
Metallica – ‘Lux Æterna’

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What does all this mean then for ’72 Seasons’? Well to an extent free reign for the band to indulge. What we get however is a continuation of the previous two albums, which in many ways is a good thing, after all both records were Metallica at their very best. And that is arguably what we have again here, Metallica doing Metallica incredibly well.

Over the length of their career though some of their finest (and yes agreed worst) moments always came when they pushed the parameters a little. That is perhaps where ’72 Seasons’ finds itself lacking slightly and risks it being “just another Metallica album”, albeit a very good one!

When you also factor in the 77 minute runtime, it’s rather monotonous listening. It’s all very good as I say but that consistency somehow ends up hurting the album as nothing in particular stands out.

If you’re a diehard Metallica fan, you’ll pick up this album and thoroughly enjoy it. If you are a fair weather fan then there is nothing to hate but you’ll likely stick to listening to the ‘Black Album’ on repeat after your first listen.

The band didn’t need to release this album, and whilst I’m glad they did, given how little appears to be left in the tank before retirement, it would’ve been nice to be given one more curveball from them. That said and to drill the point home this is still a very good Metallica album!

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Album Reviews

Fall Out Boy

So Much (For) Stardust

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20+ years, eight studio albums, the highest of highs, the lowest of lows, a hiatus, a reunion and a steady stream of hit singles. Yes, the career of Fall Out Boy has been an entertaining follow over the years, but right now the band appear to be at the peak of their commercial powers.

Nobody can argue that they’ve taken their live show to the next level and that’s why you find them regularly selling out the largest venues in town. Their studio output however has always been a target for critics, with previous effort ‘Mania’ being particularly picked apart and written off.

Admittedly, even I would say beyond a handful of fun tunes that album lacked any real depth and felt slightly like a band going through the motions. Last time Fall Out Boy felt like that they went on a lengthy hiatus before returning better than before.

There has been not hiatus this time, but as the band geared up for the release of their new album, ‘So Much (For) Stardust’, you did get a sense of maturity from the group. You’d argue a band two decades into their career should take themselves seriously, but then Fall Out Boy have always been a band that appeal to younger generations of music fan.

Fall Out Boy – ‘Hold Me Like A Grudge’

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What we get then on this record is a balance. The band deliver a fresh album which appeals to fans old and new. The opening trio of ‘Love From The Other Side’, ‘Heartbreak Feels So Good’ and ‘Hold Me Like a Grudge’ are right up there with the best the band has ever produced, and there are a number of great tracks scattered around the album which instantly provides greater strength in depth then ‘Mania’.

The pace of the album works well and keeps you engaged even in the weaker moments. Overall this is probably the ideal answer to anybody questioning the band, even if it won’t be held in the same esteem as some of their earlier work. A good number of the tracks will sound huge live and add to the bands momentum as they continue their path to world domination.  

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Album Reviews

Theory of a Deadman


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theory of a deadman – dinosaur – album review

With the release of their latest studio album, ‘Dinosaur’, Theory of a Deadman continue a streak of releasing a new album every three years that started back in 2002. That self-titled release feels a long time ago, because it is! 20+ years in fact, but as we arrive at album number eight, Theory of a Deadman feel more relevant than ever.

The band have always been rather marmite, you know – you either love them or hate them. They’ve been maligned by many doubters over the years but through this they’ve still managed to amass an impressive catalogue of hits.

There has always been an element of juvenility to their lyrical content but for those that enjoy the band that has been a large aspect of the charm of the band. On ‘Dinosaur’, the opening song and title-track of this record, you’re instantly struck by the maturity and seriousness of the subject matter.

Theory of a Deadman – ‘Dinosaur’

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Thematically and sonically, this album is the straightest and most genuine and mature offering from the Canadians yet. Both the simple hard rock formula on the heavier tracks and the standard approach to the more melodic moments suits the album well.

Whilst overall you get a more grounded Theory of a Deadman, there is also plenty to occupy the fans of the over the top nature of their past work.

On ‘Dinosaur’ it may well be that a band who are always having their identity questioned have found their true sound. This is indeed an ideal mix that will satisfy fans old and new, and demonstrate that unlike the subject matter of the lead single, there is plenty of life left in these old rockers yet!

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