ADVANCE ALBUM REVIEW
Exclusive pictures taken at the soundcheck for Man Raze's debut show
Simon Laffy (bass), Paul Cook (drums), Phil Collen (Guitar/vocals)
Tracks: This Is / Turn It Up / Runnin' Me Up / Every Second Of Every Day / Spinning Out / Can't find My Own Way / Skin Crawl / Low / Connected To You / Halo / It's Entertainment / Shadowman
Pictured left: Advance Copy
The much anticipated debut album from Man Raze has arrived. I've been looking forward to this since the group's stunning launch party gig for their single Skin Crawl.
The album starts with an opening salvo of two thundering tracks, kicking off at a breakneck pace with This Is. It's a tough performance and shows their ability to turn on the power and rock hard and fast. It's blessed with a lightening solo from Phil Collen. “I gotta reason to fight” sings Phil. No doubt about it, they mean business. “This is the age of experience” is another telling line. These guys have experience in spades and don't hold back.
Turn It Up continues the call to arms. It's infectious, awash with a love of classic rock ‘n' roll; “C'mon shake me to the bone. I wanna hear that song again.” You won't sit still to this one, it's got anthem stamped right across it.
The strength of Man Raze is their versatility. With a vast range of influences and styles, they're not afraid to use them in their music. Dub reggae song Runnin' Me Up is a fine example, featuring terrific drumming from Paul and complimentary rhythm from Simon Laffy on bass. Not many bands could pull this off. It's the ideal contrast to the opening two storming tracks.
Every Second Of Every Day presents another change of style without taking the foot off the gas. A sing-a-long chorus and a spine-tingling melody deliver another memorable moment.
Hypnotic bass and acidic guitar have the next cut, Spinning Out, threatening to do just that; spin out of control. Paul's rock solid performance keeps it tight, holding the song together allowing Phil to cut loose with another stellar solo.
Can't find My Own Way is a distillation of the band's musical range. Reggae, dub and rock are all thrown into the pot in equal measure; the cool groove providing a springboard for red hot bursts of rock ‘n' roll. A lot of thought has gone into the pacing of the album. This track provides the perfect halfway point with all of Man Raze's strengths on show.
Skin Crawl takes us right back to the band's debut single, only this time it's been reworked. It's now moodier, meaner, and even more sinister. It shapes up to bite you at any moment. By the end of the song it's under your skin – there's nothing you can do to prevent it. Powerful and unstoppable. It's brilliant.
Low is sharp and melodic. It's also uniquely Man Raze. They've carved their own sound, and no matter what song or style, there is no doubt you're listening to Man Raze. “I can't sleep at night, I can't get it right, when my resistance is low.” Special mention for the vocals; consistently strong throughout the album, Phil handles the melody with the confidence necessary to nail it.
Connected To You again fuses reggae with fast, powerful, rock ‘n' roll. The guitar, bass and drums weave together to deliver a soaring pure performance. Utterly danceable, no matter what your preferred musical genre. It's a phenomenal cut.
Halo is another signature song for the group. It's got everything: a wonderful chorus, pile-driving guitar, rock licks, bass that ducks and dives, and irresistible pounding drums. “It's all around... let's face it like a halo.”
The menacing It's Entertainment gives a further rock kick to the proceedings, ensuring no let up in the energy stakes. Paul hits the skins with a ferocity that shifts the song up a gear and steers a pulsating steam roller, destined to take you out.
The final track Shadowman is a superbly crafted multi-faceted song. A song about living with your dark side, it's fittingly a blend of the different sides of Man Raze themselves. Sonically satisfying with a haunting chorus, Paul, Phil, & Simon all get to display their strengths as the sound switches between the subtle delights of the verse and meaty colossus of a chorus.
The production of the album deserves a mention. It's superb; multi-layered yet clear. The power of the group is captured yet the production allows the band to display their vast range of skills. No matter how intricate or subtle, you can hear it.
Having seen them live, I knew how good Man Raze were and what they were capable of. To finally have it captured in the studio was always going to be special. Surreal is extra special. It's a feast for the ears of any rock fan. I was taken aback that Man Raze sound so distinctive throughout, despite the vast range of influences and styles. They've brought their rich pedigree to the party and created a unique sound. Energy and swagger, reggae and dub, wrapped up in a rock 'n' roll sensibility.
“I've got a big fish to fry, got a killer alibi” they announce in the opening song. I guess we've all got big fish to fry. Those fish are Man Raze. Catch Man Raze. Get Surreal.
|Review and photographs by Phil Singleton (pictured with Man Raze)
Review written 30th January 2008
taken by Phil Singleton
©Phil Singleton / www.cookandjones.co.uk
material ©Phil Singleton 2008 / www.cookandjones.co.uk
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