Short cuts: Whitesnake, Faith No More, Coal Chamber

CD Review: Whitesnake – The Purple Album
Frontiers Music
All Access Rating: B

Whitesnake - The Purple Album 2015
Feeling nostalgic, even though his efforts to reunite with mercurial guitar icon Ritchie Blackmore were ultimately rebuffed, David Coverdale decided to revisit the past on The Purple Album, an homage to the Mark III and IV versions of Deep Purple he once so ably fronted. The first Whitesnake record to feature new guitarist Joel Hoekstra, The Purple Album contains re-imaginings of tracks from Deep Purple's Burn, Stormbringer and Come Taste the Band releases ensconced in full, rich sound and the seductive timber of Coverdale's ageless vocals.

Retaining all the bluster and roiling energy of the original, a full-throttle   albeit relatively straightforward  take classic "Burn" hits the gas and never lets up, and neither does the muscular, hard-charging "Lady Double Dealer," although they suck every bit of bluesy soulfulness from "Mistreated," turning into a leaden lump. That's not the case with the smoldering "You Keep On Moving," with its sultry organ and Coverdale's slinky phrasing. Amid the spare, haunting atmosphere of "Soldier of Fortune" there is lush acoustic strum and picking accompanying the lonely protagonist, while "Might Just Take Your Life" turns heavy and raucous after unraveling a nest of burnished slide guitar. It's not exactly clear why Whitesnake is doing this. Too often, it's hard to tell any difference between past versions and these new ones. That said, if nothing else, The Purple Album showcases the power and glory of a period in Deep Purple history begging to be re-evaluated.

CD Review: Faith No More  Sol Invictus
Reclamation Recordings
All Access Rating: A

Faith No More - Sol Invictus 2015
Sarcasm practically dripped from the title of Faith No More's 1997 record Album of the Year. Admissions of fatigue and creative restlessness seem to indicate members knew full well that it was not their finest hour and preemptively stole the thunder from critics who couldn't wait to savage it. Sol Invictus, on the other hand, is the sound of a revitalized Faith No More reveling in its eclectic nature and designing grand, bombastic opuses capable of waking the dead.

Made of expansive choruses, earth-scorching guitar riffs, a dizzying array of crazed vocal treatments, cascading piano and heavy, urgent rhythms, "Superhero" bristles with live-wire energy before giving way to spacious, orgasmic release. The almost unbearable tension of "Separation Anxiety" simmers and builds, as a dark, menacing bass groove relentlessly paces like an agitated predator smelling blood and prowling an eerie soundscape. An "Old West" vibe pervades "Cone of Shame," with its martial drums, before exploding into a thrash-metal frenzy, but on "Matador" and "From The Dead," Faith No More wants nothing more than to craft interesting and memorable pop songs. "Rise of the Fall" is a charming slice of bouncy experimental dub, while Mike Patton briefly showcases his soulful, R&B crooning in an otherwise epic "Sunny Side Up," emblematic of the LP's stylistic shape-shifting modus operandi. Laced with sardonic humor and delivered with Patton's gruff narration, "Motherfucker" is a combination of Ween's wacky word play and Raymond Chandler's hard-boiled storytelling, although some may toss it aside as an exercise in self-indulgence. While not entirely flawless, Sol Invictus is playfully ambitious, willing to take risks and it rewards repeated listens with new discoveries – rare traits in this day and age. Dig through its layers of instrumentation, some of Patton's most diverse and ferocious vocalizations, and unpredictable arrangements that are veritable minefields of musical pleasures and fall in love with Faith No More all over again. Album of the year, indeed.

Coal Chamber
Napalm Records
All Access Rating: B+

Coal Chamber - Rivals 2015
Once more unto the breach for the resurrected Coal Chamber, the Gothic nu-metal hooligans returning from a 13-year exile with Rivals, an album of menacing, regimented grooves, pummeling drums and psychotic vocal fury expelled by one Dez Fafara. On par with, or perhaps even surpassing, past works, Rivals is pure vitriol, Fafara's taste for thick, raging aggro – seemingly heightened by his work with the wildly successful DevilDriver – awakened in heaving, hook-heavy batterings "I.O.U. Nothing," "Bad Blood Between Us," "Another Nail In the Coffin" and "Suffer in Silence" that occasionally assume new and often more violent shapes. Anger energizes Coal Chamber, an industrial band that's seemingly in touch with only one emotion. It fuels the down-tuned toxic waltz that is "The Bridges You Burn" and pushes them to dive headlong into the swirling circle pit of "Over My Head." And while melody and beauty may be in short supply around these parts, Rivals gets unexpectedly weird with the Monster Magnet-like cosmic acid trip "Orion" and its 1:11 of dystopian desert weirdness, while noisy guitar skitter crawls across the spacious darkness of a devastatingly heavy title track like a scorpion and the wah-wah effects of "Wait" light up stormy skies with intense ultra-violet grooves. And that adherence to monster grooves, as well as its increasingly diverse songwriting, sets Coal Chamber apart from its Rivals.
– Peter Lindblad

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