ALBUMS / Doom, gloom, more doom: Andy Gill finds that A stands for Aaron, Anthrax and Aztec

ANTHRAX - sound of white noise (Elektra 7559-61430)

NOBODY ever accused Anthrax of good taste - the sticker on this latest release boasts of a 'special skull print' on the CD box - but in replacing the excessively permed sore thumb of singer Joey Belladonna with the grungier John Bush, they at least display good sense.

Their last album for Island, the Attack of the Killer B's compilation, showed them several lengths ahead of their heavy-metal colleagues in adapting to contemporary musical techniques such as sampling, remixing and rapping, the latter in their ground-breaking collaboration with Public Enemy on 'Bring the Noise'. They've not abandoned such crossovers - PE deejay Terminator X scratches on '1,000 Points of Hate', and Twin Peaks maestro Angelo Badalamenti adds his familiar doomy drape of strings to 'Black Lodge' - though this time around they stick closer to home, straddling traditional hardcore metal territory and nihilistic industrial grindcore.

It's still recognisably Anthrax, despite the changes. The familiar grey chug of Scott Ian's riffing remains indomitable, and their hyperbolic terminology is fully present and correct: on this album you will find sacrifice, rage, pain, death, mass delusion, crucifixion, terror, hatred, schism, distress, evil, nightmares, rapture, explosion, blood, a bit more pain, and moot. Moot? That's right, moot. As in 'to the point that is moot'.

That's the appealing thing about Anthrax: between the routine death- metal nightmare scenarios one has come to expect, there's a vein of articulate rhetoric which throws up surprisingly intelligent assessments of modern life (particularly regarding the censorial pressure from left and right), along with the occasional barb of humour. Take the opening couplet to 'C11 H17 N2 O2 SNa' (apparently the chemical formula for sodium pentathol): 'If one day you'd backed up a promise you made / We'd have to make it a holiday.'

DIRE STRAITS - On the Night (Vertigo 514 766)

BOLSTERED by massive cheering, this live album opens with a huge build-up which grows and grows and then suddenly dissipates into the polite canter of 'Calling Elvis'. It's bathetically funny in a John Shuttleworth way, but the song's not quite that entertaining.

It doesn't stop the Straits (the Dire?) from milking it for all it's worth, though, sailing this slight song beyond 10 minutes with both the expected Knopfler guitar break and, somewhat less welcome, the kind of flailing percussion break that Ray Cooper habitually inserts into virtually every big-name Wembley concert. Except that it's not Ray doing it here, it's Danny Cummings behind the roadie's nightmare forest of pots and pans. Then there's a series of little flourishes, instrument by instrument, before the whole (nine-piece) band winds up for the final chord, repeated faster and faster until everyone's thrashing away madly. It seems such an ostentatious way to conclude such a diffident little song, but it's not the only victim of overkill. 'Romeo and Juliet' is inflated to 10 minutes by sax and pedal steel solos, and the remaining eight tracks add a further 55 minutes between them.

AARON NEVILLE - The Grand Tour (A&M 540 100)

EVEN diehard Nevillites like myself may baulk at The Grand Tour, which offers diminishing returns on the formula of Aaron's previous successful solo album, Warm Your Heart. There's the Linda Ronstadt duet, in this case an overtly religiose reading of Leonard Cohen's 'Song of Bernadette'; the Dylan cover, 'Don't Fall Apart on Me Tonight'; the soul cover - 'Betcha By Golly, Wow' done even smoothier and creamier than the Stylistics' original, if that's possible; the song with 'brother' somewhere in the title, which all Aaron's relatives can join in with ('My Brother, My Brother'); and the gospel song, a version of 'The Lord's Prayer' stained only with a dash of hymnal choir and quiet electric piano accompaniment. All of which are acceptable, if unexceptional by Neville's own standards.

Unfortunately, too many of the remaining tracks are embarrassments which tilt the scale towards the dumper: Aaron's own 'The Roadie Song' is a frightful tribute to the builder's-bummed humpers who help keep the great timepiece of rock ticking, while a discreet veil should be drawn over the cover of Chuck Berry's 'You Never Can Tell'.

On the credit side, Aaron's melismatic croon partners the pedal steel guitar well on the country weepie title-track.

AZTEC CAMERA - Dreamland (WEA 4509-92492)

FEW surprises here, just the usual Roddy Frame quotient of 'quality' love songs done in his usual manner with self-effacing simplicity, even the flugelhorn break and violin coda of 'Let Your Love Decide' failing to disturb his romantic reverie. Ryuichi Sakamoto, whose own recent albums have been impressive cross-cultural fusions crippled by good taste, has been drafted in as co-producer for Dreamland, which may be a mistake as he tends to compound Frame's excessively well-mannered approach.

Sedate jangle-pop items like 'Black Lucia' and the current single 'Dream Sweet Dreams' are pleasant enough, though for all Frame's focus on emotional trauma, there's precious little here to set the heart racing, and a few too many examples of his juggling romantic cliches to no particular end. Take 'Safe In Sorrow', one of the stand-out tracks, which claims 'You've been down on your knees / Building up a big brick wall / Too scared to fly / So you'll never fall'. Surely, the wall can't be that big if s/he's on his / her knees? Or is this simply slapdash metaphor-mixing?

That CD Price War: see Simon Garfield, page 26.

(Photographs omitted)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future