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)

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls


The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury


Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas


Arts and Entertainment


Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7


Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary


Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige


Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence