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

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
V&A museum in London

Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'

Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper, Alessandro Nivola and Patricia Clarkson on stage

film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
art

‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project