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Friday, July 31, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Screaming Eagles roar to next level on Stand Up And Be Counted

THERE’S nothing new in this world - or so the saying goes. And, there are those that would argue that in the field of hard rock there is nothing new.

To some extent they might be right – it’s guitars, drums and singing; but in every other aspect the saying is wrong, as Screaming Eagles prove on their sophomore release ‘Stand Up and Be Counted’.

How you write and play hard rock determines whether you have added your own creative weight, and whether you have the ability and songs that make the listener stop in their tracks and get ready to raise their fists in salute to you. Screaming Eagles have achieved this.

With talent in abundance, as proved on their d├ębut release, this time they have upped their game, with superb playing, better song composition and a mature approach to their craft.

Album closer ’27 Club’ and ‘Breaking All The Rules’ are just two examples of how Screaming Eagles are spreading their rock wings and getting ready to ride the air to further success.

They are also not afraid to acknowledge their influences - the album title, and track of the same name are a direct nod to AC/DC (it's the first line of 'For Those About to Rock), and throughout there are references to classic hard rock bands.

But this is no slavish rehash of the same old riffs and hooks: no this is bringing hard rock bang up to date; fresh sounding, raucous and proud. No better example of this is the lead single 'Save Me' with its creative arrangement, slick solo and a hook that will snag you into its delightful refrain.

Lyrically the album also showcases grit and angst, as well as insight that rarely finds its way on to recording - add in Chris Fry's vocals makes for a killer album. This time Fry has elevated his work to a higher plain.

The same could be said for Adrian McAleenan's guitar work. McAleenan has always been acknowledged as one of the top rock guitarists in the land. On 'Stand Up And Be Counted' he has developed his tone and added more diversity to his sound, with the title track showcasing those in the perfect context.

Underpinning it all is the rhythm section. It rocks and rolls, holding the whole album together like gaffa tape. Ryan Lilly (bass) and Kyle Cruikshank (drums) have added a new groove such as on 'Bow Down To The Blues' and the eponymous 'Screaming Eagles'.

That track is worthy of note - it's not about the band, but rather the US Army's 101st Airborne Division, whose nickname is the Screaming Eagles. What could have been a cheesy track ends up as a chest-thumping anthem.

Track by track there is an abundance of what fans of rock want - and need. But taken as a whole this a huge step up in writing and performance; add the production and mastering by Russ Cullen and you have a winner.

Stand Up And Be Counted is available digitally now from the usual online stores and the bands site.

Review by Jonny



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