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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Aaron Buchanan and The Cult Classics nail it with

Former Heaven’s Basement vocalist is back with his new and interestingly named band The Cult Classics. Featuring sister Laurie on guitar, Tom McCarthy (guitars), Chris Guyant(bass) and Kev Hickman (drums, formerly of Raveneye).

Promising a 90’s sounding album with influences such as Eddie Vedder, Chris Cornell, Scott Weiland and Queen it sounded an interesting project and with festival appearances at Download , HRH, and Ramblin’ Man Fair among others their live performances thus far seem to have backed up that promise. But could the album “The Man With Stars on His Knees” live up to the hype?

The answer is a resounding YES!!

The thunderous (if very short) opener ‘Show me What You’re Made Of’ hits you straight between the ears with its bass and drum into and heavy guitar riff.

The first single off the album ‘All The Things You’ve Said and Done’ follows. It’s autobiographical and at times an angry song but it’s got a great melodic fast tempo to it. A bit Alterbridge in sound with a catchy chorus, nice guitar solo it’s a great first release and well worth a hit on youtube.

Third track ‘Dancin’ Down Below’ again has a great melodic tempo to it with big hooks and effective guitar fills accompanying Buchanans’ powerful vocal you are already drawn right into this album.

‘The Devil That Needs You’ is a slightly catchier number considering its subject being about addiction. There is a solid heavy riff throughout whilst staying true to the melody and the middle to end section really gives you the feel of anguish and pain. Bit of a strange ending to it but it doesn’t detract from the overall tune.

At this point you get to take a breather with the mellow ‘Journey Out’. It has an overall more subdued sound both on vocal and guitar which is complemented by the tight rhythm section. A conflicting louder and deeper chorus is perfect as is the extended outro of atmospheric vocals over the guitar line.

Title track “The Man With Stars on His Knees” is next and is another mellow song giving Buchanan a chance to showcase the more soulful side of his vocal range, at least to start with as it dramatically builds into a driving, melodic riff laden song with a huge chorus and commanding vocal. It chills out again with a great Queen style harmonic guitar play off. Seriously well crafted song.

Track seven ‘A God Is No Friend’ is another atmospheric tune with strong and passionate vocals. It’s a song about keeping an open mind about life, yourself and the path you eventually follow.

‘Left Me For Dead’ with its slightly Hendrix guitar opening is a mid to fast paced song in tempo with a very strong guitar and rhythm section. Again theres a bit of an Alterbridge feel to it but other ears may pick up something different.

This was track eight and so far there is no filler at all.

To emphasise that point penultimate track ‘Mind of a Mute’ is a mean and dirty tune about self destruction and judgement. A stoner rock vibe to it fits the lyrical content perfectly and in terms of heavy it’s the heaviest song on the album.

The album finishes with what the bands PR guys described as “the incredibly elegant ‘Morals’. A showpiece song, stacked harmonies that closes the album in the best possible way”

Hard to disagree with that so if you can’t say it any better.....  

“The Man With Stars on His Knees” is a provocative album that deserves careful consideration. There’s a lot going on and one listen just doesn’t do it justice even if it does grab you from track one.

Buchanan himself said “the album is about struggle brought on by surrounding yourself with the wrong people at the wrong time”

Think they pretty much nailed it.

Review by Andy Gillen

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