Devilfire - Dark Manouevres - Campbell Stewart

For those who sit on their backsides in dark musty rock bars, week in week out, bemoaning the lack of good new bands..... this is probably not for you. Because it is new, it is fantastic, it is current, and it is one of the best rock albums of this year. 4 years in the making and several rewrites later, band leader Alex Cooper describes the process thus - "Dark Manouevres is very much an inside look at my life over the last four years…the good times and bad on the UK rock n’ roll scene. Love, loss, hate, jealousy, arguments, all thrown against a background of excessive drink, drugs, and ego fuelled behaviour. Though not to blow these things out of proportion, it isn't like the dye of Motley Crue in the 1980s. These things are very subtly done nowadays, hence the album title."

Was it worth the wait? Absolutely. This is one of the strongest debut releases I've heard in a long time. It is a classy well written, superbly produced slice of modern melodic rock / metal. There are big hints of 80's AOR, if a little rockier, but the production is undoubtedly modern. The songs are by Cooper's admission, often deeply personal, but more upbeat than that would suggest, and often anthemic, especially 4th track in, 'Waiting for a Rockstar' which has a huge hook, swagger and groove to it, and could well be one of the best songs I will hear this year. Next track 'Lay it on the Line could easily be from a classic Thunder album. This is stunningly good, believe me! 'Kill Your Love' reminds me of Gun's 'Steal Your Fire', which is no bad thing either, with some superb twin lead guitar work. Tear Me Apart is the obligatory power ballad, perfectly paced after the earlier numbers, and will be a classic 'lighters in the air' moment at live gigs. Overall this is a highly impressive set of finely crafted rock songs, with a sense of melody that many current bands seem to lack. I can't wait to hear these songs played live. The album hits the shops on October 6th