Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Black Rain-Water Shape

Atomic Stuff Records

Pure energy. No, we're not talking about that oft-repeated bit from Information Society's catchy "What's On Your Mind". Instead we're going to talk about the Italian band The Black Rain who, despite being born in Bologna in 2002, didn't grow into a proper band until 2010. The thing is by that point the band, which is categorically heads and shoulders above plenty of like-minded bands both in their native country and here is the U.S. (and that's before we even address their top-tier front-man Mirko Greco!), was well on their way towards setting fire to the playing field (or if you will the heavy rock and roll/hard rock scene) by way of well-thought out and (more often then not) heartfelt material. With a 2010 EP entitled "Hot for a Night" having served as the group's debut and then the late 2012 full-length album, "Night Tales", having helped to establish their name the stage was all set for this four-piece to come out swinging and really set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd with their sophomore output. To that end along comes the well-crafted/well-executed "Water Shape" which should do wonders for the ever-growing legacy of this band in their home country as well as serve as a pretty good introduction for the American audiences. From the way in which this disc opens strong with "Shadows" and then hits with "Mesmerize" you'd swear that this was going to end up being one of 2014's better hard rock platters! And that was before the album's first single "Rock 'n' Roll Guy" even kicked in! The track is righteously dedicated to those who still live their lives the rock 'n roll way and if any number is going to put The Black Rain on the charts it's this rocker!With both "Shadows" and "Mesmerize" (two rock and roll laced hard crunchers) grabbing hold of me hook, line and sinker (and by "hook" I mean the gnarly guitar playing of Eugenio Bonifazi and the strong presence of lead singer Mirko Greco) there was absolutely no way in heaven that I could have possibly been expected to see a number like "Rock 'n' Roll Guy" coming. And yet there it was. "Rock 'n' Roll Guy" is the sound of late eighties/early nineties hard rock/hair metal only the difference here is there is none of the long locks associated with said genres or any of the silly lipstick and lace! Instead we get the pleasure of four leather-clad musicians (including the rock-solid rhythm section of  bass player Marco Molteni and drummer Raffaele Marchesini) making magic for heavy rock/hard rock lovers! By the end of "Rock 'n' Roll Guy" I was close to ranking this album as one of the best rock and roll LPs of the last few years! "(S)He's So Amazing", which features Francesco Grandi (former lead singer of Rain) as a guest, did little to stop the enthusiasm I had for "Water Shape" and neither did the somewhat bluesy "Robert Johnson". Five numbers in and I was completely digging these Italian hard rockers whose sound hinted at a wide variety of influences such as (or rather as diverse as!) Collective Soul, Black Label Society, Soundgarden/Audioslave (In fact front-man Mirko Greco comes about as close as he can to being a rustic Italian version of Chris Cornell!), AC/DC, Santana, Billy Idol, Jimi Hendrix, Candlebox, The Black Crowes and even U2 ("King Of Stones" coming across as a hard and heavy version of said Irish rock band!). The versatility on display here is nothing to sleep on. The title of this 11-track album refers to the structure-free status of water and after just one listen to this recently-released album you'll understand the meaning behind that message! The way in which the rest of the disc plays out (check out "Without love" which reminded me of both solo Chris Cornell and solo Rob Thomas!) there really is an amazing amount of variety going on hence the title! The Black Rain probably did not go into the studio with the goal of crafting a Top-10 kind of rock and roll platter, but it's hard to pinpoint a moment that doesn't strive for that vision on "Water Shape"! With that said, "Water Shape" does offer plenty of heavier moments for the hard rock crowd. This one has guitar solos that go out of their way to be wicked as possible (it certainly looks as if they (the almighty riffs that rage on this disc!) are just aching for a good fight and then there are those dynamite rhythms that keep the beat steady, but are anything but restrained! And yes, the band does play as if they are dead set on taking over hard rock/rock and roll or at the very least taking a real chunk out of the scene by way of atomic leads, kick-ass bass and forceful singing that reminds you all at once of the glory of rock and roll as well as rock's dirty underbelly! Simply put this album (as smooth as it can be) feels like a band going a long way towards jam-packed rock/hard rock with slick licks that are (occasionally) disguised as commercial rock. "Water Shape" shakes, rattles and rolls and even offers a few surprises along the way  (no spoilers friends as you need to hear this one ALL THE WAY through in order to reap the full benefits of this particular party! How it is that Atomic Stuff Records can keep finding gems like this band is any one's guess. Somehow/someway the label picks up the scent of cool rock stars in waiting and then snags and bags them before anyone knows what the hell happened! It all seems so unlikely at times that bands like this are still out there. And yet here we are looking at another band with more talent between the four members than anyone can rightly be expected to contain. The Black Rain are a really good find on the part of Atomic Stuff Records and it just goes to show that when this label is tasked with finding their next new and exciting (dare we even say sensational?) act they know how to pick em! Although let's face it friends, that kind of task is much easier when you've got a band who can pair up good hooks with good looks!

So, if you find yourself looking for the next cool thing in hard rock/heavy rock and roll then look no further! Sure, the fine folks over at Atomic Stuff Records will likely get there hands on even more killer acts that happen to reside in Italy. The Black Rain should be leading the way though and doing it with plenty of sizzling guitar riffs and one of the better new front-men out there! You can find these guys online at   and as well as on their Facebook page here: 

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