Chris Appleton is perhaps best known to PM readers as the lead vocalist with his band Absolva, as well as the lead guitarist with former Wolfsbane/Iron Maiden frontman Blaze Bayley’s touring band. To others, he might just be familiar as the brother of Iced Earth’s Luke Appleton. He’s also part of the hard rockin’ Manchester dynasty responsible for the RockSector record label and the annual SOS Festival.
And, if you haven’t guessed it already, he’s also a workaholic. As the man himself says about an album the title of which sums up his attitude to both the music business and life in general: “People are asking me why another album? Why another project? And it’s in the title.. ‘Restless’. Whenever I come back from a tour I’m always waiting for the next one. Whenever I record an album, I can’t wait to record the next. I really would spend all my time on tour if I could. So, I’m trying to make that happen.”
Teaming up with both his brother (who features on two of the songs) and Belgian vocalist Wizz Wizzard, Appleton has produced a brave, if somewhat enigmatic album. It’s one which very much reflects the man as he is and where he has come from – especially with his inclusion of reworked tunes by both Absolva (‘Only When It’s Over’) and another of his “projects”, Fury UK (‘I See Red’).
The intention of the album is unclear: is it a vanity project, to enable Appleton to showcase his ability? Or is a mere stopgap, something to keep this musicaholic occupied while he waits for his other projects to get their acts together and return to action? Or, as it perhaps it really is, something he just wanted to do at this moment in time? Whatever the reason or logic, ‘Restless’ is a good album, and a highly rewarding one.
It does have its faults. There are moments, for example, when you feel that Appleton is actually demoing tracks for the next Absolva album: the over-worked guitar on ‘Crazyhead’ is just such an example, sounding as if he’s working out the parts on his acoustic before plugging into a Marshall stack and letting rip. However, when he sticks to the basics, this album really works: ‘No Tomorrow’, for example, is suitably bitter and acidic, while ‘How Will I Feel When You’re Gone’, despite suffering from that demo feel in its solo section, is beautifully laconic.
The instrumental title track could be described as needless wankery (and, indeed, has been by another member of the PM team), but is a solid workout which more than ably showcases Appleton’s picking skills. But, probably weirdly, it’s the covers – if you can call two out of three of them that – which stand out. ‘Only When It’s Over’ sees the singer deliver a heart-wrenching performance, while ‘I See Red’ is haunting in its simplicity and heralds the phantasmagorical final third of the album. ‘Wonders Of The World’ sees Wizz Wizzard deliver a stunning vocal performance over a sweeping synthesized backdrop, before Appleton totally rips up the script with an absolutely breath-taking version of Ozzy’s ‘Mama I’m Coming Home’.
At the end of the day, despite a few quibbles about the excessive widdly-diddly moments which (slightly) detract from some of the songs, this is an extremely worthy effort from a highly talented and dedicated young musician.
Seafarer / Crazyhead / No Tomorrow / How Will I Feel When You’re Gone / Restless / Only When It’s Over / I See Red / Wonders Of The World / Mama I’m Coming Home
Recommended listening: Mama I’m Coming Home
Chris Appleton plays the following dates:
Wednesday January 28 – Oldham, Whittles
Thursday January 29 – Manchester, Grand Central
Friday January 30 – Southport, Fox and Goose
Saturday January 31 – Wakefield, Snooty Fox
Sunday February 1 – Bury, The Towler
As previously announced, Absolva (featuring Luke Appleton) then play the following dates:
Sunday February 22 – Manchester, Sound Control
Thursday March 5 – Edinburgh, Bannermans
Friday March 6 – Dumfries, Mount Sydney
Saturday March 7 – Whitehaven, Three Tuns