Friday, October 31, 2014

ANGELS OR KINGS - Kings Of Nowhere (2014)

ANGELS OR KINGS - Kings Of Nowhere (2014) full


If ever there was an '80s British AOR that were criminally ignored by record labels, then A.O.K. fitted that bill perfectly. Founded in Manchester, England in 1988, they were made up of ex members of Sam Thunder, Circus and Strutz, to name a few, and tore it up on Oxford Road – Manchester’s answer to Sunset Strip – playing the Banshee and Rockworld and as opener in larger venues for Dare and Danger Danger.
After 30 years this superb band pull it out of the fire. Now under the complete name ANGELS OR KINGS, the band is releasing "Kings Of Nowhere", their debut CD on AOR Heaven Records.

Like a fine wine or single malt whisky, "Kings Of Nowhere" has been worth wait.
A fault with many of the modern AOR/ Melodic Rock bands is writing to a formula, and they try to make every song an anthem. There's nowt wrong with this, but AOK are old-school and their craft comes from a time when some of the greats put great time and effort into their writing.
Think of some of your favourite bands – Journey, Giant, & Giuffria from the past and the newer age such as HEAT, Vega, Eclipse; well Angels or Kings ride this AOR train hot on the coat tails of these luminaries past and present.

Opener "Any Other Girl" is a song that just slaps you around the face and deserves to be heard by the masses. After just one listen I guarantee that you’ll be humming and singing into your hairbrush (if you still have hair) along with lead vocalist Baz Jackson, making 5-part harmonies, and begging for more.
"Ice Turned To Rain" is a song that would be a huge in in '80s FM Radio America. Come to think of it, the last time I was there, they still think its 1988. "Real Life" is the type of song the likes of Overland's FM tried to write in the early 90s – it’s a blood and guts, fire and brimstone epic number.

Then "Same Star" just oozes melodic class. Halfway through and I just feel as if I have have run out of superlatives to describe this crackin' slab of lovliness!
"Left In Love" has yet another singalong chorus and again keeps the Angels Or Kings momentum up high. Keyboards galore feature high on the 'AOK Jonathan Cain scale' and they definitely add to the quality, with "Another Lost Boy" being a prime example. "If Her Tears Could Talk" and title track "Kings Of Nowhere" keep the album strong right to the bitter end.

ANGELS OR KINGS - Kings Of Nowhere (2014) back cover

Angels Or Kings play pure, I mean PURE, '80s AOR / Melodic Rock.
If you love this genre and love well crafted little nuggets of gold, then look no further than "Kings Of Nowhere", easily among the best AOR albums of 2014 (and I dare to say the decade).
Superb songs, excellent production, classy playin' n' singin'... you'll will love this.
An album that if released in 1988 would be a classic these days... well, never it's too late, "Kings Of Nowhere" is destined to be a classic in years to come.

01 - Any Other Girl
02 - A Harder Place
03 - Ice Turned To Rain
04 - Real Life
05 - Same Star
06 - Someone To Save Me
07 - Left Me In Love
08 - A Night Like This
09 - Another Lost Boy
10 - Same Old Love
11 - If Her Tears Would Talk
12 - Kings Of Nowhere

Baz Jackson – Vocals
Tony Bell – Guitars
Rob Naylor – Bass
Steve Kenny – Guitars, Keyboards
Andy Chemmey – Drums
thanx to aorwxm



Thursday, October 30, 2014

FISH ON FRIDAY - Godspeed (2014)

FISH ON FRIDAY - Godspeed (2014) full


FISH ON FRIDAY is a relatively new Belgian ensemble which are about to released their third album "Godspeed". The band already established themselves as an adventurous Rock&pop / Progressive act with their previous CD, but I have to say that "Godspeed" it is the culmination of a wonderful process where Fish On Friday have reached its prime.
Simply put, this album is beautiful.

Inspired by classic The Alan Parsons Project, Fish On Friday is a band that incorporates the best elements of pop and progressive rock, creating a sound both clever and catchy. "Godspeed" sees mastermind Frank Van Bogaert and his partners developing in full their experience and maturity.
Fish on Friday's sound is ultra melodic and maybe too light for prog standards, but the songwriting's smart and the musicianship is top notch.
Who could plausibly ask for more in a pop-prog crossover?

FISH ON FRIDAY - Godspeed (2014) inside

Justifiably, Fish On Friday have generated comparisons to The Alan Parsons Project, not only musically but also in terms of it being a producer / engineer-led project. And I love it.
The core here is multi-instrumentalist and producer Frank Van Bogaert together with keyboardist / orchestrator William Beckers both writing the songs, but they have a terrific bunch of musicians behind.
There's super talented Nick Beggs (of Steve Hackett, Steven Wilson, Rick Wakeman fame) on bass, Chapman stick and providing some awesome harmony / backing vocals, and the ever-busy Theo Travis providing great winds, among others.

On this new CD "Godspeed", The Alan Parsons Project trend continues most notably on compositions like "Radio" and "Stay", which recall the Parsons album Pyramid.
There's also a hint of '80s Yes that pops up during the album. Yet, it's not all about recreating the triumphs of these famous bands, and "Ghost Song" is almost Steven Wilson-esque in stature.
We have as well countless original twists on "Sanctuary" and "Tick-Tock" confirming that Fish On Friday possesses a readily identifiable sound.

"Godspeed" has a strong sense of diversity to it. Each song is generally different from the one that came before, yet always rich in melodies based around a concise structure, plenty of soulful guitar leads, ambient atmosphere and subtle vocal effects all tossed into the mix.

FISH ON FRIDAY - Godspeed (2014) back cover

If you miss (like me) your classic The Alan Parsons Project, there's something to quench your thirst: Fish On Friday.
I can't recommend you "Godspeed" enough: it's a wonderful record combining the best of the elaborated pop with light progressive arrangements to make it more interesting, all played and arranged to detail.
Fish On Friday have a solid depth to their sound, but as a rock&pop record, the key is in the immediate enjoyment, and this is something "Godspeed" succeeds in wholeheartedly.
Of course production is one of the stars here: pristine, crystal clear, multi-dimensional, crisp... yes, Alan Parsons would be proud of it.
On "Godspeed" Fish On Friday have managed to make something enjoyable and intelligent, an outstanding, articulate and impeccably presented album.

01 - Godspeed
02 - Just a Nightmare
03 - She Colours the Rainbow
04 - Callin' Planet Home
05 - Ghost Song
06 - Radio
07 - Sanctuary
08 - Stay
09 - Don't Love Me to Death
10 - Tick-Tock
11 - My Dog

William Beckers - keyboards, percussion
Frank Van Bogaert - keyboards, vocals, backing vocals, additional guitars
Nick Beggs - bass, Chapman stick, backing vocals
Marty Townsend - guitars
Theo Travis - saxophone, flute
Marcus Weymaere - drums, percussion



SPIDERS - Shake Electric (2014)

SPIDERS - Shake Electric (2014) full bonus


Hailing - of course - from Sweden (the land of the good Rock 'n Roll nowadays), the four piece band known as SPIDERS are set to unveil today, October 29, their sophomore CD, "Shake Electric".
I never heard this female fronted combo featuring Ann-Sofie Hoyles (vocals), John Hoyles (guitar), Olle Griphammar (bass) and Ricard Harryson (drums), but I am glad I did it, because they seriously Rock.

And Spiders rocks with authenticity, the first factor that sets them apart from the many 'plastic' revival acts appeared recently.
Yes, Spiders play old-fashioned, unironic, long haired, leather jacket wearing, in-your-face rock & roll, inspired by classic '70s hard rock, injected with a modern twist.
"Shake Electric" heavy licks and bold female vocals will draw immediate comparisons to early Heart and Joan Jett - but Spiders has an undefinable Scandinavian quality that made them sound so unique.

SPIDERS - Shake Electric (2014) inside

This is pretty infectious stuff, with crisp rockers like "Lonely Nights", "Mad Dog", and "Back on the Streets" sporting direct, valvular riffs and swaggerin' choruses.
Ann-Sofie's vocals are quite powerful, as she soars over the meaty guitar riffs of Hoyles on the catchy "Control" and delivers some dreamy, emotional lines on the bluesy "Hard Times".
Though most of the songs are fairly short, the 4+ minute "War of the World" lets the band stretch out a bit, as this blistering hard rocker grabs you by the throat with some killer '70s styled riffs, pounding rhythms, and dynamic vocals.
"Bleeding Heart" has some cool riffs and a hook laden chorus that reminds of early KISS, and the fun title track grooves and thumps with a retro feel but extremely cool.

"Shake Electric" is proof that Spiders are a band ready to take the world by storm, and have delivered here a really enjoyable set of classic styled hard rock songs that any lover of vintage sounds will certainly find plenty of appeal in.
A band to watch... closely.
Quite Recommended.

01 - Mad Dog
02 - Shake Electric
03 - Bleeding Heart
04 - Only Your Skin
05 - Lonely Nights
06 - Back On The Streets
07 - Control
08 - Give Up The Fight
09 - Hard Times
10 - War Of The World
11 - Loss & Trouble [free with purchase]
12 - Weekend Nights [free with purchase]
13 - Hard To Keep True [free with purchase]
14 - Rules Of The Game [free with purchase]

Ann-Sofie Hoyles – vocals
John Hoyles – guitar
Olle Griphammar – bass
Ricard Harryson – drums



LORDI - Scare Force One (2014)

LORDI - Scare Force One (2014) full


Who would you expect to meet if you were up in the cold far north above the Arctic Circle? Santa Claus? Well maybe. Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland is one such place and there you are far more likely to encounter a monster or two, rock 'n' roll monsters that is, as the chilly location is the home stomping grounds of kisch metal monster band LORDI.
And right now Lordi has something in common with St. Nick; they've given their fans a gift in the form of new album "Scare Force One", to be released, of course, tomorrow Oct 31, that is; Halloween.
Oh yeah. Lordi may come from Finland, but they have their minds focused in America.

I always thought about Lordi as a masquerade, as a fun act though I did not like their music.
Well, with "Scare Force One" they sound 'less metal' and 'less grunt' than never before.
As said, Lordi has its mind pointed to the US market: album title, day of release (Halloween), a paraphernalia of merchandising - the album will be released in various packages with toys, etc - and... the music.
Yes, Lordi's music has changed.

LORDI - Scare Force One (2014) inside

And that's why we are presenting "Scare Force One" on this blog.
Lordi's music now is inoffensive 'horror metal'. I would call it 'comic metal', as one package will feature an illustrated magazine with the lyrics.
This reminds you something? ... yeah, Kiss did it 35 years ago. Yes, Lordi is being handled and marketed to the American audience to be the 21st century Kiss.
Their excellent make-up does not scare nobody, on the contrary, it's the perfect product to sell in this Halloween.

And the music? Well, the title "How To Slice A Whore" may offense many, but musically this track is a commercial rock song with easy riffs, keyboards all over and a catchy chorus.
The carousel melody of "Hell Sent In The Clowns" is fun as hell, with a singable chorus by a 5-year kid. This has a potential (done intentionally) to reach a wide audience.
There's a couple of heavy numbers for the old fans, but this new Lordi is almost melodic rock... just listen "Cadaver Lover" and then tell me. Yes, this is late '80s Alice Cooper.

At this point, Lordi is some kind of fun stuff, a 'comic culture product'.
And now, their music on "Scare Force One" is highly digestable, even with melody and catchy choruses. The Kiss of the new century.
At your record store this Halloween. Trick or Treat.

01. SCG7: Arm Your Doors And Cross Check
02. Scare Force One
03. How To Slice A Whore
04. Hell Sent In The Clowns
05. House Of Ghosts
06. Monster Is My Name
07. Cadaver Lover
08. Amen’s Lament To Ra II
09. Nailed By The Hammer Of Frankenstein
10. The United Rocking Dead
11. She’s A Demon
12. Hella’s Kitchen
13. Sir, Mr. Presideath, Sir

Mr. Lordi – Lead Vocals
Amen – Guitar, Vocals
OX – Bass, Vocals
Hella – Keyboards, Vocals
Mana – Drums, Vocals



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

STRATTMAN - The Lie Of The Beholder (2014)

STRATTMAN - The Lie Of The Beholder (2014) full


Roy STRATTMAN is a multi-instrumentalist / composer from the US and this is his debut release entitled "The Lie Of The Beholder". I did think that I had come across the name before, and with a little searching, I realized that Roy is the guitarist and joint composer in the interesting Prog band Little Atlas.
The record label describes Roy’s music as 'a tour-de-force of cutting edge progressive rock, complex tense and shot through with dark and menacing textures alternating with unexpected stabs of beauty and organic calm'.
Well, let's see...

Although "The Lie Of The Beholder" is a solo album, Roy, who plays guitar, keyboards and sings, did have a little help along the way. The album also features awesome drummer Nick D’Virgilio from Big Big Train and lots more, Ricardo Bigai from Little Atlas on bass, together with a guest appearance from Steve Katsikas, also from Little Atlas.
Now Strattman is a full, stable band performing at various Prog festivals.

STRATTMAN - The Lie Of The Beholder (2014) booklet

Opening tracks on any album have a tremendous job to do, in that they pave the way for the rest of the record, so how does “A Better World” fare? The track starts with some Spanish style guitar, the atmosphere changes via a spacey section with 'astronaut' voices then the track explodes a la IQ before settling back into more delicate late '80s Floyd style areas. This is both a hard hitting track and a laid back track neatly packaged. Synths, mellotron and urgent/angry guitar slashes permeate around a very Gilmouresque vocal section.
“A Better World” is an opening track that that promises the listener that they are about to hear an amazing album.

“Caught Inside the Rain” is more psychedelically styled and contrasts the opening track beautifully. More mellotron and those urgent/menacing guitar riffs drive the third track, “A Candle in the Sun” which is a hugely atmospheric slab of a track effortlessly shifting from the gentler to the more urgent areas.
Two shorter, out and out rockier tracks follow in “Jaded” and “The Scene of the Crime” before another shift in direction raises its head in “Detonation”. A very gentle introduction belies the ruthless assault that is impending. Terrific guitar over keyboards suddenly ascends vertically into a heavy workout for the band. A beautiful vocal settles the proceedings down, but the darker side bubbles away in the background before reappearing. This is an imaginative track that sweeps in and out of the dark and light areas.
Almost right on cue, there is another diverse move in the music into the acoustic “Solace” which highlights nylon string guitar and flute / mellotron. This is a very melodic track which stands apart from the rest, simply because it is so different.

STRATTMAN - The Lie Of The Beholder (2014) inside

Next we have the title track “The Lie of the Beholder” and we have re-entered the more menacing side of Strattman, before a more gentle outro passage which seems to end very abruptly, but as the following song is “Connection Lost”, perhaps it is an attempt at some wry humor.
The penultimate track, “No Way Home” is accessed via a beautiful acoustic / electric guitar passage, great vocals, and just after the minute mark, an elevation of the sound before a return to the intro themes. Another step into the rougher side of Strattman, then slides back into the gentle phases and wheels back and forth. This track is another example of a powerful piece of writing and playing.
A very mellow, almost understated track, “The Fire Dies” sees the album out. Slower and certainly catchy, this is perhaps an unexpected ending to the record, but one which seems to work in all sorts of ways. This track seems to wrap the album up in such a way, that you want to reach out and press play again and settle back for another run-through.

STRATTMAN - The Lie Of The Beholder (2014) back cover

"The Lie of the Beholder", which seamlessly moves from light into shade and tranquil into heavy, shows the incredibly talents of Roy Strattman. The man is a terrific performer, composer and arranger, and as if this were not enough, he sings greatly.
It mixes progressive elements with sharp hard rock riffs, wonderful keyboards / mellotron with exquisite drumming, all wrapped in a 'Rock' context that will appeal everyone.
"The Lie Of The Beholder" is an album that gets inside your head within a few listens and certainly merits both the 'One to Buy' and 'The Experience will last Forever' stickers on the cover.
Don't be fooled by the odd cover artwork, the advice is to give the album a few listens and then smile happily as you part with some of your hard earned cash without any regrets.
Highly Recommended.

01 - A Better World
02 - Caught Inside The Rain
03 - A Candle In The Sun
04 - Jaded
05 - The Scene Of The Crime
06 - Detonation
07 - Solace
08 - The Lie Of The Beholder
09 - Connection Lost
10 - No Way Home
11 - The Fire Dies

Roy Strattman - vocals, guitar, keyboards
Nick D’Virgilio (Big Big Train, Spocks Beard) - drums
Ricardo Bigai (Little Atlas, Supersam) - bass
Steve Katsikas (Little Atlas) - piano, percussion
thanks to Jim Lawson



KISS - Revenge [remastered SHM-CD] (2013)

KISS - Revenge [remastered SHM-CD] (2013) full HQ

* HQ

With the recent release of KISS Love Gun Deluxe Edition, many of you have asked our impression about the Japanese, high-fidelity SHM-CD format remastered version of "Revenge" appeared last year.
Well, this remaster sounds million bucks. It's much, much deeper on the low frequencies, the mid-spectre is clearer and it posesses a great dynamic range.
Also, it's being sold pretty cheap.

KISS - Revenge [remastered SHM-CD] (2013) booklet

"Revenge" is one of my favorite KISS albums. The Bob Ezrin-produced record pulled the band out of the second creative slump of their career. In addition, Simmons & Co. also hired marketing consultants to find out what fans wanted from the group.
The result was probably the most mature album KISS ever did musically. Great guitar work, pounding drums, very good vocal arrangements and solid songs.

KISS - Revenge [remastered SHM-CD] (2013) back cover

Edgy, sharp, "Revenge" is the most pure Hard Rock album from KISS' career.
Very Recommended in your collection.

Universal Japan ~ UICY-25374

01 - Unholy
02 - Take It Off
03 - Tough Love
04 - Spit
05 - God Gave Rock 'N' Roll To You II
06 - Domino
07 - Heart Of Chrome
08 - Thou Shalt Not
09 - Every Time I Look At You
10 - Paralyzed
11 - I Just Wanna
12 - Carr Jam 1981

Paul Stanley - rhythm guitar, vocals
Gene Simmons - bass, vocals (rhythm guitar on "Domino")
Eric Carr - backing vocals, drums on "Carr Jam 1981"
Bruce Kulick - lead guitar, backing vocals
Eric Singer - drums, backing vocals
Additional personnel:
Dick Wagner - guitar solo on "Every Time I Look at You"
Kevin Valentine - drums on "Take It Off"
Tommy Thayer - backing vocals
Jesse Damon - backing vocals



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

BULLETBOYS - ST [Rock Candy remaster] (2014)

BULLETBOYS - ST [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) front


One of the most fun, cool acts emerged from the Californian scene during the second half of the '80s was without a doubt BULLETBOYS and their self-titled debut album, now freshly remastered by Rock Candy Records.

There is no getting away from it, Los Angeles in the late Eighties was ground zero for hard rock and hair metal. The Sunset Strip was home to literally hundreds of up and coming acts, all desperate to place their stake in the ground and climb the ladder to a bigger and better future.
One such act was the BulletBoys, a lean and mean rocking machine who’s melodic yet raw sensibilities set them apart from the competition by a country mile. However, although the band’s upward trajectory was a veritable rocket powered climb, it hadn’t always been that way for the individual members.
Guitarist Mick Sweda had been in lauded but poorly performing rockers King Kobra and towards the end that band’s existence it also featured bassist Lonnie Vencent and vocalist Marq Torien.

It was these three renegades that jumped ship to form the BulletBoys. With shrewd management and a desire to impress, the band stayed away from the LA clubs and concentrated on rehearsing and writing songs, a plan that paid handsome dividends when Warner Brothers records, and, in particular, their head of A&R legendary producer Ted Templeman (Van Halen, Montrose), jumped at the chance to sign them.
With Ted in the production seat, their self-titled debut album quickly attained gold certification harboured a string of energy infused tracks that still sound great today.

BULLETBOYS - ST [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) back

"Hard As A Rock", "F#9" and of course "Smooth Up In Ya" are my all-time favorites, but this album Rocks from start to finish, no weak song in sight.
This Rock Candy remaster is bright and clear, and a Highly Recommended addition to your collection.

01 - Hard As A Rock
02 - Smooth Up In Ya
03 - Owed To Joe
04 - Shoot The Preacher Down
05 - For The Love Of Money
06 - Kissin' Kitty
07 - Hell On My Heels
08 - Crank Me Up
09 - Badlands
10 - F#9

Marq Torien - vocals
Mick Sweda - guitar, backing vocals
Lonnie Vencent - bass, backing vocals
Jimmy D'Anda - drums



MOTT (The Hoople) - Shouting & Pointing [Rock Candy remaster] (2014)

MOTT (The Hoople) - Shouting & Pointing [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) full


There is no doubt that MOTT (The Hoople) were one of the most influential British rock bands of the '70s. Just to name one, Def Leppard's Joe Elliott has a cover band honoring Mott and his other project Down 'n' Outz is inspired in Mott The Hoople's sound.
Rock Candy Records has remastered a couple of MOTT albums, a grest opportunity to re-discover this influential band.

When Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson quit Mott The Hoople in late 1974, many thought that the band would become just another fondly remembered and well respected entry in the history of rock. Few would have gambled on the remaining band members rising up, dusting themselves down and getting back in the ring ready to fight another day.
Re-tooled under the newly abbreviated moniker of Mott, the band recruited guitarist Ray Major and super talented yet unknown vocalist Nigel Benjamin, releasing ‘Drive On’, one of the most impressive albums of from the mid-seventies.
Finding support at all levels, the band reconvened for the follow up album "Shouting & Pointing", a far more panoramic record which took the original Mott The Hoople blue-print, using it to their advantage, increasing the energy level and constructing songs that utilized ambitious arrangements.

Nigel Benjamin was a real find, a man seemingly without any vocal ceiling who was also a great frontman. Produced by studio legend Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin) at the Manor studios in Oxfordshire and mixed by the equally esteemed Bill Price (Sex Pistols, Guns ‘N Roses) the material in "Shouting & Pointing" is both challenging and commercially addictive.
Songs such as ‘Collision Course’, ‘Storm’ and ‘Hold On You’re Crazy’ rock the house but its ‘Career (No Such Thing As Rock And Roll)’ and the title track that construct a vivid picture of the band’s grandiose ambitions.

MOTT (The Hoople) - Shouting & Pointing [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) back cover

It's very nice to see this - for many - forgotten band resurrected is a remastered form.
Rock Candy has reissued ‘Drive On’ as well, but this "Shouting & Pointing" is the one to keep in my opinion, always has been my favorite Mott The Hopple album.

01 - Shouting And Pointing
02 - Collision Course
03 - Storm
04 - Career (No Such Thing As Rock 'N' Roll)
05 - Hold On, You're Crazy
06 - See You Again
07 - Too Short Arms (I Don't Care)
08 - Broadside Outcasts
09 - Good Times
10 - Too Short Arms (I Don't Care) [Remix] (bonus track)

Lead Vocals – Nigel Benjamin
Guitar, Vocals – Ray Major
Keyboards, Vocals – Morgan Fisher
Bass, Vocals – Overend Watts
Drums – Dale Griffin ("Buffin")



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