Hailing from St. Petersburg, Russia, and formed only three years ago, REDS'COOL have just released their second album "Bad Story", made gigs with Glenn Huges, Royal Hunt and Gotthard to name some, played at various festivals and currently are touring Europe supporting Black Star Riders.
Not bad eh? They must have 'something'.
And indeed, Reds'Cool are great in what they do; classic hard rock with various melodic rock & AOR elements. Certainly, these guys love the '80s and they pay their respects to it through their music since they’re influenced by acts like Whitesnake, Tangier, House of Lords, Burning Rain, Firehouse and so on. But of course, they have added several contemporary passages to the songs and their sound is very fresh and crispy.
What helps make Reds'Cool stand out amongst the current glut of classic rock inspired acts is the extremely talented musicians in the band who have crafted some intriguing and captivating musical moments on this record.
This quintet tries to breathe some fresh air on the style and they got some pretty good results with fine vocal hooks, guitars too catchy in riffs and solos with good harmonies, bass and drums weighting a lot with strong assembling, spicing the whole thing with well placed keyboards. Oh yes, and have catchy choruses on all songs.
Just listen the amazing and old-fashioned rocking opening tune of "Bite", the kickin' hard rock of "Hey You", or the roof-raise title track and "Fooling Myself", all energetic arena-ready numbers.
Songs like the solid ballad "Confession" with a cracking chorus which really grabs your attention, the midtempo "Love And Pain" - bringing to mind something in the same vein of Whitesnake '87, or the accenting keyboards and clean melodic vocal lines of "You Must Go" and "Feel You" have airy sway of traditional AOR, with the latter song pumping energetic blusters within the steady groove.
Sometimes, there are bands that really can astonish us all even doing nothing new, but delivering their music with that 'special touch'. Reds'Cool are one of them.
First of all, don't let the band’s country of origin hold you back, these guys sound far better than many US or EU acts and their songs and musicianship are first rate.
Additionally, "Bad Story" is benefited by the awesome production, mix and mastering by the notable Michael Wagener (Dokken, Motley Crue, Great White, Alice Cooper, et all), who, when gets the necessary budget, can do magic behind the desk.
Somebody is investing big bucks on this band, and I can hear why. Reds'Cool is great, and if well managed, they are destined to stardom.
If polished, crisp, catchy classic hard rock / melodic rock / rockin' AOR is your thing, don't miss Reds'Cool's "Bad Story", it's a fantastic slice of quality music regarding these genres.
01 - Bite
02 - Hey You
03 - Confession
04 - Love & Pain
05 - Feel You
06 - Upside Down
07 - You Must Go
08 - Fooling Myself
09 - Bad Story
Roman – Vocals
Ilija – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Sergei – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Alex – Bass, Backing Vocals
Andre – Drums
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Thursday, December 19, 2013
SKEEM is a marvellous combo arriving from France. Commanded by singer, guitarist and keyboard player Serge Barbaro, in 2001 Skeem presented itself via a self-titled debut with limited distribution.
And now, 12 years later, there's suddenly a new album entitled "... Just Suggesting", and it's a double, no less.
Skeem is pure Neo Prog in the best definition of the genre, that is: easy melodies, very melodic, plenty of keyboards and not afraid to catchiness.
"... Just Suggesting" is full of instantly likeable melodic lines, ear-candy songs, benefited by very a transparent and open production.
All the lyrics are in English, sung by Barbaro with a warm approach and more importantly in an understandable fashion. The guitar work is first rate, delicate at places, mixed with well thought synthesizers and a competent steady drum beat.
Skeem's brand of neo progressive rock has a definite European Prog sound similar to late '80s Marillion and Jadis in style, with leanings towards Melodic Hard Rock / AOR at times, akin Saga, Asia, with commercial Rush waves.
Despite its length - you have two discs here and more than one and half hour of music - "... Just Suggesting" flows wonderfully. In fact, I can't stop listening this fabulous release.
I won't spread any further comments about this gorgeous little gem.
If your like your light, neo prog spiced with AORish melodies, or the other way around, your AOR / Melodic Rock with more elaborated substance and diversity, you can't miss "... Just Suggesting".
Super Highly Recommended.
Disc 1 :
1. The Grand Scheme
2. All We Are
3. Gone Away Muse
4. Half a Life
5. Last Days
6. Drowned Dreams
7. The Journey Within
8. The Perfect Truth
Disc 2 :
1. The Hidden Path
2. Book of Shadows
4. The End Complete
5. Naked Lies
6. The Power of Angels
7. The Grand Scheme Resumption
Serge Barbaro: Lead & Backing Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Jonathan Lattore: Bass
Joe Massot: Drums
Berny Barbaro: Keyboards & Arrangements
Pierre Teodori: Acoustic Guitars, Violin, Fretless Bass
Jessica Passarin, Oreema, John Cobalt: Backing vocals
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013
This year has seen the rise of very good bands from Switzerland, and we need to add to the lot BLACK DIAMONDS with their great debut CD "Perfect Sin".
It's a recording that's hard wired into Europe’s modern Melodic Hard Rock zeitgeist with a touch of glam, plushly fitted out with compact choruses, memorably melodic hooks and a driving, urgent tempo to many of the songs.
At times Black Diamonds' hair sprayed melodic rock will remind you of Reckless Love and the criminally underrated Dynazty, while at others of the guitar-driven yet polished hard rock from late eighties California.
There's an astonishing powerful Pretty Maids-inspired opener in "Judgement Day", a catchy radio friendly tune on "I'll Be OK"- which I think the best track here, the euphoric "'We Want To Party" that's suitable to be your Friday night soundtrack, or the spectacular party-vibe hard rock piece of "Somebody Put Something In My Drink".
Title track is a stadium-ready anthem very melodic and bouncy, then the dynamic "Read My Lips" and "Hands Of Destiny" offers some riffage taken from the Sunset Strip.
On the slower musical side I really enjoyed the solid midtempo "Take My Life" with a strong Cinderella smell, the lighters in the air "Hold On" and the acoustically filled closer "A Thousand Roses".
What's often most interesting on Black Diamonds' recipe are the arrangements, where the band frequently use a tried and tested trick – when the tempo of the song drops, the lead guitar picks up the pace, spluttering tunefully all over the chorus like a Chinese firework, or simply going solo, lighting up the darkness with measured bolts of axework lightning.
Despite the 'sound likes' comments here, the Black Diamonds genuinely seem ready to shake off any obvious comparisons. Musicianship level is very good, I admire the precise guitar riffs and Mich also has a very unique vocal timbre.
Another high point on "Perfect Sin" is the flawless production value for an indie. Everything sounds clear and crisp.
But also the superb, determinant mix by Swedish maestro Tobias Lindell (Europe, Crashdiet, Hardcore Superstar) who has added a studio sheen of sophistication to the band's high calibre production and musicianship, and in places, some high quality songwriting.
Black Diamonds is a band to watch in near future, they are really, really good.
01 - The Court
02 - Judgement Day
03 - Shot Of Love
04 - I'll Be Ok
05 - Take My Life
06 - Hell Boys
07 - Perfect Sin
08 - Hold On
09 - Read My Lips
10 - We Want To Party
11 - Hands Of Destiny
12 - Evil Seeds
13 - Up All Night
14 - Somebody Put Something In My Drink
15 - A Thousand Roses
Mich - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Andi - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Bernie - Bass, Backing Vocals
Manu - Drums, Backing Vocals
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As many other indie artists, US melodic rocker JOHNNY LIMA started a crowd funding campaign to help finance his brand new album "My Revolution" to be released in 2014. Those that helped fund the new record, will not only get it before anyone else, they'll also get more songs than the official release, intended to include 10-11 songs from this advanced Limited Edition only available through this campaign.
How long we've been waiting for this album? It must have been up to five years, because back in 2009 the Californian rocker released his latest record 'Livin' Out Loud'.
I think there are too many people out there who don't know anything about this talented musician, songwriter and producer. Johnny Lima writes songs in the vein of Bon Jovi and Def Leppard with tons of big hooks (and I mean really BIG hooks), amazing harmonies and great choruses.
Since 2009 he also adds some kind of Mötley Crüe influences to his songwriting, which gives him a more rockin' sound. But it's not just the music, even his voice reminds you very often at '80s Jon Bon Jovi, which is a blessing and a curse, I think. I remember one situation where songs from Johnny ended up on Youtube and everyone thought it would be songmaterial from the New Jersey rockers.
But I must say over the years Johnny's voice changed a bit and he gives each song an own note now. So it would be superficial to call him a Bon Jovi-clone.
Lima breathes pure Melodic Rock ... and the good thing is: that hasn't changed on his new album "My Revolution". Every fan of Johnny Lima gets what he loves about this man.
The album kicks off with the title track "My Revolution" - a pounding rocker which sounds quiet epic at the beginning. A great start for the album with a huge chorus. The following songs "Happily Ever After You" and "You're The Drug I Wanna Get High On" (feat. Julian Angel on lead guitar) can hold that high level very easy.
When the fourth track "Fill You Up" starts we have some something new. Johnny experimented here with some electronic sounds, quite different from his regular formula, and results quite well if you ask me.
Next, "Blame It On Love" is highlight. A full-blooded melodic rocker just screaming 'hit'. In a perfect world, this cut should be played on all rock radio stations.
And then we have the first ballad; "I Can't Love You Anymore" - and this is another winner. On Lima's previous album I missed the big old-fashioned power ballads, but here we find one of the best I've heard from Johnny's pen. The chorus is pure magic.
With two amazing hits in a row the next track "Tell Me Lies" has some problems to convince me. It's also a good one, but compared to the others it sounds a bit generic.
But so what? The next amazing tracks are on the way. That includes the enjoyable "I Couldn't Be The One", the very melodic "Nowhere Left To Go" (with great guitar fills in the beginning) and the rockin' "Dirty Girls".
On the latter I even hear some Steel Panther influences with a cool glammy hook, which is followed by another anthem: "Show Them Who You Are".
That seems to be the official part of the album, to be pressed on CD and released in 2014, but this Limited Edition offers more to enjoy...
The first 'bonus track' is the dreamy ballad "Into The Light" and believe me: you won't miss this song! It's one of the best on the record. Every lover of pure melodic rock music will cry tears of joy. Amazing tune.
"Deeper Into You" leaves also a smile on my face and makes me sing-along. Johnny has the talent to write earworms on the assembly line. Don't know where he gets this great melodies from.
Next song "Maybe You're Right, Maybe It's Wrong" is a calm piano-ballad, where Johnny's voice is the star. He has grown in his mid-range register, coming out more mature and warm.
The Limited Edition closes with another gem: "Naturally Beautiful" chock full of Melodic Rock bliss with another outstanding riff / chorus.
"My Revolution" stays true to Johnny Lima's pedigree: Melodic Rock from the heart.
What I really liked on this new record is the return of Lima's '80s / '90s catchiness on many tracks, balanced with the more hard rockin' groovy songs from his new millennium era. So both groups of fans are served with this album.
Production-wise everything sounds very clear and enjoyable, putting the right spot of brightness required for a modern Melodic Rock record. Johnny Lima always delivered high quality work when it comes to production and "My Revolution" is no exception. The musicianship is also excellent, hot and tight.
If you are looking for a 'real' Melodic Rock album you just have to buy "My Revolution" when it's out. Support this really good artist. You won't regret it.
01 - My Revolution
02 - Happily Ever After You
03 - You're The Drug I Wanna Get High On
04 - Fill You Up
05 - Blame It On Love
06 - I Cant Love You Any More
07 - Tell Me Lies
08 - Couldn't Be The One
09 - Nowhere Left To Go
10 - Dirty Girls
11 - Show Them Who You Are
12 - Into The Light
13 - Deeper Into You
14 - Maybe You're Right, Maybe It's Wrong
15 - Naturally Beautiful
Johnny Lima - lead & backing vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards
Pete McCallum, Ryan Freeman - guitar
Julian Angel - guest guitar solos
Jack Grossman - bass
Danni Theodosis - keyboards
Bernie Diaz - drums
thanks to Thomas Schwarzkopf
Release Date TBA
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Determined to win or die with the boots on, US rockers LYNAM are releasing the new EP "Halfway To Hell".
Lynam is a strange band; not only hails from an unusual State for rock 'n roll (Alabama), they're also fighting in the independent modern rock chart for more than 15 years insisting on imposing their '80s glammy look and feel. Just check their apparel... you need to have a strong personality to wear that spandex stuff nowadays.
Musically, Lynam is a different beast as well talking about modern rock: their songs are embedded with a steady dose of late eighties elements. Their previous albums were not bad at all, yet not exactly my cup of tea.
My opinion has changed with "Halfway To Hell".
In 2001 singer and guitarist Jacob Bunton, following the demise of his previous band, Mars Electric, hooked up with drummer David Lynam, taking the sticksman's surname as the new Alabama outfit's moniker. Between 2002 and 2004 Lynam self-released three albums, but it was in '08 with 'Tragic City Symphony' that found the band on the receiving end of some pretty commendable press, sales and attention. However, they sounded too 'washed' modern rock to me.
Then frontman Jacob Bunton joined up with ex- Guns 'N Roses drummer Steven Adler to form the band ADLER, recording the very good CD 'Back From The Dead' (posted here)
But Bunton soon returned to Lynam, bringing the quite good guitarist Lonny Paul with him, and, with a raised profile, looks set to really rattle some cages with this brand new EP "Halfway To Hell".
With bassist Mark Dzier also returning (he left the band for few years), "Halfway To Hell" harnesses the sound of a band that finally appears to have settled into a heavier, sleazier groove that suits it well. Gone are the insipid modern radio oriented tunes of the previous albums, this Lynam 2013 rocks. And rocks very good.
Now, the unattractive sonics of the past are replaced by fat riffs and a badass rockin' attitude, and while the modern rock leanings are still present, those are more in Velvet Revolver-shaped agression to name a reference, but highly inspired by late eighties / earlier nineties choruses and patterns in the vein of Lynch Mob, BulletBoys, Bang Tango, etc.
The first 3 tracks clock around the 2:45 minute mark, giving you the idea that Lynam wants to rock you straight to the point.
Opener "Rise Up" rides in on a stadium-sized riff - from the days when stadiums echoed with the sounds of great rock bands, of course, not today's sanitised drivel. Gang backing vocals, a monster groove and a killer guitar solo are the motto here. Great rocker.
The EP's title track follows and, moulded around another memorable piece of guitar work and melody, is a perfect amalgam of those bands who tried to keep the cock rock boat afloat, and those bands that try to bring back the 'real' rock to modern radio.
"Dead Man's Parade" offers, possibly, a lyrical tip of the hat to those happier to get wasted than adored, fusing a cool hook to a darker, broodier aesthetic ala Sixx:A.M. but much more melodic, before "Cold" takes that blueprint even further, with a whiff of an eighties sound popping out of the darkness every now and then to shine.
"Store Bought Halo" is the bonafide ass-kicker on offer here only on 1:50 minutes; high octane guitar mixing with skyscraping vocals to devastating effect, the 'na-na-nah' backing vocals icing on the cake that you'll do well, upon listening, to not gorge yourself on until you're sick.
EP closer "Wrong Side Of The Grave" has a melodic Bunton doing some swagger on a song that rips it out with a massive riff and gorgeous hook, blasting drums and those modern-day Def Leppard backing vocals that the band appeared obsessed with on their last record finally making an appearance, this time only adding to rather than distracting from the listening experience.
Never heard of Lynam? Start with "Halfway To Hell". Wash the preconceptions right out of your head this month with the timely purchase of this EP.
Call it modern cock rock, call it updated '80s street hard rock, call it what you like, but if you dig a band trying to bring 'real rock' to mainstream modern rock listeners and wake up radio stations, this Lynam 2013 will impress the hell out of you.
1 - Rise Up
2 - Halfway To Hell
3 - Dead Man's Parade
4 - Cold
5 - Store Bought Halo
6 - Wrong Side Of The Grave
Jacob Bunton (lead vocals, guitar)
David Lynam (drums, vocals)
Cody Elliott (bass, vocals)
Lonny Paul (guitar, vocals)
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UPDATED December 19
On this blog we have already presented British four-piece KILL FOR EDEN and their critically acclaimed self-titled debut album released in June. The band have decided to strike while the iron is hot presenting the new EP "Living On Mars" featuring one remixed song from the debut plus two new tunes.
The band's sound is based around lead singer Lyla D'Souza's powerful but tuneful vocals. She comes across as a little bit of a throwback to the '70s and '80s to me with a touch of soul in there, and is far from just being an out and out screamer.
This is obvious during the EP's title track where she fills in the gaps in the stop start guitar riffing with soulful wails before yelping angrily lines like "see how you like it", in a chorus aimed at the ex the song is about. The big guitar solo at the end lets the rest of the band shine too.
First of the new tunes, "The Dome", is a heavier more modern sounding affair alternating between quiet, reflective passages and frantic sections full of sharp riffs and screaming but it all hangs together pretty well with memorable vocal and guitar hooks along the way and another fine six-string solo. This song was based around Stephen King’s sci-fi thriller 'Under The Dome" and you can tell where the inspiration fell.
Final track "Shoot Me" is a groovier, more bass heavy song with Lyla's melancholy tale of heartache and sorrow on the verses leading to a big riff and a great, articulated chorus. After a few plays I found this song quite addictive and the best of the three on offer here.
If you heard and liked Kill For Eden's debut (HERE), you will be impressed as well with "Living On Mars" EP, showing a talented band with some old hard rock roots but never sounding outdated, plus a damn fine and unusual vocalist to boot.
It bodes well that the newer songs are even stronger, which means Kill For Eden are in permanent evolution. If you are into the likes of Halestorm or are an old rocker who yearns for the halcyon days of Joanna Dean and Chrissy Steele then this is a band that are definitely worth checking out.
1 - Living On Mars (new mix)
2 - The Dome
3 - Shoot Me
Lyla D'Souza - Vocals
Dave Garfield - Guitars
Andrea Basiola - Guitars
Mike McGuiness - Bass
Wally MMiroshnikov - Drums
thanks to Ian Sutherland
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Monday, December 16, 2013
NOW OR NEVER is a new international combo whose self titled debut album has just been released in Europe and Asia, and will be out on the streets in mid-January 2014 in North America via Mausoleum Records.
Now Or Never was founded last year by Danish guitarist Ricky Marx (ex-Pretty Maids) and Swiss drummer Fabian Ranzoni (ex-Sultan), joined by French vocalist Jo Amore (Nightmare) and Danish bass player Kenn Jackson (also a veteran ex-Pretty Maids member).
For me, a huge fan from the first hour, a band featuring Pretty Maids' ex-members who recorded some of their best material sounded very intriguing.
Ricky Marx appeared on the killer Pretty Maids’ 1990 'Jump the Gun / Lethal Heroes' album. Bassist Kenn Jackson played on every album from 1992’s 'Sin-Decade' through 2010’s 'Pandemonium', add to the mix Amore who arrives from a metal band, and I was expecting hard rock with an edge in storming fashion.
And the guys does not disappoint.
But Now Or Never goes even further; this album is truly one of the kind that succinctly fits the definition of 'the modern evolution of hard rock / metal' with absolutely filthy riffs punctuated with a very edgy performance by Jo Amore.
"Reach Out For The Sky" is a sensational opener, and the rollicking intro shows us exactly what we are to expect in the next fifty-plus minutes. Ricky Marx’s guitar riffs are thick, razor sharp but extremely clean and polished, Fabian Ranzoni thrashes the drums as if his life depends on it, whilst Kenn Jackson’s bass puts the finishing touches to a very talented group of musicians.
This is all brought upon the listener before we finally get to hear Jo Amore and his powerful vocals. One moment snarling, the other singing in high pitched melody, the man's delivery is like a dangerous switchblade.
From track 01 I should remark the production on this record, handled by Patrick Liotard. Pat is an extraordinarily talented French musician who once fronted the terrific AOR band Sedona (Golden Valley CD) and lately become producer of hard / metal bands.
Liotard, without a doubt, is the key factor of Now Or Never's original, modern hard rock metal attack. He not only has obtained here a refreshing sound for the band (and the genre), but also contributes with some really good tweaks and interesting sound effects.
Next, title track "Now Or Never" is pumped by a profound bass work and electronic sampling, and again the drums are a dominating force.
"Wind Of Freedom" is a brilliant modern metal song. The chorus is huge and melodic, and the drums and guitar riffs are more simplified, but maybe that is what makes this cut sound so good, and this is more likely to be the most accessible song for new listeners.
The blast continues with "Princess of Undiscovered Land" and "How Do You Feel?" which are built with the same quality standard of the aforementioned tracks, with a modernized sound ahead of its time. With a slight sci-fi feel, this material feels like what I would expect to hear played at a rock club in updated version of Bladerunner.
At the same time, the sum of all the members’ influences and past bands are preserved like cryogenics. "Something’s Missing" and the acoustically filled "An Angel By My Side" are heartfelt, powerful and melodic ballads, perfectly positioned on the latter half of the release, a 'wind down' if you will.
There are times where the '90s 'guitar choke' gets a bit much, like on "Hardened Steel", which starts off with an immaculate melody accented by some futuristic keyboard work, but it gets caught in the mud during the verses. However, the chorus resurrects the tune and kick ass. It’s an acquired taste, certainly not a new thing, especially when the entire band gets heavy right along with the guitar.
A better display of the technique is in "Who’s In The Mirror?" where the well placed pauses create a nice gap between the Pretty Maid-esque harsh rockin’ melody and the traditional metal influences.
"Now Or Never" is a great album, and a great new band called to be the evolution of Hard Rock into modern Metal Music.
Ricky Marx & Co. took the best of the Pretty Maids melodic foundation and added to the cocktail a bunch of bone-crushing filthy riffs, smashing drums and blade-like vocals, all wrapped by a fantastic production that always try to go ahead and be different to anything heard before.
And that's what makes "Now Or Never" a mandatory listening. It's heavier than I expected, but refreshing and provoking.
The musicianship is very becoming from the accumulation of talent from these veterans of the scene. Marx’s solos are a welcome treat, a dying art in these dark modern days of heaviness over style. Prior to hearing this album, I was unfamiliar with Ranzo's work, but he proves to be a brilliant drummer, and the drum sound is perfect on this album.
Now Or Never seems to be the apt name for a band that deserves to make a name quickly and decisively, with never a dull moment and a modern, original take on hard rock and metal – the listener will get a healthy dose of each.
01. Reach Out For The Sky
02. Now Or Never
03. Wind Of Freedom
05. Hardened Steel
06. Princess Of Undiscovered Land
07. An Angel By My Side
08. How Do You Feel?
09. Dying For You
10. Who's In The Mirror?
11. Something's Missing
12. Weirdo Lullaby
Ricky Marx (ex-Pretty Maids) - guitar, keyboards
Kenn Jackson (ex-Pretty Maids) - bass
Jo Amore (Nightmare) - vocals
Fabian Ranzoni (ex-Sultan) - drums
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