Friday, October 24, 2014

SISTER SIN - Black Lotus (2014)

SISTER SIN - Black Lotus (2014) full


Scandinavian female fronted metal warriors SISTER SIN return this fall with their fifth studio effort, "Black Lotus", to be released next Monday. The new record finds the band churning up the same old-school metal / hard rock blood that pumped through its first albums, but continues its progression toward a heavier yet more melodic style.

The Swedish quartet, featuring vocalist Liv Jagrell, guitarist Jimmy Hiltula, bassist Strandh, and drummer Dave Sundberg, has recorded what is arguably their best and most cohesive effort to date. The follow-up to 2012’s highly successful, Now and Forever album, finds Sister Sin sharpening its collective songwriting chops.
There is nothing boldly new on "Black Lotus"; Sister Sin has just turned it all up a notch.
If you have a problem with F-bombs and confident attitudes, don’t look here, for Jagrell and company are not known for holding tongues or pulling punches.

SISTER SIN - Black Lotus (2014) inside

"Black Lotus" is in your face from the opening riffs of “Food for Worms”, a song that revs the engine and propels the album off to a quick and heavy start. The band’s disdain for government powers add bite to Jagrell’s usual snarling attack. Sundberg sneaks in some nice military drum fills to give the track added dimension. Hiltula and Strandh keep the song compelling with their assailing rhythms. A tasty bit of meat to kickstart the record.
The album’s first single “Chaos Royale” keeps the momentum moving as the band takes aim at the judgmental control freaks of the world. The song has a fantastic swing to it that blitzes the listener, and Hiltula’s riffs power the catchy melody line. One cannot help but love Jagrell’s vocal conviction.
“Desert Queen” offers up a bit of a mid-tempo Accept vibe, while “Count Me Out” lays raw aggression on top of a cinematic foundation.

“Au Revior” and “Stones Throw” are finely crafted headbangers that continue the tradition of the Sister Sin signature sound. The former is a little more commercial and instant.
“The Jinx” finds Jagrell showing off the beauty side of her beastly vocals, but her ferocity is never diminished. She owns every line she sings and makes no apologies. The song offers a nice sonic reprieve amidst the fury of the album’s other tracks.

One of of the stand out tracks is the final, “Sail North”. The band pulls out all the stops on this ballsy homage to the group’s heritage. Sundberg and Strandh rhythmically pummel on this riotous rocker while Jagrell and Hiltula trade vocals on the verses. In a Sebastian Bach / Skid Row vein the chorus adds a sense of the epic to the track, and it all makes for a brilliant closer to the record.

There are only nine tracks on "Black Lotus", which for those of us used to 11-14 tracks on most albums these days, might feel like a bit of a cheat. That said, Sister Sin offer up nine solid tunes with no filler, which most others bands do not have the balls to do: cut the filler and give us the meat.
The album is a non-stop sonic eargasm of traditional melodic metal and hard rock revelry. It showcases more variation than previous efforts, and while there are one or two moments in the latter half which lull a bit, the album’s overall momentum quickly dusts them away.
Kick ass record.

01 - Food For Worms
02 - Chaos Royale
03 - Au Revoir
04 - Desert Queen
05 - Count Me Out
06 - Stones Thrown
07 - The Jinx
08 - Ruled By None
09 - Sail North

Liv Jagrell - vocals
Jimmy Hiltula - guitars, vocals
Strandh - bass
Dave Sundberg - drums
thanks to Rustyn Rose



MAINSTREET - Second Chance (2014)

MAINSTREET - Second Chance (2014) full


Perhaps it's MAINSTREET first album title what best define their musical style: 'Back to the '80s'. I think you do not need too much more, these Italians play Melodic Hard Rock inspired by the golden decade.
But debut appeared five years ago, and now MainStreet are asking for a "Second Chance", their new CD.

Seems the guys like to be pretty descriptive with their album's titles... "Second Chance" is indeed a new hope for MainStreet to be more known in the international Melodic Hard Rock scene.
Their music is catchy: feel-good tunes with a foot firmly put in the late '80s, especially the American scene.
But the guys as well try a pinch of modernity in the updated production, and also adding some sophisticated orchestral textures on a couple of songs.

MAINSTREET - Second Chance (2014) inside

There's good rockers in the keyboard-infused "Short Steps" (a winner), "Mark & Johnny" (with some Danger Danger on it) and the quasi-epic "What to Believe In?".
However, the disc is dominated by Melodic Rock tunes mostly in a mid-tempo pace as the effective "No Way", the title track or the bass pumped, AORish "Last Day", another favorite of mine.
"Empty Eyes" is a slow number with a very nice orchestration (flirting with AOR again), while "Love Can Hurt You so Strong" is 'the' ballad of the album, embellished with nice pianos.

MainStreet are much better than I expected. Their strength is a solid songwriting and wise arrangements, always polished and faithful to the tradition of the genre.
That is classic Melodic Rock with a touch of AOR / hard here and there. Production is good for an indie and the guys are fine players.
For a taste of traditional Melodic Rock, "Second Chance" is a succulent dish. Well done guys.
Quite Recommended.

01 - Short Steps
02 - No Way
03 - Empty Eyes
04 - Mark & Johnny
05 - Love Can Hurt You so Strong
06 - Second Chance
07 - Its Name Is...
08 - Last Day
09 - What to Believe in?
10 - Prayer

Andrea Delsignore - Vocals
Ivan Garbuio - Guitars
Mauro Guarnieri - Guitars
Antonello Colamonaco - Bass
Ivan Belloni - Drums
Pietro Venezia - Keyboards, Orchestra Direction



SILVER (Michael Voss) - Idolizer (2014)

SILVER (Michael Voss) - Idolizer (2014) full


SILVER is another band from the multifaceted Michael Voss (Mad Max, Wolfpakk, Demon Drive, Casanova, Michael Schenker) who released 5 very good albums during the 2000's. After almost nine years of silence Voss has resurrected the moniker and presenting the new CD "Idolizer".

On the original incarnation of Silver there were the legendary vocals of Gary Barden and the collaboration of Swedish AOR guru Tommy Denander. This new "Idolizer" sees Michael Voss as an omnipresent figure, as he handles all the instruments and lead vocals.
Silver is the vehicle for Voss' more mature Melodic Rock vein in the European style, with delicate harmonies and elaborated melodies. There's contributions of female vocalists Lisa Middelhauve (ex-Xandria) and Michaela Schober, each on different songs to add even more nuances to the velvety vocals arrangements.

As said the material is Melodic Rock, rich in melodies and easy to the ears, mostly developed in midtempo structure, sometimes bordering AOR.
Opener "Sarah" is a good example of this, with an early '90s feel recalling Casanova, the great band leaded by Voss and one of my favorites from the German scene.
Also the pumping "Trust Me", the sweet "Drag Us Down", "You Gave It Away" and my favorite "Rooms" (a highlight) are rhythmically catchy and contagious. But there remain some straight ahead, out and out rockers on here, such as the urgent "Hope" or the more groovy "Wave".
On the feel-good midtempo "Counting" Voss adds acoustics to the mix to provide more variation, and it's another of my picks from the CD.

SILVER (Michael Voss) - Idolizer (2014) inside cover

If you already enjoyed Silver's previous offerings, this one will not be the exception. However, while in the other albums from the band there were some modern production tricks and effects, "Idolizer" is much more straight Melodic Rock.
This new version of Silver is basically Michael Voss' solo exploring his melodious side, akin his Melodic Rock days with Casanova. Everything is extremely polished and of course, production is crisp, shining I'd say.

Lovers of late '80s / early '90s Euro sounds from the genre in the vein of Casanova, Last Autumn's Dream, Khymera, etc. will embrace "Idolizer" with open arms.
Very Recommended.

01. Sarah
02. She Said
03. Trust Me
04. Hope
05. Drag Us Down
06. You Gave It Away
07. Wave
08. Rooms
09. Counting
10. And If You're Leaving

Michael Voss - vocals, all instruments
Andi Broon - additional keyboards
Special Guests:
Lisa Middelhauve (ex-Xandria) - vocals
Michaela Schober - vocals



LED ZEPPELIN - Houses Of The Holy [Deluxe Edition remastered] (2014)

LED ZEPPELIN - Houses Of The Holy [Deluxe Edition remastered] (2014) full


The second wave of reissues in LED ZEPPELIN's overhaul of their classic catalog pretty much follows the path set by the first: remastered versions of the original albums on one disc, and alternate takes and mixes on the other.
The chart-topping "Houses Of The Holy" has been remastered resulting a very warm, vinyl-like sounding CD.

This remastered reissue is a testament to the album original glistening production by Jimmy Page, who doesn’t get enough credit for his meticulous behind-the-boards work on those Led Zeppelin albums.
On the extra CD (featuring a newly created negative artwork) we get quite interesting versions, including a more keyboard rich mixes of "The Crunge" and "No Quarter", the latter warmer than the original.
Also the ‘Working Mix’ of "The Ocean" sounds slightly more thunderous and rocking.

LED ZEPPELIN - Houses Of The Holy [Deluxe Edition remastered] (2014) cd photo

These Led Zeppelin remastered Deluxe Editions shines in its pristine clarity.
A must have in any collection.

CD 1: Original Album Remastered 2014
1. The Song Remains The Same
2. The Rain Song
3. Over The Hills And Far Away
4. The Crunge
5. Dancing Days
6. D'Yer Mak'Er
7. No Quarter
8. The Ocean

CD 2: Previously Unreleased Studio material
1. The Song Remains The Same (Guitar Overdub Reference Mix)
2. The Rain Song (Mix Minus Piano)
3. Over The Hills And Far Away (Guitar Mix Backing Track)
4. The Crunge (Rough Mix - Keys Up)
5. Dancing Days (Rough Mix With Vocal)
6. No Quarter (Rough Mix With Jpj Keyboard Overdubs - No Vocal)
7. The Ocean (Working Mix)

John Bonham – drums
John Paul Jones – bass, keyboards, mellotron, guitar
Jimmy Page – guitars, mandolin
Robert Plant – lead and backing vocals



THE QUIREBOYS - This Is Rock 'n' Roll II (2014)

THE QUIREBOYS - This Is Rock 'n' Roll II (2014) full


Originally released in 2001, This Is Rock 'N' Roll was THE QUIREBOYS first album recorded after their untimely split back in 1993 (the band's third actual album). With the current run of fortune the boys are currently experiencing worldwide (and a tour starting in November), it has become quite clear that the album needed a reissue, as went out of print long time ago.
The result is the imminent release (next week) of "This is Rock 'N' Roll II", re-packaged, re-styled and with 4 bonus tracks recorded this year.

If you ask me, This Is Rock 'N' Roll was even better than their platinum first albums.
The material is more straight ahead, louder. In a word; more 'rocking' than before. There's very solid songwriting and well oiled playing. It's one of those albums that seems to be over all too soon, packed with good foot tapping sing along rock 'n' roll songs.
The focus is put in a traditional Bristish Rock sound on cuts like "It's Alright" and title track "This Is Rock 'n' Roll" which pretty much indicate what the up-tempo tracks are like, but the Quireboys always had an American influence as well, and the gypsy power-ballads "Searching" and "To Be" bring to mind Guns N' Roses / Cinderella / Aerosmith melodies.

THE QUIREBOYS - This Is Rock 'n' Roll II (2014) inside

The remaster of sounds million bucks, and I think they have been clever to re-name the reissue as "This is Rock 'N' Roll II", because the album really comes out sonically refreshed.
In addition you have newly recorded versions of their classics "7 O'Clock" or "Hey You" as bonuses.
The Quireboys "This is Rock 'N' Roll II" is a high value reissue for the fans of the band, but also for all rockers looking for something done in the traditional, classic way.
If you did not liked The Quireboys first era and never heard this album, I strongly recommend you to give it a chance with a proper listen, it's a very solid Classic Rock record.

01 - This is Rock 'n' Roll
02 - Show Me What You Got
03 - Searching
04 - Six Degrees
05 - C'mon
06 - Seven Days
07 - Taken for a Ride
08 - Coldharbour Lane
09 - Turn Away
10 - To Be
11 - Enough for one Lifetime
12 - It's Alright
13 - Never Let me go
14 - Hey You (2014 bonus track)
15 - Misled (2014 bonus track)
16 - 7 O'Clock (2014 bonus track)
17 - There She Goes Again (2014 bonus track)

Spike - vocals
Guy Griffin - guitar
Luke Bossendorfer - guitar
Nigel Mogg - bass
Martin Henderson - drums, percussion
Kevin Savigar - keyboards



Thursday, October 23, 2014

HOUSE OF X - House Of X (2014)

HOUSE OF X - House Of X (2014) full


Three years of touring and recording as X-UFO led to the band finding their own identity and prompting a 're-branding' as HOUSE OF X. They completed a new, self-titled album to be released on Escape Records.
We're talking about the super classic Hard Rock combo including singer Danny Peyronel (ex UFO, Heavy Metal Kids), awesome guitarist Laurence Archer (Grand Slam, Phil Lynott Band) Clive Edwards (Wild Horses) on drums, and Lionheart / ex-MSG Rocky Newton on bass.

"House Of X" (the album) is an excellent example of classic, traditional British Hard Rock being made in the now and still sounding not only relevant but also incredibly kick ass. It's a tour de force through everything that makes the old classics... classic.
Consisting of entirely new songs - with the exception of a markedly heavier version of Danny Peyronel's classic UFO ballad "Martian Landscape", this record is plenty of terrific melodies, groove galore and lots, lots of fantastic guitars.

HOUSE OF X - House Of X (2014) inside

The album opens with "Do Me Wrong" and instantly you can tell what the next 45 minutes is going to hold. It's a solid song, however, it isn't the best of the bunch. And there's seriously awesome tracks here, believe me.
Danny Peyronel's vocals have 'that' British feel and the first of many guitar solos tears its way through the speakers and assaults your ears with raw sexual power. It's these kind of things that we need more of, big manly sexual guitars and vocalists that sound like they have balls the size of Florida oranges.
The aforementioned party element isn't far behind though and the second song is the aptly named "No More Tequila" and quite frankly, it made me want to go and dig out an old leather jacket and start a swinging my hair in the face of the sweet old lady next door.

Cuts like "No Way Home", the melting "Busted" or the catchy "The Road Less Troubled" will put a big smile in your face. This is classic stuff played from the heart, tight, energetic and fun, absolutely fun.
The band's overall sound reminds you many classic acts, but strangely there's very few UFO references. To my ears this is a mix of Michael Schenker Group with Doug Aldritch's Burning Rain and a touch of '80s Gary Moore.
And Rocks.
The album does switch it up a little and there are a few more ballad-esque songs in the latter sections. The transition between "Rage" (terrific guitar / keyboard duel) and the groovy slowburner "Alive” is a beautiful crossover and happens so organically that you barely notice it happening.
"Second Son" delivers some Melodic Rock in the vein of Streets (Mike Slammer) and it's a highlight. "House Of Lies" rocks hard again with muscular guitars, while musically, "Millions" is a homage to the '70/'80 British scene.

HOUSE OF X - House Of X (2014) back

"House Of X" is definitely an album that will resonate 5 stars with fans of the good old days, and if you are into more modern sounds, do yourself a favor and listen to it. You will love it.
Everything sounds so 'real' that is a pleasure. 'Real' means real classic Hard Rock, with blood, from the heart. The songwriting is excellent, as the performances, while production is first class.
A golden pot of Classic Hard Rock - Highly Recommended.

01. Do Me Wrong
02. No More Tequila
03. Long Arm Of The Law
04. No Way Home
05. The Road Less Troubled
06. Martian Landscape
07. Rage
08. Alive
09. Busted
10. Second Son
11. House Of Lies
12. Millions

Danny Peyronel – Lead Vocals, Keyboards (ex UFO)
Laurence Archer – Guitars, Backing Vocals (Phil Lynott Band)
Clive Edwards – Drums (Wild Horses)
Rocky Newton – Bass, Backing Vocals (Lionheart, ex MSG)



LED ZEPPELIN - IV [Deluxe Edition remastered 2CD] (2014)

LED ZEPPELIN - IV [Deluxe Edition remastered 2CD] (2014) full


The second wave of reissues in LED ZEPPELIN's overhaul of their classic catalog pretty much follows the path set by the first: remastered versions of the original albums on one disc, and alternate takes and mixes (along with the occasional rare cut) on the other.
The band’s self-titled 1969 debut included live tracks, but all of the others so far — including the new "IV" — have basically replicated the original LPs with different, interesting versions of these classic songs.

More often than not, this is a testament to the albums’ original glistening production by Jimmy Page, who doesn’t get enough credit for his meticulous behind-the-boards work on those Led Zeppelin albums.
On the extraa CD we get an instrumental version of the mandolin-strummed Tolkien fantasy ‘The Battle of Evermore’ and the good, alternate U.K. Mix of 'When the Levee Breaks', among other mixes.

‘IV’ remains Led Zeppelin’s defining work. This remastered Deluxe Edition shines in its pristine clarity.
A must have in any collection.

CD 1: Original Album Remastered 2014
1 - Black Dog
2 - Rock and Roll
3 - The Battle of Evermore
4 - Stairway to Heaven
5 - Misty Mountain Hop
6 - Four Sticks
7 - Going to California
8 - When the Levee Breaks

CD 2: Previously Unreleased Studio material
1 - Black Dog (Basic Track with Guitar Overdubs)
2 - Rock and Roll (Alternate Mix)
3 - The Battle of Evermore (Mandolin/Guitar Mix from Headley)
4 - Stairway to Heaven (Sunset Sound Mix)
5 - Misty Mountain Hop (Alternate Mix)
6 - Four Sticks (Alternate Mix)
7 - Going to Calfornia (Mandolin/Guitar Mix)
8 - When the Levee Breaks (Alternate U.K. Mix)

John Bonham – drums, percussion
John Paul Jones – bass, electric piano, mellotron, mandolin
Jimmy Page – guitars, mandolin
Robert Plant – lead and backing vocals, tambourine
Additional musicians
Sandy Denny – vocals on "The Battle of Evermore"
Ian Stewart – piano on "Rock and Roll"



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

RED RAVEN - Chapter One: The Principles (2014)

RED RAVEN - Chapter One: The Principles (2014) full


A fellow Austrian reader (thanks Gotto!) is introducing to us a new band from Germany, RED RAVEN, and their debut CD "Chapter One: The Principles" to be released all over Europe next week.
The Hard Rock quartet featured seasoned musicians from the local scene, but perhaps the most known is singer Frank Beck, who replaced Kai Hansen when he got sick during Gamma Ray's Empire of the Undead tour.

Red Raven delivers us in "Chapter One: The Principles" pure trademark German Hard Rock inspired in the '80s / '90s yet with a modern updated sound. A sound typically European - and quite related to the present Swedish wave - that means compact, clean, tight and crisp.
The star in Red Raven is Frank Beck. The man is able to reach impossible high notes and croon among the best during the slower tunes. He also is a clever arranger to fit his vocals skills to the nuance of the songs with ease.
The band instrumentalists are second to none, with Patrick Fey providing crunchy riffs and pristine solos, and the rhythm section is well oiled bringing to mind Treat or Accept dynamics.

RED RAVEN - Chapter One: The Principles (2014) cd photo

The material is impactful via the straight, always melodious hard rockers like opener "Too Late", "Silent World of Mine" or the anthemic "Famous", while Red Raven add groove to songs like "Everyday" (a highlight) and the more Americanized "Planet Fear".
They are not afraid to offer a couple of melodic hard rock tunes with the mid-tempo "Far Away From Me" and the highly harmonized "Another Little While".
If you need ballads, the ultra-melodic "I Don't Care" do not give up to its muscle. It's a solid midtempo with a terrific guitar work throughout, while on closer "Angel of Your Life" Red Raven shows their acoustic side and they are quite effective at it.

One of the highest points of this band, and one that sets them apart from other bands in the same division is the, as said, many, differentiated and intelligently use of the backing vocals / choruses.
Another thing that I liked is the way the songs are constructed: they go for the song from the start. Only a couple feature little intros, but not in the unnecessary and endless type.
Additionally, there's effective breaks on most of the songs providing a great dynamic to the flow, and all tracks have an end, as it should be. In my opinion, a song ending in a fade out is a lack of imagination.

RED RAVEN - Chapter One: The Principles (2014) back

Red Raven's "Chapter One: The Principles" is an impressive debut from these Germans. It's far from your ordinary Hard Rock affair, rich in entertaining arrangements and melodies.
This is the first part from the guys, there's 'Chapter Two' in the making, proving that Red Raven is not an 'on the fly' project, they are a serious, intelligent rocking combo with a lot of talent to offer in a future to come.

01 - Too Late
02 - Planet Fear
03 - Silent World of Mine
04 - Foolsland
05 - Famous
06 - Far Away From me
07 - If You Don't Know
08 - Walls Around My Chair
09 - Another Little While
10 - I Don't Care
11 - Everyday
12 - Angel of Your Life

Frank Beck (vocals)
Patrick Fey (guitars)
Martin Reichhart (bass)
Sascha Waack (drums)



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