Thursday, March 31, 2011

SAHARA RAIN - Eternity (2011)

SAHARA RAIN Eternity 2011

Sahara Rain is a Swiss six-piece band formed in 2007, including two lead guitars: Dave Silhanek and Adi Honegger.
As individuals all the band members (Ricci Domenico on vocals, Bo Rebsamen on keyboards, Boet Dee Haas on bass and Levent Suni on drums, in addition to the two guitarists) have years of experience behind them.
That's was clear on their very good 2009 debut 'Sand In Your Hands'

Their brand new album "Eternity", again, produced and co-written by Michael Bormann (JADED HEART), confirms the evolution of the band.
Better songwriting and more organic Melodic Rock sound are the rules here.
This is a self-produced disc but the production quality is terrific.

Extremely catchy songs as "Forever Young" and "Love Me Loud" or the monster chorused-filled "Will I Ever Be" and "Starlight" makes this album a mandatory listen for every Melodic Rock fan.
On "Heavy Times" and on the excellent sing-along midtempo "Dreams Die Young", the band sounds like the best CASANOVA, while "Holy Warriors" and "Live Earth" have a strong JADED HEART influence.
There's also space for a very good ballad; "Miss You" and an acoustic sweet piece; "Since You've Been Gone", which close the album.

This band is much, much better than you realize after a first listen (at least, that happened to me).
Their songs are perfectly crafted into the classic, good Melodic Rock mould, and the musicianship, really really good.
Michael Bormann assembled all the elements with his great experience and magical touch, building a real monster sound, perfect to combine roaring guitars, soaring choruses, angelic keyboards and killer melodies into an unique top-notch quality result.
Support this band, they truly deserves recognition.
"Eternity" is a terrific MR album, that grows on you after each listen.
Great one.

01 - Heavy Times
02 - Forever Young
03 - Will I Ever Be
04 - Miss You
05 - Holy Warriors
06 - Love Me Loud
07 - Shout It Out
08 - Dreams Die Young
09 - Starlight
10 - Live Earth
11 - Since You've Been Gone

Ricci Domenico - vocals, backing vocals
Dave Silhanek - guitars
Adi Honegger - guitars
Bo Rebsamen - keyboards
Boet Dee Haas - bass
Levent Suni - drums
Michael Bormann - backing vocals

Produced by Michael Bormann & Gwyn Mathias


SANGE MAIN MACHINE - Ready For The Show (2011)

SANGE MAIN MACHINE  Ready For The Show (2011)

Many vocalists pursue solo albums and some leave their bands to do so (for whatever reason).
Luigi 'Sange' Sangermano appears to have left (but this is unclear from the promo sheet) Italy's Tarchon Fist, a fine classic hard 'n heavy band to strike out on his own.

His first solo album, "Ready For The Show" offers a fine blend of classic melodic hard rock with some heavy overtones.
After a short crowd intro, the first three numbers offer some exciting music. "Hate Sower", "The Demon Inside", and "Master Of Grief" are truly good melodic hard rockers, songs that show craftsmanship and allow the musicians to excel.
One of the highest points of the album is the power ballad "Goodbye", starts slowly and then develops to the climax.

"Wake Up Call" has a very '80s smell, with razor guitars and a shouting chorus.
The title track sounds pretty americanized, the riff and the solo reminds me the earlier Dokken and Vicious Rumors.
"Overturned By Nature" is another highlight. Interesting lyrics and very well built in the music, with two guitar solos that alternate and are clearly illustrated by the impeccable production.
"Thank You" has a rocking groove and a cool chorus. Specially on this track the rhythm section is tight (big drums) and the guitar solo very retro.
"Another Day" is a simple and friendly song, just vocals and acoustic guitar. Very nice.

"Ready For The Show" offers good songs in a creative melodic hard rock package.
There are two basic concepts that underlie the creation of Sange's first solo effort. The first is just that, with a little patience, you get what you want.
The second is the common thread between the songs, which they imagine as a message of peace and hope brought by the inhabitants of a fictional world parallel to Earth (in fact the songs are twelve, like the twelve zodiac signs, take a look at the cover art), of which Sange becomes the spokesman.
Much of "Ready For The Show is made palatable by Sange's backup which, curiously, includes members from his old band Tarchon Fist. But isn't it true that a vocalist is only as good as the songs and players that support him?

01 - Let The Show Begin
02 - Hate Sower
03 - The Demon Inside
04 - Master Of The Grief
05 - Goodbye
06 - Wake Up Call
07 - Too Late For The Show
08 - Shock Down The System
09 - Photograph
10 - Overturned By Nature
11 - Thank You
12 - Another Day

Luigi Sangermano: Vocals
Lucio Martelli: Guitar
Fabrizio Gangemi: Guitar
Tiziano DeSiati: Bass
Beppe Montuori: Drums


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

ELEVENER - Symmetry In Motion (2011)

ELEVENER Symmetry In Motion 2011

Behind the Elevener moniker are hiding two Swedish musicians who have known each other since their childhood.
During the second half of the '80s they have been playing in numerous bands together before both of them wanted to pursue other musical adventures. While Johan Bergquist developed his love for progrock throughout the '90s, Andreas Brodén mainly made a name for himself as session guitarist in Stockholm.
Best known is Bergquist though. Not only has he been lead singer and keyboardist for Swedish progsters Scenario, he has also appeared - as keyboard player - on albums from HammerFall, Stefan Elmgren and M.ILL.ION.

At the dawn of the millennium Johan and Andreas got together again and soon returned to the music they grew up with.
New songs in a classic AOR/melodic rock vein were written and in 2005 Elevener was born.
The duo released 'When Kaleidoscopes Collide' generating rave reviews, being one of the most talked about debut albums on the AOR scene that year.

Brodén left the project in 2009 due to other commitments.
In January 2010, guitarist Magnus Lindqvist heard the Elevener debut through a mutual friend. He and Bergquist got together and soon realized they shared the same taste and ambitions in music.
The second incarnation of Elevener born.
As the hunt for the missing pieces began, Johan came to think of drummer Anton Roos (Saffire) whom he had seen playing on the Gothenburg club scene in early 2010.
Thanks to Magnus having played on the cover band circuit with singer Pierre Wensberg (Prisoner, Tommy Denander, Heartbreak Radio) and bass player Robert Garnold (Heartbreak Radio) were asked to join and to Johan’s delight Elevener had now evolved into a full band.

The new line-up started recording in late 2010 their brand new album "Symmetry In Motion" under the expertise hands of master producer Martin Kronlund.
The result is a marvelous collection of pure European Melodic Rock / AOR songs that blown away their debut in terms of songwriting, production and feeling. This is ultra smooth AOR of the highest order mixed with some catchy melodic rockers.

The opening track "Just As I Thought" should end up on many AOR fans playlists. Soaring vocals and enchanting harmonies are the rule here.
"Hypnotized" is a catchy Journey-esque stylized track with some beautiful Jonathan Cain like piano treatment.
"Written In Your Eyes" downs the tempo a bit, reminding you the band Heartbreak Radio (where Pierre Wensberg used to sing). Great harmony vocals and feel.
Time for a ballad. "Dare To Love" is a well arranged (interesting percussion) tune with a memorable orchestration.
"Never Would I" is a personal favorite. Marching uptempo track where the guitars take the scene. The chorus is contagious, helped by the wall of backing vocals.
"Heal Me" changes the style adding variation to the album. A song with a persistent melody not far from Prisoner or any Tommy Denander project.
The band sound like their fellow countrymen Deacon Street on "Cage Of Broken Dreams". Some traces of the first Last Autumn's Dream as well.
"Tearing Me Down" rocks again. This song adds some vintage keyboards (organ) to the strong guitar riff. This track is a bit more obscure compared to the rest of the album. I like it.
On the ballad "For The Times We Share" vocalist Pierre Wensberg finds space to shine. A calm, sweet track with a clean guitar tone.
"You Get What It Takes" is a bit generic, but the chorus enhances the song and the guitar work is nice and melodic.
Last track "Modern Times" is a melodic rocker with a more contemporary sound in the vein of Newman or Khymera. Cool and catchy.

On "Symmetry In Motion", Bergquist has succeeded in keeping the entire CD varied and interesting, showing how talented and mature he is at the same time.
Bucketloads of keys without overdoing them, nice song arrangements and some really good choruses.
Add to this the excellent production & musicianship and the outcome cannot be something else then this: a fine release that will melt the heart of all AOR / Melodic Rock lovers out there.

01 - Just As I Thought
02 - Hypnotized
03 - Written In Your Eyes
04 - Dare To Love
05 - Never Would I
06 - Heal Me
07 - Cage Of Broken Dreams
08 - Tearing Me Down
09 - For The Times We Share
10 - You Get What It Takes
11 - Modern Times

Pierre Wensberg - Lead Vocals
Johan Bergquist - Keyboards
Magnus Lindqvist - Guitars
Robert Garnold - Bass
Anton Roos - Drums


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

URIAH HEEP - The Spitfire Years (2011)

URIAH HEEP  The Spitfire Years

"The Spitfire Years" is a 'Best Of' just released in Russia as a warm-on for the upcoming new album 'Into The Wild'.
Published as 'The Definitive Spitfire Years' in the rest of Europe a couple of years ago, this compilation comprises songs from the three '90s works recorded by the legendary band.

'Sea Of Light', 'Spellbinder Live' and 'Sonic Origami' proved that the current lineup - 20 years and counting - is still well capable of producing relevant, high calibre, melodic rock.
You could argue a good case that 3 albums is an impossibly slim body of work from which to create a decent compilation, but the tracks are well chosen and representative of the actual sound and style of the Heeps.

This collection just barrels along on good tunes, a welter of heavy riffs, dramatic keyboards, a lot of big choruses and backing vocals filled to bursting with soaring harmonies.
Just classy, progressive melodic rock, written by experienced craftsmen, delivered with punch and panache.

The brilliantly grandiose "I Hear Voices", the rifftastic hard rock of "Universal Wheels"; the surging "Spirit Of Freedom" and the compact, declamatory "Change" all contribute greatly to the Heep cannon, all reaching for that awesome melodic moment and not falling far short.
Uriah Heep are not a band often quoted by others as an influence, but listen to "Dream On" and tell me that Saigon Kick haven't felt the heat.
Survivor's "Across The Miles" is a personal favourite. Like the source album (Too Hot Too Sleep), it's often overlooked. Heep's marvellous cover is here, not quite as atmospheric or as lingeringly romantic as the original, but perhaps more powerful and harder hitting.
Unsurprisingly, 'Spellbinder Live' proves to be a rich source of classic Huriah Heep back catalogue, giving us satisfyingly heavy, highly energetic versions of crowd favourites; "Gypsy", "Stealin", "Wizard" and "Easy Livin".

"The Spitfire Years" is an outstanding compilation from the most accessible, melodic period of Uriah Heep.
A neat, hi-def snapshot of the band's nineties resurgence; european Melodic Hard Rock with tons of melody and crispy production.
Very Good.

01 - Between Two Worlds
02 - I Hear Voices
03 - Dream On
04 - Universal Wheels
05 - Spirit Of Freedom
06 - Question
07 - Change
08 - Across The Miles
09 - Sweet Sugar
10 - Time Of Revelation
11 - Worlds In A Distance
12 - Gypsy
13 - Stealin'
14 - Devil's Daughter
15 - Wizard
16 - Easy Livin'

Mick Box - guitar, vocals
Trevor Bolder - bass, vocals
Bernie Shaw - lead vocals
Phil Lanzon - keyboards, vocals
Russell Gilbrook - drums, vocals


Monday, March 28, 2011

BRIAN ROBERTSON - Diamonds And Dirt (2011)

BRIAN ROBERTSON Diamonds And Dirt (2011)

In 1974, alongside Scott Gorham, an 18-year-old Scottish guitarist named Brian 'Robbo' Robertson replaced Gary Moore (R.I.P.) in Thin Lizzy, solidifying the best and most popular incarnation of that perpetually underrated outfit.
As a member of Thin Lizzy, Robertson contributed to five undeniable masterstrokes of guitar-driven hard rock -Nightlife, Fighting, Jailbreak, Johnny The Fox, and Bad Reputation- although by the time of that last record, the band had splintered, and Robertson was featured only on a few tracks and wasn’t pictured in the album art.
After his ousting from Lizzy (in which he was himself replaced by Gary Moore), Robertson formed the short-lived band Wild Horses before famously and briefly joining Motorhead in 1982 as the first replacement for Fast Eddie Clarke. Robertson’s personality and melodic playing style was an ill fit for Lemmy and Philthy, and after 1983’s 'Another Perfect Day', Robertson was out of Motorhead.

Since then, Robertson has popped up at a few tributes, played a few guest spots here and there, but largely, whether intentional or not, he’s stayed out of the spotlight.
Robertson uncovered some tapes of some previously unreleased songs he had worked on some time before. He passed them on to his friend Søren Lindberg and asked him to have a listen.
Lindberg checked them and called Robertson back and told him he had some brilliant stuff on there and maybe he should consider doing an album with them.
Now, thirty-six years after he first appeared with Thin Lizzy, Brian Robertson releases his first solo album, "Diamonds And Dirt", featuring performances by Europe drummer Ian Haugland, bassist Nalle Pahlsson of swedish melodic rockers legend Treat, and former Michael Schenker Group and Great King Rat Leif Sundin as additional vocalist.

"Diamonds And Dirt" comprises songs from Thin Lizzy days (74-78), some were born from Robertson's collaboration with his scottish friend, the soul-rocker Frankie Miller, and the others are written, but never released Robbo compositions.
Precisely one of his own penned songs, the title track "Diamonds And Dirt" opens the album and gives us a little taste of what this going to be like: eighties melodic classic rock with great guitar solos.
"It's Only Money" comes from Thin Lizzy's 1974 'Nightlife', and "Running Back" from 1976's 'Jailbreak'. (Robertson also includes a slow version for the latter.)
"Blues Boy" is an unreleased song that he co-wrote with Phil Lynott, a laid back poppy hard rock with a bluesy edge.
There are three tracks from his work on Frankie Miller's 'Dancing In The Rain' (1986): "Mail Box", "Do It Till We Drop", and "Ain't Got No Money" (with Riverdogs' vocalist Rob Lamothe on vocals).
All these songs get a proper and hearty performance with great guitar riffs and melody, that grow even stronger as the song progresses.

Though these historical references are interesting, the meat remains Robertson's own compositions. These songs are opener "Diamonds And Dirt", "Passion", "Texas Wind", "Devil In My Soul" and "That's All". These are excellent representations of Robertson's skill at creating a fabulous melodic hard rock with a definite blues undercurrent, and he's a damn fine singer at that. All five are great.

"Diamonds And Dirt" contains countless amounts of unbelievable melodic guitar solos that prove Robertson’s talent hidden for so many years, after his withdrawal from music world.
Robbo handles all the guitars, plus some vocals alongside ex-MSG singer Leif Sundin which mellifluous and melodious voice sits perfectly in this style.
The songs are very open and airy, old style melodic rockers plus a bluesy edge, with a terrific production job that gives the album a very catchy, ear-friendly sound that tends to get stuck in your head.
"Diamonds And Dirt" is a true 'diamond' for people who appreciate classic rock done with taste, from the heart.
It's actually quite annoying how good this is, when you think how little Robertson has recorded over the last quarter of a century.

01 - Diamonds And Dirt (Brian Robertson)
02 - Passion (Brian Robertson)
03 - It's Only Money (Phil Lynott)
04 - Mail Box (Frankie Miller)
05 - Running Back (Phil Lynott)
06 - Texas Wind (Brian Robertson)
07 - Devil In My Soul (Brian Robertson)
08 - Do It Till We Drop (Drop It) (F.Miller/J.Barry/B.Robertson)
09 - Blues Boy (Brian Robertson/Phil Lynott)
10 - That's All...! (Brian Robertson)
11 - 10 Miles To Go On A 9 Mile Road (Jim White)
12 - Running Back (Phil Lynott) (slow version)
13 - Ain't Got No Money (Frankie Miller) [bonus track]

Brian Robertson - All Guitars, Lead & Backing Vocals, Keyboards
Ian Haugland (EUROPE) - Drums and Percussion
Nalley Påhlsson (TREAT, THERION) - Bass Guitar & Backing Vocals
Leif Sundin (Ex-MSG, GREAT KING RAT) - Lead Vocals
Liny Wood - Backing Vocals
Rickard Jakobson - Percussion

Chris Antblad (SPIN GALLERY) - Piano on "Running Back"
Rob Lamothe (RIVERDOGS) - Lead Vocals on "Ain't Got No Money"
Ola Gustafsson - Dobro on "Running Back" (slow version)
Ellinor Alm - Backing Vocals on "Ain't Got No Money"
Håkan Persson - Drums on "Ain't Got No Money"


Thursday, March 24, 2011



Needless to describe Keith Emerson's pedigree, a keyboard legend known as one of the most prominent leaders in the progressive rock movement with ELP, fusing rock ‘n’ roll with a myriad of musical styles, such as classical, jazz and world music.
2008 marked the return of Emerson as composer and performer with the highly acclaimed CD 'The Keith Emerson Band Featuring Marc Bonilla'.

Marc Bonilla is a guitar master, teacher and solo artist who has released 2 critically acclaimed guitar instrumental albums. If you ask me, one of the best ever. He is one of my favorites, on par with Joe Satriani or Steve Vai.
Bonilla played guitar and toured with the iconic band Toy Matinee, and for over a decade he has composed and performed for numerous television shows and movie soundtracks.

Last year, Keith Emerson Band's performance at the Moscow Theatre was captured on tape.
"Moscow" is a live 2-CD release, an explosive combination the new music composed in 2008 tastefully blended with Emerson, Lake & Palmer classics cleverly re-arranged with new guitar versions, adding entirely new elements to the already epic sound.
When interviewed recently, Keith confessed that these new re-constructions with guitar reflected more accurately the way he had originally envisioned them.
Marc Bonilla does a very credible 'Lake voice' with his rendition of the ELP catalogue. But that's really not the most important contribution he makes to the band though. It's his awesome guitar playing and tone, adding an entirely new dimension to these classics.
You say there wasn't a whole lot of guitar in ELP? Exactly. Imagine ELP music re-orchestrated for guitar and you'll get why this is 'Keith Emerson Band featuring Marc Bonilla'.

From the opening with the familiar moog-keyboard intro that announces "Karn Evil", we know this will be an outstanding performance. Cutting vocals by Marc and thumping rhythm section.
Same for "Bitches Crystal", again Bonilla's vocals are excellent. This composition has been speeded up a bit and sounds more edged.
Keith's dalliances on his "Piano Concerto" stay true to the original, albeit with an added dimension brought on by the band.
"Malambo" is just fantastic, a truly exercise of virtuosity with class and harmony sense.

The new version of "Lucky Man" hits an emotional depth that will really-really surprise you. A highlight.
Keith's and Marc's re-working of "Barbarian" brings it back to life and could easily hold up to anything being put out by any band at this time. It's a blast.
And as if this were not enough, we get a monumental version of "Tarkus" that hit all the right notes, up to the balls to the wall soloing on Aquatarkus, with Emerson hitting everything instrument he could get his hands on, the Moog, the ribbon controller, the Korg Triton, the Hammond, the Oasys...
And let's round that out with a huge, incredibly tight version of "Nutrocker Suite", in which it seems that Emerson plays 16 notes to every note executed by the bass.
Talking about the rhythm section, the bass (Travis Davis, also on backing vocals) is fat, round, solid as a rock and drummer Tony Pia (Doobie Brothers) is technically incredible. His playing is just spectacular.

"Moscow" is an explosive combination of the classic ELP sound and modern Hard Rock / Fusion flavor due the inclusion of the electric guitar.
Marc Bonilla deserves much credit here for being a great versatile musician and for given to Emerson a music challenge he hasn't had since ELP formed in 1970.
Keith, in the beginning wanted ELP to be a four man band including a guitarist (some suggested Hendrix). Thus the addition of Bonilla's masterful work to the ELP re-workings really brings a powerful, clear, and importantly fresh take on these classics - it really works - creating a full and cohesive 'full band sound'.
Song selection is excellent. The new material is just as strong as the classics. The musicianship is top-notch, the sound quality incredible, with excellent production and mix, more as a studio-like recording than a live one.
"Moscow" is the best recording of Keith Emerson live ever.
A real treat for any serious music fan.

01 - Karn Evil 9 (1st impression)
02 - Piano Concerto (3rd movement)
03 - Bitches Crystal
04 - Malambo
05 - Touch And Go
06 - Lucky Man
07 - Miles Away (pt. 1)
08 - Miles Away (pt. 2)
09 - Crusaders Cross
10 - Fugue
11 - Marche Train
12 - Finale

13 - The Barbarian
14 - Tarkus (Full Version)
15 - Nutrocker Suite

Keith Emerson - Keyboards
Marc Bonilla - Guitars, Lead Vocals
Travis Davis - Bass, Taurus Pedals, Backing Vocals
Tony Pia - Drums, Percussion


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

MIKE TRAMP - Stand Your Ground (2011)

MIKE TRAMP & The Rock N Roll Circuz Stand Your Ground 2011

“Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz” is the new band project from the ex White Lion vocalist.

The self titled debut in 2009 was a profound musical statement by Mike Tramp, since his solo career started twenty years ago.
With a retrospective style ranging from Springsteen meets the more laid back White Lion, that was his most personal album to date.

Forget the 'americana' sound of the debut.
"Stand Your Ground" is a muscular pure Rock 'N Roll album, with tons of guitars and melodies. The album that White Lion fans were waiting for.

The CD kicks with "Don't Let Them Put It On You". Starts with an air alarm and sets the perfect tone in about what to expect on the album: pure rock full of electric guitars and a 'Live' vibe.
"Alright By Me" is another straight mid tempo rocker which makes it clear that Mike Tramp has really found his sound. Great harmony vocals to fill it all up with melody and charisma.
"Distance" is a beautiful semi-ballad about love and sadness, the distance between two persons in a relation. This is the kind of songs you'd love at first listen. Very, very melodic. A highlight without a doubt.

"Gotta Get Away" rocks from the start with an infectious riff full of energy, then the pre-chorus is typically White Lion and the guitar solo really vintage.
"Straight From The Look In My Eyes" is in a 'heavier' Tom Petty style, the first track with noticeable acoustic guitars. The chorus is wonderful, melodic in the best Tramp tradition. Sweet guitar solo too.
"Got Me Crazy" drives you crazy indeed. Uptempo rocker where you can hear a 'real' band feeling, very live and vital.

"Wish You Well" is an emotional slow track with some great lyrics. The more raspy side of Mike's vocals find a right place on this tune.
"The World Is Changing" is a dark song that's remind Tramp's years in Freak of Nature. But the track has a great hook during the pre-chorus and the guitar solo is very good and original.
"Prettiest Girl" is a simple and catchy midtempo, a typical Mike Tramp song, it could have been on any of his solo albums from the past.

"Say What You Will" starts with thumping drums filled up by a break-out guitar riff, then explodes into a foot-tap rocker. It's absolutely a great song to hear live on a stage or driving your car.
"The Soldier Never Started A War" is a great track. A protest song against war. The marching drum work, hammond organ, crystalline guitars and deep bassline really gives something extra to Mike's vocals, which here is at his very best. Another highlight.
On some countries, the album includes as bonus the beautiful tribute of epic proportion, to the late Ronnie James Dio. "Hymn To Ronnie", clocking in at almost 8 minutes long, takes you through a magical journey of RJD's life, and you will be left breathless at the end. The ultimate tribute ever.

"Stand Your Ground" is exactly the right title for this album.
Mike Tramp sticks to his pure rock style again and it is clear that this disc is recorded almost live, it's pure, honest Rock 'N Roll.
The Rock N Roll Circuz clearly has also grown as a band, sounds energic, compact and full of life.
The best Mike Tramp's work since White Lion.
Yes, is that good.

1 - Don't Let Them Put It On You
2 - Alright By Me
3 - Distance
4 - Gotta Get Away
5 - Straight From The Look In My Eyes
6 - Got Me Crazy
7 - Wish You Well
8 - The World Is Changing
9 - Prettiest Girl
10 - Say What You Will
11 - The Soldier Never Started A War

Mike Tramp - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Claus Langeskov - Bass
Søren Andersen - Guitar
Morten Hellborn - Drums
Emily Garriock - Vocals, Keyboards, Percussion


PRIDE (Sweden) - Pride (2011)

PRIDE Sweden reissue bonus 2011

PRIDE was a terrific Swedish AOR band which was active between 1987 and 1991. Their sound can be compared to some of Scandinavia’s leading bands from the era, such as Treat, Glory or Fate.
Despite the intense touring and the release of the singles ‘You’re The Only One’ and ‘Dreamer In The Night’ in 1989, the recorded material for an album was never released before a small label in 2008 picked up the tapes and released a limited 550 copies.
All over the world, rabid AOR fans asked for more, but the CD was sold out. Luckily, this gem now is reissued with 2 newly recorded tracks and the original artwork.

The lead single 'You're The Only One' has a very commercial radio oriented sound, with lots of keyboards and a catchy chorus.
'Dreamer In The Night' is a faster paced track which gallops on heavy synths and melodic guitar riffs.
For a pure dose of AOR, Pride offer up the excellent 'Playing With Fire', in the best scandi tradition.
'Someone's Calling Your Name' continues that purists form of AOR, with some lovely keyboard layers tracking the guitars. It's typically Swedish and typically good.
'Turn It Up' is part of the 1990 recorded tracks. A keyboard driven song with a good guitar solo.

'Love Is Hard To Live With' is the band's first ballad on the album, featuring the classic scandi-AOR climax, they sound like Treat or Da Vinci here. Really good.
'Movin' On' is one of the better songs onboard, it's generally fast-paced with Glory-like attributes.
There are lots of guitars on offer with 'Let It In', it has a big wall of keyboards underpinning it, with the occasional synth parp and a good chorus.
'Over The Guideline' initially is a brooding mid-tempo affair, the band wind it up for the final section - which is a fast and furious close-out to the end.
'Heartless Woman' has an early Bad Habit mould, a light melodic rocker with a simple but effective keyboard line.
'Valkyria' finishes up the CD with a mid-tempo pace, very melodic, with nice harmonies and candy keys.

PRIDE played typical classic '80s Scandi-AOR / Melodic Rock, with good taste and great sense of melody.
The sound of this CD is surprisingly good even if many of the songs are just pre-production demos. They have managed to come up with a great remastering job.
Essential for any Scandi-AOR fan and rock collectors.
Highly Recommended

01 - You're The Only One
02 - Dreamer In The Night
03 - Playing With Fire
04 - Someone's Calling Your Name
05 - Turn It Up
06 - Good Intuition
07 - Love Is Hard To Live With
08 - Movin' On
09 - Let It In
10 - Changin'
11 - Over The Guideline
12 - Heartless Woman (New track 2011)
13 - Valkyria (New track 2011)

Dan Kristiansson - vocals
Stefan Karlström - keyboards
Jonas Öhlund - guitar
Johan Agerberg - bass
Anders Pellving - drums


PAT McMANUS BAND - Walking Through Shadows (2011)

PAT McMANUS BAND Walking Through Shadows (2011)

The PAT McMANUS BAND is led by Irish rock guitar icon Pat McManus, mentor of the legendary '80s - '90s hard rock band MAMA'S BOYS.
Joined by Dublin bassist Gordon Sheridan and drummer Paul Faloon who as Pat also comes from Northern Ireland.
The band are now back with their third studio album titled "Walking Through Shadows" serving up eleven new tracks of 'Rockers and Ballads'.

The writing for this album began back in late 2009, not long after the release of the previous CD '2PM'. For Pat it is just natural to compose all the time, whether it be for his own band or other artists.
At the beginning of 2010 McManus' laid down the basic form of all the new songs at his own small home studio, moving on to recording in full at Homestead Studios with the band's friend and producer Mudd Wallace.
Old friends and previous musical contributors John McCollough on Keyboards and Maura Donaghy (backing vocals) where brought in to add to the final ‘PMB’ sound, with Pat even adding some tin whistle on 'Give Me Love'.

The CD ranges from out right rockers such as 'Danger Zone', 'Ready to rock' and 'Hey You' to the beautiful inspired ballads 'Walking Shoes' and 'Give Me Love', where Pat use the violin for the solo (and sounds like a guitar!), in his own particular style. Original for sure.
On 'Short Sharp Shock' the band sounds very 'live', a track in the best Jeff Healey style. Killer tune.
There is also the slightly americana-rock 'Walking In The Shadow of Giants' which is McManus' tribute to the ‘Greats’, the jumpin' instrumental 'E-Tap' and the quirky and retro sounding 'Oldest Rocker'.

As you may note, this is a very personal rock album, made of wood and blood.
No electronics or flashing pyrotechnics (even the few orchestrations are real), just the musicians and their instruments.
But that's no mean low-fi production, on the contrary, this album has a crispy and organic sound, impeccably recorded and mixed.
It's a pleasure to listen old style Classic Rock with blues roots so well done nowadays.
There's a strong Gary Moore (RIP) vibe through the CD, both on sound and style, also a bit of Tom Petty and the aforementioned Jeff Healey.
"Walking Through Shadows" is perfectly balanced with hot rockers and intelligent ballads. Pat McManus' job on guitars is remarkably tasty on both.
Hope this album gets the attention that largely deserves.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Danger Zone
02 - Walking In the Shadow of Giants
03 - Hey You
04 - Give Me Love
05 - Ready to Rock
06 - Short Sharp Shock
07 - Walking Shoes
08 - The Riddle
09 - E-Tap
10 - Slave to the Rhythm
11 - Oldest Rocker

Pat McManus - Vocals, Guitars, Electric Violin
Gordon Sheridan - Bass, Backing Vocals
Paul Faloon - Drums & Percussion
John McCollough - Keyboards
Maura Donaghy - Backing Vocals


Monday, March 21, 2011

EDEN'S CURSE - Trinity (2011)

EDEN'S CURSE Trinity 2011

With the release of their third full-length studio effort, aptly titled "Trinity", Eden’s Curse are without a doubt separating themselves from the pack — and it’s not even close.

Whether it’s Michael Eden’s surreal vocal expertise, the songwriting prowess of mastermind/bassist Paul Logue or guitarist Thorsten Koehne’s blisteringly melodic solos and leads, no other humans on earth are consistently creating this level of intelligent, emotional, passionate and image-laden music.
And it’s not like the gents didn’t come packing either, as the first single “Holy Man” features Progressive Metal vocal legend James LaBrie and Andi Deris (Helloween) joins the party on “Black Widow.”

This is as complete an album you will hear all year …
After the haunting and foreboding intro, here's the title track, “Trinity.” There is typically a lose theme from album to album that ties everything together, and the spiritual and religious themes are out front from the get-go. “The father, the son, the holy ghost … who is the one you fear the most?” Even on a lyrical plane, everything Eden’s Curse writes is a surgical strike.
The first single, featuring the aforementioned LaBrie, is “No Holy Man”. If you are longing for a caustic dissection of hypocrisy, this will satisfy your palate. In summary, the song is about a man who purports himself to be a Man of God, when he’s a drug-using, alcoholic infidel … at the very least. “Let he without sin, cast the first stone”, sings LaBrie, in the duet with Michael. The damning statement at the end of the chorus, “You and I are no different, and you’re no Holy Man!” hits you right in the soul, should you have one. Even the eerie keys from new member Del Vecchio paint this track in an otherwordly, or perchance more apropos, 'afterworld-ly' light. It’s one of the best on Trinity.

Eden’s Curse is one of those bands who have been able to pull off the softer ballads, but placing “Guardian Angel” immediately after “No Holy Man” takes the air out of the balloon a tad. With so many songs about saints, holy men, devils and sinners, you knew one about 'angels' was forthcoming, and even if you can’t rock out to this one, you will still marvel at Michael’s talent as a singer.
Things immediately jump back onto the highway to hell with “Can’t Fool the Devil”, a burning, racing composition that is one of the hardest on Trinity. The drums from Newdeck pummel your senses, and Michael puts a grittier edge to his vocals to endow the song with even more bite. “One you give me your word, you cannot go back!” The themes stay at the front on each track, and this storytelling aspect is another strength of Eden’s Curse.

“Black Widow” features Andi Deris, and the two vocal styles are in complete contrast. Michael and LaBrie have a clean, smooth delivery, and they played off each other with aplomb, but Deris is a more guttural and in this case, vicious singer. He’s the perfect complement to Michael per this jarring and monumentally heavy track. Eden’s Curse just has everything figured out …
The band covered Dio’s “Rock ‘N’ Roll Children” for this release, and while it doesn’t fit into the overall religious themes of the album, it’s definitely is a sonic fit. The band puts their own velvet touch to the cover, polishing it while still maintaining the majesty of the original. As an ode to RJD, he’d definitely give it his blessing.
If you land the American release, you’ll end Trinity with a bonus track “Never the Sinner.” At track 13, you’ve already digested a lot of music, but “Never the Sinner” is as strong as “No Holy Man” or “Can’t Fool the Devil.” This is a classic Hard Rock composition, one of the most straight-forward songs on 'Trinity'. Daring you to look into the mirror and see yourself for who you really are, Trinity closes with an eternal warning for all who are listening.

Eden’s Curse have proven once again that their debut and sophomore effort 'The Second Coming' were no hoax.
Rarely does a band top themselves time and time again, but somehow, Eden’s Curse, with "Trinity", have overpowered two of the best albums of the past four years — their own.

1. Trinitas Sanctus (Intro)
2. Trinity
3. Saints Of Tomorrow
4. No Holy Man (feat. James LaBrie)
5. Guardian Angel
6. Can't Fool The Devil
7. Rivers Of Destiny
8. Dare To Be Different
9. Children Of The Tide
10. Black Widow (feat. Andi Deris)
11. Jerusalem Sleeps
12. Rock 'N' Roll Children [DIO cover]
13. We Climb (european bonus track)

Michael Eden - Vocals (Seven Ten)
Thorsten Koehne - Guitars (Code of Perfection, Attack, Aterial)
Paul Logue - Bass, Vocals (David Readman Band)
Pete Newdeck - Drums (Grim Reaper, Paul Di'Anno, Steve Grimmett)
Alessandro Del Vecchio - Keyboards, Vocals (Edge Of Forever, Moonstone Project, Brunorock)


BIG LIFE (UK) - Big Life (2011)

BIG LIFE Steve Newman 2011


BIG LIFE is a new project featuring the immense talents of the UK's melodic rock gurus, Steve Newman (Newman) and ex-Praying Mantis frontman, Mark Thompson-Smith.
Steve Newman's reputation in the Melodic Rock circuit is impressive - with eight immense Newman albums released in the last decade, the latest being the highly acclaimed 'The Art Of Balance'.
Add to this his work on other albums with artists such as Atlantic, Steve Overland, Eden, AOR Project, Frozen Rain, Far Cry, Grand Illusion and Phenomena.

Mark Thompson-Smith re-emerges from the shadows after a lengthy period out of the limelight to more than demonstrate that time has not dulled his impressive vocal powers.
Best known as the singer with Praying Mantis in the early 90's and as guest vocalist in The Sweet in 2005, he has also featured as frontman for various 80's UK bands such as Idol Rich featuring Nick Burr (Lionsheart), Touche featuring Mark and Steve Owers (After Hours, Lionsheart) and Flight 19, with former Praying Mantis producer and keyboardist Gary Flounders, featured on the Metal For Muthas II compilation.

When he was part of Praying Mantis, Mark met Steve and although a proposed link up band wise did not materialize with Mark 'retiring from the music business' to pursue a different career, they became firm friends with Mark lending an ear to Steve's songs and helping with the occasional backing vocals on the constant stream of excellent Newman albums.
In 2005, after a successful tour of Sweden with The Sweet, Mark renewed his passion for singing further and so he sought out Steve to embark on a brand new musical adventure... BIG LIFE.

The guys are joined by Rob McEwen, the outstanding drumming talent on the last 3 Newman albums, and all recordings have taken place at Steve’s own studio 'The Blue Room' in England where he also produced and engineered the album.
After listening through a couple of times it became quickly apparent to me that this is one the best things Steve’s ever done as a producer and musician.
The album does have elements from his own band, but with more classic '80s elements, and the contribution of Thompson-Smith (and his vocal arrangements) enhances this album to the top.

Opener "Dying Day" is a full on rocker, with a massive guitar riff and some thunderous bass and drums, giving the song a great melodic rock swagger. It opens the album with a bang.
There are some extremely effective use of keyboards on "Close To You" - another big riff rocker with an instant fist pumping rocking chorus. There is a great build up in the verses which gives the chorus even more punch. Great song.
"Better Man" is another winner. Full of hooks, melodies to kill for and a huge sing-a-long chorus with big pomp keyboards and clever lyrics.
"Calling" is a fantastic epic sounding rocker with some eastern elements, with a huge chorus and a killer guitar solo. This track has also a terrific rhythm section. Mark Thompson-Smith shines here, what a great singer. Where have you been?

Mid-tempo ballad "I'll Still Be Here" is an instant hit. It has an extremely smooth commercial AOR sound, great lyrics again and an infectiously instant melody on the chorus which makes this one of the stand out tracks on the album.
On at "At The End Of My Rainbow" the band explores a more modern territory, but the chorus is classy and infectious.
"Leaves" is a bit of moody number, a stripped song with some bluesy vibe and acoustic guitars. A very interesting song that adds diversity to the album.
"Takin' Me Down" has a great song structure which again makes the chorus that more instant, and after you’ve finished singing along to the chorus you can enjoy another top draw guitar solo.
Final track is the intimate ballad "Nothing Without You". Just guitars, vocals and occasional drums makes this tune one of the more original songs of the CD.
Bonus track "Special Relationship" is a melodic rocker with a catchy riff with a real old school Newman vibe.

With BIG LIFE Steve Newman has definitely honed his craft to create one of the best works of his prolific career.
The chemistry with Mark Thompson-Smith is evident on each track, blending their talents into classy material, but with their own approach and a fresh modern sound.
This is British Melodic Rock at its finest, full of hooks, huge melodies and killer musicianship, perfectly produced and arranged.
One of the highlights of the year without a doubt.

01 - Dying Day
02 - Close To You
03 - Better Man
04 - Calling
05 - I'll Still Be Here
06 - Feel Alive
07 - Deep Water
08 - At The End Of My Rainbow
09 - Leaves
10 - Stop In Time
11 - Takin' Me Down
12 - Nothing Without You

Steve Newman - Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards
Mark Thompson-Smith - Vocals
Rob McEwen - Drums


Sunday, March 20, 2011

AFTER HOURS - Against The Grain (2011)

AFTER HOURS Against The Grain

AFTER HOURS was formed in 1987 by John Francis (vocals), Tim Payne (lead guitar), Martin Walls (bass), Mark Addison (drums) and Rick Young (keyboards).

Soon after, the band recorded the album 'Take Off', a brillant piece of classic AOR rock in the best british tradition.

By 1991, three of the members decided to leave the band. Martin emigrated to Canada, Mark went to university and new keyboard player Andy Nye moved on to another project.

This then left vocalist John Francis and led guitar Tim Payne to complete the recording of the second album. So with help from the producer Mal Luker and his staff at the studio, they set about making the self titled album Afterhours. This proved very stressful to John and Tim and after a stint recording single ideas for the American market at a recording studio in Chipping Norton, England, they both decided to call it a day.

The 2nd and final self-titled album was released in 1992.

February 14, 2008.

A chance meeting of Martin Walls, Tim Payne and John Francis, materialized into the reformation of After Hours, after agreeing to write and record a song for old time's sake, it seemed after recording the song it unearthed a new passion in each of them, they wanted to write and record a new album which came from their heart and souls, with no interference from producers, record companies and management.

And so the task of writing and then recording the new ideas started. They invited old friend's Chris Pope on drums and Sean McMenemy on keyboards and guitar to help, and the new After Hours was born, and the result is "Against The Grain".

As with the two previous albums, the unmistakeable voice of John mixed with the guitars of Tim Payne and the foundations of Martin Wall's bass are the basis of something so special that I honestly cannot stop becoming teary eyed over this album which mixes the lyrical content between social commentary on the world today and the AOR stable of love-torn rockers and ballads.

Opener "Stand Up" is a grower in that after the opening bravado the verse is more subdued, before kicking in with a fantastic chorus. The song is about having a voice and making sure that you are heard.

"Turn Up Your Radio" is a fantastic slab of pure AOR bliss - okay, the lyrics are cheesy but you can tell that it's heartfelt and to me that is the difference between a good song and a great song, and this is great.

"Eleventh Hour" opens with tribal drums and a simple acoustic which leads into a bass line so heart warming and lyrics pleading about the land and taking things for granted and to leave things alone - the guitar work of Tim Payne on this one is glorious and the tribal drums at the end of the song give you the feeling that you have watched an epic movie.

"Angel" is a mid-paced rocker which gives top tier bands such as FM and Journey a run for their money. John's never sounded better than on this song and we're only halfway through the album.

"When You're Around" is a life-affirming song to their loved ones. A very melodic and foot-tap tune.

"Hold On" with its opening stop-start riff, is the perfect tonic to the last couple of slowies.

Next up is "Let It Go" with its theme of moving on from the past and giving yourself a chance to be in love.

"I Want Yesterday" is a song about the chance of re-living your life, and wanting yesterday to come back tomorrow. The guitar solo is meaty and the old fashioned keyboards are really cool.On the ballad "I Need Your Love" John sounds so perfect... good as Steve Perry in his prime. It's a pleasure that this man has given us a chance to hear those velvet tones once more.

Hidden track "Eleventh Hour" is a very nice acoustic piece, intimate and warm.

"Against The Grain" is a delightful return by one of the iconic bands from the great british AOR scene of the late '80s.

Vocalist John Francis still have his velvety pipes in true form and his partner Tim Payne delivers a remarkable job on the guitars and the musical direction.

Good production and good songs, but the best part of it is that After Hours has been loyal to his tradition, making an AOR album in the way it should be made.

Highly Recommended

01 - Stand Up

02 - Turn On Your Radio

03 - Eleventh Hour

04 - Against The Grain

05 - Angel

06 - When You're Around

07 - Hold On

08 - Let It Go

09 - I Want Yesterday

10 - I Need Your Love

11 - Eleventh Hour [hidden track]

John Francis : Vocals

Tim Payne : Lead Guitar

Martin Walls : Bass

Sean McMenemy : Keyboards, Guitars

Chris Pope : Drums



Saturday, March 19, 2011

DEMON'S EYE (feat. Doogie White) - The Stranger Within (2011)

DEMON'S EYE feat. Doogie White The Stranger Within

Up to now, DEMON'S EYE have established their reputation as a 'Deep Purple Tribute Band' in such a convincing way that as a result Jon Lord with a Symphony Orchestra and Ian Paice of Deep Purple as well as Doogie White, of course, already had several concerts together with the band and are quite taken with their skills and musicality.

Now they have taken it all a step further by recording a studio album with their own material.
Not only that, they also got Doogie White on vocals.
The sympathetic Scotsman, singer of the latest Rainbow incarnation, was their dream vocalist for doing an album. And their dream came true as Doogie was impressed by their ideas and decided this was something good with potential.
White: "The Stranger Within is a fantastic sounding album with brilliant songs, classic rock, Deep Purple and Ronnie James Dio-era Rainbow fans will be surpised"

The first song "The Unknown Stranger" starts right away very impressing. It begins with a synth intro (like "Tarot Woman"), then a huge Hammond run follows, drums set in (like Paicey did in "Pictures of Home") and a typical eastern sound Strat riff that could have come straight from the Perfect Strangers era. And this is only the intro..... before Doogie sets in in his best manners. Right away it's clear we're in for a treat.
This treat continue for over an hour and we just get a superb mix of the Deep Purple and Rainbow style as we all know it too well.
These guys have a remarkable sound. All Deep Purple/Rainbow ingredients are present.
The organ sound remind you very much of Jon Lord in his best days, while the guitars have the typical Blackmore style.
You can also hear the influences of Gillan, Coverdale and Dio but Doogie White behind the mike isn't copying them. The rawkin Scotsman has created his own style through the years and it seems he's gettin' only better and better.

The whole album breaths an excellent Purple vibe. You get the typical Purple early 70's instrumental sound ("Heaven Again"), but also the 80's ("A Foolish Man").
There's at times a touch of David Coverdale and Whitesnake ("Sins of the Father") and there's enough that reminds us to the Rainbow "Stranger In Us All" days as well as Doogie's efforts with Cornerstone and Yngwie Malmsteen.
The album ends with an very nice instrumental called "Le Vent Lament" that's in the Blackmore's Night vein to make it all complete.
After this one there's also a bonus track that brings us once again "The Best of Times". This time in an extended version.

This is the album for anyone that is missing the good old Purple, Rainbow and Whitesnake studio albums. You won't get that atmosphere from the bands themselves anymore. Surprisingly Demon's Eye brings it all back to you on this album.
The German guys play like Blackmore, Lord, Paice and Glover in their best days and to top it off there are the majestic vocals by Doogie White.
If you're interested these days in modern and trendy music this might be not you're thing.
But if you love the class that Deep Purple and all those related bands brought you in the past but with a fine modern sound production, then you can't go wrong with this album.
Great songs, excellent musicians and an ace singer. What more do you want?

1. The Unknown Stranger (6:39)
2. Sins Of The Father (4:38)
3. The Best Of Times (4:18)
4. Ain't Nothing Better (4:10)
5. Evil Comes This Way (5:44)
6. Heaven Again (6:46)
7. A Foolish Man (5:37)
8. Midnight In Heaven Or Hell (4:02)
9. Far Over The Rainbow (9:21)
10. Brand New Life (5:35)
11. Le Vent Lament (2:04)
12. Bonus track: The Best Of Times (extended version) (7:37)

* Doogie White – Vocals
* Mark Zyk – Guitars
* Florian Pritsch – Keyboards, Hammond
* Maik Keller – Bass
* Andree Schneider – Drums


Thursday, March 17, 2011

ROSWELL SIX - Terra Incognita: A Line In The Sand (2010)

ROSWELL SIX Terra Incognita A Line In The Sand

ROSWELL SIX is a USA based project combining the creative skills of bestselling novelist writer Kevin J. Anderson and composer/keyboardist Erik Norlander to create a novel approach to the art of concept albums: To base a concept album on the book of an acclaimed author and to let same author actively contribute in the production of the music based on his novel.

The end result is a lavish production with a number of well known guest stars; with a book tie-in that one might assume author and musicians alike hope will lead to synergetic effects in terms of sales for both.
This project is planned as trilogy. The first album in the series 'Terra Incognita: Beyond The Horizon' was released last year and several reviewers and music sites listed the CD among the best of the year.

Following up the success of the first effort, the second chapter entitled "Terra Incognita: A Line In The Sand" was released at the very end of 2010.
This time, the music is helmed by Henning Pauly (Frameshift, Chain, Shadows Mignon) who brings hard-driving guitars, passion, and thought-provoking complexity to the music.
Vocals are by rock legends Steve Walsh (Kansas), Michael Sadler (ex-Saga), Sass Jordan (Album Rock's Female Vocalist of the Year), Alex Froese (Frameshift) and Nick Storr (The Third Ending), with guest appearances by Charlie Dominici (original Dream Theater vocalist), Juan Roos and Arjen A. Lucassen (Ayreon).
As with the first CD, Anderson co-wrote all of the lyrics with his wife, bestselling author Rebecca Moesta.

Progressive metal is the foundation of "Terra Incognita: A Line In The Sand", where heavy riffs and rich symphonic backdrops are key features alongside the plethora of vocal talent.
Eastern and Arabian tinged textures are used effectively throughout to add an exotic tinge to the proceedings, and a couple of nice ballads are inserted to add variety.

As expected Sadler is first class and songs like the emotional piano led "Loyalty" illustrate why Saga fans still mourn his departure from that band.
The real vocal star however is Steve Walsh, who is just immense on "Whirlwind" where he duets with Storr, but all six vocalists are superb, with Dominici also really proving himself as an astounding singer, especially in this genre.
That’s not to take anything away from Storr, Froese or Jordan though, as the three of them take on their roles with a confidence and sense of drama that the music demands.
The Queen-like vocal arrangement in "When God Smiled On Us" is a definite highlight as Storr and Alex Froese do a great job here.
On the 2 last tracks Roswell Six shines at full potential: "Battleground" is an instrumental piece featuring heavy, diverse guitar parts, riffs and solos.
The final song "Victory" is the kind you want to enjoy over and over again. This is prog rock at its best with lots of Saga-like parts and extremely well-sung passages by Sadler; a true gem and a worthy closing song of this complex, entertaining album.

"Terra Incognita: A Line In The Sand" is a concept album much like the Ayreon projects, progressive metal based but on many passages adding a modern european hard rock touch, intriguing and highly listenable.
Pauly's fret work is spot on throughout providing strong riffs, fantastic lead work and just about anything else you could ask of a guitarist. His contribution is nothing short of excellent and while this is complicated music with tricky time signatures and complex arrangements, the story never gets lost in excessive bombast as the cheese factor is kept to a minimum.
But perhaps the strongest aspect of "A Line In The Sand" are the vocals. They are superb and I cannot argue with any of Anderson's choices as they all give passionate performances.
A well crafted disk that gets better with every listen.

01. Barricade
Lead Vocals - Steve Walsh
Backing Vocals - Alex Froese

02. Whirlwind
Lead Vocals - Nick Storr and Michael Sadler
Backing Vocals - Juan Roos

03. The Crown
Lead Vocals - Sass Jordan

04. Loyalty
Lead Vocals - Michael Sadler
Backing Vocals - Arjen Lucassen

05. My Father's Son
Lead Vocals - Steve Walsh and Charlie Dominici
Backing Vocals - Henning Pauly

06. When God Smiled On Us
Lead Vocals - Nick Storr and Alex Froese
Backing Vocals - Alex Froese and Nick Storr

07. Need
Vocals - Sass Jordan

08. Spiral
Lead Vocals - Steve Walsh
Backing Vocals - Alex Froese

09. Battleground (Instrumental)

10. Victory
Lead Vocals - Michael Sadler
Backing Vocals - Alex Froese
Choir - You'N'Joy Lindenholzhausen

Henning Pauly : guitar, keyboards, bass, drums


STATE LINE EMPIRE - Octane (2011)


'Guitar Center Presents Your Next Record' is a first-of-its-kind unsigned band discovery program competition.
The objective is to bless a new unsigned artist with a career-altering opportunity that included a management development deal with "The Collective"; a $10,000 Guitar Center shopping spree, new gear, endorsement deals, an editorial feature in Guitar World Magazine, promotion on iTunes, and in this edition, a recording with ex - Guns 'N Roses guitar-man Slash.

After sifting through more than 12,000 entries, Slash and iconic producer Mike Clink (Guns 'N Roses, Motley Crue) handpicked STATE LINE EMPIRE, a young band from San Mateo, CA.
Slash: "Guitar Center and I were looking for a great new rock band that hasn't been able to get a foot in the door otherwise.
With STATE LINE EMPIRE, we found that, I've recorded with them their song "Drive Me", very representative of the band. It's got a great hook. It's catchy, simple, and not too long — and it just rocks."

"I thought this was a great opportunity to give someone a leg up in the business." said Clink.
"For this band to be managed by a great company, to have the support of Guitar Center, to have Slash play on the record, and to have my involvement as well — it's as if you're getting a major label deal."

"Octane" includes 4 songs in the californian hard rock style, being "Drive Me" the most retro '80s of all.
The band sounds compact and well assembled. Of course production is first rate and Slash has done a nice work on their single.
"Into Pieces" features a good guitar riff and a strong modern sleaze vibe in the style of Crashdiet and alikes.
On the other two tracks the band dangerously (to my ears) borders the modern melodic rock, let's say, ala Nickelback. Not bad at all, just not my cup of tea.

The band sounds promising, I don't know if they will break into the mainstream, but surely they can play and write a song.
Only available as digital download.

01 - Drive Me (feat. Slash)
02 - More Of You
03 - Cross That Line
04 - Into Pieces

Tyson Yen - Vocals
Cat - Guitars
Dave Pear - Bass
Jay Michaelis - Drums
Slash - guest Guitar


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

BURNING KINGDOM - Down To The Road (2011)


BURNING KINGDOM got their start in Madrid (Spain) in 2008 and signed with a major label the same year, recording their first album. The CD, titled 'Livin’ Now', went on to reach the position number 10 of rock sales during 6 consecutive months in Spain, Japan and Germany.
Following this debut, the band's guitarist Manuel Seoane (ex Ars Amandi) returns to the present with a second album under the name "Down To The Road".

If we compare the band's debut with this second installment, you can feel a more pronounced album with more melodic riffs, a very personal sound and better production.
The album begins with "Down To The Road", a strong dose of hard rock with powerful riffs.
"Hoochie" is one of those songs that stays in your head after the first listen. A go-to-the-party tune with a big chorus, full of cliché but effective
After such a flood of Hard Rock, we go into the most melodic part of the album thanks to "Shot In The Dark", a composition with a large dose of keyboards. Nice.
Fender riffs then lead the way to "I've Got A Feeling", a catchy chorus court where the voice of Dagarod sounds really good. Very melodic track.

The soft melodies of the piano keys are the perfect prelude to the increcendo "Freedom" making it one of the highlights of the album.
Approaching the end of the album, we find the epic piece "Liar" which is in fact a cover of the melodic masters 'Red Dawn'. This is a decent version, specially the guitar part.
Next, Seoane presents "Devilish Dream", an instrumental full of intensity where alternates electric sounds with a spanish guitar, showing several important influences to the six strings giants such as George Lynch or Eddie Van Halen.
As a final point to the album, Burning Kingdom presents "Japan, Japan", half the time full of strength and small keyboards that may be somewhat linear, but is gradually coming to a whole over several listeners.

"Down To The Road" is a good melodic hard rock album, correctly recorded and mixed.
Some tracks are really cool and catchy, as the keyboard driven "Shot In The Dark", the very well written "I've Got A Feeling" or the melodious "Freedom".
Sometimes the vocals aren't in perfect pitch to my ears, specially the backing vocals harmonies, but apart from that (and the horrible artwork) this album is a pleasant listen, with a very good guitar work.

1. Down To The Road
2. Hoochie
3. Shot In The Dark
4. I’ve Got A Feeling
5. Freedom
6. Something Physical
7. Liar (Red Dawn cover)
8. Devilish Dream
9. Japan, Japan

Manuel Seoane (Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals)
Dagarod (Lead Vocals)
D. Noisel (Bass, backing vocals)
Peibol (Drums, backing vocals)
Filth (Keyboards)
Natalia (Backing Vocals on 'Freedom')


STRANGER - Rock Solid (2010 / 11)


STRANGER is a legendary four-piece Rock 'N' Roll band from Tampa, Florida that gave us a stunning major-label debut back in 1982.
That disc showcased the band's southern roots in the riff-monster "Swamp Woman" and opening cut "Jackie's So Bad" which was actually covered by a young Tesla.
As consummate road dogs, Stranger gained a fanatical following throughout Florida and earned the respect of Pat Travers, Molly Hatchet and the Outlaws while competing for the same crowds.

They rose to success as a smokin' club act, and opened for international headliners UFO, Triumph and Ted Nugent, to name a few.
Eventually they attracted the attention of Peavey Electronics who heavily endorsed the band. Sadly they fell victim to record company politics and fickle executives... and were dropped before releasing their second platter, No Rules (1989).
Lack of major label support didn't faze them as they successfully released a series of self-distributed LP/EP releases on their own Thunderbay label.

"Rock Solid" is a fantastic compilation resurrecting the band's greatest moments and making a fitting tribute to the band's legendary guitarist Ronnie Garvin who passed in 1996.
Completely remastered, this 20-track 'best of' includes seven cuts from their '82 debut, three from 'No More Dirty Deals' (1991), three more from 'No Rules' (1989) and four off 'Angry Dogs' (1993).

It's hard to pick highlights when all are cherry picked favorites.
The first 7 tracks are from their self-titled '82 album, including the aforementioned "Swamp Woman", the riff-heavy "Comin' To Get You" (complete with a tasty bit of Uriah Heep-like keys) and the very early Dokkenish "Dirty & Mean".
Garvin was a huge fan of Ronnie Montrose, Eddie Van Halen and UFO's Paul "Tonka" Chapman with chops that showcase his diversity and technique as a player. That's evident on the Van Halen-esque "Ready To Fight" or the Montrose-like "Shake Down".

With a much updated production, "Okeechobie Whiskey" has a great pounding bass/drum swagger and a monster Hammond organ.
"(This Time) Gonna Love You Baby" sounds powerful, a whiskey-soaked track with excellent guitar work and a very 'live' mix.
"Let Me Rock 'N' Roll" is a ball-bustin’ hard rocker in the vein of Tesla, while "Mama Mama" has a sizzling guitar and surprising modern keyboards ala ZZ TOP. Killer track.
Though "Dedication to Stevie Ray" (Vaughan) was written just a few months after the Texas guitarist passed, it's feeling still packs as much emotion today.
Stick around for the two live cuts "Face To Face" and "Swamp Woman" to see just how good these guys were as a live band.

I never heard STRANGER before this compilation.
Now they become a personal favorite in this style: pure Classic Rock, straight-up old school hard-rockin’ tunes from the heart.
Production is surprisingly good, above the standards for an indie band, with a terrific drum sound (usually the weak side in this kind of recordings), direct amp-power guitars and a bad-ass vocalist, all perfectly mixed and arranged.
If you dig Classic Guitar Rock that delivers the riffage that matters, do yourself a favor and don't miss "Rock Solid".
VERY Good.

01 - Swamp Woman
02 - Comin' To Get You
03 - Dirty & Mean
04 - Ready To Fight
05 - Shake Down
06 - Get On Up
07 - Rock 'N' Roll You Baby
08 - Okeechobie Whiskey
09 - (This Time) Gonna Love You Baby
10 - Let Me Rock 'N' Roll
11 - Alligator Joe
12 - Mama Mama
13 - Gimme The Rock
14 - Girl That Bad (Should Never Look So Good)
15 - I'm The Man You're Looking For
16 - Never Look Back
17 - Poke Salad
18 - Dedication To Stevie Ray
19 - Face To Face (Live)
20 - Swamp Woman (Live)

Greg Billings - Vocals
Ronnie Garvin - Guitars
Tom (King) Cardenas - Bass
John Price - Drums
Randy Holt - Keyboards, Rhythm Guitar (1989-1992)


Monday, March 14, 2011

STAN BUSH - Heat Of The Battle (2011)

STAN BUSH Heat Of The Battle  single

2011 is the 25-year anniversary of “The Touch” and the original Transformers movie.
Stan Bush has teamed up once again with songwriter Lenny Macaluso to come up with this high-energy rocker “Heat Of The Battle”.
With trademark Stan vocals and searing guitars, this new track is reminiscent of “The Touch”, the main theme for the 1986 soundtrack.

This new single is sure to be a hit with fans of their positive “confidence rock” messaging.
The clean mix and harder hitting undercurrent brings this song to the forefront of any music lover’s collection.
Only available as digital download.

Stan Bush - Heat Of The Battle (single 2011)


Sunday, March 13, 2011

LEBOWSKI - Cinematic (2010)

LEBOWSKI Cinematic

LEBOWSKI is polish band founded in 2002, but this is their first recording released at the end of 2010.
It's called "Cinematic" and is being presented as a soundtrack to a non-existent movie. I can easily hear it.
In fact the movie that plays in my mind as I listen to it, is a drama. A drama set in a hustling bustling city, during a rainy winter day (perhaps this is due to the cover of the album).
The movie focuses on several individuals as they go about their daily routine and plans. Each person has something on their mind, perhaps a problem or a load on their chest. Each song depicts how that person deals with his or her own private issue.
But if you prefer, you can read the band's comments on each piece in the booklet (included, written in Polish and English) with notes on the album itself as a whole. Those are quite interesting and revealing of the band's mindset and approach to the making of the disc.

The album is instrumental but the band added vocals from movies. Those are well made combinations and match the ambiance of the tracks in which they're placed in.
The music is spacious, volumetric and contrasts softness and aggressiveness.
The pace is for the most part, slow and ponderous. In fact there's little variation in that facet but that is not that much of an issue since other aspects such as volume and intensity, mellowness and fierceness, exhibit dynamics.
Moreover, the drumming is quite engaging and creative and provides the music the necessary shifts between a pensive state and a more agitated mood.
The tunes are fleshed out clearly and mostly as soon as the track starts, with each tune having a plain melody but one that is amplified in its effect by the instrumentation and sampling, i.e. the layering of each piece.
These are what give the music its aforementioned spacey and rich feel.

"Cinematic" is an album with a compelling, rich atmosphere.
It is over an hour long album and thus can be cumbersome and too much for one sitting. But that is evidence of its qualities and weight, not its weakness.
In fact what I suggest is to use your right as a listener and listen to it in two parts. Create of it a soundtrack of your own, by editing it in any way you feel appropriate.
This is a CD I wasn't expecting to have that much of an impact on me, but it has succeeded in surprising and impressing me. Contains lovely melodies, spacey vibe, a charming ambiance and a creative touch.
Something different, original to try. Get a glass of your favorite wine or scotch and enjoy this wonderful, enchanting audio experience.

1 - Trip To Doha
2 - 137 sec.
3 - Cinematic
4 - Old British Spy Movie
5 - Iceland
6 - Encore
7 - Aperitif For Breakfast (O.M.R.J)
8 - Spiritual Machine
9 - The Storyteller (Svensson)
10 - Human Error

Marcin Grzegorczyk - Guitars
Marcin Luczaj - Synths, Keyboards
Marek Zak - Bass
Krzysztof Pakula - Drums, Percussion
Guest artist:
Katarzyna Dziubak - Vocals, Violin (2, 4)

Thanks to Blazej from Poland


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

HELIX - Smash Hits...Unplugged! (2011)

HELIX - Smash Hits...Unplugged! (2011)

The biggest hard rock band in Canadian history, with a catalogue of music that spans a history of over 30 years, the saga of Helix continues today with the release of ‘Smash Hits…Unplugged!’, a newly recorded acoustic look back through the band’s biggest hits including “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’”, “Make Me Do (Anything You Want)” and “Rock You” to name but a few of the band’s well known anthems that have been featured in many TV shows and movies over the years.
Featuring some special guests and most of the original band line-up (Brian Vollmer, Brent Doerner, Greg “Fitz” Hinz and Daryl Gray)

Brian Vollmer:
"The recording was a pleasant and fun time from start to finish. It was Sean Kelly (Crash Kelly) who kept pushing me to record it and finally I caved in.
We got the band together at Brent Doerner place and hammered out some arrangements and then it was off to the studio.
We had a rough idea of other instruments we were going to use, but it wasn't until we actually got there and tried a lot of them that we actually knew whether they would work or not.
We also brought in outside musicians and singers.
On 'The Kids are all Shakin' Wendy Wright came in to play fiddle, and Cheryl Lescom (one of the greatest undiscovered female singers in Canada) sang (or should I say wailed!) background vocals. Sean also added guitar, dobro, and banjo on several songs.
For the football vocals on 'Rock You' we utilized the services of my old friend Doug Weir of SYRE and my student John Edwards, who just happens to be Fritz's nephew. Douglas Legg and Kellen DeVos, friends of Aaron's, also participated. And a good time was had by all! "

"Brent came up with some great arrangement ideas and as well as playing guitar, tried his hand at playing mandolin in a couple of tracks.
Daryl went over and above, arriving early and staying late. He played everything from his bass to keyboards, washboard, bodhran, and harmonica, as well as singing his ass off.
Fritz experimented with different beats and used brushes on a few songs (a HELIX first!) and Kaleb showed his maturity by playing guitar like an old pro."

Smash Hits...Unplugged! is the real Helix reunion album. All original Helix members participate.
Unlike the last albums, you can actually hear Greg Hinz and Daryl Gray singing. Gray in particular contributes a lot to this album, including singing, bass, guitars, and exotic instruments such as bodhran.
Every song on this album was a hit at one point or another. The new acoustic arrangements are startlingly original, particularly "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin", which shines with great harmony vocals and mandolin courtesy of guitar slinger Brent Doerner. This excellent, energetic version is followed by a great single-worthy version of "The Kids Are All Shakin".
The ballads are also well done, in particular the shoulda-been hit "That Day Is Gonna Come" and their cover of "Dream On".
"Touch Of Magic" is a cover-tribute to James LeRoy, recorded for the first time by the band.
Cool album.

01 - Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'
02 - The Kids Are All Shakin'
03 - Heavy Metal Love
04 - That Day Is Gonna Come
05 - Dream On
06 - Deep Cuts The Knife
07 - Make Me Do (Anything You Want)
08 - Good To The Last Drop
09 - Wild In The Streets / No Rest For The Wicked
10 - Touch Of Magic
11 - Rock You

Brian Vollmer - Vocals, Guitar
Brent Doerner - Guitar, Mandolin,
Daryl Gray - Bass, Vocals, Keyboards, Bodhran, Harmonica
Greg “Fitz” Hinz - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Wendy Wright - Fiddle
Cheryl Lescom - Backing Vocals
Sean Kelly - Guitar, Dobro, Banjo
Kaleb Duck - Guitar


MAXXWELL - All In (2011)

MAXXWELL - All In 2011

About two years ago, MAXXWELL (from Lucerne, Switzerland) appeared on the scene for the first time with their debut album 'Dogz On Dope', earning a lot of great reviews, both at home and abroad, as did their shows, when they supported international acts touring Europe.
During this period the musicians also found the time to write and record songs for their brand-new album "All In".

Maxxwell material can be described as powerful yet polished, no compromise hard rock.
Guitarist Hef Häfliger tells it was AC/DC’s performance at 'Rock In Rio 1985' that changed his life forever. Together with vocalist Nobi Suppiger and drummer Oli Häller, he writes the bulk of the Maxxwell material, influenced by classic bands but sounding modern and fresh.

Opener "Dead End Street" is one the most commercial songs on this disc, a very modern and toneful melodic hard rocker.
"Heads Or Tails" is a more simple, straight in your face hard rock with a pumping rhythm section.
The intro of "Outlaw" is very cool, as the whole track, influenced by AC/DC. Strong riffs and pounding drums on this one. The voice of Nobi Suppiger suits this style perfectly.

The stomping "No Pain No Gain" (which makes me think of Scorpions) is another good rocker.
"Out Of Control" and "Take Me Away" are both more into the melodic hard rock territory, specially the latter with its semi-midtempo pace and strong chorus.
But this band also can play powerful ballads. "Still Alive" is another very commercial tune typically european in style & sound. More even slow is last track "Anything", with some bluesy touches.

"All In" is a very good piece of Rock 'N' Roll.
MAXXWELL perfectly knows how to play riff-oriented rock in a modern way: heavy when needed, with super fat guitars, but also melodic and catchy.
Very Good production and specially superb mix.
If you like bands like Shakra, Thunder, and why not Gotthard, this is for you.
A nice Swiss surprise.

01 - Dead End Street
02 - Heads Or Tails
03 - Trouble
04 - Outlaw
05 - Still Alive
06 - Black Widow
07 - No Pain No Gain
08 - Out Of Control
09 - Take Me Away
10 - Hellride
11 - Anything

Nobi Suppiger (Vocals)
Hef Häfliger (Lead Guitars)
Cyril Montavon (Rhythm Guitars)
Kusi Durrer (Bass)
Oli Häller (Drums)


Monday, March 7, 2011

KING KOBRA - Kollection (2010)

KING KOBRA Kollection 2 CD

The King Kobra Kollection contains 2 CDs / 23 Tracks, prepared by Kobra founder, Carmine Appice.
All tracks have by digitally remastered and this compilation contains 11 tracks previously unavailable in North America.
"Subway", featuring C.C. DeVille from the band Poison was for years a much sought after recording, and here it is published for the very first time.

This is a good opportunity to listen the very hard to find "King Kobra "III" plus some rare recordings featuring Mark / Marcie Free.

DISC 1: King Kobra "III" (1988-Out Of Print) Remastered
1. Mean Street Machine 4:26
2. Take it Off 3:58
3. Walls of Silence 5:23
4. Legends Never Die 5:04
5. Redline 4:07
6. Burning in Her Fire 3:33
7. Perfect Crime 3:56
8. It's My Life 3:40
9. Number One 5:08

David Michael-Philips - guitars, bass, backing vocals
Carmine Appice - drums, percussion, backing vocals
Johnny Edwards - lead vocals
Jeff Northrup - guitars, backing vocals
Larry Hart - bass

DISC 2: B Sides & Rarities
1. Do It
2. Bitch
3. The Gift
4. Hollywood Trash
5. Jessy
6. The Edge
7. Watch What You Think
8. Angels
9. Blaze
10. Freedom
11. Ready to Strike
12. Take It Off demo
13. Here Comes The Night [demo]
14. Subway (featuring C.C. Deville of Poison)

Mark Free - vocals
Carmine Appice - drums, percussion
Kelly Keeling - vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards
Johnny Rod - bass
Dave Michael-Phillips - guitar
Steve Fister - guitar
Mick Sweda - guitar
Earl Slick - guitar
C.C. Deville - guitar track #14


ACUTE MIND - ST (2010)

TOD HOWARTH Opposite Gods

ACUTE MIND is the latest band of the Polish invasion, within the progressive / melodic hard rock world.
Their self titled debut contains a variety of moods in each song. Some aggressive, some ballads but all very, very melodic.
In today's market, a 41 minute album is on the short side but I have to say it's an amazing 41 minutes.
I don't think the band should have pushed for more. They seem to care more about quality than quantity, which I wished more bands did.

The songs are short, accessible and pleasant to listen. The band composes them with care and not trying to out do each other. They are a collective not a bunch of soloists.
Everything is done tastefully and never takes anything away from the song.

"Grief And Pain" opens with urgency, an uptempo with some modern vibe but it's almost a hard melodic rocker in the euro style.
One of the highlights of this album is without a doubt "Misery", which starts off in a very atmospheric way and leads into a ballad. Very well done and moving song that has a spiritual vibe about it. In a perfect world, this could be a lead single.

"Sweet Smell Of Success" is one of the more progressive tracks on this album. It's powerful yet not in your face within the duration song. A perfect representation of this band's melodic style. Very catchy.
"Faces" is the only instrumental on the album. This track showcases the bands talents, again no one is stepping on each others toes. This is one of the best instrumentals I've heard recently.
"Bonds Of Fear" is an awesome song. On one hand, there's the tight instrumentation with some strong bursts of hard rock spaced out during the song. On the other hand, the vocals are so emotional here. There's a sense of controlled power that captures the listener's attention.

ACUTE MIND is a pleasant surprise, entertaining, well written and perfectly produced.
They're a stand-out within the Polish movement and Europe scene, because they don't try to imitate or emulate the current set of bands.
ACUTE MIND has a very distinctive style, with prog elements yes, but very melodic, sounding several times like an european melodic rock band.
Very Good.

01. Grief And Pain
02. Garden
03. Misery
04. Sweet Smell Of Success
05. Faces
06. Bad Incitements
07. Bonds Of Fear
08. Prophecy

Marek Majewski - vocals
Arek Piskorek - guitar, backing vocals
Paweł Ciuraj - guitars
Dorota Turkiewicz - keyboards
Wojtek Rowicki - bass
Darek Hanaj - drums & loops


Friday, March 4, 2011

NOTORIOUS - Radio Silence [rec. '85] (2010)

TOD HOWARTH Opposite Gods

Robin George is one of those 'nearly men', both in the sense that he has collaborated with some of the biggest names in rock and metal (Phil Lynott, Glenn Hughes, John Wetton, Magnum, Robert Plant, David Byron) and also in the sense that a lot of the projects he’s been involved with, nearly got an album released.
In recent years an indie UK label have made it one of their goals to collaborate with George to allow much of this hidden and unreleased material to see the light of day.

The latest in this line (december 2010) comes in the shape of "Radio Silence" by Notorious, which was the name for George’s collaboration with the at the time just departed lead singer from NWOBHM legends Diamond Head, Sean Harris. George had produced the song ‘Sweet & Innocent’ on the Head’s classic ‘Lightning To The Nations’ album, so when Harris departed the band it didn’t take long for the pair to pool their talents and record the quick fire set of 15 songs that make up "Radio Silence".

The record company executives wanted a more polished, pristine sound. As is often the way, the many recording sessions in countless studios emasculated the duo's original sound, resulting in a stillborn version of the album.
This more radio friendly version was released finally in 1990 as a self-titled 'Notorious' including 10 tracks only.
25 years on from the original sessions, George and Harris have now the opportunity to let the world experience their original vision, with the release of that first recording.

The style of "Radio Silence" was a direct attempt to hit the mainstream and the majority of the tracks are simply tailor made for 80's rock radio.
Quite unfamiliar territory for Harris then whose raspy vocals are some way removed from his days with Diamond Head as here he goes for an altogether more clean cut approach.
George's sturdy, sinuous melodies, frequently set to thunderous riffs and wailing axes are perfect for Harris's dynamic, dominant vocals.
The title track "Radio Silence" inherits George's Tech AOR sound, while the magnificent 'The S'Walk' might easily have been the prototype for INXS's funk/groove/rock recordings that filled dance floors and dominated Top Forties in the eighties and nineties.
By the time you get to third track, 'Arianne', a commercial poprock monster of a song - eerily echoing Lloyd Cole - you wonder why the executives ever thought any of this needed fixing.

"You Need More" is an upbeat / midtempo up there with the best from the hairy royalty of its decade, in the John Waite / Babys / Bad English style.
The sweet, wordy "Better The Devil You Know" has an air of innocent wonder, full of jangling guitars and 'oohing, aahing' background vocals, borrowed from the fresh, immediate pop of the sixties, and there won't be many whose pulse isn't quickened by "It's Energy" booming, arena friendly hook.
The sudden swing to the thumping rock'n'soul of 'Do Like A Man' demonstrates this duo's versatility, sounding a lot like The Power Station on this track.
"I Believe In You" showcases Harris' soft spot, a silky, strings-wrapped blues.

I must admit that prefer the more polished re-recordings / mix / production of the album released in 1990.
But this original version (all tracks are pretty different to the '90s ones) showcases the initial concept by the artists, including the complete 1985 sessions, with 6 songs previously unpublished.
More raw, straight up and immediate sound. Some tracks are pre-production demos and you can even hear some tape noise.
Robin George is a very good guitarist and Harris brings more commercial sheen to his delivery than his previous work had ever suggested, with the mix of commercial rock&pop, AOR, funk and eighties synth, being an obvious attempt to gain some chart success.
Back in the days when singles were all important there are around five songs here that could effortlessly have graced the Top 40 on both sides of the Atlantic.
"Radio Silence" is a further interesting chapter in the colourful story of Robin George’s vast and eclectic musical journey and for that alone, it is well worth a listen.

01 - Radio Silence
02 - The S'Walk
03 - Arianne
04 - You Need More
05 - Better The Devil You Know (prev. unreleased)
06 - Do Like A Man (prev. unreleased)
07 - Losing You
08 - It's Energy (prev. unreleased)
09 - The Game's Up (prev. unreleased)
10 - Eyes Of The World
11 - I Believe In You
12 - Touch
13 - Soul On Fire (prev. unreleased)
14 - Love Fades
15 - Good Times (prev. unreleased)

Sean Harris : Vocals
Robin George : Guitars, Bass
Glenn Hughes : Backing Vocals
Rest of personnel : unlisted


HOUSTON - ST [UK edition + 2 Bonus] (2010)


The Swedish duo of Hampus "Hank" Erix (vocals) and Freddie Allen (Drums) make up the sensation called HOUSTON some months ago when they released their debut single "Hold On" to the world.
Finally we have here the full album.

Houston's passion for the music come together and along side an inventive producer in Ricky B. Delin who brings a great crew together with the likes of Tommy Denander, Tomas Vikström (Talk Of The Town, Candlemass) and Mats Olausson (Yngwie Malmsteen) to add more power to their already catchy sound.

The single “Hold On” was a nice advance, with soaring guitars, soft keyboards and the sweet vocals, but are tracks like “I’m Alive” that make the record flow with energy and provides the listener with the classic chords of vintage AOR.
The keys in “Give Me Back My Heart” are soulfully played with the heartfelt drums marching on in this arena style rocker.
The chorus in “She’s A Mistery” is definitely not hard to figure out as everything comes together on this track to unite more high rising harmonies.
The name sake for Houston fits perfectly on these songs here as Denander provies a futuristic keyboard presence on some of the songs, which fit perfectly with the classic AOR vibe throughout the record.
This special UK edition features 2 extra tracks as bonus, and different artwork.

Well much hard work it took for the guys to complete the record and it shows in the production and the performance.
I think as time passes on we will go back and refer to this release as a top notch... perhaps classic?
You never know, all I know is that the music here is delivered to perfection with all the catchy hooks and enticing melodies we come to expect from veterans in the genre.

One of the strongest releases of the year without a doubt.
Knock this one back into you CD player because you’ll end up listening to it endless times.

01 - Pride
02 - Truth Slips
03 - Hold On
04 - I'm Alive
05 - One Chance
06 - Give Me Back My Heart
07 - Misery
08 - She's A Mystery
09 - Now
10 - 1000 Songs
11 - Under Your Skin (UK bonus track)
12 - Chasing The Dream (UK bonus track)

Hampus "Hank" Erix - Lead Vocals
Freddie Allen - Drums

Tommy Denander - Keyboards, Guitar
Mats Olausson - Keyboards
Thomas Vikström - Vocals
... and many more session musicians



Wednesday, March 2, 2011

FORGOTTEN SUNS - Revelations (2011)

TOD HOWARTH Opposite Gods

FORGOTTEN SUNS is the most known Portuguese progressive metal band.
Their long-time career is a proof of consistency and their 3 albums boldly exhibit their competencies.
"Revelations" (released at the very end of 2010) is an EP that has turned out to become the home for some lighter tracks taken from the third album writing sessions back in the period between 2006 and 2007.
Here's a much more melodic approach than a metal edge, with the use of electronics and a 'friendly' sound.

The album kicks off with the remix of "Doppelgãnger", a song which was part of their last album 'Innergy'. A fresh version, edited and accesible. It's in the Dream Theater 'Awake' era style. A cool track.
The next 3 tracks never were released until now, and all are very melodic, far away from the typical metallic edge of the band.
"Phenotype" is an easy listening prog-metal ballad and shows that Forgotten Suns is able to write interesting songs. I believe that this is a track that substantiates what many progressive metal bands try to do, but they can't; to marry melody and skills in a very powerful song.

"Pinpoint" is even softer, a symph power ballad with high emotional tension. The keyboard arrangements make it a nice sounding song.
"The Hill" is yet another soft song with acoustic strings, a nice guitar solo and very good harmonies.
Last track "Betrayed" is in fact 2 into 1. Part II "Grey Zone" was already featured on the band's debut album, but now mixed with the never listened before Part I "The Curse". Very interesting concept, dynamic and expressive, plenty of entertaining passages.

"Revelations" isn't just the usual EP of left-overs and remixes with a new song-appetizer from a new album.
This is another side from the band with material that does not fit on their hard edged regular CD's. Melodic, creative and commercial. Perhaps a direction to follow in the future.
If you're new to this band, this EP? (running time 37 min) is a fine introduction to Forgotten Suns skills, an intriguing, well-arranged and very melodic disc.

01 - Doppelgänger
02 - Phenotype
03 - Pinpoints
04 - The Hill
05 - Betrayed
----- Pt.I The Curse
----- Pt.II Grey Zone

Nio Nunes - Vocals
Ricardo Falcão - Guitars
Nuno Correia - Bass
Miguel Valadares - Keyboards
J.C. Samora - Drums


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