The Human Zoo are back with their third studio album since 2006, "Eyes Of The Stranger", and they're faithful to their trademark sound; glaring Scandinavian Melodic Hard Rock infused in the backbone of the music, and yes, the unique saxophones solos are still here.
When I first heard the band a few years ago I was attracted to them because of the unique use of the sax, mostly as a 'second guitar', which adds a colorful texture to the songs and a distinctive style.
Human Zoo is in the same ligue as Gotthard, Coldspell or The Poodles but more melodic.
One thing that the band has improved is the construction of instant and catchy choruses, some of them really sing-along beauties.
After a short intro, "The Answer" shows clearly this statement. This is a flashy melodic rocker with a contagious chorus plenty of vocal harmonies. Very good backing vocals, strong riff and muscular rhythm section. Follower "Gimme Your Time" has the same vibe, this time more european in its conception.
"To The Top" has an american hard rock edge, a fun stadium anthem that reminds you the first Firehouse. The big and polished production makes this track a real winner.
The euro - AOR midtempo pace of "Everything Changes" is another highlight. This is a pretty simple track but works very well with the mellow saxophone especially, plus lead singer Seeburger atonement glues itself to this track very tight. Very nice melody.
Title track "Eyes Of The Stranger" has a bass line eery similar to Queensryche circa 'Empire', also the chorus, but the overall sound itself is definitely european.
Probably the strongest track on the CD is "Fall In Love", an arena like anthem. The choruses, the sax and a super cool lead guitar trenches the song forward with an undeniably killer appeal.
The thunderous drums, guitar sound and refrain of "World Behind You" have a very strong swedish modern melodic hard rock style.
Some electronic percussion can be heard on the semi-ballad "Hold & Care" where Bad Habit comes in mind. Great tune.
"Want It - Love It - Like It" has and immediate hard rock impact ala Gypsy Rose, while "Welcome To Paradise" is the more heavier, guitar oriented track of the whole album.
Last track "10.000 Years Ago" rocks with melody, where the chorus punch you ears constantly. Sounds like Last Autumn's Dream on steroids.
This third installment of Human Zoo comes hot on the heals of their solid sophomore release titled 'Over The Horizon' back in 2007.
"Eyes Of The Stranger" is stronger, positioning the band among the best in the genre. Nothing like some good Scandinavian Melodic Hard Rock, and these dudes can fit right into the scene seamlessly with some of the other bands going strong there now.
Good songwriting, nice (sometimes really original) arrangements and great muscianship solidifies the band's new album.
One of the remarkable aspects is the truly exceptional crisp production, big and clear.
01 - Amy & Allison's Memories (intro)
02 - The Answer
03 - Gimme Your Time
04 - To The Top
05 - Everything Changes
06 - Eyes Of The Stranger
07 - Fall In Love
08 - World Behind You
09 - Hold & Care
10 - Want It - Love It - Like It
11 - Welcome To Paradise
12 - 10.000 Years Ago
Thomas Seeburger – vocals
Ingolf Engler – guitars
Zarko Mestrovic – keyboards
Boris Matakovic – saxophone
Markus Ratheiser – bass
Kevin Klimesch – drums
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Monday, June 27, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
Alberto Rigoni may be a new name for some, but he has been a vital part of the rock music scene for a while.
Best know as the bass player for Twinspirits, the progressive metal project of keyboard player Daniele Liverani, Rigoni has garnered much praise for his fresh and unique style.
A native of Montebelluna, Italy, Rigoni started playing with Ascra, a progressive-metal cover band. He joined Twinspirits in 2003, and worked on some solo material as well.
Not content with just solo works and Twinspirits, Rigoni made guest appearances on a number of other albums, and formed the pop-electro-experimental project called Lady & The Bass with Italian singer Irene Ermolli.
In 2010 the prolific bassist began work on "Rebirth" and gathered a number of top notch talent to assist, including Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree), John Macaluso (Ark, Yngwie Malmsteen), vocalist Jonas Erixon (Alicate), guitarist Tommy Ermolli (Twinspirits) and more.
So when talking about quality, before even listening to it, we know it would be a guarantee.
Now, after listening to it, I can tell this is a very good record.
Rebirth is a mix of many genres, everything from moody, almost ambient progressive rock instrumentals to melodic hard rock vocal tracks.
The album starts on a high with the bouncy and progressive rock tune “Free”, while “Rebirth” is a melodic bass masterpiece with many classical influences. In today’s music most bass players simply pound out rhythms lines, but Rigoni fully PLAYS the instrument to its full potential.
“Story Of A Man” continues on the softer rock side while adding jazz-rock influences, and features some very intricate drum work backing up the elegant bass line that builds in intensity as the song evolves.
“The Net” is an atmospheric, almost ambient rock piece that leads into the straight up rocker “Emptiness”. This track is the first appearance of fine Swedish singer Jonas Erixon, and proves that Rigoni can slot his impressive chops into a vocal piece without dominating the music or distracting the listener.
“A New Soul” sounds almost new-age with a touch of the Dixie Dregs rolled in for good measure. This track fully displays Rigoni’s ability to convey true emotion with the bass – not an easy task.
“With All My Forces” is hard rock, pure and simple. Great bass, intense guitars, solid vocals and fine drums make this track a winner.
Intricate proggie bass drives “Ontogeny”. Here the participation of keyboards and drums is primordial; they help the bass sound a lot and all together create a strong, symphonic and dreamy composition. This is also the longest track on the album, and without a doubt, one of its highlights.
“White Shine” has a dreamy sound from the first piano notes on. Here I can imagine the music working for the final part of a film, with a happy ending, of course.
On "BASSex" Rigoni flirts with electro-funk grooves, a song with a monster pumping round bass sound featuring Irene Ermolli vocals.
The electronics are the motto of "Roller Coaster", an uptempo and modern track including bombastic programmed drums, vocoder vocals and a great guitar solo by virtuoso Tommy Ermolli.
Not just a exposition of fine bass playing, "Rebirth" is an entertaining delight, mostly tending towards progressive rock, but it transcends genres, including some jazz-rock elements, funk, and a couple of hard rockers.
Nicely balanced and engineered to emphasize the bass, Rigoni manages to dazzle the listener without making a 'bass guitar' album.
Bassists everywhere could learn a thing or two from Rigoni, not just as players but as songwriters.
Alberto’s diverse influences and styles show him to be a complete musician and an outstanding performer, delivering everything from simple rhythms to complex runs while never neglecting the melodic elements or breaking from traditional song structures. He play with his heart, emotionally and expressively.
Top marks go to the production which really brings out the best of these compositions.
Strongly recommended for everyone who enjoy trying new music arrangements and new ideas, made with class and good taste.
01 - Free
02 - Rebirth
03 - Story of a Man
04 - The Net
05 - Emptiness
06 - A New Soul
07 - With All My Forces
08 - Ontogeny
09 - White Shine
10 - BASSex (extra track)
11 - Roller Coaster (extra track)
12 - Trying To Forget (extra track)
Alberto Rigoni: bass
Jonas Erixon: vocals on tracks 5 & 7
Irene Ermolli: vocals on track 10
Daniele "Kenny" Conte: vocals on track 11
Gavin Harrison: drums on tracks 1, 5 & 7
John Macaluso: drums on tracks 3 & 8
Enrico Buttol: drums on track 10, 11
Yves Carbonne: bass on tracks 2 & 3
Michael Manring: bass on tracks 3 & 6
Tommy Ermolli: guitars on tracks 1, 5 & 11
Simone Mularoni: guitars on track 7
Federico Solazzo: keyboards on tracks 1, 2 & 9
Andrea Pavanello: keyboards on track 8
Filippo Lui “The Captain”: synthesizers on track 5
Emanuele Casali: keyboards on track 7
Lorenzo Nizzolini: Keyboards on track 11
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Guitarist George Lynch returns with his latest solo album "Kill All Control". You know him from the ‘80s with Dokken, and later he formed Lynch Mob.
Over the years, Lynch has maintained a steady release of solo records, while keeping Lynch Mob alive and kicking in various incarnations.
Chances are that a complete Dokken reunion never will happen; however, Lynch doesn’t live in the past. He continues to expand on his fret board wizardry and add to his catalog of music.
Following up on his latest solo project, Souls of We, Lynch, along with vocalist London Legrand (Brides of Destruction) and drummer Adrian Ost (Powerman 5000), wrote together the majority of the music for "Kill All Control".
The album does feature plenty of high-powered guests, including Cinderella’s Fred Coury on drums who lends his skills to the terrific instrumental song, “Son of Scary”, which tips it hat to the Grammy-nominated 'Mr. Scary' from Dokken’s Back for the Attack album release in 1988.
Lynch also falls back to the foundational premise of his 1993 solo album 'Sacred Groove', which featured a who’s who of hard rock’s premier vocal talent.
"Kill All Control" features Keith St. John (Montrose, Burning Rain), Will Martin (Earshot), Marq Torien (Bulletboys) together with London Legrand, Souls Of We's singer.
Burning Rain fans will recognize Keith St. John’s fantastic voice on “Resurrect Your Soul”, “Rattlesnake”, “Man On Fire” and as backing vocals on many other songs on the CD.
"Kill All Control" lives and breathes with Lynch coaxing harmonic screams, melodic phrasing, smooth legato runs and unique chord arrangements from his guitar.
People would really like to hear Lynch shred, but he is truly at home in the vocal-guitar-bass-drums band format. His guitar style allows the music to breathe as his rhythm playing doesn’t dominate or over power the vocals.
In fact, his snake-like slithering approach intertwines within the confines of the music in such a way that he really is shredding throughout the album. He never stays in positions in which he is just hammering out rooted 5th power chords.
His use of all six strings in the rhythmic passages gives the guitar a big, dynamic sound.
The vocalists take their opportunities to lay down stellar vocal performances throughout the album. Keith St. John really shines here.
This eclectic group brings varied genres of rock into the mix and creates nuances that include traditional hard rock, alternative and modern rock.
Lynch’s guitar playing always has included his flair for exotic explorations, which he has expounded and expanded on during his 30-plus years as a musician.
"Kill All Control" mixes classic, 80’s style riffing and soloing with more modern sonic appeals. At times, this works well but at times the songs sound as if Lynch is reaching, trying to ‘fit in’ with the current class of hard rock acts, instead of acting his age and being content to show them how they did it back in his day.
This is a true issue for artists of Lynches era. Is it wrong for them to stretch out, creatively, and attempt to be musically relevant in the modern day?
Of course not, however, they must realize that their core fan base would rather hear killer solos like the one in “Flys On The Wall” than they would hear Mr. Scary try to fit in with the much less talented guitar players of today.
At the end of the day, Lynch can still play his ass off. This one is more Lynch Mob than Dokken but it does lean toward a modern sound in places.
The listener will decide if they like that or not. Let it be known, however, that no matter what the sonic sound of the album may be, Lynch adds killer solos to each tune.
01 - Kill All Control
02 - Done
03 - Flys on the Wall
04 - Brand New Day
05 - Wicked Witch
06 - Voices in My head
07 - RYS
08 - Rattlesnake
09 - Sun
10 - Man On Fire
11 - My Own Enemy
12 - Son Of Scary (instrumental) *
13 - Go It Alone
George Lynch - Guitars, Bass
Nic Spec - Bass
Adrian Ost - Drums
London Legrand - Vocals
Keith St. John - Vocals
Will Martin - VocalsMarq Torien - Vocals
Fred Coury - guest Drums on *
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011
"Revolution Day" features material that TORA TORA was working on for the follow-up to their 1992's album 'Wild America' when the influx of grunge led to Tora Tora being cast aside as has-beens and "Revolution Day" itself being shelved until now.
1993-94 was a strange time for '80s hard rock bands -- the majority of groups discovered how Dinosaurs must have felt as they also became extinct while a few others stumbled over their own feet in an attempt to stay current during a musical climate that had abruptly made them irrelevant.
Tora Tora fit into the first category, but not before working on "Revolution Day" -- an album that was the logical continuation of the sounds being explored on Wild America.
From the opening Zeppelin-esque intro of the title track "Revolution Day", you almost know right out of the gate that you are about to hear something special, and it only gets better. This track should have been a blazing hot tune on the radio back in ’94.
Staying true to the original rock concept are numbers like the straight-ahead heavy hitter "Mississippi Voodoo Child", "Little Texas" and "Out Of The Storm".
On the lighter side are "Candle And The Stone" and the exceptional "Shelter For The Rain" -- the later rivals "Mississippi Voodoo Child" as the best track on the CD -- while expanding the horizons a bit is the thumping horn infused number "Memphis Soul".
"Revolution Day" never received a proper release after it was recorded back in 1994.
Inferior and partial copies of the recordings have been floating around the Internet for years, much to the dismay of the band.
Guitarist Keith Douglas comments: "The files found and shared on the Net are a poor copy from cassette that are actually too fast. This CD release is the real thing."
If you have one of those shoddy bootleg copies, you really owe it to yourself to hear the songs of "Revolution Day" recorded in all of their glory.
While they were always closer to Tesla in sound and look than hair-metal bands, on this album the Tesla comparisons are more evident than ever.
It took a long time for this CD to see the light of day, but if it becomes the catalyst for a Tora Tora rejuvenation today, it was worth the long wait.
01. Revolution Day
02. Mississippi Voodoo Child
03. Candle And The Stone
04. Blues Come Home To You
05. Time And The Tide
06. Shelter From The Rain
07. Living A World Away
08. Rescue Me
09. Little Texas
10. Memphis Soul
11. Me And You
12. Out Of The Storm
Anthony Corder – Vocals
Keith Douglas – Guitar
Patrick Francis – Bass
John Patterson – Drums
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Bonus Track edition
D'Ercole, the band set up by Damian D'Ercole and Phil Vincent, have ready the follow up to their 2010 debut album 'The Art Of Self Destruction' already reviewed HERE.
The name of the new CD is "Rock Scar" and it's another fine example of a group of like minded people who get a kick out of writing melodic rock, which they obviously love, and then recording it for the many other lovers of the genre.
OK, I know, nothing on here is that new or that original in it's outlook, but I don't really care about that because D'Ercole have recorded a set of highly melodic and decidedly catchy songs that anyone who calls themselves a fan of classy Melodic Hard Rock will want to hear.
"Find Your Way" is a prime example of this, pink and fluffy AOR keyboards abound on this song, which are then joined to an infectious guitar riff that gels into an excellent hookline. Which is just what we all want from our melodic rock isn't it?
Doesn't end there though, "Dying Breed", "Never Had It So Good" and the wonderful "Face In The Crowd" are again melodic rock heaven, and took me back to the eighties heyday for this type of music.
"Rock Scar" has definitely a more melodic rock / aorish approach than the previous album (concentrate on guitars), including high doses of keyboards and layered harmonies.
While the debut was compared to Dokken and sorts, this time they take Winger as reference. And I love it.
'Rock Scar' is a fine slab of retro '80s / '90s sounding melodic rock.
Hopefully this album will see Phil Vincent, Damian D'Ercole and their friends finally getting some of the recognition they so richly deserve.
01 - Dying Breed
02 - Never Had it So Good
03 - Find Your Way
04 - Road of Regret
05 - Face in the Crowd
06 - My Only Hope
07 - Silent Pain
08 - Nothin' Left to Lose
09 - I Will Follow
10 - Critic's Choice
11 - In Your Time of Need
12 - So Far Down
13 - Rock Scar
14 - To Die For You (bonus track)
Phil Vincent – Lead vocals, Synthesizers
Damian D’Ercole – Guitars
William Arnold – Bass
Tane DeAngelis – Drums
Produced by Phil Vincent
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Chip Z'Nuff say that 'when the going gets tough the tough get going'. It's an old adage that could be applied to numerous rock bands who refuse to die, but for Enuff Z'Nuff it's become, more or less, a battle code.
In fact it's a maxim that they've lived by since day one of their inception.
After several years in the dark, Donnie Vie rejoined the band in 2007, and the essential E Z'N songwriting team, Chip and Donnie, are back together since.
Their new comeback album "Dissonance" was available only in Japan, but it has been re-released with two additional bonus tracks not available previously.
Longtime faithful guitarist / live singer Johnny Monaco is out of the band and Jake E Lee, known from Ozzy Osbourne and Badlands is now credited as guitarist while Vinnie Castaldo has joined as the new drummer after Ricky (R.I.P.) passed away in 2007.
"Dissonance" is a record full of all things sugar and spice with a sound and swagger that continues in the finest EZN tradition of sharp riffs and melodies to die for.
The great thing about core duo Donnie Vie and Chip Z'Nuff is that they instinctively know how to inject both the maximum amount of muscle into every riff and squeeze the best out of every chorus.
If you don't believe it then plug-in and play tracks such as the title song "Dissonance", a typical catchy Z'Nuff melody.
"Fine Line" is another highlight with a lot to discover. Details are hidden in both guitar and bass while Donnie's singing is engaging in a open, right in your face kind of way.
"Lazy Dazy" has a fantastic Beatles-go-melodic-rock middle section, an influence that has always been an important element in the band.
One of my favorites is the beautiful ballad "Rollaway". The opening is pure Enuff Z'nuff with Donnie singing in a soft voice filled with soul and feeling. The melody is memorable and many small touches enhances the song. I can't help but smile every single time I hear a particular rhyme this song offers. Relaxed and utterly charming is what this song is.
"Altered States" has a positive vibe, a feel good song. This track is a closely related brother to 'All Right' from the '10' album. Both rhythm and vibe has similarities. Great tune.
"Playground" begins with a fun kind of Batman meets Blues Brothers vibe. Fun is the keyword here and the song gets better and better with each listen, the layered chorus being a superb highlight.
Several songs deal with what has happened with the musicians in the last years, in particular the moving "Joni Lynn" where the wound from Donnie's failed marriage is torn open and bared to all. The song develops with many listens and has a haunting staying power that makes it unforgettable. Chip's bass work stands out as brilliant and Donnie's singing is filled with emotion in what may be one of his finest moments ever. The song is expressed with heart and soul in a way that feels real and it reaches a pinnacle near the end with added harmonies bringing an extra punch.
As the city, "Chicago" oozes with atmosphere. The song has a slightly different production than the rest and Chip also sings lead vocals on it. It works very well as he gives the song the perfect vibe.
The previously unreleased Studio Outtake "Code Red" rocks with its simple melody, while the other new track gives you a trip back to the very first band's album.
"Dissonance" is the exact opposite of what this album brings. Enuff Z'nuff is back with an album that is real aural bliss.
The music is still undeniably Enuff Z'nuff's special brand of Melodic Rock with Donnie's voice, the unforgettable melodies and the Beatles influence in place.
The album also moves forward as the songs have a fresh mature feel to them. It feels like a new leaf has been turned over. This is music that makes you feel something and it stays interesting due to strong songwriting.
Like the very best Enuff Z'nuff albums, "Dissonance" has moments and songs which cross that magical borderline where they touch something deep within and wrap you up in a sea of chills.
01 - Dissonance
02 - Fine Line
03 - Lazy Dazy
04 - Rollaway
05 - High
06 - Altered States
07 - Playground
08 - Sometimes
09 - Joni Lynn
10 - Chicago
11 - Code Red (prev. unreleased Studio Outtake)
12 - When Doves Cry
13 - Run For Your Life (prev. unreleased Studio Outtake)
Donnie Vie - Vocals, Guitar
Chip Z'Nuff - Vocals, Bass
Jake E Lee - Guitars
Vinnie Castaldo - Drums
"Brace For Impact" is the debut album from German / Italian band Love.Might.Kill.
The big name in this act is former Metalium / Firewind / Uli Jon Roth, drummer Michael Ehré, though don't let his presence fool you.
Love.Might.Kill plays heavy rock, but definitely not in the same atomic-thunder way of the aforementioned bands. They're focused in melodies than power, sounding on many tracks definitely modern melodic hard rock.
The line-up is completed by experienced musicians; Christian Stöver and Stefan Ellerhorst are the german guitar-twin-duo of the early nineties hard rock band Crossroads.
But the real find is italian vocalist Jan Manenti. He has a powerful soaring voice with bags of class and a lot of oomph.
Opener "Tomorrow Never Comes" is a really good starter that shows what is to be expected on the album. This a monster hard rocker featuring heavy guitar riffing combined with melodic vocals and groovy drumming. A dynamic song adorned with subtle keyboards.
"Calm Before The Storm" is one of the heavier tracks on the album, a crushing fast tempo in the '80s Helloween style with an impressive guitar work.
"Pretty Little Mess" is one of the highlights. Classic hard rock influenced by Whitesnake with a modern sound and production. Excellent vocals and melody.
If you like Black Sabbath's Tony Martin-era, you will love "Caught In A Dream". Dense guitars and epic chorus, and a very good retro keyboard solo included.
Title track "Brace For Impact" is another good hard rocker, with a groovy atmosphere that reminds you Rainbow/DIO, and Whitesnake during the pre-chorus.
"We Are The Weak" has a very eighties vibe, a midtempo rocker with catchy chorus, a melodic guitar solo and haunting vocals.
The double drum attack of "Down To Nowhere" and specially the vocal part bring to mind Masterplan of Allen-Lande works.
"Pray To Your God" is a commercial yet lyrically dark tune, with clean guitars and orchestrated keys, followed by the pretty generic hard rocker "Reach Out".
The disc ends with the dynamic "Will Love Remain", a song with lots of variations and interesting lyrics about the mankind destroying themselves by killing the planet step by step.
"Brace For Impact" is an impressive debut album, dynamically varied and very well produced & recorded.
Love.Might.Kill is on the end side of the traditional melodic hard rock genre, blending their music with classic heavy sounds influenced by the '80s, but modern and fresh.
They have a great vocalist who carries the songs with his splendid pipes giving them another dimension. The guitars are sharp and precise accompanied by a groovy rhythm section.
With a clean and crisp production by Ehré and an excellent mix by Markus Teske (Saga, Vanden Plas), Love.Might.Kill has delivered a more than interesting heavy-rock album that deserves to be listened.
01 - Tomorrow Never Comes
02 - Calm Before The Storm
03 - Pretty Little Mess
04 - Caught In A Dream
05 - Through The Dawn
06 - Brace For Impact
07 - We Are The Weak
08 - Down To Nowhere
09 - Pray To Your God
10 - Reach Out
11 - The Answer
12 - Will Love Remain
Jan Manenti – Vocals
Christian Stöver – Guitars
Stefan Ellerhorst – Guitars
Jogi Sweers – Bass
Michael Ehré – Drums
??? – Keyboards
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Live at Firefest - Official Release
Eight years had passed before a chance phone call from Firefest to Charlie Calv kick started the Shotgun Symphony machine once again.
Replacing a pretty well know international act on a festival bill takes guts, but in true New Jersey style, Shotgun got on with the job in hand.
It was the band themselves that decided that maybe playing the entire first album song for song would be something special for band and fans alike, as it had never been done before.
Whilst Charlie Calv has stayed active in the melodic rock scene, vocalist Tracy White had actually given up singing and had only bought an acoustic guitar two weeks before the Firefest question popped up stating “I just got this urge to buy a new guitar, I felt something was going to happen.”
Shotgun Symphony have maintained a loyal following over the years despite their inactivity, and the roar that greeted the band on their return to the UK proved that they were not there to simply make up the numbers, but continue to be hugely appreciated by a discerning melodic rock public.
Is this a comeback? Who knows? Will it continue? maybe.
Excited by once again creating music, the band ventured into the studio for the first time in nine years to record an exclusive newly written track "Can’t Get Over" as a special bonus to fans buying this album, which shows that Shotgun have many miles left in the tank.
October 30th 2010 was not only a special night for five guys from New Jersey, but for a crowd of melodic rock fans that welcomed the band back with open arms - here’s the proof!
01 - Highway To Tomorrow
02 - What Happens To Love
03 - Way Back Home
04 - Turn Around
05 - Broken Promises
06 - Lost Child
07 - She's In Love
08 - Running
09 - Bitter Sweet Poison
10 - Goodbye To The Night
11 - Believe In Me
12 - Can't Get Over (New Studio Recording 2011)
Tracy White - Lead vocals, acoustic guitar
Mike Maino - Guitars, backing vocals
Charlie Calv - Keyboards, backing vocals
Ed Avila - Bass, backing vocals
Ron Sivulich Jnr. - Drums
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Recorded on FireFest Sunday, Strangeways took the stage to the acclaim of a packed Rock City without even hitting a note.
The type of welcome usually reserved for homecoming heroes, well, in fact judging by the audience reaction to simply glimpsing Ian, Terry, Jim, Munch and Warren on stage they not only justified their status as musical heavyweights within this genre, but as a bonafide top of the pile AOR band par excellence with a track record to prove it.
Contained here is a document of THAT performance, 22 years of hurt was dispelled for the masses that awaited the return.
Mixing back catalogue classics such as ‘Love Lies Dying’, ‘Where Do We Go from Here’, ‘Empty Streets’ and the all time mega classic ‘Only a Fool’ with new material such as the title track from their current studio opus ‘Perfect World’, the sublime ‘Time’ and the monstrous Zeppelin-esque ‘Bushfires’.
If you were at the show this is your personal memento, if you did not attend, it is the next best thing to being there.
"Where Do We Go From Here" was recorded at Firefest on Sunday October 31st in front of an adoring audience which prompted the band to deliver one of the performances of the entire weekend, and considering the quality of the bands performing over the weekend, that is some accolade.
Fireworks' Mark Warburton called it 'an inspired set', Lazy Rocker magazine stating 'they opened the doors to AOR Heaven'.
Production duties have been carried out by Ian J. Stewart himself, and the album has been mixed and mastered by none other than Harry Hess (Harem Scarem) at H Bomb Mastering, Canada.
01 - Love Lies Dying
02 - Breaking Down The Barriers
03 - Perfect World
04 - Only A Fool
05 - Empty Streets
06 - Time / After The Hurt Is Gone
07 - Borderlines
08 - Where Do We Go From Here
09 - Never Gonna Lose It
10 - Bushfires
Terry Brock : Vocals
Ian J. Stewart : Guitars
David "Munch" Moore : Keyboards
Warren Jolly : Bass
Jim Drummond : Drums
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Friday, June 17, 2011
DAVID MARK PEARCE is a guitarist, songwriter, sound engineer and producer from Cornwall, UK.
David’s band affiliations include the british melodic rock band Union Jane and the Cornwall based group Naked Feet.
He’s most known for his work with YES keyboard player Oliver Wakeman (Rick's son) as stable member of his band, recording 4 albums and a live DVD. Also for his contribution to Arjen Lucassen’s Stream Of Passion project.
David wrote and recorded his own EP, 'Shelter Me From The Rain' in 2007, and more recently, he co-produced and was sound engineer, also providing guitar support, for keyboard player Lisa LaRue on her album 'Lisa LaRue Project 2K9 World Class' which was released in 2009.
But now it's time for his own solo full length album “Strange Ang3ls”.
The first thing that really impress is the line-up: Göran Edman (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen, John Norum and Talisman amongst others) and John Payne (Asia) on vocals, C S Brown (Ghost Circus) on bass; and Mikael Wikman (ex- Vindictiv) on drums, with a special guest appearance by Oliver Wakeman on keys.
The second; the quality of the material on offer and the good production.
After the short ethereal intro "Ang3ls (Help Us)", the album explodes into a classic hard rocker with "Alone I Cry". This is a very melodic song with classy keyboards, where David proves his abilities as guitarist with a great playing and terrific guitar sound. His style has influences from Blackmore, Jake E Lee and Nikolo Kotzev (Brazen Abbot). In fact, this album is pretty similar in style to Brazen Abbot. Göran Edman shines as usual with his unique set of pipes.
"Shelter Me Form the Rain" sits more into the melodic rock territory, with a nice chorus.
"Tell Me Why" is the first track featuring John Payne from Asia on vocals. We can hear some progressive overtones and an 'epic' feel, always sounding 'classic rock'. Great riffs, vintage keyboards and an extended guitar solo makes this song one of the highlights.
"Every Time it Rains" is a very interesting instrumental where Pearce plays an arsenal of solos with taste and melody. He's not a shredder, every note has sense and emotion.
On the itle track "Strange Ang3ls" Goran returns to the mic. This song has a little neo-classical scent and reminds you when Yngwie used to record good, commercial tunes.
Next, "To Live Again" features the best Payne vocal on this album. A classic rock song with a great refrain, catchy and melodic.
"Save Your Prayers" is a mid-tempo friendly ballad with nice keyboard arrangement, superb vocals by Edman and a 'sustain' guitar solo. Very Good.
"Eden Is Burning" rocks but not too hard, and last track, the quicker "So Far From Heaven" adds again a prog touch, specially by the keyboards and Payne's performance.
"Strange Ang3ls" is a real surprise, presenting skillfully written songs in the best classic hard rock / melodic style.
Thanks to the presence of two vocalists (and two heavy weights in the business) you never get bored, John Payne and specially Göran Edman have done a very good vocal job on all tracks.
David Mark Pearce has class and acquired taste on the six strings, always contributing to the song skeletons with precise arpeggios & solos.
As mentioned, good mix and production (except on some parts where the drums are a bit thin), with a rich and fully rounded overall sound.
01 - Ang3ls (Help Us)
02 - Alone I Cry *
03 - Shelter Me Form the Rain *
04 - Tell Me Why +
05 - Every Time it Rains -Instrumental-
06 - Strange Ang3ls *
07 - To Live Again +
08 - Save Your Prayers *
09 - Eden is Burning *
10 - So Far Form Heaven +
Göran Edman - Lead Vocals *
John Payne (Asia) - Lead Vocals +
David Mark Pearce - Guitars
C S Brown (Ghost Circus) - Bass
Lisa LaRue - Keyboards, Bkg Vocals
Mikael Wikman (ex- Vindictiv) - Drums
Oliver Wakeman - Guest Keyboards
David Pearce is looking for a vocalist to his upcoming live shows, if you're interested, go here:
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Info, Samples and Purchase options:
Bai Bang are one of the most veteran Melodic Rock acts from Sweden.
Since the band has started to rock in the late 80's, they have spent a lot of time together on their tours all over Europe, USA, Canada, Japan sharing stage with bands such as Thin Lizzy, Ratt, Dio, Motley Crue, Pretty Maids and played at festivals such as Sweden Rock, Wacken and Rocklahoma.
After a hiatus since their 2001 album, Bai Bang returned a couple years ago with a new effort. Now it's time for "Livin' My Dream".
Bai Bang presents itself both in music and in looks like a typical eighties band. When listening to the CD your feelings instantly go back in time. From time to time it is not bad to take a trip down memory lane.
First track "We're United" is a cool fast hard rocker with some glam/sleaze overtones. But this is the only glitter track, as the rest of the material is typically european melodic rock.
"Livin' My Dream" is a modern hard rocker that turns extremely melodic during the chorus and guitar solo part.
"Come On" is one of the best tracks on offer here, a catchy pure melodic rock in the Bad Habit style, very very swedish.
"Stay" has a never ending chorus, it's a good song but lacks the inclusion of a good, extended and punchy guitar solo.
Next "Tonight", is more contemporary sounding, in the vein of the scandinavian new wave as H.E.A.T or The Poodles, while "Rock It" is a midtempo melodic rocker ala Def Leppard.
"Livin' My Dream" includes very melodic tunes in the typical swedish, arena style.
Although produced by Pontus Assarsson and mastered by genius Martin Kronlund, I think all tracks are pre-production demos, not definitive material. That's evident on some songs ending a bit abruptly, and the overall sound.
I mean, all tracks are well written and arranged, instant and cool melodic rockers, but this genre needs crisp and brilliant production, that's the motto of this style. I don't know if the band wanted to release a some kind of 'unreleased stuff' or 'missing tracks' here...
Anyway, this is a very nice song collection, short and fun tracks in the euro-melodic-rock tradition. Check the video-song below.
01 - We're United
02 - Livin' My Dream
03 - Come on
04 - Rock on
05 - Stay
06 - Gonna Have it All
07 - Tonight
08 - Rock it
09 - Die for You
10 - Put on Her Dress
Diddi Kastenholt : Vocals
Pelle Eliaz : Guitars
Joacim Sandin : Bass
Johnny Benson : Drums
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Thursday, June 16, 2011
"Changes" is the 3rd smokin' hot release and highly anticipated comeback of the female fronted Swedish melodic rockers Alyson Avenue.
After the departure of original vocalist Anette Olzon to Nightwish in 2007, the rest of the band started the search of a new singer.
In 2009 Arabella Vitanc, a hidden Swedish jewel, joined the band giving Alyson Avenue new energy to start the work on new songs.
Even with a new vocalist, some things have not changed for Alyson Avenue: they still deliver solid and entertaining AOR / melodic rock.
This time out their helped by some significant contributors including back up vocals from Olzon, Michael Bormann, guitar work from Rob Marcello (Danger Danger, Marcello-Vestry), and production from veteran Chris Laney (Crazy Lixx, H.E.A.T).
The album kicks off with the hard-edged "Liar", which, ironically, has some Nightwish-y elements, especially in the vocal melodies. But basically is typical european melodicrocker with hard guitars and tons of keyboards.
"Will I Make Love" features Michael Bormann (ex-Jaded Heart, Bloodbound, etc) dueting with Arabella, and they do sound very good together. A very commercial modern AOR tune.
"Changes" is another heavier track (written by Shiva's Mats Edström) and features Rob Marcello on a scorching lead guitar solo.
"Amazing Days" is a favourite, a pure swedish female-style AOR very eighties, much in the style of Erika's works. A winner.
Next up, "Don't Know If Love Is Alive" a mid-tempo tune with very Heart-like verses and a melodious chorus.
"Fallen" features a strong riff and a typical scandi-AOR sound like Treat but with female vocals. Nice Keyboards and cool chorus here.
Same with "Into The Fire", one of my favorites, very 'swedish retro' but with a modern sound.
Maybe the most complete vocal performance by Arabella is on "I Will Be Waiting", hitting some higher notes. The lead guitar solo is sparkling and the keyboards provide a meaty substance.
"Somewhere" is a more contemporary melodic hard rocker with a modern feel, while "Always Keep On Loving You" again remembers you late eighties rock in a good form.
"Changes" is a classy pure AOR and Melodic Rock album with an updated sound. Niclass Olssson (keyboards and background vocals) handles most of the writing on the record and it shows a more mature touch to each song. Some of the material reminds of older Treat with a modern touch.
As to debate over the vocals I don’t see any, I think both Anette and new singer Arabella are talented female vocalists in their own right, but the latter probably has less range but still fits the style of the band pretty well with the type of music they play.
Mike Andersson of Cloudscape and Fullforce actually sings background vocals on half of the tracks on here adding a nice depth.
The band itself and mix master Chris Laney handled the production duties skillfully.
For Alyson Ave, "Changes" is a fine return to the fold of European Melodic Rock. Easily Recommended.
01 - Liar
02 - Will I Make Love
03 - Changes
04 - Amazing Days
05 - Don't Know If Love Is Alive
06 - Fallen
07 - Into The Fire
08 - I Will Be Waiting
09 - I'll Cry For You
10 - Somewhere
11 - Always Keep On Loving You
Arabella Vitanc - Vocals
Niclas Olsson - Keyboards
Thomas Löyskä - Bass
Tony Rohtla - Guitars
Fredrik Eriksson - Drums
Michael Bormann - Vocal duet on "Will I Make Love"
Rob Marcello (Danger Danger) - Guitar
Mike Andersson (Cloudscape) - Backing Vocals
Anette Olzon (Nightwish, ex-Alyson Avenue) - Backing Vocals
Tommy Stråhle (Cloudscape) - Backing Vocals
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011
OUTLOUD history dates back to the year 2004 when was founded in Athens, Greece.
Firewind guitarist and keyboard player Bob Katsionis realized that his then guitar pupil Tony Kash was coming up with some fantastic bone crunching riffs. Katsionis quickly added his Firewind colleague Mark Cross to play drums before recruiting Talon vocalist Chandler Mogel and Kash's best friend Jason Mercury completed the line up on bass.
The debut album 'We Rock You To Hell Again' was released in August 2009 and received massive feedback from the press and fans.
After successful tours and a companion national Greek TV appearance in front of more than one million viewers, the band inked a brand new deal for their sophomore release "Love Catastrophe", which was recorded in the Summer of 2010 and once again produced by Bob Katsionis and masterfully mixed and mastered by Tommy Hansen.
Claiming Riot, Skid Row and classic era T.N.T. as inspiration, it would be fair to suggest that "Love Catastrophe" actually has glimpses of the aforementioned bands along with everything from a rocked up Europe to Bonfire.
The important thing is that at no time do Outloud come over as a parody or tribute band for any act from the past, what they do manage is to take the vitality and vigour from that era and add elements of more contemporary bands such as (surprise, surprise) Talon or Firewind.
The one thing that stands out right away with the very first listen to this album is the band's penchant for excellent vocal melodies and strong, memorable choruses courtesy of the the very powerful and emotional vocals of Chandler Mogel.
Quite frankly, he sounds so much stronger here than on any Talon album that I've heard. With a very powerful Danny Vaughn / Michael Lee Smith (Starz), Joey Tempest (Europe) type of voice, many tracks have choruses that will get stuck in your head and will have you singing/humming them for quite a while.
"We Came To Rock" open fire with its anthemic chorus and hard rocking riffage. Really cool and solid.
Next track "Falling Rain" is just brilliant. A magnificently well crafted melodic hard rocker with a monster chorus, huge guitars and superb production. Killer tune.
The thunderous "Live Again" follows in a more speeded up pace, with a melting riff and big, big drums.
And now, one of the songs of the year: "Waiting For Your Love" is simply melodic hard rock perfection. A semi-midtempo gem with some AORish scent crowned by heavenly vocal harmonies and a terrific chorus. What a song!
The aforementioned tracks worth the disc alone. But Outloud has much more to offer.
The retro "The Night That Never Ends" adds great keyboards to the mix, the heart-wrenching ballad "Someday" is an awesome tune not cheesy at all, and follower "Underground" has a massive crunchy riff-driven backbone.
With "Isolation Game" the band explores a more contemporary territory, adding variation and style to the album.
"Clean Hands" is a very good '80s melodic rocker in the european vein, and last song, the title track "Love Catastrophe" combines melody with power featuring a killer guitar solo.
Outloud has delivered a terrific Melodic Hard Rock album here, that would've been a chart topper in the mid '80s to early '90s with the style and quality of their music, yet, it's still fresh enough to fit into the current modern music scene.
There are plenty of standout moments on this recording, Mogel offers huge vocal performances, while Katsionis and Kash's guitars are a joy throughout.
"Love Catastrophe" is a great collection of tracks packed full of biting, catchy riffs and excellent vocals. When you add to that a rhythm section that nails every beat to the floor and an excellent mix by Tommy Hansen what you have is a mightily impressive set of songs that camp in your memory and refuse to leave.
I can't recommend "Love Catastrophe" enough. Don't miss one of the MHR albums of the year.
01 - We Came To Rock
02 - Falling Rain
03 - Live Again
04 - Waiting For Your Love
05 - The Night That Never Ends
06 - Someday
07 - Underground
08 - Isolation
09 - Clean Hands
10 - Love Catastrophe
Chandler Mogel - Vocals
Mark Cross - Drums
Bob Katsionis - Lead Guitar & Keys
Tony Kash - Guitars
Sverd T. Soth - Bass
Compilation albums have become so commonplace that if you were to go and look at all the various ultimate/definitive collections, super hits, or the very best of, many would find out record companies have little remorse cashing in on an artist’s back catalog.
Very rarely will labels reach out to the musicians themselves to get their blessing or will have them submit some liner notes about what the songs have meant decades after they ruled the airwaves.
It can be a very difficult task for music fans in general trying to find a greatest hits album that encompasses every avenue a musician explored in their initial 15 minutes of fame.
A band can tell how well their hits hold up by the energy they put into their live performances night in and night out, and with a group the likes of FireHouse recently celebrating the 20th anniversary of their self-titled debut, see them go back to the very beginning - just like album title suggests, going "Full Circle" - re-recording their hits, definitely makes some people scratch their head.
At first glance it might be somewhat disappointing for die hard fans who wanted new material but there are a couple reasons that CJ, Bill, Mike, and Allen decided to go this route.
Reason one: re-recording the hits they can finally get the rights to their classic material back. Reason two (and probably the most important reason) is fans were coming up to the guys at meet & greets and frequently asking them – ‘Where can I buy your greatest hits?’
I’m sure many will call "Full Circle" a throwaway effort with none of the re-records living up to the originals but I’ve got news for anyone who will try and find a reason to pick the album.
FireHouse have always treated all their material with the greatest respect. They didn’t go into the studio to try and recreate the same production values, instead FireHouse took every song and used the best of modern technology to make them shine in a new light.
All versions are faithful to the originals, but with some new arrangements and updated sound, much more melodic rock oriented.
The original extremely compressed drums (which I love) were replaced by a more classic, live organic beats. And I like the result.
Bill Leverty has added a lot of new guitar licks and sounds expanding on it with several contemporary elements.
CJ Snare is one of those rare voices from that era who hasn’t burned out and hearing him belt out classic lyrics in practically same manner he did some 20 years ago is downright jaw dropping.
Granted voices do change over the years and even though Snare doesn’t quite have that high pitch he had when he was in his 20s he is still able to keep everyone in the palm of his hand.
Ok, now comes the 1 million dollar question: Is FireHouse’s "Full Circle" recommended?
When I first found out that "Full Circle" was going to be a re-recordings greatest hits album I was somewhat disappointed but after hearing the finished product I can say confidently FireHouse made the right decision with this release.
I don’t think any other band that’s been around this long could pull this off with the same determination that CJ and the rest of the guys had.
There is nothing boring or repetitive about hearing all 11 tracks on this album simply because FireHouse isn’t playing these tracks note for note like when a majority of fans first heard them in the early '90s.
This guys have evolved flawlessly even when the musical climate has changed ten times over, FireHouse have always managed to remain true to themselves and more importantly; to the fans that continue to go out and see them on tour.
At the end of the day I don’t really know if any of FireHouse’s peers could re-record their own greatest hits with the same enthusiasm and quality.
01 - Overnight Sensation
02 - Shake And Tumble
03 - Hold the Dream
04 - All She Wrote
05 - Love of A Lifetime
06 - Don't Treat Me Bad
07 - Reach For the Sky
08 - When I Look Into Your Eyes
09 - You Are My Religion
10 - I Live My Life For You
11 - Christmas With You
C.J. Snare - Vocals
Bill Leverty - Guitar
Michael Foster - Drums
Allen McKenzie - Bass
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011
This is the 'real one' with correct track 4
Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Queensrÿche is releasing a brand new album entitled "Dedicated To Chaos". This is their 12th studio album and was recorded in Seattle, the group's hometown, produced by Kelly Gray.
When asked about the overall musical direction of the new material, singer Geoff Tate says; "It's kind of like an 'Empire' record set 25 years in the future. It's a very listenable record. I think people will find it interesting to listen to on headphones, especially. There's a lot going on with it.
And there's definitely an emphasis on the rhythm section. Eddie [Jackson, bass] and Scott [Rockenfield, drums] have written a lot of the songs on this particular record, so it really showcases what they do, which is something very special."
Drummer Scott Rockenfield; "I added a lot of film score elements and sound effects into my drum work in this recording. Geoff and I have really spent a lot of time together redesigning the Queensrÿche sound. It's huge rock but with a great dance vibe to it, real modern dance. It's kind of like 'Rage For Order' through a time tunnel, bringing it into the now mixed with 'Empire'."
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this new Queensrÿche album, particularly in light of the above comments...
Well, "Dedicated To Chaos" isn't a dancey pop record nor an out and out metal album.
It is a modern melodic rock outing with some pop influences, some typical Queensrÿche-prog-like style, all counterbalanced with more aggressive hard cuts like "The Lie" or "LuvnU".
Interestingly enough, one of the songs that Rockenfield composed music for, the dark "At The Edge", is among the heaviest tracks on the album and is most like old school Queensrÿche.
One of the things you have to accept and understand [specially old fans], is the fact that Queensrÿche always try to explore new territories.
You like it or not, but you can't deny that "Dedicated To Chaos" is unlike anything out there. Take it or leave it.
And I take it.
This is a rock disc, original, innovative, complex but at the same time gently.
It isn't a concept album, it is focused on songs, some dark, some experimental, some modern, some rocking.
Many tracks definitely takes the path of the 'Empire' era, like the beautiful mid-tempo "Hard Times" or "Higher", while "I Believe" and specially the excellent "I Take You" are 'Rage For Order' sounding, but all peppered with a different, modern approach.
The trippy closing cut "Big Noize" has a strong Pink Floyd shadings to it.
But there also some songs really, really experimental, specially in the rhythm section, as "Wot We Do" or "Drive". This is 'new rock' guys, and very interesting. Open your minds.
"Dedicated To Chaos" is focused on songs than a concept, kind of like what 'Empire' would then become, and mixed it in with being modern in the 'Rage For Order' style.
The album has many commercial / regular rock songs on it, and some moments that are less immediately accessible, with a great baggage of sounds and effects and unusual rhythm section.
Production is top-notch, with a heavy dedicated work on the mix.
I predict a strong debate that will erupt among hardcore fans about "Dedicated To Chaos".
But think it's not necessary. Most '80s bands stick to their formula (and glad they do!) with their new albums, Queensrÿche just not.
They're always experimenting, pushing the boundaries, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. You like it or not.
In the case of "Dedicated To Chaos", I Do.
Dedicated To Chaos [Special Edition]
includes 4 bonus tracks
01 - Get Started
02 - Hot Spot Junkie
03 - Got It Bad
04 - Around The World
05 - Higher
06 - Retail Therapy
07 - At The Edge
08 - Broken [Special Edition bonus track]
09 - Hard Times [Special Edition bonus track]
10 - Drive
11 - I Believe [Special Edition bonus track]
12 - LuvnU [Special Edition bonus track]
13 - Wot We Do
14 - I Take You
15 - The Lie
16 - Big Noize
Geoff Tate - Vocals, Keyboards
Michael Wilton - Guitars
Eddie Jackson - Bass, Fretless, Bkg Vocals
Scott Rockenfield - Drums, Programming, Bkg Vocals
Parker Lundgren - Guitars
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Monday, June 13, 2011
Another one of those culturally significant bands from the '80s has jumped and lead forwarded with a new record.
Night Ranger is back with "Somewhere In California", the culmination of the group's work to this date and celebrates their 30th anniversary with everything the fans could ask for; melodic cuts and hard rocking numbers, returning to their classic sound with updated production.
After listening to the album I have to say it’s the perfect soundtrack for making a roadtrip.
Starts at full speed with the autobiographic and fresh sounding title track "Growing Up In California". This is a typical NR tune with lots of melody, screaming guitars and a contagious refrain.
You can keep your foot on the pedal with "Lay It On Me", a song in the style of their nineties material. A catchy melodic hard rocker with furious guitar riffs. For Night Ranger standards a very aggressive and powerful kick ass song.
"Bye Bye Baby (Not Tonight)" has sentimental feel wrapped up in a strong vocal arrangement and the hook of a big chorus. A track that reminds you the very earlier, anthemic Night Ranger.
"Follow Your Heart" offers a steady pace, a hard bluesy classic rocker in the Damn Yankees style, full of guitars and very, very american.
"Time Of Our Lives" is one of the highlights. It's one of 'those' lovely Ranger's tunes. Starts off as a piano ballad before building up to a big chorus and some solid, melodic guitar work kicking in. If this was 1989 this would be an instant huge summer hit.
"No Time To Lose Ya" is another winner. A pure AOR / Melodic Rock screaming for radio airplay. The chorus is SO eighties, so typical NR. You will love this. This is Night Ranger in its purest form.
One of my favorite tracks in this album is the brilliant "End Of The Day", a great melodic rocker with a tasty chorus and tight guitar lead, with great vocals by Kelly Keagy.
"Rock N' Roll Tonite" is exactly what you would expect: a fun anthem to rock; it's a rowdy hard rocker and gives the band a chance to put pedal to the metal, surely a winner in the live shows.
On the japanese bonus track "L.A. No Name", Brad Gillis finds space to show his virtuosity on the six-strings with taste and emotion.
This new Night Ranger album might strike a better chord with long time fans who were a bit disappointed with the so-called modern style of the previous 'Hole In The Sun'.
"Somewhere in California" runs more towards that anthem arena-ready sound that made them famous in the eighties.
This is solid, well-crafted classic melodic rock. Accessible, infectious and entertaining.
The clear, crisp production showcases the band’s musical talents and they build up a layered sound complemented with hot riffs and multi-part sing along harmonies that will stick in your head after a small number of spins.
A well balanced album mixing ballads with rockers, honest and fun.
01 - Growin' Up In California
02 - Lay It On Me
03 - Bye Bye Baby (Not Tonight)
04 - Follow Your Heart
05 - Time Of Our Lives
06 - No Time To Lose Ya
07 - Live For Today
08 - It's Not Over
09 - End Of The Day
10 - Rock N' Roll Tonite
11 - Say It With Love
12 - L.A. No Name [Japan bonus track]
Jack Blades – Bass, Lead & Backing Vocals
Kelly Keagy – Drums, Percussion, Lead & Backing Vocals
Brad Gillis – Lead & Rhythm guitars, Backing Vocals
Joel Hoekstra – Lead & Rhythm guitars, Backing Vocals
Eric Levy – Keyboards, Piano, Backing Vocals
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Thursday, June 9, 2011
HEAVEN'S BASEMENT born from the ashes of a promising British combo formerly known as Hurricane Party, and then Roadstar which was surprisingly dissolved after only two albums.
Apparently members had differences with their management, and decided to go under a new name from scratch.
Heavens Basement’s played their first live show in April 2008 and ever since then they have been busy playing their old skool brand of heavy rock across the UK and Europe where they have so far played over 400 shows including having the main support slot on Thunder’s UK & European tour as well as support slots with Bon Jovi, and memorable appearances at Bloodstock, Hard Rock Hell and Sonisphere festivals, not bad for an unsigned band.
After their self released EP debut in 2009, Heaven's Basement certainly managed to create a buzz. The band has been featured in Classic Rock Magazine and also two tunes from the EP have aired on the accompanied Classic Rock CD.
The band has seen a couple of line-up changes since they formed in 2007. The latest version has Aaron Buchanan (vocals), Sid Glover (guitar and vocals), Rob Ellershaw (bass) and Chris Rivers (drums).
Now they're presenting a brand new EP; "Unbreakable" (again, self-managed) with some tracks produced by legendary mutli-platium Grammy nominated U.S. producer Bob Marlette (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Stone Cherry, Alice Cooper).
Heaven's Basement sound and style reminded me a lot of the bands that came out of the late eighties, except heavier.
"Unbreakable" is a trashed-up guitar-driven release, chock full of hard bluesy, ballsy tunes that are extremely fun and enjoyable to listen.
Each track is full of swagger and attitude, packed with screaming choruses and tons of hot and vintage valvular guitar work.
Put in your mixer Thunder, Pink Cream 69, Crazy Lixx, an equal amount of Motley Crue, Skid Row and a dash of the very early Guns 'N Roses, and you have Heaven's Basement recipe.
This test-the-water 7 tracker EP finds the band stoked up, aggressive as marooned dogs, imbued of fiery melodies.
Bristling riffs and jagged, riotous hooks are their poison, and they shoot their songs out like desperate, last gasp bullets.
"Unbreakable" certainly got the energy. It is actually a disgrace that this is an EP only, since it could have made the perfect backbone for a full album release.
Heaven's Basement plays rough 'n ready Rock N Roll, hard and uncompromising. All songs are well written and performed, while production is great for an indie. It is incredible that this band remains unsigned.
These tracks were recorded when the group included two guitar players, both providing big thick and fast tasty sounding guitar riffs, while new singer Aaron Buchannan fits perfectly for this kind of material hitting some high notes, but sometimes has a glam tone to his voice.
This is honest good time R 'N R music, caustic, in-your-face, and demands to be played live. Following the success of their May UK headline tour, Heaven's Basement have announced they'll be appearing live at the UK's mighty Download Festival at the legendary Donnington site on the weekend of 10th - 12th June 2011.
Take note of Heaven's Basement and listen to this disc, it's pure Rock 'N Roll.
1 - Unbreakable
2 - Guilt Trips And Sins
3 - The Long Goodbye
4 - Close Encounters
5 - Paranoia *
6 - Let Me Out Of Here
7 - Leeches
Aaron Buchanan - Lead Vocals
Sid Glover - Guitar; Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals* (5)
Rob 'Bones' Ellershaw - Bass, Backing Vocals
Chris Rivers - Drums
IF YOU LIKE IT, BUY IT !
"Freak Flag" it's the much sought after fifth solo album from AOR icon Jeff Paris which was initially released in Japan only in 1998.
It was the follow-up of the experimental 'Smack', and saw the songwriter getting back to his AOR / Melodic Rock roots.
What made "Freak Flag" so special is that Jeff Paris - an excellent singer in his own right - invited some great vocalists to perform a part of the songs.
The first two songs were sung by Juno Roxas from the Australian band Roxus (known for their incredible 'Nightstreet' album) and show the songwriter at his hard rocking best.
Other vocalists include Neville MacDonald (Skin), Derek Davis (Babylon A.D.) and Rick 'Moon' Calhoun (Michael Thompson Band).
Of course Jeff sings a couple of songs himself, but for one reason or another the album sounds quite cohesive.
The guest vocalists were all very positive about the vibe on the album, as each of them performed the individual song in his own special way, making it something of his own, so to speak.
A great collection of songs, that were sometimes meant to be recorded by other bands.
This digitally remastered re-issue comes with the bonus track "Hygiene" (previously unreleased), which is a nice poppy melodic rock song to conclude the CD.
If this album is still missing in your collection, grab this chance to finally add it.
A great slab of Melodic Hard Rock.
01 - Love Me Do Me
02 - Invisible Man
03 - Tomorrow May Be Too Late
04 - Fuel To Your Fire
05 - Freedom Road
06 - White People
07 - Life Of My Broken Heart
08 - Let It Out
09 - Bottom Of The Barrel
10 - All Night Long
11 - Dancin' On The Ashes
12 - Requiem For Stevie Ray
13 - Hygiene [prev. ureleased] (bonus track)
Jeff Paris : Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Drums, Keys
Juno Roxas : Vocals
Derek Davis : Vocals
Rick 'Moon' Calhoun : Vocals
Nevil MacDonald : Vocals
IF YOU LIKE IT, BUY IT !
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Dynazty is another one of these hyped up and high steam metal bands to come out of Sweden, a country that has been notoriously releasing so many kick ass bands lately.
But if you think these guys just landed on the scene, well, not.
In fact in 2008 they worked with very well known producer Chris Laney and released their debut album 'Bring The Thunder' to some rave reviews around certain circles, mainly in Scandinavia.
Roll forward a couple of years and the band brought their show on the west coast as they recorded their new record "Knock You Down" in Los Angeles and mixed in Stockholm by the expert Chris Laney (again), the album speak of quality and top notch craftsmanship.
"Knock You Down" is a brand new chapter in the band's history as they're now under the protecting wings of Hollywood famed actor Peter Stormare (yes, pretty much the same story as what happened to H.E.A.T).
But do not expect this to be clean and fluffy rock in the vein of H.E.A.T though. Or a 'glammy / sleaze' stuff despite their name including Y's and Z.
Dynazty are strolling down the same path as usual with triple capitol "S" (Steelheart, Slaughter, Skid Row) as perhaps not main influences, but definitely inspiration.
Molin is the old skool powerhouse vocalist and Rob Love Magnusson likes to shred as in the good old days.
Anyway, there's some glitter on the fiery kick starter "Sleeping With The Enemy" and the chop-fueled "The Devil's Playground", both sitting nicely in with the more modern sleaze acts.
They're definitely at their best when they keep things nice and clean (read: old skool) on tracks such as the awesomely catchy "New Sensation" or the brilliant melodic rocker "Hunger For Love" with its addictive chorus line.
Another very retro numbers are the melodic anthemic title track "Knock You Down" (great guitar work), and the scorching "Wild Nights" sustained by a typically '80s riff.
There's also more strength and sharp tracks here, being the best of all "Throne Of China". The prowess of this song has a killer groove and a superb guitar shred reminiscent of some very old-school Dokken riffest, with Magnusson reminding me Jake E. Lee on the solo.
"Mr. Money" is another good one, a strongly guitar based hard rocker with a very contagious gang chorus and a live feel.
On "Brand New Day" and particularly "The Great Delusion" they sound like '90s Skid Row, less gritty but dark and deep.
Japanese bonuses include the acoustics "Too Much Is Not Enough" and "Stand As One", the latter exploding at the middle fully into electric, a very nice semi-ballad.
The best, and one of the highlights on the disc, is the uptempo rocker "One In A Million", with a contagious chorus and nice refrain, a pretty commercial tune featuring very good guitars.
Finally, as a special bonus, "This Is My Life", the scandinavian-only bonus track, also released previously as a single in their homeland. This song was last year's EuroVision winner (In Sweden), and Dynasty's version is really, really good, done in the best Skid Row power ballad tradition, with wide open vocals and extremely melodic guitars.
Dynazty have previously mentioned that they are not interested in sounding like an '80s band. Well, call their manager, because they're very very eighties for the most part.
The overall sound (superbly produced by Chris Laney) is Scandi-Melodic Hard Rock with a bit of sleaze, but the song structures, licks and most the choruses are definitely '80s-L.A. scene.
And that's not a bad thing, on the contrary, they're the best among the new wave of scandinavian MHR bands to capture the old school essence.
"Knock You Down" is a thoroughly enjoyable album, for the most part written and played in high level, featuring very cool choruses, fine melodies and some insane guitar shredding courtesy of Rob Magnusson. Don't worry about vocals because you have a very capable and charismatic lead vocalist in Nils Molin.
This record just jumps out at you and the title is so fitting because it really punch your ears.
01 - Sleeping With The Enemy
02 - Get It On
03 - Mr. Money
04 - Throne Of China
05 - The Devil's Playground
06 - Brand New Day
07 - Hunger For Love
08 - Knock You Down
09 - New Sensation
10 - Wild Nights
11 - The Great Delusion
12 - Too Much Is Not Enough (Japan Bonus track)
13 - One In A Million (Japan Bonus track)
14 - Stand As One (Japan Bonus track)
15 - This Is My Life (Scandinavian Bonus track)
Nils Molin - Vocals
Rob Love Magnusson - Guitars
Joel Fox Apelgren - Bass
George Egg - Drums
Mano Lewys - Guitar (live shows)
IF YOU LIKE IT, BUY IT !
Monday, June 6, 2011
Tour De Force (the American band) were pretty unlucky not to strike the good oil at a time in their career when they should've been big.
These guys had it all really: a vocalist who could sing his ass off, a sonic axe wielder in Palladino, and the man who puts the icing on the cake in keyboardist Alex Salz.
By the time "World On Fire" (1995) came out, Tour De Force had split.
All these tracks were recorded around 1989-1990 on pre-production demos form, but never released officially. Most of these songs become legendary in the AOR underground, and tapes were being passed around worldwide.
However, a fan in the position to resurrect the broken dreams and put the puzzle back in its place, acquired the rights to these recordings and released the whole bunch as "World On Fire" in Japan, in limited quantities (the album was issued later in Europe).
Now it's time for a re-release with a proper remastering, and I must admit the restoring job is superb.
This is an exceptional AOR / melodic hard rock album with mind blowing songs bordering the classic status.
TDF's sound is a blood rushing, pulse pounding, mind spinning sugar sensation that spans the fine tuning of Scandi AOR sound heavy weights such as Skagarack, Bad Habit or Da Vinci, blended with UK masters Shy and FM and some american commercial Melodic Rock style.
This is streamlined, classy MR / AOR that spins one hook after another in dizzying succession.
17 songs comprise the entirety of "World On Fire", including the much beloved lead-off "Tonight", penned by Michael Bolton and originally exclusive to the 1995 Japanese version. The song is golden, beautifully constructed with feather touches. A Bolton creation but made all their own. The elusiveness has lent quite a bit of fuel to its already blinding fire.
"Back To You" swirls the keyboards like water running through a colorful painting, bright and dazzling as the song hops along, blissful and self satisfied with a cheerful pleasantness.
The title track, "World On Fire" resonates with its sympathetic lyrics that etch out the need to break from the human race's 9 to 5 conformity. A lush, multi-faceted song that glimpses Giuffria in its sights and flaunts a flashy chorus among a rather typical rock structure.
"Coming Home" has the big ballad corner covered as it is a beautiful song that flutters on gossamer soft synthesizers, rich rounded vocals and a heartbreakingly gorgeous lyric.
"Hold On" is thoroughly Scandi made. The unarguable conviction, the daring verses and sugar instant sweet chorus makes for a song that is agonizingly wonderful.
"If It's Over" is another amazing lovely that finds a fiery heart to compliment its hushed quieter moments. Another fantastic chorus splits this open like a melodic dream.
"Sweet Adeline" leave you breathless. A potent track that one is, being an AOR masterwork that makes bedfellows of a dominant rhythm riff, a honey stinging chorus, and a cascading guitar solo that is bliss in electric beauty.
From now, the following tracks are from a second recording session, much more into the american style.
"Stranger in the Night" it's an in-your-face full frontal assault hard rocker with massive guitars. A very catchy track.
"Cruise Control" is an asphalt smoking urgent melodic rock that is caught between '80s Hagar-Van Halen and Foreigner's 'Rev It On The Red Line'. Thumping swagger, the push-pull give and take from the guitars make way for the surprising dynamite of its bouncing chorus. Eagerness and urgency pulse through like an engine humming.
"Shot Down" is a different beast than the candy coated AOR from the first tracks, although their link to that world shows through in peeks here and there in the flowing chorus. The rest of the song is aggressive, a tough guitar sound and a rocking demeanor. The guitar solo is six string '80s flashback full of fever and guitar hero glory.
"Rough Boy" is soft-ish, frolicky AOR that pours on the chorus like thick sweet syrup and the verses sensitive spun webs of spider silk. This one sounds very british, in the vein of FM or Shy.
Acoustic haunts the opening of "Runaway", a track about a teenager youngster that forsakes house and home for sake of survival. Cool tune.
"Wing And A Prayer" is a grandiose power melodic rock in the realm of Fifth Angel. Piercing guitars that shriek and swoop like falcons on the wing and an epic chorus gallops into epic anthem territory. Lightened a bit by a keyboard assault, this is a great song that shows another face to the band, but pulls it off with grace and ease.
"Lady Midnight" is a midtempo track that evokes forgotten lust as memories bubble and stir. The chorus is sharp and on point, the vocals heated and pleading.
"World On Fire" is a must have for any AOR / Melodic / Hard Rock fan.
If you don't have it, you need it, and if you do have a copy of the first release, you must check the revitalized sound of this reissue, as the remastering really had made a difference here.
A Must Have.
01 - Tonight
02 - Back To You
03 - World On Fire
04 - Coming Home
05 - Hold On
06 - If It's Over
07 - Sweet Adeline
08 - Strangers In The Night
09 - Cruise Control
10 - Shot Down
11 - Rough Boy
12 - Runaway
13 - One More Time
14 - Wing And A Prayer
15 - Lady Midnight
16 - Got To Know
17 - Forgotten Heroes
Chali Cayte - vocals
Christian Palladino - guitars
Alex Salz - keyboards
Bill Froelich - bass
Bill 'Blaster' Pauly - drums
IF YOU LIKE IT, BUY IT!
Gothenburg, Sweden based AOR band Osukaru was formed by ex Eye guitarist Oskar 'Oz Osukaru' Petersson.
The group made their debut last year - already presented in 0dayrock - with the album 'GBG2LA' (Gothenburg to Los Angeles). It was a nice AOR/Rock album with good songs, but Oz Osukaru wasn't completely happy with the singer and the production needed some more work.
Now Osukaru are back with a six-track EP called "Never Too Late" with new line-up, featuring a new singer named Carl “CJ” Johan that has given Osukaru a fresh air taking the band to a new level.
The ex Seven Tears and Platitude keyboard player Kristofer Von Wachenfeldt has also joined the band and delivers stunning keyboards.
Yes, everything is a lot better on this new offer, the songs, vocals and production gives this album a strong AOR sound.
Just listen the silky smooth title track "Never Too Late", reminds of Alias meets Bad English with wonderful melodies and the lovely Neal Schon sounding guitars.
The H.e.a.t sounding "City Lights" is a fantastic AOR-rocker with a perfect mixture of guitars and keyboards and the chorus will hook you up.
"Whatever It Takes" is filled with layers of keyboards and takes you back to the glory days of AOR with bands such as Signal, Alias and Tyketto in mind and it’s filled with catchy hooklines.
Then, there’s a new 2011 version of "Driven By Love" that was on the first EP, but this time around it sounds a lot better, a Journey-esque song with wonderful new keyboard arrangements.
As bonus are included a Radio Edit version of "City Lights" and a karaoke version of "Never Too Late", both from the forthcoming full-length album to be released this year.
Osukaru is definitely a new force to be reckoned with when it comes to high class Swedish AOR.
New vocalist Carl Johan has the perfect pipes for this kind of material sounding like Freddy Curci (Alias) mixed with Kenny Leckermo (ex-H.e.a.t) and veteran keyboardist / vocalist Kristofer Von Wachenfeldt adds class.
Together with the awarded Los Angeles born drummer Ryan Coyle precise beats, Oskar Petersson offers a great battery of melodic guitar sounds.
Osukaru has found the right road to follow and this new EP promises big things for the full-length album 'Salvation' that will be released in August. So if you have any doubts about this band after the debut I can assure you that this new one won’t let you down.
1 - Never Too Late
2 - City Lights
3 - Whatever It Takes
4 - Driven By Love (2011 version)
5 - City Lights (Radio Edit)
6 - Never Too Late (Karaoke Version)
Oz Osukaru: guitars, backing vocals
Ryan Coyle: drums
Carl "CJ" Johan: vocals
Emma Lee Gunnari: bass
Kristofer Von Wachenfeldt: keyboards
IF YOU LIKE IT, BUY IT!
Friday, June 3, 2011
Phil Vincent is a busy musician.
One of the most prolific recording artists of the last few years, he is the singer and keyboard player with TRAGIK and CIRCULAR LOGIK, and most recently; LEGION.
D’ERCOLE is another of his new projects featuring guitarist Damian D’Ercole which has appeared alongside Vincent in TRAGIK, releasing three records to date.
Damian supplies the bulk of the guitar work, Phil performs the vocals and keyboards, and the band is completed by bassist William Arnold and drummer Tane DeAngelis, plus some guests.
So if this is basically a collaboration between D´Ercole and Vincent, why is it not under the TRAGIK moniker?
Well, it´s actually quite different to the Tragik material, admittedly this album is more guitar oriented, it reminds you of when '80s Melodic Hard Rock ruled the airwaves.
The guitar riffs are crunching yet polished, and the overall sound is powerful and in your face. There are no ballads here, just 10 rockers but with plenty of variation and depth.
Vincent pared back on his responsibilities for this release and focused on just vocals and keyboards, where he typically plays guitar, bass, and everything else.
You’ll hear his contributions immediately on the first track "Desperate", where the flowing keys lead into a heated rhythm from guitarist Damien D’Ercole. Vincent admits that it is hard for him to escape the 'you sound like Don Dokken' references, but if true, then Vincent is similar to the Dokken of decades past, not the current one.
If you don’t hear some Scorpions guitar influences on "The Last Time", then you just aren’t listening. The opening is a huge 'thank you' to Schenker and crew, and then the songs veers off to the recent Winger sound. Vincent sings with a fluid anger, especially on lines like, “Do you remember, do you even care? I still remember, you were never there.” The guitars accompany Vincent’s words, sort of supporting that accusation, and all in all, it’s a cool as hell composition.
It’s not just the vocals that will remind of Dokken when you get to "Nothin’ To Me". D’Ercole is obviously a student of the masters, and he channels George Lynch on this opening guitar piece, razor-edged, intricate and full of menace. This song introduces some underlying keyboard sounds and D’Ercole’s solo is fat, bordering on neo-classical but never going over that edge, and the talent drips from every lick he throws at you.
"I Won’t Be Denied" is a cool track with edgy attitude and ripping guitars. Along with the previous track and the album opening 'Desperate' you get three of the stronger tracks on offer from 'The Art of Self Destruction'.
"Destiny" is my favorite track. A keyboard heavy, sort of like something Bon Jovi used to write when they were relevant, or, at least good. The true magic of this track lies in the multi-layered harmonies during the chorus. Haunting, like something the old Journey used to pull off.
"Don’t Wanna Be Like You" turns the harder, attitude-riddled vibe back up notch as you get a straight ahead full-on rocker. More of the Dokken sound comes to mind again.
"Gone But Not Forgotten" offers up a more melodic approach than the previous track but still maintains a rocking edge and features a good use of keys in the mix.
An album highlight is to be had on "It’s A Lie". The tune starts out with an old school guitar riff and proceeds to turn into a great rocker accentuated with some really cool guitar pyrotechnics from D’Ercole. The energy on this one is fueled by drummer Tane DeAngelis manic and brutal fills.
The album closes out with another favorite track; "The Deluge". You get some nice atmospheric and ominious keys swirl around Vincent’s vocals, and the keys turn into more of a synthesizer sound, pounding like an accusation, as the guitars fill the rest of the void. The song continues to build and crescendo to wall of passion and umbrage, especially when Phil sings, “You made your last mistake; now you’ll be lonely for the rest of your days.” Impressive vocal performance from Vincent. It may be his best of the record.
Phil Vincent has done it again people.
Under the new monicker of D´ERCOLE (after guitar player Damian) he has delivered another very good rocking album, this time chock-full of delightful hard rock songs.
"The Art of Self Destruction" concentrates on guitars rather than keyboards. There are some keys to support the arrangements, but this is all about massive guitars. Holy cow, sometimes they even seem to invade your room.
Of course 'the Vincent' sensibility for great melodies is never lost. I have heard some people compare this to Dokken and sorts, which is surely an indication of style. At least when they relate to the Dokken on top of their game.
Released at the end of the last year, this album will please everyone into melodic hard rock, get it and support one of the hardest working men in the business.
Melodic, guitar-driven and featuring mammoth choruses, "The Art of Self Destruction" is a damn fine ride.
01 - Desperate
02 - The Last Time
03 - Face To Face
04 - Nothin' To Me
05 - I Won't Be Denied
06 - Destiny
07 - Don't Wanna Be Like You
08 - Gone But Not Forgotten
09 - It's A Lie
10 - The Deluge
Phil Vincent – Lead vocals, Synthesizers, Piano
Damian D’Ercole – Guitars
William Arnold – Bass
Tane DeAngelis – Drums
David Zychek (Airborne) – Guitars on tracks 2, 7 & 10
William Roux (What Matters) – Guitars on track 3
Steven Albanese (Circular Logik) – Guitars on track 9
Shawn McGovern – Guitars on track 8
IF YOU LIKE IT, BUY IT!
For the first time in UK, STYX is releasing a local Greatest Hits Collection which mainly covers the band's classic and golden era from February 1976’s ‘Equinox’ album (represented by "Lorelei") and ending exactly seven years later with the release of ‘Kilroy Was Here’ ("Mr Roboto" and "Heavy Metal Poisoning" being the album’s showcases) after which (one live album aside) the band splintered and wasn’t heard of again until 1990.
The reformation album ‘Edge Of The Century’ is given a nod in the shape of the melodic power ballad "Show Me The Way" and from the very early days comes ‘Lady’, albeit here in its 1995 re-recording, only available in the USA.
Styx have always been masters at what they do, and so "Babe The Collection" is a comprehensive compilation and really hard to fault.
"Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)" and "Renegade" from the excellent ‘Pieces Of Eight’ will always be up there in my book, and songs like "Come Sail Away" and "Too Much Time On My Hands" are so contagious they should be quarantined.
I was quite taken with Malcolm Dome’s booklet notes, and the assertion that US pomp rock was a fusion of English prog and US AOR. It’s a good point well made.
Also with the statement that the band’s most famous song; "Babe", “showcases how you should write and record such a ballad with it not becoming too cloying”.
Styx never really meant that much in the UK (although "Babe" hit No. 6 and the heavily promoted ‘Paradise Theater’ album broke into the Top 10) but were spectacularly massive back home in America.
More recently though they’ve won a new audience in Britain, and it’s great to see them being appreciated at last. You see, there’s no such thing as ‘too late’…
Styx are touring in support of Foreigner and Journey this summer.
This excellent compilation covers the band's early (and best) years, and for people who missed Styx first time round and want the hits on one album, this is the real deal, it's a very cheap CD (£ 3.75 ~ 4.75) .
This is American pomp rock of the highest order, with an equal mix of ballads and rockers, and it lets newbies hear what all the fuss was about.
UK only release - All tracks remastered.
01 - The Best Of Times
02 - Too Much Time On My Hands
03 - Babe
04 - Boat On The River
05 - Come Sail Away
06 - Mr. Roboto
07 - Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
08 - Lady '95
09 - Crystal ball
10 - Renegade
11 - Lorelei
12 - Mademoiselle
13 - Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
14 - Heavy Metal Poisoning
15 - Shooz
16 - Snowblind
17 - Show Me The Way
18 - A.D. 1928
19 - Rockin' The Paradise
Dennis DeYoung – Vocals, keyboards, accordion
Tommy Shaw – Vocals, guitars, mandolin, autoharp, talkbox
James "J.Y." Young – Vocals, guitars, keyboards
Chuck Panozzo – Bass guitar, bass pedals
John Curulewski – guitars, vocals, autoharp, synthesizer
John Panozzo – drums, percussion
IF YOU LIKE IT, BUY IT !
Thursday, June 2, 2011
You don’t have to roam to the distant ends of the earth to find pure, undiluted melodic hard rock. Just look no further than FarCry, the band that dropped their critically-acclaimed debut back in 2009.
The band’s second album, "Optimism", is finally here and they have really stepped it up, delivering some of the best sounding, heartfelt, straight-up melodic hard rock albums released recently.
"Satisfaction" is the perfect track to kick this album into gear. It's an edgy rocker with a catchy melody combined with some slick guitar fills by Mr. Fry. The soft climb right before the solo has a very nice touch.
This leads into a very cool track called "Over and Over (Again!)". This one is a bit more melodic enhanced by a strong chorus, some absolutely tremendous vocals by Giovi, another tasty guitar solo by Fry and some very nice underlying keyboard support by maestro Eric Ragno (Takara, From The Inside, First Signal).
"Nothing You Can Do" is a more straight hard rocker with the rhythm section punching out some welcome aggression while singer Mark Giovi matches their hammer-it-home intensity by lacing his voice with attitude.
Then "Better Than This" is the album's only true ballad... absolutely perfect with Giovi's vocals reminding me a bit of that of Jon Bon Jovi. This acoustic driven tear-jerker, nicely builds into a powerful chorus that could compete with the best of them and the nice piano accents by Ragno really give the whole thing that added little touch of class... very nicely done and lyrically just brilliant.
"Love At First Sight" is my favorite track of the entire CD. This is a catchy, foot-tapping head-bopper melodic masterpiece, Giovi simply shines on this one and the powerful, upbeat melody is perfectly flattered by a magnificently executed chorus and a tight groove that I could imagine back in the late '80s would have been giving the likes of Bon Jovi or Danger Danger some serious competition on MTV. Just an incredible song that actually is a cover, originally recorded by a country artist by the name of Eric Michael Hopper.
It is followed by another butt-kicker in "Now That It’s Over", which brings a darker edge to the proceedings with a brooding verse that builds to a nicely-done chorus that really showcases the band’s overt ‘80s influence.
"Free" is an amazing track with its anthem-like chorus, it again reminds me a little bit of a Bon Jovi mid-tempo rocker through Giovi's delivery and accents. Even the lyrics themselves have a bit of that Bon Jovi-lyrical theme as well... very cool tune with nice keys an definitely amongst one of the best on the release.
"Best Of Me" is another highlight. This track perfectly blends a catchy memorable verse with a sharply executed chorus filled with layers upon layers of brilliant vocal harmonies, a thick, rich bass line carrying the melody and an additional layer of incredible keyboard fills to produce a song that's nothing less than an instant melodic rock / AOR classic. This song has anything and everything any fan of the genre could possibly ask for, and once more, it's all executed with a class and style that's plain and simply FARCRY.
Another winner is "Too Hot To Hold", which comes charging out of the gate with the pedal pinned firmly to the proverbial floor and races pell-mell to a ripping harmonic chorus. Fat bass sound and one of Fry's best guitar solos on the release.
Finally, "When The Lights Go Down" ends the disc in the form of a tight melodic rocker complete with melodic guitars, keyboards and a big hook.
I can't say enough about this release. The melodies, the arrangements, the production, the flow... everything a melodic rock / AOR fan could ever ask for all wrapped up in one, neat little package called "Optimism".
While the band as a whole is a tight, cohesive unit, a sizable chunk of credit for this mission accomplishment rests squarely on the shoulders of guitarist Pete Fry. As he fires off a string of fret-burning fusillades, you may find yourself wondering if he wears endothermic gloves to keep his fingers from bursting into flames.
No disrespect to the rest of the band, who handle their duties capably on the excellent rhythm section and vocal performance, but it is Fry’s melodic incendiary licks and scorching solos that elevate this album from standard-issue melodic hard rock to something that merits your attention.
With good albums like this being released, fans of the genre have reason to be 'optimistic', not just about the future of FarCry, but the future of melodic hard rock in general.
Definitely a high-quality offering.
01 - Satisfaction
02 - Over And Over (Again)
03 - Nothing You Can Do
04 - Better Than This
05 - Love At First Sight
06 - Now That It's Over
07 - Free
08 - Best Of Me
09 - Too Hot To Hold
10 - When The Lights Go Down
Mark Giovi - Lead Vocals
Pete Fry - Guitar
Ronnie Parkes - Bass
Tommy John - Drums
Angelo Mazza - Rhythm Guitar
Eric Ragno - Keyboards
IF YOU LIKE IT, BUY IT!