Monday, October 31, 2011

HOUSTON - Don't You Know What Love Is (2011)

HOUSTON - Don't You Know What Love Is (2011) CD single + extra

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Swedish AOR sensation Houston are releasing "Relaunch", a mini album of mostly covers on November 14.

The advanced single now available on digital stores is a wonderful cover version of Touch’s classic AOR song "Don’t You Know What Love Is", written by legend Mark Mangold, who also plays guest keyboards.
The 'b-side' "Without Your Love" is a brand new 2011 track written by band producer Ricky Delin and featuring Amaranthe vocalist Elize Ryd on duet vocals.
As exclusive preview, we could also hear another track from "Relaunch", the cover of New England’s celebrated classic "Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya", a terrific version if any at all!

Houston is getting better and better, taking the classic AOR flag with honor.
Highly Recommended.


1 - Don't You Know What Love Is (Touch cover, ft. Mark Mangold)

2 - Without Your Love (New Song 2011)

3 - Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya (New England cover)



Hampus 'Hank' Erix - Lead Vocals
Freddie Allen - Drums
Mark Mangold - guest keyboards, backing vocals
Elize Ryd - guest vocals




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ELECTRIC EARTH - Touching The Void (2011)

ELECTRIC EARTH - Touching The Void (2011)

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Swedes Electric Earth, who have been doing the rounds since 2001, are releasing they third full-length album "Touching The Void".
The band claims influences from the likes of Kiss, The Cult, Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, Soundgarden.
Indeed, the basic sound on this new album has fuzzed out '70s type grooves mixed in with some '90s hooks.
The music varies between thick doses of strong riffage and more melodic, but still heavy passages. They handle both approaches with the same amount of enthusiasm which makes the listen quite enjoyable.

The album starts with "Amplification", a hard rocker primarily focused on its radio-ready chorus. A cool opening track.
Follower "Black Butterfly" is also commercial, but too much modern rock for my tastes. Not bad, in fact the guitar solo is good.
With "Collision With A Sun" is where the album fully picks up. This ballad-esque rocker shows clearly his nineties influences such as early Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden. Definitely not a bad thing as both bands are the few of the grunge movement that really worth a listen.

Electric Earth offers some great melodies among the heavy riffing on songs like "Free Fall" with its contagious chorus and "Judge Me" which manages to force a myriad of riffs and vibes in to one song. The latter really does have everything that this band is about, being delivered with cosmic precision.
The seventies rock overtones are present through in songs like "Sugartooth" or "Harvest Time", while I hear some touches of vintage Black Label Society in songs as "Bird Of Phoenix" and "Skinstretched", where the chorus however goes in a totally unexpected, very melodic direction.
When they go for influences from the classic rock sphere, like the Ian-Astbury-singing-Thin-Lizzy "Need This Time" they deliver the goods. This is one of the best songs on the album, with hot guitars ala The Cult circa 'Love Removal Machine'.
Last track "Worries" is another good one, a rocking ballad with mainstream intentions.


"Touching The Void" is a good rockin' indie recording, combining old school sounds with nineties riffage and some modern sounds.
The grooves are probably the common denominator in most of the tracks, fueled by basic riffs but well structured to get the maximum impact.
These Swedes are better when they go for the classic retro style or the darker good sounds of the nineties than on their approach to the modern rock.
Well produced and recorded, "Touching The Void" offers some good rocking tunes to listen something different when you're in the mood.


01 - Amplification
02 - Black Butterfly
03 - Collision With A Sun
04 - Intermission
05 - Free Fall
06 - Sugartooth
07 - Harvest Time
08 - Judge Me
09 - No Sleep
10 - Need This Time
11 - Bird Of Phoenix
12 - Skinstretch
13 - Touching The Void
14 - Worries


Peter Gottlieb - Vocals, Guitars
Tommy Scalisi - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Lyris Karlsson - Bass
Draken - Drums





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Saturday, October 29, 2011

AUTOGRAPH - The Anthology [2CD] (2011)

AUTOGRAPH - The Anthology [2CD] (2011)

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Autograph, one of the most notable acts of the hair metal golden years, brings us from their vaults "The Anthology".
This double CD edition includes all the band's hits on their prime versions plus a bunch of rarities.

Disc 1 "Studio Demos 1983-1988" consists of almost 2 / 3 of the material appeared into Autograph's first three records: 'Sign In Please', 'That's The Stuff' and 'Loud And Clear'.
All these tracks are pre-production demos / earlier versions (with great sound), including their biggest hit "Turn Up The Radio". It's funny to hear this song with a twist in the lyrics.
The second CD "Buzz & Beyond" offers rare songs from the 2nd incarnation of the band when leader Steve Plunkett added to the line-up drummer Matt Laug (Slash), the excellent guitarist T. J. Helmerich (Dwezil Zappa, Planet X) and Alice Cooper / John Waite bass player Lance Morrison.

Released in limited quantities, in a luxury package with lots of never seen pictures of the band earlier years, this is a must have release to any collector and fans of the good, catchy hair / soft metal genre.



Disc 1 - Studio Demos 1983-1988
1. Turn Up The Radio (Demo Version)
2. Send Her To Me (Demo Version)
3. Nineteen And Non-Stop (Demo Version)
4. Deep End (Demo Version)
5. Friday (Demo Version)
6. All I'm Gonna Take (Demo Version)
7. Cloud
8. In The Night (Demo Version)
9. Angel In Black
10. All Night Long
11. Heartattack
12. When I'm Gone
13. I've Got You
14. One-Way Dead-End Street
15. Sanctuary
16. Sweet Temptation
17. Love Comes Easy
18. Angela


Disc 2 - Buzz & Beyond
1. Break A Sweat
2. Shake The Tree
3. She's The Reason
4. Fed Up With Bein' Down
5. That
6. Party Like We Did
7. Buzz
8. Like It Hot
9. Heart Raper
10. Can't Stop Rockin'
11. Turn Up The Radio (Unplugged)
12. Turn Up The Radio (Alternate Electric Version)


Steve Plunkett - Vocals, Guitar
Steve Lynch - Guitar
Randy Rand - Bass
Steven Isham - Keyboards
Keni Richards - Drums
T. J. Helmerich - Guitar
Lance Morrison - Bass
Matt Laug - Drums




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Friday, October 28, 2011

SEALEN - Deathly Silence (2011)

SEALEN - Deathly Silence (2011)

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SEALEN hails from Murcia, Spain, and finally after ten years on the road, they are releasing their debut "Deathly Silence".
Despite the album title and the apocalyptic cover art, this is not a Doom or Death Metal act, Sealen plays classy Hard Rock mostly influenced by '90s Euro bands.

"Deathly Silence" is based around the potent guitar riffs courtesy of Teo Martinez who also is able to play some interesting solos, and Damian Romero's strong vocal lines with a style somewhere between hard rock and traditional metal, yet melodic on many passages, specially on the more American oriented tunes. Sung in English (no accent in sight), Romero proves to be very comfortable on every note.

First track ''Fire & Ice" opens with a melting guitar riff and a melodic line resembling US metal acts as the harder Dokken. Interesting punctuating guitars during the verses and hard rockin' chorus.
"The Curtain Falls" is one of the heaviest songs on the album, and one the most modern sonically.
Follower "Dust To Dust" has a more late '80s classic Euro melodic hard 'n heavy style as Pretty Maids or Vengeance, including some clean guitars on the first part.
On "Desert Room" Sealen changes drastically the style of the their music. This melow tune is one of my picks of the album, an extremely melodic semi-ballad very close to Firehouse.

The hard rock returns with "Breath", a typically early nineties rocker, followed by the Americanized "Lady Killer" that reminds me Le Mans' second album.
"The Worst Days" starts as ballad including acoustics, but the tempo goes in-crescendo for the melodic chorus. Romero's vocalization has a hint of Bon Jovi here and the song includes a short but nice guitar solo.
The potent riffs return with "Can We Fight?", one of the best composed tracks by this guys, sadly the drums sound a bit disjointed (mix issues).
Title track "Deathly Silence" has an overwhelming sonority, again in a US metal style, but this time more instant and hot. Surprisingly, the guitar solo has an European metal vibe.
Last track is another ballad textured with clean electric and acoustic guitars, with all the band providing vocals at the end of the track.


Sealen is a good band with an interesting musical premise, covering many rock sub-genres.
This fact does not suppose that "Deathly Silence" has a confusing musical direction, not at all. The band just dropped all their influences into these songs, and the result is cohesive and effective for the most part.
They are competent songwriters and the musicianship is more than correct, specially the guitar work and the vocal department. My only issue with this recording is the production, a bit muddy and unclear, noticeable by a howling drum sound on several tracks.
But considering that "Deathly Silence" is a self-produced album (recorded and mixed by themselves as well) surely with a very low budget, the result is more than satisfactory for an indie.
The key always is to have good songs, and Sealen has them.
If you like '90s hard rock, both Euro & American, on "Deathly Silence" you'll find some cool material to enjoy.


01. Fire & Ice
02. The Curatin Falls
03. Dust to Dust
04. Desert Room
05. Breath
06. Lady Killer
07. The worst Days
08. Can we Fight
09. Deathly Silence
10. My last sigh


Damian Romero: Vocals
Teo Martinez: Guitars
Jorge Merono: Bass
Raul Romero: Drums








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KNIGHT AREA - Nine Paths (2011)

KNIGHT AREA - Nine Paths (2011)

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"Nine Paths" is the fourth album from respected Dutch band Knight Area.
They have garnered attention around the world, performing in North America multiple times as well as tours throughout Europe.
First of all, don't be fooled by the band's name, as they don’t play medieval / fantasy-based metal.
Knight Area is a wonderful Neo Prog combo blending progressive elements with Euro Melodic Rock.

"Nine Paths" is a blistering assault on the musical senses as the album covers a variety of sounds that all may not be heard without multiple listenings. The keyboards are superb, the guitars and bass mesh extremely well, and the drums accentuate certain passages excellently. The vocals are spot on, as Mark Smits has an amazing, perfect pitch singing voice.
And they have legend Neil Kernon (Queensrÿche, Kansas, Shy) producing, so expect a fantastic sound.

"Ever Since You Killed Me" is a spectacular opening statement, with soaring guitars cutting a swathe for the beefy keyboards to come cavorting through. Early (and I do mean early) Marillion is strongly evoked as a gentle piano line interjects the pompous beginnings, complimenting an enigmatic vocal from Mark Smit.
Garben Klazinga's keyboards continue to be a hugely influential feature running through the whole album, however the sharp riffs courtesy of Mark Vermeule make a stronger claim for supremacy as the album moves on, as is clear on the sharping six-string attack of "Summerland".

You'll notice an emphasis on straight melodic rock in "Clueless" - which has the catchiest chorus on the album - where prog nuances have been vacated.
Even the instrumental "Pride and Joy" sounds more like a rockin' tune, even though keyboards and guitar get into some serious duets and dueling.
Perhaps the clearest representation of melodic rock (also with some symphonic notes) is the incredible ballad "Please Come Home", where The delectable Charlotte Wessels of Delain joins Smit for a stupendous duet on ballad "Please Come Home". It’s a passionate, emotional and melodic piece.
Yet, those melodic rock notes arise in segments within other tracks as the larger sound created by big riffs over synths in the heart of "The Balance" or in the trepidation through the changing lines of "Wakerun".


"Nine Paths" is a great collection of songs with a balance of mood, atmosphere and feeling, packed with bags of melody oozing from every tune.
You’ll discover great instrumentation, excellent bass lines, proggy keyboards with loads of emotion and feeling. There’s also some well-played heavy riffs merged together seamlessly with lots of dynamics, variations and tempo changes. The vocals from Mark Smit give the songs an almost dream-like emotion.
The production from Neil Kernon is stellar. Every instrument is crystal clear and the vocals sound immense.
"Nine Paths" simply sounds great. The musical canvas is large and Knight Area fills it with color and imagination to entertaining effect.
A must have for fans of Melodic Rock / Progg = Neo Prog.
Strongly Recommended.


01 - Ever Since You Killed Me
02 - Summerland
03 - Please Come Home
04 - Clueless
05 - The River
06 - Pride And Joy
07 - The Balance
08 - Wakerun
09 - Angel's Call


Mark Smit – vocals
Gerben Klazinga – keyboards
Mark Vermeule – guitars
Gijs Koopman – bass guitar, taurus pedals
Pieter Van Hoorn – drums
Charlotte Wessels – guest vocals




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Thursday, October 27, 2011

DOOGIE WHITE - As Yet Untitled (2011)

DOOGIE WHITE - As Yet Untitled (2011)

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Doogie White, the busiest singer in the music industry, finally debuts as solo artist with his brand new album "As Yet Untitled".
He has recorded as lead or guest vocalist with more than twenty bands in the past three years, but now it's time for his own effort.
The Scottish vocalist came to the attention of the worldwide audience when Ritchie Blackmore asked him to be the lead singer in his reformed Rainbow, recording 'Stranger in Us All'.
Doogie would go on to sing with Yngwie Malmsteen for over a six and a half year period, record two albums and tour the world. He also recorded four albums and toured with Cornerstone and is currently the lead singer of Tank.

So now Doogie thought it was about time to record a true solo-album.
"As Yet Untitled" contains ten very strong melodic rockin' tracks, which Doogie has co-written with a number of good friends that he made over the years in the rock scene.
The list of musicians that have contributed to the album is without a doubt very impressive: drums are shared between Thomas Broman (Glenn Hughes) and Patrick Johansson (Yngwie Mamlsteen), bass between ex Whitesnake Neil Murray, Ted Nugent's Greg Smith and Paul Logue from Eden's Curse, and most of the guitars fall to producer Pontus Norgren (HammerFall) with a little help from British bluesman Phil Hilbourne, Royal Hunt/Evergrey guitarist Marcus Jidell and Tank’s Mick Tucker.

Opener "Come Taste The Band" has a flashy one and a half minute keyboard intro performed by ex Rainbow’s Tony Carey. This is not a Deep Purple cover, but obviously pays tribute to the classic band, one of Doogie's declared influences. Then the song blasts into a solid rocker with an infectious chorus and a catchy rhythm keeping the listener totally hooked. Doogie is supported vocally here by Patti Russo, who was heard on several Meat Loaf albums as a second voice.
The next song, "Time Machine", a tribute to AC / DC, has a riff that Angus Young would envy. White has attained comparisons to the late AC/DC vocalist Bon Scott, which is clear here and nothing to be shy about.

Some of the highlights of the album tops out with the streaming groove of "Dreams Lie Down and Die", and the more modern metal hooks of the stompin' "Lonely".
"Land Of The Deceiver" is classic rocker with some British-style epic, including a killer guitar duel. One of the best composed songs of the CD.
"Secret Jesus" it's about lost love (no religious lyrics), and musically has a strong hard rock riff reminiscent of Whitesnake. There's a slow mid-section that turns into a blistering guitar solo and a duel between Norgren and Hilborne.
"Sea Of Emotion" is a slow and moody track with some acoustic and clean electric guitars, while "Catz Got Yer Tongue" has a classic mould where Bon Scott comes to mind.
"Living On The Cheap" is a fun and catchy tune featuring Derek Sherinian on keyboards and a great drumming by Patrick Johansson.
Final track "Times Like These" is one of the best. A hard rocker with some progressive touches and tempo changes with great instrumentation. Doogie sings his best here, with passion and power.


Doogie White proves with "As Yet Untitled" why he is one of the more versatile vocalists in the business and why all bands requires his services.
His debut album includes 10 mighty fine melodic and still very hard rockin' songs with catchy choruses and flashy guitar work, which are the main ingredients that make this album a very enjoyable one.
Everything is well put together with a killer vocal delivery and stellar musicianship by all the musicians involved. The production was handled by Pontus Norgreen from Hammerfall who has provided a crisp and brilliant sound.
Several locations were used to complete the recording, which wound up being Sweden, Scotland, England and Florida.
At this point in his career I don’t see why White had to wait this long to release a solo album, but worth it.
"As Yet Untitled" rocks good, really good.


01 - Come Taste the Band
02 - Time Machine
03 - Dreams Lie Down and Die
04 - Lonely
05 - Land of the Deceiver
06 - Secret Jesus
07 - Sea of Emotion
08 - Catz Got Yer Tongue
09 - Living on the Cheap
10 - Times Like These


Doogie White - Vocals
Patrick Johansson (Yngwie) - Drums
Thomas Broman (Glenn Hughes) - Drums
Derek Sherinian (Black Country Communion) - Keyboards
Tony Carey (Rainbow) - Keyboards
Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Queen Musical) - Bass
Greg Smith (Ted Nugent) - Bass
Paul Logue (Eden's Curse) - Bass
Pontus Norgren (Hammerfall) - Guitars
Marcus Jidell (Royal Hunt) - Guitars
Phil Hilborne (Queen Musical) - Guitars
Mick Tucker (Tank) - Guitars
Patti Russo (Meatloaf, Cher) - Guest vocals





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GRONHOLM - Silent Out Loud (2011)

GRONHOLM - Silent Out Loud (2011)

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Another good album from Scandinavia hit the stores this month. Grönholm, from Finland, are releasing their second album "Silent Out Loud".
For those who have heard their first album 'Eyewitness Of Life' compositionally rooted in early progressive rock, this new CD is much more riff oriented, with a hard rock / prog metal approach and some down tuned guitars.
Also, the second half of the album features some prog nuances with acoustic and orchestral arrangements.

Opener "Cross Of Mind" is one of the highlights, a pulsating hard rocker with solid guitars and a catchy refrain almost with a melodic rock feel, typically European.
"Distorted Eyes" has a dark atmosphere but it is pretty commercial, while "Under My Star" is more dense with some classic British metal overtones.
"Vanity" has an intriguing progressive intro but then collapses under a heavy melancholy not completely convincing. Marco Hietala (Nightwish) sings here and does not seem to be comfortable.
But the band get back on track with follower "Out From the Nest", an interesting prog rocker where innovation merges with melodic sensibility for a true musical treat. The guest vocals of legend Billy Sherwood (Yes, Circa) are beautiful adding to the verses an enchanting effect.

Another good one is the catchy "Race Is On", a lighter yet still up tempo piece with some modern proggy AOR touches.
"Giant Step" is an instrumental tour de force led by Gronholm's guitar work; it's certainly a fine expression of his song craftsmanship.
Two short pieces follow. "Set The Stones" offers passionate vocals over simple acoustic guitar while on "Dawn Of the Dream", Gronholm takes up the acoustic guitar alone with superb results.
Finally, "Away" tunes out the heaviness present in the earlier part of the album, and builds upon piano over an symphonic motif. It's a beautiful piece, and likely one of the best tracks on the album.


Except a couple a tracks not completely convincing, "Silent Out Loud" is a a very listenable album. The songs are all quite immediate, and have enough of a repeat value that it’s enjoyable past the first few spins.
Mika Grönholm is a gifted musician and he really knows how to write some thrilling musical moments. Markku Kuikka has a dynamic vocal range and really complements Mika’s aggressive style of playing.
The production chores are skillfully handled by Janne Tolsa (Tarot) and Mika Grönholm himself. The rather dry sound gives the album a proper impact and propels the music forward.
"Silent Out Loud" is an entertaining and varied release that should appeal to people with a taste for well-written Euro melodic hard / prog metal.
Good one.


01 - Cross Of Mind
02 - Distorted Eyes
03 - Under My Star
04 - Vanity
05 - Out From The Nest
06 - Race Is On
07 - Giant Step
08 - Set The Stones
09 - Dawn Of A Dream
10 - Away


Mika Grönholm - Guitars, Basses, Synth, Backing Vocals.
Tom Rask - Drums
Markku Kuikka - Lead Vocals

GUEST MUSICIANS
Billy Sherwood (YES, Circa) - Vocals
Marco Hietala (Nightwish, Tarot) - Vocals
Zach Hietala (Tarot) - Guitar solo
Janne Tolsa (Tarot) - Synth solo
Michael Henneken - Backing vocals
Jasse Merivirta - Piano, Synths





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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

RICHIE KOTZEN - 24 Hours (2011)

RICHIE KOTZEN - 24 Hours (2011) full cd

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Richie Kotzen made his name as a guitar phenom at a very early age in his career, recording and playing with a variety of different artists, ranging from Hard Rock bands like Poison and Mr. Big to Jazz/Fusion groups like Vertu featuring legends Stanley Clarke and Lenny White.
But essentially, he has built an incredibly successful solo career continuously distinguishing himself from the shredder Shrapnel Records stable from which he emerged in the late '80s.
He’s moved on beyond the note fests, arpeggio calisthenics, and fusion workouts to embrace an earthier, soulful, more Classic Rock side of his personality for some time now.

On his new album "24 Hours", Kotzen gets deeper into his old school soul explorations. He has of course visited this territory before on past records, but on this new release, he managed to create a cohesive musical environment where heavy-funk, shred and blue-eyed soul co-exist in harmony.
This album also shows his evolution as singer/songwriter and as multi-instrumentalist aswell (Richie plays all the instruments) and even have reached a new level as guitarist, playing most of his solos without a guitar pick, just with his amazing fingers.
"24 Hours" magically illustrates how one can get really deep into the hard-funk without sacrificing power chords and an inspired, yet over the top (finger picked) shred solo.
It sounds like a one-man recording project, but it has none of the faults – as in a disparity in proficiency when switching to other instruments.

"Bad Situation", "Get It On", and the title track come right out of the classic heavy funk rulebook but with a twist. All are full of hypnotic, bitter-sweet hooks showing Kotzen making a new emphasis on diversifying his songwriting. He merges terrific guitar parts with old school piano sounds, while his soulful vocal stylings truly serve the stories.
On "OMG (What’s Your Name?)" he is also mining more classic rock styles than ever before with an eerily quirky synth solo, an inspired pay-off to ’70s prog / hard rock.
Check his nuanced, surprisingly versatile singing on "Help Me" and you will notice his evolution as performer, together with the jumpin' guitars and the pocket funk-rock drumming.
Add to this the high-voltage, stratosphere-bound guitar solo on "Love Is Bind" which tips the hat both to Hendrix and to the 60s West Coast psychedelia. He gets help from Jerry Cantrell (Alice In Chains) and Dogstar’s Bret Domrose on vocals here.

But it’s not all about the funk. Kotzen gets bluesy on the acoustic nylon stringed ballad "Twist of Fate". It’s a great vocal performance with an epic arrangement as he slowly builds the track, adding electric guitar, piano, and drums along the way.
Kotzen’s daughter August lends her chops on Wurlitzer piano and background vocals on the rocking "Stop Me". A very catchy song (as all on the album are); catchy chorus, nice vocal backing all complimented by the customary finger frenzy during the guitar licks.
"Tell Me That It’s Easy" is a stylistic departure for Richie. He dips into his more soulful roots on this track with exquisite vocals (supported again by August) and also finds room for some of the tastiest guitar playing he’s ever recorded. It’s one of the highlights of the record and shows his range as a composer, producer and guitarist.
The album closes with "Twist Of Fate" with its stripped down, bluesy introduction over acoustic guitar, building to almost anthemic heights.


"24 Hours" is the best Kotzen solo album ever, and one of the best Classic Rock albums recently released.
We already know he’s a badass on guitar and vocals, but as a producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, he just keeps getting better and better.
It all works. It all grooves. The production is clean, solid and organic. Catchy, hook laden, great musicianship; it's all there in shed loads.
Containing a diverse collection of great tunes soaked in emotion, "24 Hours" is a master class in how to write and deliver quality music.
Recommended.


01 - 24 Hours
02 - Help Me
03 - OMG (What's Your Name?)
04 - Get It On
05 - Love Is Blind
06 - Stop Me
07 - Bad Situation
08 - I Don't Know Why
09 - Tell Me That It's Easy
10 - Twist Of Fate


Richie Kotzen - Vocals, All instruments
August Kotzen - Piano
Jerry Cantrell, Bret Domrose, August Kotzen - Backing Vocals






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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SONIQ CIRCUS - Reflections In The Hourglass (2011)

SONIQ CIRCUS - Reflections In The Hourglass (2011)

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2011 so far has been a really good year for prog-related releases, but also has been the year in which mostly all the best rock music came from Sweden.
Soniq Circus are in that wagon and their brand new album "Reflections In The Hourglass" is simply brilliant.
When Soniq Circus' self-titled debut appeared in 2007 the band was then compared with A.C.T. and Saga. Since then the group has changed the keyboard player and songwriter / guitarist Marcus Enochsson took the microphone.
Now Soniq Circus style has evolved into a captivating mixture of classy prog rock blended with a melodic hard rock sound, not metal for sure, the edge is there but polished and lush.

"Reflections In The Hourglass" is a concept album about time and the events that somehow modify our lives.
The story involves a man who awakens at 3am and starts to think about his life and the decisions he has made. The journey takes us an hour of real time until 4am when the protagonist... I do not want to reveal more. But you can listen each track randomly and enjoy these great tunes perfectly.
We can find many memorable moments on this always interesting and never boring album, as the bombastic rhythms on "Inside the Hourglass 3 am", the dramatic intro to "Actor" or the soaring (awesome) synth solo in "Learning To Talk".
"Shadow Dance" distinguishes itself from previous titles by introducing for the first time some quieter passages and many sound effects to add variation.
More highlights include the one-two combination of the classically influenced keyboard piece "Childbirth" and the modern day epic "By The Heartshaped Lake", both conveying many different moods and atmospheres. Airy acoustic guitar, tight rhythmic virtuosity and sweet keyboard fills are what you will hear.
Last track "Outside the Hourglass 4 am" combines melody and a solid rock pulse with great vocals and magnificent instrumentation.


"Reflections In The Hourglass" has really captured me from the first listen.
It has a great concept, but the truly amazing thing here is the musicianship and the terrific melodies.
Soniq Circus plays progressive rock by the book with symphonic elements in their music, but with a crisp and shining hard melodic rock sound. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is another prog-metal band because it’s not.
Yes, you have potent riffs, fierce guitar / synth interplay and a bombastic rhythm section but all wrapped into one fine melodic line after another, with great vocal harmonies and eventful and clever dynamic arrangements. The production and mix is first rate.
Soniq Circus is a young band with tons of talent, do yourself a favor and don't miss "Reflections In The Hourglass".
Highly Recommended.


01 - Inside The Hourglass 3am
02 - Formula
03 - Actor
04 - Shadow Dance
05 - Childbirth
06 - By The Heartshaped Lake
07 - Learning To Talk
08 - Outside The Hourglass 4 am


Marcus Enochsson / guitar, vocals
Markus Nilsson / bass
Marco Ledri / keyboards
Christer Ugglin / drums




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Monday, October 24, 2011

J.R. BLACKMORE & Friends - Voices Part 1 (2011)

J.R. BLACKMORE & Friends - Voices Part 1 (2011)

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Jürgen Blackmore was born in London in 1964 as the son of guitar virtuoso Ritchie Blackmore and his German wife, Margit.
Raised in Hamburg, Jürgen received his first acoustic guitar at the age of 10, and with the encouragement of his mother, the little player knew early on that he would have a career in music.
After his own band 1990's debut 'Still Holding On' and an instrumental album, he was involved in several projects, being the most recent last year's 'EBC Roxx' (featured on 0dayrock) in collaboration with female singer ELA and the legendary Tony Carey, recording the CD called ‘Winners’.

In 2011 Jürgen started his own record and publishing company, to release his really first integral album; "Voices".
Entirely written by him, and with a tight band assembled with renowned musicians, Blackmore called the best melodic hard rock vocalists from Germany such as Oliver Hartmann, Michael Bormann, ELA, Dave Esser and more.
The oriental-style "Voices" opens the album with a mystical-sounding intro, and then develops into a classic hard rocker quite similar to earlier Rainbow. Singer Mark Engelstädter fits perfectly with a vocal tone resembling Swedish Mats Leven. Jürgen R. Blackmore has noticeably evolved with the 6 strings, palpable on his melodic and accurate legato phrases throughout the disc.
Follower "Guardian Angel" has a much more commercial approach, featuring one of the best singers recently appeared in Germany, the Rüsselsheim-born Oliver Hartmann.
"Beethoven" has an epic and (obviously) neo-classical structure, but Jürgen never lets the music go too heavy. Here comes the first surprise of the album; the lead vocals are at charge of Michael Bormann (Jaded Heart), singing in a style never heard from this melodic frontman. I am not completely convinced if it works or not...

"Destructive Mania" has the female vocals of the (unknown to me) Catherine Jauer, a more than interesting singer with powerful and articulated vocalizations.
On "Incomplete" Michael Bormann returns to the mic, and now yes, his melodic vocals appear and really fits this song, a very nice semi-slow melodic ballad with an inventive guitar work by Jurgen and a swirling keyboard solo. Sadly, to my ears, this track deserved a better mix.
Dave Esser does a good job on "Jeckyl & Hyde" imposting his deep and low tone on this good (although a bit generic) rocker, while ELA sings the dark "Nanshu" in a semi-symphonic style adding some variation.
For "Victorious", Engelstädter was again a right choice, he sounds as Mark Boals in places.
As bonus, last track "Dreams" is a fine instrumental piece taken from Jurgen's 'Between Darkness And Light' solo album.


J.R. Blackmore has released his more complete and consistent CD to date with "Voices".
Jürgen playing and songwriting has his father's genes not being necessarily a clone, but Ritchie's influence is undeniable, as well as Uli J. Roth, Steve Morse and many other classic guitarists.
As all albums featuring such diverse vocalists, some tracks work better than others, you need somehow a magic touch to choose the right singer for each track.
On "Voices", the result is successful for the most part, being specially Mark Engelstädter a revelation to me.
Nice and Classic Hard Rock melodies abound on "Voices", a correctly produced album (apparently only to be released in Germany) that worth to investigate.

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrock


1. Voices (ft. Markus Engelstädter)
2. Guardian Angel (ft. Oliver Hartmann)
3. Beethoven (ft. Michael Bormann)
4. Destructive Mania (ft. Cathrine Jauer)
5. Incomplete (ft. Michael Bormann)
6. Devil in Disguise (ft. Oliver Hartmann)
7. Jeckyll & Hyde (ft. Dave Esser)
8. Victorious (ft. Markus Engelstädter)
9. Nanshu (ft. ELA & Dave Esser)
10. We Are Rock´n Roll (ft. Dave Esser)
11. Dreams (Bonus Track - instrumental)


J.R. Blackmore: Guitars
Paul Morris (Doro, Rainbow): Keyboards
Danny Miranda (Queen, Meat Loaf): Bass
Charly Zeleny (D-I-O-N): Drums

Vocals:
Markus Engelstädter (Flash Queen coverband, musicals): 1 / 8
Oliver Hartmann (Avantasia, At Vance, Solo): 2 / 6
Michael Bormann (Jaded Heart): 3 / 5
Cathrine Jauer (First Child, Cat): 4
ELA (Ela Rocks, EBC Roxx): 9
Dave Esser (OpusDavi, Schattenspieler): 7 / 10









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www.musicload.de/j-r-blackmore-friends/voices/musik/album/11092079_2

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CITY BOY - Book Early [remastered] (2011)

CITY BOY - Book Early [remastered] Japan (2011)

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City Boy was one of the most underrated British acts of the '70s-'80s.
The Birmingham area band was the first major exposure of talented guitarist Mike Slamer (Streets, Steelhouse Lane, Seventh Key, Terry Brock).
Also, City Boy's earlier albums were produced by famous Robert John "Mutt" Lange (Def Leppard), his first international work after relocating to the UK from South Africa.
Mutt (a.k.a. 'Crisp Ears') became the seventh member of the band, helping the group hone their musical skills and assisting with City Boy's amazing vocal harmonies.

Their breakthrough came in 1978 with their hit song "5.7.0.5." (Mutt Lange's first hit single) and the subsequent album "Book Early".
The cut reached the Top 10 of the UK Singles Chart, achieving also a silver award for 200,000 copies sold, and also made the top 30 in the U.S., peaking at #27 on the Billboard Hot 100.
City Boy toured the USA in 1979 supporting the album playing a total of 66 concerts.
The material featured on "Book Early" is easily among the band's most accessible stuff, an enjoyable slice of commercially oriented pompy AOR.
All tracks are bright and energetic tunes with E.L.O. and Queen influences (specially for the elaborated vocal arrangements), pomp hints ala New England and a Eagles soft rock feel in some places.
Songs as the breezy "5.7.0.5.", the beautifully orchestrated "What A Night" or the meaty "Cigarettes" where Mike Slamer shines on the guitar, makes "Book Early" a very consistent album.

Luckily, the five first City Boy albums have been freshly remastered featuring a 24-bit treatment, and released as a cardboard sleeve (mini LP) that faithfully replicates the UK first press LP design.
This is the best way to discover (or re-discover for old school AOR fans) a very good band that never got a deserved attention, to appreciate Mike Slamer's talents on the six strings and check out why Robert "Mutt" Lange became the best rock producer in the years to come.
Great sound and package. Recommended.


01 - 5-7-0-5
02 - Summer In The School Yard
03 - Goodbye Laurelie
04 - Raise Your Glass (To Foolish Me)
05 - Cigarettes
06 - What A Night
07 - Do What You Do, Do Well
08 - The World Loves A Dancer
09 - Beth
10 - Moving In Circles
11 - Dangerous Ground

Steve Broughton - Guitar, Lead & Backing Vocals
Chris Dunn - Bass, Acoustic Guitar
Lol Mason - Lead & Backing Vocals
Mike Slamer - Guitars
Max Thomas - Keyboards
Roy Ward - Drums, Lead & Backing Vocals
Robert John 'Mutt' Lange - Bass, Backing Vocals, Production

Guest musicians:
Merle Anger - Guitar
Roy Babbington - Bass
Greg Mathieson (David Roberts, Steve Lukather) - Keyboards


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diskunion.net/latin/ct/detail/RT110608-CB-05
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Friday, October 21, 2011

SIGGI SCHWARZ & Friends - Still Got The Blues [A Tribute To Gary Moore] (2011)

SIGGI SCHWARZ & Friends - Still Got The Blues [A Tribute To Gary Moore] (2011)

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On 6th February this year, guitar legend Gary Moore died unexpectedly.
Now, South German guitarist Siggi Schwarz is releasing a tribute album which covers the entire spectrum of his work. As Siggi states in the liner notes, Gary Moore was (as with countless other 6-string enthusiasts) his biggest influence and who inspired him to play guitar.

Siggi Schwarz is among the most respected rock guitarists in his country, but he's far less known outside Germany.
Born in 1958, he played guitar in various bands and now works as producer / songwriter / arranger and has his own band under his moniker, touring Europe and recording.
The man also got excellent contacts in the international music business, so it is no wonder why he has brought to this project some really famous musicians.
On bass is Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Black Sabbath) who was part of Colosseum II with Gary and has also recorded on his album 'Victims Of The Future' (1983).
Geoff Whitehorn (Roger Chapman, Procol Harum, Paul Rodgers Band) plays add. guitar,
on drums is Bodo Schopf (Eloy) and Lee Mayall (John Mayall's nephew) on the saxophone.
Even on a guest solo we hear the master Steve Lukather (Toto).

These studio covers are really well arranged and played, benefited by a stupendous production.
Although the heavy-blues overtones dominates this recording, the hard rock is present as well as in the classic "Over The Hills And Far Away", where at the end is mixed with a children's choir giving to this version an interesting effect.
Very well arranged is the Thin Lizzy number "Don't Believe A Word". Siggi's take is oriented as how Gary Moore used to play this song live.
Other highlights are the beautiful renditions to "Over the Hills And Far Away", "Empty Rooms" and "Parisienne Walkways" where Lukather shines as usual.


Tribute albums had become popular lately, not always artistically successful due to the countless personnel involved.
The good about this one is that Siggi Schwarz & Friends really sounds and feels like a real, compact band. All the musicians involved are top players, giving soul and emotion to these songs. A special note goes to singer Tom Croel, who has done an incredibly good job on this CD.
"Still Got The Blues - A Tribute To Gary Moore" was recorded with a lot of heart and dedication, and technically (production and mix) is impeccable.
Gary Moore would have enjoyed this CD.
Good one.



SIGGI SCHWARZ & Friends - Still Got The Blues [A Tribute To Gary Moore] (2011) tracklist


Tom Croel - Vocals
Siggi Schwarz - Guitars
Geoff Whitehorn - Guitars
Neil Murray - Bass
Romi Schickle - Keyboards
Bodo Schopf - Drums

Steve Lukather - Guitar solo on 6
Lee Mayall - Saxophones
Tamas Füzesi - Additional Violins
Silvia Boenke - Backing vocals
Kids Of E Primary School Ulm - Choir on 10
Philharmonic Orchestra of the City of Ulm - Strings





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www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=8618369

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FIONA - Unbroken (2011)

FIONA - Unbroken (2011) CD

*

Eighties melodic rock fans surely remember Fiona Flanagan.
The U.S. singer with Irish roots scored moderate hits as 'Talk To Me', 'Hopelessly Love You' and specially 'Everything You Do (You're Sexing Me)", a duet with Kip Winger. She also appeared briefly as an actress and performing the soundtrack in 'Hearts Of Fire'.
After 4 good albums the lady disappeared from the scene in 1992.

I am sure few fans of the genre expected that almost 20 years after her last recording, Fiona will return into the music business. At the age of 50, the now wife and mother from New Jersey has her powerful and slightly husky sexy voice intact.
With the production and arranger team of House Of Lord's James Christian and the omnipresent Tommy Denander, Fiona is back with "Unbroken".
Most of the songs (there's two covers) were written by Fiona in collaboration with Christian, Denander and English writing team The Elements. Also one co-written with the respected Marc Tanner and another with '80s song-writing icon Holly Knight.

So we have a great team and Fiona in full potential: Is it "Unbroken" a winner?
It's a good melodic rock album, but also has its flaws.
Opening track "Loved Along The Way" is one of the best tracks of the album. Hearkening back to her earlier albums with a typical Tommy Denander touch (co-written with him), this song has an irresistible melody and a really good chorus.
But things start to dissolute for me with follower "Broken", an insipid rocker with some modern elements and to my ears, poor production.
Same with "I've Released You". This is one of the songs contributed by The Elements (who had written recently really good songs for Robin Beck and others). The style, the arrangements and the overall sound on this track does nothing for me.
Fortunately, "Shadows Of The Night" is one of the highest points in this album. On this Pat Benatar original we find Fiona doing justice to this good song (then and now), with passionate vocals.

Another really good one is the totally '80s "Badge Of Love" (co-written with Holly Knight), where Fiona feels at home with its catchy rhythm and infectious chorus.
The lyrics on "Wild One" are a bit odd by a woman on her fifties, but it really doesn't matters, as musically this is my favorite track here. Reminds you Fiona's first albums where Winger musicians used to be her back-up band, solid riffs and deep bass line ornamented with nice keyboards. Good guitar work by Bobby Messano as well.
The ballad "This Heart" has a pure eighties vibe and style, and the duet with Robin Beck really works harmonically. But somehow, the song lacks the spark necessary to be a great one.
"Get Yer Kix" is a simple hard rocker with some kick, but nothing spectacular. I can't believe this one was penned by the qualified AOR/Westcoast songwriter Marc Tanner.
"Salt On My Wings" is a heavier, darker rocker where the influence of James Christian is clear as this track has a House Of Lords trademark style.
The album ends in great form with a cover of Prophet's "Everything You Are", a fantastic mid-tempo ballad with a terrific refrain, a soaring chorus and a perfect guitar solo by Tommy Denander at the end.


Bridging the past with the present, Fiona is back with "Unbroken".
There's some really good '80s flavored songs on this album, where the lady sounds much comfortable than on the ones more modern oriented.
The good thing is that Fiona's vocals and attitude are still in top form, with power and sensuality. The not so good on some parts are the style/arrangements and the overall production, which lacks fire and emotion.
In my opinion, "Unbroken" has ups and downs, but definitely any melodic rock / AOR fan should give this album a proper listen and decide.


01 - Loved Along The Way
02 - Broken
03 - I've Released You
04 - Shadows Of The Night
05 - Badge Of Love
06 - Wild One
07 - This Heart
08 - Get Yer Kix
09 - Salt On My Wings
10 - I Love You But Shut Up
11 - Everything You Are

Fiona - Vocals
Tommy Denander - Guitars
Bobby Messano - Guitars
Dai Smith - Guitars / Programming
Paul Jones - Rhythm Guitar
James Christian - Bass, Backing Vocals
Jeff Batter - Keyboards
James Jamal - Drums
Robin Beck - Duet Vocals on 7, Backing Vocals


BUY IT !
www.amazon.co.uk/Unbroken-Fiona/dp/B005MZBXF4
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

STEEL PANTHER - Balls Out (2011)

STEEL PANTHER - Balls Out (2011)

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Steel Panther are back with the follow-up to their successful album ‘Feel The Steel’.
The kings of the parody of all of the '80s hair metal cliches will be releasing "Balls Out" at the very end of this month.
Criticized for degrading women with their lyrics and some 'bad attitude', the truth is that Steel Panther is inoffensive as a kitty cat.
They do not take themselves seriously and all listeners would take this approach to them as well.

The fact is Steel Panther's members aren't a joke at all. All are accomplished musicians with a substantial background.
The quartet began to gain popularity in the Sunset Strip at the beginning of the new millennium under the name Metal Shop (soon changed into Metal Skool, then into Steel Panther). The band did weekly shows on Monday nights at the Viper Room, playing covers of '80s hair metal hits while parodying the bands that made the songs famous. Despite presenting themselves under different stage names, two members of the band were already in major, important acts.
Frontman Michael Starr, using his name Ralph Saenz, had been in L.A. Guns publishing the 6 tracks EP 'Wasted'. Guitarist Satchel was part of War & Peace, founded by ex Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson, and the band Fight, founded by Judas Priest leader Rob Halford. He has also played in the band Electric Fence with Racer X members Paul Gilbert and Jeff Martin.

So, Steel Panther are not newcomers and they seriously understand the music business.
They offer a very well finished product, and apart if you like it or not, it is perfectly crafted for what it is.
And 'what' it is?
"Balls Out" is a debauched compendium of eighties hair metal, featuring hot guitar riffs, tongue-in-cheek lyrics, a blasting rhythm section and really good vocals for this genre, all not exempt of melodies and catchy hooks.
Then, take their lyrics (some of them really no-brainer) as a joke and enjoy the music, because if you like the good golden '80s Californian hard rock, there's plenty to enjoy on "Balls Out".

From the album cover looking as a wasted gatefold vinyl found in a bargain bin, this album exudes eighties culture (with the good and the bad that implies) in all aspects.
You have it all here. Steel Panther sometimes sounds like Warrant, then Mötley Crüe 'Dr. Feelgood' era, on places as Dokken. Even the intro track "In The Future" pays tribute to Mötley Crüe’s 'In the Beginning' (Shout At The Devil album), with a speech by Dane Cook (yes, the comedian).
On "It Won’t Suck Itself", one of the hair era icons, Extreme's Nuno Bettencourt, plays a scorching melodious solo.
A cliched retro-eighties album won't be complete without a cheesy piano ballad. You have it in all its glory on "Weenie Ride".


Steel Panther is a joke-band. But their musicianship and ability to write perfect retro commercial songs is not a joke at all.
They seem to execute this genre far better than a lot of ’80s hair metal bands did in their heyday. You have ripping yet melodic guitars, hooky choruses (with remarkable group vocals), catchy arrangements, cowbells, etc.
All sounds big and polished here, masterfully produced and mixed.
If you liked this style back in a day, "Balls Out" is a must have.


01. In The Future 01:27
02. Supersonic Sex Machine 03:09
03. Just Like Tiger Woods 03:40
04. 17 Girls In A Row 03:41
05. If You Really, Really Love Me 02:25
06. It Won’t Suck Itself 02:53
07. Tomorrow Night 02:57
08. Why Can’t You Trust Me 04:00
09. That’s What Girls Are For 03:38
10. Gold-Digging Whore 03:54
11. I Like Drugs 04:18
12. Critter 03:38
13. Let Me Cum In 03:29
14. Weenie Ride 04:19


Michael Starr (Ralph Saenz) - lead vocals, acoustic guitars
Satchel (Russ Parrish) - guitars, backing vocals
Lexxi Foxxx (Travis Haley) - bass, backing vocals
Stix Zadinia (Darren Leader) - drums, percussion, backing vocals

Nuno Bettencourt - Guitar solo on 6
Chad Kroeger - Vocals on 6
Dane Cook - Speech on 1
Joe Lester - Backing Vocals




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www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=8598196

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Monday, October 17, 2011

MAGENTA - Chameleon (2011)

MAGENTA - Chameleon (2011)

*

Magenta, one of the UK’s best-loved progressive rock bands, are releasing their fifth studio album, "Chameleon".
Magenta was born in the year 2001 as a one album project.
Rob Reed (a talented keyboardist and composer who had worked on several bands) decided to join Christina Murphy (now Christina Booth), an incredible vocalist that has a bit of Stevie Nicks with the brilliance of Annie Haslam plus of course her personal and unique style and release 'Revolutions', a double conceptual album. For that purpose they decided to hire some session musicians for the recordings. But the project was too big for that, and fans started to ask for live concerts, so they change the plans and form a permanent band.

With "Chameleon" the band is taken a new step in their career.
Known for blending the sounds of the seminal bands with symphonic overtones, this new album sees these creative musicians going more edgy and contemporary, definitively to Neo Prog.
Musically this is a very modern sounding release yet retaining the spirit of classic prog
As before, Rob provides the music for the album whilst his brother Steve Reed is responsible for the lyrics.

The sound is punchier, but the elaborate set pieces we've come to expect from Magenta are still in evidence and they've never been shy of integrating mainstream rock and pop sensibilities into their music.
On the short and accessible songs as "Glitterball" (with oriental influences) or the marching "Breathe" Christina sounds more youthful and buoyant then ever.
"Turn The Tide" is a beautifully painted ballad with classy guitars, while "Raw" has a dramatic temperament driven by the full weight of the band.
But the gem in this recording is "Book Of Dreams". Mixing edgy guitar and string sections with rich harmonies and exquisite acoustic interludes, in the middle part there's an uplifting choral work and then the song is re-build around a magnificent synth fanfare and Christina's energetic chant. From this point on, the guitar work evokes Steve Howe's '70s style and David Gilmour's bluesy touch.


"Chameleon" is a fresh and vibrant piece of brilliant Neo Prog that will hopefully gain Magenta a wider recognition. The music is more immediate and commercial than anything previously released by this talented band.
It was Rob's ambition to produce a modern progressive rock album and I feel he's succeeded in style. Certainly has all the right ingredients but above all else it's the spectacular guitar work and some enchanting vocalizations that really elevates this material into the realms of greatness.
It would be hard to classify an album with some 7 and 9 minutes tracks as commercial but this is as close to that description as I think Magenta will ever come.
Wonderful album.


01 - Glitterball
02 - Guernica
03 - Breathe
04 - Turn the tide
05 - Book of dreams
06 - Reflections
07 - Raw
08 - The beginning of the end
09 - Red


Christina Booth - vocals
Chris Fry - guitars
Rob Reed - keyboards, bass and guitars
guests:
Kieran Bailey - drums
Martin Rossert - additional guitars (3 & 7)





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www.magenta-web.com

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

GLYDER - Backroads To Byzantium (2011)

GLYDER - Backroads To Byzantium (2011)

*

Glyder were formed back in 2004 and hail from County Wicklow in Ireland.
With 3 albums under their belt, the band have established quite a little reputation on the live circuit from touring constantly with various world renowned artists such as Thunder, DIO, Gotthard, Y&T.
"Back Roads To Byzantium" is their fourth release after the band reformed earlier this year with three new members.

This new line-up all in their 20’s has added a new fire to Glyder.
New singer Jackie Robinson has a classy rock voice that sometimes hints at Paul Rodgers and Phil Mogg, full of warmth whilst still having the power to make you sit up and take notice. New drummer Des McEvoy and bassist Graham McClatchie have formed a formidable partnership, being both able to pound out some killer rhythms, as well as bringing a huge amount of emotion and feel to the music.
Often compared in the past to Thin Lizzy thanks to duel guitar riffage of founder members Bat Kinane & Pete Fisher, the band has now broaden their musical horizons with the new album.
Glyder are still operating close to the classic rock sound that has made them one of the most invigorating bands of the last decade, but this time they have also added elements of hard and even melodic rock resulting in a more mature and rounded end product.

From the start, you'll find that the band retains their Classic Rock roots, but with a touch of hard rock heaviness, as on the opener "Chronicled Deceit".
Yet, on the follower "Long Gone", a fast-paced rocker, Glyder tones things down for a more melodic rock, even AOR, sound.
Strong melodies, a superb rock groove, and playful and catchy hooks propel the songs "Fade To Dust" and 'Don't Make Their Mistakes', featuring strong guitar solos and indepth songwriting.
"Down And Out" has a plaintive guitar and atmospheric bass line, while the uptempo next track, the bluesy swagger of "Something She Knows", shows how the band have grown, with an accessible chorus and hook laden guitar motif giving this song a commercial tinge previously unheard in the Glyder cannon.
That's evident too on the pure radio friendliness and accessibility found on "Even If I Don't Know Where I'm Gonna Go".
New vocalist Jackie Robinson proves his talent and finesse on the acoustic driven closer "Motions Of Time".


Glyder are back in great form. "Backroads To Byzantium" sees the band delivering a Classic Rock album with an impressive sound plenty of verve, harmony and energy that instantly command attention.
The entirety of this recording is bolstered by solid song composition and skilled musicianship, with great melodic guitars, a terrific rhythm section (I love the cymbals sound here) and a classy vocalist.
This album has been crafted with attention and care in a manner that makes it familiar yet challenging and friendly yet fierce.
"Backroads To Byzantium" is the most pure Classic Rock disc heard in years, definitely one I'll be replaying time and time again.
Very Recommended.

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrock


1. Chronicled Deceit
2. Long Gone
3. Fade To Dust
4. Even If I Don't Know Where I'm Gonna Go
5. Don't Make Their Mistakes
6. Down And Out
7. Something She Knows
8. Two Wrongs
9. End Of The Line
10. Motions Of Time


Jackie Robinson – Vocals
Bat Kinane – Guitars and Backing Vocals
Pete Fisher – Guitars
Graham McClatchie – Bass
Des McEvoy – Drums





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www.amazon.com/Backroads-Byzantium-Glyder/dp/B005BY91UA

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

THE SLAM - Hit It! (2011)

THE SLAM - Hit It! (2011)

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THE SLAM is a new Hard Rock band founded by Canadian lead singer and guitarist Serge Simic, influenced by '70s / '80s acts.
The Slam draws on all manner of '70s / '80s hard rock influences such as Aerosmith and late Zeppelin, but the one that stands out most clearly is Kiss.
Serge Simic even looks like the bastard love child of Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons circa Lick It Up.
This quartet is all about energy, groove and having a good time. A vibe that resonates throughout their debut "Hit It!" from beginning to end.

Opener Wild Ride brings a steady pace and a heavier rock groove, but let's you know that The Slam is all sweat and swagger. The song has a classic hard rock feel with a nice chorus line in the vein of Little Caesar.
Next, on "Little Angel", the band recruit veteran singer Glenn Hughes (aka the Voice of Rock) for lead vocals. That's a strong endorsement for their sound, and the song delivers solid rock with a blues edge.
Hit It! goes from strength to strength on the next three tracks.
The pace accelerates, and the groove gets your toe tapping on "Bad Blood", which has more of a modern power rock sound with a heavier riffing and Simic's more aggressive vocal lines.

"Tears In The Rain" has an acoustic ballady build up. Simic loses his vocal rasp for a clear plaintive quality on the verses, before the driving guitars and a catchy chorus reel you in. It really is tailor made for melodic rock radio.
"Kisser" is pure infectious rock with its foot-stompin' beat, tongue in cheek delivery and Kiss inspired riffs.
The Kiss influence is even more noticeable on "90-50-91 Love" specially by the groovy riff that recalls 'Watchin’ You'.
"Saddle the Moon" offers big guitars. Some of Simic's most ripping 6-string work is present here.
"Mr. Rock N Rolla" starts off with a clip of KISS Alive! blaring in the background as a pissed off parent bangs on the door yelling for his kid to turn that crap down. Ah the memories.
The tune that closes the album is "Hooked On Rock N Roll", a bluesy grass U.S. track with a laid back acoustic guitar, a nice way to close this debut album.


"Hit It!" is a good, melodic and driving rock record that sounds at once quite familiar, but altogether its own animal. It offers classic hard rock in a tasty old-fashioned style, albeit with modern production.
There are no bad tracks among the bunch, and some very catchy and enjoyable ones in the mix. Simic's voice sets The Slam apart from new bands attempting the same sound. He has a delivery that conjures up images of hard rock's elder statesmen.
The production is analogue-clad with the feel of vintage vinyl grooves and the music smiles in a similar direction: party inspiring rock n roll with a modern hardrockin’ smell in the vocals and rhythm section parts.
The overall result shall leave you happy nonetheless if you’re mainly looking to have a good time.
Hit It! is an inspired debut by a band that knows the value of the past.
Nice 'n Rockin'.


01. Wild Ride
02. Little Angel
03. Bad Blood
04. Tears In The Rain
05. Kisser
06. 90-50-91-Love
07. Saddle The Moon
08. Push On
09. Mr Rock N Rolla
10. Hooked On Rock N Roll


Serge Simic - lead vocals and lead guitar
George Breed - rhythm guitar and backing vocals
Nik Marcos - bass
Mike Blacksmith - drums
Glenn Hughes - vocals (2)




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www.play.com/Music/CD/4-/22145311/Hit-It/Product.html

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Friday, October 14, 2011

MITCH MALLOY - II [retail] (2011)

MITCH MALLOY - II [retail] (2011)
Retail

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Mitch Malloy will be releasing "Mitch Malloy II" this month, his highly anticipated follow-up album to the RCA Records 1992s smashing debut 'Mitch Malloy', which scored three Top 20 hits.
Mitch says: "For years my core fans have asked me to give them another album full of Melodic Rock and I'm proud to say that Mitch Malloy II is just that.
For me, this is my real second album, the true follow-up to my major label debut, the record that I've wanted to make for a long time."

These days, Mitch is living the dream, creating the music he was born to make.
Last February, Malloy sequestered himself with the sole mission to take his self titled debut to the next level. He reached out to his peers and the momentum began to mount.
A dream-team of musical guests appear on "II", as Phil Collen (Def Leppard) who also co-wrote the song he plays on, "As Long As I'm With You". This track, a beautiful melodic ballad, has a deep and rounded classy sound.
"Falling To Pieces" is pure melodic rock bliss, from the verses to the trademark Malloy chorus. Same with the pumpin' and catchy "I'll Love You Still".

Mitch brought on Keith Scott (Bryan Adams) to co-write "Love Song", an extremely melodic track with resemblances of his nineties major debut, even to his '88' album.
The renowned Randy Goodrum joins on "Take It All", a soft tune with a classic rock sound, including organ and vintage guitars. This is one of the album's best tracks.
Other stellar guests includes guitarists Pete Lesperance (Harem Scarem), Keith Howland (Chicago, Rick Springfield), and for a flashback to the self-titled album, Hugh McDonald (Bon Jovi, Alice Cooper) appears on bass. Maestro C.J. Vanston (King of Hearts, Richard Marx) plays keys and co-wrote as well.
And for a vocal treat, Jeff Scott Soto, Bruno Ravel (Danger Danger) and AOR legend Brett Walker offered their voices to the choir on the rockin' "I'm The One", the first single.


"Mitch Malloy II" shows this gifted vocalist truly returning to his most melodious moments.
All the songs on this new recording have a real '80s / early '90s vibe, both in sound and songwriting. The harmonies, melodic guitars, keyboards - and essentially - his unmistakable (intact) voice, are all there.
Mitch teamed up with long-time friend and musical accomplice Victor Broden to co-produce.
The album will be available on physical CD for the first time during his highly anticipated return to Firefest Festival in Nottingham, England, on October 23, 2011, and on popular digital stores.
"Mitch Malloy II" is pure melodic rock at its best. Pure, classy Mitch Malloy.
Recommended.


01 - I'm The One
02 - Falling To Pieces
03 - I'll Love You Still
04 - Carry On
05 - Love Song
06 - On And On
07 - I Don't Know How
08 - Take It All
09 - What I Miss
10 - As Long As I'm With You
11 - Let Love Win
12 - All My Friends


Mitch Malloy: Lead Vocals, Guitars, Bass
Victor Broden: Drums
Keith Howland: Guitar
John Henry Trinko: B3 organ and Leslie
John Deaderick: Keyboards
Alessandro Del Vecchio: Keyboards, Background Vocals
Miles McPherson: Percussion

Guests;
Phil Collen: Guitar on "As Long As I'm With You"
Pete Lesperance: Guitar on "Falling To Pieces"
Keith Scott: Guitar on "Love Song"
Leo Lioni, Freddy Scherer: Guitars on "Carry On"
C.J. Vanston: Keyboards on "As Long As I'm With You"
Hugh McDonald: Bass on "What I Miss"
Randy Goodrum: Piano on "Take It All"
Jeff Scott Soto: Bkg Vocals on "As Long As I'm With You", "I'm The One"
Brett Walker: Background Vocals on "What I Miss", "I'm The One"

Add. Background Vocals: Tim Wheeler, Jim Larson, Paul Froelich, M.E. Morganteen, Jeff Lamprecht, Greg Berger, Niklas Zwingel, Danilo Musacchio, Chris Revie, Chris Siloma, Mario Percudani, Josh Zighetti





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Thursday, October 13, 2011

TOUCHSTONE - The City Sleeps (2011)

TOUCHSTONE - The City Sleeps (2011)

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British band Touchstone was formed in 2003 by keyboard player / vocalist Rob Cottingham and guitarist Adam Hodgson, and the current line-up was completed by bassist Paul Moorghen in 2006, vocalist Kim Seviour in 2007, and drummer Henry Rogers in June 2010.
The band released two EP and two full albums, was awarded as 'Best New Band' at the Classic Rock Society Awards in 2008, toured with It Bites and made prestigious appearances at such major American Festivals as the Rites of Spring in Philadelphia and CalProg in California.

I still remember the 2nd effort 'Wintercoast' being a good disc, but their brand new full length album "The City Sleeps" lift Touchstone's profile even higher.
This CD can be described as song-oriented album blending sympho and melodic rock, with many excursions into progressive territory and a lot of riffy guitar.
The bandleader is keyboardist Rob Cottingham (responsible for most of the compositions) who also sing lead vocals complemented with female young vocalist Kim Seviour. Bass player Andre Moorghen on parts of the album dutifully steps up next to Seviour to sing backing vocals, and the harmonized combination of male and female vocals is gorgeous.

The musical style is varied with intelligent twists here and there, from some serious hard rock guitar on "Throw Them To The Sky" through to the Mike Oldfield-approved musical build-up on "Corridors Epiphany", where each instrument comes in one by one.
"These Walls" is an enjoyable female fronted proggy melodic rocker, while "Good Boy Psycho" has an interesting lyric and suitable music to go with scary subject matter. This would make an excellent song for a horror movie soundtrack.
One of my favorites is the crisp "Horizons", a great tune which starts slow and melodic and then offers a razor-sharp catchy rhythm section of Rogers and Moorghen and a nice keyboard / guitar duel.

But apart from the shorter, more accessible song-based tracks, "The City Sleeps" gives the band space to shine on two epic compositions.
The notable "When Shadows Fall" is a really well constructed composition featuring a superb guitar work from Hodgson, some awesome proggy synths from Cottingham and beautiful vocal melodies that are commanding from Cottingham yet carefree from Seviour. Musically it is a prog rock track with many SFX, but during the chorus lands into melodic rock territory.
The other epic song is the magnum opus and title track "The City Sleeps" in which we hear contributions from the band's friend John Mitchell (It Bites, and also responsible for the mix of the album) playing a flaming guitar soloing, and Anna-Marie Wayne (daughter of actor Jeff Wayne) laying down a compelling narration in the middle. Kim Seviour reaches some angelic notes throughout the song, along with Rob Cottingham complementing each other very well over a tight rhythm section. A really great track.


On "The City Sleeps", Touchstone has successfully blended many styles as prog, melodic rock, pop and prog metal resulting in a cohesive product.
The album has a commercial, and dare I say it, mainstream feel that should make it appealing to a wide audience. The quality of the songwriting is really consistent and never gets swamped by complexity.
As said, the prog aura is always present, but with a commercial-sounding approach and some exciting departures venturing into more melodic rock areas.
There are a lot of female fronted prog rock bands out there, many not that great once you give them a few listens but Touchstone have the vocals, music and songs.
They can satisfy the prog rock fans, besides, if you are put off by the 'progressive' tag but like intelligent song-oriented rock, then check this album out.

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrock


1. Corridors (5:50)
2. When Shadows Fall (10:02)
3. These Walls (3:40)
4. Throw Them To The Sky (5:04)
5. Sleeping Giants (4:16)
6. Good Boy Psycho (6:47)
7. Horizons (6:38)
8. Half Moon Meadow (5:17)
9. The City Sleeps (11:40)
10. Corridors Epiphany (Instrumental) (1:56)


Kim "Elkie" Seviour - lead vocals
Rob Cottingham - lead & backing vocals, keyboards, programming, sfx
Adam Hodgson - guitars, sfx & artwork
Andre P Moorghen - bass and backing vocals
Henry Rogers - drums & percussion

Anna-Marie Wayne - Narration on 9
John Mitchell (It Bites) - Guitar solo on 9






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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

STEEL PANTHER - 17 Girls In A Row (2011)

STEEL PANTHER - 17 Girls In A Row (2011) explicit version radio edit version


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Steel Panther have gained a massive amount of notoriety with their brand of '80s Sunset Strip hair rock revival.
The band had their biggest break to date with the fun and hilarious track 'Death To All But Metal' from their 2009 release ‘Feel The Steel’.

Having already set the bar high, "17 Girls In A Row" - the band’s first single from their upcoming album ‘Balls Out’ - proves that Steel Panther are more than one-hit wonders.
This single delivers exactly what Steel Panther is known for and what late eighties music fans are certain to embrace.
From the very start, "17 Girls In A Row" exudes an attitude reminiscent of the best rockin' Motley Crue and Poison.

Guitarist Russ Satchel Parrish shows off his prowess once again with a perfectly fitting lead riff and impressive soloing, while Michael Starr owns his vocal performance, conveying personality and classic glam rock falsettos.
Steel Panther are the perfect band for metal fans who both appreciate and lament cliche '80s hair metal.
Regardless of your personal taste, "17 Girls In A Row" is a fun song to sing along with while you're pretending to headline the Roxy in skin-tight leather pants.
Party On.


01 - 17 Girls In A Row (Explicit Version)

02 - 17 Girls In A Row (Edited Radio Version)





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SOUL SECRET - Closer To Daylight (2011)

SOUL SECRET - Closer To Daylight (2011)

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Italy was one of the first European continental nations to pick up on the first group of progressive rock bands in the early seventies, and they produced more than their fair share of homegrown bands in the genre. So it should not be surprising to see the same thing occurring with the prog metal style.
One of the latest offerings is the young band Soul Secret, who released their debut CD in 2008.
After several tours and some line-up changes (new vocalist Fabio Manda and Claudio Casaburi on bass) the group went into studio to record "Closer To Daylight", to be published on November 21.

Soul Secret is another bright representative of classic contemporary Prog-Metal, but they go far beyond that tag.
These Italians sound like very good disciples of American living legends Dream Theater and Fates Waring, having scrupulously learned the peculiarities of their style and the subtlety of their performance technique as well.
On "Closer To Daylight", Soul Secret have taken these influences and have crafted and refined them in a way that would fit their own identity and forge their own sound. Apart from being creative, it also has great re-playability.

There are many elements here that sets apart the band from the typically Prog-Metal sound that will appeal listeners with more melodic approach.
For one thing, the keyboards are not underplayed or left simply in a supporting role. This recording is plenty of awesome synth solos strewn throughout the disc.
Of course, as well you have the meandering feeling you seem to get from this kind of music through hard-and-edgy avalanche-like arrangements, acoustically-driven interludes, dramatic transitions, technically complex-yet-flawlessly-performed both rapid and swirling guitar and keyboard leads (let alone an excellent ensemble playing in general), where there are no lack of clever themes. Both the guitars and keyboards come together fairly well without either of them following the same pattern.


Soul Secret's music is, as mentioned, squarely in the progressive metal genre but the eight tracks on "Closer To Daylight" also betray a certain depth and variety that I think will appeal to a wider fan base.
The band wisely blends relatively short songs with 7-8 minute tracks and a 16+ minute epic ("Aftermath" is terrific, featuring Subsignal's Arno Menses fantastic vocals). Each of the longer compositions has enough creativity though to stop most listeners from hitting the skip button on their CD players half way through each track.
The songwriting, for the most part, is commendable and impressive. Sure, Soul Secret rides Dream Theater's 'Images and Words' formula throughout their music, but it's so well done and enjoyable you can easily overlook it.
The instrumentation is stellar, the vocals colorful and very strong, some melodies truly memorable and the arrangements are really well put together, supported by a good production and mix.
It all adds up to a winner for Soul Secret, a more than welcomed new force to the melodic progressive metal scene.
Recommended.


1. Checkmate (5:51)
2. River's Edge (ft. Marco Sfogli) (6:48)
3. If (3:48)
4. The Shelter (7:52)
5. Pillars Of Sand (9:09)
6. October 1917 (3:34)
7. Behind The Curtain (8:46)
8. Aftermath (ft. Arno Menses) (16:43)


Luca Di Gennaro - Keyboards, Synths and Programming
Fabio Manda - Vocals
Antonio Vittozzi - Guitars
Claudio Casaburi - Bass
Antonio Mocerino - Drums and Percussion
Arno Menses (Subsignal) - Vocals on 8
Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie Band) - Guitar on 2





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Friday, October 7, 2011

V.A. - Advanced Releases sampler October 1 (2011)

V.A. - Advanced Releases sampler October 1 (2011) Chris Ousey, Doogie White, Stampede, Soul Seller, Bang Tango, Diemonds

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Heartland / The Distance / Virginia Wolf vocalist Chris Ousey is pleased to announce his long awaited solo debut CD "Rhyme & Reason" on November 11.
Chris has a knack of writing great lyrics and with Tommy Denander writing the music / co-producing together with Mike Slamer (also Guitars and Keyboards) the combination is just pure magic. This is just a dream-team, as Neil Murray (Whitesnake/Gary Moore) play Bass and Gregg Bisonette (Dave Lee Roth) Drums.
The advance single "Mother Of Invention" is a superb slice of melodic hard rock that will have you singing every chorus after the first spin.


Rydell & Quick is one of the most touring rock band in Sweden. They've held more than 3,000 concerts and broken audience records over 70 times at venues in Sweden.
Originally formed by Christer Rydell (guitars and vocals) and Malin Quick (saxophone and vocals), now the band is a five piece group.
They're an explosive modern Euro Melodic Rock combo nuanced with the heavy sax and female vocals of Malin.
After the successful album R.O.C.K.O.H.O.L.I.C (2006), now the band is releasing all over Europe the catchy single "All In Like A Rockstar".


Finally, R 'N R veteran Doogie White will be releasing his first solo album
According to a press release, "As Yet Untitled" is a collection of 10 dramatic and hard-hitting rock songs co-written by White and some good friends he has made over the years on the rock scene.
The album was recorded at various studios in Florida, Germany, and Scotland but most of the production was handled in Sweden with Pontus Norgren (who also plays guitars) at the helm.
"Time Machine" is the advanced single, a furious old school hard rocker.


UK hard rockers Stampede have recently been in the studio recording a special remake of "Shadows Of The Night", a track which was an old favourite and always a mainstay of their live set.
Although originally recorded live, both for a BBC In Concert session and at Reading Rock Festival in 1982 for the live Official Bootleg album, up until now Stampede had never recorded a studio version of the song.
"We wanted to do something to say a big thank you to our fans and to all the people that have supported us this year with the release of our new album" states vocalist Reuben Archer.
The band just kick off a series of live dates with US rockers Y&T, in support of their new CD 'A Sudden Impulse', released in May this year.


Singer/songwriter Jeremey Frederick is a platinum-selling songwriter (under his full name of Jeremey Frederick Hunsicker) thanks to his association with the band Journey – and a writing credit on the million-selling 2008 release 'Revelation' – .
The classy melodic rocker "Stay" is another of the songs to be included in his 1st full length solo CD, 'Every Little Thing', to be released this year.
Do you miss Steve Perry? Check Jeremey, it's amazing.
Join Jeremey's Kickstarter to help him get his album out:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jeremey/jeremey-frederick-every-little-thing


Jamie Allen (released 'The Storyteller' this year) has just written and recorded at his home an acoustic version of "Against The Ceiling", dedicated to Jani Lane, his family, and all Jani and Warrant fans around the world.
Allen words; "Against The Ceiling is simply me putting myself in the place of my hero, and favorite songwriter ever, Jani Lane, on the night that he passed away.
It was just my way of moving on, or my grieving process so to speak. Jani's words and melodies will live on forever!"


UK melodic rock band Sacred Heart ('Shake' 2007 and 'Darkness Falls' 2009) have ready their 3rd album 'Propaganda', to be released at the end of October.
The album's single is "Nothing At All", a very catchy melodic rock song that features some of the band’s sing-a-long stylings.


Italian melodic rockers Soul Seller announced that their international debut CD will be out on October 21, 2011 through Avenue of Allies Records.
Soul Seller are based in Northern Italy and appeared first on the scene in 1999. After the release of their debut album 'Underground Freedom' in the year 2000 the band went through some line-up changes until the current members finally found together in 2010.
The new album "Back To Life" was produced by Alessandro Del Vecchio (Shining Line, Lionville, Eden’s Curse) and includes a lead vocal duet with Oliver Hartmann (Hartmann, Avantasia).
Check their track "Wings Of Freedom", sounds really promising.


Swedish hard rockers Evergrey have confirmed the release date, November 28, for 'A Decade and a Half', a two disc Greatest Hits collection.
Since the band arrived on the scene with their first album in 1998, Evergrey have brought out eight studio albums and one live release. All of them made the top 20 in their native Sweden and the last two made the top 10.
'A Decade and a Half' contains previously unreleased songs, live tracks and their last single "Wrong", which received a gold award for over 10.000 sold copies in Sweden.
This single take of "Wrong" is different from the album version.


California rockers Bang Tango will release their new album, 'Pistol Whipped In The Bible Belt' this month.
The songs have a bit of influence from their nineties releases, a blend of pounding rythms and heavy groovy vibes.
Former Bang Tango guitarist Alex Grossi co-wrote the single "Suck It Up", a powerful hard rock track with a big riff.


One of Toronto’s hardest working bands is none other than hard rockers Diemonds. The past five years have seen the band touring endlessly, and pulling out all the stops on their live shows.
Front woman Priya Panda radiates the sexiness that is Tia Carrere in Wayne’s World but rocks like Axl in his ‘Appetite For Destruction’ heyday. She happens to be the cause of much excitement although that shouldn’t downplay her vocal prowess or the rest of the band’s killer music chops.
They have finished recording their 1st full-length album 'The Bad Pack' set for release at the end of 2011. "Take On The Night" is the storming first single.



01 - Chris Ousey - Mother Of Invention
02 - Rydell & Quick - All In Like A Rockstar
03 - Doogie White - Time Machine
04 - Stampede - Shadows Of The Night (2011 recording)
05 - Jeremey Frederick - Stay
06 - Jamie Allen - Against The Ceiling (dedicated to Jani Lane)
07 - Sacred Heart - Nothing At All
08 - Soul Seller - Wings Of Freedom
09 - Evergrey - Wrong (different single version)
10 - Bang Tango - Suck It Up
11 - Diemonds - Take On The Night



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Thursday, October 6, 2011

SARACEN - Marilyn [CD version] (2011)

SARACEN - Marilyn (2011)
CD version

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British pomp-rock veterans Saracen are back with a brand new CD album, their fifth to date, five years past their previous full-length effort.
Since their reformation in 2003, Saracen seem comfortable in crafting their releases into concept albums; much like its predecessor, "Marilyn" is indeed a concept album based in none other than cultural icon Marilyn Monroe.

Saracen's late ‘70s / early ‘80s pomp rock style has not changed in order to better accommodate the new concept chosen to explore: the upfront-epic keyboards of Paul Brabber are ever present, complemented by thick guitar riffs and melodies courtesy of Rob Bendelow, all topped by the hymn-like vocals of Steve Bettney.
They are helped in this adventure by, appropriately, some female singers including newcomer Issa Overseen (solo album, 'Sign of Angels'), but mostly by American singer Robin Beck. FM vocalist Steve Overland duets with her on one track as well.
Robin in particular, performs part of the vocals on a total of five songs out of eleven, effectively becoming a key contributor to this project.

Typical of Saracen, the album begins grandiose with the epic instrumental "Norma Jeane", a grand and lush arrangement with big keyboards which includes saxophone. The use of sax in hard rock can add marvelous character and flavor to a song (which I totally love in this album), returns on many tracks.
What follows on this work is varied, but marked always by Saracen's deft use of melody, harmony and hooks in every arrangement.
"Whither The Wind Blows" has some prog elements, with a strong vocal arrangements and a dense pompy instrumentation.
I do like the acoustic guitar Celtic-oriented "Hold On", warmly performed by Issa. A sweet melody, including again a very good sax solo.
"Make This Body Work" is a solid hard rocker with Robin Beck securely at the helm, while "Break the Spell" and "Unfinished Life" also rocks hard, but linked to the band's NWoBHM roots, adding more epic to these songs.
"Love Like a Razorblade" tones things down a bit, yet offers strong guitar and blues feel.

"Who Am I" is one of the highlights of the album, this duet between Robin Beck and Steve Overland start as a soulful ballad but after a couple of minutes explodes into a catchy melodicrocker and then slows again at the end. Really good one.
The more prog-folky "Not For Sure" gives me goosebumps because of the vocal performance by Robin Beck and the overall melancholic atmosphere of the whole song.
The cover of "Feel Like Going Home" offers Beck's soaring vocals again over lush keyboards, bass and drums with a moderate pace and a sad feel (certainly reflecting the lyrics). Strangely, the production and sound on this track is a bit low-fi.
A final mention to the last song, "Marilyn" finds Robin Beck lighting over in which seems to be an AOR friendly melodicrocker, but later turns to Saracen's signature pomp rock.
There's also a hidden (untitled) track (Marilyn II?), one of the best of the entire recording, a beautiful semi-ballad featuring all vocalists together: Steve Bettney, Overland, Issa and Beck, all providing wonderful harmony vocals through the emotive lyrics.


"Marilyn" is a very well structured album, musically varied and cleverly written.
While having chosen this original concept to build their new album, Saracen have not made any compromises in their musical approach (apart from the inclusion of the female singers).
The main music direction on "Marilyn" is melodic hard rock, with prog and strong pomp elements, where ballads and tempo breaks abound.
Lyrically, the concept is rather one-sided, concentrating mainly on tragedy, neglecting glamor and success which were arguably equally large parts of Marilyn’s social statue.
Never the less, guest appearances by Issa Overseen and Robin Beck establish a female presence that is absolutely essential to the character of the album, being the main point of differentiation for "Marilyn". Production could be better, also the mastering.
There is no denying that the musicianship is high on this album, very well arranged and with some stellar vocal performances.
Good One.


01. The Girl: Norma Jeane
02. The Orphan: Whither the Wind Blows
03. The Dreamer: Hold On (ft. Issa)
04. The Model: Make This Body Work (ft. Robin Beck)
05. The Actress: Who Am I (Robin Beck & Steve Overland)
06. The Wife: Love Like A Razorblade
07. The Patient: Break the Spell
08. The Mistress: Not For Sure (ft. Robin Beck)
09. The Forsaken: Feel Like Going Home (ft. Robin Beck)
10. The Witness: Unfinished Life
11. The Woman: Marilyn (ft. Robin Beck)
12. Hidden Track (ft. Robin Beck, Issa, Steve Overland)


Steve Bettney - Vocals
Paul Bradder - Keyboards
Rob Bendelow - Guitar
Richard Bendelow - Bass, Vocals
Paul Gibson - Drums
Snake Davis - Sax
Issa - Vocals
Robin Beck - Vocals
Steve Overland - Vocals





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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

STYX - Regeneration Volume I & II (2011)

STYX - Regeneration Volume I & II (2011)

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Legends STYX is like an endless touring machine, since last year, they are engaged in a once-in-a-lifetime tour, recreating two of their classic albums live: 'The Grand Illusion' and 'Pieces Of Eight'.
After an extensive US leg, they toured Europe last summer with both Journey and Foreigner.
At the end of 2010, Styx recorded "Regeneration Volume I", a seven song EP featuring new recordings of six classic Styx songs and one new track, originally ‘available at gigs only release’, not available on stores.
To celebrate this year tour, they went into the studio to tape "Regeneration Volume II", a seven newly recorded classics and two covers.
Now, October 4, both albums are available for the first time as a doble CD package.
"Volume I" was already featured here at 0dayrock, read details HERE.

Most of what you hear on "Regeneration Volume I & II" is included in the current Styx set, which shouldn’t be a surprise.
This is a great way to sample the current line-up that features true classic Styx members James “JY” Young on guitar/vocals and vocalist/guitarist Tommy Shaw.
The duo are joined by long time members in Canadian Lawrence Gowan (Keyboards / Vocals) - who took over for the departed Dennis De Young a number of years ago - and powerhouse drummer Todd Sucherman, with bassist Ricky Phillips (Ex - Babys, Bad English), who shares the stage with original bassist Chuck Panozzo on select dates.

You get some expected as well as unexpected classics here from the Styx cannon.
Tunes such as "The Grand Illusion", "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)", "Come Sail Away", "Renegade", "Blue Collar Man", and "Crystal Ball" are all songs that any Styx collection would not be complete without.
The band do a great job with note for note reproductions of these staples, and a few, minor changes.
Tommy Shaw still sings as great as he did 30 years ago, which you can plainly hear on "Sing For The Day", and Gowan does his fantastic Dennis De Young impression throughout.
Nice to hear cuts like "Lorelei", the hard rocking "Queen of Spades" and "Snowblind", as well as the folky "Boat On The River".

'JY' also proves that he can still rock out quite hard on his blistering track "Miss America", and the band even throw in a new tune here called "Difference In The World", a more acoustic based number with some great melodies and rich vocal harmonies, with Shaw especially sounding amazing.
As an interesting bonus, the band decided to do updated versions of two Damn Yankees hits (the band Tommy Shaw was in with Jack Blades & Ted Nugent back in the early 90's), the rocking "Coming of Age" and "High Enough".
These songs are true to the original recordings, and the Styx version of “Coming Of Age” surprisingly packs a nice punch.


No band can lose 3/5 of its core (including one of the original songwriters and singers) without growing into something new. But Styx still rocks with all of the vitality and working class gusto that made them superstars in the '70s / '80s.
It was necessary re-recording some classics with the new line-up? I think the answer is yes.
This is how these classics are today, with 2011 production values. Musically, the band has a more Melodic Rock approach.
The ever youthful looking Tommy Shaw and James Young are both in top form, while bassist Ricky Phillips is more than a competent sit-in for Chuck Panozzo.
Styx have reloaded, beefed up their sound, and they are still very respectful of the band’s legacy.
And that comes through loud and clear on "Regeneration Volume I & II", a great collection of superb songs with a new, interesting approach by these legendary musicians.
Very Good.


DISC I
1) The Grand Illusion
2) Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
3) Lorelei
4) Sing For The Day,
5) Crystal Ball
6) Come Sail Away
7) Difference In The World [New Track]

DISC II
1) Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
2) Miss America
3) Renegade
4) Queen Of Spades
5) Boat on The River
6) Too Much Time On My Hands
7) Snowblind
8) Coming Of Age [Damn Yankees cover]
9) High Enough [Damn Yankees cover]


James “JY” Young – Guitars & Vocals
Tommy Shaw – Guitars, Vocals, Mandolin
Lawrence Gowan – Vocals & Keyboards
Todd Sucherman – Drums & Percussion
Ricky Phillips – Bass
Chuck Panozzo – Bass





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