The Best AOR/Pomp album of all times? For many people, PROPHET's self-titled debut it is.
A fusion of '80s AOR and Melodic Rock with late seventies bright progressive / pomp rock, this album is pure gold from start to finish.
As in most albums of those styles, keyboards play a fundamental role adding to the complexity of the song structures. Vocal duties are handled by no less than three of the band's members, and one of them is Ted Poley (who of course would later front Danger Danger), who actually is the drummer of the band here.
Founder member Scott Metaxas (bass, acoustic guitar) also sings some lead vocals, and wrote or co-wrote every tune on this album.
Still, the highlight is the voice of the main singer, the gifted but underrated Dean Fasano (RIP).
All songs are top notch, superbly executed and brilliantly produced. Passion, melody and lyricism run throughout the album.
"Street Secrets" is a perfect example of Prophet's Pomp side. With Ken Dubman's big guitar sound, Joe Zujkowski (RIP) virtuoso keyboard playing and Dean Fasano's amazing vocals, this song is a gem.
The Kansas flavoured "Slow Down" is an outstanding ballad, while "Everything You Are" is another highlight, showing Fasano's vocal capabilities.
"Away From You" has all the AOR hit potential ever needed to make a band big, though Prophet never had the luck.
"Power Play" is an indisputable proof of the group admiration for the rocking Kansas and Styx. The musical break after the second chorus is just extraordinary.
Reissued again by Z Records with a brilliant remastered sound (with a well balanced gain), needless to say that Prophet's debut is A Must Have.
01 - Street Secrets
02 - Heart Of The Night
03 - Away From You
04 - Slow Down
05 - Power Play
06 - Everything You Are
07 - It's Real
08 - Sail Away
09 - Listen To Ya
Dean Fasano (vocals)
Ken Dubman (guitar)
Scott Metaxas (bass, acoustic guitar, vocals)
Joe Zujkowski (keyboards)
Ted Poley (drums, vocals)
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Friday, February 24, 2012
HOUSE OF LEAF marks the solo debut of one of Sweden’s most talented singers, songwriters and musicians: Leif Sundin. Among insiders, he is considered a singer’s singer.
Leif has been the lead vocalist of many a well-known bands since the start of his singing career. At 19, Leif fronted Swedish band Great King Rat. At 24, he was asked to join the Michael Schenker Group.
After MSG, he was the lead vocalist in John Norum Band, forging a creative relationship that still lasts. More recently, he provided lead vocals for the long-awaited solo album by ex-Thin Lizzy legend Brian Robertson.
Besides, the man wrote and sung backing vocals for acts as diverse as Andy McCoy, Talisman, Pandora, and dozens of other artists.
And now, it’s time for his own project House Of Leaf. Written and produced by Sundin himself, recorded and engineered with Robert Wellerfors, the album consists of the best songs he’s written over the years.
Sundin could easily have done a metal, a blues or a pop album if he wanted. This time, he chose to focus on timeless, rootsy, soulful Classic Rock with some Americana approach, using the pure sound of guitars, bass, drums and 'that' voice.
The opening track "Wrongs To Right" comes right at you with a catchy rhythm combination of guitars, keyboards and occasional harmonica. The sound creates a lovely, live, real effect, reinforced by Sundin's colorful vocals.
"Someday, Somewhere" features a heavier guitar intro and the structure brings to mind American great Tom Petty.
"Wash Away Yesterday" is a fantastic ballad featuring some beautifully poetic lyrics and a musical style similar to the recent Mark Spiro album. The guitar solo is deep and melodic surrounded by a Hammond organ.
Another great tune is "Rainy Day Song", aptly represented on the cover by a picture of raindrops running down a window. There’s a gentle acoustic guitar theme through the song that makes you want to get up and sway to the music.
"Follow The Light" ups the tempo again showing Sundin undeniable rock roots, on "Broken Old Record" the consistent use of acoustic guitars and Hammond infuses a more folksy feel, while "Steal Your Love" is a stripped-back song with emotional lyrics.
"Wrongs To Right" is classic and timeless Classic Rock. Even on hearing it for the very first time, it strikes a chord in your memory and you feel like you’ve known this music forever.
The album demonstrates the tremendous skill and experience of the musician behind it, and the fact that Leif Sundin is more than just an outstanding singer.
What makes this versatile multi-instrumentalist special is his aptitude to write heart warming lyrics that conveys the emotions of one's yearning and optimism all through music - music which can be described rock of ages.
Leif’s voice really suits the mood and tone of this album. It’s strong yet husky, mellow with an occasional hint of vulnerability.
If you liked the last Mark Spiro album, "Wrongs To Right" is right up your valley.
It’s organic, it’s real, and it’s based on performances, rather than studio trickery. Real music, and you can feel it.
01 - Wrongs To Right
02 - Someday Somewhere
03 - Wash Away Yesterday
04 - Rainy Day Song
05 - Follow The Lights
06 - Broken Old Record
07 - Steal Your Love (bonus track)
Leif Sundin - Everything
John Norum - guest Guitar
Brian Robertson - guest Guitar
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Thursday, February 23, 2012
Dutch rockers Vengeance have been around for thirty years, mostly remembered by their terrific 1989's album 'Arabia'.
Having gone through a lot of musical ups and downs, personal issues, the sudden and untimely death of guitarist and friend Jan Somers last year, you might say they have reached an all time low.
Founding member Leon Goewie has never given up hope on his band and that is a testimony to his enduring faith in the music he makes and the genre he loves so much.
With new players, help from some old friends and a new record company, a new era has kicked in for Vengeance with their new album "Crystal Eye".
"Crystal Eye" sensational all-star cast is just as spectacular as the new material. Alongside original vocalist Leon Goewie, this recording features drummer Chris Slade (ex- AC/DC, Asia, The Firm), guitarist Keri Kelli (ex- Alice Cooper), and bassist Chris Glen (Michael Schenker Group). This line up is also known as Chris Slade’s AC/DC cover band Steel Circle that plays throughout Europe.
The material for "Crystal Eye" was composed by Goewie mostly in collaboration with producer Michael Voss (Mad Max), except for the title track written by former Vengeance guitarist Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon, Star One).
The CD consists of 11 straight forward, kick you in the face Hard Rock tracks.
They all have that quality of being melodic, good sing along songs, with strong choruses while keeping that crunchy edge, do to Kelli’s guitar playing. Kelli is also helped by Michael Voss and Timo Somers (Jan’s son and also ex-Vengeance).
Even after 30 years, Goewie is still exploring and developing his vocal abilities as he already has a very unique recognizable voice.
As he sings in a lower register on parts of "Back To The Bone" and also the beautiful ballad "Missing", Gary Barden (MSG) comes to mind.
You have to strap on the seat belts for "Whole Lotta Metal", a number which Tony Martin (ex- Black Sabbath, Mollo/Martin) contributed tailor-made for Goewie and Vengeance, rocks you socks off. The soulful bluesy ballad "Promise Me" brings out the pain and more serious side of Vengeance.
The album closes with the instrumental, "Jan’s End Piece", which features the last solo recordings of Jan Somers as a tribute to him. Jan will not be forgotten as the band use the old Vengeance logo as an arch between the past and the future.
Vengeance is back with a more than solid Hard Rock album that sometimes goes for edged Hard 'n Heavy.
The Goewie / Michael Voss songwriting team hit it off big time on "Crystal Eye", as the tracklist is varied and always interesting.
Voss, who currently performs in the Michael Schenker Band with bass player Chris Glen, also produced the album, creating a sharp clear sound from which these songs really punch home.
The biting guitar work, hammering drums and pounding bass lines shows clearly the power and precision that Vengeance have captured on this new recording.
Being able to combine hooks plus accessibility with hard hitting riffs and powerhouse vocals, with "Crystal Eye" Vengeance have released an album that really is as impactful as it is surprising.
Very impressive indeed.
01 - Me And You
02 - Bad To The Bone
03 - Barbeque
04 - Shock Me Now
05 - Five Knuckle Shuffle
06 - Desperate Women
07 - Whole Lotta Metal
08 - Promise Me
09 - Crystal Eye
10 - Missing
11 - Jan's End Piece
Leon Goewie - Vocals
Keri Kelli - Guitars (ex- Alice Cooper, L.A. Guns)
Chris Glen - Bass (Michael Schenker Group)
Chris Slade - Drums (ex- AC/DC, Asia, The Firm)
Michael Voss - Guitar, Vocals
Timo Somers (Delain) - Guitar
Jan Somers - Guitar
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After the success that was the start of his solo career, Yngwie Malmsteen went through a lot of changes.
Having already mastered the art of electric guitar technique, on "Odyssey", his fourth album, Malmsteen honed his sights on mastering the art of songwriting, rounding out his neoclassical chops with superb melodies and catchy hooks.
Highly responsible of this is the mighty Joe Lynn Turner, who not only provides an outstanding vocal work, but also has co-written the songs bringing his ability to craft memorable tunes.
But it's Yngwie itself who has refined his songwriting on "Odyssey"; the main riffs are solid and rarely inflated, the vocal melodies demand most of the songs’ focus, and though he always throws-in a blistering solo, he confines it to a traditional bridge section rather than wanking all throughout the song.
"Odyssey" finds Malmsteen cutting synth-laden Melodic Rock tunes like "Hold On", "Crystal Ball" and the borderline hair metal hit "Heaven Tonight".
This is also the first record in which Yngwie did a real ballad with the excellent "Dreaming (Tell Me)". Also of particular note is "Dreaming", a delicate, expressive marriage of acoustic guitars and keyboards.
Balancing the disc we have powerful Melodic Hard rockers such as "Rising Force", the catchy "Riot In The Dungeons" and the marching "Déjà Vu".
"Odyssey" is one of the best melodic rockin' albums of the late '80s, and my favorite Yngwie ever.
Even if the title of a particular track slips my mind, I can always recall it just from the opening guitar line, as it usually mimics the chorus melody. Seems to me his critics need to find something to bitch about besides his arrogance: his songwriting on this album kicks ass.
Joe Lynn Turner shines on (in my humble opinion) his best recording ever, the Johansson bros. are amazingly trained beasts, and production is first rate.
Part of the Yngwie Malmsteen's Japanese 2012 SHM-CD reissue series, this "Odyssey" remaster sounds incredible; big, crispy and perfectly balanced. It really makes the difference.
A Must Have.
01 - Rising Force
02 - Hold On
03 - Heaven Tonight
04 - Dreaming (Tell Me)
05 - Bite The Bullet
06 - Riot In The Dungeons
07 - Deja Vu
08 - Crystal Ball
09 - Now Is The Time
10 - Faster Than The Speed Of Light
11 - Krakatau
12 - Memories
Yngwie Malmsteen – Guitars, Bass
Joe Lynn Turner – Vocals
Jens Johansson – Keyboards
Anders Johansson – Drums
Bob Daisley – Bass (tracks 1, 2, 8, 9)
Remaster produced by Universal Japan
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Monday, February 20, 2012
Limited Edition Digipak with bonus tracks
One of the most veteran British bands, legendary hard rockers UFO, are back with their 21st studio release entitled "Seven Deadly".
This is the fourth effort of the 2004 incarnation of the band including Vinnie Moore on guitar, and while the previous album was a tad too bluesy, now they've returned to UFO's classy Hard Rock style.
"Seven Deadly" really rocks, and it proves that forty-plus years after they first took flight, these guys can still bring the goods.
Phil Mogg never was an extraordinary shouter, but his unmistakable voice and style are UFO's trademark. Another reason to enjoy this album, as usual, are Mogg's lyrics. He is fundamentally, a storyteller, able to use colorful metaphors to intrigue.
Once again Moore displays a great feel for what the songs need, injecting a vital rockin' groove to the music, giving to this version of the band its own identity.
"Seven Deadly" hits the ground running with the classic-sounding riff of "Fight Night", and between Moore’s licks and Phil Mogg’s perfectly weathered voice, that track and the subsequent "Wonderland" serve up a pair of the hard-rocking tunes that put this band on the radar back in the day.
"Mojo Town" slows things down, but is actually one of the richest pieces of music on the entire album. Driven by a great groove, Mogg and Moore are at their best, while the rhythm section sounds delightfully heavy. Vinnie's guitar on this track is crunchy and melodic at the same time.
Ballads have been a UFO strong suit over the years, and "Angel Station" continues that tradition. This moody tune stands as the album’s emotive centerpiece. Mogg’s world-weary edge perfectly suits the song's theme of loss and acceptance, rounded by a soulful guitar solo.
"Year Of The Gun" is a gritty hard rocker with a catchy chorus and some nice organ from Paul Raymond, while "The Last Stone Rider" rocks again with a blues feel, featuring some hooky riffs sitting underneath another catchy chorus.
"Steal Yourself" reminds of Paul Chapman-era UFO from the early '80s mixed with some Bad Company, whilst Phil creates some very cool imagery on "The Fear", a rocker with some nasty riffs from Moore.
"Burn Your House Down" features great musicianship and a beautiful-sounding lead from Vinnie Moore. On this track, he continues to prove he’s more than a shredder. For fans who tend toward the Schenker-era UFO material, give this song a chance; there’s no reason for you not to like the playing on it. Vinnie is an amazing guitarist, and really shines throughout on this one.
One of my favorite songs on the CD is definitely "Waving Goodbye", a classic UFO ballad, complete with soaring melodies, sweeping organ, and a mix of acoustic & electric guitar riffs. Moore's solo is tasty as all hell, and it's clear he's really settled into his role here.
This digipak version of the album offers two bonuses; the groovy and classy "Other Men's Wives", and the good, intimate "Bag O' Blues", recorded in a retro way.
On this, album number four of the Vinnie Moore era, UFO have delivered yet another astounding, solid, classic Hard Rock record.
With "Seven Deadly", the band has returned to their traditional Hard Rock roots, yet still retaining some of that bluesy edge they seem to have incorporated over the last few years.
At his 63, Phil Mogg sounds better than ever, Vinnie Moore is sizzling throughout, Andy Parker is still pounding his kit as a teenager, and Paul Raymond adds his keyboard colors and occasional rhythm guitar, providing a solid rhythm section.
On "Seven Deadly", UFO have proved exactly why they are still going after all these years. The reason is simple. They still write great songs.
This is classic Hard Rock at its purest, and should end up as another feather in the cap for UFO. A superlative effort from the perennial rockers.
01 - Fight Night
02 - Wonderland
03 - Mojo Town
04 - Angel Station
05 - Year Of The Gun
06 - The Last Stone Rider
07 - Steal Yourself
08 - Burn Your House Down
09 - The Fear
10 - Waving Good Bye
11 - Other Men's Wives (Bonus Track)
12 - Bag O' Blues (Bonus Track)
Phil Mogg – Vocals
Vinnie Moore – Lead Guitar
Paul Raymond – Rhythm Guitar, Keyboards
Andy Parker – Drums
Lars Lehmann – Bass
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A new Hard Rock unit is hitting the scene this month, DEVIL'S TRAIN, presenting their self-titled debut.
This is a new project including well known names as Mystic Prophecy's singer Robert D. Liapakis, together with one of the most required German drummers; Jörg Michael from Stratovarius, and Finnish bass player Jari Kailunainen (also Stratovarius and ex- Evergrey). The relatively unknown Greek guitarist Laki Ragazas (Oliver Weers band) completes the international group.
At first glance, when I read the sheet with the musicians involved, thought about a metal band.
Well, not at all. Devil's Train plays traditional Hard Rock with an updated sound, with a style placed at the high end scale of the genre.
The first thing that surprised me was the tight sound and the stupendous production. Roberto Liapakis' vocalization is truly great here, delivering a varied and modulated performance, with a puissant melodious approach.
In fact, although the music is pretty heavy in places (specially the rhythm guitars), the prime direction of this band is the traditional, bluesy Hard Rock, with strong melodies and fine choruses.
The rhythm section is terrific, with Jörg Michael hitting loads of drums and Jari Kailunainen filling every hole with his fat bass playing. But the real surprise is lead six-string hero Ragazas. His razor licks dominates the recording, offering tasty fast solos and a monumental rack/amp setup sound.
They start the CD with a bang; "Fire And Water", a powerful track with little Southern influnces, but as heard on the rest of the album, Devil's Train is pure bluesy Hard Rock with an edge.
Think Whitesnake on steroids. And they write songs with a quality that easily match the white serpent's last albums.
Although most of the disc is uptempo and euphoric, you never get tired thanks to the good arrangements and solid instrumentation. They add a couple semi-slow tunes for good measure ("Forever" and "The Answers") balancing the disc.
An incendiary cover of The Guess Who's classic "American Woman" ends the album in great form, full of guitar layers including a melting wah-wah solo.
Devil's Train has recorded an extremely professional Hard Rock album, rooted in the classic style but with a hot modern sound & style.
Over the mammoth rhythm section and the wall of flavorful guitars, Liapakis adds to many songs 'that' characteristic Coverdale breath, reminding you Jorn as well.
Much of the success of this CD resides on the band's ability to write solid songs that rarely exceeds the 3:30 minute mark. And the very good production / mix, of course.
Devil's Train impacts at first listen, and the good thing is that you want back for more.
01 - Fire and Water
02 - Devil's Train
03 - Roll the Dice
04 - To the Ground
05 - Forever
06 - Sweet Devil's Kiss
07 - Find New Love
08 - Room 66/64
09 - Coming Home
10 - Yellow Blaze
11 - The Answers
12 - American Woman
R.D. Liapakis - Vocals
Laki Ragazas - Guitars
Jari Kainulainen - Bass
Jörg Michael - Drums
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BULLET TRAIN BLAST, one of the most promising Danish bands, is releasing their third album "Nothing Remains".
After the 2009 indie debut produced by guru Tommy Hansen, they published the EP 'Waste Of Time'. One cut of there was used by the local national television during the Football World Cup Finals 2010, securing the band a major exposure and slots on many European festivals, besides tours with Pretty Maids, Black Stone Cherry, etc.
Bullet Train Blast plays hot, energetic Hard Rock influenced by American bands, being the more recognizable Guns N' Roses.
New singer Martin Larsen has a raspy but powerful voice, with a distinctive tone. This is the kind of vocals that I like for this kind of material. Niels Hyttel plays meaty and melodic solos, but the real foundation of the band's sound are Steff Gunn's solid & melting rhythm guitars and the impressive rockin' drumming of Simon Brøchner.
The opening track "I'm Insane" clearly exemplifies what Bullet Train Blast is all about; uptempo guitar driving Hard Rock.
The song structure of "Running Away" adds some hair metal elements, but the sound of this band is definitely G'NR-Rock 'N Roll oriented.
"Queen Of The Night" is more compact, reminding me earlier Lynch's Mob. Here the vocals are a bit darker, and the guitars take a central role. Interesting song with a cool chorus and a melodic solo.
The title says all; "All The Girls" is a party track sonically in the vein of the first, good Guns, while "From The Underground" is a ballad with a modern rock mainstream intention.
"Bang Bang Bang" is one of my favorites, a blasting Hard Rocker with a catchy gang chorus, driven by a cascade of riffs and rhythmical drums in the Skid Row way.
The album turns a bit repetitive with a "A Life In Glory", but the next song, the title track "Nothing Remains" has a contagious toe-tapping pace, helped by the marching drumming.
"Nothing Remains" offers a good dose of energetic Hard Rock songs, nothing more nothing less.
This is Rock 'N Roll with Marshall amps turned to 10, but the sound, yet powerful and melting, is clean and defined, thanks to the fine production by Jacob Hansen (Rob Rock, Volbeat).
Martin Larsen is the perfect vocalist for this band, delivering an effective performance with nothing to envy from the biggest names in this genre. The guitars are big, with a valvular tone, while the drumming is solid and reverberated.
Bullet Train Blast needs to improve the songwriting to avoid repetitiveness, but sonically they're a blast indeed.
01 - I'm Insane
02 - Running Away
03 - The Storm
04 - Queen Of The Night
05 - All The Girls
06 - From The Underground
07 - Bang Bang Bang
08 - A Life In Glory
09 - Nothing Remains
10 - Dead Man Walking
Martin Larsen - Lead Vocals
Niels 'Niller' Hyttel - Lead Guitar
Steff Gunn - Rhythm Guitar
Morten Olesen - Bass
Simon Brøchner - Drums
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After the release of their anniversary album 'Branded' early in 2011, Bavaria’s finest rockers BONFIRE are surprising their fans with a second birthday party and a special present; "FireWorks...Still Alive! "
A quarter-century after its release, Bonfire’s sophomore album 'Fireworks', is still hailed as a bona fide classic in the Melodic Hard Rock genre and the only ones who would argue otherwise are those born without ears.
That album had it all: loud guitars, powerful vocals, big hooks, anthemic choruses…in other words, 'Fireworks' had the works, the kind of melodious hard rock magic that seemed so prevalent during the ‘80s.
The glorious decade may be long behind us, but Bonfire has decided to define the present by returning to their past on this special live album. Recorded at a string of concerts in Sweden, Romania, Switzerland and Germany, the album features nearly every song off Fireworks, including "Rock Me Now" which the band had not played live in over 20 years.
The sonic quality of this album is astonishing.
This is a live album for those who loathe live albums. If you’re looking for a raw, unpolished concert experience, then you probably want to exit this review and return to trolling the bootleg sites, because "Fireworks…Still Alive!" almost sounds like a studio album.
Like a criminal that doesn’t care if they get caught, this album makes no attempt to conceal the evidence of its post-recording enhancements.
The audience noise has been removed save for the very beginning and end of the tracks, allowing the songs to be appreciated in all their beefed-up power and glory without suffering the distraction of yelling and hollering and clapping and whistling from the crowd.
What this album really sounds like is a re-recording of 'Fireworks' with the songs being treated to a muscular upgrade, particularly in the guitars and drums department. In fact, while some might consider the following statement blasphemous, the songs sound better here than they do on the original album—they really are that much improved.
Even the gang backing vocals are still present, arguably too stacked to have been accomplished live, so perhaps sign of further post-recording tweaking, but one that works to retain the original structure, composition, and vibe of the songs.
A track by track rehashing of the songs seems pointless, as most Melodic Hard Rock fans have been cranking them up on a regular basis for over two decades now and are well aware of how great they are.
In addition to the Fireworks tracks, the band also included a live recording of "You Make Me Feel" from their debut, which is a decent tune but proves Bonfire didn’t really hit their stride until Fireworks.
Also included is "Just Follow The Rainbow", which appeared on the band’s last album and "I’m On My Way" is a emotional tribute to tragically-deceased Gotthard singer Steve Lee.
One of my favorite Bonfire tunes, "Sword And Stone" off the Shocker soundtrack, is served up with an extra dose of attitude from Lessman while the band just slams it out. Forget the original recording, this is the version you’ll be reaching for from now on.
If you shy away from live albums like a witch shying away from a burning stake, I beg you to give "FireWorks... Still Alive!" a shot.
Aside from some short snippets of audience interaction, what this really sounds like is a re-recorded version of Bonfire’s seminal Fireworks album, and while they say you can’t improve upon a classic, this release proves them wrong.
Bonfire was once considered the Best of the Best in the Melodic Hard Rock business and this updated trip down memory lane will make you remember why.
A Must Have.
You've seen it first here, at zerodayrock
01 - Ready 4 Reaction
02 - Never Mind
03 - Sleeping All Alone
04 - Don't Get Me Wrong
05 - Give It A Try
06 - Fantasy
07 - American Nights
08 - Obsessive Intro (inst.)
09 - Sweet Obsession
10 - Rock Me Now
11 - Champion
12 - You Make Me Feel
13 - Sword And Stone
14 - Just Follow The Rainbow
15 - I'm On My Way (live Gotthard cover)
16 - Let It Grow (edited studio cut)
Claus Lessmann (vocals, guitar)
Hans Ziller (guitar)
Chris Limburg (guitar)
Uwe Kohler (bass)
Dominik Hulshorst (drums)
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Formed in the Orust island, Sweden, MUSTASCH has been making noise from some time. After a 3-year hiatus they're back with the new album "Sounds Like Hell, Looks Like Heaven"
This is an experienced band which has released several albums generally tagged as Heavy/Stoner Metal, but on this new effort, their style and sound should be described as plain Metal. And a good one.
Shouter Ralf Gyllenhammar delivers behind the mic everything what a true Metal vocalist should; power, aggressiveness and attitude. But all controlled and focused. His band mates are tight and precise, creating a blasting, no-holds-barrel sound in the best Metallica tradition.
Some few stoner hints still can be found, but nowadays Mustasch seems to be more confident to deal with Thin Lizzy-esque influences.
Without wasting time, the album’s opener "Speed Metal" spits 100% the band's dynamics with a smashing wall of guitars. Don't be fooled by the track name, this isn't speed, just Metal that seems coming out from Metallica's Black Album or Loaded.
"The Challenger" continues in the same exponential pattern, spreading a frenetic pace and traditional riffs through it.
"It's Never Too Late" slow the things a bit, but for Mustasch standards does not means bland. It's a marching rockin' tune with a down-tuned riff. On "Morning Star" is where some stoner sounds emerge, with a retro style.
The groovy "Dead Again" blends the heaviness of the good Metallica (not the current crap) with classic Black Sabbath, while "Destroyed by Destruction" has a contagious twin-guitar attack.
On "Your Father Must Be Proud Of You" the band offers more variation, as this track is an accessible hard rocker, almost catchy in its essence.
Perhaps you're scratching your head guessing why a Metal band appears featured on this blog. Well, on "Sounds Like Hell, Looks Like Heaven" Mustasch delivers truly good, in-your-face, scorching Heavy Rock. That's why.
Not only of fine Melodic Hard Rock / AOR we should feed, it's always a pleasure to listen some well written and played Metal, and Mustasch delivers the goods. The production is first class, special mention to the incredible drum sound.
Open your years and enjoy the cracking rockin' CD that "Sounds Like Hell, Looks Like Heaven" is, the album Metallica should have been recorded after the Black Album.
01 - Speed Metal
02 - The Challenger
03 - It's Never Too Late
04 - Cold Heart Mother Son
05 - Morning Star
06 - Dead Again
07 - Your Father Must Be Proud Of You
08 - Destroyed by Destruction
09 - I Don't Hate You
10 - Northern Star
Ralf Gyllenhammar - Vocals & Rhythm Guitars
David Johannesson - Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Stam Johansson - Bass
Danne McKenzie - Drums
BUY IT !
thanks to Erik for the review
After a 5 year hiatus, one of Sweden’s greatest exports, HOUSE OF SHAKIRA, return to the forefront of the European Melodic Rock scene.
Their brand new album simply entitled "HoS" features 13 tracks chock full of pure melodic rock bliss that have made House of Shakira one of the biggest bands in the genre.
Since their 1997 debut, House of Shakira has put together a string of first class melodic releases, with the most recent being Retoxed in 2007. Over the past 15 years, the band have had their share of lineup changes and in 2012, things are no different.
"HoS" features former Mind’s Eye vocalist - and now also solo artist - Andreas Novak, taking over the mic duties and welcomes Basse Blyberg and Martin Larsson on bass and drums.
These new additions reshaped the band significantly and have provided a punch to the songwriting while maintaining that signature House of Shakira sound. For old school fans, vocalist Andreas Novak picks right up where former singer Andreas Eklund left off.
A transition to a new lead singer for a band that has such a highly regarded history would seem difficult to do, but House of Shakira have pulled it off magnificently with Novak and have surely set themselves up for continued success.
With a pumping opening bass riff, "HoS" immediately introduces the listener to new vocalist Novak as he sings his way through "Brick Wall Falling". Novak brings a sharper edge to the vocals and takes the band further away from the 'Journey Clone' stigma that has followed them since their debut, and now sounds definitely more European.
The fantastic musicianship of Hallstensson and Lundström is on full display throughout this release with plenty of crunchy guitar work and some stellar soloing. This is what separates House of Shakira from most bands in melodic rock today. The twin axe attack and brilliant songwriting by these two remaining original members is hard to match.
Without sounding too cliché, it is hard to find anything bad about this release.
"HoS" is full of upbeat melodic rock numbers, like ‘Changes in Mind’, ‘Fractions of Love’ and ‘Carry My Load’ that should be played at full volume while rocking down the highway.
‘Zodiac Maniac’, ‘What Goes Around’ and ‘I’ll be Gone’ are all perfect mid-tempo rockers and ‘Midnight Hunger’ is a flat out smoking hot tune with some killer guitar work. The background vocals are flawless on every track and helps keep that signature House of Shakira sound intact.
With only one true ballad, the acoustic ‘Lost In Transition’, that has a great guitar solo ending, "HoS" should please any fan of the Melodic Rock genre that likes their rock a bit more on the hard side.
Hopefully this really good album won’t be forgotten when it comes time for websites and magazines to make up their top-ten releases of 2012 as it surely will be one of them.
You've seen it first here, at zerodayrock
01 - Brick Wall Falling
02 - Changes In Mind
03 - Carry My Load
04 - Zodiac Maniac
05 - Fractions Of Love
06 - Midnight Hunger
07 - Endless Night
08 - All Aboard
09 - What Goes Around
10 - I'll Be Gone
11 - Voice In The Void
12 - Lost In Transition
13 - Out Of My Head
Andreas Novak: Lead Vocals
Mats Hallstensson: Guitars, Backing Vocals
Anders Lundström: Guitars
Basse Blyberg: Bass
Martin Larsson: Drums
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The Downtown Sessions audio
The deluxe-edition version of VAN HALEN's much-anticipated new album, "A Different Kind Of Truth", containis a bonus Acoustic DVD called The Downtown Sessions, which will contain acoustic versions of "Panama", "You and Your Blues (Intro)", "You and Your Blues" and "Beautiful Girls".
01 - Panama (acoustic)
02 - You And Your Blues (Intro)
03 - You And Your Blues (acoustic)
04 - Beautiful Girls (acoustic)
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The Cincinnati-based sextext FOZY SHAZAM, comprised of Nally (vocals), Loren Turner (guitar), Daisy (bass), Sky White (piano), Aaron McVeigh (drums) and Alex Nauth (horns), released its fourth album "The Church Of Rock and Roll", their 2nd in a major label.
Who are these borderline-animalistic guys who are lauded for their onstage presence and personas, antics and acrobatics?
There's something both politically incorrect and blasphemously charming about a band whose frontman holds an uncanny resemblance to V from 'V for Vendetta' with its pencil-thin moustache, chews a lit cigarette on stage, whose album art features the same band member staring into a projected crucifix, and whose mohawked keyboard player quite literally jumps on his musical instrument while playing it.
Well, Foxy Shazam are one of the newest sensations of retro-rock, playing truly seventies infused glam-rock at its finest.
Put the very early Queen, the glitter of New York Dolls and some Led Zeppelin riffs together, and you have what "The Church Of Rock and Roll" is all about.
On this extravagant homage to the holy temple of classic rock, the band blends vintage hard rockers with kistch pop melodies accentuated by singer Eric Nally Freddie Mercury-esque vocal attack.
The record starts right off the bat with the strong guitar riffs and a loud vocals of "Welcome To The Church of Rock and Roll", one of the most invigorating tracks on the record.
That lofty introduction promises enough to get anyone’s interest piqued, but what stands out most is that Nally wants to prove to listeners his band is different from the flock.
And different they are, as is evidenced by the first single "I Like It". The rhythm is jaunty, leaning heavily on a thick guitar part and Nally’s ever-changing vocal stylings. The gospel choir is present again, but this church holds no reservations – “That’s the biggest black ass I’ve ever seen / And I like it a lot,” goes the chorus. The guitar solo shows off the clout and swagger this band always brings to the table, and it leads into a back-to-back of two of the catchiest tracks on the record.
Fast-paced, conducive to toe-tapping, and complete with body-gyrating piano, "Holy Touch" sounds like it belongs on the '80's Ferris Bueller's Day Off soundtrack.
Next, "Last Chance At Love" is just one of those songs that is almost illegally catchy. It has tons of '80s comerciality all over, and here finally becomes obvious that Justin Hawkins, lead singer of The Darkness, produced this record. This song is what we all expected from this album; it hits hard, the guitar licks are fresh, and Nally climbs the rafters in the chorus.
On the blisteringly paced "Wasted Feelings" the guitars are accompanied by... a rockin' trumpet. Nally holds nothing back and the instrumentation is full on fire, inspired by the theatrical antics of Meat Loaf and The Who mixed with Queen's kistch. The track puts all of these things together, sounding like a ‘70s rock song written with the intention of being played during a prom night in the ‘80s. And it still would feel right on the radio in 2012.
Slower songs like "Forever Together" and "Streets" are just as fun as the heavier anthems, bringing catchy sing-along partss, soulful key taps, and vocal hums into a single dazzling entity.
The closing "Freedom" is built like a classic, anthemic rock-and-roll ballad, and Nally’s vocals adjust between low and high ranges to fit it nicely.
Utilizing unusual vocals arrangements for the actual musical scene, squealing electric guitars and retro sing-along choruses, this band and album does successfully what The Darkness attempted: bring back old-school rock and roll in all of its theatrical glory.
Foxy Shazam proved on "The Church of Rock and Roll" that it is possible - for a band with mainstream intentions - to produce tunes with the same steam that the magical 1970s possessed.
I encourage all fans of classic, retro Rock And Roll to give the entire album a listen, it's fun, cool and refreshing.
01 - Welcome To The Church Of Rock And Roll
02 - I Like It
03 - Holy Touch
04 - Last Chance At Love
05 - Forever Together
06 - (It's) Too Late Baby
07 - I Wanna Be Yours
08 - Wasted Feelings
09 - The Temple
10 - The Streets
11 - Freedom
Eric Nally - Vocals
Loren Turner - GuitarA
Sky White - Keyboards
Daisy - Bass
Alex Nauth - Horns
Aaron McVeigh - Drums
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Friday, February 10, 2012
The Swedish / American combo OSUKARU finally hit the streets with their full length debut album "Salvation" on February 15th.
Based in Gothenburg, Sweden, Osukaru was founded by ex Eye / Katana guitarist Oskar 'Oz Osukaru' Petersson together with L.A. drummer Ryan Coyle.
They have already impressed the AOR community with the previous EP's 'GBG2LA' and 'Never Too Late', but when the band entered into studio to track down "Salvation", the singer left the band for personal reasons midway through the recording process.
But they found a more than adequate replacement in Chris Tiann (ex Dirty Dixx), as his powerful pipes and vocal tone really fits this material.
And what kind of material we have in "Salvation"? Just a wonderful bunch of fantastic classy AOR / MR tunes.
From the first sounds of the cool instrumental intro "Exit", you'll will be transported straight to the classic '80s rockin' AOR.
As on all the classic albums of the genre, the intro is chained with first track "Highway To The Stars," a huge radio friendly AOR tune to die for. The song hasn't a proper chorus, but the catchy refrain is driven by great rock-laden guitars and awesome keyboards.
Follower "Hot Blooded Woman" is more Melodic Rock oriented, with an insistent riff all over and a British scent. Same vibe is found on next track "City Lights", a re-worked song from the last EP, much more effective this time, thanks to Chris Tiann vocals to a great extent.
"Till The End Of Time" is the album's ballad, a midtempo filled with nice harmony vocals and a good melody that reminds me Danger Danger. A good one, although the production on this particular song doesn't match the rest, probably the music tracks come from a previous, different session.
"Never Too Late" is the first single, and one of the more melodic songs of the entire CD. This sweet melodic rocker has equal parts of guitar / keys, really well balanced to grab your ears instantly.
My favorite track on Salvation is the catchy "Change Of Heart (2012 version)". Appeared previously on one of the EP's, here clearly we can appreciate how much Osukaru has evolved musically. This is the best arranged and performed track of the album. It has all we love in a pure AOR tune; a fat bass / compressed drums, soaring vocals (reinforced by a dreamy background chorus), elegant guitar and phenomenal shynths. The even include a smooth saxophone line that adds more texture. A really great track and my pick of the album.
Then the band returns to the melodic hard rock sound with "Tear It Down". A marching rocker mounted over a very good drumming, strong guitars and swirling keyboards. On the chorus it turns more AOR 'fight-movie' style, bringing back the eighties in full form.
"Promised Land" is another winner, as this kind of AOR fueled by trepidating guitars and candy floss keyboards are gold in my book. The vocals are superb here, specially on the catchy layered chorus, and the rhythm guitar / solo are amongst the best of the album.
For the end, Osukaru goes acoustic and intimate with the likable melody of "T.M.Y.S. [Elevator Version]", which is no other than a completely re-worked version of their song Tell Me You'll Stay.
As bonus, we have a good cover of Alien's classic "Tears Don't Put Out The Fire", recorded by Osukaru for the forthcoming "Brave New World: A Tribute To Alien" tribute CD.
I celebrate that in the mew millennium there's a band still playing classy AOR / Melodic Rock in its purest form. This is what Osukaru offers on "Salvation".
They have dramatically improved here the sound and musicianship from the previous EP's. This new vocalist is what the band needed and the arrangements really nails the point now.
In short, if you - like me - are a sucker for the lovely chorus/keyboard driven '80s AOR, you must have Osukaru's "Salvation".
You've seen it first here, at zerodayrock
01 - Exit
02 - Highway To The Stars
03 - Hot Blooded Woman
04 - City Lights (2012 version)
05 - Till The End Of Time
06 - Never Too Late (2012 version)
07 - Change Of Heart (2012 version)
08 - Tear It Down
09 - Promised Land
10 - T.M.Y.S. [Elevator Version]
11 - Tears Don't Put Out The Fire (Alien Cover)
Oz Osukaru - guitars, backing vocals
Chirs Tiann - lead vocals
Emma-Lee Gunnari - bass
Ryan Cole - drums, percussion
Carl Dahlberg - keyboards, piano, Hammond organ
Kristopher Von Wachenfeldt - keyboards
Erik Jardenmark - sax on "Change Of Heart" and "Promised Land"
David Neil Cline - right speaker guitar solo on "City Lights"
Alexander Strandell, Johan Bernspang, Martin Ryder - add. backing vocals
The Magic Eden String Quartet - strings
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Coming from Cheltenham, UK, REASON was formed in 2009 by ex-Vandamne / Fyrebyrds / Empire / Crywolf guitarist & songwriter Chris Gyngell and vocalist Paul Mace. The band has just released their debut "The Darkest Star".
Gyngell and Mace grew up in the same small town in central England. In fact, they grew up in the same street. Both aspired independently to become rock musicians, and even crossed musical paths in their teenage years.
Inevitably, as they all learned their trades, their paths separated, and both of them progressed through the variety of musical ventures.
Then in early 2009, by chance, Chris and Paul met up and came to the same conclusion; that they should invent their ideal band.
Chris was already a proven and accomplished songwriter, and set about creating an initial set of songs which embodied all of the things that they loved.
After recruiting the remaining members, Reason signed with a Swedish label.
"The Darkest Star" sums several influences from '80s and '90s classic bands, resulting in a more than interesting Melodic Hard Rock sound with a Progressive influence.
Possibly my favorite track on the album is opener "Another World", a strong melodic hard rocker with a mysterious aura accented by the massive use of synths in the background.
Follower "Rise" is another really good track with a classic eighties vibe. This one has been mixed by veteran Beau Hill.
On tracks such as "Before The Dawn", "The Darkest Star" and "Cool Starry Night", Reason glides into a more progressive territory, adding to the songs colorful textures to enjoy.
The diversity of this band doesn't ends here, as "Fire Eternal" has a commercial approach driven by a punctuated guitar line, "Life To A Flame" brings to the table traditional British metal sounds, and "Forever" has some American AOR elements in the style of earlier Journey, complete with nice keyboards.
On "The Darkest Star", Reason makes clear their love for the classic sounds, evidenced by the arrangements and the overall vibe of the album.
Composer Chris Gyngell has learned the '80s lesson, and his guitar licks (specially the solos) are solid, with a vintage sound. Paul Mace is a fine singer, owner of a tenor register which suits these songs well, while the rest of the band bring to the core a good musicianship.
The drawback here is the poor production, handled by the band. A pity, because the material on offer is really consistent and finely elaborated. But considering that "The Darkest Star" was initially conceived as an indie release, this a point to improve on the next release.
Reason is a more than promising new band, talented and well focused. Check them out!.
01 - Another World
02 - Rise (Beau Hill remix)
03 - Before The Dawn
04 - Life To A Flame
05 - Fire Eternal
06 - The Darkest Star
07 - Forever
08 - The Crusade
09 - Evil Angel
10 - Cool Starry Night
11 - Revelation (2012 remix)
Paul Mace - Lead Vocals
Chris Gyngell - Guitar
Gil Hird - Keyboards
Graham Corbett - Bass
Sean Feeley - Drums
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Swiss born Mark Fox was best known during the past decade as lead singer of hard rockers Shakra. After he left the band in 2009 to concentrate on this solo-career, spend two years writing songs and assembling his own group.
"2012" is the name of the debut album by FOX, produced by Mark together with veteran Chris von Rohr (Krokus guitarist & producer). So expect a Hard Rock CD with the typical Euro sound in the vein of his previous band Shakra, Gotthard, Casanova and obviously... Krokus.
But Fox is more 'melodic' hard rock oriented, and this doesn't means the band lacks power and attack.
The album opens with the contagious melodic rocker "Problem Child" which has a stomping catchy chorus. Curious to note is that the main melody is a rip-off of a song recorded by Italian Zucchero Fornaciari in the eighties. Anyway, it's a really good track with a commercial approach.
Fox love for the '80s continues on the next track, "Beds Are Burning", a cover of aussie's Midnight Oil classic. A pretty cool version where Mark Fox's raspy vocals fits like a glove.
The best of "Raise Your Hands" is the marching refrain and fine rhythm guitars, but in my opinion the groove proposed by the song isn't developed in its full capacity.
The first ballad arrives with the German sounding "Nothing Without You", formulaic but effective. I prefer much more the other slow tune on offer, the acoustic "Home Again", released as single last year in their hometown where found considerable airplay.
The midtempo rocker "Black Sunday" adds a good climax to the album, while "Flashed" has a subtle Led Zeppelin vibe, reminding you Kingdom Come earlier works.
"Anytime" returns to the classic hard rock pattern much in the sonic style of the old Skakra. On this kind of songs is where Fox really rocks, this is the style that best fits the band's potential.
The Americanized "We Are All" has an anthemic intention all over, but as said above, this band works better when they go for the European Hard Rock style.
Last track "Down Down" has a groovy uptempo pace, shifted down in the middle for good effect, and then the band ends in full throttle.
As said, FOX is musically and sonically rooted - similar to Shakra - in the Euro Hard Rock genre, although the band adds some classic hard and American stylings to the mix.
"2012" works better when the band goes purely for the Euro style. Anyway, the CD flows nicely, helped by the good musicianship and Mark Fox's rockin' vocalizations.
Correctly produced and recorded, "2012" is a really pleasant listen. Nothing ground-breaking (and doesn't predicts the end of the World as the cool artwork suggest), just a likeable piece of European Hard Rock.
01 - Problem Child
02 - Beds Are Burning
03 - Raise Your Hands
04 - Nothing Without You
05 - Black Sunday
06 - Flashed
07 - Anytime
08 - Home Again
09 - We Are All
10 - Sell It To Me
11 - Down Down + Hidden Track (bonus track)
Mark Fox (ex-Shakra) – Vocals
Franky Fersino (ex-Gotthard, Krak) – Guitar
Tony Castell (ex-Krokus) – Bass
Reto Hirschi (ex-Treekillaz) – Drums
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Louisiana’s Lillian Axe were formed at the beginning of the eighties and make their mark during the hair metal glory days with a couple of very good albums.
Founder Steve Blaze never give up, and maintained the band alive despite the continuous line-up changes, and now they're back with a new album; "XI: The Days Before Tomorrow"
What separated Lillian Axe from most of the hair metal acts back in the day was the band’s willingness to take a few chances in their music, with interesting lyrics and elaborated arrangements.
Those aspects are still present in 2012, but times change, and now Lillian has a new reincarnation of their sound, and that's more than welcome.
On "XI: The Days Before Tomorrow" are elements of more explorative, progressive hard rock, with a really good and sometimes complex guitar work and intriguing sounds.
One of the biggest problems for Steve Blaze was to find a stable singer. After several changes, new vocalist Brian Jones seems to fit more the progressive elements the band is now using in their music, even though his voice won’t shatter any windows, at least the group has a guy who hopefully can stick around a little longer and bring some stability to the forefront.
The album opens with the heavy razor blade riff of "Babylon". It's a straightforward, hard rockin' song featuring a tight guitar solo by Blaze.
"The Great Divide" burrows deep into hard-prog territory, nicely fitting Jones' style of singing. A more dramatic atonement for instance displays in full pledge on this track and the guitar work is killer indeed.
"Gather Up The Snow" continues the hard-hitting melodic stance of the first track and is another quality song that will have you re-assessing Lillian Axe and their back catalogue.
The Spanish flavored intro to "The Great Divide" along with the great guitar work throughout it is yet another feather in the Lillian Axe cap. Steve Blaze is a man that has no boundaries and seemingly, has no wish to put any up.
"Caged In" brings some serious hard rock to the fore and although the lyrics and chorus are repetitive, you'll simply be struck by the molten heat that the band brings to the table.
Another churner tune kicks the chair in the song "Lava On My Tongue", where a nice hard rock edge dominates the main riff and the drums play a nice role in this uptempo yet melodic tune. I can correlate this song to some of their old school sound from earlier records which fans will definitely enjoy, and the writing is intricate as it’s challenging.
"My Apologies" is a more standard sounding, a half tempo ballad that shows the softer side of the band and even then they can't help but throw in a soulful piece of guitar shredding to bring it together.
On their new album, Lillian Axe has changed musically, and the result is pretty consistent and convincing for the most part.
Much of the melodic hard rock sounds on this new effort falls right in line with acts like King’s X, UK's Ten, and Saigon Kick multi-part vocal harmonies, sitting kinetically against addictive guitar riffs while the rhythm section hones in on grooves with a progressive touch.
Guitarist Steve Blaze really pours his heart, soul and creativity into the songwriting and performance aspect of this album, which needs repeated listens to be fully tasted.
His six-string work is truly accomplished, with little subtleties going on in every riff and solo. The new singer Jones won’t turn a bunch of heads but the man does his job nicely and fits the scope of the band’s style more than the previous singers.
"XI The Days Before Tomorrow" is a good progressive hard rock album, and one of the best and most complete Lillian Axe have ever made.
01 - Babylon
02 - Death Comes Tomorrow
03 - Gather Up The Snow
04 - The Great Divide
05 - Take The Bullet
06 - Bow Your Head
07 - Caged In
08 - Soul Disease
09 - Lava On My Tongue
10 - My Apologies
11 - Angels Among Us (European Bonus)
Brian Jones – Vocals
Steve Blaze – Guitar, Keyboards
Sam Poitevent – Guitar
Eric Morris – Bass
Ken Koudelka – Drums
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Formed by frontwoman Lzzy Hale and her brother, drummer Arejay Hale, HALESTORM has been hailed an incendiary new force in the hard rock and metal circuit for the last three years.
The band’s self-titled album was one the best debuts of 2009, and they already blew me away with their EP of cover tunes called 'ReAniMate: The CoVeRs' (already presented here at zerodayrock) last year.
Halestorm is set to release its long-awaited sophomore album, 'A Strange Case Of…' on April 10. It’s just like Halestorm to offer up more than a single to tide impatient fans over. "Hello, It's Mz Hyde" features a quarter of the album’s dozen tracks.
The EP kicks off with the single “Love Bites (So Do I)”. On the band’s covers EP ReAnimate, they versioned the Skid Row classic 'Slave To The Grind'. "Love Bites (So Do I)" has that Skid-Grind feel to it. Fast, punchy and aggressive, and as she often does, Lzzy makes good use of sexual innuendo. The band’s years on the road pay obvious dividends with excellent musicianship all around.
The second track "Rock Show" taps into Lzzy’s personal side. The song is both auto-biographical and a statement to the fans. It's packed with great hooks that latch on and hang with you for days. It's framed by a very simple but sweet guitar riff and Lzzy’s emotive vocals.
Next up is the arena anthem "Daughters Of Darkness". A song built for live performance, featuring Lzzy’s at her ballsy best. A catchy hard rocker with big guitars and an instant chorus.
To wrap this tasty morsel of rock, the band offers up the finger in the air, friends and family jam, "Here’s To Us". This is a truly good melodic rock semi-ballad, sweet, sentimental and purely infectious. Another great breakdown, and another arm-waving, lighters and cellphones to the sky, arena-built anthem.
If "Hello, Its Mz Hyde" is a fair indicator of what the other eight tracks of the new album will be like, this could be one the best hard rock albums of 2012.
Halestorm is a band with a unique sound. Vocally, Lzzy is fantastic; it’s hard to fault the range and raw power she possesses.
Musically, the band have done well in diversifying the boundaries of the rock ‘n’ roll sound and fleetingly experimenting with instruments, keyboards being one to note.
While their self-titled record was good, this one looks like it’s going to be great.
Really good, rockin' stuff.
1 - Love Bites (So Do I)
2 - Rock Show
3 - Daughters of Darkness
4 - Here's to Us
Lzzy Hale - vocals, guitar, keyboards
Arejay Hale - drums, percussion, backing vocals
Joe Hottinger - guitar, backing vocals
Josh Smith - bass, backing vocals
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Monday, February 6, 2012
The iconic American songwriter Mark Spiro is back with his sixth solo album "It's A Beautiful Life".
Between AOR circles Spiro is a star, but his name, solo career and songwriting contributions are pretty unknown for major rock audiences, although all of you have already listened at least one of the magical melodies coming from his pen.
For starters, Mark has co-written songs for Bad English, Heart, Winger or REO Speedwagon to name a few. Seven out of eleven songs from Giant's classic 'Last Of The Runaways' (including the immortal 'I'll See You In My Dreams') are penned by Spiro together with the Huff bros.
That said, Spiro is a master in the songwriting department, and an accomplished singer / musician as well.
On his solo albums, and "It's A Beautiful Life" isn't an exception, Spiro's style towards to AOR / Melodic Rock sounds, but also to classic Americana blended with Classic Rock.
The majority of the songs consist of sweet melodies plenty of pulsating acoustic guitar chords and clean instrumentation, with occasional keyboards and some strong electric six-string riffs.
The focus is very clear - and that's indeed the singer / songwriter feeling of - his voice. This voice belongs to you as it comes from a relaxed, smiling mouth - "It's A Beautiful Life" is not just the title, but also the theme of the album.
The CD starts with the title track "It's A Beautiful Life", a smooth, radio friendly melodic rock song with a striking chorus. "I know who I love" has a more contemporary beat combined with acoustic guitars.
"Come Back To Me" is one of the highlights. An outstanding song with a catchy refrain and an infectious melody.
The disc gets more relaxed with the mid-pacer delicate melody of "Love Struck Dumb", an elegant Americana song with tons of class.
Another highlight for me is the "Go Another Mile", an irresistible radio rocker with solid guitars and superb songwriting.
"Dance The Lonely Spotlight" is a West Coast oriented tune driven by a pulsating bass line, adorned with nice keyboards. The sweet harmony vocals are cleverly arranged and performed.
On "Might As Well Be Me" Spiro adds more electric guitars to the mix. It's a good and simple rock song with a catchy chorus. "Dream Big, Pray Hard" has a very commercial feeling ala Bryan Adams, followed by the beautiful pop/rocker "Everything I Do" which features a contagious harmonic cadence.
"It's A Beautiful Life" conjures the best of the classic AOR, West Coast and Adult Contemporary styles into one CD. But not with the typical bombastic & lush sound of the genre, just with Spiro's personal approach.
This is a man with absolutely nothing to prove. He has written and performed everything on this disc, which oozes quality.
All these songs are beautifully crafted, the whole album has a crisp, sharp, clear sound and the guitar work and indeed the likeable vocals from Spiro himself are immaculate.
"It's A Beautiful Life" is another fine piece of music from one of the best rock songwriters ever.
You've seen it first here, at zerodayrock
01 - It’s A Beautiful Life
02 - I Know Who I Love
03 - Come Back To Me
04 - Love Struck Dumb
05 - Go Another Mile
06 - Dance The Lonely Spotlight
07 - Might As Well Be Me
08 - Brand New Beautiful Day
09 - Dream Big, Pray Hard
10 - Everything I Do
11 - A Beautiful Mistake (bonus track)
Mark Spiro – Everything
John McLennon – Guitars on 7, 10
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* new host
Definitively one of my favorite metal bands of the '80s was Helloween, fronted by awesome vocalist Michael Kiske. After 23 years, Kiske is joining forces again with Helloween co-founder Kai Hansen for a new project: UNISONIC.
This is some kind of a dreamy super-group; together with mighty Dennis Ward and Kosta Zafiriou of Pink Cream 69 and Mandy Meyer (known for his work with Asia, Gotthard and Krokus), they will be releasing an album in April.
"Ignition, Mini Album" is a fiery appetizer of the full CD, including 2 tracks exclusive to this maxi-single.
The main single "Unisonic" blasts out of your speakers at a break neck pace. This track has a strong melodic hook line and a skillfully constructed bridge / chorus. The ferocious rhythm guitar nails down the pounding drums as Mandy Meyer’s lead licks scream. For a band that consists of so many veterans to the German music scene, it’s refreshing to still hear the early '80s hard rock and metal influences seeping through.
"My Sanctuary" has a more melodic hard rock approach in the vein of Kiske/Ward's Melodic Hard Rock past project Place Vendome. Here Kiske finds more space to shine and spread his vocal abilities. He still sounds as vibrant as ever, even if he can’t hit some of the absurd notes he used to in the Helloween days.
"Souls Alive" finds an affinity with early '90s Gamma Ray, as the last third of the song bobs along on a bouncy bass line and tinkling piano. For a demo, it’s wonderfully produced (thanks to masterful job of Dennis Ward on the production desk).
Finally, there is a live version of "I Want Out", one of greatest songs that Kiske and Hansen have created together in Helloween, an eighties classic.
Simply; if you like high quality melodic metal, superbly played and produced by seasoned top musicians in the genre, you can't miss Unisonic.
I can't wait for the full-length album.
1 - Unisonic
2 - My Sanctuary
3 - Souls Alive (Demo Version)
4 - I Want Out (Live At Loud Park Festival 2011)
Vocals: Michael Kiske
Guitars: Kai Hansen, Mandy Meyer
Bass: Dennis Ward
Drums: Kosta Zafiriou
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Friday, February 3, 2012
BLESSED BY A BROKEN HEART formed in Montreal, Canada, in 2003, as a post-glam metalcore outfit and released their indie debut in 2004. Following the addition of Shred Sean (guitar) and Tony Gambino (vocals) they moved towards eighties metal on 'Pedal To The Metal' (2008) with Century Media Records.
After some serious touring, they got picked up by a new label for their brand new album "Feel The Power".
Vocalist Gambino stated "We've definitely matured as a band. We really wrote this album collectively, and it just naturally had this progression of where we all wanted to go.
The whole band is still obsessed with the '80s, and that's bled into our lifestyles. It's not just when we're on tour: We all kind of dress '80s; we still have mullets. It's become part of our lives.
On "Feel The Power", we used more of the cheesy side of the '80s. We've kind of gone a little more classic hair metal and heavy rock 'n' roll."
Whilst they have moved to a polished pop metal sound (think Motley Crue meets Reckless Love meets Crazy Lixx melded with Van Halen-esque synth and guitar shreds), there are still bursts of their metalcore roots on occasional vocal screams, but they only happen on a few songs and never more than a few seconds.
"Feel The Power" is an ear-candy overload of kick ass hair-metal with all the screaming guitars, massive hooks, mega-choruses, and stacked harmonies you could ask for.
This album is a shred smorgasbord as well. Guitarist Shred Sean plays with the melodic ferocity of Chris Impellitteri and he absolutely smokes the six-string on this release.
Song-wise, "Feel The Power" vary between heavy hitters like “Deathwish” (the darkest track on the album), pop-metal anthems like “Shut Up and Rock” (Keel would have killed for this tune), and lighters-in-the-air power ballads like “I’ve Got You” (Firehouse would have made this a smash hit).
What they all have in common are fiery guitars, humongous hooks, and gigantic backing vocals. If you love '80s gang-party vocals shouting 'Whoa!' and 'Yeah!' then you will be delighted here.
I must say that Blessed By A Broken Heart have delivered an interesting album blending '80s commercial hair metal with some modern trends, trying to sound original amongst the actual crowd of bands.
"Feel The Power" is a cheesy hair-metal heaven, an air-guitar shred Olympus, a glam-metal glory, a pop-metal paradise. It has everything we adored about the hairspray-and-hell-raising '80s given sonic reincarnation in the modern age.
It is Reckless Love meets Taking Dawn, it’s Steel Panther sans the sleaze, it’s Wig Wam with better guitars.
What more do you need to know? If you like this style, you must have "Feel The Power".
01 - Deathwish
02 - Shut Up And Rock
03 - Love Nightmare
04 - Forever
05 - Thunder Dome
06 - Holdin' Back For Nothin'
07 - I've Got You
08 - Rockin' All Night
09 - Scream It Like You Mean It
10 - Skate Or Die
11 - Innocent Blood
12 - Sleepless Nights
Tony Gambino (lead vocals)
Shred Sean (lead guitar)
Sam Ryder (rhythm guitar, backing vocals)
Tyler Hoare (bass, backing vocals)
Slater (drums, backing vocals)
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thanks to Craig for the review
It's good to welcome back Lana Lane, after a four year absence, and her fine new studio album, "El Dorado Hotel".
Once more Ms. Lane sounds incredible; she's one of the great pure melodic rock vocalists on the planet.
The genius of Lana Lane is her ability to move between smooth, sultry, and soaring vocals with effortless ease. Her voice is a convincing and entertaining instrument that equally surrounds and lifts any music to a higher plane.
Yet, it's when her voice is the singular focus of the song that sends chills down your spine. "Hotels" is that song on El Dorado Hotel; a song that you could easily put on repeat as it is pure unadulterated bliss.
But that's not to say Lane doesn't excel throughout this disc. Other notable performances are found on "El Dorado", "Believe", "Gone Are The Days".
Of course when you come to a Lana Lane album, you must also recognize the music. Mostly developed by husband Erik Norlander, "El Dorado Hotel" straddles the fence of AOR melodic rock and prog rock, again, with same effortless ease as Lane's voice.
"A Dream Full of Fire" and "El Dorado" offers some interesting guitar, nearly ethnic, Spanish, in character. "Darkness Falls" allows for that contrast of heaviness and lightness common in a Lane/Norlander arrangement.
"Believe", "Life of the Party", and especially "Gone Are The Days" more rock romps, with that last one quite catchy radio-friendly inspiration.
The depth of musicianship rises on the progressive closing tune, "In Exile". Finally, and again, "Hotels" must be given kudos as the arrangement is so sublime and unassuming, given only to display Lana Lane's gift.
Lana Lane's "El Dorado Hotel" is pure musical magic. Another wonderful display of her beautiful voice, with a unique clear tone that fits perfectly in these tunes.
The music is damn fine too, blending European-styled Melodic Rock AOR and classic progressive rock with modern sensibilities. The brain is her husband/producer/keyboardist Erik Norlander (Ayreon), with stellar appearances like the great John Payne (ASIA), Bruce Bouillet (Racer X) & Guthrie Govan (ASIA) on guitars, and Jay Schellen (ASIA, Unruly Child) on drums.
01. A Dream Full Of Fire
02. Maybe We`ll Meet Again
03. El Dorado
04. Darkness Falls
07. Life Of The Party
08. Gone Are The Days
09. Moon God
10. In Exile
Lana Lane - vocals
Erik Norlander - keyboards, additional guitars, bass and programming
John Payne - harmony and choral vocals, mandolin
Mark McCrite - guitars, bass, choral vocals, programming
Bruce Bouillet - guitars
Neil Citron - guitars
Freddy DeMarco - guitars
Guthrie Govan - guitar
Don Schiff - NS/Stick
Mark Matthews - bass
Jay Schellen - drums
BUY IT !