Swiss hard rockers SHAKRA, originally from Bern, have been together since the mid-nineties and they are still around with 3 original band members.
Almost 20 years in the business has enabled them to hit the German and Swiss album charts, play countless gigs and festivals, yet the band never made it big in UK and America.
With their brand new album "Powerplay" released today Shakra are willing to change that.
Throughout its long career Shakra has always been a source of great rocking tunes with catchy lyrics without being cheesy, added by a range of undemanding riffing.
Diversity has never been the band's integral elements in their song making process, yet their material also peaked to various places playing heavier tunes on the verge of metal while still letting the '80s hard rock lead the way of their European mixed with American motivated music.
Well, "Powerplay" is Shakra's more commercial and melodic oriented album to date.
"Powerplay" is plenty of meaty riff work and solos smattered throughout, crushing drums and the catchy choruses with an '80s feel typical from the band, but this time with many tracks leaning on Euro Melodic Hard Rock, as the effective opener "Life Is Now".
Second track "The Mask" is a solid rocker with an excellent tempo and superb twin guitar attack, followed by one of the highlights on the CD, the melodic hard rock blaster "Higher".
On "Wonderful Life" Shakra shows again their intention to reach a wider audience. It's a traditional power ballad in a classic way; raspy vocals, strong drums and melodious sustained guitars. Really well crafted.
In the goodie "Because Of You" I hear a vibe of Whitesnake, while "Save You From Yourself" has a sprinkle of Euro hard 'n heavy in the muscular chorus.
"Don't Keep Me Hanging" has a wonderful classic hard rock hook, and "Dream Of Mankind" is driven by groovy guitars and thumping drums.
Shakra is one of the better European Hard Rock acts that seem to have survived the test of time. All their albums are solid and coherent with the band's roots.
"Powerplay" is not the exception - more than that - it's the Helvetians best album to date plenty of '80s inspired melodies, sparking choruses, raspy toned vocals and excellent six-string work.
While retaining their trademark hard edge, this new CD is more melodic and stylized than anything Shakra has recorded so far.
"Powerplay" is the kind of album that any self respecting hard rocker will love, classic (melodic this time) Hard Rock that will make you happy the genre is not dead.
01. Life Is Now
02. The Mask
04. Wonderful Life
05. Dear Enemy
06. Save You From Yourself
07. Don't Keep Me Hanging
08. Dream Of Mankind
10. Because Of You
11. Secret Hideaway
12. Too Good To Be True
John Prakesh - Vocals
Thom Blunier - Guitars
Thomas Muster - Guitars
Dominik Pfister - Bass
Roger Tanner - Drums
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Monday, January 14, 2013
Originally released in 1994 on the Swedish independent label Empire Records, American singer/songwriter BRETT WALKER debut "Nevertheless" impressively charted in Scandinavia's Top 40.
Walker - who was following up his chart success with his penned track Alias’ Top 10 smash 'Waiting For Love' - in "Nevertheless" delivered 12 tracks of sure fire Melodic Rock magic.
Once again flexing his own masterful writing muscle, the first single from this CD, "Lecia", would crack the Top 10 in Europe. This track is pure Gold, Melodic Rock at its finest expression, somekind of Journey hybridized with Rick Springfield. One of my favorite songs of all time in the genre.
Not content with just being an very talented singer, guitarist and songwriter, Brett has also called-in some pretty heavyweight help for this album; Jonathan Cain (Journey, Bad English), Jim Peterik (Survivor, Pride Of Lions), Stan Bush, '80s soundtrack hero Nick Gilder and Carl Dixon (Coney Hatch). Wow...
Former Survivor main-man Jim Peterik doesn't just help anybody, does he? Jim co-writes two songs here: the killer Survivor influenced "Take me Home", and the classy midtempo AOR "Didn't Mean to Say Goodbye".
Journey's Jonathan Cain co-writes and also produces "Bad Time for Goodbye", a bouncing eighties diamond which actually sounds more like his earlier work with The Babys.
The extremely melodious "Everything I Want to Do" is co-written with Nick Gilder; Stan Bush adds his magical 'touch' (pun intended) in the co-penned "Hard to Find an Easy Way" (I love this one), while the soaring Melodic Rock perfection of "More Than a Memory" is co-written with former Coney Hatch man Carl Dixon.
All tracks are great (no fillers here), but I have to mention another of my all time favorites; "No Fire Without You", a magnificent expression of melody and pulse all together into a fabulous song that makes Def Leppard envy in red.
"Nevertheless" went out of print soon in the nineties, but luckily at this very beginning of 2013 it's being re-issued by Divebomb Records in a limited remastered (great one) edition featuring a brand new remixed version of the previously Japanese-only bonus track "Midnight Angel" - an awesome tune, trust me - and refreshed artwork.
Brett Walker's "Nevertheless" is a Must Have for any AOR / Melodic Rock fan.
01 - Hard To Find A Easy Way
02 - Lecia
03 - Everything I Want To Do
04 - Take Me Home
05 - Never Gave Roses
06 - Quicksand
07 - Didn't Mean To Say Goodbye
08 - Bring Back The Night
09 - No Fire Without You
10 - Bad Time For Goodbye
11 - More Than A Memory
12 - Give A Little Love
13 - Midnight Angel [2012 remix] (bonus track)
Brett Walker - vocals, guitar, keyboards
Buddy Allen - bass, backing vocals
Brian Jones - bass
David Prater - drums, percussion, production
Moon Calhoun - drums, backing vocals
Mugs Cain - drums
Stan Bush, Jonathan Cain - backing vocals
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Multi instrumentalist GERRY LANE was born in Cork, Ireland, where he played during his teens in several bands from the surrounding area of this legendary city. In the early eighties Gerry formed 'Driveshaft' touring a lot through Ireland and England as headliner and supporting the likes of Rory Gallagher, Phil Lynott’s Grand Slam and ZZ Top.
Then he moved to London to play and arrange music for some of the big names in the music-world, for instance: Gary Moore, Cozy Powell and John Sinclair from Uriah Heep (Gerry contributed 2 songs on Cozy Powel’s solo-album 'The Drums Are Back'. He sang and played guitar on those tracks).
Now established as solo artist, "Long Way Home" is his third release, combining the style of the above mentioned artists and more.
Gerry Lane plays bluesy Classic Rock from the heart, true, without artifacts.
His main style reminds you Richie Sambora solo stuff (check the title track video-song below), Jimmy Barnes and Joe Walsh, all spiced with a Southern Rock touch.
Knowing that Gerry does almost all on his own, after listening "Long Way Home" I was more than positively surprised by the professionalism of the whole production.
There's really fine classic inspired uptempo tracks like "The Devil You Know", "Favourite Son" (where Gerry sings like Jimmy Barnes) and the rockin´ "Busted Loose" interspersed with soulful numbers as "Takes Me Back to You", "Take Me to the Water" and the beautiful bluesy-ballad title track.
In "Long Way Home" it's all about the music.
Music from the heart, true Classic Rock delivered in its pure form by this complete indie artist who handles almost everything, and all with accomplished musicianship and versatility. Released digitally the last December, CD copies will be available soon.
With people like Gerry Lane, Classic Rock is alive.
01 - The Devil You Know
02 - Favourite Son
03 - Long Way Home
04 - Takes Me Back to You
05 - Not a Simple Man
06 - Take Me to the Water
07 - Leave It All Behind
08 - I Wouldn't Lie to You
09 - Busted Loose
10 - Road Fever
Gerry Lane - Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Eric Larmier - Slide Guitar
Frank Basile, Todd Sorensen - Drums
Eguie Castrillo - Percussion
Joe Vitale - Hammond B3
William Hicks - Backing Vocals
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MIDNITE SUN might be a new name for many of us, but these Italians aren't newcomers into the hard rock scene.
The band relased their debut in 2005, played central Europe as main act and supporting the likes of UDO, John Lawton Band, Oliver & Dawson's Saxon, Lynch Mob and were chosen as opening act for House Of Lords European tour in 2008. That says something about them.
"Anyone Like Us?" is their second offereing after seven years in the making and some line-up changes in the middle.
Midnite Sun updated rhythm section includes drummer Mike Galletto who joined in 2009 and bass player Uncle Sappa (The Unripes, Sutuana) just recently added to the core.
Despite all the bass parts were played by former member Marco Morelli and on three tracks we can hear previous drummer Alessandro Mori, the overall sound in "Anyone Like Us?" is tight and homogeneous.
Musically Midnite Sun goes for a good mix of '80s / '90s hard rock and some modern elements, with a sound constructed over a thick double guitar attack.
Powerful yet very clean, their hard rock can be compared to Lynch Mob in its delivery. The guitars take the central scene but with a controlled, compact sound and the rhythm section is in the 'compressed' style, very fat as a whole.
Opener "Lost In A Killing Field" is a solid guitar driven rocker with a great twin guitar interaction, groovy bass lines and well articulated vocals which turn quite melodic during the chorus. Enrico Sarzi is a seasoned singer with the right attack for this kind rock, phrasing with an American style for good effect.
"Mind The Gap" continues, more nineties oriented and with a wink to Skid Row in the songwriting. The guitar work is flashy here and the gang vocals rock.
In "Right Wrong Way" the '80s influence is evident in the melody, same in the jumpin' "Unbreakable" where the first Ugly Kid Joe comes to mind, another band which Midnite Sun can be compared to.
"Inferno" has a more relaxed pace, a groovy midtempo adding some breaks and sporting a really melodic chorus, while "Cannibal Love" is the same vein yet more dark and gritty.
"Fault" is the ballad here, a beautiful melody driven by clean electrics and a very good vocal delivery from Sarzi. The track fits the in ballad slot, but not the typical syruped one.
Closer "Postcards From My Life" is another slow tune, this time acoustically filled and a damn fine number it is. Ghosts of Tyketto can be heard here and the aforementioned Ugly Kid Joe calm side as well.
Anyone Like Us? is one of these albums that starts growing on you after a couple of listens.
Energetic, rocking and pleasant at first glance, but it's after repeated listens when you discover these guys are really good composing, arranging and playing hard rock songs with some essence.
Their musicianship is second to none and while the album was recorded at different stages of time and with different producers the overall sound is equally compact.
01 - Lost In A Killing Field
02 - Mind The Gap
03 - Right Wrong Way
04 - Inferno
05 - Lady Bullet
06 - Fault
07 - Unbreakable
08 - Cannibal Love
09 - Postcards From My Life
Enrico Sarzi - Vocals, Keyboards
Chris Vicini - Guitar
Willy Nicolini - Guitar
Uncle Sappa - Bass
Mike Galletto - Drums
Alessandro Mori - Drums on 1, 2, 4
Marco Morelli - Bass
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Gareth Jones and Vinden Wylde left the UK band The Reasoning back in 2009 to forn a brand new project, SANKARA.
Jay McDonald and Rhayn Jooste from the recently imploded celtic metal band The Bluehorses soon joined to complete the lineup, and a well-received indie released four-track EP appeared in 2011.
After a first few live appearances, the band have now unleashed their first full-length album, entitled "Guided By Degrees".
"Guided By Degrees" it's a polished mix of adult melodic hard rock and AOR ballads tinted with a vintage sound. There's some of the feel of The Reasoning's very early work before they moved in a more prog-metal direction, blended with late a '70s / early '80s Styx approach in style.
But Sankara have their own sound, built around strong riffs and anthemic choruses in the best British tradition.
The dominant lead instrument is Jay McDonald's guitar perfectly complemented by Gareth Jones' pipes in his first role as full time singer, beacuse on his previous bands only shared lead vocals with others and here proves he's more than capable of fronting the band on his own.
The rhythm section of Vinden Wylde and Rhayn Jooste lay down solid grooves rather than indulge in any kind of self-indulgent showboating, underlining the fact that Sankara are more a straight-ahead rock band than a prog metal one.
High points include the punchy hard rockers "In God We Trust" and "The Harm Principle", and the ballad "Lullaby for a Lost Boy"; a semi-epic that seems to pack a terrific lot of music into four minutes.
Another highlight is "The Dolls House" with a guest appearance on vocals from another Reasoning alumni; Maria Owen-Midlane. It's a keyboard-led ballad combining some great vocal harmonies between Owen and Jones, and one of the album's few excursions into prog rock in the instrumental break.
"Guided By Degrees" is a solid piece of work which ought to establish Sankara as a band who mean business.
During ten tracks and forty minutes (as it used to be in the good 'ol days) to avoid fillers or dull moments, Sankara delivers meaty songs plenty of strong melodies with a rich sound driven by elaborated layers of guitars and clean vocals.
01. In God We Trust
02. Chasing the Sun
03. Never Felt So Alive
04. Gilded By Gaslight
05. The Doll's House
06. The Harm Principle
07. Lullaby for a Lost Boy
08. Stolen Moments
09. But For Her
10. Light Your Journey Home
Gareth Jones (ex-The Reasoning) - Vocals, Keyboards
Jay MacDonald (ex-Bluehorses) - Guitar
Vinden Wylde (ex-The Reasoning) - Drums
Rhayn Jooste (ex-Bluehorses) - Bass
Arnie Edwards - Bass
Paul Wilson - Rhythm Guitar
Maria Owen-Midlane - guest Vocals
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thanks to Steven
Having started as a Marillion and Fish tribute act, Italy's SILVER KEY delivers a sound reminiscent of well, actually, a whole host of '80s Neo Prog acts with everyone from Pallas, Twelfth Night, Galahad, Arena and of course Marillion coming to the fore.
It has actually taken the quintet of Yuri Abietti (vocals), Carlo Monti (guitar), Davide Manara (keys/synths/samples), Viviano Crimella (drums) and Alberto Grassi (bass) a full decade to go from band inception to this debut effort "In The Land Of Dreams".
It has been well worth the wait, with this first foray being an intricate, far reaching concept piece that works wonderfully both lyrically and musically.
The band's name actually comes from the works of HP Lovecraft and it would appear that the songs themselves also lean heavily in that direction for their inspiration.
Keyboards and Synths are the main focus of the music, with Manara ruling the roost in a most expansive manner. Pompous and uncompromising one moment, plaintive and beautiful the next. It really makes for a keyboard lovers delight.
That's not to suggest that Monti doesn't provide some punchy guitar riffs and searing solos, or that vocalist Abietti doesn't have a captivating attack, which is almost accent-free. They both do.
However latch onto the sublime melodies of "Learn To Let Go", bombastic themes of "In The Land Of Dreams" or the piano led "More Than I Can", which introduce the album, and are the keys, synths and samples that set the tone.
Then, after the first four tracks we are led on a long journey through a continuous epic 30 minutes of music split across nine tracks, with the guitars being cranked, the bass booming and the drums becoming more dynamic.
All that is tied to spoken word samples and a more poised approach, yet still the glorious key work never eases, leaving you totally beguiled and convinced by the sumptuous full sound.
The themes continue to range from galloping romps to sedate meanders, but the music never loses its purpose, neither does anything here feel surplus to requirements.
Abietti's slightly quirky vocals are hugely effective, preferring a more Stuart Nicholson (Galahad) "storytelling" style than the usual am-dram neo attempts - although actual comparisons are refreshingly difficult to make - his voice ably driving the story forward, while keeping you transfixed with his spirited attack.
"The Gaunt Man" comes over all Arena-like, while "Through The Gates Of The Silver Key" has an undoubted Genesis vibe.
However the real power comes from soaking up the whole album in one sitting, with the huge array of sounds and ideas cascading over you, a bright, full production clearing the way.
As debut efforts go, "In The Land Of Dreams" really is rather special.
Yes, it is Neo Prog as you've come to expect it with influences by many established acts, but Silver Key are in the search for new horizons in this genre.
"In The Land Of Dreams" it's really a new form of Neo Prog never heard before, captivating and original. The arrangements, the twists, the way the band explores the melodies are truly impressive.
Don't be afraid, although there's intrincate passages and busy intrumentation, this is a highly easy listening work plenty of beautiful melodies alternating brilliant uptempo moments with soaring sweet landscapes wrapped by a superb production.
Definitely a Highly Recommended listen for everyone.
01. In the land of Dream
02. More Than I Can
03. Learn To Let Go
05. The Loss Of The Silver Key
06. The Guant Man
07. The Running Kid
08. The Guardian Of The Seventh Seal
09. Through The Gates Of The Silver Key
10. Dim Carcosa
11. The Silver Key
12. The King Of Light
Yuri Abietti - vocals, guitar
Carlo Monti - guitar
Alberto Grassi - bass
Davide Manara - keyboards
Viviano Crimella - drums, percussions
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Formed around 2005 in Milan and continuing the well-appreciated trend of '80s inspired rock 'n roll comes SCARLET VIOLET.
After two realeases under US-based label Sliptrick Records (debut album and EP) and extensive touring throughout North-Eastern Europe and Japan, the band has just released their second full-lenght "Everlusting".
Mixed and mastered at Studio Seven in Sweden by producer/drummer Ronny Milianowicz (Primal Fear, Kiske), Scarlet Violet is offering up some memory-inducing music, conjuring up visions of the Sunset Strip with an updated sound.
Despite the album artwork, this is not a sleaze band. Their style is spiced with a few glammy touches yes, but the heart of the music is late eighties US Melodic Metal / Hard blood-pumped.
Album opener "Fancy A Nightmare?" attacks the senses with a guttural Marshall-amp assault. Immediately the listener is convinced that this band means business. Vocalist 'L.A.' (his pseudonym is a true declaration) reminds you John Corabi, Paul Shortino and at places the legendary Paul DiAnno in a Sunset Strip vocal suit.
Apparently L.A. is a chameleon, because he manages to sound like Jizzy Pearl on the Love/Hate inspired "Fame". Perhaps the more sleazy track here is "Heart-Shaped Brain" with gang vocals and stabbing guitars all over, while "til I Die" turn things quite heavy.
Pace slows down for a breathe with "Bend Over And Fall". It isn't a ballad, just a groovy rocker which increases the rhythm in the middle. Ok track but I prefer the band rocking hard.
The best song in the disc arrives with "Behind Enemy Lines", a fiery hardrocker with a razor axe-work and a great anthemic chorus. Closer "Show Me Your Filth" is another frantic / no-brakes train yet more spaced sonically which even incrases the impact. Punchy solo on this one.
Scarlet Violet wear their influences on their sleeve, but unlike a multitude of recent Euro Hard, they have taken the time to put their own identity on each track in "Everlusting".
The band have found a way to sound fresh with a vocalist that sings like no-one these days and the guitar work from Fylo which is downright impressive for this type of music. At this point everything imaginable has been done on guitar, but he always tries to find a way to sound original.
"Everlusting" has enough kick to please fans of '80s US Metal without losing its intended Hollywood Sunset Strip audience, not leaning too heavily towards either genre.
01 - Fancy A Nightmare?
02 - Can't Take Me Back
03 - Cut Me Again
04 - Fame
05 - Heart-Shaped Brain
06 - Bend Over And Fall
07 - Behind Enemy Lines
08 - 'til I Die
09 - War Cry
10 - Show Me Your Filth
L.A. - Vocals
Fylo - Guitars
P.I.Z. - Bass
Joey - Drums
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Polish hard rockers KRUK - Raven in English - delivered a really good album in 2011 (presented here in this blog) featuring the collaboration of shouter Doogie White and gaining positive reviews on specialized magazines.
The new album (the third in the band's career) entitled "Be 3" sees the group faithful to their traditional Hard Rock style but this time adding high doses of more commercial Melodic Rock sounds.
The riffs and influences from the greats Rainbow, Uriah Heep and Thin Lizzy are still there, yet this time with a clear approach to classic Euro Melodic Rock.
This new sound for the band is revealed since the start with the bouncing opener "Rising Anger". Really melodious with elaborated harmony vocals and a more clear sound than anything recorded by Kruk before.
And they are really good in this new sonic territory, as heard in the following tracks "Steal Your Heart", "Master Blaster" (recalling Swedes melodic rockers Silver), the Gotthard-like "It's Gone" and the pure Melodic Rock midtempo "On The Station", one of the highlights.
Also the couple of ballads "At The Desert" and "Miss Sometimes" are definitely melodic, Scandi sounding.
Of course we have some tracks in the original Kruk style, as the Rainbow influenced "Burnin' Inside" (love the guitar solo) and the Thin Lizzy attack of "Calling You".
As you read, Kruk has turned their sound for the most part to European Melodic Rock blended with their Classic Hard root style resulting in a more than interesting product.
The song skeleton and arrangements are certainly more accessible than before still retaining the traditional Hard Rock vibe, particularly in the instrumentation.
Kruk impressed me favorably with their previous effort, but with "Be 3" they really surprised me. Solid and mature, this new work opens a new horizon for this Polish band which now sounds more 'Swedish' than many real Scandi acts.
01 - Rising Anger
02 - Steal Your Heart
03 - Master Blaster
04 - At The Desert
05 - Calling You
06 - Burnin' Inside
07 - Miss Sometimes
08 - It's Gone
09 - On The Station
10 - Child In Time
11 - Rising Anger [Instrumental mix] (bonus track)
12 - Burnin' Inside [Instrumental mix] (bonus track)
13 - Gdy upadl swiat (bonus track)
14 - Jestem Bogiem (bonus track)
15 - Jak glaz (bonus track)
Tomasz Wisniewski - Vocals
Piotr Brzychcy - Guitar
Krzysiek Nowak - Bass
Michal Kurys - Keyboards, Synths
Dariusz Nawara - Drums
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ROXY BLUE arrived a little too late to the Hard Rock scene, but they did it with class via their sole album 'Want Some?' published by a major label in 1992.
While Roxy Blue were relatively unknown outside of their hometown of Memphis, music industry insiders knew that there was something about this band that set them apart from all the pretty boy hair bands that were currently being signed on a daily basis.
When the smoke cleared, Motley Crue’s management team was chosen to head the ship, Guns 'N Roses producer (Mike Clink) was chosen to knob their debut album, and Geffen Records was the label that would release it.
Word spread quickly that Roxy Blue was the hottest new band around and they became the darlings of the hard rock media. Management was gearing up to break Roxy Blue as ‘The Next Big Thing’.
With constant comparisons to Van Halen, Warrant and even Motley Crue everyone was feeling the energy and momentum surrounding this band.
Roxy Blue's debut 'Want Some?' immediately broke the Top 40 on Billboard Rock chart and was even reported to be the ‘Most Spun Rock Record Of The Summer’ by Record and Review Magazine.
A tour with Babylon A.D. and Wildside kicked off the summer party while MTV constantly kept the bands videos in rotation on shows like the 'Top Twenty Countdown', 'Most Wanted' and 'Headbangers Ball'. The band was on a rocket-ride winning masses of fans in the process.
Just like a summer love affair, Roxy Blue was here and gone in the blink of an eye. It all came and went too quickly and fans were left wanting more.
A whole legion of hard rock hair-band fans were left scratching their heads as a genre they heavily supported was systematically being deconstructed…
Roxy Blue would be left holding the distinction of ‘The Last Successful Hair Band Of All Time’ according to the novel 'The History Of Rock-n-Roll'.
Where did it all go? How could a band with such a huge momentum and powerful live show and tons of fans all of a sudden be gone?
The fans were definitely left Wanting Some More; and twenty years later that's what the hair metal fans are getting with the release of "Want Some More".
Style-wise this is an extension of the debut album. Definitely not throw away tracks, the CD is comprised of songs that could easily replace any track on the 1992 album.
There are eleven solid never-before-heard numbers plus three demos for “Love’s Got A Hold On Me”, “Times Are Changin'”, and “Rock-A-Bye Baby”, and a live version of “Rob The Cradle” – all of which are fan favorites from the debut album.
The recordings on "Want Some More" are pre-production demos of songs that were to be for Roxy Blue's sophomore release. So this is Roxy Blue's second unreleased album.
Except a couple of tracks, all sound very good with quite high recording standards. Great stuff from a band that should have been huge.
01 - Bad To The Bullet
02 - Already Gone
03 - Set Me Free
04 - Wasted Time
05 - You
06 - If I Could
07 - Moving On
08 - Black Sky
09 - Show Me
10 - Can't Take It
11 - Just Enuff
12 - Loves Got A Hold On Me (Demo)
13 - Times Are Changin' (Demo)
14 - Rock-A-Bye (Demo)
15 - Rob The Cradle (Live)
Todd Poole: lead and backing vocals, acoustic guitar
Sid Fletcher: electric and acoustic guitars, backing vocals
Scotty T: drums, percussion, backing vocals
Josh Weil: bass, backing vocals
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Really good American sounding classic AOR / Melodic Rock recording, cult album for the first time ever released on CD.
Excellent (as usual) 24-bit remastering from the original source tapes by Rock Candy Records.
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I like surprises, especially of course, when they are positive. "Cruel Symmetry" by German progsters ARGOS was real good one for me.
This is my first contact with the band (they have released 2 albums previously), and the quality of their brand new CD "Cruel Symmetry" has made me add their name to my watch list in the future.
Argos plays pure Prog Rock with the unmistakable British scent, adding some symphonic color and beautiful sonic landscapes. Despite the band's Germanic origin the whole music is enriched with a good pinch of smooth jazz rock in the tradition of the Canterbury, UK bands.
But basically "Cruel Symmetry" is Classic Brit Prog Rock.
Not only the words (Robert Gozon is an English teacher, so forget the teutonic accent), the whole direction of the music, the themes and concept are pure British progressive rock, a successful mixture of seventies spirit and more contemporary sounds.
"Cruel Symmetry" is dominated by the nearly 21-minute title track, which takes the listener on a journey through the different stages of perception.
It's a wonderful 13-part suite with all the necessary ingredients in the good and captivating Prog: strong melodies, combining themes, sophisticated arrangements, floating instrumentation between prominent keyboards and guitars, opulent bass & drums, some magic flute, and a hymnic conclusion.
The other six songs are on the same high level.
The lyrics are well thought-out (the humorous "The Story Of Flying Robert", the ironic "Paper Ship Dreams"), and while in pieces like "Possessions" and "Open Book" the melodic and melancholic sounds dominate, there is also a little heavy edge in "Caught Within The Light"
Argos delivers a pure Prog dish in "Cruel Symmetry".
This band is musically imaginative and varied in scene blending melodic-anthemic elements and sympho-inspired excursions, featuring as well rhythmically intricate passages embossed with more light, accessible parts.
A must listen for Prog fans and everyone interested in quality music.
1. Cruel Symmetry (20:45)
2. Paper Ship Dreams (4:32)
3. Chance Encounters (4:24)
4. Possessions (6:05)
5. The Story of Flying Robert (4:29)
6. Caught within the Light 7:06)
7. Open Book (7:44)
Robert Gozon - vocals, keyboards, strings
Enrico Florczak - guitars, various effects
Thomas Klarmann - vocals, bass, flute, synths, mellotron
Ulf Jacobs - drums, percussion, roland drum machine
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As usual, Swedes LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM release their new albums first in Asia, around Christmas time.
That's the case again with the band's tenth CD "Ten Tangerine Tales", which will be available in Europe on January 25, 2013.
Singer and songwriter Mikael Erlandsson is a real workaholic. Recently he released an album with his new band 'Lover Under Cover' and was also involved in some other productions where he was doing guest vocals (for example Sapphire Eyes).
Hi has written the half of the songs this time with the help of outside songwriters, while the rest were penned by talented drummer Jamie Borger.
As on the previous album, "Ten Tangerine Tales" shows Last Autumn's Dream definitely turned Melodic Rock.
There's a couple of Melodic Hard tracks like the excellent "New York Rain" (one of the highlights) and "It's Magic", but the rest of the material is pure Scandi Melodic oriented.
Really solid tracks in "Pickin' Up The Pieces", "Lie To My Heart", the soaring "My Final Love Song" and the AOR ballad "When I Found You" (love this one).
They are looking fo some new sonic explorations adding cellos in "Preludium - The Man I Used To Be", but just for the embellishment of the arrangements, as this is a pure melodious track.
Last Autumn's Dream never fails delivering quality Melodic Rock, and "Ten Tangerine Tales" is not the exception.
This band knows how to write pleasant melodies and execute them with class and top musicianship. Production is warm and brilliant, even better than the in precedent album.
If you can't wait for the Euro release, I recommend you to pick the Korean version than the Japanese because is cheaper and also includes the exclusive Asian bonus track "Rebel Rouser", a good The Sweet cover song.
"Ten Tangerine Tales" = Satisfaction Guaranteed.
01. Ten Tangerine Tales
02. Pickin' Up The Pieces
03. 2nd Look
04. For You
05. Preludium - The Man I Used To Be
06. I Will See You Thru
07. When I Found You
08. Lie To My Heart
09. New York Rain
10. It's Magic
11. Rebel Rouser (Japanese Bonus Track)
12. My Final Love Song
Mikael Erlandsson - lead and backing vocals, keyboards
Andy Malecek - lead guitar
Jamie Borger - drums, backing vocals, acoustic guitar
Nalley Pahlsson - bass, backing vocals
Peter Pac Saderstrom - rhythm & additional guitars
Ulf Wahlberg - additional keyboards
Fred Lindberg - cello on 5, 8
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It all started back in 1986 when ALIEN completed the lineup and recorded their first single.
The Swedish, Gothenburg based awesome band soon got the deserved deal with a major company and flew to L.A. to record the foundational album "Alien" produced by AOR guru Chris Minto.
This is a seminal Scandi AOR disc packed with 12 superb songs full of magic conducted by the extraordinary guitar work from Tony Borg and the soaring, perfect Jim Jidhed high pitch vocals that would make Steve Perry green with envy.
The album was re-mixed for the US market one year later, published with different artwork and song selection, but this original version with the 'real' Scandi sound still is the fan favorite.
Long time out of print and really hard to find, "Alien" is being reissued (December 2012) in conjunction by EMI Scandinavia and a Greek label on a Limited Edition of 1000 copies. This is the real deal, the original recording / mix remastered from the master tapes, with the original artwork.
Finally I have a physical CD of this gem, and I urge you to get a copy now as all will fly away really soon. You must have "Alien", one of the Top-10 albums of all time in this genre.
"Alien" is a Scandi AOR / Melodic Rock Masterpiece. Period.
01. Brave New Love
02. Tears Don’t Put Out The Fire
03. Go Easy
04. I’ve Been Waiting
05. Jaime Remember
06. Feel My Love
07. Only One Woman
08. Wings Of Fire
09. Dying By The Golden Rule
10. Touch My Fire
Vocals: Jim Jidhed
Guitars: Tony Borg
Keyboards: Jimmy Wandroph
Bass: Ken Sandin
Drums: Toby Tarrach
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We try here bring to you the best releases, selecting among tons of albums. A high percentage is discarded, only the worth to investigate or must have are posted, that's why you only see positive reviews, more or less.
But that implies listening all; the good, the bad and the ugly. And you get a bit intoxicated. When this happens, I go for a classic artist quite beyond my usual favorites genres.
STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN is one of them. Then I found that I didn't listened yet this recent release; "The Fire Meets The Fury".
This s a radio broadcast of Stevie a few months before he died in the period after he got cleaned up. It sounds like analogue to digital conversion with no real remixing and as such the sound quality is not equivalent to modern recordings, but still is A+.
But boy, Stevie's performance both vocally is playing is blisteringly hot.
I have everything by Stevie and this recording has captured his playing at his best. It jumps out of the speakers and grabs you by the throat.
If you don't like live albums, forget this preconception, this is not a recording initially intended to be sold.
If you don't like SRV, well, then you need a doctor.
"The Fire Meets The Fury" is Rock and Roll in its purest form.
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LEGION, the Melodic Hard Rock band assembled by vocalist Phil Vincent and Bob Catley's guitarist Vince O’Regan have recorded three good albums (all presented here) so far.
The just released "Resurrection" is the fourth and final offering from the combo, as recently Vincent announced the end of the project due the lack of support from their label.
For those new to Legion, they blend classic Melodic Hard Rock sounds with some ballsy guitar-based Hard Rock.
The debut was really melodic with a style mixing the rocking side of Winger with Dokken melodies. The band hardened the output for the 2nd 'Code Of Honour', an approach even more increased in the third.
"Resurrection" is the perfect balance of all delivering some truly MHR goodies and a couple of strong hard rockers.
If you liked some of previous Legion CD's you won't be disappointed with "Resurrection", if fact, it's their best production.
A shame the band is no more together as with this album Legion has really tweaked all the knobs sounding tight as never. The songwriting is quite awesome and musically they rock big time.
Besides, "Resurrection" sports the more dynamic, bouncing production and mix of their entire discography resulting in a crisp collection of melodic yet powerful killer songs.
01. On The Outside
02. All Your Love
04. Back For More
06. Can't Get You Out Of My Head
07. Time After Time
08. Halfway Home
09. You Are The Fire
10. The Hunger
11. Free Yourself
Vocals, Keyboards – Phil Vincent
Guitars – Vince O’Regan (Bob Catley / Eden / Pulse)
Irvin Parrot – Keyboards
Bass – Gavin Cooper (Lionsheart)
Drums – Steve Hopgood (Jagged Edge)
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ALLHAZERED hails from Germany with their self-titled debut containing a bag of retro Hard Rock sounds influenced by the greats (read Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath) with a dash of more contemporary bands.
New tags or genres invented lately to sell music put them into the 'stoner rock' slot but they simply play vintage bluesy-rock driven by potent riffs and melodies.
From the first note you'll be transported to those typical seventies live studio recordings with airy reverbered drums, deep bass lines and valvular-amp guitars, and to be honest, these guys have managed to capture the vital vibe of the seminal Rock 'n Roll.
Since opener "All In Vain" AllHazeRed start with their brand of bluesy hard rock and they don't stop the whole record through. And they play it the good way which means on a progressive scale and mixed with different colors which is much better than repeat the same old things over and over again.
Good rockers like the hot "Do Or Die", "Down" and "Into the Sun" are interspersed with interesting slow numbers akin Zepp IV as "Throu' with You" and "Al'Hazred" adding some different percussions into the mix.
"Come Alive" starts with acoustic guitars but a few moments later the pace grows, the overdrive explodes and this song turns out to be a flourish Hard Rock track with a great solo and an oriental outro.
"Summer Kiss" is quite balladesque and nearly sentimentally and because of that the record becomes more loosened and more fun to listen to.
There's quite variation on songs like "What I Know" where the bands looks for more modern influences recalling earlier Soundgarden, but this, at the same time, means recalling Black Sabbath.
In the end "No Regrets" bursts out of the speakers again and vocalist Zeb shows how adequately his pipes fits in this type of music. Those riffs were invented for this kind of voices.
AllHazeRed has delivered a very solid piece of retro Hard Rock with enough variation and musicality to be considered more than 'another band' doing the same old-fashioned thing again.
Despite their German origin they sound truly British in all aspects, from songwriting and musicianship to attitude and vibe. Production is very good catching the spirit of an era when the premise was simply plug-in your guitar and rock openly.
Really good debut.
01 - All In Vain
02 - Come Alive
03 - Chosen Few
04 - Do Or Die
05 - Al'Hazred
06 - What I Know
07 - Down
08 - Summer Kiss
09 - Into the Sun
10 - Throu' with You
11 - Lie to Me
12 - No Regrets
Seb - Vocals, Guitar
Kim - Lead Guitar
Toms - Bass
Manu - Drums
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Spanish melodic hard rockers EDEN LOST have a history dating back to 1999, and they released their debut album in 2005 on the AOR Heaven label. Seven years have passed and now the second disc aptly titled "Breaking the Silence" is here.
Eden Lost plays a mature, adult Melodic Hard Rock very easy to like, conducted by talented guitar player Jesus Laso which provides the main drive of the music together with the other axe slinger Javier Nieto in a well balanced wall of sound, while vocalist Ignacio Prieto has a smooth and pleasant tune in his throat.
Soundwise they are somewhere between the classic '80s sounds and the slightly more modern '90s stuff of the genre.
Opener "Starting Again" is a powerful track which kicks the album in a good form featuring a guest guitar solo by Jorge Salan (Jeff Scott Soto, Mago de Oz), followed by the melodic "Gotta Be Together".
Title track "Breaking The Silence" is perhaps the more solid track of the entire album, a marching melodic hard rocker with a contagious refrain, sharper guitars and great rhythm.
"Ready To Rock" and "Feel Free" are '80s sounding tracks American-influenced with some Bon Jovi hints in the latter, then "Locked In Your Heart" sees Eden Lost trying to emulate the Whitesnake-esque style of 'Is This Love'.
Another highlight on the disc is the semi-midtempo AOR ballad "Hard To Believe". The band manages really well the silky sounds as the other slow songs "Locked In Your Heart" and closer "Times Are Changing" work really well.
More rockers worth to mention includes "March The 11th" with big melodies and strong choruses, the catchy guitars on the string riffing fueled "No More Sorrows", and the slightly Swedish influenced "Sun Keeps Shining" featuring another guest guitar solo, this time by Jaime de la Aldea (Nexx's Patricia Tapia band).
Seven years is a hell of a long wait for a second album, in which time I suspect you pretty much have to start again as fans will easily have forgot, and even moved onto other music and artists.
Hope it's not too late for Eden Lost, as "Breaking The Silence" has the substance of songs to attract the Melodic Rock / AOR audience with good melodies and musicianship.
This recording easily can put the band back in the rock scene and land them into an international breakthrough, something the guys and their manager are working on hard.
Solid, good stuff.
Ignacio Prieto - Vocals
Jesus Laso, Javier Nieto - Guitars
Santi Hernandez - Bass
Javier Gallego - Keys
Jorge De La Cuerda - Drums
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INNER SIEGE is a new band from Illinois, US, which managed to impress someone along the way as they inked a deal with Los Angeles based Roxx Records to release "Kingdom Of Shadows", their debut full length album.
Fans who were blown away when Queensryche 'The Warning' was first released bringing a refined majesty to American metal, will embrace "Kingdom Of Shadows" with open arms.
The guitar work of Kevin Grose and J.L. Prater simply shreds while the bass work of Ravn and drum precision of Wade Helm lock it all down tight. Vocalist Jeremy Ray conveys that same kind of incredible emotional resonance with technical skill delivering a tight performance.
Musically there is a lot of muscle here and it's not relying on a bunch of blast beats to get the point across.
There's some really heavy moments in "Fight On" and "Abuser" bordering power metal, but most of the material is American melodic metal oriented as the impactful "Warrior", "Excuses" and "Ultimate Sacrifice".
We have more commercial, almost catchy tracks in the truly Queensryche-like "Dragon Rider" and the excellent midtempo "Children Of Winter", and even we have an instrumental ballad with the fantastic "What Kind of Love" featuring a terrific guitar work.
"Kingdom Of Shadows" is an impressive debut by Inner Siege. The songs are really well cafted and interestingly arranged, played with solid musicianship.
With this foundation (essential in any good album) the true highlight in this recording is the awesome clean and polished sound. It's thick and powerful, but crystal clear as a faceted diamond, perfectly mixed and mastered by Fredrik Nordstrom (Dream Evil).
Lovers of polished Melodic American Metal, early Queensryche and alikes, rejoice; Inner Siege's "Kingdom Of Shadows" brings back that traditional style with class.
01 - Warrior
02 - Fight On
03 - Dragon Rider
04 - Children of Winter
05 - Control
06 - Abuser
07 - Excuses
08 - Free
09 - What Kind of Love
10 - Ultimate Sacrifice
Vox : Jeremy Ray
Axe : Kevin Grose
Axe : J.L. Prater
Drums : Wade Helm
Bass : Ravn
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Swedish / American melodic hard rockers TALISMAN still remains as one of my favorites in the genre. All the Talisman catalog has just been reissued by a Swedish label with new artwork, newly remastered audio and previously unreleased material.
Their second album "Genesis" is, in my opinion, the band's best and Jeff Scott Soto finest recording ever.
Talisman incorporated the best elements of '80s AOR and early '90s commercial Hard Rock and did so at a time when mainstream musical tastes no longer cared much for this kind of music.
Hearing "Genesis" you have to wonder why this band wasn't huge. Even in the grunge-drenched years a band this good should have broke through to the masses.
"Genesis" is just a fantastic example of hard-hitting but very accessible, catchy Melodic Rock. It's extremely well written and avoids the common clichés. Guitarist Guitarist Fredrik Akesson really shines paired with Marcel Jacob's funky bass style. And of course Soto gives an incredible performance full of his trademark power and soul.
The main album was newly remastered in 2012 from the original masters, includes a different version of "Time After Time" and the track list was slightly changed.
The previously unreleased bonus tracks are real gems; original pre-production demos from 1990 where Marcel's amazing bass playing and Jeff Scott Soto's vocals are left from the original tapes, while the drums and guitars were recorded this summer in 2012.
The new recordings, sound and mix are awesome.
"Genesis [Deluxe Edition 2012]" is the very definition of a must-have Melodic Hard Rock album.
01 - Comin' Home
02 - Time After Time [different version]
03 - Mysterious - This Time It's Serious -
04 - If You Would Only Be My Friend
05 - All Or Nothing
06 - All I Want
07 - U Done Me Wrong
08 - I'll Set Your House On Fire
09 - Give Me A Sign
10 - Lovechild
11 - Long Way To Go
12 - Run With The Pack [original Japanese bonus]
Bonus Tracks: Demo versions re-recorded & mixed 2012
13 - Give Me A Sign [Demo version revisited 2012]
14 - Comin' Home [Demo version revisited 2012]
15 - U Done Me Wrong [Demo version revisited 2012]
16 - Time After Time [Demo version revisited 2012]
Jeff Scott Soto: Lead & Backing Vocals
Fredrik Akesson: Guitars
Marcel Jacob: Bass, Drums, Guitar
Julie Greaux: Piano on 6
Jake Samuels: Drums
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JIMI JAMISON is, without a doubt, a Rock 'n Roll icon.
He has released - in the opinion of this blog staff - the best Melodic Rock / AOR album of the year.
Now, at the end of 2012 Jimi is publising by himself "Unreleased Music", a collection of never released recordings from some years ago.
Around 2005-2007 Jamison teamed up again with longtime collaborator Kenny Mims from Nashville and tracked down some original tunes written by the duo, never released until today.
These are beautiful Melodic Rock songs, some with a country/americana flavor and the typical Jimi Jamison touch. Although including some acoustic instrumentation all are electric-based with a Rock pulse where the magical voice of Jimi takes the central stage.
There's a couple of songs penned with former Survivor guitarist/keyboardist Jim Peterik destined for an album together that never was finished.
One of them is "Sound Of Home" (recorded by Peterik's for Pride Of Lion 1st album) presented here in a more Classic Rock style, and "Heart Of A Woman" which appeared in Jamison/Peterik album 'Extra Moments', but this is a completely different version.
"Unreleased Music" is an official release by Jimi Jamison own label / publishing SongCast.
It shows Jimi's more organic, Classic Rock side, but don't be fooled, this stuff rocks from the heart.
As all touched by this unique singer, "Unreleased Music" is a must have for any Melodic Rock / AOR fan.
01 - Bring 'Em Back
02 - Miss That Girl
03 - Till You Love Someone
04 - The Sound Of Home
05 - A Kiss To Remember You By
06 - Emily Lives In My Guitar
07 - Language Of Love
08 - Heart Of A Woman
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