Thursday, March 28, 2013

SERENITY - War Of Ages [Limited Edition] (2013)

VANGOUGH - Kingdom Of Ruin (2011)


I am not a big fan of Symphonic Metal yet I have to admit when the genre it's well done there's some really interesting musical landscapes to explore.
Austria's SERENITY is one of those few bands in this field that caught my attention with the last album two years ago, as they started to expand the horizons to a more melodic territory.
Now, with their brand new release "War Of Ages" - although retaining traditional Sympho overtones - the group definitely lands into a very melodic, commercially appealing style that will please fans of all genres.
And what a great album it is.

Often compared in the past with acts such as Kamelot and latter day Sonata Artica, Serenity now is drastically much more interesting than these bands, more flexible, melodic and I'd say: elegant.
The musicianship is outstanding as the band is a tight well-oiled machine and the quality of their songwriting is truly remarkable.
Lyrically "War of Ages" is partly a concept record, which delves deep into historical battles and wars. Dealing with the likes of Napoleon, Alexander the Great and Henry VIII the lyrics are intelligent, insightful and not filled with the typical clichés of the genre.

Serenity has permanently hired Clémentine Delauney, a female vocalist to enrich their sound even more, but the star of this band is incredible singer Georg Neuhauser.
This man's voice has been touched by the angels, just listen his tremendous performance on "For Freedom's Sake" or in one of this Limited Edition bonus tracks; "Love Of My Life", a cover of Freddie Mercury's Queen most lovable tunes.
Each song stands out and showcases the band writing devastating riffs, gorgeous symphonic parts and vocal melodies that are infectious. Highlights are "Tannenberg", "The Art of War" and crushing opener "Wings of Madness", but that's is just to name some in this complete, always captivating recording.
Perhaps the regular edition closing track "Royal Pain" is which perfectly exemplifies Serenity's style. This is the epitome of what they are trying to accomplish and the back and forth chemistry between the two vocalists is outstanding. Halfway through we are treated to a stunning lead guitar solo by Thomas Buchberger, who also does a notable job in the entire disc.

With the release of "War Of Ages" Serenity moved themselves from a mid-level typical Symphonic Metal band to the top of the heap.
Not too overly heavy, the sound in this new stage of the band is clearly oriented to melody without giving the energy. The songs are focused and memorable. The more listens and the deeper you dig, the better the album becomes.
"War Of Ages" features the best batch of songs in this genre I've heard in years, and surely will please listeners from other styles with ease.
Brilliant stuff.

01. Wings Of Madness
02. The Art Of War
03. Shining Oasis
04. For Freedom's Sake
05. Age Of Glory
06. The Matricide
07. Symphony For The Quiet
08. Tannenberg
09. Legacy Of Tudors
10. Royal Pain
Limited Edition Bonus Tracks:
11. Fairytales (Piano Version)
12. Love Of My Life [Queen cover]

Georg Neuhauser - Vocals
Clementine Delauney - Vocals
Thomas Buchberger - Guitars
Fabio D'Amore - Bass
Mario Hirzinger - Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Andreas Schipflinger - Drums, Backing Vocals



FRONTBACK - Born With A Secret (2013)

FRONTBACK - Born With A Secret (2013) mp3 download


Formed ten years ago in south Sweden by brothers AnnLouise & Bill FRONT and David BACKstrom, FRONTBACK is releasing today in the Scandinavian market their debut album "Born With A Secret".

Fronted by the female vocals of AnnLouise (or 'Anlo') the band's style goes for commercial Melodic Rock, sometimes Hard, sometimes quite poppy and catchy, always driven by strong guitar riffs.
First single and opener "You Can't Save Me When I'm Gone" (check video below) is a cool uptempo rocker which defines Frontback's sound; melodic guitars, clean vocals and contagious choruses.
Follower "Stay Away" adds a bit of American sleazy to the proceedings through some gang backing vocals with the second guitar (at charge of Anlo too) and the rhythm section recalling Motley Crue.
The good, catchy poppy melodic rocker "Time Is Running Out" makes you think of Belinda Carlisle on steroids, while the soloing guitar of Axel Graneskog is inspired by many US heroes of the second half of the '80s.
There's other nice tracks in the aforementioned style like the bass-pumped "Everything" (infectious chorus), the radio friendly "Heartattack" and the bit generic "I Won't Go".
The material is balanced with the more hard rocking numbers "Rock Disease" (tighter vocals), the US female fronted influenced "You Lie" and the groovy "You And Me", but all retaining the melodic factor.

Frontback is a new really interesting female fronted rocking band from the inexhaustible Swedish quarry. On their debut "Born With A Secret" the band sounds professional and tight through the eleven tracks, well produced by Mats Ericsson (Degreed, Angel King).
Frontback has already opened for H.E.A.T., Freedom Call, Crashdiet, Bullet, Casablanca and many others planning to expand their commercial rockers to the rest of Europe, and "Born With A Secret" is a solid cover letter to gain new audiences quickly.

01 - You Can't Save Me When I'm Gone
02 - Stay Away
03 - Running For Better Days
04 - Time Is Running Out
05 - Everything
06 - Rock Disease
07 - Heartattack
08 - You Lie
09 - I Won't Go
10 - All I Wanna Do
11 - You And Me

Anlo Front - lead vocals & guitar
Bill Front - bass & backing vocals
David Bäckström - drums & backing vocals
Axel Graneskog - lead guitar & backing vocals



STONELAKE - Monolith (2013)

STONELAKE - Monolith (2013)


Swedish rockers STONELAKE formed back in 1999 and although "Monolith" is their 6th album, as far I know the band never reached a remarkable success beyond Scandinavia.
This new release surely will do a name for themselves worldwide as it's a strong and really well crafted recording.

Stonelake's style combines modern Euro Hard Rock and classic Melodic Metal with instant and easy melodies, some catchy choruses and tight, clean instrumentation yet quite heavy in places.
The songs in "Monolith" are melodic and powerful but they have the ability to intercalate into the intense thick guitar riffage some atmospheric midtempos mostly provided by, sometimes, dark keyboard arrangements.
In places, Stonelake style seems inspired by Queensryche heavier era, as the hard rock / melodic metal overtones are spiced with hard-progressive touches. Yet, this band is more direct and accessible in their songwriting.
Singer Peter Grundstrom has a raspy throat able to reach the stratosphere with high pitch vocals when given the opportunity, but the major highlight on the CD is the fabulous and creative guitar playing from Jan Akesson, who pulls out all the stops throughout each track, leading the charge with hard-nosed and powerful riffs, while adding interesting melodious solos here and there.

"Monolith" is a solid and interesting release by these Swedes, efficiently mixing classic styles with a modern, compact sound. Ten songs and 45 minutes is the right run for this kind of music and Stonelake smartly overlaps this trap.
The overall sound has something sharp and mysterious but with easy choruses making the audition a joyful experience. Production is quite massive, with rich multi-track layers giving air to the songs and melodies.
I should mention that "Monolith" proves there can be something different released in the Euro metal-related field these days, effective and interesting.

01. Fanatical Love
02. You Light The Way
03. End This War
04. With Someone Like You
05. Double Life
06. Hater
07. Will You Be Loved
08. In A Freezing House
09. Notorious
10. Desolation

Peter Grundstrom: Vocals
Jan Akesson: Guitars, Background Vocals
Lasse Johansson: Bass
Annika Argerich: Keyboards
Fredrik Joakimsson: Drums



DGM - Momentum (2013)

DGM - Momentum (2013) mp3 download


Italian progressive metallers DGM have been doing bleed some ears for more than a decade, quite silently but firmly gaining a strong fan core base and their colleagues' respect.
DGM is releasing their aptly-titled eighth studio album "Momentum", as this brand new recording finds them at the peak of their creativity with a strong, devastating set of songs.

DGM mix tons of controlled energy, melody and precision with wonderfully appealing choruses, obtaining a sound and style that sits the group at the center of progressive metal, melodic metal and power metal, offering the best of each for whatever eager listener snaps this up. And if you're a metal fan, you really should give to "Momentum" a proper listen.
Lending his considerable talent, shouter Russell Allen appears as guest on the opening track "Reason", a heavy melodic rocker with a meaty riff and a great singable chorus that sets the pace for the rest of the album: thrilling and vigorous.
They follow with several superbly written and executed songs in "Trust", "Universe" and "Numb". Each one offers something a bit different, whether it is a cool guitar tone, explosive double bass triplets, or killer riffs and soloing.

The first half of the album ends with the only ballad of the record, the solidly constructed "Repay". Mark Basile shows how good manages his wide vocal range over the awesome melody and the joint of the guitars with orchestrated keyboards is first class. One of the songs of the year... yes guys.
The second guest appearance arrives in the sharp "Chaos" with guitarist Viggo Lofstad (Jørn Lande band, Pagan’s Mind) drawing a melodious solo over this compelling prog metal track.
"Remembrance" is close to being another ballad, especially in the bridge and chorus, but the verses and post-chorus instrumental keep things a heavier but always melodic.
"Overload" is quite close to power metal yet the progressive overtones are all over, "Void" is sonically more dark but the harmony vocals and keyboard runs makes this one another highlight, while closer "Blame" is the epic track of the album, not for its length, just because the slightly sympho approach that reminds me Norwegians Ark (the earlier Jorn Lande band).

DGM has made one really fantastic album in "Momentum" that really impressed me as the first Allen-Lande did when came out, this is in the same melodic-heavy vein, just a bit more progressive.
The musicianship, like those scintillating keyboard / guitar trade-offs and solos throughout "Momentum" are just stellar and also you can't forget the fantastic vocals and melodies.
But what makes a record great, what makes music interesting and what makes a band distinguishable from the rest is the feeling, the waking of emotions. I find "Momentum" a perfect performance of an emotionless machine.
Production is excellent and the mix - perhaps the more important 'factor' in this type of albums - is perfectly done above and below.
For sure one of the best Prog / Melodic Metal albums of the year.
Strongly Recommended.

01 - Reason (feat. Russell Allen)
02 - Trust
03 - Universe
04 - Numb
05 - Pages
06 - Repay
07 - Chaos (feat. Viggo Lofstad)
08 - Remembrance
09 - Overload
10 - Void
11 - Blame

Mark Basile - Vocals
Simone Mularoni - Guitars
Andrea Arcangeli - Bass
Fabio Costantino - Drums
Emanuele Casali - Keyboards
Russell Allen - Vocals
Viggo Lofstad - Guitar



AXEL RUDI PELL - Live On Fire [2 CD set] (2013)

AXEL RUDI PELL - Live On Fire [2 CD set] (2013) mp3 download


After his early days in Steeler, German guitar player AXEL RUDI PELL formed his own band at the end of the '80s which through the years has garnered an impressive fan base.
2012 turned out to be Axel’s most successful year with his latest studio album ‘Circle Of The Oath’ scoring high in the European charts. Besides that there was also a big tour with shows on different European festivals and even a three night sold-out gig in his native Bochum.
To celebrate this success and his 30 years in the music business, Axel Rudi Pell is releasing "Live On Fire" (recorded only few months ago on Oct. 18th, 2012) that will be available in all kind of formats, from a double CD set to DVD and even on vinyl.

Axel Rudi Pell's band is a steady outfit that has remained unchanged for the last 15 years and you can definitely hear that experience on stage and on this live album.
Pell already has a live disc released with this line-up (2002's Knights Live), so, Is this new instalment necessary?
Well, yes, in many aspects; that previous live album passed almost unnoticed for the big audiences (at that time the Hard Rock genre was not as popular as now), we have the most recent compositions, and the band never sounded tight and oiled live as in present time.
But for me (and I believe there must be many, many other listeners out there) "Live On Fire" essentially is like an enjoyable trip back to my youth when 'real live' albums were released (Whitesnake's Live in the Heart of the City, Black Sabbath's Live Evil, etc.)

This means "Live On Fire" was pressed onto CD with absolutely no overdubs, something you don't come across too often. With this ‘one-take’ approach ARP captured the energy and the emotions of that particular night, which is awesome.
And Axel Rudi Pell alive particularly recalls one of the greatest hard rock bands ever; Rainbow in the Ronnie James Dio era.
That re-created very late seventies live atmosphere is probably the biggest achievement from Axel’s band. Johnny Gioeli’s vocal performance is also very Dio-like although he sounds more like Doogie White to me, the Rainbow singer from the nineties. Obviously as a homage, in his banter between the songs Johnny ‘copies’ some of Dio’s phrases quite literally giving you the impression that he’s Ronnie’s little brother.

The atmospheric feel of "The Guillotine Suite" followed by the energetic "Ghost In Black" (both from 2012's Circle Of The Oath) get this live performance rolling with Pell's characteristic guitar sound and Mike Terrana's faster paced drums. Sharp heavy guitar riffs, crafty soloing and the support of Ferdy Doernberg's enchanting keys in the back.
"Strong As A Rock" sounds live as its title indeed promises with a monster guitar work, grand bass play by Volker Krawczak and smashing drums by Terrana, joint together it is a festivity of '70s & '80s comeback.
Also worth to listen is the medley "The Masquerade Ball / Casbah / Dreaming Dead / Whole Lotta Love / Dreaming Dead" with a magical retro feel. Power & huge choruses in "Masquerade Ball", then the melodic "Casbah" singing together with the audience, and finally a bombastic cover of Zeppelin's classic "Whole Lotta Love".
This is an old-school live recording, then solos can't be missed; Terrana's drums fear the most, and his potent solo goes off with his always likeable display of power and technique, while the keyboard solo includes a cool band jam in the mix.
The prior fan favourites aren't forgotten like "Fool Fool", and other medley includes a partial cover of Deep Purple's bluesy rocker "Mistreated", rightful done by the band.

With "Live On Fire" you can't go wrong especially when you're a fan of the Hard Rock pioneers from the late seventies / earlier eighties.
Axel Rudi Pell's band delivers a honest, entertaining live show through their own catalogue with a slight emphasis on their latest work, but above all takes you back to the times of abundant soloing for all, stretched medleys and a little bit of improvising, all in the emotion of an uncut, untouched full live show.
Something of which I can't get enough when it's done with this top notch musicianship and feeling.

CD 1
01. The Guillotine Suite (intro)
02. Ghost In The Black
03. Strong As A Rock
04. Before I Die
05. The Masquerade Ball / Casbah / Dreaming Dead /
Whole Lotta Love / Dreaming Dead
06. Drum Solo
07. Mystica / Mistreated / Mystica

08. Oceans Of Time
09. Circle Of The Oath
10. Fool Fool
11. Keyboard Solo / Carousel / Jam / Carousel
12. Tear Down The Walls / Nasty Reputation
13. Rock The Nation

Johnny Gioeli - Lead Vocals
Axel Rudi Pell - Guitar
Ferdy Doernberg - Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Volker Krawczak - Bass, Backing Vocals
Mike Terrana - Drums



FM - Rockville II (2013)

FM - Rockville II (2013) mp3 download


British AOR institution FM originally planned the release of their new recording 'Rockville' as a double CD set, but finally each album are available separately. We have presented here the first, now it's time for "Rockville II", just released today.

"Rockville II" features ten new tracks including a new recording of the song "High" which was originally made by Steve Overland and Pete Jupp as SO! for their 'Brass Monkey' album.
They loved this song so much and wanted to give it the FM treatment, and "High" opens the CD in a really smooth way, easy to the ears.
Now with most second CD's on albums these days there is a marked decrease in the quality of the songs but not in this case as the band serve up something special, and with songs such as the soaring melodic rocker "Bad Addiction" and the top class AOR of "Guilty", FM have released some of their best work ever. I even feel that "Guilty" would be playlisted by most of the main commercial radio stations out there.

Another winner is the awesome "Living for The Weekend", particularly tagged by their '80s sound out of their early period - but never sounding dated - showing their gifts for writing and composing are still intact.
With the addition of a couple of cuts deviated a little from that line, like the fat guitar riffage of the heaviest track on the album "Runaway Train" or with the unexpected final song "Last Chance Saloon" garnished with some organic bluesy melodious guitars, FM had provided again a full collection of classy songs to give many proofs once again of their sheer talent writing good, memorable songs.

FM and AOR lovers out there rejoice, because this second part of "Rockville" is the perfect listening companion to his predecessor. In fact, I think it's even better as covers the whole spectrum of the FM style with class.
In reality, "Rockville II" is a real comeback to their childhood's roots, also the perfect demonstration of the FM creative turmoil.
The faultless production is incredibly warm, organic but very clear and polished in the most elegant way you could imagine.
Highly Recommended.

01 - High
02 - Bad Addiction
03 - Guilty
04 - Desolation Station
05 - Runaway Train
06 - Living for the Weekend
07 - Forever and A Day
08 - Paradise Highway
09 - Brother Take Me Home
10 - Last Chance Saloon

Steve Overland – Vocals & Guitars
Jim Kirkpatrick – Guitars & Backing Vocals
Merv Goldsworthy – Bass & Backing Vocals
Pete Jupp – Drums & Backing Vocals
Jem Davis – Keyboards



AVANTASIA - The Mystery Of Time (2013)

AVANTASIA - The Mystery Of Time (2013) mp3 download


German musician Tobias Sammet fronts the humorous, high energy heavy metal band Edguy, but since 2000 the man has been developing a side project: AVANTASIA, which has unveiled his latest opus "The Mystery Of Time" to be released next week.

There's not many occasions where a side project not only has become equally, if not more popular than the main project but the material has grown superior. That is what has happened with Tobias Sammet's Avantasia. While Edguy is straightforward metal, Avantasia is much more grandiose exploring melodious symphonic elements and the material is epic in scale.
I liked the previous works from this project, but "The Mystery Of Time" is just sensational, as this time Sammet goes for more a (Melodic) Hard Rock territory.
For this new effort he has called truly legendary singers from the genre; Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween, Unisonic), Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids), Joe Lynn Turner (ex-Rainbow), Biff Byford (Saxon), Eric Martin (MR. BIG) and Bob Catley (Magnum). Also there's guitar parts from Oliver Hartmann, Arjen Anthony Lucassen and Bruce Kulick.
The remarkable thing in this recording is that these stellar guests not only provide their 'big names' to the front sticker, they are truly part of the final product delivering jaw dropping performances.

Again the one and only Michael Kiske steals the spotlight, as his contribution is outstanding especially on the spectacular up-tempo "Where Clock Hands Freeze". The chorus is glorious and gorgeous as his voice is majestic and soaring. This track is a truly magical moment and a crowning achievement in Avantasia's catalogue.
"Black Orchid" shows that Biff Byfford is much more versatile than a simply metal veteran, while Joe Lynn Turner go to the extreme of his lungs on the feverous "The Watchmakers' Dream".
Legendary Pretty Maids singer Ronnie Atkins throaty growl is the perfect foil for Sammet’s crystal clear voice on the first single "Invoke the Machine". One of the best singers over the last 30 years, Atkins makes the most of his appearance and has one of the best performances on the record. Another quick paced track that features some jaw dropping guitar work from Oliver Hartmann and Sascha Paeth punctuates one of Avantasia’s stronger tracks.

The tender moments of "Sleepwalking" and "What's Left of Me" are breathtaking. The latter shows Eric Martin showcasing his incredible vocal range and a beautiful power ballad is born. Another magnificent chorus rings out and the two vocalists out duel each other in a beautiful arrangement.
"Sleepwalking" showcases unknown female vocalist Cloudy Yang stealing the spotlight as we are treated to a compassionate vocal performance that could very well be on modern radio.
And for the end we have the epic ten-minute closer "The Great Mystery", a monster composition with an awesome mixture of rhythms, atmospheres, riffs, memorable choruses, a symphonic orchestra behind and the great Bob Catley from Magnum sharing leads with Turner, Byford and Tobias.

"The Mystery of Time" is another incredibly strong release by Tobias Sammet's Avantasia, displaying his creativity at its peak and with a band sounding tightest than ever.
Production is excellent and all singers / musicians invited are much more than mere 'guests', they really gives this album a true identity.
I would love to see Sammet concentrate full time on this band. He has already said there's "The Mystery Of Time Part II" in the making and I anxiously await its release.
Strongly Recommended.

01. Spectres (feat. Joe Lynn Turner)
02. The Watchmakers' Dream (feat. Joe Lynn Turner)
03. Black Orchid (feat. Biff Byford)
04. Where Clock Hands Freeze (feat. Michael Kiske)
05. Sleepwalking (feat. Cloudy Yang)
06. Savior In The Clockwork (feat. Turner, Byford, Kiske)
07. Invoke The Machine (feat. Ronnie Atkins)
08. What's Left Of Me (feat. Eric Martin)
09. Dweller In A Dream (feat. Michael Kiske)
10. The Great Mystery (feat. Turner, Byford & Bob Catley)

Tobias Sammet - vocals, bass guitar
Sascha Paeth - guitars, producer
Miro - keyboards
Russell Gilbrook - drums

Guest Guitars:
Bruce Kulick (on tracks 3, 6, 10)
Oliver Hartmann (on tracks 4, 7, 9)
Arjen Anthony Lucassen (on track 2)

Guest Vocalists:
Joe Lynn Turner (on tracks 1, 2, 6, 10)
Michael Kiske (Unisonic) (on tracks 4, 6, 9)
Biff Byford (Saxon) (on tracks 3, 6, 10)
Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids) (on track 7)
Eric Martin (Mr. Big) (on track 8)
Bob Catley (Magnum) (on track 10)
Cloudy Yang (on track 5)



SHOGUN - 31 Days [CD reissue] (2013)

SHOGUN - 31 Days [reissue] (2013) mp3 download


It's a real shame that one of the best albums in the whole AOR Melodic Hard Rock history was never been properly released on CD. We're talking about "31 Days" by English rockers SHOGUN.
Now guitarist Danny Gwilym claims to be releasing this and the band's self titled debut in a remastered form, but the truth is the original tapes were lost in a flood aeons ago, and the transfer must be done from vinyl. Additionally, there's no place to buy his CD version, only a couple surfaced on eBay some weeks ago (sold by himself).
Fortunately, there's as well a new edition (not sanctioned by Shogun) by UK label Krescendo available for everyone since last week.

The story tells that, after recorded the successful debut album with Tokyo Blade, singer Alan Marsh was fired due artistic discrepances. Together with former Chinatown guitar player Danny Gwilym, Marsh formed Shogun during 1984, a name referring to his knowledge and respect for the Oriental culture.
One year later, Shogun released their debut, a very good rocking disc blending Tokyo Blade's NWOBHM melodic sounds with some Def Leppard re-runs.
In 1987 the band recruited ex-Tokyo Blade rhythm section Andy Wrighton (bass) & Steve Pearce (drums) and sign to Jet Records before releasing their second album "31 Days".

"31 Days" shows Shogun updating the songwriting, moving to a more Americanized and melodic sound, still retaining the typical British scent.
The result was this first class keyboard driven Melodic Hard Rock / AOR album with powerful guitars and soaring vocals recalling the style of UK bands like Shy, Peroux and Moritz, or international acts such as White Sister, Skagarack and Surgin.
Just listen the awesome opener "Cloak And Dagger" as an example: this is a pure, classic rockin' AOR delight which has got a White Sister vibe happening throughout. Or the tantalizing synth flurries in the melodic "Love Is A Game", a top class tune with an infectious chorus.
This is the second press of "31 Days", where a couple of tracks were remixed by Bob Ezrin (The Babys, Kiss, Hurricane); the killer ballad "Voices From The Heart" and the MHR anthem "Out Of Love Again".

Obviously taken from vinyl, this reissue of "31 Days" is a more than a decent digital transfer by Krescendo Records of this British MHR / AOR classic, cult album.
A Must Have.

01 - Cloak and Dagger
02 - Shock to the Heart
03 - Voices from the Heart [Bob Ezrin remix]
04 - You are what You are
05 - Love is a Game
06 - Cold Truth
07 - If Tomorrow Comes
08 - Can't Live Without Your Love
09 - First Time
10 - Out of Love Again [Bob Ezrin remix]

Alan Marsh - lead and backing vocals
Danny Gwilym - guitars, backing vocals
Ian Marshall - keyboards, backing vocals
Andy Wrighton - bass, backing vocals
Steve Pierce - drums, percussion



LIQUID RAIN - Bright Obscurity (2012)

LIQUID RAIN - Bright Obscurity (2012)


Released at the end of past year, "Bright Obscurity" is the debut album from young new Progressive metal outfit LIQUID RAIN which is already garnering much acclaim world-wide for its fresh take on the classic stylings of the genre.

Hailing from Berna, Switzerland, the group was founded in 2009 by guitarist Dario Colombo and keyboardist Cyril Stoller and they have a big sound -- mostly focused on setting up killer, often really heavy grooves and melodies that allow the band to really stretch out but not in a showy way.
They do have some vocals reminiscent of the great Russell Allen (just more gritty), as well as a guest female singer on two of the songs, and have an amazing knack for coming up with really interesting ideas that fit so well together.
"Bright Obscurity" is a clever title as the songwriting - particularly the lyrics - are gifted for terminology, the guys surely have a soft spot for playing with words, puns and methodical semantic technical like the Oxymoron.

For such a young band, their music is highly polished and extremely well composed. The opener "The Crooked Path of Life" starts with a great heavy melody that keeps building in intensity with elaborated guitar and keyboard lines over powerful, heavy hooks and has just the perfect intense low-end piano figure near the end of the song.
"Fast Food" is another great hook-filled song that has a great acoustic Spanish guitar part near the end. "Homeless" is almost catchy and commercial (there's a radio edit version for promotion), while the instrumental "Colored Darkness" is plenty of guitar/keys battles with fine melodies.
On the beautiful power ballad "So Far Away" they have a guest female vocalist; Janine Hulliger, the lead singer of another Swiss prog metal band Fragment of Symmetry and who I believe is the sister of the band's drummer.
She's also the singer on the closing epic "System of Illusion" which is divided in four parts (not too long each), and like all epics goes through many changes with polyrhythmic drumming, guitar breaks and synth infusions augmented by a sax player building to a powerful climax.

There are so many great ideas on "Bright Obscurity" from a band evolving in a quite biased style even if their musical range is spreading up, above and all over the Prog Metal genre, so it's easy to name the different influences from Dream Theater to Allen-Lande to Ayreon with the huge prominence of synthetic soundscapes.
For those of you a bit disappointed by the new, more stripped-down direction of some classic Prog Metal bands (Circus Maximus for example), then Liquid Rain might just be the band for you, as their layers are really heavy at places, but they also know how to write great sophisticated interludes in their songs.
The self-handled production is fine while the mixing by Simon Beck is very clean, maybe a little clinical but very precise and professional.
I could be wrong but I'd be hard pressed to name any Progressive Metal groups from Switzerland (unless of course you count some periods of legends Celtic Frost) so Liquid Rain might just be leading the way to new Prog scene out of their country.
"Bright Obscurity" is a solid, sharp, true Prog Metal album.

1. The Crooked Path of Life
2. The Ordeal
3. Fast Food
4. Homeless
5. So Far Away
6. Colored Darkness
7. Rising from Seclusion
8. System of Illusions:
I. Arrogance
II. Breakout
III. Eruption
IV. Acceptance

Dario Colombo – Guitars
Jeff Zopfi – Bass
Cyril Stoller – Keyboards
Roman Hulliger – Drums
Janine Hulliger – Lead Vocals
Norbert Suppiger – Lead Vocals



RUSS DWARF - Wireless (2013)

RUSS DWARF - Wireless (2013) mp3 download)


If there was in Canada two pioneer Hard Rock bands since the beginning of the '80s we have to mention Helix, largely the most successful commercially, but also we got Killer Dwarfs, who managed to garner cult status over the years with their more straight forward, energetic blue-collar Hard Rock.
Front man RUSS DWARF is returning with several projects in the works, the first to grace us is "Wireless" which, as the title suggests, is a collection of unplugged and re-worked Killer Dwarf classics.

Unplugged albums live and die with the voice, and despite decades of commanding the stage with the elegance of a homeless drunk and often ending up on his head, Russ Dwarf still has the vocal chords needed to make "Wireless" work.
The recording opens with "Keep The Spirit Alive", one of the Dwarf's biggest hits and the acoustic treatment this song received is simply brilliant. Maintaining all the power and energy of the original this unplugged version is fresh and alive, taking you on an emotional ride.
Next comes "Stand Tall" featuring a great solo from Mr. Glen Drover (Megadeth, Geoff Tate's Queensryche), followed by "Starting To Shine" (where Russ shines indeed), "Doesn't Matter" and "Coming Through", all very true to the original versions.
The big surprise for me came on track seven, "Dirty Weapons" a mellowed out rendition of this great tune, redone with a hauntingly dark and moody arrangement that totally gives a new dimension to the song.
Closing the CD is one of my all time favorite Killer Dwarf tunes, "Drifting Back". This track is perfect for an acoustic album and Russ called on a friend to add a little spice to it: Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal (Guns N' Roses).

Killer Dwarfs' front man Russ Dwarf has released an absolutely terrific acoustic fresh recording that grips your attention from the first track to the very last.
Personally I find that unplugged albums either work well or totally crash and burn. "Wireless" fits in the first appreciation, without sacrificing the energy of the original electric versions, totally nailing their essence and giving to them a new spark.
Production is damn near perfect for this type of products with warm and clear acoustic guitars accompanying one of Canada's greatest Rock voices. Russ is blessed with one of those instantly familiar throats and unlike many vocalists of his era, he hasn't lost a step.
As his biggest hit says, Russ Dwarf still "Keep The Spirit Alive", showing no signs of slowing down as a solo artist with more projects coming soon.
Very Good.

01. Keep The Spirit Alive
02. Stand Tall
03. I'm Alive
04. Startin' To Shine
05. Doesn't Matter
06. Comin' Through
07. Dirty Weapons
08. Look Around
09. Four Seasons
10. Driftin' Back

Russ Dwarf - vocals
Glenn Belcher - guitar, sitar
Rob 'Zaks' Zakojc - bass and backing vocals
Glen Drover - guitar (2)
Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal - guitar (10)
Kevin Simpson - guitar
Dan Lear - guitar
Kevin Reid - guitar
Cosimo Crupi - keyboards
Fred Duvall - percussion



SPEED STROKE - Speed Stroke (2013)

SPEED STROKE - Speed Stroke (2013) mp3 download


SPEED STROKE is a new Hard Rock band from Bologna, Italy, formed in 2010 by guitarists D.B. and Niko, two known musicians in Italian Rock/Metal scene, also producers of many underground groups in the area.
Their self titled, rockin' debut just has been released in Europe few days ago.

Speed Stroke toured extensively and they were invited in 2011 to participate in Dave Lepard's tribute performing the song 'Riot in Everyone', one of the best covers of the disc.
Stylistically the band has recognizable influences, but essentially Speed Stroke plays American Hard Rock with some Euro sleaze influences mainly in the choruses.
The stars of the recording are the sharp guitars delivered in a wall of layers that truly rocks. The good thing is both are really well complemented and mixed resulting in an impactful attack never sounding muddy or noisy. Speed Stroke's sound is completed by a hard hitting rhythm section and the incisive vocals of young singer Jack.

The overall sound on this disc is sweaty, energetic yet polished hard rock with attitude.
Opener "Sick Of You" is a gritty, sleazy hard rocker plenty of street gang vocals all over and killer stabbing guitars. The middle section fight between the rhythm six-strings and the soloing rocks.
"Nothing's True" is more bluesy-hard constructed in the American way with melodious guitars, same with the cowbell-fueled "Lookin' Down".
With track four arrives the first ballad, and the only weak moment on this recording. It's a nice cut musically, but Jack's forced vocal performance ruins the song. I think the composition was wrongfully arranged for his pipes, because on the other slow tune on the album, "Shine", all works fine.

Talking about "Shine", this sweet tune driven by a simple acoustics and cool orchestrated strings is cleverly placed in the track 8 slot giving some rest to the listener.
Rest, because Speed Stroke does not let recover your breath with a cascade of hard melting rockers such the killer "Out Of The Pen", the highlight for me. It has an assassin riff a la Shotgun Messiah and a powerful chorus, while the solo is hot are really outstanding.
It's followed by the party-like "One Day Is Enough" and the short and aggressive "Trust Me, I Care", where some Hanoi Rocks can be heard. "Age Of Rock 'n' Roll" is an ode to the genre sonically reminding Jettblack, whilst "Flesh & Nerve" adds some melodic sleaze to the proceedings in the Crashdiet vein.
"Speed Strokes Of Fire" is a one and a half minute fun re-work on the 'Great Balls of Fire' Jerry Lee Lewis classic, and then the album ends with the groovy, almost sensual riffage of "The Hunt".

"Speed Stroke" is a solid, energetic debut by these Italian rockers.
While the songs follow the traditional Hard Rock / Sleaze patterns, the band sounds fresh and truly tight delivering twelve enjoyable tracks to rock your backyard party.
The stupendous guitar work really makes the difference here, hot, valvular, melodic and sweaty, but technical and punctuating when needed with pin up rhythms and some monster solos by D.B., who also is at charge of the very slick production.
"Speed Stroke" rocks, and rocks really good.

01 - Sick Of You
02 - Nothing's True
03 - Lookin' Down
04 - Burning Heart
05 - Out Of The Pen
06 - One Day Is Enough
07 - Trust Me, I Care
08 - Shine
09 - Age Of Rock 'n' Roll
10 - Flesh & Nerve
11 - Speed Strokes Of Fire
12 - The Hunt

Jack - lead and backing vocals
D.B. - lead guitar, backing vocals
Niko - guitar, backing vocals
Fungo - bass
Neb - drums, percussion




MICHAEL SHEPHERD BAND - II (2013) mp3 download


Rock 'N Roll is all over the world without a doubt. Hailing from Luxembourg - a country better known for its banking industry than its Classic Rock talent - comes the MICHAEL SHEPHERD BAND. They have been together for more than 15 years touring central Europe, playing in Festivals and opening for Gotthard amongst others.
The band's self titled debut was released in 2002, and now the MSB are presenting their first international album simply titled "Michael Shepherd Band II".

Listening to the album, one easily can assume the Michael Shepherd Band could have emerged from London town or cities like Detroit and Los Angeles sometime in the eighties.
Michael Shepherd Band plays a fully-fledged Classic Rock in the vein of vintage Whitesnake, Bad Company and Journey. While their seventies influences from the likes of Free, Thin Lizzy and Lynyrd Skynyrd echoes in their sound, most of the music in "II" range from stadium and radio anthems to raunchy rockers blended with bluesy ballads.

The guys in Michael Shepherd Band have learned the lesson with wisdom, adding thier own touch to the proceedings.
Singer (and guitar player) Baba has a voice recalling Johnny Van Zant's most melodic era, while the multi-layered Les Paul guitars all over these tracks are fueled by the characteristic valvular-powered amp sounds of the genre.
Single and opener "This Time Around" delivers classic melodies with interesting guitar arrangements and a chorus reinforced by many (mostly female) backing vocalists. Really good tune sporting a solid six-string solo as well.
Some tracks go for melodic rock bounce like "Days Of Thunder" (with a flamboyant solo) and the Journey influenced "Reach For The Sky". Others are more heavy as the groovy "U Can Do What U Want" and "Gambler" (WhiteSnake anyone?) while "Mistery Woman" is a whisky-soaked bluesy midtempo with nice atmosphere.
"Beautiful" is indeed a beauty ballad but my preferred is the organic "Badlands", a very good one with a slightly Southern feel.

"Michael Shepherd Band II" is a really well rounded Classic Rock CD with some traditional bluesy Hard Rock elements.
Good songs, musicianship and production from a band clearly stating that Real Rock is alive & kicking all over the world, even there in Luxembourg.
This album celebrates a time when true Rock music ruled the airwaves and a new TV channel called MTV was just about to take off. A time when 'Rock Of Ages' was a song and not a musical, guitar solos became the religion of a new breed of guitar heroes that changed rock music forever while vocalists such as Paul Rodgers, Steve Perry and David Coverdale were setting the bar pretty high for any future legends.
"Michael Shepherd Band II" goes for that, not as pure nostalgia exercise, just with Classic Rock in their veins.

01 - This Time Around
02 - Days Of Thunder
03 - Beautiful
04 - Reach For The Sky
05 - Mistery Woman
06 - Gambler
07 - Heartache & Booze
08 - Badlands
09 - U Can Do What U Want
10 - Long Way From Home
11 - This Time Around (Radio Edit)

Baba - Vocals, Guitars
Kuji Kujawa - Guitars
Pablo Reuter - Bass
Gilles - Keyboards, Hammond B3
Lupo - Drums, Percussion
Jil Pintsch, Raquel Barreira, Sonja Hewer, Louis Wright - Backing Vocals



LITTLE CAESAR - Name Your Poison [remaster] (2013)

LITTLE CAESAR - Name Your Poison [remaster] (2013) mp3, download


Tattooed, long haired bikers and hard rockers LITTLE CEASAR were one of the best bands in the genre emerged in Los Angeles at the end of the eighties.
Signed by a major label (Geffen) for their full length debut in 1990 the band enjoyed considerable success in the US, but they should have been huge.

Before that, Little Caesar's storming shows caught the attention of Metal Blade Records, giving the band the opportunity to record a song for the label's compilation 'Street Survivors', featuring unsigned bands from the Bay Area.
Soon after, Metal Blade decided to pump the band and Little Caesar released the EP "Name Your Poison", which helped them get signed to Geffen later.
Many Hard Rock enthusiasts (including me) define this EP as the best material Little Caesar has ever released. Not only the songs are real corkers, the sound and attitude in these four tracks exudes the 'real' Californian Hard Rock spirit.

Now, the band, after their return last year decided to progressively reissue their entire catalogue in digital format via the indie company Dirty Deeds.
And you can't miss "Name Your Poison".
I own the original, long time deleted '89 EP-CD (a collectors item) and trust me, the remaster job freshly done in these tracks is fabulous.
This is a Highly Recommended stuff people. ROCKS.

01. Name Your Poison
02. Tastes Good To Me
03. God's Creation
04. Tears Don't Lie

Ron Young - lead vocals
Louren Molinare - guitar, backing vocals
Apache - guitar, backing vocals
Fidel Paniagua - bass, backing vocals
Tom Morris - drums, percussion



BUCKCHERRY - Confessions [Deluxe Edition] (2013)

BUCKCHERRY - Confessions [Deluxe Edition] (2013) mp3, download


Californian rockers BUCKCHERRY are in the music business for nearly twenty years now, scoring several Billboard hits and obtaining Platinum certification sales. But Buckcherry have long been a band which I could take or leave – to be honest, it's mostly been leave.
Their new, sixth release titled "Confessions" has changed that for the most part.

Buckcherry have finally made an album which I can really get my teeth into. Perhaps it's because from suggestions of the band's new label (Century Media) or simply the group decided to give more maturity to their music.
You see, not only does "Confessions" contain some of Buckcherry's strongest songwriting to date, the band's playing is also a step above their previous releases.
The lyrics are more mature than the usual gratuitous swearing. Interestingly, and I know you've worked it out from the song titles, the seven deadly sins are up for discussion here. Some of the texts are quite profound and self-searching as in the opening verse of "Pride". Those looking for 'Crazy Bitch' part two, won't find it on "Confessions".
What you will find however are some well crafted songs that rock pretty good.

Just for once, "Confessions" even finds me warming to vocalist Josh Todd. He sounds really weary at times and his voice has become more worn over the years, which suits the material well.
Musically, the band seems to be thriving with more solid song structures, more elaborate riffs and some variation in the rhythms.
Sticking with the recipe that has garnered them widespread fame and chart success would have been hardly unwise, and Buckcherry have understood this clearly.
I think "Confessions" is Buckcherry's strongest and more listenable work ever. Undeniably, the most mature and musical album recorded by the L.A. based quintet, quite dynamic, thoughtful and well executed.

01 - Gluttony
02 - Wrath
03 - Nothing Left But Tears
04 - The Truth
05 - Greed
06 - Water
07 - Seven Ways To Die
08 - Air
09 - Sloth
10 - Pride
11 - Envy
12 - Lust
13 - Dreamin' Of You
14 - Give 'Em What They Want (Bonus Track)
15 - When The Fire Starts (Bonus Track)

Josh Todd – vocals
Keith Nelson – guitar, backing vocals
Stevie D. – guitar, backing vocals
Jimmy Ashhurst – bass, backing vocals
Xavier Muriel – drums, percussion



THE WINDMILL - The Continuation (2013)

THE WINDMILL - The Continuation (2013) mp3, download


Formed in 2001 by musicians from the Røyken, Hurum and Asker area in Norway, THE WINDMILL is a very traditional Prog Rock band with some Neo Prog and Folk influences.
"The Continuation" is the band's second effort after seven years since their debut, an artisan piece of work full of magical progressive melodic sounds.

Despite opening track, the relatively short instrumental "... Continuation" explores some melodic modern Neo Prog territories, the music developed by The Windmill in the compositions to come are clearly influenced by the first generation of Norwegian progressive bands from the seventies.
That means classic Prog with ascendancy from the English old school like Focus, Yes, Camel and inevitably Pink Floyd, mixed with other sounds from European acts such as Eloy and Machiavel.
Track two, "The Masque" is divided in three parts. The first links with the opening number in the slightly Neo approach, blending Arena with a little bit of Alan Parsons on his memorable albums. It is in part II where The Windmill starts to show their Classic Prog heart, with vintage keys, guitars and flute in a really interesting counterpoint.
Part III enters even more in traditional Prog with some excellent melodies provided by full melodious electric guitars, some wonderful acoustic spanish guitars ala Yes and Hammond organs in the background. The musicianship on this last part is particularly impressive and an album highlight.

Next song "Not Alone" is somehow epic, not for the virtuosity, but for the the revival of the true, original seventies Prog atmosphere. It's a laid back composition with relaxed medieval vocals, flutes all over, a spacial (and very clever) guitar solo and a dreamy chorus.
"Giant Prize" is a short uptempo track with some poppy rhythms recalling eighties Eloy. The song provides a good variation to the album, but I don't like much the vocals of guitarist Erik Borgen, in his only leads on the entire disc. I prefer main singer Jean Robert Viita by far, owner of a baritone register exactly fitting The Windmill's style.
Stirring synths opens last composition "The Gamer", which in fact it is the second half of the album, as includes many parts constructing a beautiful musical journey.
From the enchanting mix of keys, flute and harmony vocals of part I to the Fish / Marillion-like of the last part, this long track features great duels between all instruments in a melodic vein, never 'soloing', just building a solid interplay to the benefit of the musical delivery. An unique approach again of this wonderful pure Prog band.

Windmill's "The Continuation" is very big surprise for this reviewer and fan of good, traditional, classic Progressive music.
Their style hearkens back to the past and yet doesn't sound dated. All songs have something unique, cleverly arranged and very professionally played by these Norwegian top musicians.
The Windmill is a band that slipped under my radar, but after listening "The Continuation" I am eager to get their debut CD and keep informed about of the next steps of this fascinating Scandinavian prog act.

1. ... The Continuation
2. The Masque:
a) Part I
b) Part II
c) Part III
3. Not Alone
4. Giant Prize
5. The Gamer:
a) Part I
b) Part II
c) Part III
d) Part IV
e) Part V

Jean Robert Viita - vocals, keyboards
Erik Borgen - guitars, vocals
Stig Andre Clason - guitars
Morten Clason - flute, guitars, vocals, keyboards
Arnfinn Isaksen - bass
Sam Arne Noland - drums
Brian McNeil (Braveheart) - lyrics



Friday, March 22, 2013

RED HUSH - ST (2013)

RED HUSH - ST (2013) mp3 download


RED HUSH from Rome, New York, have been rocking the US East scene since the beginning of the nineties.
Recorded in 1994, Red Hush sold at the band's shows their self-titled, self-managed debut released in very limited quantities (500 copies) and on CDr only.
Now, with the group working on the second album to be out soon, European label / distribution company MusicBuyMail is properly releasing for the first time Red Hush's debut.

Started as high school band, all Red Hush members are lifetime friends with the same passion for classic American Hard Rock.
The band experimented some line-up changes through the years, some forced as the loss of original guitarist Tommy Grago to diabetes. But Red Hush continued strong and decided to never give up.
Their sound is reminiscent of first Skid Row, Bulletboys, Spread Eagle, Mariah, Tora Tora and alikes, with sharp riffs and melodic solos in the best late '80s / early '90s Melodic Hard Rock style.

Moving and hooky hard rockers such as "Smoke A Little Freedom", the kickin' "Everybody Scream", "High Gear" and the gang-backing vocals fueled "All Night Long" are interspersed with more Melodic Hard Rock oriented tunes like the groovy "The Red Light" (strongly Skid Row influenced) and the bluesy "Breakdown".
Red Hush also lends to Hair Metal as in the extremely melodic & catchy "Friend Of Mine" and on "Leave Me Lonely", which starts as ballad reminding me Mariah's calmer moments, but at the middle the track explodes into a Ratt style.
Talking about ballads, "Take Your Wings" is a damn fine one. Opening with a really well arranged section including clean guitars, orchestrated keyboards and emotive vocals, the power-ballad format then takes the scene during the chorus in a tone bringing to mind one of the best Skid Row songs ever: In a Darkened Room.
The album ends with a rocking, upbeat - complete with cowbell - Hair Metal rendition to Grand Funk Railroad's classic "We're An American Band".

"Red Hush" is a long lost US Melodic Hard Rock little gem packing ten catchy and foot-tapping tunes to party-on.
The production is as good as it gets for an indie release, quite well mixed & engineered by Bob Acquaviva (Boston's Corporate America).
For years "Red Hush" was one of those 'hard-to-find collectors item', now it's your opportunity to discover this hooky recording composed, arranged and played in the late '80s / early '90s fashion.

01 - Smoke A Little Freedom
02 - The Red Light
03 - Breakdown
04 - Leave Me Lonely
05 - Everybody Scream
06 - Take Your Wings
07 - High Gear
08 - Friend Of Mine
09 - All Night Long
10 - American Band

Shane Parry - Lead Vocals
Ray Abel - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Chuck Heath - Bass, Backing Vocals
Mark Madonia - Drums
Mick Brooks - Guitar
Bob Lett - Bass, Backing Vocals



BLUE SKY RIDERS - Finally Home (2013)

BLUE SKY RIDERS - Finally Home (2013) mp3 download


After more than thirty years of being his own boss, Kenny Loggins - who began his career as part of the iconic duo of Loggins & Messina and as solo artist brought us such hits as 'Celebrate Me Home', 'Footloose' and Top Gun's 'Danger Zone', has formed the band BLUE SKY RIDERS with Nashville singer-songwriters Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman.
Loggins call this new adventure as 'Chapter 3' in his musical life, some kind of reinvention for this veteran singer / songwriter, and he can be proud of Blue Sky Riders' just released debut "Finally Home", a very good American hand-crafted rock album.

What sets the Blue Sky Riders apart is the unique diversity and songwriting talents of its members. And it’s not just the lyrical content, but also the ability to craft tightly woven songs full of dazzling harmonies.
They do have a very name player in Kenny Loggins, but probably more impressively they have a unheralded in public yet legendary songwriter in Country Music Hall Of Famer Gary Burr, and a tremendous, well heard songwriter who's written massive hits for other artists in Georgia Middleman gracing this group.
"Finally Home", which the trio produced with Peter Asher (J.D. Souther, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt), is a 15-song, Americana sounding classic rock with several Adult Contemporary, country and rock&pop elements with a sound fitting somewhere between The Eagles, early Fleetwood Mac, Crosby Stills and Nash and the contemporary dynamics of Venice.
Call this music as you want, but this is American Classic Rock, period.

Songs like "Little Victories" (co-written with Richard Marx) and "As Luck Would Have It" display the record’s optimistic undercurrent while also showcasing compelling three-part harmonies.
In fact, from the opening notes of "I’m A Rider (Finally Home)", it’s clear that these three vocalists have an exceptional chemistry when it comes to developing melodies and arrangements.
All three vocalists share, almost equally, vocal leads. Not only do they do that, but it's a very organic way in which they split the vocals. On a project like this, you would envision that they would all be looking for equal time, and yet, that's just not how it works.
Instead, they find their places well, and simply combine their collective sounds where necessary.

The military inspired "Feelin’ Brave" which hints at The Doobie Brothers with wonderful transitions and instrumental hand-offs, provides possibly the best example of the three singers coming together, while also allowing each to retain their own signature touch.
And on the self-empowered "Dream" and the acoustic/electric "Just Say Yes", Kenny, Georgia and Gary are allowed room to spread their musical wings before joining back in layered step for a warm chorus.
Their individual timbres fit so nicely together that even when each member takes a turn singing the lead lines, you can’t help but wait to hear how they orchestrate the unique lines and phrasings of each complex new passage.
The bluesy "How’s That Workin’ For Ya" showcases harmonies punching in and out while on "You Took The Words (Right Outta My Mouth)" different combinations of voices move through this song with a strong Fleetwood Mac feel.

"Finally Home" is a wonderful American Rock album.
Don't be scared by the 'country' sticker wrongfully put on this recording, this is plenty of terrific great AC classy rock songs, full of heavenly harmonies, melodies and yes: hooks.
In "Finally Home" the diversity of Kenny, Georgia and Gary comes through in a blend of styles that continually creates fresh new turns.
It's fun. It's musically great, vocally immense, and incredibly pristine recorded, produced and mixed.
Strongly recommended by this blog.

01. I'm a Rider (Finally Home)
02. How's That Workin’ For Ya?
03. Little Victories
04. Just Say Yes
05. Feelin' Brave
06. You're Not the Boss of Me
07. Another Spring
08. Dream
09. A Thousand Wild Horses
10. I Get It
11. Say I Like It
12. Windeer Woman
13. As Luck Would Have It
14. You Took the Words (Right Outta My Mouth)
15. How About Now

Kenny Loggins: vocals
Georgia Middleman: vocals
Gary Burr: vocals, guitar
Peter Asher: guitar, production
Tom Ball: guitar, harmonica, backing vocals
Scott Bernard: guitar, percussion
George Hawkins Jr., Michael Rhodes: bass
Shem VonSchroeck: bass, strings
Tommy Brechtlein: drums
John Gardner: drums, percussion
Dan Dugmore: steel guitar
Chad Jeffers, Josh Matheny: dobro, mandolin



LOVE.MIGHT.KILL - 10 Mighty Killers (2013)

LOVE.MIGHT.KILL - 10 Mighty Killers (2013) mp3 download


Shortly after the release of their 2nd full length album '2 Big 2 Fail', German / Italian rockers LOVE.MIGHT.KILL and their label Massacre Records are presenting "10 Mighty Killers".
This is a compilation including ten cuts from their last two albums, with the ones taken from the first featuring a new mix and the backing tracks re-recorded by new keyboard player Sascha Onnen.

Love.Might.Kill blurs the lines between melodic hard rock and melodic metal, resulting in a modern sounding European Hard Rock product with an edge.
"10 Mighty Killers" features ten really impactful tracks where songwriting, playing, production and mix by Markus Teske (Saga, Vanden Plas) are second to none.
Love.Might.Kill is a combo that rapidly is gaining a strong fan base all over the world. Not surprising judging the quality in their delivery.
Crank it to 10.

01 - XTC
02 - Pretty Little Mess
03 - Restless Heart
04 - Caught in a Dream
05 - Burn The Night
06 - Home
07 - Too Big To Fail
08 - Tomorrow Never Comes
09 - Brace for Impact
10 - The One

Jan Manenti – lead & backing vocals
Michael Ehre - drums, percussion
Stefan Ellerhorst - guitars
Christian Stover – guitars
Jogi Sweers – bass
Sascha Onnen - keyboards



FM - Rockville (2013)

FM - Rockville (2013) mp3 , download


FM, Great Britain’s finest AOR band - I say this in terms of elegance - are releasing a new album today entitled "Rockville".
Since the return after a long hiatus in 2007, Steve Overland & Co. decided to publish their new recordings by themselves to take complete artistic control of their material.

Anyone looking for anything other than prime-time FM should look away. What the band have produced in "Rockville" is an album that could have been made back in their heyday, more specifically around '92.
This means "Rockville" is not essentially fluffy AOR, it's more adult Melodic Rock oriented. It's probably not as heavy as previous album 'Metropolis', but bugger me they haven't half come up with an instantly likeable, hummable and Goddamn infectious set of songs.
FM have always veered toward the soulful end of the melodic / AOR spectrum, spearheaded by Steve Overland's classy vocals, and that's exactly what it is on display here.

The CD opens with a muted guitar and muffled drums that take a few seconds to burst into stereo (yeah, it’s an old trick) and we’re off with "Tough Love", a mid paced track that rattles along with a strong beat until the catchy chorus kicks in. If there’s something FM know about it's catchy choruses, and this one will have you singing along immediately.
Next "Wake Up the World" is actually one of my favourites on the album. It starts off like a slow, soulful ballad, picking up the pace and moving to a superb chorus that should have hands waving live.
The quality continues with "Only Foolin’", which fans should be aware of from the EP release last year, then it’s on to the first truly AOR track on the album, "Crave". This is a guitar led summery song with a great hook, and although it’s about a failed love affair the melody is so infectious you’ll be glad it failed.
Next up there's a nice little duo in "Show Me The Way" and "My Love Bleeds", two tracks that bounce along very infectiously. The first more poppy AOR, the latter with a chunky riff driving the tune.

We're at track number seven, and it's time for a ballad in the shape of "Story Of My Life". As with any FM ballad, it’s lifted from potential obscurity by Overland’s soulful delivery, showing how his pipes gained a deep tone with the years and sound better than never for this type of songs.
"Better Late Than Never" kicks off with a solid, bluesy riff from Jim Kirkpatrick, morphing into a more standard AOR track which will keep your toes tapping and your fingers clicking with its cool beat and a groove that flirts between melodic rock and blues thanks to Jem Davis' keyboards.
One of the best tracks and surely a future fan favorite arrives with "Crosstown Train", the hardest song of offer here where FM finally get to let loose with some truly big riffage and a faster pace. Jim gets to play with fills, riffs and a great rockin' solo.
The album closes with another two great tracks, marking a full house for the album, quality-wise. "Goodbye Yesterday" and "High Cost Of Loving" both score high in the melody stakes, with the former treading familiar melodic rock territory and the latter with a more soulful edge.

Suffice to say, this is an album FM fans will adore.
"Rockville" is a mature and enjoyable CD plenty of finely crafted melodies in the typical FM adult Melodic Rock style. Not fluffy, synth-driven material this time, but surely AOR oriented.
The clear and warm production allows Steve Overland croon as well as he ever does, showing off the very tidy licks & solos from the elegant Jim Kirkpatrick and the solid beats by Pete Jupp, always effective behind the skins (and at the recording desk).
FM recorded a lot of new songs, so "Rockville II" is expected to be released in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, enjoy this set of polished, very attractive tunes.

01. Tough Love
02. Wake Up The World
03. Only Foolin'
04. Crave
05. Show Me The Way
06. My Love Bleeds
07. Story Of My Life
08 Better Late Than Never
09. Crosstown Train
10. Goodbye Yesterday
11. High Cost Of Loving

Steve Overland – Vocals & Guitars
Jim Kirkpatrick – Guitars & Backing Vocals
Merv Goldsworthy – Bass & Backing Vocals
Pete Jupp – Drums & Backing Vocals
Jem Davis – Keyboards



LOVE and a .38 - Shake The World (2013)

LOVE and a .38 - Shake The World (2013) mp3 download


LOVE and a .38 is a new kickin' band exploding off the stages of Los Angeles bringing with them heavy hitting riffs, thunderous beats and addictive lyrics paving the way as Hollywood's newest rock royalty.
With a mix of band mates spreading from Oklahoma, San Francisco and back down to LA, this eclectic group of men blend to mix into this tightly knit music machine, retrieving the spirit of the real Sunset Strip Hard Rock years.

Love and a .38 have crafted a sound that is both familiar yet fresh, blending growling guitars with catchy, emotionally powered vocals.
Their thunderous American Hard Rock is written in the classic bluesy chromatic style, and although their sound is modern all in this band has a strong '80s reference.
Take as example the cover track featured here; the eighties pop classic "Sunglasses at Night" (Corey Hart). Love and a .38's version should be studied by bands who want to pay tributes and cover songs; they made this song their own and added so much more to make a cover song very enjoyable and fresh. And rockin' for sure.

One of the key items that makes this band truly different are the vocals. Singer Ryan Hudson gives a raw, powerful but controlled performance with vocal abilities that would match and even surpass any other Hard Rock singer currently out there.
On the other hand, if you were to close your eyes listening this album, you would think Gilby Clarke or Joe Perry are at charge of the guitars, playing their signature style of rhythm and blues guitar riffs.
Each member executes their role in the band to make you want to just rock out and have a good time; and isn't that what rock and roll is all about?

Tracks like "Lovely Lies", "Shots At Sunset", "Rock 'n Lola" and "Letter From The Devil" are crunchy, incendiary hard rockers recalling the genuine Hollywood scene of the '80s.
"Lovely Lies", "Just A Woman" and "Shine Up Your Scars" are more melodious yet punchy, while on some tracks as "Shake The World" they add some modern touches.
Seems there's no place for ballads in Love and a .38's catalogue, they just want to rock your socks off.
Dubbed by various industry figures as ‘the hardest working current band from Los Angeles’, Love and a .38 have opened for Mötley Crue, Ratt and played in the recent Sunset Strip Music Festival.
They really seem to deliver just what many Hard Rock acts are missing these days: loud guitars, booming vocals, thunderous bass and pounding drums, all packed with catchy melodies, sonic punch and attitude.
This stuff seriously ROCKS!

01 - Shake The World
02 - Lovely Lies
03 - All Mine
04 - Sunglasses At Night (Corey Hart cover)
05 - Just A Woman
06 - Shots At Sunset
07 - Rock 'n Lola
08 - In The End
09 - Letter From The Devil
10 - Shine Up Your Scars

Ryan Hudson (Vocals)
Justin Emord (Bass)
Domo Domaracki (Guitar)
Danny Excess (Drums)



BON JOVI - What About Now [Deluxe Edition] (2013)

BON JOVI - What About Now [Deluxe Edition] (2013) mp3 download


New Jersey icons BON JOVI are releasing tomorrow (next week this Deluxe Edition) their twelfth studio album "What About Now".
At this point of their career, Bon Jovi has no interest in breaking any ground, and "What About Now" is not likely to introduce the group to those who aren't previously committed.
But fans will find the album a focused and energetic exercise in the sort of fist-raising, arena rock that Bon Jovi can still do as well as anybody — and that is still valuable, no matter how radically musical times have changed.

Somehow lost in their delivery since the last couple of albums, Bon Jovi has not sounded this driven or awake in the studio in years. Even the band haters have never thrown stones at the group's musicianship. With their skills honed by decades on the road, these now mature musicians are playing as well as they ever have.
Richie Sambora’s signature guitar leads enliven the title track and lead single "Because We Can", his delicate acoustic guitar decorates the ballad "Amen" and on "Beautiful World", he chimes away on the high strings with the urgency of a young kid hungry for glory.
Drummer Tico Torres, who still hits his snare with conviction, provides heavy black frames for these bright acrylic paintings; while secret-weapon synth player David Bryan brightens the corners of the mixes with string pads and those fat, burbling mid-range sounds that seem exclusive to Bon Jovi albums.
Then there's the Jovi musician who never gets any love from fans but has become a fundamental piece of solid groove for the group's musicianship: bassist Hugh McDonald. His cement-solid throb anchors two of the best cuts on the record: the optimistic single "Because We Can" with its sing-along, feel good vibe, and the defiant "That's What The Water Made Me".

And what about Jon Bon Jovi itself in 2013?
The singer remains an indefatigable force. Jon sings in this new record with more vigor and believability than in any of the band's albums from the last decade, blowing his melodies straight through his characteristic leonine nose really convincingly for the most part.
His determination to identify with working-class characters gets him in hot water, especially when he chews up all the scenery he can in the name of hard-eyed realism.
"I'm With You" a minor-key grinder that doesn't entirely hang together, is a desperate statement of solidarity with the downtrodden and impoverished. Even if that sentiment sounds a little funny coming from a world-famous rock star, he wants to believe it badly, and his desire to align himself with the poor bestows dignity on the song.
To be fair, the plight of the working stiff has been his preferred topic since the '80s, and we loved then, why not now in 2013.
The love songs on the disc lead with compassion and comfort, too. At least for this outing, Bon Jovi is less interested in romantic fire than he is in sanctuary.
On "Because We Can", he likens himself to a rock, and that's not merely a tribute to the style his band will go down playing, no matter what. A rock is steady and reliable, firm and unchanging — quite a bit like Bon Jovi itself.

With "What About Now" Bon Jovi has returned, at least partially, to their trademark delivery of air-punching numbers with some of the fire from the band's late eighties / nineties style. More rocking, more rougher and with a slightly edgy sound provided by John Shanks' production.
"What About Now" really does show where Jon Bon Jovi and his three band-mates have come over the years: a quite solid and consistent rock act.

01 - Because We can
02 - I'm With You
03 - What About Now
04 - Pictures Of You
05 - Amen
06 - That's What The Water Made Me
07 - What's Left Of Me
08 - Army Of One
09 - Thick As Thieves
10 - Beautiful World
11 - Room At The End of The World
12 - The Fighter
13 - With These Two Hands (bonus track)
14 - Not Running Anymore (bonus track)
15 - Old Habits Die Hard (bonus track)
16 - Every Road Leads Home To You (bonus track)

Jon Bon Jovi – lead vocals
Richie Sambora – guitar, backing vocals
David Bryan – keyboards, backing vocals
Tico Torres – drums
Hugh McDonald – bass, backing vocals



THE CUSTODIAN - Necessary Wasted Time (2013)

THE CUSTODIAN - Necessary Wasted Time (2013) mp3 download


Mysterious UK band THE CUSTODIAN are presenting the debut CD "Necessary Wasted Time". That adjective is not referred to their music, but for the fact the band members wish to remain in obscurity about their identities.
They are a four piece consisting of: "F" (vocals, guitar, drums, keyboards), "A" (guitars), "P" (acoustic guitar) and "J" (bass).
Anonymity not withstanding these individuals will make a name for themselves if they continue to deliver tremendous product like this.

"Necessary Wasted Time" offers prime melodic progressive rock with a modern sound, a great blend of electric & acoustic guitars, diverse keyboards and precise beats.
Actually, it might even be fanciful to say that The Custodians are 'custodians' of the great tradition of English prog rock, art rock and some stylized melodic rock.
What you will hear is some very strong, not necessarily overly complex, compositions that features terrific melodies via a superb interplay between keyboards, acoustic and electric guitars.
You'll catch some of that latter element throughout, but it's especially remarkable on "Other People's Lives", "Persona" and "Things We Tell Ourselves". The latter is also one of the heavier pieces here, nearing a metal edge.

In "Stop Talking" the layered guitars and keyboards lay down a great foundation for the track as it flows through various tempo changes. Vocals are initially processed creating an excellent atmosphere to the song. "F" has a vocal range that blends very well with the compositions and the harmonies fill in quite nice when utilized. One wishes songs like this would find their way to radio stations rather than most of the 'stuff' that is out there.
"Departure" is the track where the synths get more presence, accompanied by a strong, sometimes spacial guitar work.
The ending title track cut "Necessary Wasted Time" summarizes The Custodian's all the best elements; exemplary instrumental passages and fantastic vocals take this almost nine minute track to the top of my list.
This one features some very catchy riffs and perfect time changes, near the end of the song there are some vocal effects that sound a bit like a radio or PA announcer which is followed by a beautiful piano passage at around the six minute mark. The listener is then brought back to the opening instrumental piece of the song followed by a tasteful guitar solo that finishes up the track.

The Custodian's "Necessary Wasted Time" simply sounds great; this is attractive and entertaining prime melodic progressive rock with a modern approach and a distinctive style.
As a debut album, this CD is superb in terms of musicality and class. Each track has you swaying along with the music.
"Necessary Wasted Time" gives you the feeling that there is never any rush to proceedings and the songs travel at the pace they should. There is a terrific balance between the electric and acoustic areas of the band and the result is this stunning debut album.
Strongly Recommended.

01. The Man Out Of Time
02. Stop Talking
03. Other People's Lives
04. Persona
05. Things We Tell Ourselves
06. Departure
07. The Sun Is God
08. Necessary Wasted Time

F - vocals, guitar, drums, keyboards
A - guitars
P - acoustic guitar
J - bass

Increasing even more the mystery, the band has momentarily taken down links to buy the CD (Amazon, CDBaby, etc).
"There is a very good reason for this. All will be revealed asap. Don't worry, its a good thing - The Custodians".
Meanwhile, you can pre-order a signed copy here;


ROBBIE DUPREE - Live All Night Long (2013)

ROBBIE DUPREE - Live All Night Long (2013) mp3 download


Brooklyn-native ROBBIE DUPREE is some kind of a West Coast AOR living legend, one of the few from the very first wave of the genre at the beginning of '80s still active.
At the end of the seventies Dupree moved to the other US coast where the musical trend better fitted his style, and he become one of the preferred songwriters of the L.A. scene.
At the beginning of the '80s, apart from his contributions to big acts, Robbie Dupree delighted us as solo artist with two - at this point - classic West Coast albums; his self titled debut and 'Street Corner Heroes', even spawning a top 10 Hit: "Steal Away".

Dupree not only never stopped writing for other artists and releasing solo albums during the eighties, nineties and the past decade, he has also been really active as live performer (Robbie was part of the All Star Rock Concert Tour a couple of years ago).
In 2010, Dupree signed with Spectra Records for a series of new albums to come and a reissue of his catalogue.
Originally released in '98, "Live All Night Long" is available now remastered and in a redux form, including all his best songs.
This live record captures a fantastic vibe playing to a sold out crowd as Dupree takes the stage to play all his hits to date backed by an all star band including Brian Ray (Paul McCartney Band), Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson) along with his long-time rhythm section of Peter Bunetta & Rick Chudacoff - both players and producers in Dupree's celebrated first albums.

You should be noticed this is NOT a typical 'live' album.
This recording sounds pristine from every corner, these are just those golden West Coast AOR songs played smoothly with all the feeling of a L.A. recording session.
So if you don't like live albums, put "Live All Night Long" outside that preconception.
We have great versions of classics like "Hot Rod Hearts" (co-written with AOR guru Bill LaBounty), "Lonely Runner" and of course the hit "Steal Away", all from the first album.
From his second '81 LP we find the delicious pure AOR of "Brooklyn Girls" (penned by LaBounty), the velvety "Free Fallin", "Saturday Night" and "All Night Long", alongside with other songs from Robbie's different albums.
A must for West Coast AOR lovers.

01 - Hot Rod Hearts
02 - Steal Away
03 - Brooklyn Girls
04 - All Night Long
05 - Freefallin'
06 - Saturday Night
07 - Lonely Runner
08 - Talk To You
09 - Real World
10 - This Is Life

Robbie Dupree - Vocals
Brian Ray (Paul McCartney Band) - Guitar, Vocals
Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson) - Bass
Rick Chudacoff - Bass
Peter Bunetta - Drums
Tom Nicholson - Keyboards
Ann Lang - Vocals, Percussion
Debbie Lan - Piano, Vocals
Arno Lucas - Percussion, Vocals



VOODOO VEGAS - The Rise Of Jimmy Silver (2013)

VOODOO VEGAS - The Rise Of Jimmy Silver (2013) mp3 download


I can't imagine a 'more British' band coming from a town called Bournemouth. However, judging their music style and band name, rockers VOODOO VEGAS are more Americanized than many acts born in the States.
On the debut album “The Rise of Jimmy Silver”, the UK rockers flex some powerful rock 'n' roll muscle, while also baring some serious soul and heart. It's a strong and confident first release from a band that has been around since 2006, honing their skills by touring and playing all over Europe, and sharing the stage with acts like Glenn Hughes, Uriah Heep, and The Wildhearts over the years.

Channelling those years of experience, as well as some considerable musical and songwriting talent, Voodoo Vegas offers up an album packed with lean and mean rockin' tunes, trimmed of unnecessary pretension and charged with a lot of pulsating, live-gig power.
Voodoo Vegas cites influences from Aerosmith, Guns 'N Roses and The Darkness among others, and the music definitely brings on the hard rocking spirit of those bands.
That verve is evident right away, as the album powers up after a short instrumental "Intro" with fierce hard-rocker "King Without A Crown". It’s a kicker of a track and a great way for the band to introduce itself, with singer Lawrence Case’s strong and edgy vocals at their most Axl-like (the similarity is there but less pronounced elsewhere on the album).
Guitarists Merylina Hamilton and Nick Brown get to strut their stuff in style, and the tune also showcases the rock-solid chops of bassist Ash Moulton and drummer Matt Jolly.

It's followed by two other terrific rockers: "Bullet" with a great chorus that sounds primed for a sing-along when performed live: 'one more bullet in the chamber, one more night to remember, one more day in my life same as all the rest', and the defiant and very hooky “No More”.
The stripped down “What I Pay” changes things up with a southern-tinged, bluesy vibe showing off Case’s vocal abilities and some very nice acoustic guitar work.
There’s a short instrumental interlude leading into the fast and feisty “Mary Jane”, before the band lets it all hang out on “Ferry Song” – a fun and rollicking, classic rocker featuring both piano and harmonica playing.
One of the strongest tracks is “Lost in Confusion”, a honest to goodness rock ballad that wears its broken heart on its sleeve. It's based on Case’s own experience of being left at the altar, and not surprisingly, his lyrics and vocals pack an extra emotional punch here. Bringing in female singer Stevie Vann Lange on backup vocals (who’s soaring vocals have previously graced albums by bands including Def Leppard and Mannfred Man’s Earth Band) adds an extra measure of goodness.
“So Unkind” goes all-out rock again with a hard and gritty, saucy and swinging vibe, and finally the band cranks it up another notch with the rousing “Jimmy Silver”, a rough and rocking love song to rock'n'roll itself.

"The Rise of Jimmy Silver" is an impressive debut from Voodoo Vegas. It's fun, it's tight and sharp in all the right places, and also shows off some great musical range and depth.
There's a lot of variety in the songs which means the album never gets dull. Production is also complete, vibrant for an indie and it doesn't feel like a debut album – it's more the standard you'd expect from a second or third album.
I think this may be partly down to the fact that the band haven't rushed to release an album within a year or so of starting, but instead have gained a lot of experience from playing live which has helped with the craft and recording of the album.
I get the feeling we'll definitely be hearing a lot more from Voodoo Vegas in the future.
Really good rockin' stuff.

01 - Intro
02 - King Without A Crown
03 - Bullet
04 - No More
05 - What I Pay
06 - Interlude
07 - Mary Jane
08 - Ferry Song
09 - Lost In Confusion
10 - So Unkind
11 - Jimmy Silver

Lawrence Case – Vocals, Harmonica
Nick Brown – Guitar
Merylina Hamilton – Guitar
Ash Moulton – Bass
Matt Jolly – Drums
Stevie Vann Lange - guest Backing Vocals



STATION - Wired EP (2013)

VANGOUGH - Kingdom Of Ruin (2011)


Classic, eighties-styled American Melodic Hard Rock is far to be sunk into oblivion. There's an increasing number of young bands taking this glorious genre as influence and making it own.
One of them are New Yorkers STATION, who are releasing their incredible EP debut "Wired".

The guys in Station have been touring around the US East area for many years, playing from small venues to big stages supporting the likes of Vince Neil, Bret Michaels (Poison), Pat Benatar and .38 Special to name a few.
Just three months ago, Station went to Nashville to record this, their debut EP "Wired", produced & engineered by legend Michael Wagener (Ozzy Osbourne, Skid Row, Mötley Crüe, Extreme, Dokken, Warrant).

"Wired" is an awesome slice of pure American late eighties Melodic Hard Rock plenty of killer choruses and rockin' melodic riffs.
Single and EP opener "Everything" is a must: sharp melodic layers of guitars, round fat bass, kickin' drums (with a 'that' superb drum sound) and an infectious chorus.
Singer Patrick Kearney has the right vocal register for this type of genre, recalling Kevin Chalfant at moments, sometimes Warrant's Jani Lane. His performance is incredibly matured and professional throughout the entire recording.
"True Believer" is another winner. Do you miss Night Ranger circa 1985? This song has all the elements of this classic band around those years. The six-string work is melodic and BIG, and the chorus just monstrous. Terrific track.
The softer side of the band arrives with "I'd Understand", a pristine, acoustic wonderful ballad where Kearney recalls the late Jani Lane best moments, and the simple, yet elegant playing of Chris Lane reminds me Vito Bratta (White Lion).
"Don't Take Heaven Away From Me" is the more Melodic Rock AOR oriented tune here, with a moving melodious line and a killer guitar solo.

I am hungry.
Hungry for more Station.
This is truly an awesome four-piece bunch of talented guys that seems to be playing together for decades. More specifically since the '80s.
I can't tell you how much exceptional are these four tracks... this is pure Melodic Hard Rock Heaven.
Production is just ec-stat-ic, the best job from Michael Wagener since his work with Ozzy on No More Tears. Yes, it's that good.
Seriously, this band got to be signed by a major label NOW.
More than Highly Recommended, I'd say, Mandatory Listen.

01 - Everything
02 - True Believer
03 - I'd Understand
04 - Don't Take Heaven Away From Me

Patrick Kearney – Lead and Backing Vocals
Chris Lane – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Mike Anderson – Bass, Backing Vocals
Brian Karl – Drums
Produced, Mixed and Mastered by Michael Wagener



BLACKLANDS - A New Dawn (2013)

BLACKLANDS - A New Dawn (2013) mp3 download


Coming from Germany, BLACKLANDS is a new, female fronted quintet presenting their debut "A New Dawn", a musical whirlwind full of diverse, highly sophisticated compositions.
Though long steeped in progressive rock (that are not tiresome at all), the band does have universal appeal that bridges melodic hard rock and even some metal overtones.
Blacklands are able to incorporate the magic of early Marillion into a modern sound, turn into some Toto elegant arrangements and then surprise with heavy prog metal riffs a la Beyond the Bridge with ease.
And all flows like a charm.

Blacklands was founded four years ago by Ex-Heavenward / Lucifer’s Heritage (Pre-Blind Guardian) drummer Thomas Kelleners. Joining him in tandem is keyboardist Manfred Reinecke, female vocalist Moja Nardelli, bassist Rudiger Startingen, and finally guitarist Michael Stockschlager.
The musicianship on this debut is at its highest level, with gorgeous songwriting swaddled in captivating guitar solos, subtle keyboard orchestrations and an unquiet rhythm section. Lead singer Moja Nardelli (of an Italian origin) delivers a velvety performance perfectly complementing the musical picture.

Perhaps the best way to describe Blacklands' style can be found in title track "A New Dawn" where waves of sonic impetus cascade around the vocal duo of Nardelli and Dragonsclaw’s guest Giles Lavery (one of the album's top moments), stippling a portrait of a progressive masterpiece.
Highlights are the driving riffs in "Dance of the Witches" and the nice interlude between keys and guitar in "Remember Your Time", the song with the heaviest guitar crunch on the album.
Another is the fantastic melody in the ballad "I Can Hear Your Heart", a song reminiscent of Marillion’s 'Heart of Lothian' between the over style and the melodic refrain.
The album's most grandiose feat is "Power Play", the fifteen minute epic that which takes on the topic of 9/11 and the accompanying wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The song has thrilling guitar work and more substantial guest contributions from vocalist Lenny Rizzo (Exxplorer) and guitarist Terry Gorle (Heir Apparent). The track represents one of the finest progressive rock songs heard lately, with a smattering of influences from Deep Purple, Yes, Genesis and Savatage. Even better, it holds the interest of the listener from beginning to end.

"A New Dawn" is an impressive debut release with stellar play and mature songwriting, and a high rate of return for your investment - well over an hour of music.
This first album from Blacklands not only lays the foundation for a remarkable future career, but at the same time entertain us all with the quality of the compositions and the skilled musicianship of the overall performance.
Blacklands should appeal highly to fans of progressive rock, but also has enough to fetch those elaborated melodic hard and prog metal fans that dip their interests in that territory.
Above all, "A New Dawn" is highly recommended for any rock music aficionado out there.

01 - Cold Embrace
02 - Dance Of The Witches
03 - A New Dawn (feat. Giles Lavery)
04 - Ocean Of Tears
05 - Remember Your Time
06 - I Can Hear Your Heart
07 - Floating Pictures
08 - Love Will Never Die
09 - Take
10 - Memories
11 - Power Play (feat L. Rizzo & Terry Gorle)
12 - The Meaning

Moja Nardelli - Vocals
Michael Stockschläger - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Manfred Reinecke - Keyboards
Rüdiger Sartingen - Bass
Thomas Kelleners - Drums



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