Cinderella's founder TOM KEIFER has been planning a solo album for almost 20 years, even before he dissolved the band in the mid-nineties.
"The Way Life Goes" is the first new studio material from Keifer or Cinderella since Still Climbing in 1994, and well worth the wait, as it's an absolute belter.
"The Way Life Goes" is a tapestry of some of the finest rockin' bluesy songs to emerge this year. Tom Keifer shines as he weaves his magic of heart provoking lyrics and gives the vocal performance of his career, accompanied by an organic, solid backing band.
The songs are so strong it truly rivals anything on Night Songs or Long Cold Winter. Each individual track shines with its own resolute style, bringing with it a warmth of familiarity like an old friend.
Tom's experience and maturity create stories that fall into place like magic. His rhythms are refreshing while still conjuring the blues and rock and roll he was raised on.
"Solid Ground" start the engines with a stomping hard rock beat that sends the gypsy road dust spiraling up into an air. A track plenty of those harmonies and slide guitar that openly invites fans - old and new - to the party, embracing a sound that while not a million miles away from Cinderella's heyday has both feet stamping firmly in the present. I really enjoy the female harmonies on the chorus – a Keifer staple.
Tom slows done the pace for a moment with the mid-tempo, feel good vibe of "A Different Light". Keifer is really feeling good about life on this one, you can sense it throughout, musically showing his love for American music. Next, the funky rhythms of "Its Not Enough" showcases Tom's bluesy style brilliantly.
He keeps the blues groove flowing with the hard driving "Cold Day In Hell", a swaggerin' track in the Cinderella vein. Works all the way around – awesome hook, catchy harmonies and some slick harmonica. This may be my favorite song on the record.
Keifer has a unique way of making you feel and drawing you into his world with his ballads. "Thick And Thin" is a song that Tom wrote for his wife Savannah (who also did some backing vocals). It is a beautiful piano ballad in the vein of 'Don’t Know What You Got...' with Tom reaching higher notes on the chorus. I love this.
"Ask Me Yesterday" keeps the acoustic vein but this time via beautifully arranged guitars. Totally different from the previous track and even more haunting lyrically. This gets a crowd with their hands raised swaying back and forth because the song flows so well.
The bluesy rock returns with the mid-tempo "Fools Paradise" constructed over punchy riffs to boot. "The Flower Song" also follows this style showing Keifer's classic rock influence (some Zeppelin) with cool bluesy licks and slide guitars.
"Mood Elevator" will blow you away with its intense groove. This song just jumps out at you with some serious flair and attitude. The hardest drumming on the whole record can be found here. "Welcome To My Mind" is quite heavy as well and somehow reminds me Alice Cooper.
Another highlight arrives with the lovable harmonies of the emotional ballad "You Showed Me", a commercial yet personal track with a strong Cinderella wink.
"Ain't That A Bitch" rocks strongly again, very '70s sounding with Hammond organ surrounding and an Aerosmith swagger on the guitars.
Title track "The Way Life Goes" is really groovy via a soaked riff accented by killer harmonica licks, and "Babylon" bows out with a final hard rocking bad attitude shuffle. A sure fire signature tune that's as gritty as any Cinderella were/are best known for capping off fourteen tracks of solid gold.
There isn't a dull moment on Tom Keifer's solo debut. Never mimicking the successful sound of Cinderella, Keifer establishes his own style without abandoning what he does best.
Clearly rock and roll, clearly using that signature inimitable vocal rasp nature gave him, clearly this is Tom Keifer – not a blast from the past. Still, longstanding Cinderella fans will find a lot from the band here (even Jeff LaBar plays some guitar).
"The Way Life Goes" is a truly organic sounding album, you can almost hear its heartbeat. The sterling production is free of pretence and fully loaded with soul and integrity.
This is a winner from end to end, a journey through time. The good times and the bad times, the new and the old, all in one combined. "The Way Life Goes" is what radio used to be. If you were a kid in the '80s, you should remember FM stations playing everything that was worth listening to. This disc would be in high rotation without a doubt.
Be sure to call your local radio stations and request any cut from "The Way Life Goes", or better than that, buy this CD without hesitation.
01. Solid Ground
02. A Different Light
03. It's Not Enough
04. Cold Day In Hell
05. Thick And Thin
06. Ask Me Yesterday
07. Fools Paradise
08. The Flower Song
09. Mood Elevator
10. Welcome To My Mind
11. You Showed Me
12. Ain't That A Bitch
13. The Way Life Goes
Tom Keifer: Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Pat Buchanan: Guitars, Harmonica
Gary Burnette: Guitars
Jeff LaBar: Guitar
Ron Wallace: Acoustic Guitar
Tony Harrell: Piano, Clavinet, Wurlitzer, Hammond B3
Michael Rhodes: Bass
Greg Morrow: Drums, Percussion
Bobby Keys, Jim Horne: Sax
Mitch Goldfarb: Strings
Etta Britt, Kent Agee, Chuck Tuner, Crystal Taliaferro, Vicki Carraco, Savannah Keifer: Background Vocals
BUY IT !
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Monday, April 29, 2013
Their self-titled debut made Germans KINGDOM COME a household name internationally with a catchy commercial appeal strongly 'inspired' by Led Zeppelin. Fans loved it, while peers and press not so much...
But founder (and only remaining member) Lenny Wolf took the critiques in stride and has persevered, as he has turned Kingdom Come into a long, rewarding career.
"Outlier" is the new chapter of his diverse creative progress, expertly positioning his charismatic voice between traditional melodic rock structures and modern sound elements.
Lenny Wolf is a brave man. His last albums under the Kingdom Come moniker have been quite risky, fuelled first and foremost by musical challenges and the desire to keep evolving.
"Outlier" is not an exception, an eclectic mix of his traditional melodic bluesy hard style and modern, electronic-induced heaviness. This recording never dulls and never dips, keeps all the many moods interesting.
According to Wolf, in rock music all has been said, every note possible has been played and every theme has been tackled. So what he has done here? He re-invents himself again expanding new sonic horizons.
Wolf likes to give ‘progress’ a chance to improve or at least take some songs and fans to a different level. He says; "How many times could I write 'Do you like it?' without boring everybody and myself to death? At least I’m trying."
Awash in epic keyboard textures, "God Does Not Sing Our Song" has Wolf exasperating with lines like “So many dying following leaders, watching the planet explode” as big heavy beating drums pound their way through the slow drama of the song, until in its dying moments the briefest of guitar lines appear with the kind of somber touch Steve Hackett would climax one of his compositions. It's unexpected, and damn impressive.
"Rough Ride Ralleye" features some retro electro-drumming against classic hard rock chords, "Running High Distortion" is a mid-paced shuffle rocker with synths squiggling and squeaking noisily, while "Holy Curtain" is dark, with a slow downbeat unthought from a Kingdom Come song. And all these 'new' elements work.
But the man still retains his traditional rockin' roots, and in the uptempo "The Trap is Alive" Wolf's voice finally picks up in the mix and musically crank things up. This track reminds me Hughes-Thrall material from the '80s, and rocks really good.
On "Skip The Cover And Feel" and "Such A Shame" the traditional KC from early years emerges with bluesy Zeppelin encrusted riffs and Lenny's polished raspiness, but immediately it's followed by the spacey keyboard intro of "When Colors Break the Grey", and although the song later ups the tempo with a strong riff and a contagious melody, you realize that Wolf is trying something musically new. And quite good if you ask me.
"Outlier" is not an instant album, but it's truly great. It should be one of the most innovative CD's released in the Melodic Hard Rock field from the last twenty years.
Where I had some doubts with Kingdom Come previous recording, all are dissipated on "Outlier", showing a restless artist aiming authenticity before commercial considerations. And the best part of it is the fact these songs are somehow catchy at the same time.
Despite this broad musical palette Wolf manages to dynamically rock most the time, and rocks with style offering something new to taste. All this fresh material holds an obvious connection to Kingdom Come past with Wolf's instantly recognizable voice, yet musically at once mature and modern.
Do yourself a favour: don't miss Kingdom Come's "Outlier", a captivating, absorbing new way to do Melodic Hard Rock.
01 - God Does Not Sing Our Song
02 - Running High Distortion
03 - Rough Ride Rallye
04 - Let The Silence Talk
05 - Holy Curtain
06 - The Trap Is Alive
07 - Skip The Cover And Feel
08 - Don't Want You To Wait
09 - Such A Shame
10 - When Colors Break The Grey
Lenny Wolf - lead vocals, all instruments
Eric Förster - lead guitar
Frank Binke - add. bass
Nader Rahy - add. drums
BUY IT !
Sunday, April 28, 2013
MYSTERY is one the of the best progressive bands from Canada, and one of the most criminally ignored by the rock community in general. The group has been together for twenty years, releasing the very good 'The World Is A Game' last year.
But there's two clear phases in the band's history; their new millennium Neo Prog era with vocalist Benoit David (in YES as well), and the nineties years with original singer Gary Savoie.
The two full albums and EP from the '90s are really hard to find, quite sought after by AOR fans as the initial progressive leanings of Mystery were strongly impregnated by Melodic Rock / AOR waves.
"At The Dawn Of A New Millennium" compiles tracks from these early years, taken from all the three releases.
Call it progressive AOR, Melodic Prog or whatever you want: "At The Dawn Of A New Millennium" features awesome stylized compositions blending sounds inspired by Kansas, Journey, Marillion, Rush, Triumph and the list continues.
As you see, their style is quite eclectic, by always submissive to soaring melodies. All members are imaginative and accomplished players, lead by guitarist, songwriter and producer Michel St-Pere, but the star here is Gary Savoie.
Imagine a Canuck Steve Perry singing more elaborated melodic progressions, all delivered with terrific tenor vocalizations and you have Gary Savoie. Seriously, you have to hear this man's vocal timbre.
There's tracks more prog oriented, like the hypnotic "Cinderella" or the semi-suite grandiosity of "Shadow Of The Lake" (which has a fantastic AOR middle part), but most the material on this CD goes for the song format.
Perhaps my favorite is the superb "Theatre Of The Mind", a straight melodic rock song in the Journey mould with an AOR chorus inspired by Styx.
The influence from the Steve Perry band also can be heard on the elastic melodic nuances of "Destiny?", the top class proggy ballad "In My Dreams" (a highlight), or the aptly titled, hum... "The Inner Journey (Part II)".
The progressive passages intersected with melodic crescendos in the mostly midtempo "Before The Dawn" are delicious, while the musical variations in "Black Roses" are spiced with some Kansas and Asia touches.
The quality remains in good territory with the commercial Rush-like "The Mourning Man" where a bit Marillion sparks as well, whilst ''Submerged'' has a light neo prog feel (strangely the guitar riff reminds me Triumph) filled with quite passionate vocals.
"At The Dawn Of A New Millennium" features the best of Mystery's early material, hard to find albums sunken under the out-of-print sticker for years.
Mystery is musically an incredibly very well balanced band that can be enjoyed by any audience. There's something for everyone here; AOR fans, Melodic Rockers, Progsters.
Don't miss this. Highly Recommended.
01 - Destiny ?
02 - Theatre Of The Mind
03 - Before The Dawn
04 - In My Dreams
05 - Black Roses
06 - The Inner Journey (Part II)
07 - Cinderella
08 - The Mourning Man
09 - Submerged
10 - Shadow Of The Lake
Gary Savoie - lead and backing vocals
Michel St-Pierre - guitars, synthesizers
Stephane Perreault - drums
Patrick Bourque - bass
Michel Painchaud - classical and acoustic guitars
Richard Addison - fretless bass
Steve Gagne - drums
BUY IT !
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Swedish Melodic Hard Rockers BAI BANG returned on all cylinders a couple years ago with the wildly energetic burst of good time riffs and choruses that was Livin' My Dream.
The CD was received with great enthusiasm, leading to a quick-fire follow up in the shape of their new recording "All Around The World".
This album positively ignites through "Everybody Everywhere" which kicks-in with a chorus; no introduction, no atmospheric build up, no bullshit. Instead it is straight in there with layered vocals, keyboards holding down the back-line while the drums pulsate and the guitars grind.
It is a sure fire way to grab your attention and ensure you buy into this latter-day Def Leppard meets heyday Danger Danger good time rock. From there it is a case of why break a winning formula?
"Gonna Make It" pushes you over with the force of the chant along vocals and tons of bright keyboards, while the guitars are allowed to roam free during a searing solo.
"Crazy" adds to the Leppard feel through staccato guitar licks and a mid-paced attack, while the song that takes its name from the band who created it, "Bai Bang", explodes into view all shaking hips and pouting lips - meaning we're on to a winner.
As ever in this style, a few slower number have to be squeezed in, and if Bai Bang show their best side when they are kicking the air and punching out the good times, then it is in the balladry of powerness where they and especially vocalist Diddi Kastenholt come slightly unstuck.
Album closer "Get It On" shows that having the vocalist hold on to the big notes for any length of time isn't necessarily the best idea, while "Now You're Gone" proves how well the likes of Europe do a mid-paced emotional stomp, Bai Bang simply not having the gravitas to pull it off.
That said two missed steps out of ten tracks is a pretty high strike rate in the world of 2013 Melodic Rock, so let's crack open the beers, get the party started and invite Bai Bang round to "Raise Your Hands", ask "How About Now" and usher in "Summertime" All Around The World - sun, rain or hail, you know they'll bring the good times.
01. Everybody Everywhere
02. Gonna Make It
04. Bai Bang
05. How About Now
06. Raise Your Hands Now
08. Now You're Gone
09. All Around the World
10. Get It On
Diddi Kastenholt – Vocals
Pelle Eliaz – Guitar
Jens Lundgren – Guitar
Joacim Sandin – Bass
Johnny Benson – Drums
BUY IT !
Friday, April 26, 2013
Italians VOODOO HIGHWAY debut album 'Broken Uncle's Inn' was one of the pleasant surprises in 2011, mixing with style the classic late seventies / eighties sounds with a modern approach.
With their new release "Showdown" the group is aiming for some bigger things, as at first sight looking the album cover designed by the iconic Storm Thorgerson (Floyd, Zep, Sabbath and many more) there's definite self-belief by the band and their label.
Taking Classic Hard Rock as a jumping off point, things start in a burst of energy with a couple of out and out rockers: the statement of balls-out intent that is "This is Rock 'N Roll, Wankers!" and the more subdued but equally impressive "Fly to the Rising Sun". The message of the Italian quintet is clear; rock your socks off with nasty riffs and an '80s vibe.
It's a great start and this is immediately backed up by the very catchy melodic hard rocker "Midnight Hour", a more commercial and modern track pumped by a huge bass line and some impressive keys. A highlight.
"Church Of Clay", "Cold White Love" and "Prince Of Moonlight" are all three excellent samples of pure hard rock with a kick ass feel, great arrangements, powerful performances and inspired guitar work.
Allessandro Duo's work here is absolutely a tribute to the late Jon Lord, there's an anchored rhythm section and singer Federico DiMarco is blessed with a midtone range that has the right sharpness for this kind of music.
Voodoo Highway has done a really giant step forward with "Showdown". The sound is fat and tighter, the musicianship is once again excellent and the album includes some amazingly catchy written rockers.
Where other bands in this genre quickly take the path of musical clichés, Voodoo Highway distinguishes themselves with some nice surprises in the intros and outros (seagulls and other birds, cars, spoken words, etc.). Further they've created some intelligent arrangements here and there and the level of musicianship is top notch.
Produced & mixed by Italian team Dysfunction Productions, the sound obtained is bright and clear whilst keeping a certain depth of rawness amongst the tracks, bringing out the strengths of Voodoo Highway.
Which are many, believe me.
01 - This Is Rock 'N' Roll, Wankers!
02 - Fly To The Rising Sun
03 - Midnight Hour
04 - Could You Love Me
05 - Wastin' Miles
06 - Church Of Clay
07 - Mountain High
08 - Cold With Love
09 - A Spark From The Secret Fire
10 - Prince Of Moonlight
11 - Till It Bleeds (bonus track)
12 - Broken Uncle's Inn (bonus track)
Federico DiMarco - Vocals
Matteo Bizzarri - Guitars & guitars smashing
Aleassandro Duo - Keyboards
Filippo Cavallini - Bass
Vinccent Zairo Drums
SCREAMING EAGLES are a young four-piece combo from Northern Ireland, and despite being formed only one year ago their debut "From The Flames" shows a band plenty of cohesiveness and professionalism.
Not so long ago, guitarist Adrian McAleenan, Ryan Lilly (bass) and Kyle Cruikshank (drums) started to write and rehearsal songs packed with classic rock riffs which influenced their formative musical years.
But needed a rock 'n roll singer who would be the final piece in the puzzle, and found in the transported-from-the-early-eighties Chris Fry the right spot.
Inspired by classy rockin' acts, the first comparison coming to mind after listening "From The Flames" is AC/DC, but their music is way too sophisticated for such a generalization. Sure they have a similar energy, but at this point who is not influenced by the Aussie legends?
I hear several affectations in Screaming Eagle's sound, like Foghat, Free, the bluesy side of more contemporary acts such as Little Caesar or Airbourne, and of course Bad Company, fundamentally from Chris Fry which sounds like a cross of Paul Rodgers and Chris Cornell.
This band really do have a solid back line with the bass and drums locking together like cogs in a well-oiled music machine, providing the concrete foundation for which guitarist Adrian McAleenan rocks through on many an occasion with some hot finger work and complimenting the tracks with consistent tone and chunky riffs.
The music in "From The Flames" is direct, straight hard rockers in the very traditional way. Nothing new, but all really well played and arranged in a catchy way.
The energy is unleashed from the go with "All The Way" introducing us to the powerful and bluesy pipes of Fry. "Down To The River" rocks in a hard-boogie swag, while a total raw passion outcrop through the darkness of "Devil In The Dust".
These in your face hard rockers are driven by the intense riffage of McAleernan, who finds more room for soloing primarily in "Fight The Fire" and "One Man Revolution". There is a strong Rolling Stones essence within the penultimate track "Blood" which gives us a glimpse of the rock 'n roll these boys have in their veins.
"From The Flames" offers 10 classic hard rock tunes full of energy and rip-roaring attitude, but quite 'polished' in its delivery. I mean, Screaming Eagles rocks, yet not in a sweaty / gritty way.
This young band owns a musicianship and aplomb much ahead of their incipient foundation. They have captured and distilled the 'classic sound' of the genre, not only providing in some ways a tribute to the rock greats but also demonstrating how new music can encapsulate such a formula of composition and still be fresh and exciting.
Recorded in Ireland but mastered in California, the production in "From The Flames" is fabulous for an independent self-managed product, even far superior to many major releases.
Really Good Classic Hard Rock, nothing more, nothing less.
01. All The Way
02. Down The River
03. Hungry For More
04. Fight The Fire
06. Devil In The Dust
07. Rock N Roll Soul
08. One Man Revolution
10. Take My Time
Vocals - Chris Fry
Guitar - Adrian McAleenan
Bass - Ryan Lilly
Drums - Kyle Cruikshank
BUY IT !
DEEP PURPLE, perhaps the most influential British rock band of all time, are back after 8 years with an album completely made of new studio material; "Now What?!".
First of all, let's dispense with the hype; the record label claiming that the new Purple album is a cross between Made in Japan and Machine Head (or words to that effect) is just that, hype, and a bit unfair to both incarnations of the band, the current and the one responsible for those masterworks.
After all, the two main soloists in the band are different people, impossible to compare to each other.
What is definitely NOT hype is that on "Now What?!" Deep Purple do what they do best, what they have done on numerous occasions in the past; going against the rule book. Consciously or not, they look at what people expect from Purple, and then proceed to not pay any attention to it.
They've done it with In Rock, Fireball, Come Taste The Band, Purpendicular and now once again with "Now What?!".
This is the most unusual, interesting, unexpected album Purple have done for a very long time: the definition of a progressive rock band.
I shall not go into the usual track-by-track thing, I'l just single out things like the plethora of circular riffs on “Aprez Vous”, the complex construction of things like “Uncommon Man”, “Body Line” and “Blood From A Stone”, the hooks and melodies on “A Simple Song” or “Out Of Hand”, the horror movie atmosphere on the appropriately titled “Vincent Price” (a standout with Gillan’s weird, treated vocals and awesome keyboards), and lots of other interesting stuff.
It’s telling that the single features two tracks so vastly different to one another – a classic Purple rocker and what is perhaps the most…sly song they’ve ever done, see, “All The Time In The World” is so simple, almost unremarkable at first listen, but gets you well and truly hooked, until you feel it's one of the absolute best songs they have ever written.
This is an album quite densely packed with ideas that it can only be fully enjoyed through repeated listens.
Purple recorded and mixed the album in Nashville with producer Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd's The Wall, Alice Cooper, Kiss) who has provided some kind of a 'widescreen' sound.
Certainly I don't think anyone has managed to capture Gillan’s voice so well in recent years, while instrumentally the album is dominated by Morse’s bluesier playing, the one that regular concert goers have been experiencing on recent tours, and by Don Airey immense variety of keyboard / synth sounds. Rhythm-section watchers will have a lot to sink their teeth into as well.
"Now What?!" has been well worth the eight year wait since the last studio album. These veterans don't need to prove anything, they are Hard Rock demigods (at this point, Classic Rock), and still can play & write a good tune.
This is a Deep Purple album to enjoy, explore, cherish and be proud of.
Seeing as the CD is dedicated to Jon Lord, I only wish he was around to enjoy it as well. He would have been very proud indeed.
01 - A Simple Song
02 - Weirdistan
03 - Out of Hand
04 - Hell to Pay
05 - Body Line
06 - Above and Beyond
07 - Blood from a Stone
08 - Uncommon Man
09 - Apres Vous
10 - All the Time in the World
11 - Vincent Price
12 - It'll Be Me (Exclusive Bonus Track)
Ian Gillan - vocals
Steve Morse - guitar
Roger Glover - bass
Don Airey - keyboards
Ian Paice - drums
Produced and Mixed by Bob Ezrin
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Full no cuts - thanks to RingMaster
Take the classic essence of traditional British Hard Rock, infuse it into the melodic prowess of Joey Tempest's Europe, and then wrap it in the mischief of Tenacious D. as well as the glam rascality of Steel Panther and The Treatment… the result is WHITE PIGEON, a band who take all of the above as influences and create their own form of accomplished rioting.
The UK band has just released their debut album "Property Of White Pigeon", a record which hits the ear with relish to cause devilment whilst treating it to tightly crafted inventive (and fun) sounds.
Hailing from Guildford, White Pigeon was formed in 2009 by Chris Nugent, a drummer (and also a keen close up magician and squash player) who in his own words said he spent his earlier musical exploits “trying to be uber cool for many years and playing music that was ‘fashionable’.”
After ten years of this he decided to start his own project, moving forward to take on the role of vocalist and guitarist with the intent to play music which lit his own personal fires.
Finding the best musicians his hometown had to offer Nugent recruited guitarist Jon Antony and drummer Joe Yoshida plus the twin melodic charms of Nathalia and Natasha Sohl as backing vocalists. Soon completed by bassist Eoghan Logue, the band released their debut EP to strong responses as well as earning a great reputation for their insatiably energetic live shows locally and in notable London venues which included the sharing of stages with the likes of New Device, Sons of Icarus and The Treatment.
This first full length self-released CD is the next step on the way to igniting national recognition for White Pigeon and a formidable persuasion it is.
The album seizes the ear from first note to last to provide an energetic brawl of fun and music, being the first track "Party" the perfect title for the feisty and enjoyable encounter. The opener takes no time in feeding your senses with hot guitar melodies and primes riffs driven by infectious vocals and warm inviting keys. The vocals from Nugent and the twins ignites hunger to join the revelry whilst the sounds control the feet and directs their responses to the anthemic lures eagerly at play with great efficiency.
As the album, the song is a keen and rebellious slice of hard rock with a honesty of trying not to be anything more than what it is, energetic and cheekily voracious.
Next, "Sea Devil" is a stomp of fiery riffs and firm tidy rhythms which like its predecessor has a magnetic hold on the ears within the first pleasing moments of its stroll. The vocals again send harmonic flames through the track whilst the guitar solo and enterprise is burningly glorious and uncompromisingly mesmeric. A commercial catchy track in the first Ugly Kid Joe style mixed with Steel Panther.
The likes of "The Hunt" and the following slower rocker "Kentucky Pie" continue the strong allure of the album, the latter adding some clean guitars to the proceedings.
"Rock Me" explores its intense sinews to bring a heavier and rampant taunt upon the passions in a very tongue-in-cheek American Hair Metal vein. One of the biggest highlights of the CD it again offers nothing new but has a freshness and persuasion which any refusal to join its thumping cause would be rude let alone impossible.
"Ladies" is a commercial midtempo ballad not to be taken so seriously (this band is ironic all the time) with a nice melodious solo. "Get Me Outta Here" is an OK rocker, but slips a bit below the already compositional high levels showed on the other tracks.
It is just the only moment of doubt though, as further songs like the compelling and fun "Don't Get Too Close (Squash Song)" and the intoxicating "Gladiator" with their metallic muscular stance and varied gait inventive leave greater rewards and satisfaction.
Final track titled as the band, "White Pigeon", starts as a classic melodic rocker strongly infused with keyboards and cool harmony vocals, then in the middle ups the tempo showing the group's love for traditional Brit Hard through a tight instrumentation.
As soon as you play "Property Of White Pigeon" you will notice that fresh, funny, rockin' & playful attitude of the band.
Elements from classic hard rock, glam, melodic rock and hair metal are all blended together with a satirical / funny mood. The guys do not take themselves too seriously and that's the good part of it.
But don't be fooled, the abilities and musicianship in White Pigeon are top notch with the guitars sculpting terrific fires and the bass prowling with hunger and resourcefulness, whilst the drums frame it all with skill and clear determination. Additionally, Chris Nugent's singing is cool with some Bret Michaels' vibe and the sweet melodic voices of the attractive twins enrich the band's musical context a lot.
Production is crunchy and bright (I love especially the drum / guitar sound obtained), really solid for an indie project.
White Pigeon gotta be signed by a major label pronto, a band with a promise to head up British glam/metal scene in the near future.
01 - Party
02 - Sea Devil
03 - The Hunt
04 - Kentucky Pie
05 - Rock Me
06 - Ladies
07 - Don't Get Too Close (Squash Song)
08 - Get Me Outta Here
09 - Gladiator
10 - White Pigeon
Chris Nugent - Vocals, Guitar
Jon Antony - Guitar
Joe Yoshida - Drums
Eoghan Logue - Bass
Nathalia Sohl - Vocals
Natascha Sohl - Vocals
BUY IT !
Melodic Hard Rock band BADHOVEN born in the nineties in Graz, Austria, releasing a couple of albums locally under a different name. By 2000, they changed to the present moniker debuting with 'Behind the Masquerade' the following year.
This CD become a much sought after piece amongst fans of the genre, as was published by a small German label. Indeed, it is one of those 'hard to find' little gems.
Badhoven managed to release a good second disc and a DVD during the past decade, and now are returning to the scene with another solid recording: "Obsession".
Badhoven plays quality Melodic Hard Rock inspired by the eighties / early nineties sound with heaps of melody and professional musicianship. Composition wise, they are truly impressive and varied, showing a high level of consistency and injecting many different aspects to their songs.
In the harder tracks Badhoven's style recall their German neighbours, while in the more melodic songs we can hear some hints from British acts.
All the material included in "Obsession" has its own appeal and is really catchy. Perhaps the only weak moment here is "Fight For Our Rights", a linear rocker with poor lyrics.
But songs like the bouncy melodic hard rocker title track "Obsession", "I Will Be There", the crunchy "Legends Of Rock", the bluesy "Time Doesn't Matter" or the British-inspired "All Or Nothing" are strong, vital, showing Badhoven as capable of writing and perform some genuine punchy rockers with style.
They have a true Melodic Rock heart as well, as heard on the keyboard injected "Rock You Hard", the pulsating midtempo "More Than A Lifetime" (a highlight) and on the beautiful "When I Found You", filled with lovable keyboards and nice harmony vocals. All of these sport great choruses, sometimes very close to Canadian AOR.
The semi ballad "My Brother's Red Guitar" is another high point in this recording with some nineties Gotthard & Scorpions feel, and the proper balladesque of "She Is So Beautiful" adorned with acoustics, although a bit cheesy, is delicious.
Badhoven is one of those 'hidden wonders', in this case, behind the Austrian Alps.
"Obsession" is another really fine release by these unknown quality Melodic Hard Rockers plenty of catchy melodies and solid riffs.
Kurt Greilberger owns a very clear and melodious vocal register and also blends the six strings with class, while his bandmates work is second to none. Production is truly classic-sounding, crisp and earthy, skillfully mixed as well.
Probably most of you never heard about Badhoven... let me tell you these guys are really impressive in their game: traditional Melodic Hard Rock with class.
01 - Obsession
02 - Fight For Our Rights
03 - Rock You Hard
04 - I Will Be There
05 - More Than A Lifetime
06 - Legends Of Rock
07 - My Brother's Red Guitar
08 - She Is So Beautiful
09 - When I Found You
10 - Time Doesn't Matter
11 - All Or Nothing
Kurt C Greilberger - lead vocals, guitars
Gerhard Paar - keyboards, vocals
Erwin Lichtenegger - bass, vocals
Gerd Sojka - drums, vocals
BUY IT !
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Hailing from Italy, MASTERCASTLE were founded in January 2008 by guitar player Pier Gonella (Athlantis, ex-Labyrinth) and female singer Giorgia Gueglio. Since then they have released 3 full-length albums very well accepted by the metal community.
I didn't dig their mixture of neo-classical and some Power Metal from the previous recordings, but their brand new CD "On Fire" is a completely different story.
Fortunately, Matercastle has changed their musical approach to a much more melodious rockin' style, still retaining neo-classical influences in some instrumentation (specially the solos) and the edgy vibe, but never sounding harsh or too heavy.
Led by the now more polished yet powerful vocals of Gueglio and Gonella's amazing fret work, "On Fire" marks the first release from Mastercastle with one of the world's most respected drummers; John Macaluso (Ark, Yngwie, James LaBrie). This new addition has given the band a solid backbone not only thanks to Macaluso's great fills, but also in the overall sound.
"On Fire" it's a worthy title: every song here will burn up your speakers with rocking melodic songs. You'll note that the compositions have some metal or reference to metal in the title, but that's just for pure entertainment value.
Except the speedy "Quicksilver" which is powerful and fast with superb neo-classical shredding solos, the rest of the album is really melodic accentuated by Gueglio's vocal arrangements.
There's notable burning rockers in the catchy "Silver Eyes", the groovy "Leaden Roads", "Platinum" (featuring Giorgia's most haunting vocals) and the hugely addictive mid-tempo "Chains". "Gold Violet" is a charming ballad in the good old-fashioned way and again I should mention a great solo.
There are two splendid instrumentals: "The Final Battle" featuring varied licks and arpeggios, and a really interesting interpretation of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata titled "Almost A Fantasy" more emphasized on emotion and musicality than on mere virtuosism.
With "On Fire" Mastercastle finally has impressed my melodic ears with a bunch of very well crafted rocking songs.
Pier Gonella is a talented guitar virtuoso in the Vinnie Moore style, and this time has privileged the melodies over the pyrotechnics which benefits the 'song format' in this new Mastercastle musical approach.
Giorgia Gueglio's voice is instantly likeable, more clean and flexible than never. The album lacks keyboards but thanks to Steve Wavamas noticeable bass work each gap is filled with his warm middle range sound, joined by John Macaluso's mastery adding powerful and neat drums.
With a polished production and a proper length (around 40 min.) "On Fire" rocks solid and in a quite melodic, enjoyable way.
01 - Silver Eyes
02 - Chains
03 - Platinum
04 - Quicksilver
05 - Gold Violet
06 - The Final Battle
07 - Leaden Roads
08 - Titanium Wings
09 - Almost A Fantasy
Giorgia Gueglio - vocals
Pier Gonella - guitars
Steve Vawamas - bass
John Macaluso - drums
BUY IT !
British guitarist Stuart Smith started the project / band HEAVEN & EARTH in the nineties releasing a highly praised first album in 1998, an then two more in 2001 and 2004 respectively.
The band's lovable style akin traditional Hard Rock acts plenty of valvular-generated riffs, Hammond B3 organ and classic choruses received instant support from many superstars in the genre who cooperated on all three recordings: Glenn Hughes, Joe Lynn Turner, Carmine Appice, Richie Sambora, just to name few.
“Dig” marks an eventful return of what started more as a Stuart Smith solo project to an actual recording band, and the synergetic force of all involved shows with passionate fruition and hard labor.
After almost a 10-year hiatus, Heaven & Earth returns with a new line up including vocalist Joe Retta from Sweet fame fronting the band.
And holding all together are not only the great vocals of Retta, but the return of vintage keyboard / Hammond master Arlan Schierbaum, Chuck Wright (House of Lords, Quiet Riot) at charge of the groovy bass lines, The Sweet's Richie Onori behind the skins, as well as the mastermind behind these classic hooks in Stuart Smith himself; a multi faceted player who was tutor by one of the all time best: the great Ritchie Blackmore.
While Smith brought forward the guitar riffs and the rest of the band ran away with the songs, Retta with it's tremendous vocals wrote vocal melodies and lyrics.
The sound featured on “Dig” is extremely polished and really displays all instruments in crystal clear sound, opening things up nicely for the band’s overall mix of modern and vintage melodic hard rock tones.
The album opens through the dark groove of “Victorious” with an added middle eastern vibe going on. This is one of the hardest songs on the recording, with a good unexpected riff keeping things interesting. Retta just explodes on the mic letting his banshee vocal operatic talent take helm and sound like a vocal god, and Schierbaum chords are majestic and bring a transfusion of art and transient vibe to the fold.
“No Money, No Love” is a nod to the old school melodic rock / hard rock crowd, a nice driving rhythm brings shades of bands like Heartland and a little bit of Joe Lynn Turner solo work for good measure.
But the goodness doesn't stop there, another great tune stands in the ballad “I Don't Know What Love Is” which has Retta moving the melodic chains with sway and smooth, whilst some nice piano led rhythm gives way to some outstanding vocal harmonization by the band.
“House Of Blues” is indeed, a bluesy hard rocker in the Rainbow vein driven by a fat groove and an addicting hook, followed by one of the highlights; “Waiting for the End of The World”. With it's melodramatic entry, this greatly composed melodic track rocks with a climatic riff, zig-zag drumming and Joe Retta just pushing the boundaries with another addictive chorus bringing memories of Kansas.
Shades of Whitesnake appears in the awesome "Sexual Insanity", the catchy, foot-tapping "Rock & Roll Does" pays tribute to Bad Co. (Retta really sounds like Paul Rodgers here) and the slow "A Day Like Today" is beautiful arranged with some progressive juglar melodies.
"Good Times" ups the tempo again with a bouncy rhythm (nice percussion touch) tons of Hammond B3 and a little Purple feel, while "Live As One" wrap the album in the form of an emotional, classic ballad.
After years of stopping and starting, adjusting and shifting, “Dig” finally establishes Heaven & Earth as a 'real band'.
Stuart Smith got it right; no matter how long it took to make it, they got it right everything from the classic production, to the riffs, to the incredible keyboard sound, the propelling vocals, the concept, the impressive artwork designed by Glen Wexler (Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Slaughter), it all just fits and puts every classic rocker back in time where this music once rule the land.
“Dig” will be released on CD and vinyl (this album deserves this format), but seems the distribution has been delayed some weeks. When you see this baby available don't hesitate to take home a copy, it's a very recommendable purchase.
01 - Victorious
02 - No Money, No Love
03 - I Don't Know What Love Is
04 - Man & Machine
05 - House Of Blues
06 - Back In Anger
07 - Waiting For The End Of The World
08 - Sexual Insanity
09 - Rock & Roll Does
10 - A Day Like Today
11 - Good Times
12 - Live As One
Joe Retta: Vocals
Stuart Smith: Guitars
Arlan Schierbaum: Keyboards, Hammond B3
Chuck Wright: Bass
Richie Onori: Drums, Percussion
BUY IT !
Monday, April 22, 2013
Polish Prog band OSADA VIDA has been around in one shape or another since the late '90s, and since then they have released five full length albums during the past decade.
I never heard about them or their music before, but when I read singer Marek Majewski joined the band last year, knew I ought to investigate. Marek is the ex-vocalist of Acute Mind, to me, the group responsible for the best Prog record in 2010 (presented here, look in 'Labels').
“Particles” is Osada Vida's just released new CD with the new line-up, and indeed is a pleasure to listen to.
Seems Osada Vida has developed their style into a fantastic blend of melodic Neo Prog sounds with solid rocking overtones, never resulting too heavy but adding power and substance to their music.
“Particles” is a highly accessible modern Prog album presenting nine strong individual pieces each intended to stand alone as a 'song', and this will certainly open doors to the Melodic Rock audience.
Opening track "Hard-Boiled Wonderland" gives us an idea of the band's classic Prog influences but morphed into an updated bright sound. While the pounding riffs are deliciously heavy, the feel is extremely melodic almost reaching an Euro Melodic Hard Rock status.
Follower "Stronger", as title says, strongly reveals Osada Vida's penchant for a commercial melodic style still retaining the elegance and plasticity of their elaborated progressive origins. The highlight of the song is some fine guitar / keyboard interplay and Majewski's wide vocalizations.
"Fear" retains the pulsating enthusiasm of its predecessors with the infectious choruses leading to the repeated climatic refrain of the track title. "Those days" offers something of a breather; while hardly a ballad, the song is lyrically reflective and musically a bit softer.
"Shut" features Tomasz 'Sivy' Biskup from Polish metal band Tuff Enuff providing growled type vocals and a dynamic lead guitar solo (he also co-writes the song). Those vocally harsh verses alternate with melodic choruses in a song that is something of a departure for the band from their prog foundations, and adds an interesting variation to the album.
Next, "David's Wasp" offers a huge contrast with the previous track, as it's a soft, drifting instrumental featuring some of Bartek Bereska finest soloing. The man is a skilled and tasteful six-string blender for sure.
"Different Worlds" maintains the more direct rocking approach, while "Until You're Gone" is an out and out rock ballad with an anthemic chorus.
The album closes with "Mighty World", a song that returns us to the heavier frantic riffs of the opener, crowned with the positive vibes from the chorus.
But we still have more from Osada Vida; as bonus track, an adventurous cover of Metallica's "Master Of Puppets" that will surprise many. I don't want to reveal the band's treatment on this classic song, but I assure you it's great.
Although “Particles” should be tagged as Progressive Rock, on this new album from Osada Vida the melodic, accessible nature of the songs should appeal to a wider audience.
This music comes across as a playful and innovative at the same time, with pleasing moods and melodies combined with excellent musicianship, great vocals and fine production.
Hope “Particles” receives the right push from their management and the media because this band truly deserves to be listened by a major public.
We are strongly recommending it with enthusiasm to every reader of this blog.
01. Hard-Boiled Wonderland
04. Those Days
06. David's Wasp
07. Different Worlds
08. Until You're Gone
09. Mighty World
10. Master Of Puppets (bonus track)
Marek Majewski - vocals
Bartek Bereska - guitars
Rafal Paluszek - keyboards
Lukasz Lisiak - bass
Adam Podzimski - drums
Sivy - guest vocals & guitar
BUY IT !
Saturday, April 20, 2013
"Frequency Unknown", the new album from the Geoff Tate-fronted version of QUEENSRŸCHE, will be released next April 23.
Tate was booted from Queensryche last summer after an aggressive fallout, but went on to form his own version of the band with the same name.
"Frequency Unknown" cover art features a (not so) subtle message to his former bandmates; a fist (presumably Geoff's) wearing gold rings and the title, for short, resumes "F.U.". We'll leave the letters open to your interpretation...
The disc contains 10 new tracks and four newly recorded Queensryche classics: "I Don’t Believe in Love", "Empire", "Jet City Woman" and "Silent Lucidity".
Tate's studio lineup for "Frequency Unknown" included ex- Whitesnake & Quiet Riot bassist Rudy Sarzo, guitarists Robert Sarzo and Kelly Gray, drummer Simon Wright (ex- AC/DC) and keyboardist Randy Gane, joined by bassist/producer Jason Slater and an array of guests that included former Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland, Y&T’s Dave Meniketti, Brad Gillis of Night Ranger, Ty Tabor from King’s X, ex- Judas Priest K.K. Downing, Lita Ford and Craig Locicero of Forbidden.
If you've followed along with the whole Queensryche saga over the last few months and you are a fan, you are almost ashamed to claim that fandom in public at this point.
For an act that was once so proud of the fact that they were above the fray of their contemporaries, it's just flat out embarrassing to see the sad division of a band that was once so creatively excellent.
Now, we have two Queensryches out there. The first one, made up of the 'rest of the guys' and new vocalist Todd LaTorre, have proclaimed a return to the classic sound of the first five releases. They have been somewhat classier than Geoff Tate during the whole split, but at the same time haven't been shy to point fingers and make their private legal battle with Tate immensely public.
As for Geoff... well, he's kind of gone insane the last few months publicly. Over the last few months, we've heard everything from why it was alright to spit in the face of his former drummer, rants from the stage where he told fans of the band that they suck, and yes, even stereotyping talk about the man's dick size. Certainly, the legacy has taken a lot of tarnish during this time.
However, none of that really matters in the biggest picture for fans. As a Queensryche fan, all they care about are the tunes.
To date, the release of "Frequency Unknown" has been a total trainwreck. The fan backlash to the samples was so bad that they planned an immediate remix by Billy Sherwood, but after few days announced, he declined...
The lineup of this Tate's Queensryche has changed several times already, so any thoughts of cohesiveness are hard to imagine for this recording.
But after listening the entire disc, I think "Frequency Unknown" is not that bad. Indeed, it's a good, quite average hard rock album, with some flaws, some fillers, but also some good songs and musicianship.
I'm not sure if Tate is trying to prove some kind of point that he can still record heavy material, but there are some hard hitting moments on this record. Tracks like "Slave" or the stomping "Running Backwards" are heavier than anything he's done in his recorded past.
As for Tate, he's not sounding very strong vocally these days. I get it that you can't keep up being a high ranging member of metal's elite forever, but in parts he comes off strained to the point where it's noticeable.
Talking about the production, it's better than expected. There's moments where the wall of sound fits really well the harder tracks, and overall is quite solid.
Though, some mixing and mastering presents few flaws. The transition from "Cold" to "Dare" almost sounds like you are changing between two separate CDs recorded at different points.
In short, "Frequency Unknown" is not a disaster as many expected. It's a good hard rock album, average at moments, but not bad at all.
The big problem is the moniker under this disc is released: there's very few places where "Frequency Unknown" really sounds like 'classic' Queensryche. As example, hardcore fans are going to hate the re-recording of "Empire", completely hollow on guitar and with Tate on obvious auto-tuning. These new versions were not necessary...
If you take "Frequency Unknown" with your mind out of the Queensryche brand, you will be able to enjoy several songs on this album, just good and listenable Hard Rock tunes.
03. Give It To You
05. In The Hands Of God
06. Running Backwards
07. Life Without You
10. The Weight Of The World
11. I Don’t Believe In Love (2013 re-recorded)
12. Empire (2013 re-recorded)
13. Jet City Woman (2013 re-recorded)
14. Silent Lucidity (2013 re-recorded)
Geoff Tate - vocals
Rudy Sarzo - bass
Robert Sarzo, Kelly Gray - guitar
Simon Wright - drums
Randy Gane - keyboards
Chris Poland - guest guitar
Dave Meniketti - guest guitar
Brad Gillis - guest guitar
Ty Tabor - guest guitar
K.K. Downing - guest guitar
Craig Locicero - guest guitar
Lita Ford - guest guitar
Friday, April 19, 2013
Some days ago we have presented in 0dayrox the first international release by OUTSIDE EDGE, now it's time for the second; "More Edge", a truly AOR / Melodic Rock classic remastered by AOR Heaven and sounding in all its glory.
The previous album was not propely promoted in Europe by 10 Records (a Virgin subsidiary), so the band's next target was America and they flew over to the US to record "More Edge" there with famous Canadian producer Terry Brown behind the desk.
The result was this excellent, heavenly keyboard-driven AOR disc that if you wouldn't have known better, you would have thought Outside Edge was as a typical Canuck AOR band than from Great Britain.
"More Edge" is simply superb, all tracks are winners, from the melodic opening anthem "Shooting Straight From The Heart", through the incredible "Heaven Tonight", to the album's closing track "Never Too Late", a monster melodic rocker.
Sadly enough the album got shelved after the 10 Records operation was decamped to Los Angeles. Waiting for what was (not) to come, the band relocated to Europe again and eventually drifted apart.
It was only in 2000 that "More Edge" album came to the surface finally released by Virgin Scandinavia, though, with a direct rough transfer from the original master tapes.
Now AOR Heaven Classix is making true justice to this GEM, with a proper digital remastering which sounds million bucks.
A MUST HAVE CLASSIC.
01 - Shooting Straight From The Heart
02 - Not Made Of Glass
03 - Guilty
04 - Flesh And Blood
05 - Frozen Rain
06 - Heaven Tonight
07 - Fire And Ice
08 - Never Too Late
Tom Farmer - Vocals, Bass
Eddie Golga - Guitar, Backing Vocals
David Farmer - Drums, Backing Vocals
Pete Giles - Keyboards
BUY IT !
In the very early nineties New Jersey Hard Rockers CLEAVAGE were one of the most promising bands of the area, prepping to be the 'next big thing from the Garden State', but as many, arrived too late into the scene for national success.
Anyway, Cleavage managed to self-release in limited quantities their album 'The Demo', a highly sought after CD for years among fans and collectors of the genre.
Twenty-Two years after, Cleavage in association with FnA records is re-releasing officially on a label for the first time 'The Demo' (don't let the title fool you, it's a professional recording) re-entitled "15 Gets Ya 20" with eight additional bonus tracks.
The music in "15 Gets Ya 20" is pure American Hard / Hair Metal from the late '80s in the same game of Friction, Warrant, Ratt, Lancia or Rock Boulevard.
The musicians in Cleavage weren't newcomers at all; founder Larry Ganci used to play in Hollywood Tease (which released an indie record), brothers Mike and Ronnie Parkes played for Benny Mardones (Ronnie now handles bass in FarCry and Seven Witches) and drummer Scott Nazz worked as session-man on many recordings.
What you get here are catchy hard rockers with melodic rocking guitars ala Warrant, sticky choruses and a swaggering singer sounding a lot like Autograph's Steve Plunkett.
Sometimes laid back with acoustic tracks thrown in the best MTV style, the good thing in this recording is the attitude, the freshness of the Hair Metal in its pure essence.
Tonge-in-cheek rockers like "In Your Face" (title says all), the Ratt-like "In Your Face", "Shake It For The Boyz" and the Warrant-riff bounce of "Grease Monkey" are fun and contagious. The corky title track "15 Gets Ya 20" was some kind of a local hit in Jersey's radio station for several weeks in a row and it's another cool rocker.
The slower tunes are quite good and melodic as well, like midtempo "Blood And Wine" or the acoustically filled "Time May Rust" which reminds me Mariah or XYZ.
But the best is "It's Not Goodbye Forever", a wonderful power ballad akin Danger Danger best moments plenty of nice harmonies, a sustained melodic guitar solo and a lighters-in-the air feel.
"15 Gets Ya 20" is a great testament of the Hair Metal era, from a band with a superstar potential.
The songwriting quality is not subpar to anything released by Warrant, Ratt of Danger Danger in the late eighties, extremely catchy, really well composed and performed with the typical 'juice' of the genre. You can't hear that guitar sound anymore...
Production is very good for an early nineties indie (with slightly differences in the bonuses obviously from different sessions) professionally recorded and mixed, surely remastered for this reissue obtaining a quite crisp sound.
A cool, fun, magical trip back to the Hair Metal heyday, really, really enjoyable.
If you're fan of the genre, "15 Gets Ya 20" is a must have.
01 - Un Da Fi Uh
02 - In Your Face
03 - Blood And Wine
04 - I Got The Gun
05 - Shake It For The Boyz
06 - Hard To Get
07 - 15 Gets Ya 20
08 - It's Not Goodbye Forever
09 - Grease Monkey
10 - Little Girl
11 - I'm No Angel
12 - Time May Rust (Billboard Winner)
13 - Blood And Wine (Unedited)
14 - Take Me Back [Bonus Track]
15 - Getting Away With Murder [Bonus Track]
Larry Ganci - Vocals
Ronnie Parkes - Guitars
Mike Parkes - Bass
Scott Nazz - Drums
Joe Osso, Steve Ceragno - add. guitar
BUY IT !
Thursday, April 18, 2013
AEON ZEN was founded in 2008 in UK by multi-instrumentalist Rich Hinks (vocals/guitar/bass) who has brought on board newer recruits Matt Shepherd (guitar), Shaz (keyboards) and Steve Burton (drums) for their latest release "Enigma".
In addition, Hinks has enlisted the talents of vocalists Andi Kravljaca (Silent Call), Atle Pettersen (Above Symmetry), Jonny Tatum (Eumeria) and Nate Loosemore (Lost in Thought).
Aeon Zen specializes in upbeat, melodic progressive metal, long on soaring vocal harmonies, heavy riffs, symphonic keyboards and strong hooks. They can also dazzle you with instrumental virtuosity as well, but "Enigma" is not all about shredding or solos but songs, and the power, drama and emotion they carry.
The CD starts with a nuanced, eerie sound that creeps up on you in the form of the opening track "Enter The Enigma", an instrumental with a melee of strings, distorted guitars and thundering drums giving an almost sympho metal feel.
This rolls straight into one of the best tracks on the album: "Artificial Soul", with layered vocals accompanying a blistering riff after the opening build up. The song is a perfect example of all this band can deliver, which includes crisp, powerful instrumentation and some memorable melodies.
Next track "Divinity" musically at the beginning scared me a bit, as the opening vocals are growl in the death-metal style, not my cup of tea for sure. But immediately a soaring clean singer appears and the song turns into a great heavy prog metal as it should be. The riff is really heavy over double bass drumming, fat bass and dark keys.
"Warning" has a bit of a Dream Theater-meets-Vanden Plas feel to it (some great vocals and guitar riffs here), and the engaging "Turned to Ash" mixes lush progressive rock with modern metal riffs for a truly enjoyable listening experience.
In fact, this band does the straight Prog thing quite well, best heard on the excellent ballad "Seven Hills", and later in "Eternal Snow", a gorgeous number featuring majestic piano, and guest female and male vocals making for a really rich and full sound, that surprisingly turns into a crushing symphonic metal track at the very end for an intriguing turn of events.
Also, look for some wonderful jazzy saxophone on the otherwise bruising Dream Theater-styled epic progressive metal of superb closer "Downfall", which is chock full of sizzling guitar work and majestic keyboards.
This CD version features 2 exclusive bonus tracks: the superb uptempo "Survival" featuring monster breaks and a very accomplished vocal work, and the groovy, more classic "Time Divine 2.0", a really powerful number.
"Enigma" is pure Prog Metal in the absolute definition of the genre. Although Aeon Zen is truly controlled by Hinks, his bandmates' musicianship is out of this world.
The songs are tight, full of great riffs, giant rhythm section and stunning keyboard parts. Also the singers are terrific, clean but powerful, alternating high pitched moments with really melodic performances. Production & mix are perfect, and grand part of the success of this killer release.
Rock solid from top to bottom, "Enigma" shows a band truly on the rise creating some of the most intriguing and enjoyable pure Progressive Metal being released in recent years. Make sure you don't miss this one.
01. Enter The Enigma
02. Artificial Soul
04. Seven Hills
06. Turned To Ash
07. Still Human
08. Eternal Snow
CD Only Bonus Tracks ;
11. Time Divine 2.0
Rich Hinks - vocals, guitar, bass
Matt Shepherd - guitar
Shaz - keyboards
Steve Burton - drums
Andi Kravljaca (Silent Call) - vocals
Atle Pettersen (Above Symmetry) - vocals
Jonny Tatum (Eumeria) - vocals
Nate Loosemore (Lost in Thought) - vocals
BUY IT !
Just released in Europe, “Backstabber” is the third album by rockers MASQUERAGE but the first to be distributed outside their native Finland, as the group has signed a deal with new label Studio 57.
According to the press release, Masquerage's style is Melodic Metal and traditional Hard Rock with a touch of Power, and this is a befitting description but I think in their sound there's also even more beyond.
The music in “Backstabber” can be compared at some point with the melodic side of compatriots Sonata Artica, British rockers Balance Of Power and Thereshold in some of their progressive leanings, but at the same time with the hard rocking attack of Pretty Maids, TNT and Savatage.
Each song incorporates elements of both styles, from powerful double bass drumming and killer twin-guitar riffs to stimulating soloing, anthemic choruses and profuse keys injections. The keyboards play an important role in the band's delivery, as Mika Maunus cleverly knows how to employ his fills in the right place without soften the sound, on the contrary, adding muscle to the melodies.
Every song infectious, unique and a truly 'traditional melodic metal / hard' sonic celebration. You will feel quite empowered as you sing along to these well-written canticles, as you begin to feel better about living your life because you find uplifting, thought-provoking lyrics as well.
But basically, the charm in “Backstabber” is the music (and musicianship) cropping out from these melodic songs.
Opener "Remission" blends the musicality of Balance Of Power with some TEN epicness, title track "Backstabber" is heavier in the old fashioned way, and the ultra-catchy "When The World Comes Closer" is really melodic over its sharp riff and keyboard line akin Norwegians TNT first albums.
That first triad of tracks adequately paint the picture of Masquerage's style, and a damn fine one I assure you.
All are interesting, as the groovy "Another Sleepless Night", the rush of "Rubber Band Accelerators", the eighties Queensryche-influenced "The Beach Lion" or the impassioned romantic reflection of "Dance With Me", a moonlight timed masquerade ballad.
Masquerage and their international debut “Backstabber” are a pleasantly surprise from the cold Southern Bothnia of Finland.
Effective songs, great playing, solid singer (a bit accented) and excellent production where everything sounds earthly clean, not plastic and tired as many recent releases of the genre.
Talking about genres, Masquerage efficiently mixes traditional Melodic Metal and Hard Rock with ease, never sounding forced but natural and distinctive.
01 - Remission
02 - Backstabber
03 - When The World Comes Closer
04 - Another Sleepless Night
05 - Rubber Band Accelerators
06 - The Roles We Play
07 - The Beach Lion
08 - Going Home
09 - Dance With Me
10 - Talking To Me
11 - All The Heroes
12 - When The Angels Left
Kimmo Perämäki – Vocals, Guitars
Kari Lavila – Guitars
Mika Maunus – Keyboards
Mikael Kontolampi – Bass
Marko Ylä-Häkkinen – Drums
BUY IT !
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Undoubtedly one the the most iconic Hard Rock bands from the '80s, SKID ROW returns with their first new, original material in seven years with "United World Rebellion", the first of three plus three EPs that will be made available over the next 12-18 months.
After Sebastian Bach left, it was as though the band's sound went with him. Skid Row went on to create two more records with replacement Johnny Solinger, however they both lacked that powerful sound and vibe that was proudly showcased on the band's earlier recordings, and instead showed the band taking on a more significant punkish metal musical style.
Fans had already had major doubts about how well Skid Row would continue without their original vocalist, but combine a new singer who just doesn't have as broad a range and a new musical style, and most people boycotted the new lineup of the once highly hailed group.
Well, crack a smile; songwriters Dave "Snake" Sabo and Rachel Bolan understood what fans wanted.
Prepare to crank it up, because "United World Rebellion: Chapter One" is almost just as good as their older material. All these five tracks shows Skid Row returning to their classic style of sound with good results.
The album is kicked off with the instant rocker "Kings Of Demolition" which is filled with crunching guitar licks and a solid, passionate vocal performance.
It seems that all those nights of performing the classic Bach-era material has strengthened lead vocalist Johnny Solinger's singing, as he is now easily able to maintain his upper register and help provide an unmistakable classic Skid Row vibe.
This helps drive this new EP well above the band's previous two albums, and lead to an enjoyable listening experience with very few weak points.
The rapid "Let's Go" has a strong eighties smell, followed by the dynamic acoustic ballad "This Is Killing Me", much in the vein of the band's debut. The tune has the potential for big things on rock radio, and could become a fan favorite easily.
"Get Up" starts as a semi-midtempo with a dark approach, but then the gang-like vocals in the chorus takes you back to Slave to the Grind era.
Final song "Stitches" is a kicking rocker driven by a monster bass line, marching beats and a razor riff. No chorus, just wasted vocals over the syncopated rhythm.
Overall, "United World Rebellion : Chapter One" is a fine return-to-form that shows Skid Row finally moving back in the right musical direction.
The songs and production are crafted like what you would expect from a Skid Row album: melodic hard rock with a splash of aggression.
I would preferred a full length album, but "Chapter One" is a powerful comeback for Skid Row, embracing their roots and delivering five strong new songs.
1. Kings Of Demolition
2. Let's Go
3. This Is Killing Me
4. Get Up
Johnny Solinger - vocals
Dave "Snake" Sabo - guitar
Scotti Hill - guitar
Rachel Bolan - bass
Rob Hammersmith - drums
BUY IT !
As addict to classic rock oriented music, sometimes I need a healthy dose of different sounds to de-intoxicate myself a bit from the melodious waves of our loved musical genres. It's not an easy task, as modern music in general is a huge pile of garbage, but from time to time some intriguing proposals arise.
Well, it happened to me with Germans A LIFE DIVIDED new album "The Great Escape", a Bavarian combo making music with a style quite far from our musical tastes, but not less interesting for sure.
I heard the band's previous album from 2011, and was really suprised when read on many reviews A Life [Divided] tagged as a gothic rock band. Nothing more wrong than this.
These krauts sure know how to bring varying styles together to good effect. A Life Divided do this with great aplomb throughout "The Great Escape".
It's a retro-fitted piece of new romantic / synth electro rock driven by sharp staccato guitar riffs, compressed drums, gangland backing vocals and pitched shifted melodic counterpoint choruses, all with a commercial feel.
Often named by some press as a more elaborated version of Linkin Park, if I were a member in A Life Divided I would consider this as an insult.
A Life Divided's music is absolutely more interesting, solid, well constructed, catchy, even melodic, and if you dig a bit into their essence, you will discover in their musical delivery a band with an arena / stadium style.
Just take as example "Clouds Of Glass"; if you clean a little that synthesized sound masque you obtain a modern melodic rock song. But don't clean anything, precisely in this 'electro-rock' style is where A Life Divided sounds different to the rest, and that's the point of why I like this band.
On some tracks they remind me the very first NIN when attitude was above of anything, yet their delivery is much more commercial even at parts with a node to Hardcore Superstar's last album (which I consider truly refreshing in the melodic hard rock field).
A Life Divided attack your ears with harsh tracks like "Game Over", and then immediately takes you back to '80s synth pop-rock with "Feel". You can't deny the melody and the affected vocal performance here are great.
The band are not a afraid to add some acoustic guitars - although heavily processed - on the dark sounding "Foreign Rain" or shameless (kudos to them) eighties new wave / synthpop dramatic melodic lines in the vein of Australians Real Life in "Wait for Me", of course with an updated sound.
This iTunes edition includes the exclusive track "Perpetual", and it's one of the best, a keyboard-DX-7 driven electro rocker with cool tempo breaks and a retro refrain.
I liked "The Great Escape", and I liked a lot.
It's quite different from the classic stuff usually presented here on this blog, truly refreshing, at least for this humble reviewer.
It's synthetic but at the same time aggressive, melodic but robotic, cheesy but sharp... just different.
And really good.
01 - The Lost
02 - It Ain't Good
03 - Clouds of Glass
04 - The Last Dance
05 - Game Over
06 - Feel
07 - Perfect Day (feat. Chris Harms)
08 - Foreign Rain
09 - Wait for Me
10 - Goodbye
11 - On the Edge
12 - Space
13 - If You Want To
14 - Perpetual [exclusive iTunes bonus]
Jurgen Plangger – Vocals
Mike Hofstatter – Guitar
Tony Berger – Guitar
Korl Fuhrmann – Drums
Tobi Egger – Bass
Erik Damkohler – Keyboards, Programming, Guitar
BUY IT !
Monday, April 15, 2013
Long time Melodic Hard Rock AOR fans should remember JOSHUA, the American combo led by guitarist Joshua Perahia and their excellent '80s albums 'Surrender' and 'Intense Defence', or the more Hard Rock oriented debut 'Hand is Quicker Than The Eye'.
Since the golden decade Perahia has released only two albums, one solo and other under the M Pire moniker.
But after 24 years he is returning with the first love; a new Joshua album properly named "Resurrection".
In a lot of ways, "Resurrection" sounds like it could have been the logical follow-up to the great 'Intense Defence' (1988), as many of the same styles and tones are incorporated in this new CD.
Accompanied by the incredible and unmistakeable voice of Mark Boals and seasoned instrumentalists, this new version of Joshua has delivered a quality rockin' album for all tastes.
Opener "Divine Intervention" is catchy, muscular AOR track and a great way to start this new Joshua offering.
After the short, polite instrumental "Where Eagles Fly", we have another rocking AOR track in "The Voice Of Reason", adorned with stabbing keyboards and some acoustic guitars in the middle, and then the melody turns more intense at the end.
Things get harder in the Sabbath / Tony Martin hard rocker "Blood on the Nile" where Joshua’s guitar playing is jaw dropping throughout supported by dark keys creating a mysterious atmosphere. Great song.
"World At War" is epic and even more heavy akin the band's first album, while the midtempo "The Darkside of Man" delivers thick riffs and monster melodic grooves.
The inclusion of Boals on vocals gives Joshua the opportunity to explore some more blues-based material on this album. Nowhere is this more apparent or effective than on the gritty, heavy blues of "Behind The Walls" and "Miracles", both of which are among the very best songs on an album full of excellent and varied material.
This 'Collectors Edition' (limited to 888 hand-numbered copies) includes - apart from an edited version of "Blood On The Nile" - two real gems.
The first, the catchy hard rocker "Dirty Games" recorded in 1991 featuring that incarnation of the band with Robyn Kyle Basuri of Red Sea fame on vocals.
"Secrets" is the other, a killer tune that I have to wonder why this is only seeing the light of the day now as it is a fantastic commercial AOR song that zips along nicely and really would have made a good single all those years ago. Both are excellent songs of suprisingly good quality, especially considering they are reharsal recordings with no overdubs or edits at all. Pure '80s magic.
"Resurrection" is a great return for Joshua (the band), commanded by Joshua Perahia's classic songwriting and his excellent playing.
In Mark Boals he has found the perfect foil for his melodic rocking music and there are only good songs on this album. The most incredible thing about this new outfit though, is that it manages to take elements of all Joshua's previous works and blend them into a varied, very enjoyable listen.
For the moment, "Resurrection" is on sale since last year only at Perahia's website in its regular version, and now this 'Collector's Edition' hand-signed / numbered by Joshua (with different artwork as well).
The CD will be released soon on a label... I am not much into politics, but if you want to know why Perahia has delayed the massive release, read the official press sheet:
"We thank our friends and fans who have been so loving and kind while asking why have we not released our new album "RESURRECTION" in the usual ways of distribution. We are working with a great label in 2013, and decided to "WAIT" till this American Presidential administration will be REMOVED... In this TERRIBLE American Economy, we felt waiting would have the optimal effect for releasing "RESURRECTION".
Anyway... this is a very good rocking disc, very melodic and punchy. Let's hope that Joshua and Company return to the studio much sooner than this last time and don't make us wait so long before unleashing an album of this quality.
01 - Divine Intervention
02 - Where Eagles Fly
03 - The Voice of Reason
04 - Blood on the Nile [long version]
05 - World at War
06 - The Darkside of Man
07 - Behind the Walls
08 - Live Out a Lie
09 - Miracles
10 - Promises
11 - Blood on the Nile [single] Collectors Ed. bonus)
12 - Sing Hallelujah
13 - Dirty Games (Collectors Ed. bonus)
14 - Secrets (Collectors Ed. bonus)
Joshua Perahia - Guitars
Mark Boals - Vocals
Scott Warren - Keyboards
Bryan Fleming - Bass
Dino Maddalone - Drums
Rob Rock - Vocals on "Secrets"
BUY IT !
Polish band MILLENIUM has been on the progressive rock scene for several years, but this, their 9th studio album to date called "Ego" is the first I've heard, and what a refreshing outing it is.
Led by keyboardist Ryszard Kramarski they started out in 2000 (hence the reason they call themselves Millenium) and since then seems the group has been elaborating an interesting blend of Neo Prog with some British Art Rock influenced by Camel, Marillion, Pendragon, IQ, Arena and Pink Floyd.
These lads are creative players, exploring this well-travelled genre with some original and enjoyable twists, ranging from lavish and languid tempos to dynamic melodic parts plenty of sweeping synths, sublime guitar and excellent accentless vocals courtesy of Lukasz Gall.
The rhythm section has some Warr guitar (the two-hand tapping instrument) which certainly denotes some adventurous connotations or desires.
Neo Prog trends usually go for the 'song format' privileging melody, and when I saw "Ego" only includes six compositions and three of them were over the 10 minutes in length, I distrusted a bit.
That's because Neo Prog is basically a genre based on a single melody developed in a progressive manner, and if you extend this too much you can lose the focus and become boring.
But Millenium pulls it off admirably by arranging songs around fundamental melodic lines and branching out around them, such that the tracks, while not quite suites, provide both continuity and security to the listener.
All 6 opuses are strong, melodic, impeccably performed with elastic musicianship including long Strat solos, electric pianos, Moog (you can't listen this too often nowadays), sax, and the rare Warr guitar.
Lukasz Gall's expressive voice is in the league of Robert Amirian (Satellite), Rob Sowden (ex- Arena) and some Dave Gilmour on the calmer passages, as much in style as substance. There's also nice female vocal interventions on a couple of tracks which adds color and texture.
The storied reputation of Polish Neo Prog rock is being earned day in and day out, and Millenium is another welcome discovery.
Proponents from this country adapt the sweeping epics of their British antecedents with the simple sense of melody of their local compatriots, and "Ego" is a clear example of this musicality and imaginative ideas.
Original and pushing Neo Prog.
01 - Ego
02 - Born In 67
03 - Dark Secrets
04 - When I Fall
05 - Lonely Man
06 - Goodbye My Earth
Lukasz Gall - vocals
Piotr Plonka - guitars
Krzysztof Wyrwa - 6-string bass, warr guitar
Tomasz Pasko - drums
Ryszard Kramarski - keyboards
Dariusz Rybka - sax
Karolina Leszko - backing vocals
BUY IT !
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Yeah. Finally someone has taken care to rescue one of the most obscure albums from the '80s (at least outside France): PINK ROSE's "Just What You Needed", for the first time released digitally.
PINK ROSE born from the ashes of Parisian band Attentat Rock (who released three albums since the beginning of the eighties) when composer and guitarist Hervé Raynal left the group in 1985.
Remaining members singer Marc Quee (from Sweden), bassist Pierre Brémond, drummer Thierry Gaulme and guitarist Fabrice Fourgeaud decided to carry on with the addition of ex-Satan Jokers Stephane Bonneau occupying the guitar slot, and the band played some shows including a few dates opening for Mama's Boys.
But the group and management decided to change the classic hard rock style of the previous discs in favor of the Pop-Metal / Hard Rock FM ruling the radio in America.
So not only re-named the group as PINK ROSE, they also started writing songs with a more commercial approach, instant choruses and including a lot AOR-synth arrangements to the music.
The result was "Just What You Needed", a disc plenty of American sounding catchy songs, rocking guitars and radio-friendly melodies.
In fact, the title track is a pop-metal arranged cover of The Cars song, really infectious and foot-tapping. Other numbers as "Longing for Fove" or "Cheating Lady" are pure US Melodic Rockers with the typical sound of the era recalling King Kobra or Icon, same with the intense semi-ballad "Lonely in the Street".
There's some tracks retaining a more Euro Hard Rock of the band's origins, like the Pretty Maids influenced "Rocking Child" or "Across the Seven Seas", and to a lesser degree, the melodic hard of "Rocker" in the vein of British wonders Shogun.
"Just What You Needed" is a lovely, catchy rocking album from a band that never got the right push although they had the potential for big things.
The songs are contagious - full of clichés, yes - but the ones you love in this genre. Good vocals, sharp guitars, a lot of synths and solid rhythm section, correctly recorded & mixed.
Originally only available on vinyl (and impossible to find), now Mauley Music has rescued from oblivion this truly fun disc releasing "Just What You Needed" first time digital. And as usual, at 0dayrox we are aware of these silent releases presenting them here for you to collect.
01 - Sunrise
02 - Lady from Germany
03 - Just What I Needed
04 - Longing for Love
05 - Lonely in the Street
06 - Cheating Lady
07 - Our Love
08 - Rocker
09 - Across the Seven Seas
10 - Rocking Child
Marc Quee - Lead Vocals
Fabrice Fourgeaud - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Pierre Bremond - Bass, Backing Vocals
Thierry Gaulme - Drums, Backing Vocals
Thierry Fervant - Keyboards
Elle Benali - Backing Vocals, producer
Allien - Guitar solo on 2, 3, 9, 10
Stephane Bonneau - Acoustic Guitar on 7
BUY IT !
Saturday, April 13, 2013
American multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and composer PHIL VINCENT is a workaholic. Where recent years has seen him joining several bands (Tragik, Circular Logik, D'Ercole and Legion) and singing on other people projects, somehow he still got some time left to continue with his solo career, started in the mid-nineties.
"Face It" is Phil's new recording and 'solo' is the key word here, although his Legion buddy Vince O'Regan (Bob Catley band) shreds out a solo or two. The rest is all Mr. Vincent himself.
Primarily, Vincent is a prolific songwriter, and this was his sole intention when released his first album almost twenty years ago: work as 'song writer artist', but circumstances changed when received such a positive response from his own performance.
Phil Vincent does it all. He writes the songs, he sings the songs, he plays all of the instruments and produce on his CD's, with a little help from his friends.
This dangerously could become 'more of the same' in all his projects, but Vincent is a skilled (and clever) composer managing to craft impactful rockers and good, varied melodies.
Of course much of the material present in "Face It" recalls his recent bands, plenty of Dokken-influenced hard rock songs with good dynamics and choruses, but also we find some of his own melodic side structurally inspired by Winger.
"Long Hard Road", the layered "Sooner Or Later" and the solid keyboard-filled "Burning Bridges" are clear examples of his penchant to write infectious tunes, while "End Of The Line" or "Make Up Your Mind" are crunchier balancing the whole thing.
Phil explores new sonic fields for him on some tracks as on the modern oriented "Can't Go Back" and the poppy / classic rock title track "Full Circle" with good results, especially in the slightly psych progressive melody of the latter.
"Face It" is well performed, arranged and recorded by Vincent, which keeps improving his craft as 'one man band'.
Phil is singing better and better everyday building really good multi-layered harmony vocals which adds nice nuances on all songs, and the guitar work is intense, varied, delivering meaty solos as well.
Perhaps on some tracks - particularly the heavier - the rhythm section sounds too much 'like a wall', but that's a minor criticism because the important thing is always a good song, and here's a lot of them.
01 - The Lost Self
02 - Long Hard Road
03 - Make Up Your Mind
04 - Sooner Or Later
05 - We All Die Young
06 - Is This All There Is
07 - Can't Go Back
08 - Burning Bridges
09 - Changes
10 - Divided
11 - End Of The Line
12 - Nothing But Time
13 - Full Circle
Phil Vincent: Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Drums
Vince O'Regan - Lead Guitar
BUY IT !