Saturday, August 31, 2013

MITCH MALLOY - Ceilings & Walls [remastered + bonus] (2013)

MITCH MALLOY - Ceilings & Walls [remastered + bonus] (2013) mp3, download


MITCH MALLOY is remastering and releasing by himself all his catalog, some of them already presented on this blog. "Ceilings & Walls" was his second album following the Melodic Rock bliss of the self-titled debut.
Although the first CD sold well and managed to generate a couple of mid-chart hits, his label sought to take him in a more adult contemporary direction, so for "Ceilings & Walls" Malloy was paired with producer Christopher Neil (Mike + The Mechanics, Marillion) to obtain a more mainstream sound.

At the time of release, "Ceilings & Walls" was strongly criticized by specialized media and MR fans for being too much 'light', mellower than debut and profusely balladry oriented.
Now, listening to it in perspective, this is one of the best Mitch Malloy albums ever, highlighting like no other his magnificent vocal dexterity and awesome songwriting abilities.
Despite its laid down and organic feel, this is definitely a Melodic Rock album with smooth sound provided by Neil who has wrapped these songs with a stylized aura sometimes recalling Mike + The Mechanics, so it's not strange he brought Mike Rutherford and Paul Carrack to colaborate on a couple of tracks.
There's beautiful, touching songs in "Over My Shoulder", "How Fast Forever Goes" and "Time Stands Still", while more uptempo numbers such as "Say Whatever's On Your Heart" (a winner), "This Time" or "Where Love Is No Stranger" recalls the debut.
Production is excellent, even more crisp with the remastering treatment by Malloy itself.

We have as bonuses all the brand new songs recorded and released by Mitch Malloy this year: the melodic rockers "Dakota Kid" and "What A Day", the midtempo "Breathless" and the edgy, melodic hard "It's Your Love" very much in the Mr. Big style (check the video below).
The physical copies of "Ceilings & Walls" have been delayed, there will be an official announcement when available at Malloy's website, meanwhile you can get it digital at all major retailers.
Another very good effort by this criminally underrated singer / songwriter, one of the best in the Melodic Rock scene if you ask me.

01 - This Time
02 - Ready To Go Home (feat. Paul Carrack)
03 - Tumbling Down
04 - Over My Shoulder
05 - How 'Bout Us
06 - Jessica
07 - Where Love Is No Stranger (feat. Mike Rutherford)
08 - How Fast Forever Goes
09 - Say Whatever's On Your Heart
10 - Time Stands Still
11 - Ceilings And Walls (feat. Bernie Leadon)
12 - What A Day [New Track 2013]
13 - It's Your Love [New Track 2013]
14 - Dakota Kid [New Track 2013]
15 - Breathless [New Track 2013]

Mitch Malloy - Vocals, Guitar
Steve Pigott - Drums, Bass, Keyboards
Tim Renwick - Guitar
Mike Rutherford - Guitar
Bob Halligan Jr - Guitar
Josh Leo - Guitar
Bernie Leadon (Eagles) - Guitar
Warren Hill - Sax
Mike Reid - Piano
Luis Jardim - Percussion
Paul Carrack (Mike + The Mechanics) - Vocals



Friday, August 30, 2013

FOX - Lucifer (2013)

FOX - Lucifer (2013) mp3 download


We have already presented here last year ex- Shakra's singer Mark Fox own band FOX and their debut '2012', now the Swiss vocalist returns with the sophomore effort "Lucifer" released today in Europe.
For this new CD Mark Fox enlisted a completely fresh studio line-up including Voodoo Circle's drummer Markus Kullmann, ex- Primal Fear Tom Naumann on guitars and the highly requested Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69, Unisonic) not only handling bass, but also producing the whole thing.

You can hear the progress on all departments on this new recording, particularly the tight musicianship, not strange at all considering the talents involved.
Musically "Lucifer" is even more melodic than its predecessor fluctuating between European Melodic Hard Rock and bluesy-Hard stylings. Ironically, Mark's voice now sounds more powerful, deeper, showcasing upfront his distinctive tone. Obviously Dennis Ward's expert hands behind the desk has brought out the best Mark has to offer.
There's no surprises here through these 11, well crafted songs: except the annoying opener / intro track "The Answer" with some Indian-sounding melody which seems to go nowhere, the rest of the material is easily enjoyable.

We have fast hard rockers in "Hang On Ruby" and last track "Right To The End" pumped by strong riffs and solid rhythm section, groovy bluesy rockers on the title track and "Gimme Your Love", while interspersed in between the ballads "Back For More" (very nice in the Tesla way) and the piano filled "Too Young To Die" are quite compelling.
Fox goes for an Aerosmith-like vibe on "Nothing To Lose Tonight", not bad at all, but the band is at their best on full Euro-type rock.
Also the more classic melodic rockers are really effective: the midtempo "I'll Do It All Right" (I like this one a lot) recalls nineties Bonfire, the extremely melodic "I Can't Sleep" bring to mind Fair Warning, while the highlight of the album "Wonderland" combines melody & power complete with monster bass lines, biting riffs and an explosive chorus.

"Lucifer" is a big step further for FOX.
Strong, unpretentious songs which rock solid and a much better production than the first album makes this CD a genuinely agreeable slice of European Melodic Hard Rock.

01 - The Answer
02 - Hang On Ruby
03 - Lucifer
04 - Back For More
05 - I'll Do It All Right
06 - Wonderland
07 - Nothing To Lose Tonight
08 - Gimme Your Love
09 - Too Young To Die
10 - I Can't Sleep
11 - Right To The End

Mark Fox (ex- Shakra) - vocals
Markus Kullmann (Voodoo Circle) - drums
Tom Naumann (ex- Primal Fear) - guitars
Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69, Unisonic) - bass & production

FOX - Lucifer (2013) back cover



SINNER - Touch Of Sin 2 (2013)

SINNER - Touch Of Sin 2 (2013) mp3, download

* real CD

Current Primal Fear bass player and leader of SINNER - one of the essential '80s metal German acts, wanted to reissue the band's earlier albums but he doesn't own the master tapes. Then Mat decided to re-record eleven of these songs from the period '84-'97 and also include a new trio of tracks into the CD entitled "Touch Of Sin 2" which hits the streets today.

Apart from Mat Sinner handling bass and lead vocals, the present incarnation of Sinner includes Voodoo Circle / Primal Fear great axe slinger Alex Beyrodt, and the recording also features guest appearances by vocalist David Readman (Pink Cream 69, Voodoo Circle), Erik Martensson (W.E.T.), former PF guitarist Tom Naumann (who was in Sinner throughout the nineties) among others.
Basically, the songs on "Touch Of Sin 2" work because are good songs, simple like that. Written 25 years ago when hard rock was no bullshit, just strong guitar work, easy & catchy choruses and feel-good vibe.
Take "Bad Girl" as one infectious example. After one play, you can sing along the tune to repeated plays. Straight and to the point hard 'n heavy in the old fashioned way with an updated production.

SINNER - Touch Of Sin 2 (2013) back cover

The easy, repetitive and foot-tapping "Shout" is about as close as they get to full blown metal, with the vocals adopting a more aggressive, slightly gruff approach. "Danger Zone" makes you want to open a beer, sing, headbang to a band locked into that Teutonic groove.
There's anthemic numbers like "Germany Rocks" (…stamp your feet / bang your head…), or the rapid "Lost in a Minute", while classic hard -songwriting wise- cuts like "Born to Rock", "Comin' Out Fighting" and "Concrete Jungle" get new life from Mat and the current Sinner crew, with a modernized sound, yes, but typically eighties in essence.
The three new songs include two originals, "Blood On The Sand" and the double bass driven "Heat Of The City", edgy and with a modern metal touch, while "Don’t Believe A Word" is a phenomenal cover of Thin Lizzy's classic, a tad faster, but still capturing the liveliness and groove of the original. Mat Sinner is a longtime Phil Lynott fan, and his influence is spread very much all over this album.

"Touch Of Sin 2" is a fine introduction to Sinner's early, almost impossible to find material, re-recorded with current tech but played with blood and an unmistakable '80s spirit. As bonus, we have three brand new songs.
Really well arranged and produced, this CD may be a vintage brew, yet tasty as hell.
Crank it to 10 and Rock On.

01 - Born To Rock
02 - Comin' Out Fighting
03 - Bad Girl
04 - Knife In My Heart
05 - Concrete Jungle
06 - Don't Believe A Word [new track - Thin Lizzy cover]
07 - Shout
08 - Germany Rocks
09 - Danger Zone
10 - Emerald
11 - Blood On The Sand [new track]
12 - Lost In A Minute
13 - Masquerade
14 - Heat Of The City [new track]

Mat Sinner - Bass, Vocals
Alex Beyrodt - Guitar
Christof Leim - Guitar
Alex Scholpp - Guitar
Andre Hilgers - Drums

David Readman (Pink Cream 69, Voodoo Circle) - Vocals
Erik Martensson (W.E.T.) - Vocals
Diego Valdez (Helker) - Vocals
Tom Naumann (ex- Primal Fear, Sinner) - Guitar
Henny Wolter (Primal Fear, Viva) - Guitars
Klaus Sperling (Primal Fear) - Drums

SINNER - Touch Of Sin 2 (2013) cd photo



WOLFPAKK - Cry Wolf (2013)

WOLFPAKK - Cry Wolf (2013) mp3, download


The allstar-project WOLFPAKK led by Mark Sweeney (ex- Crystal Ball) and Michael Voss (Mad Max, Casanova) was releasing two years ago its good debut simply titled 'Wolfpakk'. Today the duo unleash the successor "Cry Wolf", featuring many high-class guest musicians like Kee Marcello, Don Airey, Tony Carey, Göran Edman, Johnny Gioeli, Doogie White and more.

The hard 'n heavy style of its predecessor this time is additivated with a more polished sound still retaining some strong melodic metal overtones.
The 'Duet of Alpha Wolves' Sweeney / Voss not only share the lead vocals (Sweeney taken the most) but also penned all the songs - minus the good cover of Rainbow's "Run With The Wolf" with the participation of iconic keyboard player Tony Carey - and were at charge, once again, for production and mixing duty.
"Cry Wolf" features eleven tracks plenty of force and bite (from a wolf, of course) with a characteristical European / German sound, attack and precision.

WOLFPAKK - Cry Wolf (2013) band

Since the fast paced opener "Moonlight", a razor sharp monster rocker, Sweeney & Michael Voss states clear where they wish to drive you; frenzy '80s inspired hard 'n heavy with a modern approach. Featuring the guest screams of Ralf Scheepers, this is an effective 'big sounding' opener.
Turning more melodic in the vein of Germans Victory or perhaps the heaviest Bonfire, follower "A Matter of Time" keeps the motor runnin' with Sweeney showing his best vocal chops on pair with Johnny Gioeli, all supported by the solid drumming of guest Brian Tichy. A highlight.
The storm is tempered with the sweet ballad "Cold Winter" where the beautiful vocals Amanda Somerville offers a nice counterpart to Sweeney / Voss leads, creating a nice atmosphere, before the rhythm gets up again with the heavy and dark "Palace Of Gold", featuring Tony Mills and a massive multi-layer backing vocal section choir, like a symphonic version of DIO merged with a delicate and fragile Prog Rock melody.

WOLFPAKK - Cry Wolf (2013) back cover

We have a powerful delivey on "The Beast In Me" with the always classy singing of Goran Edman, recalling his old days with Yngwie's Rising Force. Goran was wisely chosen for this track as it has some kind of a neo-classical touch, adorned with a great solo by Roland Grapow.
Wolfpakk loves traditional hard rock too, and "Pressure Down" rocks a in groovy semi-midtempo pace where Doogie White feels like a fish in the water. There's a very good harmony arrangement during the three-part vocal chorus.
Title track "Cry Wolf" is an energetic ten-minute poignant epic composition with interesting breaks, sound effects, a surprisingly clean vocal interpretation by Blaze Bayley and a superb solo by Kee Marcello. A solid, elaborated number.

At this age of time, what Wolfpakk offers to you in "Cry Wolf" is considered classic hard rock; classic structures with an updated and polished production, sharp riffage, 'big' rhythm section, elaborated solos and truly good vocals. Solid songwriting in the traditional mould, yet effective and with an edgy, meaty delivery.
"Cry Wolf" roars (or better, howls), and in a very good form.

01 - Moonlight
02 - A Matter of Time
03 - Dark Revelation
04 - Cold Winter
05 - Palace of Gold
06 - The Beast in Me
07 - Wakken
08 - Pressure Down
09 - Run With the Wolf
10 - Cry Wolf
11 - Kid Raw [feat. Hermann Rarebell] (bonus track)

Mark Sweeney - Vocals
Michael Voss - Vocals, Bass, Guitar
Mike Winkler - Bass

Guest Vocals:
Amanda Somerville (KISKE / SOMERVILLE)
Ralf Scheepers (PRIMAL FEAR)
Tony Mills (SHY, TNT)
Blaze Bayley (ex-IRON MAIDEN)
Piet Sielck (IRON SAVIOR)
Jean-Marc Viller (CALLAWAY)

Guest Guitars:
Kee Marcello (ex-EUROPE)
Mandy Meyer (KROKUS, ex-GOTTHARD)
Roland Grapow (MASTERPLAN)
Martin Rauber (TOP4TEA)

Guest Keyboards:
Tony Carey (ex-Rainbow)

Guest Drums:
Gereon Homann (EAT THE GUN)
Hermann Rarebell (ex-SCORPIONS)
Roland Jahoda (ex-PARADOX, F.U.C.K.)

WOLFPAKK - Cry Wolf (2013) CD photo



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

STEVE AUGERI - For The Rest Of My Life (2013)

STEVE AUGERI - For The Rest Of My Life (2013) Behind The Sun , mp3 download


Tall Stories and former Journey singer STEVE AUGERI was tempted by well known Melodic Rock acts since he was fired by Neal Schon & Co., but the man decided to go solo with his Steve Augeri Band. Judging his tour schedule at his website with dozen shows-a-month all over Europe and North America, Steve was right, he writes and plays the music he wants without impositions.
You hear some people (Tommy Lee for instance) saying that they think the age of the 'album' is dead and gone and that releasing odd songs every so often is the way to go.
This is the route Steve Augeri has chosen, and has just released two brand new singles on iTunes; "For The Rest Of My Life" and "Behind The Sun" (featuring Message's guitarist Tom DeRossi).

Both songs complement the recently available "Rich Mans World" and "Hours In The Day", together with "Photograph" and "Riverside" already presented on this blog not so long ago.
All are featured here to taste them including the not for sale "Home This Christmas Time" recorded by Augeri Band but originally written for Glen Burtnick's X-Mas Extranvaganza, the 9-11 tribute song "Common Ground" and the demo "Home Again".

As said, Steve Augeri continues with his own penchant for elaborated Melodic Rock / AOR melodies (check the video-track below) and his band is sounding tight as ever.

An underrated, talented singer that deserves massive recognition worldwide.
Highly Recommended stuff.

01 - For The Rest Of My Life
02 - Rich Mans World
03 - Behind The Sun (feat. Tom DeRossi)
04 - Hours In The Day
05 - Photograph
06 - Riverside
07 - Common Ground (9-11 tribute)
08 - Home This Christmas Time
09 - Home Again (demo)



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

RECKLESS LOVE - Spirit (2013)

RECKLESS LOVE - Spirit (2013) mp3 download


Bombastic Finnish rockers RECKLESS LOVE who burst spectacularly onto the European scene in 2010, will have their third full-length studio album "Spirit" released on September 2nd.
"Spirit", much like the band's previous releases, has a strong influence from the 'big hair' hits of the '80s, and tries indeed, to capture the spirit of that golden era.

Anyone can get the eighties look down if they try hard enough, but not many can write and play fine songs in this hard rock, melodic style. Reckless Love have nailed it for the most part in "Spirit".
Opening with lead single "Night On Fire" is a statement of intent. Blending some hypnotic, voodoo drums and turning some almost tribal chants into archetypal eighties 'whoa, whoa' is just going to grab you. Sounding so catchy that this track should be heard on every radio in the world during the Summer.
"Bad Lovin´" follows with more of those hit making tricks from the time when rock ruled the airwaves ('na, na, na' this time) and, yep, you've guessed it, it's all about sex, in the Motley Crue circa '88 style.

RECKLESS LOVE - Spirit (2013) band

Track three sees Olli Herman make the claim "I Love Heavy Metal". Here Reckless Love turf out a Tuff sounding classic for an all new generation of Finnish Hairband fans while name checking some classic acts along the way. It's a cool melodic hard rocker recalling Warrant in its prime, with a very nice melody and one of my favorites on the disc.
"Favorite Flavor" follows the theme – upbeat, joyous and with a pop-metal chorus as signature. The midtempo "Edge Of Our Dreams" adds some modernity to the album, but I prefer when Reckless Love push the pedal with sharp riffs, and this is not the case here.
For example, next track "Sex, Drugs & Reckless Love" is a marching rocker driven by bouncy rhythms and harmonies, a simple song, but this is what you want to hear from this band, and they do it truly well.

"Dying To Live" is a clean (guitars and rhythm section) rock song, again a bit modern, yet really effective. On "Metal Ass" they go for a fast, anthemic metallic tune which I like a lot, then "Runaway Love" is a fine melodic rocker with a contagious chorus.
"So Happy I Could Die" is another fav of mine, one of these type of songs build for the arenas. Huge guitars, massive backing vocals and that 'spirit' which Reckless Love is searching for.
The album ends (the UK version will include an extra track) with the only proper ballad; "Hot Rain", a tale of heartbreak & loss well constructed, arranged and orchestrated faithful to the eighties power ballad mould.

As said, Reckless Love succeed for the most part to recapture the '80's "Spirit" here, with some really catchy tunes, the right attitude and excellent production for this genre.
I am not completely convinced when they go for modernity on a couple of tracks, but overall this is a solid, fun and enjoyable recording that finally should establish Reckless Love as a worldwide entertainment.
Very Recommended.

01. Night On Fire
02. Bad Lovin'
03. I Love Heavy Metal
04. Favorite Flavor
05. Edge Of Our Dreams
06. Sex, Drugs & Reckless Love
07. Dying To Live
08. Metal Ass
09. Runaway Love
10. So Happy I Could Die
11. Hot Rain

Olli Herman - Vocals
Pepe - Guitar
Jalle Verne - Bass
Hessu Maxx - Drums



LIBERTY N' JUSTICE - 4 All: The Best of LnJ Volume 2 (2013)

LIBERTY N' JUSTICE - 4 All: The Best of LnJ Volume 2 (2013) mp3 download


Justin Murr's project LIBERTY N' JUSTICE put out some truly good albums during the last 20 years featuring many of the best musicians and vocalists from the metal and hard rock scene, a 'who is who' in the music business. Liberty N' Justice now officially has turned into a full time band, with Murr joined by guitarist JK Northrup, vocalist David Cagle, keyboardist Eric Ragno and drummer Michael Feighan.
To bring a fitting closure to its 'all-star project' era, the group made the wise decision to release a compilation capturing many of the best songs from the time, "4-All: The Best Of LNJ Volume 2" (the first appeared in 2008), before unveiling there brand new band CD 'The Vanity Project' which will be released early next year.

"4-All: The Best Of LNJ Volume 2" features tracks from the las period including guests such as CJ Snare & Bill Leverty of Firehouse, Ted Poley of Danger Danger, Vic Rivera of Adriangale, Def Leppard's Phil Collen, Benny Mardones, Kip Winger and many more.
To make it more interesting, we have four brand new songs to taste how Liberty N' Justice sounds now as a band unit. These tracks highlight the trademark LNJ melodic hard rock sound driven by JK Northrup's edgy guitar style.
My favorite is gritty blues rocker "Grace And Gravity" as a result of its slide guitars, horn section and catchy chorus. "No Honor Among Thieves" comes across as crisp acoustic rock with keyboards infusions by Eric Ragno and fitting big backing vocals, while "Memphis" takes a classy hard rock approach via gutsy riffs.
"Lost And Found" is a commercial ballad with piano and some orchestration leading the way.

"4-All: The Best of LNJ Volume 2" adds up to a worthwhile compilation of the better material from the LNJ 'all-star project' period. You will encounter not just a fine roster of songs and guest appearances but corresponding styles as well (again, ranging from AOR to melodic rock to hard rock)
The four quality new cuts add to the appeal of Volume 2 and provide foreshadowing of some great things to come with Liberty N' Justice.

01. No Honor Among Thieves (new track 2013)
02. Grace And Gravity (new track 2013)
03. Memphis (new track 2013)
04. Lost And Found (new track 2013)

05. Show Me The Way
(Oni Logan of Lynch Mob)
06. Fade
(Jamie Rowe of Guardian / Adriangale)
07. Do What You Believe
(CJ Snare & Bill Leverty of Firehouse)
08. Man vs. Mother Nature
(Ted Poley of Danger Danger & Vic Rivera of Adriangale)
09. Wrestling With God
(Pete Loran & Steve Brown of Trixter, Bumblefoot of Guns N' Roses)
10. Best Time We Never Had
(Chris Jericho of Fozzy & Phil Collen of Def Leppard)
11. Throwing Stones
(Donnie Vie of Enuff Z'nuff & JK Northrup of XYZ / King Kobra)
12. Chasing A Cure
(Benny Mardones, John Pine, & Bill Leverty of Firehouse)
13. Stretch Armstrong
(Louis St. August of MASS, JK Northrup, Keri Kelli)
14. Stayin' Alive
(Kip Winger of Winger)
15. The Greatest
(David Cagle of LnJ, Mark Allen Lanoue of Chasing Karma, & Brad Stetler)
16. Cupid's Gonna Bleed
(Gunnar Nelson of Nelson & Steve Brown of Trixter)
17. Under Construction
(Eric Dover of Slash's Snakepit, Mark Kendall of Great White, Eric Ragno, Ian Keith Haffner of Jaguar Blaze)
18. Cut Me Mick
(Ron Keel of Keel & Michael Phillips of Delieverance / The Sacrificed)
19. Sin
(Jani Lane of Warrant, Bill Leverty of Firehouse & Keri Kelli)

Justin Murr: Bass, Keyboards
JK Northrup: Lead and Rhythm Guitars, Bass, Drums
David Cagle: Vocals
Eric Ragno: Keyboards
Michael Feighan: Drums



PATRICK HEMER - More Than Meets The Eye [re-release + bonus] (2013)

PATRICK HEMER - More Than Meets The Eye [re-release + bonus] (2013) mp3 download


"More Than Meets The Eye" is the perfect title for this album by PATRICK HEMER, who in Europe is a well acclaimed studio musician and guitar instructor. His recognition is paired with the early 2000’s while he was the frontman and worked the fretboards of the German hard rockers Horizon, with whom recorded two albums.
With some musical shades of his former band, "More Than Meets The Eye" certainly projects him in the light of an intensely talented musician and a brilliant guitar player.

Style wise Hemer veers from stylized prog metal, melodic hard rock in the vein of Dokken to a an European metallic thump that reminds of Primal Fear, while also nodding to some Dio. Despite of being a guitar wizzard, Hemer has worked this material with a 'song orientation' and called drummer extraordinaire Tom Wagner and keyboardist David Casanova to build a real band sound.
The man can certainly play and he doesn't care who knows it, with his fiery solos positively spitting out virtuosity and energy. However things never descend into the realms of technicality over substance, with the melodies behind the songs and Hemer's strong Don Dokken meets Michael Eden (ex-Eden's Curse) vocals adding another dimension to music that could, in the wrong hands, have turned into an exercise in 'look at me'.

That pitfall isn't only avoided, it is skilfully eradicated through tracks like "Edge Of Insanity" where double kick barrages bounce off squealing guitars and mighty riffs, or the slower approach of "Thorn In My Flesh", an unmistakable late '80s US heavy rock vibe delivered through classy harmony vocals and a keen guitar melody.
All the while Hemer adds splashes of colour through his six string abilities; fret flurries, arpeggios or hammer ons keeping things interesting. That said the funky metallic stomp of "Panem Et Circenses" where the chorus firmly sticks in the mind, or the brooding, gritty riff and layered keys that makes "Up From The Ashes" confidently straddle prog metal/ hard rock genres, don't exactly need a lot of window dressing to catch the eye.

Then factor in the heartfelt "For All Eternity" where Hemer proves he can sideline the more adventurous side of his playing for something more considered (the results landing in Eden's Curse territory), or the more rockin' fist to the face of "Legend In Your Own Mind" and you have an album that satisfies on a surprising amount of levels.
Hemer even gives an homage to one of his influences when he covers Queen's "Death On Two Legs", a risky selection arranged in a progressive metal way which works really well.
The album not only features Hemer’s lyrics and clean voice, but there are two well placed (and played) instrumental tracks in "Firelight" and "Terra Incognita", two rather tasty pure fret magic numbers.

"More Than Meets The Eye" was originally self-released by Patrick Hemer two years ago with poor distribution, and now is being re-launched featuring as bonus three tracks in alternate versions (quite different from the originals).
This album, like the style of Hemer, shows a lofty amount of promising notions. There are quick paced prog metal numbers, muscular hard rockers, a ballad and a couple a excellent instrumentals. All are solid, well-constructed, well-executed and not too over the top (in the guitar department) songs with great dynamics.
"More Than Meets The Eye" possesses a real sense of strength and rockin' spirit and will please a wide range of listeners, there's something for everybody here, from metal progsters to classic hard rock headbangers.

01 - Up From The Ashes
02 - Thorn In My Flesh
03 - Edge Of Insanity
04 - For All Eternity
05 - Firelight
06 - The Godfather
07 - Panem Et Circenses
08 - Legend In Your Own Mind
09 - Death On Two Legs
10 - Guilty
11 - Terra Incognita
12 - Thorn In My Flesh (alternate version) [bonus track]
13 - Panem Et Circenses (alternate version) [bonus track]
14 - For All Eternity (acoustic version) [bonus track]

Patrick Hemer – vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards
David Casanova – keyboards
Tom Wagner – drums, percussion
Eric Farkas, Chris Moreau – background vocals



Sunday, August 25, 2013

MICHAEL MONROE - Horns And Halos [Limited Deluxe] (2013)

MICHAEL MONROE - Horns And Halos [Limited Deluxe] (2013) mp3 download

* read comments

Founding member of Hanoi Rocks - the band that essentially started the Hollywood glam rock scene and inspired bands like Guns 'N Roses, Poison and Motley Crue - since many years ago MICHAEL MONROE embarked on an solid solo career, frequently guesting on now-classic albums and performing with many other legends in rock music.
"Horns And Halos" is Michael Monroe's band new release which takes life truly by the horns and delivers a piece of glammy hard rock music that is full on with intensity, charisma and drive.

"TNT Diet" is the first track from 'Horns And Halos', a fast-paced rockin' energetic tune, complete with signature horn honkin' fills and plenty of attitude. It's a good, solid start, showing a more polished approach in sound than on the previous album which I like a lot.
"Ballad Of The East Side" is another triumphant blast of glamorous rock and roll, and the undisputed kings of glunk are at their best singing about something they know first-hand and this happens to be about all things after midnight in the Big Apple as it was and not as it is now.
"Eighteen Angels" has sleaze written all over it: it's got groove, hard funk and sharp guitars, a lethal combination, followed by "Saturday Night Special", a more up-tempo rocker with a great breakdown beat towards the rip snorting guitar solo. A track wonderfully reminiscent of earlier Monroe works.

Next up we have the hard rocking title track "Horns And Halos" that's brooding on a jagged riff before breaking out with a huge chorus that jabs the listener in the throat and demands you to sing-along. This rough yet polished hard rock cut is one of my favorites.
"Child Of The Revolution" is pure rock 'n roll from the subtle hand claps to the big gang vocal chorus and the wicked melody, to my ears recalling some Hanoi Rocks, Clash and even Blondie.
For album number two this band has only gone and gotten better, trading off one and other more freely as a unit it would seem.
So with eleven songs on offer (or thirteen on this deluxe version) by the time you get to "Soul Surrender" you’re taken on another twist and turn as the band go from all out punk hard rock to a poppy groove driven by a fat bass and a catchy chorus.

MICHAEL MONROE - Horns And Halos [Limited Deluxe] (2013) band

"Half The Way" once again reinforces the fact that Monroe & the band have really put the hours in on the writing front by mixing up the instruments with the harmonica and guitars trading well on around, it’s a really strong melody complemented by some superb backing vocals that elevate this tune as it gets stuck in your head.
Easing things back a little, next up is "Ritual" with Michael using his lower range for the verses but the temperature soon rises for the guitar solo and a haunting guitar line cuts through the song as it comes to the boil nicely.

Something else about this line up of the Michael Monroe band is that on ‘Horns And Halos’ there’s no track like the previous track, illustrating there are many strings to their collective bow. And to close the album off we return for some low down and dirty rock in "Hands Are Tied" as the boys get their groove on and take this baby home in triumphant style.
The bonus tracks really worth this Limited Deluxe edition, as the traditional '80s L.A. hardrocker "Happy Neverafter" is one of the best cuts of the entire disc, and the melodic "Don't Block The Sun" also recalls the Sunset Strip days with its swagger and fun rhythm.

Michael Monroe's "Horns And Halos" is not just the product of a life that has been lived or the fevered imagination of someone with great lyrical writing skills, it is has the hallmarks of a place, the one special location in which as rock music lovers we all dwell and take refuge in, be it a city or a venue. The album draws on that and gives Michael Monroe’s fans a pretty rocking sanctuary in which to share his music again.
To my ears this CD is truly far superior than the already really good previous effort, and sits among Monroe's best.
"Horns And Halos" possesses a swagger and an air of confidence that's missing from many of today's releases and is the perfect soundtrack to a scorching hot summer's day. So when you get this album make sure you crank the volume up for maximum effect and let the songs flow over you.
Very Recommended.

01. TNT Diet
02. Ballad of the Lower East Side
03. Eighteen Angels
04. Saturday Night Special
05. Stained Glass Heart
06. Horns And Halos
07. Child of the Revolution
08. Soul Surrender
09. Half the Way
10. Ritual
11. Hands Are Tied
12. Happy Neverafter (bonus track)
13. Don't Block the Sun (bonus track)

Michael Monroe – lead vocals
Dregen – guitar, vocals
Steve Conte – guitar, vocals
Sami Yaffa – bass
Karl Rosqvist – drums, percussion



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

STARSHIP feat. Mickey Thomas - It's Not The Same As Love / Technicolor Black And White (2013)

STARSHIP feat. Mickey Thomas - It's Not The Same As Love / Technicolor Black And White (2013) mp3 download

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STARSHIP featuring legendary singer Mickey Thomas will release "Loveless Fascination" on September 17th, a new studio album produced by Jeff Pilson, longtime bassist of Foreigner and Dokken.
It's been a long time coming for this legendary band and singer, but seems well worth the wait judging the quality of the two advanced tracks from the album; "It's Not The Same As Love" and "Technicolor Black And White", presented for you exclusively at 0dayrox.

Both tracks bursts out with a lean, tough attitude - and Mickey Thomas rarely takes his foot off the gas. Forget MTV-era hits like 'We Built this City' and 'Sara'. Instead, this new material boasts a straight-forward classic Melodic Rock style.
Jeff Pilson's presence proved to be a catalyst for Starship's first album of new material since 1989's Love Among the Cannibals, and he has provided to the band a pumping, rocking, crisp sound with his modern production.
Can't wait for the full release.

It's Not The Same As Love (4:52)
Technicolor Black And White (5.08)

Mickey Thomas (vocals)
John Roth (guitar, background vocals)
Jeff Adams (bass, background vocals)
Darrell Verdusco (drums)
Stephanie Calvert (vocals)
Phil Bennett (keyboards, background vocals)

Not for sale
Pre-order here:


BILLY SQUIER - Icon [Greatest Hits Remastered] (2013)

BILLY SQUIER - Icon [Greatest Hits] (2013) mp3, download


As part of their 'Icon' series, Capitol / Universal is releasing a very nice BILLY SQUIER compilation / greatest hits, including all the songs you really want to hear - not unnecessary fillers, at a very cheap price (only 5.99) to treasure it on CD.
Taken from the original tapes remastered not so long ago the sound quality is very good, and while the packaging leaves a lot to be desired as it only consists of a fold-out paper insert with credits and the tracklisting, the important thing is that you can get a well pressed, original disc for a few bucks.

You really can't go wrong with this CD if you like the Capitol years of Billy Squier when he saw his biggest success.
In 1981, when MTV was mastering the business of putting a face on music fame, Billy Squier was just the image they had in mind. When the video for "The Stroke" went into heavy rotation, the party anthem rocketed to No. 3 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart, launching Squier's solo career.

All of Billy Squier's big hits including "The Stroke", "Lonely Is The Night", "My Kinda Lover", "Rock Me Tonite", "Don't Say You Love Me" and "Emotions In Motion" are featured here in a cool track sequencing.
This compilation takes you back to the '80s when solid rock was King and made you feel good.
Easily Recommended.

01 - Lonely Is The Night
02 - Emotions In Motion
03 - The Stroke
04 - Don't Say You Love Me
05 - Learn How To Live
06 - Rock Me Tonite
07 - Everybody Wants You
08 - My Kinda Lover
09 - She Goes Down
10 - In The Dark
11 - All Night Long

BILLY SQUIER - Icon [Greatest Hits] (2013) CD photo



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

LAVALLE - Dear Sanity (2013)

LAVALLE - Dear Sanity (2013) mp3, download


LaVALLE is a killer new combo assembled by guitarist Eddie LaValle and Edens Curse bassist Paul Logue, which debut "Dear Sanity" is being released today by Kivel Records.
And I said killer because everything you look for in an '80s / '90s arena guitar driven Melodic Hard Rock album is present on "Dear Sanity"; hot six-string work, punchy rhythm section, mountain-sized walls of huge choruses and a crisp, top-notch production.

Eddie LaValle and Paul Logue began writing songs together in 2011 and there was instant chemistry based upon their mutual love for Dokken, White Lion, Def Leppard, etc. Paul recommended his friend Carsten 'Lizard' Schulz (Evidence One) from Germany to be the vocalist, who at the same time brought experienced drummer Ramy Ali (ex- Frontline) to round out the roster.
As the recordings progressed, it was obvious that some songs were just begging for a dose of keyboards. Enter Italian keyboard wizard Alessandro DelVecchio who had been playing with Paul in Edens Curse, and he has added 'that' special touch to the band's sound.

Produced by the band and mixed & mastered by Ty Sims (Goodbye Thrill), "Dear Sanity" sounds terrific, polished and melodic yet extremely punchy.
“Fading Like The Sun” has that instant BIG guitar sound that doesn't leave you wondering if the record is going to be filled with just a few choice leads here and there. Nope. You get everything Eddie has to offer right in track one with plenty of finger tapping and shred but fitting the song to drive & rock. Super-reverb rhythm section, meaty lead vocals and layered backings on the chorus complete this monster opener (check video-track below).

“Scared To Love” slows down the pace just a bit into a dynamic melodic bouncing rock rich in harmonies and a truly memorable chorus, all adorned with lovable keys. Early Danger Danger comes to mind. “Don’t Cry” has maybe Carsten’s best vocal lines carrying the track with style. Another melodic beast featuring a superb six-string / keyboard interplay.
Then arrives another highlight, “One Day At A Time”, a midtempo rocker to die for, pumped by a fat bass and mixing clean & distorted guitars for good effect. Love the verses and then the exploding climax during the pre-chorus / main chorus. Awesome tune.
Next, “Cry Of The Wolf” returns to rock, in fact, it's one of the more hard rockin' songs on the disc spreading tons of melting riffs, loads of backing vocals and a great solo.
“Lucky Ones” brings more melodic rock bliss to the ears with a catchy chorus and sultry harmonies. I enjoyed how in the second verse the song builds and builds and leads right into the chorus again without a huge change in pace.
The other true hard rocker on the album follows with “Smoke In Mirrors”, but still remains very melodic in its approach. Carsten really digs in and hits some serious high notes not found on the rest of the recording.

“Break Your Heart” is the real ballad on Dear Sanity, and a powerful one flowing smoothly from beginning to end. Lights in the air for this melody which would have been a sure-fire hit on MTV twenty-five years ago.
“Rock Your World” picks the pace back up again with Eddie’s sick leads burning the house down. This track simply rocks your socks off, it's that good.
The album ends with another solid - this time bluesy - midtempo recalling Joe Lynn Turner's solo work, and not only musically, as Carsten's vocal inflections shows the guy has been trained listening the greats. It's a splendid tune with steady instrumentation and excellent atmosphere, perfect to close this very good CD.

Eddie LaValle may be a newcomer to the Melodic Hard Rock field (I never heard about him before) but Oh My, the man certainly knows how to write (and play) a good tune in this genre.
You can hear the experience and magical touch of DelVecchio and Paul Logue here, but what makes "Dear Sanity" stupendous is Eddie's terrific guitar work reminiscent of Vito Bratta & George Lynch.
Of course, the musicianship of all involved, Carsten's best performance ever, the soaring backing vocal / harmonies arrangements and the crisp production completes the entire package to round up, as said above, a killer rockin' melodic album.
Don't miss this corker. Super Recommended.

01. Fading Like The Sun
02. Scared To Love
03. Don't Cry
04. One Day At A Time
05. Cry Of The Wolf
06. The Lucky Ones
07. Smoke And Mirrors
08. Break Your Heart
09. Rock Your World
10. Wait To Long

Carsten 'The Lizard' Schulz: Lead Vocals
Eddie LaValle: Guitars
Paul Logue (Edens Curse): Bass
Ramy Ali (Freedom Call, ex- Frontline): Drums
Alessandro DelVecchio (Edens Curse): Keyboards



Monday, August 19, 2013

TESLA - Taste My Pain (2013)

TESLA - Taste My Pain (2013) itunes, mp3, download

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Sacramento hard rockers TESLA have just released a new single, entitled "Taste My Pain" and made it available digitally through Amazon and iTunes in USA exclusively.

Tesla first began work on the single in early June when guitarist Frank Hannon stated: "Jeff Keith and I made a demo in my studio, it's called "Taste My Pain" and it ROCKS HARD! This will be the first real original song recording session for the band since 'Forever More' or 'Twisted Wires'. We are pumped to put it out this summer!"

TESLA - Taste My Pain (2013) band

Recorded at bassist Brian Wheat's J Street Recorders studio, the band plans to include it on a forthcoming album, which they're aiming to release next year.
"Taste My Pain" is a kick ass rocker indeed, a great mix of old school (heaviness) and new school Tesla with sharp riffage and raspy vocals.

Taste My Pain (4:08)

Jeff Keith – lead vocals
Frank Hannon – guitars, keyboards and backing vocals
Brian Wheat – bass and backing vocals
Dave Rude – guitars and backing vocals
Troy Luccketta – drums and percussion




REUBEN ARCHER'S PERSONAL SIN (2013) mp3, download


Although REUBEN ARCHER has been around the hard rock scene for more than thirty years fronting Stampede, having stints with Lautrec, Wild Horses, Lionheart and now the Paul Raymond Project, the singer never considered a solo project. At least not until prompted by new Stampede guitarist Rob Wolverson.
Wolverson offered to produce Archer's new set of songs, and the result is Reuben's first solo CD properly entitled "Personal Sin", where he delivers a collection of 13 mighty fine classic (British) sounding melodic hard rock songs.

By his side we have some renowned rockers such as Dave Meniketti (Y&T), John ‘Rhino’ Edwards (Status Quo), Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Snakecharmer), Harry James (Magnum, Thunder), Luke Morley (Thunder, The Union), Paul Quinn (Saxon), Paul Raymond (UFO), Rocky Newton (Lionheart, MSG) and tons more.
Quite impressive guest appearances, can't you tell?
Mastered by Ade Emsley (Iron Maiden) and with Reuben himself helping Wolverson behind the production desk, "Personal Sin" sound is incredibly clear and rocking, with a contemporary touch.

The album opens in style with the polished "Bulletproof", a neat showcase for the whole collection: a classic rocker with a monster vocal hook, fat riff and cute melodies spliced with a mid-paced and perfectly delivered instrumental section.
The megaphonic distortions for the vocal on "Play My Rock 'n' Roll" give a wonderfully dirty, sleazy growl that crawls all over a riff lower than a snake’s belly. A simple track but effective and foot-tapping.
"Personal Sin" has a biting guitar attack that rocks hard with an edgy swagger and features Dave Meniketti of Y&T, Thunder's Harry James and Quo's Rhino Edwards... but wait there's more. Time to open the bottle of red wine for the swinging blues drive of "Lately" which once again has James on drums and Kevin Riddles on bass (yes, he of Angel Witch and Tytan).
Archer's ear for a classic rocker is re-inforced in "TV Junkie" and album closer "Sooner Or Later", both ripping along a power rock groove and are about the heaviest tracks on show.


There is plenty of room to stretch out too. "Like A Clown" assumes almost epic proportions and is the album’s Asia-moment with staccato riffs, mood changes, melodic twists, acoustic guitar and an extended piano break. Archer enjoys the space and puts in a tour-de-force broken-hearted vocal delivery.
Sticking with the theme of diversity, here comes a ballad. "Time On My Hands" begins as a gentle narrative drifting on a sea of, well, mediocrity. But stick with it. Rob Wolverson transforms the track with a searing, spiraling solo that blows apart the calm waters. The gorgeous synth-string arrangement would put one in mind of UFO, and then Archer comes back in to wrap his big bluesy vocal chords around the go-for-broke chorus.
The influences continue to be widely mined. That blues thread runs through a few of the tracks, most obviously "Reuben's Blues", a brooding, complex gem which features sax front and centre.

What "Personal Sin" offers open-handedly is almost 70 minutes of quality classic rock music, sharp and melodic. Reuben Archer and his mates pool really well here their considerable talents to lift the album way above the average.
Well-written songs are boosted with clear-cut arrangements, subtle harmonies and unexpected changes of pace spiked with keyboards, hammond, sax, synths and various sound effects.
The big, polished, crisp production has really brought out the quality in Archer's voice and put the musicianship front and centre. And on that note, Rob Wolverson's guitar work is simply brilliant throughout.
Elsewhere, Archer has whistled up the extensive services of the likes of Neil Murray, Paul Raymond, Dave Meniketti, Luke Morley and John ‘Rhino’ Edwards, each adding some flavour to the tracks and the standard of the album is high.
It's taken Reuben Archer thirty years to finally get a solo album, and just like himself, "Personal Sin" it is full of vintage quality, a genuine rockin’ album by a true rocker.
Highly Recommended.

01. Bulletproof
02. Play My Rock 'n' Roll (ft. Rocky Newton)
03. Personal Sin (ft. Meniketti, H. James & ‘Rhino’ Edwards)
04. Lately (ft. Harry James & Kevin Riddles)
05. Time On My Hands (ft. Derek Holt & Steve Holbrook)
06. Desperation Train (ft. Luke Morley, D. Holt & S. Holbrook)
07. TV Junkie
08. Ace Café (ft. Paul Quinn, H. James, R. Edwards, S. Holbrook)
09. Spanish Nights (ft. Steve Holbrook)
10. Reuben's Blues (ft. Paul Quinn, Neil Murray, Paul Raymond)
11. Shakin' All Over
12. Like A Clown
13. Sooner Or Later

Reuben Archer - Lead Vocals
Rob Wolverson - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Elizabeth Fields, Dulcie Phoenix - Backing Vocals
Dave Meniketti (Y&T)
John ‘Rhino’ Edwards (Status Quo)
Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Gary Moore, Snakecharmer)
Harry James (Magnum, Thunder, Snakecharmer)
Paul Quinn (Saxon)
Paul Raymond (UFO, PRP)
Derek Holt (Climax Blues Band)
Luke Morley (The Union, Thunder)
Rocky Newton (Lionheart, MSG)
Steve Holbrook (Lautrec)
Kevin Riddles (Angel Witch, Tytan)
Chris Clowsley, Steve Graystone (Stampede)
Christian Nokes (IOEarth)
Vince Neades (Archer Marriott Band)
Al Cormel (Slide Boy Roy & The Decades)
Joe Blanks (The Howling, The Tunics)
Chris Dyer (Ruff Kutz, Skalinskis)
Paul Gooderham (The Remnants, Archer Marriott Band)



JETTBLACK - Black Gold (2013)

JETTBLACK - Black Gold (2013) mp3, download


The last CD from British hard rockers JETTBLACK was among the best 2012 albums for this blog staff and most specialized media. While preparing its successor, the guys are releasing today, August 19th, a selection of hard to find b-sides, unreleased & re-worked material entitled "Black Gold".

The 13-track collection includes fresh covers of three classic anthems; "Barracuda" (Ann Wilson's Heart), AC/DC's "Let Me Put My Love Into You" and "Name In Vain" (Motorhead cover), but also the original brand new acoustic song "Red Horizon" and many different versions from previous compositions.
Tipped to be appearing fully electrified on the next studio album, "Red Horizon" gives a fresh look into the advancement of the band's writing. Haunting, elegant, yet typically Jettblack it certainly makes keeping an eye on the future an easy job as the rest of the album tidies up the past.

Title track "Black Gold" (originally appeared on sophomore release 'Raining Rock') is presented in a revised, new edited version featuring the six strings of Damon Johnson (Black Star Riders) as guest on a hot solo.
Previously only available digitally, "Feel The Love" also has a guest star, this time Ian Paice of Deep Purple who swirls his sticks and offers up some classic beats to complement the hard rock rhythm. The other, "Weapon", weighs in at the heavier end of the Jettblack spectrum. It stomps like a wild stallion, kicking up dust with a stampede of power.
As does 'Fade Away', which rocks its way out of the shadows at the back of the vaults, shelved since the original sessions for 'Get Your Hands Dirty'. There's other digital-only tunes like the pleasant acoustics "Sunshine" and "Prison Of Love".

JETTBLACK - Black Gold (2013) inside

Much more than a mere compilation, "Black Gold" keeps the pot boiling for JettBlack's album number three (in the making) with a strong combination of hot electrics and sweet acoustics.
This release shows the full potential of an outfit that are getting more experienced and confident with each passing year; no need for gimmicks, these songs stand up for themselves.
Strongly Recommended.

01. Black Gold (feat. Damon Johnson)
02. Feel The Love (feat. Ian Paice)
03. Weapon
04. Fade Away
05. Let Me Put My Love Into You (AC/DC cover)
06. Red Horizon (Acoustic)
07. Barracuda (Heart cover)
08. Name In Vain (Motorhead cover)
09. War Between Us (Acoustic)
10. Not Even Love (Acoustic)
11. Sunshine (Acoustic)
12. Prison Of Love (Acoustic)
13. Black Gold (Full Version)

Will Stapleton - vocals, guitar
Jon Dow - vocals, guitar
Tom Wright - bass
Matt Oliver - drums
Damon Johnson - guest guitar
Ian Paice - guest drums

JETTBLACK - Black Gold (2013) back cover



Saturday, August 17, 2013

DION BAYMAN - Smoke And Mirrors (2013)

DION BAYMAN - Smoke And Mirrors (2013) mp3, download


We have in Australian DION BAYMAN another musician trying to find his place in the Melodic Rock circus. This is not easy when you look at the increasing list of bands who dominate this genre.
After listening to "Smoke And Mirrors" I can only say that this Down Under guy don't need to hide from his competitors.

I think to promote his music, Dion makes things more difficult than they actually are. Examples? You won't find any pictures of him, beside one pic on his website that looks like he wants to apply for a job. The site don't tell you much about him, he hasn't got this kind of attitude or image which would make him more interesting to a bigger crowd.
There isn't a Facebook Fanpage or something like that which could promote him. That means he don't make use of the modern media and all the options they give you as a musician. Colleagues like Johnny Lima or Julian Angel show how it works. So, what this guy wants here? How will he survive in this business?
Expectations are so damn low without any promotion. Is he not worth it? Yes, I had these thoughts when I started to do some research and I think many people will also have their doubts, but let the music do the talking: what Dion Bayman delivers here is in some terms better than the stuff you get from the well-known artists in this genre.

Dion says his influences are Richard Marx, Bryan Adams and modern Bon Jovi, and this is absolutely true. Put them all together and you know what you get. I also hear a bit of the latest Danger Danger release 'Revolve' in some of the songs.
In conclusion this means you'll hear a bunch of well-crafted, commercial melodic rock / guitar driven rock&pop songs with AOR touches which have their roots in the '80s / '90s, but come along with an updated twist. Commercial means here the song material is very accessible, catchy and easy to the ear. It has nothing to do with a genuflection to the mainstream (otherwise there would be much more advertisement).
"Smoke And Mirrors" it's just music Dion really loves and lives. He has a really good sense for great melodies, harmonies and hooks ... and honestly, this is all you need to be a good melodic rocker.

I liked the first two tracks "Here I Am" and especially "All That I Am" after the first listen. These songs should be smash hits on all rock radio stations. They come along with sugar sweet choruses and contagious melodies.
Of course, every song is catchy as hell on this record, but those two songs mixes classic melodies with a modern approach that don't need to hide from the stuff Richard Marx and Bryan Adams do nowadays.
Other highlights of this album are the orchestrated power ballad "Over To You" complete with a strong dose of electric guitar to give it strength, the rockin' "Gone", and the more AOR (and one of the best) "Turn Back Time", a midtempo armed with a sticky chorus and great keyboards.
"Someday" and "'Change" are modern poppy melodic rockers, but edgy sounding and avoiding the cheap common places of present modern rock ruling the charts.

"Smoke And Mirrors" is a surprisingly great melodic rock album with modern touches coming out of nowhere with no promotion, no bombastic press releases, just truly great songs made from the heart.
What is incredibly amazing as well is to discover that Dion Bayman has handled all things by himself, and the result is absolutely stunning. He plays every instrument on his own (even programmed the drums, which sound stupendous), has written and arranged all the songs, an recorded, mixed and mastered the whole package. It's not usual to reach such a good quality when you are doing everything on your own.
Dion's vocals are very likeable and sweet - sometimes reminding Ted Poley, without any effects or auto-tuning, very earthy and real, and you can hear on aspects such as backing and harmony vocals that attention to detail has been applied.

The production is clean, rich and full, and trust me, much better than many renowned acts out there. Bayman proves that with a low budget you can put out an impressive sonic product if you have talent.
"Smoke And Mirrors" is a big, unexpected surprise and it's easily on the same level as the latest Richard Marx stuff, compositional wise, at places, even better. With a bit more promotion and marketing this guy could be a household number in the modern Melodic Rock / AOR international scene. (written by Thomas Schwarzkopf)
Strongly Recommended.

01 - Here I Am
02 - All That I Am
03 - Over to You
04 - The Only One
05 - Gone
06 - Someday
07 - Change
08 - Everything
09 - All My Life
10 - Turn Back Time
11 - O Holy Night (bonus track)

All vocals, All instruments by Dion Bayman
Written, recorded, produced, mixed & mastered by Dion Bayman



Friday, August 16, 2013

BEGGAR'S JAM - Feat. Mr. Casablanca [Michael Voss] (2013)

BEGGAR'S JAM - Feat. Mr. Casablanca [Michael Voss] (2013) mp3, download


Without a doubt, German singer, songwriter & multi-instrumentalist Michael Voss is a busy man involved into many bands like MSG or his beloved Mad Max, and lately, producing other acts. He finds relax collaborating with his friend Holggy Begg (Swiss born) in Beggar's Bride, a classic rock side-project.
Since some years now both morphed this band into BEGGAR'S JAM, a two-man orchestra basically playing acoustic shows in central Europe just for fun.
But as happened with the Bride's, they have recorded a couple of albums as well, being this "Featuring Mr. Casablanca" the new release of the duo featuring some guest friends.

Mr. Casablanca is the alter ego of Casanova, Voss' fantastic band from the nineties. If you never heard Casanova, you're missing some terrific Melodic Hard Rock albums, in my opinion, among the best ever emerged from the German scene.
Well, in point of fact, "Featuring Mr. Casablanca" consists of Casanova's songs turned acoustic. There's bloody good, melodic versions of - for me - classics like the awesome "Burning Love", "The Girl Is Mine", "Guns Say Fire", "Love Lies" or "Hollywood Angels", all dynamically played including lots of acoustic instruments and vintage keyboards.
But it isn't all about unplugged; another absolute fav of mine like "Rome Burns" add electric guitars, and some quite wild at places as heard on "Bang Bang".

BEGGAR'S JAM - Feat. Mr. Casablanca [Michael Voss] (2013) inside cover

The simple reason of why "Feat. Mr. Casablanca" works it's because features excellent songs.
Some of these are true Melodic Rock gems, performed here in a stripped way and organically produced. A bunch of friends such as Hermann Rarebell and Mandy Meyer come to collaborate, and the result is an extremely pleasant listen.
You can't beat the strength of a good song - no matter the environment in which is played - and take for sure these veterans do justice to these splendid tunes.
Great one to un-plug your head off your problems or a hard day.
Really Recommended.

01 - Burning Love
02 - Living a Lie
03 - The Girl Is Mine
04 - Rome Burns
05 - Love Lies
06 - Bang Bang
07 - Ride the Wings of Freedom
08 - Hollywood Angels
09 - Guns Say Fire
10 - Home Is Where the Heart Is
11 - Not Over You
12 - The Last of the Runaways

Michael Voss (Bonfire, Casanova, Mad Max) – Vocals, Bass, Guitar, Mandolin
Holggy Begg (Beggar's Bride) – Organ, Mellotron, Moog, Backing Vocals
Mandy Meyer (Gotthard, Krokus, Asia) – Lead Guitar
Jan Laurenz – Chapman Stick
Mark Schulman (Foreigner, Billy Idol) — Drums
Hermann Rarebell (Scorpions) — Drums

BEGGAR'S JAM - Feat. Mr. Casablanca [Michael Voss] (2013) back cover



ERIC JOHNSON - Wonder / Tidal / The Wind Cries Mary (2013)

ERIC JOHNSON - Wonder / Tidal / The Wind Cries Mary (2013) singles, mp3, download


Texas wonder ERIC JOHNSON is always on the move, and while touring and recording his next album, has released a triad of new singles to enjoy.
"Wonder" features his smooth vocals accompanied by his exquisite finger-pickin' on the nylon guitar strings, whilst "Tidal" shows Eric's sweet, expressive, perfect guitar tone.

ERIC JOHNSON - Wonder / Tidal / The Wind Cries Mary (2013) covers

But this incredible musician isn't just a great guitar player, the man shines on the ivory too, and his version of Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary" only on piano / vocals is the most original and surprising cover I ever heard of this perennial classic.
This track is a re-work of the never released sessions from his side-project Alien Love Child — with Bill Maddox on drums and Chris Maresh on bass — as an improvisational vacation from his meticulous studio work.
A fantastic listen.

01 - Wonder
02 - Tidal
03 - The Wind Cries Mary



Thursday, August 15, 2013

THE CULT - Electric Peace (2013)

THE CULT - Electric Peace (2013) mp3,download


THE CULT got its first breakthrough success with the single ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ from the great album ‘Love’ in 1985, mixing Brit hard rock with Gothic atmospheres. When it came to recording a follow-up, the band booked into The Manor studios in Oxfordshire with Steve Brown again producing the album. By the end of October 1986 the album was recorded, the masters assembled and it was given the title "Peace".
However, due The Cult's management and the band pretension to conquer the US market and to capitalize on the popularity of commercial hard rock in the States, they decided to re-record the entire album in New York with Rick Rubin behind the desk. The result was a completely different, dry, riffing hard rock entitled "Electric", a multi-million seller which finally bring international success for the band.

"Peace" was shelved until 2000 (some tracks appeared in the rare The Manor Sessions EP in 1988) when it was part of the expensive ‘Rare Cult’ box set, but now is available as separate release entitled "Electric Peace", a double CD including both recordings.
I won't discuss 'Electric' here as it's a well known album, just "Peace" which is a truly must listen for rock aficionados. For fans of early The Cult (like me) "Peace" is a must have, if you're only into the 'American' The Cult, this will be a pleasant revelation.

THE CULT - Electric Peace (2013) photo

Many songs never appeared in the US re-recording, such as "Conquistador", "Love Trooper", "Groove Co" and the masterful "Zap City", while classics like "Love Removal Machine" or "Wild Flower" are completely different sounding and arranged, with a polished and dark atmosphere similar as the early style of the band.

"Peace" is an invaluable addition to The Cult's catalog, especially for fans of their 'Love' album.
Musically, this recording has that 'British sound of the '80s' written all over it - lush melodies, crisp clean production, groovy bass lines, sinister yet (in some fans' eyes, certainly) 'sexy' vocals and some of the biggest guitar hooks and riffs you could ever find on a Rock album from the isles.
What is absolutely stellar about on "Peace" is the way in which guitarist Billy Duffy and bass player Jamie Stewart make their respective instruments flow and bond with each other, as if they were to have a long-lasting relationship. Each and every song has that luscious 'big neon glitter' in Duffy's excellent solos, and you can tell just how he manages to fit them in at exactly the right time. Another noticeable stronghold within "Peace" is the excellently written lyrics and how Ian Astbury manages to sing them in sultry way.
Mandatory listening.

01 - Love Removal Machine
02 - Wild Flower
03 - Peace Dog
04 - Aphrodisiac Jacket
05 - Electric Ocean
06 - Bad Fun
07 - Conquistador
08 - Zap City
09 - Love Trooper
10 - Outlaw
11 - Groove Co.

Ian Astbury - vocals
Billy Duffy - electric & acoustic guitars
Jamie Stewart - bass, keyboards, background vocals
Mark Brzezicki, Les Warner - drums



RED SAND - Cinema du Vieux Cartier [deluxe edition] (2013)

RED SAND - Cinema du Vieux Cartier [deluxe edition] (2013) mp3, download


"Cinéma du Vieux Cartier" is the sixth album for Quebec's RED SAND, a Canadian neo-prog act who are most often compared to Fish-era Marillion. I remember Red Sand's 2nd CD being a really well crafted piece of work certainly inspired by early Marillion yet with their own personality. But the band slightly changed the musical approach in subsequent recordings and I lost interest.
With "Cinema du Vieux Cartier", Red Sand are back to their old form with great melodies and a true neo-prog spirit.

The head of the band is composer and guitarist Simon Caron who drives the music via his Rothery-like playing which indeed recalls first Marillion. The good news is the return of the constant keyboard washes and solos that abound in every song at charge of Pennsylia Caron (Simon's daughter), a really well trained academic musician full of good taste.
Despite its French title, "Cinema du Vieux Cartier" lyrics are in English sung by Steff Dorval delivering emotive and sometimes dramatic performances. This is some kind of a conceptual album where the band critically deals with the world of cinema through elaborated compositions plenty of progressive dynamics, from sensitive to bombastic passages.

We have three short tracks (clocking around four and half minutes) interspersed with two very long pieces, but both are divided in several parts all of them truly enjoyable. The longest, "The Queen", showcases all this talented band has to offer; breaks and changing moods, varied vocals from intense to subtly, an elastic rhythm section, great guitar work and above all some very fine keyboard arrangements.

This digipak deluxe edition includes a bonus mini-CD entitled 'Au Vieux Cinema' (100 copies only limited edition).
It features a French version of title track - which sounds quite different and really interesting, and the non-album track "Superhero", perhaps the more catchy neo-prog tune of all. A shame it isn't included into the regular CD as this is an excellent composition that deserves to be enjoyed by all progressive fans.
So I strongly recommend to you to get this 'deluxe edition' if you can find it... seems it's sold out but you can try at Red Sand's website or eBay.

"Cinema du Vieux Cartier" is a very good neo-prog album (recalling early Marillion, Camel, Arena, some Pendragon and Poland's Collage) from Red Sand, a band that may not offer anything original in terms of style, but they do deliver first-rate music in this genre that oozes charm, refinement and professionalism.
Very Recommended.

1. Au Vieux Cinéma (5:26)
2. Fallen Star (12:54)
3. Fairytale (4:00)
4. The Queen (22:28)
5. The End (4:14)
Bonus mini-CD 'Au Vieux Cinema' limited to 100 copies;
1. Cinema du Vieux Cartier [French version] (5:30)
2. Superhero (7:19)

Simon Caron - guitars, keyboards
Pennsylia Caron - piano, keyboards
Mathieu Gosselin - bass
Danny Robertson - drums
Steff Dorval - vocals

RED SAND - Cinema du Vieux Cartier [deluxe edition] (2013) back cover



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

STAN BUSH - ST [Rock Candy remaster] (2011)

STAN BUSH - ST [Rock Candy remaster] (2011) mp3, download


After the recent feature here of STAN BUSH & Barrage 2nd reissue, many of you asked for his first album remastered by Rock Candy Records and released in 2011. Well, seems this baby is out of print too, and will receive a second press as well very soon.
You still can find some copies of "Stan Bush Rock Candy Remastered & Reloaded" first edition on sites like eBay, but if you're a rabid collector I recommend to catch one pronto as the prices of the remaining copies are growing faster.

As previously said, Stan Bush self-titled debut garnered healthy critical acclaim and cemented Bush's reputation as top class songwriter.
With a crisp production by Kevin Beamish (REO Speedwagon, Y&T), some of the best session musicians from the L.A. scene like Alan Pasqua, Mike Baird or Leland Sklar and packed with terrific songs, this is one of best debut albums from the early '80s Melodic Rock / AOR period.
It should be noted that Bush & management could have hired top session six-string players as well, but Stan decided to record every guitar heard on this recording. Apart from his smooth vocals and excellent songwriting abilities, Stan Bush owns a distinctive guitar style as well.

From the irresistible opener "It's Hot", the glorious AOR of "Say The Word", "Keep Your Love Alive" and "Say The Word" to the supreme ballad "Can't Live Without Love", this disc represents the true first half of the '80s sound in this genre like few, still sounding fresh today.
All tracks are great, but my absolute favorite is the classic "Fire In My Heart", which alone is worth the price of this disc.
Bush co-wrote all the songs except "All American Boy" penned by another AOR myth; Van Stephenson, who later will record his own version. This track is slightly different sonically, produced by legend Andy Johns who also engineered the whole album.

Although Stan Bush's second album is the best of his career, this self-titled debut runs close sporting all the hooks, feeling and magic from the seminal US Melodic Rock AOR sounds.
A Must Have.

01 - It's Hot
02 - Fire In My Heart
03 - Can't Live Without Love
04 - Don't Accuse Her
05 - Love Has Taken Me Away
06 - All American Boy
07 - Say The Word
08 - Time Isn't Changing You
09 - Round And Round
10 - Keep Your Love Alive

Stan Bush - vocals, guitar
Alan Pasqua - keyboards
Leland Sklar, Dennis Belfield, David White - bass
Mike Baird, Gary Mallaber - drums
Jon Smith - sax
Steve Forman, Kevin Beamish - percussion

STAN BUSH - ST [Rock Candy remaster] (2011) back cover



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

D.N.A. - Life (2013)

D.N.A. - Life (2013) David Reed Watson mp3, download


D.N.A. is a new international band put together by Portuguese guitarist & songwriter Alexandre Santos (Scar For Life) and American singer David Reed Watson (Rage Of Angels).
By 'new' I mean the paint isn't even dry on this project as it born last February and they've already released their debut "Life".

Scar For Life is Santos main band (a metal act with prog overtones always featuring different vocalists) who already have three recordings under the belt. He was working on some new songs with Watson for possible inclusion in Scar For Life's next CD.
But all evolved into a different musical style; potent Euro (melodic) hard rock tunes with edge and punch, so both musicians decided that this should become something altogether different than Scar For Life and should become its own entity, hence, D.N.A., taking the first letters of their names, as British guitarist Neil Fraser (ex- TEN, Rage Of Angels) joined them soon after.
Completing the line up are Swede Mikael Carlsson on bass (Lover Under Cover) and Scar For Life's Joao Colaco on drums.

"Broken Hero" opens propelled by a marching rhythm section and a melodic lead guitar lick. It's a modern hard rocker with strong verses, good harmony vocals and a thick six-string work recalling Magnus Karlsson.
Next, "Release" turn things a little heavier, an ok track featuring a nice groove and vocals, but overall seems it needed a little more polish on the arrangements.
But D.N.A. returns in very good form with "Ledge", a kick ass melodious epic rocker much in vein of TEN. In fact, this and the remaining tracks are all top-notch numbers with the band rolling out phenomenal guitar leads, smashing rhythm section and great lyrics sung with passion by a lead vocalist with talent to spare.
"The Flow" goes for a groove again but this time in a semi-midtempo delivery. The bass is tight, the guitars big and Watson put out a very intense vocal work. The creative arrangements makes this track one of the highlights.
For the final D.N.A. shows their verstility with the steady melodic rocker "The Mirror Of Your Soul" through a more separated instrumentation and acoustic guitars mixed with electrics. There's a long solo and the song gains energy towards the end.

D.N.A. is a really promising new band still searching for a definitive sound and style, but judging the results in "Life", it showcases a talented group of musicians with all the right pieces needed to achieve a long and sustained career.
David Reed Watson is a seriously strong singer, and here is helped by Kane Roberts (Alice Cooper) who produced the vocal tracks in California.
Fans of modern Euro Melodic Hard Rock with an edge will enjoy "Life", a solid first offering from D.N.A. that hopefully come out with a full length release soon.

1. Broken Hero
2. Release
3. Ledge
4. The Flow
5. The Mirror Of Your Soul

David Reed Watson (Rage Of Angels) - vocals
Alexandre Santos (Scar For Life) - guitar
Neil Fraser (ex-Ten, Rage Of Angels) - guitar
Mikael Carlsson (Love Under Cover) - bass
João Colaço (Scar For Life) - drums



Monday, August 12, 2013

TOMMY SHAW - Girls With Guns / What If [BGO digitally remastered] (2013)

TOMMY SHAW - Girls With Guns / What If [BGO digitally remastered] (2013) mp3, download


At the beginning of the eighties TOMMY SHAW departed Styx to pursue a solo career focusing on commercial Melodic Rock, AOR and rock&pop with the radio-friendly approach so in vogue around the time. First it was "Girls With Guns" in '84, and then "What If" (1985), both including cheerful melodious tunes but more deep lyrically than it may seem at first glance.
These discs have become quite hard to find since then, specially the second, and now BGO is putting out a great 2-in-1 package "Girls With Guns / What If " in a remastered form.

Some of the songs contained within "Girls With Guns" were written for Styx but rejected by other band members, and Tommy recorded them together with fresh compositions to create a sometimes eclectic, often amazing and always wonderful album.
The absolutelty '80s sounding, top synth hook title track was a top-40 (also featured in Miami Vice TV series), but it should be noted that Shaw was writing not necessarily about girls carrying actual guns, but about strong, independent women. This may sound a little naif today, yeat not in 1984 in a musical business ruled by a harsh maleness.
An interesting trait about the video for "Girls With Guns" single is that it is all one take; there are no cuts, which is quite different from the frenetic editing typical of the era.

From the nearly overly-sweet "Little Girl World" through the haunting emotional exploration of "Kiss Me Hello", to the spirited "The Race Is On", Tommy shows his penchant for diversity within this album, while holding on to remnants of the Styx stylized sound that propelled his rise to stardom.
"Free To Love You, "Outside in the Rain" and "Fading Away" all meld into a wonderful album that emotionally ebbs and flows to take the listener for a roller coaster ride of phonic delight, while holding court with subtle autobiographical self-analysis; "I left the band, steadied my hand and learned a trade" - woven throughout the songs.
One of my favorites is the wonderful "Lonely School" (with provoking subtle lyrics) the second single off the record, musically a strongly keyboard-filled power ballad yet with key changes aplenty. The guitars (Shaw’s stock in trade) mainly provide bits of color here and there, until the solo break after the second chorus. The background vocals give the overall track a kind of feel that Mr. Mister would develop later.

Following album "What If" is even much more 'Tommy Shaw' itself displaying the emotional struggles during this period of his life; addictions and aching over the marital turmoil with his then wife, Pamela (featured on the album cover) and showing some hints of what would be his best - and one of the top albums from the 2nd half of the '80s - Ambition.
"Reach For The Bottle" is a terrific bluesy rocker dealing with the confusion and torment of despondency and alcoholism. The agonizing rhythm of the song, the dire vocals and the anthemic yells all tell the tale of Tommy's 'bohemian side' that he acknowledged he wanted to reveal in Styx but never did.
"Jealousy" rocks with a melodic turbulence in the vein of future Damn Yankees, while dynamic numbers such as "This Is Not A Test", "True Confessions" and "Friendly Advice" are true mid-eighties childs.

I love the bouncing AOR harmony vocals and keyboards in "See Me Now" and the perfect verse-building of "Nature Of The Beast", while the achingly ballad "Count On You" offers some really classic Styx atmospheres. Last track "Bad Times" features a scratch at the beginning on purpose, because Tommy was not pleased with the song but the label insisted to be included in the album.
Of course the melodic rock&pop bliss of "Remo's Theme (What If)" is a highlight. It was the theme song for the character Remo Williams in the movie The Adventure Begins, but incredibly the song was not included into the soundtrack due legal reasons.

"Girls With Guns" and "What If" were reissued by Absolute Records in 1996 but become out of print really soon. There was a limited 2007 GWG second press by American Beat Rec., but really expensive and deleted now.
So this 2013 BGO Digitally Remastered 2-disc set at the price of 1 is a must have, both sounding truly oustanding.
Highly Recommended.

CD1: Girls With Guns remastered 2013

01. Girls With Guns
02. Come In And Explain
03. Lonely School
04. Heads Up
05. Kiss Me Hello [CD/cassette long version]
06. Fading Away
07. Little Girl World
08. Outside in the Rain [CD/cassette long version]
09. Free to Love You
10. The Race Is On

Tommy Shaw: Vocals, Electric & Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin
Steve Holley: Drums, Percussion
Brian Stanley: Bass
Peter Wood: Piano, Electric Piano, Synthesizer
Richie Cannata: Sax solo on "The Race Is On"
Molly Duncan: Sax section on "The Race Is On"
Carol Kenyon: Duet Vocal on "Outside In The Rain"
Eddie Wohlford, Jimbo Jones: Backing Vocals
Produced & Recorded by Mike Stone

CD2: What If remastered 2013

01. Jealousy
02. Remo's Theme (What If)
03. Reach For The Bottle
04. Friendly Advice
05. This Is Not A Test
06. See Me Now
07. True Confessions
08. Count On You
09. Nature Of The Beast
10. Bad Times

Tommy Shaw: Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Steve Holley: Drums, Percussion
Brian Stanley: Bass
Richie Cannata: Sax, Keyboards
Mark Marshall: Drums on "Bad Times"
Gary Myrick: Guitar on "Count On You", "Friendly Advice"
Jobell Yonely, Kim Criswell: Backing Vocals
Produced by Shaw/Cannata - Mixed by Greg Ladanyi



Saturday, August 10, 2013

CRYING STEEL - Time Stands Steel (2013)

CRYING STEEL - Time Stands Steel (2013) mp3, download


CRYING STEEL born in Italy thirty one years ago influenced by the British metal scene at the beginning of the eighties. After several demos and an EP the band managed to release its debut album in 1987, they broke-up in the nineties till 2003 when they took shape again and a comeback album was out in 2007.
Then was time for a slight change in the musical direction: new guitarist in the skilled Massimiliano Magagni and powerful young singer Stefano Palmonari provided to Crying Steel a more modern, punchy hard rock edge still retaining their classic '80s metal sound.
The result is Crying Steel's third full-length album "Time Stands Steel", just released by Perris Records in the US.

Crying Steel present style may have an '80s metal approach, but their sound is very melodic, dynamic & fresh as well. They're not trying to sound retro at any point and that’s a good thing.
All the songs in "Time Stands Steel" are driven by a pounding rhythm section (sometimes galloping), heavy riffs & high pitched vocals. Stefano Palmonari is a powerhouse-like singer with a bit of accent, but at the end this benefits the overall delivery adding an unmistakable Euro touch to the proceedings.

CRYING STEEL - Time Stands Steel (2013) inside cover

This band is an eighties metal child and this is clearly reflected into their music, but you know, what used to be 'heavy' back in the day, now is simply tagged as hard 'n heavy.
So there's no place for ballads in "Time Stands Steel". However, the disc features some really melodic numbers with an updated production akin early Pretty Maids, Running Wild or Tokyo Blade.
Effective rockin' cuts such as "Starline", "Beverly Kills", the groovy "Heavens Of Rock", "Lookin' At" and the very catchy "Shut Down" (my favorite) surely will made your head bang on and your feet tap.
There's more speedy tracks like the urgent opener "Defender" (very British), the monster rhythm-guitar sharpness of "Riding" and the double-bass drum fueled "Black Eve".

For eighties hard 'n heavy rabid fans, "Time Stands Steel" is the real deal.
Crying Steel owns the spirit, the denim 'n' leather blood, as they are from that era and they didn't needed to learn the lesson in this style, they lived it. As unit the group sounds tight, massive, and the songs flow naturally, wrapped by an updated production still respecting the canon of this - when well executed - lovable genre.
And this is the case with "Time Stands Steel", a really well crafted, highly enjoyable punchy rocking disc.

01 - Defender
02 - Shut Down
03 - Lookin' At
04 - Rockin' Train
05 - Heavens Of Rock
06 - Crying Steel
07 - Metal Way
08 - Starline
09 - Riding
10 - No Slip
11 - Black Eve
12 - Beverly Kills

Stefano Palmonari - Vox
Max Magagni - Guitar
Franco Nipoti - Guitar
Angelo Franchini - Bass
Luca Ferri - Drums

CRYING STEEL - Time Stands Steel (2013) back cover



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