Swedish Melodic Rockers LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM will release in February, 2014 their first Greatest Hits album with songs selected by themselves celebrating the band's 10th Anniversary, entitled "Platform 10th Anniversary Best".
As usual, the album was presented in Japan first, containing Last Autumn's Dream choice cuts from their entire catalogue plus 3 new recordings: acoustic versions of "Again And Again", "After Tomorrow's Gone", and a cover of John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)".
So you have here the best of Last Autumn's Dream from their self-titled debut to the last studio album Ten Tangerine Tales. All the old tracks have been remastered, and we find as well a new remix version of "Up In Paradise".
As Melodic Rock fan, you can't go wrong with "Platform: 10th Anniversary Best".
MICP-11131 エディション | Remaster
01 - Love To Go
02 - Rainbow Sky
03 - Hold On To My Heart
04 - Rock'n Roll Is Saving My Soul
05 - It's Alright
06 - See My Baby Jive
07 - My Alibi
08 - Up In Paradise [new remix version]
09 - I've Fallen Into You
10 - Pages
11 - The Last To Know
12 - The One
13 - Preludium - The Man I Used To Be
14 - Again And Again
15 - Happy Xmas (War Is Over) [new recording]
16 - After Tomorrow's Gone (acoustic version) [new recording]
17 - Again And Again (acoustic version) [new recording]
Mikael Erlandsson - lead and backing vocals, keyboards
Andy Malecek - lead guitar
Jamie Borger - drums, backing vocals, acoustic guitar
Nalley Pahlsson - bass, backing vocals
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Tuesday, December 31, 2013
One of the best Hard Rock albums from the most glorious year for the genre - 1989 - has been 'Remastered & Reloaded' by Rock Candy Records; BLUE MURDER self-titled debut.
Formed by superb guitarist John Sykes in 1988 after being fired from Whitesnake by David Coverdale, Sykes took the reins of his destiny in his hands. He returned home to England, where his mother and stepfather have a studio in Blackpool.
After extensive jam sessions including numerous musicians such as legendary drummer Cozy Powell, great shouter Ray Gillen (of Black Sabbath and later Badlands) and Tony Martin (who, ironically, replaced Gillen in Black Sabbath) briefly worked with Sykes for a possible band line-up.
However the consensus from all those involved with Sykes, including friends, musicians and A&R executive John Kalodner (commissioned by Geffen Records who signed Blue Murder) was that no one they auditioned as lead singer could match the guide vocals Sykes recorded himself on his Blue Murder demos.
Sykes decided to scrap his search for a vocalist and handle the vocal duties himself, completing the band with two terrific cats; Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, King Kobra) on drums and Tony Franklin (The Firm, Whitesnake) on bass.
The album that Sykes, Appice and Franklin recorded was nothing less than spectacular.
Taking his guitar playing a step beyond his work with Whitesnake, Sykes produced edgy, fluid and explosive guitar rhythms. His solo work on the record is awe inspiring. No one can miss the legato phrasing and vibrato of John Sykes.
The surprise to us all was the voice. No one expected Sykes to be able to stand out as a lead vocalist. Citing Coverdale, Glenn Hughes and Phil Lynott as influences, John Sykes found himself learning the trade from two of rock’s greatest vocalist. His thick British accent gives his vocals a smooth, sensual vibe.
No longer standing in the shadow of Phil Lynott or David Coverdale, Sykes stood on his own as lead vocalist in his own right.
The fret-less bass playing of Tony Franklin highlighted the bass guitar as an instrument. Gone was the straight ahead playing of bassists of the genre to be replaced by fluid, rolling sounds that were unfamiliar to the listeners. The opening track "Riot" is a prime example of the unique sound and style of Franklin.
With a resume that dates back to the late '60s, Appice set the foundation for heavy drumming. His unique style provided the back bone for Blue Murder's music with bone-crushing fills and rolls. Appice's playing lays the baseline for Franklin's bass grooves and Sykes' guitar mastery.
Simply put, every track on this album ROCKS.
There is some controversy with this Rock Candy edition. Many rabid fans of Blue Murder and collectors purchased the CD because in the press sheet, on the back cover and the inside booklet there's listed as track 5 the song 'Cold Harbor', not included in the original 1989 release. It looked as a previously unreleased track.
Truth is it was a typo, a print mistake, such song never existed. The CD features the original 9-track sequence.
Apart from that, this Rock Candy remaster is awesome, pristine and clear.
This is a great opportunity to re-discover this gem in its full sound dynamics, and if you never heard the album, to purchase with your eyes closed.
02. Sex Child
03. Valley Of The Kings
04. Jelly Roll
05. Blue Murder
06. Out Of Love
09. Black-Hearted Woman
John Sykes - lead vocals, guitars
Tony Franklin - bass, background vocals
Carmine Appice - drums, percussion, background vocals
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Monday, December 30, 2013
RECKLESS IN VEGAS is a rocking trio who has released two EP's of original material in the last five years, but right now are making some real noise in the independent US scene and media with their just released full length CD "The Hard Way", reinventing classic '50s and '60s era tunes into some classic rock (at places, hard) numbers.
Founded by Michael Shapiro - who grow up in Las Vegas and whose grandfather owned a hotel there - on guitar and vocals, Mario Cipollina (Huey Lewis & the News) on bass & vocals and Ryan Low on drums, these guys have crafted a truly original record, something really enjoyable and original.
In its formative years, Rock 'N Roll music didn't have a greater enemy than Frank Sinatra, who called the latest evolution in popular music as "sung, played and written for the most part by cretinous goons. Rock 'n roll manages to be the martial music of every sideburned delinquent on the face of the Earth".
Of course the good Frank years later would record an album of duets with a number of Rock luminaries, and even said he liked Rock's rhythms and energy.
Reckless In Vegas has taken the music of Sinatra and many of those other cats from the famous 'Rat Pack' as well as some of the glitzier '60 croons and gives the stuff a gritty rock 'n roll varnish on "The Hard Way".
These re-imaginations are the brainchild of noted rock producer Dan Shea (Kenny Loggins, Phil Collins, Santana, et al) who created all the arrangements, and then produced, engineered and mixed the album.
The song selection is very clever and wide span. It's a Vegas theme of sorts as all the original artists darkened a stage in Sin City back in the day. These performers include Rat Pack brothers Frank Sinatra ("Luck Be A Lady", "My Way", "This Town") and Dean Martin ("Everybody Loves Somebody", "Sway"), sixties hits like Neil Diamond's "Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon" or "Solitary Man", Elvis Presley ("Love Me Tender", "Can't Help Falling In Love"), Sonny & Cher, Tom Jones and more.
The disc opens with a tight take on "Luck Be A Lady" (made popular by Sinatra) almost unrecognisable behind that lively sharp guitar riffs and bouncy rhythm section.
Frankie Vallie & The Four Seasons classic "Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You" starts in a very soulful and singular fashion, allowing the band to continue gaining momentum and energy. It is this delightful addition of speed and distorted guitars that makes Reckless In Vegas shine; the vocals are raspy and the six-strings twinkle.
Reckless In Vegas tackles the Dean Martin classic "Everybody Loves Somebody" with the highly rhythmical guitar work of the opening strains, and then develops into a quicker riff and quasi-swaggering lead vocals. Johnny Cash’s "Ring of Fire" version breaks free of the trappings of the original and makes it into something that could easily garner heavy rotation.
Singer and actress Rumer Willis (daughter of Bruce Willis) duets with Shapiro on Elvis' "Can't Help Falling In Love" with magical and magnificent results. The female vocal adds the perfect soft touch to the bold delivery present until now on the album, while the delicate instrumentation is simply stunning.
Perhaps the best thing about the arrangements is that Reckless In Vegas remember the fundamental melody and sound of the original while, at the same time, enlivening them with Rock energy. An excellent example is the cover of Deano's "Sway", giving it a liveliness and swing to it's sway. Another is Diamond's "Solitary Man" which has modern sound and bit faster pace.
The iconic "My Way" plays off of Sinatra's passionate delivery, but then uses rock to bolster the song's later crescendo.
On "The Hard Way" Reckless In Vegas makes these contemporary classic compositions into songs that the younger set can appreciate it, while maintaining the same melody and quality as the original performers.
The album serves as both a testament to the writers of this popular music songbook and to the band who are able to bring these classic tunes kicking and screaming into a more raucous rock 'n roll - sometimes hard rocking - sound.
All in all, from concept to arrangements to the musicianship, Reckless In Vegas' work here is simply terrific, a great listen, and tremendously entertaining.
Open you ears and enjoy "The Hard Way", a great collection of oldies imbued with a modern rockin' style and crisp production.
01 - Luck Be A Lady
02 - Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You
03 - Everybody Loves Somebody
04 - Ring Of Fire
05 - Love Me Tender
06 - The Beat Goes On / This Town
07 - It's Not Unusual / Miserlou
08 - Can't Help Falling in Love (feat. Rumer Willis)
09 - Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon / Solitary Man
10 - My Way
11 - Sway
Michael Shapiro - Vocals, Guitar
Mario Cipollina - Bass, Vocals
Ryan Low - Drums, Vocals
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01 - No Second Chance
02 - I Can't Stand The Rain
03 - My Jesus
04 - Down The Line
05 - The Words That I Haven't Said
06 - Believe
07 - Rockstar
08 - Sweet Hard Fighter
09 - Love Is Dead
10 - So Beautiful
Giulio Garghentini: Lead & Backing Vocals
Mario Percudani: Guitars, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals on 5
Paolo "Apollo" Negri: Keyboards
Gianni Grecchi: Bass
Paolo Botteschi: Drums
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Saturday, December 28, 2013
Founded in 1993, Germans MIDNITE SKY were previously known as Zardoz releasing three hard rock records before being forced to a name change due a movie of the same name. With the new moniker, Midnite Sky put out a full length CD in 2004 and then disappeared from the scene.
After nine years, the Stuttgart quartet returns with a very good new album; "Blood, Sweat And A Little More".
Midnite Sky's music takes inspiration from the classic German & American Melodic Hard Rock genre with a touch of party / glamrock akin Bonfire, Fair Warning, '90s Jaded Heart, Victory, Dokken, White Lion, Shakra and alikes.
The songs on "Blood, Sweat And A Little More" are filled with groovy rhythms, hooky riffs and contagious melodies throughout the whole album. They are great on the harmony vocal arrangements (all members contribute backing vocals), present on all tracks.
The musicianship is precise and we can hear a bunch of hot guitar solos giving an extra punch to these already melodious tunes. Perhaps the only drawback on some places are Holger Blickle's lead vocals, particularly on the harder numbers where you can hear his German accent here and there, but nothing disturbing.
Strangely, "Blood, Sweat And A Little More" starts with the weaker tracks on the record; "Hellfire" is a simple hard rocker ala nineties Victory, while the extremely melodic "Feels Like Heaven" is ok, yet somehow lacks consistency.
Things change radically with the great guitar-driven "Change Your Mind", a pure Melodic Hard Rock track in the best Bonfire tradition: razor riffs, bouncy rhythm section and a catchy chorus.
Then arrives my favorite track on the album; "Where Are The Angels", combining the mastery of Fair Warning in the way to craft a superb mid-tempo atmosphere, and the verses & chorus build which reminds me the great (and underrated) British act Tobruk. This song along worth the CD.
Good sounds continue with the really catchy Americanized "All I Ever Want" plenty of backing vocals and a flashy six-string solo, the slightly Dokken-esque mid-paced "Tell Me Why" (nice pinpoint vocals here), and the Pink Cream 69 sounding "Lay Down Your Fear".
The rest of the material is quite effective and melodic, particularly the most pure Melodic Rock cut on the album "Waiting for Your Love", and the White Lion inspired "Love Is a Stranger".
Well produced by themselves, Midnite Sky has delivered a solid Melodic Hard Rock recording on "Blood, Sweat And A Little More", with something for everyone who loves this genre, as the band, for the most part, succesfully combines European and American stylings.
There's some fillers in between, but in return we find some truly outstanding tracks on this CD. One thing that elevate these melodic tunes are the really well arranged harmony vocals all over the songs.
If you like the aforementioned bands (who doesn't?) cited as an influence, grab "Blood, Sweat And A Little More" pronto.
01 - Hellfire
02 - Feels Like Heaven
03 - Change Your Mind
04 - Where Are the Angels
05 - All I Ever Want
06 - Tell Me Why
07 - Lay Down Your Fear
08 - Sex Bomb Love Machine
09 - Waiting for Your Love
10 - Love Is a Stranger
11 - Now You're Gone
12 - Rock With Me Tonite
Holger Blickle - Vocals
Stefan Kreutz - Guitars, Vocals
Frank Hafner - Bass, Vocals
Markus Schübel - Drums, Vocals
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Friday, December 27, 2013
With new year 2014 arriving soon many melodic rock acts are preparing the release of new material, while others anxiously look forward for their debuts to be finally released.
We have here an interesting bunch of advanced tracks / singles from some of them that will see the light of day soon. Some are already established acts, some are really promising new artists dreaming with recognition.
All these tracks are not part of any album yet, all are singles mostly available at the usual music retailers.
SUNSTRIKE is an amazing new Swedish act preparing their debut while searching for a recording label. Their style is pure keyboard driven classic Swedish AOR / Melodic Rock, fronted by the excellent vocals of singer Christian Hedgren. A band already presented on the previous advances volume, we have another cut here; "Rock Your World", a rocker that will take you back to the glory days of Treat, Skagarak and alikes.
Julian Angel's BEAUTIFUL BEAST continues with his 1989 hard rock style in his soon to be released Kick Down The Barricades new album. "Bad Boys Never Dance" is the first single, and indeed, it's like a '89 American MHR hit.
Guitarist RICH ANTONELLI was part of hard rockers $kyhigh, the band which released their debut through Perris Records. Now Rich is recording with LaValle, and also preparing a solo album with his own band. "Bloodmare" is a single - also used for the soundtrack of a B-movie - showing his skills on the 6-strings and the powerful vocals of singer Chris Scarpetti.
Swedish rockers STONELAKE have a new single and a new line-up. The song, "Deliverance", produced, mixed and mastered by Jan Åkesson, shows the band less prog / hard hitting and more melodic hard oriented. I really like what I hear from this 'new' StoneLake.
Fronted by Marc Curran, CURRAN is new band to me, working on their debut album. "My Love Won't Let You Down" is a clean, honest, groovy Rock N Roll tune.
COLORSTONE from Malmö, Sweden, is another rocking band featured here with their debut CD. A new one is on the way, and two singles out. The second is "Gotto Groove".
The new promising Spanish band NOWEVER was featured in the previous advance volume as well, we can taste here not one but two more songs; "Down & Out" and "Hey Bro!" with a strong '80s Bon Jovi style & sound.
Finnish singer PJ RAUTIAINEN was presented on this blog years ago with his high quality hookladen Westcoast / lite AOR debut. He teamed up with Tomi Malm for the next release, and one track, "Falling Over You" surfaced in its demo version for a taste.
"Heaven's Gone" is the first official single by JULY from their upcoming debut album Raining Sun. Interesting new Swedish band blending classic rock with traditional hard.
Brazilian AOR band SUPERSTITIOUS is giving the final touches to their CD 'Ride on the Stars'. "The End Of The Age" is the first cut with lots of keyboards and fresh guitar riffs.
Swedish shock hard rockers FATAL SMILE have digitally released a new single, "Like A Rockstar". The song is taken from the band's upcoming fifth album 'White Trash Heroes', due in April 2014. Rocks good.
The classic hard rock group FILTHY LYING BASTARDS is another of Phil Naro's projects. "Mama I'm Coming Home For Christmas" is the just released single for this holidays.
ARCHON is a Swedish melodic metal / hard act formed by renowned musicians from the Scandinavian underground scene. "Black Sun" is the elaborated anthemic rocker from the first sessions of the band, with the debut CD yet to be confirmed.
For the end, we have legendary melodic rockers SHOOTING STAR who have re-recorded their song "Christmas Together" for this season, a really melodious tune with a nice rhythm.
01 - SunStrike - Rock Your World
02 - Julian Angel's Beautiful Beast - Bad Boys Never Dance
03 - Rich Antonelli - Bloodmare
04 - StoneLake - Deliverance
05 - Curran - My Love Won't Let You Down
06 - Colostone - Gotto Groove
07 - Nowever - Down & Out
08 - PJ Rautiainen & Tomi Malm - Falling Over You (demo version)
09 - July - Heaven’s Gone
10 - Superstitious - The End Of The Age
11 - Fatal Smile - Like A Rockstar
12 - Filthy Lying Bastards (Phil Naro) - Mama I'm Coming Home For Christmas
13 - Archon - Black Sun
14 - Nowever - Hey Bro!
15 - Shooting Star - Christmas Together 2013
only at 0dayrox
"Good Morning America" by CHARLIE has been reissued by Rock Candy, and this is the first proper remaster made on this, one of the most underrated AOR albums from the early '80s.
Charlie were actually key components of the second half of the seventies in the British melodic rock scene, trying to gain a foot hold at the height of punk rock during those years. The band released five albums that went quite unnoticed in UK, however, in the USA things were decidedly different as their precise style of AOR gained them significant traction on FM radio, which resulted in the band working almost exclusively for that market.
And this is clearly evident on Charlie's sixth album "Good Morning America", where the guys firmly decided to go for an American sound. By the time the eighties had come around, RCA Records proposed to the band leader Terry Thomas a rethink on their musical approach, and three of the original members left Charlie.
Talented singer / guitarist John Verity was brought aboard, and a completely new set of tunes was written for "Good Morning America", musically much more US AOR oriented than the previous material.
Direct and catchy melodies ready for FM radio were the motto here still retaining that characteristic 'English touch', the humorous lyrics and the absolutely huge multi-part vocal harmonies that were a trademark of Charlie's style.
With songs like "Heading For Home”, "I Can Not Get Over You", "Roll The Dice" and anthemic title track "Good Morning America" plenty of swirling keyboards, they delivered one of the greatest yet, at the time overlooked, albums of their career and certainly a milestone in the AOR pantheon.
The pristine melody of "Just One More Chance", the sharp, pulsating guitar work on "Saturday Night" and the classy "All My Life" are crowned by near choir-like vocal harmonies through the choruses that confirms why I think this AOR period was the most organic.
"Good Morning America" is clearly one of the best records of this era for the genre, listed on Kerrang Magazine among the 'top AOR albums of the early eighties'.
Brilliantly produced by band leader Terry Thomas (who would go on to craft a hugely successful career in this field later) with John Verity by his side, they crafted an album intended to scale the heights of the US charts and push Charlie into the musical super league alongside Toto, Styx or the raising Journey. Sadly, due to record company shenanigans, it was a moderate commercial success.
Indeed, "Good Morning America" is a must have in your collection if you like bands like Prism, Spys, City Boy, 707, etc.
In short, highly melodic quality rock music.
01 - Good Morning America
02 - I Can't Get Over You
03 - Roll The Dice
04 - Heading For Home
05 - Saturday Night
06 - My Perfect Lover
07 - All My Life
08 - Fool For Your Love
09 - I'm Angry With You
10 - Just One More Chance
11 - The Girl Won't Dance With Me
Terry Thomas - vocals, guitars
John Verity - vocals, guitars
John Anderson - bass, vocals
Steve Gadd, Bob Henrit - drums
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Two years ago we presented on this blog US rockers NO LOVE LOST fronted by singer Scott Board and their indie self-titled debut, indicating the band would be signed by a label soon. Well, that's exactly what happened, and Kivel Records just added No Love Lost to their roster, freshly re-recording the material and releasing the group's CD worldwide.
Hailing from Winston Salem, North Carolina, No Love Lost was formed in 2006 by veteran musicians from the east coast circuit. Vocalist Scott Board began his career with Cerebus, a North Carolina metal group that garnered national attention with their album 'Too Late To Pray'. In the early '90s, Board, along with No Love Lost bandmates Jason Staton and Brian Azbelle were members of Dimage recording a self-managed album as well.
So these guys have a broad musical background and all are experienced cats.
No Love Lost plays US Melodic Hard Rock, although not sounding as your typical band of the genre. Yes, the big guitars, melodies and choruses are there, but they add to the music extra ingredients. The rhythm section has a dry, compressed sound, adding some synth bass which makes it different from the rest.
They arrange the terrific vocal harmonies in an original way, and Scott Board lead vocals escapes from the usual cliché.
Musically, every song on this CD reflects a wide range of '80s and '90s influences, ranging from melodic lines inspired by Shooting Star or the underrated wonders Sugarcreek, with some pomp rock in the mould of Kansas in the middle, to more hard rockin' riffs and stronger beats.
But as said, No Love Lost has their own style and sound. And quite original for sure.
Opener "Another Bad Goodbye" is driven by a sharp riff and a chorus crowned by very good vocal harmonies that reminds me C.I.T.A. / Guild Of Ages, followed by the semi-midtempo "Sign Of The Times" featuring a quirky guitar work and an accomplished vocal performance by Board.
"Little Things" is a nineties melodic rocker full of melody and one of my favorites. Connoisseurs surely will remember the great band Stun Leer from that era. Well, this track recalls their style, with a simply irresistible pre-chorus and 'that' drums. A winner.
The luxury "Catch Me Carrie" is bouncy and ever changing, where Shooting Star's influence comes to mind, followed by another personal highlight, the great "Miles Apart", perhaps is the most traditional track on the album in styling, with an earlier eighties Kansas melodious vibe and even some pomp, all with a modern production.
"Friend Of Pain" it's more moody, with a Winger's 'Pull' infatuation all over. Love it. "Back On The Streets" has a superb feel in the Sugarcreek vein adorned with keys all over, and where the lead vocals and the chorus strangely has echoes of Geoff Tate circa Queensryche's Rage for Order. But the song structure is melodic-hard, with a pumping bass line and fine drumming.
They go to the nineties with ''Lie In Ecstasy", an atmospheric hard rocker with a steady pace and nice keyboard orchestrations in the background, while on the slow (not a ballad), highly melodic "Grounded" the band adds some acoustics and layers of harmony vocals. Very, very well composed track.
"Break" pick up the tempo again, followed by "Skin And Bone" riding over a classic riff. This song, structurally and sonically seems taken out of George Lynch's stupendous album Sacred Groove. Of course the guitars shine here, also the excellent drum fills and the soaring vocals.
"Closer To Home" is somehow a ballad, but it's much more than that. The band blends a classic sweet melody with a progressive arrangement resulting in an original and innovative composition.
No Love Lost ends in great form with the catchy "Desiree" (surely the most over-used girl’s name in AOR circles), plenty of keys, guitar riffs (plus a stylized six-string solo) and vocal fills referring directly to Winger's early golden days. Another favorite on this really good CD.
No Love Lost are rare beast in the present Melodic Hard Rock scene, and a great one.
Very well played, produced and particularly, arranged, these guys have delivered an original, splendid record for fans of the genre eager for something different.
As Bill Leverty from Firehouse said about No Love Lost: “WOW, what a great CD !! - Well done guys”.
01. Another Bad Goodbye
02. Sign of the Times
03. Little Things
04. Catch Me Carrie
05. Miles Apart
06. Friend of Pain
07. Back On the Streets
08. Lie in Ecstasy
11. Skin and Bone
12. Closer to Home
Scott Board - Lead Vocals
Brian Azbelle - Drums, Vocals
Jason Staton - Lead Guitar
Dan Fournier - Guitar, Vocals
Scott Davis - Bass, Vocals
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Monday, December 23, 2013
With this 2013 reaching its end, seems to be a gradually wane of new releases from the Melodic Hard Rock field until the next year, but a surprise arrives from Finland with STRIKE and their album "We're Back".
Despite the title supposedly indicating a return, it refers to the band's comeback, as Strike are not newbies on the block but this is their first album.
Strike was founded in 1985 by singer Pasi Rantanen and drummer Mika Brushane in Herttoniemi, Finland. The band members were only 15-16 years old, but the attitude and the songs were much more mature. In the very late eighties Strike recorded some material yet never officially released and the group broke up in 1991.
Twenty years later, the band reforms with the original line-up - minus the bass player, firmly decided to return into the scene.
Pasi Rantanen is well known as the lead vocalist of Finnish power-metallers Thunderstone, but in-between the man has been involved into several projects. And yes, he loves classic '80s Scandi Melodic Hard Rock too, and knows for sure how to write and sing a tune in this style.
And what do Strike bring to us with their debut? Nine tracks of moving melodic rock with strong doses of keyboard-driven AOR flurries and catchy choruses.
The CD opens with "Joanna", a wonderful AOR rocker plenty of keys, sharp guitars and a layered chorus in the best Treat, Fate and Dalton tradition. The song not only was penned in 1989, but also recorded around the time as part of the never released tracks of the first Strike. This song alone worth the purchase of this disc.
But wait, there's more, as follower "Only Heaven Knows" is even better, a 'big sounding' Scandi classic melodic rocker to die for.
"Day Of Reckoning" turns more harder with a muscular guitar work and sparse rhythm section. A solid track recalling modern day Treat and in Pasi Rantanen's way of sing, a heavier Blue Murder. There's keyboards still present, adorning the background.
Next the midtempo "Hear Me Out" is an effective, steady melodic hard rock track inspired by the new wave of the Swedish stylings of the genre, featuring a tight instrumentation.
And then, named as the band, "Strike" takes us back straight to the glory AOR days again. A marching song rich in keys which explodes on the chorus and has that kind of 'hook' I will love until the end of my days. Awesome tune!
"We're Back" is the ballad, and a great one including acoustic guitars, pianos and emotive lead vocals. Very good.
"Angel (Of My Heart)" is other of the tracks previously recorded back in 1989, so expect another fine slice of pure Scandinavian melodies in the vein of Fate.
A trademark pumping bass AOR line fuels "Runaway", completed with clean electric guitars during the uplifting verses, and everything turns more melodic on the golden chorus.
STRIKE and "We're Back" are a more than a joyful way to end this great Melodic Hard Rock / AOR year. These guys are absolutely planted in the sound, style and production from the late '80s in Scandinavia, and I love this.
They have managed to bring back the magic of an era, and also put it on tape as it used to be.
Do yourself a favour and don't miss Strike, a hidden Finnish little gem that I hope stay together for many more albums to come.
01 - Joanna
02 - Only Heaven Knows
03 - Day of Reckoning
04 - Hear Me Out
05 - Strike
06 - We're Back
07 - Angel
08 - Runaway
09 - Nobody Lives Forever
Pasi Rantanen - Lead Vocals & Guitars
Tommi Lindfors - Guitar & Backing Vocals
Kalle Annala - Keyboards & Backing Vocals
Petri Rantanen - Bass
Mika Brushane - Drums & Backing Vocals
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Saturday, December 21, 2013
With the new year arriving soon many rock acts are preparing the release of new material, while others anxiously look forward for their debuts to be finally released.
We have here an interesting bunch of advanced tracks / singles from some of them that will see the light of day soon. Some are already established acts, some are really promising new artists dreaming with recognition.
All these tracks are not part of any album yet, all are singles mostly available at the usual music retailers.
Veteran (and cult) hard rockers GUARDIAN are back with the first new music in over a decade, presenting the single 'The Real Me' written by Jamie Rowe, Jamey Perrenot and David Bach. The cut is the advance from the upcoming 'Almost Home album', and rocks greatly.
UK AORsters DAYLIGHT ROBBERY pleased us two year ago with their lovable '80s sounding debut. The guys got ready the new album 'Seconds Out', and "Samarah Never Sleeps" is the first single with lots of keyboards and an anthemic chorus. I love this band.
SUNSTRIKE is an amazing new Swedish act preparing their debut while searching for a recording label. Their style is pure keyboard driven classic Swedish AOR / Melodic Rock, fronted by the excellent vocals of singer Christian Hedgren. "Power Of The Dreams" will take you back to the glory days of Treat, Skagarak and alikes.
For me, Paul Laine was the best Danger Danger singer, and one of greatest Melodic Rock voices ever. He has formed a new band called DARK HORSE with the debut album "Let It Ride" slated for release in early 2014. Mixed by Bruno Ravel (Danger Danger bassist), "In The Country" is a wonderful 'coming of age' rocker showcasing the magical vocal timbre of Laine, who sounds intact after all these years. Can't wait for the full CD.
"End Of The Night" is the first single by Swedish singer / songwriter ANDERS NORMAN, a cool rocker with some American influences on it.
Media phenomenon DIRTY LOOPS cracked the broadcast channel YouTube with millions of hits without any song officially released. The band has already attracted the attention of such industry giants like Desmond Child, David Foster (who pick up them for his last tour) and Andreas Carlsson, who recently signed them as songwriter's and artists to his newly formed management company. "Hit Me" is the first single from the trio's debut album, a disc that will be a must for any WestCoast AOR / rockin' soul / classic rock fan.
US melodic rockers WALTHAM were already presented on this blog. Their new full album will be out in 2014, meanwhile the guys are releasing digitally the songs one by one. "Stand And Fight" is the fresh one.
COLORSTONE from Malmö, Sweden, is another rocking band featured here with their debut CD. A now one is on the way, and two singles out, the first is "Never Too Late".
German / Swedish metallers PRIMAL FEAR don't need introduction. 'Delivering The Black' is the new record due for January on Frontiers Records, and the centerpiece of the album and first single is called "When Death Comes Knocking", much more melodic than the previous material from this combo, a song which sets the pace for the outstanding quality of production and songwriting displayed on the full album.
ROYAL BLISS have been pumping out solid rock 'n roll for more than 15 years, and they're a band you'll want to keep an eye on for 2014. They're getting a jump on the year premiering the first single "Cry Sister", from the album to be released by a Kickstarter campaign.
The always melodic MITCH MALLOY is working on a new CD, "When I Was Your Man" is a very nice ballad taken from it.
NOWEVER is new promising Spanish band with a strong '80s Bon Jovi style & sound, they are looking for labels and presenting some cuts, one of them entitled "Let the Good Times Roll". I like these guys' stuff a lot.
RASPBERRY PARK is a new Danish classic rock band including veterans from the Scandianvian scene. Debut album coming soon, meanwhile enjoy "On The Battlefield", very good track.
I AM I, the new band led by former Dragonforce singer ZP Theart, is releasing the brand new single "See You Again" from the next album. The previous - presented here on this blog, was a solid piece of melodic metal with British flavours, but most the time wrapped with the typical Hard Rock bombastic sounds from the eighties. This single is a very melodic mid-tempo ballad.
Canadian PHIL NARO (D Drive, Doctor Rock and the Wild Bunch) is involved in various projects, but also working on a new solo record. "Somewhere Out There" is the very good advance displaying his terrific pipes
The year 2013 has been an eventful one for MIKE TRAMP, the former White Lion frontman. Since the release of the praised semi-acoustic solo album 'Cobblestone Street' in April, Mike has been touring constantly in all of Europe, Australia and in the States. To close out 2013, Tramp has just released the Christmas single "The Way It Was Before", which is lot more serious than most other Christmas songs. He explains: "This is actually a song that I have kept for many years. The song would never have been written if it haven't been for the events in New York City September 11th 2001, although it doesn't mention what happened that day."
I was expecting a stripped acoustic ballad, but it's a wonderful full band midtempo melodic tune recalling his old White Lion days. Love it.
01 - Guardian - The Real Me
02 - Daylight Robbery - Samarah Never Sleeps
03 - SunStrike - Power Of The Dreams
04 - Dark Horse (Paul Laine) - In The Country
05 - Anders Norman - End Of The Night
06 - Dirty Loops - Hit Me
07 - Waltham - Stand And Fight
08 - Colostone - Never Too Late
09 - Primal Fear - When Death Comes Knocking
10 - Royal Bliss - Cry Sister
11 - Mitch Malloy - When I Was Your Man
12 - Mike Tramp - The Way It Was Before
13 - Nowever - Let the Good Times Roll
14 - Raspberry Park - On The Battlefield
15 - I AM I - See You Again
16 - Phil Naro - Somewhere Out There
only at 0dayrox
Friday, December 20, 2013
Released by the specialized label in tribute albums Versailles Records, "Down At The Whiskey: A Millennium Tribute To Motley Crue's Greatest Hits 1981-2013" collects 29 Motley Crue cover songs over the span of two discs featuring an all-star roster, but also several unknown bands, some from different corners of the planet.
The double CD has a boatload of Motley Crue's best since 1981, from "Live Wire" thru "Saints of Los Angeles". Some tracks were recorded by a stable back up band, while the foreign bands submitted the tapes already finished.
On the 'well known' names I really enjoyed "Piece of Your Action" sung by Derrick LeFevre (Lillian Axe), the sick and groovy "Power To The Music" by Blues Saraceno (ex- Poison guitarist) & Chris Catena, or the hot take on one of my favorite Crue songs; "Dr. Feelgood", done in a faithful version by heavy hitter Frankie Banali (ex- Quiet Riot) on the skins, axemen Keri Kelli (Alice Cooper) & Eric Turner (Warrant), and Phil Lewis (LA Guns) on vox.
Also there's great cover of "Kickstart My Heart" done in a Crue style by Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys) and Richard Kendrick, while John Corabi (ex- Crue), Alex Grossi (Alice Cooper) and Fred Coury (Cinderella) offer a quite different yet excellent "Home Sweet Home".
Some of the 'unknown' bands have done a nice job, like Leaving Eden ("Live Wire"), Wicked Sins on a tongue in cheek "Girls, Girls, Girls", Newy Yorkers Damn Glad ("Wild Side"), Charlie Bonnet III delivering a country version of "Dancing on Glass", and specially Ross Stevens of Straitjacket Smile on "Too Young To Fall In Love".
However, some of the other bands sound like a poor man's demos. If you are going to pay tribute to your heroes, by all means spend some time and effort in creating something special that will make your hero proud...
Anyway, "Down At The Whiskey: A Millennium Tribute To Motley Crue's Greatest Hits 1981-2013" offers cool songs / versions with the high & lows typical of this kind of tribute compilations.
There's a varied array of Motley Crue classics and also a few newer tracks, some of them really doing justice to the originals.
01 - Derrick LeFevre (Lillian Axe) - Piece of Your Action
02 - Edge of Paradise - Saints of Los Angeles
03 - Richard Kendrick - Public Enemy # 1
04 - Shout At The Devil - Helter Skelter
05 - Mystic-Force - Shout At the Devil
06 - Phil Lewis,E. Turner,F. Banali,Keri Kelli - Dr. Feelgood
07 - Monkey Soop - On With the Show
08 - Sister Whiskey - Home Sweet Home I
09 - Blues Saraceno & Chris Catena - Power To The Music
10 - Loaded Gun - Knock Em Dead Kid
11 - Savage Amusement - You're All I Need
12 - Wicked Sins - Girls, Girls, Girls
13 - Eden Burning - Starry Eyes
14 - Willow Wisp - Use it or Lose It
15 - Jason McMaster, Richard Kendrick - Kickstart My Heart I
01 - Leaving Eden - Live Wire
02 - Charlie Bonnet III - Dancing on Glass
03 - Modern Echo - If I Die Tomorrow
04 - Chris Heaven, Tracy G & the Edge Of Time - Hooligan's Holiday
05 - Fierce Atmospheres - Straight to the Top
06 - American Heartbreak - Primal Scream
07 - Dead Man's Wake - Kickstart My Heart II
08 - Arctic Flame - Red Hot
09 - Ross Stevens of Straitjacket Smile - Too Young To Fall In Love
10 - Damn Glad - Wild Side
11 - Last Pharaon - Without You
12 - Crawl 2 Chaos - Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
13 - Alex Grossi, Fred Coury, John Corabi - Home Sweet Home II
14 - Meeks - Save Our Souls
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Thursday, December 19, 2013
Hailing from St. Petersburg, Russia, and formed only three years ago, REDS'COOL have just released their second album "Bad Story", made gigs with Glenn Huges, Royal Hunt and Gotthard to name some, played at various festivals and currently are touring Europe supporting Black Star Riders.
Not bad eh? They must have 'something'.
And indeed, Reds'Cool are great in what they do; classic hard rock with various melodic rock & AOR elements. Certainly, these guys love the '80s and they pay their respects to it through their music since they’re influenced by acts like Whitesnake, Tangier, House of Lords, Burning Rain, Firehouse and so on. But of course, they have added several contemporary passages to the songs and their sound is very fresh and crispy.
What helps make Reds'Cool stand out amongst the current glut of classic rock inspired acts is the extremely talented musicians in the band who have crafted some intriguing and captivating musical moments on this record.
This quintet tries to breathe some fresh air on the style and they got some pretty good results with fine vocal hooks, guitars too catchy in riffs and solos with good harmonies, bass and drums weighting a lot with strong assembling, spicing the whole thing with well placed keyboards. Oh yes, and have catchy choruses on all songs.
Just listen the amazing and old-fashioned rocking opening tune of "Bite", the kickin' hard rock of "Hey You", or the roof-raise title track and "Fooling Myself", all energetic arena-ready numbers.
Songs like the solid ballad "Confession" with a cracking chorus which really grabs your attention, the midtempo "Love And Pain" - bringing to mind something in the same vein of Whitesnake '87, or the accenting keyboards and clean melodic vocal lines of "You Must Go" and "Feel You" have airy sway of traditional AOR, with the latter song pumping energetic blusters within the steady groove.
Sometimes, there are bands that really can astonish us all even doing nothing new, but delivering their music with that 'special touch'. Reds'Cool are one of them.
First of all, don't let the band’s country of origin hold you back, these guys sound far better than many US or EU acts and their songs and musicianship are first rate.
Additionally, "Bad Story" is benefited by the awesome production, mix and mastering by the notable Michael Wagener (Dokken, Motley Crue, Great White, Alice Cooper, et all), who, when gets the necessary budget, can do magic behind the desk.
Somebody is investing big bucks on this band, and I can hear why. Reds'Cool is great, and if well managed, they are destined to stardom.
If polished, crisp, catchy classic hard rock / melodic rock / rockin' AOR is your thing, don't miss Reds'Cool's "Bad Story", it's a fantastic slice of quality music regarding these genres.
01 - Bite
02 - Hey You
03 - Confession
04 - Love & Pain
05 - Feel You
06 - Upside Down
07 - You Must Go
08 - Fooling Myself
09 - Bad Story
Roman – Vocals
Ilija – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Sergei – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Alex – Bass, Backing Vocals
Andre – Drums
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013
SKEEM is a marvellous combo arriving from France. Commanded by singer, guitarist and keyboard player Serge Barbaro, in 2001 Skeem presented itself via a self-titled debut with limited distribution.
And now, 12 years later, there's suddenly a new album entitled "... Just Suggesting", and it's a double, no less.
Skeem is pure Neo Prog in the best definition of the genre, that is: easy melodies, very melodic, plenty of keyboards and not afraid to catchiness.
"... Just Suggesting" is full of instantly likeable melodic lines, ear-candy songs, benefited by very a transparent and open production.
All the lyrics are in English, sung by Barbaro with a warm approach and more importantly in an understandable fashion. The guitar work is first rate, delicate at places, mixed with well thought synthesizers and a competent steady drum beat.
Skeem's brand of neo progressive rock has a definite European Prog sound similar to late '80s Marillion and Jadis in style, with leanings towards Melodic Hard Rock / AOR at times, akin Saga, Asia, with commercial Rush waves.
Despite its length - you have two discs here and more than one and half hour of music - "... Just Suggesting" flows wonderfully. In fact, I can't stop listening this fabulous release.
I won't spread any further comments about this gorgeous little gem.
If your like your light, neo prog spiced with AORish melodies, or the other way around, your AOR / Melodic Rock with more elaborated substance and diversity, you can't miss "... Just Suggesting".
Super Highly Recommended.
Disc 1 :
1. The Grand Scheme
2. All We Are
3. Gone Away Muse
4. Half a Life
5. Last Days
6. Drowned Dreams
7. The Journey Within
8. The Perfect Truth
Disc 2 :
1. The Hidden Path
2. Book of Shadows
4. The End Complete
5. Naked Lies
6. The Power of Angels
7. The Grand Scheme Resumption
Serge Barbaro: Lead & Backing Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Jonathan Lattore: Bass
Joe Massot: Drums
Berny Barbaro: Keyboards & Arrangements
Pierre Teodori: Acoustic Guitars, Violin, Fretless Bass
Jessica Passarin, Oreema, John Cobalt: Backing vocals
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This year has seen the rise of very good bands from Switzerland, and we need to add to the lot BLACK DIAMONDS with their great debut CD "Perfect Sin".
It's a recording that's hard wired into Europe’s modern Melodic Hard Rock zeitgeist with a touch of glam, plushly fitted out with compact choruses, memorably melodic hooks and a driving, urgent tempo to many of the songs.
At times Black Diamonds' hair sprayed melodic rock will remind you of Reckless Love and the criminally underrated Dynazty, while at others of the guitar-driven yet polished hard rock from late eighties California.
There's an astonishing powerful Pretty Maids-inspired opener in "Judgement Day", a catchy radio friendly tune on "I'll Be OK"- which I think the best track here, the euphoric "'We Want To Party" that's suitable to be your Friday night soundtrack, or the spectacular party-vibe hard rock piece of "Somebody Put Something In My Drink".
Title track is a stadium-ready anthem very melodic and bouncy, then the dynamic "Read My Lips" and "Hands Of Destiny" offers some riffage taken from the Sunset Strip.
On the slower musical side I really enjoyed the solid midtempo "Take My Life" with a strong Cinderella smell, the lighters in the air "Hold On" and the acoustically filled closer "A Thousand Roses".
What's often most interesting on Black Diamonds' recipe are the arrangements, where the band frequently use a tried and tested trick – when the tempo of the song drops, the lead guitar picks up the pace, spluttering tunefully all over the chorus like a Chinese firework, or simply going solo, lighting up the darkness with measured bolts of axework lightning.
Despite the 'sound likes' comments here, the Black Diamonds genuinely seem ready to shake off any obvious comparisons. Musicianship level is very good, I admire the precise guitar riffs and Mich also has a very unique vocal timbre.
Another high point on "Perfect Sin" is the flawless production value for an indie. Everything sounds clear and crisp.
But also the superb, determinant mix by Swedish maestro Tobias Lindell (Europe, Crashdiet, Hardcore Superstar) who has added a studio sheen of sophistication to the band's high calibre production and musicianship, and in places, some high quality songwriting.
Black Diamonds is a band to watch in near future, they are really, really good.
01 - The Court
02 - Judgement Day
03 - Shot Of Love
04 - I'll Be Ok
05 - Take My Life
06 - Hell Boys
07 - Perfect Sin
08 - Hold On
09 - Read My Lips
10 - We Want To Party
11 - Hands Of Destiny
12 - Evil Seeds
13 - Up All Night
14 - Somebody Put Something In My Drink
15 - A Thousand Roses
Mich - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Andi - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Bernie - Bass, Backing Vocals
Manu - Drums, Backing Vocals
BUY IT !
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Determined to win or die with the boots on, US rockers LYNAM are releasing the new EP "Halfway To Hell".
Lynam is a strange band; not only hails from an unusual State for rock 'n roll (Alabama), they're also fighting in the independent modern rock chart for more than 15 years insisting on imposing their '80s glammy look and feel. Just check their apparel... you need to have a strong personality to wear that spandex stuff nowadays.
Musically, Lynam is a different beast as well talking about modern rock: their songs are embedded with a steady dose of late eighties elements. Their previous albums were not bad at all, yet not exactly my cup of tea.
My opinion has changed with "Halfway To Hell".
In 2001 singer and guitarist Jacob Bunton, following the demise of his previous band, Mars Electric, hooked up with drummer David Lynam, taking the sticksman's surname as the new Alabama outfit's moniker. Between 2002 and 2004 Lynam self-released three albums, but it was in '08 with 'Tragic City Symphony' that found the band on the receiving end of some pretty commendable press, sales and attention. However, they sounded too 'washed' modern rock to me.
Then frontman Jacob Bunton joined up with ex- Guns 'N Roses drummer Steven Adler to form the band ADLER, recording the very good CD 'Back From The Dead' (posted here)
But Bunton soon returned to Lynam, bringing the quite good guitarist Lonny Paul with him, and, with a raised profile, looks set to really rattle some cages with this brand new EP "Halfway To Hell".
With bassist Mark Dzier also returning (he left the band for few years), "Halfway To Hell" harnesses the sound of a band that finally appears to have settled into a heavier, sleazier groove that suits it well. Gone are the insipid modern radio oriented tunes of the previous albums, this Lynam 2013 rocks. And rocks very good.
Now, the unattractive sonics of the past are replaced by fat riffs and a badass rockin' attitude, and while the modern rock leanings are still present, those are more in Velvet Revolver-shaped agression to name a reference, but highly inspired by late eighties / earlier nineties choruses and patterns in the vein of Lynch Mob, BulletBoys, Bang Tango, etc.
The first 3 tracks clock around the 2:45 minute mark, giving you the idea that Lynam wants to rock you straight to the point.
Opener "Rise Up" rides in on a stadium-sized riff - from the days when stadiums echoed with the sounds of great rock bands, of course, not today's sanitised drivel. Gang backing vocals, a monster groove and a killer guitar solo are the motto here. Great rocker.
The EP's title track follows and, moulded around another memorable piece of guitar work and melody, is a perfect amalgam of those bands who tried to keep the cock rock boat afloat, and those bands that try to bring back the 'real' rock to modern radio.
"Dead Man's Parade" offers, possibly, a lyrical tip of the hat to those happier to get wasted than adored, fusing a cool hook to a darker, broodier aesthetic ala Sixx:A.M. but much more melodic, before "Cold" takes that blueprint even further, with a whiff of an eighties sound popping out of the darkness every now and then to shine.
"Store Bought Halo" is the bonafide ass-kicker on offer here only on 1:50 minutes; high octane guitar mixing with skyscraping vocals to devastating effect, the 'na-na-nah' backing vocals icing on the cake that you'll do well, upon listening, to not gorge yourself on until you're sick.
EP closer "Wrong Side Of The Grave" has a melodic Bunton doing some swagger on a song that rips it out with a massive riff and gorgeous hook, blasting drums and those modern-day Def Leppard backing vocals that the band appeared obsessed with on their last record finally making an appearance, this time only adding to rather than distracting from the listening experience.
Never heard of Lynam? Start with "Halfway To Hell". Wash the preconceptions right out of your head this month with the timely purchase of this EP.
Call it modern cock rock, call it updated '80s street hard rock, call it what you like, but if you dig a band trying to bring 'real rock' to mainstream modern rock listeners and wake up radio stations, this Lynam 2013 will impress the hell out of you.
1 - Rise Up
2 - Halfway To Hell
3 - Dead Man's Parade
4 - Cold
5 - Store Bought Halo
6 - Wrong Side Of The Grave
Jacob Bunton (lead vocals, guitar)
David Lynam (drums, vocals)
Cody Elliott (bass, vocals)
Lonny Paul (guitar, vocals)
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Monday, December 16, 2013
On this blog we have already presented British four-piece KILL FOR EDEN and their critically acclaimed self-titled debut album released in June. The band have decided to strike while the iron is hot presenting the new EP "Living On Mars" featuring one remixed song from the debut plus two new tunes.
The band's sound is based around lead singer Lyla D'Souza's powerful but tuneful vocals. She comes across as a little bit of a throwback to the '70s and '80s to me with a touch of soul in there, and is far from just being an out and out screamer.
This is obvious during the EP's title track where she fills in the gaps in the stop start guitar riffing with soulful wails before yelping angrily lines like "see how you like it", in a chorus aimed at the ex the song is about. The big guitar solo at the end lets the rest of the band shine too.
First of the new tunes, "The Dome", is a heavier more modern sounding affair alternating between quiet, reflective passages and frantic sections full of sharp riffs and screaming but it all hangs together pretty well with memorable vocal and guitar hooks along the way and another fine six-string solo. This song was based around Stephen King’s sci-fi thriller 'Under The Dome" and you can tell where the inspiration fell.
Final track "Shoot Me" is a groovier, more bass heavy song with Lyla's melancholy tale of heartache and sorrow on the verses leading to a big riff and a great, articulated chorus. After a few plays I found this song quite addictive and the best of the three on offer here.
If you heard and liked Kill For Eden's debut (HERE), you will be impressed as well with "Living On Mars" EP, showing a talented band with some old hard rock roots but never sounding outdated, plus a damn fine and unusual vocalist to boot.
It bodes well that the newer songs are even stronger, which means Kill For Eden are in permanent evolution. If you are into the likes of Halestorm or are an old rocker who yearns for the halcyon days of Joanna Dean and Chrissy Steele then this is a band that are definitely worth checking out.
1 - Living On Mars (new mix)
2 - The Dome
3 - Shoot Me
Lyla D'Souza - Vocals
Dave Garfield - Guitars
Andrea Basiola - Guitars
Mike McGuiness - Bass
Wally MMiroshnikov - Drums
thanks to Ian Sutherland
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NOW OR NEVER is a new international combo whose self titled debut album has just been released in Europe and Asia, and will be out on the streets in mid-January 2014 in North America via Mausoleum Records.
Now Or Never was founded last year by Danish guitarist Ricky Marx (ex-Pretty Maids) and Swiss drummer Fabian Ranzoni (ex-Sultan), joined by French vocalist Jo Amore (Nightmare) and Danish bass player Kenn Jackson (also a veteran ex-Pretty Maids member).
For me, a huge fan from the first hour, a band featuring Pretty Maids' ex-members who recorded some of their best material sounded very intriguing.
Ricky Marx appeared on the killer Pretty Maids’ 1990 'Jump the Gun / Lethal Heroes' album. Bassist Kenn Jackson played on every album from 1992’s 'Sin-Decade' through 2010’s 'Pandemonium', add to the mix Amore who arrives from a metal band, and I was expecting hard rock with an edge in storming fashion.
And the guys does not disappoint.
But Now Or Never goes even further; this album is truly one of the kind that succinctly fits the definition of 'the modern evolution of hard rock / metal' with absolutely filthy riffs punctuated with a very edgy performance by Jo Amore.
"Reach Out For The Sky" is a sensational opener, and the rollicking intro shows us exactly what we are to expect in the next fifty-plus minutes. Ricky Marx’s guitar riffs are thick, razor sharp but extremely clean and polished, Fabian Ranzoni thrashes the drums as if his life depends on it, whilst Kenn Jackson’s bass puts the finishing touches to a very talented group of musicians.
This is all brought upon the listener before we finally get to hear Jo Amore and his powerful vocals. One moment snarling, the other singing in high pitched melody, the man's delivery is like a dangerous switchblade.
From track 01 I should remark the production on this record, handled by Patrick Liotard. Pat is an extraordinarily talented French musician who once fronted the terrific AOR band Sedona (Golden Valley CD) and lately become producer of hard / metal bands.
Liotard, without a doubt, is the key factor of Now Or Never's original, modern hard rock metal attack. He not only has obtained here a refreshing sound for the band (and the genre), but also contributes with some really good tweaks and interesting sound effects.
Next, title track "Now Or Never" is pumped by a profound bass work and electronic sampling, and again the drums are a dominating force.
"Wind Of Freedom" is a brilliant modern metal song. The chorus is huge and melodic, and the drums and guitar riffs are more simplified, but maybe that is what makes this cut sound so good, and this is more likely to be the most accessible song for new listeners.
The blast continues with "Princess of Undiscovered Land" and "How Do You Feel?" which are built with the same quality standard of the aforementioned tracks, with a modernized sound ahead of its time. With a slight sci-fi feel, this material feels like what I would expect to hear played at a rock club in updated version of Bladerunner.
At the same time, the sum of all the members’ influences and past bands are preserved like cryogenics. "Something’s Missing" and the acoustically filled "An Angel By My Side" are heartfelt, powerful and melodic ballads, perfectly positioned on the latter half of the release, a 'wind down' if you will.
There are times where the '90s 'guitar choke' gets a bit much, like on "Hardened Steel", which starts off with an immaculate melody accented by some futuristic keyboard work, but it gets caught in the mud during the verses. However, the chorus resurrects the tune and kick ass. It’s an acquired taste, certainly not a new thing, especially when the entire band gets heavy right along with the guitar.
A better display of the technique is in "Who’s In The Mirror?" where the well placed pauses create a nice gap between the Pretty Maid-esque harsh rockin’ melody and the traditional metal influences.
"Now Or Never" is a great album, and a great new band called to be the evolution of Hard Rock into modern Metal Music.
Ricky Marx & Co. took the best of the Pretty Maids melodic foundation and added to the cocktail a bunch of bone-crushing filthy riffs, smashing drums and blade-like vocals, all wrapped by a fantastic production that always try to go ahead and be different to anything heard before.
And that's what makes "Now Or Never" a mandatory listening. It's heavier than I expected, but refreshing and provoking.
The musicianship is very becoming from the accumulation of talent from these veterans of the scene. Marx’s solos are a welcome treat, a dying art in these dark modern days of heaviness over style. Prior to hearing this album, I was unfamiliar with Ranzo's work, but he proves to be a brilliant drummer, and the drum sound is perfect on this album.
Now Or Never seems to be the apt name for a band that deserves to make a name quickly and decisively, with never a dull moment and a modern, original take on hard rock and metal – the listener will get a healthy dose of each.
01. Reach Out For The Sky
02. Now Or Never
03. Wind Of Freedom
05. Hardened Steel
06. Princess Of Undiscovered Land
07. An Angel By My Side
08. How Do You Feel?
09. Dying For You
10. Who's In The Mirror?
11. Something's Missing
12. Weirdo Lullaby
Ricky Marx (ex-Pretty Maids) - guitar, keyboards
Kenn Jackson (ex-Pretty Maids) - bass
Jo Amore (Nightmare) - vocals
Fabian Ranzoni (ex-Sultan) - drums
BUY IT !