Friday, January 31, 2014

FREE SPIRIT - Hysteria / Living Tatoo (2014)

FREE SPIRIT - Hysteria / Living Tatoo (2014) full singles


The Melodic Hard Rock sextet from Finland FREE SPIRIT have ready their second album 'All The Shades Of Darkened Light' to be released world wide next February 28th.
"Hysteria" (an original composition, not a Def Leppard cover) and "Living Tatoo" are the just presented advanced singles from this new recording that promise to be even better than their melodious first effort.

Indeed, their debut from 2009 Pale Sister Of Light gained them a high praise as 'the new Brother Firetribe', a majestic and soaring collection of songs in the best Scandinavian melodic tradition.
But if these songs were great, wait to listen "Hysteria" and "Living Tatoo". Free Spirit now sounds even more anthemic, infectious and biggerrr!

Vocalist Sami Alho sings up a storm on these new songs, and given the attention to the vocals overall, the choruses are to die for, while the dual guitar work of Vesa Yli-Mäenpää and Marko Haapamäki is simply awesome.
"Hysteria" is receiving a lot of airplay in Scandinavia, and it's featured at the end titles of the Finnish movie 'Anselmi, Nuori Ihmissusi' (also included on the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack of the film).
Judging the quality of the advanced singles, the new Free Spirit album easily could be amongst the best Melodic Hard Rock releases of the year. Can't wait...
If you missed the already terrific debut, you have it here as well in its entirety.

01 - Hysteria
02 - Living Tatoo
03 - Shadow Of A Man
04 - Moonlight Ride
05 - Pale Sister Of Light
06 - Heroes Don't Cry
07 - Radiant Light
08 - Cry Of An Eagle
09 - Easy Days
10 - Strangers
11 - Until The Night
12 - Far Away From Heaven
13 - Preacher Man

Sami Alho - lead & backing vocals vocals
Vesa Yli-Mäenpää - guitars & backing vocals
Marko Haapamäki - guitars & backing vocals
Sami Hämäläinen - bass
Pasi Koivumäki - drums
Timo Alho - keyboards

FREE SPIRIT All The Shades Of Darkened Light (2014) promo



COLORSTONE - Steam (2014)

COLORSTONE - Steam (2014) full

* CD press, no cuts

Swedes from Malmö COLORSTONE will release their second album "Steam" tomorrow, February 1, 2014.
The band was already featured on this blog two years ago on occasion of their debut CD, and recently two singles from the new record on our 0DAYROX Advanced Releases 2014 VOL.1 & 2.
The musicians involved in Colorstone are veterans from the international melodic rock scene having recorded on over 50 albums with various artists and covering many genres, like guitarist Fredrik Bergengren which was one of the founder members of AOR act Time Gallery releasing two very good albums during the nineties.
So if you are new to Colorstone, expect high quality musicianship here.

As their debut record, "Steam" is inspired in the Classic Melodic Hard Rock style of the '80s / '90s, wrapped by a modern melodious sound and updated production.
Bergengren clearly is the musical director, as these 10 tracks are mostly groovy guitar driven tunes with a strong and bouncy rhythm section. Johan Dahlström's vocals are clear and intense, sometimes rough, sometimes melodic, with a wide range reaching high notes when needed.
As you can see in the line-up, all the guys contribute backing vocals creating a sustained layer of harmonies making the choruses prominent and thick.

Colorstone not only has a new bass player in Samir Dounas, they now gone from a quartet to a quintet with the addition of Tommy Falk on keyboards, achieving as band a more compact and diverse output.
The album open with the first two already presented singles "Never Too Late" and "Gotto Groove", the first one of the most modern sounding tracks on the CD, the other, as the title says, plenty of groovy riffs recalling Nuno Bettencourt's Extreme.

They turn things to midtempo with the melodic "Like A Whisper" featuring nicely arranged vocal harmonies,
"Breakdown" pick up the pace in nineties hard rock style, while "September Rain" goes for an Americanized sound including keyboards in the background.
There's catchy main melodies on the modern Scandi melodic rockers "Fighting For A Cause" and one of my favorites; "Best Of Me", bringing to mind Swedes Bad Habit.
"Stone Temple" is the ballad, only acoustic guitars and lots of harmony vocals for an uplifting tune, whilst "When I'm Gone" and "Don't Just Dream About It" completes the record returning to groovy hard rock, the latter much more melodic rock oriented thanks to the dreamy chorus and keyboard fills.

"Steam" is a another solid album from Colorstone, a band of skilled music player and songwriters.
You can hear stylings from the classic Scandi scene from twenty-five years ago but Bergengren and his bandmates are focused to provide an overall updated sound to their music. This is helped by the separated, modern production.

COLORSTONE - Steam (2014) inside

"Steam" will be presented tomorrow in a release party at a Swedish venue. At the moment the physical CD it's only available at the link provided below so you have to wait a couple of weeks to purchase it on regular stores.
Recommended stuff.

01 - Never Too Late
02 - Gotto Groove
03 - Like A Whisper
04 - Breakdown
05 - September Rain
06 - Fighting For A Cause
07 - Don't Just Dream About It
08 - Stone Temple
09 - Best Of Me
10 - When I'm Gone

Johan Dahlström (ex Silver Mountain) - Lead & Backing Vocals
Fredrik Bergengren (ex Time Gallery) - Guitars, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Olle Nilsson (ex Tricky Track) - Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Samir Dounas (ex Pierce) - Bass, Backing Vocals
Tommy Falk (Pete Sandberg Band) - Keyboards, Backing Vocals



Thursday, January 30, 2014

JOHN PARR - The Best / St. Elmo's Fire 2014

JOHN PARR - The Best A Man Can Get / St. Elmo's Fire 2014 full


This one is for '80 freaks: finally, after years of unceasing requests by fans, JOHN PARR has made available for the first time ever his song "The Best".
Also known as 'The Best A Man Can Get', the track was penned by Parr as soundtrack / single for a Gillette razor ad during the Eighties, but never before released or broadcasted in its entirety.
Written by Parr in collaboration with Jake Holmes (author of Zeppelin's Dazed & Confused), the song / commercial made a great impact worldwide, turning 'Gillette Atra' the best selling razor of its time.
If you like the typical AOR tune with an 'Eighties soundtrack feel' you must have this song, specially recommended for workout / bodybuilding!

John Parr has not been quiet lately. After his recent full length CD's The Mission and Letter To America, the man has re-recorded (again) his biggest hit "St. Elmo's Fire (Unplugged 2014)".
The song, used for the movie of the same name, was originally written by Canadian hit-maker David Foster in honor to Paralympian athlete Rick Hansen who in 1985 began a 26-month, 34-country wheelchair trek to raise money and awareness for spinal injuries.
He called it the 'Man In Motion Tour', and Parr along with Foster re-wrote the song with the lyrics reworked to be featured in the movie. That's why the track is subtitled "St. Elmo's Fire (Man In Motion)".

JOHN PARR - The Best A Man Can Get / St. Elmo's Fire 2014 Naughty, Naughty

But there's more: "Naughty, Naughty", the hit from Parr's debut album has been as well recently re-recorded by John.
AOR fanatics; you are advised.

01 - The Best (Gillette commercial) [3:42]
02 - St Elmo's Fire (Unplugged 2014) [5:27]
03 - Naughty, Naughty (Re-Recorded) [5:02]



ACE FREHLEY - Trouble Walkin' [Rock Candy remaster] (2013)

ACE FREHLEY - Trouble Walkin' [Rock Candy remaster] (2013) full


Rock Candy Records has reissued the long out of print third solo album by ACE FREHLEY, "Trouble Walkin´", in my opinion, his best.
Dubbed the Space Ace, he was the man with the rocket firing guitar, the coolest member of rock gods Kiss and a man who attracted a legion of fan followers of his own, for reasons both good and bad.
Ace's devilishly potent guitar playing lent Kiss a sense of purpose and ambition that elevated them from amusing comic book crusaders to seriously dangerous metal heroes.

Fired from Kiss in 1981 Frehley pursued a solo career, one that was eagerly anticipated by legions of fans keen to sample his razor sharp riffs and quirky songwriting in a brand new setting.
With two successful albums recorded under the banner of Frehley's Comet, Ace retired the band moniker in favour of a solo outing for album #3, the amusingly titled "Trouble Walkin". The recording reunited Frehley with veteran Kiss producer Eddie Kramer helping to craft a record of high grade hard rock with all the accoutrements that you might reasonably expect from such a maverick character.
There was a gaggle of musical special guests - among them ex- Kiss bandmember Peter Criss, and Skid Row's Sebastian Bach, Dave 'Snake' Sabo & Rachel Bolan. Also returning to the band was original Frehley's Comet rhythm guitarist Richie Scarlet, while on backing vocals we find AOR top singers such as Al Fritsch (Drive She Said) and Peppy Castro (Balance).

An inspired creative cover of Electric Light Orchestra's "Do Ya" was nearly a hit on MTV, while other highlights included the album opening "Shot Full Of Rock", the hard bluesy workout "Remember Me" and the instrumental "Fractured III".
There's fun and rocking compositions like "2 Young To Die", "Back To School", "Lost in Limbo" and the title track were we can hear Ace playing some catchy riffs and hot solos.

ACE FREHLEY - Trouble Walkin' [Rock Candy remaster] (2013) back cover

The set also features the Desmond Child / Paul Stanley penned "Hide Your Heart" recorded for Kiss' 1989 album Hot In The Shade. Both "Trouble Walkin´" and Hot In The Shade were released around the same time, creating some dissent between Frehley and his former masked band mates. If you ask me, Ace's version is better.

I really like the commercial approach of Ace Frehley previous albums with Frehley's Comet, but on "Trouble Walkin´", Ace sounds and feels 'unleashed' playing the best styles of rock he loves: hard rock and classic American metal with a bluesy foundation.
Backed by tight band and a shiny production, Ace unloads salvo upon salvo of lighting fast licks and twisted riffs proving that his talent was as explosive as ever.
The Rock Candy remaster gives more air and gain to these rocking songs, a very underrated record that deserves more attention. As said, in my opinion this album is the best work that Ace Frehley ever did.
Recommended piece of classic American Hard Rock.

01 - Shot Full Of Rock
02 - Do Ya
03 - Five Card Stud
04 - Hide Your Heart
05 - Lost In Limbo
06 - Trouble Walkin'
07 - 2 Young 2 Die
08 - Back To School
09 - Remember Me
10 - Fractured III

Ace Frehley (guitars, lead vocals)
John Regan (bass, synthesizer)
Richie Scarlet (guitars, lead vocals)
Anton Fig (drums and percussion; except on track 06)
Peter Criss (background vocals, percussion on track 01, 04, 06)
Sandy Slavin (percussion, drums on track 06)
Background Vocals:
Sebastian Bach, Dave Snake Sabo, Rachel Bolan (Skid Row)
Al Fritsch (Drive She Said)
Pat Sommers (Roger Daltrey Band)
Peppy Castro (Balance)

Produced by Eddie Kramer, Ace Frehley and John Regan



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

BIG TIME (Sweden) - Big Time (2014)

BIG TIME (Sweden) - Big Time (2014) full


BIG TIME is a new group from Sweden ready to impact into the Melodic Hard Rock community.
This four-piece is the latest and more promising band to emerge from the Swedish scene... this week? - well, more like this afternoon at the rate they're emerging...

With a passion for the genre and sonically inspired by the late '80s, singer Michael Palace, drummer Adrian Qvarfordt, bass player Marc Blomberg and aspiring guitar hero Rick Digorio already have gained reputation as a scorching hot live act which got the attention from the likes of Bobby Kimball (ex- Toto), Steve Augeri (ex- Journey) and Classic Rock AOR magazine.
Yes, Big Time was recently chosen as opening act for the 'Legends Of Rock' central Europe tour, the all-star combo featuring Kimball and Augeri, but also Robin Beck, Joe Lynn Turner, Bruce Kulick and more.

BIG TIME (Sweden) - Big Time (2014) photo with Kimball, Augeri

This 3-track pre-production demo is an advance from the debut album in the making, songs showcasing Big Time's love for '80s melodic hard rock via strong and wide lead vocals / choruses, sharp guitar work and keyboard swirls.
First track "Julia" is a highly melodic rock gem with a smoking guitar solo, "Public Personality" goes harder and groovy made for the arenas, while title track "Big Time" fuses melody with a hard rock attack with a solid foundation.

BIG TIME (Sweden) - Big Time (2014) band photo

The chops, the hooks, the looks... Big Time has it all to make it big.
With the kind of music we all love delivered by highly proficient musicians, a passion for what they do and a hunger to reach out, this brand new act has a sparkling bright future ahead.
If you like '80s classic melodic hard rock, you should take a listen to Big Time now, perhaps the next big thing from Sweden this year.

1 - Julia
2 - Public Personality
3 - Big Time

Mike Palace: Lead Vocals
Rick Digorio: Guitar
Marc Blomberg: Bass, Vocals
Adrian Qvarfordt: Drums, Vocals

only at 0dayrox


AIRLESS - Best of & Rarities (1999 - 2014)

VANGOUGH - Kingdom Of Ruin (2011)


After almost 15 years of existence, Spanish AOR / Melodic Rockers AIRLESS are presenting their first "Best Of" album including some previously unreleased material.
Since its foundation the band recorded four records and toured with the likes of Jeff Scott Soto, Vega, Serpentine, Houston and Reckless Love.

The band's style, whilst based on the classic American melodic hard rock sound features modern European hallmarks in certain chord progressions and melodies. So you have the best of both worlds here.
Throughout "Best of & Rarities" you will find solid arrangements with catchy melodies and soaring choruses, compelling, passionate lead vocals, a strong keyboard presence and some great guitar work courtesy of the skilled Robert Rodrigo, influenced by the likes of Eddie Valen or Neal Schon.

You can't go wrong with songs such as "The Truth", "Now or Never", "Crying for Your Love", "Till the End of Time", or the powerful AOR ballad "Time to Say Goodbye".
As bonus the band offers the unreleased cuts "Far Away" from their third album sessions, the hot rocker "The Reason", and "Second Chance", originally only appeared in the compilation 'Embrace The Sun', the Japan Benefit project for the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Soon there will be a physical release of "Best of & Rarities" including a bonus disc limited to 500 units only.
Meanwhile, enjoy this adequate resume of Airless' career, a very good and underrated band.

01 - Autumn Leaves
02 - The Truth
03 - Holding On
04 - It's Up to You
05 - 2nd Round
06 - Now or Never
07 - Don't Give Up
08 - Time to Say Goodbye
09 - Crying for Your Love
10 - Start Again
11 - I Don't Care
12 - Upstream
13 - Till the End of Time
14 - Far Away (Unreleased from 'Fight' 2008)
15 - The Reason (Unreleased from 'Changes' 2013)
16 - Second Chance (From 'Embrace The Sun' compilation)

Inaki Lazcano - Vocals
Robert Rodrigo - Guitar
Pako Martinez - Drums
Miguel Manjon - Bass



RON KEEL - Metal Cowboy (2014)

RON KEEL - Metal Cowboy (2014) full


With the release today of his new "Metal Cowboy" solo album, RON KEEL's career in the entertainment business is experiencing yet again another climax. After selling millions of records and touring the world as both a heavy metal screamer (KEEL, Steeler, etc.) and melodic country music artist (Ronnie Lee Keel, The Rat’lers, Country Superstars Show), it can safely be said that Ron has seen it all.

Despite his extensive career, "Metal Cowboy" is the first Ron Keel 'solo' rock album.
Ron says: "I am very lucky because most of what I’ve done in my life was the result of NOT making decisions – all of a sudden an idea will come to me, and I will follow it. When I believe something is right, I go for it. “Metal Cowboy” was like that – I wanted to create something special, have fun and make music.
After 30 years and around 50 albums, I think it’s time to release my first rock solo album!"
The CD title came from Ron Keel's nickname, often called 'Metal Cowboy' for his incursions on both genres. In this record Ron decided to combine his metal side with his cowboy side in both life and music.
But don't be fooled, this is a hard rockin' album.

RON KEEL - Metal Cowboy (2014) inside

The music sounds just like the title; hard & heavy with a southern side, yes, but plenty of gritty screaming vocals, powerful riffs and smashing drums.
Backing Ron Keel there is Y&T drummer Mike Vanderhule, Tesla's Frank Hannon on lead guitars, Geno Arce (Keel / IronHorse) on bass and Ronnie Mancuso (Beggars & Thieves) on keys and bass, with other special guests including Paul Shortino (Quiet Riot, King Kobra), Brent Muscat (Faster Pussycat), and a 'live in studio' recording with the Sin City Sinners.
So expect a rocking playing / arrangements here, like the sweaty opener "Long Gone Bad", the highly melodic "Wild Forever" (a true Melodic Hard Rock tune), and the groovy hard rockers "My Bad" and "The Last Ride".

All is balanced by numbers with a southern rock feel such as "What Would Skynyrd Do" (title says all), the beautiful ballad "Just Like Tennessee", or the great "Singers, Hookers & Thieves" in a terrific duet with Paul Shortino.
But there's more hard rockers with the bluesy "When Love Goes Down", the whiskey-soaked "Evil Wicked Mean & Nasty" and the melodic "The Cowboy Road" which somehow reminds me Keel (the band) with a very good guitar work by Frank Hannon. Not all are roses, because "3 Chord Drinkin' Song" (featuring the Sin City Sinners), although cool, is poorly recorded live in my opinion.
We have three bonuses: "My Bad (Radio Version)" almost identical to the original, "Just Like Tennessee (Unplugged)" without drums and a nice dobro in it, and "Singers, Hookers & Thieves (Solo Acoustic Version)", only featuring Ron at the mic.

RON KEEL - Metal Cowboy (2014) back cover

"Metal Cowboy" is a very pleasant listen, a definite testimony of Ron Keel's favourite rock styles: hard rock and American southern bluesy rock.
Sometimes when you combine two flavors you create something new that tastes really good, and you can tell Keel knows something about these genres.
To be honest, this music recipe is not 'new' at all, but it is for Ron Keel's career. He has created his own musical space here, where he feels at home. And works. And really rocks.

01 - Long Gone Bad
02 - Wild Forever
03 - My Bad
04 - What Would Skynyrd Do
05 - Just Like Tennessee
06 - The Last Ride
07 - When Love Goes Down
08 - Singers, Hookers & Thieves [duet with Paul Shortino]
09 - Evil Wicked Mean & Nasty
10 - The Cowboy Road
11 - 3 Chord Drinkin Song [featuring the Sin City Sinners]
12 - My Bad (Radio Version)
13 - Just Like Tennessee (Unplugged)
14 - Singers, Hookers & Thieves (Solo Acoustic Version)

Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Banjo: Ron Keel
Lead Guitar: Frank Hannon, Brent Muscat, Keith Robert
Bass, Keyboards: Ronnie Mancuso
Bass: Kenn Tonn, Geno Arce
Bass, Backing Vocals: Zach Throne
Drums: Mike Vanderhule
Percussion, Backing Vocals: Rob Cournoyer
Piano: Joe Spraker
Pedal Steel Guitar: Ditch Kurtz
Dobro: Travis Toy
Backing Vocals: Carol Lyn Liddle, Renée Keel



Monday, January 27, 2014

PAUL RODGERS - The Royal Sessions (2014)

PAUL RODGERS - The Royal Sessions (2014) full


Legend PAUL RODGERS, longtime singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with Bad Company, is gearing up for the release of “The Royal Sessions” next February 4th, 2014, a lovingly crafted collection of classic songs from the Memphis scene re-imagined by the iconic rock singer.

“The Royal Sessions” is a remarkable project that came together as Rodgers is working on a solo record, and in the middle, his producer Margouleff just discovered the mythic Memphis' Royal Studios was still up and running, and the session players who recorded there with a wide array of artists during the ’60s, ’70s and beyond, were still active.
The opportunity to record in such a hallowed place with musicians that Rodgers considered personal heroes was a dream come true.
Rodgers personally selected the songs that marked his musical formation, classics from artists like Otis Redding, Albert King or Sam Cooke. Using a roster of many veteran musicians who already played on the original recordings including organist Charles Hodges, guitarist Michael Stoll and bassist LeRoy Hodges among others, Paul and Margouleff aimed for an authentic live feel, even recording all the basic tracks live onto analog tape.
These Memphis players forged an immediate bond when presented with Rodgers' formidable talent and sincere love of the songs, you can feel that on every cut here.

PAUL RODGERS - The Royal Sessions (2014) inside

Deeply felt, powerfully sung and expertly played, “The Royal Sessions” features a cross-section of material hand-picked by Rodgers, songs of great historical significance and personal meaning for him, and you can note that on Paul's performace.
To say Paul Rodgers is one of the most iconic, recognizable Rock voices ever it's not a revelation, but after listening this record, to say that a man in his sixties (64 years-old) still have his incredible pipes intact, is not common in the music business.

Paul Rodgers is simply awesome here. His lusty gutsy core strengths are in top form, and you can feel the man love these songs from the heart. This is what he does best, bluesy melodies coming from his gifted throat arranged in a very contemporary way.
Don't be fooled by the 'old songs' selection, “The Royal Sessions” sounds terrific, dynamic and even 'rocking' on Paul's hands and specially Perry Margouleff's extraordinary production which captures this timeless music essence in its pure form.
Easily Recommended.

01 - I Thank You
02 - Down Don't Bother Me
03 - I Can't Stand The Rain
04 - I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)
05 - That's How Strong My Love Is
06 - Walk On By
07 - Any Ole Way
08 - It's Growing
09 - Born Under A Bad Sign
10 - I've Got Dreams To Remember

Paul Rodgers (vocals)
Michael Toles (guitar)
Lester Snell (piano)
Charles Hodges (Hammond B-3 organ)
Archie Turner (Wurlitzer organ)
Leroy Hodges (bass)
Steve Potts, James Robertson (drums)
Lannie McMillan, James L. Spake, Marc Franklin (horns)
The Royal Strings (strings)



Saturday, January 25, 2014

RED DRAGON CARTEL - ST [Japanese Edition] (2014)

RED DRAGON CARTEL - ST [Japanese Edition] (2014)


Guitar legend Jake E. Lee, the man behind Badlands and one of Ozzy Osbourne’s finest albums, Bark At The Moon, is back after almost two decades out of the spotlight with his new band RED DRAGON CARTEL, and their self-titled debut to be released by Frontiers Records this January 27, 2014.

Clearly standing out from his countless contemporaries, Jake E. Lee first rose to international prominence as Ozzy Osbourne's sideman during the raucous '80s hard rock movement. Lee's signature guitar work and songwriting contributions on such million-selling albums as Bark At The Moon and The Ultimate Sin helped further to cement Osbourne's cred during that decade, while Lee, himself, soared into the stratosphere as rock's latest guitar hero.
Following his tenure with Ozzy, Lee went on to create arguably his best and most compelling music in the late '80s and early '90s with the short-lived hard blues based outfit Badlands. In recent years, the reclusive icon has resurfaced only occasionally appearing on various tribute records and solo releases.
In 2014, the famed guitarist returns with his new project, Red Dragon Cartel.

Recorded at the Hideout Recording Studio in Las Vegas, the self-titled debut from Red Dragon Cartel was produced by Lee and bassist Ronnie Mancuso (Beggars and Thieves), then mixed and mastered by Kevin Churko (Hinder, Ozzy). The band is completed with frontman Darren James Smith and drummer Jonas Fairley.
However, the recording session was also gifted with some guest talent including singers Paul Di’Anno (ex-Iron Maiden), Robin Zander of Cheap Trick, as well as females Sass Jordan and Maria Brink (In This Moment), and Five Finger Death Punch’s Jeremy Spencer adding vocals.
And how Red Dragon Cartel sounds?

In a few words: pretty darn terrific.
It's generally straight up melodic heavy rock with a modern tone, driven by Lee's wall of riffage and wicked good guitar solos. Additionally, underneath all this is some serious groove getting your toe tapping, while you're banging your head.
Perhaps the only Ozzy-like track on the disc is opener and lead single "Deceived" (a highlight), which possesses a no-holds-barred Bark At The Moon melodic energy. Along with "Shout It Out", these two hooky, guitar-driven groove monsters make for a powerful pair of openers.
But even if the album revolves around Jake E. Lee’s endless talent, it's interesting to see how each of the guest artists are able to somehow slice off a bit of the Lee pie to showcase their wares. For instance, Zander on the track "Feeder" shines with an almost psychedelic feel and Maria Brink provides a Joan Jett-like moment that is a nice change up on "Big Mouth".

RED DRAGON CARTEL - ST [Japanese Edition] (2014) back cover

Haunting and melodic, "Fall From The Sky" is another stand-out, as is the bona fide pedal-to-the (old school) metal nugget "Wasted" featuring first Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Di’Anno.
Another power point, "War Machine", lies stylistically somewhere between classic Black Sabbath and modern metal. Additionally, Sass Jordan's guest vocal on "Redeem Me" helps it to stand out from the rest of the hard-hitting pack as a straight-up and gritty blues rocker - one that's fabulously reminiscent of Badlands.
"Fall From the Sky" is fantastic ballad with superb instrumentation, centered on a strummed guitar pattern while vocalist Smith shines and gives his most passionate performance.
However, Lee's most vicious and enticing riffs (possibly) ever are heard on "Slave", which is another highlight here. You can hear a terrific palm muted fast picked riff that blends into an arpeggiated verse before slamming into a fist-pumping shout along chorus.

Red Dragon Cartel self-titled debut record is an impressive amalgam of Lee’s past output mixed with a modern spin. Blues inspired killer riff driven hard rock with melodic vocals is still the blueprint.
Jake's musos are alive & kickin'. His playing makes this CD a must-own for any fan of '80s guitar driven rock full of melody, but can also rip your face off with his dynamic speed and virtuosity.
In sum, Red Dragon Cartel is a mighty debut - a record that's as strong as of any from Jake E. Lee's awe-inspiring 30-year career.
Very Recommended.

MICP ~ 11128

01 - Deceived
02 - Shout It Out
03 - Feeder (feat. Robin Zander)
04 - Fall From The Sky ~ Seagull
05 - Wasted (feat. Paul DiAnno)
06 - Slave
07 - Big Mouth (feat. Maria Brink)
08 - War Machine
09 - Redeem Me (feat. Sass Jordan)
10 - Exquisite Tenderness
11 - Feeder (Acoustic Version) [Japanese bonus track]

Jake E. Lee – Guitars
Ronnie Mancuso – Bass
D.J Smith – Vocals
Jonas Fairley – Drums



Friday, January 24, 2014

PAVIC - Is War The Answer? (2014)

PAVIC - Is War The Answer? (2014) full


Marko PAVIC and his self-named band from Italy released two interesting Hard Rock albums during the last decade, both quite well received but failed to make them an established act.
After some turmoils in the line-up and the departure of vocalist Chris Catena in 2010, PAVIC was put on hiatus but in early 2013 the band was revived with a new drummer and a new lead singer but mostly, a new dynamic, improved sound which is moving into a more straight and contemporary direction, as it's heard on they new CD "Is War The Answer?" released today.

Since the first seconds of the opening, title track, you can hear the musical change: edgy, post-grunge Americanized modern hard rock with an anthemic feel, a quite promising start to this disc which introduces us to the very accessible and decent vocals of the heavily tattooed Joe Calabro.
Calabro is the perfect candidate for helping the band to uplift themselves with some vocals inflexions that can recall James Michael James (SIXX AM) or Chris Cornell (Soudgarden). The fresh, updated sound of Pavic is enhanced with some sharp riffing by Marko perfectly placed in a sound canvas courtesy of Rick Beato (Furyon) who engineered and mixed the whole recording at Black Dog Sound Studios, USA.
"In Your Eyes" flows in similar style, hard rocking Americana and, again, comes out on top, while "Free Fall" rocks with in a modern style with synths in the background and raspy vocals / melodic chorus upon a staccato riffage.

PAVIC - Is War The Answer? (2014) inside

The ballad "Song For The Rain", although a tad modern radio friendly, is a stormer of a song which I'd rather listen too than half of the usual duff that gets played time over and again so it's another tick in the box.
"Your Own Misery" and "Strong Enough" stomps it up again with good mix between energetic down tuned guitars and more progressive elements. The faster they play, they more fluid they become – this is obviously where the band feels more comfortable and it's a winning combination that they've struck upon.
You want a band to take chances every now and again – sometimes it works, sometimes it's something the band will forever regret – so to stick Duran Duran's "Notorious" slap bang in the middle of this disc is a gamble. For me, this unexpected cover song is one of the highlights of the CD, the guitar work is highly skilled and the solo spot by Marko Pavik is short but impressive, something in coherency all along the disc.

On their new album "Is War The Answer?" Pavic tries to blend classic hard rock melodies with American mainstream, modern rock radio anthemic tunes, and they succeed for the most part.
I don't believe they will break up the charts with this 'new style', but this fresh CD it's a more than interesting recording fusing the best of both worlds, something appealing for many listeners. The production of Rick Beato is polished and powerful, really well balanced and with a crisp output.
"Is War The Answer?" is also worth to investigate for those curious minds who ask themselves how the Modern American Rock is digested in Europe, made and crafted by an European band.

01 - Is War the Answer?
02 - In Your Eyes
03 - Song for the Rain
04 - Your Own Misery
05 - Notorious
06 - Every Time I Die
07 - Strong Enough
08 - Welcome to My World
09 - Free Fall
10 - Once Again

Joe Calabro – Lead Vocals
Marko Pavic – Lead Guitar
Aleks Ferrara – Bass
Lorenzo Antonelli – Keyboards
Antonio Aronne – Drums



ACCEPT - Metal Heart + Kaizoku-Ban [Remastered] (2013)

ACCEPT - Metal Heart + Kaizoku-Ban [Remastered] (2013) full retail


One of my favorite ACCEPT albums, their sixth studio effort "Metal Heart" is being reissued by Hear No Evil / Cherry Red Records, remastered by the 'Rock Candy guy' Andy Pearce.
"Metal Heart" was Accept's second major label release after the instant metal classic Balls To The Wall. Produced by expert Dieter Dierks (Scorpions) this record found the legendary and highly influential German band go in a slightly more US radio-friendly style than their previous releases.

"Metal Heart" was a cautious attempt to crack the lucrative American market with more accessible songcraft and emphasis on hooks and melodies. Although critically panned at the time, today "Metal Heart" is often considered by fans of the band as one of Accept's best records.
Just as with Balls To The Wall, this CD features ten hard-hitting compositions drenched in the same signature Accept elements that comprised their earlier efforts: Udo Dirkschneider’s falsetto soaked lead vocals, gloomy group harmonies and Wolf Hoffmann’s classical flavored electric guitar playing.

ACCEPT - Metal Heart + Kaizoku-Ban [Remastered] (2013) booklet

"Metal Heart" spawned a number of the band's now classic anthems such as "Living For Tonite", the title track, the hair metal-esque "Screaming For A Love-Bite" and the ultra-catchy "Midnight Mover".
The group also makes a detour into a different sonic territory with the unusual song "Teach Us To Survive".
On top of the original ten tracks, this reissue includes the rare live EP "Kaizoku-Ban" recorded during Accept’s live performance from 1985 in Nagoya, Japan, and is comprised heavily of songs off of "Metal Heart". For fans who have yet to see the band on stage but have been wanting to hear how "Living For Tonite" is carried out live, this is a great way to do so.

This is a really good remaster by Andy Pearce; the band's war chants penetrate your ear drums harder than they ever did on the original release, with stronger sound clarity.
The 16 page booklet features liner notes from Metal Hammer and Classic Rock's Malcolm Dome based on a new interview with Accept guitarist Wolf Hoffman.

ACCEPT - Metal Heart + Kaizoku-Ban [Remastered] (2013) back cover

With this excellent reissue of "Metal Heart", Hear No Evil Records not only revisit the already great songs and make them even better with a much needed 21st century remastering, but also include a rare Accept live album recorded back in the band's prime. What more could a hard rock fan ask for?
Strongly Recommended.

01 - Metal Heart
02 - Midnight Mover
03 - Up To The Limit
04 - Wrong Is Right
05 - Screaming For A Love-Bite
06 - Too High To Get It Right
07 - Dogs On Leads
08 - Teach Us To Survive
09 - Living For Tonite
10 - Bound To Fail
11 - Metal Heart (Live)
12 - Screaming For A Love-Bite (Live)
13 - Up To The Limit (Live)
14 - Head Over Heels (Live)
15 - Love Child (Live)
16 - Living For Tonite (Live)

Udo Dirkschneider – lead and harmony vocals
Wolf Hoffmann – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
Jörg Fischer – rhythm guitar, 8-string bass, backing vocals
Peter Baltes – bass, backing vocals
Stefan Kaufmann – drums, percussion, backing vocals



Thursday, January 23, 2014

PRIMAL FEAR - Delivering The Black (2014)

PRIMAL FEAR - Delivering The Black (2014) retail full


German metallers PRIMAL FEAR return with their 10th slab of metal "Delivering The Black" to be released by Frontiers Records / Soulfood on January 24 in Europe and January 28 in North America.
Bassist and co-founder Mat Sinner produced the new effort which is easily one of the band's most explosive records to date. Guitarists Magnus Karlsson and Alex Beyrodt are simply phenomenal with sharp, resonating riffs and melodic spiraling solos through this 10-track skull-crushing bounty CD.

Before touching the skin of the material, I must mention the importance of the production factor. The pairing of Jacob Hansen at the mixing with Achim Köhler mastering along with the watchful of Mat Sinner overseeing the entire process as producer, made this new album from Primal Fear somewhat more bombastic than never.
Generally, it sounds to me like an '80s kind of mix - as it has always been for this band and here it was magnificently maintained by Jacob Hansen - though the contemporary direction of the instruments. I especially enjoyed the modernized guitar sound, which on "Delivering The Black" felt even vaster, larger than life.

PRIMAL FEAR - Delivering The Black (2014) inside booklet

The album kicks off in blazing style with a barrage of crisp riffage and chugging rhythms on the album opener, “King for a Day”. Sinner's bass and Randy Black's drums are like a locomotive while the dual guitar leads soar and ensnare the listener. An anthemic hooky chorus and Scheeper's gritty vocal delivery seal the deal.
A dramatic intro sets the tone for “Rebel Faction” which quickly turns into a speedball of rapid-fire double bass and speed-riffing that will rattle teeth and vibrate bones.
This leads us into the album's debut single, “When Death Comes Knocking”: a blasting melodious piece which begins with an acoustic intro and a mid-tempo riff. Built for arenas, this beast has a massive feel to it and an undercurrent of Arabian nuances, particularly in the bridge. Scheepers’ performance gives the song an epic melodic feel.

The title cut as well as “Road to Asylum” are speeding juggernauts of pounding razor riffs and rhythms. Infectious melodies make them among the record's most memorable tracks.
The tolling of the bell and cawing birds lead into an emotive piano melody on the intro to the album's near ten-minute cinematic piece, “One Night in December”, which is, if I have it right in mind, the longest song Primal Fear ever released. The track has a sumptuous sound and orchestral elements, and a lot of variations and arching melodies which makes it really special.
You almost could say that a fierce CD like this also needs a ballad. Sometimes these ballads are overloaded with cliche... not in the case of Primal Fear. "Born with a Broken Heart" became a great song and an emotional ballad featuring Leaves Eyes' female vocalist Liv Kristine doing some fine backing vocals. Scheepers hits a poignant mark with his inspired delivery, and once again the guitars dance and spirit the song to new heights.
Closing it all out is the battering-ram rampage of “Inseminoid”, propelled by Black's lightening quick feet and more fancy-fret axe-work by Beyrodt and Karlsson.

PRIMAL FEAR - Delivering The Black (2014) back cover

"Delivering The Black" is easily Primal Fear's best all-around effort in nearly a decade.
The last records from Primal Fear have been good yet not that solid as the first ones, eventhough pretty successful. I'm happy that I can say: this Primal Fear album belongs to the best ones the band has released so far, as all songs are carefully crafted, arranged and focused.
Packed with every bombastic element a metal / hard rock fan could hope for, "Delivering The Black" not only delivers - as the name suggests, it propels you into the center of the arena, leather clad and head-banging.

01 - King For A Day
02 - Rebel Faction
03 - When Death Comes Knocking
04 - Alive & On Fire
05 - Delivering The Black
06 - Road To Asylum
07 - One Night In December
08 - Never Pray For Justice
09 - Born With A Broken Heart
10 - Inseminoid

Ralf Scheepers (vocals)
Alex Beyrodt (guitars)
Magnus Karlsson (guitar, keyboards)
Randy Black (drums)
Mat Sinner (bass, vocals)



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

JOKER (USA) - Last Hand (2013)

JOKER (USA) - Last Hand (2013) full


I am sure many of you (specially collectors) must remember the Chicago, US based Melodic Hard Rock band JOKER. The group released two very good albums between 1990-92, and when they were recording the third, dark ages arrived...
Now Joker are presenting for the first time these lost tapes entitled as "Last Hand".

Fronted by versatile singer Tony Ingala (who recorded in the Blue Öyster Cult album Bad Channels), the style of Joker is pure American Melodic Rock driven by sharp guitars and terrific five-part harmonies on the catchy choruses.
Their sound reminds you the commercial, Americanized era of Norwegians TNT circa 'Intuition' and Warrant. Therefore not surprising that Ingala was once the front-runner to replace singer Jani Lane during the nineties.

JOKER (USA) - Last Hand (2013) inside cover

There's instantly recognizable melodies on these professionally recorded 6 tracks that finally see the light of day, spiced with some rocking AOR nuances and a touch of hair metal fun.
If you never heard about JOKER 'USA' (there was several bands under the same moniker back in a day), you have here as well a selection from their first two albums (tracks 7 to 12).
You can't go wrong with these tunes, all catchy and highly melodic Melodic Hard Rock.
Very Recommended.

01 - Beats Like Thunder
02 - You Go Down
03 - The Other Side
04 - One And Only
05 - Be A Man
06 - Way Of The World

07 - Lorraine
08 - Change
08 - Love Keeps
09 - Party For Your Life
10 - October Wind
11 - Don't Turn Away
12 - Dry Your Eyes

Tony Ingala - lead and backing vocals
Joe Miro - guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Nick Sikich, Joey Miroballi - guitar, backing vocals
Brian Smolar - bass, backing vocals
Mike Stone - drums, backing vocals



TRANSATLANTIC - Kaleidoscope [2CD Special Edition] (2014)

TRANSATLANTIC - Kaleidoscope [2CD Special Edition] (2014) full


What started as a side project more than 10 years ago, TRANSATLANTIC has evolved into a full-fledged band that ranks at the top among all the Prog greats. With this new album "Kaleidoscope" (to be released next January 27), the super-group live up to their own lofty standards while in many ways exceeding expectations.

It was 2009 that Transatlantic last released a new studio album. And with only a few listens of this new beast called "Kaleidoscope", you can tell is was worth the wait. This new record is much more accessible than the 77 minute one track tour de force that was the previous, third album ‘Whirlwind’.
In "Kaleidoscope", the band returns to their prior album format, bookending the disc with 2 Prog epics and including 3 shorter length, commercial songs.

This album is a musical experience, and there is not one minute worth skipping.
When you put Mike Portnoy in the same room as Roine Stolt something magic is bound to happen, and when you mix in a little Marillion in the form of Pete Trewavas and general prog all rounder Neal Morse, the sparks really start to fly.

TRANSATLANTIC - Kaleidoscope [2CD Special Edition] (2014) inside

On their previous studio albums they have proved to Prog lovers that they are truly more than the sum of their parts. But have they kept the magic alive with their fourth album? Thankfully the answer is yes.

"Kaleidoscope" starts and ends with the epics (divided into awesome several parts) namely "Into The Blue" and the title track, each brimming with ideas and melodies that a lot of bands would break up into a whole albums worth of songs, and at around half an hour each, they could have easily done so.
Among the song-format tracks we have really melodic ballad "Shine" which is the most commercial sounding number on the album despite its seven-and-a-half minute length. This is an uplifting, strong song with a great chorus and melodious skeleton.
The remaining two tracks "Black As The Sky" (which has Stolt's Flower Kings written all over it) and "Beyond The Sun" round off the album perfectly, making "Kaleidoscope" another 70 minutes of Prog heaven courtesy of Transatlantic.

But wait, in this "Kaleidoscope 2CD Special Edition" there's more: a selection of classic rock songs amazingly covered by these terrific musicians. We found a superb "And You and I" (Yes), a dynamic take on "Tin Soldier" (Small Faces) and a wonderful "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (Elton John) among others.
The effort that Transatlantic put into these songs is apparent, making the Special Edition more than a worthy addition.

TRANSATLANTIC - Kaleidoscope [2CD Special Edition] (2014) cd photo

It's unlikely that we'll hear anything else from these guys in a while, as they, like a lot of other prog musicians, are almost always busy with other projects. But it's great to know that almost 5 years after their last release they can produce something of this incredible quality.
Super Recommended.

CD 1 - Main disc
1. Into The Blue
I. Overture
II. The Dreamer And The Healer
III. A New Beginning
IV. Written In Your Heart
V. The Dreamer And The Healer [Reprise]
2. Shine
3. Black As The Sky
4. Beyond The Sun
5. Kaleidoscope
I. Overture [instrumental]
II. Ride The Lightning
III. Black Gold
IV. Walking The Road
V. Desolation Days
VI. Lemon Looking Glass
VII. Feel The Lightning [Reprise]

CD 2 - Bonus disc
1. And You And I (Yes cover)
2. Can't Get It Out Of My Head (ELO cover)
3. Conquistador (Procol Harum cover)
4. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Elton John)
5. Tin Soldier (Small Faces cover)
6. Sylvia (Focus cover)
7. Indiscipline (King Crimson cover)
8. Nights In White Satin (Moody Blues cover)

Neal Morse — keyboards, acoustic guitars, vocals
Roine Stolt — guitars, vocals, percussion, add. keyboards
Pete Trewavas — bass, vocals
Mike Portnoy — drums, vocals

Chris Carmichael — cello
Rich Mouser — pedal steel guitar on "Beyond the Sun"
Daniel Gildenlöw — guest vocals on "Written in Your Heart"



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

LOVER UNDER COVER - Into The Night (2014)

LOVER UNDER COVER - Into The Night (2014) full


Founded by multi-instrumentalist Mikael Carlsson LOVE UNDER COVER debuted last year with a very good Melodic Hard Rock album, and with the same line-up including singer Mikael Erlandsson (Last Autumn's Dream) guitarist Martin Kronlund (Gypsy Rose, Phenomena) and drummer Perra Johnsson (Coldspell), the Swedish quartet are back with their second effort "Into The Night" to be released by Escape Records next January 24th.
From the first bits, "Into The Night" proves that 'the second album syndrome' is not an option for these guys as Lover Under Cover not only were able here to live up to the initial expectation of the debut, they have made one better and one surely amongst the best of the year for the Melodic Hard Rock genre.
Simply put, "Into The Night" blows out of the water the already good first album.

This stunning new release sounds flawless and has more flesh & grease on the bones. More raucous guitar riffs, mature harmonies and an overall stronger studio production.
The brilliant brain / creator of Lovers Under Cover Mikael Carlsson has the right combatants in his legion of rock. Martin Kronlund is a dazzling guitarist and an excellent producer and with Perra Johnsson as the steady hitting-man behind it all, they have something quite fresh and a positive tone in their sound that attracts your Melodic Hard mind and soul.
Over the terrific musical background provided by Carlsson & Co., Mikael Erlandsson continues to sing classy and wonderful with his half-hoarse melodious voice. Those who like Last Autumn's Dream, Treat, ColdSpell, or any of the other 'really good' bands from the new Swedish MHR scene will be thrilled by "Into The Night".

Every track on this fantastic album is a possible hit, kicking off with the uptempo rocking "A Fight" driven by an ecstatic guitar riff and crowned by an extremely catchy chorus.
"Into The Shadows" follows with continuous fabulous sounds of guitars and vocals, rapidly becoming a favorite. This one felt rather similar to several of The Poodles hits, amazing melodic guitaring, fine keyboards and of course memorable peak moments.
"Miracle" is another highlight, pumped by a true energy that hit and provide unbelievable power. You can feel that AOR spirit generated from the '80s, just gotta love the monster chorus.

LOVER UNDER COVER - Into The Night (2014) inside

One of the surprises is the cover of the 1988 pop number one single "Toy Soldiers" by Martika, sung with passion by Erlandsson, the perfect vocalist for this song with his raspy and sensual tone. He really shines here with authority.
"Crushing Stones" and "Life Is Easy" are that kind of feel-good tunes that makes you love this genre, and then the tempo picks up for "Playboy No. 7" where the strong, sharp guitar riffs and pounding drums pelt out to this song at their best.

"The Game Is On" and "Fantasy Man" feature some great lyrics and harmonies which invites you to sing along to, again. Two catchy tunes that will stay in your head forever. "Closer to The Truth" has a little 'Eurovision' feel to it, very commercial and little syruped, but it's so well rounded that you will love it too.
"No Place Like Home" closes this impressive album with a lot of heart and passion. It starts off in a slow moody anthemic way and then upbeats to a great chorus.

With "Into The Night", Lover Under Cover has raised the bar really high for this Melodic Hard Rock 2014. Yes, this CD hasn't a single filler track.
You'll find here only high quality songwriting, killer guitar and bass lines, screaming keyboards, dynamic drums and energetic melodic vocals that will get your heart beating fast, and your throat singing all day.
It's unbelievable how many ideas these guys have and how they translate them into their music, closer to perfection: "Into The Night" album is full of positive energy, beautiful melodies and a top notch polished production.

01 - A Fight
02 - Into The Shadows
03 - Miracle
04 - Toy Soldier
05 - Crushing Stones
06 - Life Is Easy
07 - Playboy No. 7
08 - The Game Is On
09 - Fantasy Man
10 - Closer To The Truth
11 - No Place Like Home

Mikael Erlandsson - Vocals, Keyboards
Mikael Carlsson - Bass, Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
Martin Kronlund (Gypsy Rose, Phenomena, Salute) - Guitars
Perra Johnsson (Coldspell) - Drums



Monday, January 20, 2014

THE ANGELS - Talk The Talk (2014)

THE ANGELS - Talk The Talk (2014) full


Australian rock mainstays THE ANGELS returned two years ago with a nice record (featured on this blog HERE), toured two years presenting it all over the world, and now are back again with a new CD entitled "Talk The Talk".

Penned and refined over seven months while the band was on the road in 2013, the album started to take shape in hotel rooms, the tour bus and during sound checks. "Talk The Talk" is the epitome of a touring band’s album. It’s a tight recording, one that is only this way because the band has spent the majority of the last year playing live together.
It also marks The Angel’s 40 years in the business, a band cited as influence by many major names both in America & Europe.
Conducted by veteran founder members and brothers Rick Brewster & John Brewster with their classic guitar riffs and vintage tones, the album sounds quite live indeed, with new singer Dave Gleeson (ex- The Screaming Jets) impressive vocals now asserted behind the mic.

THE ANGELS - Talk The Talk (2014) logo

"Talk The Talk" is simple, timeless bluesy Classic Rock with melodic rumbling grooves and atmosphere-soaked ballads. Gleeson vocals glue with the band's style, as his slightly raspy tone has the typical nuances of the genre.
The Angels are one of those bands entrenched in the Australian Rock Music lexicon, and with this CD, they once again show why.
For a lesson in how Aussies do it, look no further.

01 - Talk The Talk
02 - Got An Itch
03 - Every Man
04 - Broken Windows
05 - Heart of Stone
06 - Got a Feeling
07 - Nations Are Falling
08 - You Might Make It
09 - Book of Law
10 - I Come In Peace
11 - Personal Thing
12 - No Rhyme Nor Reason

Dave 'Gleeso' Gleeson - vocals
John Brewster - guitar, vocals
Rick Brewster - guitar, vocals
Sam Brewster - bass
Nick Norton - drums



Friday, January 17, 2014

STAMINA - Perseverance (2014)

STAMINA - Perseverance (2014) full


STAMINA is the brainchild of Italian songwriter / guitarist Luca Sellitto formed in 2001, and after two albums, the combo is releasing their aptly titled new CD "Perseverance".
Indeed perseverance is the best word to describe Luca's passion for Rock music, as through these years he has built a strong reputation among its peers reflected in the collaborators he has achieved for this new album; singers Göran Edman, Maria McTurk (Royal Hunt) and the Swedish revelation Nils Molin (Dynazty), among other stellar musicians.

Yes, the core of Stamina features Sellitto on guitar, Lorenzo Zarone on bass and drummer Andrea Barone, and for this new record the band has chosen to feature a bunch of monster vocalists instead of using exclusively the voice of touring singer Jacopo DiDomenico (another great shouter in his onw right).
On "Perseverance" Stamina offers an awesome genre bending and crossing music, mixing classic hard rock with progressive melodic metal and a touch of fusion groove, all combined with ingenious catchy melodies, varied and exciting arrangements and high musical and technical claims to themselves.

The distinctive voice of ex- Malmsteen extraordinary singer Goran Edman is working perfectly on the bombastic, over the top on keyboards & guitar riffs second track "Breaking Another String", which with the opening song "Higher" - featuring Nils Molin adding a terrific melodic touch to the lead vocals - sets the mood in the excellency for the whole magical album, but each number is another essential piece to this 'all killers, no filler' CD.

Sometimes the musical texture is more defined, clear as it were. For instance, the title track moves as swift melodic rocker with distinct melodic metal edge. Alternatively, "Just Before Dawn" develops into more epic prog metal with loose nuances and, at the end, finishes with a most delicate and moving orchestral conclusion accented by piano and acoustic guitar.

That said, Stamina can pull off relatively straightforward hard rock songs as well with the Dio / Tony Martin-like "Wake Up the Gods", and specially "I'm Alive", being a prime example of a catchy song which once upon a while may well have gained some airplay on the radio.
The dexterity of the musicians and the ability to move between those different musical concepts with a natural ease and a strong feel is really exultant and very refreshing, even fascinating at a point that finally the music of the band sounds very original and addictive, revealing an unexpected creativity.
Just check the extremely melodic "Naked Eye", a killer melodic hard rocker adorned with excellent layers of backing vocals, but in the middle the guys blend a fantastic set of Phrygian mode guitars (instead of the regular minor harmonic scales) with vintage keyboards backgrounds. A track far from ordinary for sure.

STAMINA - Perseverance (2014) inside

"Perseverance" by Stamina is the first great surprise of the year.
With a pack of terrifically composed songs, marvelous musicianship and splendid vocal performances, this CD is one of these rara avis tagged as 'all killers, no filler'. Every note played is creative, pulsating and interesting. Ah, and production & mix are fantastic.
Make no exceptions here; prog metalers, melodic hard rockers and classic melodic metal fans, you should check this CD with no hesitation.
Highly Recommended.

01. Higher
02. Breaking Another String
03. I'm Alive
04. Just Before the Dawn
05. Perseverance
06. Naked Eye
07. Unbreakble
08. Wake Up the Gods
09. Winner for a Day

Luca Sellitto - Guitars
Lorenzo Zarone - Bass
Andrea Barone - Keyboards

Göran Edman
Nils Molin (Dynazty)
Maria McTurk (Royal Hunt)
Giorgio Adamo (Stamina, Mind Key)
Jacopo DiDomenico

Additional Musicians:
Alessandro Beccati - Drums (4, 5, 6, 7 and 8)
Mirkko DeMaio - Drums (1, 2, 3 and 9)
Ilaria Adamo, Ilda Faiella - Female Backing Vocals
Daniela Lunelli - Cello



LOU GRAMM - Long Hard Look [Rock Candy remaster] (2013)

LOU GRAMM - Long Hard Look [Rock Candy remaster] (2013) full


LOU GRAMM has one of the most unique and remarkably memorable voices, not only as frontman of the multi platinum selling US melodic rock gods Foreigner, but also as a solo artist as this remastered reissue by Rock Candy Records of his second solo release "Long Hard Look" highlights.

It was the fall of 1989 - one year after Foreigner made solid work on Inside Information, when Lou Gramm made another great solo album following Ready Or Not. This "Long Hard Look", in my opinion, is the better of the two solo efforts.
The record scored two successful Billboard singles such as "True Blue Love" and "Just Between You And Me", but all the tracks were potential hits.
The album impressively jolts in with "Angel With A Dirty Face", which as commercial as it comes, could have been a killer single as well.

LOU GRAMM - Long Hard Look [Rock Candy remaster] (2013) booklet

Helped in the songwriting by talented Bruce Turgon (who also play bass and did backing vocals), we find gems such as "Hanging On My Hip", "Broken Dreams", "Warmest Rising Sun" or "I'll Know When It's Over".
It's that renowned vocal though that draws the listener in and won't let go; upon listening to this album you kinda get transfixed into that golden late '80s period when this genre was a global success and ruled the radio.
Lots of melodic keyboard lines are complemented by fine guitar licks with the likes of Dann Huff and Vivian Campbell adding their own unique touches to the equation.

LOU GRAMM - Long Hard Look [Rock Candy remaster] (2013) back cover

Few singers could touch Lou Gramm in his prime; "Long Hard Look" has the hard edge and hot vocal that was such a contribution to Foreigner. It also shows a maturation of style and interpretation that put him in the company of very few as far as quality of performance and breadth of talent.
Excellent remaster by Rock Candy.

01 - Angel With A Dirty Face
02 - Just Between You And Me
03 - Broken Dreams
04 - True Blue Love
05 - I'll Come Running
06 - Hangin' On My Hip
07 - Warmest Rising Sun
08 - Day One
09 - I'll Know When It's Over
10 - Tin Soldier

Lead Vocals: Lou Gramm
Guitars: Vivian Campbell, Dann Huff, Nils Lofgren, Peter Maunu, Bruce Turgon
Drums, Percussion: Benny Gramm, Lou Gramm
Bass: Pino Palladino, Bruce Turgon
Keyboards: Gary Corbett, Peter Wolf
Backing Vocals: Ina Wolf, Darryl Phinnessee, Phillip Ingram, Merry Clayton, Robin Clark, Maxi Anderson



Thursday, January 16, 2014

AXEL RUDI PELL - Into The Storm (2014)

AXEL RUDI PELL - Into The Storm (2014) full

* Limited Editon Digipak - check Comments!

"Into The Storm" is AXEL RUDI PELL fifteenth studio release with his own band, and it is fitting that his silver anniversary release is one of his strongest. He is joined on this album by many familiar names: vocalist Johnny Gioeli, keyboardist Ferdy Doernberg, and bassist Volker Krawczak.
Due to scheduling conflicts drummer Mike Terrana left the band, but Axel found a more than excellent replacement; ex- Rainbow, Blue Oyster Cult and Black Sabbath Bobby Rondinelli, a musician who can be named as one of the most underrated skin bashers still alive.

You may like or not Axel's musical style, but an artist of his calibre that remains active and successful in the scene for more than 25 years - especially in this day and age - deserves some respect. He still hangs the 'sold out' sign at grand venues and his records are one of the most purchased on physical format.
Prove of this is that "Into The Storm" will be available on CD (standard and Limited-edition digipak), double gatefold LP with colored vinyl, digital download, a box including merchandising, etc.
Well, talking about the music packed in "Into The Storm", Rudi Pell probably generated one of his most metalized Rainbow-like albums of his career. In overall, the song structures are quite similar to Rudi's earlier releases, meaning hard pounding songs of hard n' heavy, a power ballad, a cover and an epic majestic ending to close down the wall.
Nonetheless, "Into The Storm" introduced a kind of quality and atmosphere that are surreal. To my ears, this new recording features more explosive guitars, more solid vocal performances, more well-crafted songs, more of everything that has allowed the German guitar virtuoso to stay on top of the game for more than a quarter century.

AXEL RUDI PELL - Into The Storm (2014) inside

Pell's paramount ability to write catchy and anthem kind of songs that easily penetrate into any hard rocker soul, this time seem to have been reinforced by a more dynamic space for the arrangements and a sparkier production.
From the bestial metal riffs of “Tower of Lies” and the razor sharp hooks of “Long Way To Go”, to the soft piano strains and muti-layered vocals on the ballad “When Truth Hurts”, Pell & Co. prove that they have not lost their edge or their creativity despite delivering such a massive catalog of music.
The band’s vast experience shows not only in the songwriting an quality of performance, but also in the production and mix technique. The sound is crisp and clear – edgy when it suits the music, melodic and subtle when the track calls for the other end of the audio dynamics.

“Long Way To Go” is the true showpiece of the album. Axel’s guitars - both solo and rhythm, are big and clean, and the well traveled Johnny Gioeli make evident he still is a monster of a vocalist. Doernberg, Krawczak and Rondinelli (with great fills) complete the song perfectly, giving it a sturdy backbone.
“Burning Chains” lets Gioeli stretch his range, while Axel lets his guitars take more of a backup role to the driving precision of the rhythm section (although Pell’s lead break is staggeringly good).
The 7 minute plus “Touching Heaven” has a bit of an old school feel to it yet features modern flourishes, and the band’s remake of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey My My” is one of the better covers of this song ever done (with Gioeli’s vocals as the high point).
The epic title track is simply that: epic. Although turned out to be gradually monotonic right up to its end, undoubtedly rocks with very good atmospheres through some Arabian / desert infused journey of clandestine and mystery.

AXEL RUDI PELL - Into The Storm (2014) cd photo

Axel Rudi Pell never disappoints, and "Into The Storm" is one of his best recordings. It is true that Pell isn't turning tables, keeping to his formula that has been bringing him only success and achievements.
However, this disc towards a bit more to foundational British Hard Rock stylings. Somehow the music on "Into The Storm" is fresh and new, yet it feels immediately familiar, another step on the sonic journey led by one of the true greats in the hard rock / metal world.
To paraphrase the covered artist here (Neil Young), Axel Rudi Pell 'has not burned out', nor shown any signs of fading away.
Very recommended to all fans of melodic classic guitar driven rock 'n roll.

01. The Inquisitorial Procedure
02. Tower Of Lies
03. Long Way To Go
04. Burning Chains
05. When Truth Hurts
06. Changing Times
07. Touching Heaven
08. High Above
09. Hey Hey My My
10. Into The Storm
11. White Cats [Opus #6 Scivolare] (Digipak Bonus Track)
12. Way to Mandalay (Digipak Bonus Track)

Johnny Gioeli - Vocals
Axel Rudi Pell - Guitar
Ferdy Doernberg - Keyboards
Volker Krawczak - Bass
Bobby Rondinelli - Drums



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

CULLOODEN - Silent Scream (2014)

CULLOODEN - Silent Scream (2014) full


From southern Sweden, CULLOODEN has been working on their debut album "Silent Scream" with producer Anders Theo Theander since two years ago. Formed by Fredrik Joakimsson (Vocals, Guitars), lead guitarist Jonas Ekestubbe, Michael Södergren (Bass) and Theander also providing the drums (he is a skilled player), the guys have delivered a kickin' modern melodic progressive metal album here.

The music of Cullooden is quite aggressive, but excepting the basic metallized foundation, the other elements are somewhat nuanced, and as said, really, really melodic. The modern approach comes from the more assertive heaviness without sounding coarse, while the prog edge is subtle as shifts in tempo and signatures so well blended into the song structures to develop with a degree of ease and surprise.
"Embrace Your Destiny" is a good example of this when it shifts gears about the two-third mark with a groove heavy, guitar ripping, instrumental section.
If there are a handful of tracks on this album that would indisputably be considered prog metal, it would be the opening track "Heaven Feels so Hollow" which starts just like a Fates Warning song, and plays just like one, but rife with many catchy hooks typical of Hard Rock, especially in the infectious chorus.
Further along is "Endless Tears", which happens to contain memorable nuances and classy arrangements reminiscent of Circus Maximus, excellent vocals in the Seventh Wonder style and thought-provoking lyrics. This song is true progressive metal.

"The Progress" is quite different to anything heard so far, and takes a much more groove-driven approach to the riff work which, overlaid by soaring vocal melodies, makes for a powerful and emotional listening experience. In parts, Fredrik switches from the masterful grasp of vocal melody that he has proved to have to an effective aggressive approach.

CULLOODEN - Silent Scream (2014) inside

One of the highlights is "Star Of The Night”. The opening keyboards and guitar melody is beautiful and catchy, with elaborated vocal parts and busy instrumentation.
And if you're a fan of lead guitar solos, "Silent Scream" has bunches of them. Delivered by Jonas Ekestubbe, they are quite innovative and entertaining throughout. But his guitar structure is quite lethal over all, often setting the tone of songs at the start as with "Our Only Desire". It starts with some delicate guitar play leading to a rather steady unswerving arrangement, until he rips of his lead.

Cullooden's "Silent Scream" is definitely packed with really good sounds making for a creative and entertaining listen, clearly prog metal oriented but with many refreshing twists, lots of melody and attractive riffs.
Apart from the aforementioned bands cited as influence, Cullooden's style reminds me of another great Swedish band: do you remember A.C.T's and their very good CD Today's Report (1999)? Well, Cullooden sound a lot like them in their more melodic moments.
Cullooden's "Silent Scream" launches the prog metal year 2014 with a record that sets the bar high for other bands of the genre to follow.
Quite Recommended.

01 - Heaven Feels So Hollow
02 - Drowning in Silence
03 - Endless Tears
04 - Embrace Your Destiny
05 - Our Only Desire
06 - The Progress
07 - Take Hold Of Your Fear
08 - An Interesting Fact
09 - Welcome To Wonderland
10 - Star Of The Night

Fredrik Joakimsson - Vocals, Guitars
Jonas Ekestubbe - Guitar
Michael Södergren - Bass
Anders Theo Theander - Drums, Production



ALICE COOPER - Hey Stoopid Expanded Remastered Edition (2013)

ALICE COOPER - Hey Stoopid Expanded Remastered Edition (2013) full


I should do this review quite short: "Hey Stoopid", by ALICE COOPER, is amongst the top-10 best Melodic Hard Rock albums of 1991 (and that was a terrific year for the genre), besides, one of the best produced records of all time.
This jewel has been reissued by Cherry Red / Hear No Evil with a bunch of bonus tracks, and simply put; you must have it.

The '80s had been a hard time for Alice Cooper, because he struggled to update his style & sound for the new decade. 1988’s Trash proved to be a successful affair with great rocking songs and in view of that album’s acceptance and success, the exact same template was used for follow-up "Hey Stoopid".
But man, now in an incredible way: Cooper brought the cream of the scene crop this time around.
"Hey Stoopid" not only features the co-writing credits of Jack Ponti, Kelly Keeling, Al Pitrelli, Desmond Child, Nikki Sixx and Jim Vallance, but also monster musicians playing like Joe Satriani, Vinnie Moore, Steve Vai, Slash, Stan Bush, Ozzy and countless more.
Even many songs are arranged by the 'traditional AOR' guru Joey Carbone.

And production... ah, if you want to hear how a lush, glossy, slick Melodic Hard Rock album should sound, just put "Hey Stoopid" on your player.
Peter Collins - also called 'Mr. Big' - is one of the best Rock producers ever, having worked with Queensrÿche (Operation: Mindcrime, Empire), Rush, Bon Jovi, etc, but in my opinion, "Hey Stoopid" is his milestone behind the desk.

ALICE COOPER - Hey Stoopid Expanded Remastered Edition (2013) back cover

The original release of "Hey Stoopid" already sounded stupendous, this 'Expanded Remastered Edition' just enhances this outstanding recording plus 3 great bonus tracks.
You can definitely describe his CD as being a culmination of what the best of American Melodic Hard Rock had to offer, a 10/10 in my book.
A Must Have.

01 - Hey Stoopid
02 - Love's A Loaded Gun
03 - Snakebite
04 - Burning Our Bed
05 - Dangerous Tonight
06 - Might As Well Be On Mars
07 - Feed My Frankenstein
08 - Hurricane Years
09 - Little By Little
10 - Die For You
11 - Dirty Dreams
12 - Wind-Up Toy
13 - Hey Stoopid [Beba Edit] (Bonus Track)
14 - Fire [non-album track] (Bonus Track)
15 - It Rained All Night [non-album track] (Bonus Track)

Alice Cooper: Vocals
Stef Burns, Vinnie Moore, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Slash, Zodiac Mindwarp, Mick Mars: Guitar
Hugh McDonald, Nikki Sixx: Bass
Mickey Curry: Drums
Robert Bailey, John Webster, Jai Winding: Keyboards
Steve Croes: Synclavier
Chris Boardman: String Arrangements
Sherwood Ball, Stan Bush, Kelly Keeling, Ozzy Osbourne, Jack Ponti, Lance Bulen, Scott Bender, Gary Falcone: Backing Vocals

Produced by Peter Collins / mastered by Bob Ludwig



Monday, January 13, 2014

1974 - 1974 & The Death Of The Herald (2013)

1974 - 1974 & The Death Of The Herald (2013) full


1974 is five piece band from Connecticut, USA that conjures up the memories and sounds of classic stadium rock acts from the seventies / eighties such as Kansas, Rush, Yes, early Magnum and more. "1974 & The Death Of The Herald" is their second album and I can see why the band won at the recent CT Grand Band Slam awards.

1974 music is progressive rock, this meaning not only proggy sounding, their style also includes powerful guitar driven riffs, elaborated vocal harmonies and strong melodies on songs mostly clocking around the 4 minute mark. So "1974 & The Death Of The Herald" is not specifically a prog rock album.
The group comprises Mike Forgette on guitar and lead vocals, Tim Moore on drums, Gary Dionne on bass; Adam Clymer on guitar and Angela Piccoli on keys. Tim, Gary and Angela all have their moments at the mic as main singers, but when they come together to create the band's harmonies, that is truly the 'sound' of 1974 and you are sucked into the world they have crafted for you.

The CD begins with "The Great Galactic War", an introduction to the tone of the record, with fantastic harmonies and very sinister riffs. It’s an immediate song that brings you right into the concept story, which then seamlessly transitions into the acoustic strumming of "Phantoms" which sustains its pace with excellent drumming.
"Herald of Life" begins with a gorgeous arpeggio on piano in 6/4 time before the band come together with lovely, lush harmonies. "Building An Empire" then explodes into frame without even a second of pause. It blisters with dual-guitar lead harmonies and a blazing saxophone solo from Connecticut’s Isaac Young. Of note are the key changes underneath Young’s solo, which personifies the record itself.

1974 - 1974 & The Death Of The Herald (2013) band photo

We are shifted into "Essential Arms" which might be the perfect song on the album to achieve a cross-over success: it's so radio-catchy it hurts. It begins with chords played through a sitar pedal and heads straight into a very uptempo snare pattern, giving the song such muscular vigor. At the chorus, Moore sings 'the time is now' as the rest of the band chimes in with harmonies that make you sing right along with them, as infectious a moment as there is on this album. Instead of hitting a traditional bridge-solo-chorus to end the song, we get just the solo after the second verse, and end on that sitar, bringing the song full-circle.

"A New Beginning" is the more jumping song of the lot, with foot-tapping bass lines from Dionne. During the breakdown, the gets busy on the instrumentation. Sung by the powerhouse female vocals of Piccoli, "Vera" is is easily the catchiest song after 'Essential Arms', almost a seventies melodic rocker with vintage keyboards all over.
"Admiral Tackett" introduces bassist Gary Dionne on a bluesy lead vocal as the titular character. It begins with a riff and slide guitar that can only be described as grimy, naughty. It's absolutely one of the highlights on the record. As is the shift to what could be construed as the chorus, with Forgette singing in his best falsetto, with wistful urgency.

"A Dark Thought" is a prog excursion to the English old-school, very melodic, again combining shared lead vocals. "Abduction" follows, with continued dual-guitar solos stretching into the grey oblivion in the lyrics, recalling Canadians Rush.
"Ultimatum" rollicks along, with a vocal-duel between the characters sung by Dionne and Moore. It works really well because the battle between the two fits into the verses and choruses. Nothing is trite, or forced, all flows in great synchronicity.
Ending the album is the title track "The Death of the Herald", by all accounts, the epic piece of the record and one of my favorites. It is a true suite that encompasses everything you would expect from an album / story-closer of a sci-fi prog-rock record. It begins with the band singing in harmony, then moves to its prog-zenith aspirations: heavy bass and guitar, organ, active drums. It's a breathtaking moment of grandiose design while managing to avoid any pretense.

1974 - 1974 & The Death Of The Herald (2013) booklet

"1974 & The Death Of The Herald" is a progressive rock album that can easily can be enjoyed with the random key of you player 'on' as there's a song format on most of the tracks, but as it tells a story, I recommend to heard it from start to finish.
You have odd time signatures, vast tempo changes and flourishes all over in true prog fashion, but the difference between 1974 and the other bands of the genre is in the voices. Four different singers, all gifted, always catchy.
Released at the end of last year by themselves and very well produced, "1974 & The Death Of The Herald" is a really good album with so much guitar balanced with so many sing-a-long moments that will find you humming the melodies endlessly.

01 - The Great Galactic War
02 - Phantoms
03 - Herald Of Life
04 - Building An Empire
05 - Essential Arms
06 - A New Beginning
07 - Vera
08 - Admiral Tackett
09 - The United Earthlands' Assembly
10 - A Dark Thought
11 - Abduction
12 - Ultimatum
13 - Death Of The Herald

Mike Forgette – Guitars, Lead & Backing Vocals
Tim Moore – Drums, Lead & Backing Vocals
Gary Dionne – Bass, Lead & Backing Vocals
Adam Clymer – Guitars
Angela Piccoli – Keyboards, Lead & Backing Vocals



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