Friday, February 28, 2014

JONAS LINDBERG - The Other Side (2014)

JONAS LINDBERG - The Other Side (2014) full


"The Other Side" by JONAS LINDBERG is one of these albums that almost went unnoticed on specialized magazines and websites, and after listening this terrific piece of work I am scratching my head wondering WHY?
Fortunately, at 0dayrox we have a great crew of collaborators with a strong radar signal and we're presenting "The Other Side" here exclusively.

Jonas Lindberg is an extremely young and talented Swedish bass player and producer who, in 2008 at the School of Music in Pitea put together a 4-song recording, 'In Secret Pace', for an exam project. This involved some gifted friends and musicians, but didn't see the light of day until released only in Sweden just last year.
When this new record was being planned, Jonas decided that it would be with a 5 piece band and the name came into being, 'Jonas Lindberg and The Other Side'.

JONAS LINDBERG - The Other Side (2014) logo

Jonas seems to draw influences from many sources, but there are definite nods in the direction of Neo Prog and AOR, a combination rarely developed in the international Rock scene.
Occurs that you need to have a lot of class to mix Prog & AOR; the progressive fans my hate you for being cheesy, and on the other hand AOR aficionados claim for catchiness and breezy melodies.
Well, let me tell you that Jonas Lindberg and his wonderful crew will please both. You will find yourself listening this little gem over and over again.

Lindberg owns the rarely seen ability to combine elaborated music with a commerciality that escapes from the common ground. Try "Where To Begin" for example. It has a lovely beat and that Rhodes-ish dut-dut keyboard we all love, and a main melody that instantly sticks in your head.
All the members in The Other Side have a strong influence of classic AOR (like Toto) and bands from the new wave of Prog, or Neo Prog. Right on the first track "Lies" we can see that blend. And what an amazing song! It has all the great hooks that a band needs and yet many details for you to get lost in. Great early '80s mood too.
Jonas and the guys got a weak spot for the uncommon 5/8 time playing, which is heard in several songs. It is dominating in the title track "The Other Side", which is excellent via luxury patterns but at the same from the multiple harmony vocals and keyboard infusions.
Things get more progressive in "Line no. 18" with some YES vibes in the verse, but it also brings some classic AOR elements all over the superbly crafted arrangements.

JONAS LINDBERG - The Other Side (2014) inside

"Jonas Lindberg and The Other Side" is simply irresistible.
What a great amount of talent put on disc with a flawlessly ease and class, amazingly written, arranged and played with superb musicianship. If you don't have enough, Jonas produced the whole thing with an enviable mastery.
"The Other Side" packs five terrific songs, but we added Lindberg's hard to find first recording - the aforementioned 'In Secret Pace' - for your listening pleasure.
At the moment, these CD's are only available for purchase at Jonas Lindberg website, but believe me, worth every cent.

01 - Lies
02 - The Other Side
03 - Where To Begin
04 - Little Girl
05 - Line no. 18
06 - Time Is Wasted For No Reason
07 - Secret Pace
08 - What A View
09 - Overflown Vision

Jonas Lindberg - bass, guitars, keyboards, vocals & programming
Jonas Sundqvist - vocals
Jonathan Lundberg - drums
Calle Stålenbring - guitars
Michael Ottosson - keyboards



Thursday, February 27, 2014

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

FREE SPIRIT - All The Shades Of Darkened Light (2014) full


Finally it's here; the Melodic Hard Rock sextet from Finland FREE SPIRIT are releasing tomorrow, February 28th, their second album "All The Shades Of Darkened Light". The band's 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 the 11 bombs included in "All The Shades Of Darkened Light", even more anthemic, infectious and biggerrr!

The opening bass line on "Nights Of Paradise" is simply amazing. Sami Hämäläinen sets the tone for the entire track with a thumping bass guitar that drives the song forward, while Sami Alho's distinct and melodic vocals are one of the signatures of this band and shines here. The group harmonies are really tight and this song truly echoes back to when some of the best arena rock bands dominated the '80s. The guitar is hot, melodious and swirling. Amazing opener.
The first single from the new album, "Living Tattoo" (already presented on this blog) finds the band adding a bit of rawness to their sound. It is a bit more crunchy, once again the pulsating bass line is the backbone of the song but it is in time with the drumming of Pasi Koivumäki and the two lock down the track. The guitar work is taken up a notch in this one as both Vesa Yli-Mäenpää and Marko Haapamäki just play like mad men on all cylinders. Free Spirit possesses some of the best vocals in rock and roll. Sami once again does a fantastic job with the singing chores and the band's trademark harmony is once again on full display.

The second single already released off of the CD, "Hysteria", is one of my most listened to songs on a daily basis. This is an all in, foot stomping melodic hard rock song that will knock you on your ass! The keyboard playing of Timo Alho is showcased here and the band really rallies around him. American radio should be latching on to this song as it is just that good.

The guitars at the start of "Ever Come True" are a little darker than what we are used to from the band. It creates a new edge to their sound and pushes them in a new direction. I am really digging this song a lot and love the dueling vocal harmonies that crop up in the middle of the track.
The opening crunch of "The Dew Of The Rose" really sets it up as a true arena rock song. This is something I have not heard in many years and it has been missing from the music scene. Free Spirit avoids the pitfalls by not toning down their song but instead really emphasizing the 'rock' in arena rock. The band really shows their mastery of the vocal harmonies as it sounds like the entire song is comprised of them in a soaring way.
"Turn On The Night" is simply amazing. Oh my goodness I love the start to this track!!! It is so simple but damn it is fantastic as it sets up something I have not heard in ages…. a 'true' power ballad. I mean, the real definition of a true power ballad with an AOR perfume.

"Burning Love" is another highlight inspired by the glory days when this type of catchy melodic rock songs where massively played on the radio. In "Carry On" Sami's vocals reach a bigger range, and my god what a great harmonized chorus!! It grabs you at first listen.
"Fever" is another foot stomping, pure rockin' song that will blow your mind. This would be another huge hit on the radio as well, with a fantastic guitar riff akin Brother Firetribe or H.E.A.T. and the solo is something you do not hear many bands do nowadays. This is a perfect example of what melodic hard rock truly is.

"Silence" is a killer midtempo with a haunting AOR vocal performance from Sami and we can hear him really belt this one out. The portion where it is just his hushed singing and the keyboard fills really slows the song down for it to just ramp up again. This track is perfection and would be a 'lighters in the air' tune if it was played live.
The track that closes out the album, "Storyline", is a vintage Free Spirit song as it has a pumping bass line, amazing vocals, strong guitars, prominent keyboards and some of the best vocal harmonies in the music industry today. It is the perfect song to end the experience of this CD on as it really further establishes what makes this band unique among all their peers and solidifies what makes them a great act.

FREE SPIRIT - All The Shades Of Darkened Light (2014) back cover

Free Spirit hits it out of the park with "All The Shades Of Darkened Light", and it is an amazing follow up to their debut but one billion times better.
Although in the same wagon of the new blood from the Scandinavian Melodic Hard Rock scene, I can truly say that these guys craft a sound like nothing else going on in music today. Everything is catchy, polished, melodic, helped by a top class production.
Without a doubt, Free Spirit's "All The Shades Of Darkened Light" will be amongst the best Melodic Hard Rock releases this year.

01 - Nights Of Paradise
02 - Living Tattoo
03 - Hysteria
04 - Ever Come True
05 - The Dew Of The Rose
06 - Turn On The Night
07 - Burning Love
08 - Carry On
09 - Fever
10 - Silence
11 - Storyline

Sami Alho - Lead & Backing Vocals
Vesa Yli-Mäenpää - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Marko Haapamäki - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Timo Alho - Keyboards
Sami 'Nasu' Hämäläinen - Bass
Pasi Koivumäk - Drums
thanks @jhuskins69



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

FREEDOM CALL - Beyond (2014)

FREEDOM CALL - Beyond (2014) full


Germans FREEDOM CALL – a.k.a. the happiest metal band in the universe – are back with a new studio offering, their eighth overall, titled "Beyond".
If you know the band (their very comprehensive double Greatest Hits from last year was posted HERE) you probably know what to expect from "Beyond"; their music is inspired by acts like Helloween but takes it all to a much melodic ground.

For those unfamiliar with Freedom Call, the group was originally created by Chris Bay (vocals, guitar) and former Gamma Ray drummer Dan Zimmerman (who has since departed). Sonically, they blend powerful metallic guitar riffs with sing-a-long choruses and occasionally blinding keyboards, all extremely contagious. Try to envision Helloween / Avantasia meets Axel Rudi Pell with Saigon Kick harmonies.
Between Chris Bay's melodic guitar work and his high-pitched vocals, it's hard to sit still when a Freedom Call album is playing. Lyrics are a bit cheesy, yes, it's a little weird to hear battle hymns sung in such a high octave, but it's so damned hard to resist when these guys get going.

"Union of the Strong" is a powerful opener and statement about this album; right off the bat, that happy sing-a-long style is in full force and this track easily will be a winner in live shows.
"Knights of Taragon" starts with a trademark Freedom Call chorus and all seems right on track. The style is a tad heavier, recalling the '90s German scene via a nice crunchy style just before the captivating bridge to the solo. It continues on "Heart of a Warrior" more epic and at the same time bouncy and commercial.

FREEDOM CALL - Beyond (2014) back cover

But as said, Freedom Call adds hard (melodic) rock touches to their happy metal, and follower "Come On Home" is a right proof of that; a catchy anthem with a quirky attitude and a stadium-ready chorus adorned with stabbing keyboards.
Later, "In the Rhythm of Light" is even more hard rock with an American touch in the sharp riff and the harmony vocals.

"Beyond" is a very solid, totally enjoyable addition to the Freedom Call discography and for fans of that kind of Euro power metal that never gets too heavier and rigid.
It's a record plenty of highly memorable 'sing-songy' tracks that you expect to hear from this band, very dynamic and catchy, quite commercial, easy to the ears and with a crisp production & mix.

01 - Union of the Strong
02 - Knights of Taragon
03 - Heart of a Warrior
04 - Come On Home
05 - Beyond
06 - Among the Shadows
07 - Edge of the Ocean
08 - Journey Into Wonderland
09 - Rhythm of Light
10 - Dance Off the Devil
11 - Paladin
12 - Follow Your Heart
13 - Colours of Freedom
14 - Beyond Eternity

Chris Bay - vocals, guitar
Lars Rettkowitz - guitar, keyboards
Ilker Ersin - bass
Ramy Ali - drums

FREEDOM CALL - Beyond (2014) CD photo



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

UNITED NATIONS - '2014' (2014)

UNITED NATIONS - '2014' (2014) full

* CD version

Many of you fellow AOR collectors will remember the Stoke-on-Trent, UK, based band UNITED NATIONS and their one and only album released through the little label Magnet in 1985. Soon after, the group went their separate ways.
Now 30 years later, original band members Pete Hankey on bass, Chris Stonier on keyboards and drummer Chris Mooney are back, with new vocalist Lee Small (Shy, Snowfall) and Neil 'Fred' Thomas on guitar, a fresh contract with SteelHeart Records and brand new music; a CD simply entitled "2014".

There's one reason for the title of the new album: half of the songs are re-recorded key tracks from their '85 vinyl, updated to this new era. But don't be fooled, even the new songs (recently written) are absolutely moulded in the classic AOR / Melodic Rock sound in Britain during the Eighties.
You can't go wrong with titles like "The Night That Lasts Forever", "Black Heart", "First Move" or "You Cheated", all filled with melodic guitars, bouncy rhythm section and tons of keyboards in the best Tobruk, Shy, Monro, Peroux tradition, all bands contemporary with United Nations back in the day.

New penned tunes such as "Shock to the System", "Too Much Information" and "Looks That Kill" have the same UK AOR blueprint from the good all times with harmony choruses all over. They offer solid ballads as well on "I'll Be Your Man" and the old but current mid-tempo "We Will Live Forever".

Although self-managed, "2014" was really well produced by veteran Paul Hulme with a warm output enhancing the melodies, which rule here. The guys are seasoned musicians and know what this genre is all about.
The bull's-eye by the original members of United Nations for this recording was the hiring of Lee Small to handle the lead vocals. With his smooth tone which perfectly fits these velvet melodies he raises the bar of the final product.
Only available on physical CD as part of the "Lost UK Jewels" series distributed by AOR Heaven Records - strictly limited to 500 copies - "2014" by United Nations is a no-brainer purchase for fans of Classic British AOR.
Hurry up, it will be a collectors item soon.
Very Recommended.

UNITED NATIONS - '2014' (2014) back cover

01. The Night That Lasts Forever
02. Looks That Kill
03. You Cheated
04. I'll Be Your Man
05. First Move
06. Black Heart
07. Shock to the System
08. We Will Live Forever
09. Too Much Information
10. Violation of a Nation
11. Welcome to the Real Time World

Lee Small - Vocals
Chris Stonier - keyboards
Neil 'Fred' Thomas - guitars
Pete Hankey - bass
Chris Mooney - drums



Monday, February 24, 2014

VANISHING POINT - Distant Is The Sun (2014)

VANISHING POINT - Distant Is The Sun (2014) full


It has been seven years since the last VANISHING POINT album and fans have been anticipating new material from this loved Australian progressive metal act. The wait and expectation supported by the assertions from the band, proclaiming: “it’s a little more technical, more progressive, more of a step forwards compared to how we were previously, yet keeping our melodic feel intact. But at the same time, our existing fans will love it as well.”
So... has "Distant Is The Sun" lived up to expectations?

The answer is a big Yes. This new album exemplifies the high quality of musicianship that surround this underrated band in the prog metal world. "Distant Is The Sun" flows with not only compelling guitar riffs but also has lyrics that are wrapped around the great melodic vocals of Silvio Massaro with true mastery.
If you are a big fan of the '80s you will love this CD, as while they are quite heavy and technical with an updated sound, the melodies from good ol' times are present on every bit.
The album as a whole is grandiose in its delivery and definitely more technical like it was described by the band members, but at the same time much more melodic than ever before.

VANISHING POINT - Distant Is The Sun (2014) back cover

The title track is a spectacular example with its strong guitar riffs sprinkled throughout met with slow, melodic piano elements. The aggression of the guitar work and the bombastic rhythm section contrasts with the sweet innocence of the keys and the infectious chorus makes it a stand out track.
"Distant Is the Sun" really shows the guitars shining, with tracks such as "Circle Of Fire"' (with special guest Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica / Northern Kings on lead vocals) excelling with super fast paced instrumentals, sharp riffs and solos scattered throughout.
Every song manages to make the instrumentals breakthrough in some way, while the vocals reach a new level with the occasional high scream rearing its head.

But to me, one song sums up how good this lot are. It is called "Let the River Run" and it had me on first listen. I have yet to be able to get through it without singing along. It is a lyrical and musical triumph of a track which I found inspired by Styx. It is a song that deserves to be a huge anthemic stadium hit.
Vanishing Point also excells on power ballads as reflected on the compelling "Story Of Misery". Another great slower (midtempo) number is the super melodic "As December Fades" with an Allen / Lande touch yet much, much more catchy.
The tail end of the album is engaged with uptempo compositions like the orchestrated "Handful Of Hope" and the more epic "Walls Of Silence", closing with a wonderful, acoustic fingerpicking cut named "April".

VANISHING POINT - Distant Is The Sun (2014) cd photo

If you never heard Vanishing Point and read somewhere about them as a power metal outfit, discard that tagline. This is a prog metal band with moments of aggression, yes, but extremely melodic, polished and even catchy.
"Distant Is The Sun" is their best album to date and surely amongst the best of the year in terms of quality on all departments. It is so refreshing to hear such inspired lyrics intertwined with moving vocals and progressive guitar riffs plenty of taste. The music is majestic and uplifting, awesomely produced and mixed.
Hopefully, this terrific album will give them a second chance and opportunity to be heard massively all over the planet.
Very Recommended.

01 - Beyond Redemption (intro)
02 - King Of Empty Promises
03 - Distant Is The Sun
04 - When Truth Lies
05 - Circle Of Fire
06 - Let The River Run
07 - Denied Deliverance
08 - Story Of Misery
09 - Era Zero
10 - Pillars Of Sand
11 - As December Fades
12 - Handful Of Hope
13 - Walls Of Silence
14 - April

Silvio Massaro - Vocals
Chris Porcianko - Guitar
James Maier - Guitar
Simon Best - Bass
Christian Nativo - Drums
James Maier - Keyboards



GUNNER - Keep Fighting (2014)

GUNNER - Keep Fighting (2014) full


After a promising debut released by Retrospect Records USA, Argentinian melodic hard rockers GUNNER have a new record label and a new album out: "Keep Fighting".
The group started life more than ten years ago as a covers band under the moniker of Gunner Sixx (dropped the 'Sixx' as requested by Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx) playing songs from acts such as Poison, Bon Jovi, Mr. Big, Europe and other related bands. This gives you a good idea on what sort of original material Gunner have been writing; pure eighties inspired American melodic hard rock.

Although at first glance the quintet comes out as a glam metal band, big hair, fancy clothes and even fancier colors, music-wise, however, Gunner has a Melodic Rock feel with an AOR touch at places.
For this record, they've have a new stable member in keyboardist Marcos Prevalil, and his contribution together with an European approach in the songwriting on some material, resulted in a more stylized sound.
Indeed, "Keep Fighting" mixes US and Euro Melodic Hard Rock, and all quite well rounded for a band coming from a non-traditional country for the genre.

GUNNER - Keep Fighting (2014) inside

Upon first play one is able to make out that Gunner have at least two formidable aces in their ranks, one being their lead singer Aaron who uncovers a very impressive vocal range (even by melodic rock standards) which he puts to good use delivering a variety of vocal harmonies and intense choruses.
The other major weapon in Gunner's arsenal is founder and guitarist Burgallo who is a versatile but consistently melodic shredder; not only does he place melodic guitar lines during the opening riffs, verses and choruses but he seems to have mastered a plethora of solo modes.

As said, the mix of the American style on consistent rockers such as the Mr. Big influenced "In Your Eyes" and the quick "On The Highway", the King Kobra-like "Strickin 'till Surrender" or the Danger Danger smelling title track "Fight To Survive" work really well with the more European sounding "In Your Eyes" (Pretty Maids come to mind), the solid AOR mid-tempo "Until She Comes To You" and "From Heaven" and the dynamic "Restless Soul".
On the ballad (with some acoustics) "Where The Love Is Gone" they mix the best of both worlds, where I can hear a Swedish touch ala Bad Habit with a hint of Americans Trixter.

GUNNER - Keep Fighting (2014)band photo

You can't ask originality on "Keep Fighting", simply because Gunner loves traditional Melodic Hard Rock / AOR from both sides of the Atlantic ocean, and let me tell you these young dudes have learned the lesson perfectly. The songs are solid, well arranged and played, while production is good for a small label.
As title says, Gunner 'Keeps Fighting' to impose these genres in South America, and represents the spirit of their music, which, judging this second effort quality, easily could provide them an international jump.
This is a CD that should satisfy long term fans of traditional Melodic Hard Rock, AOR and American-Hard, providing the ideal example of an album that is diverse but consistently melodic.

01 - Escape to Night / Run & Go
02 - In Your Eyes
03 - Fight To Survive
04 - On The Highway
05 - Restless Soul
06 - Until She Comes To You
07 - Hot To The Top
08 - From Heaven
09 - Strickin 'till Surrender
10 - Dark Angel
11 - Where The Love Is Gone
12 - Heartless

Aaron Briglia - vocals
Rodrigo Bugallo - guitar, backing vocals
German Calero - drums
Pablo Ansaldi - bass, backing vocals
Marcos Prevalil - keyboards



Sunday, February 23, 2014

VANDEN PLAS - Chronicles Of The Immortals, Netherworld Path One (2014)

VANDEN PLAS - Chronicles Of The Immortals, Netherworld Path One (2014) full


Germans VANDEN PLAS is one of these increasingly rare occasions where a band is formed in 1986 and still is playing in the same line-up, 28 years later! After having explored more progressive waters in the last few albums, their new CD in four years "Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld (Path 1)" - just released by Frontiers Records - is showing a bit of a different side of the band, a more introspective one that de-emphasizes both progressive technicality and also heaviness.
That being said Vanden Plas have not gone soft or mainstream, but they are offering here a more accessible, melodic and intriguing Prog Metal album.

Despite the four year break, Vanden Plas have been anything but sitting around, working with one of Germany’s most popular sci-fi and horror authors, Wolfgang Hohlbein, on a theatrical musical based on his Chronicles of the Immortals (Die Chronik der Unsterblichen) series, giving the band another opportunity to play out their theatre experience.
This album now is Vanden Plas' adaptation of the project to disc, translating it into the Vanden Plas context and part one of a two duology, with the second part following in 2015. The theme of "Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld (Path 1)" examines the essential question of human existence: What is immortality?

As for the music, this is strong progressive metal created with broad and deep strokes from vocals to immense orchestration to big riffs, sizzling leads and bombastic drums. Yet, the music also has a heavy, dark, character to it, reflecting the content of the story.
The good thing about Vanden Plas is the focus on the 'song' instead unnecessary instrumental masturbation. This makes the record flow in great manner with the band achieving a perfect mix out of musical complexity, hard, powerful music and catching melodies.

The CD starts with an orchestral intro and spoken words (done by Holbein himself), a dramatic introduction to the story. "The Black Knight" follows with dense keyboards building the base for this song while a heavy riff gives the needed aggressiveness. It's also Andy Kuntz's fantastic vocals which turns this album a spellbound experience, crystal clear and still with a lot on passion and strength.
An almost brutal riff opens "Godmaker" like a thunder, before the song continues a bit more silent with vocals and piano, but of course this doesn't last for too long. A sharp riffing develops to a high level and make it a 5 minutes prog metal masterpiece.

After all these energetic eruption it is time for a more peaceful tune, "Misery Affection - Prelude", which lead you to the semi-ballad "A Ghosts Requiem" filled with beautiful vocals and a choir carrying a lot of emotions. In the end it gets back to more power and the choral passage finalizes a touching track.
"New Vampyre" is another stunning Vanden Plas composition, before "The King and the Children of lost War" is somehow epic driven by pounding guitars and terrific drum patterns. A highlight.

VANDEN PLAS - Chronicles Of The Immortals, Netherworld Path One (2014) inside cover

"Vision 8ight Misery Affection" starts with one of the most endearing piano introductions you will ever hear and, when the strings join in, it is just delightful. The vocals are graceful and full of magic, when the female voice joins in to perform the duet there is something almost ethereal about the performance that plucks at your heartstrings.
"Soul alliance" rapidly becomes one of the most intense and dynamic tracks on the album, pure progressive metal that takes influences from all over and turns them into one prodigiously coherent whole, the keyboards firing licks from all different angles and the guitar burning bright, hard and very heavy.

I am afraid that we have come to the final instalment of this totally immersive experience (for it is surely more than just music) provided by the group of musical sorcerers also known as Vanden Plas; "Inside". As is the case throughout the rest of the album there is no pause or break before the track is introduced to us by a smooth, repeated guitar note and orchestral strings, however, it is not long before that incredibly intense wall of sound that has become a hallmark of this record is unleashed upon the audience, monster drums and an epic riff with some delightful squeals that hit your senses hard.

It is way too early to say 'one of the best Prog Metal albums of the year' when we are only in February but, after experiencing the aural splendour of "Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld (Path 1)", it is going to take something that can provide a Eureka moment to replace it from the top-10 in this reviewer's list.
Even though at first listen the record is easy to the ears and very accessible, repeated listens reveal a magnificent amount of subtle details (headphone listen highly recommended) that make up the whole, with each guitar note, every drum beat, every keyboard and piano sequence having its perfect spot, with Andi Kuntz characteristic voice over it, showing the true mastery of Vanden Plas.
A band that continues to move from high to high, and "Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld (Path 1)" not only ranks amongst their finest moments, but in the Prog Metal scene in years to come.
Highly Recommended.

Vision 1ne
Vision 2wo The Black Knight
Vision 3hree Godmaker
Vision 4our Misery affection prelude
Vision 5ive A ghost requiem
Vision 6ix New Vampyre
Vision 7even The King and the Children of lost War
Vision 8ight Misery affection
Vision 9ine Soul alliance
Vision 10n Inside

Andy Kuntz (Vocals)
Stephan Lill (Guitar)
Günter Werno (Keyboards)
Torsten Reichert (Bass)
Andreas Lill (Drums)



Friday, February 21, 2014

OVERLAND - Epic (2014)

OVERLAND - Epic (2014) full


“Radio, Radio … Play that song … Take me back to when I was young” is the lovable chorus in the first track of OVERLAND’s new album "Epic" (to be released on March 3) and it captures the spirit of the record perfectly.
Steve Overland shines in FM but also with this, his own band, where Steve finds room for his true love; Classic Melodic Rock / AOR, and "Epic" is a masterpiece of the genre.

A quick look at the personnel involved on "Epic" should be a guide to what to expect; Christian Wolff (Rob Moratti band) on guitars & keyboards, Larry Antonino on bass and Jay Schellen on drums (both from Unruly Child).
Add to this a strong supporting cast as well with Mike Slamer (Streets, Seventh Key) handling additional guitars, bass, keyboards, production and arrangement, Billy Greer (Kansas, Seventh Key) and Billy Trudel (The City, Dirty White Boy) singing backup, and Fredrik Bergh (Street Talk, Bloodbound) lending additional keys on two tracks.
Holy Cow... Mike Slamer... Billy Greer... This is a record which can't fail and it doesn't!
From the awesome "Radio Radio" through the slightly heavier "If Looks Could Kill" (can't get that one out of my head) all the way to "Time for Letting Go" this is truly wonderful Rock music.

It's so great to hear Overland emote over keyboard-drenched, hook-laden AOR songs as if it was 1985 all over again.
Crucially though the pristine production (Mike Slamer is a God) keeps things crisp and current and you're for a treat here.
The aforementioned "If Looks Could Kill" and "Down Comes The Night" are arguably the strongest tracks on the release, filled with all the goodies that make a song truly radio friendly and melodic. Steve’s vocals are spot on, and the rest of the band feels enthusiastic and energetic.
Almost all of the tracks are potential big arena rockers – "Radio, Radio" and "Stranded" are prime examples, and will carry most listeners into toe-tapping bliss.
"Rags To Riches" is a little grittier, bringing a hint of bluesy melodies (and a really great guitar solo) to the sound, while "Liberate My Heart" and "If Your Heart’s Not In It" simply soars. "Rock Me" is rich in keyboards and powerful bass to the forefront, then "Wild" is a shiny and bright vocal gem.

"Epic" makes justice to its name: it's the best Overland (the band) recording ever, and one of the best Classic Melodic Rock / AOR albums from the last twenty years.
Superbly written tracks and flawless delivery make it easy on the ears, and Steve Overland proves himself to still be at the top of his Melodic Rock game. The band is awesome as well, dishing out big guitar hooks, epic (indeed) keys / synths and driving bass & drum lines. Slamer's production is marvelous, with his trademark magical touch.
Is it too much adventurous qualify "Epic" as masterpiece for the genre? Not at all, if we talk about Classic Melodic Rock / AOR, this CD is pure gold.
A Must Have.

01. Radio Radio
02. If Looks Could Kill
03. Stranded
04. Rags To Riches
05. Liberate My Heart
06. Down Comes The Night
07. If Your Heart’s Not In It
08. Rock Me
09. So This Is Love
10. Wild
11. The End Of The Road
12. Time For Letting Go

Steve Overland - Lead & Background Vocals
Christian Wolff - Lead guitars, Rhythm guitars, Acoustic guitars, Keyboards
Mike Slamer - Additional Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Larry Antonino - Bass
Jay Schellen - Drums
Billy Greer (Kansas/Seventh Key) - Background Vocals
Billy Trudel - Background Vocals
Fredrik Bergh - Additional Keys on 5, 6



HEART - Fanatic Live From Caesars Colosseum (2014)

HEART - Fanatic Live From Caesars Colosseum (2014) full


Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, better known as HEART, celebrated the release of their 14th studio album Fanatic with a very special performance at the Caesars Colosseum in Windsor, Ontario, performing the new songs and timeless hits like "Alone", "Crazy On You" and "Barracuda" with brand new arrangements.
"Fanatic Live From Caesars Colosseum" will be released on CD + DVD and Blu-ray on Feb. 25, capturing Heart at their rockin' best.

The success of 'Fanatic' emphatically confirmed the Wilson sisters’ enduring appeal on both sides of the Atlantic. They are one of those rare artists who seem to have stretched their prime years across the decades, holding on to a sizeable core fanbase while adding new ones with each new release.
As a duo with the ability to constantly reinvent (but faithful to their roots), the key to Fanatic was again to bring in producer Ben Mink, who helped the sisters bear witness to past memories and regrets, in the writing and recording process done on the road, between gigs.
The way it used to be done… a burst of inspiration, captured and committed to tape, intense, caught in the moment.

HEART - Fanatic Live From Caesars Colosseum (2014) inside

The sheer freshness and power of Fanatic, never mind Mink’s studio inventiveness, was always going to be a challenge, performed live. It would have been good if it had genuinely been a live performance of the whole album, but you gotta play the hits, right? Well yes, of course you have, and they are all here.
But it's the album’s title track that opens the set, louder, deeper, darker, inched along by bass heavy guitars, brightened by sunbursts of chiming riffs. Then, the seamless, effortless but totally convincing jump back in time to the hard rocking "Heartless" (1976) and the yearning AOR of "What About Love" (1985) suggest the duo can walk between worlds or at least see them clearly, even now.

In a way, those three opening tracks are an introduction to the real power of live music, realism, rawness and dependence on real talent, something that is conceivably lost among the sequencers, Auto-tune and Protools' flatpack assembly of today’s studio recordings.
As an object lesson in how to do a live album, look no further: Heart's "Fanatic Live From Caesars Colosseum" is the perfect answer.
Easily Recommended.

HEART - Fanatic Live From Caesars Colosseum (2014) logo

01 - Fanatic
02 - Heartless
03 - What about love
04 - Mashallah!
05 - Even it up
06 - 59 crunch
07 - Straight on
08 - Dog and butterfly
09 - Walking good
10 - These dreams
11 - Alone
12 - Dear old America
13 - Crazy on you
14 - Barracuda

Ann Wilson: Vocals, Guitar, Flute
Nancy Wilson: Guitar, Vocals, Mandolin
Craig Bartock: Guitar, Vocals
Debbie Shair: Keyboards, Vocals, Percussion
Ben Smith: Drums, Percussion
Dan Rothchild: Bass



HOUSE OF LORDS - Precious Metal (2014)

HOUSE OF LORDS - Precious Metal (2014) full


One of the most awaited releases in the Melodic Hard Rock scene this year is without a doubt "Precious Metal", the new record by the never-failing HOUSE OF LORDS. After three years from their critically acclaimed Big Money, many things happened; James won the fight against cancer, produced the new record for his wife (the great Robin Beck) and he released a new killer solo album last year.
This presumes a little time to work on "Precious Metal", but let me tell you: as usual, James Christian & Co. does not disappoint.

"Precious Metal" rocks, with House Of Lords' traditional blend of pumpin' Eighties guitar-driven Melodic Hard Rock and the sligthly heavier approach of the last records which maintains the band updated and fresh.
You recognize this immediately when you listen to the opener "Battle" - this is a monster of a song with crunchy guitars, powerhouse vocals and a catchy chorus. It's simply the best House of Lords tune I heard in years and the highlight of this CD.

Cuts like "I'm Breakin' Free" and "Action" are typical '80s Hard Rockers plenty of attack, "You Might Just Save My Life Tonight" and "Live Every Day (Like It's The Last)" are designed for the arenas with a truly 'live' vibe, while on the other side you have the very harmonic Melodic Rock songs like "Turn Back The Tide" and "Epic". But also there, you feel a heavier approach.
Another thing that underlines this fact is that you won't find many ballads on "Precious Metal". The title track is the only pure ballad (and a powerful one) featuring a soaring melodic line providing a welcomed alternation to the rest of the songs.

HOUSE OF LORDS - Precious Metal (2014) inside

Soundwise, "Precious Metal" features a solid production by James Christian himself. The rhythm section is tight and also Jimi Bell on guitars ensures that this album comes along with a real kick-ass-sound. His hard riffing and fast guitar play fits perfectly to James' soaring vocals.
Yeah, James Christian screams his heart out on many songs and his raspy, unique voice gives each song the unmistakable House Of Lords stamp.
You can grab this one blindly, another fabulous slab of loud, raucous and majestic Melodic Hard Rock music.
Very Recommended.

01 - Battle
02 - I'm Breakin' Free
03 - Epic
04 - Live Every Day (Like It's the Last)
05 - Permission to Die
06 - Precious Metal
07 - Swimmin with the Sharks
08 - Raw
09 - Enemy Mine
10 - Action
11 - Turn Back the Tide
12 - You Might Just Save My Life

James Christian - vocals
Jimi Bell - guitars
Chris McCarvill - bass
BJ Zampa - drums
Robin Beck - guest vocals



Thursday, February 20, 2014



* Updated

Happily after many years of absence (too many), former Whitesnake guitarist Adrian Vandenberg is finally back with his brand now band VANDENBERG'S MOONKINGS, a whole new group formed with unknown but talented youngsters, especially vocalist Jan Hoving.
Vandenberg's Moonkings self-titled debut will be released next February 24, and believe me, it rocks.

What is good with Adrian Vandenberg beside his passionate guitar playing, is that he's a reliable musician loyal to his roots and a trustworthy songwriter, but he's also a visionary of its own kind, and with this new album he produced exactly the style of music we all hope / imagined secretly and we expected: strong, melodic, organic and real rock music focused on the traditional Hard Rocking spirit yet slightly modernized, but most of all untarnished and uplifting by its genuine juvenile energy.
It's true that the sudden break up of Adrian's short-lived affair Manic Eden (with the great Rudy Sarzo / Tommy Aldridge rhythmic pair and singer Ron Young) had left us with a bitter taste and a unfinished business feeling, but with this first album with the Moonkings the things seems to takes another time, their natural order, like if the stars and the planets were again perfectly in conjunction.


Indeed, it feels while listening to this album what is a like if we lived for once in a perfect universe, the music flows with a pristine fluidity and at the same time exciting but yet familiar, surprising but still comfortable by using many traditional and well known elements as the groovy Hendrix riffage of “Leeches”, the Zeppelin vibes of “Close To You” / “Leave This Town”, or the beautiful acoustic intro for “Out Of Reach”.
Of course the Whitesnake's feel it's in Adrian's veins, as heard on the breathy Coverdalian “One Step Behind” and the over the top “Steal Away”, but also the American modern feel of “Breathing” completed with subtle strings layers and even the Tyketto flavor present at the beginning of “Feel It” .

The sound on the recording is quite flawless, vintage warm but still crisp and delicate, a real studio mastery in the proud method of the grand influential artists and far from amateurish of many cheap releases, with each instrument completely interleaved with each other, all enhanced by keen discreet backing vocals.
Adrian Vandenberg holds a true savoir-faire in crafting those songs, brilliant rockers in a real classic (in every sense of the meaning) album canvas.
The final surprise is the Whitesnake cover of “Sailing Ships” presented in a new arrangement, performed in a new fashion right in between the original version and the acoustic performance as shown in 'Starkers In Tokyo'. And yes, we have the one and only David Coverdale on guest vocals in fine form providing his best signature pipes for this superb cut once written by Vandenberg for '89s 'Slip Of The Tongue'. A killer tribute to their mutual past.


The prevailing thought is that Classic Hard Rock is an old recipe, an apathetic style that will not possess genius or new idea, well my friends, it is well and truly wrong and this album is the obvious and tangible evidence of fact
With the aforementioned highlights and great rockers such as “Lust And Lies”, “Nothing Touches” or “Line Of Fire”, Adrian and his bunch is performing with glory a new fresh and updated prototype of this Rock magic style that should be included in the DNA of every Hard Rock fan.
Highly Recommended.

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrox

01 - Lust And Lies
02 - Close To You
03 - Good Thing
04 - Breathing
05 - Steal Away
06 - Line Of Fire
07 - Out Of Reach
08 - Feel It
09 - Leave This Town
10 - One Step Behind
11 - Leeches
12 - Nothing Touches
13 - Sailing Ships (feat. David Coverdale)

Adrian Vandenberg - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Jan Hoving - Lead Vocals
Sem Christoffel - Bass
Mart Nijen Es - Drums




XNA - When We Changed You (2014)

XNA - When We Changed You (2014) full


XNA is a new melodic progressive rock powerhouse from the USA founded by vocalist David Hussey (Genesis tribute band Gabble Ratchet) and Adam Malin (keyboards and composer of several solo sci-fi rock operas), together with impressive musicians Danny Bryle (guitars), Scott Connor (drums, percussion) and... the famous Billy Sherwood (Yes, Yoso, The Prog Collective) providing bass, additional guitars and producing.
It's really great when a new band releases their first album and it really strikes a chord. Such is the case with XNA's debut "When We Changed You".

You know all those awkward questions that children ask at various stages of their development – ‘why is the sky blue?’, ‘are we nearly there yet?’, ‘where do babies come from?’, ad nauseum – if they ever ask the real toughie: ‘Dad, what is prog rock?’, answer dramatically by slipping this little gem into the CD player and all will be revealed.
Apart from ‘Close To The Edge’ and ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’ you couldn’t find a more definitive progressive rock album if you tried.
For enthusiasts of the genre, and particularly the work of Genesis, Yes ('70s and '80s), Camel or Starcastle, "When We Changed You" is a feast to be devoured at one sitting – the exceptional music demands this – and not bolted down either, but savoured for the masterpiece that it is, an object lesson in how both to compose and perform contemporary progressive rock.

A glimpse at the sumptuous artwork (hardback digi-book with 24 page insert) and a track list with titles such as "Banner Of The Whyte Boar", "The Vale Of Avalon" and the sixteen-plus minutes of "At Childhood’s End", any aficionado will know what's coming.
And it doesn't disappoint.

XNA - When We Changed You (2014) booklet 1

Things get underway with the instrumental, bombastic organ-led and faintly middle-eastern vibe of "At Childhood's Beginning" which is followed by the exceptional title track, again heralded by those majestic keyboards and sensitive guitar themes before the powerful vocals enter. There are sweeping time changes and styles which serves to highlight the skills of the musicians involved. The movement from powerful musical pictures effortlessly into the gentle, melodic side of the music succeeds in maintaining the listener's interest.

The two 'epic' compositions, "Banner of the White Boar" and "At Childhood’s End" are indeed tracks that make you stop in your tracks. The first has an almost medieval structure throughout but features great swathes of keyboards, including harpsichord, guitars and the lyrical storyline is excellent. The sheer power provided by the bass and drums is very dynamic, as it is on all tracks.
"At Childhood’s End" is the final on the CD and sees the band flexing their collective muscles on a stormer of a track, seamlessly veering from the powerful audio scenarios to the most gentle of passages. This track draws the listener in and it is hard to believe that at its completion, 16 minutes have passed, so immersed have you become in the soundscape being presented.

XNA - When We Changed You (2014) booklet 2

Each track tells a story and is musically unique, with changing tempos, themes, and plenty of catchy melodies. The keyboards seem to be the dominant instrument, although there is plenty of great guitar work. The vocalist, David Hussey, has a perfect voice for this kind of music, and he offers the occasional quirkiness that accentuates the lyrics.
The more 'regular in length' songs are exquisite as well.
There’s a definite brilliance in the way "The Vale of Avalon" that constantly juxtaposes aggression with naturalistic warm and tranquility; it feels as if the band is performing centuries ago, in the middle of the countryside. Again, what keeps this record from feeling too run-of-the-mill is its tones, like the chimes of triumph and the morning wonder of nylon strings.
"Annapurna" holds its own with lovely harmonies and arpeggios, and while Hussey can sound a bit overly dramatic at times, his voice still fits perfectly with the music, driven along by the tight knit band of musicians with some amazing flashes of keyboards and guitars.

XNA - When We Changed You (2014) back cover

"When We Changed You" is a stunning piece of Progressive work very close to masterpiece, and the more times you listen to the album, the more you become aware of the superb skills shown by those involved. The ability of XNA to create a retro style, but to make it sound so good and modernistic in its approach is simply amazing.
Multi-instrumentalist Billy Sherwood is as prolific a producer as he is a musician, and he seems to introduce new projects as often as he can. Fortunately, this most recent (for now) venture manages to impress instantly and consistently. An ambitious and amiable excursion into dazzling yet ominous Prog wonderlands, it’s probably the best thing Sherwood has done in a long time.
There's a level of refinement and attention to detail here that is rarer than you'd think, for as virtuosic as most Prog bands are, few make you feel like every note and tonal quality is meticulously chosen.
"When We Changed You" is outstanding Melodic Progressive Rock of the highest calibre. Don't pass this one by!

1 - At Childhood's Beginning
2 - When We Changed You
3 - Banner Of The Whyte Boar
4 - The Flying Dutchman
5 - The Vale Of Avalon
6 - Annapurna
7 - At Childhood's End

David Hussey - vocals
Adam Malin - keyboards
Danny Bryle - guitars
Scott Connor - drums, percussion
Billy Sherwood - bass, additional guitars, production



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A.C.T - Circus Pandemonium [Japan release] (2014)

A.C.T - Circus Pandemonium [Japan release] (2014) full


Swedes A.C.T always have been 'the more Melodic Rock band from the Prog scene' since its foundation 18 years ago. Their '99 debut Today's Report attracted not only progressive fans but also AOR / MR aficionados and still is one of the finest records mixing both genres with class & style.
After a long 8-year hiatus away from the recording studio, this excellent combo returns with a brand new CD; "Circus Pandemonium", released today Feb. 19 only in Japan by Marquee Avalon Records (worldwide dates to be announced).

Just like their album from 2003 which told the story about a building of apartments, the band now deliver on "Circus Pandemonium" (their fifth) a new concept album about a circus at the turn of the 20th Century. I'm glad to say that A.C.T sound inspired and adventurous again, with more fresh ideas to keep the listener in a surprise mood.
A.C.T has recharged the batteries and now give us an album of splendour where the fans are in for a treat with prog-rock finesse, stupendous arrangements and melodic lines.

If you are new to the band, think Saga, It Bites, Queen, Kansas, John Wetton / Asia and alikes with a crisp sound, elaborated guitar work, harmony vocals and lots, lots of keyboards.
It would be fair categorize A.C.T as a Neo-Prog band, but they're much more than that, blending Melodic Rock and even AOR patterns into their musical recipe with ease.

Just listen "Everything's Falling" as example, driven by a new wave of Swedish Melodic Rock pulse adorned with punchy guitars, fast drumming and layers of vocals courtesy of many guests such as female singers Sara Wendelford and Linnea Olnert.
More melodious proggy numbers like "Manager's Wish", "The Funniest Man Alive" or the awesome "A Mother's Love" reminds me recent wonders (also from Sweden) JONO, while quirky cuts like "A Truly Gifted Man" are firmly planted on the early A.C.T style.
There's 15 tracks on offer here, but many are short pieces and the entire disc clocks 56 minutes, flowing wonderfully.

A.C.T - Circus Pandemonium [Japan release] (2014) inside

The classic A.C.T sound has returned on "Circus Pandemonium", combining prog and melodic rock resulting in an unique sound & style.
One of the best surprises last year was the band JONO, if you liked them and never heard A.C.T before, do yourself a favor and grab "Circus Pandemonium" immediately.

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrox

Marquee Avalon Records ~ MICP-11137

01 - Intro
02 - The End
03 - Everything's Falling
04 - Manager's Wish
05 - A Truly Gifted Man
06 - Presentation
07 - Look At The Freak
08 - Argument
09 - Confrontation
10 - A Mother's Love
11 - The Funniest Man Alive
12 - Scared [Japanese Bonus Track]
13 - A Failed Escape Attempt
14 - Lady In White
15 - Freak Of Nature

Herman Saming - Vocals
Jerry Sahlin - Keyboards, Vocals
Ola Andersson - Guitars, Vocals
Peter Asp - Bass, Keyboards
Thomas Lejon - Drums
Sara Wendelford, Linnea Olnert - Backing Vocals

A.C.T - Circus Pandemonium [Japan release] (2014) cd photo



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

DEF LEPPARD - Slang Deluxe Edition iTunes exclusive bonus tracks (2014)

VANGOUGH - Kingdom Of Ruin (2011)


Already presented here, DEF LEPPARD has reissued "Slang" in a Deluxe Edition available on three formats: a double CD, vinyl LP and Digital.
The special iTunes version has everything from the regular release, plus a further set of additional bonus tracks exclusive to this retailer.

What we have here is interesting working demos of "Truth?", "Work It Out" and "All I Want Is Everything", a version of "Move With Me Slowly" with Phil Collen doing some lead vocals, and two tracks provided by Def Leppard for Jeff Beck Tribute Album 'Jeffology'.

Perhaps the most precious are the two songs composed and performed by the band for the British movie 'When Saturday Comes' (1996) and produced by Joe Elliott: "Jimmy's Theme" and the title track "When Saturday Comes".
With these 8 iTunes bonuses, "Slang Deluxe Edition" packs a mammoth bunch of 38 tracks in total.

31/38 - Truth? (Demo)
32/38 - Work It Out (Demo)
33/38 - All I Want Is Everything (Demo)
34/38 - Move With Me Slowly (Phil Chorus Vocal)
35/38 - When Saturday Comes ('When Saturday Comes' OST)
36/38 - Jimmy's Theme ('When Saturday Comes' OST)
37/38 - Cause We Ended As Lovers (Tribute Album 'Jeffology')
38/38 - Led Boots (From the Jeff Beck Tribute Album 'Jeffology')

Joe Elliott – lead vocals, additional guitar and bass
Phil Collen – electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, vocals
Vivian Campbell – electric and acoustic guitars, dulcimer, vocals
Rick Savage – bass, acoustic guitars, synth bass, vocals
Rick Allen – drums, percussion
Thanks to JacenSolo2001



Monday, February 17, 2014

THE WINERY DOGS - Unleashed In Japan 2013 ; The Second Show (2014)

THE WINERY DOGS - Unleashed In Japan 2013 ; The Second Show (2014) full


Monster trio THE WINERY DOGS have released "Unleashed In Japan 2013 : The Second Show"- a DVD / 2CD set featuring their second show ever performed in the Asian country.
Filmed and recorded at the Nippon Seinen-Kan Hall on July 17, 2013, this awesome concert showcase The Winery Dogs' beast rock machine in its full potential.

There is not a single inkling of doubt; ex- Mr. Big & Poison Richie Kotzen, giant drummer Mike Portnoy (Flying Colors, ex- Dream Theater) and Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, ex- David Lee Roth) are top notch musicians.
Which could be the result of the three joining forces into a power trio? Excellent, as it was heard in their fantastic studio debut CD last year, now confirmed on this exceptional double CD Audio recorded live.

The Winery Dogs are just a breath of fresh air - 3 talented cats free to create timeless rock music, with a brilliant playing, singing and writing, performing all the way around across the board.
"Unleashed In Japan 2013 : The Second Show" features songs not present on the debut album such as "Time Machine", "You Can't Save Me", "Shine", "Fooled Around and Fell in Love", and more.

THE WINERY DOGS - Unleashed In Japan 2013 ; The Second Show (2014) back cover

Only released in Japan (last January 2014), the international release of "Unleashed In Japan; The Second Show" is still uncertain.
Highly Recommended.

CD 1:
01 - Elevate
02 - We Are One
03 - Criminal *
04 - One More Time
05 - Time Machine *
06 - Damaged
07 - Six Feet Deeper
08 - Mike Portnoy Drum Solo
09 - The Other Side
10 - Billy Sheehan Bass Solo
11 - You Saved Me
12 - Not Hopeless

CD 2:
01 - Stand (Richie Kotzen's Solo) *
02 - You Can't Save Me *
03 - Shine *
04 - I'm No Angel
05 - The Dying
06 - Regret
07 - MC *
08 - Fooled Around and Fell in Love *
09 - Desire

* Not On Studio Album

Richie Kotzen - lead vocals, guitar, keyboards
Mike Portnoy - drums, choirs
Billy Sheehan - bass, choirs



DON AIREY - Keyed Up (2014)

DON AIREY - Keyed Up (2014) full


Properly entitled "Keyed Up", this is the fourth solo album from legendary keyboardist DON AIREY (Ozzy, Deep Purple, Rainbow) released today.
This new solo CD draws from a range of influences from his past mixing rocking moments, bluesy melodies and classical touches, and while he has a solid band including terrific bassist Laurence Cottle, there are notable guests appearing on the recording such as Rainbow's ex- bandmate Graham Bonnet, and one of the last pieces of work by the late Gary Moore.

Of course, Don's keyboards shine here and work very well with the rhythms from Cottle and drummer Darrin Mooney, while Rob Harris adds precise guitar parts and Carl Sentance (Persian Risk, Krokus) provide the lead vocals.
The album opens with "3 In The Morning" driven by a fluid guitar work and some intense vocals from Sentance, followed by the slower, chunkier track "Beat The Retreat".
Then there's the progressive "Blue Rondo A La Turk", the piece Airey played on his first radio performance aged 14. We can hear a lot of weird sounds here, most from the Hammond organ of which Don is a master.

"Solomon's Song" starts slowly and builds really well, another solid number with melodic lead vocals and multi-harmonies.
One of the highlights is the version of Rainbow's classic "Difficult To Cure" where the guitars are strong, but it's arranged for Don's keyboards to take the centre role including an awesome orchestral break mixed with Hammond riffs.
"Mini Suite" (divided in 3 parts) features great guitar interplay, before switching to piano. There are touches of Gary Moore here, and more on "Adagio", where his distinctive guitar work stands out. This represents one of the very last times that Moore recorded a guitar part, and both tracks are dedicated to his memory.

DON AIREY - Keyed Up (2014) back cover

"Keyed Up" draws from throughout Airey's career and also takes in some of his influences, with twists upon familiar themes. Don has performed with a host of the most important bands in the hard rock canon, from Cozy Powell to Colosseum II, to Black Sabbath to Rainbow to Ozzy Osbourne and of course, ultimately to Deep Purple, via sessions for innumerable peers and this experience and panache illuminates "Keyed Up".
This is Classic Rock made by one of the greatest still alive, and rocks.
Very Recommended.

01. 3 In The Morning
02. Beat The Retreat
03. Blue Rondo A La Turk
04. Solomon's Song
05. Claire D'Loon
06. Flight Of Inspiration
07. Inside
08. Difficult To Cure 2013
09. Mini Suite (feat. Gary Moore)
10. Adagio (feat. Gary Moore)
11. Grace

Don Airey - keyboards
Carl Sentance - vocals
Laurence Cottle - bass
Rob Harris - guitar
Darrin Mooney - drums

Gary Moore - guitar on 'Adagio' and 'Mini Suite'
Graham Bonnet - backing vocals
Simon MacBride - guest guitar
Alex Meadows - add. bass
Tim Goodyer - add. drums



ALICE COOPER - Billion Dollar Babies [2014 Audio Fidelity SACD AFZ 170]

ALICE COOPER - Billion Dollar Babies [2014 Audio Fidelity SACD AFZ 170] full HQ


This February, the Audio Fidelity label continues to grow its collection of stereo hybrid SACDs with one of the best rock 'n' roll records of all time; ALICE COOPER's classic album "Billion Dollar Babies".

With "Billion Dollar Babies", the Shock-Rock King Alice Cooper refined the raw grit of his earlier work in favor of a slightly more polished sound resulting in a mega-hit album that reached the top of the US and UK album charts.
The platinum-selling LP produced by Bob Ezrin yielded four Billboard Hot 100 hits including “Elected”, “Hello Hooray”, “Billion Dollar Babies” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy”.
After the album was released, the band embarked on a tour which reportedly broke U.S. box office records previously held by the Rolling Stones despite not meeting revenue projections. Magician James Randi designed special effects for the spectacularly horrific production.
"Billion Dollar Babies", with its songs about everything from dentistry to necrophilia, was the perfect vehicle for Cooper’s hard rock theatre to come alive – or dead.

The "Billion Dollar Babies" Audio Fidelity’s SACD edition has been remastered two months ago by boss desk-man Steve Hoffman at Stephen Marsh Mastering. Here it is Hoffman's step by step description for audiophile fanatics:
Great sounding album, maybe the best Alice?
Today at Stephen Marsh Mastering in the Hollywood Hills we nailed this one. It was a tense session because the tapes were pretty typically messy due to age but messy is my middle name... At any rate, Stephen, second engineer Fernando Lee and I were patiently mastering the Alice Cooper for Audio Fidelity. We did our usual split feed, DSD take and CD take, both at the same time.

The tapes were the original mix compilation reels that were done at the Record Plant back in the day. Each reel had the dates of the original mixes and what mix 'take' was pulled to this album comp. There was also a big note on each reel saying: DO NOT USE FOR ANY PRODUCTION WORK, USE EQ DUB CUTTING MASTER.
And for good reason. The master songs had many edits in each song, many level changes and, wacky as it seems, some of the songs required different level setups and Dolby A adjusting due to differing balance levels, no big deal.

ALICE COOPER - Billion Dollar Babies [2014 Audio Fidelity SACD AFZ 170] booklet

Some of the songs were mixed in 1972, some in 1973 and each side of the album masters had a different set of tones to go with it. Yikes. No way a phonograph record in the old days could be cut from these complicated master reels, so a 'mastered' copy with EQ and compression was generated and all lacquers, parts, etc. were cut from that, bypassing this original set so sides could be cut without stopping.
However, us brave dudes decided to plug ahead and use these two original reels since we were not cutting phonograph records and could start and stop after each song. First, Stephen Marsh went in and fixed each and every edit (the glue on the splice tape had bled over the years and it was a sticky mess at each of the many edit points). No baking of the tape was required as the tape stock was from the good year of 1972. Tape still played fine, no shedding whatsoever. Good news.

Once the splices were scrubbed and fixed, Stephen's Dolby expertise went into effect and he aligned the ATR analog playback deck with his custom Dolby A box until it was perfect (at least for the first few songs). On side two for whatever reason the levels were off by 2 db on most songs, throwing the Dolby alignment off so we just realigned, same as they did back in the day and for the Greatest Hits CD.
Then, we transferred, one at a time, using our special brand of mastering knowledge and dumb luck. None of the songs sounded tone-wise like any other songs on there, each had a different and nicely subtle but unique sound. obvious on our top notch modern gear, probably not so obvious on monitors back in the day...

Now on the old LP they made all of them sound similar by filtering and compressing but that was not our goal. I personally don't care what the old LP sounded like unless it had amazing sound (and this one didn't compared to the actual master mixes, the vinyl was too compressed and compromised, a long album on two vinyl sides).

ALICE COOPER - Billion Dollar Babies [2014 Audio Fidelity SACD AFZ 170] back cover

I want YOU to hear what the band and producer got to hear back at the Record Plant in 1973 so I left the tonal changes intact for the most part from song to song but at the same time I made sure each one sounded the best it could in the context of "what they were obviously going for" back then, same as I've done on almost every project I've worked on since 1982. The intent of the original artist/producer/engineer is always the main goal.
At any rate, it took a long time today, high-priced designer pizza was delivered and we took a break but mainly we worked on this, one song at a time, having to fix levels, Dolby levels, EQ (usually the tape box notes were pretty right on) and other 'tricks' for each and every song while having to 'MRL' the machine back to neutral / normal after each one so we could carry on and on.

On track 6 ("No More Mr Nice Guy") there's a minimal glitch, a bleeding broken repaired splice which is less than a second of a decades old 45 minute master tape. We chose not to dump to Pro Tools and fix digitally. We also chose not to resort to using a second generation tape dub. We wanted the signal to the DSD recorder, etc. to remain pure even if it had a minor imperfection or two.

The album holds up nicely. I had a retro-type girlfriend in the 1980's who LOVED this album (she thought she was so cool to like something from an earlier era, I thought 'eh, big deal') but I was reminded of her throughout the day. A weird feeling but I'm sure she will dig this new version.
As always, it's very important to me that the ORIGINAL VINTAGE mixes were used. A bunch of extra crossfades, solo guitar strums and other goofy stuff was still on the reels after the leader and I'm glad they wisely decided to not use any of them in the final release.
This is the first Audiophile release of this album from the true Ezrin mixes and we're proud of the way it came out.
Hope you all like this one.

As usual, the Audio Fidelity remaster is excellent, pressed on gold CD, with a SACD layer, in limited numbered edition and in the case of Alice Cooper's "Billion Dollar Babies", not only reproduces the original artwork, also features a genuine famous 'billion dollar bill' inside the package.

ALICE COOPER - Billion Dollar Babies [2014 Audio Fidelity SACD AFZ 170] Billion Dollar Babies bill replica

At $30 American ($22.70 on Amazon), it's a steal. What's not to like? And it's a classic to boot!
Crank it to eleven and enjoy the sound of the first release of the true mixes in 41 years of Alice Cooper's "Billion Dollar Babies"
A Must Have.

01 - Hello Hooray
02 - Raped And Freezin'
03 - Elected
04 - Billion Dollar Babies
05 - Unfinished Sweet
06 - No More Mr. Nice Guy
07 - Generation Landslide
08 - Sick Things
09 - Mary Ann
10 - I Love The Dead

Alice Cooper – lead vocals
Glen Buxton – guitar
Michael Bruce – rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Dennis Dunaway – bass, backing vocals
Neal Smith – drums, backing vocals
Donovan – vocals on 4
Steve Hunter, Mick Mashbir, Dick Wagner – add. guitar
Produced by Bob Ezrin
Re-Mastered by Steve Hoffman for AF 2014



Sunday, February 16, 2014

H.E.A.T - A Shot At Redemption EP (2014)

H.E.A.T - A Shot At Redemption EP (2014) full


April 11th is the scheduled date for Swedish melodic hard rockers H.E.A.T new studio album, 'Tearing Down The Walls'. Once again the band decided to use Grammy award winning producer Tobias Lindell and created an explosive new effort.
The first sneak peak of the record is the lead single "A Shot At Redemption", presented as part of a 4-track CD single of the same name, a 10" vinyl and digital download.
Both physical releases will surely become rare collector's items, being made available in strictly limited quantities.

H.E.A.T - A Shot At Redemption EP (2014) logo

The new single "A Shot At Redemption" confirms all that H.E.A.T showed before and more: a catchy hookline, a driven beat, the killer melodic guitar solo and the raw, beyond comparison vocals of singer Erik Grönwall.
Added to the EP are the previously unreleased track "Under Your Skin", a goosebumps worthy acoustic version of H.E.A.T's "In And Out Of Trouble", and a sensual cover of one of the greatest ballads of all time: "She's Like The Wind", made famous by the late Patrick Swayze for the movie Dirty Dancing. All these tracks are exclusive to this EP.

H.E.A.T - A Shot At Redemption EP (2014) back cover

Four songs to enjoy the energetic and explosive side of H.E.A.T and their great talent for ballads, to ease the wait for the new studio album.

01 - A Shot At Redemption (new track 2014)
02 - Under Your Skin (previously unreleased)
03 - In And Out Of Trouble (acoustic version)
04 - She's Like The Wind (cover, made famous by Patrick Swayze)

Erik Grönwall - Vocals
Eric Rivers - Guitar
Jimmy Jay - Bass
Jona Tee - Keyboards
Crash - Drums



Friday, February 14, 2014

KING JAMES - Maximus (2014)

KING JAMES - Maximus (2014) cd version full


KING JAMES is a hard rock band assembled in 1993 by guitarist Rex Carroll (WhiteCross) and vocalist Jimi Bennett (Sacred Fire, Viktor), releasing a very good self-titled album the following year characterized by Carroll's terrific six-sring work and Bennett’s smooth and pristine vocal presence.
After a long hiatus King James is back with a new CD entitled "Maximus", a new rhythm section and new recording label.

"Maximus" features a varied palette of sounds ranging from strong hard rockers, bluesy melodic tunes and of course some melting short instrumentals where Carroll smokes.
The first full track, "Hard Road To Go" (a re-work from the self-titled debut) is a quick, impressive and catchy song that brings back the sounds of the late ’80s. "Prisoner" turn things more melodic hard rock, while "Waiting For The King" takes a similar heading but introducing some progressive elements.
There's a more groovy, bluesy hard rocking numbers on "Blackstone Woman" and "Just As I Am (Lamb Of God)", then a melodic southern feel can be heard in "Mississippi Kidd", a tribute to Carroll's good friend and bass player Ean Evans (aka 'The Mississippi Kidd') ex- The Outlaws, King James and Lynyrd Skynyrd. These tracks prove that Carroll still knows how to deliver big hook sensibilities.

The melodic "Miracles" and the passionate "Desperate" bring back the hard rocking stylings again. There is also an acoustic version to "Miracles"”, which in my opinion is a throwaway in light of how good portions to its ‘electric’ counterpart are already acoustic.

KING JAMES - Maximus (2014) inside cover

Rex Carroll, Bennett and the rest of the guys are in top form on "Maximus".
Carroll, as one might imagine, remains inspired as ever. His tone, his special way to build up the riffs are second to none, and the short instrumental pieces ("X Maximus" is killer) allow him to showcase his shredding abilities. Rex is one of the most underrated guitarists in hard rock and truly deserves to be heard by the masses. If you aren't familiar with Carroll, this album is a great place to start listening to a terrific six-string monster.
Bennett stands out in showing added range and maturity in terms of his delivery; similar to other vocalist to come out of the '80s such as Rob Rock and Michael Sweet his strengths have refined with age. Of equal note is how his polished style perfectly melds with the bluesy nature of the material at hand.
Updated for a new decade but still sounding classic hard rock, on "Maximus" - sporting a crisp, excellent production by Petra's John Lawry - King James have returned in great style.
Highly Recommended.

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrox

01 - The Void
02 - Hard Road to Go
03 - Black Stone Woman
04 - Mississippi Kidd
05 - X Maximus
06 - Waiting for the King
07 - A New Beginning
08 - Miracles
09 - The Highlander - In Exile
10 - The Prisoner
11 - Just as I Am (Lamb of God)
12 - Desperate
13 - Miracles [Acoustic Version]

Jimi Bennett - Lead and Backing Vocals
Rex Carroll - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Benny Ramso - Bass
Michael Feighan - Drums



Thursday, February 13, 2014

FREHLEY'S COMET - Second Sighting [Rock Candy remaster] (2013)

FREHLEY'S COMET - Second Sighting [Rock Candy remaster] (2013) full


As founding member and lead guitarist of Kiss, ACE FREHLEY - known affectionately as the Space Ace - was probably one of the most identifiable rock stars of the '70s. Indeed, his profile was so prominent that when management had the brilliant idea of releasing four solo albums simultaneously, it was Ace's record that not only sold the most but also attracted the best reviews - fact that supposedly still irritates other members of Kiss to this very day.
"Second Sighting", originally issued in 1988, was the second outing from his own FREHLEY'S COMET, gathering together a working band that featured seasoned drummer Jamie Oldaker, ex-John Waite bassist John Regan and, perhaps most importantly, songwriter and multi instrumentalist Tod Howarth, a man who had gained a stirling reputation as leader of cult AOR favourites 707 and live work with both Cheap Trick and Ted Nugent.
FREHLEY'S COMET "Second Sighting" needed a proper remastering according to present time, and that's exactly what Rock Candy Records has done.

"Second Sighting" is the 'commercial' album in Ace's career. He relies here on outside songwriters and Tod Howarth for the majority of the tunes, and the production sound is clearly oriented to the radio friendly, arena rock from the era.
Let's not forget how important context is; when released, it was summer 1988. It was the summer of Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Dokken… and Ace Frehley, why not. And although the record didn't sold as the aforementioned acts, it's a more than a solid product of the '80s.

So what we have here is very good, commercial melodic hard rock, even AOR a times as on the first single and ballad "It’s Over Now" (sung by Howarth).
Opener "Insane", and later "Separate", are perhaps the songs more closer to the Ace of old, and the mostly-instrumental "The Acorn Is Spinning" shows that the band can jam with class. New drummer Jamie Oldaker (Eric Clapton) isn't as fancy as the unavailable Anton Fig, but he throws in some pretty cool fills.
The second track is a melancholy Dokken-esque mid-tempo from Tod, "Time Ain’t Runnin’ Out", plenty of great keyboards, meaty vocals and very good guitar work. A highlight that reminds me the Phenomena project.

FREHLEY'S COMET - Second Sighting [Rock Candy remaster] (2013) inside

"Dancin’ With Danger" boasts a batch of co-writers including Spencer Proffer (Quiet Riot), Streetheart, Ace and Dana Strum from rival band Vinnie Vincent Invasion. This cut simply smokes. It has an '80s ZZ Top-like sequencer part, adding a robotic pulse but not taking anything else away. The riff is pretty heavy, Ace takes the lead vocal and an absolutely scorching solo.
Frehley enters into "Juvenile Delinquent" with some cool guitar effects, a catchy hard rock song with a great vibe, followed by the AORish, Night Ranger-like melodic rock of "Fallen Angel". One of my favorites for sure.
As said, "Separate" sounds like vintage Ace with an extended guitar solo as the centerpiece, and next "New Kind of Lover" returns to classic melodic hard rock with lots of radio-friendly magic courtesy of Howarth.

If you don't like Frehley's music, but instead commercial melodic hard rock melodies, then "Second Sighting" is an album to have. It's slick, multi-layered, rich in keyboards & sharp riffs and plenty of catchy choruses.
This Rock Candy remaster is excellent to my ears, glossy and crisp.
Very Recommended.

01 - Insane
02 - Time Ain't Runnin' Out
03 - Dancin' With Danger
04 - It's Over Now
05 - Loser In A Fight
06 - Juvenile Delinquent
07 - Fallen Angel
08 - Separate
09 - New Kind Of Lover
10 - The Acorn Is Spinning

Ace Frehley - guitars, lead and backing vocals
Tod Howarth - guitars, keyboards, lead and backing vocals
John Regan - bass, backing vocals
Jamie Oldaker - drums



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