Wednesday, April 30, 2014

RAIN OR SHINE - Seize The Night (2014)

RAIN OR SHINE - Seize The Night (2014) full


A new promising Melodic Rock act is coming from Greece; RAIN OR SHINE, with their just relesed debut "Seize The Night".
Seems that part of the globe is a fertile land for Melodic Rock / AOR groups moulded in the classic sound of the genre, as recently heard from acts such as Wild Rose, Farraday, Kingdragon or Andy Rock.
Add Rain Or Shine to that list, as these guys have the talent for big things...

Actually, Rain Or Shine is the brainchild of musician, producer and sound engineer Steve S.R. who played in several underground Greek bands like Perfume and Backstage Love for the last ten years.
But one year ago, Steve decided to write his first own whole album.
Apart from his modulated lead vocals (very good English), Steve S.R. did everything from rhythm & lead guitars, bass and pianos to the synthesizers which are always all over these melodic songs.
The good this is that on the entire album there is real drums played by session musician Andy R. McCormick who also provided percussion and programming.

What we find on "Seize The Night" is pure late '80s / early '90 sounding Melodic Rock with Hard Rock / AOR touches, mostly crafted with an European sound in mind.
Skagarack, Bonfire, Da Vinci, etc, styles come to mind listening these ultra catchy songs like the hook-laden riff of opener "Fool's Paradise", the pulsating bass lines / keys of "It's a Crime" (adorned with excellent female backing vocals during the chorus) or the AORish "Heartbreak".
I hear some Europe and perhaps some Gary Hughes / Ten on the awesome groove of "Believe", then title track "Seize The Night" gets harder yet melodious as hell, same as "All That Really Matters".

RAIN OR SHINE - Seize The Night (2014) band

"Spell I'm Under" is not a Winger cover, but a great midtempo melodic rocker which turns AOR during the highly harmonized chorus (again with effective female backing vocals).
Yes, of course, we have ballads; "Don't Go" is an elegant, acoustic / electric guitar filled tune orchestrated by beautiful keyboards, and "Don't Give Up" is the vehicle for Steve S.R. to showcase his talents just with piano, background synths and his lead vocals, although there's a short electric guitar solo near the end.

Coming out from nowhere, Rain Or Shine has delivered and incredibly effective record on "Seize The Night".
Evidently, Steve S.R. not only knows how to write & arrange a pure Melodic Rock tune in the classic style, he also is a very good producer / sound engineer as despite its low budget and being recorded at a home studio, the sound of "Seize The Night" is pretty good for an indie.
Let's hope Steve S.R. assemble a band soon and start to play live, as all the songs on this CD deserve to be cranked at big venues.
Fans of classic Melodic Rock / AOR, I strongly advise you; don't miss Rain Or Shine's "Seize The Night".
Highly Recommended.

01 - Fool's Paradise
02 - It's a Crime
03 - Believe
04 - Heartbreak
05 - Seize The Night
06 - Don't Go
07 - Spell I'm Under
08 - Don't Give Up
09 - All That Really Matters

Steve S.R. - Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Synths
Andy R. McCormick - Drums, Percussion



STRANGE KARMA - Devil From The Moon (2014)

STRANGE KARMA - Devil From The Moon (2014) America full


Led by brothers Martin and Paul Strange (who supply vocals and guitar, respectively), Aussie band STRANGE KARMA immediately created a buzz with the self-released 2011 debut Vol. 1 which received countless accolades in the underground scene. Later in the year Strange Karma undertook a lightning strike tour of America, travelling from L.A. to New York and back again playing showcases to promote the album.
At their Philadelphia show Grammy-nominated producer David Ivory (Halestorm, The Roots) was blown away by the band and also by some of the songs yet to make it to an album.
So while recording the new album with Ivory, they decided to remix & re-record some parts of Vol.1 plus one new song and are re-releasing the whole thing on CD now professionally silver pressed entitled "Devil From The Moon".

The Sydney-based band is one of a host of new bands that takes its cues from the classic late ‘70s Hard Rock sound, but unlike a lot of their peers, Strange Karma has the kind of heart, soul and creativity to make that retro style credible, adding as well to their music an '80s / 90s touches akin Badlands, Kingdom Come and alike.
The groovy, energetic and melodic "Devil From The Moon" (new song) opens the record showing the hand of David Ivory behind the production desk. Everything sounds crisp with each instrument receiving the appropriate separation obtaining a great vibe.

Next, as soon as the hard rocker "America" kicks in, you can be forgiven for thinking 'Led Zeppelin knockoff'. It is a very Zeppelin-sounding song, and a good one at that. "Down and Out" is something Queen could have written, and the spacey "Time" is like a glorious Queen/T-Rex mashup.
The band has this great combination of bluesy guitars, wailing vocals and lush piano that’s just irresistible, taking the listener from gritty barroom rock to flamboyant glam to an almost psychedelic sound, often in the space of a single song (check out "Fame").
"Storm" is driven by a heavy riff, followed by the faster "Harder Than A Stone" (with some Deep Purple on it), but then the acoustic and trippy "Uneasy" provides a melodic breath.

"Young And Free" is one of those tracks that made this band quite unique. It's pretty epic combining real piano , strings, guitar and emotional vocals into a captivating blend. It's not a ballad, at least, not in your typical way. Somehow reminds me Cinderella but also Badlands, and strangely, House Of Lords. It's a great composition and a highlight on the album.
The disc ends with the dynamic "Mind Games", a vintage hard rocker with jamming riffs galore (highly melodic), and another of my favorites; "Indian Sun". Through its 7.30 minutes combines heavy riffs, orchestrations, raspy vocals, and very long solos.

STRANGE KARMA - Devil From The Moon (2014) inside

There are a lot of bands that have gained attention by aping Led Zeppelin and other giant dinosaurs, but it often comes across as gimmicky and contrived. You never get that feel from Strange Karma.
Yes, you’re going to think about those bands when listening to this CD, but in a good way. The band takes an unusual approach to the classic rock sound, and they make it seem completely natural.
It’s rare that a modern band so successfully channels the classic ‘70s hard rock sound. Strange Karma does it brilliantly and without sounding like a nostalgia act, even more, adding to a personal touch.
Quite Recommended.

01 - Devil From The Moon
02 - America
03 - Down And Out
04 - Time
05 - Fame
06 - Storm
07 - Harder Than A Stone
08 - Uneasy
09 - Young And Free
10 - Mind Games
11 - Indian Sun

Martin Strange - vocals, guitar, piano
Paul Strange - lead guitar, vocals
Doe Prijono - bass
Jason McDonald - drums



Tuesday, April 29, 2014

ELI COOK - Primitive Son (2014)

ELI COOK - Primitive Son (2014) full


ELI COOK is a well known guitarist in Blues circles having recorded four albums since 2004 and sharing stages with the likes of Robert Cray and the legendary BB King. Now Cook has signed with LA-based label Cleopatra Records for his 5th studio album released today, April 29, entitled "Primitive Son".
Before listening any bit of the CD, I was expecting a pure Blues record based on his previous works and Eli's mentioned influences like John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, etc.

Well, since opener "War Horse" I am surprised to listen a very rocking album, many times bordering Hard Rock. With a strong Bluesy foundation, yes, but edgy an meaty for the most part.
Of course on the album we find traditional material for purists like the bluegrass "Tall & Twisted", the groovy "Burying Ground" or the acoustic "Won't Be Long".
But "Primitive Son", ladies and gentlemen, it's a damn fine Hard Rockin' / Classic Rock album.

For this matter, Eli Cook counts with the help of heavy-weight cats such as Leslie West of Mountain, Pat Travers, Artimus Pyle (Lynyrd Skynyrd), Harvey Mandel, Eric Gales, Reese Wynans of SRV Double Trouble, Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Ronnie James Dio), Tinsley Ellis, Rod Piazza and Jorgon Carlson of Gov't Mule. Wow.
And all leave their mark with their respective participation.
Cook and company are busting a heavy rock groove combining it with his attention to melody and blues licks on the pumping hard rocker "Revelator" (featuring Vinny Appice), the riff-monster "Motor Queen", the southern-heavy "Be Your Fool", or the edgy "Shake the Devil Down".
Apart from his six-string abilities, Cook owns a strong baritone voice and varied throughout, bringing to mind Richie Kotzen.

RICHIE KOTZEN - I'm Coming Out (2011)tracks

Surprisingly meaty and with a lot of bite, "Primitive Son" is a rocking fifth album from Eli Cook. Combining Blues with traditional Hard Rock that channels past greats, yet invoking contemporary influences, Eli Cook is difficult to beat.
This recording (immaculately produced) sounds vital and full of life, and will please fans of classic Hard Rock wrapped up in some Heavy Blues environment.
Very Recommended.

01. War Horse
02. Revelator (Feat. Vinny Appice & Jorgen Carlsson)
03. Sweet Thang (Feat. Tinsley Ellis)
04. High In The Morning (Feat. S. Landreth & Reese Wynans)
05. Won't Be Long
06. Motor Queen (Feat. Leslie West)
07. Be Your Fool (Feat. Rod Piazza)
08. Swing A Little Harder
09. Shake The Devil Down (Feat. Harvey Mandel)
10. Tall & Twisted
11. The Great Southern Love Kill (Feat. Pat Travers & A. Pyle)
12. Amphetamine Saint (Feat. Eric Gales)
13. Primitive Son
14. Burying Ground
15. Kerosene (Bonus Track)

Eli Cook - Guitar, Bass, Vocals
Tinsley Ellis, Eric Gales, Harvey Mandel - Guitar
Sonny Landreth - Slide Guitar
Pat Travers, Erin Lunsford - Vocals
Rod Piazza - Harmonica
Rob Richmond - Bass
Artimus Pyle, Vinny Appice - Drums
Wade Warfield - Percussion, Drums
Reese Wynans - Hammond B3, Keyboards



JOHN WAITE - Best (2014)

JOHN WAITE - Best (2014) full


Melodic Rock icon JOHN WAITE has put together - selected by himself - a compilation of his best works into one CD simply called "Best".
From Waite's mouth; "This collection is called BEST because it’s my best. I didn’t want to do the obvious thing and simply put out a 'Greatest Hits' record as anyone can do that. I always felt I could “do” them better and bring something to them that I’d missed, update the production and make them more vital.
And besides, a retrospective was a nice way of looking at my work. I wanted to connect the dots as much for myself as for anyone who might hear it. It’s been a long career and this is the story – BEST yet actually. The story is far from over."

Waite has included some special versions of his selected songs, but also has re-recorded many of them with an updated vision, a vision of how these tunes sound in Waite's head 2014.
That's the case with The Baby's "Back On My Feet Again" in an awesome fresh take, or "Isn’t It Time", or his timeless classic "Missing You". Also on the CD is included the fantastic version of this classic recorded some years ago in duet with Alison Krauss.

JOHN WAITE - Best (2014) back cover

So John Waite's BEST is an extremely recommended compendium of this incredibly talented artist, including, indeed, the best of his repertory.

01 - Back On My Feet Again (newly re-recorded)
02 - Isn't It Time (newly re-recorded)
03 - Rough & Tumble
04 - Missing You (newly re-recorded)
05 - If You Ever Get Lonely
06 - Better Off Gone
07 - Suicide Life
08 - Change (live)
09 - Every Time I Think Of You (live)
10 - Head First (live)
11 - Evil (live)
12 - Saturday Night (live)
13 - Bluebird Café (unplugged)
14 - I'm Ready (unplugged)
15 - In Dreams
16 - The Hard Way
17 - Downtown
18 - Missing You (duet with Alison Krauss)

Order CD:


Monday, April 28, 2014

MACH22 - Go Ahead (2014)

MACH22 - Go Ahead (2014) Sweet Talk Intervention advance

* read comments before please

Hailing from Philadelphia, MACH22 is the band of Sebastian LaBar, son of legendary guitarist Jeff LaBar from Cinderella. The outfit will release their full length debut album 'Sweet Talk Intervention' on May 6 through the band’s website.
Some tracks from the album were presented to the press and we have here an exclusive advance: the half of the CD.

A really young band, MACH22's already racked up some impressive credentials: opening for Slash, Steel Panther, Tom Keifer, Cheap Thrill, and performing for an audience of 75,000 at Jay-Z’s Made in America Festival. MACH22 also picked up several product endorsements including an endorsement by PRS Guitars.
Additionally, MACH22 has been selected by Slash as grand prize winners in Guitar Center On-Stage: Slash Contest following submission of their original song "Don't You Give Me".
Produced by Jeff LaBar, 'Sweet Talk Intervention' was recorded at Dragon Sound Studios in Nashville, TN, and engineered by Ronnie Honeycutt (Jackyl).

With killer riffs, bluesy rhythms and soulful delivery, the band’s songs span the emotional spectrum, capturing that classic hard rock feel yet with a refreshing modern edge.
Sebastian LaBar, who was personally trained by his father and quickly set out on his own with a distinctive soloing, is accompanied by versatile singer Lamont Caldwell (Erykah Badu Band, Dave Matthews Band), bass player Jaron Gulino (Charm City Devils), guitarist (Dizzy Reed Band, Uli Jon Roth) and drummer Damian MonteCarlo.

The great hard rocker "Backslider" is driven by a spiky riff, same as with "I’m Just a Man", starting with a pumping kick ass drum and bass groove before kickin’ in to the down n’ dirty style that makes MACH22 who they are.
With guitars cranked and distortion levels maxxed they continue to keep the pace high and hard throughout first single and video "Go Ahead", as well as the melodic "Don’t You Give Me" where the band add sweeter backing vocals and intensify the groove.
"Radio", one of the standouts here, reimagines Tesla playing the Rolling Stones. It’s a song that really underlines the raw potential of the band, while managing to keep a modern edge and is both true to the hard rock template and strangely radio-friendly.

MACH 22 is a talented young band that really shines through in well written, confident and catchy songs with solid hard rock riffs and engaging lyrics. I really look forward to hearing all that this band has to offer when the full CD comes out.

01 - Backslider
02 - I'm Just A Man
03 - Don't You Give Me
04 - Go Ahead
05 - Radio

Lamont Caldwell – Vocals
Sebastian LaBar – Lead Guitar, Vocals
Ted Merrill – Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Jaron Gulino – Bass, Vocals
Damian MonteCarlo – Drums



IQ - The Road Of Bones [2CD Collector's Edition] (2014)

VANGOUGH - Kingdom Of Ruin (2011)


Although its street date is the first week of May, 2014, pre-orders of the sumptuous Collector's Edition of IQ's latest album "The Road Of Bones" have begun shipping already in order to get the sets to purchasers in time for the album launch show (tickets to which are included in the collector's edition).

"The Road Of Bones" is tenth studio album from perhaps the most influential British Neo-Prog band from the last 20 years. It's also the second album in a row from IQ to feature a member reconfiguration, following the incredible streak from Ever to Dark Matter where the band lineup had remained extremely solid and stable.
Paul Cook and Tim Esau are, of course, old hands in IQ, being the group's original rhythm section), whilst Sphere3 keyboardist Neil Durant makes his first appearance on an IQ album here.

IQ - The Road Of Bones [2CD Collector's Edition] (2014) inside

The obvious question, then, is how this shakeup affects the band's sound? Would Neil Durant's inclusion allow the group to continue evolving?
As it transpires, Durant is the surprise star player here, proving equally adept at a bang-up-to-date keyboard style and performances living up to the heritage of IQ's earlier material. "Constellations", one of several tracks on the Collector's Edition bonus disc showcases this distinction particularly nicely.

Tonally, "The Road Of Bones" finds IQ in a melodic and reflective mood - one which often serves them well, as it did on their best records - whilst the special edition of the album provides a bonus disc with a brace of songs which to my ears are just as strong as the compositions that made the main CD, but much more dynamic, bouncy and I'd say, less 'progressive'.
In fact, although the main disc is superb in arrangements, atmospheres and playing, the bonus disc is terrific and features my favorite compositions. It goes for more upbeat, catchy, almost commercial melodies and its awesomely varied and melodic.

IQ - The Road Of Bones [2CD Collector's Edition] (2014) banner

If you never heard IQ you're missing something great, being "The Road Of Bones" an excellent start to discover this brilliant band.
And if you're a fan or love your Neo - Melodic - Prog made with class and elegance, you need this album. And make sure to get this "The Road Of Bones 2CD Collector's Edition", containing a bonus disc of around 50 minutes of exclusive new material to die for, plus and extended artwork.
Anyway, whether you plump for the 1CD or 2CD editions, right here you have IQ incredibly managing to continue their streak of top quality albums and still shows no signs of slowing down.

CD1: The Road Of Bones
01. From the Outside In
02. The Road of Bones
03. Without Walls
04. Ocean
05. Until the End

CD2: Bonus Disc
01. Knucklehead
02. 1312 Overture
03. Constellations
04. Fall and Rise
05. Ten Million Demons
06. Hardcore

Peter Nicholls - vocals
Mike Holmes - guitar
Tim Esau - bass
Paul Cook - drums
Neil Durant - keyboards



Sunday, April 27, 2014

ALIEN - Eternity (2014)

ALIEN - Eternity (2014) full

* the Real one

This will be a very short review: ALIEN, the best European AOR band ever, has returned in full force giving birth to one of the best albums from the genre - I'd say the best - in the last 15 years: "Eternity".
Yes, it's not exaggerated; released through AOR Heaven Records, Alien's "Eternity" is pure gold.

The most influential Swedish AOR band in History, and patriarch of all the superb movement in Scandinavia for the genre, Alien was the key band at the end of the '80s until they quit in the mid-nineties, bar a brief reunion in 2005. That looked to be it until 2010 when they reformed and played a storming set at Firefest in 2011.
The band’s standout, aside from the songs, is out-of-this-world vocalist Jim Jidhed who has kept his vocals intact sounding as terrific as ever. The good thing is he can recreate the magic from the studio on the stage.
Mind you, not to be outdone guitarist Tony Borg whips up some epic solos on songs like "Love Will Lead Me Home", but to be honest, all members are fantastic with their own instrument.

Fans of pure, classic AOR / Melodic Rock will be spoilt for choice on this record from the Journey-like refrains of "Unbroken" through to "In Love We Trust", a lesson to other bands how AOR should be done.
Of course there have to be ballads and "I Believe" would have Richard Marx all in a lather if he had penned it.

ALIEN - Eternity (2014) inside

Alien stick to what they are good at and have produced an album that will delight the true AOR fans.
"Eternity" not only will be featured on many a ‘best of’ list at the end of this year, it will be regarded - and write this on paper - in years to come as a Classic album.

01 - In Love We Trust
02 - Unbroken
03 - Love Will Lead Me Home
04 - I Believe
05 - Summer Of Love
06 - What Goes Up
07 - I'm A Fighter
08 - Wildheart
09 - Liar, Liar
10 - Look At Us Now
11 - Burning Heart
12 - In Truth

Jim Jidhed – Vocals
Tony Borg – Guitar
Jimmy Wandroph – Keyboards
Ken Sandin – Bass
Toby Tarrach – Drums



SAVN - Savn (2014)

SAVN - Savn (2014) full


Norwegian symphonic trio SAVN featuring Midnattsol singer Carmen Elise Espenæs (the younger sister of Leave's Eyes vocalist Liv Kristine) and two members of The Sins Of Thy Beloved, Stig Johansen (guitar) and Anders Thue (keyboards) — will release its self-titled debut album on April 28.

"Savn" (which means Deprivation) has the right blend of hard and soft energy to keep your body moving. The material is sympho based, but it’s a totally new concept with a very personal approach.
It’s heavy and elegant, charming and introspective, but fundamentally grandiose. But I really prefer to leave you the pleasure of hearing and discovering each new aspect of their musical work.

SAVN - Savn (2014) inside

Their music fits with other symphonic metal bands with female lead vocalists that have quality music and vocals, yet Savn has a special 'aura'. The songs are on emotions and inner self such as: “The Demons In Me” about the questions and anxiety humans deal with every day.
“Hang On” is about keeping the memories but can’t control the circumstances and time does not stand still. Carmen’s sister Liv Kristen sings with her on “I Am Free” and both create a magical atmosphere. We have another guest on Michelle Darkness (End Of Green) performing on ‘’The Demons In Me’’ providing a different color to the palette.

On the musical side, fiddle players Dag Bjørkedal and Lillian Hodne play a large part adding strings that are provided by the famed Lingua Mortis Orchestra on “Sorrowful” and “Lengselens Hånd” that was directed & recorded by composer and Rage guitarist Victor Smolski.

SAVN - Savn (2014) back cover

Savn offers quality symphonic metal with a twist to escape the common places, and they are really, really interesting.
The album was recorded at Mastersound Studio in Germany with producer Alexander Krull who has obtained an overall majestic sound, thanks to his already clear mixing as well.
This particular genre tends to be a little boring for me, but Savn escapes from the mould always trying of offer something different with each song.
Quite Recommended.

01 - Musical Silence
02 - Hang On
03 - The Demons In Me (feat. Michelle Darkness)
04 - Longing for Love
05 - I Am Free (feat. Liv Kristine)
06 - Sorrowful
07 - All I Want
08 - Now or Never
09 - Lengselens Hånd
10 - Hang On (Growling Version Digipak-CD Bonus Track)
11 - The Demons In me (Growling Vers. Digipak-CD Bonus Track)

Carmen Elise Espenæs – Vocals
Stig Johansen – Vocals, Guitars
Anders Thue – Keyboards



Friday, April 25, 2014

MICHAEL BORMANN - Love Is Magic (2014)

MICHAEL BORMANN - Love Is Magic (2014) full


“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue …” How accurate this couplet is in reference to the 'best of' or catalog albums being released in dozens each year with some previously unreleased tracks or the other bonuses? Most certainly, the rhyme is nothing far-fetched when it comes to the new album of MICHAEL BORMANN, one of the best voices in Teutonic hard rock, known from performing solo as well as fronting such acts as Jaded Heart or Rain.
Released today, April 25, the CD is a rundown on the last eighteen years of his thirty-three-year long musical career, entitled "Love Is Magic (Best of Ballads)" and, consequently, focuses on more mellow part of his works.

And as in the couplet, there is 'something old and new' indeed, and 'something borrowed' too – 15 songs in total, two of which were never released before, and two cover versions. There are also some re-recordings/modifications to another few tracks, all these flavors to be picked up by the skilled ear of Mr. Bormann’s avid fan.
The album starts with the piano-based power-ballad “I Wanna Hear Your Voice” (taken from 2008 Captured Moment, Bormann’s third solo album), next is “Singing For You”. The song’s title should ring a bell if you cast your mind back to the 2007 release by Mark Sweeney (ex- Crystal Ball), to which Bormann essentially contributed as a producer, songwriter and an instrumentalist. In comparison with Sweeney’s mellow original, Bormann’s rich-sounding acoustic rendition of the song is more direct and organic.

And while you have to be Bormann’s fan to recognize the origin of the third track – it’s “Can’t Stop Missing You” from the singer’s 2002 self-titled solo album, enriched with wailing guitar sounds – and somehow reminds me Richard Marx but with more bite. This new version is much better that the original and one of the highlights of the CD.

MICHAEL BORMANN - Love Is Magic (2014) inside

With the fourth “Help” you don’t need any knowledge in melodic rock specifically. And yet, you’ll still find yourself amazed at how different a well-known Beatles classic can actually sound, with Bormann’s very emotional vocal performance and his breathy but warm voice falling into place with this re-arranged, slow version of the evergreen (similar to cover versions of “Help” delivered by Bon Jovi during their early-‘90s gigs).
The love song “Two Of A Kind” comes from 2006 Conspiracy album, the second in Bormann’s solo discography. This track features him sharing the microphone with a female singer relatively unknown at the time of its release (now Anette Olzon, known also as Anette Blyckert, is a well-recognized name because of her involvement with Nightwish).
It’s followed up by the new track “Somebody Like You”, the sixth on the album – and although both are drastically different in terms of lyrics, music-wise it comes close to Poison’s 1988 hit single Every Rose Has Its Thorn.

“The Best Is Yet To Come” is again the 2002 self-titled record revisited – a slow, bluesy track and a real showcase to Bormann’s vocal abilities. The expected throwback to Bormann’s days in Jaded Heart (and their brilliant albums Trust and IV, respectively) comes with “Love Is Magic” and a dramatic, soaring power ballad “Way Back Home”.
Towards the end of the record, there’s also a couple of tracks from Michael’s last 2010 solo effort – “Was Mir Fehlt” (a male/female duo, sung entirely in German), the acoustic “Think Twice” and “Don’t You Tell Me,” an independence manifesto and an excellent soft rock track music-wise.
And more – an atmospheric, sensual ballad “I’d Die For You”, initially released on 2006 Stronger album by Bormann-fronted act Rain and soppy “Go Goin’ Gone”, again from the singer’s 2008 solo album.
And as for the grand finale, Michael delivers “Überleben” in his native German language. It’s another previously unreleased track, and in spite of obvious language differences and certain 'roughness' of German phonetics, the song’s mellow and melodic enough to fit the rest of the predominantly English-language material.

MICHAEL BORMANN - Love Is Magic (2014) banner

Surely a compilation such as this is the kind of effort one might expect from commercial behemoths such as Chicago or Elton John not a rocker such as Bormann? Putting aside that though "Love Is Magic" is a highly efficient collection of Michael Bormann's most mellower work.
The compilation can sugar the pill for fans waiting for the new album in the making, and what they’ll surely appreciate is Bormann's fresh approach to his catalog as well as the potential of the new tracks and covers included.
It’s a good soundtrack to spending a romantic evening by the fireplace with your loved one or unveiling your inner hopeless romantic, but most of all – it’s a very pleasant listening altogether, much recommended for every Melodic Hard Rock aficionado.

01 - I Wanna Hear Your Voice
02 - Singing For You
03 - Can't Stop Missing You
04 - Help
05 - Two Of A Kind
06 - Somebody Like You
07 - The Best Is Yet To Come
08 - Love Is Magic
09 - Way Back Home
10 - Was Mir Fehlt
11 - Think Twice
12 - I'd Die For You
13 - Don't You Tell Me
14 - Go Going Gone
15 - Uberleben

Michael Bormann - vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards)
Andreas Rippelmeier - guitar, backing vocals
Bobby Stöcker, Lanvall - guitar
Tommy Denander - guitar, bass, keyboards
Guido Gallus, Tom Bräutigam - drums
Chris Ivo, Eric Ragno Niclas Olsson - keyboards
Sabine Edelsbacher - vocals
Sonja Rippelmeier - backing vocals
thanks to Alexandra Mrozowska



SUNSTRIKE - Rock Your World (2014)

SUNSTRIKE - Rock Your World (2014) full


SUNSTRIKE is a fairly new band from... where else? - Yes, Sweden... that performs... what else? - Yes, Melodic Rock / Scandi AOR of the highest order. Their debut "Rock Your World" released today April 25 through AOR Heaven Records has been billed as 'an album that will blind you with catchy melodies and big choruses'.
Something to live up to and I can happily say that SunStrike deliver on all accounts. This album is simply awesome.

Formed two years ago by musicians associated with acts like Astral Doors, Twilight Force and Prey, as you would expect from a Swedish band these days, SunStrike sound immense on this, their debut album.
The six piece including Christian Hedgren on vocals, Johan Lindstedt on drums, Joachim Nordlund on lead guitar, Fredrik Plahn on keyboards, Mats Gesar on guitars and Bjorn Lundqvist on bass have obtained and incredible fuller and rich sound through these 12 songs.
"Rock Your World" has all a fan of Swedish AOR / Melodic Rock want for: big refrains, layers of keyboards, sharp guitars, choir choruses, the feeling of an ongoing party and the close-to-perfect musicianship, even if we’re talking ‘bout some youths over here.
The vocals of Christian Hedgren are shiny and passionate, clean and cut to impress the listener, while I was also positively shocked by the production and overall sound, which is fat and with a clear dimension.

With "Power Of The Dreams" you have an opener that doesn't so much set the world alight as turn it into an AOR inferno. Plus in "Rock Your World", the album’s title track this does indeed ROCK YOUR WORLD!
The same can be said for "Fireball" which has a swagger about it rarely seen in AOR right now that I flat out love! "Right Track" has a hint of Danger Danger about it - which will tick all my boxes any day, whilst "Roll The Dice" shows that the band really know how to crank it up.

SUNSTRIKE - Rock Your World (2014) inside

In fact I'm halfway through "Rock Your World" and I haven't once thought about reaching for the skip button - which indicates to me that this is an album that will stand the test of time, and one of the best of the year for sure.
Up next, mid paced rocker "Rock It Out" does the job of giving the listener a bit of a breather with ist stylized sound, then "Never Let You Go" whilst evoking images of stalkers, is something completely different - it is amazing!
The hauntingly beautiful ballad "Higher" is a favorite among favorites (all in this CD are); this song has everything an AOR fan could ever ask for.

We at 0dayrox proudly presented SunStrike here last year (0DAYROX Advanced Releases 2014) with two exclusive singles, now it's time to enjoy the full debut album which is a true pleasure for the soul. On SunStrike AOR Heaven have found a band that lives up to the label's title, that’s for sure.
With a brilliant mixing and mastering process by the Midas touch Erik Mårtensson (Eclipse, W.E.T), "Rock Your World" is already occupying a slot in my Top 10 this year.
Fans of H.E.A.T, Eclipse, W.E.T. should be ready to invest your bucks on this disc. It worth every cent.

01 - Power Of The Dreams
02 - Rock Your World
03 - Fireball
04 - Right Track
05 - Roll The Dice
06 - Rock It Out
07 - Never Let You Go
08 - Higher
09 - Scream & Shout
10 - Into The Light
11 - Edge Of Life
12 - Heat Of The Night

Christian Hedgren - Vocals
Joachim Nordlund - Guitar
Johan Lindstedt - Drum
Mats Gesar - Guitar
Fredrik Plahn - Keyboards
Björn Lundqvist - Bass
mixed & mastered by Erik Mårtensson



Thursday, April 24, 2014

FATAL SMILE - White Trash Heroes (2014)

FATAL SMILE - White Trash Heroes (2014) full


Swedish hard rock / shock metal act FATAL SMILE broke up. Founder guitarist Yüksel Unutmaz (aka MR. Y) announced some days ago "I'm laying my dear band FATAL SMILE to rest... in peace!".
It's a curious move when you're about to the release the band's fifth studio album tomorrow, April 25...
Anyway, bad timing or not, Fatal Smile's (final?) CD "White Trash Heroes" will be out tomorrow produced by MR.Y and featuring guest appearances by guitarist Douglas Blair of W.A.S.P., and additional backing vocals on the whole album by legend Paul Sabu (who also contributed with some arrangements).

While you can lump Fatal Smile in with the current Swedish Sleaze Metal Movement exemplified by the likes of Crazy Lixx, Crashdiet, Baby Jane, etc., they bring a little more beef and balls to the game and a little less 'sing-a-long'. While those aforementioned bands use ‘80s hair-metal as their foundation, Fatal Smile take their inspiration from ‘80s metal; in other words, they are more Leatherwolf or W.A.S.P. than Poison or Trixter.

FATAL SMILE - White Trash Heroes (2014) inside

"White Trash Heroes" sports some serious metal crunch, bursting out of the gate with the kind of primal intensity that causes cute little kittens to spontaneously explode. Fatal Smile likes it hard and heavy and they bring that hardness like a horny teenager after chugging a bottle of Viagra.
Sure, there is melody here and the band reins in the hard rock smack-down on many songs, but even there they manage to imbue their songs with a metallic edge.

I really enjoyed Fatal Smile's third record, a decent hard rock recording with a modern, potent sound, but since the last album when they turned more raw and dirtier I lost interest in the group.
"White Trash Heroes" mixes both frontiers: it's raw and kicks you in the stomach, yet much more polished than its predecessor which score points in my book. Additionally, there's some catchiness of the past on some songs.
At places, the compact wall of sound is very reminiscent of Rob Zombie which is not a bad thing, but turns the proceedings too much repetitive for my tastes.

However, when Fatal Smile decides to go melodic, they rock quite good as heard on catchy "Dirty Little Secret" with some Skid Row in it, "I'm The Gun" which behind the sonic attack reminds me Alice Cooper, the anthemic mid-tempo, groovy hard rocker "Reflections From The Past".
On the heavier tracks, my pick is closer "Hip MF", sonically completely different than the rest of the CD with Douglas Blair of W.A.S.P. contributing guitar on a song that indeed has a strong W.A.S.P. inspiration.

Attitude is what fuels Fatal Smile’s music, not to mention their writing, concerts, and, judging from eyewitness reports, their life. The sleaze-soaked songs rip and tear along on the strength of loud guitars, pounding drums, power-hooks galore, and shout-it-out choruses.
And gang vocals. Tons of ‘em. Seriously, if you get off on gang vocals, you’re going to need at least two boxes of Kleenex every time you listen to this album.
So, if you like this type of '80s inspired metal / hard, get "White Trash Heroes", the Swan song from Fatal Smile.

01 - White Trash Heroes
02 - Like A Rockstar
03 - Heartache & Pain
04 - Dirty Little Secret
05 - Alive & Kicking
06 - I'm the Gun
07 - Down & Out
08 - Reflections From The Past
09 - Gave It All
10 - Hip MF

MR.Y - Guitars & Backing Vocals
Blade - Lead Vocals
Alx - Bass & Backing Vocals
Snake - Drums & Backing vocals
Douglas Blair - guitar
Paul Sabu - Backing Vocals



ASTRA - Broken Balance (2014)

ASTRA - Broken Balance (2014) full digipack


Italians ASTRA started their musical life as a Dream Theater cover band, then they became Astra a band that is now releasing their third album under that moniker, entitled "Broken Balance".
Surprisingly, considering their prog metal origins (and the cover artwork), the music packed in this CD waters several styles with lots of substance in between.

"Broken Balance" is somewhat progressive but in melodic metal - and at places - hard rock sense. We have an expressive keyboard work of Emanuele Casali, often dueling with the lead guitar of Silvio D'onorio De Meo, and really melodic and interesting vocal arrangements by powerhouse singer Andrea Casali.

ASTRA - Broken Balance (2014) inside cover

Many of the songs are hook-laden and catchy, often riding on the melody or chorus or both, but also dropping in some hard rock groove. "Losing My Ego" is a good example, but "Sunrise to Sunset" is even better: you've groove, metal, prog, and a terrific refrain.
Yet after this, most of "Broken Balance" is rather heavy and thumping, as the prog is bumped up in exchange as with "Understand", or the faster pace of "Faithless".
Two exceptions come with "Mirror of Your Soul" and "You Make Me Better" which, in contrast, might be called the lighter numbers here. The former seems to move on an early light piano line, developing a semi mid-tempo Queensryche-like vibe, moving to a crushing solo and then a return to the piano.
The latter, which closes the album and it's one of the highlights, has a bouncing melodic metal skeleton but decorated by a pulsating groove, a catchy chorus an vocal harmonies arranged with British legends Queen as inspiration.

ASTRA - Broken Balance (2014) back cover

"Broken Balance" is a quite interesting release by Astra, varied and entertaining. The band blends some heavy melodic metal riffs with progressive elements adding to the mix a bump of hard rockin' groove and catchy accessibility.
Their music is easy to take in, it has some depth but not so that it would take indefinite repeat plays. Production is fairly good, crisp and modern, resulting in a sound never overwhelming for your ears.
If you liked the last Unisonic (Kiske / Dennis Ward), Neonfly, DGM or Starbreaker, you should try Astra's "Broken Balance".

01 - Losing My Ego
02 - Hole In The Silence
03 - Sunrise To Sunset
04 - Too Late
05 - Broken Balance
06 - Faithless
07 - Mirror Of Your Soul
08 - Risk And Dare
09 - Break Me Down
10 - Understand
11 - Ending Season
12 - You Make Me Better

Andrea Casali - Vocals, Bass (No Gravity)
Silvio D'onorio De Meo - Lead Guitars
Emanuele Casali - Guitars, Keyboards (DGM, ex-Empyrios)
Filippo Berlini - Drums (ex-Changing Sunrise)



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ELECTRIC BOYS - Starflight United (2014)

ELECTRIC BOYS - Starflight United (2014) full

* No cuts

"Starflight United" is the brand new studio album from Swedish rockers ELECTRIC BOYS released today in Scandinavia only through Ninetone Records.
With their comeback 2011 album the Boys marked a warm return for a band many fans have waited to see perform and record again, and this new record is even better, including some songs that gonna be Electric Boys staples right out the gate.

After step in the stages again the guys had so much fun that they decided to make another album with their unique brand of hard rock with power funk and here it is.
"Starflight United" is more rock 'n roll than funk but the funk 'n roll is still there in tracks like "Junk In The Trunk" and the ridiculously catchy "Tramp".
We also find a mix of funky grooves with melodic rock on the jumpin' "BASF" (Born Again Super Funky), while title track "Starflight United" adds some psychedelia to its hard rock foundation.

As said, half of the material is more rockin' oriented than before, as hear on the melodic hard rockers "Desire", the bluesy upbeat "If Only She Was Lonely" and the terrific ballad "Ain't No Gettin' Over You", all akin Aerosmith and alike.
Note that I didn't mentioned opener and first single "Spaced Out" (already presented on this blog in an advanced singles compilation) which is a rocking track as well, but it is the weakest on the album, not bad at all, but the wrong opening track / single in my opinion.
"Gangin' Up" rocks with a glammy rhythm, and the midtempo "Lucy Fur" has a beatlesque melody with a nice guitar work. The CD ends with the groovy "59 High Mountain St.", a jammin' track with a 'lively' vibe.

ELECTRIC BOYS - Starflight United (2014) inside

These Swedes are an extremely fun bunch of rockers and this new "Starflight United" confirms their good taste cleverly combining hard rock, funk and groove.
Electric Boys 2014 sound is modernized, but remains intact with their hard rock roots, with the signature funk/swing waves the band delivered throughout earlier releases that made them so distinct.
"Starflight United" is just so damn cool it speaks for itself. The Electric Boys are a virtually unknown band in the US, but in Scandinavia they are living legends. They definitely deserve more appeal as they can give the young guns a serious run for their money.

01 - Spaced Out
02 - Desire
03 - If Only She Was Lonely
04 - Life Is So Electric
05 - Tramp
06 - Ain't No Gettin' Over You
07 - Junk In The Trunk
08 - Gangin' Up
09 - Lucy Fur
10 - BASF
11 - Starflight United
12 - 59 High Mountain St.

Conny Bloom - lead vocals, guitars
Franco Santunione - guitars, backing vocals
Andy Christell - bass, backing vocals
Niclas Sigevall - drums



FARMIKOS - Scapegoat / The Sound Of My Gun (2014)

FARMIKOS - Scapegoat / The Sound Of My Gun (2014)


FARMIKOS is the new L.A. band featuring former Ozzy Osbourne and David Lee Roth guitarist Joe Holmes and vocalist Robbie Locke (ex- Laidlaw), who are recording their debut CD.
Meanwhile the band has released separately some tracks from the album as sneak preview.

FARMIKOS is Joe Holmes' first venture under his own flag since first attaining local notoriety with Terriff, an L.A. band he formed after taking guitar lessons as a teenager from none other than original Ozzy axeman, Randy Rhoads.
Holmes eventually went on to replace ALS-stricken Jason Becker on the 1991 David Lee Roth 'A Lil' Ain't Enough' world tour. In the middle nineties, Holmes was brought to the attention of Ozzy Osbourne who was looking for a new guitarist to take over Zakk Wylde's spot for the 'Ozzmosis' album touring cycle. Holmes would go on to co-write three songs which appeared on Ozzy's 2001 album, 'Down To Earth'.

FARMIKOS - Scapegoat / The Sound Of My Gun (2014) photo

Recorded at the Mouse House in Pasadena, CA, with engineer/mixer Rich Mouser (Spock's Beard, Transatlantic), the songs also features guest contributions from Holmes’ former Ozzy Osbourne bandmate, bassist Robert Trujillo (now in Metallica), drummer Brooks Wackerman (Bad Religion) and writing collaborator Brent Hoffort (My Own Machine).
We have here two of these cuts, the riff-tastic "Scapegoat" combining a Lynch's Mob vibe with some Ozzy dark atmospheres, and the groovy "The Sound Of My Gun", recalling early Soundgarden yet much more technical.

I still remember attending to an Ozzy show in 1995, waiting for the crazy Zakk Wylde to appear on stage. It never happened... instead we were flashed by a monster (but incredibly clean) wall of guitars coming out from this (at the moment) unknown to me dude: Joe Holmes.
Owner of a terrific guitar tone and a polished technique, Joe Holmes will drop your socks off. Farmikos seems to be a promising vehicle for his talents as player as well as songwriter, a quite heavy, rocking stuff.

1. Scapegoat (4:48)
2. The Sound Of My Gun (6:23)

Joe Holmes - guitar
Robbie Locke - vocals
Robert Trujillo - bass
Brooks Wackerman - drums



WEAPON UK - Rising From The Ashes (2014)

WEAPON UK - Rising From The Ashes (2014) full


WEAPON UK were formed at the very end of the seventies, got a deal from Virgin, had a double sided single released and most notably supported Motorhead on a 32 date UK tour in the days when tour meant tour. A full LP was recorded, but the label decided not to release the album... the group broke up, and all the members headed off in different directions.
Success was found with Wildfire, Statetrooper and Paddy Goes To Holyhead for some of them whilst drummer Bruce Bisland found a degree of major fame as part of NWOBHM supergroups with Paul DiAnno and other ex members of bands like Praying Mantis, before joining with the reformed glam legends The Sweet.
Nothing more was heard from Weapon until 2005 when they regrouped to celebrate what would have been their 25th anniversary. A few gigs and rave reviews later, material written for a new album, and slight line-up changes Weapon went at it full throttle.
So to 2014 and the long awaited album, the very aptly named "Rising From The Ashes", has been released yesterday.

Although born in the NWOBHM years, the current incarnation of Weapon UK - featuring original members vocalist Danny Hynes and guitarist Jeff Summers joined by drummer Ian Sweeting and bassist PJ Philips - musically goes for Classic Hard Rock with British & American influences and a bright melodic sound.

The album starts with a synth based intro with "Prelude - The Awakening" leading perfectly into the first full length track "Ride The Mariah!", an instantly 'attention grabber' driven by a classic guitar groove and thundering drums, falling perfectly into harmony as the vocals hit. Catchy melody, great chorus hook, refrain leading to screaming guitar solo. The end of the song is actually one of the cleverest and most enjoyable parts – so often a time filling exercise in repetition. This time though it is full of melodic interplay between vocals and guitar, drums and bass giving them both a boot up the jacksy from behind. Great stuff indeed.

WEAPON UK - Rising From The Ashes (2014) logo

Then "Fountain Of Paradise" reminds me of classic Motley Crue (Dr. Feelgod era) or David Lee Roth Skyscraper years. Its got that crazy L.A. guitar hair metal sound, anthemic and with a rich production. Guitarist Jeff Summers (he is the main songwriter on the album) does seem to have a thing about sticky fingers in this one.
"Warrior" has some nice basswork in the mix, one of those stop start type of songs, great backing vocals match the perfect lead vocal delivery, add to this a stunning riff heavy solo and you have a truly outstanding song filled with melody.
Next one out the gate is "Ready 4 U", a radio-friendly cut with a commercial and catchy melody in the vein of say Bon Jovi or old school Bryan Adams. If this was released as a single i would think it would gain major airplay.

FX samples greets the beginning of "Burning Skies", a track with a different approach to what has come before, a little darker yet uplifting musically, filled with tales of doom yet strangely inspiring. Musically a very well written track, plenty of scorching guitar, pummelling drums and bass with vocals on top of it giving gravitas to proceedings.
"Alamein" is the ballad on the album, acoustically based, with awesome production values, lots of harmonic and backing vocals and emotional leads by singer Danny Hynes. If you want a comparison, think a little touch of White Lion's classic When The Children Cry, especially in the early part of the song.

"Wonderland" returns to the kick-ass sound, a meaty hard rocker with a marauding rhythm section really belting this one along, cool and injection fuelled guitar riff, vocals banging out the melody throughout. Throw in a cool refrain, widdling overload on the guitar solo and you have a diamond track.

Kind of back in that early Bon Jovi anthemic shout it out loud sound is "Blood Soaked Rock". Another quality song packed full with melody, memorable riffs and powerful rhythm beat behind it all. This one has 'single' written all over it, ready for Rock Radio and to blast your car stereo.

"Bad Reputation" is not a cover of Joan Jetts classic nor Thin Lizzy's song, this is another American sounding hard rocker with the backing vocals give the song a sing-a-long feel.
The final track is "Celebration Time" and it's another well produced radio friendly rocker with solid harmonies,
starting off with some cool fret sliding madness from Mr Summers before the rest of the quartet join in and he loses control of his fingers again at the end of the impressive guitar solo to very good effect.

"Killer Instinct" is presented as bonus track, because features all four of the original members – they have stayed friends through the years and it was only through misfortune that they couldn't all do the whole album.
I wondered if it would be old school NWOBHM but actually it reminds me of The Sweet in their heavier moments, perhaps not surprising with Bruce Bisland on drums. The intro is a great way to showcase the other two originals leading seamlessly into the track, bludgeoning guitar at the fore although never overpowering the rest of the band, more melodic vocals and hook.

WEAPON UK - Rising From The Ashes (2014) booklet

"Rising From The Ashes" by Weapon UK is some kind of a welcomed surprise.
This is not a band trying to rehash or re-create their old NWOBHM days, instead they wisely opted for create a solid, mature Classic Hard Rock album that reflects all the member's influences watered through these years.
Believe me, Weapon UK sounds terrific, melodic, sharp and hard rockin', blending classic British & American '80s / '90s Hard Rock with class.
STRONGLY Recommended.

01 - The Awakening (Prelude)
02 - Ride The Mariah!
03 - Fountain Of Paradise
04 - Warrior
05 - Ready 4 U
06 - Burning Skies
07 - Alamein
08 - Wonderland
09 - Bloodsoaked Rock
10 - Bad Reputation
11 - Celebration Time
12 - Killer Instinct (bonus track)

Danny Hynes (Vocals)
Jeff Summers (Guitar, Vocals)
PJ Phillips (Bass, Vocals)
Ian Sweeting (Drums)
Roy Shipston (Keyboards - Track 7)
Baz Downes (Bass, Vocals - Track 12)
Bruce Bisland (Drums - Track 12)



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Peo Pettersson's KINGS & DREAMS - Kings & Dreams (2014)

Peo Pettersson's KINGS & DREAMS - Kings & Dreams (2014) full


AOR / Melodic Rock connoisseurs are aware of Peo Pettersson's exceptional solo album Look What I’ve Started, a real gem for fans of the genre. Since the '80s the man has been in a number of rock bands, toured internationally and has also built up a great reputation as songwriter, arranger, programmer and producer of over 100 albums.
Now Peo is embarked in a new project together with guitarist Dan Bostrom: KINGS & DREAMS, who are releasing their self-titled debut.

Pettersson has played many musical genres, but with Kings & Dreams is returning to his first love: pure Scandinavian AOR / Melodic Rock '80s / '90s influenced plenty of catchy choruses, keyboard runs and melodies galore.
This Swede is a musical all-rounder. Not only he a terrific singer, but also an exceptionally gifted instrumentalist, playing - amongst other things - guitar, bass, keyboards and drums. And he writes damn fine songs!

Vibrant, pulsating melodic rockers in the vein of Bad Habit, Grand Illusion or Steelhouse Lane can be found on such numbers like "2000 Miles", the racing "Save My Soul", "Moments Of Grace" and the bouncy "Down The Road".
All is balanced by AOR cuts as the ultra melodic "In Your Arms", "Give It All Up", the bluesy ballad "Stay With Me", the great mid-tempo "How Can I Go On" or the ridiculously catchy, highly harmonized "Mayday".

Peo Pettersson's KINGS & DREAMS - Kings & Dreams (2014) inside

There's no doubts or modernisms in "Kings & Dreams"; if you like your Melodic Rock / AOR served in the classic way of things, you can't miss this wonderful CD.
Peo provides the awesome vocals and elegant instrumentation - seems well-known session musicians from Sweden play here as guests - but most of the music is performed by himself, and Dan Bostrom decorate all this beauty with scintillating solos.
Seriously, this is a must have for Melodic Rock / AOR fans, despite the baffling cover artwork that does not reflects the excellent material packed inside.
Highly Recommended.

01 - 2000 Miles
02 - In Your Arms
03 - Moments Of Grace
04 - It's Been So Long
05 - Mayday
06 - Give It All Up
07 - Save My Soul
08 - Stay With Me
09 - Mirror Mirror
10 - Down The Road
11 - How Can I Go On



RASPBERRY PARK - Scratchin' The Surface (2014)

RASPBERRY PARK - Scratchin' The Surface (2014) full


We had the pleasure to present here at 0dayrox the advanced single from new Danish outfit RASPBERRY PARK, and now the band are releasing their debut "Scratchin' The Surface", a disc that all fans of classy Melodic Rock, Hard Rock and AOR have to check it up.

Developed first as a songwriting team for other artists, Mikkel Bryde (vocals, keyboards) and Jes Kirstein (guitar) discovered they would rather play their own music, than let others do it. Therefore, they built a band and Raspberry Park was born from veterans of Denmark's rock music scene.
What these guys plays here is classic sounding American Melodic Rock with AOR & Hard Rockin' moments akin Giant, Hardline or Night Ranger with European touches like Dare or Alfonzetti.

RASPBERRY PARK - Scratchin' The Surface (2014) inside

And you'll love it. Because since the first bits of opener "On The Battlefield" you'll discover a mature band with a very special feel, faithful to the classic patterns of the genre but smarter and subtle, with efficient arrangements obviously focused on the melodic side however still providing fresh structures and a vivid spirit.
There's more edgier songs like "Paradise", "Let Them Burn", "Straight to the Bone" and "Dangerous Zone" with stronger riffs and a thick bottom end. Yet, none these skimp on groove, melody or crackin' guitar solos.

Raspberry Park takes a turn towards AOR with other songs like the breeze, bouncy and tasty chorus of "Can't Get Out", the slow burning of "I'm The Only One" and the radio-friendly, arena anthem ready, groove and guitar driven "Friends & Lovers", a definitive favorite.
The ballad on the CD arrives with "One Second", which features mostly Bryde's warm raspy vocals and his piano. His throat is varied in range, and while on the uptempo songs he rocks with a bluesy hard rock imprint, on this mellow tune he sounds truly intimate.

A wonderful surprise has arrived from Denmark: Raspberry Park.
The musicians involved here are all experienced veterans of the Scandinavian scene and it's quite obvious, as all the songs in "Scratchin' The Surface" sound flawless from start to finish, lean on a strong and catchy songwriting and you can't find any filler on sight.
The extraordinary musicality of Raspberry Park is enhanced by an impressive state-of-the-art sonic design, really really classy through a crisp production.
Known for a quite heavy artist roster, the first try for Power Prog Records with the Melodic Rock / AOR genre in the form of Raspberry Park is a perfect triumph, but with those highly talented players it was not risky and it was another sublime strategic move in order to permanently implanted their name in the Melodic Rock scene of today.
Don't miss Raspberry Park's "Scratchin' The Surface". It's Highly Recommended by this blog.

01 - On The Battlefield
02 - Dangerous Zone
03 - Paradise
04 - Can't Get Out
05 - Straight To The Bone
06 - I'm The Only One
07 - Friends & Lovers
08 - I'll Stay
09 - The Message
10 - Make Me Wonder
11 - Let Them Burn
12 - One Second

Mikkel Bryde - Lead Vocals, Keyboards
Jes Kirstein - Guitars
Jesper Andersen - Drums
Morten Maltesen - Bass



Monday, April 21, 2014

JOE ELLIOT's DOWN ‘N’ OUTZ - The Further Adventures Of… [iTunes bonus] (2014)

JOE ELLIOT's DOWN ‘N’ OUTZ - The Further Adventures Of… [iTunes bonus] (2014) full


"The Further Adventures Of…" is the second studio album by Def Leppard's frontman Joe Elliott side band the DOWN 'N' OUTZ. Featuring Joe on lead vocals and members of UK rockers The Quireboys (plus their former drummer Phil Martini), this new album delves deeper into the Mott The Hoople back-catalogue — reigniting catchy but more overlooked numbers like "Marionette", "One Of The Boys" and single "Rock N' Roll Queen".

"It's definitely more obscure", says Down 'n' Outz founder, Mott lover and Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott. "The game plan was to go where we couldn’t go with the first album. I just wanted these songs to get a fresh coat of paint and be heard."
Discussing the track selection process this time around, Elliott says: "I thought, 'what's my desert island playlist of Mott stuff?' I didn't want to do Roll Away The Stone, All The Young Dudes... the obvious ones. I wanted to go deeper and make it a proper record of rarities".

The Down 'n' Outz line-up was initially conceived — by Elliott, with members of The Quireboys — as a one-off live project to open for Mott The Hoople at the Hammersmith Apollo in 2009. They performed a "cherry-picked, post-Mott" set, including tracks from spin-off act British Lions and Ian Hunter's solo records. A delighted reception ensued.
"We did the gig, went to the foyer bar and got nailed to the wall by tearful and enthusiastic Mott and British Lions fans," Elliott remembers. "Somebody said, 'you HAVE to go and record those songs!' So we did."

JOE ELLIOT's DOWN ‘N’ OUTZ - The Further Adventures Of… [iTunes bonus] (2014) inside

If you liked the previous album, you will like this even more. More than that: if you didn't liked the 1st, you will like this one instead. Why?
I think this second CD "The Further Adventures Of…" is much more solid than the debut from the combo, with and edgy rockin' vibe akin Thin Lizzy, seventies Queen (just check "Marionette") and even early Def Leppard.
Additionally, production is more polished and clear, the arrangements more elaborated and overall, all sounds wonderfully melodic. Co-producer Ronan McHugh also plays some bass parts on the album along with guitarist Paul Guerin and Mark 'Snake' Luckhurst (ex- Thunder) who played live with the band in 2011.
STRONGLY Recommended.

01 - Rock and Roll Queen
02 - Stiff Upper Lip
03 - Marionette
04 - One of the Boys
05 - Whizz Kid
06 - Violence
07 - The Journey
08 - Drivin' Sister
09 - Original Mixed-Up Kid
10 - Crash Street Kidds
11 - Broadside Outcasts
12 - The Revenge of the Shipwrecked Hedgehog
13 - Sea Diver (iTunes exclusive Bonus Track)
14 - One of the Boys [Radio Edit] (iTunes exclusive Bonus Track)

Lead Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Percussion - Joe Elliott
Lead & Rhythm Guitars - Paul Guerin
Rhythm Guitars - Guy Griffin
Bass - Paul Guerin, Mark 'Snake' Luckhurst, Ronan McHugh
Drums - Phil Martini
Keyboards - Keith Weir



LANEY'S LEGION - Laney’s Legion (2014)

LANEY'S LEGION - Laney’s Legion (2014) full


Commanded by talented Swede Chris Laney (Dynazty's producer), LANEY'S LEGION is about to release their self-titled debut tomorrow, April 22, 2014 via Perris Records. If you’re a fan of true Scandinavian Melodic Hard Rock you’ll be running out or logging on to your favourite record website to buy this awesome CD.
Yes, with Laney’s Legion’s self titled debut, we have one serious candidate for Album Of The Year.

Laney’s Legion got started in the back water of Laney’s solo career, he released two great albums, Pure (2009) and Only Come Out At Night (2010), and in between he has produced excellent albums for other artists. It was on the tour with the last Chris solo CD that the thoughts of making a full-time band of his backing band took place.
The guys – Mats Vassfjord (Impera, Grand Design) on bass, Patrik Jansson (Hellsingland Underground, Patrik Jansson Band) on drums and John Berg (ex-Dynazty) on lead guitar – had become a real tight unit and Laney felt that this felt more like band than a solo career.
Said and done, in 2011 the band started to write and record songs for their debut album with co-producer and co-song writer Anders Ringman at hand. But it was soon clear that John Berg’s heart wasn’t in it anymore and both parties decided to part ways as friends. Musical differences and the fact that Berg was much younger than the rest of the band were noted as the reasons for the split.
This meant that the hiring of a new lead guitarist was in order. Enter: Rob Marcello.

The incredible Rob Marcello is a Stateside living Swede who has played both with Ron Keel and most recently with Danger Danger and is a real guitar hero, the way they were made back when it was important for musicians to be able to play their instruments.
Marcello and Laney had been friends for years and Marcello dug Laney’s new material and wanted in just as bad as the rest of the Legion wanted him in. And it was this unit that finally recorded the album – an album that’s been a long time coming.
Listening to this CD, it almost sounds like a joke that the band got turned down from label after label, one of the bigger ones with the notion that the music was 'too modern'. Come on already! Sure, the songs aren’t the jukebox of Laney’s record collection that were his solo albums and you’ll find a broader set of influences on this album, but too modern? No way, this is pure Scandinavian Melodic Hard Rock.

LANEY'S LEGION - Laney’s Legion (2014) inside 2

Just taste opener “On And On”. It has a riff that blow you out, with a great Shotgun Messiah hard rockin' feel and a Def Leppard sounding break. The song has a melody that won’t leave your mind and I’d vote for this to be the live opener as well.
First single “Taste Of Your Tongue” has verses that gives that sounds built for modern radio, I know it’s common practice to hate Nickelback so not to deter anyone I have to state that it doesn’t sound like Nickelback, just an influence and the chorus is just so catchy it’s ridiculous – what a brilliant tune.
Second single “Poptastic” sticks out of this album like a sore thumb. It’s a great poppy / MR song that is so cheesy that it really takes all the cheesiness away. What does “Poptastic” mean? Well, that no matter how great a rock or metal band might be, they would be nothing at all without a little bit of pop. Ain’t that the truth. If our calendar said 1988, that song would be a smash hit. It also really should be one in 2014. I’m gonna make that my hit of summer 2014 anyway.
“Beneath The Surface” has this heavy and groovy riff that brings Def Leppard’s Slang era to mind at times, still with more hooks than a fishing store. I’d consider this a single as well.

Of course, no Melodic Hard Rock album is complete without a ballad, but on many albums it feels like the ballad is written just for the sake of having a ballad on there. But that’s not how this bunch does it. “Bleed Within” is more of an uptempo ballad than a power one and a ballad doesn’t get any better than this. The refrain is just awesome and it sticks in your mind like super glue. If “Poptastic” doesn’t become a hit, then “Bleed Within” should. In a fair world, both of them should be huge.
“Let’s Get It On” is rhythmic, catchy, rocking and everything you’d want from a Melodic Rock song. I’d say this is a hit as well. With “Hollow” the Legion goes down a more metal route. To my ears it sounds like a mix of Second Coming era Shotgun Messiah, Laney’s former band Randy Piper’s Animal with a bit of Laney’s solo stuff thrown in – awesome!

The only song on this album that really sounds like Chris Laney’s solo albums - that means elegant & catchy - is “Assassin Of Our Love”, a brilliant commercial song that has a contagious melody. “No One Can Stop Us” is a superb Hard Rock tune, but with some darker undertones here and there which makes for a more unpredictable experience.
“Legion” must be seen as this album’s title track and is the last one on here. A smart move as with that song, the album leaves us in a rocking mood. The track is the heaviest on the album and if “On And On” isn’t the show opener then I’d go with this one.
Also, by ending the album with a possible show opener, it makes you want to go back and play the album again and again.

When you name check every damn song on an album and you don’t have a bad thing to say about one of them, someone has been doing something damn bloody right. The production by Laney and RingMan (Anders Ringman) is close to perfect for music like this.
It’s a big, fat sound, commercial, but still rough around the edges with a clear and shining melodic sound, in your face but not sterile. The album is dedicated to Mutt Lange (Def Leppard, Bryan Adams) and I can see why... the production on this record is awesome, believe me.

LANEY'S LEGION - Laney’s Legion (2014) inside

The musicians on "Laney’s Legion" also needs to be mentioned. Patrik Jansson is one of those more rhythmic drummers that leans on groove more than anything else which gives this kind of music a nice twist. He and Vassfjord are a really tight foundation and the backbone on this album.
Marcello is just plain fantastic. Even tough I have know of him before I haven’t really heard him play like this before. If you’re into technical and emotional players, then get ready get blown away.
This album rocks. This is energetic, melodic, catchy, groovy, positive Melodic Hard Rock that is here to make you smile, to make you go for another beer, to have fun with and the truth is, this is one of the best and most complete from the genre I have heard in a long, long time.
Of course there are always some negative things with every album and on this one I have found two: 1) I didn’t write these songs, 2) I can only give this 10 points.
Album Of The Year? Probably... in my MHR Top10? That's for sure.

01 - On and On
02 - Taste of Your Tongue
03 - Poptastic
04 - Beneath the Surface
05 - Bleed Within
06 - Let's Get It On
07 - Hollow
08 - Lady Luck
09 - Assassin of Our Love
10 - No One Can Stop Us
11 - Legion

Chris Laney - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Rob Marcello - Guitar, Vocals
Mats Vassfjord - Bass, Vocals
Patrik Jansson - Drums, Vocals
thanks to Jon Wilmenius



Sunday, April 20, 2014

RATT - Out Of The Cellar [Rock Candy remaster] (2014)

RATT - Out Of The Cellar [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) full


One of the most awaited remasters by Rock Candy specialists was RATT's classic "Out Of The Cellar".
At this point, it's needless to describe this multi-platinum record that rocketed Stephen Pearcy & Co. to stardom, but for the new generations, here we go:

Nobody was prepared for the Los Angeles hard rock explosion of the early '80s except, funnily enough, the bands themselves. Activity in the clubs on Sunset Strip had reached tipping point by the time Mötley Crüe and Quiet Riot were packing out these venues and, just like an explosion in a circus, literally hundreds of bands came tumbling out of the hills ready and willing to claim a slice of the action.
Looking good and talking the talk might have worked for some but if you really wanted to hit the big time then you had to be loaded with talent and songs.

Step forward Ratt. With a successful independent EP eliciting a tsunami wave of major label interest, Ratt signed with industry heavyweights Atlantic Records and were put in the studio with rising production star Beau Hill (later to work with Winger, Warrant, Gary Moore) and record their debut album "Out Of The Cellar".
Issued in 1984, the results were spectacular; a record that became a three million seller and produced two hit singles in "Wanted Man" and "Round And Round", elevating the band to headline status almost immediately.
The secret to Ratt's success was a unique sound, killer songs and great performances especially from guitarist Warren DeMartini and vocalist Stephen Pearcy. Full of energy, unabashed enthusiasm, musical dexterity and hooks that were instantly embedded in the nation's conscience; this was a band that took no prisoners in their rise to success.

RATT - Out Of The Cellar [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) back cover

I really dig this remastering shaped from 24 Bit digital technology; stronger bass frequencies, rich in harmonics and really well balanced. Forget that flat original CD editions, this is the real deal.
A Must Have Classic.

01 - Wanted Man
02 - You're In Trouble
03 - Round And Round
04 - In Your Direction
05 - She Wants Money
06 - Lack Of Communication
07 - Back For More
08 - The Morning After
09 - I'm Insane
10 - Scene Of The Crime

Stephen Pearcy - lead vocals
Warren DeMartini - lead & rhythm guitars
Robbin Crosby - lead & rhythm guitars
Juan Croucier - bass
Bobby Blotzer - drums, percussion



KERRY LIVGREN - Seeds Of Change [Rock Candy remaster] (2014)

KERRY LIVGREN - Seeds Of Change [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) full


If you are a Kansas fan, then "Seeds Of Change", the solo release from keyboardist/guitarist KERRY LIVGREN is the stuff of legends. Quite hard to find for many years, now it's being reissued by Rock Candy Records with a pristine remastering.

Of all the greats to emerge from the vibrant American scene in the seventies, few could match the grandiose vision of Kansas. Rising up from relatively inauspicious beginnings in Topeka, in less than a decade they were crafting multi-platinum albums and selling out arena tours right across the States.
One of its founding members and primary songwriter, guitarist Kerry Livgren was the chief architect behind that inexorable rise to success and songs such as ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ and ‘Dust In The Wind’ became indelibly etched on the musical psyche of a generation.
As the decade drew to a close, however, inevitable changes were beginning to sweep through the Kansas camp.
Pieced together during snatched moments of downtime away from the ‘Audio Visions’ recording sessions, Livgren’s first solo album "Seeds Of Change" is a long forgotten jewel.

Featuring guest appearances from most of his Kansas colleagues, as well as guest appearances from the likes of Ronnie James Dio, Jethro Tull drummer Barrie Barlow and Ambrosia frontman David Pack, it not only showcased the guitarist’s versatility as a songwriter, but also allowed him to push the envelope like never before.
"Seeds Of Change" has a spectrum of songs that would sit comfortably on a Kansas album to those that would not.
The album’s high points are the two songs sung by Ronnie James Dio - who had then recently replaced Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath after himself having been replaced in Rainbow by Graham Bonnet - "Mask Of The Great Deceiver" and "To Live For The King".

"Mask Of The Great Deceiver" is the masterpiece of the project, worthy of album-closer status, but too awesome to hold off for that long. One of the proggiest pieces here, weighing in at 7:34, with nearly two-minutes of majestic synth and guitar engulfing the listener before the late, great Ronnie James Dio’s unmistakable pipes appear. This is one of the most impassioned performances that Dio ever laid down on tape, which is unusual, as he didn't write the lyrics.
The bass work by Atlanta Rhythm Section's Paul Goddard is more memorable than any ARS song I can recall; and Jethro Tull’s Barriemore Barlow drumming is full of tasty high hat and double bass play.
It’s an essential Dio track that deserves broader distribution.

KERRY LIVGREN - Seeds Of Change [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) back cover

Jeff Pollard of LeRoux belts out a strong vocal lead on "Just One Way", the most Kansas-like song on the album "How Can You Live" is appropriately sung by Steve Walsh, while closer "Ground Zero" is another fantastic piece where Ambrosia’s David Pack takes the mic and half of Kansas members provide the instrumentation.
"Seeds Of Change" is a record that still sounds fresh today, even more with this Rock Candy remaster.
Highly Recommended.

"Just One Way" (Track #1)
Lead Vocals - Jeff Pollard
Drums - Barriemore Barlow
Bass - Paul Goddard
Trumpets and Percussion - Bobby Campo
Background Vocals - Jeff Pollard, Mylon LeFevre, John Fristoe
Guitars, Piano, Synthesizers - Kerry Livgren

"Mask of the Great Deceiver" (Track #2)
Vocals - Ronnie James Dio
Drums - Barriemore Barlow
Bass - Paul Goddard
Guitars, Synthesizers - Kerry Livgren

"How Can You Live?" (Track #3)
Lead Vocals - Steve Walsh
Drums - Barriemore Barlow
Tambourine - Bobby Campo
Background Vocals - John Fristoe, Joey Jelf, Mylon LeFevre
Bass, Guitars, Piano, Organ, Synthesizers - Kerry Livgren

"Whiskey Seed" (Track #4)
Vocals - Kerry Livgren, Mylon LeFevre
Drums - Phil Ehart
Bass - Paul Goddard
Harmonica - Darryl Kutz
Background Vocals - "The Moaning Multitudes"
Guitars, Mongo Drums - Kerry Livgren

"To Live For the King" (Track #5)
Lead Vocals - Ronnie James Dio
Drums - John Thompson
Bass - Gary Gilbert
Background Vocals - Joey Jelf, Steve Walsh, Donna Williams
Guitars - Kerry Livgren

"Down to the Core" (Track #6)
Lead Vocals - Davy Moire
Drums - Barriemore Barlow
Background Vocals - Victoria Livgren
Horns - Bobby Campo
Bass, Guitars, Clavinet, Fender Rhodes - Kerry Livgren

"Ground Zero" (Track #7)
Drums - Phil Ehart
Lead Vocal - David Pack
Background Vocals - Donna Williams, M. LeFevre, Davy Moire
Violins - Robby Steinhardt
Gong - John Thompson
Piano, Guitars, Synthesizers, Percussion - Kerry Livgren



Saturday, April 19, 2014


ALAIN CONCEPCION - R (2014) full


ALAIN CONCEPCION is an experienced Spanish singer with an extensive Rock background as member of hard rockers Heyser, progsters Psichodelical Dèja Vu or collaborating with Soulitude (metal) just to name few.
Now, Alain took the challenge to continue his career as solo artist, and is presenting to the AOR world his debut "R".

Musically, Alain Concepcion goes here for his true love: AOR / Westcoast with Melodic Rock waves. Prove of his passion for seminal AOR music is the inclusion - among seven of his originals - of 3 covers of classic songs from the genre.
The disc opens with "If I'm Losing You", an AOR number with a wonderful piano, deep harmonies and elegant guitars which hook you at first listen. Next appears the first cover, Michael McDonald's "I Keep Forgettin" done really faithful to the original with the typical L.A. sound. Quite sensual performance by Alain surrounded during the chorus by a trio of female voices.

"This Last Dance" is one of my favorites; a hypnotic AOR melody with an organic instrumentation (keyboard dominated), followed by the smooth Westcoast of "Can't Touch You Anymore", another strong original.
The second cover on the album is the spectacular "Give Me The Reason" made famous by Luther Vandross. Mr. Vandross would be proud of it, as Alain's voice turns 'black' and soulful, combining R&B with breezy Californian sounds.

ALAIN CONCEPCION - R (2014) inside

"I Want To Live" is another highlight, a 7 minute track where Alain takes us into a journey to the '80s blending FM AOR with sweet Westcoast melodies. "True Story" brings upbeat Melodic Rock to the table with modern guitars, while "I Have Known" is delicate and soft.
The disc ends with a cover of one of the most iconic AOR tunes ever; Journey's "Who’s Criyin' Now". A bit mellower than the original, Alain has wisely chosen to tweak the main arrangement to fit his voice and the result is more than satisfactory.

"R" is a smooth, elegant and intense album in a style rarely seen in today's music. Alain Concepcion puts all his love for AOR / Westcoast at the service of these passionately performed songs, accompanied by solid musicians and a vivid production.
A delightful surprise from Spain.

01 - If I'm Losing You
02 - I Keep Forgettin'
03 - This Last Dance
04 - Can't Touch You Anymore
05 - Give Me the Reason
06 - I Want to Live
07 - True Story
08 - I Have Known
09 - Never Will Come Today
10 - Who's Crying Now?

Alain Concepcion - vocals
Bjorn Mendizabal Hansen - drums
Kike Mora - bass
Jagoba Ormaetxea, Javi Vega - guitar
Julio Veiga, Mikel Núñez - keyboards, piano



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