Monday, June 30, 2014

YES - Heaven & Earth (2014)

YES - Heaven & Earth (2014) full

* press copy HQ

"Heaven & Earth", due in July 18, 2014 from Frontiers Records, marks another iteration of the long-standing prog outfit YES, after the addition of new frontman Jon Davison, previously of Glass Hammer.
Chris Squire and Co, also made an innovation in the producers chair: the legenday Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, Journey, Foreigner) was hired to provide a classy and at the same time punchy sound.

Over the years, Yes has garnered a sound that reflects soaring vocals, huge symphonic work, and spiraling guitars. "Heaven & Earth" reflects all of this but on a softer level than in their heyday, much more melodic and not 'so' progressive.
Of course there's Geoff Downes moog solos, Steve Howe's characteristic guitar legato triplets and long compositions with varios passages - just like the good old times, but this Yes 2014 is much more accesible.
On many places, "Heaven & Earth" sounds like Asia.

YES - Heaven & Earth (2014) inside

When the first track "Believe Again" was presented as advance two weeks ago, I read horrible things about this new Yes album. Uninspired, boring, too much commercial were the words... I don't understand these people.
What were they expecting? Another 'Roundabout'? Have you have listened the Yes of the last 30 years?
Besides, you can't judge an album just by a song.
"Heaven & Earth" is commercial and melodious, but still retains Yes' trademark prog signatures.

Yeah, maybe opener "Believe Again" is too much simple and easy to the years, but it's nice and with very fine harmonic vocals and carefully crafted lyrics. Talking about the vocals, new singer Jon Davison sound a lot like Jon Anderson, but you can't fault him, as already sounded like Anderson on Glass Hammer. And he is good at the mic, and also writing lyrics.
Second song "The Game" is reminiscent of early Supertramp in its structure, but sonically is quite neo-prog and modern if you ask me. I like the subtle guitar work in the background, and the spacey solo.
Standout track "To Ascend" includes the exquisite guitar finger picking of Steve Howe. The lyrics are very deep and transpire memories of early Yes.
The album ends with the solid "Subway Walls", which reflects the precision musicianship that has surrounded Yes throughout their entire career.

I'm sorry for radical Progsters if you don't like "Heaven & Earth". But this is has been the Yes of the last decades; neo progressive, melodic, with accessible arrangements and lots of sweet keyboards and harmony vocals.
New singer Jon Davison will please everybody, and he has really been involved in the craft of this new record as co-writes most of the songs. Roy Thomas Baker's sleek production provide the necessary air for every instrument to breathe, and the result is warm and classy.
One of greatest - at this point classic rock - bands of our time, Yes continues releasing good material after almost 50 years of existence.

1. Believe Again
2. The Game
3. Step Beyond
4. To Ascend
5. In A World Of Our Own
6. Light Of The Ages
7. It Was All We Knew
8. Subway Walls

Jon Davison – Lead & Backing Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Steve Howe – Electric, Acoustic & Steel Guitars, Backing Vocals
Geoff Downes – Keyboards, Programming
Chris Squire – Bass, Backing Vocals
Alan White – Drums & Percussion



RED BERTOLDINI - Red Bertoldini (2014)

RED BERTOLDINI - Red Bertoldini (2014)


RED BERTOLDINI is well known name in central Europe as the drummer of cult metallers Dark Lord and later became vocalist for bands such as Mary Rose and hair metal glammers Foxy Lady and Rebel Toys.
Between 1991-92 Bertoldini recorded a bunch of Melodic Hard Rock songs by his own with the intention to launch himself as solo artist, but with the musical climate changing, all these tapes were shelved.
Now DeFox / Heart Of Steel Records has announced the never published debut album from Red Bertoldini.

These, are in fact, pre-production demos to show the material at record companies. But the sound and mix are really good with an analogue feel which make the songs even more interesting.
Bertoldini's pipes are quite powerful, soulful and blues-infused in a Coverdale vein, while the musicians involved include the talented guitar virtuoso Alex Masi.

RED BERTOLDINI - Red Bertoldini (2014) inside

Solid original compositions like the groovy Lynch Mob-like "Strong Emotion", the pumping "Lay Down" recalling John Sykes' Blue Murder (one of the highlights) and the catchy melodic rocker "Red Car" are really good numbers.
"Restless Soul" is a midtempo driven by strong acoustic riffage with a Kingdom Come feel, "Make it Sure" akin Van Halen (thanks to Masi influences), while "Back In Town" takes a Cinderella bluesy path.

Bertoldini also wanted to show his capable throat on two hard-to-cover classics; an energetic version of Whitesnake's "Fool For Your Loving" sung with passion and accompanied by a tight instrumentation, and a good take on Zepp's"Rock'n'Roll".
"Red Bertoldini" it's a very nice addition to your collection, one of these kind on 'rare, lost recordings' that really worth to listen.

1 - Strong Emotion
2 - Lay Down
3 - Red Car
4 - Restless Soul
5 - Make It Sure
6 - Back In Town
7 - Fool For Your Loving
8 - Rock'n'Roll

Red Bertoldini - Vocals
Alex Masi - Guitars, Bass
Tonii T. - Drums
Add. musicians:
Cristian Olivieri - Bass
Sergio "Bolla" Bollani - Bass
Alberto Stevanato - Guitars
Mario Dei Rossi - Guitars



SEVEN HARD YEARS (7HY) - No Place In Heaven (2014)

SEVEN HARD YEARS (7HY) - No Place In Heaven (2014) full


SEVEN HARD YEARS (7HY) is the brain child of former SHY drummer Alan Kelly who over the last few years has continued writing in his spare time at his studio in Cornwall UK, to deliver a world class slice of Melodic Rock / AOR full of catchy riffs and powerfully emotive songs.
Time has come, and 7HY finally is releasing today, June 30th, their debut album “No Place In Heaven”.

When Alan presented the songs to Roy Davis (SHY bass player and CEO of Lynchburg Records) his reply was 'this album had to be done'.
They recruited for this project some serious talent in the shape of US based singer Shawn Pelata (Line Of Fire), Dave Martin (former guitarist for Marshall Law), Martin Walls (After Hours), Elliot Kelly (Ocean City), Claire Kelly and of course Roy Davis.

This debut kicks-off with the powerful tune of "Angels Fly", a pumping melodic rocker driven by the mammoth bass lines of Roy Davis and a steady drumming by Kelly, all adorned with clean guitars (which turn distorted during the chorus) and featuring some impressive vocal delivery by Shawn Pelata.

Then track 2 "Hold Me Now" offers the first AOR cut on the CD, with a sound reminiscent of the Scandinavian scene, but the backbone songwriting is typically British... typically SHY I'd say. And I like it!
Next there's the groovy midtempo ballad "Live Without You" akin Gary Hughes / Ten, a catchy melodic rocker in "You Lie", and AOR return with "Call Me Tonight", this time with a modern approach and keyboards in the background.

"Never Meant To Hurt You" is another interesting moment here; a mid-tempo, piano-driven tune with a cool harmony and a Queen-esque feeling.
"No Place In Heaven" is a pure melodic rock bliss with elegant melodies, clever choruses and superb arrangements make this number one of the absolute highlights on th album.
The short (2:35 minutes) yet effective rocker "Say What You Gotta Say", the AORish "Say Those Lies" (with very good harmony vocals) "Show Some Emotion" and its bluesy groove, and the '80s AOR synths of "You Are The One" completes this very solid, entertaining debut by Alan Kelly's 7HY.

SEVEN HARD YEARS (7HY) - No Place In Heaven (2014) inside

One of the unexpected surprises of the year, 7HY's debut “No Place In Heaven” will please not only SHY and Melodic Rock / AOR fans in general, but also rockers looking for something refreshing.
The album is quite '80s / '90s in its conception, but the sound is very modern and Kelly avoid the cliches trying all the time to add his own twist to the genre.
“No Place In Heaven” is catchy, highly melodic and well worked out in the studio, as said, a pleasant surprise for the Melodic Rock / AOR community.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Angels Fly
02 - Hold Me Now
03 - Live Without You
04 - You Lie
05 - Call Me Tonight
06 - Never Meant To Hurt You
07 - No More Yesterdays
08 - No Place In Heaven
09 - Say What You Gotta Say
10 - Say Those Lies
11 - Show Some Emotion
12 - You Are The One

Alan Kelly (ex- Shy) - Drums, Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Shawn Pelata (Line of Fire) - Lead Vocals
Dave Martin (Marshall Law) - Lead Guitar
Martin Walls (After Hours) - Bass
Roy Davis (Shy) - Bass, Backing Vocals, Production
Elliot Kelly - Guitar
Claire Kelly - Bass



Saturday, June 28, 2014

ACACIA AVENUE - Cold (2014)

ACACIA AVENUE - Cold (2014) full


A man with many strings to his guitar as being part of Fate, Fatal Force, Decoy, and as solo artist, Danish Torben Enevoldsen returns to his project ACACIA AVENUE after five years concentrating on his many other bands.
The very fact that AOR Heaven are putting their name behind this one should give you an inkling of where Acacia Avenue's musical heart lies, with Enevoldsen citing the likes of Survivor, Boston, Toto, Winger and Dokken as inspirations for this aspect of his musical psyche.
And it shows, for from start to finish "Cold" walks the line marked AOR and '80s / early-90s Melodic Rock and it does it superbly well.

Enevoldsen has some very talented vocalists (that have also helped out with co-writing) on board, a who’s who team in the melodic rock arena today: we have the awesome Rob Moratti (ex-Saga), Peter Sundell (Grand Illusion), Steve Newman (Newman), Torben Lyshom (Pangea, Mysterell) and others, who all contribute greatly in making this 11-track opus such a joyous listen.
Enevoldsen also handles bass, keyboards and supplies backing vocals to the entire platter and his talent shines through, as does the drumming precision of Fatal Force’s Dennis Hansen. But, onto the album.

The disc opens in great style with the very strong hard rocking track "Time" featuring Steve Newman, then Rob Moratti delivers a heavenly melodic performance on the highlight "Love Will Survive".
"It's Over" is a wonderful AOR midtempo with all the Scandinavian magic, same with the highly harmonized "Signs Of Love".
Other great numbers include the groovy title track with a solid lead vocal work by Torben Lysholm and an instrumentation by Enevoldsen clearly inspired by Toto / Tommy Denander.
Steve Newman adds to the melodic rocker "Angelina" a bluesy touch, "How Many Nights" has a breezy melodic line and keyboard infusions all over, while Peter Sundell sings the elegant semi-ballad "Freedom From Doubt" closing the disc.

ACACIA AVENUE - Cold (2014) back cover

This is pure Melodic Rock / AOR carefully crafted by a really talented musician and wonderfully put together with the excellent vocalists cleverly chosen for each number. It’s the sort of music that no-one ever gets tired of.
Torben Enevoldsen’s guitar playing is nothing short of fantastic, loaded with hooks and soulful solos, tasty and melodic. He also provided a crisp and homogeneous production.
The album title "Cold" is the opposite of the material on offer here, if you like your Melodic Rock / AOR served with class and brilliance, you can't miss this second Acacia Avenue release.

01. Time (feat. Steve Newman)
02. Love Will Survive (feat. Rob Moratti)
03. It's Over (feat. Albin Ljungqvist)
04. Out Of The Business (feat. Mikael Roupé)
05. Signs Of Love (feat. Rob Moratti)
06. Cold (feat. Torben Lysholm)
07. Angelina (feat. Steve Newman)
08. You And I (feat. Mikael Roupé)
09. Calling Out (feat. Nicklas Sonne)
10. How Many Nights (feat. Torben Lysholm)
11. Freedom From Doubt (feat. Peter Sundell)

Rob Moratti - Vocals
Steve Newman - Vocals
Albin Ljungqvist - Vocals
Mikael Roupé - Vocals
Torben Lysholm - Vocals
Peter Sundell - Vocals
Nicklas Sonne - Vocals
Torben Enevoldsen - Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Vocals
Lars Frandsen-Melau - Piano on 6
Dennis Hansen - Drums



DEAD END HEROES - RoadKill (2014)

DEAD END HEROES - RoadKill (2014) full


For the end of the first half of the year German label AOR Heaven are unleashing two great albums for all Melodic Hard Rock enthusiasts to enjoy; one of them is DEAD END HEROES debut "RoadKill".
It’s hard to believe that Dead End Heroes merely started out as a bunch of instrumental songs laid down by Swiss drummer Daniel Voegeli. It seems that so impressed was guitarist / producer Rolf Munkes by the talent of the sticksman, however, that he suggested forming an actual band around these tracks.
And so was born Dead End Heroes, with Voegeli and Munkes being joined by German vocalist Carsten 'Lizard' Schulz (LaValle), Scottish bassist Paul Logue – best known for his work with Eden’s Curse – and keyboardist / Hammond organist Holger Seeger.

As debut albums go, "RoadKill" is right up there with some of 2014’s best releases.
The album swings into fashion with the pumping title track which gets things started with a great hard rocking vibe that doesn’t let up for all 11 songs. All players involved are top notch musicians and all help to create some very catchy, hook driven melodic Euro-styled hard rock music.

DEAD END HEROES - RoadKill (2014) inside

I hear elements of Whitesnake (1987) and Europe / Kee Marcello, but don’t expect a clone of either as Dead End Heroes definitely put their own spin on things and keep it fresh and vibrant all aver the record.
The song with the same name as the band, "Dead End Heroes", is a harder stomper with a backbone of pulverising drums and scorching leads, it’s bare bones hard rock bolstered by Schulz’s sleazy vocal rasp. Hell, this guy has a serious set of pipes that run amok here; effortlessly they blow the speakers as the guitars and bass work in cohorts to bring the levels of intensity to boiling point.

Guitarist & producer Ralph Munkes (Doogie White & La Paz) really shines on the record with some incredible lead work. If David Coverdale takes a listen to his lead work on my favorite track of the album, "Stormfront", he may very well take recently departed Doug Aldritch’s place!
Keyboard player Holger Seeger also tears it up here with superb, classic-styled keyboard solo, while his Hammond playing on many numbers on the CD really adds a lot to the songs.

DEAD END HEROES - RoadKill (2014) back cover

Nothing beats a debut album that boasts self-assurance by the bucket-load, and "RoadKill" just oozes class from beginning to end.
Dead End Heroes have recorded a superb classic Melodic Hard Rock record that exude a real mean streak and never comes to uninvited subtlety, despite the technical prowess of the musicians involved.
I truly hope the band get the proper well-deserved push as they definitely impress with this debut.

01. Roadkill
02. Dead End Heroes
03. Cry For The Moon
04. Feed The Flames
05. The Wind Howls Fire
06. Stormfront
07. Hands Off The Wheel
08. And The Loser Is
09. Technicolor Love
10. The Fire's Worth The Loneliness
11. Gambler's Crusade

Carsten Lizard Shulz - Vocals
Ralph Munkes - Guitars
Daniel Voegeli - Drums
Paul Logue - Bass
Holger Seeger - Keyboards



Friday, June 27, 2014

QUIET RIOT - Quiet Riot 10 (2014)

QUIET RIOT - Quiet Riot 10 (2014) full


A new outbreak of metal health is about to be unleashed amongst QUIET RIOT fans; the band returns with a new album released today, June 27th, entitled "Quiet Riot 10".
An awful lot has happened to Quiet Riot since they released their most recent album ‘Rehab’ in 2006, but after listening "Quiet Riot 10", I safely can affirm that the passage of time hasn’t softened their sound.

"Quiet Riot 10" marks the full-length recorded debut of the band’s current lineup, which cohered slowly in the wake of original singer Kevin DuBrow’s death in 2007.
Drummer Frankie Banali discussed the difficult process of moving on without DuBrow saying, “I knew that resurrecting Quiet Riot was going to be a major challenge and undertaking. You simply don’t replace a singer and personality like Kevin DuBrow because he was the complete package, the real deal and my best friend.
I never set out to replace Kevin, I set out to continue the band in his memory.

QUIET RIOT - Quiet Riot 10 (2014) band 2014

New singer Jizzy Pearl (Love / Hate, L.A. Guns, Adler's Appetite, Ratt) who joined the band late last year, handles the vocals for six of the 10 cuts, the other four are culled from some of DuBrow’s final live performances with Quiet Riot, which Banali says prove that “there is no denying that when Kevin died, he was at the top of his game.”
The line-up completes with talented Chuck Wright on bass and guitar wizard Alex Grossi, while ex- Quiet Riot bass players Rudy Sarzo (Dio, Ozzy Osbourne) and Tony Franklin (Whitesnake, Blue Murder) appear as guests on one track each.

The first 6 tracks are the new compositions featuring Jizzy Pearl, including the rocking single "Rock in Peace", the effective hard rocker "Bang for Your Buck" (my favorite from the bunch) and "Backside of Water" which reminds me Canadians Helix.
"Back on You" is more in the very first QR era vein, "Band Down" slows the tempo a bit for a groovy effect, while "Dogbone Alley" gives a wink to late seventies classic hard rock. Pearl fits well the material with his 'wasted' style.
The rest of the songs are with DuBrow recorded live between 2005-06, all previously unreleased and a nice farewell for his legacy.

"Quiet Riot 10" it's just that, 10 good songs from a band which that despite the adversities still keeps the fire burning.
My big problem with this material is production; while Banali's drums sound quite well as usual, the rest of the guys appear, at places, buried in the mix, resulting in a muddy output.
Anyway, Quiet Riot is alive, and these are good news for the Hard Rock community.

01 - Rock in Peace
02 - Bang for Your Buck
03 - Backside of Water
04 - Back on You
05 - Band Down
06 - Dogbone Alley
07 - Put up or Shut Up
08 - Free
09 - South of Heaven
10 - Rock 'n' roll Medley

Kevin DuBrow - Vocals (7-10)
Jizzy Pearl - Vocals
Frankie Banali - Drums
Chuck Wright - Bass
Alex Grossi - Guitars
Rudy Sarzo, Tony Franklin - guest Bass



AMBERIAN DAWN - Magic Forest [Japanese edition] (2014)

AMBERIAN DAWN - Magic Forest [Japanese edition] (2014) full


AMBERIAN DAWN is a Finnish sympho / prog metal band that has been around since 2008, and despite some major lineup changes over the years, they show no signs of slowing down in terms of quality.
With new lead singer Capri they’re back with their fifth official full length album "Magic Forest", released in Japan last week and ready to be edited in Europe.

Compared to their first four albums, "Magic Forest" has a much lighter tone, even commercial at places, with keyboards more prominently this time around and orchestrations making this easily their most epic sounding and most flavorful album to date.
Seems Amberian Dawn has been hard at work crafting new songs, making "Magic Forest" an entertaining album of melodic and sympho prog metal. But they still stay within the realms of what is expected in the genre, especially with a female vocalist.
Concerning the latter, Capri has a strong voice which, thankfully, does not go off into the ear piercing stratosphere. Excepting a song or two, her vocals are straightforward, singing what she's supposed to sing with an even delivery.
The exception is the melodic rolling chorus of "Son of Rainbow" which, along with the groove and fine guitar solo, basically lifts the song above most ever other one here.

AMBERIAN DAWN - Magic Forest [Japanese edition] (2014) inside

As with "Son of Rainbow", Amberian Dawn is always better when they temper songs with groove and simple catchy accessibility, with "Dance of Life" - featuring the awesome Swede Jens Johansson on keys - and "Cherish My Memory" being best examples.
They also do better when they put a bit more complexity into their arrangements, leaning more towards progressive metal. You might here some of this within "Agonizing Night" or "Endless Silence".

"I'm Still Here" is the perfect song to show what Amberian Dawn bring, catchy vocals, insane but not over the top instrumentals and a wicked keyboard to guitar solo. If there is any song to look up to decide if you are going to like this band or album this is it right here.
Other highlights include the regular edition closing track "Green-Eyed", a ballad where Capri sounds absolutely stunning, and the Japanese bonus track "Firefly" featuring Northern Lights' lead vocalist Peter James Goodman.

AMBERIAN DAWN - Magic Forest [Japanese edition] (2014) back cover

"Magic Forest" is a solid and effective sympho / prog metal record with catchiness in mind.
Amberian Dawn goes for simple melodies and arrangements full of hooks which makes the tunes very easy to digest, and the songs are short, to the point.
With a really good new singer and this fresh musical 'approach', more and better things are ahead for the band.

01 - Cherish My Memory
02 - Dance Of Life
03 - Magic Forest
04 - Agonizing Night
05 - Warning
06 - Son Of Rainbow
07 - I'm Still Here
08 - Memorial
09 - Endless Silence
10 - Green-Eyed
11 - Firefly (bonus track for Japan)

Capri - Vocals
Tuomas Seppälä - Guitar, Keyboards
Emil Pohjalainen - Guitar
Kimmo Korhonen - Guitar
Joonas Pykälä-aho - Drums
Markus Nieminen - guest Vocals on 8
Peter James Goodman - guest Vocals on 11
Jens Johansson - guest Keyboards



Thursday, June 26, 2014

SAGA - Sagacity (2014)

SAGA - Sagacity (2014) full


All praise to the person who came up with "Sagacity" as title for the brand new SAGA album to be released this June, 27th.
What to expect from the classy Canadians on their forthcoming album? - a little bit of everything really? Indeed.
Saga, truly your pizza and pie version of complexity and melody. Have another slice of Neo Prog-Rock or why not the Melodic Rock salad as your side-dish?
So many different levels and elements of music and each section just as important to their overall sound.

You have as always the distinctive and very excellent voice of Michael Sadler, the extensive keyboard attacks and arrangements, the classy guitar work, the interesting and groovy bass lines, and last but not least, the caged animal behind the kit.
You know, their characteristic sound.
However, they add a modern touch to their arrangements this time and it's perhaps more of the complex album than previous effort. With this in mind not much can go wrong if you enjoy the Saga.
Here's the quick track-by-track:

Opener, "Let It Slide", reminiscent of Worlds Apart and Heads or Tales only groovier and featuring biting guitar work. "Vital Signs" show the artistic side of Saga in a short but stylized song. On "It Doesn't Matter Who You Are", Gilmour gets to shine with an excellent performance.
"Go With The Flow", one of those song structures that Yes experimented with in the early seventies and Saga completed in 2014?

SAGA - Sagacity (2014) inside

"Press 9", space prog met '80s New Wave? It's clearly one of their most quirky songs as of lately. Merely the atmospheric (spacey) keyboard in the background, the laid-back guitar work and those vocal harmonies.
"Wake Up", completely different and aggressive in comparison to previous track. The chanting vocal line (Wake Up!) and the short number (2:34 min.) work as your... ehem, yeah, Wake Up call.

"Don't Forget To Breathe", based around Ian's guitar line and riff, adds a rocking spice to the album, "The Further You Go", mesmerizing... if you're tired of listening to the commercially side of music.
"On My Way", pull out some huge '80s like arrangement and structure from their massive back catalogue without sounding too similar or samey. The keyboard/guitar interlude do the trick and it's just a superb track.
"Luck", the return of the synthesizers with an AORish feel and one of my favorites. The epic closing track, "I'll Be", acoustic guitar intro followed up with teardrop-like ebony and ivory work and the powerful and catchy refrain. Pay extra attention to Crichton's perfect tone and solo here.

SAGA - Sagacity (2014) back cover

"Sagacity" is truly wonderful. Mature, stylized, elegant, rocking with needed to balance the Neo Prog melodic passages, and above all; truly great compositions.
With short, 12 song-format songs far from ordinary, Saga, after almost 40-year career shows to the world why still they are one of the greatest bands of the planet.

01 - Let It Slide
02 - Vital Signs
03 - It Doesn't Matter (Who You Are)
04 - Go With The Flow
05 - Press 9
06 - Wake Up
07 - Don't Forget To Breathe
08 - The Further You Go
09 - On My Way
10 - No Two Sides
11 - Luck
12 - I'll Be

Michael Sadler - Vocals
Ian Crichton - Guitar
Jim Crichton - Bass, Keyboards
Jim Gilmour - Keyboards, Vocals
Mike Thorne - Drums
Thanks to Urban Wally Wallstrom



LARS ERIC MATTSSON - Hot And Able 1983-85 (2014)

LARS ERIC MATTSSON - Hot And Able 1983-85 (2014) full


Swedish guitar virtuoso LARS ERIC MATTSSON has amassed a solid reputation as solo artist and with bands like Condition Red and Vision or working with the likes of Derek Sherinian, Alex Masi, Mark Boals an more. Recently, going through his catalogue he found a lot of stuff from the very beginning of his career, and felt some of those early compositions definitely should be heard.
"Hot and Able" is features 16 songs never officially released written by Lars for his first serious band called Joe Cool between 1983-85, now re-arranged and recorded according to modern times.

These songs represent Lars’ first serious compositions made for and originally performed by his band at the time, 'Joe Cool' which originally featured a female singer, later a male one when the band started adaping a more straight ahead hard rock style.
A few minor updates to the lyrics and music were made during the recording but mostly this is what they were like originally.

And what we have here from a young Lars Eric Mattsson's pen? ; Traditional Hard Rock from the first half of the '80s with a sound & style inspired by both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
You can hear song structures and appealing arrangements in the vein of Rainbow's Joe Lynn Turner / Graham Bonnet era (Lars voice recalls Bonnet on many cuts as well) and the first two albums of Yngwie Malmsteen with Jeff Scott Soto.
Also, of course, Alcatrazz's No Parole From Rock 'N Roll album.

LARS ERIC MATTSSON - Hot And Able 1983-85 (2014) inside

There's a lot of tracks to enjoy here, ranging straight rockers like title track "Hot and Able" to more refined and melodic numbers such as "The Dream Has Gone". We find a bluesy hard rock line on "Left Out In The Cold", and a remarkable guitar / keyboard interaction on "Do not Think It's Love".
The Purple influences are not too far away on "Run Tonight" with it's odd meter mid riff section, while "Stranger in Your Own Land" is a classic early 80-ies track with some neoclassical touches.

All is meticulously arranged, performed and recorded by Mattsson in his habitual polished style, rich in solid riffs and some hot soloing.
So if you like Classic Hard Rock in the vein of '80s Rainbow, the very first Yngwie, Alcatrazz, Michael Schenker Group and alike, "Hot And Able" is for you.
Quite Recommended.

01 - Hot and Able
02 - Takes One Fool
03 - Run Tonight
04 - Left Out in the Cold
05 - See the Stars
06 - Scarlet
07 - Don't Think It's Love
08 - This Wolf Hunts Alone
09 - Lay Down Your Sword
10 - Rock the Nation
11 - The Dream Has Gone
12 - Don't Throw Away
13 - Enola Gay
14 - Stranger in Your Own Land
15 - Eyes of a Liar
16 - Out On My Own

Lars Eric Mattsson - All vocals, guitars, bass
Christer Jansson - Drums and percussion
Alexander King - Hammond Organ



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

THE DOORS - Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine [Remastered] (2014)

THE DOORS - Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine [Remastered] (2014) full


"Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine" was THE DOORS second compilation album ever originally released in 1972 and first appeared after the death of Jim Morrison. The album's title is a lyric from the song "The End".
Strangely, "Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine" never was reissued until now, presented in a Deluxe Double CD Remastered, published by Elektra Records / Rhino.

There's has been countless The Doors compilations in the last 40 years, but none - in my opinion - of the quality of this "Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine", which, for the fans, is one of the 'real' greatest hits approved by the band back in 1972.

THE DOORS - Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine [Remastered] (2014) cd booklet

I'd said none in this quality because this remaster (really taken from the vault - original tapes) sounds incredibly pristine and with attention to respect the original 'LP vinyl warmness' and stereophonic of the era.

Additionally, two of the songs on the compilation, "Who Scared You" and "(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further" which were originally released as B-sides were not included on regular albums.
"Who Scared You" appeared in the The Doors: Box Set in 1997, but in an edited version obviously not taken from the original tapes and sounds like crap.
"(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further" appeared in the 2006 Perception box set, but again, the cut presented on this remaster is far superior.

THE DOORS - Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine [Remastered] (2014) back cover

"Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine" Deluxe Double CD Remastered is a must have in any Rock collection, a comprehensive resume from one of the most influential bands of all time; The Doors.
The excellent sound, the high quality artwork and the unbeatable price of this 2CD package invites you to grab the best The Doors greatest hits release ever.
A must have.

01. Break On Through (To The Other Side)
02. Strange Days
03. Shaman's Blues
04. Love Street
05. Peace Frog / Blue Sunday
06. The Wasp (Texas Radio And The Big Beat)
07. End Of The Night
08. Love Her Madly
09. Spanish Caravan
10. Ship Of Fools
11. The Spy
12. The End

01. Take It As It Comes
02. Runnin' Blue
03. L.A. Woman
04. Five To One
05. Who Scared You
06. (You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further
07. Riders On The Storm
08. Maggie M'Gill
09. Horse Latitudes
10. When The Music's Over

Jim Morrison – vocals
Robby Krieger – guitar
Ray Manzarek – piano, organ, bass, vocals
John Densmore – drums
Additional Personnel:
Doug Lubahn, Harvey Brooks, Jerry Scheff – bass
Larry Vinegar – acoustic bass on 9
Curtis Amy, George Bohanon, Champ Webb – horns
Paul Harris – orchestral arrangements



V.A. - Light My Fire : A Classic Rock Salute To The Doors (2014)

V.A. - Light My Fire : A Classic Rock Salute To The Doors (2014) full


A star-studded syndicate of Classic / Melodic Hard Rock legends have gathered together to pay tribute to one of the best loved and most influential bands of all-time: The Doors, on a new CD release titled "Light My Fire - A Classic Rock Salute To The Doors" released by Cleopatra Records today.
Produced by the extraordinarily talented Billy Sherwood, the album features brand new interpretations of classic Doors cuts that defined an entire generation, songs such as "Light My Fire," "Riders On The Storm," "Break On Through (To The Other Side)," "Love Her Madly," "L.A. Woman," "People Are Strange," and lots more!

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear some of The Doors' peers and prodigies tackle these seminal songs. Not one but two members of quintessential progsters Yes, keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman and lead guitarist Steve Howe, joined Deep Purple's Ian Gillan on the signature song, "Light My Fire".
Wakeman explains, "has always been one of those iconic tracks that keyboard players listen to because of the fact that there are so few tracks with keyboard/organ solos on them compared to our six-stringed buddies."

Another keyboard legend, Geoff Downes, likewise extolled the genius of Doors' organist Ray Manzarek saying, "It was a real privilege to be asked to participate in this project. Ray Manzarek was one of the pioneers of keyboard playing in rock music, and had a major influence on me and many others. His style was totally unique, and an integral element into what made The Doors sound the way they did."
Meanwhile, renegade guitarist Steve Morse, of Dixie Dregs / Deep Purple fame, recollects that The Doors were "a soundtrack, literally, for some of the most memorable times, good and bad, that I experienced as a young teen". Morse rocks on "Touch Me", alongside ex- Dream Theater Jordan Rudess.

We have all time favorite singers as well here: Jimi Jamison on the classic "L.A. Woman", ex- Foreigner living legend Lou Gramm on "Love Me Two Times", Joe Lynn Turner cracking "Riders On The Storm", Graham Bonnet (ex- Rainbow) doing "The Soft Parade", Mr. Big's Eric Martin on "Spanish Caravan", Ian Gillan and more.

V.A. - Light My Fire : A Classic Rock Salute To The Doors (2014) back cover

Lately Billy Sherwood has been conducting this type of tribute albums, and most the time with successful results. Add "Light My Fire - A Classic Rock Salute To The Doors" to the positive list.
He has managed to capture The Doors essence and transported it to a melodic rock canvas. It's a real pleasure listening some of these talented cats again (many quite retired from today's music scene) such as Lou Gramm, Jimi Jamison, Christopher North (Ambrosia) or David Johansen, all delivering very good performances.
Recommended Stuff.

1. L.A. Woman
Jimi Jamison (Survivor), Ted Turner (Wishbone Ash) & Patrick Moraz (Moody Blues)

2. Love Me Two Times
Lou Gramm (Foreigner), Thijs van Leer (Focus) & Larry Coryell

3. Roadhouse Blues
Leslie West (Mountain), Brian Auger & Rod Piazza

4. Love Her Madly
Mark Stein (Vanilla Fudge) & Mick Box (Uriah Heep)

5. Riders On The Storm
Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow), Tony Kaye (Yes) & Steve Cropper (Booker T)

6. The Crystal Ship
Edgar Winter & Chris Spedding

7. Intro (People Are Strange)
Keith Emerson, Jeff Skunk Baxter & Joel Druckman (John Fahey)

8. People Are Strange
David Johansen (NY Dolls) & Billy Sherwood (Yes)

9. Touch Me
Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Steve Morse (Deep Purple) & Nik Turner (Hawkwind)

10. The Soft Parade
Graham Bonnet (Rainbow), Christopher North (Ambrosia) & Steve Hillage (Gong)

11. Hello, I Love You
Ken Hensley (Uriah Heep) & Roye Albrighton (Nektar)

12. Spanish Caravan
Eric Martin (Mr. Big) & Elliot Easton (The Cars)

13. Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)
Todd Rundgren & Geoff Downes (Yes / Asia) & Zoot Horn Rollo (Capt. Beefheart)

14. Break On Through (To The Other Side)
Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad) & Chick Churchill (Ten Years After)

15. Light My Fire
Ian Gillan (Deep Purple), Rick Wakeman (Yes) & Steve Howe (Yes)

16. The End
Pat Travers & Jimmy Greenspoon (Three Dog Night)



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

CHICAGO - Now: Chicago XXXVI [Japanese Edition] (2014)

CHICAGO - Now: Chicago XXXVI [Japanese Edition] (2014) full


Frontiers Records will release worldwide next month the new CHICAGO album "Now: Chicago XXXVI", the band's full record of new compositions in the eight years since 2006's Chicago XXX.
Appeared in the Asian market last week, this Japanese version features 2 bonus tracks.

Chicago singer, keyboardist and co-founder Robert Lamm says that sticking the word "Now" at the front of "Chicago XXXVI's" title is no insignificant detail.
"There's a lot of reasons," Lamm says; "I think that there are many people who, whether they like Chicago or don't like Chicago, assume that what Chicago does is all what you hear on classic rock radio, or that Chicago is some dinosaur-like presence on the tour circuit.
And we just wanted to kind of change that perception if we could by suggesting *Now*".

Well, after my first listen of "Now", I have to disagree a little with Lamm... Chicago XXXVI does sound like 'classic Chicago'.
I mean, this is the Chicago that we - '80s AOR / Westcoast fans - love with passion.
The songwriting, the polished arrangements, the superb harmony vocals, the breezy melodies which made this legendary band famous during their most commercial Eighties era have returned aplenty with "Now" !!!
I think a great part of this achievement has been the extremely talented contributions of Lou Pardini with his first songwriting credits in Chicago since joining the band.

Besides, you can hear the magical touch of Jason Scheff on most of the arrangements, the drumming of monster Tris Imboden is clearly focused on '80s rhythms and even we have the heavenly guitar solos of Tim Pierce, the obligatory session musician in any quality record of the genre during the golden decade.
Of course the trademark Chicago horn section is present on the album, but used as orchestration for the melodies, which rule on this "Now: Chicago XXXVI".
The guitars are all over and are quite punchy (just check the awesome solo on the rocking "Free At Last") and the lead vocals range from powerful to ethereal. But for the most part this is an uptempo record.

Title track and opener "Now" is pure Chicago circa 1987 (their most brilliant era in my opinion) mixing a smooth L.A. groove with terrific harmony vocals during the chorus. Jason Scheff shines on lead vocals and the solo rocks hard.
Next, Robert Lamm offers some strong vocals on "More Will Be Revealed", a stomping AOR song littered with sweeping keys and dazzling horn arrangements. An then "America" begins with a lovely a cappella / multi-part harmony vocals section, before a throaty vocal leads off into a wonderful WestCoast number, something these guys just do effortlessly.

These 3 first tracks worth this CD alone.
Quality is maintained throughout the rest of the record, but I don't need to enumerate more. I can't find a weak track on "Now: Chicago XXXVI", seriously.
The impressive production values on this album really allow each and every vocal and instrument to sparkle.
If you like Classic WestCoast / AOR with a second half of the '80s sound & feel (the best in my book) do yourself a favor and don't miss "Now: Chicago XXXVI", an awesome, unexpected (by me, at least) new wonderful album by Chicago.

CHICAGO - Now: Chicago XXXVI [Japanese Edition] (2014) back cover

Avalon ~ MICP-11161

01. Now
02. More Will Be Revealed
03. America
04. Crazy Happy
05. Free At Last
06. Love Lives On
07. Something's Coming, I Know
08. Watching All The Colors
09. Nice Girl
10. Naked In The Garden Of Allah
11. Another Trippy Day (Japanese bonus track)
12. Introduction (Japanese bonus track)

Robert Lamm - keyboards, lead & backing vocals
Jason Scheff - bass, lead & backing vocals
Tris Imboden - drums
Keith Howland - guitars, vocals
Lou Pardini - keyboards, lead & backing vocals
Lee Loughnane - horns, backing vocals
James Pankow, Walter Parazaider - steels

Additional musicians:
David Williams, Michael O'Neil, Hank Linderman, Tim Pierce - guitars
Phillipe Saisse, Steve Lu, John Van Eps - keyboards, synths
Walfredo Reyes Jr., Luis Conte - percussion
Dorian Crozier - drums
Verdine White - bass
John McFee - fiddle
Harry Kim, Dan Fornero, Arturo Velasco, Nick Lane, Trent Gardner, George Shelby, Schiela Gonzales, Ray Herrmann Larry Klimas - horns

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



Monday, June 23, 2014

THE BABYS - I'll Have Some Of That! (2014)

THE BABYS - I'll Have Some Of That! (2014) full


THE BABYS, one of the most underrated bands of the UK scene, are back with their first album of new material in more than 30 years; "I’ll Have Some Of That", to be released tomorrow, June 24.
The 2014 lineup of the Babys features two original members, guitarist Wally Stocker and drummer Tony Brock, who are joined by guitarist Joey Sykes and bassist/vocalist John Bisaha. As previously reported, original singer John Waite and longtime keyboardist Jonathan Cain both declined to be part of the action, but gave their blessings on their new adventure.

For many, the most important 'shoes' to fill are those left behind by the band’s charismatic singer and frontman, John Waite. “No problem!” says Tony Brock, “John Bisaha is an incredible singer. When we held auditions, we had singers lined up around the block to join the band and John was head and shoulders above the rest.”
And indeed, Bisaha manages the neat trick of evoking Waite’s unique sound, while introducing a thrilling, personal touch that’s all his own.
That he manages all this while simultaneously slapping out out some mean bass guitar was truly the icing on the cake… and I ate it right up, song after song.

There's some truly melodic rock gems on this record like "I See You There" (recalling Bad English), a smoothly orchestrated and arranged delicious midtempo, the velvety and bluesy "After Midnight" suspended by a breathing and deep-rooted pace, or the highly harmonized "All I Wanna Do".
"Grass Is Greener" gets its juice with a just few choice, well-placed chords from Stocker's arsenal, while "These Days" finds both Stocker and Brock locking in like in The Babys heyday. Bisaha slides in effortlessly, and another sweet slice of hook-filled Babys grooves float out of your speakers.

THE BABYS - I'll Have Some Of That! (2014) inside

"Uncivil War" takes a dramatic turn, jolting the album's jovial spirit with a smack of rarefied intensity. Definitely an intriguing turnabout. The urgency of "You Saved My Live" brings you back the good rockin' times, and you can bet the funky "It's A Gas", the melodic "Stay The Night", and the riveting, all-in title track follow suit.

If you've been waiting for a Babys reunion, "I'll Have Some Of That" is the total package — brimming over with melodic riffs and hooks, booming vocals, and that classic, in-the-pocket bottom end.
The Waite may be gone, but The Babys have come back swinging and sounding better than ever. I’ll definitely have some of that!
Highly Recommended.

01 - Every Side of You
02 - All I Wanna Do
03 - Sunrise & Goodbyes
04 - After Midnight
05 - I See You There
06 - Grass Is Greener
07 - These Days
08 - Uncivil War
09 - You Saved My Life
10 - It's a Gas
11 - Stay the Night
12 - I'll Have Some of That

John Bisaha - vocals, bass
Wally Stocker - guitar
Tony Brock - drums
Joey Sykes - guitar
Alessandro Alessandroni Jr. - keyboards
Holly Bisaha, Elisa Chadbourne - backing vocals
thanks to Shawn Perry



Sunday, June 22, 2014

AMBROSIA - Road Island [Rock Candy remaster] (2014)

AMBROSIA - Road Island [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) full


The other AMBROSIA album remastered by Rock Candy Records is "Road Island", their fifth and final studio album until they reunited again several years after.

With the previous record, Ambrosia morphed into a hugely successful AOR unit, enjoying hit singles and mainstream media exposure very much in the breezy but precise style of Toto, Player and Steely Dan.
Of course, the icing on the cake was vocalist David Pack, a man whose voice has been compared to such masters of the art as Bobby Kimball, Michael McDonald and Steve Perry. "Road Island" saw them continuing with the commercial and catchy flavor of its predecessor, but tighten up a hard rocking approach and adding a touch of melodic progressive elements on some songs, blessed with ambitious arrangements.

Produced by James Guthrie (Pink Floyd, Queensryche), the album consisted of intense, driving hard rock (outside of the soft ballad "Feeling Alive Again" and the melodic progressive closer "Endings").
Musically brilliant, the record contains lashings of intelligently conceived tracks, such as "For Openers (Welcome Home)" and the epic "Ice Age". Other more traditional sounding melodic rock tracks included "Still Not Satisfied" and the commercial, melodious single "How Can You Love Me" - two of the band’s finest compositions.
After Ambrosia, David Pack pursued a solo career and produced or worked with many top artists. Pack's 1985 terrific solo album Anywhere You Go included the song 'Prove Me Wrong', which also appeared on the soundtrack of the film White Nights. Joe Puerta became a founding member of Bruce Hornsby and the Range.

AMBROSIA - Road Island [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) back cover

"Road Island" is my favorite Ambrosia record, as it includes superb melodic rock / AORish moments complemented with elaborated arrangements, all wrapped by a potent rocking sound.
The Rock Candy remaster is pristine and clear, much more defined than any "Road Island" previous CD edition.

01 - For Openers (Welcome Home)
02 - Still Not Satisfied
03 - Kid No More
04 - Feelin' Alive Again
05 - How Can You Love Me
06 - Fool Like Me
07 - Ice Age
08 - Endings

David Pack - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Joe Puerta - Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Vocals
David Cutler-Lewis - Synthesizer, Keyboards
Christopher North - Organ, Clavinet
Burleigh Drummond - Drums, Percussion, Background Vocals, Basso Profundo
Royce Jones - Background Vocals



Saturday, June 21, 2014

HALO BLIND - Occupying Forces (2014)

HALO BLIND - Occupying Forces (2014) full


At long last, a British progressive rock band has put out an album to rival the fabulous stuff coming out of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia right now; HALO BLIND, and their record "Occupying Forces".
And furthermore, it sets the bar at a new level for aspiring home grown Prog wannabes.

But Halo Blind is not your typical progressive band. Not at all.
Halo Blind born as Parade with which main man Chris Johnson started as a solo project after leaving Mostly Autumn, garnering the talents of Anne-Marie Helder (Panic Room) and Gavin Griffiths (Fish) to produce their debut album.
Following a change of name and the departure of Helder, Johnson has recruited ex-Seahorse Stuart Fletcher, Chris Farrell (The Yards) and Andy Knights (Chris Helme Band) to realise his new project, this fascinating "Occupying Forces".
And it's some project.

HALO BLIND - Occupying Forces (2014) logo

Combining all the elements that made British progressive rock the envy of the world – an understandable, relevant concept, uber-musicianship, exquisite songwriting and a thoroughly believable libretto – Halo Blind have delivered a work that is both staggeringly intense yet positively uplifting in equal measure.
Exploring the concept of the inner journey initiated by the death of a loved one and the need to make sense of the forces at work, both spiritual and pragmatic, that shape our responses to events over which we have no control – the album is both powerful and complex, yet completely accessible.

Kicking off the 14-track CD (mostly around the 4-minute mark) is the magnificent opener "Better?" with its nagging arpeggio guitar riff and unusual breakdown, it beggars the question ‘how is this going to get any better’?
The answer is – it doesn't. What it does do is maintain that impossibly high standard right through to the beautiful piano fade-out of closer "Control".
The musicianship and songwriting are exceptional – check out the melancholic and melodically expanded "Mirage", the beautiful piano-led "The Puppet", the captivating "Downpour" or the sheer class of "Coma" – anywhere you look there is an atmospheric, haunting beauty pervading the length and breadth of the work.

HALO BLIND - Occupying Forces (2014) inside

But, as I said before, Halo Blind is not your typical progressive band. And this is regarding their sonical approach.
The use of layering throughout "Occupying Forces" creates a dynamic soundscape, and that with a gradual build up of the sound coupled with distortion conveys the creeping sense of urgency and raw emotion on all songs.
Weaving a harmonic web throughout the album are the vocals of Chris Johnson and Andy Knights. Most notably on the tracks "Mirage" and "False Alarm" the carefully constructed harmonies both clash and compliment, in a way that can leave you feeling unsettled and secure all at once.
Musically, it's diverse and expansive, combining several influences yet in a very personal way.
Despite being unable to summarise with one genre, Halo Blind’s new release is a fantastic example of creative, captivating songwriting. The emotional depth within the overall product is nothing short of beautiful.

HALO BLIND - Occupying Forces (2014) back cover

I should conclude saying that "Occupying Forces" is not for everyone, but it is for everyone, for every music fan to discover something different, original, elegant, that escapes from the traditional patterns.
Halo Blind produces music of the new millennium, new, fresh and comparable to nothing heard before.
"Occupying Forces" is a significant album, not just as a throwback to the halcyon days of British progressive rock, but as a guiding template for how this sort of thing should be done.
If you do one thing today, open your ears to Halo Blind.
Astonishingly Good.

01 - Better?
02 - Revolutionary Soul
03 - Mirage
04 - Saturate
05 - Torrential
06 - Downpour
07 - End Of The First Side
08 - Brain Dog
09 - False Alarm
10 - The Puppet
11 - Smithereens
12 - Analogue
13 - Coma
14 - Control

Chris Johnson (Mostly Autumn, Fish): Vocals, Guitars, Keys
Andy Knights: Vocals, Guitars, Keys
Chris Farrell: Guitars, Mandolin
Stu Fletcher: Bass
Gavin Griffiths (Panic Room): Drums



JIMI JAMISON - Eye Of The Tiger 2014 (2014)

JIMI JAMISON - Eye Of The Tiger 2014 (2014) full


JIMI JAMISON has arranged with members of the Whitney Wolanin Band to re-record one of the greatest Melodic Rock songs of all time; "Eye Of The Tiger".
As you may know, Jamison was not part of Survivor when the band recorded the super hit for the movie Rocky. But Jimi recorded later his own version of the song.

The idea to re-record / instrumentally re-arrange "Eye Of The Tiger" born from the initiative of funk-master bassist Bob Babbitt (Robert Palmer, Phil Collins) and now in the Whitney Wolanin Band. He talked with Jamison and he agreed to provide the lead vocal tracks.
Babbitt and the guys from the Whitney Wolanin Band arranged & played the song in a very 'OST' way, as it is was heard on the movie. And I really like the results!
We have 3 versions of "Eye Of The Tiger"; the 'Anniversary Of Rocky III Mix' in its long (extended guitar solo) and edit versions, and the 'Sing along Instrumental Mix', with a cool 'end titles' feel.

Perhaps this release is only for Survivor / Jimi Jamison completists, but also for Movie Soundtrack collectors this is a must have.
Bah, it doesn't matter which genre you are fan of, everybody loves "Eye Of The Tiger", and this 'new' version is another one to treasure.

01 - Eye Of The Tiger - Anniversary Of Rocky III Mix (4:41)
02 - Eye Of The Tiger - Anniversary Of Rocky III Edit (3:55)
03 - Eye Of The Tiger - Sing along Instrumental Mix (4:39)



Friday, June 20, 2014

VALERIE - Dangerous (2014)

VALERIE - Dangerous (2014) full bonus track


If you are a fellow reader of this blog, you must remember VALERIE from Norway, presented on these pages a couple years ago with their debut CD. If you are new to them, you better listen this new ambitious Melodic Hard Rock band pronto.
And this new EP "Dangerous" is a nice advance of their sophomore album to be released later this year.

The EP, which is limited to 500 copies only, consists of the AOR-driven single "Night After Night", along with two tracks that will not be featured on Valerie’s upcoming second album; the extremely melodic, harmony layered "Hearts On The Line", and the jumping melodic rocker "Dangerous".

VALERIE - Dangerous (2014) inside

Additionally, to whom purchased the physical CD, there's as bonus a new 2014 version of "Love Is Like A Heart Attack", one of the best tracks from the debut album.
If you are fan of the sound from great Scandinavian AOR / Melodic Rock acts such as Da Vinci and Skagarack, you need to grab this one!

01 - Night After Night
02 - Hearts On The Line
03 - Dangerous
04 - Love Is Like A Heart Attack (New 2014 Version)

BT Valerie - Guitars, Lead Vocals
Augustus Clark - Bass, Vocals
Erlend Omdal - Drums, Vocals
Magnus Christiansen - Guitars, Vocals



KENZINER - The Last Horizon (2014)

KENZINER - The Last Horizon (2014) full


KENZINER was founded in the mid '90-s by Finnish guitarist Jarno Keskinen releasing two solid albums with the help of famous American axeman and producer David T. Chastain who offered Jarno a record deal and contributed into the songwriting and even asked his old good friends and colleagues to play in Kenziner as session musicians.
However Jarno suddenly hibernated Kenziner for many years. He founded a new band Virtuocity but that was short lived and then decided to withdraw from active work on music for almost ten years.
Now Kenziner is back with a fresh line-up (all from Finland) and a new album; "The Last Horizon".

Kenziner is a band with a recognizable European sound fluctuating between melodic metal with a neo-classical touch and a strong progressive metal influences.
Think Axel Rudi Pell, Yngwie, Timo Tolkki's Avalon and Brazen Abbot, but their compositions feature a very interesting, innovating edge and flourished arrangements all played with a real clean sound and the melody as a rule.
Singer Markku Kuikka reminds me Graham Bonnet but it is slightly higher and cleaner. Jarno has not lost his skills and performs fast and technical guitar passages in the best tradition of Yngwie and Vinnie Moore, but his solos are quite short at the service of the songs and add fresh, spicy elements to the music.

KENZINER - The Last Horizon (2014) booklet

The album opens “Run For Your Life”, an uptempo straightforward heavy rocker with some mid-eastern touches. I like it because it is different from usual Kenziner’s songs. The next “Our Times” presents more traditional Kenziner sound with strong symphonic and neoclassical elements. Some moments remind me of Royal Hunt, it has some faster parts, some baroque motives and a shredding solo.
Despite really fast beginning, the song “Heroes Ride” is not so blistering, going for the most part for a groovy mid-tempo. “Devour the World” is melodic and meaty, and a dark piano themes throughout the song add points to it.
“End of an Era” is driven by a half-oriental neoclassical line, with a progressive middle part, rhythmical changes and a main keyboard theme that is really interesting.

More Hard Rock elements could be heard in “Keep the Flame Alive”, one of the highlights on the album with a traditional British sound, a melodic bluesy feel, a great chorus and essential sustained solo.
“I Am Eternal” has heavier riffings, but it is not fast. Once again I hear some Royal Hunt elements especially in driven pre-chorus parts. “No Turning Back” is a harpsichord-driven fast metallic song in Malmsteen manner. It is impressive and awesome; I could highlight bright pre-chorus and outstanding neoclassical guitar part which turning into guitar-keyboard shred duel.
The title track “The Last Horizon” it is the most progressive song on the record, well structured and developed, and the disc ends with the powerful and effective ballad “Perfect Moments” ala Axel Rudi Pell.

KENZINER - The Last Horizon (2014) back cover

Mixed by Nino Laurenne (Thunderstone) at Sonic Pump Studios, the production work on "The Last Horizon" is another high-end factor for a crisp dynamic sound in perfect concordance with the impressive songwriting and performances on Kenziner's new CD.
Of course the team of players is a highly skilled bunch of musicians, with a constant high level instrumentation and hyper tight delivery.
The overall balance on this 'new' Kenziner is much more melodic than before, more 'commercial' I'd say.
"The Last Horizon" it's not only recommended for fans of the aforementioned bands, but also traditional hard rock enthusiasts as well.
Strong and Rocking.

01 - Run For Your Life
02 - Our Times
03 - Heroes Ride
04 - Devour The World
05 - End Of An Era
06 - Keep The Flame Alive
07 - I Am Eternal
08 - No Turning Back
09 - The Last Horizon
10 - Perfect Moment

Markku Kuikka – Vocals
Jarno Keskinen – Guitars
Jukka Karinen – Keyboards
Jupi Hjelt – Bass
Make Lievonen – Drums



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

JOURNEY - The Frontiers Tour (2014)

JOURNEY - The Frontiers Tour (2014) full


Now this is one to treasure; Leftfield Media has just released "JOURNEY - The Frontiers Tour" on CD, a concert recorded during the presentation of Steve Perry & Co. most successful album, at the peak of their craft.
This is Journey at the top of their game, featuring 19 songs of which 13 come from 1981's Escape disc and its follow up '83s Frontiers.

The triple opening with "Chain Reaction", "Wheel In The Sky" and "Line Of Fire' is simply outstanding, then we have an emotive take on "Send Her My Love", a rocking "Rubicon" and the superb "Lights".
This is taken from a live FM broadcast, but the sound is great and raw, with no overdubs and a 'real' live feel.

JOURNEY - The Frontiers Tour (2014) 1983 CD photo

"The Frontiers Tour" remains the highest grossing of any rock tour performed on American soil to date. It's not only essential for fans of the band, but for any AOR aficionado.
If you dislike live records, get it anyway: there's not unnecessary jams or talking here, just the songs played with fire.

01 - Chain Reaction
02 - Wheel in the Sky
03 - Line of Fire
04 - Send Her My Love
05 - Still They Ride
06 - Open Arms
07 - No More Lies
08 - Back Talk
09 - Edge of the Blade
10 - Jonathan Cain on Keys
11 - Rubicon
12 - Steve Smith on Drums
13 - Escape
14 - Faithfully
15 - Who's Crying Now
16 - Don't Stop Believin'
17 - Stone in Love
18 - Keep on Running
19 - Lights

Steve Perry - lead vocals
Neal Schon - lead guitar, vocals
Jonathan Cain - keyboards, vocals, rhythm guitar
Ross Valory - bass, vocals
Steve Smith - drums, percussion



DEVILS RUN - ... In The Details (2014)

DEVILS RUN - ... In The Details (2014) full


Hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada, comes DEVILS RUN, which with their fresh release "… In The Details" smash your ears with an explosive cocktail of '80s American hard rock with a metal-tinged assault of grooves & hooks, catchy enough to fry your brain and enough guitar solo wailing to knock Slash’s hat off.
At some point, Devils Run seem to have taken the kind of boring, watered down sound of the modern American Rock scene and turned it into a snarling beast of riffs and pounding drums.

Opener "S.O.S." strikes the fuse and runs through a heavy amount blazing guitars that will ignite the flame of whats to come. Throw in a catchy chorus to boot and you have a great opener without any fault.
"Secrets" is equally raging with an opening hook that makes Devils Run feel like they’ve always been your favourite band and – goddammit – another catchy chorus. You can feel the love for this band reigniting itself as you listen to each song.
"Burn The Night Out" follows, and slow down a bit the razor attack in a midtempo rhythm with clean guitars and more separated instrumentation. It's the more melodic song on the record and one of my faves.
But the band crank the levels again with "SaviorSelf", which is a certified headbang rager that will definitely make your ears bleed.

"C.R.A.Z.Y (So Serious?)" is a quite original number. It's the longer song on offer and quite interesting, as it’s based on the anarchic excursions of Heath Ledger’s Joker (from Batman's movie The Dark Knight), including a solo that might be based on Hans Zimmer’s score from The Dark Knight. The fact that no one’s written a metal or rock song like that yet is astounding.

DEVILS RUN - ... In The Details (2014) inside

Then, the band offers a remix of the previous track, and it's completely different both in rhythm and cadence. I think different recorded takes were used for this version, and it really works.
More hard rockin' waves continue with "Black Diamond", and then "Godless", which opens slowly before building into the verse and then exploding with a fantastic chorus. The song changes tempo in the middle, becomes more upbeat and burst into another fantastic guitar solo, followed with some great guitar harmonies before returning to that very good chorus.
The quality doesn't slip, tracks like the kicking "Fight ‘Em With Your Rock" and the melodic semi-ballad "Close Your Eyes" (great lead vocals) are prime examples of Devils Run ability to write catchy yet heavy tunes.

Devils Run rocks hard, sometimes in a take-no-prisoners way but always focused on melodies.
All the songs here are plenty of blazing guitars, crushing drumming and catchy hooks, while the vocals - lead & backing - are precise and quite massive.
But the album's real killer blow is the unrelenting finality every song seems to have – everyone on the band plays like every song is the last song they'll ever play. You can hear the downright passion from the musicians on every note.
Strongly Recommended.

01 - S.O.S.
02 - Secrets
03 - Burn The Night Out
04 - SaviorSelf
05 - C.R.A.Z.Y (So Serious?)
06 - C.R.A.Z.Y (So Serious?) [Ritalin remix]
07 - Black Diamond
08 - Godless
09 - Fight 'Em With Your Rock
10 - Save Me
11 - Endlessly
12 - Close Your Eyes

Chris Babbitt - lead and backing vocals, guitar
Andrew Cushing - bass, backing vocals
Steven Anderson - guitar, backing vocals
Dee "DP" Puente - drums



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

MYSTERY - Unveil The Mystery (2014)

MYSTERY - Unveil The Mystery (2014) full


We have presented sometime ago at 0dayrox one the of the best progressive bands from Canada; MYSTERY, and one of the most criminally ignored by the rock community in general. The group has been together for twenty years, but there's two clear phases in the band's history; the 90s with original singer Gary Savoie, and their new millennium Neo Prog era with vocalist Benoit David (in YES as well).
The album posted here was a retrospective of the early years, now Mystery is presenting "Unveil The Mystery", covering the recent period starting in 2007.

Mystery's progressive style is strongly impregnated by Melodic Rock / AOR waves, turning more 'easy', neo-prog with the material included into this CD.
Over the years, the band leaded by talented guitarist and composed Michel St-Pere has evolved from melodies inspied by Styx and Asia to more adventurous neo prog like that of Rush, Saga and even Journey, but featuring delicate acoustic passages not normally heard from these two.

Mystery won't dazzle you with technical prowess but you will appreciate their strong melodies, elegant arrangements and attention to detail.
And we have the velvety vocals of Benoit David. In 2008 David became the lead singer of Yes (as well as Mystery) filling in for Jon Anderson. This helped the band reach a wider audience. Not in vain Yes chosen Benoit David as vocalist, he steals the show here on many of the songs.

MYSTERY - Unveil The Mystery (2014) inside

There's not a single weak song on this disc, always interesting and propelled by heavenly melodies.
One of my favorites is the prog pageantry of "Pride". The piece runs the gamut from reflective to rocking enhanced with soaring guitar leads throughout.
"Dear Someone" is expansive and expressive with engaging changes and strong solos. "Time Goes By" is stark at first then builds up to the catchy hook and continues to ebb and flow in its sentiments and speeds.

Musically, Mystery is an incredibly very well balanced band that can be enjoyed by any audience. There's something for everyone here; elegance, hooks, beautiful acoustic passages and excellent vocals.
"Unveil The Mystery" is a proper compendium of one of the most underrated and ignored Melodic Neo Prog bands from Canada (perhaps because they are from the 'French side' of the country).
The ideal way to discover the music and passion of Mystery.
Strongly Recommended.

01 - As I Am
02 - Wolf
03 - Dear Someone
04 - Beneath the Veil of Winter's Face
05 - Pride
06 - The Sailor and the Mermaid
07 - One Among the Living
08 - Time Goes By
09 - Travel to the Night
10 - Sailing on a Wing

Michel St-Pere - Guitars, Keyboards
Benoit David (Yes) - Vocals
Dean Baldwin - Guitar
Antoine Fafard (Spaced Out) - Bass, Acoustic Guitar
Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard), Steve Gagné - Drums
Benoit Dupuis - Keyboards
François Fournier - Bass, Taurus pedals
Claire Vezina - Backing Vocals



KRUK - Before [Deluxe Edition] (2014)

KRUK - Before [Deluxe Edition] (2014) full


Regarded as the best traditional hard rock band from the present Polish scene, KRUK (Raven in English) delivered two really good albums in the last 3 years, already presented at 0dayrox.
Since its foundation a decade ago, Kruk had their deserved share of glory supporting the likes of Deep Purple, Santana or Uriah Heep to name some – and made their mark in the music industry with their classic, hard rock guitar-oriented sound. Now, the band around mastermind and guitar player Piotr Brzychcy returns on the wings of their fourth authorial album "Before". And, as it turns out, being here for the fourth time around Kruk is at the peak of their creative powers.

The first song “My Sinners” opens with a dynamic dialogue between the Hammond organ and the sharp guitar riff. If anyone up to this point had been thinking Kruk were going to abandon their traditional hard rock style in favor of anything else, this monumental, guitar laden opener should have proven this way of thinking wrong.
At times, this epic track may remind one of the late ‘70s era Rainbow (especially the slightly Dio-esque vocal manner of Roman Kantoch, the band’s current singer, as well as the blistering guitar solo). Towards the end, some distant echoes of Deep Purple’s trademark sound are also to be heard.

KRUK - Before [Deluxe Edition] (2014) cd scan

“Last Second” is a fast-paced hard rock piece which one somewhat hesitates to label 'radio friendly' – and yet, there is some certainly catchy vibe to it.
After this breakneck guitar gallop, there’s somewhat melancholic “Once” preceding a melodic mid-tempo “Wings Of Dreams” enriched with a Jon Lord-like Hammond outro.

Kruk gets a bit bluesy in the upbeat “Grey Leaf” and gives exposure to the driving power of the low bass thrum in “My Morning Star”. A moment of reprieve comes with “Farewell”, a beautiful, moving ballad with a surprisingly dynamic instrumental interlude towards the end.
This certain highlight of the entire material is followed by the fast-paced, feisty “Open Road” and “Timeline”. The latter, being the instrumental, half-acoustic, half-plugged piece, is one of these rare occasions when the music itself does the talking – and the tale it tells is simply stunning.
The icing on the cake – and a little curiosity for the foreign listeners – are the Polish versions of “Farewell” (“Moja Dusza”) and “Grey Leaf” (Szary Lisc), both included on this deluxe edition.

KRUK - Before [Deluxe Edition] (2014) digipack scan

Kruk’s "Before" – which can be also spelled with a twist, as Be4ore – is the fourth album with the original material the band’s ever released and, most probably, their best to date.
It pictures Kruk as a mature and experienced band who don’t have to struggle for their musical identity anymore – but also a band aware of their roots and inspirations, always eager to incorporate the echoes of their influences into their own material. Such approach, combined with musical adeptness and proficiency, results in an album one intuitively puts between the Deep Purple and Rainbow classic releases in their record collection.
And although it’s the fans of the aforementioned rock giants should certainly dig "Before" because of its rootsy, classic hard rock inclinations, the listeners of other guitar-oriented genres may also find the flight on raven wings of Kruk enjoyable.
To put it simple, "Before" is a very solid album altogether, and one that’s very recommended. Check it out and fly high!

01. My Sinners
02. Last Second
03. Once
04. Wings Of Dreams
05. Grey Leaf
06. My Morning Star
07. Farewell
08. Open Road
09. Timeline
10. Moja Dusza (bonus track)
11. Szary Lisc (bonus track)

Roman Kantoch - vocals
Piotr Brzychcy - guitars
Michai Kurys - hammond, piano & synths
Krzysztof Nowak - bass
Dariusz Nawara - drums
Ewa Toczkowska-Brzychcy - add. vocals (1, 3)
thanks to Alexandra Mrozowska



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