Monday, March 31, 2014

FM - Futurama (2014)

FM - Futurama (2014) full


After many years of silence, FM - the finest and classiest British AOR / Melodic Rock act - return has proved amazingly prolific. Two albums, Rockville and Rockville II at the end of 2012 and start of 2013, and now they have already put together a new offering released today , March 31, 2014: "Futurama".
Frontman Steve Overland says: “We’ve been busy in the studio working on "Futurama" and writing songs for the next album. We’re really pleased with the direction the songs are taking. Previous EPs have proved popular – and this is our biggest and best to date.”

The definition of ‘EP’ seems to be very 'elastic' for FM, as the new CD packs 11 tracks and 57 minutes, a full length if you ask me.
"Futurama" offers four completely new tracks, as well as a selection of live recordings featuring some of the tracks from both of the Rockville albums, as well as tracks from their '80s and '90s heyday and an Extended Remix.
The new tracks all have the same formula of good, old fashioned Melodic Rock music full of soaring melodies, sweet harmonies, loud guitars and pounding drums.

Intro track "Futurama" is an instrumental setting the scene for "Cold Hearted" and "Bad That’s Good in You". Both of these songs are high level, anthemic songs, with plenty of choruses which could have been written specifically to get people singing along.
The fourth studio track on the CD is the acoustic ballad "Preying on My Mind". This is a beautiful, soulful composition (just listen to that organ) and show off a softer side to the band that takes you far away.

FM - Futurama (2014) inside

The live tracks recorded at a show on their recent tours for the Rockville albums, encompass the whole span of their career from the '80s right up to 2013, however they all have that full-bodied, melodic AOR bombast for which FM are best known.
Closes the disc "Cold Hearted (Extended Remix)", and Iove the way FM remixes their tunes in punchy way.

One of the aspects of their music which makes FM stand out above the rest is definitely the musicianship on display within their songwriting, creating complete packages of songs time after time.
"Futurama" is a great mix of new studio song and live takes (really good and clean) of recent material, released in conjunction with a new international tour with Foreigner and Europe.
Impressive stuff, as usual with Steve Overland & Co.

01 - Futurama
02 - Cold Hearted
03 - Bad That's Good In You
04 - Preying On My Mind
05 - Tough Love (Live)
06 - All Or Nothing (Live)
07 - Closer To Heaven (Live)
08 - Crosstown Train (Live)
09 - Story Of My Life (Live)
10 - Breathe Fire (Live)
11 - Cold Hearted (Extended Remix)

Steve Overland - lead vocals, guitar
Merv Goldsworthy - bass, backing vocals
Pete Jupp - drums, backing vocals
Jem Davis - keyboards
Jim Kirkpatrick - lead guitar, backing vocals



Saturday, March 29, 2014

BEN GRANFELT BAND - Handmade (2014)

BEN GRANFELT BAND - Handmade (2014) full


Seems there's a lot of talent coming from Finland lately, and another of its exponents is the excellent BEN GRANFELT BAND with their album "Handmade". Ben Granfelt is an experienced musician that was part of Gringos Locos, Guitar Slingers and Leningrad Cowboys, but he become more known for his partnership with Andy Powell in Wishbone Ash some years ago.
Besides playing in those acts since the mid-eighties, Granfelt has built up a solid solo career on the side, and the more recent fruit from his harvest is this brilliant record with the Ben Granfelt Band.

The star on the record is obviously Granfelt's exquisite guitar playing, terrific tone and melodies, but he is an accomplished singer too, and the bandmates provide a warm, steady instrumental companion.
Right from the melodic opener "Going Home", you can feel that this is an album with purpose, and sets the very high standard maintained throughout.
The guitar work on the bluesy rocker "Turning Point" is awesome. Just listen the ton of layers combining a wet riff, funky overtones and a killer tone during the solo. Granfelt never over-eggs. He evidently has the chops but unnecessary histrionics never hijack a good tune.

BEN GRANFELT BAND - Handmade (2014) inside

A slick riff and a poppy & catchy melody drives the commercial "Get Up And Go", the fun and upbeat "Almighty Blues" echoes the late Gary Moore, while the superbly elaborated "Musicland" brings to mind Frank Marino.

Ben Granfelt Band also do a triad of covers in "Handmade", and all are great. The velvety midtempo "Faith, Hope & Love" is from his days in Wishbone Ash, where Ben's six-strings has some reminiscent of Jeff Beck, while the band's version of Gerry Rafferty's classic "Baker Street" is really intense and rocking.
But perhaps the most surprising cover is Pink Floyd's Breathe from The Dark Side Of The Moon, renamed here "Breath". Ben's vocals are sweet, surrounding, while his guitar adds a truly own personality to the melody (his solo is more agressive but controlled). Wow, this man is a serious guitar player.

BEN GRANFELT BAND - Handmade (2014) cd photo

There is also a strong instrumental track properly entitled "Instrumental Madness", but it isn't a fretboard carnival, not at all: it mixes a Satriani-esque melody with the guitar bending of Tim Pierce and Jeff Beck's tremolo arm. Killer stuff.
"B.L.U.E.S" has little to do with the blues, because it's a funky, syncopated rocker plenty of dynamics, and then the short but fantastic closer "Home Again..." shows me again how great Granfelt is in his game; the best guitar player I have discovered in many years.
Seriously, Ben Granfelt is a six-string monster, never overblown, never boring, always imaginative and the tone, omg what a guitar tone!
If you want to listen something good, really good, don't miss Ben Granfelt Band's "Handmade"
Super, Highly Recommended.

01 - Going Home
02 - Turning Point
03 - Almighty Blues
04 - Get Up And Go
05 - Breath
06 - Faith Hope And Love
07 - Baker Street
08 - Musicland
09 - Instrumental Madness
10 - B.L.U.E.S.
11 - Home Again...

Ben Granfelt - Vocals, Guitars
John "Groovemeister" Vihervae - Bass & backing vocals
Marko "Nalle" Karhu - Guitar & Vocals
Kai Jokiaho - Drums & Percussion



THE MILESTONES - Higher Mountain Closer Sun (2014)

THE MILESTONES - Higher Mountain Closer Sun (2014) full


Finland’s classic rockers THE MILESTONES are back with the fourth album in their 20 year history, “Higher Mountain – Closer Sun”. Not exactly prolific but quality over quantity is a rare commodity in this age.
If you never heard the name The Milestones, this new CD is an excellent slice of what the band are all about.

For true Rock listeners on the classic end of things, this band will bring new joy into your world.
A very live feel is heard throughout, lous responsive guitar tones (with a bevy of Telecaster, Firebird and Les Paul usage) and a rhythm section that clearly knows the meaning of the word – groove – throw on top a vocalist who actually seems to be enjoying his music and its hard not to listen to this and smile.
Opener “Walking Trouble” kicks the album off with high energy, a driving riff collide with gritty vocals and rocking harmonica from frontman Olavi Tikka and you’ll be turning this up loud. These guys are from Finland? Really? They sound born and raised in Britain.
The really melodic “Shalalalovers” continues the theme but throws in a little more commercialism with the chorus hook likely to be in your head days after.

THE MILESTONES - Higher Mountain Closer Sun (2014) logo

The band prove they have exquisite taste by next serving up a faithful cover of Foghat’s 1976 classic “Drivin' Wheel”, high energy and a will to make the song their own is displayed.
Next we can catch our breath a little with the southern rock inflections of “Oh My Soul” before the predominantly acoustic “Grateful” prepares up for the Stonesy crunch of “Sweet Sounds”.
A nice Humble Pie meets Glenn Hughes vibe is experienced on “It’s All Right” and this is the first of a couple of corker tracks with the telecaster twang bedrock and laid back delivery (at least for the verses) of “You” show strong songwriting and good maturity from the band.

“Looking Back From Yesterday” sits in mid-tempo waters and does take a few listens to sink in fully before “Damn” ups the tempo with a ridiculously simple yet effective riff drives the song on, it also got a killer chorus as well.
Closing track “Fool Me” seems a little haphazard compared to the majority of the album with riffs that are disjointed and quirky in equal measure, maybe not the killer closing track the album deserves but pleasant enough.

THE MILESTONES - Higher Mountain Closer Sun (2014) inside

“Higher Mountain – Closer Sun” is an excellent release from The Milestones, deeply rooted into timeless Classic Rock.
How they’ve managed to escape more widespread popularity is beyond me but this album is strong enough to certainly give them a chance of that. Well crafted songs with a vivid spirit fueled by great vintage guitar tones and packed full of strong vocal hooks make this one of the best pure rock releases you are likely to hear in 2014.
Strongly Recommended.

01 - Walking Trouble
02 - Shalalalovers
03 - Drivin' Wheel
04 - Oh My Soul
05 - Grateful
06 - Sweet Sounds
07 - It's All Right
08 - You
09 - Looking Back for Yesterday
10 - Damn
11 - Fool Me

Vocals, Harmonica: Olavi Tikka
Guitars: Tomi Julkunen
Guitars: Marko Kiviluoma
Bass: Veli Palevaara
Drums: Tommi Manninen



Friday, March 28, 2014

STEEL PANTHER - All You Can Eat (2014)

STEEL PANTHER - All You Can Eat (2014) full


STEEL PANTHER, the group who impregnated your mother and refused to pay for your child support are back with a buffet of hard rock and sex with their third full length audio orgy "All You Can Eat" coming out April 1st.
Like every other Steel Panther album, it’s sex, metal.. more sex and more metal. Their parodic, sexual and comedic content only just gets more explicit, funnier and heavier on "All You Can Eat".

You have two ways with Steel Panther, nothing in between: you like it or hate it. I mean, just take a look at the song titles... it's a joke after joke.
But there's something that, apart if lyrics result too much irritating for you, makes this band great; their musicality, musicianship and production. "All You Can Eat", as very very few acts in last 25 years, captures the first class, glossy, bombastic shiny sound from the hair metal glory days.
This CD sounds immense, like any major label '87 - '91 release handled by Beau Hill, Peter Collins, Bruce Fairbairn or even Robert John "Mutt" Lange behind the production desk.

STEEL PANTHER - All You Can Eat (2014) inside cover

You know how every "All You Can Eat" song is gonna go down as far as lyrics go, with Michael Starr singing about 'blowing his load' at the "Gloryhole" in France or how he caught "B.V.S.". Nonetheless, he still carries a great vocal range and does it as good as a young, sober Vince Neil.
Guitarist and controller of the eargasms, Satchel, still rolls with a great array of solos and very '80s anthemic riffs that make the icon of Steel Panther expand. Lexxi’s bass work is still as impressive as it always has been, despite the fact he spends more time looking at his hair in the mirror than actually playing bass. And Mr. Stix Zadinia’s drumming gives off that strong Eighties beat you’d hear from Ratt’s ‘Round and Round’ to name one, and always has outdone himself one album after the next.

So, put your prejudices aside and enjoy these anthemic American Hard Rock songs. Musically, all tracks in "All You Can Eat" are catchy and kickin' hymns.
Steel Panther's comedy has been approved by the likes of Steven Tyler of Aerosmith or Paul Stanley of Kiss to name a couple, so join the circus and enjoy the music. It's terrific.
A cult to the legendary LA scene, Steel Panther are the rebirth of '80s hair metal and the ones responsible for global orgasms, putting quite clear throughout "All You Can Eat" that they’re at the top of their game now.
Truth be told, the only people who won't dig this well written, composed and produced Sunset Strip quartet's 3rd album are those without sense of humour, women on their rags and possibly your grandparents.

01. Pussywhipped
02. Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World
03. Gloryhole
04. Bukkake Tears
05. Gangbang At The Old Folks Home
06. Ten Strikes You’re Out
07. The Burden Of Being Wonderful
08. F@cking My Heart In The Ass
09. BVS
10. You're Beautiful When You Don't Talk
11. If I Was The King
12. She's On The Rag

Michael Starr (Ralph Saenz) – lead vocals, acoustic guitar
Satchel (Russ Parrish) – lead guitar, backing vocals
Lexxi Foxx (Travis Haley) – bass, backing vocals
Stix Zadinia (Darren Leader) – drums, percussion, keyboards, backing vocals



Thursday, March 27, 2014

PANTERA - Far Beyond Driven [20th Anniversary Edition] (2014)

PANTERA - Far Beyond Driven [20th Anniversary Edition] (2014) 2cd full


2014 marks the 20th Anniversary of PANTERA's landmark album "Far Beyond Driven" and Rhino Records celebrates with a special two-disc edition that includes a remastered version of the album, along with a live performance from the 1994 Monsters Of Rock Festival at Donington, UK.

After Pantera’s breakthrough album 1992′s Vulgar Display of Power was released, there were a lot of expectations for the band’s next record. They delivered big time with "Far Beyond Driven", easily the heaviest metal album at the time to debut at #1 of Billboard’s SoundScan era (Skid Row might beg to differ).
And while the album debuted at #1, it wasn’t a case of the band selling out in any way. Instead of making a more commercial record, the late (and underrated) Dimebag Darrell and Co. produced a material heavier than anything they’d put out.
Kicking off with the one-two punch ”Strength Beyond Strength” and “Becoming,” the album really doesn’t slow down until the end, with an acoustic cover of Black Sabbaths’ “Planet Caravan.”

PANTERA - Far Beyond Driven [20th Anniversary Edition] (2014) inside

This Rhino remaster of "Far Beyond Driven" sounds crisp and even punchier than before, including the original censored cover artwork as well.
But this 20th Anniversary Edition includes a second disc, with Pantera's show at Monsters Of Rock in Donington, 1994. A material that circulated as bootleg among fans for years, but now receives a proper mastering & mix.

I know this is not the typical stuff presented on this blog, but this album simply rocks. And marked the lives of many rock 'n roll fans, no matter the genre of preference.
Very Recommended edition.

PANTERA - Far Beyond Driven [20th Anniversary Edition] (2014) back cover

Disc One – Original Album Remastered
01. “Strength Beyond Strength”
02. “Becoming”
03. “5 Minutes Alone”
04. “I’m Broken”
05. “Good Friends And A Bottle Of Pills”
06. “Hard Lines, Sunken Cheeks”
07. “Slaughtered”
08. “25 Years”
09. “Shedding Skin”
10. “Use My Third Arm”
11. “Throes Of Rejection”
12. “Planet Caravan”

Disc Two – Live From Donington ‘94
1. “Use My Third Arm”
2. “Walk”
3. “Strength Beyond Strength”
4. “Domination/Hollow”
5. “Slaughtered”
6. “Fucking Hostile”
7. “This Love”
8. “Mouth For War”

Philip Anselmo – lead vocals
Dimebag Darrell – guitar, backing vocals
Rex Brown – bass, backing vocals
Vinnie Paul – drums

PANTERA - Far Beyond Driven [20th Anniversary Edition] (2014) cd photo



V.A. - Ronnie James Dio ; This Is Your Life (2014)

V.A. - Ronnie James Dio ; This Is Your Life (2014) full


To celebrate one of the most powerful voices ever in Rock, the great RONNIE JAMES DIO, an all-star group of his friends and fans recorded a bunch of favorite tracks for a tribute album to be released next April 1 entitled "Ronnie James Dio ; This Is Your Life".

Produced by his longtime manager and wife Wendy Dio, the album includes contributions by such metal heavyweights as Metallica, Motörhead, Scorpions, Anthrax, Glenn Hughes, Rob Halford, as well as appearances by many of the musicians who performed with Dio over the years.
"This Is Your Life" truly is a worthy tribute to the life and works of Ronnie James Dio, in particular full of memorable vocal performances.
The album begins in rip roaring fashion as big four thrash legends Anthrax tear their way through "Neon Knights" from Ronnie’s time with Black Sabbath, with Joey Belladonna sounding as good as he has for years, if not decades, as he pays tribute to one of his biggest inspirations.
The usual comedy stylings of Tenacious D’s music are nowhere to be found as they play it straight to great effect with their take on the Dio classic "The Last In Line", while monster Russell Allen’s tremendously powerful voice helps to power the Adrenaline Mob take on "The Mob Rules".

V.A. - Ronnie James Dio ; This Is Your Life (2014) inside 1

Corey Taylor has assembled an all star band including Steel Panther’s Satchel and Stone Sour drummer Roy Mayorga to tackle the seminal Dio hit "Rainbow In The Dark" and they do a rocking version.
Halestorm, with the power and passion of Lzzy Hale’s voice on a cracking version of "Straight Through The Heart" rocks one imagines Dio himself would have raised a smile and/or a pair of horns to them in response.
Two of the most distinctive voices in the history of British heavy metal join forces on the next truck as Saxon frontman Biff Byford teams up with Lemmy and Motorhead for a version of Rainbow’s "Starstruck" that thoroughly oozes rock and roll attitude from start to finish.
Admirable versions of the Rainbow classic "Temple Of The King" (from Scorpions) and Dio song (Egypt / The Chains Are On) from Doro follow before the most famous Dio cover around in the metal world makes an appearance; Killswitch Engage’s 2006 cover of "Holy Diver". Lauded since the band recorded it eight years ago, it holds up well in it’s current esteemed company and deserves to be enjoyed once again.

V.A. - Ronnie James Dio ; This Is Your Life (2014) inside 2

Moving towards the end of the album, "Catch The Rainbow" is performed by an ensemble lead by Ronnie James Dio’s fellow Black Sabbath alum Glenn Hughes (also notably of Deep Purple amongst many other projects) and it was an ideal choice as Hughes voice is a very good fit for the most prog based track on this album.
"I" is another Dio song given a worthy makeover while staying true to the original, courtesy of a group containing Dio bassist Jimmy Bain and singer Oni Logan, while "Man On The Silver Mountain" sees The Metal God himself Rob Halford front a band of Dio members past and present including Vinny Appice and Doug Aldrich in another enjoyable effort.

Special word must be afforded to Metallica’s "Ronnie Rising" medley; a sprint through four different Rainbow songs – "A Light In The Black", "Tarot Woman", "Stargazer" & "Kill The King", it pays ultimate respect to the early part of Ronnie’s career.
It is, quite frankly, the best Metallica have sounded in a very long time (not the crap they have been doing in their last albums), with James Hetfield more energised on record than he’s sounded since 1991 and the passion in the performance is palpable in every note. Metallica wanted to do something special for Ronnie and they certainly succeeded here.

V.A. - Ronnie James Dio ; This Is Your Life (2014) back cover

The final word, quite rightly, is let to Ronnie himself with a very special performance of the track "This Is Your Life" from the Dio Angry Machine’s album. With only a piano for company, the listener is treated to Dio’s voice in a setting very different to how it would usually be heard and it is an entirely fitting conclusion to what must be one of the best rock or metal tribute / compilation albums ever.
To paraphrase Dio’s own words, the flame won’t last forever for any of us, but by being able to enjoy his music, Ronnie James Dio has made things more magical for millions and this album represents that brilliantly.
As said, "Ronnie James Dio ; This Is Your Life", is one of the best tribute albums appeared in many, many years.

1. Neon Knights
Anthrax (Previously unreleased)

2. The Last In Line
Tenacious D (Previously unreleased)

3. The Mob Rules
Adrenaline Mob feat. Russell Allen

4. Rainbow In The Dark
Corey Taylor, Roy Mayorga, Satchel, Christian Martucci, J. Christopher

5. Straight Through The Heart
Halestorm (Previously unreleased)

6. Starstruck
Motörhead with Biff Byford (Previously unreleased)

7. The Temple Of The King
Scorpions (Previously unreleased)

8. Egypt (The Chains Are On)

9. Holy Diver
Killswitch Engage

10. Catch The Rainbow
Glenn Hughes, Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, Rudy Sarzo, Scott Warren (Previously unreleased)

11. I
Oni Logan, Jimmy Bain, R. Robertson, Brian Tichy (Previously unreleased)

12. Man On The Silver Mountain
Rob Halford, Vinny Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson, Scott Warren (Prev. unreleased)

13. Ronnie Rising Medley (Featuring A Light In The Black, Tarot Woman, Stargazer, Kill The King)
Metallica (Previously unreleased)

14. This Is Your Life

15. Buried Alive (digital bonus track)
Jasta (Previously unreleased)

thanks to Jamie Giberti



DYNAZTY - Renatus [full] (2014)

DYNAZTY - Renatus (2014) full

* HQ upgrade

If there is a young talented band that could impress you with each new album more and more, it has to be Swedes DYNAZTY. They came out of nowhere and with their last album Sultans Of Sin they presented one of the best Hard Rock records in 2012.
Now they come along with the follow-up “Renatus” to be released next March 31, and one thing is for sure: Dynazty has evolved and matured (for good).

The Scandinavian combo started as a catchy Sleaze Rock band with lots of attitude. Their third release offered some more Hard Rock flavour. Now it’s 2014 and you should forget about all that!
“Renatus” has nothing in common with the previous records, except the band name. Dynazty reinvented themselves, which led to a radical change of musical direction (also the cover artwork looks like some kind of 'rebirth').

So, what can you expect?
“Renatus” is a galloping melodic metal album in the European style still retaining the band's original penchant for melodic hard rock harmonies, but full of staccato riffs, double-bass parts and some progressive elements.
That sounds weird, right? I mean, it isn't what you would expect from this band and I can imagine that many fans of this group will be shocked … BUT after you digest the first shock and you are a bit open-minded you’ll get to hear one of the best punchy records appeared lately.

DYNAZTY - Renatus (2014) inside

All songs are still very melodic, especially “Dawn Of Your Creation”, “The Northern End” and the first single “Starlight” which are amazing earworms underlined by swirling keyboards.
But on the other hand you have some tracks like the opener “Cross The Line”, “Sunrise In Hell” or “Unholy Deterrent”, which are quite epic in the best Scandi melodic metal tradition Something different from Dynazty, but when they grab you, they won’t get out of your ears so quickly.
Another untypical song is “Salvation” which features a playtime over seven minutes. Here you’ll discover many of the new progressive elements I mentioned above. And rocks.

“Renatus” sports a fantastic in-your-face production, crisp, clear and punchy as hell. In fact, it's the band which provides that sense of blast through their tight playing. It’s simply the best I’ve heard so far in 2014.
Dynazty itself sounds awesome. Nils Molin has a strong and unique voice reaching every high note easily, and also elaborating some awesome harmonies during the choruses.
Love Magnusson and Mike Lavér provide some great guitar duels and the pounding rhythm section from George Egg (drums) and Jonathan Olsson (who replaced Joel Fox Apelgren on bass) complete the package of terrific performances.

DYNAZTY - Renatus (2014) back cover

The bottom line is that Dynazty present their most heavy and mature album to date. Yes, I also needed some time to get used to the new musical direction, but it was worth it. Instead of doing the same thing over and over again Dynazty took a risk and dared to try something new – that must be rewarded.
You won’t find any weaknesses on “Renatus”, it's that good.
Go and mark March 31 in all your timetables guys, because this album is a Must Have for everyone of you.

01 - Cross The Line
02 - Starlight
03 - Dawn Of Your Creation
04 - The Northern End
05 - Incarnation
06 - Run Amok
07 - Unholy Deterrent
08 - Sunrise In Hell
09 - Salvation
10 - A Divine Comedy

Nils Molin - vox
Love Magnusson - guitar
Mikael Lavér - guitar
Jonathan Olsson - bass
George Egg - drums
thanks to Thomas



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

BALTIMOORE - Back For More (2014)

BALTIMOORE - Back For More (2014) full


Brainchild of singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Björn Lodin, BALTIMOORE started its journey in 1987 releasing a bunch of celebrated AOR / melodic rock albums. Together with various outstanding musicians, the Swedish band has released 12 records to date morphing to more harder sounds.
“Back For More” is the fresh effort from Baltimoore, which led by the distinctive voice of Lodin fuses traditional hard / melodic rock textures with a few left turns and interesting musical twists.

In the line-up are some old faces from Baltimoore's past in bassist Weine Johansson and keyboardist Örjan Fernkvist, who are joined with a couple youngs in guitarist Mats Attaque and drummer Klas Anderhell.
Bjorn Lodin is still the principle songwriter so the bands trademark sound is still here in spades.
Opener “Cry Out For Innocence” blasts out the speakers with biting intent and Lodin sounds suitably aggressive in his vocal delivery. With a fast paced riff that wouldn’t be out of place on an MSG record (along with a hint of Uriah Heep’s Easy Livin) this is powerful stuff. New lead guitarist Mats Attaque makes a great first impression with some soaring lead lines and it all adds up to a great opening track.

“Don’t Say No” keeps the tempo and momentum high but is a more commercial flavoured rocker with a truly infectious chorus. The bottom end is truly thunderous and once again Attaque lays down another blistering performance.
“Until The End Of The Line” slips into mid-tempo waters for a dual faceted track which fuses a restraint verse before building for the bridge and ultimately hitting its stride for the melody rich chorus. Lodin knows how to craft a song and this is a strong example of how he likes to tease the listener with giving them something traditionalists would appreciate before throwing in a curveball. A song with good radio potential.

The press sheet says some tracks were originally written with Lodin’s other oufit HARD in mind. “Are You Onto Me” may well be one of these numbers as its sounds pretty similar to feel with Lodin’s work on his two efforts with the aforementioned outfit.

BALTIMOORE - Back For More (2014) inside cover

“Break Into Something New” is another melodic rock song with Lodin throwing down his poppy vocal for the verse before rising to the rock occasion for the main hooks (the pre-chorus is another charmer) and chorus. It’s an enjoyable track with a fun nature.
You might think it would be time for a breather but the band keep the rock going for “Means To An End” and it has one of my favourite vocal deliveries on the album from Lodin. Some really cool harmonised lead guitar fills are here too.
“Gun Of Doom” initially starts out pretty basic but moves into more interesting waters after the monotonous opening and verse riff which do drone on a little, but the bridge and chorus provide a real drive, it's probably the least accessible track on the album and does take a few listens to reveal its character.
Track 8 “Sunshine In The Rain” brings up the albums lightest moment with a shuffle feel, something Lodin likes to have on most albums he has done. You can see why as he knows how to lay a vocal over this feel perfectly, its a track which has a positive chorus, yet has a dark side elsewhere.

“Say It Like It Is” is a slowish track with nice variety, elaborated vocals and hanging chords at the bridge. Punching in and out of Lodin’s vocals are some call and response lines from Attaque. It’s a slow burner but after several listens of the album has become one of my favourites.
The title track close the album with a main riff inspired by traditional Swedish folk rhythms, but given the Baltimoore rock edge. There is really no-one else out there doing anything like this and its makes for a very original and interesting sound, although the chorus doesn’t always sit easy with the rest of the track. Once again though good performances all around and that main riff is a delight to the ears.

Overall the twelfth album from Baltimoore “Back For More” is another very strong effort. It's hard to really say they sound like x and x, the band do have their own sound which is based on influences you may be able to call, but there’s a lot of originality here.
Once again Bjorn Lodin and co. have delivered another very good album which may alienate some people due to its lack of conformity in what maybe 'expected' in a hard / melodic rock sound, but for those that likes twists and turns in their music this is Very Recommended.

01 - Cry Out for Innocence
02 - Don't Say No
03 - Until the End of the Line
04 - Are You On to Me?
05 - Break Into Something New
06 - Means to an End
07 - Gun of Doom
08 - Sunshine in the Rain
09 - Say It Like It Is
10 - Back for More

Björn Lodin – vocals, guitars
Mats Attaque – guitars, backing vocals
Örjan Fernkvist – keyboards
Weine Johansson - bass
Klas Anderhell – drums



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

SONATA ARCTICA - Pariah's Child (2014)

SONATA ARCTICA - Pariah's Child (2014) full


On their eighth studio full-length "Pariah's Child", the veteran Finnish quintet SONATA ARCTICA returns to the roots that originally forged its reputation, mixed with the more hard rock approach of their the last efforts.
I would say this new record is the definition of Sonata Arctica past and present, and the blend has satisfied my ears.

As stated by the band, “We knew from the start that we wanted to record in a more old school fashion, meaning that we all went to the studio together as opposed to the way we worked on the last three albums with everyone recording in different places.”
Furthermore, Sonata Arctica take a trip back to their own past, as far as the artwork is concerned. Vocalist Tony Kakko explains his thoughts behind the album title and the artwork: “I started to think how we'd in ways abandoned our ‘totem animal’, the wolf and all what comes with the territory. It was clear we need a wolf on the cover. An abandoned wolf. A pariah. Or Pariah's Child, actually. The new generation to bring the old logo back.”
As of late, at least with their previous album, and the current Pariah's Child, Finland's Sonata Arctica has been throwing their faithful some musical curve balls. Putting them in the category of traditional Scandi power metal is no longer fitting, although they still play few songs in this style.

No, their sound is much more diverse, enterprising, these days. A good example is the song "Half A Marathon Man".
It's opening strokes of guitar, keyboards, then drums could lead to most any sound. But it delivers this huge hard rock grooved monster with hooks galore, from vocals to lyrics to riffs.
Then there's the power metal romp of "X Marks The Spot", disguised as a rock tune, and wrapped in the motif a religious revival. It's familiar, but strange; clever and a whole lot of fun.

Also of note is "What Did You Do In The War, Dad?" which merges the feel of classic metal anthem with the bluster of polished melodic metal in places.
Frontman Tony Kakko is at his Freddie Mercury-like best with grand harmony vocals on "Take One Breath", and channels Styx crashing an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical on "Blood". There’s beauty, hope, and tragedy aplenty here.
Yet something more familiar comes with the longest number "Larger Than Life", which sounds like old school Sonata Arctica and where they draw upon their symphonic progressive power metal roots.

SONATA ARCTICA - Pariah's Child (2014) cd photo

I think "Pariah's Child" represents Sonata Arctica as a band being carefully faithful to their roots, yet always moving forward in their creativity.
This album combines elements of traditional Scandinavian melodic metal with accessible, 'happy' riffs in a classic hard rock mould, with melodious vocals and the keyboards noticeably taking more of a leading role.
If you always avoided Sonata Arctica for its 'more-of-the-same power metal', forget it, this new album combines strength with catchiness, always around a strong melodic line.
Very Recommended.

01 - The Wolves Die Young
02 - Running Lights
03 - Take One Breath
04 - Cloud Factory
05 - Blood
06 - What Did You Do In The War, Dad ?
07 - Half A Marathon Man
08 - X Marks The Spot
09 - Love
10 - Larger Than Life

Tony Kakko - Vocals, Keyboards
Henrik Klingenberg - Keyboards
Elias Viljanen - Guitars
Pasi Kauppinen - Bass
Tommy Portimo - Drums



DELAIN - The Human Contradiction [Limited Edition] (2014)

DELAIN - The Human Contradiction [Limited Edition] (2014) full


Dutch symphonic metallers DELAIN, who have continued to exponentially grow, musically and in popularity, are releasing their new beast called "The Human Contradiction".
We were truly impressed with the band's earlier album (presented on this blog), but even when compared to their previous works, this new album comes out on top in maturity, heaviness and melody.

"Here Come The Vultures" is a colorful and cerebral, ear candy filled opener that is part sweeping epic, part quirky near pop-lullabye and part straight up fist pumping hard rocker. Charlotte Wessels's voice is ever the perfect contradiction (pun intended) between a metal maiden, a classical singer and a hazy bar crooner, and oozes liquid charisma through the aloof keyboard arrangements and churning riffs.
"Stardust" once again capitalizes on her vocal capability and ability to deliver catchy hooks in tandem with technical vocal melodies. As a whole, it is one of the best tracks on the album; a very hard title to give out in this case. The keyboard layering of Martijn Westerholt, coming into his own as a compositional mastermind up there with Edu Falaschi and Thomas Youngblood, shines through in this track, blending haunting atmospherics with an upbeat vibe.
Westerholt’s ivory work is impressive throughout the record adding layers of highlights to the songs with an apparent ease that many bands would kill for.

DELAIN - The Human Contradiction [Limited Edition] (2014) inside

"Human Contradiction" is full of punchy songs from the storytelling power of "Sing To Me" to the confident march of "Your Body Is a Battleground". "Tell Me, Mechanist" is definitely one of the heavier tracks on the release with more aggressive riffs and blistering coarse vocal passages. The track alternates between these realms of epic, pained emotion and their trademark, soaring Symphonic passages.
At the same time, this record shows a lot of cool range yet focus for Delain, with "Army of Dolls" even coming off like a metallized Eurythmics, combining metal riffs with poppy melody. There are memorable choruses and big hooks all over this song and lyrics that will worm into your brain with ease.

"Tragedy of the Commons" is the final track on the main CD and stood out to me on both a personal and musical level. Not only is it a superb combination of lyrical poetry and musical maturity, but it also contains both coarse and clean vocal performances by Alissa of The Antagonist; unexpected, but most definitely welcomed. It is hard to describe this track without only using the word 'epic'.
I said 'main CD' because this Limited Edition includes a bonus disc with a lot of great stuff: the awesome dark and calm "Scarlet", the marching "Don't Let Go", five very well recorded live tracks, and majectic orchestral versions of "Your Body Is a Battleground" and "Sing To Me".
'Orchestral' means entirely that; these are performed by a classical orchestra without electrics or vocals, and believe me, they are superb.

DELAIN - The Human Contradiction [Limited Edition] (2014) back cover

2014 has delivered its first Great symphonic metal album; "The Human Contradiction".
But Delain is much more than this genre, they add musicality, catchiness, poppy melodies to their music without sounding cheap or intended for radio. Not at all, the band's songwriting and performance is organic, vivid, while not losing sight of what already makes them great.
I think 'majestic' is the word to describe "The Human Contradiction". And this Limited Edition really worth the purchase for a couple of bucks more.
Highly Recommended.

Disc 1: The Human Contradiction
01. Here Come the Vultures
02. Your Body Is a Battleground (feat. Marco Hietala)
03. Stardust
04. My Masquerade
05. Tell Me, Mechanist (feat. George Oosthoek)
06. Sing To Me (feat. Marco Hietala)
07. Army of Dolls
08. Lullaby
09. The Tragedy of the Commons (feat. Alissa White-Gluz)

Disc 2: Bonus CD
1. Scarlet
2. Don't Let Go
3. My Masquerade (Live)
4. April Rain (Live)
5. Go Away (Live)
6. Sever (Live)
7. Stay Forever (Live)
8. Sing To Me (Orchestra version)
9. Your Body Is A Battleground (Orchestra version)

Charlotte Wessels – Vocals
Martijn Westerholt – Keyboards
Otto Schimmelpenninck Van Der Oije – Bass
Sander Zoer – Drums
Timo Somers – Guitars

DELAIN - The Human Contradiction [Limited Edition] (2014) CD photo



Sunday, March 23, 2014

CAGE THE GODS - Badlands (2014)

CAGE THE GODS - Badlands (2014) full


"Badlands" is the highly anticipated full length debut release from London, UK based hard rockers CAGE THE GODS. Their last year's EP (presented on 0dayrox) quickly caught the attention from press including Revolver Magazine, Artist Direct and Classic Rock magazine which featured Cage The Gods in the recent 2014 issue of 'Hottest New Bands'.
The quartet have already toured with Pretty Maids, The Answer, Tainted Nation and soon supporting The Treatment all over the islands, with plans to hit U.S. shores next month.

With appreciation for the music from rock legends such as Led Zeppelin, Free, Def Leppard or Small Faces, this young talented four-piece fuse together rock ‘n’ roll culture from the four corners of the UK: Irishman Peter Comerford on vocals, Scotsman Jam on guitar, Mitch Witham on bass from Wales and then English sticksman Colin Jones.
The songs on "Badlands" are big, full, and comfortably arrogant such as the fast energetic opener "Favourite Sin", the classic rock sounding "Sacrifice", "Trouble Reigns" or the title track.
"From The Start" has some funky sounding bass and bluesy guitar lines more slowed down and restrained, while "Bruce Willis" is a killer hard rocker with a strong live vibe.

"Badlands" shows that Cage The Gods have a pretty promising career ahead of them. The album is entirely strong throughout and I can't imagine any fan of British classic rock music being disappointed.
They add to the recipe a touch of sleazy from the late '80s Californian scene providing enough variation in both pace and style to please any demanding hard rock fan. All in this record is quite polished; the vocals are up front and confident, the guitar hooks are powerful and go for the throat and the rhythm section are as tight as they come.
Listening to "Badlands" you can feel Cage The God's young energy pour out of the speakers. It's genuine classic rock updated to modern times with a slick production and mix.

01 - Favourite Sin
02 - The Ending
03 - Sacrifice
04 - Badlands
05 - Trouble Reigns
06 - Bruce Willis
07 - Falling
08 - A Thousand Times
09 - One More Taste
10 - What's Left of Me
11 - Promises
12 - From the Start

Peter Comerford - vocals
James "Jam" Moncur - guitar, backing vocals
Mitch Witham - bass, backing vocals
Colin Jones - drums



Saturday, March 22, 2014

VINCENT LEBOEUF GADREAU's ISOS - Loving On Standby (2014)

VINCENT LEBOEUF GADREAU's ISOS - Loving On Standby (2014) full


ISOS is Vincent Leboeuf Gadreau's solo project, the guitarist / singer of Québec, Canada band Inner Odyssey. His debut "Loving On Standby" has few things in common with the prog metal style of Inner Odyssey, Vincent goes here for stylized progressive rock rich in melodies and atmospheres.

ISOS' music is influenced by many bands and artists such as Porcupine Tree, eighties Pink Floyd and the refined side of Riverside, with bursts of melodic, rocking passages inspired by the British scene.
Vincent plays all electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitars, keyboards and sings all vocals (in English) in the vein of Steve Wilson and Peter Nicholls (IQ).
Principally a skilled guitar player, there's a great six-string work here, from beautiful acoustic passages ("A Flicker of Hope"), slow high feeling Pink Floydish guitar solos ("Loving on Standby (Pt. 1) : I'll Be Waiting"), to rocking riffage ("Relapse").

All is spiced with cheerful, sometimes dark ambient keyboards and odd time signatures drum-bass grooves. We have contributions from some friends like Mathieu Chamberland on piano, which work on closer track "The Last Words" is fantastic. A highlight for sure reminding me the genius of the late Eric Woolfson (Alan Parsons).

VINCENT LEBOEUF GADREAU's ISOS - Loving On Standby (2014) inside

If delicate, stylized progressive rock music with melody is your thing, don't miss Vincent Leboeuf Gadreau's Isos "Loving On Standby".
This is not vintage prog, not classic seventies, this is neo prog with a really modern sound and lots of melodies. In fact, at places you'll find poppy / art rock patterns skilfully arranged and performed, easy to the ears.
Uplifting, recommended debut.

01 - Loving on Standby (Pt. 1) : I'll Be Waiting
02 - Loving on Standby (Pt. 2) : Gone Too Far
03 - A Flicker of Hope
04 - Number Two
05 - Inside You Collapsed World
06 - Leave My Mind
07 - Relapse
08 - The Last Words

Vincent Leboeuf Gadreau: lead and back vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, sampling
Étienne Doyon - drums and percussion
Mathieu Chamberland - piano
Marie Demers - backing vocals



Friday, March 21, 2014

AHOLA - Tug Of War (2014)

AHOLA - Tug Of War (2014) full


AHOLA is band put together by Jarkko Ahola of the Finnish metal groups Terasbetoni and Northern Kings, wich are releasing its sophomore album "Tug Of War" today, March 21 via Playground Music.
I only know Jarkko from his work with Northern Kings, but this, his own band, is much more melodic and hard rock oriented than metal.

"Tug Of War" draws influences from late seventies and eighties classic British hard, along with a modern, updated sound. A suitable mix of past and present, which is always an essential part of rock music.
Ahola's musical core consists of melodic tunes with lots of feeling, riff-based hard rock with blood but polished and clean. Jarkko vocals are energetic yet controlled, in the 'classy' way of the genre and sporting a very good English diction.
Opener "The End of The Line" confirms these guys love for the '80s, a pulsating mid-tempo performed with class. Furthermore, "Road of Creation" also contains these 'old-school' rhythms but darker, reminding me Tony Martin / Black Sabbath within the main chorus.

Then, for the title track "Tug Of War" Ahola adds a touch of progressive in the vein of many American bands (think Queensryche circa Empire) but the tone of the song is pure Euro melodic hard rock. It's a solid composition and one of my favorites.

AHOLA - Tug Of War (2014) inside

With "On The Run" the band moves to a more modern territories and a sharper sound. The guitar solo is hot (in fact lead gunner Antti Karhumaa did an outstanding job on all this album) fast and catchy.
The name "Still Metal" says all; a hymn, an homage to Eighties Euro hard 'n heavy like 220 Volt or Scorpions, followed by another describable title: "Rock’n'Roll", a fresh, cool hard rocker driven by foot-tapping riff.
As you see, Ahola plays classic stuff, and they do it really tight and from the heart.
"The Will You Always Had" rocks with shades of '84s Whitesnake, "I Need You" is a vibrant number with an 'Americanized Dio' feel and a strong melody, while "Dog" brings lots of hard, bluesy groove.

"One Among The Crowd" is the ballad, and a really good one mixing electric & acoustic guitar, with Jarkko Ahola using the diversity of his voice at many levels through a melancholic atmosphere.
But the band offers even more variation; "The Final Incantation" adds some Eastern / Indian melodies to the groovy hard rock, and somehow summarizes the assorted styles of this very good band.

AHOLA - Tug Of War (2014) cd photo

Very well recorded and produced, Ahola's "Tug Of War" is a welcomed classic Hard Rock release, varied, dynamic, never boring in its 52 minutes. It's that kind of records appeared twenty five years ago, which used to leave you with a smile on the face after listening.
Dio, Whitesnake, Tony Martin / Black Sabbath, etc. - all in their more melodic, hard rockin' side - are represented in Ahola's music. And I like it a lot.
Very Recommended.

01 - The End of the Line
02 - Road of Creation
03 - Tug of War
04 - On the Run
05 - Still Metal
06 - Rock’n'Roll
07 - One Among the Crowd
08 - The Final Incantation
09 - The Will You Always Had
10 - I Need You
11 - Dog
12 - Age of Hubris
13 - Beerland 2

Jarkko Ahola: Vocals, Guitar
Antti Karhumaa: Guitar
Jari "Jamo" Laitinen: Bass
Antti Mäkelä: Drums



Thursday, March 20, 2014

RAINBOW - The Singles Box Set 1975-1986 [remastered] (2014)

RAINBOW - The Singles Box Set 1975-1986 [remastered] (2014) full


In the tradition of similar boxes for Deep Purple and Dio, Universal Records has released a 19CD box set replicating the singles offering by hard rock outfit RAINBOW, entitled "The Singles Box Set 1975-1986".

Formed toward the end of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore’s tenure with Deep Purple in 1975, Rainbow was a meticulously-coordinated rock band, inspired by the chord progression of classical music. Adding greatly to the mix was the versatile vocalizations of lead singer Ronnie James Dio (whose previous band Elf was the backbone of the first Rainbow album).
The lineup changed mightily over the years, most notably with Dio’s departure in 1978 and Blackmore’s decision to move the band toward a more mainstream, melodic hard rock sound. The group’s journey ended in 1984 when Blackmore reunited with Deep Purple, though he would use the name again in the mid-Nineties with all-new members.

RAINBOW - The Singles Box Set 1975-1986 [remastered] (2014) inside

This collection covers the entire Rainbow lifespan and give equal measure to the three Rainbow frontman, Dio, Bonnett and Turner. Each singer takes Rainbow in a different direction and Blackmore plays all these variations with ease, from the Fantasy inspired era of the late great Dio, the hard rock kick Bonnet years and then finally the more commercial sounding Turner era.
Each one of these incarnations has delivered some cracking albums and the singles really just picked themselves.

"The Singles Box Set 1975-1986" is definitely a collectible package raising the bar for this type of releases, featuring no fewer than 19 compact discs, all in repro original LP sleeves.
If you're thinking that seems a lot, you’d be right as they've doubled up the set to include numerous non UK releases as well, including singles from the Netherlands, USA, Germany and Japan.
All is housed in a splendid rigid box with lift-off lid, presenting a full color 32 page booklet featuring detailed annotations on each release, sleeve notes by Rainbow expert Andy Francis, and the whole thing was freshly remastered.

RAINBOW - The Singles Box Set 1975-1986 [remastered] (2014) set photo

This Limited Collector's Edition came out excellent, especially very first singles, enhanced on all their dynamics. They sound great, sharp and the remastering delivers a fuller, wider soundscape.
For those who want to marvel at Rainbow’s evolution over a near decade-long period (not to mention the replica single sleeves from different countries), this is the set for you.
Highly Recommended.

CD1 (released as Oyster OYR 103, 1975)
01 Man On The Silver Mountain (7" Edit) 3:57
02 Snake Charmer 4:28

CD2 (released as Oyster 3C 006 97224 (IT), 1975)
01 Still I'm Sad 3:53
02 The Temple Of The King 4:43

CD3 (released as Polydor 0835 035 (DE), 1977)
01 Man On The Silver Mountain (Album Version) 4:36
02 Snake Charmer 4:28
03 If You Don't Like Rock N Roll 2:35
04 Sixteenth Century Greensleeves 3:35

CD4 (released as Oyster/Polydor OY 701 (U.S.), 1976)
01 Starstruck 4:06
02 Run With The Wolf 3:48

CD5 (released as Oyster/Polydor 2066 845 (U.K.), 1977)
01 Kill The King (Live / Edit) 4:41
02 Man On The Silver Mountain (Live) 5:08
03 Mistreated (Live / 7" Edit) 7:15

CD6 (released as Polydor 2066 913 (U.K.), 1978)
01 Long Live Rock 'N' Roll 4:25
02 Sensitive To Light 3:08

CD7 (released as Polydor 2066 968 (U.K.), 1978)
01 L.A. Connection (7" Edit) 3:41
02 Lady Of The Lake 3:38

CD8 (released as Polydor POSP 70 (U.K.), 1979)
01 Since You Been Gone (Album Version) 3:16
02 Bad Girl 4:48

CD9 (released as Polydor 2095 104 (DE), 1979)
01 Since You Been Gone (Album Version) 3:16
02 No Time To Lose 3:41

CD10 (released as Polydor POSP 104 (U.K.), 1980)
01 All Night Long (Album Version) 3:49
02 Weiss Heim 5:10

CD11 (released as Polydor POSP 221 (U.K.), 1981)
01 I Surrender 3:22
02 Vielleicht Das Nachster Mal 3:20

CD12 (released as Polydor 12″ 2141 373 (NL), 1981)
01 Difficult To Cure 5:55
02 Can't Happen Here (7" Edit) 4:05
03 Jealous Lover 3:09

CD13 (released as Polydor 7DM-0033 (JP), 1981)
01 Magic 4:05
02 Freedom Fighter 4:20

CD14 (released as Polydor POSP 251 (U.K.), 1981)
01 Can't Happen Here (7" Edit) 4:05
02 Jealous Lover 3:09

CD15 (released as Polydor POSP 421 (U.K.), 1982)
01 Stone Cold (Album Version) 5:17
02 Rock Fever 3:46

CD16 (released as Polydor 2095 472 (NL), 1982)
01 Death Alley Driver 4:36
02 Tite Squeeze 3:15

CD17 (released as Polydor 12″ POSPX 631 (U.K.), 1983)
01 Street Of Dreams (Album Version) 4:24
02 Anybody There 2:37
03 Power (Live At The Convention Center, San Antonio, Tx) 4:27

CD18 (released as Polydor 12″ POSPX 654 (U.K.), 1983)
01 Can't Let You Go (7" Edit) 3:27
02 All Night Long (Live at David's Hall, Cardiff/1983) 5:24
03 Stranded (Live at St. David's Hall,Cardiff/1983) 4:16

CD19 (released as Polydor 12″ 883 970-1 (DE), 1986)
01 Bad Girl 4:48
02 Spotlight Kid (Live At The Tokyo Budokan/1984) 6:07
03 Man On The Silver Mountain 8:18



PHIL VINCENT - Slave To Sin (2014)

PHIL VINCENT - Slave To Sin (2014) full


American multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and composer PHIL VINCENT is a workaholic. Where recent years has seen him joining several bands (Tragik, Circular Logik, D'Ercole and Legion) and singing on other people projects, somehow he still got some time left to continue with his solo career started in the nineties.
"Slave To Sin" is Phil's new 2014 record and 'solo' is the key word here, although there's some friends collaborating.

Phil Vincent is truly a one man band, and truth to be said, he is pretty good on all instruments. His proficiency makes it possible for him to write, arrange, perform, produce and mix all of his own music.
And the good part of if is that Phil writes very, very good melodic hard rock songs.
Primarily, Vincent is a prolific songwriter, and this was his sole intention when released his first album almost twenty years ago: work as 'songwriter artist', but circumstances changed when received such a positive response from his own performance.

Phil Vincent does it all. He writes the songs, he sings the songs, he plays all of the instruments and produce on his CD's, with a little help from his friends. This dangerously could become 'more of the same' in all his projects, but Vincent is a skilled (and clever) composer managing to craft impactful rockers and good, varied melodies.
"Slave To Sin", as on most of his solo recordings, features some explorations not possible in his other bands, yet always Melodic Hard Rock focused.
So, we find here modern hard rockers with an edge in "Rise", the jumpin' title track "Slave To Sin", and the surprising ballad "Illusion" with acoustic guitars, pianos, and a very, very long atmospheric coda.

PHIL VINCENT - Slave To Sin (2014) photo

"Harmonic Destruction" is the longest Vincent track ever clocking 13+ minutes of epicness, grooving passages, and a middle section that in fact is another 'inside song' driven by a razor riff.
And of course there's Vincent's classic '80s inspired tunes in the commercial "Take Me Back" with a chorus plenty of harmony vocals, the Dokken-esque (and very good) "Mystery", the melodic hard rocker "Bad Girl" and the gentle mid-tempo "Let Me Be the One" recalling Cheap Trick.

Phil Vincent rarely disappoints, and "Slave To Sin" is another solid release from his inexhaustible musical factory.
The man knows his craft, and he's singing better and better everyday building really good multi-layered harmony vocals on all songs, intense guitar riffs and bouncy, rightly played drums.
One minor criticism: the artwork of his solo albums (also done by himself) are becoming almost laughable... It's time to hire a designer Phil, because the quality of your MHR music largely deserves a distinguished packaging.
Quite Recommended.

01 - Slave To Sin
02 - Take Me Back
03 - Mystery
04 - Rise
05 - Illusion
06 - Bad Girl
07 - Let Me Be the One
08 - Harmonic Destruction (physical CD only)

Phil Vincent: Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Drums
Vince O'Regan: Lead Guitar
Paul Sabu - Backing Vocals



PRETTY MAIDS - Louder Than Ever (2014)

PRETTY MAIDS - Louder Than Ever (2014) full


Danish melodic hard rock favorites PRETTY MAIDS don't want to take a break: it's exactly one year ago when Ronnie Atkins and the gusy released their latest album 'Motherland', which was followed by a long European-Tour.
In-between they recorded this new effort entitled "Louder Than Ever" - an album that consists of re-recordings from songs of the 1995 - 2006 era, plus four brand new tracks, and will be released by Frontiers Records this week.

The band reworked songs from their ‘90s Massacre label releases (which are all in desperate need of a good reissue campaign, by the way). The re-recordings are familiar, yet the sound more intense and powerful, interesting enough to hear them in the hands of the new lineup and new producer.
It's as if the Maids wanted to keep modern sounding, making them heavier, even harsher than before but melodious as ever. They did pick some of their most heavy, raging, songs to re-record like "Psycho Time Bomb Planet Earth" and "Virtual Brutality".

As to the four new compositions, two fit right in with the kick ass, harder approach to the older songs; these are "Deranged" and "Nuclear Boomerang", both blistering with heavy riffs and speed.

Then "My Soul To Take" dials things back sounding more like grooved melodic hard rock with high doses of catchiness, while "A Heart Without A Home" also backs off on the intensity giving you a smooth rocking anthem, quite the contrast to the bulk of this album.
The release includes a DVD featuring a retrospective of the Motherland 2013 World Tour, and also archive footage from early stages of the band’s career, interviews, etc.

PRETTY MAIDS - Louder Than Ever (2014) back cover

Pretty Maids is calling this release an 'in-between' album as they work on new songs for their next new CD.
The music packed here makes justice to its name: "Louder Than Ever" indeed, showing Pretty Maids' heaviest side but with a strong emphasis on the melodies. In short: ROCKS.
Very Recommended.

01. Deranged (New Song)
02. Playing God (Rerecorded)
03. Psycho Time Bomb Planet Earth (Rerecorded)
04. My Soul To Take (New Song)
05. He Who Never Lived (Rerecorded)
06. Virtual Brutality (Rerecorded)
07. Tortured Spirit (Rerecorded)
08. With These Eyes (Rerecorded)
09. Nuclear Boomerang (New Song)
10. Snakes In Eden (Rerecorded)
11. Wake Up To The Real World (Rerecorded)
12. A Heart Without A Home (New Song)

Ronnie Atkins - Vocals
Ken Hammer - Guitars
Morten Sandager - Keyboards
Shades - Bass
Allan Tschicaja - Drums



Wednesday, March 19, 2014

ECLIPSE - Are You Ready To Rock MMXIV (2014)

ECLIPSE - Are You Ready To Rock MMXIV (2014) full


After the worldwide success of Bleed & Scream, ECLIPSE mastermind Erik Martensson has decided to Remix / Remaster the band's previous album, now re-released digitally as "Are You Ready To Rock MMXIV (2014)" with new artwork as well.
This album took the Melodic Hard Rock scene by storm in 2008 and it's finally back sounding better and crisp than ever.

Seriously, Martensson has done some kind of magic behind the desk with these already fantastic 11 up-tempo rockers.
Now, everything sounds kick ass, punchier, and if you ask me, more melodic with layers of harmonies never heard before.
No fillers on this album, just Killers.
Classic, straightforward and riff-orientated Melodic Hard Rock tracks full of bite, power and catchiness.
The world needs more albums like this, and now it's even superior than before, sonically on par with the impressive Bleed & Scream.

ECLIPSE - Are You Ready To Rock MMXIV (2014) photo

So, Are You Ready To Rock in MMXIV = 2014? I surely am, and with an incredible track like “Million Miles Away”, nothing can go wrong.

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrox

01 - Breaking My Heart Again
02 - Hometown Calling
03 - To Mend A Broken Heart
04 - Wylde One
05 - Under The Gun
06 - Unbreakable
07 - Hard Time Loving You
08 - Young Guns
09 - Million Miles Away
10 - 2 Souls
11 - Call Of The Wild

Erik Mårtensson - vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards
Magnus Henriksson - guitar
Robban Bäck - drums
Johan Berlin - add. keyboards
Remixed / Remastered by Erik Mårtensson 2014



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

TOMMY SHAW - Ambition [Rock Candy remaster] (2014)

TOMMY SHAW - Ambition [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) full

* UPDATED: Please read Comments

If one album which really represents the true Melodic Rock / AOR sound of the '80s deserved to be reissued that is "Ambition" by Tommy Shaw, and Rock Candy specialists have done a terrific job with it, perhaps the best re-mastering work ever from this excellent British label.

The name Tommy Shaw will always be synonymous with Styx, the hugely successful American pomp rock masters that notched up a series of multiplatinum albums during the seventies and early eighties. After leaving Styx in 1983, Shaw went on to carve out a solo career resulting in a trio of well received albums before forming supergroup Damn Yankees alongside Ted Nugent and former Night Ranger songwriter Jack Blades.

TOMMY SHAW - Ambition [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) booklet 2

"Ambition" was Tommy’s third solo album and not only is regarded as his best, but also one of the best AOR-Rock records in history. Teaming up with British producer Terry Thomas - former leader and creative heart of cult AOR band Charlie - the disc was recorded in London with the musical assistance by a number of top notch session players.

Featuring some incredible vocal performances, recorded with pinpoint accuracy and loaded with ten truly great tracks (mostly co-written with Thomas), "Ambition" is a startling example of pumping Melodic Rock with lashings of power & passion, and delicate, super-polished AOR waves.
All songs are gems, such as "Dangerous Game" or "Somewhere In The Night", but also the title track with its catchy melody and bombastic chorus.

TOMMY SHAW - Ambition [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) booklet 4

Lead off track, "No Such Thing" is one of the greatest, yet largely underexposed, tracks ever recorded by Tommy, while "Are You Ready For Me" and "The Outsider" say so much more about Shaw than we ever learnt when he was a member of Styx.
Look out too for a stunning version of "Ever Since The World Began" - penned by Survivor's Frankie Sullivan / Jim Peterik and also recorded by Jimi Jamison on the Lock Up soundtrack - another feather in his cap.

This Rock Candy remaster of Tommy Shaw's "Ambition" is awesome, full of rich enchanced frequencies and balanced output. If you own the original edition, forget it, this one blows the previous out of the water.
A Classic Melodic Rock / AOR album now sounding better than ever.

TOMMY SHAW - Ambition [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) back cover

01 - No Such Thing
02 - Dangerous Game
03 - The Weight Of The World
04 - Ambition
05 - Ever Since The World Began
06 - Are You Ready For Me
07 - Somewhere In The Night
08 - Love You Too Much
09 - The Outsider
10 - Lay Them Down

Tommy Shaw: Guitars, Lead & Background Vocals
Terry Thomas: Guitar, Keyboards, Programming, Background Vocals
Tony Beard: Drums
Felix Krish: Bass, Fretless Bass, Bass Synth
Wix: Keyboards
Peter-John Vettese: Keyboards on 5
Steve Alexander: Percussion, Drum overdubs
Christopher O'Shaughnessy: Lead Guitar on 4, 6
Lee Hart: Background Vocals
Dee & Shirley Lewis: Background Vocals
Helena Springs: Background Vocals
James "JY" Young: Background Vocals



CIRRUS BAY - The Search For Joy (2014)

CIRRUS BAY - The Search For Joy (2014) full


"The Search For Joy" is the 4th album from US, Washington based Prog / Symphonic rock project CIRRUS BAY led by guitarist / keyboardist Bill Gillham.
The music of Cirrus Bay is inspired by classic Progressive acts like Genesis combined with a breezy Renaissance style as well as some of the melancholy work of White Willow. Two female lead vocalists drive the later reference home.

"The Search For Joy" is musically quite lush sounding and frankly tranquil and serene but there are undercurrents of smoldering fire from Gillham's guitar. Apart from the excellent keyboards arrangements and the Mellotron sounds (which work wonderfully here), what I liked of Cirrus Bay is the inclusion of viola in many of the tracks. It's a wonderful addition, playing many heartwrenching melodies, infusing warmth and an organic feel throughout.
The vocals are simply marvellous, gilding, sometimes ethereal, while the musicianship throw off lots of emotions.
The playing in the album's instrumental, "A Door Into Yesterday", is a must for classic prog fans, perhaps the track that Tony Banks always wished to write. It sounds like something he could do, in a prog setting, and with the right musicians.

Other favorites include the really melodic "Out of the Box'", "Learning To Fly", and the atmospheric "Me and Wokara". I also have a soft spot for "Cotton Skies", especially the last minute of the song. In fact, just about every song has an excellent last minute or so, so if one were to skip through tracks without hearing them to the end, they would usually miss the highlight of the track.
Other strengths of this album include the harmony vocals, the overall brilliant sound, and the contributions of guests Amy Darby and Phil Mercy of Thieves' Kitchen.

CIRRUS BAY - The Search For Joy (2014) photo

There is a warm, spring / summery outdoorsy feel to this highly emotional and beautiful album from Cirrus Bay, which is definitively a mandatory listen for classic progsters.
"The Search For Joy" was found on this CD, plenty of exquisite melodies with its soul in the early-to-mid 1970s, standing in stark contrast to the 'sound and fury signifying nothing' of much modern music.

1. Song of the Wind
2. Cotton Skies
3. Me and Wokara
4. Out of the Box
5. Waking Wild
6. A Door Into Yesterday
7. The August Zone
8. Learning To Fly

Anisha Norflet - Lead Vocals (1, 2, 3, 7, 8)
Mark Blasco - Bass, Drums, Backing Vocals
Sarah Sanderson - Viola
Sharra Acle - Lead Vocals (4, 5)
Bill Gillham - Guitars, Keyboards, Auto-Harp, Mellotron, Mandolin, Backing Vocals
Amy Darby - Vocals (5, mid-section)
Phil Mercy - Electric Guitar (8, finale)



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