Thursday, July 31, 2014

UNISONIC - Light Of Dawn (2014)

UNISONIC - Light Of Dawn (2014) full


After the sneak peek EP released few months ago, Germans UNISONIC delivers their second album "Light Of Dawn", and it's largely what everybody was hoping for from this European supergroup.
If you don't recall Unisonic the band hit the headlines for reuniting two legends Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske, reunited 23 years after they formed part of Helloween. As well as featuring Kiske / Hansen, there's talented Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69), Mandy Meyer (Krokus, ex- Asia, ex- Gotthard) and Kosta Zafirou (ex Pink Cream 69).

Besides being excellent musicians, these guys are geniuses, at twisting together melodic hard rock and Euro metal into interesting and entertaining super songs. Superlatives aside, this new album simply rocks with groove for AOR hard rock fans and, for the metal heads, also offer plenty of head banging glory.
Kicking off with "Venite 2.0" which is a short orchestral track that serves as intro, "Your Time Has Come” is the first proper song, and I am happy to report that Kiske's vocals are soaring once again inspiring thoughts of those wonderful Helloween releases he appeared on, as does "Find Shelter" later.

But then the twisting, bending, and manipulating begins as Unisonic blurs the lines of hard rock and metal.
"Night of the Long Knives" and "Not Gonna Take Anymore", for example, have the big heavy metal riffs and stinging licks, yet over the blessed groove and melody that tickles your ears.
Then there's the very cool "Exceptional" where the blend is so meticulously smooth, it's equally menacing and entertaining. The song moves just as much by Kiske vocal arrangements as it does with bass and drum line. I'm guessing Ward and Zafiriou love playing this song.

Then we are treated to that stellar heavy grooving of "For The Kingdom" with those smoking guitar solos it's quite the package. "Not Gonna Take Anymore" serves up more for admirers of gripping guitar work which Light Of Dawn isn't short on, and it's another impressive song.
The anthem "When The Deed Is Done" is mid-paced magic, that music coupled to the mesmerising vocals of Kiske has me hooked. "Throne Of The Dawn" is somewhat deceiving, starting out like we are in for a slow potent number, it soon becomes another vibrant heavy rock tune.

A true power ballad ends the album with "You and I", a steady pace, more gentle passionate vocals from Kiske and, of course, the requisite soaring solos. I'll admit "Blood" and "Manhunter" fell a bit flat compared with the aforementioned highlights, but considering the overall strength of the album, it would not be fair to simply call them filler. I suspect they'll grow on you eventually.

UNISONIC - Light Of Dawn (2014) back cover

With a terrific set of songs even more solid than its predecessor, "Light Of Dawn" is a killer second CD from Unisonic.
It's melodic, it's soaring, anthemic and heavy, all at the same time. Kiske is on fire, and the rest of the band rocks. Of course, production is brilliant, with Dennis Ward behind the knobs what else would you expect.
"Light Of Dawn" is another winner for Unisonic.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Venite 2.0
02 - Your Time Has Come
03 - Exceptional
04 - For The Kingdom
05 - Not Gonna Take Anymore
06 - Night Of The Long Knives
07 - Find Shelter
08 - Blood
09 - When The Deed Is Done
10 - Throne Of The Dawn
11 - Manhunter
12 - You And I

Vocals - Michael Kiske
Bass, Vocals - Dennis Ward
Guitars - Kai Hansen, Mandy Meyer
Drums - Kosta Zafiriou

Pre-Order :


MINOR GIANT - On The Road (2014)

MINOR GIANT - On The Road (2014) full


MINOR GIANT is a new Dutch progressive rock project founded by keyboard player / composer Rindert Lammers. First of all, what really susprises is the fact Lammers started composing and recording demo versions of these songs in 2010 – at the age of just 17!
In 2011 he advertised for like-minded musicians to join him in his project. This led to the line-up of experienced Roy Post on drums and percussion, Jordi Repkes on guitars and lead vocals, Harry den Hartog (ex-PBII) on bass guitar, Jos Heijmans on keyboards and vocals.
At the end of that year the project was given a name; Minor Giant, and they became a band. And whatta band, as heard on their terrific debut "On The Road".

It's incredible how such a young musician - Rindert Lammers - was able to compose and arrange this unbelieveful awesome musical pieces. We are in front of a 'giant' talent indeed.
Right from the start, the album kicks ass with the title track, and is followed by more musical highlights only. All those wonderful songs musically revere established acts like Neal Morse, Spock's Beard, Transatlantic, Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson.

MINOR GIANT - On The Road (2014) booklet

Mentioning every song in detail, is something that won't do justice to what Minor Giant have to offer, because words can hardly express what I heard and felt while listening to them.
What I can tell you, is that it features the amazing lead vocals and guitar solos by Repkes. Wow, what a brilliant singer and guitarist this musician is on every track!

Other important things to mention are the strong synthesizer solos and keyboard parts throughout the entire album. What Lammers and Heijmans (yes, 2 keyboard players) present here is true prog heaven.
Many times, I could dream away in those endless sounding synthesizer parts and Mellotron choirs.
It's fair to remark the great rhythm section as well, because Post and den Hartog sound very tight, and occasionally have moments to shine on their own too.

MINOR GIANT - On The Road (2014) cd photo

Not only does this album rise to an unbelievably high level music wise; the lyrics are all very professionally done too and cover a certain concept, being the different roads people choose in life. The lyrics are about the hope and strength everybody needs in their travels through life. This is present most of all on the track The Last Road.
It has to be said that Jordi sings all these lyrics in a very emotional way, without any accent at all. Most of the time when you hear Jordi sing those lyrics, a feeling of longing comes over you.
An elaborated artwork is the icing on the cake for most albums. The band must have felt the same way, and therefore made sure an amazing fantasy drawing is included on the cover.

MINOR GIANT - On The Road (2014) back cover

Delivering such a superb album, which "On The Road" certainly is, only deserves the highest recommendation possible. What Minor Giant presents on their debut is of an international level and can compete with any of the Prog big names of today.
They are a terrific band, owners of an enviable musicality, but without a doubt they will grow to an even higher level on future releases. It certainly will be very difficult for them to top this one, because it's one of a kind.
Minor Giant's "On The Road" is one of the Progressive the musical highlights of 2014. Don't miss this one.
Highly Recommended.

1 On The Road
2 Dream With Eyes Wide Open
I - The Door
II - The Old Road
III - Upside Down
3 Lead Me Home
4 Hand In Hand
5 We Are Strangers Here
6 The Last Road

Rindert Lammers: keyboards, synths
Jordi Repkes: guitars, lead vocals
Jos Heijmans: keyboards, synths, mellotron, vocals
Harry den Hartog (ex-PBII): bass
Roy Post: drums, percussion
thanks to Henri Strik



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

RAINBOW - Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow (Platinum SHM-CD 2014)

RAINBOW - Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow (Platinum SHM-CD 2014) full

* HQ

After some failed efforts, finally someone has put on CD a really great remaster from one of the most influential albums in Rock history: Universal Japan has released "Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow" on a high-fidelity Platinum SHM-CD, with a HR (High Resolution) cutting copied from the original UK tapes at FX Copyroom, and freshly remastered.

At the time of the original release, this, the first Rainbow album, was widely praised for its fantasy / heroic-like lyrical content and the innovative rock style, which still influence on many musicians today. The young Ronnie James Dio is at his best here.
When the opening riff to "Man on the Silver Mountain" starts, you know its an instant classic. The addicting riff has the same effect like Smoke on the Water and the powerful chorus belted out by Dio makes this one of the best songs of all time.

RAINBOW - Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow (Platinum SHM-CD 2014) cd photo

Another one of the classics on here is "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" with the pounding, marching guitar riff and the melodic and soothing vocal line of Dio talking about a damsel in distress locked up in a castle back in the 1500's.
Fast and short rockers like "If You Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll" and "Black Sheep of the Family" are nice and speed up the pace of the album. "Self-Portrait" is a solid mid-tempo rocker with a great vocal number and the chorus is just magnificent.
And then you have "Temple of the King" with its acoustic guitar flow that comes straight from the Eastern European Renaissance style that Blackmore made his own. It's a wonderful song and there is certainly no other Rainbow song like it.

RAINBOW - Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow (Platinum SHM-CD 2014) back cover obi

"Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow" is definitely a must have for Dio, Blackmore, and hard rock / classic rock fans. The tandem of both these musicians was unique and created a classic.
This Platinum SHM-CD remaster sounds excellent, with a more pronounced low end than any version appeared before. The backing vocals of Shoshana are clear now, and I am floored by all the clavinet I heard. All with a warm, dynamic range DR13 that reminds you a lovable, unopened vinyl.

UICY ~ 40054

01 - Man On The Silver Mountain
02 - Self Portrait
03 - Black Sheep Of The Family
04 - Catch The Rainbow
05 - Snake Charmer
06 - The Temple Of The King
07 - If You Don't Like Rock N' Roll
08 - Sixteenth Century Greensleeves
09 - Still I'm Sad

Ronnie James Dio – lead vocals
Ritchie Blackmore – guitar
Micky Lee Soule – piano, mellotron, clavinet, organ
Craig Gruber – bass
Gary Driscoll – drums
Shoshana – backing vocals



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

ROBIN ZANDER - Countryside Blvd. (201?) Unreleased

ROBIN ZANDER - Countryside Blvd. (201?) Unreleased full


This one has been requested in comments for a long time: the second unreleased solo album from Cheap Trick's frontman ROBIN ZANDER, entitled "Countryside Blvd."
Zander's long-gestating solo effort has a complicated release history. It was supposed to come out in 2011 but has been stalled for reasons no one seems to know. Apparently it was for sale on iTunes for two days before the record label spontaneously removed it.
So this is a strange case of an album released, then immediately un-released.

And let me tell you, it's a shame, because it's a first-rate outing from the lead singer of Cheap Trick that has had fans flummoxed by its very (non) existence since it originally surfaced… before mysteriously disappearing within a few days of its debut.
First things first, however.
Don’t believe the online hype that "Countryside Blvd." is a 'country music' album. It’s not!
Yes, it was recorded in Nashville and, yes, Robin sports a cowboy hat on the cover (but mostly to hide his receding hairline) and, yes, it does contain elements of Americana instrumentation, including fiddles, acoustic guitars and the occasional pedal steel.
But, categorizing this as country, or country-rock, completely misses the point.

ROBIN ZANDER - Countryside Blvd. (201?) Unreleased - inside

When I first heard this - now a collector's item - I found it likeable and catchy, at times influenced by big names from the American Rock history, at times from big acts from the other side of the Atlantic.
But, repeated listens quickly convinced me that "Countryside Blvd." is a bedpost notch for Zander, with enough nuance and palate-expanding flavors to showcase his abilities and crossover appeal, without distancing himself from those looking for a Cheap retread.
The ballads (like, “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight”) are smart and appropriately sentimental, while the slight country accoutrements give the proceedings a contemporary air – a valid commerciality – without succumbing to the limited demands of modern rock radio.
Again… I didn’t hear all this so clearly the first time through. It took a few spins for Countryside Blvd.‘s compositional smarts to charm me.

Not to mention Zander’s still impressive vocal strength, as the 60 year-old easily ping-pongs from raucous rockers such as “Say You Will” or the Cheap Trick-like melodic rocker “What's Her Name” (yes, it's a melodic rock song) to overly romantic duets (“Was I Wrong”) with aplomb.
There’s also an alternate mix of “What’s Her Name” that, apparently, was mistakenly posted as one of the withdrawn downloads.
The best song, though, on "Countryside Blvd." is “Pamela Jean”. The first time I heard it I thought that my player had skipped, or that the album was over, and I was hearing Cheap Trick. This is Robin Zander circa 1991, with all that poppy melodic rock imprinted over it.

ROBIN ZANDER - Countryside Blvd. (201?) Unreleased - photo

All in all, "Countryside Blvd." is a really satisfying stretch for Robin Zander… that fans can’t have.
Honestly I don't understand why this album yanked and it was not properly released until now, as it owns a wide potential for many audiences.
This would be an awesome record to take along on a long, moonlight drive. It’s a shame we all can't go to the store and buy "Countryside Blvd." on CD, or at least digitally.
Well, 0dayrox is here to solve it.

01 - Every Dog
02 - Walkin' Shoes
03 - The Ballad Of Jean & Me
04 - Heart Of Glass
05 - What's Her Name
06 - I Wonder What You're Doing Tonight
07 - Pamela Jean
08 - Say You Will
09 - Was I Wrong
10 - Love Comes
11 - Save The Last Dance For Me
(with hidden track You Are My Sunshine)
12 - What's Her Name (Alt. Mix) [Unofficial Bonus Track]

Not for sale


AMERICA - Your Move [Japanese Limited SHM-CD] (2014)

AMERICA - Your Move [Japanese Limited SHM-CD] (2014) full


Hitmakers AMERICA are not precisely amongst my favorite bands, but I always had a soft spot for their 1983 album "Your Move" which has been remastered and released in Japan on a high quality SHM-CD.
This is their more radio friendly, AOR / AC record, following the trends of the first half of the '80s. Perhaps the reason for this musical approach must be pointed to the record producer and general director: Russ Ballard.

Ballard not only wrote most the songs on "Your Move", but also arranged, produced and played almost all instruments.
You can hear his touch on songs like "She's A Runaway," "Tonight Is For Dreamers," "Honey," and "Don't Let Me Be Lonely," along with the upbeat "My Kinda Woman". "Cast The Spirit," which had originally appeared on Ballard's 1978 album At The Third Stroke, is one of the more AOR cuts.
"The Border", including strings by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was a Top 40 hit, while the great title track was penned by multi-platinum-selling Westcoast guru Steve Kipner.

AMERICA - Your Move [Japanese Limited SHM-CD] (2014) back cover OBI

This Japanese remaster of "Your Move" has a much better dynamic range than any reissue heard before, and adds a little extra brightness to the already ultra-polished, glossy production by Russ Ballard.
A typical product of the '80s now presented with a great sound.

Capitol Japan TYCP ~ 80051

01 - My Kinda Woman
02 - She's A Runaway
03 - Cast The Spirit
04 - Love's Worn Out Again
05 - The Border
06 - Your Move
07 - Honey
08 - My Dear
09 - Tonight Is For Dreamers
10 - Don't Let Me Be Lonely
11 - Someday Woman

Vocals – Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell
Keyboards, Bass, Guitar, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Russ Ballard
Harmony Vocals on 2 – Stephen Bishop
Saxophone – Raphael Ravenscroft
Strings – Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

AMERICA - Your Move [Japanese Limited SHM-CD] (2014) disc photo



BAD BONES - Snakes and Bones (Deluxe Edition) (2014)

BAD BONES - Snakes and Bones (Deluxe Edition) (2014) full


BAD BONES hails from from Cuneo, Italy, have been a band since 2007 with two albums recorded, and "Snakes and Bones" is their third effort. The disc was released independently two years ago, but now Bad Bones has a deal with Madhouse Music and are re-releasing this 'Deluxe Edition' with 3 freshly recorded new tracks.

Since its foundation, Bad Bones has not stop playing in any venue available all over Europe, opening for bands such as Steel Panther, Hardcore Superstar or H.E.A.T, and touring USA as main act on places like the legendary Whiskey a Go Go and Key Club.
Occurs that Bad Bones is more 'American Hard Rock' than many bands already born in the States. Their preferred style is late '80s Californian Hard Rock, and they are quite good at it.

BAD BONES - Snakes and Bones (Deluxe Edition) (2014) inside

Since the gritty, raw opener "Don't Stop Me", Bad Bones rocks you with razor guitars, pounding drums and sleazy vocals. Follower "Gasoline Rock" is even better, more catchy and melodic.

But the good thing of the CD is the fact Bad Bones has interspersed between the hard rockers some acoustic, slow paced numbers which work really well with the flow of the record; two fast paced - one slow cut.
So you have the whiskey soaked, bluesy acoustic title track "Snakes & Bones" next, to rock hard again with the furious "Am I Walking Alone?", one of the best tracks.
There's other fine slow songs like "Desert Star Blues" (recalls Badlands) and the middle of the road "Jumping White Devil" in between solid hard rockers like "Rebel Radio", "Nowhere Girl" and "Bugs Lane".
The new tracks featured as bonus include the fine rattlesnake bluesy "Dancing On The Ceiling", the riff driven "Shake Me" and a cover of Journey's classic "Don't Stop Believin'".

"Snakes & Bones" is a good, entertaining piece of American Hard Rock including a solid batch of songs well arranged, robust like a bull's bones and flexible as serpents.
All are good musicians and it's clear they know what this genre is all about: they play with a sweaty attitude, tight and hot, while the record production is slick and organic.
Rocks Good - Recommended.

01 - Don't Stop Me
02 - Gasoline Rock
03 - Snakes & Bones
04 - Am I Walking Alone?
05 - Desert Star Blues
06 - Rebel Radio
07 - Jumping White Devil
08 - Follow The Rain
09 - Nowhere Girl
10 - Bugs Lane
11 - Indian Medicine Man
12 - Dancing On The Ceiling (bonus track)
13 - Shake Me (bonus track)
14 - Don't Stop Believin' (bonus track)

Max Bone (Max Malmerenda) - voice
SerJoe Bone (Sergio Aschieris) - guitar
Steve Bone (Stefano Balocco) - bass, bck vocals
Lele Bone (Raffaele Balocco) - drums



Monday, July 28, 2014

UNBREAKABLE - Knockout (2014)

UNBREAKABLE - Knockout (2014) full


New German Hard Rock band UNBREAKABLE will be releasing their debut "Knockout" - produced by Herman Rarebell - this July 29th 2014 via Dark Star Records/ Sony Music.
When I read this young quintet first album was produced by the legendary Scorpions drummer, mastered & mixed by Michael Voss and endorsed by MTV artists, I knew these guys had to have something good to offer.

“Knockout” kicks the disc off with a sound a bit like Rarebell’s The Scorpions era, but these playing and vocals stand on their own on this track and lays the groundwork for a great record.
“Rock The Nightlife,” the first single and video, has cool guitar riffs and prominently feature the drums in the mix. Pulling from the sound and vibe of the '80s hard rock scene, this track features a catchy hook-laden chorus.
“Bad Blood” is a riff filled track that embodies rock and its entire attitude, from the pounding bass line to the crunchy guitars to the vocals that add punch to the chorus. “Crazy Cat Lady” is a tongue-in-cheek number that features a ton of innuendo buried in the lyrics, while the rhythm section gives a killer drum-bass anchor to the song.

“Good Times” is a high energy stomper that gives the disc a genuine arena rock track that should go over well in a live setting, as the chorus screams for fist pumping.

“Game Of Life” is perhaps the more Scorpions circa 1984 influenced cut and I love it. Listen those verses then tell me.
“Come Back To Me” is a great midtempo ballad with a typical European vibe and some Scandinavian sound on it, and it's a highlight.
“Obsession” has pings and squeals galore, but not to the detriment of the track. The guitars are full and give the song a super 'oomph' at the bridges and choruses. “In Your Heart” is the other ballad, the kind of meaty and powerful tunes that Pretty Maids, Europe and... yes, Scorpions used to craft at the beginning of their careers. Great one.

“Back To The Roots” is the heavier track on the CD and the one with a more modernized sound, but the semi-gang chorus bring things to a familiar territory: the '80s.
“We Are Dreamers” brings the disc to a close on a mellow note that doesn’t detract from the other tracks on the disc, but adds another dimension to the album and sound of the band. It's partially acoustic, with nice percussions and harmony vocals.

UNBREAKABLE - Knockout (2014) inside

Unbreakable's debut album "Knockout" is a lovable collection of hard rock songs structurally and sonically inspired by the 1983-1986 Euro sound of the genre.
These guys took their heroes and influences, mixed them up with their own ideas and abilities and have created a disc that should please rockers from an era gone by, but also today’s hard rock lovers. The overall sound output it's updated to modern times, but the 'feel' is truly '80s.
Very Recommended.

01. Knock Out
02. Rock The Nightlife
03. Come Back To Me
04. Bad Blood
05. Obsession
06. Crazy Cat Lady
07. In Your Heart
08. Good Times
09. Back To The Roots
10. Game Of Life
11. We Are The Dreamers

Al Crespo (Vocals)
Martin Ries (Guitar)
Pascal Alles (Guitar)
Lukas Mittler (Bass)
Alex Ries (Drums)



Sunday, July 27, 2014

KROKUS - One Vice At A Time [Rock Candy remaster] (2014)

KROKUS - One Vice At A Time [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) full


Rock Candy Records has just remastered the first three '80s records by Swiss Hard Rock pioneers KROKUS, something the fans have been demanding for some time.
There comes a tipping point in every artist’s career where years of hard work and paying dues suddenly turn into an avalanche of praise and success.
Krokus reached this point with the release of "One Vice At A Time", a supremely crafted album boasting a clutch of tracks that elevated their appeal far beyond anything previously conceived or, indeed, achieved.

Co-produced in London by former AC/DC engineer Tony Platt and issued in 1982, with "One Vice At A Time" the band made a concerted effort to refine their sound and ambition by bringing their trademark style fully into focus.
Jam packed with a number of raucous tracks such as "Bad Boys Rag Dolls", "To The Top", "American Woman" (a metallic cover of the Guess Who classic) and perhaps their best known song "‘Long Stick Goes Boom", there is room enough for the band to drill down deep yet retain a sense of composure befitting a band safe in the knowledge that they were about to reap the rewards of years of hard work.
Look out for an appearance by Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson, who provides backing vocals on the track "I’m On The Run".

KROKUS - One Vice At A Time [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) back cover

The early Krokus albums really needed a modern sound treatment, and this Rock Candy remaster does justice to this fun, hard rockin' band.
Much Recommended.

01 - Long Stick Goes Boom
02 - Bad Boys, Rag Dolls
03 - Playin' The Outlaw
04 - To The Top
05 - Down The Drain
06 - American Woman
07 - I'm On The Run
08 - Save Me
09 - Rock 'n' Roll

Marc Storace - lead vocals
Fernando Von Arb - lead guitar
Chris Von Rohr - bass, percussion
Freddy Steady - drums
Mark Kohler - rhythm guitar
Bruce Dickinson - backing vocals on 7



Saturday, July 26, 2014

KROKUS - Hardware [Rock Candy remaster] (2014)

KROKUS - Hardware [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) full


Rock Candy Records has just remastered the first three '80s records by Swiss Hard Rock pioneers KROKUS, something the fans have been demanding for some time.
It's fair to say that the Swiss music scene at the beginning of that decade hadn't exactly set the world on fire, but with Krokus that situation was rapidly reversed.
The band’s album ‘Metal Rendez-vous’ became a surprise success, not only in their home country (sales rocketing to three times Platinum) but also globally where they secured a strong foothold in the charts and on the live front.

The band’s no-nonsense brand of tough-guy hard rock found favour in a market that was wide open for that revolution.
"Hardware", therefore, was released into the arms of an eager fan base feeding off the energy of their previous album and it didn’t disappoint them.
The record picks up where the band left off, laying down some serious riffage on songs that display a cheeky lyrical charm; an unexpected side-effect of their Swiss/Maltese heritage.
Engineered by British studio master Mark Dearnley (Def Leppard) and recorded in London, the album makes full use of their powerful armoury, led by the ripping two guitar attack of Fernando von Arb and Tommy Keefer.

Heavy but memorable, the album contains a superb selection of tracks, including the in-concert favourites "Easy Rocker", "Mr. 69", "Smelly Nellie" and "Mad Racket", songs blessed with a swish and swagger that made it clear the Scorpions weren't the only band in Europe with big potential.

KROKUS - Hardware [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) back cover

The early Krokus albums really needed a modern sound treatment, and this Rock Candy remaster does justice to this fun, hard rockin' band.
Much Recommended.

01 - Celebration
02 - Easy Rocker
03 - Smelly Nelly
04 - Mr. 69
05 - She's Got Everything
06 - Burning Bones
07 - Rock City
08 - Winning Man
09 - Mad Racket

Marc Storace - lead vocals
Tommy Kiefer - guitar, backing vocals
Fernando Von Arb - guitar, backing vocals
Chris Von Rohr - bass, backing vocals
Freddy Steady - drums, backing vocals



KROKUS - Metal Rendez-Vous [Rock Candy remaster] (2014)

KROKUS - Metal Rendez-Vous [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) full


Rock Candy Records has just remastered the first three '80s records by Swiss Hard Rock pioneers KROKUS, something the fans have been demanding for some time.
You can count the amount of internationally successful European bands in this genre on one hand; Krokus are one of only a few acts that can be included on that list.

With roots reaching back to mid-seventies, the band spent several years experimenting with various line-up changes and recording three albums, before settling on a unique style that came fully into focus with the appointment of Maltese born frontman Marc Storace, formerly of Swiss heavy progressive rockers Tea.
It was this formation that signed to German record label Ariola and cut "Metal Rendez-vous", an invigorating example of explosive four-to-the floor hard rock, big on hooks and jam-packed with hell raising riffs.

Chief amongst their selling points was Storace’s signature voice and his ability to punch home some incredibly well constructed songs. In addition, guitarists Tommy Kiefer and Fernando von Arb were no slouches either, peeling out a series of ripping solos and laying down tough as nails musical support in a manner befitting the times.
Co-produced with the band in Switzerland by English producer Martin Pearson, the album contains a number of classic Krokus tracks including "Heatstrokes", "Streamer", "Tokyo Nights", and my absolute favorite the catchy "Bedside Radio", which still remain in the Krokus' live set to this very day.

KROKUS - Metal Rendez-Vous [Rock Candy remaster] (2014) back cover

The early Krokus albums really needed a modern sound treatment, and this Rock Candy remaster does justice to this fun, hard rockin' band.
Much Recommended.

01 - Heatstrokes
02 - Bedside Radio
03 - Come On
04 - Streamer
05 - Shy Kid
06 - Tokyo Nights
07 - Lady Double Dealer
08 - Fire
09 - No Way
10 - Back-Seat Rock 'n' Roll

Marc Storace - lead vocals
Tommy Kiefer - guitar, backing vocals
Fernando Von Arb - guitar, backing vocals
Chris Von Rohr - bass, backing vocals
Freddy Steady - drums, backing vocals
Juerg Naegeli - keyboards, backing vocals



Friday, July 25, 2014

GARY MOORE - Dirty Fingers [Japanese K2HD remastering HQCD] (2014)

GARY MOORE - Dirty Fingers [Japanese K2HD remastering HQCD] (2014) full


Finally, one of rarest - and best - albums by GARY MOORE, "Dirty Fingers", has received a proper remaster by Victor Japan with a K2HD remastering on a HQCD.
There were several attemps to get a fully sound from this recording, even last year appeared on SHM-CD, but somehow due to transfer / press troubles the dynamic range resulted plain flat.

"Dirty Fingers" was actually recorded in 1981 for Jet Records but was shelved for years, only to be released in Japan after Gary began to gain some popularity in 1983.
One of the interesting things about this album is that it features an all-star band which aside from Gary, also included ex-Ted Nugent vocalist Charlie Huhn, Rainbow / Dio bassist Jimmy Bain, keyboard master Don Airey, and monster drummer Tommy Aldridge.
So, there is a ton of history in this band, and the music on this disc certainly shows that history.

GARY MOORE - Dirty Fingers [Japanese K2HD remastering HQCD] (2014) cd photo

"Dirty Fingers" is raw, straight-ahead hard rock played with fire and emotion. It has some uniqueness into Gary Moore's discography, a display of inspired guitar riffs, raring bass lines and smashing drums. Just listen the heavy opener "Hiroshima".
Amongst my favorites there's the hard rockin' blues of "Bad News", the killer "Nuclear Attack", and "Run to Your Mama" featuring a terrific duel between Gary's incendiary solos and Airey's synths.
Also included is a curious cover; "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" a song written in the sixties and made popular by The Animals. Moore's version is heavy, raw & hot. This is THE best version of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" that exists.

GARY MOORE - Dirty Fingers [Japanese K2HD remastering HQCD] (2014) back cover

"Dirty Fingers" is a killer hard rockin' album, that sadly always suffered of a bad transfer from the master tapes.
There's many reissues out there, but this K2HD remastering on a HQCD is the best I heard without a doubt.
Essential album from this electric guitar master Mr. Gary Moore.

Victor JVC ‎~ VICP-75132

01 - Hiroshima
02 - Dirty Fingers
03 - Bad News
04 - Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
05 - Run To Your Mama
06 - Nuclear Attack
07 - Kidnapped
08 - Really Gonna Rock
09 - Lonely Nights
10 - Rest In Peace

Gary Moore - guitar, vocals
Don Airey - organ, keyboards
Jimmy Bain - bass
Tommy Aldridge - drums
Charlie Huhn - vocals




TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS - Hypnotic Eye (2014) full


There's enough wiry fuzz and gritty momentum on "Hypnotic Eye", the 13th studio album from TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS, to make the memories of yesterday and the reckoning of today more than just an ageing rock star’s laments.
"I knew I wanted to do a rock'n'roll record. We hadn't made a straight hard-rockin' record, from beginning to end, in a long time," Tom Petty said earlier this year.

The aim of Petty and his stalwart band was to revisit the true classic rock which made them famous. That seemed such a big ask that only a truly befuddled 63-year-old rock ’n’ roll star could think it possible.
And yet these 11 tracks are a reminder of how great Petty and his bandmates could be when they let it rip – all jangling guitars, close harmonies and great tunes. American exceptionalism in action.

TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS - Hypnotic Eye (2014) inside

Although they started this project three years ago, "Hypnotic Eye" shows no sign of studio patchwork nor rusty ageing limbs. The songs, loosely themed around an outsider concept, carry real impact, with Petty’s signature seething drawl and Mike Campbell’s meaty guitar breaks dominating the soundscape.

Petty’s knack for capturing the American voice gives the verses of "Forgotten Man" and "American Dream Plan B" a canny snarl, which is matched by his lean guitar interplay with Campbell and Benmont Tench’s reined-in keyboards.
The likes of "Burnt Out Town" has a bluesy, melodic atmosphere, while the record’s ballads, the narcotic "U Get Me High" and, especially, the inky, languid confessional "Sins Of My Youth" are arresting.
The band are as they once were, a powerful combination of freshness and familiarity, oozing menace and spirit on tracks such as "Red River", "All You Carry" and "Shadow People", three tracks destined to be Tom Petty hits.

TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS - Hypnotic Eye (2014) back cover

I always liked Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Their Classic Rock songs are effective, melodic and simple, and as once Yngwie Malmsteen said: "I love Tom Petty... only 3-note songs, but the man has musicality for sure"... said by a man able to play 1000 notes per minute. And he's right, that's Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers secret: delicious musicality.
"Hypnotic Eye" is the best album Petty has recorded in the last twenty years, and you will be more than pleasantly satisfied with this true American Classic Rock record.
Easily Recommended.

01 - American Dream Plan B
02 - Fault Lines
03 - Red River
04 - Full Grown Boy
05 - All You Can Carry
06 - Power Drunk
07 - Forgotten Man
08 - Sins Of My Youth
09 - U Get Me High
10 - Burnt Out Town
11 - Shadow People

Tom Petty - vocals, guitars
Mike Campbell - guitar
Benmont Tench - keyboards
Scott Thurston - guitar, keyboards, percussion
Ron Blair - bass
Steve Ferrone - drums



Thursday, July 24, 2014

BOMBAY BLACK - Walk Of Shame (2014)

BOMBAY BLACK - Walk Of Shame (2014) full


One of the best and more underrated acts from the present Hard Rock scene, BOMBAY BLACK, are back with their 6th studio album "Walk Of Shame".
If there's any shame, it's precisely why this band isn't way bigger in the music business than they are.

Bombay Black already have 5 very good records under their belt, but "Walk Of Shame" is hands-down the band's best disc, and my pick for the party-rock disc of the summer, if not the year.
These guys approach to classic American Hard Rock is really updated both in sound & style, making a modern take on the L.A. Sunset Strip Scene cock rawk with attitude and originality.
The songs have that old-school feel, yet with inventive arrangements and lots, lots of hooks. You could picture just about every song blaring at top volume from a convertible on the way to the beach in 1990, however, all sounds really 2014, powerful, assassin.

BOMBAY BLACK - Walk Of Shame (2014) inside

Written by vocalist Erik Johnson and co-produced with bassist Ty Sims, "Walk Of Shame" sounds crystal clear yet stained and spontaneous with a smoky veneer on the likes of "Bye Bye Juliet", the best song Motley Crue never wrote.
One of Bombay Black’s biggest draws is the way Johnson delivers his midrange hair metal vocals and the powerful melodies emanating from the groovy twin guitars. Even without the fantastic production, the riffage alone would shatter the Great Wall, hammering home again and again on track after track.

But Bombay Black are not a one trick pony. Apart from the melting hard rockers such as the aforementioned "Bye Bye Juliet" (a highlight), "Sex & Gasoline", or the anthemic hands-in-the-air "Everything You Wanted" (another highlight), they have much more to offer.
You have great melodic hard rock tunes on the catchy "America's Sweetheart" (infectious chorus) and "I May As Well", foot-tapping hair metal in "Come Over Here" and "Sunshine", a really well elaborated power ballad in "Sucker", and even some exploration on the groovy mid-tempo "Haunting L.A." which starts with synth samples.

BOMBAY BLACK - Walk Of Shame (2014) back cover

This Arkansas quartet rocks like no-other with their unique Hard Rock style, and "Walk Of Shame" is an album you must listen.
It's classic early '90s American Hard Rock / Hair Metal / Melodic Hard Rock but transported to 2014, a logical evolution from a genre that still admits new frontiers, and Bombay Black prove this on their excellent new record.
Sooner or later, the world is going to have to realize that BOMBAY BLACK is simply one of the best bands on the planet making Hard Rock today.

01 - Bye Bye Juliet
02 - Sex & Gasoline
03 - America's Sweetheart
04 - Come Over Here
05 - Dressed to the Nines
06 - Living on Mars
07 - Haunting L.A.
08 - Superstardumb
09 - Everything You Wanted
10 - Pretty People
11 - I May As Well
12 - Sucker
13 - Sunshine

Erik Johnson - Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Ty Sims - Bass, Backing Vocals
Justin Velte - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Barry Whaley - Drums, Backing Vocals



POINT BLANK - Volume 9 (2014)

POINT BLANK - Volume 9 (2014) full


Do you remember POINT BLANK? These Texans are one of the core units of high-class classic southern rock since they released the self-titled debut in 1976 and were handled by ZZ Top’s manager, Bill Ham. Perhaps you know them for the more AOR / Melodic Rock oriented material the band produced in the early '80s.
Point Blank broke up in 1983, but returned in 2007 with a new record and another in 2009. The band has unfortunately lost some of its original members (R.I.P), but still they have now returned with another slab of killer classic rock entitled "Volume 9".

Singer John O’Daniels and guitarist Rusty Burns are still standing and they still deliver the goods teaching here to some 'stars' how things should be done when you talk about southern flavored classic rock.
The CD starts with "Blast!," an upbeat little instrumental to get you going and the guitars of Michael 'Mouse' Mayes and Rusty Burns are on fire. The entire track is a warning.
"Howling Wolf" is driven by a haunting six-string melody where O'Daniels tells us of a dream about the Howling Wolf calling me... might be calling you. This a rocking tribute to the blues, with references to 'Texas Flood', 'Highway 61' and Howling Wolf, a legend who showed us all how to howl those blues, and yet it carries the Point Blank cadence throughout. No one else has a sound like this, don't it make ya wanna howl like the wolf?

POINT BLANK - Volume 9 (2014) inside

"Automobile" rocks hard inviting you for a drive. This is the story of a '36 Ford. I love songs about cars, and this one's joining the lineup with all my other faves. Prepare for Rusty's guitar to light your ass on fire.
"Lies Like Hell" is a slow burning bluesy number with lots of charm, followed by the dynamic rocker "Johnny Dallas" with a hot riff and a catchy chorus.
After the nice, very melodic midtempo "Amigos" (love the lyrics), we continue with some 5-star rhythm where Point Blank gives all it got with an uncommon ability on the masterful "Start The Car", penned by Jude Cole, a songwriter guitarist from Illinois who worked among others with Moon Martin and released some stupendous AOR albums. This tune fits Point Blank like a glove, supremely wrapped up with beautiful guitar notes by Burns and Mayes. Here, John O’Daniels is really mind-blowing.

Same feeling just a bit more muted is deployed on "It Ain’t Right" signed by the Blank's keyboards player Larry Telford and O'Daniels. It's, instrumentally, an intense song.
Point Blank have always included a few ballads and this album is no exception; "Heart Of A Fool" is an emotional, laid back sultry bluesy number co-written with Gregg Allman including a great sax solo.
The stand is closed with some pure Point Blank on the commercial rocker "To Be a Man" that ends this record full of appeal. Catchy riff, swaggerin' vocals, classic keyboards, this is pure classic rock and one of the highlights on the album.

POINT BLANK - Volume 9 (2014) back

It's hard to know the writings in a song unless you've lived them. The mambers in Point Blank have, and "Volume 9" is a testament to what they have, indeed, what we've all seen.
On this new record, Point Blank sparks that trip to a place we've all known, and wished we'd never lost. It is a testament to the uncompromising state of classic rock with a timeless message.
Every track shows strength, in your face bluesy hard rock in cadence with great musicianship and each song has something to say. Their messages are worth your attention, and you'll enjoy every one.
Rusty Burns calls "Volume 9" a labor of love. It shows, believe me.
Very Recommended.

01 - Blast
02 - Howlin' Wolf
03 - Where I Belong
04 - Automobile
05 - Lies Like Hell
06 - Johnny Dallas
07 - Amigos
08 - Start The Car
09 - It Ain't Right
10 - Heart Of A Fool
11 - To Be A Man

John O'Daniels - Vocals
Rusty Burns - Guitar
Mouse Mayes - Guitar
Larry Telford - Keyboards
Kirk Powers - Bass
Mike Gage - Drums



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

NIVA - Incremental IV [Japanese Edition] (2014)

NIVA - Incremental IV [Japanese Edition] (2014)  full


Swedish singer Tony Niva is a veteran musician who started his musical career in 1987 fronting many cult bands such as Zanity, Swedish Erotica and Axia but he's probably best known for being the lead singer in Lion's Share.
But Tony's present musical child is his own band NIVA with 3 recordings under its belt, and with the new CD "Incremental IV" to be released next month through AOR Heaven. In Japan, the album is being released today, July 23rd, with two bonus tracks

If you've heard Niva's great previous album presented at 0day, you will be really pleased with "Incremental IV", simply beacuse it's even better.
This is pure Scandinavian Melodic Rock / AOR with soaring vocals, keyboards aplenty (really good orchestrations as well) and contagious choruses.
You have pumping and polished melodic rockers on "Don't You Know", "Magnitude", "Play The Game", or the anthemic "Lost And Found".

If you need your Scandi AOR dose just get "Better Just Forgotten" or the velvety "Only You" (a highlight).
Of course there's ballads: the very classy piano driven "Travel Back In Time" and the compelling mid-tempo "All By Myself".
Japanese bonus tracks "In The Ray Of Light" and "Leading Me On Again" really worth it, the former being a marching rocker, the latter more AOR with synths all over and a nice chorus.

"Incremental IV" is another great Swedish Melodic Hard Rock / AOR effort by Tony Niva and his guys.
Everything sounds perfect, polished, melodic, thanks to Marcus Persson's crystal clear production (and his terrific keyboard orchestrations). If there's any fault to mention, the guitar solos are too formulaic at places.
If the pure (no contamination here) sounds of the genre are your thing - read: Last Autumn's Dream, Fair Warning, Grand Illusion, Novak, etc. - you can't miss "Incremental IV".
Highly Recommended.

01. Don't You Know
02. Crush
03. Better Just Forgotten
04. Magnitude
05. The Reason Why
06. Travel Back In Time
07. Play The Game
08. Only You
09. Lost And Found
10. All By Myself
11. Coming Back To You
12. In The Ray Of Light (Bonus Only Japan)
13. Leading Me On Again (Bonus Only Japan)

Tony Niva - vocals
Roger Ljunggren - guitar
Marcus Persson - keyboards, backing vocals
Jan Stal - bass
Bengan Anderson - drums



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

HENRIC BLOMQVIST & FRIENDS - All Of Your Illusions (2014)

HENRIC BLOMQVIST & FRIENDS - All Of Your Illusions (2014) full


Hailing from Pietarsaari, Finland, guitarist HENRIC BLOMQVIST has been working as session musician, playing in many cover bands, as well as writing and recording original material.
His just released first solo album "All Of Your Illusions" came about following a conversation with sometime Rainbow / MSG vocalist Doogie White and sees Blomqvist call on several of his friends in the music industry to add their contributions.

Aside from White the record also includes vocalists Jari Tiura (Stargazery, ex-MSG), Jukka Nummi (Rainbow Shakers, Angry Machines, ex-Myon) and Johan Mattjus, (Solid Faces, ex- Stormwing), while the back up band consists of MyGrain's bassist Jonas Kuhlberg, ex- Stormwing Sven Wannäs on Hammond B3 & keyboards and Roger Snellman (Solid Faces, ex-Tinderbox) behind the drum kit.
This is very much an album with its sound & style based on the Classic Hard Rock of the '80s, and in particular Perfect Strangers era Deep Purple and Joe Lynn Turner fronted Rainbow are two that come immediately to mind.

Blomqvist's considerable talents as a guitarist of note are very much at the forefront and, unlike similarly conceived projects, the theme of utilising several different lead vocalists does not detract from the end result or interrupt the flow of the album.

HENRIC BLOMQVIST & FRIENDS - All Of Your Illusions (2014) booklet

"All Of Your Illusions" is also more than just a guitarists showcase as exemplified by the Hammond driven "Black Sky" and the swirling keyboards of the rock solid instrumental title track, both of which could be viewed as tributes to the late Jon Lord.
Other highlights include "Place Of Fear" which starts of with some eerie synths, belting into some classic riffs with a bit of twist - more to it than your average headbanging riff, the somehow catchy "Thunderbrigade" filled with electro acoustics, and the ballad "Pain That Gains", not the sugary type and constructed over a clever six-string arrangement.

"Till The End Of Time" kicks in with masterful riffery and runs over a melodic chorus, chugging along a bluesy rhythm.
"Lonely As I Am" starts off a little heavier, drums pounding out a rhythm matching the guitar, before those riffs come in again. The chorus is a little different from what you expect, slower, more deliberate – and Doogie White does a very good job carrying the vocal melodies through the verses.

HENRIC BLOMQVIST & FRIENDS - All Of Your Illusions (2014) back cover

So there you have it. Definitely "All Of Your Illusions" as a debut solo album it is a good result: good songwriting, solid musical performances and musically varied enough - always around classic hard rock - to keep the interest.
All the vocalists involved glue very well and the concept of letting them have input into the structure is a winner. Production wise, perhaps a little more rawness would have benefited the overall kick, but in the other hand, all sounds really melodic and polished.
"All Of Your Illusions" is a consistently strong debut album by Henric Blomqvist with some inspired musicianship and with all of the Classic Rock / traditional Hard Rock trademarks.

01 - Place of Fear
02 - Thunderbrigade
03 - Pain That Gains
04 - Black Sky
05 - Plenty of Reasons
06 - Till The End of Time
07 - When We Were Young
08 - Perfect Dream
09 - Lonely As I Am
10 - All of You Illusions

Henric Blomqvist - guitar
Jonas Kuhlberg - bass
Sven Wannäs - keyboards, Hammond B3
Roger Snellman - drums
Lead Vocals by:
Johan Mattjus
Jukka Nummi
Jari Tiura
Doogie White



FLAMING ROW - Mirage: A Portrayal Of Figures (2014)

FLAMING ROW - Mirage: A Portrayal Of Figures (2014) full


It's exciting to see progressive metal bands continually moving away from the norm, and toward new, fresh sounds and combinations. FLAMING ROW out of Germany has released their second album, and it's ambitious for certain.
"Mirage: A Portrayal of Figures" is a massive, mind-blowing album that has a cohesive, definite story to it.

"Mirage: A Portrayal of Figures" is huge in many ways, from story to guest musicians. These include members of bands such as Haken, Spock's Beard, Pain of Salvation and even Ayreon. This is really impressive for a band that is only on its second album.
The story revolves around the Magistrate, a group of alien rulers that have decided that mankind has progressed too far in their technological abilities, but not far enough in their morality or unity. This certainly isn't anything new, as I can name a few albums with similar plots.
However, the added twist is that the survivors have banded together to fight back, but a lowly soldier believes that his leaders have different plans than they claim. It's obviously quite an undertaking, and I believe they pull it off pretty well with clever peculiarity at the end.

FLAMING ROW - Mirage: A Portrayal Of Figures (2014) booklet

Speaking about the songwriting, we have some quite long tracks but with many parts in between, real 'songs into songs' with their own personality all well-suited to the story.
The music, indeed, is the shining force on this album. Calling Flaming Row a progressive metal band is a bit of a generalization, as there are many styles at work here.
Sure, there are some hefty, progressive metallic portions, but there are also fusion sequences, articulated hard rock riffs, melodic acoustics, many European folk influences, and even some rousing 'saloon' piano, for lack of a better description.
An eclectic mix, then, of heavy guitars (at times), dynamic drums and bass, the always excellent keyboards adding grandiose textures and and guest musicians that play everything from Uilleann pipes, whistles, sax, and violins to mandolins, cellos, and basically everything you can imagine.

The songs themselves are extraordinary for the most part. The album begins with a 16+ minute title track that feels epic and soaring. Right on its heels, though, we have my favorite track "Aim L45", a quieter, more organic and basically acoustic tune that is simply beautiful.
But, after that, "Burning Sky" starts the massive feeling all over again. This is rather representative of the entire album, as the styles and tone move up and down and all over the place.

The myriad of vocalists that appear on this record make for a diverse, if sometimes hard to distinguish, array of 'faces' to remember. However, the music keeps the listener grounded, and always appears a new nuance to discover.

"Mirage: A Portrayal of Figures" is a soaring story of giant proportions, one that is told awesomely and executed musically even better.
The many styles in play by Flaming Row and company keep things interesting, and there are some jaw-dropping moments that really make the album what it is: one of the most complete and intriguing progressive records of the year.
STRONGLY Recommended.

01 - Mirage - A Portrayal Of Figures Pt.1
02 - Aim L45
03 - Burning Sky
04 - Journey To The Afterlife
05 - Alcatraz
06 - Memento Mori
07 - Pictures
08 - In Appearance - A Portrayal Of Figures Pt.2

Martin Schnella - Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
Kiri Geile - Vocals
Niklas Kahl - Drums
Marek Arnold - Keyboards, Saxophone

Jimmy Keegan (Spock's Beard): drums
Leo Margarit (Pain Of Salvation): drums
Lars Lehmann (U.F.O.): bass
Kristoffer Gildenlöw (ex- Pain Of Salvation): bass
Dave Meros (Spock's Beard): bass
Arjen Anthony Lucassen (Ayreon / Star One): guitar solo
Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery): vocals, synth solo
Brendt Allman (Shadow Gallery): vocals, guitar solo
Eric Brenton (Neal Morse): violin, viola, string arrangement
Nathan Brenton (Neal Morse): cello, string arrangement
Diego Tejeida (Haken): keyboard solo
Tobias Reiss: piano
Ole Rausch: additional guitar solo
Stephan Wegner: guitar
Jens Kommnick: uillean pipes, whistles, cello, fiddle, mandoline
Hauke Nies: marching drums, cajon, bongos
Rolf Wagels: bodhran
Ted Leonard (Spock's Beard / Enchant): vocals
Magali Luyten (Ayreon / Beautiful Sin): vocals
Johan Hallgren (Ex-Pain Of Salvation): vocals
Simon Moskon: vocals
Lars Begerow: vocals
Michael Lowin: vocals
Anne Trautmann: vocals
Melanie Mau: vocals
Anja Hampe: vocals
Second Life Syndrome: words



Saturday, July 19, 2014

FREDDEGREDDE - Brighter Skies (2014)

FREDDEGREDDE - Brighter Skies (2014) full


Hailing from Gävle, Sweden, FREDDEGREDDE is a solo project by Fredrik Larsson. The young artist initially rose to prominence in the early days of viral video revolution where his great musicianship gained attention on YouTube and generated millions of views on some of his most popular videos.
After a the original, elaborated Prog rock showcased on his debut album four years ago, FREDDEGREDDE is back with an outstanding piece or melodic, crossover Prog music baptised "Brighter Skies".

Larsson mix his love for traditional Prog with modern, accessible Neo-Prog resulting in melodic compositions rich in variation and plenty of diverse arrangements, with emphasis on vocal parts but as well the instrumental section which is tight and energetic, yet at places atmospheric.
Fredrik has done almost everything here, from composing the entire music, playing guitar, keyboards and bass, to handling the vocal duties with class and style. The only help is coming from drums department offered by Louis Abramson (Jolly), an elastic stickman.

FREDDEGREDDE - Brighter Skies (2014) booklet

Opener "Welcome the Bright Skies" delivers an accessible, pleasant sounding melody yet using odd progressive time signatures and a complex song structure.
Next, "The Autotelic Self" has a heavier tone, almost prog metal at times. It's upbeat, intense, filled with some killer interludes between keyboards / guitars and fat bass lines, but this long composition changes in the middle through softer piano lines and original guitar breaks.
After the short, acoustic "Your Life" which reminds me Styx, we have the crazy "This Fragile Existence", constantly shifting between different styles and moods, from prog metal to art rock to a cappella and everything in between. There's some Saga in it, and also Eighties Rush.

FREDDEGREDDE - Brighter Skies (2014) inside

"The Tower" is the slow and more atmospheric track of the album. It starts out like a film soundtrack, and gradually develops into something grand and majestic. The piano is fantastic here.
Fredrik opts for a 'song format' on "Shining", a Neo-Prog rocker filled with precise riffs and spark synths, then in the second half of the track vintage Prog spice the tune.
Fans of epic compositions will find quite a treat at the end of the record with "Ocean Mind". This one take the listener on wild journeys through mind-boggling landscapes that will sit especially well with fans of elaborated progressive rock music.

FREDDEGREDDE - Brighter Skies (2014) digipak

There's indeed a 'bright' future for FREDDEGREDDE, as "Brighter Skies" is a terrific work of art from this talented Swedish musician which is Fredrik Larsson.
On this record not only has the artist managed to make a clear statement of intent but also a clear tendency towards fusing the worlds of Prog Rock, Art Rock, Melodic Rock and Pop music. The material shows a versatile approach which, in return, has potential of appealing just as much to fans of these genres as to the casual listener.
Highly recommended to lovers of melodic music fused with modern progressive rock, call it Neo Prog / Crossover if you want. It's just a captivating piece of music.

1. Welcome the Bright Skies
2. The Autotelic Self
3. Your Life
4. This Fragile Existence
5. The Tower
6. Shining
7. Ocean Mind (Part I, II, III)

Fredrik Larsson - vocals, guitars, keyboards, mandolin, bass, synths
Louis Abramson - drums, percussion



AIRBORNE - Airborne [Rock Candy remaster] (2013)

AIRBORNE - Airborne [Rock Candy remaster] (2013) full


Requested too many times to be featured on this blog, here it is the Rock Candy remastering of one of the best Pomp AOR albums / bands of all time: AIRBORNE.
Anyone who has any knowledge of key artists in the seminal AOR movement of the late '70s not only recognize the name, but more than likely heap endless praise upon the band.
With a lineup whose pedigree was as impressive prior to 1979 as it was in subsequent years, Airborne was the archetypal Arena Rock band of its era and a band who mysteriously were met with general indifference during their brief period of activity.

Assembled by future mega producer Beau Hill (Ratt, Winger, Warrant), and signed to Columbia Records, this highly gifted five piece act recorded their self-titled debut album under the superior production guidance of Keith Olsen (Fleetwood Mac, Rick Springfield, Sammy Hagar), in Los Angeles and London (AIR studios) resulting in one of the era’s most compelling and streamlined records.

Comparable with the best work of Touch, Styx, Foreigner, Shooting Star and why not Giuffria's Angel, the accent was on lovingly constructed songs underpinned with meaty guitar riffs and exquisitely crafted vocals, layered to perfection.
Originally issued in 1979, the album attracted a slew of favourable reviews but just when things were looking to take off, including a proposed tour with the Cars, the President of Columbia Records jumped ship leaving the band high and dry with the new regime deeming Airborne as yesterday’s news.

AIRBORNE - Airborne [Rock Candy remaster] (2013) back cover

"Airborne" is an astounding collection of slick and energetic AOR which seethes with power from the onset and never lets up until the very end. Airborne were unique because they had multiple lead vocalists and wrote timeless material that simply transcended the era from which they sprang.
As you would expect, with Beau Hill involved, production was ahead of its time, warmly enhanced on this Rock Candy remaster.
A Classic.

01 - The Lady Knows Best
02 - Feel Like Lovin'
03 - Ghost of Love
04 - Wastin' My Time
05 - No Exception To The Rule
06 - Soldier of fortune
07 - That's Where My Love Goes
08 - Life In The City
09 - Stand Up
10 - Optimystical

Beau Hill - vocals, guitar, keyboards
Larry Stewart - vocals, guitars
David Zychek - guitars, vocals
John Pierce - bass
Mike Baird - drums
thanks to Moonwalker for the submission



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