Tuesday, March 31, 2015

THE DARKER MY HORIZON - Acquiesce (2015)

THE DARKER MY HORIZON - Acquiesce (2015) full


THE DARKER MY HORIZON may be a new band from UK, but the guys involved are not newcomers at all into the scene: vocalist/guitarist Paul Stead and Mark Stephenson (guitar) are former members of the now disbanded Sacred Heart, the very good act already presented at 0dayrox years ago.
Add to the line-up former Crimes Of Passion bassist Simon Fearn and experienced drummer Gavin Tester, and you have a combo of seasoned musicians here.
"Acquiesce" is the debut CD from The Darker My Horizon, a very welcomed band to the Melodic Hard Rock world.

One thing that is apparent with The Darker My Horizon is that although main songwriter Paul Stead has kept the melodic side of Sacred Heart, there is a distinctive edge to most to the songs on here.
Drawing their influences from modern arena bands like Hinder and classic hard rock artists such as Warrant or Bon Jovi, The Darker My Horizon bring you melody, power & catchy choruses.

THE DARKER MY HORIZON - Acquiesce (2015) inside

You can hear a modern approach on some tracks, like the get up and go riffery of "Can't Stop The Rain", but most the material here waters from early '90s melodic hard rock.
Just check the instant, straight ahead melodic rock of "Summer Time" (title says it all) with a wonderful uplifting chorus perfect for airplay. Or "OK", a fun rocker with some Waltham on its infectious chorus.
There is even some classic '80s party rock in the shape of "Perfect", think Warrant meets the rocking side of early Winger!
Seriously, Paul Stead's vocals will remind you several times the late Jani Lane (Warrant).

"Rest In Peace" is an interesting one, with a synth arrangement and a catchy beat underpinning the song and a high end vocal. May surprise some listeners but adds more variation to the album with its coolness. The instrumental part melds synths and a few guitar solos to great effect.
The harder edge of The Darker My Horizon shows on "Gasoline & Opium" (loving the Zakk Wylde approved riff on this one), the sharp riffs of "There’s Gotta Be" - where melody meets hard rock resulting in a powerful melodic hard rock tune.

Then "The Road" is a clever song, starting quietly with a bass, percussion and synth before the full band kicks on the chorus. One of the album’s guitar solo highlights on this song.
There are a couple of ballads, pick of them is "In The Dark", with a reflective lyric and where the piano adds to the overall feel of the song.

THE DARKER MY HORIZON - Acquiesce (2015) cd photo

After seeing the name The Darker My Horizon on the CD cover I was expecting a 'metallic' band from this new venture by Paul Stead / Mark Stephenson, instead on their debut "Acquiesce" I found a powerful, kicking Melodic Hard Rock album.
Taking inspiration from bands which made the genre big at their time but with a potent & vibrant modern production, "Acquiesce" results damn catchy and melodic, plenty of substance.
If acts like 7th Heaven, Waltham, Degreed, Find Me, the great Dion Bayman, etc - that is bands with a strong late '80s / early '90 influences but a modern sound - are your thing, then The Darker My Horizon are right up your alley.

01 - Closure
02 - Can't Stop the Rain
03 - Ok
04 - Summer Time
05 - Paradise
06 - There's Gotta Be
07 - I Can't Save You
08 - Such Is Life
09 - Perfect
10 - Gasoline & Opium
11 - The Road
12 - Afraid
13 - In the Dark
14 - Beware the Wolf
15 - Rest in Peace

Paul Stead - lead vocals, guitar
Mark Stephenson - guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
Simon Fearn - bass, backing vocals
Gavin Tester - drums, backing vocals



SCOTT WEILAND and the WILDABOUTS - Blaster (2015)

SCOTT WEILAND and the WILDABOUTS - Blaster (2015) full


Although blessed with a long and successful career fronting mega bands like Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, it can seem that Scott Weiland's extra-curricular activities have somewhat overshadowed his musical contributions but it cannot be denied that there is a reason for his longevity and popularity (44 million albums sold so far).
2015, he is back with SCOTT WEILAND and the WILDABOUTS, and their debut CD "Blaster" released yesterday.

With a varied collection of solo efforts under his belt already, Weiland wanted a 'real band sound' and formed The Wildabouts, aiming to obtain, described by the man himself, a 'rocking... sexy... furry' output.
There is no doubt that "Blaster" stylistically fits into the works of Stone Temple Pilots but it has added fuzz and a dirty retro sound that conjures images of beautiful people in packed clubs getting hot and steamy.
I think 'glam' is the best word to paint Weiland & The Wildabouts sound: Stone Temple Pilots blended with a quite rocking retro glam style.

SCOTT WEILAND and the WILDABOUTS - Blaster (2015) inside

The funked up envelope filter riff of 'Modzilla' and 'Way She Moves' set the tone for "Blaster", dirty riffs coupled with sweet backing vocals and Weiland's unmistakable voice taking the reins.
'Amethyst' starts with a dreamy intro morphing into a driving rocker that features a cool echo-drenched guitar solo courtesy of Jeremy Brown. He and the other Wildabouts, bassist Tommy Black and drummer Danny Thompson keep things tight but free enough to put groove in these tunes, and producer Rick Parker (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) captures the energy and emotion well.
In fact, The Wildabouts sound great, tight, and grand part the reason these songs sound so nicely.

The songwriting is pretty strong and even at its prettiest Weiland's pop nous keeps it on the right side of sweet for 'Blue Eyes' and only dips into the saccharin once on 'Beach Pop'.
The mentioned glam influence is present on the cover of T. Rex's '20th Century Boy', and the more modern sounding 'White Lightning', one of the best tracks on the album for me.

SCOTT WEILAND and the WILDABOUTS - Blaster (2015) back cover

As alluded to by the cover art of a retro boombox, "Blaster" is a record that rocks pretty good, combining STP melodies with a clear nod to Seventies glam. If you liked Scott Weiland 'sober' era, this one does not disappoints.

In a macabre twist of fate, "Blaster" will be remembered in years to come by a sad event: The Wildabouts' guitarist Jeremy Brown passed away yesterday - the day the band's debut album "Blaster" was released. R.I.P.

01 - Modzilla
02 - Way She Moves
03 - Hotel Rio
04 - Amethyst
05 - White Lightning
06 - Blue Eyes
07 - Bleed Out
08 - Youth Quake
09 - Beach Pop
10 - Parachute
11 - 20Th Century Boy
12 - Circles

Scott Weiland - vocals
Jeremy Brown - guitars (RIP)
Tommy Black - bass
Danny Thompson - drums



GLASS HAMMER - The Breaking Of The World (2015)

GLASS HAMMER - The Breaking Of The World (2015) full


American progressive scene may be little dwarfed these days, but there's a staple always carrying the flag for the genre at its maximum quality: GLASS HAMMER. Their new CD "The Breaking Of The World" released today, March 31, it's not only the band's best work of their career, but also their most progressive album thus far.

Commanded by co-founders Steve Babb and Fred Schendel and now with singer Carl Groves confirmed as frontman, "The Breaking Of The World" sees Glass Hammer stronger than ever.
Album number fifteen in their discography, this is not 'just another Glass Hammer album'. "The Breaking Of The World" is so progressive, that it probably goes beyond progressive rock. It’s not genre-less, but it is probably genre-creating or, at the very least, genre transformational.
Glass Hammer has never shunned or forsaken its loyalties, and one always hears a bit of their loves and admirations in their music; sometimes it’s Yes, sometimes Genesis, sometimes Kansas, and sometimes, ELP.
But, it's always, also, distinctively Glass Hammer, wonderfully Schendel and Babb.

It’s worth pondering the sheer amount of talent Babb and Schendel have gathered around Glass Hammer and their two-decade plus project. Of course, Babb is one of the best bassists alive, topping Chris Squire and equaling Geddy Lee, and Schendel can plays the keys as well and, frankly, far more tastefully than the standard bearer of prog, Wakeman.
Then, add in Aaron Raulston, one brilliant pounder of skins. And, with Raulston and Babb, you have the single best rhythm section alive. Guitarist Kamran Alan Shikoh plays with mighty innovation and verve. Groves gives everything he has in his singing, presenting melodies in a divine fashion.
For this new record, Babb and Schendel have also brought in Michele Lynn to contribute on vocals and Steve Unruh to play violin and flute. Each adds considerably to what is already an incredible album.

GLASS HAMMER - The Breaking Of The World (2015) inside

The album begins with a re-working of J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1931 poem, “Mythopoeia” surrounded by a very melodic music arrangement in classic Glass Hammer fashion, bright and even a little poppy, followed by “Third Floor”, which is equal parts serious intensity and playfully quirky prog.
“Babylon,” the third track, has a Neil Peart-quality in the lyrics, a righteous anger against those who wield a falsely righteous anger. Musically it's mysterious and with an incredible keyboard solo in the middle.
Melancholic and slow, “Sand” showcases Carl Groves' velvety vocals with pianos, various keyboards, lovely drums and a subtle guitar work.

“Bandwagon,” is the most traditionally progressive of the songs, on one of the more rocking; pounding, energetic, and hyper, it presents the perfect counterpoint to “Sand”.
“Haunted” is written by guitarist Shikoh, while Babb pens the lyrics. Babb, an accomplished and published poet, offers his best verse here. Musically, it's a progressive gem varied and captivating.
Penultimate track, “North Wind” is a lush composition driven by bass and keyboards, alternating uptempo / midtempo passages and the addition of female vocal parts, while “Nothing Everything” delivers pure classy prog with a terrific instrument interplay in a Yes style, but sounding million times better than anything Yes have produced in the last twenty years.

GLASS HAMMER - The Breaking Of The World (2015) back

Glass Hammer is one of these rare beast of a band that gets better and better with each release, but I think they have reached their climax with "The Breaking Of The World".
This album is very close to the 'progressive masterpiece' denomination, it's vital, melodic, complex yet never, never hard to digest or boring. The cover art is as gorgeous as the music, exquisitely produced by Schendel and Babb themselves
"The Breaking Of The World" is everything progressive rock should be, and more. A strong candidate for 'best prog of the year'.

01. Mythopoeia
02. Third Floor
03. Babylon
04. A Bird When it Sneezes
05. Sand
06. Bandwagon
07. Haunted
08. North Wind
09. Nothing, Everything

Steve Babb - bass, keyboards, backing vocals
Fred Schendel - keyboards, guitars, backing vocals
Carl Groves - lead vocals
Kamran Alan Shikoh - guitars, electric sitar
Aaron Raulston - drums
Susie Bogdanowicz - lead and backing vocals
Steve Unruh - violin, flute
Michele Lynn - backing vocals



Monday, March 30, 2015

VAN HALEN - 1984 (30th Anniversary Edition) Remastered 2015

VAN HALEN - 1984 (30th Anniversary Edition) Remastered 2015 full


As announced on occasion of VAN HALEN's post here about their first-ever live album to feature original singer David Lee Roth, Tokyo Dome In Concert, Van Halen's first six albums have been freshly Remastered directly from the Analog Master Recordings by Chris Bellman, cut straight from the quarter-inch tapes.
Tomorrow, March 31, Van Halen first self-titled and this, the ground-breaking "1984" will be available at stores.

Wow, you gotta listen this 2015 Remaster by Chris Bellman.
It's simply awesome, and blows out of the water the now outdated 2000's remaster.
"Panama" just... explodes out of your speakers!

VAN HALEN - 1984 (30th Anniversary Edition) Remastered 2015 booklet

"1984" was the band's biggest selling album, with over 12 million copies sold in the U.S. alone, spawning Van Halen's first and only No. 1 Billboard single, "Jump".
It also scored Top 15 hits "Panama" and "I'll Wait", plus the MTV classic "Hot For Teacher", and launched the band on its most ambitious tour, after being the highest-paid band ever for their 1983 US Festival performance. Creatively, the album was a major leap forward, with the band taking charge of all the music and dictating terms of the recording.
Well, just blah, blah, you already know the story.

VAN HALEN - 1984 (30th Anniversary Edition) Remastered 2015 back

Van Halen's "1984 (30th Anniversary Edition)" remastered 2015 is a must have.
It will be released on 180-gram vinyl too, but this CD edition just do the trick, you'll seriously re-discover this great album. The artwork features a complete reproduction of the original release, even the CD ink press.
ESSENTIAL in your collection.

01 - 1984
02 - Jump
03 - Panama
04 - Top Jimmy
05 - Drop Dead Legs
06 - Hot for Teacher
07 - I'll Wait
08 - Girl Gone Bad
09 - House of Pain

Eddie Van Halen - guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
David Lee Roth - lead vocals
Alex Van Halen - drums, percussion
Michael Anthony - bass guitar, backing vocals
Remastered by Chris Bellman 2015



THE GENTLE STORM - The Diary [Special Edition] (2015)

THE GENTLE STORM - The Diary [Special Edition] (2015) full


The Dutch pair of renowned composer / multi-instrumentalist Arjen Lucassen and vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen have worked together several times over the last fifteen years, but now both are fully involved into a fantastic project called THE GENTLE STORM, and "The Diary" is the fruit of their accomplished talents.

As you might expect from a Lucassen project, the album is conceptual and the music, grand and immense.
"The Diary" is a love story set in the 17th century, with Arjen Lucassen composing, arranging and playing the music while the story / lyrics all coming from Anneke Van Giersbergen - former Gathering vocalist and last seen on Devin Townsend’s excellent 'Z2' album.
But you can enjoy the tracks separately, as despite part of the tale, all are build as a 'song' around the 5 minute length.

THE GENTLE STORM - The Diary [Special Edition] (2015) inside

"The Diary" is also split into 2 CD's, where the 'Gentle' disc which sees all the songs done using primarily orchestral instruments, including a real double bass, piano, acoustic guitar and more.
Disc 2 is 'Storm', which are the same songs produced in a style much more akin to the most recent Ayreon record in tone: electric instruments, progressive, occasionally cresting into metal, all with different arrangements. Additionally, long term Ayreon drummer Ed Warby is involved, however even the symphonic rock / metal takes a different musical style than Ayreon / Star One albums.

THE GENTLE STORM - The Diary [Special Edition] (2015) back cover

Both versions are truly enjoyable, with 'Gentle' more recommended to traditional prog listeners, while the bombastic "Storm" to more 'rocking' aficionados.
Overall, ‘Gentle Disc’ has the ability to lift both the melodies and Van Geirsbergen's voice, while 'Storm' showcase Lucassen's genius on the instruments.
Highlights are many, although the ‘Storm’ version of "Heart Of Amsterdam" is simply superb and would be a hit single if there was any justice in the musical world.
Elsewhere the traditional feel of "Shores Of India" and the gentle version of "Endless Sea" are stand outs in this very strong album.

THE GENTLE STORM - The Diary [Special Edition] (2015) cd photo

Lucassen / Van Geirsbergen association in "The Gentle Storm" resulted in a great success.
The combination of Anneke’s terrific vocals ranging from rock&pop / metal to a progressive diva with Arjen's capacity to create always interesting, captivating arrangements, work like a charm in "The Diary".
With these two you know it will be worth your while having in your collection. A different musical diversion for both of them and the good news is a second album is promised.
You must listen both CD's, "Gentle" & "Storm", because both are completely different records, both embedded with Arjen Lucassen ubiquitous talents.
Highly Recommended.

CD1 - Gentle:
01 Endless Sea (gentle version)
02 Heart of Amsterdam (gentle version)
03 The Greatest Love (gentle version)
04 Shores of India (gentle version)
05 Cape of Storms (gentle version)
06 The Moment (gentle version)
07 The Storm (gentle version)
08 Eyes of Michiel (gentle version)
09 Brightest Light (gentle version)
10 New Horizons (gentle version)
11 Epilogue: The Final Entry (gentle version)

CD2 - Storm:
01 Endless Sea (storm version)
02 Heart of Amsterdam (storm version)
03 The Greatest Love (storm version)
04 Shores of India (storm version)
05 Cape of Storms (storm version)
06 The Moment (storm version)
07 The Storm (storm version)
08 Eyes of Michiel (storm version)
09 Brightest Light (storm version)
10 New Horizons (storm version)
11 Epilogue: The Final Entry (storm version)

Anneke van Giersbergen - lead vocals
Arjen Anthony Lucassen - guitars, keyboards, percussion, vocals, hammered dulcimer
additional musicians:
Ed Warby (Ayreon) - drums
Johan van Stratum (Stream of Passion) - bass
Hinse Mutter - double bass
Rob Snijders (Agua de Annique) - percussion
Joost van den Broek (Star One) - piano
Marcela Bovio (Stream of Passion) - background vocals
Timo Somers (Delain, Vengeance) - guitar solo on 2
Ben Mathot - violin
Maaike Peterse - cello
Jenneke de Jonge - French horn
Jeroen Goossens - wind instruments
Jack Pisters - sitar and coral
Michael Mills - Irish bouzouki
Remco Helbers - surbahar
Nathanael van Zuilen - tabla
"Epic Rock Choir" - choir



ILIUM - My Misanthropia (2015)

ILIUM - My Misanthropia (2015) full


Australian ILIUM are not the biggest name in the business but they have established quite a good reputation for themselves in the metal community since their formation in 1998 and through their entire discography.
I liked their previous album appeared four years ago with Mike DiMeo (Masterplan) at the mic, and now Ilium returns with their 6th offer “My Misanthropia” featuring a new vocalist, the excellent American Lance King (ex-Balance of Power, ex-Empire).
This is more than a small change as King is an exceptional singer with natural melodic expression and fine range.

Indeed, “My Misanthropia” marks a radical change in Ilium's musical approach; now their blend of melodic heavy and power metal with a strong emphasis on the guitar presence is 'clean' and pristine like never before. It's that kind of clinical, precise recording where every instrument come bright and audible.
Not only is the production level a huge step up, but they've matured immensely as musicians and of course the addition of Lance King's melodic pipes (he is truly great) allow more variety in their sound.

Each track on “My Misanthropia” is highly performed with true heavy sensation and pluralism, including all factors that guarantee maximum listening pleasure.
The album includes tracks could be described as metal anthems, like the dark and melancholic "The Hatchling", or “Orbiting A Sun Of Sadness” with its Scorpions-ish attitude.
"Yuletide Ebbs" is another exceptional full-throttle metal roar with some superbly inventive guitar work and the outstanding vocal prowess. The melodic solos on each song are a treat as well.

Thanks to the vocal style of Lance King - if you are new to him, think James La Brie with more power - and the busy instrumentation on tracks like the fast paced "Penny Black", the sublime "Godless Theocracies" and the vicious "Zenith To Zero" are quite similar to early Queensryche.
However the title track show a different-sounding delivery from Lance, more aggressive and less dramatic than his usual tradition, still happily ever present in songs like "Lingua Franca".

Killer riffing, blazing lead guitar solos, rock solid rhythms and beds of orchestral keyboards adorn many of these songs, with the closer "The Cryptozoologist" being one of the more adventurous of the lot, an action packed tune with plenty of guitar & keyboard exchanges, sounding like a head-on collision between Dream Theater and Dio.
All of the tracks contain memorable melodies to go along with their musical might, so it's a great combination from start to finish that ultimately results in a very enjoyable album.

ILIUM - My Misanthropia (2015) inside

“My Misanthropia” is a charming, integrated metal album combining strength with melody, which thanks to fine songwriting, skillful guitar work and Lance King's superb melodic vocals puts Ilium back into strong and entertaining melodic metal territory.
King sounds darn good as ever, notably because he has a natural knack at following the melody and rhythm of any song here.
The production is another advantage to the album. The clearness and snap of the instruments is essential to making the album as powerful as it can feel.
“My Misanthropia” is one of those albums that will appeal to people of all metal tastes. Anyone who's a fan of traditional riffs and classy, powerful yet clean vocals need to check this 'new' Ilium.
Very Recommended.

01 - My Misanthropia
02 - Quetzalcoatl
03 - Penny Black
04 - Linqua Franca
05 - Godless Theocracies
06 - The Hatchling
07 - Orbiting a Sun of Sadness
08 - Zenith to Zero
09 - Yuletide Ebbs
10 - The Cryptozoologist

Lance King - Lead Vocals
Jason Hodges - Guitars
Adam Smith - Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Drums



Sunday, March 29, 2015

THE TOI - Water Into Wine (2015)

THE TOI - Water Into Wine (2015) full


Stating influences from all the massive '80s rock&pop bands, Glaswegian three piece rock band THE TOI are presenting their debut "Water Into Wine". Also mentioning classic hard rock as musical formation, The Toi may not want to admit it, but they've recorded a cracking Melodic Rock album on "Water Into Wine" - that takes you back to the late 80s in great style.

Singer Pol Healy, who also plays guitar, has a pleasing, varied attack bringing everything from Kevin Cronin (REO Speedwagon), Michael Eden (ex-Eden's Curse) and Stephen Pearcy (Ratt) to the table. It's a strut and pout attack from the frontman, and yet there's way more substance than that suggests going on here.
His guitar riffs screech and wail like an '80s hair metal act whilst they grind into hard rock territory, given the chance. Andy Carr delivers meaty bass lines coupled with Stevie “Dog” McLay on drums to provide a tight rhythm section that has your foot tapping before you realise it.

THE TOI - Water Into Wine (2015) inside

For The Toi know their way about a melody, certainly ain't shy at throwing out hooks and if there's a chorus to sing along to, then these guys are all over it.
"Get On It" which remind me a lot of fellow Scots rockers Estrella, the catchy "Come Alive" with its arena rock sound ala Bon Jovi, or "Staring At The Sun" are the sort of songs where you subconsciously find yourself mouthing the words right from the first run through and while the ethos behind them may be a few decades old - the results lying somewhere between Girl (the band) and White Lion - the album itself sounds refreshingly current.
I love "Till The Morning Comes", where the band mix hard rock with a strong pop hook filled chorus, and they have fine ballads with "Down By The River" and the very '80s Bon Jovi "Cold in the Night", one of the best cuts on the CD.

The Toi may be awfully named (it comes from a Glasgow expression for a gang) and the album art ain't up to much either, but "Water Into Wine" is a fantastic Melodic Rock recording.
Full of big choruses, catchy hooks and great rhythms, it’s a CD which sounds as good one the tenth listen as it does on the first.
There has to be something great about an album that sounds like the perfect backdrop to cruising California’s highways in a convertible with the summer sun beating down. Especially when the band in question are from Glasgow...

The album had a low key release back at the end of 2013 and now it gets a full re-release, and rightly so.
The clarity of sound across the whole "Water Into Wine" is a pleasant surprise too. However with Nick Brine, (who has produced Oasis) behind the desk, maybe that's not such a surprise. Add in Dan Hawkins (The Darkness) helping them out with the arrangements and it would be easy to suggest that these lads have had help augmenting what they're about, yet while that can't have exactly hindered The Toi, ultimately it's their songs and performances which stand tall and proud on this debut effort.

The Toi are well placed to ride on the back of the current upsurge in young bands with a Melodic Rock sound like H.E.A.T, Estrella, Santa Cruz et al. This is a very assured debut album with the band sure to get more attention over the coming months and years.

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrox

01 - Get On It
02 - Come Alive
03 - I'm Still Crying
04 - Til The Morning Comes
05 - The One
06 - Staring At The Sun
07 - I Think About You
08 - Water Into Wine
09 - Cold In The Night
10 - Down By The River

Paul Healy - lead vocals, guitars
Andy Carr - bass, vocals
Stevie Mclay - drums, vocals



STEVE HACKETT - Wolflight (2015)

STEVE HACKETT - Wolflight (2015) full


STEVE HACKETT has spent the last few years carrying the Genesis torch across the globe, seemingly reminding anyone who may gave forgotten that he had a lot to do with the much heralded Genesis '70s period. But never wanting to stay the same for too long, Hackett continues to explore new territory both physically and musically, as is evident on his new album "Wolflight" to be released tomorrow, creating one of the most inspired albums of his career.

Since his split from Genesis in the late ‘70s, Hackett has put together a body of work that, with the odd minor caveat, has cemented his place in the pantheon of rock guitarists as one of the very best, and amongst progressive rock aficionados as the pre-eminent player of his generation.
"Wolflight" demonstrates that despite nearly fifty years in music he is still capable of producing a contemporary progressive rock masterpiece that both thrills and intrigues in equal measure.

From the opening of “Out of the Body” the cinematic mood is set. Hackett kicks off with a hard rocking track adding his signature lead tone that is immediately recognizable. There is always a heavy orchestral element to his albums and this one is no different. Here, the string accompaniment gives the song an urgency that is a new twist for a lead off track on a Hackettt album.

STEVE HACKETT - Wolflight (2015) inside

This opener is a short one that acts more as an intro to the title track, “Wolflight”, one of the most Genesis-like songs he has ever produced. There's classical guitar and Hackett’s vocal harmonies compliment the music brilliantly. As he is known to often do, Hackett shifts the music from quiet and subdued to haunting and agressive throughout the piece. Certainly a highlight on the album.
Both tracks gives a foretaste of the banquet to come. And it’s some banquet.

From the middle-eastern vibes of the superb instrumental "Dust And Dreams" with its dominant, insistent bass line, to the pastoral acoustics of "Earthshine" and "Heart Song", and from the childhood memories of "The Wheel’s Turning" with driving strings, acoustic guitars and harmonies recalling the Electric Light Orchestra to the relationship breakdown of "Love Song To A Vampire" the quality just keeps coming.
The latter is one of the strongest songs on the set and one that really only Steve Hackett could pull off. It combines the influence of flamenco guitar with an epic Prog Rock chorus complete with soaring background vocals. The contrast of these elements explodes from the speakers. Just as the song seems to be ending naturally, again he throws in a left turn by adding a total rock riff to close out the song. Truly inspired.

The anthemic "Corycian Fire" with its ever-changing rhythms and tempos is a standout, as is Steve’s take on the fight for the freedom of slaves in the deep south of the USA on "Black Thunder", showing Hackett’s rocking bluesy side.
And running through all this brilliance is Hackett’s stunning guitar work, both electric and acoustic. Has he ever played better? I don't think so.

STEVE HACKETT - Wolflight (2015) cd photo

Steve Hackett’s star is definitely in the ascendancy. "Wolflight" must be one of the strongest albums from his prolific career and is undoubtedly his most varied, instrumentally dazzling and evocative work for many years.
As usual, with the likes of Nick Beggs, Rob Townsend and Roger King he has surrounded himself with some of the finest musicians around, and the addition of a full orchestra, used in a powerful and innovative way, is the icing on the cake.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Out of the Body
02 - Wolflight
03 - Love Song To a Vampire
04 - The Wheel's Turning
05 - Corycian Fire
06 - Earthshine
07 - Loving Sea
08 - Black Thunder
09 - Dust and Dreams
10 - Heart Song

Steve Hackett - guitars, Arabian lute, twelve string, lead vocals
Roger King - keyboards, programming
Gary O'Toole - drums
Rob Townsend - sax, duduk
Nick Beggs - bass, stick
Amanda Lehmann - harmony vocals
Malik Mansurov - tar
Sara Kovaсs - didgeridoo
Chris Squire (Yes) - bass on 3
Hugo Dagenhardt - drums on 9



THE QUIREBOYS - St. Cecilia And The Gypsy Soul [Box Set] (2015)

THE QUIREBOYS - St. Cecilia And The Gypsy Soul [Box Set] (2015) full


THE QUIREBOYS will release their 9th album, "St. Cecilia And The Gypsy Soul", tomorrow March 30 and it comes in a 4-CD Box Set.
Inspired by the success of 2009's critically acclaimed acoustic album "Halfpenny Dancer" (out of print), the band entered Swedish Lemon Studios fully intending to create something with that atmosphere. However, an Aladdin's Cave of intriguing instruments and eerie samples inspired The Quireboys to push the boundaries and shift the focus.
"The plan was always to record some new acoustic songs and rework some originals," says Spike. "But the plan changed. There was something about that place — the vibe got better and better and we just went with the flow."

The Quireboys flew home with 10 new songs and a brand new sound. "St. Cecilia And The Gypsy Soul" the result, packaged alongside "Halfpenny Dancer" — finally available again — and two discs covering the previously unreleased 2010 "Halfpenny Dancer" live show featuring fiddles, pedal steel, mandolin, banjo and more.
"This side of the band needs to heard," added Spike. "And we'll be taking the new music out on the road with our most intimate tour yet."

Well let's start with CD 1, the main "St. Cecilia And The Gypsy Soul". It's exactly how a Quireboys album should be. It’s succinct. No song and indeed, the album as a whole, outstays its welcome.
The Quireboys are one of the few bands who don't need to deviate from their blueprint of constructing a song and every time produces something that’s fresh and unmistakeably theirs.
Album opener “Gracie B” is hauntingly dark with the inimitable swagger which infuses many of their previous songs. There’s a hint of venom and anger punctuating the lyrics. However, it is the band dropped a couple of gears as opposed to their raucous selves.

THE QUIREBOYS - St. Cecilia And The Gypsy Soul [Box Set] (2015) booklet

Meanwhile with songs like “Land of my Father” and “St. Cecilia”, it’s the Quireboys doing what no other band quite manages: good time rock and roll. Just the introduction to the former will produce a manic grin and you’ll be moving to the melody before you realise it.
However, much of the album has a laid-back attitude with only a few upbeat numbers. While the band does stick to their rootsy, self-styled gypsy rock and roll, this brings something fresh to the table and is a welcome change. Ballads or heavier songs, the band have always flourished in both areas.
Spike’s voice, as always, is on top form. Potentially better than it was thirty years ago and aging far better than others. Growling and yelping, you can’t help but picture his infectious grin. It speaks volumes to the infectious nature of these songs and how well they’re written that just after a couple of listens, you’ll be singing with Spike, word for word.

Given the majority of the line-up hasn’t altered in years, it’s great to have Dave McCluskey and Nick Mailing return, possibly the best rhythm section the Quireboys have had. With its stripped back sound, drums and bass are less prominent than other works but the pair manage some incredible moments like “Adaline” and it’s the sound of a well oiled machine.
Guy Griffin and Paul Guerin are on fine form too, their guitars weaving around each other effortlessly, a sign of their enduring work together. Guerin also slips in moments of mandolin and lap steel, bringing more diversity and works them into the melody of the songs where they don’t feel unwelcome.
Keyboard maestro Keith Weir flexes his muscles, driving most of the songs and appearing prominently in most of the songs, fleshing them out instead of hanging in the background.

"Halfpenny Dancer" is a very nice addition to this release, a warm acoustic studio recording with lots of feeling.
Much of it will be familiar to fans, with some of their better known songs given a fresh interpretation. If you’re a fan, you may already have Halfpenny Dancer but if not, it’s a welcome addition to your collection, breathing new life into old favourites.
Also in the package is "Halfpenny Live, containing many of the songs from Halfpenny Dancer whilst adding in some of their best-known songs and deep cuts such as “Hates to Please” and performed to an audience.

THE QUIREBOYS - St. Cecilia And The Gypsy Soul [Box Set] (2015) cd photo

"St. Cecilia and the Gypsy Soul" is The Quireboys on unmistakeable fine form.
Listening the new record, the previous acoustic CD, and the live show, you got the feeling that the band, like a fine wine - and a literary cliché - is getting better with age. Like so much on the previous album, many of these tracks are good enough to be radio hits if someone would only give them airplay.
Quite Recommended.

CD1 - St. Cecilia And The Gypsy Soul:
01. Gracie B
02. Land Of My Father
03. St Cecilia
04. The Promise
05. Can’t Hide It Anymore
06. Out Of Your Mind
07. The Hurting Kind
08. Adaline
09. The Best Are Not Forgotten
10. Why Did It Take So Long

CD2 - Halfpenny Dancer (Acoustic):
01. There She Goes Again
02. Devil Of A Man
03. Love To Love
04. Mona Lisa Smiled
05. I Can’t Stop Loving You
06. Roses & Rings
07. Baby It’s You
08. Hello
09. Pretty Girls
10. He’ll Have To Go
11. Long Time Comin’
12. Hates To Please
13. King Of New York

CD3 - Halfpenny Live (Part I):
01. There She Goes Again
02. Devil Of A Man
03. Mona Lisa Smiled
04. Love To Love
05. Roses & Rings
06. Pretty Girls
07. Can’t Stop Loving You
08. One For The Road
09. Hello

CD4 - Halfpenny Live (Part II):
01. Hates To Please
02. Long Time Comin’
03. Have A Drink With Me
04. Late Night Saturday Call
05. Misled
06. I Love This Dirty Town
07. 7 O clock
08. I Don t Love You Anymore

Spike - vocals
Guy Griffin - guitar
Paul Guerin - guitar
Keith Weir - keyboards
Nick Mailing - bass
Dave McCluskey - drums



Saturday, March 28, 2015

CONTANTE & SONANTE - Highlights And Rarities

CONTANTE & SONANTE - Highlights And Rarities full


Specialized Westcoast AOR Record label Contante & Sonante may not be very productive, but their releases are always top notch. On the blog already featured Tom Snow Original Demos some days ago, now we are presenting "CONTANTE & SONANTE - Highlights And Rarities".
"Highlights And Rarities" is a special album that showcases a collection of songs from the label past catalogue that includes the critically acclaimed 2009's Fly Away / The Songs of David Foster, Steve Dorff's magical 2004 release of Original Demos and two releases by Swiss music-maker Urs Wiesendanger, 2005's Somebody New and A Christmas Eve in LA. originally issued in 2006.

But apart from tracks from the aforementioned releases (which all, btw, are out of print now), the treat with "Highlights And Rarities" is that also presents 8 unreleased songs from the label's vaults, which come directly from those same recordings or have been especially produced for the occasion.
Among these rarities you'll find many pleasant surprises like the never before heard ballad from Steve Dorff's private archive, "My Angel's Voice," beautifully performed by the late Warren Wiebe.
"My Angel Voice" is another tender, moving performance by Mr. Wiebe that finally sees the light of day.
Additionally, "A Little Thing Called Life", "Kindred Spirit" and "Somewhere In Time" are the selected numbers from the Steve Dorff original release added to the track listing.

Urs Wiesendanger's contributions to "Highlights and Rarities" include eight tracks, four of them heard here for the first time. The previously unreleased gems are "Luckiest Man", a smooth, sultry Westcoast number featuring world-renowned guitar player Chris Camozzi, plus great vocals courtesy of the talented Skyler Jett who was a singer for The Commodores.
"When I Think of You" is an extraordinary ballad featuring great Swiss singer Rey Thomas, backed up by the incredible Robbie Buchanan on Rhodes piano. Another couple of Wiesendanger's goodies are beautiful renditions of the Christmas evergreens "Silent Night" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas". Both songs are performed by the fantastic singer and regular Weisendanger collaborator Thierry Condor.

CONTANTE & SONANTE - Highlights And Rarities - back cover

"Highlights and Rarities" presents too Bill Champlin's "In The Stone," from the Fly Away project, with an alternate-beginning version included only on the Limited Edition EP plus Arnold McCuller's refined take on "Jojo" and Ole Borud's "Through The Fire", which can only be found on the European CD release.
You have as well 3 previously unreleased numbers from the same Fly Away sessions, which remained uncompleted and have been re-arranged for this special occasion. All of them are produced and arranged by the very talented Tomi Malm.

Among these new songs, we have a haunting cover of "Forever", a ballad originally sung by Kenny Loggins who co-wrote it with Foster for Loggins' Vox Humana album. SunHo Lim, a fantastic new name from Korea, offers an outstanding vocal performance on this emotional take of the classic.
Another remarkable rarity is a stunning rendition of The Tubes' rocking classic "She's a Beauty". Malm's inventive arrangement truly brings the famous song into another dimension. Bjarne Langhoff's amazing vocal, backed by a powerful rhythm section, add fire to the tune and takes it one step higher.

And best way to end this magnificent album is a new version of the David Foster / Boz Scaggs hit "Look What You've Done To Me". This adaptation of the song that Foster considers to be one of his best ever gives the listener a new, light like the air version that features a different piano performance by Foster and also a new, wonderful lead vocal by L.A.-based singer Cecily Gardner. The song also features renowned guitar player Mitchell Long and Danish drummer Lars Daugaard.

I guarantee you that "Highlights and Rarities" isn't the typical compilation album. It's a superior release that will help you rediscover many familiar sounds from the past as well as new, fantastic secrets from Contante & Sonante's amazing world of music.
As happens with all released from the label, there was 1000 copy limited numbered edition. There's very few left in stock wordwide, so hurry up, this is a collectors item.

CONTANTE & SONANTE - Highlights And Rarities inside

Warren Wiebe - Lead Vocals
Steve Dorff - Piano, Keyboards
Produced and Arranged by Steve Dorff

Bill Cantos - Lead Vocals
Urs Wiesendanger - Keyboards, Bass, Drum Programming
Robbie Buchanan - Rhodes, Piano
Michael Landau - Electric Guitar and Solo
Thierry Condor - Background Vocals
Wolfgang Drechsler - String Arrangements
Produced and Arranged by Urs Wiesendanger

Frank Adahl - Lead Vocals
Urs Wiesendanger - Keyboards, Bass, Drum Programming
Daniel Stern - Additional Percussion, Programming
Robbie Buchanan - Rhodes
Porty - Electric Guitar and Solo
Frank Adahl - Background Vocals
Produced and Arranged by Urs Wiesendanger

Skyler Jett - Lead Vocals
Urs Wiesendanger - Keyboards, Bass, Drum Programming
Chris Camozzi - Electric Guitar
Skyler Jett - Background Vocals
Produced and Arranged by Urs Wiesendanger

Rey Thomas - Lead Vocals
Urs Wiesendanger - Keyboards, Bass, Drum Programming
Robbie Buchanan - Rhodes
Claudio Cervino - Electric Guitar
Thierry Condor, Janet Dawkins - Background Vocals
Wolfgang Drechsler - String Arrangements
Produced and Arranged by Urs Wiesendanger

Thierry Condor - Lead Vocals
Urs Wiesendanger - Keyboards
Chris Wiesendanger - Grand Piano, Bass
Daniel Stern - Drums, Percussion
Jim Duncombe - Acoustic Guitar
Bernhard Schoch - Horns
Produced and Arranged by Urs Wiesendanger

Miriam Dee - Lead Vocals
Urs Wiesendanger - Keyboards, Bass, Drum Programming
Porty - Electric Guitar and Solo
Sabina Stokes, Thierry Condor, Urs Wiesendanger - Background Vocals
Produced and Arranged by Urs Wiesendanger

Thierry Condor - Lead Vocals
Urs Wiesendanger - Keyboards, Bass, Drum Programming
Produced and Arranged by Urs Wiesendanger

Thierry Condor - Lead Vocals
Urs Wiesendanger, Gino Todesco - Keyboards, Bass, Drum Programming
Daniel Stern - Drums
Produced and Arranged by Urs Wiesendanger

Bill Champlin - Lead Vocals
Tomi Malm - Piano, Rhodes and Keyboards
Lenni-Kalle Taipale - Rhodes
John Robinson - Drums
Nathan East - Bass
Paul Jackson Jr - Electric Guitar
Janne Lehikoinen - Electric Guitar
Peter Friestedt - Electric Guitar
Michito Sanchez - Percussion
Frank Adahl, Bill Champlin, Lisa Lavie, Tomi Malm, Gabriel Raya, Rafa Hernandez and Eli Hernandez - Background Vocals
Horns arranged by Jan Glaesel and performed by the Danish All Star Horns
Produced and Arranged by Tomi Malm

14. JOJO
Arnold McCuller - Lead Vocals
Tomi Malm - Piano and Keyboards
Aidan Zammit - Rhodes
John Robinson - Drums
Neil Stubenhaus - Bass
Paul Jackson Jr - Electric Guitar
Jan Glaesel - Flugelhorn Solo
Arnold McCuller, Bill Cantos and Joaquin Gonzalez - Background Vocals
Horns arranged by Jan Glaesel and performed by the Danish All Star Horns
Produced and Arranged by Tomi Malm

Ole Borud - Lead Vocals
Tomi Malm - Piano, Keyboards and Bass
John Robinson - Drums
Michael Landau - Electric Guitar
Dan Warner - Electric and Acoustic Guitars
Joe Pizzulo and Bjarne Langhoff - Background Vocals
Produced and Arranged by Tomi Malm

SunHo Lim - Lead Vocals
Tomi Malm - Piano, Keyboards, Bass
Porty - Electric Guitar
Gabriel Raya - Acoustic Guitar
SunHo Lim, Tomi Malm - Background Vocals
Produced and Arranged by Tomi Malm

Bjarne Langhoff - Lead Vocals
Tomi Malm - Piano, Keyboards
Lars Daugaard - Drums, Percussion
Antoni de Haro - Bass
Michael Landau - Electric Guitar
Porty, Tomi Malm - Electric Guitar
Gabriel Raya, Tomi Malm - Acoustic Guitar
Porty - Guitar Solo
Bjarne Langhoff - Background Vocals
Produced and Arranged by Tomi Malm

Cecily Gardner - Lead Vocals
David Foster - Piano
Tomi Malm - Keyboards, Bass
Lars Daugaard - Drums, Percussion
Mitchell Long - Nylon Guitar
Produced and Arranged by Tomi Malm

Tracks 1, 2 & 3 from Steve Dorff "Original Demos" (2004)
Tracks 5 & 6 from Urs "Somebody New" (2005)
Tracks 9 & 10 from "A Christmas Eve in L.A." (2006)
Tracks 13, 14 & 15 from "Fly Away: The Songs of David Foster" (2009)

Try Here:


ROBBEN FORD - Into The Sun (2015)

ROBBEN FORD - Into The Sun (2015) full


On March 31 guitar master ROBBEN FORD will release his new album "Into The Sun" via the Mascot Label Group. The CD it's another proof of Ford's skillful songwriting as well as his extraordinary playing, enhanced by guest appearances by vocalist ZZ Ward & Keb' Mo', and fellow guitar virtuosos Warren Haynes, Sonny Landreth, Robert Randolph and Tyler Bryant.

If you never heard Robben Ford, you are missing something important in contemporary Rock. The man has played with everyone, has an impressive solo career and transited all musical styles.
Ford has over 35 albums under his own name or with bands and has played in concert / albums with Bonnie Raitt, Kiss, Rick Springfield, Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald or Marc Jordan just to name few. He is a five-time Grammy nominee as well.

For this new record, Ford concentrates in Classic Rock, but not your ordinary Classic Rock, this baby oozes class from every corner.
Although Ford’s recent releases have been hailed as returns to his musical roots — which go back to his discovery of blues as a teenager – "Into The Sun" is a clear departure, using tradition as a springboard to incorporate his timeless vocabulary of classic rock, pop and blues into a modern framework for his poetic lyrics and the most graceful, emotionally nuanced and melodic vocal performances of his career.

ROBBEN FORD - Into The Sun (2015) inside

The album features a coterie of guests: gritty guitar rock newcomer Tyler Bryant on “Stone Cold Heaven,” Allman Brothers guitarist and Gov’t Mule frontman Warren Haynes on “High Heels And Throwing Things,” slide guitar guru Sonny Landreth on “So Long 4 U,” blues icon Keb’ Mo’ and pedal steel wizard Robert Randolph on “Justified,” and vocal sensation ZZ Ward on “Breath Of Me."
Niko Bolas, whose credits include John Mayer and Keith Richards, engineered.

The opening track, "Rose of Sharon", lulls you into thinking this is going to be a very laid-back album. From the first melancholic chords, the guitar seems to be telling a story of lost love, backed up by the incessant drumbeat that gives the impression of someone trudging slowly away.
Follower "Day of the Planets", by contrast, finds Robben in a much more upbeat mood, which carries on through much of the rest of the album. The riff is extremely catchy and jumpin'.
Normally when you listen to an album, you find one or two tracks that catch your ear most. Not so with "Into the Sun". No filler tracks on this album, no Sir.
Indeed, if you were to ask me to pick my favourite track, I'd be hard pressed to cut it down to two, never mind one.

ZZ Ward’s vocals on "Breath of Me" are a breath (pun intended) of fresh air, while "Justified", with its classy background vocals, is quite simply one of the best classic rock songs I've heard this year. The wibbly-wobbly, honky-tonk piano, ably provided by Jim Cox is a real highlight here.

ROBBEN FORD - Into The Sun (2015) back

"High Heels and Throwing Things" is the kind of song that you find yourself tapping your foot and nodding your head to. And that’s just the start of it… each song brings something new and fresh to the album, with each one feeling like it’s been lovingly created and nurtured.
"Stone Cold Heaven" features an amazing guitar interplay between Ford and Tyler Bryant, a talented young Texan six-string guy. You gotta listen this duel.

"Into The Sun" has some of the best guitar playing and songwriting you'll heard this year, believe me.
Robben Ford is immense, not only composing and playing his guitar, but also singing with a highly melodic catchiness and passion.
I was hoping for years to hear a new 'Rock' album from Robben Ford, and "Into The Sun" fulfill all my expectations. One of the best Classic Rock albums of the year without a doubt.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Rose of Sharon
02 - Day of the Planets
03 - Howlin' at the Moon
04 - Rainbow Cover
05 - Justified (with Keb' Mo' & Robert Randolph)
06 - Breath of Me (with ZZ Ward)
07 - High Heels and Throwing Things (with Warren Haynes)
08 - Cause of War
09 - So Long 4 U (with Sonny Landreth)
10 - Same Train
11 - Stone Cold Heaven (with Tyler Bryant)

Robben Ford - Guitar, Lead Vocals, Keyboards
Jim Cox - Organ, Piano
David Piltch - Bass
Toss Panos, Herman Matthews - Drums
Wes Little - Drums, Percussion
Warren Haynes - Electric Slide Guitar
Tyler Bryant - Guitar
Sonny Landreth - Guitar
Robert Randolph - Guitar
ZZ Ward, Keb' Mo' - Lead Vocals
Gale Mayes, Kim Flemming - Backing Vocals
Kyle Swan - Harmonica, Backing Vocals



THE POODLES - Devil In The Details (2015)

v full

* fixed / retail CD

Swedes THE POODLES are in the countdown to launch their 6th rocket full of catchy melodic hard rock tunes titled "Devil In The Details".
Following the evolution of the band's sound evident on the previous, celebrated CD, The Poodles continued their collaboration with producer Mats Valentin and on "Devil In The Details" they sound bigger than ever.

All in all, The Poodles have had over ten 'top 10' singles in Scandinavia so far - which makes them one of Sweden’s most successful Rock bands - and I'm sure this new album won't be an exception of success.
We already heard the advanced singles "The Greatest" and "House Of Cards", the first a cool, anthemic midtempo ballad full of magic, while the latter shows a groovy, marching melodic rock feel with a punchy riff and a scorching guitar solo.
Both are good tracks, but the best is yet to come.

THE POODLES - Devil In The Details (2015) inside

Opener "Before I Die" is a terrific Melodic Hard Rocker with pumping verses and a glorious, quasi-epic chorus. The aggressive guitar is softened by orchestrated synths, and the solo is really original. A highlight for me.
After the aforementioned advanced singles, "Crack In The Wall" brings some mysterious and interesting sounds, then on the chorus the melodic magic explodes. It's a very elaborated, different song and one of the most personal ever created by The Poodles.

"(What The Hell) Baby" adds catchiness and even a bit of modernity, while "Everything" is a little Melodic Rock GEM (akin H.E.A.T) and of course another highlight.
"Stop" is an ok rocker, just a bit generic, but next "Need To Believe" raise the bar again, a slick mid-tempo semi-ballad with a lot of AOR charm and a classy Swedish feel.
"Creator And Breaker" has a punchy commercial refrain, while "Borderline" finds The Poodles adding a poppy smell to the song's melodic rock skeleton. I'm not completely convinced with the result on this last tack, but at least the band are trying something different.

THE POODLES - Devil In The Details (2015) back

As said, "Devil In The Details" continues with the evolution of The Poodles' sound evident on the previous CD, but here is more notorious.
And how it sounds The Poodles 2015?
Half of the album is in the trademark Poodle's fashion full of catchiness, while the other, although still melodic, finds the band exploring new frontiers. Don't be scared, always on a Melodic Rock foundation.
Some tracks are really elaborated musically speaking, featuring a prominent bass sound to add more groove, but not in the heavy manner, but more power-pop oriented. On some songs works really well with the band offering something new. On a couple, not that good.

Anyway, "Devil In The Details" is a great record. I like The Poddle's bravery to explore new sonic territories avoiding the repetitive safe side. Most of the album rocks, and in a very, compelling melodic way.
Highly Recommended.

01. Before I Die
02. House Of Cards
03. The Greatest
04. Crack In The Wall
05. Baby
06. Everything
07. Stop
08. Need To Believe
09. Alive
10. Life Without You
11. Creator And Breaker
12. Borderline

Jakob Samuel - Vocals
Henrik Bergqvist - Guitars
Johan Flodqvist - Bass
Christian Kicken Lundqvist - Drums



Friday, March 27, 2015

VAN HALEN - Tokyo Dome In Concert [2CD] (2015)

VAN HALEN - Tokyo Dome In Concert [2-CD] (2015) full

* the real one

Next March 31th, VAN HALEN will release its first-ever live album to feature original singer David Lee Roth. Recorded on June 21, 2013 at the famed Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, "Tokyo Dome In Concert" includes 23 songs, spanning all seven of the band’s albums with Roth.
It will be released as a double CD and four-LP set on 180-gram vinyl, and there was not a video, just the audio.

Mixed by award-winning engineer Bob Clearmountain and mastered by Chris Bellman, the album features such classic anthems as "Dance The Night Away", "Beautiful Girls", "And The Cradle Will Rock", "Unchained" and "Everybody Wants Some!!" as well as blistering versions of "Tattoo", "She’s The Woman" and "China Town" from the group’s most recent studio album, A Different Kind of Truth.
Of course you have too the hits "Jump", "Panama", "You Really Got Me", and the scorching, Eddie Van Halen’s finger-tapping tour de force "Eruption".

VAN HALEN - Tokyo Dome In Concert [2-CD] (2015) cd photo

"Tokyo Dome In Concert" sounds pretty raw and direct, with a true 'Live' feel.
I was eager, particularly, to listen Roth's performance. Some fan-videos seen from Van Halen's last concerts showed David Lee Roth in pretty bad form and out of tune.
Well, "Tokyo Dome In Concert" was recorded two years ago, and David sounds very good, as all the band as whole.
Now you can hear Eddie really rippin' his guitar, something missing in Van Halen's only official live album Right Here, Right Now from 1993.
I liked "Tokyo Dome In Concert" a lot, and it's a must have for Van Halen fans and lovers of Eddie's incredible fingers.

VAN HALEN - Tokyo Dome In Concert [2-CD] (2015) back cover

There's also great news from the Van Halen camp: Rhino Records will release Van Halen's first six albums to be Remastered directly from the Analog Master Recordings by Chris Bellman, cut straight from the quarter-inch tapes.
"Van Halen 1" and "1984" will be available now, while the newly mastered versions of Diver Down, Women and Children First, Van Halen II and Fair Warning should hit the stores during this spring.

CD 1
01. Unchained
02. Runnin' With The Devil
03. She’s The Woman
04. I'm The One
05. Tattoo
06. Everybody Wants Some
07. Somebody Get Me A Doctor
08. China Town
09. Hear About It Later
10. Oh, Pretty Woman
11. Me And You (drum Solo)
12. You Really Got Me

CD 2
01. Dance The Night Away
02. I'll Wait
03. Cradle Will Rock
04. Hot For Teacher
05. Women In Love
06. Romeo Delight
07. Mean Street
08. Beautiful Girls
09. Ice Cream Man
10. Panama
11. Eruption
12. Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love
13. Jump

David Lee Roth - vocals
Eddie Van Halen - guitars, synths
Alex Van Halen - drums, percussion
Wolfgang Van Halen - bass



Thursday, March 26, 2015

AIRSTREAM - Kingdom Of Isolation (2015)

AIRSTREAM - Kingdom Of Isolation (2015) full


AIRSTREAM is the new Swedish combo formed by ex- Sky Of Rage vocalist Staffan 'Stiff' Karlsson which after the departure from his previous band contacted former Thunder bassist Micke Höglund to create a new group. "Kingdom Of Isolation" is their debut set for release on Metalville Records.
Additional guitar solos on the album were contributed by guests Kee Marcello (ex- Europe) and Thomas Larsson (ex- Glenn Hughes Band). Those familiar with Karlsson's work with Sky Of Rage should expect music of equally high standards, as Airstream look to take the concept of Melodic Hard Rock & AOR to new heights.

Packed with some instantly memorable anthems as well as more melodic, almost 'theatrical' styled fare, "Kingdom Of Isolation" is an enjoyable collection of songs from start to finish.
Karlsson's vocals sit somewhere in between Magnum's Bob Catley / Gary Hughes, and he soars to the heavens on "You Had the World in Your Hands", an extended tune that has a certain 'hymn' feel to it.
Opener "The Power of Music" is the album party tune, a real upbeat melodic hard rocker that will prompt plenty of fist pumps and air guitar madness thanks to an awesome Kee Marcello solo.

AIRSTREAM - Kingdom Of Isolation (2015) booklet

Both "We Don't Look Back" and especially the catchy "Hold On to What We've Got" offer plenty of '80s styled melodic hard rock / AOR hooks for a winning formula.
Those into heavier fare will love the crunchy riffs of "Addicted" with verses akin '90s Europe, the hard driving "Lost in Fears", and the dark, menacing tone of "Kingdom of Isolation" which reminds me British TEN.

Perhaps the most intriguing song is "House of Pain", which features melodic riffs, powerful bluesy vocals and original synths in the background; it's a strange mix but it works really well.
Less successful is "Oh Mother Oh Father", as the band attempts progressive arrangements in a theatrical form, but this time the results come across as forced, bloated, and a bit puzzling. Anyway, kudos to the band to try something different.

AIRSTREAM - Kingdom Of Isolation (2015) back

Airstream mix Euro Hard Rock, '80s AOR and some progressive elements on "Kingdom Of Isolation", always with melody in mind. And works, resulting in a very interesting and entertaining product.
Even on the AOR moments, all come out pretty edgy and punchy, with the guitar attack emphasizing the proceedings. Though with a Swedish smell, Airstream sounds pretty British to me.
"Kingdom Of Isolation" it's a more than solid debut effort from Airstream and shows that this new outfit has plenty to offer to fans of these genres.
Well done guys.

01. The Power Of Music
02. You Had The World In Your Hands
03. Hold On To What We've Got
04. Oh Mother Oh Father
05. We Don't Look Back
06. Addicted
07. Kingdom Of Isolation
08. Lost In Fears
09. House Of Pain

Staffan Karlsson (ex-Sky Of Rage) - vocals, keyboards
Mathias Brask - guitar, backing vocals
Mikael Höglund (ex-Thunder) - bass, backing vocals
Tommy Moon - drums, vocals
Kee Marcello (ex- Europe) - guitar
Thomas Larsson (ex- Glenn Hughes Band) - guitar



DAMNATION ANGELS - The Valiant Fire (2015)

DAMNATION ANGELS - The Valiant Fire (2015) full


Released today, "The Valiant Fire" is the brand new album by UK symphonic melodic metallers DAMNATION ANGELS. If you don't know them, Damnation Angels put so much lavish 'film score orchestration' into their sympho metal, trying to redefine the genre sounds.
And let me tell you, they are truly original and much more interesting than bigger names in this style.

The symphonic layer is THE thing in this band, the single element that defines their sound and their arrangements.
Damnation Angels' massive and bombastic symphonic metal is plenty of melody, pomp and progressive elements. The powerful vocal performance from fantastic Norwegian singer PelleK - who possesses a super wide tone scale in his vocal cords, polishes their melodious music into almost perfection.
"The Valiant Fire" is quite epic yet accessible, and every single song is unique and it's like a journey into a dark thrilling fairytale world.

All sounds pretty cool and rather impressive for the simple reason that, though the symphonic layer is larger than life, all things blend together really well. Two good examples are "The Icarus Syndrome" and "This Is Who We Are" where the orchestration combines with the guitar line and rhythm section to a seamless whole.

Alternatively, within "Everlasting" the wall of sharp riffs command nearly the entire direction of the song. The orchestration appears as accent, though a rather large one.
On "Within Fire Inside", particularly in the latter half, the riffage and orchestration seem play off each like tag team wrestlers. And all win.

The giant "The Frontiersman" is another amazing song. It starts slow and calm with the delicious voice of PelleK (very clean) and grows into a symphonic metal gold bar in the middle. Galloping pace and the clear, high vocals electrify all your senses.
The progressive "'Closure" also starts quietly, but accelerates after a while, and the track has a lot of mega-heavy guitar riffs. Pompous and big. Another strong song is the glimmering ballad "The Passing" with magnificent vocals and subtle orchestration.

Closing number "Under An Ancient Sun" is a highlight, perhaps the best track on the CD. A sensational composition with heavy guitars, progressive colors, complex rhythms, bombastic drumming, majestic keys and shining vocals. A superb cut.

DAMNATION ANGELS - The Valiant Fire (2015) booklet

"The Valiant Fire" is all rather lavish and overwhelming, in the best sense. Damnation Angels wants their sympho to sound different and they success. And they do it without female operatic vocals. Now that's a good thing.
Original in this genre and knowing how to cross musical borders - this combined with a great production - Damnation Angels deserves my compliments.
Very, very good stuff.

01 - Finding Requiem
02 - Icarus Syndrome
03 - This Is Who We Are
04 - The Frontiersman
05 - Closure
06 - The Passing
07 - Everlasting
08 - The Fire Inside
09 - Under An Ancient Sun

PelleK - lead and backing ocals
John Graney - drums, percussion
Will Graney - guitars, bass, keyboards, synth orchestration, backing vocals



NIGHTWISH - Endless Forms Most Beautiful [2CD Deluxe Edition] (2015)

NIGHTWISH - Endless Forms Most Beautiful [2CD Deluxe digipak Edition] (2015) full

* retail digipak

NIGHTWISH will release their eighth studio album “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” tomorrow (30th March in the UK) on multiple formats. This Deluxe Digipak Edition comes with an extra CD featuring the instrumental versions of the main album songs, a true way to re-discover Nightwish's music.

As the first album since Floor Jansen replaced Anette Olzon on vocals there has been a huge amount of speculation about it. That was the question all were wondering, if Floor has such a wide vocal range and can do the operatic vocal style that Tarja did, or a metal vocal style as she does with Revamp.
In practice on the new album her vocals are smooth and are close to those of Anette than Tarja, but with more power in them.
I can see the vocals being the divisive element with this album – many fans will love them and some maybe not, but Nightwish leader Tuomas Holopainen had already signalled there would be no return to the past.
My opinion? Floor Jansen is the best singer Nightwish had. I don't like Tarja and love Olzon's, although not in the Nightwish concept.

NIGHTWISH - Endless Forms Most Beautiful [2CD Deluxe Edition] back

“Endless Forms Most Beautiful” was primarily inspired by the work of naturalist Charles Darwin. According to Holopainen, the album found its main inspiration from a famous quote from Darwin's 1859 highly influential book On the Origin of Species.
This quote included the words 'endless forms most beautiful', used by Darwin to describe the evolution from one common ancestor to all living organisms, that were subsequently chosen as the title of the album.
Tuomas said he would like fans to listen to the album from beginning to the end, like they do when they watch a movie, instead of listening to songs on a random basis.
But this is not concept album.

Produced by Tero 'TeeCee' Kinnumen, “Endless Forms Most Beautiful“ features album artwork by Finnish artist Toxic Angel and includes adult & children choirs, collaborative work with esteemed orchestral arranger Pip Williams, session drum work by Kai Hahto of Wintersun (who is sitting in for the ailing Nightwish drummer Jukka Nevalainen), and a guest appearance by evolutionary biologist, writer, and atheist Richard Dawkins.

The CD kicks off with “Shudder Before the Beautiful”. A spoken introduction starts it off before the band and orchestration kicks in. Right fromt he start it’s recognisable as Nightwish. I felt that the vocals were a bit low in the mix on this song – there’s so much going on musically that the vocals were swamped at times.
In “Weak fantasy” the vocals are clearer. They sound great – clean and beautiful and at times you do get a feeling that Floor is struggling to hold back the power in her voice rather than letting rip at full power. Bass player Marco Hietala adds his harsh vocals to this track.
“Elan” is the first single, already presented as video, so press play below to taste it: a very melodic, commercial track. However, it does not represents the whole album feeling, more powerful I'd say.

The power is evident on follower “Your’s is an Empty Hope”, driven by a quite heavy riff. It features some particularly beautiful orchestration and a nice instrumental section in the middle of the song. Again Marco adds the harsh vocals, but I do think it would have been interesting to hear Floor do them instead.
“Our Decades in the Sun” is a lovely ballad featuring soft choral vocals, polished lead vocals from Floor and some light music although the power does build up towards the end.
“My Walden” opens with a verse in Welsh – not something I’d expected from a Finnish band. That opening verse is a male vocal but it isn’t Marco – it’s actually Troy Donockley. His pipes add to the Celtic feel and there is a choir adding backing vocals on the chorus.

Title track “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” has a soft subdued opening then the guitars kick in and it really ramps up the power. It's heavy and sympho, one of the best cuts on tha album.
Another highlight for me is “Edema Ruh”, which takes it’s name as far as I can tell from the Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy of books by Partick Rothfuss: the Edema Ruh are a nomadic tribe of entertainers (including musicians).
It’s another great track with an almost Melodic Hard Rock refrain and a single potential.

The album ends with “The greatest Show on Earth”, a 24 minute epic that is split into several sections. It’s a long time before the vocals kick in – the first part is largely instrumental. There’s a Richard Dawkins spoken intro for the second part, which includes some clean vocals from Floor as well as some quite eerie vocals.
As we move into part three the sounds of the jungle appear. Vocal duties in this part of the song are shared by Floor and Marco. The remaining parts of the song are instrumental along with another spoken word section from Richard Dawkins. It's a truly epic song – almost an entire album in itself.

This 2CD release also features an instrumental version of the album in its entirety and it's a wonderful aural experience. It's highly recommended because the listener is always distracted - in a good way - by the elaborated Nightwish harmonies, and here you are able to appreciate the band's abilities.

NIGHTWISH - Endless Forms Most Beautiful [2CD Deluxe Edition] inside

Nightwish never were among my favorite bands. However, “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” has changed my interest to them. Perhaps it's Floor Jansen vocals - which I like a lot - not overly 'operatic' and much more 'rocking', and also some different arrangement approach.
I mean, apart from the usual Nightwish light-sympho 'commercialism', there is something 'different' on this album, and for good.

Many tracks have - believe or not - a Melodic Hard Rock feel. Just listen “Edema Ruh” and then tell me. On various places in this CD, Nightwish are more close to Avantasia than the early Nightwish itself.
Additionally, there's some kind of 'cinematic' way to construct some songs, especially the instrumental passages in “The greatest Show on Earth”, and I really dig this stuff.
I like this 'new Nightwish', much more than ever.
Very Recommended.

Disc 1
1. Shudder Before the Beautiful
2. Weak Fantasy
3. Élan
4. Yours Is an Empty Hope
5. Our Decades in the Sun
6. My Walden
7. Endless Forms Most Beautiful
8. Edema Ruh
9. Alpenglow
10. The Eyes of Sharbat Gula
11. The Greatest Show on Earth

Disc 2
1. Shudder Before the Beautiful (instrumental)
2. Weak Fantasy (instrumental)
3. Élan (instrumental)
4. Yours Is an Empty Hope (instrumental)
5. Our Decades in the Sun (instrumental)
6. My Walden (instrumental)
7. Endless Forms Most Beautiful (instrumental)
8. Edema Ruh (instrumental)
9. Alpenglow (instrumental)
10. The Eyes of Sharbat Gula (instrumental)

Floor Jansen - lead vocals
Marco Hietala - lead vocals, bass guitar
Emppu Vuorinen - guitars
Tuomas Holopainen – keyboards, piano
Troy Donockley – uilleann pipes, tin whistle, backing vocals
Additional musicians
Kai Hahto - drumsdrums, percussion
Richard Dawkins - narration
Pip Williams - orchestral arrangements
Metro Voices - choir



STRIKEFORCE - Elegant Steel (2015)

STRIKEFORCE - Elegant Steel (2015) full


US Midwest hard rockers STRIKEFORCE are some kind of legend in the underground (and not so) scene, as they exist since 1982 having released several albums and shared the stage with the likes of Survivor, Eddie Money, Styx, Kansas and a lot more. Still today, the members in Strikeforce are no strangers to the touring circuit and are veterans of the road with 100 plus dates a year.
After many years out of the recording Strikeforce is back with "Elegant Steel", an EP produced by Jason McEntire (Ken Hensley) and mastered by talented Michael Voss at Kidd Room Studios in Munich, Germany.

Strikeforce have been morphing over the years playing hard rock, melodic metal and now are more inclined to melodic hard rock sounds, all wrapped by a classic rock feel.
This five song EP is jam-packed with catchy hooks and high energy songs, all guitar driven and with smooth melodic vocals, in a style that to my ears recall Y&T.
These are tunes tailor-made for good-times whether you're partying or hitting the open highway, as heard on the contagious opener "All About the Money", a rippin' hardrocker where the vocals are spot on. A track you'll be singing in your sleep.

"Let Me Rock U" is another cut that can stand head-to-toes with many (historically untouchable) Mötley Crüe songs and I'm not talking junk here at all. "Live Action" is a freaking refreshing way to dropkick any bad moment in life.

Yeah, Strikeforce is a tried and true Hard Rock force, from their songwriting to their musicianship, with Duke Jackson shredding away in a great Dave Meniketti-like style.
Daryn Unterbrink's melodious vocals are another high point here, this guy can sing, while the rhythm section does a bang-up job and everything just comes together so ideally on "Elegant Steel".
A very recommended slice of true US Hard Rock.

1 - All About The Money
2 - Falling Down
3 - Live Action
4 - Doomsday
5 - Let Me Rock U

Duke Jackson - guitars
Daryn Steel Unterbrink - vocals
James Murphy - bass
Jimmy Burdette - drums



ELDORADO - Babylonia Haze (2015)

ELDORADO - Babylonia Haze (2015) full


Hard rockers ELDORADO have been one of the most promising Spanish bands for a few years now, and without a doubt they are ready to conquer the world with their new album "Babylonia Haze".
As with their previous 2 records Eldorado has been putting out two albums with each new release, one in their native Spanish, the other in English. The songs are the same, but often with different titles.
Once more, this year brings Karma Generator in Spanish and this "Babylonia Haze" in English.

Musically, Eldorado once more pursues their melodic hard / heavy rock touched with some blues with roots in the Seventies, all blended with a touch of funk, psychedelia, and good old fashioned rock 'n' roll: Classic Rock of all time.
Comprised of Jesus Trujillo (vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitar), Cesar Sanchez (bass), Andres Duende (electric guitar), and Christian Giardino (drums), the band busts right out of the gate here with the hard rocking 1-2 punch of "Mad Woman" and "Evil People", both filled with plenty of groove, crunchy guitar riffs, and tasty Hammond organ. Hooks galore.
"Breathe The Night" comes next and suddenly it’s an uplifting acoustic melody with an eery haunted vibe to it thanks to some lush vocal harmonies, acoustic guitars, mandolin, flute.

Did I mention hooks? Here they are again. "Goodbye And Carry On" starts up with a vocal/guitar duel before bassist Cesar Sanchez and drummer Christian Giardino get on board and push it into the realms of where these guys came from: Classic Rock. Heavy, heady, blues based, rock and roll. Deftly offset by a softer middle eight before rising back into the swirling riff and repeated chorus. Hook, hook, hook.
The manic "I'll Be Satisfied" knocks you on your ass with blistering riffs and nimble Hammond organ, with Trujillo delivering an impressive lead vocal over tumultuous arrangements.

At the halfway point through the album, we can already see that Eldorado seem intent on upping the heaviness factor here on "Babylonia Haze", and it's working big time.
That smoky Hammond courtesy of Trujillo again rears its head on the dark yet emotional "Flowers of Envy", again, hints of vintage Deep Purple, and even Uriah Heep come to mind, as waves of prog & proto-metal bliss just drift through the speakers.
Folky flutes and acoustic guitars pop up again on "Resurrection Song", along with some great vocal melodies, and rip-snortin' classic riffs & pounding rhythms take center stage on the upbeat thumper "You Don't Wanna Need Her".

ELDORADO - Babylonia Haze (2015) back

A dip back into Deep Purple styled hard rock classics re-appears on "Karma Generator" (ironically the title of the Spanish release of this album), and the lovely "Moon Girl" closes things out with Trujillo's emotional vocals accompanied by electric piano & Hammond organ, which dreamily takes the listener along before the rest of the band launch back in, bringing the song full tilt back to glorious heavy rock.

Honestly, there's so much talent here with this band, that it would be hard to imagine "Babylonia Haze" not grabbing the attention of hard rock lovers of all ages from all corners of the globe.
Eldorado is without a doubt a band to keep a close eye on, and more importantly, if you love your Classic Rock / Hard done as it should be (with a potent updated production) check out this new album of theirs at all costs.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Mad Woman
02 - Evil People
03 - Breathe the Night
04 - Goodbye & Carry On
05 - I'll Be Satisfied
06 - Flowers of Envy
07 - Resurrection Song
08 - You Don't Wanna Need Her
09 - Karma Generator
10 - Moon Girl

Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar: Jesus Trujillo
Guitars: Andres Duende
Bass: Cesar Sanchez
Drums: Javier Planelles



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

RED ROSE - AnniVersary (2015)

RED ROSE - AnniVersary (2015) full


After two really solid releases (already presented on this blog) AOR / Melodic Hard Rockers RED ROSE are back with its brand new work entitled "AnniVersary". This year the band is celebrating their 5-year anniversary and the album is made especially for this ​occasion.

"AnniVersary" stands out in part because of its relentlessly upbeat attitude, confidently delivered through their '80s sound. The band border on over-enthusiastic at times, sure, but it is for no lack of sincerity on their part.
Songs like “Never Surrender” and “Make You Believe” are energetic melodic rockers that double as motivational anthems, while the band show their more AOR approach on “Everything Can Change” and the powerful ballad “At The Crossroad.”

RED ROSE - AnniVersary (2015) cd photo

“Everything Can Change” absolutely engrosses the listener with a chorus that reaches for the stars, especially with its swirling keyboards and hypnotic, yet heart-pounding double-bass drums.
“At The Crossroad” has a very '80s-style synthesizer break around mid-song, which does not distract from the warmth and inspiration that radiates from the ever-hopeful lyrics vocalist Leve Laiter so eloquently delivers.

Red Rose showed a lot of potential on their previous albums, and although this "AnniVersary" is a little short for a final veredict, I think the band is ready for big things in the international AOR / Melodic Hard Rock scene.
The band has improved on musicianship and songwriting, but most importantly, on the arrangements / focus. The songs come out really polished and with attention to detail, while production is crisp & clear as it should be for this genre.

RED ROSE - AnniVersary (2015) back

"AnniVersary" is overall an impressive EP all the way. Only four tracks but strong enough to make you push the repeat button again and again. There's also a bonus DVD with videos.
I am really looking forward to hearing the next Red Rose full lenght CD.
Highly Recommended.

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrox

1 - Never Surrender
2 - At the Crossroad
3 - Everything Can Change
4 - Make You Believe
+ Video DVD content:
'On the Cusp of Change' documentary & music HD

Leve Laiter - vocals
Elnur Aliev - guitars
Deion Kristen - keyboards
Eli Reeve - bass
Sam Davidoff - session drums



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