Thursday, April 30, 2015

SHEA ROXI - 1988 [Special Limited Edition]

SHEA ROXI - 1988 [Special Limited Edition] - full


Fortunately, these days we are seeing a lot of talented bands / albums long time out of print being reissued for our listening pleasure. Here's another one from the '80s that doesn't count as a reissue because their recordings never were released: Concord, California natives SHEA ROXI.
Five of these tracks, mostly pre-poduction demos, circulated for years among fans & collectors as hand-to-hand trade, but AOR Blvd Records have along with Shea Roxi main man Adam Moliner ensured the release of this long lost but much praised collection, seeing that it finally and officially sees the light of day simply entitled "1988", the year when were taped.

Shea Roxi's tracks recorded during their brief time together is sure to please all you classic AOR / Melodic Hard Rock fans outthere.
Their music offers touches of well known acts like Danger Danger, Night Ranger, Loverboy and Journey but also lesser known melodic rockers like Mariah, Defcon and Jet Red popped in my mind while listening to the tracks on offer.
Plenty of sing-a-long choruses are to be found here together with strong melodies and an upbeat feel.

Like a lot of bands of this ilk, Shea Roxi's earlier demos were their rockiest and most lively, with the sublime 'Cryin' Eyes', the driving beat of 'Makin' Me Crazy' and the nicely arranged 'My World Is Changing' having energy and enthusiasm in abundance, whilst the Journey-ish 'I Got What You Want' and subtle 'Can't Hide Love' are ballads that show singer Rob Schroder vocal prowess to the full.

Five songs recorded under the auspices of Journey's Raised On Radio co-producer Jim Gaines show a band moving in a more commercial AOR direction, from the infectious radio-rocker 'Somebody Like You' and the lively version of the Van Stephenson classic 'Fistful Of Heat', to the keyboard-led pomp of 'Angel', 'Anyway To Treat' and the exquisite 'Fortune And Fame', where Danger Danger meets Journey.
A rough live version of 'My World Is Changing' included as bonus would seem to indicate that they were a very good live band, so it's sad that these songs were never properly recorded.

SHEA ROXI - 1988 [Special Limited Edition] - back cover

When listening to Shea Roxi "1988 [Special Limited Edition]" do keep in mind that we're dealing with demos and although they've been no doubt touched up in places, their overall sound cannot rival that of major label albums from the same era.
But it does not matter, "1988" reveals another great AOR / MHR band who fully understood the genre and those little instrumental and arrangement touches that make good songs into 'great' ones.
This CD was released some time ago, so if you are considering a purchase don't wait too long because it was pressed in very limited quantity.
Classy stuff highly recommended for all AOR / Melodic Hard fans from the heart.

01 - Cryin' Eyes
02 - Somebody Like You
03 - Mystery At Midnight
04 - I Got What You Want
05 - My World Is Changing
06 - Anyway To Treat
07 - Angel
08 - Wild Girl
09 - Fistful Of Heat
10 - Can't Hide Love
11 - Makin' Me Crazy
12 - Fortune And Fame
13 - 1988
14 - My World Is Changing - Live (Bonus Track)

Rob Schroder – Vocals
Adam Moliner – Guitars
Steve Salinas – Keyboards
Steve Nystrom – Bass
Joe Bennett – Drums



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

RIOT ON MARS - First Wave [Japanese Edition] (2015)

RIOT ON MARS - First Wave [Japanese Edition] (2015) full


RIOT ON MARS, the new project featuring Barry Sparks and Michael Vescera, has just released its debut album "First Wave" in Japan.
The idea for RIOT ON MARS began from a 20-year friendship between the talented bassist / guitarist Barry Sparks and one of metal's best vocalists, Michael Vescera. They first met when they both joined guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen's band in 1993.

Barry's ability to play the intricate guitar lines on bass and Michael's top-notch vocal skills made for one of Yngwie's best lineups. Soon after, Sparks became a very-sought-after hard rock bassist and went on to work with the Michael Schenker Group, Uli Jon Roth, UFO, Scorpions, Ted Nugent and now B'Z.
Vescera continued his successful singing and producing career, working with such acts as Obsession and Animetal USA and recording as guest on many albums.

However, if you're expecting from these two cats something musically heavy on this record, you're wrong.
There some Yngwie circa '93 in opener "Carry On" - yet much more melodious - but the focus on "First Wave" is, for the most part, a melodic hard rock affair with a strong European feel.
This is clear since second track "Out Of Sight" with a typical Scandinavian vibe, with a bit of Last Autumn's Dream on it and perhaps some Peter Sandberg's Jade.

RIOT ON MARS - First Wave [Japanese Edition] (2015) booklet

The same moving rhythms can be heard on "This Is The Time", the catchy "State Of Mind" (with a German MHR sound) the groovier "All To Light" and "Consequences".
More classic rock sound arrives in "Movin' On", the slow, acoustically driven "Wasted Days", and midtempo "Sacrifices" including vintage keyboards into the mix and long, pretty good guitar solo by Sparks.

Barry Sparks handles all the instruments on the entire record minus the drums, at charge of experienced BJ Zampa (House Of Lords), with some special guest appearances. Barry is good on all, shining especially on the meaty pumping bass lines and keyboard fills - pretty generous all over.
Vescera delivers a solid performance, much more melodic as usual, this aspect reinforced by the fact he doubles his voice in multi-layers during the choruses to obtain a slick melodious output.
Riot On Mars also does a fine cover of the Nazareth version of "Beggars Day" with an updated sound, featuring Nazareth's main man Dan McCafferty on guest vocals.

RIOT ON MARS - First Wave [Japanese Edition] (2015) back

"First Wave", the debut from Riot On Mars, is nice record with some good, enjoyable songs and a really melodic approach.
Both Vescera / Sparks feel cohesive and having fun on this project, a well arranged / performed collection of tunes. I have my issues with the production (a bit thin especially most the drums) and perhaps the album it's too long (73 minutes).
Anyway, it's a very interesting new band that is capable to deliver more fine music in years to come.

01 - Carry On
02 - Out Of Sight
03 - Movin' On
04 - Sacrifices
05 - Prologue
06 - This Is The Time
07 - State Of Mind
08 - All To Light
09 - Chaotica
10 - Wasted Days
11 - What Lies Beyond
12 - Consequences
13 - Alba Patera Suite
14 - Beggars Day (feat. Dan McCafferty)
15 - Rose In The Heather

Michael Vescera - all vocals
Barry Sparks - guitars, bass, keyboards
BJ Zampa - drums
Shane Gaalaas - drums on 14, 15
Takanobu Masuda - moog solo on 12
Dan McCafferty - vocals on 14



Tuesday, April 28, 2015

KICKIN VALENTINA - Super Atomic (2015)

KICKIN VALENTINA - Super Atomic (2015) full


Scandinavia is the current breeding ground for all things sleaze, but KICKIN VALENTINA are bound and determined to carry the flag of the genre in America. Yes, there's a difference between sleaze / sleazy, the first sporting an European, more melodic style. 'Sleazy' refers to an American sound, a hard rock blend made popular by Motley Crue, La Guns and alike.
In other words, Kickin Valentina smell more like gasoline than hairspray on their "Super Atomic" released today, indeed a kickin' collection of songs that packs a 'Mike Tyson in his prime' punch.

Hailing from Atlanta and featuring former Rockets to Ruin bassist Chris Taylor, this may not be the first destination one would expect to find a killer new hard rock band, yet that is exactly where Kickin Valentina came together -- a group that have been together for five years and who could convincingly have called themselves 'kickin ass'.
The star here is vocalist Joe Edwards, who has one of those raspy deliveries tailor-made for sleazy hard rock.
However no band is successful without capable musicians backing things up, and, of course, good songs... Kickin Valentina have all in spades.

"Explicit On My Side" gets the festivities off to a sleazy start with all the ingredients that made the '80s Sunset Strip great. The band sounds tight, pumping, aggressive but clear. The riff and overall rhythm makes you to tap your foot with no pause.
"Wrong Way" is more groovy and with a solid pulse, followed by the slightly hair metal of "When You're Gone", effective and catchy.

Then "Fist 'n' Twist" hits you strongly. This hyper-driven little number is like a fist on your face, burrowing its way through your head with screaming guitars, a heavy bottom end and vocals perfectly aged with cheep booze and stale cigarettes.

"Super Atomic Poster Boy" is perhaps the more commercial cut of the bunch, and the more melodic. The chorus is ridiculously catchy with some early (not the bluesy) Great White.
"Get Ready" is from Kickin Valentina's previous EP (as all tracks following), a song so whoa-whoa contagious you may not wanna bring it home - check the double-kick fills by drummer Jimmy Berdine.
Speaking of contagious, "Dirty Girl" grinds along on a riff that could’ve been borrowed from Dirty Looks. Hard to go wrong with that.

"Alone" could be considered Kickin Valentina's attempt at a ballad, but it has far bigger balls than your standard sappy love song, while containing one of the band's most accessible chorus.
"Eat And Run" begins its pulsating descent into the sewers of American sleazy hard rock starting with original out-of-sync vocals that slowly pick up steam to merge nicely with the hard-charging music. The vocals again steal the spotlight, but the chunked-up power chords and a tasty solo from guitarist Heber Pampillion help make the song one of the highlights.

KICKIN VALENTINA - Super Atomic (2015) inside

Kickin Valentina are more than a promise, they easily can lead the crestfallen US sleazy hard rock scene with their brand of catchy songs and tight muscianship. They have already toured with Skid Row, Sebastian Bach, Faster Pussycat and more, and are ready for bigger things.
"Super Atomic" it's fast, hard, but harmonious, dirty in attitude but perfectly recorded & produced with a clean delivery.
Crank it in the car or at the gym. This will get you going.
Strongly Recommended.

01 - Explicit On My Side
02 - Wrong Way
03 - When You're Gone
04 - Fist 'n' Twist
05 - Super Atomic Poster Boy
06 - Some Kind of Sex
07 - Get Ready
08 - Dirty Girl
09 - Alone
10 - Anita
11 - Eat and Run

Joe Edwards - vocals
Heber Pampillon - guitar
Chris Taylor - bass
Jimmy Berdine - drums



ALAN PARSONS - LiveSpan (2015)

ALAN PARSONS - LiveSpan (2015) full


Legendary British producer and musician ALAN PARSONS released a live recording of the highly successful tour of Germany and Austria that took place in March of 2013, presented on a double CD entitled "LiveSpan".
The set was released some time ago but only available in Germany, now distributed & shipped worldwide.

The recording was captured on two sold-out nights in the Beethoven Halle in Stuttgart, Germany and it's an anthology of all the greatest hits of The Alan Parsons Project.
Among the eternal hits "Damned If I Do", "Eye In The Sky", "Old And Wise" or the super-melodic "Don't Answer Me", we have the entire suite of "The Turn Of A Friendly Card" that has never been previously released as a live performance.

Ok, The Alan Parsons Project always was a studio-project per excellence, so... what's the point for a live performance?
Well, call it nostalgia or whatever, Alan Parsons' rabid fans (like me) need this one. Not only for collector purposes, but also because it's a very good performance.
Casual listeners also have much to discover; listen all these songs performed by Parsons' current band (including singer PJ Olsson), as none of these musicians played / sung on the original studio versions.
Ah, and if you dislike live recordings, forget about it: there's Alan Parsons behind the desk guys... everything sounds pristine without audience interruptions, just some faded-out claps.

ALAN PARSONS - LiveSpan (2015) back

CD 1 :
01 - I Robot
02 - Damned If I Do
03 - Don't Answer Me
04 - Breakdown
05 - The Raven
06 - Time
07 - La Sagrada Familia
08 - I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You
09 - The Turn Of A Friendly Card
.. I - The Turn Of A Friendly Card (Part One)
.. II - Snake Eyes
.. II - Ace Of Swords
.. IV - Nothing Left To Lose
.. V - The Turn Of A Friendly Card (Part Two)

CD 2 :
01 - What Goes Up
02 - Luciferama (Lucifer / Mammagamma)
03 - Psychobabble
04 - Don't Let It Show
05 - Prime Time
06 - Sirius - Eye In The Sky
07 - (The System Of) Dr. Tarr And Professor Fether
08 - Old And Wise
09 - Games People Play
10 - Fragile

Alan Parsons - Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar, Fairlight
PJ Olsson - Vocals
Guy Erez - Bass
Alastair Greene - Vocals, Guitar
Danny Thompson - Drums
Todd Cooper - Vocals, Sax



Monday, April 27, 2015

VAN HALEN - Women And Children First / Fair Warning (2015 remasters)

VAN HALEN - Women And Children First / Fair Warning (2015 remasters) full


As part of the VAN HALEN first 6 albums remastering campaign, here are the 3rd & 4th: "Women And Children First" and "Fair Warning". Still not available on CD format, but all are already available through in high quality 192khz / 24bit.

Cut straight from the original Analog Master Recordings quarter-inch tapes, these fresh remasters handled by Chris Bellman sound incredible.
The sonic difference is notable, blowing out of the water the last 2000's remaster treatment which was, in my opinion, horrible.
Just check Eddie's guitar intro to "Unchained"... wow, that riff really sounds like he's playing in the same room with you. Or the driven bass lines of "Everybody Wants Some!!".
Both are great records, but "Fair Warning" is one of my favorites ever with an insane guitar work, now sounding like straight from the amp.

On this Remaster 2015, HDtracks 192khz / 24bit high definition, even converted to regular 44.1kHz compressed files (to listen on your iPod or car) the sound acquires another dimension.
HDtracks files put you in the recording studio with the artists. You will hear exactly what the artists and engineer hear in the studio. It's like watching the highest quality 80 inch Plasma HDTV with a Blu ray as its source.
VAN HALEN's "Women And Children First / Fair Warning" 2015 Remasters worth every penny.

You've never listened to VAN HALEN like this.
A Must.

Women And Children First :
01 - And The Cradle Will Rock...(2015 Remastered)
02 - Everybody Wants Some!! (2015 Remastered)
03 - Fools (2015 Remastered)
04 - Romeo Delight (2015 Remastered)
05 - Tora! Tora! (2015 Remastered)
06 - Loss Of Control (2015 Remastered)
07 - Take Your Whiskey Home (2015 Remastered)
08 - Could This Be Magic? (2015 Remastered)
09 - In A Simple Rhyme (2015 Remastered)

Fair Warning :
01 - Mean Street (2015 Remastered)
02 - "Dirty Movies" (2015 Remastered)
03 - Sinner's Swing! (2015 Remastered)
04 - Hear About It Later (2015 Remastered)
05 - Unchained (2015 Remastered)
06 - Push Comes To Shove (2015 Remastered)
07 - So This Is Love? (2015 Remastered)
08 - Sunday Afternoon In The Park (2015 Remastered)
09 - One Foot Out The Door (2015 Remastered)

Eddie Van Halen – guitar, backing vocals
David Lee Roth – lead vocals
Alex Van Halen – drums, percussion
Michael Anthony – bass, backing vocals



DWIGHT TWILLEY - Always (2015)

DWIGHT TWILLEY - Always (2015) full


You have to give American singer / songwriter DWIGHT TWILLEY his due. After decades delivering smart melodic hits and instantly establishing himself as one of its elder statesmen, he’s as eager as ever to show he’s still committed to the cause.
The dozen songs that occupy his aptly-named new album "Always" prove that point, what with its insistent riffing, compelling choruses and persistent declarations of enduring love, the very things that have underscored his radio-ready sound since the beginning.

The man has created several successful singles over the years, but I am fan of Dwight's melodious stuff since his contributions to different '80s movie soundtracks. Funnily enough, his last studio album was titled 'Soundtrack'.
From the first chords of the initial entry, title-track "Always", it's obvious that Twilley still possesses the chops that can all but assure a stirring sing-along.

With songs that alternate between lofty, stately ballads ("Lovers" or "I See It In Your Eyes") and catchy, compelling rockers ("A Million Miles Wide", "Everyday", "We Were Scared"), Twilley and crew – an all-star line-up that includes guests Mitch Easter, Susan Cowsill, Ron Flynt, Steve Allen, Leland Sklar, Ken Stringfellow, Tommy Keene and longtime colleague Bill Pitcock IV – Twilley shows that simpler is better, but savvy bests it all.

All these plus the bluesy "Til’ the Jukebox Dies" will appease longtime Twilley fans as well as appeal to a popular music / classic rock audience looking for substance while also attempting to avoid ulterior motives.
As ever, the contagious melodies and solid sound draws the listener into Dwight’s world – you come for the party and ultimately stay for the great company.

DWIGHT TWILLEY - Always (2015) inside

Music lovers still unfamiliar with Dwight’s work will find this album both catchy and compelling.
While the disc is laced with radio candy tunes ('80s radio I must say), this is an album that moves in feel & emotion from top to bottom, forcing the listener back to the top again.
Just like Twilley 'Always' does.
Very Recommended.

01 - Always
02 - A Million Miles Wide
03 - Lovers
04 - Into The Flame
05 - Everybody's Crazy
06 - Everyday
07 - 'til The Jukebox Dies
08 - We Were Scared
09 - Happy Birthday
10 - I See It In Your Eyes
11 - Fools Like Me
12 - Tomorrow

Dwight Twilley - vocals, guitar bass, keyboards, percussion
Bill Pitcock IV - guitar, bass
Leland Sklar - bass
Dave Armstrong, Ken Stringfellow, Ron Flynt, Timm Buechler - add. bass
Doug Wiley - drums
Jimmy Karstein - percussion
Ron Flynt - keyboards, organ
Susan Cowsill - harmony vocals
Aaron "Slimquick" Failes, JB Meyers, Mitch Easter, Roger Linn, Steve Allen, Steve Ripley, Tommy Keene - guitar



VAN HALEN I & II (2015 remasters)

VAN HALEN I & II (2015 remasters) full HDtracks


As announced, the first 6 legendary albums by VAN HALEN have received a fantastic 2015 remastering. In March 31, Van Halen first self-titled & 1984 (featured HERE) were released on CD, the rest to be appeared in the upcoming 3 months.
But all are already available through in high quality 192khz / 24bit.
Let's start then with the ground-breaking two first albums, VAN HALEN I and VAN HALEN II.

Cut straight from the original Analog Master Recordings quarter-inch tapes, these fresh remasters handled by Chris Bellman sound incredible.
It's simply awesome, and blows out of the water the last 2000's remaster treatment which was, in my opinion, horrible.
Now Eddie's guitar sounds like he's playing in the same room with you, the drums - and especially the cymbals - are real, the bass throw pulsating pumps to your body and Roth's vocals are clear from the throat.

On this Remaster 2015, HDtracks 192khz / 24bit high definition, even converted to regular 44.1kHz compressed files (to listen on your iPod or car) the sound acquires another dimension.
HDtracks files put you in the recording studio with the artists. You will hear exactly what the artists and engineer hear in the studio. It's like watching the highest quality 80 inch Plasma HDTV with a Blu ray as its source.

You've never listened to VAN HALEN I and VAN HALEN II like this.
A Must.

01 - Runnin' With The Devil (2015 Remastered)
02 - Eruption (2015 Remastered)
03 - You Really Got Me (2015 Remastered)
04 - Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love (2015 Remastered)
05 - I'm The One (2015 Remastered)
06 - Jamie's Cryin' (2015 Remastered)
07 - Atomic Punk (2015 Remastered)
08 - Feel Your Love Tonight (2015 Remastered)
09 - Little Dreamer (2015 Remastered)
10 - Ice Cream Man (2015 Remastered)
11 - On Fire (2015 Remastered)

01 - You're No Good (2015 Remastered)
02 - Dance The Night Away (2015 Remastered)
03 - Somebody Get Me A Doctor (2015 Remastered)
04 - Bottoms Up! (2015 Remastered)
05 - Outta Love Again (2015 Remastered)
06 - Light Up The Sky (2015 Remastered)
07 - Spanish Fly (2015 Remastered)
08 - D.O.A. (2015 Remastered)
09 - Women In Love.....(2015 Remastered)
10 - Beautiful Girls (2015 Remastered)

Eddie Van Halen – guitar, backing vocals
David Lee Roth – lead vocals
Alex Van Halen – drums, percussion
Michael Anthony – bass, backing vocals



MARTIN VILLAREAL FROZEN TEARS - Secrets From Deep Inside (2015)

MARTIN VILLAREAL FROZEN TEARS - Secrets From Deep Inside (2015) full


Martin Villarreal is a musician hailing from Uruguay, South America, who has already recorded and collaborated with colleagues from all the planet. Mainly guitarist, he's the driven force behind power metallers Ossiriand.
But Martin is a classical trained musician as well, and his love for this type of music prompted him to form his own project FROZEN TEARS, being "Secrets From Deep Inside" its debut recording.

Frozen Tears is a symphonic / acoustic oriented project with classical instruments in the background, with Villarreal playing guitar and keyboards, but there's also real bass and percussion. He is joined by a talented female singer in Daiana Zagaglia.
Despite its sympho flourishes due the violin, flute, cello etc, many of these songs, if played with a full rock band are build over a classic metal structures. So expect Rock compositions yet delivered in an acoustic context.

Villarreal must be doing things well, as he got some stars to contribute: the delicious Amanda Somerville sings the entire opener "Angels Call", a pretty uptempo but sweet and melodic tune with a haunting atmosphere.
And we have the 'I sing everything fine' genius Goran Edman on "Mana", a mostly guitar-driven (acoustic) song where, yes, he shines with a passionate performance.

MARTIN VILLAREAL FROZEN TEARS - Secrets From Deep Inside (2015) cd photo

But as said, Frozen Tears also ranks a gorgeous own female singer in Daiana Zagaglia. Her velvety vocals appease the intense "The Guide", the splendid "Here I Am" and the lovely lullaby of "A Secret Divine".
All compositions, except two where the acoustic guitar lead the music, present elaborated symphonic scores with various different instruments into the mix providing a delicious aura.

Martin Villarreal's Frozen Tears "Secrets From Deep Inside" is a very enjoyable, calm yet juicy set of songs rich in easy listening melodies including acoustic / classical instruments and great vocal parts.
A recommended change to the ear in between all our beloved electric rockin' music.

01 - Angels Call (feat. Amanda Somerville)
02 - Here I Am
03 - Mana (feat. Goran Edman)
04 - A Secret Divine
05 - The Guide
06 - Under the Stars
07 - Una Mistica Razon [Cali]
08 - Deep Inside
09 - Whispers of Dreams

Martin Villarreal - acoustic guitars, keyboards
Daiana Zagaglia - vocals
Matias Takessian - bass
Special vocal guests: Amanda Somerville & Goran Edman
classical musicians:
Ana Apotheloz - flute
Cristian Cayun - piano
Guillermo Xaubet - violin
Manuel Silvera - cello
Nicolas Escobar - clarinet, percusion
Samuel Delgado - viola



Saturday, April 25, 2015

RICK SPRINGFIELD - Songs For The End Of The World [Acoustic Version]

RICK SPRINGFIELD - Songs For The End Of The World [Acoustic Version] full


RICK SPRINGFIELD's last album “Songs For The End Of The World” raised great positive reviews by the critic and was praised by fans as one of the best records of his career (posted on the blog HERE). There were several editions each with different tracklist and cover artwork, but few noticed that some months after its release, appeared a new version of the album completely recorded acoustically.
Songs for the End of the World - Acoustic Version” features all the tracks from the original regular release, yet re-recorded in a beautiful acoustic form, enhancing even more the pure nature of these songs.

On Songs For The End Of The World, Rick culled elements from his past work but keeping things firmly relevant with a fresh modern melodic rock sound, insanely catchy choruses and strong lyrics.
Indeed, these new songs have a vibrant pulse, more rocking than any other stuff he has released in the last twenty years.

RICK SPRINGFIELD - Songs For The End Of The World [Acoustic Version] inside

Here on “Songs For The End Of The World - Acoustic Version”, these tracks were re-worked acoustically, but none losing the nerve and power from the original 'electric' versions.
Producing a CD this great is quite a feat for a man in his '60s who has been doing this for a long time. Rick still has the musical passion of a 20 year-old guy, plus, he's moved with the times continuously, whilst still retaining his identity.
Amazing stuff.

0dayrox exclusive

01 - Wide Awake [Acoustic Version]
02 - Our Ship's Sinking [Acoustic Version]
03 - I Hate Myself [Acoustic Version]
04 - You & Me [Acoustic Version]
05 - Gabriel [Acoustic Version]
06 - A Sign Of Life [Acoustic Version]
07 - My Last Heartbeat [Acoustic Version]
08 - Joshua [Acoustic Version]
09 - Love Screws Me Up [Acoustic Version]
10 - I Found You [Acoustic Version]
11 - Depravity [Acoustic Version]
12 - One Way Street [Acoustic Version]



NO BROS - Ready For The Action [reissue + bonus] (2015)

NO BROS - Ready For The Action [reissue + bonus] (2015) full


Two years ago we presented here Schubert In Rock, the very good project of Austrian hard rock guitarist and concert promoter Klaus Schubert, a disc featuring awesome contributions by the likes of Joe Lynn Turner, Tony Martin, Biff Byford and more.
The album featured re-recordings of Klaus '80s band NO BROS, which released two very nice LP early in the decade and now are being reissued on CD for the first time.
This is NO BROS second album "Ready For The Action".

Even being through a time when NWOBHM was spreading throughout, No Bros were playing a sound that mixes traditional metal with classic hard rock in a style & sound typically from the era in Europe.
The music in "Ready For The Action" is heavy and elegant in both ways, reminding us from Rainbow best moments with Graham Bonnet on vocals and some Scorpions, but with their own personality.
All songs present powerful vocals (with very good choruses), strong guitars and a fluid rhythm section, all adorned with classy keyboards from the genre.

NO BROS - Ready For The Action [reissue + bonus] (2015) inside

No Bros enjoyed moderate popularity in central Europe, with the band playing at several festivals as well, and despite recorded and published by a small label, "Ready For The Action" sounds pretty good and its production feels solid throughout.
Opener and title track “Ready for the Action” sets the mood via energetic and dynamic classic riffs, followed by the catchy “Speedy” with some Saxon in it.
The power from “Hey You (Second King of Darkness)” complete with Hammond should have been a live favorite, same with the straightforward “On Stage”, and then “We Are Stronger”, a little pompy thanks to the analog synth arrangement.

“Be My Friend” is a slow tune more than a ballad, delivering an atmosphere akin late seventies Scorpions.
But this reissue has some delicious bonus tracks: two new songs recorded only for this album, “A Night in Touch City” and “Back Again”, showing that now the band still has the same fire as before, and there's the version of “Ready for the Action” recorded by Schubert In Rock two years ago, with Krokus’ Marc Storace on vocals.

NO BROS - Ready For The Action [reissue + bonus] (2015) back cover

This reissue of No Bros "Ready For The Action" puts under the spotlight a band with a strong potential, with cool songs and classy melodies. But after this record, Klaus Schubert decided to go for concert promotion, and the band was history.
Anyway, No Bros perform live from time to time, and the recent Schubert In Rock project proves that a rocker, always be a rocker.
Very cool stuff.

0dayrox exclusive

01 - Ready For The Action
02 - Speedy
03 - Intoxication
04 - Backstage Queen
05 - Hey You (Second King Of Darkness)
06 - On Stage
07 - We Are Stronger
08 - Please Change Your Mind
09 - Be My Friend
10 - Find Myself [brand new song]
11 - A Night In Touch City [brand new song]
12 - Back Again [brand new song]
13 - Ready For The Action [new version Schubert In Rock]

Klaus Schubert - guitars
Freddy Gigele - vocals
Nik P. Opperer - keyboards
Michael Ausserhofer - bass
Franz Heumader - drums
Marc Storace - guest vocals on 13



BLACKWELDER - Survival Of The Fittest (2015)

BLACKWELDER - Survival Of The Fittest (2015) full


While BLACKWELDER is the project of American guitarist Andrew Szucs (formerly of Seven Seraphim), their debut "Survival Of The Fittest" attracts attention due the inclusion of two current Primal Fear members; great shouter Ralf Scheepers and drummer Aquiles Priester (also ex- Angra).
Add to this Dio Disciples / ex-Yngwie Malmsteen Swedish bassist Bjorn Englen and Theocracy’s Matt Smith mixing, and the album deserve a proper listen.

Given the players involved, you have a pretty good idea what’s in store on the Blackwelder debut. However, "Survival Of The Fittest" does not sounds like Primal Fear.
There's undeniable elements of Progressive and Power Metal, but apart from the double bass drums and some frenzy passages, the album is much more melodic than expected, and I like it.
Call it melodic metal, or quite edgy metallic powerful hard rock, but all is really accessible.

Szucs brings a high degree of technicality to these songs, and his soloing in particular is jaw-dropping. And of course Priester brings his own impressive drumming to the band.
Musically, Blackwelder has elements in common with Balance Of Power, early Queensryche, Yngwie Malmsteen early '90s hard rock, and even some Unisonic.
Scheepers’s vocals are much more in control than in Primal Fear, quite melodious and elaborating harmonies. It’s his presence that really elevates this album to another level.

High points on "Survival Of The Fittest" include lead-off track “Night of New Moon”, the Sabbath / Tony Martin era “Freeway of Life”, the elaborated “Remember the Time” (which starts as a ballad), and closer “Judgment Day” which probably comes closest of all these songs to a Primal Fear sound.
The instrumental “Adeturi” is also pretty remarkable from a purely technical standpoint.

BLACKWELDER - Survival Of The Fittest (2015) inside

If you're a fan of any of the players involved, you're going to want to hear "Survival Of The Fittest". If not, perhaps Blackwelder's clean, polished, late '80s influenced melodic metal may convince you.
Blackwelder does not break any new ground, but it’s always good to hear first-rate musicians paired with a vocalist of Scheepers's caliber.
Effective and very enjoyable.

01. The Night Of New Moon
02. Spaceman
03. Adeturi
04. Freeway Of Life
05. Inner Voice
06. With Flying Colors
07. Remember The Time
08. Play Some More
09. Oriental Spell
10. Judgement Day

Ralf Scheepers - Vocals (Primal Fear, ex-Gamma Ray)
Andrew Szucs - Guitar (Seven Seraphim)
Bjorn Englen - Bass (Dio Disciples, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen)
Aquiles Priester - Drums (Primal Fear, Hangar, ex-Angra)



MILAN POLAK - Scarred To Perfection (2015)

MILAN POLAK - Scarred To Perfection (2015) full


Born in Austria but established in America long time ago, MILAN POLAK is a very respected name among shred/virtuoso guitar aficionados, having released several instrumental albums in this vein.
But unlike most of his peers concentrated in clinics and guitar 'demonstrations', Polak also has a 'song-format' side and he is presenting his 3rd vocal CD, "Scarred To Perfection", focused on elaborated melodic / hard rock songs.

Polak is awesome on the six-strings, but also an accomplished songwriter / vocalist. Listening the songs on "Scarred To Perfection" you easily understand why he has collaborated with Billy Sheehan composing songs for Mr. Big, but also Marty Friedman, Kip Winger and more. Yes, this is melodic rock with a twist.
A creative songcraft musician, Pollack easily blends the important elements of melody and harmony with his impressive, often innovative, guitar work in his arrangements. On top of this, he sings very well, having a smooth and melodic voice that compliments the character of every song.

The compositions themselves range in style from radio-friendly modern AOR to riff-heavy rockers to something more progressive, but always melodic.

The first three tracks on the album, opener "Belong" (one of my favorites), the melodious "The Last Goodbye" and "Cleansing" are built over catchy riffs and a bouncy rhythm section typical from the melodic rock / radio AOR genre. Solid songwriting, clean vocals and accessible melodies.
"This Time" and "No Compromise" are more bruising rockers, thick with heavy riffs, but never without an underlying melody. Then songs like "Karma" and "Green Demon" seem different - still with song format - but adding variation in nuanced tones from Polak guitar.

Other songs return to something more straightforward like the ballads "You & I" (featuring Kip Winger on bass) and "Rainbow", both having a more gentle approach and development, mostly accentuated by the vocal arrangements, but also some acoustic guitar in the latter song.

MILAN POLAK - Scarred To Perfection (2015) inside

"Scarred To Perfection" is a varied collection of interesting and entertaining AOR/Rock & melodic hard rock songs, showcasing Milan Polak's songwriting and guitar skills at the forefront.
He has also played most of the instruments minus the drums (performed by the very good Dennis Leeflang from the Lita Ford band), plus some friend's cameos, like Kip Winger and the excellent Neil Taylor (Tears For Fears, Robbie Williams) playing guitar on the last track on the CD.
This is a very good record clinically produced & arranged, with some enjoyable catchy songs and excellent playing throughout.
Very Recommended.

01 - Belong
02 - The Last Goodbye
03 - Cleansing
04 - Scarred to Perfection
05 - You & I (feat. Kip Winger)
06 - Karma
07 - No Compromise
08 - Final Song
09 - This Time
10 - Smile
11 - Green Demon
12 - Rainbow (feat. Neil Taylor)

Milan Polak - Lead & backing vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, loops
Dennis Leeflang (Lita Ford band) - drums
Fabio Trentini - bass on 4,6,12, electric sitar
Kip Winger - bass on 5
Neil Taylor - guitar solo on 10



Thursday, April 23, 2015

BONFIRE - Glorious (2015)

BONFIRE - Glorious (2015) full


Finally, legendary German Melodic Hard Rockers BONFIRE are back with this brand new record "Glorious". If you asked a couple years ago, there are two things I wouldn't have thought they would ever happen, even though the band always stayed alive.
The first thing is a new Bonfire studio album, and second, that it will be a extraordinary good record. "Glorious" indeed.

But life surprises you sometimes. There is a new album from the Ingolstadt-based band, and "Glorious" is a kind of second spring time. It contains cracking new compositions really worth to listen to.
It feels like the band benefits from a kind of fountain of youth on this recording, as everything comes fresh and vital.
Bonfire have a new vocalist in the shape and form of David Reece, a singer who will be more than familiar to most of you reading this review. Those of you unfamiliar, David has sung in Accept, Bangalore Choir, Gypsy Rose, Tango Down and EZ Livin’, the later being a fine starting block for the small jump over to front Bonfire.

BONFIRE - Glorious (2015) inside

The writing was done by Bonfire's mastermind Hans Ziller and Reece, with Hans handling the production and the great Alessandro Del Vecchio (who also play keyboards) mixing & mastering. And a superb job they have done.
They kick off with '21 Guns Salute (Goes Boom)' which starts slowly with an intro almost a minute long, before you hear the distinct vocals of Mr. Reece. Straight away there is a slight, welcomed change to the familiar sound of Bonfire, a band I’ve followed since the '80s, with a broader soundscape and with Alessandro del Vecchio adding layers of keyboards to the mix.

'Nothin’ At All' certainly is a pacier number with drummer Harry Reischmann pounds louder in the mix. I detect quite a few influences in this track, from hints of Deep Purple and Whitesnake, especially in the vocals.
As with as David Reece’s voice, Hans Ziller’s guitar sound is also distinct and leads us nicely into the third track 'Can’t Break Away'. Maybe I’ll be so bold as to say this is probably the best I’ve heard Reece sing for a few years. Monster track.

'Remember' would not be out of place on a Bangalore Choir album. If you’re familiar with that band’s work then you will know exactly what I mean. Hard rockin', potent yest extremely clean.
With an acoustic guitar as intro there’s a fair bet you’ve reached a ballad, and yes you’d be exactly right with 'Fallin’ Outta Love'. Again this exemplifies the fact that David is on top form and also highlights the nice feel of the production.

BONFIRE - Glorious (2015) booklet

The title track, appropriately named 'Glorious', is a trademark Bonfire anthem, with a big chorus and a choir / orchestra vibe. Also the melodic 'Lies' is typical Bonfire, driven by a riff and the sort of guitar sound that draws me into a band.
I’d certainly say that 'Put Out The Flames' is the track closest to '80s Bonfire, and for sure a fan favorite in years to come. Then 'Freewheel Desperado' rocks with muscle and fantastic rhythm section, sharp riffs and biker vocals... ride your bike and crank this one to 11!

Bonfire / Ziller has decide to re-record 2 songs from the legendary Bonfire release Fireworks with this new line-up: 'Sweet Obsession' and 'American Nights'. I think David Reece has done a damn good job on these, and the added keyboards / synths add a wonderful AOR touch, especially in 'Sweet Obsession'. Killer stuff.
And finally we are presented with a bonus track in the shape and form of the all time classic 'With A Little Help From My Friends'. I have to say I’m thoroughly enjoying this version and a fine job the band has done.

BONFIRE - Glorious (2015) back

Bonfire has returned in all its glory, so "Glorious" is a proper title for an album that can stand in line with the first three awesome, classic releases of the band.
Bonfire in such a shape has the potential to connect again to former successes and conquer a new generation of Melodic Hard Rock fanatics.
One of the albums of the year without a doubt.
Two BIG thumbs up : Highly Recommended.

01 - 21 Guns Salute (Goes Boom)
02 - Nothin’ at All
03 - Can’t Break Away
04 - Remember
05 - Fallin’ Outta Love
06 - Glorious
07 - Supernatural Disguise
08 - Shooting Star
09 - Lies
10 - Put out the Flames
11 - Free Wind Desperado
12 - Sweet Obsession
13 - American Nights
14 - With a Little Help from My Friends (bonus)

Hans Ziller - Lead Guitar / Backing Vocals
David Reece - Lead Vocals
Harry Reischmann - Drums
Ronnie Parkes - Bass / Backing Vocals
Frank Pane - Guitars / Backing vocals
Paul Morris - Keyboards
Alessandro Del Vecchio - Keyboards, Mix, Mastering



AXEL RUDI PELL - Magic Moments [25th Anniversary Special Show 3CD Box Set] (2015)

AXEL RUDI PELL - Magic Moments [25th Anniversary Special Show 3CD Box Set] (2015) full


AXEL RUDI PELL is celebrating its quarter-century with the Blu ray / DVD / 3CD Box Set "Magic Moments - 25th Anniversary Special Show", out in Scandinavia on April 22nd, in Germany on April 24th, in Europe on April 27th and in the USA on April 28th through SPV/Steamhammer.

Recorded in July of 2014 at the Bang Your Head Festival in Germany, the concert documents Axel Rudi Pell's 25th Anniversary as a solo artist. For the event, he invited a whole host of special guests to play with him and his band over the course of the night including his old band mates from Steeler, a few former band members and a whole myriad of Hard Rock stars.

The first of the 3 CD-set opens up with a total of four Steleer songs. This band was in the same league of Pretty Maids back in the '80s, but with lesser luck. Together 2015 they sound pretty tight and impressive when you bear in mind that they haven’t played together for a 3 decades.
Next we have three songs from Axel’s back catalogue featuring two of his former vocalists, the awesome Rob Rock and Jeff Scott Soto. Rob sings "Nasty Reputation" with power and conviction, but next Soto kicks some serious ass on "Warrior" and "Fool Fool". This man simply Rocks.
Jörg Michael from Stratovarius also guests on these 3 tracks behind the drum kit.

The second disc comprises of a total of 12 songs (two medley) featuring his current band mates including Johnny Gioeli on vocals, Volker Krawczak on bass, Bobby Rondinelli on drums and Ferdy Doernberg on keyboards. Throughout this portion of the show, the band belted out tunes from the newest ARP solo album 'Into the Storm' as well as tunes from past records released in the 21st century.

The band sound extremely tight in both their performance and sound as Ferdy’s keyboards are perfectly tuned to the live sound, while new drummer Bobby Rondinelli shows us what he can do by mixing together his experiences with the bands he has played in.
Gioeli shows us not only his amazing vocal talent as a singer which you can clearly hear on the beautifully haunting cover of the Neil Young classic "Hey Hey My My", but also his charisma as a performer as he knows how to entertain the crowd.

Disc 3 features ARP & Friends performing Classic Hard Rock covers with the performances being divided up amongst various great singers including Ronnie Atkins from Pretty Maids who belted out a terrific cover of "Black Night" from Deep Purple, and John Lawton who rocks in "Sympathy" from his former band Uriah Heep, followed by ZZ Top's "Tush".

A great take on "Mistreated" is shared by Doogie White, Gioeli and Tony Carey, Rainbow's classic "Since You’ve Been Gone" features Graham Bonnet, White & Michael Voss and of course, Axel couldn’t leave it there without paying a tribute to the late great Ronnie James Dio.
“Long Live Rock N’ Roll” from the Dio-Rainbow era was performed with Bonnet, White and Carey in a quite hot triad.

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

Before the show was over, every single musical guest who played with Axel during the set came on stage to belt out a great big group cover of Deep Purple's immortal "Smoke on the Water".
To finish things off and hearing all of those great Hard Rock voices singing such classic song is pretty damn amazing and a track like this is perfect for closing off a special show like Axel’s 25th Anniversary concert.

Overall, this is a pretty impressive recording from Axel Rudi Pell & Friends performing a good, diverse mixture of different songs featuring different performers, most of them in real good form.
Production is fine and polished, perhaps on some parts I would have preferred a little more punch, but all come out loud & clear.
A birthday party couldn't be much better than this. Cheers and to the next 25 years.

Disc: 1
01. Call Her Princess (feat. Steeler)
02. Night After Night (feat. Steeler)
03. Rockin' The City (feat. Steeler)
04. Undercover Animal (feat. Steeler)
05. Nasty Reputation (feat. Rob Rock, Jörg Michael)
06. Warrior (feat. Jeff Scott Soto, Jörg Michael)
07. Fool Fool (feat. Jeff Scott Soto, Jörg Michael)

Disc: 2
1. Burning Chains
2. Strong As A Rock
3. Long Way To Go
4. Hey Hey My My
5. Mystica
6. Into The Storm
7. Too Late / Eternal Prisoner / Too Late
8. The Masquerade Ball / Casbah
9. Rock The Nation

Disc: 3
01. Drum Battle
(feat. Vinny Appice, Bobby Rondinelli)
02. Black Night
(feat. Ronnie Atkins)
03. Sympathy
(feat. John Lawton)
04. Tush
(feat. John Lawton)
05. Mistreated
(feat. Doogie White, Tony Carey, Johnny Gioeli)
06. Since You Been Gone
(feat. Graham Bonnet, Michael Voss, Doogie White)
07. Long Live Rock 'N' Roll
(feat. Doogie White, Graham Bonnet, Tony Carey)
08. Smoke On The Water (all guests)

Axel Rudi Pell - Guitar
Johnny Gioeli - Vocals
Volker Krawczak - Bass
Ferdy Doernberg - Keyboards
Bobby Rondinelli - Drums

Axel Rudi Pell - Guitar
Peter Burtz - Vocals
Tom Eder - Guitar
Roland Hag - Bass
Jan Yildiral - Drums

Special Guests:
Jeff Scott Soto (TALISMAN, W.E.T.) - Vocals
Rob Rock (IMPELLITTERI) - Vocals
John Lawton (URIAH HEEP) - Vocals
Ronnie Atkins (PRETTY MAIDS) - Vocals
Michael Voss (MAD MAX, MSG) - Vocals
Graham Bonnet (RAINBOW) - Vocals
Doogie White (TEMPLE OF ROCK) - Vocals
Tony Carey (ex- RAINBOW) - Vocals & Keyboards
Joerg Michael (STRATOVARIUS) - Drums
Vinny Appice (ex- DIO, BLACK SABBATH) - Drums



RAVEN - ExtermiNation [Digipak +1] (2015)

RAVEN - ExtermiNation [Digipak +1] (2015) full


Really? RAVEN is still alive? Oh yeah, the legendary British cult heavy metal act are releasing a new CD tomorrow entitled “ExtermiNation”. Sorry but I can't help; yes, Raven is cliched, almost laughable at their pose, and if you want, musically outdated, but they are extremely fun and enjoyable.

If by the year 2015 you haven’t heard Raven then it is time to question your Rock credentials. Formed in Newcastle way back in 1974, the band released a triple whammy of cult classic heavy albums Rock Until You Drop, Wiped Out and All for One between 1981 and 1983.
On “ExtermiNation”, they still sound the same, but despite of being an exercise of nostalgia or 'too much old men to rock', the result is fun, fun, fun.
And they are damn fine a their playing, wrapped by a very good recording production.

There are a lot of speed, power and melodic metal bands out there that owe a debt to Raven for paving the way. The band have had one line-up change since 1981 which was in 1987 when drummer Joe Hasselvander (Pentagram, Death Row) joined the band, and they have never compromised their sound.
Raven is traditional heavy metal, at this point, named 'classic rock'.
Yeah, you have pounding drums, screaming guitars and head thumping bass all topped off with John Gallagher’s unmistakable voice.

RAVEN - ExtermiNation [Digipak +1] (2015) inside

“ExtermiNation” is their 13th studio album and first in 6 years, in the interim they have relentlessly toured and recently hooked up again with old sparring partners Metallica for some mega-dome shows in South America.
Due the excellent production for this type of music, on “ExtermiNation” Raven sounds younger, fresher, and more merciless than ever. By employing the formula of hooks and fun), the album just feels incredibly energetic and alive.
If there is one thing that Raven never forgets – it’s that all real Rock music begins with a hook to make it great. It takes more than just 'heaviness', though “ExterminNation” has its fair share of that.

Most of all, they always keep it fun with a healthy dose of rock ‘n’ roll. This formula has endured for the last 35 years and has been the basis for some of the most consistently iconic material in the history of heavy metal. Stacked with amazing hits like “All for One,” “Rock Until You Drop,” “Hell Patrol,” “Mind Over Metal” – most bands would have tried to pass off a half-assed album only to rely on the past glory to garner fan forgiveness.

With tracks like "Fight", "Scream", "Thunder Down Under" and "Feeding the Monster" Raven smashes the metal right in your face in the same classic fashion that the band has done in virtually the entire time heavy metal existed – complete with the auditory activated smell of leather, denim, and sweat and the sensory propagated studs to chin that comes with every exhausting live performance.

RAVEN - ExtermiNation [Digipak +1] (2015) cd photo

“One More Day” highlights Mark Gallagher’s guitar prowess with a tapped intro before a big fat juicy riff comes in for the kill. This song contains some great runs with the band sounding tighter than ever; how John Gallagher gets those high pitched screams nowadays is commendable, many of his peers can only squawk at this stage of the game.
The album is a mix of these slower mid paced rib crackers and the faster material which is more akin to their earlier material. Hasslevander puts in a sterling performance throughout with his trademark heavy hitting and solid double bass.

The production in “ExtermiNation” is big and bold with a bucket load of bottom end, but more importantly it is full of songs - classic heavy metal songs, nothing more nothing less.
If I was to aim criticism at this record, it would be the length and for some folk that may prove a turnoff and they may not give the songs all a fair chance. Some bands try to over complicate things, Raven don’t – they do what they have always done – delivered a hammer to the face.
Go buy and find out what real fun heavy metal is!

01 - Intro / Destroy All Monsters
02 - Tomorrow
03 - Its Not What You Got
04 - Fight
05 - Battle March / Tank Treads (The Blood Runs Red)
06 - Feeding The Monster
07 - Fire Burns Within
08 - Scream
09 - One More Day
10 - Thunder Down Under
11 - No Surrender
12 - Golden Dawn
13 - Silver Bullet
14 - River Of No Return
15 - Malice In Geordieland (Bonus track)

John Gallagher – bass, vocals
Mark Gallagher – guitars
Joe Hasselvander – drums



REVOLVER ELEVEN - Revolver Eleven (2015)

REVOLVER ELEVEN - Revolver Eleven (2015) full


REVOLVER ELEVEN is a new band from the Swedish Hard Rock factory presenting their self-titled debut featuring... yes, 11 tracks. You can't accuse the quintet of being incoherent, isn't it?
Saying that Revolver Eleven comes from a 'factory' may sound as a pre-fabricated product, well, let me tell you these guys deliver a damn fine set of songs '80s inspired, but impregnated with their own touch.

Lately, Sweden seems to be the sacred land for Rock n' Roll, and rarely a band of this genre coming from the Nordic country dos not meet the minimum standards of quality.
Revolver Eleven sounds awesomely for a novel act, and their songs are kick ass.
However, this band from Gothenburg doesn't sound Scandinavian, their brand of catchy hard rock is deeply Americanized in the best L.A. tradition.

Just check the energetic opener "Dangerously Beautiful" where the rattle riff brings to mind the first and good Ugly Kid Joe, and where the chorus / harmony vocal arrangements pay tribute to Van Halen. Then the solo - handled by the skilled twin guitarists - it's like a Warren DeMartini Ratt's circa 1985.
Or taste the kicking follower "Drunk and Confused", a bastard child of Motley Crue and Axl Rose.
Wow, Revolver Eleven are not copy-cats at all, they take these influences and mix-up all with their own, tight delivery. It's amazing how such a young band sound so cohesive and oiled.

More classic LA Hard Rock with lots of melody continues with "Breaking Free", more mid-tempo paced and in a style that would made Firehouse proud. Indeed singer Viktor Ehn has a vocal register similar to CJ Snare. The guitar solo - as on the entire record - swirls in a punchy, awesome spiraling delivery.

The swaggerin' "Midnight Rumble" is fun and rocking, "Rock 'n' Roll Addiction" add a bar-blues, whiskey soaked touch to the record, while the bass pumped "Wicked Woman" invites you to the dance floor (with strippers all around).
"Are You Ready" defies you to sit still via glued steady drums, mammoth bass lines, sharp riffs and gang vocals. A song entitled "Rocks" say it all, and Revolver Eleven go for a jammin' melody again with a Ugly Kid Joe feel.

"Beer Boogie" is a guitar fest with hot melting solos, then "Ghost of Hatred" ends the album with arpeggiated guitars (some Van Halen touches) and a melody impregnated with bluesy flourishes in a midtempo pace which explodes at the end, again, with a terrific guitar work.
Yes, there's no ballads on "Revolver Eleven", this baby is all about to Rock.

REVOLVER ELEVEN - Revolver Eleven (2015) inside

Released yesterday, I am quite surprised that "Revolver Eleven" has not been widely covered by the specialized press. Just search the band at saint g00gle and you will see few hits.
Well, let me tell you Revolver Eleven is a bunch of kick ass, highly professionally trained musicians with all the mojo to play this classic LA Hard Rock to perfection. They sound like a veteran band with years of experience, but with the freshness of youth.
And they have the songs, killer songs for the most part if you ask me.
If the true riffs, swagger and melodies from the better era of Trixter, Ugly Kid Joe, Van Halen, Motley, Ratt, etc are your thing, you better check Revolver Eleven now. A band with an immense, bright future ahead.

01 - Dangerously Beautiful
02 - Drunk and Confused
03 - Breaking Free
04 - Fired Up
05 - Midnight Rumble
06 - Rock 'n' Roll Addiction
07 - Wicked Woman
08 - Are You Ready
09 - Rocks
10 - Beer Boogie
11 - Ghost of Hatred

Vocals: Viktor Ehn
Guitar: Niklas Bäck
Guitar: Michael Bårnsten
Bass: Martin Cederstrand
Drums: Linus Hillerström



TOM PETTY & The Heartbreakers - Into the Great Wide Open [HDtracks remastered 2015]

TOM PETTY & The Heartbreakers - Into the Great Wide Open [HDtracks remastered 2015] front

* is a company that has been out there for a while, offering to audiophile / high-fidelity sound fanatics the chance to get their favorite albums in digital format taken from the Original Master Tapes. It's digital, but in its highest quality possible reaching 192khz / 24bit in some cases.
They have an extensive catalog, as said, all taken from the original tapes in arrangement with the recording companies. Hence, original masters.
But now HDtracks started transfers from fresh remasters recently done, directly taken from the tape-to-digital remaster console.
It is the case with most TOM PETTY & The Heartbreakers discography, and I pick "Into The Great Wide Open" as it's one of my favorite album from the talented singer / songwriter.

This is Remastered 2015 in 96kHz/24bit high definition source HDtracks, and believe me, even converted to regular 44.1kHz compressed files (to listen on your iPod or car) the sound acquires another dimension.
HDtracks files put you in the recording studio with the artists. You will hear exactly what the artists and engineer hear in the studio. It's like watching the highest quality 80 inch Plasma HDTV with a Blu ray as its source.

TOM PETTY & The Heartbreakers - Into the Great Wide Open [HDtracks remastered 2015] master tape 1

Well, speaking about "Into The Great Wide Open", I love it.
Arguably one of the best things which happened to Tom Petty was that he met ELO's Jeff Lynne. Petty purists and lovers of his early music may disagree, but during the mid '80s, Petty was enduring a rather cold winter of music which many music veterans suffer throughout their career.
Jeff Lynne helped put Petty back on track with both Full Moon Fever and this great album, probably one of the best of his career. It also proved that the Lynne/Petty partnership brought about magically extraordinary results.

"Into The Great Wide Open" is a wonderful full sounding rocking album with addictive, professional tunes which entice the listener in. It's got all the great hooks you expect from Lynne, along with the good natured cynicism you get from Petty when he's in form.
Mixed with superb Lynne production and fabulous guitar work from the amazing Mike Campbell you've got a winning and unbeatable team.

Of course, "Learning To Fly" and the title track are bonfide classics that still can be heard on the radio, but there are some real hidden gems here that I am still wondering why they didn't become hit singles.
These include the inspiring "We Will Meet Again", the powerful "Two Gunslingers" and also the upbeat rocker "King's Highway".
In fact, there is not a bad song on the whole album. This is one of those discs that after one or two listens, you'll have most of the songs in your head forever.

TOM PETTY & The Heartbreakers - Into the Great Wide Open [HDtracks remastered 2015] master tape 2

The remastering was done in the fall of 2014 by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering, supervised and approved by Petty. Exclusively on HDtracks, images of the master tapes are included with every download.
VERY Recommended.

01 - Learning To Fly
02 - Kings Highway
03 - Into The Great Wide Open
04 - Two Gunslingers
05 - The Dark Of The Sun
06 - All Or Nothin'
07 - All The Wrong Reasons
08 - Too Good To Be True
09 - Out In The Cold
10 - You And I Will Meet Again
11 - Makin' Some Noise
12 - Built To Last

Tom Petty – vocals, guitars, keyboards, percussion, bass
Mike Campbell – lead guitar, 12-string guitar, bass, keyboards
Howie Epstein – bass, backing vocals
Benmont Tench – keyboards
Stan Lynch – drums, percussion
Roger McGuinn – backing vocal on "All The Wrong Reasons"
Richard Tandy – synthesizer on "Two Gunslingers"
Jeff Lynne – guitars, bass, vocals, piano, synths, sound effects



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

PRETENDERS - Packed! [remastered + bonus] (2015)

PRETENDERS - Packed! [remastered + bonus] (2015) full


The eight PRETENDERS albums released by Warner Bros in the twenty years between 1979 and 1999 are being reissued by Edsel Records as deluxe CD+DVD digipaks. Apart from a fresh remaster, these will boast an enormous amount of bonus material including b-sides, live tracks, remixes, songs for soundtracks, demos and alternate versions.
I always had a soft spot for Pretenders' happy rock&pop tunes, and of course love their '80s hit album Get Close, but I think that their album "Packed!" is the one that deserve to be revisited.

After the commercial orientation of Get Close, 1990's "Packed!" marked a return to the classic Pretenders sound. It doesn't rock quite as hard as their earlier albums, and the original band is completely gone.
But we have the charismatic frontwoman Chrissie Hynde and most important of all; there isn't a bad song here.
General listeners, and even many fans of the band, never heard "Packed!". And it's a shame, because there are some diamonds worth looking for into this album.

PRETENDERS - Packed! [remastered + bonus] (2015) booklet

The CD opens with "Never Do That", a love/hate song featuring clever use of guitar effects, something characteristic of the early Pretenders, and equally clever lyrics.
"Let's Make a Pact" is, for Chrissie Hynde then and now, an uncharacteristically hopeful and touching love song. The album contains several songs in which Chrissie expresses painful vulnerability with regard to her love life, this being the first.
"Millionaires" is a fun rocker and tongue-in-cheek lyrics. It it good to hear Chrissie rocking again in a way she hadn't since the early '80s.

Just as she did on the previous Pretenders album, Hynde has included a Hendrix cover, a sweet version of "May This Be Love", and also there's The Beatles "Not A Second Time", originally a B-side and featured as bonus track here. The reconciliation of both these distinctive approaches to arranging guitar parts provides one of the keys to "Packed!", and Hynde's own increased vocal flexibility and growing fondness for vocal flourishes and embellishments.

PRETENDERS - Packed! [remastered + bonus] (2015) cd photo

"No Guarantee" rocks in the style of the first Pretenders album, while "When Will I See You" is a magnificently-performed, wistful, jangly-guitared love song, and is the first of several songs here that include the pleasures of summer as part of their theme.
"Sense of Purpose" may be the best song on the album. It rocks gently but powerfully, and the lyrics are sublime. There is genuine passion and swagger.
"Downtown" is another really fun song that does try to capture the sound and fury of the first Pretenders album with success, while "How Do I Miss You" slow things in a poppy way.
"Hold a Candle to This" is another rocker in the early '80s female-rock style, then "Criminal" closes the CD with a slowly rocking ballad in which the vocals, if not the lyrics, are sophisticated.

Then we have the bonuses, the aforementioned "Not A Second Time", and "Spirit Of Life", another track originally released as B-side and delivering Hynde's velvety vocals in all its glory.
I love this song, and it's great to see it available again and in a fully remastered sound.

PRETENDERS - Packed! [remastered + bonus] (2015) back cover

"Packed!" is a tuneful, disquieting, tough, sentimental and thoroughly crunchy rock&pop album. All songs are good in this field, perfectly arranged and performed. I think Chrissie Hynde's vocals never sounded better than on this one.
The remastering is awesome, crystal clear and plenty of dynamics. Ah, and you got a bonus DVD with the two official video clips made for this album plus a BBC appearance.
VERY Recommended.

01 - Never Do That
02 - Lets Make A Pact
03 - Millionaires
04 - May This Be Love
05 - No Guarantee
06 - When Will I See You?
07 - Sense Of Purpose
08 - Downtown
09 - How Do I Miss You?
10 - Hold A Candle To This
11 - Criminal
12 - Not A Second Time (B-side) [bonus track]
13 - Spirit Of Life (B-side) [bonus track]

Chrissie Hynde – vocals, guitar
Billy Bremner – guitars, backing vocals
Will MacGregor, John McKenzie, Duane Verh – bass
Blair Cunningham – drums, backing vocals
Mitchell Froom – keyboards
Tchad Blake, David Rhodes – guitar
Dominic Miller – guitar, bass, backing vocals
Tim Finn, Mark Hart, Teo Miller, Adey Wilson – backing vocals



IRIS DIVINE - Karma Sown (2015)

IRIS DIVINE - Karma Sown (2015) full


Virginia-based US progressive metal trio IRIS DIVINE have been together for more than fifteen years but only released and EP and a full CD that I never listened. Now the band are presenting a new album entitled "Karma Sown", and when you hear them you’re simply stunned that they’re not signed to a major label and making a huge impact on the scene.
They’re immensely talented, not content to stay within the genre lines, and have released an album that can go head to head with any of the 'name' prog metal albums this year.

After the first track "The Everlasting Sea" ends to spin, you take notice: these dudes are talented and creative musicians. They weld their instruments like craftsman drawing out rhythms, tones and arrangements that immediately suggest your interest.
Iris Divine's musicianship is pretty technical – that much at least is a requirement in this genre – but not in a way that breaks up the flow of the songs or the intense and emotional atmosphere this album has. They do cut loose on the instrumental "In Spirals" though, and that one will have jaws dropping.

IRIS DIVINE - Karma Sown (2015) inside

Navid Rashid's riffs are abundant being chunky, sharp and moderately d-tuned. His leads, when found, are conjured more from intricacy and subtlety than trying to be some virtuoso. His chord structure and progression seem much more important.
His vocals are also moderate, singing clean for the most part, at places similar to Russell Allen although in different musical concept. Both underneath and swelling around the guitar, the rhythm section offers both groove and intrigue.
Drummer Kris Combs seems to have an easy style, both leading the pace but offering moments of flair. Brian Dobbs's bass playing is sturdy and heavy, but there a times he sounds really flexible and spacey, like within the latter third of "A Suicide Divine" or "In Spirals".

Thanks to their sense of melody, groove, accessibility or complexity of their progressive metal, Iris Divine keeps you interested all the time. Most songs pull you right in and simply ask you to listen, contemplate, and hang the hell on.
I'll admit I favored the songs were the melody was more prominent or catchy as with "Fire of the Unknown" or "A Suicide Aware". Other songs, like "Apathy Rains" and "Prisms", where the heaviness stomps on the melody, not so much. But they're still intriguing tunes.
"Karma Sown" is a very cohesive overall experience that works best taken as a whole, preferably when you can listen to it without distractions and really take everything in.

IRIS DIVINE - Karma Sown (2015) back

With luck, "Karma Sown" will be the album that brings Iris Divine to the attention of the larger progressive metal audience (and perhaps the right people at InsideOut or a similar label).
It’s one of the most striking and entertaining albums from the genre I heard recently, carefully honed by these three talented musicians.
Very Recommended.

01 - The Everlasting Sea
02 - Fire of the Unknown
03 - A Suicide Aware
04 - Mother's Prayer
05 - Prisms
06 - In Spirals
07 - Apathy Rains
08 - In the Wake of Martyrs

Navid Rashid (Vocals, Guitars)
Brian Dobbs (Bass)
Kris Combs (Drums, Keyboards, Programming)



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

ACCEPT - Russian Roulette [Cherry Red remastered & expanded]

ACCEPT - Russian Roulette [Cherry Red remastered & expanded] full


Cherry Red / Hear No Evil Records have been doing a terrific job lately remastering classic albums with the same quality standards of colleagues like Rock Candy or YesterRock. Among the revisited bands they reissued, there is ACCEPT's truly classic '80s albums with expanded artwork and bonus material (two of them featured here on the blog).
Now we are presenting "Russian Roulette" remastered & expanded, an album that proved once more that if fiery melodic Teutonic metallic hard rock was what you hankered for, then nobody did it better than Accept.

With a history that could be traced back to, believe it or not, 1976, this German five-piece had made their presence known between 1979 and '81 with three confident, if not quite fully formed albums (Accept '79, I'm A Rebel '80 and Breaker '81), before Restless And Wild exploded a harsher, more individual sound on the world in '82, and Balls To The Wall confirmed their class a year later.
It was with Metal Heart in 1985 however that this outfit really hit paydirt, a new strident mix of Metal, Melody and Classical motifs suddenly announcing that Accept had arrived.

Which brings us to 1986's "Russian Roulette" and this excellent Cherry Red reissue which finds the original ten RR tracks joined by a further three live efforts which can originally be found on the 1990 live album, Staying A Life.
By this stage the Accept sound was virtually set in stone, strafing riffs, tight beats and barking vocals strutting and posturing with a real sense of intent. There's little doubt that without this band, the German Power Metal scene would look very, very different these days.

"T.V. War" roars from the start taking no prisoners, while the catchy yet melodic follower "MonsterMan" it's a classic hymn with equally effective end results, before the atmospheric title track "Russian Roulette" showcases the mighty martial backing vocals this band did so well.
"It's Hard To Find A Way" is a KILLER (with capitals) mid-tempo melodic hard rocker with a pulsating rhythm, and next the massive "Aiming High" raises the bar even more, if that's possible.
If you need more quality hard rock, check the fantastic "Another Second To Be" and its massive pre-chorus/chorus. Or the superb vibe of "Walking In The Shadows".

Honoured by the time of its release by legendary Kerrang! Magazine with four and a half 'K stars', "Russian Roulette" is pure gold.
This excellent reissue from Cherry Red / HNE provides a full punchy sound that Accept music always needed with mastering courtesy of Andy Pearce, while adding excellent liner notes by Malcolm Dome which feature contributions from Kaufmann and Hoffmann, as well as vintage pictures and Tour booklet photos.

The three live tracks also add value, even if with them being not quite from the time of this album (they were recorded the year before "Russian Roulette" was released).
"Russian Roulette" never quite hit the commercial success that Metal Heart had for Accept, but as this reissue proves, it was every bit as powerful, memorable and hard hitting. It remains a must hear for Euro-Metal heads everywhere.

ACCEPT - Russian Roulette [Cherry Red remastered & expanded] back

As final statement, I must say that I love Accept's break-through album Balls To The Wall considered by most people as their best, but this "Russian Roulette" is their finest moment in my opinion.
This album combines like-no-other metallic edge with super slick melodies, catchy choruses and a clean, bright 1986 trademark production (the classic team Michael Wagener engineering & Bob Ludwig mastering) .
So if your ears are more Melodic Rock oriented and Accept are not part of your musical diet, please believe me and listen this album immediately. Remember; 1986 major production, and then tell me.
In this genre, a Masterpiece.

01 - T.V. War
02 - Monsterman
03 - Russian Roulette
04 - It's Hard To Find A Way
05 - Aiming High
06 - Heaven Is Hell
07 - Another Second To Be
08 - Walking In The Shadow
09 - Man Enough To Cry
10 - Stand Tight
11 - Neon Nights [Live] (Bonus Track)
12 - Burning [Live] (Bonus Track)
13 - Head Over Heels [Live] (Bonus Track)

Udo Dirkschneider – vocals
Wolf Hoffmann – guitars
Jörg Fischer – guitars
Peter Baltes – bass guitar
Stefan Kaufmann – drums



ACCEPT - Objection Overruled [remastered 2015]

ACCEPT - Objection Overruled [remastered 2015] full


Cherry Red / Hear No Evil Records have been doing a terrific job lately remastering classic albums with the same quality standards of colleagues like Rock Candy or YesterRock. Last year they reissued, among others, some of the best records of ACCEPT (two of them featured on the blog).
Now, on April 6th, 2015, it's time for "Objection Overruled".

With expanded artwork, and liner notes by Malcolm Dome based on new interviews with the band, this remastered reissue of "Objection Overruled" is a worthy addition to Accept's HNE catalogue.
After conquering the rock world with their own teutonic brand of melodic heavy metal in the '80s with 'Balls To The Wall' and 'Metal Heart', Accept parted ways with original singer Udo Dirkschneider following the release of 1986's 'Russian Roulette' (to be featured here soon).
Dirkschneider decided to embark on what would become a largely successful solo career, marking the final album to feature Accept’s original frontman until this 1993’s "Objection Overruled".

Accept was put on hold by the core duo of Peter Baltes (bass) and Wolf Hoffmann (guitar) in 1990, and it took 3 years to all members to reconnect again. Udo Dirkschneider also agreed to team up once more under the Accept banner and this time, unusually, as a one guitar quartet.
"Objection Overruled" was the result and at the time the Rock press seemed pretty nonplussed by an album that was accused of being Accept by numbers.
Yet listening to the likes of "Bulletproof", "Slaves To Metal", the title track and especially "I Don't Wanna Be Like You" afresh, there's no denying the criticism was harsh. Yes, the musical climate was different in '93, but man, these songs a great. And pure classic Accept.

ACCEPT - Objection Overruled [remastered 2015] booklet

"Objection Overruled" did exactly what was intended, by announcing that Accept were not only back, but back as we knew them – leaders of the European metallic hard rock scene and the inspiration for a whole host of classically inclined heavies.
How much any of Hoffmann's guitar partners contributed to Accept as a studio outfit was always something open to question, so there was no noticeable difference to him working alone on the album. Hence the riffs are as big and thick as anything experienced on Balls To The Wall, Metal Heart or Breaker, while Udo had lost none of his authoritative bark.

Baltes and Kaufmann were also fired up, the drums positively batter ramming their way into your head, while the bass thrummed with a serious, threatening intensity.
Admittedly the slower "Amamos La Vida" may prove an acquired taste, yet for those who buy into Udo's strangely seductive, if unsteady, clean delivery, will find a song of real passion and heart.
However it is the foot to the floor riff-a-rolla that will get most frothing, with "Sick, Dirty And Mean" and the awesome "This One's For You" prime examples of the sound for which this band are so renowned.

ACCEPT - Objection Overruled [remastered 2015] back

This HNE / Cherry Red reissue unfortunately adds nothing in the way of bonuses, however a skilled remaster from Andy Pearce brings extra bite, while liner notes by respected Rock scribe Malcolm Dome featuring retrospective thoughts from both Hoffmann and Kaufmann add value.
"Objection Overruled" was a criminally underrated and iniquity criticized at its time, but it's a great rockin' album featuring some killer songs.
If you were in 1993 with your musical tastes somewhere else or you listened to the criticism of the time and have as a result always dismissed this album, you really should do yourself a favour and right that wrong as soon as possible.
VERY Recommended.

01 - Objection Overruled
02 - I Don't Wanna Be Like You
03 - Protectors Of Terror
04 - Slaves To Metal
05 - All Or Nothing
06 - Bulletproof
07 - Amamos La Vida
08 - Sick, Dirty And Mean
09 - Donation
10 - Just By My Own
11 - This One's For You

Udo Dirkschneider – vocals
Wolf Hoffmann – guitars, cover photo
Peter Baltes – bass
Stefan Kaufmann – drums



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