Tuesday, June 30, 2015

EDEN (Italy) - Eden (2015)

EDEN (Italy) - Eden (2015) full


Formed in Rome, Italy, in 2011, EDEN is a new quintet which are presenting their self-produced / self-released debut, in their own words, influenced by great acts such as Europe, Journey, Survivor, Europe, etc.
And they don't lie, believe me.

Yeah, these legendary band's influences are unashamedly present on "Eden", but who cares when are blended with this quality. On the other hand, which band of this genre - read pure '80s AOR - at some point, does not sound like these referential acts?
The first thing that impress here is the very good production obtained by the guys. The rhythm section is clear and punchy, the guitars sharp and the vocals, including the elaborated 5-part harmonies (all members contribute) are great!

EDEN (Italy) - Eden (2015) inside

And the songs... you may be influenced by many artists, but if you do net own the talent to craft a good song, you're lost. Not the case with Eden.
The guys have penned some memorable tunes if you ask me.
Just check the glorious atmospheres of "Dreamin’, the Jorney-esque catchiness of "Fear Has Gone", and the pump of "I Know You Know" (which reminds me of Da Vinci). It has to be said, all tracks are heavily keyboard-driven plenty of flourishes and candy-floss all over.

The highly harmonized "My Time" is a mid-tempo with mysterious synths and an overall Scandinavian feel, followed by the more uptempo "Enemy" akin Europe (and why not mid-eighties Pretty Maids), and "Feel the Fire" adds a classic touch to the proceedings thanks to vintage keys.
"A Change in Life" is a lovely ballad (great pianos), then closer "Into the Night" ends the CD in a pretty epic fashion full of anthemic choruses and again, elaborated harmony vocals.

EDEN (Italy) - Eden (2015) cd photo

Usually a first, well done self-managed album is the antechamber for greater things to come, with many specialized labels interested in the band.
In the case of Italians Eden, this is true too, but their self-titled debut is already a mature product that deserves a place into your rockin' AOR collection NOW. Seriously, these guys are more than a promise, they are already a great combo creating some memorable melodies and sing-along choruses.
Don't miss "Eden", the highly enjoyable debut by these Italians with a brilliant future ahead.
Highly Recommended.

01. Sounds from Eden
02. Dreamin’
03. Fear Has Gone
04. I Know You Know
05. My Time
06. Enemy
07. Feel the Fire
08. A Change in Life
09. The Call
10. Into the Night

Patrizio Izzo: Lead Vocals
Paolo Castellani: Keyboards & Backing Vocals
Stefano Mastrangeli: Guitars & Backing Vocals
Giordano Latini: Bass & Backing Vocals
Alessandro Iovannitti: Drums, Percussion & Backing Vocals



HUNGRYHEART - Dirty Italian Job (2015)

HUNGRYHEART - Dirty Italian Job (2015) full


I was waiting for many moons forthe new album by HUNGRYHEART, as the guys are without a doubt one of the finest Melodic Hard Rock act coming out from central Europe. Led by guitarist Mario Percudani and with more than 20 years of existence, "Dirty Italian Job" it's only the third album by Hungryheart, not the most productive band if you ask, but as on the previous, these guys never disappoint.

Both first Hungryheart albums (2008, 2010) made a big impact to the Melodic Hard Rock / AOR world, great samples of pure late '80s / early '90s sound & style with a fresh approach and most of all; with strong songs.
Yes, this band knows how to deliver well crafted songs with strong arrangements, catchy hooks & choruses, a crunchy guitar sound and powerful vocals.
One of the reasons of the pretty delayed new CD is that these guys are experienced and extremely talented musicians really busy in the musical business, having played and collaborated with big names of this genre such as House of Lords, Mitch Malloy, Bobby Kymball, Vinny Appice, Issa, Kelly Keeling and many others.

"Dirty Italian Job" was produced Mario Percudani himself - if this name does not ring a bell on you, he has co-produced the last records of Lionville, Mitch Malloy, Ted Poley, Axe, and more, so, we're talking about a serious cat here.
Additionally, talented Alessandro Del Vecchio contributes keyboards, and the album has been mastered by senior engineer Brad Vance (Foreigner, Mr. Big, Ritchie Blackmore) at Red Mastering Studio, California.

From the start, Hungryheart makes clear they are a classy Melodic Hard / AOR act, kicking-off with the really '80s uptempo rocker "There Is A Reason For Everything", fueled by a big groove, Josh Zighetti's smooth vocals and Mario's superb guitar lines.
"Back To The Real Life" sounds like it jumped out from Bon Jovi's New Jersey album while in "Nothing But You" the band delivers a great ballad. In "Shoreline", the first single, we have a killer melodic rock anthem and one of the highlights.

"Devil's Got My Number" is another groovy rocker driven by contagious riff, while "Nothing But You" is a compelling ballad adding cool acoustics.
With "Bad Love"(Eric Clapton cover) the boys take this already classic rock track, they put their personal identity, heart & soul and make it even better than the original. Brilliant version.
The bluesier "Second Hand Love", the rockier "Right Now" and the beautiful midtempo AOR "You Can Run" are yet more highlights from the new record.
Closer "All Over Again" mixes Hungryheart strengths into one song, timeless melodic rock with and AOR with an unmistakable late '80s feeling full of charm.

HUNGRYHEART - Dirty Italian Job (2015) inside

"Dirty Italian Job" sums up greatly all the stupendous attributes of Hungryheart, simply put, one of the best Melodic Hard Rock acts you'll find out there nowadays.
It's their more mature record to date, no filler in sight here, just quality stuff played with heart & soul that will please each and every single fan of this genre.
Highly Recommended.

01. There Is A Reason For Everything
02. Back To The Real Life
03. Shoreline
04. Nothing But You
05. Devil's Got My Number
06. Bad Love
07. Second Hand Love
08. Time For The Letting Go
09. Right Now
10. You Can Run
11. Rock Steady
12. All Over Again

Josh Zighetti: Lead & Backing Vocals
Mario Percudani: Guitars, Backing Vocals, Lead on 4, 7
Stefano Scola: Bass
Paolo Botteschi: Drums
Paolo Apollo Negri: keyboards on 2, 7, 10
Alessandro Del Vecchio: keyboards on 1, 4, 6, 8
Giulio Garghentini: backing vocals on 8



Monday, June 29, 2015

NIVA - Relievin' Rain (2015)

NIVA - Relievin' Rain (2015) full


Swedish singer Tony Niva is a veteran musician who started his musical career in 1987 fronting many cult bands such as Zanity, Swedish Erotica and Axia but he's probably best known for being the lead singer in Lion's Share.
But Tony's very own baby is NIVA, the band he started in 1993 and released a highly praised album before putting the project on hold for many years to sing in Lion's Share. Niva as band returned four years ago releasing 3 stupendous Melodic Hard Rock albums (featured here on the blog) but there was another album recorded in 1995 after the first but never released.
While waiting the brand new NIVA album this year, Tony is releasing through his own label this 'lost recording', entitled "Relievin' Rain".

The present musical path of NIVA is elaborated Melodic Hard Rock, however in its origins the band was heavier, with a strong European Hard Rock edge. This style was predominant on the debut, and of course also on this "Relievin' Rain" recorded after around 1995-96.
Here Tony's voice sounds more powerful than today and the band, punchier. At the time of the recording the only stable members were guitarist Robert Jacobsson and bass player Peter Anderson, both onthe debut CD too.

The songs "Relievin' Rain" are rockin' and groovy, like "Save My Soul", "Rainbow Man" or "Falling Down", the latter with Tony Niva sounding a lot as Mats Leven, and musically, like Lion's Share.
Other cuts are even heavier, close to melodic metal ("Burn the Bridge"), others pretty experimental like the crazy heavy of "Freakshow".

NIVA - Relievin' Rain (2015) inside

The more Melodic Hard oriented track is "Wings of Freedom", a dynamic song driven by arpeggiated guitars and nice verses in the vein of Michael Bormann's Charade.

The press release says; "Expecting something different from Niva? Then this release is for you!".
Well, it's absolutely right, "Relievin' Rain" is not the Melodic Rock affair of recent Niva, this is a different beast, harder, groovier and... darker.
Despite of being shelved back in the day, it was not due a poor production: everything here sounds perfectly recorded and clearly mixed.
It's, indeed, a different side from Niva.

01. Relievin' Rain
02. Save My Soul
03. Lying To Get Your Trust
04. Freakshow
05. Rainbow Man
06. No mans Land
07. Wings of Freedom
08. Eternal Flame
09. Burn the Bridge
10. Falling Down
11. Middle of Nowhere

Tony Niva - vocals, keyboards
Robert Jacobsson - guitars
Peter Anderson - bass
Anders Biederbeck - keyboards
Dan Götensten - drums



Sunday, June 28, 2015

DRIVE, SHE SAID - Drivin' Wheel +3 (AOR Heaven Classix digitally remastered) [2015]

DRIVE, SHE SAID - Drivin' Wheel +3 (AOR Heaven Classix digitally remastered) [2015] full


Specialized German label AOR Heaven, through their 'AOR Heaven Classix' series, has reissued Digitally Remastered with bonus tracks the first two -and best- DRIVE, SHE SAID albums.

This New York based AOR project was initially put together as a solo venture by former American Tears and pomp giants Touch leader, the talented singer, keyboardist and composer Mark Mangold. But soon lead vocalist / multi-instrumentalist Al Fritsch joined the project, and Drive She Said born.
Although both play most of the instruments, several first class session cats and artists provided their skills on both records.
"Drivin' Wheel" was the second effort from Drive She Said, and my favorite. But to be honest, both first records from Mangold / Fritsch are pure Melodic Rock / AOR gems.

Follow-up to the majestic self-titled debut, "Drivin' Wheel" is much harder at times which perfectly fits the two main protagonists and their fellow musicians like guitarist Tony Bruno of Danger Danger fame, Canadian melodic rock icon Aldo Nova, From The Fire's bassist Paul St. James, or Fiona & Benny Mardones on backing vocals among others.

With a vocal style like a cross between Lou Gramm & Joe Lynn Turner, Al Fritsch's leads soar on all tracks, perfectly complemented by Mangold backing vocal harmonies & keyboard flurries, plus a sharp guitar work of all involved.
On songs like "Veil Of Tears", title track "Drivin' Wheel", the diamond "Hard To Hold" (with great guitars by Aldo Nova) or "It Just Keeps Comin" (just check Tony Bruno's awesome guitar solo), Drive She Said sounds quite Melodic Hard, akin Foreigner.

But Mangold can't fight with his AOR heart, and the awesome opener "Think Of Love" and the terrific, pure '80s mid-tempo atmosphere of "It's Gonna Take A Miracle" are the highlights. Both alone worth this album, but there's more!
Just check the superb ballad "When You Love Someone" (with Benny Mardones contributing greatly), the melodic rock version of Bad Company's "Can't Get Enough", or the anthemic "Just For The Moment".

DRIVE, SHE SAID's "Drivin' Wheel" is not usually mentioned on Melodic Rock / AOR 'top of all time lists', but it's a genre milestone. All tracks a simply awesome, the arrangements are unique, and the melodies top notch.
Digitally Remastered by Chris Lyne, this AOR Heaven remaster sounds fantastic, and we have 3 excellent previously unreleased tracks (really good pre-production sound). Don't miss the 'action movie AOR' of "Never Say Never"... its title says all.

"Drivin' Wheel +3 AOR Heaven Classix" is strictly limited to 500 copies, so do not waste more time and grab you copy NOW, this is a MUST HAVE in any Melodic Hard Rock / AOR collection.

01 - Think Of Love
02 - Drivin' Wheel
03 - Hard To Hold
04 - When You Love Someone
05 - Can't Get Enough
06 - Veil Of Tears
07 - It's Gonna Take A Miracle
08 - It Just Keeps Comin'
09 - Just For The Moment
10 - Do You Believe
11 - Never Say Never [bonus track]
12 - You Never Know With Magic [bonus track]
13 - Hold My Heart [bonus track]

Al Fritsch; vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards
Mark Mangold: keyboards, backing vocals, drums

Tony Bruno: guitar on tracks 2, 4, 8
Aldo Nova: guitar on track 3
Paul St. James: bass on tracks 1,2 6
Rick Kolster: 12-string guitar on track 3
Ray DeTone: additional guitars on track 8
Benny Mardones: backing vocals track 4
Fiona: backing vocals tracks 8, 10
George Morton, Perrita Kitson, Mike Charzuk: backing vocals



Saturday, June 27, 2015

VICIOUS RUMORS - Vicious Rumors [Rock Candy remaster] (2015)

VICIOUS RUMORS - Vicious Rumors [Rock Candy remaster] (2015) full


Another band that should have been far more successful than they were is rescued by Rock Candy specialists with a superb remastering of their self-titled debut: VICIOUS RUMORS.
Californians Vicious Rumors started out on the Shrapnel / Roadrunner imprint before landing a major label deal with Atlantic (resulting in two studio albums and a live). Though their second album Digital Dictator had been excellent, this 1990's "Vicious Rumors" effort was simply fantastic, the very peak of the band's career.

It's well known that the San Francisco Bay Area produced many fine bands during the '60s and '70s, but they were almost exclusively in a psychedelic or hippy-trippy folk style.
However, by the 1980s the pendulum was swinging towards heavier rock acts, a scene led by the emergence of local thrash and power metal mavericks, including Metallica, Exodus and Testament. It was a surprising turn of events but one that provided a healthy, some might say insatiable, taste amongst a new breed of fans for fast and furious shredding.
Vicious Rumors were one of the pioneering acts of the Bay Area scene and, despite their uncompromising style, they also earned a well deserved reputation as the thinking man’s metal / hard rock outfit.

Never afraid to infuse their sound with intricate twists and turns, the musicianship indicated that they might have had more in common with progressive sounds than pure metal.
Indeed, guitarist Mark McGee had actually been a member of Pomp prog gods Starcastle for a brief moment in time. Progressing through two independent albums and gaining a solid following, they eventually signed a major deal with industry heavyweights Atlantic Records and cut this self titled album in San Francisco.

Issued in 1990, it is a record of extreme maturity, harnessing their heavy riffs onslaught with precision and force.
"Don't Wait for Me" throws the album immediately into cruise mode. Catchy melodic backups singer Carl Albert - owner of a tremendous mid-ranged and melodic voice with an edge - during the bridge, before the explosive gang backing vocals during the main chorus.
"World Church" barrels along a little more slowly, but strikes out again with an infectious chorus with harmony shouts (this band has always had the huge catchy chorus down pat, even on the more recent albums).
These are both great songs, but neither could prepare you for "On the Edge", which is simply put one of the most fantastic melodic metal songs ever, with its unforgettable riffing and Albert hitting high notes.

But "Vicious Rumors" isn't finished yet. "Ship of Fools" creates an epic hard rock equation, it's almost like a power ballad but without the sugary. "Can You Hear It" once again creates hard rock bliss in a metal shell, with a chorus that one could easily imagine Rob Halford, Ronnie James Dio or Ozzy belting out.
"Down to the Temple" is a little heavier but keeps the same mid-pace of the previous two tracks. Not to fear, the great acoustic intro of "Hellraiser" betrays a raging beast almost on par with "On the Edge".

VICIOUS RUMORS - Vicious Rumors [Rock Candy remaster] (2015) inside

The quality of "Vicious Rumors" is still impresses to this day.
The record has that big budget '80s polished sound, everything on the album sounds fantastic and the vocals cut right through, part knife part red alert. The songs are uniformly killer, all exciting and glossy.

I can see why Rock Candy has decided to remaster "Vicious Rumors" (they usually work with Melodic Hard Rock acts): despite of being and album firmly planted into US Metal style, it's extremely melodic, catchy, and sonically bombastic.
Yes, melodic rockers & traditional hard rock fans need to check this one. If you've ever wanted to check this band out, or never heard about them, start here. You won't be disappointed.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Don't Wait For Me
02 - World Church
03 - On The Edge
04 - Ship Of Fools
05 - Can You Hear It
06 - Down To The Temple
07 - Hellraiser
08 - Electric Twilight
09 - Thrill Of The Hunt
10 - Axe And Smash

Carl Albert – lead & backing vocals
Geoff Thorpe – guitars, producer
Mark McGee – guitars, mandolin, backing vocals
Dave Starr – bass
Larry Howe – drums



THE KNACK - Zoom [Expanded Edition remastered] (2015)

THE KNACK - Zoom [Expanded Edition remastered] (2015) full


US power pop / rockers THE KNACK blasted onto the music scene in the very late seventies with their #1 selling debut album Get The Knack, which featured their most popular single 'My Sharona'. As quickly as the band's career took off, they disbanded just as quickly in 1982 after failing to re-capture the success of their debut album.
After almost a decade, The Knack re-grouped to record and release the 1991 record Serious Fun. The band would find success with the re-discovery of their hit single 'My Sharona' featured in the 1994 Generation-X movie Reality Bites'. Building upon that success, The Knack re-entered the studio to record the album "Zoom" (1998) and "Normal As The Next Guy" (2001).
To celebrate the band's final three albums, Omnivore Recordings is reissuing all on CD with bonus tracks.
This is the best, "Zoom [Expanded Edition remastered]", featuring 5 bonus tracks – four of which are previously unreleased.

Seven years after the failed comeback Serious Fun, The Knack reunited with new drummer Terry Bozzio (of Frank Zappa and Missing Persons fame) in tow and recorded "Zoom".
Sounding like a re-energized and de-glammy version of debut Get The Knack, "Zoom" is the best album the maligned power-pop band has recorded since their debut.

Doug Fieger's songwriting is sharp and melodic and the band delivers the tunes with vigor. A few cuts are a little undistinguished, but there are more solid, memorable songs here than on most of their albums, and that alone makes it a successful comeback.

Despite of being originally released in 1998, "Zoom" has a clean, polished, fun rock sound amongst a grunge-filled musical period. The band's energy and songwriting was at an all-time high as you find yourself rocking out to these classic sounding numbers.

THE KNACK - Zoom [Expanded Edition remastered] (2015) inside

While fans will enjoy re-discovering this really good album in remastered form, the bonus tracks are what they will be most excited about. Included on the expanded edition of "Zoom" is the song "She Says," recorded for The Knack's 1998 Greatest Hits release, but even more enjoyable for fans are the demo versions of three songs from the album.
The best of these is the raw sounding "Harder On You" as it has an urgency to its sound in the demo form. This Expanded Edition of "Zoom" closes with a previously unissued version of "My Sharona," re-recorded with Terry Bozzio on drums.
A really great slice of power-pop / rock 'n roll as it should be done.

01 - Pop Is Dead
02 - Can I Borrow a Kiss
03 - Smilin'
04 - Ambition
05 - Mister Magazine
06 - Everything I Do
07 - Love Is All There Is
08 - Terry & Julie Step Out
09 - Harder On You
10 - You Gotta Be There
11 - Good Enough
12 - In Blue Tonight
13 - Tomorrow
14 - (All in The) All in All
15 - She Says [bonus track]
16 - Mister Magazine (Demo) [bonus track]
17 - Harder On You (Demo) [bonus track]
18 - (All in The) All in All (Demo) [bonus track]

Doug Fieger - vocals, guitar
Berton Averre - guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Prescott Niles - bass
Terry Bozzio - drums, percussion



Friday, June 26, 2015

THE PROPHETS OF ADDICTION - Reunite The Sinners (2015)

THE PROPHETS OF ADDICTION - Reunite The Sinners (2015) full


THE PROPHETS OF ADDICTION is lead by singer, bass player & songwriter Lesli Sanders, that once became one of the bassists in Pretty Boy Floyd's revolving door line-up. But this is just for the curriculum vitae, as apart some glammy image, The Prophets Of Addiction have a much different sound.
"Reunite The Sinners" is the second effort from The Prophets Of Addiction, just released before embarking into an European tour.

The press has likened The Prophets Of Addiction with early Guns 'n Roses, Motley Crue, LA Guns, Hanoi Rocks, Lords of the New Church, etc. Yes, their first album was pretty raw in the vein of the aforementioned acts, and while you still can hear some of these on "Reunite The Sinners", this is a much more mature release.
The recording was guided and mixed by former Ozzy Osbourne, Vince Neil, John Waite, Steve Lukather (et all) bassist Phil Soussan, and you can feel his refined touch.
I listened The Prophets Of Addiction first album, and this "Reunite The Sinners" is quite more polished in terms of songwriting and musical delivering.

As said, the music of The Prophets Of Addiction still retain some proto-glam feeling, but now with a melodic / pop atmosphere. This turn the songs easy to the ears, I think 'cool' is the word.
This is evident since opener "As We Fall", a clean catchy rocker with open guitar riffs, some keyboards in the background and Sanders' glammy vocals much more 'melodic'.
Next "Welcome to the Show" is an ode to the Sunset Strip days done with a great rhythm and a punchy production. Great song.

"Kings and Queens" starts with some kind of strings arrangement and a moody pace akin Enuff Z'Nuff mixed with commercial period of Hanoi Rocks. A very interesting track showing that The Prophets Of Addiction is a mature Rock act with substance.
There's a very groovy and melodic guitar solo courtesy of Poison's C.C. DeVille (who also deliver others throughout the album).

THE PROPHETS OF ADDICTION - Reunite The Sinners (2015) inside

On "Razor's Edge" I can see why the band has a strong cult base in UK as this song sounds like early The Cult / The Lords Of The New Church with a mysterious atmosphere.
We find more quality numbers on the sleazy "Spare the Bullets" (reminds me Vain), the poppy "Heart of Mine" (some Iggy Pop on it, very catchy), the riff-driven "Postcards from the Grave" and the groovy title track "Reunite the Sinners", featuring a detailed background synth arrangement.
Closer "Exist" is an acoustically driven slow tune - not a ballad - very atmospheric and with an intimate touch.

Lesli Sanders may have ransacked his mother's make-up drawer years back, but with The Prophets Of Addiction he proves that there is more to him than just image.
To be honest I was looking forward to reviewing "Reunite The Sinners" but dreading it at the same time; 'just another sleazy revival'. I was seriously wrong.
From the opening song I was hooked with this CD - rocking and with a 'raw attitude' at places, but far from ordinary. All tracks are cleverly arranged, including nice effects, embellished with synths, precise instrumentation, and really well produced / mixed.
VERY Recommended.

01 - As We Fall
02 - Welcome to the Show
03 - Kings and Queens
04 - Razor's Edge
05 - Spare the Bullets
06 - Heart of Mine
07 - Postcards from the Grave
08 - Last of the Words
09 - Reunite the Sinners
10 - Exist

Lesli Sanders - vocals, bass
Lee Taylor - guitar, vocals
Mckenna (Sweep) Gates - guitar
Jimmy Mess - drums
C.C. DeVille - various guitar solos



Thursday, June 25, 2015

SPEARFISH - In the Meantime... (2015)

SPEARFISH - In the Meantime... (2015) full


Swedish trio SPEARFISH have been together for more than twenty years, sporadically releasing albums because they are mainly session musicians and all are members of Australian star Jon English touring band.
So with the proper title "In the Meantime...", Spearfish has released a new album including songs composed by themselves in between gigs and sessions.

First of all don't be afraid by the insipid cover artwork; Spearfish plays Melodic Rock with the classic rock sound of all life plus some progressive bits and hard rock touches.
Guitarist Peter Lundin delivers a very traditional playing in the Neal Schon mould, on the few harder songs influenced by Ritchie Blackmore but its melodic period with the 'Americanized' Rainbow, while singer Thomas Thulin (who also play bass) owns a vocal timbre similar to Rush's Geddy Lee during the '80s, mixed with Mark Slaughter.
This makes some tracks sounding like Californian Melodic Rock, but also some Eighties Rush / Saga. In fact Spearfish does here a cover of Rush's "New World Man".

But overall, the sound on "In the Meantime..." is Melodic Rock / Classic Rock with nice melodies, choruses and rhythms.
The songs on the album seem as balance between the rocking / sharp and more moderate and melodious. To the former 'Put Me Down, Diamond', 'South', the moving 'Conclusion', 'Hawks Of War' are representative, lots of strong riffage and a heavier bottom end with a bit of late seventies feel.

SPEARFISH - In the Meantime... (2015) inside

For the more melodic rock moments we have opener 'Quicksilver Linings', the lovely 'Gazing at the Moon', and midtempo 'Time Will Come'. Closing 'Under a Bourbon Sky' stars slowly invoking piano, acoustic guitar, even some progressive notes at time. But after the lighter start, cranks up with fiery guitar solo in the second half, resulting in one of the more interesting tracks.

"In the Meantime..." delivers well-crafted and entertaining melodic hard rock, with a sound leaning more to classic rock.
The musicians in Spearfish are really good at their game. The guitar lines are sharp and lively with solid leads, from smooth to soaring, while the vocals, which may sound atypical at first listen, are quite melodic and with well arranged harmonies. Frankly, and not dismissing the importance of the rhythm section, for Spearfish, the guitar and vocal parts are the key assets, the definitive parts, of most every song.
Production is good, it could be more bright, but I am sure this is the sound the musicians wanted; warmer like in the classic rock seventies / eighties era.
After a couple of listens, I liked "In the Meantime..." a lot.

01 - Quicksilver Linings
02 - Put Me Down, Diamond
03 - South
04 - Gazing At the Moon
05 - Inspiration
06 - Ursus Polaris
07 - Conclusion
08 - Hawks of War
09 - Gangsta City Blues
10 - Time Will Come
11 - New World Man
12 - Under a Bourbon Sky

Thomas Thulin - Lead Vocals, Bass
Peter Lundin - Guitars, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Johan Sterner - Drums, Percussion



KINGCROW - Eidos (2015)

KINGCROW - Eidos (2015) inside


Following the good world-wide response of their previous album (featured here on the blog), Rome, Italy-based progressive metal sextet KINGCROW returns with "Eidos", their brand new album released today.
Musically it sees the band exploring new territories and pushing the extremes of its complex soundscape with a darker atmosphere and a more progressive attitude.

Indeed, KingCrow is not the typical prog metal, in fact I would call them just progressive. We found strong metal riffs and some pounding drumming on "Eidos", but also highly melodic passages, pianos, and even saxophone on one track.
They mix not-too-heavy with not-too-light, and so hold appeal to those whose tastes shift between heavy progressive rock and lighter, melodic progressive metal. It is, most importantly, a modern progressive sound and style.
So open your ears and enjoy this elaborated album.

"Eidos" flows like the Mediterranean Ocean but there are constant surprises, delights and deep moments along the way. The songs all have movement but above all subtlety as if breezes come along and divert the course.
'The Moth' 'sets the scene for the rest of this sophisticated progressive adventure. Kingcrow take us down their own gilt-edged path with their captivating song structures, subtly magical patterns and natural-sounding emotional intensity. The instruments speak. The vocalist may not be one to exaggerate but has a natural tone which conveys a richness of emotion and matches the music perfectly.

KINGCROW - Eidos (2015) inside

'Adrift' starts off with acoustic guitars, whilst the solo vocal is replaced by choirs with a rising tension. It then bounces back to the acoustic side, and crawls out in a typical Kingcrow way to some screaming riffing with fantastic changing rhythms.

These astonishing tracks are followed by 'Slow Down', that has great energy, varied high-class riffing and a beat you can't let go of. Fourth song, 'Open Sky', is a bit of an eccentric, easy-going one. Use it to fill up your energy levels, before starting off for the next six songs, of which 'Fading Out Pt. IV' must sound familiar as a song title, if you know the band's history. With its associating Spanish influence this is a great track.
The album's second half gives us 'The Deeper Divide', which in a serious seven-and-a-half minutes, stands out with its interaction of different vocals against the musical interpretation. Maybe the most 'prog' (and not metal) song of the album.

But the entire album is progressive in every note and every twitch of every song. 'On The Barren Ground' is the most accessible of all, really melodic. I really love 'At The Same Pace', which does what it says and has both a haunting and tranquilising effect through that pace.
The penultimate song is the title track and the longest, heaviest number of the album, with some Queensryche and Fates Warning on it. 'If Only' closes with an enchanting acoustic guitar melody, which pulls us through the song to the end of the album with a sublime feeling.

KINGCROW - Eidos (2015) back

Kingcrow has managed to step to the next level on "Eidos" (their 6th album) through smart and intriguing compositions that will both satisfy the current fan base, as well as attract new ones from the progressive rock or metal corners of the spectrum.
A tad darker than the previous albums, but up to the right level; a level that few bands can match.
Strongly Recommended.

01 - The Moth
02 - Adrift
03 - Slow Down
04 - Open Sky
05 - Fading Out Part IV)
06 - The Deeper Divide
07 - On The Barren Ground
08 - At The Same Pace
09 - Eidos
10 - If Only

Diego Marchesi (Lead & backing vocals)
Ivan Nastasi (Guitar & backing vocals)
Diego Cafolla (Guitar & backing vocals)
Cristian Della Polla (Keyboards & Synths)
Francesco D'Errico (Bass)
Thundra Cafolla (Drums & Percussions)
Stefania Bentivoglio (Saxophone on 3)
Fred Colombo (Piano on 3)



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

TRUCKER DIABLO - Rise Above The Noise (2015)

TRUCKER DIABLO - Rise Above The Noise (2015) full


Northern Ireland hard rockers TRUCKER DIABLO made a name for themselves with a couple of interesting albums but when major success was at the front door, one year ago the band took an indefinite hiatus for personal reasons.
However, the guys (minus bass-player Glenn Harrison who decided not to step on board again) have just released a new album entitled "Rise Above The Noise", and what a kickin', rockin' album it is.

Trucker Diablo refer to themselves as 'stadium pub hard rock', and it pretty sums up their style perfectly. With a hint of a classic pub sound wrapped up in a huge, brave and outgoing package that rivals that of many great touring rock acts, it’s obvious from the opening note of the first track, "Fight Life", that these guys mean business.
The first thing to strike the ears is the perfectly constructed guitar sound that rings through with enough crunch to make a crowd bounce, yet clean enough to hear each note resonating. This is played with a mid-tempo beat to propel the song forward at a steady marching pace. This has a certain Lynyrd Skynyrd feeling to it, but with a modern kick behind it that instantly makes its verses active and its melodic chorus catchy.

The song that really sets the bar for the CD makes its appearance as the album’s second track, and truly displays the band’s 'stadium' abilities. "Party Like They Started The End of The World’" takes off like a bullet with a dizzyingly powerful riff, backed up by a fantastically funky bass line which plays support to the singer between the guitars’ punches. It’s got everything you’d expect from a song based around apocalyptic party-hefty riffs, a fun groove, and classic rock style solo. This is easily one of the most entertaining rock songs to come out of Ireland since Thin Lizzy‘s Thunder and Lightning.

However, it soon becomes obvious that Trucker Diablo are not resting on their ‘party rock’ reputation, and this re-invigorated line up is prepared to explore new musical avenues. "Somebody Save Me" is the first of the tracks to introduce a slightly darker, mellower feel to album: the crunch and grit is still there, but it possesses a deep and elegiacally melancholic vibe.
"We Stand Strong" shifts back up through the gears again, as the quartet put the pedal to the medal with a fast-paced hard rocker, characterized by another punchy main riff, accentuated once again by McGurk’s understatedly solid bass work, before "Where Angels Fly" totally changes the mood. Led by Keith (The Quireboys) Weir’s plaintive piano, it’s a deeply personal lament, with Harte delivering a surprisingly heart wrenching vocal, with the result being a thoroughly beautiful, soulful ballad guaranteed to melt even the hardest of hearts.

"Girl In A Photograph" very much echoes the band’s adoration of Thin Lizzy (but then what Irish rock band is not influenced by Lynott and co?), with its rolling double guitar melody: however, where Lizzy legacists Black Star Riders continue to regurgitate the riffs to ‘Emerald’, ‘Jailbreak’, etc. almost ad infinitum, Trucker take it as a starting point and positively stamp their own identity on it, adding melodic and progressive tangents.
"Take Me To The River" has a more bluesy feeling, "Murder Ballad" demonstrates the rich depth and variety of band with its combination of thumping riffs and rich lush melodies, and closer ballad "Don’t Cry" is an appropriate choice of final track, built on a sweeping melody and another gorgeous and deeply personal lyric/vocal from Harte, recalling Extreme's acoustic pieces.

TRUCKER DIABLO - Rise Above The Noise (2015) inside

If having to clear the decks and switch off the noise for a while produces an album of this verve, this vibrancy and this clarity, then maybe more bands should try the Trucker Diablo formula, and stop a year.
Certainly, "Rise Above The Noise" rocks wonderfully. It's punchy, it's modern yet classic rock inspired, all songs are good and the guys play from the heart.
What else you need to enjoy a cold beer and party on?
Strongly Recommended.

01 - Fight Life
02 - Party Like They Started The End Of The World
03 - Somebody Save Me
04 - We Stand Strong
05 - Where Angels Fly
06 - Girl In A Photograph
07 - Take Me To The River
08 - Murder Ballad
09 - Sun Deprives The Day
10 - Don't Cry

Tom Harte: Vocals, Guitar
Simon Haddock: Guitars, Vocals
Jim McGurk: Bass
Terry Crawford: Drums
Keith Weir (The Quireboys): Keyboards



Tuesday, June 23, 2015

LIONCAGE - Done At Last (2015)

LIONCAGE - Done At Last (2015) full


LIONCAGE born 2 years ago when Thorsten Bertermann (vocals), Torsten Lanndsberger (drums) and guitarist Lars Konig met at a Rock festival in Loreley, Germany, that was headlined by Toto and Whitesnake. All three members are influenced by that type of '80s Melodic Rock such as the aforementioned plus Foreigner, Journey, etc, and have played in different cover-bands for several years as professionals.
They decided it was time to create their own band, record their own songs, and invite many friend session musicians to record their first CD "Done At Last".

Obviously, "Done At Last" delivers polished guitar-driven Melodic Rock and keyboard-drenched AOR midtempos & ballads for all '80s lovers. Mixed & produced by the guitarist Lars Konig himself, everything here is smooth and melodious.
Opener "Mission Of Love" and follower "Stay" are both very nice rockers, but the album begins to show it better pieces with "Fallin'", a lovely uptempo AOR cut with catchy verses, cool guitar stabs and '80s synths.

"Dancing Queen" features a sweet saxophone arrangement enhancing its Westcoast spirit, then "Till The Morning Comes" delivers stupendous vocal harmonies and a really good AOR chorus.
"Where Do We Go From Here" returns to a pretty catchy Melodic Rock, as it does the bass-pumped / riff driven "Reach The Stars". "Pictures" brings to mind Seven and their self-titled album last year, while "Down Under" is quite moving surrounded by classy keyboards.

LIONCAGE - Done At Last (2015) inside

LionCage is without a doubt a trio of talented and experienced musicians, with strong musicianship and songwriting skills as heard on their debut "Done At Last".
The vocal harmonies are smooth; all songs begin and end with melody and catchy arrangement and lyrical phrasing; the guitar lines, both riffs and leads, are dynamic, and the rhythm section holds down the beat and keeps the groove. Perhaps what they need to increase is the punch, but surely they wanted this melodious sound firmly planted in the '80s.
"Done At Last" has everything what classic Melodic Rock / AOR lovers want, and it's very, very enjoyable.

01 - Mission Of Love
02 - Stay
03 - Fallin'
04 - Dancing Queen
05 - Till The Morning Comes
06 - Where Do We Go From Here
07 - Don't Be Afraid
08 - Reach The Stars
09 - Pictures
10 - Down Under

Thorsten Bertermann - vocals
Torsten Lanndsberger - drums
Lars Konig - guitars
Sascha Wranik, Dietmar Wulfgramm, Shanger Ohl - keyboards
Andreas Schwedewsky, Sven Zimmerman - additional bass
Dirk Meyer - additional bass and vocals
Jonny Moller - saxophone
Olaf Senkbeil, Anja Bublitz, Torge Losch, Melanie Stahlkopf - additional vocals



NEAL SCHON (Journey) - Vortex (2015)

NEAL SCHON (Journey) - Vortex (2015) full


In NEAL SCHON's own words; “My guitar is my voice. When you play from the heart, you discover your voice”. One would have thought that 40 years into his career he would have found his voice by now. The fact is that he has found his voice several times over, be it on his solo work or his spells in Santana, Hardline, Bad English or Journey.
His new double album "Vortex" album is just a new voice. And a powerful one it is.

To say the guitar playing on "Vortex" is second to none is tantamount to stating the bleeding obvious, that said it does bear repeating and should not be taken for granted. Just because he can play the guitar doesn’t mean he can compose great music.
Although in this case is very much does mean that.
The album’s sound moves from rock to bluesy melodies, progressive to jazz-rock and many things in between without breaking rhythm, purpose or consistency.
There is a sense of wonder and anticipation in Schon’s 'voice'. It feels like you are entering something or somewhere for the very first time and you have no idea what is around the corner.

NEAL SCHON (Journey) - Vortex (2015) inside

The first few songs grab you, shake you up, and take you someplace, but then it keeps going. By the third track I was beginning to wonder if the whole album was going to sound the same.
Then "El Matador" came on, and I was pleasantly reassured. Neal Schon begins taking you on this 'journey' through joy, heartbreak, excitement, love, and loss. I have to say, while they do a good job of this through the whole album, "Lady M" which was written for his wife, is one of those songs where you can really feel the emotion and energy radiating from the music.

The second disc provides a wider variety of sounds and experimentation. It leads off with the epic "Tortured Souls", transitioned into more explorative sounds, where "Twilight Spellbound" is another standout whilst "Triumph Of Love" has a classical theme percolating what is essentially a power ballad, and an impressive one at that.
"Talk To Me" is another great example of a more lyrical approach and – as elsewhere on the album – serves as a great leveller for aspiring guitar heroes as it reaches its typically frenetic resolution.

From a technical standpoint the album is equally impressive. The guitar playing for both lead and rhythm is breathtaking. It is precise and confident, while also wild and loose. There's solid support from Steve Smith (drums), Igor Len – who gets his own solo piano piece with "Eternal Love" – and the return of Jan Hammer with whom Schon cut two albums in 1981-2.
The bass definitely does its job of providing a solid backbone to the songs. The percussion gave a steady rhythm that definitely complemented the music, and I particularly enjoyed the use of hats and cymbals. The keyboard and synth isn’t particularly prevalent throughout the album, except when it needs to be. It’s not too flashy or anything, and when it does hit, it hits just the right spot.

NEAL SCHON (Journey) - Vortex (2015) back

One of the great things about Neal Schon is that all of his solo work is completely different from his day job in Journey. It might seem obvious but considering the amount of artists who want time out from their main band to indulge in personal projects that ended up sounding exactly the same as their band are too numerous to mention.
The hope is that Schon, inbetween the usual hectic touring schedule with Journey, will find some time in the near future to support "Vortex" by doing some live shows.

If that happens you would be a fool to miss it, and the same can be said if you do not purchase a copy of "Vortex" to hear a truly creative visionary at his peak, an album both unbridled and honest, by a great player unconstrained and plenty of creativity.
A sonic adventure through a varied and generally upbeat landscape of high-impact, high-energy guitar.

01. Miles Beyond
02. Awakening
03. Cuban Fly Zone
04. El Matador
05. Eternal Love
06. In a Cloud
07. Irish Cream
08. Lady M (Our love Remains)
09. NS Vortex

01. Tortured Souls
02. Schon & Hammer Now
03. Airliner NS910
04. Unspoken Faith
05. Twilight / Spellbound
06. Triumph of Love
07. Mom
08. Talk to Me
09. White Light



Monday, June 22, 2015

ESTRELLA - We Will Go On (2015)

ESTRELLA - We Will Go On (2015) full


After three years of waiting, the long awaited follow up to Scottish four-piece ESTRELLA stunning debut album is finally upon us. Today June 22 sees the release of the band's 2nd album, "We Will Go On".

Since the band's first album Come Out And Play way back in 2012, the boys from Thurso have played the UK from top to bottom alongside some of the biggest name’s in rock and they have amassed quite the following as a result as well as making a few trips across into Europe supporting the likes of Robin Beck and they’re just back from a lengthy tour with Enuff Z’Nuff.
Anyone familiar with the band’s previous album will have some idea what to expect but to borrow a greatly overused analogy, "We Will Go On" takes everything we know about the Estrella formula and turns it up to 11.

The new record has a nicely rocked up sound with a classic feel to it all. By 'classic feel' I mean classic rock feel a-la 1970s/1980s edges. On listening it’s not surprise that the band is being mentioned highly by the likes of Classic Rock magazine with 'Here I Am' (first single) awarded track of the week.
For people new to Estrella, their music is in the mould of Def Leppard, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Thunder, some Bon Jovi, and it’s nothing if not good fun.

ESTRELLA - We Will Go On (2015) inside

And 'Here I Am' opens the album as well. From the very beginning with it’s 'na na na na na na' chorus you can tell it’s a real crowd pleaser. There are some great guitar elements and singer Paul Gunn has grown in stature and experience since the first CD. He reminds me often of Def Leppard's Joe Elliot, always enjoying himself but also a complete frontman, making sure everyone is having a good time.
Title track 'We Will Go On' is all about how much the band enjoy playing live and seeing the crowd enjoying themselves. It’s another song that comes across as a perfect live track.

'Reason' and 'This Heaven' are strong contender’s for being named best song on the album and are quite possibly the best tracks the band have penned to date. 'Reason' in particular could be amazingly realised in a cheesy '80s power ballad music video set in a dusty airfield with some strong wind effects and a setting sun before heading into a deserted aircraft hanger for the final chorus. Also, a mountain top solo wouldn’t go amiss!
A standout song for me is 'Hard to Get', where the guitars take on a fuzzier tone, and the melody is slower. Paul’s voice is given a chance to shine amongst some great solos and the rhythm section playing at the low end really come to the fore.
Special mention also to 'Rock City', a great classic rock track, and 'Be There', more of a ballad (akin Bon Jovi) and a total singalong number.

ESTRELLA - We Will Go On (2015) back

Estrella, comprising brothers Paul, Luke and Nathan Gunn, and Leo McPherson have gone all out with this album, putting together a production team who have worked with some of the biggest names in the business, including pre-production and mastering by Pete Shoulder (The Union), Luke Morley (Thunder), and Pete Mayer (Rolling Stones) and production by Nick Brine (The Darkness, Thunder).
"We Will Go On" is a very enjoyable second Melodic Rock effort by Estrella, chocked full of infectious, anthemic, shout-along, big chorused, happy sounding songs that’ll make you feel good about yourself.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Here I Am
02 - Wheels Keep Turning
03 - We Will Go On
04 - This Heaven
05 - Hard To Get
06 - Reason
07 - Hold On
08 - Rock City
09 - Be There
10 - Undercover Lover
11 - My Own Way

Paul Gunn (Vocals)
Luke Gunn (Guitar)
Nathan Thomas Gunn (Bass)
Leo McPherson (Drums)



Sunday, June 21, 2015

SKID ROW - Slave To The Grind [Japan remaster SHM-CD] [Limited Release]

SKID ROW - Slave To The Grind [Japan remaster SHM-CD] [Limited Release] full


Many readers praised the high quality of several Japanese SHM-CD remasters presented here, and asked for this excellent, out of print, hard to find Limited Release of SKID ROW's killer classic "Slave To The Grind".

"Slave To The Grind" marked the band's move towards the heavier sound of their origins.
Indeed Skid Row get harder and heavier on most the songs, matching singer Sebastian Bach's gritty, streetwise rants to lean, driving riffs that manage to back up all the attitudinal posturing.
Largely missing are the bits of hair metal that filled out Skid Row's self-titled debut; in their place lyrics were more complex, criticizing modern ways of life, authority, politic corruption, drugs and organized religion, with Bach affecting a tough, threatening persona most of the time.

The furious riffage kicked up behind Bach is as threatening as his monster vocal delivery, with Rachel Bolan and Rob Affuso pounding on the bass / rhythm section, and Scotti Hill and Dave "Snake" Sabo (a really talented & underrated guitarist) wail the guitar parts.
"Monkey Business", "Get The Fuck Out", "The Threat", and the thrashy title track crush most anything on the debut, and the awesome power ballads like "Quicksand Jesus" and "Wasted Time" are far less generic than their Skid Row counterparts.
"Psycho Love" is filled with terrific guitar phrasing, on the catchy "Livin' On A Chain Gang" Bach proves why he is one of the best Rock singers of all time, while "Riot Act" kicks you in the face with its power.
And there's my favorite Skid Row songs ever; "In A Darkened Room", combining a sweet main melody with a sustained guitar work.

SKID ROW - Slave To The Grind [Japan remaster SHM-CD] [Limited Release] back cover

Many observers were surprised when "Slave To The Grind" became the first metal album in the US to debut at number 1 on the Billboard charts, but there was a simple reason: it really is one of the best - and heaviest - examples of mainstream hard rock / metal in the genre's MTV heyday.
This album is absolute gold, showcasing Skid Row at their peak, all songs are terrific and production first rate.

The remaster on this Japanese SHM-CD is fantastic, and you have 4 juicy bonus tracks: "Beggar's Day" (original Japanese Bonus Track, which as well replaced "Get the Fuck Out" on the 'Clean Version' of the album), plus 3 tracks exclusive to this Limited Release, sadly, now out of print.

Warner Music Japan ~ WPCR-13578 | 国内盤 | SHM-CD

01 - Monkey Business
02 - Slave To The Grind
03 - The Threat
04 - Quicksand Jesus
05 - Psycho Love
06 - Get The Fuck Out
07 - Livin' On A Chain Gang
08 - Creepshow
09 - In A Darkened Room
10 - Riot Act
11 - Mudkicker
12 - Wasted Time
13 - Beggar's Day (original Japanese bonus track)
14 - Holidays In The Sun (new Japanese bonus track)
15 - Get The Fuck Out [Live 91] (new Japanese bonus track)
16 - Delivering The Goods [Live 92] (new Japanese bonus track)

Sebastian Bach – lead vocals
Rachel Bolan – bass, backing vocals
Scotti Hill – guitars, backing vocals
Dave "The Snake" Sabo – guitars, backing vocals
Rob Affuso – drums and percussion

Out Of Print - Try here:


IRON MAIDEN - Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (2015 Remaster for iTunes)

IRON MAIDEN - Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (2015 Remaster for iTunes) full


With this feature of "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son" we continue the saga of IRON MAIDEN catalog albums which have been Remastered for iTunes, encoded from 24-bit / 96 khz high resolution masters. All these albums have been freshly mastered from their original analog sources with iTunes in mind, delivering the music to listeners exactly the way the artist and recording engineer intended.
The other Iron Maiden brand new 2015 iTunes remasters can be found (HERE).

Iron Maiden's founder member Steve Harris comments about this superior mastering technique:
"The Remastering for iTunes procedure allows the listener to experience the music as close as possible to the way the artist intended it to be heard. So, of course, I was very keen for the Iron Maiden albums to be mastered in this way.
The records have been available digitally before, when this medium first became a platform for music distribution, but were mastered with CDs in mind. The iTunes process involves a different approach and it's great to finally deliver the music to our fans in as close to a pure and accurate sound as we could possibly achieve."

IRON MAIDEN - Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (2015 Remaster for iTunes) original tapes photo

In my humble opinion, "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son" is the last great Iron Maiden album, reconnecting with the band's proggressive roots.
By this point, Maiden had earned the respect of metalheads the world over with their steadfast adherence to unadulterated metal and their grandiose aesthetic. They'd made concessions neither to pop-metal nor to thrash, and their passionate fan base would never have tolerated a radical reinvention.
But what do you do when your epic ambition itself has become a formula? You go even bigger and make a concept album, of course.

The concept is based on the European folklore which held that the seventh son of a seventh son would be born with special powers that could be used for good or evil (and probably also in part by fantasy author Orson Scott Card, who'd touched on this idea in his own work).
As such, the lyrics are Maiden at their most gothic, obsessed with supernatural mysticism of all stripes; the story line concerns the title character, born with a gift for prophecy but mistrusted by his village, which ignores his warnings of apocalyptic doom and makes him a tormented Cassandra figure.

Musically, this is Maiden at their proggiest, with abrupt, stop-on-a-dime transitions between riffs, tempos, time signatures, and song sections. And this time they used real synthesisers, obtaining a unique, original mixture of sounds. Yet nearly every song has a memorable chorus adorned with full-fledged keyboards, which are used here more to add atmosphere rather than taking center stage.
No less than four of this album's eight songs reached the British Top Ten in some version: concert favorite "Can I Play with Madness," (a really successful single), "The Evil That Men Do," "The Clairvoyant," and "Infinite Dreams", while the album became the band's first U.K. chart-topper since The Number of the Beast.
The title track is this album's extended epic, and it's moved out of the closing spot in yet another subtle statement about shaking things up.

IRON MAIDEN (2015 Remaster for iTunes) inside

About this remastering, Steve Harris continues; "Now with this fresh mastering, the guitars are louder, the drums more substantial and the overall tone is so very much improved, in my opinion.
Tony Newton and Ade Emsley, who worked closely with me on the project, did a terrific job recapturing everything from the original masters, and together we've re- mastered them all digitally and I'm really happy with the results."

Tony Newton adds: "The process started with locating all of the original album mix tapes (or whichever format they were mixed to). Then the choice of analogue to digital convertor was chosen for the most accurate capture to make it as close as possible to the sound of the mix as it was intended by the band.
When a lot of these tapes were last captured it was in the 1980s, early days of digital and only 44.1khz/16bit files were possible. On top of this, the new A/D convertors are far superior now, and, of course, it is possible to produce files of far higher resolution.
The result of this is that the songs now sound more defined with added depth and warmth.

Steve Harris ends; "I was very excited to be asked to be part of this project. I honestly feel that there is a massive improvement in the quality of these classic albums.”

I really love these new Iron Maiden's remasters. All sound great in the car and with headphones the sound is wider.
If "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son" doesn't epitomize Iron Maiden's sound or define an era the way the first three Dickinson albums did, it nonetheless ranks among their best work. Talented guitarist Adrian Smith left the band after this record, closing the book on Maiden's classic period and heralding a dire — and distressingly immediate — creative decline.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Moonchild
02 - Infinite Dreams
03 - Can I Play with Madness
04 - The Evil that Men Do
05 - Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
06 - The Prophecy
07 - The Clairvoyant
08 - Only the Good Die Young

Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar, synthesiser
Steve Harris – bass guitar, string synthesiser
Nicko McBrain – drums, percussion



Saturday, June 20, 2015

IRON MAIDEN - Somewhere In Time (2015 Remaster for iTunes)

IRON MAIDEN - Somewhere In Time (2015 Remaster for iTunes) full


As previously featured here, let's continue with IRON MAIDEN catalog albums which have been Remastered for iTunes, encoded from 24-bit / 96 khz high resolution masters. All these albums have been freshly mastered from their original analog sources with iTunes in mind, delivering the music to listeners exactly the way the artist and recording engineer intended.
The other Iron Maiden brand new 2015 iTunes remasters can be found (HERE).
Now it's time for "Somewhere In Time", perhaps the more 'modern' (and sonically awesome) Iron Maiden album.

Indeed, "Somewhere In Time" is very mid-80s on its approach, glossy and bombastic from the production view.
With such superb previous albums as Number of the Beast, Piece of Mind, and Powerslave, Iron Maiden had forged a completely original, own heavy metal sound. Feeling that they'd taken it as far it could go, the band decided to broaden their sound with the use of synthesizers for their sixth studio album, 1986's "Somewhere In Time".
While many other metal bands used synths in the '80s to appeal to the wider audience, Maiden wisely did not overindulge. Instead, they used them in the form of guitar synthesiser to create textures, and were rewarded with one of their most commercially successful releases.

And although Maiden's next album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son would perfect this new approach, "Somewhere In Time" contains many highlights on the songwriting department.
Both the 'do it now' terrific rocker "Wasted Years" and the more melodic "Stranger in a Strange Land" were successful singles/videos, while other prominent tracks included the album-closing epic, "Alexander the Great," the frenzied opener "Caught Somewhere in Time," and the singalong concert fave "Heaven Can Wait."
The artwork is awesome as well, with many 'hidden' references to Maiden's previous albums / songs.

IRON MAIDEN - Somewhere In Time (2015 Remaster for iTunes) master tapes

This brand new 2015 remaster exclusively produced for iTunes bring to the forefront a deeper bass sound and brighter vocals.
Iron Maiden's founder member Steve Harris comments about this superior mastering technique:
"The Remastering for iTunes procedure allows the listener to experience the music as close as possible to the way the artist intended it to be heard. So, of course, I was very keen for the Iron Maiden albums to be mastered in this way.
The records have been available digitally before, when this medium first became a platform for music distribution, but were mastered with CDs in mind. The iTunes process involves a different approach and it's great to finally deliver the music to our fans in as close to a pure and accurate sound as we could possibly achieve."

IRON MAIDEN - Somewhere In Time (2015 Remaster for iTunes) inside

Steve Harris continues; "Now with this fresh mastering, the guitars are louder, the drums more substantial and the overall tone is so very much improved, in my opinion.
Tony Newton and Ade Emsley, who worked closely with me on the project, did a terrific job recapturing everything from the original masters, and together we've re- mastered them all digitally and I'm really happy with the results."

Tony Newton adds: "The process started with locating all of the original album mix tapes (or whichever format they were mixed to). Then the choice of analogue to digital convertor was chosen for the most accurate capture to make it as close as possible to the sound of the mix as it was intended by the band.
When a lot of these tapes were last captured it was in the 1980s, early days of digital and only 44.1khz/16bit files were possible. On top of this, the new A/D convertors are far superior now, and, of course, it is possible to produce files of far higher resolution.
The result of this is that the songs now sound more defined with added depth and warmth.

Steve Harris ends; "I was very excited to be asked to be part of this project. I honestly feel that there is a massive improvement in the quality of these classic albums.”

I really love these new Iron Maiden's remasters. All sound great in the car and with headphones the sound is wider.
"Somewhere In Time" is one of my favorites from the band, because of the really '80s feel. The album succeeded in broadening Maiden's sound without alienating their longtime metal fans, and bringing new listeners to their flock.
To me, a must have Classic.

01 - Caught Somewhere In Time
02 - Wasted Years
03 - Sea of Madness
04 - Heaven Can Wait
05 - The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
06 - Stranger in a Strange Land
07 - Déjà Vu
08 - Alexander the Great (356-323 BC)

Bruce Dickinson – vocals
Dave Murray – guitar, guitar synthesiser
Adrian Smith – guitar, guitar synthesiser, backing vocals
Steve Harris – bass, bass synthesiser
Nicko McBrain – drums, percussion



STREETHEART - Dancing With Danger [Rock Candy remaster]

STREETHEART - Dancing With Danger [Rock Candy remaster] full


The other title from Canadian melodic rockers STREETHEART remastered by Rock Candy Records is their more mainstream LP "Dancing With Danger", regarded by many as one of the best rocking albums produced by a Canuck band during the first half of the '80s.

Revered as a Canadian musical institution, this five man melodic rock band carved out a reputation second to none during the early '80s maple leaf music scene. Brandishing a sound that fused gritty hard rock with lashings of melody, they crafted instantly memorable songs and were fronted by one of Canada’s most lauded and capable vocalists in Kenny Shields.
Despite notching up a string of gold and platinum selling albums in Canada they were virtually unheard outside their homeland... something that needed to be seriously addressed.

"Dancing With Danger" was Streetheart’s final studio album, recorded with renowned American producer Spencer Proffer (Quiet Riot, Kick Axe, WASP) in Los Angeles, done around the same time he was working with his commercial breakthrough with Quiet Riot.
It was a record that was supposed to focus on breaking into the lucrative US market by employing a smoother sound, tighter arrangements and more accessible melodies.

STREETHEART - Dancing With Danger [Rock Candy remaster] booklet

The band had already been forced to replace guitarist John Hannah with Jeff Neill due to illness and now it was felt that drummer Herb Ego wasn't a big enough hitter for the bombastic style they were heading in, with the band picking up Denny Carmassi's brother Billy at the end of his touring stint in Aldo Nova's band as his replacement.

With Proffer's powerful approach there's no doubt that "Dancing With Danger" is Streetheart's best produced and most mainstream album. Proffer's treatment of drums and bass giving the title track, the pacy jumpin' AOR of 'You're Not The Only One' and the exuberant 'Too Hot To Stop' an almighty kick, and his sense of space benefiting Gutheil's quirky synth work, while Jeff Neill played his ass off with sizzling guitars riffs and solos.
Then we have the ultra melodic 'Comin' True' (where they sound as Autograph) and the early '80s sounding 'Midnight Love', very melodic and FM-radio ready.
A very balanced album, "Dancing With Danger" has moments of extreme subtlety in the ballad 'Don't Let Her Leave You' and the hypnotic closer 'Have It Your Way', but in parts rocks harder than they ever did.

Originally released by Boardwalk Records, a label formed by former Casablanca Records owner Neil Bogart and home to Joan Jett and Night Ranger amongst others, the album sadly underachieved not because of its quality but primarily due to the untimely death of Bogart and the subsequent winding down of the label.
In Canada the album fared well, achieving Gold status, housing a number of well played radio-singles including the title track which was later covered by former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley on his ‘Second Sighting’ album.

For more than twenty-five years, Streetheart's "Dancing With Danger" was one of the more sought after melodic hard rock records from the '80s.
This is the first official release on CD remastered from the original tapes by Rock Candy with great results. Dave Reynolds' sleeve essay on the 16-page booklet are an interesting read about the history of the album, and Jon Astley did a great job behind the desk.

STREETHEART - Dancing With Danger [Rock Candy remaster] back

Except the two albums recently remastered by Rock Candy (and a compilation) none of the other Streetheart records have been officially released on CD (all available are bootlegs). There's plenty of scope for additional re-issues by this criminally overlooked band.
"Dancing With Danger" is a great slice of Canadian & American Melodic Hard Rock / AOR with a typically '80s polished sound.

01 - Dancing With Danger
02 - Comin' True
03 - You're Not The Only One
04 - Don't Let Her Leave You
05 - Midnight Love
06 - Underground
07 - Too Hot To Stop
08 - Night Writer
09 - Leave Me Alone
10 - Have It Your Way

Kenny Shields - lead vocals
Daryl Gutheil - keyboards, backing vocals
Spider (Ken Sinnaeve) - bass, backing vocals
Jeff Neill - guitars
Billy Carmassi - drums, percussion



STREETHEART - Drugstore Dancer [Rock Candy remaster]

STREETHEART - Drugstore Dancer [Rock Candy remaster] full


Whilst they're probably one of the lesser known Canadian bands of the '70s and '80s, Winnipeg-based STREETHEART had a string of gold & platinum records in their homeland, charting with all six of their studio albums, a double live offering and a posthumous collection of outtakes, as well as numerous hit singles.
However, as far as most non-Canadians are concerned their claims to fame will be that founding guitarist Paul Dean and drummer Matt Frenette went on to form Loverboy and a later line-up originally wrote and recorded Hardline's signature tune 'Hot Cherie' back in 1982, strangely opting not to include it on the album it was recorded for.

Originally issued in 1980, "Drugstore Dancer" was Streetheart’s fourth album and the first with the AORish sound that would made Canadian bands famous during the decade.
So as Streetheart’s records were so hard to track down on CD for many years, Rock Candy Records did a wonderful remaster treatment to this very good LP.

STREETHEART - Drugstore Dancer [Rock Candy remaster] booklet

Featuring the Mk III line-up of guitarist John Hannah and drummer Herb Ego alongside mainstays Kenny Shields (vocals), Daryl Gutheil (keyboards) and Ken 'Spider' Sinnaeve (bass), "Drugstore Dancer" was a very upbeat rock album in reply to the more laid-back previous LP.
As a result songs like 'Go To Hell', 'Trouble', 'You're Gonna Crash' and the title-track are some of the most direct, catchy melodic rockers the band ever recorded, built around gritty guitar parts, inventive keyboard fills, interesting rhythms and Shields' trademark vocal tone.
In Canada Shields was a big star with a classy style, which fitted perfectly with Streetheart's quirky direction on this album – if you can imagine Loverboy and The Babys jamming some Cheap Trick tunes then you wouldn't be that far off.

There's more catchy tunes like 'Teenage Rage', 'Sold Out' and their version of 'Tin Soldier' are positively infectious, each given extra dimensions by the amazing bass playing of 'Spider' Sinnaeve, a legend of the Canadian scene and the 'go to' guy used on many albums by artists like Helix and Lee Aaron.
Sinnaeve would later go on to join Red Rider and The Guess Who, and has been member of Loverboy since 2001 still in the band nowadays.

STREETHEART - Drugstore Dancer [Rock Candy remaster] back

Rockier and more focussed than their previous outing, with "Drugstore Dancer" Streetheart's switch from WEA to the Capitol label certainly paid dividends propelling the record to platinum status and securing their place in the Canadian rock and roll hall of fame.
This is the first time that "Drugstore Dancer" has been officially released on CD remastered from the original tapes. The Rock Candy 24-bit treatment is really warm, capturing the original vinyl-LP sound updated to modern equipment.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Drugstore Dancer
02 - Teenage Rage
03 - Nobody Like You
04 - Go To Hell
05 - You're Gonna Crash
06 - Tin Soldier
07 - Trouble
08 - Sold Out
09 - Let Me Go

Kenny Shields - lead vocals, percussion
John Hannah - guitars, backing vocals
Daryl Gutheil - keyboards, backing vocals
Ken 'Spider' Sinnaeve - bass, backing vocals
Herb Ego - drums



Friday, June 19, 2015

LUCA TURILLI'S RHAPSODY - Prometheus: Symphonia Ignis Divinus [Ltd. +1] (2015)

LUCA TURILLI'S RHAPSODY - Prometheus: Symphonia Ignis Divinus [Ltd. +1] (2015) full


Since the split of the original 'Rhapsody' into two bands, both have been somewhat disappointing in their efforts so far. Rhapsody Of Fire produced a decent but forgettable effort in Dark Wings Of Steel, whereas Luca Turilli's Rhapsody didn't do that much better with Ascending To Infinity. It is quite remarkable that we now have two bands, but neither can produce the magic of the original Rhapsody.
This trend is pretty broken with with "Prometheus: Symphonia Ignis Divinus", the new album from LUCA TURILLI'S RHAPSODY to be released in few days.

It's unfair to review a Luca Turilli creation as a 'metal album'. No matter how you call it… symphonic metal, classical metal, or as he prefers; 'cinematic metal' – Turilli composes musicscapes beyond comparison.
While he will never be held to the unattainable standard of a modern Mozart and Beethoven – the giants who receive 100% critical acclaim whether deserved or not – Luca can easily draw comparisons to modern composers like John Williams, Hans Zimmer and Jerry Goldsmith. But 'metallized'.

Luca Turilli has meticulously orchestrated every aspect of this album and has achieved an epic sound as intended.
With a prolonged intro demonstrating his orchestral abilities, the album kicks off with 'Il Cigno Nero', an epic making full use of the orchestras to provide massive choruses, choirs to create atmosphere, and the neo-classical shredding that has become synonymous with Turilli’s songwriting.

LUCA TURILLI'S RHAPSODY - Prometheus: Symphonia Ignis Divinus [Ltd. +1] (2015) inside

It is evident that Turilli has spent much time crafting these each of these tracks with clinical precision when the album moves onto 'Rosenkreuz (The Rose and the Cross)'. He has tapped into the best elements of his career with the recurring digital undertones of the Dreamquest era preluding and bridging the choruses.
He has guided every member of the band to execute their parts flawlessly, with a highlight being the acrobatic vocal performance from frontman Alessandro Conti.

Luca's ‘cinematic metal’ is music that creates visuals and builds a story with each progressing note, whether that is the mutually agreed concept or not, Rhapsody are incredibly successful at it.
Tracks such as 'Anahata' provide the visuals and atmosphere of a Bond villain’s sea fortress rising from the sea, and 'King Solomon and the 72 Names of God' laying down an Pharoah war story.
The strongest songwriting of Turilli’s career is present on the album, and ejects the band into the stratosphere of the metal sympho classical universe.
So much care, passion and love for the music is truly alive and flowing on the album, with every note, small or big, under the strict supervision of the songwriter. Another feat worth mentioning is the mix of the album is perfect deserving full commendation given the complexity of the album.

LUCA TURILLI'S RHAPSODY - Prometheus: Symphonia Ignis Divinus [Ltd. +1] (2015) digipak

I wouldn't call this a metal album, it has rock-heavy moments, but it's much, much more than that.
"Prometheus, Symphonia Ignis Divinus" is an album that deserves respect from every musician, and every music lover. It's complex, and not always easy to digest, but it's a work of art that could be performed and admired for years to come.

01. Nova Genesis (Ad Splendorem Angeli Triumphantis)
02. Il Cigno Nero
03. Rosenkreuz (The Rose And The Cross)
04. Anahata
05. Il Tempo Degli Dei
06. One Ring To Rule Them All
07. Notturno
08. Prometheus
09. King Solomon And The 72 Names Of God
10. Yggdrasil
11. Of Michael The Archangel And Lucifer's Fall Part II: Codex Nemesis
.. Codex Nemesis Alpha Omega
.. Symphonia Ignis Divinus (The Quantum Gate Revealed)
.. The Astral Convergence
.. The Divine Fire Of The Archangel
.. Of Psyche and Archetypes
12. Thundersteel [Cinematic Version, Digipak Bonus]

Luca Turilli - Guitars and Keyboards
Dominique Leurquin - Guitars
Patrice Guers - Bass
Alex Landenburg - Drums
Alessandro Conti - Lead Vocals
Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) - Choir Vocals
Dan Lucas (Karo) - Choir Vocals
David Readman (Room Experience) - Choir Vocals



BULLET TRAIN BLAST - Shake Rattle Racing (2015)

BULLET TRAIN BLAST - Shake Rattle Racing (2015) full


BULLET TRAIN BLAST has become one of the most promising new Hard Rock bands from Denmark with their second album (presented here on the blog) receiving enthusiastic reviews / critical acclaim and also a very interesting public approval in Europe, especially Scandinavia.
Now with CD number three "Shake Rattle Racing", Bullet Train Blast go for the throat of the whole world Rock fans.

Bullet Train Blast recently has recruited reinforcements in the new members, guitarist Henrik “Heinz” Jacobsen (ex Hatesphere) and Jakob Ellerup on bass, and under the guidance of legendary studio magician Danish producer Tue Madsen, the focus on "Shake Rattle Racing" is deliver tight, punchy hard rockers with a modern sound.
Song such as ”Game Over”, ”The Fighter”, the title track, “Broken” or ”Oh Desire” are short, rugged hard rockers ready for the arenas, straight to the point through Gibson Les Paul guitar riffs and Marshall amps cranked to 10.

BULLET TRAIN BLAST - Shake Rattle Racing (2015) inside

"Shake Rattle Racing" is a fun, entertaining record by Bullet Train Blast, a band with a typical Scandinavian sound but with an eye put in America. This release is a promise for everyone that there is a non-MTV like face to Hard Rock. Even with a modern sound, it's easy to see how the '80s influence is impregnated in the band's overall output.

Effective and fun, "Shake Rattle Racing" delivers an enjoyable balance between old-school hard rockin' energy and modern sounding riff-pumped rock 'n roll. The album is already available via Mighty Music in Denmark, and in the rest of the world by July 3rd 2015.

01 - Shake Rattle Racing
02 - Head Above Water
03 - Game Over
04 - Right Reasons
05 - Broken
06 - I Think I'll Stay
07 - Oh Desire
08 - When Fools Rise
09 - My Life Got New Meaning
10 - Standing in the Darkness
11 - Rock'n'roller
12 - The Fighter

Martin Larsen - Lead Vocals
Simon Brøchner Jensen - Drums
Niels Hyttel - Guitar
Jakob Ellerup - Bass, Backing Vocals
Henrik 'Heinz' Jacobsen - Guitar



VIRGIN STEELE - Nocturnes Of Hellfire & Damnation (2015)

VIRGIN STEELE - Nocturnes Of Hellfire & Damnation (2015) full


Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist David DeFeis is a highly talented individual and the mastermind behind VIRGIN STEELE, the cult legend New York metal band which are presenting their new CD "Nocturnes Of Hellfire & Damnation", to be released next June 22.
It will come out with three different covers as a standard 1CD version (the gargoyle cover), 2CD digipak version (the angel cover), 2 LP gatefold version (the flute playing skeleton cover).

For those who are new to Virgin Steele here’s some background information about the band; they started in the early '80s playing straight heavy metal gaining a strong cult fan base world-wide via their imported LP's (I am one of those), some kind of USA answer to Judas Priest.
Then they changed to epic metal days during the 90's delivering some really strong albums, and the following decade Virgin Steele adopted a more darker sound, with synphonic elements.
Well, "Nocturnes Of Hellfire & Damnation" is mix of Virgin Steele's past musical journeys.

And right from the beginning you can hear some power and raw emotion with some spontaneous roars and screams thrown in on tracks like "Lucifer's Hammer" and "Black Sun - Black Mass", that would not be out of place on earlier heavier albums.
Then "Queen Of The Dead" is groovy and mid-tempo paced hard rocker yet melodic heavy, as it is the mysterious "Persephone" with interesting arrangements throughout.

VIRGIN STEELE - Nocturnes Of Hellfire & Damnation (2015) covers

All these first tracks are straight rockers, however in typical Virgin Steele style, that means epic yet not grandiose or pompous. Mostly, it's done with - on a larger scale - the arrangement and then throw the guitar lines and DeFeis' vocals and vocal arrangements. Honestly, I think he must own 20 or more different ways to sing, scream, screech, growl, or howl. Sometimes I wonder if, excepting the lyrics, he knows what's going to come out between those pearly whites.

Around halfway through the album there is a rather noticeable change in direction. While the first half offers heavier and faster songs, the second half offers more elaborated, mid-tempo, keyboard heavy and dreary compositions.
Just take as example "Glamour", which twists the arrangement with more tough riffs to start, only to calm down in the middle with some piano and Queensryche atmospheres, and bring those ambitious riffs back in the end.

Each song stands alone instead of following an overall concept and there are genuine surprises within; "We Disappear" begins with a crunchy guitar riff, pretty heavy, but in the middle a piano and some strings appears with the song turning progressive and intriguing.
On "Delirium" they sound like a mix of early Queensryche, Alice Cooper, and Ten / Gary Hughes, and the mood & feeling is quite captivating.

This is what I found to be one of the most impressive aspects of "Nocturnes Of Hellfire & Damnation", a mix of older and newer styles. Virgin Steele successfully achieved what they set out to do; create a collection of songs that offer a mix of classic melodic metal / hard rock moments, moody chord changes, monolithic riffs with new ideas.
Mostly, Virgin Steele does not follow the classic verse-chorus-solo-verse pattern. They are unique and surprises you all the time.

VIRGIN STEELE - Nocturnes Of Hellfire & Damnation (2015) inside

I hope not only melodic metal fans give to "Nocturnes Of Hellfire & Damnation" a chance, as there's a lot to enjoy for classic hard rockers, progressive and sympho fans here.
Virgin Steele is defying genres on "Nocturnes Of Hellfire & Damnation", it's an album plenty of different textures, moods and intelligent arrangements that keeps you interested all the time.
STRONGLY Recommended.

01. Lucifer's Hammer
02. Queen Of The Dead
03. To Darkness Eternal
04. Black Sun-Black Mass
05. Persephone
06. Devilhead
07. Demolition Queen
08. The Plague And The Fire
09. We Disappear
10. A Damned Apparition
11. Glamour
12. Delirium
13. Hymns To Damnation
14. Fallen Angels

David DeFeis - Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
Edward Pursino - Guitars
Joshua Block - Guitars
Frank Gilchriest - Drums



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