Friday, July 31, 2015

WATCHMEN - Nowhere To Hide (2015)

WATCHMEN - Nowhere To Hide (2015) full


British label ZRock Records has reissued the self-titled album by WATCHMEN some weeks ago (featured here on the blog) and now are presenting with the band's second effort "Nowhere To Hide".
Watchmen hails from Argentina, South America, and despite of not being the most fertile land for this brand of melodious Hard Rock, I assure you these guys rock on par with the best.

Watchmen style has been described as a mix of Whitesnake, Badlands and Burning Rain, and although most the songs on offer here don't sound as bluesy as the material from these bands, I can easily understand where the comparisons come from: lead vocalist Ivan Sencion.
He's in possession of a strong voice not that far away from Ray Gillen, Keith St. John and / or David Coverdale, but the guy adds his own touch and despite his native language is Spanish, there's not accent at sight.
Apart from the great singer, Watchmen are a combo of superb musicians; love the rhythm section, the very well placed keyboards and special mention has to go to guitarist Emmanuel Lopez, a guy who can play some serious licks.

WATCHMEN - Nowhere To Hide (2015) inside

On "Nowhere To Hide", Watchmen have evolved to a much more Melodic Hard Rock style, still retaining the sharp riffs but aiming for catchiness than the hard rock groove from the first album.
There's a Mr. Big feel on many songs, also akin Spanish greats Guru.
It's a varied record opening with 'The Gathering' and its Eastern melodies, followed by "One", a guitar driver hard rocker much like in the band's debut album.
Title track 'Nowhere To Hide' is one of the highlights, a bright melodic rock tune with a mid-tempo pace especially designed for Ivan Sencion's vocals to shine. Is this guy the love child of David Coverdale?

If you need some pulsating AOR, Watchmen deliver in "Lonely Rider" another highlight, or if you prefer, the strong and at the same time emotive ballad "I'll Be Allright".
As said it's a varied album, and they provide balance with great rockers like "Adrenaline" (title says all), the intense & melodious "Dreamworld", the kicking "Solstice In Black" or "Holy Ground" and its mysterious keyboards.
More variation arrives with album closer "In The End", a dreamy little acoustic number which sounds like an end titles movie soundtrack, really inspired.

There's a couple of extra songs listed as bonus tracks: a cover of the bombastic '80s cult classic "Far From Over", made famous by Frank Stallone for the '83 Stayin' Alive movie. I really like Watchmen's take on this one, showing their versatility.
The other song is sung in Spanish, "Tiempos Violentos" (Raging Times) composed for the Radio Rock show of the same name. It's a galloping hard rocker with stong guitars and blasting rhythm section.

WATCHMEN - Nowhere To Hide (2015) back

With "Nowhere To Hide" Watchmen confirm their talent to compose some awesome Melodic Hard Rock songs, rich in melodies, terrific vocal parts and kick ass instrumentation.
This second album is more varied than the first, blending its potent hard rock grooves with superb melodic hard / AOR melodies influenced by classic acts of the genre from both sides of the Atlantic ocean.
There's no boundaries in music: these guys may come from the most southernmost country of the planet, but they sound as good as the best exponents from the genre.
Seriously, Watchmen are excellent, you need to check these guys immediately.

01 - The Gathering
02 - One
03 - Nowhere To Hide
04 - Adrenaline
05 - Lonely Rider
06 - Holy Ground
07 - I'll Be Allright
08 - Dreamworld
09 - Solstice In Black
10 - In The End
11 - Far From Over [Ltd Edition Bonus Track]
12 - Tiempos Violentos [Ltd Edition Bonus Track]

Ivan Sencion - lead vocals
Emmanuel Lopez - guitars
Sebastian Igino - bass, backing vocals
Leonardo Palmieri - keyboards
Alan Fritzier - drums, backing vocals



RUSH - Moving Pictures [HDtracks 2015 remaster]

RUSH - Moving Pictures [HDtracks 2015 remaster] full


Without a doubt, "Moving Pictures" is the most famous album (and for many their best) from Canadian legends RUSH. It was their transition to synthesizers and catchy melodies, launching the band to mainstream stardom in the early '80s.
This milestone album has been remastered several times, but now has received a 2015 treatment by Sean Magee at Abbey Road Mastering Studios and it's being sold thru in Audiophile 48kHz/24bit HQ format.

"Moving Pictures" is a great example of how technicality, songwriting mastery and a thoroughly emotional touch combine in an exceptional way. Lyrically, the album continues in the vein of its predecessor Permanent Waves in how it touches more on real-life subjects than the fantasy elements of previous works.
Due to drummer Neil Peart expanding his range of lyrical themes, we get songs about the price of fame ("Limelight"), the moods and lifestyles of different places ("Camera Eye"), and even automobiles ("Red Barchetta").

Geddy Lee's singing is improved and more varied range-wise on this record, establishing him as a more solid storyteller as he sings the tales that Peart is weaving.
The instrumental work is, as usual, absolutely fantastic; the trio play off each others' contributions wonderfully and there's a great sense of unity that prevents anything from sounding like aimless noodling.

RUSH - Moving Pictures [HDtracks 2015 remaster] inside

Even in the sole instrumental "YYZ," the band know what time to devote to soloing and what time to devote to composition. The Morse Code-inspired 5/4 section in the beginning is still an iconic progressive rock moment and luckily the song just keeps on giving, with a trade-off solo segment and a synth-ridden slow portion keeping things interesting.

And of course we have the timeless classic "Tom Sawyer".
This is one of the most impressive aspects of "Moving Pictures": how it's so radio-friendly for Rush and still manages to be so damn good.
The hard-rockin' radio staple melodies of "Tom Sawyer", the dynamically-varied "Red Barchetta", the fan favorite "Limelight" and of course "YYZ" were all big hits when they came out, and yet remain considered some of Rush's most beloved songs even by hardcore fans who love their underrated material.

Radio rock fans will instantly recognize and appreciate that iconic first note played in "Tom Sawyer", while the progressive rock crowd will appreciate the craftsmanship that went into the rhythmically varied guitar solo by Alex Lifeson.
"Red Barchetta" will have the casual crowd enjoying the catchy melodies and Geddy's singing performance while musicians and hardcore fans will notice Neil Peart's varied drum fills going on in the meantime.
Even lesser-known songs such as "Witch Hunt" and "Vital Signs" carry this sense of balance, the latter even using a combination of the typical Rush sound and a Police-like poppy influences.

RUSH - Moving Pictures [HDtracks 2015 remaster] hdtracks logo

"Moving Pictures" is some kind of masterpiece, combining proggy arrangements and technical playing / arrangements with a catchy, FM Rock / hard rock bounce like few albums in Rock history do.
It's probably the best album for people who are just getting into Rush, and don't want to be scared off by the 10 minute instrumentals and concept songs of earlier albums.
This 2015 remastering by HDtracks is jaw-dropping. All comes crystal clear like (at least in my previous listening experiences) never before. Truly excellent job.

01 - Tom Sawyer
02 - Red Barchetta
03 - YYZ
04 - Limelight
05 - The Camera Eye
06 - Witch Hunt
07 - Vital Signs

Geddy Lee - vocals, bass, Minimoog, synthesizers
Alex Lifeson - electric and acoustic guitars, Moog Taurus
Neil Peart - drums, percussion, glockenspiel
Hugh Syme - voice-8 synthesizer on "Witch Hunt", art direction



CHRIS CAFFERY - Your Heaven Is Real (2015)

CHRIS CAFFERY - Your Heaven Is Real (2015) full


For his first solo release in six years, Trans Siberian Orchestra / Savatage guitarist, vocalist, songwriter CHRIS CAFFERY has enlisted the help of virtuoso drummer Brian Tichy (Whitesnake, Billy Idol, Ozzy Osbourne) and Grammy-nominated keyboardist and composer to create "Your Heaven Is Real", available today, July 31, on digipak CD.
"Your Heaven Is Real" is a 13 song collection of that not only continues to display Caffery stellar guitar chops but also his continued confident & improving vocal ability and strong songwriting skills.

"Your Heaven Is Real" was recorded, mixed and produced by Caffery at Face The Music Studios in New York with additional recording done by Lonnie Park at Ultimate Sound in Groton, NY, and Brian Tichy's Big Timers Studio in Canyon Country, CA.
Instantly memorable and catchy, Your Heaven is Real is immediately more appealing and accessible than its predecessor, filled with some of Caffery's heaviest as well as most commercial sounding material to date.

The opening title track, a tale of a very true frightening situation experienced by the guitarist, kicks in with sledgehammer riffs and snarling vocals, a true headbanger's delight and easily one of the must hear songs on the album.
"Arm And a Leg" is another dark, menacing slice of metal, complete with Caffery's venomous 'Jon Oliva-meets-Alice Cooper-meets-Sebastian Bach' vocal delivery, which is then followed up by the instantly catchy, hook laden metal anthem "Just Fine", one of the most upbeat, fun songs he's ever recorded, complete with a killer chorus and great guitar solo.

CHRIS CAFFERY - Your Heaven Is Real (2015) inside

Things take a turn for the poignant & melancholy on the Savatage sounding "Why", a fabulous song with a great lyrical message and emotional vocals (some of Chris' best ever) to go along with many guitar and keyboard textures. Without a doubt it's another highlight of the album, and pushes past the 7-minute length as the one of the albums two epics.
"Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don't" is an upbeat schizoid gem, complete with complex riffs and some futuristic, almost prog-rock styled synths, while the blazing instrumental "Hot Wheelz" (dedicated to a special someone perhaps?) is chock full of manic drumming from Tichy and plenty of Caffery's blazing guitar licks.

"I Never Knew" is more of an atmospheric rocker thick with keyboards and layers of lush guitar work, providing the framework for Caffery to inject some heartfelt, hook laden vocal passages. It's a nice change of pace, and I'd love to hear more in this style from him.
The back end of the CD is equally as strong, kicking off with the energetic riff monger "Sick and Tired", and continuing on with the mid paced, grinding "Death By Design", a doom laden piece that will instantly appeal to fans of vintage Savatage as well as Black Sabbath.

After the brief but lovely guitar instrumental "2-26-15", Caffery unleashes "Too Soon To Be Too Late", a rampaging, addicting example of metal guitar firepower packed with catchy vocal hooks and irresistible melodies. This is one of those songs that if it existed in 1987 would have been a huge hit with teenage hard rock & heavy metal fans.
The second of Your Heaven is Real's lengthy songs is "Over and Over", an emotional ballad that slowly builds to a powerful climax, again showcasing Caffery's confident vocals and featuring a sizzling guitar solo. This leads to the gorgeous "Come Home", a short keyboard/guitar/vocal piece that takes the album out on a tranquil note, again displaying the huge amount of variety that Caffery has included on this fine new release.

CHRIS CAFFERY - Your Heaven Is Real (2015) back

Chris Caffery is a hugely talented, completed musician, something already heard in Trans Siberian Orchestra and Savatage, but in his solo releases the man finds space to develop his varied songwriting skills.
The songs in "Your Heaven Is Real" are explorative, far from ordinary, but he is able as well to pen a catchy heavy tune. The playing and arrangements are always interesting, however, sometimes are buried into a disparate production as few tracks sound little muddy to my ears.
Anyway, "Your Heaven Is Real" permeates with positive energy, power and majesty, obviously a very personal album for the artist but ultimately his most revealing.

01. Your Heaven Is Real
02. Arm And A Leg
03. Just Fine
04. Why
05. Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don't
06. Hot Wheelz
07. I Never Knew
08. Sick And Tired
09. Death By Design
10. 2-26-15
11. Too Soon To Be Too Late
12. Over And Over
13. Come Home

Chris Caffery - Guitars, Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
Brian Tichy - Drums (Whitesnake, Ozzy, Billy Idol)
Lonnie Park - Keyboards
Abigail Stahlschmidt - guest Violin on 12



Thursday, July 30, 2015

VINDICTIV - World Of Fear (2015)

VINDICTIV - World Of Fear (2015) full


Sweden’s VINDICTIV is back with their new release “World Of Fear” released by MelodicRock Records. It’s the band fourth release, the first since 2013’s Cage of Infinity and also the first to feature awesome singer Mark Boals, who is currently doing bass duties in Dokken on the road.
Boals is and always has been one hell of a singer and his pipes are a welcoming addition to the melodic metal / hard rock sounds of VINDICTIV.

The first two VINDICTIV releases featured the golden-throated Goran Edman, but you don't miss him here as Boals is perfectly suited for the band's style.
“Prophecy” opens the album with a heavy and unrelenting riff where Boals voice soars over it. While the heaviness of the song is present, a melodic side shines through and it’s a good precursor of what’s to follow on the rest of the record.
“Why” continues the powerful yet melodic vibe with another riff-based tune and the sounds of Dream Theater from their Images & Words period starts to bright through. The keyboard work on this song is special and very Kevin Moore-ish.
The record takes an even more melodic nature on “Paralyzed” with a catchy chorus as Boals vocals glow even more than they have so far, and again I find myself impressed with the keyboard work of Pontus Larsson (and company).

VINDICTIV does a great job of meshing the heavy and melodic sides of metal, spiced with a hard rock pulse. I don’t want to go any further without mentioning the speedy fretwork of Stefan Lindholm, who keeps pace with the frantic keyboard work and is equally impressive every step of the way.
“Clay” toughens things back up with a heavy riff and some totally impressive guitar soloing. Petrucci-esque guitar tones find their way into the mix of “Day”, and Boals turns in an especially impressive vocal on the track while pushing his voice into the higher registers. The song has a very melodic chorus just like “Paralyzed” and it makes for another memorable track.
By this time in the record you expect either a great guitar or keyboard solo (or both) within the song and you get that yet again.

VINDICTIV - World Of Fear (2015) inside

Title track “World Of Fear” continues with the melodious feel where Boals brings his vocal into the James LaBrie territory (or for a totally left-field comparison I even hear shades of Nick Workman of Vega). I’m very impressed with Boals' performance on this record, like in the finest moments of his career.
“Till The Dawn” eases up and finds the band in a more melodic rock territory, at least until you get to the soloing . Let’s just say John Petrucci would be proud and I really like the extended guitar/keyboard play on this song.
“Dead Men” brings back the heaviness but still retains melody, then “Wall of Pain” continues along the same path with the heavy yet melodic approach. The band chose to cover the Yngwie Malmsteen instrumental classic “Far Beyond The Sun” and they give it a more than faithful run-through. Lindholm does a terrific job on this extremely complex composition.

Even though the “World Of Fear” album is not exactly a progressive record I still come away with many comparisons to a time when Dream Theater leaned towards a more accessible sound, as I hear a lot of Images & Words on this album.
There's a heavy approach in VINDICTIV, and that they certainly are, but the catchy choruses and excellent melodic vocals of Mark Boals ties it all together to make for an enjoyable listen for metallers, prog-heads or melodic rock lovers alike. Not strange MelodicRock Records is releasing “World Of Fear”.
Highly Recommended.

01. Prophecy
02. Why
03. Paralyzed
04. Clay
05. Day
06. World of Fear
07. Till the Dawn
08. Dead Men
09. Wall of Pain
10. Far Beyond the Sun (Yngwie Malmsteen cover)

Mark Boals - Vocals (Iron Mask, Dokken, ex-Royal Hunt, Yngwie)
Stefan Lindholm - Guitars (Firecracker, ex-Endless Circle)
Pontus Larsson - Keyboards (Firecracker, ex-Pork Barrel)
Nalle Påhlsson - Bass (Therion, ex-Treat)
Marco Minnemann - Drums (Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani Band)
Mark Basile – Keyboards
Mats Olausson (RIP) - Keyboards
thanks to Mark Balogh for the words



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

KANSAS - Power [Japanese SHM-CD Limited Edition]

KANSAS - Power [Japanese SHM-CD Limited Edition] front obi


A year and a half after KANSAS disbanded at the end of 1983, former lead singer and keyboardist Steve Walsh returned to revive the group along with original band members Phil Ehart and Rich Williams.
Bass player and excellent vocalist Billy Greer (who had worked with Walsh in the short-lived band Streets after he left Kansas in 1981, and now front Seventh Key) completed the new line-up with skilled guitarist Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs and later Deep Purple), who added a heavier, rockier sound to the band’s music.

They released "Power" the following year, one of the best melodic hard rock albums appeared in the mid-Eighties. Sadly, this is an album ignored by many fans of the genre because the 'Kansas' moniker afraid the more 'easy' listeners.
In fact, this is not your typical Kansas with a progressive feel / melodic waves, but a terrific, glossy produced melodic hard rock collection of songs with an AOR touch, catchy and punchy.

KANSAS - Power [Japanese SHM-CD Limited Edition] back

Starting with the killer "Silhouettes In Disguise", this track sets the album’s sound and style nicely; heavy guitar riffs, fast paced hard rock rhythm and a lovely rich, big drum sound. The title track, again, has that '80s, bombastic compressed drums to the fore and again it is a great hard / melodic rock tune.

The Foreigner-influenced (as the entire album) "All I Wanted" - Top 40 AC hit - sees the band going straight to a pure AOR melody full of synths with vocalist Steve Walsh giving a passionate delivery. He gets another chance in the awesome power ballad "Can't Cry Anymore", a real show stopper.
A video featuring comedian Richard Belzer was produced for "Can't Cry Anymore" but never was widely released. The audio was remixed and it's different from the album version.

The acoustic based "Taking In The View" visits late '70s classic Kansas, "Musicatto" adds a touch of classical music to the mix, while "Secret Service" allows Steve Morse to let fly both on heavy riffs and a couple of tasty solos.
"Tomb 19" is another great commercial '80s AOR track full of dynamics and an insane catchy chorus.

Often overlooked by rabid Kansas fans, "Power" may not be like the band's more prog rock leanings (which I love), but it's a fantastic mid-80s sounding Melodic Rock / AOR album (genres which I love even more!).
Songwriting, performances and production are first rate, not strange as all involved are superb musicians.
This Japanese SHM-CD press sounds truly awesome, a Limited Edition that turned out of print.
A must have for any '80s MHR / AOR fan.

01 - Silhouettes In Disguise
02 - Power
03 - All I Wanted
04 - Secret Service
05 - We're Not Alone Anymore
06 - Musicatto
07 - Taking In The View
08 - Three Pretenders
09 - Tomb 19
10 - Can't Cry Anymore

Steve Walsh: vocals, keyboards
Billy Greer: bass, vocals
Steve Morse: guitars
Rich Williams: guitars
Phil Ehart: drums

Try here;


TRENCH DOGS - Fashionably Late (2015)

TRENCH DOGS - Fashionably Late (2015) full


TRENCH DOGS is a new Swedish quartet presenting their debut EP ironically titled "Fashionably Late", as their music is strongly inspired by the late '80s Sunset Strip movement.
Despite the guy's look and the present trend from Scandinavia, Trench Dogs are not a sleaze band. At least not your typical sleaze as it's currently being done in that region of the planet.

Trench Dogs started as a band around three years ago in Stockholm, and their new material was taped in demo form conducted and produced by Martin Sweet (Crashdïet guitarist). Sweet provided more than a tip encouraging the guys to find their own, personal sound & style.
Forward 2015, Trench Dogs recorded / released "Fashionably Late" by themselves, now available on physical CD.

Since opener "Self-Sabotage" you can feel Trench Dogs are not just sleaze but more timeless Rock 'n Roll. I hear influences from the likes of Dogs D'Amour, Hanoi Rocks or Pretty Vacant, but the guys sound quite original.
Then "Thunder In the Badlands" adds the 'catchy factor' via a foot-tapping rhythm and a vintage guitar sound, while "Ode to Ashes" goes mid-tempo and adds a melodic rock touch (and some acoustic guitars).
For the last cut the band decided to show their sense of humor with "Silver Tongue", indeed a tongue-in-cheek Rock 'n' Roll / Glam / Cowboy rocker with a lot of fun.

Trench Dogs are a promising new act from Sweden. US label Demon Doll Records has already included one of their tracks into the new GlamNation compilation (destined to scan the planet for the best up and coming bands in the Glam, Sleaze and Hard Rock genres) and are plans to sign-up Trench Dogs for a full length CD.
Very well produced and performed (polished & clear) "Fashionably Late" is a cool EP to taste this young band and what are capable of.

01 - Self-Sabotage
02 - Thunder In the Badlands
03 - Ode to Ashes
04 - Silver Tongue

Andy Hekkandi - Vox
Mattias Johansson - Guitars
Li Sick - Bass
Martin Andersson - Drums

physical CD:


SOUL BASEMENT - Behemoths (2015)

SOUL BASEMENT - Behemoths (2015) full


SOUL BASEMENT is the project of Italian musician Fabio Puglisi, not a newcomer to the record industry as under this moniker he has already released five albums, but the just presented "Behemoths" is my first approach to it.
And it is a real find, because the CD is plenty of brimming melodies and elegant sounds in the best Westcoast tradition.

Soul Basement previous efforts featured several vocalists to perform Puglisi's delicate arrangements, but this time I am sure he has chosen a great one that perfectly fit these tunes: Australian based songwriter, singer, musician & producer Glenn Bidmead. The man has various solo albums, a band called Kerosene, and has composed songs for countless artists, including Foreigner's Mick Jones.
Glenn Bidmead's vocals are grand part of the charm of "Behemoths". His smooth, crystal clear melodic pipes drive all the songs with a cheerful grace.

"Behemoths" is Westcoast inspired by the classic L.A. AOR scene from the early '80s, as heard on the deep groove of opener "I Want You".
But Puglisi adds a much welcomed variation all over the CD: "We Travel Fast" is peppered with a little soul touch, the awesome ballad "Daily Bread" has a poppy atmosphere, and "Everytime You're There" incorporates the distinct sound from the present Scandinvian Westcoast/AOR school, ala Ole Borud.
Then the terrific, happy main melody of "Ordinary Days" reminds me Swedish wonders Houston, and their more classy AOR side with Fender Rhodes all over plus harmony vocals galore.

SOUL BASEMENT - Behemoths (2015) inside

All is extremely polished, breezy and smooth, perfectly recorded & mixed. There's a (great) lively feel all over which benefits the record. According to Fabio Puglisi, most was recorded live in the studio with few additional takes and overdubbing.
If you like the new wave of European Westcoast / AOR (I love it) in the vein of Ole Borud, Ulf Jordal, Andreas Aleman, Stefan Gunnarsson, Houston - all featured here on the blog - but also classic stuff like Airplay, Jay Graydon, etc, Soul Basement's "Behemoths" is a mandatory listen.

01 - I Want You
02 - We Travel Fast
03 - Daily Bread
04 - Eveytime You're There
05 - If You Wanna Love Me
06 - Move On
07 - Ordinary Days
08 - Close To You

Fabio Puglisi: keyboards, synths
Glenn Bidmead: vocals, arrangements
rest of personnel unlisted



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

LoReley - Here We Are Again (2015)

LoReley - Here We Are Again (2015) full


Born in France but established in Spain more than twenty years ago, LORELEY have decided to celebrate their anniversary with a new record, including songs composed during the last two decades.
"Here We Are Again" was recorded by themselves, and it's a varied album with a typical European Melodic Hard Rock sound of the '80s.

Since the opening title track and follower "Looking Away", you get the key here: solid rockers with a strong guitar work, lots of synths in the background and catchy choruses, especially on the latter, one of the best cuts on the album.
Singer Franck Ronin has a raspy voice like a mix between Paul Shortino and Steve Newman, and suits the material in a cool manner.

"Boogie Tonight" and later the bluesy "Dirty Dream" go for a more classic rock sound with organ (Hammond emulator) fills, "No Limits" is a nice melodic hard rocker with some Scandi influences, while the catchy "Let’s Stop" confirms these guys know how to write a catchy tune.

LoReley - Here We Are Again (2015) inside

"Crazy" is perhaps my favorite of the lot as has an AOR feeling and a sweet melody, spark guitar riffs and synths all over.
The title of "Rock To Roll Out" say it all (great groove here), "TV Business" explores some broken riffs and pattern structures, and closer pays some kind of homage to Uriah Heep with classy keys and some epic verses.

Well produced and performed, "Here We Are Again" is a really pleasant record by LoReley.
The main focus here is Melodic Hard Rock of all times, but varied and spiced with AOR melodies, classic hard rockin' riffs and '80s style vocals.
I don't know if these guys have plans to present the album soon (they toured Germany, France, Italy before) but I am sure if they do it, there will be a lot of fun onstage.
Very Recommended.

01 - Here We Are Again
02 - Looking Away
03 - Boogie Tonight
04 - No Limits
05 - Dirty Dream
06 - Let’s Stop
07 - Crazy
08 - Rock To Roll Out
09 - Mr. Money
10 - TV Business
11 - Time Is Up

Franck Ronin - vocals
Francisco Zahonero - guitars
Hector Mancheno - keyboards, synths
Gilbert Romero - bass
Roberto Tolsa - drums






ENGINEERED SOCIETY PROJECT is a new rocking band from Houston, TX, formed by veteran musicians from the local scene presenting their debut "Call To Arms".
The guys are inspired by classic sounds from the hard rock genre with a strong '80s feel, but a with an updated production.

Despite some controversial lyrics and political stance (which I don't care too much) what it is remarkable here is the music.
Anyway, if you want to know something about the band name / album title, read some:
"During the last 50 years, deterioration in the moral fabric of our country has systematically shifted personal responsibility and accountability from the citizens, to the government.
Government-sponsored programs continue to grow at an unprecedented rate. These programs encourage a pattern of dependence on the government.
In order to fund the social experiment, politicians continue their reckless tax-and-spend practices. Nation building around the world will continue at the expense of the citizens. Each year the number of tax paying citizens decrease while the tax rates of the remaining working class increase.

As deficits and government dominance grow, there is an erosion of the middle class that was the backbone of our country. Government will use its influence with the dependent citizens to enact laws that will remove basic freedoms from our society.
In the end, the very freedoms our forefathers died for will be taken away by the ones that stand as our leaders.
At that time we all will realize that we are a part of the Engineered Society Project..."

ENGINEERED SOCIETY PROJECT - Call To Arms (2015) inside

Well, let's concentrate in the music, which it's the important thing here, and it's pretty awesome.
Engineered Society Project rocks with potent hard rockers very well composed. The guitars are sharp, the rhythm section powerful & tight, and the vocals, really, really strong.
Guitarist Jay Gough delivers a killer set of riffs in a Chris Degarmo (Queensryche) / Zakk Wylde / George Lynch - Lynch Mob vein, and singer Drew Brown kick some serious ass with a wide range and dynamic performance. His vocal color reminds me Tony Martin ('80s Black Sabbath) and at places Ted Pilot (Fifth Angel).

Indeed, Fifth Angel is an appropriate comparison for Engineered Society Project's music. But all on this record is much more clean, melodic and polished. Yeah, the production is great despite of being handled by themselves.
"Judgement Day" is a terrific 'marching' opener with a groovy atmosphere, "Never Back Down" brings back the best of '80s feel (even with a 1987 Whitesnake smell), while "Edge Of A Scream" reminds you Y&T / Meniketti. All is perfectly arranged and mixed.
"Innocent Man" is slow (not a ballad) yet very melodious embellished with nice keyboards, the title track has some early Queensryche on it, then the racing "Fight" ends the album in a Fifth Angel fashion, easily the heaviest track here but no less effective.


Coming out of nowhere, Engineered Society Project has released a truly impressive debut with "Call To Arms".
This is classic American hard rock with an '80s US metal touch, however, always melodic and polished. As said, production is excellent for an indie all feeling vibrant and sounding crystal clear. Physical CD's will be available soon at the band's website.
Read above again, and if you like the mentioned bands as influence, you need to check Engineered Society Project immediately. You won't be disappointed.
Strongly Recommended.

01 - Judgement Day
02 - Never Back Down
03 - Edge Of A Scream
04 - Innocent Man
05 - Call To Arms
06 - On Comes The Night
07 - Fight

Drew Brown - vocals
Jay Gough - guitars
Timothy Moss - bass
Tra Stark - drums, percussion



Sunday, July 26, 2015

HELIX - Wild In The Streets [Rock Candy Remaster]

HELIX - Wild In The Streets [Rock Candy Remaster] full


These were requested several times in some post comments: HELIX '80s most relevant albums 'Remastered & Reloaded' by Rock Candy Records. Two were featured here some days ago, it's time for the other 2.
Let's go with the last reissued by the label; the rocking "Wild In The Streets".

With the success of their previous albums and benefitting from unrelenting promotion by Capitol Records, Helix toured the world for almost 2 years establishing themselves not only in America and Canada but also in Europe, a territory that embraced the band as if they were their very own.

"Wild In The Streets" was the band’s fourth, and final, album for the major recording label. It was a record of familiar components; big hooks, teeth rattling drum ‘n’ bass, razor sharp guitar riffs and shredding solos all locked into a brace of tunes so catchy they would easily shame the likes of Kiss and Def Leppard.

Of the ten tracks on offer three were contributed by class outside sources, namely Nazareth (‘Dream On’, a killer version better that the original), FM (‘Never Gonna Stop The Rock’) and an unreleased Joe Elliott song called 'She's Too Tough' - which Def Leppard eventually recorded themselves as a B-Side later - all helping to confirm that Helix were still operating at the top of their game.
The sound here is of a band getting back to their roots cultivating a far more aggressive in-your-face attitude.

Produced partly by Neil Kernon (Autograph, Dokken) but mainly by Mike Stone (Whitesnake, Journey) and recorded at Richard Branson’s Manor Studios in rural Oxfordshire, the album goes someway to reaffirming both their party-hardy roots and their ability to entertain on a spectacular level.
There were several drummers contributing on the record, due to main sticksman Greg Fritz Hinz unexplained problems: Mickey Curry (Bryan Adams), Matt Frenette (Loverboy) and even former Helix drummer Brian Doerner (Saga, Refugee), guitarist Brent's twin brother.
The keyboards were provided by British master Don Airey.

HELIX - Wild In The Streets [Rock Candy Remaster] back

"Wild In The Streets" might have been Helix final major label album, but they certainly went out with a bang. Certainly it's their best produced album and rocks great.
The Rock Candy remastering gives the album some much needed bottom end, and the knowledgeable Paul Suter gives a good insight into the turmoil affecting the band at the time.
Despite good initial promotion and sales, the label soon pulled the plug on the album (they were searching for a 'new' Bon Jovi clone) and "Wild In The Streets" was the last record they made for Capitol US, and probably the last Helix remaster by Rock Candy too...
Highly Recommended.

01 - Wild In The Streets
02 - Never Gonna Stop The Rock
03 - Dream On
04 - What Ya Bringin' To The Party
05 - High Voltage Kicks
06 - Give 'Em Hell
07 - Shot Full Of Love
08 - Love Hungry Eyes
09 - She's Too Tough
10 - Kiss It Goodbye

Brian Vollmer – vocals
Brent "Doctor" Doerner – guitars
Paul Hackman – guitars
Daryl Gray – bass, keyboards
Greg "Fritz" Hinz – drums
add. personnel:
Don Airey - keyboards
Mickey Curry (Bryan Adams) - drums
Matt Frenette (Loverboy) - drums
Brian Doerner (ex-Helix Saga, Refugee) - drums



HELIX - Long Way To Heaven [Rock Candy remaster]

HELIX - Long Way To Heaven [Rock Candy remaster] full


These were requested several times in some post comments: HELIX '80s most relevant albums 'Remastered & Reloaded' by Rock Candy Records. Two were featured here some days ago, it's time for the other 2.
Let's go with their more 'AORish' album from the mid-Eighties; the ultra polished "Long Way To Heaven".

Helix were a band you could always count on to deliver; live they were like an explosion in a circus and on record they served up numerous hard rock anthems.
Furthermore, they were relentless hard workers, banging out classy albums in the blink of an eye and touring the world like men possessed. The smart money was on Helix not only making the grade but also setting the bar for Canadian rock in general.

"Long Way To Heaven", originally issued in 1985, was the band’s third album for Capitol records, their two previous records having elevated them from interesting contenders to hot-shot upstarts with their eyes set firmly on the prize.
Naturally, this album doesn’t disappoint either, erupting with a fine selection of sing-it-shout-it party rock anthems to rival the most successful bands of the era, adding a keyboard background and a hair metal feel.

HELIX - Long Way To Heaven [Rock Candy remaster] cd scan

Tracks such as the catchy 'Kids Are All Shakin', 'Ride The Rocket', 'School Of Hard Knocks', 'Bangin’ Off-A The Bricks' and the title track itself leave no stone unturned in the quest for the perfect hard rock anthem.
The first single was 'Deep Cuts the Knife' (Top 20), one of my favorite Helix tunes ever (co-written by AORster Bob Halligan, Jr.) a killer midtempo full of '80s magic. The song received heavy airplay in the U.S., gaining "double breaker" status, and in Canada was added to heavy video play on MuchMusic.

Issued to universal acclaim, Helix’s hard work paid off, especially in Europe. Their first tour to kick off "Long Way To Heaven" was in Sweden where they became the first Canadian Rock band ever to tour that country extensively. For this they achieved their first #1 album in Scandinavia.
Elsewhere, the reception was equally as warm, allowing the band to continue their relentless touring schedule and driving home the message that Helix were one of the hottest tickets on the scene.

HELIX - Long Way To Heaven [Rock Candy remaster] back

Helix first rocked the world a couple years earlier on the excellent No Rest For The Wicked, but I believe they put all the pieces together just right on this "Long Way To Heaven". The songs are great and production top notch.
This Rock Candy remaster is excellent, the best treatment of all Helix reissues, where you can really feel the difference.
A Must Have.

01 - Kids Are All Shakin'
02 - Deep Cuts The Knife
03 - Ride The Rocket
04 - Long Way To Heaven
05 - House On Fire
06 - Christine
07 - Without You (Jasmine's Song)
08 - School Of Hard Knocks
09 - Don't Touch The Merchandise
10 - Bangin' Off-a-The Bricks

Brian Vollmer - vocals
Paul Hackman - guitar and vocals
Brent "The Doctor" Doerner - guitar and vocals
Daryl Gray - bass and vocals
Greg "Fritz" Hinz - drums



WINGS OF DESTINY - Time (2015)

WINGS OF DESTINY - Time (2015) full


Central America is not really associated with Metal, a very few number of bands are known and they are considered to be exotic (well, Bon Jovi's drummer is from there). And to discover a real jam here is very surprising – the band WINGS OF DESTINY from Costa-Rica which was formed in 2013.
The sextet managed to record their first album “Time” of Melodic Metal with some Symphonic and Progressive Metal influences. The album, which was independently released by the band, had drawn good praise.
Now the Power Prog label presents a special edition of “Time”, with freshly recorded extra tracks along with new cover art.

The music can be described as having a very good mix between Symphony X, Allen-Lande and Helloween, ultra melodic metal songs with neoclassical elements, symphonic arrangements and a solid Progressive Metal impact.
Each composition contains several changes of melody and rhythms supported with technical shredding guitar / keyboard duels that are really interesting. Amazing catchy choruses are performed in the best traditions of Helloween or Freedom Call, with excellent layers of harmony.

Lead singer Anton Darusso has a powerful voice with a wide range and could easily be compared to Russell Allen (Symphony X, Adrenaline Mob, Allen/Lande) and Nils Patrik Johansson (Wuthering Heights, Astral Doors).
The rest of the guys display a high level of skills and talent, as the guitar, bass, drums and keyboards parts sound very professional and almost flawless. I must say that I do not expect it from a band from Costa Rica but these fine musicians impressed me.
Additionally, production and layout of the music is tight having a powerful and clean sound; while the mix was so well balanced that you listen this CD with pleasure.

WINGS OF DESTINY - Time (2015) inside

The album opens with “Destiny”, a fast technical metal track with some symphonic elements, intensive guitar riffs and mixed with a very melodic happy chorus. Neoclassical guitar passages are nicely supported with a rather good keyboard solo.
The following track, “Fallen Angel”, is a different when compared to the previous. It is Progressive mid-tempo song played in a Symphony X tradition with several melodies including acoustic motives.
Title track, “Time” is a fast number again with a happy bright optimistic chorus. The highlight for me is the marvelous guitar solo that seems together with the keyboard become one. This could possibly be the best track on the album.

“I Saw an Angel Cry” is a slow and epic composition. It can be best described, as having a fair bit of variation as it includes a piano intro and ending, some untypical slightly distorted vocals, an organ solo and strong riffage.
“Forgive but Not Forget” appears to be a new song. It is a traditional Neoclassical Power track with catchy melodies and crispy vocal lines.

In the track “I Want Out”, Wings Of Destiny made something that appeared to be almost the impossible, and have recorded an this Helloween classic with a slightly changed rhythm and additional keyboard arrangements. The extended guitar and extra-keyboard solos are fantastic. These new elements are amazing and perfectly fit this great song.
“Nothing Last Forever” is a gracious ballad played with a piano and symphonic arrangement, then “Fallen Angel” feature Roberto Tiranti (ex-Labyrinth) whom guest on vocals. It is a nice addition due to Roberto’s high-toned voice, which nicely contrasts with Caruso’s rough singing.

“Time” is a surprisingly cool album, a very professional work from a new band from Costa-Rica.
Originally named 'Destiny' - the band changed their name for their international presentation due to the fact that a long-established and still active Swedish act is called Destiny - Wings Of Destiny have all the necessary elements to land into the scene with success.
This is a strongly recommended CD for all Melodic Power / Prog Metal fans and traditional Metal listeners eager for good melodies and harmonies.

01 - Destiny
02 - Fallen Angel
03 - Time
04 - I Saw an Angel Cry
05 - From Shadows to the Light
06 - Forgive but Not Forget
07 - Into Black Horizon
08 - I Want Out
09 - Nothing Last Forever
10 - Fallen Angel

Anton Darusso (Vocals)
Andres Angulo (Drums)
Alejandro Amador (Keyboards)
Allan "Kalay" Murillo (Guitar)
Cristian Jiménez (Guitar)
Jose Pablo Sequeira (Bass)



Saturday, July 25, 2015

STYX - Edge Of The Century [Japanese SHM-CD Limited Edition]

STYX - Edge Of The Century [Japanese SHM-CD Limited Edition] full


Completing the Japanese nine-album cardboard sleeve (mini LP) reissue series of STYX on high quality SHM-CD, here's the last of the series: "Edge Of The Century".
All these were released a couple years ago, but it was a Limited Edition and already turned out of print.

"Edge Of The Century" is the twelfth studio album by Styx, released in 1990. It was the first (and only) Styx album featuring Glen Burtnik, replacing Tommy Shaw, at that time busy with Damn Yankees. It was also the last album to feature John Panozzo on drums (he would die six years later of gastrointestinal hemorrhaging).
Seven years after breaking up, Styx is back in business, testing the commercial climate for richly arranged harmonies and Melodic Hard Rock tunes.

STYX - Edge Of The Century [Japanese SHM-CD Limited Edition] inside

Indeed, "Edge Of The Century" is not classic Styx, but it's a superb Melodic Hard Rock / AOR album with the awesome, glossy, polished production of the genre around 1989/91.
Glen Burtnik contributed half of the songs on the album, as seems Burtnik more of less had a solo album in the can when Styx asked him to join their ranks, and he offered up a few of his songs.
The catchy "Love is the Ritual" is one of his penned tracks, a fun, melodic rocker actually released as a single. Also the title track and the fine rocker "World Tonite". All are goodies.

JY's bombasting "Homewrecker" rocks just as hard as anything JY has done either by himself or with his fellow Styxers, with a classic '1989 sound'. "Not Dead Yet" is driven by a memorable riff, a cover of an obscure Chicago-area rock band, The Bad Examples. It borrows one of the most overused rock 'n' roll riffs in existence, but rocks great.
And of course there's one of my favorite power ballads from the era; the Dennis DeYoung written "Show Me the Way", which managed to be a Top 5 hit single.

STYX - Edge Of The Century [Japanese SHM-CD Limited Edition] back

As said, is not 'classic' Styx but a great Melodic Hard Rock album with some AOR on it, in a typical late '80s / early '90s fashion: polished melodies and bright production.
All these Styx 9-album Japanese reissue on SHM-CD are out of print, and worth the hunt for a remaining copy.
Highly Recommended.

Universal Japan ~ | SHM-CD | UICY-93928

01 - Love Is The Ritual
02 - Show Me The Way
03 - Edge Of The Century
04 - Love At First Sight
05 - All In A Day's Work
06 - Not Dead Yet
07 - World Tonite
08 - Carrie Ann
09 - Homewrecker
10 - Back To Chicago

Dennis DeYoung - keyboards, vocals
Chuck Panozzo - bass
John Panozzo - percussion, drums
James Young - guitar, vocals
Glen Burtnik - guitar, vocals

Try Here:


Friday, July 24, 2015

JOE SATRIANI - Shockwave Supernova (2015) retail

JOE SATRIANI - Shockwave Supernova (2015) full

* retail full

JOE SATRIANI is often referred to as ‘The Peoples Favourite’ Rock electric guitarist. And that’s because his guitar-work feels so natural. It is sincerely played and has organic charm.
Take for example the title track ‘Shockwave Supernova’ on his new album of the same title to be released next July 24, which is surprising as a shooting star that bursts out of the clouds on a black-velvet night. It has a classical feel, little explosions of bright guitar explode out-and-into the interstellar medium (which is a cosmic backcloth of super flexed drum-work and other stimulating orchestration.) The universal appeal of this artist becomes immediately clear. His work is like the very stardust we are made of.

‘Lost in Memory’ has a bubbling pace — a constant cascade. The heartbeat of your local river, perhaps. As it winds through a much-loved neighbourhood. The guitar almost sprouts from the banks of this beat. Sometimes jumping higher — then glittering and darting in the fringes.
Satriani gathered together his favourite musicians to collaborate on this beautiful album. Mike Keneally (keys and guitars) Marco Minnemann (drums) and Bryan Beller (bass guitar).
But for the ‘Crazy Joe’ track the rhythm is handled by Vinnie Colaiuta (drums) and Jane’s Addiction bassist — Chris Chaney. On this track, the guitar is almost trying to talk to you. Attempting to clarify points. The bass notes sound poppy (Vinnie plays with Sting, so perhaps there is a link.) This is a real Rompa-Stompa.

The great thing about Satch is that he doesn’t get fixated about the technicalities of the recording process. And although the album is superbly put-together (co-produced and engineered by John Cuniberti and recorded at Skywalker Sound in California) the love of his music just shines. You can tell that Joe prefers to groove with his band mates. And that’s why it’s so fluid.

Rock-fans will especially love the ‘Scarborough Stomp’ with tarnished keyboards and bleached-out riffs. The guitar solo here seems particularly burned. Buzzed out and hammered. Here are good times… dreaming high.
We admired the decorative cortication of ‘Butterfly and Zebra’ — a small but perfectly formed samplet of verdigris guitar skilfully superimposed onto a membranous palette.
It’s unlikely that any of these new songs will immediately grab at you and charm you away. They do not dramatically lunge in… Or force themselves onto you. They are not trying to dominate their way into your speakers.
And, probably, that’s not the point of Satch’s work anyhow.

JOE SATRIANI - Shockwave Supernova (2015) back

In general, his ideas and motifs are designed to crystallize gently and to grow — in productive symbiosis — to shine light on your own life experiences. To enrich and enliven your spirit.
As a patient music teacher and lover of sounds, Joe always allows space and time for his songs to find their own way into your heart. He just lays down some interesting puzzles for your brain to unpick.
And so your imagination is delighted right through this fifteen track feast.

Onto the final track, ‘Goodbye Supernova’, again, the guitar imitates patterns of human speech. If you were in a dreamy mood then you could put down your own vocabulary.
This manner of articulation is a stand-out feature of Satriani’s style. It is very clear that he is not just fiddling away on a fret-board. He’s trying to enunciate every idea before it is squeezed out. And he bids you pay attention.
Once again he is the teacher and you are the grateful student.

Never openly grand or particularly fussy, here are complex pieces full of biotic potential. Musical blessings that you will allow into your life time-and-time again — they will grant lasting peace and ease your mind.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Shockwave Supernova
02 - Lost in a Memory
03 - Crazy Joey
04 - In My Pocket
05 - On Peregrine Wings
06 - Cataclysmic
07 - San Francisco Blue
08 - Keep on Movin'
09 - All of My Life
10 - A Phase I'm Going Through
11 - Scarborough Stomp
12 - Butterfly and Zebra
13 - If There Is No Heaven
14 - Stars Race Across the Sky
15 - Goodbye Supernova

Joe Satriani - guitars
Mike Keneally - keys, guitars
Marco Minnemann - drums
Bryan Beller - bass guitar
Vinnie Colaiuta - drums
Chris Chaney - bass
thanks to Neil Mach for the words



Thursday, July 23, 2015

EDGE OF THE BLADE - The Ghosts Of Humans (2015)

EDGE OF THE BLADE - The Ghosts Of Humans (2015) full


EDGE OF THE BLADE is the brainchild of a talented musician / songwriter / producer and studio engineer Andrew Chick, an exciting new project that features two veterans from the British Melodic Hard Rock scene, namely the former drummer for SHY Alan Kelly and the highly awaited return of Mr. John Francis from the After Hours fame.
Their first album “The Ghosts Of Humans” will hit the streets soon published by Escape Music.

This is edgy Melodic Hard Rock (with rocking AOR touches) of the highest order, powerful and surprisingly stronger than expected, notably the noble voice of John Francis and this particular overall feeling of modernism under a new found metallic nature is salutary here, that sensation of greatness is even improved by a slightly down-tuned riffage convention, and an innovative sound design with sharp guitar prominence.
I'm guessing there's nothing surprising about their band name: Edge Of The Blade is also a Journey song, from the Frontiers album.

After the first spins, I might even say that Edge Of The Blade sounds like a modern Journey, if that Journey chose to pick up some vibes from Nineties and wrap the whole thing with a modern sound.
And Francis, in this musical context, certainly has some Steve Perry timbre in his voice.
EDGE OF THE BLADE - The Ghosts Of Humans (2015) logo
John Francis recorded two wonderful albums with After Hours, but that was 25 years ago. Don't worry, he doesn't has loosened any of his pipes. Mostly, he sounds like a husky, sometimes raspy seasoned Perry, yet still singing with melody and stability.
After these things, the fundamental foundation of Edge Of The Blade's music is classic melodic hard rock with some edgy metal and orinal arrangements. They probably lean somewhat towards the latter thanks to Chick's sharp riffage and the relatively heavy bottom end. Actually the riffs sound thick as if the chord structure was duplicated and layered over itself.
Putting these things together, there is definitely a singularity of sound for Edge Of The Blade. The songs may differ in arrangement, but they do have a similar sound or tone throughout this album.

Indeed, this is very attractive sound, but you always need some good songwriting talent to fully develop to its maximum. That's also the good thing about “The Ghosts Of Humans”: the songs are always first and in top notch category.
Just check opener "Vital Signs" (reminiscent of latter day Magnum) or "Everything I Own" (akin Europe 2015) where Alan Kelly's drums really carry the song.
"Believer" has a chugging '90s feel but with some great keyboards, "The Taken" add modernity to its thick riffs, while "River Runs Red" is a killer, rocking ballad where Francis shine.

EDGE OF THE BLADE - The Ghosts Of Humans (2015) inside

In EDGE OF THE BLADE all feels really classic melodic hard rock, but far from a cash-in speculation on the reputation of the line-up, or on the nostalgic side, their first album “The Ghosts Of Humans” is somehow refreshing.
The songs are effective and punchy, penned with the classic '80s style in mind but with numerous original arrangements and twists on par with the contemporary formula / sound, richer and more adventurous than any preconception.
Something healthy is happening in the Melodic Hard Rock scene: the genre is slowly regenerating itself, and bands like Degreed (with their latest CD) or EDGE OF THE BLADE are on the peak of this phenomenon.
HIGHLY Recommended.

01. Vital Signs
02. Believer
03. Everything I Own
04. Mr. Hell
05. River Runs Red
06. Who's In Control
07. The Taken
08. Down on My Knees
09. The Ghosts of Humans
10. Promised Land

John Francis - Lead & Backing Vocals (ex After Hours)
Alan Kelly - Drums (ex Shy)
Andrew Chick - Guitars, Keyboards



SKINTRADE (Matti Alfonzetti) - Scarred For Life (2015)

SKINTRADE - Scarred For Life (2015) full


Fronted by great vocalist Matti Alfonzetti, SKINTRADE are quickly hitting back with their fourth studio record "Scarred For Life" released by AOR Heaven Records tomorrow, July 24.
Following the more than adequate comeback album of last year (featured in this blog), these Swedes consistently deliver in the melodic hard rock genre - and this new CD is no different.

The 10 songs in "Scarred For Life" are infectious, energetic, and bubbling from a bluesy perspective while the vocal harmonies and delivery out of Matti Alfonzetti remains top class, molding the best of David Coverdale and Eric Martin in shimmering grace and gritty textures.
You can expect certain songs to have a cross between the '80s Sunset Strip scene and a little bit of '90s alt hard rock edge like "Storm Will Come" and "Goodbye", especially in terms of the guitar tone Alfonzetti and fellow Skintrade guitarist Stefan Bergström choose to employ.

SKINTRADE - Scarred For Life (2015) inside

At other times the band choose to go for more of a simplified, stripped down groove arrangement, which for the case of "Lay With Me" emphasizes the entertaining musical interplay between guitarists and rhythm section, and allow Matti a chance to dig deeper into his natural bluesy, playful melodic register.

Occasionally throwback elements come into play, the main riff for "Leave a Scar" has a bit of Aerosmith meets Ratt going on, while Skintrade also tackle a left field cover with Katy Perry's "Wide Awake" that works - much more hard rock oriented while the spacey elements are given a heavier, guitar fused charge up.

SKINTRADE - Scarred For Life (2015) back

These are bountiful times if you are a melodic hard rock fan - and Scandinavia seems to be hitting pay dirt when it comes to exemplary songwriting and performances while understanding the need for memorable hooks, melodies, and choruses.
Skintrade with their second go around aren't living on nostalgia - and "Scarred for Life" proves their desire to keep the genre potent and worthwhile in current times.
Strongly Recommended.

01. Scarred For Life
02. Goodbye
03. Wide Awake
04. Lay With Me
05. Find A Way
06. Lovehate
07. Leave A Scar
08. Broken
09. Storm Will Come
10. 15 Minutes Gone

Matti Alfonzetti - Vocals, Guitar
Stefan Bergström - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Håkan Calmroth - Bass
Håkan Persson - Drums, Backing Vocals
Matt Coe - words



GUS G. (Ozzy Osbourne) - Brand New Revolution (2015)

GUS G. (Ozzy Osbourne) - Brand New Revolution (2015) full


GUS G. is mainly recognised as the guitarist for Firewind and Arch Enemy, but basically because he was handpicked by Ozzy Osbourne in to become his new lead axe-man.
Last year was the time for his solo debut - a very good one - and now he has help from the mighty Jeff Scott Soto, Elize Ryd of Amaranthe, Jacob Bunton (Adler) and the great Mats Leven (Candlemass, Treat, Yngwie) to lend their vocals to "Brand New Revolution", Gus G. second solo album to be released tomorrow.

'The Quest' already pumps you up for what is yet to come on the album. It’s the only instrumental on the CD, and absolutely incredible. An action-packed, energetic introduction that fades out softly into the album title track as Bunton sings on that as well as 'Burn and We Are One'.
All of these have a savage hard rock sound that stamps its way along the audio waves that are shooting through your speakers with excellent solos (what else would you expect?) that sizzle your brain like bacon on a grill.
Elize Ryd lends her vocals on 'What Lies Below', adding some aggression and crunch to the album, making way for the ballad 'Behind Those Eyes'.
Jeff Scott Soto provides his legendary voice on 'Gone To Stay', returning to the hard rock vibe Bunton provides along with 'One More Try'. This song with some AOR feel is sandwiched between ballads, superb strong ballads to be precise.

'Come Hell or High Water' is the first song to feature Mats Leven, possibly one of my favourite cuts on the album, along with his last two 'If It Ends Today' and 'The Demon Inside'. His vocals screeching through these songs something to behold, as it is with the vocalists on this album.
If 'It Ends Today' is added to the soft rock list, as the ballads on this album aren't cheesy it makes this album essential.
Jeff Scott Soto has one last song with 'Generation G' that is in between the latter two of Leven’s tunes, a song that has a similar vibe to Youth Gone Wild by Skid Row when it comes to uniting a group of people one way or another, it’s uplifting. Great one.
The dark and stormy 'The Demon Inside' finishes this album with slow tempo, crunching riffs and a catchy chorus, another highlight.

GUS G. (Ozzy Osbourne) - Brand New Revolution (2015) inside

"Brand New Revolution" is a remarkable listen, driven by a terrific guitar work but focused on the songs, very good hard rockin' songs.
Gus G's incredible talent shifts through the album but all feels like a real band, with a tight rhythm section courtesy of Marty O' Brien (Lita Ford band) on bass and Jo Nunez (Firewind) on drums.
It’s great blend of hard rock and power ballads often made me think of modern Whitesnake, but only for the mix of moods, not the sound. The vocalists are an absolute treat to listen (especially Soto and Leven), and with the excellent co-production / mix by Mike Fraser (Metallica, Van Halen, Aerosmith), this is a winner.

"Brand New Revolution" does everything perfectly to show that Gus G. is a complete, talented musician who has fired out a monstrous, kick ass rocking album.
Highly Recommended.

01. The Quest
02. Brand New Revolution (feat. Jacob Bunton)
03. Burn (feat. Jacob Bunton)
04. We Are One (feat. Jacob Bunton)
05. What Lies Below (feat. Elize Ryd)
06. Behind Those Eyes (feat. Jacob Bunton)
07. Gone To Stay (feat. Jeff Scott Soto)
08. One More Try (feat. Jacob Bunton)
09. Come Hell Or High Water (feat. Mats Levén)
10. If It Ends Today (feat. Mats Levén)
11. Generation G (feat. Jeff Scott Soto)
12. The Demon Inside (feat. Mats Levén)

Gus G. - Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Marty O' Brien (Lita Ford band) - bass
Jo Nunez (Firewind) - drums
guest Vocals:
Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie, Talisman)
Elize Ryd (Amaranthe)
Jacob Bunton (Adler)
Mats Levén (Candlemass, Treat, Yngwie)



SYMPHONY X - Underworld (2015)

SYMPHONY X - Underworld (2015) full

* the Real one

Odds are that even if you're not familiar with American prog-metal act SYMPHONY X, you've at least heard of them before. If you’re anything like me then they may have been on the peripheral of your musical vision for a number of years but for whatever reason you've just never shown them much interest. Maybe prog isn't your cup of metal, or maybe you've never been exposed to what they have to offer.
Whatever the case may be, if you are a fan of melodic, metallic heavy music music then you absolutely owe it to yourself to give "Underworld", the NJ based quintet’s 9th studio album, a proper listen.

Progressive metal is known for incorporating the exemplary musicianship and avant-garde conceptualization of prog rock with the muscle and weight of metal and Symphony X have become masters of just such a juxtaposition.
The problem that many people have with progressive music, whether it be metal or rock, is that it has a tendency to become a bit too cerebral, and meanders off in lengthy musical digressions. Prog metal is not known for its hooks or catchy choruses, that’s for sure.

SYMPHONY X - Underworld (2015) inside

Traditionally it’s been a ‘thinking man’s metal’, focused more on musical exploration and conceptualization than achieving mass appeal. Here is where Symphony X comes in
"Underworld" displays sophisticated musicianship and composition as well as a discernible attention to songwriting. Guitarist and primary songwriter Michael Romeo has this to say on Symphony X’s official website regarding the new album: “Every song is to-the-point and fine-tuned, with us paying a lot of attention to the hooks, voices, riffs, and keeping the interest and the energy high for the entire record.”

"Underworld" also is remarkable in that it contains some of the heaviest moments that Symphony X have ever recorded, but at the same time, the most melodic. Romeo also stated that “It is heavy and aggressive as fuck when it needs to be, yet soaring and emotional at other times. I think the balance is just right.”
Such is most assuredly the case, as evidenced by the title track 'Underworld' with its shredding guitars, concussive percussion and surprisingly vocals from the awesome Russell Allen. This man should be right now the best Rock shouters out there.
Also 'Kiss of Fire' is heavy and crunchy, however it is contrasted by the more subdued but equally impressive 'Swan Song' with its sweeping orchestration and poignant vocals and the soulful, acoustically driven 'Without You'.

SYMPHONY X - Underworld (2015) back

To be released tomorrow July 24, "Underworld" is a focused and immaculately crafted bridge between prog metal’s insular nature and traditional melodic metal’s commercial appeal, which does nothing to lessen its sophistication.
Symphony X did one of the best albums of the year, one that this blog truly recommends for you no matter which is your preferred genre. This is a perfectly crafted opus, with great songwriting and stupendous production.
A top notch release from consummate musicians.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Overture
02 - Nevermore
03 - Underworld
04 - Without You
05 - Kiss of Fire
06 - Charon
07 - To Hell and Back
08 - In My Darkest Hour
09 - Run With The Devil
10 - Swansong
11 - Legend

Russell Allen - Vocals
Michael Romeo - Guitars
Michael Lepond - Bass
Michael Pinnella - Keyboards
Jason Rullo - Drums
thanks to Farron Watson



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

SHOOTING STAR - Into The Night (2015)

SHOOTING STAR - Into The Night (2015) full album


Cult rockers SHOOTING STAR enjoyed a considerable success during the '80s with a bunch of great albums. Starting with a pomp/AOR sound which developed in a hard rock vein at the '90s, Shooting Star always delivered quality material.
Now with a new young singer in Todd Pettygrove, the band from Kansas are releasing a new album today, titled "Into The Night".

Shooting Star was the first American band signed by Virgin Records, with their debut LP produced by Gus Dudgeon (Elton John, David Bowie).
Their '85 album 'Silent Scream' still is one of my favorite pure Eighties AOR albums from the era, with one of the best cover artwork as well. In 2006 they returned with another solid record and the excellent Kevin Chalfant on lead vocals.
Shooting Star always has been active, with a touring schedule that would be the envy for many established acts.

Shooting Star 2015 is more classic rock oriented with a strong melodic rock foundation, and a young, energetic new singer.
You can't go wrong with songs like the racing opener 'Don't Waste My Time', the anthemic, AORish 'Hole In My Heart', the rocking 'This Is Our Town' and 'Bring Down The House', or the meaty mid-tempo 'Time Never Surrenders'.

SHOOTING STAR - Into The Night (2015) inside

Shooting Star decided to allow "Into The Night" to be downloaded for free. They want to spread the word about the quality of this release, and indeed it's a very good stuff.
The files are not at the best bitrate, but enjoyable nonetheless. The band will sell a cd/dvd package at the shows, but if you want the album now, this is the way.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Don't Waste My Time
02 - Hole In My Heart
03 - Let Me Know
04 - This Is Our Town
05 - Eye Of The Needle
06 - Time Never Surrenders
07 - Never Giving Up On Your Love
08 - Bring Down The House
09 - She Gives Me Chills
10 - Into The Night

Van McLain - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Steve Thomas - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Todd Pettygrove - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Dennis Laffoon - Keyboards, Bass, Vocals

Not for sale
Physical CD at shows only


VALERIE - Young Hunger (2015)

VALERIE - Young Hunger (2015) full


If you are a fellow reader of this blog, you must remember VALERIE from Norway, presented on these pages a couple years ago with their debut CD. If you are new to them, you better listen this new ambitious Melodic Hard Rock band pronto.
After an EP last year (also featured in the blog) Valerie returns with their sophomore full album "Young Hunger".

The style of Valerie is pure classic Melodic Hard Rock with a sound and style influenced by '80s acts like Icon, Dalton, Da Vinci or Dokken, aiming for big, sing-along choruses and guitar riffs, along with blistering guitar solos and soaring vocal harmonies. Valerie is 1987 in 2015... with an updated sound.
On these tracks this young band shows the maturity of a seasoned veteran group; from the killer guitar work by BT Valerie (not to mention his vocals) to the uplifting midsection of bassist Augustus Clark and drummer Erlend Omdal, complemented by the crunchy rhythm guitar of Magnus Christiansen.

VALERIE - Young Hunger (2015) cd photo

Starting with the AOR-driven heaven of "Night After Night", the album shows how much the guys have matured both musically and as performers.
More rocking but still plenty of sing-along choruses and harmonies are the catchy "Bye Bye", the layerd "Firm Believer", the heavier "No Way Back", and the anthemic, infectious title track "Young Hunger".
"Love & Affection" is another highlight (reminds me Firehouse) mixed with Autograph, while "The Last Time" is the ballad, but not your typical one: it's all based on harmony vocals and some synths / pianos in the background - love this one.

VALERIE - Young Hunger (2015) back

Following the success of their previous effort, Valerie once again teamed up with producer Bård Torstensen of Swedish-grammy award winning band Clawfinger and legendary producer Beau Hill (Ratt, Warrant, Europe).
Beau Hill himself contacted the band after hearing "Night After Night" single on a local radio station in Texas, exclaiming that 'there is some serious musical brainpower in this one', and offered to do the mixing on this, their sophomore release.
"Young Hunger" is a no-brainer for any '80s Melodic Hard Rock fan, mixing American / European sounds of the genre with success.
HIGHLY Recommended.

01 - Night After Night
02 - Love & Affection
03 - Bye, Bye
04 - Firm Believer
05 - All I Want (All I Need)
06 - No Way Back
07 - Young Hunger
08 - The Last Time
09 - Dance (Heart To Heart)
10 - Together As One
11 - Get Ready [bonus track]

BT Valerie - Lead Vocals, Guitars
Erlend Omdal - Drums, Backing Vocals
Augustus W. Clark - Bass, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Magnus Christiansen - Guitars, Backing Vocals
thanks to Zimm



Tuesday, July 21, 2015

JONO - JoNo (the first album)

JONO - JoNo (the first album) full


Few days ago we presented JONO's fresh 2015 album (their second), a delicious piece of music for sure, and contender for album of the year.
But before the Swedish band was formed, JoNo started as a solo project of singer Johan Norrby (hence the moniker ”JoNo”), some fifteen years ago. A record was made and released in 2006 only in Scandinavia, involving some of the members of today’s band setting.
Due the quality of this band, some of you asked for that 'lost', 2006 album. so here it is.

Simply entitled ”JoNo”, the album pretty much reflects what the band would be in the future.
All of the songs were written by Johan Norrby himself, and apart from lead & harmony vocals, he plays keyboards. Throughout the entire album you can hear that he most of all, likes to write songs that have a lot of pathos, passion and drama.
Yeah, Norrby / JoNo always has been inspired by acts such as Queen, Robby Valentine and Valensia - all acts that have the same kind of singer that just sounds like Johan when he sings in the higher regions.

JONO - JoNo (the first album) inside

The 10 songs on this early JoNo album display a fine combination of Pomp meets Progressive meets rock & pop, in the same fashion of the band today's sound.
The only difference (and not a minor point) is production; this self-titled debut album was an indie release, and the budget obviously not so big. The drums are quite tiny at places, and the band's present bombast is not so 'big'.
Anyway, these are greatly composed / performed songs that will delight any fan of the band, and general listeners eager for well crafted Rock music.
Strongly Recommended.

01 - You Can't Touch Me Now
02 - Feeling
03 - When You Smile
04 - Every Little Thing
05 - Just a Man
06 - The World Is Spinning
07 - All Around
08 - One Man
09 - The Meaning of Life
10 - Live

Johan Norrby - vocals, keyboards
Janne Henriksson - bass, guitar, vocals
Stefan Helleblad - guitar
Johan Carlgren - keyboards
Jocke - drums

Out Of Print


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