Wednesday, September 30, 2015

THE WINERY DOGS - Hot Streak (2015)

THE WINERY DOGS - Hot Streak (2015) full


Richie Kotzen, Mike Portnoy and Billy Sheehan or THE WINERY DOGS are on a "Hot Streak", according to the title of their new album to be released next October 2.
The trio first exploded onto the Rock scene with their self-titled, self-produced and critically acclaimed debut album two years ago, which cracked the top 10 on five different music charts and their shows were one of the most sought after (and sold out) events of last year.

The Winery Dogs now return their sophomore album "Hot Streak", which simply put, is exactly what this band is on. With the uncertainty of how their debut release would win over fans, The Winery Dogs have settled nicely into their role as one of Rock's newest bands saving the genre.
The new thirteen-song album begins with the amazing bass work of Billy Sheehan on "Oblivion" with Portnoy's double-bass drum motoring the song. Kotzen's voice continues to keep sounding better as in "Captain Love," one of the album's strongest tracks.

THE WINERY DOGS - Hot Streak (2015) inside

The boys get a little funky with their breakdown of title track "Hot Streak," before Kotzen opens up with an amazing guitar solo in "Empire."
They take a detour from their hard rock assault with the piano ballad, "Fire," then come banging down the door with the pounding rhythm of "The Bridge." Sheehan gets to flex his fingers once again on "War Machine," before finishing the album with the arena rocker, "The Lamb."

Needless to say; "Hot Streak" rocks bigtime.
The Winery Dogs' debut was already awesome, this new effort is equally great, better if you want as there's even more song variation.
Buy it with your eyes closed :-)

01. Oblivion
02. Captain Love
03. Hot Streak
04. How Long
05. Empire
06. Fire
07. Ghost Town
08. The Bridge
09. War Machine
10. Spiral
11. Devil You Know
12. Think It Over
13. The Lamb

Mike Portnoy - Drums
Billy Sheehan - Bass
Richie Kotzen - Vocals, Guitars



LIPSTICK - Lipstick [Special Edition +4] (2015)

LIPSTICK - Lipstick [Special Edition +4] (2015) full


I resulted interested in US rockers LIPSTICK when I read that ex- Warrant / St. James guitarist Billy Morris was one of the founder members. Originally a studio project put together with vocalist Greg Troyan in the fall of 2012, Lipstick soon became a full band and a live act with a theatrical show.
Lipstick's self-titled debut was presented last year, but the guys have just re-released the CD in a Special Edition format featuring 4 extra new tracks.

It is always a lot of fun playing a CD for the first time from a band that you are not familiar with and without having previously heard any of the songs. This usually rarely happens to me in these days of advanced technology and singles.
About Lipstick's musical style, think glam metal in the style of Poison's Look What The Cat Dragged In or Kix with a punky sleazy edge and different vocals, and you will have an idea of what Lipstick offer on their debut self-titled record.
Yet, Lipstick also refuses to be pigeonholed in that it is not afraid to reflect the best aspects of the seventies in the form of classic rock, straightforward hard rock and even some progressive aspects.
Note how the Lipstick glam image owes more to a corresponding seventies shock rock feel as opposed to the overuse of hairspray and spandex characteristic to the '80s.

The songs on "Lipstick" are for the most part poppy and melodic, catchy, short and fun.
But also there is a lot of variety from the piano filled 'Merle' to the Great Big Sea sounding 'Fight Club' and in that regard, it reminds me of some of Alice Cooper‘s more eclectic releases.
The one common element for most of the songs are the catchy choruses and the well played guitar riffs & solos from Billy Morris, a guy seriously influenced by the '80s greats but with a personal sound.

LIPSTICK - Lipstick [Special Edition +4] (2015) inside

Opener 'We’re Here To Rock You' draws upon all of this and more with its non-stop relentless energy and monster chorus hook of the kind to draw you in and refuse to let go.
'I Like The Way I Rock' comes across in the form of a companion track, upholding the unremitting energy but in the bluesier package with complementary cowbell and dogged guitar work. In a similar vein, aptly entitled 'Having Fun' proves exactly that in representing a vibrant three-minute energy burst in which catchy hooks and a boogie flavored hard rocking grrove prevails.
Taking a heavier and grittier approach is 'Rock N Roll Forever', as an anthem-like rock mentality plays a lead role on a track with a similar type of freely flowing and all out barreling verve. The exuberant energy the the song bring to the table is on the infectious side of things.

'Alone' also delivers the crunch-laden goods but in the more tempered package, with reverberant bass solidifying the churning low end and polished backing vocals highlighting the poignantly done chorus. A commercial aspect comes to the forefront as a result.
Likewise, 'I Want The World To Know' gives rise to an accessible element with its lighter mid-tempo flavorings in which pronounced keyboards and soaring guitar feedback play decisive roles.

Lightening things further is the melodic hard rock and AOR leanings to 'Tonight'. This one places priority on a generous keyboard mix while backing off (even if just slightly) the guitar emphasis, albeit not to a fault either way.
'Love One Another' takes a crisp acoustic form, simple (but not crude or simplistic) and up-tempo in demeanor (playing up more commercial AOR elements). Lesson learned is how you can mellow out but not lose the listener in the process. Also standing out are the middle register vocal abilities of Greg Troyan, whose mostly gritty but also smooth and even flavorings never fail to complement whether it be the groups heavier material or that lighter in form.
'The Conan Song' is a curious little rocker. It was composed by Lipstick with famous Conan O’Brien’s self-titled talk show in mind. They band really want to be on Conan's show, and they want Conan to know. However, it's the less interesting song in the album (and a bit silly if you ask me).

When Lipstick takes a little progressive stance, they are pretty interesting as well. The aforementioned 'Merle' (one of the only two long tracks on the CD) starts to reserved acoustic guitar before turning into a full bore rocker with the rollicking piano, elevated tempo and mirthful mentality to match.
The other cut clocking over the seven minutes is the fast 'The Flash', a heavier and more aggressive stance with driving riffs galore and curtly done refrain delivered in too the point fashion.
Highlight to the song, and helping make it one of the album's best tracks, is the four-minute instrumental break in which Billy Morris showcases his skillful soloing guitar abilities.

The four bonus tracks on this Special Edition begin to an alternate mix of 'Having Fun' that features the heavier guitar sound. 'Illium' and 'Fight Club' were composed by bassist Stephen Smith for his previous band, so expect something different; the former is a cool science fiction themed piece, while latter leans in an offbeat pop-wave direction, which is not exactly my cup of tea. The song reportedly is a concert staple, so perhaps it translates better live.
Closing things is a classy piano rendering of 'I Want The World To Know', re-discovering the melodic backbone of this pretty good song.

LIPSTICK - Lipstick [Special Edition +4] (2015) logo

Lipstick is all about fun, and their rocking, hooky short songs reflects that spirit.
Production is crisp and tight with all the needed elements: sturdy guitar mix, staunch bass presence and proper balance of vocals, overall not too much polished allowing the right combination of refinement and incessant, raw energy.
Perhaps the enjoyment of Lipstick's debut record will depend on how you enjoy Troyan's singing which is pretty one dimensional, but between their '80s influenced poppy metal tunes the band add some more juicy songs with interesting development, and there is where Billy Morris' guitars take a central role.
And the guy can play, believe me, not in vain Mr. Big's Paul Gilbert pick him for his live band as supporting guitarist.

According to the band, Lipstick's goal was to create music that is 'fun, exciting and optimistic'. I think they have more than exceeded those expectations and leaves us waiting for a follow up release - and hopefully sooner rather than later!

01 - Were Here To Rock You
02 - I Like The Way I Rock
03 - Alone
04 - Merle
05 - Having Fun
06 - The Conan Song
07 - I Want The World To Know
08 - Tonight
09 - The Flash
10 - Love One Another
11 - Rock N Roll Forever
12 - Its Christmas (And You Don't Want Me Here)
13 - Having Fun (Alternate Mix) *
14 - Illium *
15 - Fight Club *
16 - I Want The World To Know (Alternate Take) *
* denotes Special Edition Bonus Tracks

Greg Troyan - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Percussion
Billy Morris - Guitar, Bass, Backing Vocals
Stephen Smith - Bass, Vocals
Eric Penticoff - Keyboards
Casey Horn - Backing Vocals
Greg Loyacano. Bob Consiglio - Drums
Regdar - Drums, Sythesizers
Ray Brown - Percussion
Russ Richards - add. Keyboards
Tim Burris - Drums on "We're Here To Rock You"
Tim Blackman - Drums on "Tonight"
Sean Doran - Guitar on "Tonight"
Matt Devonshire - Bass on "The Flash"
Kelly Carne - Backing Vocals on "Merle"



SILENT JACK - Play The Game (2015)

SILENT JACK - Play The Game (2015) full


British hard rockers SILENT JACK may have born in the wrong place & time, but honestly, I don't care. Because after listening their debut "Play The Game" (released today, Sept. 30) you can say it does not matter where you come from if you play from heart (and you play really well).

Growing up in the mid '80s and loving rock n roll it was pretty impossible not be in the thrall of – and enthralled by – bands like Motley Crüe, Cinderella, Poison, etc. But it wasn’t just the bands that made it really big (and Guns n Roses probably made it biggest of all), there was a plethora of bands who were on the underground.
Bands like Dangerous Toys, Johnny Crash, and countless more, who if the mega bands were off in their private jets sniffing cocaine at 30,000 feet off the chest of a groupie (unless countless books on the era have lied to me), were content to play some fleapit somewhere having a great time and getting drunk on some cheap moonshine.

As time has gone by its become fashionable to say all the music of this era was shit (it wasn’t) and lazy, crap journalists tell you that with one swing of his chords Kurt Cobain ended it all (he didn’t).
Sleazy hard rock – as it’s now known – was and is fun, and in a downright miserable world right now, not every piece of music has to reflect the world around us. There’s surely still room for a band who reckons they’d fight anyone who came between them and their whiskey.

Step forward Silent Jack.
These guys are from Birmingham, UK, but they sound as L.A. natives 30 years ago. And they sound darn fine.
They have been together six years but you’d guess they’ve waited a lot longer to record these songs, and it paid its dividends in terms of quality and polish.

SILENT JACK - Play The Game (2015) inside

The album starts in absolutely gleeful manner with 'Hellride'; instant hooks, with a sleazy solo and the classic bass-led breakdown. Let’s not forget the fair smattering of gang vocals. The party is started, and from there on in "Play The Game" happily conforms to every single thing you’d want it to, it’s sleazyer than an eighty year old woman in stockings and suspenders and twice as dirty.
The title track is a real swaggering affair, 'Whisky In Me' adds a lot of groove, and 'Love Machine' (not a WASP cover) manages to not half sound like The Almighty's Blood, Fire And Love (there’s very few bigger compliments than this).

'Midnight Ride' is a street race rocker in the Motley vein, while 'I Am The Law' brings it all down a notch, at least for the intro, before the thick, dirty riff kicks in. 'Pretty Poison' is pure '80s Sunset Strip hair metal, then 'Highway Man' is perhaps the best written song on the record with a melodic rock essence full of substance.
We have a big ballad, 'Turn Away' that would get lighters in the air if lighters were allowed, there’s a massive hook or two.

Also – and quite fabulously – there’s a song called 'Too Many Women' and if you think you can have this type of album without a dollop of sex then you don’t know this type of rock n roll.
Even better there’s a song with a harmonica opening as these albums almost had to have by law: “Outlaw” is bluesy and superb.
'Love Bite' throws us back to the 80's territory again with a great guitar work resembling Slash's finest moments, and we reach the last song on the CD with the bluesy 'Make It Right', featuring a quite original arrangement.

On "Play The Game" Silent Jack pay a homage to the greats yeah, but it’s more than that; it’s the sound of a band fulfilling its dreams. These guys may have born in UK but their hearts reincarnate from someone who lived & sweated the Sunset Blvd in 1987.
Rich Mason’s vocals are perfect for this genre, like a mix of a young Axl Rose and Vince Neil, Adam Carson’s lead work is sublime throughout - in both tone and execution - and we have in Dickie Spider (bass) and Scott Carson (drums) that kind of relentless chugging rhythm section typical from the '80s (and not so easy to replicate).

If Ratt, Motley, Kiss, Black N Blue, Poison et all with their late '80s albums once rocked your world, Silent Jack's "Play The Game" is a must in your collection.

01 - Hellride
02 - Whisky & Me
03 - Play The Game
04 - Love Machine
05 - Midnight Ride
06 - I Am The Law
07 - Pretty Poison
08 - Turn Away
09 - Highway Man
10 - Too Many Women
11 - Outlaw
12 - Love Bite
13 - Make It Right

Rich 'Stitch' Mason - Vocals, Guitar
Adam Carson - Lead Guitar
Dickie Spider - Bass
Scott Carson - Drums, Backing Vocals



Tuesday, September 29, 2015

QUEENSRYCHE - Condition Hüman (2015)

QUEENSRŸCHE - Condition Hüman (2015) full


Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and metalheads of all ages: QUEENSRŸCHE are back! But not just in the sense of their new album "Condition Hüman" to be released soon; no this return goes much deeper than that. This for all intents and purposes is a resurrection of what used to be a mighty force in the metal world long ago, and a true return to form on what they once stood for: uncompromising musical excellence.

The turmoil that has engulfed this band over the past several years has been well documented but now that the messy break up and legal entanglements with original singer Geoff Tate are done and dusted you get the sense that the band is refreshed, enthusiastic about the future and alive again.
A great weight has been lifted from their collective shoulders and it shows in the quality of work on Condition Hüman. Right from the word go you can tell this is going to be a different Queensrÿche experience from some of the media/fan criticised efforts served up of late.
From the opening few bars of the first single 'Arrow Of Time', there is a strong feeling that the band have rediscovered the “Queensrÿche” formula and returned to a style more in tune with albums such as Empire and Hear In The Now Frontier. 
Put simply, from start to finish this sounds like a Queensrÿche album should.

I don’t know how much time needs to pass before a song can be legitimately classified as a “classic” but I am more than happy to label 'Guardian' in that category. This is the type of song which the band built their reputation on, and I can see this becoming a crowd favourite in a live setting. Other cuts that are sure to warm the hearts of die-hard fans include 'Hellfire', 'Selfish Lives' or 'Hourglass'.

A hallmark of the band’s music is the ability to intertwine acoustic guitars with heavy riffs and change the dynamic of the song in the space of a five minute time frame. On Condition Hüman they visit this approach with outstanding results on the haunting 'Bulletproof ' and 'Just Us'.
The band are no strangers to exploring social and political commentary, relationships, revolution, lucid dreaming and the human condition. Once again Queensrÿche venture down these reliable and familiar roads of inspiration.

The album closes with the 8-minute title track, a multi-sectioned epic that’s easily the most ambitious thing the band has done in 20-plus years. Think 'Suite Sister Mary' meets 'Promised Land' with a touch of latter-day Savatage for good measure. A brilliant composition.
The band has truly gone all-out on this album, making the previous QR 2013 record harsh mix feel like a glorified demo by comparison.
Despite Condition Hüman being only the 2nd record of his career, Todd LaTorre sounds incredibly powerful and supremely confident. While he was justifiably accused of being a Geoff Tate clone previously, on Hüman he sounds like a fully-realized blend of influences, with Tate being merely one of them.
He navigates a far wider range of vocal styles than he did previously (his sotto voce on 'Just Us' was a nice surprise).

Founding axeman Michael Wilton seems to have formed a formidable guitar duo with relative newcomer Parker Lundgren, each adding color to the other’s rhythm playing and occasionally joining forces for some sweet harmonized leads.

QUEENSRŸCHE - Condition Hüman (2015) back

"Condition Hüman" is a very solid, at places kick ass effort, and proves once and for all that Queensrÿche can come up with good material despite losing its two most prominent members.
It may lack the element of surprise that QR 2013 had, but more than makes up for it with increased confidence and creativity, plus a more 'polished' production in the traditional 'Queensrÿche clean way'.
LaTorre is clearly a galvanizing force for Queensrÿche, despite being the new guy, and you can hear the band solidifying their writing and sound around his voice.
For anyone that misses “classic” Queensrÿche, or just enjoys first class heavy rock progressive music, "Condition Hüman" is a really great one.

01 - Arrow Of Time
02 - Guardian
03 - Hellfire
04 - Toxic Remedy
05 - Selfish Lives
06 - Eye 9
07 - Bulletproof
08 - Hourglass
09 - Just Us
10 - All There Was
11 - The Aftermath
12 - Condition Human

Michael Wilton - Guitar
Eddie Jackson - Bass
Scott Rockenfield - Drums
Parker Lundgren (ex-Geoff Tate live) - Guitar
Todd LaTorre (ex-Crimson Glory) - Lead Vocals



W.A.S.P. - Golgotha (2015)

W.A.S.P. - Golgotha (2015) full


Six years have passed since the world saw a new studio album from W.A.S.P., but next week the wait ends, as Blackie Lawless and Co. will release their new album entitled "Golgotha".

On "Golgotha" W.A.S.P. spools out another biblical-titled metal jaunt, this time focusing upon the hallowed grounds where Jesus Christ was crucified ('Golgotha' is the Hebrew for 'the place of the skull').
The legendary Blackie Lawless has reportedly experienced a religious rebirth, considering he vowed four years ago to never again play W.A.S.P.'s signature filth rocker 'Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)' live and he's expurgated the bawdier parts of 'Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the Rue Morgue)' onstage.

Whether or not you approve of Lawless' cleanup efforts, "Golgotha" is a vigorous effort with a supposed guidance of the Holy Spirit giving his work more conscience and concentration, if "Eyes of My Maker" is no indication. Imploring "Jesus, I need you now" on the title track, Blackie Lawless is an altogether new man playing the same tricks, this time with huge conviction.
"Golgotha" (not wholly a concept album) is no different in structure than any W.A.S.P. album you've heard before, but its girth, maturity and newfound virtue puts it leaps ahead of the band's most recent outings.

Opening number "Scream" is a tight W.A.S.P. archetype with a blaring hook, humming bass line and terrific vocals from Blackie, who sounds like he's stored something in reserve during his extensive break. The backing vocals and dropped-in organs gives "Scream" added bulk and Doug Blair screeches and skids his guitar solo with gusto as the song implies sex but with class.
Blair is a beast of a different nature altogether on this album, hitting the pinnacle of his powers on the guttural seven-minute ballad "Miss You" and during a fierce progression on the 7:45 epic "Slaves of the New World Order".

As should be expected on any W.A.S.P. album, galloping bass leads the charge on "Last Runaway" (perhaps a nod of sorts to Lita Ford, ex-wife of former guitarist Chris Holmes?), but the bigger part of the story to the song is its grabbing descant and a cheerful, melodic sway by Blackie Lawless, whose singing is bedazzling here. Blackie then toughens his pipes on the equally harmonious "Shotgun", a blaring toe-tapper that rides for more than six minutes and never loses stride.

By this point, what's glaring about "Golgotha" is that W.A.S.P. are in a contented yet muscular verve while doing very little to change the core formula that has hardly deviated since The Headless Children.
This includes "Miss You", where Blackie hits a sage, wrenching depth to his vocals, and the familiar back-and-forth chord bobs sprawling throughout "Fallen Under". As Blackie has famously done over the years, he engineers another WHO-fueled crank-anthem, "Hero of the World".

W.A.S.P. - Golgotha (2015) inside

Again raging at a steed's charge, "Slaves of the New World Order" re-enacts Blackie Lawless' entire playbook, but every lick and every bar is pushed with intensity and a rich projection it's easy to get sucked into it.
The biggest deviation on the album comes with the soulful, progressive and Dio-esque "Eyes of My Maker", which will keep any metal fan well-invested in this thing.

"Golgotha" is the same ol' W.A.S.P., but tremendously so.
If Blackie Lawless considers himself reborn, then let him be thus; he sounds like he's signing from a metal mountain high.
Highly Recommended.

1. Scream
2. Last Runaway
3. Shotgun
4. Miss You
5. Fallen Under
6. Slaves Of The New World Order
7. Eyes Of My Maker
8. Hero Of The World
9. Golgotha

Blackie Lawless – lead vocals, bass, keyboards
Doug Blair – lead guitar, backing vocals
Mike Duda – bass, backing vocals
Mike Dupke – drums, percussion
thanks to Ray Van Horn, Jr.



Monday, September 28, 2015

BERNIE TORME - BlackHeart (2015)

BERNIE TORME - BlackHeart (2015) full


Among many others, Jimmy Page, Def Leppard's Phil Collen or Vivian Campbell once said; 'I love the guitar playing of Bernie Tormé'. Legendary British guitarist BERNIE TORME (ex-Gillan, ex-Ozzy Osbourne, ex-Atomic Rooster) returns with a new album to be released next October 2.
This brand new musical output, which is entitled "BlackHeart", contains twelve awesome and mindblowingly hard rockin' catchy tunes that are filled to the brim with great riffs, amazing basslines, rum-soaked vocals and thunderous drums.

After some explorative albums, "Blackheart" is much more in keeping with the classic whammy bar action of early solo Tormé albums like ‘Turn Out The Lights’ and the dive bombing six-string riffs he delivered in spades as part of the mighty Ian Gillan Band.
The music is almost hypnotic in places, yet beautifully intense and hard rocking, too. Torme has a sound and musical identity of his own that is totally unique, not only in terms of how he writes riffs and melodies and so on, but also in terms of the actual arrangements as well as the moods and atmospheres evoked by and within his songs.
Bassist Chris Heilmann does a great job and compliments Bernie perfectly while the drummer, Ian Harris, is solid as hell and lays down a fat, heavy beat.

BERNIE TORME - BlackHeart (2015) digipak

The songs that constitute "BlackHeart" are slightly more varied and dynamic compared to those that made up Torme previous albums.
For one thing, "BlackHeart" contains straight-up hard rocking tunes that are in-your-face, highly energetic, and fun to listen to, but the gentle and melancholic "Miles to Babylon" and to some extent "Flow" are something else entirely and they are very moving and emotional compositions.
I really like the diversity of the album, and you can really tell that these guys are enjoying themselves and having fun playing.
The shredding guitars, the intense riffing, and the unique vocals are all there, but the mellow and more moody stuff that creeps in from time to time, both musically and lyrically, add another dimension to the album and gives it a lot of substance.

BERNIE TORME - BlackHeart (2015) back

While some of you out there may only be familiar with Bernie Torme's work with Ian Gillan (in the Gillan band) and to some extent Ozzy Osbourne (when he toured with him back in the early '80s), I strongly encourage to all Classic Hard Rock listeners out there to check out "BlackHeart" and simply lose themselves in its wild, strangely fascinating, and highly passionate musical delivery.
This is raw, organic and authentic Rock music that falls somewhere inbetween hard rock, sinister heavy blues and vintage psychedelic music, but at the same time it is something that simply cannot be classified easily.
As you can probably tell, I am having a hard time labeling or categorizing this stuff, but who the f@ck cares? The quality of the album speaks for itself.
Support Bernie Torme and buy this kick ass record!

01 - Golden Pig
02 - 1985 (Keeper Of The Flame)
03 - On Fire
04 - Better Days
05 - Snake In The Garden
06 - Flow
07 - Into The Sun
08 - Pain Song
09 - Dirt
10 - Steady Roller Blues
11 - Miles To Babylon
12 - Party's Over

Bernie Tormé - vocals, guitar
Chris Heilmann - bass
Ian Harris - drums, percussion
Phil Spalding - additional vocals on tracks 3 & 7
Lisa Fury - additional vocals on tracks 9 & 12,
Rosa B (violin) & Simon Jeffrey (Bodhran) on track 11
Mike Freeland, Ian Harris, Chris Heilmann, Ilona Kasprzyk, Shane O’Neill - backing vocals
thanks to J. Nepper



STEVEN WILSON - Transience (2015)

STEVEN WILSON - Transience (2015) full


Featuring songs recorded between 2003-2015, "Transience" is a personally curated vinyl only introduction to the more accessible side of STEVEN WILSON’s output, just released in UK to coincide with the second leg of the Hand. Cannot. Erase. tour.

Steven says: “In the past I mostly resisted requests from record labels to compile or anthologise, but this time I enjoyed the challenge of trying to sequence an album that would act as a more easygoing introduction to my music.
These are mostly the shorter song-based tracks (some represented by edits), so it’s perhaps the ideal way to introduce a friend or partner to Steven Wilson music without the more 'difficult' stuff getting in the way.
For once I have also given in to narcissism and put my face on the cover, without a gas mask or anything else obscuring it!”

As well as containing a few especially created edits to fit the 'song format', the album contains a new 2015 recording of ‘Lazarus’, which Steven has been performing on tour with his band recently. This new version is based on a live recording made earlier this year, later overdubbed in the studio.
Pressed as a three sided 180g heavyweight vinyl LP in a lavish gatefold sleeve with black and white portraits, the fourth vinyl side features an etching of the original handwritten lyric sketches for ‘Happy Returns’.
This is a strictly limited edition, one off pressing.

STEVEN WILSON - Transience (2015) LP photo

"Transience" contains 13 tracks and over 1 hour of music, and it's a wonderful collection especially designed to new, casual listeners of Steven Wilson’s prog magic, and for those who likes song-format music.
It's a very accessible and easy listening album highly recommended for all audiences.

01 - Transience (Single Version)
02 - Harmony Korine
03 - Postcard
04 - Significant Other
05 - Insurgentes
06 - The Pin Drop
07 - Happy Returns (Edit)
08 - Deform To Form A Star (Edit)
09 - Thank You
10 - Index
11 - Hand Cannot Erase
12 - Lazarus (2015 Recording)
13 - Drive Home



GUN - More Frantic (2015)

GUN - More Frantic (2015) full


Scottish rockers GUN released their new album 'Frantic' early this year, also in a deluxe edition featuring a bonus disc with songs recorded live. But the band is presenting now a new version of the album, re-entitled "More Frantic".
"More Frantic" - a digital only release - includes all original Frantic tracks, plus 10 bonuses including the 'East End EP’ and the new single 'Every1's A Winner'.

'Every1's A Winner' is one of the best tracks composed & recorded by Gun in the last two decades. It's a rocking, guitar driven hard rocker plenty of swagger and catchiness.
'Idiots' is another good one in the classic early Gun style, while '100 MPH' adds some cool acoustics in a bluesy vein. There's nice live cuts too, and a better than the original 'Frantic' radion mix.

Not only a fan package, I think "More Frantic" works better than the regular Frantic version (find it HERE) as the 10 bonuses are a worthwhile addition, featuring strong songs and variation.

01 - Every1's A Winner
02 - Idiots
03 - Everybody Knows
04 - 100 MPH
05 - Labour Of Life (Live)
06 - Frantic (Radio Mix)
07 - One Wrong Turn (Radio Mix)
08 - Take Me To Church
09 - Frantic (Acoustic)
10 - Inside Out (Live)

Dante Gizzi - Vocals
Jools Gizzi - Guitars
Paul McManus - Drums
Derek Brown - Bass
Johnny McGlynn - Guitars



Sunday, September 27, 2015

WHITE LION - Big Game [Rock Candy Remastered & Reloaded] (2015)

WHITE LION - Big Game [Rock Candy Remastered & Reloaded] (2015) full


Rock Candy Records just 'Remastered & Reloaded' the first two major label WHITE LION albums in a Special Deluxe Collector's Edition, both featuring bonus tracks.
White Lion's "Big Game" continued with the band's talents in delivering quality melodic, US hard rock tunes.

The problem with any commercially successful album is that at some point its follow up will be compared and judged not only economically, but also creatively. This was exactly the position White Lion were to face with the release of their third album "Big Game".
It was a really fine follow-up to their double platinum selling ‘Pride’ album, but it was recorded in a state of high anxiety. The band had spent almost a year touring the world and was immediately ushered back into the studio by their label and managers who were eager to capitalise on the success, so there was pressure to write and record in double quick time.

Working once again with trusted producer Michael Wagener, and recorded in Los Angeles, the band jumped head-first into material, written by vocalist Mike Tramp and guitarist Vito Bratta and arranged over an intense three day session.
That they came up with a number of quality songs is testimony to their talent and tenacity.

More hard rockin' in the early Van Halen style (who at that time was more concentrated in keyboards) tracks such as the lyrically poignant ‘Little Fighter’ (in memory of The Rainbow Warrior, a Greenpeace boat which was intentionally sabotaged and sunk by the French Secret Service) and ‘Cry For Freedom’ lead the charge, but it’s their creative cover of Golden Earring’s ‘Radar Love’ that more than steals the show and became a successful single for White Lion.

WHITE LION - Big Game [Rock Candy Remastered & Reloaded] (2015) back

Rock Candy's treatment on "Big Game" is not among their finest remastering jobs in my humble opinion. Everything sounds fine, yet I would preferred a more 'punchy' output.
Anyway, it blows out of the water the pretty flat original CD edition, and we have 3 bonus tracks; two hot live recordings, and the little gem "When The Children Cry (Live in Reharsal)". It does not sound like a live track, but more like studio recording (and I like this way), featuring the famous song in an 'electric' version, with drums, bass and electric (great) guitar.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and a must for collectors.

01 - Goin' Home Tonight
02 - Dirty Woman
03 - Little Fighter
04 - Broken Home
05 - Baby Be Mine
06 - Living on the Edge
07 - Let's Get Crazy
08 - Don't Say It's Over
09 - If My Mind Is Evil
10 - Radar Love
11 - Cry for Freedom
12 - Wait (Live)
13 - All Join Our Hands (Live)
14 - When The Children Cry (Live In Rehearsal)

Mike Tramp – vocals
Vito Bratta – guitars
James Lomenzo – bass
Greg D'Angelo – drums

thanks to Nicko for this one!



WHITE LION - Pride [Rock Candy Remastered & Reloaded] (2015)

WHITE LION - Pride [Rock Candy Remastered & Reloaded] (2015) full


Rock Candy Records just 'Remastered & Reloaded' the first two major label WHITE LION albums in a Special Deluxe Collector's Edition, both featuring bonus tracks.
White Lion's "Pride" still ranks amongst the best the '80s US hard rock scene ever produced.

White Lion's rise to stardom was not without its fair share of difficulties. It started off well with Mike Tramp relocating from his native Denmark to the East Coast of America and teaming up with virtuoso guitarist Vito Bratta.
Securing a coveted record deal with Elektra Records the band looked set for bigger and better things, but it all came crashing down when the label inexplicably decided not to release their debut album.
Fortunately a record deal and a new loyal fan base in Japan and Europe carried the torch helping them to get back in the ring and fight another day. It was a struggle well worth contesting and one that ultimately paid handsome dividends when Atlantic Records eventually signed the band.

Electing to work with seasoned producer Michael Wagener (Dokken, Mötley Crüe) and recording in Los Angeles, "Pride" hit the racks to great critical and commercial acclaim. Stuffed to the brim with numerous red-hot slices of melodic yet heavy rock, the album fast became one the era’s cornerstone releases, packing punches and knocking down barriers.

Originally issued in June 1987, the record was propelled by the catchy single ‘Wait’, a track that caught fire at both radio and MTV, helping to establish the band as front line contenders. However, it was the power ballad ‘When The Children Cry’ that really accelerated sales, to two million and counting. Truly, one of the most heart-warming outcomes in the music business.

WHITE LION - Pride [Rock Candy Remastered & Reloaded] (2015) back

This Rock Candy Records remastering of "Pride" is really good, greatly balanced avoiding brickwall sound. You have as bonus 5 tracks: the much sought after Extended Remix of 'Wait', plus 4 cuts recorded live during the presentation of the album, showing how hot While Lion was on stage at the peak of their career (just check Vito Bratta's killer licks!).

01 - Hungry
02 - Lonely Nights
03 - Don't Give Up
04 - Sweet Little Loving
05 - Lady Of The Valley
06 - Wait
07 - All You Need Is Rock N Roll
08 - Tell Me
09 - All Join Our Hands
10 - When The Children Cry
11 - Wait (Extended Remix)
12 - All You Need Is Rock N Roll (Live)
13 - Lonely Nights (Live)
14 - Lady Of The Valley (Live)
15 - Tell Me (Live)

Mike Tramp - Vocals
Vito Bratta - Guitars
James Lomenzo - Bass, Vocals
Greg D'Angelo - Drums

thanks to Nicko for this one!



TANK - Valley Of Tears [digipak] (2015)

TANK - Valley Of Tears [digipak] (2015) full


British metallers TANK are back with a new album and a completely refreshed personnel. On "Valley Of Tears", joining original guitarists Mick Tucker and Cliff Evans are former Dragonforce frontman ZP Theart - who has been a member of Tank's touring lineup for the past two years.
The rhythm section is also new and impressive; drummer Bobby Schottkowski (formerly of Sodom) and current Blind Guardian bass player Barend Courbois.

Although great vocalist Doogie White is no longer with Tank, I think new singer ZP Theart is a wise addition to the band. ZP powerful (yet clean) pipes provide higher strength to the new, more muscular material from the band.
This new Tank lineup does not need any further praise, these are seasoned musicians who are all 'in the zone' and they rock like hell.

TANK - Valley Of Tears [digipak] (2015) booklet

"Valley Of Tears" is much more traditional metal than the 2 previous albums but still retaining certain hard rock groove. Songs like the almost catchy "War Dance", "Hold On" or the majestic "Living a Fantasy" are proof of it.
Powerful drums start the darker ''Eye of the Hurricane", a track with that characteristic British metal midtempo feel, while Tank accelerates the proceedings with "Heading for Eternity in a true '80s fashion.
Special mention goes to the title track, an epic metal piece with slower parts and atmospheres greatly achieved.

Warning: this is the physical CD version. The digital release sold at major retailers has a different song sequence (the CD works better in my opinion), and even worse; the tracks are wrongly named / tagged.

TANK - Valley Of Tears [digipak] (2015) back

"Valley Of Tears" opens a new chapter in more than 30 years of Tank's history. The sound is massive and the new singer fits like a glove the heavier material.
This is traditional metal / hard rock in the British style very, very well done, and you know, they call it now 'classic rock'. This is because everything sounds clear, punchy and melodic.
A highly recommended release in the old-school.

01 - Valley Of Tears
02 - War Dance
03 - Eye Of A Hurricane
04 - Hold On
05 - Living A Fantasy
06 - Heading For Eternity
07 - World On Fire
08 - Make A Little Time
09 - One For The Road

Mick Tucker, Cliff Evans: guitars
ZP Theart: vocals
Bobby Schottkowski: drums
Barend Courbois: bass

BUY IT !,produkt,en.html


Saturday, September 26, 2015

IAN DANTER - Second Time Around (2015)

IAN DANTER - Second Time Around (2015) full


Mostly known in Great Britain as a sports broadcaster on talkSPORT Radio, IAN DANTER is also multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter who presented his debut album in 2013. We were not much impressed with it, but decided to give a listen to his second effort "Second Time Around", released yesterday.

"Second Time Around" is released by Cherry Red Records, so it has to have 'something'. The album features 11 brand new songs all written, performed and sung by Danter on his own - these were recorded during various sessions in Birmingham in 2014 & 2015.
Well, his previous record was some kind of an Ace Frehley-like second hand song collection (not strange as Danter was the drummer in KISS tribute band Dressed To Kill), but now he is taking a slightly different approach.

"Second Time Around" shows Danter's influences under its sleeve, but now from a more personal perspective. The album, produced by Alex Cooper, is as good a collection of classic rock that you will find anywhere. You're not going to get any jaw dropping virtuoso performances here, but many many occasions that elicit a smile on your face and a satisfied 'yeah' – and that's more than OK.
From the explosive opener right through the eleven tracks, it is clear that Danter has a Jeff Lynne-esque ear for melody coupled with solid rock sensibilities and a touch for a great riff. He's from Birmingham so has a geographical rock family tree that takes some living up to, and he passes with distinction.

A couple of listens in it went from a very pleasant experience. It's classic hard rock done really well, conjuring up memories of a forgotten ELO riff here, a smidgen of 10cc there, seasoned with echoes of both Kiss and Thin Lizzy. It could be horribly derivative but it isn't.
The first two tracks, 'If My Truth Is A Lie' and 'Mr. Poison', contain not just belting riffs and melodies but lyrically we get a clue to the heart of the album's success.
With statements like "There's no hole in my life to fill, happy victim of my own free will" and "Don't write that cheque to Mr. Poison" we get a massive 'fuck you' to the naysayers, the drama merchants, to those who seek to bring others down or simply change them.
Dant's has got absolutely the right idea here – do what you love, follow your passions, chase happiness and know that living by your own rules is strength.

IAN DANTER - Second Time Around (2015) inside

The chord progression and resolutions on 'Chinese Whispers' are a complete delight; you will be singing the hook from 'Love Fatigue' after first listen and the title track has classic written all over it.
'We Believed' is true '70s rock, which a touch of '80s Night Ranger and yet it sounds completely up to date for 2015, telling a cool story of the aspirations and dreams of one of his previous bands.

'It All Comes Down To Rock' gives us a stadium belter and then after a romp through 'Simple As That' we have a more straight-forward blues-rocker with 'I Didn't Get Where I Am Today', which in turn leads to the gentle ballad 'I Love You More'.
This variety could well have been a bit of a cock up on the pacing front, but it really isn't; the order of the songs is put together well and it feels like a proper album should.
We are left with a proper stomper in 'Better Off Out Of It (Than Worse Off Dead)' finishing the album with a rocking flourish.

Overall Ian Danter has well and truly come up with the goods in "Second Time Around" and it sounds like these songs are itching to come out and play.
There are parts of this album where it feels like the sunshine is singing to you. Listen to it, get it on playlists because you are only going to feel happier as a result.

01 - If My Truth Is A Lie
02 - Mr Poison
03 - Chinese Whispers
04 - Love Fatigue
05 - Second Time Around
06 - We Believed
07 - It All Comes Back To Rock
08 - Simple As That
09 - I Didn't Get Where I Am Today
10 - I Love You More
11 - Better Off Out Of It (Than Worse Off Dead)

Ian Danter: vocals, all instruments
thanks to Liz Medhurst



ACES & KINGS - No Hard And Fast Rules (2015)

ACES & KINGS - No Hard And Fast Rules (2015) full


With more than 30 years in the making, "No Hard And Fast Rules" is the debut of Stoke-on-Trent based band ACES & KINGS appeared today.
This British melodic rock group born from a discussion in a pub (aren't most things?) to expand vocalist Duncan 'Joe' Henshall and keyboard player Kev Hardy duo 3AM into a full grown band.

Having performed with their old Direct Action guitar buddy Andy Trevelyan at last year's Rock On The Rocks festival, the guys decided to resurrect their back catalogue alongside new material for some live shows and recording.
Most of the songs on "No Hard And Fast Rules" were written in the late '80s, so expect classic era melodic rockers with some AOR waves in the British but also American way.

The band was after a big harmony sound so also recruited their old friend and solo performer Gary Wells to provide backing vocals. Though the drums on the record are programmed, the sound obtained is pretty lively and with the typical '80s fashion many acts used during that era.
Kev's keyboards draw the melodies while Andy Trevelyan's guitar riffs add the necessay punch and create nice atmospheres when needed. I really like Duncan 'Joe' Henshall's phrasing, with a vocal color mostly in midrange which provides an always smooth, melodious output.

ACES & KINGS - No Hard And Fast Rules (2015) inside

Songs like the title tack, the catchy "One Step" and "Do You Believe", "Everytime" (reminds me Canadians The Bryan Hughes Group) or the ultra-melodic "Dancing With Your Heart" are very nice melodic rockers with a feel good vibe.
More keyboard driven and AOR are the midtempo "Where's The Action" and "Don't Stop" (very good backing vocals), while "West Coast Crazy", despite its title, is an uptempo little rocker. I was expecting a ballad, not in sight on the CD.

Released by small label CTM Records, Aces & Kings' "No Hard And Fast Rules" is a cool, gentle Melodic Rock / AOR record with no other pretension that to have a good time.
Nice songs, melodic, well arranged & produced. Well done guys.

01 - Once In A Lifetime
02 - One Step
03 - Heartbeat Of America
04 - Everytime
05 - Where's The Action
06 - Do You Believe
07 - Don't Stop
08 - Dancing With Your Heart
09 - DOA
10 - West Coast Crazy

Duncan "Joe" Henshall - Vocals
Andy Trevelyan - Guitars, Bass
Kev Hardy - Keyboards
Gary Wells - Backing Vocals



Friday, September 25, 2015

SAGA - The Beginner's Guide To Throwing Shapes [2015 Edition Remastered +2]

SAGA - The Beginner's Guide To Throwing Shapes [2015 Edition Remastered +2] full


earMUSIC has started this month an excellent SAGA remastered reissue series within one year, covering all studio albums from the influential Canadian band 1989 – 2007. All twelve albums are enhanced by exclusive bonus tracks newly recorded 2015 – of course they’ve been never released before.
The first batch includes (apart from the awesome 'The Security Of Illusion' already featured here) the highly underrated 1989's "The Beginner's Guide To Throwing Shapes".

"The Beginner's Guide To Throwing Shapes" was the second Saga album without original drummer Steve Negus and longtime keyboardist / vocalist Jim Gilmour, and for first-time fans of the band this is not the real Saga.
However, I disagree: the core of Ian & Jim Crichton and Michael Sadler is still here, and the band simply evolved to the mainstream rock sound ruling the late '80s.

While many of the trademark Saga arrangement remain intact, the presence of bombastic programmed drums, synth guitars and overall melodic rock sounds are the main motto here. And I love it; this is a true '80s album, with a big, glossy production.
There's lots of keyboards / synths all over the record, but tend to be used here more for texture and less for lead melodies and solos.
Ian Crichton's guitar though is quite prominent, as he cuts through the gloss of tracks like "How Do I Look", "Shape", or the hi-tech "The Nineties" with his distinctive guitar solos.

SAGA - The Beginner's Guide To Throwing Shapes [2015 Edition Remastered +2] back

I don't know why, but "Starting All Over" always reminded me Foreigner, "Scarecrow" is a cool hard rocker, and "Waiting In The Wings" is actually a fantastic power pop / light prog tune with intricate instrumentation, one of the band's best tunes and easily one of the highlights of the album.
The 7 minute closer "Giant" is also a strong tune, with crunchy guitar work and complex arrangements but could have used a stronger keyboard base.
A couple of nice bonus tracks are included in this "The Beginner's Guide To Throwing Shapes 2015 Edition Remastered"; two Saga classics recently recorded.

"The Beginner's Guide To Throwing Shapes" must be the less heard Saga album; not heard by first time fans of the band, and not heard by '80s music aficionados.
Well, if you like early Saga, you better give this a second try; there's a various tracks here in the vein of their classic era (just with a modern production).
And if you are fan of Eighties bombastic productions, slightly proggy melodic rock / rock&pop, and perfect instrumentation, then you need to discover "The Beginner's Guide To Throwing Shapes", and this completely remastered 2015 Edition (the sound is awesome, believe me) is the right way to do it.
Highly Recommended.

01 - How Do I Look
02 - Starting All Over
03 - Shape
04 - Odd Man Out
05 - The Nineties
06 - Scarecrow
07 - As I Am
08 - Waiting In The Wings
09 - Giant
10 - Wind Him Up (recorded 2015)
11 - The Flyer (recorded 2015)

Michael Sadler: Vocals, Keyboards
Ian Crichton: Guitars, Synthaxe
Jim Crichton: Bass, Keyboards, Synthaxe
Curt Cress: Drums and Percussion



CASABLANCA - Miskatonic Graffiti (2015)

CASABLANCA - Miskatonic Graffiti (2015) full


Something has changed in CASABLANCA's camp. After taking a look at the cover of the new album from the Swedish band - "Miskatonic Graffiti", released today - and even more after listen to it, this has nothing in common with their debut appeared three years ago, basically melodic hard rock oriented.
Oh yeah, Casablanca has grown musically and are not afraid to explore new a fascinating ground.

Indeed, "Miskatonic Graffiti" is a different animal. The melodic hard rock foundation is still there, but new enriched by an interesting progressive development with nuances of space rock.
And we have a concept, based on awesome mystery / horror writer H.P. Lovecraft's work.
It's a twist of Lovecraft's Cthulu mythology, the title of the album is taken from the famed Miskatonic University, a central character and setting for many of the stories Lovecraft wrote. It tells the story of The Originals, a group of creatures who pre-date H.P. Lovecraft's Old Ones and refuse to give up on their dreams of sex, love, rock and fast cars, despite the impending collapse of civilisation.

CASABLANCA - Miskatonic Graffiti (2015) inside

The album is bookended by the two longest numbers, 'Enter The Mountain' and 'Exit The Mountain', and this is where the whole melodic hard / space rock comes in, especially with the former, quite ethereal at times.
However, those only add more variation and texture to the record, as the rest of the material blend melodic rock / hard - elaborated, yes - with a light progressive orientation.
It can be catchy, even AOR-like or radio-friendly, with 'Sister'. More so, even reverting back to Casablanca's first album, is the subtle (gentler in the current context) title cut. It's smooth, moving by the slick soothing refrain.

Then there's something akin to a ballad or anthem in 'She Was The One' starting with lighter guitar and vocals, only to get gutsy and heavy with flaming guitar solos in the later half. Other numbers add an extra dose of groove, slick riffs, and some old-school keyboards as with 'This Is Tomorrow' and 'Closer'.

CASABLANCA - Miskatonic Graffiti (2015) back

Instead of staying safe, Casablanca surprise with bravado on their new album "Miskatonic Graffiti". You gotta have big b@lls to open your third album with the spacey ten-minute epic that is "Enter the Mountains". Especially when you are a band from which all are expecting instant, catchy melodic hard rockers.
But don't be afraid; that works really well to try something different, and Casablanca succeeds on it.

Then, on most of the record the Swedes - including American guitarist Ryan Roxie (Alice Cooper, Slash's Snakepit) who provides a superb six string work - deliver song format tracks with a sound that is equal parts Drivin 'N' Cryin' and D.A.D., as well as aspects of White Lion and later day Enuff Z'Nuff, plus hints of Cheap Trick.
Bravo to Casablanca, one of the few Melodic Hard Rock from the present scene trying something different... and with excellent results.
Highly Recommended.

01. Enter the Mountains
02. Closer
03. This Is Tomorrow
04. My Shadow Out of Time
05. Re: Old Money
06. Sister
07. Name Rank Serial Killer
08. Miskatonic Graffiti
09. She Was the One
10. Exit the Mountains

Anders Ljung - Vocals
Erik Almstrom (Bullet) - Guitar
Ryan Roxie (Alice Cooper, Slash's Snakepit) - Guitar
Erik Stenemo (Melody Club) - Guitar
Mats Rubarth - Bass
Josephine Forsman (Sahara Hotnights) - Drums



H.A.R.E.M. - Enjoy The Show (2015)

H.A.R.E.M. - Enjoy The Show (2015) full


H.A.R.E.M. (or Heavy And Rough Easy Men) was formed in the '90s by Italian singer Freddy Delirio, also known for being the keyboard player in the famous horror-rock band Death SS. But with H.A.R.E.M. he finds space to compose and play his favorite genre; Glammy Hard Rock with an '80s flavor.
H.A.R.E.M. has released three studio albums, one live, a DVD and has participated in various tribute albums, and now 2015 are presenting this "Enjoy The Show" featuring as guests the incredible Reb Beach and his Death SS bandmate Steve Sylvester on vocals.

H.A.R.E.M. formula is simple; short, catchy hard (melodic) rockers with a US '80s glammy influence all over. Glam and not sleazy, to make things clear.

H.A.R.E.M. - Enjoy The Show (2015) inside

Then, we find some tracks akin Motley Crue in "Rolling Thoughts", title track "Enjoy The Show" or "Fire on Stage", yet others are much more melodic as "Made of Stars" or "The Wizard" where H.A.R.E.M. reminds you '80s Alice Cooper.
Songs like the elaborated "Green Diamonds" have more in common with Enuff Z'Nuff, while "Look Back at Me" explore modern sounds with groovier guitar riffs.
But my favorite cut is the melodic rocker "Angel", featuring a truly awesome guitar solo by Reb Beach (Whitesnake, Winger). Listen here;

As its title speaks, "Enjoy The Show" is a really enjoyable and entertaining album from H.A.R.E.M. You have fine songwriting, tight performances and a good production.
Most of the tracks are pretty catchy rockers but Freddy intersperse some varied songs to provide balance, as the interesting "Flower". The only dislike here is the cover of Door's "Break on Through", unnecessary in my opinion.
Quite Recommended.

01 - Revelation
02 - In Your Hands
03 - Rolling Thoughts
04 - The Wizard
05 - Enjoy the Show
06 - Made of Stars
07 - Angel
08 - The Dawn
09 - Green Diamonds
10 - Another Choice
11 - Sparks
12 - Look Back at Me
13 - Fire on Stage
14 - Break on Through
15 - Flower
16 - Thanks

Freddy Delirio - vocals, keyboards
Nik Giannelli - bass, backing vocals
Matt Stevens - guitars, backing vocals
Giuseppe Favia - drums, backing vocals



Thursday, September 24, 2015

OZONE - Self Defence (2015)

OZONE - Self Defence (2015) full


After a very, very long wait, tomorrow sees the release of "Self Defence", the debut from supergroup OZONE.
This album is a little bit special as it sees two of the UK’s premier melodic rock vocalists team up, namely FM’s Steve Overland and Chris Ousey, currently fronting Snakecharmer / Heartland, plus he fronted Virgina Wolf back in the '80s.
As if this wasn’t enough we have the legendary Mike Slamer (Seventh Key / Slamer / City Boy) at the helm adding his distinctive sound to the proceedings.
In fact fellow Seventh Key member Billy Greer is present on backing vocals, as is his fellow Kansas band mate and new boy Ronnie Platt (he replaced Steve Walsh in Kansas last year).
Finally we have Tommy Denander helping out on guitar /bass / keys and songwriting. On paper an impressive line-up and happily they deliver in the music and then some!

Opener 'Tiger By The Tail' sets the album up nicely blending AOR / Melodic Rock magic from everyone involved. All is perfectly produced by Mike Slamer's expertise hands & ears.
'Let the Good Will Out' features a more bluesy guitar riff and attitude, and impeccable vocal performances. The band are more than capable of changing things up, with 'So Blind' being a top notch ballad featuring an acoustic guitar intro and all the other expected flourishes.

OZONE - Self Defence (2015) logo

The album stand out for me is the superb 'Shadow On The Sun', a song that features that classic Slamer sound in the guitar riffs and keyboard runs on the chorus, and one of the catchiest choruses you will hear this year or any year for that matter.
It is great to hear Overland and Ousey trading lines on the songs, be it the slower 'Save My Soul' or the classy upbeat melodic rock of 'Tiger By The Tail'. Neither have lost any of their vocal power down the years and in fact you could say both are still in their singing prime.
A tinge of sadness though as it features Christian Wolff (Overland / Mecca) guesting on 'Evolve', who sadly passed away this year.

Ozone's debut "Self Defence" is simply stunning.
Overland & Ousey are peerless, arguably the best voices in the melodic rock business. No one can touches either of them and this album to me is the UK equivalent of say Steve Perry teaming up for tag team album / match with the late great Jimi Jamison.
The rest of the 'guys' are incredible here, delivering passionate performances all cooked at the right point by master Mike Slamer.

Just get this album with your eyes closed as if like me you love prime Melodic Rock / AOR... "Self Defence" personifies all that is good about this style of music.
An album of the year contender for sure.

01 - Tiger By The Tail
02 - Let The Good Will Out
03 - So Blind
04 - Destiny
05 - Shadow On The Sun
06 - Save My Soul
07 - How Evolved Are We
08 - Self Defence
09 - Smile Before You Lie
10 - Once In A Lifetime
11 - Practice What You Preach
12 - Visionary Man

Chris Ousey - Lead and Backing Vocals
Steve Overland - Lead and Backing Vocals
Mike Slamer - Guitars, Keyboards, Bass
Ronnie Platt - Backing Vocals
Billy Greer - Backing Vocals
Kerry Denton - Drums
Erik Sabo - B3 Organ
Christian Wolff - Guitar and Keys on 'Evolve' (RIP)



LAZY BONEZ - Alive (2015)

LAZY BONEZ - Alive (2015) full


We were already impressed by LAZY BONEZ debut sometime ago (featured on the blog), and what started as an alternative project for all members become their main band with shows all over Europe.
The Finnish band second album "Alive" to be released tomorrow is the confirmation of all the good things heard before but augmented, perfected and polished with excellent results.

Have you ever wondered how the '90s hard rock music would have sounded like if the grunge movement never took off in popularity and what some of the bands from the late '80s scene would have evolved into?
Then Lazy Bonez’s "Alive" is probably a pretty good example of what music and bands from that alternate timeline would sound like today.

Lazy Bonez sound & style is pretty unique. But that said in a sense their combine two very well known genres with an incredible naturalness; pure Eighties styled hard rock sometimes leaning Euro hard 'n heavy from the same era, and melodic hard rock plus AOR touches with the classic Scandinavian touch.
So, Lazy Bonez are not discovering the wheel, but blend both styles wonderfully, and this makes them unique.

LAZY BONEZ - Alive (2015) inside

Yes, you have songs like opener the driving 'Evil Mind' akin Pretty Maids, next the AORish "Sweet Girl" plenty of keyboards and harmony vocals with a catchy Brother Firetribe feel, then the meaty midtempo title track "Alive" with some early Nineties Europe on it.
More of this can be found on the ridiculously catchy melodic rocker "Lonely" (I Love it!), the sweet "Hard Times" or the great "Last Rites", the latter an example of how Journey should sound today.
All quite awesome stuff, appealing, plenty of melody and punch.

But as said, Lazy Bonez also has a more heavier side providing an effective balance to the record.
"Jesus He Knows Me" is catchy yet more uptempo with a bit of Euro hard 'n heavy, while "Final Rhyme" sports an '80s Accept spirit.
"Racing Heart" was especially composed for Tony Martin who appears as guest, a groovy and at the same time melodic track much in the style of '80s Black Sabbath, then another legend shares vocals on the pretty epic midtempo "Devil's Dice"; Uriah Heep's Bernie Shaw (one of the greats if you ask me).

Lazy Bonez must be doing things fine as many other well known musicians collaborate on the record: Simon Wright (ex-AC/DC, ex-DIO), Stefan Schwarzmann (ex Krokus, Accept), etc.

LAZY BONEZ - Alive (2015) cd photo

As you see, "Alive" is pretty much the best of both words; melodic rockers with Scandi AOR keyboards & harmonies plus traditional hard rock with a punchy approach. But even on the heavier tracks there's never an 'edge', all is crafted around melodies.
Lazy Bonez have surprised us with a varied, strongly composed & performed second album plenty of memorable moments and catchiness.

01 - Evil Mind
02 - Sweet Girl
03 - Alive
04 - Jesus He Knows Me
05 - Overload
06 - Racing Heart
07 - Lonely
08 - Last Rites
09 - Devil's Dice
10 - Hard Times
11 - Final Rhyme

Tommi Salmela: vocals
Markku Mähönen: guitar & backing vocals
Mikko Niiranen: guitar & backing vocals
Jaakko Kauppinen: bass & backing vocals
Topi Kosonen: drums
Heikki Polvinen, Janne Tolsa: keyboards, synths

Bernie Shaw (Uriah Heep): lead vocals on 6
Tony Martin (Mollo/Martin, ex-Black sabbath): lead vocals on 9
Zachary Hietala (Tarot): guitar solos on 1
Simon Wright (ex-AC/DC, ex-DIO): drums
Stefan Schwarzmann (Accept): drums



Wednesday, September 23, 2015

C·O·P - State Of Rock [Japanese Edition] (2015)

C·O·P - State Of Rock [Japanese Edition] (2015) full


Another brilliant Melodic Rock / AOR band arrives from Sweden... C·O·P. These are the initials of the band members' names, well known cats from the Scandinavian scene: terrific vocalist Peter Sundell, brother Christian Sundell and guitarist Ola af Trampe, all involved in one way or another in the awesome band Grand Illusion
They are ready to release their debut "State Of Rock" on September 28 via AOR Heaven, but the album has already appeared in Japan with a bonus track.

As you could imagine, style-wise C·O·P is common ground for all lovers of Eighties-like AOR with a lot of pomp, great melodies and an exceptional singer in Peter Sundell who finds himself among the finest voices in the genre.
Peter’s younger brother Christian was, also, part of the Grand Illusion family and the third and last part of the C.O.P equation consists of Peter and Christian’s long lost little brother Ola af Trampe, an extremely talented guitarist, producer and songwriter, also of Grand Illusion and Code fame.

The record starts with the amazing "Loner"; a great melodic monster that takes no prisoners with its sweet and powerful melody and Sundell's high-pitched vocals that reminds Tony Harnell. Excellent start and for sure a great appetizer of what's to follow.
"I Want The World To Know" kicks-off with a heavy guitar riff and when it comes to chorus the song explodes into a another highlight.
"Nightmare" is a fast-paced melodic rocker, while in "Without You" we have the first mid-tempo ballad of the album with a typical Scandi feel.

C·O·P - State Of Rock [Japanese Edition] (2015) booklet

More quality is spread through the pumping "On The Run", the anthemic "In The Night", the AOR bliss of "Broken Heart" and the punch of "Darkness".
Japanese bonus "Stand Up" is another highlight, a killer melodic rocker with a superb guitar work, lush keyboard galore and kick ass drumming, very much in the H.E.A.T vein.

C·O·P - State Of Rock [Japanese Edition] (2015) back

This is a no brainer; if you are into Melodic Hard Rock / AOR stuff with attitude, a rocking edge but at the same time influenced by the Scandinavian '80s scene (that means lots of keys!) "State Of Rock" by C·O·P is a must have.
Seriously, one of the true highlights of 2015.

Victor Entertainment / Avalon ~ MICP-11237
ステイト・オヴ・ロック / C.O.P

01 - Loner
02 - I Want The World To Know
03 - Nightmare
04 - Without You
05 - On The Run
06 - In My Dreams
07 - She's Gone
08 - In The Night
09 - Broken Heart
10 - Darkness
11 - Stand Up (Japanese Bonus Track)

Peter Sundell (Grand Illusion, Decoy) - Lead & Backing Vocals
Olaf af Trampe (Steve Overland, ex-Grand Illusion) - Guitar, Bass
Christian Sundell (ex-Grand Illusion) - Keyboards, Drums

European release :


KIDD GLOVE (Paul Sabu) - Kidd Glove [YesterRock remaster + bonus]

KIDD GLOVE (Paul Sabu) - Kidd Glove [YesterRock remaster + bonus] full


Among the many labels that re-release classics in the melodic rock genre, two are doing real fine: Rock Candy Records and YesterRock. The latter, sadly, ceased its operations. But in about 6 years of existence, YesterRock has remastered a lot of true gems from the genre - so be fast to get yours as most are becoming out of print.
Among these is this terrific Paul Sabu album released under the pseudonym KIDD GLOVE.

All we know the melodic hard rock side of Paul Sabu since the mid-Eighties. But a young Sabu started his career in the Seventies recording some stuff mixing the popular 'disco music' of the era with Rock.
"Kidd Glove" was his first approach to pure Melodic Rock, with an AOR / Radio Rock sound typical of the year (1984) in the US.
For Kidd Glove it all started when Motown Records (known for their many quality soul releases) decided to add a Rock division to their record company.

KIDD GLOVE (Paul Sabu) - Kidd Glove [YesterRock remaster + bonus] booklet

Paul Sabu was paired with some of Motown's staff writers and together they wrote the material for the "Kidd Glove" album, which was subsequently recorded with the help of guest musicians such as talented drummer Mike Baird (wrongly credited as Baer) who worked with Prism, Eddie Money and later played in Journey's Raised On Radio.
The radio-ready 'Good Clean Fun' opens the album, followed by the melodic rock bliss of 'Killer Instinct'. A killer midtempo tune indeed.

Next arrives, in my opinion, the best track in Paul Sabu's career; "Street Angel". This is a pure '80s heaven plenty of gorgeous vocals, delicious synths, sharp guitar riffs, a pumping rhythm section and a chorus to die for. Easily, one of the best songs from the decade.
There's much more to enjoy: the AOR magic of 'Spirit Of The Night' and 'Fade To Black' (love the those keys!), the smooth radio-ready refrain of "Secrets", or the anthemic, action movie-like 'Hellzarockin'.
'Suzie Wants To Be Star' is close to melodic rock perfection, the way the song is arranged (and played) is simply great.

KIDD GLOVE (Paul Sabu) - Kidd Glove [YesterRock remaster + bonus] back

This digitally remastered reissue from YesterRock is excellent, but we also have 4 juicy bonus tracks, as far I know, previously unreleased.
Mostly are taken from 'The Babysitters' soundtrack, a 1994 movie also known as 'Twin Sitters'. All are fun, but special mention goes for "Brothers Forever", a little melodic rock gem.
YesterRock ceased its operations and all their re-issue catalog will be out of print soon. Go and get it before it's too late!
As for "Kidd Glove", it's a must have cult classic.

01 - Good Clean Fun
02 - Killer Instinct
03 - Street Angel
04 - Spirit Of The Night
05 - Fade To Black
06 - Hellzarockin'
07 - Somewhere In A Song
08 - Secrets
09 - Susie Wants To Be A Star
10 - Viking Boy (bonus track)
11 - At War With The Weights (bonus track)
12 - The Babysitters (bonus track)
13 - Brothers Forever (bonus track)

Paul Sabu - vocals, guitars
Mike Baird, Tommy Amato - drums
Jeff Steele, Murril Maglio - bass
Bobby Sandstorm, Tommy Rude - keyboards

Try Here:


NEW ORDER - Music Complete [Japanese Edition] (2015)

NEW ORDER - Music Complete [Japanese Edition] (2015) full


Not only Melodic Hard Rock / AOR acts from the '80s scene are returning to the fore, but also many 'big' Rock&pop bands. There were major fails recently like A-ha or Duran Duran, however this is not the case with NEW ORDER and their brand new record "Music Complete".
The album will be released September 25, but this "Music Complete Japanese Edition" including a bonus track (plus a limited edition t-shirt) appeared today.

New Order always was more 'synthwave / electronic' than their contemporaries yet with a stronger songwriting quality. "Music Complete" is the band's more mature recording, even better than anything released during their heyday.
Three years ago, New Order returned for a series of live shows, and the great response from the public encouraged a comeback. Less than seven months had passed since New Order officially reunited, and in that time, they had only performed a dozen shows all of which consisted of a carbon copy setlist chock full of serviceable fan favorite hits.
Missing was bassist Peter Hook, who had walked off back in 2007, only to kick off a nostalgic run of books and tours that capitalized on the Joy Division and New Order brands. Yet, returning to the fold was keyboardist Gillian Gilbert. Having played with vocalist Bernard Sumner in the past, bassist Tom Chapman was tagged to replace Hook, rounding out the early days of New Order’s murky and uncertain new era.

That future is now wide open and bright thanks to "Music Complete". As the band’s first official album of new material since 2005, this new release finds New Order turning the knobs down on the six-strings in lieu of a fresh electronic sound. It’s an assured return to an arena that has become all too popular for the band.
“Restless”, “Singularity”, and “Plastic” might be the strongest three-prong opener of any pop album released this year — or even in the last half decade. Histrionic statement? Possibly, but try sitting down after that 18-minute blow to the feet.

Sumner goes into full-on Rocky mode and proves it’s not over ’til it’s over for this band of veterans. The tracks are energetic and pummeling, but they’re also subtly fueled by serious issues. Sumner isn’t exactly foaming at the mouth here, but he does get a little heated lyrically, venting about greed and consumption (“Restless”) and disintegrating relationships (“Plastic”).

NEW ORDER - Music Complete [Japanese Edition] (2015) cd

Because it’s loaded with guests, there’s a transparent curatorial awareness to "Music Complete", one that’s surprisingly engaging and effective. La Roux’s Elly Jackson adds power to the already fiery “Plastic”, but vocally elevates “Tutti Frutti” and “People on the High Line” with a bubbly cadence and a youthful wash.
Iggy Pop channels Leonard Cohen to agreeable effect on “Stray Dog”, arguably this album’s 'Giorgio by Moroder' number. And longtime fan and friend Brandon Flowers harmonizes alongside Sumner on “Superheated” to yank the curtain down with supreme melody.
Behind the scenes, The Chemical Brothers’ Tom Rowlands injects some adrenaline into “Singularity” and “Unlearn this Hatred”, while super-producer Stuart Price signs off on the starry closer.

It’s interesting to note that when they are on their own, New Order tends to turn towards more guitar-driven work — however, they still sound so fresh and assured. “Oh baby, I remember you,” Sumner croons late into the album on “Academic”, and really, he could just as well be talking about himself. Seven tracks in, he’s still oozing searing confidence, and you can almost see the smile curl up his face when he turns toward his six-string for the extended solo.
This, “Restless”, “Nothing But a Fool”, and “The Game” are all sans guests and, not surprisingly, they’re more 'rockin' I'd say. It’s almost as if they saved the true dancing synthwave for their friends.

NEW ORDER - Music Complete [Japanese Edition] (2015) back

"Music Complete" is going to go down as one of New Order’s finest works. It is where the band come back out of the dark and into the sun.
It's plenty of really cool melodies, pumpy rhythms, all golden pop catchiness with essence. You have electronics, yes, but also elaborated rock&pop tunes. It’s the rare late era LP that blossoms with life, while also echoing the past, as Peter Saville’s minimalist cover art suggests.
Highly Recommended.

New Order 『Music Complete TRCP-200』
《国内盤CD / MUTE ロゴ・ステッカー付》

01 - Restless
02 - Singularity
03 - Plastic
04 - Trutti Frutti
05 - People On The High Line
06 - Stray Dog
07 - Academic
08 - Nothing But A Fool
09 - Unlearn This Hatred
10 - The Game
11 - Superheated
12 - Restless [Extended Mix] *
* (Japanese bonus track)

Bernard Sumner – vocals, guitar, synthesisers
Stephen Morris – drums, keyboards, programming
Gillian Gilbert – keyboards
Phil Cunningham – keyboards, guitars, percussion
Tom Chapman – bass, synthesisers
Elly Jackson - guest vocals
Brandon Flowers - guest vocals
Iggy Pop - guest vocals



CHRIS CORNELL - Higher Truth [Deluxe Edition] (2015)

CHRIS CORNELL - Higher Truth [Deluxe Edition] (2015) full


From the moment he embarked on a solo career, Soundgarden frontman CHRIS CORNELL exposed himself as a bandleader who had dominated the songwriting in his former band but had also utterly depended on his old bandmates to give his music teeth. With his new album "Higher Truth", though, Cornell finally carves out a space for his voice and songwriting to shine on their own merits.
Though on paper the acoustic-based arrangements that Cornell goes with here would seem to indicate a move back towards safer, more conservative ground, "Higher Truth" manages to be a more decisive step into new territory than he took in the past.

Reaching into influences he hasn't had chance to truly explore in his group efforts, "Higher Truth" presents Cornell as a tortured bluesman with just a little dash of singer/songwriter blue collar man to smooth things over.
Teaming up with ever prolific rock producer Brendan O'Brien, the duo have managed to produce a tight twelve-track collection (+4 on this Deluxe Edition) that should keep the avid and casual fan happy.
There is no attempt to rewrite the book here, it's rather a respectful stab at good old Acoustic Classic Rock, Soft Rock and Americana.

CHRIS CORNELL - Higher Truth [Deluxe Edition] (2015) inside

Opener 'Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart' sets the tone admirably with a little sparse bluegrass plucking that is soon accompanied by that unmistakable roar and solid drumming.
'Josephine' is a rock anthem, only disguising itself as a ballad. Following 'Murderer Of Blue Skies' makes a fine contrast with lyrics all about an urge to leave a bad relationship rather than praise one. See what you did there, Chris.
'Only These Words' presents some rather dark introspection with quite a jaunty acoustic riff and becomes the album's poppiest moment (despite talk of fathers missing daughters).
Closer 'Our Time In The Universe' opts for a slight Arabic edge that doesn't quite sit with the rest of the album's numbers but does deliver one of its finest vocal performances.

CHRIS CORNELL - Higher Truth [Deluxe Edition] (2015) back

"Higher Truth" is by no means groundbreaking but it's damn solid and doesn't truly contain a bad number. It shows Chris Cornell on his own, tackling the genre's roots with a relaxed touch.
Chris' vocals are still among the best in the business, and are the star in "Higher Truth". To be honest, with his pipes, he could be singing an ode to baked beans and it'd still sound passable.
Quite Recommended.

01 - Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart
02 - Dead Wishes
03 - Worried Moon
04 - Before We Disappear
05 - Through The Window
06 - Josephine
07 - Murderer Of Blue Skies
08 - Higher Truth
09 - Let Your Eyes Wander
10 - Only These Words
11 - Circling
12 - Our Time In The Universe
13 - Bend In The Road (bonus track)
14 - Wrong Side (bonus track)
15 - Misery Chain (bonus track)
16 - Our Time In The Universe [Remix] (bonus track)

Chris Cornell - vocals, guitar, bass, mandolin, programming
Matt Chamberlain - drums
Patrick Warren - piano
Ann Marie Simpson - strings
Brendan O'Brien - bass, drums, guitar, keyboards, percussion



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