Thursday, March 31, 2016

SOTO - Divak [Deluxe Edition bonus tracks + iTunes exclusives] (2016)

SOTO - Divak [Deluxe Edition bonus tracks + iTunes exclusives] (2016) full

SOTO, the band led by awesome vocalist Jeff Scott Soto, is releasing tomorrow April 1st the second album "Divak" (pronounced "dee-vock") which comes shortly after their debut release mere 15 months later, partly due to Jeff Scott Soto's insistence on continuing to create and build a true brand for his new venture.
Fans should be aware that there are bonus digital only tracks (terrific live versions of tracks from debut album ‘Vertigo’) and two exclusive iTunes downloads, both new 2016 tracks from the "Divak" sessions.

14 - Final Say (Live) [bonus track]
15 - The Fall (Live) [bonus track]
16 - Break (Live) [bonus track]
17 - When I'm Older (Live) [bonus track]
18 - Stand Up (Live) [bonus track]
19 - Cracking the Stone [iTunes exclusive bonus track]
20 - My Life [iTunes exclusive bonus track]



SOTO - Divak (2016)

SOTO - Divak (2016) full

SOTO, the band led by awesome vocalist Jeff Scott Soto, is releasing tomorrow April 1st the second album "Divak" (pronounced "dee-vock") which comes shortly after their debut release mere 15 months later, partly due to Jeff Scott Soto's insistence on continuing to create and build a true brand for his new venture.

Once again, the new album is produced by Jeff Scott Soto and drummer Edu Cominato, and mixed by long time JSS engineer/associate John Ellis. But this time Soto has eschewed the trappings of A-list guests, so "Divak" features exclusively his band, and rightly so.
Cominato, BJ, David Z and Salan are a tightly knit unit capable of real musical fireworks. They have also contributed the lion’s share of the writing.

Jeff Scott Soto’s music is always grounded in melody, so "Divak" merely stretches this approach started a year ago and further establishing his latest band concept. Fans will detect echoes of earlier work and should revel in pieces like the anthemic ‘Weight Of The World’ and ‘Unblame’.
The first single ‘Freak Show’ is, typically, a riff-fest and – as with the previous album – has an underpinning heavy rhythm but arguably accessible, whilst ‘Paranoia’, the gut churning ‘Forgotten’ and ‘SuckerPunch’ continue the wonderful riffage and, naturally, topped with stellar vocal delivery.

The debut album featured a couple of standout in the form of mid-tempo and even featured proggy elements. On "Divak" the band have played fairly safe, without any great stylistic diversion save perhaps for the acoustic premise of ‘Misfired’ although still grounded in metallic hard rock.
It’s pretty much heavy riffage all the way, only broken by a superb piece like ‘In My Darkest Hour’, the album’s one extended ballad but – damn – it’s a killer.

SOTO - Divak (2016) back

If the first SOTO album was a superb metallic / hard rock beast, just wait to listen this new one. "Divak" tops the previous one and is even more consistent. Jeff demonstrates his ability to merge different musical sounds and textures on this disc and build on what he started with the first SOTO disc.
Tremendous songs, top class vocals, chugging guitars, groovy rhythm section and a cool, subtle keyboard lines that add a layered effect to the tracks sound, all this is what you'll find in Soto's "Divak".

01 - Divak (Intro)
02 - Weight of the World
03 - FreakShow
04 - Paranoia
05 - Unblame
06 - Cyber Masquerade
07 - In My Darkest Hour
08 - Forgotten
09 - SuckerPunch
10 - Time
11 - Misfired
12 - Fall from Grace
13 - Awakened

Jeff Scott Soto - vocals
Edu Cominato - drums
Jorge Salan - guitars
David Z - bass
BJ - keyboards, guitars



CHEAP TRICK - Bang, Zoom, Crazy...Hello (2016)

CHEAP TRICK - Bang, Zoom, Crazy...Hello (2016) full

Finally it has arrived; the long awaited first CHEAP TRICK album since 2009, titled "Bang, Zoom, Crazy...Hello" to be released tomorrow April 1st.
Some classic rock bands limp into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the basis of past reputation. On the other hand, Cheap Trick — the hard-charging, melodic rockers from Rockford, Ill. — is racing full speed ahead into the Rock Hall, fueled by its best album in decades.

“Bang Zoom Crazy ... Hello” kicks off with a blast of feedback and a classic guitar-bass-and-drum roar on “Heart on the Line,” which would make a great concert opener if they ever tire of the traditional “Hello There.”
There are at least four potential hit singles on this album: a remake of the old Dobie Gray track “The In Crowd,” ‘‘Long Time No See Ya,” the clap-happy “Blood Red Lips” and “No Direction Home.”
As they have since the ‘70s, Cheap Trick infuses their songs with Beatle-esque harmonies, dramatic chord changes and progressions, and guitarist Rick Nielsen’s quirky solos, all atop a pounding beat that makes these songs easy to listen to and hard to forget.
And Nielsen’s son Daxx provides a shot of new energy replacing drummer Bun E. Carlos.

CHEAP TRICK - Bang, Zoom, Crazy...Hello (2016) back

As a fanatic from way back, this album stands proudly next to the finest Cheap Trick have ever produced. "Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello" is quintessential Cheap Trick.
Cheap Trick is a true American original, a melodic rock / rock&pop institution that has thus far not surrendered to age, inertia or silly modern trends. Here’s hoping they never do.
Super, Highly Recommended.

01 - Heart On the Line
02 - No Direction Home
03 - When I Wake Up Tomorrow
04 - Do You Believe Me?
05 - Blood Red Lips
06 - Sing My Blues Away
07 - Roll Me
08 - The In Crowd
09 - Long Time No See Ya
10 - The Sun Never Sets
11 - All Strung Out

Robin Zander – Vocals, rhythm guitar
Rick Nielsen – Lead guitar
Tom Peterson – Bass
Daxx Nielson – Drums
Bun E. Carlos – Drums (not currently recording or touring)



BLACK STONE CHERRY - Kentucky [Deluxe Edition] (2016)

BLACK STONE CHERRY - Kentucky [Deluxe Edition] (2016) full bonus tracks

Sometimes you need to look back in order to move forward. While BLACK STONE CHERRY have had increasing chart success - their last album hit number five on the UK charts and number 22 in the US - the band felt a lack of creative control over their recordings. To that end, they left Roadrunner Records and signed to Mascot to release tomorrow, April 1, "Kentucky" their brand new album.

It's not strange that Black Stone Cherry returned to Mascot Records - a label specialized in blues-oriented rock - as it's not strange the band titled the new album "Kentucky", their home, the US State where they born as a band.
And that's because "Kentucky" is some kind of a comeback to their original sound, that Southern Rock inflected.
In a deliberate return to their roots, it was recorded at producer David Barrick’s studio near their home town, just like their self-titled 2005 debut. But this is a heavy, dark record, owing little to the rangy swing of their Allmans and Skynyrd heritage. Instead, it’s modern hard rock for the hard world they find around them.

The isolated old farmhouse where Black Stone Cherry first practiced is proudly framed on the album sleeve. But this symbol of Southern home comfort is bathed in grey. This cover artwork gives you a clear idea of what to find inside.
The first track 'Way of the Future' is a heavy beast, an amalgamation of sounds from the band's first and second album, a bass driven track that continues with the the dark follower 'In Our Dreams'. Next, 'Shakin’ My Cage' retains the heavy, but opens out to expose Chris Robertson’s vocal.

BLACK STONE CHERRY - Kentucky [Deluxe Edition] (2016) inside

One of the greatest surprises on this album is 'Soul Machine', it oozes a Soul / Blues groove and they utilise some people from their local church for the chorus, as well as a brass section, which gives this song an edge not heard on a BSC song before. It not only takes their music back to Kentucky but it raises the bar beyond anything I could have imagined from this band. This is undoubtedly the stand out track on the album for me.
Also very interesting is the cover of Edwin Starr’s 'War' with friends Jonas Butler and Ryan Stiles blasting out the brass but also Kentucky musicians ading a special touch. It's a rampaging, from-the-gut version . Robertson sings, ‘Who wants to die?’ with a gravelly soul holler, while his reliably concise and inventive lead guitar surges and whines.

With 'Hangman' and 'Cheaper to Drink Alone', BSC return to the beastly sound of the first three songs, then 'Rescue Me' the melodic commercial side of the band with home grown choral influences and a really cool solo panned in stereo.
'Feelin' Fuzzy' indeed adds a lot of fuzz to its bluesy foundation, then 'Born To Die' delivers a huge groove again and a melodic chorus
And 'The Rambler' is something else, an instant American classic that Kris Kristofferson or Willie Nelson would be proud to own. It’s a dying troubadour’s apology to the daughter he barely knows, the result of a night when ‘I played a pretty southern girl right out of her dress.’ This acoustic heartbreaker sets off the preceding thunder perfectly.

BLACK STONE CHERRY - Kentucky [Deluxe Edition] (2016) back

Black Stone Cherry always has been, for me, one of the few modern hard rock bands that worth a listen, and their new album 'Kentucky' confirm this. It's their more 'classic rock' record, one that traditional hard rock fans should check out.
Whilst their last two albums sought to bring forward more American radio friendly songs, it is Europe and the UK in particular that has helped the band climb the rock stairway, and the fans there wanted the band to return to their roots, the essence of what got them all hooked in the first place.
Well, 'Kentucky' does it, still sounding modern but firmly inspired by a classic rock heart. Catch them this Summer touring with Europe and Whitesnake.

01 - The Way Of The Future
02 - In Our Dreams
03 - Shakin' My Cage
04 - Soul Machine
05 - Long Ride
06 - War
07 - Hangman
08 - Cheaper To Drink Alone
09 - Rescue Me
10 - Feelin' Fuzzy
11 - Darkest Secret
12 - Born To Die
13 - The Rambler
14 - I Am The Lion (Bonus Track)
15 - Evil (Bonus Track)

Chris Robertson - vocals/guitar
Ben Wells - guitar/vocals
Jon Lawhon - bass/vocals
John Fred Young - drums



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

BAND-MAID - New Beginning (2015)

BAND-MAID - New Beginning (2015) full

Who the hell are are these 5-piece girl band coming from Japan dressed in provoking maid outfits? BAND-MAID might get your attention with frilly costumes and the playful 'Welcome home, master' slogan on their YouTube channel, but there’s no fronting when it comes to their music. Listening their last album "New Beginning" released at the end of last year it's clear these girls are here to rock hard and get your head banging.

Something about the maid outfits just makes your jaw drop even lower when they bust out metallic grooves like the kick-ass opening track 'Thrill' (check the video) and the follow-up 'Freezer'. It’s just non-stop from there across "New Beginning".
The album fuse modern commercial hard rock taking elements of pop, metal and even heavy funk. It is full of addictive numbers with a powerful chemistry of twin vocals, killer guitar riffs, low-end bass line and a precise pounding beat of the drums.
Each sound by the five band members has a strong personality, but their collision unleashes huge amounts of energy in each song. Although the Band-Maid shows their techniques throughout the album, all songs have both pleasant and easy-to-follow melodies for every one to enjoy.

Perhaps the key of Band-Maid catchiness is the twin vocal delivery creating cool melodies, but also the clean, extemely polished production & mix.
But do not be fooled; this is commercial stuff, yes, but these girls rock hard via sharp guitar riffs and a full throttle rhythm section.
Band-Maid shows no sign of being girly. Vocalists Saiki and Miku (also rhythm guitar) sing their hearts out to show their determination to lead their own live concerts during songs like 'Price of Pride' and 'Arcadia Girl'.

Damn, check the melting riffs / groove of 'Shake That' akin Jake E. Lee or George Lynch and then tell me.
Or just take the rocking 'Don't Apply The Brake', with a strong potential to become an anthem and a special arena favorite.
However, Band-Maid is not a one trick pony. The band shows a different side in ' Beauty And The Beast', a mixture of pop and heavy funk rock combining memorable guitar riffs and Misa’s slap bass play.

BAND-MAID - New Beginning (2015) inside

Japanese artists are somewhat isolated from international listeners, with their records rarely edited outside Asia. Hopefully there will be a full international release of Band-Maid's 'New Beginning', because it rocks.
Sure, there's some bubble-gum choruses plus a clear commercialism printed all over the album and the girls image, but believe me, these chicks kick some serious ass for the most part.
The guitars switch things up between precise hard rock riffs, layered power-chord choruses and surprisingly competent soloing, whereas on the frequent occasions where the bass is thrust into the spotlight there are some great licks and fills.

BAND-MAID - New Beginning (2015) back

Strong musicianship, melodic catchy songwriting and a punchy production combine to make "New Beginning" a truly refreshing rocking album from start to finish.
Try something different. And good.

01 - Thrill
02 - Freezer
03 - Real Existence
04 - Price Of Pride
05 - Arcadia Girl
06 - Don't Apply The Brake
07 - Beauty And The Beast
08 - Don't Let Me Down
09 - Shake That
10 - Summer Drive
11 - Big Dad
12 - Forward

Saiki Atsumi - Vocals
Miku Kobato - Guitar, Vocals
Kanami Tuono - Lead Guitar
Misa - bass
Akane Hirose - drums



VANDENBERG - Vandenberg [Rock Candy remaster] full

As part of Whitesnake Adrian Vandenberg would become famous, but the guitarist started his career with his Dutch band VANDENBERG in the early '80s. The group's self-titled debut still is a hard rock fan's favorite world-wide, and the best for to enjoy this rocking album is via the Remastered & Reloaded reissue by Rock Candy Records.

For Adrian Vandenberg all started in the late '70s with his band Teaser releasing a LP plenty of hot riffs. On the strength of demos for a 2nd album they ink a deal with a major label, changed their name to "VANDENBERG" and flew from their native Netherlands to Jimmy Page’s studio in UK to record the debut under the new moniker.
Produced/Engineered by Stuart Epps, in October of 1982 the self-titled album was released. booklet

"Vandenberg" was a superb effort, easily one of the best albums of that year and one of the best debuts of the era with the emphasis on consummate songwriting, exceptional arrangements, exemplary vocals (from Bert Heerink) and, of course, Adrian’s blistering guitar work.

The album serves up a skillful blend of the fast-paced hard rockers infused with the more catchy aspects of European Rock&Pop, along with a few tracks that explore a more melodic and sometimes acoustic side.
"Vandenberg" also featured the hit single "Burning Heart" — one of the '80's first power ballads, and still one of its best. cd photo

This is one of my favorite earlier '80s discs in this genre - melodic hard rock blended with commercial hooks - ahead for their time, when most the bands in Europe were still playing a more straight NWOBHM. "Vandenberg" really doesn't have a weak track.
This Rock Candy remaster at 24-bit for the very first time from original source tapes sounds excellent, complete with rare, never seen photos from Vandenberg's early steps. It has become pretty hard to find, as although listed on several stores it's out of stock.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Your Love Is In Vain
02 - Back On My Feet
03 - Wait
04 - Burning Heart
05 - Ready For You
06 - Too Late
07 - Nothing To Lose
08 - Lost In A City
09 - Out In The Streets

Bert Heerink - Lead Vocals
Adrian Vandenberg - Guitar, Vocals
Dick Kemper - Bass, Vocals
Jos Zoomer - Drums, Vocals
Produced/Engineered by Stuart Epps

Try Here:


VANDENBERG - Heading For A Storm [Rock Candy remaster +3]

VANDENBERG - Heading For A Storm [Rock Candy remaster +3] full

Adrian Vandenberg would become famous worldwide as part of Whitesnake, but the guitarist started his career with his Dutch band VANDENBERG in the early '80s. The group's second album "Heading For A Storm" has been reissued by Rock Candy specialists remastered and with a trio of bonus tracks.

Produced by Stuart Epps (Twisted Sister), "Heading For A Storm" showcased a more mature Vandenberg, one with increasingly sophisticated songs - all written by Adrian himself - with the intention to obtain a more commercial sound to appeal the US market.
Polished guitar work, keyboard fills, more catchy choruses & harmony vocals at places very close to AOR is what you'll find on this CD.
Adrian plays beautifully and his sense of melody & technique are always adeptly balanced on this record, he knows when it's appropriate to serve up an insane solo as well as when a more subtle melody is required. The vocals, courtesy of Bert Heerink, are solid and very 'European'.

VANDENBERG - Heading For A Storm [Rock Candy remaster +3] booklet

However, the overall style is very Americanized, in a melodic Dokken-esque vein - just check the excellent "Different Worlds". The melodious riffs that Vandenberg knocks out on tunes such as "Time Will Tell" and "I'm On Fire" are maybe the reason behind Coverdale knocking on his door later down the musical line.
On the more hard rocking numbers like "This Is War", "Rock On" and "Friday Night" Adrian's guitar work is extremely active constantly keeping things interesting, while the intensity does blow up title track "Heading For A Storm" plus some fine harmony vocals from Heerink.

VANDENBERG - Heading For A Storm [Rock Candy remaster +3] back

This Special Deluxe Collector's Edition of "Heading For A Storm" by Rock Candy features a fully remastered sound shaped from 24 BIT digital technology, enhanced artwork and three raw & hot, previously unreleased live tracks: "Ready For You", "Lost In A City" and "Too Late", all recorded at Houston, Texas, on March 3rd, 1983.
Great one. Highly Recommended.

01 - Friday Night
02 - Welcome To The Club
03 - Time Will Tell
04 - Different Worlds
05 - This Is War
06 - I'm On Fire
07 - Heading For A Storm
08 - Rock On
09 - Waiting For The Night
10 - Ready For You [Live] (bonus track)
11 - Lost In A City [Live] (bonus track)
12 - Too Late [Live] (bonus track)

Bert Heerink: lead and harmony vocals
Adrian Vandenberg: guitars, keyboards, harmony vocals
Dick Kemper: bass, bass pedals, harmony vocals
Jos Zoomer: drums, harmony vocals



Tuesday, March 29, 2016

TOM HANSEN - A Taste Of California (2016)

TOM HANSEN - A Taste Of California (2016) full

A TASTE OF CALIFORNIA is a music project based in Tønsberg, Norway, created by songwriter Tom Hansen. In fact, Hansen is Music Teacher who in his free time compose songs inspired by the genre he loves; American West Coast AOR from the early '80s. "A Taste Of California", the album, it's a 'dream come true' for Hansen where some of his idols agreed to arrange & record his songs.

The title says all: "A Taste Of California" is all about classic American West Coast AOR from the very early '80s, that classy FM sound blended with smooth melodies and some soul at heart.
It's not a surprise that this genre born in America, now 2016 is cultivated almost exclusively by Scandinavian musicians. Take as example State Cows, Ole Borud or Peter Friestedt.
And indeed super-talented Peter Friestedt collaborates in "A Taste Of California", alongside American West Coast legends like Larry Williams (David Foster, Al Jarreau) or John "JR" Robinson (all) and the cream of Norway's sessionists.

"A Taste Of California" smell and taste classy from the very first note. Opener 'My Lady' perfectly sets the tone for what's to come; fluid vocals by Kenneth Eriksen (co-producer as well), super groovy drums courtesy of master John 'JR' Robinson, and, as the icing on the cake, a stratospheric guitar solo by Peter Friestedt.
Wow... this is good. Really Good.
From here we have 18 delicious tracks (some short cool instrumentals) with all the magic of that era, as the velvet ballad 'Stay With Me' with the splendid voice of Rheanne Lindeberg, the dynamic 'A Dream Come True', the delightful 'Vis A Vis' and 'Falling Leaves', or the emotional 'Standing Tall'.

'Special Friend' is perhaps my favorite, a classy song in true sense of ' 80s West Coast AOR, with the smooth vocals of Victor Brooks and that delicate instrumental atmospheres that made this genre so popular back in time.
And what you can expect from a song titled 'Mr. WestCoast'? Well, a pure LA Session sound, a Tom Hansen tribute to the genre he loves so much.

Tom Hansen should be really proud by the results of "A Taste Of California": the sounds of classic US West Coast music transported to Norway 2016. He's assisted by top class musicians, and production is dedicated, extremely clean.
Fans of the genre, this is a must.

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrox

01. My Lady
Drums – John "JR" Robinson
Grand Piano, Electric Piano – Magne Arnesen
Guitar – Peter Friestedt
Vocals, Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Producer – Kenneth Eriksen

02. Song For Hansson
Bass, Acoustic Guitar – Halstein Larsen
Drum Programming – Pål Johnsen
Electric Piano – Haavard Flaaten
Tenor Saxophone, Keyboards – Larry Williams

03. Brazilian Night
Arranged By Tom Hansen
Bass – Espen Hauge
Electric Guitar, Keyboards – Halstein Larsen
Keyboards – Nils Mathiesen
Piano, Drum Programming, – Magne Arnesen
Vocals – Line Knudsen, Victor Brooks

04. Stay With Me
Bass, Electric Guitar – Halstein Larsen
Drums – Anders Viken
Vocals – Rheanne Lindeberg

05. A Dream Come True
Bass – Espen Hauge
Drums – Anders Viken
Guitar – Halstein Larsen, Pål Johnsen
Piano – Magne Arnesen
Tenor Saxophone, Keyboards – Larry Williams

06. Vis A Vis
Guitar – Halstein Larsen
Programmed By, Keyboards – Oliver Tangen
Tenor Saxophone – Kjell Håkon Andersen

07. Falling Leaves
Keyboards, Guitar, Backing Vocals – Kenneth Eriksen
Saxophone – Olav Tornes
Vocals – Hugo Lande

08. Standing Tall (A Tribute To Whitney Houston)
Bass – Espen Hauge
Drums – Anders Viken
Electric Guitar – Pål Johnsen
Vocals – Trine Charlotte Askjem

09. T-Party
Guitar, Bass – Halstein Larsen
Keyboards – Magne Arnesen

10. Special Friend
Bass – Espen Hauge
Drums – Jon Rosslund
Electric Guitar – Pål Johnsen
Keyboards – Magne Arnesen
Vocals – Victor Brooks

11. Mr. Westcoast
Bass, Electric Guitar – Halstein Larsen
Piano, Keyboards – Magne Arnesen
Tenor Saxophone – Kjell Håkon Andersen

12. Enter 2000
Backing Vocals – Betania Gospelsingers
Bass – Espen Hauge
Drums, Percussion – Per Hillestad
Electric Guitar – Halstein Larsen
Grand Piano, Strings – Nils Mathisen
Horns – Dag Einar Eilertsen, Terje Johannesen
Vocals – Astrid Tveitan, Line Knudsen, Svein Finstad

13. Wessel Song
Keyboards, Bass, Guitar, Percussion – Kenneth Eriksen
Tenor Saxophone – Kjell Håkon Andersen

14. Magic Moments
Keyboards, Programmed By – Halstein Larsen

15. Stay With Me
Guitar – Halstein Larsen
Piano, Keyboards, Programmed By – Magne Arnesen

16. Fate
Grand Piano, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Violin, Viola – Nils Mathisen
Tenor Saxophone – Øystein Trollsås

17. Time To Say Goodbye
Bass, Acoustic Guitar – Halstein Larsen
Piano, Keyboards, Drum Programming – Truls Gran
Vocals – Jan Ronander

18. My Lady (Disco Remix / Radio Edit)
Guitar – Peter Friestedt
Vocals – Kenneth Eriksen



ERIC JOHNSON - Up Close ; Another Look (European version)

ERIC JOHNSON - Up Close ; Another Look (European version) full

Coinciding with ERIC JOHNSON’s nationwide UK tour presenting his celebrated album Up Close, the notable guitarist and his recording label released a custom European version re-entitled "Up Close - Another Look", revised and remixed from its original release, including a refreshed artwork.

Johnson re-worked 6 of the songs with some new arrangements and remixed 7 others. For the casual fan I'm not sure how relevant this new special edition will be (let's face it, the original was damn fine in its own right), but for completists and loyal fans, some of the new touches the guitarist has added here are truly worth hearing.
For those outside of the US who didn't pick up an import copy, this will no doubt be your first exposure to the CD.

Most of these songs are sparkling, brimming with Johnson's spectacular guitar tone and fluid dexterity, yet just as impressive are the guest appearances who help elevate some of these compositions.
Malford Milligan puts in a great vocal performance on the catchy "Brilliant Room", as does Steve Miller on the Electric Flag blues classic "Texas", which also features guitar from Jimmy Vaughan. Blues upstart Johnny Lang rips it up on "Austin", and the great Sonny Landreth duels with Johnson on the sultry "Your Book".

Otherwise, it's the stellar instrumentals that feature Johnson's virtuoso guitar skills that really are the highlight here, like the bluesy-rocker "Fatdaddy", the AOR-tinged "Gem", and the gritty, bluesy, rocky conglomerate "Vortexan" that seems to capture Johnson and his guitar at his best.
All are great, but my favorite is "Soul Surprise", a master class of building sound but there is the nagging feeling that some of these power riffs have already been laid down 20 years ago, hence, there is almost an '80s feel about this track.

ERIC JOHNSON - Up Close ; Another Look - back cover

This album sounded like one of the coolest guitar-focused rock records around when it was originally released. The new remix / added parts has only served to reinforce the fact that this record is an incredible journey through rockin' blues, classic rock and AOR related sounds.
"Up Close ; Another Look" is only available in Europe on selected retailers on CD and Vinyl LP (and it's becoming not so easy to find).

01 - Awaken
02 - Fatdaddy
03 - Brilliant Room
04 - Texas
05 - Gem
06 - Austin
07 - Soul Surprise
08 - On The Way
09 - Arithmetic
10 - The Sea And The Mountain
11 - Vortexan
12 - A Change Has Come To Me
13 - Your Book

Eric Johnson - Vocals, Guitars, 6-String Bass, Sitar, Hammond B3
Roscoe Beck, Kyle Brock, Chris Maresh - Bass
Kevin Hall, Frosty Smith, Tommy Taylor - Drums
Tom Burritt, Brad Evilsizer, James Fenner - Percussion
Sonny Landreth - Guitar
Jimmie Vaughan - Guitar
Red Young - Keyboards
Jonny Lang, Steve Miller, Malford Milligan - guest Vocals
and many more...



Sunday, March 27, 2016

THUNDERSTONE - Apocalypse Again [Japanese Edition] (2016)

THUNDERSTONE - Apocalypse Again [Japanese Edition] (2016) full

THUNDERSTONE are back with a new album, "Apocalypse Again", to be released next April 1 on AFM Records. The record has just been released in Japan under the title 'Fire And Ice' including a bonus track.
It has been six long years since the quintet last released a studio album but more importantly, it is the first in a decade to feature original vocalist Pasi Rantanen. And, on the basis of "Apocalypse Again", it would appear that their returning vocalist has brought with him a renewed hunger and desire that has permeated the entire band.

I’m not a huge Power / Melodic Euro Metal fan, but this Finnish act is one of the few bands of the genre that have always been a tremendous favorite. The thing that appealed to me so much about them was the fact that they weren’t a straight forward, repetitive Power Metal band, always writing their music in a more melodic style.

Their brand new album is a stunning collection of rockers that seems inspired in the most successful era of the band (their first 3 albums). Not only is it a welcome joy to my ears to have Pasi’s magnificent voice back, but to hear the amazing guitar work of Nino Laurenne again on top of the brilliant songs is a joy untold.
Rounding out this pair is Titus Hjelm on bass, Jukka Karinen on keyboards, and Atte Palokangas on drums, solidifying the unit and gives reason as to why I Iove this band so much.
Blessing the listener with songs like “The Path,” “Walk Away Free,” “Wounds,” and “Barren Land”, Thunderstone prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they’re back and better than ever.

THUNDERSTONE - Apocalypse Again [Japanese Edition] (2016) inside

“Through The Pain” is slightly slower, almost ballad-like with an absolutely huge chorus and more of a melodic hard rock sheen. It’s a really storming track and one of my favourites on the record. Not for the first time, I’m reminded of Jorn Lande in Rantanen’s delivery..
This Japan version includes the bonus “Force Sublime”, another energetic track with flamboyant keyboards, killer riffs and a rousing chorus.

What I really like about Thunderstone on this record in particular is that they are not afraid to bust out the keyboard solos and more often than not, let them duel with the lead guitar.
Whether or not it was a deliberate act on the band’s part, the upfront and undiluted keys nevertheless create a slightly old-school feel to the material as well as an element of fun and devil-may-care attitude which I really like.

When I heard the advanced single (featured in 0dayrox's March Advanced Singles) I was super stoked to check it out, and am happy to announce that the full "Apocalypse Again" doesn’t disappoint.
It is addictive, infectious and powerful. It has been a long time coming, but the wait was worth it as a rejuvenated Thunderstone have returned with one hell of a bang, producing a slab of impressive and expertly crafted melodic metal in the process.
An excellent return for a band that few people likely know, but will hopefully be rectified now. Welcome back guys! Stick around for a little while… perhaps forever.
Strongly Recommended

01. Veterans Of The Apocalypse
02. The Path
03. Fire And Ice
04. Through The Pain
05. Walk Away Free
06. Higher
07. Wounds
08. Days Of Our Lives
09. Barren Land
10. Force Sublime (Japan Bonus Track)

Pasi Rantanen – Vocals
Titus Hjelm – Bass
Nino Laurenne – Guitars
Jukka Karinen – Keyboards
Atte Palokangas – Drums



JEFF HEALEY - Heal My Soul (2016)

JEFF HEALEY - Heal My Soul (2016) full

This last week of March 2016 marks the release of "Heal My Soul" – the extraordinary lost album from the late, super-talented JEFF HEALEY which has never been heard before by the public. March 25th of this year would have seen Jeff turn 50 years old and this album begins the celebration of a milestone year for a true musical icon.

"Heal My Soul" is the first album of new songs recorded by Jeff Healey in over 15 years, a 12-track posthumous CD from the Canadian superb musician.
Under the direct supervision of the Jeff Healey Estate these tracks were painstakingly restored and brought to life bringing into focus Jeff’s unique and special gifts as an artist.

Healey is remembered as one of the most outstanding guitarists and performers of the past 30 years. He lost his sight during early childhood due to retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer. Playing guitar since the age of three, he developed the distinctive lap-style guitar technique that helped bring him international attention by his late teens.
A Grammy nominee and JUNO Award winner, his five releases with The Jeff Healey Band totaled millions of sales worldwide. Over the course of his career, he also shared stages and earned the admiration of countless other musicians including B.B. King, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, George Harrison, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and the Allman Brothers Band.

In a joint statement, Jeff Healey Estate Co-Administrators Cristie Healey and Roger Costa said, “Heal My Soul is a project that we have wanted to tackle for years. A ‘lost’ album, it contains material recorded during one of the most creative periods in Jeff’s rock career. Until now, it has never seen the light of day.
Jeff was very proud of this work and it features some of the most powerful and impassioned performances he ever committed to record. With complete creative control we’ve laboured hard, tracking down recordings, identifying the right performances, restoring them to their proper stature and mixing and mastering them from the ground up”.

JEFF HEALEY - Heal My Soul (2016) cd

There is everything you’d want from a Healey album. From full on rockers ('Moodswing', 'Please'), atmospheric bluesy ballads ('Baby Blue', 'I Misunderstood'), to full on shred attack ('Temptation', 'Daze Of The Night').
'Temptation' is a firm favorite on this album. It’s just so damn dirty, rocking. From the solo to the vocal it’s Jeff at his finest and cements how much of a talent was truly lost when this young legend passed away.
To say he’s missed is an understatement but he’s certainly not forgotten and to be suddenly handed a release of brand new tracks to celebrate the 15th anniversary of his untimely death is purely magical.

This is no more evident than on the track 'Put The Shoe On The Other Foot' with its immense guitar sound that is signature Jeff. A groove so funky it should be illegal, and the solo features some amazing wah-wah work that his foot must have thought it was pumping up an air bed. Coupled with a vocal performance that is second to none, this produces 5 minutes of pure orgasmic power.

JEFF HEALEY - Heal My Soul (2016) back

The music on "Heal My Soul" captures Healey in full flight, displaying the virtuosity that made the Toronto native one of the most revered musicians in the world during his all-too-brief lifetime.
There isn’t a bad weak song on the CD. It's a true new full album, not a cash-in, it’s 100% a celebration. It really does show that Healey enjoyed what he did during these recordings. The whole album is a joy.
"Heal My Soul" is a treasure trove of Jeff Healey material, it’s like receiving a letter from a long lost friend and a fitting testament to the great man himself.
HIGHLY Recommended.

01. Daze Of The Night
02. Moodswing
03. Baby Blue
04. I Misunderstood
05. Please
06. Love In Her Eyes
07. Temptation
08. Kiss The Ground You Walk On
09. All The Saints
10. Put The Shoe On The Other Foot
11. Under A Stone
12. It's The Last Time



KIAMA - Sign Of IV (2016)

KIAMA - Sign Of IV (2016) full

Formed about two years ago, KIAMA is the brainchild of Magenta's multi-instrumentalist Rob Reed whom are presenting their impressive debut "Sign Of IV".
Alongside Steven Wilson, Rob Reed must be one of the busiest men in the field of progressive rock at the moment. As well as his day job as leader and creative inspiration of the wonderful Magenta, he has more recently been spreading his multi-instrumentalist wings with the ‘rock opera’ Kompendium and his one-man tribute to Mike Oldfield, ‘Sanctuary’ – both sublime, both incredibly intensive and time-consuming.

And now here’s Kiama, a new project that Reed has put together with the intention of revisiting the classic rock bands of the early seventies such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Queen, Rainbow, et al, and essentially distilling the genre to extract the progressive rock heart that was always at the very core of tracks such as ‘Kashmir’, ‘Child In Time’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘Stargazer’.

With so much of what passes for ‘progressive’ rock these days, it is so refreshing to hear a contemporary prog album, yes, with rock at its heart, but which puts the song and the melody at the centre of things.
That this has been achieved is in no small part due to the stellar cast of seasoned musicians that Reed has assembled here – Andy Edwards (Frost*, IQ, Robert Plant), Luke Machin (The Tangent, Maschine) and Dylan Thompson (Shadow Of The Sun, The Reasoning) all play their parts in what turns out to be a stunning piece of work.

KIAMA - Sign Of IV (2016) inside

Reed says: "We drew from a pool of musical references from the Seventies who were primarily thought of as rock bands, but to me were responsible for some of the greatest ‘Prog’ epics. Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and “Stairway to Heaven. Rainbow’s “Stargazer” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” were the order of the day.
There was no point in doing what each of us had done previously in our respective bands, the goal was to do something different.
One ingredient that you find with these classic albums of the 70’s, was that the bands were not afraid to mix the styles of music up from track to track. This is something we were not afraid to do. we just did what we liked, so each track ended up with a different feel. These days albums are very linear, stay in one style and can be a little monotonous."

And indeed KIAMA’s debut album owes more to Classic Rock than what’s happening in the current prog scene.
The recruitment of Thompson in particular is an inspired move as his vocals are perfectly suited to the songs and, though I suspect his range has been pushed to the limit, he comes through with flying colours.
Having been recorded live at Peter Gabriel’s Real World studios, "Sign Of Four" has that organic immediacy that can only be achieved with top musicians playing together rather than (as is so often the case these days) the various parts being recorded separately and squirted down the line.

Nine tracks in all and there’s not a dull moment to be heard.
Opening track ‘Cold Black Heart’ comes rumbling out of the speakers with Zeppelinesque rifferama that submits to an irresistible, anthemic chorus which gives Thompson an early opportunity to show what he’s going to bring to the party. It’s a tremendous opening statement and pretty much sets the standard for what follows.
From the acoustic intro and pounding guitar wig-out of ‘Tears’ to the elaborated chops of ‘Muzzled’; from the multiple time signature changes of ‘Slime’ to the heavy as hell / quiet as a mouse acoustics of ‘To The Edge’ and the dreamy, acoustic and most progressive track on the album ‘Beautiful World’ every player gets their moment in the sun – and every player takes that moment to shine.

KIAMA - Sign Of IV (2016) digipak

Machin’s guitar work is, at times stunning and the aforementioned Thompson sprinkles magic on every track. Andy Edwards’ stickwork is everything it should be and Reed’s keyboard and bass work in particular shine through like the consummate musician he is.
It would have been very easy for KIAMA in their debut "Sign Of IV" to slip into being merely a tribute album to the Gods of yore – truth is it’s an outstanding progressive rock album that captures the excitement of that classic era whilst sounding every bit as contemporary as Reed intended.

01. Cold Black Heart
02. Tears
03. Muzzled
04. Slime
05. I Will Make It Up With You
06. To The Edge
07. Beautiful World
08. Slip Away
09. Free

Rob Reed (Magenta, Kompendium) - bass, keyboards
Andy Edwards (Robert Plant, IQ, Frost*) - drums
Luke Machin (Maschine, The Tangent) - guitars
Dylan Thompson (Shadow Of The Sun, The Reasoning) - vocals
thanks to Alan Jones



ROBIN TROWER - Where You Are Going To (2016)

ROBIN TROWER - Where You Are Going To (2016) full

Continuing his productive creative surge, guitar master ROBIN TROWER rediscovers his rock chops in this just released new studio package titled "Where You Are Going To". Ten great new songs, phenomenal guitar playing, and that signature tone that only Robin Trower can cultivate from his Fender Stratocaster.

Last March 9th was Robin Trower’s 71th birthday. You do not keep recording at that age unless you have a real passion for music. Robin has been quoted as saying “I still enjoy making music. I practically live for playing the guitar.”
And "Where You Are Going To" clearly reflects this fervor.
The new CD is more of a rocker than Trower's last one, but still squarely based in Robin's love for Blues. Robin's voice is much more confident on these ten new studio recordings, and the guitar work is stunning.

One of the first things that will stand out to you as you listen is of course Robin’s world-class guitar work. This album is filled with a whole lot of groove, rock groove, packed with a kicking rocking attitude via hot riffs and superb solos.
I will be honest, though, I threw this disc on without doing any reading on who the musicians were. By the third track, I was intrigued to find out whom the bass player was – turns out that it’s Robin himself laying down that powerful groove on the bass for the whole album along with Chris Taggart on the drums and Luke Smith on organ.
So then man, apart for being a terrific six-string player, shows he's fully involved into the music creation of this album delivering monster bass lines and really good - considering his age - lead vocals. He even has created the interesting cover artwork too.

ROBIN TROWER - Where You Are Going To (2016) inside

Just check the moving "When Will the Next Blow Fall", the funky 'The Fruits of Your Desire', or the deep 'Where You Are Going To' where on the solo Robin rings a seriously full atmospheric tone from his Fender.
Other standout tracks include the slowburner 'Jigsaw' along with the rocking 'Ain't No Use to Worry', and the almost ZZ TOP rocker 'In Too Deep' (killer tone).

Robin’s recording history speaks for itself. How many artists have an album like his 1974’s Bridge of Sighs that many of today’s great guitar players will point at when they are asked to list albums that influenced them.
After all this time Robin Trower can still deliver an album packed with a fire that many players half of his age would envy.
Very Recommended.

01 - When Will the Next Blow Fall
02 - Where You Are Going To
03 - Back Where You Belong
04 - Jigsaw
05 - The Fruits of Your Desire
06 - We Will Be Together Someday
07 - Ain't No Use to Worry
08 - In Too Deep
09 - I'm Holding On to You
10 - Delusion Sweet Delusion

Robin Trower - Vocals, Guitars, Bass
Chris Taggart - Drums
Luke Smith - Keyboards
Livingstone Brown - additional Bass, co-production, mixing, mastering



Friday, March 25, 2016

V.A. - 0dayrox Advanced Releases April 2016 - Vol.2

V.A. - 0dayrox Advanced Releases April 2016 - Vol.2

Highly expected new AOR / Melodic Hard Rock releases are coming in the next months... let's check some of the advanced singles from well established acts and really promising newcomers.

We have here the title track of the new long awaited DRIVE SHE SAID album, 'Pedal To The Metal', a great tune for sure.
Elegant Melodic Rockers VEGA present their new single 'Every Little Monster' (indeed a monster track), and DYNAZTY the title track of their upcoming album 'The Human Paradox' (rocks!)

'Waiting On A Heartbreak' is the second advance from THE DEFIANTS, the new super-group put together by Paul Laine, Bruno Ravel and Rob Marcello, three fabulous musicians all with ties to the great melodic hard rock band Danger Danger. Their self-titled debut on Frontiers Music is expected for April 15, 2016. Without a doubt one of the albums of the year.

Talking about super-bands and Frontiers Music, PHANTOM 5 is a new group working on a fantastic debut. PHANTOM 5 is the new band formed by some german Hard Rock luminaries, including former Bonfire singer Claus Lessmann, former Frontline guitarist Robby Boebel, former Scorpions bassist Francis Buchholz and former Jaded Heart drummer Axel Kruse - along with Michael Voss (Michaek Schenker, Casanova, Sinner). First song 'All The Way' is terrific.

Legends CHEAP TRICK return with a new album soon, go and listen the ultra melodic & catchy 'No Direction Home'.
Also Swedish AOR lovers HOUSTON are giving the final touches to their new album, and 'Shout Out Our Love' is the delicious first single. Pure bliss.
There's also another SHIRAZ LANE advance (the excellent melodic ballad 'Same Ol' Blues'), a new THE GLORIA STORY track, and new bands to keep an eye on, like DEXTRESS, WAYLAND and VIOLET JANINE.

01 - Drive She Said - Pedal To The Metal
02 - Vega - Every Little Monster
03 - The Defiants - Waiting On A Heartbreak
04 - Phantom 5 - All The Way
05 - Dynazty - The Human Paradox
06 - Cheap Trick - No Direction Home
07 - Houston - Shout Out Our Love
08 - Steve Augeri - Rich Man's World
09 - The Gloria Story - Beast Of Northern Light
10 - Shiraz Lane - Same Ol' Blues
11 - Dextress - Bring On The Girls
12 - Wayland - Get A Little
13 - Violet Janine - Down On My Knees (feat Pontus Snibb)



V.A. - 0dayrox Advanced Releases April 2016 - Vol.1

VANGOUGH - Kingdom Of Ruin (2011)

Highly expected new AOR / Melodic Hard Rock releases are coming in the next months... let's check some of the advanced singles from well established acts and really promising newcomers.

Italian well known rockers joined forces under the name of I.F.O.R. (Italian Forces Of Rock) to tribute their love for melodic hard rock / AOR music and all the fans of this amazing scene all over the world. Featuring members of Lionville, Wheels Of Fire, Charming Grace, Alessandro Del Vecchio (who also mixed the song) 'We Still Rock' is a great single, hopefully they record a full album.

Again with Joe Lynn Turner at the helm, SUNSTORM returns with a new album on Frontiers Music. 'The Sound Of Goodbye' is a superb advance.
Also on Frontiers, Swedish legends TREAT got ready their new CD, 'Endangered' is another advance full of Scandi magic.

Australians JULY REIGN are releasing their first album this week trough MelodicRock Records. With the great Carsten "Lizard" Schulz at charge of the vocals, the album promises. 'Rest In Ruins' is the groovy melodic hard rock first single, and rocks.
Frontiers Music will release TED POLEY new solo album Beyond The Fade on May 13. The super melodic 'Higher' will delight fans of Danger Danger at his prime days. Awesome song.

We presented on the blog new band SHIRAZ LANE some time ago. Proof of their quality is the signing with Frontiers Music, with an album coming soon. Taste 'House Of Cards' here.
There's also another advance of the expected SOTO killer new CD, hard rockers HEADLESS, ex Journey STEVE AUGERI and the return of metal goddess LEE AARON.

01 - I.F.O.R. - We Still Rock
02 - Sunstorm - The Sound Of Goodbye
03 - Treat - Endangered
04 - Ted Poley - Higher
05 - July Reign - Rest In Ruins
06 - Headless - Good Luck Resized
07 - Steve Augeri - Home Again
08 - SOTO - Weight Of The World
09 - Shiraz Lane - House Of Cards
10 - Ragdoll - The World You Gave Us
11 - Wildness - Collide
12 - Lee Aaron - Tom Boy (single version)



HUMAN ZOO - My Own God (2016)

HUMAN  ZOO - My Own God (2016) full=

Almost five years has gone by since the Balingen based six piece HUMAN ZOO has delivered their latest CD, a quite long gap in between two albums if you want to keep a band in the spotlight. Anyway, these Germans never failed to deliver first class Melodic Hard Rock records and this applies in spades too for their fourth CD "My Own God" to be released in May, 2016 (already available only at AOR Heaven Records exclusively).

With incredible production sound and mixed by Chris Lausmann of Voices Of Rock fame, Human Zoo returns in full form with "My Own God".
They have already demonstrated throughout a 12-year career that are great musicians offering real hard rock with large doses of melody and with supreme class.

Few bands in the genre are able to offer forcefulness and elegance at the same time.
Besides the super-charged riffs and killer vocals, Human Zoo style is quite unique as they add saxophone lines to each and every composition, but this used in a thrilling way working many times as an 'extra' guitar providing a different timbre.

From straight forward hard rockers like the kicking opener 'One Direction' (akin Gotthard), the incredibly catchy melodic hard rocker 'Cry Baby Cry', to emotional ballads such as the superb "A Day To Remember", Human Zoo show their A Grade credentials.
If you need your AOR dose just check the great 'Wave Your Flag', for a stadium-ready anthem then 'Solitaire' will satisfy you aplenty.

HUMAN  ZOO - My Own God (2016) inside

Soaring vocals, sharp riffs, an oiled rhythm section and awesome choruses (some are to die for) are the motto of "My Own God", Human Zoo's best album to date and one of the best of the year for sure in the Melodic Hard Rock genre.
Super, Highly Recommended.

01. One Direction
02. Cry Baby Cry
03. Love Train
04. A Day To Remember
05. My Own Illusion
06. NSA
07. Like A Bitch
08. 4U
09. Solitaire
10. Wave Your Flag
11. Reminds Me Of You

Thomas"Seeler" Seeburger - Vocals
Ingolf Engler - Guitars
Ralf Grespan - Bass
Boris Matakovic - Saxophone
Zarko"Zare" Mestrovic - Keyboards
Kevin Klimesch - Drums

BUY IT (exclusively at AOR Heaven)


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