Tuesday, May 31, 2016

LOUDNESS - Hurricane Eyes (Japanese Version) [SHM-CD remastered LTD Release] Out Of Print

LOUDNESS - Hurricane Eyes (Japanese Version) [SHM-CD remastered LTD Release] Out Of Print - full

"Hurricane Eyes" was the seventh studio album by legendary Japanese metal band LOUDNESS, recorded in the US and released in 1987 worldwide with standard English lyrics. But a "Japanese Version" was subsequently released only in Japan later in the year with most of the lyrics in Japanese, featuring a different mix, song sequence and artwork.
For many, this "Hurricane Eyes Japanese Version" is far superior, and to be honest this remastered edition on SHM-CD sounds, indeed, awesome.

Produced by legend Eddie Kramer (Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Kiss) with a glossy, American-oriented sound, we have also some other remarkable names involved. The song "So Lonely", a reworked version of 'Ares Lament' from the album Disillusion of 1984, was produced by Andy Johns, another world famous studio guru.
And there's super-talented Gregg Giuffria providing all keyboards, plus former Giuffria David Glen Eisley and Tod Howarth (Frehley's Comet, 707, Ted Nugent) helping with backing / harmony vocals to make the choruses more 'American catchy'.

"Hurricane Eyes" presents a slicker, more 'Westernised' version of Loudness' sound. The progressive tendencies were out, powerful choruses were in, and the production was given a polish the likes of which Loudness' material had never known before.
However, while "Hurricane Eyes" was a great hard rock / metal album in its own right, it did not quite feel like a 'proper' Loudness album like 'Disillusion' or 'Devil Soldier'.
This was partially down to the lack of aforementioned progressive song structures, already largely stripped away on Loudness previous album, but fans realized, upon hearing this Japanese-language version, that it was the lack of Japanese lyrics that was truly crucial to the trademark Loudness sound.

LOUDNESS - Hurricane Eyes (Japanese Version) [SHM-CD remastered LTD Release] disc

This Japanese Version of "Hurricane Eyes" stands as one of the most powerful Loudness albums, and this is down to the combination of an absolutely cracking songwriting and a career-best performance from vocalist Minoru Niihara.
This man had already put on a strong performance on the original English version of this album, but hearing him belt out 'S.D.I.' and 'Strike Of The Sword' in his mother tongue instead of his charming-but-compromised English gives you goosebumps.

Musically, "Hurricane Eyes Japanese Version" is not significantly different to the original; the production / mix is supposedly slightly different, as are the arrangements, but I didn't really pick up on these. Maybe I am too busy being blown away by the new-and-improved vocals.
Song-wise, this is slick, powerful '80s metal / hard rock along the lines of Dio, Impellitteri, Accept, early Queensryche & Dokken and the like, with some Van Halen feel thanks to Akira Takasaki's hot guitar chops.

"Hurricane Eyes" it is more focused on catchiness and instant short songs than the Loudness of the past and is frequently criticized for being 'commercial'.
However, I'd like to urge such naysayers to listen to Crazy Nights, Let it Go, Geraldine and other older Loudness songs. This band has always had a commercial edge and at least one obviously radio-geared tune per album.
As example, here 'Rock 'n' Roll Gypsy' indeed rocks with a commercial hit potential to rival any US hard rock bands at the moment (1987).

Overall, the songs can easily be allocated to four categories: the mid-paced slick hard rockers ('Take Me Home'), the fast US metal song ('Strike of the Sword'), the ballad ('So Lonely') and the mentioned above commercial 'hit' ('Rock 'n' Roll Gypsy').
These songs are excellent in their own right, perfect examples of the aforementioned categories.

LOUDNESS - Hurricane Eyes (Japanese Version) [SHM-CD remastered LTD Release] Out Of Print - back

Personally, I rank "Hurricane Eyes Japanese Version" much higher than the original 'Westernised' version. The Japanese vocals improve this album immeasurably, as well as the more 'rocking' mix.
This remastered reissue on SHM-CD sounds terrific, unfortunately a Limited Release now out of print. You'll have to pay through the nose to get it, but believe me, it's worth it.
Highly Recommended

Warner Music Japan ~ WPCL-10698 【SHM-CD / LTD】

01 - Strike Of The Sword
02 - So Lonely
03 - This Lonely Heart
04 - Hungry Hunter
05 - In This World Beyond
06 - Take Me Home
07 - Rock 'n Roll Gypsy
08 - In My Dreams
09 - Rock This Way
10 - S.D.I.

Vocals – Minoru Niihara
Guitar – Akira Takasaki
Bass – Masayoshi Yamashita
Drums – Munetaka Higuchi
Keyboards – Gregg Giuffria
Backing Vocals – David Glen Eisley, Steve Johnsted, Tod Howarth
Produced by Eddie Kramer & Andy Johns (track 2)



ALCHEMY - Never Too Late (2016)

ALCHEMY - Never Too Late (2016) full

ALCHEMY is a promising band from Brescia, Italy, whom have been honing their craft for several years now, almost ten, playing all over central Europe and releasing two indie EP. Now signed by Street Symphonies Records, Alchemy are presenting today, May 31, their international full length debut "Never Too Late".

According to the band, “We may say that "Never Too Late" is a dynamic hard rock album with AOR and progressive influences, heavily based on a solid rhythm section, catchy guitar riffs and powerful vocals, all glued together by orchestral strings and synths” - says singer Marcello Spera.
“To us, “Never Too Late” is an album which tells you a story. The story of our past, of songs that were conceived almost a decade ago and were never born until now, of how we met. It is the proof to ourselves that we must never give up on our dreams, because it is never too late to get them real”.

Hence the album title "Never Too Late". But all the time waiting for a full length release benefited the material on offer here, as all feel polished and with attention to detail.
Indeed, as Alchemy affirm in their press release, their musical style is based on classic hard rock with a strong melodic hard rock bounce, plus some edge at places and all influenced straight out of early to mid Eighties.
Then with a twist or two; with a song like Alcohol Symphony, there's a bit of the sleazy hard factor. With 'Blessed Path', the addition of progressive texture to a soaring anthem.

ALCHEMY - Never Too Late (2016) inside

After these things, Alchemy is characterized by strong riffs, roaring solos, a rhythm section which allows the bass line to rise, and clean melodic vocals.
Also, Alchemy is skilled at putting their arrangements in an AOR wrapper thanks to the combination of groove, melody and catchy refrains.
Fundamentally then, for fans of classic melodic hard rock and edgy hard rock, I think you'll find Alchemy and "Never Too Late" to be a strong effort, an enjoyable listen, and the promise of even more to come.
Very Recommended.

01. The Place Men Call Hell
02. Diablo
03. Alcohol Symphony
04. Never Too Late
05. Blessed Path
06. End of the Line
07. Rise Again
08. Get Out
09. My Way Home

Marcello Spera - Vocals
Cristiano Stefana - Guitar
Andrew Trabelsi - Keyboards
Matteo Castelli - Bass
Luca Cortesi - Drums



Monday, May 30, 2016

WITHEM - The Unforgiving Road [Japanese Edition] (2016)

WITHEM - Unforgiving Road [Japanese Edition] (2016) full

To be released by Frontiers Music next June 3, "The Unforgiving Road" is the debut with the prestigious label by WITHEM, the melodic progressive metal act from Norway. The album just appeared in Japan with the usual bonus track.

Withem is an upcoming band hailing from Norway concentrating heavily on melodic, memorable hooks, but still with plenty of stunning and virtuoso instrumental sections.
The band debuted with in 2013 with their first album gathering excellent reviews from several music websites, blogs and magazines from all over the world. The release was followed by European touring with Pagan's Mind, Circus Maximus and Seventh Wonder, and performances at both ProgPower USA and ProgPower Oslo, always with an extremely positive reception.

Not the typical musical style released by Frontiers Music, however I can see - or hear - why Withem was signed by the label.
"The Unforgiving Road" is extremely melodic, and their blend of progressive metal is easy to the ears, where the songs avoid the cliches and pitfalls of overly dramatic instrumental sections and sheer senseless complexity and instead center on creative interplay between the musicians, while the unique vocal range of Ole Aleksander Wagenius gives the band a distinctive touch.

Withem doesn't try to trick you or impress with massive amounts tempo and time signature shift that destroy any substance of melody. No. Both melody and hard rock groove are abundant here, along with catchy hooks in melody and refrains.
In this sense, they want to both challenge you, keep you intrigued as it were, but also keep things accessible. When they do that, Withem is at their best.
Notable for this are 'Riven', the atmospheric 'C'est la Vie', and the engaging melodic pop hooks of 'The Eye In The Sky' (superb vocals), which moves by quick-paced rock groove.

Perhaps the more commercial number, and a favorite as well, is the bouncy, melodic rock themed 'In My Will'.
For something a bit more on the pure prog metal side, a song such as 'In The Hands Of God' has lots of twists, while 'Exit' and 'Arrhythmia' are snarling and quite heavy numbers but always melodic.
The band combine all these styles on the dramatic and emotional closer 'Unaffected Love', once again, another great vehicle for Ole to show off his superior vocal chops.
The entire album is bookended with an Intro and Outro flavored with some melancholy, excellent keyboards.

WITHEM - Unforgiving Road [Japanese Edition] (2016) back

Withem blend progressive metal grip with high dosage of hard rock, melodic groove, some kind of the best of both world to appeal all audiences.
Packed with really good, catchy songs and a quite bombastic production, "The Unforgiving Road" is a marvelously effective rocking album. Hey, creativity combined with musical accessibility is a good thing, highly enjoyable for sure.
Vocalist Ole Aleksander Wagenius is a revelation. This guy is without a doubt the real deal, as are the rest of Withem, a progressive metal band that the world will surely be taking a closer look at with the release of this sizzling gem of an album.
Highly Recommended.

01. ...Intro
02. Exit
03. In The Hands Of A God
04. The Pain I Collected
05. Riven
06. C'est La Vie
07. The Eye In The Sky
08. Arrhythmia
09. In My Will
10. Unaffected Love
11. Outro...
12. Mr. Miruz (Japanese Bonus Track)

Ole Aleksander Wagenius - Vocals
Oyvind Voldmo Larsen - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Miguel Pereira - Bass
Frank Nordeng Roe - Drums
Espen Storo, Neemias Teixeira - Keyboards



BALANCE - In For The Count [Rock Candy Remastered +2]

BALANCE - In For The Count [Rock Candy Remastered +2] full

An essential band in any Melodic Rock / AOR collection are without a doubt Americans BALANCE. Both their '80s albums were officially released on CD & remastered by Rock Candy Records and are must haves for sure.
"In For The Count" was Balance's second effort, which despite originally appeared in 1982 defined the sound & style for the genre in years to come.

After the moderated success of their self titled debut, Balance hardened their sound for the second effort according to the trend of the scene with bands like Journey raising as future superstars.
Balance's core members Peppy Castro (lead and backing vocals), Bob Kulick (guitars) and Doug Katsaros (keyboards, backing vocals) added to the lineup future Rainbow drummer Chuck Burgi and ex Speedway Boulevard bassist Dennis Feldman as stable band members, resulting in a more powerful unit.
Seeing this line up now, almost thirty five years later, it's a dream-team of AOR talent that made an album every bit as good as expected.

BALANCE - In For The Count [Rock Candy Remastered +2] booklet

With stronger, biting guitars courtesy of Bob Kulick, awesome keyboard/synth runs, and terrific vocals by Castro (a cross between Franke Previte of Franke & The Knockouts and Loverboy's Mike Reno), "In For The Count" is pure AOR magic.
The title track, 'All The Way', the killer 'Slow Motion', 'Is It Over', 'We Can Have It All', 'Undercover Man', in fact, the entire tracklist are pure delight for true fans of the genre.

Even the artwork of "In For The Count" is awesome. With a pristine remastering this Rock Candy 'Remastered & Reloaded' reissue is a must have.
Includes the two impossible to find B-sides 'Ride The Wave' and 'She's Alone Tonight' (both great) plus a 4,000 word essay about the making of the album, rare photos and memorabilia spread out over a wonderful full colour booklet.

BALANCE - In For The Count [Rock Candy Remastered +2] back

Balance's "In For The Count" is a mandatory record for any self-respecting AOR fan.

01 - In For The Count
02 - Is It Over
03 - Slow Motion
04 - Undercover Man
05 - On My Honor
06 - All The Way
07 - Pull The Plug
08 - Bedroom Eyes
09 - We Can Have It All
10 - Ride The Wave
11 - She's Alone Tonight

Peppy Castro: Lead and Backing Vocals
Bob Kulick: Guitars
Doug Katsaros: Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Dennis Feldman: Bass
Chuck Burgi: Drums



BALANCE - Balance [Rock Candy Remastered & Reloaded]

BALANCE - Balance [Rock Candy Remastered & Reloaded] full

An essential band in any Melodic Rock / AOR collection are without a doubt Americans BALANCE. Both their '80s albums were officially released on CD & remastered by Rock Candy Records and are must haves for sure.

Born in the US East Coast at the beginning of the Eighties, Balance were a mini super-group of sorts. Pride of place was taken by vocalist Peppy Castro a man whose CV boasted commercially successful stints with several acts from different genres.
Guitarist Bob Kulick had built a solid reputation as a super-session player contributing to diametrically opposed talent as Diana Ross and Kiss. Third man on board was yet another session wunderkind; that’s keyboard wizard Doug Katsaros.

Enlisting the help of NYC powerhouse managers Leber/Krebs and signing to the impressive Portrait label (a division of Columbia Records), Balance looked set to bulldoze their way into the hearts and minds of music fans coast to coast.

BALANCE - Balance [Rock Candy Remastered & Reloaded] booklet

Indeed, for a few exciting weeks the project looked set to explode when the track "Breaking Away" caught fire at radio, reaching the dizzy heights of #22 on the US chart.
Sadly, however, the momentum quickly dissolved leaving the band unable to capitalize on their good fortune.

Compared, at the time, to similar sounding acts such as Toto, Styx, Journey and Foreigner, this self-titled debut album originally released in 1981, contained a stunning array of top notch AOR with vocals and arrangements to die for.
A finer combination of melody and catchy choruses with the unique FM Radio sound that ruled the era and become a staple for early '80s AOR: lots of heavenly keyboards, powerful choruses and rich vocal harmonies.

Songs like "Breaking Away" (with a Pomp dosage on it), the delicious "Looking For The Magic", the catchy "Haunting" and "Fly Through The Night" and the sophisticated ballad "Falling In Love" are sure fire winners.

BALANCE - Balance [Rock Candy Remastered & Reloaded] back

"Balance" is one of the finest early '80s AOR / Melodic Rock records from the American scene, wonderfully remastered by Rock Candy Records from original source tapes, including a complete full colour booklet with 4,000 word essay about the making of the album and a new interview and full involvement from the band.
A Gem.

01 - (Looking For The) Magic
02 - I'm Through Loving You
03 - Breaking Away
04 - No Getting Around My Love
05 - Fly Through The Night
06 - American Dream
07 - Haunting
08 - Falling In Love
09 - Hot Summer Nights
10 - It's So Strange

Peppy Castro: Lead and Backing Vocals
Bob Kulick: Guitars
Doug Katsaros: Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Andy Newmark: Drums, Percussion
Willie Weeks, John Siegler: Bass



THE SENTON BOMBS - Mass Vendetta (2016)

THE SENTON BOMBS - Mass Vendetta (2016)

"Mass Vendetta" is the fourth album by British rockers THE SENTON BOMBS, and they have been plugging away for the past decade. I have not heard any of their previous records but based on this one I will soon remedy that oversight.

First track ‘Trailblazer’ gives a fair assessment of what the band are all about – intense rock ‘n’ roll riffs, tight ass rhythm and the vocals of Joey Class who sounds like a US singer, yet the band hail from Blackpool.
This and the lead off track, ‘Mainstream’ straight away grabs you with a catchy left hook, it’s got it all, starts off hard hitting, has a more gentle beat half way through, melodic choruses, then speeds up again.
A lot of press coverage mentions early Guns N’ Roses as influence, which you can hear at times, often in the Slash-approved solos.

Indeed, The Senton Bombs sound so American that barely you feel their British roots. Take ‘Out West’, a mid paced number, as example. All over this you’d think you were listening to Tesla.
Yet the title track has a fast, almost hard rock / punkish beat and is like the Backyard Babies crossed with Michael Monroe on speed.

'13 Days' follows in the same fast groove and loving that bass line, perhaps the most modern song on the album which has a similar vibe to Knock Out Kaine blended, again, with some G N'R or LA Guns.
As you see, The Senton Bombs are really varied in their songwriting, as heard on 'Train Wreck', think something like Golden Earring’s classic Radar Love meets Deep Purple’s Highway Star. The riffs really do sound like the chug of a train.
The closing track 'Apex' has a Sabbath-like riff (yet updated in sound) showing the band take many musical influences, mix them up and create a sound that it is their own, yet has familiarity to draw in fans of the aforementioned bands.

THE SENTON BOMBS - Mass Vendetta (2016) inside

The Senton Bombs are, indeed, masters of versatility with a "Mass Vendetta" against being pigeon-holed into any one genre.
These guys have the songs and the musical variety to get them noticed more. Good time hard rock is in safe hands and if their live show is half as good as this album, they won’t remain a musical secret for long.
Rocks really good.

01 - Traiblazer
02 - Mainstream
03 - Train Wreck
04 - Out West
05 - Mass Vendetta
06 - 13 Days
07 - Avalanche
08 - Pretty Tricky
09 - Wedlock Horns
10 - Red Shield
11 - Apex

Joey Class - Vocals, Bass
Damien Kage - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Johnny Gibbons - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Scott Mason - Drums



Sunday, May 29, 2016

Mr. BIG - Hey Man [Japanese Remastered SHM-CD LTD Release +4] Out Of Print

Mr. BIG - Hey Man [Japanese Remastered SHM-CD LTD Release +4] Out Of Print full

Many asked to complete the MR. BIG four first albums Japanese campaign from some years ago, Remastered on SHM-CD and with bonus tracks, now out of print. "Hey Man" was Mr. Big's fourth album, considered by some the 'black sheep' in their discography, but it's a really good record in its own right.

Released in 1996, perhaps the title of one song included here, "Where Do I Fit In?" paint Mr. Big's place in the US American rock at the moment.
With the grunge dominating the charts, Mr. Big were in a situation to impose their brand of melodic hard rock melodies into an audience flooded with plain, uninspired sad songs.

For "Hey Man", Mr. Big turned darker, with songs based in rocking chord progressions than their original technical stuff, but still with the melody as center role filled with excellent vocals and lyrics.

Mr. BIG - Hey Man [Japanese Remastered SHM-CD LTD Release +4] Out Of Print disc

There's more acoustics into the mix, and not exactly in a ballad mode. It's a more 'classic rock' record if you want. Bluesy, rootsy guitars, rockers but also alot of slow tunes.
This benefited Eric Martin vocals presence, which are the star on "Hey Man".

Songs like the soulful 'If That's What It Takes', the melodic gem 'Goin' Where The Wind Blows' or the atmospheric 'The Chain' are mixed with dynamic rockers like 'Jane Doe', the almost funky 'Where Do I Fit In?', the dark 'Out Of The Underground', the classic rocker 'Mama D.' and of course, the ultra-catchy 'Take Cover'.

Mr. BIG - Hey Man [Japanese Remastered SHM-CD LTD Release +4] Out Of Print back

"Hey Man' obviously reflects a band in transition, which ended with guitarist Paul Gilbert out, replaced by Richie Kotzen. Still is a great, solid record which brought new listeners to the Mr. Big camp, those eager for more mature, earthy compositions, playing and sound.
This Japanese remaster by Isao Kikuchi seems to have rescued some layers of guitar harmonics, turning the listening experience even more enjoyable, plus 4 bonus tracks (check 'I Love You Japan', a must for Paul Gilbert fans).
Highly Recommended.

Warner Music Japan ~ WPCR-13465

01 - Trapped In Toyland
02 - Take Cover
03 - Jane Doe
04 - Goin' Where The Wind Blows
05 - The Chain
06 - Where Do I Fit In?
07 - If That's What It Takes
08 - Out Of The Underground
09 - Dancin' Right Into The Flame
10 - Mama D.
11 - Fool Us Today
12 - Tears (Original Japanese Bonus track)
SHM-CD bonus tracks:
13 - Take Cover (Demo)
14 - I Love You Japan (Demo)
15 - Swingin' Jam

Eric Martin – lead vocals
Paul Gilbert – guitar
Billy Sheehan – bass guitar
Pat Torpey – drums



Saturday, May 28, 2016

THRILLS - 3 [Digitally Remastered] (2016)

THRILLS - 3 [Digitally Remastered] (2016) full

A classy AOR gem that truly deserved a proper remaster was this third album by Americans THRILLS. Digitally Remastered for the first time, Thrills "3" is a must have in your collection.

Originally from Pittsburgh, but established in Long Island, New York, Thrills was founded in the Seventies, rocking the area and releasing two great Pomp AOR albums.
Both have since become collectors items, but not as much as this album, which got shuffled into the safe under lock and key, as the band was dropped by the label and remained unreleased.
Recorded in 1983, Thrills "3" finally appeared in 2000 via a nice reissue but not remastered.

Now, many years later, the real AOR diamond Thrills "3" is finally ready to go in all its glory.
Don't be fooled by the cover artwork, the music packed inside is pure first half of the '80s American AOR plenty of polished catchy choruses, hooks galore and tons of pompy keyboards.
From the opening keyboard riff of 'Running Away', the listener is treated to all sorts of awesome melodies with rich vocal harmonies everywhere.

The music is a terrific mixture of classic AOR acts from the era such as Preview, Spys, Avalon, Charlie, Dakota, Roadmaster, etc.
We have an impressive keyboard work in the vein of Mark Mangold (Touch), while Tony Monaco's melodic vocals are pure bliss.

I'd point out highlights, but in fact the entire album is one long highlight reel.
All are extremely polished, and the choruses are just towering.
True AOR fans everywhere should grab this missing piece of AOR history immediately, A MUST HAVE in your collection.

01 - Running Away
02 - The Feeling's Gone
03 - Best of Everything
04 - Let Me Love You
05 - You'll Be Back
06 - Too Many First Times
07 - Falling Out of Love
08 - Give it A Chance
09 - Make it Easy
10 - It's Too Late

Tony Monaco; lead and backing vocals, keyboards
Dave Fullerton: guitars, backing vocals
Bill Gilbert: bass, backing vocals
Linda Mackley: drums, backing vocals



Mr. BIG - Bump Ahead [Japanese Remastered SHM-CD LTD Release +3] Out Of Print

Mr. BIG - Bump Ahead [Japanese Remastered SHM-CD LTD Release +3] Out Of Print full

Many asked to complete the MR. BIG four first albums Japanese campaign from some years ago, Remastered on SHM-CD and with bonus tracks, now out of print. "Bump Ahead", Mr. Big's third effort, is, in my book, their masterpiece.

After the success of the previous album and its world-wide hit To Be With You, it would be easy for Mr. Big to follow a formula. They did it half part, but also giving room for their incredible musicianship and expansice songwriting.
Where album number 2 Lean Into It perfected the sound the band started on their first album, "Bump Ahead" adds to it, musically, more progression.
The sounds are beefier and fatter, with Billy Sheehan's bass playing taking more of a dominant role - a welcomed thing when we are talking about the greatest rock bassist on the scene.
"Bump Ahead" blends like few Melodic Hard Rock albums heavy kick-ass hard rockers with commercial, glossy AOR numbers plenty of melody.

Mr. BIG - Bump Ahead [Japanese Remastered SHM-CD LTD Release +3] Out Of Print disc

It has a lot of awesome, catchy songs, and it also has some of the most super technical, coordinated parts in rock and metal music history.
The best example of great musicality, catchy lyrics through clean vocals and an unreachable level of technique and coordination without losing style or sound, is the album opener, "Colorado Bulldog". Catchy, with a prominent bass line and a monster guitar work, this song kick some serious ass.
Nearly as impressive is the next, the uptempo, melodic scorcher "Price You Gotta Pay".

However are the velvety AOR cuts like "Promise Her The Moon" (one of the greatest ballads ever), the perfect melody of "Nothing But Love", the pearl "Ain't Seen Love Like That" and the cover "Wild World" that'll, after repeated plays, have you humming.
Then there's the songs where Mr. Big explore new territories on this album mixing the best of both worlds; the attitude-laced "What's It Gonna Be", the 'progressive' "Mr. Gone" (fantastic melody) or the groovy 'Temperamental'.
Oh and there's the hidden diamond on this CD, the cover of Free's "Mr Big", the song which gives the band's name. I love this track, the way it is arranged and performed, that bass groove and guitar riff shuffle... killer.

Mr. BIG - Bump Ahead [Japanese Remastered SHM-CD LTD Release +3] Out Of Print back

It's nice when a band isn't afraid to move forward. It's nice, too, when that forward motion leaves the fans pleased. And this is what "Bump Ahead" resumes.
I said in the previous Lean Into It review 'it's a classic, an almost perfect melodic hard rock album... ", well, "Bump Ahead" completes the circle, it is a perfect melodic hard rock album.
This Japanese remaster is pure gold delivering a full bright sound, plus three bonus tracks. Btw, did I mentioned that Mr. Big albums have some of the best cover artworks ever?
A Must Have.

Warner Music Japan ~ WPCR-13464

01 - Colorado Bulldog
02 - Price You Gotta Pay
03 - Promise Her The Moon
04 - What's It Gonna Be
05 - Wild World
06 - Mr. Gone
07 - The Whole World's Gonna Know
08 - Nothing But Love
09 - Temperamental
10 - Ain't Seen Love Like That
11 - Mr. Big
12 - Long Way Down (Original Japanese Bonus track)
SHM-CD Bonus Tracks:
13 - Ain't Seen Love Like That (Early version)
14 - Mr. Big (Demo)

Eric Martin – lead vocals
Paul Gilbert – guitar, backing vocals
Billy Sheehan – bass guitar, backing vocals
Pat Torpey – drums, backing vocals
Little John Chrisley - harmonica on "Price You Gotta Pay"



Mr. BIG - Mr. Big [Japanese Remaster SHM-CD +3] [Limited Release]

Mr. BIG - Mr. Big [Japanese Remaster SHM-CD +3] [Limited Release] full

Many asked to complete the MR. BIG four first albums Japanese campaign from some years ago, Remastered on SHM-CD and with bonus tracks. Let's go with their tremendous debut, the self-titled "Mr. Big".

It was all the rage at the time. It was what made Winger into a hit-producing machine. It was simple: take a couple of total shredmaster ultra wizards on guitar and bass, slap an obscure drummer behind them, and put a proficient yet largely unknown guy up front on mic and leather pants duty.

But instead of launching through a Yngwie-like solo-fest that shows us all that you can hit every note on the fretboard four times a measure, take a big step back and write some laid-back numbers with a little feeling, and some good catchy melody.
Put in a couple of good solos, have at least two or three ballads for the couples, but make it cool enough so that the Steve Vai types who are into total minor mode domination on the six-(or seven) string will still pick up a copy.
Not only did this work well for Winger, but it was pretty much the formula of the Hagar-era Van Halen, too.

Mr. Big followed this formula after ex-Talas bassist Billy Sheehan finished his duties with David Lee Roth. Sheehan then called the Eddie Van Halen of the bass, hooked up with Paul Gilbert, who started touring with bands when he was only 15, then went to GIT in California. His band Racer X put out a couple of albums on Shrapnel records with a very high “whoa” factor, and he appeared in about every third page of Guitar Player magazine for most of the mid-eighties.
Their four-piece was rounded out by Pat Torpey on drums and a singer which achieved some success as solo artist, but mostly in Japan: vocalist Eric Martin.

Mr. BIG - Mr. Big [Japanese Remaster SHM-CD +3] [Limited Release] booklet

Produced with a pristine sound, the eleven-track self-titled debut from Mr. Big delivers a terrific mix of proficiency and playability that demonstrates that you don’t need to blast through with super-fast drum beats and constant soloing to make songs work.
That said, there are some faster numbers here. The opening song “Addicted to That Rush” starts with Sheehan’s bass burbling at high speed like a nest of bumblebees before Gilbert jumps in and they duel lines a bit until the drums crash in and the song starts. The two work well in their ability to play together; there are parts where they are so synchronized, it sounds like one huge chord reaching from low registers to high, instead of two people playing their own lines.

Overall, each of the songs has its own groove, and they alternate between taking things easy (“Big Love”) and slightly rockier bits (“Rock & Roll”, “Merciless”). There’s one zippier song that’s my favorite on that end, “How Can You Do What You Do”, which almost seems like it was written as the “video” song, and I could see Eric Martin on a stage with no audience, wearing his leather pants and a bandana or two, singing into a large industrial fan.
Then there's sweet Martin trademark ballad “Anything for You”, and the a Sheehan-penned piece called “Had Enough”, also a slow tune but not exactly a ballad. It starts with just bass, and then adds in some very casual guitar before building up on the drums and going into the song full-steam. It’s a breakup song, very touching little song.

Mr. BIG - Mr. Big [Japanese Remaster SHM-CD +3] [Limited Release] back

This excellent Japanese remastering and reissue on SHM-CD includes the original bonus track "30 Days in the Hole" (a Steve Marriott cover) plus "Merciless" and "How Can You Do What You Do", two songs that never made it into the final tracklist but deserved it.
More 'edgy' than the material to come in next albums, "Mr. Big" still sound fresh today, even more on this SHM-CD remaster.
A Must Have

Warner Music Japan ~ WPCR-13462

01 - Addicted To That Rush
02 - Wind Me Up
03 - Merciless
04 - Had Enough
05 - Blame It On My Youth
06 - Take A Walk
07 - Big Love
08 - How Can You Do What You Do
09 - Anything For You
10 - Rock & Roll Over
11 - 30 Days In The Hole (original Japanese Bonus track)
SHM-CD Bonus Tracks:
12 - Merciless (Demo)
13 - How Can You Do What You Do (Demo)

Eric Martin – lead vocals
Paul Gilbert – guitar
Billy Sheehan – bass guitar
Pat Torpey – drums




THE ALAN PARSONS SYMPHONIC PROJECT - Live in Colombia (2016)  full

To the great delight of Alan Parsons' fans, for the first time on an audio recording, THE ALAN PARSONS SYMPHONIC PROJECT combines the talents of his amazing band with the lush sound of a symphony orchestra, creating a very special show with unmatched quality.
On the evening of August 31st, 2013, a large crowd gathered at Parque Pies Descalzos in Medellin, Colombia. When Alan Parsons appeared on stage, along with the Medellin Philharmonic Orchestra and his band, the audience went crazy.
"Live in Colombia" is the audio document of that incredible evening.

Alan Parsons, the mastermind and solo survivor since the heydays, started out as assistant engineer to George Martin at Abbey Road studios and was heavily involved towards the end of the Beatles' success story. Not to mention a certain 'Dark Side of The Moon' and Pink Floyd, prior to setting up his very own project in 1975.
The Alan Parsons Project debut, Tales of Mystery and Imagination (1975), was based upon Poe's horror stories and merely "The Raven" has managed to spread his wings and fly across the sky to touch base in Colombia.

It's quite the experience to hear tracks such as "Breakdown" (from the 1977 classic, I Robot) or "The Raven" for that matter with the full 70-piece orchestra and massive choir.
The five complex and intriguing parts of "The Turn of a Friendly Card", including 'Snake Eyes, The Ace Of Swords, Nothing Left To Lose', are also exceptional as the band sounds great and the same goes for lead singer PJ Olsson.
Of course, the rock&pop hits "Don't Answer Me" and "Damned If I Do" are also included with refreshed arrangements.

THE ALAN PARSONS SYMPHONIC PROJECT - Live in Colombia (2016) back

While lyrically there's no real contest to the Raven, it opens up with the future world of "I Robot" and ends in a more up-to-date sound of "Games People Play".
The youngest track on display (La Sagrada Familia -1987) benefit from the orchestra, while the rest are all from the classic era of 1976 to 1983. It's something different from the usual live effort.
Great performance.

01. I Robot
02. Damned If I Do
03. Don’t Answer Me
04. Breakdown
05. The Raven
06. Time
07. I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You
08. La Sagrada Familia
09. The Turn of a Friendly Card (Part One)
10. Snake Eyes
11. The Ace of Swords
12. Nothing Left to Lose
13. The Turn of a Friendly Card (Part Two)

01. What Goes Up…
02. Luciferama
03. Silence and I
04. Prime Time
05. Sirius
06. Eye in the Sky
07. Old and Wise
08. Games People Play

Alan Parsons (acoustic guitar, keys, vocals)
P.J. Olsson (lead vocals)
Alastair Greene (guitar, vocals)
Guy Erez (bass, vocals)
Danny Thompson (drums, vocals)
Tom Brooks (keyboards, vocals)
Todd Cooper (saxophone, guitar, percussion, vocals)
The Medellin Philharmonic Orchestra



Friday, May 27, 2016

V.A. - 0dayrox Advanced Releases June 2016

V.A. - 0dayrox Advanced Releases June 2016 full

June 2016 upcoming releases... sneak peek.
Canadian singer Harry Hess (Harem Scarem) is ready to release via Frontiers Music another installment of his FIRST SIGNAL project. We already presented here the lead single, but now two tracks more have surfaced.
Another Melodic Rock gem hits the market and an absolute contender for the AOR album of the year!

Also on Frontiers Music the brand new record “Fight Another Day” marks the anticipated return of one of the most infectious and gifted bands to come out in the Melodic Rock World in the second part of the 80’s: DAN REED NETWORK. The two new tracks presented are awesome.
On the same label but in July we will see the return of cult American hard rockers Q5, and the fun international combo TRICK OR TREAT. We have both advances here.

Canadian Melodic Rock legends LOVERBOY are back with a new song, the catchy "Hurtin'" and announce a 2016 Summer Tour. Co-written by guitarist Paul Dean, who worked off of music created by Mick Mahan — Pat Benatar‘s bassist — , the original intention was to create something that could be used as the theme song for a telecast of a football game.
“I took what they gave - say singer Mike Reno, changed it up a bit, and came up with a melody and a couple of hooks,”
Dean said: “The idea was to create an anthem for the home crowd to sing about putting a ‘hurtin’ on the other team.”

Finnish hard rock act SANTA CRUZ reformed with new personnel and released the new single 'Skydiving Without a Parachute', a much more commercial melodic hard rock tune than anything they have created before. Terrific single. The opening for Sebastian Bach this spring / summer.

Awesome former Black Sabbath frontman Tony Martin makes a guest appearance on 'So Much More', the new single from VIOLET JANINE, the project led by Swedish singer Janine Nyman. The song is one of nine tracks that will appear on VIOLET JANINE's debut album due later in the year.
Someone needs to give Tony Martin a recording contract for a solo album, the man rocks!

Swedish Melodic Rock / AOR favorites ROULETTE have just released the lovely single 'Right By Your Side', while the band continues recording the songs for their long awaited upcoming new album.
RICHARD MARX has just released a new single called 'Last Thing I Wanted', as well as great Norwegian singer JAN Le'BRANDT (already presented here on the blog), both very good tunes.

Swedish / Canadian combo KILLER BEE have a new single, 'Higher And Higher', as usual a great tune from a vastly underrated band. Also we have 'Angel In The Ashes', the first song from PROJECT AEGIS, featuring the likes of Rob Rock (Impellitteri) and Matt Smith (Theocracy) among others, a very melodic song yet plenty of power.

01 - First Signal - Love Runs Free
02 - First Signal - Minute Of Your Time
03 - Loverboy - Hurtin'
04 - Roulette - Right By Your Side
05 - Dan Reed Network - Infected
06 - Dan Reed Network - Champion
07 - Q5 - The Right Way
08 - Trick Or Treat - United
09 - Santa Cruz - Skydiving Without A Parachute
10 - Violet Janine & Tony Martin - So Much More
11 - Richard Marx - Last Thing I Wanted
12 - Jan Le'Brandt - Lifeline
13 - Killer Bee - Higher And Higher
14 - Project Aegis - Angel In The Ashes

Only at 0dayrox


SHOTGUN REVOLUTION - All This Could Be Yours (2016)

SHOTGUN REVOLUTION - All This Could Be Yours (2016) full

Presented here two years ago when their label launched them internationally, now Danes SHOTGUN REVOLUTION are releasing today, May 27, the band's new CD "All This Could Be Yours".
Shotgun Revolution is very popular in Denmark and while the band already toured Europe, USA and atypical places like China, this new album should be the vehicle to make them known world-wide.

Shotgun Revolution delivers a clean, polished melodic hard rock style reminiscent of '80s American acts yet with a typical European vibe. With the help from famous Danish producer Flemming Rasmussen (Pretty Maids, Metallica) to shape their sound into a modern product, the new songs are even more catchy than never before.
While the songs are simple, short and to the point, Shotgun Revolution's performance is pretty fierce. The aim, as always, is to create an addictive bunch of tunes packed with huge anthem-like choruses and colossal guitars.
As said, all is extremely polished, but with a punchy delivery.

At the beginning of the recording sessions, rhythm guitarist Henrik Berger left Shotgun Revolution, so a long time friend of the band was called as session replacement: Rene Shades from Pretty Maids.
The band started the CD with the two heaviest tracks in a row: the groovy 'Don't Stop That Grind' and the kicking 'Rise To Power', the latter plenty of aggressive riffs.
The trademark catchiness of Shotgun Revolution apppears next in title track 'All This Could Be Yours', a radio-friendly tune akin Bon Jovi. Ditlev Ulriksen's pristine vocals reminds me Steve Lee (Gotthard) and some Swedish singers from the new generation.
'Refugee' adds some kind of a bluesy touch to its midtempo rhythm, 'City Of Fire' is a song written with the US market in mind but this is not necessary a band thing as the tune rocks, then 'Dissolve' rocks in a three-minute package.

The broken riff of 'Gods Damned Poetry' delivers something different but there's an instant contagious chorus, then a song with a title 'S.O.B.' only could be rocking and angry (and pretty good too).
'Suzie' is the most commercial track on the album mixed with acoustic guitars for the first time, a lovely melodic rocker with a great chorus.
The relaxed 'River Of Dreams' close the album in great form. It's not a ballad, but a midtempo in the vein Firehouse used to do with clean guitars and stripped vocals. Another highlight.

SHOTGUN REVOLUTION - All This Could Be Yours (2016) inside

Shotgun Revolution should be already better known as their quality surpass many 'established' bands.
Hope this "All This Could Be Yours" expose even more their brand of catchy melodic hard rock with a modern sound. I can see Shotgun Revolution opening for the likes of Bon Jovi with huge success.
If polished yet compact melodic hard rock is your thing, don't miss Shotgun Revolution's new album. This is a truly impressive collection of well written songs performed with extreme attention to detail and packed with catchy choruses & soaring melodies galore. Production is first class; crisp, clear.
Strongly Recommended.

01 - Don't Stop That Grind
02 - Rise To Power
03 - All This Could Be Yours
04 - Refugee
05 - City Of Fire
06 - Dissolve
07 - Gods Damned Poetry
08 - S.O.B.
09 - Suzie
10 - River Of Dreams

Ditlev Ulriksen - vocals
Martin Frank - guitars
Michael Venneberg - bass
Kasper Lund - drums
Rene Shades (Pretty Maids) - guest guitars



Thursday, May 26, 2016

HEADLESS (Goran Edman) - Melt The Ice Away (2016)

HEADLESS (Goran Edman) - Melt The Ice Away (2016) full

Italians HEADLESS are not strangers to this blog as we presented some time ago their last, solid album with the mighty Goran Edman as vocalist. Again with Edman at the mic, the band is set to release their brand new opus "Melt The Ice Away" next month.

If you are new to Headless, the band fuses traditional European melodic hard rock with some progressive elements driven by the solvent twin guitar work of Cianciusi and Parente, and where Goran Edman's vocals feel like a fish in the water.
The first thing that impress is the terrific, huge production. Then, the pretty darn good songs.
After the strong hard rocking opener 'So Much of a Bore', we have the first highlight 'Good Luck Resized', a terrific melodic hard rocker driven by a killer guitar riff and catchy verses where Goran shines. Great guitar work all over.

All the remaining tracks maintain the level of quality... and intensity.
Title track 'Melt the Ice Away' is a bluesy based midtempo rocker with tons of melody and a more than interesting progressive touch in a melodic vein.
"Frame" could pass as a ballad, but it's more juicy than that with a really interesting arrangement and a nice Jim Matheos contribution on guitar.

"Shortage" rocks with groove and at some point reminds me Nineties Van Halen, "A Senseless Roaring Machine" has some Queensryche on it (awesome passages), 'Stillness of the Heart' is a straight-forward hard rocker with crunchy guitars, then 'Gather Knowledge, Gather Wisdom' provides more variation with its stinging riff.
Closer 'When Dreams and Past Collapse' is one of the most commercial cuts, almost melodic hard bringing to mind Edman's past work with Brazen Abbot.

HEADLESS (Goran Edman) - Melt The Ice Away (2016) inside

Bigger, fuller than the alreary good previous Headless album, "Melt The Ice Away" rocks plenty of groove and melody via really well constructed tracks. The guitars are huge, the drum sound is excellent, and Goran Edman is the ice of the cake in yet another stellar performance.
A strong melodic hard rock record with a touch of progressive to provide variation, "Melt The Ice Away" is a highly recommended piece by this blog.

01 - So Much of a Bore
02 - Good Luck Resized
03 - Melt the Ice Away
04 - Frame
05 - Shortage
06 - A Senseless Roaring Machine
07 - Stillness of the Heart
08 - Gather Knowledge, Gather Wisdom
09 - When Dreams and Past Collapse

Göran Edman - Vocals
Walter Cianciusi - Guitars
Dario Parente - Guitars
Enrico Cianciusi - Drums
Domenico Di Girolamo - Bass
Jim Matheos (Fates Warning) - Guitar solo on 4



FROST* - Falling Satellites [Deluxe Edition +2] (2016)

FROST* - Falling Satellites [Deluxe Edition +2] (2016) full

No matter their level of activity, all’s right in the prog world when the on again/off again ensemble known as FROST* is in 'on' mode. Many of us have closely – and happily – followed the twists and turns of writer / keyboardist / vocalist Jem Godfrey’s group since they released the landmark album in 2006. This is the band that became a progressive giant in just one album, the band that we have been waiting to hear from for so long now: it’s been eight years since their last CD.
So, what can be said about their new effort “Falling Satellites”?

“Falling Satellites” is Frost*’s most pop-influenced album, without a doubt. So, if you are looking for some sort of retro prog or maybe a heavier sound, they went in exactly the opposite direction. Unswayed by the modern trends in progressive rock, Frost* have released an album that celebrates the missing progressive pop subgenre with sounds ranging from subtle to sweeping.
This is an album that might bring Frost* to wider audiences, as it presents us with razor sharp vocal hooks, upbeat melodies, and some songs that might not be progressive at all.
Yet, it also offers incredibly technical grooves, layers and layers of gorgeous sounds, progressive structures, and, of course, some of the best soloing you will ever hear on any album.

“Falling Satellites” has a little bit for everyone.
Bookended by an ethereal intro and outro, the album truly begins with “Numbers”, a fast-paced and catchy as hell number in a 'song format'.
Other similar tracks are “Lights Out” (a pop song through and through), and the incredible melodic “Heartstrings”. Some lean towards the band's celebrated debut, such as the big build of “Signs”, the subtle “Closer to the Sun”, or the complex labyrinth of “Nice Day for It”.

The album seems a bit all over the place at first, but comes together when you realize that the last six songs on the album are a suite called “Sunlight”. In fact, you’ll hear the basic melodies of “Heartstrings” reoccur in “Nice Day for It”.
Once you understand the structure of the album, it really starts to makes sense, especially as the last half of the album surges and then hits a cooldown for the last two tracks.

Musically, Frost* is in top form.
Jem Godfrey and John Mitchell guitars are obviously the focus here. Jem’s keys are inimitable, winding and streaming with a consciousness of their own. Every time his keys sweep in, your heart races just a little more quickly, and his mastery of new instruments like The Chapman Railboard (played horizontally) is all the more impressive.
John, too, is at the top of his game. After the exquisite Lonely Robot’s offering last year, I was more excited to hear him play again, and he does not disappoint. His guitar solos strike that emotionally perfect first note that few guitarists can achieve.

FROST* - Falling Satellites [Deluxe Edition +2] (2016) disc

Nathan King and Craig Blundell however, may be the unsung heroes of the album. Nathan’s bass is exceedingly important here, establishing the grooves around which the keys and guitars orbit. Craig, a proven talent on the drums, lays down deceptively simple beats that you will find yourself trying to follow, but then you’ll realize that they are way more complicated than you thought.
Ah, and there's a Joe Satriani contribution - longtime fan of the band - with, of course, a scorching guitar solo.

That kind of subtle complexity is a huge part of “Falling Satellites”. Some will hear this album and proclaim it as a Rock& pop record. They’d be wrong, of course.
Yes, there is pop influence here that is undeniable (and I love it), but there is also an underlying technicality here that will blow your mind if you give it a chance, especially the second half.
In many ways, Frost* has once again redefined what we understand to be progressive music, and they’ve done it with gusto and pomp and a smile on their faces.
Highly Recommended.

01 - First Day
02 - Numbers
03 - Towerblock
04 - Signs
05 - Lights Out
06 - Heartstrings
07 - Closer to the Sun
08 - The Raging Against The Dying of the Light Blues In 7/8
09 - Nice Day for It...
10 - Hypoventilate
11 - Last Day
12 - Lantern (bonus track)
13 - British Wintertime (bonus track)

Jem Godfrey - keyboards and vocals
John Mitchell - guitars and vocals
Nathan King - bass
Craig Blundell -drums
Joe Satriani - guitar



OVERTURES - Artifacts (2016)

OVERTURES - Artifacts (2016) full

Seems the Mediterranean is a fertile ground when it comes to metal of all kinds, OVERTURES being one of them rocking away from Gorizia, Italy. The band is now ready to open the doors on their newest and third full length studio album "Artifacts", signed to Sleaszy Rider Records (H'ART).

Overtures cook their own brand of prog metal with strong melodies and groove, injecting some power crunch throughout the album. This creates this pull that will keep you on the record. On top of their very own style mix, the production has this tendency to go bombastic, with some Avantasia feel here and there.
The vocals delivered by Michele Guaitoli sometimes remind me of classic Meatloaf with a metal edge. Yeah, I am not kidding and nothing wrong with it. His style is very atypical, if compared to the usual Progressive Metal outfits. And this might open their music to fans from other genres.
Whereas he can kick it up a notch too – just check out 'Angry Animals'. But it is good to see that we got ourselves some counterweight to the screamers in the power metal genre.

You will find stellar guitar work on "Artifacts" too. Marco Falanga‘s contribution is outstanding, adding a distinct metal flavor to this set of tracks. Some of his solos just took your breath away. Right up there with the top, well done.
Further you will find Luka Klanjscek on bass and Andrea Cum on drums, supporting the album. Both of them delivering a very good performance, never overbearing, but present enough to be noticed.
'Repentance' is the first track you get on the album. And it takes off in a pretty stiff Power Metal manner, with a decent solo in the middle. Good start.

The catchy chorus line of the title song 'Artifacts' will follow you around like a friggin’ dog on a quest for a biscuit. At first the direction is not all that clear and it’s got this atypical song structure. But then it gets into the groove / melody and ends up to be pretty remarkable. By the way, check out the solo on this one, shredding up and down the fretboard. One of the highlights.
Other strong numbers are the melodic 'As Candles We Burn', and 'Profiled' creating a kind of ramping tension.
As a ballad-like, midtempo 'Unshared Worlds' is a pretty good one with very good lyrics, especially the refrain is well done. It's a very commercial track ,and another indication of the band's accessibility.

The 10+ minute epic and bombast laden 'Teardrop' is the most progressive track on the album, including different passages, a female guest vocalist to boot in a section and some cinematic atmospheres.
Then to end the album Overtures deliver a nice chunk of prog metal with the aforementioned 'Angry Animals' with Michele Guaitoli showing off his pipes at peak performance.

OVERTURES - Artifacts (2016) inside

In conclusion, 'Artifacts' is really one refined piece of prog metal, delivered in the band’s own brand and style mix. Not one note astray in the whole production, recorded and mixed with a precision that is up there with the best.
Overtures are not your typically band in this genre, they try different things, lyrics, even they do not look like rockers.
If you like quirky Progressive Metal full of melodic hooks and turns, never leaving you bored at any moment, go for it. If you are not sure, give it a try anyway. Overtures are good, you know.
Very, very interesting band / album.

01 - Repentance
02 - Artifacts
03 - As Candles We Burn
04 - GO(L)D
05 - Profiled
06 - Unshared Worlds
07 - My Refuge
08 - New Dawn, New Dusk
09 - Teardrop
10 - Angry Animals
11 - Savior (Alternate Version)

Michele Guaitoli - Vocals
Marco Falanga - Guitar
Luka Klanjscek - Bass
Andrea Cum - Drums



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