Thursday, April 11, 2013
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Having tried their luck in bands like Gift and Blackfoot Sue, British brothers Tom & David Farmer and guitarist Eddie Golga decided to go for a more Melodic Rock approach and adopted the moniker OUTSIDE EDGE.
At the beginning of the '80s they lived and played in France for a while and it was the French department of WEA that picked them up for the release of a self-titled debut album in 1984. At the time the band was criminally ignored elsewhere in the Melodic Rock world, but things changed for the better when they gained the support slot for a Bryan Adams UK tour a year later.
These live presentations resulted in a record deal with 10 Records (a subsidiary of Virgin), and two albums worthy of your attention.
The label put a lot of money into the production of Outside Edge's debut with them and recommended Terry Manning to produce, a man who already worked with Led Zeppelin and ZZ Top.
Under his experienced guide the band recorded "Running Hot" in 1986, a wonderful slice of Melodic Rock AOR in the classic British mid-eighties style very similar to Airrace, Virginia Wolf and Shy, plenty of soaring melodies and catchy choruses.
So it's no wonder that the album includes such memorable tracks like opener "Hearbeat Away", the rocking' MR blast of title track "Running Hot" or the soulful "Wait".
There's other gems in the keyboard-driven "Louella", the atmospheric "Don't Be A Hero", the elegant "Heartbreaker" or the AOR diamond "You".
German label AOR Heaven Classix is releasing digitally remastered for the first time both classic Outside Edge albums (the other is 'More Edge', to be featured here soon).
This "Running Hot" remaster sounds more warm in frequencies and slightly 'reverbered', well balanced in all the sonic aspects.
Some kind of a Melodic Rock AOR underground classic, "Running Hot" is a must have in any fan collection.
01 - Heartbeat Away
02 - Wait
03 - Louella
04 - Don't Be A Hero
05 - Running Hot
06 - Don't Leave Me Tonight
07 - You
08 - Heartbreaker
09 - Hold On
Tom Farmer - vocals, bass
Eddie Golga - guitars, vocals
Peter Giles - keyboards
David Farmer - drums
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Today, on April 9, 2013, Purple Pyramid (a subsidiary of Cleopatra Records) is releasing a special CD/DVD combo by CONSPIRACY, the project masterminded by the giants of prog rock CHRIS SQUIRE & BILLY SHERWOOD.
Sherwood met Squire when he entered in YES at the beginning of the '90s, since then the pair had been writing songs together but the fruits of those labors would be sprinkled over a series of Yes projects, and Sherwood himself wouldn't become an official member of the group for years.
After Sherwood's eventual departure in 2000 they finally issued a two albums as Conspiracy, but there remained a star-crossed sense of unfinished business. So they recorded this private show in 2004.
First of all, "Conspiracy Live" is not a live CD in the typical way: there's no audience claps and screams, nor a stage-like sound. This is like a studio album, just with all musicians playing live together.
Of course it has that special vibe and chemistry of these truly virtuosos playing 'at once', including Billy's bro Michael Sherwood on keyboards & vocals, Scott Walton also on keys, and awesome rockin' drummer Jay Schellen (Unruly Child, Hurricane).
This was a very special and unique event, as apart of Conspiracy material, it features two Yes songs: "The More We Live" (appeared on the 'Union' album) but for the first time here featuring Squire and Sherwood on vocals sharing a soaring duet. The other is "Universal Garden", performed with a more warm feeling than the original.
Of course there's material from Conspiracy's 2000 self-titled debut ("Days of Wonder" and "Red Light Ahead), and three cuts ("Conspiracy", "New World" and "Confess") from the project second and last album The Unknown, each of them representing their trademark sound.
"Conspiracy Live" showcases as well renditions of " Hold Out Your Hand / You By My Side", songs from Squire's 'Fish Out Of Water' - the bassist's first and so far, only solo release - which as he says, 'have hardly ever been played live'.
"Conspiracy Live" shows the abilites and musicality of these seasoned monster musicians with a nice, sweet melodic sound.
The arrangements are quite accessible, enhancing the unmistakable vocals of Chris Squire and the exceptional musicianship spearheaded by Billy Sherwood. Great drum sound as well, you can clearly appreciate Schellen's precise beats.
Very Good stuff.
01 - Conspiracy
02 - Days Of Wonder
03 - New World
04 - Red Light Ahead
05 - Confess
06 - The More We Live
07 - Hold Out Your Hand / You By My Side
08 - Universal Garden
Chris Squire - bass, vocals
B. Sherwood - guitars, keys, vocals
Jay Schellen - drums
Michael Sherwood - keys, vocals
Scott Walton - keys
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Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Swedish axe-slinger, former Europe guitarist KEE MARCELLO seems to be a very busy man lately, decided to recover his place into the international Rock scene.
After releasing his controversial Europe own-versions album 'Redux: Europe', the 'humbly' entitled biography 'The Rock Star God Forgot' and his performance in the well known musical Rock Of Ages in Scandinavia, Marcello has just released a brand new CD.
"Judas Kiss" is his third solo album featuring original material since the last almost nine years ago.
Decidedly into a full rocking territory, "Judas Kiss" is basically a traditional Hard Rock album with an updated sound & style.
Sometimes really melodic, quite hard n' heavy in others, this new offering finds Marcello in great form, both musically (he has undoubtedly inspired many players since Europe's Superstitious back in the late '80s) as well as in the songwriting.
"Judas Kiss" as a whole is a solid piece of kickin' Hard Rock. 13 tracks about love, loss, road weariness and betrayal (there's some good lyrics to be found) wrapped by potent riffs, incendiary solos and a groovy rhythm section.
Kee is singing better, his slightly raspy style fit with good feeling these bluesy inspired hard rockers. His playing is out of question, displayed here in abundant variations.
On the melodic side, "Starless Sky" is the highlight, somehow a midtempo rocker with excellent verses both in the vocals and the instrumental arrangements. Killer solo and layered chorus.
Despite its uptempo rhythm and some gritty vocals, opener "Zombie" is a melodic hard rock song in essence, while the bone-dry, groovy yet melodious "Dead End Highway" (love the solo here) and title track "Judas Kiss" recalls his ex-bandmates circa Start From The Dark years.
Another nice track which adds variation is the melodic march of "And Forever More", featuring female singer Akane Liv dueting with Kee. The main melody is inspired by one of Europe's best tracks ever; Girl From Lebanon.
"Coming Home" is the album's token ballad, slowing things down a bit with an earthy guitar work and modulated vocals. Good one.
But also we find in this CD some truly hard hitting numbers such as "Get On Top", the dark "Metal Box", "The Harder They Come" (with a riff dangerously close to Metallica's Enter Sandman, but cool), and the crunchy "Dog Eat Dog". "I'm Stoned" features some down-tuned guitars and a refrain akin Alice In Chains working well on all levels.
"Love Will Tear Us Apart" is a cover of Joy Division, at first glance certainly an odd choice, but Marchello has cleverly arranged the song in Melodic Rockin' way, adding even more balance to the album. I liked a lot this one.
Kee Marcello proves with "Judas Kiss" that there's life for him after Europe.
Perhaps it has taken too many years to find his own musical identity, but never it's too late, and this new recording is by far the best of his solo career.
Well written, arranged and superbly played, "Judas Kiss" has a dynamic production - I would preferred a more crispy sound - but seems Kee wants to attack with more bite and this matter is amply accomplished here.
02. Dog Eat Dog
03. Starless Sky
04. I'm Stoned
05. Dead End Highway
06. Judas Kiss
07. And Forever More (duet with Akane Liv)
08. Coming Home
09. Get On Top
10. The Harder They Come
11. Dead Give Away
12. Love Will Tear Us Apart
13. Metal Box
Kee Marcello: Lead Guitar, Lead Vocals
Jonny Scaramanga: Guitar
Ken Sandin: Bass
Tim Brown: Drums
Akane Liv: guest Vocals
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If you're used to the big sounds which defined MIKE TRAMP through his platinum days with White Lion or the heavier Freak Of Nature, then his hew album released today, "Cobblestone Street", will take you by surprise.
According to Tramp, this is the album he always dreamt about doing.
This place, a location oft walked by singer/songwriter types, is where he finds himself today and, bravely it has to be said, has influenced him into making a quite remarkable record.
Recorded by Mike himself together with his good friend - talented Soren Andersen (multi-instrumentalist and co-producer) - in Vesterbro, Copenhagen, not far from the cobblestone streets Mike grew up on, the album is described as a journey akin to viewing a movie of his life, its end providing you with details of just who Mike Tramp is.
It's hard to disagree with him. The lyrics that wrap themselves around a clutch of songs that most listeners will instantly warm to are heartfelt, love letters to a past, possibly even a catharsis in song form: the ten songs that make up "Cobblestone Street" combine to form the finest all-round release of Tramp's career.
The title track, lyrically, appears highly personal to the artist, setting the scene nicely being about his childhood and where he grew up. The album as a whole obviously so, if a little more subtly, but listeners will pick much from the bones of the tracks as they swirl and seduce.
This is a simple, yet simply effective, recording that is easy to listen to yet not easy listening.
So when on "We'll Be Alright" he says that few would appreciate what it's like to walk a thousand miles with him, Tramp is telling you the truth. But in suggesting that you don't get what he's all about, Mike is challenging you to listen more attentively than you've ever needed to in his career.
These beautiful songs draw from his soul, exploring moral confusion in "Angel Or Devil" and being at the mercy of fate in the acoustic White Lion-like "What Are You Gonna Do".
Throughout the album Soren Andersen adds-in just the right musical backing, be it the subdued keys on the title track or the electric guitar solo on "Revolution".
Listen to "Find It In Your Heart" or "New Day" and it's clear Tramp Tramp has not lost his Melodic Rock symphaties, his knack of penning a potential chart topper is intact.
On "Once" Mike's vocal is set to a crackly background bringing to mind an old movie and you can hear the reel of the imaginary film spooling out at the song's end.
"Ain't The Life I Asked For", the album's standout track for me, perhaps sums the record, and where Tramp is today, up perfectly: "This ain't the life that I wanted to live / Now it is what I've become".
This album feels less of a reinvention, more of an acceptance of where he is today, and revels in its honesty.
Since the first note of "Cobblestone Street", I was hooked. This album is in no way hard rock or brash as White Lion, but that's the beauty of it. This is one of those songwriting accomplishments that define an artist's career.
These are deeply personal tunes that take the art of storytelling to the highest levels. 'Now everyone can see, it ain't the way it used to be', Tramp sings on "New Day", a line I find hard to beat to close a review of one of the year's most surprising albums; surprisingly good it has to be noted.
Tramp followers should adore "Cobblestone Street", however, this album shouldn't be the sole possession of old school fans: listeners new to Mike Tramp will find a truly deep, well written, emotional performed recording of amazing tunes.
There simply is not a bad note on this record. It would be absolutely criminal if this is not recognized for a ton of awards this year, and most importantly, true music lovers respect.
01. Cobblestone Street
02. Caught In The Storm
03. New Day
04. Ain't The Life I Asked For
06. We'll Be Alright
07. Angel Or Devil
08. Find It In Your Heart
09. What Are You Gonna Do
Mike Tramp - vocals, guitar
Søren Andersen - keyboards, drums, guitar, bass, production
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Sunday, April 7, 2013
Female fronted Swedish band MISTH may be new in name, but all members are veterans of the Swedish music scene.
The sextet are presenting debut "Rise Of A New Day", just released on CD in Scandinavia and for the moment, digitally only worldwide.
If you noticed above, I said 'music scene' and not metal because extraordinary lead singer Maria Rådsten has never been in a metal-related band before. Die hard fans of Swedish pop music and Eurovision may recognize the name Maria Rådsten as she was a member of the group One More Time which actually placed 3rd in Eurovision in 1996.
After listening Maria's incredible performance on Misth's debut album "Rise Of A New Day", I would say she definitely has made the right choice moving into the rocking territory.
To form Misth, Maria teamed up with members of the band Mercury Fang, noted for playing hard rock ala Whitesnake with a distinct metal edge.
Although "Rise Of A New Day" certainly has its roots in progressive metal, the music definitely has some hard rock influences, spiced with accessible riffs, catchy choruses and some very nice harmonies.
The prog metal recipe developed by Misth infusing more traditional hard elements is certainly quite original, as the melodies fly sharp and bouncy over the elaborated heavy-prog arrangements. Maria Rådsten's melodious vocal variations work equally well on the progressive metal portions of the album as well in the more hard rocking numbers.
"Rise Of A New Day", "Something Better Change", the rhythmically rich "Unknown" and the quite heavy "Into The Void" are plenty of prog metal overtones.
But as said, Mysth does not get stuck on just one sound. Cuts like "Life's Arena", "Something Better Change" or the slower "Everyday" are definitely in the hard rocking side of things, featuring choruses even flirting with Melodic Hard Rock.
Taking the best of both worlds, opener "I Call Your Name" and one of the highlights; "Day Of Retribution", clearly express the band's quality and versatility mixing the genres.
New Swedish outfit Misth tries to blend two different styles in their debut CD "Rise Of A New Day", and I must say the band emerges victorious from their purpose. This a progressive album in two directions: Prog Metal and progressive Hard Rock, and both work really well for Misth, sounding homogeneous, solid as a rock.
Although Maria stands out on vocals and is very high in the mix, don't despair as the musicianship on "Rise Of A New Day" is excellent. The twin guitars construct the main musical sound whether playing the melodic solos, heavy progressive layers or even some straight Hard Rock crunchy riffs.
Keyboards have an important role too creating nice atmospheres, and the rhythm section is flexible to the style chosen in each occasion.
Impressive, very recommended debut.
01 - I Call Your Name
02 - Life's Arena
03 - Rise Of A New Day
04 - Everyday
05 - Something Better Change
06 - Into The Void
07 - Unknown
08 - Sending Down An Angel
09 - In Or Out
10 - Day Of Retribution
Maria Rådsten - Vocals
Håkan Granat - Guitar
Fredrik Glimbrand - Guitar
Jorgen Schelander - Keyboards
Olle Brodén - Bass
Martin Larsson - Drums
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Complete Version 16 tracks
Finally, and after so many years claiming for official reissues, some longtime out of print and sought after Hard Rock and Metal albums from the Swedish scene will be released by EMI Music Sweden.
Although some of these bands have received recent re-releases, like Dalton's Greatest Hits or Alien's debut (both featured here), these were licenced editions.
The EMI campaign includes the first digital edition ever of very good albums / bands like Clown, Bad Business, Red Baron, Proud, or first time official reissued CD's from Alien, Thomas Vikström, Talk Of The Town and more.
"Swedish Metal Classics ; Lost, Hidden & Forgotten" is the reissues' beachhead, a compilation containing tracks from all the bands included in the campaign.
The complete list of bands / albums to be reissued by EMI Sweden are:
01. Swedish Metal Classics;Lost, Hidden & Forgotten
02. Clown - Clown
03. Biscaya - The Eternal Masterworks
04. Proud - Proud
05. Bedlam - Beauties And The Beast
06. Bad Business - No Business Like...
07. Dalton - The Race Is On
08. Dalton - Injection
09. Red Baron - Rock 'n' Roll Power
10. Red Baron - Rock The Highway
11. Talk Of The Town - Talk Of The Town
12. Swedish Erotica - Swedish Erotica
13. Alien - Alien
14. Alien - Alien (US-mix)
15. Alien - Shiftin’ Gear
16. Alien - Best And Rare
17. Jim Jidhed - Jim
18. Thomas Vikström - If I Could Fly
19. Landlords - Mentality
20. Singer - Fill In the Blanks
21. Mustasch - The True Sounds Of The New West
22. Mustasch - Above All
23. Mustasch - Ratsafari
24. Mustasch - Powerhouse
Some of these will be featured here soon.
Meanwhile enjoy the first one, "Swedish Metal Classics ; Lost, Hidden & Forgotten", a very good compendium of the Swedish rockin' scene from the last 30 years.
01 - Clown - Lovely Liza (1981)
02 - Biscaya - Howl In The Sky (Restored Demo 1983)
03 - Proud - Fire Breaks The Dawn (1984)
04 - Bedlam - Deal With The Devil (1985)
05 - Bad Business - Stealin' My Best Friend's Woman (1986)
06 - Dalton - Can't Stop Loving You Now (1986)
07 - Bedlam - Gotta Get Away (from unreleased 2nd album 1986)
08 - Red Baron - Rock'n'oll Power (1987)
09 - Talk Of The Town - Livin' For Lovin' (1988)
10 - Swedish Erotica - We're Wild Young and Free (1989)
11 - Alien - Touch My Fire (Polar session outtake 1989)
12 - Jim Jidhed - Dangerous (1990)
13 - Thomas Vikström - Into The Fire (1993)
14 - Landlords - Liar (1994)
15 - Singer - 24 (1996)
16 - Mustasch - Muddy Waters (2002)
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Saturday, April 6, 2013
INFINITY is one of those bands started as a friend's project in their late '80s University early days, just as a musical hobby. The group even recorded a cassette in 1993, sold and distributed at the campus.
Now, 20 years later Infinity has reunited to re-work these songs and record them at a home studio, releasing them independently with the title "Seems Like Forever" only as CD-r, in a very 'hand-crafted' way.
Infinity plays the music they love far beyond the current trends; most of the songs in "Seems Like Forever" were composed between 1989 - 1992 but stylistically are planted in late seventies / early eighties Melodic Rock akin Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon and alikes.
Tracks as "On The Edge", "Too Hot", "Tonight", "In Tune With You" or the piano ballad "Share My Life With You" are inspired by - yes, you guessed it - Journey's 'Infinity' era, with the same structures, riffs, keys and melodies.
Other numbers such as "Princess", "September Wind" and "Penny For My Thoughts" have a strong Styx smell, "Girl" recalls Giuffria's Angel, while "So Close To Paradise" is pure early REO Speedwagon.
The last 3 tracks are newly composed, with a more modern approach. "War Is Hell" has a hard rock vibe, "Losing You" is a poppy acoustic ballad, and the best of all, the midtempo "Someday" blends electricity with unplugged guitars and percussions.
Although veeery 'home made', "Seems Like Forever" has the charm of that indie recordings done from the heart.
The songs are very melodic, well composed and played, sonically delivered with all the vibe of late seventies US Melodic Rock. Of course, don't expect a Roy Thomas Baker-like bombastic production, but the band has managed to nicely capture some of the retro analog magic, armed only with Pro-Tools equipment.
"Seems Like Forever" is a trip back to seventies Journey / Styx and American MHR in general, crafted with love and passion by Infinity.
01 - Tonight
02 - Too Hot
03 - Girl
04 - So Close To Paradise
05 - Princess
06 - September Wind
07 - On The Edge
08 - In Tune With You
09 - Penny For My Thoughts
10 - Share My Life With You
11 - War Is Hell
12 - Losing You
13 - Someday
Dan Coyle - Vocals
T. Hooks - Guitar
Dee Maier - Guitar
John Slavinsky - Keyboards
Josh Kaminski - Bass
Sean Procopio - Drums, Percussion
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Friday, April 5, 2013
One of the best things about Swedes THE GLORIA STORY is that you can taste the warmth of their music and musicianship from the very first time the 'play' button has been pressed.
This becomes evident in their today's released second full length "Born To Lose".
On the debut album the band delivered a more of a Thin Lizzy and Kiss oriented hard rock with dozens of extended guitar solos, now Gloria Story have slightly changed their style still retaining their unabashed and unapologetic simple melodies.
In "Born To Lose", although it is obvious we were dealing with the same band, the sound became more straightforward, stripped down, three chord oriented with lyrics based on letting loose and having a good time.
Imagine the spirit of The Who reverberating against the groove factor of The Kinks, early Cheap Trick, some Rolling Stones and even a bit of retro Enuff Z'Nuff on instantaneous movers such as "Chill Me" (the harmonica parts against the jangly guitar riff is really cool) and the windmill worthy title cut "Born To Lose".
On numbers like "Sex Is In The House" and "Fire Won't Fade" still we find that Thin Lizzy influenced hard rocking riffs, while the seventies' Cheap Trick-like poppier "Live Your Life In Shame" or the honky-tonky "Travellers Mind" are fun and energetic.
As you see, this New Gloria Story CD is mostly '70s bare-bones classic rock driven by fuzzy guitars, an old-school rhythm section and well placed vintage-styled vocals on a bunch of songs not exceeding the 3-minute mark.
There's lots of energy, dirty riffing & rhythm on these leg shaking and melody whistling short songs. This is a totally 'do it yourself' project from start to finish, recorded with analog equipment of course, with no help from outside songwriters or producers.
All sounds direct and vintage on purpose. Fans of the first album may be a lil’ bit skeptical at first, but I think that after the second hearing will all come to place for them – as all of the Gloria Story's virtues are still here.
Nothin' has changed much after all, just the influences. Gloria Story's music still comes out of the '70s, and if you like this style, you will enjoy this second offering from the Swedes.
01. Born To Lose
02. I See You Tomorrow
04. Live Your Life In Shame
05. Torture And Pain
06. Sex Is In The House
07. Chill Me
08. Travelers Mind
09. The Only One Who Knows
10. Fire Won't Fade
11. The Black Hole
12. Waiting For The Judge
13. Alone (digital bonus track)
Joan 'Kid' Sallrot - Lead and Backing Vocals, Guitar
Filip Rapp - Guitar, Vocals, Percussion
Fredrik Axelsson - Bass, Backing Vocals
Carl Ahlander - Guitar
Henrik Siberg - Drums
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The Real One : Full no cuts
Hailing from Down Under, SHADOWQUEEN was formed around 2010 in Melbourne by female singer Robbi Zana (also bass & keyboards) and guitarist Si Hopman.
Intended to create a powerful mix of classic Hard blended with melodic sensibility without losing the attack of a live band, they opted for the trio-format, only including drummer Alex Deegan into the combo.
ShadowQueen debut "Don't Tell Me" was released by themselves two months ago in Oceania, and now the band has signed a deal with a French label to re-pack (new artwork) the CD and made it available all over the world.
ShadowQueen's style is inspired by classic female-fronted classic Hard Rock acts, with a modern approach and melodies sometimes close to rock&pop or more bluesy Melodic Rock. The music is focused in a powerhouse delivery, but all is quite polished and controlled, giving breath to smoothly arise the melodies.
There's some hot guitar riffs, rounded bass lines and pounding drums drawing the songs, but the star in ShadowQueen are Robbi's vocals.
She may not (yet) be in the league of one Ann Wilson, but man, what she pulls off here is surely very convincing. Melodic, and still able to carry all the songs with power and variation. Robbi has that kind of vocal colour that you love in an instant.
Musically, the trio adds some little twists to their modern bluesy Hard here and there, proving they can handle some less obvious rhythmic ideas with ease. Nothing all too fancy, but still noticeable and giving them even more identity.
Opener "Best Of Me" is driven by a groovy riff and smashing drums, and although the chorus is quite anthemic, the middle part of the song somehow reminds me early eighties Heart.
Title track "Don't Tell" is more modern, pumped by a cracking bass and a catchy rhythm guitar. It's hooky, with Robbi's singing fluctuating between lascivious and gasp bringing to mind eighties Joan Jett.
"Any Another Day" goes for the groove again, followed by the harder "What You Want" featuring a clean yet heavy guitar work and in your face Lee Aaron styled vocals.
To add some variation, "Prelude To Silence" is a nice piano (performed by Robbi) intro to the next track "Silence", an impressive darker rocker constructed over and unusual broken rhythm. The chorus is quite original as well, making this track one of the most interesting on the album.
"Karma" is the only ballad - more properly a slow tune - and it's another captivating number. The guitar wraps you like a lullaby and the husky vocals (in the Melissa Etheridge style) are really spellbinding. Then in the chorus the song explodes with ferocity providing a great effect. Very good.
Then again the rocking attitude returns with "Bruised", featuring one of the best guitar solos here. "Wake Up" is a straight eighties rocker in the Baby Animals vein with good melody, a bit simplistic but effective.
"Paint Your Face" is the more Melodic (Hard) Rock oriented track on offer, somehow musically reminding me Shakra, while Robbi's sounds like Robin Beck on steroids. I like this.
For the end, ShadowQueen goes directly to the yugular with the dynamic "Get Off", a punchy hard rocker on all cylinders with solid vocals in full power.
"Don't Tell Me" is an impressive debut for "Shadowqueen", a female fronted Hard Rock band rich in musicality and attitude.
A very good vocalist and solid songs are a pretty fine starting point for anybody, especially if it grooves and rocks hard like Shadowqueen does here in only 38 minutes.
Well produced, hard hitting but clean and polished, "Don't Tell Me" is a truly enjoyable album packed with kickin', effective cuts to quench your thirst of good Female Fronted Hard Rock.
Robbi Zana – Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
Si Hopman – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Alex Deegan – Drums
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Thursday, April 4, 2013
From the ashes of a metal band known as Iron Rage, remaining members John Williams (vocals, guitar) and Mike Fitzgerald (drums) formed RAT ALLEY at the beginning of 1989 in their native Boston, USA.
With the addition of bassist Chris Dahlstedt (ex- Tin Pan Alley), the group toured the Massachusetts area becoming quite popular, opening for major acts like Overkill and T.N.T., while recorded their own songs onto tape.
They were close to sign a deal with Cherrydisk Records, but due to internal troubles the band decided to call it quits in January, 1992.
Rat Alley reunited few years ago for some concerts, and now finally after all these years they're releasing their long delayed album "The Storm".
Rat Alley (the group's name was taken after a notorious alley in Boston where the band often partied) style is quite curious; they blend the nuances of Californian Hard Rock - specially on the choruses - with the typical East US Metal intense riffage so common those days in America.
This mix works for the most part on all the nine tracks included into "The Storm".
The foot-tapping, commercial "Rockin' Romancer" and "The Storm", the bluesy hard rocker "Leave Me Alone" and the dirty "One Way Town" (nice solo) contrast with more metalized, darker tracks such as "Nothin Like You" and "Down And Out", both featuring a strong US Metal imprint surely influenced by the member's previous band.
Rat Alley's "The Storm" is a cool and nice way to taste the rock sound populating the US East Coast twenty five years ago.
The band definitely sounds like a trio - a power trio I'd say - and while most of the tracks are straightforward rockers fueled by pentatonic guitars, all are quite melodic juxtaposing bravado with catchiness. All songs are well recorded and mastered considering its analog source.
John M. Williams - Vocals, Guitars
Chris Dahlstedt - Bass, Backing Vocals
Mike Fitzgerald - Drums, Backing Vocals
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Finally, one of the most promising young Melodic Hard Rock bands of the new generation got signed and their debut is being released worldwide.
We're talking about the Southampton, UK based rockers SUMMERS and their first CD "364".
Summers gets their name from two brothers Crash and Ricky Summers who formed the group in 2007 aiming to create a unique blend of iconic stadium rock inspired by eighties sounds.
Let's get one thing straight here, these guys are not shying away from their influences: this lot's desire is to be 21st century Def Leppard.
While it is true that 'talent can't be recreated' (as once John Sykes said after being fired from Whitesnake in 1987), Summers takes the best bits of '80s Leppard - together with some Bon Jovi and Thin Lizzy - and re-packs them for a new generation.
And when things are done with this quality you must have talent, and huge amounts of it.
I should summarize this review saying "364" (the number of days it took to complete the album) is merely Amazing.
This is simply a glossy, shining, Mutt Lange-style produced album full of 5-part harmony layered vocals, catchy and pristine as the pure Arctic water.
All the tracks on offer have been written and arranged with maximum detail always with the sense of melody as primal factor, enriched with hooks galore, great solos, even greater choruses.
Not to talk about production: the music industry does not do more records like this. "364" was recorded in Cyprus and produced by a major; Clyde Ward (Eric Clapton, Sting, Lenny Kravitz), mixed by Jens Klein in Germany and mastered by Pat Reese in the USA.
As you can see, they have spared nothing, and this investment paid each dividend.
"364" is an almost perfect Melodic Hard Rock (at places AOR) record.
Track by track? You don't need a description. All tracks are awesome, the musicianship is awesome, the songs are awesome...
Yeah, this type of stuff has been done before... but who cares? You can't reinvent the wheel in this genre, instead it's not easy to produce this charming, thrilling material as the music included in "364". And few can muster such quality like Summers have here.
I am in love with this album, and without a doubt you will be too once you get your mitts on this potential future classic.
A Must Have.
01 - Shot In The Dark
02 - Superhero
03 - Girls
04 - Too Late
05 - Sometimes
06 - Steal Away
07 - Let's Make Love
08 - Billy
09 - Let's Go Round
10 - Told You So
11 - Terminator
12 - Rockmachine
Crash Summers – Lead vocals
Ricky Summers – Bass & vocals
Jason Sepala – Guitars & vocals
Sam Hickling – Guitars & vocals
Andy Pope – Drums & vocals
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Wednesday, April 3, 2013
At the dawn of the hard-rocking seventies, Chicago (the band) blew out of the windy city to populate the AC/AOR charts for the next several decades and earn their place in rock history.
Original drummer Danny Seraphine was dismissed from Chicago in 1990, then he formed CTA: California Transit Authority. Fast forward to the 21st century, CTA enlists Seraphine and incredible guitarist Marc Bonilla as songwriting force, along with keyboardists Ed Roth & Peter Fish and bassist Mick Mahan, with the simple goal of making the most of the music they love.
The band's 2007 debut garnered critical raves and spawned some legendary live CTA performances, and now the combo are presenting their second studio effort entitled "Sacred Ground".
CTA has - over the two and a half years it took to get this follow up out - developed an air-tight cohesion with Bonilla (who also works as a key cog in the Keith Emerson band) writing or co-writing eight of this album’s 14 tracks, and also handled the all-important horn arrangements on nine cuts, while Seraphine helped compose five others. They’ve become two halves of the one soul-lifting whole.
But, like Chicago did before CTA, there is actually a chorus of voices involved with "Sacred Ground". Seraphine brings some of the best Westcoast talents with him for this new recording including former Chicago bandmate Bill Champlin, his son Will Champlin, ex- Tower of Power vocalist Larry Braggs and many more.
"Sacred Ground" brings back the original Chicago (the band) groove, the one with that challenging rhythm section, the infused horns, the fusion yet rocking guitars, all with with new power and excitement.
Champlin’s son Will takes center stage for the funky-cool title track as well as "Strike", a mid-century swinger he co-wrote.
Bonilla sings his own song "Out of Reason", delivering a much more pop sound that you get from his work with Keith Emerson. He also joins with Will Champlin for a duet on the uptempo and catchy "Staring at the Sun" later.
CTA and company take the opportunity to stretch out on take-no-prisoners instrumentals like "Primetime" and "In The Kitchen", displaying a versatility and a virtuosity that feels like a breath of fresh, creative air across today's over-programmed radio landscape.
By any definition, Sacred Ground is an eclectic collection, but somehow the brush-stroked balladry of "Go On" (delivered in a soulful near-whisper by vocalist Eric Redd) feels right at home.
Keyboardist Ed Roth penned "Conviction", a quietly impactful solo tribute to Ronnie Montrose, a mentor to so many young musicians — including Bonilla — before his tragic passing last year.
True to form, CTA also takes on a couple of choice covers. Larry Bragg's soaring vocal on the funky-and-nostalgic "Take Me Back to Chicago" will bring chill bumps and a smile to longtime fans, while his singing on the Blood, Sweat & Tears classic "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know" catapults Al Kooper's original to new heights.
The album's vocal high point, however, belongs to the eternal Bill Champlin, whose masterful performance transforms the moving and cathartic "Full Circle" into the album's centerpiece. It builds on the power ballad '80s sound of Chicago, just call it pure US Westcoast AOR.
California Transit Authority's "Sacred Ground" is a wonderful piece of music, that not only connects the dots back to Seraphine’s time in the legendary Chicago, it also shows yet again how their classic sound can be updated for a new generation.
Each individual track on "Sacred Ground" carves out its own space, but the overall theme – of self-realization, circles unbroken and musical rebirth – lives and breathes in all these extraordinary songs.
For everyone involved, the making of "Sacred Ground" obviously was a full-on labor of love, for us, the listeners, a real pleasure to the ears.
Danny Seraphine - drums, percussion
Mark Bonilla - guitar
Will Champlin - vocals
Bill Champlin - vocals
Larry Braggs - vocals
Wes Quave - vocals
Eric Redd - vocals
Peter Fish - keyboards
Edward Roth - keyboards
Mick Mahan, Travis Davis - bass
Luis Conte - percussion
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Robert Allen is a well known songwriter / musician in the American music biz since the last thirty years contributing songs for many artists, publishing agencies and film studios / soundtracks.
Allen fronted as well a project called USED RECORDS during the '80s, whose recordings were finally released by legendary German label Long Island Records in 1994.
Robert Allen is still active and recently agreed to license some Used Records songs to be featured in the CW TV show 'The Carrie Diaries'.
These tracks were remastered by Allen and in sync with the feature in the show, the specialized in film & TV soundtracks Chicago based label Music Of The Sea is releasing the material as "Fly Like The Wind" EP.
These are typical '80s movie-like poppy AOR songs with melodic guitars, tons keyboards, super-compressed drums and commercial choruses.
Quite cheesy if you ask me, but, who does not like that naif, easy to the ears, radio-friendly tunes?
1. Fly Like The Wind
2. Three Way Heartbreak
3. Without A Trace
Walker Reeves: vocals, guitar
Robert Allen: guitar, piano, percussion
Joe Norosavage: keyboards, programming
Garry Tallent: bass
Max Weinberg: drums
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Sunday, March 31, 2013
Founder member of British legends UFO Pete Way left the band after twelve years, briefly forming Fastway with Motorhead’s 'Fast' Eddie Clarke (and soon bailing for contractual reasons) in 1982.
Immediately Pete founded his own band: WAYSTED, featuring singer Fin Muir, ex MSG and UFO guitarist / keyboardist Paul Raymond, former Def Leppard drummer Frank Noon and young lead guitar player Ronnie Kayfield.
Waysted released their debut "Vices" the next year, one of the great early '80s hard rock albums that few heard, sonically ahead of its time for the UK scene.
"Vices" is a unique sounding, rocking release considering the hard rock style in vogue in England around its time. If fact it shows some of the sounds starting to grow in the other side of the Atlantic that would become rapidly popular worldwide.
Actually, Waysted were truly pioneers in Europe of this new hard rock wave where the bluesy melodies were replaced by dynamic razor guitar riffs, pounding drums, fat bass lines and more catchy, gang-like choruses.
Nobody sang his guts out with such ferocity as the raspy, swaggering singer Fin Muir did back in those days. As usual, Pete Way's solid and colorful bass playing is among the best in rock, and Frank Noon's drumming / sound is huge here.
The big surprise is the astonishing and original lead guitar work of Ronnie Kayfield, a complete unknown entity then, who very sadly went to oblivion after "Vices" as Waysted went through several line-up during its existence.
"Vices" was reissued several times (the Zoom Records edition was horribly transferred) but never officially until now, by Cherry Red Records. Their remastering job is excellent.
Not solely about more gain (it is higher here), there's clarity, little subtleties, better instrument separation and on top is a nice warmer level of bass. The more audible guitar layers are now revealing different tones vividly jumping out of the speakers.
The final album was mixed at the Townhouse studios, but research in the Chrysalis archives revealed six songs which had been previously mixed at Maison Rouge studios. These unique versions appear on CD for the very first time here.
The packing is also complete, in the Rock Candy Records quality style: 15 page booklet with original artwork, loads of era correct pics, lots of reviews and interview quotes from the band, and a complete Classic Rock and Metal Hammer’s Malcolm Dome editor essay.
Although my favorite Waysted album is their 'Americanized' 3rd full length 'Save Your Prayers', this debut "Vices" is a killer hard rockin' album. Good songs, gritty vocals, crunching guitars and smashing drums.
This baby ROCKS, now finally with the great sound it deserves.
01 - Love Loaded
02 - Women In Chains
03 - Sleazy
04 - Night Of The Wolf
05 - Toy With The Passion
06 - Right From The Start
07 - Hot Love
08 - All Belongs To You
09 - Somebody To Love
BONUS TRACKS (Previously unreleased on CD):
10 - Love Loaded (Maison Rouge mix)
11 - Sleazy (Maison Rouge mix)
12 - Night Of The Wolf (Maison Rouge mix)
13 - Right From The Start (Maison Rouge mix)
14 - All Belongs To You (Maison Rouge mix)
15 - Somebody To Love (Maison Rouge mix)
Fin Muir - Vocals
Ronnie Kayfield - Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Paul Raymond - Rhythm Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Pete Way - Bass, Backing Vocals
Frank Noon - Drums
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Friday, March 29, 2013
The story goes that Melodic Rockers PARAGON were formed early in 1984 by musicians from Canada, Arizona and Southern California, played in the Bay Area throughout the decade and early '90s and even released an indie miniLP, but never got signed by a major label.
However, Paragon recorded most of their original material during those years and now are being released for the first time on a CD entitled "Danger Calls".
Not to be confused with the nineties Indianapolis grunge-hard band of the same name, this Paragon plays '80s US Melodic Rock / Pompy AOR in the vein of Journey and Roadmaster.
Originally a four piece including guitarist Brett Sandberg, bass player
Jimmy 'Limbean' Stage, drummer Beto Trevizo and band leader keyboardist Ric Hancock who also handled the lead vocal duties, they added frontman Mark Akkett and became a five-piece later on.
"Danger Calls" features all Paragon recordings, including the 4-track miniLP from 1985 never available on digital format, 12 tracks recorded during the eighties at different studios, 2 tracks from 1991 featuring lead singer Mark Akkett, and as bonus the song "2000 Warriors" off Ric Hancock's solo album featuring Brett Sandberg on lead guitar released in 2001 on the indie label Night Writer Records.
This is very classy material, as said, in the Journey style with tons of Pompy keyboards, pianos and synths, slick guitar work, layered harmonies and very Steve Perry-like lead vocals.
The later material is more straight US Melodic Rock, oriented to hooky choruses still retaining their signature guitar / keys interplay.
Production is as good as it gets for an indie recording with some tracks enginereed and produced by Gary Mallaber (Eddie Money, Steve Miller), quite well remastered from the original master tapes.
A really nice trip back to the glorious '80s!
01 - Danger Calls
02 - Joanne
03 - Lonely Dancer
04 - Planet Earth
05 - I Am Not A Fool
06 - Rock 'n' Roll Musicians
07 - It's Not Too Late
08 - Whatever It Takes
09 - She's A Dream
10 - There You Go
11 - Knight To End All Knights
12 - 2000 Warriors
13 - With You
14 - Summertime
15 - A Friend In Need
16 - Cra Di Coricarsi
17 - Don't Leave Me Tonight
18 - Run Children
Ric Hancock - Vocals, Keyboards
Brett Sandberg - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Jim Stage (Limbean) - Bass
Beto Trevizo - Drums, Backing Vocals
Mark Akkett - Vocals (17, 18)
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Thursday, March 28, 2013
I am not a big fan of Symphonic Metal yet I have to admit when the genre it's well done there's some really interesting musical landscapes to explore.
Austria's SERENITY is one of those few bands in this field that caught my attention with the last album two years ago, as they started to expand the horizons to a more melodic territory.
Now, with their brand new release "War Of Ages" - although retaining traditional Sympho overtones - the group definitely lands into a very melodic, commercially appealing style that will please fans of all genres.
And what a great album it is.
Often compared in the past with acts such as Kamelot and latter day Sonata Artica, Serenity now is drastically much more interesting than these bands, more flexible, melodic and I'd say: elegant.
The musicianship is outstanding as the band is a tight well-oiled machine and the quality of their songwriting is truly remarkable.
Lyrically "War of Ages" is partly a concept record, which delves deep into historical battles and wars. Dealing with the likes of Napoleon, Alexander the Great and Henry VIII the lyrics are intelligent, insightful and not filled with the typical clichés of the genre.
Serenity has permanently hired Clémentine Delauney, a female vocalist to enrich their sound even more, but the star of this band is incredible singer Georg Neuhauser.
This man's voice has been touched by the angels, just listen his tremendous performance on "For Freedom's Sake" or in one of this Limited Edition bonus tracks; "Love Of My Life", a cover of Freddie Mercury's Queen most lovable tunes.
Each song stands out and showcases the band writing devastating riffs, gorgeous symphonic parts and vocal melodies that are infectious. Highlights are "Tannenberg", "The Art of War" and crushing opener "Wings of Madness", but that's is just to name some in this complete, always captivating recording.
Perhaps the regular edition closing track "Royal Pain" is which perfectly exemplifies Serenity's style. This is the epitome of what they are trying to accomplish and the back and forth chemistry between the two vocalists is outstanding. Halfway through we are treated to a stunning lead guitar solo by Thomas Buchberger, who also does a notable job in the entire disc.
With the release of "War Of Ages" Serenity moved themselves from a mid-level typical Symphonic Metal band to the top of the heap.
Not too overly heavy, the sound in this new stage of the band is clearly oriented to melody without giving the energy. The songs are focused and memorable. The more listens and the deeper you dig, the better the album becomes.
"War Of Ages" features the best batch of songs in this genre I've heard in years, and surely will please listeners from other styles with ease.
01. Wings Of Madness
02. The Art Of War
03. Shining Oasis
04. For Freedom's Sake
05. Age Of Glory
06. The Matricide
07. Symphony For The Quiet
09. Legacy Of Tudors
10. Royal Pain
Limited Edition Bonus Tracks:
11. Fairytales (Piano Version)
12. Love Of My Life [Queen cover]
Georg Neuhauser - Vocals
Clementine Delauney - Vocals
Thomas Buchberger - Guitars
Fabio D'Amore - Bass
Mario Hirzinger - Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Andreas Schipflinger - Drums, Backing Vocals
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Formed ten years ago in south Sweden by brothers AnnLouise & Bill FRONT and David BACKstrom, FRONTBACK is releasing today in the Scandinavian market their debut album "Born With A Secret".
Fronted by the female vocals of AnnLouise (or 'Anlo') the band's style goes for commercial Melodic Rock, sometimes Hard, sometimes quite poppy and catchy, always driven by strong guitar riffs.
First single and opener "You Can't Save Me When I'm Gone" (check video below) is a cool uptempo rocker which defines Frontback's sound; melodic guitars, clean vocals and contagious choruses.
Follower "Stay Away" adds a bit of American sleazy to the proceedings through some gang backing vocals with the second guitar (at charge of Anlo too) and the rhythm section recalling Motley Crue.
The good, catchy poppy melodic rocker "Time Is Running Out" makes you think of Belinda Carlisle on steroids, while the soloing guitar of Axel Graneskog is inspired by many US heroes of the second half of the '80s.
There's other nice tracks in the aforementioned style like the bass-pumped "Everything" (infectious chorus), the radio friendly "Heartattack" and the bit generic "I Won't Go".
The material is balanced with the more hard rocking numbers "Rock Disease" (tighter vocals), the US female fronted influenced "You Lie" and the groovy "You And Me", but all retaining the melodic factor.
Frontback is a new really interesting female fronted rocking band from the inexhaustible Swedish quarry. On their debut "Born With A Secret" the band sounds professional and tight through the eleven tracks, well produced by Mats Ericsson (Degreed, Angel King).
Frontback has already opened for H.E.A.T., Freedom Call, Crashdiet, Bullet, Casablanca and many others planning to expand their commercial rockers to the rest of Europe, and "Born With A Secret" is a solid cover letter to gain new audiences quickly.
01 - You Can't Save Me When I'm Gone
02 - Stay Away
03 - Running For Better Days
04 - Time Is Running Out
05 - Everything
06 - Rock Disease
07 - Heartattack
08 - You Lie
09 - I Won't Go
10 - All I Wanna Do
11 - You And Me
Anlo Front - lead vocals & guitar
Bill Front - bass & backing vocals
David Bäckström - drums & backing vocals
Axel Graneskog - lead guitar & backing vocals
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Swedes COVERED CALL debut from 2009 featuring Thomas Vikström on vocals was an enjoyable disc receiving some really solid reviews and a promising future for the band.
Now, after four years the group assembled by Morgan Rosenquist and Ronny Svanströmer strikes back with another album called "Impact" featuring two permanent renowned new members: bassist Andy Loos (ex Lion’s Share, Glory) and no-other than the great Goran Edman at the mic.
From the first musical note on "Impact" you can hear that Coverd Call has improved on everything: whether if it comes to band sound, songwriting or production. All is deliciously clear, polished and really well mixed by Lars Chriss of Lion's Share, who also performs a guest guitar solo on the excellent Saxon cover "Hold On".
The game here is pure Scandi Melodic Rock / AOR, as you can imagine.
"Impact" starts with really strong song material: "Lorriane", "When The Lights Are Out" and the blissful "Think About Old Times" are amazing compositions, which should please every Melodic Rock fan with their catchiness, tight musicianship and beautiful harmonies. In these moments they don't need to hide from the 'top dogs' W.E.T, I assure you.
The following "Look Into Your Mind" and the rocking version of Saxon's "Hold On" are also well-crafted tracks with stunning choruses. It's just fun to listen to those great guitar lines and the beautiful keys in the background. The keyboardist (who also adds some nice Hammond at places) is not credited but deserves a pat on the back as his work add 'that' extra topping to the music.
What surprises me is you won't find a real ballad on this CD. Even the last song "Last Goodbye" is a rocker with Goran Edman’s vocals reminding me a little of Brian Howe and the song has that Howe-era Bad Company feel with very good harmony vocals.
In their second effort "Impact", Covered Call delivers a very good piece of Melodic Rock heaven with a clear production, solid instrumentation and some truly stunning songs.
There's a positive energy in the songlist, with sweet melodies and the voice of Edman shining bright throughout these 11 tracks. The hooks and the really melodious lines are on top as needed in this kind of music, surrounding your years with all instruments being perfectly heard thanks to the careful mix.
A mandatory listen for every Melodic Rock / AOR fan out there.
02. When The Lights Are Out
03. Think About All Times
04. Look Into Your Mind
05. Hold On
06. Make A Wish
07. Nothing Lasts Forever
08. Wake Up
09. When I’m Gone
10. Live It Up
11. Last Goodbye
Goran Edman - Lead Vocals
Joel Carlsson - Guitars
Morgan Rosenquist - Guitars
Andy Loos - Bass
Ronny Svanströmer - Drums
Lars Chriss - guest Guitar solo
Swedish rockers STONELAKE formed back in 1999 and although "Monolith" is their 6th album, as far I know the band never reached a remarkable success beyond Scandinavia.
This new release surely will do a name for themselves worldwide as it's a strong and really well crafted recording.
Stonelake's style combines modern Euro Hard Rock and classic Melodic Metal with instant and easy melodies, some catchy choruses and tight, clean instrumentation yet quite heavy in places.
The songs in "Monolith" are melodic and powerful but they have the ability to intercalate into the intense thick guitar riffage some atmospheric midtempos mostly provided by, sometimes, dark keyboard arrangements.
In places, Stonelake style seems inspired by Queensryche heavier era, as the hard rock / melodic metal overtones are spiced with hard-progressive touches. Yet, this band is more direct and accessible in their songwriting.
Singer Peter Grundstrom has a raspy throat able to reach the stratosphere with high pitch vocals when given the opportunity, but the major highlight on the CD is the fabulous and creative guitar playing from Jan Akesson, who pulls out all the stops throughout each track, leading the charge with hard-nosed and powerful riffs, while adding interesting melodious solos here and there.
"Monolith" is a solid and interesting release by these Swedes, efficiently mixing classic styles with a modern, compact sound. Ten songs and 45 minutes is the right run for this kind of music and Stonelake smartly overlaps this trap.
The overall sound has something sharp and mysterious but with easy choruses making the audition a joyful experience. Production is quite massive, with rich multi-track layers giving air to the songs and melodies.
I should mention that "Monolith" proves there can be something different released in the Euro metal-related field these days, effective and interesting.
01. Fanatical Love
02. You Light The Way
03. End This War
04. With Someone Like You
05. Double Life
07. Will You Be Loved
08. In A Freezing House
Peter Grundstrom: Vocals
Jan Akesson: Guitars, Background Vocals
Lasse Johansson: Bass
Annika Argerich: Keyboards
Fredrik Joakimsson: Drums
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Among my favorite Schenker albums ever, "Perfect Timing" by McAULEY SCHENKER GROUP criminally never was released in a remastered form outside Japan, until now.
UK label Cherry Red has coming to do justice, as this is a great Melodic Hard Rock album.
Released at the end of 2012, this "Perfect Timing" fresh remaster is truly awesome.
The original CD from 1987 had the typical quiet digital transfer of many editions from the era when the CD format recently appeared in the market and the mastering job in this type of physical support was pretty naive. The vinyl version sounded million times better.
Although released in Japan with a very good remastering (in 2000 and again in 2006), in the rest of the world none company took the challenge.
This Cherry Red's "Perfect Timing" is excellent with a brighter sound, controlled gain enhancement, more clarity and even sounding like if it was remixed yet it wasn't touched in this department.
Occurs that the high amount of layers in the recording - this was a big budget release intended for MSG to conquer the United States - now really pops up with this remaster, crisp and clear.
If you never heard "Perfect Timing", this is somehow a forgotten MHR classic.
After four studio albums and two live records released on Chrysalis between 1980 and 1984, Michael returned in 1987 with a new label (EMI) and fronted by former Grand Prix and Far Corporation singer Robin McAuley, with a change of name to the McAuley Schenker Group, but still conveniently shortened to MSG.
Still in the veins of hard rock elements, but now with a more melodic US approach, radio-friendly choruses and lush production, "Perfect Timing" even borders AOR proportions on many tracks.
The commercial hard-rocking single "Gimme Your Love" opens the album, followed by the bouncy melodic rocker "Here Today – Gone Tomorrow", also a highlight of the record.
"No Time for Losers" is catchy, while the AORish "Love is Not A Game" showcase McAuley's melodic vocal lines, definitely another radio-friendy track.
Two ballads are surely to rest your ears for a while, the harmony layered "Follow The Night" and the haunting "Time", a track with a very original skeleton and full of Schenker’s trademark melodic fills.
It's time to pick your delayed MSG "Perfect Timing" remastered version, now at a good price and in a excellent package, a complete 16 page booklet with period memorabilia and rare photos, original artwork, lyrics and a Malcolm Dome essay with new interview snippets.
And most important of all: with a terrific sound, you'll hear a world of difference.
01. Gimme' Your Love
02. Here Today Gone Tomorrow
03. Don't Stop Me Now
04. No Time For Losers
05. Follow The Night
06. Get Out
07. Love Is Not A Game
09. I Don't Wanna Lose
10. Rock 'Til You're Crazy
Robin McAuley - Vocals
Michael Schenker - Guitar
Mitch Perry - Guitar
Steve Mann - Keyboards
Rocky Newton - Bass, Backing Vocals
Bodo Schopf - Drums
Produced by Andy Johns
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Italian progressive metallers DGM have been doing bleed some ears for more than a decade, quite silently but firmly gaining a strong fan core base and their colleagues' respect.
DGM is releasing their aptly-titled eighth studio album "Momentum", as this brand new recording finds them at the peak of their creativity with a strong, devastating set of songs.
DGM mix tons of controlled energy, melody and precision with wonderfully appealing choruses, obtaining a sound and style that sits the group at the center of progressive metal, melodic metal and power metal, offering the best of each for whatever eager listener snaps this up. And if you're a metal fan, you really should give to "Momentum" a proper listen.
Lending his considerable talent, shouter Russell Allen appears as guest on the opening track "Reason", a heavy melodic rocker with a meaty riff and a great singable chorus that sets the pace for the rest of the album: thrilling and vigorous.
They follow with several superbly written and executed songs in "Trust", "Universe" and "Numb". Each one offers something a bit different, whether it is a cool guitar tone, explosive double bass triplets, or killer riffs and soloing.
The first half of the album ends with the only ballad of the record, the solidly constructed "Repay". Mark Basile shows how good manages his wide vocal range over the awesome melody and the joint of the guitars with orchestrated keyboards is first class. One of the songs of the year... yes guys.
The second guest appearance arrives in the sharp "Chaos" with guitarist Viggo Lofstad (Jørn Lande band, Pagan’s Mind) drawing a melodious solo over this compelling prog metal track.
"Remembrance" is close to being another ballad, especially in the bridge and chorus, but the verses and post-chorus instrumental keep things a heavier but always melodic.
"Overload" is quite close to power metal yet the progressive overtones are all over, "Void" is sonically more dark but the harmony vocals and keyboard runs makes this one another highlight, while closer "Blame" is the epic track of the album, not for its length, just because the slightly sympho approach that reminds me Norwegians Ark (the earlier Jorn Lande band).
DGM has made one really fantastic album in "Momentum" that really impressed me as the first Allen-Lande did when came out, this is in the same melodic-heavy vein, just a bit more progressive.
The musicianship, like those scintillating keyboard / guitar trade-offs and solos throughout "Momentum" are just stellar and also you can't forget the fantastic vocals and melodies.
But what makes a record great, what makes music interesting and what makes a band distinguishable from the rest is the feeling, the waking of emotions. I find "Momentum" a perfect performance of an emotionless machine.
Production is excellent and the mix - perhaps the more important 'factor' in this type of albums - is perfectly done above and below.
For sure one of the best Prog / Melodic Metal albums of the year.
01 - Reason (feat. Russell Allen)
02 - Trust
03 - Universe
04 - Numb
05 - Pages
06 - Repay
07 - Chaos (feat. Viggo Lofstad)
08 - Remembrance
09 - Overload
10 - Void
11 - Blame
Mark Basile - Vocals
Simone Mularoni - Guitars
Andrea Arcangeli - Bass
Fabio Costantino - Drums
Emanuele Casali - Keyboards
Russell Allen - Vocals
Viggo Lofstad - Guitar
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Monday, March 25, 2013
After his early days in Steeler, German guitar player AXEL RUDI PELL formed his own band at the end of the '80s which through the years has garnered an impressive fan base.
2012 turned out to be Axel’s most successful year with his latest studio album ‘Circle Of The Oath’ scoring high in the European charts. Besides that there was also a big tour with shows on different European festivals and even a three night sold-out gig in his native Bochum.
To celebrate this success and his 30 years in the music business, Axel Rudi Pell is releasing "Live On Fire" (recorded only few months ago on Oct. 18th, 2012) that will be available in all kind of formats, from a double CD set to DVD and even on vinyl.
Axel Rudi Pell's band is a steady outfit that has remained unchanged for the last 15 years and you can definitely hear that experience on stage and on this live album.
Pell already has a live disc released with this line-up (2002's Knights Live), so, Is this new instalment necessary?
Well, yes, in many aspects; that previous live album passed almost unnoticed for the big audiences (at that time the Hard Rock genre was not as popular as now), we have the most recent compositions, and the band never sounded tight and oiled live as in present time.
But for me (and I believe there must be many, many other listeners out there) "Live On Fire" essentially is like an enjoyable trip back to my youth when 'real live' albums were released (Whitesnake's Live in the Heart of the City, Black Sabbath's Live Evil, etc.)
This means "Live On Fire" was pressed onto CD with absolutely no overdubs, something you don't come across too often. With this ‘one-take’ approach ARP captured the energy and the emotions of that particular night, which is awesome.
And Axel Rudi Pell alive particularly recalls one of the greatest hard rock bands ever; Rainbow in the Ronnie James Dio era.
That re-created very late seventies live atmosphere is probably the biggest achievement from Axel’s band. Johnny Gioeli’s vocal performance is also very Dio-like although he sounds more like Doogie White to me, the Rainbow singer from the nineties. Obviously as a homage, in his banter between the songs Johnny ‘copies’ some of Dio’s phrases quite literally giving you the impression that he’s Ronnie’s little brother.
The atmospheric feel of "The Guillotine Suite" followed by the energetic "Ghost In Black" (both from 2012's Circle Of The Oath) get this live performance rolling with Pell's characteristic guitar sound and Mike Terrana's faster paced drums. Sharp heavy guitar riffs, crafty soloing and the support of Ferdy Doernberg's enchanting keys in the back.
"Strong As A Rock" sounds live as its title indeed promises with a monster guitar work, grand bass play by Volker Krawczak and smashing drums by Terrana, joint together it is a festivity of '70s & '80s comeback.
Also worth to listen is the medley "The Masquerade Ball / Casbah / Dreaming Dead / Whole Lotta Love / Dreaming Dead" with a magical retro feel. Power & huge choruses in "Masquerade Ball", then the melodic "Casbah" singing together with the audience, and finally a bombastic cover of Zeppelin's classic "Whole Lotta Love".
This is an old-school live recording, then solos can't be missed; Terrana's drums fear the most, and his potent solo goes off with his always likeable display of power and technique, while the keyboard solo includes a cool band jam in the mix.
The prior fan favourites aren't forgotten like "Fool Fool", and other medley includes a partial cover of Deep Purple's bluesy rocker "Mistreated", rightful done by the band.
With "Live On Fire" you can't go wrong especially when you're a fan of the Hard Rock pioneers from the late seventies / earlier eighties.
Axel Rudi Pell's band delivers a honest, entertaining live show through their own catalogue with a slight emphasis on their latest work, but above all takes you back to the times of abundant soloing for all, stretched medleys and a little bit of improvising, all in the emotion of an uncut, untouched full live show.
Something of which I can't get enough when it's done with this top notch musicianship and feeling.
01. The Guillotine Suite (intro)
02. Ghost In The Black
03. Strong As A Rock
04. Before I Die
05. The Masquerade Ball / Casbah / Dreaming Dead /
Whole Lotta Love / Dreaming Dead
06. Drum Solo
07. Mystica / Mistreated / Mystica
08. Oceans Of Time
09. Circle Of The Oath
10. Fool Fool
11. Keyboard Solo / Carousel / Jam / Carousel
12. Tear Down The Walls / Nasty Reputation
13. Rock The Nation
Johnny Gioeli - Lead Vocals
Axel Rudi Pell - Guitar
Ferdy Doernberg - Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Volker Krawczak - Bass, Backing Vocals
Mike Terrana - Drums
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British AOR institution FM originally planned the release of their new recording 'Rockville' as a double CD set, but finally each album are available separately. We have presented here the first, now it's time for "Rockville II", just released today.
"Rockville II" features ten new tracks including a new recording of the song "High" which was originally made by Steve Overland and Pete Jupp as SO! for their 'Brass Monkey' album.
They loved this song so much and wanted to give it the FM treatment, and "High" opens the CD in a really smooth way, easy to the ears.
Now with most second CD's on albums these days there is a marked decrease in the quality of the songs but not in this case as the band serve up something special, and with songs such as the soaring melodic rocker "Bad Addiction" and the top class AOR of "Guilty", FM have released some of their best work ever. I even feel that "Guilty" would be playlisted by most of the main commercial radio stations out there.
Another winner is the awesome "Living for The Weekend", particularly tagged by their '80s sound out of their early period - but never sounding dated - showing their gifts for writing and composing are still intact.
With the addition of a couple of cuts deviated a little from that line, like the fat guitar riffage of the heaviest track on the album "Runaway Train" or with the unexpected final song "Last Chance Saloon" garnished with some organic bluesy melodious guitars, FM had provided again a full collection of classy songs to give many proofs once again of their sheer talent writing good, memorable songs.
FM and AOR lovers out there rejoice, because this second part of "Rockville" is the perfect listening companion to his predecessor. In fact, I think it's even better as covers the whole spectrum of the FM style with class.
In reality, "Rockville II" is a real comeback to their childhood's roots, also the perfect demonstration of the FM creative turmoil.
The faultless production is incredibly warm, organic but very clear and polished in the most elegant way you could imagine.
01 - High
02 - Bad Addiction
03 - Guilty
04 - Desolation Station
05 - Runaway Train
06 - Living for the Weekend
07 - Forever and A Day
08 - Paradise Highway
09 - Brother Take Me Home
10 - Last Chance Saloon
Steve Overland – Vocals & Guitars
Jim Kirkpatrick – Guitars & Backing Vocals
Merv Goldsworthy – Bass & Backing Vocals
Pete Jupp – Drums & Backing Vocals
Jem Davis – Keyboards
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Saturday, March 23, 2013
German musician Tobias Sammet fronts the humorous, high energy heavy metal band Edguy, but since 2000 the man has been developing a side project: AVANTASIA, which has unveiled his latest opus "The Mystery Of Time" to be released next week.
There's not many occasions where a side project not only has become equally, if not more popular than the main project but the material has grown superior. That is what has happened with Tobias Sammet's Avantasia. While Edguy is straightforward metal, Avantasia is much more grandiose exploring melodious symphonic elements and the material is epic in scale.
I liked the previous works from this project, but "The Mystery Of Time" is just sensational, as this time Sammet goes for more a (Melodic) Hard Rock territory.
For this new effort he has called truly legendary singers from the genre; Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween, Unisonic), Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids), Joe Lynn Turner (ex-Rainbow), Biff Byford (Saxon), Eric Martin (MR. BIG) and Bob Catley (Magnum). Also there's guitar parts from Oliver Hartmann, Arjen Anthony Lucassen and Bruce Kulick.
The remarkable thing in this recording is that these stellar guests not only provide their 'big names' to the front sticker, they are truly part of the final product delivering jaw dropping performances.
Again the one and only Michael Kiske steals the spotlight, as his contribution is outstanding especially on the spectacular up-tempo "Where Clock Hands Freeze". The chorus is glorious and gorgeous as his voice is majestic and soaring. This track is a truly magical moment and a crowning achievement in Avantasia's catalogue.
"Black Orchid" shows that Biff Byfford is much more versatile than a simply metal veteran, while Joe Lynn Turner go to the extreme of his lungs on the feverous "The Watchmakers' Dream".
Legendary Pretty Maids singer Ronnie Atkins throaty growl is the perfect foil for Sammet’s crystal clear voice on the first single "Invoke the Machine". One of the best singers over the last 30 years, Atkins makes the most of his appearance and has one of the best performances on the record. Another quick paced track that features some jaw dropping guitar work from Oliver Hartmann and Sascha Paeth punctuates one of Avantasia’s stronger tracks.
The tender moments of "Sleepwalking" and "What's Left of Me" are breathtaking. The latter shows Eric Martin showcasing his incredible vocal range and a beautiful power ballad is born. Another magnificent chorus rings out and the two vocalists out duel each other in a beautiful arrangement.
"Sleepwalking" showcases unknown female vocalist Cloudy Yang stealing the spotlight as we are treated to a compassionate vocal performance that could very well be on modern radio.
And for the end we have the epic ten-minute closer "The Great Mystery", a monster composition with an awesome mixture of rhythms, atmospheres, riffs, memorable choruses, a symphonic orchestra behind and the great Bob Catley from Magnum sharing leads with Turner, Byford and Tobias.
"The Mystery of Time" is another incredibly strong release by Tobias Sammet's Avantasia, displaying his creativity at its peak and with a band sounding tightest than ever.
Production is excellent and all singers / musicians invited are much more than mere 'guests', they really gives this album a true identity.
I would love to see Sammet concentrate full time on this band. He has already said there's "The Mystery Of Time Part II" in the making and I anxiously await its release.
01. Spectres (feat. Joe Lynn Turner)
02. The Watchmakers' Dream (feat. Joe Lynn Turner)
03. Black Orchid (feat. Biff Byford)
04. Where Clock Hands Freeze (feat. Michael Kiske)
05. Sleepwalking (feat. Cloudy Yang)
06. Savior In The Clockwork (feat. Turner, Byford, Kiske)
07. Invoke The Machine (feat. Ronnie Atkins)
08. What's Left Of Me (feat. Eric Martin)
09. Dweller In A Dream (feat. Michael Kiske)
10. The Great Mystery (feat. Turner, Byford & Bob Catley)
Tobias Sammet - vocals, bass guitar
Sascha Paeth - guitars, producer
Miro - keyboards
Russell Gilbrook - drums
Bruce Kulick (on tracks 3, 6, 10)
Oliver Hartmann (on tracks 4, 7, 9)
Arjen Anthony Lucassen (on track 2)
Joe Lynn Turner (on tracks 1, 2, 6, 10)
Michael Kiske (Unisonic) (on tracks 4, 6, 9)
Biff Byford (Saxon) (on tracks 3, 6, 10)
Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids) (on track 7)
Eric Martin (Mr. Big) (on track 8)
Bob Catley (Magnum) (on track 10)
Cloudy Yang (on track 5)
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Thursday, March 21, 2013
"Head On" is regarded as the most important album by one-time NWOBHM scene leaders SAMSON.
However, there's only two typical NWOBHM tracks here, as founder Paul Samson was determined to expand the band's sound to a more traditional British Hard Rock.
"Head On" is being reissued with original artwork - 16 page booklet - freshly remastered by Cherry Red, an UK label lately doing a really interesting job in that matter.
This album is, essentially, Bruce Dickinson's first foray in to the serious world of music, and for all his freshman status, it doesn't show at all. Quite blatantly, "Head On" may even feature some of the greatest performances by 'Bruce Bruce' (his stage name at the moment) throughout his career.
The disc also displays Paul Samson’s considerable talent as a guitarist and songwriter, reinforcing the loss to the metal community due to his death in 2002, aged just 49.
Bassist Chris Aylmer and crazy drummer Thunderstick completed the line-up. Thunderstick was an essential member in this band, not only for his particular playing using two sticks in each hand and opting for a dry snare sound, but also for his strong stage presence disguising his identity by wearing S&M masks and playing live locked in a steel cage.
Thunderstick is also who stares at you frighteningly while wielding a hatchet on the album's cover. But despite the crass artwork, "Head On" boasts a breadth of writing and playing ability above much that the NOWBHM movement had to offer.
The overall sound is rather cliche of the emerging Hard Rock in UK in those years, but somehow, in Samson, there just seems to be something more there. All of the choruses are catchy enough to hang in your mind for days, and the sense of fun is ever present.
The less than typical "Vice Versa" is a highlight, a nice slow paced cut which showcases some strong Bruce vocals. Drums are nice and reverby - totally '80s tom sound! - and bass is fat and well-rounded; the recording quality really shines through on this head-nodding, crisp track. The simple, strummed guitars phrase excellently with the passionate vocal performance, with Bruce executing his trademark, slicing nasty notes.
"Thunderburst" is an interesting listen. Co-written by Steve Harris and later recorded by Iron Maiden re-entitled as 'Ides Of March' on their Killers LP, it certainly sounds great given the production on the album, and serves as a perfect interlude before the relative onslaught that is "Hammerhead".
Another memorable tune is the progressively tinged "Walking Out on You", exploring a very rich, developed sound leading in with ghostly whispers to the sound of a thumping bass for about a solid minute until Thunderstick and Paul Samson boom in and Dickinson cries out before delving back into the slow, steady groove and transitioning back into the quicker and slower paces creating a musical flux laced with emotion.
The only two NWOBHM styled tracks are "Take It Like a Man" and "Too Close to Rock", as the rest are straightforward hard rockers. In "Take Me to Your Leader" and "Hunted" Paul Samson works out nice guitar melodies showing why he was the driving force behind on of the more successful UK hard rock bands in the '80s.
We have two bonuses; the hard rock fantasy of "Angel With a Machine Gun", and "Kingsway Jam" which as titles says, is an almost ten minute jam session with riffs galore, crazy percussion sounds and vocal sections that range from straightforward to spoken. At places, Dickinson manages to hit notes that seems to be gone from him by the time of Iron Maiden's Number of the Beast (spare, perhaps, some semblance of it towards the end of 'Run to the Hills').
"Head On" is a classic. These days may look musically dated but it represents an era, and this Cherry Red remaster is truly good, clear and meaty.
Although I prefer the more polished follower 'Shock Tactics', "Head On" is a milestone in traditional British Hard Rock, hitting the general album chart at number 34 back in a day, showing the fun, good-timey vibe that Samson was known for in this early phase.
Every house should have a copy in their classic hard rock collection.
01 - Hard Times
02 - Take It Like A Man
03 - Vice Versa
04 - Manwatcher
05 - Too Close To Rock
06 - Thunderburst
07 - Hammerhead
08 - Hunted
09 - Take Me To Your Leader
10 - Walking Out On You
11 - Angel With A Machine Gun (Bonus Track)
12 - Kingsway Jam [Loger Version] (Bonus Track)
"Bruce Bruce" Dickinson – vocals
Paul Samson – guitar, backing vocals
Chris Aylmer – bass
Thunderstick (Barry Graham) – drums, backing vocals
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