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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Sunday, March 31, 2013
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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The iconic and influential bluesy hard rock / southern-tingled American band THE BLACK CROWES are reunited again, planning a world tour and releasing a new album: "Wiser For The Time".
The record is available exclusively on vinyl and as a digital download, but the latter with 2 tracks less. The mammoth eight sides on four vinyl albums contains 26 songs (15 acoustic and 11 electric) from the band's five-night, sold-out New York City performances in the fall of 2010.
"Wiser For The Time" is a very special recording.
I don't take this one as 'another live' because the Crowes not only were obviously ON at this point of the tour, they also present here some of their songs never officially released as "Exit" or the dramatic "Title Song". They also do a great version of Bob Dylan's "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You".
The acoustic set sounds organic, all featuring North Mississippi All-Stars frontman Luther Dickinson (who recorded and toured with the Crowes from 2007-2010) on lead guitar, while the electric part is really up-front with Rich Robinson's solos really noticeable in the mix.
I strongly recommend this 'vinyl version' as it features exclusively 2 tracks; a long and vibrant take on "Only Halfway to Everywhere" and "My Morning Song / Stare It Cold" blended into one.
You get a Lift Off Box containing four 180g Black & White Marble coloured vinyls which looks pretty darn cool and sounds & play smoothly.
The Black Crowes are an awesome, great rock 'n roll band that has stayed true to themselves & their fans for over 25 years. "Wiser For The Time" it is a clear proof of that.
01 - Cursed Diamond
02 - Sister Luck
03 - Smile
04 - Downtown Money Waster
05 - Hot Burrito #1
06 - Hot Burrito #2
07 - Garden Gate
08 - Better When You're Not Alone
09 - Darling of the Underground Press
10 - Jealous Again
11 - Hotel Illness
12 - Thunderstorm
13 - Oh the Rain
01 - Soul Singing
02 - Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You
03 - Exit
04 - No Speak No Slave
05 - Only Halfway to Everywhere (vinyl only)
06 - A Conspiracy
07 - Title Song
08 - My Morning Song / Stare It Cold (vinyl only)
09 - Tied Up And Swallowed
10 - Make Glad
11 - Waiting Gulity
12 - She Talks to Angels
13 - Willin'
14 - Under A Mountain (non album track - Fan Club only)
Chris Robinson - lead vocals, guitar
Rich Robinson - guitar, vocals
Steve Gorman - drums, percussion
Sven Pipien - bass
Adam MacDougall - keyboards
Jackie Greene - guitar, vocals
Luther Dickinson - acoustic lead guitar
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Tuesday, March 19, 2013
It's a real shame that one of the best albums in the whole AOR Melodic Hard Rock history was never been properly released on CD. We're talking about "31 Days" by English rockers SHOGUN.
Now guitarist Danny Gwilym claims to be releasing this and the band's self titled debut in a remastered form, but the truth is the original tapes were lost in a flood aeons ago, and the transfer must be done from vinyl. Additionally, there's no place to buy his CD version, only a couple surfaced on eBay some weeks ago (sold by himself).
Fortunately, there's as well a new edition (not sanctioned by Shogun) by UK label Krescendo available for everyone since last week.
The story tells that, after recorded the successful debut album with Tokyo Blade, singer Alan Marsh was fired due artistic discrepances. Together with former Chinatown guitar player Danny Gwilym, Marsh formed Shogun during 1984, a name referring to his knowledge and respect for the Oriental culture.
One year later, Shogun released their debut, a very good rocking disc blending Tokyo Blade's NWOBHM melodic sounds with some Def Leppard re-runs.
In 1987 the band recruited ex-Tokyo Blade rhythm section Andy Wrighton (bass) & Steve Pearce (drums) and sign to Jet Records before releasing their second album "31 Days".
"31 Days" shows Shogun updating the songwriting, moving to a more Americanized and melodic sound, still retaining the typical British scent.
The result was this first class keyboard driven Melodic Hard Rock / AOR album with powerful guitars and soaring vocals recalling the style of UK bands like Shy, Peroux and Moritz, or international acts such as White Sister, Skagarack and Surgin.
Just listen the awesome opener "Cloak And Dagger" as an example: this is a pure, classic rockin' AOR delight which has got a White Sister vibe happening throughout. Or the tantalizing synth flurries in the melodic "Love Is A Game", a top class tune with an infectious chorus.
This is the second press of "31 Days", where a couple of tracks were remixed by Bob Ezrin (The Babys, Kiss, Hurricane); the killer ballad "Voices From The Heart" and the MHR anthem "Out Of Love Again".
Obviously taken from vinyl, this reissue of "31 Days" is a more than a decent digital transfer by Krescendo Records of this British MHR / AOR classic, cult album.
A Must Have.
01 - Cloak and Dagger
02 - Shock to the Heart
03 - Voices from the Heart [Bob Ezrin remix]
04 - You are what You are
05 - Love is a Game
06 - Cold Truth
07 - If Tomorrow Comes
08 - Can't Live Without Your Love
09 - First Time
10 - Out of Love Again [Bob Ezrin remix]
Alan Marsh - lead and backing vocals
Danny Gwilym - guitars, backing vocals
Ian Marshall - keyboards, backing vocals
Andy Wrighton - bass, backing vocals
Steve Pierce - drums, percussion
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Released at the end of past year, "Bright Obscurity" is the debut album from young new Progressive metal outfit LIQUID RAIN which is already garnering much acclaim world-wide for its fresh take on the classic stylings of the genre.
Hailing from Berna, Switzerland, the group was founded in 2009 by guitarist Dario Colombo and keyboardist Cyril Stoller and they have a big sound -- mostly focused on setting up killer, often really heavy grooves and melodies that allow the band to really stretch out but not in a showy way.
They do have some vocals reminiscent of the great Russell Allen (just more gritty), as well as a guest female singer on two of the songs, and have an amazing knack for coming up with really interesting ideas that fit so well together.
"Bright Obscurity" is a clever title as the songwriting - particularly the lyrics - are gifted for terminology, the guys surely have a soft spot for playing with words, puns and methodical semantic technical like the Oxymoron.
For such a young band, their music is highly polished and extremely well composed. The opener "The Crooked Path of Life" starts with a great heavy melody that keeps building in intensity with elaborated guitar and keyboard lines over powerful, heavy hooks and has just the perfect intense low-end piano figure near the end of the song.
"Fast Food" is another great hook-filled song that has a great acoustic Spanish guitar part near the end. "Homeless" is almost catchy and commercial (there's a radio edit version for promotion), while the instrumental "Colored Darkness" is plenty of guitar/keys battles with fine melodies.
On the beautiful power ballad "So Far Away" they have a guest female vocalist; Janine Hulliger, the lead singer of another Swiss prog metal band Fragment of Symmetry and who I believe is the sister of the band's drummer.
She's also the singer on the closing epic "System of Illusion" which is divided in four parts (not too long each), and like all epics goes through many changes with polyrhythmic drumming, guitar breaks and synth infusions augmented by a sax player building to a powerful climax.
There are so many great ideas on "Bright Obscurity" from a band evolving in a quite biased style even if their musical range is spreading up, above and all over the Prog Metal genre, so it's easy to name the different influences from Dream Theater to Allen-Lande to Ayreon with the huge prominence of synthetic soundscapes.
For those of you a bit disappointed by the new, more stripped-down direction of some classic Prog Metal bands (Circus Maximus for example), then Liquid Rain might just be the band for you, as their layers are really heavy at places, but they also know how to write great sophisticated interludes in their songs.
The self-handled production is fine while the mixing by Simon Beck is very clean, maybe a little clinical but very precise and professional.
I could be wrong but I'd be hard pressed to name any Progressive Metal groups from Switzerland (unless of course you count some periods of legends Celtic Frost) so Liquid Rain might just be leading the way to new Prog scene out of their country.
"Bright Obscurity" is a solid, sharp, true Prog Metal album.
1. The Crooked Path of Life
2. The Ordeal
3. Fast Food
5. So Far Away
6. Colored Darkness
7. Rising from Seclusion
8. System of Illusions:
Dario Colombo – Guitars
Jeff Zopfi – Bass
Cyril Stoller – Keyboards
Roman Hulliger – Drums
Janine Hulliger – Lead Vocals
Norbert Suppiger – Lead Vocals
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Monday, March 18, 2013
If there was in Canada two pioneer Hard Rock bands since the beginning of the '80s we have to mention Helix, largely the most successful commercially, but also we got Killer Dwarfs, who managed to garner cult status over the years with their more straight forward, energetic blue-collar Hard Rock.
Front man RUSS DWARF is returning with several projects in the works, the first to grace us is "Wireless" which, as the title suggests, is a collection of unplugged and re-worked Killer Dwarf classics.
Unplugged albums live and die with the voice, and despite decades of commanding the stage with the elegance of a homeless drunk and often ending up on his head, Russ Dwarf still has the vocal chords needed to make "Wireless" work.
The recording opens with "Keep The Spirit Alive", one of the Dwarf's biggest hits and the acoustic treatment this song received is simply brilliant. Maintaining all the power and energy of the original this unplugged version is fresh and alive, taking you on an emotional ride.
Next comes "Stand Tall" featuring a great solo from Mr. Glen Drover (Megadeth, Geoff Tate's Queensryche), followed by "Starting To Shine" (where Russ shines indeed), "Doesn't Matter" and "Coming Through", all very true to the original versions.
The big surprise for me came on track seven, "Dirty Weapons" a mellowed out rendition of this great tune, redone with a hauntingly dark and moody arrangement that totally gives a new dimension to the song.
Closing the CD is one of my all time favorite Killer Dwarf tunes, "Drifting Back". This track is perfect for an acoustic album and Russ called on a friend to add a little spice to it: Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal (Guns N' Roses).
Killer Dwarfs' front man Russ Dwarf has released an absolutely terrific acoustic fresh recording that grips your attention from the first track to the very last.
Personally I find that unplugged albums either work well or totally crash and burn. "Wireless" fits in the first appreciation, without sacrificing the energy of the original electric versions, totally nailing their essence and giving to them a new spark.
Production is damn near perfect for this type of products with warm and clear acoustic guitars accompanying one of Canada's greatest Rock voices. Russ is blessed with one of those instantly familiar throats and unlike many vocalists of his era, he hasn't lost a step.
As his biggest hit says, Russ Dwarf still "Keep The Spirit Alive", showing no signs of slowing down as a solo artist with more projects coming soon.
01. Keep The Spirit Alive
02. Stand Tall
03. I'm Alive
04. Startin' To Shine
05. Doesn't Matter
06. Comin' Through
07. Dirty Weapons
08. Look Around
09. Four Seasons
10. Driftin' Back
Russ Dwarf - vocals
Glenn Belcher - guitar, sitar
Rob 'Zaks' Zakojc - bass and backing vocals
Glen Drover - guitar (2)
Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal - guitar (10)
Kevin Simpson - guitar
Dan Lear - guitar
Kevin Reid - guitar
Cosimo Crupi - keyboards
Fred Duvall - percussion
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SPEED STROKE is a new Hard Rock band from Bologna, Italy, formed in 2010 by guitarists D.B. and Niko, two known musicians in Italian Rock/Metal scene, also producers of many underground groups in the area.
Their self titled, rockin' debut just has been released in Europe few days ago.
Speed Stroke toured extensively and they were invited in 2011 to participate in Dave Lepard's tribute performing the song 'Riot in Everyone', one of the best covers of the disc.
Stylistically the band has recognizable influences, but essentially Speed Stroke plays American Hard Rock with some Euro sleaze influences mainly in the choruses.
The stars of the recording are the sharp guitars delivered in a wall of layers that truly rocks. The good thing is both are really well complemented and mixed resulting in an impactful attack never sounding muddy or noisy. Speed Stroke's sound is completed by a hard hitting rhythm section and the incisive vocals of young singer Jack.
The overall sound on this disc is sweaty, energetic yet polished hard rock with attitude.
Opener "Sick Of You" is a gritty, sleazy hard rocker plenty of street gang vocals all over and killer stabbing guitars. The middle section fight between the rhythm six-strings and the soloing rocks.
"Nothing's True" is more bluesy-hard constructed in the American way with melodious guitars, same with the cowbell-fueled "Lookin' Down".
With track four arrives the first ballad, and the only weak moment on this recording. It's a nice cut musically, but Jack's forced vocal performance ruins the song. I think the composition was wrongfully arranged for his pipes, because on the other slow tune on the album, "Shine", all works fine.
Talking about "Shine", this sweet tune driven by a simple acoustics and cool orchestrated strings is cleverly placed in the track 8 slot giving some rest to the listener.
Rest, because Speed Stroke does not let recover your breath with a cascade of hard melting rockers such the killer "Out Of The Pen", the highlight for me. It has an assassin riff a la Shotgun Messiah and a powerful chorus, while the solo is hot are really outstanding.
It's followed by the party-like "One Day Is Enough" and the short and aggressive "Trust Me, I Care", where some Hanoi Rocks can be heard. "Age Of Rock 'n' Roll" is an ode to the genre sonically reminding Jettblack, whilst "Flesh & Nerve" adds some melodic sleaze to the proceedings in the Crashdiet vein.
"Speed Strokes Of Fire" is a one and a half minute fun re-work on the 'Great Balls of Fire' Jerry Lee Lewis classic, and then the album ends with the groovy, almost sensual riffage of "The Hunt".
"Speed Stroke" is a solid, energetic debut by these Italian rockers.
While the songs follow the traditional Hard Rock / Sleaze patterns, the band sounds fresh and truly tight delivering twelve enjoyable tracks to rock your backyard party.
The stupendous guitar work really makes the difference here, hot, valvular, melodic and sweaty, but technical and punctuating when needed with pin up rhythms and some monster solos by D.B., who also is at charge of the very slick production.
"Speed Stroke" rocks, and rocks really good.
01 - Sick Of You
02 - Nothing's True
03 - Lookin' Down
04 - Burning Heart
05 - Out Of The Pen
06 - One Day Is Enough
07 - Trust Me, I Care
08 - Shine
09 - Age Of Rock 'n' Roll
10 - Flesh & Nerve
11 - Speed Strokes Of Fire
12 - The Hunt
Jack - lead and backing vocals
D.B. - lead guitar, backing vocals
Niko - guitar, backing vocals
Fungo - bass
Neb - drums, percussion
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Saturday, March 16, 2013
CRUSH is a brand new Swedish AOR band founded in the spring of 2012 consisting of three experienced members -according to the press sheet- who appeared in various well known bands over the years.
To arouse curiosity about them, the band members' identities are kept secret until further notice.
Crush is recording their debut album, and the advanced single "In A Blink Of An Eye" was just presented to promote the band, not for sale.
The song is a fine soft Scandi AOR ballad with typical '80s sounds. Surely the track is in its demo form as needs production improvement, but it is a nice introduction to Crush's intentions.
Let's keep an eye on them.
In A Blink Of An Eye (5:23)
Lead vocals - Unknown
Guitars and vocals - Unknown
Bass and vocals - Unknown
Keyboards and vocals - Unknown
Drums - Unknown
Not for sale
Friday, March 15, 2013
Rock 'N Roll is all over the world without a doubt. Hailing from Luxembourg - a country better known for its banking industry than its Classic Rock talent - comes the MICHAEL SHEPERD BAND. They have been together for more than 15 years touring central Europe, playing in Festivals and opening for Gotthard amongst others.
The band's self titled debut was released in 2002, and now the MSB are presenting their first international album simply titled "Michael Shepherd Band II".
Listening to the album, one easily can assume the Michael Shepherd Band could have emerged from London town or cities like Detroit and Los Angeles sometime in the eighties.
Michael Shepherd Band plays a fully-fledged Classic Rock in the vein of vintage Whitesnake, Bad Company and Journey. While their seventies influences from the likes of Free, Thin Lizzy and Lynyrd Skynyrd echoes in their sound, most of the music in "II" range from stadium and radio anthems to raunchy rockers blended with bluesy ballads.
The guys in Michael Shepherd Band have learned the lesson with wisdom, adding thier own touch to the proceedings.
Singer (and guitar player) Baba has a voice recalling Johnny Van Zant's most melodic era, while the multi-layered Les Paul guitars all over these tracks are fueled by the characteristic valvular-powered amp sounds of the genre.
Single and opener "This Time Around" delivers classic melodies with interesting guitar arrangements and a chorus reinforced by many (mostly female) backing vocalists. Really good tune sporting a solid six-string solo as well.
Some tracks go for melodic rock bounce like "Days Of Thunder" (with a flamboyant solo) and the Journey influenced "Reach For The Sky". Others are more heavy as the groovy "U Can Do What U Want" and "Gambler" (WhiteSnake anyone?) while "Mistery Woman" is a whisky-soaked bluesy midtempo with nice atmosphere.
"Beautiful" is indeed a beauty ballad but my preferred is the organic "Badlands", a very good one with a slightly Southern feel.
"Michael Shepherd Band II" is a really well rounded Classic Rock CD with some traditional bluesy Hard Rock elements.
Good songs, musicianship and production from a band clearly stating that Real Rock is alive & kicking all over the world, even there in Luxembourg.
This album celebrates a time when true Rock music ruled the airwaves and a new TV channel called MTV was just about to take off. A time when 'Rock Of Ages' was a song and not a musical, guitar solos became the religion of a new breed of guitar heroes that changed rock music forever while vocalists such as Paul Rodgers, Steve Perry and David Coverdale were setting the bar pretty high for any future legends.
"Michael Shepherd Band II" goes for that, not as pure nostalgia exercise, just with Classic Rock in their veins.
01 - This Time Around
02 - Days Of Thunder
03 - Beautiful
04 - Reach For The Sky
05 - Mistery Woman
06 - Gambler
07 - Heartache & Booze
08 - Badlands
09 - U Can Do What U Want
10 - Long Way From Home
11 - This Time Around (Radio Edit)
Baba - Vocals, Guitars
Kuji Kujawa - Guitars
Pablo Reuter - Bass
Gilles - Keyboards, Hammond B3
Lupo - Drums, Percussion
Jil Pintsch, Raquel Barreira, Sonja Hewer, Louis Wright - Backing Vocals
AOR icon STAN BUSH is preparing a new album to be released next Summer, and meanwhile he has a new single out: "Thunder In Your Heart".
"Thunder In Your Heart" was the main theme from the cult movie RAD (1986) originally recorded by John Farnham for the film soundtrack.
Stan's version captures all the magic of the '80s with crunchy guitars, 'that' synths and of course his signature, soaring melodic vocals.
The track is being used by GameStop in a spot promoting the new Tomb Raider game.
Essential song for AORsters. Just love this stuff!!!
Thunder In Your Heart (3:39)
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Thursday, March 14, 2013
Tattooed, long haired bikers and hard rockers LITTLE CEASAR were one of the best bands in the genre emerged in Los Angeles at the end of the eighties.
Signed by a major label (Geffen) for their full length debut in 1990 the band enjoyed considerable success in the US, but they should have been huge.
Before that, Little Caesar's storming shows caught the attention of Metal Blade Records, giving the band the opportunity to record a song for the label's compilation 'Street Survivors', featuring unsigned bands from the Bay Area.
Soon after, Metal Blade decided to pump the band and Little Caesar released the EP "Name Your Poison", which helped them get signed to Geffen later.
Many Hard Rock enthusiasts (including me) define this EP as the best material Little Caesar has ever released. Not only the songs are real corkers, the sound and attitude in these four tracks exudes the 'real' Californian Hard Rock spirit.
Now, the band, after their return last year decided to progressively reissue their entire catalogue in digital format via the indie company Dirty Deeds.
And you can't miss "Name Your Poison".
I own the original, long time deleted '89 EP-CD (a collectors item) and trust me, the remaster job freshly done in these tracks is fabulous.
This is a Highly Recommended stuff people. ROCKS.
01. Name Your Poison
02. Tastes Good To Me
03. God's Creation
04. Tears Don't Lie
Ron Young - lead vocals
Louren Molinare - guitar, backing vocals
Apache - guitar, backing vocals
Fidel Paniagua - bass, backing vocals
Tom Morris - drums, percussion
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Not too often a band have an album out and then nine months later they release a new version of it. This is the case with GREAT WHITE presenting a newly remixed version of the band's latest studio album Elation, re-entitled "Elation : George Tutko Remixes".
"Elation" was originally released on May 18, 2012 with production and mixing being handled by guitarist/keyboardist Michael Lardie.
The CD, featuring new vocalist Terry Illous, received positive reviews by the press and was warmly embraced by fans. The only complaint was the fact that some liveliness of previous studio recordings of the band seemed lost at the mixing desk.
When “Hard to Say Goodbye” - the first single from the album - were prepared to its video release, Terry Illous suggested a remix for the track to make an exclusive 'video-mix'. He knew engineer George Tutko who did one album with XYZ, Illous' first band.
After Tutko did the new remix of the song from the master tracks, all Great White members were perplexed how much better it sounded than the original. Then they asked him to do the whole record.
George Tutko is some kind of magician. Having perfected his skills for years with awesome producer Roy Thomas Baker, Tutko has done miracles in the past revitalizing material to Journey for their Greatest Hits albums, Kiss' Box set, Rod Stewart's Sessions 1971-1998 and many more.
He also has been the engineer on great recordings such as Eric Martin's 'I'm Only Fooling Myself', Ozzy's 'Prince of Darkness', Kiss 'Revenge', XYZ's 'Hungry', Quireboys 'A Bit of What You Fancy', The Storm, Two Fires, and the list continues.
In short; the result on Great White's "Elation" is truly surprising. The band's traditional vibrant sound now really sparks with this new mix.
You'll hear a world of difference; guitars now up front sharp, vocals are more clear and the rhythm section definitely sounds way better.
I don't know why Great White didn't called this great engineer in first place (surely rushed by their label) but never it's too late: "Elation - George Tutko Remixes" sounds like it should be now.
Give it a try and then tell me.
Note: this version it is available only in digital format and for limited time. Get it before it become a collectors item.
01 - (I've Got) Something For You
02 - Feelin' So Much Better
03 - Love Train
04 - Heart Of A Man
05 - Hard To Say Goodbye
06 - Resolution
07 - Shotgun Willie's
08 - Promise Land
09 - Lowdown (Bonus Track)
10 - Just For Tonight
11 - Love Is Enough
12 - Complicated
Terry Ilous: vocals
Mark Kendall: guitar
Michael Lardie: guitar, keyboards
Scott Snyder: bass
Audie Desbrow: drums
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Californian rockers BUCKCHERRY are in the music business for nearly twenty years now, scoring several Billboard hits and obtaining Platinum certification sales. But Buckcherry have long been a band which I could take or leave – to be honest, it's mostly been leave.
Their new, sixth release titled "Confessions" has changed that for the most part.
Buckcherry have finally made an album which I can really get my teeth into. Perhaps it's because from suggestions of the band's new label (Century Media) or simply the group decided to give more maturity to their music.
You see, not only does "Confessions" contain some of Buckcherry's strongest songwriting to date, the band's playing is also a step above their previous releases.
The lyrics are more mature than the usual gratuitous swearing. Interestingly, and I know you've worked it out from the song titles, the seven deadly sins are up for discussion here. Some of the texts are quite profound and self-searching as in the opening verse of "Pride". Those looking for 'Crazy Bitch' part two, won't find it on "Confessions".
What you will find however are some well crafted songs that rock pretty good.
Just for once, "Confessions" even finds me warming to vocalist Josh Todd. He sounds really weary at times and his voice has become more worn over the years, which suits the material well.
Musically, the band seems to be thriving with more solid song structures, more elaborate riffs and some variation in the rhythms.
Sticking with the recipe that has garnered them widespread fame and chart success would have been hardly unwise, and Buckcherry have understood this clearly.
I think "Confessions" is Buckcherry's strongest and more listenable work ever. Undeniably, the most mature and musical album recorded by the L.A. based quintet, quite dynamic, thoughtful and well executed.
01 - Gluttony
02 - Wrath
03 - Nothing Left But Tears
04 - The Truth
05 - Greed
06 - Water
07 - Seven Ways To Die
08 - Air
09 - Sloth
10 - Pride
11 - Envy
12 - Lust
13 - Dreamin' Of You
14 - Give 'Em What They Want (Bonus Track)
15 - When The Fire Starts (Bonus Track)
Josh Todd – vocals
Keith Nelson – guitar, backing vocals
Stevie D. – guitar, backing vocals
Jimmy Ashhurst – bass, backing vocals
Xavier Muriel – drums, percussion
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Formed in 2001 by musicians from the Røyken, Hurum and Asker area in Norway, THE WINDMILL is a very traditional Prog Rock band with some Neo Prog and Folk influences.
"The Continuation" is the band's second effort after seven years since their debut, an artisan piece of work full of magical progressive melodic sounds.
Despite opening track, the relatively short instrumental "... Continuation" explores some melodic modern Neo Prog territories, the music developed by The Windmill in the compositions to come are clearly influenced by the first generation of Norwegian progressive bands from the seventies.
That means classic Prog with ascendancy from the English old school like Focus, Yes, Camel and inevitably Pink Floyd, mixed with other sounds from European acts such as Eloy and Machiavel.
Track two, "The Masque" is divided in three parts. The first links with the opening number in the slightly Neo approach, blending Arena with a little bit of Alan Parsons on his memorable albums. It is in part II where The Windmill starts to show their Classic Prog heart, with vintage keys, guitars and flute in a really interesting counterpoint.
Part III enters even more in traditional Prog with some excellent melodies provided by full melodious electric guitars, some wonderful acoustic spanish guitars ala Yes and Hammond organs in the background. The musicianship on this last part is particularly impressive and an album highlight.
Next song "Not Alone" is somehow epic, not for the virtuosity, but for the the revival of the true, original seventies Prog atmosphere. It's a laid back composition with relaxed medieval vocals, flutes all over, a spacial (and very clever) guitar solo and a dreamy chorus.
"Giant Prize" is a short uptempo track with some poppy rhythms recalling eighties Eloy. The song provides a good variation to the album, but I don't like much the vocals of guitarist Erik Borgen, in his only leads on the entire disc. I prefer main singer Jean Robert Viita by far, owner of a baritone register exactly fitting The Windmill's style.
Stirring synths opens last composition "The Gamer", which in fact it is the second half of the album, as includes many parts constructing a beautiful musical journey.
From the enchanting mix of keys, flute and harmony vocals of part I to the Fish / Marillion-like of the last part, this long track features great duels between all instruments in a melodic vein, never 'soloing', just building a solid interplay to the benefit of the musical delivery. An unique approach again of this wonderful pure Prog band.
Windmill's "The Continuation" is very big surprise for this reviewer and fan of good, traditional, classic Progressive music.
Their style hearkens back to the past and yet doesn't sound dated. All songs have something unique, cleverly arranged and very professionally played by these Norwegian top musicians.
The Windmill is a band that slipped under my radar, but after listening "The Continuation" I am eager to get their debut CD and keep informed about of the next steps of this fascinating Scandinavian prog act.
1. ... The Continuation
2. The Masque:
a) Part I
b) Part II
c) Part III
3. Not Alone
4. Giant Prize
5. The Gamer:
a) Part I
b) Part II
c) Part III
d) Part IV
e) Part V
Jean Robert Viita - vocals, keyboards
Erik Borgen - guitars, vocals
Stig Andre Clason - guitars
Morten Clason - flute, guitars, vocals, keyboards
Arnfinn Isaksen - bass
Sam Arne Noland - drums
Brian McNeil (Braveheart) - lyrics
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Founder member of Whitesnake, and with Micky Moody one of the two guitarists during the band's classic era, BERNIE MARSDEN already enjoyed an illustrious career having been guitarist in Wild Turkey, Cozy Powell’s Hammer, Babe Ruth, UFO and Paice Ashton Lord (PAL), a band featuring ex-Deep Purple and future Whitesnake members Ian Paice and Jon Lord.
"Look At Me Now", Marsden’s second solo album - made whilst he was still a full-time member of Whitesnake - is now being reissued, digitally remastered for the first time and featuring the original cover painting plus the rare non-album (single b-side) "Always Love You So" as bonus track.
"Look At Me Now" is a bluesy hard rocking affair featuring several tracks that easily could have been included in any Whitesnake album.
You can't go wrong with all the stellar musicians in this recording: Jon Lord (Deep Purple, Whitesnake) on keyboards, Neil Murray (Colosseum II, Whitesnake) on bass, while the drummer kit is shared between Ian Paice (Whitesnake, Deep Purple), legendary Simon Phillips (Jeff Beck, Judas Priest, Toto) and monster Cozy Powell on one track. Even Michael Schenker come in and supply some hand-claps to the end of one song.
Marsden six-string abilities are out of discussion, but the man also can sing wonderfully.
There are some real corkers here.
Opening title track "Look At Me Now" is a really catchy, commercial melodic rocker, and "Who’s Foolin’ Who" has all the magic of the eighties, including Michael Schenker's hand-claps at the end.
You can sense Cozy Powell’s boost on "Shakey Ground", a heavier track. With Cozy at the helm what else could they call it?
We have an intense groove driving "Behind Your Dark Eyes", jumpin' riffs in "Thunder And Lightning" and bluesy melodies on "After All The Madness"
Bonus track "Always Love You So" was featured as b-side of the title track single, yet originally was intended to be part of the album.
This a very well presented remastered release, with original artwork and sleeve notes from Bernie himself.
01 - Look At Me Now
02 - So Far Away
03 - Who's Fooling Who?
04 - Shakey Ground
05 - Behind Your Dark Eyes
06 - Byblos Shack Part 1 & 2
07 - Thunder And Lightning
08 - Can You Do It? (Rock City Blues)
09 - After All The Madness
10 - Always Love You So (single B-Side) [bonus track]
Bernie Marsden - Guitar, Vocals
Neil Murray - Bass
Jon Lord - Keyboards
Ian Paice, Simon Phillips, Cozy Powell - Drums
John Cook - Synthesizer
Michael Schenker - Handclaps
Doreen Chanter, Irene Chanter - Backing Vocals
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Tuesday, March 12, 2013
RED HUSH from Rome, New York, have been rocking the US East scene since the beginning of the nineties.
Recorded in 1994, Red Hush sold at the band's shows their self-titled, self-managed debut released in very limited quantities (500 copies) and on CDr only.
Now, with the group working on the second album to be out soon, European label / distribution company MusicBuyMail is properly releasing for the first time Red Hush's debut.
Started as high school band, all Red Hush members are lifetime friends with the same passion for classic American Hard Rock.
The band experimented some line-up changes through the years, some forced as the loss of original guitarist Tommy Grago to diabetes. But Red Hush continued strong and decided to never give up.
Their sound is reminiscent of first Skid Row, Bulletboys, Spread Eagle, Mariah, Tora Tora and alikes, with sharp riffs and melodic solos in the best late '80s / early '90s Melodic Hard Rock style.
Moving and hooky hard rockers such as "Smoke A Little Freedom", the kickin' "Everybody Scream", "High Gear" and the gang-backing vocals fueled "All Night Long" are interspersed with more Melodic Hard Rock oriented tunes like the groovy "The Red Light" (strongly Skid Row influenced) and the bluesy "Breakdown".
Red Hush also lends to Hair Metal as in the extremely melodic & catchy "Friend Of Mine" and on "Leave Me Lonely", which starts as ballad reminding me Mariah's calmer moments, but at the middle the track explodes into a Ratt style.
Talking about ballads, "Take Your Wings" is a damn fine one. Opening with a really well arranged section including clean guitars, orchestrated keyboards and emotive vocals, the power-ballad format then takes the scene during the chorus in a tone bringing to mind one of the best Skid Row songs ever: In a Darkened Room.
The album ends with a rocking, upbeat - complete with cowbell - Hair Metal rendition to Grand Funk Railroad's classic "We're An American Band".
"Red Hush" is a long lost US Melodic Hard Rock little gem packing ten catchy and foot-tapping tunes to party-on.
The production is as good as it gets for an indie release, quite well mixed & engineered by Bob Acquaviva (Boston's Corporate America).
For years "Red Hush" was one of those 'hard-to-find collectors item', now it's your opportunity to discover this hooky recording composed, arranged and played in the late '80s / early '90s fashion.
01 - Smoke A Little Freedom
02 - The Red Light
03 - Breakdown
04 - Leave Me Lonely
05 - Everybody Scream
06 - Take Your Wings
07 - High Gear
08 - Friend Of Mine
09 - All Night Long
10 - American Band
Shane Parry - Lead Vocals
Ray Abel - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Chuck Heath - Bass, Backing Vocals
Mark Madonia - Drums
Mick Brooks - Guitar
Bob Lett - Bass, Backing Vocals
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Monday, March 11, 2013
After more than thirty years of being his own boss, Kenny Loggins - who began his career as part of the iconic duo of Loggins & Messina and as solo artist brought us such hits as 'Celebrate Me Home', 'Footloose' and Top Gun's 'Danger Zone', has formed the band BLUE SKY RIDERS with Nashville singer-songwriters Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman.
Loggins call this new adventure as 'Chapter 3' in his musical life, some kind of reinvention for this veteran singer / songwriter, and he can be proud of Blue Sky Riders' just released debut "Finally Home", a very good American hand-crafted rock album.
What sets the Blue Sky Riders apart is the unique diversity and songwriting talents of its members. And it’s not just the lyrical content, but also the ability to craft tightly woven songs full of dazzling harmonies.
They do have a very name player in Kenny Loggins, but probably more impressively they have a unheralded in public yet legendary songwriter in Country Music Hall Of Famer Gary Burr, and a tremendous, well heard songwriter who's written massive hits for other artists in Georgia Middleman gracing this group.
"Finally Home", which the trio produced with Peter Asher (J.D. Souther, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt), is a 15-song, Americana sounding classic rock with several Adult Contemporary, country and rock&pop elements with a sound fitting somewhere between The Eagles, early Fleetwood Mac, Crosby Stills and Nash and the contemporary dynamics of Venice.
Call this music as you want, but this is American Classic Rock, period.
Songs like "Little Victories" (co-written with Richard Marx) and "As Luck Would Have It" display the record’s optimistic undercurrent while also showcasing compelling three-part harmonies.
In fact, from the opening notes of "I’m A Rider (Finally Home)", it’s clear that these three vocalists have an exceptional chemistry when it comes to developing melodies and arrangements.
All three vocalists share, almost equally, vocal leads. Not only do they do that, but it's a very organic way in which they split the vocals. On a project like this, you would envision that they would all be looking for equal time, and yet, that's just not how it works.
Instead, they find their places well, and simply combine their collective sounds where necessary.
The military inspired "Feelin’ Brave" which hints at The Doobie Brothers with wonderful transitions and instrumental hand-offs, provides possibly the best example of the three singers coming together, while also allowing each to retain their own signature touch.
And on the self-empowered "Dream" and the acoustic/electric "Just Say Yes", Kenny, Georgia and Gary are allowed room to spread their musical wings before joining back in layered step for a warm chorus.
Their individual timbres fit so nicely together that even when each member takes a turn singing the lead lines, you can’t help but wait to hear how they orchestrate the unique lines and phrasings of each complex new passage.
The bluesy "How’s That Workin’ For Ya" showcases harmonies punching in and out while on "You Took The Words (Right Outta My Mouth)" different combinations of voices move through this song with a strong Fleetwood Mac feel.
"Finally Home" is a wonderful American Rock album.
Don't be scared by the 'country' sticker wrongfully put on this recording, this is plenty of terrific great AC classy rock songs, full of heavenly harmonies, melodies and yes: hooks.
In "Finally Home" the diversity of Kenny, Georgia and Gary comes through in a blend of styles that continually creates fresh new turns.
It's fun. It's musically great, vocally immense, and incredibly pristine recorded, produced and mixed.
Strongly recommended by this blog.
01. I'm a Rider (Finally Home)
02. How's That Workin’ For Ya?
03. Little Victories
04. Just Say Yes
05. Feelin' Brave
06. You're Not the Boss of Me
07. Another Spring
09. A Thousand Wild Horses
10. I Get It
11. Say I Like It
12. Windeer Woman
13. As Luck Would Have It
14. You Took the Words (Right Outta My Mouth)
15. How About Now
Kenny Loggins: vocals
Georgia Middleman: vocals
Gary Burr: vocals, guitar
Peter Asher: guitar, production
Tom Ball: guitar, harmonica, backing vocals
Scott Bernard: guitar, percussion
George Hawkins Jr., Michael Rhodes: bass
Shem VonSchroeck: bass, strings
Tommy Brechtlein: drums
John Gardner: drums, percussion
Dan Dugmore: steel guitar
Chad Jeffers, Josh Matheny: dobro, mandolin
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