the REAL one
"Walking Tall" is the sixth studio album for German melodic hard rockers SHYLOCK.
The band premieres a new rhythm section but this switch has not affected their punch, in fact, Shylock's delivery is stronger than ever.
With a straight to the point sharp Melodic Hard Rock in the unmistakable Germanic style, Shylock rocks you from the start with the hat trick of scorchers opening the album.
The anthemic title track "Walking Tall" kicks you in fine style and pretty much sets the scene for what is to follow – huge catchy choruses, punchy and crunchy riffs and classy lead guitar work.
These guys don't just have rock in their blood, it's in their DNA, according to the brilliantly titled (and composed) "Rock DNA", another blistering slice of Scorpions-esque Euro Melodic Hard.
The Klaus Meine band is a strong influence in these guys, specially in Matthias Schenk whom vocal color sometimes reminds you Michael Voss (Mad Max) as well.
"I Can't Wait Now' shows Shylock have big choruses in abundance, further illustrated by the classy "Bridges" and the pop-metal stylings of "Taken It Too Far".
The in-your-face sound turns more elaborated in "What It Takes" adding some rockin' AOR smell particularly in the bouncing chorus, then "Sad To Know" thicken the riffs in a Gotthard vein with good results.
Some 2000's Def Leppard influences are present in the effective "Right Now Or Never", while some good Scandi sounds impregnate "Away From Here".
There's not a proper ballad in this CD (a clear statement of its rockin' attitude), perhaps the only track neighboring is the semi-midtempo AOR in the Bonfire style called "Anything".
"Walking Tall" is one of those Melodic Hard Rock albums you enjoy from start to finish. There's not a weak track on the entire recording, all done with skilled hooks and melodies adorned with a crisp production.
A punchy, uptempo melodious Euro MHR disc from Shylock that you can listen to over and over without getting bored with it.
01 - Walking Tall
02 - Rock DNA
03 - I Can't Wait Now
04 - Bridges
05 - What It Takes
06 - Sad To Know
07 - Sliding Through Emotions
08 - Taken It Too Far
09 - She Came Along My Way
10 - Right Now Or Never
11 - Away From Here
12 - Touch My Soul
13 - Anything
Matthias Schenk: lead and backing vocals
Johannes Amrhein: guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
Bernhard Schwingenstein: bass
Achim Thiergartner: drums, backing vocals
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Thursday, January 31, 2013
CHASE THE ACE is an Israeli based Hard Rock band that has been active for more than ten years releasing 5 albums (including a live one) and played over 400 gigs under the name 'Koex'.
The group decided to expand their horizons and go global, changing the name to Chase The Ace, writing lyrics in English and publishing their first EP "Rock Bottom Rocknroll" world-wide.
"Rock Bottom Rocknroll" has a professional sound and truly good musicianship as all members in Chase The Ace are academy trained guys in their matter.
The band's style can be described as earlier nineties American Hard Rock with crushing drums, thick riffs & solos and powerful yet controlled vocals (no accent in sight).
Singer Roi Vito Peleg reminds me Don Jillson in places, that's why some tracks in "Rock Bottom Rocknroll" recall Americans Jillson, while Britny Fox and Y&T influences can be heard as well.
Lyrics are pure rock&roll kinda rebel guys, rocker chicks, the pursuit of the rockstar dream, etc, all with the fun vibe typical of the genre ever present.
"The Cat Is On The Loose" and "California" are the more jumpin' and catchy hard rockers, title track "Rock Bottom Rocknroll" and "Take Me Home" add some Sunset Strip sounds (the latter recalling Slash's Snakepit), while the bluesy ballad "Bring You Back" brings some power during the bridge in the Tesla and Great White way.
"Rock Bottom Rocknroll" is a solid and meaty introduction for Chase The Ace to the Western audience, and to be honest, these guys rocks fairly good on par with many established acts.
The fun vibe is supported by well penned songs and strong instrumentation, all crowned by a first rate production for an indie.
A really enjoyable collection of rockers from a new promising band. Keep an eye put on them.
01 - The Cat Is On The Loose
02 - Rock Bottom Rocknroll
03 - California
04 - Bring You Back
05 - We're Taking Over
06 - Take Me Home
Roi Vito Peleg - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Yam Artzy - Drums, Backing Vocals
Omer Schnider - Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Yair Gadon - Bass, Backing Vocals
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Do you remember the fantastic King Biscuit concerts broadcasted live during the eighties?
New promised bands and already established acts found a space to reach wised audiences in the US, and then many of these live shows were pressed on LP, cassette and CD to treasure.
Bon Jovi were, in 1984, the most promising new rock band around and one that those in the know were already tipping for the top.
The All Access label is releasing one the band's very earliest shows, played on 17th March 1984 at Cleveland's renowned Agora Ballroom as part of the tour undertaken to support their debut, self titled album - released just two months earlier.
This event remains more than just a distant memory of a talented rock band on the cusp of success, it is also now available here to enjoy for the first time on CD.
Jon's voice is so young sounding on this early recording and it sends you on a hard rocking, guitar busting emotional ride through their songs from the killer "Breakout" to "She Don't Know Me" to their first hit "Runaway".
"She Don't Know Me" hasn't been played since 1987 and they are reluctant to play it again because they didn't wrote it. I thought the album version was great but the live version is 10 times better and the song takes you on a roller coaster of memories.
Plus you get a rare cover version "Take You Higher" (Sly and the Family Stone) which I have never heard Bon Jovi do before.
"Rockin' In Cleveland 1984" is a truly great recording in terms of freshness, atmosphere and a hungry for glory primal Bon Jovi.
The sound quality is really good for a live '84 Radio broadcast, no overdubs, no remixes, no studio trickery, just Bon Jovi when they rocked hard.
Also this CD it's a chance to hear different versions of the songs, less polished yet melodic as ever. And I love it.
"Rockin' In Cleveland 1984" is exciting, showing the 'real' Bon Jovi, the one many of us miss with a tear.
03. Come Back
05. She Don't Know Me
06. Shot Through The Heart
07. Love Lies
08. Guitar Solo
09. Get Ready
11. Take You Higher
Jon Bon Jovi - lead vocals, guitar
Richie Sambora - lead guitar, backing vocals
David Bryan - keyboards
Alec John Such - bass
Tico Torres - drums, percussion
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Wednesday, January 30, 2013
TOM KEIFER, singer & guitarist of the legendary bluesy Hard Rockers CINDERELLA is making his debut as a solo artist with the release of his long-awaited and highly anticipated solo album, "The Way Life Goes", on April 30.
According to Keifer, the CD will be a collection of 14 new songs ranging from intimate, organic, acoustic tracks to driving hard rock. It embraces the blues, rock and country roots that have always been present in his unique sound that has generated the sale of over 15 million records worldwide for Cinderella.
The album's first single, "The Flower Song", will be released next month.
"To me, this song is about how unbelievable it is that you're able to find that one person that's perfect for you," - Keifer says - "Obviously, it's told from the perspective of a guy, but I think it's true for both men and women: When you find that one person, it's a miracle."
Keifer wrote "The Flower Song" with talented ex- Survivor and now in Pride Of Lions Jim Peterik. It's a lovable acoustic/electric melodic tune inevitably recalling late '80s Cinderella.
The Flower Song (4:10)
Not for sale yet
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
German label AOR Heaven through its subsidiary 'Classix' has been done an excellent job reissuing classic AOR and Melodic Rock gems, some of them previous unreleased as Roq Royale and Marchello (last year).
And now we have “Dreams” from the American band of the same name, which was founded by keyboarder Todd Loizzo and some of his like-minded high school friends halfway the '80s.
Around 1985 in Palos Hills, IL, DREAMS started performing high-energy Melodic Rock in the Northern Illinois area perfecting their musical skills and Melodic Rock style including headlining performances at major universities, nightclubs and numerous city festivals.
This way they built a sizeable following, which was enough for local label Broker Records to sign them. The self titled debut was produced by Todd's father, Gary Loizzo, ex- lead vocalist of American Breed and owner of a recording studio.
Gary is a Grammy-nominated recording engineer who worked with multimillion-selling Styx records in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, as well as on many other successful recordings.
So, despite of being in a small label, "Dreams" has a superior high quality sound and production compared to any other small budget recordings of the era.
Strangely enough though, Broker Records only released the stuff the guys had written/recorded on cassette, at the time a popular format in the States, because a lot of Americans used to listen to music on the road.
More than 5,000 cassette tapes were sold and the band went out to play at some of L.A.’s clubs located on the infamous Sunset Strip. Sadly enough: when they started showcasing for various major record labels, Nirvana and the likes began to take over the market and not a single record company was interested in Dreams anymore.
Now it's time for a proper reissue, and AOR Heaven Classix's remaster is truly great, as the original master tapes obviously sound excellent.
What we have here is a pure late '80s American Melodic Rock / AOR bliss with catchy choruses and crisp sound. Dreams style reminds you instantly early Night Ranger, REO Speedwagon, Loverboy, Signal and Robert Tepper.
Great AOR tunes such as “The Fear Of Being Alone” or “Does It Feel Like If You Want It To”, two soaring ballads in “Always There For You” and “ Lovin’ You Ain’t Enough”, and good time rockers like “Livin’ In Another World” and “Coming Down On Me” are too good that deserved to be listened by any fan of the genre.
In short: brash, big choruses, killer synths and over the top guitar playing in a typical '80s fashion.
If this album had been released halfway the '80s on a major label, Dreams would have been a mega act. Luckily, never is too late.
The material on this self-titled album comprises 12 huge AOR pearls written in the period 1988-1991 arranged and performed with all the melody and catchiness to be a winner.
AOR / Melodic Rock fans, don't miss "Dreams", it's indeed a 'dreamy' recording full of magic.
01 - Drive You Crazy
02 - The Fear Of Being Alone
03 - (Does It Feel) Like You Want It To
04 - Do You Feel For Me
05 - Livin' In Another World
06 - Feels Like I'm In Love
07 - Run
08 - Always There For You
09 - Coming Down On Me
10 - Something I Need
11 - Lovin' You Ain't Enough
12 - Livin' In Another World (original demo version)
Linas Kastys - lead vocals
Paul Smith - guitars
Todd Loizzo - keyboards
John Oskorep - bass, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
Dave Batastini - drums, backing vocals
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If you haven't heard of Drew Zingg yet, you are not alone.
Outside of the music industry and die-hard guitar aficionados, he hasn't exactly been a household name, but that might be about to change, because Zingg has just released last December his self titled debut album.
And believe me, you won't forget his amazing class after listening this wonderful CD.
But Drew Zingg's career isn't so obscure, in fact, if you've seen Boz Scaggs, Michael McDonald and even Steely Dan in concert at some point over the past twenty years, chances are you've witnessed guitarist Drew's playing.
He's also the soaring six-string player on Boz Scaggs’ fantastic 'Greatest Hits Live' CD/DVD.
Born and raised in New York City, Zingg earned his reputation as a guitarist that knows no boundaries when it comes to musical styles.
During the mid 1990s he was lead guitarist and musical director for Steely Dan. He also served as lead guitarist and musical director for New York Rock and Soul Revue, an aggregate of notable artists that included Donald Fagen and Walter Becker (of Steely Dan), Michael McDonald (of the Doobie Brothers), Boz Scaggs, and Grammy winner Patti Austin.
Zingg also played Broadway, sitting in the pit as the lead guitarist for shows including Jersey Boys, Spamalot, Mama Mia!, and Hairspray. The New York Times, New York Post and a long list of others sang very high praises.
All of this, and Guitar Magazine still called him one of the 12 'best guitarists you've never heard of'.
Now Drew's incredible tone and innovative guitar style has finally been recorded for his self titled debut. After four years on the drawing board the collection of songs has been completed thanks to the extraordinary dedication of lifelong friend, musician, engineer and producer George Petit.
From the beginning of the first track, the instrumental “Megashine City” (courtesy of Donald Fagen & Walter Becker), the quality within this gathering becomes apparent as the music settles into the groove.
The next track is a completely original take on the Commodores hit “Easy” (also covered by Faith No More years ago) featuring lead vocals from Michael McDonald. The tasty West Coast modulations within the new arrangement makes the song more of a reinvention than a cover.
“One-Off” (composed by George Whitty) features great interplay between Zingg’s fretwork, Whitty’s B-3 Hammond and the snap horn section while Will Lee and monster Vinnie Colaiuta lock down the hairpin beat.
Boz Scaggs also graces the project with a fresh vocal take on Buddy Johnson’s “Save Your Love For Me” that Scaggs had originally cut on his 'Speak Low' album.
Other great tracks include “Cactus”, “Downstream” (featuring George Whitty on vocals), “Dear Lord, What The Hell Are Ya Trying To Say?”, “Two Steps From The Blues” (w/Christine Lynch on vocals), “Tennessee Street” and “You Make It Right (When It Rains)” (with a beautiful lead vocal from Monet Owens.)
"Drew Zingg" is a brilliant album, a delicious slice of delicate melodies driven by the soaring, tasteful guitar playing & sound from one of the most underrated and unknown guitarists of the US scene.
Together, Zingg & Petit assembled an outstanding core band to bring the incredible variety of music to life; George Whitty on keyboards, Will Lee on bass, Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Bob Merrill & David Smith on trumpets, Eric Crystal & David Mann on sax and George Petit on additional guitar for track two.
The songs on "Drew Zingg" give all the instruments plenty of room to stretch out and breath. Zingg delivers masterful performances that contain an honesty and authenticity that can be infinitely appreciated through enjoyable repeated plays.
Fans of Classic Rock, L.A. WestCoast and all the artists featured on this disc are in for a real treat on this one. Pure Class.
01. Megashine City
02. Easy (vocals: Michael McDonald)
03. One Off
04. The Black Dog
05. Save Your Love For Me (vocals: Boz Scaggs)
07. Downstream (vocals: George Whitty)
08. Two Steps From The Blues (vocals: Christine Lynch)
09. Dear Lord, What The Hell Are You Trying To Say?
10. Tennessee Street
11. You Make It Right When It Rains (vocals: Monet Owens)
12. Highway 86
Drew Zingg - Guitar on all tracks
George Walker Petit - Acoustic & Trem guitars on track 4
Will Lee - Bass on all tracks
George Whitty - Keyboards, Hammond B-3, Lead Vocal on 7
Vinnie Colaiuta - Drums on all tracks
David Mann, Eric Crystal, Bob Merrill, David Smith - Horns
Michael McDonald - Lead Vocals on track 2
Boz Scaggs - Lead Vocals on track 5
Christine Lynch - Lead Vocals on track 8
Monet Owens - Lead Vocal on track 11, Background Vocals
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Monday, January 28, 2013
Awesome singer John Lawton shined with renowned acts Uriah Heep & Lucifer's Friend, and as solo artist as well.
But there's something like a forgotten gem on his curriculum vitae: his recording with Germans melodic rockers ZAR, the criminally ignored 1990's "Live You Life Forever".
Now, this diamond (in conjunction with all ZAR albums) is being reissued by the specialized label 7Hard in all its glory.
"Live Your Life Forever" was the second collaboration between John Lawton and German guitarist Tommy Clauss - the duo released a hard rock album ('Stargazer' ) some years earlier under the 'Rebel' moniker, a short-lived project.
But ZAR's "Live You Life Forever" is the real deal: pure '80s MHR / AOR in the vein of Grand Prix, spiced with a bit of Bonfire and the good Scorpions.
Incredibly sharp guitars, tons of pompous keyboards and the soaring (superb job) of John Lawton's vocals makes this recording a truly polished diamond through its 9 complete - no fillers - tracks.
Take for example the killer opener "Heart Of The Night" that would've been a huge hit with a proper management and record label back-up. The song stomps on at the pounding beat of Kumpf's heavy drums, while guitar and keyboards play on top. Lawton's voice is crystal clear, soulful and all-round impressive. "Heart Of The Night" has all the elements of a big 80/90's melodic hard rock hit, especially the chorus is something that just begs for singing along.
Or bounce your body with the monster title track "Live Your Life Forever" which begins in a haunting fashion and evolves into another strong melo-rock tune. Clauss lays down terrific guitar lines that in this case made the early albums of Finnish legends Tarot spring to my mind.
The classic German AOR/MR shines in the marching "Gone For Tomorrow" complete with swirling keyboards, while the stellar vocals of Lawton makes the ballad "The Look Of Your Eyes" a must.
"Live Your Life Forever" is an album that really deserved a world wide recognition around the time of it's release. But never it's too late.
This reissue sounds million bucks with a remastering honoring the aura of the original recording, and giving more brilliance to all instruments and Lawton's gifted pipes.
Believe me, ZAR's "Live Your Life Forever" is an essential piece in your Melodic Hard Rock / AOR collection. Now it's time to treasure this pot of gold.
A Must Have.
01 - Heart Of The Night
02 - Line Of Fire
03 - Live Your Life Forever
04 - Lost Son Of The King
05 - Cry Of The Nile
06 - Gone For Tomorrow
07 - The Look Of Your Eyes
08 - She's A Liar
09 - Fire And Ice
John Lawton - Vocals
Tommy Clauss - Guitars
Bernd Grunen - Bass
Jerry Schaffer - Keyboards
Peter Kumpf - Drums
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The much anticipated debut album by Swedish / English Hard Rock combo TAINTED NATION, entitled "F.E.A.R.", finally is here. The recordings were done more than a year ago but negotiations with different labels delayed the release until 2013.
Formed by talented heads of the scene, that is; Lions Heart guitarist Ian Nash, great drummer Mark Cross (Outloud, Firewind), The Poodles bass player Pontus Egberg and Eden's Curse drummer Pete Newdeck, whom in this case is at charge of lead vocals.
The reason of why "F.E.A.R." impress is simple: Tainted Nation is focused to innovate in the Hard Rock style forging classic stylings with quite modern elements.
The 'modern' tag doesn't mean radio-alt-mainstream sounds to emulate Nickelback and alikes, Tainted Nation tries to develop the traditional Hard structures into new rhythms and they succeed with brilliant results.
One of the main factors of this achievement is the superb production and the expertise hands of Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69) mixing and mastering. These departments were essential to crystallize the 'new' arrangements and offerings from Tainted Nation both sonically and compositional-wise.
Pete Newdeck is a revelation as singer, not for his powerhouse vocals or range, but for his cleverly way to arrange the harmonies, the choruses and verses.
Pete manages to keep you curious about what he will do next, while Ian Nash's blistering riffs & solos and the unusual rhythm section (adding some electronics) always try to deliver something fresh. And it works.
All tracks are uptempo rockers, sometimes bombastic - except for one - but without becoming monotonous, songs full of energy and melodies that stand out from the usual 'hard rock template' making "F.E.A.R." a very interesting listen.
I will not describe track by track, as this recording must be enjoyed entirely to appreciate how convincing is in its delivery.
Tainted Nation is the new wave, the new horizon in the Hard Rock scene, fresh and vital, with a modern style & sound bringing a new approach to the table.
A delayed release, but the wait paid its dividends, as "F.E.A.R." is a real cracker.
01. Dare you
03. You still hang around
04. Nothing like you seem
05. Who's watching you
06. Your only friend
07. Hell is a lie
08. Don‘t forget where you came from
09. Never promised you anything (feat. Ted Poley)
11. Don't tell me
12. What are you waiting for
Vocals - Pete Newdeck (Eden's Curse, Grim Reaper)
Bass - Pontus Egberg (The Poodles, Lions Share, Zan Clan)
Guitar - Ian Nash (Steve Grimmett, Lionsheart)
Drums - Mark Cross (Outloud, Helloween, Kingdom Come)
Guest Vocals - Ted Poley (Danger Danger)
add. Guitars, Backing Vocals - Joel Peters
Mix and Mastering by Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69)
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Sunday, January 27, 2013
Veteran hard workers from the Swedish Melodic Rock scene, ANGELINE celebrates their 25th anniversary in the rock business with the release of a special four song EP "Life Volume 1".
As you would expect and typical from Angeline, they offer solid Melodic Rock in the AOR tradition especially found on the first two cuts "Life" and "Can You Feel It Now?.
They get a bit edgier on the third tune "Into the Fire", while final number "Days Go By" is a quieter piece, a ballad where the guitar line is enlivened by mandolin performed by guest Micke 'Nord' Andersson (Roxette).
"Life Volume 1" is a very nice EP to wait the next full length album by this good band from Sweden.
02. Can You Feel It Now?
03. Into the Fire
04. Days Go By
Jocke Nilsson - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Janne Arkegren - Guitar
Uffe Nilsson - Bass
Tobbe Jonsson – Drums, Percussion
Micke 'Nord' Andersson - Mandolin on 4
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Saturday, January 26, 2013
Spanish AOR / Melodic Rockers HARDREAMS from Barcelona have been in the battle for more than twelve years releasing 3 good albums so far.
As their last one, Hardreams' new effort "Unbroken Promises" is being released by US label Perris Records, and this time the band has hardened their sound a bit with great results.
I have followed this solid band since the first disc truly enjoying their elaborated songs and meticulous arrangements, but from the first note of "Unbroken Promises" one noticeable improved aspect is the production, much more integral and modern than before.
Things start in a really catchy way with the melodic "Count On Me" wonderfully orchestrated by crisp guitar riffs, layers of keys and a bouncy rhythm section.
"A High Mountain To Climb" up the tempo and we can hear how Hardreams has added to their classic European Melodic Rock a touch of Hard, as the six-string work here is crunchy and the aggressive synths pumps the sound even more. Great one.
Anyway, the AOR factor in this band is their prime intention, and follower "It's Only Love" goes straight to the point: a soaring midtempo AOR tune with the style and sound of the past decade recalling wonders Ambition and a bit of '89s Whitesnake balladry. The warm midrange vocals of Manu Esteve shine on this one.
Over a solid rhythm section the band returns to Melodic Hard with "The War Is Over" which has a cadence similar to Swedes Bad Habit, followed by the highly melodious "Woman In Black" including a very nice solo.
There's time for a real ballad, and "Now You're Mine" does not disappoint. Acoustic & electric guitars mixed with pianos and synths to create an emotive slow melody. Again, vocals shine with the best harmonies of the entire recording.
The rest of the CD maintains the quality alternating MHR numbers as "The Land Inside Our Souls" and the slightly progressive "Cross The Line" with the AOR of the anthemic title track "The Land Inside Our Souls" and the bluesy "All And Now".
In between, Hardreams adds variation with the Mr. Big-like rocker "Goin' Fast" which also pays tribute the classic acts complete with Hammond organs and articulated vocals.
On "Unbroken Promises" Hardreams have added a welcomed variation to the recipe resulting in their most delicious album to date.
Everything sounds great, well arranged and performed as usual from this band, but this time production (perhaps their faulty side in the past) is really good.
If you never heard Hardreams, this is a very classy act in style and approach, and if you are a sucker for quality Melodic (Hard) Rock / AOR, "Unbroken Promises" is a mandatory listening.
Two thumbs UP.
01 - Count On Me
02 - A High Mountain To Climb
03 - It's Only Love
04 - The War Is Over
05 - Woman In Black
06 - Now You're Mine
07 - The Land Inside Our Souls
08 - Goin' Fast
09 - Unbroken Promises
10 - Cross The Line
11 - All And Now
Manu Esteve - Vocals
David Aguera - Guitars
Sergi Segarra - Keyboards
Víctor Muino - Bass
Sergi Hormigo - Drums
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Hailing from High Wycombe, U.K., THE WILD LIES is a new, young, intense melodious Hard Rock quartet fusing intricate grinding riffage colliding with stadium-rock choruses and melodies to die for.
"Jack's Out The Box" is their debut, and surely will keep your foot tapping.
The band was chosen to support Jettblack for their present tour, and I can hear why. The Wild Lies has the same vibe, energy and... quality. These guys are a blast.
Imagine a vocalist with the spine-splintering falsetto attitude of a young Vince Neil but clean and melodic as Joe Elliot grappling with the screaming licks of Skid Row and you have a good Wild Lies' picture.
Tracks like the stadium-ready "Relive The Ride", the catchy "Stone Cold Love", and the pounding "Heartbreaker" are instant hits brimming with dance-friendly riffs, arena filling potential and plenty of re-imagined commercial hard rock bravado.
"Falling" has the same fire yet much more modern approach with a clear intention to reach the radio, while "Beginning To End" is a terrific acoustically based ballad full of magic recalling the good Def Leppard years.
I don't have enough words to recommend you The Wild Lies. Darn, "Jack's Out Of The Box" is too good, and sadly, too short.
It's a more than a commendable presentation for the band to the world, but it left me hungry for more. It's that great.
If you enjoyed the explosion of Jettblack last year, The Wild Lies will do the same, even more; awesome musicianship, songwriting and production.
01 - Falling
02 - Stone Cold Love
03 - Relive The Ride
04 - Beginning To End
05 - Heartbreaker
Lead Vocals: Matt James
Guitar, Backing Vocals: Rob Gamble
Bass: Dylan Smith
Drums: Ralph Morris
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Friday, January 25, 2013
Founded around 2008 in Rome, Italy, PHOENIX RISING is the brainchild of singer / drummer Titta Tani and Paolo Caucci (guitars, bass and keyboards) who want to create something fresh and interesting in the AOR / Melodic Rock scene. They both have varied backgrounds, including progressive rock and other genres.
The combo already delighted us last year with a good EP and now the time for their full album “On The Loose” has arrived.
On this CD you will find high quality AOR / Melodic Rock with an edge, reminiscent of the great acts of the genre such as Journey, Giant, The Storm, Boston or Pride Of Lions just to name a few, with a very personal songwriting and taste crafting fine melodies.
The guitars are sharp whilst the keyboards are used and arranged in the classic way. Tani does a very good job with the vocals, and being essentially a drummer in his musical formation, what it is truly remarkable in this recording is the drum sound & playing.
"Written on a Stone", "On the Loose Again", "Mr. Dr", and "Give It a Name" are strong examples of PR heavier AOR sound but that's not dismissing the hooks or melodies within.
More traditional Melodic Rock comes with "No Lie to Say" and "Believe", both very catchy songs with great dynamics. The duo play most the instruments yet everything feels quite organic and tight as a band.
Phoenix Rising also does a very good cover of The Tubes' song "Talk to You Later", far from its synth new wave and pretty hard rockin' oriented.
Phoenix Rising delivers true, real Classic AOR / Melodic Rock in "On the Loose", definitely on the harder side of the genre.
A very entertaining set of catchy tunes crafted with excellent musicianship and production. Most of the indie recordings face this problem; the lack of a good drum and percussion sound / production. This is not the case here, the rhythm section is really outstanding, and all sounds clear sharp.
01. No Lie To Say
02. Written On A Stone
03. Fade Away
05. On The Loose Again
06. Mr. Dr
07. It's Up To You And Me
08. Give It A Name
09. Talk To You Later
Titta Tani - Vocals, Drums
Paolo Caucci - Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Gilles Boscolo - add. Keyboards
Francesco Di Battista : add. Drums
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Munich Melodic Hard Rockers VAMP were another sad example for the way the music industry works.
Signed by a Atlantic Records they released in 1989 the terrific "The Rich Don't Rock" album produced by Tony Platt (Foreigner) stuffed to the rafters with arena-ready choruses, hooky guitars and soaring ballsy vocals.
But Vamp were victims of their record label shortsightedness and their album went nowhere commercially.
Vamp started recording their only album in Holland but due executive differences several producers come and left until they finaly managed to get Tony Platt whom did a great job obtaining a brilliant and crisp sound.
Vamp toured Europe supporting White Lion, Bullet Boys, Bonfire and others but meanwhile the record company didn't promote "The Rich Don't Rock" in any way.
Disappointed with the scarce support, drummer Dickie left the band accepting the offer by no other than Bruce Dickinson to join him on his first solo world tour. After that tour he stayed in London and joined melodic rockers Skin. Soon the rest of Vamp disbanded.
A sorrowful story for such talented band.
"The Rich Don't Rock" is a long-lost gem, something of a hidden Melodic Hard Rock classic blending American and European stylings with class and superb musicianship.
Led from the front by the superb vocals of US born Tom Bellini (who really is a sonic deadringer for Tyketto's Danny Vaughan a lot of the time) and some fantastically pyrotechnic guitar playing from Ricolf Cross who adds something utterly smashtastic to every song, "The Rich Don't Rock" is chock full of great anthems and melodies ranging from fast-paced melodic hard rockers to polished AOR numbers.
Take as example the three spectacular opening tracks: "Heartbreak, Heartache" where Scandi acts come to mind, the radio friendly Helix-like "Like I Want" and the thumping title track.
But there's more highlights, in fact, all are great. "Love Games" rocks you with a killer riff & rhythm and vocals to die for, while the chorus sticks in your head forever.
You'll be needing a rest after all that, so "Renegade" drops the pace a little – though not the intensity – in a meaty midtempo recalling Swedes Treat.
And then... another moster song. "All Nite" kicks in the doors with Fliszar’s double kick drum assault and some more string-mangling solo mayhem from Cross. In the middle, Fliszar does an amazing 1:20 min drum solo full of rage and fire.
Do you need AOR? The title of "Lonely Nights" speaks for itself (it isn't the perfect name for an AOR tune?). This a pure eighties keyboard driven golden song with screaming guitars in the mix. Musically, think Zinatra finest moments while the chorus is pure Europe-Joey Tempest circa 1986.
Between these great after great tracks we have another diamond: "Stand By Me". An absolutely titanic melodic hard rocker in the mould of earlier Lillian Axe, it's absolutely epic, and if the album finished at this point you wouldn't be complaining.
But Vamp continues rocking in an incredible way with the nasty little rocker called "Bleeding", a thrilling bass-propelled beast with blazing heavy guitars all over and a crunching climax that sends every needle into the red. Awesome.
The foot-tapping does not stop with "Talk is Cheap" where Tom Bellini sounds like Kevin DuBrow in places and the band rocks with a live feel.
We need balance for the end and the Americanized AORish "Shout" blast your speakers with a style reminding you Icon in the skeleton and Autograph during the chorus, all wrapped by swirling keyboards.
"Why" finally draws things to an end in a razor devastating hard rockin' style – a great way to end a monstrous, and monstrously overlooked slab of blazing Melodic Hard Rock glory.
As you have read, "The Rich Don't Rock" is a pearl from start to finish, sadly overlooked and out of print since its original edition.
Now, US label Divebomb Records has tracked down the members of Vamp and have partnered with the band to bring "The Rich Don't Rock" back with the love and attention it deserves.
This is a dreamy 'Deluxe Edition' not only including the original album remastered by guitarist Ricolf in his own studio, but also a fantastic bonus CD.
CD 1 contains the original album remastered plus 3 bonus: the impossible to find Vamp first EP (only 12'' vinyl) featuring noticeable - yet killer - different versions of "The Rich Don't Rock", "Why" and "Shout".
And CD 2... 15 awesome previously unreleased tracks: 8 songs recorded for their unreleased sophomore album "One Smack Killer" and 7 TRDR demos including their 1986 demo under the name ROXX which is what got them signed. All these stuff was professionally recorded with great production, first class sound.
I would rate the remastered CD 1 alone as Highly Recommended, but the inclusion of the bonus CD with a ton of ridiculously good unreleased material turns this release as UTTERLY ESSENTIAL.
A Must Have.
"THE RICH DON'T ROCK" REMASTERED
01. Heartbreak, Heartache
02. Like I Want
03. The Rich Don't Rock
04. Love Games
06. All Nite
07. Lonely Nights
08. Stand By Me
10. Talk Is Cheap
13. The Rich Don’t Rock (12” EP Version)
14. Why (12” EP Version)
15. Shout (12” EP Version)
ONE SMACK KILLER : SHELVED 2ND ALBUM
01. Little Bit
02. Love Starved Woman
03. Dead In The Backseat
04. Junkyard D.O.G. (Dirty Old Geezer)
05. One Smack Killer
06. Gimme Some Lovin'
07. I Don't Know
08. The Big Mess
THE RICH DON'T ROCK : PRE-PRODUCTION
09. Lonely Nights
10. What About Love
11. Down And Dirty
12. Waste Of Time
13. Love Games
14. Don't Bite
15. Talk Is Cheap
Tom Bellini – Lead and Backing Vocals
Ricolf Cross – Guitars, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Oliver Scholz – Bass, Backing Vocals
Dicki Fliszar – Drums, Percussion
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Singer Zak Steven left Savatage some years ago to form CIRCLE II CIRCLE with the intention to create a more melodic band mixing modern hard rock with classic mid-tempo classic metal.
“Seasons Will Fall” is their 6th album where with a few line-up changes the band returns to the classic sounds leaving behind some alternative experimentation heard in the last two recordings.
If you never heard CIIC before, think Tony Martin's Black Sabbath and Allen/Lande project. But the most striking thing to me (and a good one) with "Seasons Will Fall" are the several songs that strongly evoke the ghosts of Savatage in their instrumentation as well as structure.
I think we all agree that Zak Stevens has one of the most powerful and melodic vocals in the nowadays metal scene, and he demonstrates it here. Also prominent are the riffs and guitar leads by Bill Hudson and Christian Wentz throughout the album, all are nicely executed and positive additions to the musical texture.
The songs, as a whole, are mostly mid-paced and melodious, which is to be expected from this band, and they tend to straddle the fine line between Melodic Metal and Hard Rock, sometimes venturing into one or the other more completely.
"Diamond Blade" opens the CD with a guitar-based structure in a style that feels new for CIIC. Of course, Stevens’ trademark mid-range, leathery yet smooth vocals is the strong playing card here, but the lead guitar work is awesome as well.
The Hard Rock rhythm of "Without A Sound" and the nice keyboards come to change the scenery a little and I think prove that the band is running on recharged batteries and was inspired during the writing/recording process.
The album gets better with each track mixing melody and heaviness. "Epiphany" is definitely one of the album’s highlights with addictive vocal melodies, especially in the chorus, where the listener gets a chance to enjoy the hard hitting bass and hum along the keyboard melodies that sit on the driver’s seat quite often.
Another strong number is marching "End Of Emotion". Savatage references mean lush instrumental orchestrations that stand side by side with the distorted riffs and this track is all about that. You might as well add some multiple vocal harmonies as the icing on the cake. This track showcases why Zak Stevens has loyal fans who have never been disappointed by the singer’s music contributions and this album is no exception.
"Never Gonna Stop" sports an irresistible, killer hard rock riff that seems to work like the epitome of Stevens’ career, while the groovy "Isolation" rocks with a classy vibe (including bells).
The smooth clean guitar work and the harmonies in the almost power ballad "Downshot" convinces you this band has taken the flag from the one of the best Sabbath's incarnations ever: the Tony Martin era. Love this stuff, polished and powerful.
After some experimentation on the previous album, Circle II Circle has returned to their trademark Hard Rock / Melodic Metal style with a blast. Listening to "Season Will Fall" I got the same level of excitement with the one I had with the band’s debut released one decade ago.
This isn't a step back for the band at all, it's a return to their roots more stylized and solid than ever. The songwriting and orchestrations are now more complete, impactful and glowing.
"Season Will Fall" points to a wider spectre: not only Melodic Metal-heads, Melodic Hard Rock fans will enjoy this release with pleasure, believe me.
01 - Diamond Blade
02 - Without A Sound
03 - Killing Death
04 - Epiphany
05 - End Of Emotion
06 - Dreams That Never Die
07 - Seasons Will Fall
08 - Never Gonna Stop
09 - Isolation
10 - Sweet Despair
11 - Downshot
12 - Only Yesterday
Zak Stevens (Savatage) – Vocals
Mitch Stewart – Bass, Vocals
Bill Hudson (Power Quest) – Guitars, Vocals
Christian Wentz – Guitars, Vocals
Henning Wanner (White Lion, Jaded Heart) – Keyboards, Vocals
Adam Sagan (Into Eternity, Final Darkness) – Drums
Monday, January 21, 2013
Melodic Hard Rockers VADUZ took their name from the capital city of the principality of Liechtenstein, Europe. A strange choice for a band whose members were all born and raised in Iowa, US, but apparently they liked the name after seeing it in a travel brochure.
Vaduz born in the late eighties, they recorded and distributed independently their music then disbanded in 1993, but returned three years ago with some line-up changes and the fruit is "Better Days", the band's fresh CD.
After the first track "Workin' Band" you realise that Vaduz know how to write good catchy songs and all their members are accomplished musicians.
This is a fantastic melodic rocker akin mid '80s Night Ranger with hot riffs, superb rhythm and a killer chorus. Brian Wade's vocal timbre reminds you Jon Bon Jovi here at his young age.
Next, "I Saw The Light Again" is another winner. Complete with cowbwell, these guys takes you back to the Hair Metal glory days. Autograph comes to mind, and this isn't an excessive comparison, believe me. Terrific tune.
Title track "Better Days" is more midtempo paced but then explodes with an effective chorus, while follower "Thy Kingdom Come" is a superb piano-ballad with Nelson hints, very well crafted for sure.
Uptempo returns with the foot-tappin' bluesy rocker ala Great White "Hey Yeah", "Enemy" is more modern (Extreme here and there), whilst "Faces In The Storm" is another ballad, this time acoustically based.
"Lowdown Blues" as title says, is a strong whiskey-soaked blues rocker (Tesla-ish) feauring an impressive sustained guitar, vintage keyboards and moody vocals.
For the end we have one of these 'monster power ballads' akin Warrant, very electric in the highly harmonized chorus and crystal during the verses.
"Better Days" by Vaduz is one of the surprises of the year without a doubt.
If you like pure, elaborated late US '80s Melodic (Hard) Rock in the style of the aforementioned bands, you can't miss this little gem. My only complaint here is the short tracklist. Seriously, all these tracks are glorious.
Not only the songwriting is truly faithful to that age/genre, the musicianship and the crystal clear production (excellent for an indie) have the "80s magic touch" so difficult to obtain these days.
Do yourself a favor a get a copy pronto .-
01 - Workin' Band
02 - I Saw The Light Again
03 - Better Days
04 - Thy Kingdom Come
05 - Hey Yeah
06 - Enemy
07 - Faces In The Storm
08 - Lowdown Blues
09 - On My Way
Brian Wade – Vocals
Ringo Lee – Guitars
Jimmy Krio – Bass, Keyboards
Matt “Vinnie” Finn – Drums, Percussion
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Mr. Big's singer ERIC MARTIN has been recording several albums in Japan during the last ten years covering hit songs from bands of the land of the rising sun, mostly including pop numbers and even a Christmas CD.
But this time Eric (and his label) have chosen to version Rock songs - the style we all want to hear from him - entitled "Mr. Rock Vocalist", released the last November only in Asia.
With the contribution of top class guitar players like the great Steve Stevens, Richie Kotzen, Marty Friedman and others, Eric has delivered this time a hot rockin' bunch of versions.
We have kicking melodious hard rockers such as "Dreamin´" an original hit in Asia by Japanese band 'Boowy', "Temptation" originally from glammers 'Gray' and the very Mr. Big-like "One Third Of Emotion", a killer single by Tokio greats 'Siam Shade'.
The fabulous midtempo "Alone" featuring Stevie Salas was penned by 'B'z', the bluesy hard rocker is an original from 'The Yellow Monkey', while the melodic "Honey" is a cover from another very good band: 'L'Arc～en～Ciel', featuring an insane John5 solo.
More rock&pop is the goodie "Gloria" from solo artist 'Ziggy', the groovy rocker "I For You" featuring Marty Friedman is a 'Lunar Sea' original, while "Forever Love" as you expect is a very good ballad penned by another famous Japanese band: 'X Japan'.
All are great covers with the unmistakable Eric Martin touch and superb musicianchip from all involved.
As bonus, we have two Eric Martin orignals co-written with Andre Pessis, his usual partner for Mr. Big songs. Both tracks were used for the game 'CR Virtua Fighter Revolution': the uptempo hard rocker "Break Out" is the main theme, while "The Heart Of A Champion" is the outro track, a more melodic rock oriented tune. These songs are really, really good.
"Mr. Rock Vocalist" is a great CD (only released in Japan) featuring solid hard rocking songs performed & arranged with the usual Eric Martin class.
① Dreamin' (feat. Steve Stevens)
③ One Third Of Emotion
④ Alone (feat. Stevie Salas)
⑥ Paradise (feat. Richie Kotzen)
⑦ Honey (feat. John 5)
⑨ I For You (feat. Marty Friedman)
⑩ Forever Love
(composed by Eric Martin & Andre Pessis):
⑪ Break Out
⑫ The Heart Of A Champion
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Saturday, January 19, 2013
GIANT X was formed by German guitarists & songwriters Peter Joy Jordan and Rolf Kasparek two years ago. Kasparek, better known as 'Rock'N Rolf', is the founder and creator of 'pirate metal' legends Running Wild, while Jordan joined the pirates in 2005.
Both wanted to record some of their penned songs which does not fitted the RW heavy standards, so Giant X born and we have their debut "I" just released.
So what is Giant X all about? Rolf and Peter pay tribute here to the classic eighties Hard Rock sounds with a party vibe and style.
Several tracks are extremely catchy indeed towards Hair Metal and the Hard Rock of '80s Quiet Riot, WASP and Scorpions. Others are more Euro hard 'n heavy with strong rhythms in the vein of early Fate, 220 Volt and the lighter side of... Running Wild.
After the funny short intro "The Rise Of The Giant X", the kickin' hard rocker "On A Blind Flight" rolls you with a thumping rhythm and hot riffs.
Then "Don't Quit Till Tomorrow" is a great anthemic number with a mind-blowing refrain in the style of Bonfire and Scorpions. Woh-oh-oh's in the chorus and a feel good melody. Great track.
"Nameless Heroes" is a homage to the MTV power ballad era ala Cinderella meets Scorpions with a solid foudation in the lighters-in-the-air formula. Giant X takes you back to the late eighties here with style.
"Go 4 It" and "The Count" successfully had me instantly thinking about Quiet Riot and their 1984 party-metal, while "Rough Ride" blend everything from Motley Crue (Girls Girls Girls era) to WASP.
"Friendly Fire" sounds a bit more Euro with an updated Melodic Hard Rock feel, "SoulSurvivors" is catchy and fun driven by a melodious riff, whilst last track's name says it all; "R.O.C.K.".
Giant X takes you back to the '80s in the time warp machine that is "I".
Catchy riffs and tunes that stick to your mind with addictive choruses and sing along refrains. It has as well the famous Rolf Kasparek rhythm section and the feel-good vibe and atmosphere that ruled the golden decade.
"I" is a pure fun CD well composed and produced by Peter Jordan that it is a positive surprise when you think about what Rolf Kasparek and Jordan have done in the past with Running Wild.
Crank it to 10.
01 - The Rise Of The Giant X (Intro)
02 - On A Blind Flight
03 - Don't Quit Till Tomorrow
04 - Badland Blues
05 - Now Or Never
06 - Nameless Heroes
07 - Go 4 It
08 - The Count
09 - Rough Ride
10 - Friendly Fire
11 - Lets Dance
12 - Soulsurvivors
13 - R.O.C.K.
Rolf Kasparek - Guitar, Vocals, Bass
Peter Jordan - Guitar, Vocals, Bass, Production
Angelo Sasso, Rudiger Dreffein - Drums
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Guitarist and songwriter BARISH KEPIC joined German Melodic Hard rockers Jaded Heart in 1998 for the great 'IV' album, recording as well on the solid 'Helluva Time'.
For the latter, Barish was involved more with the songwriting and as himself said, about 80% of the music on there was originally written for his first solo record.
So this gives you an idea of the material present in this, his 2nd album "Addiction": this is not just a 'shredder' recording, all are song-focused numbers.
Barish is currently member of rockers PowerLorld, so he has not lost the 'band sense' for this new solo album. Mostly instrumental, "Addiction" sounds cohesive and like a real band album where the vocals are replaced by the guitars, in a way that the six-strings seems singing.
There's a vocal track by the great Michael Bormann (ex- Jaded Heart as well) in the very good version of Jimi Hendrix's classic "Little Wing", but the star of the disc is Kepic's complete playing and songwriting.
Rocking pieces like opener "Only By Night", the groovy earlier Satriani-influenced "Lost In Samsara", the dynamic "The Long Road" or the awesome ballad "Addiction" are a pleasure to the ear.
This is definitely a Hard Rock record without main singer but with a monster guitar work that replaces the lungs with a terrific '6-string voice'.
A must for every guitar freak but also to any hard rocker out there eager for well crafted songs played with heart & soul and a first class production.
01 - Only By Night
02 - The Long Road
03 - Lost In Samsara
04 - Vagabundear
05 - Blue Hearted
06 - All That Idle Talk
07 - Addiction
08 - While The City Sleeps
09 - Book Of Destiny
10 - Inside Illusions
11 - Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix cover)
Barish Kepic - Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Sepp Bauer - Drums
Michael Bormann - Vocals
Chity Somapala - Keyboards
Ferdy Doernberg - Keyboards
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I have a soft spot for Polish Prog wonders RIVERSIDE, one of the most interesting acts in the genre from the new generation.
After four albums and a great EP last year, they have managed to reach a next splendid height in terms of dynamic songwriting with their newest, highly anticipated fifth studio album release “Shrine Of New Generation Slaves”.
“Shrine Of New Generation Slaves” (or “S.O.N.G.S.” for easier referencing) offers more than 50 minutes of high-class music which don’t just clearly reflect a further developed, modern take on the band’s charismatic trademark elements, but also effectively adds vibes of the Classic Rock segment as well as art-rock bits to the ever-challenging mix that Riverside has always stood for.
Maybe just less standard metallic and also less complex - without meaning less progressive - they surprise us with something fresh, a more mature chapter in the band's career and focused again more on melody and organic rock groove than before.
The CD title might sound a bit intricate, but the acronym definitely explain what they did here: SONGS.
Conceptually, it is an album as intense and introspective as ever before but there is also a strong and very obscure social component to things this time around, with lyrics talking about the 'new generation slavery', where people seem to be unable to take control over their own lives.
Musically, while many of Riverside's trademark style is here – progressive music with a heavy bass presence and a vocalist who has more in common with hard rockers than most of the prog scene – SONGS is instead a way more chill progressive rock album in the veins of Marillion or Steven Wilson‘s stuff.
One of the things that had impressed me in the band’s earlier material was the delicacy and the melodies of the calmer material, and the merge of the first two tracks here, from "New Generation Slave" to "The Depth of Self-Delusion" shows off the band’s melodic chops with the deft use of counter melody and melancholy.
This more delicate side of the band is what is on display throughout the whole album, peaking on the 8 minute second track and rolling downhill all the way to the last "Coda". Older fans will be happy to hear that the organs and keyboards are back throughout the record.
"We Got Used to Us" is a piano driven ballad – even if it does have an excellent bassline that pushes the music forward, while in the charming "Deprived (Irretrievably Lost Imagination)" is where vocalist Mariusz Duda shines with an emotional performance. He handles this kind of sweet material with a fantastic touch.
One of the finest moments on the CD is the album's major epic "Escalator Shrine", a real treat of classic Prog driven by a fantastic guitar riff / Hammond B3 keyboard arrangement.
Riverside did it again. They managed to record another interesting album without repeating themselves, completely different in style to its predecessor.
This is a band who can write '70s influenced Prog, while still maintaining cohesive and interesting songs that are fun to listen to and simultaneously intellectually stimulating.
"Shrine Of New Generation Slaves" shows that Riverside hasn't lost a step talentwise while wandering into their fifth album, even if they have dialed back the heaviness a bit.
01 - New Generation Slave
02 - The Depth Of Self-Delusion
03 - Celebrity Touch
04 - We Got Used To Us
05 - Feel Like Falling
06 - Deprived (Irretrievably Lost Imagination)
07 - Escalator Shrine
08 - Coda
Mariusz Duda - vocals, bass
Piotr Grudzinski - guitars
Michal Lapaj - keyboards
Piotr Kozieradzki - drums
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Friday, January 18, 2013
Italian ALEX DE ROSSO is one of those shredders that knows how to build a killer guitar work around a good song and not conversely, as many axeman, that privilege their flashy playing only.
That's the case with his brand new 4th solo album "Lions & Lambs", an impressive Hard Rock record where the 'song' is the King.
As member of Dokken during the past decade, De Rosso met many important names in the industry but also he is a highly requested session man having recorded in albums for BrunoRock, Pushking, Shadows Fade, Kelly Hansen's Perfect World, ex- Toto's Joseph Williams project Vertigo and the list continues.
Now, all these people are retributing in "Lions & Lambs" enhancing the album with their first class contributions.
But what makes this album so great in first place is the quality of the songs, Alex superb six-string playing of course, and the excellent production.
Besides, De Rosso sings very, very well and his bandmates Fabrizio Grossi &
Bob Parolin provide a truly meaty rhythm section. The drumming of Parolin is particularly remarkable.
What about the songs? There's no weak track here.
With an elaborated Hard Rock in the vein of Dokken and Lynch's Mob spiced with adult Melodic Rock moments recalling his splendid project Perfect World, "Lions & Lambs" is a complete album full of class.
Don Dokken lay down vocals on the dynamic opener "Disappear", a melodious rocker with stabbing riffs and lovable arpeggios. Then "Resistance" up the tempo with De Rosso singing aggressively and featuring the first guitar duel between him and sustain master Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake).
"Something About You & Me" goes more MHR oriented mounted over clean guitars and a spacy melody. God Steve Lukather blows your head with a melodic note-gold solo.
Next, "Rise My Life" is perhaps my favorite between this collection of already great tracks. Uptempo hard rocker with a slightly darker tone which reminds you the good side of 2000's Dokken, but what really shines here is the superb guitar fight in the solo between Alex and the immeasurable Reb Beach (Winger, Dokken, Whitesnake). Awesome.
"Your Mirror" slows down the pace as it's a sweet acoustic ballad, followed by the effective riff-festival of "It Doesn't Matter Now" with guitars down-tuned a little.
"Another Million Years" shows again Alex's Melodic Rock side, a midtempo much in the style of Perfect World with acoustics blended with bluesy electric guitars and an endeless chorus.
"Feel the Hope" features the lead guitar contribution of George Lynch, and you would expect a fierce hot metalized track. But the guys surprise us with a bluesy hard rocker with great atmosphere and a melodic chorus.
Then Whitesnake's keyboardist Timothy Drury has the chance to show his vocal abilities on "Chasing Illusions". A calm and charming piece featuring very good harmonies and a sweet melody. Drury nailed it and he's really good at the mic! Great track.
For the end we have a cover of Alice In Chains' "Them Bones", in my book the best track this band ever wrote. De Rosso's version is faithful to the original but his guitar arrangements and playing are more hard rockin' and dynamic. Terrific cover.
You have read extensively my opinion about "Lions & Lambs".
I think there is nothing more to add; this is a Killer CD.
01. Disappear (lead vocals: Don Dokken)
02. Resistance (lead guitars: Doug Aldrich)
03. Something About You & Me (lead guitars: Steve Lukather)
04. Rise My Life (lead guitars: Reb Beach)
05. Your Mirror
06. It Doesn't Matter Now
07. Another Million Years
08. Feel the Hope (lead guitars: George Lynch)
09. Chasing Illusions (lead guitars: Timothy Drury)
10. Them Bones
Alex De Rosso: Guitar, Lead and Backing Vocals
Fabrizio Grossi: Bass
Bob Parolin: Drums
Don Dokken: guest Lead Vocals
Timothy Drury: guest Lead Vocals
Doug Aldrich: guest Lead Guitar
Steve Lukather: guest Lead Guitar
Reb Beach: guest Lead Guitar
George Lynch: guest Lead Guitar
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Thursday, January 17, 2013
ALICATE hails from Sweden, formed in 1985 by singer / guitarist Jonas Erixon & bassist Fredrik Ekberg, and even though suffering constant lineup changes and a long breaks in between the combo is still alive after more than a quarter century.
Alicate published a single in 1989, but their official full length debut (indie) arrived four years ago, and now, stronger than ever and firmly determined to establish themselves as a solid act they are releasing "Free Falling".
Alicate's style ranges from elaborated Melodic Hard Rock to rather pompous classic AOR sounds with echoes to Magnum (UK), Treat and commercial Whitesnake, the latter reinforced by Jonas Erixon's pipes sometimes recalling David Coverdale.
When his vocals turns more melodious as on the soaring "Out Of Bounds" or the catchy "I Believe" Jonas reminds you Bob Catley, and of course Magnum.
Uptempo and melodic rocking hard numbers "Still Standing", the Scandi sounding "Forevermore" and "Make A Wish" are influenced by Treat and alikes, while the effective tittle track "Free Falling" has a British scent, all songs with surrounding keyboards in the background.
The Sabbath-Tony Martin like "Wake Me Up" has a groovy hook in its conception with Hammonds and more thick riffs, while stylized and melodic arrangements embellish the AOR midtempo semi-ballad "When Night Falls", one of the highlights.
Late '80s Whitesnake can be heard in the fine "Can't Change It" delivering a complete guitar work, then the CD ends with the aural AOR slow number "Carpe Diem" (not strictly a ballad) in great form.
"Free Falling" is a truly classic MHR sounding album blending Scandi and British influences in a very enjoyable way.
You have some hard rocking and AOR tunes as well, balancing this quite elaborated set of tracks carefully arranged and performed. The songs are 'clean' and polished with a good production helping in its purpose.
As unit, Alicate is a homogeneous, complete band which has crafted in "Free Falling" a delightful album with all the sounds and hooks in the right place.
One of the surprises of this very promising year.
01 - Still Standing
02 - Wake Me Up
03 - When Night Falls
04 - Out Of Bounds
05 - Forevermore
06 - I Believe
07 - Make A Wish
08 - Can't Change It
09 - Free Falling
10 - Carpe Diem
Jonas Erixon - Vocals, Guitar
Fredrik Ekberg - Bass, Backing Vocals
Glenn ljungkvist - Keyboards
Jesper Persson - Drums
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the REAL one
One of the greatest and legendary European metal bands are kicking off 2013 with studio album fourteen and will certainly set the standards pretty high for the rest of the year.
I am talking about Germans HELLOWEEN and their brand new album "Straight Out Of Hell".
I've been partial to a little bit of Helloween in my musical diet now for near enough twenty five years. I loved in my teens their classic 'Keeper Of The Seven Keys' but since then the band took a more drastic metalized orientation in the nineties, something far from my tastes (and many fans).
But lately Helloween were slightly returning to melody mostly thanks to 'new' singer Andi Deris (who remains their longest serving lead singer) to give us more of that melodious metal we knew and loved.
When you consider the talent that has come and gone over the years with just two of the original members left in the band now, the fact that they still release albums as good as "Straight Out Of Hell" is a real testament to those who remain.
"Straight Out Of Hell" has thirteen tracks on the standard and two extra on the 'Premium Edition' including a Hammond version of "Burning Sun", which is dedicated to the much admired John Lord (Deep Purple) who of course passed away in 2012.
Recorded in Tenerife with Charlie Bauerfeind at the helm, the production has been taken towards a thoroughly solid and well rounded assault that positively explodes out of the speakers.
The first single and opener is an upbeat song called "Nabataea" which takes us a back in time to ancient times. Then next up is the technical "World of War" as Helloween crack open the game increasing the speed and it really is cool how the guitar and kick drums duplicate each other in synch at times.
"Live Now!" is a more straight forward Helloween rocking number while "Far From The Stars" has a super catchy groove and one of those vibrant epic choruses they do so well. This is 'my Helloween', and I love it.
"Hold Me In Your Arms" is the album's most tranquil track and gives a chance for breath and reflection amidst a sea of metal madness but that calm is soon dispelled by the drums of "Wanna Be God" with a similar structure to Queen's 'We Will Rock You' as the drums and vocals dominate before their guitars come screaming through later on.
Andi's penned "Waiting For The Thunder", a piano intro'd piece of excellence sits as quite possibly the album's finest track. Managing to wrap up all of Helloween's finest attributes in a little under four minutes it stands as a defiant, standard bearing anthem that's sure to become a live favourite.
"Years" and "Asshole" are rock solid foundations sure enough, then bass invader Grosskopf (whose trusted songwriting pen was responsible for the aforementioned highlight 'Far From The Stars'), pulls another gem out of the bag and provides the fantastic charging title track "Straight Out of Hell".
One of the greatest Euro metal bands are returning to melody with "Straight Out Of Hell", still retaining their classic edge and lovable epic moments.
The flying choruses, the band's classic powerful barrage of drums and the duel guitar tones of Michael Weikath and Sascha Gerstner trading licks through the hour long album are a sheer joy to listen to.
For the most part this new recording shows the return of the real Helloween, both in sound and songwriting helped by a solid production.
One of the Top metal albums of the year for sure.
02. World of War
03. Live Now!
04. Far from the Stars
05. Burning Sun
06. Waiting for the Thunder
07. Hold Me in Your Arms
08. Wanna Be God
09. Straight Out of Hell
12. Make Fire Catch the Fly
13. Church Breaks Down
Premium Edition bonus tracks:
14. Another Shot Of Life
15. Burning Sun (Hammond version dedicated to Jon Lord)
Andi Deris : Lead and Harmony Vocals
Michael Weikath : Guitar, Backing Vocals
Sascha Gerstner : Guitar, Backing Vocals
Markus Grosskopf : Bass, Backing Vocals
Daniel Loble : Drums
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013
"Back To The Garden" is the new release from Detroit's female axe slinger MAXINE PETRUCCI (ex- Vixen, Madam X).
Maxine plays guitar, bass and flute as well as singing, with drums by Pat DeLeon (Tiles) and guest keyboards on three tracks by Pete Hopersberger (Imminent Sonic Destruction).
Ten heavy guitar laden tracks with ballsy lyrics and shattering rhythm section.
01 - WTF
02 - Back to the Garden
03 - Out Of Whack
04 - Assassinate
05 - Wicked
06 - Pink Angels
07 - Youth Gone By
08 - Ginger Man
09 - Sacred
10 - Harsh My Gig
Maxine Petrucci - Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Flute on 5
Pat DeLeon - Drums
Pete Hopersberger - Keyboards
Bryan Paxton - add. Bass
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As Hard Rock fan, you probably have listened RICHIE SCARLET playing guitar, although his name doesn't ring any bell.
Richie AKA 'The Emperor Of Rock and Roll' has been part of Alice Cooper, Mountain and Sebastian Bach touring bands amongst others. He is the axe man in Bach's 'Bring Em Bach Alive' and 'Back 2 Basics' albums.
But his most remarkable and known work was his team-up with Ace Frehley. As part of Ace's band, Richie not only co-write many songs for his '89 CD 'Trouble Walkin', also sung lead vocals, played guitars and was involved in the production.
So this pedigree says something about Scarlet's talents, isn't it?
Richie Scarlet has a prolific solo career as well with 6 albums under his belt, and "I Plead The Fifth" is his seventh, fresh recording just released.
While never having mainstream success but with a strong fan base of followers, this NewYorker musical credibility is highly respected amongst his colleagues as well.
Richie has a classic guitar style that combines hard rock, metal and blues in the American style. He is a good singer with a slightly bluesy, raspy tone recalling Paul Shortino, not so powerful but contolled and well harmonized.
"I Plead The Fifth" is a kickin' hard rocking recording ranging from shattering numbers as the killer opener "Lips Like Morphine" and the Frehley-ish "I Don’t Wanna Die" to melodic commercial tunes like "Burning Through Life" and "Without Your Love".
There's slow moments in the atmospheric, heartfelt balllad "Lost in My World" and the acoustically filled "Indian Souls", while "King Heroin" has dark, sinister spoken lyrics in an intersting subtle musical background.
For the end, Scarlet reserved space for the instrumental "Carousel" where he shows his talents. This isn't the typical guitar hero 'here I am' flashing stuff. The track is an excellent composed and performed rocker with vintage keys, loose drumming and awesome guitar arrangements.
"I Plead The Fifth" is a convincing Hard Rock album out of the usual parameters.
If you are tired of the same patterns and scales this is for you, nothing ground-breaking or experimental, just well produced and recorded hard rocking songs played with power and passion.
01 - Lips Like Morphine
02 - Burning Through Life
03 - Love Will Find a Way
04 - I Dont Wanna Die
05 - Lost in My World
06 - Without Your Love
07 - Indian Souls (1876)
08 - King Heroin
09 - Carousel
Richie Scarlet - Vocals, Guitars, Bass
Russ Wilson - Drums
Peter Gallinari - Keyboards
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013
thanks to Pete
Brainchild of exquisite guitarist John Fontana, US prog rockers SHADOW CIRCUS were founded in 2006 releasing two albums so far.
Here in 2013, Shadow Circus is a quintet and with this new line-up are presenting today, January 15th, "On A Dark And Stormy Night", their brand new wonderful work.
"On A Dark and Stormy Night" is primarily symphonic progressive rock with influences from the classic acts of the genre, but also some hard rocking sections reminiscent of the eighties and brief hints of stylized prog metal prevent things from ever sounding too familiar.
The lyrics are based on the award-winning science fiction fantasy classic, A Wrinkle In Time, by Madeleine L'Engle, and is being released with the full cooperation of the L'Engle estate as it coincides with the 50th anniversary of the original publication of the book.
Using all the latest technologies, Shadow Circus inject plenty of bombast, melody and power into this storyline, and for fans of classic progressive rock, there's plenty to enjoy.
From the aggressive, symphonic pieces "Daddy's Gone" and "Whosit, Whatsit & Which", to the grand & majestic piano led "Make Way for the Big Show", the band doesn't skimp on big arrangements and soaring melodies.
They can also really rock out when they want to, like on the Dream Theater-meets-Deep Purple influenced burner "Tesseract", complete with some heavy grooves, scorching guitar and symphonic keyboards.
Then again, if it's lush, melodic prog you crave in the style of Yes, look no further than the lovely "Uriel", which features some of Silver's most stunning keyboard textures on the album.
Lead vocalist Bobick does a fine job throughout, but he's perhaps at his best on the dark, menacing closer "The Battle For Charles Wallace", a real heavy tune in spots with crushing guitar from Fontana, loads of keyboards, and on the soaring vocal sections a great performance from Bobick.
There's beauty, passion, emotion and power throughout "On A Dark and Stormy Night", a progressive rock album that pretty much works on all levels.
Epic for those who like the prog rock greats of the '70s, just heavy enough in spots and with plenty of musical virtuosity for the prog metal crowd, and a well crafted concept based on a beloved book that will surely please both camps.
Shadow Circus have certainly started off 2013 with a real bang.
02. Daddy's Gone
03. Whosit, Whatsit and Which
04. Make Way For The Big Show
09. The Battle For Charles Wallace
David Bobick - vocals
John Fontana - guitars, keyboards
David Silver - keyboards
Mark Masek - bass, cello, 12 string nylon guitar
Jason Brower - drums, percussion
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BLACK ROSE is a Swedish band (not to be confused with the U.K. act or any other group using the same name) originally formed back in 1990 with more than a few time lags between albums and line-up changes.
"Turn On The Night" comes nine years from their last officially released full length album. Nevertheless, for pure Eighties-style Hard Rock in the Swedish tradition, Black Rose continues to fire on all cylinders.
Actually, excepting a ballad, this CD veers more to the melodic hardest rock side of things with strong riffs, raspy, sometimes husky vocals and a rather bombastic rhythm section, in a style akin Lionsheart, M.ILL.ION, Pretty Maids, Axel Rudi Pell and early Europe.
The musical commander here is six-string wizard Thomas Berg, owner of a clean technique over his impressive rhythm guitars and elaborated solos in the traditional way, but hardly typical or repetitive from song to song.
Singer Peter Thederan is the other strong foundation in the band's compact sound delivering a complete performance with his wide range vocals, reminding me of the legendary Kai Hansen in some of the tracks. Thederan is also responsible of the solid harmonies and background vocals the band has come up with.
The CD opener "My Enemies" starts with a very strange bass note which sounds like a spaceship appearing from behind the dark clouds, and suddenly drummer Peter Haga starts to rock the flames on his drums. Also an epic keyboard line joins them to complete this circle of greatness. You can hear traces of '80s Yngwie Malmsteen on the guitar work yet more melodic, with a very clean fast picking.
Follower "Rise Again" is much more traditional Hard sporting a winner, catchy eighties riff and a melodious chorus build around very good harmonies.
Title track "Turn On The Night" is another guitar-driven track with a blast of drums in background, a true rocking song with razor riffs and wonderful guitar solos a la Axel Rudi Pell, while "Never Let Me Down" is rich in melodies and the chorus hooks you up right away.
As said, "We Were Winners" is the only ballad here, in the very European style filled with acoustics and floating electric guitars. There's a lovable powerful chorus that made me think of Pretty Maids. A highlight.
"Hunter" returns to the hard sounds with a conception inspired by Rainbow Dio-era with good dynamics and a little different production orientation than the rest of the tracks. Kick ass Blackmore-like guitar solo.
"The Bold And The Beauty" is a heavy but melodic midtempo with riffantastic guitars, whilst the pace ups a little with the eighties rocker "Busted".
The album ends with a great Pretty Maids sounding track called "Our Wisdom", perhaps the more Melodic Hard Rock tune of the entire album thanks to the catchy chorus, still retaining the band's edge.
"Turn On The Night" delivers energetic and melodic eighties inspired European Hard Rock sounds with a huge amount of powerful guitar riffs and solos.
The band performs very well together and the feel-good vibe is present all over as there's no dark lyrics / melodies here, just rockin' uptempo tunes.
Black Rose feels like genuine musicians playing from the heart the music they love and that can be heard between the nine songs of this correctly self-produced CD.
Keep on rockin'.
01 - My Enemies
02 - Rise Again
03 - Turn On The Night
04 - Never Let Me Down
05 - We Were Winners
06 - Hunter
07 - The Bold And The Beauty
08 - Busted
09 - Our Wisdom
Peter Thederan – Lead and Background Vocals
Thomas Berg – Guitar
Anders Haga – Bass
Peter Haga – Drums
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Monday, January 14, 2013
EDDIE MONEY's life was turned upside down by the runaway success of his self-titled debut album. The fast-talkin’ New Yorker spent fifteen years chasing his dreams of rock stardom, first in bands on his native east coast, then right across the other side of the country following a move to Berkeley, California.
The two following LP's certainly set the scene: panoramic American Melodic Rock filled with memorable hooks supporting an instantly identifiable rasp.
It was a tailor made sound that perfectly fitted the American airwaves at the beginning of the eighties sitting comfortably besides music from the likes of Boston, Foreigner and Journey.
Looking expand his success even further, Eddie switch to work with a new producer - the revered Tom Dowd (Chicago, Eric Clapton) - for his fourth album "No Control", to provide and even more organic and polished AOR sound.
Above all else, it was the quality of the songs that gave the record a golden hue and the glossy production made it shoe-in for saturation play on FM radio.
Chief amongst the best tracks were the two hit singles "Think I’m In Love" and "Shakin`" or the awesome midtempo AOR "Hard Life", but there were deeper songs to explore such as the John Bellushi tribute "Passing By The Graveyard (Song For John B)" and the bluesy "It Could Happen To You".
With the continued presence of guitar foil Jimmy Lyons, "No Control" shot Eddie into the spotlight, notching up sales in excess of three million and establishing him as one of the era's most prolific stars.
Another great remastering by Rock Candy from the original source tapes @ 24-bit, enhanced artwork and previously unseen photos.
01 - Shakin'
02 - Runnin' Away
03 - Think I'm In Love
04 - Hard Life
05 - No Control
06 - Take A Little Bit
07 - Keep My Motor Runnin'
08 - My Friends, My Friends
09 - Drivin' Me Crazy
10 - Passing By The Graveyard (Song For John B)
11 - It Could Happen To You
Eddie Money: vocals, keyboards, harp
Jimmy Lyons: guitars, keyboards
Alan Pasqua: keyboards
Ralph Carter: bass
Gary Ferguson: drums
Marty Walsh, Chuck Kirkpatrick: add. guitar
Randy Nichols: organ, piano
Ed Calle: sax
Gary Mallaber, Art Wood, Tony Brock: add. drums
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Swiss hard rockers SHAKRA, originally from Bern, have been together since the mid-nineties and they are still around with 3 original band members.
Almost 20 years in the business has enabled them to hit the German and Swiss album charts, play countless gigs and festivals, yet the band never made it big in UK and America.
With their brand new album "Powerplay" released today Shakra are willing to change that.
Throughout its long career Shakra has always been a source of great rocking tunes with catchy lyrics without being cheesy, added by a range of undemanding riffing.
Diversity has never been the band's integral elements in their song making process, yet their material also peaked to various places playing heavier tunes on the verge of metal while still letting the '80s hard rock lead the way of their European mixed with American motivated music.
Well, "Powerplay" is Shakra's more commercial and melodic oriented album to date.
"Powerplay" is plenty of meaty riff work and solos smattered throughout, crushing drums and the catchy choruses with an '80s feel typical from the band, but this time with many tracks leaning on Euro Melodic Hard Rock, as the effective opener "Life Is Now".
Second track "The Mask" is a solid rocker with an excellent tempo and superb twin guitar attack, followed by one of the highlights on the CD, the melodic hard rock blaster "Higher".
On "Wonderful Life" Shakra shows again their intention to reach a wider audience. It's a traditional power ballad in a classic way; raspy vocals, strong drums and melodious sustained guitars. Really well crafted.
In the goodie "Because Of You" I hear a vibe of Whitesnake, while "Save You From Yourself" has a sprinkle of Euro hard 'n heavy in the muscular chorus.
"Don't Keep Me Hanging" has a wonderful classic hard rock hook, and "Dream Of Mankind" is driven by groovy guitars and thumping drums.
Shakra is one of the better European Hard Rock acts that seem to have survived the test of time. All their albums are solid and coherent with the band's roots.
"Powerplay" is not the exception - more than that - it's the Helvetians best album to date plenty of '80s inspired melodies, sparking choruses, raspy toned vocals and excellent six-string work.
While retaining their trademark hard edge, this new CD is more melodic and stylized than anything Shakra has recorded so far.
"Powerplay" is the kind of album that any self respecting hard rocker will love, classic (melodic this time) Hard Rock that will make you happy the genre is not dead.
01. Life Is Now
02. The Mask
04. Wonderful Life
05. Dear Enemy
06. Save You From Yourself
07. Don't Keep Me Hanging
08. Dream Of Mankind
10. Because Of You
11. Secret Hideaway
12. Too Good To Be True
John Prakesh - Vocals
Thom Blunier - Guitars
Thomas Muster - Guitars
Dominik Pfister - Bass
Roger Tanner - Drums
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