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Artist Title Score Label
Degreed DEGREED - Dead But Not Forgotten (Review) 100 Sun Hill
The V THE V - Now Or Never (Review) 85 Frontiers
Kelly Keeling KELLY KEELING - Mind Radio (Review) 75 Frontiers
Chaos Magic CHAOS MAGIC Featuring Caterina Nix & Timo Tolkki (Review) 78 Frontiers
Dimino DIMINO - Old Habits Die Hard (Review) 80 Frontiers
Asia ASIA - Axis XXX Live in San Francisco MMXII (Review) 82 Frontiers
Trixter TRIXTER - Human Era (Review) 95 Frontiers
Beauvoir Free BEAUVOIR FREE - American Trash (Review) 83 Frontiers
House Of Lords HOUSE OF LORDS - Indestructible (Review) 88 Frontiers
Bonfire BONFIRE - Glorious (Review) 85 Borila
Ammunition AMMUNITION - Shanghaied (Review) 95 AOR Heaven
Last Autumn's Dream LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM - Level Eleven (Review) 90 AOR Heaven
The Poodles THE POODLES - Devil In The Details (Review) 87 Gain
Halestorm HALESTORM - Into The Wild Life (Review) 90 Atlantic
Bret Michaels BRET MICHAELS - True Grit (Review) 30 Cowpoke
Whitesnake WHITESNAKE - The Purple Album (Review) 89 Frontiers
Cain's Offering CAIN'S OFFERING - Stormcrow (Review) 91 Frontiers
Nelson NELSON - Peace Out (Review) 89 Frontiers
Sammy Hagar SAMMY HAGAR & THE CIRCLE - At Your Service (Review) 89 Mailboat
Eden's Curse EDEN'S CURSE - Live With The Curse (Review) 88 AFM
Axel Rudi Pell AXEL RUDI PELL - Magic Moments, Live (Review) 84 SPV
Tom Cochrane TOM COCHRANE - Take It Home (Review) 65
Red Monday RED MONDAY - Red Monday (Review) 85 Indie
Magnum MAGNUM - Escape From The Shadow Garden Live 2014 (Review) 88 SPV
Ten TEN - Isla De Muerta (Review) 92 Rocktopia
Europe EUROPE - War Of Kings (Review) 94 UDR
Van Halen VAN HALEN - Tokyo Dome In Concert (Review) 85 Warner Bros.
Talon TALON - Fourplay (Review) 91 Escape
Jim Peterik & Marc Scherer PETERIK/SCHERER - Risk Everything (Review) 95 Frontiers
Impellitterri IMPELLITTERI - Venom (Review) 86 Frontiers

Pages

Thu
16
Jul

DEGREED - Dead But Not Forgotten (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
100%
Produced By: 
Mats Ericsson
Running Time: 
52
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
Modern Melodic Rock
Score: 
100
Label: 
Sun Hill
Artist: 
 
Swedish rockers Degreed are one of my favourite “New Swedish Revolution” bands; one of several artists in Scandinavia that are pushing updated modern melodic rock sounds – classic melodies for a new era - the likes of HEAT, Eclipse, Work Of Art and The Poodles for example.
 
Degreed are also close to my heart as I released their debut album Life, Love, Loss on MRR in 2009. The second album We Don’t Belong was another outstanding slice of memorable songs that saw the guys modernize a little further, while easing up on the harder edge of their sound. Those are two really amazing albums that simply exhume class, melody and style.
 
Now Dead But Not Forgotten fulfills the trilogy. This is the band’s Slippery When Wet; their Pyromania. This is simply an astonishingly good album that sees the guys excel in every single department – songwriting, performance, vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards and production – what can I say about production? Perfection! Balanced mix, clear instruments, powerful, easy to play at any volume. Absolute perfection.
Drummer Mats Ericsson is the man in control for the first time. He knows the songs and the sound intimately of course, but it is the sheer precision in which the album has been mixed and the performances captured that goes way beyond that a self-produced album normally sounds like.
If this rock star drummer lark doesn’t work out for Mats, then he has a long career as a producer and mix engineer ahead of him.
Robin Eriksson screams louder and wails with more passion than ever before, Micke Jansson is a revelation on keyboards this time around and Daniel Johansson now ranks as one of my favourite guitar players.
 
Simply put – there’s something on this album for everyone. Power, melody, classic and new sounds, anthems, harmonies, waiting guitars and lush keyboards. Quite extraordinary really.
I could go on and on, but let’s just cut straight to the music. And we have 14, yes 14 tracks and not one single minute of filler among them.
There is massive diversity, yet complete cohesion. That’s another credit to the band. And I’ve honestly had a really hard time reviewing anything lately as all I can play is this album.
 
The Scam – a 4 minute blast of angst and energy. Starts with a controlled melody before turning metal with some blinding vocals. A terrific guitar solo and a bombastic ‘live in concert’ ending.
Face The Fact – classic Degreed…modern and commercial, yet 80s keyboards swirling around in the background and a massive chorus. Should be on radio. Today.
Madness – darker and moodier, yet faster and even more melodic. A building melody rises to a dramatic chorus.
Shame On Me – once again, 80s keyboards filter through the song, from the opening sequence to the constant layer of melody under the thumping bass. The mid-song left turn into a short burst of modern aggressive metal and a blazing guitar solo just adds to the brilliance.
Better Safe Than Sorry – is simply a Song Of The Year contender with big harmonies, big everything. One of those album tracks you always look forward to hearing, despite loving all the tracks around it. A big melodic rocker that continues the frenetic pace of this album.
Love Me, Love Me Not – this little ditty is another true winner. One from the Degreed “mood” handbook with a pure FM radio commercial hook and fist pumping moody chorues.
Drama – great vocal into and those keyboards in play again. Verse to bridge to chorus…one hook after another.
 
Kill Your Darlings – in your face hard rocking attitude. Old meets new once again on this beefed up rocker, powered by riffs and rhythm. The bass and drum performance and indeed, the way the rhythm section are captured in the studio is another strong suit of this album.
Touch Of Paradise – hands in the air singalong melodic bliss on this anthemic, rocking AOR masterpiece with a chorus so utterly infectious, it should come with a health warning.
Forgive You – heavy. Then not. Then heavy, fast and furious. Then not! Then start over again. Another big favourite from this collection of favourites. This chorus is amazing.
Start Again – darker, heavier, keyboards everywhere, guitars everywhere.
Firefly – holy smoking melodic anthems Batman! How can a song this good, be relegated to track 12?!!! When 1-11 are as good as they are on this album, that’s how. But this is just another track to look forward to every time. This modern commercial rock that should be all over radio everywhere. Kids in their 1000s should be lining up to buy this.
Final Ride – fast and furious again and keyboard swirls mixing it up with choppy guitar riffs and punchy drum beats. And a great chorus of course!
Turn Around, Don’t Back Down – surely a ballad to close out this 14 track tour de force? After 13 rockers, this has to be a calm way to close the album? No way! While the first part might hint at something mellower, the chorus and remaining song put that to rest. A powerful melodic closer with a passionate vocal that draws to an end what can only be rated as a perfect album.

And that folks, is how you create a melodic rock album in 2015. One that has commercial appeal, modern writing and production, yet remains as melodic and keyboard fused as anything from the glory days.
There is always going to be comments here and there about someone “not getting” this band or this sound, or claiming it to be “overhyped”, but that’s simply because there are so many opinions and every one of them is absolutely valid, but not everyone is going to like every album right? If this style suits you and if the band’s first two albums already have a home in your collection, then this is absolutely essential. Essential I say!
 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Thu
16
Jul

THE V - Now Or Never (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
85%
section name: 
BEST TRACKS
content: 
Again
L.O.V.E
Line In The Sand
Love Should Be To Blame
Starshine
Produced By: 
John Herrera, Kenny Lewis, Michael Sweet
Running Time: 
46
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Hard Rock
Score: 
85
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
 
Having shown a pretty strong dislike for the Benedictum albums and an even stronger dislike for frontwoman Veronica Freeman’s scream powered vocals, I had absolutely zero interest in The V – Ms Freeman’s debut solo outing. Expectations dare I say, were even lower.
So imagine my surprise to find a rather enjoyable, beautifully sung melodic hard rock (and slightly metal) album right here.
After checking I was playing the right CD, I sat back and took in the “melodic” side of Veronica’s persona and really enjoyed it.
 
Now or Never features a huge array of special guests, including Pete Wells, Aric Avina and Rikard Stjernquist of Benedictum, Michael Sweet (Stryper), Garry Bordonaro (The Rods), Jeff Pilson (Dokken, Foreigner), Mike Lepond (Symphony X), Tony Martin (Black Sabbath), Jerry Dixon (Warrant) and more.
 
A strong musical performance and a solid production are immediately noticeable, but what makes it most enjoyable are the lead vocals.
Naturally there are some big metal moments, where the aggression and power are front and center (Again, Ready To Run, King For A Day – featuring Tony Martin on vocals), but the beauty of this album is the range displayed.
There’s groove (Now Or Never, Kiss My Lips), punky hard rock (Rollercoaster), melodic hard rock (L.O.V.E, Line In The Sand, Love Should Be To Blame) and even a track that could be described as AOR (Starshine).

This won’t have me looking forward to a new Benedictum album, but I will certainly hope to see a sequel to The V at some point in the future and commend Veronica Freeman for trying something a little different and pulling it off successfully.
While the continuing change in musicians from track to track do cause some variations in sound and production throughout the album, the songs (mostly written by Freeman and Wells, but including tracks from Nigel Bailey, Vince O’Regan and two from Michael Sweet) and the vocals are the glue that holds this together.
 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Tue
14
Jul

KELLY KEELING - Mind Radio (Review)

Produced By: 
Alessandro Del Vecchio
Running Time: 
54
Release Date: 
July 3
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock
Score: 
75
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
 
Musically speaking, there are no surprises for singer Kelly Keeling’s new solo album. This is another Alessandro Del Vecchio project, with the added bonus of Kelling actually participating in the songwriting process.
There are also 3 new songs from the Baton Rogue writing trio of Keeling/Jack Ponti/Lance Bulen. These three songs are from the failed reunion attempt, that directly lead to this solo album being commissioned instead.
As is always the case, Alessandro does a fine production and mix job, and the AdelV Band are on song as usual. I’m a big fan of Ale and yes, I’ve read many comments about the ‘production line’ aspect of having one artist behind a number of albums, but as long as the quality remains high, consumers will vote with their wallets.
Ale’s been on a hot streak of late, with Revolution Saints, LRS and Fergie Frederiksen to name just three. That streak hasn’t ended with Kelly Keeling, but his long term average might take a small hit.
 
This is a solid enough album, but I can’t quite put my finger on why it’s not another knockout. To simplify it, I think perhaps the songs aren’t quite there. The use of three different writing teams for the albums 12 tracks gives the album 3 different distinct sounds. The two Robert Sall tracks are great AOR (as always); the 3 Baton Rouge tracks are typical of their sound and then there are the Alessandro tracks.
But more importantly, I don’t think Kelly’s overall vocal performance is as committed as one might expect.
 
Songwise, Isolated Man is a nice mid-tempo melodic rock tune with a rising chorus.
Sunshine Over Me I like mainly because it reminds me of the Toto song Caught In The Balance – it’s that kind of moody guitar driven track.
The anthemic ballad Still Need You In My Arms is one of the stronger tracks present.
Written In Fire is the first of the three Baton Rouge tracks and shows an immediate change in style to match the BR of old.
Love Will Tears Us Apart is pretty good also. Frozen Time is the first of two songs from the pen of Robert Sall – good European melodic rock tunes both of them and totally within the Work Of Art style. Just without the ultra-smooth vocals of Lars Safsund.
Monkey House is the second BR track – a moody rocker with a heavy organ presence. Kelly’s vocals however really don’t match the energy of the song.
Ride Out The Storm is the second Robert Sall track – again, another classy AOR tune.
Who Do You Run To is the third BR track and the most aggressive. A dry, organic hard rocker that’s ok, but isn’t what I would rank in the same class as classic Baton Rouge material.

Individually there are some fine songs here and I particularly like several, but put together as an album, it’s not as cohesive as it should be.
Keeling sounds a little underdone and under enthusiastic. This will have to be for fans of Baton Rouge and Keeling to check out and decide for themselves.
 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Tue
14
Jul

CHAOS MAGIC Featuring Caterina Nix & Timo Tolkki (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
78%
section name: 
BEST TRACKS
content: 
One Drop Of Blood
A Little Too Late
Passionflow
Point Of No Return
Produced By: 
Timo Tolkki
Release Date: 
July 3
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Symphonic Hard Rock
Score: 
78
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
 
This new project titled Chaos Magic is Timo Tolki’s attempt to create a musical project in the vein of Within Temptation or Nightwish.
Vocalist for this occasion is newcomer Caterina Nix, a lady with a very fine voice indeed. I’m sure we will hear a lot more from her over time. The range is there and the high notes are also there (maybe too many), but not quite carrying the power of her contemporaries.
 
In control is Timo Tolkki, who has written all songs, performs guitar, keyboards, bass and also takes control of recording, producing, mixing and mastering.
A set of outside ears might be helpful for Timo. This is a better production than his Avalon releases, but not to the standard as the recent Allen/Lande or what is needed to break a new act.
Musically there are still some good songs to enjoy – One Drop Of Blood is an obvious stand out; A Little Too Late is instantly catchy; Passionflow is suitably dramatic and the fast paced Point Of No Return is a good conclusion to the debut.

An interesting album. Caterina is a great discovery, but having publicly declared that this project was attempting to sound like Within Temptation, the natural reaction is to immediately compare the two. If you do that, Chaos Magic is going to come up short. But, enjoy it for what it is and fans of female fronted symphonic hard rock should find enough to latch on to.

 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Mon
13
Jul

DIMINO - Old Habits Die Hard (Review)

information persons: 
Produced By: 
Frank Dimino
Running Time: 
45
Release Date: 
July 3
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Classic Rock
Score: 
80
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
 
A comeback solo album from former Angel vocalist Frank Dimino is not something that would normally pop up on my musical radar. 70s pomp rockers Angel were a little before my time and generally a little outside my tastes.
But in my duties as reviewer here – Old Habits Die Hard is here to feature.
 
Frank’s vocals are somewhat different than the heyday and musically speaking this is more straight forward classic 70s rock than pomp. that the guys have hit their mark with this album.
The style and the vocals remind of a little of UFO and Vanilla Fudge – which is probably a sign
Frank has brought in a lot of fine folks to help him here - Paul Crook (Meat Loaf), Oz Fox (Stryper), Eddie Ojeda (Twisted Sister), Danny Miranda, Rickey Medlocke (Blackfoot, Lynyrd Skynyrd), Jeff Labansky, and former Angel bandmates Punky Meadows (on guitar) and Barry Brandt (co-writing with Frank the song Even Now).
 
So it’s a very star studded and largely uptempo affair. Highlights include the opener Never Again and Rockin’ In The City; the earthy 70s ballad Even Now and the stomping Mad As Hell.
The remaining tracks all fit in nicely but will likely hold appeal with already established fans of Frank.
The production is a bit iffy overall – the drum sound is pretty soft and I think and the mix a little muddy in places, but at the same time, it has that authentic 70s groove.

So not bad at all – better than I had expected and better again after a few listens. Not an album for everyone, but well suited for fans of Dimino and that 70s classic rock retro feel.

 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Fri
26
Jun

ASIA - Axis XXX Live in San Francisco MMXII (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
82%
Produced By: 
Asia
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock
Score: 
82
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
 
A new live Asia album/DVD is right up there with those other fan-craved items such as another Styx DVD, a Bret Michaels country album and a new vocalist in Red Dragon Cartel.
But here it is anyway – their 5th live release since reforming and following the quite turgid High Voltage Live release.
 
Thankfully this is a far superior release. Everything that was wrong with High Voltage is corrected here.
The band is awake, the audio is pro-recorded and the set list an expanded full-show experience.
Naturally it’s die-hards only that are going to be remotely interested in this, especially as it is live album number 5, but the longer set list and the far better production quality has put this release well ahead of the other competing titles.
 
The enthusiastic San Francisco audience laps up all the usual fan favourites such as Heat of The Moment, Only Time Will Tell, Wildest Dreams, Don’t Cry and The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.
Thrown into the mix are some of the better new tracks, which form a seamless bond with the classics. Face On The Bridge and Extraordinary Life faring the best.
 
I could well do without the 10 minute drums solo, thankfully the acoustic guitar solo is but one third that length. Definitely better value watching the DVD than on the CD for those two.
 
Great musicians these guys, but not the most mobile or visually enthralling act around. But with this value for money set, you can tune in with your ears or eyes depending on mood and appreciate the best songs of this classic rock act.
If you have the other 4 live releases, this won’t surprise, but it will impress.
 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Fri
19
Jun

TRIXTER - Human Era (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
95%
section name: 
BEST TRACKS
content: 
Rockin’ To The Edge Of The Night
Crash That Party
Every Second Counts
Beats Me Up
Good Times Now
Midnight in Your Eyes
Human Era
Produced By: 
Trixter
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock
Score: 
95
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
This is just one of those albums that is set to please just about everyone. Fans of old-school 80s melodic hard rock, fans of great anthemic, kick-ass tunes with a good production and fans of great classic era music that doesn’t sound dated.
Trixter follow up the success of New Audio Machine with arguably one of the best ever records.
It’s just a whole lot of fun to listen to.
Huge production, big guitars, big songs and big attitude.
 
The guys just get better and better. Taking the party rock vibe of their early days and mixing it with a more mature retrospective attitude to their songwriting, Human Era mixes the best of both worlds, giving you some kick-ass hands in the air tunes that a 40 year old wouldn’t be embarrassed pumping out of the car stereo.
 
Rockin’ To The Edge Of The Night and the riff heavy, double timed Crash That Party are two fist pumping hard rockers to kick off this album in big style.
Not Like All the Rest mixes Steve Brown’s penchant for modern rock with old-school 80s rock for a sweet anthemic hybrid.
For You is 80s Van Halen before a contender for Song Of The Year blows my mind. The sentimental melodic rocker Every Second Counts features everything I love about this music. Modern, classic, melodic…
The following track is just as essential. Beats Me Up is a beautiful new-meets-old, hands in the air stadium ballad.
And it just continues with the harmony drenched mi-tempo melodic rock anthem Good Times Now and the moodier, darker Midnight in Your Eyes and the rapid fire 80s rock of All Night Long.
Soul of a Lovin' Man is a cool edgier, gritty rocker and then the album is closed in perfect class with the moodier, more melodic and reflective title track Human Era.

Others may have a more sentimental attachment to the band’s debut or earlier work, but for me – this is their best album to date and shows a refined maturity mixed with the classy side of 80s melodic hard rock.
It’s a super fun and thoroughly enjoyable album and the band deserve big credit for the results.
Fans from all walks of life are going to enjoy this – it might even be the first ever Trixter purchase for some.
 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Fri
19
Jun

BEAUVOIR FREE - American Trash (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
83%
section name: 
BEST TRACKS
content: 
Angels Cry
Shotgun To The Heart
Never Give Up
It’s Never Too Late
There’s No Starting Over
Just Breathe
Produced By: 
Beauvoir Free
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Score: 
83
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
 
The architects of the great, no classic, Crown Of Thorns self-titled masterpiece are back together again to create the next chapter in their partnership.
Multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Jean Beauvoir teams with guitarist/songwriter Micki Free to record this album as a duo, with the mission of picking up where the million dollar (literally) CoT debut left off.
 
After living with this for a while, I say the guys have an album split down the middle between hitting their target with a bullseye, and missing the mark.
Where it works is where the material best resembles the expected Crown Of Thorns sound. The voice of Beauvoir, the fine melodies and groove laden guitar work from Free are a true joy to hear in such well-produced songs such as the opening crunch of Angels Cry; the rolling melodic rock of Shotgun To The Heart (this could have been straight off the debut); the semi-acoustic Never Give Up and the glorious AOR anthem that is It’s Never Too Late. If only every track was as wonderful as this one. The closing There’s No Starting Over is also terrific old-school melodic rock.
The guys deliver a knockout ballad too, well worthy of the Crown Of Thorns name, Just Breathe is the big sentimental, harmony filled power ballad.
 
Where the guys miss the target for me is when they go off course to explore some bluesier, heavier sounds. Morning After didn’t grab me at all to start, but is saved by the melodic chorus; the garage rock of American Trash is something that doesn’t suit the album and I’m not too hot on Whiplash either, which is more AC/DC than CoT.
Add in a couple of ok tracks and the album seems split between classic and tracks dependent upon a listener’s mood.

In the end it’s great to hear these guys together again and this is going to make a lot of Crown Of Thorns fans happy. There’s a little of the debut here, some Lost Cathedral (their second best opus) and a little of the experimentation that slipped into latter day CoT albums.
All in all – a solid album, but not the classic I was anticipating.
 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Fri
19
Jun

HOUSE OF LORDS - Indestructible (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
88%
section name: 
BEST TRACKS
content: 
Go To Hell
Pillar Of Salt
100 Mph
Call My Bluff
Die To Tell
We Will Always Be One
Produced By: 
House Of Lords / Mixed: Ty Sims
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Score: 
88
Label: 
Frontiers
 
House Of Lords are in quick time with another all new studio release to follow up last year’s Precious Metal. Now up to album number six since converting to the James Christian controlled lineup of Jimi Bell, B.J. Zampa and Chris McCarvill; House Of Lords are a force to be reckoned with.
They will have to be careful about how much material they are putting out and ensuring that the quality doesn’t drop. In the last 18 months we’ve had two studio albums and James Christian’s own solo album.
 
After the patchy Precious Metal (which I rated too highly at the time), the band deliver some monster melodic rock tunes on Indestructible. It still doesn’t match the brilliance of Come To My Kingdom and World Upside Down, but it does deliver a few new HOL classics, even if the sound of the band has changed somewhat.
What I am referring to is the heavy use of James’ lovely wife Robin Beck on harmony and lead “high vocals” throughout the album.
James’ voice has become a little rougher in recent years, but he is now abdicating the role of singing the higher notes to Robin. Her voice is very cleverly mixed in there, but it’s very obvious and at times it sounds too high compared to the sound of old.
Listen to any of the HOL albums up until Cartesian Dreams and you’ll hear only James on harmonies and high vocals. From Big Money onwards it has slowly changed the band’s sound. And while I love the sound and style of the band and still really enjoy their music – this album especially – it’s a different vocal style/mix being employed.
For this band I do prefer the all-male harmonies of earlier albums.
 
The hard driving Go To Hell is as heavy as it sounds and is made better by an infusion of keyboards (still not enough keyboards in the album generally). The chorus of this and the huge hard rock groove of the very likable Indestructible is dominated by that high pitch vocal from Robin. Same goes for Pillar Of Salt. It’s a good song first and foremost, but I can hardly hear James in the main chorus line.
100 Mph is much the same again, another very high chorus, but it’s a ripping hard rock song and very catchy.
The melodic rock of Call My Bluff features one of the catchiest vocal melody lines in recent HOL memory. A terrific song and hook.
Die To Tell has come classic elements of the HOL sound and it is a good place to point out what a kick ass team James has behind him.
Another Dawn has another strong chorus of course, but I’d have preferred to hear more of James in the chorus.
Ballads come in the form of the anthemic We Will Always Be One and…. Yes, that’s it! One big quality ballad while the rest of the album just rocks out – like the double-time fury of the last two tracks Ain't Suicidal and Stand And Deliver.

Yes, another highly rated quality album from House Of Lords, but more and more so, they are a different sounding band vocally. The songs though are good. Very good. Some of their best in a few albums.
Jimi Bell is a guitar legend and Chris and BJ are the rhythm section from (good) hell. Absolutely blinding performances on there from those guys.
Good production and a clean mix make for an easy listen at any volume, but loud is always preferable of course.
 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Wed
17
Jun

BONFIRE - Glorious (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
85%
section name: 
BEST TRACKS
content: 
21 Guns Salute
Nothing At All
Can’t Break Away
Remember
Fallin Out Of Love
Supernatural Disguise
Shooting Star
Produced By: 
Hans Ziller
Running Time: 
67
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
Hard Rock
Score: 
85
Label: 
Borila
Artist: 
 
Bonfire are one of the more beloved bands of the melodic rock genre that originate from Germany. Their mix of melodic rock and AOR ballads with an, at times harder edge, has always been delivered with the warm and raspy vocals of Claus Lessmann.
While the band has origins as far back as 1972, the mid-80s found the band at their creative and commercial best.
EZ Livin’ is guitarist Hans Ziller’s side project that yielded the well regarded debut back in 1991 and Firestrom, the considerably less regarded comeback from 2014.
With issues arising between Lessmann and Ziller, and the latter’s desire to tour more, Bonfire seemingly merged with the EZ Livin lineup – featuring frontman David Reece, which has now delivered the new album Glorious.
 
The naysayers were armed and ready, and after the recent EZ Livin album, I was not expecting much.
But I’m pleasantly surprised by the energy and quality of his new album.
Bonfire die-hards might complain about the change up in sound and direction – this is a far heavier incarnation and the material is pure hard rock and not surprisingly, more in line with the EZ Livin’ sound.
David Reece brings his booming voice to some pretty strong material. Naturally his distinct style brings comparisons to Bangalore Choir and his own Reece releases.
 
The album opens with a big statement – three memorable hard rockers of various tones – 21 Guns Salute is hard hitting; Nothing At All is fast and furious with a good hook and Can’t Break Away is a moodier rocker.
Then the album delivers the needed melodic rock/AOR touch with a big melodic anthem in Remember and powerhouse ballad Fallin Out Of Love.
 
Supernatural Disguise rocks hard with a big chorus; Shooting Star is layers thick in harmonies; Put Out The Flames is also very likable from the get go.
The band risk fan ire by re-recording two Bonfire classics – Sweet Obsession and American Nights. Both are done with an extra layer of keyboards not found on the rest of the album. Sweet Obsession doesn’t quite sound right, but American Nights is better.
Closing the album is a lengthy cover of With A Little Help From My Friends. Not a song I’m particular enamored with, but you can’t deny the passion in this version and with David’s vocals.

Production is excellent, the songs are consistent and offer plenty of hooks to come back to and the energy within the band is easily enough to get fans excited.
It may not be the classic Bonfire we used to know, but it is a very strong hard rock release no matter what the moniker.
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Wed
17
Jun

AMMUNITION - Shanghaied (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
95%
section name: 
BEST TRACKS
content: 
Silverback
Give Me A Sign
Shanghaied
Tie Me Down
Wild Card
Heart’s Not In It
Sucker For Anything 
Produced By: 
Erik Martensson
Running Time: 
47
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Score: 
95
Label: 
AOR Heaven
Artist: 
 
This will be a shorter review than what it should have been had I reviewed this album when it was originally released. But…it’s never too late to discover or to be reminded of great music and this IS great music!
This all-star Swedish band is fronted by former Wig Wam vocalist Age Sten Nilsen along with Erik Martensson on guitars and production plus his Eclipse band mate Robban Bäck on drums.
Hal Patino rounds out the group on bass plus Lasse Finbråthen from Wig Wam on keyboards.
 
Let’s not beat around the bush – if you own Eclipse, you need this. If you own any Wig Wam album, you need this. If you own anything by Erik Martensson, you need this.
This is big budget, big sounding, big melodic hard rock with guitars, keyboards and hooks everywhere you look.
Age puts a very positive step forward for his first release outside Wig Wam; in fact, he comes close to releasing the best thing he’s ever done and a long way clear of the last couple of Wig Wam albums.
 
Highlights are plentiful – the stomping hard driving Silverback; the anthemic glory of Give Me A Sign; the mid-tempo harmony filled Shanghaied; the swagger and attitude of the rocking Tie Me Down; and then there’s the entry for song of the year Wild Card. What a blazing anthemic slice of AOR heaven!
The big bluesy ballad Heart’s Not In It is another highlight and Strung Out closes the album with an energetic blast.
The bonus track for some territories is the anthemic Sucker For Anything – essential if you can find it – it’s one of the album’s best tracks!

If you didn’t already pick up on it – this album is BIG. It’s a big, loud, anthemic, dirty and melodic rock n roll record with a touch of AOR/melodic rock/hard rock and glam.
It’s Swedish, it’s good. You need this.

 

Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Wed
17
Jun

LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM - Level Eleven (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
90%
section name: 
BEST TRACKS
content: 
Kiss Me
Follow Your Heart
Star
I'll B There 4 U
Fight The World
Made Of Stone
Produced By: 
Last Autumn's Dream
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
AOR
Score: 
90
Label: 
AOR Heaven
 
Again, older title, but still necessary purchase if you’ve missed it up until now.
Last Autumn’s Dream have been regularly releasing records for a decade now. Amazing feat and even better that this – their 11th studio album is one of their best.
 
The sound and style from these guys never varies much and I’m good with that.
Songs is what counts, as the Scandi-AOR delivered by these guys is already on my list of favourites.
 
The soulful, high-ish vocals of Mikael Erlandsson and the kick ass band featuring Jamie Borger – drums, Nalle Pahlsson – bass and Peter Söderström – guitars just know how to deliver a good song.
Level Eleven features some of the strongest material in a while. There’s a little more emphasis on guitars, but even more focus on big hooks and memorable choruses.
And the pace is kept pretty pumped too.
 
The production could probably use a little work, but the songs are what make this album great.
There are no fillers whatsoever. Just track after track of catchy pure Scandi melodic rock/AOR.
Best for me – the uptempo AOR of Kiss Me, Follow Your Heart, Star, I'll B There 4 U and the ballads Fight The World and Made Of Stone.

LAD fans will have this already, but if you don’t…WHY NOT?!
Other AOR fans and those partial to some sweet Scandi melodic bliss, invest some time and money checking this out now.
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Wed
17
Jun

THE POODLES - Devil In The Details (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
87%
section name: 
BEST TRACKS
content: 
Before I Die
House of Cards
The Greatest
Crack in the Wall
Everything
Alive
Borderline
Produced By: 
Mats Valentin
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Score: 
87
Label: 
Gain
Artist: 
 
I love these guys. More Swedish melodic greatness, fronted by one of the best voices in the land – Jakob Samuel. His raspy mix of melody and power and presence give him an edge over many others.
This is the band’s 6th studio album already – where does the time go? I like them all, but this and the last album have been particularly satisfying.
 
Devil In The Details is easily the band’s most diverse release yet and also their most modern as far as production and production effects.
Diverse and modern are two words that scare (with good reason!) many fans of this genre and you can add ‘not very commercial’ to the list, but I’m pleased to say that everything used on this album is only to serve the songs.
Track by track this is a very consistent and very catchy set of songs.
Production is awesome – it’s this kind of modernization that the genre needs to appeal to new fans, yet everything about this release screams classic hard rock.
 
The rousing Before I Die with a flurry of heavy riffs and powerful beats is a killer opener.
House Of Cards is an intense, sonically powerful track that leads into the perfect commercial melodic rock ballad The Greatest.
Crack In The Wall is a “wall” of sound – a high energy rocker that leads into the quirky heavy programmed pop feel of (What The Hell) Baby. Suddenly I’m thinking Baby One More Time though. First H.E.A.T, now The Poodles?
Other highlights include Everything - a fantastic uptempo anthem; the cool modern rocker Alive and another effects filled modern rocker Borderline to close.

A different sound from the guys, while retaining their original sound. No one sounds like The Poodles, but they still manage to mix things up and this album is no different.
Another strong and consistent release.
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Wed
10
Jun

HALESTORM - Into The Wild Life (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
90%
section name: 
BEST TRACKS
content: 
Scream
Sick Individual
Mayhem
The Reckoning
Dear Daughter
What Sober Couldn’t Say
Bad Girl’s World
I Like It Heavy
Unapologetic
Produced By: 
Jay Joyce
Running Time: 
56
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Hard Rock
Score: 
90
Label: 
Atlantic
Artist: 
 
Some are going to call this the band’s best album because it’s so different to what came before. But those that have a strong affinity with the first two albums could really struggle with the direction of this one.
I’ve sat on this review for a while knowing that some time was needed for the updated direction to sink in. I’m glad I did, as I’ve found that while I really like every song on the album, I’m not coming back to it quite as often as I did with Strange Case Of.
 
There’s some truly groundbreaking moments on here, some inspired songwriting (full credit for all songs being written by the band) and a monster sound as per usual, but at the same time, maybe a bit of warmth from the first two albums isn’t as present here.
But, when the mood fits, there really isn’t anything else like this on the market and no one has the balls or the passion of Halestorm.
And Lzzy Hale is a genuine, bonafide, all-American rock n roll star. Her vocals on this album are simply incredible.
 
So the sound of this album varies almost from track to track as the guys (and gal) try and cram everything they’ve come up with in. That shows terrific talent and diversity in the songwriting and production departments (production by Jay Joyce of In Pursuit & Bedlam fame, recorded in Nashville).
 
There’s the high-tech modern rock of Scream and Sick Individual (with its big groovy chorus); and the balls to the wall rocker Mayhem, which I adore. Three great songs right here.
More traditional Halestorm can be found on the aggressive I Am The Fire; the rousing Amen; mood driven The Reckoning and Apocalyptic.
 
The guys take a shot at FM radio with some Pink inspired commercial tracks such as the beautifully sung ballad Dear Daughter and What Sober Couldn’t Say that features a stunning vocal and smooth chorus.
Then there’s the country influence of Nashville seeping through on several tracks which if de-rocked, could easily be covered by Nashville’s finest females - New Modern Love; the amazing ballad Bad Girl’s World; the metal-country Gonna Get Mine and the biker-rally ready I Like It Heavy.
 
What I also like it the transitions between tracks and the occasional ad-lib or segue way into the next track – it shows that a lot of time and thought has gone into sequencing and how the album should flow. The art of “album making” is not all lost!
As is the case with many releases, there’s two bonus tracks – the simple riff-n-groove-hard rocker Jump The Gun and the catchy commercial modern rocker Unapologetic (touching on the Pink influence again).

This is a monster record and I applaud all involved for their commitment to the art of making a full album and executing it well. The sound and style is a little more diverse and modern than the band’s first two releases, so I expect there to be some debate over this album’s merits.
While I think Strange Case Of was a more focused and direct record, there is no doubting that Into The Wild Life is a very accomplished piece of work with a ton of great new songs.
 

 

Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Wed
10
Jun

BRET MICHAELS - True Grit (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
30%
section name: 
BEST TRACKS
content: 
-
-
-
Produced By: 
Burt Reynolds
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
USA
Musical Style: 
Crapola
Score: 
30
Label: 
Cowpoke
Artist: 
 
There are so many good releases around in all genres of music, and a lot of positive reviews from fans and right here from me. So it’s great to have something as reliable as a Bret Michaels solo album to help balance the scales.
As regular as a high fiber diet and consisting of the same resultant deposit, Bret’s solo musical output is thrust upon us each year, with every new project recycling at least half of the album before and if we’re truly lucky, it’s all recycled, giving us the opportunity to recall just how shite the rock n roll rancher really is.
True Shit Grit is the musical equivalent of a well-matured cowboy compost.
 
Having a third go at becoming a cowpoke, Bret rolls out the regulars in a move so devoid of creativity, Barney the Dinosaur would assign an ‘F’ to this project.
F for Flogging a dead horse that is.
 
App Song (from Jammin’) is here; Nothing To Lose (from Jammin’ & Custom Built) is here; so too is Open Road (from Custom Built and Freedom of Soul); Rock My Country and Looking For A Good Time of course (from Freedom of Sound); Fallen (from Jammin’); oh, and don’t forget Raine (how could you, it’s been on Songs Of Life, Jammin With Paid Guests and Freedom of Sound).
If that’s not enough repetitiveness for you, try out that rarely covered tune Sweet Home Alabama (Jammin’); What I Got (Custom, Jammin’); Stay With Me (Songs Of Life, Ballads Blues…); and of course, those great old country megahits Nothing But A Good Time, Talk Dirty To Me, Unskinny Bop, Something To Believe In and that never heard before Every Rose Has It’s Thorn – all of those songs also included from the Sponging Off Friends album.
Of course these are all NEW versions, so it’s ok to roll them out all over again (and again and again). Just add steel guitar and a few more banjo’s and you get the idea.
 
Lamer than a 3-legged Llama, Bret Michaels has managed to hit a new low with this tossed together, cheaply recorded, countrified compilation package. No rock fan is going to want this and I can’t see what country fan would either.
Bret – it’s time to put the horse in the stables, you’ve rode your last (solo) rodeo.
If ANY of these songs are rehashed ever again, I will be forced to take the ‘Pointless Releases For Suckers’ trophy from Tom Scholz and hand it over.
 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Wed
10
Jun

WHITESNAKE - The Purple Album (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
89%
section name: 
BEST TRACKS
content: 
Burn
Lady Double Dealer
Mistreated
Holy Man
Soldier Of Fortune
You Fool No One
Produced By: 
David Coverdale, Michael McIntyre, Reb Beach
Running Time: 
66
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Score: 
89
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
 
Whitesnake return with their latest lineup (adding the fresh blood of Joel Hoekstra on guitar and the return of old ‘Snake Tommy Aldridge on drums) for this new album of classic Deep Purple material.
But not any old Purple tunes – the classic songs of the David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, Richie Blackmore, Jon Lord and Ian Paice lineup, known infamously as the Mk. III and IV lineups. Mk IV was the one album Come Taste The Band featuring Tommy Bolin in place of Blackmore.
 
Fans seem split into two very distinct camps on this one. There’s the older fans who grew up with Deep Purple who are calling for Sir Coverdale’s head for committing the sacrilege of taking on these tunes; then there are the newer, generally younger fans that are not as familiar with the legacy of the Purple ones and don’t have the same reverent ownership or knowledge of these 70s classics.
Me? At the risk of getting splinters in my ass, I’ve got one foot in both camps. I love Deep Purple. There’s simply no band like them and they remain one of the founding artists of this whole genre.
If one loves the history of rock music, you can’t help but to have discovered Deep Purple somewhere along the path. And I also love Whitesnake. Even more so. I’m of the age that I grew up with the 80s Snake. Slide It In, the monumental 1987 and those records that followed.
 
So with my fanboy credentials for both aspects of this release established and my admiration of current guitarists Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra, it’s onto the music at hand.
First of all – the production is huge. Loud, big, rocked up into a more obvious Whitesnake guitar driven feel over the more guitar groove/Hammond organ sound of the originals.
Hoekstra and Beach play all over this record, adding new solos in a couple of parts and their own take on the dynamics of what Deep Purple would sound like under a duel guitar attack.
 
The biggest issue and perhaps the one that many are tiptoeing around is the vocal capacity of Mr. David Coverdale – Lord of the Snake and truly one of the finest vocalists in rock history.
His dulcet tones are still unrivalled. That deep, sultry voice is every bit as enticing as ever.
The same can’t be said of his higher range and the trademark Coverdale scream. Both have weakened considerably over the years, but fair play to David for doing a still commendable job at the grand age of 63. Yes, 60-bloomin-3!!! I can’t envision half the people of this world doing what David does at age 30, let alone 63.
So the vocals are hit and miss on occasion, but that’s not getting in my way of enjoying this album.
 
Burn simply rips your ears to shreds. As it should. Heavier than the original (as are all tracks on the album), the Snake version covers the same ground as recent rocked up versions by Glenn Hughes. It remains one of the greatest hard rock songs ever.
You Fool No One and Sail Away are silky smooth; while The Gypsy keeps one foot on the brake before Lady Double Dealer sees the pedal to the metal.
A seven minute Mistreated is as epic as is required while the fabulous Holy Man retains much of the original’s spirit.
On the downside, Might Just Take Your Life drags a little while You Keep On Moving fails in comparison to the Glenn Hughes versions.
The Joel Hoekstra constructed acoustic guitar delight of Soldier Of Fortune is much better as is the authentic 70s groove of Lay Down Stay Down.
 
The controversial Stormbringer closes the album with a raucous flurry of guitars and rhythm, but the vocals are so far back in the mix, they are almost washed out. I can see why purists were up in arms over this one and there’s far better within the album.

The Purple Album is a long record. It took me a few listens to better appreciate it and some songs were more instant than others, but if you are going to do a tribute album, you may as well do it well.
Not everyone is going to appreciate this album, but it is by no means as bad as some have made it out to be. I’m sure we’d all prefer an all-new studio album, but this will keep many fans happy while we wait.
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Wed
10
Jun

CAIN'S OFFERING - Stormcrow (Review)

information persons: 
Produced By: 
Jani Liimatainen
Running Time: 
57
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Progressive Melodic Metal
Score: 
91
Label: 
Frontiers
 
The brainchild of Finnish guitarist/songwriter Jani Liimatainen (founding member of one of Finland's biggest music exports Sonata Arctica), Cain’s Offering is an inspired and frenetic slice of fast-paced European Power Metal, symphonic metal and progressive hard rock.
As the musical description should allude to, this album is a full blown rollercoaster ride of over the top guitar and keyboard histrionics with some beautifully melodic and powerful vocals from Stratovarius’ Timo Kotipelto.
 
This is a massive sounding release. The amount going on within the album requires a very deft hand as far as the production goes (handled by Jani and mixed by Matias Kupiainen) – thankfully both guys got it right here.
 
As much as is happening at any given time, it’s all very clear and sonically pleasing.
I really like the contrast of the heavy, manic delivery of the songs against the melodic and anthemic vocals of Timo.
 
Plenty of highlights in this hour long opus; the opening track Stormcrow is majestic in its arrangement and the chorus; The Best Of Times is double kick drum madness, with a strong orchestral chorus; I Will Build A Rome is even faster, but still delivers a great hook; the epic 6 minute orchestral ballad Too Tired To Run is great; I don’t know how anyone can drum as fast as is the case of Constellation Of Tears; My Heart Beats As One is a cool combo of keyboards and guitar while On The Shore is one of the more straight forward numbers here.
 
A must have for prog/symphonic metal fans. Simply put. It’s a huge record with much to enjoy, with exquisite production and performances.
If the style suits – this is going to impress.

 

Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Tue
09
Jun

NELSON - Peace Out (Review)

information persons: 
Produced By: 
Gunnar Nelson
Running Time: 
57
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock
Score: 
89
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
 
America’s favourite twins, Gunnar & Matt Nelson are threatening to close the door on the band Nelson after this release. If so, they will leave us with another dose of high-energy, high-spirits singalong melodic rock goodness.
Peace Out is well and truly Gunnar Nelson’s record – he delivers much of the guitar work, most of the lead vocals, was the sole writer on all but 3 of the tracks and is in charge of production and mix.
 
The only downside here is part of that production – in particular the drum sound, which sounds programmed (but not specified either way in the credits) and the muddiness of the sound overall, which is dragged down by the drum sound. The vocals and guitars sound pretty clear.
 
Production values aside, the songs on Peace Out have my full attention, being some of the strongest and most consistent of the band’s career!
The opening track Hello, Everybody is pure melodic rock and sounds more like Cheap Trick than Nelson; Back In The Day, Invincible and Let It Ride are more guitar driven than recent times and are smothered in harmonies and instantly memorable chorus hooks.
I Wanna Stay Home is melodic rock bliss; Rock Star and Bad For You is one of the album’s heavier, but equally melodic tracks; Autograph is almost punky in feel – a real garage rocker; What’s Not To Love is pure power pop.
There’s a couple of quality ballads in there and the only track that doesn’t really work for me is the grating You And Me.
 
Peace Out doesn’t match the sonics of past Nelson albums, but the songwriting makes up most of the ground. As an overall collection of songs, this rates as some of the catchiest and most consistent since the wonderful Life album.
Absolutely essential for Nelson fans, others will have to judge but there’s no denying the likability of these songs.
 
Categories: 
Tags: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Tue
09
Jun

SAMMY HAGAR & THE CIRCLE - At Your Service (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
89%
Produced By: 
Sammy Hagar & Vic Johnson
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Score: 
89
Label: 
Mailboat
Artist: 
As soon as this was announced we all knew they’d be comparisons. The timing of this release alongside the David Lee Roth fronted Van Halen release was ideal for hungry keyboard warriors across the globe to reignite the Dave vs Sammy argument for the 433rd time. But it is what it is, and because I’ve just reviewed the live VH album (better than expected) it’s fresh on my mind as to what it was missing there.
 
Hagar fans are going to love this. Van Hagar fans are going to love this. Dave Lee Roth/classic VH fans won’t – because it’s better than the Van Halen Live In Japan record. Ok, ok, I know it’s all down to personal taste, but I say that mainly because Sammy Hagar has a far superior vocal range and quality compared to David (no disrespect there, it just is) and Hagar also has the ability to draw upon 40 years of music, whereas Van Halen are boxed in to tackle tunes from just 79-84 and a few new cuts from 2012.
 
The band is shit hot – Vic does a great Eddie (but no one is better than EVH) and also gets to groove on licks written by Ronnie Montrose (when Hagar digs back to his origins with Montrose’s Rock Candy) and Jimmy Page (thanks to the inclusion of the nuclear Jason Bonham on drums).
The Zeppelin covers are handled with respect and authenticity, much like the Van Hagar catalogue.
Then there’s Mr Nice Guy Michael Anthony and his essential backing vocals and bass thumping.
Of the two eras, Whole Lotta Love, When The Levee Breaks and the iconic Rock N Roll are the highlights from the Led Zeppelin catalogue; while from the Van Halen list, its Poundcake, Why Can’t This Be Love and Right Now that impress most.
Throw is some Hagar solo classics like One Way To Rock, Little White Lie, Heavy Metal and of course I Can’t Drive 55 and you get a fantastic collection of infamous rock n roll brilliance.
 
The recording quality is probably above that of the Van Halen, the power in the mix is deafening at high volume and Hagar just sounds amazing.
And the acoustic Dreams that closes the album is far superior to that of the recently released Hagar/Johnson acoustic album.
If only there could be some new, truly great Hagar/Eddie Van Halen music, you know, something to wash down the taste left from the unfortunate Best Of Both Worlds compilation.
 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Tue
09
Jun

EDEN'S CURSE - Live With The Curse (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
88%
Produced By: 
Eden's Curse / Mixed; Dennis Ward
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Score: 
88
Label: 
AFM
Artist: 
 
Its double-live album heaven the past few months with career spanning sets from Van Halen, Sammy Hagar and Axel Rudi Pell all recently released.
And of course this fine little double live album from Euro-rockers Eden’s Curse.
 
Live With The Curse covers the band’s 4 studio albums during a 100 minute sonic blitz that simply oozes energy and is expertly mixed once again by Dennis Ward.
Naturally with new recruit Serbian born vocalist Nikola Mijic, the current set list and this live album delves heavily into the current studio album Symphony Of Sin.
 
Culled from that album are no less than 8 tracks, namely, Symphony Of Sin, Break The Silence, Fallen From Grace, Rock Bottom, Devil In Disguise, Wings To Fly, Unbreakable and Evil & Divine.
Naturally this is where Nikola shines, able to blow fans away with a flawless display of power and melody on Break The Silence, Wings To Fly, Fallen From Grace and, especially on the moodier, tough to sing Rock Bottom and full blast opener Symphony Of Sin.
His higher range is a great asset for the band.
The guys (and Nikolo) aren’t afraid to cover what would have to be called the band’s “classics”, tracks like Masquerade Ball, Trinity, Judgement Day, Fly Away and Jerusalem Sleeps all come across great here – these are some of the best melodic hard rock songs of the last decade, no doubt.
 
There’s some pumped in effects and backing vocals, but overall the performance on the night was exceptional the recording is excellent and the mix is even and balanced. So this has to be a must purchase for all fans of Eden’s Curse, new and old.
 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Tue
09
Jun

AXEL RUDI PELL - Magic Moments, Live (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
84%
Produced By: 
Axel Rudi Pell
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Score: 
84
Label: 
SPV
 
Axel celebrated his 25th Anniversary last year with an all-star concert event featuring guests from throughout his esteemed career.
From his early days in Steeler, to his early solo career with Jeff Scott Soto, through to today, continuing on with Johnny Gioeli.
The concert takes a cool snapshot of that entire span in chronological order.
Unfortunately it starts with the worst segment of the night, the Steeler reunion, all mainly due to the rough and largely unlikable vocalist Peter Burtz.
Thankfully we go from the basement to the penthouse after just 4 tracks, when Rob Rock jumps onboard for Nasty Reputation, the title track of the album he fronted.
Then it’s on to Jeff Scott Soto, who slays the crowd as usual with Warrior and Fool Fool.
 
The current ARP band is then ushered to the stage to deliver some Axel goodness. 3 of the next 5 tunes are over 9 minutes in length and one is 7. It’s Axel at his epic best, with Johnny singing his heart out. Strong As A Rock and Long Way To Go are both high energy delights and a 9 minute Hey Hey Now Now is the very definition of epic.
30 minutes of crossover tracks and live favourites follow until a few more covers appear – Montrose’s Rock The Nation is short, sharp and to the point; Ronnie Atkins joins in for Black Night; Tush features John Lawton and a 14 minute Mistreated features Doogie White, Tony Carey and Johnny Gioeli.
Graham Bonnet, Michael Voss, Doogie White tear down Since You’ve Been Gone, with Long Live Rock n Roll and completely over the top Smoke On The Water close out this truly epic event.
 
3CDs or DVDs might not be enough for flag waving ARP fan club members, but for the general populace, it’s more than enough and a fitting high quality way to pay tribute to one of Germany’s finest ever guitarists and metal legends.
Truly one for the fans here.
 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Fri
22
May

TOM COCHRANE - Take It Home (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
65%
section name: 
BEST TRACKS
content: 
Can’t Stay Here
Diamonds
Country Girls Never Get Old
Pink Time
Produced By: 
Tom Cochrane
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Canada
Musical Style: 
Classic Rock/Blues/Country
Score: 
65
Artist: 
 
Tom Cochrane is one of my favourite singer/songwriters of all time. He’s right up there with Rick Springfield, John Waite and Paul Laine. I cannot emphasize how much many of his songs mean to me personally.
However, with just a measly two studio albums since 1998’s excellent X-Ray Siera, Tom’s really pushing fan patience. With an 8 year wait between albums, they had better be good.
 
I’ve left reviewing this album for a while as the last album No Stranger got an initially tepid response from myself, rating it too mellow, too laid back and lacking any real drive.
How wrong that initial assessment was. The album is one I’ve come to appreciate more over time, a very fine release indeed, with some of Tom’s most heartfelt ballads and while laid back, it also features some of his finest lyrical moments.
So with the arrival of Take It Home and that similar initial disappointment for the same reasons – laid back, slow and seemingly very lackluster, I held back to give the album time to grow.
 
Unfortunately it hasn’t. Tom’s declined further into the slow, acoustic driven old-man-syndrome that other artists like Bob Seger have suffered.
What’s worse, Take It Home crosses genre’s to touch on that other ‘must go to place’ for veteran artists – yes, that Nashville/country vibe, with slide guitar and a distinct twang featured on several tracks.
The album is diverse in nature, covering blues, country, roots and gospel, all delivered with Cochrane’s distinctive wail.
But despite the valid musical integrity of such an outing, there are only a handful of songs that resonate with me here at all, which is tragic when you consider how long fans have waited for this.
 
On the plus side is the pop/rock mid-tempo acoustic Can’t Stay Here, which despite a country slant features a nice smooth vocal and decent chorus.
Diamonds is more Tom Cochrane sounding and is a refreshing high quality mid-tempo tune.
Despite the title, Country Girls Never Get Old, still manages to deliver a crossover old/new TC sound, mixing slide guitar with organ and electric guitar.
Pink Time is a beautiful laid back ballad with some extraordinary co-lead female vocals (from who I don’t know, I have a digital promo only thus far).
 
On the negative for me is several unfortunately. The jangly lead single Sunday Afternoon Hang is simply Life Is A Highway meets Kid Rock and is the best of neither; When The Light Starts To Fade is pure blues/country but goes nowhere; First Time Around is a distorted fuzz/rock tune that just grates; A Prayer For Hope is old-school country and Back In The Game is just hokey R&B.
 
 

Tom’s vision of creating a southern American themed album featuring country, blues and gospel is achieved here. There’s a lot of heart and soul poured into these songs and for that you can’t fault Tom. But for me it’s just not something I want to keep coming back to, especially when some of the songs just don’t have enough life in them to draw you back and a couple of others just grate on my ears.
There are a couple of new TC classics for sure and the depth of lyrical talent is still there, but the catchiness and the traditional Tom Cochrane sound is not.
 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Fri
22
May

RED MONDAY - Red Monday (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
85%
section name: 
BEST TRACKS
Produced By: 
Jim Miller / Mixed: Larry Millas
Running Time: 
48
Release Date: 
2014
Released: 
USA
Musical Style: 
Classic Rock
Score: 
85
Label: 
Indie
Artist: 
 
There are a lot of big names releases this year already with plenty more to come. It’s just one of those banner years. But we must not ignore the newer bands and indie releases as it isn’t just the big boys that can deliver.
 
One such act is Illinois rockers Red Monday. Formed around guitarist/songwriter and producer Jim Miller and mixed and mastered by Ides Of March’s Larry Millas, with guest spots from Millas and fellow Ideas man Scott May; Red Monday produce a brand of guitar driven classic rock with an organic Midwestern feel.
 
Sometimes the guitars break out a little more such as the spirited opener She’s On Fire and the fast paced Sanctuary and bar room rocker You Move Me.
Elsewhere on the album the sound diversifies into Tom Petty, John Kilzer and John Mellencamp territory, albeit with a more prominent guitar presence.
It’s quite a varied album, but the best quality here is the production – it’s a big sound for an indie release and Millas has delivered a very balanced mix.
 
There’s a lot to like about this album. The only small issue I have is with the vocals. Singer Rick Harris has a tone that’s not for everyone and I think takes away from a couple of songs. On others it’s no issue at all, but surprisingly Jim Miller takes lead on the upbeat southern rocker Broken Promises and I find myself preferring his voice over the main one.
That’s a small issue though and one which different folks are going to have different views on.
 

Fans of classic rock, Midwestern Americana and 80s American hard rock should take a listen to the album via the showcase on this site.
They might just be another new band worth adding to your collection.
 

 

Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Fri
22
May

MAGNUM - Escape From The Shadow Garden Live 2014 (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
88%
Produced By: 
Tony Clarkin
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock
Score: 
88
Label: 
SPV
Artist: 
 
Since reforming, Magnum has kept an increasingly busy recording/touring schedule that bands half their age would be envious of. The band’s last studio album was Escape From The Shadow Garden, which has spawned this document of the tour that followed.
There are very few heritage bands that have a fan base willing to indulge the band with a set list heavy with new songs rather than relying on milking the classics to within an inch of their life.
 
But each album and each tour sees Magnum change things up to showcase the new material and the fans lap it up, and here is no different.
The entire first half of this live album is all new tracks and I have to say, they translate into the live arena beautifully. There’s energy there, there’s passion and conviction in the delivery.
Live Til You Die and the ultra-heavy Dance Of The Black Tattoo shine; while the second half of the set includes the legendary All England’s Eyes, Kingdom of Madness, Les Morts Dansant (another stunning version), plus a just brilliant version of Vigilante and an iconic 11 minute How Far Jerusalem.
 
Bob Catley might sound a little croakier than once upon a time, but his tone and delivery still capture my attention and respect every time.
The band packs a punch as usual and the recording quality and the live mix is really impressive.
 

Another memorable live release from one of Britain’s great melodic rock acts. A rousing delivery of some new and old makes for a really enjoyable ride.
Essential for all long time fans I would say.
 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Tue
19
May

TEN - Isla De Muerta (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
92%
section name: 
BEST TRACKS
content: 
Dead Men Tell No Tales
Acquiesce
This Love
Intensify
Angel Of Darkness
The Last Pretender

 
Produced By: 
Gary Hughes / Mixed: Dennis Ward
Running Time: 
62.32
Release Date: 
May 20
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Score: 
92
Label: 
Rocktopia
Artist: 
 
Ten’s newie touches on just about everything that the band is known for - Gary Hughes’ simple, but warm vocals; pomp flavoured hard rock tunes that run the gamut from simple to epic; totally bonkers lyrics about spectral astrology, mandrake twilight, dragons, distressed wenches and stuff like that; and a comforting knowledge that band ringleader Hughes knows where his strengths are and plays to them.
The best thing about this recent revival in Ten’s fortunes is Gary’s refined production skills. This album features a massive sound, mixing a triple powerhouse guitar attack with a rich deep organ and keyboard presence, all mixed into a clean wall of sound by Dennis Ward.
 
The album picks up where Albion left off. Where Albion’s style and sound could arguably be placed against the band’s classic debut, so to can this sequel be placed alongside the band’s original Name Of The Rose opus, which followed the self-titled debut.
I’m impressed with the lineup now in play. I hope they can maintain some stability there now.
 
Opening with the epic Dead Men Tell No Tales, the band’s boisterous sound is in full flight, with guitars dueling like clashing swords upon the good ship Ten.
Tell Me What To Do is a keyboard filled pomp rocker with some curious lyrics, but a commercial, poppy chorus.
Acquiesce is darker and a little more intense and is classic Ten all the way.
This Love is a terrific classic Gary Hughes ballad with soaring vocals and guitars all the way. You’ve heard it before from Gary, but I’m happy to keep hearing quality ballads like this.
The Dragon And Saint George features swirling keyboards, fast twisting vocals and keeps up a decent pace throughout.
Intensify is another fast moving melodic rocker, but this one stands out for a brilliant vocal melody in the chorus and a classic Ten sound. Love this one and it runs over 7 minutes.
 
The even more epic 8 minute The Valley Of The Kings is reminiscent of the Name Of The Rose album again, taking a long way around approach, with soloing guitars all over this one.
Revolution clocks in at over 6 minutes, giving the middle part of the album a really epic feel. The track itself is a punchy fast moving hard rocker with some impressive metal guitar soloing.
The moody and heavy Angel Of Darkness moves even faster, with drummer Max Yates earning his keep.
The Last Pretender is a 7 minute melodic rocker with a big groove and another appealing chorus structure.
It wouldn’t be a Ten album unless we closed with a simple, piano ruled sentimental ballad. This time it’s We Can Be As One doing the job. The song builds to a big finish in pretty quick time.
 

It’s another must have for long time Ten devotees and anyone who really enjoyed last year’s Albion release.
Big guitars, big production, big pomp and some epic songs about love, life, scurvy dogs and pillaging the seven seas. What more could you ask for?
 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 

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