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Reviews

Wed
07
May

DREAM THEATER - Dream Theater (Review)

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SCORE
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94%
Produced By: 
Dream Theater
Release Date: 
2013
Released: 
World
Musical Style: 
Progressive Metal
Score: 
94
Label: 
Roadrunner
Artist: 

 

Dream Theater's cracking new (from 2013 at least) self-titled album really is a return to songs playing the most prominent role in the album.

I really can't stand the needless prog-wank that takes up most 10 minute plus songs, yet even the 22 minute epic Illumination Theory on here is constructed from melodies that last the distance. It's quite an exquisite piece of music.

And when the guys hammer out some metal, there's a definite structure in place, more so than in recent albums I feel. Above all – this album features great songs and some beautiful melodies, especially with Enemy Inside, The Looking Glass and Bigger Picture.

I love Rush and I feel as if this is as close to Rush as the band has come before. Right up there with Images And Words and Falling Into Infinity for me.

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Wed
07
May

SEBASTIAN BACH - Give Em Hell (Review)

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BOTTOM LINE
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This remains a very good album for what it is, but I've really struggled to maintain interest while playing back for review and I probably won't go back to it after this. But - the score reflects the quality of the album s always, my tastes aside. So those that know my taste, for better or worse, could use these comments as a gauge of how it will appeal to you.

Those that loved Kicking And Screaming will have no problem jumping right into this and lapping up "modern" Seb in all his screaming glory.

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SCORE
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86%
Produced By: 
Bob Marlette
Running Time: 
49
Release Date: 
2014
Released: 
World
Musical Style: 
Melodic Metal
Score: 
86
Label: 
Frontiers Records

 

It seems the older Sebastian gets, the higher his vocals go. On Give Em Hell he hits a few new record highs that dogs will appreciate, not only with the screams. It's an interesting album this – producer Bob Marlette collaborates even more so, credited within for writing music and “melody” on many tracks, while also playing bass.
Guests seem to make up the majority of the album – Duff McKagan plays bass on several tracks and even guitars on another; Steve Stevens plays on a few others and gets writing credits on those songs – not that I could really pick his usual tone out here – most of the album is down tuned, modernized metal.

Sebastian writes all lyrics and “melody” and attributes “music” to others. Make of that what you will, to me it says this is a collaborative effort, spread across several different people. This is a typically dark, heavy and modern record that is seriously heavy for the most part and continues where Sebastian left off with his last album.
If that appealed to you – then this is probably more consistent again and certainly benefits from a big Marlette production.

But overall, I'm just not a big fan of this style of modern metal albums. I much prefer Sebastian in Skid Row, although we all know that ship sailed long ago. Since then he really hasn't used the same vocal approach and I miss it. He's a monster vocalist.

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Wed
07
May

THREE LIONS - Three Lions (Review)

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The style mixes that of early Ten and perhaps a more 70s sounding British rock approach. The album sounds great and has a nice sound of its own. I do think that the tempo – especially mid to late album – drags a little and it could have used a couple of more tracks like the best track of the album, the opening Trouble In A Red Dress in place of a few fillers.

A very good start to a new chapter for the lads and I expect bigger and even better things from album number 2 in due course.

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SCORE
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89%
Produced By: 
Alessandro Del Vecchio
Running Time: 
57
Release Date: 
2014
Released: 
World
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Score: 
89
Label: 
Frontiers Records
Artist: 

 

It's a career full-circle for guitarist Vinny Burns who returns to the melodic rock of his early days in Ten, as Three Lions makes their debut album available. Formed by Burns with fellow Ten alumni Greg Morgan and newcomer bassist/vocalist Nigel Bailey, the trio is set to make a mark.

Produced and assisted musically by Alessandro Del Vecchio, the album has a tight, crisp feel that is simply British melodic rock through and through. Vocalist Bailey is similar to Ten's Gary Hughes in that he doesn't have a big vocal range, but has a warm, likable tone that suits the style and the delivery here.

It's great to hear Vinny wailing again and the trio plays as if they have been a band unit for several years already. At 13 tracks and nearly an hour in length, it's a very long album that could have used a little editing, with a 2 or 3 fillers in play, but there's some superb melodic rock on offer too.

Highlights for the album are the obvious opener Trouble In A Red Dress; the organ driven anthem Just A Man; and the uptempo AOR of Holy Water.
There is also a few classy ballads - Winter Sun is a great starter and Two Hearts Beat As One is classic British AOR; Don't Let Me Fall and Made For One Another are also very good – the only downfall is the tracks come in a mid-album pace vacuum.
Magdalene finally picks up the tempo again and delivers another strong melodic rock tune. And Hellfire Highway is a fast rocker that could have been used a few tracks earlier.
Sicilian Kiss is a guitar instrumental to close the album with Vinny in full flight.
I'm not that sold on the fast moving Twisted Soul and Kathmandu is one too many mid-tempo tracks and I think the second half of the album suffers from too many slower paced songs.

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Tue
06
May

WINGER - Better Days Comin' (Review)

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Another cracking Winger album. I'm probably favoring Karma narrowly ahead of this, but either way it's all class. It's a musically diverse album that if done by any other band probably wouldn't work. You need something special for the style changes between songs to work and that special something is Winger. 

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94%
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TRACK LISTING
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1. Midnight Driver of a Love Machine
2. Queen Babylon
3. Rat Race
4. Better Days Comin
5. Tin Soldier
6. Ever Wonder
7. So Long China
8. Storm In Me
9. Be Who You Are, Now
10. Another Beautiful Day (Deluxe Edition Bonus Track)
11. Out Of This World
 
Produced By: 
Winger
Running Time: 
50
Release Date: 
April 18
Released: 
World
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Score: 
94
Label: 
Frontiers Records
Artist: 

 

It still baffles me why the credibility challenged MTV decided to use Winger as the genre's whipping boy back in the 90s. The collective musical talent of these 4 guys was and remains beyond the grasp of 99% of the bands elevated to hero status during the 90s on that network. And as if to prove the point, Winger remain actively kicking ass in their 26th year.

Better Days Comin' is the new album, the band's 6th studio album and one that fits snuggly between the darker vibe of IV and the looser, old-school sounding Karma record.
In fact, Better Days Comin' almost sounds like a greatest hits album for the band.
Of the 11 tracks on the special edition, there's something touching each facet of the band's styles over the years. It is a compelling record that boasts musical intelligence, awareness of what the fans want and a touch of adventure.
Within the record you get the best of early Winger - the hard rocking party boys that seemed a step ahead of the pack musically - with the anthemic driving trio of ass-whipping tunes Midnight Driver Of A Love Machine, Queen Babylon and Rat Race (possibly the most furious Winger tune yet). Better Days Comin' is something new and fresh with its quirky chorus and breezy pace.

Winger IV gets a nod with the dark, progressive and technical rocker Tin Soldier and Ever Wonder reminds me of the mature and atmospheric ballads from Karma.

So Long China has a hard edged verse, yet a breezy melodic chorus – the contradiction of the two aspects and the layered instrumentation making the song a highlight.

Latter day Winger gets another nod with the distorted, effects heavy modern rocker Storm In Me which contrasts starkly with the orchestral influenced moody ballad Be Who You Are, Now.

The bonus track Another Beautiful Day is another dirty modern rocker which leads into the also dark, but optimistic Out Of This World – a soaring ballad that oozes class and instant appeal.

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Sun
13
Apr

H.E.A.T - Tearing Down The Walls (Review)

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The production on this album is simply breathtaking as is the mix – it's just so easy on the ears, no matter what volume it's played at – the majority of occasions obviously being ear splittingly loud.

H.E.A.T deserve to be where they are – which is on an upward trajectory – but they deserve to be worldwide sensations, not just European or Swedish stars. This album, coupled with their growing legacy as a killer live act, will hopefully prove to be another step towards world domination.

Based on how long I listened to Address The Nation after its release and how fresh this sounds each time I put it on, I have no hesitation in delivering the first 100 score at MelodicRock.com in 2 years! 

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100%
section name: 
TRACK LISTING
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1. Point Of No Return
2. A Shot Of Redemption
3. Inferno
4. The Wreckoning (Instrumental)
5. Tearing Down The Walls
6. Mannequin Show
7. We Will Never Die
8. Emergency
9. All The Nights
10. Eye For An Eye
11. Enemy In Me
12. Laughing At Tomorrow
Produced By: 
Tobias Lindell
Running Time: 
50
Release Date: 
2014
Released: 
EU
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock
Score: 
100
Label: 
Gain
Artist: 

 

Swedish melodic rock heroes H.E.A.T return with an album that evens the ledger as far as the fan base goes. It's now 2 albums with the original vocalist Kenny Leckremo and this makes two with new recruit Erik Gronwall.
The band's debut was utterly sensational and put the band on the map instantly. Freedom Rock let the foot off the pedal a little I felt, but with Erik's addition to the band, Address The Nation in 2012 well and truly put the band back into high gear, even if the direction changed ever so slightly.
So on the back of 2 years of touring, the guys return tighter than ever (minus second guitarist Dave Dalone). Dave's departure hasn't affected the band at all – strangely, the use of the one guitarist and song choices here have toughened up the band's sound.

Tearing Down The Walls sees the band continue the winning formula of Address The Nation, albeit with a slightly heavier approach on the songs and a more straight ahead, take no prisoners attitude.
Let's no beat around the bush here - this is a monster album. It is the sort of album that comes around only once every year or two that firmly stamps it's authority on the rock scene and through its brilliance, defines just why we are all fans of this music and of tis band in particular.
If they could bottle up the energy on this record, it could power a small nation of metal heads for a decade.

Point Of No Return is everything you could wish an opening track to be. It builds, it explodes, it delivers a knockout chorus, and it delivers all the guitars and big harmonies you would die for.

I didn't expect the style of A Shot At Redemption at all. It snuck up on me and is something fresh and original for the band. But as with everything H.E.A.T – it latches on and doesn't let go. Ever!

Inferno is simply a monster, barnstorming rocker with a screw you attitude, a few edgy lyrics and a head pounding beat.

The Wreckoning is a short intro into the big anthem ballad for the album. Not too often does a title track lend itself to being a big chart topping, hands in the air ballad, but Tearing Down The Walls is just that. And what a soaring chorus it is!

Too much has already been made of the similarities between the track Mannequin Show and that of a chart topping bimbo and to those comparisons I say, screw it! This is a deliciously quirky melodic rocker with another great chorus that really digs in. It grooves, it rocks and it's as catchy as hell.

We Will Never Die is one of the album's more straight forward tracks – but that said – the mid-tempo rocker still contains all the energy of the other songs and delivers another great chorus.

Another classic comes immediately with the driving, fast beat of the 'urgent' track Emergency. It rocks and it rolls and the chorus goes right over the top, with harmonies and guitars to the rafters.

All The Nights is the album's quietest moment. The classy and emotional, sentimental piano ballad is a great change in pace and beautifully produced.

Eye For An Eye has to be one of the standout hard rockers of recent years. This hard hitting, powerful rock track is another classic on an album of classics and one I still look forward to hearing even after 100 spins of this album. Another killer chorus.

Enemy In Me lifts the intensity just slightly, but not the pace. Fast and furious and full on. Another great hard rock track with immaculate production.

Laughing At Tomorrow is yet another highlight and yet another H.E.A.T classic for me. As if all the other tracks aren't anyway…but there's something special about this one especially. The mellower verse that leads to the big harmony filled chorus is a lesson in great songwriting for most. After the rollicking ride that this album delivers, it's simply a perfect way to close out proceedings.

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