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Artist Title Scoresort descending Label
Def Leppard DEF LEPPARD - Let's Go (Single Review)
Bon Jovi BON JOVI - Burning Bridges (Review) 10 Mercury
Degreed DEGREED - Dead But Not Forgotten (Review) 100 Sun Hill
Harem Scarem HAREM SCAREM - United (Review) 100 Frontiers
HEAT H.E.A.T - Tearing Down The Walls (Review) 100 Gain
Eclipse ECLIPSE - Armageddonize (Review) 100 Frontiers
Rick Springfield RICK SPRINGFIELD - Rocket Science (Review) 100 Frontiers
Eclipse ECLIPSE - Monumentum (Review) 100 Frontiers
Toto TOTO - XIV (Review) 100 Frontiers
Bret Michaels BRET MICHAELS - True Grit (Review) 30 Cowpoke
Quiet Riot QUIET RIOT - Road Rage (Review) 30 Frontiers
Jack Russell's Great White JACK RUSSELL'S GREAT WHITE - He Saw It Coming (Review) 30 Frontiers
Sammy Hagar SAMMY HAGAR - Lite Roast (Review) 33 Independent
Meat Loaf MEAT LOAF - Braver Than We Are (Review) 35 429 Records
Bryan Adams BRYAN ADAMS - Get Up (Review) 40 Universal
Asia ASIA - High Voltage Live (Review) 40 Frontiers Records
Coda CODA - Coda (Review) 40 Z Records
World Trade WORLD TRADE - Unify (Review) 45 Frontiers
Operation Mindcrime OPERATION MINDCRIME - The Key (Review) 45 Frontiers
Yngwie Malmsteen YNGWIE MALMSTEEN - World On Fire (Review) 45 Yngwie
Radiation Romeos RADIATION ROMEOS - Radiation Romeos (Review) 50
Heart HEART & FRIENDS - Home For The Holidays (Review) 50 Frontiers
Richard Marx RICHARD MARX - Beautiful Goodbye (Review) 55
Rik Emmett & RESolution9 Rik Emmett & RESolution9 - RES9 (Review) 55 Mascot
The Ferrymen THE FERRYMEN - The Ferrymen (Review) 59 Frontiers
Moritz MORITZ - About Time Too (Review) 60
RavenEye RAVENEYE - Nova (Review) 60 Frontiers
Q5 Q5 - New World Order (Review) 65 Frontiers
Gregory Lynn Hall GREGORY LYNN HALL - Heaven To Earth (Review) 65 AOR Heaven
Tom Cochrane TOM COCHRANE - Take It Home (Review) 65

Pages

Tue
16
Jan

RICK SPRINGFIELD - The Snake King (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
90%
Produced By: 
Rick Springfield
Running Time: 
53
Release Date: 
January 26
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Blues, R&B, Country, Pop Rock
Label: 
Frontiers
Friday, January 26, 2018
Categories: 
 
Few artists have crossed as many boundaries and tested as many limits as Rick Springfield. He’s rarely delivered an album that sounded much like the one before it. Yet you always know just who it is.
 
Rick has taken a true hard left on a few occasions. And for the most part, his dedicated fan base has followed every step of the way. I say for the most part, because even though I can’t think of a bigger RS fan than myself, there are a couple of albums that sit on my shelf more to satisfy my completist compulsions. And to be honest, they probably sit more because I’m always playing my favourite RS material.
 
So on a gut feeling that this was something ‘he just had to do’, Rick takes one of the bigger detours of his career, diving into a full service blues album. Well…mostly.
 
Fans will be familiar with Rick’s love of the blues. Several times over the years he has leant in that direction on an individual song or two. There are still very familiar aspects to ‘The Snake King’. One is of course Rick’s warm voice and those lyrics – delving into familiar subjects like spirituality, God, relationships, sex, depression and temptation.
 
There is also some familiarity in the music. In fact, there’s a few tunes that could easily have appeared on ‘Rocket Science’ – the fairly breezy country tinged opener Land Of The Blind; plus the cool relaxed Blues For The Disillusioned and the 10 minute long Orpheus In The Underworld, which is quite possibly the most lyrics ever written for any song…ever!
 
In-between those are some truly impressive examples of some genuine delta blues riffing, complete with harmonica, brass and some guitar playing that really impresses - both fast rocking and slower traditional blues rhythms. Most impressive here, besides the trio of more recognisable Rick songs are the title track; the heavier rock of Little Demon – which converts to a slow guitar solo of pure class; the lyrically dark, rollicking double time blues of Suicide Manifesto and the quite commercial Voodoo House.
And a special mention for the intense title track The Snake King, with its amazing slide guitar.
 
There’s more than enough here for most dedicated fans to appreciate.  For others it might be a case of heading to iTunes and picking and choosing personal favourites, one advantage of this digital age.

The Snake King is a mood album. For me it may not played at the lengths previous albums have been, but I do know that when the mood does arise, I will enjoy this without question. It’s too good not to. Bottom line – The Snake King is all class as usual, as expected.
 
Score: 
90
 
Wed
25
Oct

REVOLUTION SAINTS - Light In The Dark (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
90%
Produced By: 
Alessandro Del Vecchio
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock
Label: 
Frontiers
Friday, October 13, 2017
Categories: 
 
In designing this supergroup, the powers that be could have gone two ways – the Damn Yankees melodic hard rock route, with a more prominent role for Jack Blades’ vocals; or the Journeyesque AOR/melodic rock route, which is what this sounds like.
With superstar drummer and vocalist Deen Castronovo taking on the vast majority of all vocals, Revolution Saints offers Journey fans something with a little more bite.
 
I would have preferred a Damn Yankees model – where members wrote the songs and were fully utilized and the band had their own identity.
 
Revolution Saints is very much Deen and Alessandro Del Vecchio’s baby and while once again Alessandro has crafted a strong set of melodic rock friendly songs and a big production, there doesn’t appear to be much of Jack Blades’ personality on here past the opening anthem Light In The Dark.
 
Doug Aldrich shreds and riffs like the magician he is, but this is Deen’s record. Damn the boy can sing! Whether it’s the uptempo anthemic material or the slow, resolute ballads, Deen gives Steve Perry a run for his money.
Highlights include the perfect stadium anthem Light In The Dark, the slow dark and moody Freedom, the exquisite Journeyesque ballads Wouldn’t Change A Thing and Can’t Run Away From Love, the harder edge of rockers Take You Down and The Storm Inside.
The new album is far more uptempo than the debut, but I still probably prefer that release as the rockers here are good – but there are times where I find my attention drifting when some of the songs tend to sound very similar.

Overall, this can be described as another great slice of European produced melodic rock – even if the 3 principle musicians are all Americans. It doesn’t push any boundaries, but it’s not meant to. The sole purpose of Revolution Saints is to deliver a Journey friendly album of commercial 80s style melodic rock and let Deen sing his heart out. That is delivered with ease and for that reason, fans will love this record.
 
Score: 
90
 
Wed
25
Oct

STEELHEART - Through Worlds Of Stardust (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
70%
Produced By: 
Miljenko Matijevic
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Hard Rock, Modern Metal
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Friday, September 15, 2017
Categories: 
 
This is an odd little album. There’s virtually no recognizable sign of the MCA signed Steelheart that produced two cracking albums in the early 90s before shedding members and changing musical format in the late 90s.
Rather, this is a continuation of frontman/onlyman Miljenko Matijevic’s preference towards alt-modern hard rock, with some seriously loud, sometimes screechy vocals.
 
Song wise it’s a pretty strange set up, with 4 intense semi-industrial metalized hard rockers followed by three ballads then another intense metal track followed by two more mellower tracks.
 
Taken as a whole, it’s pretty interesting listening and a musical statement has definitely been made here, but how many Steelheart fans will be receptive to this?
 
And what’s with the same melody being used on three different tracks?? Check out My World, You Got Me Twisted and Got Me Running. Eh?

Tracks I will probably revisit for enjoyment – You Got Me Twisted, My Dirty Girl and the Led Zeppelin goes alt-metal opener Stream Line Savings. But the rest….no thanks.
Score: 
70
 
Wed
25
Oct

MORITZ - About Time Too (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
60%
Produced By: 
Moritz
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock
Artist: 
Monday, July 31, 2017
Categories: 
 
On songs and performance alone, you’ve definitely got a contender for one of the best classic British melodic rock albums of 2017. There’s a lot to like with the keyboard/guitar driven old school 80s AOR and the vocals of Peter Scallan. Some of the songs such as blissful Chance Of A Lifetime are just perfect.
 
But the production is a huge problem. The rhythm section is the biggest culprit, with mega-bass, but virtually no drums and the overall mix is a problem when trying to enjoy this at a decent volume.
 
I like these guys, I like these songs, but it’s 2017 now guys – there can’t be any excuses for bad production and it’s something I always point out here and will continue to do so.

The market is flooded with releases, so if you aren’t delivering the best on all fronts, sales will suffer.
Score: 
60
Tags: 
 
Wed
18
Oct

LA Guns - The Missing Peace (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
70%
Produced By: 
LA Guns
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Hard Rock
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Friday, October 13, 2017
Categories: 
 
LA Guns are vocalist Phil Lewis and guitarist Tracii Guns. Full stop. Both parties have trialled separate line-ups without the other, but output has never matched what these guys can do together.
I used to adore LA Guns. Vicious Circle, Cocked & Loaded, Waking The Dead, Hollywood Vampires…all genre classics!
 
But recent years have seen the band deliver some pretty suspect releases and you really don’t know quite what a new album might deliver these days.
 
With Missing Piece there are still some missing pieces. Phil sounds a fresh and vibrant as always, Tracii is shredding like a mofo, but the sound here leans towards a loose and trashy punk vibe, with a pretty ordinary production effort.
The album moves fast, the riffs come just as quickly and there’s attitude overload, but essentially, we’re talking about half an album of decent songs and half forgettable ones, plus a questionable production quality.
 
What I’m liking is the rapid fire All the Same to Me, Speed; the groovy Kill It Or Die (shit chorus though) and the ballads Crystal Eyes Christine and the more epic The Flood's the Fault of the Rain.

Cool attitude, great energy, but poor production and too many fillers where it doesn’t sound like too much time has been spent on the writing process. I’m still up in the air over buying a hard copy for my LA Guns collection. It’s already missing a few albums due to similar QC problems, so my OCD won’t kick in too badly.
Score: 
70
 
Tue
17
Oct

CIRCUS MAXIMUS - Havoc In Oslo (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
86%
Produced By: 
Circus Maximus
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Progressive Melodic Metal
Label: 
Frontiers
Friday, August 4, 2017
Categories: 
 
Another live review and I could cut and paste many comments from my Tyketto review.
 
Fans - you know the material - the band are quite sensational musicians, so that's no issue, the songs come from the catalogue of Circus Maximus' releases, leaning heavily on the recent Havoc release.
 
All that's needed is that all important sonic thumbs up. And I'm happy to give it again. The recording sounds great, the mix is nice and clear and it sounds pretty raw and live to me. And there's no daft audience fading between tracks, this is a concert!
 
The songs - as complex as they are - these guys really know how to play and it's a joy to listen to them in a live setting.

Great stuff for all CM fans and fans of progressive melodic metal in general.

 

Score: 
86
 
Tue
17
Oct

TYKETTO - Live From Milan (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
86%
Produced By: 
Tyketto
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Friday, October 13, 2017
Categories: 
 
Not that much needed to be said here.
It's Tyketto - killer band, great live and in this case, celebrating an utterly classic album - Don't Come Easy.
 
Here they perform the album back to back; notably leaving Forever Young as the logical closing track.
 
So, classic band, classic album, solid performances...all that's needed from me is the tick of approval for sound quality. And I'm happy to give it. This one is nice and raw, no overdubs in sight. Naturally I wasn't serviced with the DVD portion (or the CD for that matter, just digital), so I can't comment on that.
 
But the audio stacks up just fine thank you very much.

The only point - it's not a long set. I would like ot see a double "Greatest Hits Live" release one day.
Score: 
86
 
Mon
16
Oct

KRYPTONITE - Kryptonite (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
93%
Produced By: 
Alessandro Del Vecchio
Running Time: 
46
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock / AOR
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Categories: 
 
For all the criticism Frontiers Records gets for their multitude of thrown together projects (from me also on occasion), you must admit that there’s more winners overall than failures.
 
And the idea of The Poodles vocalist Jakob Samuel fronting any project gets my attention. I’m a huge fan of his voice and adding newcomer Michael Palace together with Pontus Egberg and Robban Back does seem like a pretty appealing lineup.
 
So does this one work? Yes, the label has enlisted Mr. everywhere Alessandro Del Vecchio to produce and write this project, but you know what – he’s good at what he does and I’m pleased to say all the tracks on this album are co-written with Jakob, so his personality is all over it too. As expected it is a familiar European melodic rock sound, but its expertly produced and mixed and I think the songs for the most part do the job nicely.
 
This is essentially a melodic rock and AOR version of The Poodles. It rocks throughout – a nice uptempo pace is kept going from start to finish apart from the classy piano ballad Knowing Both Of Us. What appeals to me most is the AOR anthems featured – Keep The Dream Alive, Fallen Angels, This Is The Moment and One Soul are cracking high energy AOR songs.

Sounds great, looks great….big production and big melodic rock sound. This project is a winner and I’d imagine a sequel has already been booked in.

 

Score: 
93
 
Thu
28
Sep

H.E.A.T - Into The Great Unknown (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
97%
Produced By: 
Tobias Lindell
Running Time: 
47 (With Bonus Track)
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Europe, Japan
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock
Label: 
Gain
Artist: 
Friday, September 22, 2017
Categories: 
 
H.E.A.T - one of the very best bands in the world are back in action after a well deserved break. I knew this album was going to be a left turn, as just after the release of Tearing Down The Walls, Jona Tee commented to me that the band would ‘do something a little different’ next time.
Into The Great Unknown is that ‘next time’ and yes, it is different. But it’s also a bloody fantastic slice of modern melodic rock.
The band has delivered two amazing albums in one style, another two  classics (if you ask me) with Erik Gronwall fronting the band and now it’s on to a new phase with guitarist Dave Dalone coming back to replace Eric Rivers.
 
Into The Great Unknown is different on a couple of fronts. It freely uses production effects and a modern production style, plus it also dares to innovate on the songwriting side.
There’s more keyboards on this album than any of the 4 previous, with Jona using a lot of different tricks throughout the album.
 
The album is also laid out in the sometimes confronting rocker/mellow/rocker/mellow sequence.
Some fans are going to over-react to the updated sound here. Sometimes I think reading many comments can inadvertently effect your own opinion. I’ve read many – some love this, some love parts of the album, others are ranking it the weakest of the band’s output thus far.
 
But realistically it is none of the above. Those type of comments have followed each of the band’s releases. Why? Because they are that good! They evoke passion among their fans that any band would envy and I don’t know many bands out there today that can boast 5 albums of the quality that H.E.A.T has delivered.
 
What Into The Great Unknown is for H.E.A.T is just another stunning slice of music that challenges the listener and breaks new commercial ground for a band that hasn’t stood still from Day 1.
If you want your favourites to continually repeat the formula, you know where you can find those types of artists.
 
Into The Great Unknown should be used as a benchmark in modern melodic rock production. And the songwriting is every bit as good to match. You may not pick these songs as favourites, but there’s no denying the quality. The album has been on high rotation with me for well over 2 months now. And personally speaking, it may not equal the playback longevity of Address The Nation and Tearing Down The Walls, but it isn’t far off and I’m not close to being tired of it yet.
So many layers of vocals, instrumentation and a lot of orchestration behind the main sounds.
 
The rockers – Bastard Of Society and Shit City are in your face, high octane, adrenaline filled stadium blasters, while Best of The Broken builds like a beast, breaking into a classic Heat chorus.
The keyboard infused Blind Leads The Blind has to be one of the band’s best flat out heavy rockers, while the album closes with the double dose of intelligent songwriting with Do You Want It, featuring some falsetto vocals that just sound so fitting, yet original and the epic 7 minute classic Heat rocker Into The Great Unknown. Fabulous harmonies and performances.
 
The mellow/melodic tracks – Redefined is magnificent. Think Mr. Big’s Take Cover – one of my favourite songs – this has the same quality and passion and the vocals are quite something.
Time On Our Side made waves for being the first single and possibly the most outside the box track on the album. I would not have released this as the album’s first marker. But it is stunning nevertheless. The chorus is monstrous and it’s so cool to hear a “ballad” rock along as the pace this does.
Eye Of The Storm is simply one of the best ballads I’ve heard in a decade. It’s just beyond huge. And the impassioned We Rule is the band’s ode to Queen’s Show Must Go On meets We Are The Champions – and its every bit as big. Erik Gronwall is the vocalist of the decade.
 
The Japanese bonus track Free Your Inner Miley is a balls to the wall old-school double time hard rocker with a huge groove and another memorable hook and harmony. Well worth tracking down. The band recorded 14 tracks for this album overall, so there’s 3 more to come at some point.

I wanted to keep this brief, but when an album this big and important comes along, it’s vital to capture all necessary thoughts. So in summary – freeking amazing production (and those streaming or MP3-ing are missing out BIG time). Musically it is bold, brave and takes necessary risks to broaden the fanbase and remain fresh. It’s simply another amazing piece of art that if released under a new band name would be hailed as the “next Heat”!
 
Very proud of the guys and everyone in the Heat camp. This is wonderful.
Score: 
97
 
Mon
28
Aug

SNAKECHARMER - Second Skin (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
80%
Produced By: 
Snakecharmer
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Classic Rock
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Friday, May 12, 2017
Categories: 
 
Well it’s a lot better than the one-paced and rather bland debut, that’s for certain. Tighter production, clearer mix and much better songs. And the band has moved away from the Whitesnake heritage, swinging into a more straight up classic rock vibe. Maybe because Neil Murray is the only snake left after Mickey Moody departed.
 
Chris Ousey as usual sings his heart out, belting out his best on tunes such as the rocking opening Sounds Like A Plan and the sweeter feel good That Kind Of Love and the fast moving Follow Me Under, which continues a more varied tempo than the debut.
 
The blues kick in with some hard edged riffing on Hell Of A Way To Live, continuing into the slow burning ballad Fade Away.
The acoustic driven pop/rock ballad Punching Above My Weight is a tail end highlight amongst a few songs that don’t carry their weight.
 
I’d still much prefer Chris Ousey fronting The Distance, or teaming again with Mike Slamer like he did for his debut solo album. Still, it’s always good to hear his voice.
 
Snakecharmer have lost a little of their ‘snake’ and gained a little more ‘charm’, but they are still a ways off a classic album. More work on hooks and choruses next time – everything else seems to be in place.

 

Score: 
80
 
Fri
11
Aug

THE FERRYMEN - The Ferrymen (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
59%
Produced By: 
Magnus Karlsson
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Metal
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Friday, June 2, 2017
Categories: 
 
Normally anything with the name Magnus Karlsson attached to the credits would be an instant blind purchase. No questions asked! His output with Allen/Lande, Codex, Starbreaker and his own Free Fall project has been nothing short of exemplary.
 
Now we have The Ferrymen, a project with vocalist Ronnie Romero (Lords Of Black, Rainbow), together with drummer Mike Terrana.
 
I struggled with this from day one. And I kept at it because its Mangnus Karlsson right? But it didn’t take. Now after a month without listening, I’m again playing at maximum volume and really soaking up that monster guitar and rhythm section Magnus so easily delivers.
 
But the vocals still aren’t doing it for me. I’m used to a warmer, more melodic tone to accompany Magnus’ work. But more pointedly – I’m really still failing to connect with the songs themselves.
 
The opening bombastic anthem End Of The Road is cool; Still Standing Up has a good vocal melody and the ballad One Heart certainly has impact.
Tracks like Darkest Hour have the ingredients there, but just don’t have the warmth of past material.

 
The songs just aren’t there and the vocals leave me cold I’m afraid to say. There’s no issue at all with the musical performances or production, it is just a project that looked good on paper, but failed to deliver in reality.
 
Score: 
59
 
Thu
10
Aug

WORLD TRADE - Unify (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
45%
Produced By: 
World Trade
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Prog-AOR
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Friday, August 4, 2017
Categories: 
 
I like the idea of World Trade. The debut was a bit of a prog-AOR classic, but I can barely recall the second release. Unify is #3 and their first with Frontiers.
You’d expect the lineup of Billy Sherwood (bass and lead vocals) along with Unruly Child's Bruce Gowdy – guitars and Guy Allison – keyboards and session superstar Mark T. Williams – drums, would hands down nail it without even thinking. But not so.
 
This album is just untidy. The production is really quite hollow with almost no drum sound – it’s all keyboards and bass, plus I’m struggling to appreciate Billy Sherwood’s vocals. They sound unnatural and quite strained compared to past efforts.
 
An appreciation of progressive music is not the issue here. I love a lot of prog-AOR/melodic rock – especially the new Threshold, which is in high rotation.
 
The main issue here (besides the sound) is the lack of great songs. I simply don’t think many of these go anywhere. The title track Unity is an improvement and the track that follows For The Fallen is ok too.
Lifeforce and the opening track The New Norm are good examples of a decent idea poorly executed. There’s just no flow within the songs.

Dedicated prog fans might get something more out of this, but I will defer to my popular recent conclusion – that is with a crowded marketplace, any album that doesn’t stand out is going to get lost and this is one of those albums.
Unlikely I’ll ever play this again now the review process has finished. I really didn’t get any enjoyment from it.
 
Score: 
45
 
Tue
08
Aug

RIVERDOGS - California (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
90%
Produced By: 
Nick Brophy
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Rock
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Friday, July 7, 2017
Categories: 
 
You just can’t help but love the ‘Dogs. One of my favourite ‘soulful’ rock bands that I’ve followed since their incredible debut. But don’t leave out the equally essential Bone and Absolutely Live!
 
While the guys delivered a taste of new material with the World Gone Mad album – constructed from left over songs of the past and unfinished tracks during previous attempts to reform, this is their first proper full length new material release with the original lineup since the debut back in 1990.
 
California was billed as the return to their hard rock roots, which I find wholly misrepresentative on two fronts. First – the band has never been a hard rock band. Bluesy/soulful rock/melodic rock is more accurate; but secondly – this album is nowhere near what you’d define a hard rock album to be.
 
That little peeve stated, we can concentrate on what California is – and that is a gem of an album that is drenched in soul, exquisite songs and a sublime production and mix that is among the best I’ve heard in a long time. Every note and every emotion is there to be heard. Well done Nick Brophy!
 
While it isn’t rocking by any stretch, it is a guitar driven record and Vivian Campbell shows his intricate skills on a collection of slow, moody, expressive songs. The soloing is wonderful, the riffs warm and perfect foil for the hypnotic soulful vocals of Mr. Rob Lamothe.
 
Rob is one of my favourite vocalists, his tone and his talent for emotional lyric delivery is a huge appeal to me and this is one of the best collection of his vocals I’ve heard yet.
 
The opening American Dream is one of only a few songs with pace, but there’s nothing but quality here. Golden Glow for example is just about as good as it gets. And each song, while remaining generally mellow, has its own personality.
The Heart Is A Mindless Bird is another lyrical and musical gem; The Revolution Starts Tonight is powerful and the punky Searching For A Signal gives a mid-album tempo shake-up.
Ten Thousand Reasons is another highlight while Catalina doesn’t have the best chorus, but the tempo is welcomed.
The star for me on this moody, mature, elegant and engaging record is the subtle, haunting vocal dominated I Don’t Know Anything. What a song.
 
To my surprise, the Japanese bonus track is not a lame edit/acoustic version of an album track, but rather another all-new song (When The Mic Drops) and one that carries quite a swagger.

It took a few listens and the right mood to best appreciate this album and its various intricacies, but once there, it’s no turning back. A great album from one of the best sounding bands of this ilk.
Everyone involved delivers electric performances and the songs definitely engage.
 

 

Score: 
90
 
Tue
08
Aug

RADIATION ROMEOS - Radiation Romeos (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
50%
Produced By: 
Michael Voss
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Hard Rock
Friday, June 2, 2017
Categories: 
 
Radiation Romeos is the Michael Voss produced comeback vehicle for former Atomic Playboys vocalist Parramore McCarty. Thing is, I always considered the weak spot of the one-off Atomic Playboys album was the vocals. If not for the glorious riffing of Steve Stevens, that album would have struggled.
 
And so it is that this album, with McCarty’s vocals being the featured aspect, is something of a struggle to get through. The opening track which pays tribute to the Playboys album is the best rocker here.
 
I’ve no credits, so I have no idea who’s responsible for the songwriting, but there’s not much here worthy of the deafening scream that is McCarty’s vocals. Largely set in that dreaded plodding mid-tempo pace, the album meanders along from one song to another with few highlights.
 
Strangely, the better songs here are the few slower, more melodic numbers. The anthemic 80s melodic rocker Ocean Drive is quite superb, but also quite out of character for the rest of the record.
The ballad Like An Arrow and the melodic rock of Til The End Of Time stand out as better songs and better, more melodic vocals that reminds me of the Scorpions.
 
With so much to choose from, I reckon this album is probably already out of people’s minds by now (it was released in June).

Worthy of a few iTunes single purchases, but as an album it’s not strong enough to make an impression. Production wise there’s no complaints as you’ll never go wrong with Voss in charge. The artwork is probably the best thing about the whole package.
Score: 
50
 
Tue
08
Aug

QUIET RIOT - Road Rage (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
30%
Produced By: 
QR
Running Time: 
50
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Hard Rock
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Friday, August 4, 2017
Categories: 
 
Quiet Riot is of course one of the classic names in hard rock, but nothing here gives any indication of the music that earned them the status held prior to the death of frontman Kevin DuBrow.
Since that time, drummer Frankie Banali has taken a number of lineups out on the road under the QR moniker, but this is his first foray into new material.
 
One thinks he should have kept to performing the band’s hits live for this is horrible. I’d suggest that its actually one of the worst albums released by a name band in many years.
The fact that the label agreed to the band dumping Seann Nicols and hastily re-recording the vocals with newly recruited James Durbin shows how much faith they had in the original. I bet they didn’t expect something even worse to be delivered.
 
The production is demo quality at best; the songs (same music, new titles, new lyrics) are instantly forgettable and the new vocals of Durbin are simply horrid. He’s normally a great singer, but how long did they take to get this done, as he sounds out of tune in places, ultra-whiney throughout and in the opening track for example, the vocals are bordering on chipmunk territory.
The second track is even worse. There is a clear disconnect between the vocals and the music. The chorus is among the worst I have ever heard.
 
Even Banali’s drumming sounds rigid and straight forward. The constant thump thump thump of the mid-tempo songs is irritating.

It’s a huge disappointment and when you consider the guys had two attempts to get it right, even more surprising. If this was an album delivered by a no-name artist, it would have been swiftly disposed of. I really don’t enjoy being negative, but there is no way a record of this quality should have been released. I’d place bets on this being the last QR album.
 
Score: 
30
 
Mon
31
Jul

MR. BIG - Defying Gravity (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
85%
Produced By: 
Kevin Elson
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Categories: 
 
Reviews are back! And they’re staying back. With more than 200 albums to catch up on, the first on the block is the latest from one of my favourite groups ever – Mr. Big.

 
Let’s cut right to the chase. This is without doubt the worst sounding Mr. Big album ever. I’m not sure why this ultra-toned down bass heavy style was chosen – but with the combined talent of the 4 guys plus production genius Kevin Elson, it had to of been a conscious decision.
 
The sound gives the impression of a really muddy mix, but everything can be heard clear enough. This took a good while to appreciate, the nature of the music is quite different from the usual Mr. Big sound and quite diverse also. It reminds me of the raw energy and tempo of the debut, which I put a long way ahead of this album.
But there are some real gems here – even if the guys did seem to run short towards the end of the album.
 
The man in control of this album appears to be Paul Gilbert, as his guitar is truly the driving force, not just in the riffs, but also in the song melodies as best exemplified with the two best songs of the album, the title track Defying Gravity and also the head turning ripping flurry of notes driving Mean To Me.
 
The album sits in mid-tempo mode for the majority of it’s 11 songs. The groove is, as usual, one of the highlights of playback, I just love these guys when going at it on the opening Open Your Eyes, Everybody Needs A Little Trouble and the two aforementioned tracks.
 
Interspersed between the grooves is the glorious feel good acoustic rocker Damn I’m In Love Again and one of the band’s finest ballads ever in Forever & Back. It’s a real gem with a killer Eric Martin vocal.
Its followed immediately by another melodic track She’s All Coming Back To Me Now, before a trilogy of groovers. Sadly I could probably have stopped the album here as while 1992 is average, the next two are slow and dull, with only the last 90 seconds of Be Kind proving worthy. If only the instrumental flurry here was more prevalent throughout the album.

Well, there’s several typically fantastic tracks here, which I will add to my Mr. Big playlist, but also several fillers and that production sound.
So while there’s magic to be heard, it’s in the individual tracks rather than the album as a whole.
Score: 
85
 
Wed
10
May

HAREM SCAREM - United (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
100%
Produced By: 
Harry Hess & Pete Lesperance
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock / AOR
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Friday, May 12, 2017
Categories: 
 
I’ve always maintained that the writing partnership of Harry Hess/Pete Lesperance was the Lennon/McCartney of the melodic rock world and this, Harem Scarem’s 14th studio album, is not only further proof of that belief, it also proves that a long partnership can remain fresh, vibrant and exciting.
 
United is simply brilliant – a joyous celebration of the classic definition of melodic rock. Harem Scarem have never disappointed me. But I still have my favourite albums and I’m happy to add this one right near the top.
It’s just one glorious hook and chorus after another, but that isn’t the only thing that makes this album so extraordinary. It’s the intelligent musical bed that drives the songs and the contrast of unexpected twists and a quite varied palette of styles that all end up in the same place – melodic rock bliss.
 
The best aspect of this album is the diversity of the ways the anthemic choruses are delivered. Every song is different, yet every one is memorable.
And I love how the darker tone to many of these songs is seemingly cast aside for the many harmony drenched feel good choruses. It’s a contrast that’s almost impossible to pull off with such regularity.
 
Pete Lesperance shines with some of his finest riffing and soloing in years, Harry Hess is absolutely all over this record with what seems like a choir of harmony vocals and some really powerful leads.
United is essentially a 45 minute Harem Scarem history lesson. Fans will hear parts of Mood Swings, Weight Of The World, Voice Of Reason, Higher, Thirteen and Hope all in play.
 
There’s no track that doesn’t stand out on its own, but my personal favourites are the infectious Here Today, Gone Tomorrow; the fast stomping No Regrets; the moody modern rock brilliance of Bite The Bullet; the feel good stadium anthem Things I Know; another harmony drenched, lyrically brilliant The Sky Is Falling and the freeking fantastic bluesy-come-AOR anthem Indestructible.
 
Did I mention the great opening track and one of the band’s best ever ballads in One Of Life’s Mysteries? How about the hands-in-the-air Sinking Ship and the groove driven Gravity? Did I leave anything out?
How about the brilliant production and mix – among the best the band has delivered?
Jeff Scott Soto appears on backing vocals for Here Today, Gone Tomorrow and even more prominently, to great effect, on Bite The Bullet.

Why haven’t you purchased this already? What a wonderful, joyous, powerful statement from a band that just keeps delivering time and time again. Essential and perfect.
 
Score: 
100
 
Wed
10
May

BROTHER FIRETRIBE - Sunbound (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
94%
Produced By: 
Tomppa Nikulainen
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock / AOR
Label: 
Spinefarm
Categories: 
 
Finland make it two in a row. After the brilliance of OD comes the well established melodic rock heroes Brother Firetribe.
 
Following one of the most bombastic intro’s since Meat Loaf’s I’d Do Anything For Love, BFT hit the ground running with a typically boisterous riff infused opener with Help Is On The Way.
Production seems to be a notch up from the last album and there’s a sense of maturity within the songs.
 
Indelible Heroes is a wonderful keyboard drenched tribute to the greats that have left us which moves perfectly into the previously released single Taste of a Champion (one of the band’s great songs).
Elsewhere in the album highlights are plentiful as expected - Last Forever and Give Me Tonight both rock along at a fine pace. Then I find that the next couple of tracks don’t quite have the impact hoped for until the mid-tempo Heart Of The Matter corrects course with a great chorus which is followed by the band’s usual foray into classic soundtrack territory – this time covering the John Parr classic Restless Heart in perfect style.
 
Finishing the record on a high is the double header of the keyboard heavy Big City Dream and the ultra-moody drama of Phantasmagoria, every bit as epic as the title suggests.

The band’s Heart Full Of Fire is still my favourite album but this one might sneak into second place once I’ve lived with it another 6 months or so.  It’s packed with the typical guitar/keyboard duelling melodies we have come to expect and demand from these very accomplished musicians. A simple review, but not a simple album. It will take a few listens to blossom, but once it does you can’t take that back.
Yet another 2017 melodic rock highlight.
Score: 
94
 
Wed
10
May

ONE DESIRE - One Desire (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
99%
Produced By: 
Jimmy Westerlund
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock / AOR
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Friday, March 24, 2017
Categories: 
 
We were forewarned that these guys were great and something special was on the way. And boy, is this something special or what?
 
In a year packed with A-Game melodic rock and AOR titles, OD (or One Desire) deliver what will surely be one of the top few debut albums in several years. Europe is of course again responsible for unleashing another glorious AOR masterpiece on us, this time it’s Finland that takes the trophy. 
 
Vocalist André Linman is quite a spectacular find. Powerful, emotional and in control of a wide vocal range – he uses it all here.
If you love keyboards entwined with guitars and a pulsating rhythm section and a sound that brings Def Leppard into the 21st Century mixed with Brother Firetribe, Treat and The Magnificent. It’s the Giuffria style 80s meets 2017.
 
OD really do have their own thing going on here and it’s one memorable song after another. From the passionate urgency of the fast moving melodies of Hurt; to the quirky hard hitting Apologise to the commercial high energy anthem that’s made for stadium’s Love Injection.
That’s followed immediately by another fast paced melodic gem in Turn Back Time; a monster ballad Falling Apart (which gets better every listen); then the fast and furious keyboard and bass riff of Straight Through The Heart and the hands in the air anthem Whenever I’m Dreaming, which seemingly has two monster chorus hooks, each as good as the other.
 
Do You Believe then makes it 8 from 8 as far as killer choruses; while Buried Alive is the heaviest track on the album, but also the most keyboard driven. Fabulous!
The band close this monster debut with the heartfelt power ballad This Is Where The Heartbreak Begin.

Another essential purchase for anyone that loves the usual fare served up by these freakish Scandinavians. We have Work Of Art, Eclipse, Brother Firetribe, Degreed, HEAT and now we have OD. Magnificent debut guys.

Score: 
99
 
Fri
10
Mar

JACK RUSSELL'S GREAT WHITE - He Saw It Coming (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
30%
Produced By: 
Jack Russell & Robbie Lochner
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Rock
Label: 
Frontiers
Friday, January 27, 2017
Categories: 
 
I feel as if when delivering an unfavourable review, I need to preface it with my qualifications to do so, before someone starts the “oh he just doesn’t like that artist/style it’s too soft/heavy/bluesy.”
So with that in mind, I love Great White and I own every album from start to last plus Jack’s own previous solo material. His debut solo was great! And for the most part, I like them all.
And this lives up to none of them. I’ve tried several times to re-start fresh with this album and each time I’ve failed.
 
Could it be that on just the second track in Jack breaks into a fricken rap in the middle of this horrible jangly, bluesy pop track that was beyond annoying even before the vocal acrobats. And he’s almost at it again on Crazy, which is only slightly less annoying.
Opening with Sign Of The Times, it’s pretty evident this is going to be a laid back affair and sure enough…its more laid back than a sunbaking lizard.
The songs just bore me I’m sorry to say. And there is precious little comparison to that of Great White, even with Jack’s (sometimes) recognizable voice.
 
The performances are very pedestrian, I don’t rate the band here at all and the songs are devoid of any passion or energy. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any slower, along comes the crawling ballad Anything For You.
This highlights the very problem here – I am a huge fan of the slow Great White ballads like Save Your Love and She Only. Soul and passion in spades.
Another slow blues/reggae type number is the instantly skippable Don’t Let Me Go, then there’s more jangly guitars on Spy Vs Spy. What’s with the awful guitar playing here?
Blame It On The Night is about the only track besides the opening number that delivers a proper riff and while you are still celebrating that fact, the a capella Godspeed will send you panicking for the stop button. What a steaming pile of cow shit this song is.

Most of this album can be filed under “WTF”, and the parts that aren’t are devoid of passion, energy and conviction. It’s such a laid back boring album and without having any great expectations, my hopes are completely shattered.
Awful record….and I never thought this would happen, but the music is even worse than the cover artwork!
 
Score: 
30
 
Thu
09
Mar

TOKYO MOTOR FIST - Tokyo Motor Fist (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
93%
Produced By: 
Steve Brown
Release Date: 
2017
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock
Label: 
Frontiers
Friday, February 24, 2017
Categories: 
 
You’d have to be almost dead not to get caught up in the infectious fun that is Tokyo Motor Fist. The name might conjure up thoughts of an ancient form of Japanese bondage, but at least they didn’t name themselves Trixter Danger.
Yes, the most talented Steve Brown (Trixter, Guitar) and the always flamboyant Ted Poley (Danger Danger, vocals) team with the rhythm section of Greg Smith (Ted Nugent, Rainbow, Alice Cooper) and Chuck Burgi (Rainbow, Blue Oyster Cult, Joe Lynn Turner) for what amounts to a meeting of the New Jersey chapter of the Melodic Rock Mafia, to create an infectious slice of classic 80s melodic rock that you just have to rock along with.
 
While the album may not have the polish of a major 80s budget, it does pass the crankability test and shines when at maximum volume.
Following his great recent solo album, Ted Poley again delivers a powerhouse vocal while Steve Brown provides the backbone of the sound, his soulful guitar playing filling the air between hooks and choruses. The album is also a tribute to his songwriting prowess.
For the most part this delivers exactly what you’d expect – a mix of modern day Trixter’s smart melodic rock and Danger Danger’s hands in the air party anthems.
 
Look no further than the opening salvo of Pickin' Up The Pieces, Love Me Insane, Gimme Your Good Lovin Shameless and Black And Blue to deliver plus the moody feel good ballads Love, Get You Off My Mind and Don’t Let Me Go work to balance the record and provide breathing space between the rockers.
You're My Revolution brings out the double kick drums for a rousing tempo boost, but its Put Me To Shame and Done To Me where Steve Brown’s connection to Def Leppard seems to get dialled up. For a minute I thought I was listening to Sweden’s Leppard loving Grand Design.

How could fans of the two principle artists not be happy with this? It delivers exactly what you might have been hoping for, perhaps exceeding expectations with the strong hooks and great performances.
No complaints here and given the positive fan reaction so far, one would have to think that this will develop further just as the ‘other’ D2 side project The Definants has.
 
Score: 
93
 
Tue
07
Mar

ECLIPSE - Monumentum (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
100%
section name: 
TRACK LISTING
content: 
1. Vertigo
2. Never Look Back
3. Killing Me
4. The Downfall of Eden
5. Hurt
6. Jaded
7. Born To Lead
8. For Better or for Worse
9. No Way Back
10. Night Comes Crawling
11. Black Rain
Produced By: 
Erik Martensson
Release Date: 
March 24
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Friday, March 24, 2017
Categories: 
 
Rapidly becoming THE band of the melodic hard rock scene, Eclipse’s decision to ramp up touring and recording dates back to the 2012 release Bleed & Scream, when the band tweaked their sound and found their true heavier groove.
The last record Armageddonize was a home run – a perfect mix of power, melody, energy and ear candy songs that just stuck in your heads for literally days at a time.
So how do you follow that up? By doing it all again. Eclipse make it look easy by delivering another 11 cracking songs wrapped in a massive wall of sound that these guys are now recognized by.
 
Momumentum is the perfect title for this record. If anything, it takes off exactly where Armageddonize left off, which in turn took up where Bleed & Scream left off. So the momentum continues and I have no hesitation whatsoever to claim this album is every bit as good as the last classic.
 
Erik Martensson continues to grow as a frontman, writer and a vocalist, not to mention his role as a producer. And he needs extra credit here for the mix, for this album is sonic perfection to my ears. Each listen reveals new parts to the puzzle and the sound is so crystal clear, it’s impossible to play this album too loud.
 
The rhythm section of Magnus Ulfstedt and new drummer Philip Crusner combine to make this album the most bombastic yet. Crusner’s drumming is quite a revelation.
And last but never least, Magnus Henriksson’s guitar riffs and solo shredding is easily his best to date.
 
There’s no question over the quality of the songs. I’m just not sure how the guys manage to come up with so many that deliver the Eclipse sound with such immense power and intensity, yet remain memorable in their own right.
And just like the last album, these new songs are continually stuck in my head. The CD hasn’t left my car in 3 months and I’m literally singing along to whatever song was playing at the time I reach my destination.
 
As per is the Eclipse tradition, the opening trio of perfect anthemic hard rock songs just kick my ass and then kick it again; Downfall Of Eden has that epic feel similar to The Storm; Hurt is a wonderful power ballad that enhances its power by not kicking in quite when expected. For Better Or Worse and No Way Back are classic Eclipse melodic rockers while Black Rain is perhaps the band’s heaviest song to date – even with its mid-tempo beat.
 
Absolute melodic hard rock perfection – second time around and the band’s fourth great record in succession. There’s only further to go for these guys as they continue to take on the world one hard rock fan at a time.

Immense production, intensity matched by very few and glorious anthemic songs from start to finish. I knew the guys would have to dig deep to come close to Armageddonize, but they did it.
Nothing more to say. Brilliant... Again.
 
Score: 
100
 
Tue
18
Oct

TYKETTO - Reach (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
91%
Produced By: 
Tyketto
Release Date: 
2016
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Friday, October 14, 2016
Categories: 
The completely bombastic, over the top, rocking intro to this new album had me leaping from my chair in search of my Don’t Come Easy Tshirt, but by the time I got to the door, it was over!
Still…that was the finest 37 seconds of melodic rock I’ve heard all year.
The riff does return a couple of times during the song, but the essence of the band’s new title track Reach is a pretty laid back duel electric/acoustic base. I do think it is a wasted opportunity to leave such a huge riff hanging, but the song grows big time and is the purest Tyketto song of the album.
 
The new album Reach sees a new lineup in play – Brooke St James and in comes Ged Rylands (keyboards, vocals), Chris Green (guitar, vocals) and Chris Childs (bass guitar, vocals) to join the two original members Danny Vaughn and Michael Clayton Arbeeny.
I must admit, I haven’t played the last album Dig In Deep too much since reviewing it, but I’m far more confident this one will be spun many more times.
 
It may not really be Tyketto as we know, but whatever you think, it’s the best Danny Vaughn project in some time. And Chris Green on guitar has brought some definite grit to the band’s sound. Tracks like Big Money and Kick Like A Mule rank amongst the band’s heaviest.
Circle The Wagons is another classic Tyketto ballad with all the angst you love from these guys.
 
Tearing Down The Sky is a nice old school dark, moody rocker; the acoustic ballad Letting Go is fabulous and Remember My Name also rocks.  The lush mid-tempo ballad Scream is closer to the early Tyketto sound while The Run starts slow and acoustic before building to a bombastic finish.

A couple of fillers and that lost opportunity for song of the year with the title track (it’s still going to be up there though) are my only complaints. The production is superb and the mix nice and clear. Chris Green is his usual brilliant self and adds so much to the material.
And as usual Danny Vaughn sounds like he hasn’t aged a day since 1992.

 

Score: 
91
 
Mon
17
Oct

SEVEN - Shattered (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
92%
Produced By: 
Lars Chriss
Running Time: 
49
Release Date: 
2016
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock
Label: 
Escape
Artist: 
Friday, September 23, 2016
Categories: 
 
Given that the debut album was songs mainly gathered from the past, I wasn’t sure we’d even get a second Seven album. But here it is and it’s great!
Vocalist Mick Devine as one of those ‘born for AOR’ voices and the music – even though delivered by a slightly different lineup, this is almost as good as the brilliant debut.
 
This time around only vocalist Mick remains, but the team of Andy Loos (bass), Fredrik Bergh (keys) and Lars Chriss (production, guitars, drums) who helped reconstruct the debut are present again, so the sound remains intact.
Up tempo Foreigner/Heartland/Signal style AOR and melodic rock is what we have here.
 
Light Of 1000 Eyes may be a good opener, but A Better Life is pure brilliance; while a moodier Fight has Mark Free written all over it. Other highlights include the high impact keyboard drenched Shattered; the anthemic High Hopes and the intense Last Illusion.
But that said, there’s no fillers here and folks are going to like different tracks more than others depending on mood.

It just needs to be stated that this is a very fine album indeed and a worthy sequel to the debut, if not quite as catchy, but still a great sound and a very well-produced example of classic AOR with a contemporary production.

 

Score: 
92
 
Mon
17
Oct

RAVENEYE - Nova (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
60%
Produced By: 
Warren Riker
Release Date: 
2016
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Retro Hard Rock
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Friday, September 23, 2016
Categories: 
 
Well, it’s well produced at least. That’s if you are looking for a retro 70s meets 90s raw, rock n roll record.
Sadly I’m not. UK rockers Raveneye certainly deliver an impressive groove based sound, but to me they are missing a lot of what I like in my music. I don’t like the vocalist’s tone (more 90s style) and I don’t like the garage style classic 70s rock meets 90s alt-rock sound that hold little melody and almost no focus on chorus hooks.
 
It’s just not a style that I like or appreciate. And I suspect many others will have a similar view. There's really not much I can add. I don't feel like going through the songs as I'm just notwarming to them and I don't want to play this any longer than I have to. I tried over a number of weeks to appreciate this, but no luck.

The brash, distorted, grungy rock n roll will appeal to some, that’s for sure. Frontiers are trying something different in recent times, signing a number of acts outside their usual field of scope, but this one doesn’t work for me at all.
Score: 
60
 

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