Reviews

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Artist Titlesort descending Score Label
220 Volt 220 VOLT - Walking In Starlight (Review) 75 AOR Heaven
7th heaven 7TH HEAVEN - Spectrum (Review) 93 NTD Records
AC/DC AC/DC - Rock Or Bust (Review) 80 Sony
Acacia Avenue ACACIA AVENUE - Cold (Review) 83 AOR Heaven
Adrenaline Rush ADRENALINE RUSH - Adrenaline Rush (Review) 89 Frontiers
Adriangale ADRIANGALE - 'Defiance' (Review) 93 Kivel Records
Allen/Lande ALLEN/LANDE - The Great Divide (Review) 84 Frontiers
Ammunition AMMUNITION - Shanghaied (Review) 95 AOR Heaven
Angels Or Kings ANGELS OR KINGS - Kings Of Nowhere (Review) 85 AOR Heaven
Art Nation ART NATION - Revolution (Review) 95 AOR Heaven
Asia ASIA - Axis XXX Live in San Francisco MMXII (Review) 82 Frontiers
Asia ASIA - Gravitas (Review) 70 Frontiers Records
Asia ASIA - High Voltage Live (Review) 40 Frontiers Records
Axel Rudi Pell AXEL RUDI PELL - Magic Moments, Live (Review) 84 SPV
Bailey BAILEY - Long Way Down (Review) 82 Frontiers
Beauvoir Free BEAUVOIR FREE - American Trash (Review) 83 Frontiers
Billy Idol BILLY IDOL - Kings & Queens Of The Underground (Review) 93 BFI Records
Billy Sherwood BILLY SHERWOOD - Citizen (Review) 78 Frontiers
Black Star Riders BLACK STAR RIDERS - The Killer Instinct (Review) 84 Nuclear Blast
Blackmore's Night BLACKMORE'S NIGHT - All Our Yesterdays (Review) 80 Frontiers
Blood Red Saints BLOOD RED SAINTS - Speedway (Review) 88 Frontiers
Bon Jovi BON JOVI - Burning Bridges (Review) 10 Mercury
Bonfire BONFIRE - Glorious (Review) 85 Borila
Bret Michaels BRET MICHAELS - True Grit (Review) 30 Cowpoke
Brother Firetribe BROTHER FIRETRIBE - Sunbound (Review) 94 Spinefarm
Bryan Adams BRYAN ADAMS - Get Up (Review) 40 Universal
Cain's Offering CAIN'S OFFERING - Stormcrow (Review) 91 Frontiers
Care Of Night CARE OF NIGHT - Connected (Review) 90 AOR Heaven
Chaos Magic CHAOS MAGIC Featuring Caterina Nix & Timo Tolkki (Review) 78 Frontiers
Chicago CHICAGO - Now (Review) 83 Frontiers Records

Pages

Wed
10
Apr

KANE ROBERTS - The New Normal (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
40%
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Friday, January 25, 2019
Categories: 
 
KANE ROBERTS has a cult melodic rock following, but it's been how many years since he actually recorded a melodic rock record?
 
That question will remain open, as this is nothing like his Self-Titled and Saints & Sinners records that fans have always hoped he would return to. Rather it is an amped up and further modernized version of Under A Wild Sky from way back in 1999.
 
So, a few problems with this record. First of all, the sound and style is modern rock – but a version that is now at least a decade (or two) out of date. Secondly, the production is atrocious yet again. The programmed drums and the thin sound just sound so ‘one-man band’.
Third – once you get past the aggression of the first two tracks, the rest of the album is a pretty mellow affair. And it’s a struggle to get through. If the sonics don’t damage your ears, Kane’s constant yelling will finish them off.
 
I dig a few of the songs – the opening duo offer some definitive hooks. One of the album’s best belongs to Beginning Of The End, but the arrangement and production is an absolute mess, all over the show.
There are tracks here that just sound so devoid of hooks and direction, they place the few that do in an uncomfortable position – raising them above the grade they probably deserve.

There are some decent hooks, ideas and riffs here, but the album is too much of a mess to appreciate. Production is horrible, execution is questionable and the style…the less said about that the better.
Score: 
40
 
Wed
10
Apr

LONERIDER - Attitude (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
90%
Label: 
Escape Music
Artist: 
Friday, April 26, 2019
Categories: 
 
LONERIDER is an exquisitely recorded album, with performances to match. FM frontman Steve Overland re-joins his Shadowman partner guitarist Steve Morris (Heartland/Ian Gillan) and a rhythm section comprised of legendary drummer Simon Kirke and Tyketto bassist Chris Childs.
 
Every note on this album sounds planned, executed and placed perfectly in place. Its quite a diverse musical tapestry, with a bluesy rock base branching into AOR, earthy midwestern rock, a couple of tunes that could almost be described as southern rock. And there’s a couple of pretty lush ballads to flesh out a very interesting record.
 
The songs, while diverse and multi-genre spanning are all rock songs at heart and I can’t pick a filler amongst them all. It’s especially rewarding to hear Steve Overland in a fresh setting that doesn’t automatically mirror FM, Overland or Shadowman – which is obviously this album’s closest relative, musically speaking.
 
Steve Overland sounds flawless as usual and its great to hear Steve Morris delivering some sublime guitar riffs and divine solos.

If you’re a fan of all of the above – there’s no questioning the quality of this record.

Score: 
90
 
Fri
29
Mar

YNGWIE MALMSTEEN - Blue Lightning (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
22%
Label: 
Mascot
Categories: 
 
The deluxe edition of Yngwie Malmsteen’s new CD comes with a drinks coaster. I recommend sticking to the regular version and just use the disc instead.
 
Yes, it’s that time of the year again, where we get to investigate Yngwie’s latest musical offering – this time he’s tackling “the blues”. I’m not sure which blues he speaks of – this record has as much in common with the Mississippi Delta or the origins of blues based rock as Steve Perry is to gangsta rap.
 
Look, I know it’s fun to read a bad review and especially one aimed at Yngwie – but it’s not without cause. This album continues the muddy mess that has been every record in recent years where Yngwie is in control of playing, producing and mixing. It’s just bloody awful.
 
The opening title track has wall to wall rhythm with bass reduced to sounding like a distant foghorn dipped in crude oil. There’s no space between instruments and the relentless double kick drum on just about every damn song is completely out of place. Much like Yngwie playing the blues.
 
Just check out Foxey Lady. Widdling intro, brain damaging bass thumping and thrash like double kick drum speed while Yngwie’s “vocals” and continual widdling travel along at half the speed. Doesn’t anyone ever say “dude, this ain’t right?”
It’s the same with Purple Haze. Widdle, thump, widdle, thump, wail, widdle – all at double the sensible tempo.
How about the utterly classic While My Guitar Gently Weeps – the beautiful, gentle, restrained masterpiece of subtlety and style? Widdle, thump, widdle widdle, wail, double-widdle, triple-widdle.
There is zero soul on this album.
 
Yes Yngwie can play like a BMF. Yes, he can widdle faster than the speed of taste, yes he used to be an essential purchase when actually using a producer, a vocalist, a bassist and a drummer (a real band that is).

Until he employs a modicum of self-restraint and self-awareness (and a vocalist and a producer etc etc), then I will be here to critique these albums honestly. And honestly, this is more of the same.
I’ll score this a 22 – the same number of years since the last great Malmsteen record.
 
Score: 
22
 
Thu
28
Mar

LA GUNS - The Devil You Know (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
70%
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Friday, March 22, 2019
Categories: 
 
I believe the usual line used is “stripping it back to the roots” or “delivering the raw energy of the early days”. I prefer the terms “low budget” and “crap production.”
 
The production quality aside – and it really is painful to listen to this album at volume – LA Guns definitely deliver the high energy levels.
 
This is a lively record of uptempo, attacking rock songs with a bad attitude and an aggressive feel. There’s touches of the debut and Cocked And Loaded, the punky part of Vicious Circle and some outside 70s blues rock influences (Led Zep anyone?)
 
Tracii shreds like a teenager and Phil sounds….well, like classic Phil, which is always a good thing.
 
The songs themselves are a mixed bag. The first three are pretty much classic LA Guns and Don’t Need To Win sounds like the earliest vibe of the band, Another Season In Hell stretching things into more adventurous territory.
 
The rest…I could take them or leave them. Nothing really stands out and as stated, the production is so rough and raw, its hard to appreciate any song that doesn’t deliver the highest quality.

So it’s another middle of the road score here for LA Guns. Their inconsistent catalogue remains just that. I’ll stick with the debut, Hollywood Vampires, Vicious Circle, Waking The Dead and Cocked & Loaded. Those are essential LA Guns records.
 
Score: 
70
 
Tue
26
Mar

TESLA - Shock (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
88%
Label: 
Universal
Artist: 
Categories: 
 
Tesla have been splitting fan opinions with their last few albums, but from what it appears, perhaps ‘Shock’ has come close to impressing most of the fan base.
 
The most noise surrounding this album seems to be the ‘Leppardization’ of the sound, given then Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen is producing. Yes, it’s obvious, but how can that be a bad thing, really?
The production is big and fat and the guitars are front and centre, Jeff Keith sounds in better shape and the songs are very strong.
 
For me it is great to hear Tesla back to their classic tone, leaving the modern tuned down aspect of their last couple behind – for the most part. The album’s title track certainly delivers a bombastic modernized set of riffs, but it fits well within the album.
Two ballads in the first 5 songs might be pushing things a bit – but both are classic Tesla.
 
I do have to raise my concerns with the carefree, breezy California Summer Song. It’s horrid. Lets Get Rocked meets that jackass Kid Rock with a truly obnoxious song. Then it’s another ballad – and the weakest of the album. So the album really suffers for pace through the middle, but finally The Mission comes to kick ass and rescue us from the mid-album cheese.
 
From here out it’s nothing but hooks and riffs and little for any Tesla fan to complain about.

The album’s twelve tracks clock in at only 44 minutes, but a slight tweak in the sequencing and the abandoning of California Summer Song would bring this album closer to the band’s best work. Their first 4 albums are untouchable.

Welcome back Tesla!
Score: 
86
 
Tue
26
Mar

CRANSTON - II (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
78%
Label: 
Indie
Artist: 
Categories: 
 
To those not paying attention, it might seem that PHIL VINCENT is in 17 bands, but the reality is it is only 5. And his solo career!
 
So yes, he's a busy lad and sometimes it might be valid to quote the quality over quantity cliche, but as long as he's delivering records like Cranston II, I don't think you could fairly use that.
 
CRANSTON is singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist Phil Vincent, AOR God Paul Sabu and D’Ercole drummer B.F. D’Ercole. So Phil isn't reaching far outside his musical circle for collaborators, nor is he delivering anything we haven't heard before - crunchy melodic hard rock with a slight pomp touch and those unmistakable Kip Winger styled vocals.
 
But the genuine warmth in which I hold Phil is testament to the material he delivers. Ok, so the production might not quite be there, but there's always a few songs from each album you treasure and there aren't too many fillers on offer. And he's a very fine guitarist too.

If American melodic hard rock with a pomp touch and a heavy Winger influence is your thing, then look no further.

Score: 
78
 
Tue
26
Mar

THE END MACHINE - The End Machine (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
65%
Label: 
Frontiers
Categories: 
 
George Lynch, Jeff Pilson, Mick Brown, and Robert Mason - it should be a slam dunk, home run, guaranteed hard rock monster right? Well not in this case.
 
Straddling a line between classic and modern rock, the album sounds sonically great and you can't argue that the performances of the critically acclaimed personnel isn't to their usual high standard. But why is the album stuck in a nowhere zone?
 
For me its the songs. They just aren't there. I'm not finding any compelling reason to come back to the album once it's finished playing. I think Robert Mason is a powerful singer, but I've never warmed to any album he's been involved in. For example, the second Lynch Mob album he fronted was a huge let down after the classic debut. I think he sings great, but without the necessary personality to own any project he's fronting.
 
The emphasis on down tuned guitars and that modern hard rock sound leaves me cold and the similar mid-tempo pacing throughout keeps me reaching for the skip button.

I was hoping there would be a more Dokken or even Lynch Mob flavored sound here or at least some kind of personality, and while there are hints of both, neither takes hold. For me it is just another modern American hard rock album in a pool of too many other similar projects. They guys needed better songs and more personality.

 

Score: 
65
 
Fri
01
Mar

TOBY HITCHCOCK - Reckoning (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
86%
Label: 
Frontiers
Friday, January 25, 2019
Categories: 
 
Toby Hitchcock is one of the voices of the last decade or so. Since his Pride Of Lions debut, his powerful tenor has been front and centre for some of the genre’s best anthems and most epic ballads. Any Toby Hitchcock is good Toby Hitchcock.
 
And for the most part, this album is no different. Songs are delivered by the who’s who of the AOR scene, with at least another 4-5 classic songs here – Queen Untouchable, Promise Me, No Surrender and This Is Our World. Man, the guy can sing.
 
I like that a lot of the album is uptempo and flows at a pretty hectic pace. I don’t think this is as strong as Toby’s Erik Martensson helmed debut. Even though this album is also a Swedish production, the differences are quite stark. Reckoning sounds firmly planted in the 80s, with the keyboards and production style a more distinct European in flavour.
The songs are enjoyable but not to the same level as the debut or Pride Of Lions.
 
There is one issue that desperately needs to be addressed. The keyboards. We need to talk about the keyboards.
 
As has been the case with all Daniel Flores productions, the keyboards dominate. They are the highest element in the mix, aside from vocals and there are just way too many layers of them. There is no letup in the sonic bombardment. There needs to be more space for the rest of the instrumentation to breathe. Even during guitar solos the keyboards still dominate.
 
I like Daniel a lot – very talented and sweet guy – but there must be an intervention. The keyboards are simply overbearing, and the production style is becoming very repetitive. Find Me (all 3), the second First Signal album, the Palace debut, Cry Of Dawn and now Toby Hitchcock – largely all sound the same. So moving forward I hope some individual personality can be infused into these projects. And that's the main essence of what's missing here - its own personality.
 
That said, there’s still plenty to enjoy and Toby’s vocals are powerful, emotional and totally immersive. Fans of Find Me, Daniel’s other AOR work and 80s keyboard melodic rock will enjoy.
 
Score: 
86
 
Wed
27
Feb

JETBOY - Born To Fly (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
85%
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Friday, January 25, 2019
Categories: 
 
Of all the glory days comebacks that could happen, a new Jetboy album would not have been on my list of most desired, nor expected. But nevertheless, here it is and what do you know, this ain’t bad!
 
The guys have mellowed a tad since the days of ‘Dammed Nation’, but there’s no denying the spirit and energy on display here. There have been some real clunkers delivered by American legacy bands in the last 12 months, so I wasn’t expecting much to be honest.
The style and the sound are here, not to mention a far superior production quality than some of their peers have delivered, it’s just a little less ‘in your face’ now.
 
This album does capture the essence of the 80s/90s Los Angeles metal scene and dials up the AC/DC riffing. And at the core of it is some catchy and enjoyable songs. You can hear the effort the band has put in with the production quality, but there appears to have been a lot of attention paid to the songwriting too.
 
An album exceeding expectations is always good – but when those expectations were neutral at best, it’s even more pleasing to hear an album as well made as what Jetboy have done here.
 
Good job guys – a big riffing, good fun, old school American hard rock album.
 
Score: 
85
 
Wed
27
Feb

ROBERT RODRIGO BAND - Living For Louder (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
80%
Label: 
Independent
Categories: 
 
Robert Rodrigo Band is the brainchild of Spanish guitarist Robert Rodrigo, the man behind the excellent Airless and composer of two previous instrumental solo albums.
 
This album is a mixture of all that has come before, delivered in an energetic collection of well-produced songs. There are a couple of enjoyable left turn instrumentals with another two additional more straight-ahead instrumentals later in the album. The remaining six tracks feature vocal god Johnny Gioeli in full force. His style and tone suit the album perfectly – giving both his trademark rasp and ability to turn melodic opportunities to shine.
 
There is real musical dexterity and diversity between the tracks – from a straight blues boogie to stadium anthems and some groovy sounding hard rock.
There is some vivid musical experimentation in several of the verses, but come chorus time, its all hooks and melodies.
 
10 tracks, 40 minutes….no room for fillers or fluff here. An enjoyable album with a few really good hooks and some impressive guitar work. Familiar for fans of the genre, but fresh also.
 
Score: 
80
 
Wed
27
Feb

TORA TORA - Bastards Of Beale (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
40%
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Categories: 
I love Tora Tora’s acclaimed ‘Wild America’ album – a stand out album at the time, offering something just that little bit different and unique. A mix of bluesy hard rock, Led Zeppelin and a touch of late 80s sleaze.
 
The same can’t be said about this record. ‘Bastards Of Beale’ struggles for an identity, apart from occasionally sounding like a distance version of themselves and some Zeppelinesque touches.
I’m struggling with the quality of the vocals and the production is also very rough. If you like that rawer, unpolished sound it might appeal more, but to me it sounds like the guys set up live in the studio and just hit record.
 
Anthony’s vocals are also a good distance from the energy of ‘Wild America’ and are just annoying in places. The overall style and quality of the songs are nowhere near the uniqueness and strength the band once commanded.
 
It all just sounds underdone and under budget. No question the guitar playing is still top notch, but everything else fails to meet expectations.
 
Unlikely to be played again.

 

Score: 
40
Tags: 
 
Tue
18
Sep

TREAT - Tunguska (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
98%
Release Date: 
2018
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock, AOR
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Friday, September 14, 2018
Categories: 
 
Treat really are on a blinder since reforming and this, their third studio album since then, is a testament to the ability of the band to keep delivering each time, yet do so in a fresh manner each time.
 
Tunguska is the perfect companion piece to the timeless classic Coup De Grace and the album between, the more modern sounding Ghost Of Graceland.
Tunguska has elements of both – the modern forward momentum of Ghost and the classic anthems of Coup.
 
In all honesty – if you’re a fan of Scani melodic rock, all three are as essential. Period!
 
So we have another high energy album here featuring 12 amazing compositions – all layered in vocal harmonies - 10 mid-up tempo tunes and a couple of monster ballads. Tomorrow Never Comes and the impossibly good Build The Love are genre defying classics.
 
The diversity among the tracks might give some fans reason to rate this downwind of the last 2 albums, but I embrace this evolution in Treat’s history. Best Of Enemies, Creeps and Man Overboard are probably the most challenging songs to dissect, but for me they still kill and add texture between the anthems of Always Have, Always Will; Progenitors and Rose Of Jericho.
It doesn’t stop there though, Riptide, All Bets Are Off and Undefeated give the last half more energy than the first.
 
The only caveat I will impose is the sequencing. I would not have chosen the running order of the songs as has been done here. I think there are a couple of options to make it even smoother.
 
Highly digestible Scandi melodic goodness right here. The band can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned, and this makes 3 from 3 in the classic album stakes.
The choruses are huge, the hooks even bigger and the sound is baby bum-cheek fresh. The harmonies really are something!
 
I just love these guys. Get it!
Score: 
98
 
Mon
17
Sep

STEVE PERRY - Traces (Full Feature Review)

information persons: 
content: 
92%
Produced By: 
Thom Flowers & Steve Perry
Running Time: 
40
Release Date: 
October 5
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
AOR, Soul
Label: 
Fantasy
Artist: 
Categories: 
 
The return of Steve Perry is one thing, but the avalanche of publicity for the immediate release of a single and a full album due October 5, has been something else.
Such is the rarity of new Perry work, I have been writing for 22 years and only covered one new studio album – Journey’s Trial By Fire.
But here we are – Traces is the new album – a 10 track chronicle of Steve’s recent life experiences and a 15-track deluxe edition available via direct online or USA Target stores. This is a review of the standard/international edition. It will be updated with word on the additional 5 tracks ASAP.
 
To many – me included – Steve Perry is the voice of AOR, the definitive authority on just how good vocals can be. You have to get past the pure excitement factor of just getting to hear his voice again before you can objectively critique new material. I have given most of my personal favourite artists a serve at one point or another over the years, however, I’m pleased to say there’s not much to be critical of here – provided fans understand the reality of Steve Perry 2018.
 
The voice is rougher, raspier and it isn’t as strong as it once was. But that’s almost stating the bleeding obvious. Who would be at nearly 70 years of age?
What I care about is performance and songs and ‘Traces’ gets a tick in each column.
 
I can’t imagine anyone is surprised to hear this is a ballad filled, slow to mid-tempo record. And while some may struggle with the pace, I doubt any long time Perry fan is going to be disappointed.
Steve Perry at 70 is still Steve Perry. Just like hearing Neil Diamond at any stage in his career, so too is the joy of hearing Steve Perry. It’s that distinctive voice and those trademark inflections, that tone and that unmistakable delivery of mood and emotion that no one does better.
The characteristics and familiar style of Steve Perry’s past is all over this record. You can hear parts of ‘Street Talk’, ‘Strange Medicine’ and of course ‘Trial By Fire’ and other Journey-isms.
 
Taking a look at the songs themselves:
 
‘No Erasin’' is the upbeat easy to like, catchy as hell lead track (and single). I’ve enjoyed it from the start and I’m still enjoying it. Immediately memorable and the layered Motown harmonies are trademark Steve.
 
‘We're Still Here’ is the second track and a ballad as expected. It’s very smooth, very moody and features a more direct and unfiltered lead vocal. Textured with modern production effects and soulful harmonies, the chorus isn't big, but it's cool. Compared to the rest of the album’s ballads, it almost feels ‘up’, especially with the chorus.
 
'Most Of All' is a co-write with the great Randy Goodrum. It features a wonderful heartfelt vocal; slower and very sparse and smooth, this time lead primarily by Steve's voice and a grand piano. The chorus lifts tempo slightly as does Steve's voice. I picked it as a favourite from the first listen and that’s stayed true. Not unlike Strange Medicine's slower moments, plus a nice guitar solo and plenty of soul.
 
'No More Cryin' is yet another ballad, but each track has its own vibe, making the album far more enjoyable overall. This track has a touch of the Memphis blues about it and immediately reminds me of old school Steve. The chorus lifts the tempo and has some cool modern guitar riffing.
 
'In The Rain' is something very special. This is a very personal, very emotional piano ballad, formed with just a warm, soulful vocal, the piano and some lush orchestration. The vocal is amazing - very raw and haunting and Steve’s most ambitious high notes on the album. I can’t praise that enough and the vocal-melody makes the song.
 
'Sun Shines Grey' is co-written with John 5 and producer Thom Flowers. We've found the album’s other rocker, and it reminds me of modern day Rick Springfield mixed with Journey's Can't Tame The Lion. I could imagine Neal Schon playing on this, but John 5 is the man behind the riffs and also delivers a cool solo.
 
'You Belong To Me' is another soft piano ballad with accompanying string orchestration and an ultra-smooth and soulful vocal. There's some rasp in that voice its aged, but it’s still driven by those classic Perry nuances.
 
‘Easy To Love' is another stand out ballad. This one is characterised by some percussion and organ accompanying a slow, steady Motown style vocal. The chorus jumps in tempo with some classic Perry soul harmonies. This is definitely another ballad with a familiar vibe.
 
'I Need You' is a cover of the Beatles tune, a mere 2.59 in length, this ballad features the most familiar Perry vocal sound yet! Soft, slow, soulful...it’s the theme of the record.
 
Closing out the standard edition of this album 'We Fly' is another unique ballad. The first minute features just Steve's vocal. Talk about putting yourself out there! It’s an intense song that builds as it goes with atmospheric keyboards in the background.

And there you go. A very quick 40 minutes flies by as you immerse yourself in the music and lyrics of the maestro. It’s a very fine record, there’s no doubt. Immaculately produced and constructed, with equally impressive musical performances by the band assembled and also the orchestral parts. The soulful harmonies are classic Perry and lush in texture.
 
What I do like about this album is each ballad has its own style, its own emotion and its own unique energy. Overall, this is a very contemporary album. The two rockers are both very commercial and the ballads could be lifted from any era. It’s a mood album…but perfect for when you’re in that mood.
 
It's Steve ‘MF’ Perry. It’s also very very good.

 
Target Special Edition Bonus Tracks:
 
‘October In New York’ is a slow crooner of a song – a very authentic jazz/40s pop crooner complete with a stripped back jazz-ballad arrangement with orchestration and a simple piano to accompany. Not huge on this one – but the musical style is not my bag generally speaking.
 
‘Angel Eyes’ lifts the tempo a little – mid-range for this track, which quite honestly could have come straight off Street Talk. Gracious, this one should have been on all editions! A wonderful breezy tune with lots of Motown influences and the same feel as ‘I Believe’ and ‘Go Away’. The vocal is quite marvellous.
 
‘Call On Me’ takes on the third different style in 3 songs. Almost as if Steve has left the more adventurous tracks for the special edition. This one has another familiar feel to it, using a mid-tempo reggae beat in the same way as Steve has done before, with his soulful vocals just dripping over the instrumentation. Another fine vocal it must be said and another likeable song. I would have used this on the regular edition.
 
‘Could We Be Somethin’ Again’ is yet another left turn – a slow to mid-tempo pop/soul track with a tidy little beat and another warm vocal. Good song, but definitely a bonus track kinda tune.
 
The 3 minute ‘Blue Jays Fly’ is the 5th song with the 5th different style. Not sure how to describe this one. A softly sung vocal over sparse instrumentation – it’s almost in a meditative or lullaby state that doesn’t feature a lot of vocals. It closes out things nicely, but not one I’d choose for the main set of songs.
 
More songs are always welcomed – there’s a couple of great tunes here that could easily have been part of the main release. The other 3 make for likable bonus tracks and take Steve’s overdue comeback album to a better length.
My original review and rating remain intact.
Score: 
92
 
Thu
23
Aug

STEVE PERRY - 'Traces' (First Playback Pre-Review)

Label: 
Fantasy
Artist: 
Friday, October 5, 2018
Categories: 
 
STEVE PERRY will release his brand new 10 track studio album 'Traces' on October 5 worldwide via Fantasy Records (a division of Concord Records/UMG)
 
I was fortunate enough to get a secure audio stream of the new Steve Perry album ‘Traces’, thanks to Universal. Below are my first impressions, written while listening to the album for the very first time. A full feature review will appear here in due course and in the upcoming issue of Fireworks Magazine.
 
01. No Erasin' 04:07
Writers: Steve Perry, David Spreng
 
I’m still enjoying the lead track and first single 'No Erasin'. Immediately memorable and how good is it to hear this voice again? So we've all heard the song...what's next is THE question!
 
02. We're Still Here 04:06
Writers: Steve Perry, Brian West
 
'We're Still Here' is the second track, written with Brian West. It's a ballad as expected. It is a very smooth, moody ballad with a more direct and unfiltered lead vocal. The chorus isn't big, but it's cool. Laid back and textured with modern production effects. Steve sounds great. Soul harmonies pop up here and there.
 
03. Most Of All 04:23
Writers: Steve Perry, Randy Goodrum
 
'Most Of All' is another very sparse, soft and smooth ballad, this time lead primarily by Steve's voice and a grand piano. The chorus lifts tempo slightly as does Steve's voice. I'm guessing this is going to take some time to get to know but will be a favorite. It is a very smooth track and not unlike Strange Medicine's slower moments, a nice guitar solo and plenty of soul.
 
04. No More Cryin' 04:29
Writers: Dan Wilson, Steve Perry
 
'No More Cryin' is another ballad, but at least all 3 so far have each had a different style. This one is more bluesy with a touch of Motown to it. The chorus lifts & has some modern styled guitar riffing. Co-written with Dan Wilson, this is going to be another highlight.
 
05. In The Rain 04:06
Writers: Steve Perry, David Spreng
 
'In The Rain' is written by Steve & David Spreng. It has starts off as another slow piano ballad, with a warm, soulful vocal and here comes some orchestration... It is very sparse...almost no percussion, just piano and vocal. Some great vocals here.
 
06. Sun Shines Gray 03:57
Writers: Steve Perry, John 5, Thom Flowers
 
'Sun Shines Grey' is co-written with John 5 and producer Thom Flowers. We've hit an uptempo one folks! The song reminds me a little of Journey's Trial By Fire sound: almost a Can't Tame The Lion vibe, but modernized. I could imagine Neal Schon playing on this. John 5 is delivers a cool solo and can be heard throughout, albeit in an understated role.
 
07. You Belong To Me 04:07
Writers: Steve Perry, Barry Eastmond
 
'You Belong To Me' is another slow, soft piano ballad with some more string orchestration in place and of course, an ultra-smooth and soulful vocal. There's some rasp in that voice and yes, it's aged, but still full of those classic Perry nuances.
 
08. Easy To Love 04:03
Writers: Steve Perry, Thom Flowers
 
'Easy To Love' is yes, another ballad...a little different this time. Percussion and some organ accompany another slow, steady vocal. The chorus jumps in tempo with some classic Perry soul harmonies. This is definitely another ballad with a familiar vibe.
 
09. I Need You 02:59
Writer: George Harrison
 
'I Need You' is a cover of the Beatles tune, a mere 2.59 in length, this ballad features the most familiar Perry vocal sound yet! Soft, slow, soulful...it’s the theme of the record.
 
10. We Fly 03:56
Writers: Steve Perry, Jeff Babko
 
Closing out the standard edition of this album 'We Fly' is...wait for it...wait for it...a ballad! The first minute features only Steve's vocal. Talk about putting yourself out there! An intense song that builds as it goes with atmospheric keyboards in the background. Should be another favorite in time.
 
Album Produced by: Steve Perry & Thom Flowers
 
Well folks, that's that! Obviously, one should not ever pass judgment on a record after just one listen, so stay tuned for my full, detailed review soon. Much more listening to do here.
Upfront I'll say that it sounds great but is a very slow paced record. Not unexpected I guess with the subject matter in mind and the time passed since we last heard from “the voice”.

All but 2 tracks are ballads and overall the tempo and the soulfulness of the songs clearly makes this a mood listening album. Perfect for when the situation calls for it, but not for all situations.
 
Thank You Steve Perry for coming back to share your voice with us fans.
 
RELEASE DATE: October 5th, 2018
 
TRACK LISTING:
1. No Erasin’
2. We’re Still Here
3. Most Of All
4. No More Cryin’
5. In The Rain
6. Sun Shines Gray
7. You Belong To Me
8. Easy To Love
9. I Need You
10. We Fly
11. October in New York (Deluxe edition only)
12. Angel Eyes (Deluxe edition only)
13. Call On Me (Deluxe edition only)
14. Could We Be Somethin’ Again (Deluxe edition only)
15. Blue Jays Fly (Deluxe edition only)

 

 
Wed
15
Aug

STEVE PERRY - No Erasin' (Single Review)

Artist: 
Categories: 
 
The first line of No Erasin’ says it all – I know its been a long time comin’… - the same line Steve Perry teased fans with just yesterday. Who thought we’d be listening to the first single and watching the new video just 24hrs later?
 
No Erasin’ is a triumphant return – Steve’s first new song in 20 years – and it’s classic Perry all the way. This is a GREAT song. That’s the most important aspect. It’s a personal message, which I will presume is going to be the continued theme of the album as a whole.
 
The voice? It’s there, it’s absolutely there. It’s different, yet so familiar.
 
Twenty years since we last heard Steve on record and you can hear the differences. In the same way Steve’s voice matured from the insanely high notes of Escape and Frontiers, to the deeper and more soulful Street Talk, Trial By Fire and Strange Medicine albums, so to has it further matured to be an understandably older voice. Raspier and yes, more fallible, but each time I play this song I have to pause afterwards and just appreciate how good he still sounds.
 
The production is first rate – the mix is exquisite, and every musical nuance can be heard. On the surface it seems a pretty simple song, but depth comes with time and there is so much depth here. From the classic Steve Perry soul-harmonies of his solo work and the many layers of backing vocals, to the vocal inflections such as at 1.05 and 1.40 in the song – it’s just classic “solo” Perry all the way. And the melody bridge at 3.50 – perfection.
 
The video is a joy to watch, just look at Steve’s face – you know he’s loving this and you can feel it.
 
It’s a huge sound. It may not be the faster, heavier album intro that was You Better Wait and it may well be that the album is fairly laid back and ballad heavy, but with this raspy tone and the personal lyrical style Steve does, that makes for a really compelling album and I can’t wait to hear more.
 
Putting aside the fanboy happiness to hear Steve back again, this single has already surpassed my expectations. Thank you Steve Perry.
 
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
 

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