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

Pages

Fri
16
Oct

VOODOO HILL - Waterfall (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
91%
Produced By: 
Dario Mollo
Running Time: 
55
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Score: 
92
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
 
I love, love, LOVE the guitar tone of Dario Mollo on this new Voodoo Hill album. And it’s so refreshing to hear Glenn Hughes singing straight ahead melodic hard rock, rather than a bluesy or 70s derived sound that he’s used in recent years with Black Country Communion and California Breed.
 
I pretty much enjoy and appreciate everything the great Hughes is involved in, but it was time for a change in direction and Italian guitarist Dario Mollo has offered Glenn a great platform of catchy, hard edged, commercial rock songs to shine on.
Waterfall is easily my favourite Voodoo Hill/The Cage album and is cleanly produced and mixed by Mollo with no bias towards his own guitar parts.
And it goes without saying that Glenn sounds amazing as ever. The man simply does not age!
 
All That Remains is a nice, straight forward rocker with a hard edged guitar tone and some understated vocals from Glenn. I love it when he sings this way – straight ahead rock with a commercial classic rock bent. Restrained but memorable chorus.
The Well is a slower, more groove driven rocker that is classic Glenn Hughes vocally.
Rattle Shake Bone is a bluesy hard rocker with a little more shredding and some extended higher range vocals from Glenn.
Underneath And Down Below is a twisting, moody 6 minute track with an intensity not seen yet on the album.
Waterfall is a great soulful classic Glenn Hughes/classic rock ballad that turns heavier and employs a little 70s Led Zep for good measure.
 
Karma Go is a grooving mid-tempo rocker with some vocal menace from Hughes.
Evil Thing is a mid-tempo rock n roller with a commercial chorus and a straight forward appealing vocal.
Eldorado is a faster moving track with a crunchy riff and a very commercial and memorable chorus.
White Feather is a moody, twisting track that takes a few turns and a few spins to get to know. Cool track that’s a little different to mix up the album.
Sunflower is a harder hitting track with some tasty guitar tricks and another nod to 70s classic rock.
Last Door is a longer, catchy, expertly sung, mid-paced rocker with some more nice crisp guitar work.

There’s groove, there’s attitude, but above all else, there are some terrific guitar driven rock songs, sung with an authority only Hughes can muster.
Waterfall features one of the cleanest mixes I’ve heard in a while and reminds me in part of another favourite album from the past – John Norum’s Face The Truth (also featuring Hughes).
Definitely one to check out by all.

 

Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Fri
16
Oct

JOEL HOEKSTRA's 13 - Dying To Live (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
93%
Produced By: 
Joel Hoekstra
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Score: 
93
Label: 
Frontiers
 
 
Guitarist, songwriter and all-round good guy Joel Hoekstra is a man on the rise. From Rock Of Ages, to Night Ranger, the occasional Foreigner fill-in role and now in Whitesnake, Joel Hoekstra is become a name guitarist in an era where few new guitar heroes have emerged.
 
His debut solo album is where he’s allowed to shine – from the impeccable guitar soloing and master class in memorable riff writing – to the challenging job of taking control of production – Joel nails it.
And in a nice added bonus, Joel has written every track on this album. Himself! (there’s one co-write with Russell Allen).
It’s nice to hear such an accomplished album from the pen of the star rather than hired gun writers.
 
This is a diverse album that ranges from melodic metal to commercial melodic rock, without losing the common thread and consistency an album needs.
Interestingly, with the two vocalists involved it is often a reversal of the expected, with metal man Russell Allen delivering a couple of fine melodic numbers and the voice of melodic rock Jeff Scott Soto handing in a couple of aggressive in your face numbers.
Of course both singers do what they do best on the other tracks, giving the album a clear balance of styles, despite the sometimes distracting tactic of alternating vocalists.
 
Say Goodbye to the Sun is a fierce tour de force with Russell bellowing at full volume. A Dio-esque metal intensity with this fine song.
Anymore sees Russell delivering a really catchy hard rock track with a fast beat and a free flowing high energy chorus.
Until I Left You is nothing short of a classic JSS sung melodic rock anthem. Great tune for fans of Night Ranger and Jeff as Joel turns ultra-commercial here.
Long For the Days is an epic sounding classic rock ballad. There’s some 70s and 80s influences there and more Dio, but ultra-melodic. Classy slow guitar solo too.
Scream is Jeff’s turn to go metal, with a tough but melodic sounding stadium metal track.
Never Say Never is Russell getting to sing at his most commercial. This is an instantly memorable melodic rocker with a stand out chorus.
 
Changes is Russell again, signing a moody hard rock track with a good heart.
The Only Way to Go is a uptempo hard rock song with a swagger and JSS in his darker heavier tone and Joel slashing his way through the song.
Dying to Live is a fast and fabulous melodic metal track which suits Russell to a tee.
Start Again is another JSS delivered monster melodic rock anthem. Huge chorus.
What We Believe is a bit of an epic mid-tempo album closer – the perfect tempo and tone to end one epic album.
 

 
Two thumbs up for Joel. Another very strong album – even more so give that it’s his debut solo album. A must for anyone that’s enjoyed his output in Night Ranger, Whitesnake and elsewhere.
And a cracking good set of songs for fans of JSS and Russell Allen to enjoy. The two singers really deliver here.
Melodic hard rock at its best!
 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Fri
16
Oct

STRYPER - Fallen (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
94%
Produced By: 
Michael Sweet
Running Time: 
52
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Score: 
94
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
 
What I want to know is who lit a fuse under Michael Sweet to inspire such a creative flourish? In the last few years we’ve had a Stryper covers album, a re-recordings set, a live album, Sweet’s own solo album, the Sweet & Lynch epic and now we are on to the latest studio album, which comes after the band’s acclaimed No More Hell To Pay.
Fallen takes up where that album left off and continues the evolution of Stryper, surely now one of the most credible hard rock outfits in the world, not just of the Christian rock scene.
It’s hard, it’s fast, it’s energetic and it’s also enthusiastic in spirit.
From the opening chords, the album (produced by Sweet himself) defines the Stryper sound as melodic, yet in your face and fueled by a guitar driven energy.
The positive lyrics and Christian themes don’t overshadow a strong musical performance and a rawer, heavier production style.
 
Yahweh is an absolute belter to open the account. Big riffs, bigger vocals and a stomping heavy beat driving this soaring semi-progressive hard rocker. Without being overly commercial, it’s a catchy tune. One of Stryper’s heaviest ever songs.
Fallen seems to take the foot off the pedal after a ferocious intro. But the mid-tempo groove gives way to another big catchy chorus with Michael Sweet singing like man possessed (in the good sense!)
Pride is another thumping rock track with a solid groove and a screaming chorus.
Big Screen Lies is the catchiest chorus of the album thus far. It rolls along nicely, a little less intense than the opening metal salvo.
Heaven has a slow to mid-tempo beat, but a very melodic guitar hook and chorus. A good mid-album circuit breaker.
Love You Like I Do is a cool melodic mid-tempo commercial rocker with a great hook and a tasty guitar solo that takes me back to the golden era of melodic hard rock.
All Over Again is the first ballad of the album and sees the acoustic guitars dusted off to help create a stirring commercial rock ballad.
The Black Sabbath cover After Forever rocks hard and fast and thumps along at a great rate before slotting into a bluesy groove and back again. This is heavy, aggressive, raw rock n roll with a really cool vocal.
Till I Get What I Need follows a similar path – fast, free flowing and rocking hard, and again with that heavy groove! Great little chorus with some harmony vocals making even better.
Let There Be Light is a slow, moody hard rocker that launches into a faster, harmony filled chorus that makes the track another album highlight.
The Calling is simply put – a short, sharp, commercial hard rocker with definite appeal.
King Of Kings closes the album with another hard edged thumping rock track. The chorus is one of the best of the album, ending this 50 minute sonic blast with a bang.

This is really a very well balanced album. Power to melody; rockers to moodier numbers and lead vocals to harmonies; all in balance.
Another very accomplished piece of work from main man Michael Sweet and band. As primary songwriter and producer, Sweet’s vision has come together perfectly and Stryper fans will simply love this latest addition to the band’s now considerable catalogue.

 

Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Thu
15
Oct

DEF LEPPARD - Def Leppard (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
95%
Produced By: 
Def Leppard
Running Time: 
54
Release Date: 
October 30
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock
Score: 
95
Label: 
earMusic
Artist: 
 
It’s quite fitting the new DEF LEPPARD album has been dubbed “Def Leppard” as the contents can only be described as sounding like, well, Def Leppard.
In keeping with recent Leppard history, this is again a pretty diverse album, but perhaps not quite as diverse as Songs From The Sparkle Lounge.
I’m likening the flow of the album to that of X; that is – more melodic in the front and heavier, more experiential in the back end.
 
Song wise we have a very strong set of tunes. Far superior to those on Sparkle and amongst the most consistent for what fans want since Hysteria/Adrenalize.
However, I can’t say the best album since Hysteria, as I’m one of a minority that continue to rate X very highly indeed.
 
The first half of the album is very traditional Leppard. It also carries a unique moody feel that is played out with some very melodic choruses.
The second half is a little more experimental and varied, featuring some stuff I haven’t heard before from the band and a mix of 70s, 80s and today’s sounds.
What we have here is an album that is classic Leppard without actually honing in on any one album or era. There’s parts of Hysteria, Adrenalize, Euphoria, Slang, X and even Sparkle on here. In other words, its “Def Leppard”.
 
Fans can get excited though, no matter what era of the band you favor. Because at the heart of it, this is the most authentic Def Leppard album in two decades and features a monster production and beautiful mix, where harmonies and guitars rule the day, but the rhythm section and vocalist Joe Elliott are all equally showcased.
 
Track By Track:
 
1. Let's Go is quite simply, classic Leppard. Yes, it’s Pour Some Sugar Mk2, but it’s produced to the nines, features a catchy chorus and layers of Leppard harmonies. It gets better with age, which is something some of the tracks from Sparkle didn’t do.
 
2. Dangerous has been compared by the band to Photograph. I agree the chorus is a similar, fast flowing hands in the air singalong anthem, but the verse has its own identity. The rhythm guitars are quite meaty and have a modern sound while the lead guitar is more traditionally Leppard. Whatever the comparisons, it’s classic fast moving Def Leppard anthem and will be the most favoured song on the album by many I’m sure.
 
3. Man Enough is this album’s most left of center tune. It’s a cool tune – think Slang meets Queen’s Another One Bites The Dust. It’s bass heavy and very sparse apart from the short chorus where lead guitar delivers a cool riff. It is probably the track traditional DL fans will have the most trouble with, but it does have its charms. However, I do think it’s a tempo killer after the awesome Dangerous and a little too experimental for its position at track 3.
 
4. We Belong is something quite wonderful. This is one of the most genuinely heartfelt songs I’ve heard from Leppard since the song Hysteria and features what sounds like everyone joining in on lead vocals through the song. It’s a moody mid-tempo tune with a simply awesome layered chorus that I can’t get enough of. One of those tracks where the verse is every bit as good as the chorus.
 
5. Invincible kicks off with a heavy bass line and then a uptempo snare before a very melodic guitar riff kicks in. The first thing I thought of was Charlie Sexton. It really sounds like something from his 1989 Charlie Sexton album. This is another moody rocker that rolls along at a mid-to-up-tempo range with yet another stunning chorus – albeit one that holds restraint and keeps in pace with the mood of the rest of the song. The background guitar work is melodic bliss that emphasizes Joe’s warm raspy vocal.
 
6. Sea Of Love picks up the tempo a little and sounds like it could have come from any Leppard album post-Hysteria. The chorus is another catchy layered refrain, again feeling somewhat restrained and certainly smoother than the heavier verse. The guitar solo is a nice extended piece before the chorus again takes control. A bit of a party tune this one.
 
7. Energized sounds like it could be fast and furious, but it’s actually quite laid back and in keeping with this mid-album run of moody melodic rock tracks. The verse has a modern programmed feel with a soft JE vocal, before a very catchy, but restrained, chorus takes over. There’s a hint of X and Slang about the production here, but the chorus fits the style of the preceding songs.
 
8. All Time High kicks things back into full overdrive at about the time when you started wondering if this was going to be a mildly mellow album. Fear not – this is a high energy, thumping beat driven rocker where the chorus bursts through for high impact. Fun, fast and fabulous. The guitar solo in particular packs a real punch. Classic Def Leppard. Awesome.
 
9. Battle Of My Own is an interesting track. This semi-acoustic track is the band’s tip of the hat to Led Zeppelin and their quirky 70s acoustic/vocal driven sound. It also reminds me of the sound and style on the Coverdale Page album (think the intro stages of Shake My Tree). The song clocks in under 3 minutes, but still finds a minute or so to rock out at the end, further embellishing on the Zeppelinesque sound. They fit a whole hell of a lot into 2 minutes 45!
 
10. Broke 'N' Brokenhearted is a breezy, classic commercial upbeat Def Leppard rocker. Picking up the pace again, this is a simple guitar fueled enjoyable singalong song that will work well live – especially with the layered harmony chorus.
 
11. Forever Young features a more modern sound, the guitar especially. The drums kick in to lead the song into a jarring verse that’s contrasted with a short simple chorus that’s only defined by the change in vocal delivery and the extra harmonies. Otherwise it’s a pretty fast moving guitar dominated track. An interesting and musically challenging track.
 
12. Last Dance is another classic rock ballad featuring a very commercial chorus and a dominant acoustic driven sound. The track could almost be a Rod Stewart cover from the late 70s. Short, but cool.
 
13. Wings Of An Angel is the albums last big rocker. It builds from a restrained intro into a big modern rocker with a darker sounding vocal from Joe and some contemporary guitar parts that wouldn’t sound out of place on the latter half of X. However it still feels right at home amongst these songs.
 
14. Blind Faith is something new and different for the band. Featuring a strong raspy vocal from Joe and some slow electric soling behind him, the song builds with the addition of an orchestral section before another soft verse. Then the song turns slightly psychedelic while remaining slow in tempo before a guitar solo and the rest of the band up the stakes. Then it’s back to an acoustic vocal before everything finally bursts to life for the last minute of the song. At 5.30 the song is the longest of the album and easily the most epic of any recent Leppard song.

 
Without the benefit of another month of high-rotation absorption of this album, I still think I can safely say that the band have delivered a home run here and will have fans united in their praise.
A very “Def Leppard” style album which is all the fans want in this day and age.
Fresh and innovative without sounding like someone else and classic and retroactive (pardon the pun) without being stale or repetitive.
There’s life in the old dog yet and I give credit to the band for pushing aside modern industry concerns to still deliver a ripping full length album of this quality.
For the record, I gave X a 98; Songs From The Sparkle Lounge 85 and Yeah 68 and Euphoria 93. Of course Pyromania and Hysteria are perfect 100s.
For me, Def Leppard slips into the gap between X and Euphoria.
 

 

Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Wed
23
Sep

BLACKMORE'S NIGHT - All Our Yesterdays (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
80%
Produced By: 
Richie Blackmore
Running Time: 
50
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Renaissance/Folk/Acoustic
Score: 
80
Label: 
Frontiers
 
Richie Blackmore needs no introduction and now after 10 Blackmore’s Night releases, nor does his better half, the very talented Candice Night.
Together the pair has formed a union more stable than Deep Purple or Rainbow ever was and Richie seems more than content rolling out an album every year of this specialized blend of medieval/folk/acoustic/renaissance music.
 
This is one of those occasions where you must remove any personal bias in order to deliver a fair review. Because that musical description rules me out as a listener. Naturally I’ve spun this a couple of times for review purposes, but you’d have to lock me in a dungeon, tied to a Rank if you wanted me to listen to it again. It’s just not on my musical radar. At all.
 
However – it’s very good! Of course it is. Richie is a savant of the genre. A prodigy of anything musical. So of course it’s immaculately produced and mixed and filled with an equal mix of instrumental passages and sweetly sung lullabies.
I must admit to being quite partial to the cover of Mike Oldfield’s Moonlight Shadow; but on the other hand, I Got You Babe is cringeworthy.
The rest are thoughtfully composed originals.

So it all comes down to taste really. You really, really have to be into this stuff to appreciate it. The acoustic dexterity of Blackmore is as exquisite as always and Candice has a soothing vocal.
Rockers avoid! Lovers of ye olde kingdom of fantasy and followers of past albums will find this another tasteful addition to the Blackmore catalogue.

 

Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Wed
23
Sep

OPERATION MINDCRIME - The Key (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
45%
Produced By: 
Geoff Tate
Running Time: 
47
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Progressive Alt-Metal
Score: 
45
Label: 
Frontiers
 
You’ll have to indulge Geoff Tate just a little longer before he realizes fans don’t want what he’s selling. After forcing myself to listen to this a dozen times, you can see where the former prog-metal hero wants to go musically. Sadly it’s not where 90% of his fans want.
 
I get where he’s coming from. This 50 minute expressive, experimental, alt-metal album does attempt to make a statement, but in the end it’s just really hard to listen to.
There is no cohesiveness that binds the album together and while he comes close to former glories on the impressive Re-Inventing The Future and maybe Life Or Death; elsewhere he delivers utter dreck like The Stranger and Hearing Voices that I struggle to think who it might appeal to.
Tracks like Burn and Ready To Fly just drag and the mood building intro track Choices is largely pointless.
Its 2015 – the market place is selective. Fans want what they want. There isn’t much room for epic concept pieces unless they are very very good.
 
The production here is ok, but I find that it’s hard to get a grip on everything happening within the mix, it’s a bit of a blur really. There's a lot going on and it's complex enough, but it just doesn't flow for me.

Listening to music should be easy, whatever the mood may call for – escapism, aggression, adrenaline, relaxing or challenging. But it should be easy. This album is a real chore to get through. There’s just too many left turns on this album. Basically Tate keeps turning left and ends up going around in circles.

 

Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Thu
17
Sep

DEF LEPPARD - Let's Go (Single Review)

Artist: 
 
Def Leppard have finally broken their usual multi-year silence with a highly anticipated brand new single Pour Some Sugar On Me ‘Let’s Go’.
 
In a nutshell, the slow-to-mid paced melodic rocker is cut straight from the Def Leppard classic hits songbook. Yes, it’s a little too close to that hit single that helped break the band wide open, but its only themselves they are ripping off, so no harm done!
 
The best aspect of the song is the attention to detail the production has. The band has ensured that all their classic elements are present – big guitars, layered harmonies and a hard hitting drum sound that’s straight off ‘Hysteria’.
 
The band has constantly been criticised by some as failing to meet the commercial style of ‘Pyromania’ and ‘Hysteria’, but this time they unashamedly clone one of their biggest hits for a 2015 anthem that should take fans back to when they were 18 again.
 
‘Promises’ is still my favourite post-80s single, and while this doesn’t quite reach the anthemic heights of that brilliant number, I do rate it very favourably. The only thing I’m left wishing for was a pick up in the pace (something that can be corrected by upping the tempo rate using YouTube’s tool).
 
As far as over-enthusiastic and passionate die-hard Def Leppard fans go, they are right up there with those that follow Bon Jovi or Journey with the same dedication. Sometimes it can get interesting…
So it’s no surprise to see comments running the whole range of emotions - from the best song in the history of history; to the worst single since Elvis decided to try his hand at doom metal.
 
I think you’ll find the majority of long time Leppard fans leaning into the positive and the more casual listener making up the vocal minority on the negative.
 
Me – I’ve always been a big fan of the band and this gives me cause to feel optimistic about the upcoming album.
 
PS. Joe Elliott sounds great.
 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Tue
01
Sep

BON JOVI - Burning Bridges (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
10%
Produced By: 
John Francis Bongiovi, Jr & John Shanks
Running Time: 
Too Long
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Middle of the Road
Score: 
10
Label: 
Mercury
Artist: 
 
So Jon Bon Jovi is all about ‘burning bridges’ in the twilight of his career. He’s burning Richie Sambora and he’s burning Mercury Records. And he’s using big words like integrity…but where is the integrity in throwing together some half-assed compilation of B (more like D) material and expecting fans to lap it up?
 
And right there is the third factor in the equation. With this album JBJ is so desperate to stick it to the man, he’s also burning fans. Fans that expect and deserve better.
This is supposed to be a contractual obligation album to free JBJ Inc and Irving Azoff to figure out a new paradigm to pillage the fan base, but having been burned by this release, how many will return for another dose in 2016?
 
The law of bad albums affects an artist in two ways – first word gets out that a turd has been delivered and it subsequently underperforms. But those fans that did purchase will now be far more weary next time around, meaning the following album could be a masterpiece, but no one may be left listening. So Jon, screw the fans if you must, but get ready for return fire.
 
The other absolutely disgraceful thing about this album is the shitty packaging for the CD. A plain single page cover and bare tray card offering zero information or lyrics or an apology from Jon for taking your money. Disgraceful.
 
The only remotely interesting track is the uptempo modern rocker We Don’t Run, which frankly is something we have all heard before and is hardly essential.
There are some absolutely dreadful songs on this “release”. Truly self-indulgent, slow, emotionless dross.
It may be fashionable to criticize recent Bon Jovi outings, but this takes it to a new level. This makes The Circle seem like Sgt Peppers.

It starts slow, ends slow and is slow in the middle. This is a record without life. Without energy. Without any artistic integrity.
For many years Bon Jovi shat gold nuggets, but this is without any doubt whatsoever, a giant lump of turgid dog shit.
I’m off to play the new Iron Maiden to clear out my ears.
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Fri
21
Aug

LYNCH MOB - Rebel (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
86%
Produced By: 
George Lynch & Chris Collier
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Hard Rock
Score: 
87
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
 
Everywhere you turn right now, there’s George Lynch, whether it be a solo release, a collaboration with another high profile artist (such as Michael Sweet) and now here again with a brand new Lynch Mob record.
Terrific to see Oni Logan fronting the band for another album, for me, he has always been the voice of this band. And great to see all songs produced and written by the duo.
Joining in the fun here is the perfect rhythm section for the occasion – Jeff Pilson and Brian Tichy.
 
As expected George keeps to his current style, which are his much loved riff and solo guitar playing, over a pretty heavy, high impact contemporary sound.
I love the production on this album – it’s tight and well balanced – everything can be heard with no one element overpowering another.
 
Song wise you can’t go past the heavy commercial groove of Automatic Fix or the thumping bass of Between the Truth and a Lie; while Testify is slow moving, grinding, ear bending heaviness; and Sanctuary is another pretty cool uptempo rocker.
Pine Tree Avenue features the biggest R&B groove of the album and along with Dirty Money represent the most alt-modern tracks.
The Ledge is a cool slower track with a hint of sentiment and some acoustic thrown in for good measure.
War is one of the very few uptempo tracks and is instantly one of my favorites.

Lynch fans will love this unquestionably. Dokken fans…mostly. Outsiders…not sure.
The production is awesome, the guitar work sensational, but the pacing could be a little more varied. A couple more uptempo tracks would have been nice. But killer groove as always.
 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Fri
21
Aug

PRAYING MANTIS - Legacy (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
92%
section name: 
BEST TRACKS
content: 
Fight For Your Honor
The One
Believable
Better Man
All I See
The Runner
Against The World
Produced By: 
Tino Troy & Andy Burgess
Running Time: 
55
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Score: 
92
Label: 
Frontiers
 
There’s nothing better than seeing heritage acts such as Praying Mantis, delivering brilliant albums after all these years. Active since the 70s, this is the band’s 10th studio record and first since 2009.
There’s been many a lineup change over the years; the band now features the quite unbelievable vocalist Jaycee Cuijpers, who channels Jorn Lande and Ronnie James Dio in his powerhouse performance.
 
I’m all about the vocals, so this effort has blown me away. Jaycee is here to stay and it’s no surprise to see within his past credits, a stint in a Dio tribute band.
The band are calling this one of their ever albums and I can’t find a reason to disagree.
The songs are thoroughly enjoyable, suitably heavy, but also quite commercial.
 
The excellent opening track Fight For Your Honor is classic NWOBHM; but immediately following is a beautiful melodic, almost AOR number in The One. The vocals here are especially enjoyable. I can see a solo AOR album in Jaycee’s future.
The ghost of Ronnie James Dio is back for the rocker Believable; while Tokyo is surprisingly melodic once again before turning ultra-moody for Better Man.
All I See is another wonderfully melodic mid-tempo anthem with a commercial chorus you’d more often see on a Magnum album.
The Runner is a great fast moving melodic rocker with some shredding guitar soloing towards the end of the track.
Against The World is again more catchy than you’d expect while the album closes out with the double time stomper Second Time Around.

Old or new to the world of British rockers Praying Mantis, this is worth checking out folks. They look heavier than they sound – especially on this record – crossing over from hard rock into melodic rock with ease and back into rock mode.
It’s a very fine album featuring a very fine new singer.
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Fri
21
Aug

ROYAL HUNT - Devil's Dozen (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
90%
Produced By: 
Andre Andersen
Running Time: 
49
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
Melodic Metal
Score: 
90
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
 
It must be symphonic rock month, as Denmark’s symph-rock legends Royal Hunt keep their momentum going with album number 13, fittingly titled Devil’s Dozen.
 
You always know what to expect with the Hunt. So after an expected over the top bombastic intro, the opening track So Right So Wrong delivers everything fans were expecting.
With the exception perhaps of the tone in DC Cooper’s vocals. Not sure why he is using a nasally tone for some of the vocals? Either way, it’s a very fine classic Royal Hunt tune.
 
May You Never (Walk Alone) has a nicely balanced orchestral piano intro, high on sentiment before exploding into a double kick drum epic.
There’s only 8 new tunes on the album (similar to the last release), but with 5 of those near or over 7 minutes, there is still good value on offer.
 
50 minutes of bombastic, classic Royal Hunt material, with DC in fine voice and the writing and production talents of Andre Andersen in good form.
 
In many ways this album typifies the sound of the band over the previous 12 albums. They probably won’t top my favourite The Mission, but this is very consistent and nothing short of massive in sound.
I can’t separate the songs into favourites – there are only 8 – so no fillers thankfully.
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Fri
21
Aug

THE MURDER OF MY SWEET - Beth Out Of Hell (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
89%
Produced By: 
Daniel Flores
Running Time: 
70
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
Progressive Symphonic Hard Rock
Score: 
89
Label: 
Frontiers
 
It’s been 3 years since The Murder Of My Sweet’s second album and eight since their debut introduced us to a unique brand of modern/gothic/symphonic Scandi hard rock, from the mind of producer/drummer Daniel Flores and fronted by vocalist Angelica Rylin. Daniel and Angelica wrote this epic album together and Daniel produced, recorded, mixed and mastered this ambitious slice of music.
 
Heavier, darker, more symphonic and certainly more dramatic, Beth Out Of Hell is a 70 minute concept piece that travels the spectrum of emotions from anger, to love, passion and angst.
This isn’t an easy album to absorb. It takes time and concentration to unravel all of the music within. The album is almost a rock opera, with passages of music crossing into other songs and some lengthy tunes really going over the top. The two longest (Requiem For A Ghost 9.28 and Means To An End 11.04) are mini operas within themselves.
 
Highlights include the aforementioned epics, along with the dramatic and moody World In Ashes; the symphonic keyboard laden Always The Fugitive; the more commercial melodic rockers Still and The Humble Servant; plus the anthemic roller coaster that is Euthanasia.

The orchestration and attention to detail throughout is a credit to Flores.
More progressive and orchestral than the first two records, Beth Out Of Hell is a real work of art – but it will have to suit the mood and tastes of those looking to purchase.
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Fri
21
Aug

SKINTRADE - Scarred For Life (Review)

information persons: 
Produced By: 
Oscar Ammer
Running Time: 
40
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
Hard Rock
Score: 
86
Label: 
AOR Heaven
Artist: 
 
The versatile and energetic Matti Alfonzetti returns to the scene of one of his most loved bands – Sweden’s Skintrade. Back together during 2011, the band released their third album Refueled last year.
If that was a good solid album, then this is a great album! Once again, Matti crafts some fine aggressive hard rock tunes and turns then melodic with his powerful vocals.
 
With one foot in the past and one in the present, Skintrade’s new album is a mesh of modern rock and slick production, and classic Scandi driving hard rock.
Production is quite superb here – the mixing of styles is done seamlessly – with a cracking rhythm section pushing Matti to his vocal best.
 
It wasn’t an instant like album. Appreciation came over time and now I’m hooked.
Whether it is driving hard rock (opener Scarred For Life, the furious LoveHate and Storm Will Come) or a more groove orientated sound (Goodbye, Lay With Me and Leave A Scar) or a switch to modern rock with the cover of Katy Perry’s Wide Awake and the marvelous contemporary ballad Broken, there’s variety for everyone here.
And a more classic melodic rock sound seeps through on the ballad Find A Way.

Ten tracks, 40 minutes – the perfect album length. No filler here, just thumping hard rock with a strong contemporary feel and some fantastic vocals from the always reliable Alfonzetti.

 

Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Fri
21
Aug

NEWMAN - The Elegance Machine (Review)

information persons: 
Produced By: 
Steve Newman
Running Time: 
55
Release Date: 
August 28
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Score: 
91
Label: 
AOR Heaven
Artist: 
 
Another of the hard working regulars of this scene is one Steve Newman. And he’s consistently delivered quality music year after year and is at it once again on The Elegance Machine.
Picking up where they left off with Siren, this album holds the same musical outlook that The Art Of Balance and Under Southern Skies both did.
So you know what you are going to get – a collection of punchy, guitar and keyboard driven melodic rock songs, with Steve’s distinctive voice and his layered harmony style choruses.
 
And as usual the album mixes uptempo harder tunes like The Suit, Illuminate and Confess alongside commercial melodic rock such as The Elegance Machine, Pretender Surrender and Send Us Salvation.
Moody tracks such as Halo and She Walks In Silence are balanced between the appearance of two cracking AOR numbers Don’t Stay Lonely and One Good Reason.
What I’m really enjoying on this album is the warmth of Steve’s voice on a few of the tracks (The Elegance Machine and Prayer For Apollo in particular).
Speaking of which, Prayer For Apollo is brilliant – this is a quirky track with a haunting intro and a brilliant anthemic chorus. A definite instant highlight.

Another winning slice of British classic melodic rock and AOR from one of the genre’s most reliable writers. If you own one, you must own them all. Now go get this latest opus.
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Fri
21
Aug

MICHAEL BORMANN - Closer (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
86%
section name: 
BEST TRACKS
content: 
I'm Not Your Entertainment
Let's Make History
Living It Up
For This One Time in Life
Closer
Produced By: 
Michael Bormann
Running Time: 
44
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Score: 
86
Label: 
AOR Heaven
 
Popular German melodic rock vocalist Michael Bormann continues his life outside Jaded Heart and various other bands like Redrum, Powerworld and Silent Force, with this, his 5th solo album.
Closer is a pretty diverse set of tunes – Michael seems to be bringing a set of contemporary and commercial songs that might appeal to radio/mainstream after his appearance on the German version of The Voice.
The various musical paths are all wrapped up in a familiar melodic rock theme, one that fans of Michael will instantly recognize, but with additional attributes added such as effects, programming and a couple of questionable extras.
 
The album starts strongly with a typical fired up Bormann driving the rocker I'm Not Your Entertainment. This is classic Bormann/Jaded Heart material and is joined by an effects filled Let's Make History plus straight ahead rockers Living It Up and I Wanna Be a Rockstar as the album’s traditional base.
As far as ballads go, Michael delivers a few quality tunes. The closing piano ballad Warrior is perhaps the best, but also very enjoyable is the heavy For This One Time in Life, which is followed by the other piano ballad Closer.
Because We Are the World is another sentimental, hands in the air rock ballad, but it concludes with a German children’s choir who’s pronunciation of the lyrics doesn’t quite work.
 
That’s the good – the majority of the albums tracks thankfully – but there are a few tracks that don’t work. The first is the mid-tempo Never Say Die, backed by a strong programmed drum beat and a moody vocal; it kinda kills the momentum of the first two tracks.
That’s followed by the hideous Can't Get a Touch Too Much. It’s a true WTF moment and doesn’t belong on this album at all. The rapping-Kid Rock-styled beat driven song, featuring female backing vocals (…and is that a banjo??) is tragically bad.
Rich Men's World is another track with a jarring beat and you are left waiting for Bormann to break into another rap. It doesn’t come thankfully. Down to the Bottle is however when it does appear. Mike - stick to the singing mate – you’re awesome!

Some of Mike’s best solo material here. A well-produced and solid album with the unfortunate diversion of four tracks that just don’t belong. Skip those however and you’ll be right at home in the best musical era of Jaded Heart.
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Fri
21
Aug

SCORPIONS - Return To Forever (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
85%
Produced By: 
Mikael Nord Andersson & Martin Hansen
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Score: 
85
Label: 
Sony
Artist: 
 
Germany’s rock legends the Scorpions return with their final studio album and final tour. Or not…maybe, who knows. Either way, the guys have come out firing with a big guitar fueled, anthemic rock record that combines song ideas from the early and mid-80s and from today.
So it sounds like an old-school Scorps record, but with a contemporary production.
There’s a lot to like here as long as you can get past the cringe worthy and clichéd lyrics and the band should absolutely be cited for the overuse of the term ‘rock and roll’ – Rock My Car, Rock N Roll Band, Hard Rockin’ The Place, Rollin’ Home.
We get it guys – you ROCK!
 
On a serious note, this is a fun album as long as you check your brain in when you hit play.
The 80s hard rock of Going Out With A Bang sums things up fairly well; and We Built This House is a great melodic rocker with a big chorus.
Rock My Car sounds like it might be called Rock My (censored) if you don’t listen close enough. It’s a bit daft.
 
House Of Cards is a solid new Winds Of Change style ballad; Rock N Roll Band has a fast beat and decent riff; Catch Your Play is a nice pompous AOR track; The Scratch has quite a groove; and Gypsy Life is a sentimental anthem before a whole range of bonus tracks (depending on format) kick in.
 
Of the bonus stuff, only the upbeat Dancing With The Moonlight has any real lasting power. The chance of having up to 5 bonus tracks moves this album from consistent to too long and containing several fillers.

Well produced by Mikael Nord Andersson and Martin Hansen and filled with the best anthemic songs the Scorps have always been known for. Nothing new, but nothing bad (apart from the lyrics) either. Just good old’ rockin’ rocking rock rock’n’roll.

 
Categories: 
Tags: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Thu
16
Jul

DEGREED - Dead But Not Forgotten (Review)

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

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

THE V - Now Or Never (Review)

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

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

KELLY KEELING - Mind Radio (Review)

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

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

CHAOS MAGIC Featuring Caterina Nix & Timo Tolkki (Review)

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

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

 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Mon
13
Jul

DIMINO - Old Habits Die Hard (Review)

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

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

 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Fri
26
Jun

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

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

TRIXTER - Human Era (Review)

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

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

BEAUVOIR FREE - American Trash (Review)

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

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

HOUSE OF LORDS - Indestructible (Review)

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

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

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