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Dennis Ward

Fri
02
Dec

PLACE VENDOME Album 'Close to the Sun' Due February 24

Artist: 
 
Frontiers Music Srl is excited to announce the release of the brand new PLACE VENDOME album, “Close to the Sun” on February 24th, 2017.
 
One of the most popular projects put together over the years by Frontiers' President Serafino Perugino, Place Vendome was an idea sparked during a phone conversation between Serafino and former Helloween singer Michael Kiske, where they discussed their common passion for several melodic rock giants of the 80’s. The Hamburg singer agreed to be part of a studio project where he would sign songs written especially for him by various writers with an AOR/melodic rock flavor.
 
The amazing reception of the first PLACE VENDOME album released in 2005 planted the seeds for a second recording, “Streets of Fire”, which was recorded during 2008 and for a third album, “Thunder in the Distance,” which was released in 2013. Being a project so close to Kiske’s heart, it was agreed during 2016 that work on a new album would start with his Unisonic  bandmate Dennis Ward at the production helm, as usual.
 
Of the album, Ward said, "Upon receiving the demos for the new songs intended for the new Place Vendome record I was a bit concerned because a few vocal styles seemed to go against what Michael Kiske is known for vocally. After talking together we agreed to just let the melodies come out naturally, without trying to imitate or “reproduce” the demos. Michael really stood up to this on the new album. He did “his” thing, with no compromises. He managed to make the songs his own and brought all the songs to another level. I have a lot of respect for him because of this and now the album is much more than just another AOR album. That being said I have to pay high respects to the other musicians on the album: Dirk Bruineberg proved again that he is a multi-talented drummer that can literally pull of any groove, any style of any era with the highest of expectations. Günter Werno is also a gem amongst a pile of stones. He really shines on this album and holds all the songs together, true to the Place Vendome sound. Uwe Reitenauer is also a master of his instrument taking over duties that were critical and complicated to say the least. He has the perfect AOR tone and can implement it no matter what type of song you throw at him. The rest of the “guests" that helped out made this album into a truly interesting compilation and also making this a milestone for Place Vendome. That being said, it’s the first Place Vendome album where I feel that we have achieved our trademark sound. This is how we want to be heard and this is how we imagine ourselves to sound."
 
Speaking of other album guests, once again, Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear) was one of the first to answer the call to participate and offered the awesome song, “Falling Star” to the project. Jani Liimatainen (Cain's Offering, ex Sonata Arctica) was the next contributor with the epic “Welcome to the Edge”, the album’s tour de force. Following Labyrinth’s reunion, guitarist Olaf Thorsen sat with Eternal Idol, Angra and Rhapsody singer Fabio Lione and offered “Helen” and “Riding the Ghost”. Frontiers’ President Serafino Perugino then proposed that his favourite DGM song, “Hereafter” be included. This brought DGM’s main composer, Simone Mularoni into the picture and he wrote the album’s title track and “Across the Times”. Alessandro Del Vecchio also offered two new songs, “Strong” and “Yesterday Is Gone”, while Secret Sphere’s guitarist Aldo LoNobile wrote “Distant Skies” and “Breathing”. The full picture was finally completed with a new song written by Swedish melodic rock artist Michael Palace (Palace, Skylander), “Light Before the Dark”.
 
Kiske and Ward wanted to make the album a little bit special, so besides the “usual suspects” (including drummer Dirk Bruinenberg, Vanden Plas’ ivory tinkler Gunter Werno and Pink Cream 69’s Uwe Reineauer on guitars), some guitar heavyweights appear on the recordings. The list includes Alfred Koffler and (of course) Uwe Reineauer of Pink Cream 69, Magnus Karlsson, Michael Klein, Gus G (Ozzy Osbourne, Firewind), Simone Mularoni, and Unisonic guitarists Kai Hansen and Mandy Meyer among the others.
 
Kiske comments: “The production with my buddy Dennis was great, as always, but what I especially like about this album - beside the new microphone I used that Dennis has built me - is the various styles of the songs. It is all a still very AOR-produced album, but we also have progressive or ''wilder'' elements here and there. It was (again) interesting to see how much the songs change until you finally reach the mixing stage.”
 
In a year that will see Michael Kiske rejoin with his old HELLOWEEN bandmates for a unique world tour, PLACE VENDOME’s new album is the icing on the cake of a special and very rewarding period for the German singer.
 
All in all, “Close to the Sun” is probably the most hard rocking release ever from Place Vendome and an absolute monster of an album!
 
“Close to the Sun” tracklisting:
1. Close To The Sun
2. Welcome To The Edge
3. Hereafter
4. Strong
5. Across The Times
6. Riding The Ghost
7. Light Before The Dark
8. Falling Star
9. Breathing
10. Yesterday Is Gone
11. Helen
12. Distant Skies
 
Produced by Dennis Ward
 
- Lead Vocals - Michael Kiske
- Backing vocals - Dennis Ward, Michael Kiske // Additional Choirs on “Strong” by Alessandro Del Vecchio
- Bass - Dennis Ward
- Keyboards - Günter Werno
- Drums – Dirk Bruinenberg
- All Rhythm Guitars by Dennis Ward, except: "Welcome To The Edge", "Across The Times", "Close To The Sun", "Hearafter" – Rhythm Guitars by Uwe Reitenauer
- Guitar solo by Michael Klein on "Yesterday Is Gone", "Distant Skies", "Strong", "Breathing".
- Guitar solo by Uwe Reitenauer on "Close To the Sun"
- Guitar solo by Alfred Koffler on "Welcome To The Edge"
- Guitar solo by Magnus Karlsson on "Falling Star"
- Guitar solo by Gus G on "Light Beyond The Dark"
- Guitar solo by Simone Mularoni on "Hearafter"
- Guitar solo by Mandy Meyer on "Helen"
- Guitar solo by Kai Hansen on "Riding The Ghost" and "Across The Times"

 

Categories: 
 
Mon
07
Dec

KHYMERA - The Grand Design (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
94%
Produced By: 
Dennis Ward
Running Time: 
52
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
AOR
Score: 
94
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
 
Like an overblown Jim Steinman Masterpiece, the new rougher, tougher Khymera explodes with the glorious symphony of 80s keyboards and Euro-AOR guitars that is the feisty rocker Never Give Up On You.
This is a slightly different Khymera than we last heard. Dennis Ward is the only constant through all the 4 releases, joined on this occasion by Eric Ragno on keyboards (an inspired choice); Michael Klein on guitars; Felix Bohnke on drums.
Dennis Ward has the prominent writer’s role here – involved in all twelve, with half co-written with Paul Logue (Eden’s Curse).
 
It’s a slightly heavier Khymera here, and slightly rawer, with Dennis’ vocals definitely turning up the rasp. But other than that, it’s classic Khymera all the way – that is, European, commercial melodic Rock and 80s AOR.
One big chorus after another – all bathed in layers of keyboards, guitars and harmonies.
At this point in time I’m leaning towards this being the best of the Khymera albums to date.
 
The quality of the songs simply demand it.
 
Never Give Up On You is one of the catchiest anthems of the year; Say What You Want is a classic old-meets-new rock ballad; I Believe is fast and free flowing AOR; A Night To Remember is straight out of the White Sister playbook, with 80s synth dominating.
Land Of Golden Dreams has a strong, dramatic Gary Hughes/Ten mood to it; The Grand Design goes into overdrive and Streetlight is one of the more lush, emotional ballads of the year.
Who’s Fooling Who is another highlight – perfect moody, uptempo AOR here.
Closing the album is the big piano ballad Where Is The Love, featuring a very soulful vocal.

 
What can one say? Three very strong AOR releases in one month by the same label – Frontiers. And all pretty much essential.
But if there’s going to be a pecking order, this just comes out on top.
Terrific old school AOR without sounding dated or repetitive.
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Wed
23
Sep

KHYMERA Back With 'The Grand Design' December 4

Artist: 
 
The return of the KHYMERA Project - fully in the hands of Dennis Ward
New album 'The Grand Design' out in December on Frontiers
 
Frontiers Music Srl is excited to announce the release of the fourth album of the KHYMERA project entitled “The Grand Design”, on December 4 in Europe and North America.
 
While the KHYMERA project started out as an alliance between Italian producer/musician, Daniele Liverani and then KANSAS singer Steve Walsh, it actually developed into a regular musical project when Pink Cream 69/Unisonic bassist and producer Dennis Ward came into the picture.
While known as a bass player, Dennis always sings background vocals with his bands, so it was quite interesting for many fans to hear his voice taking the lead on the Khymera albums “A New Promise” and “The Greatest Wonder”. While the project went on hiatus for some time, it was a natural choice now for Dennis to grab the reins and take complete control (both on the songwriting – together with Paul Logue and Michael Klein - and on the production side) of the new album, “The Grand Design”, which comes 7 years after the release of “The Greatest Wonder”.
 
“Everything changed this time!” says Dennis Ward. “First of all there were no songs written by outside writers, just the people involved in the recordings and Paul.  I wrote all the melodies and lyrics this time, something I had not done on the previous KHYMERA albums, but regardless it was a very comfortable working situation.”
 
The band is also totally “new”. Other than Ward, no other old members performed on the album. “I was on tour playing with Unisonic in Europe and Japan” tells Dennis, “we had a double headlining bill with Edguy and I was really impressed by Felix Bohnke’s drumming.  He’s a fan of AOR and was more than happy to participate to the new KHYMERA album, which was great because his style fits so well. Whilst collaborating on one song with Paul Logue (EDEN’S CURSE), he came up with an idea to have a certain type of choir in the song which he worked out with Pete Newdeck.  I was so impressed by the choirs Pete made and how they fit to my voice that I asked him to be Khymera’s “backing vocalist”. His choir ideas greatly impacted the entire outcome of the album.   
 
“A couple songs ideas that Paul Logue presented had beautiful pianos in them,” continues Dennis.  “I too had a piano song and asked Paul who played his piano parts in. He told me of Jim Rykbost, whom I’ve never worked with.  Jim is a down to earth Piano player, not just a keyboarder. With all due respect to many pop/rock keyboarders the true art of playing the Piano seems to get lost these days. Jim had the feel and the mood I was looking for and took the songs to another level. Since I also needed keys I quickly got into contact with Eric Ragno, someone I’ve worked with in the past and has so much experience and class in AOR.  I love his modern approach to building AOR keyboard parts.”
 
Musically, the new album very much follows along the logical progression of the musical path that was started a few years ago. “The Grand Design” is a strong, extremely melodic release, which showcases the fantastic vocal abilities of Dennis and highlights his great skills as a songwriter and producer.
 
“The Grand Design” truly offers one of the most shining examples of what great European Melodic Rock is all about: crystal clear production, soaring vocals, killer musicianship and songwriting that reminds fans of the heydays of the genre when bands like Giuffria, Icon, and Signal ruled the airwaves.
 
“The Grand Design” tracklisting includes: Never Give Up On You; Tell Me Something; Say What You Want; I Believe; A Night To Remember; She’s Got The Love; Land Of Golden Dreams; The Grand Design; Streetlights; Who’s Fooling Who; Finally; Where Is The Love.
 
Enjoy the new album trailer here:
 

 
KHYMERA:
Dennis Ward: bass guitar and lead vocals
Felix Bohnke: drums
Michael Klein: guitars
Eric Ragno: keyboards
Jim Rybkost: piano, additional keyboards
 
Categories: 
Release Year: 
2015
 
Tue
28
Oct

SHAFT OF STEEL Collaborate With Dennis Ward On Debut EP

 
 
 
Shaft of Steel collaborate with Dennis Ward on debut record; Lyric video for ‘Drive’ released
 
Debut EP ‘Shaft of Steel’ OUT NOW.
 
 
British melodic metal / AOR group Shaft of Steel are gearing up to release their debut EP, which features vocal contributions from respected American producer and musician Dennis Ward.
 
Ward, famous for being the bass player in legendary German hard rockers Pink Cream 69 (and, more recently, melodic metal supergroup Unisonic), who also has a lengthy list of production credits under his belt, including Krokus, Sunstorm, Place Vendome, Eden’s Curse, House of Lords, Fergie Fredericksen, Bob Catley, Angra and Harry Hess’s First Signal, has performed backing vocals for all tracks on the debut CD from this new London, UK-based act.
 
Guitarist and founding member Alex Markham states, “It has been an absolute pleasure working with Dennis. I’m a huge fan of everything he’s done and it was like a dream come when I first heard the backing choirs he recorded for our songs. I’m so happy with how this EP has turned out.”
 
The eponymous debut EP has also been mastered by Ward and features cover art by Colombian graphic designer Felipe Machado Franco, who has previously designed artwork for Blind Guardian, Iced Earth, Rhapsody of Fire, Iron Savior and Jorn.
 
“We’ve worked really hard on finishing this EP over the last year and we feel we’ve really upped our game where the songwriting and production is concerned,” says Markham. “Getting Dennis Ward involved was obviously a key turning point for us, but we’ve also matured a lot as songwriters since we started out. We were more like a straight-ahead power metal band in the beginning, but now we’ve incorporated AOR, prog and other hard rock influences and we’ve taken these songs to a whole new level. I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved.”
 
A lyric video for ‘Drive’, the lead track from the EP, has been posted on YouTube and can also be viewed on the band’s official website – www.shaftofsteel.com. The EP will be released as a digital download through iTunes, Amazon and all other major digital music retailers. A CD can be ordered directly from the band’s website.
 
‘Shaft of Steel’ track listing:
 
01. Drive
02. Spinning Vortex of Love
03. Steel Avenger (Stand Your Ground)
04. Release the Lion Within
 
Credits:
 
Robert Fenning – Lead Vocals
Alex Markham – Guitar
Andy Cooper – Bass and Backing Vocals
Adam Carruthers – Guitar
Chris Smurthwaite – Keyboards
Garth Vickers – Drums
 
Additional backing vocals by Dennis Ward.
 
Produced and mixed by Alex Markham.
Mastered by Dennis Ward.
Artwork and sleeve design by Felipe Machado Franco.
 
 
About Shaft of Steel
 
Shaft of Steel are one of the brightest new hopes in melodic hard rock. With a refreshingly unique sound that combines power metal, progressive rock and both classic and contemporary AOR, this London, UK-based act have arrived with a bang.
The group’s sound is best described as a combination of melodic metal guitar riffs, 80s AOR keyboards, soaring, expressive power metal vocals and a thunderous prog rock rhythm section. Shaft of Steel cite their main influences as Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, 80s-era Rush, Queensrÿche, Edguy, Blind Guardian, Whitesnake, Gamma Ray, Def Leppard, Peter Gabriel, Vince DiCola and Toto.
 
More information on Shaft of Steel can be found at:
 
Twitter: @shaftofsteel
Categories: 
 
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