Reviews

  • 2 (1)
  • 7 (1)
  • A (25)
  • B (18)
  • C (25)
  • D (23)
  • E (6)
  • F (10)
  • G (10)
  • H (18)
  • I (6)
  • J (15)
  • K (11)
  • L (15)
  • M (19)
  • N (14)
  • O (8)
  • P (13)
  • Q (2)
  • R (28)
  • S (37)
  • T (44)
  • U (3)
  • V (5)
  • W (18)
  • X (1)
  • Y (5)
  • Z (1)
Fri
07
Jul

DEGREED - Public Address (Album Review, 2023)

information persons: 
content: 
99%
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Score: 
99
Categories: 
Reviews
I continue to struggle with many of the Frontiers formulaic AOR by numbers releases that plague our scene.

Thankfully we still have bands like DEGREED who blow me away each and every time. These guys present everything I love about modern music - pure melodic bliss, with a contemporary edge - so well produced and with every member of the band contributing to the sound. Killer guitars and a thumping rhythm section, plus continued unique use of the keyboards throughout.
And the vocals...just superb.

RUN to get this killer album and check out the ballad of the years 'Don't Be A Stranger'.

 
Tags: 
 
Wed
19
Apr

LA GUNS - Black Diamonds (Album Review, 2023)

information persons: 
content: 
40%
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Score: 
40
Categories: 
Reviews

LA Guns have the be the single most inconsistent band in rock n roll. The same outfit that delivered classics like their debut, Cocked & Loaded, Hollywood Vampires, Vicious Circle and Waking The Dead are also responsible for the turkeys American Hardcore, Shrinking Violet and the very average albums The Missing Piece, Hollywood Forever and The Devil You Know.

Now have another absolute turd on their hands.

When seeking to defend a particular sound or direction, I often hear words like raw, live, 70s infused, punky… I prefer a more direct approach – like unlistenable, demo quality and shite.

It’s not like all the songs suck, I’m really taken with the heavy ballad ‘Diamonds’ for example and there are some memorable hooks elsewhere. But it all just sound terrible. There’s some of the old school punky vibe of the debut and Vicious Circle in some tracks and some good ol’ LA Guns sleaze elsewhere, but the album is totally unlistenable. It sounds like an audience bootleg of a 1975 Sex Pistols show.

The mix is horrid, the drums sound like they were recorded in the same lavatory Tracii Guns recently played a gig from and the vocals are so hollow, its hard to imagine how they could be so badly recorded then mixed into the tracks.

Tracii Guns sounds like a guitar god on several tracks, he’s a class player; and Phil Lewis still has the voice, but hearing both at their best without risking permanent damage to your ear drums is just not worth it. This album cannot be played at loud volume. Or any volume really.

Tags: 
 
Wed
29
Mar

DEMONS DOWN – I Stand (Album Review, 2023)

information persons: 
content: 
85%
Produced By: 
Alessandro Del Vecchio
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Score: 
85
Categories: 
Reviews

After the debacle of the House Of Lords’ infamous ‘Power And The Myth’ album, the last record to feature the main names from the band, it must have taken some luring to get Chuck Wright and Ken Mary back on board for this pseudo-HOL project.

As is the case with just about every project on the Frontiers label, it is another Alessandro Del Vecchio produced and co-written affair. I know there are many avoiding these projects now and some definitely need avoiding. But this is one of the better ones.

Yes, the production and large parts of the songwriting remain formulaic and very familiar, but the performances within certainly raise the bar here. Not to mention there’s some decent songs attached to this project.

A good part of what makes this album good is the work of Ken Mary. The added drum fills, the swagger around the songs and the precise percussion, especially with cymbal work is a pleasure to listen to.

The great Jimi Bell is also a major contributor. His rifftastic work doesn’t often get the credit it deserves and he’s the perfect fit here.

I wouldn’t call it a House Of Lords sounding project – despite the players and name – it remains another example of the label’s fondness for Euro-flavoured hard rock.

Vocalist James Robledo (Sinner's Blood) wouldn’t be my first choice for the kind of project. He reminds me of the ill-fitting Skills frontman Renan Zonta, except more likable. Again, it’s another Frontiers style quirk - that familiar raspy metal voice that they seem to gravitate towards. Guitarist Francesco Savino (False Memories) rounds out the band – House Of European’s is more accurate musical description. Robledo sounds best when he turns on the melody with his uncanny Jorn Lande impersonation at times.

Worth checking out of the description appeals.

And what is it with this ridiculous album credit that keeps popping up on the back covers of Frontiers releases - “A Project By Serafino Perugino”?

Talk about strocking one’s ego. Not even the legendary A&R man John Kalodner: John Kalodner inflicted that upon the artists he worked with.

“A Review By Andrew McNeice”

 
Thu
30
Mar

REVOLUTION SAINTS – Eagle Flight (Album Review, 2023)

information persons: 
content: 
60%
Produced By: 
Alessandro Del Vecchio
Release Date: 
2023
Label: 
Frontiers
Score: 
60
Categories: 
Reviews

By now anyone familiar with Revolution Saints would be aware of the lineup change – Blades and Aldrich out and Pilson and Hoekstra in. Despite that kind of major upheaval, there’s not much difference here. The Deen Castronovo fronted project’s fourth album is more or less exactly the same as the last three. Except the songwriting has grown stale.

The music is still produced and mainly written by Alessandro Del Vecchio again, so you can simply exact more of the same again here. And that’s exactly where the problem is. The songs. They are just a repeat of the material available on the first three albums – right down to style, lyrics and sound.

The songs in particular suffer from a lack of personality. I’ve heard all of this before. Not only the other Rev Saints albums, but on Hardline, Sunstorm, Skills and any number of other ADV penned projects for Frontiers.

While the performances within cannot be faulted – Deen sings with his usual melodic gusto; Jeff Pilson drives the rhythm and Joel Hoekstra shreds like the super-talented madman he is. There are some great solos here especially.

But the songs for the most part go nowhere. The first 3 tracks don’t interest me at all.

‘Kids Will Be Kids’ has a bit more bite and a more memorable hook before the album highlight of the ballad ‘I’ll Cry For You Tonight’ and the darker anthem ‘Crime Of The Century’ add some spark.

After that its back downhill to the usual fare and with it goes my interest in the album overall.

Its simply a superfluous addition to the Revolution Saints catalogue. No growth or development in their sound whatsoever. And the fact two albums were recorded at the same time and a third is planned…leaves one wondering at what point fans will vote with their feet and walk away from this project.

 
Wed
29
Mar

MARTIN MILLER – Maze of My Mind (Album Review, 2023)

information persons: 
content: 
95%
Label: 
Indie
Artist: 
Score: 
95
Categories: 
Reviews

This is an extraordinary debut. Well vocal debut at least. Guitarist and YouTube star Martin Miller released a solo instrumental album a decade ago and has been working on this album in between posting his guitar tuition videos and inspired covers.

At 5 tracks, its more an EP, but at 39 minutes in length, it runs longer than many albums I have.

I was tipped off to this by Now & Then’s Mark Ashton, who dubbed the lead song ‘Something New’ as the love child of Dream Theater and Toto. And that’s exactly what it is. Clocking at over 8 minutes, the song has the moody percussion and keyboard feel of Toto’s Seventh One meets Falling In Between and the progressive chops and time changes Dream Theater built their career on.

A moody shorter second track reinforces the belief that this guy is a real talent. Tracks 3 and 4 leave the Toto influences behind somewhat and dive full on into Dream Theater territory.

The closing track runs over 10 minutes and brings back some of that Toto feel, while totally rocking out and switching tempo several times.

Imagine Toto’s Falling In Between with Joseph Williams singing or Dream Theater with more melodies. The Images And Words classic ‘Another Day’ keeps popping into my mind.

It’s really quite something. The CD is a very limited edition of 300 units, so grab now at: https://martinmillerstore.com

 
Wed
29
Mar

THE FLOOD – Hear Us Out (Album Review, 2023)

information persons: 
content: 
94%
Label: 
Escape Music
Artist: 
Score: 
94
Categories: 
Reviews

Surely this is the heaviest project I have heard Heatland/The Distance vocalist Chris Ousey front to date?

Some furious drumming from Saxon’s Nigel Glockler and the heaviest guitar work I’ve heard from FM’s Jim Kirkpatrick leads the sonic assault. Add in Bass supremo Billy Sheehan, who delivers his trademark sound and keys from former FM man Didge Digital and you get a truly accomplished lineup at work.

With the material all composed together by Chris Ousey and Jim Kirkpatrick, this is a true band project. The only way to have a natural mixing of minds and styles, is to have those involved write their own material and that’s exactly what you get here.

Fans of Ousey’s unique writing style will see the usual rewards come with repeated listens. He’s never been someone to make hooks and melodies obvious or over the top – instead he embeds them within the songs and choruses. And as usual, patience brings them all to the fore.

The opening ‘Dangerous Dawn’ and ‘The Devil He Don’t Care’ showcase the hard rocking approach, while ‘Can I Call It Home’ is a classic Ousey style heartfelt ballad.

The sheer pace of the album is almost unrelenting. It has that The Distance meets Mr. Big vibe, just with added punch.

This is nothing short of essential for fans of Ousey and FM – a glorious slice of high energy British melodic hard rock.

 
Wed
29
Mar

TENORS – Naked Soul (Album Review, 2023)

information persons: 
content: 
40%
Produced By: 
Alessandro Del Vecchio
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Score: 
40
Categories: 
Reviews

I get the idea…in itself it’s not a bad proposition – three of the scene’s leading male vocalists all appearing intertwined through a dozen new melodic rock tunes. But there are issues from the outset here. Bland songs, sterile production, no real plan to work their voices together and an unfortunate lack of emotional urgency that music of this style should carry.

Fronting up for this latest Frontiers ‘project’ is Kent Hilli – one of the most melodic and popular vocalists around right now, who is in real danger of spreading himself way too thin (Perfect Plan, Giant, Solo Album and TBA fourth project pending); Robbie LaBlanc – the powerhouse singer left powerless with a bland mix of songs; and Toby Hitchcock, the star of Pride Of Lions, who is yet to find consistency outside of that vehicle.

The concept has worked brilliantly when a two pronged approach is used such as with Russell Allen and Jorn Lande, but those albums had the bonus of Magnus Karlsson at the helm, providing some killer songs and intuitive mixing of the vocalists.

With Tenors, it is Alessandro Del Vecchio, the Frontiers songwriter/producer/mixer/multi-instrument playing machine, responsible here for writing, production, mixing, mastering, bass, additional keyboards, guitars, and backing vocals.

On top of some completely twee lyrics, none of the voices are given any room to breathe. There’s no comradery or sense of a unified mission between the singers. There’s no natural chemistry – just three voices recorded in different studios, singing songs they didn’t write, mixed together at ADV central.

The mid-album Silent Cries is the only song that stands out as anywhere near memorable.

The idea of three singing together as “tenors” should be to create a wall of vocals, rich harmonies, not just three guys singing one line each at a time. It’s way too disjointed. And to be frank, its just plain dull. Lifeless and repetitive and all too familiar to those following along with the endless Frontiers projects.

 
Wed
29
Mar

SEVENTH CRYSTAL – Wonderland (Album Review, 2023)

information persons: 
content: 
96%
Label: 
Frontiers
Score: 
96
Categories: 
Reviews

The Swedes have done it again! Following on from a classy 2021 debut, Seventh Crystal have completely knocked it out of the park with this one.

Seventh Crystal was put together by singer Kristian Fyhr (Perpetual Etude), a guy who has a sensational, soaring, powerful and melodic voice, is perfect here, but it is the sum of all parts that makes this band great.

The album is dominated by big riffs, in a slightly progressive hard rock style that is driven by guitars but accompanied by some brilliant piano and keyboard parts and a hard-hitting rhythm section.

Best of all though – is the quality of the songs. Every single one is a winner, with a strong melody and chorus hook. Nothing better than prog-rock with choruses! More pleasing is that of the albums 13 songs, there is so much freshness and a dynamic production that really blows the songs up.

Its so great to hear something fresh and engaging and original, while still remaining true to the genre of music it represents.

I can’t recommend this one enough. Pure melodic bliss in a hard rocking package that should appeal to many.

Consider mixing the progressive elements of Threshold with the vocals of HEAT and the keyboards of One Desire. A tasty proposition.

 
Wed
29
Mar

CREYE – III: Weightless (Album Review, 2023)

information persons: 
content: 
95%
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Score: 
95
Categories: 
Reviews

Absolutely superb slice of nu-Scandi melodic rock, bathed in synths and keyboards and occasionally delving into some heavier guitar driven tracks. This I think, could be the band’s best album to date – they have grown with each release so far.

And while the style is now fairly well-tread, with a lot of competition in the marketplace, the class of the songs and sonically tight production propel this to the top of the pile.

The album starts with gusto, but the closing ballad/rocker/anthem triple play is hard to beat.

“We are glorious” sing the guys on the opening number. Why yes indeed you are Creye. It doesn’t take a lot of words to describe what’s going on here, so I’ll recommend you just stop wasting any more time and go check this out.

Welcome to full blown musical maturity and congratulations on what will remain one of the year’s best Scandi-AOR albums.

Tags: 
 
Wed
29
Mar

FIRST LIGHT – Gravity (Album Review, 2023)

information persons: 
content: 
90%
Label: 
Indie
Artist: 
Score: 
90
Categories: 
Reviews

A delightful debut EP of classic AOR here. The British lads FIRST LIGHT is a musical partnership between Dave Hardman (Guitar) and Carl Sharples (Bass), two lifelong friends and lovers of all things Melodic Rock. They are joined on the 7 tracks by New York City based vocalist Warren Passaro, himself of the Journey vein of singers plus FM’s keyboardist Didge Digital and drummer Andy Jakeman.

The production may be an indie – but they’ve done a great job getting it to the level they have and the mix is balanced and even.

Classic 80s influenced AOR and melodic rock is the order of the day, but I’m pleased to say the lads have a sound distinct enough to call their own. The mostly uptempo release features some very fine lead vocals and most importantly, some really catchy songs on hand.

Take ‘Revolution’ for instance – there’s an instant hook if you’ve ever heard one. The opening track ‘Gravity’ is just as good. But all songs have hooks and memorable melodies.

I’m hearing some early House Of Shakira here, plus FM, Journey and the like. Very pleasant listening all-round. Available on digital and a limited-edition CD.

 
Wed
29
Mar

STREETLORE - StreetLore (Album Review, 2023)

information persons: 
content: 
89%
Label: 
Art Of Melody Music
Artist: 
Score: 
89
Categories: 
Reviews

StreetLore comes to you courtesy of Art Of Melody Music & Burning Minds Music Group, who have put together this new Italian melodic rock project featuring a stack of great special guests.

Songs are from keyboardist Lorenzo "Lorerock" Nava, who approached his long-time friend, Burning Minds Music Group's A&R and producer Pierpaolo "Zorro" Monti (Raintimes, Shining Line, Room Experience, I.F.O.R., Charming Grace), with the proposal of some unreleased material he’d written through the years. From there the idea morphed into an all new recording, with guests from all over the melodic rock world.

The vocals are all performed by different people, so there is some variation in style and approach here. Some are more an acquired taste, while others are just stone-cold legends.

Names include Davide "Dave Rox" Barbieri, Satin, Terry Brock, Jesús Espín, Stefano Lionetti, Sue Willetts and Dion Bayman.

So the names behind this are quality, the vocalists are quality – what about the production and songs? I’m happy to report both are quality also. It is a big sounding production for a smaller label, plus I must single out the awesome guitar playing and keyboard sound throughout the record.

Classic and ‘typical’ European AOR/melodic rock, with an uptempo feel, with some memorable songs making the album a worthy addition to collections.

 
Wed
29
Mar

THIS HOUSE WE BUILT – This House We Built (Album Review, 2023)

information persons: 
content: 
89%
Label: 
Indie
Score: 
89
Categories: 
Reviews

This English melodic rock outfit sound anything but. At times they have that polished American modern rock sound of someone like Nickelback (just with better vocals) and when they really turn on the melodic charm and chorus harmonies, I can hear big Harem Scarem influences and harmonies going on.

Production for an indie release is of the highest quality and while the band skip between harder and more melodic styles, the songwriting holds up and sees this as one very fine debut album indeed.

I personally would eat up their Harem style modern AOR even more if it filled the whole album, but others might prefer the varied approach.

Nickleback meets Harem Scarem with a touch of Bon Jovi is about the closest I can come to describing the sound here.

 
Wed
29
Mar

KHYMERA – Hold Your Fire (Album Review, 2023)

information persons: 
content: 
88%
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Score: 
88
Categories: 
Reviews

Despite comprising of a collection of songs co-written by Mr. Everywhere Alessandro Del Vecchio, Dennis Ward remains in control of production and is the other writer, so this Khymera album, while featuring a different lineup, does adhere to the sound made popular with fans since Dennis took over with the second album from this franchise. His vocals remain raspily-warm as always and the songs feature some memorable melodies and that same mid-tempo sweet AOR sound.

Still not a rival the first two glorious Ward fronted albums, but a nice addition to the Khymera story.

 
Wed
29
Mar

WIG WAM - Out Of The Dark (Album Review, 2023)

information persons: 
content: 
90%
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Score: 
90
Categories: 
Reviews

The guys are back and rocking at full tilt once again. After the success of HBO’s Peacemaker TV show using ‘Do Ya Wanna Taste It’ as its stunning intro, I thought the guys might turn back the clock a little and head back into the glam-anthem territory of their earlier albums.

But no, here they are as heavy as ever, picking up where the last album Never Say Die left off – that is, heavier straight-ahead hard rock, albeit with that quirky Wig Wam delivery. That’s not a complaint, its just painting the accurate musical picture that is this album.

There are glammy moments of course, the hands in the air anthemic ‘Forevermore’ is classic Wig Wam and the Do Ya soundalike ‘High & Dry’. The belter ‘Bad Luck Chuck’ is as heavy as the band has been, as is the thunderous riffing on ‘Uppercut Shazam’.

Its Wig Wam. Its needed.

Tags: 
 
Wed
29
Mar

TEN – Something Wicked This Way Comes (Album Review, 2023)

information persons: 
content: 
93%
Produced By: 
Gary Hughes
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Score: 
93
Categories: 
Reviews

This is Gary Hughes’ sixteenth album under the Ten moniker. 16! I’ve been a fan since the debut, having first heard it when Now & Then’s Mark Ashton sent me an advance to review in the early days of this site. Over the years members have come and gone, with Gary the one constant, and the sound has varied also – moving from melodic rock/AOR through to hard rock and even melodic metal on occasion.

This time it’s a bit of everything – there’s some heavier numbers, but also a ton of memorable AOR friendly songs – the most of any Ten album in the last several years. And I’m happy to report that the quality of these songs is as good as ever. I love what I’m hearing and this album stands out as one of the band’s better ones in a long rich history of great music. Nice to hear Gary singing in that warm AOR tone so familiar with the debut back in 1996.

Essential for Ten fans and well worthy for recent era fence sitters.

 
Sat
11
Mar

TURKISH DELIGHT - Volume One (Album Review, 2022)

information persons: 
content: 
93%
Score: 
93
Categories: 
Reviews

Turkish Delight is an all-star project, the culmination of multiple years’ worth of work and a tribute to the life long dedication and passion of Escape Music’s boss Khalil Turk.

To celebrate his time in this crazy business, the respected label owner and A&R man has put a great deal of his own money into assembling a cast of musicians he admires and has worked with over the years.

The hardest thing to do in these circumstances is to remotely record 30+ musicians, multiple players and vocalists for each song in some cases and still make a record sound cohesive and of the one body of work.

Mick Devine, Steve Morris, Steve Overland, Lee Small and Steve Newman are responsible for the bulk of songwriting duties, while the cast of musicians has to be read to be believed.

On vocals alone you have Jeff Scott Soto, Robin McAuley, Billy Greer, Chris Ousey, Mick Devine, James Christian, Jerome Mazza, Lee Small, Robin Beck, Tony Harnell and more.

Joining them are Mike Slamer, Jeff Pilson, Billy Sheehan, Gary Pihl, Vince DiCola, Alessandro Del Vecchio, Ricky Phillips, Josh Devine, Marco Mendoza, Jim Kirkpatrick, Chris Childs, Steve Mann, Mark Stanway and so many more.

What you’re getting here is a superbly crafted ‘various artists’ melodic rock compilation, featuring the artists involved doing just what you want them to be doing – each one delivering a fan favourite performance. A retro tribute if you will but sounding ever fresh thanks to the efforts put into making this record sound as good as it does.

 
Tue
09
Mar

HOUSE OF SHAKIRA – On The Verge (1998)

Score: 
92
Categories: 
Reviews
 

House Of Shakira provided one of the best and most promising debut album’s in many years with their album ‘Lint’. It’s been a couple of years down the road and finally we have the new album ‘On The Verge’. The guys have formed their own distinct sound and with heavy influences from Journey, Styx and a little Night Ranger created a great first album.

 
Sat
11
Mar

THRESHOLD - Dividing Lines (Album Review, 2022)

Score: 
95
Categories: 
Reviews

How do you follow up a career defining masterpiece, that itself was an album that followed any number of critically acclaimed records before that?

Take your time…

So Threshold did just that. Some five years since the perfect ‘Legend Of The Shires’, the band resists the temptation to record a sequel to that epic record by just doing what they do best – delivering another brilliant progressive hard rock record filled with hard hitting, memorable songs.

Threshold have always had their sound and this album continues to deliver exactly what fans would expect, but with the usual subtle changes that help each album the band delivers, carry its own identity.

This time around the mood is a little darker, the songs a little heavier and the harmonies buried a little deeper into the songs. As is always required, multiple listens over several days is needed to fully appreciate any new work from Threshold and this album reveals itself beautifully.

The formula of four heavy rockers and a mid-album epic is repeated in the second half of the album, ending with the second epic Defence Condition.

I think the intensity drops off over the last couple of tracks before the closer, but there’s no filler here at all.

The first half of the album is near perfect in anyone’s language, the overall result will satisfy all Threshold fans. Its another brilliant record. Awesome, but not quite another masterpiece.

 
Sat
11
Mar

GABRIELLE DE VAL - Kiss In A Dragon Night (Album Review, 2023)

Score: 
92
Categories: 
Reviews

Gabrielle De Val is a Spanish Singer, Songwriter and Voice-Over Actress, known for her role in The Val and most recently guesting on Bruce Mee’s concept album Circle Of Friends.

'Kiss in a Dragon Night', is Gabrielle's first solo album, organised and arranged by Bruce Mee. Together with producer Khalil Turk (Escape Music), he shaped the idea and created an album involving vocalists such as Steve Overland (FM), Mick Devine (Seven), Robin McAuley (MSG), Mark Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen) and Terry Brock (Strangeways) as well as musicians such as Gary Pihl (Boston), Eric Ragno (Joe Lynn Turner), Johan Kullberg (HammerFall) and Fredrik Folkare (Nordic Union).

And what a fine album it is too. Fresh, punchy production and a selection of memorable songs showcase Gabrielle’s powerfyul, yet smooth vocals, a perfect fit for melodic rock.

Her duet ballad with Robin McAuley is pure melodic bliss, the vocals entwining effortlessly.

Otherhighlights include the rocked up Mike Oldfield classic Moonlight Shadow; the upbeat opener Take On The World, with a classic AOR chorus; Pay For the Lonely Nights is classic 80s AOR while Candle In The Window is the Randall’s classic amped up to briliant effect.

Fight For Love (with Mick Devine) is another great duet, this time a faster paced anthem. And any song featuring Terry Brock is already a winner for me. Stayin‘ Alive doesn’t disappoint. No, it isn’t that song – it’s the classic Magnum song done perfectly.

There are no fillers to point out – just an album chock full of new songs and fresh takes, produced and mixed beautifully. For anyone that enjoyed the Circle Of Friends release, this is an absolute no brainers.

Fans of female fronted melodic rock and 80s style anthems with a modern touch will also appreciate.

 
Wed
04
Aug

HEAVEN & EARTH - V (2021)

Score: 
75
Categories: 
Reviews

It could be argued that I have been Heaven & Earth and Stuart Smith’s biggest advocate since the first Heaven & Earth album back in 1998. Stuart told me himself that my review of that outstanding debut put the band on the map back when the internet was just going mainstream and the album itself was only available in South Korea.

I’ve championed the band at every turn and consider the last 2 albums with Joe Retta on vocals, two of the finest sounding classic rock albums of our time.

The line-up for H&E has always been fluid, but on album number 5, things have changed again, with the label gone, Retta gone and in fact, everyone else gone. Stu Smith remains as does his penchant for delivering classic Deep Purple/Rainbow style classic hard rock.

Style wise this isn’t far from what H&E have always stood for and these songs are once again, pretty catchy and feature some sublime guitar playing.

Unfortunately, there are issues the band hasn’t faced before that diminish the end product. First – the production is muddy and at times hard to listen to, with the crisp big dollar sound of the last records missing. The overall sound isn’t even close to the band’s normal high standard.

Secondly - new vocalist Gianluca Pertralia is a major step down from Retta and past vocal guests such as Kelly Hansen, Richie Sambora, Joe Lynn Turner and Glenn Hughes.

I find his voice irritating and off-putting.


The vocals, along with the weak production, put a major dent in the band’s otherwise impeccable catalogue. The songs and the guitar theatrics are still here, but overall, a disappointing release that won’t be played half as much as previous albums.

 
Wed
19
Aug

MICHAEL GRANT & THE ASSASSINS - Always The Villain (2020)

Score: 
79
Categories: 
Reviews

Who? The talent behind the great Endeverafter, that’s who. This one-man band album (aside from some drum tracks) is a diverse mix of modern rock, glam, punk/pop, hard rock and even some 80s vibes.

It is a bit all over the place, and it doesn’t match the sonic or musical intensity of his previous band, but it does offer some interesting musical left turns and some decent riff driven harmonies.

There are a few really good moody rockers on here with a depth of melody not always heard in this style.

Production is a bit raw and the vocals aren’t standard fare, but overall I like it.

 
Wed
28
Oct

DENNIS DE YOUNG - 26 East Volume 1 (2020)

Score: 
94
Categories: 
Reviews

Dennis De Young and Jim Peterik. One of the most brazenly honest and funny guys, who just happens to have a golden voice, together with one of the most earnest and likeable guys on this planet, who also happens to be one of rock’s greatest songwriters.

Together with the Peterik production infrastructure, the quality of this release was never in doubt right?

The only downside is there are only 9 full length songs here, with a decision made to split the productive writing and recording sessions into 2 albums. I hope the second volume maintains the high standard set here.

9 songs mean there isn’t a minute to waste. DDY brings the best of his soaring pomp Styx-like magic and JP brings his matching theatrical flair and AOR heart, ensuring that the duo achieve their aim.


There are rockers, there’s pomp, there’s a couple of spectacular ballads. Everything I was hoping of this union is right here. Proof that partnerships can’t be forced, they have to happen naturally.

 
Wed
19
Aug

ALLEN/OLZON - World's Apart (2020)

Score: 
92
Categories: 
Reviews

The great vocalist Russell Allen and mega-guitar god Magnus Karlsson are back - joined not by Jorn Lande on this occasion - but rather Annette Olzon (Alyson Avenue, ex-Nightwish).

The vocals may be shared with a female voice for the first time, but the music is everything you’ve come to love from Karlsson. Big, bombastic and brilliantly produced and mixed.

The songs are superb, the vocals a delight. More please!

 
Thu
29
Oct

JADED HEART - Stand Your Ground (2020)

Score: 
35
Categories: 
Reviews

I really miss the old Jaded Heart. The metal band that has evolved since Michael Bormann left now has next to nothing to offer old fans. This is without doubt their heaviest album to date and without doubt their least melodic, least likable and least memorable.

Its just bombastic riff after riff with a double kickdrum to accompany.

The band seem to have given up any pretence of songwriting, with nothing here standing out at all on first listen. Repeated attempts didn’t make any gains.

I thought Johan Fahlberg was a strong metal vocalist, but his tone here is horrible – more screaming than signing and there is no hint of melody in his singing.

The album’s promo sheet reads “Jaded Heart has always been a melodic band that writes songs with huge sing-along choruses and this album offers many of those!” Give me a break!!!


There is nothing here whatsoever to sing along with. It’s not until track 8, Embrace A Demon, that I can even hear a proper chorus.

Mixed and mastered by Erik Martensson, there is nothing to complain about with the sound, just the style, the songs and the singing. Worst Jaded Heart album ever. Change the name or re-think what you’re doing guys.

 
Wed
19
Aug

HAREM SCAREM - Change The World (2020)

Score: 
100
Categories: 
Reviews

In my reviews-absence there has been some superb releases, one of which is the mighty Harem Scarem and their 15th studio release (WTF!) Change The World.

Once again, I was honoured to work with the guys sequencing the album and think it has a pretty tasty flow. As I’ve been with the band since the very week of their debut album, its not hard to appreciate my love for these guys and how they are quite possibly, the most consistent band of the last 30 years.

This album is no exception. It’s a flip of the coin as to whether I prefer this to the “perfect” predecessor, the acclaimed ‘United’ release. I think I will have to make this another perfect album as there are no obvious flaws – it sounds a million bucks, is drenched in harmonies and mighty choruses and the three-play of Aftershock, Searching For Meaning and The Death Of Me is about as good as it gets anywhere, from anyone.

This is what melodic rock is all about.

 

Pages