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Mon
25
Jul

ICONIC - Second Skin (Album Review, 2022)

Score: 
90
Categories: 
Reviews

Frontiers patented Random Band Generator has conjured up its latest offering – a more inspired and somewhat natural ensemble this time around. Nathan James – Vocals (Inglorious) Michael Sweet - Guitars, Vocals (Stryper and a dozen other projects); Joel Hoekstra – Guitars (Whitesnake); Marco Mendoza – Bass (everyone) and the great Snake himself Tommy Aldridge – Drums; plus of course, the illustrious writer, producer, mixer and keyboardist Alessandro Del Vecchio.

Quite a lineup there and given the brief to make a Whitesnake hard rock record, the guys have largely nailed that mission. Thankfully Nathan James gets to control the mike for most of the record and is given the best set of songs to sing here since the debut Inglorious record. Michael Sweet pops up on a couple of songs, but largely sticks to backing vocals and guitar.

While this is no Whitesnake clone, the influences and style are unmistakable. And the bigger than normal sounding production helps bring that big Snake sound to bare.

Credit for the production goes to Sweet & Alessandro, who also delivers some tasty Jon Lord inspired organ sounds to accompany his keyboards and Joel Hoekstra delivers some flashy riffing and soloing as you would expect from the current Whitesnake guitarist.

I often criticise the Frontiers productions drum sounds but having Tommy Aldridge on hand all but ensures a killer performance and the quality production gives him the impact needed.

11 tracks and nearly 50 minutes is about as packed as you could want an album like this to be. Any longer and it might have started to drag.

Good songs, big sound with a Euro-American commercial hard rock style that others have tried to emulate, but not half as well as these guys have. As egotistic as the name might be, it’s a very strong debut. I imagine there are already plans for a sequel.

 
Fri
01
Apr

INNERWISH - Innerwish (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
88%
Produced By: 
Fredrik Nordström and Henrik Udd
Running Time: 
68
Release Date: 
2016
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
Melodic Metal
Label: 
Ulterium
Artist: 
Score: 
88
Release Year: 
2015
Categories: 
Reviews
 
Greek metallers InnerWish have produced this, their 5th album, and first with a new vocalist George Eikosipentakis. He’s the band’s third frontman and I think they’d be wise to hang on to this one – he’s a keeper.
 
The most immediate thing about the self-titled InnerWish album is the huge sound. Mosnter production and clear mix and that traditional European melodic metal sound – double kick drums, frantic at times pacing and layers of guitars and riffs.
 
The next most noticeable attribute of this album is the new boy. He sings his ass off here. George has a massive case of the Jorn Lande’s, which is not a bad thing as far as I’m concerned.
He’s delivery isn’t quite the same and his voice somewhat deeper than Jorn, but the style and the mannerisms and the raspy grasp of higher notes and powerhouse screams is total Jorn.
 
Highlights include the riff powered Roll The Dice, with a big Masterplan style chorus; the faster, more menacing Broken; the Impellitteri styled Machines Of Fear; the acoustic intro’d mini-epic Needles In My Mind and the even longer Rain Of A Thousand Years.
Only the acoustic Cross The Line gives off any hint of a song of non-metal origins. It’s a really solid ballad.
And the Iron Maiden themed Tame The Seven Seas closes the album with a flourish.

This is the type of album that fans of Impellitteri, Masterplan and Iron Maiden to name a few will enjoy. Good strong songs, some surprising chorus hooks in places and layers of harmonies when needed. An album that puts this band on the map in my opinion. Metal heads should investigate.
 

 

 
Thu
18
Feb

INGLORIOUS - Inglorious (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
90%
Produced By: 
Inglorious
Running Time: 
50
Release Date: 
2016
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Hard Rock
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Score: 
90
Release Year: 
2015
Friday, February 19, 2016
Categories: 
Reviews
 
This British band are hailed as the heirs to the classic rock throne, as currently held by the likes of Deep Purple, Whitesnake and Rainbow.
Fronted by one of the biggest voices in rock today, Nathan James dominates this recoding with some truly remarkable vocal acrobatics. From a deep booming baritone to high pitch wailing and everything in between, he is all over this material like few others I can recall in recent times.
 
The style of James can be something that requires adjusting to – when you have such a unique voice, there will be some that don’t connect – but then he so suits the material here it doesn’t take long to warm up to him. Think Richie Kotzen meets David Coverdale.
 
But he isn’t the lone star here – the performances within this album from the band are quite special. There’s a certain organic energy that radiates from this record, yet at the same time, the production seems quite polished.
The twin guitar attack is relentless and the rhythm section delivers the thunder to the lightning of James’ dominant vocals.
 
I love the production on this album. It’s sharp, it’s crisp, but it is also warm and inviting. A lot of time and went into this record and it shows.
What I struggled with to start with was the pacing of the album (yes, the tempo strikes again) and that issue remains as the only hesitation here.
While this album has a penchant for slower songs, most of them work. I’d prefer a couple more ‘up’ tunes, but the quality of the performances and the songs themselves make up for this and dare I say that those that have an ear for the slow and moody will absolutely love what’s on offer here.
 
After a build-up that would rival Rainbow and Deep Purple for mood and anticipation, Until I Die storms to life. It’s a mid-tempo hard hitting rocker with a terrific Zeppelinesque groove.
Breakaway is a storming fast paced Rainbow/Purple style rocker with organ and screaming vocals – everything you could ask for.
High Flying Gypsy turns the tempo back a notch, but is driven by a big riff and some nice soloing. The vocals wail of course.
Holy Water is utterly brilliant. The slow tempo suits the mood and all I can hear is classic Deep Purple or Coverdale here. It’s just immense. James electrifies with a really soulful vocal. It’s very Richie Kotzen and sounds like it could come from any of his solo albums. It’s a classic 70s swagger-n-blues tune. Very cool and the chorus is simple, but high impact.
 
Warning takes a while to kick into high gear, but once rolling, delivers a wailing tempo boost when needed. The twin guitar attack delivers riffs in both ears while the production is just perfect and James’ vocals are brilliant.
Bleed For You is the third slowish tune in a row, which would normally test my patience, but its simply too good a song to worry. It’s a heavy ballad of sorts, the vocals are once again quite extraordinary.
Girl Got A Gun is the same slow pace again, perhaps this is one slow track too many, but the chorus comes to life and it’s still a very good song.
You're Mine stays within the album’s overall mid-pace tempo. This is a bit of Zeppelinesque number. It’s a decent hard rocker with more Kotzen familiarities with the vocals and some touches of Coverdale too.
 
Inglorious is a heavy, slow rocker with another Zeppelin influenced 70s riff and some variety within the song, but overall it’s slow once again and the album could really use a lift in tempo.
Wake isn’t it. The song is an acoustic ballad with a lot of class though, a really big soulful vocal again from James.
Unaware is a heavy but melodic heavy groove that is for me probably missing a stronger chorus.

The first half of the album is flawless as far as I can see and the second half still sounds amazing, but suffers from lack of pace and a couple of songs that match the outstanding quality within the first half.
It all comes down to the tempo – only 1 or 2 really fired up, fast paced tracks. More would have been preferred, but at least the songs are consistently good.
 
The album pays homage to the artists mentioned as influences and Nathan James is a monster vocalist with a strong Richie Kotzen / David Coverdale vibe. The rest of the band are no slouches either – dynamic performances all-round and a very convincing debut.
 

 

 
Fri
24
Apr

IMPELLITTERI - Venom (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
86%
section name: 
BEST TRACKS
content: 
Produced By: 
Impellitteri
Running Time: 
40
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Metal
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Score: 
86
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Categories: 
Reviews
 
Chris Impellitteri has never been one to steer off course, so the contents of this disc should come as no surprise to fans, or to anyone for that matter.
Impellitteri is the Axel Rudi Pell of the shred metal world. Predictable but very talented, largely consistent and always enjoyable. Even better now that Rob Rock has rejoined for the last couple of albums. His voice and Chris’ manic riff-n-shred guitar playing go hand in and for me.
The only question is the songs – what kind of appeal will they have and what hold will they have over the listener.
The album starts with a flurry of screaming guitars, Rob Rock’s screaming voice and drummer Jon Dette hell bent on doing himself an injury; such is the tempo of the double kick drums.
In fact, his performance and the overall drum sound is a big plus on this album. James Pulli on bass ensures the speakers come within an inch of their life from the pounding they receive.
 
There’s 12 tracks here, but the album is still over faster than one of Chris’ solos. 40 minutes of music with only one song reaching the 4 minute mark, means there is no time for filler, no time for padding – just shredding, screaming and of course solos everywhere.
For me this is one of Impellitteri’s strongest albums. My favourite, the immense Answer To The Master will likely never be beaten, but this is solid for a veteran artist that continues to make new music.
 
The sound is immaculate and the songs, while similar in pace and tempo are memorable.
The particular standouts for me this time around is the opening Venom, the big groove of We Own The Night, the aggressive harmony backed Nightmare and the pounding intensity of Face The Enemy.
The rest – all good, if not similar, but that’s what we love about Chris.
 

No hesitation in recommending this to fans of Impellitteri and even casual fans if you are looking for some well-produced, hard hitting melodic metal.

 

 
Wed
11
Mar

ISSA - Crossfire (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
93%
section name: 
BEST TRACKS
Produced By: 
John Greatwood and James Martin
Running Time: 
46
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
AOR
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Score: 
93
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Categories: 
Reviews
 
Norweigan-turned-Brit, Issa returns with her fourth solo album; following up the patchy Can’t Stop, which was comprised of classic (and obscure) AOR covers.
I’ve found Issa a bit hit and miss after her memorable 2010 debut. I’ve found the balance of image over style a little too much in favor of the less important image at times, but all is forgiven with Crossfire. Despite the glammed up image again front and center, this time the style is matched with substance in the form of 11 very appealing songs. This album might just be her best effort yet.
Credit must go to the new lineup used, bringing in Vega’s James Martin – Keyboards and Tom Martin - bass and Guitars; plus drummer Michael Cruise has given the album more of a band feel - and a good band at that.
 
The extended time taken to gather the best set of songs also pays off, showcased immediately with the glorious title track opener Crossfire, which I probably will rate as my favourite Issa track to date.
New Horizon offers something a little smoother and moodier before the monster ballad Raintown blows us away.
Steve Overland guests on the song as a duet – but it is his opening lines that simply stun. His vocal gift is extraordinary. Issa joins in to deliver a passionate and powerful co-lead.
Long Time Coming is one of the more urgent tracks on offer; Fight Fire With Rain is a very catchy straight ahead AOR hit and Heartbeat cranks the tempo and throws in a nice anthemic catchy hook.
The album continues without offering filler, Red Lights and Only You delivering the best chorus hooks of the last section of the album.
 

Fans of female fronted melodic rock and straight forward classic AOR with a Scandi/British twist should fall over themselves to get a hold of this.
It’s one of my favourite female lead albums in recent years.
 
Tags: 
 
Fri
21
Nov

IN FAITH - There's A Storm Coming (Review)

information persons: 
section name: 
SCORE
content: 

 

90%
Produced By: 
Pete Newdeck & Tony Marshall
Running Time: 
47
Release Date: 
2014
Released: 
UK
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock
Label: 
Rocktopia Records
Artist: 
Score: 
90
Friday, November 21, 2014
Categories: 
Reviews
 
Now where did these guys come from? Dropping without a lot of warning comes the debut album from new UK outfit In Faith – featuring the talents of vocalist Pete Godfrey and guitarist Tony Marshall along with drummer Pete Newdeck.
The debut was recorded over the space of a year and was just released via Rocktopia Records.
This is an impressive slice of classic British AOR, following in the traditions of Dare, Ten and Newman.
 
 
It has a distinct 80s feel, without being dated and delivers a mix of feel good rockers, heartfelt ballads and those all-important AOR anthems.
The first thing I thought when listening to this album is that it sounded like a lost Harem Scarem album. Pete Godfrey has a huge vocal resemblance to Harry Hess and what I’m hearing here is an album that I think would fit perfectly between the debut Harem Scarem album and the classic follow-up Mood Swings.
In the same way as the debut Harem album saw a band finding their direction and musical path, so too are In Faith finding theirs and I can only imagine that their second album will be something potentially out of this world.
 
But back in the present, there is already something very special right here.
There are some straight forward melodic rockers in the form of the opener Radio and Church Of Rock N Roll, plus All Or Nothing and In Flames.
There are a couple of outstanding ballads with the heartbreaking Where I Want To Be leading the pack and the stripped back Leave Me Now.
Then there’s those anthems! Does It Feel Like Love is a hit single in another decade; Addicted is Harem Scarem at their old-school best and If That What Love Means is right up there for Song Of The Year – just perfect melodic goodness.
 

If you like your British melodic rock, have a soft spot for the Harem Scarem debut and like your music to represent a bygone era, then In Faith have delivered a very impressive debut that should be right up there on end of year best of lists. Can’t wait for more!