HOT NEW REVIEWS

UPDATED ON AUGUST 1 - 2003

FEED THE RHINO ‘I LIKE IT’
(INDEPENDENT RECORDS)


Out of New York comes FEED THE RHINO, a band clearly inspired by fun 80s Classic Melodic Hardrock. One of the members was involved with LOUD AND CLEAR, the excellent melodic rockband that released 2 albums so far, and somehow FEED THE RHINO isn’t too far away from LOUD AND CLEAR, with the difference that this act is a bit groovier, rockier and every now and then more modern sounding than LOUD AND CLEAR. Nevertheless, the album ‘I like it’ is a great Melodic (Hard) Rockalbum in the style of TESLA, BATON ROUGE, LILLIAN AXE, XYZ, HARDLINE... 11 tracks are included on the CD, and it all sounds very professional, with a strong crystal clear production. The best songs can be found in the shape of “Getting it” (semi melodic hardrock), “Healing” (beautiful melodic rockballad, late 80s Power Ballad sound here!), “Breaking down the walls” (classy 80s Californian fun uptempo melodic rocker like QUEENSRYCHE meets VAN HALEN!) and “Dreamer” (classy Melodic Rock).

What sets this band apart from the other American bands is their excellent lead singer Joe Cutrera, who sings with a lot of passion and actually sings like the Rock and Hardrocksingers sang back in the
80s in the USA, sing by heart with a lot of emotional vocals (this can best be heard on the JOURNEYish ballads “Healing” and “Everyone knows”), I just wish this way of singing would return in the US Melodic Rockscene, because nowadays only the European singers give me that same feeling as I get when I hear Joe singing on this FEED THE RHINO record. Concluded, this is a recommended Melodic Hardrockalbum with very good vocals, more info at:
http://www.ftrmusic.com and e-mail them at: info@ftrmusic.com

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

CASUAL SILENCE ‘ONCE IN A BLUE MOON’
(RED SEA RECORDS)


It took some time, but finally the Dutch Neo-Prog band CASUAL SILENCE has released it’s new CD, their 3rd record so far. In the past they were slightly more Symphonic AOR based a la MAGNUM/ASIA, but on this new record it’s pure Neo-Progressive Rock of the highest level. You can compare the band to RICOCHER, PALLAS, PENDRAGON, JADIS, IQ etc. The 9 songs on the band’s new CD ‘Once in a blue moon’ are very impressive, and also the production is fantastic, as well as the artwork and liner notes in the CD booklet, it all looks very professional. Highlights on the album are “Foolish plane” (very good Progressive Rock), “Dreampath” (nice duets between the 3 lead singers! Great uptempo Neo-Classical Progressive Metal), “Lambrusco evening” (strong Prog. Metal), “Moon” (lovely semi-ballad) and closing track “Casual silence” (10 minutes counting epic Prog. Rock). Concluded, this new CD of CASUAL SILENCE should gain them a lot of interest from all media all over the world, because nobody can deny the high quality of Progressive Rock/Metal established on ‘Once in
a blue moon’. Check out their site at:
http://www.casualsilence.nl

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

ALIEN FORCE ‘PAIN AND PLEASURE’ (KARTHAGO RECORDS)

We’re heading for the obscurity here with ALIEN FORCE, a Dannish Metalband with two releases on their mark. In 1985 they released ‘Hell and high water’, and one year later it was time for ‘Pain and pleasure’. This band was playing pure European Metal with a strong N.W.O.B.H.M. and German Metal approach, somewhere between MAD MAX, early 80s TYGERS OF PAN TANG and PRETTY MAIDS. Their sound was very powerful, with a good lead singer upfront, and a big guitar wall backing it up, making this a true winner for fans of underground 80s Euro Metal. Now happily KARTHAGO RECORDS has released both discs on CDs, and I am happy to review their 2nd release ‘Pain and pleasure’. Besides the original 8 tracks, this re-issue also contains 3 Bonustracks. There’s basically for everyone something on this record, from fast Melodic Metal pieces like Alien” and the semi-ballad “Don’t touch the fire” (starts as balla,d but after 4 minutes it changes into a Powerful Metal tune), midtempo melodic heavy rockers “The hunter’s thrill” and “Miracle” (like HEAVY PETTIN’ meets early DEF LEPPARD) to even commercial (very strong) Melodic Hardrock like on the fantastic “In the city” (best song of the CD, like Y & T). This album has also got a huge sound, so nothing sounds dated here, and if you like bands such as MAD MAX, HEAVY PETTIN’, TYGERS OF PAN TANG, PRETTY MAIDS, you will love this record definitely! More info at:
http://www.karthagorecords.de

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

BLACK FATE ‘COMMANDER OF FATE’ (KARTHAGO RECORDS)

More obscurity from the 80s with the German band BLACK FATE, whom released an LP in 1986 and then dissappeared. The album became a wanted piece, with people paying 200 US Dollars for an original copy. Now, 17 years later the album is re-issued onto CD by KHARTAGO RECORDS, a new label that already released more of such rarities on CD the past 2 years. BLACK FATE is a band that featured a very good lead singer, Michael Hutteman, and the 8 songs included on their album are very impressive even nowadays. They played a mix of Euro, US and British Melodic Metal, ending up sounding like a mix between ANGEL WITCH, MAD MAX and GRIM REAPER. The first song “Heaven can wait” is a deadringer for fans of classy 80s US Power Metal, as this song sounds like a mix between GRIM REAPER (yeah, they were British!) and early TWISTED SISTER (their debut and ‘Under the blade’ period!). Next track “Champagne” is a slight let-down, as this was a standard German metal song (a la ACCEPT), but happily the only weaker song, because the best songs were up next. These are the fantastic Melodic Metal tunes “Child of hell” and “Wild in the streets”, both remembering me of STORMWITCH in their early days, with also strong similarities to MAD MAX.

The classy 80s Melodic Heavy Rock/Metal sound continues on songs like”Warchild” (catchy!) and “Frozen heart” (strong semi-ballad, last minute uptempo rocker). Although only 42 seconds, the “Prelude” is a very good SCORPIONS orientated introduction to the last original album song “Midnight”, a great midtempo melodic heavy rocker with strong hooks and a melodic chorus, kinda like MAD MAX and STORMWITCH. Besides the 8 original tracks, we can also listen to 2 Bonustracks, “Hello America” and “Hot and pretty”. As the title predicts, these were more American orientated, but nevertheless great uptempo Melodic Hardrocksongs with a very strong beat on “Hello America”. Without a doubt, this album is a must if you want to learn how 80s Melodic Metal sounded at it’s best! More info at: http://www.karthagorecords.de

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

MIRAGE ‘...AND THE EARTH SHALL CRUMBLE’ (KARTHAGO RECORDS)

KHARTAGO RECORDS has established themselves as a real quality re-issue label, because all their releases are rarities from great 80s Melodic Heavy Rock/Metal albums, and with interesting liner notes and lyrics in the CD booklets. Besides, also the material has a great sound, so nothing dusty dated sounding stuff. Also the re-issue of MIRAGE, a Dannish band that released only 1 LP that has it’s re-issue on KHARTAGO RECORDS now, along with songs from their unreleased 2nd LP. The music is very impressive catchy uptempo Melodic Heavy Rock. Opener “Out there (Survivors)” is a very melodic catchy upbeat melodic rocker that sounds like a heavier version of PRISM mixed with Classy British Melodic Rock, and a chorus that you can sing-a-long with after hearing it just once. The following track “So many years ago” starts calm, with a big Church-Organ/Hammond kinda sound (a la HEEP), but develops into another great uptempo Melodic Heavy Rocker. These first 2 songs are very melodic and remind me a lot of Classy British Melodic Rock from the mid 80s, like RAGE, TOBRUK, TORINO, EXPORT, NIGHTWING...

However, the song “Lords in Space and Time” reveals a pure Metalband, with high pitched vocals included, so this is really a change in style, as it sounds like KING DIAMOND meets URIAH HEEP! Also the following track “Apostle of Hell” is pure 80s Heavy Metal, with the ‘666’ numbers as trade mark, this is very much like BLACK SABBATH, so even a bit Doom here! “Heading for the sun” is then again a fantastic midtempo Melodic Rocker with a very strong chorus. “Killer dwarf shorty” is slow, has funny lyrics, but has a nice Melodic sound. “Hellbound” follows and is a very good uptempo Melodic Metal piece in pure 80s style, with a HEEPish chorus. Last track of the original LP release is “Punisher”, a . The addition of 8 bonustracks is very interesting, because 4 of them were older songs from the time before the LP release, while the last 4 are from after the LP release. Notable is the change in style again, with the band being a standard Metal band before the LP release, while the 4 songs after the LP release show a more melodic side of the band, kinda like TYGERS OF PAN TANG who also changed throughout the years. Highlights of tje Bonustracks are the uptempo Melodic
Rocker “Guiding light” (not unlike very early EUROPE), “Searching” (typical Scandi uptempo AOR with keys, very 80s, like TREAT!) and the melodic rockballad “Turn on the darkness”. Concluded, this is another highly recommended Melodic Heavy Rock/Metal release.
http://www.karthagorecords.de

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

ARENA ‘CONTAGIOUS’ (VERGLAS MUSIC/BERTUS)

A few months ago ARENA released their new album ‘Contagion’, and now they have already released something new. The CD is actually a mini-CD with 5 new songs, but be aware, because these are 2 instrumentals, 1 acoustic track, a dancemix of ARENA songs and actually only one real new song called “I spy”. Although this is a very good typical ARENA track, I don’t think it’s worth buying this CD for just one song. But as bonus the band has added a Multimedia Extra. Unfortunately this is only interesting for it’s videoclip of “Skin game”, a computer animated video by the way, because further the demo tracks are not really interesting. Believe me, I am a big ARENA fan, but this new CD is not as interesting as it may look. I had hoped for a Live CD or even better, a DVD, because that’s something where the fans are waiting for! Their last CD is a highly recommended CD, but this Mini-CD is not really interesting, only for the die-hard ARENA fans!

(Points: - )

FOR MY PAIN... ‘FALLEN’ (SPINEFARM RECORDS)

FOR MY PAIN is a new band from Finland, and their debut has been mixed at the famous Finnvox Studios (STRATOVARIUS, NIGHTWISH). The album counts 10 tracks and sounds like a mix between NGIHTWISH and STRATOVARIUS, with some SONATA ARCTICA here and there. The songs are mostly uptempo, not as fast as SONATA or STRATO, but more uptempo melodic rockers. At times it reminds me of TEN, yet with darker lead vocals. After a few songs I knew I was listening to something really good. The band also features NIGHTWISH keyboardplayer Tuomas Holopainen, and although therre are similarites to NIGHTWISH, the big difference is the male lead singer, who sings melodic (a la HIM and NIGHTINGALE). Some may call this Gothic Metal, but actually it’s damn close to Melodic Rock packed in a big Metalish sound.

Opener “My wound is deeper than yours” is a good example, because this is actually uptempo melodic rock a la TEN, yet I think people will say it sounds like a mix between HIM and NIGHTWISH. Next track “Dancer in the dark” is very impressive as it features a d uet with a very good female singer (Miriam Renvag) and the song has an excellent chorus. Happily, the CD continues in the style of these great first 2 songs, with as other highlights “Queen misery”, “Rapture of lust” (fantastic catchy uptempo melodic rocker, like STRATOVARIUS meets SONATA ARCTICA!), “Broken days” and “Autum harmony” (chorus!). Concluded, this album is big, it should be as huge as HIM or EVANESCENCE, so go check it out, but even melodic rockfans might want to check it out, as there’s some great stuff on it!

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

CYMORYL ‘STRANGE EVOCATION’ (MUSEA RECORDS)

Out of France comes this quality band. CYMORYL is playing Progressive Rock/Metal and actually they have an own style, maybe somewhere between ARENA, RUSH and DREAM THEATER, but yet very different from these bands, so CYMORYL has an own style. They play their Prog Rock/Metal at a high level, and the 8 included songs are very impressive. It’s not as sensational as mentioned bands, but they are definitely better than the average Progrock/Metalbands. Highlights on this 67 minutes counting debut CD of CYMORYL are the titletrack “Strange evocation”, “My duty” (RUSH meets SAGA) and “Eternal being”. Try it if you’re a RUSH fan, because lead singer Alain Puget sounds a bit like GEDDY LEE! More info at:
http://www.cymoryl.fr

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

TOYZ ‘ONE STEP’ (DEMO)

Out of Paris, France comes a new band called TOYZ. This is really a sensational band, because their 5-track demo CDR sounds awesome. The production is crystal clear and the included songs are very impressive. TOYZ is playing 80s influenced uptempo AOR/Melodic Rock. The CD starts with a good melodic rocker called “One step”. Then we get to hear the 2 highlights of the demo, namely “She’s a star” and “Lost in Hong Kong”, both excellent AOR Rockers with strong catchy choruses. These 2 songs are really terrific and I can easily say they are some of the best Independent AOR tracks I’ve heard in a long time! The last 2 tracks are a bit standard Melodic Hardrocksongs a la DANGER DANGER, but in general speaking I can highly recommend this band. More info on them at:
http://toyzOnline.free.fr and e-mail them at: toyzContact@wanadoo.fr

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

AFTER THE SILENCE ‘WEARY ANGELS HEART’ (INDEPENDENT)

AFTER THE SILENCE is a female fronted Dutch band, and the band sent me their demo that includes 5 tracks. They already informed me that it was recorded during a rehearsal, so this is really a rough demo, nothing more nothing less. So I will not discuss the sound quality here, because that isn’t fair, but this review should inform you about this upcoming band that will definitely make it in the near future. AFTER THE SILENCE is playing Melodic Rock/AOR with similarities to VIXEN, WITNESS and 80s HEART. The band has a good female lead singer, but because this demo is more like a rehearsal, it’s hard to hear this, but if you tune in to the semi-AOR ballad/rocker “Resurrection” you can hear that this band has the potential in becoming a very strong act. This song also has a progressive break towards the end, and without a doubt it’s a very interesting song. One of the other highlights on this demo is definitely “Let love surround me”, a very good strong midtempo AOR song with good vocals and nice keyboardwork. Also closing track “Weary angels heart” is worth mentioning, because this is prime-time uptempo AOR/Melodic Rock. I really look forward to a future official CD, with a real production, so the vocals are not fading away like it is now on this demo, then we can easily look out for a new exciting AOR/Melodic Rockalbum with female lead vocals. For now, check out AFTER THE SILENCE at:
http://www.afterthesilence.nl and e-mail them at: afterthesilence.rocks@hccnet.nl

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

MANDYLION ‘WITHIN FLAMES’ (DEMO CDR)

We’re back in Japan again with a very exciting Melodic Sympho-Power Metalband called MANDYLION. They play in the style of STRATOVARIUS, LABYRINTH, RHAPSODY, SONATA ARCTICA... The production/sound is very impressive (HUGE!) and instrumental they are quite impressive. Vocally it’s not as good as the European acts, but the catchy melodies and chorus make it up, and although this demo CDR contains only 1 track, I can inform you that the song “Within flames” is a fantastic catchy uptempo Melodic Sympho-Power Metal track with very nice keyboardwork (a la RHAPSODY) and a catchy melodic chorus. This band sounds impressive, and I hope to hear much more of them in the future! More info at:
http://www3.to/mandylion and e-mail them at: studio_arcana@mac.com

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

LAUDAMUS ‘LOST IN VAIN’ (ESCAPE MUSIC)

A hot new Swedish band that was formed almost 20 years ago, but ‘Lost in vain’ is their 2nd album so far. The album features guest appearances by JEFF SCOTT SOTO, MARTY FRIEDMAN, ROB ROCK and many others. LAUDAMUS is playing edgy (and sometimes groovy) Melodic Heavy Rock like a mix between KEN TAMPLIN, HAREM SCAREM, LION’S SHARE and early MEGADETH. It’s sometimes quite heavy and dark, and maybe not interesting for a fan of standard Melodic Rock, but after listening to the 10 tracks of their CD several times I can conclude that it’s definitely a quality record that needs to be listened several times before giving a real good judgement. The highlights are “My hearts on fire” (good melodic chorus), “In the final hour” (duet with JEFF SCOTT SOTO, strong chorus, some Progressive elements), “Free” (90s MALMSTEEN meets early LION’S SHARE), “Lay your burdens down” and “Salvation” (heavy riffs, but melodic uptempo chorus). Not all the songs are convincing, because the tracks “Die” and “Mother evolution” are quite average, but in the end it’s a nice record after all. Also, many Swedish vocalists have a very melodic voice (a la JOEY TEMPEST), but the LAUDAMUS lead singer Peter Stenlund has a raw voice, and because the music is also sometimes quite raw, I can not say this is typical Scandi melodic rockalbum. Nevertheless the album still has it’s highlights and is highly recommended if you enjoyed the KEN TAMPLIN record or want to check out some big groovier Melodic Heavy Rock!

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

PAIN AND PASSION ‘DON’T THINK TOMORROW’ (ESCAPE MUSIC)

Another new Swedish band on the ESCAPE MUSIC label. This band is called PAIN AND PASSION, and they play Progressive Melodic Heavy Rock/Metal that has some similarities to 80s FATES WARNING, but also influences from classic 70s Hardrock can be heard (read: RAINBOW, DEEP PURPLE, WHITESNAKE, THIN LIZZY and even BLACK SABBATH). The band has a solid groovy guitar riff sound, but mixed with the excellent melodic lead vocals of singer Bjorn Asking this makes PAIN AND PASSION interesting and most important, it gives them an own identity. There are 10 tracks on the CD, and although the band has an own sound, not all the songs are convincing, but on the other hand the album can easily be listened to from start to finish, because what we hear is definitely quality music. The best songs on ‘Don’t think tomorrow’ are “I’m not there tomorrow”, “Get ready” and “Could I walk away”. Concluded, this is a nice Progressive Melodic Heavy Rockalbum, recommended if you like any of the mentioned bands, but don’t expect something really sensational. It’s a decent album, but not the strongest release on ESCAPE MUSIC.

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT ‘TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT’ (STEELHEART RECORDS)

TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT is an American band playing Classic 80s US Power Metal, and they do it very well, at a high level. Although they have a keyboardplayer (Kit Allen), I couldn’t hear much keys, because TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT is a real 80s US Power Metal based act, with powerful vocals (singer Shawn Pelata) and an excellent guitarist (Kyle Harrison) who plays his solo’s perfectly. The music sounds like a mix between LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG, very early QUEENSRYCHE, TWISTED TOWER DIRE and of course IRON MAIDEN. 9 songs are included, and together with an impressive production, this album is highly recommended. Highlights on the debut CD of TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT are “Merchants of death”, “Pride will fall”, “Into the night”, “Poseidonus wrath” and “Captured”. Concluded, this is a MUST for every fan of classy 80s US Power Metal.

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

SHAKRA ‘RISING’ (POINT MUSIC/AOR HEAVEN)

The Swiss band SHAKRA has been working it’s way to the top for several years now, and ‘Rising’ is their latest effort. For many years they have been the third band in Switzerland, GOTTHARD and KROKUS always being more popular, but with the release of ‘Rising’ I think SHAKRA has a good chance to reach the same popularity as GOTTHARD and KROKUS. This year all 3 bands released new albums, and although KROKUS and GOTTHARD both reached the number one position in their home country, SHAKRA also deserves such a high ranking, because actually I think SHAKRA has delivered a stronger album than GOTTHARD and KROKUS. This is the album GOTTHARD should have made! ‘Rising’ is a real 80s inspired pure Hardrockalbum that sounds like the perfect mix between AC/DC, 80s DEF LEPPARD and VICTORY. You can compare ‘Rising’ with albums like VICTORY’s ‘Culture killed the native’, HAREM SCAREM’s ‘Mood swings’, BONFIRE’s ‘Fireworks’ and DEF LEPPARD’s ‘Pyromania’, somewhere in between you can place SHAKRA’s ‘Rising’, but the band also has some similarities to BONFIRE and I have to say that new lead singer MARK FOX is a good strong singer with a raw voice that sounds a lot like PRETTY MAIDS singer .

Anyway, 12 songs are included on ‘Rising’ and not a weak track isn’t included, from the first tones of “Now or never” until closing track “Trapped” it’s all sensational Melodic Hardrock what we get to hear. It sounds all very strong and tight, and together with a catchy chorus, they are all a pleasure to listen to. Highlights are “Done me wrong” (strong uptempo melodic hardrock with a catchy melodic chorus, like DEF LEPPARD and VICTORY), “I will be there” (classy melodic Power Ballad a la GOTTHARD’s “Heaven”), “My life – my world” (strong Melodic Hardrock like HAREM SCAREM’s ‘Mood swings’), “Sign in the sky” (best song, fantastic uptempo melodic heavy rocker like a heavier BONFIRE, with a lovely chorus), “Fight the fire” (uptempo melodic Hardrock like first couple of albums
of GOTTHARD) and the semi melodic rockballad “Anything”. This album is a total must if you’re a fan of big Melodic Hardrock, and I think it beats the new albums of GOTTHARD and KROKUS!

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)

SOMNIAE STATUS ‘CASSANDRA’ (ADRENALINE RECORDS)

The debut album of the Italian Melodic Progressive (Hard) Rockband SOMNIAE STATUS was produced by DOKKEN guitarist Alex De Rosso. Their debut album contains only 7 tracks, and has a playing length of only 36 minutes (!), so I am not sure if this should be called a full-length album. Anyway, the music is pretty standard Progressive Melodic Heavy Rock, not really interesting actually. The songs are just not strong enough, and I know a Progressive Rock/Metal band doesn’t write catchy songs, but I mean, DREAM THEATER has excellent songs, but SOMNIAE STATUS is just not of that level. The songs are just nice to listen to, but it never gets sensational. Nevertheless, the album is nice to check out if you’re into Progressive Rock/Metal. Highlights are “Nowhere run”, “Oracle dream” and “Cassandra”, but don’t expect something really sensational here.

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

PRIDE ‘SIGNS OF PURITY’
(POINT MUSIC/AOR HEAVEN)


The English Melodic Rockband PRIDE returns with the release of a new CD titled ‘Signs of purity’. The music is still classy 80s Melodic Rock a la BON JOVI, JADED HEART, DOKKEN and XYZ. Most of the songs are uptempo and especially the beginning (the first 6 tracks) sound really good. Songs like “Could you believe”, “Somewhere someway”, “It’s just me” and “Say your not lonely” are very strong uptempo melodic rockers that combine the best of mentioned bands. Somehow, the second part of the CD, the last 6 tracks, are sounding a bit average, not bad or anything, but just standard melodic hardrock, nothing special compared to the first 6 tracks. Therefore the rating isn’t as high as expected, but nevertheless I can still highly recommend this CD to fans of 80s BON JOVI, DEF LEPPARD, DOKKEN, JADED HEART, HARDLINE, FIREHOUSE, XYZ, DANGER DANGER...

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

CLIMAX ‘PLAY SOME HEAVY’ (AUREO RECORDS)

CLIMAX is a Swiss band and ‘Play some heavy’ is their debut CD, which was released a few weeks ago. The band is playing Melodic Hard/Heavy Rock with some Metal influences. The first song “Zero” is a good start, as this is a nice uptempo Melodic Heavy Rocker, actually very much reminding me of 80s German Metalbands, like TALON, HIGH TENSION, TOX, STORMWITCH, RESTLESS etc. The following 9 songs are more or less in the same style as opener “Zero”, with as best songs “Psycho bitch”, “Demonized”, “Break” and “Fly”. So, what we have is a good Melodic Heavy Rock/Metalband from Switzerland. More info on CLIMAX at:
http://www.climax-metal.ch and e-mail them at: info@climax-metal.ch

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

FATAL ATTRACTION ‘SIMPLICITY RULES’ (ADRENALINE RECORDS)

Although ADRENALINE RECORDS is best known for it’s Progressive Rock/Metal releases, this FATAL ATTRACTION is clearly an exception, because ‘Simplicity rules’ is a pure AOR record! The band from Sweden was formed more than years ago, and during that period they released a good debut CD (‘End of regulation time’ in 1995) and after waiting several years (with a few excellent advance songs), FATAL ATTRACTION finally releases their follow-up ‘Simplicity rules’. Together with a high class production, the 12 included songs are all very impressive, and the AOR style of FATAL ATTRACTION is comparable to AGENT, AVIATOR, FM, ALIAS, JOURNEY and TOTO.

The CD starts a bit soft, with the pure 80s orientated Hi-Tech AOR/Poprocker “Simplicity rules” (a la TOTO, DAVID ROBERTS) and the midtempo AOR/Westcoast tune “Head above the water” (a la MARK SPIRO), but from track 3 on this CD is as close to pure AOR you can get. “Feel the fire” is a great uptempo AOR rocker a la URBAN TALE, JOURNEY... “Anything it takes” follows, and is a typical midtempo AOR song like ALIAS, STREET TALK, GIANT... Then there’s the fun uptempo AOR Rocker “In the heart of my soul”, a really rocking 80s song a la JOURNEY and AVIATOR. The absolute highlight of the disc follows in the shape of “Stay on the line”, this song is pure AOR HEAVEN, with it’s superb chorus, bringing back memories of classy Scandi AOR (DAVINCI, TREAT, ALIEN). The song “Valleys of heaven” starts with some excellent classy 80s AOR keys, and develops into an awesome AOR ballad a la JOURNEY, and if it has been released 15 years ago, the US could have turn it into a massive hitsingle!

The CD continues with 2 more great uptempo AOR rockers “Modern world” and “Silver son” (excellent!). “Perfect dream” follows, and is a nice midtempo AOR song. “Unknown world” is another high class uptempo AOR piece, while closing track “Third anthem” is a nice semi AOR ballad. I can easily conclude that this release is a must for every AOR fan! It seems like we only get to hear sensational AOR from Scandinavia these days, with Sweden being the most productive country. After many great releases the past few years by bands like GRAND ILLUSION, URBAN TALE, TOKEN, SHARA, BLIND ALLEY, COASTLINE, STREET TALK, ALYSON AVENUE, TWO PIECE PUZZLE, JIM JIDHED etc. and now we can now add the fantastic new CD of FATAL ATTRACTION to this growing list of sensational Scandi AOR releases...

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)

TIERRA DEL DRAGON ‘ECLIPSE’ (DEMO)

This is one of the first bands from Venezuela I get to hear and review here. Well, they seem to have done verything pretty well, as their 2-track demo CDR sounds quite impressive. What you get is typical for an South-American band, so pure uptempo Neo-Classical Power Metal with Euro Power Metal influences, kinda like a mix between ANGRA and RHAPSODY, with some more Progressive Metal elements here and there. Like most other bands from the South American region, also TIERRA DEL DRAGON sings in the Spanish language, but this isn’t a problem at all. It’s a pity that there are only 2 tracks on the demo CDR, because both “Eclipse” and “Sobre las ruinas del castillo” are great uptempo Melodic Power Metal tunes. The production is very good, and with still a playing length of 18 minutes, this is quite enjoyable to listen to. Fans of ANGRA, RHAPSODY and HELLOWEEN should check out this band. They will record some material in English soon, so that will be interesting. For now, check out their site at:
http://www.geocities.com/tierradeldragon2002 and e-mail them at: tdeldragon@yahoo.com

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

TARAXACUM ‘RAINMAKER’
(MTM MUSIC/SUBURBAN)


The supergroup around (former) members of STEEL PROPHET, SQUEALER, EDGUY, HAGGARD and AXEL RUDI PELL is about to release their 2nd CD ‘Rainmaker’. The CD has a big excellent production by SASCHA PAETH (RHAPSODY, KAMELOT, ANGRA) and although these are all names in the Power Metal genre, the music of TARAXACUM is not pure Power Metal, because sometimes it’s pure Melodic Hardrock. This can be heard in the fantastic catchy uptempo melodic rocker “Prayer in Unison”, a song reminding me a bit of PINK CREAM 69. Anyway, the CD has a very good impressive sound that will attract all Melodic Rock/Metal fans. Other highlights include the midtempo “Rainmaker” (very 80s German orientated sound, like VICTORY), “Never to return” (uptempo Melodic Heavy Rocker a la PRETTY MAIDS), “Dark sunglasses” (lovely uptempo AOR/Melodic Rock) and “In the end” (melodic rockballad, very good vocalwork). Despite a few Modern influenced Heavy Metal songs (“Disfunctional” and “The red pill”), this is a great album that will be loved by fans of Melodic Heavy Rock/Metal!

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

ULTIMATIUM ‘FOLLOW THE STAR’ (DEMO CDR)

Out of Finland comes yet another new sensational Melodic Power Metalband. They are quite close to SONATA ARCTICA, and I can easily put them next to other Finish bands such as OLYMPOS MONS, THUNDERSTONE etc. There are only 4 tracks on their 3rd demo CDR, but you can clearly hear that this is quality stuff what we hear. The songs are catchy and very strong, with as highlights the uptempo pieces “Follow the star”, “Through winterland” and “In winter nights”. Closing track “Angelwing” is a great midtempo Melodic Heavy Rocker a la EDGUY. I must say that this is really very impressive stuff what we hear on the demo CD by ULTIMATIUM. They should easily be able to secure a recorddeal, because this is prime-time Melodic Power Metal stuff. Check them out at:
http://ultimatium.cjb.net

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

BATTLE RAM ‘BATTLE RAM’ (INDEPENDENT)

This is a band from Italy and they play pure 80s US Power/Speed Metal, with some references to AGENT STEEL, so a lot of high pitched vocals can be heard here. Instrumental it all sounds excellent and of a very high level, but also vocally the singer Daniele Di Loreto can easily sing the high notes. Even the production is very good for a demo release, so in general this is a really good demo CDR. If we have a look at the songs, 5 are included and if you’re a fan of Classic 80s US Power Metal, then this is a must for you! The absolute highlights are the fantastic “Dark command” and “Battering ram”, both very impressive tunes that are as good as old QUEENSRYCHE or VIRGIN STEELE tunes! More info can be found at:
http://www.battleram.it

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

CRASHDIET ‘CRASHDIET’ (INDEPENDENT)

Although I am not a big fan of Glam/Party Hardrock, I always loved bands like MOTLEY CRUE, POISON, WRATHCHILD, PRETTY BOY FLOYD etc. However, most of the independent bands that play this kind of Metal are quite average, but happily the Swedish band CRASHDIET is an exception. These guys play their brand of Glam/Party Hardrock quite well. There are 6 well-produced tunes on their demo CDR, and it sounds very good actually. Songs like “Gimme what I need”, “We play it, you scream it” and “California white” are great Party/Hardrocksongs with influences from CRUE, although the band also has some Melodic Hardrockinfluences, but one look at the CD cover and you’ll agree with me they look like some 80s LA Hair Metalband. That’s no problem at all, because they sound pretty good and therefore I can recommend this Glam Metalband. More info at:
http://www.crashdiet.shows.it and e-mail them at: crashdiet@telia.com

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

SCREAM ANGER ‘SCREAM ANGER’ (INDEPENDENT)

Out of Japan comes SCREAM ANGER, a good Melodic Hardrockband that plays in the style of AXXIS and FAIR WARNING. The lead singer’s vocals are high-pitched, and although the sound is pretty good, I think the included songs are not strong enough, but on the other hand I hear that SCREAM ANGER is able to do some interesting things, such as on the song “Answer within”. Check out this Japanese Melodic Hardrockband at:
http://home.att.ne.jp/omega/SCREAMANGER

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

MOONLIGHT TEARS ‘THE BLACK ANGEL’ (DEMO CDR)

This Demo of the French band MOONLIGHT TEARS contains 3 tracks and musically this female fronted band is clearly influenced by the likes of NIGHTWISH. The high pitched opera/theatrical female lead vocals of singer Innocenti cÚline remind me a lot of NIGHTWISH, and also musically they come quite close, yet the production is not that good, but songs like “Kassandra” and “Black angel” are indeed very good Power Metal songs with Gothic orientated lead vocals. More info at:
http://www.moonlighttears.fr and e-mail them at: moonlighttears@free.fr

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

SHINING EDGE ‘IN JAPAN’ (INDEPENDENT)

Back to Japan where we find SHINING EDGE, a Melodic Euro Power Metal act that sounds pretty good on their CD ‘In Japan’. I haven’t got any info on their songtitles, but the first and third song were the best tracks, both great uptempo Melodic Rock/Metal songs wih strong vocals and good guitar/keyboardwork. More info on SHINING EDGE is available through e-mail at:
h-se-tmr@hct.zaq.ne.jp

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

SEVENTH SON ‘IMMORTAL HOURS’ (IRON PAGES)

Out of the thousands of N.W.O.B.H.M. came SEVENTH SON. IRON PAGES has released a very interesting compilation of songs the band recorded between 1983 and 1985, with the addition of 2 bonustracks, recorded in this new millenium. The band played classic N.W.O.H.M. orientated Heavy Metal with strong similarities to bands like SAXON, early TOKYO BLADE, WOLF and early TYGERS OF PAN TANG, so pure Metal like it was played around 1981 in the U.K. by thousands of bands. This disc is a nice collection of 16 tunes recorded by SEVENTH SON that are now for the first time available on CD. Although many English bands were moving to a Melodic Hardrock friendly sound, SEVENTH SON hold on to their roots, which can be heard on all the 16 tracks on ‘Immortal hours’, which are all in the classy NWOBHM style. The best songs are great uptempo rockers like “Immortal hours”, “When worlds collide”, “Silver to Gold” and “Harder you rock” (hello SAXON!). Although the sound quality isn’t as good as DENIGH, the other release on IRON PAGES, this CD is still a must for everyone who likes good old NWOBHM. One final note is the bonustrack “Dangerous kiss”, a new song recorded in 2000, and although it’s very different from the band’s earlier material, this is the best song of the CD! This song is prime-time uptempo Melodic Rock/AOR like PRAYING MANTIS, and it sounds that good that I almost can’t wait to hear more new material in this style! Let’s hope IRON PAGES has more surprises in the future with such rare releases, because this is the only chance to get hold of such rare material, and besides, the packaging is excellent, with many liner notes, lyrics and pictures of the band. More info at:
http://www.iron-pages.de

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

1ST AVENUE ‘DEMO CDR’ (DEMO)

Do not confuse this Dutch band with the fantastic 1ST AVENUE fom the early 1990s, because this 1ST AVENUE comes out of Zwolle and they play a somewhat different style than the other same named band. They play pure 70s Heavy Bluesrock/Hardrock in the style of THIN LIZZY, BAD COMPANY, FREE and very early WHITESNAKE. To succeed and really play 70s kind of Classic Rock they also use instruments made in the 1970s! I must admit that they really are able to make good quality pure 70s Bluesy Rock/Hardrock and songs like “Sweet talker” and “Roselie” are sounding like a mix between mentioned bands, although the production isn’t really good, but on the other hand that’s due to the fact that this demo was recorded live during a gig. Anyway, if you’re into this kind of Rock, you must check out this band at:
http://www.1st-avenue.nl and e-mail them at: josgroen@home.nl

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

DENIGH ‘FIRE FROM THE SKY’ (IRON PAGES)

IRON PAGES is keen on all British NWOBHM acts from the early 1980s, and DENIGH was one of them. They made a handfull of recordings during the early 1980s, but had to wait for an official release until IRON PAGES released a CD with all those songs last year. The band was playing the typical NWOBHM at a very high level, quite close to early TYGERS OF PAN TANG, but also Y AND T similarities can be made here and there. 11 tracks are included on this CD, and not only the sound is pretty good, but also the songs are very impressive, and also quite important to mention is that DENIGH had a very good strong lead singer (Jon Everett). The best songs on the CD are “Fire from the sky” (great high quality early 80s NWOBHM, pure TYGERS OF PAN TANG), “Sentinel” (classy British Melodic Hardrock with tempo changes, an epic tune of 8 minutes), “Synthetic seduction” (good semi-ballad) and “Give me strength” (calm start, great semi-ballad/melodic heavy rocker). Concluded, this is a highly recommended classy NWOBHM act! More info at:
http://www.iron-pages.de

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

SANITY ‘THE DEMO’ (DEMO)

SANITY is a band from Leerdam, Holland and their demo ‘The demo’ sounds pretty good for an independent band. They play Progressive Metal with influences from 80s QUEENSRYCHE, CRIMSON GLORY, DREAM THEATER, SAVATAGE... The sound and the songs is very impressive, and the only comments I can make is that lead singer Kees van Keulen (ex-BAGHEERA) sings a bit forced sometimes, but nevertheless the demo the band released is very good. 4 studiotracks are included and 5 livetracks, and most striking fact to mention here is that the demo comes as a double disc, so you’ll get an audio CD with 9 long tracks, and a live recorded gig of almost 30 minutes, so a DVD! This all combined makes SANITY a very professional band and their ‘The demo’ a wanted piece for fans of both 80s US Power Metal and today’s Progressive Metal style. More info can be found at:
http://www.cf-sonsultancy.com/sanity.html and e-mail them at: chris@cf-consultancy.com

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

OPEN UP FEAT. MORTON HOLM ‘OPEN UP’ (MTM MUSIC/SUBURBAN)

There’s a whole story behind this band, because leader MORTEN HOLM PETTERSEN once was a sprinter who wanted to become one of the best Norwegian athletics, but when he went to Portugal for a trainingcamp he got poisoned through food and his whole life dramatically changed. For over 13 years Morton stayed in bed with fever, cold and many other complications. During that period he began writing songs and the result was a band that recorded all his songs. MTM gladly decided to release the CD and so here it is, the first CD of MORTON HOLM’s ‘Open up’. The music on the CD is soft Westcoast/AOR/Poprock in the style of RICHARD MARX, RICK CUA, KYLE VINCENT, JOHN TAGLIERI... It’s very soft at times, and 80s inspired, radio-ready fun summer poprock/pop/westcoast like a calmer version of NELSON. The first 2 songs are interesting for the AOR fans, the uptempo “Dreams” and the midtempo “A joyful day”. Unfortunately the rest of the CD is too Pop orientated to be featured here, such as the PLAYER/EAGLES/AMERICA type of tunes “Anxious mind”, “Where are you summetime?” and “No hard feelings”. It’s nice to see this release, because it will inspire many people who also suffer from long-term illness, and it will give Morten himself something to be proud of. However, the music is not really interesting for the AOR/Melodic Rockfans, but if you like Westcoast/Pop you will love this!

(Points: 7.0 out of 10)

VARIOUS ARTISTS ‘AFM RECORDS NEW SIGNINGS/UPCOMING RELEASES 2003/2004’ (AFM RECORDS)

This is a new compilation CD by the German label AFM RECORDS. Most of the songs are already released, but a few are new. The most interesting ones are the great new tracks by DIONYSUS and VOICE. DIONYSUS is featured with the fantastic uptempo “Anima mundi” that sounds like a cross between EDGUY and STRATOVARIUS. I look forward to their upcoming 2nd CD which will be released early next year. The new song of VOICE is titled “Devilish temptation”, a sing-along typical German Melodic Metal track which will be included on their upcoming CD ‘Soulhunter’ which is released in October this year. 2 interesting new tracks, the rest is from bands like EDGUY, UDO, CIRCLE 2 CIRCLE, AT VANCE, RAWHEAD REXX, MASTERPLAN, NOSTRADAMEUS..., but not interesting if you own their albums.

(Points: - )

MALC MACMILLAN
‘THE N.W.O.B.H.M. ENCYCLOPEDIA’
(IRON PAGES)


This is the ultimate book regarding the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, because it contains 800 pages and includes 533 bands (and 182 pictures) with information on almost every UK act that started playing Hardrock/Metal in the early 1980s. The book was written by Malm Macmillan, and he did an excellent job, with stories and extensive written biographies on all those UK acts that recorded mostly 7” singles in and around 1980/1981. Of course the well-known bands IRON MAIDEN, SAXON, TYGERS OF PAN TANG, GIRLSCHOOL, DEF LEPPARD etc. are featured in long well-written stories, but did you ever hear of obscure bands like STORMQUEEN, MASAI, KRAKEN, KOREA, LADY JANE, KNIGHTRIDER and MASTERSTROKE. Well, this superb book will give you an answer and it will definitely leave you satisfied if you want to learn about the big UK scene around 1981 when so many bands played your favourite Rockstyle: Hardrock and Heavy Metal.

There’s always the question which bands should be included, but Malc has mainly focused himself on UK bands that started playing Hardrock/Metal in 1979, 1980 or 1981, and they must have released something in that period (7” single, LP, 12” single or a Picture Disc), and although some bands changed their style in the following years they are still included (read: SHY, WRATCHILD, DEF LEPPARD, because in the playing almost all the UK bands played the same style, which was N.W.O.B.H.M.! Therefore this book is the ultimate resource to check out if you want to learn all there is tell about this very important period in the history of Hardrock and Heavy Metal. It’s especially recommended to collector’s of all those early 80s released 7” singles by UK Hardrock/Metal acts, but also journalists and included bands need to have this brilliant book. You will need several months (or even years!) to read this extensive book, so I can highly recommend it to all NWOBHM fans! You can buy a copy for 35,80 Euro through http://www.iron-pages.de

(Points: 9.5 out of 10)

STEFAN RIERMAIER
‘HEAVY METAL AUS OSTEUROPA’ (IRON PAGES)


Eastern Europe is a very poor region here in Europe, and also when it comes to good Metal and Hardrockacts it’s an unknown territory for many Western European Hardrock/Metalfans and that’s a pity because there are quite a few interesting bands (read our Russian Metal story for example). This book was written by STEFAN RIERMAIER, the man behind KARTHAGO RECORDS, and he did a great job in learning us about bands from Eastern Europe. The most important countries included are Bulgaria, former Yugoslavia, Austria, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary. It’s unbelievable how many interesting bands are coming out of these countries, there was really a big scene over there! The bands included are mostly from the 1980s, 1990s and this decade, because in the 1970s there wasn’t a single band playing Hardrock in Eastern Europe, as it really started around the mid 1980s.

This book was written in German, so hard to read if you don’t speak German (or Dutch), but it still gives you details of the bands, style and discography which is easy to understand for every living soul. Besides, it’s a very complete book about the Metal scene in Eastern Europe, because most of the bands I know are featured, so nothing is forgotten here. Concluded I can easily recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the Eastern European Hardrock/Metal scene which is unknown by many of us, and that’s a pity because I have heard many good bands from there, such as ARIJA, DIVLE JAGODE, OSMI PUTNIK, MANIAC, EDENBRIDGE, EPIDEMIA etc. You can buy a copy for 19,25 Euro (+ postage costs 0,77 Euro) through http://www.iron-pages.de

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

PARAGON ‘THE DARK LEGACY’
(REMEDY RECORDS/ROCK INC./BERTUS)


The German Power Metal band PARAGON is back with the release of their 6th CD ‘The dark legacy’. The musicstyle hasn’t changed, so again we can hear typical German Metal, quite heavy and raw to the bones. If UDO would return to ACCEPT and decided to choose for a heavier Power Metal style a la JUDAS PRIEST it would sound like PARAGON! In the 13 years they exist now they have built up a big reputation throughout Europe and I can easily recommend the new CD if you enjoyed the band’s earlier releases. Higlights on the new CD are “Breaking glass” (German Metal at it’s best!), “Black hole” (fast and furious), “Green hell” and “The afterlife”. Concluded, get this record if you’re a fan of raw and rough German Metal and ACCEPT/MANOWAR.

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

DIVINUS ‘THOUGHTS OF A DESPERATE MIND’ (INDEPENDENT)

Out of Germany comes yet another sensational band. They are called DIVINUS and they play high quality Melodic Progressive/Power Metal that sounds very much like the last CYDONIA record, due to the combination of melodic and rawer (modern) vocals, as well as some elements of Thrash into the Prog/Power Metal. However, the general feel of this record is quite impressive, and also the production is very good, so this could have been a label release, but it’s an independent release. “The blood of God” is a very sensational opener, a fantastic uptempo Melodic Progressive Metal tune with a strong chorus. Other highlights include “Behold the truth” (although this song is slightly disturbed by a Thrash/Death-Metal part), the semi-ballad “Into the sun” (a la VANDENPLAS), “Devil ride” (great uptempo melodic metal), “All you need” (excellent!) and “November child” (great Melodic Progmetal). Although this is a very good CD, it could have been better if the vocals would have been clean all the time, because now lead singer Daniel Ott himself is now disturbing some of the songs which is not necessary, just like we saw with the band CYDONIA some time ago. Really a pity, because a song like “All you need” shows how good this band could really be if they would use only the clean vocals. The rating could have been much higher, but it’s still interesting enough to check out if you like quality Prog/Power Metal. Anyway, more info at:
http://www.divinusmetal.com and e-mail them at: info@divinusmetal.com

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

QWESTION Y ‘QWESTION Y’ (INDEPENDENT)

QWESTION is a 3-piece band from the USA, and their debut CD was released last year. The album contains highly skilled instrumental groovy and Progressive Hardrock with some very good guitarplay. The album takes up to 60 minutes of playing length, and fans of VAI/SATRIANI will appreciate songs like “Forest of the norm” and “Yachacha”. Check it out for yourself at:
http://www.qwestion.net and e-mail them at: strutter@qwestion.net

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

THORGEN ‘HERETIC’ (BRENNUS RECORDS)

THORGEN is a French band and ‘Heretic’ is their debut CD. It’s like we turned back the clock, because THORGEN is playing pure 80s Heavy Metal with French lyrics, very much like SORTILEGE, KILLERS, TRUST, VULCAIN etc. etc. The band is slightly different than those bands, because they have a very young female violin player in their line-up. You can hear her at best during the best song on the CD, the lovely pure 80s Melodic Rockballad “Idees noires”, and I mean this is really a wonderful song, very melodic and reminding me of SCORPIONS. The rest of the CD is less interesting, and sometimes a bit average, but on the other hand if you grew up in the 1980s and were keen on French Metal, this band is a must because they have switched the clock back to 1985 when this kind of Metal was played by all European bands! Best songs are “Apocalypse”, “Video kid” and “Diabolique”. Not bad, but also not the strongest release on BRENNUS RECORDS.

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

TAIFA ‘TAIFA’ (DEMO CDR)

TAIFA is a Spanish band and they combine Melodic Metal with Flamengo, and actually it sounds pretty cool. They sent me a demo CDR with 4 songs, 2 of them in Spanish, the other 2 in English. They remind me a bit of MEDINA AZAHARA, yet with some Progressive Metal influences here and there. The best song is “A little bit of heaven”, a very melodic song. The 2 Spanish songs also sound pretty good, and with the mix of Latin, Flamengo and Melodic Metal they are quite unique in the scene. And it sounds pretty good too, so check out this band at:
http://www.reinodetaifa.com and e-mail them at:
reinodetaifa@hotmail.com

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

WALTHAM ‘PERMISSION TO BUILD’ (INDEPENDENT)

What would happen if the RICK SPRINGFIELD of the early 1980s would join today’s HAREM SCAREM? Well, then you would definitely have a band like WALTHAM. This new band from the Boston area is finally bringing back a good new type of uptempo Melodic Poprock I do like very much. Most of those US Nu-Breed bands forget the melodies, the guitarsolos and the catchy choruses, but WALTHAM gladly took that all back from the 1980s to the year 2003 on their debut CD ‘Permission to build’. These guys are capable in writing catchy uptempo Melodic Poprockers in the style of RICK SPRINGFIELD’s unbeatable classic ‘Working class dog’ (the best Poprock album of all times), with a slight modern touch, just like HAREM SCAREM did on their last album ‘Weight of the world’. WALTHAM really rocks and I am quite sure that live on stage they sound even better than on this disc. Anyway, their CD sounds really good, and most of the 12 songs are catchy uptempo melodic poprockers, such as “So lonely”, “All I want is you”, “Cheryl” (very catchy!), “Don’t say it’s too late”, “Nicole” (hello RICK SPRINGFIELD!!!), “Laura” (am I listening to RICK SPRINGFIELD’s ‘Working class dog’ here or not!!!) and the hidden track after “Feelin’ it” (I am not gonna say of whom this song reminds me!.

Sometimes it’s just SO MUCH reminding me of RICK SPRINGFIELD’s ‘Working class dog’, and then I start to think that WALTHAM must have been playing that record over and over again until they could write their own music in this Melodic Poprockstyle with a slight modern edge to keep it ready for today’s radio format. The only time they slow things down is on the great melodic Power Rockballad “Say it again” (a la FIORE), but the rest is all catchy uptempo Melodic Poprock. These guys completely succeed in making me think there’s new hope for American Melodic Poprock, let’s hope they will hold on to this exciting style. Needless to say that this CD is a total must if you’re into NELSON’s ‘Life’, RICK SPRINGFIELD’s ‘Working class dog’ (sorry for mentioning him so many times, but I can’t help it, it’s just so much like that record!), late HAREM SCAREM/RUBBER and also the last 2 DEF LEPPARD records... More info at: http://www.walthamtheband.com and e-mail them at: lauriegail@earthlink.net

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

REI LAGARTO ‘FREE FALL’ (INDEPENDENT)

REI LEGARTO is a band from Brazil and they have released 2 CDs so far. This one was released 2 years ago, and they are about to release a new CD, but in the meantime it’s interesting to talk about their 2nd CD ‘Free fall’. The included music is well-played groovier Melodic (Hard) Rock in the style of TRXITER, XYZ, TESLA, yet due to the charasmatic vocals of singer David Popp the band has an own identity. The best songs are the melodic rockers “Sister” and “Bitch” and the calm piano-ballad “Burn” (good vocals). The production is strong and the music is good early 1990s inspired American Melodic Heavy Rock like a mix between SKID ROW, RATT, TESLA, HERICANE ALICE, HURRICANE and XYZ, but I must inform you that the last 4 tracks on the CD are a bit disappointing and have not much in common with rough Hardrock, so therefore a lower rating. More info on the band can be found at:
http://www.reilagarto.com and e-mail them at: reilagarto@reilagarto.com

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

ENCHANT ‘TUG OF WAR’
(INSIDE OUT MUSIC/CMM MUSIC)


The American Progressive Rockband ENCHANT is one of my favourite bands, and last year’s ‘Blink of an eye’ was their finest release, and at the end of 2002 it was clearly one of my favourite releases of that year. Now it’s not even a year later, and the band is already happy to release yet another new CD, their 7th so far. Although I thought this was way too soon, after giving the CD a few spins, the band has again proven to be one of the best Progressive Rockbands around nowadays. The CD contains 10 brand-new tracks and takes up to more than 60 minutes of music. The reason why ENCHANT has so soon a new CD out is due to the fact they don’t tour, but happily in a few months they will do a small tour in Europe, and maybe therefore they want to have a new CD out for this tour. Anyway, it’s a good CD, maybe not as good as it’s previous releases, but therefore it needs to be played a few times more in the coming months. Nevertheless, it’s a typical ENCHANT CD, so again we can hear Progressive Rock with a lot of clean melodies and of course the superb vocals of singer Ted Leonard, who still reminds us of KANSAS’ STEVE WALSH. Maybe the songs are a bit groovier than before, and the choruses are less catchy than the previous releases, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid this CD, because it’s still a great record. The best songs on ‘Tug of war’ are “Holding the wind”, “Beautiful”, “Long way down”, “Living in a movie” and “Comatose” (best song). Concluded, all ENCHANT fans should own this CD when it’s released in the coming weeks, although it’s not as good as their classic ‘Blink of an eye’.

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

JACK DAISY ‘STORY’ (INDEPENDENT)

I have a dream to once visit Japan and especially Tokyo is a place where I would want to go soon, maybe in the next few years. The reason? Well, it’s simple, because over there our kind of music, no matter if it is AOR, Progressive or Power Metal, it’s all very popular over there, with bands like ROYAL HUNT, FAIR WARNING, STRATOVARIUS, SONATA ARCTICA etc. topping the charts. One more reason why I want to go to Japan is the fact that there are so many Japanese Melodic Hardrock/Power Metalbands, and most of them sound very good. The latest discovery is JACK DAISY! This is an all-female band and they play Melodic Hardrock, heavier than VIXEN, but close to the first PHANTOM BLUE. Anyway, the 4 songs on their CD sound very impressive, the production is high-class and the instruments are played very well. The included tracks are quite sensational, with as highlights the uptempo Melodic Heavy Rockers “Stand at the fate crossroad”, “Ocean of light” and the fast catchy Power Metal song “Forever dream” (best song, highly melodic, with superb guitarplay by either Miho or Kazue, and a catchy chorus a la SONATA ARCTICA/STRATOVARIUS). The only let-down is the Thrash-Metal song “Bright hope”, but with such a talented demo with very diverse songs, this is a band tow atch out for in the future! This is really a highly recommended all-female band from Japan! Hope to see them in action someday! More info at:
http://www.jack-daisy.com and e-mail them at: jack-daisy@geocities.co.jp

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

UFO ‘BIG APPLE ENCOUNTERS’ (MAJESTIC ROCK RECORDS)

MAJESTIC ROCK RECORDS has a new CD out, a live record of UFO. The particular concert took place in New York on the 23rd of September 1975. 11 tracks were played and this CD gives you a good idea of how it all went down there almost 30 years ago. Although the sound quality is not superb, the music speaks for itself with such classic anthem UFO rockers like “Doctor doctor”, “Let it roll”, “Shoot shoot” and “Rock bottom”. Any UFO fan will be pleased with this release, which is a nice addition to the already huge collection of UFO collectables. More info on this and other releases on MAJESTIC ROCK at:
http://www.majesticrock.com

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

INSANIA ‘NEVER 2L84H8’ (STF RECORDS)

There are quite a few bands called INSANIA, but this band comes out of Germany, and their CD ‘Never 2L84H8’ is a very good debut record. The band is playing 80s orientated Euro Melodic Metal in the style of MAD MAX, PRETTY MAIDS, CANNON, STORMWITCH... This is really pure 80s, even the sound, it’s like we are back in 1985!!! Don’t think it also sounds dated, because the 9 included tracks sound really fresh and are very impressive. I couldn’t find a weak song among the 9 tracks, and if you appreciate the excellent 80s guitar orientated European Melodic Heavy Rock/Metalsound of bands like MAD MAX, PRETTY MAIDS... then this INSANIA is a must for you, although I must inform you that some songs sound a bit different (like the grunts on “Trash”). Highlights on their CD are “The spirit is gone”, “Greed”, “Masquerade” and “Soulless” (very melodic). Check this band out at:
http://www.insania-metal.de and e-mail them at: insania@insania-metal.de

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

ABSURD ‘DERNIERES SOMMATIONS’ (BRENNUS RECORDS)

ABSURD is a French band and their 2nd CD is titled ‘Dernieres sommations’. They play a somewhat typical 80s French Rock/Metal style, not far away from TRUST. What sets them apart from the standard Metal is that they inject into their music a sense of humour, which is best notable when the band performs on stage. Nevertheless, their songs still sound very professional, and some of their songs have some really good melodies, like “De la magie sur les tapis”, the semi-ballad “Tout seul dans mon slip” (a la SCORPIONS), “Casting” (uptempo melodic heavy rocker) and “Plus rien”. Although it isn’t as good as most other BRENNUS RECORDS releases, it’s still a good French Rock/Metal record.

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

VYNDYKATOR ‘HEAVEN SENT FROM HELL’ (UNISOUND)

This American band features members of of ALCHEMY X, including singer Bob Mitchell, but on this record of VYNDYKATOR he is more screaming a la PRIEST/UDO, so this is nothing like the Prog Metal of ALCHEMY X. The guitarists of VYNDYKATOR are very impressive, so instrumental it sounds perfect, but unfortunately the 6 included tracks fail to impress. This is pure 80s Metal with a strong ACCEPT/PRIEST orientated sound, with some 80s US Power Metal influences (“Rot in the chamber” and “Mr. Murder” a la HELSTAR), but in the end it’s only interesting for die-hard True Metal fans. On the other hand I respect the fact that VYNDYKATOR is making retro 80s Metal, but it’s not as good as I had hoped for. More info at:
http://www.vyndykator.net and e-mail at: stratchen@mmgpublish.com

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

HEAVY GUITARS ‘STRUCTURAL DAMAGE’ (BRENNUS RECORDS)

HEAVY GUITARS is a French duo that has released a very good instrumental Progressive Metal album. There are 11 tracks on the CD, and for almost 50 minutes it takes you through a journey of some lovely instrumental guitar orientated Progressive Metal a la SYMPHONY X, DREAM THEATER, MALMSTEEN... Songs like “Jawbreaker”, “Prelude” and “Crusin speed” are simply excellent! This is a must for fans of instrumental Prog Metal!

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

SHINE ‘SHINE’ (INDEPENDENT)

Out of Switzerland comes SHINE, a new Melodic Hardrockband and their 3-track CD was produced by SHAKRA guitarist Thomas Blunier. It’s a pity only 3 tracks are included, because it sounds very good, like a mix between SHAKRA, JADED HEART and FAIR WARNING. Opener “Go away” is a great uptempo Melodic rocker, but the absolute highlight of the disc is the fantastic semi melodic rockballad “The way to my heart”, which reminds me a lot of FAIR WARNING, and this song could easily become a huge hit! The final track “Go away” was recorded live, and is a nice uptempo melodic rocker. Concluded, this is a new sensational Swiss Melodic Rockband that can be added to the growing list of great Swiss bands, such as KROKUS, GOTTHARD, SHAKRA, CRYSTAL BALL, CRAZY SWEEPER etc. More info on SHINE at:
http://www.shine-music.ch and e-mail them at: shine_box@hotmail.com

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

KRLES ‘DEJTE PLAMENUM CO HORI/TO’ (INDEPENDENT)

KRLES is one of the first bands from the Czech Republic I get to hear and review, and must say I am impressed with them, because their 2 CDs sound really professional. The band has a great female lead singer called Simona Krtenova (who sings very raw, like BETSY/BITCH), a solid big instrumental Melodic Metalsound and strong catchy tunes. The music is like I said Melodic Metal, with influences from the 80s and today’s (Neo-Classical) Power Metalstyle. Their first CD from 1999 is called ‘Dejte plamenum’, and after seeing the title you will understand the band sings in their own language, but that’s not a problem, because the music sounds pretty good. Most of the songs are uptempo Melodic Heavy Rock/Metal songs like MAIDEN meets WARLOCK/DORO. The highlights on the first CD are “Zelezo, zlato a hnuj”, “Krav’n’roll”, “Notorhead”, “Esmeralda” and “Geronimo”. The follow-up is simply titled ‘To’, and was released in 2001. The musicstyle is still the same, so this one is also filled with great quality uptempo Melodic Metal, with as best songs here “To”, “Certi jciou”, “O cem vitr zpiva”, “Kletba” and “Ostrov dokladu”. In addition, this second CD is also better than their debut. This band is highly recommended to fans of Female Fronted Metal, and all Melodic Metal freaks! More info can be found at:
http://www.interdata.cz/samosprava/krles and e-mail them at: krles@interdata.cz

(Points: Dejte Plamenum: 8.0 out of 10/To: 8.5 out of 10)

ONZA ‘ZONA CREPUSCOLAR’ (MELLOW RECORDS)

ONZA comes out of Spain, and they have released their CD on MELLOW RECORDS, an Italian label. They play semi-instrumental Neo-Progressive Rock with some Jazz elements and also other influences, like the Spanish guitar, to make them sound different than most other Neo-Prog bands. And I must say it sounds pretty impressive. They remind me a bit of JADIS, and out of the 9 included tracks, the best songs are “Mi planta Alexandra”, “Cosmologia” and “Algo mas que un procesa”. Concluded, this is a recommended Neo-Prog band, more info at:
http://webs.ono.com/onzaweb and e-mail them at:
onzaweb@ono.com

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

UDO ‘NAILED TO METAL’ (AFM RECORDS/ROCK INC.)

‘Live in Russia’ was not a complete live-album for UDO, as most of the ACCEPT Classics were missed, and therefore they decided to release a new Live-album titled ‘Nailed to Metal’. This new live-CD contains about an hour of mostly ACCEPT songs, such as “Balls to the wall”, “Restless and wild”, “Fast as a shark”, “Metal heart” and “Holy”, so the fans get what they want, a true Live ACCEPT record in the shape of UDO! The sound/production is close to perfection, so get this record a.s.a.p. if you’re a fan of UDO/ACCEPT!

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem, except where noted)

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