HOT NEW REVIEWS

UPDATED NOVEMBER 14 - 2002

COASTLINE 'RESTLESS HEART, RESTLESS MIND'
(DEMO CDR)

We're back in Sweden again with the band COASTLINE. Their 4-track demo CDR has also brought me back into AOR HEAVEN, because the 4 included songs are all from the highest level you can get when it comes to pure Classic AOR. Trust me, COASTLINE is a very sensational band. They have a fantastic female lead singer called Helena Rosendahl, and also the songs are stunning. The band is playing purest AOR a la WITNESS, ALYSON AVENUE, HEART and the first two TONE NORUM (very much). Opener "Restless heart, restless mind" has a deadly catchy chorus and is basically a superb uptempo Classic AOR piece.

Next track "I'll get over you" is your typical strong midtempo AOR thing like HEART did in the late 1980s. The beautiful semi AOR ballad "Love's not everyone" follows and is very much reminding me of WITNESS. Closing track "Miracle" is stunning uptempo AOR a la the first two albums of TONE NORUM. Do I need to say more then the fact that this 4-track CDR will find it's way to my CD player a lot of times the coming months. The songs are all 4 wonderful, and besides, the production is very good, so nothing stands in my way to give this a super high rating. Now it's up to the AOR Labels to contact this band as soon as possible! E-mail them at: totteh@hotmail.com

Rating: 9,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

ARENA 'CONTAGION' (VERGLAS MUSIC/BERTUS)

Although the official release date for the new ARENA album is set for late January 2003, the promo CDs have already been sent out. After giving the new CD of UK Prog heroes ARENA a few spins, I am happy to announce this album is as good as anything the band released in the past. There are 16 tracks on the CD, and musically it is a continuation of the melodic Progressive Rock (with a slight harder edge) presented on the last couple of ARENA albums ('Immortal' and 'The visitor'). The first song "Witch hunt" starts a bit modern, but develops into a great strong midtempo melodic rocker. I need to add here that this first song has not much to offer for Prog fans, as it is a pretty much straightforward track.

The rest of the CD offers you the high quality Progressive Rock like ARENA does best. Highlights are "Painted man", "Spectre at the feast", "Never ending night" (nice keyboardwork by Clive), "Salamander" and my favourites "Cutting the cards" (lovely uptempo progressive melodic rocker) and closing track "Ascension" (very impressive epic slowtempo prog melodic rock that reminds me a bit of MAGNUM).

Concluded, the new ARENA album is definitely another winner for the fans of the band. I can not only recommend it to the Prog fan, but also the melodic rockfan will enjoy this CD a lot. The album has a lot to offer and is quite diverse in approach, but always offers strong melodic music. Without a doubt, ARENA is one of the best UK bands at the moment, and this new album will only make them stronger than ever!

Rating: 9/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

ALL TOO HUMAN 'ENTROPY' (R/R RECORDS)

HIGH CLASS PROGRESSIVE METAL is what we're talking about when saying the name ALL TOO HUMAN. This band is coming out of Texas, USA and everything on their debut CD 'Entropy' sounds perfect to call it a high quality progressive metal record. The band has a fantastic lead singer called Don DuZan, whose voice comes close to the likes of James LaBrie and Geoff Tate. Instrumental the band sounds really great, with excellent guitarwork by Clint Wilson and additional keyboardwork by none other than DEREK SHERINIAN (ex-DREAM THEATER). Besides, the production is very impressive for an independent record, and then the included 8 tracks are all very sensational excellent melodic progressive metal that combines the best of late 80s QUEENSRYCHE and DREAM THEATER.

I can't believe none of the European labels picked this up already, because this ALL TOO HUMAN sounds really HUGE! Most of the songs are quite long, making this 8-track CD a pleasure for almost an hour. My favourite tracks are "Haunted", "E-killer" (superb chorus) and "White stones" (lovely vocals, semi-ballad) and "Undone" (the perfect mix between QR and DT). If you're looking for a real high quality progressive metal record, then look no further because ALL TOO HUMAN is definitely one of the best bands in the independent scene. Highly recommended to fans of 80s QUEENSRYCHE, DREAM THEATER, SYMPHONY X, KAMELOT… More info at: http://www.alltoohuman.com and e-mail them at: mail@alltoohuman.com

Rating: 9/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

DIONYSUS 'SIGN OF TRUTH'
(AFM RECORDS/ROCK INC./BERTUS)

A few weeks ago I already heard the opening song of the debut CD of the new band DIONYSUS, and then I already knew this would be an awesome release. The song was called "Time will tell", a fantastic uptempo melodic heavy rocker with a very catchy chorus. The sound of the band is a mixture between EDGUY and AT VANCE, with a slight Progressive Metal influence here and there. One of the co-producers was none other than EDGUY/ AVANTASIA leader Tobias Sammet, so there's the EDGUY reference! DIONYSUS however has a clear sound of their own, and I also must inform you that this new band features a couple of well-known musicians. DIONYSUS exists of vocalist Olaf Hayer (singer of LUCA TURILLI's solo project), drummer Ronny Milianowicz (SINERGY), guitarist Johnny Ohlin (NATION), bassist Nobby (NATION) and keyboardplayer Kaspar Dahlqvist. DIONYSUS proclaims that they are a true BAND, and not a project like one might expect with such well-known names.

Anyway, there are 10 great songs on their debut CD, and like I said before the music is Melodic Power Metal with a dash of Progressive Metal and Melodic Hardrock. Besides opener "Time will tell", other highlights can be found in the shape of "Pouring rain" (great melodic Prog/Power Metal, strong sound like a mix between NATION, ARTENSION and ROYAL HUNT), "Anthem" (excellent melodic rocker), "Don't forget" (very strong typical 'German' melodic rockballad, a bit like SCORPIONS!), "Walk on fire" (very good 'catchy' midtempo progressive melodic rocker) and closing track "Loaded gun" (faster melodic Power Metal a la HELLOWEEN). Although some songs are a bit different, still this CD is a total must for fans of typical German Melodic Heavy Rock/Power Metal like EDGUY, HELLOWEEN, AT VANCE…

Rating: 8,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

BLACK MAJESTY 'SANDS OF TIME' (INDEPENDENT)

Australia is a strong small new 'undiscovered' market for new talented Progressive/Power Metal bands. In the footsteps of bands like BLACK STEEL, PEGAZUS, ANARION, VANISHING POINT, comes another new sensational band. They are called BLACK MAJESTY and the 3 songs on their independent record are from a very high level. This band can easily compete with the European scene (EDGUY/THY MAJESTY). The songs are great, but also the lead vocals of singer John 'Gio' Cavaliere are impressive. The line-up of BLACK MAJESTY also reveals the bassplayer of PEGAZUS, Hanny Mohamed, who now happens to play in 2 bands. There is a sense of family networking, because the lead singers of VANISHING POINT and PEGAZUS will also sang on a few songs on BLACK MAJESTY's upcoming full-length CD, while the BLACK MAJESTY lead singer also sings on songs with those 2 other great Aussie bands. Although there are only 3 songs on this CD, it's 20 minutes in length and from start to finish sensational melodic Prog/Power Metal in the best European tradition.

The first song is called "Fall of the reich", a great high quality uptempo melodic progressive metal tune in the style of BALANCE OF POWER and THY MAJESTY. Up next is "Guardian", another huge prog/power metal song with a very strong melodic chorus (and is a duet between John Cavaliere and ex-Pegazus singer Danny Cecati). Also closing track "Beyond reality" is a big melodic prog/power piece. Without any doubts, this band is a must for every fan of quality prog/power metal… More info can be found at: www.blackmajesty.com and e-mail them at: black_majesty@hotmail.com I look forward
to their first full-length album.

Rating: 9/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

SQUARE ONE 'LOVE STRUCK MELODY' (NORTHWEST RECORDS)

SQUARE ONE is another band from Australia, yet different than anything we reviewed from down under so far. Still, SQUARE ONE features a well-known musician, because no other than guitarist Stevie Janevski is a member of this band, and we just reviewed the demo of his other band BLACK MAJESTY. Although SQUARE ONE sounds quite modern, I really enjoyed their first (mini) CD. The album contains 2 full band tracks and 3 acoustic tunes. All the songs are very melodic and quite catchy in approach. Opener "Love struck melody" is a good catchy melodic poprocker with a catchy chorus and a style fitting somewhere between classic RICK SPRINGFIELD, ERIC MARTIN and the last NELSON record 'Life'. The next song "Hazy" has a very strong AORish chorus. The other 3 songs are the melodic acoustic pop/rock songs "Free flow feelings", "Rock n roll hysteria" and "Always with you" (pretty good). There's some good vocal work on this CD, and the songs are catchy and still updated for today's radio market, besides the CD has a strong sound quality, so nothing stands in the way for SQUARE ONE to make a breakthrough in their native country Australia. More info at: http://www.squareonemusic.com and e-mail them at: rising@unite.com.au or squareonemusic@yahoo.com.au

Rating: 8/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

VARIOUS ARTISTS 'LED ZEPPELIN TRIBUTE'
(LOCOMOTIVE MUSIC/ROCK INC./BERTUS)

This tribute to the legendary LED ZEPPELIN is nicely done, and features some well-known European Metalbands like ANGRA, PRIMAL FEAR, ELEGY, CONSORTIUM PROJECT, AXXIS and also DORO. The performances are very good of course, and most ZEPPELIN classics are covered, such as "Stairway to heaven" (WHITE SKULL), "Whole lotta love" (MAGO DE OZ with a big accent that will probably not be accepted by fans of ZEP), "Immigrant song" (one of the best performances, done by CONSORTIUM PROJECT), "Good times bad times" (AXXIS) and "Rock and roll" (by Dutch Prog Metal heroes ELEGY). A true ZEPPELIN fan will probably ignore this tribute, but the true Metal fan will appreciate this release, because he/she now is able to hear old ZEPPELIN classics in a new 'true Metal' version.

Rating: 8/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

REQUIEM 'DEMO CDR' (PLAY RECORDS)

A few weeks ago I discussed a CD of a new Finish band called REQUIEM. Well, now we're heading into Slovenia with another group called REQUIEM. This band however was formed 9 years ago and already released 3 albums. In the past I heard quite a few bands from the Slovenia and former Yugoslavia area, of which I recall SHANK ROCK as one of the most well known bands. Anyway, I think this REQUIEM easily beats every band I've ever heard from that area, because the 4 songs on their demo CDR sound quite superb! The band has a very good lead singer (guitarist/keyboardplayer Sergei Skofljanec) and their music is excellent melodic heavy rock in the style of URIAH HEEP and RAINBOW.

Although this is a demo CDR, the sound and production is very impressive. Opener "Mr. Twister" is a great strong midtempo melodic hardrocksong. Up next is "Jealouseye", a nice slow heavy rocker with some Blues influences, kinda like a mix between URIAH HEEP, DEEP PURPLE, HUGHES TURNER PROJECT and RAINBOW. "Revolution" is one of the highlights, as this is a fantastic midtempo melodic rocker in the best URIAH HEEP tradition. Closing track "Magic" has keys upfront, and is another good midtempo melodic rocker. I can't wait to hear the full-length CD of REQUIEM, due for release in February 2003. In the meantime, e-mail them at: rockerija@siol.net

Rating: 8,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

POOR GENETIC MATERIAL 'LEAP INTO FALL' (QUIXOTE MUSIC)

'Leap into fall' is the new CD of German progrockers POOR GENETIC MATERIAL. Its their 4th CD, and the second with lead singer Philip Griffiths (ALIAS EYE). Philip is very important for this release, because this man has one of the best voices in Germany, in fact at the moment he is one of the best vocalists in the whole world! The music of POOR GENETIC MATERIAL is high quality melodic neo-prog in the style of CAIRO, ENCHANT, ICE AGE… Opener "Rush of ages" is a fantastic song with of course excellent lead vocals, but also the song itself is superb Neo-prog from a very high level. Next track "Thin red line" is a calmer semi-ballad, but again very melodic. "Star of Eden" is more akin to THE FLOWER KINGS, while one of my other favourites of this CD is definitely the fun uptempo Sympho melodic rocker "Leap into fall" that even has a catchy chorus! Following track "Antares" is just nice prog rock, while the short "Fall" closes this wonderful CD. Although only 6 songs are included, most of them are progwise long in length, so this album still has a playing time of more than 45 minutes. This album is filled with superb high quality melodic neo-progressive rock and is a must for every fan of bands like CAIRO, ICE AGE, ENCHANT… More info at: http://www.quiXote-music.de

Rating: 8,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

HEAT 'DEMO CDR' (DEMO CDR)

Do not confuse this HEAT with the 2 German bands with the same name, the 80s THE HEAT from the USA or the Dutch THE HEAT! This HEAT comes out of the UK and they sent me a good 5-track demo CDR. It's a pity the production isn't that big, because the music is very good late 80s orientated US Melodic Rock a la TRIXTER, FIREHOUSE, WINGER, BON JOVI, NELSON… The CDR starts however with the groovy melodic rocker "Rock me" that has more in common with British bands like SKIN, THUNDER, LITTLE ANGELS… Up next is the great melodic rockballad "Say little sister", a song close to FIREHOUSE and 80s BON JOVI ballads. The following 2 songs ("The other side of me" and "Today") are good catchy uptempo melodic rockers a la DIRTY BLONDE, TRIXTER, SLAUGHTER, NELSON etc. Closing track is the melodic rockballad "Drive my mind". This HEAT is a promise for the future of British melodic rock. More info at: http://www.heatuk.com and e-mail them at: chris@chrisnugent.co.uk

Rating: 7,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

WIREDS 'NELLO SPECCHIO' (INDEPENDENT)

WIREDS is coming out of Italy, and 'Nello specchio' is their third CD. They sing in the Italian language, but that doesn't matter too much, because the music remains to be high quality melodic Prog/Power Metal. They remind me of a mix between TIERRA SANTA and early QUEENSRYCHE/FATES WARNING/CRIMSON GLORY. There are 8 songs on the CD and from start to finish it's all quality melodic prog/power metal what we get to hear. Highlights are "Oro" (great epic melodic prog metal, very much like early QUEENSRYCHE), "Versus" (great faster uptempo melodic power metal, very catchy and super melodic) and "Confine" (good quality uptempo melodic metal). I can highly recommend this band to any fan of Melodic Metal. More info at: http://www.wireds.it and e-mail them at: info@wireds.it

Rating: 8,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

ANDEAVOR 'ONCE UPON TIME' (PMM)

Out of the USA comes ANDEAVOR, a fantastic melodic progressive rock/metal band. They released this CD 'Once upon time' back in 1999, but this is the first time I was able to hear it and because it is such a fantastic album, I had to do a review. The music of ANDEAVOR is very much in the style of SHADOW GALLERY, SYMPHONY X, ARTENSION… The band has a great melodic lead singer (Douglas Peck), who also plays bass and keyboards. From start to finish it's all quality melodic prog metal what we get to hear and with a comfortable 71 minutes of playing time, this CD surely is worth investing your money, especially if SHADOW GALLERY, CAIRO, ICE AGE, SYMPHONY X and those type of US Melodic Prog. Rock/Metal bands are your cup of tea.

My favourite tracks are "Heaven's gate" (great midtempo melodic prog rock/metal a la ARTENSION, SYMPHONY X), "One more day" (lovely progressive AOR), "Jigsaw" (pure SYMPHONY X), "Face paint" (midtempo melodic prog metal), "Anybody's guess?" (great calmer semi ballad a la SHADOW GALLERY) and "House of rags" (lovely melodic progressive rock a la SYMPHONY X again, best song on the whole CD). This CD is a total must if you're into any of the mentioned bands… More info at: http://www.pmm-music.net and e-mail them at: lenrod@aol.com

Rating: 8,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

GRATTO 'ANAKIN TUMNUS' (PMM)

Former ANDEAVOR guitarist Chris Rodler has just released the debut CD with his new project GRATTO. I don't know if ANDEAVOR doesn't exist anymore, but GRATTO is happily also a quality band. Musically they play 70s orientated progressive rock with many tempo changes and long instrumental passages, although the songs are all built up to a climax melodic chorus. Some references to bands like ECHOLYN, early GENESIS and FISH can easily be made, but in the end GRATTO has a sound of it's own. There are only 3 songs on the CD, but still it has a playing length of 36 minutes. Best song is closing track "Shift", a stunning Progressive Rocksong with many tempo changes. This is a definite winner for fans of quality progressive rock! More info at: http://www.pmm-music.net and e-mail them at: lenrod@aol.com

Rating: 7,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

RH FACTOR 'RODLER/HULTBERG' (PMM)

Besides GRATTO and ANDEAVOR, guitarist Chris Rodler is also playing in the band RH FACTOR, although I doubt if this band still exists, because their only CD dates back to 1998. The included songs were recorded in the early 1990s, so this is not really a recent album, but still the featured music is good quality progressive rock that reminds me a bit of RUSH, SAGA and Dutch Neo-Prog bands like CLIFFHANGER and WINGS OF STEEL. The best songs are the uptempo melodic progressive rockers "Miracle of great device", "Lifetime", "Handed down" and "Winter in July" (great fast uptempo melodic chorus). This RH FACTOR CD is a nice progressive rockalbum, but not sensational. More info at: http://www.pmm-music.net and e-mail them at: lenrod@aol.com

Rating: 7,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

ASIA 'ARMED TO THE TEETH' (THE WILD PLACES)

No, this is not the UK band ASIA that scored massive with wonderful songs like "Heat of the moment", "Don't cry" and "Sole survivor". This ASIA comes from America and was even years before the British ASIA active. They played a mixture of AOR, Progressive Rock and Pomprock, like a mix between RUSH and LE ROUX. In the late 1970s they released 2 records that have now been re-issued onto 1 CD. The CD contains 12 tracks and comes with an extensive story written by guitarist/ keyboardplayer Mike Coates.

Opener "Thunder rider" is probably the best track on the CD, because this is prime time late 1970s AOR/Pomprock like ROADMASTER, LE ROUX… The song has a super strong melodic chorus and in general, a great high class sound that could (and still can) easily compete with the big bands in this genre. Also next track "Xanadu" is a great Progressive AOR/Pomprocker. Not all songs were convincing unfortunately, because a song like "Kamikaze" was a weak rocker. However, mostly this ASIA was a great band with many outstanding songs, such as "Paladin" (great very melodic semi-AOR/Pomp ballad/rocker), "Love may be gone" (another great Prog/Pomprocker) and "The taming of the bull" (lovely epic HUGE Progressive melodic rocker, 9 minutes playing length). ASIA had a sound of it's own, but if you like old RUSH and perhaps HUSH (the UK band with Robert Berry), then you will love this, although also fans of classy 70s Pomprock will love this CD I think. More info at: http://www.wldplace@cruzio.comm and e-mail guitarist Mike Coates at: wldplace@cruzio.comm

Rating: 8,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

RENAISSANCE 'IN THE LAND OF THE RISING SUN'
(GIANT ELECTRIC PEA)

'In the land of the rising sun' is the new live double CD from RENAISSANCE, a legendary female fronted folk orientated calmer progressive pop/rock band. Most of the songs are acoustic driven and are very calm in approach. The music tends to be folkish progressive rock, but is more akin to Celtic Sympho Pop, but from a very high level and quite unique in relation to other bands in this genre. This is mainly due to the fact the band has a female lead singer who does a very good job, especially on this live CD. CD 1 is very calm, but on CD 2 RENAISSANCE shows they are a prog band, because some of the included songs on this CD are good long progressive rockers, with as highlight closing track "Ashes are burning", a 20-minutes counting epic progrocker. If you're a fan of the band, you're gonna love this new live CD. If you never heard something of the band, this is a good way to start. More info at: http://www.enteract.com/~nlights/

Rating: 7,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

ENTROPHIA 'IN GLORY I'LL DIE' (DEMO CDR)

Just 17 years of age and already this young band is trying to make melodic power metal in the style of STRATOVARIUS, SONATA ARCTICA… Although instrumental it all sounds pretty good, the included 3 songs on their demo are not as strong as their well-known countrymen. Also vocally it isn't that good, so there's a lot to do in the future for ENTROPHIA. Still, the band has potency to become better, because a song like "Dead roses" is very nice midtempo melodic heavy rock with catchy keyboardwork. Also the production is very impressive, but I think a future release will probably learn us more about the situation of ENTROPHIA. Check 'em out at: http://entrophia.cjb.net and e-mail them at: entrophia_band@hotmail.com

Rating: 7/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

JOE DAVIS 'CAN'T STOP ME' (INDEPENDENT)

Out of North Carolina comes guitarist/vocalist Joe Davis. He sent me his CD 'Can't stop me', an album with real Retro-rock feeling. The music is simple 70s/80s straightforward uptempo HR/Metal with a southern/blues-touch here and there. It all reminds me of a mix between a heavy WHITESNAKE, Y&T and early BAD COMPANY, with very raw lead vocals by Joe. It's like if you love one song, you will love the whole CD, all 14 tracks. Although it's not a sensational record, I can easily say it's a quality Rock record with a real Classic 70s Hardrock approach, not heard in a long time. Fans of mentioned bands can get away with this CD, and will love songs like "You can't stop me", "Rock soldier" and "Swamp woman". More info on Joe at: http://www.joedavis.com and e-mail him at: karenwagoner@ctc.net

Rating: 6,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

ALICE PROJECT 'OVERNIGHT SUCCESS' (INDEPENDENT)

This is a very soft CD by a band formed around female guitarist/vocalist Alice. She has a good voice, but the songs presented here are just too soft for us I think. The music on 'Overnight success' is soft 'acoustic' pop/rock ("Big fish", "Puke", "Nobody makes it overnight" and "Where are all the worlds") with some quirky poprock moments every now and then ("Lilly with an attitude"). It sounds to me like a mix between KARLA DE VITO and LINDA RONDSTAD, but apart from a semi-rocker like "Ready to play", this is way too soft for all you rockers out there. Nevertheless, if you appreciate soft female fronted pop/rock, then you can have a listen to do this at: http://www.thealiceproject.com and e-mail at: Aliceproj@aol.com

Rating: 6/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

FREEWHEELER 'FREEWHEELER' (INDEPENDENT)

This is a British band and their 3-track CD contains good old simple rock'n'roll a la AC/DC, ZZ TOP, with a clear ROLLING STONES influence. I am not so excited about this kind of rock, but FREEWHEELER does it very well, and they can easily compete with bands like BLACK CROWES, DOGS D'AMOUR, ELECTRIC BOYS etc. More info at: http://www.dreamwater.org/music/freewheeler and e-mail them at: galaxy@freewheeler.fslife.co.uk

Rating: 6/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

GRAYSCALE 'WHEN THE GHOSTS ARE GONE'
(SOUND RIOT RECORDS/ROCK INC.)

When I saw GRAYSCALE was a Finish band, I was hoping for another STRATOVARIUS clone, but unfortunately this band has nothing to do with STRATOVARIUS. This band is trying to mix Power Metal with Doom/Gothic/Industrial Metal, and they completely fail! Instrumental it sounds pretty nice, but the lead vocals are terrible! You can better invest your money into other quality melodic power metalbands from Finland, such as THUNDERSTONE, DREAMTALE, CELESTY etc.

Rating: 4/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

VARIOUS ARTISTS 'PROGFEVER VOLUME 1' (QUIXOTE MUSIC)

This compilation CD of the German label QUIXOTE MUSIC is dedicated to the victims of the disastrous flooding in East Germany. Included are 12 songs by 12 German bands, of which most are quite unknown. The good thing is that this is a really high quality release with great songs. Most of them are also hard to get, so purchasing this CD will please the buyer with good music and will please as well the victims of the flooding. The music included ranges from Progressive Rock to Progressive/Power Metal. Now let's talk about the highlights. First off the band VIOLET DISTRICT, their 12-minutes counting high quality neo-prog song "Principles of alternation" reminds me a lot of IQ, PENDRAGON… This song was also previously unreleased, so a must for all Prog fans!

Also very impressive is the fantastic uptempo AOR/Pomp/Sympho song "At the end of life" by CROMWELL, a song sounding a lot like ASIA, THE CHAPTER, BLIND OWL… Also this song is an unreleased tune! Up next is a new band called ZHORN and their good catchy uptempo progressive melodic rocker "Of swords and kisses" (a song with a strong chorus and a nice keyboardsound) is in the SAGA style. Their debut album will be released soon. POOR GENETIC MATERIAL doesn't need any introduction here, but their song "The lady stands" is worth mentioning, as it is an alternate mix of a track from their new CD 'Leap into fall'. The 2 'Metal' bands on this compilation CD are ANGUISH and DREADFUL MINDS. ANGUISH's song "Symmetry" is taken from their recent CD, and is a fantastic strong uptempo melodic prog metal song a la THRESHOLD.

DREADFUL MINDS is a new band and their song "Lost my heart" is an excellent melodic prog metal like a mix between ZANDELLE and VANDENPLAS. The other bands included are CINNAMONIA, INES PROJECT, HIGH WHEEL, T, ZENOBIA and CHRASS, of which also some are unreleased, so two reasons why purchasing this great compilation CD! More info at: http://www.quiXote-music.de

Rating: 8/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

ED JAMES 'POPROCKET' (JAM RECORDS)

Out of North Carolina, USA comes ED JAMES, and he does everything on his own. A few years ago I reviewed his debut, a great melodic poprock release a la RICK SPRINGFIELD, and now Ed has released a new solo-CD. In between these 2 solo-albums, he released a fantastic AOR CD under the moniker THE TRADE (I still play such brilliant pure AOR songs like "Windows", "Perfect world" and "Best laid plans" that had hooks all over the place). Now Ed has a new solo-CD out, and the album is a bit more updated melodic poprock, not unlike the recent NELSON album 'Life'. Of course the RICK SPRINGFIELD influences are still here and there to be heard (such as the guitar riff of "Jessie's girl" on the song "Emily"), but in general this is a good updated melodic poprockalbum filled with catchy tunes, although it definitely isn't as good as THE TRADE or Ed's first solo-CD. Highlights on the CD are the catchy uptempo melodic poprockers "Rocketship", "Cobwebs" and "December girl". A nice album, but I hope Ed releases another CD as THE TRADE in the future, because that would be more interesting. Nevertheless if you enjoy good quality poprock then go to: http://edjames.net and e-mail him at: meetedjames@yahoo.com

Rating: 7,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

CRAZY SWEEPER 'BACKSLIDERS' (INDEPENDENT)

Swiss rockers CRAZY SWEEPER have a new album out and I must say that this is their best effort so far. 'Backsliders' is a great melodic hardrockalbum that can easily compete with other Swiss bands like GOTTHARD, CRYSTAL BALL and SHAKRA. The production is big and the 10 included tracks are great melodic hardrock pieces. Highlights are the uptempo melodic HR songs "Back to the real life", "Surrender" and "God bless our souls" and the semi melodic rockballad "Love pretender". Fans of SHAKRA, GOTTHARD, KROKUS, CRYSTAL BALL etc. can easily buy the new CD of CRAZY SWEEPER. More info at: http://www.crazysweeper.com

Rating: 8/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

ANTHELION 'LINES X' (DEMO CDR)

When I was in Rome a few weeks ago it surprised me how less music could be heard on the streets and I even could not find a decent recordstore, but still every now and then I receive great demos/cds from bands out of Rome, so there's indeed a small scene in one of the greatest cities on earth. One of those bands is ANTHELION. Their 4-track demo CDR sounds very good and can easily be classified as a high quality melodic prog metal release. They sound a bit like TIME MACHINE, although the vocal approach is slightly different here. The best tracks are the uptempo melodic prog metal songs "Dirty right man" (strong chorus) and "Son of a lie" (great keys and again great chorus). So, basically this ANTHELION is another quality-unsigned band from Italy. More info on them at: http://anthelion.iuma.com and soon www.anthelion.it (under construction at the moment) and e-mail them at: allanon@stargazer.it

Rating: 8/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

AOR 'L.A. REFLECTION' (INDEPENDENT)

The AOR Project by the French guitarist/keyboardplayer Frederic Slama has a new CD out. It's titled 'L.A. Reflection' and is the 3rd CD of AOR. Again Frederic has a stunning list of guest musicians helping him out on his CD. None other than guitarists Michael Landau, Tommy Denander and Bruce Gaitsch, lead singers like Goran Edman, Michael Ruff and David Chamberlin and the whole TOTO band make an appearance on this CD. So, it's all quality what we get to hear and this new CD of AOR has a definite more AOR (!) approach than the Westcoast orientated processors. There are 14 tracks included (of which 2 bonustracks) and 4 of them are pure AOR. These are also the best songs of the CD. I am talking about "Sensation" (great 80s AOR a la I-TEN), "A quiet storm" (very strong big AOR rocker), "Leave her to heaven" (fantastic big uptempo AOR) and "The moon is a liar" (great AOR rocker). This is really AOR all the way and if the whole CD would sound like this, then we could speak of one of the top AOR records!

Although the rest of the CD is poppier, I can still say that this is an essential release. Besides the mentioned 4 fantastic tracks, other good songs are the calmer AOR songs "If no one cared" (like FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS), "So young and innocent" (a la JOHN ELEFANTE), "Dream them away" (like DAVID ROBERTS meets TOTO), "Far away from the storm" and the very soft JOURNEY/STEVE PERRYish AOR/Pop ballads "How will she find her way back?" and "I know you too well". Furthermore there's an old recorded song called "5492" with the late great Jeff Porcaro on drums, 2 versions of the 70s orientated Soul/Poptune "Never gonna let her go" and the Popsong "Worlds away". It's not always a pure AOR record, but there are some really wonderful pure AOR tunes on this CD, so the fans of the genre know what to purchase when seeing this CD in their local record store. The CD is available through: http://www.aorheaven.com and e-mail at: fredericslama@hotmail.com

Rating: 8/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

INJURIA 'AMANECER DE UN SUENO' (HEAVEN RECORDS)

INJURIA is a band from Argentina, and their debut CD on the label HEAVEN RECORDS is a high quality melodic power metal release. The band sings in the Spanish language, and you can easily put them next to such quality bands like TIERRA SANTA, RATA BLANCA, SARATOGA, AVALANCH… From the very first few seconds until the very end of the band's CD 'Amenecer de un sueno' it's high quality melodic power metal. The band has a very good singer, and all included songs are very strong. Most of the songs are uptempo, of which my favourites are "La Utopia", "Sera la ultima", "Paideia", "Angel", "Cancion de los vientos" and "Zona de aguante". It seems there's a big scene for melodic heavy rock/power metal in Argentina, so I hope to do some more research on this in the near future. In the meantime, INJURIA is one of the first real good Power Metal bands to appear on our website. Check out their site at: http://www.injuria.cjb.net and e-mail them at: injuriaheavymetal@hotmail.com

Rating: 8,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

DISTILLERIE DI MALTO 'IL MANUALE DEI PICCOLI DISCORSI' (DEMO CDR)

This is an Italian band, and their CD only contains 5 tracks, but still has a playing length of nearly 50 minutes, so I think you know what kind of music the band DISTILLERIE DI MALTO is playing. The music of this band is Progressive Rock, and then I mean really progressive in a way THE FLOWER KINGS also does. They are clearly influenced by 70s Progressive Rock, with all it's complex rhythms and long instrumental passages. The best song is definitely "Aria e vento", a strong progressive rocker with great lead vocals. The other songs are a challenge for the dedicated Progressive Rockfan, who can
explore and find a lot of interesting things happening on this CD. Better check it out for yourself at:
http://www.distilleriedimalto.it and e-mail them at: info@distilleriedimalto.it

Rating: 8/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

EXCELSIS 'TALES OF TELL' (INDEPENDENT)

Out of Switzerland comes EXCELSIS, a so-called helvetic folk power metal band. Their music sounds like a cross between BLIND GUARDIAN, IRON SAVIOR and SKYCLAD. The songs are good and the CD has a big sound, but I have a tiny problem with the lead vocals. Nowadays most metalbands have a melodic lead singer, but EXCELSIS has an aggressive singer who has a voice that would be more suitable for Death/Thrash Metal and not Power Metal! It's not that the songs are bad, because songs like "Tell" and "Hillflames on high" are great melodic folkish Power Metalsongs, but the lead vocals are a bit disappointing. They remind me of GRAVE DIGGER and ICED EARTH, but then even a bit more aggressive (almost Thrash), so you know what to expect from this band. It's quality Power Metal, but the vocals are slightly different than the usual stuff. Check 'em out for yourself at: http://www.excelsis.ch and e-mail them at: excelsis@excelsis.ch

Rating: 7,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

SILENT FATE 'SILENT FATE' (INDEPENDENT)

This American band is trying to mix modern aggressive (and terrible!) Nu-Metal with clean Progressive Metal (DREAM THEATER), just like the band PAIN OF SALVATION. To be honest I hope they drop the Nu-Metal influences, because SILENT FATE can surely make good prog metal (like we can hear on songs like "A new beginning", "I wait" and "Without you"). Now we have to hear those annoying Nu-Metal grunts on songs like "Dig", "Torn open" and "Broken empty". A pity, because the band can sound quite melodic (just listen to the great chorus of "A new beginning"). If you're a fan of PAIN OF SALVATION you might like this a lot. More info at: http://www.mp3.com/silentfate and e-mail them at: management@silent-fate.com

Rating: 6/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

BONFIRE 'LIVE OVER EUROPE'
(LZ RECORDS/POINT MUSIC/ROCK INC./BERTUS)

One of the best German Melodic Hradrockbands ever has released another Live-CD. This new CD was recorded during their 2002 Golden Bullets Tour and contains 17 tracks, ranging from songs out of their early period ("Hot to rock", "Don't touch the light", "Sweet obsession", "American nights") and from their latest releases ("Don't go changin' me", "Daytona nights", "Heat in the glow" and "Until the last goodbye"). If you are familiar with the band, you know what to expect from BONFIRE on this live-CD. From start to finish takes more than 70 minutes of fun melodic rock with a strong sing-a-long level. It's over before you know it! The production and sound quality is very good and if you never heard them live, then this CD shows you how good they are live on stage. It's also a good CD to start with if you want to know how BONFIRE sounds like, because 'Live over Europe' contains some of the best BONFIRE songs from almost every album they released (they even included 2 songs from their commercial record 'Point blank').

Rating: 8,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

KEDRON PORTER 'NEW HORIZON' (INDEPENDENT)

'New horizon' is the new CD by the talented multi-instrumentalist KEDRON PORTER from Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. On the album we can hear a variety of styles, and also 6 different lead singers (both male and female). The CD contains 13 tracks and has a very good production. Besides vocal songs, there are also quite a few instrumental tracks. The songs are a mixture of calm Progressive Rock, Popmusic and some New Age influences can be heard here and there. The best songs are the melodic poprockers with guest singer Jeanette Carolina, especially "Mercurial one" and "I walk alone" are good uptempo rockers. The rest of the CD is much calmer, and with the use of acoustic guitars, a very quiet so-called 'listen-album'. It's definitely something different than what we normally review on this site, but if you're open-minded then go to: www.3graphics.com and e-mail Kedron at: Kedron@3graphics.com

Rating: 7/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

MARTIGAN 'MAN OF THE MOMENT' (INDEPENDENT)

Germany is really a big market for Neo-Progressive Rockbands, because the past few years we have had so many new bands in this genre, and even today there are popping up new bands everywhere. In the past few weeks we have seen 3 Neo-Progressive Rockbands from Germany releasing their 2nd album. Somewhere else you can read reviews of the new albums of SONIQ THEATER and THE VOW, but now I would like to inform you about the 2nd CD of MARTIGAN, a great Neo-Progressive Rockband that hasn't been reviewed before on our site. Although the band's lead singer (Kai Marckwordt) has a voice similar to Phil Collins, the music played on 'Man of the moment' is big Neo-Prog in the best tradition of IQ, PENDRAGON and very early GENESIS.

The CD contains 10 long well-produced tracks and with a playing length of more than 70 minutes, this is a total must for the fans of true Neo-Prog. Highlights include "The pride", "Out of sight", "Closer contact", "The feast" and "Images and tales", all pure Neo-Progressive Rocksongs a la IQ, PENDRAGON, JADIS, ARENA, PALLAS… My favourite track however is the superb early 80s Pomprocker "Permission" that reminds me of URBAN TALE. The song has a deadly catchy chorus, excellent keyboardwork and some lovely second lead vocalwork (by guest singer Mirko Baumer - who sings on a few more songs and proves to be a superb singer, I wonder if he has an own band as well?). Anyway, this CD is a must for every Neo-Prog fan. More info at: http://www.martigan.de and e-mail them at: oliver@martigan.de

Rating: 8,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

WYCKED SYNN 'PROMO' (CASSELL RECORDS)

Out of Mesa, Arizona, USA comes the band WYCKED SYNN. This band sent me a sensational 4-track demo-CDR that contains a mixture of European Melodic Metal and American Melodic Hardrock. The band has a great strong lead singer, and in general the sound of WYCKED SYNN reminds me of a typical German band. The CDR starts with the quality melodic heavy rocker "In my mind" that sounds like a mix between SCORPIONS and AXXIS. Up next is the great uptempo melodic metal song "The savior" that has a very strong European touch. Then comes the excellent 80s inspired uptempo melodic
hardrocksong "If you said goodbye" that sounds like DOKKEN and NORWAY. A very good song, and although different from the other songs, this is absolutely the highlight of the disc, although I am afraid some will say it is obviously too 80s orientated. Anyway, the CDR closes with the uptempo melodic metal piece "Till the end". Conclusion is that this WYCKED SYNN is highly recommended to fans of quality melodic hardrock/metal and therefore I advise you to check out the band's website at:
http://www.angelfire.com/indie/wyckedsynn/

Rating: 8/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

KAMINARI 'KAMINARI' (INDEPENDENT)

Here's another quality band from Germany! They are called KAMINARI and Achim Kohler (PRIMAL FEAR, SINNER) produced their first CD, so the sound of the album is very impressive. The music of KAMINARI is also quite good, mostly traditional melodic heavy rock with some references to a band like GOTTHARD. Highlights are the slowtempo "My black colors (strong melodic chorus), "Stairway to the galaxy" (great 80s uptempo melodic hardrock) and "Guardian angel" (good strong uptempo melodic metal). KAMINARI is definitely a good band and a must to check out if you want to hear clean quality melodic heavy rock/metal. More info at: http://www.kaminari-music.de and e-mail them at: thunder@kaminari-music.de

Rating: 8/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

ROUSSEAU 'AT THE CINEMA' (MUSEA RECORDS)

In the 1980s this German band released 3 albums and now after 14 years they have managed to release a new CD. The album is titled 'At the cinema' and contains soft music that is very ballad-orientated. ROUSSEAU's music contains elements of AOR/Pomp, Prog and pure Popmusic. The first song, "Now or never", is a great start, because this is a very good semi-AOR/Pomprock/Sympho ballad in the style of ASIA. Unfortunately the rest of the CD is weaker and very Pop based, with such boring songs like "All I want", "If this is heaven", "Back in these arms" and "Shortcut to somewhere". I guess this CD is only interesting for the fans of ROUSSEAU…

Rating: 6/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

THE VOW 'TROJAN' (MUSEA RECORDS)

'Trojan' is the 2nd CD of the German Neo-Prog band THE VOW. The new album is quite an adventure, because the 71 minutes are a guarantee for high quality neo-Progressive Rockmusic with strong lead vocals and many interesting instrumental parts (with brilliant keyboardwork), making this album a must for fans of IQ, PENDRAGON, JADIS and THE FLOWER KINGS. The best songs are "The old and wise man", "Close to the sky" (a la FLOWER KINGS), "In the maze" (many tempo changes, calm, rough and melodic at the same time) and "Under the apple tree". Nothing stands in my way to give this CD a big recommendation to fans of mentioned bands…

Rating: 8,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

SONIQ THEATER 'A SECOND OF ACTION' (INDEPENDENT)

'A second of action' is the second CD of multi-instrumentalist Alfred Mueller from Germany, and again he has released a great album. Alfred has done everything on his own, and I must say it sounds very impressive. The music is high quality instrumental Neo-Prog with lovely keyboardwork all throughout the CD. Highlights are "The gold rush", "Elephant race", "Seventh crusade" and "Gulliver's travels". This CD will give you almost one hour of pleasure. It's a total must for fans of high quality (instrumental) Neo-Progressive Rock. More info at: http://soniqtheater.progjet.com and e-mail him at: andromadeus@12move.de

Rating: 8,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

IRON MAIDEN 'EDWARD THE GREAT' (EMI RECORDS/CMM MUSIC)

No, this is not a new album by the legendary British Metal outfit, but a best of containing some of the finest songs they made in their career. Maybe it's not interesting for the IRON MAIDEN fan, because all included songs can be found on the band's particular albums, but for people who want to hear how good quality 80s melodic metal sounded like should purchase this CD, as this album reflects the 80s Metal sound perfectly. It's great to hear such classic tunes like "Run to the hills", "Flight of icarus", "Wasted years", "Can I play with madness", "2 minutes to midnight" and "The number of the beast". It's pretty nostalgic to hear the songs again I grew up with in the 1980s and it is only hoping that MAIDEN will ever make such great music like they did on fantastic albums like 'Seventh son of a seventh son' and 'Somewhere in time'. The future will teach us more I think; in the meantime this is a nice collection of pure MAIDEN classics.

Rating: - (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

STEVE HOWE 'SKYLINE' (INSIDE OUT/CMM MUSIC)

YES guitarist STEVE HOWE has a new solo-CD out. The album is called 'Skyline' and is basically a big step away from the music he produces with YES, because this CD is filled with calm atmospheric and very peaceful instrumental music. The fans of YES might like what they hear and I am not saying it's bad at all, but it's not really interesting for any of the AOR/Prog/Metal freaks that visit our site. However, it's a nice break for people who tend to hear something totally different than the usual rocking stuff.

Rating: - (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

 

SEBASTIAN BACH 'BRING 'EM BACH ALIVE'
(SPITFIRE RECORDS/CMM MUSIC)

Former SKID ROW's album 'Bring 'em bach alive' was released in 1999, but is now getting a re-release through the SPITFIRE RECORDS label. The album contains 16 tracks, of which I believe 12 are recorded live in Japan and 5 new studiotracks. The new songs are not really special, as they offer a very heavy groovy kinda Metalsound that sounds like a mix between the 70s and 90s. However, the old SKID ROW classics performed live are pretty good, such as the (semi) ballads "18 and life", "I remember you", "The most powerful man in the world" (a new song I believe) and "In a darkened room" and of course the good old heavy rockers "Youth gone wild", "Monkey business" and "Slave to the grind". Personally I wasn't always enthusiastic about SKID ROW, but this live CD proves that on stage Sebastian Bach can easily sing his songs, sometimes melodic, but also every now and then aggressive. Now it's up to Sebastian to release a new studio album, although I believe he is planning a Broadway show the coming 2 years!

Rating: 7,5/10 (Review by Gabor Kleinbloesem)

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