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HOT NEW REVIEWS UPDATED ON JULY 17 - 2007

OCTAVIA SPERATI ‘GRACE SUBMERGED’ (CANDLELIGHT/BERTUS)

In 2005 the all-female band OCTAVIA SPERATI from Norway released their impressive debut CD ‘Winter enclosure’ and now 2 years later a follow-up is finished and without a doubt, the band is sounding as good as back then, maybe even better. The guitar riffs are HUGE, truly reaching BLACK SABBATH 1970 style, loud, big and very Doom Metalish, also reminding of CANDLEMASS. What makes the band so special is the fact they mix this dark heavy sound with superb melodies, with a lot of harmonyvocals and also excellent lead vocalwork, very melodic and even catchy, with as absolute highlight the SUPERB song “Moonlit” that has such an amazing chorus, but also “… and then the world Froze” which mixes the best of RACHEL RACHEL, DELAIN and BLACK SABBATH into an own sound! Yes, you read that well, because this band has created an own sound which is melodic dark and heavy at the same time. These girls combine pure BLACK SABBATH/CANDLEMASS’s dark doomy guitarsound with VIXEN/HEART/RACHEL RACHEL like melodies, AOR meets DOOM METAL with clean female vocals is the best way to describe the sound of OCTAVIA SPERATI! More info at: www.octavia-sperati.com 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

CHRIS POLAND ‘RETURN TO METALOPOLIS’ (LION MUSIC/BERTUS)

A short new CD of guitarist CHRIS POLAND (ex-MEGADETH), instrumental for the most part and for a guitarfreak worth checking out. On the other hand, nothing new on the horizon here, just your basic instrumental guitar based Metal, with here and there some strange ZAPPAish vocals.

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

ERA VULGARIS ‘WHAT STIRS WITHIN’ (OPEN YOUR EARS MUSIC)

Irish band playing Progressive Metal, yet with some screaming vocals here and there, so not all that clear, although the riffs and melodic choruses definitely make this a pure Progmetalband. Similarities to PAIN OF SALVATION and NEVERMORE are very clear here, because the Progmetal is definitely a bit aggressive here and there and not as polished as for example a THRESHOLD. The band was formed back in 2004 and now release their debut CD with this ‘What stirs within’. The riffs are quite good, but sadly the melodies are not that strong and there is also way too much screaming to call this a real Melodic Progmetal, because I rather would call this band a progmetalact with influences from Metalcore and Thrash. Check out their sites at: www.eravulgaris.com and http://www.myspace.com/eravulgaris 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

ARI KOIVUNEN 'FUEL FOR THE FIRE' (SONY BMG FINLAND)

Finland is definitely the place to be for new talent in the rock and metal scene. Especially the Finnish Idols is an interesting event, because in the past we reviewed 2 awesome CDs of AGNES and HANNAH PAKARINEN. This year's winner is ARI KOIVUNEN, a real Metalhead who covered songs of DEEP PURPLE, WHITESNAKE, SCORPIONS, SONATA ARCTICA during the last season of the Finnish Idols. After winning the contest, for which he received a recording contract with Sony BMG and an advance payment of 30,000 Euros, he immediately went into the studio where he worked with a bunch of the well-known Metal musicians from Finland, such as producers Nino Laurenne (THUNDERSTONE) and Pasi Heikkilä and members of bands like URBAN TALE, NIGHTWISH, LEVERAGE, SONATA ARCTICA, whom not only played but also co-wrote a lot of the songs on the first album of ARI KOIVUNEN. Within 1 month the result is 'Fuel for the fire', a fantastic typical Finnish Melodic Rock/Metalalbum that is almost as good as last year's BROTHER FIRETRIBE. This is a record that perfectly melts the melodic rock of THE POODLES, WIG WAM, BROTHER FIRETRIBE with the more metal sound of STRATOVARIUS, SONATA ARCTICA. Most of the songs are uptempo or faster uptempo pieces, all super catchy and melodic. Highlights are opener "Gods Of War" (written by Tuomas Heikkinen of LEVERAGE and Kimmo Blom of URBAN TALE), TAROT/NIGHTWISH bassist/singer Marco Hietala's song "Our Beast", the wonderful first single "Hear My Call" (song of the year!!!???), Timo Tolkki's beautiful AORish ballad "Angels Are Calling", the amazing "Stormwind" and also "Stay true" and "Losing my insanity", so yes there are no fillers included here, only winners! Bonus track is "Hetki Lyö", which is a cover of Finnish singer Kirka's hit from the late 80s. In Finland KIRKA is a legend, making music as early as in the 1960s, but he sadly died recently. Most of his music was Schlager, but in the 80s he recorded a couple excellent melodic rockalbums... Anyway, ARI KOIVUNEN is the name and he has just released a fantastic debut CD that is showing an Idols singer can also make good records, although he was helped by the whole Finnish Metalscene. Nevertheless a must-have CD for all Melodic Rockfans! More info at: www.arikoivunen.fi 

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)

MYSTERY 'BENEATH THE VEIL OF WINTER'S FACE' (UNICORN DIGITAL)

Almost 10 years after the release of the fantastic 2nd CD of the Canadian band MYSTERY, they make their return with the new album 'Beneath the Veil of Winter's Face'. The CD is the first full length album featuring new singer Benoit David. Benoit had joined MYSTERY not too long after Gary Savoie left the band and had participated in the recording of 'Hey You!' performed by MYSTERY on the PINK FLOYD TRIBUTE album 'Signs of Time' and the song "Visions of Paradise", also performed by MYSTERY on the MOODY BLUES TRIBUTE album 'Higher and Higher'. Vocally it does not matter too much, because Benoit has a great voice. Musically we get to hear a mix of AOR, Pomprock and Progressive/Symphonic Rock, just like their earlier albums, although less STYS/KANSAS, more like 90s ASIA, a bit calm relaxed Symphonic AOR. Without a doubt, this is a very impressive new MYSTERY CD, featuring 10 strong songs that will please both AOR and Sympho/Progfans out there. The new MYSTERY CD was released in May 2007. Look at the Unicorn web site for MP3 samples at: www.unicornrecords.com/mystery  as well as at www.myspace.com/unicornrecords 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

STEEL DAWN 'R EXCUSE ME...!' (INDEPENDENT)

Many years ago in a time when internet was not the first source to look for new bands, we as a printed magazine in a period when Melodic Rock was completely dead were the first source for people interested in knowing the latest gossip. I am talking about the year 1995. Lost of great CDs and demos were released and those were really the times we hunted every corner of the world to find these new acts. A band which had a CD released on the defunct LONG ISLAND RECORDS around the mid 1990s was STEEL DAWN. We reviewed and interviewed the band in one of our earliest issues. They managed to come up with a great Melodic Hardrock CD that sounded close to 80s BON JOVI, DOKKEN and JADED HEART. Then it became quiet, very quiet and now more than 10 years later, the world has changed and STEEL DAWN returns with a new CD, which musically is the same, although not as good as their debut, but still quality Melodic Hardrock a la SCORPIONS, 80s BON JOVI, DOKKEN and JADED HEART. The band has a new singer and songs like "Shadow games", "Shot in the night" and "Burning bridges" are quite nice, although for me personally I have such fond memories of the first STEEL DAWN CD, any new recording is hard to beat that album. Nevertheless, a good melodic rockalbum that is recommended to JADED HEART/DOKKEN/BONFIRE fans, although the band also throws in some melodic metal (almost power metal) tunes here and there. More info at: www.steeldawn.de 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

EYEFEAR 'A WORLD FULL OF GREY' (DOCKYARD 1/ROCK INC)

Just like that other Aussie band (BLACK MAJESTY), also Melbourne, Australia based Progressive/ Power Metalband EYEFEAR have released a new album titled 'A World Full of Grey'. Released on German label DOCKYARD 1, the CD was recorded at keyboardist Sammy Giaccotto's studio Peak Time Productions in Melbourne, Australia and was mixed by Andy La Rocque (KING DIAMOND) at Los Angered Studios in Sweden. Andy also played two guitar leads on the album. Musically the band continues the style of their first 2 albums, so pretty much classic melodic metal with power/prog influences, not far removed from classic MAIDEN, yet with an updated more complex sound. Songs like "Changes", "Lost Within" and "Breathe Again" are very strong and not many fillers are included, so fans of classic melodic metal will absolutely love this record, as it has all the ingredients true metal needs to have, such as high-pitched vocals, screaming guitars and a sound that reflects the best of 80s MAIDEN/QUEENSRYCHE/FATES WARNING, so you know what to expect from this new EYEFEAR record! More info at: http://www.myspace.com/eyefear 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

PARAGON 'FORGOTTEN PROPHECIES' (REMEDY RECORDS)

The German band PARAGON returns with a new CD titled 'Forgotten prophecies'. This is already the 8th CD of the band since they were formed in the early 90s. Piet Sielck (of IRON SAVIOR) produced the album and made it sound like a True Teutonic Metal record of the 1980s, very much like SINNER, RESTLESS, ACCEPT and such. Fans of that genre will absolutely love this record and PARAGON shows they are one of the better True Metalbands in Germany today, along with bands like SINNER, PRIMAL FEAR and IRON SAVIOR.

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

CAPHARNAUM 'LE SOLEIL EST UNE BOMBE ATOMIQUE' (UNICORN DIGITAL)

Montreal/Canada instrumental band CAPHARNAUM just released their new CD 'Le Soleil est une Bombe Atomique' on UNICORN DIGITAL. That CD had been released independently in 2006 and now has been officially released through one of the major progressive rocklabels. CAPHARNAUM is a guitar oriented instrumental prog rockband and that can be heard on this CD, which is a trip through lots of diverse complex passages that sound like RUSH going completely instrumental. A progfan will love it for sure, check out their site at: http://www.capharnaum.biz 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

JOHN TUCKER 'SUZIE SMILED: THE NEW WAVE OF BRITISH HEAVY METAL' (INDEPENDENT MUSIC PRESS)

The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal started in the late 70s and the past few years a bunch of books have been written about this movement in the UK. Writer of the book 'Suzie smiled' is John Tucker, who was right in the middle of the scene back then. He knew many of the band members, wrote about them and published all these quotes and interviews in a book. The book is therefore not an encyclopedia of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, because that has been done successfully in the past, but it is more a book to read about some funny stories of bands from that era, such as Blitzkrieg, Diamond Head, Holocaust, Jaguar, Raven, Saxon, Tygers Of Pan Tang and Witchfynde, but also a few more obscure bands are covered. The stories are told mostly in the band members' own words, which is very effective. With contributions from the likes of Girlschool, Witchfynde, Saxon, Jaguar, Paul Di'Anno and even MR. MOTORHEAD LEMMY, as well as an introduction by Sean Harris, the original voice of Diamond Head, 'Suzie Smiled. The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal' is the first book to analyse the NWOBHM scene in the words of the bands that made the scene 25+ years ago. Back then the most important TV-show was of course BBC Radio 1's The Friday Rock Show, where every week a new band made it's way to the studios to perform live on national radio. 'Suzie Smiled: The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal' is the first book by John Tucker who, as a fanzine writer and photographer of the time (as well as a big fan of the music), was lucky enough to speak with almost every musician during this NWOBHM movement. The book is published by Independent Music Press and is available in bookshops for £12.99. More info at: www.suziesmiled.co.uk/home.html 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

LAND OF TALES ‘DEMO 2007’ (DEMO CDR)

Just 5 songs and just a demo, which is unbelievable, because this LAND OF TALES is definitely a sensational new Finnish AOR band as good as last year’s BROTHER FIRETRIBE or URBAN TALE. Not much info, but they hail from Tampere, Finland and are a superstrong pure AOR band with excellent typical Scandi vocalwork, catchy hooks and melodic AOR choruses as if the 1980s are back big time. Comparisons to RADIOACTIVE, FREDERIKSEN DENANDER, SPIN GALLERY, URBAN TALE, DAVINCI, T’BELL, TALK OF THE TOWN, BROTHER FIRETRIBE etc. etc. are very easy to make and it is definitely of the same high AOR level as those bands. One of the absolute highlights is the superb AOR rocker “All the same”, which has a deadly catchy chorus you will never get out of your head after you heard it the first time. The band also covers “Maniac” by MICHAEL SEMBELLO. Anyway, any AOR fan should check out this LAND OF TALES asap and it shows they are still a lot of awesome unsigned AOR bands out there, because this LAND OF TALES can be added to the list of DREAM, DREAM ASYLUM, NEON DIVER, CC ROCK, MYLAND and the recently signed WORK OF ART. More info at: www.myspace.com/landoftales  and e-mail at: soundstone@kolumbus.fi 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

CC ROCK ‘CC ROCK’ (ZINK MUSIC)

CC ROCK is a new AOR sensation from Sweden playing in the tradition of GRAND ILLUSION, TALK OF THE TOWN, SAHARA, T’BELL, DAVINCI, etc. Excellent vocalwork, catchy hooks, superb AOR choruses, it’s all present on the 6 tracks counting mini debut CD of CC ROCK. The band features 2 guitarists and are accompanied on their first album by guitarist ROGER LJUNGGREN (T’BELL, GRAND ILLUSION), drummer Marcus Nowak and vocalist/producer PATRICK TIBELL (T’BELL). People who will remember T’BELL will absolutely be thrilled to hear this CD, because CC ROCK is really an awesome AOR piece with songs every AOR fan will instantly love. It’s fresh, it’s mostly uptempo and incredible catchy, while the sound/production is of a very high level. Songs like “Wanna feel like the first time”, “The best I can”, “Angel”, “Dreamer”, “My special lady” etc. are all very strong pure uptempo AOR songs. AOR labels wake up, this band is as hot and sunny as the weather has been the past few months in several parts of Europe! Check out this band asap at: www.cc-rock.net  and www.zinkmusic.com 

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)

FAIR OFF ‘OUT OF CONTROL’ (SMD MUSIC)

Not only in Scandinavia we can find some awesome unsigned AOR/Melodic Rockbands, but Brazil offer us the amazing FAIR OFF. The band’s image is funny (pig head masks), but the music is deadly serious 80s inspired AOR/Melodic Rock. Opener “U” is a superb catchy uptempo AOR/Melodic Rocker in the style of FAIR WARNING and the first HAREM SCAREM (and also CARTOON, LOUD AND CLEAR, LINE OF FIRE), with a chorus you will never forget after hearing it the first time. 4 songs are on the band’s debut mini-CD and the sound of it is pretty good. Vocalist Lu Sinner has a great voice and shines in opener “U” and the SUPERB AOR rocker “Not in paradise” (one of the best and catchiest AOR/Melodic Rock songs at the moment, should be heard asap by any fan of the genre, incredible strong harmonyvocal driven chorus!). “Time has come” is the only let-down, as this is a weaker groovier late 80s US Arena rocker a la DANGER DANGER (like their later albums), WINGER/WARRANT/SKID ROW), because also closing track “Follow your dreams” is a great AOR song, midtempo and reminding of classic days of ATLANTIC, ROXUS, FRONTLINE and such. AOR/Melodic Rockfans need to hunt this baby down asap. More info at: www.fairoff.com.br  and e-mail at: fairoff@fairoff.com.br 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

GARRY SHARPE YOUNG 'METAL: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE' (BACKBEAT BOOKS/JAWBONE PRESS)

Garry Sharpe-Young from Taranaki, New Zealand lives the life we all would like to have, because he is one of the few rock/metal authors out there writing mostly encyclopedia books on the history of the rock/metal genres. Since 2001 he has built up what has become the largest on-line information resource for all rock/metal bands/artists from the past, present and future. This is the famous ROCKDETECTOR site at: www.rockdetector.com and his latest book is 'Metal - The Definitive Guide', which holds together 544 pages with 600,000 words and over 200 B&W photos. Making a living out of digging into the rock/metal world is something only a few can afford and happily Garry does his job very well, because his previous books were a good read and look-up if you want to know something about a vertain band/artist. Also the new book 'Metal - The definitive guide' is a beautiful written book, which also has a very nice lay-out. With a foreword by Rob Halford of JUDAS PRIEST, the book starts really Metalish. The book is not a complete encyclopedia, because it is entirely focused on all the subgenres and the most well-known/most important bands from those subgenres are being completely reviewed. As this concerns a book released in 2007, it is by far the most updated book, with discographies going up to 2006. You will not find a lot unknown bands here, but what you do can find is more than 500 pages written about all the Metal stuff you need to have in your collection or at least have knowledge of. Like I said before, it is a book with a beautiful lay-out, which any metalfan should own for sure, as it is the perfect view on the complete Metalgenre. After reading this book you will be fully informed on how the Metal world is divided in many subgenres. It is a True Metal book, so Rockgenres are left out here (no melodic rock/aor) and bands like BLACK SABBATH, IRON MAIDEN, SLAYER, AFTER FOREVER, KAMELOT, DREAM THEATER, JUDAS PRIEST and all the well-known Death, Progressive, Power, Black, Thrash, NWOBHM bands from the past and present make their entry in this book. As a book it is not only a nice read, but like most enclopedias a book to keep checking for some info. Lay-out and contest are absolutely excellent, so a book to own for sure. Available through: http://www.jawbonepress.com 

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)

CHRISTOPHER HJORT 'STRANGE BREW: ERIC CLAPTON AND THE BRITISH BLUES BOOM' (BACKBEAT BOOKS/JAWBONE PRESS)

Another book, yet with a complete new angle, because this book, as written by Christopher Hjort, it is the day-by-day story of the 60s British blues boom, centering on main guitarists ERIC CLAPTON, PETER GREEN and MICK TAYLOR and the groups that they played in from 1965 to 1970 -John's Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Cream, Fleetwood Mac, Blind Faith, The Rolling Stones, Delaney & Bonnie, and more. Especially the fans of ERIC CLAPTON and FLEETWOOD MAC definitely need to grab a copy of this well-written 'diary' book, because almost every small detail that occurred between 1965 and 1970 in the lives of ERIC CLAPTON, PETER GREEN and a couple others is mentioned in this book. The book highlights Clapton's time between THE YARDBIRDS and his '70s solo career, turning up a multitude of fascinating, never-before- published details in the process. Author Christopher Hjort is a rock historian who has written record reviews and artist profiles in various Norwegian music magazines and recently wrote a book about JEFF BECK. A book to own if you would like to get to know every fact on some of the most important rock musicians in the early days of Rockmusic (1965-1970). Available through: http://www.jawbonepress.com/strangebrew.html 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

MAGELLAN 'INNOCENT GOD' (MUSE-WRAPPED RECORDS/SERGE ENTERTAINMENT)

Legendary US Progrockband MAGELLAN return with a new CD titled 'Innocent God'. The outfit, featuring core members Gardner brothers along with ROBERT BERRY (3, GTR, ELP), recorded seven long compositions which show the band's high-class melodic progrocksound that should be qualified next to bands like RUSH, KANSAS, YES, 70s GENESIS, etc. The brothers Trent (vocals/keyboards) and Wayne Gardner (guitars)(along with bass player Hal Stringfellow Imbrie) released the debut album with MAGELLAN 'Hour of Restoration', in 1991, followed by the similar-sounding 'Impending Ascension'. Magellan returned in 1997 with 'Test of Wills', which represented a slight departure from the band's original sound and in 2002, the Gardners released the ambitious 'Hundred Year Flood' album, which was a dedication to the brother they lost in the Vietnam War. Now 5 years later together with ROBERT BERRY, MAGELLAN returns with what might be called their finest effort since their wonderful debut from 16 years ago. Songs like "Invisible Bright Man", "My Warrior", "Innocent God" and "Sea of Details" are a must-hear for any progfan out there. Check out this CD asap if you want to hear music of a very high level. More info at: http://www.muse-wrapped.com 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

BLAZE ‘BLAZE’ (WOR JAPAN)

BLAZE from Japan was reviewed sometime ago, but now they have their official first CD released. BLAZE are one of the few bands to not sound like a typical Japanese band. Reason is that they play pure early 80s Melodic Hard/Heavy Rock with guitarwork a la SCORPIONS/RAINBOW/EUROPE… In fact, the band has a superb guitarist who could easily fill in for MICHAEL SCHENKER when he walks off stage next time he is in Japan. Vocally it is definitely better than the average Japanese singer, although still with a slight accent. Back to the CD, which contains 10 tracks and most of them are very catchy hookladen melodic heavy rockers with strong choruses and terrific guitarwork (HISASHI SUZUKI, amazing player!), reminding a lot of classic SCORPIONS circa ‘Blackout’/’Lovedrive’… Just listen to uptempo melodic rockers like “Fool’s mate”, “Heart of Gold”, “Wiseacre in the land of Nod” and “See the light” (guitarplaying from another planet!) and it’s like MICHAEL SCHENKER is back sounding like it was in 1976, although also ZENO and ULI JON ROTH come to mind when hearing the guitarsound, so very SCORPIONS like is what to expect here. MAJESTIC ROCK should wake up when signing Japanese bands, because this BLAZE blows away any Japband from the past few years. More info at: http://homepage2.nifty.com/6360-098 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

OLYMPOS MONS ‘MEDIEVIL’ (SCARLET RECORDS)

OK, so this Finnish band has absolutely zero originality in their music… but happily the sound and the songs on their 2nd CD ‘Medievil’ are very good typical Euro Power Metal a la HELLOWEEN, early SONATA/STRATO… Of course the FINNVOX studios give this CD a huge sound and fans of mentioned bands as well as fans of FREEDOM CALL, HEAVENLY and such will absolutely love this record, because OLYMPOS MONS follows the exact same guidelines of the books those bands created through the years. 10 songs are included and with a playing time of 52 minutes it is an enjoyable ride through mostly faster uptempo pieces that also contain a lot of keys and melodic choruses. This is Euro Power Metal at it’s best, so grab it asap if any of the mentioned bands are on your favo acts list.

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

SYRON VANES ‘PROPERTY OF…’ (RECORD HEAVEN)

The Swedish band SYRON VANES has been making Melodic Metal since the early 80s and their latest release is titled ‘Property of…’, out on RECORD HEAVEN. Musically the band has changed a little, because their new record is a slightly more modern sounding groovy Hard/Heavy Rock/Metal album, not much MAIDEN related actually. Nevertheless, SYRON VANES have released a decent album that has some good material on it, such as “Wild”, “Doctor”, “Get out” and “Rough trade”, quite groovy Melodic Heavy Rock orientated, so do not compare it too much with their older MAIDENish Metal albums from the 1980s. More info at: www.syronvanes.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

LUCIFER WAS ‘THE DIVINE TREE’ (TRANSUBSTANS/RECORD HEAVEN)

Hard to believe, but the Norwegian band LUCIFER WAS was formed way back in 1969 (!!!). Their first album however was not released before the late 1990s, so it took them almost 30 years to release an album, but when they did it in 1997, 2 more albums would follow and now their 4th CD ‘The divine tree’ is finished and released through RECORD HEAVEN. Musically we are hearing a Classic 70s Hardrocksound that sounds like a mix between early SCORPIONS, BLACK SABBATH, DEEP PURPLE, BLUE OYSTER CULT, JIMI HENDRIX and RAINBOW, so groovy heavy guitarwork, melodic choruses and some cool hammondwork, very 1970s, without sounding dated. This is the first album I have heard of LUCIFER WAS and I must admit it impressed me a lot, because the included 7 long songs are very strong, with some great vocalwork of singer JON RUDERS. Highly recommended to fans of mentioned bands!

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

MARCO MENDOZA ‘LIVE FOR TOMORROW’ (FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

One of Rock’s most well-known bassists is of course MARCO MENDOZA, who played with acts like THIN LIZZY, WHITESNAKE, BLUE MURDER, OZZY, etc. etc. Well, the past 2 year he worked together with guitarist RITCHIE KOTZEN on his first solo-album. The CD is titled ‘Live for tomorrow’ and released on FRONTIERS RECORDS. Besides Ritchie and Marco, other musicians appearing on this record are STEVE LUKATHER, TOMMY ALDRIDGE, DOUG ALDRICH and TED NUGENT, so definitely some big names here. The music is groovy Melodic Hardrock with soulful vocals a la PAUL RODGERS/GLENN HUGHES (by Marco himself, who does a very good job actually!) and some strong melodies, not really far away from what RITCHIE KOTZEN and a band like KING’S X have been doing, although even some SOUL SIRKUS can be heard here and there. Good strong album that definitely needs to be heard, also showing that Marco can do more than play bass…

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

CAAMORA ‘WALK ON WATER’ (METAL MIND PRODUCTIONS)

Sadly only 4 songs, because this (2nd) mini-CD of the new project/band CAAMORA sounds fantastic! CAAMORA consists of female singer AGNIESZKA SWITA and keyboard mastermind CLIVE NOLAN (PENDRAGON) and together with some fellow musicians (like bassist JOHN JOWITT of IQ) they recorded this 4-track CD, which is just the beginning, because later this year there will be a DVD and a 2-CD set released by this CAAMORA, which is the so-called ‘SHE-PROJECT’. I am very anxious in hearing (and seeing) more of this new band/project, because songs like “Shadows” and “I can see your house from here” sound absolutely amazing, with strong vocalwork of Agnieszka and of course backed by a great instrumental/production sound. The music is quite original, sort of mixing theatrical, gothic, neo-prog and aor/melodic rock, sounding like KATE BUSH meets LANA LANE meets KAYAK/QUEEN/ROBBY VALENTINE, is that possible??? Anyway, it sounds quite amazing and if the upcoming DVD and 2-CD set will follow this style, we will have to consider this a top priority project/band for the future. In the meantime, keep your eyes on their website at: http://caamora.net 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

THE SHOCKS ‘BRACE…BRACE…’ (DIRTY FACES RECORDS/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

15 short songs are on the CD of the German band THE SHOCKS. Musically the band is playing 1977ish UK Punkrock with German lyrics. The guitarsound is a bit Garage Rock like, so not as heavy as in the Punkstyle, so maybe it is better to call this 1960s Garage Rock, because it is more sounding like THE KINKS or like THE CLASH than the real 77 UK Punkrock. Anyway, their CD is sounding quite nice and anyone into 60s Garage/Punkrock should check out this band at: www.theshocks.de 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

LEADFINGER ‘THE FLOATING LIFE’ (BANG! RECORDS/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

Australian musician LEADFINGER has written many songs the past 15 years for other bands, but now he has a solo-CD out, which musically has nothing to do with the Powerpop he wrote for other acts, because this LEADFINGER record is filled with what I would call, ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE type of music, which is BOB DYLAN/REPLACEMENTS/VAN MORRISON/ALEX CHILTON sort of Folksy Rootsrock with acoustic guitars and depressing vocals, very dark and slow, absolutely zero to do with melodic rock or powerpop unfortunately. Of course there is a market for this kind of music and fans of mentioned acts will definitely like this CD.

(Points: 6.9 out of 10)

THE BANDGEEK MAFIA ‘PAINT YOUR TARGET’ (LONG BEACH RECORDS/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

Weird name, but musically THE BANDGEEK MAFIA from Germany sounds professional and could well have been an American band. They mix Emo, Screamo, Punk and Ska with strong melodies here and there. The result is a diverse 12 tracks counting album that sounds like a mix between FALL OUT BOY, LESS THAN JAKE and AFI. It is almost impossible to hear this band is coming out of the Trier area in Germany, because they sound as professional as the American bands in these genres. Check out their site at: www.thebandgeekmafia.de 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

MAJOR LABEL ‘MY TIME’ (ELEMENTS MUSIC)

2 songs are on the CD-single of MAJOR LABEL, a band from Finland. They play modern US Metal, which a mix of Nu-Metal, Progmetal and some strong melodies, yet with a typical Finnish touch. They remind me a lot of the Finnish band SUBURBAN TRIBE. Their later-to-be released debut CD will tell us more I think. Check out this band for now at: www.majorlabelband.com 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

STRUNG OUT ‘BLACKHAWKS OVER LOS ANGELES’ (FAT WRECK RECORDS/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

Already 7 full-length albums released, the band STRUNG OUT has built up a huge following and now with their new album ‘Blackhawks over Los Angeles’, which was produced by MATT HYDE of SLAYER/NO DOUBT fame, they are ready to attack the US Billboard Charts big time and after listening to their new record it is clear to me they indeed sound ready for America, although in the past they already have found their way to the American audience, with albums selling 500,000 units. However, I feel this new album sounds like their strongest effort, a pure Melodic Hardcore bliss affair, so no screaming, but instead a very well-thought super-melodic album. Opener “Calling” is a very sensational uptempo Melodic almost metalish track that sounds like a mix between IGNITE and NOCTURNAL RITES. The band has a fantastic melodic clean lead singer, the choruses are super catchy and the guitarwork is straight out of the Melodic Metal book sometimes (including melodic twin-guitarsolo’s). As this is the first album I review of STRUNG OUT and I only heard some tunes of their earlier records, I can not compare too much, but to me this album sounds like the best Punk/Hardcore album since IGNITE’s latest effort. On the other hand, it is clear we hear Melodic Metal influences here and the choruses are very polished up big time and therefore bare in mind, this is more a mix of IGNITE’s sound with that of let’s say NOCTURNAL RITES, which for us makes this a very interesting CD. Highly recommended album for sure!

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

ASTRA ‘ABOUT ME: THROUGH LIFE AND BEYOND’ (BURING STAR RECORDS)

Not to be confused with the Brazilian AOR/Melodic Rockband of the same name, because this ASTRA comes out of Italy and have just released their debut CD ‘About me: through life and beyond’. Musically very strong Melodic Progressive Metal that reminds me a lot of DGM, but not surprising if you know the fact that the lead singer of ASTRA is none-other than DGM singer TITTA TANI. The sound is not as huge as the new DGM, but the melodies are there, just listen to opener “Shadows from the past”, which has a very strong melodic chorus in the style of VANDENPLAS. Progmetal fans will love this record of ASTRA a lot, although the sound and production is not as huge as mentioned bands, but if you really care for melodic progmetal you will hear that this ASTRA’s first CD is a very good release for sure. More info at: www.burning-star.net 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

WHITE WOLF 'VICTIM OF THE SPOTLIGHT' (ESCAPE MUSIC)

In the 1980s the Canadian band WHITE WOLF released a couple very strong Melodic Hard/Heavy Rockalbums, which both will soon be re-issued onto CD by ESCAPE MUSIC, the UK based label which is also now releasing the comeback CD of this legendary DON WOLF lead band. The band was put on hold for almost 20 years, with Don releasing a solo-album and CDs with his bands PROJECT X and POINT OF POWER, but his best work was with WHITE WOLF, so this 3rd release of them is definitely a nice addition to the man's discography. The new CD is in the exact same style as the band's 2 80s albums, which is Melodic Hard/Heavy Rock in the style of Y&T, BLACK'N'BLUE, DOKKEN, VIPER, TRIUMPH, HURRICANE, etc. The album has it's highlights in the fantastic uptempo Melodic Hardrocksongs "America", "Out Of Control", "Dreams Are For Ever", "Nightmare" and "One More Lie", although also goes Metal all the way on opening track "Eyes Of The World". I am almost certain these songs written 20 years ago, because the sound is so 1980s and with songtitles such as "Don't Turn Away", "Hold On" and "Nightmare" you are definitely talking 1980s... Nevertheless, the new WHITE WOLF album 'Victim of a Spotlight' is a very strong return of this legendary band, which will do some touring in Europe this year, so any fan of classic 80s US Melodic Hardrock should check this release out asap!

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

NOCTURNAL RITES 'THE 8TH SIN' (CENTURY MEDIA)

For quite some time now the Swedish band NOCTURNAL RITES has been the absolute top of the melodic metal market. Since their change of lead singer, the band has been releasing very sensational albums and also their 8th CD 'The 8th sin' is a superb album. Singer Jonny Lindqvist still shows he is one of the best metal singers at the moment and with every album the band sounds more and more melodic, but also more polished, because 'The 8th sin' is sounding as perfect as possible, with even some more melodic hardrock orientated compositions a la GOTTHARD. However, the main part here is high class Melodic Metal a la MASTERPLAN, THUNDERSTONE, with this time as highlights songs like "Call Out To The World", "Never Again", "Not The Only" and "Not Like You". However, the whole CD is a highlight and it will be very hard to beat this record as becoming melodic metal album of 2007!

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)

ROBIN BECK 'LIVIN' ON A DREAM' (FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

The story of female singer ROBIN BECK goes a long way back to the 1970s when she was standing on the streets of Daytona Beach with her Afro-American friends singing songs all day long, although originally she came from Brooklyn, New York. Not many people are aware she already released an album in the 1970s, because she moved back to New York in the later 1970s where she signed a contract and released the LP 'Sweet Talk' in 1979. Not sure if anyone actually heard or seen that record, but after the release it became quiet until 1988 when ROBIN BECK would rise to huge fame when her song "First Time" (a Coca-Cola theme tune) became a major hit (scoring a n.1 in the UK charts!) worldwide. From 1989 on she has been releasing albums and the past few years went from major label to FRONTIERS RECORDS on which she released the album 'Do you miss me' a few years ago. Now there is a follow-up entitled 'Livin' on a dream', a very catchy melodic poprock/aor affair with and songs written by Robin, Jeff Kent, Tommy Denander, Chris Pelcer and JAMES CHRISTIAN of HOUSE OF LORDS, musicians also playing on Robin's 7th album. The material reminds one a lot of Robin's classic debut 'Trouble or Nothin' and also HEART comes to mind several times. The beginning is very strong with some really awesome catchy uptempo AOR rockers like "Livin' On A Dream", "Show Me The Way", "Love Me Like A Man" and the midtempo HEARTish AOR ballad "Always". The second half of the album follows the same path, but is a little less stronger. However, fans of 80s type of female fronted AOR/Poprock will absolutely love this new record of ROBIN BECK!

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

LOS ANGELES 'LOS ANGELES' (FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

LOS ANGELES is the new project of Italian singer MICHELE LUPPI (VISION DIVINE's lead vocalist), who graduated at the VIT Los Angeles, with Robin Randall (co-writer of hits for FM, MARK FREE, JAMES CHRISTIAN, etc) as one of his musical coaches. He already released a solo-CD and 3 superb albums with VISION DIVINE and now he has a CD out which can only be qualified as pure AOR. Michele is an amazing singer and with the material on this CD he shows his love for AOR music. Fabrizio Grossi, Tommy Denander and Frankie De Grasso with Gregg Giuffria (HOUSE OF LORDS) are appearing on the album. Although the songs are pure AOR a la MARK FREE, FM, STAN BUSH, SIGNAL, JEFF PARIS, ROXUS, the sound is slightly more modern due to the drumsound of Fabrizio Grossi, who appears on many FRONTIERS RECORDS releases, always avoiding to make a record sound like a classic 80s AOR record, which is a pity, because basically I would have loved to hear something more pure 80s AOR based instead of the modern touch by Fabrizio. Happily, the songs itself are very strong AOR songs, of which some have been recorded in the past by RICHARD MARX, TIM FEEHAN and BRIDGE 2 FAR, but that does not matter, because what we have here is a great collection of wonderful AOR songs, such as "I Will Carry You", "I Must Be Blind", "When You Think Of Me", "One More Try" and "Caroline", all with the outstanding vocals of Michele. Definitely an album to own if you care for pure AOR melodies, although be aware the overall production/sound is less AOR, because these reflect influences of modern poprock, but still this is a great album, so conclusion pure AOR with awesome vocalwork, yet with a modern sound in mind to avoid it sounds dated...

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

MAMMOTH 'LEFT OVERS' (ANGEL AIR RECORDS)

The heavy-weight band MAMMOTH musically will always remind me of that classic 80s AOR tune they wrote for one of Freddy Krueger's Nightmare on Elm Street movies, namely the song "Can't take the hurt". The song can also be found in a demo version on this 'new' CD of the band, which is a so-called 'Left Overs' album featuring unreleased/demos/bbc sessions/live stuff of the band. The band was formed around singer Nicky Moore and bassist John McCoy (GILLAN) and released only 1 album in the 1980s, but ANGEL AIR RECORDS has now released another album with material of the band. MAMMOTH were known for being the heaviest band in the world, not musically, but in weight. Their music was a mix of Southern Rock, Hardrock and some AOR. BLACKFOOT, POINT BLANK and DOC HOLIDAY come to mind when hearing the music of MAMMOTH. Anyone waiting for more material of this 'lost' band from the 1980s should look no further. More info at: http://www.angelair.co.uk/news23a.htm 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

NOBODYS BUSINESS 'NOBODYS BUSINESS' (ANGEL AIR RECORDS)

NOBODYS BUSINESS was formed in the summer of 1977 and was a 'supergroup' featuring the likes of BOBBY HARRISON (Procol Harum, Freedom, Snafu) TONY STEVENS (Savoy Brown, Foghat, Rock Follies, Midnight Flyer) JOE JAMMER (Olympic Runners) and JERRY FRANK (session drummer extraordinaire). In France and recorded the album 'Nobodys Business' which was released in 1978 and now almost 30 years later re-issued by ANGEL AIR RECORDS. Now for the first time ever the album is remastered with bonus tracks and released on CD along with all promo videos recorded on DVD. Musically NOBODY'S BUSINESS was all about 1970s Hardrock, URIAH HEEP comes to mind several times in songs like "Bleed Me Dry", "Tell Me You Love Me", "Losing You" and "Cut In Two", which features some excellent vocalwork by the way. Nice to see such a rare item re-issued, along with some very interesting video footage of the band. A CD (and DVD with very rare video material!) to own if you're a fan of 70s Hardrock!

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

SPHERIC UNIVERSE EXPERIENCE 'ANIMA' (SENSORY/THE LASER’S EDGE/INTROMENTAL)

A few years ago the French band SPHERIC UNIVERSE EXPERIENCE released a very strong melodic progmetal album in the style of VANDENPLAS. Now they have released their 2nd CD 'Anima', which follows the same style as on their debut 'Mental Torments'. The band has a very good clean melodic lead singer, who shows he is even better than JAMES LABRIE of DREAM THEATER. Actually I was very impressed with their debut and also this 2nd album is very strong, reaching out to the higher level of progmetal, of which comparisons to bands like PAGAN'S MIND, TOMORROW'S EVE, MIND'S EYE, VANDENPLAS and such are easy to make. Songs like "Sceptic Being", "Neptune's Revenge" and "World of Madness" are very enjoyable melodic progmetalsongs. Definitely one to own if you're a progmetalhead, although towards the end of the CD the songs are not that strong, but it still shows that DREAM THEATER are absolutely no longer the kings of this genre and many more newer bands can compete.

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

INSANIA (STOCKHOLM) 'AGONY GIFT OF LIFE' (BLACK LODGE RECORDS)

The Swedish band INSANIA was formed in Stockholm way back in 1992, but it took them until 1999 before they would release a CD. Since their debut 'World of ice', the band has become better and better with every album and now with their 4th CD 'Agony gift of life' (their first since 'Fantasy - A New Dimension' from 2003) they release their finest effort so far. The music is very cliché, typical European Melodic Power Metal in the style of DERDIAN, HELLOWEEN, FREEDOM CALL, early LABYRINTH, early SONATA ARCTICA... but the songs are very strong and with the song "Hope", INSANIA releases one of the best Melodic Power Metal songs of 2007! Absolutely not original of course, but damn fine to listen to, especially when it is done as well as on this new INSANIA record. More info at: www.myspace.com/insaniametal  and http://agony0506.blogspot.com 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

MOLLY HATCHET 'FLIRTIN' WITH DISASTER CD+DVD' (DEADLINE RECORDS/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

MOLLY HATCHET is an American Southern rock band formed in Jacksonville, Florida in 1975, known primarily for their hit song "Flirtin' with Disaster" from the album of the same title. The band had some line-up changes through the years, wiith as most striking the change of lead singer, because original singer DANNY JOE BROWN left the band several times and sadly died last year. Also founding guitarist Duane Roland died last year, so a sad year for the band, but still they continued and with the release of the live DVD/CD 'Flirtin' with disaster' they make a sort of comeback, although they have never been really gone, as they even released several studio-albums the past few years. Musically the band is a pure American Southern hardrockband, a little heavier than your standard BLACKFOOT, THE OUTLAWS, DOC HOLIDAY, etc. Guitarist BOBBY INGRAM is one of the main guitarists of the band, but he joined the band at a later stage and in fact was responsible for one of the best AOR releases in the late 1980s, namely the project CHINA SKY. Anyway, now he is the MOLLY HATCHET guitarist and the newly released DVD is a very professional looking and sounding DVD/CD release. Of course it is so American, the music, the crowd, the looks, but a Southern Hardrockfan (especially all the German ones out there) will love this release definitely. Good to see the band still running despite all their tragedies. Although they do not have as much success as they had in the past, when their albums charted very high in the USA, the band still releases strong studio-albums and this live-CD/DVD also shows on stage they can still impress.

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

ANDROMEDA 'PLAYING OFF THE BOARD DVD' (METAL MIND PRODUCTIONS)

The Swedish band ANDROMEDA is one of those bands any Progmetalfan should have heard, because their albums are of a very high level. No fear if you missed them, because the DVD they now have released is an excellent start. The recording of 'Playing Off The Board' DVD took place on the 31st of October 2006 at the Wyspianski Theater in Katowice (Poland). The set-list is concentrated on their recent 'Chimera' album, but the concert material also includes tracks from their older albums 'Extension Of The Wish' and 'II=I' albums. The DVD includes 90 minutes of Melodic Progmetal at its very best, with also more than 60 minutes of bonus video footage (bootlegs, documents from the band's tour and gigs across Europe and such), 2 interviews and much more! Without a doubt, this is an excellent DVD, a must for any Progmetalfan, with a stunning total length of approx. 205 min. This band is at the level of bands like PAGAN'S MIND, TOMORROW'S EVE, MIND'S EYE, VANDENPLAS, BALANCE OF POWER and such, so the fans know then what to expect from them and now already with a DVD available, which looks highly professional as always with the METAL MIND DVD releases, ANDROMEDA is set to become one of the bands to beat DREAM THEATER from the leading position in the Progmetalworld! A preview track is available at www.myspace.com/metalmindproductions  and http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=MetalMindPoland  and check out their site at: www.andromedaonline.com 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

NEO 'BROADCAST' (METAL MIND PRODUCTIONS)

Another surprise in the Neo-Progworld. It concerns here yet another new supergroup. NEO is a band formed by such prog-rock veterans as Mark Westwood (the Martin Orford Band), Clive Nolan (Arena, Pendragon, Shadowland) and John Jowitt (IQ, Jadis) and Andy Edwards (IQ). They performed a show in Poland, which now has been released on DVD. Like the name predicts, the music is Neo-Progressive Rock at it's very best. The material is a pleasure for the Neo-Progfan, because songs played are from the repertoire of SHADOWLAND, ARENA, IQ, PALLAS and PENDRAGON, the leaders of the Neo-Progworld. Besides the wonderful concert, which looks and sounds perfect in typical METAL MIND quality, the DVD also contains bonus video footage from the band's soundcheck at ROSfest and several interviews, while the limited edition also includes a CD with songs recorded at the concert! Of course the classics "For the Greater Glory" (PALLAS), "The Hanging Tree" (ARENA) and "Paintbox" (PENDRAGON) were in the band's setlist. Must-have for any NEO-progfan! More info at: www.myspace.com/neoprogressive 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

MINDFEEDER ‘MINDREVOLUTION’ (INDEPENDENT)

Mastered at the famous Finnvox Studios in Finland, this mini-CD of the Portuguese band MINDFEEDER sounds quite perfect. Musically typical European Melodic Metal, not unlike EDGUY, yet slightly somehow also reminding of the classic 80s US Power Metalstyle here and there, especially due to the high pitched vocalwork. The 5 included songs are very catchy actually, mostly uptempo, except for the epic ballad “Wasted years” which also features awesome female vocals by a singer called CELIA RAMOS. The band’s CD sounds professional enough to get them signed by a label soon. Check out this band at: www.mindfeeder.org  and e-mail at: mindfeeder.mail@gmail.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

NEED ‘THE WISDOM MACHINE’ (BURNING STAR RECORDS)

Modern Metal from Athens, Greece. Band was formed in 2003 and sound like METALLICA/MEGADETH, not really Melodic Metal orientated, but more based around a heavy modern riff with raw vocals. More info at: www.needband.com 

(Points: 7.2 out of 10)

ZENITH ‘EVILUTION’ (BURNING STAR RECORDS)

‘Evilution’ is the first full-length CD of the Danish band ZENITH, which was formed 8 years ago. Musically the band is playing a mix of Experimental Modern Nu-Metal and Progressive Metal, ending up sounding a lot like PAIN OF SALVATION, with some influences of PAPA ROACH, NEVERMORE and even SLIPKNOT. Sometimes it sounds ok, but most of the time, the band goes far too much into the experimental extreme Metal side, close to Nu-Metal at times, so make up your own mind at: www.zenithmetal.dk  By the way do not confuse this ZENITH with the Neo-Progband or the German Teutonic Metalband from the 80s!

(Points: 6.6 out of 10)

POTERGEIST ‘SOUTHWARDS’ (BURNING STAR RECORDS)

Not the German ThrashMetalband POLTERGEIST, but a new Greek band called POTERGEIST, which is mixing groovy American modern Metal with Southern Rock. The result is their CD ‘Southwards’, which reminds me of PANTERA and CROWBAR, which means a lot of screaming, heavy groovy riffs and not much melodies to enjoy. Check it out for yourself at: www.potergeist.com 

(Points: 7.0 out of 10)

DEAN MCGINNES ‘THE JOURNEY OF LIFE’ (INDEPENDENT)

What we have here is a very strong instrumental album by a guitarist called DEAN MCGINNES from the UK. He plays guitar, bass, keys and drums, so a real multi-instrumentalist. However, the guitar is his main goal on his CD ‘The journey of life’ and I must say it sounds quite good, really great diverse instrumental guitar based rock with influences from both Classic Rock and Traditional Metal, although the Classic Rock a la HENDRIX is the main focus of the 11 songs on the CD. More info at: www.deanmcginnes.com  and e-mail at: dean@deanmcginnes.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

HIGH VOLTAGE ‘HIGH VOLTAGE’ (RCD MUSIC)

Not Really an original bandname, but nevertheless, the Canadian band HIGH VOLTAGE stands for high quality 1980s inspired Sleazy Northern American Hardrock/Heavy Rock which owes big time to bands like MOTLEY CRUE, GUNS’N’ROSES, FASTER PUSSYCAT, LA GUNS, TEAZE and all those other bands down at the Sunset Strip during the late 1980s. This Canadian band does it very well on the 5 included tracks of their CD, which was produced by SEAN KELLY or CRASH KELLY. They also remind me a lot of fellow Canadian bands SLASH, SVEN GALI and SLIK TOXIK, if anyone can remember them! Fans of Classic late 80s Sleazy LA based Hardrock will love tunes like “Mama Gold” (AEROSMITH meets CRUE) and “Shake hands with the devil”. More info at: www.myspace.com/highvoltage89  and e-mail at: chris@rcdmusic.com 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

TWINSPIRITS ‘THE MUSIC THAT WILL HEAL THE WORLD’ (LION MUSIC/BERTUS)

Italian keyboard player Daniele Liverani is known for his GENIUS recordings, which took him 3 albums to finish and now TWINSPIRITS is his next project formed with Dario Ciccioni on drums, guitarist Tommy Ermolli, bassist Alberto Rigoni and Danish lead singer Søren Adamsen besides obviously Daniele. The first CD of this new band is filled with high quality Melodic Progressive Metal that reminds one a lot of VANDENPLAS during strong songs like “Back To Reality”, “What You Want”, “Fire”, “It's Just Life” and especially “The Music That Will Heal The World”. The only let-down is the aggressive “Power To Kill”, which simply does not fit within the rest of the material. Anyway, this is a very good album that is recommended to all Melodic Progmetalfans out there! Check out their sites at: http://www.twinspirits.net/  and http://www.myspace.com/twinspiritsband 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

AWAKE ‘ILLUMINATION’ (LION MUSIC/BERTUS)

The band AWAKE was formed in 2000 in Cambridge (UK) and until June 2006 were known as Humanity, of whom we also reviewed an independent CD in recent years. This album titled ‘When Silence Calls’ was recorded by Peter Coleman (AC/DC, Paradise Lost, Napalm Death) and sounded pretty good, but with their namechange and album release ‘Illumination’ the band takes a huge step forward. EVERGREY Singer/Guitarist Tom Englund recorded and produced the first AWAKE album, which musically is filled with high quality Melodic Progressive Metal a la SHADOW KEEP, THRESHOLD and EVERGREY. The result is a huge sounding album that will be loved by all Progmetalfans. AWAKE sounds on their first label release pretty much perfect and can easily start competing with mentioned bands. Highlight for me personally is closing track “Shadows”, a very strong chorus this song has, but also many tempo changes, sounding like HIM meets EVERGREY. Check out their sites at: http://www.awakemusic.net/  and http://www.myspace.com/awakeuk 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

MANITOU ‘NO SIGNS OF WISDOM’ (METAL HEAVEN/ROUGH TRADE)

The Finnish band MANITOU already releases their 3rd CD with this ‘No signs of wisdom’. Musically they are still playing Melodic Metal, doing it very well and we will see if this new record will have the same impact as their single “Fools in control” single from last year which reached number 2 in the official single charts of Finland. The band is not as good as for example NOCTURNAL RITES, THUNDERSTONE or MACHINE MEN, but their Melodic Metal sounds nevertheless quite nice, reminding me a lot of 80s MAIDEN, WOLF and NOSTRADAMEUS… Highlights between the 10 included tracks are “Dread of the freaks”, “Polluted world” and the closing epic “August sky”. Melodic Metalfans might want to check out this release for sure.

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

CONSORTIUM PROJECT ‘IV: CHILDREN OF TOMORROW’ (METAL HEAVEN/ROUGH TRADE)

The Dutch project CONSORTIUM PROJECT returns with their 4th CD. IAN PARRY is the star and leader of the band, but sadly the songs are not as strong as before. Although I am a huge fan of IAN PARRY, I was not really impressed with CONSORTIUM PROJECT material in the past and I am afraid also this new CD will make long hours in my CD player, although admitted that the quality of the albums is of a high level. On the other hand, the theatrical Progressive Metal sounds nothing more than o.k. 11 songs are included and towards the end it becomes a little better, but I am safe to say I look much more forward to a new ELEGY album, which should be released soon and maybe even a new solo-record of Ian, because vocally Ian sounds as good as ever. Still think his first solo-CD is the best work he ever did, but that was also an incredible AOR record instead of the complex progmetal he produces with CONSORTIUM PROJECT.

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem) 

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