So many AOR fans have waited for the return of Jimi Jamison and now finally he has released something new. We had to wait since 1991 (his only solo-album 'When love comes down') for something new of Jimi Jamison. This is a sneak preview of the upcoming album 'Empires' of JIMI JAMISON'S SURVIVOR. But the CD-single 'I'm always here' doesn't contain so many new songs, so we still have to wait until mid September for the real thing. However still this CD-single is interesting for the AOR and Survivor fans.
Most important song on the CD-single is of course the titletrack "I'm always here", the famous Baywatch song. This song is featured in two versions, the single and album version. Probably everyone on earth knows this song, because this is the theme version of one of the most famous TV-series ever broadcasted on television. If all those 2 billion people that watched 'Baywatch' in one way or the other would buy this CD-single, then this would probably be the best selling CD-single ever. I don't think that will happen, but the fact remains that this song is popular and already in the USA radiostations have picked up the song, so who knows what will happen next for Jimi Jamison's Survivor. It's up to the radio and TV if this becomes a major hit. I think the song is o.k. light aor/poprock, but nothing sensational. But if the song gets some airplay, it would not surprise me if it becomes a big summerhit. But like I said, it all depends on the radio and TV.
Anyway, after hearing two versions of this 'Baywatch' song it becomes really interesting with the first real new song of Jimi in years. The song is called "Have mercy" and it is a great midtempo AOR/Melodic Rocker. Not as good as the mid 80s SURVIVOR, but still a good song that is a bit of a cross between the last SURVIVOR album 'Too hot to sleep' and the solo-album of Jimi. The song will also be on the new album 'Empires' as well as "I'm always here". The remaining two tracks of this CD-single are two live versions of old SURVIVOR songs. First one is "Too hot to sleep", this song will not be on the 'Empires' CD. The other track "Rebel son" is as classic AOR as you can get. This live version shows that Jimi can perform such a classic AOR song even without the help of original SURVIVOR members Frankie Sullivan and Jim Peterik.
But can Jimi also make new songs in this classic AOR style? Can he reach the high quality of SURVIVOR albums like 'When seconds count', 'Vital signs' and 'Caught in the game'? We will know the answer around the 13th of September when Jimi Jamison's Survivor will release a full new studio album. Until then, the fans can enjoy this CD-single.
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
THE BEST OF MY HEART-JAIME KYLE (FRONTIERS RECORDS)
Not a real new album of Jaime Kyle, but a best of CD. She has only released two CDs, but this best of is still interesting, because it doesn't only contain tracks from her 2 solo-albums, but also a couple of new unreleased tracks. Besides, her debut 'The passionate kind' in 1990 was released on Atlantic Records and hard to get the last couple of years and so this is a good move from Frontiers Records to release a best of album.
I will not discuss the 8 featured tracks of her second album 'Back from Hollywood', because we did a complete review of the CD when it was released Frontiers Records in 1996. That CD was a superb female fronted AOR rockalbum, so the 8 tracks on this best of are all fantastic AOR songs that are as good as the best HEART offered in the 80s/early 90s. In fact, HEART recorded "Stranded" years ago and I still think the version of this classic AOR ballad by Jaime Kyle is much better.
Moving over to the remaining 7 tracks, I can say only 3 songs are taken from her debut 'The passionate kind'. That album was a bit lighter aor/poprock orientated, but still the tracks featured here are pretty good. "Bad news" is a melodic rocker like CHRISSY STEELE, "When angels cry" is a great midtempo AOR ballad like HEART and "Let it go" is a great AOR ballad.
The other 4 tracks are all new and unreleased until now. First one is "Bombs away', a fantastic midtempo heavy AOR song a la WITNESS, the best track out of the 4 new ones included. "More than meets the eye" is co-written by Van Stephenson. The song is a great uptempo AOR ballad. Third new track is "Movin' on down the road", a nice aor/melodic rocksong, but nothing sensational. The closing track of this CD is the 4th new track. The song is titled "If not for you", a good semi AOR ballad like HEART.
So, basically this CD contains 15 brilliant female fronted AOR/Melodic Rocktracks. Even if you own both albums of Jaime Kyle, this is worth investing your money, because the CD contains 4 new tracks as well as some great pictures of this lovely looking girl. What more do you need! If you don't own any of Jaime's releases, this CD is a must for you because the best of what this girl made is on this CD. Definitely one of the best female fronted AOR releases at the moment. Now we can only hope Jaime will release a full new studio album someday soon. Maybe an interview with Jaime in the next issue of Strutter Magazine.
(Points: 9.0 out of 10)
GAPSTANDER-GAPSTANDER (FORT WAYNE PUBLISHERS)
Another Christian rockband out of Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA. Their same titled debut CD contains 10 tracks. GAPSTANDER is not a band with one musicstyle. On this debut CD we can hear a couple of different musicstyles. We can hear good old 80s melodic rock, pure AOR, 90s rock, popmusic and some funk. Happily, most of the time, GAPSTANDER is playing our musicstyle.
It all begins with a song called "Fly like a dove". A silly 90s pop/rock sound that is not really good. Following track "Up from the depths" is much better and is midtempo AOR/Melodic rock like AVION and BB STEAL. "Hand over fist" is heavier and very 80s based. This is late 80s melodic rock that sounds very close to the 80s DOKKEN style as well as WINGER. In fact, the song could have been on the first two WINGER albums. "I am adopted" follows, a good semi AOR ballad that is lighter, but nice to hear. Sounds a bit like the latest of PETRA and NOUVEAUX (their second and final effort that is).
"Good day" is a song we can forget, because this has really nothing do with melodic rock or anything, this song is a funksong like DAN REED NETWORK at their worst. "Rain" on the other hand is much much better, some nice AOR keys in this semi melodic rocker. Following track "Mama" is clearly one of the better tracks on this CD. This song is a very strong semi melodic rockballad with many AOR influences. "Nobody knows" moves again in a different direction. This is midtempo melodic rock that sounds like the 80s RATT style. The band switches style again on the next track "One more chance". This is pure pop, and I had to think about TAKE THAT with CLIFF RICHARD as lead vocalist. Sorry, but a track like this should not be here.
However, the final track makes everything good. "Nothing you can do" blows away everything else on this CD. This song is definitely the best track. A classic 80s typed cheerful uptempo melodic aor rocker in the style of AVIATOR, NELSON, VU, AGENTZ and SHY. This is the kind of song I was waiting for. If the band would make a couple of more songs like "Nothing you can do", I am quite sure the AOR/Melodic rockfans are gonna love this band much more. Besides, the band has to keep a balance on their CDs, because this CD now has to many different styles to offer. 90s and 80s rock are being presented on and on. I would love to see the band make one style, hopefully in their 80s melodic rockstyle (like on "Nothing you can do"). Then we can look forward to a very interesting second release if it will see the light of day.
Anyway, you can listen to that great song "Nothing you can do" on the mp3 site of GAPSTANDER at: www.mp3.com/gapstander or visit their website under http://members.aol.com/publishfw
(Points: 7.5 out of 10)
ANTHOLOGY 2-DAMASCUS (FORT WAYNE PUBLISHERS)
Has anyone heard of a band called DAMASCUS? This American Christian Pomprockband has just released a CD titled 'Anthology volume 2'. This is a compilation CD including their two albums 'Timeless' and 'Soon the doors will open'. Both these albums were released in the mid 80s, but this is the first time I hear them. A shame it now finally gets the attention, because musically DAMASCUS is sounding very professional. It's not Pomprock all the way, because there are also some Progressive influences, but for anyone who likes the KANSAS albums of the late 70s/early 80s this is a must to hear. The first album 'Timeless' features 6 tracks.
The first two tracks ("Time for a season" and "What four?") are both very much in the KANSAS style, not so heavy, but still quite enjoyable Pomprock. Track 3 "A knight to remember" is more in the classic early 80s AOR/Pomp tradition and this song is as good as anything KANSAS did on their album 'Vinyl confessions'! A superb chorus and some incredible keys that are a must to hear for the fans of Pomprock. "Timeless" is a bit weak 70s progressive song. "Lord of the mountain" is an acoustic progressive pop ballad. The last track of the 'Timeless' album is "The keeper", a pomprocker again in the KANSAS style.
The other album ('Soon the doors will open') of DAMASCUS on their CD 'Anthology 2' features 9 tracks. Opener of that album is "Decisions", an uptempo pomprocker in the style of KANSAS, SPY, LION, PRIVATE LIGHTNING. There are some incredible pomp keyboardsolo's on this song, a total must for Pomprock freaks. Hearing a song like this, I ask myself how anyone of the Pomprock freaks could have missed this band the first time around. Well, better late than never.
Back to their CD, the other album contains some more great Pomprocktracks such as "Psalm AD", a Pomprockballad a la KANSAS, SUNBLIND LION with some very good lead vocals of Tom McKeown (vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist of the band). This song also features some lovely keyboardsolo's that are a dream for the pompfreaks. And "Reckless", a heavier uptempo pomprocker like KANSAS and more over in the style of the 1980 debut of KERRY LIVGREN (if anyone remembers that album). Nice hookline in this song. "Something to live for" is really a must for the KANSAS fans, pretty nice Pomprock again.
Like I said, it's not Pomprock all the way, because especially the last few tracks are more progressive rock orientated. Songs like "Lead me on", "Blind peace", Still waters" and "Waves" are not really interesting for the Pomprockfan and move more in style to the first couple of KANSAS albums that were more progressive rock based. However, this CD features enough tracks to satisfy a fan of the old Pomprock of KANSAS. I am pretty interested in hearing 'Anthology 1' (if it exists). I wonder how many albums this band has released and if they still exist. Maybe more info on this later.
For now, listen to a couple of soundbytes of DAMASUS at their mp3 site: www.mp3.com/damascus or visit their website under their publishing company at: http://members.aol.com/publishfw
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
DEMO TAPE-XANADU (DEMO TAPE)
XANADU is a Japanese melodic rockband that is actually very fresh, because they started in 1998 and recorded their first demotape in May 1999. This demotape contains two songs and the production and sound is pretty nice for a demotape. The first song "I can't change my heart" starts with some incredible AOR keys that is just pure 80s AOR, but the song is more melodic rock orientated a la FAIR WARNING (like their second album), only not so sensational of course due to the average lead vocals of Dai who is not part of the band. The other song "Out of my fate" is much more uptempo and also heavier melodic hard rock/metal.
There are also instrumental versions of the two songs on the demotape. Concluded a nice start for a new band. Now let's hope for some more melodic rock material like their song "I can't change my heart" and maybe a couple of ballads. First thing to do for this band though is looking for a better lead vocalist, because I found the vocals the weakest of their demotape. Their sound is good, but the vocals must be better to get some attention of the markets outside of Japan. Still, a nice demotape for fans of Japanese Melodic rock.
For more info on XANADU, check out their website at: http://www.jah.ne.jp/~michael/
(Points: 7.0 out of 10)
TALES FROM THE CRIB-$KYHIGH (WIZATREE RECORDS)
$KYHIGH is coming out of the state Rhode Island in the USA. They released this CD titled 'Tales from the crib' 3 years ago, but I haven't seen much press on the album over here in Europe. A shame, because actually this is a great melodic rock album. I have not much info about the band and can't even tell you who the members are. Tony Ricci did the production and he did a terrific job, because the sound of this CD is impressive.
Musically $KYHIGH is playing 80s typed melodic rock in the American style of bands like NELSON, TRIXTER, KNOW ILLUSION, CRYSTAL ROXX, early WINGER, early WARRANT, DANGER DANGER, etc. etc. And $KYHIGH is doing it very good, because all 9 included tracks are from a high level and belong to the top of this genre. Opener "Knife through the heart" starts with some very good vocals and ends up being a great midtempo melodic rockballad with a very melodic memorable chorus a la NELSON (circa 'After the rain').
Next track "How far" is extremely cheerful and very easy to sing-a-long with. These are the kind of songs that were on top of the charts in the USA about 10 years ago. "How far" is a very cheerful uptempo party melodic rocker like a mixture between the late 80s sounds of TRIXTER, WARRANT and WINGER. And like it goes for these kinds of bands, also the power ballads are included on the CD. "Wounds so deep" is a typical early 90s mainstream power melodic rockballad in the veins of WARRANT, WINGER, DAMN YANKEES, FIREHOUSE, CRYSTAL ROXX…
Following track "Give me a reason" is a good midtempo melodic rocker like a mixture between NELSON, WARRANT, TRIXTER and FIREHOUSE. Then follows a nice cover of the old BEATLES song "Let it be". $KYHIGH turns this old classic poptune into a fine AOR ballad with piano-keys. Reminds me of JADED HEART who did the same job with the song "Help". Next track "Dream" moves into the classic 80s melodic rock territory. This song is a great uptempo melodic rocker that sounds very much like SAVANNAH and SLYBOYZ. The chorus is memorable and the song has a catchy rhythm.
Following track "I miss you" starts as a calm piano AOR ballad, but after the first chorus the song changes into a great semi melodic rocker a la JADED HEART. The song also has a memorable melodic hookline. After a short interlude titled "Cribbage" follows the song "New (Fu miles away)". "Fu miles away" is the best song on this CD. This is a fantastic cheerful cheesy 80s typed uptempo melodic rocker like DANGER DANGER, NELSON ('After the rain'), VU… This is a really a fantastic song and very catchy, you can't miss this one!
"$ky (live)" closes this great CD pretty well, because also this song is a pretty good melodic rocker a la FIREHOUSE and DANGER DANGER. I haven't got anything to complain about this $KYHIGH. Finally a band with a pure late 80s melodic rock'n'roll sound and my respect for the members of the band for ignoring the horrid alternative scene. Let's hope our kind of rock'n'roll is making a huge comeback in the next millennium and bands like $KYHIGH get the chance to become more popular, because they deserve it and not the crap bands that are now ruling the charts.
If you like the good old fashioned late 80s/early 90s typed melodic rock of bands like DAMN YANKEES, NELSON, JADED HEART, SLYBOYZ, DANGER DANGER, VU, WINGER etc. etc. then check this great band $KYHIGH, because they are as good as mentioned bands. For more info on SKYHIGH visit their website at: http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Studio/8664 and e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to their postal address at: $kyhigh, 266 Great Rd., North Smithfield, RI 02896, USA.
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
BONE ORCHARD-BONE ORCHARD (INDEPENDENT)
BONE ORCHARD is an American band out of Bridgeport, CT. They released this 6-track CD last year. The CD starts with "Gone but not forgotten", a song with a very nice intro including very melodic vocals of Donn Lasecki. The song itself is a pretty nice semi melodic rockballad. Next track "Ride" is heavier, but features again melodic vocals. An 80s style can be heard in "Ride" which reminds me of the melodic heavy rock of bands like KEEL, ROUGH CUTT… "Crossroads" follows, but this is darker hardrock based.
Following track "Bleeding heart" is much better, this is a nice melodic rockballad. "Darker side" is sounding like the title says, a darker MHR song. Closing track "Dirty angel" has a build-up of almost 3 minutes and is 90s melodic heavy rock, when suddenly we can hear a very melodic chorus.
BONE ORCHARD has a darker Melodic Hardrocksound that has some very melodic vocals, but I think the music should sound a bit more cheerful to really grab the attention of the fans of our musicgenre. Still, a nice CD to check out. More info through their website at: http://www.boneorchard.com/ and e-mail them at: email@example.com
(Points: 7.0 out of 10)
Do not confuse this PARADISE with the other American band called PARADISE that released the CD 'Do or die' in the early 90s, although musically they are in the same veins. This PARADISE is coming out of Pasadena, Texas and has just released their same titled debut CD. The CD contains 11 tracks and musically they are playing pure melodic hardrock in the best 80s tradition. Not only musically, but also the lead vocals of Rock Callaway remind me of the 80s BON JOVI sound. O.K., PARADISE is a little heavier in some spots, but there are a lot of similarities to that New Jersey combo. The CD has a very good sound and production.
Opener "Forever heaven" has a wonderful AOR based chorus with lovely melodic harmonyvocals a la CITA/GUILD OF AGES. The song itself is a nice semi melodic rocker. "Serenity" is a great melodic rockballad in the style of the old BON JOVI ballads. "Life goes on" is straight-ahead cheerful uptempo melodic rock that sounds like LOUD'N'CLEAR and FIREHOUSE. There are many harmonyvocals in this song and the AOR chorus is pretty good. But I think that this band is too heavy for the AOR fans, it is more recommended to the fan of real melodic hardrock with the guitars upfront, while retaining the melodic vocals.
After "The answer" (uptempo melodic rock like old JOVI/INTUITION), there are a couple of heavier melodic rocktracks such as "Miracle man", "Apathy", "Life of crime" and "What goes around comes around". These songs are akin towards the style FIFTH ANGEL created on their second album. Although these songs are a bit heavier with some guitar riffs, they all have plenty of good melodic parts. Further tracks are "Father" (nice melodic rockballad), "Lost children" (early WINGER kinda melodic rock) and closing track "Come back").
This last track "Come back" is the best song of the whole CD, a great commercial uptempo 80s melodic rocker that sounds a lot like BON JOVI (circa 'Slippery when wet'), only a tiny bit heavier. No keyboards can be heard on this guitar orientated 80s styled melodic hardrockalbum. A must if you have enjoyed other cheesy 80s melodic rockacts such as VOXEN, INTUITION, LOUD'N'CLEAR, FIREHOUSE, INSIDE OUT and if you like the 80s sounds of BON JOVI and DOKKEN.
Most of all this band is recommended to fans of FIFTH ANGEL. More info is available through their website at: http://paradise.iuma.com and e-mail them at: LCall5252@aol.com or write to their postal address at Paradise, 2509 Huntington, Pasadena, TX 77506, USA.
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
The Canadian AOR/Melodic Rockband KRUHNER was formed in 1989 and consists of three members, Rob Krause (lead vox. And bass), Chris Krause (drums) and Remy Jobin (guitars). Since they started the band has recorded several demo's, but this CDR is the first real demo CD they released. I think the band still plays the same musicstyle as when they started back in the late 80s. Actually I am glad about this, because their 80s typed melodic rock sounds still very good and the band has a lot of fun while playing their song. You can hear the band is happy playing our favourite musicstyle.
Finally a band that hasn't changed due to the horrid grunge/alternative trend in the mid 90s. Right from the start until the end of this CD you can listen to some great cheesy 80s melodic rock. There are 10 tracks on the CD and this self-produced CD has a very good production/sound to make it a comfortable listen. Opener "Take a look" is taking us right back into the 80s, a cheerful uptempo melodic aor rocker in the style of BRITTON and TORINO. Next track "Hangin' on to yesterday" is a midtempo melodic rocker a la FIREHOUSE. Then we get to hear probably the best track of the band, namely the melodic aor rockballad "Look for love". This song is really superb and sounds very close to VELOCITY.
The following two tracks are a bit average. "Somethin' to tell you" is a groovy MHR song and "Blind man" doesn't have a strong chorus, although the latter is a nice uptempo melodic rocker like a cross between old GUARDIAN, DIRTY LOOKS and HERICANE ALICE. From track 6 on, we can hear cheesy 80s melodic rock at it's best! "Break down you heart", "Road less travelled", "Loaded gun" and "Waiting for the day" are 4 uptempo aor/melodic rockers in the best 80s classic tradition of bands like BRITTON, AUTOGRAPH, 80s BON JOVI, VU, INTUITION… If you like the cheesy 80s melodic rock of those bands, then you will love this KRUHNER.
KRUHNER reminds us of the times when rock'n'roll was fun and exciting. I wish more bands would play this classic style again. The only song of the CDR I haven't mentioned is the semi melodic rockballad "Daydreamin'" which is also a good songs. Almost the whole CD sounds pretty good and my only advise to you is that if you're into 80s melodic rock this band should be on top of your wantslist.
Listen to their songs and get more info on KRUHNER through their mp3 website at: www.mp3.com/kruhner and e-mail them at: Kruhner@hotmail.com or write to their postal address at: Robert Krause, Box 661, Schreiber, ON p0t 2s0, Canada.
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
DEMO TAPE-TONE ANTONE (DEMO TAPE)
TONE ANTONE is coming out of New Jersey and his demo tape is a very good one and above the rest of all other demo tapes being put out today. I believe the tape also is available on CD, but I'm not sure about that. Anyway, TONE ANTONE has that typical New Jersey Melodic Rocksound (a la DANGER DANGER, 80s BON JOVI), although I must say that it is not all the way in that style, there are many other influences in his music. But it's melodic rock what we can hear on the 9 well-produced tracks on this Demo Tape Album.
Guitarist/Lead vocalist TONE ANTONE has been helped by some fellow New Jersey/New York musicians on his tape. One of them is Scott Metaxas, who we all know as the bassist for PROPHET. The tape starts with "This feeling called love", right away you can hear the high quality AOR sound of TONE ANTONE. The song is a slowtempo semi melodic rockballad that sounds very good. A quite melodic song that reminds me of other newcomers MARK ALLEN BAND and some early TYKETTO.
Next track "Streets of New York City" is a bit average groovier melodic hardrock. "She's more than a woman" is a simple, but great typical 80s melodic rocker that reminds me of DONNIE MILLER. In fact, the whole tape has the same musicstyle and sound as DONNIE MILLER, if anyone remembers him, he released in the late 80s a nice AOR/Rock record titled 'One of the boys'. To get back to that song, it is a song you need to hear while driving a car. Next track "Dance to the music" is just a nice melodic rocker.
Closing track of side-A of the tape is a song called "Sorry", a good uptempo AOR rocker that reminds me a lot of a guy called BOB WHEELER, but nobody has probably heard of that great Canadian AOR rocker. Anyway, musically this is much more AOR orientated than the first couple of tracks on Tone Antone's tape.
Moving over to side-B, we get to hear a pure AOR sound on the first track. "This isn't love" is a fantastic classic early 80s AOR rocker that has a very catchy chorus a la PRISM! This track is very energetic and totally different than the rest of the tape. This song has really a wonderful AOR sound and if Tone had put more songs in this style on his tape, I think then we could have spoken of the new sensation in the AOR scene. But now it's only one song that has that sensational AOR sound.
Still, the rest is also very nice to listen to. "We don't want to work at all" is a simple 80s typed rocker that reminds me a lot of STARSHIP. Following track "We're leaving tomorrow" is a nice semi melodic rockballad that has the good old BON JOVI influence, a lovely guitarsolo too! The final track of the tape is "Living is the hardest fight", a nice semi melodic AOR song that sounds not unlike the second PROPHET before the chorus. The chorus is namely not so strong. There are also similarities to ROBBY VALENTINE in this song.
Well, concluded TONE ANTONE is definitely one of our kinda rockartists. He's got a killer AOR tune called "This isn't love" and further a good melodic rock/aor sound on his tape. I think the future looks bright for this artist and I can easily recommend you to buy his album Tape.
For info and soundbytes of his songs, browse over to his mp3 site at: http://www.mp3.com/antone.html and e-mail his manager Gene A. van Severen at: LPAND45MAN@aol.com or write to this postal address: Gene A. van Severen, 459 Mamie Drive, Brick, New Jersey 08723, USA.
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
SAYIT-SAYIT (AOR HEAVEN)
SAYIT features the best Swedish AOR musicians around. Appearances on the debut CD of guitarist Sayit (can't possibly be his real name) are being made by Swedish musicians like Tommy Denander, Thomas Vikstrom, Mikael Erlandsson, Andy Eklund, Mikael Eriksson (all appeared on many Swedish AOR albums) and the only American musician Bruce Gaitsch. They had already announced that SAYIT would sound very much like TOTO in their best 80s AOR style and for the most part I think they have reached that goal.
There are 11 tracks on this CD, including the JOURNEY cover "Once you love somebody" (forgot on which album this song was). The album has a very good production by Ricky B. Delin and Tommy Denander. The CD starts with one of the best tracks of the whole CD, namely the song "A second start". This is classic 80s based pure AOR with some lovely AOR keys and a beautiful vocal duet between the vocalists Geir Ronning and Piere Wensberg. I don't know both these vocalists, but I am pretty much impressed of these brilliant vocalists. This sounds like a duet between Kevin Chalfant and Bobby Kimball. It's sounding exactly like TOTO at their most AOR orientated songs (like "Caught in the balance"). But this song also has some THE STORM and even late LE ROUX influences. All in all, a great 80s AOR song that is very enjoyable to listen and could easily become a big summerhit (maybe in Sweden).
Next track "House of glass" is again great classy AOR. This song is midtempo AOR like other Swedish newcomers STREET TALK. And how about the fantastic following track "Standing on the outside", this is summer AOR like TOTO and WORRALL. Sadly, this is the last uptempo rocker, the rest of the CD is poppier, while retaining the AOR influences.
The band moves more into the AOR/Westcoast approach of bands like PROMOTION, CIOBA, HIGHER GROUND… on songs like "Could you love me again", "Garden of Eden" and "You". Songs like these also sound like TOTO (circa 'The seventh one'), but are not pure AOR based. Songs like these are more experimental with their poppy funky rhythms. Still it is nice happy AOR, but maybe too soft for the harder edged AOR fan. If you like any of the mentioned bands you will love this.
In a lot of ways this CD is remembering me of the only CD of that other Swedish band TOYS OF JOY. They also had some pure AOR sounds as well as some more poppier material a la TOTO, while holding the AOR level all the time on their CD. The same goes for SAYIT, because it may sound soft at the end of this CD, there are still a lot of AOR moments. Just listen to the wonderful AOR piano-keyboard ballad "You're my inspiration" that sounds like good old JOURNEY. This song features the superb lead vocals of ANDY EKLUND, one of the best vocalists ever to come out of Sweden. Andy sang with the band DOUBLE DOUCE for a while and recorded a couple of tracks with this Swedish band. I believe I have 7 tracks of this band and some of these demo tracks are really superb. I remember Andy singing two really classic AOR ballads with Double Douce, these were probably the best Swedish AOR songs ever! But never officially released, what a shame!
Anyway, Andy can be heard on 3 tracks of this CD. Besides this ballad, he can also be heard on "Hear me heaven" (great AOR) and "Once you love somebody" (the Journey cover, a very soft song with a 90s rhythm, but still an AOR vibe due to Andy's wonderful vocals). Remaining songs are "She's the one" (cheerful summer AOR like HIGHER GROUND, TOYS OF JOY, CIOBA, PROMOTION…) and "One unguarded moment" (late night AOR like THE AUTOMATIX, ALLIANCE (1982) with some soulful vocals by Geir Ronning).
Some of the songs of this CD could easily become major hits. This CD is full of radiofriendly AOR/Radiorock that would please alot of people during this time of year. I'll bet if the radio and tv stations would support this band and play their songs a couple of times, then in no-time SAYIT would score some major hits. A lot of the average people will enjoy this kind of music. But I said it before that it will probably not happen, because the radiostations are ignoring bands like SAYIT. A shame, but it will not bother the AOR fan, because he/she will spent his/her money on this great CD! Available through AOR Heaven.
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
EARLY WORKS-MARATHON (AOR HEAVEN)
MARATHON was a German AOR/Melodic Rockband that recorded several demos during 1986 and 1987, but never was able to release an album. Now, AOR Heaven has picked up the original tapes and released it as 'The early works'. The CD contains 14 tracks and although bandleader Hanz Marathon (guitars, bass, keys) says in the booklet that the sound is not perfect all the way, I can assure you that this CD sounds very good and the production is as good as many other releases done today.
Musically this CD of MARATHON is filled with typical German AOR/Melodic Rock like a mixture between CRAAFT, ZENO and FAIR WARNING. The CD starts with "Just can't wait", a nice uptempo AOR/Melodic Rocker like CRAAFT, JOJO… Next track "In love" is a classy piece of European AOR with some FRONTLINE references. "Rope dancer" is nice midtempo melodic rock. Following track "Wings just want to fly" is a ZENO/FAIR WARNING kinda melodic rockballad. Nice uptempo AOR like DOMINOE, DAYTONA can be heard in the song "Running through the night".
More ZENO orientated AOR are the tracks "I send my love to Tokyo" and "Heart Marathon". "Can't break the blue" is an uptempo melodic rockballad that sounds very much like FAIR WARNING. A bit silly to say, because all the comparisons I made are to bands that didn't had released anything when MARATHON recorded these songs. But it's to give you an idea of the sound of MARATHON. Then we have had 8 tracks of this CD, when the best part of the CD starts and goes on to the end of the album.
The last 6 tracks are namely the best songs of this CD and sound fantastic. "Feel like you" is fantastic pure AOR with some classy keys and a pure American sound with even SURVIVOR influences! Following track "I don't need a dream" is a great semi AOR ballad like ZENO, FAIR WARNING… Next track "Riding on the edge of time" is a great uptempo AOR rocker like DOMINOE (only more AOR orientated). This song has a classy 80s AOR sound and a memorable chorus.
"Second chance" is another great AOR song, this is a semi melodic AOR rocker like DAYTONA meets CRAAFT. And how about the superb semi AOR ballad "Key to my heart" that belongs to the best German AOR since the last FAIR WARNING and FRONTLINE releases. The final track of the CD is "Energy free", a good cheerful uptempo European AOR song like TERRA NOVA with some classy AOR keys in the middle of the song. Especially those last 6 tracks are the best ones on this great release. These 6 songs are from a very high level and belong to the top of European AOR.
This is certainly one of the better German releases from the past few years. If you like bands such as FAIR WARNING, TOKYO, ZENO, CRAAFT, DOMINOE, KARO, FRONTLINE… then this CD is a must for you to have. Available through AOR Heaven
(Points: 9.0 out of 10)
UNSIGNED 2000-FEEL (INDEPENDENT)
FEEL is coming out of Columbus, Ohio and they have released a 3-track CD. The band has opened up for bands like Van Halen, Poison, Cheap Trick, Great White, Dokken, Lynch Mob, Firehouse, Ratt, Quiet Riot, LA Guns, etc. So they have some experience. The band has been influenced by both the melodic rock of the 80s (DEF LEPPARD, BON JOVI, DOKKEN) and the 90s Heavy Metal sounds of METALLICA.
The band is trying to combine a very heavy guitarsound with some very melodic vocals/harmonyvocals. Something like we also from bands like TEER, JYNX, EMERALD RAIN… It's hard to judge on a band that has only released a 3-track CD, but I think their CD gives you a good impression.
Opener "Hardcore" is really too heavy for my ears. There is also very less good melody in this song and I would not recommend it to any melodic rock lover. This song is more akin to METALLICA or PANTERA. Happily, track two "The fear inside you" is better. Still quite heavy, but it has a more melodic approach in the vocals and the chorus. The final track "Desperate" makes it all good, because this song is not only the best track on this CD, but is also a terrific song. "Desperate" is a melodic rocker (a la DOKKEN) and shows the band at their best. Heavy guitars, but very melodic vocals and a killer AOR orientated chorus that won't get out of your head after you heard it once. It reminds me a lot of an independent band called TEER, and a bit of MILLENIUM and EMERALD RAIN.
If the band would make more of such melodic rockers like "Desperate", then FEEL would be a band to look out for. Now I can only say they have one fantastic song ("Desperate"), one nice track ("The fear inside you") and one aggressive power metal track ("Hardcore").
You can hear them at their mp3 site at: http://www.mp3.com/feel.htm or their website at: http://www.homestead.com/feelrocks and e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to their postal address at: FEEL, PO Box 241, Columbus, Ohio 43216, USA
(Points: 7.0 out of 10)
DANGEROUS EYES-2ND BREATH (INDEPENDENT)
2ND BREATH is coming out of Germany and they have just released this 4-track mini-CD titled 'Dangerous eyes'. The band has a female lead vocalist, Christiane Möller. The CD starts with "Look around", the best track of the band. At the start you get hear some nice instrumental AOR sounds, while the song itself is a nice midtempo AOR/Melodic Rocktrack. Next track "Dangerous eyes" is uptempo melodic hardrock, but doesn't have such a strong chorus. The chorus of "A hard way" is better and this is a nice semi AOR ballad.
Closing track "Way to nowhere" is different than the rest, this is faster uptempo progressive melodic hardrock with some DEEP PURPLE/RAINBOW influences. Concluded, the band sounds instrumental pretty nice and the production by the band is also very good for an indie, only the songs are not strong enough to make this CD above all the other bands. The songs are nice to hear, but the band has to work a little more on the choruses, they have to be catchy. I think if the next CD has some catchier songs, this band will get better. The band has to develop themselves in the future and then I will think we can look forward to a good follow-up.
If you like the French band HEADLINE, you are gonna like this band a lot. For more info and mp3s of the band, browse over to their website at: http://www.mp3.com/2ndbreath and e-mail them at: email@example.com or write to their postal address at: 2nd Breath, Nollendorfstr. 4, 45892 Gelsenkirchen, Germany.
(Points: 7.0 out of 10)
WHEN ANGELS CALL-HEARTLAND (ESCAPE MUSIC)
HEARTLAND returns with a new release on Escape Music. The new CD 'When angels call' contains 14 tracks that are more like a best of to everything the band (and it's forerunner VIRGINIA WOLF) has offered us through the years. The couple of old VIRGINIA WOLF songs from the 80s as well as all the other tracks have been launched into a semi acoustic AOR rockballad album. The CD starts with the best track "Carrie Ann" and in this style the band continues with 13 more or less semi acoustic AOR songs. If you're a HEARTLAND fan, no doubt about it you will love this new CD. But I'm not so sure if an AOR fan will find this album so interesting, I would rather hear a complete new album of the band. However, the CD sounds pretty nice and if you browse over to the Escape Music website , you can judge for yourself if you find the CD attractive enough to buy it.
(Points: 7.5 out of 10)
WORLD OF TECHNOLOGY-GROUNDWORK
(FORT WAYNE PUBLISHERS)
GROUNDWORK is the first out of 3 Christian rockbands from Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA who all released a CD through Fort Wayne Publishers. If you're into late 70s/early 80s KANSAS, you must browse over through the website of GROUNDWORK (after reading this review) and order yourself a copy of this CD, because GROUNDWORK is very close to the sound of KANSAS around that period. If one band can proclaim they play Pomp Rock in 1999, then it is GROUNDWORK. Their debut CD is the CD the Pomprockfan has waited for since the last KANSAS masterpieces were released in the early 80s. Not only musically, but also the songwriting is comparable to KANSAS, although GROUNDWORK is a Christian band all the way and is praising the Lord more than KANSAS ever did.
The CD contains 11 tracks, and all have the big KANSAS influence (even the violin is included here and there). Opener "Superman" takes you right back into the KANSAS pomprock from the late 70s. Next track "Love you" is a very long epic semi-pomprockballad with of course again the KANSAS influence. Following track "Tragedy of deceit" is a nice 70s pomprocker that sounds like ROADMASTER, KANSAS, SUNBLIND LION… There are some pure pomp keys in here.
"Is Jesus your Lord?" has a good chorus a la SWEET COMFORT BAND, while the song itself is a nice 70s based rocker in the veins of HEAD EAST. After this nice track, the CD gets better and better. Such as "Can't live", a great uptempo 80s AOR rocker with some lovely hooklines and harmonyvocals. Definitely one of the best songs, just listen to the great sound. Followed by "World of technology" which is very good uptempo Pomprock in the SPY and KANSAS style. "Reflections" has classic pomp keys/synths and a great chorus, this is uptempo pomprock in the late 70s style. The violin over here is making it sound so close to KANSAS, you can't hardly find any difference between the two bands.
But the band is not just a KANSAS copy, because there are enough tracks that are sounding heavier than KANSAS. A track like "The story" is pretty heavy and sounds kinda like STREETS. Then comes the best track of the whole CD, namely "Who cares?". This song is an ultimate dream for AOR/Pomprock fans. A fantastic semi pomprockballad that sounds very impressive. This song has some classic AOR/Pomp piano-keys at the start and develops into such a wonderful track. The perfect cross between LE ROUX and KANSAS. Who would have thought that there still were bands out there I could describe this way!
The Pomprock continues on the following track "According to you". This is early 80s keyboard orientated Pomp/AOR like SWEET COMFORT BAND, PRIVATE LIGHTNING. POWERGLIDE… The chorus in the song is classic AOR/Pomp and features some brilliant vocals. The only less good part in this song is the weird vocal break just before that classy chorus. They should have left that part out, because that shouldn't be on such a classic Pomprocksong. Closing track "Sing alleluiah" has a superb start with early 80s keys/synths all over the place and sounding like ROADMASTER ('Hey world'), but as you might notice this isn't a real song, but a praise song in a Pomprockversion. All I can say is that this American band has surprised me in big way.
For the AOR/Melodic Rockfan of today this band will be too much late 70s/early 80s Pomprock based. But if you dig the old KANSAS, SPY, PRIVATE LIGHTNING (in fact, they sound very much like this band too), ROADMASTER, RATHSKELLER… you might need to check this band out, because GROUNDWORK is one of the few Pomprockbands around these days. For soundbytes of GROUNDWORK, visit their mp3 site at: www.mp3.com/groundwork or visit their website under http://members.aol.com/publishfw
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
VOLUME 1 AND 2-FREEDOM CAGE (INDEPENDENT)
FREEDOM CAGE is coming out of Miami, Florida. The band has released a CD titled 'Volume 1 and 2' which contains 16 tracks. They have opened up for QUIET RIOT, MR. BIG, PAT TRAVERS and others. FREEDOM CAGE has a pure 80s commercial melodic rocksound in the tradition of other Florida bands like BIG GUNS, SLYBOYZ, MILLENIUM, TEER and also some LOUD'N' CLEAR and early BON JOVI. There are also a couple of songs sounding like CITA.
The CD starts with "On my way", a great semi melodic rocker with a very catchy melodic AOR chorus with some nice harmonyvocals. These harmonyvocals are the trademark for the sound of FREEDOM CAGE. They sound very good and polished. "Never again" is the best track of FREEDOM CAGE, this is cheesy (and very cheerful) 80s melodic rock with some great hooklines, harmonyvocals and keys. To me this is how 80s melodic rock used to sound. Enjoy the sunshine and the girls while driving in a car and listening to such music. "Never again" is the pure classic 80s melodic rocksound similar in style to LOUD'N'CLEAR, MILLENIUM, SLYBOYZ and early BON JOVI. I wish the band would made some more of these uptempo rockers.
Happily, the slower songs of FREEDOM CAGE are also very good and impressive. A song like "Tears" is a great semi AOR ballad with some lovely harmonyvocals, a superb melodic guitarsolo and when hearing this song I know I am listening to the 80s sound, I love it! Also "Behind the veil" is a great AOR ballad that sounds very much like the CITA/Caught In The Act/Guild Of Ages ballads. Same goes for "Love will find", a groovy melodic rocker with a very melodic AOR chorus like the debut of CITA. Semi melodic rockballads like "Change of seasons" and "Wait till the sun shines" (a la BON JOVI ballads) does also sound pretty good.
But besides all these great melodic rocktracks, there are also some groovier melodic hardrocksongs that sound a bit average. Songs like "Killer in the night", "Takin me down", "Lonely survivor" and "Only blue skies" are not really sensational tracks and are quite different in style than those earlier mentioned songs. They remind me a bit of PANGEA. A little better is "Fantazy" which is very much in the early WINGER style.
Although not all 16 tracks are convincing, for the most part FREEDOM CAGE is a good melodic rockband with a quality sound that is very much in the 80s style. If you want to hear a mixture between CITA, SLYBOYZ, early WINGER and PANGEA (that new Danish Frontiers/Now&Then recording band) then you should get FREEDOM CAGE.
For a couple of cool mp3s of the band, visit http://www.mp3.com/freedomcage Over there you can also buy the CD of FREEDOM CAGE. You can e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to their postal address at: Eric Babl, 8101 sw 136 street, Miami, FL 33156, USA. A couple of members of FREEDOM CAGE also play in the band MACHINE MESSIAH. This band is in the same style as FREEDOM CAGE, so a review of their CD 'Messiah fallen' will be done pretty soon on our site.
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
THE MICHAEL RYAN BAND-THE MICHAEL RYAN BAND (JUVENILE RECORDS)
Michael Ryan Band is a band settled in Florida, USA. The leader of the band is of course MICHAEL RYAN, he is the vocalist and guitarist of the band. Musically the MICHAEL RYAN BAND moves into 80s commercial American orientated Melodic Rock a la KANE ROBERTS, WINGER, RICK MATHEWS and also some Partyrock like POISON used to bring us.
The CD has a good production by Michael himself and Fred Shaw. There are 11 tracks on the CD. The self-titled debut CD starts with "Lay it on the line", a nice cheerful 80s typed melodic rocker that sounds like a mixture between early WINGER and KANE ROBERTS. Next track "Hey" is a bit simple poprocker in the style of STEVE STONE, JIMMY HARNEN (his last CD) and SCOTT WENZEL (his second).
Following track "16 again" is out and out cheerful 80s party melodic rock that sounds like a cross between RICK MATHEWS and the third POISON album. This is really a catchy song! "Peace of mind" ain't the BOSTON track, this is a nice melodic rocker that is not unlike JOHNNY LIMA. The 80s Melodic Rock continue on "Cheap thrill", although this is more partyrock orientated a la DIRTY BLONDE. For the first time on the CD there are keys in the next song "Call my name", a good melodic rockballad.
The following track "Let's get crazy" is a bit too simple and sounds more like the throwaway L.A. Rock of the late 80s. Then comes one of the best tracks on the album, namely "Wanna make you mine". This is a good catchy 80s typed melodic rocker that has some great harmonyvocals and sound very cheerful. "Never too old" introduce again some keys and although it is a simple tune, the keys make it another good 80s melodic rocker.
The last two tracks are taking the level a bit down, because both "Get your head together" and "This town (is alright)" are simple Hard Rock. But in general this is a fairly good 80s typed melodic rockband with a nice CD release. If you like the partyrock influenced 80s melodic (hard) rock of acts like JOHNNY LIMA, early WINGER, KANE ROBERTS and especially RICK MATHEWS, you must look for this MICHAEL RYAN BAND.
Their website is currently under construction. For more info, e-mail them at: MRBFanClub@aol.com or write to their postal address at: Michael Ryan Band, 8175 Quail Rd., Largo, Florida 33777, USA
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
MOVING FORCE-SHAKRA (AOR HEAVEN/POINT MUSIC)
SHAKRA is a Swiss band that is playing exactly the same hardrockstyle as (the old) GOTTHARD. A little while ago they released their debut and now there is the follow-up 'Moving force'. This new CD is a bit more in the melodic heavy rockstyle of bands like VICTORY. Still, the reference to the early GOTTHARD albums is hard to deny.
I remember SHAKRA when they had no recorddeal and released a demo tape, which was back in 1996. That demotape still has it's value, because one of the songs, "Find another way", is still till this day a beautiful melodic rock/aor ballad in the BONFIRE style and the band didn't record it for their debut and it also isn't on their new album. A shame, because I still think that was their best song. Anyway, let's return to their new album. Like I said, most of the songs are a mixture between GOTTHARD and VICTORY. If you like these bands, then this is a must for you.
For the more Melodic Rock orientated fan, this CD will not be so interesting perhaps the semi melodic rockballad "And life begins". Also nice Melodic Rockers are "Wonder" (CASANOVA/BONFIRE style) and "Stranger". But tracks like "Don't try to call", "Those were the days" and "When the phone rings twice" are songs that are exactly in the same style as KROKUS/GOTTHARD. Simple and pure hard rock.
If there's one band that you can put the label of being a pure hardrockband on, it is SHAKRA. People who like this rockstyle will know what to expect of this CD. Available through AOR HEAVEN at: http://www.aorheaven.com
(Points: 7.0 out of 10)
HE'S NOT DEAD-SIN DIZZY (TIM GAINES MUSIC)
SIN DIZZY can be seen as the continuation of STRYPER. The band features former STRYPER members Oz Fox on vocals/guitars/drums and Timothy Gaines on bass. Musically the band has not much in common with STRYPER. The music of SIN DIZZY is a lot 90s metal based with some alternative rock influences. The first 6 tracks are all in this genre abnd are not really of interest for the melodic rockfan. However, the following 3 songs are a bit in the old STRYPER/WHITECROSS direction. "Rise above" is a semi melodic rockballad. "Long way to heaven" is a bit simpler, but nice melodic hardrocksong that reminds me a lot of the old WHITECROSS.
Then we get to hear the best track of this CD, namely "When the son comes back". This is more in the classic melodic rockstyle. A wonderful semi mainstream melodic rockballad sounding like a cross between SLAUGHTER, FIREHOUSE and STRYPER. If the band had put more songs in this style on the CD, it would have been much better and interesting. However, for the people who want to know what happened to the rest of STRYPER, check this SIN DIZZY release. Available through their website at: WWW.SINDIZZY.COM
(Points: 6.5 out of 10)
IN THE BEGINNING-CRYSTAL BALL (ZERO CORPORATION)
Somewhere else on our reviews pages you can read the review of the European release of the debut album of Swiss Melodic Rockers CRYSTAL BALL. Well, now the CD has also been released in Japan through Zero Corporation. And like most Japanese CDs, also this one comes with a bonustrack. The bonustrack on the CD of CRYSTAL BALL is "Silence of the night". This is a great melodic rockballad and as good as the rest of the CD clearly. The song is not on the European release through AOR Heaven, so if you liked that CD and want to hear more of the band you should buy this CD. However, it will be very expensive and for only one song, but it's a great song. You should make up your own mind. If you haven't bought the European release, then you may want to buy this Japanese version, because a bonustrack is always nice to have. For more info on this Swiss melodic rocksensation, visit the website of CRYSTAL BALL and e-mail them at: email@example.com
(Points: 9.0 out of 10)
SHINE ON-JOHNNY LIMA (SHOCK POP RECORDS)
Johnny already anounced it and so here's the American release of the second album of JOHNNY LIMA. Just like his debut, which was only released in America, this second album is also released through the label Shock Pop Records. Basically what you get are the ten tracks of the European version plus two new bonustracks that are NOT on the Now&Then Release. Both are great songs that are as good as the all the rest of Johnny's material. "In someone else's arms" is a beautiful AOR ballad that BON JOVI would be proud of. "Girl next door" is a huge arena melodic rocker with big harmonyvocals during the chorus. Easy to sing-a-long with this great song. If you like JOHNNY LIMA and haven't got these two songs, I think you should check up this American version of 'Shine on', because also these two songs are melodic rock killers. Read the review we did of the European release of 'Shine on' below on this page. For more info on JOHNNY LIMA visit his official website at: http://www.johnnylima.com
(Points: 9.0 out of 10)
EDGE OF TIME-SHARON (LIMB MUSIC)
This was rather a surprise to me, because at first sight I saw the label (Limb Music) and thought SHARON was one of those Progressive Metal bands, but when I started listening to their debut CD 'Edge of time' I heard something much more melodic than what we usually get to hear from bands on Limb Music. SHARON is a pure melodic hard rockband from Germany that also plays in the typical German style of bands like JADED HEART, BONFIRE and there are even similarities to FAIR WARNING on the slower songs. O.K., there are a few heavier songs, but also these songs are quite melodic rock based. If you love JADED HEART, you will love SHARON too.
On their self-produced CD are 12 tracks. Although it has been mixed by Charlie Bauerfeind, a well-known producer in the field of melodic metal (Gamma Ray, Angra, Thunderhead, Victory), the music of SHARON is not in this genre, but is like I already said much more melodic (hard) rock orientated. Only two tracks are heading into the heavier direction like the bands Charlie Bauerfeind has produced. These are the songs "Lies" and "Work", two faster melodic heavy rockers a la HELLOWEEN. The remaining 10 tracks are all in the melodic (hard) rock genre. And very good songs too.
Fantastic uptempo melodic rock can be heard in the songs "Stop draggin" (a la 80s DOKKEN, EMERGENCY, BONFIRE), "Once", "Waiting for the rain" (very melodic 80s guitarsound, song reminds me of JADED HEART meets CHALICE), "Miss the day" (similar to TERRA NOVA, only less keys), "Hold you" (again the JADED HEART reference, also here a very melodic guitarsound) and opener "Sweet family" (bit harder, but nice harmonyvocals and also this song could have been a JADED HEART song). These songs are also the best ones of SHARON, uptempo straight-ahead and very melodic.
The combination of guitars by Achim Jager, keys/guitars by Harold Merkx, the lead vocals by Tony Pinto and the backing vocals of all three work really well and give the band this melodic rocksound. Tony Pinto is maybe not the best singer in the world, but he has a good strong voice that is very suitable for this genre. Besides all these uptempo melodic rockers, the band has also some (even more) melodic rockballads on their CD. "Can you remember?" is a very nice melodic rockballad like JADED HEART, the same goes for "Take it or leave it".
The track "Love don't bother me" (not the STAGE DOLLS song) is a nice slowtempo melodic rocker and finally, the closing track "Is it true?" is sounding very much like FAIR WARNING, although the chorus even has some AOR influences a la TYKETTO. This last track is not only very good, but also sounds very different than the rest and sees the band creating an own style mixing the melodic rock with a blend of AOR, quite pleasant to hear this song!
It seems like the people from Limb Music have listened to my prayers for more melodic rock releases on their label, because after the great release of LANA LANE some time ago, we can now add another great release from a label that used to bring us only progressive metal. For more info on this release and other products of Limb Music, visit their website at: http://www.world-online.de/limb-music If you want to hear a mix between JADED HEART and BONFIRE, you can easily go for this SHARON.
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
LOST IN THE FIRE-ELLYN FLEMING (FEISTY BITCH RECORDS)
ELLYN FLEMING is coming out of Rhode Island, USA. She is one of those independent recording artists on the mp3.com website, which gives artists like here a chance to spread the word on their music. Ellyn has released her debut CD on Feisty Bitch Records. Ellyn, who also wrote all the 9 songs on the CD, produced the CD herself. Besides singing, she also plays guitar on the CD.
Musically, she has been compared to HEART, but I heard more influences of the early work of PAT BENATAR. This can be heard when listening to the opening track "Lost in the fire". A typical melodic poprocker in early 80s style, there are also some similarities to SHANDI. "All I am" is a bit in the JOSETTE style, only the vocals of Ellyn are clearly less melodic than Josette.
Next track "Tell it like it is" is doubtful, because it sounds a bit like an quirky poprocker like KARLA DEVITO and SHANDI every now and then did. Then we get to hear the best tracks on this CD, namely "Inside", a good 80s typed melodic pop/aor rocker with clearly similarities to the first couple of PAT BENATAR albums, and "I belong with you". The latter is the best track on the whole CD, an AOR based typical female Poprocker with some HEART influences.
Unfortunately, the rest of the CD is a bit simpler and more pop/rock based. It's not bad, but from my point of view she can do better. Songs like "Got to have you" and "I'm gonna take you there" are a big average and not catchy enough. The sound over here is more leaning towards HELEN SCHNEIDER, so this is not of interest for the fan of female fronted AOR./Melodic Rock.
However, if you like the first couple of Poprock albums of PAT BENATAR, SHANDI, KARLA DEVITO, then I can recommend you this CD. Download all the songs on the http://wwww.mp3.com website, while you can also visit Ellyn's website at: http://www.FEISTYB.COM and e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to the postal address at: Feisty Bitch Records, PO Box 3821, Newport, RI 02840, USA.
(Points: 7.5 out of 10)
CRASHIN' HOLLYWOOD-NETWORK (AOR HEAVEN)
NETWORK was one of those bands at the end of the eighties that were close to a major recorddeal (with Columbia Records) and possibly to a big breakthrough in the USA, but due to some problems it never happened. A shame, because most of these bands were pretty good and deserved to become as popular as SURVIVOR, JOURNEY or FOREIGNER. Anyway, we have had FREELANCE, SUNSHINE JIVE, UNDERFIRE and now also NETWORK who finally get what they had to wait for so many years; the release of their debut album.
NETWORK was formed in 1986 and is a collective of the Philadelphia (USA) area's best musicians from top regional bands. The band recorded 'Crashin' Hollywood' in 1989, but it never was released until now. At the end of June, the first full-length CD of NETWORK will be released through AOR HEAVEN/POINT MUSIC. This is an advance CDR I received and it already showed that this band is a winner for fans of pure AOR/Melodic Rock in the best 80s tradition. For example, if the VALENTINE CD with Hugo on lead vocals is one of your favourites, then you can easily buy this NETWORK, because the music is quite similar to that classic AOR/Melodic Rock release from 1989. But there are many more similarities (including a lot of AOR references to JOURNEY/SURIVOR), due caused to the bandmembers. Most of them became pretty known with other bands.
The line-up of NETWORK was Larry Baud - Lead vocals/Keyboards/Guitar (RED DAWN), Mark Eskey - Guitar, Greg Cellini - Keyboards, Jimmy Drnec - Drums (CINDERELLA) and Mark Evans - Bass (HEAVENS EDGE). So, it is not hard to compare the music to RED DAWN and HEAVENS EDGE, and indeed a couple of songs sound pretty much like those bands. There are 12 tracks on the CD and it is more than a must for every fan of 80s typed AOR/Melodic Rock. The production is terrific and the songs are the perfect mixture between AOR and Melodic Rock.
Opener "Break away" is a great uptempo 80s AOR/Melodic Rocker with harmonyvocals and keyboards that come right out of 'AOR Heaven'. "Love's gonna get ya" is simpler and adds some partyrock influences. But then the AOR is taking over and doesn't let go for the rest of the CD. "Shine on" is a great midtempo AOR song. One of the best AOR tracks I have heard recently is the song "Breakin' my heart". This is the ultimate AOR dream. A fantastic pure semi AOR ballad that is up there with SURVIVOR and also reminds me a bit of FRONTLINE (like their song "Another love"). With the right promotion back in the mid eighties, this song could have easily ended up on the number 1 position on the US Billboard charts. This is AOR from the highest quality you can get.
"Rock me" is holding this high level. This song is fantastic cheerful uptempo classic aor/melodic rock, very much in the mould of VALENTINE and the first DANGER DANGER. "Tell me why" has a very melodic guitarsound and is also uptempo aor/melodic rock that comes across like a mix between 80s DOKKEN and VALENTINE. Some HEAVENS EDGE styled melodic hard rock can be heard in the song "Love won't wait". Although the title seems to be very attractive for a classic AOR song, the song is just a nice melodic rocker and take things a little bit down.
But with the song "Suzanne" the band is at their best and most AOR orientated way. "Suzanna" is a classic midtempo AOR song. Those AOR keys and the lead vocals at the start are just pure SURVIVOR (circa 'Vital signs' and 'When seconds count'), you can't get more into pure AOR when hearing this. As the song develops, it gets a semi AOR ballad with some incredible AOR hooklines and a chorus that every fan of JOURNEY and THE STORM will fall for. "Suzanna" is really the best of AOR available at this moment. A cross between SURVIVOR and JOURNEY is very clear on this song.
Can't say that about the song "Chance of a lifetime". This is a classic cheerful uptempo melodic rocker that bands like FIREHOUSE, VALENTINE, HEAVENS EDGE, DOKKEN and DANGER DANGER did on their first couple of albums. Just listen to the wonderful intro with it's melodic harmonyvocals, this sounds very much like one of the songs on the debut album of HEAVENS EDGE ("Come play the game"). A great tune to sing-a-long! A bit lighter melodic rock is "Crashin' Hollywood", the titletrack, that has an unexpected saxsolo!
The boys are back on the AOR wagon with the track "Christina". This is superb midtempo AOR right up there with BAD ENGLISH, SURVIVOR and JOURNEY. Everything is just so perfect for making this a winner for the AOR fanatics. The keys, harmonyvocals, guitarsolo and catchy AOR chorus. This song just cannot be ignored by any AOR fan and a song like this should have been high in the charts back then and even now. But unfortunately that will not happen. The final track of this superb AOR/Melodic Rock CD is the track "No place like home", a lighter AOR track that sounds pretty close to TOTO (like their last CD and 'The seventh one' album).
Concluded, there is not much to add to this CD, except that you must buy it the moment it is released through AOR Heaven at the end of this month. NETWORK sounded like a mix between the 1989 VALENTINE album, RED DAWN and SURVIVOR. If you like any of these acts, then this is the band you are looking for. There is talk going on about releasing a follow-up to this album, so that will be very interesting for the future. Probably an interview with one of the guys on our site pretty soon. For now, wait until the end of June and then surf over to the website of AOR Heaven and order your copy of this superb CD of NETWORK.
(Points: 9.5 out of 10)
BURNING IN THE NIGHT-MAXIMUM FORCE (INDEPENDENT)
The Californian rockband MAXIMUM FORCE is actually a one-man band as multi-instrumentalist Ted Davantzis is the main man behind this project. Ted has been on the scene for almost 20 years now and during this long period he recorded several Demo Tapes, but never managed to release a full-length CD up until now.
Interesting detail is that he recruited Carey Kress as lead vocalist for most of the songs on this CD. Carey used to sing with FACE DANCER, an American melodic rockband that recorded two albums for Capitol Records back in the early 80s. And so we hear someone singing of whom we thought he had quit the music business a long time ago. Musically MAXIMUM FORCE is bringing us American Rock like it has been played from the mid 70s to the early 90s, which means there is place for every rockstyle (hard and soft) before Grunge invaded the world. There are 70s styled rockers, melodic rockers, heavy metal tracks, mainstream melodic rockballads…
There are 18 (!) tracks on the CD and all these different rockstyles are being used throughout the album. There are faster 80s typed uptempo melodic heavy rockers a la MARS (Project: Driver), RIOT, RAVEN… in the songs "Burning in the night", "Amie" and "Blood and thunder", these are a bit average songs according to me. A couple of rockers that will not bother many of you ("Without you", "How do I know" and "Deception").
But there are also some good melodic rocktracks. "Love is so vain", "Lay down" and "Dreamer" are nice (semi) melodic rockballads. Also "Missing you" is a nice semi-melodic rockballad, but this song has female lead vocals. Same goes for "Can't do me wrong", only this is more hard rock sounding and reminds me a little of the old TANTRUM. I heard some typical 80s LA-Rock (a la KEEL, ROUGH CUTT, RATT…) in the uptempo melodic rockers "On my way" and "Give it up", nice songs.
"Silver eagle" has a better sound/production than the rest of this CD strangely enough, and also features some nice keys. The song itself is a nice melodic rocker that is in the style of the lead vocalist's old band FACE DANCER. Also "Down town" has that same feeling.
Concluded, there is for every rocklover something of interest on this CD. For more info on MAXIMUM FORCE, visit their website at: http://www.maximumforce.com or http://maximumforce.iuma.com and e-mail at: email@example.com or write to their postal address at: Ted Davantzis, 1415 Mill St. #2, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401, USA
(Points: 7.0 out of 10)
This is the band we all have been waiting for. A pure AOR Band out of the United Kingdom that has released a fantastic 4-track mini-CD containing some superb AOR not heard since the days of FM, STRANGEWAYS, PEROUX… This band is going to be one of the best independent recording bands in no time and should easily get a recorddeal to either Escape Music or MTM Music. Musically it is in the old FM style, but this band is also clearly in the Escape Music style of bands like NEWMAN, CHANGE OF HEART… But I think SUGARTOWN is better.
Looking at the pictures of their CD, I see the bandmembers of SUGARTOWN are quite young of age, so the future is looking bright for these guys. Their self-produced debut CD sounds very good and has a high quality. No fillers here! The band is close to what I should call 'The perfect AOR-sound'. The CD starts with "Let it burn", a fantastic uptempo AOR rocker like a mix between CHANGE OF HEART and the first FM album. Just listen to the lovely keys and harmonyvocals in this pure AOR song.
Next track "Alone" is the best track of the band. The song starts slow with some great aor piano-keys a la SURVIVOR, when suddenly there is an explosion and the song turns out to be a classy uptempo AOR rocker that sounds very cheerful. The hooklines, keys and harmonyvocals are making this song sound pretty close to what FM did on their debut album 'Indiscreet'.
Following track "Tomorrow never comes" starts as a semi AOR ballad, before turning into a great uptempo AOR song a la ROXUS and the old STRANGEWAYS. The final track on this superb mini-CD is "Pray", another uptempo AOR rocker with a lovely AOR guitarsound.
This band is a must if you're into NEWMAN, old STRANGEWAYS, CHANGE OF HEART, first FM, PEROUX… This is British AOR at it's best! Check out their website at: http://www.sugartown5.freeserve.co.uk
In our next issue of the magazine an interview with this hot new AOR sensation from the U.K. Thanks must go out to Bruce from Indigo Glow for bringing this band to my attention.
(Points: 9.0 out of 10)
Remember the debut album 'Special delivery' of this Canadian AOR/Radiorockband MESSENGER? That album was full of fantastic typical Canadian 80s AOR/Radiorock a la SANTERS, QWEST, 80s LOVERBOY… A review of this classic album can be read by clicking here. Now the band has released a follow-up, I never would have thought they would release another album, because the band was very hard to trace up until now.
Their new album is titled 'Habitual' and unfortunately the 80s AOR sound has been put aside and the more modern rocksounds have influenced the band. Happily, not the whole album is sounding like some 90s alternative rockband, because there are still a couple of good melodic rocktracks. I general, this new CD has not much to do with AOR. A shame, because their debut was such a great AOR release. However, the production is much better than their first release.
The production was done by new bassist Ken Scardina. The updated sound can already be heard on the first track "Next of kin" which is still a nice melodic rocker. Modern rock takes over on the next couple of tracks ("Down", "If you got what you want" and "The world alive"). Fortunately, the rest of the CD is more like their debut. In fact, "Old ghosts" is a good midtempo AOR song with some good vocals of guitarist Richard Getson.
"A hard road" is a nice uptempo melodic rocker that sounds a bit like the classic 80s AOR/Radiorock of their debut. Same goes for "Protest song", the closing track. The three songs I haven't mentioned yet are a mixture of today's modern rock with some nice melodic vocals like in the 80s style. Maybe not unlike the band FIORE, although MESSENGER is more into today's rock.
If you liked their debut 'Special delivery', you will first have to listen to their new album, because sometimes the album is akin more into today's modern 90s rockstyle than the classic AOR sounds of their debut. The CD can be purchased through their web site (10.99 Canadian dollars + SH) and delivery to Europe will be honored.
Visit their interactive website for clips of this CD at: http://www.witzer.com and e-mail MESSENGER at: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to their postal address at: Messenger, 24007-4440 West Saanich Rd., Victoria B.C., V8Z 7E7, Canada.
(Points: 7.5 out of 10)
DEMO SONGS FOR 1. ALBUM-GREENHOUZE (PROMOTION CDR)
GREENHOUZE is the brainchild of Lars Berget, a 28-year old guitarist/synthesizerplayer from Oslo, Norway. Together with lead vocalist Lars-Thomas Gronlien he recorded 10 songs during 1997-1998 and released them on this promotional CDR as the project GREENHOUZE. Musically GREENHOUZE moves into a lighter AOR style with Symphonic influences and also some very calm (almost New Age) parts. However, for the main part this CD is AOR based.
Opener "Here in the air" for example is a nice midtempo AOR song that reminds me a little of DAVE BALDWIN, only vocally it is much more symphonic orientated. If we listen further to the CD, we can hear a couple of more midtempo AOR based songs such as "Trainsong" and "The point". On the other hand there are also a couple of very calm progressive kinda epic songs such as "Your eyes made me remember", "Tall grasses", "Everything" and "Highway in the sun". These 4 songs remind me a little of the last STRANGEWAYS album. These tracks have nothing to do with AOR.
It's a pity there are no uptempo AOR rockers on the album, except for "Snow on the roof", which is one of the best tracks on this CD. This is a cheerful uptempo AOR rocker that has a very melodic rocksound, it's also the only instrumental song on the CD. I had rather heard vocals on this track.
I can recommend this CD to people who want to hear a different type of AOR, namely calm progressive orientated AOR material. For more info, visit their website at: http://greenhouze.com or e-mail them at: email@example.com or write to their postal address at: GREENHOUZE MUSIC, Storgt. 11, 3183 Horten, Norway.
(Points: 7.5 out of 10)
COME NEAR-MAX. (INDEPENDENT)
MAX. is a band out of Switzerland. They have a female lead vocalist and on their debut CD 'Come near' they sound a lot like FIGHTER, which means this CD is very interesting for the fans of female fronted AOR. The CD was released in 1996 and contains 8 tracks and has a very good sound and production for an indie.
'Come near' opens with "Boy in the car", a good melodic rocker a la VENUS AND MARS, including some nice keys. Next track "I feel good" is a nice uptempo aor/poprocker with some nice keys again. This song is in the 80s style and reminds me of a cross between other Swiss rockers DAYTONA and LISA NEMZO (weird mixture isn't it?).
"No chance to play" is taking things to a calmer direction. Still, this song is also pretty nice. A radiofriendly AOR ballad a la FIGHTER. Following track "Too late to learn" has a very good start with again those lovely keys of keyboardist Christian Stark. The song is a bit poppy and groovy, but the chorus is pretty good and is clearly AOR orientated. The guitarsolo makes it a very AOR styled song.
Then comes the titletrack "Come near", definitely one of the best tracks. This is a very strong midtempo AOR song that sounds like a mix between HEART and FIGHTER. The song has hooklines, harmonyvocals and a great guitar/keyboardsound which makes this song the most AOR orientated track on the CD. But also the next track "The reason why" is very much in the AOR school. The great 80s AOR keys of this song make this song another winner for fans of female fronted AOR like FIGHTER. Also the closing track "Nothing to say" is in this style.
The only track I haven't mentioned yet is "Thrown away", a nice light AOR ballad that has some chances to become a hitsingle. Concluded, there is no weak track on this 8-track CD of the Swiss band MAX. If you like FIGHTER, then you should check up this band for sure.
After the band released this first CD 'Come Near' their lead vocalist Simone Meier left the band and the band recruited Jasmin Lechner as new vocalist. With her they are preparing a new long-player CD to be published approximately by the end of this year.
For more info, visit their website at: http://members.xoom.com/maxmusic or to download MP3-files go to http://www.audiograbber.com/artists/12/max1.html and e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to their postal address at: Christian Stark, Wydenmattsteg 6, 4227 Busserach, Switzerland.
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
BIDIN' OUR TIME-SEVEN SEALS (INDEPENDENT)
This German band out of Lubbecke is playing melodic hard rock that reminds me very much of the typical Swedish melodic hard rock. There are 13 tracks on the debut CD of SEVEN SEALS that was actually released in 1994, but still nobody has discovered this band. A shame, because this band has a very good melodic rocksound. The production of lead vocalist/guitarist Franky Tienemann and bassist Daniel Seebass is very impressive and crystal clear.
The CD opens with a faster uptempo melodic heavy rocker that reminds me of a cross between 220 VOLT, NATION and PRETTY MAIDS. The Scandinavian orientated melodic rock of this German band continues on the following tracks. "Gypsy" is midtempo AOR/Melodic rock that has some good harmonyvocals, a catchy chorus and some great piano-keys that make it sound like an AOR song. This catchy song reminds me of DAVINCI crossed with ZEELION.
Next track "Tonight" is 80s typed cheerful uptempo melodic rock that is very catchy and has a chorus that you can easily sing-a-long. Fantastic song! It reminds me of DOMINOE, CRAAFT… A typical German/European AOR/Melodic rocker. The following melodic rockers are nice to hear, but are not as sensational as the previous tracks "Tonight" and "Gypsy", the two best tracks of the whole CD. Still, a track like "Big love" is a nice calmer melodic rockballad.
But from track 7 on, there are again some superb melodic rocktracks. "Take a walk" for example has a great keyboard/guitar intro and develops into a wonderful uptempo melodic rocker in the 80s style. Next track "Emergency" is another fantastic uptempo 80s typed melodic rocker that sounds very cheerful. "Emergency" is the best song on the CD according to me. "Gutter blues" is the first and only weak track on this rather great CD. From the tracks I haven't mentioned, the best ones are "Hand in hand" (midtempo melodic rocker with great keys) and "Send me and angel" (melodic rockballad).
SEVEN SEALS has released a great CD a couple of years ago that sadly never got the attention it deserved. Still, I hope a lot of people will now re-discover this band and buy this great album. At the moment the band is working on a follow-up which is scheduled for release pretty soon. For now, you can get more info on SEVEN SEALS through their website at: http://www.sevenseals.de and http://www.rockcitystudio.de or e-mail them at: F.Tienemann@t-online.de or write to their postal address at: Daniel Seebass, Heinrich-Vormbrockerstr. 62, D-32312 Lubbecke, Germany.
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
SELF-INDULGENCE, INC-KERRY DENNEY (INDEPENDENT)
This CD of the American guitarist KERRY DENNEY contains 17 tracks and is partly instrumental and partly vocal. Kerry has been influenced by Michael Schenker and if you listen to the songs on this CD you can hear clearly that Kerry has a lot of similarities to the 70s melodic rock. The first vocal track is "Creepin' up on me", a nice late 70s styled melodic rock with a catchy chorus that reminds me of RIGGS. "Lady ecstasy" is one of the better tracks on this CD, a nice 70s based melodic rock that has some UFO references.
After some instrumental tracks, with "Fantasy night" being a very nice melodic rocksong with some great guitarplay by Kerry, there are a couple of weaker 90s based pop/rock songs in the shape of "Nobody knows" and "Happy plastic people". Happily, later on the CD the music is again more melodic rock orientated in the tracks "Brand new day" (early 80s poprock influences), "You were never there" (midtempo melodic rock with some very good melodic harmonyvocals) and "Just a game" (semi melodic rockballad in 70s classic rockstyle).
Most of the other tracks are instrumental that are nice to hear on the background, but I would prefer more vocal tracks on a follow-up to this CD. However, 17 tracks will be enough to satisfy a lot of different rockfans. For more info, visit his website at: http://www.kerryssii.iuma.com or e-mail Kerry at: email@example.com
(Points: 7.0 out of 10)
BEST OF SUNSET STRIP, HOLLYWOOD -WANTED:KENNY JAMES (INDEPENDENT)
WANTED was one of those typical American mainstream rockacts of the early 90s. In the scene of Hollywood, California, the band had a pretty big reputation, but when the grunge scene took over, things didn't look so bright for the band anymore. However the band managed to release this CD in 1994/1995 in Europe and nowadays it is pretty hard to get.
The CD is a collection of songs the band recorded in their existence. Musically it is in the typical American Arena Melodic Hard Rockstyle of bands like SLAUGHTER, TRIXTER, FIREHOUSE… Opener "Avenue of sleaze" is sounding a bit different than the rest, this is a bit simple SKID ROW based Hard Rock. But the following track, "Say goodbye", is pretty good. An uptempo melodic rocker in the style of bands like FIREHOUSE, VOXEN, SLAUGHTER…
Other good tracks are "All the people" and "2nd best" which are both nice semi melodic rockballads. From the remaining 6 tracks, we can hear 3 covers ("Hey Joe", "Friend or foe" and "Needle and the spoon"), 1 short intro ("Intro") and a couple of tracks that are Hard Rock based and similar to early SKID ROW.
For more info on this CD, visit the website of bandleader and vocalist/guitarist Kenny James at: http://www.diamondhard.com/artists/wanted.htm and e-mail him at: KLit5@aol.com The CD is available for sale for $15, while you can also buy a cassette tape of the album for $10.
(Points: 7.0 out of 10)
DEMO BOOTLEG RECORDINGS-K&D
(DEMO TAPE/CD BOOTLEG)
K&D SONGS is the continuation of WANTED: KENNY JAMES. I don't know when this demo was released, but it's still available through Kenny's website, so here's a review of it. The demotape includes 6 songs and opens with one of the best ones on the tape. "New horizons" is a good melodic rocksong. Next track "Nitz" is a groovier Hard Rock orientated track that is sounding pretty weird and even includes some Faith No More influences, this is not interesting for the fan of our kind of music.
Happily, the following tracks are more in the melodic rockstyle. "Superstar" is a nice mainstreamrockballad that sounds like a mixture between SLAUGHTER and ENUFF'Z'NUFF. "Forever" is a nice semi melodic rockballad and "NYC & a dime" is a nice melodic rock'n'roll track in the early 90s style of bands like CRYSTAL ROXX, WARRANT… Closing track "Waterfalls" is a bit 90s based rockballad that reminds me a lot of ENUFF'Z'NUFF. You can order this album on CD (for $12) or on tape (for $10) through Kenny's website at: http://www.diamondhard.com/artists/wanted/wanted.htm
(Points: 7.0 out of 10)
KINGS KARMA-KINGS KARMA (INDEPENDENT)
KINGS KARMA is a band out of Nürnberg, Germany. They were formed in 1996 and released this debut mini-CD in 1998. Although the CD 'Kings karma' counts only 4 tracks, this band is very interesting.
Opening track "Back in time" is namely a classic AOR song. This song has it all to become a winner for the fan of pure AOR. It is 80s based and is just so JOURNEY sounding, you can't ignore to fall in love with this song if albums like 'Escape' or 'Raised on radio' of JOURNEY are high on your all-time favourite AOR albums. The keys, the impressive dramatic lead vocals of Joschi Hensel, the guitarsolo and the super AOR chorus are making this song so incredibly good. Even MTM Music would become jealous for not having a song like this in their collection of released albums. The sound and production (by the band and M. Bliemel) are also very good.
Besides the JOURNEY reference, there are also some similarities to independent AOR bands like RUBICON, ONE EIGHTY… "Back in time" is just a classic AOR song in the best 80s tradition. Unfortunately the other 3 songs on the mini-CD are not as good as the opening track, still nice to hear.
"Get back" is a nice semi AOR/Pomprockballad that sounds like a mixture between KANSAS, STYX and JOURNEY! "On my way" is taking things into a slightly more progressive AOR style, still the chorus is very nice and AOR based. This song reminds me of MYSTERY, the Canadian band.
Closing track "Time" is a bit average 90s based progressive ballad, with no AOR references. KINGS KARMA is a very professional band playing both AOR and Progressive AOR material. If you like the Canadian band MYSTERY, you will love this band. Though, a JOURNEY fan cannot ignore the opening tune of this CD, "Back in time". I hope the band will make more of such uptempo AOR songs, then they are close to the top of German AOR.
At the moment the band is working on their second CD. For more info, check out their webpage at http://kingskarma.de There you can get the latest info on Kings Karma, Concert Dates and also download mp3 songs!
You can also listen to their songs at: http://mp3.com/KINGsKARMA
You can contact them at the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Postal address: Alexander Ipfelkofer, Wuerzburger Ring 39,
91056 Erlangen, Germany.
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
HAVE IT YOUR WAY-DOUBLE ECLIPSE (ADVANCE TAPE)
This is a British Melodic Hard Rock/Heavy Rock band that has just recently released their debut CD titled 'Have it your way'. The band has quite a heavy sound, but the choruses are always very melodic. Lately we have had more bands with that approach, bands like TALISMAN, EMERALD RAIN, TEER and JYNX are good examples. In this category also belongs this band. Opener "Soul stealer" is a fine example of the sound of the band. A nice groovy melodic rocker like a mixture of HARDLINE crossed with a heavy MR. BIG, though a melodic chorus. The following song "Sally" has an early WINGER/WARRANT kinda chorus that is quite catchy.
Then we come to the best track of the band, the lovely melodic rock/aor ballad "Heaven help me" which is in the style of the TALISMAN/TAKARA Ballads. There are some WHITESNAKE influences in "You took it all". "Throw it all away" is a bit too much based on the 90s with some Metal riffs here and there. The melodic chorus in this song makes it worth listening to. A comparison to the third HAREM SCAREM on this song is the result. Same goes for the slowtempo rocksong "Isolation". Happily, "Need your love" is moving into AOR territory. This song has a killer AOR Chorus that has the old TYKETTO feeling. Although there are still many heavy guitar riffs, this song is recommended to the AOR fans.
The next song ("Have it your way") is the only weak song on the album and can be described as groovy Hard Rock without a chorus. The short chorus in "For the lonely" is very melodic with nice harmonyvocals. Final track "Will you be there" is a nice acoustic ballad.
This band has a sound combining heavy Guitar Riffs with melodic harmonyvocals during the Chorus. This style was introduced by HAREM SCAREM a few years back on 'Mood swings' and now DOUBLE ECLIPSE follow this style of Melodic Hard Rock. Only I think the AOR fans will find this band too heavy. For the fan of a bit heavier Melodic Hard Rock a winner. You can get a copy of their CD by calling to: +44 (0) 114 276 9177 or visit their WebSite at: http://www.thirt772.demon.co.uk/Thirt772/Index.html
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
OTHER VOICES-CRYSTAL TEAR (CRYSTAL TEAR RECORDS)
CRYSTAL TEAR is another American melodic rockband from the state of New Jersey. It seems like that this is the most important state in the USA to look for bands of our beloved genre. CRYSTAL TEAR is more like an independent recording band. They recorded a lot of material between 1987 and 1993 (?) and 10 songs have been put on this CD called 'Other voices' that has been available for a few years. The band split up years back, but last rumours told me they were going to reform and there are plans to release more of their recorded material on CD.
The production of David Bourke and the band is not so good unfortunately, but musically this band sounds pretty good. A few issues back we had a band called BLUE RAIN and musically Crystal Tear is sounding like them in some ways. The songs sound very enthusiastic and diverse in all of the styles of the melodic rock genre. Opener "Other voices" is definitely the strongest and best song of the band. Very impressive harmonyvocals are opening this song that later develops into a fantastic midtempo AOR-rocker with a lovely and catchy chorus that doesn't get out of your head after you heard it once.
I could not believe my eyes when I heard the following track "The way you move". This great song sounds like the famous US Poprock of the early 80's and gave me memories of STRANGER (their first release in 1982) and especially RICK SPRINGFIELD (circa 'Success hasn't spoiled me yet'). This is probably one of their oldest songs, because this kind of melodic rock isn't made anymore. Then things began to slow down with the lovely AOR ballad "Empty bed" that is sounding like a mixture of the ballads of SURVIVOR (circa 'Caught in the game') and 38 SPECIAL.
The next track "Follow me down" is the first song that didn't really grap my attention, as it is a groovy melodic rocker like thousands of others. The following song "Look gets down" is again a great song and can be described as a semi AOR-ballad. Things are getting rockier on the next track and it is clear that these rockier songs are the best ones of the band. "Keep dreamin'" is in the tradition of uptempo AOR/Melodic Rock with lots of classic harmonyvocals. This song is sounding like TORINO, JET RED, AIRKRAFT, BRITTON and even the old DANGER DANGER (only with a less production).
These comparisons can also be made in the following 2 songs which are "Don't walk away" (a lovely AOR ballad) and "Enough's enough" (uptempo melodic rocker with a nice guitarsound). The latter is actually more moving to the sound of the classic debut album of STRANGER from 1982. In a lot ways CRYSTAL TEAR is sounding like that album. The closing 2 tracks "Second shot" and "Fade away" are both calmer BON JOVI orientated ballads and sound pretty good, but not too heavy. With a better production and some more guitars and keyboards, this album would have been much better. Still, I like this album and it is recommendable to fans of any of the mentioned acts. If you own the BLUE RAIN CD and liked that one, then this CD is yours. The band is currently looking for a recorddeal in Europe or Asia. If you're interested in contacting the band, you should check their website at: http://www.csionline.net/~crystal or e-mail guitarist Steve Avalone at: email@example.com or write to their post address at: Steve Avalone, 1333 Third Avenue South, Naples, Florida 34102, USA.
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
THE MESSAGE-POSITION (INDEPENDENT)
Another act out of New Jersey (not the whole band, but a few members). American rockers POSITION are not sounding like the standard melodic rockacts out of this area (Norway, Tour De Force), but are heavier in some parts. They sound like a rough melodic hardrockband from the 80's, a bit like a mixture of KEEL, KISS and KIX with a more melodic approach. There are 13 tracks on the CD and I found the two (semi) ballads the best ones and both sounding very melodic rock orientated. I'm talking about the songs "Angel (of the morning)" (a cover of a 70's poptrack) and "Steal your heart". Both are a bit similar to the early BON JOVI style. At the end of the CD we can hear the best rockers such as "Edge of love", "Are you the one" and "She's gonna tease", all 3 are good melodic hardrock.
Though my favourite song of the whole album is the closing track "Treat me right" that sounds totally different than the rest. This song starts with a great keyboard/guitar interplay that even sounds like the 70's Pomprock and develops into a great melodic rocker with a chorus that also includes those pomprock influences. Conclusion is that the CD is a nice melodic hardrock album that is sounding a bit like some of those other independent acts we had the past few years such as MIRROR or JAMILYA, only heavier. If you're interested you can e-mail them at: POSITIONNJ@AOL.COM or write to their post address at: Position, 1230 Redwood Ave., Folsom, PA 19033, USA.
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
DON'T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB-ROBERT
(DOCKSIDE MUSIC RECORDS)
Another great CD coming out of the New Jersey area. 'Don't quit your day job' is the debut CD of the American artist ROBERT MURDOCK. Robert has worked with producers such as David Prater (FIREHOUSE) and Franke Previte (FRANKE & THE KNOCKOUTS), so he had a little experience before he recorded his first CD. The music is not typical New Jersey melodic rock, but is more pure AOR orientated and it sounds great!
The AOR style is somewhere between BRETT WALKER, MARK SPIRO and WAYNE SMART. Plinky (GLEN BURTNICK) and Robert himself produced the CD. Robert plays bass, drums and sings of course. Other musicians include guitarists Lee Scott Howard and Bobby Lane and keyboardists Plinky and Peter Kanewsky. Opener "Nowhere to run" is a good start and gives you a good idea of the AOR style of Robert. It's a great pure AOR song like BRETT WALKER and has a lovely guitarsolo.
"Kerri" has that classic AOR rockfeeling and is similar in style to MICHAEL MORALES. "Lead me to heaven" is a pure AOR ballad with a lovely guitarsolo. "Every time I'm without you" is a great uptempo AOR song that has a 'sweet' chorus and could be a winner for the US Radiostations. The next track "Old post road" is the least interesting track, but still is nice midtempo AOR. The following song "Something about you" is probably the best song of the CD. This is a wonderful and very strong semi-AOR-ballad that is as good as MARK SPIRO. The following AOR ballad "I need a miracle" is not as good as the previous ballad, but still is quite nice.
The closing track of the CD is "She's the world to me" and this song is another winner for the fans of 'pure' AOR. Fantastic uptempo AOR that is almost as good as SIGNAL or ALIAS! This is just a great CD and very much recommended to fans of pure AOR. The only negative point is that there are only 8 tracks on the CD and it has a playing time of only 37 minutes, nevertheless you'll get 37 minutes of great music and that's more important. This CD has been out for a while and we can now only hope Robert is considering a follow-up, because his talent proves he is able to make many more great albums. For more information you should visit the website of Dockside Music Records at: http://home.att.net/~docksidemusic/RMurdock.htm or e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org or write them at: PO Box 1269, Edison, NJ 08818-1269, USA.
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
FOREVER GYPSY-FOREVER GYPSY (EBONY RECORDS)
FOREVER GYPSY is an American band from the midwest, to be exact they hail from South Bend, Indiana. All the bandmembers have a variety of musical influences and this makes the melodic hardrock of FOREVER GYPSY sounding different than most other bands. The melodic rock of the band does have a lot of influences from the 70's and comparisons are hard to make. Robin Ellis produced the CD and it contains 12 tracks.
Lead vocalist/Keyboardist Tony Long (ex-STEEL BREEZE) gives the music a melodic touch. Opener "Gone" is a fine example of the sound of FOREVER GYPSY, this is uptempo melodic rock that has got some similarities to CRY WOLF and especially EVERY MOTHER'S NIGHTMARE. Same goes for the songs "Black morning", "Julian" and "Destiny". There is a lot of variety in material, because besides these melodic rocksongs (these are the best tracks), we can also hear a JIMI HENDRIX influenced instrumental groovy rocker ("A.F. 69"), 90's influenced heavy rock ("My magic head trip" and "From the inside", both pretty weak) and the closing track "Through the forever zone" is a trip to all the styles of this band. This 10-minute epic takes you through a ride from a grungy start to a very melodic ending in 80's tradition with a great guitarsolo and after 5 minutes a very melodic chorus that finishes this rather interesting song. Concluded we can say that this band is not recommended to those of you that want to hear the cheerful standard melodic rock. I would recommend it to the open minded melodic hardrock fan that appreciates other musical influences. Check their website at: www.ebonyrecords.com or sent them an e-mail at: email@example.com or write to their post address: Ebony Records, PO Box 2645, South Bend, IN 46680, USA.
(Points: 7.0 out of 10)
DEMO TAPE-COLUMN A (DEMOTAPE)
This is really an excellent Demo Tape including 6 classy A.O.R./FM-rock songs. Leader of the band is Jim Agnello who plays guitars. Phil Balzano, who left the band I believe, does the lead vocals. His voice is very impressive and is somewhere a mix of MARK FREE and MIKE RENO. Also musically we have to deal here with such a mixture. The sound is pure AOR similar in style to acts like FAKE I D, SIGNAL, ALIAS, PASSION STREET and in a lot ways to the classic debut album of MARK FREE. The AOR fanatics do known then that we have to deal here with a new sensation in the AOR scene. This is indeed right, because without any problems this 6-song Tape is from a very high quality. Not only musically, but also the production of Rob Friedman is very good.
Opener "Inherit the earth" is a great AOR song that is sounding like a mixture of MARK FREE, PETE SANDBERG and FREDDY CURCI. The next 2 tracks are almost classics in the AOR genre. "Carried away" is pure midtempo AOR like ALIAS, SIGNAL, 1st MARK FREE, FAKE I D… I haven't heard this kind of classic AOR style on a Demo Tape since the Demo Tape of PASSION STREET a few years back. It just totally blows me away!
"Don't deny me" is just as good and is a lovely semi-AOR-BALLAD in the same style as the mentioned acts. Side-B of the Tape opens with "Begging you", a great AOR song that follows the style of the opener of Side-A, only with the addition of some acoustic guitars. The following track "Once and for all" is probably the best track on this Tape. This is really fantastic classic AOR that is as good as the 1st MARK FREE and SIGNAL albums. The song has everything a good AOR song needs, which is keys, melodic guitarsolos, superb vocals (like MARK FREE) and a killer chorus. The closing track "Doesn't take much" is again great midtempo AOR, this time the sound is comparable to MARK SPIRO, BAD ENGLISH, 80's JOHN WAITE…
I think you get the picture. This is a must for every AOR fan! It's hard for me to understand why this band hasn't been signed by any of the European AOR labels (MTM Music, Escape Music or Now & Then), because this is as good as most material these labels put out and that's from a very high quality. COLUMN A also has such a high quality. Right now, leader Jim Agnello is working on new material that he will release on CD. He is auditioning new singers at the moment. This CD will be an independent release, so to get your copy of that or this Demo Tape you must contact Jim at the following address: Jim Agnello, 23412 Pacific Park, #40D, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656, USA or e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Points: 9.0 out of 10)
RAINBOW IN YOUR EYES-BLACK ROSE (ATS RECORDS)
I think the bandname BLACK ROSE is one of the most used bandnames in the history of AOR and Melodic Hardrock. There is a Swedish melodic hardrockband, two American bands, an English band and now we can add an Austrian band with the bandname BLACK ROSE. A little bit confusing, but musically also this BLACK ROSE is sounding pretty good. This is their debut, which they released in 1996. 'Rainbow in your eyes' contains 13 tracks and the band described their music as High-energy Rock, which is a good description. I would describe the music of this BLACK ROSE as Canadian orientated AOR/Poprock in the style of bands like BYSTANDER and HONEYMOON SUITE.
Opener "Rainbow in your eyes" is a good cheerful uptempo melodic rocker like WHITE LION/WILD FRONTIER. The Canadian influences can be heard in the next song "Dreaming", a great uptempo aor/melodic rocker with lovely keys and a nice guitarsolo. This song is similar in style to BYSTANDER and HONEYMOON SUITE. Be careful, because not the whole CD is sounding like these bands, because the following tracks "Nobody knows" and "Anything to share" are weak songs. But happily the rest of the CD develops into a fine album. My favourite track is "How will it be" which is fantastic uptempo pure AOR and especially this song could have been on any HONEYMOON SUITE album. I'm not saying it's a copy, it's just a great song that will please all the fans of this band.
More of the typical Canadian aor/poprock can be heard in "Only a man" (great keys), "She", "Break all chains" and "Mama". All 4 are a great mixture of HONEYMOON SUITE and BYSTANDER. "She is so beautiful" and "Heaven in your arms" are two nice ballads. The remaining two tracks are a cover ("Eleanor rigby" and an instrumental ("Audience"). This BLACK ROSE has surprised me a lot with this rather good album that is recommended to the fans of the mentioned acts.
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
TIME DOESN'T MATTER AT ALL-BLACK ROSE (ATS RECORDS)
This is the follow-up to above reviewed 'Black Rose'. The Austrian band continues their musicstyle of their debut. The melodic rock of BLACK ROSE does have a diverse range of styles of this musicstyle. The CD 'Time doesn't matter at all' has also had a Japanese release. There are 11 tracks on the album. Opener "Body and soul" is a nice (bit groovy) melodic rocker like WHITE LION on their last CD. The next song "Lose my mind" is an uptempo melodic rocker like a cross between LITTLE YANKEES and the old SUBWAY, the song is a bit too cheerful. After two nice tracks ("Time doesn't matter at all" = slowtempo melodic rock and "Live without tomorrow" = acoustic ballad), the following three tracks are pretty good. "Secret lovers" is a cheerful uptempo aor/melodic rocker in the style of 1st/2nd HAYWIRE albums, HONEYMOON SUITE… This is the sound of BLACK ROSE I want to hear, totally different than the first 4 songs. The song also reminds me very much of the last classic PSEUDO ECHO album ('Race'). Same goes for "Christina".
"Christina" is probably the best track of BLACK ROSE. This is a fantastic midtempo pure AOR song that also can be compared to ROXUS and the 2nd/3rd STRANGEWAYS albums. There are even SURVIVOR styled piano-keys in the song that makes it even more AOR than it is. The following track "Steal away" has some great AOR keys in the middle of the song. The song itself is a nice melodic poprocker that comes across like a mix between BYSTANDER and THE KOO. Unfortunately, after these 3 impressive AOR songs, follow some disappointing tracks.
For example the songs "In the name of love" (softer ballad), ""Reaching out" (acoustic camp-fire rocker like John Cougar with melodic harmonyvocals) and "The black rose" (popsong like Sting!) are hardly interesting for a fan of aor/melodic rock. The only song I haven't mentioned is "Only heaven knows" which is a nice semi-aor-ballad. Despite some pop orientated tracks at the end of the CD, I can still recommend this CD to the fans of AOR. Especially the track "Christina" is very good and a must for AOR fans. The rest of the CD is a bit up and down, but mainly BLACK ROSE is a good melodic rockband.
Without any doubts, one of the best bands coming out of Austria. If you're beginning to become interested in hearing their music you should visit the WebPages of their recordcompany at: http://members.aon.at/ats or e-mail them at: email@example.com or write them at: ATS Records, A-4591 Molln, Breitenau 7, Austria.
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
Another Christian AOR act from America. The debut CD 'Circus' contains both pure AOR and more West Coast orientated songs. To my surprise JEFF CANNATA co-produced the CD. The CD opens with "So long to yesterday", a great semi AOR ballad with a chorus like BOSTON/RTZ. The next track "Guilty" is a good calmer semi AOR ballad with very nice harmonyvocals during the chorus. The song reminds me of the old WHITE HEART. After a nice progressive AOR song ("Circus"), we can hear a good AOR ballad titled "Calling out".
After this song, we are surprised with 4 West Coast orientated songs ("Maybe", "Believe", "Time will heal you" and "Paradise"). These songs are nice, but I prefer the AOR based songs, and happily the last 4 songs are quite good and AOR. "Don't wanna wait" and "Part of a dream" are good melodic rocksongs somewhat like BLUE RAIN or FREEFALL. My favourite track of the album is "Let love lead the way". This song is uptempo early 80s AOR rock with influences of bands like BOSTON, FRANKE & THE KNOCKOUTS and DAVID ROBERTS. Combined with a lovely guitarsolo, this song is a winner for the fans of pure 80s AOR.
Closing track "Lessons" is a nice calmer semi AOR ballad like WHITE HEART. Also this song captures a great melodic guitarsolo. Concluded we can say that ZPLAN is a nice supply to your collection. Contact the band at the following addresses: email: firstname.lastname@example.org or post address: Z-Plan, PO Box 2195, Branford, Ct. 06405, USA. Check their website at: http://184.108.40.206
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
DESTINATION-LOST ANGEL (INDEPENDENT)
This American band comes from Ohio. The music of the band carries influences of 80's rough melodic hard rock that was incredibly popular in L.A. back then with bands like RATT, FIREHOUSE or SLAUGHTER as the major bands. LOST ANGEL is sometimes a bit heavier, but very melodic at each song. On their self-produced CD are only 8 tracks, but they are all very fine to listen to. Opener "Rock" is a bit simple rock'n'roll like something KIX, BRITNY FOX or KISS produced in the 80s. The following tracks "Comes around goes around" and "Kiana" as well as "Gateway to heaven" are the best tracks of LOST ANGEL. These are examples of how melodic hard rock must sound. The songs are all uptempo, catchy and there are even some hooklines.
I would describe the songs as a mixture of FIREHOUSE, SLAUGHTER and MASS. The choruses are very melodic and very fine to listen to. The tracks "Bitch from hell" and "Hell to pay" are also uptempo melodic hard rock, but sound more like the old RATT sound. There is also a nice melodic rock ballad on the CD titled "A place called heaven (the lost angel)". The closing track is "Nights off", the heaviest track on the CD, but with very melodic choruses again. LOST ANGEL has released a good album that is listenable all the way, no fillers here! Recommended if you're into the classic melodic hard rock of L.A. bands like FIREHOUSE, SLAUGHTER or perhaps LOUD'N'CLEAR (a bit heavier). For more information check their Website at: www.lostangel.com E-mail them at: email@example.com or write them at: Lost Angel, 328 Fair St., Mansfield, Ohio 44902, USA.
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
SOMEWHERE IN SWITSERLAND-BODRAGAZ (INDEPENDENT)
There are many independent releases done in America at the moment of bands that play our musicstyle. This Denver-based band called BODRAGAZ is one of them. Their second CD titled 'Somewhere in Switzerland' was produced by Ian Gilchrist and lead vocalist/guitarist Michael Layer. The album contains 10 tracks. The bio says the band has created a new sound and maybe they are right, because their music is a mixture of 80s AOR melodies and 90s instrumental approach. The beginning is very much AOR based and pretty good actually. Opener "I will not forget you" is a nice 90s progressive AOR song with a very melodic chorus. The following two tracks are the best songs on the CD. "Peculiar people" is a great uptempo AOR rocker with a BOSTON influenced chorus and some lovely harmonyvocals. "She smiled" is a very good semi AOR ballad like the old NIGHT RANGER. The chorus with its harmonyvocals of this song is impressive.
The next track is "Long gone" and this song is more based on the 90s radio pop/rock ballads. It is a nice duet with a female vocalist that could do very well as a single here in Europe, I'm quite sure. "You're the one" is a nice semi melodic rocker that is not so heavy and has a quite melodic chorus like RTZ. The second part of the CD is not as good as the first part, because the sound is a bit more experimenting such as on "Eyes all around" (maybe CANNATA might have done such a song) and "What a wonder" (this is the only song that really didn't grab my attention, because it is a weird groovy pop/progressive song and very 90s based). "While in the garden" on the other hand is setting things right, the chorus has some lovely lead and harmonyvocals during the chorus that are similar to JOHNNY LIMA. A very melodic guitarsound can also be heard in this song. The closing two tracks are nothing special. I found this a rather interesting album, but my complaint is that the first part of this CD is far better than the second part. I recommend the first part very much to the AOR fans. Website: http://members.aol.com/bodragaz/ or e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org or write them at: Bodragaz, PO Box 404, Arvada, CO, 80001-0404, USA.
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
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