WILD FRONTIER ‘BITE THE BULLET’ (PRIME ENTERTAINMENT/POINT MUSIC)
Can’t believe it’s been more than 10 years ago since I first spook about this band, but it really was back in 1995/1996 when I reviewed their debut ‘One way to heaven’, a very good Melodic Rock affair in the style of 80s BON JOVI/WHITE LION… Remember it was the mid 1990s and Melodic Rock was dead, while the Power of the Internet was not there yet, even mp3.com just started, but WILD FRONTIER kept on making records, because every now and then a new CD pops up, so after going through all the music climate and internet changes in this world, WILD FRONTIER releases it’s 4th full-length CD in 2007. Included music is still classic 80s Melodic Rock, very much in the German tradition of bands like CRAAFT, ZENO, V2, BONFIRE, VICE… This time a stunning 15 tracks are included that musically all go in the Melodic Rockstyle, with a slight updated sound, not that far away from BON JOVI/WHITE LION… Ballads, uptempo and midtempo rockers, all present, with some strong choruses here and there. I do not think times have influenced WILD FRONTIER much, because they still sound like the melodic rockband they were 10 years ago and this also can be heard on the new CD, because they re-recorded one of their older tunes (“I can’t believe”). Check out the band at: http://www.wildfrontier.de
(Points: 8.2 out of 10)
RELAY ‘CIRCUIT BREAKER’ (CONTACT RECORDS)
3 years ago we reviewed the strong debut CD of the UK based female fronted Melodic Rockband RELAY, well now they have a follow-up finished and the 2nd CD of RELAY is a real strong album, comparable to a heavier NEXX. Anyone looking for strong 80s influenced female fronted Melodic Hardrock a la VIXEN and some LANA LANE should look no further as this new RELAY CD has got it all… 11 songs are included and it really sounds fresh and impressive, because songs like “Lost city”, “Love and desire” and “Danger zone” (one of the ultimate 80s song titles!) are damn catchy. Compared to their debut, the new CD sounds rawer and also has some Classic Rock influences, especially some SABBATH riffs can be heard here and there (“Liar”), but all together this is a real Melodic Hardrockalbum. Be sure to check out the new RELAY CD! More info at: http://www.relay-online.com
(Points: 8.4 out of 10)
LAURA KAYE ‘SHAKE OFF THE GRAVITY’ (ILANDREAMS RECORDS)
Incredible guest musicians list is the first thing to say about the CD of female rocker LAURA KAYE, because none-other than TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA members DAVID Z, MARK WOOD, AL PITRELLI, JANE MANGINI and ALEX SKOLNICK (all also known for involvement with many well-known rock and metal bands/artists) as well as drummer JOE FRANCO (TWISTED SISTER, GOOD RATS) and many more make their appearance here. Laura herself has a great voice, very powerful and so is her music, which is sounding classic and modern at the same time. This is not her debut, because she also sang on the SANCTUARY CD, a great Poprock/Melodic Rock recording from 2001, which was a collaboration with legendary Electric Violin player MARK WOOD, of whom we reviewed a CD recently. Anyway, the Melodic Hardrock of LAURA KAYE reminds me of CHRISSY STEELE, with the bluesy/soulful touch of ALANNAH MYLES and SASS JORDAN, yet much heavier at times and even reminding of MOTHER’S FINEST here and there. Her voice is incredible and easily beats the likes of any so-called Idols contender out there! Best songs are the more melodic rock based tunes “Under a cloudless sky”, “Shake off the gravity” and ‘Waiting for the light to change”. If you liked last year’s BONITA, you will surely love this awesome CD of the incredible female singer LAURA KAYE. More info at: http://www.laurakayemusic.com and e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Points: 8.3 out of 10)
ELIAS KAHILA ‘BREAK POINT’ (INDEPENDENT)
HUGE talent from Finland! ELIAS KAHILA is playing Cello and although a comparison to APOCALYPTICA is easy to make, Elias has surely an own style, because he mixes Classical themes with pure Melodic Rock sounds. Especially the uptempo rockers “Break point” and “Andromedean rhapsody” sound pretty good. Elias has a band backing him up, but he surely is the star on his cello. He kinda reminds me of MARK WOOD, who was and still is known for bringing the Violin (self-made) into the Metalworld. Elias was not the first, because APOCALYPTICA were the first, but nevertheless he goes more into a Melodic Rockstyle. Check him out at: http://www.kahila.net
(Points: 8.2 out of 10)
CRANK COUNTY DAREDEVILS ‘LIVIN THE RED’ (BAD REPUTATION RECORDS)
Dirty Mean groovy Rock and Roll is what to expect from CRANK COUNTY DAREDEVILS, a band from North Carolina, whom are combining the best of Punk, Sleaze and Street Rock and Roll, like mixing NEW YORK DOLLS, GUNS’N’ROSES and SEX PISTOLS with a modern approach in the vocal or should I say screaming department. Fans of VELVET REVOLVER, BACKYARD BABIES, HARDCORE SUPERSTAR, etc. will probably like this band a lot…
(Points: 7.7 out of 10)
JOLLY ROX ‘8 BALL’ (DEMO CDR)
Glamrock from Italy! The past 5 or 6 years we have had many Glamrockbands from Italy, so I am safe to say Italy is the Glam country in the world at the moment, because from nowhere else so many Glam comes our way. JOLLY ROX is a band from the beautiful city of Florence and their latest demo is filled with very good catchy melodic Glamrock (with some Melodic Rock influences as well). Opener “Twisted room” is rightaway the catchiest song on the demo, a very strong uptempo rocker with strong chorus and surprisingly good vocalwork (high pitched). Fans of CRUE/POISON with a slight Melodic Rock approach will like this band a lot. More info at: http://www.jollyrox.com and e-mail at: email@example.com
(Points: 7.8 out of 10)
23 CURRENT ‘CURVE OF THE UNIVERSE’ (INDEPENDENT)
23 CURRENT is a Pittsburgh/USA based band, which is playing open-minded Progressive Rock that is close to PINK FLOYD for sure, but still with an own approach. It also reminds me a bit of NEAL MORSE and SPOCK’S BEARD, yet less experimental and really focused on mostly the acoustic guitar with a voice, although I can still inform you that this is a progrockalbum as drums, bass and electric guitar can be heard in nearly every song, but it just is a very relaxing and laid-back album like NEAL MORE also has done and of course PINK FLOYD is best known for. No catchy choruses or uptempo rockers can be heard here, because this one is for those who long for calm progrock in the PINK FLOYD style. More info through email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Points: 7.7 out of 10)
INTENSE ‘AS OUR ARMY GROWS’ (NAPALM RECORDS)
The British band INTENSE is one of the very few new UK bands playing classic Melodic Metal and they do it very well. Their new CD ‘As our army grows’ was recorded with KARL GROOM and RICHARD WEST (THRESHOLD) and with 10 new tracks this is a very strong effort. Some songs are very catchy actually, such as the wonderful “Temptress”. The band’s lead singer has got that typical British 80s Hardrock/Metal voice, very much in the NWOBHM style of the early 80s, but musically besides the 80s Metal riffs, the music is up-to-date cool Melodic Metal with a touch of Power Metal! Definitely a very strong release and showing that the UK still has true metal bands to offer!
(Points: 8.3 out of 10)
DJIZOES ‘IN THE PAPERS’ (INDEPENDENT)
‘In the papers’ is the first full-length CD of the Swiss band DJIZOES, after releasing a couple of EP’s and demos earlier since their formation in 2002. The band is playing a sort of 90s type of Progressive Metal, so guitar based with low pitched dark vocalwork. It sort of mixes EVERGREY with ALICE IN CHAINS and throw in a few modern progressive rock elements here and there. Without a doubt a quality CD, also production is in very good shape. The 90s Grunge influence is very notable in the vocalwork, which is a slight let-down, but on the other hand the whole package is really Progmetal, so a sort of unique combination, although it has been done before. Fans of dark progmetal should check out DJIZOES at: http://www.djizoes.com and e-mail at: Jon@djizoes.com
(Points: 7.7 out of 10)
MONKEYSOOP ‘COUNTERCLOCKWISE’ (SONIC WAVE INTERNATIONAL)
Instrumental Progressive Rock with roots deeply in the 70s, very much guitar based and quite complicated at times, that’s how I would describe the new CD of the San Antonio/Texas based band MONKEYSOOP. The 3-piece band is surely influenced by RUSH, but yet have an own identity. 14 songs are included, but like most instrumental CDs, it’s a sort of trip or adventure from start to finish with all the tracks forming one big track together. Fans of instrumental progrock should check this out, although the production is a bit thin here and there. More info at: http://www.monkeysoop.com and e-mail at: email@example.com
(Points: 7.5 out of 10)
OVNI ‘THE TRUE PURPOSES OF GOD’ (INDEPENDENT)
El Salvador based OVNI releases a new CD and once again it is filled with very impressive Neo-Prog that only differs from bands like IQ, PENDRAGON, PALLAS, MARILLION in the vocal department, as half of the material is sung in Spanish here. However, that is no problem at all here, as it all sounds very impressive and is reminding me a lot of the Latin and Italian Neo-Prog from the past. A comparison to a band like LE ORME is very easy to make, as the music is quite similar. From the 10 included songs, 3 are very long and also belonging to the highlights here. Progfans will surely enjoy the 75 minutes of Neo-Prog on the new OVNI CD. More info at: http://www.ovni.com.sv and e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Points: 8.3 out of 10)
LANA LANE 'GEMINI' (THINK TANK MEDIA/PROGROCK RECORDS/SERGE ENTERTAINMENT)
It seems like every year we have both a new LANA LANE and ERIK NORLANDER album, while they even do side-projects like THE ROCKET SCIENTISTS. Anyway, this new LANA LANE album is another in the collection of her paying tribute to her influences. This time the album 'Gemini' is an album of classic rock covers from the 60s and 70s featuring the backing musicians Vinny Appice (drums), Tony Franklin (bass), George Lynch (guitar), Mark McCrite (guitar) and Erik Norlander (keyboards) along with Kelly Keeling providing additional duet and harmony vocals. Gemini is the astrological symbol for twins, and since this is Lana's second album of all covers, the album carries the theme of "two" throughout. Lana recorded two songs by each classic rock artist for this release, from the bands CREAM, PINK FLOYD, MOODY BLUES, HEART, JEFFERSON AIRPLANE and FOREIGNER, which resulted in a string of classic rocksongs covered on this album, such as "White Room", "White Rabbit", "Starrider", "Sunshine Of Your Love" and "Nights in White Satin". All performed very well and surely a must-hear for any LANA LANE fan, whom are spoiled with so many releases of one of the greatest female singers of the past 2 decades!
(Points: 8.4 out of 10)
GENIUS 'A ROCK OPERA EPISODE 3: THE FINAL SURPRISE' (FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)
Part 3 of the GENIUS project is featuring once again an interesting cast of singers, because none-other than DC COOPER, JORN LANDE, ERIC MARTIN and TOBY HITCHCOCK make their appearance. Singing duets and doing solo vocal performances, this CD surely has a lot to offer for the fans of these singers. Musically the final part of GENIUS continues the style of the 3 earlier albums, mixing Classic Rock with Bombastic themes and Progressive Rock influences with melodic rock choruses, although this time it sounds a bit more experimental. Projectleader DANIELE LIVERANI (Empty Tremor, Khymera) is repsonsible for the songwriting, Guitars, Bass and Keyboards, making this his little 'baby'. Although the start was a bit struggling, towards the end with TOBY HITCHCOCK of PRIDE OF LIONS shining on vocals we get to hear some great songs like “Inside these memories”, “I die” and “Dream in liberty”. Nevertheless, I do feel that this project could have been better songwise, because instrumental and vocally it all sounds excellent, but somehow not all of the songs are as strong as you want them to be.
(Points: 8.0 out of 10)
DANNY VAUGHN 'TRAVELLER' (FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)
TYKETTO's debut 'Don't come easy' from more than 15 years ago is and will always will be the classic album to her first when turning into DANNY VAUGHN's music career. Although he tried several times trying to release something equally as good it never worked, be that under the TYKETTO name, VAUGHN, FROM THE INSIDE or FLESH AND BLOOD, because beating his classic debut with TYKETTO is impossible. Also the new solo-album of Danny is just a nice record, with superb singing of course, because after all Danny is an amazing singer. However, the melodic rock included here is just nice to hear, but nowhere near the sensational early TYKETTO stuff. Not saying this is a release should ignore, because it surely is a grower and will become pretty good after listening a few times, as it really is a good high quality singer-songwriter melodic rockalbum, but do not expect it to be the album to beat that TYKETTO classic from 1991.
(Points: 8.2 out of 10)
LEICHENWETTER ‘KLAGE’ (METAL AXE RECORDS/ROCK INC)
We have heard this style many times before, because bands like SCHANDMAUL, IN EXTREMO, SUBWAY TO SALLY, DIE APOKALYPTISCHEN REITER, TANZWUT, etc. all did this kind of HIM meets RAMMSTEIN kinda Goth Dark modern but melodic midtempo sounding Metal with German lyrics and some Folk influences. Nevertheless, LEICHENWETTER sound pretty good and solid, with a very impressive production of their CD ‘Klage’ and without a doubt songs like “Schwanenlied” and “Sehnsucht” are very strong songs that even could turn out to become huge hits! If you like any of the mentioned bands you will surely love this CD! More info at: http://www.leichenwetter.de
(Points: 8.4 out of 10)
TROLL ‘ARMY OF LOST SOULS’ (METRO CITY RECORDS)
A few years ago I reviewed a CD of the American band TROLL, which was filled with high quality 80s influenced US Melodic Power Metal. Now they are back with a new CD, which has a better production, better packaging and artwork, while musically the band has changed a little into a more modern type of Melodic Progressive Metal with various arrangements here and there, such as acoustic guitars and harmonyvocals during the choruses in the style of DREAM THEATER/FATES WARNING (“Army of lost souls”). For an independent CD, this is good stuff and to those who like for example the US way of prog metal, like SUSPYRE, STRIDE, PYRAMAZE, KATAGORY 5, etc will really the new TROLL CD. More info at: http://www.trollrock.com and e-mail at: email@example.com
(Points: 8.2 out of 10)
VERTICAL ALIGNMENT ‘SIGNPOSTS’ (THUNDER SONGS)
VERTICAL ALIGNMENT from South Carolina/USA is playing the American type of 70s Progressive Rock, which is very melodic with acoustic guitars, many keyboards, melodic guitarwork and a lot of harmonyvocals, sort of like STARCASTLE, STYX and KANSAS. They do it very well and at one point you would actually think they recorded this back in 1978 and just re-issued it onto CD! The artwork of the CD is very nice and so is the production and sound quality of the CD. All together this makes it the perfect release for anyone missing this kind of American prog/pomprock. It is also not far away from ENCHANT and more recently, the CRYPTIC VISION stuff, so we have something special here and basically it is a pleasure to listen to this album from start to finish, because the musicianship is of a very high level. With many singers (most of them very impressive, especially the brothers FITZPATRICK in the almost PRIDE OF LIONS meets KANSAS sounding AOR/Pomprocker “Freedom’s call”) and lots of arrangements as well as melodies, this CD is a must-have for fans of KANSAS, CRYPTIC VISION and STARCASTLE. More info at: http://verticalalignment.com and http://thundersongs.com and e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Points: 8.4 out of 10)
HUGHES/THRALL 'HUGHES/THRALL' (ROCK CANDY RECORDS)
Guitarist PAT THRALL and vocalist GLENN HUGHES joined hands in 1982 and released a stunning melodic rockalbum, which 25 years later is regarded a classic, but sadly was the only record these 2 legendary musicians did together as the HUGHES/THRALL project, despite so much praise in the press all these years. Both had gained a lot of success with their former bands DEEP PURPLE and PAT TRAVERS BAND, while the production was in the hands of Andy Johns, a Brit whose credits also include FREE, LED ZEPPELIN and VAN HALEB. This one-off record of HUGHES/THRALL was a pure hard Rock Classic with biting guitarwork and excellent vocalwork, maybe some of the best Glenn ever did. Songs like "I Got Your Number’,'The Look In Your Eye’, ‘Beg, Borrow Or Steal’, ‘Where Did The Time Go’, ‘Muscle And Blood’, ‘Hold Out Your Life’, ‘Who Will You Run To’, ‘Coast To Coast’, ‘First Step Of Love’ are timeless classic melodic rocksongs, while this new remastered edition from ROCK CANDY RECORDS is extended with 2 Bonus tracks ("Still The Night", also recorded by PHENOMENA and "Love Don’t Come Easy".). Besides, like all ROCK CANDY releases, this one also comes with excellent artwork, extensive liner notes and exclusive pictures from the glorious but rather short days when HUGHES/THRALL were active.
(Points: 8.7 out of 10)
Finally! After 24 years the ultimate one-off AOR CLASSIC from PREVIEW has been re-issued onto CD. ROCK CANDY RECORDS has done a great job, despite the fact it was announced almost a year ago. It was all worth the wait as the remastering has been done perfectly and the artwork, liner notes and exclusive pictures in the CD booklet are a pleasure to look at. The music itself for it's time was AOR in it's perfection, so why didn't this release in 1983 turn out into a megamillionseller in the USA you might ask yourself. Lack of promotion is one thing, but also the fact the band was falling apart not long after the release. Rumors and actually this was told once by KEITH OLSEN (their producer) to me in an interview I had with him a few years ago, it was said that the PREVIEW members did not actually play on the album themselves, because they could not play a single note and therefore KEITH OLSEN brought in some of the well-known studio musicians (you know from the RICK SPRINGFIELD early 80s albums). The only one who really was outstanding was singer JOHN FIORE, a superb singer, who became one of the most popular radio-commercial singers in the USA after PREVIEW and released a few records under the FIORE moniker during the 90s, with a little help of HARRY HESS of HAREM SCAREM. The other members also went their own way and some recorded over the years. However, the PREVIEW album from 1983 with it's 30 minutes of music is featuring AOR to perfection, with hooklines and catchy choruses like no other band ever wrote again. Sadly it was a short affair and was not a success at all, but the AOR fanatics in Europe discovered the album and after being untouched for more than 20 years, ROCK CANDY RECORDS remastered the original album and now in 2007 the re-issue on CD is available. I can name them all, but actually you should hear all 10 songs to understand this is a classic. It doesn't happen too often I give an album 10 points, but this album receives it for the music, but all the stories around the recording process should be left out when making a rate like that, because it's the music that counts. Uptempo AOR/Radiorock in best early 80s spirit can be heard during songs like "All night", "Never hold back", "Open Up Your Heart", "Can' you see" and "So Blind", while smooth AOR Ballads like "It's over" and "Running back" give the record an emotional touch. JOURNEY, SURVIVOR, TOTO, FOREIGNER, first SILVER CONDOR, influences can all be heard, but still PREVIEW had an own sound due to the incredible vocalwork and superb catchy hooks and melodic choruses one will never get out of the head after hearing it the first time. Although the band continued with different members, Danny Gold (guitar) and Ernie Gold (keyboards) and even recorded demos as LONE WOLF, the band was destined to fail without the mighty JON FIORE on vocals. Without a doubt, this is a monster AOR classic, short but a masterpiece and one of the few albums to keep you busy in every track. An album right up there with JOURNEY, SURVIVOR and FOREIGNER at their best. Very polished, very 1983ish US Radioreadyrock, but basically an album everyone should own that has a heart for 80s AOR, as this is one of the few ultimate 80s AOR records...
(Points: 10 out of 10)
BALANCE 'IN FOR THE COUNT' (ROCK CANDY RECORDS)
Not the first time this album has been re-issued, because about 10 years ago the US label RENAISSANCE RECORDS re-issued both BALANCE albums onto 1 CD. However, now with a new remastering, full liner notes, pictures, etc. this new re-issue of the 2nd BALANCE album 'In for the count' is very interesting. The sound is huge (which was already quite good due to the original production by TONY BONGIOVI) and songs like "In For The Count", "Is It Over", "Bedroom Eyes' and "We Can Have It All" (lovely late-night early 80s westcoast-AOR a la FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS) are definitely timeless classic AOR songs in the style of all those early 80s US acts, such as ALLIANCE, TOTO, SHERIFF, LE ROUX, TYCOON, SPY, FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS) with fantastic melodic vocalwork of Peppy Castro and biting guitarwork of BOB KULICK (KISS, SKULL, MEATLOAF, etc). This is the way AOR sounded and should sound like. The new release comes with 2 Bonus Tracks: "Ride The Wave", "She’s Alone Tonight". Better be sure to get this release asap if you want to find out about early 80s AOR! Damn shame this was the end of this band some 25 years ago, because BALANCE could have been much bigger!
(Points: 8.8 out of 10)
THUNDERSTONE 'EVOLUTION 4.0' (NUCLEAR BLAST RECORDS)
THUNDERSTONE is back with a new CD entitled 'Evolution 4.0', which continues the strong Melodic Metal style of their previous records. The new album is not really bringing anything new, but that is no problem at all, because the included music is of a very high level. It is somewhere between NOCTURNAL RITES and MASTERPLAN and one song stands out above any of the other 10 tracks. It is the superb fast melodic power metal song "10.000 Ways", with it's catchy sing-a-long chorus. Basically THUNDERSTONE proves on this new album they are heading into the league of NOCTURNAL RITES and MASTERPLAN, but still need to focus a bit more on the choruses, but except that mentioned song, which might be the best THUNDERSTONE song ever!
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
THRESHOLD 'DEAD RECKONING' (NUCLEAR BLAST RECORDS)
'Dead Reckoning' is the new CD of THRESHOLD and it might not beat the album 'Hypothetical', which is still their best recording ever, but nevertheless it is better than their previous effort 'Critical mass'. The band sounds a little heavier, even introducing some death growls at the start. Happily, the familiar style of THRESHOLD is very much alive on this new disc and it does sound very good again, thanks to the wonderful sound/production of guitarist KARL GROOM and the superb vocalwork of MAC. The choruses are very melodic and this new THRESHOLD album is definitely another Progressive Metal Masterpiece. Opener "Slipstream" for example is a fine example of the sound of THRESHOLD, which combines a heavier sound, but also a lovely melodic chorus. The band flirts with AOR/Melodic Rock here and there, especially in a ballad like "Pilot in the Sky of Dreams", but mainly this is a Melodic Prog Metal album that will be loved by anyone who is familiar with the band.
(Points: 8.6 out of 10)
LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM 'SATURN SKYLINE' (ESCAPE MUSIC)
Already the third CD of the Swedish Melodic Rockband LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM. The supergroup formed around Mikael Erlandsson on Lead Vocals, Andy Malecek (Fair Warning) on Guitars, Marcel Jacob (Talisman) on bass, and Jamie Borger (Talisman) on drums managed to release a much rockier effort than their poppier previous album 'Winter In Paradise'. This new record is a full blown Melodic Hardrockalbum that goes in the tradition of all the Scandi 80s acts, such as TREAT, SWEDISH EROTICA, TALISMAN, 220 VOLT... Especially the uptempo melodic rockers "For The Young & The Wild", "After Tomorrows Gone", "Critical", "American Girl" and "Domino" are very strong tunes that will be loved by all the m