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HOT NEW REVIEWS
 UPDATED ON  NOVEMBER 5 - 2012

GONOREAS ‘APOCALYPSE’ (FIREFIELD RECORDS/TWILIGHT VERTRIEB/SWITZERLAND IMPORT)

Out of Switzerland comes the band GONOREAS and what strikes us immediately is the fact that this band features an excellent lead singer, which is very important for the big massive sounding Melodic Metal they are playing. Comparisons to MYSTIC PROPHECY, FIREWIND, NOCTURNAL RITES, SEVENTH AVENUE and such are very clear and thankfully GONOREAS is reaching the same level as those established bands. The band’s vocalist is called Gilberto "Gilbi" Meléndez and he gives that much-needed additional touch to sound sensational. He reminds me a bit of MICHAEL BORMANN and after visiting the album several times, it is clear that the new album of GONOREAS belongs to the TOP Melodic Metal releases at the moment. Songs like “Devil's Eyes”, “Kiss The Sword”, “Facing The Enemy”, the superb “Chasing The Dragon” and “Stay Away” are quite memorable Melodic Metal Masterpieces that easily reach the level of mentioned bands. ‘Apocalypse’ is the 3rd CD of the band since their formation back in 1994 and perhaps it is their strongest effort so far, as it is a real must-have for each and every Melodic Metalfan out there! More info at: http://www.gonoreas.ch and http://www.myspace.com/officialgonoreas 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

2ND LIFE ‘EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE’ (NEON REPUBLIC/STORM REKORDZ/SOUTH AFRICA IMPORT)

In the USA thousands of bands are active in the current Modern Melodic Rockscene, but if we head over to South Africa, we need to use a magnifying glass in order to discover some bands that actually play Rockmusic. Happily, there are still plenty bands active in the Rockgenre and one of them is a band called 2ND LIFE. This band is formed around a lead singer called BOON, who is the former vocalist of a band called MOVIE 55. Although unfamiliar to me and probably most people out there, MOVIE 55 achieved fame and fortune in South Africa, but the young teenager BOON wanted more and is now entering the International World of Rockmusic with the debut album release of his new band 2ND LIFE. Musically speaking they are clearly drifting into the direction of the current American Rock Standard, which is all about polished melodic vocals, catchy choruses and downtuned guitars, with comparisons to 30 SECONDS TO MARS, LIT, 3 DOORS DOWN, FOO FIGHTERS, KINGS OF LEON, ALTER BRIDGE, STONE SOUR, CREED, DAUGHTRY, etc. etc. 12 tracks are included and a few of them are quite familiar, as these are well-done covers of FLEETWOOD MAC (“Go your own way”), PHD (“I won’t let you down”) and the very original sounding STING cover “Fragile”. Lead singer BOON has a good strong voice and most of the original songs of the band sound quite catchy and actually reminding me a lot of the Finnish bands SUNRISE AVENUE and THE RASMUS, so it is a little lighter sounding than the American bands mentioned earlier on in the review. Highlights are “Breathing” (DAUGHTRYish modern melodic rock), “2011” (short catchy uptempo poprock a la RICK SPRINGFIELD, WALTHAM, SUNRISE AVENUE and such) and the already mentioned STING cover “Fragile”. ‘Everything is possible’ could well be the start of something bright for the future to come for 2ND LIFE, because they clearly show they can play catchy modern sounding Melodic Rock, but I do feel they can deliver something even better on a follow-up record and perhaps toughen up their sound with a little more edge on the guitar department. Nevertheless, recommended to fans of especially SUNRISE AVENUE and 3 DOORS DOWN. More at: http://www.2ndlifeband.com 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

JANIVA MAGNESS ‘STRONGER FOR IT’ (ALLIGATOR RECORDS/USA IMPORT)

True Bluesrock can only be possible if you experienced a tough life, so if you lose both your parents to suicide at the age of 16 and you then live on the streets of Detroit City, become a mother, but need to give up your baby daughter for adoption and also switch from one foster home to another, well then you’re doomed to have a lot of soul and passion to sound and live like the Blues! In the case of JANIVA MAGNESS, this has happened and perhaps this made her such an amazing souful Blues singer she is nowadays. She has been releasing albums for quite a long time and actually ‘Stronger for it’ is the first album I am able to hear and review. I am very glad to finally discover this huge talent and somehow it seems that this new CD of her is the first album to feature her own original material, because most of her past recordings were actually covers only. The album still also features covers of artists like TOM WAITS, SHELBY LYNNE, MATTHEW SWEET, GRACE POTTER and such, but half of the album is also featuring some great own material. Produced by Dave Darling (BRIAN SETZER, MEREDITH BROOKS, DAN HICKS, JOHN WAITE…), ‘Stronger For It’ is indeed a very strong impressive Heavy Bluesrockalbum that fits somewhere between SASS JORDAN, BETH HART and JOE BONAMASSA. The album has been released on ALLIGATOR RECORDS and with songs like “There It Is”, “I Won’t Cry”, “I’m Alive” and “Thought I Knew You” she is singing like the greatest Blues Diva ever existed on this planet we call Earth. The musicians on the album are ZACH ZUNIS – Guitar, GARY DAVENPORT – Bass, JIM ALFREDSON -- Hammond B3 & Keys and MATT TECU – Drums, whom all contribute in making this new album of Janiva sound like the finest Bluesrockalbum of the past few years. However, it is of course than to Janiva herself that this is an absolute winner and you won’t regret checking out this superb singer from Detroit at: http://www.janivamagness.com and http://www.myspace.com/janivamagness  and http://www.reverbnation.com/janivamagness 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

SCARS OF BOURBON ‘DEMO CDR’ (DEMO CDR/USA IMPORT)

80s Melodic Hardrock meets Hair Metal is the name of the game here. SCARS OF BOURBON is the name and it’s a pity only 3 songs can be found on their demo CDR, because it all sounds quite nice. The band is from the US state of Pennsylvania and if all goes well they will release a real full-length album in the near future. Opener “Dreamer” is a real 80s guitar riff orientated Melodic Hardrock piece that has DOKKEN meets RATT written all over the place. Next track “Take it down” is more modern sounding, with even some references to CREED and ALTER BRIDGE. And the final track is the semi midtempo melodic heavy rocker “Concrete heart”, which is definitely the finest song on offer here. They somehow remind me of the huge mid-late 1990s US independent scene of MHR bands I was exposed to for a long period after Grunge had killed all Melodic Hardrockbands becoming signed to major labels around the early 1990s. SCARS OF BOURBON is however ready for today’s music scene and the 3 songs on this demo CDR proof they have something interesting to offer. Look forward to a future CD release, but in the meantime check out this band at: www.reverbnation.com/scarsofbourbon 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

HARLAN FLO ‘STRATEGY’ (FUZZ JUNKER RECORDS/TSM PROMOTIONS)

HARLAN FLO from Chicago is a band formed around guitarists/vocalists PATRICK DUGAN and AMANDA RIVA. Musically speaking we can hear a combination of Bluesrock and Classic Rock on their debut album. The vocals are shared by Patrick and Amanda, so we have a male/female vocal driven band here and that gives them a nice diverse approach. The female vocals seem to sound a bit stronger here and actually the music HARLAN FLO is making is timeless, because ever since the 1970s there have been bands out there in the USA playing this music. It is close to Classic Rock, but with a more bluesy touch and also some melodic rock ish moments too. “Black bridges and bones” is one of the better tracks here, with it’s BLUE OYSTER CULT ish similarities. The production could have been better and the guitarwork miss an edgy approach sometimes, but overall a nice album. More info can be found at: www.cdbaby.com/cd/harlanflo2  and check out the video of the great semi-rocker “Strategy” at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdR5MbH7BrA 

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

DALLAS ‘OVER THE EDGE’ (D DAY RECORDS/USA IMPORT)

When it’s done well, it sounds refreshing and exciting and you’re proud to be a fan of the 80s Hair Metal/Melodic Rock genre, but when it’s done badly it will only have a negative influence on our beloved genre. I have to admit I have received so many average efforts and attempts at being the 80s American Rocksound back to life, but when I put on the first EP of the band DALLAS from San Francisco I was impressed right from the start, because this is the way it should be done. ‘Over the edge’ sounds as massive as the big 1980s productions, yet it sounds very refreshing and each and every song gives you the feeling that life isn’t that bad. This is music which makes you look cool and nobody can ignore a smile on their face when hearing the tunes of DALLAS. The past 2 decades only in Europe and in particular Sweden new acceptable bands in this genre were active, with as most sensational ones H.E.A.T., FAIR WARNING, WORK OF ART, BROTHER FIRETRIBE and a couple more. However, the USA went through hard times during the 1990s and 2000s and despite some bands were still making the classic 80s Rocksound where melody and production were very important, DALLAS is one of the first bands that truly can be put next to the high quality bands in the genre. They do remind me of some of the MTM productions from the 1990s (which were actually 1980s re-issues), such as BIG BAD WOLF, LOUD AND CLEAR and RESTLESS, so basically what you have here is big-time Melodic Rock with the coolness from the 80s Glam/Melodic Hardrocksound and the catchiness of the AOR/Melodic Rock. FIREHOUSE meets DEF LEPPARD choruses with BON JOVI’s ‘Slippery when wet’ in mind is what this EP is all about! DALLAS is actually 1 man only, namely BRYAN DALLAS from Castro Valley, CA is a 26 years old multi-instrumentalist/vocalist who did almost everything on his own here. The production took a lot of time and you can definitely hear that, because the EP sounds really huge. The only pity is that only 5 songs are included, because you want to hear more and more after you heard them. Forget about all the 80s wanna-be acts out there, because this is the real thing. Uptempo Melodic Rockers like “This love”, “Open your heart” and “Bring the light” are as catchy as you want them to be, so easily invite to sing-a-long and is basically 80s Melodic Rock at it’s best. Combine BON JOVI’s “Living on a prayer” with DEF LEPPARD’s “Animal”, add some of ALICE COOPER’s “Poison” and finish it off with FIREHOUSE’s “All she wrote”, then you exactly understand what they sound like. Of course the Power AOR Ballad is not forgotten in the shape of “I close my eyes”, which is very similar to DEF LEPPARD’s “Love bites” or any CRYSTAL ROXX ballad. In the end, it feels like Summer has arrived finally and then I am not talking about the Weather in Europe, but about the arrival of this band called DALLAS and their wonderful EP ‘Over the edge’. Check them out at asap if you like any of the mentioned bands, because they might become the next big thing in Arena Rock! More at: http://thisisdallas.us/ 

(Points: 9.1 out of 10)

COLLETTE SAVARD ‘BEST DRESS’ (INDEPENDENT/CANADA IMPORT)

‘Best dress’ is the 3rd CD of the Toronto, Canada based singer/songwriter COLLETTE SAVARD, who is without a doubt a very gifted musician. She has a great pleasant voice to listen to and the Singer/Songwriter orientated music on her latest album sounds very relaxing and laid-back. It’s of course always hard to tell what will happen in the future for such a talented musician like Collette, but she could well breakthrough if she’s lucky. The music is as mentioned quite laid-back and feels like the old records from the 1950s and 1960s when the voice was the most important part of a recording. Due to the use of a dulcimer, ukulele, mandolin, lap-steel, banjo, violin, cello and such instruments, the overall sound is very diverse, but still it has a typical modern-day approach and should do well among anyone into female fronted pop/rock. The melodies and vocal lines are very memorable and appealing, just listen to the beautiful melodic “I still do” and “Are you coming along” that could well become summerhits due to it’s catchy melodies. Sometimes a laid-back version of THE CORRS, THE LOVELL SISTERS, THE WEBB SISTERS and most of all MIRANDA LAMBERT is shining through here. So, take a bit of modern day female country Poprock, mix it up with Melodic Pop and a little Folksy Pop/Rock, add the beautiful clean melodic vocals of Collette, then you might have the magnificent sound on this new record by COLLETTE SAVARD. You don’t want to miss this beautiful record! More at: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/collettesavard  and www.collettesavard.com 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

WADE BOWEN ‘THE GIVEN’ (SONY MUSIC/USA IMPORT)

WADE BOWEN is one of the latest American heroes in New-Country Crossover Pop-Rock. He released his debut album 10 years ago and has steadily built up a reputation in the scene, with his latest albums all entering in several Billboard Charts. He is now signed to the mighty BNA Records, which is part of SONY MUSIC and the latest album on that label is titled ‘The given’. Although described as New-Country, the music is clearly more polished Pop/Rock driven and even touches AOR at more than one occasion. The vocals are a little more Southern Rock orientated (a la 38 SPECIAL, VAN ZANT) and in the end, WADE BOWEN proves to be an excellent singer/songwriter, who might definitely also find fans among people who like VAN STEPHENSON and BRYAN ADAM, because several tunes are dangerously close to those AOR Singer-Songwriters. He is from Waco, Texas and as already mentioned is one of the new big upcoming stars in the USA. The material varies between midtempo rockers a la VAN STEPHENSON/BRYAN ADAMS, some uptempo dirtier rockers in the 38 SPECIAL direction and a bunch of (semi) ballads in the Classic Country-AOR style of LONESTAR, RESTLESS HEAR, BLACK HAWK and ALABAMA. “Saturday night” is the good clean catchy fun Summertime rocker, while “Patch of Bad Weather” is as close to BRYAN ADAMS as one can possibly get, but VAN STEPHENSON also used to come up with these kind of midtempo rockers. Ballads can be found plenty on this disc and if they are done well, which is the case here, then it isn’t a problem at all. Wade has a great voice, which is less Country orientated than one would expect if it is promoted as such, so all I can say in the end is that this album is definitely worth checking out if you’re into any of the mentioned acts. More at: http://wadebowen.com 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

STOLEN EARTH ‘A FAR CRY FROM HOME’ (INDEPENDENT/UK IMPORT)

And here we have yet another female fronted Melodic Progressive Rockband out of the UK. It seems there is quite a big scene developed in the UK through the years for this kind of prog, because bands like MOSTLY AUTUMN, KARNATAKA, IONA, PANIC ROOM, TOUCHSTONE, MAGENTA, BREATHING SPACE, LANDMARQ and a few more all made some adoreable material that should be labeled Female Fronted Melodic Progrock and now we can add STOLEN EARTH to this list. Without any doubts, they easily reach the level of aforementioned bands. The band recently released their debut ‘A far cry from home’, of which £2 from every sale of the record will be donated to MacMillan Cancer Support UK. Actually STOLEN EARTH is the follow-up band toBREATHING SPACE, a band which recently disbanded. Musically it is more or less in the same style, as already indicated earlier on in this review. The band features Heidi Widdop (ex-MOSTLY AUTUMN) on lead vocals and despite they have a JOHN SYKES in their line-up, it concerns here a keyboardplayer with the same name! Anyway, everything sounds quite perfect, with the mixture of beautiful clean melodic female vocals and soaring guitar solo’s, combining melodic rock and progressive rock to perfection. A few songs feature male vocals and actually it’s those 2 songs that go for a pure PINK FLOYD approach, namely “Mirror mirror” and “Silver skies”. But most of all, fans of MOSTLY AUTUMN will absolutely love this record and let’s hope this band will have a longer future than BREATHING SPACE. More info at: http://www.stolenearth.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

OBERHOFER ‘TIME CAPSULES 2’ (GLASSNOTE ENTERTAINMENT/V2 RECORDS)

Originally from Tacoma, Washington, BRAD OBERHOFER moved to New York City a few years ago and founded his own project OBERHOFER. Within a few years he was able to make a name in the local music business of NYC and after releasing a few singles he was approached by several labels and now his first full-length record ‘Time capsules 2’ is released. Without a doubt, this is a very interesting and quite a diverse record that was produced by STEVE LILLYWHITE (SIMPLE MINDS, U2, XTC, BIG COUNTRY, etc.). Lots of 1980s influences pass by, although as mentioned, the overall sound is much more than that, because it mixes so many different sounds from the Pop and Rock history, there’s something for each and everyone to like here. It’s always hard to tell if a band is the next big thing, but this album clearly shows that OBERHOFER could become one of the big bands in a few years. They already played at the DAVID LETTERMAN SHOW, so the first signs of a breakthrough are there and if everybody just checks out this album they will completely agree about the fact that OBERHOFER is quite an original band. Of course there are the obvious similarities to popular bands that are currently active, and the band clearly has a very British Poprock approach written all over the place, but who cares if it all sounds damn catchy and cheerful. Higlights are especially the uptempo pieces, such as “Heart”, “Landline”, “Away frm U”, “oOoO” and “Cruisin’ FDR” that sometimes even reveal a sort of happy BEACH BOYS kinda Summer Beach feeling. Actually this OBERHOFER sounds like THE RAMONES being covered by a typical British Indie Rockband. Anyway, besides Brad, the other members of the band include Matthew Scheiner on Guitar, Pete Sustarsic on Drums and Ben Roth on Bass and who knows OBERHOFER will become the next big thing, but I guess time will tell… Check out all info at: http://oberhofer.bandcamp.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

REINXEED ‘WELCOME TO THE THEATER’ (LILJEGREN RECORDS/DOOLITTLE GROUP/SWEDEN IMPORT)

Leader of the Swedish band REINXEED is without any doubts vocalist/guitarist/keyboardplayer TOMMY “aka REINXEED” JOHANSSON and ‘Welcome to the theater’ is this band’s 5th album so far. Earlier in 2012 he was asked to become the new guitarist of SABATON, but he declined and continued working on this new record of REINXEED as well as producing records by several other bands (PELLEK and CHARLIE SHRED). Assisted by Calle Sundberg – Guitars, Nic Svensson - Bass (ex-Slaves for Scores) and Alfred Fridhagen – Drums, Tommy recorded ‘Welcome to the theater’, which after several spins sounds like a very strong typical European Melodic Power Metal album. It’s fast, but very melodic, featuring some very strong choruses and thanks to some nice backing vocals (provided by Calle Sundberg of the band CHARLIE SHRED) very catchy all throughout the album, especially during the highlights “ Life Will Find a Way”, “Save Us” and “Somewhere in Time” that even features almost ABBA like choruses in a same way AT VANCE used to do. Besides AT VANCE, one can also mentioned MORIFADE or THEOCRACY as comparison, while during the slightly slower (compared to the other songs) “No Fate” it goes into a NATION/NARNIA Melodic Hardrock kinda direction. “Temple of the Crystal Skulls” is borrowing a bit from RHAPSODY, but despite all these comparisons, REINXEED has a sort of recognizable own style and everything is done at a very high level, so definitely quality stuff is what you get here. Fans of Euro, read Swedish, Melodic Power Metal should check out this album asap. More info at: http://www.myspace.com/reinxeednorth 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

CHARLIE SHRED ‘CHARLIE SHRED‘ (LILJEGREN RECORDS/DOOLITTLE GROUP/SWEDEN IMPORT)

CHARLIE SHRED as a bandname would suggest this is some sort of 1980s Hair Metal band, of whicha re-issue is done, but this is not the case, because they are a new Swedish band with their same titled debut release on LILJEGREN RECORDS. The band was helped by TOMMY REINXEED on Drums, backing vocals & additional guitars & keyboards. The music on the album is basically pure 80s Euro Melodic Heavy Rock in the style of PRETTY MAIDS, MAD MAX, STORMWITCH, GRAVESTONE… Vocally it has some similarities to JAMES HETFIELD of METALLICA, which might put some people off, but musically it is more interesting and better than that. Highlights are “Panic” (SCORPIONS style), “Death Comes To All” (Pure 80s Euro Melodic Heavy Rock a la PRETTY MAIDS/MAD MAX/STORMWITCH) and also the faster paced tunes that even reveal a slight 80s Teutonic German Melodic close-to Speed Metal style (remember STRANGER, NOISEHUNTER, SCRATCH RECORDS, etc.) in especially “Time To Die”. Overall the album also reminds me so much of MARSHALL LAW, MAY LINN and such bands of the 1980s, so basically fans of the real classic European Melodic Metal will instantly fall in love with this band. More info on them can be found at: http://www.charlieshred.com/ 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

PELLEK ‘BAG OF TRICKS’ (LILJEGREN RECORDS/DOOLITTLE GROUP/SWEDEN IMPORT)

Apparently Norwegian lead vocalist PELLEK is quite known in his home native of Norway, where he was a rather successful participant of the Norwegian TV show ‘The X Factor’ in 2009 and released several albums with different bands. Now he is back with a new album, released under the moniker PELLEK, so it concerns here a real solo-album, although he was helped by quite a few musicians and vocalists (including multi-instrumentalist TOMMY REINXEED, guitarist GISHA, Marit Børresen, Tommy Karevik (SEVENTH WONDER), Anders R.S, Oliver Hartmann (AT VANCE, HARTMANN) and Amanda Somerville (AVANTASIA, TRILLIUM. ‘Bag of tricks’ is released on LILJEGREN RECORDS/CD SWEDEN, which is a Swedish record label founded by Christian Liljegren (ex-NARNIA) in 1997 and in the past we have reviewed a lot of their releases, including REINXEED, DIVINEFIRE, MAJESTIC VANGUARD, etc. and now it is time for PELLEK. Musically speaking it is a mix of Symphonic Melodic Metal and Melodic Hardrock and I do think that thanks to the help of all those additional backing vocalists, this album sounds a lot stronger, because Pellek himself is not always convincing. Nevertheless, the Melodic Metal sounds really good, also thanks to some amazing guitarwork. In fact, the instrumental titletrack “Bag Of Tricks” is a masterpiece in classic YNGWIE MALMSTEEN style. Other highlights are “Reason And Psychosis” (excellent song, ROYAL HUNT meets LABYRINTH), “Win” (superb guitarsolo!) and “Thundernight” (strong WONDERLANDish melodies and a great guitarsolo, better vocals here somehow!). Although vocally it is not always sounding impressive, the overall sound and some of the tunes show that this is a record you can easily check out if you like Symphonic Melodic Hardrock/Metal. More info at: www.facebook.com/pellekofficial 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

DIAMONDOG ‘FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH’ (LILJEGREN RECORDS/DOOLITTLE GROUP/SWEDEN IMPORT)

The Norwegian band DIAMONDOG was formed in 1998 and they already released a couple of records, of which their 2009 release ‘Black Comes the Morning’ was mixed by Fabrizio Grossi (SLASH, STEVE VAI, STARBREAKER…) and Ty Tabor of KING’S X. Their 3rd album ‘Kill me’ was already released sometime ago and this new album ‘Faithful unto Death’ is actually a re-release of that album on LILJEGREN RECORDS, yet it also features 2 new songs. Songs like “Kill Me”, “Hurt” and “Let The Fight Begin” are good examples of the sound of this album, because DIAMONDOG is clearly moving into uptempo dirty mean Sleazy Hardrock, reminding a bit of TURBONEGRO, D.A.D., ROQUE MALE and such bands. Done very well and for fans of this genre interesting to check out for sure. More info at: www.diamondog.no 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

WENDY MCNEILL ‘FOR THE WOLF A GOOD MEAL’ (HALDERN POP RECORDINGS/DGR MUSIC)

Another original and rather experimental release on the HALDERN POP RECORDINGS label. This time it is the new album of Canadian singer/songwriter WENDY MCNEILL. ‘For the wolf a good meal’ marks her 5th CD so far and what makes it so special is already the artwork and lay-out of the package, because the booklet is beautifully designed and illustrated. And the album was recorded in Sweden, where Wendy got help from 3 Swedish musicians. However, it is the music that sets her really apart, because this is a sort of original mix between Folk, Jazz and Alternative Pop, yet all sounding very experimental and dark, with the use of instruments like an Accordion, a Marimba and all kinds of Organs and Mellotrons. I think you’ll get the picture here, because it is not easy to understand the music of WENDY MCNEILL. It takes some time to really get to know her music, but slowly you will get that feeling something interesting is going on here and then the material does make an impact on you. Impossible to compare to other artists and therefore you really need to check her out yourself at: www.wendymcneill.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

EMANUEL AND THE FEAR ‘THE JANUS MIRROR’ (HALDERN POP RECORDINGS/DGR MUSIC)

‘The Janus Mirror’ is the 4th CD of the Brooklyn, New York based band EMANUEL AND THE FEAR and it is almost impossible to describe the sound of the band, because it is sounding very original and diverse and probably only bands like ARCADE FIRE and MARS VOLTA would be possible contenders when it comes down to comparisons. The music is dark, epic, haunting and mostly quite calm, but nevertheless due to it’s slowness it can almost be called Doom Metal, yet without the guitars and vocally more reflecting an Indie Pop influence. However a song like “Wooble” can also be called a Progressive Rocksong like RADIOHEAD or MUSE has done several times, so basically you can go anywhere with this experimental Indie meets Prog meets Synth meets Rock band.”Foothills of a fire” is trying to combine 1970s Progrock rhythms with Classic Rockish LED ZEPPELIN riffs and adds even some weird Hardcore/Punk kinda singing (DEAD KENNEDYS style), while the album’s best track is the calmer FLEET FOXES ish semi-acoustic/violin driven “My Oh My” that features male and female vocals. I think the best thing would be to check this out for yourself and that is possible through: www.emanuelandthefear.com 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

BLACK VENDETTA ‘DRACONIAN BACKLASH’ (INDEPENDENT DEMO CDR/UK IMPORT)

Now this is a really interesting band or should I say project of UK based 21 (!) year old guitarist/songwriter NATHAN VIRICA. I am not sure if he fully understands it, but the 8 songs on this CDR he sent to me are basically pure 1980s female fronted AOR. The only thing that is missing is the big production, because it sounds quite low-budget and after all it it just a demo CDR we have here. However, we are here to talk about the included music and without a doubt, some of the songs sound very sensational, with a big thank you the fantastic strong AOR vocals of female singers LAYLA AMINI, LAUREN SLATER and especially SALLI ALEXANDER, who all remind of the classic 80s AOR singers of our much-beloved genre (WITNESS, HEART, PAT BENATAR…). The lovely songs “Hero”, “Death of an angel” and “Go ahead and make my day” are very close to Classic 1980s female fronted AOR and even remind me a bit of SIREN, PRIVATE LIFE and SARAYA. There’s a touch of Indie-Rock in there as well, but the vocals keep it very melodic and AORish somehow. If only some label would offer this band a deal to make a high quality and professionally produced full-length record, we would be looking at a very interesting album release. It should already appeal to fans of mentioned bands, so go check out all info at: www.reverbnation.com/blackvendettababy 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10, if production would be beter we would be going up big time!)

VORPAL NOMAD ‘HYPERBOREA’ (METALODIC RECORDS/NO ENTRY MEDIA/CANADA IMPORT)

Calling this the greatest Power Metal album of all times is a bit too ambitious, but for a band that started in 2010 and already releases a strong debut CD 2 years later is remarkable. BLIND GUARDIAN meets GRAVE DIGGER meets IRON SAVIOR would be the best description here and despite the vocals are not that strong, the overall sound, production and the included 9 (mostly uptempo Melodic Power Metal ish) songs make that up. PIET SIELCK of IRON SAVIOR mixed, mastered and produced the debut album of this Colombian band and all together it is a pretty decent record. Fans of mentioned bands will absolutely love this record and one can easily listen to it from start to finish, with as highlights “Skull Island”, “Vorpal nomad” and “Final cry for freedom”. Nice Power Metal debut, especially for a band from Colombia. More at: www.facebook.com/vorpalnomad 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

CATUVOLCUS ‘GERGOVIA’ (DEATHBOUND RECORDS/NO ENTRY MEDIA/CANADA IMPORT)

The Canadian band CATUVOLCUS sings in the GAULISH (GALLIC) language, which was a Celtic language that was spoken by the Gauls people in a region known as Gaul (Cisalpine and Transalpine) from the Iron Age through the Roman period. Nowadays we know this area as France, Northern Italy, Switzerland, eastern Belgium, Luxembourg and western Germany. Anyway, msucially speaking it is all a little less interesting, because we get to hear basically Extreme Black-Folk Metal here. Although it has it’s interesting more melodic and also calmer moments, most of the time it sounds quite extreme and if you like for example FINNTROLL, KORPIKLAANI or ENSIFERUM , then this might be up your alley as well. Then you should check out this band at: www.facebook.com/catuvolcusmetal 

(Points: 7.4 out of 10)

CHASM ‘THEY’ (INDEPENDENT/TSM)

Now here’s a very interesting band from Norway playing atmospheric melancholic Post-Progressive Rock, influenced by the likes of RADIOHEAD and PORCUPINE TREE. The vocals are quite strong, clean and very melodic and the proggy material does sound very professional. In fact, their debut album ‘They’ does have the major label sound, both in production and also in the performance, so basically this independent album of CHASM is a quality release. Do not confuse them with the legendary US Death Metal band, because this CHASM from Norway is much better than them. 10 songs are included and most of them follow a slow tempo kinda moody approach, but the haunting epic adventure of each and every song really grabs you and especially fans of RADIOHEAD, MUSE, PORCUPINE TREE, 90s/00s MARILLION and also the regular Progrockfans will find this an interesting band (listen to the awesome “Tenebra (Going home)” for example). A band with a bright future, that’s for sure…, so go check them out asap at: www.officialchasm.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

TAINTED SOULS ‘MARKED FOR LIFE’ (MAD DOG RECORDS/NORWAY IMPORT)

TAINTED SOULS are a Norwegian band with a Melodic Heavy Rocksound on their debut album ‘Marked for life’. Although it does sound well enough to listen to from start to finish and some of the songs are even quite catchy I have some issues to address here about the lead vocals. I am afraid the vocals are not the strongest selling point here and with so many bands out there playing a similar rockstyle, it will be tough for TAINTED SOULS to get recognition. They have a kinda 1990s vibe to their music, so a little Grunge here and there. The vocalist does remind a lot of the PEARL JAM singer actually and sometimes the music also goes in that direction, although as mentioned we have some Melodic Hardrock influences as well. I have to say that the best comparison would be FREAKS OF NATURE, the MIKE TRAMP fronted band from the 1990s. Hear for yourself at: www.taintedsouls.no 

(Points: 7.6 out of 10)

STALLION FOUR ‘ROUGH TIMES’ (PURE ROCK RECORDS/H’ART/GERMANY IMPORT)

STALLION FOUR is a new Swedish band playing pure typical traditional Hardrock in the style of classic KROKUS and AC/DC. In fact, they sound like the missing link between those 2 bands. They sound as cliché tingled as one can get, but it is done very well, so no complaints about that. KROKUS fans will definitely love this band. However, they are not anywhere near the level of mentioned bands, but STALLION FOUR is still a young band, so who knows the future brings us more interesting and diverse material. Hardrockfans will nevertheless already be interested to check them out at: www.stallionfour.se 

(Points: 7.3 out of 10)

EMERALD ‘UNLEASHED’ (PURE STEEL RECORDS/H’ART/GERMANY IMPORT)

The Swiss band EMERALD has been with us for over 17 years now and during this period they released quite a few albums, of which we reviewed also quite a lot since 1999. I must have missed their previous album ‘Re-forged’ from 2010, which is a pity, because that is when their new vocalist THOMAS WINKLER joined them and he sounds quite superb. He is making EMERALD sound like a a True 80s US Power Metalband! The new album ‘Unleashed’ is really a superb piece of Classic Melodic 80s US Power Metal in the style of VICIOUS RUMORS, FATES WARNING, 80s QUEENSRYCHE, FIFTH ANGEL, HELSTAR, SEVEN WITCHES and of course 80s IRON MAIDEN (especially during “Eye of the serpent” which features ex-OMEN/ASKA/BANSHEE vocalist GEORGE CALL). Highlights are songs like “Face of evil”, “Another universe”, “Harleking” and “Ancient mystery”. Without a doubt a must-have for any fan of the Classic 80s US Power Metal style! Check ‘em out at: www.emerald.ch 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

FIAKRA ‘INVASION’ (PURE UNDERGROUND RECORDS/H’ART/GERMANY IMPORT)

FIAKRA is a US band which was originally called HEXEN, but they are now releasing their debut with ‘Invasion’. If you like 1980s German Teutonic Metal you will definitely love this album, because closer to RESTLESS, ACCEPT and JUDAS PRIEST you can’t get with this release. Nothing new under the sun, but fans of mentioned bands will love this for sure. Done well, but after a while some more diversity wouldn’t hurt. Only for die-hard fans of the genre! More at: www.fiakra.com 

(Points: 7.0 out of 10)

TRANCEMISSION ‘NAKED FLAMES’ (PURE ROCK RECORDS/H’ART/GERMANY IMPORT)

There was a time when German Hardrock and Metal bands became an obsession of major labels, especially during the 1980s after THE SCORPIONS were massive worldwide and so a band called TRANCE were about to become the next big German band. Their first 2 albums in the early 1980s even sold 150,000 copies, but somehow somewhere something went wrong, because the following 30 years nothing happened and each album they released, later under the TRANCE MISSION moniker, didn’t reach any of the numbers in sales of their first couple of records. This was despite the high level of quality of the new records, but sadly since the mid 1980s the band went into obscurity and has now a large cult underground following instead of the major band status it could have achieved during all those years. I have to admit that I actually didn’t follow the band lately and also this new album ‘Naked flames’ will not set the world on fire, because it is a very average Melodic Heavy Rockalbum that sounds like it was record in the 1980s by some Teutonic Metalband. Remember VETO? Well, put this one right next to it and we’re finished. Only for the absolute die-hard fans out there I’m afraid! More at: www.trancemission-music.com 

(Points: 6.3 out of 10)

MEROE ‘SICK SOCIETY’ (RECORDJET/NEW MUSIC DISTRIBUTION/GERMANY IMPORT)

Although the album of the Munich, Germany based band MEROE could well have been released in 1984, 1989 or 1994, it nevertheless has it’s charm and it is actually done very well. The typical German Melodic Hardrock/Heavy Rock of MEROE sounds dangerously close to classic BONFIRE, VICTORY, SCORPIONS, VICE and such bands. The vocals sounds quite raw and with a strong accent, which makes it sometimes hard to listen to especially the balladry material, but the Melodic Hardrock of songs like “Here in my heart” and “Last days in paradise” are quite nice and for fans of BONFIRE, this is definitely a must-have, because the production and instrumentally speaking (sensational guitarwork!) everything is set at a high level. Despite there’s nothing new under the sun here, fans of VICE, BONFIRE, DOMINOE, MALLET and VAMP need to check out this MEROE asap at: www.facebook.com/meroe4U 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

RAMPART ‘WAR BEHEST’ (INFERNO RECORDS/FRANCE IMPORT)

‘War behest’ is the 3rd CD of the Bulgarian band RAMPART. This female fronted band is playing Melodic Heavy Metal with clear influences from the classic 1980s. Although it all sounds quite nicely, the female singer MARIA DOYCHINOVA sings with a massive accent, not heard since the classic days of WARLOCK! I am afraid it will be very hard for RAMPART to make a real big impact here, because the vocals just aren’t strong enough. Instrumental they deliver quality Metal, with some great hammer-on axe shredding guitarwork, so that makes it up a lot. Nevertheless, it is really best to first listen to the band at: www.rampartmusic.com/ 

(Points: 7.3 out of 10)

PYLON ‘THE HARROWING OF HELL’ (QUAM LIBET RECORDS/SWISS IMPORT)

A Vinyl only release here and thankfully a really good one, because it concerns here a clean melodic Doom Metal release of the band PYLON. This Swiss band is clearly influenced by classic OZZY fronted BLACK SABBATH. The band’s singer MATT BRAND does even remind a lot of OZZY and also FOZZY comes to mind here of course and CANDLEMASS would be another serious comparison. ‘The harrowing of hell’ is already their 5th CD and fans of mentioned bands will absolutely love this album. The songs are slow as mol-asses and filled with massive ultra-heavy Doom Metal sounding Guitar riffs. Any Doom fan will love this record for sure, so go check it out at: www.pylon-doom.net 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

BANG OK BANG ‘CHEMICALS’ (DEMO CDR/USA IMPORT)

Out of Nashville comes BANG OK BANG, a 2-piece band formed around the musicians Abby Hairston and Ben Lowry. They sent me a 4-tracks counting CDR that sounds like a decent recording, although it captures a real independent approach. The music is heavy Bluesy Rock with a strong Classic Rock approach, although raw Stoner Rock and Roll would also be a good description. Although some work needs to be done, there are hints here that this band could become bigger. Their music sounds close to THE BLACK KEYS, WOLFMOTHER, THE ANSWER, RIVAL SONGS, KYUSS and ALABAMA SHAKES, so who knows they will sign to a major label soon and when that happens they will be able to record a professional full-length album under the wings of perhaps a major producer. Nevertheless, they now sound very underground ish, which also has it’s charm and a song like “Always for you” will completely fulfill the needs of the people who want their rock to sound as authentic as possible, as if it was recorded back in the early 1970s! Keep your eyes open for this BANG OK BANG, because they might become the next big hype! More info for now at: www.bangokbang.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

AHOLA ‘STONEFACE’ (PLAYGROUND MUSIC/FINLAND IMPORT)

Main leader of the band AHOLA from Finland is the singer/songwriter/guitarist J. AHOLA, who is known for his adventures with the Metal Cover band NORTHERN KINGS, but is now moving into original material with his band AHOLA. The included music is high quality 80s influenced European Melodic Heavy Rock that sounds like a cross between PRETTY MAIDS, AXXIS, very early 1980s EUROPE and EDGUY/PINK CREAM ’69. The vocals are spot-on, so is the guitarwork and between the 15 included tracks we can hear some very catchy material, such as “Hurricane”, “Restless” and “The spell”. Although not very original, the performance is quite pleasant to listen to and a lot of songs are really sensational. Definitely recommended to listen to if you’re a dedicated fan of classic 80s euro melodic hard/heavy rock! More at: www.aholaband.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

THE GUARDIAN ‘TIME TRAVELLERS’ (INDEPENDENT/BELGIUM IMPORT)

THE GUARDIAN is a Belgian band formed in 1997 and so they have now been active for 15 years now and ‘Time travellers’ is their 7th CD so far. Musically they have always been playing pure 80s Heavy metal, which can also be heard on their new album, which might as well be their finest so far. Comparisons to GRAVE DIGGER, JUDAS PRIEST and PRIMAL FEAR are very clear and the band has done a great job to relive the traditional Metal times. Recommended to fans of mentioned bands! More at: www.theguardian.be 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

ANNA AARON ‘DOGS IN SPIRIT’ (TWO GENTLEMEN/ROUGH TRADE/DGR MUSIC)

Out of Switzerland comes the very talented singer/songwriter ANNA AARON, who delivers her first full-length CD with ‘Dogs in spirit’. The album is quite a diverse record, because it starts with the dark and very experimental almost BJORK sounding “Elija’s chant”, but this is followed by a more melodic and radiofriendly pop/rocksong titled “Sea monsters”. The rest of the CD (also available on LP) follows the same path, so we get a combination of melancholic dark tunes that sound rather experimental to more melodic sounding tunes, of which the AOR song “Queen of sound” is my personal favorite. Also the rocker “Siren” is worth mentioning and sometimes it reminds me a bit of FLEETWOOD MAC/STEVIE NICKS musically speaking, although vocally Anna sounds more like the regular female singers of today, such as GRACE POTTER, FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE, THE JEZABELS… She gets truly rocking during the uptempo “King of the dogs”, while the piano-led ballad “Joanna” displays her incredible talent on the piano and also displays her vocal skills. Without a doubt, we have something very interesting here and who knows ANNA AARON will become huge someday. People who like TORI AMOS will absolutely love this as well, but Anna also might attract fans of let’s say HEATHER NOVA, so be sure to check out her album ‘Dogs in spirit’. More at: http://annaaaron.com/ 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

HANS CHEW ‘TENNESSEE AND OTHER STORIES’ (DGR MUSIC)

New York based HANS CHEW is known for being Honky-Tonk pianoplayer in the bands JACK ROSE, D. CHARLES SPEER AND THE HELIX and OAKLY HALL and now releases his debut solo-album with ‘Tennessee and other stories’. The album has already been out for a while in the USA, but is now released over here as well. The included music is Americana/Roots orientated and actually goes back to a time when LITTLE RICHARD and especially JERRY LEE LEWIS were ruling the airwaves with playing Rock and Roll on a Honky-Tonk Piano. The album received rave reviews and chart placing at ROLLING STONE and UNCUT, so this is not just something to pass by. It is something you gotta learn to love, that’s for sure… Later this year the 2nd album will be released, but in the meantime, check it out for yourself at: www.hanschew.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

RACHEL SERMANNI ‘UNDER MOUNTAINS’ (DGR MUSIC)

Out of Scotland comes the 20-year old singer/songwriter RACHEL SERMANNI, who delivers something quite impressive with her debut album ‘Under mountains’, a record filled with calmer Singer/Songwriter music that combines elements of Folk, Jazz and even a touch of Indie. Quite hard to compare her music, because it is quite unique what is displayed here, but one thing is for sure and that is the fact that this is what makes music so beautiful. Her fragile voice is of course the leading ingredient on the album and comparisons to TORI AMOS, KATE BUSH, JONI MITCHELL and especially FIONA APPLE are quite obvious, but Rachel is just a little more leaning towards the laid-back site of life. Without a doubt, this is one of the most remarkable debut albums from the past few years of someone as young as Rachel is. Definitely something to check out asap and a song like “Ever since the chocolate” or “The fog” could well become the summerhit of 2012! Better than BIRDY? Yes! So go check out more at: www.rachelsermanni.net/ 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

BOZ BOORER ‘SOME OF THE PARTS’ (FABRIQUE RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE/GOOD 2 GO)

British singer/songwriter BOZ BOORER has seen it all, because he has been working with the legendary MORRISSEY for over 20 years now. However he also has a solo career going on and ‘Some of the parts’ is the latest release. Musically it is a trip through diverse music genres, such as can be heard clearly during the 1960s Fuzz Guitar influenced “Turned to stone” and the pure 1950s Classic Rock and Roll style of “Tokyo calling” and “Cast Iron arm”. On the other hand there’s also room for some calmer almost Jazzy moments through a few short interludes and how about the MORRISSEY kinda laid-back stuff (“Saunders Ferry Lane”) and even some Indie UK style can be heard during a song like “Slippery forces”. Nice diver record that is interesting for the open-minded music fans out there! More at: www.bozboorer.co.uk 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

RANDOM ALLIES ‘THUNDER RUN’ (ADJESSA MUSIC/CANADA IMPORT)

The band RANDOM ALLIES is coming out of Toronto, Canada and they present us their latest CD ‘Thunder run’. They are formed around 2 dedicated musicians, Walter Lasky and Ted Bonis and offer typical traditional Rock/Hardrock on ‘Thunder run’. The vocals are not the strongest point in the sound of RANDOM ALLIES, because they sound quite raw. On the other hand a band like HELIX has had massive success in Canada, so why not RANDOM ALLIES. They remind me actually of what HELIX was doing during their 1990s period, when they were balancing somewhere between Rock and Hardrock. The band also reminds me somewhat of BLUE OYSTER CULT and even THE GRATEFUL DEAD comes to mind, but I have to say that on a future CD there needs to be done some work on the vocal department and also some catchier songs are needed I’m afraid. It has been 6 years since this album has been released, so perhaps a new album will follow soon and then we can conclude if the band has made some progress. In the meantime, more info can be found at: www.cdbaby.com/cd/randomallies 

(Points: 7.1 out of 10)

VENEFICA ‘DROWNING SOUL SYNDROME’ (ATHREMA/CZECH REPUBLIC IMPORT/TSM)

Formed in 2007, the Czech band VENEFICA delivers their 2nd album with ‘Drowning soul syndrome’. The album is filled with high quality Melodic Heavy Rock with Progressive Metal influences. Although the band’s singer Radim Zatloukal sings with a slight accent, thankfully he is able to sing clean and reminds me a bit of the BONFIRE vocalist. The music is quite melodic and catchy, with some great guitarwork as well and thanks to the big massive production, this CD is definitely worth checking out. The highlights can be found during the middle of the CD, namely the songs “Gone”, “My inner call”, “Personal war” and “Chains”, all combining elements of Progressive Metal and Melodic Hardrock, sounding like a mix between VANDENPLAS and EDGUY. The few modern/aggressive Metal influences should be left out next time, because they do not sound convincing enough, especially during a song like “Faces of le”. Nevertheless, a nice band to check out at: www.venefica.cz 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

ROADS TO DAMASCUS ‘R2D2’ (MELODIC REVOLUTION RECORDS/USA IMPORT)

The band ROADS TO DAMASCUS is coming out of Scotland, formed around guitarist/keyboardplayer Calum Jamieson and vocalist Steve Simms. ‘R2D2’ is their 2nd album and musically speaking we are heading into high quality Melodic Neo-Progressive Rock here. Not far removed from the legendary IQ, PALLAS and PENDRAGON, this band is doing things at a pretty high level. 10 songs are included and in contrary to the already mentioned similar bands, ROADS TO DAMASCUS is more focusing on strong melodies instead of long instrumental breaks and as a result songs like “Ghosts” and “That smile” even add some AOR melodies. In fact, they remind me so much of FOR ABSENT FRIENDS, also an underrated band that combined Neo-Prog with more AOR friendly choruses and melodies instead of endless guitar-keyboardsolo’s. I’m quite sure this band is interesting enough for the fans of mentioned bands to check out at: http://www.1add1.co.uk/about-us.html 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

MAKAR ‘FUNERAL GENIUS’ (MAKAR MUSIC/USA IMPORT)

ANDREA DE ANGELIS is the female singer/songwriter/guitarist who fronts the band MAKAR, a band from New York whom deliver their 2nd album with ‘Funeral genius’. The other core member of the band is pianoplayer/vocalist MARK PURNELL. Together with bassist MARK NILGES and drummer DAWN MCGRATH they recorded a quality Indie-Rock album that sounds very American College-Rock orientated and could well have been released in any of the past 3 decades, so I guess you can call this timeless music. They already enjoyed their fifteen minutes of fame when one of their videos was broadcasted on MTV2. The music is as already mentioned Indie-Rock orientated, yet with the catchiness of the 1980s somewhow, because I hear some similarities to the early 1980s quirky Pop/Rock of let’s say QUARTERFLASH, DEVO, BLONDIE, THE BANGLES, THE MOTELS, DIVINYLS and even a bit of PAT BENATAR, yet less rocking. A few tracks does also feature Mark singing, but those are the least interesting tracks here, because it is the excellent clean vocals of the beautiful Andrea that make MAKAR such an interesting band to check out. The only remark I would like to make is that some more guitarwork upfront would be helpful, as now something the overall sound is a bit thin. Nevertheless, fans of quirky female fronted pop/rock with a strong Indie approach will be interested to check out MAKAR at: www.makarmusic.com 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

FULL HOUZE ‘STREETS OF TOWN’ (INDEPENDENT/GREECE IMPORT)

Formed in 2001, the Greek band FULL HOUZE delivers their debut CD now 11 years later in the shape of ‘Streets of town’. The displayed music is Southern Hard Rock in the classic American tradition of bands like MOLLY HATCHET, LYNYRD SKYNYRD, DOC HOLIDAY and ZZ TOP. The vocals are very raw, while the guitarwork is quite sensational, sounding quite melodic and precise. 12 tracks are included and despite the fact it will be hard of course to beat the upcoming new LYNYRD SKYNYRD album, this first album of FULL HOZUE is definitely something worth checking out if you’re a fan of Southern fried Hard Rock in the style of mentioned bands. More info is available at: www.fullhouze.gr 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

WILL WALLNER AND VIVIEN VAIN ‘WILL WALLNER AND VIVIEN VAIN’ (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

British Guitarist WILL WALLNER and Croatian vocalist VIVIEN VAIN came to Hollywood from Europe several years ago and after a meeting with the legendary Appice brothers (CARMEN and VINNY) at the famous RAINBOW BAR and GRILL at the Sunset Strip, they were able to fulfill their Hollywood dream with the recording of a full-length CD that not only features the 2 musicians, but also feature such legendary musicians like RUDY SARZO, TONY FRANKLIN, DEREK SHERINIAN, TONY CAREY and the already mentioned APPICE BROTHERS on drums. Without a doubt, this album has become a classic American Hard Rock sounding album. Although vocally female singer Vivien is able to sing quite well (and actually reminds me a bit of MICHAEL SWEET !), it is Will who completely steals the show here with his excellent guitar playing that is almost as good as shredders like JOHN SYKES or EDDIE VAN HALEN. The Melodic Hardrock is of a very high level and fans of let’s say classic HEAVEN’S EDGE, DOKKEN, XYZ, STRYPER and such need to check out this release asap at: www.wallnervain.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

CLAUDE WEISBERG ‘HERE I AM’ (MAIA RECORDS/ITALY IMPORT)

CLAUDE WEISBERG is an Italian Singer/Songwriter who releases an EP titled ‘Here I am’, which musically is going into the L.A. Westcoast / laid-back AOR direction of the early 1980s. The most remarkable fact here is that people like Herman Furin (WORK OF ART), Jean Michel Byron (TOTO), AOR God MICHAEL THOMPSON, ROBBIE BUCHANAN and several others helped out Claude. 4 songs are included and although vocally Claude has an accent, the fans of DAVID ROBERTish Westcoast-AOR will probably appreciate this. Somehow he also reminds me vocally a bit of JAMES TAYLOR and JIM GROCE, yet musically it is more Westcoast-AORish. Full-length CD is in progress, so we’ll wait and see what that might bring. More info at: www.facebook.com/claudeweisberg 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

FRAZE GANG ‘2’ (BONGO BEAT RECORDS/CANADA IMPORT)

FRAZE GANG is the follow-up band to legendary 1980s Classic Canadian Melodic Rockband BRIGHTON ROCK, because the 2 main members formed that band almost 30 years ago. After the split of BRIGHTON ROCK back in 1991, the members went their own direction until somewhere in the 2000s when 2 BRIGHTON ROCK members, guitarist/vocalist GREG FRASER and bassist/vocalist STEVIE SKREEBS formed FRAZE GANG. Their debut was released in 2008 and now 4 years later ‘2’ is released, with BEAU HILL behind the mixing desk. The result is a nice almost SINNER sounding Teutonic Metal album with only a few slight Melodic Hardrock influences, so it is somewhat different than BRIGHTON ROCK’s sound. The best song is the semi-rocker/ballad “Never want to say goodbye”, while the rest is sounding closer to the already mentioned SINNER, including quite raw vocals. The real strong melodies and catchiness of what made BRIGHTON ROCK such a remarkable band in the Canadian Rock history are hard to find here, as instead the band has chosen for a more heavier approach, although during the mentioned highlight the band goes for a more Melodic Hardrock approach. Concluded, this album might be more at home for the Metalheads out there and thanks to the massive sound of it, it is a recommended one as well! Check out more info at: www.frazegang.com 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

MIA KLOSE ‘LONDON’ (DMD MUSIC/UK IMPORT)

Now this is a surprise and a quite sensational one actually, because Swedish singer/songwriter MIA KLOSE releases a fantastic debut album that musically sounds dangerously close to the Classic 1980s Female Fronted Melodic Hardrocksound of acts like LAOS, VIXEN, WITNESS, LITA FORD, STEFFANIE and such. Thankfully, Mia is a great singer and thanks to a superb instrumental back-up and production by musicians DANNY DRAMA and MELLY, all done at a studio in London, it is a pleasure to listen to ‘London’, which has been released through the band’s own label DMD MUSIC. Anyway, it seems like the Swedish are very keen on the female fronted Melodic Hardrocksound, because just recently we had the wonderful debut record of NUBIAN ROSE of and this first record of MIA KLOSE follows that style quite nicely. Opener “Open your eyes” is the big anthem for sure here, an uptempo catchy Melodic Hardrock tune that sounds like the perfect cross between VIXEN and LAOS. The only pity might be that only 8 tracks are included, but still it is an enjoyable 30 minutes of fun catchy 80s Melodic Hardrock, with as other highlights the ballad “Living for tomorrow”, the lovely uptempo melodic rockers “Ladykiller” and “Never too late”. A few of the songs also remind me of LISA DOMINIQUE (“You drive me crazy” and “Mama”), which are the weaker songs, but overall check out MIA KLOSE a.s.a.p. if you call yourself a fan of female fronted Melodic Hardrock! More at: www.miaklose.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

PURE STAR MOVEMENT ‘ARRIVAL TO EARTH/THE INVASION’ (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

At first sight I honestly thought this was some sort of joke, because when I opened the package and saw the frontcover of the full-length CD ‘Arrival to earth’, the Indiana, USA based band PURE STAR MOVEMENT looked like either an R&B act or a Hollywood Rap-Urban-Hardcore act!!! The more surprised I was when I put on the music, because this band is actually playing an almost AOR/Melodic Rock kinda style, which sounds like a mix between a JEFF SCOTT SOTO fronted JOURNEY meets ENCHANT, loaded with catchy hooks and beautiful melodies straight out of the big AOR book, yet with instrumental some influences of the Progrockbook and here and there a very tiny piece of Urban Music! It is very rare to see a Black Rockband making AORish music. Anyway, PURE STAR MOVEMENT are doing it very well and if only they would have a major label backing them up, with a producer from the AOR/Rockworld, who knows how sensational these guys are able to sound on a future CD. In the meantime, they sent me 2 albums they released, an excellent full-length record from 2010 titled ‘Arrival to earth’ and an EP called ‘The invasion’ they recently released. Included is a lot of great material, with as highlights “Fly away” (a superb pure AOR song that almost should be put next to MECCA or MICHAEL THOMPSON BAND!), “Back home”, “Give it all to you”, “I believe”, “One million reasons”, “I won’t leave you” and “Never alone”. I have to say that when they start rocking, it is going a little more into the typical American Modern Rock genre, but during the mentioned calmer songs it is almost AOR all the way, very JOURNEYish. They fit in somewhere between the classic American AOR sound and today’s modern Rocksound of let’s say HOOBASTANK and DAUGHTRY. Their looks may be deceiving, but believe me, this band has something interesting to offer and as far as I can see and read on the internet, they seem to have a bright future ahead of them, which would not surprise me, as they are playing high quality melodic rock music that might appeal to the regular AOR fan for sure. More at: www.purestarmovement.com 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

JAC DALTON ‘ICARUS’ (INDEPENDENT/AUSTRALIA IMPORT)

Now this is a very impressive record from the Australian singer/songwriter JAC DALTON. I believe it is his 2nd album so far and the included material on ‘Icarus’ is basically pure Classic Melodic Rock/AOR, with excellent guitarwork of GRAHAM GREENE. Graham used to be in the AOR band ICE TIGER, of whom we reviewed their excellent one-off release on LONG ISLAND RECORDS about 20 years ago (!). Jac is a great singer, with a typical Aussie way of singing, like a cross between PAUL RODGERS, JIMMY BARNES, DAVID COVERDALE and PAUL SHORTINO, so sounding raw and bluesy. Especially the first 2 songs are really great AOR/Melodic Rocksongs, “Waterline” and the superb “For your love” that even reminds me a bit of the legendary Aussie band AVION (remember them?). Other highlights are the lovely catchy uptempo Melodic Rockers “Good to go” and “State of Rock” and the priggish semi melodic rockballad “Icarus”. There’s also room for some typical VAN HALEN meets AC/DCish straight-ahead ballsy Hardrock (“Armed and dangerous”,”Suck bang blow” and the AC/DC cover “Back in black”) and a SHAKRA/GOTTHARDish tune (“Locked cocked and ready to rock”) that should go down very well live on stage I guess. Somehow the overall sound on this album does also remind me of ROUGH CUTT, whom also delivered a mix of Classic 80s American Heavy Rock, some Rock and Roll, a touch of Bluesy Hardrock and a couple AOR/Melodic Hardrocksongs, but you might as well fill in HEAVEN’S EDGE, VON GROOVE or XYZ here. Without a doubt, a high quality recording and very much recommended to fans of mentioned bands and in particular the fans of good clean Melodic Hardrock. More at: http://www.jacdalton.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

FORCENTURY ‘REVELANT’ (MIGHTY MUSIC/TARGET DISTRIBUTION/DENMARK IMPORT)

I somehow must have missed the debut album ‘Vanguard’ from 2009 of the Dannish band FORCENTURY, but their 2nd album ‘Revelant’ is definitely a massive sounding album that should appeal to anyone into Melodic Progressive Power Metal. Comparisons to PAGAN’S MIND and a less proggy THRESHOLD are very clear here, but there’s also a healthy dose of Melodic Power Metal to be heard, such as during the fast opener “Seal of the sinner”. One of the absolute highlights is definitely the midtempo “Ashen”, which is quite a superb bombastic Progressive Metal tune that reminds of PAGAN’S MIND, yet with a darker approach. Also “The shroud” is such a beautiful track, with a very nice calmer intro that sounds just perfect and then when the gallop-guitar-wall-of-sound kicks in, we’re heading into a Classic Melodic Metalsound (reminding me of HELLOISE somehow!). Important for this kind of Metal is the vocalwork, which thankfully is in good shape here, because the band’s lead singer JOHNN THUNDER has a strong voice that somehow reminds me of 80s Dutch Metal singers (VANDENBERG/HELLOISE). As mentioned, the sound/production is huge and the musicianship is rather excellent, with nothing but high quality from start to finish. The band does also take some Thrash Metal influences into their songs, especially during the rather aggressive sounding “Repercussions of terror” and “Beyond recognition”, but follow up those 2 songs with the finest song on the whole album, which is the beautiful semi-ballad “Safe haven” that could have been on any HELLOISE album! And also the fantastic “The reductionist” should be mentioned, because this is a fantastic THRESHOLD soundalike uptempo Progressive Metal Masterpiece! Conclusion, any Metalhead should go check out this lovely new album of FORCENTURY, which is a mix between PAGAN’S MIND and HELLOISE, with some Power and Thrash Metal influences here and there… More at: www.forcentury.com 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

RIGEL ‘SIGHTSEEING AT MIDNIGHT’ (INDEPENDENT/TSM PROMOTIONS)

RIGEL is an American band playing Electro Pop-Rock with a clear 80s approach of a NEW ORDER/DEPECHE MODE Dark Wave kind, with a slight touch of Industrial a la MINISTRY. The band consists of 2 musicians, namely ROBERT BUSHINSKY (vocals, keys, piano, programming…) and JAY O’MEARA (guitars). ‘Sightseeing at midnight’ is their 2nd album and despite the slight underground/experimental approach, fans of mentioned bands will definitely find something of interest here at: www.facebook.com/riegelsound 

(Points: 7.1 out of 10)

DON JACOBS ‘DRIVE’ (SKYE RECORDS/USA IMPORT)

DON JACOBS is a singer/songwriter from Mississippi, USA and he was kind enough to sent me his 2nd CD ‘Drive’, which is the follow-up to his debut ‘Late night radio’ from 2009. Musically he is clearly influenced by the Delta Blues/American Singer-Songwriter style, with a slight touch of Heartland Rock and a bit of Westcoast. Don grew up in Mississippi, but also spent a long time in Europe to learn about the art and culture. Eventually he went back to his roots and also continued to make music and this new CD ‘Drive’ is a nice new record of him, which contains calmer Singer-Songwriter Americana type of Pop/Rock with somewhat raw, raspy lead vocals of Don that somehow remind me a bit of MICHAEL STANLEY. “Loneliness is” is definitely one of the better songs here, as this has that typical laid-back melancholic but melodic acoustic tingled Westcoast/Heartland type of semi pop-rock sound only American musicians are able to create and overall this song sounds like a cross between 70s DAKOTA and BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. Although this is not a classic album, fans of typical American singer/songwriter pop/rock need to check out the talented DON JACOBS at: www.donjacobs.net 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

JEFF GATES BAND ‘COLORBLIND BLUES’ (INDEPENDENT/TSM PROMOTIONS)

Out of South Carolina, USA comes singer/songwriter/guitarist JEFF GATES, who is a very talented musician releasing his 2nd CD with ‘Colorblind blues’. As the title might predict, this is pure Blues and then not in the JOE BONAMASSA modern direction, but instead going down the pure Blues way of BB KING and STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN, with some very raw raspy vocals and a slow tempo, also reminiscent of GARY MOORE circa the early 1990s. Here And there we can also hear an uptempo barroom-boogie song that swings quite a lot. Most interesting is the guitarwork of Jeff, because that sounds damn good, but vocally and songwise it is quite cliché tingled and dangerously close to the inventors of this genre. Nevertheless, it is done very well and a must-have for the fans of pure Bluesrock. More at: www.jeffgatesband.com 

(Points: 7.2 out of 10)

VETO ‘SINUS’ (DGR MUSIC/RCA/SONY MUSIC)

‘Sinus’ is already the 4th release of the Danish band VETO and who knows it might become their big break, because what we get to hear on this album is of a very high level. Although in the modern age of music it is almost impossible to be original, VETO is nevertheless doing things just a little different and perhaps more interesting than the somewhat radio-format based other bands in the Electro Poprock genre (THE EDITORS, THE KILLERS, WHITE LIES, MAXIMO PARK…). On the other hand, 80s pioneers DEPECHE MODE, NEW ORDER, THE FIXX, ULTRAVOX and HUMAN LEAGUE are never far away when listening to the 6 songs on this new EP ‘Sinus’, which by the way will shortly be followed up by another EP. The absolute major key factor in VETO’s sound is the massive use of keys, synths and drums that make it sound very 1980s, yet the real unique selling point of the band is definitely the superb vocalwork of TROELS ABRAHAMSEN. He has got an excellent tone in his voice, which makes him sound as good as any American or British singer out there. To become huge in the music business nowadays you just got to have a great singer in your line-up and in the case of VETO one will instantly agree that their singer has got that extra touch needed to move on to bigger things in the future. The material on the EP is pure Electro Poprock with strong melodies and a lot of hi-tech instrumental back-up, so fans of mentioned bands definitely need to check out VETO asap at: www.vetonet.dk and who knows they will become the next THE EDITORS, WHITE LIES or THE KILLERS… to be continued!

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

THE VAL ‘BACK’ (SOUNDARELLA RECORDS/SPAIN IMPORT/TSM PROMOTIONS)

And here we have a little surprise from Madrid, Spain in the shape of a great female fronted pure AOR release of a band called THE VAL. Formed only recently, in 2010, THE VAL is a band formed around a fantastic female singer called GABRIELLE DE VAL, who sounds like a mix between a laid-back ANN WILSON from the 1970s, LANA LANE and KAREN CARPENTER. Although Spain brought us some nice AOR/Melodic Rock albums in the past, it has been a little quiet lately until now, but this THE VAL is sounding very impressive. Thanks to the lovely vocalwork of Gabrielle and the hit potential catchy picture-perfect female fronted AOR/Poprock material on their debut ‘Back’, this band can easily compete with their legendary hometown female fronted AOR band NEXX. The sound is a little light here and there, very late 1980s orientated and also reminding a lot of T’PAU, CONNIE SCOTT, TWO PIECE PUZZLE, COASTLINE and ANGELA AND THE RUDE (anyone remember them???) during the start of the album, so a little more leaning towards Poprock, but with so many catchy AOR melodies and beautiful vocalwork, this THE VAL will easily find it’s way to the AOR fans out there! One of the absolute highlights is the excellent pure early 1980s AOR rocker “Pay (for the lonely nights)” that sounds a bit like early 80s HEART meets TANTRUM meets TORONTO, including dut-dut keys, lovely chorus and a fantastic guitarsolo. 12 tracks are included and not a single one is a filler, so fans of mentioned acts need to check out this release a.s.a.p. Thanks to the mastering of JOE GASTWIRT (of GRATEFUL DEAD, JIMI HENDRIX, TOM PETTY, YES, CSNY fame) in California, the overall sound is of a very high level and sometimes it gives you the feeling you are listening to something that was created in the good ole USA 30 years ago, but it really is something new from the beautiful city of Madrid in Spain. MUST-HAVE for any fan of female fronted AOR! More at: www.theval.es 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

ANDREAS DORAU ‘DEMOKRATIE’ (ATA TAK/BUREAU B./SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

Througout the 1980s a new underground music style came to life in especially Germany, which was a sort of mix between the 1970s experimental German Krautrock and Electronic Music of bands like CAN, KRAFTWERK and KLAUS SCHULZE and the late 1970s/early 1980s British New Wave/Punk movement. It was called Neue Deutsche Welle and with German lyrics, it became a sound that started in the underground, but eventually went commercial at some point with FALCO, NENA, PETER SCHILLING and BAP. ANDREAS DORAU was one of the exponents and his 1988 release ‘Demokratie’ is now re-issued. Without a doubt, if you’re a fan of this genre, you will absolutely love this album, which is a mixture of uptempo drumcomputerized 1980s synth-driven material that is usually combined with almost a speaking way of singing in the German language. When listening to a song like “Blume ‘86” it feels like you have stepped into a time machine and find yourself in a Disco somewhere in East Berlin! Only for the die-hard fans of mentioned acts!

(Points: 6.0 out of 10)

THE CUBICAL ‘ARISE CONGLOMERATL’ (HALFPENNY RECORDS/CARGIO RECORDS/ SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

Out of Liverpool comes a band, which might become the next big thing, as their new album ‘Arise conglomeratl’ sounds like it was recorded in 1965 or something. I’m not saying it sounds dated, because this kinda Retro Rock is very trendy at the moment, so one should see take it as a compliment in this case. Their mix of Garage Rock, Psychedelica and raw bluesy Rock and Roll sounds dangerously close to THEM and CAPTAIN BEEFHEART but it’s their lead singer DAN WILSON who steals the show here, sounding raw to the bone, with a deep whiskey like tone in his voice, not unlike an outta-control 1960s VAN MORRISON. Anyway, their energetic songs on the 2nd album should live go down very well I guess, as this is what Rock and Roll is all about actually. Must-have for fans of ROLLING STONES, THE WHO, THEM, THE KINKS, etc. etc.

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

THE LATE CALL ‘PALE MORNING LIGHT’ (TAPETE RECORDS/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

Live on stage there are of course more musicians, but THE LATE CALL is really an one-man’s band formed around multi-instrumentalist Johannes Mayer, who does everything on his own on the studio-albums he releases under that moniker. ‘Pale morning light’ is the 3rd release and musically we are pleased with a mix of Indie Pop/Rock and acoustic Singer/Songwriter semi-Folkpop pieces that all sound quite melodic, a bit reminding of ANDREW BIRD meets FLEET FOXES meets BRIGHT EYES meets BON IVER, including the high vibrato pitched vocalwork. 10 tracks are included and from start to finish it is quality stuff what we get to hear here. Although it has been done many times in a similar style the past 10 years, THE LATE CALL is definitely a must-have if you’re into the mentioned acts. Check out more at: www.thelatecall.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

INDIAN HANDCRAFTS ‘CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE FOR LOSERS’ (SARGENT HOUSE/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

This surely must be one of the most raw and real sounding rockalbums of the past few years. THE BLACK KEYS might be one of the leading bands at the moment, but this Canadian band called INDIAN HANDCRAFTS sounds so mean and dirty, perhaps they might become huge someday, especially if they are able to play the European Festivals. Here and there they are probably a bit too heavy for some people, as they have got such a dirty massive fuzzy guitarsound, they make any Metalband sound polished, but nevertheless, what INDIAN HANDCRAFTS is doing on their 2nd album is much appreciated, especially if you’re a fan of Stoner Rock in the style of KYUSS, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE and such. The band consists of drummer/vocalist Brandyn James Aikins and guitarist/vocalist Daniel Brandon Allen and they combine monstrous heavy almost Doom Metal like guitar riffs out of the classic BLACK SABBATH book with a sorta 1990s close-to-screaming ish vocalstyle. The result is an album that will definitely appeal to anyone who likes their music raw and edgy and far removed from a commercial or radio orientated sound. More info and samples available at: http://indianhandcrafts.bandcamp.com/ 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

COLOUR HAZE ‘SHE SAID’ (ELEKTRO HASCH SCHALLPLATTEN/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

‘She said’ is already the 10th album of the German band COLOUR HAZE, but the first one I have heard so far. That new album consists of 2 full length discs and is musically a semi-instrumental journey through the fields of Psychedelic Heavy Rock, Stoner Hardrock and Progressive Rock, sounding very much like the glorious guitar driven 1970s. The band consists of guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald and of course many comparisons can be drawn here. They even remind me of the legendary Dutch bands CARGO and COSMIC DEALER, although the fuzzy guitarsound makes it a clear KYUSS/SABBATH influenced band. The fanatics of this genre are probably going to love this band and I can not see any reason why not to love this album, because it sounds like a classic 1970s rockalbum, although recorded in 2012! Check out this amazing in-depth review at: http://theobelisk.net/obelisk/2012/09/18/colour-haze-she-said-review/ and for more info on the band click to: www.colourhaze.de/ 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

HOT PANDA ‘GO OUTSIDE’ (MINT RECORDS/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

Formed in Edmonton, Canada, the Indie Rockband HOT PANDA releases it’s 3rd album with ‘Go outside’. The band features vocalist, guitarist and main songwriter Chris Connelly (not to be confused with the Scottish singer-songwriter), keyboardist Heath Parsons, bassist Catherine Hiltz and drummer Maghan Campbell. Their music is melodic clean sounding Indie Pop/Rock with a punky rock and roll attitude that does sound quite catchy actually. Although nothing new is happening here, HOT PANDA is definitely an interesting band to check out, because they are building a great bridge between Indie Pop, Melodic Rock and punky Rock and Roll on their new album ‘Go outside’. And don’t let the frontcover of the album fool ya, because this is definitely a great record to check out. More at: www.hotpanda.ca 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

LOWLANDS ‘BEYOND’ (GYPSY CHILD RECORDS/ITALY IMPORT)

Although the 3rd album of the Italian band LOWLANDS starts very heavy and almost like a pure Punkrockband, the following song “Hail hail” is back-to-basic classic Melodic Rock and Roll with a nice guitar melody and catchy chorus to sing-a-long to, even sounding a bit like BONFIRE!!! The band LOWLANDS is formed around British born singer-songwriter Edward Abbiati and on this new album he gets help from the legendary JOEY HUFFMAN (http://www.joeyhuffman.com/ ), who is known for his work with acts like BUTCH WALKER, BOWLING FOR SOUP, MICK JAGGER, MATCHBOX 20, LYNYRD SKYNYRD…). Like already said, the album starts very raw and punky, the rest of the album is clearly in favor of melodies, both in the vocal/chorus department and also the guitarsound is very melodic. It all sounds like BONFIRE during their slightly Alternative years, so without the Hardrock sound. Especially the vocals of Edward are close to that of a German/Italian Melodic Hardrockband, but the music is as mentioned definitely tapping out of a different cover, because despite sounding melodic, the sound is combining elements of Classic Rock and Indie Pop/Rock. Sometimes laid-back and at other times rocking out, but always keen on strong melodies that stick in your head. Good album that sounds like a mixture of the American bands producer JOEY HUFFMAN usually works with, yet with a typical European sounding singer/songwriter. More info at: http://www.lowlandsband.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

SKY COUNTRY ‘SONGS FROM NOWHERE I’ (4TH STREET RECORDS/HEMIFRAN)

SKY COUNTRY is a band from California, with bandleader NICO GEORIS taking care of most instruments, besides singing, writing and producing the record. Funny thing is that just yesterday I listened to a record by a great female fronted AOR band called THE VAL, which is something completely different than this record of SKY COUNTRY, but still they have one thing in common, namely the fact that both records were mastered by JOE GASTWIRT (of GRATEFUL DEAD, JIMI HENDRIX, TOM PETTY, YES, CSNY fame) in California. SKY COUNTRY however are musically a mix between Bluegrass, Country and Folk, with a singer/songwriter acoustic guitar approach and vocally hanging towards a depressing male vocal style like TOM WAITS. Nevertheless, the record has it’s charm and especially during the more upbeat tunes (such as “United states of my mind” and “Bigger sun”), it does sound quite nice. Somehow however you miss a female voice to compensate the somewhat depressive low tone in Nico’s voice, but it’s nice to have reviewed 2 records mastered by the same guy, yet both sounding completely different. More info at: http://nicogeoris.bandcamp.com/album/songs-from-nowhere-i 

(Points: 7.6 out of 10)

 (All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem except where noted) 

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