HOT NEW REVIEWS UPDATED ON MAY 22 - 2006

AGE OF NEMESIS ‘PSYCHOGEIST’ (MAGNA CARTA/MASCOT RECORDS)

Out of Hungary comes the band AGE OF NEMESIS, a band which exists for quite some time now, first releasing albums with Hungarian lyrics, but with ‘Psychogeist’ they have delivered their 2nd English sung record. Without a doubt, we are dealing here with a very sensational band, which could easily be the best act ever to come out of Hungary. The band is playing Melodic Progressive Metal, not far removed from VANDENPLAS, THRESHOLD and BALANCE OF POWER. The band has a very good lead singer (Zoltan Kiss) and instrumental and production are in a really good condition, besides the fact that some of the included songs are really terrific. 11 songs are included in total, of which the first 6 songs form together the epos “The psychogeist story”, of which the parts “Faceless enemy” and “Breaking away” are the absolute highlights. From the remaining 5 songs I need to add the song “Eye of the snake” as a superb Melodic Progressive Metal masterpiece, which is as good as mentioned acts, but also reminds me a lot of STRIDE, so all you prog metalfans out there looking for a typical melodic prog metalact with strong melodies, instrumental neo-classical parts and high class vocals should look no further, because the new AGE OF NEMESIS is a record to own if you want to discover another gem in this constantly growing genre. More info at: http://www.magnacarta.net  and http://www.ageofnemesis.com

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

XPLOYA ‘JUST A DREAM’ (INDEPENDENT)

Strong modern sounding Melodic Rock is what we can hear on the CD of the American Christian Rockband XPLOYA. The melodic choruses are very strong, the CREED like male lead singer is able to sing very well, while most of the songs contain great guitarsolos and all together this sounds like if it was released on a major label. Of course it sounds very American, you know the kind of rock you hear when turning on the radio in the USA or when you look at the Billboard charts where Christian Rockbands like CREED, RELIENT K and KUTLESS are quite popular. Well, this XPLOYA has got that typical American rocksound, which sounds quite modern, but also very melodic, not only reminding of those Christian acts, but also HOOBASTANK and even BO BICE are good comparisons. A few uptempo rockers, a lot of midtempo rockers and a bunch of (semi) ballads are making this 12 songs counting CD of XPLOYA diverse enough to keep up the interest from start to finish. Highlights are “Fall on me”, “Waiting”, “Come on (Little Ray)” (very strong midtempo song, almost AOR like chorus a la PSEUDO ECHO/ROXUS!) and “Free me”. More info on XPLOYA at: http://www.xploya.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

MIKE’S CHAIR ‘OTHER SIDE EP’ (FLATROCK MANAGEMENT)

Most of the new American rockbands sound the same, so the difference is coming in the vocal department. This is also the case with MIKE’S CHAIR, a band with a modern melodic rocksound, with a violinplayer in the line-up, but do not expect any KANSAS similarities! Nevertheless, the 4 included songs on their EP show they are a pretty good band, with a pure Melodic Rocksound actually. The band’s singer (Mike Grayson) has a strong voice and songs like “Awaken me” and “Other side” (very strong 80s sounding poprocker a la MR. MISTER/1927) are very catchy tunes. With so many new rockacts out of the USA reaching our desks, I finally can conclude that the melodies and real vocalwork in the American rockmusic are coming back big time, so if you don’t mind some modern influences, let’s say close to the latest DEF LEPPARD release with stronger poppier vocals, then this MIKE’S CHAIR is yours to take. More info at: http://www.mikeschair.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

DEADSTAR ASSEMBLY ‘UNSAVED’ (PURE RECORDS/THE LABEL/BERTUS)

American band with an Industrial Metalsound, like a mix between MINISTRY, MARILYN MANSON and NINE INCH NAILS, so not really interesting, but somehow these guys are doing things quite professional, making them a winner for fans of this genre. The songs also feature melodic choruses, despite all the industrial sounds, so happily it is not screaming at all, because the chorus of a song like “Kill myself again” almost has a melodic Glam feeling. In the end, it reminds me a lot of SHOTGUN MESSIAH from back in the day, with a modernized Industrial Metal sound backing it up.

(Points: 7.1 out of 10)

KICK’N SCREAM ‘KICK’N SCREAM’ (INDEPENDENT)

Glamrock from the UK! Well, I’ll be damned, when was the last time I heard a band from there playing pure 80s Glamrock, probably when we started this magazine 10+ years ago when there actually was a scene with bands like CITY KIDS and LEGS UP. Anyway, KICK’N SCREAM is a very young band, because the members are in their early 20s. The Melodic Glamrock sounds like mid 80s LA, so a lot of Hairspray and Spandex a la CRUE, POISON, FASTER PUSSYCAT, PRETTY BOY FLOYD and TIGERTAILZ. The lead vocals are not really strong and you can clearly hear this is a band with a demo, so we do not have a winner a la CRASH DIET, HARDCORE SUPERSTAR or BABYLON BOMBS here. However, the 4 included songs already show this is a band which will be loved by the fans of classic 80s LA Glamrock, so better check out their site at: http://www.kicknscream.com and e-mail at: info@kicknscream.com 

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

THE MOTORS ‘THE MOTORS 1’ (CAPTAIN OI! RECORDS)

I don’t think anyone knows the band THE MOTORS, but what everyone does know is the song “Airport”, at least here in The Netherlands and probably the rest of Europe. Just recently this song was heavily used in a TV commercial here in Holland, which was broadcasted so many times everybody in Holland was re-introduced the song, giving the song a high charting in the yearly all-time charts published by national radio. However, THE MOTORS had 3 full albums in the late 70s, which contained much more good time rockmusic. All 3 albums have been re-issued onto CD by CAPTAIN OI! RECORDS. Of course the music has nothing to do with Oi! Or Punk, but that doesn’t matter, because the featured music is surprisingly very impressive. I had never heard anything else than “Airport”, so this was my first hearing of the band’s albums. The CD releases are coming along with a bunch of unreleased bonustracks, extensive liner notes and all the original songs have been carefully remastered making these 3 CD releases high quality releases. The original album ‘The motors 1’ was released in 1977, produced by none-other than MUTT LANGE (who later became the multi-million producer of DEF LEPPARD, BRYAN ADAMS, HUEY LEWIS, SHANAI TWAIN, etc.). The included music was actually typical British Melodic Poprock with good biting guitarwork and catchy choruses, sort of THE SWEET/SLADEish, but with a modern approach back in 1977, because the band had an early 80s rock approach already. I think the best comparisons are THE TUBES, CHARLIE, CITY BOY and that sort of Melodic US Poprock, sort of aiming at the American market without forgetting a British Glamrock influence. Songs like “Dancing the night away” (I actually knew this song as a cover version of the band ACE LANE), “Bring in the morning light”, “Emergency” and the bonustrack “Be what you gotta be”. So without a doubt, this is a much recommended CD to especially the fans of CHARLIE, CITY BOY, THE TUBES and also AOR acts like AERIAL, CHAMPION, HARLEQUIN comes to mind quite a few times…

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

THE MOTORS ‘APPROVED BY THE MOTORS’ (CAPTAIN OI! RECORDS)

1978 saw the release of the 2nd album of THE MOTORS, which musically saw them moving into an even more poppy direction. The album’s opener “Airport” became the song which launched their career and probably also killed it, because just like so many other bands, the song became better known than the band performing it. “Airport” is nowadays that well-known, especially thanks to recent use on national TV here in Holland, everybody knows it, also the youth, but nobody knows THE MOTORS and the fact they can find the original remastered version of “Airport” on a new CD re-issue of the 1978 album on CAPTAIN OI! RECORDS. Another song a lot of people will recognize is the pure 1970s Pop song “Forget about you”, which immediately gives you that 70s feeling, but also this song has nothing to do with rockmusic, despite it is a catchy tune. In fact, this 2nd album was a very poppy affair, which saw them moving into a RASPBERRIES sort of Powerpop style, which gave them big hits, but sadly missed the strong rocksongs which was the main base on their debut album from 1 year earlier. Nevertheless, if ever you’re wanting the original version of “Airport” on CD remastered, then this CAPTAIN OI! release should be in your hands!

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

THE MOTORS ‘TENEMENT STEPS’ (CAPTAIN OI RECORDS)

The band that was meant to become known as the “Airport” band, THE MOTORS released their final album in 1980, which has also been re-issued onto CD, along with a bunch of bonustracks and extensive liner notes. Their debut was a rockalbum with early 80s approach and 70s Glamrock influences, while their 2nd album was a very 70s pop affair with early 80s new wave influences, including heavy use of acoustic guitars and keyboards instead of the debut which featured crunchy guitarwork. Their final album ‘Tenement steps’ was a mix of both, although it saw them clearly approaching the early 80s keyboard dominated catchy melodic poprocksound, which was very US Radio orientated, even remembering me of LOVERBOY at times! This album will even be interesting for the AOR fans, especially catchy songs like “Love and loneliness”, “Modern man”, “Nightmare zero’ and “Love round the corner”. Once again the best comparisons I can make are CHARLIE, HARLEQUIN and CITY BOY again, so fans of those band should check out THE MOTORS asap and not be fooled by their “Airport” song, because they ad much more to offer.

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

WHITE ‘WHITE’ (RENAISSANCE RECORDS)

Out of nowhere comes the first CD of a new band called WHITE. The band is formed around some well-known musicians, such as ALAN WHITE (drums) who is of course known as being a long-time YES member, but also keyboardplayer GEOFRREY DOWNES of ASIA is in the line-up, while the 3 other spots are filled by bassist Steve Boyce, guitarist Karl Haug and vocalist Kevin Currie. Together they have recorded a good strong album which is typical British Progressive Melodic Rock, not far removed from ASIA’s John Payne days. Especially opener “New day” is a very strong song, featuring a great chorus. There are also some slight AOR influences, especially due to the melodic vocals of singer Kevin Currie. Not all songs are interesting, but it definitely is a consistent album that will be loved for sure if you’re a fan of ASIA. Other highlights besides the album’s opener are “Crazy believer”, “Dream away” and “Waterhole”. DO not consider this a rockalbum, as it is most of the time quite slow and soft, but nevertheless it is a nice relaxing proggy aor album. The CD is available through: http://www.cdthen.net  and more info, samples and other stuff on WHITE can be found at: http://www.whitemusic.net 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

KID EGO ‘IGNITE THE TIDE’ (ROCK REVOLUTION)

With the whole 80s Glam/Sleaze revival going on nowadays, partly thanks to the average THE DARKNESS, many new bands from especially Sweden and Italy have emerged. The UK has been struggling, because actually there has only been a reunion of TIGERTAILZ. Not much has happened concerning new bands, but all my doubts about the fact if there ever would stand up a great new Glamrockband from the UK has been washed away as soon as I put on the debut CD of the band KID EGO. This UK band has released what I would call one of the better sounding Glamrockbands from recent years, which easily is as good as the Swedish Glam releases from the past year (GEMINI FIVE, HARDCORE SUPERSTAR, BABYLON BOMBS, BACKYARD BABIES, CRASH DIET). KID EGO’s album is an absolute winner if you enjoyed the releases of those bands. This is how Glam is supposed to sound, meaning not only the catchy raw mean rock and roll sound, but accompanied with strong chorus and powerful melodic vocals. Especially the first 3 songs of their 12 songs counting album are very impressive, these are the uptempo sing-a-long Glamrock classics “Ignite the tide”, “Lady conniver” and “Till I die”, which are as good or even better than the legendary TIGERTAILZ. The trip on memory lane 80s L.A. Sunset Strip goes on with more catchy songs like “Heartbreak hooker”, “Long time runnin” and “Unbreakable”. Definitely a must-have for the fans of classic 80s LA Glam/00s Swedish Glam/Sleaze! More info at: http://www.kidego.co.uk  or http://www.myspace.com/kidego 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

PLATINUM JAR ‘PLATINUM JAR’ (INDEPENDENT)

Strong UK Melodic Rockband with a 4-track EP CD, which reveals clear influences of classic late 80s melodic rock a la DANGER DANGER, FIREHOUSE and BON JOVI. The fact they are coming out of the UK is even more surprising, as not many bands take on the challenge to play this kind of rock. It does sound quite good, opener “Slow road” is definitely a great semi-ballad which BON JOVI forgot to write. Next track “Rock Chick” takes on a 70s rock influence, with RAINBOW/WHITESNAKE influences, although the song also has got that 80s LA Hair Metal vibe (VAN HALEN), but the song itself is not as good as the opening tune. The melodic rocker “Our lost youth” then again is a very good song, sounding a bit like FIREHOUSE. Closing track ‘My favourite drug” is another BON JOVIish semi ballad. I would say to the melodic rockfans who long back to a pure 80s sound, well, better check out this PLATINUM JAR at: http://www.platinumjar.co.uk  and e-mail at: info@platinumjar.co.uk 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

FATAL FORCE ‘FATAL FORCE’ (MTM MUSIC)

Whenever MATS LEVEN is singing on a new record I get quite anxious in hearing it. He sang on many records in the past (SWEDISH EROTICA, TREAT, AT VANCE, MALMSTEEN) and with his unique raw voice which easily reaches the same sort of lungs of DAVID COVERDALE, Mats is one of those singers who you instantly love. The latest band he is involved with is FATAL FORCE, whom released their debut CD on MTM MUSIC. Musically nothing new under the horizon, but nevertheless, the included music here is very strong impressive ballsy Melodic Hard/Heavy Rock with a certain groove, not far from most of the other bands Mats has been singing in, although most of the time the songs are midtempo and slightly groovy, so uptempo songs can be found here. Nevertheless, it is a very strong album, which after a slightly struggling start has got really strong moments in songs like “Far away”, “No question”, “Let me know” and “Eye to eye”. Definitely a strong Melodic Hard/Heavy Rock/Metal record we have here…

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

ASPIRE ‘QUEST ETERNAL’ (ASPIRE PRODUCTIONS)

It’s really a shame that the production of this independent release is a bit average, because the vocals and drums do not sound the way they should supposed to sound within the overall sound of a CD. A big pity if you consider that the Melodic Neo-Classical Metal 80s style and lead vocals are top-notch here, so if only the band could go into a big studio with major producers they could well deliver something sensational. Nevertheless, the New York based band ASPIRE shows they have a bright future in front of them, because their first full-length CD is a strong SYMPHONY X/ARTENSION type of Neo-Classical Metal release which if it had a better production would have been quite a sensational release. They now sound like SYMPHONY X in their early days, which of course is still quite good, but I truly feel this band is able to deliver a monster release like we saw recently with similar acts like STRIDE and SUSPYRE. This ASPIRE is not yet in the same league, but everything is present, just some improvements in the production/overall sound quality next time, These guys will one day release something sensational, trust me. In the meantime, check them out if you like one of the mentioned bands at: http://www.aspireband.com  and e-mail at: info@aspireband.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

SHARK FRENZY ‘VOLUME 1+2 - THE PRE-BON JOVI YEARS’ (SONIC PAST MUSIC)

In the late 70s and early 80s members of BON JOVI played in several local acts, of which best known are THE REST, MESSAGE and SHARK FRENZY. Jon Bon Jovi himself recorded a lot of solo material, which was re-issued a few years ago, while guitarist RICHIE SAMBORA had his MESSAGE recordings released on CD. Now there are 2 CDs available with recordings of a band called SHARK FRENZY, active around 1980. Richie was a member of that band, so the 25 songs in total included here are definitely of some interest for BON JOVI fans. The sound is pretty good actually, while musically it sounds a bit dated, kinda like a mix between safe 1960s Beatrock and early 80s Poprock, sort of mixing BEATLES and LOVERBOY, which sometimes works quite well, such as on the catchy “Come Saturday night” or “I need your love”, but there are also plenty of songs on which it sounds a bit average. Nevertheless, this kind of early 80s US Poprock/Radiorock is always nice to hear. Best comparison is actually HUEY LEWIS meeting up with THE KNACK. Richie’s guitarplaying is notable of course, but it seems he wasn’t the leader of this band either, because vocalist/guitarist BRUCE FOSTER was the most important member of SHARK FRENZY. It was Bruce who took the challenge in releasing this rare material after being unnoticed for 25 years. CDs available through: http://www.sonicpastmusic.com 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

EMBELLISH ‘BLACK TEARS AND DEEP SONGS FOR LOST LOVERS…’ (GOI MUSIC/ROCK INC)

Band from Barcelona, Spain with a CD mastered at the famous Finnvox Studios by Mika Jussila (STRATO, SONATA, NIGHTWISH, ENTWINE, SENTENCED, etc). Musically sounding very much like the Finnish bands, because the male Gothic Metal has strong similarities to CHARON and HIM. Nothing original about this release, but it once again has radio potential written all over the place, because some of the included songs are as good as ENTWINE, HIM or CHARON, sometimes getting quite close to pure melodic rock during the catchy choruses of songs like “This wind”, “Nothing to promise”, “Your ghost dancing” and “When my heart is bleeding”. Recommended to fans of mentioned bands!

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

ETERNAL TEARS OF SORROW ‘BEFORE THE BLEEDING SUN’ (SPINEFARM RECORDS)

Instrumental this Finnish band sounds huge and typical Finnish, almost like SONATA/STRATO, but the vocal department is very raw, kinda like CHILDREN OF BODOM, so call this melodic symphonic death metal. It actually sounds quite good, although at one point you long for a melodic lead singer and and surprisingly on a few songs there are some very good clean vocals and then it does sound quite sensational (HIM meets SONATA/STRATO), such as on “Red dawn rising”, “Sinister rain” and “Angelheart/Ravenheart”. Hopefully on a future CD more clean vocals, because when they appear they do sound quite good. So this band is not only interesting for fans of CHILDREN OF BODOM, but also fans of typical Finnish Metal with the big keyboardsounds will like this on a few occasions.

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

END OF YOU ‘UNREAL’ (SPINEFARM RECORDS)

The new album of the Finnish band END OF YOU starts very dark and also quite calm, but develops into yet another very strong Goth Metal album (dark male vocals of AFTERWORLD singer Jami Pietilš a la THE CULT/BILLY IDOL) in the HIM/CHARON/SENTENCED style. Songs like “Upside down”, “Before” and “Rome” are very sensational typical Finnish Melodic Goth Metal songs in the best tradition of HIM, SENTENCED, CHARON, ENTWINE… The only song that sounded a bit different was closing track “Time to say”, which was pure Goth like in DEPECHE MODE style. Anyway, so nothing that original here, but still very good anyway! The band’s CD went straight into the Finnish charts, so another succesfull act from Finland and once again on the SPINEFARM RECORDS label.

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

THE POODLES ‘METAL WILL STAND TALL’ (LIONHEART)

Last year we had WIG WAM, the fantastic Norwegian band that participated in the Eurovision Song Contest and have so far released 2 very impressive albums, which musically contain high class Melodic Hardrock a la GOTTHARD, 80s DEF LEPPARD and BON JOVI. This year Sweden took the challenge and almost got THE POODLES into the Eurovision Song Contest. A pity it didn’t happen, because this is surely an awesome new band formed around members of THE RING, TALISMAN, LION’S SHARE, ZAN CLAN and several other Swedish bands (namely singer Jacob Samuel (Talisman,Jekyll and Hyde), guitarist Pontus Norgren (Talisman,Great King Rat), bassist Pontus Egberg (Lions Share) and drummer Christian Lundqvist (Raw)). The band had a great song in the contest, the melodic rocker “Night of passion” (co-written by Matti Alfonzetti, former vocalist in JAGGED EDGE, ALFONZETTI and SKINTRADE), also included on the band’s debut CD ‘Metal will stand tall’. The song didn’t make it to the Eurovision Song Contest, but nevertheless charted at number 1 in the National Swedish Charts. Now the band has their first CD available and I must say it sounds awesome, almost as good as WIG WAM and GOTTHARD and definitely much better than the new BONFIRE! It’s updated high class 80s inspired Melodic Hardrock with here and there a Metal riff, a bit in the Swedish tradition. The list of guest musicians and co-songwriters is pretty impressive, because names like HOLLY KNIGHT, MATS LEVEN, TOMMY DENANDER, JONAS REINGOLD and MARCEL JACOB pop up. Matti Alfonzetti co-produced the first CD of THE POODLES and it is absolutely stunning what we get to hear, really terrific sensational Melodic Hardrock/Metal with big catchy memorable choruses to sing-a-long with. Highlights include opener “Echoes from the past”, the HELLOWEEN/MANOWAR Metal Hymn “Metal will stand tall”, the Eurovision song “Night of passion”, the superb “Shadows” (which if I am not wrong here was the second song which THE POODLES played in the Swedish Eurovision Song Contest), the GOTTHARD midtempo melodic rocker “Don’t give up on love” and the uptempo melodic rocker “Kingdom of heaven”. The only weaker moments are the cover of the ULTRAVOX classic “Dancing with tears in my eyes” and the song “Number one” which suffers from a catchy chorus, which the rest of the 10 songs all have. Concluded, an absolute winner for fans of WIG WAM and GOTTHARD! More info at: http://www.poodles.se 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

MYGRAIN ‘ORBIT DANCE’ (SPINEFARM RECORDS)

This Finnish band is mixing aggressive screams with some clean vocals, although most of the time MYGRAIN is deeply firmed into aggressive metal, almost metalcore, but with a few melodic choruses, kinda like mixing STRATO, KORN, CHILDREN OF BODDOM and HIM. However, at one point it just gets too aggressive and then the Metalcore gets annoying. Only interesting if you’re into the aggressive mix of Black and Metalcore, with a few melodic choruses.

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

PERSUADER ‘WHEN EDEN BURNS’ (DOCKYARD 1/ROCK INC)

New album from this Swedish Power Metal band with singer JENS CARLSSON from SAVAGE CIRCUS. There are a lot of similarities with the before mentioned band with the exception that PERSUADER is a bit rawer and heavier than them. They sometimes also throw in some agro vocals. The big difference with SAVAGE CIRCUS or should I say BLIND GUARDIAN is the lack of outstanding songs. So a good record but not a must have.

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

THE WAKE ‘DEATH A HOLIC’ (SPINEFARM RECORDS)

This is non-stop Black/Aggro-Metalcore from start to finish, so nothing to worry about…

(Points: -)

KALMAH ‘THE BLACK WALTZ’ (SPINEFARM RECORDS)

Instrumental typical Finnish, but the screaming and growling are making this Symphonic Black Metal band only interesting for CHILDREN OF BODOM fans…

(Points: -)

SOLSTAFIR ‘MISTRESESS OF BITTERNESS’ (SPIKEFARM RECORDS)

Sort of dark atmospheric folk/goth metal is what we get to hear on the CD of the Finnish band SOLSTAFIR. I am not familiar with the band’s earlier work, but I do hear that this is a quality band and their CD is very different than anything else. The only pity is that the lead singer sometimes keeps screaming, which spoils the music a bit, because it has a lot of good parts, especially the long instrumental passages in the 20 minutes counting opener “I myself the visionary head”. Recommended to fans of THE GATHERING, yet without the female vocals.

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

AJATARRA ‘APARE’ (SPIKEFARM RECORDS)

More Black Metal from Finland…

(Points: -)

THE MACHETE ‘REGRESSION’ (SPIKEFARM RECORDS)

Good old Thrash Metal with a slight modern approach is what we get to hear on the CD of the Finnish band THE MACHETE. Like a good Thrash Metal band should sound like, it is non-stop fast and aggressive, recommended to fans of old TESTAMENT, SLAYER, DEATH ANGEL…

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

ELEFANT ‘THE BLACK MAGIC SHOW’ (HOLLYWOOD RECORDS/KEMADO RECORDS/WALT DISNEY RECORDS)

Very original rockmusic from the American band ELEFANT, whom are signed to a sublabel of WALT DISNEY RECORDS, HOLLYWOOD RECORDS. The band has a major label deal and could well become the next ARCTIC MONKEYS or KAISER CHIEFS, yet they hail from America. 11 songs are included and most of the songs are uptempo rockers with a true own identity, although you might recognize clear DAVID BOWIE influences, especially in the vocal department. The songs are melodic poprock orientated, with a sort of melancholic touch, kinda like late 70s and early 80s. It sounds like DAVID BOWIE doing BILLY IDOL covers, yet then in the form of an early 80s New Wave-Rockband like THE CURE meets ROXY MUSIC. So we have something original, which sounds quite good too and could well become huge, because songs like “Sirens”, “Lolita”, “Why” and “The lunatic” are quite memorable. It’s melodic, it’s original, has a retro 70s and 80s vibe, could easily become as big as PANIC AT THE DISCO!, KAISER CHIEFS, ARCTIC MONKEYS and whatever all these UK bands are called, because this American ELEFANT has got really potential in becoming big. More info on ELEFANT at: http://www.elefantweb.com 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

THIRD WISH ‘BE CAREFUL WHAT U WISH 4’ (INDEPENDENT)

Band from Arkansas/USA playing classic 80s Metal and although it sounds quite nice, you can clearly hear this is an independent band. The band’s 80s inspired US Metalsound has similarities to a METAL CHURCH, HELSTAR and ANVIL, yet somehow with a late 80s LA Metalsound (so a tiny bit Sleaze/Glam). Problem is that the lead vocals are not strong enough to make the included songs interesting, but on the other hand the music is quite diverse and on a song like “Misery and pain” is a very good straight-ahead uptempo Sleazy rocker that actually shows the band sounds best when doing this style, but also the ballad “Water under the bridge” is showing the band is able to release a strong recoe Be sure to check out THIRD WISH for more info at: http://www.thirdwishrocks.com 

(Points: 7.3 out of 10)

OBSCENITY ‘WHERE SINNERS BLEED’ (ARMAGEDDON MUSIC/ROCK INC)

Death Metal from Germany is all I can say here…

(Points: -)

BEFORE THE DAWN ‘THE GHOST’ (LOCOMOTIVE MUSIC/ROCK INC)

Although the band BEFORE THE DAWN is able to put some strong clean melodies into their music, I am afraid their CD ‘The ghost’ is too aggressive metalcore orientated to make any impression.

(Points: -)

ASSAILANT ‘NEMESIS’ (DOCKYARD 1/ROCK INC)

The band ASSAILANT comes out of Sweden and features the little brother of Emil Norberg (PERSUADER/SAVAGE CIRCUS) and Nils Norberg (NOCTURNAL RITES), namely drummer Oscar Norberg. Musically ASSAILANT is playing typical Melodic Metal, yet with an aggressive approach here and there in the vocal department, as it feels like the band is trying to mix NOCTURNAL RITES and BLIND GUARDIAN with some screams in a Metalcore/Black Metal movement, which is a pity, because singer Peder Sondqvist is able to sing clean a la NOCTURNAL RITES’ singer. Anyway, none of the 11 songs make any impression, so this is by far not a sensational Melodic Metal release from Sweden, which is quite unusual, because usually we receive nothing but high quality music from that part of Europe.

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

SUREAS ‘THE NAKED TRUTH’ (LOCOMOTIVE MUSIC/ROCK INC)

Assuming this band is coming out of Spain, they play a nice mixture of Gothic, Classic and Experimental Metal, not sounding like your standard band. The band has various singers (male/female) I believe, most of them singing clean and the music is quite melodic sometimes. Not saying this is a sensational release, but at least it is listenable from start to finish. A song like “Intoxicated” has a strong OZZY ish chorus, but the song itself has a more dark Gothic feeling with experimental moves during the start. At times the band moves into typical German Classic Metal (“Survived”), which will please fans of PRIMAL FEAR or BRAINSTORM for example, but then again the band is too diverse to compare them completely to those bands, because most of the material included here is midtempo and not straight-forward. Nevertheless, some of the songs feature strong catchy melodic choruses, so all together a nice release from this band of whom I don’t have any further info.

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

UNIKLUBI ‘KEHA’ (UNIVERSAL MUSIC)

Not much info on this band from Finland, but in their home country they seem to be pretty popular. The band mixes today’s Goth Metal of HIM, ENTWINE, THE NEGATIVE, etc with classic late 80s LA Glam/Melodic Hardrock, ending up sounding quite sensational on their 2nd CD ‘Keha’. The lyrics are in Finnish, so I will not bother you too much with songtitles, although I have to mention the songs “Uneen”, “Lasinsirpaleilla”, “Palvelija”, “Kaikki mita ma annoin” and “Kaksi Kuuva” as really sensational, almost AOR/Melodic Rock orientated pieces (a la WIG WAM/GOTTHARD, with a TEN/HIM influence in the vocal department). Definitely a band to check out asap and the fact they are on UNIVERSAL MUSIC in Finland shows they are not just another band. Together with a big sound/production, this CD is a very impressive Melodic Rock/Metal release, yet with Finnish lyrics, but still interesting if you want to hear a mix between HIM, TEN and WIG WAM, with Finnish lyrics. More info at: http://www.uniklubi.net 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

DANIEL TELIS PROJECT ‘ANGKOR’ (INDEPENDENT)

Out of Argentina comes guitarist DANIEL TELIS, who delivers a very strong instrumental classic hardrock sounding CD with his own project DANIEL TELIS PROJECT. The CD is titled ‘Angkor’ and fast of riff orientated classic hardrock will instantly love this CD. The sound is huge and for an independent released CD, it sounds very promising and could well have been released on LION MUSIC. I am not going any deeper, just saying this is a highly recommended instrumental piece to anyone into classic melodic hardrock/metal guitar orientated with lots of strong melodies, so definitely not a shredding CD release. More info at: http://www.danieltelisproject.com.ar 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

MICHAEL ORLANDO ‘SONIC STOMP’ (SONIC STOMP MUSIC)

Another strong instrumental Classic Melodic Hardrock orientated release from a guitarist called MICHAEL ORLANDO, who is an excellent musician from New York, flashing EDDIE VAN HALEN guitar licks are being spread on the CD, while the songs are straight-forward catchy instrumental melodic rockers, with opening track “Wheels in motion” being a perfect theme for a advertisement for car racing or great to play while driving in your car with a high speed on the motorway during the summer holidays… The whole CD has got a classic 80s Melodic Rock vibe, but as it is instrumental I would not compare it to a FIREHOUSE, but I guess you’ll get the picture here. This is cool stuff, which every guitarplayer simply loves, back-to-basic simple catchy melodic rock with flashy guitarwork that reminds me of JOSHUA PERAIAH here and there. One of the better instrumental releases lately! More info at: http://www.mikeorlandomusic.com and e-mail at: mikeytred@yahoo.com 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

THE DOGMA ‘BLACK ROSES’ (DRAKKAR/SONY BMG)

May I present you the latest sensation in the Melodic Metal world. We have reviewed several demos of this Italian band, but here we have their official CD release on a sublabel of SONY BMG Music, so they are on a major label and guess what? Their CD ‘Black roses’ is a monster record, a so-called Melodic Metal Masterpiece that should be put somewhere between NOCTURNAL RITES, MYSTIC PROPHECY, BLOODBOUND, EDGUY and VISION DIVINE, so typical European Melodic Metal with strong hooks and catchy choruses, while the vocals are high pitched most of the time. I was quite surprised when I had listened to the full CD, as it sounds really sensational, especially the uptempo Melodic Power Metal pieces “Queen of the damned”, “Devil’s bride” and “Waiting for the rain” as well as the midtempo “Black roses”, “… and Julia no more” and “Sands of time” are all superb melodic metal masterpieces that combine the best of KAMELOT, VISION DIVINE and EDGUY . The production is huge, the songs are all sensational and both vocally and instrumental THE DOGMA sounds like it should sound, top-notch Melodic Metal here, so better get yourself a copy asap! More info at: http://www.thedogma.net and http://www.drakkar.de 

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)

KRYSTAL MEYERS ‘KRYSTAL MEYERS’ (ESSENTIAL RECORDS/SONY BMG)

Singer/songwriter KRYSTAL MEYERS is the next girl to conquer the US radio and charts with her catchy melodic poprock which is not original at all, but it does sound like a pleasant mix between early 80s PAT BENATAR, KELLY CLARCKSON and EVANESCENCE. Her CD has been released on a sublabel of major label SONY BMG and without a doubt it is a very polished radio-ready affair what we get to hear on this rather short CD (36 minutes only). The 10 short songs are over in a flash, but nevertheless uptempo rockers like “Fire” and “Anticonformity” and midtempo pieces like “The way to begin”, “My savior” and “Fall to pieces” are very catchy and I think she is ready to attack the charts. Krystal is a young girl, however she is not fabricated in the KELLY CLARCKSON style, as she writes her own music, from a religious point of view. A girl with a bright future, although some might call her music typical teeny poprock, but it still is very nice to listen to and once again shows this kind of female fronted poprock is currently the new trend in America. More info on Krystal at: http://www.krystalmeyers.com  http://www.essentialrecords.com 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

BERNARD ‘A VIEW BEYOND THE CAVE’ (FLOODGATE RECORDS/EAST WEST)

Not that much info came with this release, but assuming BERNARD is an American band, their CD ‘A view beyond the cave’ is a very good modern sounding album that combines elements of progressive rock and modern rock, with a British sort of approach, although the melodies are much stronger than the average UK bands (meaning RADIOHEAD/COLDPLAY). Especially the songs “To those of this world”, “Blind” and “Too far” are quite pleasant midtempo rockers with strong melodies a la KEANE. I think this is one of those CDs which will be loved by the open-minded progfans out there. More info at: http://www.bernardmusic.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

EXODUS ‘A RAY OF SUNSHINE DVD’ (METAL MIND PRODUCTIONS/MUSIC VIDEO DISTRIBUTORS)

I had not heard of this band before, but they are a legendary Polish band from the late 70s/early 80s, of whom now a DVD is available, which contains 135 minutes of footage, basically informing you completely about the band. EXODUS is of course not the American Thrash Metal band, but this Polish EXODUS was playing Progressive Rock, not quite heavy, but still for the GENESIS/YES fans among us an interesting band to check out if you have not heard them before. This DVD contains a very nice concert from 1980 as well as lots of extras, such as videoclips and interviews. Definitely a DVD to own for the progfans among us. Available through: http://www.musicvideodistributors.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

PLUMB ‘CHAOTIC RESOLVE’ (CURB RECORDS)

Over here we have not heard much about PLUMB, which is a pity, because their CD ‘Chaotic resolve’ is a very impressive female fronted modern goth melodic rockalbum that has a lot of EVANESCENCE, WITHIN TEMPTATION, XANDRIA and LACUNA COIL similarities, yet the choruses are more direct and basically perfect melodic rock orientated. The band has a superstrong lead singer, TIFFANY ARBUCKLE LEE), who has an incredible voice a la AMY LEE of EVANESCENCE, but she also wrote all the songs (except a cover of MICHAEL W. SMITH) on the CD, so I guess PLUMB is her brainchild. Most of the songs are radio-ready and especially the midtempo “I can’t do this”, “Real life fairytale” (almost pure AOR), “Better” and “Good behavior” could easily become huge hits if promoted enough by the radio. This PLUMB is even better than the somewhere else reviewed KRYSTAL MEYERS, as PLUMB is very mature and like I already mentioned, this could well be the follow-up to EVANESCENCE. Worth checking out, even the AOR fans, as some songs even sound close to ALYSON AVENUE! Sensational release in the female fronted rockworld! More info at: http://www.plumbinfo.com 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

AFTER THE FIRE ‘LIVE AT GREENBELT DVD’ (ANGEL AIR RECORDS/MUSIC VIDEO DISTRIBUTORS)

Actually I had not heard a single note of the band AFTER THE FIRE before, so this was my first time I heard the band. I did not only hear it, but could also see them live, because it concerns here a DVD release of the concert they gave 2 years ago, which was their first show in 25 years, as they split up in the early 80s after releasing 3 records. They are well-known for their FALCO cover “Der Kommissar”, but this was their least interesting song, which can be heard and seen on this DVD, because they have a very nice collection of early 80s sounding Symphonic keyboard orientated Pop/Pomprockers like the catchy “Life in the city”, “Frozen rivers”, “Laser love” and “Starflight”. The footage is not really professional, as the hand camera was used, which not always looks very nice, but nevertheless it is nice to watch a well-performed concert of a band which was out of business for 25 years. The DVD gave me a nice idea how this band sounded like and also made me aware of their existence, so now I have to look for their 3 albums, which have recently been reissued on CD I believe. In the meantime, check out this DVD, which also contains intereviews and an unplugged session as a bonus, making it a 2 hours counting must-have for fans of early 80s Sympho and all fans of AFTER THE FIRE. Available through: http://www.musicvideodistributors.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

BERNIE TORME ‘STRATOCASTER GYPSY DVD’ (ANGEL AIR RECORDS/MUSIC VIDEO DISTRIBUTORS)

New DVD of guitarist BERNIE TORME, who played with GILLAN for a long time, but most of the 2 hours 20 minutes counting DVD ‘Stratocaster gypsy’ is made up from live video footage of his own projects, on which surprisingly the highlights are the clips with PHIL LEWIS on vocals (LA GUNS/GIRL frontman). Nevertheless, I think his music is a bit overrated as this is nothing but standard rock. If you’re a TORME fan, then it is of course a must-have, because there is a lot of footage on this DVD, but musically TORME was always standard rock. Available through: http://www.musicvideodistributors.com 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

JAY GRAYDON ‘PAST TO PRESENT’ (SONIC THRUST RECORDS)

Well-known AOR singer/songwriter has started releasing music he recorded way back in the 1970s and 1980s, of which this is volume 1: The 1970s. Musically JAY GRAYDON was very much into Westcoast-Pop back then, like a poppier TOTO and PLAYER, although the best comparison I can make is AIRPLAY and the DAVID FOSTER written Popballads. So the music does not rock at all, but nevertheless, the 20 included songs are nice calmer Westcoast-Pop tunes that feature the whole LA session scene from the 70s/80s (DAVID FOSTER, MARC JORDAN, MIKE BAIRD, DAVID HUNGATE, LISA DALBELLO, JEFF PORCARO). Of course a song like “Should we carry on” has CHICAGO and “After the love has gone” (EARTH, WIND and FIRE) written all over the place and sounds like if it was a huge hitsingle back in the 1970s and so we can mention many more songs in this style, so the focus is 70s popballads. I look forward to the 1980s collection of JAY GRAYDON, which should be more AOR/Rock orientated I think. The CD is available through: http://www.jaygraydon.com  and e-mail at: sonicthrustrecords@yahoo.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

BALTIMOORE ‘KALEIDOSCOPE’ (BLP MUSIC)

The Swedish band BALTIMOORE has been active for about 20 years now and it surprised me to see them leaving LION MUSIC, because their new CD ‘Kaleidoscope’ has been released on BLP MUSIC, which is BALTIMOORE’s lead singer Bjorn Lodin's own newly formed record label. Musically not that much has changed, although their previous albums saw a more groovy hardrock approach. The new CD is definitely more straight forward Classic Melodic Hardrock a la SHAKRA and GOTTHARD. In fact, this new CD of the band is their strongest in a long time. 12 tracks are included and they are over in a flash as they all sound really strong, so no time to worry about any weak spots. This new BALTIMOORE CD is therefore a must-have for fans of no-nonsense ballsy Hardrock with catchy melodic choruses and strong vocalwork. The band is already planning two further albums, scheduled for release mid October 2006 and March/April 2007. More info on their latest release ‘Kaleidoscope’ at www.baltimoore.net 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

COOL HAND LUKE ‘THE FIRES OF LIFE’ (FLOODGATE RECORDS/WORD/WEA)

Christian Rockband with a modern rock sound, although it is very melodic happily. The band has released their CD on a sublabel of WEA, so another major label act and also one which is probably quite well-known in the USA. Some of their 11 included songs contain really beautiful melodic choruses, such as “The foster”, “Rats in the cellar”, “Rest for the weary”, and “I’m not running”. The songs are mostly slow or midtempo and a bit depressive, but the melodic choruses make that up big time. This sounds like COLDPLAY with strong melodies, so modern definitely, but with a slight classic PINK FLOYD approach as well. More info at: http://www.coolhandluke.net 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

EMERGENCY GATE ‘NIGHTLY RAY’ (UNIVERSAL/THE ELECTRIC CO)

German band on the major label UNIVERSAL MUSIC label, but musically less interesting and do not get me wrong here, but this is a very average band, so I don’t have a clue why they are on this label. Their album is a mix of nu-metal and classic metal, with some rock approaches as well, kinda like DISTURBED meets METALLICA, only then at an amateuristic level. I think this first CD of the band has come much too early, because it is nothing more than a standard release, which will go unnoticed due to much better releases in the Metal scene.

(Points: 7.1 out of 10)

SHADOWS FALL ‘FALLOUT FROM THE WAR’ (CENTURY MEDIA RECORDS)

In the USA SHADOWS FALL is huge, with high chartings in the US Billboard Charts and also sales reaching 250,000 units, but what is all the fuzz about. Well, they have a new CD coming out, which musically is a nice mix of 80s US Power Metal and Thrash Metal, sounding quite aggressive, but very impressive in the guitar department. Vocally is close, but not as much screaming as in the Metalcore scene. This is clearly a modern day Thrash Metal sound, like SLAYER could have sounded in 2006. Its’ not bad, but after a while, the songs on their CD start to sound the same and then you long back to some real classic Power Metal. However, this is Thrash-Metal, with some Metalcore influences, so only for the fans of aggressive Metal.

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

CORRODED ‘HEART OF THE MACHINE’ (INDEPENDENT)

When it comes out of Sweden, we have something good on our hands, also with this CORRODED. They play American orientated modern Metal with a 70s groovy BLACK SABBATH guitar riff, ending up sounding like a mix between DISTURBED and KYUSS/QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE and some CANDLEMASS, so Doom and Stoner Rock influences are also notable. 5 songs are on their mini-CD, which was released independently. More info on the band at: http://www.corroded.se  and e-mail at: info@corroded.se 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

IZZ ‘MY RIVER FLOWS’ (DOONE RECORDS)

IZZ is a band from New York, with various lead singers and their 3rd CD is a mix of various styles as well, because it starts very modern actually, with singing through a megaphone, but then comes track 2, “Late night salvation” and we’re suddenly in classic 70s Progrock/Sympho a la YES, GENESIS, STYX… Without a doubt, we prefer this kind of style, which actually does sound quite good too and also happily can be heard throughout the rest of the CD. In total 8 songs, of which some quite lengthy, can be heard on the CD. Especially closing track “Deafening silence” is a 22 minutes counting progrock epic. Fans of ENCHANT, YES, GENESIS, KANSAS, etc. will like this IZZ a lot and I definitely recommend you to check out their site at: http://www.izznet.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem) 

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