HOT NEW REVIEWSUPDATED ON SEPTEMBER 1 - 2005

PHILIP BARDOWELL ‘IN THE CUT’ (FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

Lead singer PHILIP BARDOWELL has already sung on a couple of records, but none of them were really sensational, because it concerned records of CRISS, MAGDALEN and UNRULY CHILD. However, now it is 2005 and Philip is fed with bands and projects, so releases a solo-CD, which simply is filled with lovely 80s pure AOR. Philip has a fantastic voice and at times he sounds like LOU GRAMM and MARK FREE. Also musically his first solo-CD ‘In the cut’ follows the style of acts like 80s STARSHIP, MARK FREE’s ‘Long way from love’, FAKE ID, ALIAS, SIGNAL, STAN BUSH, which means pure AOR with strong vocalwork, catchy hooks, lovely memorable choruses, classic melodic guitarsolos and this is all packed in 10 songs written by outsiders like TOMMY DENANDER (who also played bass, guitars and keys as well as producing the CD), JIM PETERIK (responsible for 2 songs), STAN BUSH, BOBBY BARTH (of AXE), MARK SPIRO, CURT CUOMO and a few others. Philip wrote only 1 song (“She will never know”) himself, which is of course a pity, but on the other hand we now have an absolute AOR winner in our hands! One more name needs to be mentioned, because session drummer DANIEL FLORES (MIND’S EYE) took care of the drums. The CD has a good production and starts with the strong uptempo AOR/Melodic Rocker “In the cut”, followed by a couple good midtempo AOR songs a la STAN BUSH (“Through my eyes” and “Heart of a hero”). One of the first absolute highlights is the beautiful AOR ballad “I gotta believe”. Philip’s own tune “She will never know” follows and is a nice midtempo AOR song with a slightly updated sound a la last couple of BRYAN ADAMS, RICHARD MARX and BON JOVI records. Somehow the 2nd part of the CD convinved me 100%, because here we can find some absolute AOR Classics in the shape of superb songs like “Never too late for love” (an unbelievable 80s type of AOR Classic in the SIGNAL, ALIS, FAKE ID, STONE SOUP style), “It’s a long road” (amazing midtempo AOR like a mix between THE STORM and MARK FREE’s ‘Long way from love’, with even a slight SURVIVOR touch) and the beautiful AOR ballad as penned by JIM PETERIK of PRIDE OF LIONS (“Voices of the heart”). The remaining 2 songs are the LOVERBOY type of midtempo AOR pieces “One day in journey” and “Dreamin’ with my eyes open”. Concluded, this is an absolute winner for any AOR fan out there, so better get hold of this record a.s.a.p.!

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)

VOLBEAT ‘THE STRENGTH, THE SOUND, THE SONGS’ (REBEL MONSTER RECORDS/MASCOT RECORDS)

Described as a mix between ELVIS, METALLICA and LIFE OF AGONY, the Danish band VOLBEAT confronts us with their debut CD on the new sublabel of MASCOT RECORDS, REBEL MONSTER RECORDS. Main member of VOLBEAT is lead singer/guitarist MICHAEL POULSEN, who in the 90s released 4 albums with the band DOMINUS. Now his new band delivers some great strong pure Metal on their frst album, which to me actually sounds like the record METALLICA forgot to record, because this VOLBEAT CD is a very strong True Metal record with a huge old 80s METALLICA influence here and there. However, it all sounds much more melodic than anything METALLICA has done the past 15 years or so. It sometimes reminds me of the NWOBHM sound, not far from DIAMOND HEAD, but then updated for today’s standards. Just listen to a strong uptempo piece like “Always.wu” and you’ll agree with me that this is one of those strong Metal records that should easily become big if it was promoted properly. VOLBEAT actually has a sort of own sound, which should gain them as much popularity as bands like KUYSS, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, LIFE OF AGONY and ICED EARTH currently have. 15 songs are on the CD, and not a single song is weak or average, because this is a good strong Metal record from start to finish, which simply should be checked by every decent Metalfan out there!

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

BLUE TEARS ‘MAD, BAD AND DANGEROUS’ (SUNCITY RECORDS)

In 1986 BON JOVI wrote a book called ‘Slippery when wet’, which became a best-seller worldwide and would forever be regarded as the ultimate ROCK’N’ROLL record. In the following years thousands of new Rockbands followed the steps of BON JOVI in creating the same kind of formula, which was a mix of bombastic heavy rockers (for the boys), polished radio-ready AOR ballads (for the girls) and fun catchy uptempo melodic rockers to sing-a-long with (for the boys and girls). Although in the USA many of these bands received some success (SLAUGHTER, FIREHOUSE, WINGER, WARRANT, DAMN YANKEES, NELSON) the rest of the world only kept true to BON JOVI, whom until this day is regarded worldwide as the ultimate Melodic Rockband. However, one must not forget that in the late 1980s thousands of great sensational Melodic Rockbands never stood a chance in becoming as big as BON JOVI, DEF LEPPARD or EUROPE. Instantly my thoughts go to bands like LOUD’N’CLEAR, DANGER DANGER, SIC VIKKI, HEAVEN’S EDGE and also BLUE TEARS. BLUE TEARS managed to release a CD, but sadly it never got that big, so the other recordings they recorded were shelved over a decade until a new label called SUNCITY RECORDS from Australia decided to release a ‘new’ CD of BLUE TEARS with unreleased material. The CD is a mix of the aforementioned styles BON JOVI created 19 years ago on their classic, so we get to hear wonderful (semi) AOR ballads (“With you tonight”, “Evidence of love”, “Misty blue”, “Kisses in the dark”, “Midnight train” and “Russia tonight”), classy 80s fun uptempo melodic rockers (“Long way home”, “Follow your heart” and “Live it up”) and a lot of tough groovier heavy sing-a-long 80s rockers like DEF LEPPARD meets WARRANT (“Rock you to heaven”, “Mad, bad and dangerous to know”, “Everywhere I go” and “Love machine”). A very good thing to see this CD being released, because this BLUE TEARS CD contains that perfect late 80s Melodic Rocksound from New Jersey, which is the perfect mix between BON JOVI, DEF LEPPARD and DANGER DANGER. More info at: http://www.suncityrecords.com 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

MORNING ‘HOUR OF JOY’ (BLACK LOTUS RECORDS/ROCK INC)

We all know the story by now. Dutch band gets huge in Europe and every label out there signs a similar sounding Dutch band and every country delivers it’s own band in the same style. I am talking about WITHIN TEMPTATION. This Dutch band has become really huge and in a short period we have seen many new Dutch female fronted Gothic Metal bands being signed every where (examples: EPICA, AFTER FOREVER, AUTUMN) and let’s not forget all the copycats (XANDRIA, LEAVES’ EYES). Happily all these acts are actually very sensational and sometimes even better than WITHIN TEMPTATION (EPICA and AFTER FOREVER for example), but fact remains that the whole music industry has been focused on bringing new similar bands to the public, without ever reaching the success of either WITHIN TEMPTATION or NIGHTWISH (should mention them too, athough they are closer to Power Metal, while WITHIN TEMPTATION can almost be called Melodic Rock). Anyway, to make a long story short, here we have another Dutch female fronted Goth Metal band. They are called MORNING and of course their debut CD ‘Hour of joy’ on the Greek Black/Death/Power Metal label BLACK LOTUS RECORDS is high quality stuff and of course it is a must for any fan of mentioned bands, but I am afraid MORNING will go unnoticed by the big audience. Sure their CD is very good and is a nice album to check out if you’re a fan of AFTER FOREVER and WITHIN TEMPTATION, just don’t expect anything really sensational, because it is after all a nice CD to have a listen to a few times before it sadly disappears between the hundreds of similar records released each year. Remarkable to see BLACK LOTUS RECORDS releasing Gothic and Glam Metal, maybe next time AOR/Melodic Rock, the label has been exploring other music genres, a good or bad thing? Well, fans of female fronted Goth metal don’t mind, because they can enjoy another band in their genre called MORNING with a good clean quality debut CD called ‘Hour of joy’.

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

JAUGERNAUT ‘CONTRA-MANTRA’ (INDEPENDENT)

The legendary Pomprockband JAUGERNAUT makes their return with an amazing new CD titled ‘Contra-mantra’. The band around multi-instrumentalist/composer/singer JIM JOHNSTON, who basically did everything on his own on this CD, except for the guitar solos which were done by Jim Brammer and a few classical solos by Marty Prue, but actually JAUGERNAUT is now a one-man project of Jeff. On their old records, JAUGERNAUT was a pure Pomprockband and well, the new CD is a bit more a Progressive Rock journey like a mix between YES, ARC ANGEL, ARENA, AYREON and WHITESNAKE (you read that right, that’s the Hardrock connection I give this CD, because Jeff’s lead vocals are close to that of David Coverdale and besides whenever the songs get uptempo rocking it sounds a bit like early 80s WHITESNAKE and RAINBOW such as on the song “Vanity”, but don’t get me wrong here, because at first sight this is a pure Prog/Pomp release). Although I am a huge fan of the old JAUGERNAUT records, which were re-issued some time ago, this new CD ‘Contra-mantra’ might be their best work. I had heard demos a few months ago, which already indicated this was gonna be a great release. Eventually it didn’t turn out to be a 2-CD set as was stated earlier, but instead we now get 2 separate CD releases and so this ‘Contra-Mantra’ is just the beginning. It is a very promising start and comeback of JAUGERNAUT into the 21st century, because the 60 minutes of this CD go by very quickly, really making a big impression. A few songs are quite lengthy and very progressive, really a must for the YES and ARENA fans are songs like “Anthem” and “The hard way” with amazing keyboardwork. However, absolute highlights have got to be the beautiful Pomprockers “The damage is done” and “Better living thru Anarchy” which sound like the perfect mix between ARC ANGEL and SAGA. I am quite sure not only Progressive Rockfans, but also AOR/Pomp/Melodic Rockfans will enjoy this release. The combination of fantastic vocalwork (like a mix between PETER GABRIEL, ROBERT PLANT, BILLY SQUIER, JEFF CANNATA and DAVID COVERDALE), awesome instrumental backup (spacey keys and melodic twin-guitarwork) and catchy strong memorable AOR choruses (like STYX, KANSAS, ARENA and ARC ANGEL) are making this new JAUGERNAUT an absolute high quality release that should be heard by any musicfan! More info at: http://www.jaugernaut.com and e-mail at: dimbulbz@hotmail.com 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

DEMONLORD ‘HELLTRUST’ (SOURCE OF DELUGE RECORDS)

This is the first release of the German label SOURCE OF DELUGE RECORDS I am able to review. DEMONLORD hail from Hungary and their album ‘Helltrust’ is the follow-up to the successful (in Hungary!) debut CD ‘Adventures in hell’ which was released in 1999. The band is playing high quality Melodic Power Metal, which sounds like a mix between the Swedish and German Metal, not unlike EDGUY, HELLOWEEN, FALCONER, BLIND GUARDIAN, etc. Especially instrumental it sounds very impressive. In total we can find 10 songs on the CD, which has it’s highlights in “Quo Vadis?”, “Ruins in the dark”, “Still alive” and “Something arrived”. Definitely worth checking out for the die-hard traditional European Melodic Power Metal fans. More info at: http://www.sod-rec.de 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

MR. NASTY ‘AIN’T DEAD YET’ (HARDLINE RECORDS)

Here we have a high quality independent Sleazy/Rock&Roll release from a band that is coming out of New York. They were formed in the 80s, releasing an album titled ’38 caliber kisses’ in 1990 and in 1992 the independent ‘Fine art of self destruction’. 13 years it took the band to finally release a new album, but now ‘Ain’t dead yet’ is available. They mix 80s LA Sleaze/Glam with 70s UK Glam/Glitter, kinda like GUNS’N’ROSES/FASTER PUSSYCAT/LA GUNS mixing T-REX/STOOGES, ending up sounding a bit like HANOI ROCKS. The CD contains 9 tracks, including 2 covers (“Loose” by the STOOGES and “Wild world” by CAT STEVENS, but made famous many years later by MR. BIG). The production is very good and it’s enjoyable to listen to this CD, which would not be out of place between the PERRIS RECORDS releases. Check it out for yourself at: http://www.thehardline.net and e-mail them at: wattage@portjeff.net 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

CROSSBOW ‘BREAK THE ICE’ (SOURCE OF DELUGE RECORDS)

‘Break the ice’ is the 2nd album of the German band CROSSBOW. The band is playing typical 80s influenced US Prog/Power Metal that reminds me of JAG PANZER, although there are also some typical Teutonic Metal influences to be heard in the vocal work. However, I think this band will be very interesting to check out if you happen to be a fan of bands like JAG PANZER, JACKFROST, JACOBS DREAM, TITAN FORCE… 11 songs are included and most of them are filled with classic 80s metal riffs, complex songstructures and melodic vocals and memorable choruses. Definitely a CD worth checking out if you’re a fan of classic 80s US Metal. More info at: http://www.sod-rec.de 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

GOAT OF MENDES ‘A BOOK OF SHADOWS’ (SOURCE OF DELUGE RECORDS)

Instrumental this band is playing pure German Power Metal, but vocally the raw singer (a la GRAVE DIGGER) and the Black Metal screaming singer are making them sound closer to a Black Metal band than a Power Metal act. Nevertheless, their CD has a quality sound and might therefore be interesting to check out and after listening to a couple of tunes I could still label this band as a Melodic Metal act, whom just happen to feature very raw lead vocals. They sound like a cross between VENOM and ACCEPT with something added from BATHORY here and there. If this description interests you, then look no further, because GOAT OF MENDES offers it on their new album ‘A book of shadow’. More info at: http://www.sod-rec.de

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

FAR BEYOND ‘AN ANGEL’S REQUIEM’ (SOURCE OF DELUGE RECORDS)

This one-man project of German multi-instrumentalist Eugen Dodenhoft offers Black Metal on the debut CD ‘An angel’s reqiem’. Production is good and songwise this sounds like the keyboard orientated CHILDREN OF BODOM, so Melodic Black Metal is what we get to hear. Fans of this genre will absolutely love this record, which was all done by one man only! More info at: http://www.sod-rec.de 

(Points: 7.6 out of 10)

ROB SMITH ‘BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR’ (INDEPENDENT)

Here’s a quality independent CD from a multi-instrumentalist out of New Zealand. We do not review that many musicians from that country, which I hope to visit someday soon, because if ever there was a perfect country it has to be the clean and nature environment of that country. Anyway, what does Rob has to offer on his CD. Well, for the most part calmer acoustic tingled Pop/Rock that reminds me of the last couple of JOHN WAITE records, but then vocally different of course. If you’re in a relaxed mood, this CD definitely has enough nice melodic pop/rock to offer. Check it out for yourself at: http://www.geocities.com/robsmithmuso/ 

(Points: 7.6 out of 10)

TROY DONOCKLEY AND DAVE BAINBRIDGE ‘FROM SILENCE’ (OPEN SKY RECORDS)

Speaking of relaxed music! The CD of IONA members DAVE BAINBRIDGE and TROY DONOCKLEY is very calm and peaceful, like if you’re in the tropical forest or deep in the woods, hills or mountains of Wales, Scotland, Ireland or New Zealand, far away from all those human beings that normally surround us in our living areas (depending on where you live of course, but here in Europe it is very crowded!). This CD makes you escape to a peaceful world where nature is all around you. This CD contains music that is best compared to CLANNAD, ENYA, TANGERINE DREAM, yet even more calm and most of the time just based around whistles, pipes and keys. 56 minutes of peaceful instrumental music. Go check it out if you’re starting to become interested at: http://www.troydonockley.co.uk 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

KARMA DEPTH ‘RESILIENCE’ (INDEPENDENT)

A surprise from Belgium, because that’s what we can basically call the CD of KARMA DEPTH. The CD offers very strong impressive Progressive Melodic Rock that sounds symphonic, melodic and neo-progressive at the same time. Here we have a band that recalls memories of FOR ABSENT FRIENDS, CLIFFHANGER, NICE BEAVER, TIMELOCK, ENCHANT… It all reminds me so much of the early 90s SI Music label releases, so we have here a high quality release for sure. With a playing time of almost 80 minutes, divided into 7 tracks, this CD is a must-have for the Neo-prog/Symphonic freaks. Best songs are “Ask yourself”, “The price” and “Heal”, 3 very long songs with great instrumental passages and good vocalwork as well. Definitely a quality release, which should not be unnoticed. More info at: http://www.karmadepth.org

(Points: 8.4 out of 10
)

RADUZA ‘V HORE’ (INDIES RECORDS)

This female singer/accordion player is extremely popular in her home country Czech Republic, because this new album of her is one of the best selling records in that country. Musically we have something that should be described as peaceful music that combines Raduza’s voice with the accordion and an acoustic guitar. Simple basic music that somehow has found it’s home in her homecountry. Raduza sings in a few lamguages, such as Polish, French and Czech, combining various musical influences as well. It’s OK, but it has nothing to do with Pop or Rockmusic, just traditional peaceful music from the Czech Republic. More info at: http://www.indiesrec.cz 

(Points: - )

IRISH DEW ‘SANCE’ (INDIES RECORDS)

The Czech Republic based band IRISH DEW has already released a couple albums, of which ‘Sance’ is their most recent. Musically we are dealing here with a nice relaxing mix of progressive pop/rock and celtic pop/rock, kinda like a mix between CLANNAD , CAMEL, IONA and CARAVAN. It actually sounds very Irish, such as the bandname predicts. The songs are a mix of vocal songs accompanied by mainly acoustic guitar and instrumental passages that reveal the discussed prog and celtic influences. Definitely a band to check out if you’re an open-minded progfan. More info at: http://www.indiesrec.cz 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

VARIOUS ARTISTS ‘WOMEX 2004’ (INDIES RECORDS)

This compilation CD perfectly reflects what the Czech Republic based label is trying to achieve. They should not be seen as a rock or prog label, but a label that wants to focus on traditional Czech music that contains a bit of everything. It’s definitely quality music what we get to hear on their releases. Music genres that are present in their releases range from Folk, Medieval Music, Celtic, Gypsy Music and a bit Progressive Pop/Rock. The Womex 2004 CD contains 21 tracks taken from Indies Records releases. It gives you a good idea of what to expect. The most interesting acts on this CD are HRADISTAN & JIRI PAVLICA (good female singer, bit Folk/Celtic, like CLANNAD meets old Czech Folk music), RADOSOV (old European Medieval Music style), KONABOJ (by far the most interesting band on INDIES RECORDS, because this band is playing a mix of Folk and Rock, sounds like early HEART/MOSTLY AUTUMN and features a great female singer), MARACA (experimental band, raw rockstyle, CLANNAD meets NINA HAGEN), TRABAND (sort of Ska style, good singer) and DUN AN DORAS (nice Celtic band, kinda like CROWDED HOUSE meets TORI AMOS). Good compilation CD, which will introduce you to the Czech Republic label INDIES RECORDS. More info at: http://www.indiesrec.cz 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

BUDOAR STARE DAMY ’MY O VILKU’ (INDIES RECORDS)

A band from the Czech Republic that debuted in 2002. The band has a female singer and is playing nice Melodic Poprock that sounds like a mix between PAT BENATAR, 90s female fronted rock (ANOUK, ALANNIS MORISETTE) and some Folk. Best songs between the 13 included are “Namesicna” (strong chorus, uptempo rocker), “Uneste si me”, “Noc co noc” and “Tmou tmouvci”. There are also some weaker poppier tunes on the album, as well as some Slavian Medieval music. The CD comes along with 3 videos, so I am sure this all well be enough for the people in Czech Republic to buy it, but any regular fan of Female Fronted Rock may want to check out this band. More info at: http://www.indiesrec.cz 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

KATRINA JOHANSSON ‘GUITARSONGS VOLUME 1’ (MACE RECORDS)

It doesn’t happen often that a demo of a female guitarist reaches me, but the 4-track demo CDR of the American guitarist KATRINA JOHANSSON is clearly an exception to any rule there is about female guitarists. She is not only a beautiful female guitarist, but she is very sensational as well on the guitar! She shreds like you don’t hear often and could easily beat some of the male guitarists out there. I have been enjoying listening to her guitar playing, which can be heard on this demo CDR. It would not surprise me if this girl is gonna get big, she could well be the next guitar hero. Her playing sounds like a cross between JOHN PETRUCCI of DREAM THEATER and STEVE HARRIS of IRON MAIDEN, with a bit of 80s CHRIS DEGARMO of QUEENSRYCHE, so definitely not a MALMSTEEN copy here. Katrina shows she is a very talented guitarist and I do hope to see more volumes in the future of her ‘Guitarsongs’ demos. For now, e-mail her at: info@katrinaguitar.com and visit her site at: http://www.katrinaguitar.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

AETHELLIS ‘AETHELLIS’ (INDEPENDENT)

Progressive Rock from the USA, with 6 long tracks included on their independent CD. Without a doubt, it has a strong 80s Symphonic AOR touch, kinda like ASIA and KAYAK, just listen to the wonderful “Saint Augustus”. I think some songs might even be called early 80s keyboard orientated Pomprock! Nevertheless, people will call AETHELLIS a Progressive Rockband and their independent CD does sound remarkably good. The songs are very strong, catchy and still adventurous enough to keep you interested from start to finish. Like I said, it does remind me a lot of ASIA, 3, LIGHTSPEED, ROBRT BERRY, GTR... Even vocally it sounds quite good (kinda like JEFF CANNATA of ARC ANGEL). If you’re starting to become interested, then better check out their site at: http://www.aethellis.com and e-mail them at: info@aethellis.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

BURNING IN DECEMBER ‘NO WAY OUT’ (MCMUSIC INTERNATIONAL)

BURNING IN DECEMBER is a band settled in Florida. It consists of multi-instrumentalist Tim McGowan from Scotland (who has done 9 solo instrumental releases) and guitarist Kevin Schertell from Florida. Both joined hands together to create a CD called ‘No way out’ under the bandname BURNING IN DECEMBER. Musically we have good clean Progressive Melodic Rock with strong almost AOR melodies and tough 80s guitarwork (DOKKEN style), kinda like PHIL VINCENT actually, but then a bit more proggy here and there. 11 songs can be found on the CD and despite a weaker sound/production, the included music is of a very high level. It ill attract fans of classy 80s AOR/Melodic Rock definitely, because some of the melodies in the songs are straight out of the classic AOR book. I already noted a PHIL VINCENT similarity, but if we dig deep in the archives, it actually reminds me A LOT of the band GIDEON’S ARMY. If anyone out there actually remembers that band, then you will understand how BURNING IN DECEMBER sounds like. If not, take it from me, this CD is filled with high class 80s AOR/Melodic Rock with strong hooks and catchy choruses, just listen to the wonderful “It’s in our hands now”, “Midnight hunter”, “Wake up” and “Against the grain”. Other comparisons I noted are HARLAN CAGE, ASIA and STONEBOLT. I think the best thing to do is just go and check the website of the band at: http://www.burningindecember.com and e-mail them at: General@burningindecember.com 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

DEATHBOUND ‘DOOMSDAY COMFORT’ (DYNAMIC ARTS RECORDS)

Apparently the 2nd album of the Finnish band DEATHBOUND, but I am afraid this band isn’t interesting at all, because they play some of the heaviest aggressive Death Metal I have heard in my entire life.

(Points: - )

CALVARIUM ‘ASSAULTING THE DIVINE’ (DYNAMIC ARTS RECORDS)

Black Metal… ‘Nuff said…

(Points: - )

SEAR ‘BEGIN THE CELEBRATIONS OF SIN’ (DYNAMIC ARTS RECORDS)

Band from Finland… They Play Black/Death Metal… Production, sound and music is all fine, but not interesting at all for someone who is looking for a melody in their music…

(Points: - )

SMAXONE ‘REGRESSION’ (SCARLET RECORDS)

I didn’t expect much from this release, but SMAXONE’s album is actually a good strong experimental modern sounding Progressive Metal album. Comparisons to PAIN OF SALVATION are very clear, although the bio mentions a mix between FEAR FACTORY, DEVIN TOWNSEND and FAITH NO MORE. You can hear those influences, but I would rather keep it on PAIN OF SALVATIONS as best comparison, because the music is after all sometimes very melodic with catchy choruses and good clean vocals, although the band is also putting some modern metal riffs and even samples into their songs. Why didn’t I expect anything, well, SMAXONE is made up of members of MNEMIC, a very modern Nu-Metal ish band. However, with SMAXONE we get to hear some more Melodic Progressive Metal with slight Nu-Metal influences, which is best recommended to all PAIN OF SALVATION fans out there!

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

EVILDOER ‘TERROR AUDIO’ (SCARLET RECORDS)

Usually Sweden deliver us quality melodic bands when it comes to Rock and Metal, but EVILDOER is just an average Thrash Metal band with a sound close to SLAYER and therefore only interesting if you like such Brutal aggression metal with zero melody.

(Points: 6.0 out of 10)

VAN ‘I FLY’ (B&T RECORDS)

Out of Poland comes synthesizer player Barbara Zielinska Van, who delivers a nice 3 track under the moniker VAN here. The relaxing synths by Barbara are nice, the vocalwork of Alina Trefon is pretty good, the guitarplaying of Marek Gorlitz is good and even the 3 songs are nice to listen to, but what bothers me is the drum machine used in each song. This disturbs the songs and that’s a shame, because the songs are nice melodic pop/rock orientated. However, with real drums songs like “I fly” and “Free time” would have sounded better. Closing track “Grunge” is a very weird instrumental that doesn’t make any impression. More info at: http://www.van.nsa.pl and e-mail at: bvz1@interia.pl 

(Points: 6.9 out of 10)

CELLADOR ‘LEAVING ALL BEHIND’ (INDEPENDENT)

As a reviewer you’re always looking for new sensations, especially in the huge independent scene out there. One should not forget there are millions of musicians out there trying to do their best, but never getting signed to any label or whatsoever. Label releases are done each month, but in the independent scene so many demos are being made and shamefully a lot of them are unnoticed. A real pity if you consider there are some jewels in the independent scene. To make the story short, I got sent a demo CDR of an American band called CELLADOR. This demo happens to feature 4 incredible high quality sensational Melodic Power Metal songs that will wet the appetite of any Metal fan out there! The material of this CD is very impressive and actually belongs on one of the European Metal labels. First of all the band is blessed with a truly superb amazing lead singer (Michael Smith) who easily sings in the best GEOFF TATE style. Secondly, the 4 songs are all HIGH CLASS Melodic Power Metal songs with very strong memorable melodies. Imagine a mix between 80s US Metal and today’s European Melodic Power Metal, so like early QUEENSRYCHE/CRIMSON GLORY/FATES WARNING/METAL CHURCH meets EDGUY/HELLOWEEN/MAIDEN and a bit of AGENT STEEL. Also reminding me of THEOCRACY, that sensational one man US band from last year. High pitched vocals and tight upbeat songs mixed with classic 80s flashy guitarwork (which also sounds amazing, twin-guitarsound!), all packed in sensational songs like “Leaving all behind” and “Seen through time”. This could well be demo of the year 2005! No matter if you like Metal or not, these guys definitely how to play Classic Metal with strong melodies. Without a doubt, a must to check out asap at: http://www.cellador.com and e-mail them at: contact@cellador.com  

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)

DANIEL J ‘LOSING TIME’ (PROGROCK RECORDS)

DANIEL J is the son of famous Saxophone player Jaroslav Jakubovic. Daniel is a talented multi-instrumentalist as well and delivers his first CD with ‘Losing time’, on which even former DREAM THEATER keyboardplayer Jordan Rudess appear on a few songs. Musically we get to hear very heavy guitar riff orientated Progressive Metal with a sort of dark feeling. Although not all songs are impressive, the songs are all brought with a strong approach, so we can call this a high quality CD. Somehow it sounds like a mix between the vocals and melodies of KING’S X, the songstructures of DREAM THEATER and 80s METALLICA guitar riffs. This sums up what you can hear on ‘Losing time’, which actually shows an own style. The best songs between the 13 included are “Insane”, “Xited”, “The best”, “Replaced” (fantastic) and “Save me”. Songs with strong melodies, but just like the rest of the CD heavily situated around big guitar riffs. Daniel is a very talented musician, because he does not only play all instruments, but also sings, produces and wrote all the songs on his first CD, so a true one-man band we have here, although some other musicians helped him as well, such as guitarist Omer Zahavi, drummer Eugine Ventimeglia, bassist Iyasu Nagata, his father Jaroslav Jakubovic and the already mentioned Jordan Rudess on keys. Without a doubt, a quality CD to check out if you’re a Pogmetalhead!

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

GEMINI FIVE ‘BLACK: ANTHEM’ (WILD KINGDOM/SOUND POLLUTION)

GEMINI FIVE return to the scene with their 2nd CD ‘Black anthem’, which musically continues the modern Glamrocksound of their debut. However, it is a little more modern this time, but fear not because the melodic catchy choruses (a la CRUE) are still present in rockers like “When the body speaks”, “Bring on the monkey” and “Second 2 none”. In their homecountry Sweden the band is becoming quite popular and I can understand why, because their sound is catchy and still up-to-date cool Glamrock. It is clear that this is the record CRUE should have made if they ever want to make a successful album for the US market. Although I mention Glamrock all the time and the members of the band look like a bunch of late 80s LA Sunset Strip Poseurs, the music definitely is more melodic and might even attract the Melodic Hardrockfans. A song like “Heaven come undone” is a fantastic semi-ballad that sounds like a mix between BONFIRE and GOTTHARD. Or a melodic rocker like “Black anthem” has a lot of similarities to HIM. Despite a few weaker songs among the 13 included (“Love venus”). Concluded, this new GEMINI FIVE CD is a recommended piece to people who appreciate Melodic Hardrock and/or Glamrock. More info at: http://www.gemini5.net and e-mail them at: gemini5_news@hotmail.com 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

URGENT ‘OUT OF TIME’ (BRENNUS RECORDS)

The French band URGENT was discussed sometime ago when they had a demo out. Well, now they have released their first CD ‘Out of time’ on the French hardrocklabel BRENNUS RECORDS. Sound is better and we do can find 12 nice 80s influenced Melodic Hardrocksongs on their CD. Everything seems to sound well and reminding me a lot of typical German Melodic Hardrock (WILD FRONTIER, BONFIRE) with some WHITE LION influences here and there. The only thing is that the vocalwork is not that strong, but happily the harmonyvocals during the catchy choruses make that up big time, especially on great songs like “Life goes on”, “Hold on” and “What love is all about”. Some might call this CD a very cliché tingled 80s Hair Metal record with songtitles like “Hold on”, “Rock’n’roll heroes” and “The wild and the young”, but isn’t it nice there are still pure 80s focused bands out there playing catchy Melodic Hardrock. More info at: http://www.urgentmusic.com and e-mail at: contact@urgentmusic.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

MONKEY SOOP ‘MONKEY SOOP’ (SONIC WAVE RECORDS)

The Texas based band MONKEY SOOP deliver their debut and on this little record they present us with good clean quality instrumental hardrock. The CD starts rocking with some very nice shredding of the guitar. Later on the CD it gets calmer, but without a doubt we have a good instrumental rock CD to check out for people into the instrumental sounds of RUSH. More info at: http://www.sonicwaveintl.com and e-mail them at: monkeysoop@hotmail.com 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

STONEY CURTIS BAND ‘ACID BLUES EXPERIENCE’ (BLUES BUREAU INTERNATIONAL/SHRAPNEL RECORDS)

The STONEY CURTIS BAND is a Californian act formed around guitarist/vocalist STONEY CURTIS. He has been playing the clubs for 5 years now with drummer Charles Glover 2 and bassist Colby Smith. Now they have released a high quality CD, which musically grab back to the glorious 70s when Rockmusic still had to be perfectionized. This is the kind of Acid meet Blues Rock which will wet the appetite of any fan of guitar legends like ROBIN TROWER, JIMI HENDRIX… However, there’s also some Classic 70s Hardrock to be heard throughout the songs on the CD. Similarities and guitar riffs a la Y&T and UFO can also be heard on great rockers like “Free” and “World without you”. The CD was perfectly produced by MIKE VARNEY and on backing vocals we can even hear JESSE BRADMAN (a singer from the AOR scene, remember JESSE’S POWERTRIP, he even played with NIGHT RANGER!). I am quite sure Bluesrockfans will absolutely love this record, which reminds me a lot of the solo stuff of DAVE MENIKETTI (of Y&T) and also a bit JOE BONAMASSA. Go check it out asap at: http://www.StoneyCurtisBand.net 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

SHE’S CHINA ‘ODYSSEY TO MARS’ (POINT MUSIC/ROCK INC)

I remember buying a couple CDs of this German band many years ago. I actually never really listened to them, although it was said to contain catchy 80s melodic rock. The band released their first record in 1989 and have been releasing CDs ever since, making this new album ‘Odyssey to Mars’ their 6th release. It is also the first record I have played from start to finish, even impressing me a bit. The CD contains high quality Progressive Rock in a typical style which is at the moment very popular (think RPWL, FLOWER KINGS), but is actually an ode to the inventors of the style (PINK FLOYD’s 70s records. Opener and titlesong “Odyssey to Mars” for example is very close to classic 70s PINK FLOYD. On the other hand it is an awesome strong calm melodic progressive rocksong and actually the whole CD is in this relaxing style. Especially the song “Shadows on the moon” is a superb song that sounds like the perfect mix between ALAN PARSONS and PINK FLOYD and is already a Classic Rocksong even though it is a song recorded in 2005. Without a doubt, this is a high quality CD, with good vocalwork and definitely an interesting 65 minutes trip to Mars! Highly recommended to fans of KINO, PINK FLOYD, RPWL, ANYONE’S DAUGHTER, FLOWER KINGS…

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

NAKED BEGGARS ‘SPIT IT OUT’ (SMA RECORDS)

Coming soon, but this is already a sneak preview of the first CD by a new US band called NAKED BEGGARS. 3 songs are on the promo CD, which all are high quality groovy Melodic Hardrock with modern approach, but with very good strong powerful female vocals. The heavy BLACK SABBATH guitar riffs definitely make this band sound unique. I can’t wait to hear and review their full CD. More info at: http://www.nakedbeggars.net 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

OVERHEAD ‘METAEPHITOME’ (INDEPENDENT)

Here we have a band from Finland called OVERHEAD, whom for instance do not play the typical Northern European Gothic or Power Metal, but instead choose for a melodic progressive rocksound. It does remind me a lot of EVERON and MARILLION, so we get to hear calmer long songs with melodic guitars and moody vocalwork. This is definitely quality stuff, although the production could have been better. Nevertheless, songs like “Metaepitome” (19 minutes), “Point of view” and “Dawn” (16 minutes, best song) are worth checking out if you’re a dedicated progrockfan. Then better visit the band’s website at: http://www.overhead-band.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

TYRANT ‘GRIMOIRES’ (WORLD CHAOS PRODUCTIONS)

I am always surprised to receive from Japan a new album which isn’t interesting at all, because there are literally thousands melodic rock and power metal bands in the land of the rising sun, but what do we receive on our desk, a Black-Metal CD by a band called TYRANT. The fact they have keys in their sound might make them interesting for fans of CHILDREN OF BODOM, but I am afraid there’s nothing to worry about this band, which has a bandname I have seen hundreds of times in the past, so be aware you never come across the Japanese TYRANT, as they play Black-Metal. Hopefully the next Japanese CD I receive contains better material.

(Points: 2.3 out of 10)

ANGTORIA ‘DEMO’ ( DEMO)

An exceptional high quality demo release from the band ANGTORIA, whom are featuring the female vocalist SARAH JEZABEL DEVA, who has sung with THERION and CRADLE OF FILTH and now is in this new band. Further members of ANGTORIA are composers Chris Rehn (ABYSSOS) and Tommy Rehn (MOAHNI MOAHNA). Together they recorded 5 superb high quality songs that might not sound original, but are without a doubt very impressive typical female fronted Gothic Metal a la AFTER FOREVER, WITHIN TEMPTATION, XANDRIA… 2 songs are covers (SIX FEET UNDER!!! and KYLIE MINOGUE!!!!!!), but actually all included songs sound really great, all in that typical current female fronted Melodic Gothic Metal genre. I am not sure what the future plans are for ANGTORIA, but trust me when I say that this band could become huge. For now more info at: http://www.angtoria.com and e-mail at: info@angtoria.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

JACK VIPER ‘DEMO’ (DEMO CDR)

Here we have a band settled in London. JACK VIPER is playing very raw dirty mean sleazy Melodic Hardrock in the style of LA GUNS and FASTER PUSSYCAT, with some very aw Whiskey type of vocals. 3 songs are on this demo CDR, of which the best track is the catchy “Junkie queen”. More info can be found at: http://www.jackviper.com and e-mail them at: theviper@jackviper.com 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

FAT NANCY ‘PURE AMERICAN MUSCLE BABY’ (HALLLUCINATING GATOR RECORDS)

FAT NANCY is the new band of former CIRCUS OF POWER singer Alex Mitchell. The band is based in Hollywood/California and continue the musicstyle which made CIRCUS OF POWER a reasonable well-known band. 12 songs can be found on the CD, which is definitely a quality CD. You can call this style a lot of names, such as 80s Gothic Rock, late 80s/early 90s Sleazy Rock, Punkrock, 60s Garage Rock and even plain Hardrock, but let’s keep it on raw dirty mean rock and roll like a mix between ROSE TATTOO, THE CULT, BILLY IDOL, THE DAMNED, GUNS’N’ROSES and AC/DC. Other people who are familiar with CIRCUS OF POWER will call it a new CIRCUS OF POWER record, but its only called FAT NANCY now. Definitely a good record, which will please fans of mentioned bands, just listen to uptempo rockers like “Dance little Suzy” (a la GUNS’N’ROSES 1987) and “Secret love” (almost pure 1960s Garage Rock), which are quite good and might even be called catchy. More info at: http://www.fatnancy.com and e-mail them at: dude@fatnancy.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

DARK OCEAN ‘PLANET PARANOID’ (POPLINE RECORDS/COCO RECORDS/SONY MUSIC)

The German band DARK OCEAN starts their CD with the BLACK SABBATH cover “Paranoid”, which of course is a bit strange to start a CD with, especially if you know that the other 10 tracks are all own songs. Despite the opening all-time-Metal Classic cover DARK OCEAN is actually playing modest Melodic Rock with keys and a typical German sound (AXXIS/DOMAIN). The band was formed in 1999 in Australia by legendary guitarist/keyboardplayer CONNY CONRAD, who has been in the music business for over 30 years now. Besides Conny, the band is made up of fellow British musicians, among which is singer Elly Wilson, who unfortunately is not singing that strong to make the whole CD a winner. There are no really standout tracks to be found, but it’s still a nice standard Euro/German (80s) type of Melodic Rockalbum. Nice to check out if you’re into DOMAIN. More info at: http://www.coco-records.de and e-mail at: coco@arcor.de 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

INTERNAL DISFUNCTION ‘NINE FEET UNDER’ (INDEPENDENT)

I am not sure if this Italian band wants to be a Metal or a Punkband. Let’s keep it on the fact they have a sound that combines both worlds with a sort of dark Gothic meets Sleaze touch as well. Just listen to the song “Deca dance 1984”, which is pure 1980s Goth Melodic Rock (think of BILLY IDOL, THE CULT, SISTERS OF MERCY), while on the other hand “When you’re not around” is almost pure Punk! Nevertheless, its still a nice CD to check if you want to hear some various styles done properly. More info at: http://www.internaldisfunction.tk and e-mail at: internaldiscfunction666@yahoo.it 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

SERIAL KREEPERS ‘PROMO EP’ (PROMO EP)

At the moment Punky 70s Rock’n’Roll is very popular, with bands like TURBONEGRO, DANKO JONES and JET as main bands. Of course thousands of new acts are formed to follow the steps of those bands and SERIAL KEEPERS from Pescara/Italy is one of them. They sent me a 6-track demo CDR, which does sound quite nice. It sounds like a mix between earlier 70s New York Rock’n’Roll (NEW YORK DOLLS/DICTATORS/STARZ) and late 1977 UK Punk (CHELSEA, DAMNED). Sometimes more Rock’n’Roll (“California is fuckin’ far”) and at other times close to pure raw UK Punk (“No hope, no way”). I’ll even bet that fans of GUNS’N’ROSES and LA GUNS will like this band, so another band to check out if you like dirty mean 70s influenced true honest rock’n’roll. More info through e-mail at: serialkreepers77@hotmail.com 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

IVORY KNIGHT ‘UNCONSCIENCE’ (INDEPENDENT)

Here we have a Classic Metal release in the shape of the Canadian band IVORY KNIGHT’s new album ‘Unconscience’. Without a doubt, this record has all it takes in becoming a cult classic as it truly captures the melodic 80s US Power Metal sound which was made famous back then by bands like VICIOUS RUMORS, FATES WARNING, METAL CHURCH… The band sometimes is a bit more melodic and even features keys here and there. The CD was mixed and mastered by JEFF WATERS of ANNIHILATOR. That band has been friends of IVORY KNIGHT ever since they were formed in the late 80s. I have reviewed an album of IVORY KNIGHT a few years ago, but I think with this new CD the band has reached a highlight in their almost 20 year-counting career. The CD has a very strong melodic metal sound, which is missed these days a lot, because bands seem to head into either a modern aggressive metal style or go for the fast happy metal genre, although the subgenres Doom and Gothic Metal have also gained a lot of bands. IVORY KNIGHT however is one of the bands to capture the pure 80s US Power Metal sound, which was actually a heavier version of MAIDEN. Anyway, this full-length CD offers 10 high quality Melodic Metal songs, with as highlights “Borderline”, “Introspective”, “Theater of the insane” and “Waiting for tomorrow” (superb epic melodic masterpiece). Definitely a highly recommended CD to fans of Melodic Metal. More info at: http://www.ivoryknight.com and e-mail them at: info@ivoryknight.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

IL CASTELLO DI ATLANTE ‘VARIOUS CDS’ (INDEPENDENT)

Out of Italy comes the band IL CASTELLO DI ATLANTE, a Progressive Rockband which was formed in 1974, so more than 30 years ago, years before I was even born! However, this is the first time I hear and review this band and I was exposed to 4 of their albums. The albums were released through the 1990s on various labels. Musically the progressive rock of IL CASTELLO DI ATLANTE is as classic as Italian progrock has been for the past 40 years, so you can bet this band sounds like PFM, LE ORME, BANCO... Other comparisons can be made to YES, GENESIS and JETHRO TULL. The albums do not sound that much different from each other, both musically and in quality they are all 4 very impressive. The songs are long, based around a theme and with many instrumental passages, perfectly following the standards of progressive rock. I can definitely recommend the CDs of this Italian band to anyone who has his/her heart devoted to the world of Progressive Rock, especially people into Italo prog need to check out this band asap (also because everything is sung in Italian it is easier to compare them to PFM and LE ORME instead of YES and GENESIS). I think you’ll get the picture now, so better check out the band at: http://www.ilcastellodiatlante.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

DAVID VALDES ‘PARADISE LOST’ (HEAVENCROSS RECORDS)

Here we have a high quality instrumental release from a very talented Spanish guitarplayer called DAVID VALDES. 11 songs are included, on which David brings us some lovely melodic guitar orientated Progressive Metal. Although David produced the CD himself, it was mastered by none-other than DAVID CHASTAIN. Happily, he didn’t gave it the weak CHASTAIN sound, but captured David’s own style, which sounds remarkable. The CD was released a few years ago, so I’m sure David is already working on new material, but in case you’re a VINNIE MOORE type of instrumental Neo-Classical Metal fan this DAVID VALDES CD is right up your alley! Therefore do check out his website to hear and view some of David’s talented capabilities at: http://www.davidvaldes.galeon.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

THE DRIP ‘10’ (INDEPENDENT)

A band from Chicago playing pure 1970s raw dirty mean punky rock’n’roll in the style of STOOGES, HANOI ROCKS, ROSE TATTOO, LA GUNS, GUNS’N’ROSES, NEW YORK DOLLS… Although the 10 songs barely make up a playing time of 30 minutes, I think fans of mentioned bands will absolutely love this record. This is honest true in your face rock’n’roll and especially on catchy uptempo rockers like “Take a ride”, “Gotta get loose”, “Lunchbox” and “Lucky duster” it sounds very impressive. It does sound like a pure independent band, admitted, but that’s what this kind of rock’n’roll was all about in the beginning. Recommended to fans of heavy dirty mean rock’n’roll in 60s and 70s style. More info at: http://thedriprocks.com and e-mail at: info@thedriprocks.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

DIM GALL ‘ONE HORN GUITAR’ (INDEPENDENT)

He picked up a guitar in the late 80s, but this ‘One horn guitar’ CD of the Athens/Greece settled guitarist DIM GALL is the first official release. He played everything in his own, except for the drums, which were programmed by NIGEL FOXXE, another Greek musician of whom I reviewed some CDs years ago. No vocals are used, so we have an instrumental release here. 3 songs are included and they reflect a nice instrumental uptempo 80 inspired melodic rocksound (a la DOKKEN and ICON). Nothing new, but played well, straight-ahead and not too complicated, all it needs is melodic lead vocals, but that’s exactly what Dim is looking for. Email him at: dimgall@yahoo.com and visit his website at: http://www.dimgall.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

WORTH ‘THE FADING SCENE OF LIFE’ (INDEPENDENT)

Unbelievable but true, this WORTH is a Power Metal band from Algeria! I didn’t knew there were bands coming from there. On the other hand it’s a pity the band has an aggressive singer, because when the clean vocals are present (such as in the beginning of the song “Trapped between past and future”) it does sound very good. Instrumental they sound also impressive, so if they could only leave out the Death/Black metal growls next time it would sound quite sensational. Fans of a mix of melodic and aggressive Metal with (need to be said) awesome guitarwork should check out this WORTH from Algeria by e-mailing them at: Worthband2002@caramail.com 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem) 

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