HOT NEW REVIEWSUPDATED ON SEPTEMBER 1 - 2005

PEDESTRIANS OF BLUE ‘THE SECOND MONOLOGUE’ (FISHFARM RECORDS)

Mastered by Mika Jussila at the famous Mastervox studios in Finland, the new EP CD of the Norwegian band PEDESTRIANS OF BLUE is their best effort so far. Without a doubt, this is a band to keep your eyes wide open for in the near future, because they might become big. They have all it takes in order to make a stunning full-length record. For now, they have a demo and this CD out, but who knows what the future will bring. This new 3-track CD offers a super high quality mix of AOR melodic and Progressive Rock rhythms. The wonderful sound and amazing melodies in each song make this band a winner for fans of acts like ENCHANT, A.C.T., but I think any AOR or Progfan will love this band, because they bring out the best of both worlds. Definitely one of the best unsigned bands out there at the moment, so be sure to check ‘em out at: http://www.pedestriansofblue.com and e-mail them at: mail@pedestriansofblue.com 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

ZAK DANIELS AND THE O.E.S. ‘SNAKELAND’ (BIG WATER RECORDS/CAPITOL RECORDS)

The Californian band ZAK DANIELS AND THE OES is of course settled around vocalist/guitarist/songwriter ZAK DANIELS. They play raw dirty mean 70s groovy rock and roll and they actually do it that well you would think it’s a 70s record. Many similarities to AEROSMITH can be made, but also STRANGER, STARZ, TEAZE and MOXY come to mind when listening to their CD ‘Snakeland’. 11 songs are included and it’s good to see US bands playing this good old rock’n’roll style again, because a song like “Cautiously optimistic” also reveals good strong melodies which is sadly missed in most of today’s US Rockmusic. I can easily give this CD a big recommendation to fans of classic 70s orientated melodic rock’n’roll. Therefore you need to go the website of ZAK DANIELS at: http://www.zakdaniels.com and e-mail them at: info@zakdaniels.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

SERENITY ‘ENGRAVED WITHIN’ (DREAMSCAPE STUDIOS)

I wasn’t familiar with the band SERENITY until I received 2 CDs of this Austrian band. Especially their new CD ‘Engraved within’ is a fantastic Melodic Progressive Metal record, which sounds like a mix between KAMELOT, SYMPHONY X, SILENT EDGE and VANDENPLAS. The band is blessed with a superb lead singer (Georg Neuhauser) who sings as good as any of the established acts in this genre. Although this is an independent release, it sounds huge and could have been a release on any of the metal labels out there. Some of the songs are very sensational, such as “”Forever”, “Engraved within” and “Guiding light”. Their first CD ‘Starseed V.R.’ dates back to 2002 and is not as good as their new album, but still offers good melodic heavy rock. However, if you’re a fan of any of the mentioned bands be sure to check out the new CD of SERENITY, for more info go to: http://www.serenity-band.com and e-mail them at: georg.neuhauser@gmx.at 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

DWIGHT TWILLEY ‘TULSA’ (CASTLE MUSIC)

Singer/songwriter/guitarist DWIGHT TWILLEY is a musician who has been active for at least 25 years, maybe even longer. His 2000 release ‘Tulsa’ on CASTLE MUSIC passed by many rock magazines, so here’s a review anyway. The album offers good clean Classic Rock on 12 songs. The songs vary in rhythm, so you have uptempo rockers, midtempo ballads and calmer acoustic ballad. It sounds so much like the 70s you keep wondering if this is not some sort of compilation of old songs, but it truly is a new CD of Dwight. I believe he had a huge hit in the USA in the early 80s, but I am afraid this record will be unnoticed by many of the people ho bought his older records. A pity, because it contains good clean classic rock/melodic poprock (even AOR!) that should be labeled next to EDDIE MONEY, TOMMY TUTONE, DANNY WILDE and even TOM PETTY, because it sometimes also has a slight Westcoast/Middle of the road influence here and there, although it definitely rocks in classic 70s/80s style. The CD is available through: http://www.targetrecords.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

LAB ‘WHERE HEAVEN ENDS’ (SONY MUSIC/BMG)

Finland is a country that has brought us many good things the past few years. The list of new bands continues, with almost every week new interesting releases in the Rock and Metal scene. The Finnish bands are also very popular in their home native, because the charts are filled with acts like HIM, THE RASMUS, NIGHTWISH, 69 EYES, THUNDERSTONE, SONATA ARCTICA, etc. etc. Also many lesser known acts reach the Finnish national charts and this all caused an effect on the major labels in Finland, because they start signing new similar acts. For example the band LAB, whom have released a CD on SONY MUSIC/BMG MUSIC. CD was mastered at the famous Finnvox studios and musically we are dealing here with catchy radio-ready melodic gothic poprock that sounds like a female version of THE RASMUS, but also reminds me of 80s ERIKA and TONE NORUM albums. The band is built around 4 male musicians and a female singer called Ana, who reminds me of a cross between (vocally) Stevie Nicks, Kim Carnes and Susanna Hoffs. 10 songs are included and all of them could easily become big hits. The songs are not too complicated and clearly focused on a strong melodic chorus instead of endless guitar solo’s, instrumental passages and huge Gothic bombastic sounds. Instead we get to hear catchy melodic aor/poprockers, which has it’s highlights in songs like “When heaven gets dirty”, “Love like hell!” (very catchy AOR with lovely chorus, instant hitsingle, almost like THE CORRS meets ROXETTE meets TONE NORUM and BRYAN ADAMS’s ‘Reckless’ album revisited), “Raining dogs” and “Where heaven ends’. A big recommendation to the fans of radio-friendly melodic poprock/aor! Check out the site of LAB at: http://www.labplanet.net 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

PORTAL ‘ELEMENT’ (RESONANCE INDUSTRIES)

PORTAL from Canada is playing Progressive Metal with a slight US approach (read: TOOL and 90s QUEENSRYCHE), but happily they are more melodic and also taking their influences from RUSH. Actually a better comparison would be PAIN OF SALVATION, CREED or ALTER BRIDGE. They surely have the big sound of these bands as well, so it might work out well. So we have here a quality release on an independent label. Vocally I find it a bit too depressing sounding, but instrumental it all is worth it, especially if you’re a progmetal fan who is open-minded and likes the 90s QUEENSRYCHE records. Without a doubt the song ”Paradirgm” is the best song. The CD contains 7 tracks from an EP of the band, with the addition of remixes of 4 songs. More info on PORTAL can be found at: http://www.portalband.com and e-mail them at: portal@portalband.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

BROKEN VEGAS ‘2:15’ (INDEPENDENT)

Here we have a new sensation from the US of A. They are called BROKEN VEGAS and come out of Chicago. The CD they have released contains 7 tracks, which musically is a combination of traditional US Power Metal and Melodic Metal, kinda like a perfect mix between SKID ROW, EVERGREY, METAL CHURCH and NEVERMORE. The songs have big guitar riffs and truly sensational vocalwork of singer Mike Vester. Songs like “Without today”, “Drowning rose”, “Hole story” and “Fire of life” are fantastic melodic progressive heavy rocksongs. Without a doubt a sensational Chicago band that has a bright future if they continue the high quality of their mini-CD ‘2:15’. More info at: http://www.brokenvegas.net and e-mail them at: info@brokenvegas.net 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

GAMBLIN’ CREW ‘LOVEHOUNDS FROM HELL’ (INDEPENDENT)

Late 80 US Glam/Party Hardrock in the style of CRUE and POISON is what we get to hear on the 6-track CD of the German band GAMBLIN’CREW. The songs are catchy and nice to listen to, although vocally it isn’t that strong unfortunately. Nevertheless, the simple catchy rockers like “Binch dinkin’”, “She says” and “Gamblin’ville” (best song, despite the POISON – Fallen angel guitar riff) are fun to listen to and sing-a-long. It reminds me a lot of old Dutch acts like WILD RIDE, TALK DIRTY, HOT LEGS, CHICKS’N’TRICKS… if anyone remembers them, so let’s just keep it on POISON/CRUE/WHITE LION type of Glam/Party Hardrock. More info at: http://www.gamblin-crew.de and e-mail them at: management@gamblincrew.de 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

BLUE RAGE ‘BLUE RAGE’ (AKASHIC PRODUCTIONS)

The 80s type of Melodic Rock from Illinois/USA based BLUE RAGE return with a new full-length CD, which musically goes back to the 1970s/1980s melodic rocksound. A lot of similarities to REO SPEEDWAGIB come to mind, although vocally it sounds a bit different (raw and high as well). 12 songs are included and despite the fact that one of the few weaker songs opens the CD (“Every little thing”), the rest of the CD offers good clean strong melodic chorus driven AOR songs, such as “Can’t let go”, “Stars” and “War”. There’s also some biting guitarwork here and there (such as on the BLACK SABBATH orientated “Shallow” and even RAINBOW “Fantasy girl”), so in the end a good quality record that offers enough rock to please everybody. Check it out for yourself at: http://www.blueragerockband.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

PATATJE METAL ‘LIK DE LOLLY’ (INDEPENDENT)

Actually I should have made this review in Dutch, because PATATJE METAL is a Dutch band that is singing in Dutch. However, they are different than anything else I have ever heard, because they mix Classic (mostly 80s) Nederpop (Dutch music sung in Dutch) with Classic Hardrock and Metal riffs and solos (I heard riffs from EUROPE, LED ZEPPELIN, GUNS’N’ROSES, DREAM THEATER, METALLICA, BLACK SABBATH, etc, etc.) and in between some familiar tunes as well (such as the TV serie themes of A-Team, Magnum and Dynasty in the song “Even aan mijn moeder vragen”) or even singing like OZZY OSBOURNE in the beginning of “Vriendschap”). If you’re coming out of Holland and Belgium you will recognize everything, but even a foreigner will probably like this a lot, because PATATJE METAL does everything very professional. I can imagine every Dutch/Belgian will be singing a long with the songs on this CD. It’s also the first CD of the band, which contains in total 16 songs, produced very well and sounding awesome. It was a pleasure to listen to the CD, hearing so many familiar things (recalling memories of the past) and all done so perfectly. This should be huge in Holland I guess, because I haven’t enjoyed a Dutch sung CD so much since VANDALE. Every single song is a highlight, but the absolute finest moments are “Dromen zijn bedrog” (with the combination of EUROPE’s “The final countdown”), “Even aan mijn moeder vragen”, “Pa” (with METALLICA’s “Enter sandman”), “Kronenburg Park” and “Zo verdomd alleen”. It´s also very fun to read the names of the bandmembers (MARCO BORSATAN,VADER MACABRAHAM, NICO HAAT, DENNIE ANTICHRISTIAN, HET BEEST). Anyone from Holland or Belgium will already have a good laugh after reading those names. I can highly recommend this CD to anyone from Holland/Belgium, because it is a sort of best of classic Dutch Nederpop, done in a Metal version with the addition of so many other familiar themes. Awesome CD, probably one of the best Dutch releases this year! More info at: http://www.patatjemetal.com 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

TANTRUM ‘TANTRUM/RATHER BE ROCKING/BREAKING AWAY 3-CD PACKAGE’ (ESCAPE MUSIC)

ESCAPE MUSIC is known for doing some of the best re-issues in digipack versions. One of their best releases was the 3-CD package release of SUGARCREEK sometime ago. Now they have another absolute winner, which could well be the best re-issue of 2005! I am talking about the band TANTRUM, of which ESCAPE MUSIC has now released a 2-CD set containing everything this band recorded in their short career. In the 1970s they released 2 albums, of which ‘Rather be rockin’ is considered to be an absolute classic in the female rock/aor/hardrockworld. Their 3rd album ‘Breaking away’ was never released, but also find it’s way on this release (and this is of course a very nice thing to hear for people who have been waiting 25 years for this album to finally be released). This is the first time any of TANTRUM’s recordings is being released onto CD, and with 3 full albums included here definitely a must-have for any aor/melodic rock/hardrockfan. The material of TANTRUM was very high quality late 70s orientated like a mix of AOR melodies (of HEART), 70s Hardrock (LED ZEPPELIN/KISS) and some soulful vocals/harmonies). Many people will call TANTRUM a pure HEART type of band, but big difference is that TANTRUM had 3 (!) female lead singers, who all sang fantastic (alone and together). It’s a pleasure for any fan of female fronted rock/aor/hardrock to check out this fantastic release, which contains a total of 30 TANTRUM songs. Although the first album ‘Tantrum’ and the unreleased 3rd album ‘Breaking away’ are very nice strong albums, the absolute winner here is the 2nd TANTRUM album ‘Rather be rockin’ from 1979 which is an absolute classic! This album featured some of the best female fronted rock ever recorded, which can best be heard on superb rockers like “Rather be rockin’”, “Don’t turn me off”, “Runnin’”, “You are the world”, “Sammy and Susie” and “Applaud the winner”. If there ever was an album that should have been big it should have been ‘Rather be rockin’. Happily it now gets a second chance in the shape of the 2-CD set of ESCAPE MUSIC, so better get yourself a copy asap!

(Points: 9.0 out of 10) – Tantrum: 8.3 / Rather be rockin’ : 9.3 / Breaking away: 8.9 and the total points given to this release receives extra bonuspoints for packaging which includes all lyrics, deluxe digipack, pictures and album covers) –

JADED HEART ‘HELLUVA TIME’ (FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

JADED HEART without MICHAEL BORMANN on vocals? Is that possible, because after all JADED HEART = MICHAEL BORMANN. Well, fact is that there is now a new CD b JADED HEART, which doesn’t feature singer/songwriter MICHAEL BORMANN. Of course a disappoint, because he was basically the man behind this great band from Germany. It didn’t influence FRONTIERS RECORDS, because they released the new JSDED HEART, which now features as lead singer JOHAN FAHLBERG of SCUDIERO, a Swedish Melodic Hardrockband. Musically not that much has changed, but Johan has a different voice, sounding more like DON DOKKEN instead of the BON JOVI type of vocals of Michael. Although I was a little unsure and this CD should actually have been released under a different bandname, it still offers some great quality Swedish type of catchy melodic rock. The band seems to sound a little heavier, but still is able to write some great catchy songs like “Somewhere”, “Dreams you’ll never see” and “Shores of paradise”. Of course JADED HEART’s earlier records offered much better awesome Melodic Hardrock and then this new album doesn’t make any sense with a new singer in the first place, BUT it still is a great high quality Melodic Hardrockalbum, recommended to fans of DOKKEN, FIREHOUSE, TREAT, EUROPE, DALTON, DAVINCI, SNAKES IN PARADISE…

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

KICK AXE ‘ROCK THE WORLD’ (MTM CLASSIX/SUBURBAN)

Another release in the MTM CLASSIX series. This time a legendary cult Hardrockalbum from the 80s of the Canadian band KICK AXE. Without a doubt, it’s a shame this album of them was only praised in the underground scene, because ‘Rock the world’ is a fantastic Melodic Hardrockalbum with Progressive Metal influences, kinda like a mix between DOKKEN, RUSH and TRIUMPH. The 10 original tracks of the 1980s record have carefully been remastered and re-issued onto CD by MTM, with the addition of a bonustrack (cover of the MOTHER’S FINEST classic “Piece of the action”). Songs like “Rock the world”, the FLEETWOOD MAC cover “The chain”, “Devachan”, “We still remember”, “Medusa”, “The dark crusade” and “Magic man” are all timeless Progressive Hardrocksongs with very strong memorable choruses. KICK AXE had an own style, which on this album had it’s finest moments, so be sure to check out this re-issue CD.

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

XCARNATION ‘GROUNDED’ (FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

FRONTIERS RECORDS is definitely one of the best labels out there, but also this label has sometimes releases which raises your eyebrows. XCARNATION might see KIP WINGER and other WINGER members cooperate with XCARNATION founder CENK EROGLU (a Turkish multi-instrumenalist), but the album created is a very experimental record which will not attract any AOR/Melodic Rockfan. Compare this album to MIDNIGHT or a weaker KING’S X, with a lot of Turkish Traditional Music and Drumbeats, so I am afraid this will be FRONTIERS weakest effort ever (of their total of 258 releases so far). An album you possibly can not get into, even after playing it hundreds of times, but not a progressive masterpiece at all like the label sheets wants us to believe. A strange experimenal record which will not make it if compared to the wonderful other FRONTIERS releases of the months July-September (JOURNEY, ALLEN/LANDE, ALIEN, PHILIP BARDOWELL).

(Points: 4.9 out of 10)

KRAGENS ‘SEEDS OF PAIN’ (LOCOMOTIVE MUSIC/ROCK INC)

KRAGENS is a French band and they mix aggressive Thrash Metal with Melodic Metal, ending up sounding like NEVERMORE sometimes, yet during the choruses maybe even more melodic (even like VANDENPLAS in a song like “I choo to die”). Although at first sight this band sounded like a standard Thrash Metal band, they threw in enough outside influences to keep me interested all the way. There were even some very good songs on their CD, so if you happen to like NEVERMORE this might well be up your alley. Also production is good, so better check it out if you’re interested…

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

ANUBIS GATE ‘A PERFECT FOREVER’ (LOCOMOTIVE MUSIC/ROCK INC)

2nd CD of the band ANUBIS GATE from Denmark. Musically no changes and it actually sounds pretty good. It reminds me a bit of a Progressive Metal version of ASTRAL DOORS, yet with some more Neo-Classical influences, but vocally it is quite similar. 10 songs are on the new CD, which sounds huge, thanks to an awesome production. Without a doubt, this is a high quality record, which will please all fans of Melodic Metal – Progressive Metal and Neo-Classical Metal, maybe nothing new, but still very impressive at times. It was hard to find real highlights, because each song is actually very good, so from start to finish we have here a really nice CD to check out. After a lot of average releases on LOCOMOTIVE MUSIC, they finally have a really good CD, although not as sensational as for example other Dannish bands like ROYAL HUNT or PRETTY MAIDS. Still if you enjoyed a band like WUTHERING HEIGHTS, you will need to check out this release as well.

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

TRIBUZY ‘EXECUTION’ (LOCOMOTIVE MUSIC/ROCK INC)

This year we have not seen many good releases from LOCOMOTIVE MUSIC, but this month is clearly an exception to the rule, because with TRIBUZY they have a superb Melodic (Power) Metal record on their release schedule. The band is based around Thoten singer Renato Tribuzy, who is the driving force behind ‘Execution’. Most of the material on the record was written by ANGRA guitar player Kiko Loureiro and Chris Dale (BRUCE DICKINSON). Backing vocals include Bruce Dickinson (“Beast In The Light”), Michael Kiske (“Absolution”) and Matt Sinner (“Nature Of Evil”) and with the production help from such great knob twiddlers like Roy Z, Achim Köhler and Dennis Ward, this CD is definitely a must-have for anyone who has a heart dedicated to True Melodic Metal. Especially uptempo songs like “Forgotten time”, “Web of life” (a la HELLOWEEN), “The attempt” and the progressive epic “Absolution” are lovely tunes that are sounding like MAIDEN sounded during the mid-late 80s (Somewhere in time/Seventh son/Powerslave period). This is by far a very impressive record that combines Brazilian musicianship with European class, resulting in a sensational Melodic Metal record. Must to own if MAIDEN, HELLOWEEN and ANGRA are your favourite bands!

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

FOREVER SLAVE ‘ALICE’S INFERNO’ (ARMAGEDDON MUSIC/ROCK INC)

Absolutely zero originality is what I can say about the release of FOREVER SLAVE, a Spanish band whom are playing your typical current female fronted Gothic Metal (with some male grunts), which is sounding like a copy of LEAVES’ EYES. You don’t hear me saying this is bad, because it definitely is good and without a doubt another quality CD, but in a world where there are thousands of WITHIN TEMPTATIONs, EVANESCENCEs, AFTER FOREVERs and NIGHTWISH’s, there is no room left for FOREVER SLAVE at the moment. Especially if you are familiar with LEAVES’ EYES, then this Spanish band will not bring you anything new. On a positive note I can once again inform you ‘Alice’s inferno’ I another good quality female fronted melodic Gothic Metal release of which we have had so many the past few years…

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

BRIDES OF DESTRUCTION ‘RUNAWAY BRIDES’ (MASCOT RECORDS)

All-star band BRIDES OF DESTRUCTION return with their new CD ‘Runaway brides’, which is definitely a very strong effort, putting the band musically next to VELVET REVOLVER. The Brides main members, TRACII GUNS and NIKKI SIXX bring out the best of 30 years US Rock’n’Roll, because we can hear a mix of 70s groovy Hardrock, 80s Glam Metal and current Heavy Rock influences, ending up sounding like a mix between KISS, BLACK SABBATH, LED ZEPPELIN, AEROSMITH, GUNS’N’ROSES, LA GUNS and a little bit of SEX PISTOLS. 13 songs are included on the CD, which was produced by ANDY JOHNS (FREE, STONES, ZEPPELIN). The band is really diverse, because sometimes it’s like you’re listening to a classic hardrockband of the 1970s (such as the ZEPPELIN/AEROSMITH type of song “Criminal”), while at other times you’re taken right back to 2005 Rock’n’Roll as raw it nowadays sounds like (“Lord of the mind”), but a certain similarity to GUNS’N’ROSES and VELVET REVOLVER is also very clear here and there (“Deadman’s ruin”). Best songs are “This time around” (strong melodic chorus mixed with groovy heavy BLACK SABBATH riffs), “Never say never” (another mix of heavy groovy riffs and a classic melodic 80s chorus straight out of the big late 80s LA METAL BOOK, like SLAUGHTER meets BRITNY FOX!!!), the pure 80s rocker “Tunnel of love” and the semi-ballad/rocker “Porcelain queen” (the best song AEROSMITH didn’t record the past 15 years). A remarkable strong release and definitely one to check out if you’re into any of the mentioned bands. Especially highly recommended to fans of GUNS’N’ROSES and VELVET REVOLVER!

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST ‘LIVE’ (ECLECTIC DISCS)

Originally released in 1974, but now re-issued onto CD by ECLECTIC DISCS, the live album of legendary UK progsters BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST. Although the band reached a large cult following, they never got as big as YES, ELP and GENESIS, although musically BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST combined the best of those 3 bands, so we can enjoy on this live recording some great Symphonic Rock. Some of the songs are very melodic, close to Pomprock, such as the wonderful “Crazy city”. This live CD showed a very strong band that played Symphonic Rock like only the British are able to do. I wonder what more re-issues we can expect on ECLECTIC DISCS, because this live CD is already a must-have for any Prog/Symphofan out there!

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

EVENRUDE ‘ONE SIZE FITS ALL’ (MTM CLASSIX)

Singer/Songwriter OLE EVENRUDE from Norway is very popular in his home native, but also in the melodic rockworld he is a familiar name. One of his songs, also included on this CD, “X-ray specs” made him very popular, as this song was covered many times (even by THE SWEET). Anyway, MTM CLASSIX re-issued one of his 80s releases onto CD. It is the album ‘One size fits all’, a nice melodic rockalbum that sounds like a cross between BILLY IDOL, ALICE COOPER and THE SWEET, but it certainly is not a classic. Nevertheless, it was hard to get, so this re-issue makes sense after all, because now you don’t have to pay big bucks for the original release. The rocksongs are easy to remember and sing-a-long, such as “X-Ray specs”, “Still in love with you”, “Home sweet home” and “Desperado”. People who miss the days of DESMOND CHILD need to check out this re-issue of EVENRUDE’s mid 80s record ‘One size fits all’, which comes along with 4 unreleased bonustracks, but don’t expect any classic tunes on here or it should be that hitsong “X-Ray specs” which sounds so much like BILLY IDOL singing an 80s DESMOND CHILD written ALICE COOPER uptempo rocker!

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

RICHARD ANDERSSON ‘THE ULTIMATE ANDERSSON COLLECTION’ (METAL HEAVEN)

Keyboardplayer RICHARD ANDERSSON from Sweden is known for it’s fantastic Neo-Classical Melodic Metal releases, such as MAJESTIC, SPACE ODYSSEY and TIME REQUIEM, with whom he delivered some awesome albums. Now we have a best of release on METAL HEAVEN, the Metal sublabel of AOR HEAVEN. Included are 10 songs taken from the man’s previous bands and projects, but it still is a very interesting release, because everything was re-recorded with a new lead singer, namely the fantastic GORAN EDMAN, one of Sweden’s best lead singers, so therefore this release is something worth checking out. With Goran on vocals, it is an enjoyable CD filled with high class Melodic Neo-Classical Metal like a mix between MALMSTEEN, ROYAL HUNT and STRATOVARIUS. Most notable songs are the fantastic MAJESTIC tunes “Confusicus”, “Black moon rising”, “The rapture of Canaan” and “Voodoo treasure” and the SPACE ODYSSEY song “Emposium”. With 5 MAJESTIC tunes, this best of release is mostly focused on that former band of Richard, but like I already mentioned everything was re-recorded with new singer Goran, so therefore a must to check out for any Neo-Classical Melodic Metalfan!

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

DAY ELEVEN ‘ALMOST OVER EVERYTHING’ (GBFAM RECORDS)

A surprise from Finland or not? Well, DAY ELEVEN is another band that has a typical Finnish Melodic Gothic Rock/Metalsound a la HIM, but they sound a little different, even some memories of HAREM SCAREM. This might be called Goth Rock, but I would rather call DAY ELEVEN a pure Melodic Rockband. Their latest CD ‘Almost over everything’ is a very strong pure Melodic Rock affair. Most of the songs are uptempo and very catchy, but between the 11 included tracks are also some more darker midtempo orientated pieces. However, songs like “Spit back”, “Lost my love” and “Like Lemass” are very catchy melodic rockers that will definitely appeal to the HAREM SCAREM fans out there as much as it will attract HIM fans! Why not check out this band for yourself at: http://www.day-eleven.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

MALICE IN WONDERLAND ‘MALICE IN WONDERLAND’ (KARISMA RECORDS)

Scandinavia deliver awesome new records almost every week and now it is time to introduce the Norwegian act MALICE IN WONDERLAND. Their debut CD is filled with superb catchy Melodic Rock with slight Goth Rock approach. This band could well be the next HIM or THE RASMUS to have their breakthrough. It would not surprise me because the 10 songs on their first CD are very catchy. Superb melodies combined with a strong instrumental backup and a fantastic lead singer called Chris Wicked (who even beats the HIM and THA RASMUS singers) this MALICE IN WONDERLAND is a band to watch out for very carefully. With the right promotion they could become superstars. Songs like “Lucifer’s town”, “Devil dance” (lovely!), “Perfect drug”, “Heartache boulevard” and “Red rose suicide” are all very strong catchy uptempo melodic rockers. Be sure to check out this band at: http://www.malice-in-wonderland.com 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

SIN ‘EQUILIBRIUM’ (METAL HEAVEN)

Melodic Rockers SIN return with the new CD ‘Equilibrium’. Musically no drastic changes, although maybe a bit heavier and less catchier sometimes, but still there is some great Melodic Hardrock to be heard on their 2nd CD. We get to hear a mix of big guitar riffs and melodic hardrock choruses, kinda like the 2nd HAREM SCAREM classic ‘Mood swings’ and SHAKRA. Songs like the midtempo “It’s forever”, “The reason” and “Walk away” are very strong, but the absolute winners are the SUPERB Melodic Hardrocksongs “Nightwinds” and “Winding road”, both featuring lovely catchy choruses and lifting up this CD to much higher levels. Remarkable to see that the best songs can be found towards the end of the CD, because the beginning of the record was just o.k., but far from sensational. However, the last couple of songs are very sensational, so in the end I can recommend this CD to all Melodic Hardrockfans, especially fans of SHAKRA, GOTTHARD and HAREM SCAREM.

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

GYPSY ROSE ‘GYPSY ROSE’ (ESCAPE MUSIC)

Not to be confused with a couple of other same named bands from the 80s, because this GYPSY ROSE hail from Sweden and they released their debut CD on ESCAPE MUSIC. Although many Swedish bands sound sensational and most of the time feature great melodic singers, GYPSY ROSE here have a slightly weaker singer. Musically we are in catchy 80s American Melodic Rock that sounds like BONFIRE and WHITE LION. 12 songs are included and although it sounds nice and all, nothing really sensational comes out of this recording. Songs like “When you leave at night”, “You are the one”, “Queen of the night” and “Light up my way” might be great Melodic Hardrocksongs to check out if you’re a die-hard BONFIRE/WHITE LION fan, but still the full CD should not be considered as a real sensational release.

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

NIDINGR/TAAKE/MALSAIN ‘SORROW INFINTE AND DARKNESS/DOEDSKVAD/THEY NEVER DIE’ (KARISMA RECORDS)

3 released filled with Black Metal from Norway, so not interesting, Hopefully next time more releases in the style of KARISMA RECORDS finest release so far: MALICE IN WONDERLAND…

(Points: - )

JUGLANS REGIA ‘CONTROLUCE’ (PLANETA MUSICA)

The Italian band JUGLANS REGIA was formed in the early 90s, but they have just recently released their official 2nd CD ‘Controluce’. Musically they play Progressive Rock with a Metal touch here and there in the guitarsound. The band has a good singer and the 6 tracks on their new CD sound very professional. Sometimes the band takes a step away from the progressive side and just play straight-ahead melodic heavy rock, such as on the great track “Il vento”, a song which takes up to 12 minutes without being a real progressive song. Nice band to check out at: http://www.juglansregia.com and e-mail them at: max@juglansregia.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

WINTERSTRAIN ‘RETURN TO THE MIRROR PROMO CDR’ (INDEPENDENT)

It’s a shame this Norwegian band only has a promo CDR out yet, because I can’t wait until their debut CD Return to the mirror’ will be released. Reason is that the 3 songs on this promo sound awesome, very professional and mixing the best elements of Progressive Rock and 80s AOR, kinda like JOURNEY early 80s meets RUSH/DREAM THEATER/ARENA. The choruses are very strong, instrumental it is unbelievably strong and well, basically everything sounds impressive concerning WINTERSTRAIN. The band was formed in 1989, but ‘Return to the mirror’ will be their first full-length CD. I hope they are able to release it soon, so we can inform you if the rest of the CD will be along the same lines as this promo. TONY MILLS of SHY will sing backing vocals on the CD, so that is already something to keep your eyes open for. For this moment, more info on WINTERSTRAIN go to: http://www.winterstrain.com and email them at: nyland@winterstrain.com 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

BOGART’S TOUCH ‘THEODORA’ (INDEPENDENT)

The French Melodic Rockband BOGART’S TOUCH returns with a new CD, which has been released independently. The CD contains 11 new tracks and is quite well produced for an independent release. The beginning of the CD reveals a melodic heavy rockstyle which sounds a lot like SKID ROW, but as the CD develops we get to hear a slightly different better rockstyle. Somehow the CD turns more into an updated Gothic Melodic Rocksound later on the CD, especially on great catchy tunes like “Love U inside”, “Poisoned love” and “Inside”. These are very impressive uptempo melodic rockers with a sort of darker Gothic feel, which is shown in the lead vocals which then more sound like HIM, THE CULT or BILLY IDOL, which is a good thing, because the lead vocalist seems to be more at place when singing in this lower vocal range. So in between SKID ROW kinda heavy rockers like “It brings U down”, “69 reasons” and “Beauf” we can find some great catchy Gothic like Melodic Rock. With the exception of a few weaker songs (“From the cradle to the grave” and “Woman child”), this CD offers enough diversity to make it listenable from start to finish and still offer some great material here and there. More info on BOGART’S TOUCH at: http://www.recordinc.com or www.myspace.com/bogartstouch/ and e-mail them at: contact@vl73-records.com or Nickkersey@free.fr 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

DAYDREAMER ‘DEMO’ (DEMO)

The band DAYDREAMER comes out of Switzerland and present on their demo 4 quality Melodic Hardrocksongs. They do not sound like another GOTTHARD wannabee, but instead have chosen for a much heavier bigger Melodic Heavy Rocksound, kinda like AXXIS, only better. In fact, the 4 songs presented here are really impressive and show that this DAYDREAMER could be a band to watch out for in the near future. Especially the catchy “Race against the wind”, which has 80s guitar riffs written all over the place, is a very strong uptempo Melodic Heavy Rocksong. Better check out this band for yourself at: http://www.daydreamer-band.ch and e-mail them at: management@daydreamer-band.ch 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

SLUNT ‘GET A LOAD OF THIS’ (REPOSSESSION RECORDS)

Out of New York comes SLUNT, a great new 2 male/2 female member band that pulls out classic New York type of Rock’n’Roll. The best comparisons I can come up with are THE DONNAS, LITA FORD, JOAN JETT, THE RUNAWAYS, GIRLSCHOOL, but then a bit tougher and meaner, almost like CYCLE SLUTS FROM HELL if anyone remembers them? On the other hand with the 2 male and 2 female members in the band a comparison to MADAM X (‘We reserve the right’ was their 80s album which featured SKID ROW and VIXEN members) is also not out of place here. Anyway, what is clear is the fact that this SLUNT is an awesome band with 2 beautiful ladies in their line-up, who can really rock and sing. ‘Get a load of this’ is their debut and songs like “Ok Ok”, “All that I’ve got”, “Loved by you”, “Never say never” (a cover, but a very catchy tune), “The best thing” (hello THE DONNAS) and closing track “Cliché Rock N Roll Party Song” are instant winners for fans of mentioned bands. This is what Rock’n’Roll was all about some 25 years ago, sounding mean and raw, edgy and still melodic. The most melodic song is definitely the awesome “Waiting for you”, which has a superb chorus like the old LITA FORD. This is a very strong tight record that offer high quality female fronted Rock’n’Roll in the best THE DONNAS, GIRLSCHOOL, LITA FORD, THE RUNAWAYS tradition and was mastered by GEORGE MARINO at the famous Sterling Sound Studios in New York, so better check it out asap at: http://www.slunt.net and e-mail at: nik@workhardpr.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

PLACE VENDOME ‘PLACE VENDOME’ (FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

2005 marks the return of German lead singer MICHAEL KISKE, not with HELLOWEEN, but with a new project for which he works together with PINK CEAM 69 members, which makes this a very weird situation, because 10 years ago Michael left HELLOWEEN and was replace by Andy Deris, who had been the lead singer for PINK CREAM 69 for almost 10 years, so in the end you can say they switched lead singers in 2005. Nevertheless, this is not PINK CREAM 69, but a new project called PLACE VENDOME, which besides Michael on lead vocals also features PINK CREAM 69 members Dennis Ward (bass and production), Kosta Zafiriou (drums), Uwe Reitenauer (guitars) and Gunter Werno of VANDENPLAS on keys. Together they have created something different than the HELLOWEEN and PINK CREAM 69 stuff, because PLACE VENDOME offers high quality AOR/Melodic Rock that sounds like a mix between TEN, FAIR WARNING, GIANT and the first TYKETTO classic ‘Don’t come easy’. The result is a very impressive first PLACE VENDOME album, which has it’s highlights in the songs “I will be waiting” (superb midtempo AOR/Melodic Rock like GIANT meets TEN), “Place vendome” (lovely uptempo AOR/Melodic Rock a la TYKETTO), “Right here” (another wonderful midtempo AOR/Melodic Rocksong) and the melodic rockers “Too late”, “The setting sun” and “I will be gone”. Concluded, it seems that the months September and October will be very exciting months for FRONTIERS, as the label has put out some of the best 2005 releases in these months, because besides JOURNEY, ALLEN/LANDE, ALIEN, PHILIP BARDOWELL, also this PLACE VENDOME is a must-have for the Melodic Rockfan!

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)

BALLBREAKER ‘HANGMANS TREE’ (INDEPENDENT)

The New York based band BALLBREAKER started as a AC/DC tribute band 10 years ago, but with their 2nd full length CD they have recorded 7 own songs and 1 cover (“Fight for your right” of the BEASTIE BOYS). The material of BALLBREAKER is basically pure AC/DC, although you can also compare them to BRITNY FOX, DIRTY LOOKS and KROKUS. This is Hardrock the way it was supposed to sound, straight-ahead raw and mean dirty rock’n’roll. Songs like “Burn the sky”, “When the hammer comes down”, “Little misunderstood” and “Freakenstein” are Partyrockers in the best AC/DC, KROKUS and DIRTY LOOKS style. Better check out this band at: http://www.ballbreaker.net and e-mail them at: edspock@hotmail.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

7TH HEAVEN ‘LIVE AT DURTY NELLIES DVD’ (NTD RECORDS)

The US band 7TH HEAVEN has been becoming quite popular in some parts of the USA, but here in Europe not many people have heard of them, which is a pity, because they play awesome 80s Melodic Rock. They sound like the next DEF LEPPARD, but much better than anything the LEP boys have released after ‘Adrenalize’. In fact this band could well become a major success in the USA, because their music sounds very catchy and radio-ready. They proof that 80s guitar riffs (a la DOKKEN/DEF LEPPARD) are still cool to do and they mix it with an updated poprock approach and catchy melodic choruses (a la DEF LEPPARD/BRYAN ADAMS). So far the band has released a 2-CD set with all own original material, of which 14 tracks have been taken and put out as a live CD + DVD. The recording took place at a place called Durty Nellies in Illinois, USA. The sound and filming is very good, showing a band that is able to play a really great live show. Most of the songs are catchy midtempo melodic rockers with the notable DEF LEPPARD harmonyvocals during the choruses. The DVD also shows that this band has a huge following, as the audience really seems to know each and every song. With this DVD out, 7TH HEAVEN should be able to get some more attention and I wonder how long it must take before this band is signed by one of the European melodic rocklabels. More info at: http://www.7thheavenband.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

THE SUPERBEES ‘HIGH VOLUME’ (ACETATE RECORDS)

Nice to know there are still bands out there playing pure 60s Garage Rock. For example THE SUPERBEES from California, a band that sounds like a cross between 60s THE WHO, STONES and KINKS on their album ‘High volume’. The CD contains 10 strong short songs that take up just over 30 minutes, but nevertheless truly rocks in original 60s Garage Rock. A song like “”Got this feeling” is a fantastic 1960s Garage Rocksong that could well have been lifted from a 1965 released album of THE WHO, MC5 or THE KINKS. Nevertheless, this is 2005 and we are listening to a new US band called THE SUPERBEES, which is really great of course. The band also adds some cool 70s New York Rock’n’Roll influences here and there, such as the NEW YORK DOLLS, KISS and STARZ (a lot!) type of rockers “Girl from K.C.”, “Do you understand” and “Move me”, basically all included songs are strong rockers. I’ll bet if this was 1965, THE SUPERBEES would have become superstars, but we are 40 years later, however they still sound like they could become the next JET or THE WHITE STRIPES in this Rock’n’Roll Business. Their CD ‘High volume’ is showing that we should keep our eyes open for THE SUPERBEES in the next few years. More info at: http://www.acetate.com

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

NINE POUND HAMMER ‘MULEBITE DELUXE/KENTUCK BREAKDOWN’ (ACETATE RECORDS)

Dirty mean Rock’n’Roll, close to raw Punk Rock, like THE BUSINESS or SHAM 69 doing MOTORHEAD kinda material, that’s what this NINE POUND HAMMER from America is bringing us on the 2 CDs I received of them. Both discs are filled with quality material, packed in a big production and some great sing-a-long Rock’n’Roll/Punksongs like “Ain’t nothin’ to do”, “Headbangin’ stockboy”, “Dead flowers”, “The way it is”, “Dead dog highway” and “Ain’t hurtin’ nobody”. The band also has added some slight Southern US Country influences in their songs, which becomes clear in the vocals, which sound very Texas/Nashville orientated. The band even covered the ultimate Dutch Rock Classic “Radar love”, so there’s something to be proud of as a Dutchman! If you like your Punk/R’n’R raw and nasty, then better check out the 2 albums of NINE POUND HAMMER. More info at: http://www.acetate.com

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

DRAGBEAT ‘PURE DIRT’ (ACETATE RECORDS)

At first sight this female fronted US band sounds like another Classic Rock’n’Roll band, but the big difference with a band like THE DONNAS is the fact that DRAGBEAT has added Trumpets/Saxophones as an extra dimension to their music. This might sound interesting, but sometimes it gets a bit annoying, which is a pity, because we can hear some great strong tight Rock’n’Roll among the 12 songs included, such as on “Tongue tied”, “Close”, “Needle missed the vein” and “Tattooed love boys”. Sounding like GIRLSCHOOL and THE DONNAS, but with a Sax/Trumpet and therefore a mix of good old Rock’n‘Roll and Ska music. Interesting parties should check their label’s site at: http://www.acetate.com

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

ALIEN ‘DARK EYES’ (FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

The legendary Swedish AOR band released a very successful debut CD 17 years ago on VIRGIN RECORDS, which became huge in Sweden and later in Japan, but not long after it’s release their original lead singer JIM JIDHED went his own way (releasing a couple of great solo CDs). In the following decade ALIEN released a lot more records, in different line-ups and never as successful as that debut record from 1988. Recently JIM JIDHED returned to ALIEN, to work again with original member TONY BORG (guitarist) on new material. The result is the new ALIEN CD ‘Dark eyes’, which is about to be released on FRONTIERS RECORDS. Musically we get to hear classic 80s AOR mixed with THIN LIZZY like twin-guitars and some RAINBOW influences as well. What is clear that this might well be the 2nd best ALIEN record ever, beause there are some winners on this CD. You have a mix of superb semi AOR ballads (“Oh Sarah”, “Sherylee”), great catchy uptempo AOR/Poprockers (“Dark eyes”, “Fallen eagle”, “Don’t fight it” and “Fire”) and a couple nice groovy hardrocksongs (“Don’t go away”, “Lethal woman” and “Wild one”). Especially the songs “Oh Sarah” and “Sherylee” are really beautiful and are already high on my list of new Classic AOR tunes, because basically this is 80s AOR revisited. The mix of groovy rockers, ballads and fun uptempo AOR songs make this new ALIEN record a diverse record, which is of course a must-have for any Scandi Rock/AOR fan out there!

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

ARMISTICE ‘ROOTS OF EVIL’ (BAD LAND RECORDS)

The Thrash Metal band ARMISTICE retuns with their 3rd CD ‘Roots of evil’, which has been released through BAD LAND RECORDS. The Thrash Metal of this German band is of a high level, because it basically is very similar in style, sound and production to any late 80s Bay Area Thrash Metal release (like FORBIDDEN, HALLOW’S EVE, XENTRIX, DEATH ANGEL, EXODUS, VENDETTA…). The guitar riffs are very heavy and strong, but vocally it is that typical Thrash Metal way of singing, which is actually screaming and shouting. For a fan of mentioned bands this ARMISTICE has released a very interesting 3rd CD. More info at: http://www.armistice.de and e-mail them at: info@armistice.de 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

TRISKELL ‘LIFETIME’ (INDEPENDENT)

An Italian band founded a couple years ago. Musically their 5 tracks counting demo contains good clean Melodic Heavy Rock with slight influences of Progressive Metal and even Goth Metal (HIM). All 5 tracks are nice to listen to, although none of them really stand out or it should be opener “Do you remember?”. Also hard to compare this band, but maybe ANGEL HEART/AXXIS might find something of interest in this TRISKELL. More info can be found at: http://www.triskellband.com and e-mail them at: info@triskellband.it 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

BRONCO BUSTERS ‘PULSE RACING’ (BIG DIPPER RECORDS/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

A big surprise from Sweden, because I had not heard of BRONCO BUSTERS before last week and now I received a promo of their new CD ‘Pulse racing’. The band has been active for 10 years now, although the 3 girl members of the band are still in their mid 20s. ‘Pulse racing’ is their 3rd album and without a doubt a very good strong catchy record that mixes early 80s Melodic Poprock with a slight 77 Punk influence, ending up sounding like a mix between THE DONNAS, THE RUNAWAYS, vey early BLONDIE and THE CORRS. 10 short songs are included here (with a total playing time of only 25 minutes!), but all of them are very catchy radio ready uptempo poprockers that sound like the album THE DONNAS have not released yet and THE RUNAWAYS forgot to release. This is female fronted poprock at it’s very best! Songs like “Pagan Baby Blues”, “Running out of class”, “Kind to you” and “Not easy going” are all instant winners. Definitely a CD worth checking out, hats off to these 3 Swedish girls!

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

EPOXIES ‘STOP THE FUTURE’ (FAT WRECK RECORDS/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

EPOXIES hail from Portland, Oregon, USA and their latest CD release ‘Stop the future’ is a truly fantastic record, which captures that classic late 70s/early 80s New Wave bordering female fronted Poprocksound. Just by looking at the cover you would think this EPOXIES must have been a band from the early 80s, but believe it or not; they are a new band! Most remarkable thing of their CD is the inclusion of the SCORPIONS cover “Robot man”, one of their old 70s rockers. EPOXIES gave it their version, which is not even that much different from the rest of the tracks. 13 tracks are included and most of them uptempo catchy radio ready Melodic Poprockers. Hard to pick favourites, because they all sound very sensational, but I guess “Radiation”, “This day”, Wind me up”, “Everything looks beautiful on TV”, “It’s you” and “Toys” belong to the absolute highlights of this awesome CD. Somehow the band has truly captured the early 80s female fronted poprocksound which will not only attract fans of DEVO, BLONDIE, GO GO’S, but also fans of the more obscure SHANDI, SHEILA, SPIDER, SHANGHAI, BACKSEAT SALLY, etc. can easily purchase this awesome CD.

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

ABSOLUTE STEEL ‘WOMANIZER’ (BLACK LOTUS RECORDS/ROCK INC)

‘Womanizer’ is the 2nd CD of the Norwegian band ABSOLUTE STEEL. They play pure 80s LA Party Metal, although the wonderful guitarsound also has some slight ACCEPT/VICTORY kinda touches, especially in the album’s finest track “Rough love (Tender heart)”, which is a very strong midtempo Melodic Heavy Rocksong. Another highlight, besides the superb guitarwork on the first couple of songs are the last 2 instrumental tracks “Opus suite” and “Deliverance”, which both show this band is instrumental sounding perfect. Putting that aside, ABSOLUTE STEEL also has some minor points, because the vocals are not really impressive and also the music is very cliché type of 80s Metal, sounding a bit dated here and there. Not saying this is a bad release, but I guess we have heard it many times before. Still a fan of bands like CRUE, BRITNY FOX… will like this CD a lot, because after all ABSOLUTE STEEL play their kind of Kick-Ass Rock’Roll… although it is remarkable that only 7 vocal tracks are included, and those final 2 instrumental tracks with a playing time of 11 minutes show the band at their best…

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

PLEASURE MAKER ‘LOVE ON THE ROCKS’ (INDEPENDENT)

Quite a sensation from Brazil! The band is called PLEASURE MAKER, with a guitarist who looks like he walked away from the late 80s LA Sunset Strip Boulevard of poseurs, but he surely can play damn well. The guitarist is called ALEX MEISTER, who is also the leader of the Rio De Janeiro based band. He also did the production and wrote all the songs together with lead singer C. Marshall, who by the way is a very good singer. If I wouldn’t have known this was a Brazilian band I probably would have guessed I am listening to a late 80s US act. This is very professionally done, with between the 13 included tracks some very impressive songs. The music is Melodic Poseur Hardrock like we heard from FIREHOUSE, DANGER DANGER, DOKKEN, HEAVENS EDGE, TESLA, GREAT WHITE (they weren’t poseurs!!!) in the 80s. PLEASURE MAKER sometimes even is moving into that high level, especially on fantastic catchy melodic rockers like “Out of control”, “Just thinkin’ about U’, “Hard 2 say goodbye”, “Only a dream” and “Give it all”. Also comparisons to VAN HALEN and 80s BON JOVI are of course notable, especially if you consider the fact PLEASURE MAKER started as a BON JOVI cover band! Anyway, this CD caught my surprise, because it sounds dangerously close to what all those Americans waned to achieve in the later 80s, namely releasing a great sounding Arena Poseur Melodic Hardrockalbum, so that’s one thing to be proud of for PLEASURE MAKER. Fans of mentioned bands need to check out this band asap at: http://www.pleasuremaker.com and e-mail them at: alexmeister@pleasuremaker.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

LEGER DE MAIN ‘A LASTING IMPRESSION’ (PROGMAN RECORDS)

LEGER DE MAIN was a female fronted US based band active during the 90s. They managed to release a couple of albums, of which now a CD has been released that contains the band’s 1995 album ‘The concept of our reality’ and the 1997 album ‘Second first impression’. These re-issues are a very good move, because not that many people are familiar with LEGER DE MAIN, which is a pity, because this band delivered some awesome melodic progressive rock during the 1990s. Both albums contain high quality progressive rock with beautiful melodies, kinda like a mix between RUSH, LANA LANE and MOSTLY AUTUMN, and most of the time even reaching the high level of those acts, so you can imagine this 2-CD set is a must-have to check out. In total 12 long tracks are on these 2 CDs and it is a real pleasure to listen to all of these wonderful songs. Just listen to a wonderful melodic progressive rocker like “Changes with the day” and you can’t help thinking why this band hasn’t turned big some 10 years ago. Without a doubt, anyone into mentioned bands will absolutely love this band and therefore better check out this new 2-CD re-issue set available through: http://www.pmm-music.net It’s a shame the band split up, but each of the 3 members currently work in new bands, namely RAZOR WIRE SHRINE and WITHIN SINISTER, but in the mid 90s they had a great band all together in the shape of LEGER DE MAIN, lost but not forgotten and now available again.

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

SONNY VINCENT ‘THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY’ (ACETATE RECORDS)

Vocalist/guitarist SONNY VINCENT released a CD, which also features legendary Punk Rock’n’Roll musicians of bands like MC5, THE DAMNED, THE STOOGES and BLACK FLAG, so you can imagine we have here a quality CD. What we get to hear is all original Pre-77 Punk, so pure Rock’n’Roll, dirty and mean, heavier than the 60s Garage Rock, different than 70s Hardrock, just ballsy raw rough around the edge Rock’n’Roll in the style of MC5, THE STOOGES, NEW YORK DOLLS, HANOI ROCKS… 14 short songs are included on this disc and without a doubt it is a high quality CD if you’re into classic 70s Rock’n’Roll. I’m quite sure fans of mentioned bands will absolutely love catchy songs like “”Trans-love”, “That sound”, “Tired of the telephone” and “Yesterday’s news”. In that case, better check out this release asap! More info at: http://www.acetate.com

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

THE HANGMEN ‘LOTERIA’ (ACETATE RECORDS)

THE HANGMEN is a 4-piece band from the USA with a very good CD release, which musically grabs back to dirty mean raw 70s honest Rock’n’Roll. The band is made up of 3 male and 1 female musicians and are not that far away from THE WHITE STRIPES, JET and those kind of acts, so we are dealing with a band putting back the retro rocksound of the late 60s/early 70s in a style which was created 35-40 years ago by THE WHO, THE STOOGES and THE KINKS. THE HANGMEN comes along a bit heavier here and there, but fans of this kind of true Rock’n’Roll will definitely like songs such as “Blood red”, “Never go hme”, “Citadel” and “I just wanna feel good”, which are all strong Rockers. A band to check out if you’re into real Rock’n’Roll… More info at: http://www.thehangmen.net and http://www.acetate.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

STYGMA IV ‘OUTTAKES’ (INDEPENDENT)

For a very long time the Austrian band STYGMA has been active and here we welcome their latest CD ‘Outtakes’, which probably is a mix of unreleased songs from the past. The band never changed musically that much, so we can still enjoy their epic Progressive Metal, which somehow sounds very good on this ‘new’ CD. The band has a strong lead singer and the 10 songs that make up a playing time of almost 80 minutes are a pleasure to listen to. Besides 8 original songs, the band also has 2 covers to offer, which are the BLACK SABBATH DIO Classic “Heaven and hell” and a good old Blues coer of WILLY DIXON called “I’m a king bee”. The band’s own material is strong progressive metal, which will do well if you’re a fan of bands like PSYCHOTIC WALTZ and MIND’S EYE, but also regular DREAM THEATER fans might find something of interest in this new CD of the legendary Austrian band STYGMA 4. More info at: http://www.stygma4.com and e-mail them at: stygma4@gmx.net 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

SHELLCASE ‘DEMO 2005’ (DEMO CDR)

SHELLCASE is a new band, formed recently (late 2004) in Belgium by former members of AOR band RUNAWAY, of whom we reviewed material many years ago and Metalband MANIC MOVEMENT. Main member of the band is vocalist/guitarist DAVE VARLET. The demo they recorded contains 4 songs, which show a real strong Melodic Rocksound from a band whom have only been together for about 10 months. Nevertheless, it shows a tight band sound, with as absolute highlight the fantastic opener “Inside”. This song is a truly fantastic Classic AOR song with beautiful melodies and a very strong chorus that features awesome lead and harmonyvocals. The band’s sound is very 80s American orientated, reminding me of what TEER and TALON were doing a couple years ago (both have CDs out on FRONTIERS RECORDS). Without a doubt, this song could well be the best Belgian song from the past few years, a really terrific strong very melodic AOR Rocksong a la TYKETTO. The other 3 songs on this first SHELLCASE demo are a little less sensational, but still nice melodic rocksongs. It seems that towards the end of the year we can expect a full-length CD of SHELLCASE, within a year after the formation (!). In the meantime do check out their site at: http://shellcase.info and e-mail them at: contact@shellcase.info 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

NAUGHTY BOYS ‘SHAKE THE NEIGHBORHOOD’ (CD SINGLE)

The NAUGHTY BOYS from Sweden have a new CD single out. 2 great tracks can be found on the CD, namely the Glamrocker “Shake the neighbourhood”, which is basically pure POISON circa 1986-1988. The other song I the Melodic Hardrocksong “Stay forever, stay tonight”, which is a very good tune a la WHITE LION. So we have here a nice mixture of Melodic Hardrock and Glamrock, definitely worth checking out for fans of these genres, because NAUGHTY BOYS have done it all at a high level. More info at: http://www.naughtyboys.se and e-mail them at: info@naughtyboys.se 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

STEVEN CENKER ‘DISSOLUTION’ (BLACK WALL RECORDS)

Vocalist/Guitarist/Bassist STEVEN CENKER comes out of California, USA and he kindly sent me some of his past and current bands/projects. His solo-CD ‘Dissolution’ is definitely one of the better releases he has done, because this is a very strong AOR/Melodic Rock record, not really polished, a bit raw around the edges, but nevertheless melodic and 80s orientated. It reminds me of BON JOVI, WAYNE SMART, JEFF PARIS… It’s NOT pure AOR, but a bit more modest raw Melodic Rock with here and there AOR influences and most of the songs are (semi-) ballads. Steven’s vocals are close to that of JON BON JOVI, but I think the best comparisons I can come up with are definitely TIM KARR, KEVIN LEE, DANNY WILDE, DONNIE MILLER… well I think you’ll get the picture what direction this CD is heading into. 9 tunes are included and with songtitles like “Separate ways” (no JOURNEY cover!), “I believe in you” (no Y&T or SABU cover!!), “Look away” (no CHICAGO cover!!!) and “Here with you” (great guitarwork), the AOR/Melodic Rockfan will already be interested in checking out this CD of STEVEN CENKER. Steven previously played in the bands MALTEZE, SAM MORRISON BAND and WAR CRIME, with whom he released one CD each in the past 15 years. MALTEZE was maybe his finest band, because with this female fronted Melodic Metal band he released an awesome album 15 years ago, which is in the best early LEE AARON meets PHANTOM BLUE style. With the band SAM MORRISON BAND (http://www.sammorrisonband.com ) Steven released a typical American Southern hardrockalbum a la MOLLY HATCHET, nice but not as good as the Metal of MALTEZE or the AOR/Melodic Rock of his solo recordings. Finally the CD ‘No escape’ he released as guitarist/vocalist of the band WAR CRIME in 1997 was actually a really strong 80s type of Power Metal record a la METAL CHURCH, ARMORED SAINT, etc. Concluded, the talented musician STEVEN CENKER has done a lot of diverse quality Rock and Metal in his career so far. More info on Steven at: http://www.stevencenker.com and e-mail him at: stevencenker@att.net 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

GILLAN ‘MUTUALLY ASSURED DESTRUCTION GLASGOW 1982’ (ANGEL AIR RECORDS)

The amount of GILLAN releases is just unstoppable. Here we have a live CD release on ANGEL AIR RECORDS, which contains a live recording from 1982, in Glasgow, Scotland to be exact. Happily, Ian was in good shape that night, performing a lot of solo stuff, but of course also classic DEEP PURPLE (“Smoke on the water”, “Black night”…). The music was a mix of classic rock, hardrock and some AOR, because in that period his solo records were more going into an AOR direction. Anyway, the CD has a good sound and production, so I guess this is one of those must-have CDs in case you’re a fan of Ian. More info at: http://www.angelair.co.uk 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

NONA HENDRYX ‘ROUGH AND TOUGH’ (EMI PLUS EUROPE)

Typical 80s European Pop/Rock can be heard on the re-issued CD of an 80s album by female singer/guitarist NONA HENDRYX, who released ‘Rough and tough’ in 1987. 12 songs are on the CD, of which a couple are bonustracks, not sure which, but from start to finish this is pure 80s Pop/Rock with a drumcomputer. Not even sure if Nona is related to Jimi, but she certainly sounds different. EMI decided to re-issue the album onto CD, but I am not really excited about it. Sure, it is a quality CD, but the 80s pop/rock sounds very dated now and also very poppy actually, so probably a CD release which will only appeal to a few people (including Nona and her family). You can buy the CD through: http://www.targetrecords.com 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

IL CASTELLO DI ATLANTE ‘QUINTESSENZA’ (ELECTROMANTIC RECORDS)

From this Italian band I recently reviewed their 4 of their albums, but ‘Quintessenza’ was not reviewed yet, because this is their most recent album. The 6 long songs bring us musically high quality Melodic Progressive Rock with a lot of room for instrumental passages. The typical Italo Prog is only a step away from legendary bands in this genre like PFM and LE ORME. I’ll bet if you’re into this kind of prog you will love IL CASTELLO DI ATLANTE just as well. Their albums are not that much different from each other, so all can be filed under Melodic Italo Prog. Without a doubt, it is a pleasure to listen to the latest CD release of the Italian band IL CASTELLO DI ATLANTE, which was done in 2003. The combination of various instruments (violin, keys, Hammond, guitar) with melodic vocals is making this and any other CD of the band a winner for fans of classic Italo prog. More info at: http://www.ilcastellodiatlante.com 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

KAMERA ‘X-POSURE’ (INDEPENDENT)

Here we have something special, because the first official KAMERA CD is filled with high quality pure 80s AOR that is similar in stye and quality to HARLAN CAGE, SHY, STONE SOUP, AVIATOR… In fact, this CD has an unbelievable start which simply blows away the latest JOURNEY release! This is AOR like it used to be made, which means big sounding bombastic AOR with lovely melodies in the guitarsound (a la NEAL SCHON), catchy hooks and melodic memorable choruses (a la SURVIVOR), cheerful keys and all packed in mostly mid to uptempo rocksongs. Opening track of this 70+ minutes counting CD is the superb midtempo AOR song “Chance” that sounds like HARLAN CAGE a lot, but also has some similarities to STONE SOUP, SHY, BOYSTOWN and SURVIVOR. This is more like it and highly recommended to any AOR fan! So off we go, although needs to added here that the following songs are not as good as that classic AOR opening tune, but still songs like “Blind secrets” and “Bad timing” are nice AOR songs a la SHOOTING STAR/THE AFFAIR. The dut-dut keys from the 80s are making a big return in the song “Empty feelings”, which is a great uptempo AOR rocker in classic SHY/AVIATOR style. Up next is another not that sensational track called “Arcadia”, although still 80s AOR (a la REFUGEE). Actually the whole CD continues in this formula, so a mix of very sensational AOR and just plain Melodic Rock (although still very good). Absolute highlights are “Everywhere I go” (midtempo AOR Classic a la HARLAN CAGE), “It’s over” (strong Pomptastic AOR/Melodic Rock a la WHITE SISTER and some ICON’s ‘An even more perfect/Night of the crime’ era), “What kind of girl” (another lovely midtempo AOR Classic) and the closing 3 uptempo AOR rockers (“Look before you love” a la NIGHT RANGER, “When we said hello” and “Chasing shadows”). Especially the final track “Chasing shadows”, which was also featured on their reviewed demo from a few years ago, is an absolute AOR Classic like a mix between AVIATOR and 80s HONEYMOON SUITE and maybe one of the best pure AOR songs from the past few years! Concluded there’s only thing to do if you’re a fan of classic AOR, buy this CD a.s.a.p. to finally hear out of the underground/independent scene from the USA a band playing True Classic 80s hookladen AOR! More info at: http://www.kameramusic.com and e-mail them at: band@kameramusic.com 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

BLACK CROWES ‘LIONS’ (V2 MUSIC)

Released a couple years ago, but apparently slightly unnoticed, the BLACK CROWES album ‘Lions’, an album filled with typical BLACK CROWES 70s influenced Bluesrock. Good to see a US band never changing it’s style since it’s first album from way back in the late 80s. Of course the band was influenced by LED ZEPPELIN, but they added a little classic Blues into their sound, so throughout the 90s BLACK CROWES created it’s own sound, which could still be heard very clearly on this 2001 released album ‘Lions’. 13 songs and a multimedia portion can be heard (and seen) on this CD, which is available very cheaply through: http://www.targetrecords.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

ANI KYD ‘EVIL NEEDS CANDY TOO’ (ALTERNATIVE TENTACLES RECORDS/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

Female Vocalist/guitarist ANI KYD delivers a CD which contains an interesting mix of late 60s Psychedelic Heavy Rock (GRACE SLICK type of vocals), early 70s influenced Metal guitar riffs (BLACK SABBATH and LED ZEPPELIN) and some slight Hardcore. Although even JELLO BIAFRA of DEAD KENNEDYS makes an appearance as backing vocalist on the CD of ANI KYD, I think the CD is closer to groovy Heavy Rock/Metal than Hardcore/Punk. Towards the end, this 16 songs counting CD, maybe is a bit more a mix of Hardcore and Metal, but mainly we can hear some good groovy Heavy Rock/Metal with as highlights “Rejoyce”, “Taste my lips”, “13” and “Left right left”. Ani’s vocals are very strong and even fooled me because before I had even looked at the artwork and liner notes I thought I was listening to a male singer, but Ani is definitely a female singer! Worth checking out if you like you’re Metal very heavy and groovy, sounding like a mix between PLASMATICS and BITCH.

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

CONTROLLER CONTROLLER ’HISTORY’ (PAPER BAG RECORDS/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

It’s good to see that at the moment 80s style of music is coming back big time, because this world is filled with thousands of mostly female fronted bands playing early 80s type of Poprock. CONTROLLER CONTROLLER is the latest addition. This band has a mini-CD out, which consists of 7 tracks that clearly reveal that classic early 80s female fronted poprock sound I was talking about. The relaxing melodic poprock on ‘History’ does remind me a lot of DEVO, LUBA and LISA DALBELLO. Especially the songs “Silent seven’, “Sleep over it” and “Bruised broken beaten” are catchy melodic poprockers in a style which was dead for many years. Fans of mentioned artists will like this CONTROLLER CONTROLLER a lot!

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

7 SINS ‘ANGELS AND DEVILS/METALIZED’ (INDEPENDENT)

I received 2 CD-singles of the Swedish band and they may easily be called a new Melodic Metal sensation. Despite a weaker production, this band shows they are able to bring some high quality typical Swedish Melodic Metal that is obviously influenced by HAMMERFALL and MAIDEN. The band has a very strong powerful lead singer called STEEL and especially songs like “The fall”, “Mr. Shadow” and “Phantom” are very strong Melodic Metal songs that will be loved by fans of HAMMERFALL, DREAM EVIL, NOCTURNAL RITES, NOSTRADAMEUS, BALANCE OF POWER, DUNGEON… This Swedish band can easily be put in the major league of Melodic Metal and are as good as mentioned bands. If only the production could improve (but that’s a money question I guess) then we are looking at another sensational Swedish Melodic Metal band. More info on 7 SINS at: http://www.7sins.nu and e-mail them at: info@7sins.nu 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

SEARING I/LUNA FIELD ‘BLOODSHRED/DIVA’ (BLACK LOTUS RECORDS/ROCK INC)

The Greek label BLACK LOTUS RECORDS is a very busy label, but instead of releasing quality records, there have been so many average releases, so the label is profiling itself as a quantity label. The latest 2 releases are both in the Black/Death-Metal genres, namely a Swedish band called SEARING I and a band from Germany called LUNA FIELD. Only interesting for fans of the extreme Black/Death Metal genre…

(Points: -)

HOLY MOSES ‘THE NEW MACHINE OF LIECHTENSTEIN/FINISHED WITH THE DOGS’ (ARMAGEDDON MUSIC/ROCK INC)

At the same moment I was thinking of doing a story on bands from Liechtenstein, a very small country inside Switzerland (with only 33,000 inhabitants!, but still about 20-30 Rock and Metalbands!!!) I received a CD called ‘The new machine of Liechtenstein’ of the German band HOLY MOSES. It’s not a new CD of the Thrash Metal band fronted by female screamer Sabina Classen, because that was recently released. No, this is a re-issue of one of their old releases. In fact, both their 1987 record ‘Finished with the dogs’ and their 1989 record ‘The new machine of Liechtenstein’ have been re-issued on CD by ARMAGEDDON MUSIC, who even added a bunch of live bonustracks that were recently recorded during live performances of the band at various festivals throughout Europe. Both CDs are showing how angry Thrash Metal sounded towards the end of the 1980s. Especially German and Dutch bands were keen on bringing even more aggressive Metal during the late 80s than what happened at the same time in the famous Bay Area of San Francisco. Big difference with any other band in the genre back then was the fact that HOLY MOSES featured a female shouter and that is what making these 2 CDs interesting for anyone who thought ARCH ENEMY was the first female fronted Extreme Metalband. Come to think of it, wasn’t WENDY O WILLIAMS (RIP) and her PLASMATICS not the first female fronted Extreme Metalband, well, maybe they were more Punk/Hardcore, so in the end HOLY MOSES were the first Extreme/Thrash-Metalband with a female upfront. She even presented a Metalshow in Germany for a while! Anyway, good to see 2 early HOLY MOSES albums re-issued on CD right now…

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

THE ARROWS & FRIENDS ‘TAWNY TRACKS’ (GELTOOB RECORDS)

The 70s UK band THE ARROWS is best known for their song “I love rock’n’roll”, which became a huge hit worldwide when ex-RUNAWAYS guitarist JOAN JETT sang it straight to number 1 in many countries (including USA and Holland). However, THE ARROWS wrote and recorded it in the mid 70s. Main member of the band was ALAN MERRILL, who not only sang, but was also able to play most of the instruments. Anyway, this CD contains 19 tracks from the band’s heydays. It’s plain old rock and roll what we get to hear, very much like the 1960s sound of a SMALL FACES with a slight 70s BAD COMPANY approach here and a poppier SMOKIE touch there, although the best comparison might just be the BAY CITY ROLLERS. There are some great rockers on the CD (“Goodbyes”, “Always another train”, “Rock’n’roll hotel” and “I love rock’n’roll”), but also a handful of sugarsweet pop ballads (“” A love like ours”). Nevertheless a nice collection of songs by a band that became famous with one of their songs topping the charts a few years after their split, but the sad thing was that it was someone else who turned THE ARROWS song into a huge hitsingle. More info at: http://www.alanmerrill.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

ALAN MERRILL ‘CUPID DERANGED’ MEC RECORDS)

Big in the UK in the 1970s as a member of the band THE ARROWS, lead singer/guitarist ALAN MERRILL released a lot of solo CDs after his time with THE ARROWS. This particular CD contains 22 songs, recently recorded, but once again containing tracks written during his whole career. Not to be missed was “I love rock n roll”, the legendary Rock Anthem made famous by JOAN JETT, but originally a song written and recorded by THE ARROWS. Most of the material on his own CDs is reflecting the same kind of musicstyle as THE ARROWS, which means some typical 70s UK Rock with slight Glam (SLADE/SWEET/MUD) influences here and there and some really sugarsweet ballads (a la SMOKIE). Happily, Alan rocks most of the time, also on this CD. Somehow he remembers me a lot of times on RICK DERRINGER going slightly poppier. Best songs besides “I love rock’n’roll” are “You don’t know what you want”, “”Tnteenager”, “Lesson learned” and “Shake me”. More info at: http://www.alanmerrill.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

ALAN MERRILL ‘DOUBLE SHOT ROCKS’ (GELTOOB RECORDS)

This CD of ALAN MERRILL offers 23 tracks, which are all covers of legendary songwriters Arthur Alexander and Otis Blackwell. The album was released in 2003 and although many people know the songs performed on this CD by Alan, not many are aware that these ELVS PRESLEY, JERRY LEE LEWIS, etc. originals were written by Arthur and Otis. So basically what we get to here are updated versions of classic 60s rock’n’roll. A nice challenge taken by Alan, who did a good job, although it’s always something that makes you wonder why Alan did record 23 covers instead of a few and just release some own originals. Nevertheless, nice to check out for the die-hard fans at: http://www.alanmerrill.com 

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

ALAN MERRILL ‘NEVER PET A BURNING DOG’ (MEC RECORDS)

This definitely one of the most interesting releases of singer/guitarist ALAN MERRILL. The CD was released in 1998, but is actually a compilation of songs he recorded between 1977 and 1982 with various musicians, including guitarist RICK DERRINGER, backing singer FIONA (yes that lovely girl who released a couple of awesome AOR records in the 1980s!), synth/pianoplayer BENJI KING (of SCANDAL I believe?), STEVE WINWOOD and several others. The collection of 12 tracks is musically pure early 80s AOR/Melodic Poprock like it was played in the US by thousands of musicians. Comparisons to BILLY SQUIER, JOHN PARR, BENNY MARDONES, RICK DERRINGER, MICHAEL ZEE, BERNIE LABARGE (a lot!) are easy to make. The songs rock and are very melodic, filled with catchy hooks and memorable harmonyvocals. Good to see a CD release of this rare material. I found it this album had been released on LP in 1985, but it’s the first time it is available on CD here. Definitely a must-have for fans of early 80s US AOR/Poprock in the style of BERNIE LABARGE, BENNY MARDONES, RICK SPRINGFIELD, HUEY LEWIS… More info at: http://www.alanmerrill.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

ALAN MERRILL ‘ALEECAT’ (MEC RECORDS)

This is the most recent release of singer/songwriter ALAN MERRILL, on which he proves he can still sing very well, but musically it doesn’t really rock anymore. It’s still a quality CD, but more sounding like a mix of Bluesy Rock and Pop, kinda like a mix between HUEY LEWIS, BILLY JOEL and BEATLES. Especially on songs like “Illusion”, “Everytime she comes around”, “Lost in lust” (a la FREE) and “Feet (All around the world)” this becomes clear, although you can also hear some MICHAEL STANLEY BAND type of Westcoast on a song like “No speed limit”. Less rocking, but good quality stuff anyway, this 2004 release of Alan. More info at: http://www.alanmerrill.com 

(Points: 7.6 out of 10)

VODKA COLLINS ‘BOY’S LIFE/BOYS IN THE BAND’ (VOCO RECORDS)

Before singer/guitarist ALAN MERRILL (ARROWS) became famous with ARROWS, he played in the Japanese/US band VODKA COLLINS. Alan was the New Yorker singer of this band, who easily showed he was the main member of VODKA COLLINS. Musically they played a mix of early 70s Glamrock and 60s influenced Rock, which sounded quite good and you can hear that on the 14 songs of the CD ‘Boy’s life’ as well as the the 16 songs of the CD ‘Boys in the band’. The history of VODKA COLLINS goes back to 1972, when there was a Rock explosion in Tokyo, Japan, of which VODKA COLLINS was the most popular band (even influencing DAVID BOWIE and his ZIGGY STARDUST project!). They also influenced T-REX and admitted the music of VODKA COLLINS was a lot sounding like T-REX, despite the fact both bands lived many miles away from each other. The band recorded an album in 1972, which was re-issued, but these 2 new CDs contain material recorded after their reformation in the early 90s. Typical early 70s Glamrock can be heard on the 2 VODKA COLLINS, of which songs like “C’est no more”, “Automatic pilot” and the ARROWS classic “I love rock’n’roll” (made popualrby JOAN JETT in the early 80s) might sound familiar. More info at: http://www.alanmerrill.com 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

AMERICAN ZEN ‘LEVEL 1’ (SHAOLIN RECORDS)

Promoted as the first Buddhist Rockband from the USA, this AMERICAN ZEN brings a nice mix of Folk, 60s Psyechedelic Rock and Garage Rock. Some comparisons to JEHTRO TULL are very clear, but I think they are more sounding like the 1960s. Anyway it is a nice thing to see a Buddhist Rockband from the USA having a CD release. 22 short songs are included here and if you’re starting to become interested then head over to: http://www.shaolinmusic.com and e-mail at: producer@shaolincom.com 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

NOSOUND ‘SOL 29’ (INDEPENDENT)

NO SOUND fron Italy is actually a one man’s band, because basically talented multi-instrumentalist/ singer/songwriter GIANCARLO ERRA did everything on his own. 10 songs are included on his first CD. Very hard to compare it musically, because NOSOUND might just not have a real sound! Fact is their songs are very calm, with lots of instrumental parts, kinda like taking the best of PORCUPINE TREE, CAMEL and PINK FLOYD, but also comparisons to the more obcure CAN are possible on this CD. It’s quite unbelievable Giancarlo did everything on his own, because it all sounds very impressive. It doesn’t rock, because it is more relaxed music for in the mountains. 10 songs can be found on the CD, and the open-minded progfan will probably be very interested in checking out this NOSOUND.

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

NIL ‘NIL NOVO SUB SOLE’ (UNICORN DIGITAL)

I am not really sure, but I believe I have reviewed the debut CD of this French band. Nevertheless, this ‘Nil novo sub sole’ album is their 2nd CD, but the first on the Canadian label UNICORN DIGITAL. Musically NIL is playing experimental Progressive Rock, with a lot of instrumental passages, but also peaceful female vocals sung in the French language. It all reminds me of RENAISSANCE a bit, but also MOSTLY AUTUMN comes to mind, although NIL is clearly less straight-forward. They are more focused on bringing peaceful relaxing music that combines elements of Epic, Ambient, Celtic and Progressive Music. 6 long songs are included and I am quite sure fans of CAMEL, ENYA, RENAISSANCE, etc. might find something here that interests them. More info at: http://www.unicornrecords.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

TALISMA ‘CHROMIUM’ (UNICORN DIGITAL)

This new album of TALISMA is the 2nd CD they have done and once again we can enjoy Instrumental Progressive Rock that isn’t far removed from RUSH, OZRIC TENTACLES, PORCUPINE TREE, etc. yet without the vocals. Sometimes things get a little more experimental, but the band shows they are very experienced on their instruments. Without a doubt, this release will attract the progfans as it sounds quite innovative and is yet another prog challenge waiting to be discovered. More info at: http://www.unicornrecords.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

RING OF MYTH ‘WEEDS’ (UNICORN DIGITAL)

Here we have another winner for the Progressive Rockfans among us. The band is called RING OF MYTH and they hail from the USA. The band was formed 15 years ago, released an album in 1996 on the Proglabel KINESIS RECORDS. Now almost 10 years later they have a follow-up out titled ‘Weeds’. Musically this is pure Progressive Rock like a mix between RUSH, GENESIS and YES, very much leaning towards the 70s classic progsound. Vocally high-pitched like RUSH meets YES, while the songs have a very strong PETER GABRIEL period GENESIS approach. 10 songs are included and with a crystal clear production and unexpected twists in the songs, this is an absolute winner for the progressive rockfans among us. More info at: http://www.unicornrecords.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

DREAMTONE ‘SOJOURN’ (INDEPENDENT)

A promising band from Ankara, Turkey. They are called DREAMTONE and the 5 members are very young of age. Although the production of their first CD is a little average, the included music is high quality Melodic Progressive Metal in the style of SYMPHONY X, AYREON and SHADOW GALLERY. ‘Sojourn’ is a concept piece, which is told and sung in 17 songs, making this CD in total 50 minutes of playing time. The narrator of the story is none-other than GARY WEHRKAMP, who also was part of many other Rock/Metal Operas, such as LEONARDO, AYREON, STAR ONE…Now he tells the stories in between the songs of the debut CD of this Turkish band. I have heard a few other bands from Turkey, but I think DREAMTONE is one of the best bands out there at the moment. If these guys go into a studio with a professional producer somewhere in the North of Europe I am quite sure we have a winner on our hands. This independent CD of the band is musically very impressive and already shows that this band is one to keep our eyes wide open for. This could well be the next KAMELOT or SYMPHONY X if they continue to develop themselves in the future. Especially for a country like Turkey this band could well be an inspiration for all those Turkish people in the Western European countries, because none of them appreciate Hardrock or Metal music at all, in contrast to Turkey itself. Let’s hope for a breakthrough of this band in and outside Turkey. The following years will probably make clear if this DREAMTONE will be able to reach higher levels. In the meantime do check out their site at: http://www.dreamtone.net and e-mail them at: dreamtone@dreamtone.net 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

EDEN ‘POINT OF NO RETURN’ (PROMO)

Is this what we would call modern AOR? Well, actually this band called EDEN has a very polished radio-ready Melodic Poprocksound that sounds too friendly for the AOR rocker, but might be something worth checking out if you also like stuff such as THE CORRS, SAVAGE GARDEN, CHICAGO, ROXETTE… Don’t expect rockers, but very polished Westcoast type of Pop. Need to admit that this could easily turn up high in the charts, but despite some comparisons I can make to RICHARD MARX, BRYAN ADAMS and SPIN GALLERY, this CD is actually a bit too poppy. People who thought BACKSTREET BOYS (I hate to say that) released a good record should have a listen to EDEN, who cut a much better record that is indeed closer to DEF LEPPARD’s latest record than anything else. So a quality record but still no high rating, due to the production which is way too polished and poppy and that is a damn shame because now a very catchy song like “Catch me” sounds like LOUD’N’CLEAR or MICHAEL MORALES who threwaway the guitars!!!

(Points: 7.0 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem) 

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