HOT NEW REVIEWSUPDATED ON OCTOBER 20 - 2005

LISTERIA ‘FULL OF FIRE’ (LION MUSIC/BERTUS)

With LISTERIA LION MUSIC has a typical 80s type of Melodic Heavy Rock/Metal band on their roster. The band comes out of Italy and are making their debut with the album ‘Full of fire’. It’s a nice album, but still it misses something to make it a sensational album. At times it reminds me of FIFTH ANGEL, but then less impressive of course. It’s a good album, but I think the future will make clear if this band is able to reach a higher level of the Melodic Metal genre, because for now the album is nothing more than another nice melodic metal release in a world where hundreds of similar sounding CDs are being released. Still interesting for die-hard Melodic Metalfans, although the playing length of 30 minutes is way too short!

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

BALTIMOORE ‘FANATICAL’ (LION MUSIC/BERTUS)

Legendary Swedish Hardrockand BALTIMOORE return with a new CD release titled ‘Fanatical’. This album is definitely bringing the same old 70s inspired groovy Hardrock as on their earlier albums, but still at some point the LED ZEPPELIN/GREAT WHITE type of slow Bluesy Hardrock gets a bit boring. Please note that I am not saying this is a bad release, because BALTIMOORE deliver once again a quality Hardrockalbum, but I think their best releases lay in the deep past and any new CD is only for the die-hard fans of the band, who may easily buy the new CD ‘Fanatical’.

(Points:7.9 out of 10)

THE MYSTERY HALL ‘THE VOYAGER THROUGH THE VOID’ (LION MUSIC/BERTUS)

Somehow the Progressive Metal releases on LION MUSIC are the strongest releases, and so we have here a CD of a new Spanish band called THE MYSTERY HALL, which happens to contain strong Melodic Progressive Metal. The band features guitarist TONY BAENA, who is well-known for his guitar talents on several instrumental CDs he released. Now he formed a band with a few other musicians, including vocalist Rafael Morata, who happens to be a very good singer. The CD they recorded was mastered by LARS ERIC MATTSSON, who did a good job in making this debut album of THE MYSTERY HALL sound like a good strong Progressive Metal record. The band obviously has been influenced by acts like SYMPHONY X, KAMELOT, VANDENPLAS (a lot!) and DREAM THEATER, because you can hear clear similarities here, although less sensational I am afraid. Nevertheless, this high quality CD has enough to offer to make it interesting for the Progmetalfan!

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

LORD OF MUSHROOMS ‘SEVEN DEADLY SONGS’ (LION MUSIC/BERTUS)

I am not exactly sure, but I believe the band LORD OF MUSHROOMS is coming out of France, and this ‘Seven deadly songs’ is their 2nd CD so far, but their very first on the Finnish label LION MUSIC. Actually the CD caught me by surprise, because it is a very strong Melodic Progressive Rock/Metal (with AOR influences) release that is actually quite diverse. The album contains 10 tracks, of which “Pride”, “Envy” and “Anger” are very strong sensational Melodic Progressive AOR rockers that somehow remind me of HOUSE OF SHAKIRA. On the other hand, there are also much heavier rawer songs on the album, such as “Avarice” and “Lust”, which could be labelled as modern sounding Progressive Metal that sounds like the new generation of US bands (like RA, DISTURBED, COHEED AND CAMBRIA, AVENGED SEVENFOLD). So we have a CD here that is trying to appeal to as many different rock and metalfans as possible, maybe a good thing, all together a good release b this band.

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

SIMONE FIROLETTA ‘PARALLEL WORLDS’ (LION MUSIC/BERTUS)

Talented young guitarist from Italy, who has already released a CD with his own band MOONLIGHT COMEDY. Now a solo-CD, which is focused on his guitar playing. Obviously this guy can play, but still I think the incredible amount of instrumental releases might make it difficult for this CD to survive. The CD is a mix of harder rocking Melodic Hard/Heavy Rock and calmer semi-ballads, all instrumental of course and nicely done, but still not really sensational. Only for die-hard instrumental guitar orientated Hardrockfans!

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

ELIAS VILJANEN ‘LEADSTAR’ (LION MUSIC/BERTUS)

Out of Scandinavia comes guitarist ELIAS VILJANEN (Finland I assume), who just released the follow-up CD to his ‘Taking the lead’ debut album from a few years ago. Without a doubt, this is one of the better instrumental releases at the moment, because the CD contains a very strong instrumental mix of Progressive Metal, Melodic Hardrock and Neo-Classical Metal. It all sounds very impressive, with of course the guitarplaying of Elias as the most remarkable fact, because he sounds like MALMSTEEN used to sound! Definitely a must-have for any Hardrock/Metalfan!

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

HEMNUR ‘SATANIC HELLRIDE’ (INFERNUS REX)

Norwegian band with a debut CD release on a Dutch label. They play Black Metal and their CD sounds like VENOM in a cellar instead of a studio. Only interesting for the absolute die-hard fans! More info at: http://home.no/hemnur

(Points: -)

RUINS ‘SPUN FORTH AS DARK NETS’ (NEUROTIC RECORDS/BERTUS)

Black Metal… Avoid at any cost!

(Points: -)

GJALLARHORN ‘NORDHEIM’ (DRAGONHEART/BERTUS)

I expected another Scandi Black Metal release, but GJALLARHORN is playing a sort of True Metal style, with a kind of Medieval approach and some Doom Metal influences (a la CANDLEMASS). It doesn’t sound bad at all, but sadly the band has a very average lead singer, so the best thing to do for this band is to go look for a new singer, because now their music is getting very boring after a while. A shame, because instrumental it all sounds quite nice, but we have heard that before…

(Points: 6.0 out of 10)

BLACK FLAME DISPUTE ‘PORTRAIT OF THE HUMAN CONDITION’ (PLASTIC HEAD RECORDS)

Lately we have seen melodies coming back in the music that currently comes out of the USA and UK. It seems the screaming and waiting is over, because the big major labels have released this year alone a lot of great releases that can easily be qualified as Progressive Metal with very strong melodic lead vocals and catchy choruses, ending up sounding like THRESHOLD, but the thing is that all these bands come from a complete different background. Most of the time they started as a Hardcore or Punk or even worse, a Screamo band, but evolve into an Emocore band and then into a Progressive Metal band. Anyway, another new band on the horizon is BLACK FLAME DISPUTE. This is yet another band that probably started as a Screamo/Punkband, but now sounds as melodic as a standard progressive rock/metalband, so combining strong melodies with big heavy guitar riffs. This can best be heard in great songs like “Hunt down”, “Low” and “1000 licks”. Not all songs are sounding interesting, because here and there we can hear one of those terrible Hard/Screamcore songs “Bloodletting” in a sort of TOOL meets PANTERA style. Nevertheless, this is probably another interesting release for those who want their progmetal to sound a bit different, kinda like PAIN OF SALVATION or for people who want to slowly change their interest from emocore into progmetal, because basically this BLACK FLAME DISPUTE is another band combining the best of both worlds on their CD ‘Portrait of the human condition’.

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

AIRLESS ‘2ND ROUND’ (LION MUSIC/BERTUS)

2ND CD of the Spanish band AIRLESS, but the very first on LION MUSIC. I believe the first CD was released on VINNY RECORDS, which I also reviewed a few years ago, but it has gone completely out of my memory if it was anything really good. Anyway, the band’s new CD offers good clean Melodic Hardrock in the style of HAREM SCAREM and EMERALD RAIN. The band has a singer, who definitely has an accent and although the songs are all nice Melodic Hardrocksongs in a classy 80s style, none of them do really make a lasting impression. I am afraid this new AIRLESS CD will not make it big time and only will appear in the collection of die-hard Melodic Hardrockfans. Still you can take it from me that isn’t a bad CD at all, but it just isn’t strong enough, so maybe a future release might see the band making a better release, because a song like “Handful of lies” is actually quite strong.

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

SKAMBANKT ‘SKAMANIA’ (TUBA RECORDS/BERTUS)

Only 6 songs are on the CD of the Norwegian band SKAMBANKT, so we should actually call this 20 minutes counting CD a mini-album. The CD also contains a couple videoclips, which are quite fun to watch. Musically this band is playing True original Rock’n’Roll with a slight Stoner Rock approach. It reminds me a lot of TURBONEGRO, HELLACOPTERS… This definitely rocks big time and it would not surprise me if this is big in Norway, because the band sings in their own language, which makes it hard to understand for 6 billion people in the world, but still it rocks very well and therefore it gets a high rating!

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

NIGHTSCAPE ‘SYMPHONY OF THE NIGHT’ (LION MUSIC/BERTUS)

Formed a couple years ago this Swedish band is making their debut with the album ‘Symphony of the night’. It’s nice to see LION MUSIC signing so many new bands, but sometimes they forget to sing quality instead of quantity. Happily, this NIGHTSCAPE sounds like another new sensation, but that isn’t a big surprise if you’re coming out of Sweden, a country which brings us nothing but great bands. This NIGHTSCAPE is not exception, because their first CD contains lovely high class clean Melodic Metal with very strong vocals (in typical Swedish tradition, although reminding me of TOMMY SHAW of STYX in a song like “Home”). Put this band to other recent new Swedish Melodic Metal sensations such as TIMELESS MIRACLE, MAJESTIC VANGUARD and 7 SINS. How much more are there out there? A great record which is always nice to have a listen to, because songs like “Haunted hill”, “Merlin” and “Symphony of the night” are all very strong uptempo Melodic Metal pieces that might borrow a lot from classic 80s HELLOWEEN and some MALMSTEEN here and there, but still show how this can be done in a very sensational way. Only negative thing is that it seems the first couple of songs are much better than the rest of the CD, because towards the end of the CD it gets a bit less sensational, with some average songs here and there like “Rage divine” and “Curse and damnation”. Nevertheless, recommended to fans of typical Swedish Melodic (Power) Metal!

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

FORTY DEUCE ‘NOTHING TO LOSE’ (FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

RITCHIE KOTZEN has found a home within FRONTIERS RECORDS for his new project FORTY DEUCE on which he does not only play guitar (very well), but also sings quite good in a sort of classic PAUL RODGERS meets GLENN HUGHES style. Besides Ritchie a few Japanese musicians complete FORTY DEUCE, but everything is focused around Ritchie of course. I think this FORTY DEUCE album is the man’s finest release in years. The music sounds modern, yet with a strong retro classic rock feeling. The music is very melodic and maybe a comparison to HAREM SCAREM is not that crazy I think, because catchy melodic rockers like “Stand up”, “I still”, “Complicated” and “Say” are songs that will be enjoyed for sure by fans of HAREM SCAREM. Modern Melodic Rock which is catchy, updated and still reminding of the past, all to be heard on the first CD of FORTY DEUCE.

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

MAJESTIC VANGUARD ‘BEYOND THE MOON’ (METAL HEAVEN)

A new sensation from Sweden. The band is called MAJESTIC VANGUARD and they are about to release their debut CD on METAL HEAVEN. They play pure European Melodic (Power) Metal that is focused on strong melodies. Of course it is not original, but what they do is very impressive, because the 10 included songs are all very sensational Melodic Metal pieces. The band has a very good lead singer (Peter Sigfridsson), who has that typical Swedish vocal style, which is a very melodic clean way of singing. Songs like “Emotions of a picture”, “Don’t want to be an actor” and “Take me home” are very sensational uptempo Melodic Metal tunes. With MAJESTIC VANGUARD we have another new Swedish Metal sensation that can be put next to all the others (DREAM EVIL, NOCTURNAL RITES, HAMMERFALL, NOSTRADAMEUS…).

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

FLAGSHIP ‘MAIDEN VOYAGE’ (METAL HEAVEN)

Vocalist CHRISTIAN RIVEL has another new band with a CD release. The man behind bands like NARNIA, WISDOM CALL, AUDIOVISION, DIVINE FIRE and others formed FLAGSHIP in order to express his 70s roots. Comparisons to STYX, QUEEN and KANSAS are being made for this FLAGSHIP album, but I think this has something to do with the harmonyvocals, because the music is slightly heavier. Maybe we should call it therefore Melodic Pomp Metal. Whatever you want to call it, the 6 long songs on the debut CD of FLAGSHIP are quite good and deliver strong Melodic Metal meets Pomprock harmonyvocals. Highlights are “Heart is the center’, “You are” and “Hold on to your dream”, but a worthy mention of closing track “Ground zero” is also necessary, because after all we can hear on this particular song a guitar solo from KERRY LIVGREN (ex-KANSAS. He is one of Christian’s heroes, so the cover of this KERRY LIVGREN song from 1980 was put on this CD of FLAGSHIP, which even resulted in a guest appearance of Kerry. Better check this CD out if you want to hear a heavier approach to classic 70s Pomprock.

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

SYMPHORCE ‘GODSPEED’ (METAL BLADE RECORDS)

The German Power Metal band SYMPHORCE return with another very strong record, which somehow proves that this band gets better with every new release. The first 3 songs (“Everlasting life”, “No shelter” and “Nowhere”) hit like a hammer, all very strong songs that combine very heavy groovy Metal riffs with superb melodic vocalwork and catchy memorable choruses. This is a great mix of classic 80s US Power Metal and Modern sounding groovy Metal riffs, although these riffs are actually borrowed from classic 70s BLACK SABBATH. It gets a little bit less melodic on the next few songs, but after a few listens to the whole album it becomes clear that this new SYMPHORCE record is another great true Melodic Metal record. Then I wonder if anyone who is about to buy the new DISTURBED album can easily buy this new SYMPHORCE record as well, because the 2 records are in the exact same style actually. Sadly that will probably not happen, which results in a difference of a couple of million records sold in favour of DISTURBED.

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

SUBWAY TO SALLY ‘NORD NORD OST’ (NUCLEAR BLAST RECORDS)

This band is huge in Germany and I completely understand, because they play an original mix of German lyrics, medieval Folk Music, Classic Metal and modern Metal guitar riffs. Imagine a mix of MANOWAR, WITHIN TEMPTATION, RAMMSTEIN and 18th century medieval European Folk and you’re pretty close to the sound of SUBWAY TO SALLY. The band has already released a lot of records, and I believe their latest ‘Nord nord ost’ is their 10th record. Without a doubt, this is a very strong record, which contains 10 songs, of which the midtempo “Feuerland”, “S.O.S.” and “Eisblumen” are all a very strong mix of Classic Melodic Metal and Folk, while also a great song is the uptempo Melodic Power Metal tune “Sieben”, which happens to be the most cathy song on the whole CD. There is no problem at all that the lyrics are in German and I find this SUBWAY TO SALLY much better than the industrial sounds of RAMMSTEIN. I can even recommend it to MANOWAR fans, who might find something of interest here, but like I mentioned, this is a very diverse original band that deliver yet another great CD that might appeal to lots of different musicfans, so better check it out asap.

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

EDGUY ‘SUPERHEROES EP’ (NUCLEAR BLAST RECORDS)

EDGUY returns with a new EP, which shows the band in a similar mood as the previous CD ‘The hellfire club’, so classic 80s Melodic Heavy Rock/Metal with as artwork a lot of cartoonish (KISS style) paintings of the bandmembers. 6 new songs are included on the EP, which is quite a lot for just an EP. Tobias and co. have listened carefully to 80s classics of GARY MOORE and MAGNUM, because the first 2 songs (“Superheroes” and “Spooks in the attic”) are both very strong catchy uptempo Melodic Heavy Rockers in the style of GARY MOORE’s classic “Out in the fields”, while “The spirit” is the cover of the ultimate MAGNUM classic from 1982. The other songs are a calm epic version of the titletrack, a semi-ballad called “Blessing in disguise” and the best song of the whole EP, the uptempo Melodic Power Metal tune “Judas at the opera”, a 7 minutes counting epic that also features on vocals the legendary MICHAEL KISKE (ex-HELLOWEEN/PLACE VENDOME). Fine return and we now only have to wait for the new full-length CD, which will probably show that EDGUY is one of the better sounding bands from Germany today.

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

CRYSTAL BALL ‘TIME WALKER’ (NUCLEAR BLAST RECORDS)

Another new CD of the Swiss Melodic Hardrockband CRYSTAL BALL. Nothing new on the horizon and maybe a bit too focused on playing classic late 80s big time sounding Melodic Hardrock/Metal in the best German style (read: VICTORY, RESTLESS, ACCEPT, SINNER, UDO) instead of writing real classics. I am not saying this is a bad record, but it’s just that none of the 11 included songs do make a lasting impression. The songs go in one ear and out the other and with songtitles like “Tear down the wall’, “The eye of the storm” and “Talking to the walls” you simply can not call this an original release. However, if you want to hear a record that sounds like if it was recorded in 1987, this new CRYSTAL BALL might appeal to you, but it doesn’t have the charm of the classic 80s VICTORY records.

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

DREAM ARIA ‘IN THE WAKE’ (INDEPENDENT)

Original band from Canada, because they have a sort of own style on their CD ‘In the wake’, which is a sort of experimental progressive rockstyle that features the vocals of female singer Ann Burstyn. I think the band is trying to combine classy progressive rock with ambient music, which sometimes work, but not always. For example, a song like “Snapshot” is a very nice semi-ballad that has a great strong melodic chorus, but on the other hand a few songs like “Blue lady” (breakbeat!) and “Pacis” have a disco-beat, which sounds really annoying and that’s a pity, because DREAM ARIA surely proves they can make good music. Other songs that have a normal progressive rock kinda approach are “Promise”, “11th hour”, “Raindrops” and “Spanish nights” (reminding me of QUEEN OF SPADES if anyone actually remembers that band), all very good songs, but the band scores a lower rating due to the use of a disco/breakbeat in a few songs, which I hope on a next record will be left out. Recommended to the open-minded progfans, who don’t mind a little Ambient Music into their Prog. More info at: http://www.dreamaria.com  and e-mail them at: dstagg@cogeco.ca 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

AIDEN ‘NIGHTMARE ANATOMY’ (VICTORY RECORDS)

Another new band on the horizon which is playing that typical US Nu-Beed Punkrockstyle. Actually AIDEN combine Screamo-Core, Emo-Core and Punkrock with classic Metal (MAIDEN) guitar riffs (only the riffs are a bit Metalish!!!) and Melodic Rock choruses. A song like “The last sunrise” on their 2nd CD ‘Nightmare anatomy” exactly shows how this works best. The band is comparable to MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE and AFI, although I am not that familiar with those bands myself, but you can best keep it on the description I made earlier in this review. 11 songs are on the CD, and songs like “Die romantic”, “The last sunrise”, “Genetic design of dying” and “This city is far from here” are all easy targets for the American market because it combines Punk with strong melodic choruses, or will the US be fed up with this kind of Rock and long back to classic Metal such as we have heard on the new DISTURBED record, who knows what the next trend will be…

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

NINETNINE ‘FEED YOUR APPETITE’ (LISTENING LOUNGE MUSIC)

Here’s a sensational new band from Austria. They are called NINETNINE (99) and they released a very impressive CD titled ‘Feed your appetite’, which happens to sound very professional and besides a CD with 10 own songs, there’s also a 2nd disc which is a DVD about the making of the CD. All together a nicely impressive package from this Austrian band. They play a slightly modern approach of catchy big time 80s Melodic Hardrock, so you hear a mix of DEF LEPPARD harmonyvocals, WHTIE LION kinda choruses and some more modern Nu-Breed type of guitars (think GOO GOO DOLLS. In the end, this CD will definitely appeal to the Melodic Rockfans out there. Songs like “I want you now”, “Anyway”, “Chance” and “Just let me know” are all very catchy Melodic Rocksongs with a slight modern American approach. If you liked the WALTHAM and 7TH HEAVEN CDs, you are definitely gonna love this record of NINETNINE as well. More info at: http://www.ninetnine.com  and e-mail them at: booking@ninetnine.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

DANIELLE MCKEE ‘TWELVE’ (GROOVE HOUSE RECORDS)

DANIELLE MCKEE is a Canadian singer/songwriter who releases her debut CD with ‘Twelve’, but actually it sounds like this girl has been making music for a few decades, because the CD sounds bloody impressive. Danielle did tour with NELLY FURTADO a couple years and on her fist CD she is helped by guitarist MIKE K. (of ELTON JOHN and NELLY FURTADO fame). Together they have created something very good, which could easily end up high in the charts worldwide. Comparisons to KELLY CLARKSON and SOFIA can easily be made. The CD is filled with 12 songs that represent a very melodic radiofriendly poprock/aor sound which is most of the time midtempo and besides the modern comparisons I can also recommend it to anyone who digs classic 80s female fronted aor/poprock, because the CD of Danielle is bringing back good strong melodies into the poprockworld. Songs like “I’ll be there”, “Over you” and “Not today” and the uptempo “Let me” are all very catchy radio-ready Melodic Poprocksongs. Without a doubt, this is an absolute hit-record! Better check it out asap at: http://www.daniellemckee.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

ROCKARMA ‘ROCKARMA’ (ROCKELLY MUSIC)

Remember the classic late 80s US Arena Melodic Hardrocksound which brought us bands like DANGER DANGER, MELIDIAN, AUTOGRAPH, FIREHOUSE, SLAUGHTER, etc. etc.? Well, guess what, there are still some great bands out there playing this fun rocking style, such as the Canadian band ROCKARMA, whom have their debut CD produced by none-other than BILL LEVERTY of FIREHOUSE. The songs are straight-ahead, catchy and reminding of the good old late 80s when fun and rock went hand in hand. 10 cuts made it on the album, which has it’s highlights in such catchy uptempo melodic rockers like “Feel like I’m falling” and “The other side” as well as the very smooth radio ballad “Honestly”, which is sugarsweet as the old STRYPER song, but still has something that makes you listen to it with a smile on your face. Highly recommended to fans of 80s DOKKEN, DANGER DANGER, FIREHOUSE, HEAVEN’S EDGE and basically anyone who misses the old MTV Hair Metal days when hairspray, harmonyvocals, catchy hooks, melodic choruses, fun, girls and rock all went together in one melting pot! More info at: http://www.rockarma.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

THE IRON MAIDENS ‘WORLD’S ONLY FEMALE TRIBUTE TO IRON MAIDEN’ (DRZ RECORDS)

Here’s the ultimate Tribute to IRON MAIDEN in the shape of 5 women! These 5 female musicians decided to form a band and pay tribute to one of the most influential Metalbands of all times (IRON MAIDEN). They have created something very impressive, because the tribute CD sounds quite awesome. The song choice is mainly focused on the real Classic Maiden songs from the 1980-1986 period, which was of course MAIDEN at it’s very best. We all know the songs and I am quite sure anyone will be singing along when visiting a concert of these MAIDENS! The covered songs are “The number of the beast”, “Two minutes to midnight”, “Children of the damned”, “The trooper”, “Wasted years”, “Killers”, “Aces high”, “Phantom of the opera”, “Run to the hills” and “Hallowed be thy name”. All covered very well by these MAIDENS, both instrumental and vocally. Further info I can add here is that the band features 3 PHANTOM BLUE members and the cover painting of the CD cover was done by DEREK RIGGS, who also painted the original MAIDEN cover sleeves. Better check out the female version of IRON MAIDEN asap at: http://www.theironmaidens.com  and e-mail at: booking@theironmaidens.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

MAGGI, PIERCE AND E.J. ‘MORGEN, MITTAG, NACHT’ (EMP RECORDS)

Now time for something completely different. This is a sort of project/band from Philadelphia, USA with a CD release that is divided in 3 parts on 3 different CDs. Musically it is an adventure that contains influences from late 60s Hippie/Flower Power and 70s Classic Rock. The CDs are titled ‘Morgen’, ‘mittag’ and ‘nacht’, which is German for Morning, Afternoon and Night. It is a concept for sure, but I haven’t looked too deep into this, so I stick to the music style. The CDs count only 30 minutes each, so why they haven’t put it out as a 2-CD set is not really clear to me, but musically the Mittag and Nacht CDs are much more interesting, as they rock pretty good. The songs are split with female and male vocals, where I prefer the male vocals who sings some good PINK FLOYD type of songs instead of the more modern sounding female fronted rocksongs. The idea of the concept is to start very slow (and mainly acoustic), rock a bit more during the afternoon and rock very hard during the night part, so these 3 moods verify the 3 separate CDs which are released in a package put out by this 3-piece band called MAGGI, PIERCE and E.J. Sometimes experimental, sometimes poppy, sometimes pure early 70s Flower Power and at other times rocking like a modern rockband. It’s a mix of everything and is only suitable for people who don’t mind their rock to sound a bit experimental and challenging. More info at: http://www.mpeband.com  and e-mail at: mpeband@aol.com 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

DAWN OF SILENCE ’LOST ALL HOPE’ (INDEPENDENT)

In the past I reviewed some demos of this band, but here we have an official mini-CD of the Swedish band DAWN OF SILENCE. 6 tracks are included and it definitely is a quality recording which shows that this young band has a promising future. The band is getting better and better every time, playing classic 80s melodic heavy rock/metal like a mix between MAIDEN, EDGUY and PINK CREAM 69. Most of the songs are uptempo catchy sing-a-long melodic heavy rockers that combine the classic guitarsound of MAIDEN with the catchy choruses of EDGUY. Although this band is still in the independent scene, I think in a few years they can become the next sensational Swedish band to deliver a high class full-length CD. For now their demos/independent CD releases are already worth listening if you enjoy Melodic Metal. More info at: http://www.dawnofsilence.tk  and e-mail at: dawn_of_silence@hotmail.com  

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

BODRAGAZ ‘CLEAR’ (FOX ST. RECORDS)

About 10 years ago this Denver based Hardrock/Metal band was formed and in that period they managed to release 4 full-length CDs, most of which we also reviewed. Now they are about to release their 5th CD titled ‘Clear’. It is definitely one of their heaviest and perhaps strongest releases so far. The band is now clearly making pure Progressive Metal with DREAM THEATER influences in songs like “Clear”, “Love design”, “The hard way” and “Strange fascination” (by far the best song, a very catchy strong uptempo Melodic Metal Masterpiece!). This is typical US Progressive Metal, mixing dark moody guitar riffs with melodic vocals and memorable choruses. It’s maybe not as good as for example DREAM THEATER and SHADOW GALLERY, it definitely captures that big Progressive Metal sound which is so typical for American bands. The vocals are a bit rough in places, but the melodies and musicianship in each of the 10 included songs is of a very high level. Better check it out asap if you call yourself a Progmetalfan! More info at: http://www.bodragaz.com  and e-mail at: bodrasound@aol.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

MOONSHADOW ‘HOTTER THAN YOU THINK!’ (INDEPENDENT)

Glamrock from Brazil as if it was still 1986 LA Sunset Strip Boulevard, but we are in the year 2005 and MOONSHADOW, of whom we reviewed demos in the past that made them sound like a plain hardrockband. Now they make a return with a complete professional sounding full length CD, which contains catchy classy 80s Melodic Glamrock. Vocally a bit disappointing, but some of the 9 included songs are really great nevertheless, such as ‘You’re mine” (as catchy and fun as POISON sounded 20 years ago!), “Last nite” (a ballad with rather good vocals) and “I will never cry” that all sound like POISON when they had hired a real guitarist instead of CC DEVILLE, but then again they had RITCHIE KOTZEN in their line-up for sometime. Anyway, what I want to make clear here is that this band surely know how to play, because their guitarist sounds pretty awesome. He could have been in a Metalact, however, this is the Brazilian band MOONSHADOW and their Melodic Glamrock will definitely appeal to people who were wondering if there were still releases along the lines of POISON, JOHNNY LIMA, SHY TIGER, ATTRACTION, PRETTY BOY FLOYD and whatever these bands were all called. Better check it out if you are one of those Hairspray Metalfans who long back to the glorious 80s LA Metaldays! More info at: http://www.moonshadow.com.br 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

PRODUCT ‘THE FIRE’ (CYCLOPS RECORDS)

Here’s a typical British Progressive Rock PRODUCT. PRODUCT is consisting of 2 members, ARMAN CHRISTOFF BOYLES (vocalist/guitarist/keyboardplayer) and SCOTT RADER (drums, bass) with a little help from female singers Marianna Beronski and Michela Martini-Todd as backing vocalists. The CD is divided in 2 acts and concentrates on calmer classic Progressive Rock with some experimental moves, but in the end sits nicely in a classic PINK FLOYD style. Without a doubt, this is one of those CDs that will be loved by the fans of pure Progressive Rock, because that’s what we basically can hear on this 60 minutes counting CD which has been released on CYCLOPS RECORDS. From start to finish this is how progressive rock should sound and is one of those CDs you have to live and learn…

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

DOOMFOXX ‘DOOMFOXX’ (ARMAGEDDON MUSIC/ROCK INC)

With Australian roots behind them, this new band offers typical AC/DC, ROSE TATTOO, THE ANGELS… type of Australian rough raw original Hardrock. It sounds refreshing in a world dominated by either catchy poprock or noisy nu-metal (if we look at the charts!), because DOOMFOXX is all about back to the roots, simple basic 70s one guitar riff driven Hardrock. Not original and sometimes boring, but nevertheless refreshing and nice to hear every once in a while. Still the songs go in one ear and out the other, something which also happened with all those other AC/DC soundalikes in the past (read: KINGS OF THE SUN, DIRTY LOOKS and the 90s records of KROKUS), so actually a record which is only interesting if any of the mentioned bands is something you play all of your spare time. Otherwise, this CD will go unnoticed due to it’s simple approach of all original Hardrock.

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

SPELLBOUND ‘INCOMING DESTINY’ (ARMAGEDDON MUSIC/ROCK INC)

Where did I see that name before? Well, of course SPELLBOUND was that awesome 80s Swedish melodic hardrockband that just wanted to sound better than DOKKEN did in their heydays and actually I am still very interested knowing if by chance their old records will ever be re-issued properly onto CD. Anyway, this is a complete different SPELLBOUND, hailing from Germany and playing typical late 80s Bay Area Thrash Metal in the style of EXODUS, FORBIDDEN, ANTHRAX, METALLICA, TESTAMENT, DESTRUCTION, DEATH ANGEL, DARK ANGEL… Done very well, highly recommended to fans of the genre, but boring after a while, so be aware for this SPELLBOUND, but still not bad at all, just too much of the same kind of stuff to listen to for 40 minutes…

(Points: 7.6 out of 10)

TERROR 2000 ‘TERROR FOR SALE’ (SCARLET RECORDS/BERTUS)

The Swedish Metalband TERROR 2000 offers the kind of Metal which would do very well in the USA I think, because it is aggressive, heavy, modern and fast, kinda like SLAYER, SYSTEM OF A DOWN and SOILWORK (members of this band even make appearances on this CD). ‘Terror for sale’ is the band’s 3rd album and if you’re familiar with this band you know what to expect. It does sound surprisingly quite good, despite the fact we are listening here to a modern mix of Thrash Metal, Modern Aggressive Metal and Nu Metal. It’s not a melodic album at all, but you can definitely hear it is a quality record that shows that Thrash Metal can sound good, despite the fact it sounds aggressive all the time. Good to see the gang vocal choruses back, because that’s what made Bay Area Thrash Metal such a popular style 15+ years ago with ANTHRAX as most popular act. This should not only attract fans of the old style, but also the so-called SOILWORK/SYSTEM OF A DOWN fans will like this a lot probably…

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

PERSUADER ‘THE HUNTER’ (DOCKYARD/ROCK INC)

I might be wrong here, but I believe I did review a CD of the band PERSUADER in the past, but at the moment while typing this review I don’t have any info on PERSUADER. As for the music, it’s a nice mix of typical European Melodic Metal and some Thrashy Power Metal, kinda like a mix between IRON MAIDEN, ICED EARTH and BLIND GUARDIAN. 11songs are included, mostly uptempo and it all sounds well, although it’s basically another record that will disappear in the incredible huge amount of similar Melodic Power Metal releases done each month. Vocally not super strong, but good enough to make you listen to the CD for a while, especially since some of the songs are rather catchy (“Cursed”). An album you might want to check if you’re one of those die-hard Melodic Power Metal fans, but it’s not a sensational record like the similar sounding debut of SAVAGE CIRCUS.

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

PETER AND THE TEST TUBE BABIES ‘A FOOT FULL OF BULLETS’ (LOCOMOTIVE MUSIC/BERTUS)

This is how classic Oi! Punk Rock’n’roll needs to sound! It’s like time stood still and we are back in the late 70s/early 80s, but that’s not such a wonder, because we are listening to the new CD of PETER AND THE TEST TUBE BABIES, the legendary UK band that has been making this kind of music for over 25 years now. Huge surprise is the fact that their new CD has been released on the Metal label LOCOMOTIVE MUSIC. Happily, this world is all about bringing forward classy Rock and Roll and that’s basically what we can hear on ‘A foot full of bullets’. Despite a few experimental songs here and there on the CD (“Ye olde Pub Rocker”, “Haves and have nots” and “All about love”) most of this CD is filled with the kind of Oi! Punk Rock that will impress any young punk from the USA who only knows about GOOD CHARLOTTE and DROPKICK MURPHYS. Just listen to songs like “My unlucky day”, “Driven to beers”, “Smiling through the tears” (an absolute hymn for all UK Soccerfans!) and “Traffic jam man”. Although the CD is not strong all the way, it still offers some very nice classic Oi! Punk Rock moments…

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

THE CARPET KNIGHTS ‘LOST AND SO STRANGE IS MY MIND’ (TRANSUBSTANS RECORDS)

A rather original band this THE CARPET KNIGHTS from Sweden, because they play like if it was 1969. Their mix of late 60s Garage Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Folk and some slight Prog (not much though) sounds very well, although it has not many links to the usual stuff we review. Nevertheless, I think the open-minded Progfan might find something of interest in here, because this kind of music was also the starting point for PINK FLOYD in the late 60s. The fact that they hail from Sweden is making this band even more interesting I think, because it all sounds so much like if it was created in the late 60s by a band from the UK, but no, we are listening to a new band which you may want to check out at: http://www.thecarpetknights.nu 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

LULLACRY ‘VOLUME 4’ (CENTURY MEDIA/THE ELECTRIC CO.)

The Finnish female fronted Melodic Heavy Rockband LULLACRY returns with their 4th CD so far, which once again sounds better than their previous effort. With every album, this band seems to get better. This time there’s a great mix of radio-ready melodic rockers and heavier melodic close-to-metal type of songs. The gothic influences can hardly be heard, although nobody can deny the typical Finnish rock/metalsound approach of the CD (in a similar HIM/THE RASMUS type of way sometimes, but then a bit heavier). The band seems to be at their best during the radio-friendly uptempo melodic poprockers such as “Perfect tonight”, “Stranger in you” and the fantastic catchy “I want you”, although a song like “Heart shaped scars” is also a very sensational song which even reveals clear 80s AOR influences (think ROBIN BECK). Like I already mentioned, there’s also some heavier material to be found such as the very fast GIRLSCHOOL orientated “Fire within” and closing track “Zero”. One thing is certain and that’s the fact that this new LULLACRY album is a very strong album that might bring together fans of different genres (melodic rock, metal, gothic and anyone who likes female vocals), so a recommended piece definitely!

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

GOD FORBID ‘4: CONSTITUTION’ (CENTURY MEDIA/THE ELECTRIC CO.)

A mix of Brutal Nu-Metal, Aggressive Thrash Metal and Hardcore can be heard on the 4th CD of the American band GOD FORBID. In their home country quite successful and probably very interesting if bands like FEAR FACTORY, SLIPKNOT, KORN, CHIMAIRA, etc. are your favorites. However, despite some nice guitar riffs, the CD basically misses good strong melodies and is therefore only interesting for fans of mentioned bands.

(Points: 6.0 out of 10)

GYPSY ‘PROMO’ (CDR)

This is a 5-track CDR of a new band from Bradford, UK called GYPSY. Maybe not an originl name for a band, but musically they present us a good deal of 80s AOR/Melodic Rock. It sometimes reminds me a lot of ACE LANE and RAGE (not the German band!), if anyone remembers those UK acts from the early 80s. The CDR is a sneak preview of their upcoming CD and with great catchy AOR/Melodic Rockers like “I don’t want you”, “Back to you” (a la THE PROMISE) and “Riding with the wind” under their belts, this is a band to watch out for. If only they could come up with a better production, then this could well be a great new addition for the AOR/Melodic Rock community! More info at: http://www.Gypsy-Rock.com  

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

CONXIOUS ‘NEVER BEFORE NEVER AGAIN’ (INDEPENDENT)

The Austrian Progressive Rockband CONXIOUS returns with a new CD, which is their 3rd CD in almost 15 years. It reminds me a lot of the Dutch Progbands (FOR ABSENT FRIENDS, RICOCHER, NICE BEAVER, CLIFFHANGER) and a bit of EVERON. Without a doubt, the new CD is a very good high quality record that combines strong melodies with a good progressive rockbeat backing it up. Definitely a band to check out if you like Melodic Progressive Rock. More info at: http://www.conxious.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

BACKYARD BABIES ‘TINNITUS’ (CENTURY MEDIA/ELECTRIC CO)

The Swedish band BACKYARD BABIES was formed in the late 80s as a response to bands like GUNS’N’ROSES and LA GUNS, but throughout the 90s they developed their own style which is a combination of late 80s Sleazy Hardrock, Classic Melodic Heavy Rock, Punkrock and good old Rock’n’Roll. While listening to their albums you can hear influences from bands like RAMONES, GUNS’N’ROSES, LA GUNS, SEX PISTOLS, MOTLEY CRUE, HANOI ROCKS, STOOGES, BILLY IDOL, CULT, NEW YORK DOLLS… simply said this is how raw rock and roll should sound like. The band has already released a bunch of CDs and are extremely popular in their home country Sweden, where their albums peak the charts and also this upcoming new CD will probably become a big seller in Sweden, because it sounds very impressive, as if you’re listening to a band from the USA. This actually sounds better than VELVET REVOLVER and BRIDES OF DESTRUCTION. Without a doubt, this band has reached the high level needed to survive in the rock business. Any rockfan will absolutely love this record, which has it’s highlights in songs like “Brand new hate”, “A song for the outcast”, “Minus Celsius”, “The clash” and “Look at you”. The CD comes along with a bonus CD, which contains a performance of the band in Paris. Recommended to any Rockfan out there!

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

VARIOUS ARTISTS ‘THE IRON FORCE CHAPTER 1’ (RISESTAR MUSIC & PROMOTIONS)

Out Of Chile a compilation CD arrived with bands from all over the world playing mostly classic 80s type of Metal. Most of the bands are very much settled in the underground scene, so you will not recognize them, although a few have released CDs. However, most of the bands are circulating in the demo scene, but nevertheless there are some very interesting bands among them. 17 songs are included of in total 13 bands and like I said the music is mostly classic Melodic Metal with a touch of today’s Power Metal (European style). MAIDEN and HELLOWEEN are clear influences for most of the bands. First band is TOXIC VIRGIN, a German Melodic Progressive Metal band of whom we reviewed a few CDs and their included song here ‘Evil days” is a good example of what they also did on their regular CDs. Straight into the MAIDEN meets HELLOWEEN style of South America with the band BLODEN WEDD from Chile, whom deliver a great fast uptempo Melodic Power Metal song, although it sounds like a demo with a bad production. The band HYBERNIA from Spain follows and deliver a good strongly produced midtempo Melodic Progressive Metal with Spanish lyrics. Not all American bands are sensational, because KNIGH deliver an average piece of groovy Melodic Heavy Rock with a 70s twist on their song “Too late” which has some very average vocals. Up next is a Finnish band called COLD SWEAT, and although their song “Heavy streets” is not as good as all the other bands from that country, it still is a nice uptempo melodic heavy rocker with sadly weaker vocals. Next band is DELTA from Chile, a band mixing 80s Melodic Metal of WASP with today’s Italo Power Metal a la LABYRINTH and a lot of keys, nicely done and maybe something to watch out for in the future. From Germany comes the ban MEDUSA’S CHILD of whom we also reviewed a CD release. Musically typical German Melodic Metal a la EDGUY and AXXIS can be heard on their song “Center of the dark”. Then the first female fronted band, namely the Finnish band BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, whom are featured with a great uptempo Melodic Goth Power Metal song titled “My bleeding scars”, definitely one of the better songs included on this CD. Then we get to hear a song from a Greek band called IN HEAVEN, another female fronted act, with a similar kinda sound as BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, yet with some male growls as well. A surprise from Syria is the band THE HOURGLASS, whom deliver good 80s melodic power metal, yet the sound quality is a bit weak, but for a band from that area definitely good enough to keep an eye open for in the future. TRIOXIA from Italy has a weak singer, although their song “The eternal return” is a nice Melodic Progressive Metalsong. The US band AESTHESIA and the German band THE PHARAOS are the only bands to deliver more than 1 song on this compilation. AESTHESIA is playing 80s US Party Melodic Hardrock like SKID ROW and VAN HALEN on their 2 included songs, while THE PHARAOS deliver 4 songs of average Thrash Metal. Anyway, nice compilation CD with a variety of styles included from very unknown bands all over the world. More info at: http://www.risestar.cl

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

SILVER ‘GOLD’ (MTM MUSIC/SUBURBAN)

I can’t believe it is already the 5th CD of the band/project SILVER, but ‘Gold’ is really the 5th album the duo MICHAEL VOSSS and GARY BARDEN deliver and sadly once again I have to conclude that it is not a sensational album at all. I do not really understand why there’s so much to do with this release, because ‘Gold’ is nothing more than an average Melodic Rockalbum. It’s a mix of heavier 80s Hardrock (a la VICTORY) and more experimental calmer melodic pop/rock. Songs like “Wouldn’t you agree”, “Joshua”(catchy), “Golden days”, “Save me” and “Daydream believers” are all nice Melodic Rocksongs, but still I miss something here. It just doesn’t click… It might be the vocalwork of Gary, which just isn’t that strong and keeps reminding me of GRAHAM BONNETT (another overrated singer). Why didn’t Michael sing a few songs and also the female guest singer on a couple of songs sounds quite good, but sadly doesn’t sing any real lead vocal parts. It’s not a bad album, but compared to the classic 80s melodic rockalbums from the past this SILVER doesn’t stand a chance at all. Only for the die-hard Melodic Rockfans!

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

MEDUSA’S CHILD ‘MIND COHESION’ (RISESTAR PROMOTIONS)

Good strong Melodic Metal is what we get to hear from this German band. Their CD ‘Mind cohesion’ contains that typical German Metal sound a la EDGUY and AXXIS. It all sounds quite good, although lead singer DC CROW sings with a big accent, but happily the music and production of their 2nd CD ‘Mind cohesion’ is of a high level. 10 songs are included and I think any EDGUY fan will like songs such as “Mother earth”, “Eye of fire” and “”Center of the dark”, all typical Teutonic Melodic Metal songs. Exception is the ballad “Tears of the wolf”, which is a pure melodic rockballad with some very nice twin-guitarwork during the solo and a typical SCORPIONS chorus. Not a sensational release, but fans of this typical German Melodic Metal (a la VETO, EDGUY, TOX, SATROX, STORMWITCH, AXXIS, ANGEL HEART…) will easily love the new CD of MEDUSA’S CHILD. More info at: http://www.risestar.cl

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

TWILIGHT ODYSSEY ‘TWILIGHT ODYSSEY’ (RISESTAR PROMOTIONS)

The US band TWILIGHT ODYSSEY has released a record which sounds like if it was 1985 all over again, which would not be a bad thing at all actually, but it is 2005 and I will understand if some people will call this a dated sounding release. However, it sounds damn good because the debut album of this band has that typical mid 80s female fronted heavier melodic metal sound which could also be heard on the first couple of WARLOCK records as well as on records by BITCH, BETSY, LADY SABRE and the absolute best comparison I can come up with is the band SACRED CHILD, if anyone remembers them! This means we get to hear 60 minutes of classic 80s guitar orientated Melodic Heavy Rock with strong high pitched female vocals, which has it’s highlights in the songs “The endless days of a stranger’, “Onward to the games” and “Gettysburg”. Definitely an album to check out if you long back to the days when girls were fronting pure Heavy Metalbands instead of the current Gothic Bombasticbands. More info at: http://www.risestar.cl 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

PENDRAGON ‘BELIEVE’ (SPV/BERTUS)

After waiting for several years the legendary UK Neo-Progband PENDRAGON returns with a new CD entitled ‘Believe’. No dramatically music changes, although here and there the band threw in some slight other influences (World Music), but that’s only an addition to the wonderful Neo-Progressive Rocksound PENDRAGON has developed over the years. ‘Believe’ is basically another great typical PENDRAGON record filled with high class songs, such as the epic “The wishing well”, which is the best song on the CD, a challenging 10+ minutes counting epic divided in 4 parts. Also quite good are “Learning curve”, “Believe” and “The edge of the world” (with beautiful guitarwork). With a playing time of 50 minutes spread on 6 songs, this CD is another welcome for any Progfan. No real surprises this time, but who cares if the record itself is a great typical PENDRAGON album. I think this album is more a grower that gets better with every repeated listen. In the end it will turn out to be another great PENDRAGON record in the tradition of their previous releases. The only difference is that this time the band is more focused on the arrangements (acoustic guitar intro, long instrumental passages and minor other music influences) instead of a song based style (which was the case in the past sometimes). One way or the other, this new CD of PENDRAGON is an easy target for progfans!

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

WILLOWGLASS ‘WILLOWGLASS’ (INDEPENDENT)

UK Prog at it’s best! This is what WILLOWGLASS from Yorkshire is all about. It’s not a band, because actually WILLOWGLASS is a project based around multi-instrumentalist Andrew Marshall. He got a little help from drummer Dave Brightman, but basically Andrew did everything on his own (instruments, songwriting, producing and engineering). A talented man, who releases a great instrumental Progressive Rockalbum as WILLOWGLASS. It sounds a lot like IQ, yet without vocals. The songs are quite rich, with many keys, various guitarwork – even classical – and some flute here and there. Basically a dream for the fan of classic UK Neo-Prog. Recommended to fans of CAMEL, IQ, KAYAK… More info at: http://www.willowglass.net  and e-mail at: info@willowglass.net 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

NEKTAR ‘MAGIC IS A CHILD’ (ECLECTIC DISCS)

The UK/German band NEKTAR has always been a very interesting band, although they had their peak during the 1970s and most of us discovered them at a later stage, their records from the 1970s were quite important. Especially the past year(s) the UK label ECLECTIC DISCS has been doing a terrific job in re-issueing all the NEKTAR albums from the 1970s onto CD, with the addition of bonustracks and extensive liner notes and artwork. Nice to find out that NEKTAR was very popular in the USA with albums reaching very high chart positions. The band started as a very progressive rockband, owing much to YES, but after their departure to the USA in the mid 1970s they changed their style a bit. The latest release on ECLECTIC DISCS is the re-issue of the 1977 NEKTAR album ‘Magic is a child’, which saw the band moving into a more AOR/Pomprocksound, although it still could be classified as Progrock here and there, but influences from STYX, KANSAS, ANGEL and STARCASTLE were obvious. The remarkable cover artwork painting is giving this particular NEKTAR album a very interesting detail, because none-other than BROOKE SHIELDS (13 years old back then!) stood model for the artwork of this record. Musically I think the slight change into AOR/Pomprock wasn’t that bad actually, because NEKTAR still sounded very good, especially on songs like “Away from Asgard”, “Magic is a child”, “Love to share” (TOTOish AOR/Westcoast, absolutely nothing to do with prog) and “On the run” (with FOREIGNER type of chorus). The addition of 4 unreleased bonustracks and extensive liner notes and artwork is making this new NEKTAR re-issue another recommended CD in the growing collection of NEKTAR CDs. I wonder if the following albums of the band will also be re-issued, because after all, the band drifted more and more away from the progrock for which they are best known for.

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem) 

CLICK HERE FOR MORE NEW REVIEWS
GO TO THE REVIEWSINDEXPAGE
BACK TO HOMEPAGE