HOT NEW REVIEWS UPDATED ON MAY 22 - 2006

INNER WISH ‘INNER STRENGTH’ (LIMB MUSIC)

No cliché Power Metal, bombastic operatic Gothic Metal, but a fantastic classic 80s melodic Heavy Rock album by this Greek band. Sometimes INNER WISH is more Metal (“Gates of fire”), while at other times they sound like DOKKEN (“Dreamer of the night”) or even AORish like the superb MILLENIUM ish ballad “Never let you down”. Best comparisons are ROB ROCK, IMPELLITERRI and especially FIFTH ANGEL (“Can you feel the magic”). So a very diverse album with no fillers, great guitar work, superb vocals and a good production by the singer of MYSTIC PROPHECY Liapakis, which can be heard in the guitar riffs. Best Greek album in ages and it represents all the genres we most like at STRUTTER.

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)

ICARUS WITCH ‘CAPTURE THE MAGIC’ (REMEDY RECORDS/ROCK INC)

First full length album of this Epic US Metal band, which style is somewhere between HELSTAR and JAG PANZER, with some progressive influences. Especially in Germany they can become a real cult band as these bands are very popular and this band has a similar style, which can especially be heard in really good songs on this record like “Soothsayer” and “Awaken the mountain giants” which also features spectacular guitar work. So fans of 80s US Metal do not hesitate and buy this record! The limited edition contains the first EP, three cover songs and a cool video clip.

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

SABRINA KORVA ‘SABRINA KORVA’ (INDEPENDENT)

Out of Vancouver/Canada comes the Rock’n’Roll girl SABRINA KORVA who rocks like in the Classic 80s Ladies Rock style of LITA FORD, LENIA ERICKSON, DEWAY, LISA DOMINQUE, LEE AARON, DONNA CHRISTY, etc. The songs on her CD are most of the time very catchy melodic rockers with strong vocalwork of Sabrina. Highlights are the uptempo rockers “Someone else’s wife” and “In your face”. Fans of classic 80s female fronted melodic rock should check this out asap, not just because Sabrina looks very good, but also her music is very strong. More info at: http://www.sabrinakorva.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

VIIMA ‘AJATUKSIA MAAILMAN LAIDALTA’ (VIIMA RECORDS)

Finnish band with a very original sound on their first CD, which combines classic Medieval Folk with 70s Progressive Rock, ending up sounding like a mix between MOSTLY AUTUMN, RENAISSANCE and ENYA, very original and very impressive as well. The band sings in their own language, but I do think it is a great thing to finally hear a Finnish band doing something completely different. Especially recommended to fans of 70s Progressive Rock with very nice female vocals and huge keyboardsounds by the way. More info at: http://www.viima.fi and e-mail them at: mikko.uusi-oukari@utu.fi 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

ANTHERIUS ‘2006-01’ (DECURSUS MEDIA)

ANTHERIUS is a one-man’s band from Houston, Texas, USA. He is playing instrumental progressive Rock with influences from New Age and Electronic Music, giving it an own touch, although this is mainly a prog rock affair, yet without any vocals. Antherius does everything on his own and he does it quite well. The CD has recently been released and comparisons to TANGERINE DREAM are definitely possible. Better check it out if you’re interested at: http://www.antherius.com and http://www.decursus.com (funny note is that the album is titled 2006-01, but it was officially released in 2006-02 (February!))

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

DYONISOS ‘DYONISOS’ (MALS RECORDS)

Most of the music performed on the CD of the band DYONISOS is created by multi-instrumentalist DAN COWAN. The music is mainly instrumental, although there’s also enough vocalwork, so I would not call it an instrumental CD. The music is light calmer progressive rock in a PINK FLOYD style, but I think also fans of RIVERSIDE, PORCUPINE TREE and OZRIC TENTACLES might appreciate this CD a lot. More info at: http://www.soundclick.com/dyonisos  or http://www.mals.ru 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

SERGEY DUDIN ‘GUITAR BALLADS’ (MALS RECORDS)

Guitarist/keyboardplayer SERGEY DUDIN comes out of Russia and his CD is filled with nice semi-instrumental guitar orientated calmer melodic rockballads, some acoustic and some electric, as there is a balance somewhere in between. What I do heard were some beautiful guitar melodies a la NEAL SCHON during electric ballads like “Cassiopea”. This is not your standard guitar-shredding metal instrumental, but instead a well-thought instrumental guitar record where there are actually really beautiful melodies that make you want to pick up your own guitar and play it yourself as well. More info at: http://www.mals.ru 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

LITTLE TRAGEDIES ‘NEW FAUST’ (MUSEA/MALS RECORDS)

2-CD set from a Russian band formed over 10 years ago. Musically they are making (semi) instrumental symphonic progressive rock.metal mixed with classical music influences. They do it at a very high level, although vocally I have my doubts, because then it has that typical Russian style of singing. Nevertheless, all the long instrumental passages are for a progfan really worth hearing. More info at: http://www.mals.ru 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

SCOTT MOSHER ‘DEEP HORIZON’ (THE AMBIENT MIND)

4th CD of guitarist/keyboardplayer SCOTT MOSHER from New York. Once again the CD is filled with high class Melodic Progressive Rock/Metal with strong vocalwork from singer SCOTT OLIVA (WIND WRAITH singer). Hard to mention highlights, because the album is from start to finish quite sensational. This is a very impressive CD, no matter if you listen to “The breaking point” or “Falling down”, because most of the 10 included songs are high class prog metal in the THRESHOLD/VANDENPLAS vein, with excellent musicianship of multi-instrumentalist SCOTT MOSHER, who has been active with his solo recordings for 10 years now. Check out more info on his new CD ‘Deep horizon’ at: http://www.theambientmind.com and e-mail at: info@theambientmind.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

THE BUTTERFLY BALL ‘A FILM BY TONY KLINGER DVD’ (MUSIC VIDEO DISTRIBUTORS)

The legendary Children’s book ‘The butterfly ball’ was published in 1973 and successfully performed live on stage at the Royal Albert Hall on October 16, 1975, of which this DVD is the captured original performance with most of the musicians and singers whom also performed on the original album release of ROGER GLOVER. The only missing singer is RONNIE JAMES DIO, who of course sang the song everyone will remember (“Love is all”), so that was a bit of a shame, but nevertheless, the original performance on this DVD features such rock heroes like IAN GILLAN, GLENN HUGHES, DAVID COVERDALE, JOHN LAWTON and many others. 30 years later it stood the test of time and therefore this is one of those must-have DVDs in case you never saw the performance of ‘The butterfly ball’. The music was a mix of lots of styles, with QUEEN and DEEP PURPLE being close comparisons at times, but actually most of the time it was far more experimental going into pop, jazz or soul directions, but also bizarre doo-wa-doop could be seen and heard. The DVD is available through: http://www.mvdb2b.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

SOLAR PLEXUS ‘STRAFE MUSS SEIN’ (STF RECORDS)

This is the debut CD of the German band SOLAR PLEXUS, whom musically are playing a mix of RAMMSTEIN and HIM, yet without the melodic choruses, so more Industrial Goth Metal with german lyrics. There are also lots of Electronic Goth influences, with DEPECHE MODE influences, so actually this is more an Industrial Electro sort of Goth Pop/Rock thing, quite different than HIM, more akin to RAMMSTEIN. It’s not bad, but I miss strong melodies here I am afraid. More info at: http://www.stf-records.de  and the CD is available through: http://www.m-system.de 

(Points: 7.3 out of 10)

DEATH BY DAWN ‘ONE HAND ONE FOOT… AND A LOT OF TEETH’ (STF RECORDS)

New band featuring Dutch singer MARTIN VAN DRUNEN (ex-ASPHYX/PESTILENCE). Their CD ‘One hand…’ is filled with Death Metal unfortunately, so nothing of interest here for the melodic fans. Only interesting for PESTILENCE and DEATH METAL fans. More info at: http://www.stf-records.de and the CD is available through: http://www.m-system.de 

(Points: 6.3 out of 10)

HOUSE OF SHAKIRA ‘LIVE AT FIREFEST 2005 DVD’ (LION MUSIC/BERTUS)

Swedish melodic rockband HOUSE OF SHAKIRA has been going strong for over 15 years now and to celebrate their long-time career a DVD has been released, which contains their performance at the FIREFEST FESTIVAL in the UK on May 7th 2005. The concert takes only 40 minutes of the footage, which as bonus has 5 clips of the period (1989-1991) when they were called THE STATION. In total the DVD takes only 1 hour, so very short, but then again it is a very rare item, because which other smaller melodic rockband has a professional DVD out. HOUSE OF SHAKIRA performed a great show and the video footage from their early days is really nice to watch. Recommended to die-hard melodic rockcollectors, but not necessarily a must-have.

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

HAZERFAN ‘LOST NOWHERE’ (INDEPENDENT)

Original band mixing influences from Turkish music with classic hardrock/metal riffs. Of course this sounds not like any other band out there, which is a good thing for sure. The band has a female singer (BETH HADA) who indeed sounds like someone from the Middle East, while the guitarplaying is classic Hardrock orientated, with some BLACK SABBATH guitar riffs, but also JIMI HENDRIXish guitarwork. It all sounds quite impressive on all 9 songs on the CD, with most of the songs balancing in the same sort of style, which is midtempo and groovy. I can only recommend you to check out this original band from California at: http://www.hazerfan.com and e-mail them at: hazerfan1@yahoo.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

TYSTNADEN ‘SHAM OF PERFECTION’ (LIMB MUSIC/HARD LIFE PROMOTION)

It was already a big surprise that the band TYSTNADEN released their debut on LIMB MUSIC, because musically they are not the typical Classic Metal kinda band on LIMB MUSIC, but instead this band is playing high class fermale fronted Gothic Metal in the AFTER FOREVER style. It actually was a bigger surprise they were coming out of Italy, because with a bandname called TYSTNADEN you would think they were from Sweden or Norway, but they are an Italian band which are sometimes as good as their famous countrymen of LACUNA COIL. The band has a very strong female lead singer (Laura De Luca), while the songs are very catchy and radio-ready if you ask me, because the choruses of songs like “First embrace”, “Munchausen Syndrome” and “Tystnaden” are very sensational actually. This band came out of nowhere, releasing a very strong album, very much in the style of AFTER FOREVER, but they do it very well, so there’s no problem at all I guess if you have a superb release like this ‘Sham of perfection’.

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

WIG WAM ‘WIG WAMANIA’ (VOICES OF WONDER)

GOTTHARD and BONFIRE move over, here’s WIG WAM with the fantastic follow-up to their classic debut ‘Hard to be a rock’n’roller’. The Norwegian band took the world by storm last year with their performance at the Eurovision of their killer song “In my dreams”, while their album (a re-release of their 2004 album ‘666…the neighbour of the beast’ featured nothing but classy 80s sing-a-long melodic rockers. The DVD of the band was the absolute highlight of their discography so far, because this contained a full concert with an orchestra and a lot of great video footage. Now the band makes a comeback with their new CD ‘Wig wamania’, which has already hit big in Norway. The CD is filled with the same kind of catchy melodic hardrock as their debut, so once again filled with references to the 80s sounds of BON JOVI (“Gonna get you someday” with it’s big anthem chorus has the same kinda vibe as “Living on a prayer” and also the song “Can’t get her out of my bed” which sounds like modern BON JOVI, is also the only weak song on the CD), DEF LEPPARD (the fantastic midtempo AOR/Melodic Rocker “Bygone zone”), KISS (the catchy uptempo melodic rocker “Kill my rock’n’roll” has the same kinda hook as “Rock hard” of KISS), IRON MAIDEN meets MALMSTEEN (the instrumental “The riddle”) and a lot of GOTTHARD (“Rock my ride”, “Dare devil heat” and “A R’n’R girl like you” - which starts however with a riff from THE KNACK’s “My Sharona”), while the band also jumps on some ACCEPT/MANOWAR midtempo bombastic 80s Heavy Metal (“Breaking all the rules”) and of course the ballads are not forgotten (“At the end of the day”). The only songs I haven’t mentioned yet are the short opening intro “Wig wania” and the best song of the CD, the superb midtempo Melodic Rocker “Slave to your love” which has got all it takes in becoming a huge hit wordwide! Concluded, WIG WAM makes a very strong return with their 2nd CD, which proves they are a band to stay for a while and let’s hope they will release much more of these gems in the future. More info at: http://www.wigwam.no  or http://www.vme.no 

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)

ARENA ‘SMOKE AND MIRRORS DVD’ (METAL MIND PRODUCTIONS POLAND/MUSIC VIDEO DISTRIBUTORS)

ARENA has been active for a long time now and through the years they have established themselves as one of the best Neo-Progbands. Several DVDs have been released, but this new DVD ‘Smoke and mirrors’ is the ultimate DVD release, because it contains 175 minutes of footage the band shot recently. First of all there is a 20-song performance of the band as recorded in September 2005 at a theatre in Katowice/Poland. This performance celebrated the band’s 10-years existence, so therefore it was a best-of setlist. Also included is a bonus video from the Reunion Concert filmed in October 2005 in Holland. And finally there is an interview with Clive Nolan and Mick Pointer as well as a bio, photo gallery etc. In total this 3-hours counting experience is a must-see for any prog/ARENA fan out there. All is pro-shot with high quality sound, so better get this DVD asap at: http://www.mvdb2b.com 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

LANDMARQ ‘TURBULENCE: LIVE IN POLAND DVD’ (METAL MIND PRODUCTIONS/MUSIC VIDEO DISTRIBUTORS)

By far the best DVD releases are coming out of Poland, where METAL MIND PRODUCTIONS has rapidly become the best DVD release label for progressive rockmusic. The latest addition is a DVD of the UK band LANDMARQ. The featured concert on this band’s 155-minutes counting DVD was performed in the same theatre as ARENA (which was the Wyspiantski Theatre in Katowice/Poland), in November 2005. The band’s tight neo-prog sound mixed with the beautiful vocals of female singer TRACY HITCHINGS make them sound quite different, sort of a mix between IQ, HEART and LANA LANE, with a bit of RENAIISSANCE as well, so neo-prog with some aor and pop elements to make the sound sometimes catchy and melodic, while at other times pure prog in the instrumental department. Besides the concert, other footage include bonus videos from older performances (as far back as 1993 when they played a gig in Uden/Holland) as well as footage from Progfarm performances. There is even a bonus audio section with unreleased songs, so what more do you want, as this is pretty much a perfect neo-prog DVD. Available through: http://www.mvdb2b.com 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

MAMA’S BOYS ‘POWER AND PASSION’ (GOTT DISCS)

Legendary power trio, comprised of brothers Pat McManus, John McManus and Tommy McManus, from Northern Ireland. In the beginning they had a true own sound, which combined Irish Folk and THIN LIZZYish Hardrock, but in later years they changed their sound like so many other British bands to a radiofriendly American Melodic Rocksound. However, in their case the change sounded very sensational actually, thanks to new singer KEITH MURRELL and some very strong songs on their 1987 ‘growing up the hard way’ (such as the classic “Waiting for a miracle”). Anyway, 2006 is bringing the re-issue of the band’s popular ‘Power and passion’ record from 1985. No bonustracks, but a nice extensive written bio in the liner notes and of course a strong remastered sound of the original recordings. Musically nice folky melodic hardrock with THIN LIZZYish similarities. This album saw the band surprisingly charting in America, because their album made it almost to the top 50 official Billboard Album Charts. The reason was the band was getting support from US radio for their cover of SLADE’s “Mama weer all crazee now” which was battling it out in 1984 with QUIET RIOT as a single. Also support acts for RATT and RUSH saw the band getting more and more popular, eventually giving the band a high charting for their 1985 allbum ‘Power and passion’. The album originally appeared on the Jive/BMG record label in the UK, and is now available for the first time on CD. Almost forgot to mention this was already the band’s 4th album, as their earlier albums were 1982's Plug It In, 1983's Turn It Up, 1984's self-titled release and then this album from 1985, hopefully more re-issues in the near future, also regarding 1987's Growing Up The Hard Way. After releasing 2 more albums as MAMA’S BOYS in the early 90s, the band broke up and the brothers Pat and John went on to form the Folk Rock band CELTUS, which is still going strong today. Tommy sadly passed away in 1994 after a long battle with Leukaemia. This 21-year old 4th album of the band is a nice original album which saw the band moving a bit more towards American Rock, although it still captured the band’s original mix of Folk and Classic Hardrock. Available through: http://www.gottdiscs.com

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

MOLLY HATCHET ‘TAKE NO PRISONERS’ (GOTT DISCS)

In the 1970s in the USA there was an explosion of new bands in the genre Southern Rock, which was invented by bands like ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND and LYNYRD SKYNYRD. A lot of new bands emerged around that time and most of them were signed to major labels. One of these bands was MOLLY HATCHET, who became known as the band with the beautiful painted album covers, which must have inspired MANOWAR and thousands of other Power Metal in the following decades. The band was named after a legendary Southern prostitute who allegedly beheaded and mutilated her clients. MOLLY HATCHET, formed in 1975, sounded a bit heavier than LYNYRD SKYNYRD, partly due to the fact that the band featured three guitarists - Dave Hlubek, Steve Holland, and Duane Roland - plus vocalist Danny Joe Brown (who sadly recently died), bassist Banner Thomas, and drummer Bruce Crump. The group recorded a self-titled debut album in 1978, which quickly went platinum; the follow-up, Flirtin' With Disaster, was even more successful, selling over two million copies in the USA, where they were seen as the next LYNYRD SKYNYRD. However, things went differently, because original singer Danny Joe Brown was replaced by Jimmy Farrar on vocals. His debut was the 1981 release ‘Take no prisoners’, a very strong Southern Hardrockalbum, which not only saw the band introducing a new singer, but also the songs were more balanced, sounding up to date for the early 80s (like BLACKFOOT meets early WHITESNAKE) and paying tribute to the 1950s in the shape of the “Long tall Sally” cover. The album was originally released on the Epic record label and now 25 years later re-issued on CD, with extensive liner notes and lyrics included as well. Some songs are sounding as strong as they must have sounded 25 years ago, with as highlights the rockers “All mine”, “Power play”, ” Don’t Leave Me Lonely ” and also the duet with JOYCE KENNEDY of MOTHER’S FINEST on the song “Respect me in the morning” was remarkable. It was one of the finest albums of MOLLY HATCHET, now available on CD. The band is still active nowadays with new singer Phil McCormack and released a very good new CD on SPV last year. Anyway, this is a nice re-issue of the band’s 1981 ‘Take no prisoners’ album. Available through: http://www.gottdiscs.com 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

PICTORIAL WAND ‘A SLEEPER’S AWAKENING’ (UNICORN DIGITAL)

Out of Norway comes the one-man’s band PICTORIAL WAND. It took MATTIS SORUM 3 years to complete his debut album, which comes as a double-CD set. Mattis played all guitars, synthesizers and organ on the album as well as writing the complete story used on the 2 CDs. He hired session musicians to play the other instruments as well as using different singers and like you would already expect, this is a progressive Rock concept album. Both CDs are very good strong progressive rock/metal albums, of which the highlights can be found on the 2nd CD in the shsape of the songs “Greed part 2” and “Lust part 2”. A truly high quality release, which sounds like a mix between AYREON and SAVATAGE, so epic concept progressive rock/metal with both male and female vocals, clean and rawer, but always a strong melody. More info at: http://www.unicorndigital.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

VARIOUS ARTISTS ‘UNICORN DIGITAL: PROGRESSION IN BALANCE VOLUME 2’ (UNICORN DIGITAL)

Compilation CD from the Canadian proglabel, which is once again filled with some nice diverse quality songs from their catalogue, which is mainly pure progressive rock. Featured on this new compilation CD are songs from the bands TALISMA, KAOS MOON (fantastic song by the way), NIL, VLADIMIR BADIROV, LITTLE KING, PARALLEL MIND, DIMENSION X, UPRIGHT, ALKEMY, RING OF MYTH, HAMADRYAD and RETROHEADS. A great way to get into a whole new generation of Progressive Rockbands whom are all playing at a high level, recommended to fans of RUSH! More info at: http://www.unicorndigital.com

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

BLUEBEARD ‘DELUXE WITH REVERB’ (SHELTER FROM THE STORM RECORDS)

It has taken some time, but here is the new CD of the band BLUEBEARD, which is the follow-up to the band’s ‘Emotional balance’ record from a few years ago, so it is a bit weird the label press release says it is the first album of the band in 25 years. However, it is their 3rd album in 25 years, so they are not really productive. Anyway, back to the new album, ‘Deluxe with reverb’, this is a very strong album which is clearly based on the Classic 70s Rock and Pomprocksound, sounding like a mix between URIAH HEEP and STYX. 13 songs are included, plus 4 bonustracks, making this a 70 minutes counting classic rock sounding album. Highlights are “Love is nowhere” (great midtempo AOR), “Give” (high class 70s Pomprock with lovely melodic chorus a la STYX/KANSAS), Take a little time out” (high class late 70s Pomprock a la ROADMASTER) and some great semi-ballads with HEEP emotions like “How difficult is that?”, “The sleeper and the dreamer” and “Sad forgotten song”. During a few songs the band sounds like BLUE OYSTER CULT (“Pretty Vegas” and “Authority man”), but most of the time it’s STYX meets URIAH HEEP. Better check out this CD if you’re starting to become interested at: http://www.shelterfromthestormrecords.com and e-mail at: vbitetti@shelterfromthestormrecords.com 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

RUSS BALLARD ‘ANTHOLOGY’ (RENAISSANCE RECORDS)

Singer/songwriter RUSS BALLARD is the man who wrote Classic Pop/Rocksongs that became huge as in true Classic Rock identity, of which the RAINBOW performed ones “Since you’ve been gone” and “I surrender” are best known, but of course hundreds of other bands covered these songs as well, but it was RUSS BALLARD who wrote them. He also recorded his own version of “Since you’ve been gone” many years ago on one of his solo albums. In fact, he released many solo-albums, but it never gave him much success. A pity, because especially his same titled 1984 album is an instant classic in the AOR genre. Anyway, here we have a very nice compilation CD of some of the man’s best solo songs, of which the highlights are “Two silhouettes”, “Rock&Roll lover”, “Voices”, “I can’t hear you no more”, “Rene didn’t do it” and “The fire still burns”. The musicstyles vary a bit due to the leap in time, because it goes from 1974 up to 1993. A nice overview from a man, who did so much in the past concerning songwriting, but has recently been inactive as far as I know. The CD is available through: http://www.cdthen.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

DAMIEN THORNE ‘HAUNTED MIND’ (INDEPENDENT)

Classic 80s US Power Metal is what we get to hear on the new CD of the legendary Chicago band DAMIEN THORNE. This band was formed in 1983 and have always hold on to playing True Metal like as if it was still 1983/1984 and bands like MANOWAR, METALLICA, SAVATAGE, ARMORED SAINT, METAL CHURCH, etc. were all getting started and playing in the same style. The band’s 3rd CD ‘Haunted mind’ is a superb high class 80s orientated US Power Metal release with very strong lead vocals of Joe Martin who sounds a lot like ERIC ADAMS of MANOWAR. It doesn’t matter at all it is an independent CD, because all 10 tracks included sound really great and are a must for any fan of this genre. Also if you like SYMPHORCE for example you should hear this band, because DAMIEN THORNE is much better in playing this genre. Highlights are “The suffering”, “Clairvoyant” (MANOWAR meets MAIDEN) and “Fire in the sky”. All TRUE METAL fans should check out this release asap. More info at: http://www.damienthorne.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

SONS OF WILLIAM ‘SONS OF WILLIAM’ (INDEPENDENT)

SONS OF WILLIAM is a strong little band from New York with a 6-tracks counting mini-CD under their belts. The band is playing Classic Rock in 70s style, yet with a modern touch like JET and THE DARKNESS also have done. The result is a strong pure Rocksound, which could the band actually get a lot of response, because this kind of rock is popular on both sides of the Atlantic. The best song however is the semi-ballad “Let somebody down” which is radio-ready if you ask me. More info on the band at: http://www.sonsofwilliam.net 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

UMPHREY’S MCGHEE ‘SAFETY IN NUMBERS’ (SCI FIDELITY RECORDS)

There’s a new wave of progressive rockbands coming out of the USA, which was started by COHEED AND CAMBRIA. In a slightly calmer similar style we can find UMPHREY’S MCGHEE, yet they also combine it with American Pop/Rock of the GOO GOO DOLLS/DAVE MATHEWS BAND kind, but never forgetting a strong melody. The band has hit the billboard charts with this new CD of them. More info at: http://www.umphreys.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

ALCATRAZZ ‘THE BEST OF ALCATRAZZ’ (RENAISSANCE RECORDS)

Already released some time ago, this is a very nice compilation CD of the short-lived superband ALCATRAZZ that was active in the early 80s featuring none-other than GRAHAM BONNETT on vocals and YNGWIE MALMSTEEN (who was replaced by STEVE VAI) on guitars. They released 3 albums and a live record, but it was actually one strong album, their debut ‘No parole from rock and roll’ which introduced MALMSTEEN to this world. This compilation CD is a nice mix of songs from all their albums, of which the highlights are “Island in the sun” (classic melodic rocker), “General Hospital”, “Hiroshima mon amour” and “Sons and lovers” as well as the 3 live songs (the RAINBOW covers “All night long” and “Since you’ve been gone” as well as the solo Graham Bonnett song “Night games”). A recommended compilation CD of ALCATRAZZ, although their debut album is the real must-have in this case. CD is available through: http://www.cdthen.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

HARDCORE SUPERSTAR ‘HARDCORE SUPERSTAR’ (GAIN RECORDS/SUBURBAN)

It seems like Sweden is the place to be for Glam and Sleaze Hardrockbands nowadays, because we have had so many great new acts coming out of there the past few years, such as BABYLON BOMBS, GEMINI FIVE, BACKYARD BABIES, CRASH DIET and also this HARDCORE SUPERSTARS, although they have been active for quite some time now. Their new CD has been huge in Sweden and it seems now also the rest of Europe needs to take cover for this HARDCORE SUPERSTAR, whoma re playing the typical 80s LA Glam/Sleaze Metal sound all over again, like a mix between RATT, TIGERTAILZ, FASTER PUSSYCAT, CRUE and SKID ROW, so nothing original, but damn good at times. Still I think the other bands are slightly better, but nevertheless, this HARDCORE SUPERSTARS has some anthems to sing-a-long with on their new CD (which is simply same titled). Uptempo rockers like “Kick on the upperclass”, “We don’t celebrate Sundays”, “Wild boys” and “Standin’ on the verge” are very strong and will attract fans of mentioned bands for sure. LA Glamfans will know the way to find this gem!

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

GLASS MOON ‘GLASS MOON/GROWING IN THE DARK’ (RENAISSANCE RECORDS)

Underground Classic early 80s AOR/Pomprock is what to expect from the band GLASS MOON. I had the 2 (or 3 if I’m correct) this band released 25 years ago in my LP collection and for years they were untouched by many, being a collector’s item, but the re-issue of 2 of the GLASS MOON albums onto 1 CD are making it available again to a wider audience, which is a good thing if you consider that especially their same titled debut is an almost-classic Pomprockalbum in the style of SPY, ROADMASTER, TOUCH and KANSAS. Songs like “Blue windows”, “Killer at 25” and “I like the way you play” (very catchy tune) are instant winners for fans of mentioned bands. Their 2nd album ‘Growing in the dark’ saw them moving slightly more into a keyboard dominated AOR sound, not bad either. Better check out this CD release of 2 lost gems asap and you can buy the CD at: http://www.cdthen.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

ANGTORIA ‘GOD HAS A PLAN FOR US ALL’ (LISTENABLE RECORDS)

The French label LISTENABLE RECORDS comes with a very strong release of a band called ANGTORIA. ANGTORIA is fronted by fantastic British female singer Sarah Jezebel Deva (a.k.a. Sarah Jane Ferridge), who has already been a complimentary vocalist for CRADLE OF FILTH, COVENANT, THERION, TULUS, GRAVEWORM and MORTIIS. Joining Diva in the ANGTORIA project which started in 2001 are the Swedish composer Christian Rehn holding ABYSSOS, SARGOTH, INSALUBRIOUS and EVERGREY credentials and Tommy Rehn from MOAHNI MOAHNA. The band’s debut album ‘God Has A Plan For Us All’ also features drums by Andreas Brobjer of PLATITUDE and SPACE ODYSSEY, while the bass was played by CRADLE OF FILTH man Dave Pybus. Finally on keyboards none-other than Richard Andersson of MAJESTIC, SPACE ODYSSEY and TIME REQUIEM was hired and Tony Könberg provided choral vocals. All together they have recorded a superb album, not original as the material is typical present day female fronted Gothic Metal like AFTER FOREVER, WITHIN TEMPTATION and NIGHTWISH. However, the vocals and melodies are really terrific and this first ANGTORIA CD might well be the best release so far this year in this genre. Songs like “I’m calling”, “Six feet under’s not deep enough”, “Do you see me now” and “Hell hath no fury” are truly near-classics in the female fronted melodic Goth Metal genre. Any fan of this genre will agree this CD is an absolute winner! More info at: http://www.angtoria.com 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

HOMELESS J. ‘THREE SECONDS TO GAZE’ (SELECTRIC RECORDS)

Quite an original CD release from the American band HOMELESS J. They play a sort of Gothic Heavy Rockstyle which vocally sounds like U2/SIMPLE MINDS, combines it with strong melodies and a slight HIM touch, while the songs are mostly midtempo. Also memories of THE ALARM and SISTERS OF MERCY, that sort of 80s Gothic Rock comes to mind when hearing this HOMELESS J. 11 songs are on their album, which has it’s highlights in “To Uona”, “B-Fly”, “Slip” and “Sister”. Better check out this band asap if you’re looking for something original. More info at: http://www.homelessJ.com or http://www.myspace.com/homelessJ 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

CASINO 66 ‘DELIVER LIGHT’ (DEAD VIBRATIONS INDUSTRY/HARD LIFE PROMOTION)

Out of Sweden once again a strong Glamrockband, but they are a little different than for example CRASH DIET and HARDCORE SUPERSTARS, because their sound is without the big guitar riffs (even a sax/harmonica here and there) and more akin to 1970s Glamrock, yet still with strong melodies, sort of HANOI ROCKS style. 5 songs are included and most of them are easy to sing-a-long with. CASINO 66 might not break new barriers, but they are surely showing all good rock comes out of Sweden nowadays. More info at: http://www.casino66.net 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

DESTRUCTORS 666/THE RUINED ‘PLUS CA CHANGE POUR LA MEME CHOSE’ (ROWDY FARRAGO RECORDS)

What do we have here then, a UK based band playing a mix of late 70s Punk and early 80s NWOBHM, kinda like a mix between RAVEN, MOTORHEAD and GBH. 6 songs are included and although most of the songs are uptempo, there is for example a big difference between opener “Bullshit” (a bit average song with uninspired singing) and “City of the dead” (more aggressive singing style, very catchy chorus actually). The difference is due to the fact these are actually 2 different bands I discovered when looking closely at the liner notes!!! Therefore THE RUINED is by far the best of the 2 bands, whom have a straight-ahead melodic sleazy punky hardcore sound, which might do well in the USA as this is a deadringer for NOFX fans, but also reminds me of HARDCORE SUPERSTARS! More info at: http://www.the-ruined.com  and http://www.destructors666.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

BRAINSTORM ‘DESERT WORLD’ (INDEPENDENT)

There are not many Neo-Progressive Rockbands coming out of Australia, but this BRAINSTORM (Not to be confused with the same named German Power Metalband) is a Neo-Prog band in the PENDRAGON/IQ style and surprisingly their CD ‘Desert world’ is a very strong release with impressive songs that combine high quality long instrumental passages with passionate vocals. The CD has a playing time of 72 minutes, divided into 9 long tracks. The band really has an impressive UK influenced Neo-Prog sound and it is a bit pity they are just an independent band, because songs like “The light”, “Mutants” and “Desert world” easily reach the level of releases from prog labels like PROGROCK RECORDS, INSIDE OUT RECORDS or UNICORN RECORDS. Better check out this band asap at: http://www.brainstormtheband.com , the CD is available through: http://www.indie-cds.com  and e-mail at: mfraser@vtown.com.au 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

FUEL FROM HELL ‘PROMO 2005’ (PROMO CDR)

Formed 8 years ago this Italian band is playing pure 80s LA Glam-Metal with strong sing-a-long choruses in the best CRUE/BRITNY FOX style. Especially MOTLEY CRUE’s 80s sound can be heard most of the time. The band recorded a full-length promo CD last year and for fans of CRUE, CRASH DIET, HARDCORE SUPERSTARS here’s another band to check out asap. Songs like “Get it back”, “Rock’n’roll” and “Spinning wheel” are very nice uptempo 80s CRUE LA Glam type of tunes. More info on FUEL FROM HELL at: http://www.fuelfromhell.com  and e-mail them at: fuelfromhell@alice.it 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

DRAGONSFIRE ‘BURNING FOR METAL’ (INDEPENDENT)

Mini-CD from a German band, whom are playing pure 1980s True/Teutonic Metal, with strong melodic choruses to sing-a-long with. The band was formed 1 year ago, but the 5 songs on their first CD sound quite tight as if they have been active for many years now. Influences from MANOWAR, MAD MAX, STORMWITCH, HELLOWEEN, HAMMERFALL and of course MAIDEN can be heard in DRAGONSFIRE music and although the band is not sounding picture perfect, basically the vocals need to sound a bit stronger next time, the fan of classic German Melodic Metal will absolutely love this band. Highlight of the CD is the vcery catchy 6 minutes counting fast uptempo Melodic Power Metal tune “Black dragon”. Better check out DRAGONSFIRE at: http://www.dragonsfire.de  and e-mail at: info@dragonsfire.de 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

HEARSEMEN ‘HEARSEMEN’ (INDEPENDENT)

There is no other band to compare this HEARSEMEN with, well and boy they were right, because their CD sounds indeed like no other band, but that might be the problem, because this should not be taken serious I am afraid. This has nothing to do with serious music, but more like something they do in Southpark! www.hearsemen.com 

(Points: -)

KILLER SIX GUN ‘KILLER SIX GUN’ (INDEPENDENT)

LAKI RAGAZAS is auperb Greek guitarist who studied at famous American colleges, winning scholarships and now teaching, but in the meantime releasing a great CD as KILLER SIX GUN, which is filled with high quality 80s inspired shredding guitar orientated Classic Melodic Hardrock from the JASON BECKER/STEVE VAI/TONY MACALPINE/JOE SATRIANI school, although the 2nd half of the CD is more relaxed like NEAL SCHON meets TOMMY DENANDER. 8 songs 35 minutes high quality musicianship from Laki, who played all instruments, but besides 6 instrumentals (of which the midtempo “Day one” and the AORish “Stormcoming” are stunning) also 2 songs with vocals are included and surprisingly these are very impressive as well, because we can hear a fantastic singer called JOHN JEFF TOUCH (little search on google learns he sang with LARS ERIC MATTSSON and is currently the new singer for SIN, his amazing strong vocals sound like JEFF SCOTT SOTO/TONY MARTIN). The 2 vocal songs (“Highway of love” and “Reach out”) are both high class 80s AXEL RUDI PELL/KUNI/FIFTH ANGEL Melodic Heavy Rockers of the best kind. All together a very nice project from Laki and I am quite sure the future will bring us more, hopefully a full-length vocal CD, because he has a great singer on just 2 of his songs, besides the fact of course that Laki is a fantastic guitarist. More info on Laki and his project at: http://www.killersixgun.com  and e-mail at: info@killersixgun.com 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

IAN MCLAGAN ‘TROUBLEMAKER/BUMP IN THE NIGHT’ (GOTT DISCS)

Originally released in 1979 and 1981, these 2 solo-albums from former SMALL FACES Keyboard player IAN MCLAGAN are now available remastered on 1 single CD. The musicians playing on the album are quite impressive, because none-other than Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Johnny Lee Schell (guitars), Ringo Starr, Jim Keltner (drums), Stanley Clarke, Ray Ohara (bass) etc. are all making their appearance here. Musically it is typical late 70s/early 80s radio-ready melodic poprock like we heard from so many other singer/songwriters back then, such as RICK DERRINGER, MOON MARTIN, NICK GILDER, NILS LOFGREN, JACK GREEN, PHIL SEYMOUR, JAY FERGUSON, 70s RUSS BALLARD etc. etc. In total 20 (mostly 3 minutes counting) such melodic poprocksongs are included here, of which the best are “ La De La”, “Headlines”, “Movin' Out”, “Little Troublemaker”, “Alligator” and “Told A Tale On You”. If you like that poppy almost quirky early 80s poprocksound, then these 2 albums are yours, both now on 1 CD available through: http://www.gottdiscs.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

WET WILLIE ‘KEEP ON SMILIN’/DIXIE ROCK’ (GOTT DISCS)

American band from the early 70s with 2 releases now available on 1 CD. I had not heard of them before, but WET WILLIE is not a rockband actually. They combined 70s Pop/Rock with Soul/Funk, some Blues and even Southern Gospel music, ending up sounding like BILLY JOEL at times, although almost never moving into rock which Billy did a few times. “Don’t wait too long” is as close to BILLY JOEL as you can get. TRAPEZE also comes up several times when listening to this pure 70s sound. The band was blessed with a great lead vocalist (JIMMY HALL). I think fans of this band will be delighted to hear 2 of the WET WILLIE albums are now available 1 CD through: http://www.gottdiscs.com 

(Points: 7.4 out of 10)

THREE DOG NIGHT ‘IT AIN’T EASY/NATURALLY’ (GOTT DISCS)

Of course THREE DOG NIGHT is the legendary band from the 1970s that scored a succession of 21 hit singles, including eleven Top Tens, and twelve consecutive gold albums from 1969 to 1975. 2 of their albums (‘It ain’t easy’ and ‘Naturally’), both originally released in 1970 on the Probe (UK)/ABC/Dunhill Records in the USA, are now combined on 1 CD. 'It Ain't Easy' contains the massive worldwide hit 'Mama Told Me Not To Come' by Randy Newman, plus a version of Elton John's hit 'Your Song'. All together this is a nice classic 70s rockalbum, which will easily find it’s way to all the people who enjoy a little nostalgic piece of music history. Available through: http://www.gottdiscs.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

KUTLESS ‘HEARTS OF THE INNOCENT’ (BEC RECORDINGS/EMI)

KUTLESS is one of many American Rockbands whom are huge in The States, but outside hardly anyone knows them, even though the present day there is the power of the internet. Anyway, the band’s 4th CD will probably hit the US charts big time, because the new album ‘Hearts of the innocent’ is perfect for the American market, a melodic rock version of HOOBASTANK meets a lighter DISTURBED is what to expect musically, but with Christian lyrics in mind. The CD contains a mix of catchy modern melodic rockers (such as the very strong first single “Shut me out”, “Beyond the surface”, “Somewhere in the sky” and “Push me away”) and emotional (semi) ballads like “Smile”, “Promise of a lifetime” and “Mistakes”. At times it’s like you’re listening to a pure Melodic Rockalbum, yet the modern approach in the guitar and vocal department make you aware this is a typical present day American Rockalbum, which actually sounds pretty good. Better check out this Christian Rockband asap at: http://www.kutless.com 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

REKUIEM ‘TIME WILL TELL’ (MAJESTIC ROCK RECORDS/BERTUS)

There are very few new UK based bands playing classic metal and whenever a new CD comes out in this genre it concerns a band made up from a bunch of veterans, which is also the case with this REKUIEM. This band is featuring members of DIAMOND HEAD and DEMON and is actually not a new band, because they were formed back in the late 70s, but ‘Time will tell’ is their first album. Musically this is high class Melodic Metal in 70s style, high pitched vocals mixed with BLACK SABBATH guitar riffs. It’s not earthshaking what we get to hear, but it does sound quite good, recommended if you like early 80s MAIDEN, GRIM REAPER, FIFTH ANGEL, RIOT… The band has a strong lead singer (Paul Parry) who is giving the songs that extra touch needed in making it a high quality CD. Songs like “Nightmare”, “Time will tell” and “Angel of sin” are very strong Melodic Metal songs and like I already said, nothing new is brought here, but that doesn’t matter if it is well brought like in the case of REKUIEM. Only pity is the presence of BLACK SABBATH cover “Paranoid”, which should have been another original track of the band, because it doesn’t add anything extra to the CD.

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

CLOVEN HOOF ‘EYE OF THE SUN’ (ESCAPE MUSIC/GERMUSICA)

Legendary British Metalband which was pretty big in the UK 20 years ago, selling 24,000 unites from their debut album and rapidly becoming the next band to conquer with MAIDEN and GRIM REAPER, but things went slighty different, because towards the end of the classic 80s, the band broke up. Now 2006 is bringing back the band with a sort of modernized sound sadly. Although the band has 2 fantastic Classic 80s Melodic Metal monsters on their album (“Eye of the sun” and “Angels in hell”), most of this album is sounding like a modern version of the Classic 80s Metal, meaning aggressive and gang vocals have been put into CLOVEN HOOF’s sound of today. That doesn’t mean it is a bad record, because especially “Angels in hell” is a sensational Melodic Power Metal song. However, sometimes you get the thought it will be another one of those records of a re-emerged NWOBHM band which will probably fail to make any impact (just like we have seen with bands like TYGERS OF PAN TANG, JAGUAR, MARSHALL LAW). Nevertheless, fans of the band will be happy to see a new record of CLOVEN HOOF after 16 years.

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

SURVEILLANCE ‘ANGELSTATION’ (ESCAPE MUSIC/GERMUSICA)

It doesn’t happen too often I agree with a press release, but this time I have to agree that this new UK band which features BOB CATLEY keyboardplayer Paul Hodson, also has a singer in their line-up who sounds a lot like GLENN HUGHES. The name of the SURVEILLANCE singer is LEE SMALL and he could well be the little brother of Glenn, because his voice is very similar, although more like the old Glenn, so not the screaming he does nowadays. Sadly none of the songs included on the first SURVEILLANCE CD is making a big impression, because it is just nice traditional Hardrock with a 70s/80s approach. Only the uptempo melodic rocker “Reflections” is really good, because the rest of the CD is a bit standard, yet with superb vocals. I think with stronger songs, this band could become something interesting. Their singer does have a bright future whatever happens to SURVEILLANCE, because this man is an undiscovered talent!

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

MIKE FLORIO ‘ARISEN’ (INDEPENDENT RECORDS CANADA)

Singer/songwriter/keyboardplayer MIKE FLORIO comes out of Canada and he sent me a CD he just released, which musically contains a very strong mix of AOR, Prog and Pomprock, with clear KANSAS and STYX influences all throughout the album. Especially the songs “Binary world”, “Fractured”, “Paradise of stone” and the 80s DENNIS DE YOUNG sounding midtempo “Media ride” are deadringers for fans of 70s STYX, although it is not that sensational, which is impossible, but on the other hand I am sure fans of STYX, GOWAN and CANNATA will like this CD a lot. More info at: http://www.massdream.com  and http://www.indieRec.com  

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

LE MANS ‘REBEL ACTION’ (ULTRACHROME RECORDS/SOUND POLLUTION)

LE MANS is not the legendary 80s US Melodic Rockband, because this is a new LE MANS, coming out of Sweden and another female fronted band, yet completely different than all the Gothic Metalbands. This LE MANS is playing very original Rockmusic with good strong melodies and basically owing a lot to 80s Alternative Rock, sort of sounding like a female fronted rockversion of THE CURE with PRETENDERS influences if I may say so. Most of the 11 included songs on their debut CD are in a similar style, which is uptempo rocking with strong melodic choruses and sort of laid-back singing. Songs like “Forecast”, “Things to bend”, “Talk” and “Rolling the stones” are all very impressive and this band could well become the next CARDIGANS of CORRS for that matter. Recommended to fans of lighter radio-ready Melodic Poprock with a very slight Alternative touch. More info at: http://www.lemans.se 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

PREMACY ‘FRAGILE LIVES’ (DEMO CDR)

New Norwegian band which combines modern American Metal with high class Melodic choruses, ending up sounding like a mix between DISTURBED, HOOBASTANK and FATE. The band has already played support act for STAIND and WIG WAM in Norway and this 4-tracks counting demo CDR shows they are a band with a bright future, because especially songs like “Fragile lives” and “Ending days” are very strong memorable songs with a modern sound, but with high class melodic choruses as well. More info (also the place to download this demo) can be found at: http://www.premacy.no 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

KARATE HIGH SCHOOL ‘ARCADE ROCK’ (EVO RECORDINGS)

Typical American Nu-Breed/EMO-Melodic Rock is what to expect on the CD of the US band KARATE HIGH SCHOOL. This kind of rock is only made in America, where it is huge and bands like FUGAZI, FALL OUT BOY, HAWTHORNE HEIGHTS, BOWLING FOR SOUP are the most common thing to hear on the radio. KARATE HIGH SCHOOL do it quite well, because their mostly uptempo rocking songs on their CD ‘Arcade rock’ are very catchy and also very melodic, with as difference from the majority of the other bands the keyboards which sound like they are taken from a 80s Super Mario Bros videogame (nostalgic for some of you I guess!). I would not be surprised if this band will be picked up by a major label someday soon, because their catchy uptempo emo melodic rock sounds radio-ready if you ask me, also (last couple of albums) HAREM SCAREM fans might want to check this out, although the vocals are in the typical DURAN DURAN style mixed with some screams. More info at: http://www.karatehighschool.com  and http://www.evorecordings.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

MALAISE ‘HYPNTOIZED BY FORGOTTEN LIES’ (ULTRACHROME RECORDS/SOUND POLLUTION)

Another strong new band from Sweden. This band is called MALAISE and they are playing a mix of 80s Gothic and present-day Goth Rock, kinda like HIM meets THE ALARM/DEPECHE MODE. It does sound very good, although it’s a pity there are only 5 tracks included. All tracks are in the same style, sort of mid to uptempo, with very dark lead vocals (typical Goth) mixed with strong melodic choruses however. Lighter than HIM, heavier than the 80s Goth Rock, but recommended to all Gothic Rockfans this Swedish band. More info at: http://www.malaise.net

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

7 SEALS ‘MOONCURSE’ (INDEPENDENT)

German band with a strong traditional Melodic Metal record, which features male and female vocals. The female singer (Hilke Saathoff) has not a strong voice unfortunately, as she struggles here and there (like in the opener “My own secret”), but the male singer (Markus Wagner) has got a typical raw Metal voice. 6 songs are included on their mini-CD ‘Mooncurse’ and especially “Mooncurse” (very nice uptempo Melodic Metal piece) and the bombastic midtempo “Dawn of winter (a la EDGUY, with also better sounding female vocals) are quite impressive actually. Recommended to fans of ELVENKING and FALCONER Check out this band at: http://www.7-seals.de  and e-mail them at: management@7-seals.de 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

TAKIDA ‘PROMO’ (NINETONE RECORDS/UNIVERSAL MUSIC SWEDEN)

New Swedish band, which made a huge impact in Sweden, but outside not that many people have heard of them. Their debut CD will be released on NINETONE RECORDS, which has a distribution deal with UNIVERSAL RECORDS. The music is a mix of pure Melodic Rock and present-day American modern rock. The 4 songs of the promo I received sound very impressive, mixing strong melodic catchy choruses with modern guitar riffs. Most of the songs are uptempo and very catchy, so it’s no wonder this band has hit the Swedish charts big time with their single “Losing”, which entered the charts at number two and stayed on top for many weeks. I can’t wait to hear and review the full-length CD of this band. More info at: http://www.takida.se  and e-mail at” contact@takida.se 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

PRAYER’S EYE ‘NEXT DECADE’ (INDEPENDENT)

German band which used to be called VOODOMA, but recently changed their name. The CD they have released independently is filled with good original Dark Melodic Metal with an epic touch, sort of like EVERGREY actually. Without a doubt, this is a high quality album, of which the songs “One night”, The master passes by” and “Crystal crown” are absolute highlights. Definitely a band to check out for the fans of darker Melodic Metal. More info at: http://www.prayerseye.com  and e-mail at: marc@prayerseye.com 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

PRIDE OF LIONS ‘LIVE IN BELGIUM DVD+CD’ (FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

Unfortunately the best AOR band to emerge in many years, PRIDE OF LIONS, does not tour extensively due to other commitments of it’s members and the fact they are not selling millions of records, but they did play a few concerts in 2005. Especially their performance at the Lokerse Feesten in August 2005 was a memorable one, because they played in front of 20,000 people. Happily, FRONTIERS RECORDS, the festival organization and the band was able to have this concert filmed at a very professional level, of which this DVD (and CD) is the result. I have to admit that the 90 minutes counting concert was an incredible performance and it only makes you hoping and wishing they will do a full European tour (or World Tour for that matter) someday soon. The main core of the band, JIM PETERIK on guitar/keyboards/vocals and TOBY HITCHCOCK on lead vocals are together shining bright on stage as both are filled with enjoyment and really into their music. Toby’s vocals are just amazing, really reaching the high notes as if he was BOBBY KIMBALL from TOTO. Of course the songs, taken from the 2 PRIDE OF LIONS albums and a couple of SURVIVOR songs (“The Search Is Over”, “ I Can't Hold Back” and “Eye Of The Tiger”) as well as the legendary IDES OF MARCH song “Vehicle”, which was Jim’s first number 1 hitsingle in the US more than 35 years ago! Every song is performed extremely well and especially the PRIDE OF LIONS classics “It's Criminal”, “Gone”, “Sound of Home”, “Music And Me” and “What Kind Of Fool” are incredible. This is not just a live DVD, but a fantastic unique experience from a top-notch AOR band. Besides the 90 minutes counting performance, the DVD also contains a 30-minutes counting special of the band on Italian TV, where they performed a couple of songs acoustic and were interviewed. The audio CD version of the live performance is also interesting for the die-hard fans, because this is a 2-CD set, which contains an additional 7 bonus studio tracks (unreleased or released as b-side of the singles or Japanese bonustracks for that matter, but here they are all packed on 1 single CD). Especially “Reckless Love” and the ballads “Stand By You’, “Surrender To The Night” and “Black Ribbons (Voices Of The World)” (dedicated to the Madrid tragedy) are beautiful songs. I think we may conclude that this is a very nice experience, which is a must-have for all the AOR fans out there!

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)

VERTIGO ‘2’ (FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

For a vocalist who just turned 46, JOSEPH WILLIAMS has done a lot in his career, which started at a very young age, releasing a solo-record in the very early 80s, joining TOTO, reaching a lot of success when singing on 2 of their albums, of which ‘The seventh one’ became their most successful record in The Netherlands (not a week goes by not hearing “Pamela” or “Stop loving you”). After his split with TOTO in the late 80s, he went on the solo tour again, releasing a few solo CDs, but also sang for movies like ‘The lion king’ and just recently he sang on the first VERTIGO record, organized by FRONTIERS RECORDS, on which he sang 80s AOR again. Vertigo 2 is the follow-up to that record, which once again contains mostly pure 80s AOR. Besides Joseph singing, other musicians involved are FABRIZIO V ZEE GROSSI (who played most of the instruments and produced the album), ALEX MASI on guitars, VIRGIL DONATI (Soul Sirkus, Ring of Fire) on drums and JASON SCHEFF (Chicago) on backing vocals. Not really anything new is brought here, but still a very decent high quality AOR album, with many strong songs such as “In The Blink of An Eye”, “All For You” (very catchy), “Holy”, “Save It All Alone” and “Together (Good-Bye So Long)”. People who enjoyed AMBITION, RADIOACTIVE and that sort of AOR as of the past few years will certainly enjoy this new VERTIGO CD, which is better than their debut 9less Westcoast- more AOR rocking), but less adventurous than the new TOTO CD, on which Joseph made a strong comeback due to singing leads on the album’s single “Bottom of your soul”. Nevertheless, a nice AOR album he now delivers with VERTIGO.

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

JOHN WEST ‘LONG TIME… NO SING’ (FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

JOHN WEST is the incredible lead singer, who sang on 7 ARTENSION records so far, as well as a couple of ROYAL HUNT albums, sang with BADLANDS for a short period and in between managed to release a collection of solo-records. The music on which he sings is mainly a very melodic Neo-Classical Hardrock/Metal style. Through the years he has proven to be one of the absolute best singers in the rockgenre at this moment. Also his new solo-CD ‘Long time…no sing’ shows that this man can sing like the best. On the record he got help from long-time collaborators and friends Lonnie Park on keyboards, Chris Caffery (Savatage) on keyboards and guitars, Jeff Plate (Savatage) on drums and Kevin Hampton on guitars. The start of the album is quite stunning, being a mix of Neo-Clasical Hardrock and AOR melodies, with songs like “Fade”, “Give me a sign” and “Set Me Free” being absolute highlights. During the CD, the songs get a little groovier, even akin to BLUE MURDER here and there, which is not bad either, but then the strong melodies seem to be missing towards the end of the CD. Still, this doesn’t mean you should avoid this CD, because John is an excellent singer and most of the material on his new CD is well-worth listening, especially the beginning is very sensational actually. So yet another impressive album from John…

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

GLENN HUGHES ‘MUSIC FOR THE DIVINE’ (FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

Of course GLENN HUGHES is the man with the incredible voice, but the past few years he has been more and more screaming instead of the melodic soulful way of singing he did during the 80s. A pity, because then he sounds at his best (BLACK SABBATH – No stranger than love I and HUGHES/THRALL are good examples). However, his music becomes more and more funky/groovy as well, especially since drummer CHAD SMITH from RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS has been part of his band. The past few solo-albums were just ok groovy rock/hardrock pieces, which for a melodic rocker hardly had any strong melodies. His new solo-CD ‘Music for the divine’ is not that much different, although songs like “The Valiant Denial” and “Frail” are clearly more melodic and also a bit proggy. However, the main core of the album is funky groovy 70s inspired hardrock. Most unnecessary track included here is the MOODY BLUES classic “Nights In White Satin”. Must for the GLENN HUGHES fan for sure, but melodic rockfan can easily avoid this…

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem) 

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