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HOT NEW REVIEWS

UPDATED ON OCTOBER 4 - 2004

JAMES CHRISTIAN 'MEET THE MAN'
(FRONTIERS RECORDS/BERTUS)


'Meet the man' is the new album of lead vocalist JAMES CHRISTIAN (HOUSE OF LORDS), although most of the songs were written in the late 80s (Randall/Dewitt), but I believe all the songs were recently re-recorded. Most of these songs have been circulating through the underground AOR scene, mostly as demo CDRs, so it is good to finally see an official CD release of these AOR gems, because most of the included songs are basically fantastic pure late 80s AOR (that typical sound which made MICHAEL BOLTON, CHER, STARSHIP etc. very famous back in the day). Highlights among the 11 tracks are the uptempo AOR rockers "After the love has gone" and "Know you in the dark" (a classic, although I still think the demo version is better), the midtempo AOR pieces "Leave well enough alone" and "Circle of tears", and the wonderful semi ballad "End of time". This album sounds like a perfect late 80s AOR record, so fans of let's say SIGNAL, ALIAS, MARK FREE, UNRULY CHILD etc. will absolutely love this album!

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)

SALEM HILL ‘PE’ (PROGROCK RECORDS)

The Progressive Rockband SALEM HILL were probably keen on releasing a real full-length CD, because with 15 tracks and a playing time of 71 minutes you get value for your money, especially if you also get to hear high quality progressive rockmusic in the style of RUSH, THE FLOWER KINGS, NEAL MORSE and SPOCK’S BEARD, although there are also strong BEATLES influences here and there. No doubt about the fact that this new SALEM HILL CD is the kind of album all Progressive Rockfans would like to hear it, because the musicianship of the band is of a very high level (both instrumental and vocally, but also the songstructures and melodies of the songs sound quite perfect. Songs like “track 3” (songtitles are in the wrong order, so I’ll mention a songnumber when I’m unsure what the title of the song is), “The red pool” (a more straight-ahead rocker), “track 8”, “track 12” and “track 14” are absolute winners for the prog perfectionist. In the end, this is a great progressive rockalbum, which I can highly recommend to all those RUSH, FLOWER KINGS and SPOCK’S BEARD out there! More info at:
http://www.progrockrecords.com

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

SYLVAN ‘X-RAYED’ (PROGROCK RECORDS)

We recently reviewed the new SYLVAN CD, but this is the US release, which doesn’t contain any bonustracks, so here follows the original review; The German Neo-Prog band SYLVAN returns with yet another new CD. The album is titled ‘X-rayed’ and it is quite remarkable that the band continues developing their own style. They started as a typical Neo-Progressive Rockband, but through the years and especially on the previous and now on the new CD ‘X-rayed’ the band has created an own style, which is a bit comparable to a rougher unpolished JADIS, so peaceful melodic progressive pop/rock with a slight modern touch, a bit the same thing MARILLION has been doing after FISH left, but still with an own identity. The new album contains 68 minutes of quality music, performed during 10 tracks, some quite lengthy, and a few shorter tracks. I have to say that some tracks are also a bit leaning towards Alternative Rock (a la RADIOHEAD) such as on “Through my eyes”, but the album still can be seen as a Prog related work. If you enjoyed the previous SYLVAN CD, you will definitely love this record too, because it contains some great typical SYLVAN tunes like “So easy”, “Belated gift”, “Given – used – forgotten” and “This world is not for me”. Check out their website at:
http://www.sylvan.de and e-mail them at: mail@sylvan.de

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

CHATEAU ‘PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY’ (TWILIGHT VERTRIEB)

CHATEAU is a German band, and their CD ‘Psychotic symphony’ was mastered at the famous Morrisound Studios in Florida, USA (SAVATAGE), so basically we are dealing here with something very professional. Happily also the music is very impressive, because the Melodic (Progressive) Metal of CHATEAU is of a very high level. Their lead singer Eric Weise has a fantastic high pitched voice (like a cross between JAMES LABRIE and GEOFF TATE, although not always at the same high level as those legendary singers), and some of the 10 songs on the CD sound very sensational as well. The band sounds like a mix between AXXIS, EDGUY and AT VANCE, with also a lot of 80s US Power/ProgMetal influences, which brings sometimes similarities to CRIMSON GLORY and QUEENSRYCHE in their very early days. Uptempo melodic heavy rock/metalsongs like “The dragon’s heart”, “Psychotic symphony”, “No friend of mine” and “Free to be me” are all sounding very good. This is a CD, which easily stands out between the majority of other releases in the Prog/Power Metal genre. Check out their website at:
http://www.chateau-metal.de The CD is available through: http://www.twilight-vertrieb.com

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

TALON/STAN BUSH ‘LIVE AT THE GODS 2003 DVDR’ (INDEPENDENT DVDR)

These 2 DVDRs recently made available are no official releases, so they look rather cheap and can nowhere near be compared to the JEFF SCOTT SOTO DVD released a few months ago on FRONTIERS RECORDS. Nevertheless, for a true fan of STAN BUSH and TALON, these DVDRs are nice to own, but don’t expect a A+ quality recording and footage, because both DVDRs are mostly recorded with a cheap handcamera, so both performances these acts did at the Gods of AOR festival in 2003 are shot with one camera only. Also the sound is poor, but all together it’s fair enough to watch the show if you didn’t see any of them ever live, because that’s the whole idea of these DVDRs released to the public. Both the TALON and STAN BUSH DVDR have a laying time of 60 minutes, which contains short pre- and aftershow footage and the whole concert performed by each act. STAN BUSH live is amazing, because the man sings just like on his record, while his backing band (TALON) played the classics of STAN BUSH easily. It’s really nice to finally see STAN BUSH live, because that doesn’t happen too often. The concert of TALON is slightly shorter, and they prove to be a great melodic hardrockband. It’s a pity both DVDRs are not mixed professionally, because then we could have had a good addition to the JEFF SCOTT SOTO Gods DVD. Now it’s only a must for the absolute die-hard fans of STAN BUSH and TALON, who don’t mind average sounds/footage and absolutely no artwork, just a plain DVDR that’s all you get... More info through e-mail at:
jppparker@earthlink.net

(Points: -)

KILLER DWARFS ‘REUNION OF SCRIBES DVD’ (BULLSEYE RECORDS)

This DVD of the Canadian band KILLER DWARFS was released back in 2002, but it’s the first time a review appears over here. Without a doubt, this is a professional DVD, although no extra’s are included. However, what you basically get is a fantastic performance the band gave in their hometown of Toronto on August 29, 2001. 13 songs were played, and it sounded as good as on their 1980s records, so basically very strong Melodic Hardrock with the strong lead vocals of RUSS DWARF. Highlights include uptempo melodic rockers like “Believe in me”, “Last laugh”, “Keep the spirit alive”, “All that we dream” and “Nothin’ gets nothin’”. The sound and footage of the concert is very good, so I can recommend this DVD to anyone 80s Hard/Hair-Metalfreak! You can buy the CD through
http://www.bullseyecanada.com

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

TUFF ‘DVDs’ (RLS RECORDS)

The American Hair Rock/Metalband TUFF released no less than 4 DVDs recently, which basically contain about every video footage available from this band, who were about to breakthrough when Grunge came along in the early 90s. Nevertheless, these DVDs show a band that worked hard to get some attention outside of the Underground scene. The first DVD is settled around ‘What comes around...’, their debut album from 1991. The DVD contains 7 videos the band made, and also some raw live and tour footage. The DVD itself was originally released as video back in 1991, and takes up to 60 minutes of playing time. The next DVD is ‘Religious fix – the videos’, which is another original homevideo put onto DVD. The DVD is a combination of raw tour footage and videos (3) of songs from their ‘First first’ album. Also this DVD has a playing time of 60 minutes. Moving on to the DVD ‘Decade of distant memories’, which is a 2-hour DVD featuring lots of rare material from TUFF, as well as a bunch of (live) videos. The sound quality is not always that good, but for a dedicated TUFF fan I can guarantee that this is (just like the other DVDs) a must-have. The best and rarest DVD has got to be ‘Rock’n’ rarities – the videos’, which is a DVD that contains a lot of rare video footage, recorded between 1987 and 1995. All sorts of rare club performances can be seen dating back to the late 80s, TV appearances and even more club dates. This DVD is definitely the best of the 4, mainly because of the unique material shown, but the quality of the recordings is not always perfect, some very amateur orientated video footage, but cool to watch anyway. You can buy any of the DVDs through: http://www.TuffCds.com

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

NECRONOMICON ‘CONSTRUCTION OF EVIL’ (REMEDY RECORDS/ROCK INC)

NECRONOMICON is a legendary German band, whom started playing Thrash Metal some 20 years ago. They have been away for a while, but with ‘Construction of evil’ they make a return to the scene. It’s their first CD release since 1995’s ‘Screams’. Musically nothing has changed and still play fast brutal Thrash-Metal (with also a strong typical German fast Power Metal approach) like a mix between GRAVE DIGGER, TANKARD and KREATOR. The CD was produced by Achim Kohler (PRIMAL FEAR, SINNER, SYMPHORCE) and contains in total 14 songs, and a video clip of the song “Terrorist
attack”. Fans of the cult-band will love this new record, which has it’s finest moments in the shape of “Hard pain”, “From Hell” and “Fireball”.

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

SARISSA ‘MASTERS OF SINS’ (BLACK LOTUS RECORDS/ROCK INC)

Some 20 years ago the Greek band SARISSA started, and all this time they only managed to release 2 independent albums, although they were close signing a deal with MODERN MUSIC in the late 80s. We are now in the year 2004 and the band has finally released an official label CD. The CD is titled ‘Masters of sins’ and after a few spins I can inform you that it’s a very sensational melodic progressive metal release. 10 songs are included, of which the best are “The ancient land falls”, “Masters of sins”, “Envious critics” and “The struggle”. The band has a fantastic lead singer (Nick Iglezos) and multi-instrumentalist Jim A.D. Selalmazidis is playing the guitar, bass and keys very well. Besides, the CD has a fantastic big Melodic Progmetalsound, which you mostly only get to hear from US, German or UK bands. SARISSA are however coming out of Greece and I can highly recommend their wonderful CD ‘Masters of sins’ to fans of FATES WARNING, QUEENSRYCHE, DREAM THEATER, VANDENPLAS, THRESHOLD...

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

DEDICATION ‘REFLECTIONS OF TIME’ (UNDERGROUND SYMPHONY RECORDS/BERTUS)

Out of Sweden comes DEDICATION, another typical European Melodic Metalband. Their CD has been released on the Italian label UNDERGROUND SYMPHONY RECORDS and although some might say it sounds very cliche, I think this DEDICATION has come up with a very strong release. Musically it is not the typical Italo Power Metal like you would expect on the Italian label, but this CD has a more Melodic (Hard) Rock approach (a la TNT). Songs like “Heroes of the sky”, “Broken glass” (fantastic), “Elusive dreams” (lovely midtempo, even a bit JADED HEART) and “Fire and ice” are very strong melodic heavy rocksongs like TNT, AXXIS and early ELEGY, mixed with some MAIDEN. Concluded, a great album by another new Swedish band, more info at:
http://www.dedication.se

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

VARIOUS ARTISTS ‘BREAKING THE SILENCE VOLUME 1’ (TWILIGHT VERTRIEB)

Germany is known for bringing so many different Metalbands, and although not every band is interesting, you can not deny the big Metalscene. There is now a CD available, which presents us 15 German bands, whom each perform one song on this CD. The styles range from Melodic, Prog, Power, Thrash, Black to Death Metal, and of course we mainly focus on the Melodic side. In this genre we can find some interesting Power/Prog Metalbands like MINDCRIME, LAYMENT, THARSYS, CHRYSALIS, ORDEN ORGAN (best band, recently reviewed), VOODOMA and IRONY (great band from Heidelberg, a la EDGUY) and . It would be a good thing to release more of such compilation CDs, so people can get to learn some of the unknown Metalbands. The CD is available through:
http://www.twilight-vertrieb.com

(Points: -)

SEVENTH ONE ‘WHAT SHOULD NOT BE’ (ARMAGEDDON MUSIC/ROCK INC)

Out of Sweden comes yet another sensational Power Metalband. They already released an album on MASSACRE RECORDS, which somehow didn’t reach me a few years ago. Nevertheless, this new CD of SEVENTH ONE is a very impressive Melodic Power Metalrelease in the style of NOCTURNAL RITES, DREAM EVIL and ICED EARTH. The CD has a big sound, and the 9 included songs are a total must for all the True Metalfans! Songs like “Eyes of the nation”, “Mercenaries call”, “Gallows pole”, “What should not be” and “Awaken visions” (ballad!) are all very strong Power Metalsongs with big choruses to sing-a-long with and huge guitarwork. Definitely a must-have for the Metal Warriors out there!

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

ODYSSEA ‘TEARS IN FLOODS’ (SCARLET RECORDS/BERTUS)

Here we go again!!!! ODYSSEA comes out of Italy and they play typical Italo Power Metal like we have already heard it before from LABYRINTH and VISION DIVINE and thousands of others. However, there is something different about this new band. The band features LABYRINTH guitarist PIER GONELLA and even LABYRINTH singer Rob Tiranti (Tyrant) contributes on 1 song. That song is the fantastic fast melodic power metal song “Fly”, which is by far the best song on offer here, partly due to the vocals of Rob, who is a fantastic singer. The rest is sung by vocalist Carlo Faraci, who of course isn’t of the same high level as Rob, but as the CD develops he proves he is also a very skilled singer after all. Although the info sheet mentions that ODYSSEA is doing something really different than the usual Italo Power Metal style, that first song “Fly” sums up everything Italian Metal stood for the past 10 years, fast, melodic and happy sing-a-long music, but happily it is done very well, so it is indeed better than the thousand of other Italo LABYRINTH wannabies out there at the moment. What about the rest of the CD? Well, it follows the same path, and it is indeed sounding a lot like LABYRINTH and VISION DIVINE, but somehow it does sound convincing and very impressive. Again, nothing new is brought here, but it’s all done so perfectly like those Italian bands are able to do it, you can not ignore it. Songs like “The king”, “Burning time”, “Tears in floods (part 2)” (AOR meets Italo Power Metal) and “Angel cries” are fantastic Italo Happy Power Metal tunes, which will please all the LABYRINTH,
WONDERLAND, RHAPSODY and VISION DIVINE fans out there!

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

KAMINARI ‘FARADAY’S DAYDREAM’ (PREVISION MUSIC/TWILIGHT VERTRIEB)

At first I thought KAMINARI was a Japanese band, but don’t let the bandname and CD cover fool ya, because KAMINARI are coming out of Germany. They released their debut CD on a new recordlabel (PREVISION MUSIC). The album was produced very well by the band and ACHIM KOHLER (PRIMAL FEAR, SINNER, BRAINSTORM). The sound is huge and musically we get to hear some awesome Melodic Power Metal in typical German tradition. It’s like a thunderstorm that’s coming over you when hitting the play button on your CD player! ‘Thunderstorm’ by the way is the English translation of the Japanese word KAMINARI. Although during the start of the CD there are some strong similarities to PRIMAL FEAR and SINNER on such great Melodic Metal pieces like “Vampire vanity” and “Eye-borg”, most of the rest of the CD the band also throws in a lot of Melodic Hardrock influences into their songs, such as in the awesome songs “Philip Marlowe”, “Guardian angel”, “Stairway to the galaxy” and “My black colors” (big harmonyvocals during the catchy chorus!), which reveal influences from SAXON, UFO and SCORPIONS. Basically this is another great German band, mixing Melodic Hardrock and Metal into an exciting style, which will please all fans of bands like STEELER, VICTORY and PRIMAL FEAR. Check out their site at:
http://www.kaminari-music.de

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

THUNDER REIGNS ‘SHADOWS VIDEO VCR’ (DVDR)

‘Shadows’ is the song on which the whole DVDR of the American band THUNDER REIGNS is based. The song is featured as mp3 and videoclip on this DVDR, so the band made a video of their new song, which is a good thing, as then we can see the people behind the song. Musically it’s a pure US Power Metalsong in the style of METAL CHURCH, ARMORED SAINT, SYMPHORCE, NEVERMORE, SEVEN WITCHES and SAVATAGE. Guitarist Mark Trueit is a very talented guitarist, and lead singer Mike Hutchings has a got a strong typical Metalvoice, although my only comment on the track would be the mixing, because sometimes the vocals are pushed a bit too much to the back. Nevertheless, a great video, which should be played on MTV instead of all the Nu-Metal crap. Check out THUNDER REIGNS at:
http://www.thunderreigns.com where you can download the video, and e-mail the band at: metal411_247-TR@yahoo.com

(Points: -)

VENI DOMINE ‘4’ (RIVEL RECORDS/BERTUS)

The Swedish Christian Metalband VENI DOMINE has been releasing albums since 1992, and ‘4’ is like the title states their 4th CD so far. The band is playing a mix of Doom and Progressive Metal like a mix between 80s QUEENSRYCHE, SAVATAGE, VIRGIN STEELE and CANDLEMASS. They have a very good lead singer (Fredrik Sjoholm), who was ill a few years ago when the band started recording this CD, so therefore it took a little longer. They even started the writing process for ‘4’ in 1997, so in the end it took VENI DOMINE 7 years to finally release a new CD, but the result might just be their best effort so far. The vocals sound very good, so is the guitarwork and also the 11 included tracks are a must to hear if you’re into any of the mentioned bands. The similarities to 80s QUEENSRYCHE are very clear in a song like “Doom of man”, although this song might also be seen as a Doom Metal song, but however the QR vibe is very strong. The highlights on this new VENI DOMINE CD are “Waiting for the blood red sky”, “Eli lema sabachtani”, “Voice of creation” and “The river of life 1”. Concluded, this is the best VENI DOMINE CD so far and highly recommended to both the Doom and Progmetalfans out there.

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

THE TANGENT ‘II: THE WORLD THAT WE DRIVE THROUGH’ (INSIDE OUT MUSIC/SUBURBAN)

THE TANGENT is a project between some of the big names in the Progrockscenes from the UK and Sweden. Musically it is a sort of 70s retro progresive rocksoundwe get to hear like a mix between THE FLOWER KINGS, PORCUPINE TREE and PARALLEL OF 90 DEGREES, so slightly experimental and with a saxplayer in their line-up not the typical progrockband. In fact, THE TANGENT consists of 7 members, among which the most well-known is of course ROIN E STOLT from THE FLOWER KINGS on guitars and vocals. Only 5 songs are included, but like you would expect from a progband, these are 5
very long songs, with the CD still having a playing time of almost 70 minutes (!). For the die-hard progfans this is definitely a must to hear, especially the songs “A gap in the night” and “The world we drive through”. However, I would not call this release something outstanding, or a must-have release, just a basic progrockalbum...

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

THE JELLY JAM ‘2’ (INSIDE OUT MUSIC/SUBURBAN)

Although I am myself not such a big KING’S X fan, I must admit that they had their own style, which now lives on in the shape of JELLY JAM, a project set up by KING’S X vocalist/guitarist Ty Tabor and further featuring John Myung (DREAM THEATER) on bass and Rod Morgenstein (DIXIE DREGS) on drums. The new CD of THE JELLY JAM is once again filled with music that combines all sorts of elements, although mostly borrowed from 70s groovy hardrock, progressive rock, Nu-Breed Poprock and psxchedelic rock. The band has a big raw groovy guitarsound and psychedelic lead and harmonyvocals that both heavily relate to the early 70s. Songs like “Not today”, “Coming round” and “Allison” are songs that will be loved by KING’S X fans. A little more melodic are songs like “She was alone”, “Angel or devil” and “You don’t need me anymore”, which all go into a more modern progressive rockstyle (a la ENCHANT). However a song like “War is...” is someting completely different, as this is typical Nu-Breed Poprock like so many bands produce these days in the USA. Anyway, a very diverse album, which is highly recommended to all KING’S X fans out there!

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

S.A. ‘SAMURAI ATTACK’ (PINEAPPLE RECORDS/CHERRY RED RECORDS)

Ever heard of a Japanese Punkband, well that’s what this S.A. is all about. We are not related to Punkbands, but every now and then there are some good bands in this genre, although it seems like the best ones came out of the Uk and USA back in the late 70s (THE BOYS, RAMONES, DEAD KENNEDYS, GENERATION X). This S.A. comes out of Japan and happens to be one of the new hopes for Japanese Punk, but all I can add is that their 20 songs are short, fast and heavy, mostly SEX PISTOLS rip off tunes, so not really interesting. Only interesting for Punkfans!

(Points: 4.9 out of 10)

ESPIRITU ‘FRONTERAS MAGICAS’ (GRANDIL RECORDS)

Out of Argentina comes the Progressive Rockband ESPIRITU. Their CD ‘Fronteras magicas’ is one of those typical Latin Progrock releases with some beautiful vocal melodies, nice keyboards and great guitarwork (a bit jazzy a la NEAL SCHON). 12 songs are included, and especially “Sin fronteras”, “Una palabre” (very relaxing calmer prog), “Nada que decirte” (bit AORish) and “Ciudad de locos” are highly recommended Melodic Progressive Rocksongs like a mix between ENCHANT and THE FLOWER KINGS, yet with Spanish lyrics. More info on this great South-American band at:
http://www.espiriturock.com.ar and e-mail them at: info@espiriturock.com.ar

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

PAIN OF SALVATION ‘BE’ (INSIDE OUT MUSIC/SUBURBAN)

PAIN OF SALVATION is another one of those bands you love or hate, and also an example of a band which is praised for it’s innovative actions on each album, but is in fact a band that never comes up with something memorable. The Swedish band has delivered another new CD in the shape of ‘Be’, a pure concept-album, but it should not be seen as progmetal concept album, because most of the time this CD has not much to do with Rock or Metal in general. The first couple of songs sound like intro’s, and later on all sorts of musical styles are revealed. The only song that comes close to a progmetalsong is the wonderful “Iter impius”. The concept idea is very interesting, which deals around the human beings on earth, but musically it is nothing special. Only for those die-hard progfans (I know many count this band as their favourite act, but I think they sound way too modern and use a lot of Nu-Metal into their music), who are interested in checking out a new (even more experimental than usual) CD by the overated band PAIN OF SALVATION.

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

ANYONE’S DAUGHTER ‘WRONG’
(INSIDE OUT MUSIC/SUBURBAN)


The legendary German Sympho/Progressive Rockband ANYONE’S DAUGHTER has been on the scene ever since the mid 1970s, and they can be mentioned alongside all those other 70s progressive/symphonic rockbands from Germany (JANE, ELOY, RAMSES etc.). ‘Wrong’ is their 2nd comeback album since 1984, although the previous album ‘Danger world’ sounded slightly different (poppier and more modern), so ‘Wrong’ is the actual return to their classic 70s symphonic/progressive rocksound. The first 2 songs show directly that this ANYONE’S DAUGHTER is one of the better German progressive rockbands. Both “The wrong” and “Miscellaneous” are awesome melodic progressive rockers in the best 70s style (KANSAS meets KAYAK). Of course the rest of the CD is also very impressive, with as other highlights “Your time” (uptempo Synpho rocker), “Helios reloaded” (complicated progrocker) and the wonderful AOR ballad “Without you”. So, the CD also reveals some AOR/Pomprock influences (such as in “Happy go lucky”) and besides the fact that the band has a strong big melodic progressive rocksound, most remarkable in ANYONE’S DAUGHTER is their superb lead singer (Andre Carswell), who proves he is an amazing lead singer. Andre comes out of the USA and has been with the band since they made a comeback in 2001 with the album ‘Danger world’. Anyway, this CD is filled with some very high class progressive rock. Concluded, a total must-have for all the symphonic/progressive rockfans, especially those who are into bands like JANE, ELOY, RAMSES and of course A NYONE’S DAUGHTER!

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

SAXON ‘LIONHEART’ (SPV)

It’s been 25 years since the legendary UK metalband SAXON released their debut album, and they have built a big reputation during this period. Now they return with the new CD ‘Lionheart’, a typical SAXON record which contains classic NWOBHM orientated material (such as opener “Witchfinder general” which even reveals some PRIEST influences) and Melodic Heavy/Hardrock. It’s a very powerful album that somehow also has a strong German Hardrock/Metal approach (just listen to the ACCEPTish “Man and machine”), but most of the time this is the SAXON like the fans want to hear them. The highlights are the melodic heavy rockers “Man and machine”, “Lionheart” (very strong song), “To live by the sword” (True Metal anthem!) and “Searching for Atlantis” (very melodic midtempo piece). Every SAXON fan will be pleased with this new CD of the band, although it doesn’t reach the high level of the early 80s days, it’s still a great SAXON record, which is their best in years, so better check it out if you’re a True Hardrock/Metalfan!

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

GLENROCK ‘3 MINUTES OF SILENCE’ (BRENNUS RECORDS)

The French band GLENROCK returns with a new CD release titled ‘3 minutes of silence’. The band’s musicstyle hasn’t changed and although it does sound good, I am afraid it will not be noticed between the thousands of other melodic heavy rock/metal releases done very year. 9 songs are included, and like I already mentioned, the musicstyle is melodic heavy rock/metal which reminds me a lot of AXXIS. Songs like “Winds of the sea”, “3 minutes of silence” and “Our war cry” are good uptempo heavy rockers, but still it feels like I am missing something catchy in the recordings of GLENROCK. However, check it out if you’re a die-hard melodic heavy rock/metalfan!

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

PHENIX ‘WINGS OF FIRE’ (BRENNUS RECORDS)

The French band PHENIX was formed 4 years ago, and ‘Wings of fire’ is their 2nd CD so far. Musically they play good strong traditional 80s influenced guitar orientated True Metal with a lot of influences from MANOWAR and HAMMERFALL, but also focusing on some more Melodic Hardrock orientated material here and there. The band has a superb lead singer (Bertrand Gramond), who is definitely the most remarkable member in the band. He is giving PHENIX’s music a big push forward and also level up the rating of their new CD. Most of the 13 included songs are quite strong and I can easily say that PHENIX has come up with a strong record that can easily compete with other MANOWAR like bands such as MAJESTY. Songs like “Trial by fire”, “Blood in the arena”, “Still believe” and “Time to live” are great uptempo melodic hardrock/metal pieces, while the more midtempo orientated material is also quite impressive (especially “Guardians of Metal” and “The quest goed ever on...”). Finally, the band also managed to record a song in the true MANOWAR “Black wind, fire and steel” style, namely the fast uptempo True Power Metal piece “Firewings”. Concluded, a must-have CD for every True Metalfan!

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

SAGA ‘NETWORK’ (SPV)

The Canadian Symphonic Melodic Rockband SAGA has been doing a lot of new releases the past 5 years. In this period we saw the release of 4 new Studio-CDs (also counting this new record), a few DVD releases, a greatest hits and live release. Now it’s time to talk about a complete new studio-CD ‘Network’, which I think is one of their strongest release since their early 80s masterpieces. The band had to call in a replacement for original drummer Steve Negus, who took some time off, but instead we get to hear a great replacement in the shape of Christian Simpson, who happens to be a very skilled old-fashioned Hardrockish drummer. It seems like this new SAGA CD is a step into a real Rock style, because ‘Network’ sounds more than ever like a pure Melodic Rock record, but still capturing the true SAGA touch. 10 songs are included, of which I would like to mention as highlights “On the air”, “Keep it reel”, “I’m back” and “Don’t make a sound” (best song), all great uptempo melodic rockers. Although the CD starts very rocking, it gets a bit more semi-ballad orientated in the middle part, and also slightly weaker towards the end, although the closing track “Don’t make a sound” is one of the best SAGA songs in years! Anyway, the semi-ballads are also quite nice, especially the emotional “Believe”. Concluded, this new SAGA CD has a much rockier sound, bigger drumsound, heavy guitar riffs and like always some really fantastic melodic (prog) rockers. Not only a must-have for the SAGA fans, but also melodic rockfans can easily check out this great new album of the legendary Canadian band...

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

SNAKERYDER ‘D.O.A.’ (Z RECORDS)

SNAKERYDER is a new band from New Jersey, USA and they play good old 80s LA Party/Hardrock’n’roll in the style of QUIET RIOT, WASP, CRUE, DIRTY LOOKS, RATT... There are no surprises here, but still fans of quality 80s Hardrock will love this a lot, and as best tracks I should mention “Got no time for romance” (good late 80s Y&Tish rocker), “Love it bites” (catchy melodic rocker) “Don’t wanna let go” (fantastic pure late 80s strong melodic rockballad, radio-ready US 1989 a la WARRANT, FIREHOUSE, WINGER, with a very strong chorus and classy guitarsolo), “There’s a price you have to pay” (uptempo catchy melodic rocker) and “Danger zone” (SUPERB strong DOKKENish melodic rocker, but also pure Y AND T ‘Contagious’). The band’s lead singer reminds me a lot of DAVE MENIKETTI, but the music is like a commercial version of late 80s Y AND T ‘Contagious’ period. Without a doubt a high quality release from the US of A! Check it out if you’re a fan of one of the mentioned bands... More info at:
http://www.snakeryder.com

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

GATLING GUN ‘TASTE OF 80S’ (ONLY MUSIC)

The Italian band GATLING GUN is clearly influenced by the 80s, because their music sounds like a cross between TWISTED SISTER, WASP and MOTLEY CRUE. This is 80s US Party Metal with catchy singable choruses. Although it’s all done at demo level, with a weaker production, the 4 songs on this mini-CD show that this is a good band playing their music quite well. Their guitarists definitely knows how to play the guitar very well (sadly one of them – Frank Abatucci – died a few years ago) and songs like “Screamers” and “Born to the devil” are catchy uptempo Melodic Party Metal songs in the best early 80s CRUE meets early 80s TWISTER SISTER style. The best song has got to be “Manhattan breakdown”, which is pure 1985 Melodic Hardrock like DOKKEN, WHITE LION and BONFIRE in their best days. The sound o this song is just so pure 1980s, and also the vocals sound much better than on the other songs, particularly during the bridge before the chorus. The sound quality is very diverse, because a few songs have a bad sound quality, while others are sounding quite good. Nevertheless, musically this is a nice band to check out if you like TWISTED SISTER and CRUE. More info through e-mail at:
fabio_metaller@hotmail.com

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

CROSS ‘PLAYGROUNDS’ (PROGRESS RECORDS)

The Swedish band CROSS returns with a new CD titled ‘Playgrounds’. Musically we can once again enjoy the quality Neo-Progressive Rocksound we also heard on their earlier albums. The Neo-Prog of CROSS should be compared to the likes of IQ, PENDRAGON and early MARILLION, so then you can expect long songs with a lot of melodic instrumental parts (guitars, keys and also sadly a sax on 2 songs). There are even 3 fully instrumental songs out of the 7 included. The Neo-prog fans will love songs like “Let the day begin...”, “Deja vu”, “...and enter the game” and the 15 minutes counting closing track “Mesmerizing enterprize” (which reveals a big 80s sound by the way!), as they reflect that typical IQ sound every fan of this genre loves so much. I am not saying CROSS is as good as IQ, but with this new album they prove to be one of the better bands in the genre after the leading acts like IQ, ARENA, PENDRAGON and PALLAS.

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

VARIOUS ARTISTS ‘AFM RECORDS NEW SIGNINGS AND UPCOMING RELEASES’ (AFM RECORDS/ROCK INC)

This compilation of the German label AFM RECORDS contains 15 bands with each one track and also 7 short videoclips, so quite a lot if you don’t own any of the AFM releases. If you own them all, there are still 3 advanced demos of upcoming albums by AT VANCE, NOSTRADAMEUS and TARANTULA included. AT VANCE’s “Chained” is by far the best song on this compilation CD, because this is a monster midtempo melodic hard/heavy rock piece with awesome vocal work and classy guitarwork. Looking forward to the new AT VANCE, which should be out in January 2005. In the meantime, this is a short taster...

(Points: - )

ADAM BOMB ‘BONEYARD’ (Z RECORDS)

ADAM BOMB returns to the scene and musically not much has changed, although I am not too impressed with the start of the album, which contains some average Rock/Hardrock. However, later on the album it gets better with such 80s inspired Glamrockers like “Shattered smile”, “Life’s a bitch n then you live”, “Rock sex city” and “What in the world” that all sound like a cross between ALICE COOPER and POISON with even a BILLY IDOL kinda touch here and there. ADAM BOMB still tries to mix up every 80s Rockgenre (Glam. Hardrock, Metal) and some Punk into a fun exciting rockstyle, which works sometimes quite well. Check it out if you’re a dedicated 80s Rockfreak!

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

EUROPE ‘START FROM THE DARK’
(T&T RECORDS/SANCTUARY/SUBURBAN)


We had to wait for almost 13 years before the Swedish band EUROPE got together to record a new CD, but now ‘Start from the dark’ is about to be released to the public. Many dissapointing reviews have already seen the light of day, but we of Strutter’zine had a good listen for ya and we can announce that it’s a very good album, although it sounds somewhat different than 80s EUROPE, more like a modern version of ‘Prisoners in paradise’. It definitely helps that the band reunited in it’s true original line-up, with even JOHN NORUM playing the guitar and he does that in a very heavy 70s BLACK SABBATH groovy classic 70s Hardrock kinda way, so a slow dark groovy heavy sound is coming out of his guitar. 12 songs are included and opener “Got to have faith” is the kind of song you hear once and then you think by yourself: “What kind of song I just listened to?”, so it’s one of those songs that doesn’t make any impression. It’s an average groovy hardrocksong that goes nowhere, and in general it has not much to do with EUROPE. The following 3 songs are happily much much better. “Start from the dark” and “Flames” are both great uptempo melodic heavy rockers, with a modern twist, but they do sound quite good actually, although only the (fantastic) chorus of “Start from the dark” is classic EUROPE. One song that stands out between the rest of the CD is “Hero”, which is a classic midtempo EUROPE semi-ballad (‘Out of this world’/’Prisoners in paradise’ area), with a strong sound in general, including a big hook, perfect vocals and a very catchy AORish chorus, definitely one of the best songs on the CD and probably the only pure EUROPE song, with even a nice twin-guitarsound!

Next track “Wake up call” isn’t bad either, a good uptempo melodic heavy rocker with a strong chorus, in the same style as “Start from the dark” and “Flames”. So far so good, except for that weak opener. Then we get to the first modern rocksong titled “Reason”, not really a bad song, but the weakest EUROPE song I heard in years, but sadly it gets worse on “Song no. 12”, which has nice BLACK SABBATH guitar riffs, but the song basically goes nowhere. Much better is the semi-ballad “Roll with you”, which has a strong EUROPE ‘Prisoners in paradise’ kinda vibe. One more great uptempo melodic heavy rocker is “Sucker” which is pure HAREM SCAREM actually, although the only negative thing is the verse line sssssssucker during the chorus, which falls a bit out of place in the song. Next track “Spirit of the underdog” starts with a short piano/keyboardintro, then throws in some heavy BLACK SABBATH guitar riffs, and ends up being a fantastuc semi-rocker with a good strong melodic chorus, so definitely one of the highlights of the CD.

“America” is yet another great uptempo melodic heavy rocker with a modern guitarsound (although John will probably say it’s classic 70s BLACK SABBATH), but also good lead vocals of Joey Tempest. Joey seems to sing rather well on the new album, sometimes unlike his past and more in the style of his solo songs (such as on closing track “Settle for love”, a calmer acoustic semi-ballad), but on the other hand we can also hear him singing very melodic. Still I need to add that nowhere on the CD (except maybe on “Hero”) Joey is actually singing like on the first couple of EUROPE records. So, the music is sounding modern most of the time, but still it has a good strong melodic heavy rock approach, like an updated version of the first 2 EUROPE albums meets the ‘Prisoners in paradise’ record, so the comparisons to a NICKELBACK (like many reviews want us to believe) are clearly out of place here. The best way to describe the new EUROPE CD is that it’s a mix between the guitar riffs of 70s BLACK SABBATH, the modern melodic heavy rock of HAREM SCAREM (last few albums) and the choruses and melodies of EUROPE circa ‘Prisoners in paradise’. The first 5 songs sound very strong and are actually showing a new EUROPE that sounds quite impressive! The rest of the CD is a bit weaker, but not bad at all and towards the end it gets quite good again actually. However, if you’re expecting “The final countdown” part 2, then get outta here, because keyboards and 80s rocksounds are not included on this new EUROPE CD, but people who appreciate a good modern sounding melodic heavy rockalbum will like this a lot. It surely isn’t as good as the first 4 EUROPE classics, but at least it’s as good as ‘Prisoners in paradise’, so I would rate it as the band’s 5th best studio-album. It’s not a major disappointment, because the CD has many good songs to offer, but on the other hand it still isn’t as good as classic EUROPE, so I am afraid it will not reach the success of their ‘The final countdown’ album. Nevertheless, this is a good comeback of the legendary Swedish band and now it’s up to the Swedish band to come treat us with a concert that gives us not only the new stuff, but also
all the old EUROPE classics!

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

ANTI-DEPRESSIVE DELIVERY ‘FEEL MELT RELEASE ESCAPE’ (THE LASER’S EDGE/INTROMENTAL)

This is the debut CD release of the Norwegian band ANTI-DEPRESSIVE DELIVERY, who are playing a sort of melodic progressive rock/metal style. What we get to hear is of a very high level, and is slightly comparable to EVERYGREY, only without the huge guitarsound (although the guitars are at the front, the sound is not as big as EVERGREY). 9 songs are included, and especially “Coward”, “Penny”, “0” and “The anti-depressive delivery” are all very strong modern sounding melodic progressive rock/metalsongs with an own identity. The band mixes the mellotron/hammon organ sound of the progressive rock and 70s classic hardrock with the heavy guitarsound of progressive metal as we know it today. However, the band is also quite diverse on the Thrash-Metal inspired “Voyage of no brain discovery” and the groovier (almost GLENN HUGHES kinda) 70s Funk-Rock orientated “Path of sorrow”. Concluded, this ANTI-DEPRESSIVE DELIVERY is not just another progressive rock/metalband, but a great innovative band with some interesting ideas around their progressive rock/metalsound.

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

WHITE WILLOW ‘STORM SEASON’ (THE LASER’S EDGE/INTROMENTAL)

‘Storm season’ is the 4th CD of the Norwegian band WHITE WILLOW. Musically they are a Progressive Rockband, but especially on their new album they have mixed it with some other musical influences (Gothic, Folk, Metal and Jazz), so in the end they sound very original. The band has a strong female singer, and songs like “Soulburn”, “Chemical sunset” and “Nightside of Eden” are very impressive original progressive rocksongs. WHITE WILLOW has created an own kind of Progressive Rockstyle, which is quite hard these days, because there are so many other bands in this genre out there. Anyway, I can highly recommend this CD to all Progrock/metalfans, whom are looking for a band with an own style, because that’s what WHITE WILLOW is all about.

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

RIVERSIDE ‘OUT OF MYSELF’ (THE LASER’S EDGE/INTROMENTAL)

Although the bio says this Polish band is sounding like a mix between OPETH, ANATHEMA and PINK FLOYD, I can still inform you that the band is a pure Progressive Rockband, mainly because lead singer (and bassist) Mariusz Duda is able to sing very well. Sometimes the band sounds like a more experimental and heavier version of JADIS. 9 tracks are included in total. Opener “The same river” is basically a great melodic Neo-Progressive Rocksong, with a slight dark mystical approach. It’s also one of the absolute highlights, and with 12 minutes of running time quite lengthy. Other highlights are the instrumental ‘Reality dream” (with awesome keyboardwork), “Loose heart” (very relaxing, almost like SIMPLE MINDS and FOR ABSENT FRIENDS) and the instrumental “The curtain falls”. Concluded, not a bad CD at all, so nice to check out for the all-round Progressive Rockfan!

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

LUNATICA ‘FABLES AND DREAMS’ (FRONTIERS RECORDS/BERTUS)

Out of Switzerland comes LUNATICA, a band I already reviewed sometime ago when they released their debut ‘Atlantis’, but now they have released a follow-up on the FRONTIERS RECORDS label. The CD is titled ‘Fables and dreams’, and I can inform you that it’s a very impressive album. The CD was produced by none-other than SASCHA PAETH (AINA, KAMELOT, RHAPSODY, ANGRA...), who gave it a huge sound, comparable to his other productions, so this is without a doubt a high quality release. Musically this is typical Female fronted Gothic Melodic Metal in the style of NIGHTWISH, XANDRIA, LEAVES’ EYES, WITHIN TEMPTATION etc. Although this might sound like a cliche record, it definitely is a very strong high quality record which is basically radio-ready to attack the European charts (in Switzerland the band is already very successfull).10 songs are included and uptempo melodic rockers like “Avalon”, “Elements”, “Still believe”, “Hymn”, “Silent scream (2004)” (pure NIGHTWISH!!!) and a wonderful ballad such as “Fable of dreams” are songs that will be loved by both AOR/Melodic Rock and Gothic Metal fans. In the end, the band sounds like a perfect mix between NIGHTWISH, COASTLINE and WITHIN TEMPTATION. The female lead singer (Andrea Datwyler) has a fantastic voice, and basically everything sounds perfect, maybe a bit too polished sometimes, but who cares if the song are extremely catchy. I highly recommend this CD, once again to both NIGHTWISH fans and people who appreciate a band like COASTLINE...

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

BON JOVI ‘ROCK LEGENDS DVD’ (WIENERWORLD)

‘Rock legends’ is a very rare DVD release from BON JOVI, which is actually more a JOB BON JOVI/ALDO NOVA kinda interview DVD than a BON JOVI DVD. The playing time says 55 minutes, but it’s actually 39 minutes. Nevertheless, the footage is very rare and never before seen, so interesting for die hard BON JOVI and ALDO NOVA fans. Where’s the link you might think? Well, that’s easy, because back in the early 90s Jon Bon Jovi produced and co-wrote the ALDO NOVA album ‘Blood on the bricks’, which was just recently re-released by the way. This DVD contains mainly footage of the recording sessions for this ALDO NOVA album, which was recorded in Canada by the way. There’s an interview with mostly Jon about his band, past and present, while also Aldo is able to share some light on his own career. Between the interviews we can see some short clips and rare footage of BON JOVI, but like I said this sure isn’t a pure BON JOVI DVD, but rather a short Job Bon Jovi/Aldo Nova kinda DVD, so only interesting for the die-hard fans. You can get a copy of the DVD through:
http://www.wienerworld.com

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

MILLENIUM ‘THE BEST OF...AND MORE’
(FRONTIERS RECORDS/BERTUS)


Looking back at the past of MILLENIUM it is unbelievable they never released a better record than their amazing debut CD from 1997. That first album was one of the best melodic rock releases in 1997, and no album after that release reached that high level of the fantastic debut CD. The band was formed by ex-DEATH (!!!) guitarist Ralph Santolla, who turned the clock back in time on that wonderful debut CD of MILLENIUM, because this was prime-time 80s Melodic Rock with big hooks, catchy choruses, fantastic lead vocals by a guy called TODD PLANT (who recently sang on that fantastic CRYPIC VISION record) and that debut also had a fantastic HUGE sound. I still can not believe why this album wasn’t a big hit among the melodic rock community. Nevertheles, we are now 7 years later and FRONTIERS RECORDS give some of the songs from that debut another chance in the shape of this 2-CD best of set of the American band. Included are 4 tracks from their debut, 6 from ‘Hourglass’ and 8 from ‘Angelfire’, but the most interesting thing about this release are the 10 unreleased songs on CD 2,
such as the covers “Jane” (JEFFERSON STARSHIP), “I surrender” (RAINBOW) and “Love is like Oxygen” (THE SWEET) and own demos like “Sea of sadness” and “Rain”. Most of these unreleased songs are sung by JORN LANDE by the way. Although the covers are a bit useless, because these are exactly the kind of songs so many bands/artists cover, it is nice to hear some decent cover versions of these classic rocksongs (“I surrender” for example is performed exactly like RAINBOW recorded it, even the lead vocals of Jorn sound like JOE LYNN TURNER, unbelievable!). Anyway, nice to own if you’re a fan of the band, and for me personally I think this 2-CD set is more interesting than the recent new MILLENIUM album, because on this 2-CD set are at least 4 of the band’s best songs (all from their debut, which I still rate as a superb highly underrated record!), while the recent MILLENIUM release was slightly average (especially the production).

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

SILVER ‘ADDICTION’ (MTM MUSIC/SUBURBAN)

‘Addiction’ is the third CD of the all-star band SILVER, a band consisting of a few very well-known musicians such as Don Airey on keys (DEEP PURPLE, RAINBOW, WHITESNAKE), Michael Voss on guitars (CASANOVA, MAD MAX) and lead singer Gary Barden (STATETROOPER, MSG). Together they recorded a nice melodic rockalbum, which sounds actually quite different than the standard melodic rock release. Somehow SILVER reminds me a lot of MAGNUM, only slightly weaker. The sound is top-notch, and songs like “Why did you come back”, “Angeline” and “This is my life” are nice melodic rockers, but somehow I miss something and quite a few songs did not convince me at all (“I saw”, “Finish what you started”). It’s not an album you immediately fall in love with, because it’s a melodic rock record with a sort of 80s Goth approach sometimes (bassist is ex-SISTERS OF MERCY by the way) and it is almost impossible to compare with, but I think MAGNUM comes close as best comparison. This is an album that needs to grow, so therefore the rating should not be taken that serious, as it could be a winner for some, while others will probably pass...

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

KISS ‘LIVE IN LAS VEGAS DVD’ (WIENERWORLD)

On the 29th of October, 1999 KISS gave away a performance in Las Vegas, and this DVD is a nice look back at this event. Only 4 tracks (live) can be found on this DVD, so I am not exactly sure if this is the complete broadcast. Anyway, the bonus footage is quite nice to watch, as this has not been available anywhere else so far. Some of the footage features KISS receiving their Star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, and also a few appearances of Gene and Paul are being shown. Although this is a nice DVD to watch, I can only recommend it to the die-hard KISS fans, because it looks (and sounds) very cheap. This surely isn’t comparable to the usual high quality KISS DVDs, and also the running time mentioned at the back is 20 minutes shorter, but still I think a die-hard KISS fan might want to check out this DVD, just because of the rare footage to be found on it. You can get a copy of the DVD through:
http://www.wienerworld.com

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

SAFE HAVEN ‘SAFE HAVEN’
(MTM MUSIC/SUBURBAN)


SAFE HAVEN is the new band/project of lead singer MIKE VESCARA, who is best known for his vocal duties for MALMSTEEN, OBSESSION, LOUDNESS, REIGN OF TERROR etc. This new band takes him into a new direction, because he usually only did melodic metal stuff, but with SAFE HAVEN we can hear Mike singing pure 80s AOR (with a very very strong JOURNEY approach). Some of the ballads included here, such as “Sorry baby” are dangerously close to JOURNEY. Although I don’t think Mike’s vocals are really meant for singing AOR, he does quite well on the CD, but then again as an AOR fan I need to inform you that it’s not as good as for example JOURNEY, FOREIGNER, SURVIVOR... Some of the songs are good AOR rockers, but at times it goes in one ear and out the other. Still AOR rockers like “Nothin’ like this feeling”, “Have faith, believe” and “Now that your gone” are quite a pleasure to listen to and are deadringers for the AOR/Melodic Rockfans out there. The style is very close to that of other Melodic Rockacts from the past few years (like SAVANNAH, FINAL FRONTIER, LORD GREY...), so get yourself copy if this sounds interesting for you, although I am afraid this isn’t a classic release, but just one of those nice melodic rock releases done many times before, so nothing new, but still good enough to play every once in a while!

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem, except where noted)

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