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HOT NEW REVIEWS

UPDATED ON MARCH 7 - 2005

VOYAGER ‘ELEMENT V’ (DVS RECORDS/BERTUS)

The band VOYAGER should not be confused with the countless other bands of the same name. This VOYAGER is however the same US band that released ‘Element V’ a few years ago. Now the album has been remastered and released through the Dutch label DVS RECORDS, so we are now looking at their official European release of their album ‘Element V’. I reviewed it back when it was released for the first time, so this re-release will get a slightly short review. What we get to hear here is high quality melodic Progressive Metal, which of course has strong similarities to DREAM TJHEATER, but VOYAGER also has an own face, which can best be heard in the songs “To the morning light”, “This bitter land”, “The ancient labyrinth”, “Kingdoms of control” and “Cosmic Armageddon part 2”. Recommended to the progmetalfans, listen and enjoy the journey of VOYAGER!

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

WOLFE BLITZER ‘METAL FROM THE ASHES’ (INDEPENDENT)

The US band WOLFE BLITZER return with a new CD, which is a very strong record that contains some awesome 80s inspired Melodic Metal. The band has a good strong female lead singer, who sounds like LEE AARON and DIO, but the music is very melodic, combined with big guitar riffs. They sound like a Metal version of TORONTO, with ICED EARTH backing them up. The production is good, and all 6 songs are quite sensational. I think this band from Texas definitely deserves to be heard elsewhere, and I even think songs like “Day of reckoning” and “Chasin’ souls” are worth enough to get them signed to a label. More info at: http://www.wolfeblitzer.com  and e-mail them at: info@wolfeblitzer.com 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

CARL DIXON ‘ONE VOICE, TWO HANDS’ (DIAMOND DITTY MUSIC)

As the title predicts, this CD is made up of one man with an acoustic guitar. The man is called CARL DIXON, who is best known as being the frontman for the fantastic Canadian Melodic Hardrockband CONEY HATCH. However, he went solo many years ago, and released a few great melodic rockalbums. Now he has a new CD out, which consists of acoustic covers of his all-time favourites. The performances are pretty good, and Carl’s vocals are still really amazing. It’s really nice to hear him perform with an acoustic guitar all-time classics of THE BEATLES, LED ZEPPELIN, THE WHO, PETER FRAMPTON, etc. Most of the material dates back to the 60s and 70s, when Carl grew up somewhere in Canada. The recordings took place during a live gig, and without any doubts, this is quality stuff, although I would rather hear Carl rocking like on his regular solo CDs. For that matter, Carl also sent me his recent solo CD ‘Into the future’, which has already been discusses by us when it was released on MTM Music a few years ago. This was a good rockalbum, although I still think that Carl did his best work during the CONEY HATCH records, of which I always surprise myself that they are not available on CD. I still have to put on the old LPs to have a listen to that timeless music. Maybe an idea to re-issue the albums onto CD, and have it released over here properly with bonustracks, videofootage and liner notes. But what am I talking here, because Carl is solo and he is concentrating on his own music. This CD is definitely recommended to fans of Carl, because his voice is still amazing… More info at: http://www.carldixon.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

DYING PASSION ‘SWEET DISILLUSIONS’ (METAL BREATH RECORDS)

Here’s a really great band from the Czech Republic. DYING PASSION has a female singer, and they are definitely not playing a pure Goth Metal style a la WITHIN TEMPTATION or AFTER FOREVER. This DYING PASSION is sounding darker, but still the songs contains beautiful melodies. Somehow this DYING PASSION has created an own sound, which not only has influences from the Goth style, but also some Jazz/Flamengo influences here and there. Not sure if this is their debut CD, but it’s definitely a great record, with songs like “From them”, “Him far away” and “High on the blind speed” being great melodic songs that combine the 80s and today’s Goth sounds, with some outside influences. But there are also clear CLANNAD/ENYA kinda songs on the album, such as the beautiful “Sweet disillusions. So, this is definitely something worth checking out if you want to hear real original Goth Rock/Metal, which is almost unthinkable in these times, but DYING PASSION has done it! More info at: http://www.voiny.cz/metalbreath 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

THE RAYS OF THE SUN ‘LIVING FLOWERS GALLERY’
(METAL BREATH RECORDS)

Here’s another Goth band that is more akin to the 80s kinda Goth a la THE MISSION, THE CULT, FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM, SISTERS OF MERCY, THE CURE etc. Nevertheless, the band is heavier and has clear metal riffs, so they combine all sorts of influences, which is a good thing, because in the end this THE RAYS OF THE SUN has an own sound, which will appeal to many people. The band has a male and female singer, who both sound quite good. The male vocals are 80s style (so dark and melancholic), while the female vocals are more melodic and akin to today’s Goth. The final result is a good CD of this band from the Czech Republic. Highlights among the 8 tracks included are “Awake”, “Follow copy” and “Past time’. Recommended to the Goth fans who do not want another WITHIN TEMPTATION! More info at: http://www.voiny.cz/metalbreath 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

SORATH ‘VIVIMOS EN PERPETUA GUERRA’ (METAL BREATH RECORDS)

Unfortunately this Czech band is playing Black metal, because they have a great guitarist who is able to play some beautiful melodies. However, their drummer is playing much too fast, while the music is uninspired Black Metal, which is a shame, because I’ll bet the guitarist can play Progmetal as well. Anyway, only interesting for die-hard Black metalfans! More info at: http://www.voiny.cz/metalbreath 

(Points: 5.2 out of 10)

FATE KEEPER ‘WHEEL OF THE CONTACT CHANGE’ (DEMO)

Here’s a band from Brazil, who are playing a good mix of 80s melodic hardrock and today’s power metal, with influences from HELLOWEEN, MAIDEN and BLIND GUARDIAN. The band has a good singer (although it sounds a bit rough and unpolished sometimes), a great guitarplayer and some very good songs among the 6 included on this mini-CD. Without a doubt, I musta dd that the best song is the lovely semi-epic melodic rocker “Northern dusk”, which contains all you want to hear in a ‘classic’ metal tune, because the melodies are beautiful and also the musical arrangements are quite nice. The other songs are mostly uptempo Melodic Power Metal the European way (although you can also hear compare it to ANGRA) with as best tracks “Blank existence” (don’t you just love such great guitar riffs) and “The path I tread”. Check out this band for yourself at: http://www.FateKeeper.com and e-mail the band at: band@fatekeeper.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

TRAIL OF TEARS ‘FREE FALL INFO FEAR’ (NAPALM RECORDS)

It seems like TRAIL OF TEARS is now moving on without a female singer, but instead feature 2 male singers, a melodic clean singer and death/black-grunts. The music is still very much Melodic Progressive Gothic Metal, with the Death/Black growls in every song. Of course it’s a pity the growls have become more and more prominent, especially if you consider the fact that the new melodic male lead singer has a fantastic voice, as good as the female singers from the band’s past line-ups. This can best be heard in the best songs of the new CD, namely “Carrier of the scars of life”, “Watch you fall” and “The face of jealousy”. A nice new album of TRAIL OF TEARS, but not as good as their previous albums, partly due to the intensive use of black/death-growls, more than ever before.

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

BELPHEGOR ‘GOATREICH FLESHCULT’ (NAPALM RECORDS)

Well, this is probably as close as you can get to pure Black Metal, so with the exception of people whom enjoy fast Extreme Black Metal, this CD is definitely not interesting for the Melodic Hardrock/AOR/Prog/Power Metalfans.

(Points: -)

CLEAVE ‘PLUVIOUS TOMORROWS’ (INDEPENDENT)

What do we have here then? Well, it’s a band from Austria, whom are probably influenced by the RADIOHEAD and COLDPLAY kinda British depressive Rock, although happily they have also thrown in some 80s Goth Rock (THE CURE) and even Progressive Rock elements (the guitarsound) into their music, so in the end they are more interesting, although I still think the singer is not really making things better, because his voice is after all a bit too much Alternative, with no expression or emotion. 14 songs are included, and although it is a quality release, I am afraid it will only attract people who are open-minded and more interested in hearing something along the lines of the last MARILLION, COLDPLAY or RADIOHEAD. More info at: http://www.cleave.at  and e-mail at: cleavemusic@yahoo.com.au 

(Points: 7.1 out of 10)

BLEED ‘DEMO CDR’ (DEMO CDR)

At first sight this band from California sounds a bit modern, but if you listen closely we are dealing here with a strong high quality Melodic Progressive Metalband, which reminds me A LOT of the latest DREAM THEATER classic ‘Train of thought’. The vocals are very good (bit 80s Metal style), while the guitarwork is modern here and there. The 4 songs on their demo CDR sound very impressive, and also the production is excellent. Although I stated Progressive Metal, the band is a little more straight-forward and not that progressive actually, especially in the fantastic 2nd song “Thrown it all away”, a song that sounds like an unbelievable mixture between KIX, KILLER DWARFS, SKID ROW, MEGADETH, QUIET RIOT and DIO (!!!). How on earth I came to this description is hard to explain, but it just happens to be the truth and the chorus is really catchy. Anyway, this is a great band to check out, and you can do that through: http://www.bleedrocks.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

MIMESIS ‘A LITTLE STORY’ (DEMO CDR)

A surprise from the Czech Republic! MIMESIS is a great female fronted band which is playing classy 80s aor/melodic rock in the style of PRIVATE LIFE, WITNESS, SARAYA, VIXEN, VXN, HEART, ALYSON AVENUE and so on. Never thought there were actually bands out there still making this kind of catchy melodic rock, but before I get angry letters I know of course we have COASTLINE, ALYSON AVENUE and several other Swedish bands, but a band from eastern Europe playing classic 80s melodic rock is definitely a surprise! The band has a very good singer and the 2 songs on this demo are both high class catchy 80s uptempo melodic rockers that owe a great deal to above mentioned acts. I am positive to say if you’re a collector of classy 80s ff melodic rock, then this MIMESIS is a must-have. Now if only they could record a full-length CD someday soon, then we might call this band a new sensation! More info at: http://www.mimesis.zde.cz and e-mail at: mimesis@seznam.cz 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

THE PHARAO’S ‘OPEN FIRE’ (RISESTAR PROMOTIONS)

Not sure if this band is coming out of Germany or Chile, but I got a promo of their CD from a new Chilean Promotion Agency. Anyway, musically they play aw Rock’n’Roll with Sleazy overtones, kinda like a mix between MOTORHEAD, AC/DC and CIRCUS OF POWER. I am not too happy about the band’s CD, because it all sounds very cheap and independent, so I am afraid it will only attract the absolute die-hard raw Biker-Metalfan, because at no level THE PHARAO’S are able to reach the spirit of mentioned bands. Check it out for yourself at: http://www.thepharaos.de 

(Points: 6.2 out of 10)

TIM BURNESS ‘FINDING NEW WAYS TO LOVE’ (EXPAND RECORDS)

The music on the CD of TIM BURNESS is not as Progressive Rock as you would like to hear it after reading the bio of Tim. Some of the additional musicians on the CD come from bands like PENDRAGON and DAMNED, so they hail from different music genres (Prog and Punk). The result is a CD, which has some New Wave, but mostly modest calm pop/rock written all over, something like the last MARILLION record. OK, without a doubt, this is a quality CD, but you can forget about the uptempo rockers here, because it is a very emotional modest modern melodic pop/rock album, which has it’s highlights in the songs “Stepping out”, “Love is for giving” and “Walk through the darkness”. Not actually a Rockalbum, but still nice to hear something more quiet, which might even attract fans of JOHN WAITE or JOHN PARR. More info at: http://www.timburness.com 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

WISHBONE ASH ‘TIME WAS… THE LIVE ANTHOLOGY’
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY)

WISHBONE ASH is a legendary band from the UK who were one of the first twin-guitarbands in the world! Probably they must have influenced THIN LIZZY in the 1970s, because WISHBONE ASH was already formed long before THIN LIZZY, namely in the late 60s. Without a doubt, they have always been a high quality band performing their own kind of style, which contains influences from Blues, Hardrock and Progressive Rock, which all together is named by many people as CLASSIC ROCK. Of course the band released a dozen of studio albums, but this particular release concerns a double-live CD of the band. The recordings took place in Japan 14 years ago (disc 1, which was originally released as ‘Live – Timeline’) and the USA, 1976 and Canada, 1973 (disc 2 – original release: ‘The king will come – Live’). The sound board quality is perfect and so are the performances on these concerts. This is definitely a beautiful document, because it contains 2 full concerts of the band, in their beginnings, during their heydays and from a more recent date. The band still performs a lot, with a tour going on through Europe at the moment, and these 2 live discs on ‘Time was… The live anthology’ show how good this band really is. In total you get to hear 26 songs, of which of course most important tracks are the WISHBONE ASH classics “The king will come”, “Blowin’ free”, Throw down the sword” and more aor based material from the late 80s (“Standing in the rain”, “Why don’t we” and “Lost cause in paradise”). The past brought us many legendary UK Classic Rockbands, whom all were formed during the 1970s and are still going strong, WISHBONE ASH is one of them, and let’s just hope they will be around for much longer. This 2-CD set is something worth owning to be reminded of the high level of the band.

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

JOE LYNN TURNER ‘THE USUAL SUSPECTS’
 (FRONTIERS/ROUGH TRADE)

Mr. JOE LYNN TURNER returns with a new solo CD, which musically is akin back to the glorious 80s Melodic Rock records he did with RAINBOW and his first solo-record ‘Rescue you’, which is till this day an underrated AOR Classic. Anyway, this new album contains high class melodic hard rock, guitar orientated, but with tons of pleasant melodies. The choruses are very catchy and super strong, very much like the 80s RAINBOW records. You can not compare this new record of Joe to his previous solo albums, which all suffered a poor Bluesy Rocksound. This new CD is a lovely melodic hardrockalbum, which finds it’s highlights in songs like “Power of love” (uptempo rocker), “Devil’s door” (super strong chorus), “Rest of my life” (a lovely semi AOR ballad with amazing chorus), “Into the fire” (catchy uptempo rocker) and “Live and love again” (HOUSE OF LORDS kinda semi-ballad). This is a very nice comeback once again from one of America’s best singers, and very much recommended to fans of RAINBOW, MALMSTEEN, BRAZEN ABBOT, etc. although the best comparison I can come up with is definitely the classic COBRA release with JIM JAMISON on vocals, if anyone can remember?

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

THUNDER ‘THE MAGNIFICENT SEVENTH’
 (FRONTIERS/ROUGH TRADE)

One of Britains most popular 90s Classic Hardrockbands makes a return on the FRONTIERS RECORDS label with the release of their new album ‘The magnificent seventh’, an album filled with the same kind of high class bluesy hardrock which made THUNDER a very popular band in especially their native country of the UK. The new album also drives on that Bluesy Rock rhythm in typical 70s style (hello FREE and BAD COMPANY). This THUNDER is a deadringer for fans of PAUL RODGERS, not only vocally, but also musically this is one of the very few bands that make this kind of classic British bluesy hardrock the 70s way. The new album is another nice piece of original Classic Rock, with as highlights “The Gods of love”, “I’m dreaming again” (beautiful semi melodic rockballad), “One fatal kiss” (nice melodic rocker, very 80s sounding, with a THIN LIZZY guitarsound) and “Amy’s on the run” (catchy uptempo melodic rocker). Although you will not find something sensational as “Love walks in” on this record, I still think this is a very strong comeback of these legendary rockers from England. Recommended if you like the band obviously, but also to fans of FREE, BAD COMPANY, MAGNUM…

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

RENAISSANCE ‘INNOCENTS AND ILLUSIONS’
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

What BLACKMORE’S NIGHT is doing nowadays was done some 30-35 years ago by former YARDBIRDS members in a new band called RENAISSANCE. They played a mix of classical music, medieval folk rock and classic hardrock, sounding very different than any other band at that time. This re-issue is a 2-CD set, which contains the first 2 albums the band released. Both albums come with unreleased bonustracks and some very nice extensive written liner notes, which makes this 2-CD set a must-have for any musicfan. The recordings took place in 1969 and 1971, with some of the bonustracks recorded in the 90s, so you will understand that this 2-cd set is an important piece of history. The liner notes tell us a lot of nice stories, so enough to read while listening to the CD’s. Back to the included music, which are 17 tracks in total, of which some are quite lengthy, such as the opener “Kings and queens”, a masterpiece if you ask me that didn’t sound like any other band at that time. Like all the other SANCTUARY releases, this CD is without a doubt a must-have for the fans of the band, but because there has been pot a lot of effort into this release, it will attract any musicfan, because it is such a nice collection of music history, with the liner notes and pictures added as visual aspect. The band featured male and female vocals, which also at that time was quite rare for a Rockband, but then again RENAISSANCE is not a Rockband, but they were a band that put influences from Classical Music, Progrock, Sympho, Hardrock and Folk into an exciting new style, which nowadays is also been made by the likes of BLACKMORE’S NIGHT. A few songs had some similarities to PROCOL HARUM (such as “Love is all”), but most of the time this band had an own identity. Many more albums were released after the first 2 albums, but this CD contains maybe some of the best work RENAISSANCE did in their entire career. So better get this amazing 2-CD set, because it will give you an inside look on the first couple of years of RENAISSANCE.

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

DARK SKY ‘LIVING AND DYING’ (AOR HEAVEN)

I was very enthusiastic about the 2nd CD ‘Edge of time’ of the band DARK SKY back in 2002, because it contained awesome big time 80s influenced Melodic Rock like BONFIRE, DOMINOE, DAYTONA and CRAAFT in their heydays. Now they are back and once again they release a very good record, which features some really catchy tunes. OK, nothing new is brought here, but a few songs belong to the best of German Melodic Rock. It’s easy to compare the band to JADED HEART, FRONTLINE, BONFIRE and such, but the band actually has an own face, although in each song you hear all kinds of comparisons (also reminding me of DAVINCI, DALTON and TREAT very much). There are 13 songs on their new CD ‘Living and dying’, which is divided in uptempo rockers, midtempo songs and ballads. It is a pure 80s Melodic Rock record with catchy harmonyvocals and a tight beat, with keys and guitars sounding the way they suppose to sound. Although the CD doesn’t start that sensational with the average “Twisted”, the following tracks are all definitely high class catchy melodic rock. I am talking about the uptempo melodic rockers “Save our souls”, “The feeling is over” and “Back again”, the midtempo “Living and dying” and the fantastic melodic rockballad “You are my life”, which is radio-ready for sure! Other highlights are the semi ballad “Give love to everyone”, “Cute little lies” (uptempo melodic rocker) and “Tonight” (late 70s/early 80s sound, very catchy chorus). Highly recommended to any fan of catchy 80s melodic rock the European way (or shall we say the Swedish and German way!).

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

WASTED ‘HEROES AMONGST THIEVES’ (COMBAT RECORDS)

Out of Finland comes WASTED, a band that is clearly inspired by early 80s UK Punk/Oi! The songs are sharp, catchy and contain strong melodic choruses. 12 songs are on their CD ‘Heroes amongst thieves’, which is their 3rd CD so far. Songs like “The prisoner”, “Soundtrack for my escape”, “Collision” and “Lessons” are good clean fun early 80s sounding Melodic UK Punk/Oi! Songs in the style of BLITZ, THE BUSINESS and SHAM 69. The songs feature those typical sing-a-long choruses, which easily stick in your head. Without a doubt, for this genre, this is a high quality release (mastered at the famous Metal studios of Finnvox) and it once again proves that Finland can only deliver good bands. More info at: http://www.fireinsidemusic.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

I WALK THE LINE ‘BADLANDS’ (COMBAT RECORDS)

Quite a unique Finnish Punkband, because they definitely sound different than the standard non-stop fast Punkbands, which is partly due to an Organ player who is in the line-up of I WALK THE LINE. Also the songs are more midtempo and very melodic, with a strong Rock’n’Roll approach (a la THE CULT). Actually I would not call this Punk, but more original raw dirty mean Rock’n’roll, which just isn’t too far away from let’s say ROSE TATTOO, THE ANGELS, THE CULT, D.A.D., JET CIRCUS, MOTORHEAD and that kind of bands. Songs like “In retrospect”, “Vagrant’s burden” and “Demons are forever” are very catchy tunes which will attract fans of both original Rock’n’Roll and Punk. Maybe a bit polished for the Punkfans, but Rock’n’Roll enough to make it interesting for Hardrock/Metalfreaks! More info at: http://www.fireinsidemusic.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

BOMBSHELL ROCKS ’LOVE FOR THE MICROPHONE’ (COMBAT RECORDS)

Here’s a band that was previously on the labels EPITAPH and BURNING HEART RECORDS. ‘Love for the microphone’ is their 4th CD, but their very first on the Finnish label COMBAT RECORDS. The band is playing very catchy Melodic PunkPoprock, which has a clear late 70s UK approach, although some CHEAP TRICK kinda similarities are also possible, because of the catchy choruses. The CD is actually a mini-CD, with only 6 tracks that have a total playing length of 13 minutes, but on the other hand songs like “Dead end kids”, “No:1” and “Down below” are very catchy uptempo Punkrockers in the good old CLASH/GENERATION X style. Let’s hope for a full length CD soon, and don’t be scared off by the acoustic opener, because the remaining 5 songs rock hard! More info at: http://www.fireinsidemusic.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

DEADLINE ‘GETTING SERIOUS’
(PEOPLE LIKE YOU RECORDS)

This is really great stuff, and by far some of the best Punk Rock around today! DEADLINE should not be confused with the bunch of namesakes I have reviewed over the past few years. No, this DEADLINE comes out of the UK and have a CD release out on the German label PEOPLE LIKE YOU RECORDS. Right From the start with the very catchy uptempo “The world keeps turning” you know you’re listening to a very impressive Punkrockalbum. The band has a very good female lead singer called Liz Rose, who is probably one of the best singers in the Punk Rockscene. And musically they play super melodic catchy early 80s inspired PunkPopRock like a mix between VICE SQUAD, THE RUNAWAYS, early GIRLSCHOOL and early THE DONNAS. 14 songs are included, and most of them are very catchy, with memorable singable choruses and flashy guitarwork. Highlights are “Serious” (lovely tune with superb chorus and excellent guitarwork in the early 80s style), “Take no chances”, “Out of luck”, “Secrets” and “This girl”. Without a doubt, one of the best Melodic PunkPopRock records at the moment and much better than the new GIRLSCHOOL and DONNAS records combined! More info at: http://www.deadline-uk.com  and http://www.peoplelikeyourecords.com

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

UFO ‘FLYING – THE EARLY YEARS 1970-1973’
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

Before there was UFO with MICHAEL SCHENKER, the legendary UK band had already released a couple of albums, which were musically not that far away from the band’s later successful work, but slightly different (bar room boogie rock influences mixed with psychedelic hardrock and blues here and there) and not that sensational as for example classics like “Doctor doctor”. However, still these first couple of albums of UFO are quite interesting, and because of the fact they have been almost impossible to get, this new 2-CD set released through SANCTUARY MUSIC is much recommended to the UFO fans and anyone who wants to hear good old early 70s British Rock. The CDs contain the albums ‘UFO 1’ (released in 1970), ‘Flying’ (1971), the ‘Live’ record from 1972 and the obscure 7” single as released in 1972. All together the album features 22 rare UFO tracks, which will be very interesting to hear for not only the UFO fan, but anyone wanting to hear how classic British Rock from 30-35 years ago. It’s amazing that it was just the start of the band so many years ago, because UFO today is still very much alive with touring and releasing records, although the line-up has changed many times. Still, this 2-CD set is a nice compilation of some of the early work of a very underrated band, who were quite popular with the fans, fellow musicians and even the press, but didn’t make it as big as MAIDEN or DEF LEPPARD for example. Without a doubt, this is a must-have CD for any UFO fan!

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

ELP ‘LIVE AT THE ROYAL ALBERT GALL’
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

Rock without a guitarist and still enjoyable seems weird but it is possible. I’m talking here about Emerson Lake and Palmer, where the most important element of the band is the keyboard and other related equipment of Keith Emerson. Every live concert of the band is different due to Keith’s amazing talents. This concert registration is from 1993 during their first European Tour since twenty years. The last time they played in the Royal Albert Hall in London was in 1968, but after that gig they were banned to play in England for a couple of years. The reason was because Keith Emerson burned the flag of the United States during their song “America”. At this concert from 1993 they played the song again, but this time without incidents. Other great songs ELP played are the classic prog songs “Tarkus”, “Knife edge” and some classical interpretations of “Romeo & Juliet” and “Creole dance”. Of course the most simple and successful song of ELP “Lucky man” is not forgotten. Like many prog rock bands the live registrations are more interesting than the studio versions. So if you are fan of ELP or Progressive Rock in general don’t hesitate and buy this record.

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

GIRLSCHOOL ‘SCREAMING BLUE MURDER’
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

Originally released in 1982 as Girlschools' third album, this ‘Screaming blue murder’ was to be their last real "Metal album", before they went into a more melodic way to conquer America, which of course failed hopelessly. For the younger lads under us this album is very similar to what THE DONNAS are doing nowadays (especially like on their album "Spend the night"), which is straight ahead Rock 'n Roll with influences from the N.W.O.B.H.M and Punk Rock. And not only musically also lyrically there are similarities, if anyone remembers the video clip of the song "Don't call it love" with the bodybuilders (including a very young Arnie Schwarzenegger). There is one bonus track on the disc called "Don't stop" but most interesting is a full concert from 1982 recorded by the BBC in London which sounds very good. The concert contains songs from the first three albums including the classics "Emergency" and "Tush". Concluded, a must-have for any fan of Female Fronted Rock’n’Roll!

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

VOGELFREI ‘IRGENDWOHIN’ (ASPHALT RECORDS/BANDWORM RECORDS)

Punk is sometimes very melodic, such as this German band VOGELFREI. They have released a mini-CD, consisting of 6 tracks, which contains super melodic Punk-Rock, probably belonging to some of the best in the Punkscene so far. Everything sounds good with this band, the vocals, the sound and the 6 songs on their CD. “Ein leben lang”, “Heute nacht” and “Irgendwohin” (very polished, radio-ready Poprock) are all great faster uptempo melodic catchy Punkrockers. The lyrics are in German, but that isn’t a problem at all, because the songs are easy to sing-a-long with. This is one of those bands that will be appreciated far outside of the Punkscene, because their songs are catchy and will appeal to anyone who likes Pop and Rockmusic. More info at: http://www.asphalt-records.de  and http://www.bandwormrecords.de 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

RED UNION ‘REBEL ANTHEMS’ (BANDWORM RECORDS)

RED UNION is a band from Serbia, and their first CD is definitely one of the better sounding Punkrock records. The CD contains 13 tracks, packed in a high quality production. The music is not your typical raw Punkrock, because it has very catchy melodies and melodic guitarwork. This is what I would call well-thought-Punk. It’s actually Melodic Rock with a Punky attitude. Songs like “Student radio”, “Land of the living dead”, “Rebel anthems”, “I hate girls like you” (this super catchy melodic poprocker sounds to me like an early 80s RICK SPRINGFIELD kinda song, which is a positive thing, as it makes the connection between aor/poprock and punkrock, which is interesting for anyone who is starting to get into Punk!) and all the other tracks on the debut CD of RED UNION are basically non-stop catchy uptempo Melodic punky rockers, which have all it takes in becoming classics in the Punk genre. The band has a very good singer, who sings without an accent, but also sings clean, very much like the late 70s Classic UK Punk. I think any fan of the old UK Punk (a la THE BOYS, THE CLASH, THE UNDERTONES) is gonna love this record, and without any doubts, this RED UNION is playing the way real Punk should be played and not like the way the US Highschool Skate Punks wants us to believe. More info at: http://www.bandwormrecords.de  

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

HEARTBREAK RADIO ‘HEARTBREAK RADIO’
(AOR HEAVEN)

HEARTBREAK RADIO is a new project that features a lot of well-known musicians, such as singers Pierre Weinsberg (PRISONER), Mikael Erlandsson (LAST AUTUMN’S DREAM), guitarists T’BELL, SAYIT, TOMMY DENANDER, drummer Mikkey Dee (MOTORHEAD) and bassist Magnus Rosen (HAMMERFALL), with as guest musicians Max Abbey (ULTRAVOX), Joel Starander and JIM JIDHED. What do they play then on their debut CD, well, a mix of pure AOR and Melodic Heavy Rock in a pure 80s style, kinda like a mix between WHITESNAKE and JOURNEY. 11 songs are on the CD, and although not everything is sensational, this is without a doubt a high quality release. The highlights can be found in the shape of such amazing AOR tunes like “Now you’re gone” (superb AOR a la JOURNEY/SPIN GALLERY), “Don’t look in her eyes” (AOR song of 2005!, lovely tune), “Only you” (classy JOURNEY uptempo AOR) and the semi-ballad “Love don’t live here no more”. On the other hand you have such average rockers like “Hard rock city”, “Rockin’ the night”, “Knockin’ on hells door” or the acoustic “Let me have my heart again”, which are really not interesting for the AOR fans. Towards the end it gets a more pure AOR, but nevertheless, there are too many average rockers to make this a real winner for the AOR fans. Do not get me wrong here, because the above mentioned AOR songs are really amazing and better than anything on the new LAST AUTUMN’S DREAM. However, the level is not contact and therefore this CD is not as good as SPIN GALLERY, but on the other hand a whole lot better than LAST AUTUMN’S DREAM, so somewhere in between those releases we can place this HEARTBREAK RADIO. I think this sums up about everything you need to know of this new AOR HEAVEN release, which is still very interesting to check if you’re a fan of AOR, but do keep in mind there are some standard rockers included as well.

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

HEADWOUND ‘HEADWOUND’ (HAUNTED TOWN RECORDS)

They come out of New Jersey/USA, but they sound like if they are from the London streets of the early 80s when Oi! was the most popular scene in the underground. It is clear that we are dealing here with a band that is inspired by bands like THE BUSINESS, because they combine the good old London Street Punk with raw vocals and choruses to sing-a-long with like if you’re at a Soccer Match. 10 short songs are included on the band’s CD, and although it isn’t as good as THE BUSINESS, I still think anyone who likes that old Oi! kinda Punk is gonna love this HEADWOUND. Songs like “Punk you want”, “3 cheers for beer” and “Straight to hell” are the sort of songs which will still do well in either an English pub or at a Soccer Match somewhere in the UK. More info at: http://www.hauntedtownrecords.com

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

STAMMTISCHPROLLS ‘AUSGEREIZT’
(ASPHALT RECORDS/BANDWORM RECORDS)

On the same label as the earlier on reviewed VOGELFREI, but definitely not as good as them, because this German band has a singer who sounds like a brother of UDO DIRKSCHNEIDER, which is interesting for some people, but this sounds a bit too raw for me. That doesn’t mean that the Punk/Oi! is bad, because at a Soccer match this would do quite well I think. Interesting for the die-hard Oi! freaks, so people who like bands such as SKREW DRIVER and THE BUSINESS, but not as good I’m afraid. More info at: http://www.bandwormrecords.de 

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

URIAH HEEP ‘CONQUEST’
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

February 1980 was the month in which URIAH HEEP presented their most criticized album of all times, the ‘Conquest’ record, which saw JOHN SLOMAN on vocals. Although John proved he could sing well, the match with URIAH HEEP completely failed in the wrong direction, because the band sounded like a mix between TOTO, STEVIE WONDER and URIAH HEEP, which for some worked quite well, but for many true HEEP fans, this album was a major disappointment. The album didn’t rock at all, and songs like “No return” and “Imagination” had absolutely nothing to do with HEEP. The intensive use of dut-dut keys a la TOTO’s “Hold in the line” in songs like “No return” and the bonustrack “Lying” were more or less a way to sound different, because it clearly didn’t come from the heart. John’s vocal work was very un-HEEP, and although the album had some highlights, such as the semi-ballads “Fools” and “It ain’t easy” and a rocker like “Carry on”, this was definitely a very strange URIAH HEEP album. BUT there’s a big but here, because funny enough this URIAH HEEP album contains one of the best HEEP songs from the non-DAVID BYRON area. I am talking about the amazing “Feelings”, which is by far one of the best URIAH HEEP songs since the days of “Easy livin’”, “July morning” and “Look at yourself”. This amazing uptempo melodic rocker contained such a damn catchy chorus, which you can’t help singing and humming for days after hearing it just once. The song should have been a big hit, but unfortunately the whole ‘Conquest’ record failed to do anything and eventually KEN HENSLEY left the band, which resulted in many more average records in the years to follow. Anyway, this final album with KEN HENSLEY on keys was released in 1980 and now 25 years later it has been remastered and re-released as CD, with not only the 8 original tracks, but also 5 unreleased bonustracks. For a dedicated HEEP fan a must-have of course, although it is the weakest HEEP record ever (!), but it has that one sensational track “Feelings”, which should alreadt be enough the purchase alone to replace the old vinyl version. The liner notes learn us that a 6-box set of HEEP is on it’s way, which will reveal loads more unreleased songs from the SLOMAN area. Hopefully it rocks more than the ‘Conquest’ album of HEEP. Nevertheless, this highly professional re-release of ‘Conquest’ is definitely something worth purchasing for any HEEP fan, no matter if you liked the original album or not.

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

ATOMIC ROOSTER ‘IN HEARING OF ATOMIC ROOSTER’
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

The UK in the 1970s were the times Classic Rock was invented and being played all across the country. The results were many bands and even more albums, because it usually happened that a certain band released a new record almost each year back in the early 70s. In the end, there were everywhere across the UK bands popping up, releasing records and they all had one thing in common, and that was writing and playing Classic Rock. It was a good time and place to live, because so many new bands and albums were released, but now 30 years it’s a helluva job to obtain all those records from the classic 70s UK Rock period. ATOMIC ROOSTER was one of those legendary bands that is well-known, although not many people are able to mention one of their actual songs. The band released a bunch of records, and after hearing ‘In hearing of…’ it was clear to me that this was one of those great bands that should have been bigger, because they truly played some magnificent progressive classic rock. This particular re-issue of the album ‘In hearing of…’ of ATOMIC ROOSTER was recorded in 1971 (9 songs), while the 3 bonustracks are from 1972, including tracks from a BBC Live concert from 1972. Musically they played a mix of Progressive Rock, Hardrock and some Psychedelic Heavy Rock, kinda like a mix between MC5, APRIL WINE, MONTROSE and DEEP PURPLE. The band featured a fantastic lead singer, a good Hammond-player a la JON LORD and some flashy guitarwork, with as best songs “Breakthrough”, “Decision, “Head n the sky” and “A spoonful of bromide” . All together, the 11 songs are really great progressive hardrocktunes, so anyone ever interest in the fact what ATOMIC ROOSTER can suspire themselves with a big surprise, which happens to be the re-issue of ‘In hearing of Atomic Rooster.

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

GIRLSCHOOL ‘PLAY DIRTY’
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORD
S)

The 1983 GIRLSCHOOL record ‘Play dirty’ was clearly their most commercial album, because the album had a radio-ready US Radiofriendly Melodic Rocksound, instead of the raw NWOBHM sound the band had in their early years. However, the material on the CD is quite impressive, especially the fantastic opener “Going under”, which sounded like ENVY and VIXEN, but those bands had not even be formed at the time. Anyway, now some 22 years later the album ‘Play dirty’ has been re-issued onto CD, with the addition of 5 unreleased bonustracks. The CD comes along with some nice artwork, and the sound quality is really good. Although the sound was very polished, still this was definitely a strong album, which should have become bigger, as it musically is not too far away from DEF LEPPARD. For that matter, I would like to compare this record with the HEAVY PETTIN’ classic ‘Rock ain’t dead’, which had a similar melodic rock approach as this GIRLSCHOOL record, but both failed to impress on the charts of both sides of the Atlantic. Anyway, we can still enjoy these sounds, and this CD is therefore one to check out if you happen to like classy 80s melodic rock. It is without any doubts thousand times better than the recent weak new GIRLSCHOOL album. Highlights are of course the fantastic catchy opener “Going under”, “Burning in the heat”, “Running for cover” and “Surrender” . The bonustracks are not outstanding but for a fan of the band definitely interesting. Concluded, a must-have for the GIRLSCHOOL fans, but also anyone who likes VIXEN, ENVY, PHANTOM BLUE… should check out one of the earlier all-female Melodic Hardrockbands.

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

SOFT MACHINE ‘MAN IN A DEAF CORNER – ANTHOLOGY 1963-1970’
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

One of the most experimental band from the UK in the 1960s was SOFT MACHINE, who made some very underground non-commercial music, which in the beginning sounded like Jazz/Fusion, but towards the end of the 1960s they had evolved into a fine progressive rock outfit, probably one of the most progressive around at that time, basically in the style of KING CRIMSON, GENTLE GIANT and PINK FLOYD who all had just started around 1968. Now there’s a CD available, which covers the period 1963-1970, which basically is a very experimental period of the band, because especially in the beginning it all sounded quite messy. Some of the recordings can more be seen as wild jam sessions than real songs. The CD contains 2 disc, of which disc 1 is not that interesting for the average music fan, but only recommended to the die-hard fan of the band. The 2nd disc contains material from the late 70s, namely live recordings in Amsterdam 1969 (good sound quality) and elsewhere in 1970 (bad sound quality). The performances are very good, and it is clear that towards the late 60s this band was one of the future bands with their progressive rock. In the end they never became as big as PINK FLOYD, GENESIS or YES, which is probably due to their very experimental progressive rockmusic, but anyone interested in hearing how SPOCK’S BEARD would have sounded in the 60s, then do check out this SOFT MACHINE!

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

BLACK WIDOW ‘THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE’
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

BLACK WIDOW was another underground act from the UK in the late 60s/early 70s. They played like a lot of other bands their own kind of non-commercial rock, which was a mix of 60s Psychedelic Rock and 70s Progressive Rock. The music can actually not be compared to any other band, maybe a bit PROCOL HARUM or MOODY BLUES for that matter, but actually it had an own style. 12 songs are on this re-issue of the ‘The ultimate sacrifice’, which was released in 1970 on CBS Records. This new release contains besides the 7 original remastered tracks, also 5 tracks from an unreleased pre-CBS Demo LP of 1969. It’s all quite interesting, although it’s a pity the band had a saxplayer in their line-up, which gave it a real Jazzy feeling, although some songs like the great “Sacrifice” are really pure Progressive Rock. Anyway, this is clearly a piece of history, because BLACK WIDOW’s music was quite interesting, non-commercial at that time, and really something worth listening on an LP, but this CD re-issue makes it easier to get hold of such a rare record. Although it was released on CBS Records, I don’t think it was a real successful release, but it’s like I said before, this band was playing a very experimental kind of style, not as rare as SOFT MACHINE, but still very progressive and jazzy at times. Recommended to the open-minded progrockfans, who want to hear something from the early days of this kind of rock.

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

URIAH HEEP 'HIGH AND MIGHTY'
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

The 1976 album of URIAH HEEP 'High and mighty' was the end of the DAVID BYRON era, and although many consider it as one of the weakest HEEP albums ever, I think it's a very impressive album, because it saw the band somehow move into a more American orientated Melodic Rockstyle. Regardless of the fact that both long-time lead vocalist DAVID BYRON and bassist/vocalist JOHN WETTON left the band one month after it's release, this album was definitely a great URIAH HEEP album. Songs like "Misty eyes" (epic piece, even a bit like STYX), "Can't keep a good man down" (a very catchy uptempo rocker) and "Footprints in the snow" (epic tune) are clearly very good, although the album in general was definitely less rocking, with some outside influences here and there. Nevertheless, the vocalwork of David was superb, and showed once again on this CD he was the perfect frontman, who unfortunately died a few years later. Of course, I wouldn't call 'High and mighty' the best HEEP album, because after all it also contains some weak songs (like "Can't stop singing" - one of the worst HEEP songs ever!), but I still feel it's an album with some very strong songs. The album has been re-issued recently through Sanctuary, with the addition of 8 bonustracks, of which a lot of unreleased demos. A HEEP fan must therefore get hold of this new version, but I also think any melodic rock or STYX fan will like this particular HEEP album, because it contains some of the most melodic Pomp rock orientated material the band recorded in the 1970s.

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

URIAH HEEP 'RETURN TO FANTASY'
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

The 1975 album 'Return to fantasy' of URIAH HEEP saw many struggles within the band, because lead singer DAVID BYRON was maybe the best HEEP singer ever, and a perfect frontman, he wasn't always working the way the other members wanted, so another album with troubles within the band. The album 'Return to fantasy' however is another album, which without any doubts featured some great HEEP material, such as opener "Return to fantasy", "Beautiful dream", "Showdown" and the best track of the album, the epic "A year or a day". However, just like the other late 1970s records of HEEP the band was also making some average tracks, such as "Your turn to remember" and the weak "Prima donna" that was even chosen a single! However, the demo version of "Prima donna" included on this re-issue sounded a whole lot better, because it is without the trumpets and saxes, much more rocking! 'Return to fantasy' is not a strong record from start to finish, because it had it's ups and downs. The album saw the introduction of a certain JOHN WETTON (who had been in bands like KING CRIMSON, ROXY MUSIC and would later find his 15 minutes of fame and fortune as member of ASIA - who released one of the best selling records in the USA in 1982). Anyway, musically 'Return to fantasy' was again less epic and more straight-forward 70s Hardrock'n'roll that was clearly American orientated here and there. A song like "Shady lady" even had similarities to KISS! There were also clear Pop and Gospel influences to be heard, which in general made the particular songs very un-HEEP! Nevertheless, the album had it's moments here and there, and this re-issue on CD comes along with 7 bonustracks, such as the Single B-sides only released songs "Shout it out" and "The time will come", which both sound better than most of the original tracks of 'Return to fantasy', so why they were left out is beyond me. Definitely something worth having if you're a dedicated HEEP fan, but still the album itself was one of the weaker HEEP albums (together with 'Conquest').

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

URIAH HEEP 'FALLEN ANGEL'
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

The late 1970s were a very busy period for URIAH HEEP, because the band's line-up changed constantly, and new albums were released every year. Besides, some albums were a success and others didn't. Especially in Germany the band had major success with at one point 3 big hitsingles ("Lady in black", "Free me" and "Wise man"). Most of the popular material in Germany was because of the new lead singer the band had introduced after David Byron had left the band. New singer JOHN LAWTON became a HEEP member in 1977, where he sang on the 'Innocent victim' album. A year later 'Fallen angel' was released, which saw the band continue playing the straight-forward hardrocksound all throughout the album instead of the long epics from the early years. John's voice is amazing, different than Byron, but still very impressive and perfect for the more straight-ahead rockers and the ballads HEEP started to make in these years. 'Fallen angel' was definitely more a Rockalbum, and better than the last few Byron albums. This new re-issue comes along with 8 unreleased bonustracks, such as "Cheater", "Gimme love", "A right to live", "Struttin'" and "Street lady". Some were released as singles, but I believe for the first time available on CD on this new version of 'Fallen angel'. Like I said, this 'Fallen angel' was definitely a true HEEP album once again, with such great rockers like "Put your lovin' on me", "Woman of the night", "I'm alive" (one of the heaviest tracks HEEP recorded after BYRON left the band, a fantastic uptempo melodic heavy rocker with big guitar riffs) and "Whad' ya say" (classy 70s Pomprock keys), but also a beautiful radio-ready AOR ballad like "Come back to me". This was in-between the later Byron work and Sloman days of URIAH HEEP one of the better albums of HEEP, a real rockalbum, which now has been re-issued with lots of interesting bonustracks, so a must-have for the HEEP fan!

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

ATOMIC ROOSTER 'MADE IN ENGLAND'
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

23 years ago the album 'Made in England' was released by the band ATOMIC ROOSTER. This legendary UK band played a mix of English progressive rock and American soul/funk. They did it quite well, and this re-issue contains the 10 original tracks of that album from 1972 and 8 bonustracks from various BBC SESSIONS. In the early 70s ATOMIC ROOSTER was a very unusual band, because you either played progressive rock/hardrock or Funk&Soul if you were in a band. ATOMIC ROOSTER however combined both styles, and therefore they were sometimes sounding like SLY&FAMILY STONE/JAMES BROWN, while at other times it was pure Progrock a la KING CRIMSON or GENESIS. Nevertheless, in the following years more bands started tom play a mix of prog and soul, with as best example TRAPEZE with GLENN HUGHES. However, there's always a first band to make a new sort of fusion between 2 different music styles, and ATOMIC ROOSTER was one of them. Most of the songs are very different from each other, kinda experimental and clearly 70s sounding, yet with a progressive touch enough to keep it interesting for the progfan! This new CD version of 'Made in England' contains 18 tracks in total and has a playing time of almost 75 minutes, so enough to listen to. Fans of the band will of course be interested to hear that the 8 bonustracks are taken from a BBC SESSION and a BBC LIVE IN CONCERT recording from 1972 (in Paris). Recommended to the open-minded progfan, but also any musiclover, because after all ATOMIC ROOSTER sounded different than any other band at that time!

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

DIAMOND HEAD 'AM I EVIL? - THE DIAMOND HEAD ANTHOLOGY'
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

The song "Am I evil?" is probably the most important song of the whole early 80s NWOBHM movement, because it was the song that made METALLICA such a popular band as it is today. This song influenced METALLICA so much that if you listen to the band's most popular album ('Master of puppets') you can hear in almost every song they followed the songstructures and guitar riffs of that particular DIAMOND HEAD song! So if DIAMOND HEAD had not existed, then METALLICA would have sounded slightly different and maybe less successful? But we will never know for certain, although it remains a mystery why DIAMOND HEAD never got that much attention before METALLICA admitted their influence, because after all in 1980 DIAMOND HEAD had an own sound. OK, they were influenced by BLACK SABBATH, LED ZEPPELIN and BUDGIE, but still their song "Am I evil?" was absolutely one of the first pure POWER METAL songs ever, with guitar riffs that were never done before those days. It's easy to put them in the SAXON, PRIEST, MAIDEN, early DEF LEPPARD and BLACK SABBATH vaults, but if you listen closely you can hear these guys were sounding much better than any other band in 1980, but unfortunately it took years to get some attention. The result of being METALLICA's biggest influence resulted in many reformations and thousands of re-issues and compilation records released of the ultimate NWOBHM classic 'Am I evil'. The latest compilation CD is probably one of the best and most complete compilation CDs ever, because 'Am I evil - The Diamond Head Anthology' contains 28 tracks in total, of which 7 from the legendary 1980 album 'Lightning to the nations' and further tracks are taken from other LPs, demos, CDs and even a BBC Session. All together a very nice collection, although be aware that the band's best material was definitely on their debut LP from 1980, so better pick that one up if you're only interested in hearing the best DIAMOND HEAD songs. Nevertheless, this compilation CD is a nice 2-cd set containing songs the band recorded throughout the past 25 years. Apart from "Am I evil?", other highlights are "The prince" (another classic with brilliant THIN LIZZY kinda guitarwork), "Helpless" (maybe even more a classic, and once again pure METALLICA sounding, although of course that band had not even formed at the time this song was recorded in 1980), "In the heat of the night", "To the devil his due" and "Run" (a superb Classic AOR song from the 90s, which easily has the same high quality as for example GIANT or HONEYMOON SUITE). The band's diversity can be heard on these 2 CDs, because it all starts as classy early 80s NWOBHM, but later on it gets more melodic rock orientated, a bit progressive a la RUSH, and even pure Bluesy Hardrock ("To heaven from hell" is basically pure FREE/BAD COMPANY and the LED ZEPPELIN/KINGDOM COME kinda "Calling your name") and poppy poprock ("Out of phase"). Anyway, this new 2-CD set compilation CD is highly recommended to the DIAMOND HEAD fan, who already has the 'Lightning to the nations' record, but is interested in hearing a sort of compilation of DIAMOND HEAD's best material from the past 25 years.

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

THREE MAN ARMY 'SOLDIERS OF ROCK - THE ANTHOLOGY'
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

OK I admit I never heard of THREE MAN ARMY, but this UK band wasn't that well-known, which is a pity, because after hearing most of their recordings I can conclude that they were ahead of their time and should have become bigger. The band was actually the forerunner of what later became known as the BAKER GURVITZ ARMY, and in the line-up of THREE MAN ARMY we even could find some musicians who played with such acts as ROD STEWART GROUP, MAY BLITZ and VANILLA FUDGE. 3 albums were recorded in the early 70s, and all of them are now available as this 2-CD set titled 'Soldiers of rock - The Anthology', so do not look any further because this release captures every THREE MAN ARMY recording. In total we can find 32 tracks on the CDs, and musically like I already mentioned they played a sort of melodic rock kinda style, ahead of it's time, because I hear similarities to THIN LIZZY and REO SPEEDWAGON, but those bands did not had their fifteen minutes of fame yet, so I guess you can say this THREE MAN ARMY was a very interesting band. There are also some LED ZEPPELIN kinda guitar riffs here, but when the band rocks it is mostly straight-forward and very melodic (also due to the great vocalwork). The 3 albums they recorded were 'A third of a lifetime' (1971), 'Mahesha' (1972) and 'Three man army part 2' (1974), after which they called it quits. These 2 CDs reflect a very good band performing some great guitar orientated melodic rock music with 70s Classic Rock approach. Highlights of these 2 CDs are "Flying", "Woman", "Three man army", "Whats my name", "Come down to earth" and "Hold on". Definitely something worth checking out this piece of UK music history!

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

THE GREAT KAT 'EXTREME GUITAR SHRED DVD' (TPR MUSIC)

The female guitar shredder KAT has been an issue for almost 20 years now, with her albums being loved or hated by fellow rock musicians, journalists and music fans. Now there's a DVD available of the GREAT KAT, which shows us she can play, but I also have my doubts whether she is doing something really interesting. The DVD itself consists of 6 videos and some short bonus footage, all of which show the guitar 'talents' of KAT. The songs are KAT's own shredding guitar/violin performances of all-time classical music pieces by WAGNER, LISZT, VIVALDI, BAZZINI and SARASATE. I wouldn't say she is better than MALMSTEEN doing his versions, but on the other hand it's always nice to watch a wild girl like KAT perform this kind of stuff. Anyway, the DVD looks good, a bit short maybe, but for a fan of KAT of course a must-have! Available through: http://www.greatkat.com  and e-mail at: karent@thomas-pr.com 

(Points: 7.0 out of 10)

SANITY 'LIVE AT 22' (SIX PACK/INDEPENDENT/COAST TO COAST)

Wow! The Dutch Progressive Metalband SANITY has released a DVD, although they have been together for only 4/5 years now. On the other hand, in that period they have been very active, with the release of a couple of CDs, and now in 2005 we can add a SANITY DVD to the band's catalogue. The DVD contains 60 minutes of SANITY music (10 songs in total) and although the music is Progressive Metal, there are also influences from Sympho and even AOR music in their music. The DVD contains a high quality performance, both in sound and registration, which is partly due to the help the band received from the American band ALL TOO HUMAN, the JUNKIE XL studios and Pieter van 't Riet (SYMPHONY X, AYREON). This all combined with a lot of good music is making this DVD definitely interesting for the fan of high class progressive rock/metal, because that's what we basically can see and hear on this DVD of SANITY. The good thing to add here is that the additional CD is making it possible to listen to the entire concert everywhere you go, so you get both the DVD and CD release of the concert SANITY gave late 2004 in the small Dutch town of Tiel. More info can be found at: http://www.sanity.nl  and e-mail at: chris@sanity.nl 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

BLOCKBASTARDS ‘TWIST IN THE PUZZLE’(BANDWORM RECORDS)

15 songs are on the debut CD of the Swedish band BLOCKBASTARDS. They play a mix of retro Rock and Punk, ending up sounding like a mix between WHITE STRIPES/THE STROKES and THE DAMNED, with even a slight touch of THE KNACKish Poprock. I think they could do quite well in the UK, where this kind of Rock is absolutely making a huge comeback. The songs are well-structured, not too complicated, but good enough to be different than most of the Punkbands in it’s approach, mainly due to the guitar riffs which are completely in the Classic Rock style of the early 70s. 15 songs are included, and despite the strong British kinda Classic Rock approach, I still think the fans of Punkrock will also like this CD a lot. It is remarkable that the singer of the band sounds so much like a British singer, he just sings without any accent. The songs are not always straight-ahead, which is a pity, because the best song of the whole CD is the catchy uptempo “All we can do”, which is really a great tune and some more tunes in this style would have been interesting. Anyway, this BLOCKBASTARDS proves that in Sweden you can also find good quality Punk/Rock&Roll apart from all the AOR and Power Metal the country usually delivers, but I think a band like THE HELLACOPTERS already showed that and now this band is another one to check out. More info at: http://www.bandwormrecords.de 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

TRESPASS ‘ONE OF THESE DAYS - THE TRESPASS ANTHOLOGY’
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

Although a few years ago there were 2 releases of the band TRESPASS, which were titled ‘The works 1’ and ‘The works 2’, which combined contained probably everything this legendary NWOBHM band ever recorded. However, now there’s a new compilation CD out on SANCTUARY, which is titled ‘One of these days – The Trespass anthology’. For anyone who missed ‘The works’ CDs, you better check out this new compilation CD, because the 2 included discs set you back for 33 tracks of non-stop classic guitar riff orientated melodic nwobhm, What we can find on the 2 CDs is in total 9 sessions of the band recorded in various studios between October 1979 (their first recording of the classic “One of these days”) and November 1982 as demos, singles, EPs and for compilation albums (such as the legendary Metal For Muthas album). The music is all of the time pure NWOBHM in the style of all those other bands at that time, although you could smell some delicious THIN LIZZY influences in the amazing twin-guitarwork in most of the songs. Maybe the vocals were not that good, the music comes from the heart here, and TRESPASS was definitely one of the better bands from the big NWOBHM scene. However, they received more attention and praising the last 5-10 years than they ever did during their short period of existence as TRESPASS. Songs like “One of these days”, “Life beat”, “Bloody moon”, “Stormchild” (amazing guitarsolo!), “Point of no return” and “Vendetta” are definitely the kind of classics everyone will remember forever of the glorious NWOBHM movement. After the split, the brothers Sutcliffe of TRESPASS formed the band BLUE BLUD, whom delivered some great BON JOVI type of Melodic Rock on their albums. However, these 2 CDs show that they were definitely one of the best bands in the NWOBHM back in the early 80s, and it appears that the band is at the moment getting back together, so who knows what 2005 will bring concerning TRESPASS, so a smart move to release a compilation now, because you never know if they might appear on one of the big European Summer Festivals this year (just like we saw TUYGERS OF PAN TANG resurface a couple of years ago), so keep your eyes open for TRESPASS!

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

FOGHAT ‘DECADES LIVE’ (CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

FOGHAT is one of those legendary bands from the 70s that played Classic Rock, and although many people know the band, they probably can not mention a song they made, because after all they had no ‘hitsingles’ in their repertoire. Not that such a thing is a shame, because after all, some of the best albums don’t contain hitsingles and it’s all about music from the heart. FOGHAT is definitely a band that plays with a lot of heart and soul, so real classic rock’n’roll. I would however rather describe their music as Bluesy Hardrock, a little bit different than for example BAD COMPANY. ‘Decades live’ is a double CD, which contains 18 live recorded tracks (across the USA between 1977 and 1999). The band is very good live, with my deepest regrets for the late Lonesome Dave Peverett (vocalist/guitarist), who sadly passed away a few years ago. His guitarplaying will be missed, because he was one of the best. Especially these live songs showcase the enormous talent this man had. The music is sometimes comparable to PAT TRAVERS, whose guitarplaying is not too far away from Dave. Basically, this is a must-have for FOGHAT fans, but I think any music lover will appreciate the works of this legendary band and what better way to start collecting their material than this wonderful double live CD!

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER ‘LOVE BEACH’
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

The ‘Love beach’ album of EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER from 1978 should not be considered as an ELP record, because it actually marks the end of ELP and the beginning of ASIA, which was more or less the follow-up to ELP (yet without Emerson and Lake was replaced by Wetton) in the 1980s. However, musically this ELP album was so much different than the other ELP albums, because gone were the long instrumentals and they were replaced by short song orientated tunes about love. Who could ever think ELP would make songs like “Love beach”, “All I want is you”, “For you” and “Taste of my love”, short radio-ready melodic pop/rocksongs, although I must admit the songs were quite good, but they had nothing to do with ELP. Nevertheless, most of these songs were on side-A and side-B was slightly more classic ELP, especially the long epic “Memoirs of an officer and a gentleman”. This 2004 re-issue also contains 3 rehearsal demo versions as bonustracks, so this could well be very interesting for the ELP, because also the extensive liner notes are a very nice thing to read. Nevertheless, it is not the kind of complicated progressive rock that ELP used to bring.

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

MUD
‘TIME AND AGAIN - THE PRIVATE STOCK COLLECTION’
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

Of course the 1970s in the UK started with a bunch of Glamrockbands whom at first sight were all sounding the same, because all of their hitsingles were written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, so it didn’t matter if you listened to THE SWEET, SUZIE QUATRO, MUD or SMOKIE, these were all the same kind of songs. Happily, the Chapman/Chinn influences in these bands became less and less important through the years, which resulted eventually in a bunch of self-written classics by THE SWEET (who eventually became the best UK Glamrockband ever!), and also MUD started writing their own songs. This new 2-CD set contains a total of 33 songs that were recorded by MUD after Chapman/Chinn stopped writing those simple tunes (which always remind me of the 1980s when a bunch of guys called Stock/Aitken/Waterman started writing a bunch of crap music). Although some songs seem to rock harder and are quite nice (softer SWEET style) like “RU Man enough”, “Hair of the dog”, “Nite on the tiles” (catchy uptempo melodic rocker), “Sweet and sour lady”, “1-2 love”, “Dream lover” and “Careless love”, it is clear that the band also had a lot of Disco/Pop orientated tunes, which can be heard on these 2 CDs as well. I guess the band never got over the success of “Tigerfeet”, “Dynamite” and “Lonely this Christmas”, because they still struggled in finding a right musicstyle they wanted to play, because the songs are way too diverse to call MUD a real Rockband, unlike THE SWEET. That band came out clean from the early 70s UK Glamrockscene and started releasing a bunch of classic albums, with ‘Desolation boulevard’ being one of the best records produced in the UK in the 1970s. Nevertheless, this 2-CD set gives a nice summary of MUD after their string of successful hitsingles, with the additional fact that it shows that MUD never really was a Rockband, because even after the departure of Chinn/Chapman, they wrote a bunch of Popsongs, unlike THE SWEET…

(Points: 7.0 out of 10)

UPP ‘GET DOWN IN THE DIRT: THE COMPLETE UPP’ (CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

The band UPP is a sort of cultband that remains quite unknown among the masses They only managed to release 2 albums, and the recent UPP CD that has been released contains all of their work, which are those 2 records from the 1970s, as well as a bunch of unreleased demo recordings. The album tracks were produced by JEFF BECK, who also played some guitar here and there, but mostly this UPP is an instrumental Funk based band (in the line-up we can only find bass, drums and keys). The demo recordings included here seem to show the band at their best, because songs like “Doctor I’m getting better”, “Haunted” and “Kickin’arsenic” seem to rock a little harder. A fan of this band will be delighted to hear that all of the UPP work has been collected and put on 2 CDs, with some very nice additional artwork and liner notes. However, this is not a Rockalbum, but more a 70s Funk Pop kinda thing, which is done very well of course, but maybe not interesting for everyone.

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

ATOMIC ROOSTER ’NICE’N’GREASY’ (CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

ATOMIC ROOSTER were one of many new UK bands formed in the 1970s, but their musicstyle was unusual, because the mixed Rock, Funk and Soul into an exciting own style. Their albums are all very diverse and should be listened to a lot of times before making a good judgment. The album ‘Nice’n’greasy’ from 1973 for example is another example of the band’s specific style, which sometimes is going so much deeply into Soul you would think it’s a black band performing JAMES BROWN kinda music, but these are really white people performing pure Soul at times. It’s different than for example GLENN HUGHES, because ATOMIC ROOSTER are really more Soul and sometimes this isn’t a Rockband at all. This particular ATOMIC ROOSTER album is a very interesting album actually, because songs like “Save me” and “Can’t find a reason” belong to some of the best stuff ATOMIC ROOSTER recorded through the years. The re-issue onto CD through SANCTUARY does contain 4 bonustracks, all unreleased until now, so this CD is definitely a must-have for a fan of ATOMIC ROOSTER!

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

FINAL FRONTIER ‘HIGH TENSION WIRE’
(FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

The Canadian AOR band FINAL FRONTIER returns with their 3rd CD ‘High tension wire’, which is their first album on FRONTIERS RECORDS, after their departure from Z RECORDS, on which they released 2 great albums. Their new album is once again filled with high class pure 80s AOR, which means a fun sound, with mostly uptempo catchy rockers filled with big hooks and memorable choruses that contain big-time harmonyvocals (a la STYX), while in general the band actually has created an own style, which is pure AOR in the style of so many 80s bands (NIGHT RANGER, SIGNAL, FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS, PREVIEW, PRIVATE LIFE), but when hearing a song you know it’s FINAL FRONTIER. I will not deny that I am a big fan of this band, because basically they are one of the few bands that really makes the kind of AOR the way it sounded back in 1984/1985. Also the sound/production is not the kind of big production one would expect, but more like the old days, so more song focused instead of bringing every instrument upfront to give a full sound. On the 3rd record of FINAL FRONTIER the highlights are “Two different worlds”, “Beauty and the beast” (if JOURNEY would work together with STYX it could sound something like this, damn catchy chorus), “Hollywood drama” and “Listen to your heart” (super catchy -back to the 1980s when JOURNEY was the most popular band- kinda tune!). Without any doubts, a must-have release for the fans of pure AOR!

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

TALISMAN ‘FIVE MEN LIVE’
(FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

A live concert of the Swedish band TALISMAN is always very entertaining and enjoying to listen to and watch. Prior to the DVD release of TALISMAN, which is titled ‘World’s best kept secret’, FRONTIERS RECORDS released a double Live CD. The CDs contain the full concerts the band gave at a club in Stockholm in August 2003 and the much-praised Sweden Rock Festival performance from 2003. Both concerts are a must to hear, because the performances are perfect, with of course JEFF SCOTT SOTO being the best entertainer/stage performer ever! Especially the versions of “I’ll be waiting” are very entertaining! Most of the TALISMAN classics were played during the concerts and it will be a pleasure to watch on DVD too soon, but for now both concerts are available on this double CD ‘Five men live’.

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)

EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER ‘LIVE IN POLAND’
(CASTLE MUSIC/SANCTUARY RECORDS)

Back in 1996, ELP had recovered after a 3-year period away from the road due to injuries of both Emerson and Palmer. They had hit the road with JETHRO TULL for a series of dates in North America and some other countries, including Poland, where they had not perform before in their 27 years career. Katowice was the place where they would perform their first and probably last concert ever in Poland, because they had problems with the promoter. Anyway, the first release of this concert was done in 1998, but SANCTUARY recently re-released the CD. ELP fans will be delighted, although the included material that was played on the 22nd June of 1997 was partly ELP the early 70s way, because the first 7 songs were all LAKE orientated short song based ELP tunes such as their big hitsingle “Lucky man”. However, the final 2 tracks were medleys of the old ELP material, which together took up to almost 35 minutes of high class progressive rock. In the end, ELP pleased every fan of the band, because both the long instrumentals and the shorter vocal tunes were played in Poland 8 years ago, and now with extra liner notes a nice CD to own if you’re either a prog or ELP fan!

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

STARBREAKER ‘STARBREAKER’
(FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

Much praised the past few months, but now it’s becoming reality, the new project STARBREAKER, which features the amazing vocal talents of lead singer TONY HARNELL of TNT fame and the fantastic songwriting and guitarplaying (and also keys) of Swedish MAGNUS KARLSSON of LAST TRIBE. The all-star line-up is completed by bassist Fabrizio Grossi (who played on many albums, including SLASH, HOUSE OF LORDS, STEVE VAI, NINA HAGEN) and drummer John Macaluso (a sessionplayer who played on hundreds of records, including TNT, RIOT, MALMSTEEN). Without a doubt, this is a new SUPERBAND, and their debut CD is also a fantastic Melodic Metal Masterpiece, a so-called M.M.M., a term which easily says that this is one of those must-have release for any Rock/Metalfan! The style reminds me a bit of MASTERPLAN, with some touches of TALISMAN, THRESHOLD and TNT similarities here and there. Best songs among the 12 included are “Lies” (the first single, a very catchy uptempo melodic heavy rocker), “Days of confusion” (very strong epic semi melodic rockballad), “Light at the end of the world” and “Turn it off”. Not only a must-have for TNT fans, but highly recommended to any Rock/Metalfan out there!

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)

ENUFF’Z’NUFF ‘?’ (FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

Through the years ENUFF’Z’NUFF has earned their place in the hardrockscene, because they release every now and then albums for 15 years in a row, without ever splitting up and they also never changed their style. Also the new album follows the same style as the previous releases, so a sort of melodic 70s influenced Glitter Psychedelic Hardrockstyle. It’s their 14th album so far, and particularly this new CD has some more AOR based material, such as the great tunes “Home tonight”, ”Help” and ”How are you?”, although there’s also some KISS (GENE SIMMONS style) meets LED ZEPPELIN to be found (“Joni Woni”), a lot of T-REX influences and a QUEEN cover (“Stone cold crazy”). I am quite sure the fans are going To love the new CD of their favorite band, which was first released in the USA on PERRIS RECORDS, but now also available for the rest of the world through FRONTIERS RECORDS.

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

HEADRUSH ‘HEADRUSH’
(FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

HEADRUSH is a new surprise release on FRONTIERS RECORDS, because it’s a project of the LABYRINTH singer Roberto Tiranti and guitarist Alessandro De Rosso (ex-DOKKEN). They have made a great record, which musically combines the melodic hardrock of DOKKEN with the progressive power metal of the last LABYRINTH album (which is released around the same time as this HEADRUSH album). Without a doubt, this record will be loved by the LABYRINTH fans, although the keyboardwork has almost vanished and the guitarwork is more straight-ahead 80s orientated (a la DOKKEN). Still, the pleasant melodies of LABYRINTH can be heard all throughout the CD, with as best tracks “My world”, “Fooling myself again”, “What’s yours is mine” and “Silence”. Although it’s not a sensational album, I can still recommend it to both melodic rock and LABYRINTH fans!

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

IAN CHRISTE 'THE COMPLETE HEADBANGING HISTORY OF HEAVY METAL BOOK' SOUNDS OF THE BEAST' (HARPER COLLINS ENTERTAINMENT)

Writer Ian Christe has written a fantastic book about the development of Heavy Metal music from the beginning (late 1960s/early 1970s) with BLACK SABBATH's Doom Metal right up to the Gothic and Power Metal days of the present day. Ian has made a really impressive Book, which contains not only interesting stories about some of the most popular Metalbands ever, but also interviews with members of BLACK SABBATH, METALLICA, MORBID ANGEL, MEGADETH, TWISTER SISTER, KISS and many others. The facts on every few pages are also quite nice to know, and of course at the end of the book there's a top 25 of all times of the author. Without a doubt, if you start listening to Rock and Metal, this is the kind of book you really need to read to understand this kind of music, because it's a way of life after all! Ian has done a very good job in making a perfectly written book about the history of Heavy Metal. Although Heavy Metal was invented in the early 1970s, most of the book tells us about the wild and exciting stories of the 1980s. Bands like MOTLEY CRUE, MAIDEN, BLACK SABBATH, PRIEST, ANTHRAX, METALLICA, SLAYER, DEF LEPPARD all got their fifteen minutes of fame in this book with stories about these legendary bands that made this genre as it is today. The book also tells some facts of other music styles (some AOR/Punk) and political aspects that got involved in the music business (such as in America the troubles about lyrics of many of the Heavy Metalbands), but in general speaking this book is all about the fun, wild and crazy times of the most important Metalbands ever. Besides all the stories, the book also reveals some facts and has a bunch of nice pictures (colour and black&white). Nearly every genre within Hardrock and Metal is discussed, so all I can say about this book is that it is one of the best ones to read, no matter if you’re an experienced Metalfan or someone who just discovered this exciting genre, so grab yourself a copy through: http://www.harpercollins.com 

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)

HONEYMOON SUITE ‘LIVE CD+DVD’
(FRONTIERS RECORDS/ROUGH TRADE)

HONEYMOON SUITE has a live CD and DVD out, which both contain the performance they gave at the Gods of AOR back in 2002. Of course the DVD is more interesting, because then you can actually see what happened that day. The performance was quite good musically, and also the bandmembers were quite excited and doing a great job, except for lead singer Johnnie Dee who sang very good, but he was lost sometimes. It seemed like he was confused a few times, because he didn’t know what to say in-between the songs, very strange, but nevertheless he sang very well, so no comments on that. Anyway, the DVD (and CD) is a bit short, because only 60 minutes without anything extra is somewhat unthinkable in these DVD times. If FRONTIERS has been able to secure the rights of the all videos HONEYMOON SUITE had made through the years and also had included an interview, I would have easily given this DVD a 9+, but now it’s just a 8+, because only the 1-hour performance is included. Still, the performance at the Gods is filmed professionally and the sound is good, with the band playing almost all the HONEYMOON SUITE classics (such as “Burning in love”, “What does it take”, “Feel it again”, “All along you knew” and “New girl now”). The band made it clear that they were THE band that created the Canadian melodic rockscene, because without HONEYMOON SUITE, HAREM SCAREM would never have released their legendary debut album in 1991 (which I still regard as the best Canadian album of all times!!!). Then again, HONEYMOON SUITE was clearly the follow-up band to LOVERBOY, who were the actual first band to start the whole Canadian Melodic Rock (or was that TRIUMPH, MOXY, PRISM or even BTO in the 1970s!). Well, to make one thing clear here, HONEYMOON SUITE still rocks and this DVD is showing how good they are in playing high class melodic rock, but one thing you must be aware of and that’s the fact that the DVD has a very short playing time (1 hour).

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

VOGELFREI ‘ZWISCHEN SEHNSUCHT UND REBELLION’
(BANDWORM RECORDS)

VOGELFREI is one of those bands that would do very well in the mainstream market. They play very melodic Punk, actually almost straight-ahead Melodic Hardrock with catchy memorable choruses. The lyrics are in German, but that should not be any problem, because after all RAMMSTEIN broke those rules worldwide. VOGELFREI is much better than RAMMSTEIN I think, because they really offer some great melodies in their songs and they can play guitar! Songs like “Alles was bleiben wird”, “Du bist nicht echt”, “Giftige unschuld” and “Ich mus raus” are very catchy uptempo rockers with memorable singable choruses, like a hardrock version of THE RAMONES, but then actually more sounding like a melodic rockband most of the time (even a bit like a rockier MIKE TRAMP!!!). This band shows that the bridge between Melodic Punk and Melodic Rock is sometimes not far away, but VOGELFREI has the important advantage of featuring a great melodic lead singer and a very good guitarplayer who can play solos. In the end, this 2004 release of VOGELFREI might be their best release so far! More info at: http://www.vogelfrei-torgau.de  and http://www.bandwormrecords.de 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

VOGELFREI ‘STIEFELJUNGS’ (BANDWORM RECORDS)

The German band VOGELFREI already released a bunch of material before their 2004 album ‘Zwischen sehnsucht and rebellion’, and this CD contains songs they recorded between 1994 and 1998. 12 songs are included on the CD, and musically they were a bit more rawer Punk than the very melodic catchy of their recent stuff. Just like any other songs they recorded, also all the songs on this CD are uptempo straight-ahead, short and simple, like a German version of THE RAMONES. It’s not as good as their new CD, but still nice to check if you want to hear fun clean punkpoprock. ! More info at: http://www.vogelfrei-torgau.de  and http://www.bandwormrecords.de 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

REJECTED YOUTH ‘NO POLICE STATE COALITION’ (MSM 1279 RECORDS)

The German band REJECTED YOUTH is very Political orientated, because their lyrics are about today’s problems within the society where everybody is checked to see if one isn’t a terrorist. The band’s debut CD contains 8 short songs, which only has a playing time of 20 minutes, but the music is played quite well, and the digipack CD also has a video. 5 of the 8 songs were recorded in the famous NY club CBGB, while the other 3 are studio originals. Musically REJECTED YOUTH is clearly going back in time, because it sounds like the Punk of the late 1970s UK scene. Straight-forward with catchy singable gang-vocal driven choruses and still nice guitarwork. The band is clearly influenced by bands like 999, GENERATION X, THE DAMNED, THE CLASH, DEAD KENNEDYS, but also some GBH kinda stuff can be heard (“Lost liberty”). The best songs are the less rawer songs such as “No police state coalition”, “Rejected youth” and “Drag me out of here”. More info at: http://www.msm1279.com 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

REJECTED YOUTH ‘ANGRY KIDS’ (MSM 1279 RECORDS)

On their new CD ‘Angry kids’ the German band REJECTED YOUTH has definitely improved, because they now sound like the perfect mix between DEAD KENNEDYS and GBH. The songs are still very short and direct to the point, straight-ahead with lots of singable gang vocal choruses. They however doubled the amount of songs, so we now can hear 16 songs on their new CD. Without a doubt, this is one of those CDs that will do very well in the Punkscene, because it is a very strong pure Punk record that could have easily been released in the early 80s. Highlights are “The peoples voice”, “Bad boys attack”, “Liberation dogma” (a la THE BUSINESS), “Aquas calientes” and “Beasts of England”. Highly recommended to real Punkfans! More info at: http://www.msm1279.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

STOCKYARD STOICS ‘RESISTANCE’ (MSM 1279 RECORDS)

STOCKYARD STOICS hail from Brooklyn/New York and they have released their debut on the German label MSM 1279 RECORDS. Musically they play Punk with touches of Hardcore, mainly due to the aggressive vocal attitude of singer Joe Piglet, who also plays bass. However, the songs are pure classic UK Punk, raw to the bone, yet with catchy choruses, such as “Adolescent chemistry”, “Not for sale”, “Long goodbye” and “Sad songs”. There have been made comparisons to RANCID, but I think this STOCKYARD STOICS is more akin to original late 70s UK Punk instead of the so-called fake US Punk. Recommended to the fans of all original Punk with even Oi! touches, because they do remind me not only of the UK SUBS, but also THE BUSINESS and BLITZ come to mind sometimes. I think you’ll get the picture now what this band is all about, so better get yourself a copy of the CD if this interests you, because STOCKYARD STOICS is doing it very well. More info at: http://www.msm1279.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

MARTIN POPOFF ‘THE TOP 500 HEAVY METAL ALBUMS OF ALL TIME BOOK’ (ECW PRESS/TURNAROUND)

Canadian author MARTIN POPOFF has done it again, because after the Book ‘The Top 500 Heavy Metal songs of all times’ recently, he now has published a book that deals with the 500 best Heavy Metal albums of all times. The top 500 has been made through a worldwide poll asking true Metalfans for their favorite albums of all times. The results can be found in this book, which not only just lists the 500 albums ranked in order of appearance, but also each album has a short comment (1/2 page) by Martin with his view of the particular album and a comment of (mostly) a bandmember. There are some very funny stories between those quotes, while Martin also gives a very professional review on each album. Most albums also have a picture of the cover, and all together this book holds together some 450 pages of Heavy Metal knowledge. Besides the Top 500, Martin also provides details and facts concerning the top 500, such as most voted band, all sorts of top 10s, the albums listed from a-z and the bands listed from a-z, and some more interesting lists and facts about this interesting top 500. I am always very fond of tops and lists, especially when it concerns our beloved genres! Martin has done it once again very well, because without a doubt, this is another book to own if you’re a Metalfan, but maybe is even more interesting for all those young people whom just started listening to this genre, because after all they are the people that need to tell further to their children what the best albums of all times are in the Metalgenre, and like this top 500 informs us, the best albums were made 20+ years ago. This means that there since then has been a whole new generation of Metalfans, who all had to re-discover these albums, because they weren’t there when they were released, so a book like this can help them in search for that best Metalalbum of all times! The big question is of course what is number 1, well, I will not mention that, because therefore you need to buy and read this book, which is available through: http://www.turnaround-uk.com  or http://www.martinpopoff.com 

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)

MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP ‘WORLD WIDE LIVE 2004 DVD’
(METAL MIND PRODUCTIONS/MUSIC VIDEO DISTRIBUTORS)

In 2004 MICHAEL SCHENKER performed in Poland a concert at a Metalmania Festival, which was one of the dates of his 2004 Tour. Enough has been said about the horrible performance of Michael Schenker during his tour, with vocalist Chris Logan being a very average singer. However, this DVD proves it didn’t sound that bad, and admitted, it surely isn’t as good as MICHAEL SCHENKER in his heydays, but still this DVD is a nice thing to watch if you’re a fan of MICHAEL SCHENKER. The footage of the concert was filmed very professional, and so we can easily enjoy a good looking DVD, which lasts about 105 minutes. Michael can still play guitar quite well, but there is nothing really remarkable and it seems like the fellow musicians in his band are more enthusiastic than Michael himself. Michael also looks very bad on stage, because with his sunglasses, a cap and a sport jacket you wouldn’t call him one of the best guitarists ever. Although it isn’t important how someone looks, it’s not really rock’n’roll the way Michael looks like if you ask me. Nevertheless, the performance is ok to watch, with the classics “Armed and ready”, “Doctor doctor”, “Rock bottom” and “Only you can rock me” being the highlights of the show, although you can not compare these versions with the classic late 70s versions of UFO and MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP. Still a must-have for the die-hard MSG fans. Available through: http://www.musicvideodistributors.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

QUIET RIOT ‘’89 LINE IN JAPAN DVD’
(MUSIC VIDEO DISTRIBUTORS)

Since some time there is a new QUIET RIOT DVD available, which concerns the QUIET RIOT with PAUL SHORTINO vocals, which make it even more interesting, because after all, Paul was only the lead singer of the ultimate Party Hardrockband for a short period. I always find it hard to connect Paul with QUIET RIOT, because Paul’s voice is firmly rooted in Bluesy Hardrock area (read: DAVID COVERDALE/PAUL RODGERS), but on any tune this man if doing things perfect, and so also the QUIET RIOT material is a piece of cake for Paul to sing. I need to add here that a lot of the songs QUIET RIOT played back in 89 with Paul on vocals were songs they recorded with Paul on the album ‘Quiet riot’. This album was a very strong Bluesy Melodic Hardrockalbum in the WHITESNAKE style. This can best be heard in songs like “I’m falling”, “Stay with me tonight” and “Run to you”, but this performance of QUIET RIOT with Paul Shortino from 1989 (recorded in Japan) also takes on the classics of the band, such as “Party all night”, “The wild and the young” and “Cum on feel the noise” (the SLADE cover that made QUIET RIOT bigger than SLADE in 1983). The performance of QUIET RIOT was perfect that night, and the Japanese fans loved it. As a bonus we can watch the video of the song “Stay with me”. Recommended DVD to PAUL SHORTINO and QUIET RIOT fans! Available through: http://www.musicvideodistributors.com 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

NEAL SCHON ‘I ON U’
(FAVORED NATIONS/ROUGH TRADE)

Guitarist NEAL SCHON takes another break from JOURNEY, because he does not only have an album out with his new side-project SOUL SIRKUS, with JEFF SCOTT SOTO, but he also continues to deliver solo-records, of which ‘I on U’ is the latest release. Neal has been releasing solo-albums since the first JOURNEY pause in 1984/1985. The albums are mostly instrumental calmer late-night melodic guitar solo orientated tunes, which is also the case with the new CD ‘I on U’. The album is definitely a terrific record to listen to on hot late nights down the Caribbean, with Neal’s solo’s being the beautiful melodic ones he also delivers on the JOURNEY records. 12 instrumental songs are included, and it’s definitely a must for the guitarfreaks among us, but I think this kind of CD is enjoyable for every music fan. Let’s hope Neal will deliver a great performance on stage this year with SOUL SIRKUS and maybe even JOURNEY comes over to Europe, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed for that and will be satisfied with some new material of one of the best AOR bands ever! In the meantime, do check out the new solo-CD of NEAL SCHON and then especially the beautiful songs “Blue passion” and “Highland”!

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

BILLY SHEEHAN ‘COSMIC TROUBADOUR’
(FAVORED NATIONS/ROUGH TRADE)

MR. BIG/DAVID LEE ROTH/TALAS bassist BILLY SHEEHAN has a new solo-CD out titled ‘Cosmic troubadour’. Musically it contains a mix of various Rockstyles, although most of the songs are footed in a sort of 70s groovy rock kinda way. 15 songs are on the new CD of Billy, and without a doubt, it’s a quality album, with Billy singing quite well and playing both bass and electric guitar. On the other hand, it’s an album you must get into, because there aren’t any direct catchy tunes. However, if you appreciate the MR. BIG kinda groovy Hardrock this might well be up your alley. Billy proves he does not only play the bass well, but can also sing and play electric guitar. Best songs are “Back in the day”, “Something she said” and “The lift”, although this is more the kind of album you love or hate, because it should be played a couple of times to hear that it is a good record after all. I also need to add here that not all songs feature vocals, because there’s also a lot of space left for the instrumental qualities of Mr. Sheehan. Like I said, one to check out if you’re a fan of Billy’s bands.

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

RITUS ‘RAUSCH DER SCHONHEIT’ (DEMO CDR)

This band from Germany is playing a mix of Gothic, Doom and Death Metal, and most notable about the band is their fantastic guitarist Andre S. The 5 songs on their demo are not that special, but still nice to hear if you’re looking for a mix of these styles, but I had rather heard less of the Death growls. Nevertheless, this demo is a quality recording, which is nice to check out if you’re a fan of MY DYING BRIDE and BOLTH THROWER. More info at: http://www.ritus-music.com 

(Points: 7.3 out of 10)

SOMETHING ABOUT VAMPIRES AND SLUTS ‘WE BREAK OUR OWN HEARTS’ (VMS RECORDS/MORPHIUS RECORDS)

Now for something completely different, because this American band, with one of the longest names I have seen so far, is playing pure early 80s inspired electronic Goth Rock/New Wave in the style of THE CURE, BERLIN… This kind of Gothic Rock has been dead for a long time, but the last few years many people have showed their admiration for bands like THE CURE and this resulted in a bunch of new bands playing this forgotten style, which was popularised in the UK in the 1980s. This US band is doing it very well, making pure 80s orientated Gothic Rock, and I have to mention once again, because THE CURE is definitely the best comparison for this band. Songs like “Meant to be”, “Rain” (with some nice additional vocals of the female keyboardplayer) and “Panda dances” are very good uptempo Goth Rockers in the best 80s THE CURE, BILLY IDOL and THE CULT style, with even some biting guitarwork, so they are definitely a Rockband! I wonder if there are more bands playing this kind of 80s Goth-Rock, because in the end, it does sound quite good and even catchy at times (“Meant to be” could have been huge if it had been released 25 years ago!). More info at: http://www.morphius.com 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

CLOUDS FORMING CROWNS ‘CLOUDS FORMING CROWNS‘
(MORPHIUS RECORDS)

Clearly an independent band, but their sound is actually quite interesting, because it borrows a lot from late 1960s Psychedelic Rock (JEFFERSON AIRPLANE meets THE BYRDS) and also some slight LED ZEPPELIN kinda grooves can be heard in the underground Rock sounding debut CD of the American band CLOUDS FORMING CROWNS. 16 songs are included on the CD, and the beginning is quite nice with such songs like “Accidents of war”, “Blades and teeth” (starts slow a la BYRDS but then has a twist after a minute when it starts to rock a la THE WHO!), “Are you sleeping well” and “Wish-hound”, but towards the end it all get s abit too depressive, so be aware that this is not a happy record to listen to. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see an independent band creating an own style, which is best comparable to the late 60s San Francisco Psychedelic era. More info at: http://www.morphius.com 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

THE SHAKEDOWNS ‘THE SHAKEDOWNS‘
(VMS RECORDS/MORPHIUS RECORDS)

Here’s another new US band playing Poppy Punkrock, although they clearly have more guitar riffs than most other bands in this genre. The guitar riffs come straight out of the early 80s Hardrockscene (think: ZEPPELIN/SABBATH), but the music is poppy Punk or punky Poprock, yet with a strong heavy rock edge. Some people call this good old Rock’n’Roll, and maybe that’s a better description, because after all, a song like “Junkie Junkie” is actually a pure 70s Hardrocksong, not that far away from for example NEW YORK DOLLS, but it even recalls memories of GIRL (!). Other highlights are “All I love” and the catchy “Bands from New York”. I think this is the kind of band that should be put in between the bands THE CULT, LA GUNS, NEW YORK DOLLS and THE BUZZCOCKS. Think somewhere in-between these bands, and you’ll have the raw 70s orientated rocksound of CLOUDS FORMING CROWNS, whom by the way feature a great guitarplayer. I think this band could become quite big if it will be promoted enough, both in the US and Europe. So if you’re starting to become interested, then do check out this band that perfectly melts the Rockstyles of Glam, Punk, Sleaze and pure Rock’n’Roll into an exciting style, which will please both fans of the newer generation (think: JET, WHITE STRIPES) and the older generation (THE WHO, HANOI ROCKS, NEW YORK DOLLS) and above all, even the Punkrockfans, so lots of diversity can be found in this new band!

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

CHANETON ‘THE FIRST LIGHTS OF THE CENTURY’ (INDEPENDENT)

From out of nowhere comes the band CHANETON, a new Argentinian band of whom I do not have any info, but their CD ‘The first lights of the century’ contains nicely performed Progressive Rock with Sympho influences and it is clear that this band has been influenced by the UK progscene of early 70s GENESIS, 80s MARILLION, PENDRAGON, ARENA and IQ. Without a doubt, they do it all very well, and CHANETON could have been a British band, but they are truly a Chilean band. I know for a fact there are many South American bands are playing high quality progressive rock, but CHANETON needs to be mentioned as one of the bands that should not be missed by fans of this genre. 10 songs are included, and their sound and production of the CD is very good, so are the songs, which are blessed with a big guitar and rich keyboardsound. Songs like “The first lights of the century”, “Faces melting in your hands”, “On the edge” and “Black mountain” are great Neo-Progressive Rocksongs with nice vocals a la FISH and strong progressive keyboardwork. Highly recommended to fans of old ARENA and 80s MARILLION! More info at: http://www.chaneton.grong.com.ar 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

RICHARD ANDERSSON’S SPACE ODYSSEY
‘THE ASTRAL EPISODE’
(REGAIN RECORDS/SUBURBAN)

SPACE ODYSSEY makes a return with their 2nd CD, and once again the band around keyboardplayer RICHARD ANDERSSON, drummer Andreas Brobjer, guitarist/bassist Magnus Nilsson and the fantastic DIO orientated lead singer Nils Patrik Johansson, deliver a great piece of musical art. The music is the perfect mix of progressive and power metal, with a lot of Neo-Classical influences. I guess you can call this band the ultimate Neo-Classical Metalband, because that’s exactly their sound, which is compromised of strong vocalwork, catchy choruses, lots of fantastic keyboard and guitarwork, otherwise said, this is simply a fantastic record. 8 long songs are included on the new SPACE ODYSSEY, and it’s in the exact same style as the debut CD. Songs like “Astral episode”, “Dazzle the devil” and “Reversation” are very strong faster uptempo Neo-Classical melodic prog/power metal masterpieces which will fill your needs in finding the perfect follow-up to the 90s classics of ROYAL HUNT, SYMPHONY X and ARTENSION in this genre, which is very popular in Japan after Malmsteen’s big breakthrough over there 15-20 years ago. Anyway, do check out this great masterpiece from Sweden!

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

Y&T ‘DOWN FOR THE COUNT’ (MAJESTIC ROCK/BERTUS)

Exactly 20 years ago Y&T released their 8th album (also counting the 2 YESTERDAY AND TODAY records from the 1970s) and now also this album has been re-issued onto CD. This happens in the year when Dave Meniketti and co. started Y&T 33 years ago, which is a long time back, although the band had it’s most successful time in the 1980s. Anyway, not many people think this ‘Down for the count’ album is the best Y&T album, but it still has some fine moments. OK, I admit, there is not “Forever” or “I believe in you” on this record, but it still contains some great 80s Melodic Hardrock in the shape of “In the name of Rock”, “Anytime at all” (catchy tune), “Face like an angel”, the polished AOR rocker “Summertime girls” (which featured many keys, very unlike Y&T) and the ballad “Hands of time”. On the other hand, the album also contained some very average rockers like “Anything for money”, “Your mama don’t dance” (POISON later covered this old tune as well, but Y&T should never have done it in the first place), “Don’t tell me what to wear” and “All American boy” (a VAN STEPHENSON written tune, which was done much better by STAN BUSH and VAN STEPHENSON himself, but the video of Y&T was cool to watch anyway). Concluded, the album featured good and bad tunes, but still a CD release worthy, because Y&T CDs are very rare and therefore alreadya must-have, although fans of the band would rather see the ‘Earthshaker’, ‘Black tiger’ and ‘Meanstreak’ albums re-issued onto CD in Europe. It was obvious that this album of Y&T was produced by American radio orientated producer KEVIN BEAMISH, who basically killed the Y&T sound with his polished movements. He did a great job producing records of REO SPEEDWAGON, but this album of Y&T was overproduced and Kevin should have advised to leave out those average rockers, because the only thing the label and producer wanted to do was creating another QUIET RIOT back in 1985 and they failed, which resulted in an average Y&T album unfortunately. Still of course a must-have CD release for the Y&T fans, because as far as I believe it wasn’t released on CD before.

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

Y&T ‘IN ROCK WE TRUST’ (MAJESTIC ROCK/BERTUS)

The 1984 album of Y&T called ‘In rock we trust’ also has been re-issued onto CD, without any bonustracks unfortunately, but it’s still a must-have for the Y&T fans. The album saw a more radiofriendly sound, but it still rocked big time! 3 songs on the album should be mentioned right away, because they belong to some of the best Y&T songs right after the classics “Midnight in Tokyo”, “Don’t wanna lose ya”, “Forever” and “I believe in you” of course. I am talking about the superb midtempo AOR ballad “I’ll keep on believin’”, the amazing uptempo melodic heavy rocker “Don’t stop runnin’” and the AOR ballad “This time”. The 2 AOR songs were co-written by legendary singer/songwriter BERNIE LABARGE (anyone actually remember this guy, who delivered an awesome album way back in the 80s). Anyway, “Don’t stop running” is a really terrific uptempo rocker with a memorable singable chorus that you never forget. If Y&T had recorded 7 more songs in the style of these 3 songs, it would have been the best Y&T album ever, but unfortunately most of the rest of ‘In Rock we trust’ is featuring nothing more than just nice Hardrocksongs, such as “Life, life, life”, “Masters and slaves” and “Break out tonight”, but it’s clear that the album was a bit too much sounding like DEF LEPPARD (“Life, life, life”), KISS (“Your love is drivin’ me crazy”), KROKUS (“Rock and roll’s gonna save the world”), VAN HALEN (“She’s a liar”) and QUIET RIOT (“Lipstick and leather”) instead of sounding like Y&T’s first 3 albums of the 1980s. However, this TOM ALLOM produced record rocked harder than the albums that followed ‘In rock we trust’, with especially 3 classic tunes, so therefore it should be bought by any Y&T album!

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

Y&T ‘OPEN FIRE! LIVE!’ (MAJESTIC ROCK/BERTUS)

In 1985 Y&T released it’s weakest effort (‘Down for the count’), but also a very strong live CD titled ‘Open fire Live!’. This live album featured Y&T classics only, so mostly material from pre-1983, with only the “Summertime girls” bonus studio track as commercial addition. Highlights are “Rescue me”, “Open fire”, “Forever” and “I believe in you”. It’s a pity only 7 live tracks are included, because I have concerts of Y&T from the 80s that feature 10-15 tracks, but despite the fact there aren’t any bonustracks on the re-issue through MAJESTIC ROCK, this CD is still a must-have for every Y&T fan. This is fantastic Live album of one of the most underrated bands from the USA, so better get this CD to hear Y&T at their very best!

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)

BRAINSTORM ‘LIQUID MONSTER’ (METAL BLADE RECORDS)

German Power Metalband BRAINSTORM returns with their new CD ‘Liquid monster’, which is definitely one of their best efforts so far. The album combines the same heavy sound of the previous record, but has stronger melodies than the last album ‘Soul temptation’ from 2003. The sound is huge, with a big wall-of-sound guitar riff orientated style, combined with strong catchy melodic choruses and very good clean lead vocals. This CD definitely proves that BRAINSTORM are one of the absolute top bands in the Power Metal genre. Highlights on the new album are “All those words”, “Lifeline”, “Painside”, “Mask of life”, “Burns my soul” and “Heavenly”, all featuring big guitar riffs, strong melodic vocals and catchy choruses that will please any fan of classic SAVATAGE, METAL CHURCH, ARMORED SAINT and FATES WARNING. Go get this Power Metal Monster when you get the chance!

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

NOVACT ‘TALES FROM THE SOUL’ (LASER’S EDGE/SENSORY/INTROMENTAL)

The band NOVACT comes out of the ashes of MORGANA X, a Dutch Progressive Metalband of whom I reviewed a couple of demos in the past. Now the band is called NOVACT, as whom they have released their first full-length CD ‘Tales from the soul’ on the American label LASER’S EDGE. Musically we are pleased with high class melodic Progressive Rock/Metal, and when I say high class I truly mean that this is yet another high level Dutch Progressive Rock/Metal release. The past few years we saw great albums of SILENT EDGE, SUN CAGED, RICOCHER, CASUAL SILENCE and many more, but now it’s 2005 and the Dutch sensational prog saga continues with this NOVACT. The band has an sound on the CD, which captures all the wanted elements in the progrockscene, such as good vocalwork, excellent musicianship, big production and strong melodic complex songs, such as “Path of daggers”, the fantastic “So help me God” (a very strong chorus and beautiful melodic guitarsolos can be heard in this 7 minutes counting epic), “Promises” and “Bad religion”. Without a doubt, a recommended piece to the Progressive Rock/Metalfans!

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

POWERWOLF ‘RETURN IN BLOODRED’ (METAL BLADE RECORDS)

The band POWERWOLF looks like a Black Metalband, and therefore I was not that much looking forward to check out their debut CD, BUT after the first couple of minutes listening to the album it definitely showed me that this POWERWOLF is a new sensation in the Metalworld!!! They come out of Germany, but their singer Attila Dorn is from Rumania, and therefore they look a bit dark on the outside (vampire-ish), but from the inside this band is playing high class Melodic Metal that is not too far away from SAVATAGE, DREAM EVIL and also German bands like BRAINSTORM, SYMPHORCE… and even OZZY (“The evil made me do it” and “Lucifer in starlight” sound like early 70s BLACK SABBATH) come to mind when listening to this POWERWOLF album. 9 songs are on the CD, which has a big production, thanks to FREDRIK NORDSTROM (HAMMERFALL, IN FLAMES), and most of them are very strong Melodic Metal Monsters! Songs like “Mr. Sinister”, “We came to take your souls” and “Demons and diamonds” are very impressive tunes that most of all remind me of 80s SAVATAGE, so strong Melodic Metal. Check it out if you’re starting to become interested, but take it from me, this is a very strong album indeed!

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

AT WAR WITH SELF ‘TORN BETWEEN DIMENSIONS’
(LASER’S EDGE/SENSORY/INTROMENTAL)

AT WAR WITH SELF is a new project of multi-instrumentalist GLENN SNELWAR, who is best known as helping out GORDIAN KNOT on their debut album. Now he has his own project, which also involves drummer Mark Zonder of FATES WARNING and bassist Michael Manring. The CD they released is titled ‘Torn between two dimensions’, which musically takes us into high quality instrumental Progressive Rock/Metal with some Jazz/Fusion influences as well. It’s all done very well on the 10 included songs, and the 50 minutes of playing time will please any fan of progressive rock/metal, because AT WAR WITH SELF has a lot of interesting new ideas and elements to offer on their first CD, with especially some very fine bass work to be heard all throughout the CD. Check it out asap if you’re a fan of instrumental progrock/metal!

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

THE BUSINESS ‘SATURDAY’S HEROES’ (CAPTAIN OI! RECORDS)

‘Saturday’s heroes’ is probably one of the best Oi! albums ever released, because this particular THE BUSINESS album features some long-time classics in this genre, such as “Spanish jails”, “All out tonight”, “Saturdays heroes” and “Drinking and driving”. The album was originally released in the early 80s, and this re-issue on CD by CAPTAIN OI! RECORDS contains 4 additional bonustracks (among which the classic “Hurry up Harry”). This THE BUSINESS album is filled with great simple straight-ahead Punk/Oi! with choruses everyone will easily sing-a-long to. Even 20+ years after most of their original releases, THE BUSINESS still has a big impact on many of the newer Punk/Oi! bands. Although many of the new albums are quite good, an old THE BUSINESS album such as ‘Saturday’s heroes’ is still the real thing. Available through: http://www.captainoi.com 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

BLITZ ‘PUNK SINGLES AND RARITIES 1980-1983’ (CAPTAIN OI! RECORDS)

In the early 80s BLITZ were one of the more popular Oi! bands, and one song in particular always impressed me because it was so damn catchy. I am talking about the fantastic catchy sing-a-long “Someone’s gonna die”, which is a simple uptempo punkrocker, but with a really deadly catchy memorable chorus! The song can now also be found in it’s original EP version on the compilation CD ‘Punk singles and rarities ‘1980-1983’, which has been released on CAPTAIN OI! RECORDS. This is raw Oi!/Punk the way it sounded 20+ years ago, which is so much better than the fabricated US Punk we nowadays get to hear so much. Songs like “Youth”, “New age”, “Fight to live”, “Nation on fire”, “Razors in the night” and most of the other songs on this CD are showing real Oi!/Punk should sound like, simple, straight-ahead with catchy choruses. The 27 included songs on this compilation CD are taken from demos, singles, EPs and other rarities of BLITZ, so nothing is taken from the band’s LPs. This is making the CD very interesting for the fans, and for more info please go to: http://www.captainoi.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

THE BUSINESS ‘SUBURBAN REBELS’ (CAPTAIN OI! RECORDS)

The album ‘Suburban rebels’ of THE BUSINESS was released for the first time in 1982, re-released on LP in 1982 and re-issued onto CD by CAPTAIN OI! RECORDS back in 1993. It is clear that these early THE BUSINESS albums are some of the best Oi!/Punk ever released, because also ‘Suburban rebels’ featured some great sing-a-long uptempo rockers such as the classics “Blind justice”, “Harry May”, “Drinking and driving” and “Suburban Rebels”. As a bonus 4 unreleased tracks are included, such as the fantastic “Smash the discos”, with one of the funniest lyrics ever! Without a doubt, also this THE BUSINESS album is one of those albums you must own before you may call yourself a Punk or Oi! fan! For more info please go to: http://www.captainoi.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

THE BUSINESS ‘WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD’ (CAPTAIN OI! RECORDS)

‘Welcome to the real world’ is one of the more recent albums of THE BUSINESS I believe (late 80s?), which is still Oi!/Punk like they used to play, but definitely much more polished than ever, because some of the songs can even be qualified as melodic rock! 12 songs (+4 bonustracks) are included on the CD, and I think this album is actually one of their strongest albums, although like I already said it sounds quite radio-friendly here and there. The songs even feature great melodic guitarsolos of Steve Kent, and vocalist Micky Fitz seems to sing more melodic than ever. The choruses of the songs are still pure THE BUSINESS, so with a high sense of singing along. Highlights on this THE BUSINESS album are “Mouth and trousers”, “Ten years”, “Fear in your heart” and the bonus track “Tina Turner”. Definitely one of the more 80s orientated Hardrock/Melodic Rock orientated albums of this legendary UK Oi!/PubPunkRockact, but on the other hand maybe their best record ever! For more info please go to: http://www.captainoi.com 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

BLACK BONZO ‘BLACK BONZO’ (B&B RECORDS)

This album is like you’re taking a step into a time machine end set the year at 1970, step out and hear the music which is popular at that moment. BLACK BONZO is exactly reminding of early 70s British Progressive Rock with Heavy Rock/Hard rock influences as well. Opener “Lady of the night” is a fantastic uptempo melodic heavy rocker with great Hammond work and fantastic vocal work, in perfect 70s style, although it is very clear that URIAH HEEP has had a big influence on this band. URIAH HEEP never released a really good record after DAVID BYRON left the band, but I think this Swedish band BLACK BONZO has released the perfect album where every HEEP fan has been waiting for the past 30 years. It’s really a pity I do not have any info on this band, but it would not surprise me if we are looking at a re-issue here, because the music is way too 70s sounding, even the sound and artwork is pure 1970s. However, that is not bad at all, because it sounds quite sensational if you ask me. Most of the material leans very much towards URIAH HEEP, so you have short catchy uptempo melodic heavy rockers, but also very long epic songs with emotional vocalwork and great long Hammond/Mellotron meets Guitar solo’s. Songs like “Lady of the light”, “Brave young soldier”, “These are the days of sorrow” and “Sirens” are all superb pieces of classic 70s progressive melodic heavy rock a la URIAH HEEP, although there’s also some QUEEN and 70s KANSAS in here. The vocalwork of singer Magnus Lindgren is amazing, because it really is very very impressive. Basically, any HEEP fan will love this band! More info through www.blackbonzo.com  and www.protone.se 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

FORCE ‘DEMO 2004’ (DEMO CDR)

First of all, this Austrian band FORCE should not be confused with their American namesakes. Musically this FORCE is playing good clean 80s melodic heavy rocker with a lead singer who sounds different than most other bands, because he sings low like a 80s Goth singer (CULT/SISTERS OF MERCY) and high more like a Metal singer, although the music is definitely melodic heavy rock. Hard to compare the band, but they are reminding me German bands trying melodic hardrock. Anyone remember the bands TOX and VETO? Well in that exact same style you must place this FORCE, although I also hear comparisons to AXXIS. All 3 songs on their demo cdr (“Remember”, “Back to life” and “When shadows die”) are uptempo 80s inspired melodic heavy rockers. More info at: http://www.FORCE-online.com  and e-mail at: info@force-online.com 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem) 

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