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HOT NEW REVIEWS

UPDATED ON MARCH 7 - 2005

T.REX ‘SPECIAL EDITION EP DVD’ (CLASSIC PICTURES)

This special EP version of T.REX does only count 4 tracks, but where else can you find footage of this underrated band. They obviously influenced many of the bands that became more famous than T.REX was in their early years. I mean, KISS and AEROSMITH must have been influenced a lot by T.REX, and also a lot of other bands (read: GIRLSCHOOL, JOAN JETT, ENUFF ‘Z’NUFF, etc. etc.). Paul Stanley of KISS for example is almost doing the same kind of moves when singing as MARC BOLAN, which can be seen on the rare performances on this DVD. The 4 tracks make up only 12 minutes of playing time, which is of course very short for a DVD, but it’s a mini-DVD after all, and as bonus you’ll get 40 minutes of extra sneak preview DVD material of other releases on CLASSIC PICTURES, such as BIG COUNTRY, PROCOL HARUM, RICK WAKEMAN, STEVE MARRIOTT, etc. Concluded, a must-have for T.REX fans, but also check it out if you never saw any of T.REX’s performances, because it will surely impress you that Marc Bolan was an entertainer who could sing, play guitar and moving on stage at the same time! More info at: http://www.classicpictures.co.uk 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

MAN ‘LIVE DVD’ (CLASSIC PICTURES)

There were so many bands in the UK and not all of them did really had their breakthrough, although I suppose at least a bunch of people will be familiar with MAN, but I wasn’t. However, this DVD made me aware that MAN was another good Rockband from the UK. The DVD, released by CLASSIC PICTURES, contains 90 minutes of live entertaining of the band, which was recorded for the 25th anniversary of the Marque Club in 1983, so the performance is over 20+ years old. The sound and footage is all very good, so I think this DVD will be a must to check out if you’re a dedicated MAN fan, but anyone into British Rock will be interested in checking out this DVD. The DVD features the full concert of MAN from 1983, but also an exclusive acoustic session with bassist/vocalist Martin Ace, so lots to see and listen to! More info at: http://www.classicpictures.co.uk 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

YES ‘YES SPEAK DVD’ (CLASSIC PICTURES)

Although this DVD of YES is a bit short, I think there’s plenty to enjoy here, because besides the concert on which this DVD is concentrated, the bonus DVD features another 75 minutes of rare footage of the band’s experiences in the USA, which is very nice to watch, because after all, we don’t see YES speaking everyday on TV! This DVD is therefore mainly interesting for the YES fans, because it focuses on the bandmembers’s musical and normal activities, so you will not see a full performance of the band this time. The whole DVD is situated around the live performance (semi-acoustic) the band gave in a studio in LA last year, which was broadcasted throughout America in Cinemas. The performance saw the classic YES line-up (Anderson, Howe, Squire, White, Wakeman) performing 7 classic YES tunes in a sort of stripped down version. This was an unique event, and therefore a must to see for any YES fan! The additional bonus DVD with the rare footage of the band’s adventures in the USA is a nice item to watch as well. So in the end, this is a really great DVD of YES, although people who only want to see a long performance of the band will not be please to hear that the actual performance only lasted about 30-35 minutes. Nevertheless, it still is a must-have DVD for the YES fans! More info at: http://www.classicpictures.co.uk 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

WOLVERINE ‘THE WINDOW PURPOSE’
(EARACHE/ROUGH TRADE)

The debut album of the Swedish band WOLVERINE was released a few years ago on DDVS records, but now finally available worldwide through EARACHE RECORDS. The re-release comes along with new artwork and a bonustrack. The music is of course still the same, which is technical high level progressive metal, with influences from Death and Experimental Metal as well. 11 songs are in total on this CD, which is definitely one of those CDs which will be loved by the fans of complicated progressive metal. The album’s best song is “Leaving yesterday”, a truly wonderful semi-progressive melodic rockballad, with fantastic vocalwork of singer Stefan Zell and a guest female singer. The rest of the CD is heavier, sometimes very experimental and with death growls, but in general speaking this CD should attract the people who are into high quality Progressive Metal. It’s different than DREAM THEATER, also not much like PORCUPINE TREE, but put them somewhere in between those acts and you’ll have WOLVERINE. However, actually WOLVERINE has created an own style, which is damn good and should put the band on the world map, especially with this re-release. Enjoy this re-release of their 2001 debut CD, which is in the eyes of progressive metalfans a masterpiece, and we can only look forward to their upcoming new CD, which will be released early next year!

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

STARZ ‘ATTENTION SHOPPERS!’ (BGO RECORDS)

In the 1970s STARZ was one of those typical New York bands that played good old Rock’n’Roll with a lot of KISS influences, yet also with a good sense for strong melodies, with especially their singer Michael Lee Smith being a truly fantastic AOR lead singer. The band itself offered good clean melodic rock most of the time, which at that time was also played by acts like REX, ANGEL, PIPER, TRIGGER, TRIXTER, LEGS DIAMOND and countless many other bands in the 1970s. The band’s first 2 albums were really rocking albums, but somehow their 3rd album ‘Attention shoppers’ from 1978 was a slightly poppier record, especially on side-A. Nevertheless, the songs were still high class melodic rock, almost pure AOR the 1970s way in songs like “Hold on to the night”, “She” and “Any way that you want it Ill be there”, which gave the band a couple hitsingles in the USA. Side-B of the original LP saw the band rocking again with especially “X-Ray specs” being a strong heavy rocker with great THIN LIZZY kinda guitarwork, while the song itself had some British Punk Rock touches. Maybe the best track of the whole album was the slow epic “Johnny all-alone” which has all it took in becoming a classic 70s type of rocksong, especially the beautiful melodic guitarsolo on which the song is built. After 27 years, the ‘Attention shoppers’ album has finally been re-issued onto CD, and although it definitely is the weakest STARZ release, it still has a few great songs to offer in the shape of earlier mentioned songs. The song “Any way that you want it Ill be there” was a pure semi AOR ballad classic that became a hit in the USA, and a few years later the same tune was covered by (CURRIE SISTERS I believe) and FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS. The connection between these bands is quite easy, because guitarist Bobby Messano played in both bands! Secondly, STARZ singer Michael Lee Smith and FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS singer Franke Previte both had the same kind of voice, which was that typical AOR voice (in a same vein as MIKE RENO and ERIC MARTIN to give you an exact description of these 2 vocalists). The first 4 songs on the CD are the so-called AOR Radio Format kinda tunes, while the other 5 tracks are the rockers. Somehow the more polished aor material sounded better than the rockers, while in the past STARZ definitely proved that they could also write great rockmaterial. After this album, STARZ released one of their best albums titled ‘Coliseum rock’, which is the only album that hasn’t been re-issued by BGO RECORDS unfortunately. However, do check out this 1978 STARZ album if you want to hear some 70s AOR, although I have to say it again, STARZ has released better material in the 1970s. The CD is available through: http://www.bgo-records.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

SPIRIT ‘SON OF SPIRIT/FARTHER ALONG’ (BGO RECORDS)

Although the 2 albums of the UK band SPIRIT were compared to the likes of JIMI HENDRIX, ROBINT TROWER, FRANK MARINO and several of those legendary Bluesy guitarists, I am afraid I have to conclude after listening to both albums from mid 1970s on this re-issue that SPIRIT actually played westcoast with a sort of BOB DYLAN meets CANNED HEAT kinda vibe, so definitely not classic rock. Most of the songs are acoustic based, with some very average vocals of Randy California, who later would release much better solo albums, with especially one of his early 80s songs “Run to your lover” being a fantastic RUSS BALLARD kinda AOR song. However, we are now talking about his 1970s band which was SPIRIT, a band that also featured MARK ANDES from JO JO GUNNE (a band with JAY FERGUSON) and later bassist of HEART. However, the music of SPIRIT was not really good, because it never had anything to do with rock and the calm acoustic material was really nothing that special, unless you’re a fan of let’s say BOB DYLAN or a stripped down FLEETWOOD MAC. It’s nice to see both albums being re-issued onto CD, but I think it’s only interesting for the fans of the band, and for any RANDY CALIFORNIA fan out there, because musically the 22 tracks are not really groundbreaking, especially if you consider the fact that the 1970s brought us so much Rockbands, but SPIRIT definitely wasn’t part of that movement. Nevertheless, the CD is available through: http://www.bgo-records.com 

(Points: 7.0 out of 10)

TEN YEARS AFTER ‘POSITIVE VIBRATIONS’ (BGO RECORDS)

TEN YEARS AFTER is a legendary UK Rockband. They had their biggest successes in the 1970s, of which this album from 1974 is a good example of their strong own identity they had created throughout the years. TEN YEARS AFTER was playing a sort of melodic slow bluesy rockstyle. There aren’t any bonustracks included on this re-issue, but on the other hand you’ll get some nicely written liner notes, which tell more about the history of the band. And of course the 10 original album tracks from the band’s 1974 records are featured on this CD. Songs like “Nowhere to run”, “Positive vibrations” and “Without you” are all great slow melodic bluesy rockers with a real strong sound, which do not rock that hard, but they are still very much filled with emotional vocals and good bluesy guitarwork. In the beginning most of the songs are slow, with the exception of the bar room boogie rock of “Going back to Birmingham”. The last 5 songs however show a much more rockin’ TEN YEARS AFTER in the shape of the great uptempo rockers “It’s getting harder”, “Look me straight into the eyes” and “You’re driving me crazy” (a sort of LITTLE RICHARD influenced tune). It seems like this album had a radiofriendly soft side-A and a rockin’ side-B a la CREAM! No matter what you prefer, this is a great TEN YEARS AFTER record and I can really recommend this CD re-issue of the album from 30+ years ago. TEN YEARS AFTER is one of those legendary bands every music fan should own at least 1 copy from, and just maybe this album might be the right choice to get! The CD is available through: http://www.bgo-records.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

JAMES GANG ‘STRAIGHT SHOOTER/PASSIN’ TRUE’
(BGO RECORDS)

JAMES GANG once featured legendary guitarist JOE WALSH, but by the time these 2 albums were released he had left the band to follow an own solo career, which eventually brought him more fame and fortune than the short time with JAMES GANG. In total 18 tracks are included, all of which are taken from the band’s 1972 records ‘Straight shooter’ and ‘Passin’ true’. Just like every other re-issue on CD through BGO RECORDS, also this JAMES GANG re-issue comes along with extensive written liner notes. If we have a look at this band, I can inform you that JAMES GANG was a US band from the early 70s, who at first played in the CREAM style, but on these 2 particular records, the musicstyle had changed into a Soul/Funk orientated Rockband. The band had a sort of GLENN HUGHES kinda voice, while even the music has some similarities to Glenn’s older band TRAPEZE. Towards the end of the JAMES GANG, even guitarist TOMMY BOLIN played along, but he took a run for his money and ended up playing with DEEP PURPLE. Looking back, the 1970s were a very UK orientated kinda scene, but America also brought us some great bands, including JAMES GANG, which were more Funk/Soul orientated than any other band at the time. The CD is available through: http://www.bgo-records.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

FORCE OF EVIL ‘BLACK EMPIRE’ (ESCAPI MUSIC/ROCK INC)

The German Metalband FORCE OF EVL returns with a new CD, after their DVD release from last year. The band’s new CD ‘Black empire’ was produced by NEIL KERNON (QUEENSRYCHE, AUTOGRAPH, AVIATOR and countless other 80s classics). He didn’t gave FORCE OF EVIL a polished sound, but instead let the band shine in it’s own raw unpolished pure True Metal sound, so therefore this album is a very original strong Metal record, which will definitely please anyone into PRIEST, MANOWAR, ACCEPT… The sound is like I already said very raw and ex-KING DIAMOND guitarist Hank Shermann has therefore released another True Metal record with FORCE OF EVIL. The CD is filled with 12 tracks, of which songs like “Back to hell”, “Days of Damien”, “Beyond the gates” and “Dead in Texas” are definitely crowd pleasers if you like True Metal. Be sure to check out this big True Metal record asap if you’re into PRIEST, KING DIAMOND, ACCEPT, MANOWAR…

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

ROOLETTES ‘ROOLETTES’ (VINYL JAPAN RECORDS)

THE ROOLETTES are a new UK band, and they were chosen out of 1000 bands to be finalists in an unsigned bands competition, so they definitely have something to offer. Now they are about to release their debut CD on the label VINYL JAPAN RECORDS, which is a Japanese/British label of whom this ROOLETTES CD is one of the first CDs I ever get to hear and review, although the label already released about 140 CDs! Anyway, musically ROOLETTES is playing a sort of Retro-Rockstyle, which combines the best of 60s Garage Rock, 70s (Light) Punk Rock and Classic Hardrock. Imagine a mix between THE WHO, THE CLASH, LA GUNS/GIRL and AC/DC, because then you’ll have the sound of ROOLETTES, which is in fact quite catchy and could easily become quite big with the right promotion, because after all, bands like THE STROKES, WHITE STRIPES and DANKO JONES are doing the same kind of thing and they are quite popular, so why not this ROOLETTES. Highlights among the 13 tracks on their debut CD are “Rock’n’roll heaven”, “Cigarette breakdown”, “Body&soul”, “Summer fun” (very catchy, sounds like a perfect mix between the first THE BOYS, THE UNDERTONES and THE RUNAWAYS) and “She bites me” (catchy). After a couple of spins, the band also starts to remind me of THE DONNAS a lot, but then a male version of course! Concluded, a great band with an own original honest Rocksound, which will especially be interested for people who dig the honest classic rockstyles before the 1980s, yet with an updated approach! More info at: http://www.roolettes.co.uk 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

THE WALNUT DASH ‘TITBITS’ (VINYL JAPAN RECORDS)

The 1960s are definitely coming back in the hearts of many new young bands. Especially the UK has brought many new bands playing 1960s influenced Garage Rock, which was mixed with some of the classic 1977 UK Punkstyle. What is said in the bio of this UK band is completely true, because THE WALNUT DASH is playing a mix of THE HOLLIES and THE BUZZCOCKS. They end up sounding like THE BOYS, but the strange thing is that this kind of style they are playing is actually pure early 80s Melodic Poprock! In the early 80s many bands also started playing this kind of rock, such as THE KNACK, but on the other hand also someone like RICK SPRINGFIELD, so there’s the connection between 1960s Garage Rock and 1977 UK Punkrock, which is Melodic Poprock in early 80s style, and THE WALNUT DASH are playing it very well on their mini-CD ‘Titbits’, which only has 8 short songs to offer with a total playing time of just 20 minutes. However, the short songs are very catchy and radio-ready, with as best tracks “Your mum”, “Just feel” (some BEATLES similarities), “Cheers to yer” (hello BEATLES!) and “Stupid O’Clock”. The band is quite popular in Japan, and this debut CD of these UK youngsters is definitely worth hearing, no matter if you’re a fan of 60s Garage Rock (THE HOLLIES, PRETTY THINGS), 1970s UK Punkrock (BUZZCOCKS, BOYS) or early 80s Melodic Poprock (RICK SPRINGFIELD, THE KNACK), because all these styles can be heard on this catchy Poprock record, which might even be called by some as US Nu-Breed, but that’s not the truth, because this band is definitely playing original British influenced Poprock! More info at: http://www.vinyljapan.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

THE MASONICS ‘OUTSIDE LOOKING IN’ (VINYL JAPAN RECORDS)

1960s Garage Rock is becoming a sort of new trend, and THE MASONICS definitely sound like if it was 1963. The band features a male and female singer, and they play the kind of style, which back in the 1960s was played by acts like PRETTY THINGS and JEFFERSON AIRPLAY in their early stages. The band is doing it very well, with songs like “The battle between the heart and the mind” (very strong song), “This is the time”, “I’m on the outside looking in” (best song, a FANTASTIC classic 60s type of rocker a la THE KINKS, THE WHO) and “Messed up” being great odes to the classic 1960s British Rock. It’s good to finally see new bands playing this kind of early Rock’n’Roll, which has not been done for so many years. The revival of 1960s rock in the shape of new bands may last for me a bit longer, because after all this kind of Rock was the starting point for anything that is called Rock’n’Roll nowadays. More info at: http://www.vinyljapan.com 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

WITH PASSION ‘IN THE MIDST OF BLOODIED SOIL’ (EARACHE/ROUGH TRADE)

I am afraid we will have to pass on this US band called WITH PASSION, because they play Extreme True Black/Death Metal, so not interesting for the readers of our pages!

(Points: - )

CALLISTO ‘TRUE NATURE UNFOLDS’ (EARACHE/ROUGH TRADE)

Out of Finland comes CALLISTO, and although their music seems to be going into a dark progressive metalstyle, the vocal style is death growling, which doesn’t make it interesting for our readers I am afraid!

(Points: - )

SOCIETY 1 ‘THE SOUND THAT ENDS CREATION’ (EARACHE/ROUGH TRADE)

EARACHE seems to be a label focused on EXTREME METAL, and I am sorry to say that also SOCIETY 1 is way too Extreme to be of any interest of Strutter readers. They play a sort of mix between Nu, Death and Industrial Metal, which is perhaps good enough for someone who likes MINISTRY, SLIPKNOT, MACHINE HEAD or FEAR FACTORY, but it actually is not the kind of Metal usually reviewed here, so I better stop this review right now.

(Points: - )

MONTROSE ‘JUMP ON IT’ (WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS/PAENGG)

‘Jump on it’ is the 4th album of Montrose, which was originally released in 1976. It is the second album with lead vocalist Bob James, and we all know that the first two albums featured SAMMY HAGAR. The first album of MONTROSE, ‘Rock the nations’ is a real classic in Heavy Rock history and Montrose will always be remembered of this album with Sammy Hagar on vocals. Despite that fact, Bob James also sounds very strong on this album of MONTROSE, because he reminds me a little bit of Paul Rodgers (FREE/BAD COMPANY). Ronnie Montrose’s guitar playing on this album is very good, but the quality of the songs is not as high as for example the classic ‘Rock the nations’. Nevertheless it is good to see this album of MONTROSE has also been re-issued onto CD by WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS. However, it is a pity there are only seven songs and a short instrumental on the album, so there’s not too much to enjoy here. Overall a good album, but not a classic. The CD is available through: www.paengg.de 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

AXE ‘NEMESIS’ (WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS/PAENGG)

And ‘Nemesis’ was the 1983 record of AXE, which was also their final record before their first split-up. The band had recorded yet another masterpiece, because without any doubts, also this album of AXE contains some of the best Classic AOR ever recorded. 12 songs were on the album, and instant classics will always be “Young hearts”, “I think you’ll remember tonight”, “Eagle flies alone”, “Foolin’ your mama again” and “Let the music come back”. It is almost unbelievable that AXE didn’t hit big time, because any of the above mentioned songs were better than anything else in the charts back then and nowadays. It’s a real pity the fantastic co-lead singer/guitarist Michael Osborne died not long after the split of AXE, but in the mid 1990s AXE reformed with some new members and successfully they released a few new albums. However, the first 4 AXE albums will always be the best thing they have ever done, and the re-issue of ‘Nemesis’ onto CD is a very good move, because this is one of those not-to-be-missed albums. The CD is available through: www.paengg.de 

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)

GAMMA ‘1 – 1979, 2 - 1980, 3 - 1982’
(WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS/PAENGG)

After disbanding Montrose, guitarist RONNIE MONTROSE formed a new band, with two of his old buddies, Alan Fitzgerald and Jim Alciver. They called the band Gamma and as vocalist they added the unknown Scotchman Davey Pattison, who sounds a lot like PAUL RODGERS and LOU GRAMM. All three albums are strong albums and overall very diverse. For example, the first GAMMA is the most experimental with a lot of synthesizers and computerized voices, not unlike Rush, while the second album is more guitar orientated in the vein of the first Montrose album and finally, the last album GAMMA released is more song orientated (AOR) with some catchy hooks. Highlights are “Thunder and lightning” and “Fight of the finish” on 1, “Mean streak” and “Four horseman” on 2 (both being heavy monsters in the vein of RIOT) and on 3 you have “Right the first time” and “Stranger”, which are catchy AOR songs (read FOREIGNER). After album 3 there were arguments between the band members about the musical direction and probably also personal things. These were the reasons for Ronnie to disband GAMMA. What remains are three albums of a great underrated guitarist. The CDs are available through: www.paengg.de 

(Points: 1 (8.8 out of 10); 2 (9.2 out of 10); 3 (9.0 out of 10))

BLACKFOOT ‘HIGHWAY SONG – LIVE’
(WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS/PAENGG)

BLACKFOOT was RICK MEDLOCKE and RICK MEDLOCKE was BLACKFOOT. However, through the years the band changed it’s sound a bit, and I guess we can speak of 2 different BLACKFOOT periods. The first period is from 1974 until 1982, where the band established itself as one of the pioneers of Southern Hardrock, next to LYNYRD SKYNYRD, MOLLY HATCHET… After 1982 the band suddenly changed it’s style into pure AOR in a sort of SURVIVOR/JOURNEY style. I haven’t got a clue why the band changed it’s sound, but the live record ‘Highway song – Live’ marked the end of their Southern Hardrock period. The album itself has been re-issued onto CD on WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS, and should be considered as a very impressive Southern Hardrock release, with of course as absolute highlight the BLACKFOOT classic “Highway song”, which is probably the best Southern Rocksong ever written. “Highway song” has a playing time of almost 10 minutes, and this live version contains a fantastic (twin) guitarsolo, with also a lot of tempo changes, which all together makes this version a classic alone. In total 11 songs are included, which were recorded in London I believe, and now after 23 years available on CD through: www.paengg.de 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

BLACKFOOT ‘RICK MEDLOCKE AND BLACKFOOT’
(WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS/PAENGG)

Although released under the BLACKFOOT moniker, this is more a solo record of RICK MEDLOCKE, with the help of members of MOTHER’S FINEST. The album is a typical mid 80s American Mainstream Pop/Rock release that could have been a BILLY SQUIER or JOHN PARR release for that matter. The songs are keyboard orientated, with radio-ready polished choruses and the fact that Rick was a fan of HERMAN BROOD (a cover of “Saturday night” and a song called “My wild romance” – which was obviously a sort of tribute to HERMAN BROOD’S WILD ROMANCE!) doesn’t make this album interesting. Except for a few FOREIGNER/JOURNEY type of polished aor songs such as “Closest thing to heaven” (hello, this is clearly a sort of tribute to JOURNEY’s “After the fall”, but then of course not as good as that classic), “Silent type”, the very catchy “My wild romance” and “Reckless boy”. Recommended if you like BENNY MARDONES, BILLY SQUIER, MICHAEL BOLTON and that sort of American 80s radio ready pop/rock, but it has nothing to do with classic BLACKFOOT and it also has not much to do with the ‘classic aor/melodic rock’ of the ‘Siogo’ album of BLACKFOOT. On the other hand, it still is a quality 80s release, which has it’s moments (for the AOR freak sometimes) and this CD re-issue is therefore still interesting for some people. The CD is available through: www.paengg.de 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

BLACKFOOT ‘SIOGO’ (WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS/PAENGG)

In 1983 BLACKFOOT released their best album ever, although it also marked the beginning of a different sounding BLACKFOOT, because the particular album ‘Siogo’ contains high class AOR/Melodic Rock, which sounds like a rockier version of SURVIVOR, JOURNEY and AXE. I guess you can compare this change of style with VAN ZANT and 38 SPECIAL, because they also started as a Southern Hardrockband, but developed themselves into AOR stardom in the 1980s. BLACKFOOT also went for the AOR sound on “Siogo’, and they did it very well, because the album contains some amazing uptempo AOR classics, such as “Send me an angel”, “Teenage Idol”, “Goin' In Circles” and “Run For Cover”. Although the album featured the original line-up of BLACKFOOT, the sound had changed and partly due to the change is maybe KEN HENSLEY, ex-URIAH HEEP, who joined the band during the mid 1980s. His keyboards can be heard a lot of times, and this didn’t happen before on any BLACKFOOT album. Well, because the AOR of BLACKFOOT on this album is from such a high level, people may forgive the change in style, but on the other hand not many AOR fans are aware of this fantastic album. Here’s a second chance to obtain a copy of this rare aor classic, which is available through: www.paengg.de 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

BLACKFOOT ‘VERTICAL SMILES’
(WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS/PAENGG)

The 1984 BLACKFOOT album ‘Vertical smiles’ was the second album to feature KEN HENSLEY on keyboards. The album itself was an even more AOR/Mainstream Rock orientated album than the previous album ‘Siogo’. This album has also been re-issued onto CD, but I wouldn’t rate it as good as ‘Siogo’. Nevertheless, it still has it’s moments, such as the AOR tracks on the original B-side of the album, which are “Young girl”, “A legend never dies” (the RPM cover), “Heartbeat and heels” and “In for the kill”. However, the album also featured some average tunes like “Morning dew” (a remake of one of their own song), “Livin’ in the limelight”, “Ride with you” and “Get it on”. In the end, this BLACKFOOT album was not a constant high quality album like ‘Siogo’ was a year earlier, so it marked the end of the band in the mid 1980s. The CD is available through: www.paengg.de 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

BUCK DHARMA ‘FLAT OUT’ (WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS/PAENGG)

Donald ‘BUCK DHARMA’ Roeser is best known as the guitarist/keyboardplayer/vocalist of BLUE OYSTER CULT, but he also has done a solo record in 1982, which not many people are familiar with. The music included on this album is very much early 80s kinda AOR/Radiorock, with even some similarities to EDDIE MONEY here and there (“Born to rock”), so quite different than the heavy rock of BLUE OYSTER CULT. Donald’s vocals are very good, and the songs are all very melodic with catchy hooks and memorable choruses. This is definitely an album to pick up if you’re a fan of early 80s EDDIE MONEY, ALDO NOVA, STAN BUSH… Highlights besides the uptempo rocking opening track “Born to rock” are “That summer night” (pure AOR a la ALDO NOVA), “Five thirty-five” and “All tied up”. The album has been re-issued onto CD by WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS, and definitely worth listening. The CD is available through: www.paengg.de 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

STREETS ‘1ST’ (WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS/PAENGG)

The very first STREETS project album of KANSAS vocalist/keyboardplayer STEVE WALSH was released in 1983. The album introduced a superb high class 80s AOR/Melodic Rocksound, which wasn’t too far away from SURVIVOR and more recently, SEVENTH KEY is in the exact same style as STREETS was 20 years earlier. The band/project also featured the talents of bassist BILLY GREER (another KANSAS member), drummer Tim Gehrt and guitarist MIKE SLAMER (well-known songwriter as well, recorded with KANSAS, SIGNAL and many more, especially involved in the STEELHOUSE LANE project recently). Musically it was such superb AOR, not heard anymore, with as highlights “If love should go”, “Everything is changing”, “Fire”, “Cold hearted woman” and the superb “So far away”. This is AOR like it sounded in the 1980s, from a very high level and it is beyond me why STREETS never became big, because their American radio-ready AOR was along the lines of JOURNEY, FOREIGNER and SURVIVOR, so chart orientated, yet they rocked pretty hard as well. If you never got the chance to check out the debut of STREETS, this re-issue is making it possible to try one more time! You will not be disappointed! The CD is available through: www.paengg.de 

(Points: 9.1 out of 10)

STREETS ‘CRIMES IN MIND’
(WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS/PAENGG)

The 2nd and final STREETS album from 1985 was not as good as the 1983 debut, but it still was a great aor/melodic rock record, with such unforgettable songs like “I can’t wait”, “Desiree”, “The nightmare begins”, “Broken glass” and “Don’t look back”. It’s a shame STREETS split up and Steve began concentrating on KANSAS once again, because I really think STREETS could have delivered a string of more strong AOR/Melodic Rockalbums than the nothing-special releases we saw from KANSAS after 1986’s ‘Power’. On the other hand it perfectly fits the gap between the KANSAS 1983 album ‘Drastic measures’ and ‘Power’ from 1983, which saw the band change from a Progressive/Pomprockband into a AOR/Melodic Rockoutfit. Howvewr like I said before, KANSAS haven’t released a proper album after ‘Power’, so people looking for a strong KANSAS related album should check out the 2 80s STREETS albums, although be aware that this pure AOR and has not much to do with the 70s prog/pomprock of KANSAS. I prefer the 1st above ‘Crimes in mind’, but musically they are in the same AOR/Melodic Rockstyle. The CD is available through: www.paengg.de 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

AIRRACE ‘SHAFT OF LIGHT’
(WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS/PAENGG)

1984 saw the release of a British AOR classic, which despite of it’s high level material didn’t become a breakthrough in the USA. In the 1980s almost every UK AOR album failed to chart, because in later years fantastic AOR/Melodic Rock releases by LIONHEART (‘Hot tonight’), FM (‘Indiscreet’, ‘Tough it out’), TOBRUK, SHY (‘Excess all areas’), MORITZ, MONRO, HEAVY PETTIN’ (Rock ain’t dead’), ‘WINTER’S REIGN, SHOGUN and many more didn’t become a success in The States. It’s really a shame, because if you listen to this AIRRACE album from 1984 for example it is remarkable how good it was and still is. Songs like “I don’t care”, “First one over the line”, “Open your eyes”, “Brief encounter”, “Didn’t wanna lose ya” and “All I’m asking” are all superb uptempo AOR rockers with amazing lead vocals of KEITH MURRELL (one of UK’s best singers ever, who sadly only sang on a few records!). The band also featured the talents of drummer JASON BONHAM (his first band, the son of the legendary late ZEPPELIN drummer John) and keyboardplayer Toby Sadler (later in GTS). All together, this BEAU HILL (WARRANT, FIONA, AIRBORNE, EUROPE, RATT) produced album should have been big 20+ years ago, but it failed and therefore the lights went down very quickly after the release of the only album of AIRRACE. Despite their fantastic AOR, which was clearly in the style of FOREIGNER, SURVIVOR, PREVIEW, etc., also AIRRACE and many other 80s UK bands that tried to follow the success of DEF LEPPARD didn’t get their 15 minutes of fame in the USA. However, the AIRRACE album now gets a second chance in the shape of this re-issue, so better get yourself a copy of this AOR masterpiece asap! The CD is available through: www.paengg.de 

(Points: 9.2 out of 10)

AXE ‘OFFERING’ (WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS/PAENGG)

AXE deliver 4 amazing albums between 1979 and 1983, but they didn’t become really successful, despite the fact that their some of their songs are instant AOR classics, as good as let’s say JOURNEY, FOREIGNER and SURVIVOR. The final 2 albums are out on CD now, and it was about a time, because for example ‘Offering’ from 1982 is a pure AOR classic. Songs like “Rock’n’roll party in the streets”, “Steal another fantasy”, “Jennifer”, “Burn the city down” (hard guitar riffs), “Now or never”, “Holdin’ on” and “Silent soldiers” are all superb AOR/Melodic Rocksongs. Especially “Now or never” is one of the best AOR songs ever made! What a terrific song that was (and still is of course)! AOR albums of this high level aren’t produced anymore, no matter what others might say, because this 1982 classic proves that the best AOR was made between 1978 and 1986, which I would call this Golden-Age of AOR music with many classics and AXE’s ‘Offering’ is one of them, which is now finally available on CD through: www.paengg.de 

(Points: 9.4 out of 10)

VANDENBERG ’HEADING FOR A STORM’
(WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS/PAENGG)

1983 was one of those absolute top years in the AOR/hardrockgenre, because it saw many of the greatest releases of all times being made available to the public for the first time. The best Dutch Rockalbum ever was put out in 1983, because this is the VANDENBERG classic ‘Heading for a storm’. The 2nd VANDENBERG album has been re-issued onto CD, and without a doubt, this is one of those must-have release. Hardrock never sounded better than on this VANDENBERG album, which featured 9 tracks, of which the lovely melodic rockballad “Different worlds” is the best known song. The combination of ADRIAN VANDENBERG’s flashing guitarwork and BERT HEERINK’s superb vocals sounded at best on this VANDENBERG album. Highlights on ‘Heading for a storm’ are countless, from the opening melodic rock anthem “Friday night”, “Welcome to the club”, “Time will tell”, “Different worlds” until the very end with the fast uptempo “Waiting for the night”. This album is an absolute highlight in the Dutch and European musicscene. I must not forget to mention the song “This is war”, which in my eyes is the very first uptempo Neo-Classical Melodic Metal tune ever! The album was a success in Japan, where the band did a big tour, of which a video was released, which is now available on DVD everywhere in Holland. However, if there’s one album you must own if you want to understand the Dutch Hardrockscene, then you must check out this 2nd VANDENBERG album, which was one of my first LPs ever, which I played a thousand times, but it’s now available on CD through an American label! The CD is available through: www.paengg.de 

(Points: 9.6 out of 10)

VIRGINIA WOLF ‘VIRGINIA WOLF’
(WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS/PAENGG)

In the mid 1980s so many UK bands tried to breakthrough in America. Bands like STRANGEWAYS, AIRRACE, SHY, FM and countless others all played high quality AOR which was as good as their American brothers, but they all failed to find some success in the USA. VIRGINIA WOLF was another band playing superb pure AOR in a sort of FOREIGNER, SURVIVOR, JOURNEY kinda mix, but their 2 albums never had any success, despite the fact that the son of one of the most famous drummers of all times was a member of VIRGINA WOLF. I am talking about JASON BONHAM, son of John, the late legendary drummer of LED ZEPPELIN. Anyway, this was Jason’s second attempt in an AOR band, because he had played in AIRRACE before. Later Jason would find some fame and fortune with his own band JASON BONHAM BAND, but his best work can be heard on the 3 80s AOR records he released with AIIRRACE and VIRGINIA WOLF. All these albums have been re-issued onto CD through WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS. The first VIRGINIA WOLF album dated back to 1986. This re-issue of that classic aor album is of course wonde rful, although no bonustracks are added, but nevertheless it’s enjoyable to hear timeless classics like the uptempo AOR rockers “Are we playing with fire?”, “Only love” (A CLASSIC), “Livin’ on a knife edge” (ANOTHER CLASSIC), “Take a chance” and “Goodbye don’t mean forever”. This was the perfect bridge between SURVIVOR and LOVERBOY, yet with an own style, which was sadly followed by only one album, which has also been re-issued onto CD. Unbelievable this fantastic ROGER TAYLOR (QUEEN drummer) produced album didn’t become big in the USA,, because it is by far one of the best European AOR releases ever, along with FM, SHY, STRANGEWAYS and AIRRACE of course! The CD is available through: www.paengg.de 

(Points: 9.1 out of 10)

VIRGINIA WOLF ‘PUSH’ (WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS/PAENGG)

‘Push’ was the 2nd album of the UK AOR band VIRGINIA WOLF, also re-issued on WOUNDED BIRD. It’s not as good as their classic debut, but also ‘Push’ featured some lovely classics AOR, such as “Don’t break away”, “Standing on the edge of time” (both uptempo AOR), the midtempo “You don’t know what you’ve got” and the perfect AOR ballad “Man in the moon” (which should have been a US number 1 hitsingle back in 1987). Producer KEVIN ELSON did all he could do in making this another great AOR album, but just like all the other UK AOR releases they didn’t succeeded in a breakthrough in the USA. The band split up and JASON BONHAM formed his own groovy Melodic Hardrockband JASON BONHAM BAND, but vocalist CHRIS OUSEY kept making the same kind of AOR until today under the moniker HEARTLAND. Still small success, which is remarkable, because Chris is such a talented singer who keeps releasing fantastic AOR albums with HEARTLAND (10+ right now), but is only known within the AOR community. Anyway, the 2 VIRGINIA WOLF re-issues are a must to own for any AOR fan out there, especially the same titled debut album. The CD is available through: www.paengg.de 

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)

VANDENBERG ‘VANDENBERG’
(WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS/PAENGG)

The very first album of the legendary Dutch hardrockband VANDENBERG featured the best Dutch song ever recorded (!). I am talking about the ultimate CLASSIC MELODIC HARDROCKBALLAD “Burning heart”. This song became a big hit in the USA, but if it had been promoted a little bit more it could have become easily a number 1 hit. Here in Holland it was a much bigger hit, and last year it was re-released in a different version. I am a sucker for the original 1982 version, which can be heard on the re-issued CD version of the original 1982 debut album of VANDENBERG. Besides the ballad, the other 8 tracks are all fantastic big time rockers that sound like a cross between the NWOBHM style of SAXON and Canadian rockers RIOT (“Ready for you” and “Out in the streets”), the American Melodic Rock a la VAN HALEN (“Back on my feet” and “Wait”), the bluesy Classic 70s UK Hardrock ala FREE/BAD COMPANY (“Your love is in vain”) and finally classic 70s Melodic Hardrock a la RAINBOW. The RAINBOW tingled songs “Nothing to lose” and “Lost in a city” were clearly the best songs, along with “Wait” and “Burning heart” of course. The result was a clear winner for any Hardrockfan. The band had melted all their influences into an exciting own style, with superb guitarwork of Adrian Vandenberg and lovely vocalwork of Bert Heerink. Now available on CD, just like the 2 other VANDENBERG albums. The CD is available through: www.paengg.de 

(Points: 9.3 out of 10)

VANDENBERG ‘ALIBI’
(WOUNDED BIRD RECORDS/PAENGG)

‘Alibi’ was the final and weakest effort of VANDENBERG. By 1985 the band had unfortunately lost it’s original own style in favour of an American big Hair Metalsound that had more in common with DEF LEPPARD than VANDENBERG. The band released the album at the same time another original Hardrockband had lost it’s original sound to an American style, namely Y&T! Both bands released their weakest efforts in 1985, only a few years after they both released classic albums. Anyway, ‘Alibi’ clearly marked the end of what once was the best Dutch band ever! 10 songs were included, and despite the fact that it featured some weak songs like “Pedal to the metal”, the album also saw some more VANDENBERG classics like the ballads “How long” and “Once in a lifetime”, the midtempo rockers “All the way” and “Alibi” and one of the few uptempo rockers (“Dressed to kill”) which reminded me a lot of early 80s Y&T. However, the album in general was a disappointment after 2 classic albums that were released a few years before. Likewise the album failed to chart, and VANDENBERG split. Guitarist Adrian found fame and fortune in WHITESNAKE and vocalist Bert Heerink went on singing with PICTURE, UNDERCOVER, solo records and more recently released some fantastic albums with KAYAK, with whom he also is touring a lot. Bert is currently working on a new KAYAK album, which should be out any day now, while Adrian recently finished remastering the VANDENBERG live in Japan video release onto DVD. Who knows what will happen next, maybe a reunion after last year’s performance in original line-up of the VANDENBERG classic “Burning heart” in a national Dutch TV show. One thing is for sure, their first 2 albums are classics, and together with their third album ‘Alibi’ all of them have been re-issued onto CD and available through: www.paengg.de 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

SCENES ‘CALL US AT THE NUMBER YOU PROVIDE’
(ESCAPE MEDIA/ROCK INC)

SCENES is a German band and with ‘Call us at the number you provide’ they have released a sensational Melodic Progressive Metal release. The sound and production is first of all perfect, but also everything else seems to sound very impressive, because the band has a great strong lead singer, a fantastic instrumental back-up and most importantly, the 9 included songs on their CD are quite sensational. SCENES sounds like a mix between VANDENPLAS, BALANCE OF POWER and THRESHOLD. It all sounds very melodic, yet pure Progressive Metal, with some amazing songs like “You walk away”, “My own life”, “Save the light” and “Start again”. Definitely a must-have for the fans of high class prog metal in the style of mentioned bands. More info at: http://www.scenes.de 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

DARK NOVA ‘SIVILLA’ (BLACK LOTUS RECORDS/ROCK INC)

Here’s a good quality band from Greece, whom already exist since 1987 (!), and ‘Sivilla’ is their 3rd CD, but the very first I hear. The album is filled with well played Melodic Metal with Progressive and Power Metal influences as well. The band has a line-up, which features 2 female and 3 male members, but none of the female members sing, because the lead singer is a guy called Michael Choulakis, who actually sings quite well. This DARK NOVA is definitely doing all things correctly, without being a very sensational act, just a good clean melodic prog/power metal with a nice CD to check out if you’re a fan of (let’s say) VICIOUS RUMORS, FATES WARNING, METAL CHURCH, SAVATAGE… Highlights on ‘Sivilla’ are “Come into my nightmare”, “Desperate act”, “Say no more” and “Too late to hide”, but actually all songs are a bit in the same style, so if you like one you will like ‘em all! Nice band to check out for the fans of Prog/Power Metal, more info at: http://www.darknova.gr 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

DYNAMIC LIGHTS ‘SHAPE’ (DVS RECORDS/ROCK INC)

In the past I reviewed some demos and mini-CDs of this Italian band, but now DYNAMIC LIGHTS has their first full-length CD out on the Dutch label DVS RECORDS. The CD contains 8 well-produced songs, which may be classified as pure Progressive Metal with a sort of own identity. The songs are quite lengthy, with as best track opener “In the hands of a siren”, a 9 minutes counting epic which also features some great vocals of guest female singer Jamina Jansson. The band’s material is good enough for a CD release, but still I would not call this a sensational release in the Progressive Metal scene because at this moment this genre is bringing hundreds of releases each month, so there’s a lot of competition. I am safe to say that there will be enough Progressive Metalfans who need to pick this release up because it is after all a quality release, but it is not as good as for example VANDENPLAS, THRESHOLD, DREAM THEATER or EVERGREY. Nevertheless, a nice prog release, which may be checked out, but do not expect a sensational release.

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

V8 WANKERS ‘THE DEMON TWEAK’ (RUDE RECORDS/ROCK INC)

I have read a lot about this band, and now I am able to review their disc. Well, this surely isn’t something to check out if you want to hear complicated or melodic rock stuff, because V8 WANKERS stands for straight-ahead rock and roll in a sort of AC/DC meets MOTORHEAD kinda no-nonsense approach. The songs are about Motorcycles, Women, Whiskey and Rock And Roll, so bad boys who are having a good time on a saturday night! The songs are al uptempo straight-ahead guitar orientated with sing-a-long choruses and raw vocals. This is really the perfect cross between AC/DC and MOTORHEAD. Highlights are “Bad ass boys”, “We give rock a bad name”, “My motor burns” and “Possessed by rock’n’roll”. Go check out asap if you want to hear dirty mean sleazy good old straight-forward rock’n’roll!

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

THE ELYSIAN FIELDS ‘SUFFERING GOD ALMIGHTY’
(BLACK LOTUS RECORDS/ROCK INC)

This is Extreme Death Metal with Industrial influences if anyone is interested in knowing what the Greek band THE ELYSIAN FIELDS is all about!

(Points: 3.0 out of 10)

UNCHAINED ‘MY GUIDE’ (SOUND RIOT RECORDS/ROCK INC)

A new mini-CD of the Swedish band UNCHAINED, which sounds much better than the previous CDs I reviewed the past few years. 4 songs are included, and although nothing new is brought here, opener “My guide” is a very catchy uptempo Melodic Power Metal song like a mix between EDGUY and MASTERPLAN, although a level lower of course than these big bands. However, the song is quite impressive and very catchy if you ask me. The other songs are slightly weaker and sound like leftovers from EDGUY. Hopeful for a future CD, because that song “My guide” sounds promising, although it will be hard to reach the high level of mentioned bands.

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

INNER VISIONS ‘CONTROL THE PAST’ (REPLICA RECORDS/ROCK INC)

Here we go again, a new label and a new band, but not a new sound, because INNER VISIONS from France is clearly playing your typical fast melodic Neo-Classical Power Metal with catchy choruses, melodic hooks, keyboards-all-over-the-place and melodic guitarsolos, in a pure SONATA ARCTICA, STRATOVARIUS, KAMELOT, RHAPSODY, VISION DIVINE, LABYRINTH orientated style. Of course I am a sucker for this kind of stuff and although a lot of the press will probably hate this band for not playing something original, I am quite impressed with this new French band. INNER VISIONS is doing it all very professional, so their cliché typed Neo-Classical Power Metal sounds quite good, despite the clear similarities to aforementioned bands. Besides, the band has a good lead singer, and most of the 10 included tracks are really catchy. Opener “Big brother” is clearly a strong uptempo Neo-Classical power metal piece with very strong melodies and is maybe even better than SONATA ARCTICA’s latest release, which wasn’t that sensational after all. Once again, nothing new is brought here, but INNER VISIONS has some great songs to offer here and there, such as the already mentioned opener, but also “Eliminate”, “Control the past” and “The prophecy”. So, the professionalism of this band is making them stronger than the countless other bands in this genre, so therefore a must to check out if you’re a fan of mentioned bands.

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

SOMA PLANET ‘SOMA PLANET’ (INDEPENDENT)

An independent release from this Barcelona/Spain based band. The band is called SOMA PLANET and they play semi-instrumental progressive pop/rock with all sort of other music influences, such as World Music, Jazz and even some Flamengo. This is definitely something for the open-minded progfan, because it is not the standard IQ or DREAM THEATER stuff we get to hear, because SOMA PLANET invites us into a world where it’s peaceful and open to all sorts of music styles. It really feels like you’re somewhere in South America, due the use of so many different instruments besides the usual guitar-bass-drums-keyboards. Especially the flute and koto make the songs sound very special. In total 11 songs are included, of which some are quite lengthy. Overall the CD gives you really a pleasant and relaxed feeling as if you’re in the tropics somewhere instead of the cold winters up north. I can recommend it to anyone who is open-minded when it comes to their progressive rock tastes. A very unique CD, which is challenging and very different than anything else reviewed on our pages., although it still can be qualified as progressive rock. More info at: http://www.geocities.com/soma_planet 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

CATHOUSE ‘IN PUSSY WE TRUST’ (INDEPENDENT)

Italy has brought us many progressive rockbands in the past, but the past few years we have also seen many news band playing Glam/Sleaze Hardrock a la CRUE/GUNS’N’ROSES. CATHOUSE is another band playing pure late 80s US Glam/Sleaze Metal. The band is clearly influenced by GUNS’N’ROSES, MOTLEY CRUE and LA GUNS, and their professional independent CD contains 6 songs that remind us of that late 80s LA Style. Although it is not as good as their favourite bands, it definitely is something worth checking out if you’re into bands like KIX, LA GUNS, CRUE, BRITNY FOX, FASTER PUSSYCAT, TIPSY WIT, BEAU NASTY, CINDERELLA, CATS’N’BOOTS… Highlights are the songs “From my heart” and “Time to be a superstar”. Recommended if you like any of the mentioned bands! More info at: http://www.cathouseband.com

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

ONE OF SIXX ‘U.D. CIDE DEMO’ (DEMO CDR)

Out of Texas comes the band ONE OF SIXX, who definitely know how to play ‘real’ Metal, because that’s what they basically are doing on the 4 songs of their demo cd. The band was formed some 10 years ago, but this is the first time I hear something from them, which is a pity, because they sound VERY IMPRESSIVE! Their Melodic Metal sounds basically perfect, owing a lot to 80s FATES WARNING, early QUEENSRYCHE and VICIOUS RUMORS, which means strong melodic guitar driven metal with good harmonies during the choruses. Opener “Simple pleasures” shows right away we are dealing here with a very good band, because the band has a fantastic lead singer VIKK REAL (ex-BYFIST, a band we reviewed some time ago) and a superb guitarist (Dave Cadena I think, because they have 2 guitarists, but the one who plays the solo in the opening track surely can play very well). All 4 songs are filled with hooks and catchy melodic choruses, with tempo changes and guitarsolo’s in a way MAIDEN did in their heydays. This band is definitely something special and if I had a label I would not hesitate in singing this fantastic Texas based Metalband. Go check out their site at: http://oneofsixx.tripod.com  and e-mail them at: DPOrtiz61@satx.rr.com 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

MIKE GALLAGHER ‘EXTREME GUITAR 2‘ (INDEPENDENT)

This is really cool instrumental melodic hardrock/metal the way I like it best, straight-forward with a sort of twin-guitar melodic guitar line chorus. No wonder the songs of American guitarist MIKE GALLAGHER have been heard in TV shows and movies worldwide, because the songs on his latest CD sound very catchy and perfect to be heard during (let’s say) action TV programme’s. Mike is an excellent guitarplayer, which you can hear very clearly on this wonderful instrumental CD. The sound in general reminds me of early VAI, SATRIANI and VAN HALEN. Highly recommended to the fans of instrumental Melodic Hardrock/Metal! More info at: http://www.mikegallagheronline.com  and e-mail at: mikerocks@comcast.net 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

TEARS FOR THE DEAD GODS ‘TEARS FOR THE DEAD GODS’
(GAIA DISK RECORDS)

A hot new CD from a hot new band out of Quebec, Canada, and let me tell you that it sounds huge and could be considered as good as any INSIDE OUT release for that matter, because also musically they are not that very far away from bands like EVERGREY, VANDENPLAS or THRESHOLD, so basically what we have here is a great big sounding melodic Progressive Metal release packed in a concept like you could expect from a band in this genre. The band is called TEARS FOR THE DEAD GODS, and opener “Walrus 9” sets the record straight, because this is a big sounding instrumental prog metal masterpiece a la DREAM THEATER. Instrumental it all sounds very impressive, but we also need to discuss here the vocal parts, and although it is always getting used to a singer, this band has a good singer, although he is not the strongest singer in the Prog Metal genre, but anyway good enough to sing on this record. The first couple of songs are quite lengthy, which is typical prog of course, but towards the end of the CD the songs seem to get a bit shorter. The Progressive Metal of TEARS FOR THE DEAD GODS sounds very good, although not as good as the earlier mentioned Progleaders! Highlights are “Birth of the techno-child”, “Rise of the prophet” and “Anthem of chaos”, the 3 longest running songs on the CD. As a bonus you’ll get another CD, which features a 22 minutes counting epic tune by multi-instrumentalist Frank R. Anthony, who is playing bass in TEARS FOR THE DEAD GODS. All together a nice package of quality Progressive Metal for you to check out at: http://www.tearsforthedeadgods.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

GREG RAPAPORT ‘AZRAEL BLOCK’ (SPLINTERHEAD PRODUCTIONS)

Instrumental Progressive Rock/Metal is what we get to hear on the 4th CD of the American multi-instrumentalist GREG RAPAPORT from New York. He shows he is a talent on the guitar, because his latest CD ‘Azrael block’ is another recommended piece for fans of instrumental guitar orientated progressive rock/metal with some jazz/fusion influences as well. 12 songs are included in total and some comparisons to NEAL SCHON are definitely possible, although you can also smell the influences of STEVE VAI and JOE SATRIANI in here. You can check out more on GREG RAPAPORT at: http://www.gregrapaport.com  and e-mail Greg at: greg@splinterhead.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

MARK PROTZE ‘OPUS NO.1/REVENGE OF…’ (INDEPENDENT)

MARK PROTZE is a very talented guitarist from Germany, who has been playing guitar for 17 years now and you can definitely hear that on the 2 mini CDs he sent to me. This guy is a fantastic guitar shredder in the Neo-Classical Metalstyle of VINNIE MOORE, MALMSTEEN, JOE STUMP and those kind of guitarists. 4 songs are on both CDs, which sound a lot like MALMSTEEN, but Mark does a very good job, and you always wonder how well it would sound if vocals were added. Anyway, any fan of MALMSTEEN is gonan love this fantastic German guitarist, who you can check out at: http://www.markprotze.de.vu  and e-mail at: mark.protze@freenet.de 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

THE STREET ‘PROMO’ (PROMO)

This is the 3rd CD of the Salt Lake City/Utah, USA based band THE STREET. They play honest 80s influenced catchy melodic hardrock that reminds me a lot of SHY TIGER and JOHNNY LIMA, if anyone remember those acts, so they actually have the sound of a Californian Sunshine late 80s Poser Metalband, which is a good thing for sure, because we have missed such bands a lot lately. For the people who are not that familiar with mentioned acts, I can perhaps also mention they sound a bit like late 80s BON JOVI with WHITE LION coming through and some of today’s popular nu-breed melodic poprockacts also coming around (think HAREM SCAREM meets BARENAKED LADIES). Anyway, only 4 songs are on the new CD, which offers good clean fun uptempo melodic rockers in the shape of “Damned if I do” and “Thump”, midtempo melodic rock in “Grip” (HAREM SCAREM having dinner with JOHNNY LIMA, catchy tune, also reminds me of the Brazilian band MONKEY BITE, but then get a bit too obscure I guess!) and finally a good semi melodic rockballad titled “Say”. I also received another new demo of the band, which contains 2 songs, which once again combine modern and 80s elements into an exciting melodic rocksound, which is radio-ready if you ask me. The songs “1” (don’t know the songtitles) and “2” (very good strong midtempo aor/melodic rocker, best song of the band!) are the kind of catchy tune BON JOVI forgot to write after ‘Keep the faith’. Concluded, nice band to check out if you’re into classy 80s type of melodic hardrock with a slight modern approach. More info at: http://www.thestreetmusic.com  and e-mail at: band@thestreetmusic.com 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

LORDS OF DECADENCE ‘COGNITIVE NOTE OF DISCORD’ (SCARLET RECORDS)

This is a band from Austria featuring 4 young musicians out of the beautiful city of Vienna. Instrumental it all sounds excellent on their first official CD on SCARLET RECORDS, but unftrunately the vocals show a band that is more into CHILDREN OF BODOM, IN FLAMES and DIMMU BORGIR, so they mix Neo-Classical Metal, Progressive Metal with Death/Black, which could be interesting, but the problem is that the growling is getting bored after some time, so you rather wish they had done an instrumental record, because LORDS OF DECADENCE are instrumental doing things perfectly. Only recommended to fans of CHILDREN OF BODOM and that type of Progressive Death Metal with keyboards.

(Points: - )

SPIDERS AND SNAKES ‘HOLLYWOOD GHOSTS’
(SANSEI RECORDS/CLEOPATRA RECORDS)

Guitarist Lizzie Grey did some great stuff with the band LONDON, who were after all one of the first Glam Metalbands in Hollywood 25+ years ago. The band has had each and everyone from the 80s LA Metal scene in their line-up, with Lizzie being the only member who played in the band from the start in the late 70s as a sort of tribute to MOTT THE HOOPLE and the other British 70s Glamrock to the break-up in the late 80s when the band had transformed from a Metalband into an almost Goth sounding Rockband. Anyway, in the early years NIKKI SIXX was a bandmember of LONDON, and Lizzy actually wrote “Public enemy no.1” that ended up on the first CRUE. Anyway, Lizzie eventually quit LONDON, formed the band ULTRAPOP in the late 80s, which was a very average 70s type of UK Glitterpopband, but out of the ashes of that band Lizzie formed SPIDER AND SNAKES some 15 years ago. This band released a lot of albums during that period, of which ‘Hollywood ghosts’ is their latest. I am not impressed with SPIDERS AND SNAKES’ music, because I still think Lizzie’s best effort was the fantastic ‘Non stop rock’ album of LONDON, which is a very underrated 80s LA Glam Metalalbum that sounded like the best of KEEL, LA GUNS, WASP and CRUE combined. That album is still waiting for a re-issue! With SPIDER AND SNAKES we are once again more into early 70s British Glitter/Glam Rock, a bit like MOTT THE HOOPLE and T REX, with the ‘weird’ extraordinary vocals of Lizzie, who happens to be a great guitarplayer on the other hand. The 12 new studio tracks on this new SPIDERS AND SNAKES CD are not that interesting, but I still think new record is recommended, due to the fact there’s a great bonus DVD included, which features 15 music video clips, interviews and rare performances. This is a look at the SPIDER AND SNAKES past and present, with as highlights rare footage of performances of classics like “Public enemy no.1” and “Non stop rock”. This 60+ minutes counting bonus DVD is definitely more entertaining than the new studio songs of the actual CD, so if you’re a dedicated LA Glamfreak or maybe better if you’re a fan of early 70s UK Glitter/Glam, then get this release asap, because it has enough to offer! More info at: http://www.spidersandsnakes.com 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

VARIOUS ARTISTS ‘ARMAGEDDON OVER WACKEN LIVE 2004’
(ARMAGEDDON MUSIC/ROCK INC)

3 CDs filled with live recordings from 1 festival by some of the best Metalbands of today, well, that’s only possible on Wacken Open Air, the German Metal festival which is held each year. It’s also recorded each year (audio and video), and this 3-CD set is the registration of last year’s festival, which saw many big bands once again, although TWISTED SISTER is missing on this CD. However, you still get about 45+ songs from bands like MYSTIC PROPHECY, KOTIPELTO, DIO, MOTORHEAD, NEVERMORE, BRAINSTORM, DORO, ANTHRAX, FEINSTEIN, DEATH ANGEL and many more. Must-have for the die-hard Metalfreaks and everyone who attended Wacken in 2004!

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

THE NEWLYDEADS ‘DEAD END’
(LEMON RECORDINGS/CHERRY RED RECORDS)

Different than lead singer TAIME DOWNE’s earlier band FASTER PUSSYCAT, but you could still hear the late 80s Glam Metal influences on the CD ‘Dead end’ of the band THE NEWLYDEADS. This band was formed out of the ashes of FASTER PUSSCAT and BANG TANGO. Musically they played a mix of 80s Goth Rock (think THE CULT) and late 80s Glam/Sleaze (think FASTER PUSSYCAT) with some more modern mid 90s Industrial elements added. They released 2 CDs before this particular CD, which actually consists of recordings from the late 90s. Fans of the band will love the record, although I don’t think it’s as good as for example BANG TANGO or FASTER PUSSYCAT in their heydays, but hats off to the band for recording some original material that is almost impossible to compare, but imagine yourself a mix between THE CULT, FASTER POUSSYCAT and MINISTRY, and you’re close to what THE NEWLYDEADS were all about! More info at: http://www.lemonrecordings.co.uk 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

POTION 13 ‘PORTE BONHEUR’ (INDEPENDENT)

The Quebec, Canada based band POTION 13 is playing very strong Melodic Hardrock/Metal with a big 80s attitude. Their lyrics are in French, but that isn’t a problem at all I think, because after all the 10 included songs sound very good. The band is built around 3 girls (Annie Leclerc on drums, Danielle Langlois on vocals and Stephane Masson on bass) and a male guitarist (Brian Harps - who looks like GENE SIMMONS actually!). While listening to the CD, it’s like I’m back in 1985 when BITCH was ruling the Female fronted metalscene, although maybe an even better comparison is the very early LEE AARON stuff, because Lee after all was the ‘Metal Queen’ who also hailed from Canada, just like this wonderful band. After a couple of spins of the album, I was really surprised that it sounded that good, because I really am impressed by this great Melodic Metal record. Canada seems to be introducing many great female fronted bands lately, because after FORGTTOEN TALES (also from Quebec) we can add POTION 13 as another great band. I highly recommend them to any fan of 80s ff melodic metal! More info at: http://www.potion13.org 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

ALEC STAR ‘AUDIO CDR+THEN AND NOW LIVE DVD’ (INDEPENDENT)

In the 80s the USA brought us thousands of wonderful bands playing high class AOR/Melodic Rock and of course a lot of them are still unknown for most people. ALECSTAR was such a band. This New York based band was basically making the kind of AOR which I am a sucker for, because I love their FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS, QWEST, SUGARCREEK, SHERIFF, LOVERBOY, THE BABYS, CONEY HATCH, LE ROUX tingled pure early 80s AOR. Recently the band reformed and the results are an audio CDR with 13 original ALECSTAR tunes as well as fantastic DVD that contains various performances of the band from the early 80s and their recent reunion gigs. Without a doubt, this is excellent stuff for anyone who is into early 80s AOR/Melodic Rock. The audio CDR contains such superb AOR/Melodic Rock material, like “Man behind the wheel”, “Give me the time to change”, “Can’t stop the need”, “So long to Hollywood” and “Wheel of fortune”. These are all timeless songs that can easily compete with the best of aforementioned acts. This is the kind of AOR I love so much and could easily grade as another classy band from the golden age of AOR (1982-1986). Here’s a second chance for everyone to check out some awesome underground AOR from the early 80s. I am not sure if this CDR is available, but if it was up to me I would give these guys a record deal, because this kind of stuff should be re-issued onto CD (perhaps ESCAPE MUSIC???). Anyway, the DVD is available through the band’s website at: http://www.alecstar.com and this particular DVD is really great. OK, the footage is not superb, but the performances are very rare and unique, so therefore very interesting. In the beginning the band was more a Hardrock/Metalband, even coverings songs by PRIEST, DEEP PURPLE and LED ZEPPELIN, but through the years they started making these lovely AOR/Melodic Rock tunes. Without a doubt, this was a band that should have been bigger. The performances date back to as far as 1980 (incredibly rare stuff!). 17 songs were filmed during gigs between 1980 and 1985, while the remaining 7 songs are taken from gigs performed the last couple of years, of which the 2003 gig is the most recent. This kind of stuff makes you think back of the glorious early 80s when so many new US bands were performing such great music. If only we could turn back time! Anyway, check out the band’s site at: http://www.alecstar.com  and e-mail them at: alecstar@yahoo.com  Highly recommended to all 80s AOR fans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

AROL ZENDIK/WULF ZENDIK ‘INTO THE ORACLE/WULFSONG VOLUME 1’ (INDEPENDENT)

2 albums from the family Zendik, but be aware that this has nothing to do with Rock or Metal. Arol is the daughter of the late Wulf Zendik. Both have been recording music for a long time, and after her father’s death, 2 CDs have been released by Arol Zendik, her own solo CD and a CD with recordings from her father. Wulf’s is a sort of Bob Dylan kinda folk album with mainly acoustic singer/songwriter songs. The CD of Arol is a very laid-back CD with music that fits somewhere between New Wave, Folk and Celtic music with a singer/songwriter touch, with her voice reminding me of Stevie Nicks of FLEETWOOD MAC. I am not sure wether this will interest any of our readers, but you now know the existence of the CDs of the family Zendik, which is available at: http://www.zendik.org 

(Points: - )

POWER ‘THRASHBLITZ’ (INDEPENDENT)

Obviously influenced by SLAYER, this German band called POWER is offering good strong late 80s Bay Area Thrash Metal with as most positive fact the big guitar riffs which are so much sounding like old SLAYER, but then done very well and not just a second rate copy. This is the kind of pure Thrash Metal, which isn’t played much anymore, because most of the bands add newer influences, but POWER is all about pure Bay Area Thrash Metal. 9 songs are included, and this is a CD that will be loved by any fan of SLAYER. The songs are all good and in the same style, with a big production, so recommended to all headbangers out there!. You can check it out for yourself at: http://www.powerthrash.com  and e-mail them at: thrashblitz@gmx.de 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

LAST TARGET ‘ONE SHOOT, ONE KILL’ (LUCK RECORDS/BENTEN)

Heading to Japan where Punk and Oi! Music is pretty popular actually. Many new Japanese bands are popping up here and there, and the THE DONNAS influenced LAST TARGET is definitely a good band to come out of the land of the rising of the sun. Although I compare them to THE DONNAS, this band is actually more a Streetpunkband playing a mix of 1977 UK Punk, Oi! and Rock’n’Roll. They are obviously influenced by THE BUSINESS, but LAST TARGET has a female singer called Ryoko, who also plays guitar and played in a popular Japanese band before called THUG MURDER. She is able to sing quite well (a la JOAN JETT), in contrast to most Japanese singers, who have problems singing in English. This band however is doing things quite well, sounding like a pure late 70s British Punk/Rockband. 13 songs on their debut CD, which has a good sound and production, so I think we can easily call this a high quality Melodic Punkrockalbum. Highlights are “Truth for you”, “Gods gamble” (which even reminds me of GIRLSCHOOL/ROCK GODDESS), “Tokyo memories” and “My life, my way”, all straight-forward Punk Rock’n’Rollers like a mix between THE DONNAS and THE BUSINESS. The only weak song is the fast Noise/Hardcore tune “You’re my disillusion”, which falls out of place between the rest of the CD. Nevertheless, a good debut CD from a promising band, so go check out LAST TARGET at: http://www.sister.co.jp 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

CHITAN GO KING’S ‘PREGNANT FANTASY/GUT’S IDOL’ (SISTER/BENTEN)

The CHITAN GO KING’S is a 3-piece all-female band whom are playing Poppy Punkrock. They have released 2 CDs, and although instrumental it sounds nice, I am afraid the vocals are a bit too weak to make it really interesting. On the same label we have had a very good female fronted melodic punkrock release in the shape of LAST TARGET, but I am afraid this CCHITAN GO KING’S is nothing special. The reason is the lead vocalist who sings like a child of 10 years old! I am sorry, but this really should not be taken serious. I hope the label has more releases a la LAST TARGET in the future, because this band is not interesting at all, unless they hire a new singer. More info at: http://www.sister.co.jp 

(Points: 3.0 out of 10)

PETTY BOOKA ‘BLUEGRASS ALBUM DON’T ROCK THE JUKEBOX’ (SISTER/BENTEN)

This Japanese duo is doing acoustic bluegrass versions of old classic pop/rock songs, such as KINKS “Come dancing”, THE CLASH “Lost in the supermarket” and songs by GRATEFUL DEAD, UB40, JAMES TAYLOR, EARTH WIND AND FIRE and several others. 13 songs are included, and although it is completely different than anything else I myself have heard in years, it’s something you must be interested in hearing, because Japanese girls doing covers acoustically is not your typical kind of stuff. I don’t have a clue what else these girls have been doing, but this Bluegrass acoustic cover pop album is only interesting for a select kind of people. More info at: http://www.sister.co.jp 

(Points: 6.5 out of 10)

VARIOUS ARTISTS ‘JAPAN GIRLS NITE US TOUR 2005’ (SISTER/BENTEN)

4 all female bands from Japan can be found on this compilation CD, which is actually a mini-CD, because only 4 songs are included. PETTY BOOKA, TITAN GO KINGS, TSUHIMAMIRE and PUPPYPET are the names of the bands, and they are all nowhere near as good as LAST TARGET, which is the female fronted Punkband in the SISTER label. Advice would be to look for more harder rockbands a la LAST TARGET, because the 4 bands on this CD are not really Punk or Rock at all. More info at: http://www.sister.co.jp 

(Points: -)

FORSAKEN ‘ANIMA MUNDI’ (GOLDEN LAKE PRODUCTIONS)

FORSAKEN is a band from Malta. They released 3 CDs on the British label GOLDEN LAKE PRODUCTIONS, of which ‘Anima mundi’ is their 2003 CD release. Musically they play BLACK SABBATH/CANDLEMASS orientated slow Doom Metal, yet with very melodic vocals. The band’s lead singer (Leo Stivala) has a very good strong voice and I am quite sure the Doom Metal of FORSAKEN will be loved by the fans of this genre. Some songs are a bit more uptempo (such as the fantastic “All is accomplished”) and then the band is sounding like a True Melodic Metalband. More info at: http://www.goldenlakeproducs.co.uk 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

FORSAKEN ‘’ICONOCLAST’ (GOLDEN LAKE PRODUCTIONS)

FORSAKEN from Malta also released a mini-CD, which consists of 4 songs, which are still quite lengthy, so for a Punkband this would be a full-length CD! Anyway, the Melodic Doom Metal of FORSAKEN sounds very impressive, although the best stuff of the band can be found on their regular full-length CDs. Nevertheless, the songs “Where angels have fallen”, “Via crucis”, “A martyr’s prayer” and “Wither the hour” can not be found on the regular albums of FORSAKEN, so therefore this CD is a must-have for the Doom Metal and FORSAKEN fans. More info at: http://www.goldenlakeproducs.co.uk 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

FORSAKEN ‘EVERMORE’ (GOLDEN LAKE PRODUCTIONS)

‘Evermore’ is the most recent album of the Maltese metalband FORSAKEN, although the 2004 released CD ‘Evermore’ is actually a re-release of their debut album from 1996, which was very hard to get until this re-release on GOLDEN LAKE PRODUCTIONS. The CD was clearly less slow Doom Metal orientated, because some of the songs are straight-ahead, but on the other hand it still is pure BLACK SABBATH! Opener “The healer” for example sounds like the perfect BLACK SABBATH with OZZY on vocals song that they never recorded! A great uptempo rocker with some very nice riffs and an impressive OZZY improvisation. The other songs are a mix of OZZYish BLACK SABBATH and NWOBHM. Highlights besides the great opener are “Moon dancer”, “Season’s end”, “Slip stream” and “Vertigo”. The best Maltese band ever is definitely recommended to any die-hard metalfan, especially OZZY/BLACK SABBATH freaks! More info at: http://www.goldenlakeproducs.co.uk 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

UNSILENCE ‘A WALK THROUGH OCEANS’ (GOLDEN LAKE PRODUCTIONS)

UNSILENCE is a British band, formed more than 10 years ago, but so far only a few mini-CDs released. It’s a shame there aren’t any full-length CDs available of this band, because this mini-CD from 2002 is a very strong album. The band has a big melodic metalsound with upfront gothic like vocals, ending up sounding like a mix between HIM and BLACK SABBATH. The band’s singer (Andrew Hodson) has a very good melodic voice, while the guitarists surely know how play some real metal. Like I said, you can find 4 strong songs on this CD, and I’ll bet if a full-length CD would sound like this it will be a sensational release, because this mini-CD alone is worth checking out if you want to hear some great original Melodic Metal with Gothic and Doom influences. More info at: http://www.goldenlakeproducs.co.uk 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

GRAFTON ‘BLIND HORSE CAMPAIGN’
(DEAD CANARY RECORDS/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

GRAFTON is a US band playing original Rock’N’Roll with a Punk attitude. Their music is a mix of the 60s Garage Rock, 70s Punkrock and today’s Nu-Breed genre. The result is a good original CD titled ‘Blind horse campaign’, which is clearly in the style of bands like WHITE STRIPES and THE STROKES. People into such bands will probably also like GRAFTON very much, because after all, they all play the same kind of 60s influenced Rock’n’roll, which is raw and catchy at the same time. 11 songs are on the band’s debut (?) CD, and most of them are straight-forward, with as highlights “Sinker”, “Pour like it rains”, “The day they ran us out of town” (catchy tune, could be massive) and “Lord baltimora”. Recommended to the fans of good old Rock’n’Roll with a modern attitude. So less Punk and more Rock’n’Roll is the fact that lies on the US band GRAFTON!

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

REEVEOLIVER ‘1800 FEET POLYESTER’
(THE MILITIA GROUP/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

OK, here’s the thing. A lot of people within the melodic rock community do not understand there’s a clear link with the countless new acts from the USA, because we have had acts like MARVELOUS 3, BARENAKED LADIES, 3 DOORS DOWN, MATCHBOX 20 and hundreds more of such acts playing Melodic Poprock, and some of them are almost sounding like a pure Melodic Rockband. Here’s another good example in the shape of REEVEOLIVER. Opener “I want burns” on their CD is a very impressive catchy melodic rocksong that sounds a lot like the last couple of HAREM SCAREM. And guess what, the whole CD continues in this style with many more catchy melodic rocksongs that sound like the perfect mix between recent HAREM SCAREM and early 80s RICK SPRINGFIELD, because that’s what this whole US Melodic Poprock invasion actually is, a sort of revamped early 80s poprocksound with some modern elements here and there such as the slightly lower way of singing (and a few depressing songs occasionally). Most of the songs sound like the early 80s (except for example “Inhale, exhale” which is more a 90s type of depressive song), so catchy uptempo poprock with a lot of melodies during the choruses and even some catchy hooks here and there. Besides the great opener, other highlights are “Your own private ice age”, “Yer motion” and “Reevenge”. I dare fans of HAREM SCAREM to check out this release, because there are clearly similarities!

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

SKOOSHNY ‘ZOLOTO’ (VIBRO PHONIC RECORDS/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

20 short songs are on the ‘new’ CD of SKOOSHNY album, which is actually a collection of unreleased songs of the band. SKOOSHNY are from LA and they have been releasing albums since 1991. Musically they play a sort of retro kinda Psychedelic late 1960s Rock with even clear similarities to THE BYRDS. The calmer songs are sounding a bit depressive like THE KINKS did on songs like “Sunday afternoon”, but during the uptempo rockers SKOOSHNY definitely sounds like a good 60s orientated Garage Rockband. I’m pretty sure if bands like PRETTY THINGS are your favourite acts, you will love this band a lot. Best songs are “Private jokes”, “Masking the moon” (great catchy rocker with nice guitarsolo/riffs), “Angel with a devil’s heart”, “Corssing double lines” (great guitarwork on this tune, originally a song from 1979!!!) and “It hides more than it yells”. A very unique band playing a pure 1960s Garage Rock kinda style, so recommended to fans of mentioned bands and of course fans of the band will like to hear that this ‘new’ CD has many unreleased tunes to offer, which are quite good too!

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

ARTENSION ‘FUTURE WORLD’ (LION MUSIC/BERTUS)

ARTENSION returns with a new CD, after another switch from label, now on LION MUSIC. Musically nothing has changed and once again we can enjoy some wonderful neo-classical melodic metal. Opener “Dark before the dawn” is right away a sensational uptempo melodic neo-classical power metal song and actually the whole CD is a pleasure to listen to as a fan of ARTENSION, although nothing new is brought here, but then again why break a successful style created some 10 years ago by Vitalij Kuprij and co. Other highlights are “Federation”, “Future world” (not the HELLOWEEN or PRETTY MAIDS classics), “Stand up and fight” and “Close to the sun”. Concluded, a must-have for the fans, although nothing new is brought on the new ARTENSION, it still is a wonderful CD.

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

HOUSE OF SHAKIRA ‘LINT’ (LION MUSIC/BERTUS)

The Swedish band HOUSE OF SHAKIRA is one of the better melodic rockbands out there, and they have been releasing albums for over 10 years now, and the re-release of one of their earliest releases ‘Lint’ is definitely a welcome for people who are not familiar yet with this great band. A pity no bonustracks are included, but needless to say, this album should be in the collection of every melodic rockfan!

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

LOCHINVAR ‘FIRE EYES’ (BLADEWALKER RECORDS)

After a few years of silence, the US band LOCHINVAR returns with a new CD. The female fronted band is still playing classy 80s Melodic Hardrock in the style of VIXEN, GIRLSCHOOL, DOKKEN… 10 new songs are included, and with a big production this CD is definitely a quality release. Among the highlights are “Fire eyes”, “Beyond the stars” (fantastic semi-melodic rockballad a la LANA LANE), “Midnight Woman” and “Enchanted moon”. The songs are a bit darker than before, so no catchy in your face choruses, but more well-thought songs with heavy guitar riffs (like DOKKEN meets BLACK SABBATH), while the vocals are a bit raw (like LEE AARON meets WENDY O. WILLIAMS). If you’re starting to become interested, then go to: http://www.lochinvar.net  and e-mail them at: lochinvar@lochinvar.net 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

THE WILD ROSES ‘THE WILD ROSES’ (INDEPENDENT)

Out of the UK comes THE WILD ROSES, a band playing pure 80s straight-ahead Hardrock/Party/Sleazy Glamrock like a mix between CRUE, POISON and LA GUNS. 9 songs are on their CD, and they really do it well, capturing that late 80s LA Metalsound. Opener “Come tomorrow” for example is a dead ringer for fans of LA GUNS, while the guitar riff of “Shake and rattle my bones” is pure POISON’s “Talk dirty to me” and the best song “One hell of a night” is like the early classic MOTLEY CRUE. OK, maybe nothing original is brought here, but THE WILD ROSES do it quite well, playing like that typical late 80s LA Metalstyle. If you want to hear some glorious late 80s kinda Sleazy/Glam-Metal like in the past we could also hear from British bands like TATTOOED LOVE BOYS, HORSE LONDON, GLORIOUS BANKROBBERS… then do not hesitate to check out this THE WILD ROSES at: http://www.thewildroses.co.uk 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

WALTER TROUT ‘DEEP TROUT’ (PROVOGUE/BERTUS)

Legendary American guitarist/vocalist WALTER TROUT has released a compilation CD, which contains a ncie collection of some of the man’s early work. 15 songs are included and the recordings took place between 1972 and 1995. Walter is a passionate Bluesrock orientated guitarist, who can also sing quite well with a sort of STEVE WALSH kinda vibe. The songs are very melodic, with excellent guitarplay and although this is Blues, I would rather call it melodic bluesrock, which is hard to compare because Walter has a sort of own style, but songs like “The love that we once knew”, “Sweet as a flower”, “Fast moving traffic” and “Motivation of love” are great melodic bluesy rocksongs that sounds like a mix between JIMI HENDRIX, very early KANSAS and BB KING. Go check it out if you’re starting to become interested, because after all, I think WALTER TROUT is only well-known among the Blues/Guitarfreaks, but you might as well deserve a spot between Classic Rock/AOR fanatics!

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

LIESEGANG/WHITE
‘VISUAL SURVEILLANCE OF EXTREMITIES’
(ESCAPE MUSIC)

LIESEGANG/WHITE is a new collaboration between multi-instrumentalist BILL LIESEGANG and vocalist DOOGIE WHITE. With the help of a few session musicians, such as HARLAN CAGE keyboardplayer Roger Scott Craig and producer TOMMY HANSEN (HELLOWEEN/PRETTY MAIDS) the duo created a good 70s influenced Classic Hardrockalbum in typical British tradition (a la BLACK SABBATH and especially RAINBOW). Although the album is not as good as those legendary acts, I still think the 11 included songs on this CD are interesting to check if you’re a RAINBOW/DIO fan. The album also contains a few weaker songs, such as “Last temptation” and “New addiction”, but overall the CD offers good quality classic hardrock, with as highlights “A prayer for the dying”, “Worlds collide”, “Black winter” and “The ballad of Bible John”. Check it out if you’re a RAINBOW fan, although do not expect anything really sensational here, despite the fact that Bill is a great player and Doogie an excellent singer.

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

WHITE COWBELL OKLAHOMA ‘CENCERRO BLANCO’
(SLICK MONKEY/BERTUS)

This is the first full-length CD of the US band WHITE COWBELL, whom basically are playing a sort of 70s retro Hardrock’n’Roll style, but are actually a pure Southern Rockband with mostly straight-forward non-commercial rock’n’roll. The band sounds like a mix between LYNYRD SKYNYRD and AC/DC. I think it’s all about having a lot of fun, playing the good old classic hard rock guitar riffs and sing-a-long with WHITE COWBELL OKLAHOMA’s music. 12 songs are included in total, and I am quite sure fans of no-nonsense hardrock will be enjoying this CD a lot, because it’s after all a quality record, no matter it is a simple or complicated record. Especially recommended to fans of LYNYRD SKYNYRD, BLACKFOOT and that kind of Southern Hardrock’n’Roll. Best songs are “Shot a gamblin’ man”, “Cheerleader” and “Monster railroad”. More info at: http://www.whitecowbell.com 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

RAPTURE ‘SILENT STAGE’ (SPINEFARM/BERTUS)

‘Silent stage’ is the third CD of the Finnish band RAPTURE, who are playing a mix of Death, Doom and Gothic Metal. Some songs are slow Doom Metal tunes with Death growls, kinda like PARADISE LOST, but the band also has some great melodic songs to offer, such as “I am complete”, “For the ghosts of our time”, “The times we bled” and “Silent chrysalis stage”, which sound like a mix between HIM and CANDLEMASS. Let’s hope the band will continue making more of such songs on a future CD, because the Death Metal orientated songs are not really interesting. However, the whole CD is definitely an A+ release, so this is definitely a professionally release from once again Finland!

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

MIKE TERRANA ‘MAN OF THE WORLD’
(LION MUSIC/BERTUS)

American drummer MIKE TERRANA is a very busy man, performing on lots of records, including as a member of the German band RAGE. The CD is titled ‘Man of the world’ and is musically a good instrumental progressive rock release, with some relaxing Jazz/Fusion moments as well. It’s definitely a good quality CD and something completely different than the usual Metal stuff of MIKE TERRANA.

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

MILAN POLAK ‘DREAMSCAPES’ (LION MUSIC/BERTUS)

‘Dreamscapes’ is the 2nd CD of Austrian guitarist MILAN POLAK, who has been playing guitar for more than 20 years now and made a name within the scene. He even played with FALCO, just before this legend died 7 years ago. Anyway, his new solo CD contains some good clean guitar based instrumental melodic classic Hardrock/Metal, which can be compared to TONY MACALPINE. Especially the melodies of Milan’s guitar playing is fantastic and is even reminding me of NEAL SCHON. A very good release, and definitely a must-have for the guitarfreaks among us!

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

VARIOUS ARTISTS ‘BLACKMORE’S CASTLE VOLUME 2’ (LION MUSIC/BERTUS)

Part 2 of the tribute series to guitarist RITCHIE BLACKMORE. This time we can hear covers of DOMAIN (“Stormbringer”), MICHAEL HARRIS (“Lady of the lake”), DOGPOUND (“Mary long”), ORION RIDERS (“Burn”), DANIEL FLORES AND FRIENDS (“I Surrender” – one of the best covers), BALTIMOORE (“Kill the king”), ROLF MUNKES/GERALD KLOOS (“All night long”), MAN ON FIRE (“Maybe A Leo”), CHRIS CATENA (“Mistreated”), HOUSE OF SHAKIRA (“Starstruck”), TAKARA (“Can’t let you go”) and CHRIS HEAVEN (“Soldier of fortune”). Done very well these 12 covers and therefore recommended to the die-hard BLACKMORE/RAINBOW/DEEP PURPLE fans out there!

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

TSA ‘LIVE 1982 DVD’
(METAL MIND PRODUCTIONS/MUSIC VIDEO DISTRIBUTORS)

In the world there are so many Hardrock and Metalbands, and every country has at least one big band that has been around for 25+ years, releasing countless albums. In Poland that band is called TSA, the most famous Hardrock/Metalband ever to come out of that country. TSA released a lot of albums, and although I happen to own a couple of their LPs, this is the first time I am really having a good listen to their music or should I say watch them live on stage, because we are talking here about a fantastic DVD, which has been released. The DVD contains for over 210 (!) minutes of footage, which is of course already fantastic long before watching the long playing DVD. The TSA fans among us will absolutely love this DVD, because these are the kind of DVDs worth buying, because so much is included. Besides, the band also shows that they are a great melodic hardrock/metalband that sounds like a good Polish mix of MAIDEN, AC/DC and HEEP. There is so much included, it makes it almost impossible to mention everything, but included is a full live concert from 1982, bonus live video clips from the period 1983-1986, a 1981 concert performance, exclusive rare videoclips of 4 TSA songs, a lengthy documentary on TSA, interviews with all the bandmembers and last but not least, 14 bonus audio tracks of the band. Without a doubt, this is one of those DVDs where you say it’s all worth it, because everything is included what needs to be included to make up a high quality DVD. The music is of course also quite good, with such great Melodic Metal songs like “Marathon runner”, “Wpadka”, “Don’t worry friend” etc. and it really gives you a good inside look at one of the best Eastern European bands of all times, TSA! If only each DVD released could be as good as this TSA DVD… The DVD is available through: http://www.musicvideodistributors.com 

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)

ARMIA ‘TRIODANTE DVD’
(METAL MIND PRODUCTIONS/MUSIC VIDEO DISTRIBUTORS)

Formed 21 years ago, the Polish band ARMIA is a very unique band that has an own style, which is sometimes progressive, sometimes hard rock, sometimes pop, sometimes Gothic and everything in between, with also a lot of metal ish guitar riffs and even genres as Folk and Hardcore are passing through. This band is very diverse, and the DVD released on METAL MIND/MUSIC VIDEO DISTRIBUTORS. contains a performance of the band, as well as a few bonus videos. Of course the fans of the band will absolutely love this DVD, but ARMIA is probably getting a bit too complicated sometimes, but nevertheless it’s nice to watch a DVD of such a bizarre band. Concluded, the DVD is good, although it’s concentrated on this 1 concert of the band with a playing time of ‘just’ 110 minutes, but fans of the band will appreciate it a lot. Musically though, this band goes further than most other bands out there, and maybe that’s something that makes ARMIA very interesting to check out, although the diversity on the other hand might also put some people off. The DVD is available through: http://www.musicvideodistributors.com 

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

SBB ‘FOLLOW MY DREAM DVD’
(METAL MIND PRODUCTIONS/MUSIC VIDEO DISTRIBUTORS)

A legendary band in the Polish progressive rockscene, but not that well-known outside Poland. Nevertheless, SBB is a very interesting band to explore further, because they have been making records since 1971, so you can imagine that they have a dozen albums released (and probably reaching 20 records or so for that matter). Anyway, now there’s a fantastic DVD available of this band, so everyone who wants to check out this SBB should buy this DVD first of all, because this is one of those DVDs that contains all you need to know about SBB. The DVD has a playing time of a stunning 220 minutes, which beats any other DVD in playing length on 1 single DVD. What we get to see are rare performances of the band in Belgium, 1978 where they performed a sort of PINK FLOYD type of epic suite progressive rock anthem and also performances in Poland, from the 1970s and the 1990s. Further included stuff are interviews, documentaries and bonus videos. The music of SBB is pure Progressive Rock, and it seems the band is very popular in Poland, but like I already said outside not many people are aware of this great band, because SBB is really playing high quality progressive rock and should be seen as the Polish version of PINK FLOYD, IQ, PENDRAGON… If you want to start checking out this great band, then begin with this wonderful DVD, which will please you a full evening. The DVD is available through: http://www.musicvideodistributors.com 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

ROGER MIRET AND THE DISASTERS ‘1984’ (HELLCAT RECORDS/EPITAPH)

Vocalist/guitarist ROGER MIRET from the legendary Hardcore/Punkband AGNOSTIC FRONT has released a CD with his side-project THE DISASTERS. The New York based band is playing good old late 70s/early 80s poppy Street Punk’N’Roll, with in total 13 short songs included. The songs are catchy and easy to sing-a-long, and is definitely different than the Hardcore of AGNOSTIC FRONT. This is typical 1977 Punkrock with an edge, kinda like early CLASH, BUZZCOCKS, CHELSEA, DAMNED, etc. Songs like “1984”, “The boys” (with additional help from a member of DROPKICK MURPHY’S), “Hooligans”, “Street rock’n’roll” and “Janie Hawk” are great catchy uptempo melodic punkrockers that have very strong sing-a-long choruses. Check it out asap if you want to hear some pure Punk/Street Rock’N’Roll!

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

EMERGENCY ‘1234’ (STEP 1 MUSIC)

Do not confuse this EMERGENCY with the countless other same named bands, because this EMERGENCY is playing high quality classic early 80s Oi! Punkrock a la THE BUSINESS, SHAM 69… They do it very well and their songs can easily compete with the classics in this genre. 12 songs are included, and without a doubt, they all sound very strong with catchy singable choruses and also some good guitarwork. This is definitely quality stuff, with as highlights “Won’t tell you again”, “State of emergency”, “Army life” and “Teenage fallout”. The band is coming out of the UK, and they proof with this CD release Oi!/Punk Rock in late 70s/early 80s style is far from dead! Fans of SHAM 69, THE BUSINESS and BLITZ are gonna love this fantastic band for sure! More info at: http://www.step1music.com 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

DROPKICK MURPHY’S ‘SINGLES COLLECTION VOLUME 2 1998-2004’ (HELLCAT RECORDS/EPITAPH)

23 songs are on the 2nd compilation CD of DROPKICK MURPHY’S, one of the most popular Punk’n’Roll bands at the moment. The band combines Punk, Oi!, Hardcore, Metal and Bagpipes into an exciting own style and this CD contains another bunch of songs that were recorded in the years 1998-2004. Basically you’ll get a mix of DROPKICK MURPHY’S originals, covers and B-sides. The covers include songs by SHAM 69, AC/DC, MOTORHEAD, STIFF LITTLE FINGERS, COCK SPARRER and a few others, while their own songs are basically reflecting the influences of RAMONES, MOTORHEAD, THE BUSINESS, AC/DC and AGNOSTIC FRONT. If you want to find out what DROPKICK MURPHY’S is all about, then this compilation of their singles between 1998 and 2004 is a nice way to start. Definitely one of the most original and influential bands from the past 10 years, although they have been together for almost 18 years now, they are now at their peak of popularity!

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

LEGS DIAMOND ‘OUT ON BAIL’ (AOR HEAVEN)

‘Out on bail’ was one of many classic 80s AOR albums which were only available on LP or as expensive Japanese Import CD for the past 20 years, but now happily AOR HEAVEN has re-issued the album onto CD, and added 3 unreleased bonustracks to this legendary mini-LP. The LP was originally released 20 years ago, and was one of the comeback albums from the legendary band LEGS DIAMOND, a Hardrockband from the USA that was formed in 1974 and had already released a couple of AEROSMITH meets LED ZEPPELIN type of albums before ‘Out on bail’. The band also broke up a couple of times, but their 1985 album ‘Out on bail’ was a fantastic comeback. The album itself was a fantastic pure mid 1980s sounding AOR/Melodic Rock record, not very far away from WHITE SISTER actually. A few years before, one of the tracks, the superb AOR Classic “Nobody’s fool”, had been recorded by RAG DOLL for the legendary LA’s Hottest Unsigned Bands compilation LP. This band was actually the band formed out of the ashes of LEGS DIAMOND, but apparently LEGS DIAMOND reformed not long after and then recorded the ‘Out on bail’ album, which now finally gets its official worldwide re-issue onto CD. The CD contains the 8 original tracks, and 3 unreleased bonustracks. Songs like “Fugitive”, “Walkaway”, “Find it out the hard way”, “Nobody’s fool”, “One way ticket” and the lovely ‘new’ tune “One last kiss”. Without a doubt, these are timeless-AOR songs that proof how good mid 80s AOR sounded, which is basically unbeatable with all the new releases being done in the AOR scene. Concluded, a must-have for all the 80s AOR/Pomp/Melodic Rockfreaks out there!

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

UNCHAIN ‘UNCHAIN’ (METAL HEAVEN)

I am not sure why AOR HEAVEN released the debut CD of the Swiss band UNCHAIN, because it actually is a very standard Hardrockalbum that can nowhere near compete with SHAKRA or GOTTHARD. 9 songs are included, and although it’s not bad what we get to hear, I have heard better bands in this genre. The music is really average Hardrock, which gives me the idea that this band went into the studio much too soon, because they were formed only 2 years ago. Again, I’m not saying the band isn’t able to play well, because catchy uptempo melodic heavy rockers like “Sabrina”, “Secret garden” and “Dark city” proof they can make good music, and the members are able to play well, but I am afraid a record like this will go unnoticed, because it just isn’t as strong as the albums of their countrymen of GOTTHARD, SHAKRA or CRYSTAL BALL. Maybe in the future they will be able to release better albums, but for now this is just one of many new records released.

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

MIDNIGHT ‘SAKADA’ (BLACK LOTUS RECORDS/ROCK INC)

OK, here we go then, the first CD of MIDNIGHT, the original CRIMSON GLORY vocalist, who has been hiding from the music scene for almost 15 years. He appeared on a couple of albums the past few years, but releasing a full-length CD has been out of the question since 1991’s CRIMSON GLORY’s third album ‘Strange and beautiful. MIDNIGHT however is best known for his fantastic vocalwork on the first 2 CRIMSON GLORY albums, which should have been as big as QUEEENSRYCHE back in the 80s, but unfortunately were only very popular in Europe. Anyway, now MIDNIGHT makes a full return with a solo-CD, which contains music I can not compare to any other band, because it is very original. It has nothing to do with Metal, and for that matter, it has absolutely nothing in common with CRIMSON GLORY, which is a shame of course, because the fans have all been waiting for a record a la ‘Transcendence’ for like 17 years! Anyway, what do we have here then, well, it is definitely the most strange release I have reviewed in a long time, because it is so different than your standard rock-metal release. MIDNIGHT is playing a sort of mix of 60s Psychedelic Pop/Rock (read: JEFFERSON AIRPLANE), some slight LED ZEPPELIN, unplugged mid 70s OZZY period BLACK SABBATH and a lot of Ethnic/World Music. MIDNIGHT sings very weird sometimes, which even at times reminds me a lot of HAWKWIND. I think you’ll get the picture that we are dealing here with something out of the ordinary, which will disappoint the long-time CRIMSON GLORY and Metalfans, but on the other hand will attract people who like their music to sound very experimental. 9 songs are on the CD, of which the best tracks are “War”, “Pain” and “Lost boy”. The album will be released late April on the Metallabel BLACK LOTUS RECORDS, but be aware that this CD has nothing to do with Rock or Metal, and is actually an ode to late 1960s Psychedelic Pop/Rock (HAWKWIND meets JEFFERSON AIRPLANE), with a very experimental touch.

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

OVERLORD ‘PERPETUAL’ (SONIC AGE RECORDS/ROCK INC)

9 songs are on the debut CD of the talented 20-year old guitarist Overlord from Greece. He is playing Neo-Classical Metal with a lot of strong melodies, sounding like SPACE ODYSSEY, FIREWIND, ARTENSION, MALMSTEEN… The guitarplaying of Overlord is excellent, while the vocals of singer V. Axiotis are very impressive as well, clearly influenced by Metal Gods DIO, DICKINSON and HALFORD, but he reminds me a bit of the FIREWIND/FARO singer. Songs like “Majesty”, “The overlord” and “I’ll never cry again” (SUPERB CATCHY tune, like classy CRIMSON GLORY meets QUEENSRYCHE!) are very good classy neo-classical sounding melodic metal tunes, and for a debut CD, this sounds pretty good. There are also some instrumental tunes included, so Overlord can show his guitar talents (hello MALMSTEEN), but the vocal songs that are present are definitely a must to hear if you’re a fan of MAJESTIC, SPACE ODYSSEY, FIREWIND, ARTENSION and of course MALMSTEEN!

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

RYA ‘STARSHIP’ (FAME RECORDINGS/ROCK INC)

What have we here then? A very strange release, which has absolutely nothing to do with Rock or Metal, but a sort of ENYA meets SINEAD O’CONNOR meets TORI AMOS, with even some EVANESCENCE similarities, but then without any guitars! The music sounds very 80s actually to me, with a huge drumsound and synthesizers, but guitars are nowhere to be found! I am not saying it’s bad, but it doesn’t really belong here, so only interesting for the people who also appreciate good quality Pop music in the style of mentioned acts.

(Points: -)

GEMINI FIVE ‘BABYLON ROCKETS’
(WILD KINGDOM/SOUND POLLUTION)

Vocalist/guitarist/songwriter TIN STAR of the Swedish band GEMINI FIVE looks like VINCE NEIL, and also musically his band is not very away from the 80s LA Glamrockers. The big difference is that they have an updated sound, which combines the best of 80s Glam/Sleaze and some Punkrock into an exciting catchy heavy Rock’n’Roll sound. The band has released a fantastic CD titled ‘Babylon rockets’, which sounds like the best of CRUE, GUNS’N’ROSES and SKID ROW. The frontcover shows the 4 bandmembers in a comic, looking like the bad boys of rock’n’roll, but musically they are definitely not just a second rate KISS/CRUE band, because their CD ‘Babylon rockets’ totally rocks hard with great uptempo rockers like “Twenty four seven”, “You spin me around” (80s cover tune), “Get it off”, “Poison envy” and “Neon kicks”, but also a few wonderful midtempo melodic heavy rockers such as the SHAKRA soundalike “Hardcore” (best song of the whole CD) and “Chemicals between us”. Without a doubt, a must-have release for anyone into Rock’n’Roll! More info at: http://www.gemini5.net 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

REVIVER ‘REVIVER’ (REMEDY RECORDS/ROCK INC)

A couple of years ago we reviewed the first demo (which was pretty good) of this band from Holland. Now REVIVER released their first official CD. Their musical direction is still the same as on their demo which is US Power Metal with some Thrash influences, not unlike the 80s US bands FLOTSAM & JETSAM, TOXIK and DEATH ANGEL. Just listen to the songs “Another day” or “Cycles” and you can clearly hear the influences of those bands. But these are not the only influences, “Watch out” could have been taken from ‘Walls of Jericho’ of HELLOWEEN and “Gates of time” (was also on the demo) has similarities to CRIMSON GLORY. These are the positive points of the album. The negative ones are the weaker songs at the end like “Bringer of evil” and “Fight your fight”, but also the fact that their singer is decent but not really capable to do this sort of technical Metal. Still REVIVER gets a good rating for their debut album, especially because of the good guitar riffs.

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

NERVED ‘OFF LINE’ (MMS RECORDS/SONY MUSIC)

Released on a sublabel of the big SONY MUSIC, the album ‘Off line’ from the Swedish band NERVED. Although I am a huge fan of Swedish music, appreciating everything between ABBA, ALIEN, EUROPE, DREAM EVIL, HAMMERFALL, CANDLEMASS and any other Rock/Metal/Popband, and also because almost everything from Sweden sounds impressive, it's weird I had to struggle my way through this CD of NERVED, which isn’t bad at all, but just didn’t click. Maybe it’s because it needs a few more listens, because NERVED are definitely playing an interesting mix of traditional metal, Stoner Rock and doom metal, but it sounds so different than anything else somehow. It’s not melodic enough to stick in your head, but that isn’t a problem at all of course, because it’s the way a band is bring their music. 12 songs are included, and well, comparing to other bands is almost be impossible, although you can definitely smell a strong 70s vibe of BLACK SABBATH in here. I think this band will be very interesting to check out if you’re keen on bands like TROUBLE, KUYSS, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, etc. because that’s what NERVED is basically doing on their CD, which is recommended if you’re a fan of such bands. Check it out for yourself at: http://www.nerved.com 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

MANILLA ROAD ‘ROADKILL – LIVE + OUT OF THE ABYSS’
(CULT METAL CLASSICS/ROCK INC)

Another release of MANILLA ROAD, which contains 2 1980s albums of the legendary metalband, a live record titled ‘Roadkill’ and a studio album called ‘Out of the abyss’ (both released for the first time in 1988, but now re-issued onto CD by the Greek label CULT METAL CLASSICS). In the beginning they played progressive rock, but in the 1980s they developed themselves into a sort of PRIEST meets MANOWAR type of band, but then a few levels lower. The 2 CDs went by in a flash for me, without making any impression. This is by the numbers Metal played very average, so I am afraid this 2-CD set of MANILLA ROAD is only interesting for the die-hard fans.

(Points: 7.4 out of 10)

SECOND TAKE ‘BLUE SUNRISE’ (INDEPENDENT)

This American duo consists of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Wendy Keszler and guitarist/vocalist Steve Keszler. They recorded a CD, which contains 10 songs, and musically it is an original mix of classic 70s/80s melodic rock. There are also some prog elements in the songs, and both members can sing quite well, so it’s a pleasant CD to listen to, although it is an independent CD, so do not expect a full blown sound here. Songs like “Profound”, “Be free” and “How did you know” are nice melodic rockers. Perhaps interesting for fans of MOSTLY AUTUMN? No further info I am afraid…

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

BLIND CURVE ‘MY LIFE SINGLE’ (DEMO)

Just one new song from the US band BLIND CURVE, the semi ballad “My life”, which is a sneak preview of their upcoming full length CD, which will hopefully be a great melodic rock record similar to their debut from some time ago. Check out the band at: http://www.blindcurve.com 

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

SPIKE IVORY ‘VELVET CHAINS’ (INDEPENDENT)

Poprocker SPIKE IVORY has a full- length CD out titled ‘Velvet chains’. The album is basically featuring good clean 80s fun poprock in the style of a RICK SPRINGFIELD, JACK GREEN, DANNY WILDE and whoever released a poprock record in the 1980s, because that’s what SPIKE IVORY basically is doing, which is a good thing of course. 11 songs are on the CD, and with a fine production, this is a good record to check out. More info at: http://www.spikeivory.com 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

TESTAMENT ‘SEEN BETWEEN THE LINES DVD’ (ESCAPI MUSIC/ROCK INC)

For the die-hard TESTAMENT fans a must have, but actually this is not a real professional DVD. This DVD features mostly homemade videos, with backstage footage and some rare live footage, but the sound and footage is terrible sometimes. That’s a pity, because after all, TESTAMENT was one of the best Thrash Metalbands of all times, even better than METALLICA in my opinion, with as favorite records ‘The legacy’, ‘The new order’ and ‘Practice what you preach’. However, this DVD covers material from after 1990, namely video footage of 1991, with as only real highlights the 4 videoclips (which are very cool to watch). The rest of the DVD is only interesting for die-hard fans, who don’t mind amateuristic footage and bad sound quality.

(Points: 7.0 out of 10)

SHY ‘SHY ENGLAND DVDs’ (INDEPENDENT)

OK, so this isn’t official and made up of rare video footage from one of Britain’s best melodic rockbands ever, but where else can you get to see anything of this great band. 2 DVDs filled with rare homemade video footage, backstage and live performances of the band’s heydays (late 80s/early 90s) as well as 4 videoclips. The 4 videoclips are definitely the most interesting items on these 2 DVDs, because they are perfect and clearly reflect the combination of great music and short professional videoclipmaking movies, which was so dominant in the 1980s. The videos of especially “Hold on to your love” and “Break down the wall” are very fun to watch. These are the classic videos you need to own, and now 4 SHY videos are available on these 2 DVDs. Sadly, the video footage of the backstage and live performances of SHY is non-professional, and only interesting for the die-hard fans, but it shows that these guys had a lot of fun back then. The DVD contains footage that have poor lights, poor sounds and camera shaking, but still it is nice to finally see what SHY was doing back in the day, because after all, they wrote some of the best British AOR ever (songs like “Can’t fight the nights”, “When the love is over”, “Talk to me”, “It’s over”, etc. are all timeless AOR classics! So, cheaply made, but for a die hard SHY fan nice to own, especially the 4 videoclips. Check it out at: http://www.shy-england.4t.com 

(Points: - )

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem) 

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