Reviews

White Wolf-"Victim Of The Spotlight"-2007

The Wolf is loose!! Canada`s legendary White Wolf return after a 20 year [!] absence with their third album, "Victim Of The Spotlight". So, was it worth the wait? You bet!! The new disc picks up where 1986` "Endangered Species" left off; it`s like the previous 20 years never happened! In addition to the new album, the band have also re-released their previous 2 outings, their awesome 1984 debut "Standing Alone" and 'Endangered Species". Now first-time listeners can marvel at the consistency of the albums. Sylish, classy Heavy Rock performed by musicians who can actually PLAY their instruments, and not a DJ in site. The title track starts things off nicely; within the first 20 seconds you KNOW it`s White Wolf, and it only gets better. Next up is "The Wolf ", which, like the rest of the CD, has a mid-eighties feel. Some may harp on White Wolf`s sound being "stuck in the past"; but what`s wrong with that? That`s the era they came from, so why shouldn`t they sound that way? Would it be better for them to adopt a more "Modern" sound? Anyone who`s ever listened to Dokken`s "Shadowlife" or Hellion`s "Will Not Go Quietly" knows better! On all twelve cuts here, the vocal performance of Don Wolf is all heart and soul, and he sings every word like he means it! The twin guitars of Cam MacLeod and Martin Kronlund are refreshingly un-modern; no downtuned, high-gain buzz fest. Just crunch, punch and clarity. Drummer Imre Daun and Bassist/Keyboardist Rikard Quist offer rhythmic support and help give the tunes that extra kick, while the keyboards provide a lush feel that doesn`t overwhelm the music. The production overall compliments the music quite nicely without going over the top; a little goes a long way, and the arrangements aren`t cluttered or too "busy". It all just flows, like ANY good music should! The powerful closing track, "Out Of Control" encapsulates everything that great about this band, and is a perfect way to end a near-perfect album. That is, `til you hit "Play" again, something you`ll be doing a LOT with "Victim Of The Spotlight", believe me! This CD is proof that White Wolf are anything BUT a nostalgia act, but don`t take MY word for it; but it and see for yourself! In fact, buy ALL their albums. That way I won`t have to wait ANOTHER 20 years for their next release! Welcome back, guys!

White Wolf

Steve Brockmann-"Expected Errors"-2007

Guitarist Steve Brockmann hails from Northern Germany, and is very active in the music scene there. His latest studio offering is "Expected Errors", an 11-track totally instrumental affair. But if you think this is gonna be a bunch of endless noodling over canned tracks, THINK AGAIN! As a musician and songwriter, Steve is a model of restraint, cutting loose when needed, holding back when necessary. Sure, he can burn up the fretboard like there`s no tomorrow, but Steve`s a song guy, crafting instrumentals that are memorable and don`t require a degree in music theory to enjoy. Not an easy task, but Steve is MORE than up to the challenge, believe me! It should be noted that Steve not only wrote ALL the songs, he played all the instruments, mixed the album AND did all the artwork, as well! [wonder if he does windows, too?] Unlike other one-man bands, however, the level of quality control is VERY high and there`s no self-indulgent wankery to be found here. Doubtless a lot of time and care went into the arrangements, and it shows in every single track. It`s obvious that one of Steve`s primary influences is Brian May, as can be heard in the soaring guitar harmonies. Shades of Pink Floyd also abound; in fact, Steve`s tone and delivery remind me at times of David Gilmour`s playing on "Animals", though there`s also high-tech Metal shredding to satisfy Shred-Heads everywhere. This guy is HARDLY a "jack of all trades, master of none"! While it`s not a technique freak`s wet dream, "Expected Errors" IS an entertaining, enjoyable and accessable album that can be appreciated by ALL music fans, which is no mean feat for an instrumental release. But in the hands of artists like Steve Brockmann, it`s all in a days work. So please visit Steve`s website and pick up his releases; we DEFINITELY need more musicians like him, and your continued support will make certain that we do! [Great job, Steve!]

Steve Brockmann

Peace And Quiet-"S/T"-2005

"Old enough to know better but too young to quit!" Words to live by, and Utah`s Peace And Quiet have certainly taken this statement as their own personal motto. Hell, the band was formed in 1965; that`s as long as I`ve been ALIVE, for cryin` out loud! So trust me when I say they could teach MANY a young band a thing or two. Not surprisingly, the style that Peace And Quiet display on this self titled release is late `70s` AOR Rock; you could tell me this was recorded in 1980 and I wouldn`t call you a liar! And they do it VERY well. With the impressive credentials in the band, it`s a safe bet they KNOW what they`re doing. Given the slop that passes for Rock radio these days, it`s a pleasure to hear musicians who know how to write and perform great AOR songs WITHOUT all the obnoxious studio trickery running rampant in much of todays "mainstream" Rock. First track is "Keep On Pushin`", which brings to mind Head East and is a perfect way to start off. Other highlights include "That`s A Lie", "Leave That World", and my personal favorites "Survival" and "Paradise". There`s not a duff track or a bum note to be found, a testament to the skills of the musicians and songwriters. Now hopefully Peace And Quiet will "Keep On Pushin`", converting music fans young, old and otherwise while demonstrating that class and quality beats the latest fad ANY day! Definitely a "must-have"! [Many thanks to guitarist Carl Fritch for the CD!]

Peace And Quiet

Concept Of Time-"Suffer In Silence"-2007

When I hear the term "Progressive Metal", I usually think of massive, orchestra affairs with TONS of solos. Well, that IS often the case, though there are many bands who do this style well. Such a band is Scotland`s Concept Of Time. Although there are many recognizable elements of Prog Metal in the bands` sound, this 4-piece has little in common with the likes of Thy Majestie or Elvenking. [great bands in their own right]. No, Concept Of Time are more straigh ahead Power Metal with symphonic overtones. Keyboards [courtesy of Scott McLean] tend to dominate here, though not to the point of being annoying. In fact, unlike most bands mining the same territory, the keys provide wonderful atmospherics and haunting melodies, which sometimes remind me of Tony Banks circa the "Trick Of The Tail/...And Then There Were Three"-era Genesis, or perhaps the Dio-era Rainbow [w/ Tony Carey]. Hardly a One-Man band, guitarist/vocalist Tom Perret, bassist Alan Kennedy and Chris Gallagher pool their considerable talents to help weave the musical taperstry presented on this demo. And it IS a demo, so any complaints about the less-than-pristine sound need to take this into consideration. And these guys are talented enough to outshine any production defects, as heard on any of the 4 tracks here; "I Walk Away", "Desolate Wastelands", "No More Light" and the title track are full of memorable licks, catchy melodies and clever arrangements are a staple through out. All told, a highly impressive effort from an equally impressive band. Now surely some clever label will doubtless snap these guys up ASAP, or at least they BETTER! Get this band in a pro studio with a generous budget and who knows HOW far they`ll go? Can`t WAIT to find out!

Concept Of Time

Caroline Blue-"Not For The Innocent"-2007

"Not For The Innocent" is the latest release for Syracuse Hard Rockers Caroline Blue, and it`s certainly their best yet! This album finds the band at the crossroads of their career; while the Kiss elements of past releases still abound [particularly in the vocals], "NFTI" shows CB finding their own identity. It`s also their most focused release to date. Lyrically, the band have kept things more street level, though the subject matter seems to derive a bit more from personal experience, which usually makes for some good material. This time out, guitarist/vocalist Wayne W. Johnson also assumes bass duties, and is joined on the album by drummer "Monster" Mike Merrifield. The disc took quite a while to complete, and was recorded, mixed and mastered by Scott Patnode at Strangeland Audio studios in Phoenix, NY, which is only 10 minutes from yours truly! Track One is "Our Love Is Wasted", a fist-pumping anthem that kicks of the proceedings nicely; it`s the type of song that CB does well, and holds the listener`s attention throughout. Next up is "Love Me Or Leave Me" and sees the band adding a more "Modern" touch to their trademark style, though in subtle shades. "Deny" sounds at times downright funky, further proof of the bands` willingness to expand musically but still remain within their established structure. Other highlights include the ballad "Stay" and "Pain", which is one of the best cuts on the album. Also worth mentioning are "Out Of My Life [I Want You]" and the flashy "I`ve Seen The light Tonight", which features yet another memorable riff from Mr. Johnson. All told, another solid effort from a band that obviously has no intention of confining themselves TOO much to established patterns. "Not For The Innocent" shows that Caroline Blue are able to stretch out [but not sell out!] in order to ensure both their own musical growth, as well as keeping their fans happy. A tightrope walk to be sure, but it`s not work if you truly love what you do, something clearly on display here. Highly recommended!!!!!

Caroline Blue
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