Magnum-"The Visitation"-2011

Since their reformation in 2000, Magnum have gone from strength to strength, each album just a little better than the last. The previous outings in particular, "In The Valley Of The Moonking" and "Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow", are among their finest works, and "The Visitation" completes a sort of Holy Trinity; I hesitate to say one of these three discs is better than the other, as I view each as simply a different shade of the same color. Sounds like silly hippy s**t, but it`ll do! Anyway, with their latest, the boys seems to have borrowed from their distant Proggy past. The dramatic opening track, "Black Skies", is full of dynamics and clever turns and of course another fine performance by vocalist Bob Catley, which have never sounded better here and on the rest of the CD. The same could be said of the guitar work, courtesy of band mastermind Tony Clarkin; the guitars are right up in the mix and probably more in-your-face than they`ve been in recent times, which is certainly not a bad thing. "Doors To Nowhere" has something of a wistful, looking back on one`s past feel that Magnum are so great at, while the title track features more clever arrangements; no one writes `em like Mr. Clarkin, and few bands execute them as well the Magnum. Other soon-to-be-Magnum-classics include "Wild Angels", my two personal favorites "Spin Like a Wheel" and "Freedom Day", as well as the two closing tracks, "Midnight Kings" and "Tonight`s The Night", which finish this little visitation in fine fashion. The rest of the band [bassist Al Barrow, Keyboardist Mark Stanway and drummer Harry James] turn in equally brilliant performances on what is yet another high water mark for a band who quite obviously have a lot to offer. The "aging like a fine wine" cliche has been applied to this band many times, but it DOES fit. While many of their peers, as well as younger bands, end up staying in a holding pattern [and seem content to do so], Magnum clearly relish the opportunity to refine their sound just enough to keep it fresh and exciting, and we couldn`t be happier! One of the years BEST!


Coldspell-"Out From The Cold"-2011

After being totally blown away by 2009`s "Infinite Stargaze", I was on pins and needles waiting for Coldspell to deliver the follow up to this brilliant slab of melodic Heavy Rock. Now they give us CD #2, "Out From The Cold", and was it EVER worth the wait! Coldspell basically picks up where they left off on the last album, giving us 12 tracks of powerhouse Melodic Rock that stands head and shoulders above much of the pack. All the essential elements that made the first albums such a joy are present here; Niklas Swedentorp’s vocals are as engaging as always, delivering the lyrics with passion and sincerity, while the to-die-for guitar sound of Michael Larsson, the tasteful keyboard work of Matti Eklund, as well as the new monster rhythm section of Drummer Perra Johanson and Anders “Kebbe” Lindmark on Bass help bring each track brilliantly to life. Choice cuts? Editors picks? Personal favorites? Where to start!? Well, twist my arm [or offer me more money!] and I can point to the first single, "Heros", as well as "Run For Your Life", "Time", The King", "Heading For Tomorrow" and of course the title cut. Damn near flawless and no filler material in sight! I could go on and on [but you knew that already, didn`t you] about this album but then if I did, you would be sitting there reading all my babblings when you could be going to your favorite online shop and scoring this album. So stop reading and start buying!! Highest recommendation possible!



"Dominion" is album Number 3 for Benedictum, their first on the Frontiers label, and their first to feature Bassist Chris Shrum, Keyboard player Tony Diaz and Drummer Mikey Pannone. Back for the attack are founding members Pete Wells [Guitar] and Veronica Freeman on vocals. The new CD finds the 5-piece going even darker and heavier than their previous releases, yet still retaining the stylistic traits that make this band such a standout in the over-crowded Power Metal arena. One noticible change is The V`s vocals; there are points on the album where, quite frankly, they scare the hell outta ya! Veronica will never be confused with all the squealy opera singers who`s style tends to water down alot of Metal these days, though she can doubtless compete with them if need be. Freeman`s vocal delivery is savage and venomous, as heard on the title cut as well as "Bang" [this one`s gonna be a concert favorite, definitely!], "Dark Heart", "The Shadowlands" and "Beautiful Pain". The bonus tracks are "Sanctuary", which shows a different side of the band and a very sweet cover of the Rush classic "Overture/Temple Of The Syrinx", Benedictum style! Having had the pleasure of seeing the band live twice, I can safely say that Benedictum has managed to inject their live fire into their studio work, but with musicians of this calibre, that should come as no surprise. All told, "Dominion" should bring the band the acclaim they have worked so very hard for the last few years, and is sure to rank among the top Metal releases of 2011. Horns waaaaayyyy up!! \m/


Motorhead-"The World Is Yours"-2010

A new Motörhead is always a cause for celebration; really, you KNOW it`s gonna be good, as Lemmy & crew have never let their fans in the nearly 36 years they`ve been tearing up highways, concert stages and eardrums the world over. Not just consistent, but consistently great! And "The World Is Yours" is no exception. Where their previous effort, "Motorizer", leaned at times into the Power Metal end of the spectrum, the new CD is more back to the heavy Blues Rock, delivered in a style that is so often immitated but never even close to being duplicated. Lemmy`s acid wit is all over this album, from the opener "Born To Lose" to "Outlaw", "Brotherhood Of Man", "Rock ‘N’ Roll Music", and the sheer brilliance of "Bye Bye Bitch Bye Bye". Short but oh so sweet, the boys titled their new disc well; the world IS theirs, and always has been. Get the Digipack version if you can, as it has a bonus DVD featuring the band performing six tunes from their set at the 2006 Wacken fest. And remember: "The World Is Yours"!!!


Ghost Machinery-"Out For Blood"-2010

Finland's Ghost Machinery are "Out For Blood" with their sophmore release. Well actually, that`s the title of their second album and I suppose their attitude overall! But anyway, guitarist/mainman Pete Ahonen has expanded the lineup to include Guitarist Mikko Myllylä and vocalist Tapio "Taage" Laiho. Straight up Euro Power Metal is the name of the game here, and Ahonen & crew score highest marks for crafting top quality material that easily distinguishes itself from the often overcrowded genre. All the best Power Metal elements are present and accounted for; riffs are crisp, clear and crunchy, keyboards soar and drums pound like hell, choruses are huge and hooks are memorable. The nearly six years [!] between albums has allowed Ghost Machinery to hone their skills to razor sharpness; cuts like the title track, "Face Of Evil", "Guilty", and "Lost In Time" are ample proof of this. Plus, there`s even a cool cover of Blackfoot`s "Send Me An Angel". What`s not to love? "Out For Blood' definitely deserves a prominent place in ANY self-respecting Power Metalheads` collection, and is certain to expand Ghost Machinery`s ever widening fan base. Great stuff!!!

Ghost Machinery
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