HOT NEW AOR REVIEWS
|JADED HEART 'Jaded heart 4'
WOW!!First we had the
amazing "Forbidden Colour's" by Harlan Cage,
then we had the awesome "Slaves Of The New
World" by Steelhouse Lane and now we end 1999 and
the 20th century on a wonderfull note of hard rock
tenderness and hard rock supremeness. MTM should be very
proud of this album, and i just hope they push,and push
this album well into the year 2000 and make Jaded Heart a
household name, they simply have to man or i give up!!!
Rating: 9,5/1\0 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|BALANCE OF POWER 'Ten more tales of
Finally the long awated follow up to last years "Book Of Secrets" opus. As soon as track one stirs it's spiky Dokken esq riffs, you know that Balance Of Power have come of age and merged into one of the worlds finest power metal acts."Day Breaker" is a catchy blend of Dokken and Dream Theater meatlisms that shocks the system,with it's mid section angry little riffage from Pete Southern and Bill Yates,whose style of apreggio busting lies somewhere between Tony MaCalpine and Yngwie Malmsteen.
I like the way the pair
swap their intense guitar duels,next up is "Prisoner
Of Pride", Lance King sings very well and very high,
kinda of up there in the sky like Geoff Tate, this track
again features some pretty spectacular axe work that is
very much in the Yngwie vein.
"About To Burn" slightly looses your attention and is nothing spectacular and on "Under Innocence Wing" the neo-classical complexities slide into full view, this is short guitar interlude that belts a ring of guitar fire into the song "Sins Of The World" which is possably the best song of the cd thanks to it's streamlined commercial melodies.
"The Darker Side" starts off with a blast of spooky atmospeheric effects,then the classical piano turns the track into a simple and uplifting ballad. Listen very carefully to Lances haunting vocals skills on this track, here Lance reminds me of Gary Cherone (Extreme/Van Halen), mainly due to the vocal similarities of the Extreme song "Who Cares", this song is very exquisite and peacefull. The final outburst of power,ends with the song "Ten More Tales Of Grand Illusion" which perfectly enforces memorable melodies of classy power metal.
The result is a
fascinating crystallization of epic power metal that
offers a vast array of musical vairety, without a doubt
Balance Of Power are one of the best British bands
Rating: 9/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|BONFIRE Fuel to the flames'
BONFIRE strikes back with a very good Melodic (hard) Rock album that can easily be compared to their earlier recording 'Fireworks' which is still being hailed as their best album so far. 'Fuel to the flames' contains 14 songs that will please anyone that likes catchy melodic rock in the best 80s style of DOKKEN, WHITE LION and BON JOVI.
My favourite tracks are "Daytona nights" (uptempo melodic rocker like their 'Fireworks' album), "Don't go changing me" (uptempo melodic rocker), "Proud of my country" (strong midtempo melodic rocker), "Goodnight Amanda" (lovely melodic rockballad), "Break down the walls" (midtempo melodic rocker), "Heat in the glow" (uptempo melodic rocker with a superb catchy AOR chorus), "Live after love" (midtempo melodic rocker like old BONFIRE) and "If it wasn't for you" (semi AOR ballad).
Actually there isn't a weak song on the album. If you like the old BONFIRE you will totally love this new record of these German rockers. BONFIRE has released a very good melodic rockalbum and without any doubts they belong to the better melodic rockbands from Germany.
|VIRGIN STEELE 'The House Of Atreus
Up until now i haven't been familiar with Virgin Steele's music, but on the strength of this album, i think it may be worth my while checking out their back catalouge,as their music is simply the business."House Of Atreus" is basically a concept album which opens up with the powerful Iron Maidenish "Kingdom Of Fearless". The next track "Through The Ring Of Fire" has a classic metal groove a'la Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Megadeth and is a very heavy number.
The next track in opens up with a short interlude of church organs,before slowly merging into the song "Melody In A Minor (The Voyage Home)",this song basically surronds iteself around a mystical theme. "Flame Of The Blackstar" has some brilliant guitar riffs that remind me of early Metallica and Loudnesswith some effective drum pounding added into the songs mix.This is a brilliant song full of power and energy.
"Narcissus" is an instrumental piece that bares resemblences to Marty Friedman's solo venture's,the theme is of a very exotic and deeply moving nature that is very spontaneuos, this leads into "A Song Of Prophecies", this has been perfectly pieced together,the song then merges into the sound effectse of rain and thunder,and features a beautiful jaw dropping breathtaking piano piece built around a ice guitar ditty, then the piano playing takes off into full swing, this piece reminds me of Jonathan Caine's "Of A Lifetime" album, what a gorgeous and inspirational piece of music, i love this song to death totally awesome.
This again bleeds into another song called "Child Of Desolation", if you listen close enough with a willfull ear, you will hear that David Defeis singing lies somewhere inbetween Geoff Tate, Steve Peery and James LaBrie, the piano mastery is continued to lush proportions on "Day Of Wrath".
The next tune speeds up a frenzy of guitar shredding,but it's the meaty and very loud and bombastic "The Fire Of God" that honours Virgin Steele with the crown of heavy metal glory. "Garden Of Lamenentation" leads off with accoustic guitar fumblings and is another gentle song that eventually bursts into the heavy "Agony And Shame", a song that features some meancing drum attacks.
"The Gate Of The Kings" finishes the album off in grandiose style, adding more majestic and exotic themes that make me eager and excited to hear part two of this great conceptual release. This is a great album full of intresting music which shows all the other mediocre acts in the world how this type of music is really done. Buy.
Rating: 8,5/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|VARIOUS ARTISTS 'VOL. IV The rock is
MTM IV,is more music from the labels artsists. Steelhouse Lane open the cd with a huge perviously unreleased song called "If Love Should Go",this song rocks in the style of Alias, The Storm and Hugo, big time AOR magnifico man!!! Danger Danger also provide us with a sample from their fourth coming album "The Return Of The Great Gildersleeves". "I Do" is their new song which sounds like a heavier Amaze Me, good stuff though and one of the best tracks here.
Jaded Heart are next with "Live And Let Die" and this song is their best to date, really catchy, could be big? Other highlights are Harlan Cage's irresistable "Can't Tame The Raven", this song is beautiful, just sit back and enjoy the violins through out this spooky song, "Gypsy" from the underrated Beggars And Thieves is also very good, then we get the awesome Metropolis.
Also cool is swedish aor progsters A.C.T. who come up trumps with the Dream Theaterish "Abandoned World".. Dissapointing though is the new Brett Walker track "Rain In My Heart" which sees him verging off into country aor territory, but Brian McDonald more than makes up for that with the song "Wind It Up" which features Winger/Dokken axe man Reb Beach. The song atually has a very up-tempo catchy feel reminding me of Winger's "Down In Cognitio" and "Easy Come Easy Go". Overall Volume IV showcases what great talent MTM has on their label, a very worthwhile purchase.
Rating: 8/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|VARIOUS ARTISTS 'MTM Ballads volume
This is indeed the second installment in the MTM ballads saga, the majority of the tracks featured on this superb compilation have previously appeared on the artsist albums,but what's intresting about this little collection is the inclusion of two brand new tracks from Jaded Heart and Danger Danger and a previously unreleased track from Dare.
The new Jaded Heart track is lifted from the bands fourth coming and much raved about "IV" album, the track "Way Back Home" is a smouldering power ballad which borrows elements of both Bon Jovi and Whitesnake thanks mainly to it's delicate guitar work and high pitched passion filled vocals.
The track "She's Gone" premier's what is to come from the new Danger Danger album and sees Paul Laine singing in fine form,the song is tastefully arranged and you can hear that the whole band sound tighter than ever, i can't wait for the albums release. Unfortunately the Dare track is the only let down on this sixteen track cd, other highlights are the spine tingling piano led ballad "The Power Of The Night" by Stan Meissners Metropolis who have just released the finest AOR album of 1999.
Also well cool is Harlan Cage's "Making My Way Back To You", and the classy "All I Believe In" from Steelhouse Lane. Most suprisingly is the inclusion of Von Groove's "The Damage Is Done", a song that works very well on this cd, but on their last album "Test Of Faith" it came across dull and lacklustre, which is kinda wierd, but it really works well here. Another key song is "Arms Of Love" from the very underrated David Carl Band (whom i hope record a second album). All in all this cd is a winner,and if this doesn't seduce the knickers off your girlfriends then i don't know what will.
Rating: 8,5/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|X-SPELLED 'Rockin' 2000'
(MEGA TRUTH RECORDS)
The CD-title makes clear that this band wants to rock into the new millennium with their music, but I must really inform you that the overall sound of their album is not really good. Maybe it's because of their musicstyle, which is mid-70s raw rock like JEFFERSON STARSHIP and early HEART. In case, you didn't noticed, X-SPELLED features female lead vocals.
The rock of the band is a bit laid-back and does feature some influences of other musicstyles. The comparison to HEART is easy, but the lead vocals are more like Janis Joplin and Grace Slick of the 60' and 70's than anything I've heard in a long time if you like that sort of sound.. I don't really know what to say about this release and I think it's better if you judge for yourself at the band's website at: http://www.mp3.com/xspelled.htm
|PUSH COMES II SHOVE 'Push comes II
This American band is playing pure 80s melodic metal like RIOT, RAVEN and JAG PANZER. The band has a very rough sound and some high-pitched lead vocals that would not be out of place in a QUEENSRYCHE typed Progressive Melodic Rockband. This CD really is heavy and I should warn the fans of the polished melodic rock that this band is very heavy.
Still songs like
"Reckless temptation" and "45in' me"
are quite melodic and sound like a heavier DOKKEN. These
songs are also the best ones on the album of PUSH COMES
II SHOVE. But most of the time this band is playing the
melodic metal of the
|JOSEPH WILLIAMS 'I am alive'
(KITTY ENTERPRISES JAPAN IMPORT)
Former TOTO vocalist released a couple of solo-albums in the past, but most of these albums contained pop oriented material. A pity because Joseph Williams has a very good voice which we could hear on the TOTO record 'The seventh one'. Anyway, just like Bobby Kimball, Joseph Williams has released a new solo-CD. And to my surprise there are some good AOR oriented songs on the new album.
The first two tracks are pretty good, although they sound laid-back. "Perfectly clear" opens and is a nice calmer AOR song like MARK SPIRO, TOTO and DAKOTA. Next track "Heroes" is a great 80s typed semi AOR ballad that reminds me a lot of DAKOTA, PROMOTION and CHICAGO (circa their AOR classic '19'). Following track "Cool night" is a nice westcoast AOR ballad like DAVID ROBERTS with some harmonyvocals like LRB.
Then the album gets a little poppier in songs such as "I am alive" (MR. MISTER style), "Babylon" (KENNY LOGGINS style) and "Unarm your heart". Happily, the end of the CD is pretty nice with enjoyable songs like "Out of harms way" (good pure semi AOR ballad like MARK FREE) and "I believe in you" (uptempo lighter AOR). The CD has it's up and downs, just like the new BOBBY KIMBALL album. Worthy release for fans of TOTO, CHICAGO, BOBBY KIMBALL and PROMOTION.
|DREW BARRETT 'The stolling
New York based singer/songwriter Drew Barrett has been involved in writing and performing music for over ten years. Drew used to front the hard rock band "Barakade" and this is his debut solo album. The album offers lots of catchy songs,but sometimes your attentioned does wonder off into the wilderness, some of the material reminds me of a polished version of rock band "Vision 180".
Songs like "Worked Myself To Death" have a great way of seducing the listener with it's rock n' roll flavoured charms, "Lover" is an accoustic ballad featuring Corinne Barrett, Barrett's voice often lies somewhere inbetween Bret Michaels, Geoff Tate and Bobby Loux (180), this song is very tatsefully arranged, "Soldier Song" is a hard rocker with some nice bass arrangements which bares a seventies edge a'la early Aerosmtih.
Another highlight on the strolling minsrel is "Judical Breakdown" which is beautfiully structured and features a really nice melody. "Billy-Bob" concludes the album, this song is a bit more left-field compared to the rest of the material. As long as Drew keeps writing honest songs like these then i feel he'll have a strong future ahead of him, sometimes the finer things in life a worth waiting for.
Rating: 7/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|SCOTT SUDBURY 'Static on my radio'
Out of Memphis, Tennessee, US comes SCOTT SUDBURY, a 28-year old musician who plays bass, guitars, keyboards and sings on his debut CD. 'Static on my radio' contains 10 songs and musically it falls in the category 80s typed melodic poprock that recalls memories of the good old days of BRYAN ADAMS and RICK SPRINGFIELD.
Opener and titletrack "Static on my radio" is a catchy uptempo melodic poprocker in the best early 80s tradition of BRYAN ADAMS. In fact, the song is very similar to the BRYAN ADAMS song "Kids wanna rock", so now you know how SCOTT SUDBURY sounds like. Next track "The letting go" is nice midtempo poprocker/aor that reminds me a little of MICHAEL MORALES, yet without the big harmonyvocals.
After the nice semi ballad "Long way home" we get to hear the two best songs of this CD. First there is "Here I go", a short and simple catchy uptempo melodic poprocker like early BRYAN ADAMS meets RICK SPRINGFIELD (circa 'Working class dog'). My favourite track on the whole CD is up next, namely "Tonight". This song is pure early 80s classic melodic poprock that could have been on the RICK SPRINGFIELD albums 'Working class dog' or 'Success hasn't spoiled ' A song like "Tonight" is an example of how the 80s rock sounded. I really like this catchy little tune.
After "Tonight" the CD gets a bit weaker with some cool-down tracks such as "Me and the memory of you" (poppish epic ballad), "Good thing" (slow bluesy pop/rock affair) and "You and me" (acoustic blend of popballad). On the other hand we can hear some more good old 80s melodic poprock in the songs "Around" and "The last American dreamer" that both are akin towards the old BRYAN ADAMS sound.
If you like good old 80s straight-ahead melodic poprock in the style of BRYAN ADAMS, RICK SPRINGFIELD, TIM KARR , then you will like this SCOTT SUDBURY too. More info on his website at: http://www.scottsudbury.com
|CASANOVA 'Heroes' (JAPAN
This is really good. CASANOVA is a German melodic rockband that already released two CDs in the early 90s and has now released a new CD in Japan. The price of the new album is high, but well worth investing your money, because this CD contains some of the best German melodic rock at the moment. Although the comparisons to JADED HEART and BONFIRE are hard to deny, CASANOVA has a more AOR sound like FAIR WARNING.
There are 13 songs on 'Heroes' and actually I could not find many weak songs. My favourite tracks are "Heroes" (uptempo AOR/Melodic rocker like 80s BON JOVI), "Star" (midtempo AOR), "Heaven knows" (terrific AOR song with lovely harmonyvocals and a catchy classic AOR chorus), "Carmen" (semi melodic AOR rockballad like FAIR WARNING), "If you wanna be loved" (semi AOR ballad like FAIR WARNING) and "How can I live without you" (cheerful uptempo melodic poprocker like NELSON meets FAIR WARNING).
The BONFIRE/DOKKEN references can be heard in a song like "Examing", but in general I can easily recommend this new CASANOVA album to anyone that likes pure AOR/Melodic Rock. An easy target if you are in for a mixture between FAIR WARNING and JADED HEART.
|FIREHOUSE 'Category 5' (CMC)
I am glad to see that FIREHOUSE has never changed their catchy arena rocksound, because also the new CD is filled with excellent American Melodic (Hard) Rock and has absolutely no 90s influences.
The old melodic rockstyle of FIREHOUSE is continued on songs like "Can't stop the pain", "Acid rain", "Bringing me down", "Dream" (JADED HEART styled melodic rockballad, beautiful), "The nights were young" and "Arrow through my heart".
Really great melodic rock and to anyone that likes bands such as JADED HEART, old BON JOVI, DANGER DANGER and of course the 3 earlier releases of FIREHOUSE I can only say that this album is a must to have. Hopefully an interview with FIREHOUSE pretty soon.
|MAURO '1C2' (INDEPENDENT)
Welcome to the majestic and inspirational musical world of Mauro Oliveira from California USA.. Mauro is one of those rare artists who's life is based around the exploration of musical themes and thoughtfull rock songs and melodies, this is his debut album,and it is a mixture of spiritual music based around ancient stories, the music if often very cinematic and very powerful, with mixtures of Latin and African themes baring throughout the album.
The nearest comaprisments i can make for this record are the Blackmore's Night album,Marty Friedman's solo albums and the band The Dead Can Dance. The album is very tastefully put together and is as i mentioned a collection of delicate rock songs which Maro sprinkles over with great music full of atmosphere and great vocals from the female background singers.
Songs like "Amerika","On Our Way Home","City Of Angels", "Knights", "Morning Song" and the awesome "About Love" are magical slabs of soaring cinematic themes which are structured around great rock music.
Mauro is an extrodanary and gifted musician and this album is very nice and uplifting, check him out if you can at http://www.solcommunications.com/mauro.html or email: email@example.com And tell him Strutterzine sent ya!!!!
Rating: 8/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|SPIDER ROCKETS '4 Track CD demo'
Female fronted New
Jersey rockers "Spider Rockets" are a thumping
good rock band,The band have played with such established
artists as Lynch Mob, Firehouse and L.A.Guns and their
music flows directly in to the same path as the
"Time's Up" is my favorite song on the cd, the song opens up with a fat guitar intro before the song grinds it's way into a great chorus, this is a great song that reminds me of the late eighties era in a big way, Faster Pussycat,Vain, Skid Row, Dangerous Toys etc come to mind.
And the last song "The Predator" features some nice stomping meaty melodies.Overall this is great demo filled with high energy no holds barred sleazy hard rock with gigantic sized metal riffs.God i miss the old days!!! For more info check out: http://www.spiderrockets.com or email them: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rating: 8/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|GAIL SWANSON 'Sign of the times'
Gail Swanson is from Maui in Hawaii, she is a singer/songwriter with a sleazy 70's folky/rock edge a'la Fleetwood Mac.This EP I believe is Gail's third disc, four songs of up-tempo blusey smokey high energy music, the most rockiest track on offer is the excellent "Good Thing" which has a swing and guitar shuffle similar to bands like The Mark Allen Band, Challenge, Alanis Morissette and Blue Moon Junction.
This track is very catchy and features some amazing flute leads from our Gail. The flute is used to great effect through out all the four tracks. One thing about Gail's music is that it's fresh and very entertaining, not whole heartledly a rock album,but there are some very good songs that can pass into this category of which i would love to see Gail explore alot more.This is one chick worth checking out. Email: Rockchick@maui.net and Website at: http://www.maui.net/~rockchick
Rating: 6/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|TERMINAL ROMANCE 'Dirty pool'
I got this demotape consisting of 3 songs from a friend of mine who really liked it. I am not so enthusiastic about the band, although TERMINAL ROMANCE has qualities to become very popular. Their music is poppy poprock that is only a mile away from THE REMBRANDTS. I call this kind of rock 90s oriented Radiorock.
The only track that I liked was "Checkout girl", a nice early 80s typed melodic poprocker that reminds me of TOMMY TUTONE, EDDIE MONEY and DANNY WILDE. More info at: http://wwww.TerminalRomance.com
|KIN 'Behind closed
The vocalist of this all-female rockband can really sing, but it's a damn shame their music is just not good. The music is boring weak 90s oriented pop/rock. The kind of stuff that is really popular out there today and is promoted a lot on the radio. I had expected a VIXEN kinda 80s typed Melodic Rocksound, but all I got was a weak band with boring songs that really have nothing to do with our beloved musicstyle. Next one please!
|WHITE ALICE PROJECT 'DEMO 1999'
White Alice hail from
New Jersey USA, this is their debut cdr demo, the music
as a whole reminds me of the Bulletboys, Faster
Pussycat,Wildside, L.A.Guns, Love/Hate and Mr.Hate.
Rating: 8,5/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|LOST CAUSES 'Break down
I haven't got any info on this band and I don't think I want to know more about LOST CAUSES, because their album 'Break down laughing' is a very weak pop oriented album. The band reminds me a lot of INXS, especially the song "Ghost of a chance" could've been on an INXS album. Although the CD starts with a nice uptempo melodic poprocker titled "Don't be afraid of the dark" that reminded me of the last NELSON, HONEYMOON SUITE , this band is playing pure Pop.
The only other tunes worth mentioning are "I could take never take " and "The fly on the wall", two o.k. sounding poprockers like TOMMY TUTONE, early RICK SPRINGFIELD. But that's about it, because the remaining 10 songs are terrible Popsongs. This LOST CAUSES can easily be left alone.
|RATT 'Ratt' (CMC)
RATT was one of those bands that kept repeating themselves on each album. They released about sic albums in the 80s that all sounded along the same lines and structure. And the crazy thing about RATT is that each album sold very well in The States, so they kept on doing the same thing for almost 10 years. Then came the grunge and RATT quit. Lead vocalist Stephen Pearcy ended up singing in his new project ARCADE that hopelessly got lost after two releases.
Sometime ago there was no other way out for Stephen and co. to just reform RATT and work on a new album. I never heard the other comeback album that has been on the scene for some time, but I can inform you that this new RATT album, simply titled 'Ratt', is an easy catch for the fans of the old RATT. 'Ratt' basically continues the style of their last 80s records. I haven't heard weak or 90s based rock, but just RATT-rock in the 80s style.
Best songs to me are "Live for today", "Tug of war", "It ain't easy" and "All the way". These songs are mostly uptempo melodic rockers in the best 80s tradition. Notable is the semi ballad "Give up, givin' up" that reminded me so much of CINDERELLA. Like I said, there are not many pure 90s based rocksongs on this album and so I can easily recommend it to fans of the older RATT style. The only difference is that the lead vocals of Stephen sound a bit different (less screaming and shouting) and the guitarsound is much different than the cheesy 80s. Nevertheless a nice record, but no breaking records anymore for RATT!
|JEFFERSON DENIM 'Into the red'
(KAMIKAZE PENGUIN RECORDS)
When i first put this record on to my beloved boom box, my initial reaction to Jefferson Denim was not a very good one. The first impression i had was eighties chart pop fodder, yuk!! But i decided to persevere with this one as something was bugging me about it, turns out that J.D. aren't such a bad band after all, offering chunks of colourful harmonies and great synthesier workouts that remind me of Rick Springfield, Duran Duran, Max, Richard Marx, Innuendo and Michael Learns To Rock.
This is a very strong and catchy power pop album,but i'm not so sure if the majority of you readers will like this,the only thing that saves this album from falling into the dreaded Spice Girls chart territories is the tasty guitar playing from Anthony Mazza, saying that though J.D. have made a nice album,but it hardly fits into our beloved rock n roll territory. Still if your intrested check out the band at their website: http://www.lama.com/denim.html or email: email@example.com
Rating: 4/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|DOKKEN 'Erase the slate' (CMC)
The new album of DOKKEN is much better than the previous album 'Dysfunctional' that was on the borderline of 90s alternative rock. It seems that Don Dokken is trying to combine the 80s melodies of DOKKEN with the 90s rocksound. Yet this time the band is playing more the melodic rock we heard DOKKEN play back in the 80s.
There are 11 songs on the new record and despite a few 90s typed rockers, most of this CD is enjoyable Melodic Rock. My favourite tracks are "Change the world" (old style 80s uptempo melodic rocker), "Shattered" (very melodic hookline), "Who believes" (DON DOKKEN styled semi melodic rockballad) and "Voice of the soul" (heavy 90s guitars, but super melodic 80s DOKKEN chorus). Most of the other tracks are nice, but not that sensational as the old DOKKEN records.
At least this album can easily be bought by the DOKKEN fans without being disappointed. Not as good as 'Back for the attack' for example, but at least a decent album and recommended to fans of 90s typed Melodic Hardrock.