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CRIMSON RIVERS is a Greek based female fronted band that are clearly adopting the typical modern day female fronted Gothic Metal sound of the old NIGHTWISH and AFTER FOREVER. The production is not major labelish, so be aware of that and also the band’s sound is not as good as the aforementioned bands. I am afraid the band’s female singer is at the moment the weakest link, because she just doesn’t sound convincing enough, which is understandable as this kind of Metal is just very hard to sing. During some songs she is really struggling and that is a pity, because if you listen to her singing during “In life’s silence” she shows she is able to sing quite well and this semi-ballad a la WITHIN TEMPTATION is definitely the finest song on the CD. I think some more practice wouldn’t hurt at all and with every future CD this band will improve… I am quite convinced about that! More info at: 

(Points: 7.0 out of 10)


It’s always hard to tell which band will be the next big thing, because who knows it might just be this Aussie band called GREENTHIEF, whom sound modern, experimental, very retro-rocking and ready for the big European Summer Festivals. During the first song of their mini-EP ‘Retribution’ I really thought this was a female fronted band, but this 3-piece band really has a male singer (JULIAN SCHWEITZER), who also happens to play guitar. Anyway, the band combines all sorts of influences, sometimes mixing elements of ARCADE FIRE, ALKELINO TRIO, KAISER CHIEFS, THE KILLERS, FOO FIGHTERS with some high-pitched squaks by the singer and even adding some THE BEATLES during the chorus in a song like “Salad days”, while most of the big fat groovy guitar riffs come straight outta the 1970s Classic Rockbook. The result is something that will be adored by today’s modern rock society. More info: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Out of Tennessee, USA comes MANDARA, a female singer with sadly just a CD-single out for now, because the included material is really great original Melodic Heavy Rock. MANDARA has a great voice and I truly can’t wait for a full-length CD someday soon. This girl has talent and we should definitely keep our ears and eyes open for her in the near future. In the meantime more info on the 2 songs at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


These Italian guys really want to be called a 1980s LA Sunset Strip kinda Sleazy Hardrockband, as far as the music goes, because their CD ‘From the ground floor’ captures the same kinda spirit as bands like BRITNY FOX, GUNS’N’ROSES, JOHNNY CRASH and such did 20+ years ago. What they do they are doing quite well and fans of mentioned bands will love this band for sure, but I don’t think they will have a big break with this debut album, because therefore the material and especially the lead singer is sounding a bit too standard. More at: 

(Points: 7.1 out of 10)


Italian guitarist/vocalist STEVE SALUTO has already released 7 records, including some joint ventures with RITCHIE KOTZEN and TERRY ILOUS of XYZ. His latest solo-CD is titled ‘Brown eyed soul’, which contains typical groovy/funky Rock in the style of LENNY KRAVITZ, RITCHIE KOTZEN, JIMI HENDRIX, GLENN HUGHES, CREAM and JEFF SCOTT SOTO. Although not all of the songs reach the high level of the mentioned acts, it is definitely a recommended piece to fans of this 1970s groovy guitar meets soulful vocals orientated music. The absolute highlight is the beautiful laid-back ballad “Angel”. If JOE BONAMASSA and PHILIP SAYCE are seen as the new heroes, well then Steve might just as well be mentioned, although Steve’s material is a bit more soulful orientated and less bluesy rock. Go check it out at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Although the frontcover of the new CD of the Italian band DARK AGES looks rather dangerous and would suggest it is either a Hardcore or Black Metalish sounding album, it is musically speaking something completely different. In fact, DARK AGES was formed all the way back in 1982 by guitarist SIMONE CALCIOLARI and the first 10 years he spent on creating the band’s sound, which was revealed on their 1991 debut CD ‘Saturnalia’. After it’s release the band once again went back into the underground, but now in 2011 are back with a new CD titled ‘Teumman’. The included music is sorta Rock Opera ish, reminding a bit of SAVATAGE, TRANS SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, EVERGREY and such. The vocals are quite raw, while instrumental the band almost sounds like a pure Progressive Rockband, as the tempo and mood changes a lot, from calm to epic to quite heavy, but always very melodic. Most of the songs are epic and slowtempo orientated and it all sounds quite professional and recommended to fans of mentioned bands, although the vocals sound really raw at times (even reminding a bit of MAT SINNER!). More at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


The Swedish band ELECTRIC EARTH is definitely sounding like the next big thing on their new CD ‘Touching the void’. The album has a big sound and the included material is actually quite catchy modern sounding Retro Rock and Roll. If you think RIVAL SONS, AIRBOURNE, WOLFMOTHER and FOO FIGHTERS are the bands to save real uptempo guitar orientated sing-a-long Rock and Roll, well then why not add ELECTRIC EARTH to that list! These guys definitely how to rock in a good way and thanks to a great tight rhythm section, a superstrong lead singer and some biting guitarwork, this CD could easily become the big break for ELECTRIC EARTH. Somehow they add a little Classic Melodic Hardrock (a la SHAKRA) into their material, which makes it sound just a little catchier to the ears than earlier mentioned bands do normally speaking. For example a song like “Freefall” or the uptempo “Harvest time” combine all the best Rock and Roll nowdays has to offer, which is heavy and melodic at the same time. Anyway, it is the year 2011 and ELECTRIC EARTH also sounds like a typical new modern rockband, but they have something extra that makes them standout between the rest! Hear for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


SPLIT SOFA were formed back in 1999 and the British band has already released a few albums, with ‘The gathering’ being their latest effort. Musically speaking they are playing typical British psychedelic progressive rock that sounds a lot like PINK FLOYD in the early years. For an independent release it sounds quite impressive and could well have a major label release, while also the musicianship and songwise everything seems to be sounding crystal clear. While I’m listening to this CD and watch the pouring rain continue to come down outside, it actually feels like the perfect soundtrack to the bloody summer of 2011, which was a very rainy season, but in this case SPLIT SOFA gave it some ‘body’ and a name in a positive way. Fans of a sort of semi-acoustic/electric tingled psychoprog/rock like PINK FLOYD, STEVEN WILSON, PORCUPINE TREE, TEENAGE FANCLUB and even THE BYRDS… will enjoy this trip for sure. More info at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


LAURIE J. POTTER is a female singer/songwriter from the US of A, with a semi-acoustic tingled CD release titled ‘Infrared’, which is most of the time featuring very low pitched vocals and somehow reminding of the 1990s way of female singer/songwriters like FIONA APPLE, MELISSA ETHERIDGE… Not a bad release at all, but after a while the material gets a bit too repetitive. Nevertheless, check out more info at: 

(Points: 6.7 out of 10)


DIATESSARON is a Canadian band with a rather awkward Progressive Rocksound that does have some RUSH influences, but overall is getting more experimental and especially due to the extraordinary vocals (almost R.E.M. ish!!!) is going for a sound that feels like a lighter version of COHEED AND CAMBRIA. Not bad at all and interesting for fans of mentioned bands, but their 5 tracks counting CD ’Monument’ is not convincing enough yet to call DIATESSARON a new sensation. Nevertheless, it could well be that in the somewhat not too distance future they might become a band to watch out for. More at: 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)


Straight-up, no-nonsense uptempo Rock and Roll is the style this Swedish band is playing and they are doing it quite well, although their same titled debut CD is not yet a sensational record. However if you like AIRBOURNE, AC/DC, DIRTY LOOKS and KINGS OF THE SUN, you might want to check out this Swedish band at: 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


PERPETUATE is a Canadian band with a female singer and without a doubt, their same titled debut CD is a winner for any fan of the typical modern day female fronted Melodic Gothic Power Metal. Similarities to NIGHTWISH and AFTER FOREVER are very clear and thanks to the very strong vocals of KIM MCINNIS, this is a very enjoyable album and band with a bright future. In this genre, the vocalist is making the difference and Kim does it really well and combined with a great ear for a strong melody, such as during the fantastic opener “Above and beyond”, PERPETUATE has got something extra that needs to be heard by the Metalfans out there. Also the production and instrumental speaking, they bring out something that only can be seen as high quality, so be sure not to miss out this great band from Windsor, Ontario, Canada at: 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


You have good and bad Hair Metal, always have and always will be, no matter if it is 1985 or 2011. When it’s done as good as on the 2nd CD of the Chicago based band DOWN & DIRTY, it is very enjoyable to listen to and live on stage you will definitely have a good time in the audience when witnessing an act like DOWN & DIRTY. The band’s material is pure Hair Metal in the best 80s tradition, so nothing new is brought here, but thanks to a strong production, great vocal- and instrumentalwork packed in some very good songs, they can easily become a leading act in this genre alongside other US retro-Hair Metalbands such as DIRTY PENNY, BAD CITY and STEEL PANTHER. A song like “Free and young” is classic 80s uptempo Hair Metal to sing a long in the classic DIRTY BLONDE, DANGER DANGER and RATT, by far the best song on the CD. The ballad “Fallin” sets you back to WARRANT/SLAUGHTER days, but most of the time it is uptempo Party Hair Metal to sign and dance all night to, sounding like a mix between DIRTY BLONDE, RATT and PRETTY BOY FLOYD (USA). The band is lucky enough to have a great singer in their line-up, which makes them stand out between the rest, so if you want to hear quality Party Metal, then look no further than this DOWN & DIRTY at: 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


I am afraid this band called SEKS, whom are settled in Norway, will not make a huge impact with their debut CD ‘Harder than you’, because therefore the material is way too standard and also the ‘crispy’ vocalwork of bandleader ROCK HART is not strong enough to make his band sound sensational. The material on the album is 80s Hair Metal with clear similarities to bands like KIX, KEEL and RATT. If you’re into those acts, you are going to love this band, but I do feel that a future album might tell us more, but this first record of the band is quite a standard release and only interesting for absolute die-hard fans of the 80s genre. More at: 

(Points: 7.4 out of 10)


Brooklyn, New York based K. PAGE AND SLEEPWALKER’S PARADE is a typical modern day sounding experimental female fronted alternative/wave pop/rockband that sound like they’re coming from Europe. The music sounds like a mixture between PATTI SMITH, SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES and FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE. Sometimes it gets very experimental, but without a doubt, their new album ‘Between the bridges’ is a quality record that could do well in mainland Europe. More at: 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


The Brazilian band AYGAN are making their debut with the album ‘Plastic city’ and it is quite interesting to see that there are so many quality bands alive and well in that part of the world. AYGAN however is not as sensational as some of their brothers in Metal from Brazil, but for a debut, this is a nice album that sounds like a good deal of Melodic Progmetal. Vocally it is not superstrong, as there are some EDGUY similarities, but it is all made up by offering good clean material from start to finish. “From the fire” is a good example of how the band sounds quite impressive, because this is a very good Melodic Progressive Metal tune and so is the really great semi-ballad “Days”. The band’s material is roughly speaking a cross between a less proggy DREAM THEATER and a proggier SKID ROW, with some FATES WARNING influences as well. Despite some slight struggling in the vocal department, instrumental the band sounds quite good and I do feel that on a future CD the songwriting will also improve. For now, Progmetalfans might wanna check out AYGAN at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Out of Melbourne, Australia comes the band SHIFT, whom are making their debut with the CD ‘Watch it burn’. The production/sound of the album is huge and the band’s leader ROB LAMBERT is a great guitarist and a very aggressive Metal based singer. He is able to sing a little cleaner sometimes, but usually he screams as loud as possible, which makes the music touching Metalcore a lot of times. Overall however SHIFT is a typical Modern Metalband (a la AVENGED SEVENFOLD), very American orientated and major label ready with this album. Personally I do hope for some more melodic orientated material on a future record, a little more material in the style of the dark epic “The march” or the DISTURBED soundalike “On the brink”. In the meantime check them out at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Singer/songwriter JAMIE ALLEN from San Jose, California looks and sounds like the brother of either BRETT MICHAELS (POISON), JOHNNY LIMA (who produced the album) or STEVE RACHELLE (TUFF). Also musically it’s like we went back to 1989, because the debut album of Jamie sounds like a mix between WARRANT, TUFF, POISON, JOHNNY LIMA, JOEY C. JONES and WILD BOYZ, yet with some slight up-to-date arrangements and also a few DEF LEPPARDish harmonyvocals. Despite the very 80s cliché tingled sounding Hair Metal, I have to admit it does sound pretty good and fans of especially STEEL PANTHER will be loving this kind of stuff, although JAMIE ALLEN is pretty serious here and adds a lot of Melodic Rock in the songs as well! Songs like “The way I roll”, “Superman” and “Ghost of my hometown” are examples of rockers that would have been huge if it was still MTV 1989-1990 and trust me, you will not find something better in that classic WARRANT, TUFF, POISON style than this record! It also reminds me a bit of RICK MATHEWS (remember him???) and besides all this pretty catchy material, the guitarwork of Jamie is also very good, so all we can say here is that we do have a winner! Go check it out for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


New York based TEN YEAR VAMP was recently introduced over here and now they already have a new CD out, which is the 5 tracks sounding mini-CD ‘Lust’. They play the picture-perfect female fronted Melodic Poprockstyle which has been quite popular ever since EVERMORE, PARAMORE, THE DONNAS, KELLY CLARCKSON and such broke through. TEN YEAR VAMP are blessed with a female lead singer (Debbie Gabrione) who does not only look good, but also has a really excellent Rock voice. Basically this new CD is another winner for fans of the female fronted radio-ready melodic poprocksound that is obviously also reminding of the classic early 80s records of PAT BENATAR. Especially the songs “Got 2 me” and “Making me want you” are excellent tunes that are instant winners for fans of mentioned bands. Be sure to check out TEN YEAR VAMP at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


NORDIC NOMADIC is a side-project of vocalist/guitarist CHAD ROSS from Canadian rockers QUEST FOR FIRE. He now releases his 2nd solo-album under NORDIC NOMADIC, which is musically going deeply into a sort of late 1960s psychedelic/folk ish trip that contains some beautiful harmonyvocals like CSNY, but with an almost Doom kinda rhythm/beat. It feels like a sort of dream or trip into… nowhere actually! It is not the kind of record you would put on when you want to rock and have a good time, because NORDIC NOMADIC is completely going into a different direction, which is an interesting psychedelic trip that really sounds like some Classic record of the late 1960s, combining elements of psychedelic, folk and early doom. Definitely a high quality record that is recommended to anyone who wants to hear calm mostly acoustic based music that sounds quite melodic, but still never sounds cheesy, as in fact it more or less has a slight depressive approach and reminds me of the earlier mentioned CSNY, yet with a somehow almost Doom kinda touch. In the end, it is hard to describe this NORDIC NOMADIC, but it feels good and therefore go check it out for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


What do you get when you mix typical Punky Rock and Roll with pure Hardcore and Stoner Rock, well probably something like the Californian band THE FUCKING WRATH, whom sound like a mix between BLACK FLAG, HELLACOPTERS and THE MELVINS, with some riffs taken straight out of the Classic Doom Metal book. The vocals are quite aggressive and dangerously close to HENRY ROLLINS, while instrumental they sometimes sound like a typical traditional Metalband, but overall the band is mainly recommended to the fans of aggressive Punk/Hardcore. Check it for yourself at: 

(Points: 7.3 out of 10)


The Italian band HOMERUN released their debut CD ‘Don’t stop’ back in 2008 and were named after the classic GOTTHARD song “Homerun”. Now in 2011 they make their return with this 2nd album titled ‘Black world’. Musically speaking no big changes, so again nice typical European Melodic Hardrock that sounds a bit like JADED HEART, VICTORY and PINK CREAM 69. Although the material is a bit cliché-tingled most of the time and it is hard to call this new album of HOMERUN a classic in the genre, as it does not reach for example the incredible high level of similar acts like EDEN’S CURSE or VOODOO CIRCLE. Nevertheless, the enthusiasm of the band in some of the songs should be appreciated, because it is quite nice to listen to from start to finish and songs like “Ephemeral light”, “Black world” and “Firefly” are without a doubt really great Melodic Hardrock tunes, while the beautiful ballad “Princess of time” is surprisingly one of the highlights on the album. Fans of mentioned bands can easily check this album out and somehow I feel it is a grower that gets better with every listen. More info at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Actually this VARGTON PROJEKT was intended to be an instrumental CD, until creator MATS HEDBERG decided to add some vocals on a couple of tracks. The result is a nice semi-instrumental album, which musically is a mix of groovy typical Swedish Melodic Hardrock with Progressive Rock structures and guitar riffs that are coming out of the DREAM THEATER book, while Mats also is playing the Sitar on several songs that more or less gives the overall sound on the album a rather own approach. Sometimes it gets very experimental, while at other times it feels like a typical modern day progressive album that are especially interesting due to the strong vocals of BJORN JANSSON (RIDE THE SKY, TEARS OF ANGER) and Mats excellent guitar virtuoso. Actually this is one of those albums you have to listen to over and over again, as hidden in each and every song are some beautiful melodies, just listen to the Arabic meets RAINBOWish “Birka- Trilogy”. A challenging album for sure that is hard to judge on a few listens, but you can be sure it is a quality release!

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Finnish guitarist ELIAS VILJANEN released this debut album 9 years ago and now LION MUSIC decided to give it another go and why not, because after all this is a very fine instrumental album that shows Elias’ talents on the guitar. Not as Neo-Classical or guitar shredding based as for example the late 80s wave of guitarists or in fact the whole LION MUSIC catalogue, because ‘Taking the lead’ is more a straight-ahead Melodic Hardrock/Melodic Metal type of album with fantastic picture-perfect melodies out of Elias’ guitar, comparable a bit to the legendary TONY MACALPINE albums. One listen to the song “I go solo” and you will completely understand this is a sensational album from an incredible guitarist, because the melodies in this song are timeless and speechless! Of course Elias had a lot of fame and fortune with his involvement in SONATA ARCTICA, but somehow I feel this solo-album might one day be regarded as a classic of the 2000s and not any of the albums he recorded with his regular band. Anyway, now available again to pick-up and dare I might say to any guitar fan, you MUST get this asap, as otherwise you might be really missing something! The new CD re-release comes along with a DVD, so make sure to get this new package!

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)


The list of sensational Scandinavian guitarists with instrumental albums the past few years is huge and especially the Finnish label LION MUSIC is very keen on these musicians. Happily, most of them are sounding really stunning and so we can enjoy each time a great album from start to finish, which is also the case with the first CD of INFINITY OVERTURE guitarist NIELS VEJLYT. This Danish guitarist starts his CD with a beautiful melodic song titled “Heads up”, while the following 7 tracks go for a more heavier Progressive Metal approach, in which he also shows his skills that is a mixture of many guitarstyles although he prefers the Neo-Classical shredding meets big Metal riffs kinda approach, while the heavenly melodies are also included a lot of times, such as during the huge sounding “Meteors”, which is probably one of the finest tracks on offer here. Another recommended album to any of the guitarfans out there!

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Multi-instrumentalist MIKA GRONHOLM releases his 2nd CD under the project/bandname GRONHOLM, on which he is helped by drummer TOM RASK and STATUS MINOR vocalist MARKKU KUIKKA, but also a lot of guest musicians make their appearance, including BILLY SHERWOOD (ex-YES) and MARCO HIETALA (NIGHTWISH/TAROT). The result is ‘Silent out loud’, which happens to be a very strong album that combines some aggressive major Progmetal ish guitarwork with very catchy almost 80s inspired Melodic Rock anthemic choruses. Opener “Cross of mind” is the perfect example of this joint venture, because here we can hear a mix of let’s say PAGAN’S MIND and DREAM THEATER with a chorus that sounds like a mix between classic SHY/TNT and dare I say FIREHOUSE, while vocally it has a real JEFF SCOTT SOTO kinda approach! All together very interesting and although the rest of the album is sounding a bit darker and more going into a typical dark Melodic Progressive Metal direction (dropping most of the Melodic Hardrock influences, except during the catchy “Race is on”), it will mostly please fans of a band like MIND’S EYE I think, although PAGAN’S MIND fans will also be interested in checking out this new GRONHOLM CD, because musically speaking it is not too far away from those bands. Although it might not be a classic in the Progmetal genre, it offers some nice material to sit through.

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Pure 1970s Rock and Roll is the name of the game here and then not just any of the subgenres, because they take a piece of every rockstyle that was popular in the 1970s, well except for prog then! CRASH STREET KIDS is the name of the band and they have a clear hunger for especially 1970s Glamrock, which can best be heard in the rather catchy THE SWEET/T-REX/DAVID BOWIE ish sounding hitsingle “Asylum”, but KISS and STARZ similarities are also notable a lot of times. The band already released 3 albums within 3 years and all of them were concept records, which in this genre is very unique and that definitely makes them an interesting band, because their music is pretty good. Anyway, now they are back with ‘Sweet creatures’ and it is clear that THE ROLLING STONES are copied more than a few times and when they do that, CRASH STREET KIDS actually remind me of THE QUIREBOYS, especially during the song “Bang! Bang! (You’re beautiful)”. Their love for 1970sish Rock and Roll can be heard all throughout the album and during a song like “Bad yeah bad” it’s like KISS and STARZ have recorded a song together, while during the calmer very melodic sounding “Sad Julia” it is like THE BABYS have reunited with BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN and BON JOVI sharing the lead vocals. Actually this song sounds exactly like the JOHN BONGIOVI CDs that were released during the 1990s and these featured material Jon recorded in the late 70s/early 80s before BON JOVI, so if you’re familiar with that stuff you will understand what this CRASH STREET KIDS sounds like during their song “Sad Julia”. However like mentioned earlier on in this review, the overall sound has a sorta ROLLING STONES meets BOWIE/T-REX approach, yet with heavier guitars and in the end, it works out quite well and so who knows, this band might become huge in the near future if they have that lucky break. Their songs are catchy enough to be on the radio and if they can cut it live, then CRASH STREET KIDS might be the next big thing, trust me… Combine all of the mentioned acts, then you have CRASH STREET KIDS and no, it sounds much better than THE DARKNESS! For more info go to: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


BLUEFREYA MEDIA presents a rather interesting compilation CD that contains new upcoming bands in different Metalstyles. Most of the bands are coming out of Australia or the USA, but we can also find bands from Sweden, Ukraine, Russia and Norway. Not all of the 14 included bands are interesting, because a few go for the Extreme/Death Metal approach. However, we do can find quite a few great bands on this disc, such as the female fronted TEMUJIN (Gothic Metal a la DELAIN), VULVAGUN (best band, excellent Melodic Hard/Heavy Rock a la EDEN’S CURSE), SAD ALICE SAID (excellent female fronted band a la DELAIN/WITHIN TEMPTATION) and ANGELIC TEARS (another female fronted band a la NIGHTWISH), whom are all high quality bands and I truly hope to discuss additional material of those bands in the future to come. A lot of the bands are female fronted and musically it goes most of the time in the European way of life, which is NIGHTWISHish and it is quite nice to hear so many new unknown quality bands on 1 disc. All info on this recommended compilation CD can be found at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


The sensational Tunesian band MYRATH return with an even more sensational record than their 2010 release ‘Desert call’. ‘Tales of the sands’ is already their 3rd release and thanks to a massive production by Kevin Codfert (ADAGIO), excellent mixing by Fredrik Nordstrom (IN FLAMES, DREAM EVIL) and perfectly mastering by Jens Bogren (SYMPHONY X), this new MYRATH album is a fantastic release that need to be in the hands of every single Progmetalfan. If you’re into KAMELOT, SYMPHONY X and PAGAN’S MIND, then you don’t need to look any further to expand your collection, because this is the missing link. The interesting thing is of course that MYRATH is coming out of Tunesia and they combine their Melodic Progmetal with some Arabic influences, which makes them quite unique. Besides an excellent sound, the 10 included songs are all very impressive and not only instrumental the band is top of the bill, but also vocally ZAHER ZORGATTI shows he is a gifted lead singer, who can easily be mentioned alongside a RUSSELL ALLEN for that matter. The whole CD is a highlight, but songs like “Under siege”, “Wide shut” and “Beyond the stars” are making this band stand above almost any Progmetalband. Better than the new albums by KAMELOT and DREAM THEATER? YES! As good as the new SYMPHONY X and PAGAN’S MIND albums? YES! So, this is a must-have for any Progmetalfan out there! More at: 

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)


BADMOUTH is a band from Stockholm, Sweden of whom we reviewed their debut CD 2 years ago. That album was released on a small American label and now they make a switch to a slightly bigger Swedish label called RAMBO MUSIC. The album sounds bigger and much better than their first disc, despite the fact that their debut was produced by the legendary PAUL SABU. Anyway, now they hired producer Chips Keisby (HELLACOPTERS, SAHARA HOTNIGHTS, etc), who gave the band an up-to-date sound that still can be seen as traditional Hardrock. Some similarities to THE ANSWER and AIRBORNE are definitely possible and songs like “Son of Sam”, “City is burning” (very catchy melodic tune, resembling classic early 80s WHITESNAKE, by far the best song!) and “Bottoms up” are clearly great catchy tunes that show the band’s passion for pure traditional Classic Hardrock that contains influences from WHITESNAKE, THIN LIZZY and RAINBOW, added with some classy Metal riffs out of the 1980s book (hear this especially during the excellent titletrack). They even included a very nice 80s mainstream Melodic Rockballad in the shape of “Jake brakes”, so this is a very good comeback of BADMOUTH! More info at: 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


The Russian band ETERNAL WANDERERS is very interesting as they are a Symphonic Progressive Rockband formed by the Kanevsky sisters (Elena Kanevskaya - vocals, keyboards and Tatyana Kanevskaya - guitar, back vocals) way back in 1997. It took them almost 10 years, but in 2006 they released as a band, together with a male bassist and a male drummer, their first full-length album titled ‘The Door To A Parallel World’. Now 5 years later a new CD has been released and without a doubt, we have something special here. Instrumental this band is of an exceptionally high level and also vocally, the two sisters are making this a very enjoyable album. It is clear that they are influenced by the big progbands of all times, such as YES, PINK FLOYD, ELP, etc. etc. but the female vocals gave it a slightly different approach, making it sound a bit like RENAISSANCE, MOSTLY AUTUMN, KARNATAKA, yet leaving a lot of room open for instrumental complexity by the two girls. 8 tracks are included and from the very first few seconds of opener “And the world will be” until the very end with “And I will follow”, this is a sensational and quite unique Progressive Rockalbum that needs to be in the collection of every progfan all over the world. The Russians have a winner here and they are called ETERNAL WANDERERS, more info at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


AZAZELLO is a band from Russia and they have already released quite a few albums the past 15-20 years. Their latest release is called ‘Translation’, although this is indeed translated from their own native language, because the music is sung in the Russian language. Here and there it sounds a bit dark, but overall what we get to hear is nicely performed Progressive Metal. However vocally it sounds very raw in the beginning, but later on the CD it gets a little more melodic, such as during the harmonyvocalized “To win” or the ballad “Enchantress” that do sound a bit like legendary DIVLJE JAGODE. Not a bad album at all, but not sure if this is for everyone’s taste, mainly due to the Russian lyrics that are for most impossible to follow. More info at: 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)


The band TWO CENT SAM is coming out of Long Island, New York, USA and they present their official first full-length CD with ‘Songs from the sandbox’, an independently released album that was mastered by Fred Kevorkian (THE WHITE STRIPES, DAVE MATTHEWS BAND). The sound is pretty good and so are the 13 included tracks that musically go for the typical modern day rocksound, which of course has it’s roots in the Classic Rock of the 1970s. Especially uptempo rockers like “Be there”, “This is why” and “Wasting away” are very catchy little tunes that will definitely appeal to the young Rock audience of the present day, because one can easily draw comparisons to bands like THE KILLERS, ARCTIC MONKEYS, FOO FIGHTERS, THE VACCINES, THE SUBWAYS, etc. etc. Who knows this TWO CENT SAM might become the next big thing and a dream will come true for the band if they would be able to hit the European Summer Festival circuit in 2012, because that is nowadays the place where you can become huge. On this record they show they are able to bring a great catchy modern day rocksound, as good as the mentioned bands, so if they can also cut it live on stage in front of 10,000s of people then TWO CENT SAM might just as well be as huge as the mentioned bands in 1 year from now! Check them out at:  and e-mail them at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


And yet another album from the unstoppable ASTRAL DOORS. This Swedish band has been going strong for almost 10 years now and they have continued releasing new records since day one and somewhere along the way I lost count of their releases. However, somehow this new album ’Jerusalem’ sounds like their strongest effort, drifting away a bit from their Power Metalish sound of the earlier records. The DIO similarities are still very clear, but it actually goes a bit more into the 80s Melodic Heavy Rock direction, so a tad lighter, although of course you can still call ASTRAL DOORS a Metalband. However, I do feel that this time they have been working very hard on writing catchier choruses, which makes this new ASTRAL DOORS album a very pleasant record to play, especially during great tunes, such as “Child of Rock and Roll”, “Pearl harbor” and “The day after yesterday”. Welcome back ASTRAL DOORS with one of the strongest releases in their catalogue! More at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


‘Invisible empires’ is the 2nd CD of the US band RIOTGOD, whom are formed around several members of the band MONSTER MAGNET. That band was quite popular during the 1990s, in a time when Alternative/Grunge was the main music genre, these guys played Stoner Rock like BLACK SABBATH meets LED ZEPPELIN and got away with it. Of course SOUNDGARDEN and ALICE IN CHAINS were obviously also influenced by those bands, MONSTER MAGNET had a real early 1970s Rocksound and were miles away from the Grunge/Alternative sound. Now they are back with another awesome album under the moniker RIOTGOD and once again we can hear high quality heavy groovy guitar riff orientated Stoner Rock, yet with a bit Progmetal influences slipped right through here and there as well. RIOTGOD is very heavy and very groovy, but also keen on bringing strong melodies and from start to finish this is an album that need to become huge without a doubt, because after all similar acts like WOLFMOTHER, RIVAL SONS, BLACK STONE CHERRY, THE ANSWER and such are praised, while RIOTGOD is just as good! Go check out this band at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


DRIVING FORCE are coming out of Switzerland and their official debut CD ‘Death win money sin’ starts quite aggressive and heavy with the modern sounding “Dirty finger” that even recalls memories of PANTERA. However, a major change in style comes along when following track “Better ways” gets rolling, because this is one-helluva catchy uptempo Melodic Rocker with guitar shredding all over the place, good vocalwork and a very melodic chorus that sounds like a cross between CASANOVA, MAD MAX, DEMON DRIVE and WHITE LION in their heyday. It seems like the band is trying to mix up old and new rock/metal styles, because for example “Bullshit” even recalls RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, while “On and on”, “As long as I live” and “The road” are almost pure BONFIREish Melodic Rocksongs! Happily the melodic side of them wins it most of the time, so apart from the opening PANTERAish tune, the rest of the album is going for a mostly Melodic Hardrock kinda direction in the style of mentioned bands, but also sounding like their countrymen of SHAKRA and SKANSIS. Besides that, the guitarwork is really impressive and I’ll bet this band would go down very well live on stage. Check them out at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


THE SEARCH is a Swedish band whom are releasing a really great new album that could easily be hailed as new sensation in the Indie/New Wave market, because it is without a doubt as good as any of the British acts in this genre. Somehow it is the first time I ever heard something of them, because it is already their 5th CD within 7 years time! Nevertheless, a lot of the material on the band’s new album ‘The search for connection contact and community’ makes me immediately think of legendary British bands like ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN, THE SMITHS, THE CURE, but also some similarities to the more recent WHITE LIES, THE KILLERS, THE EDITORS and SHOUT OUT LOUDS come to mind while listening to their new CD. The band features a fantastic lead singer (RAZMIG TEKEYAN) and fans of mentioned bands will be in a coma when they hear THE SEARCH, because believe me that they are sometimes just as good! Just listen to “From the Glass Jar” that sounds like an early to mid 80s British Goth-New Wave Classic, but is really a new song written and recorded by a Swedish band! Also “The heart is a lonely hunter” is a remarkable pure 1980s sounding tune that even has some slight AOR/Poprock influences and is probably the finest song on the CD. If there ever was a missing link between THE SMITHS and ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN, then we have found it now in the shape of THE SEARCH! Great to have discovered this band now, despite the fact they have been active for quite a while already. All info at:  and 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


The band CRYSTAL KID is coming out of Calgary, Canada and based around the 2 brothers Frank (vocals, bass) and Charles (guitars, keys) Torrealba. Without a doubt, their same titled debut mini-CD is a very impressive and radio-ready record. The included music is very much influenced by the classic 80s sound, sounding like a mixture of Classic 80s Canuck Poprock and 80s British New Wave, with still a fresh updated sound. They should be put somewhere between WHITE LIES, THE KILLERS, NEON TREES, THE ARROWS, IDLE EYES and even a little bit SAGA meets DURAN DURAN (vocally and due to the massive use of some killer 80s keyboard/synths). 6 tracks are included on the professional sounding and looking CD and especially the uptempo rockers like “Make the world mine”, “Come dance”, “You make me wanna” and “Breakout” are very catchy tunes that could easily become huge hits in especially Europe, where they love this kind of music at the moment. These guys really have a bright future ahead of them and I would not be surprised if a major label picks them up very soon, as they have clearly got the perfect 80s retro meets modern catchy poprock approach! More info at:  and 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


It is quite stunning how some of the young bands out there are being ‘discovered’ so quickly and then being thrown in the record producing world with some of the biggest names in the industry. The result is most of the time a massive sounding debut record and this is also the case with the Australian band SYNDICATE. They went to LA for a few months to record their debut and met and worked with a lot of well-known people in the music industry, such as BRANDON FRIESEN (NICKELBACK), SCOTT HUMPHREY (METALLICA, MOTLEY CRUE), JEFF BLUE (LINKIN PARK, MATCHBOX 20, KORN) and MIKE FRASER (AC/DC, AEROSMITH), while they also recorded in the studios of MATT SORUM (GUN’N’ROSES, VELVER REVOLVER) and TOMMY LEE. With guest appearances on their debut by members of SLASH, DIO, P.O.D. and VELVET REVOLVER, a song co-written by the legendary DIANNE WARREN (“When you hurt”, a very catchy tune that must be a radio-hit for sure!) and a crystal clear sound, besides of course a bunch of catchy tunes, the band SYNDICATE clearly sounds like they are already one of the big boys! Their music is catchy and modern based Rock that is quite diverse actually, because a song like “Holding on” is pure Melodic Rock that makes me even think of GOTTHARD and there’s also some BON JOVI similarities (such as during “Right in front of me”) and HINDER/NICKELBACK similarities can also be heard, but also typical modern punky Poprock a la SIMPLE PLAN is included during for example “My Mom Hates Me” and the album’s best track by far “Bring it on” is basically an excellent slice of classic Melodic Hardrock that almost makes me think of EDEN’S CURSE of JADED HEART! However most of the material is modern sounding Melodic Rock with catchy singable melodic choruses and almost any of the 16 included tracks could become radio hits, so this is a very enjoyable record from head to toe. The involvement of a bunch of American professionals is of course contributing to the fact that this album a winner for anyone who likes summerish light catchy melodic rock, but who cares, because after all, the songs all stick in your memory and that is what is important in today’s overcrowded rockscene. More info at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Yes it is still possible! Most of the time an 80s American Melodic/Mainstream Hardrock inspired newly created record is nowhere near reaching the classics of the past, but FAITHEALER completely succeeds on their sensational debut CD ‘Welcome to the edge of the world’. This band is formed around lead singer/multi-instrumentalist JASON MARKS (FOREVER, S.I.N.) and multi-instrumentalist IVAN GUNN (BALANCE OF POWER, PRIDE), whom together with a few guest musicians (including the superb guitarplayer CHRIS GREEN, who also plays in SCRAP METAL by the way) recorded one of the finest releases in the Melodic Hardrockworld. The album sounds basically picture-perfect and crystal clear from start to finish. The beautiful catchy melodies in each and every song remind one a bit of a better sounding version of FINAL FRONTIER crossed with BILOXI, SLYBOYZ and 80s SHY, while the vocals of Jason are superstrong and most of the time high-pitched, the amazing guitarwork is stunning and resembles Classic 80s TNT and also the production is very impressive. Last but of course certainly not least, almost every included song on the disc is a winner for fans of the Classic ‘later 1980s’ US Mainstream Melodic Rocksound of bands like FIREHOUSE, BILOXI, BRITTON, KNOW ILLUSION, STRUTT, 80s SHY/TNT, NELSON and especially BILOXI and SLYBOYZ. If you’re into that Arena Rocksound you will be dancing all night to songs like “Who will stop the rain”, “Stronger”, “Last tear drop falls” and “Tell me”! This is by far one of the most perfect late 80s US Arena Melodic Hardrock based releases in ages and you can buy the CD through 

(Points: 9.1 out of 10)


Out of Slovenia comes the band TOXIC HEART, whom released this CD already back in 2009, but it is now getting some more exposure thanks to WISHING WELL ENTERTAINMENT. The band is clearly influenced by classic 80s LA/Glam Hardrock (RATT, TUFF, BLACK’N’BLUE mixed with Melodic Hardrock a la SCORPIONS (listen to the song “New generation” and you will understand what I mean!). So, nothing new is brought here, but that is not important as long as you do it well and TOXIC HEART are definitely a little bit better than most bands in this genre, so they keep your attention all throughout the CD. RECKLESS LOVE and KISSIN’ DYNAMITE are 2 similar bands, both also hailing from the European mainland and playing the same kinda music, mixing 80s US Glam and Melodic Hardrock, like mixing WHITE LION, SCORPIONS, BON JOVI and POISON. The result is not always sensational, because most of these bands suffer from weaker lead vocals, but gladly TOXIC HEART make it up by bringing catchy energetic tunes, such as the very catchy “Love is for fools”. Almost constantly the band reminds me of the SCORPIONS and that is not a bad comparison I think, while vocally we are moving a bit also in the BONFIRE department, so TOXIC HEART might be one of those bands you either love or hate, but nobody can deny that they write some catchy material, such as the aforementioned tunes, but also “The one” could easily be a radio-hit! Combined with a tight production and a high quality instrumental back-up, the band delivers a pretty good release that is well worth checking out if you like any of the mentioned bands. You can buy the CD through 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Here we have the JOHNNY ENGSTROM BAND from Sweden! Main member is of course then JOHNNY ENGSTROM, a singer/multi-instrumenalist who was actually born in Chicago, but raised in Sweden. ‘Magnetic force’ is the 3rd CD and musically we are dealing with light Progressive Metal that has been compared to EVERGREY, SAGA, RUSH and DREAM THEATER, but I am afraid that incredible high level is not reached here. Johnny’s voice is just not strong enough to give the material that extra touch needed in this complex genre. Although it is a nice record, I am afraid it is not an album that will be hailed as a new winner in the overcrowded Progmetalgenre, which at the moment offers so many new bands that is hard for any act to make an impact. Nevertheless, you can buy the CD through 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)


Obscure stuff is our main interest when it comes down to reviewing bands from all over the world and RED HUSH is definitely a rare and very obscure band. They were active in the early 90s in the New York area, but due to the early death of the band’s guitarist, the band quit after the recording of an album, which was never released. That album has now been released on CD some 17 years later, with the addition of a couple of original 1994 live recordings. Musically speaking we are listening to classic early 90s Sleazy Melodic Hardrock in the style of EVERY MOTHER’S NIGHTMARE, STEELHEART, SKID ROW, SPREAD EAGLE and WARRANT. However, during a couple of songs, such as “Breakdown”, “Leave me lonely” and “Everybody scream”, the band also moves a bit in the classic DOKKEN/FIREHOUSE Melodic Hardrock direction and even remind me of BADLANDS meetx XYZ during the excellent “Take your wings” (with superb almost ZEPPELINish vocalwork) and several of the songs to be found later on the CD, although Hair Metal meets Sleazy Hardrock is the best description most of the time. RED HUSH featured a real charismatic lead singer (at least, judging on his vocal skills on this CD), who reminds a bit of SEBASTIAN BACH and actually any typical 80s Metal type of vocalist. Who knows, if this band would have been active 6 years earlier, then perhaps a major label had signed them for a multi-album deal. Anyway, the story took a different turn, sadly also for one of the members and they became yet another band that were close but still so far away. You can buy the CD through 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem except where noted)