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This is the debut CD of the American band RIOT ACT. 'What is real' counts 14 tracks and musically the band is playing very heavy guitar orientated metal. The first two tracks "Fool" and "VLD" are super heavy 90s based metal, not really interesting for the melodic rockfans. But track number 3 "Crying game" is much better, this is a nice semi melodic rockballad. The following two tracks ("The night falls down" and "The game") are again heavy 90s metal. "Long road" has a very nice intro with the piano-keys and develops into a very good melodic rockballad. Following track "Desire never lies" is a nice melodic heavy rocker with a great chorus and a sound comparable to MOON'DOC.

After some more heavier 90s metal tracks, we can hear a few more melodic rocktracks. "Miracle" is a very melodic piano ballad and "The writing on the wall" is heavy at first sight, but features some very melodic harmonyvocals during the chorus. The best track is definitely "Far from home", a very impressive melodic rockballad that sounds like 80s DOKKEN, CRYSTAL BALL. This band is trying to mix very heavy 90s metal with some melodic rock vocals and choruses. Just like we saw with the band ASKA. Only I think this RIOT ACT is a bit more leaning towards the pure 90s metal of PANTERA and that kinda acts. RIOT ACT also released a follow-up to this CD titled 'Rocktrauma' but this CD is even more metal based and comes close to the 90s sounds of METALLICA. Find out for yourself what you think of this band through their website at:

(Points: 6.5 out of 10)


This American band is playing raw rock'n'roll like we used to hear it from bands such as BRITNY FOX and especially KINGS OF THE SUN. This kind of hard rock has always been played ever since AC/DC started playing it. DADY BANNED IT follows the same route as the already mentioned bands. So basically you get a raw rough rock'n'roll album with mostly straight ahead screaming rockers.

If you love one song, you will love them all. Personally I liked the song "Tell me how long" which entered a more melodic rockstyle. Songs like "Believe", "Tonight's the night" and "Rhythm and blooze" are simple rock'n'rollers that are so close to KINGS OF THE SUN, an Australian band that released two CDs 10 years ago, fans of that band will love also this band. For more info e-mail the band at:

(Points: 7.0 out of 10)


CO is an American band and their CD 'Cobalt blue' contains 9 tracks. Musically this band is playing Melodic Hardrock, although opener "Sell the lies" is more in today's alternative rockgenre. Next track "Songs of love" is better, this is uptempo Party Hard Rock in the style of old SKID ROW/CRUE. Even more Hard Rock/Metal based are the songs "Burning up inside" and "Running from the city". "Nick of time" is more melodic rock based and from that moment on it gets better. Then the band is sounding more like GREAT WHITE, while the vocalist reminds me of Marc Storace (KROKUS singer).

"I believe" is a nice groovy MHR song with a melodic chorus somewhere between SLAUGHTER and WINGER. "Get loose" is simpler straight ahead hard rock like KROKUS meets AC/DC. "The calm before the storm" is calmer and softer melodic rock. The final track of the CD is the best track of the whole CD, namely the song "Already gone". This is good uptempo melodic rock with very melodic vocals of lead singer Steve Bird. This song is close to GREAT WHITE and if the band would have made more songs in this melodic rockstyle, the CD would have been much better. Get all the info on CO through their website at: or

(Points: 7.0 out of 10)


SHADOW FLARE is one of the better sounding melodic rockbands out of Japan. A little while ago we reviewed their debut demo tape that contained only two tracks, but already showed that this band sounded very good. Now they have released a new demo tape including 5 tracks, of which 2 were also on their first demo tape, but they have now been re-recorded for this new demo tape. Musically it is melodic rock with some AOR influences and a comparison to their countrymen of NIGHT HAWKS is easily made, because that is also such a melodic rockband just like SHADOW FLARE.

The tape opens with "Bad moon", a great midtempo AOR/Melodic rocker like FAIR WARNING. Also "Take me with you" is in this style. "Fool with me" is o.k. sounding midtempo melodic hardrock. "I can't even cry" follows and this is the band's best song, a great semi AOR/Melodic rockballad. Closing track is the uptempo melodic rocker "Can you desert this love" which sounds like a melodic cross between DOKKEN and TORINO/AUTOGRAPH. Also this new tape proves that there are some really good melodic rockbands coming out of Japan. Check them out.

For all info on SHADOW FLARE visit their website at: and e-mail them at: or write to their postal address at: Shadow Flare, Hishiyanishi Residence 103, 3-10-23 Hishiyanishi, Higashiosaka-shi, Osaka, 577-0807 Japan

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


SAINTS AND SHADOWS is coming out of Virginia, USA. I was told they were an 80s sounding melodic rockband like DOKKEN. But after listening to the 5 tracks I am afraid that this band has not much in common with our beloved 80s melodic rock. This band is more sounding like the DOKKEN of their last album, which means they are close to 90s modern pop/rock. Happily the band throws in some nice melodies in a couple of songs that give the music a progressive melodic rock touch. The progressive part comes from lead vocalist D. Scott Streng who has a similar voice as Geoff Tate from QUEENSRYCHE. For more info, check their website at:

(Points: 6.5 out of 10)


INVISIBLE SUN is a melodic rockband out of Colorado, USA. Their debut CD contains 11 well-produced tracks. The album starts with "The inertial song", a bit average opener. This song is quite different than the rest of the CD and is more midtempo progressive melodic rock. Next track "I can't wait" is much better. This is cheerful 80s based uptempo melodic rock.

Then comes the best track on this CD, namely the track "Don't give up". This song is great hookladen uptempo AOR that reminds me a little of ROXUS and the first STRANGEWAYS album (if anyone can remember those). This song shows INVISIBLE SUN at their best. A very melodic approach and a strong AOR chorus. More songs in this style would be great. Indeed the band gives us a couple of more uptempo tracks later on the CD, but these are just nice melodic rockers (such as "Windows of the soul" and "Hold you head up"). Average tracks are "Open for lunch", "Here I am" and the acoustic pop/rock song "Someday".

It's clear that this band is at their best during the uptempo melodic rockers, although the semi melodic rockballad "Lost tonite" sounds good. If the band would put some more hookladen AOR songs in the style of their track "Don't give up" on a future CD, then the band could release a much stronger effort. Still this CD is a nice welcome to the melodic rockfans. Check out all info on the band at their website: Over there you can also listen to their best track "Don't give up"! Check it out a.s.a.p.

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


THE FLAMES is an American band and they are planning a mixture of Bubblegum Partyrock and Punkpop. A cross between early MOTLEY CRUE/POISON and THE BOYS. Pretty weird, but there are some nice melodies in a couple of songs such as "Cheated on you" (which even sounds a bit like JOHNNY LIMA), "Addicted" (some LA GUNS references) and "Crawlin' for you". But most of all this CD is sounding very different than anything reviewed in Strutter'zine. Only recommended if you're into Bubblegum styled partyrock in the style of CHEAP TRICK, JOEY C. JONES … Visit their website at:

(Points: 6.0 out of 10)


Out of Nashville comes JOHNNY VANCE. His debut demo tape contains 5 well-recorded tracks. Musically JOHNNY VANCE is similar in style to the melodic poprock of guys like BRYAN ADAMS, TOM KIMMEL, DANNY WILDE, STEVE STONE… I must say that the 3 tracks on side-A are pretty nice, while the two songs on side-B are pretty average. You got 2 good uptempo melodic poprockers titled "One dance (with Mia Farrow)" and "World won't end" (best one). A pretty nice melodic poprockballad is "Time stands still. Side-B contains two average tracks titled "Tug of war" and "Fifteen minutes". Nice demo tape, recommended if you like this kind of rock. More info on JOHNNY VANCE at:

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


I had to discuss this disc I got in the mail the other day. PAINFUL FAITH is a German band that is playing melodic heavy rock somewhat like VICTORY. This disc is not a normal CD, although you can play it as is, but this disc is a multimedia CD-ROM. Put the disc into your computer and you will get to know everything about this band as well as seeing two videos of the band. This is all packed in a sort of computer game with sounds and pictures. Very nice done by these guys. Even recommended to those of you into multimedia. Musically this is typical German melodic heavy rock. The band also sent me a promo CDR of the upcoming new album 'Illusions'. I don't have any information on this CD, so I think I can better wait with a review of that CD till I get some more info. In the meantime, visit the  website of this band at:

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


ALYSON AVENUE was a Swedish AOR band that existed from 1989 until 1997. In that period they were able to record 5 songs that can be found on this CDR. The recordings took place between 1992 and 1994. And how incredibly good these songs sound! This is pure AOR and I can't believe ALYSON AVENUE were never signed by any of the European AOR labels. In the 80s they would have been huge and probably signed to Virgin or Atlantic, but nowadays this kind of music is not really popular, but still labels like NOW&THEN and MTM MUSIC could have signed this band.

The band has a female vocalist called Anette Ohlsson and this girl can sing really well. She has a voice somewhere between Ann/Nancy Wilson (HEART), Sue Willetts (DANTE FOX) and TONE NORUM. And also musically the 5 songs on this CDR are up there with the top female fronted AOR acts. This band has a similar high quality AOR sound as DANTE FOX, HEART, the first two TONE NORUM albums, WITNESS… A must for the fans of female fronted AOR.

First track "Walk away" is classic female fronted midtempo AOR, very close to DANTE FOX. A fantastic song and hearing a song like this I can't understand why ALYSON AVENUE never got the attention of the AOR press back then. This is high quality AOR what I am listening to. I compare it to DANTE FOX, due to the female vocals, but musically it is even more pure AOR (like HUGO or something). And also the following 3 tracks ("I am no angel", "One touch" and "Perfect love") are all in the same style as the fantastic midtempo AOR sound of the opening track.

Only the closing track "Your love my mind" is a bit simpler melodic rock and is the only weaker track of this CD. But this band had a huge sound and a shame it never got much press until now. Although the band split up in 1997, they are planning to record new material for a possible CD release. So I guess we can speak of justice for all. Besides, keyboardplayer/songwriter Niclas Olsson has a new band which is probably also releasing a CD in the near future. In other words, the story isn't over and so maybe we will all be able to enjoy the great AOR music of ALYSON AVENUE.

Let's hope the new material is as good (or better which is hardly possible) as the songs on this CDR. This make me think that in the past I had a couple of other Swedish AOR bands that also only were able to release a couple of demo tapes. And these tapes sounded superb, but also these bands were never able to release a CD or whatever and so they also split up. I'm talking about bands such as DOUBLE DOUCE, RADIOACTIVE, PERSON TO PERSON and B. GARDS. The only difference with ALYSON AVENUE is that this band will eventually be releasing a CD after all, so wait a couple of months and then we'll hopefully all can enjoy the music of this fantastic AOR band.

A special thanks must go out to Niclas Olsson, the keyboardplayer and songwriter of ALYSON AVENUE, for giving me the opportunity to hear their music by creating a CDR for me with the songs of his band. I don't have a clue if he will be able to make more, but try sending him an e-mail at: for more details. Hopefully the story on ALYSON AVENUE will be continued in the near future.

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)


KICK is the follow-up to FREEFALL, an English Melodic Rockband that released last year a nice CD that got a good review in this magazine. I can't remember the CD so well anymore, but after listening to the debut CD of KICK (not to be confused with the same named American band that released the good AOR/Melodic Poprock CD 'Heartland' in 1992), I am gonna listen one more time to that FREEFALL CD, because this KICK CD sounds pretty good.

There are 11 tracks on the album and musically the band is playing a mixture of pure AOR and Melodic Rock. Only a couple of songs sounded average, such as "Up close and personal", "Another crazy summer" (weak lead vocals, a la BILLY IDOL) and "Bird of paradise". But the remaining 8 tracks sounded pretty good and very melodic. Included are uptempo melodic rockers ("Consider this…" and "Victory dance"), (semi) melodic rockballads ("Christmas" and "Blue"), midtempo melodic rock a la ZENO/FAIR WARNING ("Breathless", "Children of the sun"), DOKKEN styled 80s melodic rock ("Streets of shame") and even a pure AOR ballad a la JOURNEY, SURVIVOR ("Whispers in the dark").

So you got a pretty good record with this KICK. Not a clasic release, but just a good melodic rock release that is similar in style to other English melodic rockbands such as NO SWEAT, ROADHOUSE, VANDAMNE…

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


The girl is called JENNA and her CD contains 9 tracks which all fit very good in today's modern pop/rock sound. Opener "If it's love" has a nice 90s poprock sound and sounds like a cross between LENITA ERICKSON and JACQUIE. The following 3 songs are a bit much 90s based pop/rock and are closer to female artists such as JOAN OSBOURNE and AMANDA MARSHALL than the AOR girls of our genre. "Moving like water" and "Hardest thing" are nice (semi) poprockballads that sound very much like PATTY SMYTH (SCANDAL).

Then comes the best track of the whole CD which is the song "Wait for me". Finally an uptempo track, it is the only uptempo track on the whole CD. A pity, because this is the best track. "Wait for me" is a great uptempo 80s based melodic poprocker like SCANDAL did on their debut as well as some early PAT BENATAR references. Following track "All for you" is then again pure 90s based pop/rock, while closing track "See right through you" is a nice semi poprockballad like PATTY SMYTH. JENNA MUSIC is playing both 90s and 80s based poprock. I prefer the 80s style that is comparable to PATTY SMYTH and SCANDAL. For all info on JENNA MUSIC browse through her website at:

(Points: 7.0 out of 10)


CHARIZMA is a Christian Swedish band that has released many albums in the past. Musically they have changed a lot. They have played pure AOR, melodic rock, hardrock and almost metal. Now they have released a CD which fits in today's style, namely 90s typed pop/rock. Happily there are still some good melodies on the songs, although the music sounds very commercial and 90s radio based. There are 15 tracks on the CD.

Don't expect any uptempo songs, because the whole CD has that typical slow 90s rhythm. Comparable to the last PETRA albums. If you look at the record that way, there aren't many weak songs, because all the songs are in the same style. I prefer a more melodic rock orientated sound like the band had on their previous albums. But if you want to hear an updated 90s melodic pop/rock sound, you should try the new CHARIZMA.

(Points: 6.5 out of 10)


PHIL VINCENT is one of the hardest working people on earth! He does everything on his own, like all the instruments as well as the writing, producing and recording process of all his music. Besides, he also releases almost two CDs each year. In January of this year Phil released the fantastic AOR/Melodic Rock album No turning back' which got a very good review in our magazine. Now PHIL VINCENT has sent me an advanced CDR of his upcoming new studio album that will be titled 'Thunder in the east'.

Phil told me that this was his best work so far and after hearing the 13 tracks of this CDR I completely agree with him. The first 3 songs are really superb and pure 80s styled keyboard AOR like a mixture between BEAU GESTE, 1st PROPHET, WHITE SISTER and ARC ANGEL. A pompous AOR sound with many lovely keys and hooklines. The songs are titled "Guilty", "Fooling yourself" and "Friend of foe". These 3 songs are almost the best on offer in today's AOR genre. Right up there with a similar band such as HARLAN CAGE. You can't get more AOR than this.

After these first three classic AOR killers, Phil continues making more great songs, although not as sensational as the opening cuts. "When love is gone" also has pure 80s AOR keys, although this moves a little more into a melodic rockstyle. Next track "Into temptation" is the first song that didn't grab my attention, this is a nice epic melodic rockballad with some dark keys and a more updated 90s rocksound (not much though). Then comes the straight ahead melodic hardrocker "Keeping the faith" which takes the AOR almost away.

But then the classic 80s AOR sound of the first 3 songs returns on the songs "Eye to eye" and "Forever and a day". The first one is a superb classic AOR rocker with those lovely AOR keys again, similar in style to DRIVE SHE SAID ("Look at what you got"), ROBERT TEPPER ("No easy way out") and RUSS BALLARD (his 1984 release). "Forever and a day" is a classy AOR ballad with a huge keyboard sound and sounds like an AOR version of DOKKEN.

The CD continues with "Falling from grace", this is a nice midtempo melodic rocker, but it has not such a strong chorus. Following track "Keeping distance" is just a good uptempo melodic rocker. Then follow again two brilliant pure AOR songs titled "Trying to lose you" (another classy AOR ballad, DOKKEN goes AOR all the way!) and "Hard to say goodbye" (uptempo AOR rocker with a very strong beat). The closing track "Tell me again" is a nice uptempo melodic rocker with an AOR chorus that is been pushed to the back a bit because of the 90s sounding drumsound.

This CD has many huge pure AOR moments and I can already announce that this new to be released CD of PHIL VINCENT is going to be huge in the underground AOR scene if it gets the right promotion which I personally will look after. The official CD release will contain 11 tracks and will exclude the songs ""Hard to Say Goodbye" and "Tell Me Again". But no fear, because these two songs will be included on his 6th CD (the follow-up to 'Thunder in the east') which he has already finished!!!

Phil has done it again and very soon this monster Classic AOR album 'Thunder in the east' will be released on Song Haus Music who signed Phil to a three year contract on August 5. They will release 'Thunder in the East' in November throughout Germany, Belgium, Japan, Sweden, Brazil and England. And in January of 2000 it will be released in the USA.

There is only one thing you can do as a true AOR fan. Browse through the AOR ONLINE SHOPS and order yourself a copy of this classic piece of AOR when it is released. You will miss a piece of AOR history if you don't buy this CD when it is released. I don't know the exact date of the release of this new PHIL VINCENT CD, but visit the website of Phil at: for all the info. Also grab yourself copies of his 4 (!) earlier CD releases that also contain some great AOR/Melodic Rock!

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)


Out of Japan comes guitarist/bassist/keyboardist/drummer Hitoshi Nakamura. His CD 'Nightmare' has not officially been released I believe, and so I am listening to a promo CDR. There are 9 tracks on the CDR. Mostly it is instrumental melodic hardrock which is quite well played, but I rather prefer songs with vocals on it. And happily there are two songs on the CDR that features vocals. Kelly Simonz does these vocals. Kelly also has an own band called BLIND FAITH and their CD got a good review on this website.

Anyway, about these two vocal tracks. "Power of dream" is the best track of the whole CD. A great uptempo melodic rocker with also good vocals and guitarsound. This song sounds like a cross between FIREHOUSE and VELOCITY. I hope that Hitoshi puts more songs like this on a future CD, because it sounds pretty good. The other vocal track is "Broken dream", a very fast uptempo melodic rock/metal track with still a very melodic chorus. This song comes close to PRETTY MAIDS. Let's hope Hitoshi puts more vocals on his songs on a future CD. If you liked the CD of KELLY SIMONZ BLIND FAITH, then you must look for this album. For more info e-mail Hitoshi at: and visit his website at:

(Points: 7.0 out of 10)


The Swedish Melodic Heavy Rockband STORMWIND has just released their third CD titled 'Heaven can wait'. I never got the chance to hear their second album, although I heard the debut of the band that was a nice mixture between AOR, Melodic Rock and Metal, if I recall it right. Anyway, this new album is slightly heavier and more progressive than their earlier CDs. But with as vocalist Thomas Vikstrom you can hardly go wrong. This man has such a brilliant voice, probably one of the best vocalists that ever came out of Sweden. Also on this CD he proves to be an excellent singer.

There are 10 tracks on the CD, under which 3 instrumental songs. There are a couple of faster, but very melodic, uptempo melodic heavy rockers on the CD such as "Eye of the storm", "She", "Forever free" and "Ashes in your hands". These songs have very melodic vocals and choruses, while still being heavy and fast, stylish close to AXEL RUDI PELL and NATION. My favourites on this CD are "Heaven can wait" (uptempo melodic rock), "Mountain of Zion" (midtempo melodic rock with a slow dark rhythm) and the best track of the whole CD which is "Magic night". "Magic night" is a very melodic semi rockballad that sounds like a mixture between JADED HEART and EUROPE. This CD sounds very good, also the production by leader and bassist/guitarist Thomas Wolf is impressive and nothing can keep me from giving them a good rating.

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Japanese band that has released a mini-CD that contains 4 tracks. All 4 are in the Hard Rock style. This has nothing to do with Melodic Rock or anything, REVERB is a pure Hard Rock band that plays along the lines of bands like SAXON or other N.W.O.B.H.M. bands. The production is not really good, but check it out yourself if you like the old Japanese Hard Rock of bands like LOUDNESS, BOW WOW… via their website at:

(Points: 6.0 out of 10)


Avoid the long title of the album of this Canadian AOR band called CHAPTER 23, because some of you may think now that this has nothing to do with AOR. But CHAPTER 23 is very much AOR based, even more than most bands of MTM Music are proclaiming! The band consists of Don Nafe (drums, keyboards), Pierre Lauzon (lead vocals), Michael Hemish (guitars) and Allan Wilmore (piano, synthesizers).

The CD starts with "Big top", a nice symphonic melodic rocker. But things get really great on the next track "Shake down". This song features some classy AOR keys and is a very impressive midtempo pure AOR track that comes close to ROKBOX, SHAYLE and HONEYMOON SUITE. This is typical Canadian AOR. "Come what may" follows and is a nice AOR/Melodic rockballad.

Then comes the best track of the whole CD, namely the song "Mr. C". This track is reminding me of the great early 80s AOR/Radio/Pomprock sound of bands like LE ROUX, MPG… A great uptempo AOR rocker with many great pure AOR piano-keys. The song also reminds me of the independent band TANDYM, which is a band that some love and some hate (I love them personally), but a comparison to that band on this song should not be out of place. Anyway, "Mr. C" is a great AOR song and the band should make more songs like this on a next CD.

The CD continues with "Cold, steel and neon", an average uptempo melodic rocker. Following tracks "Shoot the moon" and "Catch 22" are both nice semi melodic AOR rockers (a la ROKBOX). Closing track of this interesting CD is the semi melodic AOR ballad "Can't stand the weather". This song has some lovely AOR keys as well as a fantastic pure AOR chorus. Reminds me a lot of the new FAITH NATION album.

No doubt about it that this band is very good and recommended to the AOR fans. If you like ROKBOX and that kinda Canadian AOR, you should check out this CHAPTER 23 for sure. All the info on CHAPTER 23 can be found on their website at: and for more info e-mail them at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


DAVE CROUCH used to play in a band called MR. TWO FACE. This band released in 1994 the CD 'No money'. This was a nice melodic hardrockalbum. After the band had split, Dave Crouch went his own way, while the other members continued under the name FEEL. FEEL released a couple of months ago a CD that we reviewed on our website. But now Dave Crouch has also released new material and I think it's better than FEEL. FEEL has a more Metal orientated sound, while Dave has a much more Melodic AOR rocksound. This can be heard on this demo tape I received from Dave.

This tape is actually an advanced tape of the upcoming debut CD release of Dave. 8 tracks are included. It starts with "Ghost lover", a nice uptempo melodic rocker. Next track "Behind closed doors" is a great classy 80s uptempo melodic rocker that starts slow, but gets uptempo and features a fantastic melodic guitarsolo. Followed by "Kiss me Katy", another great uptempo melodic rocker that has some BAD BOY/STEVE GRIMM BAND similarities. Only a shame about the saxsolo. "Time to time" follows, a poprocker that is nothing special.

The CD continues with "All the queen's man", a good uptempo and quite cheerful melodic rocker in the style of RICK MATHEWS. Following track "Drive" is a nice uptempo melodic rocker. The last two tracks are the best songs on this advanced tape.

"What's best for her" is a fantastic AOR ballad with some lovely piano-keys. This is pure AOR and reminds me of the REO SPEEDWAGON ballads. And "The innocent" is a great uptempo AOR rocker with lovely keys and a very melodic guitarsound.

Concluded, I can say that this upcomoing debut CD of DAVE CROUCH is one to look out for, because it contains good Melodic Rock material. More info on Dave through his website at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


RONEET is probably the first AOR/Melodic Rockband ever out of the Czech Republic. I think it's great that new melodic rockbands out of countries like Czech Republic are appearing here and there. The problem with bands like these is that the quality and the sound/production is not always good. This RONEET also hasn't such a good sound, but their music is good enough to listen to. The AOR/Melodic Rock of RONEET reminds me a lot of PRAYING MANTIS.

The CD counts 10 tracks and mostly the band sings in their own language. Opener "Time for heroes" and follower "My sweet home" are nice cheerful uptempo 80s based melodic AOR rockers. "Zahrady z kamene" is a nice melodic rockballad, while "1999" is the best track of the whole CD. This song starts with some JOURNEY typed AOR keys, while later it becomes a good uptempo melodic rocker, close to PRAYING MANTIS.

The following couple of tracks are nothing that special. "V tvych ocich" is a great melodic rockballad, while the following two tracks are nice melodic rock, but nothing special. The last track "Return Of The Shadow" ends this CD very nice and is again a nice uptempo melodic rocker

The CD started pretty good. The first 4 tracks showed that this band sounds good and also the track "V tvych ocich" was very good. But during the middle and at the end of the CD the CD has some weaker moments. Get all the info on RONEET at: or Go check out the first Czech Melodic Rockband. Now I am wondering if there are more melodic rockbands out of the Czech Republic, maybe more info on that later.

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


Guitarist/Vocalist Danny Masters comes out of Colorado and 'Electric Babylon' is his debut CD that includes many instrumental parts as well as vocal tracks. There are 14 tracks in total on the CD. Musically we can hear also a variety of music styles, although mainly the music is melodic (hard) rock based. "Scarlet heart" for example is a nice melodic rocker with good vocals of Danny himself.

A very good instrumental track is "Through the eyes of God", which is a semi melodic AOR rocker that really sounds perfect, only the vocals are missing. The best track on the whole CD is "Diamond eyes". This is a pure 80s typed uptempo melodic rocker in the style of the old MALMTSEEN, TAKARA, EYES…

Further there are also Hard Rock instrumental songs on the CD such as "Four horsemen" and "Black diamond run"), Blues based songs ("Texas wind" and "Baby blue") and even some 90s orientated heavy rock./metal ("The creeping from the east" and "Electric babylon").

Recommended if you're in for a trip into various musicstyles, from Melodic Hardrock to Blues, mostly instrumental. More info through their website at:

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


Early October will see the official release of the full-length debut CD of BISHOP, the project of Dean Morrison. This is a promo CDR that contains 4 tracks and after hearing them, I am very much looking forward to hear that full-length debut CD of this American band (or should I say artist, because Dean did basically everything on his own). The first track "Rock the system" didn't really grab my attention, a bit funky rocker like DAN REED NETWORK.

But next track "Keep one heart" is really fantastic. This song starts with some nice vocal harmonies and is in the classic 80s style. "Keep one heart" is uptempo melodic AOR rock, in the style of RICK MATHEWS, MICHAEL MORALES and NELSON (circa 'Life', 'After the rain'). I am not sure, but I believe it is the same song NELSON wrote and recorded a few years ago as b-side of one of their singles. Following track "Blue roses" is a great AOR ballad, close to the ballads of GARY HUGHES solo-albums.

The final track of this promotional CDR is "Overloaded", a nice midtempo melodic arena rocker with AOR influences in the harmonyvocals of the chorus. The song is a bit in the style of early ALDO NOVA. I can't wait to hear the full CD in October and in the meanwhile keep your eye on this BISHOP! For more info and listen to his songs at his website: and e-mail him at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Out of North Carolina comes this new American Melodic Hardrockband WULF GANG. They play pure 80s based melodic hardrock like a cross between DOKKEN, HURRICANE and ROUGH CUTT. There are 11 tracks on their debut CD 'Love ain't easy'.

The best tracks are "What I see" (a melodic rockballad), "Love gone bad" (pure 80s melodic hardrock with a very melodic guitarsound a la DOKKEN), "Gotta know the answer" (melodic rocker), "Don't walk away" (melodic rockballad), "Gotta go" (uptempo 80s melodic rocker like DOKKEN, JAILHOUSE, JESTER…) and "Yesterday"s dreams".

"Yesterday's dreams" is also the best track on the whole CD. This is a wonderful melodic AOR rockballad with a very strong chorus like FIREHOUSE, DAMN YANKEES… If you want to hear pure 80s melodic hardrock a la DOKKEN, ROUGH CUTT, HURRICANE… you should try this WULF GANG.

For more info and soundbytes, check their website at: and e-mail them at: or write to their postal address at: WULF GANG, 38 Douglas Avenue N.W., Concord., NC 28025, USA

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Another multi-instrumentalist. JEFFREY RYAN SMOOTS (shortened: JRS) is the name and this vocalist/guitarist/bassist/keyboardist/songwriter/mixer/producer (!!!) is coming out of Washington and his debut CD contains 12 tracks. Musically Jeffrey is playing a mixture of AOR/Melodic Rock and Progressive Rock with the addition of some Techno based Drums. Most of the time it sounds like a good melodic rock record, but my complaints are those drums that are a bit too hi-tech based, I rather some real drums.

But like I said there are some good songs on this record. Such as opener "Living", a good midtempo melodic AOR rocker with some impressive vocals of Jeffrey that remind me of the new FAITH NATION vocalist. Even the song has a little FAITH NATION vibe to it. Next track "Fade" is also very melodic, an almost AOR sounding uptempo rocker that has some great harmonyvocals during the chorus. These first two songs show that Jeffrey can play some good music.

Unfortunately the Hi-tech sounding drums are moving a bit on the foreground during some of the next couple of tracks. "I know", "Change" and "Pound" are good examples of how this sounds, also the guitars are moving upfront on songs like these, a pity because the songs are very melodic. It makes me remember of an other independent American melodic rockband I once reviewed called LIFEFORCE that played the exact same style as Jeffrey. "Never never land" and "Natural disaster" are also more techno progressive based, while still having very melodic vocals and choruses that sound really well.

The best track of the whole CD to me is "V" which is without anyb of those hi-tech influences, and is just a very good melodic AOR ballad that sounds relaxing calm and has some superb lead vocals. If it was up to me, I would have rather heard some more of such ballads of Jeffrey. Nevertheless, this CD contains some good material that is recommended to a fan of Melodic Rock with some light Progressive influences. More info through the website of Jeffrey at:

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


The Miami, Florida settled Melodic Hardrockband MACHINE MESSIAH features mainly members of the band FREEDOM CAGE (reviewed somewhere else). Their release is a demo recording and features 7 tracks. The first track "On my way" was also recorded by FREEDOM CAGE. This is a beautiful semi AOR ballad with some classy piano keys and very impressive vocals and a memorable chorus. This song is very melodic and catchy, definitely one of the strongest songs on this tape.

But where FREEDOM CAGE followed the same style as "On my way", MACHINE MESSIAH is slightly different and is more darker and groovier melodic hardrock without losing the necessary melodies. "Without you" for example is a nice more AOR orientated song, mainly due to the great pompy keyboardsolo. On the other hand "Wild fire" is faster uptempo melodic rock/metal that reminds me of MARS. If I must chose between FREEDOM CAGE and MACHINE MESSIAH,. I would pick FREEDOM CAGE as the best one, because they had stronger and more melodic rock orientated songs.

If you want your melodic hardrock with a lot of groove and a bit 90s orientated, you should try MACHINE MESSIAH first. All the info on MACHINE MESSIAH can be found on their site:

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


A hot new German melodic rockband formed around Detlef Andler and Wolfgang Frank. Both play guitars and keyboards on the 6 songs cut on this promotional CDR. At the moment the band is working on a complete CD and also looking for a label, but this advanced CDR gave me a good idea of this new band. Bassist Patrick Riedel and drummer Henning Lachmann (MR. HATE member) back the band., while the lead vocals are done by another MR. HATE member namely singer Carsten Schulz.

Musically FOREVER is playing very good melodic rock that is very close to JADED HEART. The band has found a good balance between uptempo melodic rockers and semi melodic rockballads. All the six songs sound very good and melodic and I look forward to hear more of this band, because these songs show that FOREVER is one of the better sounding melodic rockbands at the moment.

Songs like "Wasted times" (semi melodic rocker, very close to JADED HEART), "Spread my wings" (uptempo melodic rock), "The other side" (semi melodic aor rockballad like early TYKETTO meets JESSE'S POWERTRIP) and "The calling" (lovely JADED HEART kinda melodic rockballad) sound very good and should give this band the recorddeal they deserve. FOREVER would not be out of place on Z RECORDS. I only don't have a clue if that recordlabel would sign a German band.

I believe the band doesn't have a website right now, but for more info sent them an e-mail at: These 6 songs of FOREVER are a must for fans of JADED HEART. The quality and songs are as good as that German band and for people who can't wait for the new CD of JADED HEART, this FOREVER is a good welcome. Hopefully in the next coming months I can hear a full CD of this great new German band.

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Got this one dropped in the mail a week ago. CRUSH is an American Glamrockband playing in the pure 80s style of acts like POISON, CRUE, RATT and BRITNY FOX. But if you listen good to the 10 tracks on this CDR you can hear they have a more melodic approach than those 80s Glam/Partyrockbands. In fact, there is a great melodic rockballad on this promo CDR titled "Believe in me". This song sounds like a normal melodic rockballad, a bit in the WARRANT/WINGER style. The rest of the CD is filled with o.k. sounding uptempo party/glamrock in the style of POISON, CRUE, RATT and some PRETTY BOY FLOYD (more like the rougher Canadian named band that put out one album at the end of the 80s titled 'Leather and lipstick'). If you're into this genre, go out and crab a copy of CRUSH.

(Points: 6.5 out of 10)


ORDINARY MEN comes out of Canada and their CD release contains only two songs. "(I'll take the) Long way home" is a nice ballad, not too heavy but o.k. performed. And "Ordinary man" is a nice melodic poprock song. I don't know more to say than this, because I think you can better judge yourself about the two songs on this CD by visiting their website at:

(Points: 6.5 out of 10)


This American band is playing Hard Rock and it has really nothing to do with melodic rock, it's just basic old Hard Rock. It reminds me a little of a band called FARGO, a German band that recorded a bunch of LPs in the early 80s with this kind of rock. The only track that is sounding different from the rest is "All fall down". This is also the best song, a nice uptempo melodic hardrocksong a la EVERY MOTHER'S NIGHTMARE. Judge for yourself at their website: http://SURFTO/DOGMAN

(Points: 6.0 out of 10)


The American band SISTER CHILD was described to me as a melodic hardrockband with DEF LEPPARD influences. But after listening to their 4-track CD 'Siren' I came to the conclusion they didn't sound at all like that description. SISTER CHILD is a pure 90s pop/rock orientated band that has some alternative influences in their music. Not being a fan of this genre, makes it hard to review a CD like this. Happily the band throws some nice melodies in their songs "Trying to get back" and "So long ago" that have both chances to get airplay on the radio. Closing track "I don't know" is really not my cup of tea, this is pure alternative. If you're not ashamed of a more 90s based pop/rock direction, you should try SISTER CHILD. All the info on the band can be found on their website at:

(Points: 6.5 out of 10)


The American AOR band JUST JAY is the brainchild of Jason Gonzalez. This multi-instumentalist did almost everything on his own on the debut CD of JUST JAY. JUST JAY comes out of Rockaway, New Jersey but doesn't sound like it at all. This CD doesn't have the typical New Jersey sound. JUST JAY is playing Californian based AOR very much in the style of the JOURNEY albums 'Escape', 'Frontiers' and 'Raised on radio'.  The vocals of Jason are pretty close to Steve Perry.

Still I didn't find the CD a pure AOR album, because the drums sound a bit more like a drumcomputer and some of the songs have a hi-tech AOR sound (a la 'Images of forever' - JEFF CANNATA). Happily, towards the end of the CD it gets more into a pure AOR direction and then the JOURNEY similarity is hard to avoid. There are 11 tracks on the CD and like I already mentioned, the production is a bit weak and some songs have a poppy arrangement while still being AOR songs.

Musically JUST JAY is playing good AOR with some catchy tunes on their CD. The CD starts with "Starting over again", a nice midtempo aor/poprock song with a great chorus a la GREGG ROLIE meets JOURNEY. The following two tracks ("Stand or fall" and 'Forever") are a bit poppy AOR and move closer to the solo material of STEVE PERRY. "Hold on" is much better and has a catchy pure AOR chorus that contains elements of JOURNEY, THE STORM and STEEL BREEZE (circa 'Heart on the line').

Next track "Don't take it" is average pop/rock. "The groove song" is a nice AOR ballad that sounds like a softer THE STORM and the inevitable JOURNEY. The CD continues with "Can you read my mind?". This song has a nice vocal intro and is much more pure AOR like THE STORM. Next track "Holding the line" is very close to JOURNEY, great midtempo AOR though. More into STEVE PERRY territory is the semi AOR Ballad "Hear me". Then we get to hear the best track, namely "Lover's curse", this is pure JOURNEY circa 'Frontiers' and 'Escape'. This song has a fantastic AOR chorus. Hard to ignore if you're a big JOURNEY fan. Closing track "Change of heart" a nice midtempo AOR again like STEVE PERRY, JOURNEY… only not such a catchy chorus as the previous track.

Concluded I can say that if you're a JOURNEY fan you will not be disappointed when you buy this CD of JUST JAY. It's just that the CD is not pure AOR and contains some poppy elements (partly caused by the hi-tech drumsound). If I must give this a good description, I would say that this CD of JUST JAY is a mixture between the pure AOR of JOURNEY and the more poppy AOR of artists such as MARK SPIRO, STEVE PERRY and especially GREGG ROLIE.

In other words if you like everything from JOURNEY and related side projects of the bandmembers, then this CD is a must for you. For all the info on JUST JAY (including soundbytes) you should visit their website at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


ATELLO is a new melodic hardrockband out of Staten Island, New York. The band is named after lead vocalist Larry Atello. The debut CD 'The big payoff' has very good sound and production. No surprise, because the production and mixing of the CD was done by Jim Barg (BON JOVI, WINGER). Musically ATELLO is a bit harder edged than WINGER and the old BON JOVI, but it stays in the same musicstyle, namely pure melodic hardrock.

8 tracks can be found on the CD, starting off with "Love me down", a nice melodic rocker like WINGER and EYES in the late 80s. Next track "Emotional blackmail" is a bit average groovy melodic hardrock like LYNCH MOB, DOUBLE DEALER and MR. BIG. Following track "(You've got a) grip on my heart" is much better. This song starts as a ballad, but later turns out into a typical cheerful 80s influenced uptempo melodic rocker like FIREHOUSE meets DANGER DANGER.

"Your love" is also uptempo melodic rock, but is more in the style of TRIXTER and WHITE LION. A bit average MHR is "Full moon fever", while "Hold on" is the best track of the whole CD. "Hold on" is classy 80s uptempo melodic AOR rock like TORINO, DOKKEN and the first DANGER DANGER. Next track "Blind justice" is the fastest song on the CD, still a nice melodic chorus. Closing track is the titletrack and this song is one of the weaker songs on the album, a slowtempo heavy Melodic Hardrocksong.

ATELLO has a good sound and a CD like this stands above the rest of the independent recording bands, only not all the songs are convincing. If the band would make more songs like "Hold on" and "Grip on my heart" and throw in some ballads, they could end up as one of the best independent melodic rockbands at the moment. Get more info on ATELLO (including soundbytes of some of their best songs) through their website at: and e-mail the band at: ATELLO1@JUNO.COM or write to their postal address at: Atello, PO Box 60892, Staten Island, NY 10306, USA

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Swedish poprockers TWO PIECE PUZZLE are back with their third mini CD. Musically they are still playing poprock with some AOR influenced choruses. It's the good vocals of the female lead vocalist Anna Savhed that gave the music of TWO PIECE PUZZLE a very melodic sound that is 80s influenced but has an updated 90s pop/rock feeling which you hear nowadays on the radio stations.

The first song "Someone like you" is a bit poppy, but has an excellent catchy melodic AOR chorus. This could do well on the European charts with some good promotion. Next track "Too much" is a bit more in the 90s pop/rock tradition. The final track "Fall in love again" is a good ballad. If you're interested in hearing TOTO influenced aor/poprock with female vocals you should check this TWO PIECE PUZZLE. Also check out their two previous releases.

For all the info on this Swedish band go to their website at: and e-mail them at: or write to their postal address at: TWO PIECE PUZZLE, Jesper Ohlsson, Blavingegatan 29, S-23336 Svedala, Sweden

(Points: 7.0 out of 10)


Out of New Jersey comes DB ROX, a project formed around guitarist/vocalist Duane Belotti. This same titled demo tape was released in 1996 and contains 12 tracks. Musically it is pure melodic melodic (hard) rock that reminds me very much of the early 90s American orientated mainstream Arena rock of bands like FIREHOUSE, the third POISON, early SKID ROW, WHITE LION.

Mostly we get to hear nice uptempo melodic hardrock with as best songs "Inside my head", "Without you" and "No control", all very much sounding like good old WHITE LION. There is also some WARRANT/WINGER/TRIXTER orientated melodic rock ("Best I ever had") and a couple nice semi melodic rockballads a la HARDLINE/DAMN YANKEES/third POISON ("The road" and "Shattered"). A bit average are the partyrock influenced hardrocksongs "The strongest man", "Fantasy" and "Take it easy" which could have been on the old SKID ROW albums.

The best song on this tape to me is "Always". This song is great late 80s uptempo melodic rock like JOHNNY LIMA and 80s BON JOVI with some catchy harmonyvocals in the chorus and a very melodic guitarsound. More songs in this style on a future release would give DB ROX a much higher score. Still it is recommendable if you like the melodic hardrock bands such as WHITE LION and KEEL used to bring.

I believe DB ROX will release a new album soon. I was told this album is going to sound totally different and will see an alternative direction, so I don't think it will be interesting for us. For more info you should visit the website of DB ROX at:

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


PRIMAL HEART is a new American AOR band out of Jackson, Tennessee. The main members of the band are Robby Owens on lead vocals and Steve Pollock on guitars. The band has been influenced by the classic AOR bands of the 70s/80s such as JOURNEY, LOVERBOY, BOSTON, KANSAS… Their first CD is titled 'Just once' which contains 8 tracks.

Their self-produced CD has a very good sound. Opener "Just once (In my life)" shows right away how good this band is. A fantastic high-class semi AOR ballad that sounds like a mixture between JOURNEY and SAVANNAH. The song has a bit the MTM Music sound and wouldn't be misplaced on a future MTM release. Next track "The way you feel tonight" is a great AOR ballad that sounds very close to JOURNEY circa the 1980s.

Following track "Cinderella" is an acoustic AOR ballad that brings out even more the STEVE PERRY similarities. The CD continues with "Another lonely night", the first rocker on the CD. This 80s styled uptempo melodic rocker sounds a bit like BRITTON and TORINO. The band is better during the (semi) ballads which becomes clear on the following two tracks "I believe" and "How were we to know". The first one is a nice semi AOR ballad/rocker like JOURNEY meets SAVANNAH. The latter is a great AOR ballad that is almost an AOR anthem!

Following track "I need a miracle" is a short AOR ballad, while the closing track "The ghost of Elvis" is the second uptempo melodic rocker. Although 6 tracks out of the 8 are (semi) ballads, still this CD is very much recommended if you're into the AOR of JOURNEY and the last SAVANNAH album 'Salem's lot'. Because there are so many ballads on the CD, I would like to compare the CD with the releases of DAVE BALDWIN and BLUE RAIN. Those two CDs also contained many (semi) ballads and still were from a high quality and a must for AOR fans, so is this PRIMAL HEART.

Get all the info on this wonderful new AOR band through their website at: and e-mail them at: or write to their postal address at: Primal Heart, 25 Branch Cove, Jackson, TN 38305, USA

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


This is the third new CD of SHY this year. Neat Records is really pleasing the fans of the 80s SHY AOR style, because also this new CD 'Let the hammer fall' contains many classic AOR songs in the best 80s tradition. There are 12 tracks on the CD and almost all of them have the classic AOR style SHY brought us on their albums 'Brave the storm' and 'Excess all areas'. I guess you can say that this CD should have been the follow-up to 'Excess all areas' instead of the much harder rocking 'Misspent youth' back in 1989 for MCA Records.

Not all the songs are newly recorded, because some are older tunes that never made it onto an album of the band, but all of the included 12 tracks are unreleased. The first two tracks are not the classic AOR style I was talking about. "Let the hammer fall" opens and is a bit average midtempo melodic heavy rock that sounds very much like an other SHY song "Shake the nations" (from their 'Misspent youth' album). Following track "Steal me" is also a bit average, this is uptempo melodic rocker that is closer to the 80s sounds of RATT than the classic AOR sound of SHY.

But then comes "Maybe tonight" which really has the classic AOR sound SHY had on their 'Excess all areas' album. This song is an AOR gem. Just listen to the classic AOR keys! "Maybe tonight" is a beautiful AOR ballad in the best American 80s tradition ballads of bands like FOREIGNER, REO SPEEDWAGON, JOURNEY and SURVIVOR. Next track "Showdown" is the last average track on the CD, because the following 8 tracks are all in the classic AOR style of SHY and are bringing out the best this band ever did. In fact, I think this CD captures the best tracks SHY ever recorded. "It's over" for example is a classic midtempo AOR ballad with a superb classic AOR chorus.

"Why does our love have to end?" reminds me a lot of the early 80s relaxing AOR sound of FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS and DAVID ROBERTS. There are classic AOR keys all over this CD, because also "All your love tonight" is pure classic uptempo AOR with some lovely keyboards. "You're gonna lose her" is also great uptempo hookladen AOR rocker, although the hookline ("You won't even miss her till she's gone") sounds very familiar. I believe I heard it in an other AOR song of a different band (the TUBES song "Talk to ya later"). Still it's a great AOR song.

The song "Time after time" has a poor production unlike the rest of the CD. Though it is a great uptempo hookladen AOR rocker like FM did on their first album. Same goes for "Standing in the line of fire" that even has some references to the early 80s albums of sir MICHAEL BOLTON. The sing-a-long chorus of "Set the night on fire" sounds great, while the song is another uptempo AOR rocker. The closing track "Love is just another word" is a fine final track of a wonderful CD. This last track is a classy AOR ballad including beautiful piano-keys a la SURVIVOR.

'Let the hammer fall' is the 9th album of English AOR/Melodic rockers SHY and it will not be the last, because the band has reformed and will record a complete new album next year and maybe there will be another new CD released including more unreleased material. The future looks bright for this band and I can only add that everyone should get a copy of this wonderful CD.

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)


Finally the debut CD of New Jersey Melodic rocker DANNY DANZI has been released through the English recordlabel Z Records. Danny did almost everything on his own on his first CD 'Somewhere lost in time'. Besides playing all the instruments and writing the 10 songs, Danny also mixed, engineered, recorded and produced his CD. This man is doing ten jobs in one! He's not the first one in the music business, because also artists like PHIL VINCENT, BRYAN HUGHES, JEFF CANNATA… did almost everything on their own.

While listening to the CD you can hardly believe that everything has been done by one man, because everything sounds perfect and it's like you're listening to a band. Musically DANNY DANZI is in the style of the 80s New Jersey sound of bands like TOUR DE FORCE, 1st DANGER DANGER, PAUL LAINE (his debut), PROPHET, TYKETTO, FIREHOUSE… But in general I found the album sounding like the debut of TEN. In fact, the sound on the debut of Danny Danzi could have been the sound of the follow-up to 'Ten' if Gary Hughes and co. had gone a more polished and commercial way. Anyway, this DANNY DANZI is a classic in the 80s typed AOR/Melodic Rockgenre. Without any doubts it is one of the best records on the Z Records label, up there with SAVANNAH. The songs all sound super melodic and there are no fillers here.

The CD starts with "Save us", a catchy midtempo melodic rocker like the first TEN album. Next up is "Come to me", a superb uptempo AOR/Melodic rocker in the classy 80s New Jersey sound of the first DANGER DANGER. This song also has a catchy hookline, which many of Danny's songs have. The CD continues with "Lost without your love". This is the AOR killer of the whole CD. This brilliant uptempo 80s AOR rocker has a really superb cheerful chorus that you won't forget once you have heard it. Next track "Love me or leave me" is a good uptempo melodic rocker in the old DANGER DANGER style.

"Is love a lie" is a great midtempo melodic rocker like TYKETTO meets VALENTINE (USA). Following track is the titletrack, a good semi melodic rockballad. "All the time" follows and has again that classy 80s uptempo melodic rocksound DANGER DANGER created on their debut album 10 years ago. Then comes the only track that didn't grab my attention. The song is called "Dirty mean and nasty", a groovy melodic rocker like the first WINGER/WARRANT. Not bad, but also nothing special after hearing 7 wonderful melodic rocktracks. But why complain, because also the only CD of the band VALENTINE (USA) had such a similar track and the rest was classic melodic rock.

Next track "Dreams" was the only track that saw the additional outside songwriting of a guy called Andy Slostad, who also did some additional guitar, keys and bass on a couple of tracks. "Dreams" is a good semi melodic rockballad. The closing track of this wonderful CD is the instrumental melodic heavy rocker "Pop goes the what".

Concluded I can say that this debut CD of DANNY DANZI is sounding like perfect melodic rock album. A must for fans of VALENTINE (USA), the first DANGER DANGER album, early TYKETTO and the first TEN album. This album will probably get listed on our top 10 albums chart of the year 1999.

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)


'4tune' is the follow-up to the same titled debut CD of this very young AOR band out of the U.K. The new CD contains 4 tracks and so we can say that the band has released their second mini-CD, because their debut also contained only 4 tracks. Again the music is fantastic AOR and so after hearing 4 tracks you are hungry for more. Phil Elliott very well produced the CD.

Opener "Fields of fire" is a very catchy uptempo AOR rocker like the band's mini debut album. References can be made to NEWMAN, but only vocalist/guitarist Phil O'Dea has a better voice, while the hookladen song has much more power than their countrymen of the Escape Musiclabel. Next track "Pianoguitar" is an instrumental, like the title says an AOR dual between a guitar and a piano. It is the introduction to the following song "All that I have". This is a wonderful AOR ballad up there with ROXUS or early STRANGEWAYS.

Closing track "One more night (one more day)" is heavier in spots and is more like an uptempo melodic rocker with some good harmonyvocals. Concluded we can add that SUGARTOWN has released another great CD. Only pity is that there are only 3 songs on the CD, but they are all great, so no complaints about that.

If you like British AOR in the style of CHANGE OF HEART, early FM, NEWMAN… you should try this new CD of SUGARTOWN. Get more info on SUGARTOWN by visiting their website at:
In our next issue of the magazine an interview with this hot new AOR sensation from the U.K.

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)


Just before the end of 1998, I received the advance tape of the new album of the American band FAITH NATION. Now finally 7 months later it has been officially released in the USA by Sisyphus Records. An European release of this album is not certain, because we know what happened a few months back regarding this release. A shame, because this new CD of FAITH NATION is really a classic AOR release. 'Ordinary people' is the follow-up to their self-titled debut-CD which was released in 1997 and got a huge review followed by an interview with FAITH NATION back then in our magazine.

Now there is a new CD and again it is a fantastic release and a must for every AOR fan. This CD is better than anything MTM has offered this year so far. I think only the new HARLAN CAGE has a chance to beat this CD for becoming the best CD of the year.The line-up of FAITH NATION has changed a bit. Vocalist Chris Gilbertson has returned to private life but still writes for the band. Drummer Danny Roussin is now a session player for several acts, and will appear on the next Rick Derringer CD. Keyboardist Rick Helm recently did some shows as Tommy Tutone’s Keyboard player for his comeback tour!

The new line-up of FAITH NATION is as follows: Huey Peterson - Guitars/Vocals, James Salter - Lead Vocals (ex-THE BRAVE), Brian Owen - Drums/Vocals, Matt McClay - Bass/Vocals and Lewis Sego - Keyboards. ‘Ordinary people’ is available through Danford Entertainment, which is not an AOR label, although producer James Walsh has worked with Joe Pasquale, Melvin James, Billy Squier, and this past Summer did some Radio commercial work for Journey! So, the band has a new vocalist and although you can hear clearly the difference in vocal style, the music of FAITH NATION is still pure AOR with many great keys.

On the new CD are the same 10 tracks as on the advance tape I had last year, so no surprises for me. Opener “Arms around the world” has a bit an own sound, cheerful faster uptempo AOR with a great chorus and in this song we can hear many pompkeyboards! Next track “Make it all simple” is great midtempo AOR. Followed by one of the best songs on this tape, namely “Don’t leave me now”. “Don’t leave me now” is from a very high level and can be described as midtempo classy AOR that sounds a bit like Swedish sensation STREET TALK in a few parts.

Then comes “How can I?”, another fantastic classy 80’s uptempo AOR song. After hearing this song, I could not wait to hear the rest of the album. "How can I?" is followed by the AOR ballad “Love is an ocean” that has some wonderful piano-keys and brings back memories of the heydays of SURVIVOR. Next track “Ordinary people” is uptempo aor/melodic rock, but actually the first average song.

But the following track  “On the water” is again great pomp/aor with keys that remind me of the early 80’s and again a lovely chorus. Followed by  “When the love goes away”, a nice semi-AOR ballad. Then comes “Hold on”, a calmer AOR ballad The last track “Free” is uptempo AOR. Conclusion is simple, the new album of FAITH NATION should be bought by every decent AOR fan. It is a bit heavier in a few spots, but still as melodic as their debut and also a lot of keys are present! A must for the AOR fan!

This band deserves to become famous in the AOR-scene and beyond. Let’s hope this album will also be released in Europe. If that happens, it will be a different version than this CD. So, I guess you can say that this American release of the new album ‘Ordinary people’ will be as much of interest as the possible European release. For all the info on FAITH NATION, visit their website at:

(Points: 9.5 out of 10)


LAST TEMPTATION is an American heavy melodic rockband out of North Hollywood, California. The melodic hardrock of LAST TEMPTATION has some sharp bluesy guitar riffs. However, the songs and vocals are always melodic. The band is somewhere a cross between the old LYNCH MOB, CRYWOLF, MR. BIG, TANGIER and SILENT WITNESS. Not the polished melodic rock we usually get, but more raw and rougher early 90s melodic hardrock.

There are 10 tracks on the CD and it has been very well -produced by lead vocalist Robbyn Desperado Garcia. The album starts with "The devil is on my trail", a bit average bluesy MHR song with some SLAUGHTER influences. Following track "Can you feel it" is a typical MHR song that sounds a bit groovy, but has a very melodic chorus a la early TYKETTO. Next up is "Desperate road", a heavier MHR song that is a bit average. "The last mile" follows and this is a nice melodic rocker that has a lot of resemblance to TANGIER. Next track "Nobody said it was easy" is a nice midtempo melodic rocker like 80s DOKKEN.

Then comes the best track of the whole CD namely the semi AOR/Melodic Rockballad "Lookin' for real love". I checked the additional info on this song and to my big surprise I saw that on backing vocals appeared a girl called DONNA CRISTY. For the female fronted AOR fans there must now ring a bell. I remember a girl called DONNA CRISTY who released a fantastic AOR rockalbum titled 'People will talk' back in 1985. I don't know if this is the same girl, but it would be pretty much a coincidence to find her here singing backing vocals on a great song by a new Melodic Hardrockband.

Back to LAST TEMPTATION, I can say that the following two tracks ("Black cat moan" and "Save me some love") are both nice Melodic Hardrocksongs, while the closing two tracks of this CD are a bit too groovy and blues orientated for my ears and come close to BADLANDS. Last info I would like to mention is that the songs "Lookin for real love" and "Vodou man", feature guest guitarist, Roy Z (Bruce Dickinson, Tribe Of Gypsies, Driver).

However, if you like GREAT WHITE, then this may be up your alley. LAST TEMPTATION sounds pretty professional and if you are into bluesy heavy melodic hardrock in the style of bands like TANGIER, DOUBLE DEALER, old LYNCH MOB, you should check out this band. For more info, visit their website at:

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


This band consists of husband and wife duo of Norman and Amanda (Mandy) Stevens. After being married for two years, they also joined musically their forces in the American Christian rockband NORMANDY. The self-produced debut CD of NORMANDY is titled 'Denied' and contains 11 tracks. Musically NORMANDY is playing melodic hardrock with some 90s influenced rock.

Opener "Denied" is a good example of the mixture of dark melodic hardrock with some 90s rhythms. The next track "Superficial spiritual" is more 80s influenced Melodic Heavy Rock like a cross between the debut of SKID ROW and FIREHOUSE. Then comes a pretty good track titled "Who am I". This is classy 80s typed melodic rock with a very nice hookline and a great melodic chorus a la 80s DOKKEN. "Lead me home" take things again in a 90s direction, not bad though, but a bit dark sounding.

The heavy groove rhythm of "Wind of change" is something LYNCH MOB could have come up with a couple of years ago. "Rescue me" is the first song that makes me realise that I have been listening to a female vocalist all the time. Her vocals are very good on this piano based AOR/Melodic Rockballad. Next track "No more" has a very slow 90s rhythm, but the melodic harmonyvocals in the chorus are making this song better than it is, it reminds me a lot of KINGDOM COME. In fact, a lot of songs on this CD are close to KINGDOM COME, so if you like that German band, I think you have to look for this NORMANDY.

There are some progressive metal influences in the song "Living without you". The first real weak track is "No pain, no gain", heavy 90s rock and nothing for a melodic rockfan. Skip this track and following track "Denied", because this is the radio version of the opener of this CD.

But then comes the song I was waiting for and this is also the last track of the CD. Speaking of saving the best for last. "Heaven calling" is the title of the final track and this is sounding totally different than the rest. "Heaven calling" is catchy pure 80s melodic rock with some superb hooklines and a fantastic melodic chorus a la DOKKEN, MASTEDON and the first GUARDIAN. If the band would make more songs in this style, the band would have been a top act in the Christian melodic rock/aor scene. O.K. it is 80s sounding, but definitely a great song with some superb vocals and chorus, almost a must for the fans of 80s typed melodic rock.

I checked the liner notes of the CD and saw that "Heaven calling" was the only song that was recorded in a different studio, namely in the Pakaderm Studios of the brothers Elefante in California. No wonder it sounded so great and better than the rest of this CD. I hope the next CD of this band is more in the veins of their song "Heaven calling". Still, this CD is a nice welcome for the fans of more 90s based dark melodic hardrock while retaining the melodies and vocals of the 80s.

For more info on NORMANDY visit their website at: http://surfto/normandy and visit the site of their recordcompany Kalubone Records at:

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


Do not confuse this Canadian PANACEA with the other same named bands. This band hails out of Guelph, Ontario and their CD 'Tip of the iceberg' was released some time ago, in 1996 to be exact. Musically the band has a bit of an own style. There are influences from melodic rock, poprock and also pure pop.

The first three songs on the CD are pretty nice and rock orientated. "Take me away" is definitely their best track. This song is a good uptempo melodic poprocker. "More than the rhythm" is a nice melodic rocker, while opening cut "Nothing but a lesson" is a bit more in the 90s poprock tradition. These three opening songs sound pretty nice.

Unfortunately the CD gets a change in musicstyle after these first couple of tracks. In fact, the following 5 songs are at the edge of pure pop. Very average and songs like "Princess" and "Summertime hair" are very much acoustic pop like a mix between CSNY, THE EAGLES and SIMON AND GARFUNKEL. The only track worth mentioning further on this CD is "Unity", a nice semi melodic rockballad.

This band is actually playing two musicstyles. There is both melodic rock and pure pop on their CD. I think a future CD will give us a better view of what this band really wants. I hope they go melodic rock all the way and make more songs along the lines of "Take me away". Then they would be much more interesting. Now the band has too many popsongs to offer and I don't think melodic rockfans will find this band really interesting.

However if you're open-minded and want to hear some very calm pop based music and a couple of melodic rockers, then you should check out this PANACEA. For more info, you should visit their website at:

(Points: 6.5 out of 10)


Does anyone remember PHIL SEYMOUR? He released two albums in the early 80s that contained poprock in 80s tradition. BUZZ CLIC is a guitarist out of California. Buzz was an original member of the Akron, Ohio band "Rubber City Rebels" that released an independent LP on Clone Records (1977) and an LP on Capitol Records in 1980. His relationship with Phil Seymour was based on the fact that the two worked together a couple of years ago.

In fact, he did a tape of recordings made with the late Phil Seymour in 1991 ('Buzz Clic with Phil Seymour'). Unfortunately, Phil died before they could release this music, so it has gone largely unheard for many years. Buzz sent me a copy of that Tape Album and I must say that it sounds pretty good. This album contained pure 80s orientated melodic uptempo poprock. Songs of that tape like "Lonely one", "Faded dreams", "I think I'm fallin'" and "Wild one" are pretty good uptempo poprockers in the style of STEVE STONE, 1st SCOTT WENZEL, THE OUTFIELD, DONNIE MILLER, 1st TIM KARR, 1st MICHAEL MORALES etc.  You get the picture. Guitar driven uptempo Poprock with some nice melodic vocals and choruses, and songs that mostly are easy to sing-a-long and pretty short. A good album that is very hard to get these days.

Anyway, BUZZ CLIC has now released a new solo-album titled 'Yadang!' and this one follows the same style as the album Buzz did with the late Phil Seymour. Besides the already mentioned comparisons, this CD is a bit more melodic rock orientated and goes more in the direction of the early BRYAN ADAMS. Most of all actually this CD reminds me of the Chicago based band KEVIN LEE AND THE LONESOME CITY KINGS. If you like that band and other poprockacts like THE OUTFIELD, STEVE STONE, DONNIE MILLER… then you can easily buy the CD of BUZZ CLIC.

The best songs on the CD are "Young & dumb" (mix of AOR and Melodic Poprock a la early BRYAN ADAMS), "Holdin' on" (a bit slow tempo, but a very classy melodic AOR chorus, a mixture between TANGIER and 80s SAMMY HAGAR) and the melodic uptempo poprockers "Lonely one", "Fallin'", "Leave me alone", "You won't see me cry" and "This heart breaks hard" that all sound like THE OUTFIELD. There are only a couple of weaker tracks.

The CD is maybe not sensational, but still if you miss the 80s melodic poprock of acts like BRYAN ADAMS, STEVE STONE and THE OUFIELD then this BUZZ CLIC is a big recommendation. For more info visit the mp3 website of BUZZ CLIC at:

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


Remember XALT? This Christian Melodic Hardrockband was formed in 1987 and released one independent EP and two CDs. The last one was released on the famous Christian Recordlabel StarSong Records and dates back to 1991. Now after 8 years of silence the band returns and with a whole new sound. They used to be a pure Melodic Hardrockband in the style of XYZ, 80s DOKKEN, GUARDIAN, FIREHOUSE… When the grunge attacked the USA, they did a step back from the scene until now. But like I said musically the band has changed very much. They are now much more in the 90s pop/rock style. Happily, the band has enough good melodies to make it even interesting for the average AOR fan.

The CD counts 10 tracks and was very well produced by David Boyer. The band left the StarSong label after the release of their last CD 'History' and are now under the new Christian Recordlabel Kalubone Records (which also released the new albums of KING JAMES and NORMANDY). The CD opens with "Choose", a nice uptempo melodic poprocker with some AOR influences. The melodic vocals of lead vocalist Scott Doerfler are making this song so interesting. The song reminds me a little of the last NELSON album 'Life'. Next track "Future flyaway" is o.k. sounding poprock with a 90s twist, but nothing special about this song.

When hearing the next song "Security" you can hear the band has really changed musically, because this is really the most alternative 90s rock song on the CD. To be honest, I really hate a song like this, it reminds me of bands like REM, PEARL JAM and whatever. Happily, it is a very short song and the band returns to a more melodic poprocksound on the following track "Pizza driver". After another attack to sound like a 90s pop/rockband on the song "Helium blue gazebo", the band finally returns and keeps the melodic rocksound on the rest of the CD. "Love will" is a nice semi melodic rockballad with an updated 90s sound.

The following three tracks are the best ones on the CD. "Found a reason", "Winds of change" and "Witch hunt" are all uptempo melodic rockers that sound pretty good. "Winds of change" is a song that was written by Danny Wilde and I believe he recorded it himself also on one of his solo-albums, good song though! If the band would make a whole CD with the quality of these 3 last mentioned songs, it would have been much better. Now they have both about 5 good melodic rockers and some alternative sounding tracks.

I would say to the band to drop the alternative sound on a couple of songs and work out the melodic rockstyle created on songs like "Found a reason" and "Winds of change" for a next album. People who are interested in more info on XALT must visit the website of their recordcompany at:

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


A couple of issues back we reviewed the same titled debut CD of this American Melodic Rockband. Now DUKES NITEMARE has released a CDR containing six tracks that are going to be on their second CD, which is titled 'Willows'. I don't know when that CD is going to be released, but this CDR gives you a sneak preview of things to come from this band out of Charlotte, North Carolina. The production by Alan West is o.k. Besides six songs, there is also a live video which you can see on your computer when you install the disc into your CDROM.

The CDR starts with "All the way", a good melodic rocker with a nice groove and sounding like a mixter between NELSON, TRIXTER and a lighter FIREHOUSE (during the chorus). Next track "Willows" is a bit weaker and sounds close to the JON BON JOVI ('Blaze of glory'). But the following track "Come to my place" is very good 80s typed melodic rock. This song has very melodic guitars/sound and a catchy chorus which reminds me of the 80s BON JOVI sound mixed with NELSON and some KEVIN LEE influences during the chorus. This is the best track on this CDR.

"Yesterday" is a good semi melodic rockballad in the best American tradition of bands like SLAUGHTER, FIREHOUSE… "Love in the house" is the first average track, a groovy MHR song that didn't really grab my attention, unlike the previous songs. Closing track "Hello, goodbye" is the famous BEATLES song and DUKES NITEMARE covered it well in a more 90s version, although I had rather heard one more original song of the band.

Well, I don't know if this CDR is available for sale, but at least we know that the next CD of DUKES NITEMARE titled 'Willows' is going to be an interesting CD. For more information on this CDR and the upcoming CD 'Willows', check out their website at:

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


STONEBOLT was a Canadian AOR/Pomp/Pop Rockband that released 4 albums during the period mid 70s-early 80s. After they split up, the bandmembers went their own way and the only one I can remember is Ray Roper who released a reasonable AOR rockalbum on Long Island Records a couple of years ago. Now STONEBOLT has reformed in their original line-up and released their first CD.

The CD is titled 'Regeneration' and is a fine collection of what the band offered in the past. But there are also a couple of new tracks added. In total there are 16 tracks on the CD with a diverse range of music styles. You can hear pure AOR, pure Pomprock, 70s Pop, Funkrock, ballads and some melodic rock. But mostly the band is in the AOR/Pomprockgenre. This can be heard on the first track "Don't ya hide it", the best track of the band. This opening song is a classic late 70s/early 80s midtempo Pomprocker like STYX, ROADMASTER… "Don't ya hide it" captures the real Pomprocksound of the late 70s and to me this is high-quality rock.

Next track "Was it you" is a good semi melodic pomprocker in the 70s style of ROADMASTER. Then we get to hear the other side of the band, namely the 70s popballad "I will still love you". This song was the big breakthrough in the USA for STONEBOLT, because it hit the Billboard charts and reached the top 30. But this song has unfortunately nothing to do with our musicstyle.

Happily the next two tracks are again great and in the AOR style. "Extra mile" and "The love I found" are both newly recorded tracks and they both sound superb. Maybe the best STONEBOLT songs ever! "Extra mile" is a fantastic late 80s uptempo AOR rocker in the style of 38 SPECIAL, some SURVIVOR and ROADMASTER (like the new tracks of their reunion album 'Live+5'). And also "The love I found" is fantastic. This is an 80s power AOR rockballad that is similar in style to the 80s ballads of REO SPEEDWAGON, JOURNEY and LOVERBOY. 15 years back this would probably have been a number one hit in the US Billboard Charts. If these two songs are a sneak preview for a new album of STONEBOLT, then the future looks bright for that new CD. Let's hope they keep this fantastic AOR sound created on these two new songs.

Next up is an oldie, "Queen of the night" was the first single of the band. This song is not interesting for AOR or Pomprockfans, because it was a typical 70s popsong. Next track "Let's go back" is another power AOR ballad like REO SPEEDWAGON, only not as good as the earlier mentioned Power AOR rockballad. This song is the third and final new song on the CD and again pretty good. Following oldie "You don't care" is a bit poppy pomprock, but still captures a nice melodic chorus. Then comes the titletrack of their third album 'New set of changes'. This song was different than the other material of the band, because it saw a heavier melodic poprock kinda style. Still it is a nice track. "Going through the motions of love" entered a pure pop sound.

Also "Are you listening" contained many pop elements, but this song has a more Pomprock feel because of the STYX orientated chorus. But "Take the time", from their third album New set of changes', contained again the classic early 80s AOR keys, while the song was a good midtempo pomprocker like STYX. Next track "Rollin' down the highway" is a very good song and can be found on their 4th album 'Juvinile American Princess' from 1982. This song was cheerful early 80s hookladen AOR/Radiorock sounding like PRISM mixed with CHARLIE and Dennis DeYoung (STYX) on lead vocals.

"Crying again tonight" is a nice ballad, while "Lovestruck" was a bit soft and maybe the reason why it became a big US Hit in the 70s. Closing track of this compilation CD was "Price of love", from their second album 'Keep it alive', this was a very relaxing 70s AOR song with some influences of bands like REO SPEEDWAGON and BAD BOY.

When hearing this CD, I can conclude that STONEBOLT made quite some different music styles. They started out as a more soft westcoast/poprock kinda band, when changing towards a more Pomprock/AOR style on the second and third album (although this one was more edging towards melodic poprock), while on their last album this all came together. And now many years later the band has reformed and the new songs of this CD show a pure AOR style. And actually I think these new songs show that STONEBOLT is at their best when they play their music in an AOR approach. Let's hope the band will release a full new CD someday soon.

For all the info on STONEBOLT, you should visit their website at: (will be available very soon). If anyone is interested in purchasing the C.D. direct, in advance of retail carrying it (which may take several months for Europe)-they can get it now by sending 15.00 U.S. (includes shipping) to: Vortex Music, Suite #205-990 Homer St., Vancouver, B.C. CANADA V6B 2W7.

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


I was notified about this Irish AOR band by Marcel from Two Nerds Entertainment who told me this band was very good and I am glad he told me about them, because the debut CD of BIG GENERATOR sounds pretty good. This is probably the first Irish AOR band ever and maybe there will follow more, because the band has scored a major hit with their song "Sometimes" which is at the moment in the top 15 of the National charts in Ireland. The debut CD of BIG GENERATOR contains 12 tracks and was produced by Dick Kemper, who used to be in the Dutch melodic rockband NO EXQZE and VANDENBERG.

Musically BIG GENERATOR is playing a mixture between AOR (Foreigner, Terra Nova), Radiorock (The Promise) and poprock (old Bryan Adams). The CD starts with "Carry me", a nice uptempo AOR/Poprocker. Same goes for the next track "One minute", only this song has a great AOR orientated guitarsolo and comes close to the sound of THE PROMISE. Following track "Walkin' away again" is a good midtempo AOR/Melodic Rocker like the old STRANGEWAYS. Then we get to hear the first ballad, namely "Long way home". This is a lovely AOR rockballad like THE PROMISE and it also reminds me a little of the old VANDENBERG ballads.

The titletrack "On the line" is a nice uptempo AOR/Poprocker again. "Sometimes" is the big hitsingle of BIG GENERATOR, although this is not the best song of the band. Just a nice midtempo aor/melodic poprocker. Next track "King" is much better. This song starts with some pure AOR keys and ends up being a good AOR ballad with a lovely guitarsolo. Then comes the first average track, namely "Wake up!". This song was co-written by Dick Kemper and is a groovy MHR song a la THUNDER. Nothing special really. Can't say that about the next track "Rollercoaster". This is classic uptempo AOR/Radiorock like the first STRANGEWAYS album. This song also has a fantastic AOR hookline and is one of the best tracks of the band.

"You said" follows in a more average melodic rockstyle. The last two tracks though are showing BIG GENERATOR at their most AOR orientated style. "Spark to a flame" is a great AOR song with a very catchy memorable and super melodic AOR chorus. The style is somewhere between THE PROMISE and VINNIE KAY. And the final track "Don't walk away" is definitely the best track of the band. This song is a fantastic AOR ballad that reminds me of the ballads the Dutch melodic rockbands used to bring us. "Don't walk away" is very much in the same style as the ballads of bands like HELLOISE and VANDENBERG.

Concluded I can say that this BIG GENERATOR has surprised me very much with their debut CD. The AOR/Melodic Poprock is somewhere a cross between THE PROMISE, TERRA NOVA and TANDYM. The band has an updated 90s poprocksound, while still keeping an AOR sound. The first AOR band ever to come out Ireland is sounding great and is already big in their homecountry. What a start for a new band! Anyway, let's hope more AOR bands out of Ireland will follow.

For more info on BIG GENERATOR, visit their website at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

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