In a recent post I mentioned reading Fireworks magazine during my summer holiday. Of course, I had a playlist on my phone to pass away the time on the plane and whilst chilling by the pool or on the beach. That playlist consisted of the following:
Gioelli- Castronova – Set The World on Fire
Radioactive – F4ur
Two Of A Kind – Rise
Killer Bee – Cracked Up
Guild Of Ages – Rise
Heartwind – Higher & Higher
Universe Infinity – Rock Is Alive
Mass – When 2 Worlds Collide
P.A.L. – Prime
Dare – Out Of The Silence II
Sister Hazel – Water & Wind EPs
The Senior Management – Heart & Soul
Daughtry – Cage To Battle
Airrace – Untold Stories
Hartmann – Hand On The Wheel
The album that really impressed me the most was The Senior Management. When I first read about the band’s country influenced AOR it didn’t sound all that promising, but maybe I should have remembered that Dark Horse are also a favourite of mine. I don’t know if there is such a thing as innovation in AOR these days, but adding a little country element to the mix certainly made this my fave holiday listen.
I’m not sure how I stumbled across this, but there seems to be a bizarre thing on YouTube called reaction videos where you watch someone watching a video for the first time. Quite a few of the ‘watchers’ seem to have chosen the live version of Nightwish’s Ghost Love Score from Wacken 2013, which I believe was Floor’s first concert with the band. Everything, including a light show that is perfectly synchronised with the music, just seems to combine to yield an epic performance.
Black Paisley have new album out called Perennials. There is a variety of styles on display, but all good. Keeps it interesting. I normally pick more uptempo tracks to showcase an album, but this time let’s go for the poignant album closer.
And talking of comebacks, what could be bigger in the world of Melodic Rock than Steve Perry releasing new music. You have no doubt read the reviews elsewhere, ranging from those that are content to simply love the new material because they love the guy and those that were determined to find fault regardless of the actual music. I watched the video for No Erasin and listened to the album a couple of times and to be honest it didn’t do that much for me. Then last Sunday I was doing a bit of web browsing whilst waiting for the rest of the family to wake up. Steve’s album must have come up in my Spotify suggestions and I put it on in the background. At some point in the middle of the album I realised that it was the perfect accompanyment to my web browsing on a that quiet Sunday morning with the rest of the house still asleep. So if you are in need of some music to chill out to, give Steve’s new album a whirl. It may not be the breathtaking event that we have been anticipating all these years, but feels like it is the album Steve needed to record.
Mentioning FM reminded me that I haven’t mentioned No Hot Ashes. These local guys have done well, despite the fact it took a whopping 34 years for this to see the light of day. The trials and tribulations have been worth it.
Earthrage sees Jeff Scott Soto back doing what he does best – melodic hard rock with a dash of AOR. The first couple of W.E.T. albums didn’t make the big impression on me that I thought they would. Somehow they sounded just too smooth. Nothing much has changed to the formula for this album, but it is working better for me. Maybe I’m just glad to see him taking a break from heavier material.
Stryper have a new album out called God Damn Evil. Since their re-emergence I have been quite a fan. No More Hell To Pay is one of my favourite albums. However, this new one isn’t quite doing it for me. They sound like a rather average metal band. Maybe more listening is required.
Not sure why I downloaded this for further investigation. Trash Metal just doesn’t light my candle.
Noturnall – 9
This starts off with the heavy “Hey!” and the following two songs are similarly heavy. Then “Moving On” shows a bit of light at the end of the tunnel mixing heaviness with a bit more melody at least in the chorus. Mysterious has the band in a more power metal mood and this is getting more listenable for me. The albums works for me until the end with possible exception of Shadows which get a little too heavy again. Overall the mix of styles made me wonder at times if I had started playing another CD by another band. Yes Mood Swings was created with the idea of liking a variety of styles, but the mix on this album isn’t quite working for me.
Riddlemaster – Bring the Magik Down
Like Nimrod B.C. I’m left wondering just that I heard here that might interest me. If you can remember back to the time when a few NWOWBHM that were influenced by Black Sabbath emerged. That is what I’m reminded of. If you are intro retro trad metal then might be worth a listen.
Secret Rule – The Key to the World
Another female fronted rock band. I’m not sure I can say anymore. Yes, if it comes onto the car stereo I’ll listen for a few songs, but probably not more than that. With the explosion of such bands it is a tough genre in which to stand out from the crowd. Whilst Nightwish usually keep my attention, I seldom make it through an entire Epica album, so Secret Rule had their work cut out in making a big impression on me.
Security Project – Contact
I’m at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to reviewing this album in that I’m not that familiar with Peter Gabriel’s career. Only Games Without Frontiers and Lay Your Hands On Me sound familiar. Oh, and there is a Kate Bush song in the mix as well. I have to say I wasn’t aware that Gabriel and Bush’s careers were in anyway intertwined. I’m guessing the target audience for this will be intimately aware of Gabriel’s output and collaborations. And that target audience may well be interested in the band’s take on these songs, but for the rest of us it has limited appeal.
The Radio Sun – Unstoppable
I have to say that I had reasonable expectations for this one. I remembered listening to these guys in the past. After a few songs I realised why despite the name being familiar, my memories were a bit a vague. The closest comparison I can have for Radio Sun is Last August’s Dream. When you put one of their albums on, I’m initially impressed, but my attention drifts towards the end of the album.
Vice – Veni Vidi Vice
Vice return after a 30 year absence. Right from the opening track it is clear we’ve got a Poison meets Motley Crue sleaze/glam/party rock thing going on here. Overall it is a decent album, with the first half of the album making the best impression. A cover of Steve Miller’s The Joker and a metal meets rap track called Turn It Up may have been seemed like good ideas but the Steve Miller cover doesn’t better the original and the Beastie Boys have already done the rap thing.
Wildness – Wildness
Reading the earlier elements of this post you might think I’m determined to have a downer on everything I post about today. Well, Wildness reverse the trend. This debut is a real gem that brings a smile to my face when it comes the car stereo. Up-tempo melodic rock meets AOR with a good combination of keyboards and guitars. If you like catchy tracks and are into bands like White Widdow, HEAT and Eclipse etc, then check out these guys.
Well that clears out my 2017 review inbox, with future posts concentrating on 2018 and newer releases.
So last year, around October I picked out a few albums for review. Only the Black Paisley review made it online. To close out 2017 properly, here is a series of mini-review of the other albums.
Carubine – Futuredream
I listened to a couple of tracks from this album and decided that it reminded me a bit of Extreme’s Waiting for the Punchline. That was an album which wasn’t too popular with Extreme fans, but which grew on me. The band, who hail from Stockholm Sweden, describe their sound as a mixture of Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Queens of the Stone Age and Foo Fighters. Reading that list of bands, it is clear to me now that the focus of the music is the grunge/alternative movements from the 90s, with perhaps some older progressive music from the 70s making the odd appearance. Hence, no surprise that rather than growing on me like Waiting for the Punchline, this one proved too grungy for my tastes.
Code Red – Incendiary
This album is a culmination Daniel Flores (The Murder Of My Sweet) persuading lead singer Ulrick Loonqvist, who started in Sahara in 2001, to put together a project showcasing his songs. The band features co-writers Morgan Jensen (Swedish Erotica) and Michael Palace (Palace, Big Time), along with lead guitarist Oscar Bromvall (Palace, Erika) and keyboard player Kaspar Dahlqvist (Shadowquest, Dionysus) to complete the line-up.
The album has a 80’s AOR feel, with bands with Foreigner, Journey, Night Ranger etc coming to mind. The first time I listened I was really taken as I love this style of music. However, during repeated listens the album hasn’t quite ingrained itself into my brain quite as much as expected. Possibly because the songs are a little one paced and, whilst they are all decent, they fade into one, making it difficult to think back and pick out standout tracks. Having said that, I’m always pleased when it makes its way to back to the front of my playlist on the journey to or from work.
Dante Fox – Six String Revolver
I have to admit that Dante Fox had faded from my memory, despite discovering them on Facebook and following them in the not that distant past. Eden’s Curse re-recorded one of the earlier albums with their new singer and I can’t remember if I made a comment on the blog about about it or not, but I do remember wondering what the point of the exercise was. Here Dante Fox re-examine songs from two of their early albums – “Under Suspicion” and “The Fire Within”. And this time I’m going to say I approve of the reworking. As I already own “Under Suspicion”, but haven’t listened to it for many years, I’ve got say that it is great hearing the songs again. They were good when that album was first released and they stand the test of time well and the new recordings sound good, albeit I haven’t gone a back to back comparison with the originals to determine if the new versions were really worth it.
Suffice to say that I’m enjoying listening this album and it is good to know that the band are still going strong. A pleasant reminder of a time when female fronted rock wasn’t a multitude of bands playing formularised symphonic rock with operatic vocals layered on top.
Empire – Chasing Shadows
This is a reissue of material by a band formed by Rolf Munkes in the early 2000s. In fact, this is the last album that the band released and saw Tony Martin being replaced by ex-Rainbow singer Doogie White.
Whilst I’m sure that I have a couple of albums featuring Doogie on vocals, it was only when listening to this that I realised that he sounds remarkably like a certain Ronnie James Dio. The album sounds like RJD era Rainbow and in part Black Sabbath. The overall impression I have of the album is similar to that of another RJD influenced singer – Jorn. Yes, I like the overall sound, yes, there are few tracks that are worthy of note, but after listening to this, I’m more likely to put on Rainbow, Black Sabbath or Dio, rather than give this another spin. Decent album, but its a tough gig trying to follow in the footsteps of a master.
Enzo And The Glory Ensemble – In the Name of the Son
I always like to give music inspired by the man above a fair shot and I really wanted to be able to give this a positive review. However, these guys have taken the rock opera theme too literally, yielding an album which is a difficult listen to. The combination of opera, discordant middle eastern music and metal guitar just doesn’t work for me and I end up skipping virtually all the tracks on the album.
Freaky Jelly – Reverse
Freaky Jelly sounds like the name of a song from a Liquid Tension Experiment album. Not sure if it is but I do know that it sounds as if these guys are heavily influenced by Dream Theater. In the Progressive Metal genre DT are hard to escape. I found this to be a decent album, but like many progressive metal albums, just a little to derivative to stand out. Hopefully next time out they can work on creating a more unique sound.
Into The Unknown – Out of the Shadows
Opening with a cover of Don’t Pay The Ferryman is an unusual move for a debut album, where I would have thought the idea would have been to establish your own identity. Elsewhere there is a cover of the Miley Cyrus hit Wrecking Ball. On the original tracks this female fronted band sound failed to grab my attention, which could have been as much to do with the somewhat tinny production as anything else.
Jessica Wolfe – Grounded
During my first listen to this I began to wonder how this had ended up in my review inbox. Given that I have a couple of Roxette albums tucked away in my record collection, perhaps it is not surprising. Jessica plays rock driven pop in much the same vein as Roxette and those catchy choruses will grab your attention during those initial listens. Further listens may have you wanting a little more variety and depth, but this one will play all the way through to end without me hitting the skip button.
Licence – Licence 2 Rock
This band rock out like we are back in the eighties with NWOBHM meets glam, playing mostly high energy material. Listening to this will have you feeling nostalgic, but the danger for this lot is that maybe next time you want to listen to this type of music you’ll dig out your old Praying Mantis and Tygers of Pan Tang albums instead.
Midnight City – Midnight City
Right from this off this album, featuring a band centred around current Tygertailz frontman Rob Wylde, made me sit up and listen. Add into mix that the songs were mastered by Harry Hess of Harem Scarem and produced by Mike Newdeck of Eden’s Curse and we have the potential for a good album. And that potential is realized on this throwback album which celebrates feel good eighties hair metal and party rock. Yip, fans of Danger Danger’s debut need to catch a listen to this.
OK, I’ve still got a few more albums to work my way through, and it is already March, so I’m going to post this as part one.
Apparently this album has been in the works for quite a while, but I wasn’t aware of it until recently. The background and history behind the album is closely related the band name. Take a moment to think about it and you might figure it out. The Dukes of the Orient refers to Asia. The band is a collaboration between former Asia vocalist John Payne and Lana Lane’s husband Erik Norlander.
As I write this I have only listened to the first three songs, but I’m impressed enough to wake from my Mood Swings slumber and actually write a post after several months of inactivity. Yes, it sounds a lot like Payne era Asia. No bad thing in my book, as Aria is one of my favourite albums, a great combination of pomp and AOR.
Malcolm Young, rhythm guitarist with AC DC, has died from dementia aged 64. Co-writer, along with his brother Angus, of some of the most iconic songs in hard rock, he was a key element in forging their trademark sound. Our prayers and thoughts are with Angus and the Young family.