Friday, May 26, 2017

STORMBURST - Raised On Rock (2017)

STORMBURST - Raised On Rock (2017) full

AOR Heaven Records doesn't stop to surprise us with new quality bands in their roster and STORMBURST is just another little pearl who are releasing today, May 26, their debut on the label titled "Raised On Rock".
First of all, don't be fooled by the CD artwork: no, this is not a classic metal album. But you can use the 'classic' term here for a wonderful mix of Melodic Rock / Hard Rock spiced with lovely '80s-styled AOR keyboards.

Stormburst was formed back in 2014 by experienced musicians from the Swedish scene: bass player Kent Jansson and singer Lars-Åke Plåtis Nilsson where part of the really good band Keen Hue having released an adorable melodious album in the firt half of the '90s.
Thomas Hansson was the guitarist for Coastline, another Swedish melodic rock band with a solid album appeared in 2003. Then, to get the special sound that they wanted, Jansson called the keyboardist he met years ago when both were members of Six Feet Under: Peter Östling.
Finally, they recruited hard hitting drummer Peter Zeke Ytterberg (also ex- Keen Hue) to complete the line-up, and the demos were sent to several labels. AOR Heaven Records immediately signed Stormburst, and the result is heard today on "Raised On Rock".

"Raised On Rock" is a tribute to all musical heroes the members in Stormburst grew up with, and the style they love and played all their lives; classy Melodic Rock / AOR.
Opener "Show Me the Way" is like a mix of the first Bad Habit and '80s Styx, and you get instantly hooked by these guys. Smooth melodic vocals, keyboards galore and a catchy as hell chorus.

'Say You Will' is just another AOR gem with 'that' pumping midtempo verses adorned with synths, while the chorus harmonies are to die for.
I love the AOR atmospheres in 'Show Me a Sign' with a slightly British feel, then 'Touched by Love' is a superb ballad that bing to mind Moritz. Title track "Raised On Rock" offers more great melodies and nice lyrics for all of us who love this type of music.
If you need more rocking stuff, Stormburst provide balance with 'Under the Gun', a hard rocker akin Scorpions (much due to Nilsson's Meine-like vocals), and 'Give Me' has a bit of Treat or Fate in its riffs.

STORMBURST - Raised On Rock (2017) inside

And then the band delivers another little gem with 'All I Want Is You', one of the best pure Melodic Rock songs you'll hear this year. Put into the mix the first Harem Scarem, some Heartland and Scandi-like keys and you have it. A highlight.
The melodic yet more groovy 'Lost and Blue' bring to mind English band Daylight Robbery, then 'Restless Hearts' is just another terrific Melodic Rock / AOR midtempo mixing clean guitars with sharp riffs and a stadium-ready chorus. Another highlight in mere 2:47 minutes.

I am in love with Stormburst's "Raised On Rock". A band with a 'metal' name & album artwork but man, the music packed inside is first class Melodic Rock / AOR of the purest '80s caste.
From the songs structures and the clever yet classy arrangements to the awesome melodies, contagious choruses and pristine production, this will be, easily, one of my favorite releases this 2017.
Yeah, it's that good. Get you copy now.
HIGHLY Recommended

01. Show Me the Way
02. Say You Will
03. Under the Gun
04. Show Me a Sign
05. Touched by Love
06. Give Me
07. Raised on Rock
08. Chains of Darkness
09. Never Too Late
10. Lay Your Love on Me
11. All I Want Is You
12. Lost and Blue
13. Restless Hearts
14. I’m Going Down

Lars-Ake ”Plåtis” Nilsson (Keen Hue) - vocals
Thomas Hansson (Steam, Coastline) - guitar
Kent Jansson (Six Feet Under, Keen Hue, Steam) - bass
Peter Ytterberg (Keen Hue, Moonshine Highway) - drums
Peter Ostling (Six Feet Under) - keyboards



PHASE II PHASE - Face It (2017)

PHASE II PHASE - Face It (2017) full

One of the most relevant Melodic Hard Rock acts from the current Spanish scene is without a doubt PHASE II PHASE who released a very interesting debut some time ago. Now the band from Madrid are band with second effort "Face It", showcasing Phase II Phase progress from songwriting to production.

The original germ of Phase II Phase born in 2010 when Jose L. Gallera (Bass, Backing Vocals) and Jorge Gomez (Keyboards) quit the rock band Arianne to give shape to an own project inspired by the Swedish & Norwegian AOR bands which were part of their musical background during their teens.
Guitarist & singer Zalo Lopez, born and grew up in Stockholm but with Spanish origins was the missing piece to complete Phase II Phase's shape, and together started to write songs and track down some demos.
Since then, Phase II Phase has played the local circuit and opened for many major acts, such as Work Of Art.

You can tell that Jorge Gomez is the musical director in Phase II Phase as all the tunes are profusely keyboard-driven full of swirls and cand-floss synths straight from the Scandinavian book.
That classy '80s Scandi AOR / Melodic Rock sound of Da Vinci, Return or Skagarack are embedded on catchy numbers such as 'Madness', 'Feel The Heat', the highly melodious 'Open Your Eyes' or the pretty awesome 'Will You Remember Me' (a highlight).

If you need more punch go for opener 'Running Out', the anthemic 'Greed' or 'How Do I Feel' all with more guitar presence but always with melodic vocals / harmonies and synth background.

PHASE II PHASE - Face It (2017) inside

Mixed and mastered in Stockholm by Mats Ericsson (Degreed drummer) "Face It" is a really, really good classic Melodic Rock / AOR effort by Phase II Phase.
Not only the band have improved the songwriting on this second CD, but now the arrangements are much more focused and Zalo Lopez's accent is gone. Solid songs, catchy choruses, keyboards / synths in abundance... I'm in.
Fans of late '80s Scandinavian sound in this genre served with an updated production you should check Phase II Phase's new album now.
Strongly Recommended

01. Running Out
02. Feel the Heat
03. Greed
04. Future
05. Madness
06. Heaven and Hell
07. Where Do We Go
08. Open Your Eyes
09. Will You Remember Me
10. Oh, Lord
11. The Sign
12. How Do I Feel

Zalo Lopez (vocals, guitar)
Alfredo Clemente (guitar, vocals)
Jorge Gomez (keyboards)
Jose L. Gallera (bass, vocals)
Stelian Cotet (drums)



T'PAU - Bridge Of Spies [Remastered Expanded Edition] (2015)

T'PAU - Bridge Of Spies [Remastered Expanded Edition] (2015) full

T'PAU's "Bridge Of Spies [Remastered Expanded Edition]" was featured on this blog in exclusive when appeared two years ago. After the recent T'PAU 4CD Box Set presented here, some of you asked for a revamp of this "Bridge Of Spies [Remastered Expanded Edition]", as it become out of print soon and it's already considered a collectors item.

Lead by singer Carol Decker, T'PAU is one finest rock&pop acts emerged from UK in the Eighties. T'Pau's 1987 celebrated debut album "Bridge Of Spies" was reissued by Universal/Virgin as a 2CD+DVD Super Deluxe Edition featuring a remastered version of the original album, singles, B-sides, hard-to-find remixes, live tracks and previously unreleased demo sessions.

T'Pau' had a string of Top 40 hits in the UK in the late '80s, most notably 'China in Your Hand', 'Heart and Soul' and 'Valentine', and several hits in Europe before disbanding in the early Nineties. Decker still performs under the name T'Pau and released a very good new album in 2015 (presented on this blog).
From the outside looking in the T'Pau story seems to bear all the hallmarks of an overnight success story. The band formed in Shropshire in the UK in 1986 and were signed to a major label and recorded their debut album with legendary producer Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, Journey).

Despite the power of a major label and an A-list producer twiddling the knobs initially things were a little slow as ‘Heart and Soul’ failed to chart in the UK. The fortunes of the band would change when the single was featured in an ad for Pepe jeans resulting in a huge hit in the USA.
A UK re-release would provide the band with their first hit before ‘China in Your Hand’ would spend five weeks at the top of the British charts.
From a personal point of view, in the mid '80s my taste in music was fixated on melodic hard rock and AOR so T’Pau (oddly named after a Star Trek character) seemed to have some pretty good tunes and just enough guitars and keyboards to catch my attention. The fact that the music videos for the singles seemed to be on MTV every five minutes may have helped.

All of this brings us, finally, to the release of this new 'huge' expanded edition of "Bridge Of Spies" which was originally rumored to be happening back in 2012 but these things can take time. A band such as T’Pau and other 80’s acts that have recently received the deluxe style treatment is that the 1980’s were a maze of releases that kept any fan of the band on their toes.
If you wanted to own all the various mixes, live tracks and other oddities you might well need to buy the 7” single, 12” single, Cd single, 7” Picture Disc, 12” Picture Disc and maybe even a cassette single, all almost impossible to find.
In these modern times record companies / big box retailers have invented the Target, Best Buy, iTunes exclusive content… so maybe times haven’t changed that much.

The new release of "Bridge Of Spies" is a remastered 3 disc set; the first disc features a remastered version of the album with an additional 8 bonus tracks. This is very much an '80s album, mainly due to the production choices of the day, the drums have that crisp sound of the period.
The bonus tracks that round out the first disc include the single versions of their two signature hits, which is great for fans as ‘China In Your Hand’ was re-recorded for single release.
Other B-sides from the period include an energetic live version of ‘Sex Talk’ which demonstrates that the band could put on a good show.
Other hard to find B-sides are ‘On a Wing’ which benefits from spiky, rocking tremolo guitar parts courtesy of Dean Howard, while ‘Giving My Love Away’ is a neat catchy song that could have easily fitted into the album running time.

T'PAU - Bridge Of Spies [Remastered Expanded Edition] (2015) back

Disc two has a mix of live material from Hammersmith ’88 and a Scottish show from 1987 plus an overdose of ‘Heart and Soul’. No less than 5 more versions of the huge stateside hit are presented here including the US Radio Edit, and an extended remix which boosts drum & vocal tracks and is a must for '80s music fans.
The exhaustive selection of material on this disc is rounded out by two cover tunes as singer Carol Decker takes a break and guitarist Ronnie Rogers do lead vocal duties on ‘Walk Away Renee’, and the guitar driven, fun and frisky ‘I’m A Believer’.
The disc concludes with four demo tracks including the first official release of ‘Maggie’ which is a very welcome addition to the set. The DVD include six official video clips and the long out-of-print VHS live show from Hammersmith Odeon 1988 finally makes it to silver disc.

Universal and the band have done a great job of pulling this together. This Expanded Edition of "Bridge Of Spies" couldn't be more complete, including extremely hard to find material.
It has been very nicely remastered and the temptation that is currently plaguing CD releases of maximizing loudness at the expense of fidelity and resolution has thankfully been avoided.
There's plenty of headroom for the audio to breathe. It sounds superb, noticeably when keyboards tinkle and the drums sound fatter with better base.
A highly recommended release for all '80s music fans.

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrox

DISC 1: Bridge Of Spies remastered + Bonus
01 - Heart And Soul
02 - I Will Be With You
03 - China In Your Hand
04 - Friends Like These
05 - Sex Talk
06 - Bridge Of Spies
07 - Monkey House
08 - Valentine
09 - Thank You For Goodbye
10 - You Give Up
11 - China In Your Hand - Reprise
12 - Heart And Soul (Single Version)
13 - China In Your Hand (Single Version)
14 - Sex Talk (Live Single Version)
15 - On The Wing (B-Side)
16 - No Sense Of Pride (B-Side)
17 - Giving My Love Away (B-Side)
18 - Still So In Love (B-Side)
19 - Thank You For Goodbye Rides Again (B-Side)

DISC 2: B-Sides, Remix, Live and Demos
01 - Heart And Soul (US Radio Edit)
02 - Heart And Soul (Remix)
03 - Taking Time Out (Live Scottish Centre 29-10-87)
04 - Bridge Of Spies (Live Scottish Centre 29-10-87)
05 - Monkey House (Live Scottish Centre 29-10-87)
06 - You Give Up (Live Scottish Centre 29-10-87)
07 - China In Your Hand (Live Hammersmith Odeon '88)
08 - Heart And Soul (Live Hammersmith Odeon '88)
09 - Sex Talk (Live Hammersmith Odeon '88)
10 - Walk Away Renee (B-Side)
11 - I'm A Believer (B-Side)
12 - Heart And Soul (Dance Mix - 4 Twelve Mix)
13 - Heart And Soul (Beats And Rap Mix)
14 - Heart And Soul (Dub Mix)
15 - Monkey House (Demo)
16 - You Give Up (Demo)
17 - Only One Dream [Friends Like These] (Demo)
18 - Maggie (Previously Unreleased Demo)

Carol Decker: All Vocals
Ronnie Rogers: Guitars
Taj Wyzgowski: Guitars
Michael Chetwood: Keyboards
Paul Jackson: Bass
Tim Burgess: Drums, Percussion



Thursday, May 25, 2017

MARK SLAUGHTER - Halfway There (2017)

MARK SLAUGHTER - Halfway There (2017) full

Slaughter founder / vocalist MARK SLAUGHTER will release his sophomore solo album, "Halfway There", tomorrow Friday 26. The follow-up to 2015's independently released Reflections In A Rear View Mirror is a stunning return to form for Mark Slaughter, channeling the familiar hard rock sensibility of classic-era Slaughter releases like 'Stick It To Ya' and 'The Wild Life' with a mature, progressive melodic bent.

The lead track "Hey You" kicks off with a driving riff and a catchy melody that would fit nicely on 1992's The Wild Life without sounding dated. The album moves smoothly into “Devoted” which is a heavier, slightly darker sounding tune, before moving to “Supernatural,” a melodic catchy rock song with a killer chorus which has always been a staple of the Slaughter sound.
As a solo artist, it is apparent that this is a very personal album that Mark Slaughter has taken careful time in laying out.
This shows too on the title track of “Halfway There,” which is a well-written power ballad / arena anthem filled with personal emotion and with that early '90s feel.

It is important to note this album has great guitar work throughout wisely arranged to complement the songs. I mention this because it is brought to you by none other than Mark Slaughter himself.
Some people are unaware that before Mark was known as a lead singer, he was a shredding guitar player on the radar of Mike Varney who was known for finding the next big guitar heroes in the '80s.
For instance, there's some kick ass, heavier edged tracks in "Conspiracy", the frisky guitar-driven 'Turn It', and some progressive touches in "Reckless".

Then "Forevermore", while still offering a certain edge, turn on AOR accessibility in the melody and groove.Something similar comes with "Not Here", where subtle piano twists with lighter electric guitar and notable bass line before opening up for more ambitious riffs, leading to another sweet guitar solo at the mid point.

Mark Slaughter is a truly talented cat, capable to write a catchy stadium rocker or an elaborated, consistent song with hard / progressive overtones. And this is the core of "Halfway There", a mature mix of tunes cleverly arranged, performed and produced.
Easily the best Melodic (Hard) Rock you can get this month.

01. Hey You
02. Devoted
03. Supernatural
04. Halfway There
05. Forevermore
06. Conspiracy
07. Reckless
08. Disposable
09. Turn It
10. Not Here

Mark Slaughter – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, orchestration
Josh Eagan – drums
Jaymi “Pink Bassman” Millard – additional bass
Bill Jordan – piano on “Halfway There”



MARK SLAUGHTER - Reflections In A Rear View Mirror [Japan Edition +1]

MARK SLAUGHTER - Reflections In A Rear View Mirror [Japan Edition +1] full

MARK SLAUGHTER, lead singer of multi-platinum band Slaughter (and Vinnie Vincent Invasion among others) is about to release his second solo album tomorrow. It's a proper instance to revisit Mark Slaughter's previous solo CD from two years ago “Reflections In A Rear View Mirror” in its Japanese Edition including as bonus track a song recorded in 1991, during Slaughter (the band) heyday.

“Reflections In A Rear View Mirror” is mixed & mastered by legendary expert of golden '80s sounds: Michael Wagener. The disc includes 12 original tracks fully recorded by Mark himself with some additional help provided by long-time friends, notably the drums parts played by Mark Goodin.
Of course, and as expected, Mark Slaughter has recorded some first class American Melodic Rock in the great and timeless tradition of the Eighties era. His trademark high pitched voice is still charming and his songwriting skills strong as ever.

The opening 'Away I Go' is a full throttle groovy rocker, while 'Never Givin’ Up' display the complete radio-friendly arsenal with success… a real hit-single potential infectious tune that once more strikes it up a heavy musical notch or two.
That knack of writing super catchy commercial rock songs is still flowing for Mark Slaughter - just check out 'Somewhere Isn't Here', the contagious heavy funk of 'Velcro Jesus', or the jubilant 'The Real Thing' revealing another enthusiastic melodic mood and a clear focus to enjoy a good slice of American Rock n Roll.

'Baby Wants' slows things down to a mellow pace, something Mark Slaughter has musically thrived on throughout his illustrious career, and the craft of his songwriting abilities is again highlighted on 'Carry Me Back Home', an acoustic-driven tune full of harmony and melodic moments.
Another moment of mellowness, featuring guest vocals from Gena Johnson, is 'Don't Turn Away', the song having an almost countrified feel but, again, an incredibly worthy track on the tunesmithery front.
'Deep In Her Heart' reveals another interesting and unexpected side of Mark Slaughter’s voice and creative style.

The Japanese bonus track 'Peace For Tomorrow' is a must for Slaughter fans of their album Stick It To Ya, as it's a song composed and recorded during the same era.
A classic Slaughter midtempo tune with a Skid Row vibe as well, a track that worth the purchase of this Asian Edition for sure.

MARK SLAUGHTER - Reflections In A Rear View Mirror [Japan Edition +1] back

As its title suggest, "Reflections In A Rear View Mirror" is an homage to that iconic sound that had Mark Slaughter and his band ruling the airwaves back in the late '80s, with the necessary modern update.
This was the first delivery of new music from the Slaughter camp since 1999, and he has created what the fans wanted: feel-good melodic rockers and hooks to enjoy.
The style is obviously more mature than the famous Hair Metal anthem Up All Night, but the melodic hooks and catchiness are still everywhere on this very good record.
Highly Recommended

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrox

M A R K   S L A U G H T E R

01 - Away I Go
02 - Never Givin' Up
03 - Miss Elainious
04 - Carry Me Back Home
05 - The Real Thing
06 - Baby Wants
07 - Don't Turn Away
08 - Somewhere Isn't Here
09 - In Circle Flight
10 - Velcro Jesus
11 - Deep In Her Heart
12 - Peace For Tomorrow (recorded 1991)

Mark Slaughter - Lead Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards
Mark Goodin - Drums
Gena Johnson - additional Vocals on 7
Bill Jordan - guest Keyboards on 7
mixed & mastered by Michael Wagener



NAD SYLVAN - The Bride Said No (2017)

NAD SYLVAN - The Bride Said No (2017) full

Swedish (USA born) NAD SYLVAN - vocalist with Steve Hackett and Agents Of Mercy - has announced the release of his new solo album "The Bride Said No" for the 26th May 2017.
The album sees Nad joined by a myriad of talented guests including Steve Hackett, Guthrie Govan (Asia), Tony Levin, Jonas Reingold (Karmakanic), Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard), Doane Perry (Jethro Tull), Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings) & more.

Sylvan was initially a part of a succession of bands from the late '70s and onward, and was close to achieving real mainstream success with the band One By One in the second half of the 1980's.
Following this involvement he abandoned his band activities for many years, but resurfaced with the project Unifaun in 2008, and then went on to accidentally form The Agents Of Mercy with The Flower Kings main man Roine Stolt shortly after.
From 2012 he has also worked with Steve Hackett and his Genesis Revisited projects.

Sylvan's musical background is essentially prog rock, but "The Bride Said No" is also plenty of accessible melodies with lots of pop/rock sensibility in play. It is still a very proggy album, call it neo-prog with poppy orientation, and the real key to success is in the strong songwriting and excellent performances.
Nad has assembled a top-tier guest list that includes Tony Levin, Roine Stolt, Nick DiVirgilio, Jonas Reingold, Doane Perry, Steve Hackett, Guthrie Govan.
In fact, the duo guitar solos by Hackett & Govan on the track 'What Have You Done' are stunning.

But this is Nad's album, and make no mistake, he sings, he plays guitars, piano / keyboards and composes all the music.
Vocally, the album represents the best work of Sylvan's career. The dramatic approach that he is known for, is countered with more subtle moments. There is no better example of this than the beautiful and effective 'When The Music Dies', which is a tribute to the musical giants who have passed away recently.

NAD SYLVAN - The Bride Said No (2017) back

The title track is also a highlight, and is one of a number of songs on the album that feature strong female guest vocals courtesy of Tania Doko, Jade Ell and Sheona Urquhart.
In terms of style, songs like 'The Quartermaster', 'The White Crown', 'Crime of Passion' and album closer, 'Black Sheep', fit Sylvan's style like a glove. Really, that can be said for the entire album.
There is a confidence to the material and a strength in the performances that shows in the final results.

It is certainly progressive rock, but there is also a very accessible musical vibe to found throughout.
There is a true commercial, melodic sound to this album that is extremely appealing. Prog fans will still find much to enjoy, but they may also find themselves humming some of the tunes. To my ears, it is a very diverse album as well.
In many ways, 'The Bride Said No' feels like the work that will put Nad's solo work on the map.
Highly Recommended

1. Bridesmaids
2. The Quartermaster
3. When the Music Dies
4. The White Crown
5. What Have You Done
6. Crime Of Passion (Vampirate's Anthem)
7. A French Kiss in an Italian Cafe
8. The Bride Said No

Nad Sylvan - vocals, keyboards, guitars, programming, orchestration
Tania Doko, Jade Ell - vocals
Sheona Urquhart - vocals, saxophone
Steve Hackett - guitar
Guthrie Govan - guitar
Roine Stolt - guitar
Tony Levin - Chapman stick, upright bass, electric bass
Jonas Reingold - bass
Nick D'Virgilio - drums, percussion
Doane Perry - drums, percussion
Anders Wollbeck - keyboards, programming, orchestration
Alfons Karabuda - water phone

Pre Order:



DREAM EVIL - SIX (2017) full

After a 7-year hiatus Swedish combo DREAM EVIL returns with their new album "Six" to be released tomorrow. Despite once being sort of a supergroup when prodigy Gus G. (Firewind, Ozzy) and the multi-faceted Snowy Shaw (ex-King Diamond) were part of the band, now they lurk the scene in search for a place in the sun.
The Euro / power metal style has been pretty relegated in this Dream Evil 2017 in favor to a much more catchy melodic metal with hooky choruses.

Throughout their career span, Dream Evil has been rounding up clichés in Metal and Rock music and making songs out of them. Sounds pretty common right? It was done a lot in the '80s. Yeah, but now we are supposed to be more sophisticated right? So no, we don’t.
Dream Evil's music is still faithful to that classic '80s twists, and trust me that if those clichés are done good, you would fall for them in a second.

“Six”, in general, is no different in its program than the previous albums. It is amazingly produced, presenting the modern sound that has been integral in the band’s continuity. The musicianship has always been at top level, and it came to pass right here as well, those seven years were probably a warm-up exercise for the band, especially for Niklas Isfeldt, which his vocals had been missed all those years, and with Mark U Black back in the fold, an aspect that really leveled up the lead guitar carvings.

However, what has significantly changed is the overall direction in arrangements; less double bass drums and much more catchy melodic metal riffs.
“Dream Evil” (I’m surprised that they never used the band name for a song before) opens the album in a mid-pace manner with heavy leads and anthemic choruses. Follow-up “Antidote” is more Euro-power with trendy lines and some cool riffing.

But this 'new' Dream Evil appears in track 3 “Sin City”, which is actually pretty awesome. Replete with groove and hard rock feeling, this song shows that these guys know perfectly well how to create appealing and attractive music. The midtempo leads and the killer chorus should be replicated by these guys whenever possible.

Songs such as “Too Loud” and “44 Riders” put yet another seal of why the '80s were the ultimate years of Metal. No matter if the modern sounded pierced through the ears, the core is decades old and the machine is oiled, strong as it can be.
“The Murdered Mind” and “Broken Wings” both also have tha Eighties spirit but here mixed with a few contemporary moves.

Another highlight for me, indeed my favorite from the album, is the midtempo / ballad "Creature Of The Night", which seems taken from a late '80s Pretty Maids / Treat album. It's slow yet plenty of dynamics, strong vocals, highly melodious guitar lines and a superb production.

DREAM EVIL - SIX (2017) back

"Six" is a very strong classic melodic metal album sporting a stupendous production and killer musicianship. There's plenty of cliches (and some silly lyrics by the way) but darn, this is all so well done with catchy choruses and melody all over.
Strongly Recommended

01 - Dream Evil
02 - Antidote
03 - Sin City
04 - Creature of the Night
05 - Hellride
06 - Six Hundred And 66
07 - How to Start a War
08 - The Murdered Mind
09 - Too Loud
10 - 44 Riders
11 - Broken Wings
12 - We Are Forever

Niklas Isfeldt - Vocals
Fredrik Nordström - Rhythm Guitars
Mark U Black - Lead Guitars
Peter Stålfors - Bass
Patrik Jerksten - Drums

Pre Order:


RHAPSODY OF FIRE - Legendary Years (2017)

RHAPSODY OF FIRE - Legendary Years (2017) full

Italian pioneers of the sympho / power metal genre RHAPSODY OF FIRE have re-recorded their biggest classic songs of the 'Rhapsody' years (1997 - 2002) with their new line-up, titled "Legendary Years".
This covers the era when the band was simply 'Rhapsody', before changing the name to Rhapsody Of Fire due to trademark issues.

After a lot of turmoil and a number of recent line-up changes, the new look Rhapsody Of Fire lay their cards on the table with their new album, which sees the new line-up rerecord a number of classic tracks from the earlier part of their career.
Rhapsody formed originally as Thundercross in the mid 90s, changing their name for the 1997 album Legendary Tales. Founder members keyboardist Alex Staropoli and guitarist Luca Turilli were joined by vocalist Fabio Lione for a string of fantastic albums that took power metal in a symphonic and melodic direction, with albums often conceptual.

Amongst the rotating line-ups were often a second guitarist, either on stage and/or in the studio. More recently Luca Turilli left amicably and formed his own version of the band, but more recently vocalist Lione departed, and there has been a Rhapsody farewell tour featuring Turilli, Lioni and former Rhapsody Of Fire members Alex Holzwarth, Patrice Guers and Dominique Leurquin.
Returning to a one guitar line-up, here original member and keyboard player Alex Staropoli is joined by guitarist Roby De Micheli, bassist, Alessandro Sala, vocalist Giacomo Voli and drummer Manu Lotter.
The 14 tracks, running to 73 minutes, are taken from 5 albums in a concept land started on 1997’s Legendary Tales; while this encompasses many classics, it does omit some of the band’s best work.

RICHIE KOTZEN - I'm Coming Out (2011)tracks

Opening track ‘Dawn Of Victory’, a classic and catchy track if there ever was one, kicks off at a high tempo and the solid power of the vocals and guitar is evident from the outset. Imagine a Lord Of The Rings fight scene epitomised as an out-and-out power metal track you’d have it. Personally I would prefer the keyboards a bit higher in the mix. The vocal harmonies in the chorus work just as well as the original, the guitar work is blistering.
Rhapsody’s symphonic arrangements are evident on 'Knightrider Of Doom', big choruses, guitar work that is bold and melodic in equal measure.

Through 'Flames Of Revenge' (some good strings mid-song) and 'Beyond The Gates To Infinity' both take you through the moods and atmospheres of Rhapsody Of Fire’s concepts, and wonderful metal it is too. Likewise 'Land Of Immortals' which sees vocalist Voli fit in perfectly. Again the keyboards and orchestration are wonderful if a little low in the mix.
'Emerald Sword' is, like the opener, a stand out and longtime live favorite. This song is to Rhapsody Of Fire as Run To The Hills is Iron Maiden, or Whole Lotta Rosie to AC/DC – omission would have been criminal. While Voli’s vocals aren’t quite as operatic as Lione’s, he has the power, passion and range to do the song justice and make it his own. The guitar harmonies, like the layered vocals, emphasise the anthemic feel.

'Legendary Tales' opens with a harpsichord and woodwind, adding to the medieval sound, before the guitars whisk you away. 'Dargor, Shadowlord of the Black Mountain' is thematically an important track as Dargor was central to the later Dark Secret series.
The alternating smooth and grinding vocals in 'When Demons Awake' capture the mood well, and the guitar solo on this track is a real stand out. 'Wings Of Destiny' is a slower and more emotional track, but just as powerful. 'Riding The Winds Of Eternity' has a big production feel, 'The Dark Towers Of Abyss' similarly, and the polished sound is encompassing and enthralling.
Typical of the band’s sound, 'Holy Thunderforce' has the power and setting of a big stage show thrashed out by a solid melodic power metal band, the keyboard break shows how it can and should be done.

RHAPSODY OF FIRE - Legendary Years (2017) back

Arrangements and running times are a little too note-for-note to the original versions; amazing much as this music is, I feel that more individuality could have been made of.
The songwriting and arrangement of Rhapsody Of Fire’s music and their trademark big production usually more encompassing of the keyboards, choir and orchestra which some tracks could feature more of here.

That said, it’s a fantastic album and serves as to showcase the new line-up perfectly and act as a reminder of just how good the Rhapsody (as they were at the of this material) catalogue is.
Additionally, it serves as introduction to the band for many listeners.
Strongly Recommended

01. Dawn of Victory
02. Knightrider of Doom
03. Flames of Revenge
04. Beyond the Gates of Infinity
05. Land of Immortals
06. Emerald Sword
07. Legendary Tales
08. Dargor, Shadowlord of the Black Mountain
09. When Demons Awake
10. Wings of Destiny
11. Riding the Winds of Eternity
12. The Dark Tower of Abyss
13. Holy Thunderforce
14. Rain of a Thousand Flames

Giacomo Voli - vocals
Alex Starpoli - keyboards
Roby De Micheli - guitars
Alessandro Sala - bass
Manu Lotter - drums

Pre Order;


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

PETER GRAIGS - The Beginning Of The End (2017)

PETER GRAIGS - The Beginning Of The End (2017) full

"The Beginning Of The End" is full length debut CD from PETER GRAIGS, a multi-instrumentalist but basically guitarist with an obvious love for '80s hard rock of the American breed. A self-managed taht deserve to be listened for all fans of the genre.

Born and raised in Montreal, Canada but re-located to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, a young Peter Graigs started to play the club circuit as part of several bands since the end of the '80s. His musical heroes include iconic guitarists Randy Rhoads, Eric Clapton, Al Di Meola and legendary drummer Tommy Aldridge.
Graigs immersed himself in music early on and expertly mastered playing guitar, bass and drums. Unfortunately his career in music had to take a back seat, as he was sidelined for a decade following a traumatic parachute accident.

During the last twenty years Graigs worked as session musician, opened for several major acts, recorded an album with the band Scars Of Grace, and released some solo singles.
But it was time for his solo album, "The Beginning Of The End", where Peter recorded all instruments.
Then a skilled vocalist was needed and he found in Freddy Krumins (House Of Lords' Ken Mary drummer band Atlantis Rising, Heart's Howard Leese own band, et all) the proper singer to perform his songs. Krumins is some kind of a mix between Jorn Lande and a young Paul DiAnno.

And how about the songs? "The Beginning Of The End" is pure '80s influenced US metal / hard rock album, from the overall style to the sound & production.
Being Graigs primarily guitarist, this is a truly guitar-driven album plenty of stinging riffs and crunchy staccato leads, always with melody and at the service of the songs.

PETER GRAIGS - The Beginning Of The End (2017) inside

To mention influences, as example, you have some Fifth Angel in 'Numb Sleepwalker', a bit of Lynch Mob in 'Fighting Time', Impellitteri on 'My Eyes Bleed', the Americanized Loudness on the melodious 'Mesmerized', even some Chastain on 'Color Me Guilty'.
For a more hard rock groove there's 'Bad Dog' and 'Conquer My Fear', still retaining the edge. No place for ballads on this album.

Peter Graigs is a man of skills as it shows in "The Beginning Of The End": he play all instruments and very well, by the way. His arsenal of guitar riffs are varied, with a different set-up sound from song to song and delivering some hot, blistering solos.
What I really enjoyed on this album as well is the overall production approach: truly inspired in the second half of the '80s US metal / hard sound, that 'analog' vibe that work wonders with this material.
If you dig the influences mentioned above, you need to check "The Beginning Of The End".
They don't make album like this anymore, and I love this type of edgy stuff.

01 - Numb Sleepwalker
02 - Fighting Time
03 - My Eyes Bleed
04 - Bad Dog
05 - Color Me Guilty
06 - The Beginning Of The End
07 - Mesmerized
08 - Conquer My Fear
09 - When Silence Breaks
10 - Just A Dream

Guitars - Peter Graigs
Bass - Peter Graigs
Drums - Peter Graigs
Vocals - Freddy Krumins



BLACK SABBATH - The Ultimate Collection [2CD Digipak remastered] (2017)

BLACK SABBATH - The Ultimate Collection [2CD Digipak remastered] (2017) full

Remastered by Andy Pearce (Rock Candy Records headquarters), the 2CD Digipak "The Ultimate Collection" is BLACK SABBATH's definitive 'best of' ever.
Curated in conjunction with the band, the 31-track collection features the band's classic songs, including "Paranoid", "Iron Man", "War Pigs", "N.I.B." and "The Wizard" as well as choice cuts from their classic albums and is the definitive accompaniment for all Black Sabbath fans as well as those with a love of classic, seminal hard rock / metal.

Black Sabbath is arguably the most influential heavy metal band of all time. The band helped to create the genre with groundbreaking releases such as 'Paranoid', an album that Rolling Stone said “changed music forever.” Time magazine called Paranoid “the birthplace of heavy metal.”

BLACK SABBATH - The Ultimate Collection [2CD Digipak remastered] (2017) booklet

In 2017, Black Sabbath remains one of the most prominent acts in music. Performing for more than 45 years, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, has received two Grammy awards, 13 platinum and six gold albums in the U.S., and has sold more than 75 million records worldwide.

"The Ultimate Collection" is an excellent compendium of Black Sabbath's most celebrated era, that's being the line-up of Ozzy Osbourne (lead vocals), Tony Iommi (guitar), Geezer Butler (bass) and Bill Ward (drums).

BLACK SABBATH - The Ultimate Collection [2CD Digipak remastered] (2017) digipak

This isn’t the first Black Sabbath compilation. In fact it’s at least their eleventh.
But it’s the best ever released, from the excellent packaging to the awesome remastered sound.

CD 1:
01 - Paranoid
02 - Never Say Die
03 - Iron Man
04 - Black Sabbath
05 - Children Of The Grave
06 - Fairies Wear Boots
07 - Changes
08 - Rat Salad
09 - Sweet Leaf
10 - War Pigs
11 - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
12 - Hole In The Sky
13 - Symptom Of The Universe
14 - Spiral Architect
15 - Rock 'N' Roll Doctor

CD 2:
01 - Dirty Women
02 - Evil Woman, Don't Play Your Games With Me
03 - A Hard Road
04 - Lord Of This World
05 - Into The Void
06 - Behind The Wall Of Sleep
07 - Snowblind
08 - Tomorrow's Dream
09 - The Wizard
10 - N.I.B.
11 - Electric Funeral
12 - Embryo
13 - Killing Yourself To Live
14 - Am I Going Insane
15 - Wicked World
16 - It's Alright

Ozzy Osbourne (vocals)
Tony Iommi (guitar)
Geezer Butler (bass)
Bill Ward (drums)



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