Monday, April 23, 2018

JETBONE - Come Out And Play (2018)

JETBONE - Come Out And Play (2018) full

"Come Out And Play" is the just released new album from the dynamically named rockers JETBONE, their first on a major label.
Founded in December 2011 Jetbone hail from Sundsvall, Sweden, and wear their influences very firmly on their sleeves, this is classic rock / funky rock at its very best.

Jetbone sounds as if they’ve been listening to their parent’s LP record collection for years. They’ve stepped into the studio with strong enough material to record an album full of real swagger and exuberant musical twists and turns.
The band features two songwriting vocalists; bass player Gurten Sjödin and guitarist Alin Riabouchkin, whose contrasting phrasing brings light and shade to the band’s collective intensity.
They sparkle on expansive arrangements, catchy hooks, booming vocals and scintillating playing that contributes to, rather than dominates the songs.

Jetbone tear into each song with a real ferocity to suggest this is a one shot deal. The album derives its coherence from a rich production by Martin Karlegard and mix by legendary Stefan Glaumann (Backyard Babies).
Both the band and Karlegard place a high emphasis on a layered wall of sound and salient vocals, as evidenced by the funky groove of opener title track ‘Come Out and Play’ with some early Aerosmith swagger on it as well.

At times they explore a good old fashioned rock and roll vibe, but Jetbone is a broad musical church that brings together hard rock, blues, funk and soul with total commitment.
As example, on the smooth melodic-rocky 'It's So Hard' I hear some Eagles harmonies with that sunny, feel-good California sound. Love this tune, one of the highlights on this CD.
'Chickadee' add a lot of soul to the proceedings, but still the riffs rock hard, and the band are able to create great ballads as well as heard on 'Road In The Sky' with pianos, acoustics and deep vocals.

Clocking at only 2:21 minutes 'Lady' captivates with classic hard rock riffs, some kind of a mix between Led Zeppelin II and the more modern approach of The Answer.

JETBONE - Come Out And Play (2018) back

The first bars of 'Not A Fool To Cry' immediately brings to mind Lynyrd Skynyrd updated to 2018 with sweet bluesy melodies, while 'Don't Hold Me Back' rocks again with funky riffs and organ all over.

With their youthful age (the youngest just turned 21) and their true classic rock spirit Jetbone is just another proof that true rock n' roll is not dead.
Strong songs and a vital production makes this "Come Out And Play" a winner, ready to conquer the world thanks to a major recording label distribution.
No, timeless classic rock isn't dead yet.
Highly Recommended

01 - Come Out and Play
02 - Are You Ready?
03 - It's So Hard
04 - Chickadee
05 - Road in the Sky
06 - Lady
07 - Twisted Company
08 - Not a Fool to Cry
09 - Don't Hold Me Back
10 - Make This Song Together

Gurten Sjödin - Vocals, Bass
Alin Riabouchkin - Vocals, Guitar
Sebastian Engberg - Guitar
Rasmus Fors - Keys
Albin Linder - Drums



Sunday, April 22, 2018

GUARDIAN - First Watch [RetroActive Legends Remastered +2] (2018)

GUARDIAN - First Watch [RetroActive Legends Remastered +2] (2018) full

GUARDIAN is been a household name in Christian hard rock and metal circles contemporaries with Stryper and Whitecross, debuting in 1989 with this properly titled "First Watch". This Retroactive Records reissue has been freshly remastered by Rob Colwell of Bombworks Sound and features 2 rare and hard to find bonus tracks - the fist recorded by the band while still unsigned - produced by John and Dino Elefante (Kansas / Mastedon).

"First Watch" is the first official album of Guardian, released in 1989 by Enigma Records and produced by Stryper's guitarist, Oz Fox, who also contribute backing vocals.
This is the only album of the band to feature former members Paul Cawley (vocals) - later replaced by Jamie Rowe - and Rikk Hart (drums). Both left the band after the tour supporting this album.

Guardian‘s debut album "First Watch" was one of those Christian-based releases that really stood out back in the day. Following on the coat tails of bands like Stryper, this release found a warm reception amongst many fans of the style that seemed to blend both a Glam and Hair Metal influence with edgy Hard Rock / US metal.
To this day, it is still considered one of the more important releases in the Christian Rock and US Metal movements, and there are plenty out there that still remember some of the catchier and heavier tracks on here, and for good reason.

The album starts off great with the well done hard rockers “I’ll Never Leave You” and “Mystery Man” to appeal the mainstream hard rock audience. Both are among the best tracks off the entire release with opener being catchy enough that you’ll wind up singing the simple chorus to yourself over and over.
“Livin’ For The Promise” is a straightforward and mid-paced hard rocker with crunchy guitars, followed by “Miracles”, a classic '80s lighter-in-the-air power ballad filled with abundant harmonies.
“Saint’s Battalion” is heavy but melodic, a stylishly mid-paced rocker with very good guitar work and nice keyboards.

Three-minute arena metal anthem “Kingdom Of Rock” rocks with hyper-accelerated guitar riffs and intense low-end bass underpinnings. Great song where the guitar tones reflect some bluesy qualities.
Speaking of the bluesy hard riffs, “The Good Life” revels in it alongside the group's spotless vocal melodies, coalesce to make an infectious statement. All the while Cawley shines with his signature classic tenor charismatic vocal abilities.

“One Of A Kind” in contrast kicks up quite the storm with its Van Halen style party flair and loads of catchy rhythms. Here some of the album's biggest hooks rise to the surface and stand alongside pristine furbishing in the form of acoustic layers and atmospheric keyboards.
“World Without Love” proves a guitar harmony driven monster. Tony Palacios puts on a literal clinic throughout the song, as his churning riffs helps fortify the plodding verses.

“Rock In Victory” is another favorite, a melodic metal anthem front to back, with headlong guitars and keyed up rhythm section setting the irrefutable tone and copious vocal melodies lending a brightening (if not outright commercial) effect. Play this one loud as possible for maximum impact.

“Hyperdrive” pay tribute to the group’s space metal early indie days, as found in not only its science fiction themed title but also spacey keyboard arrangements. I particularly enjoy the closing lead guitar duel between Palacios and Stryper's Oz Fox, of which the latter gets the best of the deal.
“Marching On” moves at the more forward tempo, with its catchy hooks to spare and ample portions of guitar driven muscle turning it into another Guardian favorite. Of note is how Cawley lends an element of lower register grit to his delivery.

GUARDIAN - First Watch [RetroActive Legends Remastered +2] (2018) inside

The bonus tracks were recorded before the "First Watch" sessions, produced by John and Dino Elefante. “Spiritual Warfare” also touches upon space metal leanings, as an out of this world keyboard solo at the start and 'alien' sound effects complement galloping rhythms and shouted backing vocals to create a near classic.
“Marching On ['87 version]” does not differ significantly from its "First Watch" counterpart other than Cawley sings in a smoother classic tenor style instead. Besides, the song is so good it deserves inclusion twice.

"First Watch" put Guardian on the mainstream US hard rock map, plenty of well composed rocking tunes. Another plus going for this one is that the songs aren’t preachy, which is something very hard to find when it comes to any recordings that are based solely on Christianity, so you can take the songs as they are, or with your own perception of how the tracks are being presented lyrically.
This RetroActive Legends Remastered reissue sounds great, featuring the original cover art and two worthy, collectible bonus tracks.
Highly Recommended

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrox

01 - I'll Never Leave You
02 - Mystery Man
03 - Livin' For The Promise
04 - Miracle
05 - Saints Batallion
06 - Kingdom of Rock
07 - The Good Life
08 - One of A Kind
09 - World Without Love
10 - Rock In Victory
11 - Hyperdrive
12 - Marching On
13 - Spiritual Warfare
14 - Marching On ['87 version]

Paul Cawley - Lead Vocals, Guitar
Tony Palacios - Guitars, Backing Vocals
David Bach - Bass, Backing Vocals
Rikk Hart - Drums
guest musicians:
Brent Jeffers - keyboards
Leslie Fox - backing vocals in "The Good Life"
Oz Fox (Stryper) - backing vocals and guitar solo in "Hyperdrive"
Robert Sweet (Stryper) - backing vocals in "Hyperdrive"



GUARDIAN - Fire And Love [RetroActive Legends Remastered +1] (2017)

GUARDIAN - Fire And Love [RetroActive Legends Remastered +1] (2017) full

Freshly remastered from the original tapes, at the very end of past year RetroActive Records released "Fire And Love", GUARDIAN's finest moment, including an exclusive bonus track.

The second release from Guardian was something of a breakthrough for the band.
After being dropped from the Enigma label, they found a new lead vocalist in former Tempest singer Jamie Rowe and was signed to Pakaderm Records, the imprint label of the production sibling duo John & Dino Elefante (Kansas, Mastedon).
Fine songwriting, of course, also helps take things to the next level from how "Fire And Love" features 10 equally good songs characterized by ‘big guitars, big hooks and (and even bigger) choruses’ (as taken from the group's press material).

Nowhere does Guardian better exemplify this than on opening cut “Power Of Love”, a classic melodic hard rocker in which a ton of groove laden bass (courtesy of David Bach) and gritty guitar riffs (credit Tony Palacios) touch upon equal parts commercial and driving. Great, great song in which the group recorded a music video (I am uncertain if it ever aired on MTV).

“Send A Message” maintains the commercial leanings but in the more up-tempo package.bExuding buoyant energy front to back, the song paints the backdrop with some keyboards. Palacios literally melts the fret board with one of his trademark inspired guitar solos.

“Time Stands Still” tempers impetus with its airy mid-paced AOR qualities. Guitars might settle somewhat in the backend while keyboards play the more forthright role, with emphasis on the hook driven asserts. Standing out every bit much are the groups graceful backing vocals not to mention Rowe, whose gravelly delivery shines within a lighter musical framework.

Guardian can do the ballad thing as well as anyone, and such is the case with “Forever And A Day”. This one slows impetus even further, as keyboards play a more prominent role as does acoustic guitar (but not to a fault either way), while the eloquent lead guitar enhance the stirring atmosphere at hand. Of note is how the pronounced low-end makes “Forever And A Day” come across heavier than it actually is.

The album returns to upbeat hard rock territory on “Takin’ On The World”. This one kicks in to full on momentum from the get go, with a ton of heartfelt groove and dogged guitars (again, noting the Bach and Palacios partnership) allowing for a heavier edge but not without the silky Guardian backing vocals providing a smoother touch.

The album scintillating title track ensues and further play up the melodic hard rock qualities, albeit in not quite the same effervescent framework. The group’s penchant for catchy hooks and decisive energy, nonetheless, remains unchallenged, as does its inherent sense of the radio friendly.
Which leads to the question at hand: where was FM radio back in the day? Perhaps playing too much ‘hair metal’, while criminally overlooking an album in Fire And Love chock full of choice material deserving airplay.

“Turnaround” returns things to an up-tempo form. By far the album's heaviest track - the big background vocal driven refrain proves near mesmerizing in heightening energy levels further.
Slowing things to a mid-paced romp is “Time And Time Again”, bottom heavy and melancholy but accessible all the same, the song drips with emotion in switching between its elevated first chorus and darker and more resonant second. In the end, what we have is as fine a deep cut you will find that helps make a great album even better.

Speaking of which, “The Rain” is one of the highlights as the group's digs deep to take the bluesy aspects to the next level.
Final ballad “Never Say Goodbye” closes the album. As with everything here, Guardian performs it with a ton of class as acoustic guitar and hints of slide guitar convey the song its lush distance.

Extra track “Take Up Your Cross” - a studio song recorded shortly after Guardian signed with Pakaderm Records - is neither a muddy demo or second rate bonus track.
Rather, it is an album worthy blues based worship rocker upheld acoustically with ample does of harmonica and clasping hands.

GUARDIAN - Fire And Love [RetroActive Legends Remastered +1] (2017) back

Production might have been quite good to begin with, but the RetroActive remastering takes things to the next level. As is often the case with re-releases to older albums, volume levels increase to align with that of modern records with the upshot that much more detail standing out in the background.
Keyboards now comes across better defined, while same applies for acoustic guitar (on the two ballads) and bass (entire album). Guitars deliver added punch in terms of the foreground.

"Fire And Love" (1990) is considered by many to be Guardian’s finest release, and for good reason. Jamie Rowe brought a new level to the vocals, bringing the songs a strength I doubt the previous singer could have.
Featuring some fantastic crank-’em-in-the-car melodic hard rockers in the vein of GIANT, WINGER and FIREHOUSE this is a must listen for every melodic rock lover.

Exclusive - Only at 0dayrox

01 - Power of Love
02 - Send a Message
03 - Time Stands Still
04 - Forever and a Day
05 - Takin' On the World
06 - Fire and Love
07 - Turnaround
08 - Time and Time Again
09 - The Rain
10 - Never Say Goodbye
11 - Take Up Your Cross

Jamie Rowe - Lead and Backing Vocals
Tony Palacios - Guitars, Backing Vocals
David Bach - Bass, Backing Vocals
Karl Ney - Drums



JK NORTHRUP & DAVID CAGLE - That’s Gonna Leave A Mark (2018)

BLACK ACES - Shot In The Dark [European CD version +3] (2016) full

"That’s Gonna Leave A Mark" is the debut from the collaboration project JK NORTHRUP & DAVID CAGLE between guitarist JK Northrup (King Kobra) and vocalist David Cagle (Liberty N 'Justice) featuring some well known names from the Melodic Rock field such as Eric Ragno (First Signal, Dante Fox), Larry Hart (Montrose, King Kobra), Steve Brown (Montrose), Gunnar Nelson, Kelly Keeling, and more.

An interesting match-up here as guitarist JK Northrup is well known to hard rock fans for his work with King Kobra, Paul Shortino et al, however vocalist David Cagle will be a new name for some people, having recorded vocals for Liberty N 'Justice. And boy does he have a rocking good voice.
Joining these two are Larry Hart (bass), Steve Brown (drums and younger brother of Dokken drummer Mick) and Eric Ragno (keyboards).
The album was started back in 2014 but for various reasons hasn’t been completed and released until now.

Plenty of great rock to be had on here, from the opener ‘The Night Is Mine’ with its distinct classic hard rock feel and for those after a decent ballad look no further than ‘I Found You’.
Album closer ‘Chasing Ghosts’ is another top notch ballad, with sweet keyboard work from Ragno - he adds a modern feel with his keys on ‘Gone’ as well.

On the title track Steve Brown shows his skills with some great beats, whilst ‘For Sure Thing’ is an instant melodic rock hit on the ears, with Cagle’s vocals recalling Foreigner’s Lou Gramm.
Bit of a curveball on ‘Siren’ which has a funky groove, although the chorus again brings Foreigner to mind. On this one Larry Hart impresses with syncopated bass runs.

JK NORTHRUP and DAVID CAGLE - That’s Gonna Leave A Mark (2018)

JK Northrup keeps the old riffs coming throughout the rockier moments and plays a couple of sublime solos. The good thing is he never overdoes any solo and keeps it short ‘n’ sweet for good effect.
An entertaining melodic rock debut and hopefully we will hear a lot more from David Cagle.
Strongly Recommended

01 - The Night Is Mine
02 - Gone
03 - The Moment
04 - Can't
05 - Sting of Her Kiss
06 - Another Goodbye
07 - Honeymoon Is Over
08 - That's Gonna Leave a Mark
09 - For Sure Thing
10 - Siren
11 - Forever Starts Tonight
12 - Chasing Ghosts

JK Northrup (guitars, backing vocals)
David Cagle (vocals)
Larry Hart (bass)
Steve Brown (drums)
Eric Ragno (keyboards)
Gunnar Nelson - backing vocal on Forever Starts Tonight
Richard Kendrick - backing vocal on Can't
Kelly Keeling - backing vocal on For Sure Thing
DanZoid - drums on That's Gonna Leave A Mark



Saturday, April 21, 2018

RAIN OR SHINE - Seize The Night (2018)

RAIN OR SHINE - Seize The Night (2018) full

A new promising Melodic Rock act is coming out from Greece; RAIN OR SHINE, with their debut CD "Seize The Night" to be released by Lions Pride Music next April 27, 2018, presented in exclusive at 0dayrox.
The band put out the album by themselves some time ago, but now gets a proper international physical CD distribution plus a previously unreleased bonus track.

Seems that part of the globe is a fertile land for Melodic Rock / AOR groups molded in the classic sound of the genre, as recently heard from acts such as Wild Rose, Farraday, Kingdragon or Andy Rock.
Add Rain Or Shine to that list, as these guys have the talent for big things...
Actually, Rain Or Shine is the brainchild of musician, producer and sound engineer Steve S.R. who played in several underground Greek bands like Perfume and Backstage Love for the last ten years.
But one year ago, Steve decided to write his first own whole album.

Apart from his finely modulated lead vocals (very good English), Steve S.R. did everything from rhythm & lead guitars, bass and pianos to the synthesizers which are always all over these melodic songs.
The good thing is that on the entire album there are real drums played by bandmate Andy R. McCormick who also provided percussion and programming.

What we find on "Seize The Night" is pure late '80s / early '90 sounding Melodic Rock with Hard Rock / AOR touches, mostly crafted with an European sound in mind.
Skagarack, early Bonfire, Da Vinci, and alike come to mind listening these ultra catchy songs like the hook-laden riff of opener "Fool's Paradise", the pulsating bass lines / keys of "It's a Crime" (adorned with excellent female backing vocals during the chorus) or the AORish "Heartbreak".
I hear some Europe and perhaps some Gary Hughes / Ten on the awesome groove of "Believe", then title track "Seize The Night" gets harder yet melodious as hell, same as "All That Really Matters".

"Spell I'm Under" is not a Winger cover, but a great midtempo melodic rocker which turns AOR during the highly harmonized chorus (again with effective female backing vocals).
Yes, of course, we have ballads; "Don't Go" is an elegant, acoustic / electric guitar filled tune orchestrated by beautiful keyboards, and "Don't Give Up" is the vehicle for Steve S.R. to showcase his talents just with piano, background synths and his lead vocals, although there's a short electric guitar solo near the end.

RAIN OR SHINE - Seize The Night (2018) inside

Rain Or Shine has delivered and incredibly effective record on "Seize The Night". Evidently, Steve S.R. not only knows how to write & arrange a pure Melodic Rock tune in the classic style, he also is a very good producer / sound engineer as the sound of "Seize The Night" is bright and dynamic.
Let's hope Steve S.R. assemble a full band soon and start to play live, as all the songs on this CD deserve to be cranked at big venues.
Fans of classic Melodic Rock / AOR, I strongly advise you; don't miss Rain Or Shine's "Seize The Night".
Highly Recommended

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrox

01 - Fool's Paradise
02 - It's a Crime
03 - Believe
04 - Heartbreak
05 - Seize The Night
06 - Don't Go
07 - Spell I'm Under
08 - Don't Give Up
09 - All That Really Matters
10 - Believe (Acoustic Bonus Track)

Steve S.R. - Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Synths
Andy R. McCormick - Drums, Percussion



STAGE DOLLS - Commandos [digitally remastered]

STAGE DOLLS - Commandos [digitally remastered] full

STAGE DOLLS are one of the finest Melodic Rock / AOR bands Norway / Scandinavia produced in the '80s, and still continue creating superb music now. One of you asked for remastered versions of their albums, and the truth is the only digitally remastered is this "Commandos" which, in my humble opinion, is their finest moment.

"Commandos" is Stage Dolls second album, and the one where they started to shape their sound to appeal the US market, still retaining that classy Scandinavian AOR feel.
Apart from the catchy, elegant melodic nature of the songs, Stage Dolls found in exquisite producer Bjoern Nessjoe the key to create that characteristic ultra-precise, super-slick production sound. Nessjoe also shaped TNT's sound for the American market on their awesome Intuition album.

STAGE DOLLS - Commandos [digitally remastered] booklet

"Commandos" is pure '86 AOR magic.
All songs are real pearls: 'Heart To Heart' is an example of mid-Eighties perfect midtempo AOR, title track 'Commandos' has all that feeling of the era with a delicious chorus, there's great atmosphere in 'Yesterday's Rain', a lesson in smooth Melodic Rock can be found in 'Young Hearts', while 'Rock You' is a killer tune made for the arenas.

'Magic' offers some magic indeed, 'Who's Lonely Now' reminds me of British AOR from the era with, again, another top class chorus.
There's lots of elegance in 'America', and 'Don't Look Back' end the album with class.

STAGE DOLLS - Commandos [digitally remastered] back

With their next, self-titled album (a very good one as well) Stage Dolls finally found success in the US, but "Commandos" always will be my favorite: it's so mid-80s.
For years impossible to find on CD, finally justice was done with this digitally remastered reissue, very well balanced and retaining the dynamics of the original recording.

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrox

01 - Prelude
02 - Heart To Heart
03 - Commandos
04 - Yesterday's Rain
05 - Young Hearts
06 - Rock You
07 - Magic
08 - Who's Lonely Now
09 - America
10 - Don't Look Back

Guitar, Lead Vocals – Torstein Flakne
Bass, Vocals – Terje Storli
Drums – Steinar Krokstad



GRAND DESIGN - Idolizer [Remastered & Remixed] (2018)

GRAND DESIGN - Idolizer [Remastered & Remixed] (2018) full

Swedish melodic rockers GRAND DESIGN have their new album out and are ready to play both MelodicRock Fest USA & Scandinavia in May 2018. But also the band has their 2011 album “Idolizer” freshly Remastered & Remixed 2018, re-released with new cover artwork as well.

Originally released October 28, 2011, via AOR Heaven Records, “Idolizer” was the natural follow-up to the debut album 'Time Elevation', providing an even more refined dose of hook-laden '80s melodic hard rock with sing-along choruses such as “Get On With The Action”, Let’s Rawk The Night” and “Rock Back To The 80s”.

When the agreement with the band’s former label ended, the album was discontinued and has since then been a sought-after item, with copies being sold for over $100.
Now, it's finally available again.
Re-released by Sharp Music Sweden and only available digitally for the moment, “Idolizer” has been slightly updated in a few spots.

Three of the songs feature new guitar solos by current Grand Design guitarist, Janne Stark, and “You’re Love’s A Runaway” feature guest backing vocals by Susie Päivärinta, from the '80s pop hitmakers Lili & Susie.

Several bands have issued albums in the past years with a strong Def Leppard influence, 7th Heaven and Wildstreet immediately come to mind, but nobody has been able to accomplish the task as well as Grand Design has.
Again, they have taken the best of Pyromania, Hysteria and Adrenalize, but this time adding some new modern approach, mixed them into their own concoction, and the result is “Idolizer”, a lovely, catchy rockin' album.
This new remix add a little more guitar presence on some tracks, while on others the ton of layered harmony vocals are even bigger.
Highly Recommended

01 - Get on with the Action
02 - Change Me Up
03 - Oughtograugh (2017 Version)
04 - Your Love's a Runaway (2017 Version feat Susie Päivärinta)
05 - Stealin' My Love
06 - Let's Rawk the Night
07 - Addiction for Love
08 - Idolize Me
09 - Rock Back to the 80s
10 - You're Gonna Dig on It (2017 Version)

Pelle Saether - Vocals
Janne Stark - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Dennis Vestman - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Stefan - Bass
Perra - Drums



Friday, April 20, 2018

STEVIE McLAUGHLIN - Toy Empires (2018)

STEVIE McLAUGHLIN - Toy Empires (2018) full

Irish guitarist STEVIE McLAUGHLIN is releasing today his first solo effort titled "Toy Empires". If the name doesn't ring a bell, he is part of UK metallers Sandstone, IronHeart and served as touring guitarist for the former Judas Priest singer Tim Ripper Owens.
McLaughlin is a skilled musician, and not only perfomed all instruments here but also handled lead vocals, and very well if you ask me.

For once, the press release perfectly describes what the promoted album is all about; "Toy Empires" is Melodic Progressive Hard Rock. Exactly.
These elaborated compositions at places feel like a melodic hard rock track, but McLaughlin adds unexpected twists such as progressive scales, light proggy atmospheres and riff-heavy groovy passages.
Starting with the heavy pounding rhythm and snake charmer melodies of 'Between Life and Death', McLaughlin shows that he is ready for business, and prepared to deliver a killer album.

Next, 'Shadows Alone' start with classic piano work, shifting into the driving thoughtful song that was commonplace during the Eighties and early '90s.
'Apocrypha' continues moving into the thundering of the guitars and the story of old legends and new tales. Brilliant work by McLaughlin on all instruments.

'Straw Men' is riff-heavy, a punchy rhythm carries the song, as the music unfolds painting a beautiful image which, for the most part, it's absolutely melodic.
'Prophetic Skies' has the triplet rhythm guitar intro of classics of old, and with the guitars pushing out into a melodic rhythm as things progress, one can tell this is going to be a blinder of a song. As the guitars shreds and the galloping riffs continue, the listener is proven right.

'Immortal Rose' provides more variation with a modern, almost commercial riff before exploding with swagger and grit. 'Chimera' is another track mixing melodic hard with progressive, and the vocals create a sense of desperation and a hint of urgency to proceedings.
'Depletion' continues with the piano theme, with the sad, mournful lyrics creating a haunting atmosphere, while title track 'Toy Empires' is a mix of soft and ethereal synths and solid riffage, a great combination, and a superb title track.

STEVIE McLAUGHLIN - Toy Empires (2018) back

Stevie McLaughlin's debut "Toy Empires" is one of those albums that you usually pass by or miss, perhaps because the name isn't familiar, or simply 'cos the CD got sink between a truckload of new releases.
Don't make that mistake. "Toy Empires" is a very, very good album.
It's like the ideal mix between hard rock groove, progressive twists, and melodic accessibility. And really entertaining as well; there is a playfulness to this that makes it a really “happy” listening.
Highly Recommended

01 - Between Life & Death
02 - Shadows Alone
03 - Apocrypha
04 - Straw Men
05 - Prophetic Skies
06 - Immortal Rose
07 - Chimera
08 - Depletion
09 - Toy Empires

Stevie Mclaughlin: all vocals, all instruments



LOUDNESS - Samsara Flight ; 35th Anniversary [2CD Limited Edition]

LOUDNESS - Samsara Flight ; 35th Anniversary [2CD Limited Edition] (2016) full

We have been presenting here some of LOUDNESS remastered reissues released on occasion of their 35th Anniversary. Now, as part of the celebration, the band has re-recorded some of their classics with the current lineup titled "Samsara Flight".
This 2CD Limited Edition (boxed with alt. artwork) includes an extra disc featuring also re-recorded songs but selected by their fans; "Fan's Best Selection / We Are The Loudness".

To celebrate their 35th Anniversary, Loudness members have chosen the songs from their very early albums to re-record with the present lineup and with the sound the band has in 2016; classics like 'Devil Soldier', 'Burning Love', 'Street Woman', 'Angel Dust', etc.

Additionally, Loudness asked their fans to select which songs they care as their favorites. The winning ones - 17 tracks in total - were re-done and included in this Limited Edition exclusively.
There's hidden gems such as 'Ares' Lament', 'The Sun Will Rise Again' or 'S.D.I.'

LOUDNESS - Samsara Flight ; 35th Anniversary [2CD Limited Edition] (2016) back

"Samsara Flight / 2CD Limited Edition" (only released in Japan) is a great compendium of Loudness' history, including well known songs and more obscure, 'inside tracks', reworked with the band's present sound but pretty faithful to the originals, something I liked a lot.
More Loudness Anniversary releases coming soon.
Easily Recommended

Nippon Columbia ~ 【COZP-1186】

CD 1: Samsara Flight - Re-Recorded Classics
01 - Street Woman
02 - The Law Of Devil's Land
03 - Loudness
04 - In The Mirror
05 - Black Wall
06 - Rock Shock (More And More)
07 - Lonely Player
08 - Devil Soldier
09 - Burning Love
10 - Angel Dust
11 - Rock The Nation
12 - To Be Demon

CD 2: Fan's Best Selection - We Are The Loudness
01 - Crazy Doctor
02 - Crazy Nights
03 - In The Mirror
04 - S.D.I.
05 - Dream Fantasy
06 - Soldier Of Fortune
07 - Loudness
08 - Gotta Fight
09 - Like Hell
10 - Ares' Lament
11 - Slaughter House
12 - Speed
13 - Let It Go
14 - The Sun Will Rise Again
15 - Metal Mad
16 - Milky Way
17 - Ghetto Machine

Akira Takasaki – guitar, backing vocals
Masayoshi Yamashita – bass, backing vocals
Minoru Niihara – lead vocals
Masayuki Suzuki – drums



Thursday, April 19, 2018

JAMES CHRISTIAN - Craving (2018)

JAMES CHRISTIAN - Craving (2018) full

From time to time, JAMES CHRISTIAN takes a break from his long serving band House Of Lords to drop a solo album. The singer, songwriter, producer, and all around music veteran returns with his fourth studio CD, "Craving", to be released tomorrow via Frontiers Music.
Recorded at his own Florida studio, the new effort features contributions from other well known cats from the melodic rock scene including Tommy Denander, his bandmate on HOL Jimi Bell, talented Clif Magness, Alessandro Del Vecchio, and more.

Christian solo albums deliver something on the softer side of his work with House Of Lords. Even with expectations in hand, the album arrives with some variety in the songs always revolving in AOR / melodic rock smoothness.
This release opens with 'Heaven Is A Place In Hell' which has a cracking chorus, but 'Wild Boys' is an oddly disjointed song, in parts it's full yet in others empty; it doesn't help a song with lots of potential.

Title track 'Craving' starts with a lovely acoustic piece, there's great verses and a lovely chorus, on a song where Clif Magness play all instruments with tons of class. 'Jesus Wept' is another great tune, extremely melodic with a more commercial approach.
Four songs so far and each one sounds different; the drums are completely different and the overall instrumentation - especially Denander's guitars - look for variation.

'I Won't Cry' straddles the line between rocker and AOR anthem, yet with a notable bluesy feel. We find a groovy number in 'Sidewinder' with an '80s vibe, while 'Angel' is a short ballad with atmospheres.
Perhaps my favorite track here, 'Black Wasn't Black' turns more upon traditional melodic hard rock with it's brisk riffs, slick pacing, undeniable melody and catchy chorus. Christian could have saved the song for the next House Of Lords album. But no, enjoy it here.

'Craving' finds James Christian in fine musical form, as usual with his solo albums, delivering a little different stuff from his House Of Lords releases.
It's a very well crafted, satisfying album of AOR / Melodic Rock music mixing rockers, midtempos and sweet smooth melodies.
Highly Recommended

01. Heaven Is a Place in Hell
02. Wild Boys
03. Craving
04. Jesus Wept
05. World Of Possibility
06. Sidewinder
07. I won’t Cry
08. If There’s a God
09. Love Is the Answer
10. Black Wasn’t Black
11. Amen

James Christian: Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Background Vocals
Tommy Denander : Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Jimi Bell : Guitars
Pete Alpenborg : Guitars, Bass on 4
Billy Seidman : Additional Acoustic Guitars
Alessandro Del Vecchio : Keyboards on 4
Clif Magness : All Instruments on 3
Josh Freese : Drums on 3



VOLSTER - Perfect Storm (2018)

VOLSTER - Perfect Storm (2018) full

Swedish Melodic Hard rockers VOLSTER (feat. ex-members of Masquerade and House Of Heavy) will release their debut album "Perfect Storm" on April 20th via Rock Of Angels Records. The album is co-produced and mixed by legendary Max Norman (Ozzy Osbourne, Lynch Mob, Y&T) and mastered by Thomas “Plec” Johansson (Dynazty) at The Panic Room Mastering.

Volster first reared their heads back in 1996 recording a 4 track demo, and then lay dormant until 2013 when they decided to resurrect the band, keeping the same name and writing new material.
Guitarist Ulf Andersson and bass player Henrik Lundberg both previously were part of Masquerade, a great MHR act which released a terrific album featured HERE.
Ulf left to pursue other projects including House Of Heavy, while Henrik remained, the band releasing four albums in total.

Moving forward to 2018 and Volster are about to release their full length debut album "Perfect Storm". With the addition of Peter Tenning on vocals and Daniel Granlund (ex-Syconaut) on drums, the album consists of twelve tracks which are firmly planted in the melodic hard rock genre, in its harder side and with an updated Y2K sound.
To give you an idea, the overall style brings to mind early Lynch Mob mixed with traditional Scandinavian melodies akin Treat. They certainly sound like they wouldn’t of been out of place back in the late '80s / early '90s.

"Perfect Storm" is indeed melodious yet potent, you'll notice the strong guitar presence with sharp riffage, fine harmony, and soaring leads. If you love ripping guitar solos, you'll dig Volster.
Peter Tenning is fine vocalist with a strong presence, singing clean, melodic and with control. The timbre of his voice easily blends and binds with the melody and harmony of the guitar lines.
All songs are solid, being in the harder side 'King Of The Hill', 'Ends With Me', 'Hero, or title track 'Perfect Storm' wich adds lots of harmonies anyway.

For some interesting variation tune into the electric guitar and voice 'Still In Love' adds a bluesy touch, something like the aforementioned Lynch Mob but also Badlands.
'Babylon' has a deep bass & drum start that moves into a smooth steady groove, slightly dark. About the midpoint, there's a breakdown of Middle Eastern guitar which leads to smooth solo.

VOLSTER - Perfect Storm (2018) inside

On the more melodic hard rock side, 'Breathless' is a winner. There's pulsating verses, a killer chorus in the Treat vein, and clever keyboards.
Despite its title (makes you think of a heavy song) 'Games of War' is also quite melodic, while 'Easier Said Than Done' is a semi-ballad melodic rocker with a '90s feeling.

Very modern from arrangements to production, Volster's debut "Perfect Storm" also take Eighties / Nineties influences, especially in the songwriting.
It's a very guitar-driven record, as mentioned earlier, across the album there's a truckload of killer guitar riffs / solos. You can hear Max Norman's 'touch' particularly in the 'clean punch', but "Perfect Storm" is not a rehash of his '80s productions, it's a vibrant modern sounding album that will appeal a wide audience.
Highly Recommended

01 - King of the Hill
02 - Heaven or Hell
03 - Perfect Storm
04 - Breathless
05 - Still in Love
06 - Babylon
07 - Hero
08 - Games of War
09 - Easier Said Than Done
10 - I Don't Care
11 - Drifting Away
12 - Ends with Me

Peter Tenning - Vocals
Ulf Andersson - Guitar
Henrik Lundberg - Bass
Daniel Granlund - Drums



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