Wednesday, March 29, 2017

SINNER - Tequila Suicide (2017)

SINNER - Tequila Suicide (2017) full
HERE No cuts

In spite of being involved in many musical projects such as Primal Fear and bluesy hard rockers Voodoo Circle, Mat Sinner always finds the time to work with his band, SINNER. The 31st of March will see the release of their new studio album “Tequila Suicide”, produced by Mat and the great Dennis Ward. The album combines solid songwriting with a powerful, balanced sound.

Numerous high-class guest musicians such as Gus G of Ozzy Osbourne & Firewind, Ricky Warwick (The Almighty, Thin Lizzy), Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear) and Pete Lincoln (Sailor, Sweet) have contributed to this new work.
But the core of Sinner always have been Mat Sinner's melodic vocals and a tight instrumentation, and “Tequila Suicide” is not an exception.
The first track 'Go Down Fighting' begins the album on a very heavy note that will sound great at peak levels. The track has a feel of traditional metal of the likes of Thin Lizzy and Saxon with the riffs and the gritty vocals. It opens the disc very 'up', however in my opinion it's the only weak track on the CD.

Next is the title track 'Tequila Suicide' and now we're talking; this one is also an up-tempo track but driven by a catchy melody and an '80s feel. Classic German metal lovers like me will enjoy this very much.
The 'Road To Hell' intro sounds a lot like Scorpions’ Rock You Like A Hurricane but then goes into completely different territory with melodious guitar licks and groovy bass lines. 'Dragons' has elements of melodic metal as is implied by the name, and is another straightforward song with fillers of clean toned guitar and keys.

SINNER - Tequila Suicide (2017) inside

'Battle Hill' is another mesmerizing track with acoustics into the mix and some Celtic vibe, with an 'anthem' smell, but not the type destined for arenas. I think 'hymn' is the word. It's the song that struck to me as definitely the best one on this album.

The next track 'Sinner Blues' somewhat digresses from the usual Sinner sound and it has turned out to be a great experiment. Well, at least for this band, as Mat already crafted this kind of tunes with Voodoo Circle.
This track proves how good a band Sinner is as they have nailed something completely different from their sound. Blues lovers will cherish this one with the breath-taking guitar playing and the old school bluesy vocals.

'Why' brings back the flow of the heavy music and promises that this album has more treats for our ears.
The next two numbers are also solid compositions; 'Gypsy Rebels' with a heavily sound, 'Loud Clear' it’s a jolt before the conclusive 'Dying On A Broken', a nice quiet song with bluesy background.

SINNER - Tequila Suicide (2017) back

Being a band that has been put up on the same platform as other German legends like Scorpions and Accept, Sinner has proved their musical expertise once again with this new record "Tequila Suicide".
Having elements of heavy rock / classic metal with a few experiments like ‘Sinner Blues’ (well, it's classic rock after all), this album will definitely rock everyone.

01 - Go Down Fighting
02 - Tequila Suicide
03 - Road to Hell
04 - Dragons
05 - Battle Hill
06 - Sinner Blues
07 - Why
08 - Gypsy Rebels
09 - Loud & Clear
10 - Dying on a Broken Heart

Mat Sinner (vocals, bass)
Tom Naumann (guitar)
Alex Scholpp (guitar)
Francesco Jovino (drums)
Gus G (Ozzy Osbourne, Firewind)
Ricky Warwick (The Almighty, Thin Lizzy)
Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear)
Pete Lincoln (Sailor, Sweet)



WHITE WILLOW - Future Hopes (2017)

WHITE WILLOW - Future Hopes (2017) full

Norway’s ethereal progressive rock collective WHITE WILLOW will release their seventh studio album, "Future Hopes", in a few days. One of the characteristics of White Willow is the heavy use of synthesizers, including the unique textures of the Yamaha CS80, the famed 'Blade Runner' soundtrack synth.
If you find some resemblance at album cover with Yes and Asia your are not wrong; it's a specially commissioned painting by legendary Roger Dean.

However White Willow has few points in common with the mentioned bands: this is progressive music more based in atmospheres and climax.
"Future Hopes" is diverse; each song on the album sounds different, from the soundscapes of ‘Where There Was Sea There Is Abyss’ to the guitar heavy sounds of ‘Animal Magnetism.’ The album also experiments with electronic and acoustic sounds, making it an unpredictable listen.
For the new album the band recruited female vocalist Venke Knutson, who apparently has had pop singles in Norway.

The album starts off with the title track, a good showcase of White Willow's style with synths creating a sonic landscape and bursts of guitar, deep bass lines and dynamic drumming.
Then “Silver and Gold” explores a more mellow, acoustically based sound. Both songs fit Knutson’s vocal style, sometimes fragile sometimes breathy.
Things get vastly interesting with the expansive “In Dim Days” which has plenty of instrumental passages in it and much more power. Knutson has to muster up more nerve in her voice. A great song.
Along the same lines is the 18 minute epic “A Scarred View” which is the other track I really like on “Future Hopes.”

WHITE WILLOW - Future Hopes (2017) inside

White Willow is a really interesting band, not your typically prog outfit. The group have a Tangerine Dream meets Renaissance thing going on, with a lot of guitar work but synth based and thus sounds more futuristic. On some passages, the drums sound almost mechanical, but I think it was done on purpose to provide that 'alien' vibe.
Give this Norwegian combo a chance, you might end finding a style never heard before. Ah, and Roger Dean’s artwork is pretty awesome.

01 - Future Hopes
02 - Silver And Gold
03 - In Dim Days
04 - Where There Was Sea There Is Abyss
05 - A Scarred View
06 - Animal Magnetism
07 - Damnation Valley

Venke Knutson - vocals
Jacob Holm-Lupo - guitars, synths, keyboards, backing vocals
Ellen Andrea Wang - bass
Mattias Olsson - drums, percussion, e-bow, sounds & noises
Lars Fredrik Frøislie - synthesizers, keyboards
Ketil Vestrum Einarsen - wind controller, ute
Hedvig Mollestad, Ole Øvstedal - guitars
David Krakauer, Kjersti Løken - horns



JOURNEY - Departure +2 [Blu-Spec CD2] [mini-LP Limited Release]

JOURNEY - Departure [Blu-Spec CD2] [mini-LP Limited Release] full

After the recent JOURNEY posts here one of you asked as well for "Departure", in its Japanese Deluxe Paper Sleeve Mini Vinyl LP Replica package and pressed on a high quality Blu-Spec CD2 disc. It uses the last DSD remastering and on this CD format it truly sounds fabulous.

The first Journey album in the '80s, "Departure" arrived at a crucial moment during the band's transition from jam-friendly progressive rock to an arena-ready mainstream AOR sound, and found the band continuing to streamline its songwriting in an increasingly successful quest to invade Top 40 radio.
True to its title, the album served notice that the group was closing a chapter in its history by embracing a new direction while letting go of some formerly ingredients.
“We named it that because there’s going to be a little bit of a musical change,” singer Steve Perry teased in a spring 1980 interview. “We’re departing from some of our roots and keeping some.”

Despite many people think the new 'commercial' approach wanted for "Departure" came from Steve Perry, in fact it was guitarist Neal Schon & Columbia Records whom aimed for a more rocking, melodic, intense sound.
Part of that intensity derived from a switch in producers. Having openly groused about working with Roy Thomas Baker, the band hired Kevin Elson to co-produce alongside engineer Geoff Workman, adopting a live-in-the-studio approach to tracking "Departure" which provided much more muscle to the music.
It all added up to an album that, while perhaps somewhat edgier sonically than the previous, was still eminently radio-friendly.

JOURNEY - Departure [Blu-Spec CD2] [mini-LP Limited Release] booklet

"Departure" climbed to No. 8 on the album chart and summed up the Journey of 1980’s Top 40 appeal with its lead-off track and first single 'Any Way You Want It', one of my favorite Journey songs ever.
There's the slightly bluesy, catchy 'Walk Like A Lady' (which also did great on the charts), 'Where Were You' has an terrific melodic chorus, 'I'm Cryin' contains some of the most amazingly emotive Perry vocals ever, and 'Line Of Fire' absolutely smokes.
Another favorite of mine is 'People and Places'. I don't know what it is about that song, but with the way the different members each sing a word one after the other combined with the haunting (in spots) sound of the keyboard, this one still can send shivers up my spine. Very unique track.

"Departure" also would mark the last full-time studio album appearance of founding member Gregg Rolie, and his penultimate recording with the band - his final contributions would appear on Dream, After Dream, a soundtrack album to the Japanese film of the same name, from which 'Little Girl' is added here as bonus track.
Rolie had become tired of life on the road and decided to leave the band after assisting in the selection of his replacement, talented Jonathan Cain, then of The Babys. Rolie sang lead vocals on only one song on "Departure", the blissful, melodic midtempo ballad 'Someday Soon'.

JOURNEY - Departure [Blu-Spec CD2] [mini-LP Limited Release] back

"Departure" is one of Journey's strongest albums, very well written & arranged, melodic and rocking at the same time. It went triple-platinum and Journey rode this success with a major tour. These gigs spawned the follow-up live album Captured, which was another major hot seller for the group in the '80s.
This remaster pressed on BSCD2 is fantastic, I can hear more bass presence and an overall 'studio ambiance'. Additionally you got 2 bonus tracks.
A must for Journey fans and highly recommended to all Melodic Rock / AOR enthusiasts.

Columbia / Sony Japan ~ SICP-30136

01 - Any Way You Want It
02 - Walks Like A Lady
03 - Someday Soon
04 - People And Places
05 - Precious Time
06 - Where Were You
07 - I'm Cryin'
08 - Line Of Fire
09 - Departure
10 - Good Morning Girl
11 - Stay Awhile
12 - Homemade Love
13 - Natural Thing
14 - Little Girl [Dream After Dream soundtrack]

Steve Perry - lead vocals
Neal Schon - guitars, vocals
Gregg Rolie - keyboards, vocals
Ross Valory - bass guitar, vocals
Steve Smith - drums, percussion, vocals



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

SIN CRUZ - Enter The Unknown (2017)

SIN CRUZ - Enter The Unknown (2017) full

SIN CRUZ is another young, and very good, melodic hard rock band from Sweden presenting their debut album "Enter The Unknown". And this couldn't be a more appropriate title, as everything about this 4-piece is a mystery.

Nope, this is not a publicity strategy. I don't know why, but Sin Cruz has the worst promotion plan I've seen in many time. There's no press kit, no bio, no band members name! Not even at their official Facebook.
A shame, because their "Enter The Unknown" album is very, very well crafted.

Yes, this is an indie release and perhaps you guess there's a little budget for promotion... well, let me tell you this recording sounds terrific and not low-budget at all.
"Enter The Unknown" was recorded at the famous Studio Titan in Sweden, and Sin Cruz shared the facility with Crazy Lixx while taping their forthcoming album. And seems some well known producers / engineer that were around helped Sin Cruz with the record.

The result is a fresh, punchy, very well composed and recorded album titled "Enter The Unknown". The band coincidence into the studio with Crazy Lixx seems a life's fate, as Sin Cruz's style is pretty similar to them.
In short, the new breed of Scandinavian Melodic Hard Rock sound.

Useful references could be title track 'Enter The Unknown' with Shiraz Lane-like sharp guitar on it, the more melodic 'Mechanical Heart' some NiteRain or Santa Cruz (Finland), 'Burning Bridges' reminds me of ToxicRose, 'Shadows Above' some BlackRain, and so on...
The midtempo 'Unchained' wouldn't be out of place on the recent Confess album, 'One' add a little Crashdiet sleaze, while 'Threnody' some Hardcore Superstar.
You get the picture, right?

SIN CRUZ - Enter The Unknown (2017) inside

Silently released by themselves, "Enter The Unknown" certainly deserves more exposure.
Sin Cruz sounds mature, tight, focused in songwriting and quite solid at the instrumentation, with very good lead vocals and as mentioned, wrapped by a bright production on par with 'big labels' releases.
I hope these guys found a good manager soon, as they are destined for bigger things.
Highly Recommended

01 - Enter The Unknown
02 - Mechanical Heart
03 - Burning Bridges
04 - Shadows Above
05 - Unchained
06 - One
07 - Avalon
08 - Threnody
09 - Horizon



ANCESTRAL DAWN - Souldance [Japanese Edition] (2017)

ANCESTRAL DAWN - Souldance [Japanese Edition] (2017) full

Mixing metal / progressive rock electricity, ancient South American instruments, international world class vocalists and an Inca culture-based storytelling, "Souldance" is the worldwide debut by ANCESTRAL DAWN, to be released soon all over the planet and just appeared in Japan.

Ancestral Dawn was created in 2013 by bassist Jorge Higginson, teaming up with Jorge Segersbol (vocals) and Mark Astorga (management), the latter concentrated into launch the band internationally.
They secured the participation of Jonas Heidgert from the Swedish band Dragonland to put the lead vocals on Ancestral Dawn's first single. The track had an excellent reception among the fans, press and specialized radio.
This encouraged Higginson to recruit and define the Ancestral Dawn current line-up, which is formed by Segersbol (Vocals), Higginson (Bass), Devadip Chunga (Drums), Bryan Bello (Keyboards) and Josué Castro (Guitar).

"Souldance" is some kind of a concept album based in an Inca culture-based story, and musically expect classic melodic metal, progressive, some power, and all spiced with non-traditional instruments providing a unique sound.
Higginson aimed higher and for Ancestral Dawn's debut, and he wanted the top metal-related vocalists of the moment.
The crew on "Souldance" is truly impressive: Fabio Lione (Rhapsody/Angra) delivers a soaring performance on the rapid 'The Traveller', while the raspy pipes of Rick Altzi (Masterplan/At Vance) perfectly fit the melodic 'Enter The Shaman' – did I need to say Altzi is one of the best and most underrated shouters from the current scene?

ANCESTRAL DAWN - Souldance [Japanese Edition] (2017) booklet

The one and only Mark Boals (ex- Yngwie Malmsteen et all) put his stamp on one of the record highlights, title track 'Souldance', not only including a great middle section of flutes, quena & more - all wind instruments - but also a superb guest guitar solo by Roland Grapow (Masterplan, ex-Helloween).

If you need more variation, the excellent Amanda Somerville (Avantasia / Kiske Somerville) drops her velvety vocals on the ballad 'Whispers In The Grey', again, embelished by wind intruments, then on the other hand, for a heavier, razor and more melodic metal number, check 'StormHaze' featuring Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) on lead vocals on a track that mix Judad Priest, Allen-Lande and Helloween all into one.

Another climax arrives with 'The Eyes Of The Universe', as it features all these stellar vocalists together; Rick Altzi, Mark Boals, Amanda Somerville and Jonas Heidgert (Dragonland/Destiny). The track itself is classic metal in the vein of JORN early works spiced with progressive keyboard runs.
The Japanese Edition features the bonus track 'Covenant', and instrumental showcasing the skills of all band members, a track with an old-school feeling all over.

ANCESTRAL DAWN - Souldance [Japanese Edition] (2017) back

"Souldance" is a really strong and impactful debut from Ancestral Dawn, a new band in the prog metal / melodic metal / power scene truly offering something different.
While the musical structures are typical from the genre, the band has a more 'classic' sound (read '80s) than most the current acts, while they add their own, unique spin via wind instruments which provide a distinctive atmosphere.
The impressive list of vocalists raise the quality bar of "Souldance" a notch or two, plus the first rate production makes Ancestral Dawn's debut a worthy & entertaining product for all audiences.
HIGHLY Recommended

01. Endless Nightmare
02. The Traveller
03. Enter the Shaman
04. Rise of the Ancestor
05. Spiritual Flow
06. Leading to Nowhere
07. Souldance (Ayarachis)
08. Whispers in the Grey
09. Stormhaze
10. The Eyes of the Universe
11. Covenant

Jorge Higginson - Bass, Pan Flutes
Jorge Segersbol - Vocals
Josue Castro - Guitars
Devadip Chunga - Drums
Bryan Bello - Keyboards
Mark Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen) - Vocals
Amanda Somerville (Avantasia/Kiske Somerville) - Vocals
Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) - Vocals
Fabio Lione (Rhapsody/Angra) - Vocals
Rick Altzi (Masterplan/At Vance) - Vocals
Jonas Heidgert (Dragonland/Destiny) - Vocals
Nahtalie Markoch - Vocals
Roland Grapow (Masterplan/Ex-Hellowen) - guitar solo on 7



JUPITER FALLS - Faces In The Sand (2017)

JUPITER FALLS - Faces In The Sand (2017) full

Leeds based, English band JUPITER FALLS returns with their second long player "Faces In The Sand [Part One]" after two years from their debut. The album comes with a personnel change in the form of drummer Luke Hatfield, ans a more melodic approach in sound.

Perhaps the first thing you need to know about Jupiter Falls is that it was founded by lead guitarist Deano Silk and vocalist James Hart. Naturally then, most everything revolves around this duo. That said, with twin guitar harmony / riffage and epic soaring leads, Jupiter Falls and their music is very guitar-forward, even better, guitar-centered. The riffs are brisk and sharp, abundant and large, accounting for the Jupiter Falls bombastic delivery.

Some may consider the depth and strength of the guitar parts as harsh nearing modern heavy rock, and I can understand that point. Voices is a case in point. Even acoustic guitar driven songs like 'Follow You', and more so 'Call Me', find the acoustic riffs bold, with guitarist Deano Silk strumming like his last breaths were at stake.
Within all these things, Hart's vocals both blends with and echoes the guitar sound. He sings as assertive as the strong riffage, yet clean with an abundance of passion.

Returning to Jupiter Falls aggressive modern guitar sound, within songs such as 'Voices' and 'This Is A War We Cannot Win', Hart can add an equally aggressive and raw in his vocal delivery.
But within that latter song, you have Jupiter Falls' wild card, the proverbial ace in the hole. Amidst the strong and bombastic metallic guitars, melody and harmony are woven with delicate subtlety, yet not so sublime to be missed. About two thirds in, for the guitar breakdown, the riffs and rhythms of the guitar lines sweeten the song. You'll find this motif in various and similar ways throughout the album.

Having said that, title track 'Faces In The Sand' is really interesting. It's a very unique mixture of both metal ballad and anthem with lots of the aforementioned guitar bravado. It's a pretty long track with some progressive passages, and as written several times above, plenty of guitar.

JUPITER FALLS - Faces In The Sand (2017) back

"Faces In The Sand [Part One]" is another strong effort from Jupiter Falls. If you like thoroughly guitar charged hard rock / metal / melodic hard which sways between an old school classic vibe and modern sharp nuances, you will enjoy this album.
According to the CD title, there's a 'Part Two' in the making, and I am eager to discover what this interesting band has to offer next.

01 - Welcome To My World
02 - Nothing To Me
03 - Illusion
04 - Call Me
05 - Sickened
06 - Follow You
07 - Voices
08 - This Is A War We Cannot Win
09 - Its Your Problem Now
10 - See You On The Other Side
11 - Faces In The Sand Pt1

Vocals – James Hart
Guitar – Zachari Daniels
Lead Guitar – Deano Silk
Bass Guitar – Dan Clark
Drums – Luke Hatfield



KIX - Rock Your Face Off [retail]

KIX - Rock Your Face Off [retail] - full

KIX is one of those bands that almost made it big back in the Eighties but never got the real breaks some of their contemporaries did, although they truly deserved. Kix's catalogue including ‘Blow My Fuse’, ‘Hot Wire’ and particularly ‘Midnight Dynamite’ albums are great examples of prime American Hard Rock.
After almost two decades since Kix has released any new music, the Maryland based group returned with the really solid "Rock Your Face Off" some time ago, and one of you asked for a revisit of the release here on the blog.

A lot has changed since the '80s, but it is good to see that Kix has stuck to their signature style, in your face Hard Rock sound.
Opening with “Wheels In Motion”, it's clear the razor sharp guitar playing of Brian Forsythe dominate this album. The Alice Cooper influenced “You’re Gone” continues with the hard-hitting classic riffs where singer Steve Whiteman lay down his powerhouse vocals.
The rhythm section of bassist Mark Schenker and drummer Jimmy Chalfant is super tight and holds the group together with its ferocious beat.

KIX - Rock Your Face Off [retail] disc

The very tongue in cheek “Rollin' In Honey” captures the party vibe of the band, while title track “Rock Your Face Off” explodes with the high energy that Kix is noted for in concert. This song is a tribute to touring and the audiences that support the band year after year.
Kix who are also known for their bluesy touches, and this side shine on the swaggerin' “All The Right Things”, where the guys add that huge hook that further tips the balance in their favour.
"Dirty Girls" is a sheer Scott-era AC/DC even with a Bon-like aside. On this album you really feel that Kix has done everyone proud, themselves, fans and lovers of pure and simple straight forwards rock and roll.

Of course you expect a ballad and “Inside Outside Inn” is the one that delivers well enough, if not hitting the absolute heights it’s enough to get the Zippos fired up before the sleazy groove of “Mean Miss Adventure” cuts you down in a trail of fire.

Then arrives the future Kix favorite "Love Me With Your Top Down" which sits on your face like the best dirty rock and roll, an ode to Summer and a party anthem. It’s good to see the band hasn’t lost their sense of humour over the years.

Sometimes the simplest is the best though and along with the title track and "All the Right Things" I’d add "Tail on the Wag" to my list of top picks – it’s a simple bluesy hard rock number and pure Kix!
"Rock & Roll Showdown" that closes the album is another hard driving rock number that seems to say we’ll be back and just as big next time.

KIX - Rock Your Face Off [retail] back

Equipped with strong hooks, massive guitars and catchy choruses, Kix rocks on "Rock Your Face Off" with great style. It sounds as if the years had not passed for them, even longtime co-writer and producer Taylor Rhoades is on-board.
In the vein of 'Blow Your Fuse', on this new record the fun, uptempo beat of Kix never diminishes and keeps on rolling. The tightness of the band is evident.
"Rock Your Face Off" is the perfect summertime record. Crank it up to 10 and roll your top down, as the pride of Maryland shows the world how to rock East Coast style.
Highly Recommended

01. Wheels In Motion
02. You're Gone
03. Can't Stop The Show
04. Rollin' In Honey
05. Rock Your Face Off
06. All The Right Things
07. Dirty Girls
08. Inside Outside Inn
09. Mean Miss Adventure
10. Love Me With Your Top Down
11. Tail On The Wag
12. Rock & Roll Showdown

Steve Whiteman – Vocals
Brian Forsythe – Guitar
Ronnie Younkins – Guitar
Mark Schenker – Bass
Jimmy Chalfant – Drums



Monday, March 27, 2017

SUNROAD - Wing Seven (2017)

SUNROAD - Wing Seven (2017) full

"Wing Seven" is the first album from Brazilian quartet SUNROAD to be released in the US soon, but these guys aren't newcomers at all. Sunroad started out in 1996 and have been playing their brand of melodic hard rock now for over 20 years, with six previous albums, a best of collection and a live DVD under their belt.
They have toured extensively and played with many great bands and artists through the years, including shows with LA Guns, Whitecross, Petra, Stryper and Joe Lynn Turner to name a few.

The sound of Sunroad could be defined as a very dynamic hard rock with a modern approach but song-wise, these guys are inspired by American '80s hard rock.
As you can read above, the band shared stages with several acts from the Christian Metal movement, and that's not a coincidence: Sunroad is a band with a religious background. However, their lyrics reflect social themes in general.

Since opener 'Destiny Shadows' you got a precise hint of Sunroad's style: muscular yet very clean riffs, potent vocals with some kind of Sebastian Bach touch, and a punchy rhythm section.
'White Eclipse' continues with thick riffs akin Impelliterri circa 1988, 'In the Sand' is a much more melodic hard rock beast recalling Skid Row Slave To The Grind era, then 'Misspent Youth' turn things groovy and midtempo with a sightly bluesy foundation. Very good harmony vocals (all musicians contribute) here.

'Skies Eyes' provides variation, as this power ballad mix acoustic guitars with electric, but the latter used in 'clean mode'. Very good song.
'Day by Day' returns to the uptempo territory, a very groovy instrumental with some progressive touches, a killer keyboard solo and spiraling lead guitar work. 'Craft of Whirlwinds' has a darker atmosphere yeat melodic at the same time (lead singer Andre Adonis sounds a lot like Seb Batch here).

SUNROAD - Wing Seven (2017) inside

'Drifting Ships' balance the record with a sweet melodic hard rock strongly reminiscent of the '80s, while 'Last Sunray in the Road' is a really, really competent piano ballad which later incorporates the full band for great effect.

Sunroad have nothing to envy from established hard rock / melodic hard acts from US and Europe. Everything in "Wing Seven" is absolutely professional, from musicianship to production / mix quality.
The overall record is inspired by late '80s / early '90s American hard rock and while you can hear the aforementioned influences, Sunroad has a true original, own sound.
Highly Recommended

01. Destiny Shadows
02. White Eclipse
03. In the Sand
04. Misspent Youth
05. Tempo (What Is Ever)
06. Whatever
07. Skies Eyes
08. Day by Day
09. Craft of Whirlwinds
10. Drifting Ships
11. Brighty Breakdown
12. Pilot of Your Heart
13. Last Sunray in the Road

Andre Adonis – Lead Vocals, Keyboards
Netto Mello – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Akasio Angels – Bass, Backing Vocals
Fred Mika – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals



BROTHER FIRETRIBE - Sunbound [Japan Edition +2] (2017)

BROTHER FIRETRIBE - Sunbound [Japan Edition +2] (2017) full

Finland's BROTHER FIRETRIBE, the five-strong outfit that we are never sure will be able to make a ‘next’ album thanks to the demands of Nightwish placed upon guitarist, Emppu Vuorinen, have found a slot in the diary, cleared the schedules, stepped up to the plate and recorded their fourth album "Sunbound", in this Japanese Edition featuring 2 bonus tracks.
And what a great AOR album it is.

While Brother Firetribe have been often compared to Survivor (or copycats), they're in fact strongly influenced by all '80s US AOR. Perhaps the comparison resides on Pekka Heino (Leverage) vocal tone. He sounds uncannily like Jimi Jamison, delivering the catchy choruses with panache and aplomb surrounded by the ever-present keyboards of Tomppa Nikulainen.
But don't be fooled, what Brother Firetribe bring to the table as well is modern Scandinavian melodic rock with Vuorinen’s signature guitar work that set the band apart from so many modern pretenders.

Opening with an instrumental track, the album immediately brings to mind that arena sound that wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack of a certain boxing underdog franchise. It leads immediately into ‘Help Is On The Way’, a track that harks back to the style that drew people to the band when their ‘False Metal’ debut was released back in 2006. The solo from Emppu reaffirms why the band present a different, original and modern take on the genre and as it merges into the lick that opens future single ‘Indelible Heroes’ it’s clear, only 2 full songs in, that the album is going to be a winner.

If the aim is to reinvigorate and re-energise a musical style that contains hooks galore, massive melodies, vocals that soar so high they leave you gasping for oxygen, then Brother Firetribe succeed.
“Follow your heart and relive the taste of a champion”, so sings Pekka on the lead single. If Hollywood ever decides to remake the aforementioned boxing franchise, they have the lead single ready and waiting to go. The song has already been used as the theme for a major Finnish advertising campaign and it’s no surprise, it’s the sort of song that only needs 30 seconds to bed itself into the brain.

BROTHER FIRETRIBE - Sunbound [Japan Edition +2] (2017) disc

‘Shock’ with its anthemic chant along chorus should become a highlight of a live set if and when we get to see the band perform again. Prolific touring is not their strongest attribute but when one of you is the lead guitarist in Nightwish, well, it’s not surprising.
‘Strangled’ also delivers a powerhouse track with Pekka’s vocals really driving the song from start to finish.

Even the song titles remind us of a time when AOR ruled the airwaves and bands like Foreigner and Survivor were commonplace on the radio; ‘Heart of the Matter’, ‘Restless Heart’, ‘Big City Dream’ all suggest people moving to L.A. to live the West Coast dream. It’s sun, sea and surf, pretty good from a band whose country is swathed in darkness for half the year.
They save the best for last though and with ‘Phantasmagoria’, they deliver five minutes of epic melodic rock, opening with a beat that feels like it could be the opening music to ‘Top Gun II’ should it ever get made.

BROTHER FIRETRIBE - Sunbound [Japan Edition +2] (2017) back

This Japanese Edition worth the investment as the band offers not one but two bonus tracks; the extremely melodic / keyboard driven 'Don't Cry For Yesterday' (also extra track for vinyl LP limited version), and acoustic version of 'For Better or for Worse (acoustic)', a track taken from Brother Firetrive previous album Diamond In The Firepit but now completely re-worked with unusual percussion.

"Sunbound" is a superb return for Brother Firetribe, a marked improvement over the previous release and an album that delivers everything we have come to hope for from the Finns.
And that is pure '80s AOR with a modern approach, done like few can do it in 2017.
Mandatory Listen

01. Sunbound
02. Help Is on the Way
03. Indelible Heroes
04. Taste of a Champion
05. Last Forever
06. Give Me Tonight
07. Shock
08. Strangled
09. Heart of the Matter
10. Restless Heart
11. Big City Dream
12. Phantasmagoria
13. Don't Cry For Yesterday
14. For Better or for Worse (Acoustic Version)

Vocals - Pekka Ansio Heino
Guitars - Emppu Vuorinen
Keyboards - Tomi Nikulainen
Bass, Backing vocals - Jason Flinck
Drums - Hannes Pirilä



ART OF ANARCHY - The Madness (2017)

ART OF ANARCHY - The Madness (2017) full

ART OF ANARCHY was started by brothers Jon (guitar) and Vince (drums) Votta, along with former Guns N' Roses guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal and Disturbed bassist John Moyer. Though Scott Weiland denied being a member of the band, he laid vocals and wrote much of the lyrical content of the band's first eponymous release. For their just released sophomore album "The Madness", Art Of Anarchy tapped Scott Stapp, best known as the vocalist and frontman for Creed.

I approached this with care expecting some kind of alternative / modern rock affair, but Art Of Anarchy surprised me; while there's a lot of modern guitar and a punchy modern rock radio orientation in production, the overall songwriting is based in a classic rock pattern.
I think the key here is Bumblefoot Thal's classic rock formation, and his riffs and song skeletons turn this "The Madness" a very enjoyable experience for all audiences: the old and the young.
Additionally - and fortunately - Stapp sings from a different angle he did in his previous alt-rock band Creed, more raw and from the guts here.

Album opener “Echo of a Scream” is one of my favs, a slamming, large-sounding rocker with chugging guitars and a steady beat that includes some killer guitar solo trade-offs by Bumblefoot and Jon Votta. It’s an excellent start to the disc and it only gets better from there.
“1000 Degrees” is a stomp / clap rocker with certain '80s arena feel, then “No Surrender” pulls things back a bit with a spiraling hypnotic guitar open that builds into a chorus with the band firing on all cylinders.

The strongest part of the disc kicks off with title track “The Madness”, “Won’t Let You Down” plays with the time signature a bit but Stapp absolutely nails it melodically, while “Changed Man” is the piece de resistance power ballad.
While solid, “A Light in Me” and “Somber” bring the album down a bit, before Art Of Anarchy end strong with a pair of raucous tracks that show what they can do with a little attitude.

“Dancing With the Devil” would feel right at home in Velvet Revolver’s catalog, powering forward with swagger to spare. Meanwhile, Stapp has repeatedly praised the album closer “Afterburn,” a more upbeat song with the singer belting about coming to terms with living with the things he’s done.

ART OF ANARCHY - The Madness (2017) back

While Art Of Anarchy may fall under the umbrella of a super-group and they’re just getting started playing their first live shows, it appears as though they’ve definitely hit on something solid with this pairing of musicians. The musicianship is strong, the writing connects and they have a disc that could go deep in terms of radio singles.
However, this band is much more than just another 'modern rock wannabe', as their music feels quite timeless despite the modern - and excellent - production.
Strongly Recommended

01. Echo Of A Scream
02. 1,000 Degrees
03. No Surrender
04. The Madness
05. Won’t Let You Down
06. Changed Man
07. A Light In Me
08. Somber
09. Dancing With The Devil
10. Afterburn

Vocals - Scott Stapp (Creed)
Bass - John Moyer (Adrenaline Mob)
Guitar - Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Bumblefoot, Guns N' Roses)
Drums - Vince Votta
Guitar - Jon Votta



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