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Album Review: Tokyo Motor Fist - Tokyo Motor Fist

Posted on March 31, 2017 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)


Tokyo Motor Fist – Tokyo Motor Fist
Written by Juliano Mallon

Since its announcement, few projects have excited me as much as the Tokyo Motor Fist. A band that reunites Ted Poley (one of the most recognized voices of the universe AOR/Melodic Rock and eternal frontman of Danger Danger) and the excellent Steve Brown (one of the minds responsible for Trixter's success) is born with great responsibility at hand. They’re joined by bassist Greg Smith (who has played with Alice Cooper and Ted Nugent among others) and great drummer Chuck Burgi (whose resume features sessions with Rainbow and Joe Lynn Turner, among many more) and you start to convince yourself that the idea will fly.

But if you expect a mix between Danger Danger and Trixter, I should warn you: that's exactly what you'll find on this album! Every miserable dime invested in the acquisition of the Tokyo Motor Fist album brings immediate return, believe me.

To say that the album is full of exciting rockers is far too obvious if we take into account the influences from the band’s where Poley and Brown act. But I'll play the role of Captain Obvious and highlight "Pickin' Up The Pieces," "Love Me Insane," "Shameless," and "Black And Blue," all explosive rockers, boosted by guitars in the foreground and overpowering vocals. I recommend multiple auditions, maximum volume and may the gods protect your neighbors ...

The songs above were enough to convince me to buy the album, but I still had more to cheer up. The fun continues with the frenzied "You're My Revolution" as well as the great "Put Me To Shame”, the imposing "Done To Me" and the thrilling "Get You Off My Mind." All three songs are easily singled out as album highlights and are also worthy of the already-known peak volume and multiple listens.

But there's more! The touching "Love" is a mid-pacer that will certainly bring shivers to the coldest of creatures so beautiful is its melody, a fact that is also present on "Do Not Let Me Go", an exciting ballad with a neat arrangement. The last nail in the coffin lid is "Fallin 'Apart", an explosive and contagious rocker also among the highlights of the album, thus deserving of ... ah, you already know.

In short, fellow rockers, there is no doubt Tokyo Motor Fist’s debut is one of the highlights of this year. I'm not afraid to go wrong when I say that this album will be a benchmark for many albums yet to come and I still say it will not be an easy task to match this work. The sound between the best and brightest moments of Danger Danger and Trixter works to perfection in every song, thanks to the inspired performances of Steve Brown and a precise Ted Poley. May this be just the first of many Poley/Brown albums. If this early in the year you only have money enough to buy one album, let it be this one. A simply mandatory album in your collection . Tokyo Motor Fist is out now, on Frontiers Records.

Album Review: Judas Priest - Turbo 30 (30th Anniversary Edition)

Posted on March 31, 2017 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)


 Judas Priest - Turbo 30 (30th Anniversary Edition)

Written by The Rock Man


Remastered albums… To be perfectly honest with you, more often than not, I couldn’t care less for them. I usually view them as an excuse for a band to fulfil record contract obligations that are nearing the end. Sometimes it also seems like a good excuse for giving a young, green-behind-the-ears studio engineer some much need experience; or my favourite reason of all, after the band in question has long left the record label or broken up, the label, who would own the rights to the material, can continue at will to use it as a cash grab year after year.

 

However, every now and then an album comes along that can justify the “Remastered” treatment. It also helps if the band is still together and has endorsed the process, and that boys and girls is what separates the 30th Anniversary Edition of the Judas Priest album Turbo from other remastered works going around. But Turbo 30 isn’t just a reworking off a controversial record in their decorated careers; this edition also contains two live CDs as well adding extra bang for your hard earned dollar.


Firstly though, the original album. Turbo was released in 1986 and at the time ruffled a few feathers amongst the “hard-core” traditional metal fraternity. The album dared to expand the boundaries and scope that the band would operate in by introducing new technologies and elements like synth-guitars. For some, the blending of traditional recording methods and sounds with new innovative ideas was a little too much to swallow. I however never had this problem and to this day I still regard Turbo as one of the band’s highest achievements. So upon hearing about the remastered Turbo 30 release my initial thought was “How do you improve on what is already a brilliant record?”

 

A good start is to be respectful of the material and not to over-equalize/over-compress/over-dub/over-blah, blah, blah the original work. By and large the album has only gone through minimal tweaks and changes, retaining the same spirit of the original. In simpler terms it’s been given a fresh coat of paint giving it a smoother, polished, pop of energy. The album’s greatest strength has always been the material anyway: cuts like the anti-PMRC inspired Parental Guidance, the feel-good summer track Wild Nights, Hot and Crazy Days, the fist-pumping Rock You All Around The World and the iconic lead single Turbo.


Now, onto the live stuff. Featured over two discs is a recording of the band’s Fuel For Life Tour of ’86. These live performances are from the Kemper Arena in Kansas City and capture the energy and decadence of the era. In addition to a number of tracks from the Turbo album, fans will be more than satisfied with live cuts of definitive Judas Priest gems such as Living After Midnight, Hell Bent For Leather, You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’, Metal Gods and the iconic Breaking The Law. As a live act Judas Priest have stood amongst the top echelon of metal performers for four decades. After listening to this live performance it’s very easy to see why they have been crowned “The Metal Gods” and why lead vocalist Rob Halford is so highly regarded by many as the best in the business. As someone who has never really been a big fan of live albums, these recordings have managed to reproduce the excitement, adrenaline and frenzy of a live concert experience not found on other live records.

 

When I heard the announcement that Turbo 30 was going to be re-issued I was surprised; as I said before, in its day it divided fans. And to be honest I really can’t see this 30th Anniversary Edition changing too many people’s minds; simply you’re a fan of the material or you’re not. If however, like me you are, then this package will not only let you re-live those glory days of the ‘80’s metal scene, but take it to another level.

Album Review: Lionville - A World Of Fools

Posted on March 31, 2017 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)


Lionville – A World Of Fools
Written by Juliano Mallon

Italy has been recovering the good reputation it has always had in the musical territory with excellent bands and projects mainly focused on AOR. Among these names is Lionville, whose two beautiful albums caught the attention of AOR enthusiasts all over. Now, after a five-year hiatus, the band returns with "A World Of Fools"; an album that features new members working with talented guitarist/songwriter Stefano Lionetti and the spectacular Lars Säfsund (vocalist who, as I have said countless times, would fit perfectly with Toto). Keeping the focus on the sound that travels between AOR and Westcoast, Lionville’s latest effort will not disappoint the band's fans and style.

The album features a series of stunning rockers, where guitars and keyboards share space in perfect balance, as I can attest in the exciting "I Will Wait" which refers to the best moments of Work Of Art, in the elegant "Show Me The Love", an excellent example of the mix between AOR and Westcoast and the excellent "Bring Me Back Our Love", which refers once again to the good sounds of Work Of Art. These three songs are easily pointed out as highlights of the album and already justify its acquisition, each of them being worthy of maximum volume and multiple auditions.

The exhilarating "A World Of Fools" (another album highlight) retains the high level of rockers as well as the engrossing "One More Night". With the great "All I Want" and the devastating "Living On The Edge", establish a powerful sequence of not only well-built rockers, but accurately played and perfectly performed by Mr. Säfsund.

And when it looks like there's no way for the album to improve, there's "Our Good Goodbye," a marvelous mid-pacer with a Westcoast-esque melodic base, which invariably refers to Toto's best moments, circa 1986. A major highlight of the album and a surprising vocal performance by Stefano Lionetti, deserving the highest volume possible and multiple auditions. And another song that deserves your attention is the beautiful "Image Of Your Soul", an engrossing ballad whose AOR / Westcoast elements are perfectly distributed, even in the variation of tempo in the second verse. And speaking of ballads, "Heaven Is Right Here" is a true representative of the romantic side of AOR, with a delicate melody and shocking refrain, boosted by Säfsund's striking vocals.

In short, "A World Of Fools" makes clear the growth of Lionville in comparison to its previous works. The absence of guest musicians - so common on their albums released back in 2011 and 2012 - didn’t affect the high quality that is expected of the band. Still, the new album ratified the talent of Stefano Lionetti as a musician and composer, and also ratified the explicit and undeniable talent of Lars Säfsund on vocals. So, there is no shortage of pointing out "A World Of Fools" is one of the best albums from early 2017 and, without doubt, a great chapter in the history of Lionville. “A Workd Of Fools” is out now, on Frontiers Records.

Album Review: Stephen Pearcy - Smash

Posted on March 30, 2017 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (0)


Stephen Pearcy – Smash

Written by The Rock Man

 

During the 1980s, the Sunset Strip – in West Hollywood, California – was dominated by the glam hard rock scene. Bands such as Faster Pussycat, Enuff Z’Nuff, L.A. Guns and the like ran riot on the Strip and leading the pack were three major players of the genre: Motley Crue, Poison and Ratt. All three would go on to have their moment in the spotlight and at one point or another become darlings of MTV. But what made Ratt standout above the crowd was the raw, raspy, energetic and distinctive voice of lead singer Stephen Pearcy.

 

In the same way as you knew instantly who you were listening to when you heard a Cinderella song back in those days, the same was also true of Ratt, largely due to Pearcy. However, like most of these bands, the 1990s were not kind to Ratt and the band would “disband” or be “on hiatus”, depending on who you spoke to. In any case, Pearcy would leave to pursue other ventures.


One of those projects would be a solo career which has yielded the Californian native four solo records. But unlike his tenure as the frontman for Ratt, his solo efforts haven’t always been met with glowing acceptance with many fans divided and opinions often polarised. Despite this Pearcy continues to create and record new music, and maybe with the release of his new studio work Smash fortune may smile once again.

 

In simple terms Smash comes across as a blending of classic ‘80’s sounds and attitude with a modern day rock and roll twist. I have always believed that the opening couple of tracks should lay out for you what is to unfold on the rest of the record; and the opening songs on Smash serve this purpose well. We kick off with I Know I’m Crazy, which mixes raw, edgy and gritty contemporary sounds with melodic attitudes from yesteryear. This formula also aids Pearcy well on tracks such as Dead Roses, Want Too Much and Passion Infinity. And then there are the songs, which no matter how hard Pearcy tries, just sound like they belong on a Ratt record. Cuts like Ten Miles Wide, Hit Me With A Bullet, Rain and I Can’t Take It ooze ‘80s decadence and that distinct Ratt attitude and flavour which would become their trademark.

 

Overall the production is pretty solid, something that is often criticized on previous outings and the band is solid also. Pearcy gets a lot of criticism for continuing his career and many fans feel he has had his day and should hang up the microphone. But what I discovered on Smash is a pleasant surprise and not what I was expecting. If this was an album under the Ratt banner, I’d be pretty satisfied with the result.

Album Review: Unruly Child - Can't Go Home

Posted on March 30, 2017 at 11:45 PM Comments comments (0)


Unruly Child – Can’t Go Home
Written by Juliano Mallon

When they returned to the scene with the original lineup in 2010, veterans Unruly Child were received with deserved reverence and in return delivered one of the best albums - not only of that year - but also of the band's career. Then there was a hiatus until last year, when "Down The Rabbit Hole" was released in digital format, but let's face it, the impact was minimal. Now the band returns with "Can’t Go Home", an album that explicitly highlights the melodic aspect so evident on their classic first album. And coupled with great songs and killer interpretations, the set becomes shocking and worthy of the good name that Unruly Child has built.

Catchy melodies are easily found on the radio friendly "The Only One", one of the highlights of the album, on the introspective "Four Eleven", on the engaging "Diving Into The Future" and on the explosive "Get On Top", a song filled with chilling backing vocals. Each of these rockers deserves maximum volume and no moderation while listening.

Other rockers that deserve your full attention are "Point Of View", the powerful "Ice Cold Sunshine", a highlight with beautiful backing vocals, the radio friendly "When Love Is Here" and the sweeping "Someday Somehow," the first single off of the album and also a highlight from it.

But there’s no way I could end this review without mentioning the spectacular mid-pacer "See If She Floats" and the power ballad "She Can’t Go Home", plus "Sunlit Sky", all worthy of your valuable time and attention.

In short, "Can’t Go Home" marks, in a very positive way, the return of Unruly Child to the scene. Looking at the album as a whole, this work pleased me much more than the already excellent "Worlds Collide" from 2010. The songs bring more diversified arrangements and a more accurate production, while the band sounds more cohesive than ever and the flawless performances of Marcie Free are absolutely fantastic. Personally, I see "Can’t Go Home" among the best albums of Unruly Child and certainly one of the best works of the year so far. Absolutely recommended material. “Can’t Go Home” is out now, on Frontiers Records.

Album Review: Metallica - Hardwired... To Self-Destruct

Posted on December 11, 2016 at 8:40 PM Comments comments (0)


Metallica – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct

Written by The Rock Man

 

After a long eight-year absence Metallica are back and by God they are back with a vengeance! Their new album Hardwired… To Self-Destruct is one of the most anticipated albums, not only of the year, but for quite some time. And what becomes abundantly clear from moment one of pressing play is that it was worth every long, agonising minute of that eight-year wait.

 

Hardwired… To Self-Destruct is a brutal, aggressive, take no prisoners, unrelenting lesson in how metal should be done in this day and age. It flawlessly combines all the elements of what we love about ‘80s metal with the finer points of the genre today. In short, an album not for the faint of heart.

 

On numerous occasions the band have stated their desire to pick up where the last record Death Magnetic left off and personally I would have to say mission accomplished as Hardwired… To Self-Destruct quite easily could have been subtitled: Death Magnetic 2.0. One aspect of Hardwired… To Self-Destruct however, that sets it apart from Death Magnetic is in the production stakes. With all the respect in the world to legendary producer Rick Rubin, the last album was poorly produced and criticised by some fans and media alike.

 

But Hardwired… To Self-Destruct doesn’t show any signs of the distorted/compressed technique which was unnecessarily prominent on the last effort. Produced by frontman James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich and Greg Fidelman this new offering is definitely more sonically pleasing to the ear in terms of its production and mixing values.

 

The material featured on the album however is like being hit by a battering ram from start to finish. By now we’ve all heard the lead single and opening track Hardwired, which sets the pace and standard for the album very nicely indeed. From here it’s one heavy rocker after another leaving the listener very little time to breathe as the record contains no ballads, there are of course a number of tempo changes within songs but that is about it.

 

While the album overall is very consistent in its quality from track to track, there are a couple of standout moments worth pointing out. Metallica have had a long history of exploring military subject matter and its destructive aftermath and Confusion is now another worthy edition. Lyrically the song focuses on PTSD and I walked away from this song with a real sense of thought for what military people must go through trying to adjust to normal life after service.

 

Spit Out The Bone is a fitting frenetic bookend to the title and opening track. Lyrically the band explores the addictive obsession mankind has developed with technology, but cleverly they do it from the technologies point of view. Also of note are the tracks Now That We’re Dead with its groove laden drum rhythm and ‘80s style chugging guitar bed and Here Comes Revenge which tackles one of the oldest motivators of mankind, sweet revenge.

 

At the end of the standard two disc, 12 track, one hour and eighteen-minute running version you’re still craving more ‘Tallica’ action, then fans can sink their teeth into the Deluxe Edition which comes with a third disc jam packed with extra goodies. Included on this bonus disc is ten blistering live performances, Ronnie Rising Medley (a tribute to Ronnie James Dio), a cover of Iron Maiden’s Remember Tomorrow, Deep Purple’s When A Blind Man Cries and the scorching track Lords Of Summer which Metallica have played in their set over the past couple of years, available for the first time as a studio version.

 

If it’s value for money you’re looking for then you can’t go past Hardwired… To Self-Destruct. With material this strong it’s hard to imagine the band is going to slow down and retire any time soon; which is great because the rock world needs bands like Metallica to continue doing its thing for as long as it can. Lord knows there isn’t any new talent coming through worth paying to hear, so let’s just hope it isn’t another eight years between records from these legendary San Francisco metallers.

Album Review: FM - Indiscreet 30

Posted on December 11, 2016 at 8:35 PM Comments comments (0)


FM – Indiscreet 30
Written by Juliano Mallon

Every band / artist has a work considered classic by the fans and / or critic. That album is taken as reference of a period or, in many cases, of a whole career and in this case, the crown jewel of UK’s FM will always be the magnificent "Indiscreet", released in 1986. A beautiful representative of the best European AOR of the 1980s that was reissued in a 2-disc edition in 2012, with some remixes and live recordings. That edition would’ve been enough for me (as a fan of the band since the beginning of their career), but for some reason, FM decided to re-record their most remarkable work.

This re-writing strategy usually aims at regaining rights to the material (honestly, I don’t know if that's the case here), and it usually brings disastrous results, with very few exceptions, like when Harem Scarem revisited their opus Mood Swings " in 2013. Everything was so perfectly in place that even the new songs are great. In the case of FM, this new edition of "Indiscreet" brings seven extra songs, but only one of them is new; All others have already appeared on albums and E.P.'s released since 2010.

About the album, bassist Merv Goldsworthy said: "We're not trying to recreate the original, but this is our interpretation of FM today, with the sound of FM 2016." Well, if you look at the album from that point of view, the result is excellent.

One has to consider the fact of the three decades since the album's release, which implies listening to the always perfect Steve Overland using his voice a few tones below what we have for reference. It's a detail that does not compromise the album at all, as long as you leave the nostalgia aside. Overall, little has changed compared to the original album, but there are more prominent guitars and keyboards from time to time. It is also evident that the backing vocals are no longer as powerful and this is quite annoying. Also, some songs gained backing vocals where originally there were none. Not a bad thing, just unnecessary, if you ask me.

Still, the guitars gained more prominence, but without taking away space of the keyboards. Many of the fade outs were extended and performed as the band still perform them live, a pretty cool detail on the album. And one must praise the great work that Jim Kirkpatrick did in recreating Chris Overland's riffs and licks. However, Jem Davis falls short in many moments (not for lackiing talent, but for a mere choice of equipment) when compared to Didge Digital, but this is the opinion of an old, longtime fan. For many of you, this detail won’t matter at all.

But let's talk about the extra songs: "Let Love Be The Leader" was released as a single in 1986 and had never appeared on any official FM album until the aforementioned reissue of "Indiscreet", four years ago. The version presented here has the same introduction of the extended remix, with the addition of a more prominent guitar and also a longer end, but the keyboards sound way too “vanilla”. Also, since this song requires a powerful vocal drive, the final result is quite average. A pity, since "Let Love Be The Leader" is one of the coolest FM songs from their 80’s era.

Then there’s "Running On Empty", a radio friendly rocker that follows the melodic line FM’s been presenting since 2010 and that accurately portrays the current musical direction of the band, with an easy melody allied to an engaging arrangement that privileges guitars together with Mr. Overland's unmistakable vocals, sounding more like the material of both "Rockville" than with the material we heard in "Heroes & Villains", for example.

In general, the melodic structures have all been maintained (except for one thing or another), and so you know what to expect, musically speaking. The reinterpretations were cool (as much as possible) and sound interesting when compared to the original versions. Of course, it would’ve been much better for us - the fans - if the band had came up with an all-new album, but I think it's time for FM to take a step back, look closely at the path taken in 2010, and plan carefully what they intend to present us from now on. This AOR / Pop Rock formula is worn out, making the albums predictable and a band as important as FM just cannot not be satisfied to stay put, as far as music goes. I’m sure every FM fan awaits the return of the band that surprised everyone when, in the early 90's, turned the table with "Aphrodisiac", one of their most relevant albums. It's time for the band to turn the table again ...

Album Review: Airbourne - Breakin' Outta Hell

Posted on December 11, 2016 at 8:30 PM Comments comments (0)


Airbourne – Breakin' Outta Hell
Written by Dave Smiles

I don’t think Airbourne sound anything like AC/DC. For some unknown reason they’ve been hit by that stigma. Perhaps it’s due to the international acclaim the band has achieved, and in order to market a new band from Australia there’s the preconceived notion that all bands from Australia sound like AC/ DC. The truth couldn’t be further from that assumption.

If you’ve been a fan of Airbourne since the release of their debut album Running Wild almost ten years ago you’ll be able to appreciate the growth this band has gone through over the years as song writers and performers. So if you like your rock n roll loud, pure and filled with plenty of lyrics about drinking, partying and sex, then Airbourne is just what’s needed to get you going. With song titles like It’s Never Too Loud, Get Back Up, Down on You, and It’s All For Rock N Roll, you can get a good indication of what to expect.

What has always remained true to the band is the spirit of solid Aussie pub rock. This isn’t about flashy guitar solos or over produced modern rock sounds. This is face melting riffs and solos, tight rhythm sections and lyrics with accessible hooks best consumed with a cold beer and some mates at the local pub. – Of course, these songs would transcend perfectly to stadium audiences, but the local industry seems unwilling or unable to support new talent and help to develop to the same level that bands achieved in times past. Why this band can play to thousands of people in festival overseas, but are left performing to maybe a hundred people in pub gigs back home in Australia is beyond my understanding.

The sad thing is, in the next five to ten years we’re facing a serious lack of good rock n roll bands as more and more of the classic rock bands are forced to call it a day. Rock N Roll can live forever, if people are willing to allow its eternal torch to be passed to the next generation.

Album Review: Dante Fox - Breathless

Posted on December 11, 2016 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (0)


Dante Fox – Breathless
Written by Juliano Mallon

In the mid-1990s, when AOR was more undeground than ever, Dante Fox's name emerged as one of the most promising, thanks to their catchy songs as well as the striking vocals of Sue Willets Manford. Time has passed and the band has established itself as one of the most respected in the AOR / Melodic Rock scene, having four great albums under their belt.

Now, the band resume their activities with "Breathless", a work that brings Dante Fox in an upward curve with one of the best sets of songs of their career.

One of Dante Fox’s trademarks is the exhilarating rockers and this is found in awesome tracks such as the excellent "Young Hearts", "All Eyes On You", "Break These Chains" and "Dynamite (Your Love Is Like)", all easily ranked as album highlights, being perfect examples of the best contemporary AOR / Melodic Rock, with engaging melodies, well-constructed arrangements and chilling performances of Ms. Willets Manford.

And equally noteworthy are "Breathless," "Broken Hearted Man," "I Can Not Stop Tonight," and "How Will You Know (Where To Find Me) , All exhilarating rockers that deserve your total and unrestricted attention.

Still, the ballads "A Love Affair" comes as a beautiful surprise, as well as the excellent "Creeps Into My Mind", brought acoustically, as the second version of “Broken Hearted Man”, and the result is simply spectacular and worthy of multiple auditions.

In summary, my friends, I categorically affirm that "Breathless" is one of Dante Fox's best albums. As I mentioned before, the set of songs has a lot of quality and the interpretations of Ms Willets Manford are absolutely flawless, as well as the precise backing vocals of the great Lee Small and the precise guitars of Mr. Manford. Also worth mentioning is the presence of Eric Ragno, whose keyboards fit perfectly into the band’s private universe.

Therefore, I recommend hearings not only of "Breathless", but also of Dante Fox's previous four albums (released between 1996 and 2012) so that you can more accurately assess the ascent to which I referred at the beginning of this review. The return of Dante Fox is one of the best surprises of 2016 and "Breathless" lives up to the good name the band has built. “Breathless” is highly recommended and is out now on AOR Heaven.

Album Review: HammerFall - Built To Last

Posted on December 11, 2016 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (0)


HammerFall – Built To Last

Written by The Rock Man

 

For close to two decades Sweden’s HammerFall have administered their brand of medieval themed fantasy heavy metal to the masses; and that impart continues with the release of the band’s new album Built To Last.

 

I don’t know whether Built To Last is just a clever title or the band making a statement but I can’t think of a better way to describe the resolve of this band over time. When you consider that when the band formed in the mid-1990s metal music was struggling to survive and the world was caught up in Grunge fever. The demand for this type of ‘80s Judas Priest/Accept inspired music was pretty low. So to forge a career with this style of metal and be successful with it over a twenty year recording career, while their peers are going off in a different direction, is quite honestly extraordinary and courageous.

 

From day one guitarist and band founder Oscar Dronjak has had a clear vision of what he wanted HammerFall to be and the legacy of that vision continues to grow with Built To Last. This is an album for the true believers, those who have metal running in their veins, those who appreciate that metal is more than a form of artistic expression but a lifestyle, those that live it day to day.

 

The album kicks off in blinding fashion with Bring It! and honestly this track alone tells you everything you need to know about this record. The guitar work from Dronjack and Pontus Norgren is flamboyant, flawless and exhilarating but all the while maintaining a nice balance of melodic punch, while the solos are scorching to say the least. Bassist Fredrik Larsson hits the pocket every time with his bass runs while drummer David Wallin lays down some solid double bass thunder and reliable snare aggression and swagger. Which leaves vocalist Joacim Cans, arguable one of the best in the industry today. The melodies and harmonies are dynamic, beautiful and soaring all at the same time and delivered with power.

 

But if you still require additional evidence look to tracks such as Hammer High, Stormbreaker, The Star Of Home and Dethrone And Defy as further confirmation. But of all the noteworthy tracks on Built To Last the standout moment for me was New Breed. In 2016 you don’t get anymore ‘80s metal in style and attitude than this song; this juggernaut captures the spirit of metal perfectly with its driving, snappy guitar hook to die for and who could resist lyrics like “New Breed/old breed/we are all the same breed/heavy metal running through our veins”… classic isn’t it? Of course it’s not all full steam ahead, the band takes the opportunity to show a gentler side with the tracks Twilight Princess and Second To None which execute a stirring balance of power and grace.

 

Built To Last, like many of the band’s works, is a prime example of how metal should be done today. The fact that so many bands of their generation choose to ignore this is a little disturbing to me but that argument is for another day. For here and now however I am just grateful that there is still one band out there prepared to stay the course for traditional heavy metal of old.

Album Review: Bon Jovi - This House Is Not For Sale

Posted on November 6, 2016 at 8:40 PM Comments comments (0)


Bon Jovi – This House Is Not For Sale

Written by The Rock Man

 

For those rock fans feeling a little unsatisfied with the past couple of Bon Jovi releases, the pleasing news is their new studio album This House Is Not For Sale is guaranteed to make those previous efforts a distant memory. By his own admission, frontman and chief architect Jon Bon Jovi has stated that the past year or so has been difficult for himself and the band; but on THINFS what we find here is a band re-energised and firing on all cylinders.

 

So before we go any further let’s address the elephant in the room: The departure of Richie Sambora. While I still have trouble coming to terms with the fact that I now live in a world where Sambora is no longer the right hand man to JBJ, the simple fact is he’s not in the band anymore. End of story. The burning question then becomes: Can Bon Jovi successfully exist without Sambora? Strangely, after just one listen to THINFS the answer might not only be yes, but “Hell Yeah!”

 

Bon Jovi have always been and will continue to be a “heavy guitar driven” rock outfit and a major part of that now falls on Phil X (Xenidis), and it doesn’t take too long into the album before you get the feeling he is more that capable of getting the job done. The solos throughout are scorching while the leads and rhythms are dynamic and bold and I can’t help but feel his inclusion has added a freshness and needed shot of enthusiasm to the entire band.

 

So what of the material? THINFS is jam packed with killer rockers, but there are a couple of standouts that can’t go without a mention. First up is Born Again Tomorrow; this number has everything you could want in a song: all of those guitar qualities I just mentioned, a driving rhythm section which refuses to let you go and loads of melody and punch in the vocal department. If this isn’t a future single, I’ll be shocked. Next is Knockout which is already a single. Simply put, this song knocks it out of the ball park. And God Bless This Mess is one of those positive uplifting rockers they do so well.

 

On the band’s previous release Burning Bridges, JBJ spelt out in no uncertain terms his thoughts on the record industry and the band’s former label on the title track. On the title song for THINFS Bon Jovi takes this theme a step further boldly declaring that their integrity, creativity, and brand is no longer in a position to be exploited by greedy record powerbrokers. It is clear this is still a burning issue for the band as The Devil’s In The Temple, also takes another swipe at the industry and their former label. Now, Living With The Ghost is a song about lost love, but depending on how far you’re willing to read into things there could also be a few lines here with double meanings pointing Sambora’s way. But that is for individual listeners to decide.

 

You can’t say “power ballad” and not think Bon Jovi. On THINFS the band serves up Labour Of Lov which screams of Springsteen-esque undertones. Also checkout Scares On My Guitar, this cut explores the most important asset any singer/songwriter has and that is the relationship between himself and his guitar. By now we’re all aware that JBJ is the world’s eternal optimist and his belief in hope and prosperity shines through on New Year’s Day, which, reading between the lines, is a metaphor for new beginnings and fresh starts. Something the band clearly feels it has at this point of their career.

 

For 30 odd years I have followed this band and it has been a few years since I was this excited about a new record. Initially I came away from listening to THINFS comparing it to The Circle, with maybe a sprinkling of Have A Nice Day, which are clearly in my mind two of their better efforts in the past decade or so. This in short is simply a stunning effort and one of the “must have” albums of 2016.

Album Review: Roth Brock Project - Roth Brock Project

Posted on November 6, 2016 at 8:35 PM Comments comments (0)


Roth Brock Project – Roth Brock Project
Written by Juliano Mallon

In 2009 veteran Terry Brock met guitarist John Roth while recording "Promise Land", that Giant album that was not from Giant. And that mutual friendship and musical synchronicity were responsible for the emergence of the Roth Brock Project, an effort that emerges as one of the best surprises of the year. Roth’s talent led him to play with the likes of Winger and currently with Starship, while Brock is one of the most recognized and respected voices in the AOR universe, mostly known for his spectacular albums with Strangeways. With so much quality gathered on the same work, the result could only be above average.

Absolutely centered in the voice/guitars duo, the album offers a good range of devastating rockers such as "Young Gun", "What's It Too Ya", the friendly radio "Young Again" and "If That's What It Takes"; the later two being highlights of the album. Despite having the same melodic focus, each song is quite different from the next and they all show Terry Brock’s astonishing vocal versatility.

Moving on one must applaud the beautiful mid-pacer "I Do Not Know Why" another highlight of the album and one that refers too the best moments of Strangeways and also the rockers "We Are" and the spectacular radio friendly "My City" which features a precise dose of keyboards. Both songs deserve your total and unrestricted attention and that traditional lack of moderation when listening to them.

Also, I must mention "Never Givin 'Up", an engaging ballad that sounds much better than "Distant Voices", the other ballad of the album, in my humble opinion. Anyway, listen to both carefully and draw your own conclusions.

In short my dear friends, the first work of the Roth Brock Project stands out from most of the stuff out there due to a crucial detail: the sound is almost entirely organic. Still, the mix is ​​well balanced, placing all the instruments and voices in their exact spots. Musically, the videos on Youtube paint a perfect picture of what the album has to offer. But Do not expect anything similar to the pompous AOR of Giant and Strangeways. This album sounds more like the first of Terry Brock’s solo work, version 2016. A beautiful surprise that deserves your attention and also a place in your collection.

The Roth Brock Project self-titled debut album will be out on Nov. 04th, via Frontiers Records.

Album Review: Tyketto - Reach

Posted on November 6, 2016 at 8:25 PM Comments comments (0)


Tyketto – Reach

Written by The Rock Man

 

Around 1989-1992 there was a batch of exciting up and coming hard rock and metal bands that got their big break in the mainstream arena. The future looked bright for this crop of new talent but virtually overnight those futures were wiped out by the rise and rise of the grunge movement. Unfortunately for many of these bands it was simply the wrong time to be forging a career in the rock world. One of those bands that was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time was New York natives Tyketto.

 

Their 1991 debut album Don’t Come Easy was a standout moment of that year and signalled what was supposed to be the beginning of a new age for hard rock and metal; but in the blink of an eye they were left standing by the side of the road with no future as the musical landscape quickly changed around them. Fast forward to 2012 and the band, which had reformed and played a handful of reunion shows since 2004, had released an album of new original material under the title Dig In Deep. This would be a serviceable album that would introduce the band to a whole new generation of rock fan and serve as a platform for the follow up album Reach which the band has just delivered.

 

Original members Danny Vaughn (vocals), Michael Clayton (drums) and Jimi Kennedy (bass) are joined by newcomers Chris Green (lead guitar) and Ged Rylands (keyboards) and instantly you get a feeling that there is some real chemistry going on within the band.

 

The lead single and album opener is the title song. The track is a high energy rocker that is packed full of lyrical emotion and is a great feel good moment. It’s kind of hard to resist smiling and tapping along, or maybe this was just me. From here the pace is set with rockers like I Need It Now, Sparks Will Fly and Big Money but of all of tracks there are a couple of standouts. The first of them is The Fastest Man Alive, which features a very nice meaty guitar riff that tears your head off. This is an awesome cut that is marinating in a strong ‘80s flavour. The same case could be mounted for the following track, Remember My Name. This too features a gritty, raw guitar riff and the addition of harmonica gives the song a strong blues undertone. This was a trend that was very popular amongst hard rock bands back in the ‘80s and it’s great Tyketto are keeping that tradition alive.

 

Other rockers on here of note include Tearing Down The Sky. Lyrically the song focuses on strength of will and character, while musically it features all the hallmarks that make the Don’t Come Easy album great and wouldn’t be out of place on that record. Also be sure to check out Kick Like A Mule, Clayton’s drumming is the standout feature. Of course it’s not all balls-to-the-wall; the band takes time out to slow down the pace with some impressive ballads. All up the record features three, and they are all a consistent quality that you would expect from Tyketto. But the one that stood out to me was Letting Go. Here you’ll find acoustic and electric guitars intertwined. While the electric guitars push the song along, it’s the overlapping acoustic guitars that prove the emotional tenderness required. This coupled with Vaughn’s vocals make for a special moment. If I was putting together a hard rock band today, I would want Vaughn’s ability at the helm.

 

Back in the day Tyketto sat comfortably amongst my Bon Jovi and Whitesnake collection. It’s great to know that in 2016 they still do. Reach is one seriously fun hard rock record.

Album Review: Seven - Shattered

Posted on November 6, 2016 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (0)



Seven – Shattered
Written by Juliano Mallon

Two years after the release of "7", Seven returns with "Shattered", their new album that brings a number of changes since their previous work. The first one is that Mick Devine is the only active member of the original lineup. The other is that the new album features compositions signed by Jeff Paris, Fredrik Bergh and Keith McFarlane, the original guitarist of the band. Musically, "Shattered" follows the very same line as “7”, but it’s in no way a mere copy. Actually, the new album has its own identity and quality to spare.

With keyboards and guitars galore, the rockers "Light Of 1000 Eyes", "A Better Life" and "Fight" open the album showing the melodic line that defines "Shattered”, where all elements are presented in a harmonious way. Therefore, I recommend maximum volume and multiple hearings of each of the aforesaid tracks.

The excellent mid-pacer "Shattered" has an explosive and striking chorus, which makes this song one of the album's highlights, as well as the rocker "Pieces Of You" and "Broken Dream", another awesome mid-pacer that shines through as another highlight of this album. For each of these songs, maximum volume and no moderation when listentening are required.

The rocker "High Hopes" has an undeniable 80's aura and a killer chorus, which turns it into one of the album's highlights, just like the mid-pacer "I Needed Time" with its delicate textures and captivating chorus. In the same vein, but with a heavier approach, the mid-pacer "Last Illusion" has powerful bass lines and drums, while the spectacular rocker "World Of Make Believe" (another highlight) closes the album in a flawless way, bringing together all the elements that make this album in the same as the song.

In short, my dear friends, "Shattered" shows Seven is here to stay and, more importantly, to be recognized as one of the greats of contemporary AOR. With very cool melodies that do not sound like everything else out there, Seven is destined to become now the great band they were set to be back in the late 80’s. It brings me great joy to see a band like Seven, in 2016, practicing contemporary AOR and at the same time, surrounded by 80’s influences, but without sounding dated. There is absolutely no doubt that "Shattered" is not just a more than recommended album, but also one of the best and most consistent releases of the year.

“Shattered” is out now, on Escape Records.

Album Review: Dee Snider - We Are The Ones

Posted on November 6, 2016 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (0)


Dee Snider – We Are The Ones

Written by The Rock Man

 

Twisted Sister were one of my early influences growing up. If I’m being completely honest I’m not sure how I would have survived the mundane day-to-day life of high school without them. So it is fair to say that frontman Dee Snider has been an important part of my life. I’ve taken an interest in all his projects over the years, regardless of what form they take; and I was pretty excited about the prospect of a new solo record. Then when talking about the album Snider said this: "Forget anything from the past. Most of my heavy metal fans are gonna hate it; I've abandoned my past to move forward."

 

Naturally this raises eyebrows and the odd concern starts to creep in. So with a degree of hesitation I got a hold of We Are The Ones casting aside any thoughts that this would be in the mould of Under The Blade or Stay Hungry. Once you come to terms with this fact and leave any pre-conceived ideas at the door, it’s pretty easy to take this record in and see it for what it is; which is Dee Snider re-inventing himself for the modern age.

 

I wasn’t completely sure what to expect when I pushed play but the lead single and opening track We Are The Ones kind of gave me a sense of relief. Okay it’s not ‘80s metal by any means, but it is a solid modern day rock song (at least it’s not country!). Here you’ll find a nice chugging guitar riff with a solid rhythm section underneath and Sniders hallmark defiant lyrical standpoint on display. Snider backs this up with Over Again and Rule The World which follows a similar format and early on one has to wonder ‘what’s not to like?’.

 

I love songs that were written for a specific time or generation that confronted a particular world or social issue of the day, then decades later become more important to the next generation than the original one. That is what has become of We’re Not Gonna Take It. Back in 1984 this was an anthem for the youth of the time but this new piano driven version takes on a whole new life and meaning in today’s world. Of all the tracks on We Are The Ones this is hands down the most powerful. Although to be fair, I’ve always been biased towards this song.

 

Further along there is the Foo Fighter-esque Crazy For Nothing and Believe, in addition to a cover of the Nine Inch Nails track Head Like A Hole. I’ve never been a fan of Nine Inch Nails or that track and yet I found myself tapping along to it. The record comes to a conclusion with So What and this track reminded me of the Twisted Sister song S.M.F. But not in the way you would think because the two songs have no musical similarities what-so-ever. So What is a strong moody acoustic driven song with Snider’s roaring vocals over the top, while S.M.F. is a raging bull. The similarities I speak of are in the lyrical tones and sentiment of the track, once again Snider gives a double handed “one finger salute” to a controlling society that demands conformity; confirming that the same Twisted Sister attitude of the 1980s is still intact and alive and well in 2016.

 

I have often heard members of Twisted Sister say that they aren’t going to record any new material because Snider has nothing to say. Clearly that isn’t the case as this new album of material proves. Did he need to do it in this format and this musical style? I’m not so sure but having said that I still found myself enjoying the final result and I didn’t hate it like Snider suggested I would. But a metal album from him next would be awesome.

Album Review: Meat Loaf - Braver Than We Are (Songs by Jim Steinman)

Posted on October 20, 2016 at 9:25 PM Comments comments (0)


Meat Loaf – Braver Than We Are (Songs by Jim Steinman)

Written by The Rock Man

 

Epic. Massive. Grandiose. A major theatrical event. These are some of the ways to describe the collaborations between Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman. It began almost four decades ago with the very ambitious release Bat Out Of Hell and it is still debateable whether the world was ready for what was about to be unleashed upon it at that time. Bat Out Of Hell was unlike anything ever heard back in the late ‘70s and many struggled to wrap their minds around it; some still do to this day. But Meat Loaf and Steinman had a vision, and would stay true to that vision regardless of industry acceptance until they parted ways during the early 1980s. Of course history will show that the pair would mend their differences in 1990 and have massive success once again with the sequel album Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell in 1993.

 

There is something extraordinary that takes place every single time Steinman’s musical visions are brought to life by Meat Loaf. The partnership’s new project, Braver Than We Are, is no different. If you have followed Meat Loaf’s career over the years then you will know what to expect here; it’s a familiar story. The vocal performances are dynamic and breathtaking (no pun intended) and the musical backdrop is colossal and flamboyant. Braver Than We Are is not the type of disposable noise you have on in the background at a party, but rather the kind of album you put on in maybe, a darkened candle lit room with state-of-the-art sound equipment while relaxing in your favourite recliner. In short: an album for connoisseurs of musical craftsmanship.

 

Braver Than We Are isn’t just big sonically, it’s also big in terms of length. The record features 10 tracks but runs close to an hour with several songs running over the six-minute mark and then there is the massive near 12-minute lead single Going All The Way Is Just The Start. Naturally a shorter four-and-a-half-minute version has been cut and sent out to radio stations for airplay but this version does no justice at all to the album cut. One of the main features of the song is the vocal performance of Ellen Foley, who originally sang the female vocal part on Paradise By The Dashboard Light, back in ’77. Karla DeVito, who also appeared in the video for the aforementioned track also provides vocals on Going All The Way. The track, a lot like the entire album really, ebbs and flows its way through a myriad of musical styles and textures and is everything you would expect from a Jim Steinman penned song.

 

Given that this is a Steinman creation with some songs written pre-Bat Out Of Hell, one of the neat little surprises that arise from time to time is his using of lyrics from other songs he has had success with over the journey. For example, look out for the line “You've been cold to me so long/I'm crying icicles instead of tears” from Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad which appears on the piano/saxophone driven mid-tempo ballad Souvenirs. This track was originally earmarked for the Bat Out Of Hell album but finally sees the light of day here. Then there’s some of Steinman’s most famous lyrics, “Turn around bright eyes!” from the Bonnie Tyler hit Total Eclipse Of The Heat. Steinman first used these words on Skull Of Your Country, another strong moment on this record, he would later use these lyrics as the basis to create the Bonnie Tyler classic. While the album is pretty loaded with powerful piano driven ballads and mid-tempo slow burners, there is also a place and time to rock and that’s what you get in spades on tracks such as More, Godz and Train Of Love, another early ‘70s Steinman gem. But don’t go making the mistake that this record is Bat or Bat II, because Braver Than We Are is its own entity.

 

It is difficult to know when many of these aging rockers are going to “call it a day”, and there is constant raging debate over whether these veterans should continue to release new music. I for one want to see them all carry on for as long as possible because I haven’t heard anything from the next generation of rock star that makes me stand up and take notice like the old timers do. Braver Than We Are is yet further validation that they just don’t make ém like they did back in the good old days.

Album Review: Hardline - Human Nature

Posted on October 20, 2016 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (0)


Hardline – Human Nature
Written by Juliano Mallon

Everyone knows about Hardline’s rise in 1992 from the ashes of Brunette with their classic debut "Double Eclipse" and continuation to be active to this day, alternating good albums with more interesting ones and it’s on the latter category that their new venture "Human Nature" fits. Featuring a heavier sound on some tracks and a more melody-focused bunch on many others, the album shows a more well-oiled Hardline with singer Johnny Gioeli in top form, performing flawlessly the latest material from the band. In fact, there is a great improvement here if we compare “Human Nature” with the most recent works of Hardline.

In the second part of an interview I conducted with Gioeli, he said: "We all wanted a heavier album and I believe we have achieved this goal." Some of the first songs on the album represent this comment perfectly and if you’re looking for an extra weight you’ll surely like "Where Will We Go From Here", "Nobody's Fool" and the frenetic "Running On Empty" (one of the highlights of album), since they all display a more visceral and dynamic sound, but without giving up the melodic factor. I reco

mmend careful auditions of each of them, even if you are not adept of heavier sound. Believe me, you can - and probably will - be surprised. Further on, "The World Is Falling Down", "Where The North Wind Blows" and "In The Dead Of The Night" (both highlights of the album) keep the flow of great songs going, engaging melodies and powerful riffs, played perfectly by Mr . Gioeli. Multiple hearings and maximum volume are recommended.

The excellent mid-pacer "United We Stand" stands out as another highlight in the final stretch of the album (with a killer chorus), which also includes the explosive "Fighting The Battle" (another highlight) besides the power ballad "Human Nature "and the introspective "Trapped In Muddy Waters", all worthy of your full attention and multiple auditions.

Summing up, "Human Nature" marks Hardline’s return to the melodic rock scenario. Johnny Gioeli continues in full form and it is clear throughout the album, which also features the excellent axeman Josh Ramos, showing technique and class like very few others. The songs are excellent and build a very cohesive album, maintaining a melodically sharp line from which the band almost never departs. Also, the tight production is a decisive factor for assessing the quality of the album. Therefore, I say without a doubt that "Human Nature" emerges as one of the good surprises of the year, being a great album worthy of carrying Hardline’s name.

Album Review: Reckless Love - InVader

Posted on October 20, 2016 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)


Reckless Love – InVader

Written by Dave Smiles


Reckless Love have always leaned towards the pop side of rock. Their songs are accessible and very catchy. Being a Glam Metal band from Finland it’s expected that they’d be very visual in the way they present themselves as a band. They’re all accomplished musicians and skilled songwriters, so with the release of InVader I thought I knew what I was going to get with this album. It’s not that they’ve drastically altered their sound. They are still very much Reckless Love, but InVader sees them releasing some of their heaviest music to date, and some of the popiest.


InVader kicks off in familiar territory with We Are The Weekend, as the title suggest this is a twenty four hour party and this is how it’s going to be. With the follow up track Hands I found that this band has a new found fire. There’s an intensity to this song that’s new to this band, making me feel this could be a much heavier album compared to previous works.


Infectious and a perfect choice for a single, Monster brings the humorous lyrics to the album, and further cements the song writing skills of the band. The next track, Child of the Sun, is the first surprise to the album. Keyboard heavy, and very laid back, this shines on the pop side of the band’s sound. At this point I released this album is to show the extremes of the band’s scope and therefore is a very diverse listen. Albums work best when they flow through various moods and textures and InVader does this very well indeed. Scandinavian Girls is another example of the band writing with accessible pop hooks.


What was that I was saying about a heavier Reckless Love? Well if heavy is the way you like your rock you’ll love Bullettime. This is sure to be a live favourite in the band’s shows.


Now Pretty Boy Swagger is interesting as the vocals in the first verse are presented in a rap style, but the subject matter is based firmly in the glam rock culture with a tone of ‘in your face’ attitude, much like the release of this album which may be their best release to date.


Whether it’s the all-out rockers or the laid back poppy songs, Reckless Love know what it takes to write a great song that ticks all the right boxes. The overall sound on this album is as big as you would expect with this type of music and helps to show just how good this band is at what they do.

Album Review: Cry Of Dawn (featuring Goran Edman) - Cry Of Dawn

Posted on October 20, 2016 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)


Cry Of Dawn (featuring Goran Edman) – Cry Of Dawn
Written by Juliano Mallon

Active for over 30 years, veteran Göran Edman has long been acknowledged as one of the best and most respected voices in the AOR/ Melodic Rock scene, having provided invaluable services to Street Talk, Kharma, Crash The System, Covered Call, The Theander Expression, John Norum , Brazen Abbott, Glory and many others. The list is long and varied and if you are not familiar with the works of Mr. Edman, you have no idea how much you are missing.

Now Edman returns with Cry Of Dawn, a project that rescues his AOR vein with songs written by Robert Säll, Steve Newman and Alessandro Del Vecchio, among others. With a sound that refers to the AOR of the early 90s, "Cry Of Dawn" brings some really big surprises.

The album brings devastating rockers like "Chance" (with its infectious chorus), "Listen To Me" (an almost inordinate avalanche of keyboards and guitars is one of the album's highlights), the great "When Right Is Wrong", which reminds me of Street Talk (another highlight of the album) and the dynamic "Tell It To My Heart" (yet another highlight), which sets the standard guitars/keyboards for all the material that follows. Each of these songs deserve maximum volume, no moderation and wide open windows.

The cool "Light Light" keeps pushing the killer sequence of rockers that also includes the great "Can Not Go On" and the frantic "Life After Love", all three containing similar elements in absolutely explosive choruses (where Mr. Edman shows the power of his vocals) and in embracing melodies. Maximum volume is mandatory to check them out. But there's more! The sweeping "Yearn" and "Tell Me" are huge rockers and, no doubt, are also noticed as the album's highlights, given the high quality of both. The recommendations to hear them are the same as always.

The album features two different moments in your tracklist, represented in the great mid-pacers "Building Towers" (b-sections and killer choruses) and "Hands Around My Heart", the latter featuring perfectly balanced guitars and keyboards, weight and melody. Both are easily identified as being highlights of the album and, believe me, you will be amazed at the vocal prowness of Mr, Edman.

In short, dear and beloved, "Cry Of Dawn" is simply one of the best albums of the year. If you are a serious enthusiast of old AOR, you will definitely enjoy this album. The effort features a sound that goes back to the mid-90s and it was fairly frequent in albums Frontiers released back in that period. Also, it’s impossible not to mention the impressive vocal work of the uncanny Göran Edman, an artists who rarely makes mistakes and this album is proof of that. With a team of experienced composers and a very efficient band, the result could not be any other than awesome. I'm hoping this project has a long life and we can hear even more of this classy stuff. A mandatory album in your collection.

Album Review: Operation: Mindcrime - Resurrection

Posted on October 20, 2016 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (0)


Operation: Mindcrime – Resurrection

Written by The Rock Man

 

In early 2013 Metal icon Geoff Tate spoke of an ambitious project he had floating around in his head whist promoting the last ever Queensryche album to feature his voice. A month or so later work had begun on this bold new venture and details started to emerge about an idea he had to create a trilogy of albums devoid of boundaries or restrictions centred around like-minded musicians striving to achieve the same musical goal. From this came the first instalment of Tate’s new vision in 2015 titled The Key.

 

To refresh, The Key poses the question: Imagine you have unearthed the code to the way people view the world and time itself, change the way we travel and the human condition for better or worse, what would you do with it? Set to a backdrop of virtual currencies, internet banking and stock trading. Well, a year later Tate and his unparalleled collaboration of musicians, which includes bassists Dave Ellefson (Megadeth)/John Moyer (Disturded), guitarists Kelly Gray (Myth, Queensryche)/Scott Moughton, keyboardist Randy Gane and drummers Simon Wright (AC/DC, Dio)/Brian Tichy (Whitesnake, Foreigner) continue the story with the follow up album Resurrection.


At this point let me make note that this is a long record: Resurrection contains 14 tracks and clocks in at 64 minutes; now for those of us from the “album generation” who used to listen to records from start to finish this is no big deal. However, for those who are part of the “iTunes generation” who listen to their music in 3-5 minute spurts, this may be an issue and not for those with limited attention spans.

 

So, here we go. As Tate explains “It continues the story that began on “The Key” with the near death experience of the lead character known as ‘H' and his subsequent recovery of the missing encryption key. With the key finally in his possession, ‘H' has everything he needs to finally launch his long awaited project called ‘The New Reality’. Or does he?…”.

 

Interestingly the album kicks off with four really short tracks that are intertwining. These are instrumental/vocal/sound effect pieces that combined set the mood for the record and it has to be said, this record is moody. The first full length song comes in the form of Left For Dead and features all the hallmarks associated with Tate’s music over a 40 plus year career: First class musical arrangements, strong melodic choruses and imaginative storytelling.

 

Taking On The World is a killer cut. One of the many high points of the song is the strong and solid bass lines and rhythmic drum grooves. Another is the guest vocal performances from Tim “Ripper” Owens and Blaze Bayley. Combined with Tate the chorus is big and melodic and a definite home run. A Smear Campaign can best be summed up as an intoxicating blend of heavy, raw guitar hooks and moving saxophone. The keyboards featured throughout are quite haunting and the drumming is simply outstanding. Other moments worth a mention include the hypnotic The Fight and the dynamic Invincible.

 

It is safe to say that Resurrection is only going to appeal to a niche audience, those who started the journey with The Key or those who are hard-core fans of Tate. If The Key set the groundwork for this grandiose story, then Resurrection expands the parameters of the vision and now we wait for what hopefully will be a stunning conclusion.