Friday, September 15, 2023

Rock Blog #23 - Friday Video Frenzy

It's Friday, and here's a few new videos to get you to the weekend mood! 

DRAGONFORCE have released their latest anthem called "Doomsday Party", and it's... very different to what you might expect. Catchy.

The next video was released last week, but I'll add it here anyway, who's stopping me? No-one! It's ERIK GRÖNWALL's fine cover "Livin' On A Prayer"!

BROTHER FIRETRIBE are heading to a tour of Finland this weekend, and to celebrate that, they've released a new song. I don't have an actual video (yet?), but here's the YouTube version of the song, available also on other streaming platforms I'm sure. The song is "Just Another Night", and it's brilliant as usual. 

I've liked DELTA GOODREM for a long time, but this might be the best song she's released so far! "Back To Your Heart" is very much in the AOR vein.

NITRATE has released a few albums already, and with every one of them they've taken steps towards the top of the genre. "All The Right Moves" is their latest single, and a new album is on the way. I think it's going to be a monster of a record! 

VEGA has gone through some personnel changes, with the Martin bros. leaving the band. Tom and James are nowadays a part of the band Nitrate (see above), but that hasn't hindered Vega. They've just released their latest album "Battlelines", which might just be their strongest album yet! This is the latest single "Heroes And Zeros". 

Last week I reviewed the new ECLIPSE album, a good one for sure. The latest video cut from the album is the celtic-flavoured "Anthem".

MASAKI is a new Norwegian band, with members of Stoneflower in the line-up. "Angel Wings" is a video track from their debut album, and it's very good!


Tuesday, September 5, 2023

ECLIPSE: ”Megalomanium”

Label: Frontiers

Rating: RRRR

Swedish hard rock masters ECLIPSE have released a new album, and it’s an event in this corner of this genre of ours, worthy of a dedicated review. The band has been accused of repeating a same formula, and I can see (or hear, to be precise) where those accusations arise. Then again, the band has their own sound and that’s something to be proud of.  On ”Megalomanium” you’ll get some trademark Eclipse melodies and songwriting tricks, but mixed with plenty of new influences. 

Many of the albums we rave about on our pages are either from the eighties or have a distinctively 80’s sound, but I think Eclipse have pretty escaped the retro-thing successfully. Their sound is contemporary, but still accessible for those of us who are maybe somewhat ”stuck in the past”. Yes, I confess I am one of those.

Erik Mårtensson and co. aren’t only spinning their old eighties vinyls for inspiration, they are obviously listening to modern rock bands as well, and adding some elements here and there. The Eclipse sound evolves naturally, although the foundation is the same. I heard touches of Ghost, The Foo Fighters, Green Day and My Chemical Romance, yet all of these songs sound like Eclipse first and foremost.

When it comes to songs, I don’t think this album is as ”hit-packed” as their previous ones, I’d go as far as to say that there are a few fillers among these songs... although Eclipse’s fillers are still better than an average rock song. Interestingly, the three singles ”The Hardest Part Is Losing You”, ”Got It!” and ”Hearts Collide”) that were released before the album didn’t blow me away initially, but in the context of this album they get a new a life and are now my favourite songs from this one. Granted, I didn’t give them too much airtime among the flood of new releases.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

ROCK BLOG #22 - recent releases round-up

 In this entry, I’ll take a long overdue look at some of the recent releases, in no particular order.

One of last week’s releases was SKAGARACK’s comeback album ”Heart And Soul”. The band has stayed somewhat true to their original sound, but if you’re expecting hook-filled, glossy AOR in the vein of their ”Hungry For A Game” album, you might be bitterly disappointed. In fact, this album reminds me more of Brian Howe-era Bad Company than 80’s Skagarack: I hadn’t realized before that Torben Schmidt has a rather similar sound to that of Howe, and the slightly bluesier edge of the new songs points towards Bad Co’s ”Dangerous Age” and ”Holy Water” albums. The songs are not on the same level though, there are no massive hits among these 12 songs. RRR

DAVID FORBES is the vocalist of Canadian AOR band BOULEVARD, and ”Tales Of The Past” is his first solo album. With Steve Newman of the band NEWMAN heavily involved, this album is more in the vein of European AOR/Melodic hard rock, with a harder edge than BLVD. I had high hopes for this album, thanks to some pre-release hype from trusted sources, but in the end I was slightly disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, this is a solid album and the songs are good, but I was hoping them to be great! RRRr

FIFTH ANGEL’s fourth album ”When Angels Kill” is their second after the band’s reformation a few years ago. The previous one didn’t leave much of an impression on me, but I loved their two eighties’ albums. ”When Angels Kill” is slightly better than its’ predecessor, but the hooks of their classic material are mostly missing. And to be honest, I don’t really care for the rough vocal style of their new vocalist Steve Carlson. RRR

STREETLIGHT are a new Swedish band, but you’d be forgiven to think that their debut ”Ignition” was an unearthed gem from 1981! When I saw the artwork, I thought that for sure this is a reissue or something, it’s such a flashback to the early eighties. And when I heard the album, my thoughts didn’t change that much. Some of the songs are more in the vein of modern Swedish AOR, but some of them are very vintage sounding, retro-AOR. For example, listen to ”Caught Up In A Dream” - early Toto maybe? Or ”Overjoyed”…this jumps a few years to 1986 and Survivor’s ”When Seconds Count” sound. And the list goes on, you’ll find subtle traces of Kansas, Chicago, Elton John, Journey… you name it. But everything’s done with style. RRRR

When it comes to songs, ”STEEL BARS - A ROCK TRIBUTE TO MICHAEL BOLTON” is quite close to perfection - 11 songs from Michael Bolton’s classic 80’s AOR solo albums! This album was put together by Frontiers records, and naturally it features vocalists from their roster covering songs from Bolton’s rock years: there’s Ronnie Romero, Girish Pradhan, Robbie LeBlanc, Steve Overland and a few lesser known names too, like Dave Mikulskis and Santiago Ramonda. It’s an interesting concept and you can’t really go wrong with these songs, but then again, you can’t really improve them either. Every singer does a decent job and the arrangements are quite faithful, so there’s nothing to complain about, but… none of the artists really make these songs their own, they’re just good cover versions. The biggest deviation from the original is ”Wait On Love”, which features female vocals from the Big Thrill ladies Ana Nikolic and Nevena Brankovic. ”Desperate Heart” is given a heavier treatment than the original, which is something that I have been hoping for, and this version, sung by Robledo, is one of the highlights of this album. Others include Santiago Ramodna’s ”Save Our Love” and ”Fool’s Game” by Steve Overland. RRRR

In related news… MICHAEL BOLTON released a new album ”Spark Of Light” recently. There’s nothing that could be called ”rock” on it, but that doesn’t come as a surprise, does it? This is adult contemporary pop album with the emphasis on ballads. It’s sounds less over-produced that Bolton’s previous studio album of original material (”One World One Love” 2009), but that one had a few rather good songs. ”Spark Of Light” has a few nice tracks, but that’s about it. Still a great voice, but unremarkable songs. RRr

TANNA released their previous album ”Storm In Paradise” in 2020. Now the band is back with a new album called ”Kohtalon Tuulet”, and they’ve changed the language back to Finnish. As you might know, they started with Finnish-language songs in 1985, became quite successful and released 3 studio albums and one live album before disbanding in 1993. The band’s main man Tapani ”Tanna” Tikkanen put together PRAYER who released three albums between 2005 and 2018. I don’t know whether Tikkanen is hoping to reconnect with his 80’s fans with these new songs or maybe he’s just grown tired of writing in English, but some of his international listeners might have a hard time getting into these songs. Still, some of the songs ”Kohtalon Tuulet” are among the best ones Tanna has written, so it’s worth the effort to check them out. The musical style hasn’t really changed from that of ”Storm…” or Prayer’s albums, it’s still catchy AOR. Maybe he’s got English versions hidden in his drawer. RRRR

Thursday, August 17, 2023

ROCK BLOG #21 - Goodbye Summer?

It's August and the holidays are over, so I'll get back to writing these blog entries too. I haven't been totally idle during the holidays, we did visit Smugglerrok festival and there's a big report of that on the website. 

The flood of new releases didn't really slow down during summer, and I haven't been able to check out all of them. I've also bought quite a few albums, old and new. I'm going through them as I write this, so I thought I'll share my thoughts about them with you.

LINMAN - Heaven Calls: Here's a cult album, a bit of a Holy Grail when it comes to Finnish AOR. No, I haven't found a copy of the original 1992 release, in fact I have never even seen one, and I live in Finland! MelodicRockClassics label have re-issued the album, and it's a good value-for-money package: the album remastered and a another disc of bonustracks. But who is Linman, you ask? Well, he's a Finnish singer/songwriter, father of Andre Linman (One Desire/Sturm Und Drang singer/guitarist) and a former member of the pop-rock duo Place-2-Go. In 1992 he was playing a kind of a mixture of Scandi-AOR and more American sounding classic rock. "Heaven Calls" might not be a classic as such, but it's a good album. The bonustracks are all co-written and produced by Mats "MP" Persson (of Roxette fame), less rock-oriented mostly, but not too bad. RRRR

GOLDEN FARM - Angel's Tears: there are reviews of this in our archives, but I am not sure whether I have heard this album entirely before now. This Spanish band has one of the worst names I've heard, but at least I remembered it when I saw the CD in Disco Loco, a fine record store in Palma De Mallorca. It's strange, I forget a lot of important things yet I remember a review from 2001?!!! Anyway, Golden Farm played AOR/Melodic Hard Rock, nothing revolutionary and they borrowed a lot of ideas from here and there, but somehow they had a fresh approach. I could describe them as combination of Survivor, Van Hagar and 80's Scandi-AOR, lots of keys and excellent vocals. RRRR

SILENT FORCE - Infatuator: another one I picked from Disco Loco. Bought it because of vocalist D.C. Cooper, the mighty voice of Royal Hunt. This is the band's second album from 2001, they've got five in total. First four feature Cooper, Michael Bormann sings on the last one, released in 2013. I am not sure whether this is a keeper, because as much as I like Cooper's singing, the songs are a bit average, standard power metal stuff, Judas Priest meets Helloween but not as good. RRR

GABRIELLE DE VAL - Kiss In A Dragon Night: This one's a rather new release which I picked up from Pride And Joy's sale. Released by Escape Music, this is a bit of an all-star affair, featuring some noteworthy quests sharing vocals with Gabrielle De Val: Mark Boals, Robin McAuley, Mick Devine, Steve Overland and Terry Brock. The tracklisting includes a few covers (Mike Oldfield, Magnum, James Christian), some re-worked versions of Gabrielle's own band The Val's songs and a few songs penned by Steve Overland and Tommy Denander for this project. Solid stuff, definitely a keeper. RRRR

SINOPOLI - The Eyes Never Lie: a Disco Loco pick again, for 3 euros I took a gamble. Another early 2000's release, but actually a compilation of late eighties' stuff. I remembered that they had something to do with songwriter/producer Jack Ponti, and indeed I found his name as producer on one of the tracks. No songwriting credits though, even though some of the songs sound a bit like poor man's Baton Rouge or Surgin'. Then again, some songs have a bit of a 70's glam rock vibe, and there's even one Bowie cover here. All in all, a bit of a mishmash, some of the songs are of demo quality...the midtempo or semi-ballad tracks "It's Too Late" and "Be My Lover" are the best ones. RRR

BILLY HARVEY - Moonlight Theatre: a 1997 release from the MTM label. They released quite a few brilliant AOR and melodic hard rock albums in their time, but this one isn't one of those. This is singer/songwriter stuff along the likes of Danny Wilde, John Mellencamp or the latest Bon Jovi album. Harvey writes good stories but the music side of these songs is just downright boring. RR

To be continued...


Saturday, July 1, 2023

PHAETON: “Between Two Worlds”

Rating: RRRRr 
Label: INB Music 
Review by Martien Koolen

Phaeton was formed in Kimberley, BC in March 2017 by Kevin Thiessen (guitars), Daniel Airth (guitars), Ferdy Belland (bass guitars) and Colin Righton (drums) and these guys play instrumental progressive metal as you have almost never heard before as ‘Between Two Worlds” is the ultimate instrumental epic progressive metal listening of this year! 

If you, like yours truly, are into guitar pickers such as Steve Vai or Joe Satriani and bands like Rush, Symphony X, Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment then “Between Two Worlds” is a MUST have album as Phaeton really shines right from the opening track “Predestination”, featuring amazing double lead guitars, till the last song, being the title track. All the eight instrumental songs feature killer guitar riffs, hooks, melodies, and solos galore and drummer Righton really plays his ass off, while bass guitarist Belland proves he is second to none here, his formidable bass playing reminding me of John Myung indeed.

“Oceans Of Time” has a pure classic heavy metal inro and even features some Black Sabbath characteristics, while “Refraction” even has a heavy reggae passage. “Monsoon,” one of my favourites of the album, stands out due to the very melodic guitar solos which give me goosebumps every time I listen to that track. But the absolute highlight and metal gem of this album is without a shadow of a doubt the extraordinary title track. “Between Two Worlds,’ the song, is the magnum opus of Phaeton: a progressive instrumental metal rollercoaster, almost second to none. This impressive track is filled with power chords galore, outstanding melodies, neck breaking riffs, almost inimitable solos and lots of tempo changes and variety; in other words, you never get bored here, even as the song clocks in over the nine minutes mark! 

Well, there you have it, a killer album indeed, wonderfully arranged and produced; a superb prog metal opus where the music almost makes you dizzy, but most of all longing for more indeed. “Between Two Worlds” to me is one of the absolute highlights of this year, a unique twist and rollercoaster of progressive, instrumental metal, highly recommended indeed: especially suitable for fans of Rush, Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment. Play it LOUD and you will be hooked, listening tip: “Monsoon.”

Saturday, June 24, 2023

ROCK BLOG #20 - Midsummer Video Stream

 Here's a selection of new cool videos I've checked out today!

Hell's Addiction - Scream Your Name

Rebelstar - Hold On To The Night

Rian - Carry My Wings

Stardust - Heroes

Jimbo's Garage - Living The Hard Way

Thursday, June 15, 2023


 Hello there!

There's a heatwave in this part of Finland, it's 27 celsius degrees in the shade (that's around 84 in Fahrenheit degrees). I'm sitting in the backyard with the laptop, enjoying the weather. Gotta make the best of these days since soon it'll be the Midsummer, and traditionally it rains then!

Most of the spare time I've had this week I've spent on writing the ROCKFEST review. It's now done and partly online already, check it out here.

I haven't had much time to check out new albums, but there's one I want to mention - "Drive" from THE DEFIANTS. I've only played it a couple of times but it's surely one of the better albums of 2023. I just can't seem to get past the video song "Go Big Or Go Home" - this is the kind of a song that should be played at arenas, festivals, sporting events... but small miracles should happen for this to become reality. Just listen yourself:

Thursday, June 1, 2023


It’s the first of June! It’s summer! And what goes hand in hand with summer - festivals of course! Next week we’ll visit ROCKFEST in Hyvinkää on Friday, when the headliners are MÖTLEY CRUE and DEF LEPPARD. Also in the line-up there’s The 69 Eyes, Crashdiet, Stratovarius and Nestor. Many others too, but we can’t be in many places at the same time. (Photo by Julius Konttinen) 

Now, back to the normal programming - the new music. And old music. 

I’m not a vinyl addict but I do have a mission to collect my favourite albums in that format too. Last week I was able to cross off one from my list - the debut HAREM SCAREM album. It was reissued in the MUSIC ON VINYL series, a limited clear vinyl edition of 666 pieces. Mine is number 51.

Now  scrolling through my playlist of 2023 albums… hey, have I mentioned ”Paragon” by FLOOR JANSEN? It’s definitely worth mentioning, my rating for it is RRRR. If you’re thinking it’s going to be symphonic metal you’re off the mark, it’s melodic pop rock with good hooks and refreshingly airy arrangements. Some of the songs even made me think of musicals, and not in a bad way.

The latest REVOLUTION SAINTS has gotten mixed reviews, but I like it. It gets the RRRR rating, maybe the songs aren’t totally worth of that but the magical voice of DEEN CASTRONOVO elevates them. ”Eagle Flight”, ”Kids Will Be Kids” and Treat main man Anders Wickström’s ”Crime Of The Century” are my favourites. 

Italian hard rockers PERFECT VIEW have released 4 albums so far, and as I recall, I’ve heard the first two but they didn’t really leave an impression. Now with their fourth one ”Bushido”, I think they’ve created their strongest album so far, and this should raise their status to the next level. It’s sophisticated AOR with clever arrangements and excellent production, comparable to Tall Stories, 21 Guns and Winger. Strangely enough, the most immediate songs are on the second half of the album, but it’s quality stuff from start to finish. RRRR. 

Even though I liked the first single from the new IMPERIUM album, it seems I really can’t get into their stuff. ”Never Surrender” album has two fantastic singers (Michael Bormann and Robbie LaBlanc) and the music is just the kind of stuff I have filled my CD shelves with, but something doesn’t click. Nice songs, but maybe a bit too nice and generic. RRR.

That’s it for now, I’ll be back next week with more… 

Friday, May 19, 2023

ROCK BLOG #17 - Friday Night Video Frenzy

This time I want to introduce a few new videos! First up, we've got the new one from MIDNITE CITY. It's called "Girls Gone Wild" and what seems like a standard performance video has a bit of a twist... awesome song by the way!

Then we have a metal ballad from PYRAMAZE. It's a duet featuring Melissa Bonny. A nice, dramatic song. 

IMPERIUM from Finland have released 3 albums so far, and "Together Forever" is from the forthcoming fourth album. Could be the project's best one, we'll see. I like this Michael Bormann-song a lot! 

CIRCUS OF ROCK just released their second album, and after just one spin, I can already say that it's better than the first one. Which wasn't too bad either. This is the latest video "Nine Lives", featuring Mr. Lordi on vocals.

The next album from ART NATION sounds like a killer, judging by the songs they've released so far. Here's the latest one, "1001". 

I actually haven't heard anything by MAMMOTH WVH before this one, but I have to check them (or him...) out, because "Another Celebration At The End Of The World" rocks. The video is a long one, but a good one. 

H.E.A.T. have released a couple of new tracks, which will be a part of their special "Extra Force" release later this year. "Extra Force" will include the 2 new tracks, two Kenny-sung versions of older songs and 4 live tracks. Anyway, here's "Will You Be".

One more addition - the new WITHIN TEMPTATION video/visualizer "Wireless":

Friday, May 12, 2023


 The endless flood of new releases keeps me busy, because there’s only so much time I can devote to listening to music. Yet I want to check out everything. And there’s the old stuff I want to revisit or discover… I know, I’m a rockaholic, a music addict. Even when I’m not listening to anything, the radio inside my head won’t stop playing. Some of you may be able to relate…

BAI BANG. They’ve been around since the mid-eighties. Despite never reaching more than a cult band level, they keep on rocking, and this year they’ve released their 9th album ”Sha Na Na Na” (RRRr). I’m not sure whether they can reach the next level with this one, but I applaud their persistence. The only remaining original member, vocalist Diddi Kastenholt has been steering this ship on five decades now! Anyway, on ”Sha Na Na Na” he’s written some rather catchy tunes in the vein of Wig Wam or Sha-Boom. My favourites include ”I Don’t Really Know”, ”It’s Enough”, ”I Know All The Hits” and the title track. There are a few throwaway tracks and  a dull Abba cover which lower my rating a bit, but this isn’t half bad. 

LORDI have released about 100 songs during the last three years! That must be some kind of a record? ”Screem Writers Guild” (RRRR) is their latest effort, with some kind of a movie theme. On ”Killection” and the 7-album ”Lordiversity” box they explored some new territories, but this one is ”classic” Lordi, 80’s influenced hard rock with big choruses and Mr. Lordi’s trademark rough vocals. He does showcase his softer side on ”The Bride”, a ballad that reminds me of 70’s Alice Cooper. The song most likely to become a Lordi classic? ”The Thing In The Cage”. 

MARTIN MILLER has been getting rave reviews for his ”Maze Of My Mind” album. I won’t join the queue, and for me it’s only an RRR album. It’s well executed smooth prog/AOR hybrid but I don’t find it very memorable. Superb musicianship and somewhat LaBrie-like vocals, but the songs are maybe a bit too complicated for my taste.

“Better Days Comin’” was the title of the last WINGER album back in 2014. Well, it wasn’t the best prediction I guess… but better days are finally here, at least when it comes to Winger. Their new album “Seven” has just been released and it’s a good one! RRRR good for sure! 

“Seven” is a little darker and heavier than the band’s classic material, but still melodic. Somewhere between “Pull” and the more serious songs of “In The Heart Of The Young”, but then again, something quite different. 

“Proud Desperado” (co-written by Desmond Child), “Tears Of Blood” and “Stick The Knife In And Twist” are among my favourite tracks. 

After watching the JOHN WAITE movie “The Hard Way” I’ve revisited his solo albums, selecting tracks for a “Best Of” playlist. The first draft of the list seems to concentrate on “Rover’s Return”, “Temple Bar” and “Figure In A Landscape”. Still… my favourite John Waite-sung tracks are on the two Bad English albums. 

Another old band whose material I have also revisited recently is FIFTH ANGEL. The Seattle-based melodic metal band released two fine albums in the eighties, then called it a day. They reformed for a couple of successful shows in Europe a few years ago, and released their third album “The Third Secret” in 2018. That didn’t really do anything for me, the songs are okay but mostly not on the same level as the vintage material. However, a new one is to be released in June, and the title track “When Angels Kill” has already been released. It’s pretty good so I have high hopes for the album.

Tomorrow (Saturday 1th of May 2023) it’s the day of the Eurovision Song Contest Final, and I have a feeling that Finland will win. KÄÄRIJÄ’s “Cha Cha Cha” is a goofy, catchy track and it’s already a hit, despite being sung in Finnish. Never mind the fact that Käärijä isn’t really a singer, the competition isn’t about that anymore. I guess it says something that one of his rivals, LORD OF THE LOST from Germany have already released a cover version of the song. I actually prefer their metalized version and it’s somehow endearing when Germans sing in Finnish!

Thursday, April 20, 2023


I'm laying in bed, totally drained of energy, thanks to a bad case of flu. Our cats Mindy & Misty are keeping me company. I have my laptop here, and I trying to come up with a few lines of rockblogging for you all.

The Mötley case... it's such a shame. To put the blame on Mick Mars, as if he was the one ruining their live shows... Not cool. They're coming to Rockfest here in Finland, but I really don't know whether I want to see them anymore. My prediction: in a couple of years, they will be on tour with KISS, and it's going to be called "The Real Final Farewell Tour to end all Tours", with hologram Dio supporting. Everything is going to be pre-recorded and each band has only one original member on stage. My crystal ball doesn't tell me which one.

Last week's big release was the new Metallica album. I haven't got an opinion, I haven't heard it. It's been discussed everywhere, so I think you've read enough about it, right? 

What I have heard is "Will You Be There", the debut EP from EMOTIONAL FIRE. This Swedish 5-piece band has been put together by Ron and Nina Dahlgren, who are also responsible for the all-star project Gathering of Kings. Their vision was to create the definite all-female AOR/hard rock band. They introduced themselves a while ago with their "namesake" song "Emotional Fire", originally recorded by Cher in 1989. It's a classic track written by the three masters, Diane Warren, Desmond Child and Michael Bolton. The band's version is great, but nothing matches the over-the-top intensity of the original! There are three other songs on this EP, two covers and the title track, a tailormade song for the band. It's penned by Pete Alpenborg, Rick Altzi and Ulrick Lönnqvist, profilic songwriters/musicians from Sweden. It's a very good song, but even better is the Bucks Fizz cover "Breaking Me Up". A completely new song to me, but it won me over immediately. Pulsating keys and a hard-hitting chorus is what I like. The other cover is more familiar, Russ Ballard's "Your Time Is Gonna Come". This version is very powerful and it might be blasphemous to say, I think I like it more than the original. 

I also briefly checked out the new MAGNUS KARLSSON'S FREEFALL album "Hunt The Flame". I've always liked Karlsson's songwriting and style and he has once again gathered a great cast of singers for this project, but... it's not an instant hit for sure, on the previous Freefall albums there was more variety but this seems to be mostly turbo-charged Karlsson Metal. I think it needs a few more spins, maybe it'll open up somehow. By the way, that Girish dude sure gets around!

Friday, April 14, 2023



Just some random thoughts... "Mood Swings" by HAREM SCAREM! One of the best albums of all time! I've been revisiting it this week again, and this new thought came up: it sounds like a "Best Of" album of a band with several albums under their belt. Every song is different to the next one, yet it doesn't sound disjointed. My favourite songs? "Saviours Never Cry", "Sentimental Boulevard", "No Justice"... they're all good though.

To celebrate the album's 30th anniversary, the band is releasing it on vinyl for the very first time. It's only available as a special bundle with all kinds of extras, you can check it here:

The price tag of 89,95 is a bit high, especially considering that there would be shipping costs and taxes on top of that. So, as much as I'd like to own this on vinyl too, I think I'll pass. Hopefully there will be a "regular" vinyl version available one day.

STEVE LUKATHER's new video is pretty good, very much like TOTO, and why wouldn't it be when it features JOSEPH WILLIAMS and DAVID PAICH as well?

Hungarian rockers STARDUST have also released a new video "The Fire" and I like it a lot. Looking forward to their next album!

Today was the release date of MIKE TRAMP's "Songs Of White Lion" album. I listened to it...  I understand what he's doing and these versions aren't bad, but having grown up with the originals they only sound mostly like tamed-down versions. The lion that was "Hungry" is now merely "a bit peckish". Should the tour come to a town nearby, I'd be there in a heartbeat to listen to the soundtrack of my youth (my life!), but 
frankly I don't think the album will get too many spins around here.

Hey, H.E.A.T. released a new track called "Freedom" a few ago, and I think it's a killer! Somewhat more bouncy and upbeat than what they offered on "Force Majeure". 

Thursday, March 30, 2023


A couple of weeks have passed by since the last blog entry, what has happened meanwhile? New albums have been released, and I’ve tried to listen to most of them, at least the ones in this genre. Here are my thoughts on some of them, and other stuff.

KAMELOT’s ”The Awakening” has already gotten more spins than their last few albums here at Rockunited HQ. Tommy Karevik is one of my favourite singers, and he does an amazing job on this album, as usual. So much emotion, so much melody… he positively soars. The standout songs so far: ”The Great Divide” and the beautiful ”Midsummer’s Eve”. RRRR

DEMONS DOWN has been marketed as some kind of continuation of  the HOUSE OF LORDS legacy, because there are former and current HOL members involved. I find it strange as the band is still going on strong under the command of James Christian, and on the same label... being a Frontiers project, you won’t get any prizes for guessing who produced or co-wrote the songs, but I would say that this is a rather good project. Vocalist James Robledo certainly has the pipes, and the advertised former/current HOL guys Jimi Bell, Ken Mary and Chuck Wright are top players and Jimi Bell is credited as co-writer on most of the songs. Fancesco Savino adds his guitar chops to the mix, and Alessandro Del Vechhio is responsible for the keys. The highlight: ”To The Edge Of The World”. RRRr

ROBIN MCAULEY’s new album ”Alive” is also a Frontiers project with all the usual suspects writing the songs (Del Vecchio, Lönnqvist, Alpenborg), not exclusively though. McAuley is involved of course, but also Tommy Denander, Hernan Nori and Guillermo De Medio. I guess the latter two are newer additions to the Frontiers songwriter pool. McAuley is one of the originals from the 80’s hard rock scene, yet he can still deliver excellent vocals. The music is roughly in the same style as the classic McAuley Schenker Group albums, but some of the songs remind me a lot of the Scorpions for some reason. ”Feel Like Hell” for example, could be taken from one of the latter-day Scorpions albums. Anyway, This has gotten better after each spin. RRRR

DESTINATION UNKNOWN is a UK band featuring vocalist Brad Henshaw and multi-instrumentalist Jon Drewbury. They deliver us an album of smooth AOR, with their own songs and others handpicked from writers like Adrian Gurvitz, Jim Capaldi, Svein Dag Hauge and David Pack. This is definitely not Hard Rock, we’re talking about keyboard driven pop rock. Think Chicago, Michael Bolton (circa 1989-1993)… maybe a bit too smooth even for my taste, but I can’t deny that this is well excecuted soft rock. RRR

Apart from new stuff, I’ve made some bargain finds and other purchases lately. I upgraded my vinyl copy of HURRICANE’s debut EP ”Take What You Want” to a CD last week. I know, some of you vinyl maniacs might call it degrading… I got the 10-track version with  a few bonustracks  (alternative versions of songs from the ”Over The Edge” album). Kelly Hansen, who’s currently fronting FOREIGNER sounded great already back in the mid-eighties. ”Take Me In Your Arms” is a fine song, as is the ballad ”It’s Only Heaven”. 

Also last week I took a chance on some cheap vinyl albums, and 2 out of 3 three are keepers I think. As Meat Loaf sang, that ain’t bad. 

UK artist CHRIS SUTTON I didn’t know at all, but recognized some of the names involved: producer Dennis Lambert, songwriters Russ Ballard, Franne Golde, Martin Page and Peter Wolf. And it was a 1986 release and cost me a couple of euros, so I gambled. Despite Sutton being a fine singer with a voice that reminds me a bit of Stan Bush, this album isn’t one the keepers, too lightweight and pop for me. Song to check out: ”Don’t Push Your Love”. 

AVIARY then… I was vaguely familiar with the name, I’ve seen the album being re-issued by Rock Candy so I thought I’d pick it up. As it happens, I’ve actually reviewed Aviary leader Brad Love’s solo album about 20 years ago, and I gave it 7 out of 10 back then. Apparently I don’t have it in my collection anymore. Anyway, the Aviary album dates back to 1979 and it’s over-the-top, fascinating, ridiculous, pompous… Queen meets Styx meets Sweet or maybe they don’t meet at all. There’s just something about this album that keeps me coming back to it. Therefore it’s a keeper. 

The third and the last vinyl I bought was RUNNER. Also a 1979 release, with a very stylish cover. This one I also vaguely remembered reading about, and noticed that the band’s guitarist was Alan Merrill, the writer of the classic ”I Love Rock’n Roll” anthem. The album contains good late 70s melodic rock, with the opening track ”Fooling Myself” as the standout. The ballad ”Truly From Within” is the kind of song that some country artist could easily cover and turn into a hit even today. The Spotify version of the album has three additional tracks, of which ”A Part Of The Game” is a real gem.

Friday, March 17, 2023


It’s been over a month since the last blog entry! I apologize for that, but it’s been one busy month. We had a major home improvement project, which included emptying half of the apartment etc. But now it’s done, the updated home looks nice and life is pretty much normal again.

While packing, unpacking, painting and doing other things I have tried to keep up with the new releases and revisit some old ones. Because of the Geoff Tate gig last week, classic Queensrÿche has been getting a lot of airtime. ”Operation: Mindcrime” will forever be my favourite of their albums, but I’ve always liked ”Empire” too, and during the last couple of years I’ve really gotten into ”Rage For Order” as well. 

After hearing the new WINGER single ”Proud Desperado” (see below) and liking it, during the last couple of days I’ve listened their old stuff a lot. Such an excellent band who didn’t deserve all that crap that was thrown at them. To call them a ”hair band” or ”glam metal” isn’t really a good description. Sure, back then they had the hair and the look but they also had immense musical talent and songs that were almost progressive metal, not just party anthems.

Let’s go through some of the recent releases real fast, in no particular order:

FIRST NIGHT - ”Deep Connection”: Basically this is very decent AOR, but something doesn’t click with me. Maybe it’s the lyrics, 56 minutes and 13 songs of nothing but love songs is a bit too pink and fluffy even for the most hardcore AOR fans. Maybe this is better in small portions?

AUTUMN’S CHILD - ”Starflower”: Mikael Erlandsson is a productive guy, and if you like his work, you’ll enjoy this album as well. There’s a lot variety and different influences. My favourite songs: ”Afrodite’s Eyes” and ”Karenina”. Is this what they call Pomp Rock?

TEN - ”Something Wicked This Way Comes”: I did mention this in blog#10 (what a surprise!), and promised to get back to it. It is a solid album, a very strong RRRR rating for sure. I seem to have four of its’ songs to my ”Highlights of 2023” playlist, which is a lot. 

KHYMERA - ”Hold Your Ground”: I’ve liked all the Dennis Ward-fronted Khymera albums, and this one’s no exception. There are no drastic changes to the previous albums and it’s a case of ”more of the same”, but I’m happy with that. The songs are good and that’s what counts. Highlights include ”Firestarter”, ”Sail On Forever” and ”Could Have Been Us”. RRRR.

STEEL PANTHER - ”On The Prowl”: Is it me or is it them, I don’t know, but they’re not funny anymore.They’ve been on a downward spiral since the first album.I feel that the lyrics have gotten increasingly gross and dumb, and the music has taken the backseat to the ”jokes”. Among the songs that sound like leftovers from Motley Crue or from the first SP album, there’s maybe a couple of good ones. The nostagia-filled ”1987” sounds like a sincere tribute to the era. ”Magical Vagina” is musically something that Ghost could come up with. RR

STARGAZER - ”Life Will Never Be The Same”: This is pretty decent guitar-driven melodic hard rock, reminding me of early Gotthard, vintage Dokken and ”Scratch’n Sniff”-era Fate. Song pick: ”Turn Off The Light”. RRRr.

ALL MY SHADOWS - ”Eerie Monsters”: a side-project for a couple of Vandenplas guys. I think I prefer this to their main band! Melodic metal and rock somewhere between classic Queensrÿche and Threshold, strong choruses and interesting arrangements. RRRR

CREYE - ”III - Weightless”: the young Swedes have yet to surpass their first album, but they’re trying hard. The previous album was a bit poppy, but for this third effort they’ve cranked up the power and it sounds quite majestic. Listening recommendations: ”One Step Away” and ”Spreading Fire”. RRRR

That’s it for now, still plenty of albums to be checked. I’ll keep working on it.

Friday, February 17, 2023

DELAIN: “Dark Waters”


Rating: RRRR
Label: Napalm Records
Review by Martien Koolen

Delain, the Dutch notorious symphonic female fronted metal band return with their seventh studio album “Dark Waters”. Delain features a new line up, as the band now consists of Martijn Westerholt (keyboards), Sander Zoer (drums), Ronald Landa (guitar, growls), Ludovico Cioffi (bas guitar, grunts) and Diana Leah (vocals). The sound of Delain, however, has not really changed as you can hear in the opening track “Hideaway Paradise”, being a huge song with lots of keys, synths, powerful guitars and strong pop musical elements. “The Quest And The Curse”, the first single of this album, is probably familiar already, as it was released 9 August 2022 and Diana’s beautiful voice really shines here! 

Paolo Ribaldini (Seraphiel) then makes his first guest appearance adding his throat to “Beneath”, the second single, again a brilliant song with a catchy chorus and excellent guitar melodies. “The Cold”, with choir, is a very cinematic track, while “Moth To A Flame” sounds like a quirky addictive earworm. Definite highlight of the album is: “Invictus”, the symphonic metal tour de force of Delain here, their magnum opus, featuring pounding drums, dramatic, emotional vocals by Leah, joined, again, by Ribaldini and by the vocals of Marko Hietala (ex-Nightwish). So, play that one very LOUD as it is an epic masterpiece indeed. 

“Dark Waters” includes the bonus track “The Quest And The Curse”, the piano only version, and here you can enjoy Leah’s voice as never before. “Dark Waters” is a wonderful album, besides the dreadful growls and grunts, with no fillers and they have a more than excellent new singer with Diana Leah in the fold. Check it out, not to be missed; listening tip “Invictus” !!!


Thursday, February 2, 2023


One album that has dominated my playlist is the new one from CROWNE, "Operation Phoenix" (RRRRr). I liked their first one but this one is even better - not a dull track in sight and a couple of definite highlights of this year! 

The songs are mostly written by Jona Tee (of H.E.A.T.) and Alexander Strandell (Art Nation), and I don't think these are leftovers from their main bands. If they are, then somebody is making strange decisions, as these are fantastic songs that would make any album stronger. 

Crowne is finding its' own voice somewhere between the two bands mentioned above, and I would add Jona Tee's metal project New Horizon to the equation too. 

My favourite tracks are the moment are the title track and "Super Trooper", which might make you think that it's an ABBA cover, but it's not. It does have a lot in common with Abba, it's a cleverly written and insanely catchy song.

So, last week I wrote about the new VV album and said that I wasn't sure how to rate it. I've played it a couple of times, and I think it deserves a RRRR rating. Sure, on the second half it starts to drag a little, with several slower songs in a row, but it's still a very enjoyable album. I like it more every time I play it, I seem to find something new each time. I even like the instrumental track "Zener Solitaire", very Twin Peaks-like.

Today I've enjoyed a day off, and I've been listening to a lot of music. Some FB posts have lead me to check out early eighties' material from HENRY PAUL. He's well-known as a member of country band BLACKHAWK and Southern Rockers THE OUTLAWS, but his two 80's albums "Anytime" (with Henry Paul Band) and self-titled solo album are very much in the AOR vein. On "Anytime" he collaborated with Jim Peterik of Survivor/Pride Of Lions fame. The title track of the album is an AOR diamond, check it out!