Thursday, May 26, 2016

The JELLY JAM: "Profit"

Rating: RRRRr
Label: Provogue/Mascot 2016
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Vocals/guitar - Ty Taylor (King's X). Bass guitar - John Myung (Dream Theater). Drums - Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs, Winger). End of review? There's no denying the sheer quality and craftsmanship of above mentioned musicians. Top notch, dude. Top notch. Are they still into the whole Prog-Rock goes monolithic grooves and dark agenda? Yeah. Only darker and more experimental than in the past.

Like. All of a sudden it became very trendy to spout out religious beliefs, but not following it and not believing it. Thus why the Prophet became about Profit? and saving the world and its population may not be that easy in the end. All that considering, The Jelly Jam have got it all back together and are about to do it all the way with no restrictions. Ty (the skinny white dude from King's X) - still trying to sound like John Lennon on dope and the vocal tracking is groovy-hippie as usual. Several tracks are obviously close to Ty's King's X compositions in both style and arrangements. Not that strange all considering. And just for the record, I love most of their releases.

'We can change if we stop'? The message is ringing out loud and clear. It's all about wanting to change and do better? To most people it's all talk and no action and it's so darn easy to set up the 'angry and upset people' facebook page and then declare: job's done. Yeah, right. Dream on sucker. Tight as hell musicianship and arrangements that goes through several different stages of rock music. For instance. The Neil Young-ish work of "Fallen" is goosebumps and high-fives all around. Superb and definitely sentimental stuff. As always when it comes to Ty, it's not just about Prog-Rock or one certain style of rock. It's however all about quality songwriting and having the listener in constant awe.
facebook

The RIDERS: "Pierced Arrow"

Rating: RR
Label: Provogue/Mascot 2016
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Mustang Sally. Have you heard it all before? She would most definitely smile, nod and agree. This is all very second rate 'Mustang Sally' to my ears. Bog average Blues rock performed by top notch musicians? Not even a true legend like Stephen 'Friggin' Stills, can save this record from sounding like not so fun and dusty roadhouse music in a since long deserted place.

Tracks such as "Kick Out Of It", "Riva Diva", "I Need Your Lovin", are your worst blues nightmare come true. Excellent guitar work, but oh-so boring arrangements and songwriting. Actually. I absolutely love the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young sounding tracks such as "Virtual World", where the singer/songwriter style goes straight to the heart.

It's just the uptempo Blues tracks that are duller than dull. You've heard it all before and you can find it each and ever night at your local pub. Sure. They don't have excellent musicians such as Kenny Wayne Shepherd or Barry Goldberg. But, Mister Sister and Brother Mother are still belting out the same kind of snooze-blues. I'm sure it's enjoyable to watch live on stage while drinking those twenty beers or more. Yours truly? I would rather just listen over and over again to the pure magic of "By My Side" and especially "Virtual World". Final verdict: Great ballads (Stills is still a master at those) - not so great uptempo rockers.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

DARRYL WAY: "Myths Legends and Tales"

Rating: RRRr
Label: Cherry Red/Right Honourable 2016
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Myth, Legends and Tales is definitely old school Symphonic Prog-Rock. You know, the sort of music the pre-date mankind and merely the big dino's roam the earth in search of prey. Are you Darryl's next victim? Have you decided that any progressive record post 1980 is basically rubbish and can't get enough of the thought of ending up as dino food? Then this is your lucky day, punk.

Darryl Way is of course the co-founder of Curved Air and his latest offering to the ancient Gods, speak of wonderful tales of the mystical world of Greek mythology. Expect to find a lot of clever arrangements and the mixture of vocal tracks and instrumental pieces where the man and his violin take centre stage. To quote the man, "As a rock violinist I have always been searching for that elusive sound, turn of phrase and means of expression that would give the electric violin a legitimate voice in the idiom of rock music. With this album, I feel that I have come closer than ever before to achieving this goal", end quote.

I actually surprise myself as I enjoy listening to the instrumentals of "Orpheus and the Underworld" or "Aphrodite". The latter Way describe with the following words, "Just imagine it's a hot summers evening and you're on a beach of some beautiful Greek island and the Goddess of love has just stepped out of the water". I'm there. Totally. Merely three out of ten tracks are instrumentals though. The rest are all filed under mature, laid back, Prog-Rock, which will appeal to Curved Air fans as well as the ones into the likes of Mike Oldfield, Moody Blues, and Asia/Yes (their most laid back period and stuff). The jazzy work of "Helter Skelter", and no, it's not the Beatles' track, something different from the rest.

Final verdict: It's a one man project as Darryl Way handle everything from electric violin, keyboards, vocals, to the programming. Way is definitely wearing suit and armour as he fly the flag for old school Prog-Rock. Waving it in the (Curved) Air like he just don't care..
www.darrylway.com

ELAINE SAMUELS & KINDRED SPIRIT: "Phoenix Rising"

Rating: Re-issue
Label: Cherry Red Records/KS 2016
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Quick question. Have you been searching for something you can't quite define? Are you travelling on a quest through space and time to solve the riddle written by mankind? Perhaps you are searching for an island in this vast and empty sea? Then congratulations my friend you have found a kindred spirit in Elaine Samuels. Indeed. It's Glastonbury and Guildford. Folk rock and Progressive ditto. Mystical, medieval, songs and stories about children of the stars and come together, live and love, and let the music set you free. It's like the genius once wrote and sang for that matter, what's so funny about peace, love and understanding???

You could say that the British Prog-Folk band are the children of the children of the revolution. It's very much the ideas and stories of the hippie generation. Only the next step or perhaps not? Elaine is however the leader of the pack and her haunting yet smooth vocals are setting the agenda of singer/songwriter meet folk and prog. It's music and arrangements sort of in the tradition of Renaissance, Curved Air, Fairport Convention, Joni Mitchell, and Jethro Tull. Or if you prefer, the more down-to-earth and nitty-gritty version of Blackmore's Night? Not quite, but, again, sorta.

Flute, violin, sax, the whole she-bang and former Judas Priest drummer Les Binks? Blimey. It's quite the eclectic mix and they've decided to cover one of my favorite chill out songs. Namely 'Horse With No Name' originally done by America the band and not the continent. Varied and perceptive song-writing by Samuels define the record and even though it starts to slow down a bit too much and loses some steam towards the end, it's still a pleasant surprise. Don't expect to find a lot of uptempo tracks and make sure to peel back the clouds, let in the sun...
kindredspiritband.co.uk

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

ALAN PARSONS SYMPHONIC PROJECT: "Live In Colombia"

Rating: Live
Label: earMUSIC 2016
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Far out, dude! The Alan Parsons Project? Are they still out there? They may not have been recording anything new for ages, but are (every now and then) definitely still doing their rounds on and at various stages across the globe. Take this brand new double live release for instance. Recorded live down at Parque Pies Descalzos in Medellín, Colombia? with an symphonic orchestra (Medellin Philharmonic) under the baton of Alejandro Posada.

Alan Parsons, the mastermind and solo survivor since the heydays, started out as assistant engineer to George Martin at Abbey Road studios and was heavily involved towards the end of the Beatles' success story. Not to mention a certain 'Dark Side of The Moon' and Pink Floyd, prior to setting up his very own project in 1975. The debut, Tales of Mystery and Imagination (1975), was based upon Poe's horror stories and merely "The Raven" has managed to spread his wings and fly across the sky to touch base in Colombia.

It's quite the experience to hear tracks such as "Breakdown" (from the 1977 classic, I Robot) or The Raven for that matter with the full 70-piece orchestra and massive choir. The five complex and intriguing parts of "The Turn of a Friendly Card", including 'Snake Eyes, The Ace Of Swords, Nothing Left To Lose', are also exceptional as the band sounds great and the same goes for lead singer PJ Olsson, even though he's no zombie (I believe the Zombies' vocalist sang it first? do the google. I might not be right or screw things up?). "Don't Answer Me", this comes across like a 50/50 mix of ABBA and ELO and I'm still not sure if that's a good or bad thing?

While lyrically there's no real contest to the Raven, it opens up with the future world of "I Robot" and ends in a more up-to-date sound of "Games People Play". The youngest track on display (La Sagrada Familia -1987) benefit from the orchestra, while the rest are all from the classic era of 1976 to 1983. It's something different from the usual live effort. However, the audience is way too laid back and there's no real substitute for the originals. Final verdict: Nice. The DVD is probably more value for money though.
www.alanparsons.com

PAUL GILBERT: "I Can Destroy"

Rating: RRRR
Label: earMUSIC 2016
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Here's something that instantly caught my eye and attention. The shiny red sticker that reads and I quote: "Paul Gilbert's brand new hard rock masterpiece". Then again. They would not promote it any other way? Produced by Kevin Shirley (Dream Theater, Iron Maiden, Journey, etc.), the former Mr. Big and Racer X's fourth solo album sounds like a million bucks and I even tend to agree with some of the hype.

Right down to business. This is just one helluva neat hard rock album that pays major respect and tribute to Gilbert's influences without sounding like a poor copy-cat or second rate version. The one word I would use about this release is: timeless. It's got that sweet blues meet classic rock sound and massively fun riffing that just as easily could have been recorded in 1976, 1986, or well... perhaps not 1996. But surely 2006 and of course in present date. The production is spot on and Shirley's managed to combine as well as build a bridge between now and then.

Sure. A couple of tracks are perhaps a bit too obvious? The superb "One Woman Too Many" is the blues and the magical/mythical sound of Phil Lynnott (RIP). I'm not too keen on the rather boring blues of "Woman Stop" or the pointless bonus track, "Great White Buffalo", which by the way is the Ted Nugent song. All the others are originals though. Nah. I'm more into the straight ahead rock in the likes of "Everybody Use Your Goddamn Turn Signal", "I Can Destroy", "Knocking On a Locked Door", etc. Since they all dive into the great American Classic Rock history and the vast sea of Grand Funk's, Van Halen, Motormouth's, and Montrose.

The only downer? A couple too many slow blues tracks and not enough of the fun uptempo All-American Rock. Pay extra attention to the work of Thomas Lang as he literally kicks the crap outta his drums. The shiny red sticker isn't completely wrong though.
www.paulgilbert.com

LUCIFER'S FRIEND: "Live at Sweden Rock 2015"

Rating: Live
Label: Cherry Red/LF 2016
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The ever so corny introduction by the Swedish Muppets (Mattias & Melker) and we're off to watch (according to the double M's) Lucifer's Friend's first concert in 28 years? It is not. This being their second live concert since the reformation. Recorded live at Sweden Rock Festival, 4Sound Stage on the 5th of June 2015. The Muppets did however mention the DVD recording while rambling, this is however the CD and official bootleg version of the event. Don't ask. I don't know if there's different?

I do know it's pretty much the original or at least semi-classic line-up consisting of John Lawton (vocals), Peter Hesslein (guitars), Dieter Horns (bass), Jogi Wichmann (keyboards) and Stefan Eggert (drums). It's a brand new start and the set list includes the bands greatest hits from the 70's plus a couple of tracks from the recently released 'Awakening'. It's obvious that the band's a bit nervous and rusty so to speak. It's their most prestigious gigs for centuries (perhaps with the exception of Lawton of course - Uriah Heep) and there's a couple of 'warts-and-all' moments to be found. But that's generally just a good thing since you'd hate to hear the flawless fixed afterward in a studio release.

The problem is that some of these songs hasn't aged that well and if this is their greatest hits, I'd hate to think about their worst moments. "Keep Going" and "Ride The Sky" from their 1970 debut album are classy pieces of rock though. The same goes for the Uriah Heep-ish ballad, "Burning Ship", taken off the strangely titled 'Where The Groupies Killed The Blues'. Another favorite is of course "Moonshine Rider" with its driving beat and guitar work. The rest are not really to my personal liking and the new songs add nothing to the overall picture. They are however at work on the new 2016 album and let's hope that Lucifer's Friend are about to release one helluva album.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

PHANTOM 5: "Phantom V"

Rating: RRRRr
Label: Frontiers 2016
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Super-group. Merely reading the words out loud is usually enough to send a shiver down the spine. But, it's generally not a good feeling rather than a premonition of bitter disappointment and many a harsh words. Phantom 5, consisting of German Melodic Hard Rock stars: vocalist Claus Lessmann (Bonfire), guitarists Michael Voss (Bonfire, Casanova, Jaded Heart, etc) & Robby Böbel (Frontline), bassist Francis Buchholz (Scorpions) and drummer Axel Kruse (Jaded Heart) are definitely worthy of the super-group tag.

More importantly... with their self-titled debut at Frontiers, they're not trying to be something they're not. Nothing strange, weird, or out of the ordinary. Just catchy and powerful rock that will instantly light up your day and mood. If you're ever been into the songwriting team of Böbel/Lessmann/Voss' previous acts, you're definitely going to enjoy this. It's very much like a split three ways of the classic sound from Bonfire/Frontline/Jaded Heart.

True Teutonic Rock and some tracks such as opener "All The Way" truly scream and wail, touching close to Bonfire's Fireworks territory. While others are even more keyboard orientated (Blue Dog), coming across like an even better and stronger version of Frontline. And for the record. The refrain of the latter is just perfectly strange and beautiful. Sure enough. You may recognize choruses such as "Someday" with its message and chant of 'Someday, somehow, somewhere. Our hearts will meet again'. But they've done it with grace and style and the tinklings of ebony/ivory goes straight to the heart. Tinkling? It's carpet bombing really.

I love the raspy tone of "Renegade" as Lessmann rip and shred through the song like a... ehh, ripping and shredding machine? Excellent melodic metal anthem. "They Won't Come Back", another shock to the system with its dead rock heroes theme. The 21 guns salute and tribute to the likes of Bon Scott, RJ Dio, Jani Lane, etc, etc. Just as good as the Bonfire masterpiece of Fireworks? Not quite there. Nonetheless, head and shoulder above most of the melodic releases in 2016. Highly Recommended.

GREG LAKE: "S/T and Manoeuvres"

Rating: Re-issue
Label: CreativeMusicalArts 2016
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

ELP! ELP! David Coverdale in distress? Lassie, hairspray, and spandex to the rescue? Nah. Hold your horses and bitches for that matter. It's a battle cry of Greg Lake (also ex. King Crimson) and the rather smashing 2CD re-release holding the lake's first two solo albums. The self-titled debut in 1981 and Manoeuvres from the year of 1983. Both albums have received a new remaster which has the personal approval of Lake. The 20 page booklet includes extensive liner notes by the legend. Plenty of notes and stories.

So. Long time member of a band which the phrase 'Super-Group' was effectively created (ELP), and suddenly you lose your comfort zone, when the band split up in 1978. What do you do next? Well. Lake decided to ditch the Progressive Rock sound and went for straight rock arrangements and L.A. in 1979. Indeed. Lake recorded at first some tracks with all the TOTO musicians and three songs are featured on the 1981 debut as bonus tracks. "You're Good With Your Love" was written by Eddie Schwartz (Pat Benatar) and it's got that typical late 70's/early 80's West Coast sound. Great stuff. Also worth mentioning, "Cold Side of a Woman", which got that Chris de Burgh sound going on at eleven.

In the end. Lake decided to skip the pure 'west coast sound' and went home to U.K. to record the debut with former Thin Lizzy guitarist Gary Moore (RIP). Moore, leaving Lizzy in 1979, and without a recording contact at the time (1980) joined Lake's touring band. Such was the impression Moore made on Lake that the opening track is actually one of his: Nuclear Attack. Also featured on Moore's own album 'Dirty Fingers' which was recorded a year later (1981), but not released for a another couple of years. Track two, "Love You Too Much", Lake co-wrote with Bob Dylan. Overall, perhaps just a tad bland, but, not too shabby.

Manoeuvres (1983), the improvment since the debut and again with Moore as guitarist and co/writer of three of the tracks. It's got several tracks in that mature prog/AOR sound that Asia was delivering at the time. In fact. Close your eyes while listening to the ballad "I Don't Know Why I Love You" and you're there. Shortly afterwards. Asia asked Lake to join them as a replacement for John Wetton, which he did, but it didn't last long. It's otherwise a mixed bag with a couple of Moore rockers and The Moody Blues/Chris de Burgh. Not that strange after all, considering that Asia are heavily inspired by the Moody Blues. Plenty of keys and while the bonus track, Hold On, isn't much to write home about, it's still a nice platter.

SUNSTORM: "Edge of Tomorrow"

Rating: RR
Label: Frontiers 2016
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

On the Edge Of Tomorrow? Bloody 'ell. I've seen the future and it's all watered down? First things first. The instrumentation is uber smoothly performed and the vocals by true rock legend Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Deep Purple, Yngwie Malmsteen, etc.) have this wonderfully gentle and relaxed tone to them that fits in with the AOR. However, there's just something about it all that lacks that special spark and edge (no pun intended).

Ten out of eleven tracks - the handy work of Alessando del Vecchio and a majority are sadly stuck in second gear. The sole update since last is the clearer production job. Otherwise, it's the same story of semi decent music and knocking out those European riffs, and paint by numbers AOR. You're more likely to be surprised by your daily soap opera than listening to these throw-aways. Not even Jim Peterik and his "The Sound Of Goodbye" leave a lasting impression or imprint. What if you're completely new to the genre and just starting out listening to soft rock? Well. Be happy knowing that there are literally 1000's of better AOR albums out there to go through and enjoy.

You certainly can't ignore this completely or simply chuck it in the bin. JLT is such a professional and his voice alone, elevate the material a notch or two up the ladder of success. But, for fecks' sake. JLT! Get yer ass off the wagon and start writing your own material. What about taking the 'Rescue You' line-up in the studio for another go and album at Frontiers Records? Pure heaven in my books.

RICH ROBINSON: "Through a Crooked Sun"

Rating: Re-issue
Label: Eagle/Circle Sound 2016
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Known as 'that bloke' and one of The Black Crowes most frequently googled members, Rich Robinson can boast several bestselling solo albums. Sorta? Kinda? This is however the re-release at eagle-records of his second attempt at world domination, a mini-memoir detailing Richy's transition from shake-your-moneymaker artist to stone cold sober, hobo-like prophet and modern day singer/songwriter and also the likes of Jeff Beck, Jackson Browne, JJ Cole, Clapton and Young. A true tale of early 70's and plenty of country influences.

The Crowes took a long break from touring and recording in 2011 and 2012 and Richy had a bunch of songs in hand and was eager to get in and start recording. He's had a fair share of life experience too, touring non stop and living out on the road, Through A Crooked Sun, came out sounding like the complete opposite of a busy schedule and living in the fast lane. It's quite the laid back, rootsy, folky, organic sounding affair.

For instance. A piece such as "All Along The Way", conjures up vivid images of Harleys, driving down the dusty U.S. highway, wind in your hair and merely a dirty bandanna to protect your grey cells. Storytelling and thought-worthy material go hand in hand with the blend of blues, folk-rock, country, and traditional singer/songwriter stuff. Through A Crooked Sun is as well qualified as any of the above mentioned acts and artists to wear the badge of honesty and well crafted melodies. I like it. I like it a lot. Warren Hayes (Gov't Mule) guest appears along with Jazz musicians John Medeski & Karl Berger. This 2016 release includes two bonus tracks and previously unreleased versions of It's Not Easy and Falling Again. Recommended.

TED POLEY: "Beyond The Fade"

Rating: RRR
Label: Frontiers 2016
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Danger! Danger! While the Defiants are making their own music and mark, Ted 'Party-Dude' Poley rely heavily upon the ability of the Martin Brothers (Vega) to come up with all the goodies for him to sing and perform. And why not? That's Ted right down to the shoe-laces, a great performer and frontman. However, I would personally prefer a couple of self-written tracks by the party dude. Now it's all Vega-made with the exception of the Joe Lynn Turner/Tony Bruno composition, "Hands of Time". To be perfectly honest, that song is more or less the second rate version of D2 and 'How Much Love' by Vixen, and half a dozen of other songs of that era. Enjoyable piece of rock though.

"Perfect Crime", the smooth rocker and fine ballad duet with Issa. Definitely one of the better songs on display so far. And yes, she's married to either of the Martin brothers (I can't recall which one and it really doesn't matter). "Stars" and "Higher" add a different and better dimension to Beyond The Fade as the Martins' are crafting a couple of beautiful songs here that also applies a soft touch to the proceedings. Unfortunately, there's also the minor downer to be found, since both tracks repeat the word 'Stars' during the refrain and that's a massive no-no to any songwriter (especially considering track listing).

Hang on a minute. There's also a "Beneath The Stars" to be found? The Martins are obviously spending way too much time thinking and wishing about those shiny things in the sky. Poley may be the public face and voice of his third solo album (no s**t?), but the Vega dudes have their own vision and idea of how to arrange the melodic schlock. Slightly obscured and let down by the fact that it's rather similar to their main occupation and band. Final verdict: a solid piece of rock and hardly any proper upper nor downer. Safe is probably the word you're looking for. But, darn it, that 'Stars' song is good. "Hello Hello. A nervous heartbeat rings out"...

GAMMA RAY: "Insanity and Genius"

Rating: Re-issue
Label: earMUSIC 2016
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

"There's no return from the other side of heaven". There's another side to heaven? Blimey. Anyhow. Here's the posh 2016 2-CD version of Insanity and Genius. Remastered and expanded with rare B-sides, demo versions, unreleased live versions, extensive liner notes, and new art cover based on the original. It was originally recorded March to May 1993 and released the very same year, it's a more than decent throwback to the Helloween era.

Powered by a ferocious Kai Hansen, Ralf Scheepers steams in with raw, powerful vocals that border on the possessed. Opener, Tribute To The Past, is superb, an electrifying slice of Teutonic metal and tribute to the classic Helloween sound. While listening to the remastered album, you think you've at long last managed to get the grips with a song when suddenly "Gamma Ray" pops up like a Freddy Kruger-ish nightmare of the past. This haunting piece is still out to kill you in your sleep and there's no coming back from the dead?

"No Return", nearly up there among the likes of 'I Want Out' and the sound of 'Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part II'. Insanity & Genius is notable for being Scheepers' final fling with Gamma Ray prior to leaving (getting sacked?) and eventually forming Primal Fear. The commercial success back in the day and especially in Japan where 100,000 units are sold. The bonus disc on this anniversary edition includes a couple of tracks performed live at Chameleon Studios in 2016. Extended version of Gamma Ray. Demo versions of Money and Silence, plus an decent enough version of "Exciter" (Judas Priest). Neat!

GAMMA RAY: "Lust For Live"

Rating: Live
Label: earMUSIC 2016
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

For the first time available as audio? Indeed. Lust For Live was originally released in 1993 on DVD and of course VHS only. The latter. No doubt the worst music media concept ever! You could literally "pause" Kai Hansen or any other person for that matter and they'd still be jumping up and down for hours like a mental fookin' rabbit on speed. They really should have replaced the pause button with a more correct description... Jump! What ever happened to your old VHS copy? In the bin of course. I forgot to mention the absolutely best thing about the shitty concept of VHS. The tape merely lasted the odd 8 year or so and then it's fooked. Brilliant. Just fookin' brilliant.

The pressing issue and real subject on our hands. Does the world really need yet another Gamma Ray live album? How many are there now? oh well. That's obviously up to you to decided. However, the attempt to hold the fan's attention and interest by going from view-able media to listening only? Clearly not the best of idea and especially not in this particular time and era. There's only so much guitar widdling and Teutonic live melodies one can take, even in the comfort of one's own home. Remastered. New liner notes and pictures. Final verdict: We need more live albums transfered to DVD/Blu-ray and not the other way around. Thank you very much.

SHIRAZ LANE: "For Crying Out Loud"

Rating: RRR
Label: Frontiers 2016
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Oh... for crying out loud!!! At first glance or if you prefer spin, the young guns of Shiraz Lane are coming across as way too eager, over the top, and just dying to meet ya'. Tora Tora! Attack Attack! And on top of everything high-pitch (vocals) banshee screams in the vein of The Darkness meet any Mickey Mouse on drugs wannabee of the eighties [read Nitro and Jim Gillette - the best Lita Ford could get?]. Let's blame it on Yngwie 'God' Malmsteen and his famous last words, 'how can less be more? surely more is more'. These guys are definitely MORE of the whole she-bang including hairdos, tore-up jeans, screaming guitars, posing and prancing like hard rock stars of the eighties.

If you can get past the Mark Slaughter on laughing gas vocals (and I know that's a big IF to many including yours truly), you're actually in for a small Treat, and yes, I prefer this over the new snooze album by the Swedes. Sure. Always borderline wacky and daft, however, the compositions and arrangements speaks volume of fun and disturbing hair metal. I kid ya' not, these Finns are disturbing in so many different ways, it's not even fun(ny). But c'mon, that's what hard rock is all about. You're not supposed to record the sterile and clean, old-fart album, without a single note of attitude or soul. You can definitely tell that the five of Shiraz Lane are hungry for success and looking to take on the world.

Critic? there's no need for Hannes Kett to keep pushing for those high notes all of the time, since he's clearly the most impressive hard rock vocalist to come out of Finland as of lately. I'm sure he'll learn how to keep control of the pipes and power in the following years. They're still looking for the perfect song material though. Final verdict: Sheer dumb-fun hair-metal and glam. wham-bam thank you mam'. Have a go at this if you fancy the wacky mix of TheDarkness/Nitro/Slaughter vocals and music 'ala Nitro/Vain/Darkness/ and the debut album by Slik Toxic.

The DEFIANTS: "The Defiants"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Frontiers 2016
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Howdy Partner? Danger! Danger! Paul Laine (vocals), Rob Marcello (guitar), Bruno Ravel (bass), three cowboys riding into the sunset as The Defiants of the wild-wild west? Starting up the album with the instrumental piece by Ennio Morricone, you'd sort of expect the six-shooting concept album and lyrics in the vein of all the Billy The Kids and Buffalo Bills? But no such... luck? Here's where the Western theme goes down in flames.

It's the traditional wine and dine stories about Runaways, When The Lights Go Down, Waiting For a Heartbreak, etc. However, the Bon Jovi-ish single, "Lil' Miss Rock N Roll", manage to squeeze in and name-drop plenty and all of the classic titles from the likes of Foghat, The Eagles, KISS, D2, T-Rex, Springsteen, Mellencamp, The Cars, and The Buggles? It's far from the best track though and a rather strange choice as the single/video release.

New Jersey Cowboys? I think not. Nonetheless. You could never accuse the three of ditching their 80's sound, it's always present from the very first note, even if some of the choruses are "poppier" than usual. Indeed. You simply can't escape the D2 and Laine history and the opening three tracks are massive and almost too good to be true. Final verdict: The Defiants' self-titled debut is a close to perfect brand of American Rock that simply refuses to sacrifice either attitude or catchy hooks on the altar of melodic hard rock. Plenty of staying power, The Defiants have a clear grasp of style and direction and it's all about having a jolly good time. Well-crafted, well-played, well-put, hard rock with big melodies, big smiles, and big guns.

INTELLIGENT MUSIC PROJECT III: "Touching The Divine"

Rating: RRRR
Label: intelligent-music 2016
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Intalli? Entilli? Antelli? Thank you! Mr. Smartass. It clearly reads Intelligent Music Project III on the disc. Bad news to all stoopid people out there, since you'd better look the other way for the next couple of hours (that's approx. the time it takes to read this sentence). Oh, c'mon. It's all fun and games. And just for the record. Yours truly, shall not be throwing stones at random targets, since we're bitterly under qualified. Never mind. Read on.

Soft-Rock and West Coast fans better pay extra attention here since this is excellent and challenging stuff from the vivid mind of Milen Vrabevski. Achoo? Who? Exactly. Thus why he's got the good sense of hiring TOTO vocalist Joseph Williams and John Payne (Asia) to handle all the lead vocals. Add to this studio musicians and recording Gods such as Tim Pierce (guitars), Natyhan East (bass), Simon Phillips (drums), and you're all set for a rocking good time. By the way. Milen is the Bulgarian producer, songwriter, author, businessman, philanthropist and patron of the arts.

This reminds me of so many different things and it's got several layers and colors of rock. Mature, diverse, theatrical, and from the opening notes of opener, "Opening", you know this is not going to be a bad experience. Joe Williams behind the mike and it's basically symphonic west coast stuff. Overall, the Kansas meet Queen meet Asia meet Toto influences are shining through like ray of light and your window. Arrangements and orchestrations are grand and beautiful. That's a proper orchestra by the way. 30 folks or so and not just a keyboard sound and effect or affect for that matter.

The project of Intelligent Music are not blatant copyist though and there's a great sense of depth to the songs. My hat off to Milen since this feature a lot of cleverly done structure and melodies.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

VERNON NEILLY - 'OUTTA TIME'



RATING: RRRr

LABEL: Self Release

REVIEW BY: Alan Holloway


To get things straight here, I've never heard of Vernon Neilly. Award winning or not, he's never appeared on my radar, mainly because my radar is attuned to anything likely to appear in 'Guitar' magazine. That said, he's famous enough to not only have a signature guitar, but signature strings as well, so it's a fair bet that even if you discount the usual promotional guff he's earned his place in the guitar world for both playing and producing.

'Outta Time' is one of those 'with a little help from my friends' releases in which Vernon drafts in no less that  of his muso mates to help out, which is pretty impressive seeing as there's only seven tracks! Eight of these are guitar players, lending their talents to the solos on the album along with Neilly himself, showing he's man happy not to hog the limelight Indeed, all the guest players have their names on the cover). So this is one of those releases that will have fans of the players curious, but what about the music itself?

It all starts off positively with a cover of 'Fire' more famously done by Jimi Hendrix (now him I've heard of'). It's longer than Hendrix's version (with an even longer version at the end of the album), and benefits from a nice clean production. Neilly and Greg Howe are appropriately widdly throughout, and it's a good way to start. 'They Don't Care' follows, with more funky vibe,  and to be honest not all that good.  Yes, the guitar work is first class again, but the song itself has a repetitive, annoying structure. 'Outta Time' continues the funk but is a marked improvement, although it still has hip hop lite vocals that can grate. 'Git Yo Life Right' is smoother, almost laid back, whereas 'So Far Away' and 'Nassau Nights' have a South American vibe, the sort of tracks that are best listened to by a pool with a cocktail in your hand, the latter throwing in a healthy dose of salsa to with the rocking. 'Metta Funk Trip' is, oddly, not as funky as the earlier tracks, but is another laid back showcase for guitar playing talent, and there's nothing wrong with that.

'Outta Time' is a pretty sweet mix of Santana, Living Color and Steve Vai, and is certain to have an appeal for guitar fans whilst also being commercial enough for the rock fan in the street. the singing could definitely be better, and the less said about the hip hop flavour in a couple of tracks the better. Whilst the songs are simple, the guitar playing within them is exemplary, which is the reason the album exists. With the extended version of 'Fire' this only just scrapes past 30 minutes, but if the price is right it has enough going for it to warrant purchase.

OFFICIAL SITE

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

RAGE OF ANGELS: ”The Devil’s New Tricks”

Rating: RRRR
Label: Escape Music
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Ged Ryland’s Rage Of Angels released their first album a couple of years ago. The well-received album featured several vocalists, which made it sound a bit like a ”project” rather than a band. Now they’ve got Rob Moratti (Final Frontier, ex-Saga) as a full-time singer and that makes the album much more cohesive. Some might even say that the songs on this album do not enough variety, but there’s two sides to every story. Or three.

If the first album was a bit of mixed bag (or had lots of variety, depends on how one sees it), this time all 10 tracks are more or less in the same style. There’s variety in tempos and the amount of heaviness, but all of them are melodic and structured ”traditionally”. Rob Moratti’s vocals are quite unique and they’re not for everyone’s taste, but I think he does a good job here, possibly the best work I’ve heard from him. The band has paid a lot of attention to the backing vocals too, at times they sound almost too perfect, like a choir of… well, angels singing!

My favourite songs include ”I Feel It In My Heart”, ”All Your Own Way”, ”Strangers In The Night” (a UFO tribute?) and ”Stop Changing The TV” which gets a special thumbs-up for its’ original title and lyrics. Yeah, good stuff! Recommended for fans of traditional AOR á la Foreigner and Survivor and worthy of checking out if you’re into melodic hard rock in general.


https://www.facebook.com/RageOfAngelsUK

TREAT: ”Ghost Of Graceland”

Rating: RRRRr
Label: Frontiers
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

One of the most eagerly awaited albums of 2016 for me has been the new one from Treat. A couple of years ago the band was determined to call it quits and played their Farewell tour. The overwhelming response at their last gigs made the change their mind, and now they’re back in action with ”Ghost Of Graceland”. Good for them and even better for us, since they prove with this album that there’s still life in this old dinosaur from the eighties.

In my books, Treat’s previous album ”Coup de Grace” (2010) is one of the finest comeback albums of all time. ”Ghost Of Graceland” isn’t quite as marvelous but it’s still a very good album. The overall feel is maybe a little darker and moodier, but fear not, there’s still plenty of massive choruses and melodies. ”I Don’t Miss The Misery”, ”Do Your Own Stunts”, ”Inferno”, ”Alien Earthlings” and ”House On Fire” to name a few… I also want to mention ”Together Alone”, a fine ballad sung by the band’s main songwriter, guitarist Anders Wikström.

While I believe that there won’t be many albums that will top this one this year, I’m not going to give this the FULL 5R rating. The fifth ”r” is a small one because there are a couple of songs I tend to skip sometimes but maybe more significantly, some of the lead vocals are heavily doctored. I do realize that most studio recordings these days are polished and tweaked, but when the results are this obvious and unnatural sounding… It starts to bother me. Having said that, I can’t complain about the songs, they’re still pure 100% Treats.

https://www.facebook.com/treatofficial/

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

DRIVE, SHE SAID: Pedal To The Metal

Rating: RRR
Label: Frontiers
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

The long-awaited comeback album is very much a hit-or-miss affair. There are some definite hits on the album, but a few of the songs miss the mark.

The opening track "Touch" could be described as a tribute to the band Touch, keyboard player Mark Mangold's semi-legendary early eighties' group. With a guitar riff that is delibrately very much in the vein of Touch classic "Don't You Know What Love Is", the song brings back memories of the first D,SS album too, as that song was covered on that album. I don't know about you, but this tribute works for me, and a bit of "Whoa whoa" never hurts.

"Pedal To The Metal" is a straight-forward hard rocking song that reminds me of Deep Purple or Uriah Heep, while the strangely titled "In R Blood" is pure AOR with awesome stabbing keys and again some "whoa whoa's". This one's easily one of my favourites. "Said It All" is a classy balladic track, followed by a 70'ies pomp rock styled "Writings On The Wall", another good song. Mangold's crazy keyboard soloing is something else!

"Rainbows And Hurricanes" sees Al Fritsch singing on the edge of his range and the band using one of my pet peeves, the "radiohead rhythm chorus". I don’t understand anyone’s fascination with it, it’s like driving with the handbrake on… ”Love Will Win In The End” is more suitable to these ears, a fine traditional AOR song. I haven’t really gotten into ”Rain Of Fire” but it’s not too bad. Same goes for the Al Frisch - Fiona duet ”In Your Arms” too. Nice and melodic if a little sugary.

What the hell is ”I’m The Nyte” doing on this album though? Techno beats, distorted vocals, effects… Mark Mangold could have kept this track for his dance music productions, it’s totally out of place here. ”Lost In You” is a more appealing attempt to bring in dance elements to AOR, and it’s again a tribute to ”Don’t You Know What Love Is”, borrowing lyrics from it. The chorus is quite good actually, but it would have been better without all the bells’n whistles from the techno world.

”All I Wanna Do” goes into a completely different direction productionwise, as it’s a stripped down acoustic ballad á la ”More Than Words” or ”To Be With You”. It’s a nice, mellow closing to the album, even though I can’t help but think that it might have worked as a faster, hard-edged rock track too.

When D,SS get it right, they’re as good as back in their glory days, but that only happens a few times on this album. Still, at the moment I do find this album better than the previous comeback album ”Real Life” - I’ve reviewed it back in 2003 but I can’t remember anything about it!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Claudio CORDERO: "Quasar"

Label: Own Release
Rating: RRRR
Review by Martien Koolen

I have always loved instrumental guitar albums and hence my record collection contains a lot of albums from super guitar players like Vinnie Moore, Marty Friedman, Jason Becker, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. Now I can add a "new" marvellous guitar picker to my collection, namely Claudio Cordero. CC is a Chilean guitar player with an extensive musical career, in which he shines in bands like the for most people unknown Matraz, Cast and Oxygene8. Now he releases a new album, his second with his Claudio Cordero Trio, named Quasar. On this marvellous album Cordero is accompanied by Felipe Cortes on drums and Maurico Nader on bass guitar. All the 9 songs on the CD are composed by Cordero himself and show and prove what a miracoulous guitar player this man is. Quasar kicks off with a short sound intro before the first track Outatime hits you like a hammer! This song is an up tempo guitar monster filled with fast amazing solos and lots of arpeggios which will make the heart of any guitar lover beat faster and faster. In fact most of the songs on Quasar are rather heavy and fast remind me of old albums from Marty Friedman and jason Becker; take e.g. R'Lyeh or Zenith and you will certainly catch my drift!

The absolute highlight for me is the guitar ballad Ocaso, a very melodic track full of breathtaking solos and filled with influences from Vinnie Moore and David T. Chastain. In fact I would call this a guitar ballad that can match superb ballads of Vai (For the love of God) or Joe Satriani (On peregrine wings)! The title track, clocking just over 8 minutes, is also a milestone of this album being a mid tempo song with Eastern influences, heavy staccatto riffs and some really mean fast high solos; love it!! The only rather weird track on the album is the last song called Etheral, which is a kind of electronic, experimental song with almost no real guitar solos. But for lovers of heavy,,melodic, instrumental guitar music, this album is a MUST. Play it loud and terrorise the neighbours with Quasar as it is a guitar master piece; man this guy can play a mean guitar!!

https://claudiocordero.bandcamp.com

Sunday, April 24, 2016

STAR CHASE: ”The New Day”

Rating: RRR
Label: MelodicRock Records
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Star Chase is a new band put together by Jason Old, the vocalist of The Radio Sun. With a singer whose voice and vocal style is very recognizable, projects must have an identity of their own so that they don’t sound too alike. Star Chase does have that, it’s much more of a late 80’ies sounding project than The Radio Sun. I can hear echoes of early Danger Danger, White Lion, Trixter and Enuff Z’Nuff in these songs, maybe even a bit of Queen somewhere there between the lines.

The first half of ”The New Day” is where you’ll find the band’s strongest material, songs like ”I Want You”, ”Say You Love Me” and ”Broken Heart”. On the second half you’ll get decent enough songs somehow they lack that all-important spark. Thankfully  for the album closer ”Supernatural” the band does find that spark again, it’s one of the album’s highlights. It’s probably the closest thing to The Radio Sun too.

A decent start for the Chase. I have a feeling that next time around the band might surprise us all with something really special. Mark my words.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

VEGA : "Who We Are"

RATING: RRRRr
Label: Frontiers
Review By: Alan Holloway

Over the last three albums, British act Vega have been carefully carving themselves out a niche in the AOR world by simply keeping their faces out there and providing quality releases. Last album ‘Stereo Messiah’ was hailed by many as their best yet, but it seems that it may not hold that accolade much longer when ‘Who We Are’ comes your way on 13th May.


The album starts with a literal bang, as ‘Explode’ does just that in a flurry of guitars  and drums, a track that belts along and lays Vega’s cards on the table with a raised middle finger to anyone who thought they might have emptied the creative well by now. Fast, frantic and with a superb little solo from Marcus Thurston, it’s the start fans will be wanting. They don’t let up with the next two tracks either, with ‘We Got It All’ a fist pumping audience pleaser and ‘Every Little Monster’ a catchy singalong that is the archetypal Vega track (you can find it on YouTube).

The band slow down for the ballad ’Nothing Is Forever’, and whilst I often get a bit bored by ballads they hit the nail well on the head here with a powerful, emotional piece that makes sure to include a great solo in the middle. ’White Flag’, ‘For Your Sins’ and ’;Generation Now’ take us back to the tried and tested Vega formula that sits comfortably between Journey and Def Leppard, tracks that you just enjoy for the quality AOR that they are. ‘Ignite’ is a slower track that feels a little ploddy, for me the weakest track on the album, but it’s followed by the best: ‘Saving Grace’ stands out with a horribly infectious chorus that demands sterling pitch control from vocalist Nick Workman. This Vega’s 2016 ‘summer’ song, and almost certainly the one that’s going to stick around the live set for a good while.

The album closes with the high energy ‘If Not You’ and the anthemic ‘Hurt So Bad’, another track that I feel will slot well into any live set. As an album, ‘Who We Are’ is a rush of adrenaline, a melodic kick in the nuts that will have you coming back for more. It sounds great, and the band are tight as ever. It’s no surprise that Nick Workman sings his heart out as he never gives anything less than his best. The man has a perfect voice for this kind of upbeat melodic rock, with Tom and James Martin helping him to write songs that fit his vocals to a tee. My only complaint is that I’d have liked to hear more guitar heroics from Marcus Thurston, whose contributions are short but incredibly sweet. Come on guys, give the man a 30 second solo at some point!

In conclusion, ‘Who We Are’ is definitely as good as ‘Stereo Messiah’, and to be honest it’s difficult for any album of this type to be better. Vega still sound fresh and hungry and I’m looking forward to seeing them with Magnum and at the Steelhouse Festival. If ‘Stereo Messiah’ pushed Vega to the top of the UK rock scene, ‘Who We Are’ cements that position.

Official Website

INTUITIVE: ”Reset”

Rating: RRR
Label: MelodicRock Records
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Now that MelodicRock Records has signed every worthwhile AOR/Hard Rock band from Spain, the label is moving focus to Spain’s western neighbor Portugal. The first signing from Portugal is Intuitive. Formed by ex-Faithfull guitarist Rui Martins, this band is more hard rock than AOR but melodic all the same. Martins is the main songwriter and his guitar is the leading force behind the songs.

The songs on ”Reset” range from the guitar-driven hard rock tracks á la Van Halen, Hardline and Dokken to the more melodic rock type of material which reminds me of Nelson and Firehouse. Maybe with a touch of the European sound of Casanova, Frontline and the likes. Yes, the band’s very much stuck in the eighties, but I’m not complaining about that!

What I could complain about is the fact that apart from one, none of the songs really stand out. They’re all pretty good, but that’s about it. The harder-edged songs have a lot of energy but they’re lacking when it comes to the hooks, while the softer songs have plenty of melody but somehow they sound a little tiresome. When the band sing about ”setting the night on fire” you won’t be reaching for a fire extinguisher - they just don’t sound convincing.

The one song that stands out is ”Gone”, one of the more melodic ones. The band doesn’t re-invent the wheel with it but all the pieces fit nicely. The hook is strong, and while the overall vibe is very laid-back, there’s a certain kind of intensity in the song. A few more like this for the next album, please!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Martin POPOFF: ”Time and A Word - The Yes Story”

Rating: -
Publisher: Soundcheck Books LLP
Review by The Bailey Brothers

Fifty books is a milestone for any author, so well done Martin Popoff for celebrating it with a treat for all Yes fans. The book is written on a time line format which took some getting used to at first; imagine Yes as a big family oak tree and every branch has band members on it. Some acorns will drop and grow their own little trees yet all branches are inter connected and important to the well being of that big tree we shall call Yes.

There are original interviews with Anderson, Bruford, Howe, Wakeman and the late Chris Squire. There are moments where individual members are talking honestly about each other and their musical contribution and surprisingly there’s alot of mutual respect for each other.

Now the fun bits; the moment Anderson and Alan White gather up car parts from a junk yard and take them back to the recording studio to record them being played. Now that’s either genius or comedy but there were no plug ins back in those days; engineers artiste and producers had to get creative if they wanted new sounds. I love the story about Rick Wakeman being so bored he ate his dinner off the piano whilst playing live, maybe a bit disrespectful to the band and fans, but you have to be one hell of a musician to play live and have dinner at the same time.

It’s not a book put together without passion, Popoff is a fan, of that there’s no doubt, but where you need to be objective and ruthless he can slice through the dead wood of an album like a chain saw. I can’t see why most Yes fans wouldn’t enjoy scrolling through this book and re living the incredible journey of one of Prog rocks original flag carriers.

www.soundcheckbooks.co.uk

Friday, April 15, 2016

WILD ROSE: ”4”

Rating: RRR
Label: Lions Pride Music 2016
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Greek AORsters Wild Rose have returned to the frontline with original vocalist George Bitzios back behind the microphone. Their two previous albums featured seasoned British vocalist David A. Saylor on vocals who did a good job, but so does the ”original guy”. His voice is somewhere between Steve Overland and Alan Marsh (Shogun, Tokyo Blade) and suits these songs perfectly.

Looking at the song titles, the band continue on the same path as on their previous album: one could be forgiven for thinking that this is an all-covers affair. I mean, ”Desperate Heart”, ”Time After Time”, ”Love Games”, ”Hot Wired”… none of the songs are covers though, they’re all Wild Rose originals. But maybe a little effort into the lyrics or at least naming the songs could have been beneficial for the band?

When it comes to the music, the band stays very true to the classic AOR sounds of the eighties. They have certainly studied the songbooks of Survivor, Foreigner, FM, Journey and countless others very thoroughly and have created 10 perfectly crafted, if maybe a bit too familiar sounding AOR songs.

These songs are easy to like, but somehow they are just too safe for me to really love them. Compared to ”Hit’n Run” (their previous album), the hooks aren’t quite as sharp and the overall vibe of the album is more ”mid-tempo”. My favourite song is definitely ”Love Games”, which is one of the up-tempo tracks here and does have a very strong chorus. ”Love Can Change You” and ”Don’t Let Me Down” aren’t far behind, but even they could have used an extra dose of intensity.

If traditional AOR is your thing, ”4” is worth checking out.

http://wildrose.gr

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

ST. JAMES: ”Resurgence”

Rating: RRR
Label: St. James 2016
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Here’s a 17-track archival release from St. James, a hard rock band from New Haven, Connecticut. The band featured vocalist John James and the Jacobs brothers James and Robert on guitar and bass. Their secret weapon was drummer/producer Carl Canedy (The Rods). He never got to play live with the band because of his busy schedule, which lead to the band keeping his involvement a secret and using stand-in drummers for the gigs.

Sometime ago, Canedy found these St. James tapes, gave them a listen and thought they were too good to just gather dust in the closet. Now they’ve been dusted off, remastered and released for the world to hear.

Had ”Resurgence” been released back in the early nineties, I’m pretty sure it’d be enjoying at least a cult classic status these days. With a little luck and a major deal, they might have scored a minor hit or two with some of these songs. Bear in mind that in 1991 the tide was already turning and the flannel invasion was right around the corner…

With 17 songs (okay, 16 and an outro), this is a rather uneven compilation of material and you can hear that the band is exploring different directions. It might have been better to just release the better sounding tracks because the last few songs sound very rough and lo-fi.

So what do we have here? Well, most of the songs remind me a lot of Poison, maybe with a little bit of Ratt, Van Halen and Cinderella thrown in. That’s the first 11 songs or so. Among the last few tracks the band add keyboards to the mix a couple of times and go for a more Bon Joviesque approach. Unfortunately ”In Your Heart” and especially ”Crimes Of The Heart” suffer of a demo-like sound quality, otherwise they would have been among my favorites. Same goes for ”Inside The Outside”, a fast-paced cool hard rocker with easily the worst sound of all these tracks. If the St. James story continues, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to re-record these three songs.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

LAST AUTUMN’S DREAM: ”Paintings”

Rating: RRR
Label: Escape Music 2016
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Last Autumn’s Dream is probably the most productive band of today’s AOR genre. ”Paintings” is their 12th album in 13 years! That’s more than 120 songs, folks! An impressive body of work.

I’ve heard most of the other 11 L.A.D. releases and quite enjoyed them. Compared to them, ”Paintings” isn’t among the best ones. The band can still churn out likeable melodic rock tracks easily and most of these songs are just that, decent songs that are ”easy on the ear”. But would any of them make it to a Best Of L.A.D. compilation if I were to make one? I’m not sure. The strongest contenders would be the stomping ”Bring Out The Heroes” and the wonderfully titled ”In Case Of Landing On Water”…
and I have to say that the cover of REO Speedwagon’s ”Take It On The Run” sounds like a natural fit for the band.

Maybe ”Paintings” will go down in L.A.D. history as one of the less significant albums of theirs and hopefully they’ll bounce back with the next one, the lucky 13th album!

C.O.P. UK: ”No Place For Heaven”

Rating: RRRR
Label: UDR 2016
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

C.O.P. UK (formerly known as Crimes Of Passion) supported Rage and Halloween here a while ago, and I was highly impressed by their set (see our live review). A copy of the this album found its’ way to my shopping bag from the merch stand, and I think it deserves to be reviewed here.

Who ever wrote their bio says that they have ”an epic sense construct of melody, dynamics and power” and I can’t disagree. They have found their place somewhere between melodic metal, hard rock and AOR and let me tell you, it’s a fine place to be!

Guitarists Charles and Andy provide the foundation with great rifforama, not forgetting the solid backing from the rhythm section of Kev & Scott. The icing on the cake are the cool-as-ever keyboard work from Henning Wenner of Jaded Heart/Mad Max/CircleIICircle fame and Dale’s fine and melodic vocals.

My favourite songs include the massive opening duo of ”The Core”, ”My Blood” and the catchy ”Catch Me If You Can” (see what I did there :)). The band knows how to construct fine ballads too, as the title track and ”Kiss Of An Angel” prove. Yeah, this is good stuff.


http://www.copuk.com
https://www.facebook.com/COPUK/