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!


Thursday, January 26, 2023


This is the tenth ”Rock Blog” so far, and the first of 2023, the ”Best Of 2022” episode not withstanding. The first weeks of the year aren’t the busiest time when it comes to new releases, but a few albums have been released already, and I’m going to take a look at some of them.

HIM was a very successful band with their ”Love Metal” sound, one of Finland’s biggest music export success stories. They broke up a few years ago, but the band’s mastermind VILLE VALO has just released his first solo album ”Neon Noir”, under the monicker of VV. I’ve played it a few times and it’s an interesting record. Less metal (more love?) than HIM, it offers a cinematic atmosphere and some fine melodies. If you’re after three minute hits with ”Don’t bore us, get to the chorus” mentality you might be disappointed, but in a certain mood this album works quite well. The again, some of the songs just flow past me and leave no trace whatsoever… I’d say at the moment this gets a RRRr rating, but it could turn into 3 or 4 R’s, we’ll see.

ISSA’s new album ”Lights Of Japan” (RRRR) is another solid effort from her. This time the songs have been penned by her husband James Martin, his brother Tom and the album’ s producer Michele Guaitoli (Visions of Atlantis, Temperance). The Martin brothers used to be in Vega, but rather than traces of that band I heard echoes of their work with Khymera. There's also a slight retro wave vibe in some of the songs, and I wouldn't have minded if that had been explored even further. Favourite tracks: ”Live Again” and ”Fight To Survive”.

I was looking forward to the new BEYOND THE BLACK album, but after the first spin of the self-titled album, I was a bit disappointed. None of the songs really grabbed me like the hits from the previous albums, but I think I’ll give it another chance.

TEN released a new album ”Something Wicked This Way Comes” last week, and I’ve only played it once, but I can already say that it’s a good one. Not necessarily as good as last year’s ”Here Be Monsters”, but good anyway. I’ll get back to this later. 

Tomorrow is again Friday, and a bunch of new albums will see the light of day. CROWNE and ARCTIC RAIN are the ones I’m most looking forward to. I might have something to write about them in the next blog entry. Until then... rock on!

Thursday, January 12, 2023

THE AARON CLIFT EXPERIMENT – “The Age Of Misinformation”

Rating: RRR

Label: Aaron Clift Production

Review by Martien Koolen

"The Age Of Misinformation" is the fourth album by the experimental rock band The Aaron Clift Experiment and the sound of this multi-faceted quartet is a weird blend of classic rock, modern rock, progressive rock, jazz, and even classical music. Think of notorious bands like King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Weather Report, Opeth and Porcupine Tree. 

This new album, a concept album about the COVID lockdowns and its influences, features eight tracks of which the longest one "Bet On Zero" clocks over the ten minutes mark and is the best song of the entire album by far! On this track the four-piece band is “assisted” by a big brass band consisting of six trumpet, trombone, and saxophone players, making this a real musical highlight of this dark album. 

"Rise", if you listen very carefully, reminds me of Genesis’ "In The Cage", while "Malaga" is a kind of arena rock, upbeat song with guitar picker Anthony Basini in the spotlight. The album ends with an emotional, but rather bittersweet, cheesy ballad called "Weight Of The World". 

"The Age Of Misinformation" is in my humble opinion not really a progressive rock album but more a mix of soft, melodic rock music trying to be progressive and sound progressive. Another thing that you really have to get used to, or not, is the typical voice of Aaron Clift, which, at least to me, sounds too monotonous, making it very hard to listen to this album in one take; but then again it is only my opinion, so decide for yourself. Listening tip: "Bet On Zero"!

Web site:  


Tuesday, January 3, 2023

ROCK BLOG #9 - The Best of 2022 and then some.

 2023 is here and it's time to take a look at last year. The Covid-situation started to get better... and then the madman in Moscow decided to start a war. A humanitarian crisis, an energy crisis, prices of everything going up... not a great year. I can only hope that 2023 will turn out to be a year when things start to change for the better, but somehow I'm not particulary optimistic. But that's enough doom and gloom, let's concentrate now on nicer things, like riffs, melodies and such!

There were a lot of new albums released in 2022. During the pandemic many artists had the time to create new music, and indeed, several veteran bands released critically acclaimed new albums. I have to say that for me, they were mostly disappointing. Scorpions, Def Leppard, Journey, Magnum, Bryan Adams... some people were really excited about these albums, but I didn't really warm up to any of them. The continuing trend of having 15-20 songs on an album isn't something that I enjoy, it usually means that the common thread is lost and there are several fillers. Gimme 10 great songs instead, thank you very much! 

Frontiers Records have been very profilic in releasing albums, and they've put out several albums which made it to my "Top Albums of 2002" playlist. Then again, the constant flood of releases from them has been a bit overwhelming, especially since many of them have been put together by the same people. The label has a rooster of talented songwriters and producers, but if they release dozens of songs per month, the quality cannot remain on a high level. Looking at my lists, most of the project albums featuring "the usual suspects" ended up on the "Second Tier" list. 

The best one of Frontiers' projects was also a return of a veteran band - GIANT. With Perfect Plan singer Kent Hilli as their new frontman, the band released a solid album, with songs mostly penned by Alessandro Del Vecchio, Pete Alpenborg, Kristian Fyhr and Kent Hilli. None of them are original members of Giant of course, but I think they were able to capture some of the magic of those classic two first classic Giant albums. You may debate whether "Shifting Time" is a "real" Giant album, but if Dann Huff has given it his blessing, that's good enough for me. 

Let's check out some other "Bubbling Under" albums which I haven't reviewed elsewhere, before I get down to listing my Top 10.

GHOST released a popular new album "Impera", and some people thought it was the best thing since sliced bread, but I wouldn't go that far. It is a good album, and some of the songs are brilliant. "Spillways" is my favourite from it. RRRR.

RONNIE ATKINS has been going through some hard times because of his health, but he's a true fighter, and released a solo album and one with NORDIC UNION this year, both decent platters. The title track of his solo album "Make It Count" is one of my favourite songs of 2022.

RICK ALTZI released his first solo album "All Eyes On Me, and it was a bit of a surprise for me. I was expecting a heavier, power metal type of a thing for some reason, but it was a melodic hard rock album with touches of Dokken and the likes. Interestingly, the songs were co-written by Pete Alpenborg and Ulrick Lonnqvist, both from the Frontiers' songwriter pool... moonlighting?

RECKLESS LOVE returned with the controversial "Turborider" album. The electronically enhanced sound didn't appeal to some, but I like it. Some of the songs are very catchy. This album is just a killer track ot two short of making it to my Top 10.

My old favourites DARE and FORTUNE put out new albums as well, "Road To Eden" and "Level Ground". Both solid albums. Late last year we recieved the sad news of the death of Fortune's vocalist Larry Greene, may he rest in peace.

Finnish rockers BAD BARON debuted with an album called "Ace Of Hearts". They kind of remind me of an AOR version of LORDI - some excellent songs with huge choruses, obviously influenced by the great songwriters of the 80ies, like Desmond Child and Jack Ponti. The vocals are at times a bit one-dimensional, but this is definitely a band to watch.

With NEW HORIZON, H.E.A.T. keyboard player Jona Tee showcased his Power Metal side. Former H.E.A.T. vocalist and current Skid Row frontman Erik Grönwall joined his former bandmate, and the results were pretty convincing. "We Unite" stands out as one of my favourite metal songs of the year.

The following bands also released strong albums (rating: RRRR) in 2022, most of them I have reviewed in the ROCK BLOGS or separately: Battle Beast, Lionville, City Of Lights, Find Me, Rust'n Rage, FM, Black Swan, Crash Diet, Palace, H.E.A.T., Generation Radio, Cleanbreak, House Of Lords, Collateral, Perfect Plan, Richard Marx, Fallen Sanctuary, Wildness, Captain Black Beard, 91 Suite, Grand, Mad Max, Stratovarius, Threshold, Gathering Of Kings. I'm pretty sure I forgot some, but I'll add them later... 

Now, on to the TOP 10:

10. DEGREED: "Are You Ready" - This band is just getting better and better. Now they've maybe taken a page or two from H.E.A.T. and gone even more anthemic, but I'm not complaining!

9. CHEZ KANE: "Powerzone" - A good follow up to last year's debut, again penned by Danny Rexon of Crazy Lixx.

8. TEN: "Here Be Monsters" - The best TEN album in years, with some amazing melodies from Gary Hughes. A full review available.

7. CIRCLE OF FRIENDS: "The Garden" - a truly fine project featuring an all-star cast and fine songs. There's a sequel coming!

6. DYNAZTY: "The Final Advent" - the modern metal machine that keeps on delivering hookladen hits, one after another. 

5. AVANTASIA: "A Paranormal Evening With The Moonflower Society" - Another massive album from the modern-day Jim Steinman, Tobias Sammet.

4. TREAT: "The Endgame" - Anders Wikström doesn't get enough credit for his immense talent as a songwriter. Album after album, he comes up with these melodies like no-one else. I'm just thankful he has time for Treat, because he could easily be churning out pop hits and making shiploads of money... 

3. KISSIN' DYNAMITE: "Not The End Of The Road" - A good example of how you can take tried and trusted elements yet come up with something that doesn't sound dated or tiresome. Some very catchy songs on this one.

2. SEVENTH WONDER: "The Testament" - the masters of Melodic Prog Metal did not disappoint. A wonderful display of musical virtuocity but more importantly, superb songwriting.  A full review available. 


REMEDY: "Something That Your Eyes Won't See" - a perfectly crafted selection of fresh new melodic rock from Sweden.  A full review available.

Friday, December 16, 2022


Yeah, I wrote one ”full-sized” review earlier this week… I rarely hand out the full set of R’s so I thought REMEDY required a review of their own. Now I’m back in blogging mode, and I’m trying hard to remember all the things I’ve thought I should write about.

A cult classic AOR album was reissued last week, with a limited run 0f 200 CDs. Originally released in 1988, ANNICA’s sole album ”Badly Dreaming”  was a bit of a holy grail in CD format, before being reissued by MTM Music in 2004. The original copies on Lighthouse label are still highly collectible. I haven’t had any version of the album in my collection for a while, so I thought I’d get this reissue just to fill a hole. It’s an important part of the history of Finnish AOR anyway. The album is on ”Lipposen Levy ja Kasetti” label, a subsidiary of the Finnish record store chain Record Shop X ( and it comes in a digipak. The printing quality of the artwork is surprisingly sub-standard though, but the remastered CD sounds good.

Still looking back at last Friday, it was a good day for new single releases: BROTHER FIRETRIBE released their magnificent ”Man On A Mission”, Harry Hess and FIRST SIGNAL came up with ”Never Gonna Let You Go” and ISSA’s ”Live Again” impressed me too. This week’s new singles include ”Look For The Rose” from TEN, ”Unity” from Arctic Rain, ”Chemistry” from LeBrock and CREYE’s ”Breathing Fire”. And damn it, ”I Can’t Hold On”, the QUIET RIOT song with Kevin DuBrow on vocals is very good. One of the best archival releases of this year!

A couple of weeks ago CROSSBONE SKULLY premiered their first single ”Evil World Machine”. It’s a project by Tommy Henriksen, but I guess the most noteworthy thing about it is the producer MUTT LANGE, who returns to the scene. Sure enough, the song has a strong AC/DC / Pyromania vibe.

Here’s a YouTube playlist I made for this week!

Monday, December 12, 2022

REMEDY: "Something That Your Eyes Won't See"

Rating: RRRRR

Label: S-Rock Music 2022

Review by Kimmo Toivonen

If an artist releases a new album in late December, there's a good chance that it won't have time to make it to different "Best Of The Year" lists. Swedish newcomers REMEDY might suffer a little because of that, as the release date of this album is December 16th. That does not change the fact that this is the best debut album I've heard in years and my personal favourite album of 2022. It could be one for your "Best Of '22" list too, so wait until you've heard this!

Formed by guitarist Roland "Rolli" Forsman, the band has been around for a year or so I believe. They've collaborated with songwriter Soren Kronqvist, who's written songs for many melodic rock artists such as Sunstorm, Issa and Wake The Nations. I haven't seen his name in the credits that much lately, but this album might explain that - he's saved his best ideas for Remedy!

While Remedy aren't offering anything revolutionary to the genre of melodic hard rock, they don't sound like "just another Swedish melodic rock band". Some of the songs have definite metal edge, which reminds me of Yngwie Malmsteen's "Odyssey/Eclipse"-era, although without the over-the-top Yngwie-isms. "Scream In Silence", "My Devil Within" and "Thunder In The Dark" are good examples of their heavier side, yet still very melodic and catchy.

Then there's "Marilyn". A girl's name in the title is as AOR as it gets... and when a song starts with a staccato keyboard intro á la Bon Jovi's "Runaway", it's usually a winner in my books! This one's no exception, the chorus hook is wicked!

You might be familiar with "I Wanna Have It All", which is the first song released. This slightly Harem Scarem'ish rocker does have it all, great guitar work, fine vocals from Robert Van Der Zwan, massive hooks...

There are two ballads on the album, "Lifeline" and "Sundays At Nine". "Lifeline" is a good one, but somehow it pales in comparison to "Sundays At Nine". It's simply a breathtakingly beautiful song, even though the lyrics are very out of the ordinary and tragic. The song describes a man's last phone call to his wife from a plane that is about to crash. Now that's something I have never heard in a rock song... but for me this works, thanks to the amazing melodies this song is blessed with.

What else? The production is powerful, colourful and massive, just the way I like it. Is there anything I could complain about... well, the band name isn't the most original, there are at least a dozen Remedies out there. But I guess that's something we can live with!

Thursday, December 1, 2022


It’s been a curious week, as I have received not one but two promotional CDs! These days the promotional efforts of artists and labels center around digital delivery and the flood of links to download material is endless, way too much for anyone to handle. I totally understand that it’s way cheaper to use digital services, especially considering the ever-growing shipping costs. But then again, the physical product will surely get a bit more attention than a link among dozen others. 

The first album came all the way from the States, and it’s called ”Inland Empire” by ECHO US. It’s a one-man project by Ethan Matthews, apart from bass guitars on one track he’s played and sung everything on the album. 

I’m a not a major progressive rock fan, but I’m enjoying this album more than initially thought I would. It’s immaculately produced and played, and the overall vibe of it is relaxing and soothing. There are some very enjoyable melodic compositions here, and while this can be filed under ”prog”, I wouldn’t say it’s difficult or too complicated for anyone to enjoy. Sure, some of the songs are a bit weird and chant-like, but even in those songs there’s something strangely appealing.

ANCIENT FLAME are from Finland, and they also sent me a CD to check out. ”Blood Stained The Barren Land” is their debut album, and they describe it as ”traditional melodic heavy metal with some oriental influences.” The band has two very capable vocalists in Petteri Urmas and Kirsimarja Alonen, with voices that compliment each other quite nicely. Their music is somewhere between Black Sabbath and Nightwish, and at times their songs reminded me of the Christian Metal band HB, musically that is. The oriental themes here and there add a little spice to the songs and go well with the lyrical themes about Sumer and Babylonia etc. 

The fact the album opens and closes with heavy and pounding songs might explain why the overall feel of it is rather heavy and gloomy. There are uptempo songs on it, but the slower ones seem to dominate. I guess this a recommendation to some, as this certainly isn’t ”happy metal” with sing-along choruses! Not that it should be, I just enjoy my metal a bit more melodic, one might even say ”cheesy”.  ”Blood Stained The Barren Land”  is one for the True Metal fans.

COLD DROP from Denmark have their debut album on the way, to be released in February on Lions Pride Music. They contacted me and asked politely whether I could check it out. Well, they caught me at a good time and I promised to do that… They play no-frills hard rock, think Gotthard, AC/DC with a melodic twist, Tyketto… Good vocals, solid playing and production. My favourite songs are the mid-tempo ”Broke My Heart” and the opener ”Sweet Lucille”. The band does not get any extra credit for song titles though - they’ve got both ”Looking For Love” and ”Hold On” on the album! :)

Back in the AOR land, there’s been a few new things I want to write about. REVOLUTION SAINTS has gone through some line-up changes, and now  Dean Castronovo is joined bu Joel Hoekstra on guitars and Jeff Pilson on bass. The first single from this ”2.0” version is out, and it’s called ”Eagle Flight”. I think the song is good and Castronovo’s great vocals are always a joy to listen to. Still, I hope there are even better songs on the forthcoming album.

KHYMERA is back. I’ve been a fan of this project since the second album, when Dennis Ward became the vocalist. New album ”Hold Your Ground” is due early next year, and I can’t wait. The first single ”Firestarter” is very promising.

One of the potential albums of the year 2022 is the debut from Swedish band REMEDY. The release date is Dec 16 so it’ll probably make a bigger impact only next year though. So far they’ve released two songs, ”I Want To Have It All” and ”Scream In Silence”. I’ve heard one additional track which is easily as good as the other two, so I have really high hopes for the album, titled ”Something That Your Eyes Won’t See”.

Moving away from AOR, there’s been a major new metal single, the talk of the town… yes, I’m talking about ”Lux Aeterna” by METALLICA. I just had my first listen, and… the bass drum sound is very intruding! The song itself is fast-paced and energetic, not bad. Not that memorable though.