Sunday, December 30, 2012

Chasing Violets: "Outside Heaven"

Rating: RRR
Label: Perris Records 2012
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Having listened to the latest AOR (the project) album "L.A. Temptation" lately, this one comes as a bit of a deja vu album - most of the songs are the same, with only the vocals of Sarah And Melissa Fontaine replacing those male vocalists on the AOR disc. Producer/songwriter Frederic Slama has found a cost-effective way of working...

Although I'm giving this album the same rating, I think I prefer it to the AOR one. There's more continuity with the same vocalists singing the songs, even though some of the songs have been edited to be duets with the vocalists on the other album. When it comes to publicity and potential to break through, I would certainly put my money on this band rather than those Slama's AOR (the project) albums. Two beautiful girls will interest the mainstream media more than faceless melodic rock artists.

When it comes to the songs, most of my favourites from "L.A. Temptation" are given the Violet treatment ("Violation"?) here. Even one of the Violets' "exclusive" tracks has to be mentioned as one of the top tracks of the batch - the fine opener "I Can't Love No More". Out of all the 18 songs on the two albums, one could have put together a rather solid 10-track CD, now both of the albums end up falling a little short. The same problems I mentioned in my review of the AOR album occur here too - the production isn't always top notch and Slama's odd way of working with words tends to annoy me a little bit.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

AOR: "L.A. Temptation"

Rating: RRR
Label: AOR Heaven 2012
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Frederic Slama is keeping himself busy with his AOR project "AOR" (!). The template is the same as for his previous albums - a ton of guest stars and several vocalists. Not to mention "L.A." in the title... The softer westcoast style of the early AOR material has slowly changed into a bit harder-edged melodic rock, but it's still safe to say that most "True Metal Fans" won't go crazy over this...

It might be just me, but I think the best tracks of the album are the first few numbers, especially the first two tracks. "No Margin For Error" and "Above Suspicion", sung by Phil Bardowell and Göran Edman respectively, are both fine uptempo melodic tracks with cool hooks. Then the production quality of the songs starts to vary from track to track, to the extent that some of the songs sound more like demos than actual recordings. I also noticed that some of Slama's lyrics and vocal melodies sound really complicated and hard to sing, as if there's just too many words in them. Take "When Darkness Falls" for example - it sounds like Joey Summer is singing a chapter from a book instead of a song!

All in all, a good two thirds of the album isn't too bad at all, but even the better songs would sound better with a bit more powerful and less uneven production.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

THE VERY END: "Turn Off The World"

Rating: RR
Label: SPV/Steamhammer 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Considering that The Very End guys hail from Essen, Germany, I truly expected "Turn off The World" to be teutonic Thrash with traditional monster riffs and headbanging material. Unfortunately, they've decided to ignore a lot of their roots and look across the pond for inspiration. Which in other words means that their latest album does sound like any other modern American Thrash metal album as of lately. You've heard it done so many times in the past years that it's boring. The only difference from their U.S. friends? Well, they've decided to include some German lyric or rather the odd phrase and line. However, if you're going to do this, kindly do not rhyme, "Eins, zwei, drei, vier" with "there's no way out of here". Ehem, especially since it's a no match. The Very End have been around for a few records now and they still haven't managed to become anything beyond the decent nod of approvial in the metal scene. I actually prefer my German metal to sound like it's German metal and not just another U.S. copy-cat act.

F.M: "Only Foolin' E.P"

Label: Riff City 2012
Review by Alan Holloway

Sometimes I think the term “E.P” isn’t quite understood by F.M. Not that I’m complaining, because this one clocks in at over 50 minutes, nearly as long as their last album! Great music and value for money is always a great combination, so hats off to the boys for not even trying to rip the fans off.

There’s three new tracks here, plus a bunch of live ones, and the three new ones are certainly worth your time. The title track is an upbeat, bouncy song that follows on nicely from the sound established on the “Metropolis” album, full of bounce and melody, crunchy guitars and an underlying Hammond Organ type sound. It’s followed by a similarly upbeat effort, “Rainbows End”, which again wouldn’t have been out of place on the last album. The third new track is actually a cover of “Shot In The Dark”, credited to Ozzy and Phil Sousan, but with Overland hallmarks all over it. But that’s another story, and this is a good version of the song Steve Overland originally sang when he was with Wildlife, two years before Ozzy got his paws on it. It’s been totally F.M’ed up, and is a better song for it, if I’m honest.

Elsewhere we get five live tracks from the last tour, recorded at Shepherd’s Bush and sounding beautiful. It’s a real crowd pleasing section of the show, with “Let Love Be The Leader”, Don’t Stop”, “Does It Feel Like Love”, “Tough It Out” and everyone’s favourite F.M cover and singalong “Hot legs”. Rounding off the E.P is an extended remix of “Only Foolin” that, at nearly eight minutes, is at least a proper job, and will remind people of old 12” singles. It’s fun, if not really necessary.

A perfect stopgap between albums as well as being filled with good music, “Only Foolin” is a must for F.M fans. The new tracks are very worthy, and the live tracks are well performed and recorded. Only foolin’? You’d be a fool to miss out on this.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

SAXON: "Heavy Metal Thunder - The Movie"

Label: UDR 2012
Review by Alan Holloway

“Fill your heads with heavy metal thunder” bellowed Biff Byford back in the days when men were men and women wee groupies. British NWOBHM stalwarts Saxon may not have known it back in 1979, but they were in for a long haul, and although frequently eclipsed by Iron Maiden they have emerged as one of the most genuine, talented bands to tread the boards.

This documentary basically takes us from the early days of Son Of A Bitch, through the glory years and the lean ones, climaxing with the band’s 30th Anniversary album “Into The Labyrinth”. There’s some rare footage, although it’s mostly a case of individual talking heads just telling their story. It’s good to see Graham Oliver and Steve ’Dobby’ Dawson contributing, with Dawson’s tales of groupie love the most entertaining thing here. Don’t hold out any hopes for a reunion, though, as although the ex members would go for it, Biff firmley nixes the idea. Still, you never know…

It’s an entertaining film, an hour and a half of reminiscence that is well put together. It’s not as good as Iron Maiden’s (them again) “Early Years” docs, but it’s solid enough and will be adored by fans. Of equal interest is the second disc, which chucks in all sorts of stuff just in case you find some of it interesting. There’s short (10-15 minutes) docs on the making of “Into The Labyrinth”, Crusader” and “Innocence Is No Excuse”, all of which are a good watch, plus a 22 minute feature on the Saxon/Motorhrad tour which reunited the bands 30 years after they first toured together (which cost Saxon £5000). Also included is a 50 minute St Georges Day concert from 2008, and most interestingly a 50 minute live show filmed in 1981 for the programme “Beat Club”. It’s a great show, although the guitars are a little tinny, and I dare you not to stare at Biff’s crotch through the oh-so-tight spandex strides.

There’s not really much more to say, as this is a package that all fans of the band should own. The price is excellent (if you shop about on t’internet), the content surprisingly generous, and the music, of course, fookin’ rocks.

Monday, November 26, 2012

ROYAL HUNT: "20th Anniversary - Special Edition"

Rating: - (compilation)

Label: Frontiers 2012
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

To celebrate the band's twentieth anniversary, Royal Hunt and Frontiers have put together a really nice package of greatest hits and rare songs on 3 CDs and a DVD. What you'll get is two discs of Best Of Royal Hunt in chronological order, featuring the "cornerstones" of their career. Okay, "Land Of Broken Hearts" would be one in my books and it's missing from the album, but the video is featured on the DVD.

The third CD contains rare songs and even one new track recorded especially for this package. "Save Me" is the new studio recording, a midtempo track that really doesn't leave much of an impression apart from the strange quitar sounds - the guitar in the intro sounds like a cat growling! Three old Royal Hunt songs are given an "unplugged" treatment, out of which "One By One" and "Restless" work really well. "Bodyguard" isn't that great.

"Bad Luck" originates from a Japanese EP "Clown In The Mirror" and features the original singer Henrik Brockmann. An okay'ish song, if nothing more. "Double Conversation" is a nice instrumental from the "Far Away" EP, while "U-Turn" is from an another EP, "Intermission". It's my favourite of these "rarities". "Sixth Sense" is a newer bonustrack from the album "X", and it's another instrumental. "The Day Is Dawning" is a ballad with John West's fine vocals carrying it nicely.

The DVD wasn't included in the promo download so I cannot comment on that, apparently it includes all the promotional videos the band has made. More value for your money then.

More than just a Best Of package, I think this compilation is much nicer than the usual "all the hits and a new song" packages. It serves as a great introduction to Royal Hunt for the uninitiated yet it's still a worthy buy for those more familiar with the band.


GENE THE WEREWOLF: "Rock'n Roll Animal"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Frontiers 2012
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Now this is a fun rock album. Gene The Werewolf may borrow riffs and melodies from here and there, but they still manage to sound quite fresh. Yeah, you'll be reminded of AC/DC, Kiss, Cheap Trick and The Darkness when you're listening to this, but you'll probably be tapping your feet and possibly singing along to the choruses too.

The album's highlights for me include the first single and video "I Only Wanna Rock'n Roll" (AC/DC meets Twisted Sister) and the melodic and catchy double dose of "Heart Of Steel" (The Darkness? Who?) and "Give It Up". The slightly different-sounding and moody "Light Me Up" is very good too, sounding like it could've been on the original "Lost Boys" movie soundtrack. I've also got to mention the Queen-like ballad "The Ballad Of Gene"... how many times have you heard lyrics about the troubled love life of a werewolf? "It ain't easy to be a cold-blooded killer on a friday night..."


Friday, November 23, 2012

GAMMA RAY: "Skeletons & Majesties Live"

Rating: Live
Label: earMUSIC/Edel 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

What if you're still not sure and/or convinced about Gamma Ray's leader Kai Hansen? You know, when he decided to soldier on as both guitarist AND lead vocalist of the band? You tend to forget that when the pumpkin heads struck a label deal in 1985 with leading metal outlet Noise, the very same person did indeed stand infront of the microphone and screamed his pumpkin head off on the debut mini-LP.

There's however no doubt that Helloween became the better outfit with Michael Kiske and I always thought that Ralf Scheepers did a great job fronting Gamma Ray. I'm not saying that Hansen is a rubbish singer, especially since he's not, but the snarling vocals gets on your nerves in the long run. The two disc set of, "Skeletons & Majesties Live", holds twenty tracks (the DVD another six, plus interviews, etc.) and it's frankly just a bit too much of the shriek and screech.

The concert, recorded at Z7, Pratteln/Switzerland in 2011, capture da Rrryzzz in their essence performing songs that are not very often included in their standard set-list, selected from their twenty years long history. It's the last shows they played with drummer Daniel Zimmermann and the brand new chapter awaits with the upcoming new studio album in 2013. You can say that Gamma Ray are at times peculiarly German, but for all the teutonic display, they're very much about songs and creating the sing-a-long schlager metal mood. Not nearly as often as the usual gig though. I believe there's a perfectly good reason to why several of these songs are not in their standard set-list.

The special guest appearance by Michael Kiske on the songs, "Time To Break Free" and "A While in Dreamland", gets the audience going. And the closing Helloween number, "Future World (feat. Kiske)", gets the biggest cheer of the evening. The bottomline: this live release - strickly intended to please the die-hard fan?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Rating: RRRR
Label: LiveRock/Playground 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Jaguar or Puma? Nah, that's clearly the Cougar and White Flame are playing around with the old saying that sex sells and you're buying? Make no mistake, the woman of the artcover? absolutley nothing in common with the band nor their musicians. The finns are however back with their strongest effort so far and Vince The Vocalist & Anthon The Guitarist are no doubt rising stars in the melodic/sleazy field of things. There's no need to worry about any weird singing accent or stale guitar work, etc.

It's a diverse and surprisingly good album full of dynamics and cheeky eighties hardrock tunes. It's a nice mixture of groovy guitar riffs inspired by the likes of Guns N Roses and Aerosmith with a couple of catchy arrangements in the style of Bon Jovi and The Desmond Child version of Alice Cooper. The four gang aka Vince (vocals), Anthon (guitars), Sammye (bass), Jony (drums), recorded "Cougar" in Sweden with producer and fellow melodic/sleaze artist Chris Laney and the album kicks like a mule to the head.

They're spitting out clever and catchy numbers such as "Get What's Mine" and "I Know Where You Live" (co-written by producer Chris Laney), the latter the extremely fun sing-a-long anthem in the vein of Alice Cooper (Trash) and Bon Jovi's heydays including the sambora talk-box and everything. Not entirelly sure what they are getting at with a title such as "Used To Be a Girl" though? Blimey, one of them used to be a girl? However, going through the booklet and reading the lyric, the refrain actually goes along the lines of and I quote, 'There used to be a girl like you', end quote. Surely, "(There Used To Be) A Girl Like You" would have been the more appropriate title? But then again...

The pure energy and attitude of tracks such as "Right Back In" and "We Get It On", almost enough to please any fan of old skool sleaze and Guns N Roses/Aerosmith rock? And what if you're into power ballads? Check out "Make Believe" and "Stay" since it's remedy for the broken hearted. The cover of The Look (Roxette) is okay but hardly essential to the overall quality and rating of the album. Final verdict: candidate for biggest melodic/sleaze surprise of the year.

The STOMPCRASH: "Directions"

Rating: RR
Label: Wormholedeath/Dreamcell 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The Stompcrash have been...ehh... stomping out darkwave music for quite a few years now. Originally founded in Milano in 2002 as the extremely gloomy project inspired by gothic stories of writers such as Lovecraft, Poe, Kafka, "Directions" is their long awaited second album and here they display some of the weirdest pop/metal compositions heard on a album for quite some considerable time.

Reminiscent of poppy eighties kind of goth as well as the slightly heavier approach of The Mission, the twelve tracks on the album speak about various strange topics such as melancholia (well, duh!) love, sorrow, regret(s), and blood. Much like any other Goth album in other words, yeah? no? The neat darkwaver experience? Well, when they're up for it, we get lovely weird tunes as "The Leaves Begin To Fall" and "Cat's Eyes", both examples of the band's ability to sound just like the eighties with merely a hint of the modern rock act the Editors.

Expect layers of atmospheric keyboards, two vocalists, male and female, and we do enjoy several of their tracks. Unfortunately, the male lead vocalist is blessed/cursed with the monotone voice and thus a rather dodgy performance.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

JEFF WAYNE: "Jeff Wayne's Musical Version Of The War Of The Worlds - The New Generation"

Rating: N/A
Label: Son 2012
Review by Alan Holloway

No one would have believed, that in 1978 a musical version of H.G Wells’ classic sci-fi novel ‘War Of The Worlds’ would actually be a critical and commercial success. A million to one, they said, but it was a success anyway. Beautiful, dazzling and emotional, it has endured for over 30 years now, but who would ever think that a new version was needed, let alone wanted?

The release of this new version is a bit of a head scratcher for purists. Sure, this ‘The New Generation’ and all that guff, but can you improve on perfection? The short answer is ‘no’, because this isn’t better than the original, but the long answer is ‘no, but it’s brilliant anyway, because it’s War Of The Worlds’.

So first we have the personnel changes. Top of the list is Liam Neeson, whose deep, passionate voice is an able replacement for the departed Richard Burton, and if you see the new live show his hologram will wander about and interact, by all accounts. David Essex’s Artilleryman is now brought to life surprisingly effectively by Kaiser Chief’s frontman Ricky Wilson, who puts in a very Essex-like performance that he will replicate for the tour. There’s also great casting in Joss Stone as Beth, with Maverick Sabre as her husband, the Parson, Nathaniel. Good stuff, all of them, and they keep the drama alive with passion to spare.

The only downside to this new version is Gary Barlow, who cannot hold a candle to Justin Hayward on the deeply emotional ‘Forever Autumn’. He just hasn’t got the vocal chops to carry such a song, and although competent is not good enough for this project. Aside from him, however, it is genuinely hard to find fault with the new performers.

Musically, there isn’t a great deal of difference, other than a more modern production that works very well in headphones when you whack the volume up. There’s a touch too much with some new keyboard layers at times, but it’s a small niggle.

The question of which is best is rather a moot one. If it wasn’t for Barlow’s vocals then it would probably be a dead heat, and I can see the new star names bringing this superb musical dramatisation to a new generation of fans, which is never a bad thing. If you have never hear this before, I would say stick to the original, with it’s fantastic presentation and Justin Hayward vocals, as well as David Essex and Phil Lynott. That said, the new version still has the power to move anyone who hears it, and as long as you get one of them, you’ll enjoy the hell out of it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Patrick DECOSTE: "Show Me The Way To Go Home"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Bauston Music 2012
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner

We've followed Patrick's career since generating his first splashes in the instrumental guitar world scene and it's nice to see him growing both as a guitarist and as a producer and salesperson of his own music. Digital recording and publishing allows talent to reach a wide audience these days and he is making creative us of that fact. Though "Show Me the Way to Go Home" was obviously recorded with a low budget, the result is as good as it gets. The mix is balanced, the guitar sounds (both acoustic and overdriven) are thick and clear rich in lows and highs, only the drums suffered here and there.

Musically Patrick is a laidback Satch or a doped Kotzen or a stoned Van Halen as you prefer to put it. There are 12 songs (!) here, all with a clear concept and memorable melodies for your entertainment. Those who prefer "neoclassical shredders" won't get their treat here however even Craig Chaquico or to stretch it a bit Eric Clapton fans may enjoy tracks like "Suadade" or the title track.

My personal favorites were "The Dirty South" that smells pleasantly of Satriani and the laid-back, acoustic "Hello World" yet I could have done without "Marvin Berry's Cousin" which is a nothing-spectacular rock n' roll number and does not do much for me. Check some of the songs and a few cool instructional videos at

YOUNGBLOOD: "No Retreat"

Rating: RRRRR
Label: Eonian Records 2012
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner

The relative success of Steel Panther and Wig Wam proved that there is still an audience for melodic hair metal provided it's done in a tongue-in*cheek way; both the audience and the musicians can share "a wink and a smile" nodding in unison with "those were the good times" on their mind, generally taking it the easy way, having a good time at the show then moving on. Yet none of those "serious" hair metal reunion tours (from Cinderella to Steelheart, Slaughter and to Poison and the likes) lived up t the expectations, go figure out why!

With all that in mind it's difficult to predict the future of this release. Eonian Records dug up a brilliant hair metal album that went unreleased in 1989. Youngblood has everything that Steelheart and Slaughter had in their glory days and probably even some more. The vocals, the hooks and the musicianship are up to the standards of the above-mentioned bands and the production is superb, much better than any of those "let's dig some old demos of 80s has-beens" releases we've got over the last decade or so.

Just play the opening "Pump It Up" and it will take you on a time travel and the rest of the tracks won't disappoint either. The 16 tracks and the total running time of close to one hour provide a value for your money deal. If you long for a breath of fresh hAIR spray and were disappointed of the pathetic renewal attempts of all those late 80s hair bands, Youngblood is your choice. Check the soundbytes here and you'll agree.

Friday, November 16, 2012

NUBIAN ROSE: "Mountain"

Rating: RRR
Label: Funklord Dynasty/MusicBuyMail 2012
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Nubian Rose has been making some waves in the melodic hard rock genre recently, and now that they've hooked up with MusicBuyMail to distribute their album, they're hoping to make a bigger splash. The size of a "Mountain" perhaps? :)

The band's not-that-secret weapon is their vocalist Sofia Lilja. She looks and sounds like a star, and I wouldn't be surprised if she became one sooner or later. In fact, some of these songs might help her to achieve stardom sooner rather than later.

Nubian Rose have an interesting sound. They're mixing classic hard rock to more AOR-type of elements, which means that their music kicks like a mule yet they've got some fine melodies too. The opening track "Ever See Your Face" is a perfect example of that - kicking off with rockin' riff, straight-forward beat and some cool keys, then moving on to a superb chorus. The album's title track has a bit of a NWOBHM-vibe and some curious lyrics, like "Spoon is for eating but remember to drink"... Okay... Did I hear it right?

"Living For Tomorrow" features ex-Europe Kee Marcello on guitar, and purposely or not, the galloping rhythm reminds me a bit of a certain very well-known song by Europe. Next up we have "How Am I", which is one of the songs that might just take this band to the next level. It's a very classy ballad with a fine vocal from Sofia and some really tasteful backing from the rest of the band.

"Get Ready" borrows shamelessly from Scorpions' "Rock You Like A Hurricane", yet the chorus is a bit average. "Your Love" is another highlight, a cool, straight-forward rocker with a good chorus. "Once Bitten" doesn't impress me at all, it's just standard pub rock everyone's heard a million times. A bit of a filler... "Reckless" is the band's first video track, and while I think there are a few more potential hits on the album, it's not too bad at all. The Ozzy/Lita Ford-cover "Close My Eyes Forever" is quite nice. It features Mats Leven singing Ozzy's part, and a fine job he does too. Strangely enough, Sofia sounds a bit like Jennifer Rush on this track... This would have been a fine closing number, but unfortunately it isn't, there's still room for another throwaway track. "Sisters" isn't one of the band's finest numbers, and I could've done without it.

A very promising first effort, which clearly shows that Nubian Rose is onto something good. Apart from a couple of weaker standard rockers the album is enjoyable, and the finest moments are actually quite special.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

DIRTY PASSION: "In Wonderland"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Denomination/Transsubstans Records 2012
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

With a new vocalist Kriss Lohikoski Svensson in the band, Dirty Passion are hoping to make it to the first league of Swedish Hard Rock with this album. They might actually succeed, because "In Wonderland" is a rather excellent platter.

I liked the band's first album, so I was looking forward to this one. The first track "Into The Wild" was a bit of a shocker though, a punky sleaze rocker with a messy sound. The new singer is buried in the mix and it sounds like he's trying just a bit too hard. I couldn't help but think that the band had made some very questionable decisions... but things improve a lot after the first song.

"Dead End" kicks off with some cool guitar work and what do you know, Kriss Lohikoski Svensson cuts down most of his strange yelps and starts sounding quite good! Some cool background vocals in the chorus too, nice! The catchy "Lovers Lane" follows, it has a bit of a Hanoi Rocks-like swagger to it. "When Darkness Falls" is power ballad with a big chorus, think "18 And Life" for reference.

"Sinner" has a bit of a funky vibe, reminding me of a band called Kingofthehill, while the ballad "Make It Last" takes us straight to L.A. circa 1989. Back then, this would have been a surefire single and a MTV video... "Addicted" is another semi-balladic track but with a different vibe, a bit of Hanoi Rocks, maybe some Kix thrown in... a good track anyway.

The video'ed (is there such a word?) "Daughter Of The Reaper" reminds me again of Hanoi Rocks - can't help it, it just does! "Light Of The Candle" might just be my favourite song. I've always been a sucker for a well-placed "Whoa-oh", and this slightly Crashdiet-like track has those.

"Stay" is the weakest of the ballads and I'm not that crazy about the closing track "Shadowland" either, it is plagued by the same chaotic atmosphere as the first song, with Krisse's vocals fighting for space during the choruses and losing.

If I now calculate that I liked most of the tracks and the weaker 3 or 4 weren't completely without their merits, I'll have to give this... an "R"! And then a couple more! What the hell, let's throw that fourth one there too!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

VICIOUS RUMORS: "Live You To Death"

Rating: Live
Label: SPV/Steamhammer 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The only minor/major problem with "Live You To Death"?? There's merely nine (9) live tracks on the album and that's a shame really since we're talking about one of the very original sources of Bay Area Metal. Vicious Rumors' founder/guitarist Geoff Thorpe moved away from Hawaii and his band Berlin (not the pop act) to San Francisco in 1979. The new monicker followed shortly and after a number of line-up changes between the years of 1980 to 1983, plenty of gigs, plus the odd song on various compilation albums, the band signed their first record deal in late 1984.

Back to present date. The lack of songs could (to some extend) be explained by the fact that VR toured Europe as opening act for Hammerfall?? Blimey, what kind of sick and twisted world are we living in? Surely it should be the other way around? These guys are highly technical musicians with razor-sharp melodies. Hammerfall on the other hand, so-so? Nah, at least Hammerfall' guitarist Pontus Norgren (also ex. Talisman, Great King Rat, Jekyll & Hyde, etc.) did good when he recording the concert in Passau/Germany, December 2011. The overdubbed performance? Perhaps... but, the sound experience is overall of great joy and brutality.

Produced by Thorpe, the short set-list was based around the two cult albums, "Digital Dictator" (Replicant/Digital Dictator, Minute To Kill) and their self-titled 1990 album (Down To the Temple, Hellraiser, Don't Wait For Me). One song each from their debut (the title track: Soldiers Of The Night) and "Welcome To The Ball", and merely two songs post-1991. Thorpe and Rasmussen are extracting killer licks and tricks of the old school technique, ("shred 'em til' ya' bleed"), and they come across as the tight, efficient, live unit with soaring metal vocals in the tradition of Priest (Brian Allen). No doubt one of those sadly forgotten live acts. Always true - always metal.

Bonus tracks are studio recordings as well as covers of "The Sign Of The Southern Cross" (Black Sabbath) and "Running Wild" (Judas Priest). I suppose they needed to include them all considering. Do I prefer the originals? -always.

Friday, November 9, 2012

AEROSMITH: "Music From Another Dimension"

Rating: RRR
Label: Sony/Columbia 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Let me start by saying that I'm not really a big fan of seventies Aerosmith. Sure, I need the compilation of their best songs. But, I'm brought up with the very late eighties and nineties version of The Toxic Twins. The untoxicated years according to the old fan-boy. But seriously... what if you couldn't care less about what they once meant to the nostalgic listener in the world of rock (play the oldies and stay in your bubble).

Neither if they did a sell out or became too commercial. Please, the big C is just another word for popular and I believe it's the year of 2012? at least the last time I checked? It's definitely not 1976? "Music From Another Dimension" doesn't sound anything like, "Rocks", no matter what you've read or believe (even though they decided to work with producer Jack Douglas). It's rather the commercial (oh, you know you hate the word?) sound of "Pump" and mostly "Get A Grip", albeit with not quite as great material. It's however a lot better than their forgettable, "Just Push Play", album.

It marks the band's 15th studio album and their first studio album of all-new material in 11 years. For starters, the opening tracks are not exactly easily accessible even though it's a grower album. Not to mention the closing couple of tracks as they are pretty lousy indeed, including the Des Child (co-written) ballad. Why should Joe Perry sing lead? And what about the golden rule of less is more? They've simply decided to ignore this by including too many tracks.

Going through some of the highlights: "Legendary Child" (co-written by Jim Vallance) rides hard on the fun and cheeky groove of Livin' on the Edge and Love in an Elevator. "What Could Have Been Love" and "Can't Stop Lovin' You," (duet with Carrie Underwood?!) are two great power ballads. The latter obviously the same kind of trick/flirt as Bon Jovi did the other year. The Diane 'Genius' Warren composition, "We All Fall Down", yet another ballad, yet another homerun. "Street Jesus", "Luv XXX" and "Lover Alot" could just as easily have been from the 'Get A Grip' album. The bottomline, don't go thinking it's all "Rocks", it's eight, nine, songs of Grip-ish material including warts and wicked power ballads. Not too shabby.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

KAMELOT: "Silverthorn"

Rating: RRRR
Label: SPV/Steamhammer 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Kamelot - the new era! The perfect merriage between two of the greatest melodic progressive metal acts as of lately or the complete disaster? There's no denying that's been favourable towards Seventh Wonder and thus also their lead vocalist Tommy Karevik. Their two latest albums (Mercy Falls, The Great Escape) received highest praise and I've been fortunate enough to follow the band's up's and down's ever since their first demo EP (see archive for reviews). In other words, the Swede, no doubt the perfect choice and replacement for Kahn.

"Silverthorn" have an obvious goth influence, but gives off a feel more like the symphonic masterpiece meets the progressive lite wetdream. Sure, it may take three or four spin before you begin to notice all the excellent guitar and keyboard interludes, and then another few before you're able to take in all the elements of melodic metal. Having said that, it's easily up there with their best album (The Black Halo) and perhaps yet another step up the level of excellence.

Very bombastic, at times stormy as Halle Berry, and the massive choirs will sweep you away on a journey of intensity and outstanding musicality. It's big drama, the epic composition and orchestral metal arrangement. Youngblood and company combine grand gestures with great finess and epic piano passages. "Song For Jolee", manage to bring back the eighties MTV ballad in different light and splendid colour. A couple of minor hickups though. Haven't we heard a very similar melody to "Ashes To Ashes" in the past already?

The concept story tells of a young girl who dies in the arms of her two twin brothers, taking the three siblings' secret to her grave. It's songs about despair, a sense of guilt and the pursuit of truth. The big question, however, would they stumble and fall with the loss of the rather impressive Kahn? The answer? No! Not the slightest... "Silverthorn" is the candidate for melodic metal album of the year. Highly Recommended!

BAD POETRY BAND: "The One Way Romance"

Rating: RRR
Label: HR Records 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Bad Poetry Band (BPB from now on) - are they Pop, Surfer Punk, or Hard Rock? Why not all of them? "The One Way Romance" sticks with the same successful? formula as their debut but the songs are stronger and catchier. The surf/pop/hardrock end of the spectrum is well catered for, with fuzzy seventies twin guitar work by Daniel Birath and Martin Gustavsson (also lead vocals), poppy sing-a-long choruses, and the abstruse substance of surfer punk.

The Swedes may actually sound like the neat and sorber hybrid band, but the vibe throughout the album is one of great energy and attention. It's the fun uptempo style of acts such as The Hellacopters and Sator with the more direct and simple approach to hooks and choruses 'ala U.S. of A's Weezer. This may not sound like an important point, but it is unusual like Cyndi Lauper to have the Swedish act playing around with these kind of arrangements nowadays, and much like Cyndi, BPB just want to have fun!?

"Make Up Made For Make Out", such a clever little tune with the great refrain that sticks like glue to the back of the mind. The hint of U.K.'s The Damned? Simply check out, "Half Hearted", for proof. But most of all, have a go at, "The One Way Romance", if you fancy the mixture of sweet melodies 'ala Weezer and guitars/tempo of The Hellacopters. Horrible stoner artcover (see pic right) but rather fun and catchy music...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

PAPA ROACH: "The Connection"

Rating: RR
Label: EMI Music 2012
Review by: Martien Koolen

The new album of the Californian nu metal band Papa Roach is not exactly an album that will end up in my top 10 list of 2012. Why, you will ask, well that is mainly due to the fact that this album is too commercial and most of the 13 songs sound rather alike and remind me of bands like Nickelback, Offspring and Staind. Furthermore I am not eactly a fun of rap vocals and on the Connection Papa Roach tends to use this kind of vocals more and more. Just listen to Won't Let Up and you will catch my drift, I hope. This sixth studio album is filled with power ballads, like: Before I Die, Wish You Never Met Me, Leader Of The Broken Hearts and As Fas As I Remember, and they are probably ideal for the audience to sing (read: scream) along to during their live gigs, but I find they rather boring and too predictable.

Luckily there are also a couple of good hard rock songs on this album. Like e.g. the single Still Swingin' which is a heavy track with great raw vocals, or Silence Is The Enemy, which is again extremely catchy. So many nu metal bands have come and gone but Papa Roach is still going strong and altough this album is a bit disappointing, maybe their next one will be far better; or should I say more to my taste.....Check it out for yourself if you still like their songs and start with Still Swingin' at maximum volume!

MARILLION: "Sounds That Can't Be Made"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Earmusic 2012
Review by: Martien Koolen

Marillion has always been one of my favourite melodic prog rock bands and they have been written off a couple of times already, but they still prevail and they have been active in the music business for 33 years now! Their albums have not always been to my liking, take for example the rather weak Radiation, Anoraknophobia or, but they always came back with a marvellous album. Marbles and Happiness Is The Road are two of my favourite Marillions albums ever! Now, they return with another very strong album called: Sounds That Can't Me Made and this CD opens with the rather impressive and emotional (listen to the lyrics very carefully) track Gaza. It is a 17 minutes epic, classic Marillion mammoth, with lots of diversity and stunning vocals by Hogarth.

Another highlight is the second longest song called Montreal, and the album ends with another rather long track called The Sky Above The Rain. These three amazing songs are already worth buying this album and that is mainly because of the dazzling guitar solos and melodies of Steve Rothery who adds the extra musical dimension on this album. His guitar solos are so unique and so recognisable and I am glad that he has got more "room" on this album to excel. Invisible Ink and Lucky Man are good rock songs but sadly they are by far not as good as the other songs on this album. The title track, Power and Pour My Love are also typical Marillion songs executed in an excellent way.

All in all I can say - being a Marillion afficianado - that this is one of their best albums in many years. It took 4 years but it was definitely worth the rather long wait. I hope that these guys will go on for a couple of years and release more albums like Sounds That Can't Be Made!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

St.PROSTITUTE: "Here Come The Prostitutes"

Rating: RRR
Label: Gateway Music 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

St.Prostitute? It's good old fashioned, straight up rock n roll and sleaze 'ala the L.A. scene of the eighties. Bags of attitude as well as the power ballads and fuel injected material. Founded in Denmark back in 2007 under the name of LA Prostitutes by the four lads aka Fussy Korsholm (vocals/guitar), Morten Korsholm (lead guitar), Kim "Finn" Mikkelmann (surely the nick should be "Fox" according to his last name?) and Jack Andy (drums).

Yet another Scandi-Sleaze act with a special knack for writing catchy, hooky material? Indeed, "Here Come The Prostitutes" - the overall fun album and amalgam of eighties glam, sleaze, and melodic hardrock, which in truth, takes off right from start with the kick-ass title track. The opening six numbers (there's a total of ten tracks) are the blistering flawless stuff that melodic sleaze dreams are made of. You have everything from hook-driven stuff (I'm Not Falling) to power ballads (Dreaming Of You) and powerful rockers with gang vocals (Hell Yeah!).

The downside? The last four tracks are sadly not quite as impressive. Well, "A Bitter Man's Lullaby" is a neat ballad, but the other three are rather dodgy leftover from yesteryear's acts such as D.A.D. and Guns N Roses. The album is nicely recorded, mixed, and mastered at the semi-famous Medley Studios, Copenhagen with producer and engineer Soren Andersson. Final verdict: Pacey guitar solos, power chords, and sleazy vocals by the Korsholm bros. makes this a nice surprise from the wild side of Legoland. Definitely worthy of your attention.

LEVANIA: "Parasynthesis"

Rating: RR
Label: Dream Cell 11/Aural 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Hey Little Girl? Not the Aussie hit of the eighties though (Icehouse?) since we're refering to the lead vocalist of Goth Metal act, Levania (apparently 'Moon' in Hebrew). Ehem, and before you start emailing me about pc (political correctness). It's neither sexist nor wrong to remark about vocals in the terms of "little girl" when the singer in question actually sounds like the twelve year old lass. It would however be wrong to refer to all female vocalist as little girls (see the difference - bucko?).

In order to really appreciate "Parasynthesis", you simply need to embrace as well as accept the fragile vocals by their otherwise technical singer Ligeia (Elena Liverani). The album, includes ten original tracks that oozes of gothic romanticsim and tells stories about long gone days and mediterranean ways. It embodies the concept of the moon (worship), destined to become the instrument of the artistic creativity. Beware of the dark side?

Layers upon layers of atmospheric keyboards and the occasional growl, makes this a very melodic affair and merely the hint of aggressive stuff. It's a tad too 'mediterranean' in my humble opinion though. You probably need to appreciate their folk-rock as well as the Gothic stuff to truly get all aspects of "Parasynthesis". Pagan influences and cultural tradition gets in the way of the much needed hook and refrain based material.

INSIDE I: "Beneath The Circus"

Rating: R
Label: Wormholedeath 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

"I faked so many smiles you'd be amazed a happy kid within a broken mind". The lyric quote pretty much sums up the debut album by the Norwegian Progressive Death Metal act, Inside I. They are broken. There's no happy ending. No kodak moment aka perfect picture. Instead you're bombarded with disturbing images and stories of "How To Create a Monster" and what not really.

There's no hope, no future, only hell. God had a plan, but the devil stole the blueprint and now we're all f**ked for helping him along. Doom and gloom? It's devastating metal from Tromso, Norway, and the five-piece has been influenced by acts such as Death, Necrophagia, Necrophagist, and basically any other Necrolog, Necromancer or Necrophile? Combine this with a touch of evil and the progressive sludge of Lamb Of God and you're all set to go.

It's the traditional corpse painting gone bozo the clown or Stephen King's 'IT' (at least according to the booklet photos) and Stefan Ravn is one seriously mad growler with the rather monotone performance. "Beneath The Circus", one of those albums that rely upon moshpitting, headsplitting, numbers, and sadly lacking proper song material. There are simply too many unremarkable tunes and not one outstanding moment to rave about in the end.

The WAY OF PURITY: "Equate"

Rating: RRR
Label: Wormholedeath 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

"Equate", follows the same path of confusion and destruction as their latest EP, combining provocative ideals and lyrics with impressive vocals by the female growler. They don't seem to be able to hold on to their front-figure(s) though. Their previous singer (Tiril Skårdal) didn't last more than one record. Instead we can find another new woman behind the microphone by the name of Marja Panic. No Panic, it's Marja? To be honest, I find it difficult to tell most growlers apart anyhow... sad but true.

The Way Of Purity are certainly different. Completely bonkers, but in a good way? They are dedicated to the cause and that animals and nature will rule the planet again with their integrity. Meat is murder etc. etc. The caricature of the stereotyped and archetypal metal band? Quite the opposite to the traditional meat lover aka Blackie Lawless? Let's just say they are using the meat and blood from a slightly different point of view.

Mastered by Mika Jussila at Finnvox studios, "Equate" represent The Way Of Purity of twenty twelve. No doubt, my favorite tracks are the ones featuring (clean) guest vocals by Giulia Stefani of the band Ravenscry ("Eleven" and "The Last Darkest Night"). As well as, "For All Who Thrive Unheard", great mixture of clean vocals and growls by Panic, and I believe it's the most direct and strongest formula as well as the best way out from obscurity for The Way Of Purity. Their clearly not hidden agenda challenge the standard of metal entertainment and humanity is apparently ill, infected with the worst disease that is called speciesism. The music however is blackened death core and "Equate" is indeed the decent platter.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

RICK SPRINGFIELD: "Songs For The End Of The World"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Frontiers 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Barely alive at 85? Merely 63 actually and apparently born to be a kid again? Tricky Ricky Springfield having a go at the cliché of getting older and still trying to act like the 18 year old. Pathetic or the true nature of every human? you be the judge. One thing's for sure though, this album is only one, "Young At Heart", song away from covering all bases. But hey, major kudos for not acting like the bitter old geezer for once and the same goes for the music. It's uplifting, fresh/retro, catchy, and overall... fun, fun, fun.

You may not enjoy all the, "Songs For The End Of The World", if you're strickly eighties Springfield fan. At times very up-to-date modern commercial rock and I tend to think what if? this had been the debut album by the twenty year old musician with the backing of a major label. Nevertheless, Rick is basically the starting point for modern day power pop anyhow. Ozzie always set out to be one step ahead of the rest of the pack (Living In Oz, Tao, Rock Of Life) and to produce simple yet energetic top-40 music. Never afraid to be too commerical either since it's just another word for popular.

Whoa, whoa, whoa's and sing-a-long moments overkill makes, "Songs For The End Of The World", the best Springfield album since the eighties. Lyrically, the album deals with acceptence and topics such as dating younger women. Speaking to Gabriel aka the arc-angel. Looking for a face in the galaxy aka God? Broken souls and last heartbeats. His son. Depravity... and various other strange habits. The writing partnership with Matt Bissonette deliver top notch quality from opening track "Wide Awake" to the closer of "My DUI". Well, actually, that's a lie! The final track on the Frontiers European release is also the worst. The only real filler in my opinion.

In fact, the rest of the songs show us an excited musician who never stagnated or became too afraid to deliver catchy fun power pop music. Back from the future, younger than ever? better than never? 60 is the new 18 according to the barking mad aussie doc.

The APOSTATES: "Wide-Eyed & Determined"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Wolves Of Suburbia/PrescriptionPR 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

That's not dancing... That's a seizure!!! Indeed, it's the fun title taken from track ten off the debut album by U.K. London rockers The Apostates. But in all honesty. That's not a title... That's a riddle??? The correct answer... obviously Phil Collins!!! We've been watching the eighties videos and it looks like a geezer having a seizure while pretending to dance [:-)]. Nevermind the b.s. This particular power-trio consisting of Adam Stone (vocals/guitar), Steve Reynolds (bass/vocals), Mike Saminaden (drums/vocals) have slowly been building up a fanbase via hard work and well over 400 live shows, as well as a session for the U.K. Radio 1 Punk Show.

Are they proper Punks or merely pretending? No old school 70's pin-head would ever classify The Apostates as proper punk-rockers anyhow. They're too neat, too polished, too radio friendly, too melodic, and too darn polite. It's really not the Johnny Rotten image and spit-em-in-the-face attitude. It's the new wave 'ala Green Day, which in reality means that this record have just as much in common with The Alarm, The Smiths, The Pogues, modern rock, as well as their pure punk rock heritage of The Clash and The Damned. In other words, do not expect to find anything remotely similar to Sex Pistols or The Ramones.

It's nice and clean punk rock with just the right amount of hooks to cross-over and perhaps attract the average rock fan? The melodies speak of traditional U.K. working class and a journey from the shadowed beginning to the lighter side of living. I'm surprised over the many times that I'm reminded of The Alarm and their 'Strenght' and 'Change' albums. How sadly forgotten they are in comparsion to other acts from the same decade. Tracks showing their Smiths/Morrissey side (Sixteen, The Junkie In Me, etc.) where their flexiable singer (Stone) likes to spice things up, switching from basic punk vocals to the sophisticated wailing of the posh poet aka Morrissey.

Would you still enjoy this if you're only into Green Day and never heard of the above mentioned acts? Yeah, but you need to be a tad more open-minded. This is after all U.K. and not U.S. In fact, it's pefect background music to one of those superb series of 'This Is England 86, 88, etc'. If they should ever cover the year of 2012 that is. Release date: December 10th.

BAD POWERS: "Bad Powers"

Rating: RR
Label: The End Records 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Bad Powers, bad, bad, Austin Powers? From 3/4 of NYC alt metal band Made Out of Babies comes a new disturbing little project that transcends genre and style. Experimental, alternative, post-punker that embraces innovatives sounds and instrumentations. Bad Powers are hardly something completely new or originals though.

The late seventies saw the birth of acts such as Television, Nina Hagen, The Cure, and Siouxsie and The Banshees. Mix 'em together in the blender, add more metal, the odd Jesus Lizard, Meat Puppets, and PJ Harvey influence and end up with one helluva strong cocktail entitled Bad Powers?

Static guitar noise, dysfunctional arrangements, lack of standard verse/chorus/ structure, lack of commercial ideas, lack of anything that would ever attract anyone from the fashion scene and their beautiful people. Cousin IT and Uncle Fester down the basement "hanging out" with the lads from One Direction and a butcher knife. It's not pretty and neither are songs such as "Hit Sniffing Dogs", "Black Alf", "Chineseish", "Bigger Than We Are". Bleak, depressive, creepy. Sadly not enough of great songs for an entire album in my humble opinon (EP - yes!).

SOLEIL MOON: "On The Way To Everything"

Rating: RRR
Label: Frontiers 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Ebony and ivory? perfect harmony? Layers of piano, keyboards and ultra soft adult radio melodies do come together in a nicely produced package entitled, "On The Way To Everything". Touted as the melodic rock gem, Soleil Moon is a duo formed by singer Larry King (Michael Thompson Band) and keyboardist John Blasucci. The latter currently the keyboard player of Dennis DeYoung (ex-Styx) have been working with artists such as Richard Marx, Michael Bolton, Celine Dion, Josh Groban, etc.

It's a very slick and polite affair. Basically the standard Pop album disguised with the occasional loud guitar. Not necessarily a bad thing. But I seriously doubt the flashy solos by session guitarist Michael Thompson (not involved as songwriter this time) would be enough to please the strickly melodic (hard) rock fan? For example, "Colorado" bares resemblance to Eagles' "Desperado", and "Ohio" could just as easily have been the work of Garth Brooks, Celine Dion or Michael Bolton. The title track display the jazzy/funky piano work and next there's the acoustic version of the Lennon/McCartney song "Blackbird". And then you have "Goodbye Irene"... (read on).

Man, check out lyric from the biggest tear-jerker of a piano ballad in 2012. Quote chorus: "It's time to say Goodbye Irene and pray the lord your soul to keep. And when you close your eyes, there'll be an angel by your side and crayon colored skies. Remember daddy loves you more than life. Goodnight Irene godnight", end quote. The sadness (grief) continues with the verse, "And now he holds her trembling hand to lose Irene is more than he can stand. But doctor sadly said that hope is all but gone". Christ oh mighty! One more line? "And he held her as she slipped into the night", end quote, end hope, end Irene. Depending on if you're a heartless bastard or not? you'll either find "Goodnight Irene" to be utter sap or simply just a great ballad? The lyric gets you in the heart every time... yeah? no?

The slightly more uptempo tracks? Well, there's "Freedom", lyric in the vein of Springsteen and Bon Jovi and it'll remind you of the latter's mid-tempo songs. Track 7 (Burn) is the short guitar instrumental tune. Thompson gets to shine for a minute and the rock continues on the following number, "Down". The only song that's sort of similar to MTB. The only great uptempo track is however "Here I Am". Proper craftmanship. Everything's professional done and executed. The perfect album material for someone like Josh Groban, Michael Bolton or Celine Dion?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

MONGREL: "Reclamation"

Rating: RR
Label: ThomHazert/HeadFirstEntertainment 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Mongrel, underground metal-punks aka local heroes from Boston, Massachusetts and according to the press-release one of the East Coast's strongest independent act. They've been touring up and down the coast for nearly a decade now, sharing stages with diverse acts such as The Misfits, Korn, GWAR, Prong, Fu Manchu, Fear, The Exploited, etc, etc.

"Reclamation" - their latest rage and power fueled effort, finally up for release after four year, five band members, two studios, two labels, and countless hours getting the songs recorded and released. It's a rather basic and very energetic album with just as much punk as metal influence. After replacing their previous male singer with Jessica Sierra from the band Affliction, they now have a very capable as well as flexible vocalist upfront. Truth be told, she's the best thing about this record.

Lyrically, we are not impressed. In fact, we are rather "Bored To Death" (opening track off Reclamation). Wearing four-letter words on their sleeves like it's some kind of badge of honor? Seriously, what's the real message behind the lyric if every other word is either f**k or s**t? Sure, it's anarchy, intriguing to the pre-teen living in the states? Are they or are they not segregated by church and state? (free speech - U.S. media vs. politic vs. religion? etc, etc). Nontheless, it's juvenile and dare I say idiotic? Metal, punk, sludge, and rap ingredients, it's frankly not enough to save this from status below average.

Monday, October 29, 2012

MY JERUSALEM: "Preachers"

Rating: RRR
Label: The End Records 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Preachers, the sophomore release from Austin's My Jerusalem has the rather dark and sinister theme going on in the background. Founder and singer Jeff Klein (ex-Gutter Twins, The Twilight Singers) describes it as the Post-Modern Southern Gothic Soul album surrounded by beautiful, comforting, darkness. It's real, not selfish, according to the mad hatter and Klein's baritone vocals are ever so moody and emotionally black.

Now, I haven't been listening to their debut (only to some of Klein's solo material), but it's supposedly a much lighter and easier going effort. Here, the opening title track literally reeks of big drama, grand piano, avant-garde, a special nod to religion or rather the lack of religious beliefs? as the lyric tells about blood, sin, and lines such as 'this preacher ain't no pacifist'.

Klein and company have basically decided to remove hard drives and laptops to make way for old school analog tape machines and vintage keyboards. Making this more into and about expression and in the vein of the complex music of The Mission and The Velvet Underground? You need to spin this several times and really spend quality time to get the full picture. Not exactly 'easy listening' and My Jerusalem are definitely nocturnal creatures with a soft spot for the macabre. I do however miss the important change of pace and tempo and the choruses are not always razor sharp.

Preachers - moments of clarity followed by layers of smoothing (slow/mid tempo) darkness that abruptly shifts into modern lounge music for the broken hearted? Yep... nailed it !

Saturday, October 27, 2012

T&N: "Slave To The Empire"

Rating: RRRr
Label: earMusic/Edel 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The Don's last stand, "Broken Bones", came out the other month and we could witness the end of the Dokken era/empire? The former band members (Jeff Pilson - vocals/bass, George Lynch - guitars, Mick Brown - drums) are however still under the influence of the evil emperor? Well, at least according to their new album title, "Slave To the Empire". Not to mention that T&N stands for Tooth & Nail (the Dokken album) and that 5 out of 12 tracks are Dokken re-recordings with special guests on lead vocals. The new stuff feature Brian Tiachy on drums while Mick Brown handles the oldies.

The new stuff first. The CD kicks off with the smoking title track that will instantly remind you of the good old days. Flashy guitar work by Lynch and Pilson sings his heart out. The strong presence of tracks such as "Sweet Unknown" and "Rhythm Of The Soul" are indeed at the heart of the meta(l)morphosis that at first will have you thinking about Led Zep, while the latter is just a nice throw-back to the mid/slow tempo tracks. "When Eagles Die" -again, the mixture of Page-ish licks and Dokken. Unfortunately, "Jesus Train", as well as "Access Denied", are somewhat disjointed with the obvious lack of proper hooks. Overall, not too shabby and slightly better than Don's work.

The old stuff. I find it a bit weird to listen to some of the re-recordings and I'm not exactly sold on ex-Judas Priest's Ripper Owens singing "Kiss Of Death". Very metal, over-the-top, and frankly annoying, due to Ripper's constant need to express himself as the bad-ass vocalist with little or no finess. Lynch hates (Dokken) power ballads, that's what he says in each and every interview. Thus why, "Alone Again", certainly is the surprise with Seb Bach (Skid Row) on lead vocals. Doug Pinnick (King's X) sings "Tooth and Nail" and no surprise here, it sounds like King's X performing Dokken. Lynch Mob, Warrant vocalist Robert Mason (It's Not Love) and Jeff Pilson (Into the Fire) are both close to the originals and you'll notice exactly how much Pilson contributed to vocal melodies/harmonies in the past.

Final verdict: The originals are still the best and do not expect to find anything remotely similar to "It's Not Love" amongst the brand new tracks. Not bad though, not bad at all.


Rating: RRRR
Label: Heist Records 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

19 year old Indie Rock kid from Manchester records debut album in Nashville?? Bloody'ell, it's like reading one of those awful headlines by The Sun. Completely unbelivable and utterly false? But no, the pale slacker kid brought up on deep fried mars-bars, bangers and mash, chips, and pudding, gets invited to record in Nashville, Tennessee, US of A, in Sputnik Sound Studios run by Grammy Award winning producer, Vance Powell (Jack White etc).

North East U.K. footie gone country U.S. soccer? Well, Fantasy Rainbow (dodgy monicker?) is in fact the project of Oliver Catt, and no, we don't know if he's sporting a blue or red jersey. Last year, however, the eighteen year old, recorded four songs with the help of friend Coddington, a collaboration which led to a demo which would generate a large amount of buzz in the north east music scene.

Over the next nine months Fantasy Rainbow would go on to release three releases in the shape of the 'Teens' EP, the 'No Hope. Not Ever' EP and the 'Healthy Lung, Dirty Lung' cassette. Really? the old cassette? Yeah, simply get in touch with the Catt and he'll soon hook you up with the old skool tape and he'll hand draw the cover too?! Just in case anyone was wondering, it's hardly the Oasis or Joy Division based material. However, to really simplify things, there are fragments and tiny bits and pieces of the mellow work of Beck, Daniel Johnston, and old skool George Harrison (the hare khrisna days/daze).

Anti-social, perhaps even off-beat? The point of calling your debut album something like 'Bos Taurus' is clearly to project the listener with an image of alternative music and experimental ideas? Signed to Heist Or Hit Records and with a bag of quirky fun tracks (Soda Scream, Condominium, Ear Wax, Porta, O Weirdo, Golf World, etc), Fantasy Rainbow deliver a charming debut with strong material and dodgy monicker.