Tuesday, June 4, 2019

BLACK PAISLEY: "Perennials"

Rating: RRRR
Label: -
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Call me old-fashioned, but I'm pretty impressed by the Black Paisley promo package: a CD, a good-looking 7" single-sized info letter and coasters! It's rare that I get any physical promos these days, it's mostly just links to downloads and there's so many of those that it's overwhelming. It takes some effort from the band to put together something like this, and for this they have to be applauded. They certainly stand out from the competition with this.

A nice package doesn't guarantee that the music inside is any good, but I'm glad to say that Black Paisley have got that covered too. "Perennials" is their second album, the first being "Late Bloomer" (2017). The name of the debut reflects the fact that the guys in the band have been around for quite some time, and the name of this album suggests that Black Paisley will bloom year after year... Horticultural Rock, anyone?

The leader of the band is vocalist/guitarist/main songwriter Stefan Blomqvist. He has a cool, raspy voice similar to another Swedish singer, Jan Johansen.  At times he uses his vibrato in a way that reminds of Chris De Burgh.

Let's check out some of the album highlights: The heavy rocker "I Want Your Soul" which opens the album is definitely one of those, it has a bit of a Europe-vibe ("Superstitious") and a big, stomping chorus. "Sometimes" is a classic rock ballad that wouldn't be out of place on a Gotthard album, while "Without You" is another ballad that has touches of Bryan Adams and Def Leppard. "Trying" takes us back to the early eighties with its' Uriah Heep/Rainbow stylings, but with "Out Of My Life" we're back in the "now", yet still firmly rooted in classic rock!? I also have to mention the delicate, piano-driven ballad "Stronger", which is a beautiful piece of songwriting.

As you may gather from the above, "Perennials" is a diverse album. Yet it's an album in a good old-fashioned way, there's a common thread in the songs.


Monday, April 1, 2019

LA GUNS: "The Devil You Know"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Frontiers 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

L.A. Guns and The Devil You Know. It's basically raw, you know, everything from song material, performances by the band members to the so-so production by Tracii Guns. And that's nicely put by the way. It's grit, dirt, filth, stench and goo, plus various other words that would normally make people turn around and walk away. It's basement horror and sheer terror. If you came here looking for goodie-goodies, rainbows and unicorns, keep dreaming sucker. Derranged and darn right wicked and mental Sleaze-Rock on the other hand? I guess it's you're lucky day! Do you feel lucky, punk?

It ain't pretty. It ain't clean. It certainly ain't soppy/sloppy and soft poser rock. It's frankly just ugly and aggressive glitter-gutter and the stuff you'll find at the bottom of a backalley in the LA scene. Gotta' love the way Phil Lewis sings the words "Loaded Bomb" as the Queen's English (he's from good old England and Girl, you know?) shines through and add yet another dimension to the material. The title track howls like a mental Adam Ant (to close to home?) on a night out with Kyuss. Darn right nasty. I'm not entirelly sure why I like it? But I do. It's bigger, louder, better. It's L.A. Guns on steriods. "Needle To The Bone", fun and catchy stuff. "Gone Honey" draw inspiration from MC5, Iggy, The Stooges, and Detroit. "Another Season In Hell", the much needed break from the asylum and the great ballad I may add.

The resulting mess is pure Sleaze/punk gore. They aren't about to use the LA Guns to completely kill rock n roll and that's as good as you'll get these days. The guns are blasting from the word go. It's a shame about the production though. It may lack the extra volume and sound. However. It's Punky/Sleazy stuff and these acts never sounded like Def Leppard's Hysteria or whatever. Final verdict: The Devil You Know, like a sucker punch on your birthday. It's a surprise - but not always nice. Deal with it... sucker! facebook.com/L.A.GunsOfficial

The TREATMENT: "Power Crazy"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Frontiers 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The Treatment and dare I say the cure to all your basic (very basic?) needs regarding rock n roll? "I don't need you to tell me want you what me to do. So here's my middle finger and it's aiming straight at you". It's album number four and yet another new voalist? Sound and lyric-wise, they are now about as original as a rocker or indeed footballer covered in tattoos and that's not saying a whole lot(ta Rosie) in the year of 2019. It's like if they've been drinking a whole lotta beer while listening to a whole lotta Acca Dacca albums and thinking, we can do that, we're not from down under (that's Australia if you're too posh to geddit), but what could possible go wrong? Not a whole lot(ta Rosie). It's okay to be from Cambridge, U.K. It's all about four chords and no frills anyhow.

The new shouter? Tom Rampton is the name and the game is darn excellent vocals in the tradition of Bon Scott and the two blokes from Airbourne/Bonafide. There's a healthy dosage of Aussie rock and roll throughout, and the whole thing is brought to a new acca dacca level by fresh out of the woods vocalist Rampton. For instance. "Bite Back", the best beer drinking anthem of the year. You'll be howling along to the opening line of "Stick and stones may break my bones". Are the Grey's Power Crazy? That's correct, the six-string benders are brothers. Acca Dacca right down to the shoe-laces? "We believe this record is a strong statement from the band and we look forward to playing the new songs live. We will be touring throughout 2019 and can't wait to see all you Treatment troops at our shows next year", says the band.

Unlike past Treatment recordings, where their Airrace background and not to mention lead vocals usally ended up getting short changed in the mix, here, it leaves a lasting effect long after the darn thing's stopped spinning. Do people still spin records? All guitars, all the time? Actually, "King Of The City" could also double as the soundtrack of your street fighting movie of the eighties. But yeah. It's still pretty much about guitars though. "Waiting For The Call", the cool breeze during a long hot summer of Power Crazy tunes. The bonus track, the acoustic version of "Bite Back" is frankly just no good. The living proof to the fact that you need crazy power (not to be confused with Power Crazy) and electric guitars to get the songs going at eleven. Crack it Up! Try it if you're into acts such as Airbourne, Dirty Looks, Kix, Krokus, Dangerous Toys, and you-know-who... made who. facebook.com/TheTreatmentOfficial

BURNING RAIN: "Face The Music"

Rating: Rr
Label: Frontiers 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Face The Music? I can barely face the day and certainly not eleven tracks of blues driven hard rock w/o memorable melodies. Burning Rain is a hard rock band established in 1998 by guitarist extraordinare Doug Aldrich (Lion, Whitesnake, Dio, The Dead Daisies, Revolution Saints) and vocalist Keith St. John (Ronnie Montrose). The brand new line-up featuring Blas Elias (Slaughter) on drums and Brad Lang (Y&T) on bass, add a wicked rhythm section, but sadly not quite enough of swagger.

Tracks such as "Nasty Hustle", "Since I'm Loving You", the title track, or "Beautiful Road" really are poor man's version of Whitesnake. The latter trying to be cool 'ala still of the night and ended up sounding like a tool 'ala who-gives-a-damn. It's in one ear and out the other and all the time in the world wouldn't help in your quest to recall the melody. What melody? "Shelter" is a decent attempt at Led Zeppelin and their balladic stuff. "Hit and Run" include killer lines such as "Mamma always love me like the bird and the bees". "Givin little Sally in the alley when you're ready to play". Or why not "Baby always like it on top but ya love to go down. Always put me in the middle and play me like a fiddle all night". What the fudge? Yours truly wrote the same kind of lyrics at the age of twelve and I barely knew English.

Bow yer heads in shame as the overall lyrics are so juvenile and dare I say sexist? I do and I did. It's frankly just sad. You need more proof? Above mentioned "Nasty Hustle" and I quote, "Ohh your face looks like a trainwreck. Baby please I think I'll need a raincheck. Don't want ya down on your knees. You're just a dime a dozen, it's a fact". Geez. It just goes on and on throughout the track. Hostility? Misogyny? In fact. The entire track is one long international woman hating anthem. Let's leave with one last quote, "Your filthy body's such a bore. Gotta toss ya like a whore. So say goodbye". Indeed. It's time to say goodbye. Tossers.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The END MACHINE: "The End Machine"

Rating: RRR
Label: Frontiers 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Phew. It's darn difficult to keep track and/or record of all the projects by George Lynch and Jeff Pilson (both of Dokken fame). The band name changes are confusing yet the musicians are more or less the same geezers as always? It's 'Wild' Mick Brown behind the drums (also of Dokken fame) and Robert Manson (Lynch Mob, Warrant) behind the microphone. So why not simply release this under the old Lynch Mob monicker? The line-up may have fans making assumptions about the sound, things took a different turn. "The real truth of it is that George and I have this great songwriting partnership that's been going on for 35 years and we love to work together", says bassist and album producer Jeff Pilson.

In other words. They love to mess about and confuse their fanbase? If you're looking for the full-on eighties sound (the upbeat zebra-spandex-style) try and recall the monicker. It's End machine, not Time machine. They are asking us to take a "Leap Of Faith" on the opening track as Mason sings about exposing weakness and revealing scars. It's unfortunately one of the worst tracks here and the really strange choice as track one. Supposed to work the tables and become the great invitation to the rest of album. In reality... a real downer and no fun at all. The mid-90's sound. Things are looking up with "Hold Me Down", since it's a neat mix of the bluesy side of Lynch Mob sound and Dokken. Gee... what a surprise? Mason delivers a great vocal performance and it's all very UFO (the band) somehow?

"No Game", the rather typical mid-tempo Dokken track? Pay extra attention to the guitar work by Lynch. Not as flashy or over-the-top as in the eighties groove, but you don't always need all that bling-bling to impress. "Hey fool, can't you see. Thought you'd seen the last of me? I can't die, I'm too high. My hands scratch holes in the sky". Indeed. "Bulletproof" speak of not giving up, and the tougher it gets, the harder I fight. Ultra slow rock and perhaps just a bit too monotone. "Ride It" on the other hand, uptempo and hard hitting to the point of being punky/sleazy. "Burn The Truth", the stereotyped production sound of the mid/late nineties and the same goes with "Alive Today" and "Line of Division". The epic, Kingdom Come, Rainbow-thick ballad "Sleeping Voices" will be up there at the end of the year and Lynch does his very best impression of Blackmore (solo-wise). They close the album with the pop sounding melody of LILIM (Life Is Love Is Music) and extra points for attempting to educate the people rather than coming up with a dodgy phrase? When to expect the first tramp-stamp? You know... LILIM. It's catchy though. I like it.

Final verdict: damned if you do, damned it you don't? They can't win either way? Me thinks The End Machine are stuck somewhere in the middle of two rock genres and it's difficult to know which leg you're supposed to stand upon. It's neither bad nor great and thus why you'll end up right down the middle of the road.





Sweden's self proclaimed barons of rock & roll, Marvel are a bit mad. They used to depict themselves as superheroes, enjoy using aliases like The King, The Burher and The Vicar, and since forming in 2002 have released several well received EPs and albums. Me, I'd never heard of them until this morning when 'Guilty Pleasures' dropped underwhelmingly into my life. I say underwhelmingly because it's a covers album by a band I've never heard of. As you can see by the score, things improved.

Interestingly, the guilty pleasures that Marvel have covered are quite eclectic, with just a couple that I'd even heard of, like Dire Straits' 'Sultans Of Swing', Elvis' 'Burning Love' and REO Speedwagon's 'Keep Pushin'. The fact that the rest were unknown made it fun to track down the originals (Thanks, youtube) and see how things compare. There's Lee Dresser's 1969 rockabilly song 'El Camino Real', or the brilliant 1979 pop song "10 O'Clock Postman' by Fellow Swedes Secret Service. Carrying on the Sweish connection is the little known track 'Can't Shake Loose', originally by Agnetha Faltskog of aBBA fame. Although written by Russ Ballard it's quite a tedious song that Marvel manage to make into a pile of fun that puts the original to shame.

This is a common theme throughout, as Marvel play fast but not too fast, turning each track into a high energy fun fest that owes a lot to the 70s and a small amount to Kiss (the lead track "All For Glory" is, for me, better that Kiss' own version). The King has a great high(ish) register voice and can play a mean guitar to boot. For a three piece they really do make a glorious noise that is akin to a hyperactive toddler who's also a musical prodigy. Every track has it's merits, but I kept coming back to that ten O'clock postman and closing track 'Rock & Roll Hootchie Koo', a fine tribute to the Johnny Winters/Rick Derringer classic.

'Guilty Pleasures' takes an idea that can go either way and boots it securely into touch thanks to an inspired track list and a band determined to make each track their own without sacrificing what made the original (except 'Can't Shake Loose', natch) great in it's own right. This album is lots offun and will keep you coming back for more, and that's a win in my book.

Official Website

Tuesday, March 26, 2019


Rating: RRRr
Label: Brainstorm/Maximum 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Instrumental hard rock from Germany? Kraut Rockers? Are they finally getting the recognition they deserve after decades and decades of obscurity? Hold your horses and woolly Mammoths. Let's get that monkey right off the back as the power-trio of Ape Shifter releases their sophomore studio album entitled "II", but do NOT really play the Kraut-Rock of yesterday's-years. According to the press-release, they are appealing to both seventies groove-rock fans and the punk/metal scene, the band seem to have their music definition sort of correct-ly. Calling it a off the chart mix of chunky riffs, edgy fret work, fuzzed out arrangements and cinematic landscapes wouldn't be too far off the monkey cage (hold the banana though).

Jeff Aug is the US of A underground guitarist who lives in the foothills of the Alps in the southern Germany for the last 20+ years. He has toured with the likes of Alan Holdsworth, Soft Machine, Stu Hamm, Anne Clark, etc. The great rhythm section of bassist Florian Walter and drummer Kurty Munch, ever so important to the overall sound of the Apes.

It's got the technical approach of Tony MacAlpine and the loud, noisy, close to blunt, approach of Ted Nugent going on throughout the CD. "II" is an instrumental album which changes over a series of listens to ultimately become the trusty companion on your daily trip to the local butcher. You do not enter the building though. You merely love the smell of dead animals? Only kidding. I'm sure you barely eat (raw) meat anyhow. But seriously... its easy accessibility, fun and catchy songwriting, a testimony to the power of rock n roll. I do not easily warm to all-instrumental albums, however, this is the one exception to the rule so far in 2019. It kind of makes you wonder why they're not at Mascot/Provogue? Go Ape, Go! facebook.com/apeshifter

Monday, March 25, 2019

NINE SHRINES: "Retribution Therapy"

Rating: RRRR
Label: MascotLabelGroup 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

How many shrines? Nine? Let's pay attention to the band and their offering to the Metal Gods. Nine Shrines blend the extreme elements of active-rock/metal-core with well-crafted, melodic songwriting. This Cleveland (rocks!) quintet arose on the scene in 2014 from the ashes of aggressive Ohio bands like Attack Attack!, Life on Repeat, Downplay and Strangers to Wolves. All band members grew from their previous efforts to build something powerful and slightly disturbing with Nine Shrines. It's more or less melodic metal-core and they are armed with catchy melodies in the style of Bullet For My Valentine vs. the aggressive work of Static-X and Powerman 500.

"Nimrod" is an outstanding opening track though, motivated by revenge and the whole you-shall-not-break-me attitude of the band. The title track, the band's agenda, retribution and therapy, which include lightning fast riffing and dito double bass drumming. "Chain Reaction" is a really fun track. Slightly goofy, quirky, trippy keyboards in the background and Chris Parketny howling upfront. The former Strangers to Wolves vocalist is in fact no stranger to wolves (at all) and any song that howls like this is a winner in my book. "Happy Happy" paints (not to be confused with pants) the sad and lonley picture of the typical outcast and the failure of today's society. The curse of always being on the outside looking in. Darn catchy and fun metal.

Next up is "Dead", a killer metal anthem and I believe the trippy keys are about to break away from the rest of the band. As you get past the half mark of the album, there are some truly wicked tracks, such as the morbid sounding "Hymn/Conjure" which in my humble opinion is Depeche Mode's Violator gone metal. I seriously doubt that's what they had in mind as they wrote the song though. "Pretty Little Psycho", the proper headbanger. "Ghost" slows things down a bit and features the metal boy-band choir and powerful 'oh-woah-oh-woah's. Pretty catchy, I'd say.

Sure. It's hardly groundbreaking stuff and you've heard a lot of this before, but... it's aggressive and catchy, something which is easier said than done. You know, intensifying the power and speed without losing the simplicity of hooks. Tricky business. Nicely produced by Dan Korneff (My Chemical Romance, All That Remains, Papa Roach, etc).

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

FM: "The Italian Job"

Rating: Live
Label: Frontiers 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

"The Italian Job" - sheer class from the opening note to the last? Absolutely. Steve Overland is still the man and the voice really hasn't changed much since the eighties. The rest of the grey gentlemen: Jim Kirkpatrick (guitars), Merv Goldsworthy (bass), Jem Davis (keyboards), Pete Jupp (drums), are solid and provide great musicanship, if only a bit too safe and robotic. To be completely honest. They hardly move around at all on stage and they're not THAT old, you know. Mick Jagger to the rescue?

FM are a bit like the full English breakfast on a Monday morning, as you roll out of bed, they hit the stage with black pudding, bangers, bacon, baked beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, and egg everything in sight. You'll end up satisfied by all the soul food, but... do people really need all that fried stuff at 7 a'clock? Sure they did. Back in the days and around the year of 1886!! People worked hard in the coal mines, woods, or fields. Nowadays? 12 hours hardly at work infront of the PC screen, facebook every 10th minute? I don't think so, chubby. Try the continental.

Certainly, the FM set had been updated as the first rhythm of "Black Magic" seems to at least please parts of the audience. There's no holding back from the pack when Steve get his six-string out and they burst into "I Belong To The Night", one of those all-time best AOR tunes. The three grey gentlemen (Steve, Jim, Merv) stand briefly together in the traditional rock pose as they play "Let Love Be The Leader". They hammered on a piece of AOR something as if there were no tomorrow on "Killed By Love" and the front row do the sing-a-long during the new(ish) track (recorded live in Italy/Milan, April 2018). It's mostly the yeah-yeah's. However. The audience - definitely at full swing as they even pick up the old 'ole-ole-ole' chant and we're not talking about Man United.

"Love Lies Dying" merely second to the Strangeways tune and it's a friggin' great little semi-ballad. The four last numbers are all golden oldies and "Bad Luck" never sounded this good in the studio? Canned backup vocals? It's no doubt a good fun live CD/DVD package if you're the long time fan. Nothing extra, bonus, or interviews to be found. Still. I dare anyone to not smile/grin along to the music as they end the show with "Other Side Of Midnight". Simply ask Jem. He's clearly delighted and happy-all-over at finding himself upfront with the rest of the gang (sorry Pete!).

Saturday, March 16, 2019


Rating: RRR
Label: MelodicRevolutionRecords 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The long and winding road that eventually leads us to the Face of Life by Kinetic Element? Don't go thinking the Beatles though as this is old skool Symphonic, Progressive Rock. It's all very 'fantasy' sounding and role-playing nerds all over the world are going to wet themselves over the extra long compositions. "When you cross over the Rubicon that everyone must face. You'll turn around at the trumpet sound and see the whole human race". Lyrically, it's spiritual themes and observations on the state of the world and the human condition.

"We know the wind doesn't blow in vain. Seeking to cry out every person's name. And though the list has no end once it's begun. The song of finishing is often sung". Musicwise, it's early YES meet early PETRA (up to More Power To Ya') and the CD features four (4!) tracks of new music clocking in at 47 minutes. However. There's a special bonus track at the end of the disc, so I guess that's five tracks and 50 minutes to be completely honest. Expect layers of fantasy sounding keyboards and overall impressive ebony/ivory work by band-leader Mike Visaggio.

The production is old skool and bassist Mark Tupko thumps the strings in the style of Chris Squire (RIP). Vocally, Saint John Coleman is no match to Jon Anderson though. Nonetheless. One listen is all it takes to tell you where the band are coming from. It's Yes, Yes, Yes, and hardly a single 'No' throughout the album. Nothing on here is particularly original, nor is it modern sounding in its structure and sound. It simply oozes the seventies and there's not a single note post 1975 to be found. Keeping in mind that Petra never sounded 'up to date' or in touch with their times on the classic, original, line-up (perhaps with the exception of Beat The System). "Angel of change, Gibraltar's roots are shaking by your coming". Never boring, never truly intriguing. It's simply just pretty solid stuff... if you're into Yes-prog.


Rating: RRR
Label: Frontiers 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

"Cause when the hero dies and the truth becomes a lie. Black out the sun". The Dio connection? Vinny Appice, Jimmy Bain and Vivian Campbell were Ronnie Dio's co-conspirators and co-writers on the "Holy Diver", "Last In Line" (the album from which they took their name) and "Sacred Heart" albums. Not enterily sure why I should include this since "II" sound absolutley nothing like those classic albums. Unfortunately. Jimmy Bain passed away at the age of 68 on January 23, 2016 (RIP) and their debut album was released in February 2016. They brought in renowned bassist Phil Soussan (ex-Ozzy Osbourner etc.) and continue to release music that have as much in common with DIO as yours truly (I'm the Urban Legend).
In fact. Tracks such as "Black Out The Sun", "Give Up the Ghost", "Sword From The Stone", "Electrified", "The Light", sounds like Soundgarden-light and I definitely prefer the classy work of Bad Motor Finger, Super Unknown and Down On The Upside. Major Soundgarden fan. "Year of The Gun", sounds more like the Tygers Of Pan Tang leftover than Dio and that's never a good sign in my books. The meat and potato version of NWOBHM. Truth be told. I miss the extra crunch and not to mention extra memorable melodies. The whole album suffers from this and as a result, it lacks that certain something that turns a decent effort into a great album.

Final verdict: There's simply not enough of stuff here that really reaches out and grabs you by the throat. "Landslide" is however all great from start to finish. Great musicians, great production by Jeff Pilson (Dokken) - pretty average/decent song material.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

JOURNEY - Live In Japan 2017, Escape/Frontiers




Something of a dream gig for fans, Journey went off to the Budokan in 2017 to treat an audience to full playthroughs of possibly their most popular ane revered albums, namely 'Escape' and 'Frontiers'. Existing members Neal Schon, Russ Vallory, Jonathan Cain and Arnel Pineda are joined by original drummer Steve Smith, who has been off playing jazz and cultural music for some time now.

There's few surprises here, as the band plugh through the albums in the original running order, pausing only to sandwich in a rousing thirteen minute jam version of 'La Raza Del Sol', originally not on 'Frontiers' as there wasn't room (it was the B-side to 'Still they Ride'). Aside from this it's a pretty straight gig, with an instrumental intro to each album opening track. The band reall are on fine form, and although Arnel sounds a bit wobbly on opener 'Don't Stop Believin' he soon gets into his stride and does an admirable job that even Steve Perry devotees can't find much fault with. Steve Smith shows some nice drumming touches, bringing an evolved style into the mix that doesn't intrude but can subtly improve at times.

As with many live albums, there's not much to say except that this is a fine example of the genre. The package comes with a DVD (or Blu Ray) and 2 compact discs, one with each album on it. The whole concert is over 2 hours and quite simply is a must for any Journey fan.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

FIND ME: "Angels In Blue"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Frontiers 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Something suspicious about this duo. Swedish musician, songwriter, producer Daniel Flores (Issa, The Murder Of My Sweet etc.) and US of A singer Robbie LaBlanc from Blanc Faces have the appearance of some kind of dodgy seller at your local used car dealer, with a three-piece pic and matching backdrop. Even the artwork is a direct insult to the potential buyer as the woman is way too aggressive in her "buy a used car from these two or I'll scratch your window" attitude.

But seriously. Angels in Blue is the duo's latest offering to the ancient Gods of AOR and pure dut-dut keyboards. Musically, Find Me are paying major tribute to everything that is the eighties with capitol E. LaBlanc, one of those singers that could easily take an average song and turn it into something out of ordinary. As a AOR duo, they are friggin' excellent, but it would have been nice if they wrote their own material to at least some extent. It's mostly the same bunch of writers as the Toby Hitchcook album (Marcus Nygren, Mike Palace, Alessandrio Del Vecchio) and you know what to expect really. It's nice, it's catchy, it's uber slick rock inspired and influenced by the likes of Survivor, Jim Peterik, Signal, Drive, She Said, Strangeways, etc. etc.

Flores enjoy those big keys productions and opener "No Tears In Paradise" include some excellent ebony/ivory work by Sören Kronqvist. "Chain Of Love" is the work of the underrated Torben Enevoldsen and something like "Waiting For A Lifetime" is basically POP disquised as AOR (or vice versa?), but it's darn good and LaBlanc sings his heart out. "True Believer" is a bit too much 'Eurovision' for my personal taste though. Check out the triumphant return of pomp keys on "You Are The Only One" and simply hit replay over and over again. Ehem. In my humble opinon. It's always a mistake to include a classic song such as the Survivor cover of "Desperate Dreams" on your album. People enjoyed your new songs... and now they'll have to compare it to an all-time classic?? Big mistake. Music is forever connected to special memories and nostalgia. Two things you can never beat or compete against. The used car dealer/seller image is no doubt better than spandex and ozone killing hairdos. However. Cheer up next time and go all in on Miami Vice and blazers.  Recommended! facebook.com/findmebandofficial

SPIRITS OF FIRE: "Spirits of Fire"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Frontiers 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Wimps and Posers - leave this band/project alone! Vocals/ Tim "Ripper" Owens (ex-Judas Priest, Iced Earth), Guitars/ Chris Caffery (Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Bass/ Steve DiGiorgio (Testament, Death) and Drums/ Mark Zonder (ex-Fates Warning, Warlord) was put together under the direction of renowned L.A. based producer Roy Z (Bruce Dickinson, Halford, Tribe Of Gypsies). What to expect from the Spirits Of Fire (after the title of one of their songs) and the METAL work on their debut album?

According to the press-release, the music can best be described as classic Priest meets Savatage?? Sure. But only if you ignore the first 15 years of classic JP as this takes off in "Painkiller" and barely touch ground in the seventies or eighties era. To be completely honest. There's not whole lot of classic Savatage moments to be found on the first five tracks. It's quite brutal, aggressive, and hard hitting to the point of sounding like if Annihilator recorded Jugulator with a pack of wolverines down their pants. It's ripping guitars and howling vocals by the excellent sounding duo of Caffery and Owens. Not to mention pounding bass-lines and crashing drums. The psycho-delic attempt at keyboards mayhem may however not please all listeners. Trippy and truly annoying at times.

"Meet Your End" is exactly as over-the-top and Thrash(y) Testament Metal as you'd expect from the title. Ripper spits out the words and it's the soundtrack to your horror nightmare movie. Track 9, 10 and 11, "Never To Return", "The Path", "Alone In Darkness", the most Savatage sounding tracks of them all and they're stuck at the end of the disc. The latter may also remind you of Guns N Roses and one of Axl's sappy ballads. Have a go at this if you enjoy Testament, Annihilator and JP's Painkiller sound. All hail the little Ripper!!! facebook.com/SpiritsOfFireBand

WEST BOUND: "Volume 1"

Rating: RRR
Label: Frontiers 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

West Bound is a new project/band formed in the L.A. area by vocalist Chas West (ex-Bonham, Lynch Mob, Resurrection Kings, etc.) and guitarist /producer Roy Z (Bruce Dickinson, Halford, Tribe of Gypsies). With a line-up completed by Jimmy Burkard (guitar), Jason Cornwell (bass), Dave Moreno (drums) and Stephen LeBlanc (keyboards), the guys offer their take on the eighties hard rock sound with soulful vocals and old skool melodies?? Besides Spirits Of Fire, Roy Z also produced this and he probably fell asleep (hard at work) behind the board as opener "Never Surrender" almost sounds like the eighties demo?? It could be the mastering done by Andy Horn or Perugino's executive producer note (nah!). Then again. It's produced, engineered, mixed by Roy Z, and the volume drop is simply not acceptable in the year of 2019.

It's otherwise a great little tune in the style of Lion and their cult classic release "Trouble In Angel City" from the unholy year of 1989. It's got the swagger and attitude of the 80s act and Kal Swann must be darn proud of the lads. "Dance Of Life" speak of how some people live from day to day (some are lost trying to find their way). It's bits and pieces of Blue Murder and Lion. "Ain't Gonna Drown", the rather boring blues tune. "Beautiful Dream", the great power-ballad in the vein of Bonham and Kingdom Come. "Nothing" is basically nothing to write home about. "Roll The Bones", you might say and think Rush, but it's rather (Robert) Plant lost in his eighties solo period (zzz!). "On My Own", "Keeper of the Flame", mildly decent Bonham numbers. "Turn To You", the typical MTV piano-ballad of the early nineties and don't forget to hold your lighter to the sky. What? No lighters?  What's next? No music on MTV?? "No Room For Sympathy" takes you back to the Lion's den and Trouble In Angel City. Closing track, "Traveller", the return of Robert Plant and Kingdom Come (ouch, the Led Zep fans are going to hate that).

Final verdict: Overall decent/nice material. Will it stand the test of time or the label competition? It might just get lost amongst all the other releases at Frontiers.

TORA TORA: "Bastards of Beale"

Rating: R
Label: Frontiers 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

First Jetboy and now Tora Tora? Bottom and barrel, two words that comes to mind. Nevertheless. I actually enjoyed The Jetski's and handed out the decent 3 rating as they were clearly born to fly. This on the other hand. Well... there's no Surprise! Attack! and it might just crash. Tora Tora is an American hard rock band formed in Memphis, Tennessee during the 80s. The origin of the band name is a reference to the song of the same name, released by Van Halen on their 1980 album, "Women And Children First". End review? Nah. Hold on to your cats and woolly jumpers as we're getting ready to fight off the ugly old Bastards Of Beale.

First impression. Goodie. They make Jetboy sound like the Beatles. Second impression. Material-wise, it's awful dusty and darn bluesy here. Third impression. There's no such thing as third impression. I believe you'd file this under poor white man's blues and ditto trash music? Proper Whiskey stained vocals by Anthony Corder as he manage to hit the correct note every third track or so. It's definitely looking grim so far and we haven't even mentioned the production yet. The poor drummer sounds like if he's playing on all sorts of cans, tins, and various bottles.

All you ever do is complain and trying to be cool, but end up sounding like an annoying smart-ass? Fair enough. "Son of a Prodigal Son", the nice slow-blues. I enjoy the wicked groove of "Silence The Sirens", it's the best song on offer and actually really, really, good. It's one brief moment of clarity before they get back to beating the crap out of the blues, their instruments, cats, and strange folks in woolly jumpers. Final verdict: Your daft uncle's garage band finally managed to get themselves a record deal. 'All hail Rock N Roll. Long live the Bastards of Beale'. Back to the drawing board.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

ROBIN TROWER: "Coming Closer To The Day"

Rating: RRR
Label: Provogue/Mascot 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Robin Trower, the iconic guitarist who rose to fame in the 60's with the legendary Procol Harum, according to old-fart journos, recorded his best solo albums in the mid-seventies which also happens to be the age of the man as of today. Thus why the title of the new album and the darn right personal lyrics and take on the fact that we are all "Coming Closer To The Day". Bugger off to trends, new genres and styles. This geezer is not going to play nice and invite the latest new thing to co-write or sing on the album. "I think that I'm drawing much more from my roots now," he considers, "rather than shying away from them. I'm not worried about what the music is – or what people might think of it. I'm just doing this out of the sheer joy of doing it. My passion for guitar now is stronger than ever. It's still a great thrill, just to play…

Kicking off the album with "Diving Bell", a track that simply oozes of proper roadhouse blues and fuzzy guitar work might just please any fan of the man. It's got the distortion going on at eleven and acts like ZZ Top are also using this to disquise their white background and upbringing. "Truth or Lies" continues to stroll down the same avenue of mid-tempo blues and as you reach main street U.K. aka the title track, you'll notice the overall theme of the album. It's all pretty much steeped in a similar mode, structure, and formula.

Is it stuck in second gear uphill and almost out of gas? Nah. Never quite as bad, but, do not expect to find many or hardly any uptempo moments. "Tide of Confusion" is however slightly more aggressive and blunt. "The Perfect Wrong" goes through a couple of wicked segements where you might pick up on the wah-wah and straight-to-the-point solo as the highlight of the day. On the one hand I absolutley love listening to the warm tone and excellent guitar work. On the other I feel restless and start thinking, 'I don't have time for this mid-paced blues album'.

That's probably the biggest problem with "Coming Closer To The Day". How the earth are we going to find the time for something like this in 2019? We are all Closer To The Day by the minute. In the end. I decided it's better to at least spend some quality time with Trower and his latest effort. It sure beats watching any of many cooking shows and program on tele (zzz!). Final verdict: Solid stuff -only a bit too mid-paced.


Rating: RR
Label: AORHeaven 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Pulse? Barely ticking, I'd say. It's the release of the third album by British rockers Blood Red Saints which debut was released at Frontiers records (the premier league of melodic hard rock labels) before losing too many games and ended up playing in the championship (AOR Heaven). There's no shame in playing at the 2nd league as long as you're keeping your dream alive. Vocalist Pete Godfrey is no doubt a major Def Leppard fan. He jumps, he cries, he screams battle cries, before breaking into the rather fun rock of "I'm Your Devil". Perhaps the least Def Lep sounding track of them all?

There's no compromises, no excuses, simply the best 11 songs we could write and we are proud of the results. The band proudly announced as the lads are trying to push the boundaries of melodic rock. It's basically "X" meets "Slang" only not as impressive and with a rather dodgy production. The latter is obviously not that strange considering budget and studio sessions. The lads are likely to play cheerful, sweet, and gentle melodies, and they do step up to the plate to hit a homerun... every once in a while. For instance. "Cross To Bear" is a wicked little tune with just the right amount of hook, line and sinker.

Unfortunately. There's too many moments which simply passes the listener by as they break into one dimensional rock 'ala cliche-ville. There's not a huge lot to rave about here and it leaves you with a final verdict of: Meh.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

RPWL: "Tales From Outer Space"

Rating: RRRR+
Label: GentleArtofMusic 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Progressive Rock and quirky concept albums, it's the bread and butter of a genre that gave us endless hours of joy and head scratching moments. It's no difference from the air that you breathe, it's pretty much essential stuff and the only reason that you're still out there in space. Well. We're at earth, but we're part of the universe and thus space and there's a void that you simply need to fill with marvelous moments such as this monster of an album.

The Germans of RPWL has no doubt created something out of the ordinary with Tales From Outer Space. Perhaps not the concept album in the true sense, but there are seven short stories about science fiction. If you've never heard of the band (shame on you), RPWL started out as the Pink Floyd cover act in the mid-nineties and has since recorded some truly great and spacey prog-rock albums. There's plenty of space (geddit?) between all the arrangements and instruments, allowing all members to shine. Everything is so crystal clear that I couldn't help but think of the way Floyd and David Gilmour sounded in their heyday.

Don't get me wrong. It's not just another copy-cat album and act. They have certainly managed to craft their own path to success, but of course, there is always an underlying comparison to you-know-whom. It's thought-provoking stuff from the word go and opener "A New World" set the (s)pace and standard of the entire album with its message of 'aliens are not impressed by the evil caused by humans on earth'. Thus why they decided to bugger off and leave this mess for us to (not) resolve. It's the whole humans are evil/aliens are kind theme, let's hope it's true since we'd like to hear more music from the Bavarian prog-rockers.

More than anything, Tales From Outer Space is all about class and it's difficult to pick highlights and moments. It's basically all good and something like 'Welcome To The Freak Show' take the Floyd-prog and mix it up with Ultravox and their classy work of the eighties. The ten minute long anthem of 'Light Of The World' goes through all the different faces of Art and Prog-Rock and will leave you wanting for more as time passes by in a blink of the eye (ear?). It's sheer class from opener to closer 'Far Away From Home' and the choice of spacey arrangements and soft voice of Yogi Long (not to be confused with Yogi Bear) favours the songs, and that is clearly stated on tracks throughout the album. Add to this tons of spacey keyboards, wicked rhythm section, and lyrical guitar playing by Kalle Wallner, and you're all set for the Prog-Rock experience of the year. Essential stuff if you're into spacey Prog-Rock in the vein of you-know-who. Highly recommended!!!


Monday, February 25, 2019

REESE WYNANS: "Sweet Release"

Rating: RRr
Label: Provogue/Mascot 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Ryan Wynans, one of those musicians that you might have heard on record, but not actually heard of?? The keys man can be found on tons of albums, tickling the ebony and ivory for the likes of The Allman Brothers Band, Boz Scaggs, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Bonamassa, Larry Carlton, Los Lonely Boys, etc. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member and world-renowned Nashville-based keyboardist, Wynans first-ever solo album "Sweet Release", the long-awaited release after a career spanning fifty years (50!) and plenty of trips on the West Coast and in and out of Florida.

Recorded under Joe Bonamassa's inaugural credit as a producer. Bonamassa has long been a fan of Wynans' work, urging him to create a solo album. It's no doubt stellar musicianship, and the old material given new take and featuring star guests including Keb' Mo', Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Warren Haynes, Vince Gill, Sam Moore, Doyle Bramhall II, and Bonamassa himself, etc.

Hardly anything new though and behind the title track awaits the 70's Boz Scaggs tune or as Wynans puts it and I quote, "I thought it was a great song back then and through the years, I've been waiting for people to cover Sweet Release. But no one ever did, so I suggested it for this album." end quote. Ehem. If no one ever recorded a cover of the song for the past +40 years, perhaps it's just not that great of a song in the first place? A bit too dry and dusty in the year of 2019? It doesn't exactly scream 'world class composition', however, top notch musicianship and it's overall nostalgia saves the day and moment. Several Stevie Ray Vaughan numbers where "Crossfire" is a fitting tribute to the man who Wynans recorded with as the Double Trouble sessions. Close to the original, but no cigar, since we're missing to most important ingredient of all (that's Stevie in case you got lost along the Ray, ehh, way). Final verdict: It's difficult to get excited about the Wynanas' debut and if anything, it made me want to listen to some Vaughan albums for the first time in ages.

MARILLION: "Happiness is Cologne" "Popular Music"

Rating: Live
Label: ear-music/Racket 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

"Happiness Is Cologne" and "Popular Music" are both available for the first time in retail stores and the numbered editions are limited to 5000 copies worldwide. Popular was recorded during the Marillion weekend, 15 March 2003 in Butlins, Minehead, U.K. while Happiness was recorded in Germany, 26 November 2008. It's no less than five years in between the events and the Silmarillions' may have a cold Nu-Prog reputation in some cornors of the world, but there's no getting away from the fact that they're still very much a progressive band only not quite as old school. Especially the "Cologne" work is desperately trying to tear down the defensive walls of the stubborn pure-prog-rocker as there's no shortage of real substance in the atomspheric arrangements.

The wide selection of songs spanning an close to 36 year back catalogue always causes arguments and heated discussion, the choices is not going to please everyone and merely "Popular" display the old Fish tunes such as "Sugar Mice", "Warm Wet Circles" and "Script For A Jester's Tear". Not that strange considering that it's not of a full album, but instead featuring songs voted for by fans at the Marillion weekend. They switch effortlessly from one style to the other and the double discs are tidy time capsules of the band and their excellent work on stage.

They are constantly changing the mood with a combination of musical panoramas and odd numbers such as "The Man From The Planet Marzipan". It's the real deal and the sound may surprise the listener as it's the quite honest display of the band. With more than 15 million records sold throughout their career they have become one of the most skillful representatives of the genre ever since Genesis decided to hang-up their proggy shoes.

Yngwie MALMSTEEN: "Blue Lightning"

Rating: RRR
Label: Mascot Records
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Yngwie is a guitar legend, no doubt about it. His early albums were groundbreaking when it comes to "shredding" and when he started to move to a more song-oriented style, he released my three favourite albums of his, "Trilogy", "Odyssey" and "Eclipse". He did release some good albums after those too, but eventually I lost interest in his music.

With "Blue Lightning" Yngwie is trying something new, at least for himself. It's a compilation of blues and classic rock covers, with four new Yngwie originals in similar style. Just like on his recent albums, he's also singing lead on this.

I find this album somewhat more interesting than his previous few efforts, because his own songs have been quite forgettable lately. On "Blue Lightning" he at least covers some well-known, memorable songs. Curiously enough, one of my favourite songs here is actually a new Yngwie original, the title track.

As a singer Yngwie is adequate, not a "singer's singer" but he stays within his boundaries and does an OK job. His voice actually reminds me that of John Norum. Quite a few of Yngwie fans are more interested in his guitar playing though, and rest assured, there's plenty of that here. While most blues players believe in the "less is more" school of thinking, Yngwie is Yngwie and there's no shortage of shredding. The "Yngwi-sation" works on some songs, but mostly it's overwhelming. The ZZ Top song "Blue Jean Blues" is probably the best (or worst) example of that - the guitars just strangle the life out of this song. On the other hand, I really like Yngwie's version of "Paint It Black", although it could be even better with a stronger singer. The "Smoke On The Water" cover is a short version, only 3:19 mins and for the second half of it Yngwie concentrates on shredding, which is... well, something one could expect.

Malmsteen has gotten a lot of negative feedback for the production of his recent albums, but I think "Blue Lightning" sounds pretty good. With that in mind, and the fact that the Ygwie-penned title track was one of the best songs here, I guess there's still hope that Yngwie can come up with a good album of original material someday.


Saturday, February 16, 2019

STARBREAKER: "Dysphoria"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Frontiers 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

From the opening few seconds of "Pure Evil" and along to the lines of "Breaking apart, killing your soul, the devil is driving, you've been out of control", you can tell that Starbreaker are out to shock the listeners. It's got that heavier than thou approach and I fully expected this to be all Metal in the vein of Judas Priest and Annihilator. Soaring vocals by Tony Harnell (TNT) and the metal riff by Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear) drop to reveal a driving bass (Jonni Lightfoot) and pounding kick (Anders Köllfors) before we hit the accelerator to top things off with a shout-along refrain. It's however a false start and the following tracks are certainly not as heavy nor blunt as the impressive opener.

It's sort of disappointing to find out that you'll have to wait another five tracks for the next heavy metal anthem. The title track with its depertate cry of "Now all our dreams have died with every tear we cried from pain we couldn't hide. In Dysphoria we tried". The lyrical theme of the album, I would say it's sad, but infinitely hopeful. In between you have a couple of superb melodic metal goodies such as "Wild Butterflies" with its already classic opening line of "I was born in the backseat of a car". It's a smashing semi-ballad with all the right harmonies and outstanding vocal performances by Tony "The Eagle" Harnell and the lads. Why The Eagle, you ask? Because the man likes to soar (vocal-wise). Not to be confused with Eddie The Eagle. That crazy bird crashed every single time.

"Last December" mid-tempo track in the style of TNT 'ala Realized Fantasies and I'm especially fond of its driving mood and bass for that matter. "How Many More Goodbyes" another mid-tempo track and the refrain keep things interesting. The shocking poor piano ballad of "Beautiful One" goes straight to the bin though. Clearly over the top, cheesy to the extreme, I tend to skip it everytime. James Blunt to the rescue? It's basically the worst ballad that Extreme and Queen never wrote. Another three deccent mid-tempo tracks before we're about to wrap things up with the Judas Priest cover of thier monicker (Starbreaker). Excellent production and top-notch, high-pitched vocals by The Eagle. The first half of the album is stronger than the second and merely nine new songs and one cover?

INGLORIOUS: "Ride To Nowhere"

Rating: RRR
Label: Frontiers 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The Inglorious Bastards... ehh... Quentin Tarantino? Inglorious are constantly bickering and fighting amongst themselves and vocalist Nathan James had a classic meltdown before Christmas. Oh, internet, you've done it again. When not throwing shite and squirrels at former members, each other, and the world, their third studio recording, "Ride To Nowhere", display a darker, more reflective album than their previous releases. Dark as the night or merely moody introvert?

One things for sure. You need to spin this on repeat and then let it all sink in for a while. It's definitely more of an album effort than trying to come up with radio hits and singles. "For me this album is very personal. I am for the first time writing about a lot of my feelings, relationships and losses", says Nathan James. "On this album I feel that the songs are a true reflection of what we've been through over the past few years - both as a band and as individuals" end quote. They've been through a lot according to the rant and merely James and Phil Beaver (drums) remain in the band last time I checked. The drummer is about to explode? -Spinal Tap style.

The albums eleven tracks offer some wicked variety, "Where Are You Now" is a upbeat number that its virtually impossible not to tap along to whilst something like "I Don't Know You" is a laid back, sinful soulful tune which would be a perfect soundtrack for the movie about the mentioned rant, more about mood and soaring vocals than some of the other tracks heard so far. "Tomorrow", borrow quite a lot from Coverdale and Whitesnake whilst "Time To Go" is very much Electric Boys. It's otherwise a very British sounding platter which inlude everything from black pudding, fish and chips, deep fried mars-bars, to Thunder, Whitesnake, Bad Company and Free. The album was mixed by the legendary Kevin Shirley (Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith) and it's sonically pretty great indeed. Final verdict: You need to go old skool on this sucker and simply play it on repeat. It's getting better and better with each spin. Up to a certain point of course.


Rating: RRR
Label: Frontiers 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Vertigo? Psycho? Birds? Or merely just a handful of beaks and feathers? What ever movie you fancy, this particular Hitchcock does not belong in the category of groundbreaking horror. In fact. He's about as scary and/or sinister as Winnie The Pooh in search of more honey. The dark front cover (James Hetfield from Metallica?) and title of "Reckoning" surely must be the most misplaced ART-work ever since Paul Simon decided to ditch that ginger bozo. Nevertheless. Since the Pride of Lions are no longer waving the flag of classic schlock and AOR, Toby's return to dut-dut keys will certainly keep things pink and fluffy.

Toby didn't type any of the lyrics/music though and it's all done by Marcus Nygren (4 tracks), Steve Newman (3), Mike Palace (2), Alessandrio Del Vecchio (1) and Del Vecchio/Nigel Bailey/Pete Alpenborg (1). They've managed to write songs in a similar template and formula to acts such as Survivor/Jim Peterik/Pride Of Lions, Aviator, The VU, Jim Jidhed. Make no mistake. There are some unabashedly Jim Peterik-esque moments here and as if to admit as such, Reckoning offers a cheeky nod to Survivor on the opener "No Surrender", with its "where-do-we-go-from-here" call from/to the eighties. "Queen Untouchable" is every thing you ever wanted if you're the fan of AOR Drama.

Most of the tracks in this release seem to have pure old skool AOR as their official agenda and statement. Playing things on an more ambitious note than many other acts and artists, the pompous keyboards will certainly prompt some serious panty waving when played live infort of the ladies. To be perfectly frank. It's one of those albums which you could neither love nor hate. The soaring vocals, the close to perfect AOR production, it's a testament of how to mix heartfelt melodies and messages whilst avoiding overuse of modern thoughts and genres. It's just a feel good album, perhaps with a couple too many moments of deja vu? How to summarize in a few words? Try and look past the awful artwork and title as everything about this album breathes and lives like 1985. That's a more appropriate title right there: 1985.

KANE ROBERTS: The New Normal"

Rating: RR
Label: Frontiers 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

When you run into Kane Roberts and his 'The New Normal' in the unholy year of 2019, you're entitled to suspect it's no ordinary body of work. Steriods are plenty and the Child(ish) material of Saints & Sinners has been replaced with rather typical and sadly now a bit dated rock/soft-Metal of the last decade and 2009. Mister Master Roberts first came to fame as the very butch Alice Cooper guitarist of the eighties. Guest musicians on this platter include the old Coop' line-up and former bandmates: Kip Winger, Paul Taylor and Ken Mary. Not to mention that Alice sings on the creepy sounding "Beginning of the End" and you're basically all set for the return of Raise Your Fist and Yell!?

Unfortunately. There's not a whole lot of traditional melodic hardrock to be found on this electro produced album. Industrial light? Don't get me wrong. This is far from the shabby outing and effort. There's plenty of razor sharp hooks, dangerous riffs and flashy guitar work. It's just stuck inbetween two worlds and they say time waits for no one (unless it's Tom - geddit?). But once behind the mike and his guitar, there's no mistaking the man who, three decades ago, was spoken of as the Rock'N Roll Rambo.

It's a great opening to the record as an unmistakably classy slice of melodic metal comes your way in "King Of The World". It's ever so dark and cyber friendly in its structure and formula. Is that a smile, nah, didn't think so. But darn it, it's catchy as feck. I only wish this would be the overall standard and new normal. "Life is Wonderful. We're ugly beautiful". However. If you're going forward with your music and not looking back (as stated by Roberts in the info sheet) then why co-write songs together with Brent Smith (Shinedown) and Lzzy Hale (Halestorm). They are both yesterdays news and the kids has since long moved on to new and better(?) acts. Haledown and Shinestorm? It's The New Normal... ten years too late?

JETBOY: "Born To Fly"

Rating: RRR
Label: Frontiers 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Jetboy? The latest Marvel Super Hero movie? His mother always told him to not run at the airport, but the boy was clearly Born To Fly? Nah. Erase the dodgy introduction. Surely you recognize the name of the band that one graced us with "Feel The Sake" and various sleazy song and dance numbers such as... ehh... well. To be completely honest. I sold the CD on eBay many many moons ago and I can't recall a whole lot of titles. Simply google if interested in more background history. I prefered the Faster Pussycats' anyhow and I notice that Eric Stacy handles the four-string-thing at Jetboy.

Good to see that three of the Feel The Shake members are still together and that's including the hoarse vocalist aka Mickey Finn. One things for sure though. US of A gave us plenty of these kind of acts in the late eighties and it's no worse nor better than most of them. It's however never a good idea to kick things off with your worst song on the album. "Beating The Odds" about as fun as watching wet paint dry and as I reached for the gun, I kept thinking WWJD? Bored at hanging at the cross I decided to give this another go and I'm actually glad I did.

No longer filed under "where are the now", The Jetboys are as dirty, filthy, sleazy, and mean as ever. Call it sleaze, call it rock n roll, call it biker-rock in the vein of The Quireboys, Little Ceasar, Dirty Looks, etc. It really doesn't matter as it grooves nicely along to the sound of destruction. The ballads and especially "The Way That You Move Me" walks to the same beat as The Faces (ROD!) and The Stones doing the tearjerker, and obviously The Quireboys as of lately. "Brokenhearted Daydream" - The Clash goes hair metal and I seriously dig the sheer attitude of the track. Throw in bits and pieces of Hanoi Rocks and you're even closer to the core. Mickey FINN (geddit?) does a mean harmonica on various tracks and It's all very Matti Nykänen (RIP). WTF? First Eddie The Eagle (see Starbreaker) and now Matti? What about Janne Boklöv? Final Verdict: Not too shabby.

WALTER TROUT: "Survivor Blues"

Rating: Covers
Label: Provogue/Mascot 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The Trout's gone fishing for new material and ended up covering some of the coolest blues songs on this side of the century? That's what I thought at first as I played the marvelous opener of "Me My Guitar and the Blues". It's one of those all-time best slow blues anthems that you need to hear before you die. But you know what. I'm not even going to prented to know all about these songs and their original performers. I guess I could google and nicely name-drop as I go along, but what's the point?

I do not know every thing about the ancient blues. I do however know that "Be Careful How You Vote" is the living truth no matter time or era. Especially considering the bozo at the white house or the turkey in turkey, just to mention two of all the SMF's in this twisted sister world. Why try and emulate the sheer brilliance of the dino blues? Well. According to Trout, he was fed up listening to the same old covers on the same old radio stations and I quote, "Does the world need another version of that song?’ So I came up with an idea. I didn't want to do Stormy Monday or Messin With The Kid. I didn't want to do the blues greatest hits. I wanted to do old, obscure songs that have hardly been covered. And that's how Survivor Blues started", end quote.

Ehem. Yeah. It's obscure stuff and some of the tracks should have stayed hidden to the world in my humble opinion. The biggest problem with having "Me My Guitar and the Blues" as the opening track? Everything else now feels like second best and left over material. That's a bit harsh, but it's simply impossible to look past the song. It's every thing Gary Moore (RIP) ever wanted to be and record and Jimmy Dawkins did perfectly. Walter's warm tone and voice is however the next best thing and his solo will have Moore fans crying of joy. Final verdict: Nice. Cozy. A tad boring?

QUIET RIOT: "One Night in Milan"

Rating: Live
Label: Frontiers 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Cum on feel the noize? Confession time again. I knew absolutly nothing about Slade (perhaps with the exception of Run Run Away?) when I first heard about the crazy gang of Quiet Riot. They were no doubt the eighties U.S. of A version of Slade as they recorded the best selling effort of Metal Health. Whatever. The kids of the eighties couldn't care less about any old fart act of the 60s/70s (which they supposedly copied?). No kid should ever bother finding out who copied who(m) anyhow since there's no such thing as "new" music anymore. It's all been done before and musicians are merely repeating the past. And we are all doomed according to this live CD/DVD.

It's hard to get mega excited about a band when/where the two main figures are dead and gone (Kevin Dubrow, Randy Rhoads). The rhythm section of Frankie Benali (drums) and Chuck Wright (bass) are still trying to keep the flame alive and I guess it works if you're at the venue and shouting along to the likes of Slick Black Cadillac or The Wild and the Young. It's no difference from your local act doing Slade and Quiet Riot covers. However. Infront of your TV/PC and while watching the DVD, it's just not happening and guitarist Alex Grossi is mostly looking down on his shoes. Not to mention that "new" vocalist James Turbin is truly annoying, with his over-the-top, stage persona. His crowd interaction: way too eager to please. His vocals are pretty darn good, it's a shame about the whole American version of Bruce-Bruce of Samson and Iron Maiden fame and the endless attempts at 'scream for me Milano'. Citizens of the world. Let's help out America with "The Wall" and extend it around all the states and not just Mexico and never let Quiet Riot out of there ever again. That's why they're building the wall, right? To never ever let any one out of America???

TORQUE: "Torque"

Rating: Re-release
Label: Provogue/Mascot 2018
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Do you recall Vio-lence? The San Francisco Bay Area thrashers decided to hang up their boots in 1994 and the remaining members formed the riff heavy, groove infused thrashers Torque. Fronting the band was guitarist Phil Demmel (Machine Head), who also took on lead vocals for the first time, along with guitarist Ray Vegas, bassist Deen Dell and with drummer Mark Hernandez. Torque released three demos between 1994 and 1997. The self-titled album released on Mascot Records in 1996 stands alone as the sole studio release from the band.

It's now been re-released with four previously unreleased bonus tracks from their 1997 demo. What ever the reason, Torque split up a long time ago and I haven't the faintest idea why they decided to re-release this at this particular time and year? Some people are going to say they should stop making such a horrible reacket. However. I must say that I prefer this style of Thrash and Hardcore-lite over some of the later era albums by Pantera. This has got cheeky Vio-lence met Prong (gang vocals all over the place) break downs and merely the hint of Pantera and Machine Head of course.

Torque takes no prisoners from its off, kicking straight in to the opener "H.L.S." which is a pounding number which I can only assume Phil Demmel is kicking himself for listening to while thinking about acts such as Prong and Suicidal Tendencies. The volume goes down a bit as you play the four bonus tracks, but nothing too disturbing or out of control. They don't add much to the overall sound picture, but they are frankly too much later era Pantera for my personal taste. I prefer the early/mid 90's sound. Disturbing is the word regarding the art cover though. Sick!

Thursday, February 14, 2019





I've been a bit of a slow learner when it comes to Cats In Space. Sure, I heard a couple of singles and liked them, but didn't search out the albums until a couple of months ago in preparation for seeing them at a festival. Well, I'm glad I did, as Cats In Space really are my sort of band. A delightful mix of Queen, E.L.O, Supertramp and Styx (at least), they fuse pop, rock, pomp and a barrel load of fun to great effect with the added bonus of gorgeous harmony vocals. the difficult second album hurdle was easily cleared with 'Scarecrow', but will 'Day Trip To Narnia' continue the winning streak? You bet your nine lives it will!

Album number three is split into two parts, what us old buggers used to call 'Side One' and 'Side Two' until these new fangled CD's and downloads came along and shat on our memories. As is the trend these days you can get a vinyl copy, but I've just had the CD version myself. The first part of the album is mainly dominated by songs about the music business, quite appropriate as between them the members of the band have apporximately 900 years of experience in the 'Biz'. The title track is set to a marching beat and compares being in a band and doigg your shit to visiting a fantasy land, whilst the exceptionally catchy 'Hologram Man' is suitably scathing about the money grabbing people who bring back dead singers as holgrams for a tour or two. 'Tragic Alter Ego' is about being stuck in a tribute band, endlessly churning out the same hits by a band you used to admire but are now sick to the back teeth of,  and 'Silver & Gold' remenisces about the good old days of the 70s, when we were oh so glam, darlings. It's all very Queen in many ways, with a 'Killer Queen' guitar sound here, or the 'Yeahhhhh' from a''A Kind Of Magic' there, and even a chorus that goes 'You're a tragic alter ego- play the game'. Never a rip off, always a homage, these tracks all work beautifully.

Seperating the music biz themed tracks are a mixture of songs that may divide the audience a bit. 'She Talks Too Much' is a two minute whirlwind that is rushed out so quickly it's almost as if the band is a little embarrassed by what is a fun throwaway track about a woman who won't shut up but is really hot so, you know... 'She's been on the phone for seven hours, but you should see her when she gets out of the shower'. Make of that what you will. 'Chasing Diamonds' is sparse, haunting track that allows vocalist Paul Manzi to demonstrate that he's actually pretty damned good even without being surrounded by harmonies and crashing guitars, whilst 'Unicorn' is a good, melodic track that will have you singing along and nodding appreciateively at the big chords involved.

Side two, as it were, is given over to 'The Story Of Johnny Rocket', a six part story (plus a short intro piece) about a young man who wants to be an astronaut. He falls in love (at a disco) and promises to get married after he returns from the moon, but will he return? I first listened to this without reading the back story, and boy it was hard to work out what that story was, so I did the homework (which only took five minutes, really), and the lyrics of the tracks took on a new resonance. It starts off boisterously with 'Johnny Rocket' and the shamelessly disco track 'Thunder In The Night', but after this it all slows down a bit as the story unfolds, and whilst I like every track it would have been nice to finish with another big rocker. It's a sad story, really, but still has a happy ending.

'Day Trip To Narnia' is another excellent album from Cats In Space, with the first half throwing in all sorts of influences and some first class lyrics and the second half telling what is a really sweet story in a very poignant way. The band are tight as ever, with a great mix begging for a decent system or headphones to get the best effect. It's on par with the first two albums without copying what's gone before, and it's wonderful to hear a band that are willing to be creative and take a few risks to bring catchy, intelligent songs with a lot of heart. No wonder everybody wants to be a cat - cause being a cat is definitely where it's at.

Catch them on tour in the UK in MARCH

Official Website

Wednesday, February 6, 2019





Rock Goddess are a name that will be familiar to anyone who grew up with UK heavy metal in the 1980s, even if you can't hum any of their songs. Me, then. They were a band I was always aware of but never listened to over their 5 or so years of being in the spotlight. Formed by the Turner sisters Jody (vocals/guitars) and Julie (Drums), "This Time" is their first full length release in over 30 years, aided by Jenny Lane on bass, replacing original Tracey Lamb who has had to step down.

A cool cover gives the release some class before you listen, and those who expect some tired old NWOBHM music will be in for a shock, as although Rock Goddess are unashamedly retro in their style they are certainly not without charm. Lead single "Are You Ready" kicks off the album, and it's a decent, upbeat track that shows you that Jody Turner can still belt out quality vocals. The music is decidedly old school but it's played very well by the trio and a decent, bass-heavy production really makes a difference. To be honest, there's not a great deal of variety throughout, save for the closing rock ballad "Drive Me Away", which is pretty good an contains a killer solo from Jody that should have been twice as long. Along the way we have some catchy, heavy songs that work very well, like "Call Into Space" and the galloping "Why Do We Never Learn". Yes, it's all quite similar, but it's also good fun and certainly gets the head nodding and the foot tapping.

"This Time" isn't going to win any awards, but Rock Goddess should be applauded for coming back into the metal arena armed with a product that will fill existing fans with joy. I wasn't expecting to like this much, but the more I listen the more I appreciate what they are doing. The album is out at the beginning or March, so if you're a fan make sure you pick it up and catch them on the Cats In Space tour in the same month -  I think I will...

Official Facebook Page

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

NEAL MORSE BAND: "The Great Adventure"

Label: Radiant Records
Rating: RRR
Review by Martien Koolen

The Similitude Of A Dream was the previous Neal Morse Band album, released in 2016, and it was a typical Morse album; meaning: great musicianship, very familiar melodies and unfortunately those spiritual (religious) lyrics.

Now, almost three years later The Great Adventure sees the light of day, a double CD filled with 22 tracks. TGA is a concept album, again, dealing with the "adventures" of the pilgrim's abandoned son; so lyrically you know what you can expect; again not my cup of tea!! Musically speaking this album is a must for prog rock fans as the entire album is a splendid blend of rock, prog, metal, jazz and classical music; and I do not need to tell you that these guys can play!! However, I hear too familiar melodies, keyboard riffs and choruses, take e.g. To The River, Welcome To The World, Dark Melody or Long Ago and for me, original musical highlights are rare on this album.

I really like/love the two instrumental songs Overture and Overture 2, which show the true craftsmanship of this band, orchestral prog rock at its best. Furthermore I enjoy I Got To Run, The Great Dispair, Freedom Calling and A Love That Never Dies, featuring amazing guitar solos by Eric Gillette. Unfortunately I really cannot listen to songs like Child Of Wonder, Hey Ho Let's Go, Beyond The Borders, The Dream Continues or the completely weird pop song Vanity Fair.

Conclusion: TGA is another typical Neal Morse album with lots of ups and down, irritating lyrics and only for the die-hard Neal Morse fans; sad but true.

Friday, January 25, 2019


Rating: RRRRr
Label: AOR Heaven
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Wake The Nations initially started out as a solo vehicle for guitarist/songwriter Risto Tuominen. The first album, "Sign Of Heart" (2015) was more of a project than an actual band album, with several lead vocalists. However, it didn't take too long for the band to find its' current line-up. Krister Stenblom, one of the singers on the first album, took over the lead vocal duties and the band started gigging. At a festival in Turku they played before Sunrise Avenue, and made a lot of new friends there. A group of german fans fell for their melodies big time, eventually helping the band to do a tour in Germany. What's more, now the band's signed to the German AOR Heaven label.

The first album showed promise, and on "Heartrock" the band really deliver. With world-class production by Ilkka Wirtanen (Reckless Love, The Nights, Robin) and final touches by Erik Mårtensson (Eclipse, W.E.T.), fine performances by the band and top-notch songs, this album should make a considerable splash in the AOR genre.

Most of the songs are high-energy melodic hard rock songs with big hooks. The overall sound could be described as modernized scandi-AOR with a bit of an edge. Lots of lush keyboards but also crunching guitars and big drums.

My favourite songs include the strong opener "No Mercy" which reminds me of cult AORsters Valentine, the light and breezy "New Day", the intense "Higher" and the two songs provided by Sören Kronqvist, "Midnight Lovers" and "Something In Your Eyes". Although from an outside songwriter, they fit in seamlessly. I also want to mention the closing track "This Is Over", which sounds like a nod to the fans they share with Sunrise Avenue - it has that kind of a contemporary stadium-ballad vibe.  

It's nice to start this year's reviews with a strong album, that sets the bar high for the other releases of 2019!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019





If you've not heard of Ross Byron it's no surprise, as he's a massachusetts singer songwriter who has used the online platform ReverbNation to launch this album. As such it's no surprise that great things shouldn't be expected, though it's a hell of a lot more professional than a cassette at a gig.

'Black & White' is certainly what I'd class as a 'grower'. the first couple of listens had me happy enough but on the fence about the overall grade, hovering between five of six out of ten. After a few more spins, though, I got into what Ross does much more. There's a variety of styles here, although they all come firmly under the ROCK banner. Of particular note for me is 'Cat In The Hat', which reminds me of Living Colour' with it's funky guitar and bass. Elsewhere there really is plenty to enjoy, with Ross coming over like a hybrid of Phil Vincent and Blaze Bayley. What I'm getting at there is he has Phil's creativity, happy to go wherever the muse takes him, coupled with a basic vocal style that often reminded me of Blaze, though the music is softer in general. Lyrically he's pretty good, with 'Free To Be A Slave' hitting several right notes, and once again it's a case of writing what he feels at the time, not just protest or love songs or whatever. Ross plays guitar throughout the album, and again whilst it's not electrifying it does it's job well, especially during the six and a half minute 'Job' (as in the bible dude) adding another layer of competence to an already solid piece of work.

'Red & Black' is unlikely to set the world on fire, but it might provide an essential spark. I certainly enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and once you get your head around the eclectic mix here I think you will too.

Listen to it HERE