Wednesday, October 9, 2019

JAN AKKERMAN: "Close Beauty"

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

Hocus Pocus with Focus. There you go. That's pretty much all I know about Jan Akkerman. Not a whole lot to be honest. But I won't lie or pretend to know everything about each and every (hard) rock artists out there and certainly not when it's instrumental music (his solo outings). Do the google, you say? No. You do the google. It's sort of interesting to listen to 'Close Beauty' without any knowledge, if you know what I mean? You simply can't keep track of them all and Focus was before my time. No real excuse since I obviously do track back in time.

However. It's twelve compositions, acoustic, electric guitar, and overall varied works. According to Jan, "I've always been able to tell that none of my albums sound the same. Exploring new things is something that I'd always wanted to do. Harmonica player Toots Thielemans once told me: ‘your timing, that’s your signature, your autogram’. I consider ‘Close Beauty’ exactly like that. If you stand very close to a cow, you can’t tell it’s a cow, after all", end quote. Conclusion? It's a cow!?

He's obviously 'Dutch' from the Netherlands (Holland) and "Close Beauty", instrumental rock in its more classical sense, having a penchant for more snappy medievil influences and open land/soundscapes, than never-ending cycles of riffs held together by shredding and pace, Akkerman's compositions are progressive when it comes to updating the vast spectrum of instrumental music. Hard to categorize, the mood changes from sunny afternoons to not so sunny melancholy. The music is really diverse, so the different music channels have different structure and avenues to choose from. Some of the songs are in the vein of the classical masters, others are more fusion influenced, there's fingerpicking, as well as a few odd numbers of clarity and Spiritual Privacy.

The bottom line: Less widdly widdly diddly, and more in time with the current 'less is more' vogue, the compositions add a wicked sense of individuality to the album which channels the timing, harmonics, virtuosity of a great guitarist. It's the great album to listen to while reading a book and I mean that in the best possible way and sense. One thing's for sure. It's the art cover of the year, if not for the sneaky fishy 72 year old geezer in the background :-)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

LAST TEMPTATION: "Last Temptation"

Rating: RRr
Label: earMusic 2019
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

I actually feel sort of sorry for guitarist Peter Scheithauer (Killing Machine, Belladonna, Temple of Brutality) and vocalist Butcho Vukovic (Watcha, Showtime) as they release their debut album. They are the masterminds of the new band and project of Last Temptation yet the press release and not to mention sticker on the album cover mention only that the recordings were accompanied by Bob Daisley (Ozzy Osbourne, Gary Moore, Rainbow) on bass, Vinny Appice (Dio, Black Sabbath) on drums, and Don Airey on keyboards (Deep Purple, Rainbow, Ozzy) as they recorded their eponymous first album.

This record is decidedly old school in its execution and stands for classic 70's and 80's Metal, that is supposed to reminds on genre icons like Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio and Ozzy Osbourne. Well... hold your horses and keep your rabid rabbits and hungry hounds on the leash. It's never quite really that good and the compositions and arrangements (all by the dynamic duo of Scheithauer and Vukovic) are kind of samey and once you've noticed the refrain to one, you've pretty much heard them all. It doesn't help to repeat the words "Bring Your Light Out" a thousand times if you're sort of fed up the first time. The most Ozzy/Sabbath moment of "Blow a Fuse" and "Never Say Goodbye" might have the oldies going at least up until the refrain. The latter sounding more like Soundgarden in the late eighties, early nineties though and not bad at all.

The bottom line according to Scheithauer was "having that live feeling that seems to be missing with a lot of recordings these days. We'll go and rehearse in the studio, sometimes we'll hear something that would be a great take, and that’s a magical thing. What makes certain records magical is that the music is living and breathing; it’s organic, it's real, including the occasional mistakes (laughs)". Fair enough. It's organic, real, proper production, but never really exciting or fun. By the way. Guest musicians also include Rudy Sarzo, James Lomenzo, Stet Howland, etc. but why bother, since they don't fit the bill and classic rock genre?


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

Sascha Paeth is one of metal's odd sod. The wicked multi-instrumentalist, producer, and overall mad genius. I'm really fond of his work with the likes of Avantasia, Edguy, Kamelot, and perhaps not as impressed with the Rhapsody Of Fire. The solo project of Masters Of Ceremony and their debut album, Signs Of Wings, treads a fine line between the merry Pirate metal of Running Wild, Within Temptation, and Avantasia, and incredibly it seems to work for the most part.

I'm also very fond of the vocalist on this record, Adrienne Cowan from Seven Spires, and she's no ordinary goth or the shy wallflower. Her range goes from head to toe, meaning she likes to play both the angel and the devil. Huh? What the fudge? Okay. Straight to the point. Just as good on the soft and hard parts and there's a lot of guts as well as gusto on the record. For the most part, Signs of Wings, revolves principally around the essence of all good metal, decent material and wicked guitar work. The majority of Paeth's arrangements accompanying the excellent vocals of Adrienne Cowan and her performance transforms a number of good songs into great ones. Keep in mind that you need to be slightly open-minded as you'll find the occasional modern metal growl(s) and style though.

Offering a wide range of styles within the metal spectrum, from aggressive and straight foward metal, to the more melodic and symphonic track, this record has a bit of everything. Soundwise, the sonic delivery is as good as ever by The Paeth and the guitarist sure do enjoy noodling to his hearts' content, making the best out of the situation, the motto of the day. The Path of The Paeth clearly have big intentions and highways in mind and with this album should achieve many of them. "Blissful I die and reach for the sky. Hoping to find a way through the night. I leave my worries alone way down below and try not to cry anymore, fight anymore".

Monday, October 7, 2019

MOTORHEAD: ''Bomber'"

Rating: RRRR
Label: BMG
Review by Martien Koolen

This is the 40th anniversary edition of the classic Motorhead album 'Bomber'; their third studio album was released on 27 October 1979, just 7 months after their 2nd album "Overkill" This again must have album featured classic Motorhead songs like: "Dead Men Tell No Tales", "Sweet Revenge", "Stone Dead Forever", "Bomber" and one of my personal Motorhead favourites "Lawman". Again all the 10 songs on "Bomber" were composed by the three original members:Kilmister, Clarke and Taylor; therefore all the tracks are full of the characteristic sound of that classic line up. So, there were some real killer songs on this album, however, the fans and the critics found the overall songs on Bomber not as good as those on Overkill. Still the album ranked number 397 in Rock Hard magazine's book of the 500 Greatest Rock & Metal albums of all time!

Again this anniversary edition comes with a live bonus CD, whch was recorded in Le Mans and the set list contained 18 tracks with a total playing time of almost 70 minutes! Live classic Motorhead songs like Overkill, Stay Clean, No Class, Metropolis, Lawman, Motorhead and Bomber are featured here and they rock like hell. Other highlights on this amazing live set are Limb From Limb, featuring a superb guitar solo by Clarke, a cover of the old time classic Train Kept A Rollin' and a dazzling version of Capricorn.

I probably repeat myself here, but again this is a must have Motorhead release, not only for the great heavy rock and roll music but also for the splendid booklet that comes along with it. Highly recommended, again, and as Lemmy said it more than once: "we're Motorhead and we're gonna kick your ass!!", and they certainly did, enjoy!!





One of the better albums from last year was Wayward Sons' debut release, which saw everyone;s favourite little angel Toby Jepson return to the forefront of the rock scene with a bang and a great new band alongside him. Naturally expectations are high for this second release, and I'm here to tell you that there's no need to riot (even if you wanna) because they've all been met with ease.

The album kicks off with the electrifying single 'Any Other Way', a full on melodic rock feast that has melody, harmony and solid brass balls all the way through. Jepson sounds as good as he ever did, and the band are as tight as to expected after a punishing schedule of touring, rehearsing and recording over the last 12 months or so. 'Black As Sin' follows a similar template, not giving the listener a chance to catch their breath as the hard hitting melodies and attitude whacks them about the face whilst laughing like a loon. Speaking of laughing like a loon, 'Jokes On You' is a bit more radio friendly (with a smidge of piano to help the flow) with a killer chorus that is immediately hummable. If you haven't yet, do check out the clown based videos the band are putting out as well- they're quite mental and lots of fun. Elsewhere, Toby gets angry in the monumentally brilliant track '(If Only God Was Real)', allowing the old scream to sneak out, whilst the title track has a slower, mesmerizing stomp to it and a chorus that won't quit.

The band have wisely allowed themselves to play with different tempos throughout the album, and whilst the big guitar stompers are plenty of fun it's nice to chill out with the lighter 'Little White Lies', 'Us Against the World' and 'Fade Away', a song which will have fans of 'Soapbox' creaming their spandex. Ah, yes... it's time for the Little Angels part of the review, which is sort of inevitable. Wayward Sons definitely bring to mind those Scarborough scamps plenty of times, and for me that's exactly what I was hoping for. Jepson's vocals make it pretty hard not to think of them, and the similar style of songwriting and playing just reinforce it. Let me put it this way, if this was a new Little Angels album fans would be ecstatic with the fact that they wouldn't have radically (your lover?) altered the sound. Ya get me?

In the end, 'The Truth Ain't What It Used To Be' is a terrific release. Twelve absolute blinders plus a sneaky bonus track, it's even better that the debut, and that's no easy task. If you've yet to check them out please get to YouTube and see what all the fuss is about. Believe me, you'll be converted. Possibly the best release of the year so far, Wayward Sons may not be original but by Harry they're fucking good so do yourself a favour and join the Wayward Army.

Friday, October 4, 2019

MOTORHEAD: "Overkill"

Rating: RRRR 
Label: BMG 
Review by Martien Koolen 

This is the 40th anniversary edition of the classic Motorhead album 'Overkill'; their second studio album was released on 24 March 1979. This great album featured classic Motorhead songs like: "Stay Clean", "Capricorn", "No Class", "Metroplis" and of course the notorious title track. All the songs on "Overkill" were composed by the three original Motorheaders, being: Lemmy Kilmister, Fast Eddie Clarke and Phil Philthy Animal Taylor. Besides the original Motorhead album you can also enjoy a live album recorded at Aylesbury Friars on 31 March 1979. Sadly the sound of the live album is a bit shallow at certain points but the Motorhead energy takes you through this and makes you forget the rather hollow sound of certain tracks. This live album features 17 tracks with a playing time of over 75 minutes, so you get your money's worth!! Killer tracks on this live recording are "Overkill", "No Class", "Iron Horse", "Metropolis" and of course the last track called "Motorhead". Listening to the second studio album of Motorhead again makes me realise how good and powerful these three guys were; so this anniversay album is a must for Lemmy fans all over the world and play it f... LOUD, if you can!!!