Monday, December 30, 2013

ANGELICA: ”Thrive”

Rating: RRRR
Label: Frontiers 2013
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Not to be confused with 80'ies Christian hard rock band by the same name, Angelica (last name: Rylin) is a Swedish singer best known as the vocalist of The Murder Of My Sweet. "Thrive" is her first solo album and it's a departure from TMOMS's sound. We're dealing with modern-meets-vintage AOR here. Heart, Robin Beck and Romeo's Daughter are mentioned as major influences is the press release, spiced up with producer Daniel Flores' modern touches. The concept is pretty similar to that of Issa's albums on the same label, and indeed some of these songs sound like they could have been written for her.

Angelica is a fine singer and over the weeks I've been listening to this, I've grown to like these songs a lot. Initially I liked it, but wasn't totally blown away, but I have to say "Thrive" has become one of my favourite albums of the year. If you've only heard the first single/video "Breaking My Heart" you do not have the whole picture. It's a good song but nowhere near the best one of the album. There are several songs which are more cleverly written. "I Am Strong", "To Your Rescue" and "You Will Never Win" may not revolutionize the art of writing AOR songs but they do have more twists and turns that the average Journey ripoff songs so common in the genre. Other songs I want to mention are the fine ballads "Can't Stop Love", "Losers In Paradise" and the closing number "Take Me To Your Heart", which has a very cool and surprising pre-chorus. If only the chorus had been as good. It's nice, but somehow it just screams "eurovision pop"!

There really isn't a weak song on the album, so this is pretty close to a perfect 5R rating. Some of the choruses are a bit too predictable for their own good, hence it's only a very strong RRRR.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

NAKED IDOL: ”Filthy Fairies”

Rating: - (EP)
Label: Rascal Music Finland 2013
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Naked Idol was formed by ex-Lordi bass player Magnum in 2006. This year they signed a deal with an indie label called Rascal Music Finland. So far they’ve released a few singles and this 5 track EP.
Naked Idol could very well appeal to the fans of Lordi, as the band is obviously very much influenced by the 80’ies hard rock and metal. Not to mention the fact that both ex-Lordi drummer Kita and Mr. Lordi himself make cameo appearances on the EP. However, the band’s sound does have a slightly contemporary edge, especially the guitar work is quite ”modern-sounding”.

”Shattered” is the band’s latest single and the opening track of this EP. It’s one of the more modern-sounding tracks of the album, with effected vocals and grinding riffs, but the ”salvation” comes in the form of a very melodic and catchy hook. ”Hungry (For You)” is pretty straight-forward, catchy eighties’ styled hard rock, while the title track is the one with Mr. Lordi. Unfortunately it sounds like a left-over from a Lordi album, the usual croaky vocals and a rather irritating chorus. The balladic ”Jane” is my favourite track of the album, reminding me a bit of Alice Cooper and Kane Roberts. ”Devil Ridin’ Shotgun” is another somewhat Lordi-like track, with gruff vocals from the band’s singer Malcolm and a chorus hook that wouldn’t sound out of place on the monster band’s latter day albums.

All in all, this EP promises good things for the future. The band has an ear for a good melodic hook and I’m hoping that their first full-length album is full of them.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Rating: RR
Label: Frontiers 2013
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

If you’re an avid collector of everything released by Frontiers, this is one album that you might want to listen before purchasing. It’s very different from the label’s usual melodic hard rock and AOR stuff. Benedictum are a female-fronted heavy metal band and they are not even flirting with AOR. Okay, they’re not as extreme as, say, Arch Enemy, but they’re still pretty damn heavy and uncompromising. The first impression I got was ”Judas Priest with a female vocalist”, and I’m still sticking to that.

Vocalist Veronica Freeman is quite impressive, she belts out the songs with passion and the rest of the band back her up competently. The problem lies within the songs - apart from a couple of exceptions, they are just too forgettable. There are too many choruses which are based on simple, monotonic phrases screamed out loud.

Interestingly, both of the album’s standout tracks feature guests. ”Cry” is a duet between Freeman and Tony Martin of Black Sabbath fame, and it’s a very good balladic track with both of the singers doing a fine job. Right next to it in the tracklisting is ”Thornz”, which features A Sound Of Thunder vocalist Nina Osegueda sharing the vocals with Freeman. It’s a more of an uptempo track with catchy guitar work and a decent chorus hook. Unfortunately the rest of the album doesn’t appeal to me, hence the low rating. However, if a ”Painkiller”-era Priest with aggressive female vocals sounds appealing to you, do give this album a try. And ”Obey”!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

DAMNATIONS DAY: ”Invisible The Dead”

Rating: RRR
Label: Nightmare 2013
Review by Rich Dillon

The band Damnations Day was given life in 2005 in Geelong, Australia before moving to Melbourne shortly after the release of their EP in 2009. The band was a three piece unit then, comprised of Mark Kennedy on vocals and guitar, Luke Vinken with the bass and Dean Kennedy behind the kit. Jon King joined the fold in 2012, taking up the lead guitar position.

Damnations Day cite influences such as System of a Down, Metallica and Iron Maiden and have amazingly self-funded their own successful New Zealand tour in 2011. Among other live dates they are scheduled for two festival performances, Steel Assassins in early November 2013 and the Stormrider Festival in May 2014. After eight years of playing around Australia and gathering a sizeable following, Damnations Day served up Invisible, The Dead on September 17, 2013. Prior to the release of this full length debut the title track was issued in video form in August as a teaser and one can also find some recent live performance videos on you tube.

While Invisible, The Dead is not a totally unenjoyable listening experience, the progressive power thrash sounds are not this reviewer’s particularly preferred cup of tea. Of the nine compositions included in the 37 minute collection two are acoustic ballads, Ghost In Me and A World To Come, the album closer and they seem a little out of place to me. As for the rest of the album I find it difficult to evaluate or choose a standout cut as the other tracks all sound very similar with some decent riffs, a sort of meld of power metal and thrash, but all seem to be lacking something, not quite pulling it off. The potential is there for Damnations Day, maybe it will grow on me with more listens.


AOR: "The Secrets Of LA"

Rating: RR
Label: AOR Heaven 2013
Review by Dan Mann

Now I'll start by saying I've liked the other AOR releases and Frédéric Slama must be applauded for bringing together such a wealth of talent. However, on this occasion I'm afraid this release has not grabbed me in any shape or form. Yes there are some great vocal performances, well apart from Bob Harris, whose performances on the tracks 'Out Of The Past' & 'The Main Attraction' are truly awful. I've read plenty of glowing reviews of this album over the last couple of weeks and have wondered whether I've been either listening to a different album or my taste in music has somehow gone screwy.

Before you all start shouting that I've obviously not listened to it properly, I have sat and listened to it all the way through several times without interruption. And my opinion has not changed. Anyway the only standout tracks for me are 'Stage Struck' with Jeff Scott Soto on vocals & 'The Name Of The Game' with Robin Beck on vocals. The remainder of the album just sounds all the same to my critical ears, apart from the two awful songs I've already mentioned. I've rated it 'RR' due in part to the talent involved, otherwise it would of only merited a solitary 'R'.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

SHOCK: ”Once Denied”

Rating: RRRR
Label: Shock 2013
Review by Rich Dillon

Canadian band Shock’s debut CD, "Once Denied" has been almost 30 years in the making!! That’s a helluva long time to wait for a first offering, but it was certainly worth every minute of time.
Forming in Ottawa, The Great White North’s capital city in 1985, Shock was considered in many circles to be the best unsigned band of the late 80’s era. It was the frustration in finding a suitable record deal that ultimately led to their disbandment in 1990, never issuing a recording. This earned them another tag line “the best band to never release an album", but that moniker was abolished when “Once Denied" hit the shelves in May of 2013. The band, comprised of original founding members, Tony V handling the vocal requirements, John Tennant wailing on the guitar and Steve Monette’s thundering bass are joined by newcomer Chad Walls behind the kit in this venture which has seen them also opening for Canadian thrash heavy weights Annihilator.

"Once Denied" is a little short on the run time with only 8 songs, but all killer, no filler by any means….this album is all hard rock gems with decidedly thrashy overtones, each song getting better the further you enter the album. All of the songs were chosen from the band’s extensive back catalogue for this epic release, almost thirty years in the making. “Slashing to Live", may well be there most widely known song and could be considered the lead single given that it has also received the video treatment in the way of a cartoon depicting the story and message of the song concerning women’s self defense. “Paths of Glory" also has a video to accompany it and both are a good introduction to the albums sound. Other stand out cuts include “Fighting Chance", Splitting the Atom", Flaming Towards Earth", “Full Speed Ahead", “Driven To Kill" and “I’m Dangerous"....oh wait I’ve just named all eight tracks as absolute stand outs of the record…….and there’s a reason for that! Once Denied is the kind of album that grows on the listener with each spin, infecting you like a drug that you just can’t get enough of…..I listen to it at least once a day and with it’s relatively short runtime that’s easy to fit into even the busiest of schedules….a great way to start the day!

Given the repertoire of music that this group have stashed away, one can only hope that Once Denied will be followed with more releases. Good things come to those who wait…….and you’ve been waiting for this whether you know it or not!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

BOSTON – “Love, Life & Hope”

Label: Frontiers

Review By: Alan Holloway

Okay, so it’s been a mere eleven years since the last Boston album, the okay but nothing amazing “Corporate America”, and mainman Tom Scholz has been busy in his basement knocking together an product that is a bit of a Frankenstsin’s monster when it comes down to it.

In fairness, “Love, Life & Hope” starts off pretty well, with David Victor and Louis St August harmonizing well on the catchy “Heaven On Earth”, followed by the much missed Brad Delp on the remixed (but not much) “Didn’t Mean To Fall In Love” (originally on "Corporate America"). the former is a traditional Boston-ish tune, with a nice bounce and refrain, and the short instrumental that follows, “Last Day of School”, is a fine piece of work from Scholtz. After that it’s not as good as maybe we would hope, and the pointless inclusion of two more "remixed" tracks from “Corporate America” has to be mentioned.  Scholtz has made it clear that he feels the album was under appreciated, but why we have to have “You gave Up On Love” and “Someone” remixed is a bit of a worry when he spent so bloody long perfecting them the first time round. Good tracks, sure, but after eleven years I expect an album full of new material.

Delp appears again on “Sail Away”, with Kimberley Dahme (Who also has her own exclusive vocal lead on “You Gave Up On Love”), whilst Tommy DeCarlo does a fine job on the upbeat title track and album closer “The Way You Look Tonight”.  Even Scholtz himself gets in on the act with “Love Got Away”, and although he gets away with it I was glad he didn’t appoint himself as a permanent lead vocalist.

With “Life, Love & Hope” Tom Scholz has visibly tried to make a Boston album for Boston fans, and when he gets it right it’s great fun. The inclusion of three remixes and a few forgettable tracks amongst the gems means that, in the end, this is not an essential purchase. The most fitting eulogy for Delp came with the wonderful song with Barry Goodreau, “Rockin Away” (if you haven’t heard it, we've been nice and put it at the bottom of this review), whereas this is just another Boston album. The lack of two or three kick ass tracks hurts this one, so maybe in ten years we’ll get a better release, but don’t hold your breath. 

Official band Site:‎ 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Rating: RRRR
Label: Avispa Music 2013
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Earlier this year we did an interview with Burning Kingdom main man Manuel Seoane. He had assembled a new band featuring three Swedish musicians and the one and only Danny Vaughn of Tyketto on lead vocals, and was pretty excited over this new album. He had every reason to be, as he and the band have succeeded in recording a very good album.

”Simplified” is a good title for the album. It’s a bit rough around the edges, the production isn’t as smooth and polished as some other releases, but in a way that gives it a warm and ”human” sound. Vaughn’s vocals sound really live, it sounds like they haven’t been filtered or autotuned to match ”modern day production values”, which is actually a good thing.

Speaking of ”modern day production values”, I must mention the intro ”Stay Awake”. Apparently it was put together by the producer, and the band had nothing to do with it. They actually asked it to be removed, but in the end the label decided to use it, bcause ”valuable studio time had been spent on it”. That’s pretty crazy, as it doesn’t suit the album at all, featuring electronic sounds and spoken words (or is that rapping?) with a bad accent… when I heard it I thought I had put a wrong CD into the player!

The actual Burning Kingdom music on the album is something altogether different. Tyketto fans will find a lot to enjoy, even though some of the tracks are slightly more metallic with Seoane throwing in some really wicked riffs. Some of the best songs for my money are the first single ”Watching As It Burns”, the melodic and quite Tykettoesque ”From On High” and the keyboard-heavy title-track. ”That’s My Boogie” is probably the weakest of them, confirming again that if there’s a ”Boogie” in the songtitle, then I cannot possibly like it… strange but true.

Monday, November 18, 2013

PLACE VENDOME: ”Thunder In The Distance”

Rating: RRRR
Label: Frontiers 2013
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

The third ”episode” of Place Vendome is here. As you may know, Place Vendome is an AOR project featuring the former Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske working alongside Pink Cream 69/Unisonic bassist/producer Dennis Ward, PC69 guitarist Uwe Reitenauer, Vanden Plas keyboardist Gunther Werno. For this third album, the band replaced drummer Kosta Zafiriou (also PC69) with Dirk Bruinenberg (ex-Adagio).

While the first album was mostly written by Dennis Ward, the second one ”Streets Of Fire” and this latest release have been put together from songs provided by Frontiers’ ”in-house” writers. Yes, it’s another Frontiers project album! Yes, there’s Del Vecchio, Karlsson, Söderqvist, Tolkki and Denander involved! Yes, it doesn’t sound drastically different to the others! Yes, I like it! No, I’m not on their payroll!

It’s getting increasingly strange that a handful of people are responsible for a big share of Frontiers’ output, but as I’ve said it before, as long as the quality is there, I’m not going to start complaining. Okay, this isn’t as strong an album as ”Streets Of Fire”, but it’s still very good. Ward’s production is clear and smooth, and Kiske’s voice suits this kind of material perfectly. Maybe it’s a couple of songs too long, as there are a few that are pretty generic, but you can always skip those and still find plenty of songs to enjoy.

My favourite songs on this album tend to be slightly on the more dark, melancholic side of things. ”Power Of Music”, ”Lost In Paradise”, ”It Can’t Rain Forever”, ”Heaven Lost” and ”My Heart Is Dying”… well, some of the titles already suggest that these aren’t happy-go-lucky summertime anthems, but moody, highly melodic songs. As for the rest, they are all reasonably good AOR tracks, but maybe the final touch of magic is missing from them.
Michael Kiske Website

TABERAH: "Necromancer"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Dust On The Tracks Records 2013
Review by Rich Dillon

Hailing from Tasmania, Australia, the band Taberah started out in 2006 playing their first pub gigs when they were just 16 years of age, reminiscent of another Australian band, Silverchair who also started at a young age. As one of Australia’s fastest growing names they’ve opened for the likes of Paul Di’Anno, Steve Grimmett and Tim “Ripper” Owens, but it was being hand picked by Lemmy to open for Motorhead that really stands out in the resume. Self described as “heavy metal played with the spirit of rock and roll” and citing influences ranging from and including AC/DC, Queen, Motorhead, Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, their extensive touring schedule and entertaining live shows have garnered them a reputation as a “must see” band. Founder Jonathan Barwick handles the guitars and vocals while co-founder Tom “Bam Bam” Brockman sits behind the kit. The boys are joined by guitarist Myles “Flash” Flood and bassist Dave “The Doctor” Walsh to round out this sensation, or dare I say this “Thunder from Down Under”. I’m not sure where the band took it’s name from but from what I could find on the internet, Taberah, which means “burning” was a place that the Israelites passed through after the Exodus from Egypt, named because God, tired of their complaining, set fire to them.

Necromancer is their second release and follows 2011’s debut of The Light of Which I Dream. I cued up the digital download for play whilst performing some other tasks and chores. Immediately I was hooked and drawn in by the chunky bass lines and the larger than life guitar riffs leading the charge on the opening cut, “2012”. “Dying Wish” is up next, continuing the assault and found me neglecting the tasks at hand as I got deeper into the Taberah sound. The aforementioned influences can clearly be heard throughout, but the music is flavoured with a real euro/power metal taste as well.

From the catchy choruses like that of “Burning In The Moonlight”, guaranteed to have you humming along long after the song fades away to the charging assault of the abso-frikking-lutely awesome “The Hammer of Hades”, which is unfortunately the lone track under the four minute mark, this recording is chock-full of big crunchy riffs and catchy melodic hooks. The three-song punch to the gut finale of “The Hammer Of Hades”, “My Dear Lord” and “Burn” coupled with the lead cut of “2012” are worth the price of admission alone, but everything here is good, the sole exception being, “One Goon Bag Later”, the 1:49 minute instrumental that could have easily been omitted in my opinion.
Website 1
Website 2

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

DREAM THEATER: "Live At Luna Park" DVD (2 Disc Set)

Rating: N/A (superb)
Label: Eagle Vision 2013
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Oh lordie, lordie. It has been quite the Prog-Metal exercise to watch the entire 2 disc set DVD of, 'Live At Luna Park', including original live show, its documentary, behind the scenes, and bonus music material. Disc one: 229 minutes and Disc Two: 68 minutes (approx). It's clearly a wet dream to any Dream Theater fan as everything reek of class from the camerawork and lightning to the crisp metal sound. You have front row seats and a backstage pass as the band rocks Luna Park and Argentina.

As the chant goes up from the 8000 strong Buenos Aires crowd, you'll quickly notice why they decided to shoot the DVD in South America instead of America. They are truly loud and are flippin' out from the first note to the last one and it's very much about energy. The band on the other hand are tearing up their audience with complex and blistering passages and absolutely stunningly performances by all musicians involved. The video quality, editing and the overhead shots are truly high definition and breath-taking. There's a total of 23 songs excluding drum, piano and guitar solo. 'Bridges In The Sky' works perfectly as an opener as the very loud Argentina crowd sings along to the refrain. The acoustic set (The Silent Man, Beneath the Surface) brings another side to the songs inbetween all that aggressive prog. I should also point out that bonus songs found on disc two - more from the two night sold out concerts at Luna Park including 'These Walls', 'Wait For Sleep', 'Pull Me Under', plus three more.

Their lead vocalist James LaBrie may have sounded a bit jarring and strained on previous live occasion, however, in Argentina he has really gone back to basics and is more aware of his register and range. The rather awkward and fun inbetween stage banter works naturally even though some of the audience may not agree on everything. Crowd interaction is difficult at times. Women are supposed to cry and men are not? New drummer Mike Mangini is a monster behind the kit and his level of performance is awe inspiring. The 16 cameras and 360' work is smashing fun, but, the geezer sitting on the floor right behind Mangini (roadcrew member? drummer tech?) throughout the entire concert is annoying to say the least. It takes away a lot of fun with 360 actually.

The bonus material and its documentary goes through stuff such as Portnoy leaving and that none of them saw it coming. "It was like going 100 miles an hour into a cement wall", as their drummer decided to leave after 25 years. Mangini speaks about being brought up as the classical musician and having 7 tom-toms to work with, "What I do is I assign an entire octave to each three toms". Nerdy but fun information. Rudess speaks about his magical keyboard that rotates 360' and does the tilt. Simply because he thinks it's boring to just stand their on the spot. Jordan truly enjoy 'The Wizard' nick so much that he's got the hat and sort of the beard. He's no real wizard until it's Gandalf size beard though. The humble Myung on the other hand lets his bass do the talking.

There's also the sound-check, pre-show rituals and the quick dinner in Buenos Aires. What's on the plate? Hint: Argentina's and this particular town's most famous dish of course. The making of the DVD: more nerdy info, the two directors are taking you on a short and not too interesting trip to their video-truck and its control board. Final verdict: Essential stuff If you are a Theater fan, and the sweet crying girl must be pleased with her place in the spotlight. Do Cry For Me Argentina?
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Friday, November 8, 2013

DEF LEPPARD - 'Viva Hysteria' CD/DVD

RATING: N/A (but it's great)

Label: Bludgeon Riffola/Frontiers

Formats: CD, Blu Ray, DVD

Review By: Alan Holloway

Let's be honest, live albums are not, generally, what they used to be. Everyone was so excited when Iron Maiden released "Live After Death", but these days they are ten a penny, often polished to the point of sounding like a Greatest Hits CD. Ho and indeed hum. personally, I don't review live albums if the company won't send the accompanying DVD as well (if there is one), because, well, because I said so. the DVD to Def Leppard's cool new live thing, because it means I now give a toss.

The story is thus: Def Leppard were offered a residency at Las Vegas, and from their comments the main reason they accepted was the chance to sleep in the same bed for a month. The second reason was that they could do what people had been badgering them to do, which is play their biggest album in it's entirety, something they haven't done since 'On Through the Night', and then it was only because they didn't know any other songs yet.

mention has been made of Joe Elliot's vocals for this release, and whilst I accept it is a bit throaty it's certainly not a deal breaker in any way. As for the rest of the band, they sound brilliant, as good as when I saw them on the original tour back in the dark ages. Phil Collen looks like he pumps more iron than Kane Roberts, and as usual you forget that Rick Alen is, um, limbistically challenged. the camerawork is exemplary, proving that if you put some money into it you get a much better live DVD, something already realized by AC/DC and iron maiden for recent releases. In addition, the sound mix is spot on, so if your TV is connected to a big ass sound system you'll genuinely feel like you're really there, only without being able to gamble your life savings away. As a small bonus the encores are "Photograph" and "Rock of Ages", which round off a fine one and a half hours or so.

So the "Hysteria" part of the concert is fine and dandy, but there's more to this story than meets the eye (and indeed the DVD back cover). What you also get is two support sets from the cunningly named Ded Flatbird, who are basically Def Leppard in different clothes supporting themselves. This could be dismissed as a lame gimmick if it wasn't for the setlist. "Good Morning Freedom", "Mirror Mirror", "Rock Brigade", "Another Hit & Run" and eleven more tracks you thought you'd never see them play live ever again. To be honest, this is worth the cover price on it's own, and is a superb extra. On top of all this there's a five track acoustic set in front of a small group of fans, featuring a medley of five more tracks that aren't played elsewhere. Value for money? Fuck yeah.

"Viva Hysteria" is one of the best DVD packages I've yet seen. You can buy it bundled with the audio version if you want, but there's no difference to the content so it's all down to how you want to do your listening. If you are a Leps fan this is absolutely essential, and will remind any who have wandered off just why they loved the band in the first place.


Rating: RRR
Label: Day One
Review by Martien Koolen

Godslave is a German metal band and In Hell is the title of their new release, which is their third since the band was formed in 2007. This album is again very heavy combining elements from German trash bands like Kreator, Sodom and Destruction and Bay Area trash elements. So, right from the start the music is loud, heavy and filled with trashy and fast guitar riffs and hooks, making it hard to keep your head still.

Most of the 11 songs are very speedy and sound like so many other trash metal bands; not bad, but ever so not original! Best songs for me are: S.O.S. which starts with a nice quiet guitar solo and the instrumental song Intermission Accomplished, featuring a organ solo!! This One Step is also an instrumental one but that one is rather fast and gloomy. In Hell is not a bad album but it will only reach the die hard trash metal fans I am afraid...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

TWELVE CLAY FEET: "More Naked Than Obscene"

Rating: RRR
Label: Kiln/PresciptionPR 2013
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Twelve Clay Feet's second album, "More Naked Than Obscene" is already receiving comparisons to Kings Of Leon and Brian Jones Town Massacre. I hardly agree on everything. However, it's been quite the transformation since last we heard them bang the bells. They've clearly replaced most of their Grungy rock attitudes of the debut album, "Totem Bells", and being the ambitious outfit they are, Twelve Feet Clay have no trouble packing the new album full of melodic and modern arena guitar rock.

The gruff vocals of Ian Jeff is no doubt the most edgy point of the band nowadays as the arrangements of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden are simply no longer to be found within these ten tracks. As soon as they rip into opener, 'By The Station Light', the Cambridge based UK act make this music style their own though, proving that not only have they left Seattle long behind, but that the rush of arena rock can still be used to great effect. And as soon as you notice that they are now in effect the moody U.K. guitar band and as subtle as Ted Nugent and Fox News, you might as well give in to the comparison to England's answer to Kings Of Leon. Add the husky vocal approach of Nickelback and the healthy dose of U2 and Radiohead, and you're even closer to the core.

Strangely enough, 'By The Staion Light', had me thinking in the weird ways of, what if Blackie Lawless decided to join the lads from Kings Of Leon? Mind you, Jeffs has a great gruffy voice, not always comparable to old Blackie though. The album is mostly all about the modern arrangements of rock numbers such as "You Can't Stop" and the following, "Hailstones", probably the best friggin' example of todays indie rock, alternativety, it hits boringville city limits on some of the tracks towards the middle of the album. I'm not that impressed by its first single, "Wrecking Ball", for that matter. There are better ones on the record and I'd rather just hang out with the smoothies of "Cities On Fire" or "The Debutante". Or why not the quirky uptempo U.K. indie rock number of "Last Rat In Hemelin". Close to 4... but 3 strong R's - my final verdict.
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Giulio GARGHENTINI: "Believe"

Rating: RR
Label: Tanzan Music 2013
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Do you Believe in Giulio Garghentini? The ten tracks debut solo album by the former Mantara and Darkfire vocalist (which I do not know or have heard) goes through many styles and sub-genres of hard rock and pop rock. He's the front man of the Bon Jovi cover band as well as vocal teacher, and the man has also worked with the musicals of 'Girda da libertá' and 'Jesus Christ Superstar' in his homeland of Italy. Mamma mia. That's a lot of... ehem. Let's not include the dodgy catch phrase from the horrible "Anti-Italo" commercial of the past in the write up.

Released through the Tanzan Music label, you may also expect guitarist Mario Percudani as the excellent guest musician. It's difficult to pin-point the music of "Believe" though as each track is very different from the other. To be frank. It's an awful mish-mash of seventies hammond rock, the odd musical theme song, funky beats, bluesy guitar work, eighties glam-rock, and not to mention the out and out Gospel choir? Blimey. Clearly we don't know which direction to go? It's perhaps just a bit too much food on the plate to the average consumer?

It's great fun to try something different from the rest of the sound-a-likes, you say? Absolutely. I could not agree more and I do not personally have a problem with all these elements and styles. Queen and Freddie Mercury did everything and more on their albums and they managed to have the rather successful music career. Simply have a look at my work throughout the years and notice that I enjoy the whole full spectrum from Pop to Soul, Metal, Synth, R&B, West coast, Sleaze, Thrash, 80s New Wave, Romantic, Classic, Goth, UK Indie, Hard Rock, Punk, Grunge, Prog, Art-Rock/Pop, Singer/songwriter, etc. etc. It's not a question of style. It's rather the lack of great songs that makes me question the work of Garghentini. Pick of the bunch: the uptempo hammond/keys number of "I Can't Stand The Rain".

Monday, November 4, 2013


Rating: RRR
Review by Dan Mann

Let me start by briefly telling you a bit about the band. Originally known as Six Barrel Syndicate, this quintet hail from Denmark. The band comprises of Richard - Lead, Buster - Lead guitar/backing vocals Bue - Rhythm guitar/backing vocals, Buster - Lead guitar, backing vocals, Bue - Rhythm guitar/backing vocals, Jakob - Bass/backing vocals & Adam - Drums. The EP was recorded live in Dead Rat Studio in Denmark and was produced by Jacob Bredahl (former singer in Hatesphere).

And so to the EP itself. Well according to the band's own description, the EP is a cocktail of catchy songs and explosive live energy. I certainly can't disagree with that. Kicking off with 'Heavy Thunder' straight away they're in your face with a raw yet controlled energy which is much lacking in a lot of releases these days. Next up we have 'Kings and Queens' a rip roaring foot stomper of a song. I can here quite a few hints to other bands, imagine the Black Crowes with a hint of Jackyl thrown into the mix. The third track, 'White Lies' continues in a similar vein, with a very tight rhythm and some excellent guitar work by Buster with just the right amount of hint of 70's rock bands of old. And so we come to the fourth and final track, 'It Ain't Over Yet'. If I'm honest I found the sound quality on this final track a little harsh to my ears and on repeat plays of the EP I found myself skipping this track, which is unfortunate.

Overall I found the EP to be energetic & enthusiastic sounding. I feel that if this was an album it would need breaking up with one or two slower numbers to avoid maybe giving the listener some fatigue through hearing the same speed & tempo throughout.

I give the EP RRR and will be keeping an eye on what direction they move in going forward.

Friday, November 1, 2013

SPIRITS OF THE DEAD: "Rumours Of A Presence"

Rating: RRR
Label: The End Records 2013
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The Spirits of The Dead are riding the fluffy white dragon as they're flying across the universe and towards the never-ending story of psychdelica, mushroom and Limahl. Make no sense? Well of course not. It's all kajagoogoo and the hostile squall of life's never-ending blizzard according to the evil dark wizzard. What if you're looking through the kaleidoscope of acid rock only to discover that every day is Christmas AND that you've attracted Santa Claustrophobia. Far-out, dude. Far-out...

"Rumours of a Presence" is in fact the third album from Norway's finest(?) psychedelica stoner band. It's the magical wonderful place where the Progressive guitar-driven flower-power rock of the late 60s and early 70s still exist. We're dealing with the dead, spirits, and heavy/melodic colourful compositions that defies description and dares the imagination to throw off its shackles to the known and the now. It's the past, present, and future rock of spectral groove and spacey arrangements. Let's rummage through the eight album tracks and shoot at something that is so far out of range, you might as well shoot for the moon.

Try really hard and you'll probably discover the odd bits and pieces of King Crimson, (very early) Pink Floyd, Van Der Graaf Generator, and the underground cult band of Aphrodite's Child (feat: Vangelis). They may also at times remind you of BJH and 'The Planet Caravan' song by Black Sabbath is no doubt another great source of inspiration. In fact, the Norwegians manage to get just about everything right on their third album, from their filthy guitar sound of the past and suitably keys, to the melodic groove of the songs within the Rumours Of A Prescence. It's very much the album effort and the genuine craftmanship of melodic progressive psychedelic rock. Lo and behold, these guys are actually fun to listen to even without the use of hallucinogenics.
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Rating: RRR
Label: Asher Media/TA 2013
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

"Sometimes life is a Trainwreck. But we're responsible for our own actions and we are the Architects of our own destruction sometimes". I believe you noticed the key word here as the Canadians of Trainwreck Architects are spot on sometimes with their Thrash Metal and sometimes all over the map with dodgy cookie monster vocals. There's however no need to worry about the overall clean and excellent vocals by Simon Ouellet. It's mostly old school metal and very much in the tradition of the eighties and acts such as (early) Annihilator, Prong, Pro-Pain, Testament, the mere hint of the punky metal of Skid Row ála Slave To The Grind. The odd track feature those awful black metal screams and hardcore metal though and I always tend to skip the last couple of tracks.

"Traits of the Sick", mastered by Jeff Waters of Annihilator, whom also makes a guest appearance with a guitar solo, the record features an eclectic mix of Thrash, classic metal and rock and deals with the idea of humans being human and never willing to be completely satisfied. Each track is an individual burst of gunfire riffing and dito vocals, and the band sound very true and natural that it fair brings a tear of nostalgia to your eye. Bassist Eric Litinas and drummer Marc-Antoine Blackburn form two natural focus points as they work hard and sound tight throughout the album.

It's a pretty raw production ála 80s underground Thrash and do not expect today's slick production when you go overboard on everything with the use of pro-tools and what not really. Clearly Trainwreck Architects' songwriting approach is to create as interesting drum rhythm as possible with headbanging mosh-pit rhythmical guitar work and the aggressive yet melodic melody. Backup gang vocals and constantly flashy solos by the two axe-masters (Khan/Baril) are only to be expected. Manic music, yet strickly controlled and steeped into the form of 80s/early 90s Thrash and Metal.

David BRONSON: "The Long Lost"

Rating: RRR
Label: PrescriptionPR/Indie 2013
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

I enjoyed his "Story" album and was looking forward to part two of Bronson's autobiographical concept story. "The Long Lost" is in fact the prequel to his two-installment narrative chronicling project. Legendary producer and recording and mix engineer Godfrey Diamond (Lou Reed, Aerosmith, Sparks, Glen Campbell), recorded numerous overdubs, mixed, and assisted Bronson with the finishing of the album, while the majority of the double record was recorded at the studios of Brooklyn, Manhattan-based Producer/Engineer/Mixer Matt Gill (Fischerspooner, Aimee Mann, The Raveonettes).

I quite like the quirky mix of alternative rock and 70s singer/songwriter which goes on throughout the album. One minute you're listening to 80s R.E.M. with the twangy rock of Jackson Browne including pedal steel and everything (We Are Not Animals) and next it's Cat Stevens gone slightly Beck and indie (Living In Name, In A Cave). The moody arrangements of Nick Drake and George Harrison-esque slide guitar are two other great signs of the album's diverse and emotional pacing. By the way, R.E.M. borrowed tons of stuff from 70s acts such as Neil Young and America (the band) anyhow.

The songs are overriding feelings—like hope or anger— and a couple of them such as, "Idols" or "One Simple Myth", clearly just too hippie for my personal taste. To Bronson's credit, he's always willing to gamble and explore/try something new, and the closing track of "Stay In Touch", psychedelic haze of the past featuring excellent slide guitar and ultra sonic drums. It's the foot-tapping semi-acoustic album and definitely a step in the right direction.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Lisa CUTHBERT: "Paramour"

Rating: RRR
Label: LS/PrescriptionPR 2013
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Lisa Cuthbert's second full length album, "Paramour", the Progressive Art-Pop/Rock concept album based and inspired by the shocking stories from Ireland's now finally defunct Magdalene Asylums. I do type finally as it's merely been the odd twenty years since the last institute closed down. One of many scandals in the history of the Catholic Church. Not to exlude any other religion for that matter since they've all done wrong in the name of God. You may also recognize Cuthbert from her work with Anathema, Sister Of Mercy, or on tour as supporting act for Marillion.

It's the dark and disturbing story and we're dealing with the very soft Art-Pop concept album with grand piano and haunting vocals as main ingredient. I'm no expert on Irish folk-music (or anything else for that matter), but, I'd still say that Cuthbert's inspiration (vocal-wise) are the old traditional singers as well as the modern output of Stevie Nicks, Sinead O'Connor, Tori Amos, etc. It's the storytelling of the traditional singer/songwriter combined with the drama of above mentioned artists. An awful lot of ultra slow drama and ebony/ivory work and the album could benefit from a change of pace and the use of other instruments.

Opener, "Destitute", stunningly beautiful vocals and the real drama of a beginning. "Gartan Mother's Lullaby" and "Madame's Secret Pain", the definite sound of Ireland and their traditional folk songs of the past. "Run and Jump", the slow and very dramatic build-up piece ála Stevie Nicks, especially like her solo albums of the eighties. "The Sooner You Know" takes the piano drama to another dimension and the orchestration is a nice change - more of this next time please. "Libra" the intrumental piano number prior to the Sinead O'Connor-ish track of "This Kind of Sin". In fact, the very same Sinead O'Connor, (great artist and spokeswoman for/on organised religion, women's rights, war, child abuse, etc.) was at the age of 15! placed in a Magdalene Asylum/Laundries. By the way, when it comes to Miley Cyrus vs. O'Connor - I'll stand behind the latter any day of the week.

The existence of the asylums was not well known to the world, but surely Ireland must have known since we're talking about their daughters, sisters and mothers, until 1993 when an order of nuns, Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, in Dublin sold part of their convent to a real-estate developer. The remains of 155 inmates who had been buried in unmarked graves on the property were found and reburied in a mass grave in Glasnevin Cemetery. Massive scandal of course and the women received a full state apology earlier this very year. "Paramour" is the proper concept album release by a proper artist. Nontheless, it's the nice, but not quite top notch experience. Superb vocalist. It's just a little bit too samey and laid-back in the long run. The end. And I didn't even mention the Pope and the whole papal infallibility. Oh crap. So close...
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Gerry LAFFY: "Wrecked But Not Crushed"

Rating: RRr
Label: Die Laughing Records 2013
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Blimey. Gerry Laffy again? It's his second solo album release of the year and everything is self-written and performed by the former guitarist for Girl, John Taylor, London Cowboys and Ultravox? To be perfectly honest. I had no idea about the latter and I'm a fan of the Ultravoxers. I guess it's the tour only guitarist? But don't take my word for it. Previously just a little blurred - Laffy's brush with death was the main inspiration for "Wrecked But Not Crushed" as he contracted life threatening speticaemia earlier this year.

There's nothing like a close encounter with the grim repear to get your inspiration going and to make you appreciate life? That is if you're not already completely dead inside. Laffy's latest album and opener "High" is definitely more upbeat and happy going in the vein of rocking in the free world and good old fashioned guitar riffing. Vocally, the man end up somewhere inbetween the work of Joe Elliott (Def Leppard) and Mark Rankin (Gun). Not quite as impressive but could easily do as the Monday night stand in at the local rock venue. The drums are however not quite Laffy at his best and the timing... well... at times wild and (w)reckless.

The main idea and thinking behind this album is no doubt guitar rock, groovy beats, the good time blues (check out the track: Another Man), as well as the traditional U.K. formula only with a twist. I can't help thinking about the Phil Collen project of Manraze as well as the odd Gun track and Power Station. The latter, perhaps not that strange considering the cover of "Dope". Not the best of version for that matter as it may lack the extra omph and strenght of the original. Then again, their record label showered them with millions of $ to receive the best out of production and mastering. You really can't compare the two on such merit alone. "Wrecked But Not Crashed" is far cheerier than his previous attempt at world domination and yet I prefer several songs from his earlier album. Go figure.
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Anna MURPHY: "Cellar Darling"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Booyamusic/Prescription 2013
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The folk metal vocalist Anna Murphy's (Eluveitie) first solo album is pop, rock and electronica into a wildly diverse mix, prompting comparisons to a variety of artists ranging from Florence And The Machine all the way to the likes of Jack White and Muse. You may categorize Anna's music as Alternative, although she much prefers the term Eclectica. Responsible not only for the lyrics and music, Murphy takes complete control including co-producing the album with Marco Jencarelli (Soundfarm Studios, Philipp Fankhauser, Dada Ante Portas) and even painting most of the artwork herself. The daughter of Swiss and Irish opera singers is basically the foundation of great vocals.

With a modern production and hypnotic lush keyboards/piano, it's difficult to keep track of all the different tracks (there's a total of 17), styles and genres found on 'Cellar Darling'. One minute, a track like, "Soundwaves", might just remind you of Alanis Morissette (the opening two tracks are the worst in my humble opinion). The next, "Lovelornia", the poppy, catchy, upbeat single with powerful vocals and haunting violins. Not to mention, "Out Of Control", the grand piano ballad feature background vocal chant and alternative arrangement ála Florence and Tori Amos. "Twin Flames", progressive pop metal with out of ordinary vocals. Excellent. The title track tells the story of a morbid fascination and addiction and how it's confronted when feelings like love and affection join the game. The vocals and drum/bass track of "Pale" - The Sugarcubes and Björk of old including extra hi-pitch scream and everything.

Murphy, definitely at her best on simplistic and fragile numbers such as "Epic Fail", "Island", "Red Lights", "Breathe" or "Woebegone". The latter has such a great repeated piano chord arrangement. For reasons best known only to themselves far too many artists are trying to inject as many tracks and styles as possible on their debut releases. It's perhaps the fear of not being able to record the follow-up? or the fact that debuts and their songs often are years of work where the artist goes through several different changes (music-wise). At turns "Cellar Darling" is grandiose, fragile, and perhaps just too quirky? Do not expect to find any of the folk metal of Eluveitie. It's more in the vein of Tori Amos, Björk, Florence and The Machine, the mere hint of Evanescence, and basically pure and naked Art-Pop music with the epic lyrical concept.

Final verdict: Strange and beautiful. And I do enjoy the idea of including the Peggy Lee cover "Johnny Guitar" as the closing track. Clearly not the instant hit album. You need to spin this several times and let it all sink in. Recommended.

VENGEANCE: "Piece Of Cake"

Rating: RRRR
Label: SPV/Steamhammer 2013
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Opening number, "World Arena", a proper belter of a track with roaring guitars and stomping beat. Vocally, Leon Goewie has a haunting metal quality, mad, raspy, hi-pitch and completely riding on his own cloud, yet still blending into the song which soon will have you shouting along to the lines of 'get ready for the global rush'. It's proper metal mania and Vengeance at their best and merely the hint of Lizzy Borden and U.D.O. The great example of how to lure people off the street and into the metal arena - 'Piece Of Cake' really.

Promoted in the 80s under the slogan 'Do You Hate Hardrock? Guess You've Never Seen Vengeance' - the band from Brabant, Netherlands, are finally having/taking the cake and hope to eat it too. I'am really surprised by the high song quality throughout the album. Remove the dodgy rock of the "Train" track (pun intended) and end up with ten songs in the fine tradition of 80s hard rock and metal. The late and great guitarist Jan Somers (RIP) - replaced by his son Timo and he's quite the flashy six-string bender. Check out the impressive tone and style in the bluesy semi-ballad, "Back To Square One".

"Tears From The Moon", the fine mid-tempo song which Kal Swan and Lion would be proud of during their era of Trouble In Angel City. The wet "Raintime" is Vengeance heavy with lots of flowing guitar and "Sandman" is the blunt and direct metal tune with over-the-top vocals by Goewie. "Headquake" and "Mirrors", two completely different animals with A+ quality as their common trademark and ground. Neon Leon goes bezerk during the latter and its Kingdom Come (the band) inspired chorus. Title track 'Piece Of Cake' feature tongue-in-cheek lyric and fun vocals in the grand tradition of Bon Scott. "Goodbye Mother Sky" is the closing epic track that reeks of Arabia and Led Zep.

The bottomline: Older fans may still think of the "Arabia" album as their very best. "Piece Of Cake" is however 'same, same, but different' and loaded with headbanging material. \m/

MAD MAX: "Interceptor"

Rating: RR
Label: SPV/Steamhammer 2013
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

'Interceptor' is in fact the desert car in the original and first Mel Gibson film about Mad Max. The trigger happy post-WWIII road warrior is nowhere to be seen, however, there's a new video game coming up and I believe that free publicity is just as good reason for a new album as any. Mad Max, the band, was formed in 1981 in Münster, Germany, by guitarist Jürgen Breforth and I believe he's the only survivor and original band member since the war (WWIII). Lead vocalist and famed producer Michael Voss (Casanova, Demon Drive, MSG, etc.) joined the band when Andreas Bäsler decided to leave shortly after the recording of their self-titled debut.

Produced by Voss at his own Kidpool Studio in Münster, with the drum recordings completed at the renowned Principal Studios in Senden. The record was mastered at the MSM Studios in Munich, and according to Breforth: "This time we made a conscious decision to allow ourselves more external output, yet without overdoing it". For instance, Herman Ze German - not the ancient Teutonic hero, but former Scorpions' drummer (Rarebell), responsible for the odd song credit as they've decided to let several outsiders have a go at co-writing. The majority of the songs are still pretty melodic and not to be confused with the heavy metal of the early 80s.

Very quick track-by-track. The opening piece "Save Me", the decent Mad Max composition as it should be played, with feeling, passion, smashing guitar work and vocals. Sadly lacking the catchy hook. The following "Godzilla" with its larger than life agenda, as much fun as watching the old movies from Japan featuring the Monster. In other words, pretty boring stuff and merely the bridge is a keeper. Through the rest of their original material, there's the decent melody and guitar work that gives them added kick. "Sons Of Anarchy", very much the 80s sound of Dokken and Pretty Maids only lacking the great refrain. "Five Minute Warning", a fine semi-ballad which Breforth and Voss composed in Nashville in collaboration with American songwriter Van Preston. "Bring On The Night", main guitar riff ála Dokken and Lynch. "Streets Of Tokyo", the Herman Rarebell co-write and I'm told it's been inspired by their MSG Japan tour? Nontheless, decent party rock. "Show No Mercy", the re-recording of the bonus track from the 1987 album Night Of Passion. "Revolution", gritty guitar rock and finally, "Turn It Down", the obligatory and dare I say boring? cover song by The Sweet.

Great production, vocals, and guitar work. Unfortunately a bit too safe in the long run.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

LESLIE WEST: "Still Climbing"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Provogue/Mascot/Warner 2013
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Leslie West - stand up next to a Mountain and chops it down with the edge of his hand - pick up all the pieces and make an island. Might even raise a little sand? It's hardly the Hendrix tribute and even though the title may refer to Mountain's debut album, 'Climbing', this platter might just be slightly heavier than your ordinary West release. Strong as steel and stubborn as a mule - the man fought off cancer, seriously bad diabetes (they eventually had to amputate his leg), drug addiction, and several wind-mills to come up with this fine effort at the mere age of 68?

I believe this to be a very fine effort actually, since it combines raw guitar rock, blues and nice songs nearly throughout the album. Merely a couple of dodgy moments. The first three are simply flawless and opener, "Dying Since The Day I Was Born" isn't particularly far removed from the raw and heavy blues rock of ZZ Top. Lovely gritty vocals and West really goes to town here, all dressed up and ready to knock much younger kids to the ground. "Busted, Disgusted or Dead" with special guest as well as legend Johnny Winter is my definition of cool blues rock including excellent slide work. "Fade Into You" is the very powerful slow-tune, R&B ballad with a catchy hook.

The rural "Tales Of Woe" fit West like a glove and the mix of acoustic guitar and electric lead is a perfect match. The Traffic cover of "Feeling Good" with special guest Dee Snider of Twisted Sister is another goodie where Dee steps up to the plate to hit a homerun with his Rambo-like vocal performance. "Hatfield or Mccoy", rootsy, swampy, roadhouse. "Long Red" is the re-recording of the Mountain song and I guess it's only fair that Les takes another shot at this when you consider that it's been sampled by everybody from Kayne West to Jay Z. I'm however not too keen on the cover of "When A Man Loves A Woman" simply because it's difficult to do justice to the original and Percy Sledge (one helluva singer). It's the duet with contemporary soul/R&B singer Jonny Lang and I guess the result is better than your average cover version.

The gritty voice, borderline savage but never really a problem. Emotional intensity is the key word and the same goes for the man's guitar playing. Mountain is often described as USA's answer to Cream and West worked together with Jack Bruce between the years of 1972-74 in a band simply entitled 'West, Bruce and Laing'. 'Still Climbing' proves that this U.S. Woodstock veteran is still alive and kicking.

HOLY CROSS: "Place Your Bets"

Rating: R
Label: PureSteel 2013
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Could the latest album by Holy Cross hold the secret of how to confuse the listener and to make them believe they're confronted with several different singers? There's merely one of them though and in this case unfortunately one too many. Mickael Champon goes through at least five different stages of the strange metal persona and performances on "Place Your Bets" and the result is confusion and disorder. He's high and low, raspy and raw, but never really on the money.

The rest of the band are trying to keep up appearance by adding lots of fine heavy riffing and solos. The galloping drumming and thrashy bass-lines of highest order. I especially enjoy "Break Your Chains" where the aggressive metal meet more melodic stuff in great fashion and style.

There are times, however, when the singing comes to an abrupt halt and you merely pray for the all-instrumental song and order. All in vain and no such luck. The strange performer continue throughout all the nine tracks. The final chapter of "Higher and Higher", no doubt the best vocal delivery of the day. Alas, it's much too little and too late to save the day, or night for that matter. No one should ever tell Holy Cross what to do with their singer and music. But I would advice them to focus on finding the one style that works the best and not mess around with pitch and range. Not quite at the level of their thrash and metal heroes, this tale is a metal experience that will have this listener reaching for skip. Better luck next time.

Monday, October 14, 2013

BLACK TRIP: "Goin' Under"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Threeman/Playground 2013
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Black Trip, the new Swedish hype metal band consist of guitarist Peter Stjärnvind (Entombed, Merciless, Nifelheim), vocalist Joseph Tholl (Enforcer, Corrupt), drummer Jonas Wikstrand as well as the two former Nifelheim members' Sebastian Ramstedt (guitar), Johan Bergebäck (bass). 'Goin' Under' -their debut album release at Threeman/Playground and it's all very back to basics and NWOBHM. Flat and slightly aggressive vocals in the style of Paul DiAnno (Iron Maiden) and Nicke Andersson (The Hellacopters) and the album is simply bursting with naive/blunt but energized and entertaining Heavy Metal of the very early 80s.

Oh crap. Now I'm in serious trouble. I really shouldn't do the whole comparison to the TV programmes of Channel 4 and Bad News all over again. Especially since it's merely been the silent battle cry of 'Warriors Of Ghengis Khan' or two since last. But honestly, I had no idea reality would knock down our door and hit us over the head with the debut album from Black Trip. They have been listening to all the old metal albums between the years of 1979 to 1983 and especially the likes of Iron Maiden (DiAnno era), Angelwitch, Raven, Mercyful Fate, Saxon, Tygers Of Pan Tang. Add merely the hint of Thin Lizzy and you're pretty close to the core of Black Trip.

In fact, the first single/video of "Radar" is clearly their most Lizzy inspired tune. The other seven tracks reeks of denim and leather, fish and chips, the old belt and wrist-band with pyramid studs, greasy non-poodle hairdo, and the traditional mud and urine-filled bottle barrage at any metal festival in the U.K. during the early eighties. The production is dead on and uncanny while the songs are utter, utter, utter metal. What they lack in orginallity, they make up for in energy, devotion, and sheer desperation. Final Verdict: In the famous words written in the centre of the denim jackets back panel of Vyvyan (The Young Ones: which also feat. Ade Edmondson and Rik Mayall): VERY METAL!

LITA FORD: "The Bitch Is Back... Live"

Rating: Live
Label: SPV/Steamhammer 2013
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Lita Ford is badass. The guitars are so badass. Live albums are... well, not quite as badass. It's now 2013. Can't we just all agree to skip the live album and simply replace them with the fun DVD/Blu-Ray release? Because that's the only badass experience you'll ever have regarding live stuff. Watching AND listening to your favorite acts and artists on screen is clearly the best and only way to go. Wouldn't it be great to have former Runaway aka Lady Lita Ford on your '50 big-screen' roaring, playing and singing the massive rock of "Hungry", "Back To The Cave", "Out For Blood", "Dancing On The Edge", and gulp, "Kiss Me Deadly". Sweet Zombie Jesus! That would be badass!

Starting up the concert recorded at the Canyon Club, L.A. California in early October of 2012 with the Elton John cover "The Bitch Is Back" is odd to say the least. Nothing remotely wrong about the song (originally found on the 1974 album 'Caribou' -featuring the worst artcover ever!) but the people are clearly there for Queen Lita. The band are solid on the evening and get a nice reaction. However, I can't say that I enjoy the rather hollow sound of the snare-drum. The simple and very effective party rock of "Out For Blood" -like a kick to the head, but, I really wish they could perform "Gotta Let Go". Lita is still very much the badass rocker with something to offer even if this particular platter had me longing for the non-existing DVD/Blu-Ray.

Why do I keep typing badass on every line? Lita loudly says and I quote: 'There's nothing like the roar of those guitars man. They are so badass', prior to introducing, "Relentless", and the line kept haunting me throughout the album. Release date Europe: October 28th on digipak. facebook

The BOOMTOWN RATS: "Classic Album Box"

Rating: Sampler
Label: Universal/Mercury 2013
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The Boomtown Rats, you simply can't type shite about the kikkazz band without sounding (inside your head) like the self-promoting genius Paddy git legend of Bob Geldof. It's simply impossible. I can hear Bob's haunting voice right now at this very moment, reading out this very sentence and he's just as pleased as the time when this geezer leapt up from the audience and whacked him on the gob. The photos of Bloody-Bob hit the papers in grand style and I'm sure this piece of art will do the same. No? What? Perhaps not. Did you know the Rats reformed earlier this year? Great! Did you also know they are re-releasing the first six albums in digipak sleeves with attendant bonus material or at least so I'm told. They've sent me the 10-track sampler...

I should probably complain direct to Bob Geldof for that matter. How about some charity work this way mate and the proper product? It's bloody pointless to talk about the Irish gold of The Boomtown Rats and their spanking new box-set, if you're stuck with merely the 10-track sampler and not the actual set. Then again, any publicity is good publicity? What's next? People are sending out books for review that are missing out the last 250 pages. I can tell you that I don't like this particular Monday since it came with a mere sampler of all the albums between the years of 1977 to 1984. Rats indeed. Geldof, you moody legend. Stop revolving around the sun for a moment and come back to earth to help out this poor bastard. I can't review six albums on the 10-track sampler? I'm not Irish for christ's sake and we're not dealing with (small) potatos. Pun intended. Ireland. Potato. No? Nevermind. Dún Laoghaire!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

DEGREED: "We Don't Belong"

Rating: RR
Label: AORRecords 2013
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The Swedes of Degreed proclaim - We Don't Belong - or rather they don't belong. They certainly do not fit any particular category as they combine Melodic Rock and soft Progressive stuff with contemporary and modern pop metal. I guess you can call it Soft Rock? The key ingredient is however melodic melodies with layers of keyboards and their overall sound, at times similar to Platitude, Erik Grönwall (the solo album) and bland Swedish radio P3 music. The best thing about their second release - no doubt the smashing keyboards throughout the album.

I know you're supposed to enjoy this a lot since several people on the web told you so. Then again, the same reviewers praise all the bands and end up raving about everything they review. Why bother typing about music in the first place? Simply put up a sign that reads - They're All Great - and be done with it. I'm a fan of music - not musicians. "We Don't Belong" it's just too sterile, redundant and boring. I expected a lot more considering the decent debut. 'Black Cat' is the nice opener with cool guitar/keyboard work and biting pre-chorus. No, wait, that's the actual refrain? "In For The Ride" is however one great tune from start to end and 'Access Denied' is the high energy power pop tune. The rest are just too similar in structure and style and merely the keyboards are keeping them together.

There's no end, no beginning, dodgy middle section and lack of proper hooks. I noticed that Erik Lidbom has written songs for the album and he's the best selling songwriter in Japan. That explains a lot actually. Don't get me wrong. I love the old and new culture of Japan. The freedom to do what you want - dress up as your fave manga/video game hero or whatever. The hi-tech stuff. Basically, Nippon rules. However, 98% of the Top-50 J-Pop. Not a shred of human involvement nor a single note of real engagement. I don't blame the good people of Japan for that matter since it's mostly Swedish songwriters. 9 to 5 factory made corp. b.s. Seriously, they work in a studio in Sweden and it's like any industrial business. Cold and completely soulless. It's all about the $$$

'Could it be that love is just a four letter line', quote taken from the title track off the album. Could it be that Degreed is just a seven letter word? Could it be that we don't belong?


Rating: R
Label: RockRoad 2013
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The song 'Satan's City Shuffle' is an interesting attempt to break down the boundaries between hardrock and comedy. The title may be an amusing, nostalgic trip down the TV programmes of Bad News and the work of Rik Mayall and co. Unfortunately the guys and doll of Hollywood Burnouts are not trying to re-create the spoof rock of Channel 4 in the U.K. since they are the proper band with proper members such as Chrizzy Roxx and Nikki Sinn. Ehem, wait. Are they German rockers or porn-stars? No idea really as their names are probably straight from the dvd-box of the latter category.

Apparently the first album had the Glam/Sleaze style which clearly didn't work? They are now mixing and trixing the 80's style with third rate 70's Aerosmith shuffle as well as the latest Glam/Sleaze out of Scandinavia (think Reckless Love & Crazy Lixx only worse). Musically, they have sadly not that much to offer, whining vocals and the sod boring mediocrity that local pub bands have done for years and with much better result I may add since their audience are always drunk.

The absolutely best thing about Hollywood Burnsouts - the smashing guitarwork (thumbs up!). The not too shabby rock of "Access All Areas", and of course their ability to believe in rock'n roll. Yes I know. You're supposed to write about music in the old fashioned and boring way. Some old fart geezer set the formula back in 1898 and that's the only way things should be. Don't do anything out of ordinary or you're bound to upset people. So... okay. Rik Mayall and co. they are not, but the irony is that Bad News had more exciting and fun songs (Warriors Of Ghengis Khan!!) and they played Monsters Of Rock. Kick it...