Friday, May 31, 2013

BURNING RAIN: "Epic Obsession"

Rating: RRR
Label: Frontiers 2013
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

And the rain comes crashing down... Doug Aldrich may be best known as the current Whitesnake guitarist, but he is also the main man of Burning Rain. The band released two albums in 1999 and 2000, both of them just re-released by their current label Frontiers. I'll look into them in another review, but let's check out the band's new album "Epic Obsession" first.

When it comes to the production or the performances, it's hard to find any fault in this album. The album sounds great, vocalist Keith St. John is awesome, Doug Aldrich a true axe hero and the rhythm section of Sean McNabb (Bass) and Mat Starr (Drums) has a definite groove. If I was rating only those things, I'd have to give this the full set of R's, but once again it comes down to the songs... and while there are a few fine moments, most of them just don't leave a lasting impression.

There's a certain air of familiarity in these songs. You'll hear a lot of Whitesnake in them, but that's only natural since Aldrich has co-written a lot of 'Snake's recent output. Apart from that, some of the songs remind me of Great White, Gotthard, Aerosmith, early Van Halen, Cinderella... "classic" hard rock stuff. It's just that it's so "by the book" yet the page about truly memorable hooks seems to have been missed. Especially the faster, hard rocking songs seem to pass me by. The slower tracks have more melody, "Made For Your Heart" and "Too Hard To Break" for example, and the full-blown ballads are classy stuff too, especially the album closing track "When Can I Believe In Love".

BURNING RAIN: "Burning Rain" & "Pleasure To Burn" re-issues

Rating: RRR
Label: Frontiers 2013
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Frontiers are being the official rainmakers of this summer by bringing us a trio of Burning Rain releases. These are the band's first two albums re-issued, originally released in 1999 and 2000.
It's classic hard rock with a bluesy vibe all the way, with current Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich showing his chops as a guitarist and a songwriter. Based on these two albums, it was a no-brainer for David Coverdale to choose him as his "wingman", Aldrich sounds like a perfect fit for his band.

The self-titled album showcases a band that is searching for its' own sound. Opening track "Smooth Locomotion" is an uptempo rocker with a lot of Whitesnake in it, second track "Superstar Train" is vintage Van Halen, third one "Jungle Queen" owns a lot to Aerosmith... and so on. Hardly original, but quite enjoyable nevertheless. My favourite tracks are "Making My Heart Beat" and "Can't Turn Your Back On Love", both representing the band's more melodic side.

Second album "Pleasure To Burn" offers more of the same. Somehow the band's sound has gotten closer to that of Whitesnake, possibly a sign of things to come. Even the song titles give that away - "Judgement Day", "Cherie Don't Break My Heart" and... ehh... "Sex Machine". However, the band also managed to write a vintage sounding Eighties "Hair Metal" power ballad in "Faithfully Yours". It's semi-acoustic, romantic and has a big chorus - a sure-fire hit if it had been released in 1988... the album's crowning moment is one of the aforementioned "Snake-like" tracks though - "Cherie Don't Break My Heart". They've packed more melody to this one particular song than to the rest of their catalogue. A special mention must be given to Aldrich's fantastic guitar solo - it's tasteful and very beautiful.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Rating: RRRR
Label: Inside Out
Review by Martien Koolen

Long Distance Calling is a German prog post rock band from Munster and The Flood Inisde is their fourth album. The previous three albums were instrumental albums, but on this new CD you can enjoy Martin Fischer on eight songs and furthemore you hear the voices of Petter Xarlsen and no one less than Vincent Cavanagh of super band Anathema. The album opens with an instrumental song called Nucleus and the first song with vocals is the title track. It kicks off rather heavy, but halfway throught the song becomes more melodic and it ends with a great guitar solo. Tell The End is the leadsingle and it is a rather catchy, or should I say addictive song; maybe the highlight of the album? However Waves and Ductus are also brilliant tracks, mostly due to the amazing melodies in those songs. Cavanagh's voice can be heard in Wecome Change and LDC prove here that they are in for a change. The entire album is rather diverse and the music is awesome and I can really recommend this CD to fans of progressive rock music. Listen and be amazed!

SPOCK'S BEARD: "Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Inside Out
Review by Martien Koolen

Spock's Beard have always been one of my favourite prog rock bands even when Neal decided to leave I still cherised their music and albums. Their last release X (2010) was a masterpiece which was very underestimated altough the reviews were all excellent. Now we have a Spock's Beard album without Nick D'Virgilio, drummer and lead singer from the very first Beard line up and the result Brief Nocturnes... is again wonderful. The lead singer is now no one less than Ted Leonard from Enchant and the new drummer is Jimmy Keegan. The album kicks off with Hiding Out, a great track written by Leonard, who also composed the fourth track called Submerged. Afterthoughts, written by Neal and Alan Morse is a song totally in the vein of theThoughts-series: meaning a capella vocal parts included. Highlight for me is Something Very Strange, a true prog rock classic to be. Waiting For Me is the only epic song of the album, clocking just over twelve minutes and it is a marvellous end to this great album. Just check out the amazing guitar solo in that track by Alan. Brief Nocturnes is a MUST for prog lovers and Spock's Beard is still going strong. Hope to see them in the flesh soon with this new line up and album!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

TROELS SKOVGAARD: "Songs of Life, Love and Lies"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Bosco Productions 2013
Review by: Endre "Bandi" Huebner

Though his music may not at all be described as "mainstream" in this webzine or anywhere else for that matter, Troels' previous albums scored perfect or close to perfect points here. Quality is quality even if no lion manes or poodles hairdos are attached to it. "Songs of Life, Love and Lies" may sound a bit clichéful for a title yet the album itself is musically diverse and definitely value for your money in general. Its artful packaging, its top-notch production: well-balanced mix, brilliant engineering with jingling highs and booming lows and crystal clear vocal tracks and the 10 tracks including no fillers make it a well-justified investment.

It opens up with "Keep On Playing the Blues" a - surprise! surprise! - cool blues-rock number, something Gary Moore would have killed for to have written even in his glory days. Mr Skovgaard's playing lives up to Gary however Troels' vocals are superior by far. Okay, that wasn't saying much anyway...:) but believe me, he sings quite well. Behind every successful man, there is a woman... or two if they are lucky. Well, Troels' wife contributed to this project with the artwork while her daughter added her (lead and backing) vocals. [Richie Blackmore eat your heart out... oh, and this Dane is not forced to wear the clothes of the Court Jester while playing lyres and lutes. ouch!] "Me and Manhattan and You" is a soulful swing tune, if you enjoyed "When I First Kissed You" on the "Pornograffitti" album by Extreme, you'll love this one. There are a couple of other good bluesy tunes and some fine acoustic ballads however these first two tracks got stuck with you for weeks. Those in the favor of a the delta bluese with some jazzy touces should check out "Mrs River" which is a good stomping blues tunes smoothened by a highly melodic refrain and sweet thick backing vocal tracks.

I might be getting old but I really enjoyed the album without getting rocked. I missed the instrumental numbers though, Troels' previous album featured some brilliant instrumental tunes and the 40 minutes total running time is a little short for me however it is better to have 10 good tracks than 2 more fillers. All in all I can't complain, got what I expected, the standards were set high but "Songs of Life, Love and Lies" delivered. Make sure to check it out yourselves.

PHIL VINCENT - “Face It/Solar Flare”

Phil Vincent Music 2013


Review By: Alan Holloway

The mighty oak that is Phil Vincent has been an appropriately solid presence on the melodic rock scene over the past 16 years, churning out no less than 26 albums, 14 of which have been solo efforts. Although he doesn’t tend to make jaws drop, his releases have never been less than entertaining, so I was happy to see this new double CD, even if the cover made me want to run and hide.

The reason that the new album “Face It” comes packaged with “Solar Flare” is that the latter was released last year as a digital only purchase. This, therefore, is Phil’s gift to fans of a physical copy at no extra cost. As usual. PV has done almost everything here, from playing to singing to producing, and I have to say he’s done a bang up job. The sound is clear, with clean vocals and some truly stomping guitar riffs. “Is This All There Is?” for example, thunders along like a freight train, and overall it’s an album that lives or dies by the sheer power contained in the riffs. I may not have heard all of Phil’s albums, but I’ve heard most, and I have to say that “Face It” shows a remarkable staying power, the end result being one of his best. His vocals sound great, his guitar is intricate, the songs are hard hitting as well as melodic, and whilst he still doesn’t give me that “wow” factor I am very happy to listen to this for the foreseeable future.

Inside the double pack you get an excellent shot of Phil’s “gurning” face, but hiding behind that is the bonus album “Solar Flare”. It’s a twelve track full album, and in all honesty stand up very well to “Face It”, although the production feels a bit rougher where vocals are concerned. Nonetheless, it’s another solid offering that will be thoroughly enjoyed by existing fans. Available from Phil’s website or CD Baby, I heartily recommend this bargain double pack of hard, melodic rock.

Official Website:

"Make Up Your Mind" from "Face It":

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Quarto Valley Records


Review By: Alan Holloway

You know, since we’ve been rating bands out of five instead of ten I’ve been very cautious about giving anything the full whack. Yeah, I’ve doled out fours, and for good reason, but until now nothing has warranted digging deep down in my pocket for that extra, special fifth “R”. Well, as you can see that has finally happened with Stuart Smith’s latest Heaven & Earth album, an album that finally sees him with a set band instead of a roster of guest artists, and what a band they are.

Straight off the bat, I have to admit that I am a big fan of Rainbow, regardless of the vocalist. Heaven & Earth’s new singer Joe Retta may not be a ‘name’ to many, but has honed his skills in tribute bands to Led Zep, Queen and the like, and so can basically handle anything that’s thrown at him. Here, he seems to effortlessly straddle classic era Joe Lyn Turner and Ronnie Dio, more toward the former but with hints of the latter. This is a pretty good thing, as band boss Stuart Smith has given us an album that absolutely reeks of classic Rainbow, and in a very good way. Smith himself was taught, in part, by the legendary Ritchie Blackmore, and he seems to have embraced the work of his mentor in a big way.

This is immediately evident on the opening track, “Victorious”, which has the epic feel and middle eastern tweaks of “Stargazer”, with Joe Retta channelling Dio with real style. “No Money, No Love” follows with a gamut of Deep Purple style keyboards, sounding like something from Rainbow’s “Right Between The Eyes” or “Difficult To Cure” albums. The same can be said for “House Of the Blues”, another track that wears it’s blues rock influences on it’s sleeve. We also get more solid rockers, such as “Man & Machine”, with a certain Ritchie Sambora joining the fun, or the energetic “Rock & Roll Does”, which has the pace and energy of “Death Alley Driver”. “A Day Like Today” at first seems like a mis-step, and is more Blackmore’s Night than Rainbow, but after a few spins it gets under your skin, as does the excellent closing ballad  “Live As One”. Throughout the album, Stuart Smith’s talnt shines through like a beacon, with smooth, controlled solos that have a beautiful tone to them, another reinforcement of the retro vibe that runs through the whole album.

If you’ve ever listened to your old Rainbow albums and wondered why Ritchie Blackmore never scaled those heights again, then “Dig” is for you. Twelve tracks long, it’s the epitome of “All Killer, No Filler”, and if you played it to someone without giving any details you would be able to fool them it’s lost Rainbow tracks. Perfectly produced by Dave Jenkins, who allows all the instruments to shine, “Dig” is going to be a very hard album to beat for the “Album Of The Year” tag, and I hope the band stays together as it is for another few albums, because this is a perfect blend - can you dig it?

Official Site:

 "No Money, No Love" Video:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

THE RAINBIRD: "The Tiger Dreams"

Rating: R Label: Injun Records 2013
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
The Rainbird is an Italian band put together by songwriter/guitarist Fabrizio "Bonalien" Bonanno. Their music lies somewhere between sleazy hard rock and AOR, and it lies there wounded and stabbed. While there's likeable elements in some of the songs, all hope is gone when the vocalist starts singing... He is so out of key most of the time that it's sheer torture to listen to these songs. Where's Autotune when it's needed? Wasn't anybody listening in the studio?


Rating: RR
Label: High Road Easy 2012
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

High Road Easy is a band that consists of vocalist Jan Knopf and guitarist/bassist/keyboard player Sven Horlemann. This is their second album. Apparently their first album got good reviews and even producer Beau Hill contacted them after hearing some songs. Now they've put together their second album, and according to their presse release it is "a fantastic rock album"...

Okay, good things first. The album cover looks pretty good, even though similar to a few others (Nickelback's "All The Right Reasons" maybe?). Vocalist Jan Knopf is a deadringer to Steve Shannon of eighties' christian AOR band Idle Cure, which is not a bad thing at all. The production's okay too.

Unfortunately the songs itself are way too bland to leave a lasting impression. The melodies are forgettable and there are no decent hooks to speak of. The only song that stands out is the uptempo "Love Lies Bleeding", it is a pretty good melodic rock track. For the next album, High Road Easy could consider collaborating with outside songwriters and maybe hire a drummer - some of the drumming/programming on this album does more damage than good to the songs.
band website

Thursday, May 16, 2013

SOUND OF CONTACT - “Dimensionaut”

Insideout Music

Rating: RRRR

Review By Alan Holloway

“So, let’s release a 70 minute plus science fiction concept album for our debut. What can go wrong!”. I do wonder if that’s what Simon Collins (his Dad’s called Phil, you may have heard of him) said to his new band members, after he and keyboard player Dave Kerzner had written the thing. Either way, it’s a brave step, but at least thoise who buy it will have no illusions about what sort of band Sound Of Contact are - this is a prog band, and they don’t care who knows it.

To be honest, I only found out today (when I bothered to do some research) that the vocalist and drummer here was Phil Collins’ son. After several listens, I was going to compare him to Phil anyway, as he really does sound quite a lot like him, and if you’re into drumming you will notice similarities there as well. As a kid Simon pretty much grew up with Genesis, and it really shows here, although thankfully it’s the better end of Genesis, not the stuff where they tried to disappear up their own arses.

It all certainly starts off well, with a pretty dull intro giving way to the excellent instrumental “Cosmic Distance Ladder” and then “Pale Blue Dot”, which is a good, solid and catchy track that could have rolled right off of a Genesis album. It slows down a bit after that (this is Prog, after all), but remains solid and interesting with plenty of clever musical tricks and the occasional hook. It’s like an intelligent mix of Genesis, Gabriel, IQ and Frost, delivering the sort of prog that really can be enjoyed by people who generally into “that sort of thing”, a category that I myself fit into quite snugly.

Perhaps a little heavy going for some, “Dimensionaut” is a stunningly mature work, well produced and played by all concerned. There are inescapable echoes of Collins and Kerzner’s influences, yet as a whole it manages to sound fresh and interesting. If you like prog rock, you will like this, that’s a certainty, but if you’re on the fringes then Sound Of Contact are still worth checking out. Cosmic, man…

Official Website:

Album Preview:

Timo TOLKKI'S AVALON: "The Land Of New Hope"

Rating: RRRR
 Label: Frontiers 2013
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Not to be confused with the other Avalon project (the Richie Zito one) released a few years ago on Frontiers, this one marks the return of Timo Tolkki. The former Stratovarius songwriter and guitarist has gone through many ups and downs lately, and to be honest it's been mostly downs, as none of his post-Strato projects really took off. Now with Avalon he seems to be getting more attention and deservedly so.

As this is a "metal opera", there's a storyline running through the album. Set in the near future, a group of people are trying to survive in a world that's been almost completely destroyed by natural disasters. "The Land Of New Hope" is a place that they are searching...

I must admit that I haven't paid much attention to the storyline, I've just enjoyed the songs as they are. Tolkki has delivered a rather fine selection of tunes, ranging from fast power metal anthems to heartfelt ballads. With a great cast of singers and musicians performing them, this really is something special and hopefully a great success for Tolkki.

There's a few songs I especially want to mention: the first single "Enshrined in My Memory" is one of the catchiest songs of this year. With it's Abbaesque melodies it might give a wrong idea about the album, but don't worry, there's plenty of power metal moments on this one, if that's what you're after. The opener "Avalance Anthem", "We Will Find A Way" and "The Magic Of The Night" are such songs, all featuring glorious, anthemic choruses. I find the album's ballads very good too, especially the beautiful "I'll Sing You Home". "Shine" has to be mentioned too, if only for its' similarities to the Nightwish hit "Amaranth"... the vocal melodies in the verses are a bit too close for comfort. And the plot thickens... it's features the vocals of Elize Ryd of Amaranthe?!

Elize, Rob Rock and Russell Allen are the main vocalists on the album, and they do a fine job. Also featured are Sharon den Adel, Tony Kakko and Michael Kiske. The latter sings the epic 9-minute title track, and shows that he still has the "pipes", hitting some insanely high notes.
Timo Tolkki website

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

SNOWFALL - “Cold Silence"

Escape Music

Rating: RRR

Review By Alan Holloway

Escape Music unleash yet another new European AOR band, this time hailing from Norway, rising from the ashes of Winter Parade (Tore Meli and PB Riise), along with Coldspell’s Perra Johnson. Definitely a winter theme with all these guys, but with experienced vocalist Lee Small at the front, do they stand a snowball’s chance in Hell?

“Cold Silence” certainly starts off in the best possible way, with “Don’t Drive Me Home Tonight” establishing itself as one of the catchiest pure melodic rock tracks I have heard this year. Great sound, great chorus, and Lee Small sounds powerful and confident. Follow up “Citadel Of Hope” has a lot to live up to, and somehow manages to keep the excitement going, proving to be a real upbeat stomper with a smooth solo in the middle. Elsewhere they shift from melodic rock to more bluesy based riffage, with “House Of Prayer” thumping out a lick that could have come from Joe Bonamasa. There’s a bit of a droop in the middle, with an okay ballad in the shape of “Heaven’s Not Up There” followed by “Jack Of Diamonds” and “Wolf’s Lair”, both of which tread water instead of surfing the waves. Luckily, after that there’s a sharp upturn in quality, with more smooth AOR layered with keyboards to die for.

This is a very good debut album from Snowfall, with some very sweet tracks and some that don’t quite make the grade. Lee Small doesn’t disappoint on vocal duty and there is plenty of good guitar throughout. Not quite up to four R status, this is nonetheless a quality release.

Band Website:

"Don't Drive Me Home (YouTube):

AMAZE ME - “Guilty As Sin”

AOR Heaven

Rating: RRR

Review By Alan Holloway

Well this takes me back as back in the 90s one of the first bands I reviewed was Amaze me, a collaboration between Conny Lind (Vocals) and Peter Broman (everything else).  They released three pretty decent AOR albums in the 90s, and as such I was looking forward to hear what they were doing nearly fifteen years after their last collaboration.

“Guilty As Sin” is, unsurprisingly, more of the same. It features twelve new compositions, each a well crafted slice of radio friendly melodic rock. It’s one of those albums that doesn’t really put a step wrong, but doesn’t really do anything to, well, amaze me. Tracks Like “Everybody” and the catchy “Save Me” ably demonstrate the duo’s talent, with the latter featuring a sweet little guitar solo and a Night Ranger vibe. Lind has a fine voice and Broman obviously knows his way round a music shop, although the production could certainly turn in a bigger sound.

This is one of those albums that is pretty enjoyable as you listen to it, yet hard to recall ten minutes afterwards. Wholly competent AOR abounds, and I am sure if you enjoyed the old albums you will like it, but for me it’s not got that “oomph” factor, preferring to stay more middle of the road than  a white line. Not a bad album, by any means, just not a great one.

RECKLESS LOVE: "Night On Fire" single

Label: Universal Music 2013
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
It might just be that everyone's completely sick of this song by the end of the summer, but until then, this will probably be one of the songs that define the summer of 2013. It's instantly catchy, it has an easy "whoa-oh" hook for everyone to sing along to and a bouncy beat - what more do you need for a summer hit? This is definitely a stronger first single than "Hot" was and raises the expectations for the album number three. The video's pretty cool too, despite the rather obvious "product placement"... but hey, that probably paid for the flight tickets to the exotic filming location, so more power to them...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

THE POODLES - “Tour De Force”

Frontiers Records 2013

Rating: RRRR

Review By: Alan Holloway

So it’s album number five for Sweden’s most ironically named export, and it’s nice to see that seven years after telling is that “Metal Will Stand Tall” their brand of metal is indeed standing tall. For those not in the know, The Poodles play, essentially, poodle rock. Along with the likes of Norway’s Wig Wam, The Poodles like to play for pure enjoyment, throwing reasonably basic party rock anthems at you, full of riffs and melodies. Hey - someone’s got to do it.

If you’ve ever owned a Poodles album before, “Tour De Force” will not bring many, or any, surprises to the table. What you’re looking for is am album that is strong enough to carry the Poodles name, and this certainly does the job admirably. They certainly set the scene well with album opener “Misery Loves Company”, which is a really big balled barnstormer, followed by the tongue in cheek and very catchy “Shut Up”. Even when they slow it down a bit, there’s still a lot to like, and as a bonus we also get the Swedish Ice Hockey team’s official song “En For Alla For En”, which is, I think, the band’s first Swedish language song! Good track, though, and something any player should be proud to skate out to.

All in all, “Tour De Force” sounds great. It’s got a  great mix, well written songs and plenty of crunch where it’s needed. The Poodles may not be trying anything particularly new, but they certainly make good heavy rock/pop.glam noises, and that’s all that matters.

Official Website:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Neil DANIELS: "The Early Years With Bon Scott" (book)

Publisher: Impbooks 2012
Review by The Bailey Brothers

We were there in 1976 for the “Lock Up Your Daughters “ UK tour and have been fans of AC/DC ever since. This book not only rekindled many fond memories of early AC/DC it will take you right back to those pre Bon Scott days during the Dave Edwards era. You get an insight into the work ethic of the young brothers who would cut an album in a few weeks playing live in the studio and re dubbing a few guitar and vocal parts.

From their humble beginning to super stardom the songs have a life story of their own and their journey is skilfully recaptured by the author Daniels. Although the book may have lacked any direct interview with the current band the book has a chronological flow to it with accounts from critics and former band members. Quotes from the current band members to other publications over the years have been blended into the book to add a little weight to the era. The book is like a family tree of one of the world’s favourite Rock N Roll bands from their humble beginning to the end of the life of the great Bon Scott. Brian Jonson’s era is also documented.

This is not a band that is fading with time. AC/DC have remained a major force coming through the punk, prog rock. glam, NWOBHM, rap, death metal and every genre you can mention. It’s all about the live experience, those infectious riffs, those tongue in cheek lyrics, that school boy uniform, those wild solos, the sweat and grind of a powerhouse rock solid rhythm section and a band giving 100% every show. That’s how you remain a stadium band. In capturing their early years Neil Daniels has shown that if you remain true to yourself and the music you believe in the fans will follow your journey to the end.
Author Website

N.O.W.: "Bohemian Kingdom"

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

The first N.O.W. album "Force Of Nature" was a decent enough debut, but lacked some urgency. For this second effort, songwriter Alec Mendoca has done what I hoped he'd do, the songs sound much more passionate. Of course, the superb and intense vocals of Philip Bardowell add a lot to the overall picture. Still, although the songs are intense and passionate, they're still kind of soothing and mellow in a good way. Nice combination.

"Bohemian Kingdom" is the kind of album that could appeal to the fans of Foreigner, Journey, Harlan Cage or even Deep Purple's lighter moments. If you want to check out some tunes, I'd strongly recommend "I Feel Divine" with its' magical chorus, the Eddie Money meets Harlan Cage like "Tonight Is The Night" and the title-track which has a bit of a Survivor vibe. The unusually titled ballad "Leon's Going Soft" is something special too, with a stronger chorus it could've been a future AOR classic, now it's just very good.

You won't find a bad song on the album, each one of them has something to sink your teeth into. Mind you, this is not an instant album and I took me a a couple of spins to get hooked to these melodies... worth the effort I'd say.

Monday, May 6, 2013

ARTLANTICA - “Across The Seven Seas”


Rating: RRRR

Reviewed By: Alan Holloway

The first time I listened to this album (after having got over the ridiculously pretentious band name) I wasn’t too impressed. To me it felt like just another progressive power metal album, competent but nothing special. The thing is, you have to give albums a proper chance when reviewing them, so I gave it a few more spins, then a few more, then I just kept playing it for fun. First impressions? Fuck ‘em, don’t trust ‘em.

Although the name on the cover is Artlantica, this is another project by Swiss guitarist Roget Staffelbach, who has brought in the vocalist from his previous bands Angel Of Eden and Artension, the ever reliable John West (see also Royal Hunt and many more). Also on board is keyboard maestro Mistheria and power prog drum legend John Macaluso. All in all, this is a pretty solid line up with no weak link, and this shows in the resulting music.

What we have in ‘Across The Seven Seas’ is a true power prog album. Although there’s no epic, overlong songs, the entire album is held together by intricate, passionate instrumentals, switching effortlessly from powerful and fast to atmospheric, weaving themselves around West’s excellent vocals. A few time whilst listening to it people thought I had an Iron maiden album on, and it’s a fair comparison for some tracks as they gallop along with a very classic Maiden rhythm, although the solos are more, shall we say, widdly, and there is also, obviously, keyboard solos thrown in as well. There are some glorious guitar and keyboard parts throughout, but with Staffelbach and Mistheria on the same album that’s sort of a given.

Despite my initial reservation, I can heartily recommend Artlantica as a powerful, superior power metal bunch. Existing fans of the band members previous projects will find themselves in hog heaven, whilst others who like Stratovarius, Eden’s Curse or even old school Maiden should have a ball.

band Site (Facebook):

Sunday, May 5, 2013

DIVIDED MULTITUDE: "Feed On Your Misery"

Rating: RRR
Label: Nightmare Records 2013
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
I don't really know what to make of this band. This is their fifth album but the first one of theirs I've heard, so I can't compare it to their previous efforts. Not that it really matters. They've been called a "progressive metal" band by some and I won't argue with that, but yet another Dream Theater copycat they are not. Superb musicianship is displayed but not forcefed, and the lenghts of the tracks are pretty normal, the longest ones being around 7 and a half minutes. What's more, the band can write dangerously sharp hooks when they want to. Some of their choruses just jump at you when you're least expecting them... take the video track "Scars" or the album's title track for example.
Vocalist Sindre Antonsen has a singing style that's maybe a little "acquired taste", ranging from clean, melodic singing to an almost growl-like, very "manly" singing. He's got the voice but at times one feels that he's maybe trying a bit too hard. Take the chorus of the Queensrÿche-influenced "Crimson Sunset" for example - a bit less excited vocal performance would not have hurt!
An interesting album that certainly has its' merits, but could have used some more polishing and few more of those killer hooks.