Thursday, May 29, 2014

VANITY BLVD: "Wicked Temptation"

Rating: RRRR
Noisehead Records 2014
Review by Rich Dillon

It almost seems that Sweden has become the new Sunset Strip of late 80’s L.A. turning out a veritable force of sleaze and glam rock bands and the Avesta/Stockholm based Vanity BLVD is no exception! 

Being a “judge a book by the cover” kind of guy sometimes, the first thing I look at with a new album, especially if the band is unknown to me, is the album artwork.  In this case Vanity BLVD’s latest offering, Wicked Temptation, showcases artwork that just screams sleaze.  Perfect, can’t wait to spin this one…….

Opening up with “Dirty Rat” just confirmed all of my suspicions about this release and band with its piss and vinegar type of attitude laden riffs and lyrics.  “Miss Dangerous” gets the fist pumping and keeps the record moving through to “Do or Die” for which there’s a video accompaniment. ("Do or Die" Official Video)  From there we get into “Hot Teaser”, a really catchy track dripping with sleazy lyrics that could well be the “top of the heap” here for me.  And that’s only the first four selections of an eleven track complement, the rest following right along making a fine collection sure to please fans of the genre, the only low point being the ballad “Falling Down”.

Given my enjoyment of Wicked Temptation I was wondering why I had not crossed paths with Vanity BLVD. previously.  There is not a lot of information readily available on the history of the band and even their Facebook page (VanityBLVD) offers only “let the music do the talking ;)” under the biography column.  Aside from their formation in 2005 and the debut release, Rock N Roll Overdose, being issued in 2008 the only deduction I can make is that they’ve endured some line up adjustments over the years since formation.  This current slice of dirty, glammy heaven features Traci Trexx wielding the axe while Pete Ash handles bass and Jens Gebb sits behind the kit.  The trio of guys are led by the sometimes sultry, occasionally gruff vocal prowess of Anna Savage.  A definite must for anyone loving the glam era of the late 80’s.

MIRACLE MASTER: "Tattooed Woman"

Rating: RRRR
Label: GoldenCore Records/ZYX 2014
Review by Rich Dillon

Have you ever heard of the band Miracle Master?  No worries, me neither until I was sent their debut release for review, but I do suspect however that that will change.  The band issued their debut effort, Tattooed Woman, in March via GoldenCore Records/ZYX Music with whom Miracle Master has penned a worldwide record deal.  Proclaiming Stuttgart as their hometown, Miracle Master has also teamed up with the folks at Germany’s RockNGrowl Management.  They are comprised of the former members of the band Pump with drummer Andy Minich, bassist Michael Vetter and the double axe assault of Aki Reissmann and Selly Bernhardt.  The departure of Pump vocalist Marcus Jurgens made way for the addition of Oliver Weers to form Miracle Master.

Unsure what to expect by looking at the album cover, which invokes a Wild West kind of feel resembling a movie one-sheet promo poster that’s almost a cross between Gone with the Wind and a Quentin Tarantino feature if that makes any sense.  All doubts were instantly washed away with this hefty slab of dirty hard rock.  There’s nothing too complicated or out of control here, just straight ahead grinding hard rock riffs with a modern twist from time to time and enough solos, none of which are too over the top, to shake a stick at.

Although my ears were perked up right at the start with the opener “Come Alive” and it’s follow up of “Fly Away” I found that the album just seemed to improve as the listen went on.  The top tracks for me are “Stay With Me” featuring a lowdown, grinding riff uplifted with a melodic chorus, “Miracle Masters” with it’s blistering fast pace that just seems to be over too soon and the finale of “We All Touch Evil” leaving you hungry for another track, so you press play once again.  All the compositions contained are hard rock delights even the Nickelbackish (of whom I am most certainly not a fan) sounding title track, “Tattooed Woman”, and I recommend that you keep an ear to the ground on Miracle Master!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Rating: N/A
Label: Agualoca Records 2014
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Gather around the bonfire! Bring out your grand piano, cello, ukulele, flugelhorn, classical guitar, and glockenspiel, it's time to replace your muddy mosh pit with the London/Naples-based acoustic trio which reinterprets famous Metal songs in the unique way and style. It's one of those *I remember when I first heard* moments as Driving Mrs Satan is something waaay different from your ordinary album of metal covers. And to be completely honest... I'm fed up listening to covers that sound exactly like the originals (only worse) anyhow.

Cleverly done and performed with love to the original genre as well as to the pure joy of transforming them into sophisticated, jazzy, at times almost medieval, indie pop numbers with sulky and sexy female vocals by Claudia Sorvillo. One thing's for sure. You have never heard the following songs performed quite like this before: "I Want Out" (Helloween), "Battery" (Metallica), "Killers, 2 Minutes To Midnight, Can I Play With Madness" (Iron Maiden), "Caught In a Mosh" (Anthrax), "Killed By Death" (Motorhead), "Hells Bells" (AC/DC), "Never Say Die" (Black Sabbath), "South of Heaven" (Slayer), "From out of Nowhere" (Faith No More).

There's been lounge albums with their versions of Metal anthems in the past (horrible ones), but not quite like this. Avant-garde or avant-pop? Completely different from the originals yet with the familiar structure and arrangement, the trio's playful interpretation of "Battery", "Can I Play With Madness" or "Never Say Die", gets the new meaning and dimension to the listener. Some tracks are better than others and it's clearly not your new all-time fave album. Nonetheless. The gentle sound gets to you and it's simply just nice to have this playing in the background. So now you know, Metal is Driving Mrs Satan only with the fuel of soft U.K. indie pop?

Monday, May 26, 2014

SEVEN: ”s/t”

Rating: RRRR
Label: Escape Music 2014
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Seven were a UK-based band that managed to achieve prestigious supports slots (Brother Beyond, Richard Marx) and a major record deal with Polydor. Their story lasted from 1989 to 1990, during which they released two singles, both of them produced by John Parr. The singles charted in the lower steps of the UK top 100 chart and were supported by music videos. You can check out the videos (”Inside Love” and ”Man With A Vision”) on YouTube. Those videos show that the band had a rather clean-cut, pop image, which probably helped them to win over the audiences of Brother Beyond and… Jason Donovan.

Now, only 24 years later, the band has released their first album. The mastermind behind the release is Escape Music boss Khalil Turk, who met the band’s bass player Pat Davey when he was working on another album for the label. His enthusiasm lead to this album being recorded. Thanks to modern technology the fact that the two of the band members live in South Africa and the rest of them in the UK doesn’t mean a thing, Swedish producer Lars Criss just kept the files flying and finally put together this rather fine album.

Compared to the two singles of the early nineties, the reformed Seven is more clearly a rock band. Criss has given their sound a bit more crunch, without losing the band’s pop sensibility. Keyboards are heavily featured and the band’s harmonies are smooth as ever.

The Seven 2014 sounds a bit like a mixture of early FM, Foreigner, Boston and RTZ. The band’s sound has been somewhat updated but this is still probably one of the more ”classic AOR” styled albums of this year. Highlights for my money include the revamped ”Inside Love”, the very Foreigner-sounding ”Still”, ”Strangers”, ”Thru The Night” and the keyboard-heavy ”Don’t Break My Heart”. The rest of them aren’t bad either. Yeah, this is a very strong ”RRRR” album. Good things come to those who wait… even if it’s for 24 years.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Tarja TURUNEN & Mike TERRANA: "Beauty & The Beat"

Rating: Live
Label: earMUSIC/Edel 2014
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

... And now for something completely different. Replace the 'S' from beast with your nutty drummer and get Finland's one and only royalty to sing... ehh, well, the unusual stuff at her usual range and you're all set for the classical evening of Bach, Struass, Dvorak, Puccini, Offenbach, Rossini, and Mozart (13 tracks: disc one). The full orchestra and choir (approx: 100 folks on stage) doing their parts perfectly, I'm surprised this off-the-chart project doesn't take place in the Sauna after all? It's clearly hotter than hell and especially the first disc where Tarja's vocal performances really shines like those poor Chernobyl kids (they glow in the dark you know).

Originally intended as the one-time event in 2011, the show garnered critical adoration from fans and media alike. In the Spring of 2013, Turunen, and the bloke at the back of the stage, Terrana, brought these eclectic sounds to the stage again, touring throughout the world, from Poland to Russia to Mexico, all captured on this very 2CD set, Beauty & The Beat. Classical music kicks major butt and it's definitely Tarja's territory. Make especially sure to check out her versions of "Vilja Lied" (Lehar) and "Mein Herr Marquis" (Strauss) as those two are 'nearly up there amongst the very best. The drummer bang along to the beat of "William Tell Overture" (Rossini) and "Ein Kleine Nachtmusik" (Mozart) and it's all very... decent? Simply bring back the Finn on stage...

Disc two (8 tracks) kicks off with "You Take My Breath Away" (Queen) before going into Turunen's "The Reign" and "Witch Hunt", which eventually turn into the 8-minute Led Zeppelin medley consisting of "Kashmir", bits of "The Immigrant Song", pieces of "Stairway to Heaven" and plenty of high-pitch wailing notes. The final words goes to Tarja T and I quote, "I believe this kind of combination of instruments, particularly playing mainly classical music, is very unique. I have been making collaborations with orchestras before and I could foresee a great outcome. Our main goal with these kind of concerts is that the younger audience experiences the beauty and power of a symphonic orchestra and choir. Hopefully it will serve as an introduction to classical music for some of our fans". Good on ya' Tarja. You little ripper... and not to mention Beauty. Recommended.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

LILLIAN AXE: ”One Night In The Temple”

Rating: RRRR
Label: Melodicrock Records 2014
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Although I’ve liked Lillian Axe since 1989 when I first heard their ”Love+War” album, a few things were against this album and I was kind of hesitant to listen to it. First of all, most live albums I own haven’t been getting a lot of ”airplay” in this household, I usually go for the studio versions if I want to listen to something. Secondly, the recent Lillian Axe material has been on the heavier side of things, with guitarist/songwriter Steve Blaze’s unique melodies buried under heavy riffs and dark atmosphere. To my surprise, this album has been getting a lot of spins recently, and some of these ”unplugged” versions of the newer songs bring them to life quite nicely.

New vocalist Brian Jones doesn’t have an easy task with the older songs, which have been etched in my memory sung by Ron Taylor, one of my all-time favorite singers. To be honest, some of the ”classics” just sound a bit ”wrong” with Jones singing them, but that’s just me and my memories. He does a very decent job after all.

The two songs from the first album (”Misery Loves Company” and ”Nobody Knows”) feature vocalist Johnny Vines, who was in the band during its’ formative years. I had no idea that Taylor wasn’t the original singer, but you learn something new everyday. Vines is a good singer too, and does a fine job on the two songs. I just wish Blaze could’ve lured Taylor to the show to sing a few of his signature numbers…

Highlights for me include ”The Day I Met You” with Anne Young-Bridges on violin, ”The Great Divide”, ”The World Stopped Turning” and ”The Promised Land”, to name a few. All in all this is a very enjoyable album, with the emphasis on the fine melodies of the Lillian Axe songs.


Sunday, May 18, 2014


Rating: DVD
Label: Eagle Vision 2014
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Super Duper Alice Cooper - what a trooper! From Banger Film, the creators of Iron Maiden: Flight 666 and Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage, comes the story of Vincent Furnier, the preacher's son who struck fear into the heart of America in the seventies. Good luck with that now as people have seen the most horrible things over the internet for the past twenty years. Anyhow. They promote this as the definitive story of The Coop, that's simply not true in my humble world and opinion. The Bangers decision to end the film at the Halloween 1986 comeback MTV happening is weird. There's not a single word of Coop's real comeback (Trash/1989) or anything post-1986 for that matter. It's basically the definitive story of the 70's... with just a hint of the early 80's (his worst and most tragic period). The man was locked up at the Sanatorium for pete's sake.

It's otherwise a smashing DVD that combines audio interviews with a wealth of archive footage covering concerts, TV appearances, movie cameos, and magazine spreads. Coop' himself as the main narrator with Dennis Dunaway as the sidekick and special guests such as Elton John, Iggy Pop, John Lydon and Dee Snider. It goes back to Furnier/Dunaways' first encounter in high school. Playing Yardbirds' covers and moving to L.A. where they get the drug dealer of the rock stars (Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, etc.) as their first manager and being signed to Frank Zappa's label. Frank wanted their first album to sound and I quote, 'like if I'm driving by a garage and the band is practising'. Reviews such as a tragic waste of plastic and weird stage performances made them the most hated band in L.A.

Watch them leave the L.A. scene for Detroit, the very opposite to La-la-land where anybody who played loud and anti-society music was accepted. Iggy Pop and MC5 are the house Gods and Alice' audience was a new audience by now. Kids on the lunatic fringe of society, the ones that were left out. Hooking up with Bob Ezrin and the outrageous live show where theatrics such as chopping up baby dolls would really drive the parents crazy, turned a bunch of losers to winners or at least for a while. "Giving Alice Cooper a hit was like the lunatics running the asylum". You get to experience the tension between Alice/Vince and the rest of the band as the singer went barking mad on alcohol, coke, and not to mention fame. The latter part being the worst addiction of them all. Vincent or rather Alice truly believed in the b.s. and thought of himself as a God for a good part of the seventies.

"We've killed a chicken in front of 70,000 hippies" - It's just too darn easy to blame everything on the "character" of Alice Cooper instead of Vincent Furnier. We are presented with the Jekyll and Hyde tale including footage from Lon Chaney's silent movie and everything. In the end, it's all down to Vincent and the choices he made and everything else is b.s. and lies. I doubt the audience of this film will buy the whole, "but now I was Alice and Alice had a life of his own". That's (dis)illusion at its worst form and shape. And why Michael Bruce (the guitarist and creator of many classic Alice riffs) has been removed from the movie is just weird since there's not a single mention of his work!? Bonus material are deleted scenes, rare footage's and the Metal Evolution interviews. It's a smashing film and story, but sadly not the complete story. Let's hope for a part: 2 in the future? One thing's for sure though. I never quite understood how big of a star Alice truly was in the 70's prior to watching this. Highly recommended.

CALIFORNIA BREED: "California Breed"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Frontiers 2014
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Alla heter Glenn i Göteborg! Alla heter Glenn i Göteborg! Alla heter Glenn, Alla he... ehh, sorry, my bad. 'The Voice' shots from the halfway line and scores with a massive in-your-face album only worthy of a veteran player that goes under the name of Glenn. Fuzzy, groovy, Glenny! You know what to expect and there's really no need for me to tell you what you get. It's plain and simple Glenn. Nothing more, nothing less. It's blues and funk rolled into one massive roller coaster and it's pretty timeless stuff with just the right amount of over-the-top vocals and wicked bass-lines (that's if you're already a fan of The Glenn).

He may look like shite in 2014 with that hairdo 'ala desperate trying to be the 18 year old punk. But man, those pipes, those pipes are calling to every fan of uber groovy classic rock. It's really the album effort with 12 typical rockers that also may attract fans of artists such as Lenny Kravitz or the oldies of the late sixties. I would be a lie to say it's the fresh and original take at rock music with a broader, more open minded musical spectrum than previous effort by The Voice. However, the original Glenn has been doing these sort of albums for close to 45 years.

California Breed consist of Jason Bonham (yes, the son of, you know) and young gun slinger Andrew Watt on guitars. It's raw and loud rock with enough of stamina to take out Mike Tyson in the 9th round (note: old boxer - Tyson). This and KXM are the groove albums to get as of lately and you're simply supposed to groove along to the melodies and never mind trying to find the radio hit or whatever. It's the sound of Glenn and his mere name is an urban legend of Gothenburg.

Neal SCHÖN: "So U" (Journey)

Rating: RRR+
Label: Frontiers 2014
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Warum bist du nicht so (Neal) Schön? That's easy. According to your average know-it-all, he's quite the pompous U.S. guitarist with no connection to proper blues or jazz for that matter? Now hold your horses and let me explain this outrageous statement further. We all know of the German? as the superb guitarist from Journey and Bad English for that matter. There's no doubt whatsoever about his ability, skill or flashy moves and technique. We do like his fretwork and absolutely love the clean tone usually found on the Journey/Bad English albums, however (here's your big 'but'). He might just have the reputation of being too posh for the blues?

I'm obviously talking about his perfect (amp) studio guitar sound. They even describe his tones as 'absolutely luxurious' in the press-release. Well... excuse me. There's no lux in proper blues. At least not according to my books. It's gritty, dirty, muddy, raw, and basically out of control movements from your waist down. The Les Paul on this record is definitely fuzzier than usual and keep in mind that Schön started out as backup guitarist in Santana's band. The "posh" guitarist has joined forces with bassist Marco Mendoza (Black Star Riders, Ted Nugent, Whitesnake) and drummer Deen Castronovo (Journey, Ozzy Osbourne, Steve Vai, Hardline) to create a fusion of jazz and blues-inspired virtuosic hard rock playing. The new album features Schön, Mendoza and Castronovo splitting vocal and writing duties, with many of the tracks also co-written by Night Ranger/Damn Yankee's songwriter, singer and bassist Jack Blades.

The opening number (Take a Ride) display the blues and the rather fuzzy guitar work by Schön. "Exotica" is the instrumental jazz/fusion track with excellent fret bass work by Mendoza and it's all very Santana somehow. "What You Want" is the sound of blues and Glenn Hughes and Mendoza does his best to channel Hughes' on the record. "Love Finds It Way" takes you back to the sound of Journey and their semi-ballads as Castronova does his very best to channel Perry. Add the hint of Sting and you're close to the core. "On My Way" and "Shelter", yet a couple of numbers in the style of Hughes and "Serenity" is the fun AOR rocker in the style of Journey on a date with Triumph (the band, not the bike/car).

Final verdict: Nine tracks, not a single crap tune, perhaps not enough of superb ones either? never quite the blues, jazz, or melodic hardrock. It's a fusion with several different faces and styles. Not bad, not bad at all. Ganz (Neal) Schön beachtlich, nicht wahr? nicht? no?

Timo TOLKKI's Avalon: "Angels Of The Apocalypse"

Rating: RRr
Label: Frontiers 2014
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

What? yet another Avalon? Angels of The Apocalypse? I wonder what Bryan Ferry thinks about all this? Never mind. Too busy trying out his suit of the day. The former Stratovarius' creator and six-string bender return with the second album of the Metal Opera concept with a sound and bombastic music in an even more symphonic metal mood, even though from the beginning there was the idea to go in a heavier and darker direction which better fits the Apocalyptic scenarios described in this new album. The four angels to watch mankind and its destructive behaviour are named after the elements – Fire, Wind, Earth and Water (EZO?). Mankind gets its final warning before judgement day and the Pandora's Box is opened and the forces of Nature (Angels?) are unleashed.

Ehh. Yes. Excellent. Whatever. Most of these stories are whack anyhow. However. The fine vocal cast include the new Nightwish singer Floor Jansen, Simone Simons (Epica), Fabio Lione (Rhapsody Of Fire), David DeFeis (Virgin Steele), Zachary Stevens (Savatage, Circle II Circle), Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) and Chilean singer Caterina Nix, who is working on her debut album which is also produced by Tolkki (surprise, surprise!). It's the over-the-top story and concept album with songs such as, "The Rise of The 4th Reich", except that Defries (Virgin Steele) sings "rike" (rhymes with bike) and it's clearly not the German pronouncement at play. The second rate Manowar anthem or if you prefer Virgin Steele?

It's always difficult to turn a grand concept on paper to the real, emotionally charged music album generated by all those different musicians and singers. Tolkki certainly has the know-how at his best and some of these tracks are just outstanding. Impressive guitar work as always throughout the album. Hardly everything that glitter is gold though. "You'll Bleed Forever" is the ambitious ballad gone wrong as you've literally heard the melody a thousand times before. "High Above Me" is the proper ballad of the album. "Neon Sirens" takes a lot from Yngwie at first (intro) before it goes straight down the abyss and to the bin. There's a obvious love for a good Meat Loaf styled story within this album. It's never quite 'there' though and the ladies of the album comes to Tolkki's rescue (more than once) with some excellent vocal performances.

Robert CRAY Band: "In My Soul"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Provogue/Mascot 2014
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Robert Cray Band and their latest offering to the Gods of soul and blues. It is almost more soul in style than blues this time around and Cray's voice is tailor made for this kind of music. Add to this tasteful guitar work in the old school tradition and you're in for a major treat.

"In My Soul" is the mix of Cray originals and covers of Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes and Bobby Bland. Cray actually manage to put down his own imprint and versions of both "Nobodys Fault But Mine" and "Your Good Thing's About To Come To an End" and that's definitely easier said than done. Originals such as "Fine Yesterday" is the sound of the early 70's and the same could be said about "What Would You Say". The latter such a fine and soft R&B ballad with a mere hint of the basic structure of Stairway To Heaven. Well. Not that strange considering that Led Zeppelin stole and borrowed from all the R&B classics. The superb ballad, "Hold On", goes straight to the heart and it's my very definition of classy soul (food).

I love Me 70's R&B and Soul! So what if I'm merely the beginner fan of the genre? I still have a lot to discover since it's only been a part of my ever growing music collection for a short period of time. Yeah. I know. But I'm excited about finding out "new stuff" about the oldies and going waaay back in time. And at least I'm not stuck in a special time and era or just the one style and genre. Would I have enjoyed Robert Cray and his band at the age of twelve? No. Of course not. But that's the whole point of my rambling. The Stax sound is present from the very first to the last note and I like it.

ELVENKING: "The Pagan Manifesto"

Rating: R+
Label: AFM 2014
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The Pagan Manifesto does much to justify their self-proclaimed likeness to kitsch and fantasy folk power metal? Throw in the violin every now and then and it's sometimes a sort of different approach to kitsch than your fellow Italians of Rhapsody (Of Power). I believe it's their 8th studio album by now and it becomes apparent that the Elvenkings are merely a bunch of wanna bee's or has been's. Nothing here stands out above the rest of the tracks and it's just a mish-mash of fairy's and elves - it's all the same to me. J.R.R. Tolkien wouldn't approve though.

Love'em or hate'em, The Elvenkings return with yet another packed CD of almost-songs as they deliver their over the top metal the extravaganza way of living. I'm not quite sure why the great Amanda Somerville bother to turn up for the guest appearance, but her performance is head and shoulder above the rest of the pack. The extremely shouty choir-like backing vocals throughout the majority of the album gets on your nerves in the long run. It's the layer upon layer effect which tend to sound like (Italo) Disney to these ears. Hello Mickey? I'm Goofy...

STRATOVARIUS: "Nemesis Days" (DVD)

Rating: DVD
Label: earMUSIC/Edel 2014
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The deluxe version of Nemesis or the brand new 80 minute DVD documentary? Both actually as you receive the 2013 studio album as the bonus CD. Their best album in ages and it's poppy/catchy material wins you over in the end. The DVD on the other hand is unfortunately the rather sloppy, second rate production, and my humble advice would simply be hire the English production team for your next documentary. Glass houses anyone? Yeah. Sure. Nonetheless. The overall structure and close to naive approach to everything from set-up to layout and Q&A, makes you believe they picked the less expensive (read: dead cheap) and certainly not the best production team.

Fast forward/skip the annoying intro and straight to band interviews (Q&A) and classics such as: 'if you had to pick one song from Nemesis. Do you feel any pressure from the other band members. How do you get ready for a tour. What do you feel 5 minute before the show. Choose one Stratovarius classic song. Choose your fave album'. Choose this, that, and what not really. You know, the basic Q&A formula to your standard e-mail interview. Perhaps not the technique you'd use for the high-tech DVD documentary? The answers you receive are usually as dry and boring as the questions. Before the show, "sometimes you're quite, sometimes you're loud". Regarding the tour, "the worst part is the waiting".

Albeit, since there's not a single original member of the band, you have the rather unique approach to Q's such as: Do you remember the first time you heard a Stratovarius song? I'm not entirely sure it's appropriate though? Spinal Tap to the rescue? You don't ever feel like you've learned anything (about the band) from watching this and when Matias describe Jens as ancient in their 'one word' game, well, that's sadly the funniest as well as the best moment of the entire disc. I can't imagine that any member of the band would be pleased with the DVD? The best section? The bonus videos of Halycon Days. Unbreakable. If the Story is over. Deep Unknown. And Under flaming skies. Final verdict: Good music - not so good DVD concept and production.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Rating: RRR
Label: Melodicrock Records 2014
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Ferreira's fifth album had the misfortune of being sent to us at the same time as the latest Stan Bush release (both on Melodicrock Records). I downloaded the files, and added them to my mp3 player so that I could listen to them on the way to work... because of the way the files were named I got to listen to one Stan Bush track, then one Ferreira track and so on. The inevitable comparison worked in Stan's favour, Ferreira's tracks sounded a bit flat next to his superbly produced album. Now I've been listening to the Ferreira tracks on their own, and they have grown on me. I still think that some of them could be a little more lively or colourful, but this isn't a bad sounding album at all.

Ferreira's style reminds me a bit of Firehouse and Nelson. There's a lot of backing vocals and harmonies and Marco Ferreira's voice is similar to that of the Nelson brothers. The highlights of the album for me are "You're No Friend of Mine", "Night To Remember" and the harder-edged "Sometime's Love's Not Enough" (no, it's not a Patty Smyth cover). I could've done without the closing track "In The End", an almost Pink Floydian ballad which sounds drastically different to the rest of the album and frankly quite dull.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

WALTER TROUT: "The Blues Came Callin'"

Rating: RRRRR
Label: Provogue/Mascot Label Group
Review by Martien Kolen

 Walter Trout has been working as a solo artist for 25 years and that calls for a celebration. But as you already may know Walter Trout is very ill at the moment, so the festivities will have to wait. Despite Walter's illness he continued touring, writing, playing, singing and even recording. So, very soon, the 5th of June, to be precise, Trout will release his new album called The Blues Came Callin'. The theme of the album is coloured by Trout's confrontation with mortality combined with a deep, all abiding drive to persevere.

 The new album, recorded throughout 2013 and early 2014 features 12 new songs of which 10 are originals. One, Mayall's Piano Boogie was written by John Mayall and the other one called The Whale, is a J.B. Lenoir cover. The Blues Came Callin' is one of Walter Trout's best albums, especially the amazing guitarsolos in Wastin' Away, The World Is Going Crazy, The Whale and Born In The City belong to the best solos Trout has ever recorded. Tight Shoes is an instrumental song and shows Trout's ability to play very cool and to express something special and emotional even without singing a single word. The only cover on the album, The Whale, was originally composed and played by J.B. Lenoire and it is a slow blues track with two mean and lean guitar solos, Another highlight is The Bottom Of The River, as the story deals with what Trout has been going through recently and musically this is a typical `old fashioned` Trout blues track. But Walter saves the best for last as Nobody Moves Me Like You Do, written for his wife Marie, is the absolute guitar highlight of the album. Walter Trout and the blues come full circle with this amazing album and The Blues Came callin' is one of the best blues rock albums I have heard in a long time.

Hats off for Walter, this is a superb album and now let's hope and prey that Walter will get his new liver soon and get better, so that he can make more albums like this one.


Rating: RRR
Label: PIAS/Rough Trade
Review by Martien Koolen

The 4th album of the Dutch metal band Stream Of Passion called A War Of Our Own came about through campaign crowd funding. Stream Of Passion was found in 2005 by singer Marcela Bovio and Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon), and their new album is more progressive and has lots of more melodic passages than the previous three albums. The CD kiccks off with the up tempo Monster, which is kind of aggressive and features a very catchy chorus. The title track is rather orchestral and is a fast and magnificent power ballad with lots of keys and the beautiful voice of Bovio.

The new album also contains a couple of surprises, like Delirio which features Spanish lyrics or Exile which has English and Spanish lyrics. For You is the shortest track and also the quietest one. In fact it is a rather boring piano ballad.... Fortunately the band saves the best for last. Songs like Out Of The Darkness and The Distance Between Us are excellent songs with lots of melody, passion, great vocals and finally we also hear Stephan Schultz playing a couple of amazing guitar solos. Of course one cannot deny that the band has grown, but you can also still hear clear and too obvious influences from bands like Within Temptation and Epica.But all in all I have to say that I really like this album and that is mainly due to the catchy melodies and the incredible voice of Marcela. I would have liked to hear more guitar solos, but there is still enough good music on this album to really enjoy. Play it loud, if you can!