Thursday, April 30, 2020

CONFESS: "Burn 'Em All"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Street Symphonies / Burning Minds Music Group
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Here's a band with a wide appeal... their songs range from no-frills sleazy hard rock to AOR'ish melodic rock. I think I'll take the one-by-one approach to this review, haven't done that for a while.

"So What" - no frills, and no thrills for me either. A straight-forward rocker, reminds me of Hardcore Superstar and Ratt.

"Malleus" - a single release, and rather catchy. John Elliot snarls with conviction and the guitar lick underneath the chorus sounds like tango. Bang Tango to be exact.

"Welcome Insanity" - is that a Scorpions riff? I like it! Cool backing vocals and a more melodic approach.

"A Beautiful Mind" - intro with sounds of thunder (not the band) and bells... dramatic... the chorus is good, but somehow the verses don't do it for me.

"Heresy" - L.A., 1988... again a more melodic approach and some keyboards. The lovers of the sleazy side of the band might not dig but I do.

"Burn 'em All" - It's a rush hour in L.A., 1983! "Live Wire" anyone? Frantic. The chorus isn't really there.

"Is It Love" - well, it might just be! This is something different, a mid-tempo melodic track. Think Crazy Lixx at their most AOR'ish, maybe H.E.A.T... yes, I love this one.

"My Vicious Way" - very good melodic sleaze, somewhere between the band's two extremes.

"509" - 2 minutes and 18 seconds of punky rock. No frills, but I kinda like it. Maybe it's the "whoah's".

"Prominence" - The opening riff has a Babylon A.D. vibe. Good hook. An extra point for the title, I confess (haha) that I had to look it up.

"One For The Road" - An anthemic song that sounds very familiar. It's not a cover according to the credits, but the chorus sounds like something that could be sung by the crowd in a football match. Hands in the air, all together now!

Monday, April 27, 2020

STARGAZERY: "Constellation"

Rating: RRRRr
Label: Pure Steel Records
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

How time flies... I thought surely it hasn't been more than 3 years when I proclaimed Stargazery's previous album "Stars Aligned" as one of the best melodic metal albums of the year. Well that year was actually 2015! Anyway, the band, fronted by ex-MSG vocalist Jari Tiura and axeman/songsmith Pete Ahonen, does it again. "Constellation" is timeless, classic melodic metal with very few "modern influences". I don't know about you, but at least I have no problem with that.

Pasi Hiltula's keyboards and Pete Ahonen's guitar are pleasantly co-existing here, supporting each other rather than trying to steal the spotlight. Jari Tiura's majestic vocals are sounding better than ever. This album really shows how versatile he is and his tremendous range. The new rhythm section featuring bass player Marko Pukkila and drummer Ilkka Leskelä provide a solid foundation. The band is in good form these days.

The three tasters you may have heard already from this album have been good, but my real favourite tracks are among the other tracks. For example, "War Torn", the balladic "I Found Angels", "Caught In The Crossfire", "Dark Side Of The Moon" and "In My Blood" are all quite different to each other, yet all of them have some things in common - strong melodies and sharp hooks.

The press release states that the these songs are "strongly influenced by RAINBOW and BLACK SABBATH (Tony Martin era)". I won't argue with that, but I guess the biggest Rainbow influence is in the name of the band. I also had some flashbacks to Yngwie Malmsteen's "Eclipse", Joshua's "Intense Defence", Helloween's "Keeper of The Seven Keys" albums and seminal Finnish 80's heavy rockers Iron Cross.

I gave "four very strong R's" to the previous Stargazery album, now I have to add an additional small "r" to the rating, "Constellation" is a step forward.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

XTASY: "Eye Of The Storm"

Rating: RRRr
Label: Metalopolis Records
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

I remember reviewing the first Xtasy album a few years ago. I don't remember much about it, it left a good enough impression that I wanted to check out this new one, when a review link was sent to me. "Eye Of The Storm" is the band's third album, and just like the previous two it's been mixed and mastered by Erik Mårtensson of Eclipse/W.E.T./Nordic Union fame. However, on this album Mårtensson has taken a bigger role as a co-writer. I haven't heard the second album, but at least compared to the first one this is a tighter and a harder-edged album. I and have a feeling that it's because of Mårtensson's bigger input, at least to some degree. There are certainly some very "Eclips'ish" moments here and there!

The song material here is very solid from start to finish, and the production is very good. Silvia Idoate's vocals have improved, I thought her singing wasn't too convincing on the first album, she's much more passionate on this one. Her singing does get a little screechy sometimes, but at least she's not playing it safe. What's more, the vocal melodies are better than before.

My favourite songs include the catchy "Flesh & Blood", "Eye Of The Storm" and "Nowhere to Run", just to name a few. I will not let you know which songs I think are the Eclips'ish ones, you can play the "Spot the Erik" game yourself!

Saturday, April 4, 2020


Rating: - (EP)
Label:  Valve Studio Records
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Silvernite is a Greek/Finnish band and as the name suggests, this is their first EP. 5 tracks, two of them instrumentals, all heavily influenced by the 80's. Every songs sounds like it could have been on a soundtrack of some glorious 80's B-movie, you can almost visualise the aliens, ray guns, convertible cars, mullets and sunsets in Miami.

Multi-instrumentalist Strutter and guitarist Thanks G. have put together the songs, and Finnish singer Tanja Härkönen has provided the vocals. The album starts with an intro type of a track "Colt Has Fallen. Run... Run...?" that sounds as if it was taken from the first Terminator movie. Plenty of blipping keyboards, synthetic drums and a steady bass line with cool guitars on top - tasty! "Sweet Mary" is the first "real" song and it's a gem - more conventional AOR with a big chorus and fine vocals from Tanja. "Cry For Love" follows, more in the vein of synthwave with 80's electronic drums sounds, although the chorus is more AOR with crunchy guitars.

"Lost In Your Eyes" is an instrumental that has touches of Italo-pop, synthwave, AOR'ish guitar work and (synth-)saxophone-driven pop hook, with a pulsating synth bass underneath it all.

The final track "We Will Be Back" is an ethereal synth-based track with vocals in a supporting role, rather than stealing the limelight. The song promises that SILVERNITE will return to save the Earth. Armed with more eighties' sounds, Simmons drums and Flying V's I'm sure.  

I'm looking forward to hearing more, both of the more conventional songs were very good and the more instrumental mood pieces very enjoyable as well. The EP has served its' purpose, it has left at least this particular listener hungry for more.