Sunday, June 27, 2021

Tygers Of Pan Tang: Majors & Minors

 Label: Target Records

Rating: - (compilation)

Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Tygers Of Pan Tang! Now there's a name from the past! They were a part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement (NWOBHM) and rather popular back in the early eighties with albums like "Wild Cat", "Spellbound" and "The Cage". the band broke up for the first time in 1983, only to be reformed in 1985 for a couple of albums. In 1987 they broke up permanently.

In 1999, Tygers Of Pan Tang celebrated its' 20th anniversary at Wacken Open Air with original singer Jess Cox and guitarist Robb Weir. Next year Robb Weir reformed the band with new members. 

"Majors & Minors" is a compilation of TOPT material from 2004 onwards, with vocalist Jacopo Meille, who has been in the band longer than any other singer. According to the band's website, this is not a "Best Of" album, more like "Tygers Choice", as the tracks were chosen by the band. 

Back in the eighties, some of the band's songs were very much in the AOR vein, but apparently their recent material celebrates their NWOBHM legacy. You won't find anything like "Paris By Air" or "Lonely At The Top" among these tracks. Instead, you'll get gritty riff-based songs with very few modern influences. Tracks "Never Give In" and "Let It Burn" sound like they could be archived recordings from 1981. I guess that's good news for many fans of the band.

My favourite tracks seem to be from the band's latest album "Ritual", which I must check out more closely soon. "White Lines", "Worlds Apart" and "Destiny" are more melodic and hook-driven than the other tracks, which suits me just fine. 

While this compilation didn't exactly make me want to run and start a crazy Tygers shopping spree, it did remind me of the band, and I plan on revisiting some of their material, at least "Ritual" and some of the 80's classics. So, a mission accomplished.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Kent HILLI: ”The Rumble”

Rating: RRRRR

Label: Frontiers

Review by Kimmo Toivonen

It’s no secret that I rate Kent Hilli as one of the best singers to have emerged during the last few years. His work with his main band Perfect Plan has been stellar. Their last year’s ”Time For A Miracle” was one of the best releases of 2000’s, and I loved their cover EP, on which Hilli really shined.

For his solo album, Kent Hilli has teamed up with Swedish AOR maestro Michael Palace, who has co-written most of the songs with him and produced the album. They’ve put together a great collection of traditional melodic rock songs with rich production and beautiful melodies. 

When someone creates a solo album it’s usually because there’s material that wouldn’t suit the main band. That’s not really the case with these songs, they would’ve been excellent Perfect Plan songs just as well. Maybe it’s a case of Kent Hilli wanting to work with different people. It doesn’t really matter, I’m just happy to hear these songs!

The title track is a perfect opener: a massive melodic rocker in the vein of your favourite 80’s soundtracks like Rocky IV or Top Gun, yet it’s not a desperate attempt to re-write ”Burning Heart” or ”Danger Zone”. The moodier ”Cold” is another favourite with its’ superb, gigantic chorus. ”All For Love” is a nice song, but maybe a bit too ”AOR by numbers” mid-tempo track..

I’ve always been a sucker for staccato keyboard intros, and I can’t help but like ”I Can’t Wait”. Especially when the writers have thrown a couple of different choruses to it, as if they had too many of them! The first one is pretty traditional Journeyesque one, while the second is an anthemic one with ”Whoa’s” and clever background vocals.

”Don’t Say It’s Forever” reminds me of Foreigner at their best, and the hook is AOR perfection. Great backing vocal arrangement again and athmospheric keyboards. Definitely one of the best tracks. 

A bluesy lick and a throaty ”allright” kicks off ”Miss Up To No Good”. This very Giant-like rocker is harder edged that most of the other tracks, but it only adds variety to the album. ”Heaven Can Wait” is classy ballad written by Kent and Tina Hilli, possibly his wife?

”Does It Feel Like Love” is the one song where I think I hear Michael Palace’s songwriting shining through the most, but it’s definitely not a bad thing. The song has a certain cool swagger!

”Love Can Last Forever” is another nice song, not necessarily one of my favourites but not skippable either. ”Never Be Mine” had me checking out the credits for a possible Jeff Paris connection, it sounds so much like something off his ”Wired Up” or ”Lucky This Time” albums. No such connection, it’s a Hilli/Palace original.

The Big Book of AOR says ”that an album should be closed with a big ballad”. Hilli & Palace have followed this golden rule with ”Still In Love”, an epic ballad that would have been a hit for Foreigner, Giant or Europe in 1989. Now it will be a hit for Kent Hilli, although maybe on a ”slightly” smaller scale… at least it’s one of the many hits from this album on my personal list.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Midnite City: ”Itch You Can’t Scratch”


Rating: RRRR

Label: Roulette Records 2021

Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Hair Metal is back! Well, the whole term never existed back in the eighties, it’s something invented by later generations, but anyway, Midnite City proudly state that it’s their genre, and we’ll let them get away with that. Their sound definitely harkens back to the late eighties, the golden age of melodic hard rock - big hair, big choruses, big production. 

If you like vintage Bon Jovi, Danger Danger, Def Leppard and Winger, ”Itch You Can’t Scratch” is a rather safe bet. Midnite City pay homage to all of the above, and connoisseurs might find links to more obscure bands as well. On the band's previous albums there were a couple of tunes where the influences were perhaps a bit too obvious, but on this one they're more discreet. 

I wasn't totally convinced by the first two singles, the sleazy "Crawlin' In The Dirt" left me cold and while the Leppard/Winger-hybrid "Atomic" was better, I hoped that they have stronger songs on the album. As my rating might suggest, they do! 

Most of the remaining songs are more AOR-friendly and melodic than the first two singles. The third single "They Only Come Out At Night" is by far the best of the three, a dark, melodic rocker that could've been on Alice Cooper's "Hey Stoopid" album. Check out the video, it's really a mini-horrormovie! 

Other favourites of mine include the super-catchy "I Don't Need Another Heartache" ("Heart-heart-heartache"... listen to it once and try to get that out of your head! Ha! No chance!), "Fire Inside" and the Bon Joviesque mega-ballad "If It's Over". 

So far the band has released three solid albums back to back, which is a good achievement by any standards. I think I'll have to give the other two a spin, now that I've got this itch...

Tuesday, June 1, 2021






So what makes a new wave an official new wave? Does the ghost of Lemmy have to appear and give his blessing? Does it matter? Probably not, because what really matters is the music, and this double CD certainly has enough of that.

    Released on the 23rd July, there's a massive forty two tracks included, and it's accurate to say that the cream of modern hard rock are very much apparent. Here's some names to play with: Massive Wagons, Hollowstar, Sons Of Liberty, Scarlet Rebels, Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons, Skam, Ryders Creed... I could go on, but can't be arsed. Forty Two different bands, all bringing their own bottle to the party.

    One constant throughout is quality, as there isn't a track here that I didn't get something out of. From the heavy blues stomp of Dead Man's Whisky to the laid back lounge music of Elles Bailey, stopping at the AC/DC-esque breakneck boogie of Thundermother, there's really something for everyone here, as long as everyone likes big guitars and bigger melodies. The only downside for me is that these days there seems to be too many young bands playing heavy blues music (and a few older ones here, too), but on the plus side at least the play it well.

    As a compilation album this is quite a huge undertaking, bringing together a ton of bands and several record companies so that we can celebrate that there's actually a shit ton of cool bands out there peddling their stuff. Myself, I genuinely hadn't heard of about half the bands involved, and have already earmarked a few for future consideration, which surely is the point of releases like this. If you like rock music this is a must, something to just stick on and enjoy wading through the dizzying array of talented artistes. 


Official Website