Thursday, October 27, 2022


So what’s going on in the rock world… Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe are bringing the Stadium Tour over to Europe. A Finnish date has been released, they’ll be at Rockfest in June. Not in Helsinki though, even though it says so above! Hyvinkää is the place.

Mick Mars will not be playing with Mötley, John 5 is rumoured to be the replacement but there’s no confirmation of that yet. I don’t know what to make of that… I would have liked to see Poison as a part of this European leg too, because I haven’t seen them live yet. 

Just so that you know, I’m not even trying to provide you up-to-speed news, there are sites who have the resources to do that. I merely comment on some things when I feel like doing so :)

Back to the normal programming then… I’ve given the latest PERFECT PLAN album ”Brace For Impact” a few spins now, and while it’s good, it’s not quite as good as the previous one.  I recall that I gave it the full 5 R’s.”Brace For Impact” is a solid RRRR album, some very good songs but also a few which don’t really do much for me. The heart-stopping, mind-blowing hits are missing.

In between the new stuff I’ve played a few golden oldies too. Would you believe I haven’t had CINDERELLA’s ”Night Songs” on CD until last Sunday? I had a hard time believing it too, but thankfully that hole in my collection has been fixed now. ”Night Songs” might not be one of my all-time favourite albums, but it does have two of my all-time favourite songs: ”Shake Me” is a perfect straight-forward hard rock song and ”Nobody’s Fool” is one of the finest ballads ever. 

What is a ”Sell-out” album? Maybe an album where the band goes for a more radio-friendly sound, possibly uses outside songwriters to add some mainstream friendly touches to their songs. These albums were common in the eighties, when older bands or their labels started to chase chart success, sometimes succeeding (Heart anyone?), but mostly they failed to reach new audience AND alienated some of their original fanbase. Sellout albums are my guilty pleasures, I have a soft spot for what some might call ”corporate rock”…BLUE ÖYSTER CULT’s ”Club Ninja” is one such album which I recently bought. It has a commercial sound and outside songwriters, but it didn’t really break the charts back in 1986. Still, ”Dancing In the Ruins”, ”Perfect Water” and the two songs from Bob Halligan Jr are excellent melodic rock. Probably not what BOC fans wanted though.

I’ve played the new STRYPER album once, and I have to say after the very good ”Even The Devil Believes” I was a bit disappointed in ”The Final Battle”. It’s too early to pass final judgment, but like I said about Perfect Plan, the heart-stopping, mind-blowing hits are missing. Maybe these hooks need a little more time. 

AVANTASIA! ”A Paranormal Evening With The Moonflower Society” is a bit of mouthful as a title, but who cares when the music’s good! Now that Jim Steinman is no longer with us, Tobias Sammet is carrying the torch for theatrical, unashamedly pompous rock. And he doesn’t repeat himself as much as Steinman used to do. 

Certain songwriters have the kind of melodic sensibility which appeals to me, and Sammet is one of those. He can create versatile, atmospheric music and superb hooks. With the help of some of the finest vocalists in the world, this album goes straight to the top 5 of this year’s releases. At least a RRRRr rating for sure.

That’s it for now, sometime next week ”I’ll be back” with my thoughts about Chez Kane, Wildness, Richard Marx, Fallen Sanctuary, Queensrÿche or at least some of them. And maybe some others. 


Friday, October 21, 2022


We just returned from London, where we saw H.E.A.T., Collateral and Mason Hill. More of that gig later, in the form of a full-blown concert review. 

A couple of interesting new albums were released last Friday, PERFECT PLAN and SKID ROW. I really haven’t had the opportunity to listen to Perfect Plan yet, but Skid Row is playing right now… and the first impression is that they’ve gone back to the sound of the debut and Erik Grönwall sings great, but the hooks aren’t immediate. Maybe they require a few more spins… the jury’s still out.

( --- fast forward some 24 hours -- )

So I started writing this entry yesterday (Thursday), and now it’s Friday again, which means that a few new albums have been released… and I haven’t even had the time to check out last week’s releases properly! I’m now playing one of the new releases, the ”Re-wired” album from Collateral, which I actually bought from the aforementioned gig. It’s basically their debut album re-mixed and a lot of famous guests added, people like Jeff Scott Soto, Helen Hurd, Danny Vaughn and Phil X. Some of the songs  feature completely new vocals by the guests, some of them are duets and some feature instrumental contributions from guest musicians. As a bonus track there’s the new single ”Sin In The City”. If it had been just a re-issue with one additional track it would have been a bit of a pointless release, but now that every song has something extra, it’s worth a purchase even for those who have the original album. 

A quick look at the list of albums to check out: Avantasia, Stryper, Chez Kane, Wilderness, Perfect Plan… sheesh, not enough hours in the day, but I’ll try. 

I’ll be back!

Thursday, October 6, 2022


Since it seems that I don’t have the time to write ”full-blown” reviews, I’m going to give these blog entries a go. Kind of like those mini-review things I’ve done, but even more free-form, and not limited to new releases. So it’s going to be random ramblings about the stuff I’ve been listening and whatever!

First of all, a couple of major Finnish releases: The Rasmus and Stratovarius. Granted, I have only played them once or twice so these are my first impressions.

In my opinion THE RASMUS haven’t released many interesting songs since ”Black Roses” album in 2008. I quite liked their Eurovision Song Contest entry ”Jezebel”, co-written by Desmond Child, and had high hopes for their new album ”Rise”, especially knowing that Desmond is involved. Well, he has co-written and produced three songs, and they are my top picks at the moment. The remaining songs self-penned songs are are isomewhat ”eerie” and mostly mellow, but I need to listen to them more before passing judgement. So far, I’d say this is better than the previous two albums...

STRATOVARIUS then… it’s been seven years since ”Eternal”, and it seems that this ”short break” has revitalized the band. The band has come up with an album full of catchy and energetic songs. This went to straight to my ”Top Albums of 2022” playlist! Standout track after a couple of spins: ”Firefly”.

FANS OF THE DARK released a good debut a couple last year, and now they’ve released their second effort, which draws influences heavily from the horror movies. With only eight songs it’s a bit short, and while most of the songs are pretty good, only ”Night Of The Living Dead” really stood out. A minor disappoinment maybe. 

”One 4 The Road” is the fourth album from PALACE, and it’s a smooth and polished effort. I like Mike Palace’s work, and this album is no exception. ”Fifteen Minutes” is the biggest hit of the album for me. Maybe I rate the previous album a bit higher than this one, but a solid piece of work anyway.

CIRCLE OF FRIENDS is a project put together by Bruce Mee of Firefest / Fireworks Magazine as a tribute to his mother who passed away a while ago. Bruce has gathered an impressive list of vocalists to sing on the album, including Doro, James Christian, Jeff Scott Soto and Robin McAuley. Despite different singers on each song, the songs kind of fit together really well. They’re mostly written by Swedish songwriter Mikael Rosengren, with a few covers thrown in. Out of the originals, at the moment my favourite is ”Trick Of The Light” sung by Headpins’ Darby Mills, and when it comes to the covers, ”Never Gonna Make Me Cry” originally by Fierce Heart is an absolute gem, sung by James Christian here. I’ll give this album a RRRRr rating!

A surprise album that made it to my  ”Top Albums of 2022” playlist is the debut from CLEANBREAK. It’s another project but together by Frontiers Records, with vocalist James Durbin (American Idol, Quiet Riot), guitarist Mike Flynz (Riot, not the quiet one) and current Stryper rhythm section of Robert Sweet and Perry Richardson. They’ve recorded this album under the supervision of Alessandro Del Vecchio, but thankfully it doesn’t really sound like what one would expect. The material is gritty but catchy heavy metal. 

What else have I been listening to? Some of my recent purchases include the 5-CD ”Original Album Series” boxset from LOUDNESS, which features their major label albums released between 1985 and 1991. I started from the later albums, and damn, ”Soldiers Of Fortune” is a good one! With American vocalist Michael Vescara behind the microphone, one could argue that the band has lost some of their Japanese charm, but I like the album. It kinda sounds like ”Lynch Mob meets Steelheart” at times. Then again, I remembered why I didn’t remember anything about ”On The Prowl”, although I’m sure I’ve heard it before. It’s rather average, stylewise not that different to ”Soldiers” but the material isn’t very strong. The 1987 album ”Hurricane Eyes” still features original vocalist Minoru Niihara, and it’s a decent album. I guess die-hard Loudness fans regard it as a ”sellout”, as the band introduced keyboards and sweet harmonies to some of the songs. 

I picked up Stevie Nicks’ compilation album ”Timespace” for a couple of euros, as I’ve not really paid attention to her material before. I was surprised to find out that it had songs written by Jon Bon Jovi and Bret Michaels on it. Still, I’m not actually that fond of her voice, so this might not be a keeper… might give it another spin.

I came across the GLENN HUGHES album ”From Now On” at my favourite second hand store Alfa Antikva  the other day. I only knew the video song ”Why Don’t You Stay” and the fact that Europe members were involved, and noticed that Bruce Gowdy had produced it, so I thought I’d give it a go. And… well, I still liked the ballad mentioned before and a couple of others, but I think this will end up in the ”for sale” bin. 

The debut from BADLANDS… I heard it back in the day and wasn’t that impressed, but every now and then the album surfaces in conversations online and people are often very much into it, so now when I had the chance to grab it for a reasonable price I did. Can’t say that anything has changed, it’s still not an album for me. Great musicians and fine vocals from Ray Gillen, but the songs are just too… bluesy and Zeppelinesque. The CD has already found a new,  hopefully loving home.

That’s it for now!