Tuesday, November 22, 2022


The flood of new releases doesn’t seem to slow down. I’m trying to keep my head above water but failing miserably… but it is what it is. Let’s check out some of the new albums:

The name CAPTAIN BLACK BEARD might suggest that we’re dealing with a Running Wild-influenced ”Pirate Metal” band but that’s not the case. They’re Swedish and they play melodic hard rock and do not have parrots on their shoulders or eye-patches. I liked their previous album but after just one spin, I think their latest one ”Neon Sunrise” is even better. They kind of sound like a very energetic hybrid of all most of your favourite Swedish bands, so check ’em out!

The SARAYASIGN album has been out for a while, but I haven’t given it a proper listen until now. It’s one of those curious album which I should like, but can’t really get into. If you like Perfect Plan, there’s a good chance you’d like this, because they’re pretty similar stylewise. Nothing wrong with their songs or production, but… just OK.

GRAND are another new Swedish AOR group who have just released their first album. They represent the lighter side of Scandi-AOR á la Work Of Art, Care Of Night and Creye.There are two songs which really stand out: ”Stone Cold” and ”Once In A Blue Moon”. They both went straight to my ”Highlights of 2022” playlist. The rest of the material isn’t too bad either, so I’ll give this album RRRR rating. 

I used to like JADED HEART, but over the years we’ve drifted apart. I decided the give their new album ”Heart Attack” a chance, but maybe it’s too late for us. There’s still some hope as some of the songs are quite good (the opener ”Blood Red Skies” and the title track for example), but the semi-thrash metal of ”Lady Spider” isn’t what I want to hear from Jaded Heart. 

JOHNNY GIOELI’s latest project is called ENEMY EYES. With a more metallic edge than Hardline, the promo blurb say it’s a new chapter for him. Sure enough, the opening track ”Here We Are” is a very impressive slice of melodic metal, reminding me of Avantasia. Unfortunately it’s all downhill from there, and there’s nothing really exciting about the rest of the songs. They’re heavier than the usual Frontiers project material, so fans of Johnny’s work with Axel Rudi Pell might get a kick out of them. 

Thursday, November 10, 2022


Let's walk down the Park Avenue which leads to... SKID ROW! I've been listening to "The Gang's All Here" again, and unfortunately it doesn't grab me the way I hoped it would. The sound is great, Erik's great but the songs... there's nothing drastically wrong with them, they're better than most of the band's recent output. Most of the start with cool, driving riffs and Erik Grönwall belting it out like a rock god, but once they get to the chorus, the hook swings but it misses the target. A fistful of melody, something to remember, I guess that's what these songs would have needed to become new Skid Row classics. Reluctantly I give this RRR and a bit.

I try to listen to a lot of the new releases, but sometimes it's nice to revisit some old favourites. This week I've listened to the debut JOE LYNN TURNER solo album "Rescue You", which is a minor AOR classic. It might sound a bit dated to some of you, but I'm old and I don't mind! "Losing You", "Endlessly" and "On The Run"... what's not to like? I did check out his new album "Belly Of The Beast" too, co-written and produced by Peter Tätgren of PAIN. I was afraid that it'd be some sort of an industrial experiment but no, it's just heavy and dark, and not bad at all. 

One day I was in a bit of a synth wave/retrowave mood, and listened to some LEBROCK, who mix melodic rock and synth wave sounds quite excellently. Based on their song "Runaway", Spotify created a playlist for me and I made one wonderful discovery - "Tonight" by SUNSET NATION. The album it's from was a bit of a mishmash of stuff that's too pop for me, but this song rocks! Listen yourself:

Yesterday's discovery is something that's not what I usually listen to - some might call it "easy listening"  or whatever, but strangely enough this song made a huge impression on me. The song is called "Never Let You Go" by a Brazilian artist called Sergio Mendes, and it features vocalists Joe Pizzulo and Leza Miller. The song, written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, has been dubbed as "the most complex pop song of all time" by producer Rick Beato. I actually found this via his YouTube channel, which is highly recommended. Some of his "What Makes This Song Great"-videos will make you appreciate your favourite songs even more. Anyway, back to the subject - at first glance (or rather listen) "Never Gonna Let You Go" might sound like just another cheesy early 80's pop ballad, but just listen again... the song's full of wonderful key changes and it has more melody than a thousand contemporary hits. Awesome songwriting. 

Friday, November 4, 2022


This week’s most played album in my headphones and speakers has been the second CHEZ KANE album ”Powerdzone”. Again produced and written by Danny Rexon of Crazy Lixx, the album follows the path of the debut. We’re talking very 80’s influenced hard rock and AOR, you’ll hear influences of many of the big names of the era. The album has been getting mixed reactions, but I like it almost as much as the debut. Maybe it doesn’t have as many killer tracks, but then again the debut had a couple of clearly ”skippable songs” for me, this one doesn’t have those. My favourites include ”Guilty Of Love”, ”I Just Want You”, ”Powerzone” and ”(The Things We Do) When We’re Young In Love”. Rating: RRRR and a bit. Maybe even a half r.

RICHARD MARX’ latest album ”Songwriter” is a long one, with 20 songs. I was positively surprised that many of them are rock songs, including the edgy ”Shame On You” and ”We Are Not Alone”. Both of them are co-written and co-produced by his son Jesse Marx. Is it a case of son making sure that daddy doesn’t forget to rock? I don’t know but I like it. A few of the songs have a country vibe, some are more pop and there are a few ballads, including one co-written by Burt Bacharach, a man behind dozens of evergreens. 

And from the smooth sounds of Richard Marx we move on to POWER METAL! Yeah! ”Terranova” is the first album from FALLEN SANCTUARY. Serenity vocalist Georg Neuhauser and Temperance guitarist Marco Pastorino joined forces for this project. Their mission was to create catchy metal with socially conscious lyrics. I think they’ve succeeded. Musically they have created something kind of fresh out of familiar elements. They sound a bit like Sonata Arctica, only more accessible and catchy. 

Retro flashback: in 1985 HEART released their self-titled album. It was a huge success and brought the band back into the limelight. Hits from the album include ”What About Love”, ”Never” and ”These Dreams”. I have had the album on CD for a long time, but yesterday I bought an used vinyl copy. I am not a vinyl junkie, but the vinyl is the format to listen to this album. It sounds much better than the CD. Apparently there are a couple of remastered Japanese versions, but the regular editions are very thin-sounding, not a lot of low end.