Thursday, March 30, 2023


A couple of weeks have passed by since the last blog entry, what has happened meanwhile? New albums have been released, and I’ve tried to listen to most of them, at least the ones in this genre. Here are my thoughts on some of them, and other stuff.

KAMELOT’s ”The Awakening” has already gotten more spins than their last few albums here at Rockunited HQ. Tommy Karevik is one of my favourite singers, and he does an amazing job on this album, as usual. So much emotion, so much melody… he positively soars. The standout songs so far: ”The Great Divide” and the beautiful ”Midsummer’s Eve”. RRRR

DEMONS DOWN has been marketed as some kind of continuation of  the HOUSE OF LORDS legacy, because there are former and current HOL members involved. I find it strange as the band is still going on strong under the command of James Christian, and on the same label... being a Frontiers project, you won’t get any prizes for guessing who produced or co-wrote the songs, but I would say that this is a rather good project. Vocalist James Robledo certainly has the pipes, and the advertised former/current HOL guys Jimi Bell, Ken Mary and Chuck Wright are top players and Jimi Bell is credited as co-writer on most of the songs. Fancesco Savino adds his guitar chops to the mix, and Alessandro Del Vechhio is responsible for the keys. The highlight: ”To The Edge Of The World”. RRRr

ROBIN MCAULEY’s new album ”Alive” is also a Frontiers project with all the usual suspects writing the songs (Del Vecchio, Lönnqvist, Alpenborg), not exclusively though. McAuley is involved of course, but also Tommy Denander, Hernan Nori and Guillermo De Medio. I guess the latter two are newer additions to the Frontiers songwriter pool. McAuley is one of the originals from the 80’s hard rock scene, yet he can still deliver excellent vocals. The music is roughly in the same style as the classic McAuley Schenker Group albums, but some of the songs remind me a lot of the Scorpions for some reason. ”Feel Like Hell” for example, could be taken from one of the latter-day Scorpions albums. Anyway, This has gotten better after each spin. RRRR

DESTINATION UNKNOWN is a UK band featuring vocalist Brad Henshaw and multi-instrumentalist Jon Drewbury. They deliver us an album of smooth AOR, with their own songs and others handpicked from writers like Adrian Gurvitz, Jim Capaldi, Svein Dag Hauge and David Pack. This is definitely not Hard Rock, we’re talking about keyboard driven pop rock. Think Chicago, Michael Bolton (circa 1989-1993)… maybe a bit too smooth even for my taste, but I can’t deny that this is well excecuted soft rock. RRR

Apart from new stuff, I’ve made some bargain finds and other purchases lately. I upgraded my vinyl copy of HURRICANE’s debut EP ”Take What You Want” to a CD last week. I know, some of you vinyl maniacs might call it degrading… I got the 10-track version with  a few bonustracks  (alternative versions of songs from the ”Over The Edge” album). Kelly Hansen, who’s currently fronting FOREIGNER sounded great already back in the mid-eighties. ”Take Me In Your Arms” is a fine song, as is the ballad ”It’s Only Heaven”. 

Also last week I took a chance on some cheap vinyl albums, and 2 out of 3 three are keepers I think. As Meat Loaf sang, that ain’t bad. 

UK artist CHRIS SUTTON I didn’t know at all, but recognized some of the names involved: producer Dennis Lambert, songwriters Russ Ballard, Franne Golde, Martin Page and Peter Wolf. And it was a 1986 release and cost me a couple of euros, so I gambled. Despite Sutton being a fine singer with a voice that reminds me a bit of Stan Bush, this album isn’t one the keepers, too lightweight and pop for me. Song to check out: ”Don’t Push Your Love”. 

AVIARY then… I was vaguely familiar with the name, I’ve seen the album being re-issued by Rock Candy so I thought I’d pick it up. As it happens, I’ve actually reviewed Aviary leader Brad Love’s solo album about 20 years ago, and I gave it 7 out of 10 back then. Apparently I don’t have it in my collection anymore. Anyway, the Aviary album dates back to 1979 and it’s over-the-top, fascinating, ridiculous, pompous… Queen meets Styx meets Sweet or maybe they don’t meet at all. There’s just something about this album that keeps me coming back to it. Therefore it’s a keeper. 

The third and the last vinyl I bought was RUNNER. Also a 1979 release, with a very stylish cover. This one I also vaguely remembered reading about, and noticed that the band’s guitarist was Alan Merrill, the writer of the classic ”I Love Rock’n Roll” anthem. The album contains good late 70s melodic rock, with the opening track ”Fooling Myself” as the standout. The ballad ”Truly From Within” is the kind of song that some country artist could easily cover and turn into a hit even today. The Spotify version of the album has three additional tracks, of which ”A Part Of The Game” is a real gem.

Friday, March 17, 2023


It’s been over a month since the last blog entry! I apologize for that, but it’s been one busy month. We had a major home improvement project, which included emptying half of the apartment etc. But now it’s done, the updated home looks nice and life is pretty much normal again.

While packing, unpacking, painting and doing other things I have tried to keep up with the new releases and revisit some old ones. Because of the Geoff Tate gig last week, classic Queensrÿche has been getting a lot of airtime. ”Operation: Mindcrime” will forever be my favourite of their albums, but I’ve always liked ”Empire” too, and during the last couple of years I’ve really gotten into ”Rage For Order” as well. 

After hearing the new WINGER single ”Proud Desperado” (see below) and liking it, during the last couple of days I’ve listened their old stuff a lot. Such an excellent band who didn’t deserve all that crap that was thrown at them. To call them a ”hair band” or ”glam metal” isn’t really a good description. Sure, back then they had the hair and the look but they also had immense musical talent and songs that were almost progressive metal, not just party anthems.

Let’s go through some of the recent releases real fast, in no particular order:

FIRST NIGHT - ”Deep Connection”: Basically this is very decent AOR, but something doesn’t click with me. Maybe it’s the lyrics, 56 minutes and 13 songs of nothing but love songs is a bit too pink and fluffy even for the most hardcore AOR fans. Maybe this is better in small portions?

AUTUMN’S CHILD - ”Starflower”: Mikael Erlandsson is a productive guy, and if you like his work, you’ll enjoy this album as well. There’s a lot variety and different influences. My favourite songs: ”Afrodite’s Eyes” and ”Karenina”. Is this what they call Pomp Rock?

TEN - ”Something Wicked This Way Comes”: I did mention this in blog#10 (what a surprise!), and promised to get back to it. It is a solid album, a very strong RRRR rating for sure. I seem to have four of its’ songs to my ”Highlights of 2023” playlist, which is a lot. 

KHYMERA - ”Hold Your Ground”: I’ve liked all the Dennis Ward-fronted Khymera albums, and this one’s no exception. There are no drastic changes to the previous albums and it’s a case of ”more of the same”, but I’m happy with that. The songs are good and that’s what counts. Highlights include ”Firestarter”, ”Sail On Forever” and ”Could Have Been Us”. RRRR.

STEEL PANTHER - ”On The Prowl”: Is it me or is it them, I don’t know, but they’re not funny anymore.They’ve been on a downward spiral since the first album.I feel that the lyrics have gotten increasingly gross and dumb, and the music has taken the backseat to the ”jokes”. Among the songs that sound like leftovers from Motley Crue or from the first SP album, there’s maybe a couple of good ones. The nostagia-filled ”1987” sounds like a sincere tribute to the era. ”Magical Vagina” is musically something that Ghost could come up with. RR

STARGAZER - ”Life Will Never Be The Same”: This is pretty decent guitar-driven melodic hard rock, reminding me of early Gotthard, vintage Dokken and ”Scratch’n Sniff”-era Fate. Song pick: ”Turn Off The Light”. RRRr.

ALL MY SHADOWS - ”Eerie Monsters”: a side-project for a couple of Vandenplas guys. I think I prefer this to their main band! Melodic metal and rock somewhere between classic Queensrÿche and Threshold, strong choruses and interesting arrangements. RRRR

CREYE - ”III - Weightless”: the young Swedes have yet to surpass their first album, but they’re trying hard. The previous album was a bit poppy, but for this third effort they’ve cranked up the power and it sounds quite majestic. Listening recommendations: ”One Step Away” and ”Spreading Fire”. RRRR

That’s it for now, still plenty of albums to be checked. I’ll keep working on it.