With this column we intend to give young, fresh, unsigned bands the opportunity to let their voices be heard. We will review demos or independent releases of unsigned bands looking for promotion.
Note to our readers: keep watching our giveaways as some of the albums reviewed here might show up there. At the moment we're giving away quite a few indie/self-financed Cd's that we've gotten during the last few months!

If you wish to submit us material to be featured here, contact Urban, who is the head of our A&R Department. His e-mail address is Urban "Wally" Wallström,

FIRE ALLEY: "Scorcher"

Indie 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
2 December 2004

"Scorcher" is the second effort by the American band Fire Alley. Ringleader, guitarist, and producer, Jack "Jaxxon" Schwarz is something of a veteran from the late 70's/80's hardrock scene. Something that becomes even more obvious when you realize that vocalist James is none other than his own flesh & blood. If you look in our massive archive you'll find a review of the debut CD, and Fire Alley are still playing hardrock with some blues influences. Neverhteless, I'd have to say that "Scorcher" is definiteley a step in the right direction.

"Tears And Promises" is a wicked ballad in that cowboy-western style of Bon Jovi meets Tattoo Rodeo (not quite as good though). "Typical Rock'N'Roll" opens up with a mean harmoica and continues with some gritty guitar work and overall cool riffing. "Over Me" is blessed with a power riff from hell, while "I Can't Get Enough" is a darn fine piano ballad. They even got this song which reminded me a lot of "Smokin' In The Boys Room" at first. I seriously thought it to be a cover until it took off into a completeley different direction. There's even some 'Hatchet and southern rock influences to be found here.

There's unfortunately too many fillers included and it gets a bit predictable in the end. I still have confidence in the guys though and next CD could be the one to look out for.

INNUENDO: "Half Empty"

Indie 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
2 December 2004

"Half Empty" (why so negative? half full would do the same) is a 13 track CD and Innuendo's 5th studio album up to date. This power trio from Phoenix, Arizona, consisting of Andy Watts (vocals, bass), Brett Richey (guitars, keys), and Mike Whitman (drums), are one of the better independent 80's melodic hardock acts from the states. Classy harmonies and sing-a-long melodies has always been their trademark. Nevertheless, I still believe they're having problems with recording something as excellent as their 1999 album "Three".

Innuendo are definiteley at their best when they're doing the emotional rock of "Right Here", "Beautiful Dream" and "Can't Remember". It's excellent soft rock in the tradition of Nelson, Reo Speedwagon, Richard Marx, and even The Eagles at times. It's a mixture of electric and acoustic guitars with piano and soft singing vocals of Watts. He's actually at his best as this sweet, melodic, singer, and tend to get a bit screamy at the higher parts. Watts is however a power tenor with a voice that is instantly memorable for sure.

Tracking for this album was done by drummer Dave Beyer (ex-Melissa Ethridge) in LA (he also plays on a track), as well as at the band's studio in Pheonix. "Ammunition" is a semi-uptempo rocker in the style of "Bits And Pieces" by the Timotei Twins (Nelson). There's also a fine cover of "Oh Darling" (The Beatles), included between the originals. Still, I hope to find some more catchy tunes next time.


CLAYSKIN: "Red Dust Rising"

Indie 2004
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
29 November 2004

Clayskin might just be the best kept secret of Turku, Finland...they've been perfecting the craft for some time now, and while I might never be a big fan, I can't deny that they are very good at what they do. Some members of the band have played in Human Temple, but these two bands don't have much in common...unlike the very 80'ies influenced Temple, Clayskin draw their influences from the modern metal scene and the bands of the last decade. That means agressive vocals, low-tuned guitars and slightly progressive arrangements. The good thing is that they've managed to inject some really good melodies to the songs, so it's not all aggression.

The opening track "Pride" gets my vote for the best song of the CD, with its' excellent chorus. You can hear traces of Alice Of Chains in it. The other three songs aren't that far behind, except for "Mouth Of Innocence", of which I can not seem to get a grip at all. It might be the fact that this song is probably the most "Nu-metal"-styled, with vocalist Sami Koskinen spitting out the lyrics with a lot of attitude - not rapping though, thankfully.

All in all, a very promising and professional effort from the band. The production is quite good, the musicians very accomplished and on top of it all, the band has paid attention to the artwork of the CD. The secret has now been revealed, let's see what the future brings for these guys.



APISKUKO: "Second Chance"

Indie 2004
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
17 November 2004

Back in February 2003 when I reviewed the band's first demo they were considering a new name, but it appears that they decided to stick to Apiskuko, which ranks as one of the most horrible band names I've encountered...why a semi-funny finnish verbal joke when the band is singing in english? Imagine an english DJ..."Here's a new track from...APISSGOGO? APISCOCKOO? APSKJUQO?"

The sound of the band seems to have changed a bit, "matured" might be the correct term...all three songs could be described as melancholic modern rock, the kind of stuff that's often used as the soundtrack for those popular US TV teen drama shows such as "Smallville", "Dawson's Creek" or "Roswell". The most obvious "hit" among these tracks is "Walk Away", quite an impressive track and easily as good as anything on the last Calling album (and wouldn't sound out of place on it!). The other two tracks are a bit less effective and maybe even too "mature" for their own good. Still, in many aspects this demo is much more professional-sounding than the first one, but somehow less energetic. Maybe it's down to the fact that there are no real uptempo tracks included, one harder-edged rock track might have spiced it up nicely.

Download "Walk Away" from our MP3 Vault!


UNCLE SID: "Rock In The Universe"

Indie 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
7 October 2004

Argh! Uncle Sid's new vocalist Wolf Child reminded me of some Swedish hardrock singer but I simply couldn't recall which one (hey, I got at least 300-400 of them inside my head). Then it finally hit me after spinning this for several weeks, he's actually not that far off 'Terry H' of Leviticus and Jet Circus fame. Not quite as impressive and with the same range (and that's an understatement), but with the same kind of expression and style at times. I'm not sure this will help you much though? but I sure needed to get that out of my system.

I actually checked Uncle Sid's site and previous reviewers had him compared with Blaze Bailey (Iron Maiden) and Jizzy Pearl (Love/Hate). WTF??? Oh well, I can't hear anything even remoteley close to that. The main problem would be that Wolf goes over the top every now and then and the ending of both "Time" and "Let Me Go", are simply too much for any hardrocker. Calm down buddy as there's really no need for any cat-in-heat impression right now. The latter song goes on and on and clocks in at almost 8 minutes, when they could as easily have done it at 4 (they are hardly into progressive rock after all). Wolf are trying to reach those sky high notes a bit too often, especially since he's not that good at it in the first place.

"Rock In The Universe" is otherwise a nice, independent release with lots of crunchy guitars and attitude. Guitarist Henry Seto has obviously been inspired by Ed Van Halen as "The Story" opens up with a similar riff to VH's "Ain't Talkin'Bout Love". Not a deadringer or anything but you'll definitely be thinking about old Ed here. Uncle Sid is your average beer-drinking band everyday of the week... and I mean that in a good way. Pull out a six-pack, plug in the disc in your CD player, turn up the volume and voila', there's a trailer trash party going on. Late 70's and early 80's hardrock fans will probably get a kick out of this if they're playing at your local bar. Check the site below for more info and such.


COLE: "Of Fears, Dreams And Shadows"

Indie 2004
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
6 October 2004

This is something special...unlike so many young Finnish bands, Cole aren't merely following in the footsteps of the more famous Finn-rockers, but have created a style of their own. The 5-piece band from Kauhava is among the most promising new bands I've recently heard, and their original, yet accessible sound is something that is bound to take them to bigger things. Instead of being the 13th HIM/Stratovarius/Nightwish this month, Cole stand on their own with their interesting modern hard rock sound. Somehow they manage to combine elements of eighties' pop, melodic metal and HIM-styled goth-romantic rock into one package!

Cole even have one bona-fide hit song among these four songs, namely "Speak Of The Devil". Damn, this song has the kind of hook that could do some serious damage all over the airwaves...The three other tunes aren't too bad either, they have some really cool bits and pieces. I especially like the flowing, melodic guitar style of Arwe Ruotsala and the keyboard elements. In the end though, the remaining songs aren't quite as memorable as "Speak" and lack that final punch, when it comes to the choruses.

The band sounds really competent and the production is quite good. I must say that sometimes I do find myself paying way too much attention to the double bass drumming of Janne Kamppila. The bass drums are curiously very upfront in the mix and sound a bit obtrusive at times! I also believe that the vocalist Tuomas Annala has some unused capacity which I would like to hear him use in the future. Otherwise...no complaints from me! Even the artwork is stylish and cool!



THE FREAKDOLLS: "demo 2004"

Indie 2004
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
19 September 2004

The Freakdolls from Imatra, Finland are young guys, but the band's been around for a few years already. Still, this demo is their first one, and sometimes it is indeed worth waiting and not rushing into things. The three songs here showcase an energetic rock band with a lot of attitude but also the skills to match that.

They describe their music as "uncompromising rock with tasty glam-influences" and they're pretty much on the mark. The songs roll along with a strong Hanoi Rocks-meets-Hardcore Superstar vibe. The hooks could be a bit sharper but there's still something quite irrestable in all of these tracks. You might not be able to whistle the melodies afterwards, but when you're listening to these songs, they will most likely have your feet tappin'!

The production is very good for a demo, and the musicianship very competent. I'm not so sure about band's main songwriter Marko's vocals though. They are not bad, but a bit one-dimensional. That and the lack of great hooks aside, the overall rating would have to be "thumbs up"!

One more thing...the cover art is quite stylish, but the logo looks like something that a third grade schoolboy might have drawn to his school desk...


Sex ’n’ Money: "Live at the Factory"

Indie 2002
Review by Petri Kautto
31 August 2004

Sex ‘n’ money is a Finnish band that plays “hard cock love rock” as they state it in their website. To me it sounded quite funny because “cock” is exactly what seems to be missing here, at least if you listen to the lead singer’s voice. He’s trying to sing really high falsetto but he doesn’t have the pipes for it so he ends up sounding like Justin Hawkins on a very lousy day.

This is a live recording from one of their shows and the sound is terribly weak. Because of the poor quality of the recording it’s hard to comment too much on their sound but they play pretty basic rock and at times the melodies seem to be ok. They cover Kiss and Finnish band The Hurriganes and the band could be described as a mixture of those two. The fact that they’re distributing a recording of this quality does not really have “professional” written all over it. Sure, I understand that it’s hard for an unknown band to get decent equipment but sometimes it would be wise to consider is it really worth to put anything out if it sounds like this.


Indie 2004
Review by Satu Reunanen,
27 August 2004

Rarely do we hear from Irish bands, but here’s one for you, Steel Tormentor, defining their sound a mixture of Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy. I’d take a bit different direction from their definition though. Their singer/guitarist James Kelly has a whole lot of Stryper vocalist Michael Sweet in him, even their music has those early Stryper sounds to it. But there’s something from Queensrÿche also and a lot more and definately those Iron Maiden influences too, especially in the guitars.

Formed back in 1998 the band still has the raw touch to their music which still requires tighter arrangements, but the band has good musical bases to start working from. The songs have idea behind them, but something’s still missing and the overall picture leaves you a bit scattered at times. The drums should definately sound more powerful and tighter and in a few parts the guitars would need a bit tighter frame from the aimless soloing. The sound on the cd is also too narrow and livelike, and that sucks a lot of power off the good songs, they suffer from the basement sound. But that crossed out, with the good melodies and vocal harmonies there’s already something to build onto and with another sound this stuff should work much better. These guys could have a future in the melodic power metal section, or just plain melodic metal. The fast and melodic guitars get your attention after the vocals, which are their strongest element as heard in their Wasp-like ballad ”Welcome To The End”.


The FORCE: "3-track Demo"

Indie 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
26 July 2004

Woh-oh-ohw!!! Here's the next melodic hardrock act for any of the labels out there to sign. The Force are indeed something to be reckon with as they're mixing everything fun about (80ies) music on their 3-track demo. Fronted by the talented vocalist/guitarist Jason Abraham (aka Jay Fury, ex-Romeo Delite), they're bound to raise an eyebrow or two in the melodic scene in Europe.

While Romeo Delite was an (excellent) out and out sleaze act, The Force is over the top, melodic rock with incrediable catchy melodies and choruses. It's early Bon Jovi influences (from the debut to New Jersey), and overall fun material. The only downer would be shortage of tracks as three of them are simply not enough. I want more of this asap and they're luckily about the record another demo next month.

Opener "Fight For Your Life" had my 18 year old ticker in motion (18 til' I die) as it's one of the catchiest songs of the year (in the melodic genre). I absolutely love that keyboard solo too (rather short though) as you hardly expect to find it in the first place. Check out "Jenny" for a big slice of early Bon Jovi, complete with marvelous vocal harmonies and again those lovely keyboards by Brandon Still. If "Fight For Your Life" was great, I'm not quite sure how to describe "Jenny". She's a ten pointer with shapes and curves in all the exact right places... a Marilyn Monroe if you so like. The refrain sticks like glue onto your forehead(?) and you can't help to shout along at once. "Jenny, Sweet Jenny, I Need Your Smile Today. My Heart Is Breaking, Everytime You Walk Away". It's corny, catchy, and everything you need to bring up your otherwise lousy? work day. "All Or Nothing" is slightly darker and closer to the early 90's material by Bon Jovi. They're also said to be influenced by Queen, Van Halen, Motley Crue, Prince, The Pretenders, The Police, Led Zeppelin. Even though I can mostly hear those influences in the guitar sound (Matt Sonnicksen), and the heavy rhythm section - Joe Abramson (bass) & Chris Wilkes (drums). The demo sound is pretty amazing actually and things are bound to happen I'm sure. Check out the band and MP3's at the site below.


ANCARA: "Ancara"

Indie 2004
Review by Satu Reunanen,
22 August 2004

I’m really, really excited about these fellow Finns Ancara and I’m not often this excited about music anymore with new bands bursting from every corner. I’m talking about some really ballsy hard rock with grunge influences with loads of attitude and beautiful melodies along the lines of Alice In Chains, Kings X, etc. The three songs presented leave you in goosebumps, especially ”Come Apart” with its chorus and the following vocal lines. The vocalist Sammy Salminen has a very powerful voice that works in many ways and has that classy grunge base that you hardly hear anymore, which still has its place in the world. The band (with Mika Rajala-bass, Samuel Hjelt-guitars/vocals, Juice Wahlstén-guitars/vocals, Timo Rajala-drums) even has the harsh looks that go with this kind of music, but a barking dog doesn’t necessarily bite, I bet.

”Bound To Roam” begins the cd with guitar-driven rocker that hits you real hard in the chorus. The songs are easy enough to work for the average music fan, but with all instruments there’s beautiful solos and rhythms that click perfectly together. On a first listen there might be some empty spaces in the songs, but after a few spins you don’t pay much attention to them anymore. There’s something that keeps reminding me of these long buried finnish bands Sancnity and Numbah Ten. It must be the guitars and at times the hollow sound. ”Why” builds in bit by bit and reaches its climax at the chorus, which rolls smoothly with angry backing vocals. The vocal harmonies heard in each song bring more great feeling to the songs.

The band has been together since 1990 and has released one promo before this in 2003 which I haven’t heard, so I can’t go comparing if they already sounded as brilliant as now, but listening to this material they should already have a record contract in their hands. Here’s hoping and I urge you to check out these guys if you like your music grungy and powerful with great melodies.
Ancara Website


Indie 2004
Review by Satu Reunanen,
22 August 2004

This Australian female band are going to leave all fans of symphonic rock quite breathless. They have managed to include a whole lot of emotion into their complicated songs. The band was formed back in 1980’ies by sisters Jadi-Anne and Monik Dee and have released independent material so far, but now it’s all about to change as they are releasing an album soon, where Endel Rivers (Palmstudios Australia, produced bands like Vanishing Point and Black Majesty) plays some keyboards and has done a few arrangements.

For most of the time the vocals on this ”Angel” promo are clean and angelic, but the band doesn’t get stuck in one place, their music has influences from a wide range and the vocals can even turn quite nasty, in a good way. But when they’re clean, Susie Hatton comes to mind (recorded one album, ex-girlfriend of Poison leadsinger Bret Michaels). And as the vocals and the music also have this twisted mood sometimes, Mandragora Scream isn’t that far either. Added with some playful features, 70’ies Alice Cooper, gothic and doomish progmetal, the theatrical and symphonic arrangements are still the main thing behind it all. All songs have been composed with a clear vision and a good taste, so there’s not much to start whining about, though hopefully on their first official release they’ll have more power in the sounds, this music has to sound heavy.

”Inner Truth” made me scratch my head for a while, I could swear the male singer joining the vocals was Tobias Sammet from Edguy. So I dug deeper and there you go, it’s Tobi himself. His vocals are a good addition to this powerful song. There’s only three songs here; ”Angel”, ”Salted Wounds” and ”Inner Truth”, but they’re enough to convince the fans of this genre. The girls have enough drive and catchiness in the music, so soon enough they should also be conquering the European grounds.
Supremacy website


SACRED HEART: "Lay It On The Line"

Indie 2004
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
17 August 2004

I recently reviewed an earlier demo from this U.K. band, which wasn't too bad but quite under-produced and rough. "Lay It On The Line" is a more professional sounding effort, in fact it's more like an self-financed album than just a demo.

"LIOTL" is a 10-track effort, and out of those ten tracks the best two have been wisely placed as the first two tracks. The title track and the highly melodic "N.Y.C." are both very good tracks, both somehow very "Brit-sounding" AOR/Hard Rock numbers, reminding me of such bands as Passion Street, Lost Weekend and Burns Blue. It might be all that rain and fish 'n chips, but these British groups have a sound of their own...although their influences might come from the other side of the pond.

Some of the other Sacred Heart tracks seem to be more "L.A.-flavoured", take "The Last Goodbye" and "Rock'n Roll Away" for example. The first one must be a distant cousin of Poison's "Fallen Angel", while the latter is the band's "dumb rocker" with a simple, Kiss-like chorus. A bit of a throwaway song but vocalist Paul Stead does a fine job on it, almost sounding like Kelly Hansen of Hurricane/Perfect World fame.

The remaining songs are all rather good, some of them are not that far behind the opening duo actually. There are the obligatory two ballads included, but I wouldn't rate them as the band's strongest material. The band might want to pay attention to the lyrics as well, since it seems that many of the songs have almost interchangeable lyrical themes..."I'll be there for you, forever and always"...

The band seems to be doing a lot of work over there in their home country, and it's obviously paying off. If the band keeps on improving at this rate, their next demo is bound to get them signed.


HOLLOW HORSE: "Five Year Diary"

Indie 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
2 August 2004

The music of Hollow Horse is probably suitable for adults only and has more in common with Pop/Rock than Heavy Metal. Don't let it stop you though as the quality of this independent band from Glasgow/Scotland, is surprisingly good. What are they like you ask? Sort of Paul Weller, Crowded House meets Roy Orbison with a twist of Lennon & Costello. And that's Elvis Costello for the ignorent metal head and not Abbott's sidekick of long gone days.

I can mostly hear the Costello, Weller, and Crowded House influences as they're present all over this disc. Vocalist/guitarist Kenny Little also works in the tradition of above mentioned singers without being a deadringer or wannabee. I could definitely see myself headbanging along to the music, infront of the stage, at the local pub. Perfect stuff to enjoy while going out with your friends. The production by Brian McNeil at Gravity Studios/Glasgow turns out to be a rather nice surprise too. Not all that glitters are gold though and you can find a couple of truly awful tracks among the nuggets. Do stop by their site if you're into above mentioned artists and style.


Indie 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
5 August 2004

The Swedish band Cowboy Prostitutes are obviously inspired by the 80's Sleaze Rock scene. By jove, they are close to deadringers for the likes of Junkyard, Quireboys, Faster Pussycat, and Snakepit Rebels. Founded a year ago in Örebro/Sweden by vocalist/bassist Luca Isabelle, their second demo "Over The Top" is an excellent display of old time rock'n roll. It's unfortunately a two-song demo only and it may still be too early to pass out any final verdict. I'm told they have more material in the works though and if they're anything like these tracks, we're in for a pleasant surprise later on. Final note: you don't expect to find four ugly blokes in rags with a band name like that.


SUBZERO: "Lock Up Your Daughter"

Indie 2004
Review by Kimmo Toivonen, 12 July 2004

If mainstream media was to be believed, one might think that youngsters of today only want to be either rappers or in boybands. That's not the case of course, rock'n roll might not be "hip" but it's still alive, and Subzero are a proof of that. All four guys are under 20, and cite bands such as Hanoi Rocks and WASP as their influences...no "Popstar" wannabes here!

"Lock Up Your Sister" contains three tracks. The first two are quite impressive straight-forward rockers in the vein of more harder-edged Hanoi Rocks, with solid playing from the band and good vocals from "Lester Brisco". Sharp riffing and good hooks! However, the last track "Head Over Heels" is something quite different, a mellow pop rocker which reminds me of the Hanoi's again. Only this time it sounds like Hanoi Rocks gone country or something, with whiny, high vocal melodies that don't seem to suit Brisco's voice at all. No thanks! The hard rockin' songs very much more convincing.

One more thing...the band photo...four "sleazy street rockers" with scarves, ripped jeans and eyliner in front of a traditional Finnish country barn and birches? Well, there's contrast, no doubt...

Mail: subzerocontact@hotmail.com

DUNCES: "Kingdom Of Darkness"

Indie 2003
Review by Satu Reunanen,
24 June 2004

Dunces history points out to 1999, when the band started out as Sanitarium. Hailing from Tohmajärvi, their music goes back to the basic heavy metal roots with powerful vocals and catchy tunes. ”Waiting For...”-demo was released in 2001, recorded in Caverock Studio by Tero Kinnunen from Nightwish fame. The band started working with ”Kingdom Of Madness” demo already in 2002 and took a whole year in the process, releasing it in 2003. Again Kinnunen was working with them. 2004 saw them live in a huge show in Kitee, headliner being Nightwish and the Ice Hall being sold out for thousands. Now the band is in the studio again working on new songs.

”Kingdom Of Darkness” includes 8 songs and an Iron Maiden cover ”The Trooper” as a live version. The band has written quite impressive music, sounding a bit like Sonata Arctica at times on their earlier days. There’s even the same drive that is familiar from Tarot, including same pompousness and dramatic features as heard in Nightwish and Thunderstone. The vocals have a touch of Dreamtale and the basic parts are heavy enough, though would’ve needed more work on them. ”Kingdom Of Darkness” sounds quite near to a finished product, having strong basis, but Dunces shouldn’t play too seriously. The intro to the cd for instance is too long, the vocal parts with dark, boogie man-feeling to them don’t fit in at all and one or two guitar solos were too empty to be justified for being that long.

But with as lean material as they’ve got and catchy, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they’d get a record deal soon. The only songs that didn’t offer much were the straight ”Last Breath” and ”Girl”, a ballad that was dragging a bit and the vocals being a bit too harsh and dark for a ballad. But you definately want to hear more from Dunces, with better song arrangements and better production behind them. The live version of ”The Trooper” shows a powerful live band, but the sounds are terrible of course, being a rough live recording. This version goes on different tempos than the original one, but otherwise sounds quite true to it.


DIABLA: "Small Talk / I’m The Snake"

Indie 2004
Review by Jorge Antonaya,
9 June 2004

One of the (many) pleasant surprises I got while in Norway on late March was to know the guys and girl of Diabla. Who the hell are they? Well, Diabla’s roots sink as back as 1996 but you can read the (almost) full story at their website. This is already their second demo CD, the first one, “Everything Passes”, being released in 2001. The line up has gone through multiple changes but the basis trio of Beathe Sanden (vocals), Morten Granheim (bass) and Tarald Lie (drums) remains. Stig Rolfsen (guitars) left after the band’s show opening for TNT (one of their musical heroes) in Kroa i Bø (Norway) on March 20 2004. They named their music as Experimental Romantic Metal Pop Punk, and as “flashy” as it may sound, it’s not, in fact, very far from the truth.

This 2 track single CD opens with Small Talk, an up-tempo hard rock tune with a punk attitude, funny, yet fighting lyrics, and all you can ask for in a rock song. I’m The Snake is a slower track, not very far from 80’s hard rock. Beathe’s voice definitely falls out of the ordinary, as her voice is somehow hypnotic and haunting at times. There’s also space for some bitter, gloomy lyrics on that one. Keep in mind that even though being influenced a lot by 80’s hard rock, Diabla are a present day rock band with lots of punk attitude, not talking about Bad Religion/Green Day wannabees, but closer to maybe Skid Row or even Motley Crüe crunchier side. Read, no technical virtuosos here, neither musical complexity in a proggie style, it’s just in your face rebel rock with a forever young attitude what we’re talking here.

So, if you’re in for no prejudices, no musical boundaries, rebel lyrics and fresh music old-clichés free, then you should check Diabla out. I’m pretty sure they’ll catch any A&R’s eye soon as they caught mine. The band is not in a hurry, as they are focused now in playing a lot now and make themselves a name. Nonetheless, word is that with this single they are getting a lot of airplay in a certain Spanish radio show… Stay tuned! ;-) And lucky you if you can catch them live supporting Stage Dolls at Rockefeller in Oslo on June 12. I wish I was there!


SIPHER: "Second"

Indie 2004
Review by Kimmo Toivonen, 1 July 2004

Sipher, a band featuring two guys named Lasu & Tonttu hails from southern Finland. This is apparently their second bunch of demos, and it features four tracks of peculiar gothic metal. Lots of extremely fast drumming, layers of keyboards and gothic styled vocals.

The band has some cool ideas and their style is quite interesting, like a mixture of many of the popular Finnish bands - melodic death metal of Children Of Bodom mixed with 69 Eyes, Charon and other gothic-styled bands. However, there's a bit of a "home-made" vibe in everything. Especially the vocals sound like they were recorded in someone's bedroom, with the singer sounding like he's trying to "keep it down", as not to bother the neigbors. Frankly, the band could really use an actual singer with a strong voice, the singing here doesn't sound too convincing.



SOUL RELIC: "Hollow Craving"

Indie 2004
Review by Kimmo Toivonen, 4 June 2003

Finnish newcomers SoulRelic hand us critics the ammunition right from the start - they call their music "Love Metal"...Hmmmm...or should that be HIMMMMM...hardly necessary to underline that you're clearly following on the footsteps of another group. It would be so easy to label the band as a bunch of copycats or wannabes, but I refuse to do that because they are simply quite good at what they do!

The band is lead by ex-Snakegod keyboard player Jay Hölli, he's the main songwriter and producer here. He clearly has a vision where he wants to take this band, and I think he is selling himself short by accepting that "Love Metal" label for his songs. Okay, the songs are all about love with the usual slightly gothic lyrical references to angels, saints and heartache every moment, and the keyboards do whistle and hum very much in the HIM vein...but basically these songs are melodic rock songs, and good ones, flavoured with those above-mentioned elements. Jay has found a good singer for his band, who's thankfully not a "deep-sounding, falsetto loving" Ville Valo-clone, but something a bit more orginal. Okay again, he does look a lot like Jonne Aaron of Negative...

All three songs are good ones, without being really great though. All of them have their moments, with the title song being my favourite at the moment. The balladic "Dying Angels" is good too, and I especially liked the use of female backing vocals on this one. Still, it remains to be seen how big an impact this band will have...the Finnish scene is getting crowded with quite a few bands who have a similar image, and they will have to fight for their place in the sun.



THE PORTION: "Little Piece of Thoughts"

Indie 2004
Review by Kimmo Toivonen, 27 May 2003

This new Finnish group isn't easy to describe, as they manage to cross genre-boundaries during just one song! Lead by vocalist/guitarist Kari Härkönen, The Portion aren't your typical rock band. To start with, Kari's vocals are quite unique, the only vocalist I can compare him to is that guy from Brainstorm, the Latvian (?) band who had a hit with their Eurovision song contest entry "My Star". In fact, "Little Piece Of Love" reminds me strongly of that track...most definitely for an acquired taste, both the track and the vocals, which are quite high-pitched.

For the common hard rock fan more tolerable would be "Out Of My Thoughts Control", a rock track with good riffs, somehow reminding me of Hanoi Rocks. "Time" is also worth mentioning if only for the fact that it combines progressive rock and britpop with a chorus that reminds me of Stratovarius - only without the double bass drums!

The Portion are worthy of checking out for those always on the lookout for something a bit different, and possibly the fans Brainstorm. Visit the band's website for more information.



STRANGE HEART: "Strange Heart"

Indie 2004
Review by Kimmo Toivonen, 27 May 2003

Strange Heart is an interesting new band/project based around songwriter/guitarist Toni Sjöman and vocalist Arto Kantola. This 3-track CD is their first effort, and it's easy to hear that the guys have created something worth keeping an eye on!

First track "Tearing My Heart" is a laid-back track that reminds me of a strange combination of Journey and HIM! I guess the latter comparison rises from the vocals of Arto Kantola, which are a bit in the vein of Ville Valo....without Valo's overtly dramatic style and falsetto. At first I thought Arto's vocals were a bit too "nonchalant and cool", not dramatic at all, but it didn't take too long for me to start liking his style. The Journey comparison comes is for everything else, the song structure, Toni's melodic guitar playing, the lyrics...Second track "Follow Your Soul" is more progressive, yet still highly melodic and instantly likeable. "Alone In The Dark" is my favourite of the three tracks, the most uptempo one out of them, with cool keyboards and excellent chorus.

The production is very good for a demo, but the fact that the recordings are very computer-based does create a bit clinical, cold sound. Still, some bands are releasing recordings of similar production quality as full-blown albums, especially on the smaller labels...Anyway, if the rest of the band's material is as strong as this, I wouldn't be surprised if they were the next Finnish melodic rock band to be signed. Who knows, with the eighties' retro boom going on and gothic rockers like HIM doing very well, they might even attract the major labels, as they are a combination of both...All in all, this is the best demo that I've heard in months, and something you should investigate...like now!


GRENDEL: "Something to Remind"

Indie 2004
Review by Petri Kautto 1 June 2004

Rolling stone gathers no moss and Grendel keeps rolling and rolling. They’ve released another demo that has an excellent quality in both songs and production. Their melodic heavy rock/metal is very versatile and their talent in both writing and performing songs shines through in “Something to Remind” as it did in their previous demo “Promo 2003”.

I’ve had a chance to hear all of their previous three demos and I would say that this band is ready for a record deal (Hell, I said it already with their 2002 “Fight Against Time”, but what do I know). This demo has only two songs so it’s hard to say anything else other than that they keep producing quality material and that they are one of the best bands out there without a record deal. If you have not checked this band out yet you can do so at their website’s mp3-section.


THE PORTION: "Little Piece of Thoughts"

Indie 2004
Review by Kimmo Toivonen, 27 May 2003

This new Finnish group isn't easy to describe, as they manage to cross genre-boundaries during just one song! Lead by vocalist/guitarist Kari Härkönen, The Portion aren't your typical rock band. To start with, Kari's vocals are quite unique, the only vocalist I can compare him to is that guy from Brainstorm, the Latvian (?) band who had a hit with their Eurovision song contest entry "My Star". In fact, "Little Piece Of Love" reminds me strongly of that track...most definitely for an acquired taste, both the track and the vocals, which are quite high-pitched.

For the common hard rock fan more tolerable would be "Out Of My Thoughts Control", a rock track with good riffs, somehow reminding me of Hanoi Rocks. "Time" is also worth mentioning if only for the fact that it combines progressive rock and britpop with a chorus that reminds me of Stratovarius - only without the double bass drums!

The Portion are worthy of checking out for those always on the lookout for something a bit different, and possibly the fans Brainstorm. Visit the band's website for more information.



ROB-BAN: "About Goddamn Time"

Indie 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
23 May 2004

Here's yet another (very) interesting artist, from Sweden of course, that works in the same pop/rock formula as Jamie Meyer (last years all-around favorite here at RockUnited), Mikael Erlandsson, and Martin Stenmarck. This would obviously mean that "About Goddamn Time", is filled with sweet, poppy, melodies and catchy hooks?? I wouldn't go as far as saying, he's just as good as the three above, but he's not 'that' far behind either. To keep it simple, if you enjoy these Swedes, there's no real reason to why you shouldn't enjoy this too.

Rob-Ban (eller Robban i Sverige?), has been contributing with material to the latest albums with "Crystal Blue" (MTM) and "Last Autum's Dream's" (Frontiers). He used to be the 'Slyside' singer in the past, some ten years ago in Örebro/Sweden, where he's still based by the way. The album will see its light-of-day later this summer and it's definitely something to look out for. "About Goddamn Time" was recorded and mixed by Jens Bogren, whom did an excellent work with Crystal Blue's "Detour". The vocals are "blessed" with those typical Sweeeeedish accents (which Scandi-fans seem to love), and it's all very cozy and Scandinavian somehow. Tracks like "I Wanna Fly", She Don't Really Mind", "Just Like That", "When Minutes Turn To Hours" (very much alike Erlandsson), "Brand New Day", and "I'm Still", are all winners in my book. The Ikea version of rock... ehem... just slam it in your CD player and turn up the volume. Find out more about this up and coming artist at the site below.

FREE SPIRIT: "Shadow Of A Man"

Indie 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
24 May 2004

Back to nature, back to basics, back to haunt us with some golden oldies??? Indeed, Finland's Free Spirit returns with a "new" 4-track demo, with at least one old favorite from the past. Opening track "Pale Sister Of Light", was already included on their demos back in the 90's. I actually wrote about it back in my "Catchy Hooks" days (my first internet zine).

Here they are in 2004 and still promoting the crap out of "that" track. I'm not sure if it's good or bad thing really. They should have been able to come up with some new material by now? I quite like it though, it still has that moody vibe of early The Cult, over it. "Heroes Don't Cry" is a dramatic semi-ballad with an interesting bone structure. Built upon the difference between light and shadow, this tune ends up somewhere between folk-lore and nature rock. A winner in my book. The last two tracks are rather pale in my opinion, without being crap for that matter. Nothing that really grabs your attention though and the sound quality differs a lot. Check our archive for previous reviews and you can email the band at: freespirit@musician.org



Indie 2003
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
9 May 2004

The name might make you think of a traditional metal band with an obsession with Dio, but this "Sacred Heart" does not sing about rainbows or dragons, and their music isn't metal either. Their style could be compared to the new generation of UK AOR bands like Lost Weekend and The Promise, and you can find some similarities to Danger Danger too. The first song "Lost" especially borrows heavily from D2's semi-classic "Don't Blame It On Love".

These recordings are rehearsal room demos, so the sound is pretty rough and stripped. You can easily hear that the main songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Paul Stead knows how to pen a decent tune, but this kind of presentation doesn't really do justice to the songs. The lads aren't lousy musicians and Paul is an adequate singer, but AOR rarely works underproduced.

All of the songs are quite good, but in many cases the choruses lack the final punch. Take the bonus track "Fall" for instance - good song otherwise but the chorus seems to die towards the end...

The band might consider hiring a keyboard player to add some extra textures to the songs, and I would also suggest paying attention to the backing vocals - they might bring that punch to the hooks. Not a bad start though.


PARADICE: "Bad Influence"

Indie 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
22 April 2004

Paradice is something quite unusual as a female fronted glam act. Weren't they all supposed to be cross dressers according to posh reviewers and such??? These "guys" are however from Sweden and they do play that late 80's Glam music. They're said to be inspired and heavily influenced by US bands like Mötley Crue, Madam X, W.A.S.P, and Cinderella. I'm not sure if it's a correct description of their music as I can also hear some Bang Tango and even The Cult into their music.

I do enjoy the vocals of the lovely 'Magdalena' as she reminds me of that Skew Siskin chick. Not as brutal or with the same barbwire approach perhaps, but still with attitiude and spunk. The three male musicians (John, Karl, Theodor), probably wear more make-up than her anyway. This is indeed "Sex, Lipstick And Rock'N'Roll" with cans and cans of hairspray. It's however more "Sleaze" rock than "Glam" in my opinion and you wont find anything as glammy as Poison or Tigertailz here. Their 9 track demo is perhaps not blessed with killer material. It gets a bit too dull and boring from time to time. It could be that tracks like "Rock And Roll" and "We Want Rock" doesn't really have those catchy choruses or hooks. "Bad Girl", "Alone Again", or opener "Give me Action" are on the other hand excellent songs. I could definitely see this being released at a label such as Perris Records. And they're indeed worthy your attention if you're into the Sleaze and 'Perris' stuff. Do check them out at their homepage below.

BAD WAY: "Like A Shot"

Indie 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
17 April 2004

The info sheet is pretty straight forward and you can read that "these guys has something that most bands are forgetting about these days"... namely: songs and attitude. I'm not quite sure about the first statement as you can't really find that instant hit song here. The latter I can agree with (up to a certain point), as they're slamming their drums and wacking their guitars (or vice versa) like true rock idols.

Bad Way is a five piece Nu-Breed act from Barcelona/Spain. They are rocking on their fifth season already and "Like A Shot" is their brand new 2-track demo. They also have an pretty impressive live show I'm told as they've recently won the public prize "Emergenza Acoustic Contest". The roots are said to be 80's arena rock, even if it hardly comes out in their music. This is more in the vein of Goo Goo Dolls and Marvelous 3, with a slightly more 'sleazy' attitude. Only two tracks and I can't really decide if they're going things or not with this. "Summer's Song" is a rather plain and average track. Not the perfect opener perhaps and those things are pretty darn important, you know.

Things are definitly looking up with "Rock'n'Roll Is Dead", since it's jam packed with energy and r'n'r attitude. This could perhaps end up as 'that' special song after all. The lead guitarist gets however a bit lost during the latter part of his solo. And a couple of other minor mistakes isn't all that bad really, as you can fix'em afterwards. It's noisy rock that dates all the way back to MC5, Ramones, and fast forward to today's rock with Marvelous 3 or Simple Plan/Good Charlotte/SR71 upfront. Unfortunately, they only have their "Summer" song available as download at their site. They need to push "Rock'N'Roll Is Dead" upfront as their selling thing. Hardly earth shaking material, but could be something to look out for in the future.

SENTIMENT: "Breaking The Chains"

Promo 2004
Review by Satu Reunanen, 31 March 2004

Hop on the eighties bandwagon...Sentiment surely fits in on todays metal scene, they’ve got the melodies and the right attitude. Formed in 1999, who would believe that young guys such as these finns can already sound so convincing ! But the beginning wasn’t as easy as you might think, changing a singer from a female (we saw her at the finnish Idols-competition) to todays Michael Henneken (Silent Voices), going through many member changes and changing their style from a more proggish metal approach that didn’t reach so many fans as todays style.

Henneken’s voice reminds me of the good old Yngwie Malmsteen times, when Mike Vescera was still in the band, though I always liked all Malmsteen vocalists. The songs reach the same measures as the Malmsteen songs in both mood and as song structures. But Malmsteen isn’t the only band which comes to mind while listening to Sentiment. The opening song ”Breaking The Chains” starts like Thunderstone’s ”Until We Touch The Burning Sun” and the overall mood on the whole cd is very much alike to Thunderstone’s music. But most of all Sentiment’s music is a mixture of the classic eighties metal and power metal and they’ve written songs they should be damn proud of, eventhough it’s nothing new on the planet. But hey, what is new then today ?

Even the Stratovarius master Timo Tolkki paid a visit on this cd, and his solo doesn’t diverge from the stuff we’ve heard him play in his own band. The keys bring a certain gothic romance feeling at times to the songs, even a doomsday feeling, but don’t worry, we’re still talking melodic metal here, not teary, suicidal, dark metal. This will definately give good vibes for any of you. It’s all a compilation of great melody passages and very sticky choruses. Now that the eighties metal is so trendy again, what would be the perfect band other than Sentiment to find their audience from there. They’ve got all the right elements in their music and their material sounds secure and familiar enough finding fans soon enough. They’ll definately work for the Malmsteen and Thunderstone fans (me being their fan too). To sum this all up Sentiment only lacks the record deal, so there’s a hint for you what to expect next from newcomers. Every song rocks, the only ballad being ”Remembrance”. You better check them out now from: www.sentimentband.com

NO MORE: "Gone"

Indie 2003
Review by Satu Reunanen,
26 february 2004

No more ! Well, I can’t really say so with this band and the name somewhat misleads you. The finnish youngsters No More play heavy/power metal, so forget any ideas about the exhibitious Faith No More or the metal-killer nu-metal bands that their name might lead you to. There’s five tracks plus intro on ”Gone”, and they all carry on their own. As a whole, ”Gone” once again shows how young finnish bands grow better and better all the time. There’s not a dull song here and the band shows good potential in creativity and songwritingwise, the beginning rocker ”Till I’m Gone” already says it all, not to mention the other blasters ”Nothing To Give”, ”One Life To Ruin” and ”Victim Of Rage”.

Among those songs there’s one ballad, ”Won’t Shed A Tear”, which is a normal, heartfelt ballad and could be even better with small, dramatic additions. Some arrangements sounded unfinished on the cd and the vocalist Arto Ala-Seppälä could take a few singing lessons to keep in tune and strengthen his voice, otherwise he’s got the voice to fit this music. The guitars have been mixed way on top though and the mixing is strangely too raw for todays recordings, be it an underground band even. With a proper work this would sound a lot better and as heavy as it should be. These are the things that scream out ”underground band !”. Some solos and the bands music itself at times surprisingly move somewhere in the Death Angel category from ”Act III” period or even earlier concidering the sounds, though their music has influences from all over, even Manowar or Virgin Steele, but main influences being todays heavy/power metal though. The keys are quite plain and classical influenced with a romantic, creepy feeling at times, but in this form they work in the songs.

Since the band found its final form only in 1999 and first started out as playing cover songs and they’re fairly young, you naturally don’t have high expectations at first hand. But I can hear these guys have a future ahead as musicians, they’ve got the writing skills and the player skills and can write songs that have the required twists and catchyness to keep the listeners attention in the songs and the music is heavy enough. All they need is a bit more practise. They’re a rough diamond, like most beginners, but better than the average. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for them. www.no-more.cjb.net


WITCHED: "Demo 2003"

Indie 2003
Review by
23 February 2003

Italian-based Witched wear their influences on their sleeve: their music is unashamedly eighties' styled hard rock. If I didn't know better, I could believe that this was a forgotten release from the era when bands like Warrant, Firehouse and Danger Danger were big news. Naturally it's a bit rougher (no major label budget or name producer obviously), but when it comes to hard rock cliches/trademarks (take your pick), the band has nailed it. They've got the big, anthemic rockers like "Electric Love" and "Wild Night", the power ballad "When I Close My Eyes" and even the token groovy/bluesy/jammin' track "The Last Time". I know it's totally unoriginal, but not that bad really. The arrangements could've been more flowing though, some of the songs just don't move along as well as they could.

The best tracks are the opener "Electric Love" which reminds me of Baton Rouge and Jack Ponti's songwriting, the melodic "Quicksand" and "Days Gone By". I must also mention "Wild Night", an okay song otherwise but the chorus just happens to be almost identical to that of Kane Roberts' "Wild Nights".

If you're hungry for some classic "Hair Metal", you can check out some of these songs on the bands' website I believe. Rock on!



Tony GREEN: "Demo 2003"

Indie 2003
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
31 January 2003

Way back in 1998 a song on the radio almost drove me crazy, because I couldn't find anything about its' performer anywhere. The song was "Sun (Could I Be In Love)" by Tony Green, and later I did find out who he was, got his album (review in the archives) and most recently I actually met the guy, as he joined Human Temple, a band I've been helping out. It's a small world...

Although Tony is a full-time member of Human Temple, he's still working on his solo material, and this six-track demo features songs set to appear on his second album. Unlike on his first album, Tony seems to have found a direction, and all these tracks could be described as modern pop rock with strong crossover potential. Actually, although it might be the worst compliment to a guy from Finland, these songs sound "Swedish"! The style is a bit similar to that of Martin Stenmarck, Jamie Meyer, Mikael Erlandsson...maybe you could add Roxette in there as well. And now that I'm throwing comparisons, there's no denying that there's a bit of Jon Bon Jovi in Tony's voice. You can find similarities to Savage Garden and Michael Learns To Rock too, and with a bit more darker, heavier production some of these songs could go into The Rasmus' direction.

Best tracks for my money were "Let It Go" and "Want You Back", both blessed with strong hooklines. The other four were pretty good as well, except for "Love Integrated", which was a bit too full of weird vocal effects. Don't know whether the vocals were meant to be as odd as they were, it could also be a computer problem or something.

I'm looking forward to hearing more of Tony's material, and I'm confident that his second album will blow the debut out of the water.


Patrick DECOSTE: "Patrick DeCoste"
Indie 2003

Review by Endre "Bandi" Hübner,
4 January 2004

Patrick DeCoste sent us a 6 track demo of his soon to be released debut album and I must say I'm really looking forward to hearing a full-length album from this guy. This is instrumental guitar music at its best with technically brilliant performance and mature songwriting. Though the CD contains 6 tracks only, they showcase a wide range of different approaches from mid- or uptempo classic rock guitar playing (Love in Misery, Breaking the Silence), through acoustic ballads (Premonition), modern over- effected rock (The New Millenium), to moody, almost bluesy approach with a light touch of jazz here and there (Greasy Fingers).

The info material does not list any contributing musicians and I'm sure Patrick recorded the drums using a drum machine or a sequencer software. Yet the drum sound is quite alive, and the loops are rather "human" [it shouldn't be a problem for any drummer to play them live]. I'm not so sure about the bass lines though, sometimes I can't decide if Patrick (or anybody else) played them or they were simply programmed because of a slightly "plastic" bass sound here and there with a huge dose of chorus on them [just to make it even harder for me to tell]. Whatever the case is the overall sound of the album is really good and in all of the tracks there is a different guitar sound that makes the album very vivid and really enjoyable. "Love in Misery" opens with style, it's a mid-tempo rock stomper with a cool groove and catchy, melodic lead. The sound is a little too edgy to these ears [makes me wonder if the lead track was heavily post-effected with some direct-x plug-in in a sequencer - sounds very transistor-overdriven or is that some ring modulation or just a heavy high EQ boost? - I can't tell - anyway if Patrick recorded the effected sound one has to wonder if there is a single led still working on his gear :)] "Premonition" leaves nothing to wonder about, it's a slow yet colorful acoustic ballad. As far as my ears can tell it was recorded on an electro-acoustic guitar. I'm looking forward to hear if the real album will feature a "real" acoustic version. It is one of the highlights of the album for me. "The New Millenium" follows with a modern guitar sounds, lots of delays and reverbs here but the playing and the sound of the drum machine recalls the classic debut album by Dave Sharman. According to Patrick's bio, the San Diego Gulls (ECHL pro hockey team) used "Breaking The Silence" for their home matches, it is definitely a heavy rocker to stomp your feet to.

An acoustic version of the National Anthem finishes the album [I'd rather call it a song inspired by the anthem, as it stands on its own quite well with some of them most important melodies of the anthem included]. There is a bonus track finishing the CD, it makes me wonder why Patrick called it so as this is probably the best track of the whole CD. "Greasy Fingers" is the best-written track here with a vivid arrangement featuring a well-done horn section, some cool jazzy parts (great guitar sound here!) and a pumping groove. This is the way to go! If the full-length album can live up to the quality of the demo, we'll really have something to look forward in 2004.


GRENDEL: "Promo 2003"

Indie 2003
Review by Petri Kautto,
5 January 2004

Grendel is back, this time with two new songs. Basically the band has not changed that dramatically from their previous demo “Fight Against Time”. They can still deliver the goods and their touch is as professional as it can get considering that this band is still unsigned.

The CD includes two songs. “Second Chance” is a blast of melodic metal with nice little nuances that make this one a delight to listen to. Everything is well in balance and the song rolls on quite nicely. This song together with “The Voidness” shows that the band is finding its own sound and now that they have enough good material for a full album I’d say they have a good chance of becoming something. If you haven’t looked into their music before you should check their website. They have a few songs to download there including the ones on this demo.

Older demo/indie reviews are now in Archives!