Archived Reviews: # A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Reviews Index

COOPER: "Your Trip Begins Here" 7

Indie 2004
Review by Martien Koolen,
14 June 2004

In 2003 five young musicians create a band with only one goal in mind: to come up with a rock sound without its equal. After only a couple of months of intense composing and rehearsing a five-track demo was recorded and together with a live experience of more than 1,000 shows Cooper brings you a dynamically musical journey and your trip begins here….

“Music From The Heart”, is the “acoustic” rock opener and it is a mainstream track with a certain Extreme, Thunder and Gotthard flavor. The second track “Who Is The One?” kicks off as a rock song, but because of the background vocals it sounds a bit too sweet sometimes. This one definitely reminds me of White Lion; John “JayCee” Cuijpers voice almost sounds like Mike Tramp here. “Backward Glance” is the best song; it has a great instrumental intro, followed by deja-vu guitar riffs and some Arabic/Oriental guitar solos and hooks. “Angel” is the odd one; a boring acoustic ballad which I already hated after one minute!

Last but not least Cooper gives us “Let Me Out!”, a true hard rock song, with lots of singing that could do rather well as a single. All in all, this mini-album is not bad, but also not outstanding, lets wait for their first complete real album to give these guys an honest judgment.


Alice COOPER: "Brutal Planet" 8

Spitfire 2000
Review by Vesa Nuorala

This is perfect Alice album in my opinion. No more poisons and stuff, it's back to "No More Mr. Nice Guy" and "Welcome To My Nightmare".

This is a heavy album, dark and full of anger. The words are amazing on this album, they are amusing and make one smile even though the music isn't fun. Gotta love Alice!

Bob Marlette has produced this and it's hard to believe that it's the same guy that has worked with Rick Springfield. This is as far from RS as anything can be.

Alice is back with a vengeage and even though he isn't "Wicked Young Man" he still gives us chills. My favourite songs are "Sanctuary" and "It's The Little Things". "Sanctuary" will be played in our soccer team's lockerroom before every game from now on.

This is way better than the last CD Alice put out, but it still kind of follows the same route. Perfect dark album.

Here is the tracklisting: Brutal Planet, Wicked Young Man, Sanctuary, Blow Me A Kiss, Eat Some More, Pick Up The Bones, Pessi-mystic, Gimme, It's The Little things, Take It Like AWoman, Cold Machines.

Alice COOPER: "The Eyes Of Alice Cooper" 8

Spitfire Records 2003
Review by 14 September 2003

I really loved the album “Dragon town” and “Brutal Planet” even more, but this new album is completely different than those two. Alice goes back to basics on this album and he tries to create a “live” feeling or garage feeling with “The Eyes Of Alice Cooper”. He hired Andrew Mudrock Murdock as the producer and he did just what Alice had in mind. Thirteen “raw” rock and roll, hard rock songs are on this album and the material is best compared with an album like “The Last Temptation”.

The cd kicks of with a “classic” Cooper track – “What Do You Want From Me”- which reminds me of “Elected” or “School’s Out”. “Man Of The Year” could also turn into a live classic while “Novocaine” almost sounds like a rock and roll song. “Bye Bye Baby” is the modern version of “Under My Wheels” and “Be With You Awhile” is the first ballad; however it is not as good as e.g. “Only Women Bleed”. The best songs are the last two “heavy” tracks, called “I’m So Angry” and “Backyard Brawl”; this is metal up your ass material with very intense vocals and “brutal” guitar riffs.

Of course Alice treats us to a few weird songs again. “This House Is Haunted” is a creepy, spooky, mysterious “shock” song which brings out the “best” in Alice; check it out! “The Song That Didn’t Rhyme” is a very quiet song; not really a ballad, but what is it?? Single material could be “Love Should Never Feel Like This” with a very catchy refrain or “Detroit City”, a splendid hard rock track typical for Alice. All 13 songs are co-written by Alice Cooper, Eric Dover and Ryan Roxie and the band is completed by Eric Singer and Chuck Garric. It is an album you have to hear a lot of times to really appreciate it, but then you realize it is again a contemporary rock and roll album from a classic rock legend. Alice still rules!!!

COPPERTREE: "Left of Somewhere" 7

Indie 2000

Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom 01-03-16

Hmmm! Here´s a nice surprise that really came out of the blue. COPPERTREE is a new band to me but LEFT OF SOMEWHERE is actually their second release and this American band brings us some catchy ROCK/POP is the same kinda style as band such as COUNTING CROWS, MATCHBOX 20 & SAVAGE GARDEN. Maybe not every man´s poison but I find them damn catchy and full of hooks.

I´m sure that fans of HOOTERS (the band :-) and the new BON JOVI will enjoy this disc too. The production by the band and Kenny Lewis sounds really good and vocalist Jim Gray has a strong and "warm" voice that will make the girls scream, even if his range is maybe not so wide.

I find it really strange that these guys are not more famous, after all this is the music of "today" and they´ve been the Talk of The Town in BOSTON for years now. Guitarist JUSTIN ? is all over the first track "Emotion" and it´s a really good Rock song with a catchy riff. "Changing" has been licensed by MTV for the shows "Road Rules" & "Real World" and it´s a nice track but not at all their best one. But next track "Image Makers" really knocks me down, the chorus is really catchy and it could be a world wide hit with the right distribution and promotion. "Argentina Smile" is a good ballad and "Your everything" is another killer track with some lovely melodies. "She said" is a good uptempo rocker with some U2 guitars and "No time" is a midtempo song a-la BON JOVI / SAVAGE GARDEN. This is not an album for the narrow-minded (who?) but if you like catchy POP/Rock and the above mentioned bands make sure to check ´em out cuz this Rocks (in a soft way). You can listen to a couple of tracks and buy the CD at: official site is

CORNERSTONE: "Arrival" 8

Massacre 2000

Review by Kimmo Toivonen 20-01-01

Cornerstone is a project of Royal Hunt bassist Steen Mogensen and ex-Rainbow vocalist Dougie White. These two talented musicians have put an impressive collection of songs together in the progressive melodic hard rock style. Their sound lies somewhere between Royal Hunt, Asia, Dare and Queensrÿche, with a strong emphasis on smooth and layered keyboards (played by Andre Andersen of Royal Hunt). With any luck, this band could make a big impression on both the AOR market AND the Progressive/Melodic Metal market.

"Arrival" is not an instant album. It took me a few spins to get into it, but eventually I did and now I must say I really enjoy it. The songs are highly melodic, and the production and arrangements are quite colourful, with Andersen's keyboards and White's excellent vocals upfront. The album is a bit ballad-heavy, with most of the songs being moody midtempo numbers or actual ballads. That might make it a bit hard to swallow for those into the "don't bore us - get to the chorus" approach.

The quality of the songs is high throughout the album, with only a couple of less impressive moments in there. The highlights for my money are the uptempo tracks "Jungle", "Top Of The World" and "Fooled", but among the slower tracks there are some real gems too, like the very Asia/Dare-like "Walked On The Water" and "Straight To The Bone". Great athmospheric melodic rock music, and highly recommended! The only thing to complain about is the title of the album - both Journey and Norway have also used it recently...

CORNERSTONE: "Human Stain" 8

Massacre 2002
Review by 23 February 2002

Vocalist Dougie White of Rainbow fame and Royal Hunt-er Steen Mogensen follow up the excellent first Cornerstone album "Arrival" with this one, and do it with a changed style. The almost ethreal, somewhat Dare-like sound of "Arrival" has been replaced with a classic hard rock sound.

It's interesting that I am not a big fan of the likes of Deep Purple, but somehow Cornerstone has managed to create an album that is clearly influenced by DP and Rainbow, but at the same time quite up-to-date. It's like they've taken all the best elements of those bands, added their own ingredients and come up with something very tasty!

I won't go thru all the tracks, I'll just say that they're all good. Two highlights deserve to be mentioned separately though: "Singing Alone" is a brilliant ballad, and "Resurrection Sympathy" is highly melodic, catchy track with an awesome chorus. These two tracks are the ones most likely to appeal to those into the first album, and then it's up to one's taste whether the remaining, somewhat seventies' sounding tracks make a good impact. To me they did, and really, I don't think that the average hard rock fan could be too disappointed. Just don't expect "Arrival part two".

Hugh CORNWELL: "In The Dock"

Track Records 2003
Review by 25 July 2003

I believe this to be Cornwell's second live album release, during a short time of period. The ex-Stranglers frontman has apparently been busy recording various live gigs lately. "In The Dock" is a lovely stripped down show, featuring Mr.Hugh Cornwell and his guitar only on stage at Leicester Guildhall.

I've always though of "Golden Brown" as one of the really classic songs out there. Not exactly what you'd expect from a UK Punk-band in the first place. It dates back to The Stranglers 1981 album "La Folie" and this acoustic version (which opens up this CD) is absolutely marvelous. What you get here is 12 acoustic tracks that all feels good, I must however admit that it gets a bit boring in the long run.

I'm not sure if Stranglers was a real "Punk" band, and Cornwell was certainly too posh anyhow? He attended Bristol University, studying Biochemistry in the early 70's and ended up working at the laboratory of Lund University in Sweden. Not exactly what I'd call a "working class man" or a punk rebel. He actually started up "The Stranglers" while living in Sweden too. He goes through oldies like "Nice'N'Sleazy" and "Always The Sun", with both skill and finess here. The sterile and naked approach to all the songs, doesn't leave much for mistakes or hickups. The audience seems to be enjoying it, even though songs like: "Black Hair, Black Eyes, Black Shut" or "Hot Cat On Thin Roof", do sound better in their original versions. Old fans will surely enjoy this laid-back album. The 5 CD-rom bonus videos of: "Hanging Around", Goodbye Toulouse", "Tramp", "Dead Los Angeles" and "Midnight Summer Dream", is a nice treat for the fans.

COSMOSQUAD: "Squadrophenia" 8

Mascot Records 2002

Review by 2 June 2002

Mascot Records comes up with very interesting instrumental releases time after time. The second album by Cosmosquad is another example of them. The L.A. based trio managed to melt futuristic progressive metal, African tribal rhythms, jazzy sounding fusion, and classic instrumental rock guitar playing into a digestible mix. I know it's hard to believe and usually attempts to mix so many different styles end up in a chaotic, "faceless" musical mess but Cosmosquad is the exception to the rule. The band managed to create a sound of their own which is entertaining all through the album.

"Creepy Spider" opens the album and shows what the signature sound of the trio is all about. Ethnic sounding percussion and a tight, heavy bass-drum groove give the basis for spherical guitar soloing for a song with several tempo and mood changes. Definitely an ear-candy for those who appreciate experimenting instrumental music. Including the band's contribution to the Jason Becker tribute album here ("Jam For Jason") was a very wise choice, it fits very well in the atmosphere of the release and Chris Poland and Vinnie Moore's guitar playing gives an interesting contrast to Cosmosquad guitarist Jeff Kollman's. I have to admit Moore being one of my favorite instrumental guitarists this, along with "In Loving Memory" are my favorite track of the album. The latter one is haunting ballad with wonderful melodies, more in the vein of classic instrumental guitar rock.

However the real strength and uniqueness of the band is the above mentioned tribal ethnic sounding fusion rock approach. Some more great examples of that would be "Road To Tanzania / Tribal Trance", the high-tech "Godzilla's Revenge". For those who prefer easy-to-get-into instrumental anthems my recommendations would be the funky-groovy "Winter In Innisfal", the already mentioned "In Loving Memory", and "Chinese Eyes" another track with a cool funky bass-line and some tricky guitar riffs. The production by drummer Shane Gaalas and guitarist Jeff Kollman is a fine piece of craftsmanship, melts classic rock sound with experimenting, galactic new age sound. All this topped by great musicianship, the album is definitely recommended for fans of instrumental music, especially those who are not afraid to experiment with different styles and modern sound.


David COVERDALE & Whitesnake: "Restless Heart" 6

EMI 1995
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

As the reviews I had read about this album suggested, This is quite different from the previous Whitesnake albums. The opener "Don't Fade Away" proves it instantly: it is a very mellow song, a very strange choice for an opener. Actually the whole album is quite mellow and bluesy, apart from a few rockers like "All In The Name Of love" and "Restless Heart". Indeed, some of the songs are a bit too bluesy for me, but there's still enough good tracks to make this a quite enjoyable album.
Overall, I'd say this album is closer to Manic Eden than the late eighties Whitesnake sound. That isn't really surprising, because Adrian Vandenberg was the main writer in ME and is also heavily involved in writing of this album.

Album of The Month

David COVERDALE: "Into The Light" 10

EMI 2000
Review by Vesa Nuorala 3-11-00

"The Man with The Voice" has made an almost perfect record. I love Whitesnake so to me this was one of the most awaited albums of the year. This is an excellent follow-up to Reckless Heart, even better than it was.

This is not as rockin' as Whitesnake albums. The songs are bluesy, typical Coverdale style songs and they just sweep you away. When you put this CD on everything around you just disappears...

Good thing that David stuck to his ways and forgot the whole Van Halen bs. This music is what he was meant to be doing. Coverdale always writes about love and I think that there is no one better than him doing the job. He could have made a couple more rockin' tunes here but they're not necessary by any means. Maybe with next album he'll put out a few more of those kind of tunes. I might add that Coverdale has a great backup band again, so the quality of musicianship here is also great.

I just love this CD. Now we just need a tour that reaches Finland. In my opinion, this one goes there along with D2 as the album of the year.

CRAZY SWEEPER: "Backsliders"

Indie 2002
Review by 24 February 2003

From the yoddeling land with chocolate fields and tiny army knife's, comes Crazy Sweeper. Some of you may remember that I reviewed their previous two albums, back in the "Catchy Hooks" days (I noticed that Catchy Hooks is still, on their thank you list). They have really matured since though and "Backsliders" is without a doubt, their best effort so far.

You can actually find some similarities to another Swiss band here... namely Gotthard. The line-up consist of: Laurent Progin (vocals), Emilio Porras (guitar), Serge Peter (guitar), Pascal Baudin (bass) and Dany Peter (drums). This is what I'd call a good independent CD with nice production and solid material. I'm especially fond of the killer guitar work by Porras & Peter. They are all over this CD with wicked shredding, nice licks, and power riffs. "Backsliders" is without a doubt, ten times better than their previous records. The cover everything from slow-songs to fast rockers with excellent skill and finess. This is almost good enough to fight with the big boys and Crazy Sweeper really deserves a break here. They may have the lamest band-name right now, but they do know how to rock. Do yourself a favor and check'em out, at the site below:


CREED: "Human Clay" 6

Wind-Up Entertainment 2000
Review by Vesa Nuorala 15-03-01

I had to buy this because these guys have sold millions in the US. [Ed: Sucker! You fell for the marketing!] See, we're spending also a lot of our own money here, not just reviewing promo stuff! I can't get it why this is selling so much, sure this rocks but I think Live did this already with "Throwing Copper"... well they sold millions too. There must be hundreds of bands like this around the world and I wonder, what does Creed have that the other ones don't? [Ed: ehh... at least now they have lotsa money! :)] They must have been in the right place at the right time. At least this is nothing like Korn and the biscuit band. [Ed: I think Vesa means Limp Biz..z.z. you know, that bad. Don't make me write it down!]

The hit song "With Arms Wide Open" is a pretty beautiful song about becoming a parent but what does a young high school student know about that. [Ed: as in "a typical Creed fan"? Ok, I get it...] Lot of hidden anger here and true words about life, which is good. However, this band probably won't be around for many years. They have sold enough already to have a great life. I wish they would do another album quickly so we could see if there is more to this band than just this cd.

Ok some other songs worth mentioning are "Beautiful" (this is what life should be), "Are You Ready?" (a pretty good opener). As I said, not bad, but Live has done this before. Three stars, just because I like Live.

The CREEK: "The Creek & Storm The Gate" 7

Escape 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
8 May 2004

Pimp rockers... ehem... Pomp rockers The Sugarcreek decided to get rid of their sweetness and therefore adopted 'The Creek' name. This is yet another fine digipack 2-CD box release from Escape Music. However, the music sort of ends up as the lite' version of their past. Yup! don't you just hate all those light/lite drinks anyways??? [Calory-conscious reviews' Ed: "No!"]

Don't get me wrong, I find their self titled CD from 1986 to be really good... even without the sugar ingredience. It received all praise and 5 K's in Kerrang by the gobsmacked reviewer, back in the days. Nontheless, I always found their sophomore release "Storm The Gate" (1989), to be rather poor and average performed melodic rock. Tracks like "Foxy", the unbelievable cheesy ballad "I Love", the awful cover of "Hanky Panky", the below average "Fountain Of Youth", and the uninspired instrumental "The Climb", are enough reasons to call this a average release. It really doesn't help much that "Storm The Gate", "Rock Me Tonight", and "On My Way", are all superb. However, you'll also get four bonus tracks from the "Loaded And Lethal" era. This was originally a cassette release, recorded sometime after "Storm The Gate", with new vocalist Jay Willard (ex-Illusion). Especially "Keri Anne" is a real goodie, with its similar sound to Icon's "A More Perfect Union" material.

The 1986 release is actually a couple of years behind its time. The music is stuck in the early 80's sound and if I didn't know the answer already, I would have guessed 1983 or so here. It still has that "Pomp-ish" vibe and more in common with acts like Balance, Franke And The Knockouts, (and of course Sugarcreek), than say Bon Jovi's "Slippery When Wet" or Europe's "The Final Countdown" (big melodic releases during 1986). Bottomline, two thumbs up for the first disc, while the second disc doesn't hold as many good tracks.

Frank CRESPO: "Next To Andromeda" 7

Maldi To Alcatraz 2002

Review by 12 October 2002

When playing this album I had a very strange feeling about it. This is a feeling that keeps coming back when playing some of today’s instrumental albums released by previously unknown artists. Somehow I smell sweat, feel the anxiety and insecurity of a job applicant who enters the waiting room of his (hopefully) future working place to be measured up along with dozens of other applicants. So here it is how it looks this time:

To the Recruiting Manager of Guitar Heroes Inc.
69 Black Star Road
E(ruption) Building, R(ubina) Floor
Detroit Rock City
5155 USA

Dear Sir,
Hereby I would like to apply for the job of the next guitar wonder kid advertised in last week’s Guitar World under the moniker “I Would Love To” and also for the job of the next guitar hero advertised in Guitar Player under the moniker “Flying In A Blue Dream”. I believe I possess all the necessary skills required for the job, I am ambitious, well-schooled, can bear monotony of eternal practicing, and I am armed with experience working on related fields of music industry when releasing my first solo album “Next To Andromeda”. The aforementioned album showcases how diverse my playing can be, how fast, how soulful, how innovative I am at my work, both electric and acoustic. The only downside I can think of when playing it over and over again is that I tend to forget about entertainment and try to prove my skills all the time. But this is what required lately at the job I am applying for, right? Attached please find my CV.

Personal Data:
Name: Frank Crespo
Date of birth: unknown
Place of birth: somewhere in Spain

Education and Qualifications:
Jorge Lario School - Modern Guitar studies
Rafael Zaragozam Jaume Pla, Jose Danial Flors - Modern harmony and composition studies
G.I.T. (Los Angeles) - intensive course on different styles

Work experience:
Session recordings for Seven Leguas, Dislate Acre, Eighty Years, Los Piston, Eleven, etc.
Teaching at “Guitar Sound” school of guitar in Valencia

Left Hand - methodical book
Next To Andromeda - instrumental CD.

Will the guy ever get the jobs he applied for? Nobody knows, odds are pretty weak cuz the competition is very strong. However his bio mentions that has chosen him to be artist of the month in the undiscovered section. My take is that he surely can play but the production of the album is lacking, and he tries way too many different approaches without establishing a signature sound or a style of his own. Honestly it’s hard to tell if that is due to the lack of experience or the lack of that special spark that makes Satch to be Satch and Vai to be Vai. Time and listeners will tell. As the bio doesn’t list any website, try to contact Frank directly for info on distribution:

CROSSFADE: "White On Blue" 7

MTM Music 2004
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
13 April 2004

Crossfade is a project put together by guitarist Lars Hallbäck and keyboardist Richard Stenström, who started writing songs together in 1999. A while later they were joined by one of the leading melodic rock voices, Göran Edman, and the rhythm section of drummer Per Lindvall and his bassplaying brother Sven. The one missing piece of the puzzle was one Eva Olsson, who wrote all the lyrics, customized especially for Göran's voice.

Edman might be best known for his work with Yngwie Malmsteen, Kharma and John Norum, all a bit heavier acts, but he's no stranger to smooth AOR either, take Street Talk as an example. It might be the closest thing to Crossfade from Edman's other projects, but I'd still say that this is something even smoother. We're talking about pure westcoast styled soft rock, which borders on jazz at times.

The whole album is immaculately produced, arranged and performed, with Edman shining on vocals. Having said that, some of the songs are just too smooth and polished for my taste, that's why my rating won't go any higher. "Vanity Fair", "Flying" and "Don't Really Matter" are just way too jazzy/r'n'b-like for me. I may be narrow-minded, but there's something about these tracks that makes me reach for the remote control...if you can tolerate jazz in your rock, give 'em a try...

There's still quite a lot for a common melodic rock fan (even with a jazz allergy) to enjoy. Majority of the album is fine soft rock in the vein of Toto, Chicago and the likes, mostly classy balladic material like "A Deeper Shade Of Love", "The Day That Music Died" and "Loving Eyes". Interestingly enough, the most rock-oriented track - and my favourite - "You" has been chosen as the closing number...

CROSSFADE: "Crossfade" 5

Sony/Columbia 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
11 May 2004

Not to be confused with that Weastcoast act at MTM Music with singer Göran Edman (Yngwie Malmsteen, Madison, John Norum, Kharma, Street Talk, etc). This Crossfade has recently been signed to Sony/Columbia in the states. Which sort of makes sense as they combine P.O.D. and Nickelback influences on their debut CD.

They were previously known as Sugardaddy Superstars, under which moniker they also released a rather successful independent CD. Their first big budget release is however co-produced by Randy Staub (Nickelback, P.O.D. The Cult, Metallica, etc.), and it certainly shows in the bottom heavy, yet crystal clear production.

The selling points with this band are definitly their power riffing and the soaring vocals by Ed Sloan (vocals/guitar). He actually comes out sounding like a better version of James Hetfield (Metallica), every now and then. The remaining members of the band are Tony Byroads (guitar/vocals), Mitch James (bass), and Brian Geiger (drums). I could add that Byroads also handles the turntable and samples. There's only occasional sampling and such on this CD though. There's only ten tracks included and it's a bit on the short side. Especially since you can find a couple too many fillers here. "Starless" is a shameful flirt with P.O.D. even though it works, much thanks to its aggressive attitude. "So Far Away", with its mega catchy chorus, is definitly a 50/50 mixture of Nickelback and Mars Electric. "Death Trend Setta" reminded me of something Clawfinger did in the mid-90's. Let's just say the angry lyrics, rap, and metal music, doesn't always work out well together. The real winner is however "No Giving Up", as it's a perfect display of US "hardrock" of today. It's everything that P.O.D. and Nickelback stands for, and it's hardly anything new or original. MTV will probably promote the crap outta this. The bottomline is that it's very safe and half of the material is darn right boring.


Voodoo Island Records 2002
Review by 4 September 2002

Mr. Jean Beauvoir strikes again with his legendary band Crown Of Thorns. After the disapointing 2000 release Destiny Unknown, here he comes again with "Karma". A much better release IMO, but different and still a long way to go from their classic eponomous debut.

Karma presents itself as a hard edged album, with a good sound yet not outstanding. Tracks here have a melodic rock feeling but with an attitude so to say. That's good in my book, the opener "Believer" may be not suitable to introduce what the overall mood of the album is like, as is a bit softer than the average on the CD. Much finer examples are "Gotta Get Next To You" or "Till You Have Enough", both being hard rocking tunes, the latter a good uptempo rocker that should work really well live, I guess. "Shed No Tears" is a duet co-written and sung by Mr. Beauvoir and Doro Pesch, and it gets you in the heart, being one of the finest duets I've listened in a long time, brilliant performance by both and a really nice ballad. This one alone would be worth buying the album, but wait as there are quite a few tracks really worthy.

"Before It Slips Away" has a brilliant intro and verses but to me the chorus, being nicely done, fails to what otherwise is a great tune. "Let's Start Over Again" is a melancholic track with an uprising spirited catchy chorus and fine backing vocals. It suits well for "I'm Sorry", the second ballad on the CD, this time performed by Jean Beauvoir alone. A nice keyboard driven song with nice and simple backing vocals and good lyrics. It could have been well on their debut as it is in the same vein as those there. "Alone Again" brings us back to the harder side, good rocker but not one of those songs you'll remember after listening to it once. "Keep On Survivin'" is closer to the trademark COT sound (if such thing exists after so many variations of sound and style throughout their career), being a catchy uptempo rocker with lots of keys, and vocal harmonies. one of the highlights on the album definitely. The ending track, "Once In My Life" is yet another ballad with a nice blend of acoustic and keys on it developing into a full band song. A good choice to close the CD with.

As a result, this is not the best CD on their career so if you are still waiting for another album on the vein of their debut keep on dreaming. But this album is far better than their previous one, and the songs on it keep on being melodic as Mr. Beavoir knows what he's doing. If you are a fan of him, or if you like melodic hard rock with an edge, then this album is highly recommended. It might be suitable for not very die hard pure AOR fans as it's got tons of melodies and keys on it. Quite good, but not a masterpiece, is it enough for you? Sure it is for me! :-)
Point Music

CRUSH 40: "Crush 40" 7

Frontiers 2003
Review by 11 Mars 2003

Stakk attakk!!! Indeed, The Frisco based Japanese guitarist Jun Senoue, turn his amps up to ten and never turns it down again. The first thing you'll notice about CRUSH 40 are those killer riffs and shredding licks, that go on and on throughout the whole album.

You may notice from the following info, that this is not exactly your ordinary Melodic Hardrock album. Jun is a full-time music composer of Sega videogames, ever since he graduated from college in 1993. In fact, nine of the eleven tracks included here was originally released in Japan only (2000), under the monicker "Sons of Angels - Thrill Of It All".

All these nine tracks are sung by Johnny Gioeli (Hardline, Axel Rudi Pell) and were written for the Sega game "Sonic Adventure 2 Battle". Opening track "Live And Learn" is actually the main theme, from the above mentioned videogame. I really must mention the guitarwork by Jun again, since he simply kicks ass. He shreds in the tradition of Ed Van Halen with a touch of the insanity of Vinnie Vincent. This gives the whole CD a party-time feeling and many uptempo tracks are to be found here. The lyrics are very "Sega" inspired though with lots of 'Fight the good fight, Stand strong together, Power and Speed' etc. This doesn't take away the thrill of it all though and the songs are very uplifting. This is way better than the latest Hardline CD and tracks like "Live And Learn", "Into The Wind", "In The Lead", "Watch Me Fly", "All The Way", etc. are all winners in my book. There's also two bonus tracks added for this Euro release and Jun's been using two other lead vocalist here. Tony Harnell (TNT, Westworld) sings "It Doesn't Matter", which is a great party rocker. Like a more 80's sounding version of Westworld actually. "Escape From The City" features ex-Danger Danger (now Melodica), vocalist Ted Poley. A nice, but short (2:20), uptempo track with the best production where Poley's been involved with since the DD days. Everything sound so much better than his Melodica project and this is the way Poley should always sound like. Some of the tracks are indeed "childsh" and a bit dull perhaps. You can find a couple of really lame fillers (like the incredibly boring "Fuel Me"). But this is overall a pretty nice guitar-album, for all of us who never really want to grow old [:-)].

CRUSHING DAYS: "A Tribute To Joe Satriani" 7

Progressive Arts Music 2001

Review by Nick Baldrian 01-09-28

The eighties was a good time for hard rock and instrumental guitar music. Satriani's debut album "Not Of This Earth" introduced fans to a new player who had something personal to say with his music. His second album "Surfing With The Alien" was one of the first instrumental releases to receive big time commercial chart exposure, thus elevating Satriani to major success.

"Surfing" would be an album along with Steve Vai's "Passion And Warfare" that any future guitar albums would have to level up to. Even the genius that is Edward Van Halen failed to live up to expectation on 1991's haphazard "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge", of which has seen Van Halen decline in technique ever since, let's face it what has this man actually done in the last 15 years except stick to what he's best know for? H hasn't really developed his style further has he.

Anyway Satch has always given us quality albums, and with each album he tries something new and experimental so it's with honour that musicians have gathered together to pay respect to this wonderful axe man who has rarely being bettered since.

Musicians featured throughout the album are Candadian star Slav Simanic (one of the best players around today), David Martone, Halford's Mike Chlasciak, the amazing and underrated Ron Thal, Steve Booke, Joboj, The Magic Elf's Carl Roa and the magical Terry Syrek amongst others, all doing their bit to pay homage to Satch with unforgettable songs such as 'Crushing Day' 'Satch Boogie', 'Driving At Night', 'Always With Me Always With You', 'Ice 9', 'Hordes Of Locusts' and 'New Day'

A good release, I'd like to have seen the musicians add more of their own identities to the songs like what Terry Syrek has done with 'New Day', instead of recording exact identical replicas, thus would have made for a more compelling release anyway if your a Satch fan, you'll love this, a perfect homage none the less.

CRY HAVOC: "Fuel That Feeds The Fire" 5

Chavis Records 2002
Review by 27 October 2002

There can only be one - I'm not entirely sure if Cry Havoc is the band to stand all the tests in the end. They are indeed from Glasgow/Scotland, the home of the highlander/highlands and McLeod is the name of one of founding members here [:-)].

Their debut album is long time coming though as I remember hearing some of their work already in 1996. They actually signed a two album deal with Now&Then back then and everything was all set to go. However, the label turned down this very album I'm writing about and their follow up recording session was canceled not once, but twice. N&T decided also later to pull the plug on the project.

Fast forward to late 2001 when N&T gave their blessing to shop the album around to other labels. Chavis Records in US decided to give it a go and here we are today. The main question would be: Do Cry Havoc really have the "Fuel That Feeds The Fire"? Well... I'm not quite sure really as many of the songs here lacks the hook that feeds the hungry. Yeah, I know... pretty lame excuse for a review but go ahead and sue me if ya'like (especially if your name is Sue). This is overall a nice guitar oriented hardrock CD, with nice musicians and nice performances. Sadly, that's also the biggest problem with the album. Everything is so darn 'nice' and steeped into the same formula used so many times before only with a better result. Songs like "Holding On To Your Dreams", "No Way Out", "Paying The Price" or "Heart On My Sleeve" adds absolutely nothing to the pile of overused melodies in rock. It's not really a question of "heard it all before" rather than "this song really needs a better hook/chorus". They do have a couple of really great songs such as opener "I'll be There", the superb semi-ballad "Rescue You" and the uptempo rocker "Long Way To Heaven". All in the Winger meets Crown Of Thorns tradition I may add, of course with a big dose of their own style into the mix. I'm sure I wont recieve any X-mas card from the lads, but I'm not really into this to become 'friends with the stars' either. Best of luck with the next album and let's hope it wont take as long as the debut.

CRYPTIC VISIONS: "Cryptic Visions" 7

RapidFire 2000

Review by Urban “Wally” Wallstrom 01-03-16

Hey! Take a close look at the CD cover above and you might already know what kinda music this is! Yes CRYPTIC VISIONS is a MELODIC Power Metal band from the USA! Well... maybe not really cuz you can hear some PROGRESSIVE influences too and with some ex.members from the speed metal band TYRANT´S REIGN you can for sure understand that they play some really cool metal.

But melodic friends should not be scared away of these facts! No, female keyboardist MICHELE O´DAY is a big part of their "pretty" mellow sound. I most say that it´s really difficult to describe their sound as they change it from one song to another. But imagine a mixture of influences from 80´s bands such as QUEENSRYCHE, SAVATAGE, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN & IRON MAIDEN.

They really have a sound of their own and vocalist RUSSELL BARRON have got a great, powerful voice that can cut through glass. Opener "PHOENIX RISING" starts with a cool bass intro a-la IRON MAIDEN before it kicks off in rage! Some crunching guitars by JEFF BAGERPOU but also some calmer parts with mostly bass & keys (kinda like Iron Maiden again). "STREET ANGER" is a nice Metal rocker that fans of SAVATAGE & METAL CHURCH will enjoy. But I like their calmer songs more, like the superb "ETERNAL DREAMS", a semi-ballad with some lovely keys and guitar work. "RUSHED" is another great song that sounds like a strange mix of QUEENSRYCHE, SAVATAGE & STYX (no kidding) but the best track on this CD is the semi ballad "CAN´T STOP THE PAIN" with some really sentimental lyrics and a sound like if WHITESNAKE/LED ZEP would hang out with the dudes from SAVATAGE. Find out more and buy the CD at

CRYSTAL: "Collection" 7

Songhouse/AORHeaven 2000

Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom 01-03-16

Here´s another "Blast from the past" that have finally been released on CD! CRYSTAL was formed in early 1983 by: ANDY NOSSAL (Vocals/Bass), GRADY McGREW (Guitars), BILL CORNISH (Keyboards) & RICK WILLIAMS (Drums). They released their first album back in 1985 and they´ve been touring all over USA and Japan between the years 1983 - 1995.

This is a collection (no kidding) of songs that they´ve recorded in 1989 & 1993! They are all produced by the ELEFANTE brothers JOHN & DINO known from the MASTEDON project, their own record label and JOHN (who also sings background vocals) is of course ex.KANSAS. What you get is a really good AOR/Melodic Hardrock album a-la WHITE SISTER & RAINBOW (the "Bent out of Shape" album) & DAKOTA filled with catchy songs, lovely melodies and a lot of keyboards.

Too bad that there are only 8 songs on this CD and a playing time of only 35 minutes just isn´t enough in these days. Maybe they should have thrown in a couple of songs from their PAUL SABU (Only Child) session, he produced a cassette demo back in 1987. Oh well... most of these songs are really good! In fact the only song that sounds a bit out of place is "Time keeps runnin" with a good pre-chorus but a really weak chorus. The pre-chorus sounds a lot like MARILLION and when I think about it, the superb vocalist Andy Nossal sounds like a mixture of RICK CHADOCK (White Sister) & FISH (Marillion) strange but good. "In the Night" starts with a nice guitar intro by Grady McGrew and there´s no doubt he´s been influenced by RICHIE BLACKMOORE cuz the licks sounds a lot like RAINBOW. The chorus is pretty catchy with some great vocal harmonies. "Point of view" has the same kinda RAINBOW guitar sound but a more straight ahead AOR chorus that rocks. "I´m a Dreamer" is a superb AOR rocker with some awesome piano/keyboards by Bill Cornsih; classic stuff. "Always be there" sounds a lot like the first album from WHITE SISTER, I really like it and not to forget the mega-catchy "One life" with some outstanding vocal harmonies, some powerful and steady drums by Rick Williams, and a chorus that reminds me a bit of TREAT. Check ´em out at and buy this CD at:

CRYSTAL BALL: "Hellvetia" 4

Nuclear Blast 2003
Review by 6 October 2003

This is the fourth album of melodic power metal rockers Crystal Ball. To be honest I have never heard the other three cds; but they all got excellent reviews; especially in Germany and Switzerland. Maybe this was due to the fact that Tommy Newton did the production of those previous albums. For “Hellvetia”, Crystal Ball decided to work with another producer, namely Stefan Kaufmann(ex- Accept and now U.D.O.).

However I still think that this albums is a typical stereotype hard rock album that will not stand the test of time. In my humble opinion most of the songs are out-dated, simplistic and very old-fashioned. Tracks like “Hellvetia” – with yodeling!!! – or “My Life” are simple up-tempo rockers that belong in the eighties. Very familiar guitar riffs and super simplistic lyrics are the trade marks of most of the songs on this album. Maybe the best description for a song like “Forever And Eternally” is waggish, which says it all, I think….

Just listen to the dreadful ballad “Wasn’t It Love”, at the end of the album, and you will not buy this cd. Singer Mark Sweeney, whose voice is rather mediocre, sounds like a crow with a terrible cold on this track. There is no account for taste, but it goes without saying that “Hellvetia” is without any doubt not my taste; but I still expect that a lot of fans of German like hard rock will appreciate this album. For those I would say: enjoy, for the rest of you, my advice is: keep your money in your pocket for this album.

CRYSTAL BLUE: "Detour" 9

MTM Music 2003
Review by 23 May 2003

After a short "Detour" and a quick snack at the drive-in, Sweden's Crystal Blue is finally "Back On Track" again. It's actually been nine (9) long years since their acclaimed album, "Caught In The Game". I was never really a big fan of the album and I still believe it to be very overrated somehow. Well, let's just say its reputation is better than its music (read: pretty crappy actually).

I'm glad to report they've really matured since back then. Everything from production, songmaterial, to musician performances, is ten times better than in the past. Stephen Nykvist is no longer with the band though and keyboardist Thomas Lassar, has taken over all vocal duties. Something he does with excellence and his work is indeed commendable. Lassar is obviously inspired by a certain Joey Tempest here. Not a deadringer, but you'll recognize some phrases and ummm... dare I say poses? Makes you wonder why he didn't sing in the first place really.

Original members: Lassar (keys/vocals), Ove Lundqvist (guitars) & David Persson (bass) are still with us for this reunion. Only drummer Fredrik Larsson is a new face since last time. "Detour" is very much the classic, 80's, AOR/Melodic Rock sound of Sweden. The keyboards are as important to the overall sound as the guitars. The melodies are catchy, the attitude is fluffy, and darn it... you could swear it's Mic Michaeli (Europe) on keys too. I really can't single out any favorite songs either. They're all part of the whole picture somehow and they've done a freakin' marvelous CD here. Everything from opening track "Damage" to the closing ballad "Sylvia", will have you up and dancing on the tables. A must have if you're into Europe's "Out Of This World", Bad Habit's debut, Dalton's "The Race Is On", or simply put, the classic Swedish AOR sound. Two thumbs up and congrats to everybody involved! It's always nice to witness a band, who've actually done a much better comeback, than previous albums. You can't help to wonder, what if... it'd been released back in the 80's instead!!!??? My favorite "pure AOR" CD of the year (I guess this means that On The Rise is #2 now), and very, very, close to a perfect 10 rating.

CUATRO GATOS : "La caja de música" 8

Avispa 2003
Review by 20 October 2003

Cuatro Gatos is a brand new Spanish band formed by not so new musicians. Ivan Urbistondo (vocals) former Bethoven R, Joaquín Arellano (drums), ex Saratoga, Ñu, Javier Canseco (bass), Juanmi Rodríguez (keyboards) ex Ñu, and Pedro Vela (guitars) also of Ñu fame, are not precisely newcomers to the rock biz. And you can hear that on their debut album together as a band. Recorded at the famous, yet rebuilt, M20 studios in Madrid during June- July 2003 with Juanmi Rodríquez himself taking care of the production, "La caja de música" is a fine example of the excellent level rock musicians have delveloped in Spain during the last years. Cuatro Gatos deliver an interesting mix of melodic metal, classic hard rock with some progressive influences.

The main man in the band is keyboardist Juanmi Rodríguez, who has written most of the material on this album, he took care of the production as well, and even the (very good) graphic design of the booklet, cover, etc was made by himself. The main thing here is that he always had a very clear idea of where to go musically with his songs, and thus, you can listen to the album as a whole. Even not being a concept album or anything like that, you feel this is a strong bunch of good songs, very well crafted, written and performed by each and every band member. The performances here are all top notch ones, Ivan Urbistondo deliver some great soaring vocals which thrill you from the first minute of listening. Pedro Vela's solid guitars offer a perfect counterpoint to Juanmi Rodríguez wall of keyboards, which, by the way, are far away from being the typical keyboards you can hear on most spanish hard rock albums. Javier Canseco's bass lines are excellent and go along really well with Joaquín "El Niño" Arellano's bombastic rhythms. All the songs here are strong enough, but pointing out some highlights seems a must when it comes to reviewing an album, so let's do so. "Hermano Enemigo" is almost an instant hit, a really good uptempo rocker full of energic vocals, lots of solid guitar riffs and some fine keyboards, which maybe are a bit too high on the mix (and that's something that remains a constant feature throughout the album), once you hear this song, it sticks into your head for weeks. "Tras El Cristal" has a very Marillion oriented keyboard intro, but the guitars are definitely heavier than Rothery would play. The double bass-drum rhythm gets you in a power metal mood, but far from being the kind of Teutonic trottel metal thing, it's a great bombastic hard rock track. "Un Extraño En Mi Cabeza" is right now a personal fave of mine, and it contains, for sure some of the finest moments of Ivan Urbistondo's soaring vocals. The whole track walk the thin line between modern rock (not in a derogatory sense here) and progressive metal with excellent results IMO. "Tierra de Nadie" is perhaps the only track that follows a more typical hard rock pattern but still a sure bet if you enjoy this style when it is well done, as it's the case here. "Todos Los Ayeres" is more traditional power metal in a Masterplan/Stratovarius mood, but it's Ivan vocals that makes the difference here, singing in a unique style, far away from the cliches of most vocalists in this genre. "A Quién Pueda Escucharme" is a slow tempo track with really good guitars by Pedro Vela and yeat again quite good vocals. Juanmi Rodríguez keyboards are omnipresent thorough the track giving the song an oniric feeling. A really nice track. "Argumentos de Fé" has yet another Marillion oriented keyboard riff (isn't that hard to tell that Juanmi is a big fan of this Brittish band, right?) ;-) and the song is probably along "Hermano Enemigo" one of the more instant hits of the album, with such a catchy hook. The title track, "La Caja de Música", starts with a piano intro by Ivan Urbistondo himself (Chopin's Nocturne #9) which leads us into a fine keyboard oriented hard rock tune. The bonus track "Una Promesa" is a ballad which serves as a good closing of the album and proves the guys work well with slow material too.

"La Caja de Música" is a well crafted set of good songs, and even though it has Spanish lyrics, I don't see a reason why you foreign hard rock fans wouldn't enjoy this album. It has all the ingredients to make it, and even though production is slightly below par with the excellent material and the really good performances this CD includes, it is for sure one of the best Spanish releases of the year and it will hold a strong fight with Avalanch Los Poetas Han Muerto to make it to my personal top Spanish album of the year. If you are not afraid of Spanish lyrics I recommend you this debut album by Cuatro Gatos. Not recommended for heavy metal-only fans, but if you like good made melodic hard rock with an edge, you will enjoy this CD for sure.

FIREWOMAN: "A Tribute to the CULT" 8

Versailles Records 2001

Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom 01-05-29

I gotta admit that I expected this to be yet another boring tribute album, with some crappy performances by some artists that I never even heard about before when I first got the CD in my mail. Well ... I´m glad to say that I was dead wrong this time, as "Firewoman - A tribute to Cult" is actually one of the best tributes I´ve heard in a long time. Versailles Records have done a good job with getting together a pretty impressive line-up of rock stars, let me add that the CD booklet is filled with info about the bands and the frontcover with adult star Kendra Jade is for sure a sight for sore eyes

" - Enuff Z´Nuff, Jizzy Pearl (Love/Hate, Ratt, L.A.Guns), Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot), Jimmy Crespo (Aerosmith, Rough Cutt), Jake E. Lee (Ozzy, Badlands, Ratt etc.) Jason MacMaster (Dangerous Toys, Broken Teeth), Michael Hannon (Salty Dog, Dangerous Toys), Gilby Clarke (Guns N Roses, Thrills for kills), Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Deep Purple), Stevie Rachelle (Tuff), Jim Martin (Faith No More) -" are some of all the rock stars who´d like to give their tribute to UK rockers The Cult.

Some of my favorites here would be "Firewoman" by Jizzy Pearl and let me tell you that he does a kick ass version of a really good song. David Letterman´s favorite band: Enuff Z´Nuff disappoints nobody with their killer version of "She sells sanctuary" another winner in my book. Paul Shortino & Jimmy Crespo (Rough Cutt) delivers a wikked "Sweet soul sister" and Shortino sounds again like the superb vocalist he is, not like his poor performance on the Aerosmith tribute. Jake E Lee handles "American horse" together with vocalist Tattoo Frank. "Eddie (Ciao baby)" are here superbly done by Richard Kendrick, "Wild flower" by Gilby Clarke, and "The Rain" by legendary vocalist Joe Lynn Turner are also great. In fact only O.C.D & The Thrill Kill Kult delivers some really crappy cover versions here, while the others are all from fine/good to superb. Oh and let´s not forget about Stevie Rachelle (Tuff) as his version of "Outlaw" simple rocks. Recommended indeed and I really need to spin some old CULT albums later tonight as this CD will only make ya want some

THE CULT: "Beyond Good And Evil" 9

Atlantic 2001
Review by 6 September 2001

This is the way The Cult should sound, not those experiments that they did with the last two albums. This is "back to basics" and this is what everyone has hoped that The Cult would come out with. From the first song to the last you're on a great Cult ride that will satisfy every need of your Cult hunger. The first song, "War (The Process)" is just brilliant and this just goes on through out the record. I'm really excited about this record and if someone would offer them tour here it would be worth every penny spent. Listen to songs "The Saint" and "Rise" and you know what I mean. The guys couldn't have made a better record and what I have read the live shows have been great too. This is what Asbury, Duffy and Sorum should do, nothing else. Just plainly rock our asses of this planet, even though it is a lovely place to be.


Freddy CURCI: "Then & Now" 7

Frontiers/Now & Then 2000
Review by Kimmo Toivonen 12-11-00

"Then & Now" is a retrospectacle of the career of Freddy Curci, the vocalist from the bands Sheriff and Alias, and a solo artist. Sheriff are remembered for their US No.1 hit single "When I'm With You", which charted several years after the demise of the band, with no video, just on the strength of airplay. The Sheriff-years are represented only by a live version of the aforementioned song. I would have liked to see a couple of other Sheriff tunes included too.

Alias were a rather popular band too, and from their only album there are four songs here, including the hits "More Than Words Can Say", "Haunted Heart" and the Jeff Paris/Brett Walker-penned "Waiting For Love".

Freddy's solo album "Dreamer's Road" gets the biggest share of this compilation, with no less than 6 songs from it, 8 if you count the two Italian versions. Both "Into The Fire" and "Perfect World" have been also released under the name of Alias on a couple of soundtrack albums. The two new songs are "Bare Necessity", an excellent catchy rocker and the ballad "Finally". There is an Italian version of it here too.

Freddy moves smoothly from the hard rock sounds of "Bare Necessity" and "Haunted Heart" via midtempo AOR tracks such as "Perfect World" and "Waiting For Love" to heartfelt ballads like "Diamonds" and "Finally". He is not often mentioned as one of the finest AOR vocalists without reason!

There is no denying the quality of the songs here, and for those unfamiliar with Freddy, this is a good introduction to his talents. For us fans, the value for money isn't quite as good. Unless of course, if you have been dying to hear the man singing in Italian...