FIORE: "Today Till Tomorrow" 9
This album is collaboration of Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance of Harem Scarem with vocalist Jon Fiore, a name that can be found as a backing vocalist on many of the AOR releases of the last two decades.
"Out Of Love" is the opener, an old Harem Scarem track and a very good one too. The vocals of Mr. Fiore are a bit grittier than those of Harry Hess. His voice reminds me a lot of Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot).
The quality of the songs is high throughout the whole album but one wouldn't expect anything less when it's a well-known fact that these songs are mostly old HS demos. It just makes me wonder why the band haven't recorded these songs themselves! Songs like "Anything", "Don't Take It Too Fast" and "Corner Of My Mind" are surely better than some of the tracks that have found their way to the HS albums.
FIORE: "Body Electric" 8
MTM Music 1998
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
Fiore's first album, last year's "Today Till Tomorrow" was a great collection of songs mostly written by the Harem Scarem members Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance. "Body Electric" is again produced and co-written by Harry Hess, and there's no escaping from the HS sound, but that hardly is a bad thing!
Whereas "TTT" was pretty much in the mould of the first two HS albums, "BE" sounds more like the recent HS material. A few of the songs, like "I Will Wait" and "Everyday" remind me strongly of "Big Bang Theory", good songs but still lacking that certain magic that made "TTT" so special. Those aside, there are enough songs that do have that melodic magic to make this a good follow-up: "Fool Yourself", "The Only Way We'll Know", "Keep Me Satisfied" and "Come and Gone"... They're all quite brilliant AOR songs. The two ballads are pretty good too, both solely written by Hess. "Destiny" is the Big Power Ballad with a chorus to match, whereas "The Ladder" is a softer, semi-acoustic ballad.
FIRE ALLEY: "Fire Alley"
When I read the liner notes of the CD cover I somehow thought Fire Alley was just a hobby band but when checking their site out I saw they are selling this CD there. This obviously changed my attitude towards the record. When it comes to a CD that is sold you have to be more critical. The band plays a fine blend of hard rock and blues and as far as I could figure it out from the limited amount of information I have about them, the musicians aren't professional full-time musicians. The album is quite good for a hobby band's album that recorded it to surprise friends and family with their music. However before you decide to purchase the album you'd better listen to the soundbytes on their site first.
Though all the songs contain some very good musical ideas, most of them are "dragging their feet". The opener "Wait" screams for a more uptempo performance, so does the following "Call On Me" in which the flat refrain kills all the energy in the song. The balladesque "Thick and Thin" could have been a highlight here but the unbalanced mix (vocals and drums too much in the front, the rest almost inaudible) takes lots of its value away. However this song definitely has great potentials (and a really tasty solo). Some better and some worse songs follow but it's always bad when I like the instrumental song the best on an album cuz it means the others are lacking in quality then. The instrumental "Awakenings" is a beautiful piece that I enjoyed to the last note and the following "Lost in Yesterday" is the winner of the vocal tracks with its cool wah-wah break and a cool riffing. It could have been a lot stronger with a better production and audible(!) backing vocals (they are so much in the back of the mix that it's hard to figure out they even exist).
There are some ideas you don't necessarily have to turn into a song; well a band always has to learn it the hard way. This album could have been a lot more impressive if it came out as an EP with four or five songs only that were given as much attention as the whole album, produced by an outsider (not by a band member) who is always more critical. Some of the songs deserve it. Check them at www.fire-alley-com.
FIREFLY: "Automatic" 4
Automatic is the name of Firefly's new CD and it almost feels like they're driving this baby a bit too slow. Now... there's nothing wrong with wearing your safety-belt all of the time! And with the cruise control in motion, I may add. However, maybe you need to drive the crap outta' your motor from time to time. Just to get rid of all the old ideas and simply make a fresh start?
Unfortunatly Firefly decided to take the wrong turn here. John Pratt (vocals), John Thomas (lead guitar), Bob Gilles (rhythm guitar), Roger Feits (bass), Michael Alemania (keyboards) and Ron Wikso (drums), are all experienced musicians with lots of recording sessions behind them. Especially drummer Wikso has a long background working with The Storm, Cher, Foreigner, David Lee Roth, Richie Sambora etc. etc.
Nevertheless, "Automatic" is a pretty boring album, where only the slow songs made an lasting impression on me. They are on the other hand very good indeed! Though it's of course not good enough to save this CD alone. Still, "If Your Lucky" is a lovely ballad with a sentimental touch and melancholic vibe. While "If What It Takes" is another ballad that goes straight to the heart. The semi-ballad "Sky High" is also a winner with a catchy hook. They are all great, quality, melodic hardrock, in the US tradition of arena rock and lighters in the air. Sadly only opener and title track "Automatic" managed to stick out from the rest of the rockers. Well, they sure know how to write the slow-songs. Now they only need to make the uptempo ones rock a bit too!!! Great singer, great musicians, pretty crappy songmaterial would have to be the final verdict here.
FIREHOUSE: "Bring 'em Out! Live!" 8
Firehouse has been one of my favourites for a long time. Sadly I've never
seen them live, which can be said on almost every band that I like. This live album is
once again a big welcome to my collection. The CD was recorded in Japan where Firehouse has a large fan base. The recording was done in Osaka.
This is a great live CD, just like the one from HLS. This covers all Firehouse
hits that they have written so far (they are writing a new album right
now). The one song that I thought was missing was "Get A Life", in my
opinion the best rockin' song that Firehouse has ever made. One can't get all.
Starting from intro we're rocking with all the screaming japanese fans.
This CD rocks and even though Firehouse is more known from ballads, they do
ROCK! There is a lot more to Firehouse than ballads and this CD proves it
well. Just listen to songs "Lovers' Lane", "Overnight Sensation" and so on.
The ballads are great, but it's the rockin' that makes this a very good
record and a very positive suprise especially to the ones who have never
heard or seen Firehouse live.
Give this CD a listen and you know what I'm talking about. Now all we need
a tour to Europe and I'm there. Now the score, I have to go 4 on this one also. It just seems that at least
this one and HLS are good live CDs, and best ones for a long time.
This is a great live CD, just like the one from HLS. This covers all Firehouse hits that they have written so far (they are writing a new album right now). The one song that I thought was missing was "Get A Life", in my opinion the best rockin' song that Firehouse has ever made. One can't get all.
Starting from intro we're rocking with all the screaming japanese fans. This CD rocks and even though Firehouse is more known from ballads, they do ROCK! There is a lot more to Firehouse than ballads and this CD proves it well. Just listen to songs "Lovers' Lane", "Overnight Sensation" and so on. The ballads are great, but it's the rockin' that makes this a very good record and a very positive suprise especially to the ones who have never heard or seen Firehouse live.
Give this CD a listen and you know what I'm talking about. Now all we need a tour to Europe and I'm there. Now the score, I have to go 4 on this one also. It just seems that at least this one and HLS are good live CDs, and best ones for a long time.
|Album of The Month|
FIREHOUSE: "O2" 10Spitfire 2000
|Review by 30-12-00|
The album of the year 2000 me - sorry Steve, Bruno and Paul of Danger Danger. You guys did hold the title almost the whole year. This is the best album that Firehouse ever has
put out, even better than the two first ones. Firehouse might be best known for their ballads, but these guys ROCK. And this CD proves it.
I've been playing this CD very loud (with headphones, just in case my wife would want
to turn it down) at home and I just can't seem to sit still. Even when I'm
writing this my feet are tapping and head is shaking [Ed: Now have you visited your doctor lately? :)].
I have liked Firehouse's every album but this one just blew me away. This CD
should be in every hardrock fan's collection. It's that good. It might be hard to get but use netstores like AORHeaven if possible. The album was just released in the States but
Europe has to wait.
Guitarist Bill Leverty sings a song here also ("I'm In Love this Time") and
does a great job, just like Bruno did on the D2 album. So there is something
in common with these two bands. Imagine them to do a show together, a wet
dream for me - change the sheets.
There's not a single filler song here and even the ballads rock, with a rough guitar
sound. Favorite songs here are ALL. I still can't believe my ears. What a
CD! [Ed: So, Vesa, you kinda like the new Firehouse Cd? :)]
I've been playing this CD very loud (with headphones, just in case my wife would want to turn it down) at home and I just can't seem to sit still. Even when I'm writing this my feet are tapping and head is shaking [Ed: Now have you visited your doctor lately? :)].
I have liked Firehouse's every album but this one just blew me away. This CD should be in every hardrock fan's collection. It's that good. It might be hard to get but use netstores like AORHeaven if possible. The album was just released in the States but Europe has to wait.
Guitarist Bill Leverty sings a song here also ("I'm In Love this Time") and does a great job, just like Bruno did on the D2 album. So there is something in common with these two bands. Imagine them to do a show together, a wet dream for me - change the sheets.
There's not a single filler song here and even the ballads rock, with a rough guitar sound. Favorite songs here are ALL. I still can't believe my ears. What a CD! [Ed: So, Vesa, you kinda like the new Firehouse Cd? :)]
FIREHOUSE: Prime Time 9
Pony Canyon, 2003
First off all I love this band. To me this band is one of the best there is. So this might not be too critical a review but I don’t care because in my mind this band should have a bigger machine behind them, so their records would be available for everyone all over the world. Don’t give me crap about the internet because we all love to go and check records out in a record store. Remember the good old days?
"Prime Time" is truly a prime record. I loved O2 but this just sweeps my feet from under me. There isn’t a single bad song here and it’s more balanced than O2. IEven though they have great ballads this band knows how to rock and they should write more rockier tunes. Just listen to the songs “Door To Door”, “Crash”, “Prime Time” and “Home Tonight” and you see what I mean. There is just one ballad on the record and that is just great.
The guys have also made some changes here because it is not just CJ who sings on this record - now Bill has 2 songs and Michael has one. Not going to tell the names of those songs but you love them trust me. A very nice surprise, especially Michael's singing because Bill already proved on O2 that he can sing. This would be nice to see how this is handled when the play live. This is just proves to all of us how good this band is and it’s not that CJ can’t sing, just the opposite but it gives the record something special for us fans to enjoy.
CJ, Bill and Michael are now joined by Dario Seixas on the bass and he brings again something fresh to the bands' sound. This is the first record with Dario and he just continues the great bass playing that have always been in Firehouse (Perry Richardson and Bruce Weibel, who is in heaven watching over us).
Like I said earlier I have always loved this band so some might want to get a second opinion on how good this record is but I’m right so you don’t need to do that. If you have liked Firehouse earlier, you will now love them and if you have never heard of them then you have lost a whole lot but you can still be saved by getting yourself a copy of this record and then get the rest of their records. The only minus that I give is for the fact that there is only 10 songs on this record and it is over too quickly. At least one can always press repeat or put some other Firehouse record in the cd-changer. Oh yeah, one more thing: get the band to play here in Europe. www.firehousemusic.com
FIRESIGN: "The Race Against Time"
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
Firesign have been making a name for themselves in Australia for some time now, supporting some bigger acts and touring on their own. Last year they financed and produced this album, their debut, and are hard at work for the follow-up.
Although the band didn't have a big budget, this album does sound pretty good, all things considered. The sound of the band appears to be firmly rooted in the rough hard rock sound of the late eighties/early nineties - Guns'n Roses is the first band that I am reminded of. Firesign are more melodic though, and strangely enough, more "modern rock"-sounding all the same - they might even appeal to a grunge fan! Whoa, crossover potential! Let's sign 'em! Oh wait... we're not a record company actually.
Vocalist Paul has an interesting vocal style. It's very much in the W. Axl Rose-vein, sounding at times almost painfully strained. Still, he does hit the notes he goes for but I can only hope that his pipes can handle the rough treatment!
The keyboards seem to be pretty low in the mix, and the overall "soundscape" probably could use some "polish". It doesn't sound bad, only a bit one-dimensional, although admittedly the guys have really tried to liven it up with some effects and stuff. No biggie, with a little financial help from the record company that's bound to sign the band sooner or later, they can work on these issues and create a monster of an album.
Songs definitely worthy of your attention include "Drama Queen", "Samantha", "Killing Floor" and "Mystery Scene". In order to preview them and the others, visit www.firesign.com.au. Not bad, not bad at all!
FIREWIND: "Between Heaven And Hell" 7
Just by looking at the cover and reading the bio I was ready to write Firewind off as the 135th melodic/power/eurometal band this year. "Guitar wizardry...Power riffs...Emotional vocals"...yada yada...but since everyone deserves a chance, I gave the album a go, and soon realized that Firewind are indeed above average "melodic metallists".
I am not going to say that this band offers anything new or unique, but still, there's immense amount of power and -more importantly- melody in their metal, and they sound really convincing. The musicianship is very impressive, and the vocals of ex-Kenziner shouter Stephen Fredrick are very good. He's a bit rougher-sounding than your usual high-pitched eurometal-vocalists, which I don't think is a bad thing. He sounds a bit like Graham Bonnet or the vocalist of Last Tribe actually.
The music has touches of many of the melodic metal giants: Iron Maiden, Stratovarius, Malmsteen...you name it. I also found similarities to one of my fave 80'ies metal bands, Fifth Angel (check out "Pictured Life"). Many of the riffs will sound very familiar to die-hard metal/hard rock fans though, but the songs itself quite good, so I think that we can let Firewind off the hook this time, right?
Highlights of the album include "Warrior", quite a progressive track but with a powerful chorus that will make you want to "bang your head" and do the ol' Ronnie James Dio-copyrighted "Devil's horns" sign; Malmsteen-influenced "Tomorrow Can Wait" ("Judas", anyone?) and the catchy "I Will Fight Alone", which has touches of classic Dokken in it. Had a couple of the more average numbers been replaced with metal hits of the same calibre, my rating would have been a bit higher. Even as it is, this is definitely one of the better traditional metal releases of the year.
FIREWOMAN: "A Tribute to The Cult" 8
Versailles Records 2001
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom
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 more.www.versaillesrecords.com
Michael Lee FIRKINS: "Decomposition" 4
Nuerra Records 1999
"Decomposition" is a mixed bag of covers, ranging from the classic/southern rock sounds of Lynyrd Skyndyrd's "I Need You" and Rick Derringer's "Still Alive And Well" to the famous "Pink Panther" theme by Henry Mancini! There's room for a couple of Hendrix tunes and some Duke Ellington too...
"Still Alive And Well" is a good opener, an energetic rock number featuring the vocals of Sonny Reece. Hendrix' "Manic Depression" isn't my kind of music but the bluesy ballad "I Need You" is quite good. "Pink Panther" is a curious inclusion but Firkins pulls it off with style. "I Know A Little" is a traditional rock'n roll number written by Steve Gaines, while "The Window" is the only Firkins original here. "Little Wing" is another Hendrix song, and I find it a little more appealing than the "Depression". The origin of "Pick Up The Pieces" I do not know but I can tell you that it's a funky instrumental. "Caravan" is the Duke Ellington number, jazzy one with an eastern feel and more tempo changes that you could ask for.
This album didn't really appeal to me but I can recommend this to all Firkins fans, and also to anyone who's in the mood for some traditional, 70'ies-style rock... with a bit of jazz thrown in... and some blues!
FIRST SHOT: "From The Hip" 8
Escape Music 2001
Have you noticed how often simplicity is the same thing as pure brilliance? The debut album by Canadian rockers FIRST SHOT will really test your ability to embrace the simple things in life. Oh, and that would be in your music life of course. Just remember the golden rule when it comes to this kind of music. Keep it simple, keep it catchy, keep it coming!!!
Marc LaFrance - vocals, percussion (ex.Blackstone), Dave Pickell - keyboards (ex.Bryan Adams, BLVD), Peter Clarke - bass (ex.Straight Lines, Body Electric), & Doug Edwards - guitars, keyboards (ex.Skylark, Nick Gilder, BLVD) have recorded a pure 80´s sounding album, with both AOR, Rock & Pop influences. You will be able to hear similarities to all the above mentioned ex.bands. I would really like to add Loverboy and the 'hi-tech' production sound of later Rick Springfield albums to the list.
"From The Hip" will surely please the 'soft rock' fans out there, as the keyboards are a BIG part of the overall sound. I must say, I really do enjoy a track like "Heartbreak Avenue" with a huge "Back to the 80s" pop sound. In fact, a song like "Turn To Me" could have been included on any of the solo albums by Jean Beauvoir (Crown Of Thorns) from the mid-80´s. Catchy stuff indeed! "Caught In A Hurricane" is rock in the style of early Bryan Adams/Nick Gilder, while "Take A Chance On Love" has beautiful layered keyboards, followed by a very catchy chorus. LaFrance is an impressive vocalist with a strong pedigree in the Canadian rock scene. He has also been working with bands such as Motley Crue, Scorpions, Bon Jovi in the past. Since both Pickell and Edwards are ex.BLVD will their past also shine through from time to time. Especially on tracks like "The First Shot" and "Lost Without Your Love". Even if the latter is a ballad, that does sound a lot like Chicago too. Bottomline: Some of the songs are maybe too dull in the end. But overall is this a good 'Back To The 80´s' POP/ROCK/AOR CD. I´ll be playing this a lot in the nearest future. Then again, I´m a sucker for "simple things".
FIRST SHOT: "Midnight Madness" 7
Escape Music 2003
Marc LaFrance is perhaps mostly known as the session musician, who've sang backup vocals with everybody from Mötley Crue to Bryan Adams and (check your albums for credits). You may also remember him from the Blackstone days back in Canada, his solo album, and of course the First Shot album "From The Hip" earlier on Escape Music.
"Midnight Madness" (Night Ranger?) is a collection of previously unreleased material from the 80's, and LaFrance is once again surrounded by good musicians such as Dave Pickell - keyboards (ex-Bryan Adams, BLVD), Peter Clarke - bass (ex-Straight Lines, Body Electric), & Doug Edwards - guitars, keyboards (ex-Skylark, Nick Gilder, BLVD).
The production quality varies throughout the album and most songs have been transfered from DAT-tape to pro-tools. Not the perfect solution perhaps, but the sound is far from crappy actually. It mostly feels like you've been transfered back in time and it's not always a downside either, with todays very sterile sound production. There's obviously a big connection to Body Electric and their "Walking Through Walls" album here as both David Sinclair (vocals/guitar) and Bob Buckley (keyboards/sax), are involved as songwriters on eight of the eleven tracks included. LaFrance even sings Body Electric's "It Must Be Magic" here and it's almost as good as the "original" version (not quite though). "The More Things Change" is another fantastic Buckley/Sinclair tune with the true essence of 80's POP/AOR. It's Loverboy, Go West, Mr.Mister, all over again and the same goes with the catchy title track (Midnight Madness). I must also mention "Girl Like You" which is simplicity at its best! The refrain is so darn wimpy (but oh, so catchy) that you're almost ashamed to admit liking it. Not everything that glitters is gold though and you can find a couple of really horrible fillers too. Still not too shabby and it sure takes you back in time and place.
Bluelight / Record Heaven 1998
|Review by 30-12-00|
Five Fifteen is a Finnish band. You might wonder how come that having
two and a half Finns in the crew I write the review then. Well, I don't know.
[Ed: cause we're lazy?]
So far Finnish bands haven't done anything for me, I was
rather bored by their progressive wannabe melodic metal stuff. But
Five Fifteen impressed me. When reading the title of the album shivers
ran up and down my spine: another progressive band with brains that
are bigger than the capacity of their heads playing some indigestible
noise. And what a pleasant surprise awaited!
I have to admit the lyrics are pretty strange for my Danger Danger
cheese-trained, melodic rock orientated ears. They fall into the
category "if I want to understand it, it says something to me; if not,
then just leave me alone with just a bunch of words thrown together
wanting to sound so clever". Well, I'm torn between somewhere the two
extremes. But the music lets me forget about my dilemma. It has very
strong progressive, innovative touches but still it has the features
of great melodic rock music. Marika Liuski, a girl of obviously Slavic
(maybe Russian) origin and Mika Järvinen, one of the guitarists are
trading off the vocals. They are supported by strong backing vocals at
times, so the result is big hooks in refrains and wonderful vocal
melodies all through the album. Somehow the band managed to find the
middle ground between going too progressive or too AOR, so potentially
their music could reach both camps.
My best experience listening to their music was that I found lots of
similarities with one of my all time favorite British bands: Little
Angels. The piano parts and the acoustic guitar-piano supported party
riffs, the horn arrangements all recall that band. At the same time
(!) the music recalls Rush or ELP. Confused? Sounds confusing I know
but the result is a really enjoyable album. I think they give the best
characterization of their own music in one of my favorite tracks of
the album "I Don't Remember" saying: "I'm a psychedelic redneck,
progressive punk, a bebopalula with a freaky funk, so describe me".
Well, I gave it a try, but the best thing to say is: give it a listen,
you won't be disappointed.
My personal favorites were the opening
"Innocence Is No Excuse" with its great piano-guitar work, "White
Lines Of The Freeway", a song of great hooks and the already mentioned
"I Don't Remember" with its acoustic intro, and extremely thick
arrangement. There are three producers listed but I think the sound is
due to Mika Karmila who engineered the recordings too. No matter who
it was, it's great! The album is one of the best sounding albums I
have recently heard. No matter how many instruments there are, they
are all audible, the mix is very balanced and the vocals are clean at
the same time very thick. A great job that deserves to be applauded.
So do the musicians, they are all well-trained, capable of realizing
their complicated musical ideas, and they are in good command of their
gear too as both the guitar and the keyboard sounds are extraordinary
good. If you are ready to experiment with something new, pushing your
musical borders a bit, give Five Fifteen a try. Check them out at:
So far Finnish bands haven't done anything for me, I was rather bored by their progressive wannabe melodic metal stuff. But Five Fifteen impressed me. When reading the title of the album shivers ran up and down my spine: another progressive band with brains that are bigger than the capacity of their heads playing some indigestible noise. And what a pleasant surprise awaited!
I have to admit the lyrics are pretty strange for my Danger Danger cheese-trained, melodic rock orientated ears. They fall into the category "if I want to understand it, it says something to me; if not, then just leave me alone with just a bunch of words thrown together wanting to sound so clever". Well, I'm torn between somewhere the two extremes. But the music lets me forget about my dilemma. It has very strong progressive, innovative touches but still it has the features of great melodic rock music. Marika Liuski, a girl of obviously Slavic (maybe Russian) origin and Mika Järvinen, one of the guitarists are trading off the vocals. They are supported by strong backing vocals at times, so the result is big hooks in refrains and wonderful vocal melodies all through the album. Somehow the band managed to find the middle ground between going too progressive or too AOR, so potentially their music could reach both camps.
My best experience listening to their music was that I found lots of similarities with one of my all time favorite British bands: Little Angels. The piano parts and the acoustic guitar-piano supported party riffs, the horn arrangements all recall that band. At the same time (!) the music recalls Rush or ELP. Confused? Sounds confusing I know but the result is a really enjoyable album. I think they give the best characterization of their own music in one of my favorite tracks of the album "I Don't Remember" saying: "I'm a psychedelic redneck, progressive punk, a bebopalula with a freaky funk, so describe me". Well, I gave it a try, but the best thing to say is: give it a listen, you won't be disappointed.
My personal favorites were the opening "Innocence Is No Excuse" with its great piano-guitar work, "White Lines Of The Freeway", a song of great hooks and the already mentioned "I Don't Remember" with its acoustic intro, and extremely thick arrangement. There are three producers listed but I think the sound is due to Mika Karmila who engineered the recordings too. No matter who it was, it's great! The album is one of the best sounding albums I have recently heard. No matter how many instruments there are, they are all audible, the mix is very balanced and the vocals are clean at the same time very thick. A great job that deserves to be applauded. So do the musicians, they are all well-trained, capable of realizing their complicated musical ideas, and they are in good command of their gear too as both the guitar and the keyboard sounds are extraordinary good. If you are ready to experiment with something new, pushing your musical borders a bit, give Five Fifteen a try. Check them out at: www.novision.fi/fivefifteen
"Six dimensions of the Electric Camembert" 6
Record Heaven 2000
|Review by Urban “Wally” Wallstrom 01-03-16|
The fact that they´re using two lead vocalist´s (one female/one male) makes this album a bit different than the others out there. I can also hear some resemblance to early Fleetwood Mac & Jefferson Airplane the old phrase Love, Peace & Understanding from the 60´s Hippie Generation seems to still matter for bands in Finland??? Well... at least for FIVE FIFTEEN.
The Highlights are the opener "Innocent is no Excuse", a superb rock song with some lovely vocal harmonies from both lead singers and the chorus is REALLY catchy; "Six dimensions of the electric camembert" that reminds me of the Swedish cult-retro band "Atomic Swing"; the mid tempo rocker "I don´t remember" with some cool lyrics that kinda explains the whole FIVE FIFTEEN sound with these two lines "I´m a second generation of the electric warriors, A flowerblues child of the space cowboys"; and let´s not forget the groovy "The Wink of an Eye" with some outstanding vocal harmonies by Marika Liuski. Nice... but some songs are maybe a bit too much flower-power for me. You can buy this CD direct from their label at: www.recordheaven.net email: firstname.lastname@example.org
FIVE FIFTEEN: (featuring Nik Turner & Brian Robertson)|
"Silver Machine" 6
Record Heaven 2000
|Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom 01-03-16|
You can really call this a "Cover" CD as all songs except for "Waterfall" are all old 70´s hardrock covers. "Thousand Years of Yesterday" is of course the old CAPTAIN BEYOND song that also can be found on the CAPTAIN BEYOND Tribute album that Record Heaven released (see review in # 13). This is not one of my favorite "Captain" songs but this version is okay.
"Waterfall" is a nice rocker with a really cool groove and female vocalist "Marika Liuski" has got a very good & powerful voice. If you like some groovy, classic 70´s hardrock don´t forget to buy this new single at: www.recordheaven.net
FIVE FIFTEEN: "My oh my"
Record Heaven 2001
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom
The Finnish band Five Fifteen (5.15) are here again with their first single (4-track maxi) from the forthcoming album "Death of a clown" to be released at the end of this summer. It´s as always a lovely mixture of psychedelic, classic rock from the 60s & 70s and progressive rock filled with wonderful vocal harmonies.
5.15 are in my opinion one of the few bands out there, that have managed to create their own style and identity in this world of followers and wannabees. Sure you can find influences from bands such as Captain Beyond, Jefferson Airplaine, Rush, Hawkwind, Fleetwood Mac and other legendary bands from the late 60´s/early 70´s, but 5.15´s music are always done with their own personality and edge to it.
The performances by the lead vocalists Mika Järvinen and Marika Liuski are something out of the ordinary as they seem to match perfectly for each other, and the single "My oh My" is a nicely told story with a catchy hook. Let me point out once and for all, this is not the old Slade hit from the mid-80s! No... what you get here is a track that takes you back in time to the rock of the late 60s and the progressive days of the early 70s. "Seasons of the Witch" also taken from the forthcoming album may be the real winner here with its mysterious sound and catchy chorus. "Dancing with Mrs Fischer" from the debut album: Six dimensions of the electric camembert and "Call the doctor" may be not that much to talk about though. I´m looking forward to the release of the new album as this sounds promising indeed. For more info check out Record Heaven Music
FIVE FIFTEEN: "Death of a clown" 6
Record Heaven 2001
A product of the flower power generation and the endless summer of love or the bastard son of Ziggy Stardust? Take your pick as either will do! Like vocalist/songwriter Mika Järvinen writes "I stole almost everything you can steal from a classic rock album and a bit more." Or in the words of David Jones "If you´re going to work in a whorehouse, you better be the best whore in it".
It´s not all THAT bad really! It´s not like Five Fifteen stole and blue printed just about everything from the classic rock albums in the late 60´s and early 70´s. Let´s just say: there´s no doubt about what their roots are. Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Captain Beyond, Hawkwind are just some of all the influences you will find here.
"Death Of A Clown" is the fifth album release from Finland´s most spaced out and coolest band right now, and it´s basically the story about rock business. Songs like "The Prostitute", "Stone Cold Heartbreaker", "My Oh My", "Sometimes It Helps & Lick Your Fingers Clean" could have been recorded thirty years ago as they are timeless (and good) rock songs. "She kicked your present off the bed" reminded me of the old pop song "Seasons in the sun" even if only the verses sound alike. The best way to describe this CD would be "timeless rock" from the flower power generation, even if I do miss a couple of more uptempo rock songs here. Ville Vallo from HIM appears as guest vocalist on two of the tracks and the production by Mikko Karmila (Stratovarius) is very 70´s sounding indeed. Some of the tracks are just too much "flower power" rubbish for my taste though. www.rhcd.net
FLAME: "Blaze" 3
Z Records 2004
I believe this particular Flame died years ago... along with Commodore 64 and spandex. I'm not sure why Z Records decided to dig 'em up again? This would surely have been better off laying in their long sealed casket. Unfortunately the dead do sometimes come back from their graves to haunt us throughout eternity?
I don't have any problem with re-issues or minor acts that suddenely re-appears into the night. However, when you're looking for goodies at the bottom of the barrel, you'll only end up with rejects or crappier things most of the time anyway. "Blaze" was originally released back in 1989 and Flame consisted of vocalist Phillip Andrew, Billy Harvey (guitar), Don McBee (guitar), Stephan Vegas (bass) and Denis Bostok (drums). It's however their first album and the selftitled one (1992) was actually their sophmore release. Most of these songs comes out like a poor man's version of Babylon A.D, Britny Fox, or Cry Wolf. And since neither of these acts impressed much in the past, you'll probably understand what this is coming to. Cheesy LA hairmetal without a single decent tune or anything else to hang on to I'm afraid. They do have a couple of so-so songs which doesn't hurt to play I guess. Nonetheless, this kind of music is the main reason to why grunge broke out in the early 90's. I actually had to play some Nirvana after listening to Flame for a while... just to get rid of everything and get back to scratch again.
THE FLAMING SIDEBURNS: "Hallelujah rock'n'rollah" 6
Bad Afro Records 2001
4 July 2001
The Flaming Sideburns have been lifting a few eyebrows in Finland and getting some good reviews in the newspapers. The album was produced in Finland so maybe the recent face lift of Finnish music scene is becoming a guarantee for good quality? Sorry to disappoint you but no. Sure, if you lived your youth in the 70's and then comes a young angry band that plays music a bit similar to Doors and Rolling Stones it might cause you to write a raving review of the album. But let's not forget the most important thing. The songs here are mostly average so the nostalgia only takes you so far.
I was really expecting more from this album. The second song "Up in Flames" built up my expectations, but the nine following songs, except for "Lonesome Rain" which got my silent approval, crashed my hopes for a good musical experience. Someone once said that if you cough in Finland everyone will hear it because the country is so small. I think this is the case so far with the Flaming Sideburns. Good marketing and a few good reviews have created a small hype around a band that has a good attitude but moderate songs.
Robert FLEISCHMAN: "The World In Your Eyes" 7
Frontiers/Now And Then 2002
For the uninitiated, Fleischman was in Journey for nine months before Steve Perry, and he co-wrote one of the bands' biggest hits, "Wheel In The Sky". He never got to record with Journey, but he fared a little better with Vinnie Vincent Invasion, with whom he recorded the first album. Of course he was replaced by Mark Slaughter soon after the release of the album, and actually it's Slaughter on the video of "Boyz Are Gonna Rock", although the vocal is Fleischman's.
"The World In Your Eyes" is closer to the style of Journey than the high-octane metal of V.V. Invasion. Actually, I'd say the closest comparison would be the first Hugo album, although it has to be said that the songs on this album can't really match those of Hugo's. There are a couple of highlights that really stand out though, namely "Over My Head" and "Only Room For One". The first one is written by Bryan Adams and Dave Pickell, and it's a fine balladic track with a great chorus. Why Adams didn't save it for himself is beyond me. The latter is midtempo track with a similar vibe to Hugo's "All The People You Love". It's AOR with a touch of Oasis and The Beatles, but only just a touch!
The rest of the tracks are of varied quality. "Just One Kiss", "The Crush" and the title song (the latter two co-written by Josh Ramos of Two Fires) are all good tracks, but some of the others are a bit on the dull side. Especially the boring Zeppelin-influenced "Walking On Fire" stands out as a real departure from the other material.
The musicianship is of high standard, with Josh Ramos as the guitarist and members of Stuart Smith's Heaven And Earth providing solid backing. The production by Kelly Hansen is decent but not brilliant. All in all, a good album but I'm afraid it's not one that will be found on many "Best of 2002"-lists.
FLOWING TEARS: "Razorbliss" 7
Century Media 2004
Already 5th album on these German Goth metallers, first with their new vocalist, Helen Vogt, who does a quite interesting job with her dark, deep voice. Having not listened to their previous efforts I cannot compare, but Razorbliss is indeed a short of German response to Evanescence, so to say, mixed up with some HIM elements here and there but quite like the American band, mostly with a modern metal approach quite close to nu metal. Quite remarkably none of the 12 tracks here (except Pitch Dark Water) clocks over 4 minutes.
As the album flows, one gets deeper and deeper in the dark, gloomy atmospheres brought by the keyboards and tuned down guitars, and the voice of Helen Vogt really brings in feelings of melancholy, sadness and obscurity. The opener title track have some hypnotic keys that gets you in a somehow oniric (nightmare would be more suitable?) world. Believe does indeed reminds of Evanescence with the male vocals full of anger (courtesy of Dirk Thurisch of Angel Dust/Mercury Tide) and tuned down guitars. Virago is a more classic Gothic tune, in a Sister Of Mercy mood and again great keys. Undying is got to be my fave of the album so far, a gloomy midtempo with a catchy chorus and tempting whispering vocals. Through the album, along with the vocals, both the guitar work (specially in the dense, no nonsense riffs and the short yet effective solos) and the keyboard department both held by Benjamin Buss stands out of the pack. Radium Angel has some Paradise Lost resemblances, whilst Firedream comes closer to American Nu-metal. Ballad Of A Lonely God stands somewhere halfway between Paradise Lost and slow tempo HIM. Snakes Of Grey has some techno beats melted with some lighter (as opposed to dark) sound than the rest of the album. Mine Is The Ocean is HIM mixed with Sister Of Mercy (when they rocked more) and again that dark techno beats not lacking of some 80’s German pop flavour in it, and another fave of mine. Maladine is a somewhat minor track on this album, a bit dull for my taste. Unspoken proves once more the band’s fancy for techno beats ala 80’s. And finally, Pitch Dark Water will remind you almost immediately of Lacuna Coil, but with a different approach on the vocal department.
All in all, an interesting record, not lacking of good moments, but not suitable if you are looking for a good time or preparing yourself for a party, as it’s got the DARK feeling all over it. Production could have been better, as they went for the gloomy sound the easy way and the whole of the album sounds a bit too bass for my taste. If you wanna be aware of the last thing when it comes to Gothic sounds, then you should check this album out.
FM: "Long Time No See" 9
Escape Music 2003
Yeah baby!!! Escape Music have done it again!!! Another marvelous digipack box-set with 3 CDs of pure Melodic Rock. The booklet is 12 pages, mostly all the lyrics and two pages of band "history" ,while the nicely done digi-pack is completed with glossy foldout pics of the band and such. The same layout as Escape used for last years Sugarcreek release, by the way.
FM with power vocalist Steve Overland at the helm (some even call him UK's answer to Michael Bolton), will return with a couple of great releases this year. First up is this "Long Time No See" boxset, which include the previous Japan only CD "Paraphernalia", the long deleted "Aphrodisiac" and the never before released "Live At The Astoria".
The latter was recorded on the 17 August 1989 at a sold out London Astoria. The band played favourites from "Indiscreet" and aired new tracks from the long awaited follow up "Tough It Out" that night. I find it strange that there's no info, about the live disc whatsoever, in the booklet. Hell... you wont find any info about "Paraphernalia" either and I know this will piss off hardcore fans. Otherwise you hardly can't find anything to remark or complain about really. The live disc obviously features some really marvelous music from start to finish. This is what Melodic Rock/AOR was/is all about. Easy-go-happy music from the best of times! The recording is totally as it happened I've been told, you wont find much over dubbing or such here. And really, how can you go wrong with classic songs like: "I Belong To the Night", "Face To Face", "Don't Stop", "Everythime I Think Of You", "Bad Luck", "The Other Side Of Midnight", "Frozen Heart", "American Girls" etc. etc. I'm not usually a big fan of live recordings... but man, this needed to be available to the fans. A bit 'raw' but yet a very cool live recording indeed.
"Aphrodisiac" was originally released in 1992 and displayed the bluesier
side of FM, mixed with their more melodic stuff of course. You will
find the bonus tracks "Chinese Whispers" and acoustic version of "Closer
To Heaven" here. "Paraphernalia" was released in Japan only before and
it's now finally available here in Europe too. The bonus track included
here are the 98 versions of "Burning My Heart Down", "Don't Stop" &
"Frozen Heart". I'm not sure if we really need them though? Nevertheless,
"Long To No See" is a great package and only a taster of things to come.
FM is working on a new album with guitarist Vinny Burns (ex-Ten/Dare/Asia)
and the future looks bright for FM rock again.
FORCE OF EVIL: "Force Of Evil" 7
Escapi/Rock Inc. 2004
Knowing that this heavy metal band is formed by the legendary twin guitars of Mercyful Fate, Michael Denner and Hank Shermann you know what kind of music you can expect. True classic metal filled with raw guitar riffs and screaming vocals from hell. Eleven heavy metal tracks that will keep your head banging for days, or even weeks; so watch out for those headaches!!
The musical influences are obvious: Mercyful Fate(of course), Flotsam And Jetsam or Vicious Rumours; it’s all in there. Just listen to killer tracks like “Misery Man”, “Under The Blade” or “Demonized”. My personal favorites are “Mindbreaker”(speed metal with twin guitar solo) or “Samhain”, a song with a Black Sabbath riff, which later on gets really fast and heavy.
Force Of Evil was formed in 2002 and they played their first gig in Cleveland(Ohio) in the summer of 2003. Their first European performance took place in Sweden on 29 November 2003; this gig was captured on film and this will be released on DVD in March together with bonus material. But till then you can enjoy this great heavy metal album.
Lita FORD: "Greatest Hits Live" 5
"Kiss me once, Kiss me twice, C'mon pretty baby, Kiss Me Deadly". Hands up if you've ever been dreaming yourself away with Lita Ford to a desert island!!! OK, you can all take down those hands again... I can hardly see the bleepin' screen in front of me. Geeez... I'm sure you all remember the slogan 'Lita, Lita, So Sweet That I Could Eat Ya' huh? Well heck... I do!!! [:-)]
Ever since she was a little "Runaway(s)" you could say this rock chick's been "Out For Blood". She's been "Dancin' On The Edge" this "Lita", with "Stiletto" heels and "Dangerous Curves", until everything became "Black" in 1994.
This is the first sign of life in almost ten years and I can't say I'm all that impressed either. They've been digging out some old live recording from the early 90's with a prettty average sound. Drummer Jimmy DeGrasso (White Lion, Y&T, Alice Cooper, Ozzy, Megadeth etc.) is still a member here, I believe he was gone late 1991/ very early -92. The exclusive studio track "Nobody's Child" is leftover from the days and not bad at all really. The live material leaves much to ask for though as it's kinda' bootleg-ish. A bit muddy and "raw" in places and not exactely crystal-clear all of the time. It's great fun to hear songs like "Larger Than Life", "Black Widow", "Close My Eyes Forever" (No Ozzy though), "Shot Of Poison" and "Kiss Me Deadly" though. And I guess die-hard fans will enjoy Ford's first live CD. However, I do hope that Lita herself will return to the scene again with some kickass material. God knows there are too few female rockers out there. I must say it looks kinda' "Black" though, since it's been nine (9) years already.