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

SUBSONIC: "Super-vel" 3

Outlaw 2002
Review by 17 September 2002

Former Celtic Frost lead guitarist/composer Ron Marks has combined forces with Outlaw Entertainment to record his new project Subsonic. The CD "Super-vel" is their first international release although the project has excisted since 1998.

While Celtic Frost played a somehow weird but still very much enjoyable (at least their early work) music of 80's Thrash, avant garde, prog-jazz rock whatever??!! Marks now plays at the deep end with industry rock and music that only people at the age of 12-18 can appreciate??!!!

It seems like he's been spending way too much time listening to his kids (?!) music rather than trying to create something that he stands for. OK, I'm not saying that he's doing it for the money or anything and I'm sure he's into Slipknot and all that crap. However, don't expect all your fans from the past to just grin and bear it. The sad part is that he really can write some good songs too!! Check out the superb ballad "A Day Late" where he removes all the industry noises and strips down to bass, drums & acoustic guitar. This has actually more to do with Beatles then anything else. Another fine tune is "Jane" where he adds melodies and harmonies to it all. This CD is not for the rock'n'roll people though...

Scott SUDBURY: "Get The Picture" 8

Bad Motor Scooter Records 2003
Review by 11 July 2003

Normally an unsigned act like Scott Sudbury would be featured in the A&R column, but I'm going to make an exception here. You see, Scott is really an established artist who has actually sold over 22.000 copies his first, self-distributed album "Static On My Radio", which is more than many of the signed bands featured on this site have sold their albums. "Get The Picture" is his second album, and I'm pretty sure he can top those figures easily with it...the buzz is strong, and even major label bloodhounds have been sniffing around.

It's true that none of us get any younger, but somehow it seems like Scott has found some kind of a fountain of youth. Compared to the standard Mellencamp/Springsteen-influenced classic rock of "Static...", Scott's new album is full of youthful energy and has a contemporary sound but it never sounds like he's trying to be something he's not. He has merely mixed his old influences with the better elements of current rock scene. Think of Rick Springfield, Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi mixed with Marvelous 3, Blink 182 or The Wallflowers...believe it or not, it's tasty!

Tracks espcially worthy of your attention include "I'm Her Freak", "It Must Be You", "Good Enough For Me", "Too Bad So Sad", "I've Heard It All Before" and the cream of the crop, "Give A Damn", which is going to be high on my list of best songs of the year. You are not likely to hear too many songs as infectious as this one this year...that "do-do-do-doh" hook is irresistable! In the perfect world this track alone could make Scott a household name, in the real world we'll just have to wait and see.

SUGARCREEK: "Fortune/Rock The Night Away/Live At The Roxy" 9

Escape Music 2002
Review by 1 November 2002

Oh Lordie, Lordie!!! This is without a doubt the best package of Melodic Hardrock that I've ever had the pleasure to review here at AOR-Europe. This is a lovely triple, digipack, box set with the first three (3) releases by 80's cult band Sugarcreek. That's right!!! The first three albums have finally been re-released and re-issued onto CD for the first time. Everything is of course digitally remastered and blessed with bonus tracks. With a total sum of 36 tracks this is almost like a dream come true for old and new fans.

Formed in the early 70's as remainders of a band called 'The Rivieras', a very popular soul band in North Carolina (USA) during the 60's. Sugercreek played over 200 nights a year during the 70's but their 'big break' didn't happen until some ten years later. The owner of Roxy approached the band about recording a live album and their first release "Live At The Roxy" (duh) came out in 1981. Kinda' strange to have a live recording as your first release though and not all the songs were originals either. They actually do a smashing cover of Le Roux's "Let me Be Your Fantasy" here and a medley of "Born To Be Wild/Magic Carpet Ride". Self written songs like "Lost In A Photograph" and "Now That I Found You" are also great and gives you an idea of what the future would bring. The bonustrack on this disc is actually the studio version of the Le Roux song.

And the future brought you "Fortune", their first studio album from 1982. This is superb Pomp-rock from the time with tons of keys, lovely melodies, and outstanding harmonies. I'll go as far as saying this is a must have, if you enjoy your late 70's/early 80's Pomp/Art/Fantasy rock a-la Styx, Roadmaster, Angel or why not Touch. "Conquest For The Commoner" is simply breathtaking and the song Styx wish they'd written. I'm a sucker for songs like "Going For It", "Soothsayer", "Crazy Kind Of Love" or "Here We Go Again" with stupidoius catchy hooks and almost too corny keys (it's fantasy rock you know). "Suzie" is one of those incredible heartbreaking ballads and again those keys... ahhhh... I love it!!!! A great record this is for sure!!! By 1984 Pomp-Rock was pretty much dead in the water and their 3:rd album "Rock The Night Away" contains more straight ahead AOR/Rock. They sure knew how to play AOR too as songs like "White Hot", "Lonely Blue", "Got My Eye On Her", "What's Gonna Happen", "Love So Strong", "One Way Street" etc. are all candy from heaven. Unbelievable catchy songs with the classic sound of the days. Some of the tracks reminded me a bit of Prism or Franke & The Knockouts at their best. I can only highly recommend this lovely triple box, to each and every fan of catchy Pomp & AOR. The package is a perfect ten, while the music from their live album is bringing the rating down to a nine. Still pretty impressive I'd say!!!


Henry Lee SUMMER: "Live" 8

Moon Pie Music 2000
Review by

Live recordings always seem to be touched up, but this one feels real. Headphones on, eyes closed you can see yourself somewhere in Indiana in a place packed with HLS fans. This CD is very positive and it makes me feel very good. Isn't it so that this is the way music should be, make one feel something.

I've been a fan of HLS ever since I first heard "I Wish I Had A Girl", me a lonely exchange student with long hair, looking at good lookin' american girls. It was something I thought the song was all about then, and for me it was. Well, I got the girl but that's another story.

The songs are from all of HLS albums and the first 2 ones both are here represented with 5 songs each. Then there are some nice suprises, like "Spirit In The Sky". There are not too many crowd shoutings and sing alongs which is a really good thing. The only problem I have that the songs are not smoothly mixed together. With that this would have been an awesome live album.

This CD gives everyone a good idea how good songwriter HLS is. Just go and buy this, CD you won't be disappointed if you know any of HLS stuff already. Fans in Europe probably will never see HLS live, so this is the closest that one get to live experience of HLS. I have to give this 4 on the scale of 5. I just don't get tired of HLS songs.

Henry Lee SUMMER: "Big Drum" 9

Indie 2001
Review by 6 September 2001

Henry is back and thank God for Henry and his attitude towards music. He had his 15 minutes of fame a while ago and luckily he hasn't stopped writing great music. This is positive music and it comes from the heart (there goes my soft side again) and when listening to "Since I Met You" one just thinks of one's life if it's a happy one or if it had happy moments. I liked "Smoke and Mirrors" but this one I love. Henry has a ton of great songs and if he makes a collection there will be bunch of songs from this record. Song titles like "Happy World" are hardly ever seen these days in the music that is out there. This is great music too and it isn't hard rock or heavy metal but it's honest music. F*** the million selling bands, I'd rather have Henry and his band playing in the radio.

There aren't any weak links here and you can feel the honesty of Henry and that is something that one can't just but respect. All thumbs up for Henry and a small message to Henry if he happens to read this...get your band out of the Indiana corn fields and come to play over here. We do have corn fields here too if you happen to miss home too much! Awesome record! Thank you Henry!

SUN CAGED: "Sun Caged" 9

LionMusic 2003
Review by 28 September 2003

This is one of the most impressive prog metal albums I've heard since Dream Theater's heyday back in the 90's. Sun Caged in a band from Holland consisting of Andre Vuurbloom - vocals (ex-Jera and Imperium), Marcel Coenen - guitars (ex-Lemour Voice), Rob Van Der Loo - bass (ex-Rock Fiction, Agony), Joost Van Der Broek - keyboards (ex-Arjen Lucassen's Star One), and drummer Dennis Leeflang (ex-Within Temptation).

Their debut album is filled with atmospheric music, heavy riffing, massive keyboards and killer material. Best of all... the diversity of the songs and the fact that you won't need the remote control much at all really. You'll gladly spin the disc from start to finish, over and over again. Credit must also go to the fantastic production and the mixing by cult hero Arjen Lucassen (Star One).

The bands' influences range from prog-metal to fusion and jazz, death metal and atmospheric and ambient jaunts. The music is however best described as Dream Theater meets Ayreon with 'some' heavy guitar riffing a'la Meshuggah. Melody and harmony are still the keywords here and there's absolutely no need to worry for grunts or other disturbing influences. Vocalist Vuurbloom is blessed with one helluva set of pipes and sing better than most prog-metallers. He can easily switch back and forward from highpitched vocals to his "normal" singing voice. It's technical and complex music at its fullest and it's difficult to find any downsides or things to complain about. You can of course accuse them of being Dream Theater wannabees and such. But far from everything comes out as 'DT' music as they've managed to create their own sound too. I find it difficult to pick out any favorite tracks as they're all part of the whole picture. Good, classic, prog-metal is meant to be played from the start to finish anyway. It's surely not about finding 'hits' and with a track average of plus/minus 7 minutes, the chance of airplay is slim anyhow. You can however find a couple of "highlights" as the melodic parts with tracks like "Home", "Soil", "Hollow", "Closing In", and "Unchanging", are perhaps more enjoyable in the long run. Keep in mind that you need to be in the right mood or a completely prog-metal-nut, to truly appreciate all aspects with Sun Caged. The best release ever from the LionMusic label? Yeah... quite possibly so! Do surf along to the Sun Caged site (very nice) and have a listen to the full MP3 of Hollow. Progressive? ...indeed!

SUPARED: "Supared" 2

Noise Records 2003
Review by 7 January 2003

My Oh My!!! What ever happened to power vocalist Michael Kiske anyway? After listening to his new outfit "Supared", I'm preperd to say, that I don't give a rats ass anymore. It's been straight downhill since he decided to leave Helloween really. This must be rock bottom though as you can't get any lower really.

I have no idea why? One of the most powerful metal labels in the world!!! Decided to release this crap in the first place. It's not metal, it's not hardrock, and it's not even good nu-rock/pop either. Believe me, I'm not against musicians who decides to change thier musical direction at all. Heck! Many hardrock artists/bands have managed to pull it off, without sounding dull or boring.

This however is very dull and boring music indeed. The song material is simply awful!! It makes you think about some lousy indie-pop-garage band from UK, without the knowledge of how to write good song material. The line-up of Michael Kiske (vocals), Sandro Giampietro (guitars), Aldo Harms (bass) & Jurgen Spiegel (drums). May just have done the most horrible CD of the year 2003 here. Only "Can I Know Now" and the ballad "Ride On", can be considered as nice pop songs. The rest of the 12 songs are simply not good enough. Fans of the "Helloween" sound should stay clear from this and only remember the good times.

SUPERFLY 69 : "Sing It With A Smile" 6

Sweet Lemon 2001

Review by 28 July 2001

The distributor of Superfly 69 is promoting them as a "crossover rock" act, so I was afraid that this would be some sort of a mishmash of samples, rap and heavy guitars. Thankfully it isn't, we're dealing with modern hard rock, that takes its' cues from the more energetic rock acts of the nineties mixed with some eighties' elements. No grunge depression here!

Apparently the band are making big waves in Europe with their music, and I can see why. They have a handful of quite catchy modern rock tracks here, including "Make It Happen", the hit single "Superfly" and "Sacred". The Greek traditional trck "Choris Dekara" is a fun surprise inclusion, while the ballad "Silverspoon" is a nod to the eighties' acoustic rock ballad tradition. It also kind of reminds me of Saigon Kick.

Had the band managed to write a few more tracks as good as the ones mentioned above, I might be singing high praise now. Unfortunately the remaining tracks are a bit on the dull side, mostly let down by the lack of catchy hooks. However, Superfly 69 are a promising act that might just make it to the big league, if not with this album, then with the next one.

One thing more though: The hidden track (number 69, he he) might be a live favourite here in Finland,as the greek (?) lyrics contain a word that sounds like one of the "nasty" words of our language. I could imagine ten thousand drunken Finns on a festival singing along to this song with a Beavis & Butt-head-like grin on their face. "Heheheheh...I said a dirty word"!

SUPERFLY 69: "Dummy Of The Day" 8

Sweet Lemon/RockInc 2003
Review by 24 May 2003

The second album of these “Krautrockers” is something Germany can be proud of. If you enjoyed their debut “Sing It With A Smile” then you must not hesitate to purchase their new one.

Straightforward heavy rock ‘n roll from “Mine All Mine” till “Dumbass” hits you in the face and prove that Superfly 69’s music is superb to listen to on a perfect sunny day. This is true festivalrock, like: One, two three goooooo…….and then you see lost of people stagediving and moshing about.

“Fadeout” is a ballad and not my favourite cup of tea on this album, unlike the very fast and furious hardcore track “Dumbass”; which is a really headbanger beauty. Some songs like “Diane” or “Mine All Mine” even remind me of Therapy?; a band I always admired, and still do. So you festival organizers out there, check out “Dummy Of The Day” and add Superfly 69 to your bill, success guaranteed.

SUPREME MAJESTY: "Tales Of A Tragic Kindom" 8

Massacre Records 2001
Review by 2 September 2001

It would be so easy to lump Supreme Majesty together with all the other melodic/power/trottel metal acts of today, but thankfully there's something that raises them above the rest. First of all, although there doesn't seem to be a keyboard player in the band, some of the songs contain a healthy dose of keys. Secondly, the vocalist Joakim Olsson is a great find - imagine Joey Tempest mixed with Michael Voss (of Casanova, Mad Max, Demon Drive) without his attempts to sound "mean and angry". Yep, Joakim has a good voice for melodic metal, and I'm pretty sure he could do a great job in a more AOR'ish band as well. Third strong point for the band is the fact that the album is very well produced, and there's no denying that most of the songs are pretty darn good too.

Opener "Strike Like Thunder" starts with an anthemic keyboard riff and features a very Helloween/Stratovarius-like doublebassdrum-driven melodic refrain. Same goes for "Not Of This World" - but this time the synth parp is replaced with very cool guitar parts. Gotta love the Mad Max-like mid-section. "Towards The Northern Star" starts as a midtempo track in the vein of Fifth Angel, but fear not, soon it turns into a speedy, frantic track with drummer Jocke Unger a bit of a whoppin' to his bass drums...and then again a change in the tempo...and another! Never a dull moment with this band!

"Forever I'll Be" is The Big Ballad, and a very fine ballad it is too. "Let It Go" is a catchy track more in the hard rock vein (no frantic double bass drumming!). The title track is a short instrumental piece, while both "Queen Of Egypt" and "Keeper Of The Dead" are a bit weaker and less memorable than the other tracks. The band's title song "Supreme Message" is again blessed with parp-tastic keyboard work, and a catchy chorus. The vocals of Mr. Olsson are really Voss-like on this one, they make me think of Mad Max's "Stormchild" album...Finally, another ballad "Eye Of The Storm" closes the album, and I can safely say that I think I have just heard the best melodic metal album of this year so far! Trottel on!

SURRENDER: "Full Circle" 7

Pro Digital Records 2000

Review by 01-03-16

Some of you might recognize the name SURRENDER from the late 70's early 80's! This is how ever a pretty new band from Long Island (New York) USA. Not that new actually, they've been around for 6-7 years and "Full Circle" produced by Michael Phillip Costanzo (Hall&Oates, 98 Degrees) is their 3:rd release. They've been the opening act for bands such as: Warrant, Skid Row, Vaughn, Union etc. and I most say that I'm really impressed by the band even if some of the song material sounds almost too much like HUGO. Not that strange maybe since the Steve Perry look and sound alike himself (HUGO that is) sings background vocals and has co-written one of the tracks (all courtesy of Now & Then Records .. I hope)

Now ...don't go thinking that SURRENDER are just HUGO wannabes (really? Hugo wannabees?) but if you like his CDs, I'm sure (know) that you will enjoy this CD too as you can find a hand full of lovely Piano ballads. How ever "Full Circle" also provides us with some more uptempo Guitar tracks in the style of: TYKETTO or sometimes almost like early Danger Danger.

Lead Vocalist: PAUL CARLEY is a superb singer and for sure one of the better one's I've heard for a long time and the background vocals/harmonies are all excellent.The down side might be that some of the uptempo songs are just too childish, like "My baby and Me" and the horrible "Edge of Surrender" with the worst chorus i've heard in years (even if the verses are okay).Highlights are opener "Could've been" with some minor "Modern POP" influences "It's Real" a cool ballad a-la Hugo, "Other side of Goodbye" Country-AOR, "Where Do We Go From Here" a fun uptempo track and "Silence Says It All" a SUPERB piano ballad.The rest are all good songs even if a couple of the songs lacks a really good hook ! Still You can't really go wrong with this CD if you're into mid-tempo AOR and it's a must have if you're a Hugo fan. Check out their site at: for some MP3's and more info or email them at:

Jimi Jamison's SURVIVOR: "Empires" 8+

Frontiers/USG 1999

Eleven years after the release of "Too Hot To Sleep", the last Survivor album, Jimi Jamison returns to the scene with his version of Survivor. Original guitarist/songwriter Frakie Sullivan and vocalist Dave Bickler have another "Survivor", and they may have won the lawsuit, but that's not to say that Jamison's version doesn't do justice to the name. "Empires" is a fine piece of AOR for the nineties, faithful to the style of old Survivor, but with enough spirit and fresh ideas to keep it interesting.

"Cry Tough" opens the show with a traditional AOR style, yet not sounding dated, and Jamison sounds just as good as way back in the eighties. The song is an instant singalong anthem, and one of the best on the album. "Run From The Thunder" is an average hard rock number that sounds like it could have been taken from the disappointing Jamison solo album "When Love Comes Down", while "I'm Always Here" is indeed an old Jamison solo track, the theme song from Baywatch. Somehow it sounds a bit out of place here, but it's not a bad track and I am sure it's a wise inclusion marketingwise.

The title song is the only song co-written by "original Survivors" Frankie Sullivan and Jim Peterik, and it's a good ballad that keeps getting better with every time I hear it. It also features the vocal talents of Lisa Frazier. "First Day Of Love" is a surprising track, starting like a typical melodic Survior track, but suddenly the guitars crash in with Jamison singing on top of everything like a hard rock semi-god! The chorus is still just as melodic as anything else on the album, and quite brilliant too. "Have Mercy" follows the same heavy melodic style successfully. A special mention must go the intro of the song - very cool!

"Just Beyond The Clouds" is a more traditional AOR ballad, and 10-15 years ago it would have been all over radio. With "A Dream Too Far" Jimi & co. return to the aforementioned heavy melodic AOR style and believe me, they do it well! This song is probably my favourite track, full of athmospheric keyboard textures and blessed with an amazing hook. Unfortunately, it is followed by the weak "Love Is Alive", which doesn't really go anywhere. However, as "November Rain" is an OK ballad and "Calling America" sounds very good too, the album ends with a high note. Except that it doesn't end, as two live tracks, Survivor classics "Burning Heart" and "Rebel Son" have been added to the album. Great tracks and well performed too, and I am sure they make this album more appealing to the common man. He might take a chance on an album that has a couple of songs he already knows, "the Baywatch song" and "the Rocky IV song", rather than a brand new product.

Jmi Jamison's SURVIVOR: "Empires (reissue)" 8

Frontiers 2003
Review by 19 October 2003

Four years ago Jamison released this album under the name of "Jimi Jamison's Survivor". There was some debate and law suits regarding the name, but it's all history now, as Jimi is back in the "real" Survivor. "Empires" gets a re-release as a Jimi Jamison solo album, what it really was to begin with. There are two bonustracks on the album, a nice christmas song "Keep It Evergreen" and a live version of the Survivor track "Too Hot To Sleep", which was first released on the "I'm Always Here" single back in 1999.

Here's an edited version of my original review of the 1999 release - the album was good back then and it's still good in 2003!

"Empires" is a fine piece of AOR for the nineties, faithful to the style of old Survivor, but with enough spirit and fresh ideas to keep it interesting.

"Cry Tough" opens the show with a traditional AOR style, yet not sounding dated, and Jamison sounds just as good as way back in the eighties. The song is an instant singalong anthem, and one of the best on the album. "Run From The Thunder" is an average hard rock number that sounds like it could have been taken from the disappointing Jamison solo album "When Love Comes Down", while "I'm Always Here" is indeed an old Jamison solo track, the theme song from Baywatch. Somehow it sounds a bit out of place here, but it's not a bad track and I am sure it's a wise inclusion marketingwise.

The title song is the only song co-written by "original Survivors" Frankie Sullivan and Jim Peterik, and it's a good ballad that keeps getting better with every time I hear it. It also features the vocal talents of Lisa Frazier. "First Day Of Love" is a surprising track, starting like a typical melodic Survior track, but suddenly the guitars crash in with Jamison singing on top of everything like a hard rock semi-god! The chorus is still just as melodic as anything else on the album, and quite brilliant too. "Have Mercy" follows the same heavy melodic style successfully. A special mention must go the intro of the song - very cool!

"Just Beyond The Clouds" is a more traditional AOR ballad, and 10-15 years ago it would have been all over radio. With "A Dream Too Far" Jimi & co. return to the aforementioned heavy melodic AOR style and believe me, they do it well! This song is probably my favourite track, full of athmospheric keyboard textures and blessed with an amazing hook. Unfortunately, it is followed by the weak "Love Is Alive" (also covered by Anastacia), which doesn't really go anywhere. However, as "November Rain" is an OK ballad and "Calling America" sounds very good too, the album ends with a high note. Except that it doesn't end, as the aforementioned christmas song and thre live tracks (two on the original release), Survivor classics, "Too Hot To Sleep", "Burning Heart" and "Rebel Son" have been added to the album. Great tracks and well performed too, added value to the customer no doubt!

SWALLOW THE SUN: "The Morning Never Came" 7

Firebox 2003
Review by 17 November 2003

The horror, the horror, the unspeakable horror!!! This is truly one scary and mighty story about when "The Morning Never Came". It's like a chapter taken straight out of your worst nightmare, where Swallow The Sun, are the bringers of both darkness and pain somehow. This is the stuff that dreams are made of... the ugly and sickening ones.

Swallow The Sun arised out of the ashes of previous acts such as Plutonium Orange, Funeris Nocturnum, and Morningstar, in Finland back in 2000. The band started to arrange songs for their first demo in spring 2002, and it was finally recorded in January this year. Soon afterwards STS received the invitation to join Firebox Records and this 8-track CD is the final result.

STS play melancholic, doomy, death metal, according to their label, but I would actually classify this more as "black" instead of "death" metal. It's just a twist of words in the end I guess (kind of lame actually)... and I believe "horror" metal would do just fine too. Try playing this disc while your granny makes her monthly visit and finally receive that long coming heritage of yours [:-)]. Kotamäki (vocals) growls in the traditional way of black/death singers, even if there is normal vocals at the end of the disc. The average track has a running time of 7 +/- minutes and almost all of them are mid-tempo one's. Lots of atmospheric keyboards builds up a gloomy, melancholic, mood... which can be described as something: Lullacry, Samael, or My Dying Bride, could possible come up with... if they came from Finland. STS are obviously also riding the wave of "melancholic" music, which my neighbours in the east are so successful with at the moment. Swollow The Sun is the darke! r wave of course... but you can find them using the same basic elements, with 'true emotions' being thrown upfront. The songs are very "melodic" if you put aside the growls and "Through Her Silvery Body", "Deadly Nightshade", "Out Of This Gloomy Light", and "Hold This Woe", are all fantastic anthems (in its genre). The main downer would be the growls actually as they tend to become too monotonous in the end. A promising debut album after all.

SWEET: "Sweetlife" 6

Delirious Records 2002
Review by 10 July 2003

70'ies legends and superstars SWEET resurrected their recording career last year and "Sweetlife" was the result. Actually this album looks more like it's been released under the band name of "Sweetlife" too, as nowhere on the album it does say that this is "The Sweet" or anything like that. I guess some legal wranglings are the reason for that.

So what are these classic rockers up to these days? Well, the Sweet sound has been updated, yet not forgetting the original sound of the band. Indeed, also the whole band has been updated, with only guitarist/vocalist Andy Scott remaining from the classic line-up. Other members of the band are Steve Grant on keys, Jeff Brown on bass and vocals and Bruce Bisland on drums. Both Brown and Bisland are from the line-up of recently reformed Statetrooper.

The album is kicked off with the title track, which is hardly a good idea. The song happens to be quite dull, and never really takes off. The single "Do It All Over Again" is much better, somewhat reminiscent of some of the 70'ies Sweet material, although it could've used a stronger hook too. "Everything" has no such worries, as it has a brilliant chorus with great backing vocals. The more laid-back "Leap Of Faith" also benefits from strong backing vocals. "You're Crazy" sees the band attempting pomp/prog rock with lots of tempo changes and intricate harmony arrangements. Can't say I really like it, but it should be pure magic for late seventies' Styx/Kansas fans. "Never Say Forever" takes us a few years further, with a very eighties-like sound, "dut-dut" keys and everything. And me being a sucker for the eighties' sound, this track is among my faves.

The second half of the album isn't too much to my liking. There's "Airheads", another very 70'ies-sounding track, reminding me of a combination "old" Sweet and Queen. "So Far So Good" is also a retro-ish track, with vintage Sweet harmonies - somewhat annoying "Ah! Ah!'s" actually. "Everybody Wants To Be Someone" quickly takes us back to the 21st century, with a guitar riff that's almost "NuMetal"-like. The chorus is "Sweeter", but ultimately the song doesn't work. Well, at least they don't rap! "Neon Psychedelia" is unintentionally funny with its' Spinal Tap-like chorus, and again rates as one of the weaker tracks. Last but not least there's "Sweetlife Overunderture", a nice instrumental with lots of layered keys and orchestral instrumentals, but I really don't consider a complete song, it's more like an outro for the album.

Michael SWEET: "Michael Sweet"

Benson 1992

This is the first solo release of the former Stryper vocalist Michael Sweet. Stryper were a decent band with some good albums, but I have to say that this is even better! What makes this album interesting from an AOR fan's point of view is the fact that most of the songs were co-written by Gregg Fulkerson, formely of Blue Tears.

From the Nightranger-sounding opener "Together" it's obvious that this is quite far from the christian metal style of Stryper. The "message" is still there, but musically Sweet has moved more towards AOR. To put it simply, this album is like a mixture of the best bits of Stryper and some Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and Foreigner.

"The best song of the album"-award goes to "All This And Heaven Too", which is just about the most amazing song I have heard in a while, a cool rocker blessed with an amazing chorus. However, overall I feel that it's indeed the heaviest rockers that are the weakest tracks here. Songs like "Take Me Home" and "J.E.S.U.S." sound huge but somehow shallow. The melodic numbers more than make up for it though, as they are just brilliant. Tracks like "Tomorrow, Tonight" and "Someday" are first-class AOR!

Robert SWEET: "Love Trash" 4

World Gone Mad 2000

Review by 11-12-00

Former Stryper drummer has put together an album of his own songs. He also produced it and played all the instruments, with only the vocals perfromed by one Larry Worley (now where do I know that guy from? Help me out!). It is apparent that Robert tries hard to separate himself of the sometimes sugarsweet Stryper sound, and it seems that he has gotten infatuated with the smooth melodies of Seattle (a joke, got it?). Kurt Cobain even gets a thank you in the liner notes...

The opener "Help Me To Help Myself" doesn't really give a warning of what's to come, as it is quite a decent modern hard rock song, with good melodies and background vocals here and there. The title track is already more in the grunge fashion, though not entirely without something likeable. "The F Word" follows with barely a noticeable gap between the songs, and it is even more in the Seattle style. For those interested, the F-word in this case is "Forgive". And so it goes...the remaining songs are more or less grungy, with the wonderfully titled...let me check..."I'm ?@#$%&!" being the best out of them, with its' melodic chorus. It almost makes up for "Best Regrets", which sounds like Robert's attempt to write a Nirvana song!

Robert Sweet is obviously a multitalented musician, and Larry Worley a worthy singer, but with this kind of material I don't think they are going to be impressing the Stryper fans. Anyway, the latest news is that Stryper are about to reform and headline a christian music festival in the US next year. I don't know whether there are plans to record new material, but meanwhile, if you want something in the vein of Stryper, don't expect "Love Trash" to be it. On the other hand, if you're in the mood for some christian grunge oriented rock, visit

SYANIDE KICK: "Syanide Kick" 4

Perris Records 2004
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
1 May 2004

All that glitters isn't gold. Perris Records managed to dig a few great glam bands up again (from Pretty Boy Floyd to Roxx Gang, etc.) and let us know about a few previously unheard yet great (from Roxx to Loud N' Nasty, etc.) but in the meantime a few less interesting efforts sneaked in. Syanide Kick is one of those. [From the bio of the band:] "Featuring Big Bang Babies drummer and Tuff bass player Syanide Kick was another Sunset Strip band overlooked by major labels." Well, I guess not all by accident. The music is just below average glam rock with a guitar sound that is worse than of a garage band's, with a vocalist who is at best unconfident at worst bordering being off-key, and songs with about as much originality or entertaining factor as "Naked Gun part 38".

The majority of the songs are chewed and spit out ideas by Poison or "Girls Girls Girls" era Motley Crue. The label compares the band to Bulletboys. I guess it's just perfect. Bulletboys were a band who were at least as unoriginal and as bad as Syanide Kick. But at least Bulletboys managed to come up with "Smooth Up", their one and only good song while Syanide Kick fails to impress with any of their tunes. Don't get me wrong, they try very hard. We have acoustic intros to some of the songs that remind me of the ballads of the first Skid Row album, then there are quite a few typical, blandola glam rock anthems with titles like "Hollywood Angel", "Young & Wild" and all the rest of the gimmicks you knew by heart (and got tired of) by 1991. Hell, we even get a weird Led Zep wannabe blues rocker with whining vocals ("I'm Lost") that sounded tired even from Lenny Wolf (Kingdom Come) who by the way was a better vocalist by light-years than Joey Martell.

There are a few fun things on the album though, for example "Let Me Down Easy" sounds like a leftover from the first Poison album (you can always trick your smart-ass catalogist friends by making them believe it was an unreleased Poison tune) or the closing track "Leg's Up High" has charmingly stupid lyrics. Other than that I can't really think of a good reason to shell out the price of a full CD for ten weak tracks and a total running time less than 39 minutes.

John SYKES: "Nuclear Cowboy" 2

Universal 2001

Review by 01-03-16

From his early days with Tygers of Pan Tang to the Big Rock that he did with: Thin Lizzy, Blue Murder & Whitesnake have I always thought that this guy was/is something extra. JOHN SYKES couldn't only play the guitar, he knew how to write some cool songs, Sing and not to forget that he had that Rock'N'Roll charisma which I'm sure made many girls wanna play nurse and doctor with the man.

This album though wont make many hardrock fans happy as it's a friggin Rap - Industrial rock album filled with hip hop beats and strange noises!!! I won't even bother reviewing this CD any further as it has almost nothing to do with the classic rock that we the old fans of his music likes.

I'm sure that John Sykes enjoys it though and that's maybe all that counts? One things for sure He won't please his old fans and I'm not sure that he will get that many new fans either?! He sings maybe better than ever (when he's not raping) and I can't complain about the production either .... but then ... ??? Oh, how the mighty has fallen ... pass me an aspirin. will ya?! Not recommended to Rock fans!!!

SYNEMA: "Evolution For A Party Of One"

Indie 2002
Review by 7 September 2002

The band says that this album represents "the definite sound of Synema, combining electronic, symphonic and neo progressive rock". I won't argue with that, I can only tell you what I hear, and that is well-performed progressive rock. Unlike most of the other progressive acts we get to review, Synema are not too metal oriented, instead of heavy guitars their music seems to be based on synthesizers. It's highly melodic, but not in a very memorable way. I've played this album a few times, and although it is very nice to listen on the background, it doesn't have those hooks that make you want to play it again. That's a shame really, as the musicians here are obviously very talented, the vocals are good, and the production is suberb for an indie release.

I guess this CD could be billed as our "special tip for fans of athmospheric progressive music and fellow musicians". Those of you looking for something more instant and catchy might as well keep on looking.

SYRON VANES: "Insane" 6

Carnival Records 2003
Review by 11 April 2003

Smack the pony and smoke me a kipper!!! Look what the cat dragged in some sixteen(16) years after its latest catch. In plain English perhaps??? Well... let's just say that I never expected to have a brand new release by Syron Vanes, in front of me.

Not that strange either, since this Swedish hardrock band recorded two albums in the mid-80's (Bringer of Evil - 1984, Revenge - 1986), before disapearing into obscurity. They were formed in the southern parts of Sweden/Malmo, back in 1981 and signed a five record deal with UK label "Ebony Records" in 1984.

"Insane" is heavier than their 80's albums though! It's very much guitar oriented rock with lots of crunching riffs and power chords. It actually reminded me of other Swedish bands, like: Mental Hippie Blood, Locomotive Breath (SwedenRock Records), Skintrade (no rap though) and the "Insane" guitar shredding of Freak Kitchen. The main problem is that many of the tracks, do sound alike in the end. They are all pretty much shaped around the same construction with simular riffs. Not to mention that the tempo stays the same, althrough the whole album. I wish they could either put down the pedal to the metal or slow it down, sometimes. Tracks like opener "Insane", "Why", "Bad Desire", "Rock N Roll Parole", "Human Faces", and "Holy Man" are all great though. The latter reminded me also of Leviticus, during their 'The Strongest Power' days. Not only because the lyrics are about a "Holy Man", the chorus is very/scary alike the work of Bjorn Stigsson.

SZEKERES Tamás: "Guitarmania"

Hungaroton 1989, Dureco 1992, Hungarton-Gong 1994
Review by

Some of you might have a 1994 version of this album and wonder what this album is doing here. Well, the album initially came out in Hungary only in 1989 and as far as I know it wasn't even released on CD back then (I might be wrong with this, well, at least I myself have never seen the original in CD format. unfortunately!) Then in 1992 Tamás re-recorded the whole album again and reissued it. The album features two bonus tracks and an intro but all the tracks were edited a little bit. This is a real re-recording, not just a reissue with bonus tracks to rip fans off for the second time too. If you can put your hands on the original (which I find almost impossible anymore.) Anyways if you could somehow, it's a lot of fun to compare the two versions of the songs.

As you might know by now Tamás is one of the favorite instrumental guitar artists of Loud & Clear and not undeserved! "Initials" open the album. It's like a fanfare composed on the guitar. Very nice and Tamás shows some cool tricks on it. "Warning To Call" is the first track that was featured on both of the versions. It's an uptempo instrumental anthem with the usual almost sing-able verse and refrain. Any MacAlpine or Vinnie Moore fans who haven't been confronted with Tamás's music yet would lick their fingers after listening to this one. "Children of Rock" is more laid back, almost ballad-like. This song has a verse that gets you right in the heart. The composition is as wonderful as on all of the Tamás songs. The reissue has new keyboard sounds and further developed drum tracks (not that the originals were bad!)

"Outline" comes next, one of Tamás's early "hits". Now this refrain is a great fast lick that is almost unforgettable. The re-recorded version has awesome drum tracks laid by a Dutch studio drummer. "Message Of Dreamland" is something different. It features a nylon string guitar background and a wonderful lead, a very tasty ballad that really takes you to "Dreamland". Tamás clearly shows his classical guitar background on this one. This musical background can be sensed all through his playing (just like on Malmsteen's or MacAlpine's for example).

"The Final Frontier" speeds the album up again. The new arrangement made this tune even more enjoyable (compared to the original). All the musicians show their strength on this one. This is one of the concert favorites right up till now. So is "The King In Yellow", another uptempo instrumental anthem with classical touches, especially in the refrain. If you like early Malmsteen this tune is for you. "Baby Blue" brings back the catchy melodies again, a withdrawn ballad with wonderful arrangement. The re-recording of the album raised the musical quality of this one too, especially in the drum and keyboard sounds. Then a Beethoven cover "Prelude & Presto". This is pure classical music, something like you could get on Tamás's classical only albums but it fits here well and is a little different, almost refreshing.

"Guitarmania" speeds it up again. Now this is the title track but this one could summarize Tamás's early years in one song. Anything I listed so far in this review or in last month's review of his newie (King Street Blues) can be heard here. The original version of the album finishes with "Adagio" and what a finish it is?! That's the most beautiful instrumental ballad I've ever heard in my life. It is in the same class as for example "Always With Me, Always With You" from Satch or "Samba Pa Ti" from Santana. If this tune does not touch you, you have no heart at all! If once I'm going to be buried with an army parade I want this tune to be played there.

The two bonus tracks are new compositions but fit here very well. "In A Strange Land" is a very clear midtempo composition, with the usual catchy melodies. Recommended for driving in the sun! "The Summer" is another ballad. I wish all the summers were like this song. When driving back home from a holiday at the beach (to get back to the usual rat-race, grind, shit) this song could easily bring the tears in anyone's eyes. If you weren't a big instrumental music fan so far you should check this album out. It either changes it or you are hopeless. If you are a fan, this album is a must!


SZEKERES Tamás: "King Street Blues" 8

Guitarmania 2000
Review by

This is the 12th solo release from Tamás which - taking into account that he's Hungarian and Hungary is not the center of the melodic rock scene - shows a definitely huge effort. Among the 12 releases you can find purely instrumental albums (like this one), half vocal-half instrumental ones, classical guitar albums and albums filled with covers of instrumental guitar hits. Though Tamás lives in Hungary, he released some of his albums in the Netherlands with Dutch musicians. This one is a "Hungarian only" record featuring the cream of Hungarian rock musicians.

"King Street Blues" is the title track (and the first one too) which is a kind of tribute to the part of Budapest Tamás is living in (the name of the street he is living in translated into English sounds "King Street"). However the song is not a traditional "blues" tune you 'd expect, rather a great mid-tempo rocker, but knowing the poor, dirty neighborhood of the actual street you definitely can't call it "King Street Beach Metal" or something. The title track shows all the strengths Tamás has developed all through the years. He grew to be the kind of instrumental guitarist whose playing is enjoyable for any listener, not only for guitar freaks. Namely he writes SONGS. All the tracks are composed and arranged very carefully, you can hear well written songs on all of his albums, not just some technical guitar virtuosity which only gives place to the lead guitar and the rest of the instruments are just to fill the space. "King Street Blues" has a great guitar-organ riff to give the base to the lead guitar. Listening Tamás's playing is like listening to a singer. He writes verses and refrains, and you can even hear the guitar "taking a breath" before starting to play a line of them.

The second track is a cover of Greg Howe's Terrace. To be honest I didn't find the original an interesting tune either, though Tamás gives a good interpretation of the song (which is electric organ - guitar only) I found it the least interesting moment of the album. On his "The Dreamlake" album, he has chosen to cover "Kick It All Over" from Greg, which I found a much better choice and enjoy it from the very first moment to the last.

Track three "Then and Now" takes us back to the "usual" great stuff from Tam s. Another mid-tempo rocker with an awesome riff and ripping playing over it. The refrain slowly climbs into your ears and doesn't wanna get out for the next 5-6 hours. The opening riff of the track resembles a bit to the verse riff of "Welcome Stranger" from his "The Dreamlake" album but the similarity is not too annoying and both are great tunes. The track is another highlight of the album. So is the second (and last) cover, "Tears of Sahara" from Tony MacAlpine. To be honest I love the original too (unlike the Greg Howe track) and was absolutely delighted by Tamás's interpretation of it. Tamás's playing is - technical-wise - quite close to Tony's. The similarity was a bit more obvious in his early years when Tamás was playing faster, and this one wasn't his first MacAlpine cover either, and he did fine job again. Though as I mentioned Tam s's playing got a bit slower through the years, with the next track "CD Shop" he shows that he is still fast as hell. This track is has strong classical touches, I could compare to Yngwie's playing, and features a spectacular drum solo by Ferenc Debreczeni. He plays the drums for Omega (a cult rock band of Hungary, some older readers might remember them touring with Scorpions back in the late seventies, early eighties). L szl¢ Benk‹, one of the keyboard players featured on the album, also plays in Omega. The rest of the musicians are also very well-known in Hungary and have already been working with Tam s for long-long years.

Track six "Getting Real" is from the same genre as the opening one. Awesome riff, tasty soloing, another great mid-tempo rocker with an almost sing-able refrain. Track seven "10 Years Outdoor" is a curiosity. It's the first track ever (at least that I can remember) on Tamás's albums that is credited to someone else, and is not a cover tune. This one is namely from László Benkõ the keyboard player, and to me it is by far the best track of the album. A real instrumental guitar hit that gets right into your heart and you never forget its melody. The song opens with a slow intro. At the first listening I thought it was going to be a follow up for Tamás's awesome ballads from his previous albums, but this one turns to be a mid-tempo rocker too. Wonderful arrangement, all the instruments are a pleasure to listen to and the melody of the refrain sticks in your ears like glue. If you know "Downbelow Station" from his "Guitartales" album, well this is something similar to that one (which was kind of "hit" on one of the Hungarian cable televisions back then). I can only hope this track will also reach a bigger audience.

Track 8 "Ear-Clips" is opened up by Hammond organ again. This one is a mid-tempo track again, which shows pretty well that Tamás slowed down (compared to his early years) and concentrates on songwriting as much as possible instead of simply showing technical tricks (which was never characteristic for him though his playing is technically perfect). "Back To The Light" closes the album. The rhythm guitar and the organ give an awesome base for this one too. This one is even slower, almost "ballad-like" and leaves you with a good feeling. However I personally miss a "real" ballad that you could find an all of his albums so far. Tamás is a master of writing melodies that bring the tear in the listener's eyes, and his best interpretations of these kind of melodies are the ballads on his previous releases. This album is quite short (not even 40 minutes) but definitely worth getting. A must for guitar fans and a very rewarding experience for anyone who got tired of boring instrumental releases.

For more info on Tamás's albums and carrier check out his official web-site at and stay tuned for the 444U section of the next issue of Loud & Clear that will feature Tamás's classic "Guitarmania" album.