You can find older reviews and everything else in the Reviews Archive.

RUSSELL ALLEN: "Atomic Soul" 8

Inside Out 2005
Review by Martien Koolen,
14 April 2005

The voice of Symphony X releases his first solo album, and what an album it is. If you think that the 11 songs on “Atomic Soul” are Symphony-X sound-a-like songs then you are in for a big surprise. Only “Seasons Of Insanity” is such a typical prog metal track with rather aggressive vocals and a truly sparkling guitar solo.

However, on the other 10 songs you will find that Russell’s musical roots are definitely in big rock bands of the seventies; like for instance: Led Zeppelin, Dio, Rainbow and Black Sabbath. But you also find influences of more actual bands like Alice In Chains, Soundgarden and Glenn Hughes. You can hear that Russell is a big fan of vocalists like Ronnie James Dio, Robert Plant, Chris Cornell and Glenn Hughes, especially in tracks like “Voodoo Hand” and “Angel”. Russell Allan has composed and arranged the complete album and he also played a lot of the guitar and bass guitar parts. He got some help from his Symphony-X buddies of course and from Jens Johansson on keyboards.

Russell’s vocal abilities need not be discussed anymore, as he one of the best rock singers of our age, but I never expected this solo album to be so different from his Symphony X work. Just listen to the fantastic Led Zeppelin-like opener and you probably will be hooked on the album right from the start. Then with “Voodoo Hand” and “Angel” you have two great steamy rock tracks with a Glenn Hughes vibe, like I have never heard before by any other singer. “The Distance” is a bluesy semi-ballad with an extremely laid-back guitar solo, while “Gaia” is a neo-classical Malmsteen-like song with fantastic vocal parts and great instrumental passages. “Loosin’ You” can best be described as a classic rock song in the tradition of bands like The Free or Bad Company, while “Saucey Jack”(nice title) is again bluesy with a slide guitar theme and some serious handclapping throughout the song. The longest and best track is called “We Will Fly”. It opens with a great pianopart and then features great singing, jazzy parts, excellent guitar riffs and diverse melodies. The title track is an up-tempo track with typical Rainbow and Deep Purple trademarks. All in all a great effort by top-notch vocalist Russell Allen and a must for lovers of pure rock music!

Jay MILES: "9 Hours" 8

MTM 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
7 April 2005

Kicking off with the smooth style of "Everlasting Love", Jay Miles sets the standard high and delivers a warm breezy blueprint for the entire album. Indeed, it's Pop/Rock tinged Westcoast music filled with soft ballads and overall classy compositions. What else to expect with such a gathering of westcoast freaks and great musicians anyhow? All of the guitarplaying is the work of Steve Lukather of TOTO fame with the ever so present Michael Thompson (Phil Collins, Shania Twain, Celine Dion, Madonna, etc) by his side. You can also find Neil Stubenhaus (Michael Bolton, Don Henley, Rod Stewart etc), Robbie Buchanan (Bryan Adams, Cher, Chicago, Elton John, etc), and C.J. Vanston (Celine Dion, Toto, Richard Marx etc), contributing with all their knowledge and know-how.

Add to this a fine production (engineer = Greg Ladanyi - 7 albums with Toto, Fleetwood Mac) and that Jay Miles happens to be a fine performer/songwriter and you're in for a real treat. Miles' background is with his band Streamtrain (Epic Records), the native-born Swiss first entered the European charts back in 1994. He later decided to move to the other side of the pond (U.S.) and ended up hanging out with 'all' of the rock/westcoast stars.

The result is a remarkable solid collection of soft rock songs that will have any westcoast fan jumping up and down of joy. I definitely prefer this to the later days work of Richard Marx and it's actually quite difficult to find a better CD of the genre lately. It's music that should suite the fans of above mentioned Marx, Peter Cetera, Chicago, and probably Mark Spiro as well. "Back On The Street" reminded me a lot lof the latter artist actually, while "Grandpa's Chair" is a great softy in the style of Peter Cetera. Miles has even managed to record a version of "I Can't Make You Love Me", without sounding too sappy or flat out dull. Keep in mind that it's rather poppy westcoast though and Miles will only breathly rock out with loud guitars and such. Bottomline, "9 Hours" is a darn fine CD for your laidback moments and should go along nicely with the summer days (daze) that lays ahead of us all.

BISS: "Face-Off" 7

Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
14 April 2005

This is the third album for BISS, and Marc Storace (Krokus) is the band's third vocalist, after Fernarndo Carcia and Michael Bormann...let's hope that this formation will be more stable than the previous ones. The other main characters behind BISS are guitarist Doc Payne and producer Michael Voss.

I haven't heard the previous two BISS albums, so I can't discuss the evolution of the band or anything like that, but what I can tell you is that "Face-Off" is a decent selection of vintage 80'ies styled melodic hard rock. I'm constantly reminded of such bands as Bonfire, Victory or Dokken while listening to these tunes. Classic hard rock riffs, good melodies and excellent vocals from Mr. Storace.

The album starts with a trio of quite good rockers, "Breathless", "Pyromania" and "Rejected". They are not necessarily instant hits, but raise the expectations for the rest of the album. "D.S.O.D." is unfortunately a bit of a letdown, but then the band throws a curveball - a cover of Icon's "Raise The Hammer". A great song from one of my all-time favourite albums ("Night Of The Crime"), and BISS certainly do justice to the track, making it a bit heavier. A classic like this would be hard to follow up, but the band manages well with their own "Calling", my favourite track of the album. This is a bit of a gem, with great melodic guitarplaying and a very strong hook. Hard rockin' "Big Life" is another excellent track, but then the party's over, I'm afraid. The remaining three tracks are clearly the weakest ones here - it's as if the band ran out of hooks and quickly thre together three dull and longwinding tracks to fill the album. Oh well, you can't succeed everytime...

BISS website

MAGELLAN: "Symphony For A Misanthrope" 7

Inside Out 2005
Review by Martien Koolen,
14 April 2005

The Gardner brothers bring out their sixth Magellan album in 15 years and I am afraid that it is not their best one. I liked their previous album “Impossible Figures” very much, but this new CD is a tough nut to crack, actually. I like what they did with the classical touches on this CD; especially the bombastic, classical overture called “Symphonette” is a true delight for my ears. However I am truly disappointed in some of the other songs.

Take for instance the rather boring, monotonous ballad “Wisdom”, which only features the voice of Trent and some acoustic guitar parts, or the track dubbed rather unoriginal “Pianissimo Intermission”, which is ofcourse a piano track only; speaking about boring….

Fortunately in the three great real Magellan songs (“Why Water Weeds?”, “Cranium Reef Suite” and “Doctor Concoctor”), the brothers prove that they can still make great progressive rock music. Especially the epic “Cranium Reef Suite”, which clocks more than 18 minutes is a true classic; a musical intro of 3 minutes is followed by different rhythms, bombastic arrangements, lots of sometimes catchy melodies, guitar solos, excellent singing and a rather “weird” musical outtro of 3 minutes. The heaviest track on this album is “Doctor Concoctor”, where the guitar riff really makes your head spin, this sounds like true prog metal to me. “Why Water Weeds?” is also a typical Magellan track, complex, diverse, howling keys, breathtaking melodies and some rather interesting lyrics, check those out. The theme of most of the songs is rather, dark and depressive, as Trent Gardner describes: “the theme of the CD is the miserable performance end result of humanity in almost all areas.. I think that says it all. Lyrically I think that “Symphony For A Misanthrope” is rather interesting, musically I prefer their previous one as this CD only features 3 great songs, 2 mediocre ones and 2 complete misses!!

Pete LACEY: "Karma's Gonna Get You"

Spitfirewolf Records 2005
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
13 April 2005

Pete Lacey used to front a band called SARAJEVO back in the early nineties, and they were rather successful in UK, considering that they were an indie band. They even supported Ace Frehley in USA, not to mention several tours in their home country. Then, almost overnight, the grunge invasion took place and the hard rock scene vanished.

Pete took a few years off, and it wasn't until 2000 when he released his first solo album. This is his third one, and just like the previous ones, it's almost entirely created by Pete himself in his home studio.

The music on "Karma's Gonna Get You" is no-frills melodic hard rock along the lines of early Firehouse, low-budget Def Leppard or Bon Jovi. There's a bit of NWOFBHM-vibe in some of the tracks, and a couple of the softer ones are almost Adult Contemporary music. In fact, Pete does cover Eric Clapton's AC hit "Wonderful Tonight" as the hidden bonustrack.

I think the strongest point of this album is the songwriting - some of these songs are quite good melodic rock tracks, check out "Release My Heart" or "Into The Fire" for instance. However, I can't get used to Pete's vocal style - it's just too croaky for me. The production leaves a lot to be desired too, but I understand that this CD was done with limited resources.

What's quite admirable is the fact that Pete is selling this album in order to raise money for a charity called "On Track". It's a skills center for adults with severe learning disabilities and physical disabilities, and a part of an organization called Elisabeth Fitzroy Support. If this review or the MP3 of "Release My Heart" in our "MP3 Vault" makes you curious, you can get a copy from this address: P Billington, 23 Nightingale Close, Rowlands Castle, Hampshire, PO9 6EU, England. Send a cheque for 10 POUNDS (Sterling) or 11,50 Pounds if you live outside of the UK and you'll get a CD in return. A limited run of the disc will be suplied with a free extra CD featuring songs from Pete's previous album. You can always e-mail Pete at:

SHA-BOOM: "The Race Is On" 9

DF Records 2005
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
6 April 2005

The thought of yet another 80'ies band making a comeback is quite scary these days - most of them seem to have forgotten what they were all about. That is not the case with Sha-Boom, a swedish band who were really big in Sweden during the late eighties. Their music used to be rather fun, upbeat pop rock with extremely catchy choruses, and here's a shocker - it still is! Some of the lyrics show signs of the band maturing though, but fear not - there's still more silly lyrics here than on a dozen "standard" albums.

I've been talking about "a band" which isn't necessarily the right word, as Sha-Boom really is vocalist Dag Finn. Another original member Peo Thyren has co-written most of the lyrics, but doesn't play on the album. The musicians do include the cream of the crop of Swedish rock scene, so there's nothing to complain about. Tommy Denander (also the co-writer/producer), Kee Marcello, Sayit, Thomas Wikström, John Leven, Mic Michaeli, Ian Haughland and Marcel Jacob have all participated, and that's just to name a few.

The album kicks off with "Blah, Blah, Blah", a modern sounding pop rocker that reminds me a bit of The Rasmus ("Into"-era). Kinda throwaway but quite catchy nevertheless. What really starts the album for me is "Somewhere In The Dark", a monster rocker featuring Kee Marcello on guitars. There are traces of Def Leppard and Treat in this one, and if you like those bands, you're going to love this track! "My Hometown" was released as the first single, and it is indeed quite radio-friendly pop rocker with a strong chorus. Same could be said of the album's title track, co-written by Europe's Mic Michaeli. "22nd Of October" is one of the more mature lyrics on the album, Dag Finn's song to his new-born baby I believe. A good song, with a nice, if a very familiar sounding chorus - I believe Jan Johansen has something similar on one of his albums?

"Into The Fire" rates as the weakest song of the album. A bit boring when it comes to melodies, and the "higher-fire-wire" chorus is quite tiresome. "Get The Part Started" isn't one of my favourites either, but it's still more fun than the previous song. It must be a homage to Finn's heroes The Sweet? "Message Of Love" is pure pop, but a catchy number anyway. Then we're treated to one of the best tracks you're likely to hear this year, "Here I Am". This slightly balladic track is blessed with a superb chorus will have you singing along in no time.

"Big Bang" is THE comic relief of the album, one of the most ridiculous choruses I've heard lately but damn catchy at the same time. It kind of reminds me of Aqua's "Barbie Girl"! The album ends with a trio of excellent songs, "This Is My Life" co-written by Steinar Hagen of Return, the ultra-melodic "Why Did I..?" and "Fortune And Fame", in which Dag Finn sings about reality TV shows, something he's quite familiar with...he was in a show called "Baren" himself a few years ago.

"The Race Is On" is going to be a big favourite among the fans of scandi-AOR. Hopefully Finn & Co can find an audience for this album beyond the hardcore fans as well. Sha-Boom.Nu

FATE: "Scratch n' Sniff" 8

MTM 2005
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
1 April 2005

After re-releasing "Matter of Attitude" now MTM is going for another out of print album by the Swedes under the moniker MTM Classix. One could start discussions regarding the classic status of the record or the band itself but one thing is for sure: these reissues are welcome additions to any melodic rock fan's collection. Especially if we take into account that due to a good remastering job, the guitar sound is really edgy on this one and there are two bonus tracks included.

The line-up here was totally different from the one on Matter of Attitude (most importantly Jeff Lox Limbo was replaced by Per Henriksen on vox and guitar wizard Matthias Eklund arrived) and as a result of that the sound and general approach of the band was also different. Scratch n' Sniff sounds like the early Treat or Evenrude with rough, in your face guitar- work; intense, shout-out refrains; and with a general no-compromise attitude; yet it remains on the melodic side of things. For those who knew the band before long-time favorites like "You're The Best", "Freedom" or "Surgeon in Love" will recall those late 80s early 90s years; but the re-released Fate albums will find a good home at anyone else who's into Treat, Skagarack, Stage Dolls, Evenrude and the rest of the Scandinavian unsung heroes.

Despite the remastering (and the original release date of 1990) Scratch n' Sniff sounds heavily and distinctly 80s yet for whatever reason it still appeals. I found it rather surprising that though I'm over 30 the lyrics of „Freedom" still appeal to me [Try that with most of the „classics" from the 80s… „Only Lonely", „Lonely Nights" or "Love Gun" :-)] Considering all these I must say you can't go wrong when investing into this one.

HANOI ROCKS: "Another Hostile Takeover" 8

Major Leiden Productions 2005
Review by Petri Kautto 31 March 2005

"Another Hostile Takeover" is Hanoi Rocks’ second effort after their recent rebirth. The band has gone through some line-up changes just before the album was released. Stevie Klasson’s visit in the band was short-lived and he’s been replaced by rhythm guitarist Conny Bloom. Andy Christell is the new bass player but Lacu has kept his position on the drums. Most of the music has been written by Andy McCoy and Michael Monroe so the heart of the band remains the same.

This album is a lot more versatile than the previous one. Some people have missed the “vibe” of the old Hanoi albums where they experimented pretty open-mindedly with their music. This time those people will have their wishes come true since the music varies from in your face rock (Back in Yer Face, Better High) to reggae rock (Reggae Rocker). Last year Hanoi did some co-operation with Beats ‘n’ styles (Finnish disco band) and they released a song called “Renegades”. Beats ‘n’ styles DJ’s have contributed to two songs on the album so out of all these elements the CD has a lot to offer.

Hanoi Rocks tries several things on this album but I feel that the rock songs that are not too experimental are the prime of this platter. Lyrically Hanoi Rocks has tons more to offer than most of the rock bands out there and for instance “Eternal Optimist” and “No Compromise, No Regrets” are great examples of that. In some songs they are able to create excellent musical sceneries and the arrangements are far better than on “12 Shots on the Rocks”-album. On the downside Beats and Styles assisted “The Devil in You” and “Reggae Rocker” don’t really add value to the album (thou “Reggae Rocker” is a funny song) and “Talk to the Hand” they could’ve replaced with a more straight forward rocker. The album does still offer several highlights such as “You Make the Earth Move”, “No Compromise, No Regrets” and Thin Lizzy cover “Dear Miss Lonely Hearts”. As a summary of the album I’d say that this is a diversified album that can leave you a bit confused after the first listen. As you give it a few more spins the different elements of the album become clearer but it does take some digesting.

Steve THORNE: "Emotional Creatures Part One" 8

Giant Electric Pea 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
29 Mars 2005

What a fine little debut album from a relative unknown musician from Hampshire, U.K. It's quite a laidback affair in the style of soft Prog-Rock and simply put thought worthy music in the tradition of 70's dino acts. "We're all Emotional Creatures, every one of us" - says Steve Thorne as his songs paint evocative living landscapes, littered with thought provoking and stimulating lyrical content. It's perhaps not all that suitable for the party-all-night-long and sleep-all-day person, then again, I'm sure we all can find something to enjoy here.

Although this is Thorne's first commercially available releases, his reputation is such that he has managed to attract a bunch of well-known guest musicians. Geoff Downes (Asia, YES, Buggles), Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard, Genesis, Tears For Fears), Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson), as well as members of both IQ (Martin Orford, etc) and Jadis, are all involved in the sound creation of things. However, the multi-talanted Thorne played the majority of the instruments himself.

It's actually quite difficult to put a label or genre sticker on this music of Steve Thorne (it's musically too diverse to pigeon hole). Some of his major influences are definitely Genesis and Peter Gabriel. However, I'd like to add a big dose of Fish (ex-Marillion) and Pink Floyd, along with his two above mentioned influences. It's lush vocal arrangements, atmospheric keyboards, acoustic vs electric guitars, and an overall laidback approach with a slight touch of folk music. "God Bless America" is simplicity at its best, "Well Outta Here" could as easily have been a FISH tune (tunafish?), complete with a similar vocal approach and everything. "Ten Years" comes out as a darn fine mix of Pink Floyd & Genesis rock. "Last Line" is one scary story about dope, while "Gone" takes you back to the Fish territory. It's complex yet simple minded music that goes straight to the heart as well as your brain I hope. Call it art-rock, prog-rock, singer/songwriter style, whatever. Bottomline, "Emotional Creatures Part One" is a small gem for the soft-prog rocker within us all.

COWBOY PROSTITUTES: "Cowboy Prostitutes" 8

Retrospect 2004
Review by Petri Kautto 31 March 2005

Cowboy Prostitutes is a Swedish sleaze rock band and their self-titled album caught me by surprise. I hadn’t heard from this band before and their sleaze meets The Hellacopters –style got my foot stamping.

I have had some songs from this album on constant repeat. For example simply-titled “Joy” has an excellent atmosphere to it. It’s one of those songs that feel really familiar to you from the very first listen and it’s one of the most positive songs I’ve heard lately. It’s followed by “Welcome Back” which is also a very catchy, melodic song. I could list you a few more examples of good songs but they are all pretty strong. Singer/bassist Luca Isabelle has a gritty and recognizable voice. At some points I didn’t feel that he hit the highest notes that perfectly and it sounded like he was screaming more than he was singing. But it didn’t really bother since his voice fits to this kind of music so well.

This is one of those albums that grow on you after every listen. I’m pretty happy that I came across this album and this goes to show that rock music is alive and well in Sweden. The intensity of Cowboy Prostitutes’ music is such that I would imagine that this band just explodes the roof when they play live. Hopefully they’ll come to Finland one day and I could go and see if that would be the case.

Robert VALDES: "Acoustic Journey" 8

RV Records 2005
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
29 March 2005

Remember Robert Valdes? Two years ago I reviewed "Out Of The Shadows", a very well produced hard rock album. I remember saying that he liked to emphasize his guitar playing more than his songwriting or singing, with a lot of "shredding" in many of the songs. Now, with "Acoustic Journey" Valdes does a complete U-turn and re-introduces himself mainly as a singer/songwriter, with very little shredding anywhere to be found!

Valdes offers us 12 acoustic tracks, 10 original compositions and two interesting covers: "Miles Away" by Winger and Y&T's "Winds Of Change". They work quite well, but I still think that the strongest tracks here are among Robert's own compositions. There's a point in including covers though - a bit of familiarity makes it easier for anyone to digest an album like this - not to mention a live show. He might even get himself some extra airplay with these well-known songs.

As for the Valdes originals, there's plenty of stuff for you to enjoy. The opener "Don't Lose Heart" is among the best ones, with its' strong chorus and excellent backing vocals. Very powerful stuff, considering that it's all acoustic! Somehow in this track Valdes manages to combine the modern semi-acoustic rock style of the GooGoo Dolls and the likes with the power of 80'ies hard rock. Another highlight is "Face", with great hooks and backing vocals again, and there's no way I'd forget "He Lit My Way", which reminds me a bit of Firehouse. Lyrically it's more like Stryper, but I have no problem with that. Possibly the best track of the album is "Lonely Man", which is one of the few tracks to feature an electric guitar solo. Another great chorus there and good backing vocals too, but I guess that goes without saying now?

The other tracks are quite good too, although the acoustic version of "Hypnotized" (from "OOTS") doesn't really work for me, and "The Girl I Dream About" might have a sincere lyrical content, but the music is frankly quite annoying, almost like lounge music. And now that I'm being a bit simoncowell'ish, I might add that I am not that fond of Robert's vocals, when it comes to the higher notes. It might be my general dislike for highpitched singing that's talking here, but it seems like he tries go a bit too high here'n there. His lower range vocals are really good though, cool and rough...

I'm really interested in hearing what Mr. Valdes has up his sleeve for the next album. With the first album he showed that he can rock with the best of 'em and on this album he proved that he can come up with excellent melodies and hooks. If the album number three combines those elements successfully, then we're in for a real treat!

Acoustic Journey website

RUNNING WILD: "Rogues En Vogue" 7

GUN/BMG 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
30 Mars 2005

"Rogues En Vogue" - where Rock'N'Rolf finally breaks down of all the modern influences that surrounds him and simply records a rap metal album instead. Yeah right... there'll be a cold day in hell before this old pirate will change his colours... or underwear for that matter. There's nothing more predictable than a new Running Wild CD (except AC/DC perhaps?), you k-n-o-w what you'll get before you've played it.

It's the same old pirates and war stories as before and the same old chords as well I believe. Produced, recorded, and mixed by Rolf'N'Rolf as usual he's also the sole provider of all music, lyrics, vocals, and guitars. Nothing remotely new under the sun with other words and it doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing either. At least you know it's going to be old school heavy metal and not some weird rap/jazz/fusion. And to be honest, "Rogues En Vogue" is in fact a pretty solid affair with some excellent guitarwork by Captain Blood.

Nevermind if you've heard a "couple" of these melodies in the past already as he's managed to record the best Running Wild album since the early/mid-90's and "Black Hand Inn". I find myself infront of the stereo listening to the classy metal of "Draw The Line" and "Angel Of Mercy", and even the corny and typical pirate titles of "Skeleton Dance" or "Skull Or Bones". Something which I haven't really done with the previously 3-4 albums of Running Wild. Yes, it's recycled ideas and with a ten minute epic song as always (The War), but, this is still a decent Running Wild CD and old fans will enjoy it for sure. The limited digi-pack comes with two bonus tracks and I would recommend you to try and hunt it down. It's still a long way from the excellent "Death Or Glory" album (a perfect '10' in my opinion) though.

AT VANCE: "Chained" 7

AFM Records 2005
Review by Martien Koolen,
30 március 2005

Two years ago At Vance released an album called "The Evil In You"(for review see our archives) and I quite liked that melodic power metal album, featuring vocalist Mats Leven. Now, almost two years later the sixth At Vance CD will hit the stores on April 11 and I am really a bit disappointed.

The 11 brand new tracks on "Chained" do not really sound fresh and brand new to me.... Opener "Rise From The Fall" is again (?) a Malmsteen-sound-a-like neo-classical power metal song, filled with familiar guitar riffs, double bass drums and, thank God for that, the powerful throat of Mats Leven. On the second song At Vance even goes "commercial", with the mainstream semi-ballad "Heaven", a song with a rather superficial catchy chorus, which makes it almost perfect for some serious radio airplay!

The first real good song is the power metal ballad "Chained", a very bombastic song with great vocals by Mats and a super slide guitar solo, reminding me of Rainbow and Deep Purple, by mister At Vance: Olaf Lenk. "Run/Leave" is a rather boring hard rock track that makes me think of the good old MSG. The second highlight of the album is again a power ballad, filled with Rainbow/Deep Purple riffs and melodies and again a Malmsteen-like guitar solo. The two instrumental tracks "Invention#13"(semi-classical) and the winter part of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" are little guitar orgies by Olaf Lenk and could be "stolen" from early Malmsteen-albums, although I kind of like these two tracks, actually.... All in all, not the album I expected, I think that "The Evil In You" had more great songs and showed more potential than this one. Of course there will also be a lot of people who will disagree with me there. Of course "Chained" is not a bad album, far fr! om that, but I truly expected more by Olaf and his gang.

Rhapsody "The Magic of the Wizard’s Dream" 7

SPV Records 2005
Review by Martien Koolen,
6 április 2005

“Symphony of Enchanted Lands part 2 was one of my favorite albums of 2004 and many fans had chosen the song “The Magic of the Wizard’s Dream” as the best one ever by the band; not me by the way….

Now the fans can enjoy this track 3 times!! On this mini-album. The first version is sung in English by Fabio it features Christopher Lee on vocals as well. The second version is in Italian and also features Mr. Lee on vocals, finally the third version is the regular album version. I really like this song, but three times is a bit of overkill, guys!!

Furthermore on this CD you’ll find a previously unrecorded track called “Lo Specchio D’Argento” and “Th Last Angels Call”, which is ofcourse taken from “The Dark Secret”. Conclusion: only meant for Rhapsody die-hard fans!!

ROB ROCK: "Holy Hell" 6

AFM Records 2005
Review by Martien Koolen,
6 április 2005

I still have the famous M.A.R.S. Project Driver album as LP, and that is the album where I first heard the voice of Rob Rock on… That LP is still a true metal classic, with Rock on vocals, MacAlpine on guitar, Rudy Sarzo on bass and Tommy Aldridge on drums. Later on Rob went to the band of guitar picker Chris Impellitteri of which I only remember one good album, namely: “Eye Of The Hurricane”. Rob also sang for bands like Axel Rudi Pell and Joshua before he started his solo career.

His first two solo albums, “Rage Of Creation”(2000) and “Eyes Of Eternity”(2003) did not really impress me, although Rob’s voice was still powerful as ever. His third solo album, which is his first with AFM Records is again a metal/rock album with great vocal parts on it, but it is just like Rob’s songwriting ideas have been stuck in the eighties.

The album features nine typical metal/heavy rock tracks, all built around the same, familiar guitar riffs and cliche melodies, like I have already heard so many times before. Right from the opener “Slayer Of Souls” I got this deja-vu feeling; where have I heard that melody before and that guitar solo sounds so familiar, or am I getting mental here??? Just listen to the heavy, fast battle hymn “Holy Hell”, and maybe you will understand what I mean. Song titles like “Calling Angels”, “I’m A Warrior”, “When The Darkness Reigns” or “The Revelation” are also not very original, just like the lyrics which are as cliche as can be. Fortunately Rob still sings like a young metal god, especially in the power metal track “Lion Of Judah”, which makes that one the highlight of this rather meager rock album. So, you could say that Rob’s throat takes the music on “Holy Hell” to an acceptable level, but that’s all, folks!!

TALISMAN: "World's Best Kept Secret[DVD]" 9

Frontiers 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
19 Mars 2005

"World's Best Kept Secret" - The world's most essential Talisman item now available to the home of each and every hardrock fan. Forget about adding yet another edition of the reissued Talisman CD's to your collection and simply get yourself a piece of real documentary instead. It's difficult to find anything more important to get from the melodic hardrock scene at the moment as this double DVD package will certainly please 'em all. The two former Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force members, vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (Eyes, Takara, Axel Rudi Pell, Human Clay etc) and bassist Marcel Jacob (Force, Human Clay, etc), will guide you down the memory lane in a fantastic trip of the 15-16 years of Talisman history.

DVD #1 - Two entire live gigs!!! first you'll get the "Live At Club Mondo" show from Stockholm /Sweden, August 2003. The sound is kinda raw-ish, definitely honest, and most certainly in-your-face energetic rock with a massive groove and superb musicians. The addition of a second guitarist (Howie Simon) adds a new dimension to the classic Talisman material. You'll also get the occasional bass, drum, and guitar solo here as they were not limited by time, like the following gig on this DVD. The Sweden Rock Festival performance is kinda annoying at times as you'll end up front stage left, (right from the eyes of the audience), behind some weirdo waving a flag or something. Not a biggie as it's not a common sight and you'll have lots of other camera angles... but still, get the f**k outta my sight, dude. Bonus features are multi-angle concert videos of "Mysterious" "If You Would Only Be My Friend" and "Outta My Way". Not to mention lyric subtitles for the entire "Mondo" concert, get ready to sing-a-long with the uncensored words of Talisman.

DVD #2 - Retrospect - The Movie - including all the videos, discography, stories, and even more live recordings from a various period of time (1993-2003). There's everything from a gloomy Marcel Jacob meeting up with Soto & Simon at the Stockholm airport to the usual backstage talk and other fun and essential stuff for the Talisman fan. The classic "I'll Be Waiting" video where a big-hair fluffy J.S.S. ends up behind the drum-kit? and air-drummer Jake Samuels (ex-Yale Bate) upfront as lead guitarist (Peter Hermansson of 220 Volt fame played drums on the album). The smooth music of "Just Between Us" with Jason Bieler of Saigon Kick as air-guitarist and a shred video of Fredrik Åkesson and Howie Simon going at each others throats with picks, licks, and strings. OK, it's kind of boring to watch Marre's bass-lines in slow-motion (zzz!) and I miss some real, honest, upfront, interviews as well (with an aggressive shoot-from-the-hip interviewer). Otherwise... not a single complaint actually. Essential stuff and a great 2-DVD value release for the Talisman/Soto fan.

TALISMAN: "Five Men Live" ?

Frontiers 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
21 Mars 2005

I'm afraid I succeeded with the major mistake of watching the DVD's before I played the CD's. Not my brightest moment perhaps as you can't really expect anyone to seriously believe that "Five Men Live" is just as good as the excellent DVD release -"World's Best Kept Secret". In fact, what's the point with releasing live albums (CD's) in the year of 2005??? Perhaps something to seriously discuss at the next meeting: live albums = past? live dvd's = future?

Wouldn't we all be better off if our favourite rock acts would simply release a live DVD's anyhow??? Hell yeah!!! That's what a live experience is all about really and it's definitely the second best to actually being a part of the audience. "Five Men Live" is the 2-CD audio version of "Live At Club Mondo" and "Live At Sweden Rock Festival 2003" (both featured on the DVD) and I guess you can't go wrong here if you're into Talisman and live CD's. I can honestly say that I'll probably never play these CD's again... what's the point? I'll simply watch the freakin' great DVD "World's Best Kept Secret" all over again instead [see DVD review for more info].

NOVAK: "Forever Endavour" 9

MTM 2005
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
21 March 2005

What a pleasant surprise from Andreas Novak and Daniel Flores (Mind's Eye)! With their musical background I expected something more progressive but this one is straightforward melodic rock carved from the best woods of Sweden. Catchy hooks and clear arrangements are characteristic for the album reminding me of a few recent acts from that part of the world like T'Bell or Kharma.

The opening "Nowhere to Run" sets the pace, a melodic rocker with a memorable refrain, great production, and clear, soulful vocals by Andreas. The album follows with one of its highlights "How Does It Feel", an extremely melodic midtempo number with thick backing vocals and great guitar-work. The next two tracks carry on in the same fashion till we get to the first ballad, a duet with Martina Edoff (according to the bio a well-known Swedish singer, personally I have never heard of her). She does a decent job, however the song has that distinct Eurovision Song Contest smell all over it which is not that much of a surprise after all as Andreas participated in the Swedish version of the Fame Factory tv show. The song is blessed with a thick syn-string arrangement and lyrically features every possible love-song cliché yet it's carried out in splendid fashion so I personally don't mind the too obvious intentions.

"By Your Side" has some modern touches guitar- sound and arrangement-wise yet it's another cool melodic number while "Extreme Fakeover" breaks out of the cliché rock lyrics. It is a sarcastic criticism of beauty-surgery reality tv shows (if I got the message of the weird lyrics right); whatever it is the song is a decent one. Some well-written songs and another Eurovision contender wannabe follow but all in all the balance of up-, midtempo, and ballads is healthy and we get a well-produced, professional album for our money. There are numerous guest appearances on bass and on guitar solos (everything else was done by the two guys), probably Tommy "I'm guested on every other album for a solo" Denander (of Radioactive fame) is the best known from all of them. See the website of the label for more info on the guests and also for the availability of the album. Fans of melodies can't go wrong with it.

HEADRUSH: "Headrush" 8

Frontiers 2005
Review by Satu Reunanen
24 March 2005

What a month of March it is for Labyrinth fans ! It’s a time of celebration, as both Headrush and Labyrinth have releases out. Roberto Tiranti (formerly known as Rob Tyrant in Labyrinth) sings in Headrush, Italian, ex-Dokken guitarist and whatnot multi-talent-man Alex De Rosso’s band and Labyrinth also released their ”Freeman” this month, which has been getting good reviews. Haven’t heard the album yet, but Headrush is pleasing my appetite in the meantime.

They’re not exactly the copy of Labyrinth, but since Tiranti’s vocals are unique, you easily could pass this as different kind of release from them, with more straight and slower approach to melodic heavy metal. The melodies are as dreamy as in Labyrinth, but the songs are more leaner and not as catchy. The guitar with grunge rhythms and progressive influences brings more power to the album, giving more edge to it and levels the listening experience nicely, it otherwise would’ve been too smooth and even boring.

But it’s not a total excitement all the way through either. As I said, it’s a lean album where climaxes happen occasionally. Songs like ”My World”, ”Not Just Anyone” and ”All In A Crime” rock nicely in Dokken-style, but the most efficient is the power ballad, Labyrinth-like ”Silence”. Tiranti’s vocals always work for me, so even when the songs get a bit too ordinary here, they give wings for them. The band, also with Mauro Castellani on bass and Dave Fini on drums, sounds very powerful and have made a good debut to continue from, but here’s hoping in the future they will be even more powerful and catchier. This don’t rock your world upside down, but gets you on a good mood.
Alex De Rosso

LEGS DIAMOND: "Out On Bail" 7

Aor Heaven 2005
Review by Satu Reunanen
24 March 2005

With todays cd re-release markets you have to wonder why some of the cd’s get another chance. Legs Diamond, the mixture between the likes of those sleez rockers Killer Dwarfs / Tigertailz / Dangerous Toys, is one of those mysteries. ”Out On Bail” was first released in 1984 and sadly the music is outdated, the eighties sound all over.

Not only the songs sound old, but the album lacks bass and the synthesized drums hardly work for hard rock. I decided to add more bass and dang ! Legs Diamond is actually much better than I remembered, even when carrying the eighties sound. They’ve actually always had classy material, eventhough I still don’t get inspired from their name. ”Out On Bail”, ”Fugitive”, ”Walkaway”, ”Nobody’s Fool” (not the Cinderella tune) and ”One Way Ticket” are the best moments. The re-release has three unreleased bonus tracks, a blues jammin’ Golden Earring’s ”Radar Love”-like ”Radio”, another jammin’ track ”Hey Texas” and ”One Last Kiss”. All of these show better production and sound more like todays material, though the melancholic ”One Last Kiss” takes feeling from the seventies, Legs Diamond being a seventies band after all, and even influence somewhere unexpected like Hawkwind.

With a whole bunch of spins with ”Bail”, it slowly starts growing on you. When you start digging the high-pitched, raw, yet sometimes warm and smooth vocals of Rick Sanford, who’s a mix between Mark Slaughter, Fastway’s Dave King and Jason McMaster, you get more deeper into what their hard rock is about. They’ve got the hooks and the melodies, too bad the production is so thin though, it’s a turn-off in the ranks of those Phenomena albums, great stuff but...Less points from that side, but a good buy for a true eighties hard rocker. Nevermind the bands name, which by the way was taken from a famous gangster who survived at least 17 bullets during his career between 1919-1931.
Legs Diamond

HELLFIRE: "Requiem For My Bride" 8

Sonic Age 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
20 Mars 2005

Have you been listening to any metal from Poland lately? Nah, I didn't think so... here's however something to add to your check list. Hellfire was formed in Warsaw, Poland, back in 1999. They recorded the first independent CD "Recoffination" in 2003 and received only positive feedback from Polish and foreign press. I totally understand why Sonic Age Records decided to publish their brand new CD.

"Requiem For My Bride" is a concept story in the grand tradition of King Diamond and his "Them" or "Abigail" work. The music on the other hand is closer to the work of Blind Guardian (at their most "metal" moment) with the guitar riffing and heaviness of Annihilator and various Thrash bands. Vocalist Tomasz Twardowski comes through like a distant cousin of Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian), and it's all very tight and excellent performed Power/Thrash metal actually.

Hellfire delivers some seriously crunchy music that threatens to destroy you and then surprises you by actually coming pretty close to complete and total succees. They have nailed that groove thang and chum through an impressive nine tracks of Power Thrash. The guitarwork by Kuba Olejnik and Artur Grabowski makes you wanna sit up and pay some extra attention throughout the entire album as they're going through some seriously complex riffing and flashy solos. Kudos for staying true to the "80's" sound and not drifting away into the obscurity of modern technology. The short intro of "Fallen Mary" quickly becomes the "Road To Hell", where Hellfire combines the past work of Annihilator and Blind Guardian to perfection. It's all very metal, very aggressive, yet with a melodic melody and a refrain 'ala Blind Guardian/King Diamond. Perhaps they still lack the ability of translating all their passion into a devine musical form at times. But I'll have to say that Hellfire's technical metal is a major surprise in the end.

SWITHCBLADE: "Switchblade Serenade" 7

Perris Records 2005
Review by Petri Kautto 19 March 2005

It doesn’t get a lot more sleazier than Switchblade I can tell you that much. The sound of these Danish rockers smells like smoky biker bars and feels dirty and gritty. This is a typical album for the genre and eventually I ended up giving this more spins than usual.

The sole reason for those extra spins was the lead singer Ken Anthony. I wanted to see if his voice would get better with more listening but unfortunately it didn’t. He has a lot of trouble holding a note and his pronunciation combined with his lack of vocal range is hard to disregard even if you happened to like the rest of the song. Musically they can deliver the basic riffs and I thought that the lead guitar was way above average. I really enjoyed most of the solos though some of them were prolonged too much.

I am a big fan of sleaze rock and even though some things annoyed me quite a bit on this album there were many elements that also pleased me. I would like to hear Thomas Lock’s guitar also in the future and I thought that the joy of playing rock music conveyed from their music. Still I wouldn’t recommend this to others than total sleaze rock enthusiast.

OVERLORD: "Perpetual" 6

Sonic Age 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
19 Mars 2005

Overlord is a brand new guitar hero in the neo-classical metal genre. You know, one of those highly technical as well as speedy guitarists in the style of Sweden's Yngwie Malmsteen. There's no doubt about either, Yngwie has been a great inspiration to the 20 year old 'Overlord' from Athen, Greece. It's yet another "fender-bender" with round glasses and a similar look to his old guitar hero. And what do you know, all compostions, lyrics, arrangements, and production, are all the work of the Greek guitarist.

The Overlord loves to shred obviously, but like Malmsteen he knows most of us like a nice tune to remember. Credit must also go out to vocalist Axiotis as he reminds me both of Artension's as well as Firewind's frontperson. There's no real danger of a weird accent either as his singing style is very "American" and clean of all that foreign crap (hey! wait a minute). A very positive surprise indeed!!!

Pretty strong song structure and melody is combined with technical workouts which work as part of the whole rather than being just padding. Seven of the nine tracks included are all blessed with vocals by the way. The two instrumetals are very impressive however and obviously done in the style of Malmsteen, "Empire Of Shadows" is a personal favourite with outstanding guitarwork. Tracks like "I Can't Wait" and the following "I'll Never Cry Again" could as easily have been the work of Artension or Crimson Glory in the past. Downers? Well, it's not the most original work of lately and you'll easily get tired of all that wiggle-wiggle guitarwork in the end. On the other hand, that's what neo-classical music is all about really. A nice and safe pick-up if you enjoy your old Artension, Malmsteen, and Crimson Glory albums.

STEVE HACKETT: "Metamorpheus"

Inside Out Records 2005
Review by Martien Koolen,
24 March 2005

Steve Hackett is ofcourse “famous” for leaving his guitar mark on the music of six studio albums by the early progressive rock icons Genesis. Since then he defined his style as a guitar player and nowadays his rock side is completely vanished. He now distinguishes himself as a composer for classical guitar and his new solo album “Metamorpheus” for acoustic guitar and chamber orchestra is his fifth work in that genre.

In 1983 Steve Hackett entered that genre for the first time with an album called “Bay Of Kings”, followed by “Momentum”, featuring pieces for classical guitar, five years later. His biggest classical success he gained with the album “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”(1997), which included compositions for orchestra and classical guitar. This cooperation with a real orchestra made such a deep impression on Steve that he “used” an orchestra on his new record again.

A classic and romantic game of questions and answers between guitar and orchestra tells the story of the transformation of Orpheus and Eurydice’s love. The music is very quiet, passionate, melancholic, dreamy and most of all dramatic and it has absolutely nothing to do with rock whatsoever. Nevertheless I kind of like it, as I am also a fan of classical music, especially dramatic and long operas, like all the brilliant Richard Wagner stuff! Maybe nothing for Rockunited readers, but people who like to broaden their musical mind should check it out.

MANIGANCE: "Memoires live" 5

Replica Records 2005
Review by Martien Koolen,
24 March 2005

Last year I heard this French metal band at the Rock Inc. Festival in Weert and I was not really amused… The thing that bothered me most was that the vocalist was singing in French!! The music that these guys make is not even that bad, but the fact that you have to listen to French lyrics for more than an hour on this live CD makes me feel very uncomfortable.

Eleven out of the thirteen songs on this album are fast power metal tracks with those typical happy metal riffs and solos that also can be heard by lots of German metal bands. The guitar solos on this CD are not too bad, although the two guitar players Ratnos and Merle tend to believe that speed is more important than melody! “Maudit” is a mid tempo, neo-classical power ballad and “La Mort Dans L’Ame” is a cliché power ballad where the voice of singer Oldier Oelsdur gets on my bloody nerves; his throat is much too nasal and monotonous. “Solo De Batterie” is a short, but superfluous drum solo and the best song on this album is without any doubt “Comme Une Ombre”, especially the guitar solos there are excellent.

Maybe if these guys would decide to sing in English then I would give them a small change to be a bit successful; now they probably will be very famous in France only………..

STARBREAKER: "Starbreaker" 9

Frontiers 2005
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
17 March 2005

Now here's an album that will find its' way to many best of-lists this year! Starbreaker features guitarist Magnus Karlsson (Last Tribe), vocalist Tony Harnell (TNT, Westworld), bassist/producer Fabrizio Grossi and drummer John MacAluso (The Ark, Riot, TNT), but curiously the band doesn't sound much like Last Tribe or TNT. Nor does it sound like any of the recent AOR projects masterminded by Grossi. The songwriting and the production is quite contemporary, and many of these songs would sit nicely next to Nightwish and Within Temptation on a radio playlist. Mind you, they'd sit just as nicely next to Iron Maiden...and wouldn't it be nice if one of these bands on these smaller labels would actually get a song to the playlists?

As I said before, this album is clearly one of the best 2005 releases so far, but the funny thing is that I doubt whether any of the songs will be in my top 20 favourite songs-list. This is very much a complete album, instead of a collection of songs. Don't get me wrong, there are several very good songs, like "Die For You", "Lies", "Days Of Confusion" and "Save Yourself", but the real strength of the album is in its' "no fillers" approach. You can easily listen to it from start to finish without feeling like you need to reach the skip button in your remote...well, I must admit that I do tend to skip one track, the instrumental widdlyfest "Dragonfly" which sticks out like a sore thumb, but otherwise its' all good!

It's quite an achievement to step out of the shadow of TNT, especially with the band's very distinctive vocalist as a frontman, but Starbreaker has done that. A lot of credit goes to songwriteres Karlsson & Harnell, who have penned some excellent heavy rock numbers with their own identity.

I must mention the artwork - it's something you wouldn't expect from Frontiers...looks very good!

KIKO LOUREIRO: "No Gravity" 9

Replica Records 2005
Review by Martien Koolen,
18 március 2005

Kiko Loureiro is of course the guitar picker of the famous Brazilian rockers Angra, and what a guitar player he is!! I never knew that he could match guys like Friedman, Becker, Moore and even Satriani or Vai at certain moments; I could not believe my ears. The first two tracks “Enferno” and “Endangered Species” are played at dazzling speed and are songs that could break your neck if you are into headbanging that is…..

“Escaping” features a Joe Satriani-like guitar melody, pumping, fast, but of course very melodic; the first song that really took my breath away. This masterpiece is followed by the title track of this CD, which has a rather slower pace and features a Steve Vai-like melody, which gives me goosebumps all over every time I listen to it. The longest song on the album “ Pau de Arara”(7 minutes) starts with an acoustic intro, before it turns into a speedy song which reminds me of other fast guitar players like for instance Marty Friedman (in his “old” days) and Tony Fredianelli.

If you like your intrumenytal music a bit more tranquil then you probably will enjoy “La Force de L’Ame”; which is filled with acoustic guitar parts, piano and an amazing melodic guitar solo. “Tapping Into My Dark Tranquility” has some funky, jazzy and Latin influences, while “Moment Of Truth” is again fast with a heavenly melody and a howling solo. The real resting point on this album is “Beautiful Language” where Kino only plays the acoustic guitar. “In A Gentle Way” and “Feliz Desilusao” are ballad-like tracks full of outstanding riffs, melodies and solos. This really is food for guitar lovers and I must say that I really dig this album, what a guitar picker this Kiko is, awesome, amazing, check it out for yourself. Buy or die!!!

FINAL FRONTIER: "High Tension Wire" 7

Frontiers 2005
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
17 March 2005

Final Frontier's last album "The Second Wave" was a big favourite among the RockUnited staff, but I am not sure whether this one will fare as well. The musical style hasn't changed, it's still unashamedly retro AOR, and the guys are still capable of writing great AOR tunes...there just aren't that many of them here.

Let's look into the good things first: "The Beauty And The Beast" is most certainly one of the best tracks I've heard from Final Frontier, pure AOR bliss from start to finish, topped with one of the most appealing choruses I've heard this year. This track alone gets the band an extra point! None of the other tracks really reaches the same level, although "Hollywood Drama", "Listen To Your Heart" and "Sunset At Dawn" are all very good as well.

Then the not so good things...a few of the tracks sound a bit too much like second-rate Journey tracks - "Hearts Of Fire" is one, like a poor man's "Stone In Love" without the charm of the original. Another one to blame is "Who's Going To Love Tou Now", which reminds me a lot of the earlier Journey stuff, "Lovin' Touchin' and Squeezin'"-type of songs...still, I could live with a couple of tracks like that, but I must question the vocal production. Rob Moratti's high pitched vocals aren't certainly for everybody's taste, but with the weird production style they're even less intolerable. I may not be an expert of Pro-Tools or anything like that, but it still sounds like there's a lot of tweaking goin' on. At worst the poor guy sounds like a computer-generated robot, and I think it's totally unnecessary. If I'm off the mark and the vocals are totally live, I have to hand it to Moratti - his vocal style is truly unique! Anyway, effected or not, I'd like to hear Moratti's lower range a lot more, I think that he's at his best when he doesn't do that mickeymouse thing.

Official website

220 VOLT: "Made In Jamtland" 6

SwedMetal 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
12 Mars 2005

The first thing you'll notice about this live CD is the close to total lack of classic 220 Volt songs. The returning Swedes of the 80's has managed to ignore many of their fans with "Made In Jämtland". Where are all the goodies such as "Lorraine", "High Heels", "It's Nice To Be King" etc???, and merely one track ("I'm On Fire") from their best album "Eye To Eye". Hmmm... instead you'll get the semi dodgy work of "Don't Come My Way", "The End Of The World", "On Top Of The World" and "Child Of The Night", which all happens to be 220 Volt at their worst in my opinion.

I'm not sure if "Sauron" and "Prisoner Of War" should be among their best work either, even though I know that many find their first '7 from 1982 to be classic stuff. It's more in the vein of early NWOBHM than fun Scandinavian rock and it's not all bad I guess. In fact, "Prisoner Of War" is a really fine tune in reality and you can hear a similar approach to music as to the debut album from fellow Swedes, Europe. You'll at least get the smashing live rock of "Firefall", Powergames", and "Heavy Christmas", along with a soundcheck version of "Mind Over Muscle". Still, the tracklisting is a disappointment in my eyes, ears.

New vocalist Christer Nääs isn't exactly the most impressive hardrock singer of lately. Not that you can blame him for being crappy either, but I would rather have seen Joakim Lundholm behind the mike again. The production is okay I guess and the audience shouts a-long with the songs every now and then. The big question would rather be, why release a live album when you have a lot of new and old material on the backburner, just waiting to be released???

LIESEGANG/WHITE: "Visual Suveillance Of Extremities" 6

Escape 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
12 Mars 2005

The new CD by the multi-talanted Bill Liesegang (guitars, bass, keys, producer) is a hardrock affair in the tradition of Black Sabbath and Rainbow. The latter is mainly due to the vocals of Doogie White (ex-Rainbow, Cornerstone) of course, but the entire album has been created in the spirit of the two U.K. legends. Add to this the mixing and mastering by producer Tommy Hansen (Helloween, Pretty Maids, etc), and you know that you'll end up with a solid performance.

You certainly need to spin this several times before some of the material begins to kick however. There's no such thing as an instant rush present and I for one miss a couple of real catchy hooks. On the positive side, the album is quite varied, and there's no real danger of getting bored by the same old three-chords-and-a-metal-pose number. Opening track "A Prayer For The Dying" sound a lot like something of the Dio fronted Black Sabbath mixed with a slight touch of Rainbow. All keyboards on this record is the work of Harlan Cage's Roger Scott Craig and it simply oozes of 70's hardrock and long gone days. "Snake Eyes" is a marvelous uptempo number in the tradition of Rainbow during the very early 80's (Difficult To Cure) with some smashing Blackmore-ish guitarwork by Liesegang. This is very much good time music that obviously have a lot in common with Doogie's Cornerstone project as well.

"Last Temptation" is dark as the blackest night with its scary approach in the style of Ozzy goes Manson. The enchanting words of "my father will save me, my life's supposed to mean something" is constantly being repeated and it's all very... ehem... different, but still quite good. "Worlds Collide" is a typical ballad in the style of 70's Deep Purple with again the impressive notes by Liesegang. "New Addiction" has a really cool verse followed by a really crappy refrain. All that glitters ain't gold and I wouldn't rank this as highly as the latest Cornerstone album for example. It's okay, solid, but it lacks a couple of strong numbers to become really great.

UNCHAIN: "Unchain" 5

Metal Heaven 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
14 Mars 2005

"Never Unchain The Night, Don't Tell Me That The Love Is Gone" (Dokken/1985). Twenty years down the road and the Swiss rockers of Unchain are trying to recreate what others have done to perfection. It's Dokken, AC/DC, Krokus, and Gotthard rock with lots of guitars and one helluva attitude. You'll probably find one of these sound-a-like acts in your local pub at this very moment. Where they are desperately trying to be heard through a noisy and very drunken audience...

Unchain has been touring all over Switzerland (after-ski?) under the name of 'Mines', where they've enstablished themselves as one of the hottest live acts (after-ski?). They even won the rock contest at the Schuetzenhouse venue in 2004 as well as being the supporting act to bands such as Krokus, Shakra, and Uriah Heep. Hey!!! a couple of beers and this band would probably go down very well with the live audience. It's rock music that works the best after-ski and after-beer anyhow.

Not that you can trash Unchain for being a crappy rock act. Not at all! It's only that you've heard these riffs and melodies a thousand times before already. In fact, the entire CD is like a big deja vu experience. Again, I would be the first in line to headbang along to their music after a couple of beers at the ski-hut. That however doesn't mean I would rush out and buy their CD afterwards. If you're ever in Switzerland, check out his live act, and if you simply can't get enough of the AC/DC, Krokus, Gotthard, styled hardrock, do buy this CD as well. I really enjoyed that "Save Me" song in all honesty and the guitars are definitely loud'n crunchy.


* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 6-10/05 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 6-10/05 * * * * *
James LaBrie, Evergrey, Shirleys Temple, Dynamic Lights, Darren Smith Band, Steve Vai, Artension, Freedom Call, Dio, Honeymoon Suite, Mike Terrana, Strikelight, Inner Visions, The Sweet, Judas Priest, Circle2Circle, Kelly Keeling, Miles Above, Dark Sky, John Norum, Domain, Nerved, Silence, Hearbreak Radio, Sanity, Kurt Nielsen, Kamelot, Joe Lynn Turner, Umphrey's McGee, Nightrage, Thunder, Mirador, Calvin Russell Band, Masquerade, Resurrection Band, My Sixth Shadow, Cloudscape, King's X, Apocalyptica, Ivanhoe, Spock's Beard, Kaminari, The 69 Eyes, Walter Trout, Impaled.


* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 1-5/05 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 1-5/05 * * * * *
Kino, Extol, Divine Fire, Sandalinas, Seven Wishes, Impellitteri, Audiovision, Crossbow, Fozzy, Glenn Hughes, RPWL, Arena, Erika, Joop Wolters, Veni Domine, Gun Shy, Peo, Soilwork, Infinity's Call, Heartcry, Ritchie Kotzen, Tishamingo, Crash Diet, Feiled, Communic, Unhained, Martin Barre, Astral Doors, Rhapsody Sweden, Tristania, Wisdom, Terry Bozzio, Shy, Blind Date, Kreator, Firewind, Enuff Z'Nuff, Stuart Smith, Broken Teeth, Adrian Legg, Chariot, Waysted, Last Autumn's Dream, Cherry St., Greenhouze, Ironhorse, Tommy Funderburk, Martie Peters Group, Shiva, Novecento, Smeer, M.ill.ion.


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