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

KINO: "Picture" 9

Inside Out 2005
Review by Martien Koolen,
3 February 2005

This year promises to become a great musical year, as in the first month we already had great releases such as Arena, Masterplan, Spock’s Beard and RPWL. Now Inside Out comes up with another great band called KINO. This quartet consists of John Mitchell (guitar player of Arena and his own band The Urbane), Pete Trewavas (bass player of Marillion and Transatlantic), John Beck (keyboard player of It Bites) and Chris Maitland (the ex-drummer of Porcupine Tree). In other words KINO is a super group that makes sophisticated rock music combined with progressive rock elements.

If you listen to “Picture” you will most likely listen to it once again and again, because some of the melodies and choruses will stick into your mind forever. “Letting Go” is such a song with beautiful melodies mixed with dreamy and amazing vocals. This song kind of reminds me of bands like Asia and UK. Furthermore on the album there are touches of Queen, Yes, Genesis, The Beatles and Marillion. The opener “Losers Day Parade” (clocking just over 9 minutes) is the masterpiece of this album, mainly because of the original musical ideas and the fantastic guitar solos and keyboard melodies.

Other highlights are “People” – a song with an almost Porcupine Tree guitar riff and a sparkling guitar solo -, “Perfect Tense” – reminds me of Marbles; a catchy mainstream song with great harmony vocals – and “Holding On”, an amazing semi-ballad where Mitchell’s voice floats beautifully over the smooth guitar melodies and where the guitar solos are really hot and smoking. The album ends with a true piano ballad and then you are ready for another spin of KINO’s first masterpiece; a true addition for the enigmatic landscape of elevated rock music, where innovation and nostalgia are stimulating themselves mutually. Do not miss this album as I am already hooked on songs like “Telling Me To Tell You” and “Holding On”.

EXTOL: "Blueprint" 9

Century Media 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
1 February 2005

I tell you, it surely gets confusing when Extol mix the ordinary death growls with vocals in the style of pop rockers Rasmus or that Ville Valo person. It's like listening to a schizophrenic band with too many voices and ideas bouncing around inside of their head(s). I like it though, and it's one helluva lot better than the awful old school death/black metal they used to play in Norway (Extol hail from that church burning place, you know).

"Blueprint" is overall a superb mix of Norwegian power pop/rock, (the stuff you usually get at MTV's "Up North"), Death Metal, and Progressive Rock, as they're combining rhythm and melody with excellence. They've also been inspired by prog bands like Rush & King's X in the past, and you can still find a lot of that into the music of Extol. Especially the rhythm section goes through a massive amount of complex and overall impressive and progressive work. This contains the band's most diverse material yet and without a doubt their heaviest and most energetic sound. Don't be afraid to check this out if you're not normally into "growls" either, since that's only approx. 25-30% of the time, the rest of the disc contains clean, pop vocals of today.

"Pearl" is a absolutely marvelous pure pop tune, while "Soul Deprived" comes out sounding like Children Of Bodom (growls and all) goes Norwegian pop with a progressive twist. Holy Crap! I don't believe I've ever witnessed such vast variety and difference from one track to another and this simply continues throughout the CD. One thing's for sure, you need to be open minded about music in general to truly appriciate all the aspects of "Blueprint". Bottomline: I'll try with the easiest way out to describe the music from the "Blueprint" album, shall I??? Well... try with one third each of: Norwegian Pop of today, Children Of Bodom, and Rush, and there you kind of have it. It's really an awful mish-mash of genres... but it's all very enjoyable in the end. Not your ordinary death metal album and very close to a real masterpiece I may add. Excellent work! Now go and visit a shrink lads! Progressive death metal pop??? madness!!! pure madness!!!

DIVINEFIRE: "Glory Thy Name" 8

Rivel Records 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
31 January 2005

"Tempo furioso" - Bombastic, fantastic, with double-bass drumming not of this world. These guys like their metal fast, really fast, and the opening track instantly made me think of speed maniacs like Dragonforce. They're playing at the same kind of level and probably in the same league as well. However, Divinefire are a bit more theathrical as they mix speed with melodic metal and symphonic influences as well as more finess. They also sound quite similar to Masterplan and Rhapsody at times even if Divinefire are blessed with a way better vocalist than the latter act.

"Glory Thy Name" is their debut album with Christian Rivel as the vocalist once again (see Audiovision review). I must say that I definiteley prefer the music of Divinefire as they've really managed to create a throughout solid album with a true metal concept. The multi-talanted Jani Stefanovic (Renascent, Am I Blood & Sins Of Omission), handle everything from guitars/bass/drums to being the main songwriter. Rivel really shines on this record and I don't believe he's ever been this impressive in the past. The material fits him like a glove and he can really stretch out his vocal abilities here. Credit must also go out to Thomas Vikström (Talk Of The Town, Candlemass) for some outstanding background vocals (his father is a famous opera singer in Sweden, need I say more?). Guest vocalist Fredrik Sjöholm adds yet another flavour with classy performances on "The Sign" and "Live My Life For You".

Everything from material to the production of "Glory Thy Name" is very impressive and you'll discover something new to rave about for each time you spin it. "The World's On Fire" kicks off with some truly pompous keyboards and continues with a powerful refrain. "Never Surrender" with its over-the-top, opera like refrain, will have you thinking about Rhapsody. And "Play It Forward" is a very sentimental track with lovely vocal harmonies. "Live My Life For You" sounds exactly like Stryper on steroids, complete with a really catchy hook and/or sing-a-long chorus. The 10 minute long epic track "The Spirit", will have you sweating bullets as it's a emotional roller coaster ride out of ordinary. The lyrics are mostly inspired by John 14: 13-18 and there's power behind those words, you know. The creepy growler vocals in the background adds a scary approach over it all. What about downers? Well... "Out Of The Darkness" is a filler if ever, and total play time is approx. 42 minutes, the CD could have benefitted from yet another track or two in all honesty.

SEVEN WISHES: "Destination: Alive" 7

MTM Music 2005
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
28 January 2005

It's been a few years since we heard of these hard rocking Swedes. They released two albums on another label and pretty much disappeared from the scene, but now they're back with a new label, some new personell and a new album!

I have to admit that I'm not familiar with the two previous albums. I remember liking a song or two on some samplers, but that's about it. Anyway, on this album the band offers us solid hard rock with influences from Dokken, Queensrÿche and probably a lot of other bands of the eighties. They're marketed more as a very L.A.-styled band along the lines of Ratt, XYZ and the aforementioned Dokken, but I don't think that they have much in common with someone like Ratt - at times they're almost progressive, and that's not very "L.A."...

The one thing that might divide the hard rock fans into two camps is the vocalist Pelle Andersson. He has a good voice and a good range, but he tends to favour a "Dickinsonian" air raid siren style sometimes ("high and loud")'s never really been something that I enjoy listening to, and a few of the songs lose some points because of that.

Highlights of this album would have to be "Won't See Me Cry" (did this escape from "Operation:Mindcrime"?), the AOR-styled "Fortuneteller" and "All That I Wanted" and "Picked Up My Pieces". I have to mention "Goes Around Comes Around" too - it's a good track, but when I listened to for the first time, I was sure that the band had decided to cover Talisman's "Mysterious"! The actual song is quite different, but the first few seconds are very similar.

All in all, as my introduction to the band this wasn't too bad. If you liked last year's Human Temple Cd (also on MTM), you might like this one too.


Massacre 2005
Review by Jorge Antonaya,
3 February 2005

Some time ago, I got the chance to listen to a demo by a certain Barcelona based guitar player who had teamed with some Swedish singer to form a melodic metal band. Named after the man, Sandalinas caught my eye since it sounded to be quite in a hard rock mood, not so usual over here, in Spain. Well, a few days ago I received the final product, produced by no other than Andy LaRocque (King Diamond). The line up comprises of Jordi Sandalinas on guitars, Apollo Papathanasio on vocals, Daniel Moilanen on drums, Victor Casado on guitars and Fran Duarte on bass.

I have to say that, being as it is an overall good album with great guitar work and plenty of killer riffs, good vocals and a decent sound, in my opinion it lacks of catchy hooks and that ultra sticky song that glues in your head for days. Musically "Living on the edge" is somewhere between guitar driven hard rock and melodic metal, Rainbow meets Iron Maiden kinda thing, harder than the former, whilst mellower than the later. Tracks like the uptempo "The Conqueror" or "Back In Time" will draw inmediate attention of all metal heads out there, while the opener "Living On The Edge", "All Along The Everglades" presents us a more melodic approach, in an 80's US hard rock mood. There's even room for more modern sounds like in "The Ritual Of Truth" chorus of which reminds me a lot of Clawfinger. Specially remarkable here is the vocal performance of Apollo, who manages to do a very chameleonic job, changing style almost in every song, from AOR to Power Metal to Rap-ish and everything in between, and then the excellent guitar work of Jordi Sandalinas, who, I'd say, behaves on this album not as a guitar hero shredding all over the place, but as a fine band guitarist, fitting perfectly and giving each song exactly what it needs.

No doubt we have a bunch of talented and skilled musicians. I'm pretty sure if the chemistry keeps on, they'll be able to provide us with some great albums. This debut is not that great, as I said because there's no instant hits there, but nonetheless it is a good record you should check out if you are into guitar driven hard rock, or melodic metal.

IMPELLITTERI: "Pedal To The Metal" 7

SPV 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
2 February 2005

Whatever happended to the returning ex-Rainbow vocalist Graham Bonnet??? He's gone with the wind however and yet another front person take place at the round table of Impellitteri. It's the revolving door policy at large and I guess it's something all hardrock guitarists have in common (Tjena Yngwie!).

Curtis Skelton is the new singer and some of you may recall him from US nu-metal act Speak No Evil. Skelton's background will also reflect upon a couple of the tracks as "Pedal To The Metal" has a slighly heavier sound than recent albums. And to be honest, something like "Crushing Daze" is nothing 'but incredible boring metal with reused melodies and worn-out clichés from every nu-metal band of today. Don't let it scare you away though as far from everything is crap! You can still find a lot of goodies in the old tradition of Impellitteri and the guitarwork is filled with great riffs and flashy solos as always.

Funnily enough they're taking a crap at new trends and american idol music with the song "Punk". Oh yeah, Eminem and rap metal get their fair share as well... perhaps not the brightest of ideas as they're obviously entering nu-metal territories themselves with this CD. Not by much... but still... at least stick to your guns if you're going to "insult" all new and modern music. Did I mention that "Punk" is also a rather weak track and what about those wacky drum loops??? You can't take away the pure heavy metal bliss of tracks like "The Iceman Cometh", "Hurricane", "Destruction", and "The Writing's On The Wall", though. This could very well be some of Impellitteri's best work ever with massive drumming and guitars louder than hell. They have unfortunately decided to remove the semi ballad "Stay Tonight" from this very Euro release (it's included on the Japan version). Talk about disappointment as that's one of the better songs actually.
Impellitteri's offical fanclub

AUDIOVISION: "The Calling" 6

Rivel Records 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
31 January 2005

The Swedish hardrock label Rivel Records is the hard work of singer Christian Rivel of Narnia fame. Some of you may still remember him as Christian Liljegren though, also known as the frontfigure for early 90's acts as Modest Attraction and Borderline. Audiovision is a brand new all-star project fronted by Rivel together with the following line-up: guitarist Lars Chriss (Lion's Share), bassist Mikael Höglund (Thunder, Great King Rat), keyboardist Andreas Lindahl (Zool), and drummer Thomas Broman (Electric Boys, Glenn Hughes, Great King Rat).

Most of the music is the work of Chriss (Lion's Share) with Rivel as the sole provider of lyrics and words. This could surely mean that you'll get a lot of Lion's Share related stuff into the music of Audiovision. Yes and no actually, as there's bound to be some of Chriss' trademark writing into this, but you also get some metal in the style of Yngwie Malmsteen and Masterplan. For example, "Hold Me" is a great uptempo rocker 'ala vintage Yngwie Malmsteen with a touch of Masterplan. I'm however not entirely conviced by the quality of the material. It seems like I'am already familiar with some of the riffs and choruses from the past, and it's not too original performed metal after all. Eight new songs, a Sweet cover (Love Is Like Oxygen), and a short instrumental, tend to be a bit on the short side. Nontheless, I'm sure that many folks out there will still enjoy the music of Audiovision. It's all very cozy and safe pick-up for the average metal fan.

Add to this guest musicians such as: Jeff Scott Soto (Talisman, Yngwie Malmsteen), Tony Franklin (Blue Murder, Whitesnake & The Firm), Bruce Kulick (KISS & Grand Funk), Mic Michaeli (Europe) Mattias 'IA' Eklundh (Freak Kitchen, Fate), Mats Leven (Treat, Yngwie Malmsteen), Thomas Vikström (Talk Of The Town), and of course Tommy Denander (Radioactive), and you'll know that we're talking about a serious and dedicated project here.

CROSSBOW.: "Break the Ice" 5

Source Of Deluge Records 2005
Review by Petri Kautto 31 January 2005

Crossbow has been at it for about ten years now and after their previously released self-financed debut, Source of Deluge Records took them under their wings. "Break the Ice" is the first full length album from this power metal band.

The title track "Break the Ice" is definitely the strongest effort on this platter. On this song the band is able to come up with a catchy melody, nice bridge and a chorus that is rather enjoyable. Unfortunately they don’t do so well with the other tracks. You get a feeling that they are holding back and not really giving it a hundred per cent. That might sound like a weird thing to say since this is their first album with a record company, but the overall sound is feeble, the guitar solos are rarely catchy and the songs drag on quite often.

Even though most of the songs are quite moderate there are some hints of a better future. The title track "Break the Ice" is good as I mentioned and they are able to surprise positively on more than one occasion in some songs. But they fail to form entities of those pieces and this album has a half-finished feel to it. /

FOZZY: "All That Remains" 5

SPV 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
29 January 2005

Fozzy? I thought they were a something of a joke rather than serious hardrock musicians??? Especially after hearing that album filled with not-so-good cover versions of 80's metal songs the other year. Not to mention that Fozzy features World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) star Chris Jericho on lead vocals, and you all know why I thought of them as "fake" and major bozos (pretty much like the entire WWE circus - I know, they'd kick the crap outta me, if they could).

Thus why "All That Remains" comes down as a tiny but hardly earthshaking surprise nontheless. It's perhaps not a contender for the album of the year award, however, it's a pretty decent metal album, filled with monster riffs by guitarist Rich Ward (Stuck Mojo). They actually have this groove guitarwork going on here, much like Sweden's Freak Kitchen or indeed Zakk Wylde of Ozzy Osbourne fame. The latter makes a special guest appearance on the record, along with Marty Friedman (Megadeth) and Marc Tremonti (Alter Bridge, Creed). The music is tad more aggressive in a modern metal meets classic rock kind of way, and you'll end up with a mix of Megadeth, Linkin Park, and the latest Ozzy album (which I found rather weak by the way).

Jericho is a decent metal singer and the production is top-notch stuff. It may lack in originality and hooks as I still can't recall that many refrains. The guitarwork and groove will certainly attract your attention for a while, but in the end, you can find a lot more impressive material by several other metal acts at the moment. One of those albums that you can't slag or praise actually, but I'm afraid it will pass most by with a "so what" expression in their face.

GLENN HUGHES: "Soul Mover" 9

Frontiers Records 2005
Review by Martien Koolen,
27 January 2005

What a career this man has had so far, and it seems that Glenn is getting better the older he gets….just like wine. Just think about his great performances with bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, KLF, Hughes/Thrall and his excellent solo albums and you know why his nickname is : the voice of rock. His latest solo release “Songs In The Key Of Rock” got back to Glenn’s love of the sixties and seventies rock/funk. Last year he released his first DVD “Soulfully Live In The City Of Angels” and now he delivers a complete new album called “Soul Mover”.

The twelve tracks on the new album were recorded live in the studio and Glenn had musical assistance from Chad Smith(drums), JJ Marsh (guitars), Ed Roth (keys) and Dave Navarro (guitar). The result is amazing; this is probably one of Glenn’s best solo albums so far. “High Road” is a rather bluesy up-tempo song with great guitar riffs and the superb vocals of Glenn at top notch; as I said before, his voice gets better and better. The second highlight is “Let It Go”, it starts very easy with bass, vocals and keys, before it turns into a real power killer song, with a fantastic chorus and a truly wicked guitar solo.

In “Land Of The Livin’” Glenn astonishes me with some lovely screaming and again JJ Marsh steals the show with some mean guitar picking. “Don’t Let Me Bleed” is a typical power ballad song on which Glenn seems to have the monopoly, laid back, amazing vocals and speedy, but melodic guitar solos make this track one of the best I have ever heard from “The voice of rock”. I must say that this album is staggering and especially the vocals of Glenn are out of this world. A magnificent rock album, a highlight in the career of one of the best rock singers ever. Buy or die!!

RPWL: "World Through My Eyes" 9

InsideOut 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
23 January 2005

"World Through My Eyes" - It's almost like walking through a field of roses... you're bound to bump into a couple of thorns along the way, but most of the time, it's simply breathe taking and endlessly beautiful. It's the fourth studio album by the Germans of RPWL from the Bavarian city of Freising. It's also their best work so far and a clear winner in the progressive rock genre. You could however also say that RPWL stole it all from the 70's legends of: Pink Floyd (mostly), Genesis, and Supertramp. Yeah... sure, but it's all very classy and sophisticated performed and executed in the end.

It's extremly difficult to pick out any highlights as we're talking prog rock and the whole concept that goes along with that. And yes, many will find this utterly boring and beyond, I wouldn't exactly recommend it to someone who's only into "basic" metal or AOR either. However, you can't go wrong here if you enjoy dreamy, atmospheric, prog-rock with lots of spacey moments and think-worthy lyrics. Simply check out the marvelous keyboards by Yogi Lang during the Pink Floyd sounding epic song "3 Lights". "Everything Was Not Enough" has the expression of "future classic" written all over it (in a Pink Floyd-ish kind of way). "Roses" with guest vocalist Ray Wilson (wow!) will have any symphonic prog fan in ecstasy. And on "Sea Nature" the band mix together psychedelic and classic rock influences into a lovely stew. At the end there are swinging keyboard soli emerging as the ones Manfred Mann did back in his "Solar Fire" period (yeah, whatever). Not to forget the more than 10 minute long title track, even though you can take a coffee break during the first 3 minutes (due to some weird indian sound).

"World Through My Eyes" has, like all of our albums, a "leitmotif" (theme), explains singer and producer Yogi Lang. "In fact, the world depends on our ideals and moral concepts and so it finally depends on our mental development. But de facto the power of money is the measure for happiness and satisfaction for a long time now. We have replaced intuition with Mammon, with the terrible result that we are no longer in the centre, but something from outside rules us". It's very much "the-thinking-person's" music (or not... since I enjoy it too), and you really need to sit back and let it all sink in for a while. Recommended indeed!

ARENA: "Pepper’s Ghost" 9

Verglas 2005
Review by Martien Koolen,
27 January 2005

2005 indicates the tenth anniversary of one of the best progressive English rock bands of this moment: Arena. Especially albums like “The Visitor” and “Contagion” rank among my personal favorites of the band. Although vocalist Rob Sowden is not as good as his predecessor, who made “The Visitor” a very special album?

“Pepper’s Ghost” features “only” 7 songs, of which the epic one “Opera Fanatica”(13:07 minutes) is the absolute best. This track starts with two opera like voices, before the guitars and the keys come crashing in, making this song one of the best Arena songs I have heard in a long time. “Opera Fanatica” is bombastic, dramatic, filled with great musical themes and melodies and the guitar work, solos and melodies, are truly heavenly. This is Arena at it best, although the other six tracks are also great progressive rock songs.

Remarkable again is the fact that this album is more guitar-orientated and “ harder” than the last one; the main role on this album definitely belongs to guitar player John Mitchell. “Bedlam Fayre” opens this album with lots of fantastic guitar riffs and great solos of John. “Smoke And Mirrors” and “ The Eyes Of Lara Moon”, the two shortest tracks on the album, both start of as acoustic songs before they evolve into typical prog Arena songs with familiar melodies and heavenly guitar solos; songs that make you feel dreamy and longing for more….. “The Shattered Room” reminds me of bands like Pallas and Pendragon; a superb song filled with amazing melodies and again lots of instrumental highlights that could turn this one into a future live killer. Maybe the most beautiful and sensitive guitar solo can be heard in “Tantalus”, a rather dreamy song with dramatic singing and again a typical Arena melody. Well, they did it again, “Pepper’s Ghost” is another highlight of Arena’s career. Progressive rock music as I truly like it, need I say more???

ERIKA: "In The Arms Of A Stranger" 9

MTM Classix 2005
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
26 January 2005

Last year MTM re-issued the first Erika album, and now they're logically following it up with a re-issue of her second album "In The Arms Of A Stranger". Many things that I wrote about the first one could be said about this album as well: the production could've been more powerful, the songs are really pop tunes with a hard rock icing and Erika's not quite in the league of Robin Beck or Ann Wilson when it comes to vocals...but just like it was with the first album, I can't help but love this!

There's really not a single bad song on this one, and couple of these tracks are among my all-time favourites. "Games We Play", "In The Arms Of A Stranger" and "Shadows In Rain" are all AOR gems with irresistable hooks, and that's just to name a few. There are also two songs from super songsmith Jack Ponti, the hit single "Wake Me Up When The House Is On Fire" and "Danger In Disguise". "Wake Me Up" is a catchy, bouncy track but the chorus is kind of funny. "Danger" is very typical Ponti-material and could be just as well on either of the first two Baton Rouge albums.

This time the re-issue doesn't offer anything extra, and unfortunately the album cover is still the original...someone must have designed the cheapo, pop-styled artwork in less than three minutes. If one didn't know better, one would expect this to be an album from some Euro-dance artist.

Joop WOLTERS: "Speed, Traffic & Guitar Accidents" 8

Lion Music 2004
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
20 January 2005

Here's another relatively "unknown" instrumental guitarist from the Lion Music bunch and he is as good as all the others were. Someone at the label must have the right eyes (and ears) to spot all these guys and the courage to sign them. Though I have heard Joop's former contributions to tribute albums and a few Arabesque (his full-band) songs, it's the first full-length album I've heard from him, yet it's already his second (gotta get the first one as well, I guess).

Speed, Traffic & Guitar Accidents is a long yet entertaining album full of diversity and enthusiasm in music. Though Joop lists quite a few guitarists as his main influences including Vai, Michael Lee Firkins, and Yngwie among others, I find his music slightly more resembling to Steve Morse's especially that of his "Split Decision" album. Among Joop's various influences the most obvious ones are his progressive roots based in the music of bands like Rush or Marillion spiced up with a serious amount of jazzy patterns and a healthy dose of an aggressive guitar sound, uptempo riffing and speedy scaling. The result is a mixture that both progressive rock fans and instrumental guitar fans could appreciate even if some of the compositions are a little hard-to-get-into for the first listening and one needs time to digest them.

Being a sucker for melodies my personal favorites included the rather mellow but ultra-melodic "Lovers Lane", the equally beautiful "Canned Heart" which are sensible as a Satriani ballad yet tricky as any Steve Morse number, I also enjoyed the straightforward "A Day and This..." and the latino-flavored acoustic "Acoustimas". However fans of the more progressive approach will be delighted with tracks like the 8 minutes long "Begging for a Trip to the Stars" or with "The Crash" while jazz fans may get their treat as well. However if you prefer to stick to relatively "clean" melodies and songwriting like Satch or MacAlpine for instance, make sure to spin the album before buying to avoid any possible disappointment. For everybody else Joop Wolter is definitely recommended.


Rivel Records 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
24 January 2005

The high-pitched vocalist Fredrik Ohlsson is without a doubt one of the best metal singers to ever come out of Sweden. I can still recall hearing "Fall Babylon Fall" for the first time, thinking that Queensryche's Geoff Tate must have a long-lost brother in Sweden. Veni Domine is probably the most underrated metal act from Sweden as well, since they now have four albums of top quality in the progressive metal /doom genre. I must however say that I still prefer the first two albums, even if "IIII - The Album Of Labour" is far from being average.

I sencerely hope that you're already familiar with the band? If not, you've missed out some really fine albums during the years. It's bombastic, doomy, progressive metal, that falls under the same category as (vintage) Queensryche, Sacred Warrior, with a touch of Candlemass and Savatage. The basic song structure relies upon the remarkable and unforgettable vocals of Ohlsson. They couldn't have pulled it off with another and/or more ordinary singer, since he's all over the place with high-pitched screams.

It's epic metal with a massive production by Heavy Load's Torbjörn Weinesjö as usual. The lyrics are mostly inspired or directly printed from the book of revelation. The apocalyptic message blended with the signs of today, works out just fine with their music. Some of the tracks are however not as impressive as in the past (thus why I "only" gave it a 8 rating). It's a bit too much of "let's see how far we can take this", instead of being consistive and belting out a strong chorus somewhere down the road. We all know that Veni Domine are great musicians, but let's neither forget that simplicity truly is bliss at times. No real fan of vintage Queensryche (and I'm talking about the first EP and Rage For Order), with a doomy twist, can walk away from this planet without trying some Veni Domine first.

GUN SHY.: "After Dark" 8

Perris Records 2004
Review by Petri Kautto 20 January 2005

Another fine re-release from Perris Records for the 80’s hair rock/metal fans. This time it’s Gun Shy and their album "After Dark" is a pack full of tasty riffing party rock.

"Helluva Time" is the first song and it’s simple but catchy and the bass is quite dominant on it. "Mr. Lonely" is pretty similar to the opener but the backing vocals are stronger. "Cry in the Night" is a ballad and the guitar in the beginning catches your attention immediately. "Something Wicked This Way Comes" is a bit darker, heavier song where "Hold on to Yesterday" has a positive wibe in the vein of Poison or Warrant. “Don’t Go Away” is again a ballad. It’s not as strong as "Cry in the Night" but still a decent song. "Hard Life" has againg a basic riff that the song builds on, but it works. "Society" is a mid-tempo mix of lot of things, definitely not the best song of the album.

They’ve also thrown in a few live versions of the songs in the album which is a nice touch. There’s also a demo and a Black Sabbath cover N.I.B plus two additional tracks so when you add all those up you get 16 tracks. I could think of worst ways to spend my money. This is a good album to have if you’re into 80’s hair bands, otherwise you might wanna pass.

PEO: "Look What I've Started" 8 (re-issue)

MTM Classix 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
25 January 2005

There's a certain kind of aura consisting of summer breeze and sunny afternoons all over this CD. Indeed, it's happy-go-easy AOR from Sweden with Leviticus' vocalist Peo Pettersson (ex-Axia) at the centre of attention. "Look What I've Started" was recorded in 1990 and is a collaboration between Peo and Australian songwriter Rod West (Peo met him during a tour 'down under' with Leviticus in 1988).

This was originally released by Peo in 1995 and "Look What I've Started" has now been re-issued on MTM Classix with 5 unreleased bonus tracks and a brand new art cover. Mostly a good thing too as it's a very uplifting record with songs in the style of Stan Bush, Jeff Paris, Brett Walker, with a hint of Leviticus' more melodic side (Knights Of Heaven). It's very slick, US rock, with plenty of hooks and sharp nails. "Can't Bring Me Down" is one of those ballads that you can actually relate to and believe in for a change. And what a great singer Peo is... can't wait to hear the new Leviticus album later on. You want some pure AOR songs with catchy hooks? Look no further than "Endless Waiting" as it's blessed with one of those refrains that will stick with you through rain and storm. It's Jeff Paris rock with some lovely vocal harmonies and I believe it's Tony Niva (Lion's Share, Axia, Swedish Erotica, Niva) on backing vocals here.

"Doesn't Matter" is borderline westcoast /AOR with a similar sound to Brett Walker and the solo album by Thomas Vikström (Talk Of The Town). "Two Strong Arms" gets you in the heart everytime with it's charmy approach and big arena chorus. "Good Soul Companion" will have you thinking about Alien during their "Shifting Gear" era, while "Long Time No See" is another AOR winner with a catchy refrain. The five bonus tracks are all quite different from eachother as "Queen Of The Night" will have you thinking about Rainbow rather than AOR. "Calling Paradise" is a fine semi-ballad with some impressive harmonies. "Still Believe" flat out rocks and "I Must Be Dreaming" is another fine semi-ballad. Bottomline: perhaps not a "classix" album, but a darn good effort by a multi-talanted musician.

SOILWORK: "Stabbing The Drama" 8

Nuclear Blast 2005
Review by Martien Koolen,
27 January 2005

In the second half of last year, Soilwork started to work on new material, after they had released “Figure Number Five” in 2003. And if you already liked that album, like I did, then you will not be disappointed in “Stabbing The Drama”. Again on this album you could best describe the music of Soilwork as Pantera meets Soulfly meets Slayer meets Sepultura…..

So, again this album is filled with melodic “death” metal songs, extremely tight and dynamic, but with lots of melodic elements at the right place. Singer Bjorn “Speed” Strid is again the key element in the music of Soilwork, screaming at the top of his voice, giving the listener emotional and brutal attacks; just listen to the trashy title track and you will catch my drift. “One With The Flies” is a true ear catcher, fast, diverse and featuring a speedy guitar solo.

The pumping bass parts of Ole Fink make songs like “Weapon Of Vanity” and “The Crestfallen” even more brutal and heavy. This really is an album that should be played at maximum volume and at times when you are really angry or frustrated…. I am sure that it will give you an extreme kick in the butt and some of the songs will stay in your brain to the bitter end. Soilwork has never been better before, this is melodic metal at its best; catchy and striking, like a sharp hit in your f….. brain!


Rock Werk 2004
Review by Satu Reunanen
27 January 2005

Infinity’s Call is a very young German band, formed only in November 2001, but they’re bringing some great catchy metal to the scene with their first release ”Light In The Dark”. Ebby Paduch’s classically trained vocals remind hugely of Steve Grimmett (Grim Reaper / Lionsheart), having that ragged sound to them, hitting the high notes too. The band plays lean melodic metal and sounds confident enough to make everything click together perfectly.

The most catchiest tunes are ”Land Of Dreams” and ”Light In The Dark” with striking verses and ”Lights In The Rainbow”, the only slow song with a relaxed feeling to it. Playful rhythms backed with melodic metal, even aor, and enchanting atmosphere are just the right thing to listen to when you don’t need too heavy guitars, glass-shattering singers and frightening tempos. But then again this isn’t soft enough either to fall asleep to, it just mostly lacks the real edge to get you going on ten, but rocks plenty. It’s amazing how a German band has so gracefully captured the true british hard rock / aor feeling to the songs, sounding like the masters Magnum themselves at times. Great achievement and a good debut album to continue from.
Infinity’s Call

HEARTCRY: "Lightmaker" 5

Rivel Records 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
24 January 2005

The Swedish band Heartcry returns with a brand new album at Rivel Records. They've been around since the late 80's and the first album came out in 1990. Vocalist/guitarist Anders Johansson's first encounter with the metal business was however the band "Johannes", their first single saw the light of day already back in 1984. We're talking about experienced musicians here in other words and keyboardist Dan Tibell used to tickle the ivory & ebony with Jerusalem during the 80's.

The album "Lightmaker" is filled with heavy guitar playing and songs with a vibe strongly influenced by 70's classic hardrock and early 80's heavy metal. The hammond organ played by Tibell goes hand in hand with the music and there's a certian vibe of both Ken Hensley (Uriah Heep) & Jon Lord (Deep Purple) to be found here. Opening track "Battleground" explodes into this Rainbow goes heavy metal song with some classy guitarwork by Johansson. It's like listening to "Spotlight Kid" getting a turbo injection and major dose of Judas Priest and "Painkller". You'll notice how Blackmore has been a major inspiration for Johansson during the years throughout the entire CD.

I'm really fond of the straight and simple rock of "Burn Out" and "Get Ready", where a steady drum beat, a screamin hammond in the background, and a decent hook, was all it took to get me hooked. "Runaway Train" continues in the style of classic Priest, throw in some Leviticus during their "The Strongest Power" days, and you're even closer to the core. Not quite as heavy and you also get those typical Scandinavian melodies in the package deal. The title track is something out of the ordinary as it starts out like a Deep Purple/Jerusalem ballad, only to have a chorus that will simply blow your mind. Bang! It's like having a rabid mad Ian Gillan, screaming at the top of his lungs, straight at you and very close to your face. "Child" is classic hammond filled Purple with the heaviness of Leviticus. Some of Heartcry's material leaves me rather cold though and they haven't really managed to create something all-great with "Lightmaker". Credit for standing up against the "darkmaker" and for being true to their colours. It's overall a okay album that could have been even better with some more variation and catchier hooks.

RICHIE KOTZEN: "Acoustic Cuts" 3

Frontiers Records 2005
Review by Martien Koolen,
27 January 2005

As much as I liked Richie’s previous album “Get Up’, I truly loathe this one. “Acoustic Cuts” is filled with ten Richie Kotzen’s most popular songs performed on acoustic guitar and I f….. hate acoustic songs and so called un-plugged albums!!!

All the ten tracks are just boring, there is no variation and I miss the electric guitar. This is just bonfire music and I would suggest that you throw this CD into the bonfire after you have listened to it….

Sorry, Richie, but this is not my cup of tea, l think I will listen to “Get Up” on more time and enjoy your electric guitar picking and forget that this album exists…..

TISHAMINGO: "Wear'N'Tear" 4

Magnatude 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
22 January 2005

Inspired by the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", where the main characters find themselves in the town of Tishomingo, where they also end up forming a successful musical group. Tishamingo set out to conquer the world with southern rock and a similar name (different location, slightly different spelling). The band members are long time friends, originally from Tallahassee, FL, who now call Athens, GA home. Playing on and off together in a variety of combinations during their early years as musicians has paid big dividends for Tishamingo.

"Wear'N'Tear" is produced by David Barbe (Drive by Truckers) and mixed by John Keane (Widespread Panic, R.E.M.). They play classic southern rock and they're not too bad too at times. You have two bluesy, yet, melodic lead guitars with fat tones and two lead vocalists that both got the known-how and ability to sound secure enough to please the southern fans. The main downer however are all the darn slow-songs, as many as 7-8 of the 12 tracks are rather sleepers than keepers. The only r-e-a-l uptempo rocker is the excellent opener "Wastin' Time", and I can't understand why they haven't included more of them???

"Poison Whiskey" is a fine mid-tempo stomper that reminded me a lot of Molly Hatchet during the very early 80's. They're even trying to recreate and write their own version of the classic "Sweet Home Alabama" with "Billy" somehow. It's not a question of stealing or just copying of the song, but you'll surely get that 70's vibe here. "Smoked Mullet" is almost more soul than southern rock and tracks like "Hillbilly Wine", "Magic", "Rome", "Ain't Got Time" etc, are all plain boring and way too slow for any real rocker. Well.. they are mostly boring I guess, since a good song is a good song after all. What started out as a great album turned out to be below average in the end.

CRASHDIET: "Riot In Everyone" (single)

Universal/ Stockholm Rec 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
23 January 2005

Sleaze alert!!! Lock up your daughter's make up kit and remove all your hairspray cans as there's a new glam act in town. Crashdiet will surely provide you with everything you ever wanted and wished for to ever return from the 80's L.A. scene (or not, if you hated everything about it). The homeland is however Sweden, they're young, dumb, and full of... energy, and they've even got the backing of a major record label nowadays (Universal - Stockholm).

Some of you may recall them from the Perris compilation "Hollywood Hairspray II", while others may have seen them around somewhere else already. There's actually quite a big "hype" around Crashdiet in Sweden at this very moment as the video of "Riot In Everyone", is curently the most requested song at ZTV (the biggest Swedish music channel, you can continue to vote for them at

So what's the big fuzz all about then? Well... to keep it sweet and simple, Crashdiet rocks in the old school formula of sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll. It's Mötley Crue, Pretty Boy Floyd, Skid Row (first album), and Shotgun Messiah influences at large. "Riot In Everyone" is the first single with their independent demo version as b-side. The refrain with it's catchy message "woh, we're the kids of the underground - there's a riot in everyone", hits ya' right between the eyes. If (and I guess it's a rather big "if") the record label continues to back them up with some proper tools and props, Crashdiet could turn out to be one of the funniest acts to make it out of Sweden lately. You can download the "Riot In Everyone" video
right here! (8.63 mb), or check out their homesite below for more info.

FEILED: "The Great Escape" (single)

Poko 2005
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
25 January 2005

Poko Records are promoting this band as the Next Big Thing, and this single has "all the ingredients to be one of the biggest hits of 2005". We'll see about that, but it's a good song with interesting arrangement (great keys!) and good melodies. Band leader Anton Laurila has a kind of an understated vocal style, which is actually quite refreshing as the current breed of Finnish vocalists (Lauri of Rasmus, Negative's Jonne Aaron, Ville Valo...) tend to be hyper-emotional. The album's due out in April, and it's one to look out for.

COMMUNIC: "Conspiracy In Mind" 9

Nuclear Blast 2005
Review by Martien Koolen,
20 január 2005

Another musical surprise from Scandinavia called Communic will blow your mind in the beginning of the new year. Formed only 2 years ago this trio shows what they are capable of and Nuclear Blast spotted their talent and offered them a long-term record deal.

The musical style of Communic can best be described as a blend of classic progressive metal bands like for instance: Nevermore, Psychotic Waltz, Sanctuary and Soilwork. The vocals of Oddleif Stensland show similarities with the throat of Nevermore’s lead singer. That is why songs like “Conspiracy In Mind”, “They Feed On Our Fear” and “Silence Surrounds” sound like Nevermore all over. All 7 tracks exceed at least the six minutes mark, the last song on the album even clocking 11 minutes.

Communic’s musical style is very rich and includes many elements from various metal genres, like: smashing bass and guitar lines, catchy vocal melodies and powerful metal riffs all over the album. Sometimes their music is even progressive like in the definite highlight: “The Distance”. A song with a great instrumental opening, followed by a balladesque part and heavenly melodic guitar solos. The rest of the material on this CD is great metal up your ass…. Making Communic a sheer exciting, promising, sometimes already brilliant, band to remember. Check this album out and find out that this is one of the first super surprises in 2005!!

UNCHAINED: "Unchained" 8

Sound Riot Records 2005
Review by Martien Koolen,
20 január 2005

Unchained is a Swedish melodic metal band, founded in 1999. This five-piece rock band recorded their debut album in 6 months time and the result is stunning. Unchained is Sweden’s answer to Iron Maiden; just listen to those typical Maiden riffs in the opening song “My Guide” and you can hear where these guys got their inspiration from…….

The next song, “The Analyst” sounds like a track from Bruce Dickinson’s solo album “Skunkworks”. Per Karlsson’s voice really sounds like Bruce the 2nd; no offense by the way……. “Ghost Of The Alchemic Hall”is again filled with Maiden guitar riffs and melodies, but here Per sounds like Eric Adams of Manowar. This is a great song with lots of diversity and excellent guitar solos, sometimes even twin guitar solos. Unchained really sound professional and this album does not sound like a “virgin” album. The hard guitar riffs dominate throughout the complete CD, but the music is also very melodic, diverse and even balladesque at certain moments.

The two highlight are also the two longest tracks, “Theater Of Fear”(7:02) and “Seventh Sin”(6:12). Both songs feature a lot of rhythm changes, melodic guitar passages, guitar solos and extremely well vocals. For Maiden fans this album is a must, but also lovers of heavy metal music should give these guys a chance. I am convinced that Unchained can become a successful rock band in the future, although they sound like Maiden too much in certain songs. But, hey, you win some and you lose some, so……..

Martin BARRE: "Stage Left" 7

Favored Nations 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
16 January 2005

Martin Barre has been the lead guitarist of Jethro Tull ever since 1969. This is however my first encounter with him as a solo artist and what strikes me the most is the vast variety of sounds and songs. "Stage Left" will take on a trip among both acoustic as well as electric guitars and everything between Satriani to Spanish flamenco will be on display. The influences of jazz, classical, blues, and Jethro Tull-ish prog music, wil obviously have a big part of this album too.

It's more than a solid performance by a veteran craftsman at his daily musical work. There are some truly amazing and beautiful melodies to be found on this CD... and not that many fillers I may add. It's not always the notes he actually play on his guitar, but also credit for the ones that he leaves behind. Don't get me wrong, Barre can most certainly shred like any other guitar hero out there. However, the main focus are the songs themselves instead of the frequently used (too) fast playing by some guitarists. Check out "Murphy's Paw" where Barre rips and shreds throughout the entire track with some classic hardrock riffs. Only to kick back and relax with the following track "Favourite Things". It's a smooth, acoustic song with the phrasing and technique of a man that obviously has a ear for melodies.

"Stage Left" isn't about showing off all of the time and you actually need to include some memoriable melodies and songs, to get a real winner in the instrumental field of rock. Something which Barre has managed with... most of times here. "Don't Say A Word" is actually the only song with lyrics and it's a really nice Jethro Tull rocker. All that glitter ain't gold though and it gets a bit boring at times. Bottomline: A fine instrumental album that could even have been great with a couple of more uptempo rock tunes.

ASTRAL DOORS: "Evil Is Forever" 7

Locomotive Music 2005
Review by Martien Koolen,
20 January 2005

Three years ago Joachim Nordlund and Johan Lindstedt joined up and wrote some metal songs in the great old style of bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Rainbow and Dio. Patrick Johansson later was asked to do the vocal parts and so Astral Doors made their first album called “Of The Son And The Father”. The album got raving reviews and the band caught immense media attention. Furthermore the band performed at famous festivals like: Wacken Open Air and Sweden Rock in 2004.

Their new album “Evil Is Forever” is their second album and I really must say that I am a bit disappointed…. Although the album sounds great, the real surprise is actually gone, this CD is actually “Of The Son and The Father part 2”. In other words the rather very obvious Dio, Rainbow and Black Sabbath influences dominate this album too much and therefore Astral Doors almost sound like a rip-off of those bands and I think that this is not what the band aims at…..

“Time To Rock” is almost the same as Dio’s “We Rock”, and that is the weakest Dio song ever, by the way. Also in tracks like “Evil is Forever”, “Pull The Break” and the opening track, Astral Doors sound too much like Dio, Rainbow and Sabbath. The typical metal riffs, the melodies and the vocals all give me a deja-vu feeling every time I listen to them. Furthermore I have to say that all songs almost sound alike, there is not enough variation. With one exception, namely the last song called: “Path To Delirium”. This superb song starts with a great guitar solo and a narrative part, followed by doomy riffs, great singing and excellent rhythm changes. Although this song reminds me of the “Tyr” and “ Headless Cross” time of Black Sabbath, this is a great song. Why are there not more tracks like this one on the album??? Again, maybe I am a bit too harsh, because I really liked their debut and I was looking forward to their new album with too much anticipation…..

RHAPSODY SWEDEN: "Strange Vibrations" 6

MTM Classix 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
17 January 2005

The original Rhapsody was formed in Sweden already back in 1974. Forget about that Italian Power metal outfit as we're talking about straight and simple 70's hardrock on this CD. Their one-and-only self titled album release from 1978, has finally been re-issued on CD with two bonus tracks and a new frontcover. It's quite a solid album actually, if you're into that utter classic 70's sound with acts like Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Rainbow, and even UFO at times. Classy guitarwork, a more than decent front figure, and some aggressive keyboards (hammond), could turn out to be a small treat for the classic hardrock fan. Don't expect anything too original though as it's all done and performed in the spirit of their 70's rock heroes.

The band had so much fun remastering the old tunes, they decided to record two brand new songs as bonus tracks for this release. "It's Gonna Be Tonight" is the real winner here with some really impressive guitar work in the tradition of Ritchie Blackmore & Rainbow. The title track is a massive tribute to Deep Purple if ever and "I've Done All I Can" truly combines all the rock ingredients of the 70's.

The vinyl release has been a rather sought after item for any mad collector of 70's rock. The band was fairly successful in Hungary (of all places?) and Sweden/Scandinavia of course, where "Strange Vibrations" is still sort of cult rated. They broke up already back in 1980 though and guitarist Kjell Åke Noren and keyboardist Peter Åhs, has been working as 'dansband' musicians (Swedish Schlager music) for the past years. Singer Benny Ahlkvist joined Gallery and teamed up with guitarist Tony Borg later on (prior to Borg's Alien days). Recommended to: 70's fans and if the combination of Sweden and Deep Purple/Uriah Heep rock - sounds interesting.

TRISTANIA: "Ashes" 5

SPV 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
16 January 2005

"Ashes" are what you end up with if you're trying to mix Goth, Death, Symphonic, Classical, Rock, and Black Metal into one CD. "Ashes" can never be quite as exciting as the fire which it first envolved from. And "Ashes" are merley leftover from something that used to have life and once were a real spark in the dark. I believe that Tristiana are simply trying too much with their music and their desperate cry for attention. It's an awful flirt with all genres as like they're trying to create the perfect hybrid CD, which each and every metal fan out there could love and adore. I'm not sure it's such a great idea really and especially not if many of your songs comes out sounding as pale versions of the originals.

Tristiana have 3 lead vocalists - a growler (male), a "normal" one (male), and a female Nightwish type (Vibeke Stene). OK... so they have all bases covered in other words and now we're only waiting for the homerun to appear. Sadly it never happens as the song material simply fails to take them to the same high quality of acts such as Nighwish, Theatre Of Tragedy, Within Temptation, Children Of Bodom, or Type O'Negative.

They have however a couple of real gems and original ideas surrounding their complex hybrid style. Since they're from Norway (?), they've also managed to include the Norwegian folklore and musical tradition into their stuff (now there's a great word... "stuff"). Not by much though, but there's a special mood of melancholy and dark atmosphere, which only appears here in Scandinavia (I believe it's because of the darkness during the endless winter time or something?). The song structure never seem to be static, but it also never really exciting, maily due to the complete lack of hooks and/or choruses throughout the CD. The stand out track is without a doubt the gothic "Equilibrium", that comes out sounding like a perfect mixture of Within Temptation and Type O'Negative. I also enjoy the enchanting words of "The Wretched". It's otherwise a very average album without any highlights whatsoever.

WISDOM: "Wisdom EP"

Music Works 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
19 January 2005

"Words of Wisdom - teach us more". I'm going to be completely honest here and say that I didn't expect much out of this band. Especially since they're from Hungary and Bandi recommended me to have a go at their 4-track CD. Seriously though, I'm only kidding, I'm more than a little impressed by these guys actually as they're playing a fun version of Power Metal in the German tradition of things. They've already stired up things "over there", as they've been performing extensively in Hungary, opening for the likes of Iron Maiden, Europe, Helloween, Saxon and Doro in addition to playing headlining gigs of their own.

Wisdom are already on their way to success and they are also in possession of all the necessary metal ingredients in my opinion. István Nachladal is a powerful vocalist without any major flaunts or singing accent. Keep in mind that he's from Hungary and not the states. Gábor Kovács & Zsolt "Dime" Galambos, are more than familiar with their six-strings, and not to forget the rock solid rhythm section consisting of Máté Molnár (bass) & Csaba "Csibe" Czébely (drums). The four songs on this EP can be desrcibed as Helloween, Stratovarius meets U.D.O. with a twist. Check out "King Of Death" for some guitarwork 'ala Accept (except the bridge which is pure Iron Maiden), with a chorus and main melody more in the vein of Helloween & Gamma Ray. "Strain Of Madness" can only be described as kick-azz metal with some lovely vocal harmonies and guitar work.

The multi media section is really something out of the ordinary too. Plug the disc into your PC and you'll find a video track of "Strain Of Madness" (quality of a big budget production), some info about all the members, and the usual backgrounds, win-amp skin, etc. I'm not sure about that narrator in the beginning though, not quite as convincing. However, I can only hope that Wisdom will find a decent Euro distribution as we're talking about a major surprise and hope for the future here.

Terry BOZZIO: "Prime Cuts" -

Magna Carta 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
14 January 2005

Check this out if you're into symbols... ehem.. better make that cymbals. It also helps if you're into jazz/fusion and basically anything like drums, drums, and more drums. 'Stick' to what you know as Magna Crata are trying to 'snare' you with this collection with 'tom-tom's' and a bumpy 'ride'. Talk about 'rimshot' as Terry Bozzio may be one helluva musician, but it doesn't get more boring than a drummer with a hard-on for cow-bells. It's technical playing of finest quality and some sort of free form jazz/fusion with a lot of improvisations, takes place within the walls of his "Prime Cuts" CD. Every rockers nightmare in other words and only a toxicated subscriber of 'Modern Drummer Magazine', could find anything remoteley of interest here. I still stand by my words of the past: drummers shouldn't be allowed to release instrumental solo albums based on drums and drums only...

SHY: "Sunset And Vine" 9

MTM 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
9 January 2005

Shy? Journey? Shy? Journey? Shy? - Blimey... I thought they sounded a lot like Journey already with "Unfinished Business" and after hearing the first couple of tracks on this CD, I'll have to say that it only confirmed my previous statement. Shy are nowadays a very "slick" AOR act with a more "mature" American sound than ever. The Steve Perry-a-like phrases sung by high-pitched singer Tony Mills, and the excellent, smooth, guitarwork, puts "Sunset And Vine" a notch or five above the rest of the pack. In fact, I don't believe you'll get a much better pure AOR/Melodic release than this during 2005. Well... at least not if you're into that "slowly-drifting-away" sound of US arena rockers like you-know-who.

It's almost liked you're getting pissed over the fact that they're from "dull, old, England" and not the states. Especially since they're beating the yankees at their own game somehow. That would be like USA getting trashed in the olympic basket ball tournament with... no wait... that actually happened [;-)]. You could however also say that "Sunset And Vine" are full of old cliches and AOR toons. Absolutely, they're not going to win any awards like 'most original sounding rock act' with this release. It's something that fans of vintage Shy -"Brave The Storm"- and a certain amount of Journey-ism will find this truly exciting. Mills must have been spending all his spare time infront of the stereo lately. Listening and adoring the work of Steve Perry & Journey as the vocal harmonies are sometimes scary alike. Mills have this really high-pitched voice though and it's not a question of being a deadringer or a complete copy-cat. Shy doesn't use the keyboards as much up front either.

It's difficult to pick any clear highlights as each track is a important piece of the puzzle. I love the flow of songs like "Open Your Heart" and "Don't Jump The Gun" though. "First Love" must be one of the better songs Journey never wrote, while "I'll Be Home Tonight" is a great ballad in the style of you-know-who. The only real downer would be that many songs are mid-tempo one's and that Mills could get on your nerves at times (due to the massive overkill of high-pitched Perry a-like vocals). I definitely prefer this over the otherwise "similar" old-style AOR of Pride Of Lions. Good work lads!!!


Perris Records 2004 (re-release)
Review by Petri Kautto, 10 January 2005

Thumbs up, Perris Records, for re-releasing this one! Blind Date is certainly one of those bands that should not have been washed away buy the flannel wave in the early nineties. Unfortunately I got this disc with no additional information about the band but I can tell you this much: Blind Date is easily one of the (if not the) best melodic release for quite a while from Perris. In short (from what I could dig up from the net) was that Blind Date was based in Austin, Texas in the late 80’s and in 1989 their demo created some buzz and enabled them to get opening slots for bands like Helix and Vixen. But apparently it was just a tad too late for blind date as the last decade of the 20th Century was already there and they had not made it big.

It’s a Danger Danger and Ted Poley flash back when you listen to the first song "Don’t Wait Up". The sound is really similar and it would be easy to think that it is actually Ted Poley singing. The power ballad section is in order with “She’s Walking”, a song that many bands would have loved to have in their set list. The overall sound is very D2/early Bon Jovi/White Lion and I’m really happy that I happened to come across this album. Lyrics are not the strenght of the album but then again, which of the bands in the late 80’s built their success on meaningful lyrics?

This album is filled with catchy hooks, strong keyboards and big guitar solos, but also the vocals (lead and backing) are very enjoyable. If you miss the late 80’s sound and don’t think it’s there anymore, prove yourself wrong and pick this one up.

FIREWIND: "Forged By Fire" 9

Century 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
7 January 2005

The Greek melodic power metal band strike back with their third and strongest offering to date. Firewind is very much an international affair however as new vocalist Chity Somapala (Avalon, Moonlight Agony, and FARO at MTM Music) is a German, Sri-Lanka native with a marvelous singing voice. Guitarist Gus G has recently decided to leave Sweden's Dream Evil to focus all his energy on this project. Norwegian drummer Stian Kristoffersen (Pagan's Mind, Jorn Lande), bassist Petros Christos (ex-Breaking Silence) and keyboardist Bob Katsionis (Nightfall, Imaginery), makes the united nation line-up complete.

"Forged By Fire" is a blistering attempt of trying to smoother us all with the band's affection for heavy metal. The guitars are loud and very upfront in the mix with thunder-a-like drums and pounding beats. Recorded in three different studios in Greece, Germany and Norway, and finally mixed at Studio Fredman in Sweden (the home of Hammerfall, The Haunted, In Flames, etc), it's clearly that Firewind will give Masterplan a run for the money and title of best (melodic) metal album of the year. True anthems like "Tyranny" is as close as metal ecstasy as you'll get, and it's proves once and for all, that Gus G is one of the new guitar heroes of our time. Tracks such as "The Forgotten Memory" and the semi-ballad "Hate World Hero", are also up there among the best metal songs of the century. It's metal based and rooted into the 80's stuff and it's therefore very powerful and catchy at the same time.

I've always enjoyed the work of Somapala and this will (finally) be his real breakthrough album. He's both a power vocalist 'ala Shmoulik Avigal (Picture, The Rods), and also capable of showing his melodic side 'ala Johnny Gioeli (Hardline, Axel Rudi Pell) and Claus Lessman (Bonfire). You'll notice a slight German singing accent pretty much like Lessman of Bonfire. The new year has barely begun and we already have Masterplan and Firewind... could 2005 be the best metal year since 1983 or so??? Nah, probably not, but we're off to a really good start anyhow. Play it loud muthas!!!

KREATOR: "Enemy Of God" 8

SPV 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
4 January 2005

I lost pretty much all interest in Kreator (and Slayer, and Pantera, for that matter), during the later part of the 90's. I thought they became too silly somehow in their desperate search of neckbreaking music without any melodies or fun ideas whatsoever - something which they had tons of in their heydays (80's/early 90's). "Enemy Of God" comes therefore as a major surprise as it completely restored all my faith in Germany's Thrash Metal outfit.

We're talking about a Thrash revelation here as Kreator are suddenly listenable once again. You may however not enjoy "Enemy Of God" if you're into that ultra-ultra heavy crap. There's quite a lot of melodic guitar parts and melodies to be found here and tracks like "Impossible Brutallity" or "Suicide Terrorist", could almost be described as "catchy" (in the tradition of good, old, 80's thrash of course). Opener and title track "Enemy Of God" display the inspiration and melodies from the Scandinavian wave of (melodic) death metal, and guitarist Sami (from Finland's Waltari) could be reason for that I guess. The detuned guitars (you'll have to re-tune several times to catch up with the band) add a morbid and aggressive shadow above it all.

I'm not sure Kreator would appreciate the following statement... but "World Anarchy" reminded me a lot of Slayer (who?) during their "Reign In Blood/South Of Heaven" era. Ehem... I'm sure Mille would love to hear that comparsion. But let's be honest here, the two bands has a lot in common, or at least used to have, until Slayer completely lost their plot somewhere along the way. Highly recommended and once you're in the mosh pit, you'll never get out of there again.


Perris Records 2004
Review by Petri Kautto, 7 January 2005

"Question Mark Release" is an album that you’ve come to expect from Enuff Z’Nuff in recent years. Good production, professional sound but rather mediocre power pop songs with a few pieces that stand out from the others. Donnie’s voice is as recognizable as ever and if you liked their previous releases this should please you too.

“Gorgeous” is the first song of the album and it’s a brisk and happy tune as is “Home Tonight”, very Beatles-like songs both. I enjoyed the third song “Help…” more than the first two, it’s a mid-tempo song with a very catchy guitar solo and a good melody. “No Place Like Home” has a nice mood to it but “Harleya” is not that impressive thou the vocal performance is excellent. “Hang on for Life” is the first time the band really starts rocking on this album. An up-tempo rocker with a rather dark riff, it brings spice to album’s otherwise mellow atmosphere. The next song “Man with a Woman” is again more typical for this album. “How Are You” is the first real ballad of the album and it’s a touchy and sentimental song that manages to thrill you with basically an acoustic guitar and vocals. “Joni Woni (Likes to Ride the Pony)” is again a more rocking song but to be honest I think they could’ve left this one out. “This Guy” is a basic Enuff Z’Nuff song and they chose to finish with a cover, “Stone Cold Crazy”, but it really doesn’t add value to this album.

Times are tough in the Enuff Z’Nuff camp since this turned out to be the last album that Derek Frigo played on. RIP Derek. Everyone at wished the band all the best and strength for the future.

Stuart Smith: "Heaven & Earth" 7

Black Star Records 2004
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
7 January 2005

This is a re-issue of the first Stuart Smith album, originally released in Korea and Japan by Samsung and later by Frontiers in Europe. Now it's been released by the new label co-owned by Smith, and this version comes with 2 new tracks, "Life On The Line" and a cover of Gary Moore's "Still Got The Blues". The first one is a straight-forward 70'ies styled rocker with Toto's Bobby Kimball on vocals, surely an interesting track for all the Deep Purple-fans etc. "Still Got The Blues" is sung by Joe Lynn Turner, and he really shines on the track. I've never really cared for the original, but damn it, this version is good!

As for the rest of the album, here's my original review only slightly edited...the new tracklisting is a bit different though, but you'll get my point I think!

"Guitarist Stuart Smith may be an unknown name, but he surely has some famous friends. On this album he is assisted by such household names of hard rock as Richie Sambora, Glenn Hughes, Joe Lynn Turner and Kelly Hansen, to name a few. And, even though Smith is a guitarist, this album is not self-indulged widdling. The emphasis is on songs, and even the instrumentals are very well structured.

The opener "The opener "Don't Keep Me Waiting" is a bluesy rocker, very much in the tradition of Deep Purple or Led Zeppelin. Not my favourites, even though the vocalist Kelly Hansen does a great job. Next up there's the brilliant title track, a very melodic midtempo track, featuring the vocals of Joe Lynn Turner. Then the Blues takes over... The old blues song "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" (vocals by Glenn Hughes) doesn't do it for me, but the Deep Purple ballad "When A Blind Man" is better, thanks to Sambora's great vocals.

Turner leads the band back from the Blues City with the great melodic rocker "Memories". "Dream Of Desire" is a Bach-inspired instrumental, and a pretty good one too, very melodic. "Trouble In Paradise" is a bit of a standard rock'n roll song, but "Shadow Of The Tyburn Tree" is something completely different. It's a very beautiful ballad with an exceptional melody and interesting instrumentation - just guitars, strings and woodwinds. Vocals are again provided by Turner, who seems to get all the best songs to sing!

"It's Got To Be love" is a heavy bluesy rocker, not my cup of tea, neither is the blues ballad "When The Blues Catch Up With You". "Do You Ever Think Of Me" is a good song, so good in fact that three other acts - Garbo Talks, Message and Unruly Child - covered it during the late nineties. Smith's version is quite similar to UC version, which isn't surprising, as Hansen sings on both of them!

"The Road To Melnibore" is a beautiful instrumental ballad. "Howlin' At The Moon" is an bluesy rocker featuring Paul Shortino on vocals, while "Lose My Number" is another seventies' sounding hard rock number.

All in all, this is a very well produced and performed hard rock album, that has a lot ot offer to the fans of the bluesier side of things. For a non-blues lover like me there's a bit too many blues songs there, but thankfully there is a handful of brilliant AOR'ish songs in there too!"

Stuart Smith website

Heaven And Earth

BROKEN TEETH "Blood on the Radio" 7

Perris Records 2004
Review by Petri Kautto, 10 January 2005

The Boogie Man from Hell, Mr. Michael Katon, has a song called "Rock ‘n’ Roll, Whiskey, Blood ‘n’ Guts". That song title is suitable if you need to get a mental image of the sound of Broken Teeth. “Blood on the Radio” is a live recording and the band is not trying to be anything else than it is: a rough edged boogie rock band.

The frontman Jason McMaster (ex-Dangerous Toys) needs to have a few more shots of whiskey to get his voice just right for the band’s sound but he’s getting there, his voice is very recognizible. The rest of the band forms a tight pack and they maintain a certain intensity throughout. This is not the best album around but by no means the worst either. It keeps your foot stumping and it’s all in good fun, but it doesn’t really leave you craving for more.

"Blood on the Radio" is a basic rock album and I urge you to make the necessary preparations should you choose to buy this one. Make sure the volume button in your stereo is fully functional, put the beers in the cooler and kick back. It’s rock ‘n’ roll, that’s all!

Adrian LEGG: "Inheritance" 7

Favored Nations 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
2 January 2005

Acoustic guitar rock with Adrian Legg??? Honestly, I had my doubts until I actually sat down to have a listen to the man. I better make this clear from the start though... this is relaxing music after a hard day at work and not exactly stuff you party all night long with. It's a man, his acoustic guitar, and 11 songs to slowly drift away and dream about. A minimal production and a mix of gentle contemplative ballads, hints of folk music, Irish jig and traditional church music influences, "Inheritance" makes a radical contrast to the headbanging death metal of COB. A top class performer nontheless and Legg has toured with such varied artists as Tanita Tikarum, Nanci Griffith, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson and Steve Vai.

It's sweet, finger-picking music, with a touch of that melancholy that could bring tears to your eyes. Or you'll simply end up pissed over the fact that there's no electric guitars or real-rock riffs to talk about here. One thing's for sure, it's perfect music to play during christmas while you're trying to get back on track after all that food (which I finally did). However, while listening to the CD I must say that tracks like "The Good Soldier" and "Psalm With No Words", comes out sounding so much better, due to the addition of atmospheric keyboards. It's still a very enjoyable CD with just the right amount of creativity and grace.

CHARIOT: "The Warrior & Burning Ambition" 7

Majestic Rock 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
4 January 2005

Chariot was all about denim and leather really. A blue collar band from London/England that played NWOBHM music of its era (early to mid-80's stuff), and drank their beers until they passed out. They were probably pissed off about the "Iron Lady" (Tatcher) as well as everything else and found salvation in playing Heavy Metal. "The Warrior" from 1984 is a basic heavy metal album with a "take-no-prisoners" attitude and aggressive approach. Released onto CD for the first time ever in 2004, it's also a damn fine retrospective look at English metal back then. I must however say that "The Warrior" could as easily have been released 3-4 years earlier (1980-81), since it's very much the sound of early 80's metal and the same goes with their second album "Burning Ambition" (1986).

Think about the first two Iron Maiden albums, a slightly mellower version of Motörhead (and without the really raspy vocals of Lemmy), and you're pretty close to the core. There's even some Thin Lizzy influences into songs like "Power Games" and "Evil Eye", where especially the guitar parts will have you thinking about Lizzy. Heck, you can actually throw in some Def Leppard during "On Through The Night" and there you have it. It may be crued and rude metal, but each song has a hook and purpose for the die-hard fan of NWOBHM. The production is raw and straight-forward like any good, old, metal album, between the years of 1980-82, and many reviewers thought of Chariot as kind of dated already back then. You can't go wrong with the Motörhead meets Iron Maiden music of "Take Your Hands Of Me" though. Both albums are very solid and vocalist/guitarist Pete Franklin has a strong, clean, metal voice.

WAYSTED: "Back From The Dead" 7

Majestic Rock 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
3 January 2005

Back from the dead... but still unconscious... and not to mention Waysted!? Indeed, UFO bassist and party-hardy wildman Pete Way, has decided to bring back the old gang again. Original singer Fin More (also known as Ian Muir I believe), tags along for the ride and they both set out for the sunset with gritty rock'n'roll in mind. And this is very much a back to basic album 'ala early Waysted and UFO.

I must admit hearing a lot of really negative comments towards this album in certain circles. Must have been all those fluffy die-hard AOR-heads I guess. "Back From The Dead" comes out sounding like any old Way/Fin album in the past. It's a bit of the first mini-album mixed with some "The Good, The Bad, The Waysted", perhaps a couple of new ideas, and there you have it. Nothing fancy, nothing special, and certainly nothing trendy or modern about it at all really. It's like watching Birmingham's Robbie Savage and Man Utd's Roy Keane going at eachother during the game. Primitive work, but with lots of heart, attitude and emotion. With all this in mind I'd also like to point out that 8 song tracks are simply not enough in these days.

"The Price Of Love" could have been one of those rock-a-billy toons that Motörhead usually does, in reality it's actually a Everly Brothers cover. I actually enjoy the charmy beats of "Breakfast Show" and there's nothing wrong with including a couple of "oi, oi, oi's" into a rock song. Fin's vocals are kinda shot as always and it's gritty rock'n'roll down to the bone. Bottomline: Don't expect to find any monster songs here, but I'm sure that early Waysted fans will find something to enjoy with "Back From The Dead". Could the rock babe on the frontcover give me a call later on???


Frontiers Records 2005
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
5 January 2005

LAD's first album was one of the finest albums of 2004, so expectations were high regarding this follow-up one. The band went through some personell changes as the Europe trio of Michaeli, Leven & Haugland had to step aside and concentrate on Europe. The replacements aren't too bad though - there's Crystal Blue's Thomas Lassar on keys, Talisman/Treat drummer Jamie Borger providing the backbeat and Talisman's Marcel Jacob on bass. The remaining two members are of course vocalist Mikael Erlandsson and guitarist Andy Malecek. Everything should be in order...but what happened to the songs?

The first album was a bit of a mixed bag of influences and styles, but the quality of the songs made up for it. There might be a stronger sense of direction on this one, but I have to say that I'm not that fond of it. The band has chosen a more pop-oriented approach, and thanks to that, a lot of the urgency and excitement is gone. There are still some quite good songs here, but nothing that could touch the brilliance of "Again And Again" or "Talk To Me" from the first album.

The album opens with dramatic semi-ballad "Brand New Life". It's a good track, one of the best ones here actually, but still an odd choice for an opener. Well, I guess one doesn't always have to kick in the front door, one can also sneak in through the back door..."Lost In You" is more uptempo, and otherwise quite good but the chorus doesn't really elevate it to the next level. "Heat Of Emotion" has previously been recorded by Malecek's old band Fair Warning and Zeno, and I have to say that LAD could have thought twice about re-doing it. It's a great song, but it doesn't suit Erlandsson's voice at all. It just sounds very unnatural.

"So Much Love In The World" sounds like an Erlandsson solo song, a nice, if somewhat predictable pop ballad with some Beatles influences. "Helpless" and "This Gotta Be Love" are both quite decent pop rockers, but when it comes to pop rockers, my vote goes to "Up In Paradise", a bright'n breezy number. It is a distant relative of first album's "Blink Of The Eye" and possibly my favourite track here. I'm pretty sure that the pre-chorus is stolen from a Stryper song though.

"Over And Out" is another favourite, probably the most hard rockin' track here, with a strong chorus and lots of backing vocals. "(Always Be) You And I" is an acoustic ballad that reminds me strongly of Eric Clapton's "Tears In Heaven", which doesn't rank among my favourite tracks - quite the opposite really. I'll pass...and I'll do the same to "Running", a quirky AOR number that reminds me of 70'ies Toto.

"Round And Round" is perfectly likeable melodic rock though, with a nice sing-along hook. "Keep Falling" is another Toto-like song, this time it reminds me of the "Isolation"-era. Quite a decent track, this one! Finally there's the big ballad "A Place To Hide In Town", which is also a very decent track.

Now that I've gone through my notes, this really isn't such a bad album...just like with the first one, I actually decided to raise my rating during the writing process. Still, the lack of real killer tracks, the presence of a few quite dull ones and the production of which I'm not so sure of, does mean that the rating has to be a couple of points lower than the first one's.

CHERRY ST.: "Monroe" 6

Perris Records 2004 (re-release)
Review by Petri Kautto 7 January 2005,

This album is a re-release from 1996 featuring quite a few of the more or less known artist from the 80’s rock era. Apparently Cherry St. has been a side project for many musicians and people have come and gone and the doors have kept revolving. Marq Torien (BulletBoys) and Kevin Steele (Roxx Gang) take care of the vocals on the first six songs. There are also 3 bonus tracks so when you add those up you get an album’s worth of material. Cocky and sleazy rock might be appropriate to describe the contents of this album.

"Dogtown" is a fun party rocker and it’s a good start for the album. "One More Tonight" and "Break Me" have a touch of AC/DC in them and the songs roll on rather well. "Joker’s Wild" somehow reminded me of something that Jackyl might release. "Bite the Bullet" was one of the weaker ones on this one, nothing there really to catch your attention. The only slow song of the album is called "The War is Over" and I felt that this was just a compulsory ear-to-ear they had to throw in. In my view "Comes Around, Goes Around" is the best song on "Monroe" and I’m happy they threw it in as a bonus track. "Soft and Slow" and "Push and Shove" rock like the rest of them but nothing really spectacular there.

You kinda get the feeling that Cherry St. is just a bunch of guys messing around in the studio, having fun playing and recording at the same time. This album doesn’t offer any monster hits but if you like the aforementioned bands and the era you should have fun with this one too.

GREENHOUZE: "Greenhouze" 5

MTM 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
4 January 2005

Greenhouze is a Norwegian project formed around musician/producer Lars Levin (Second Heat) and ex-Sons Of Angels vocalist Solli (also ex-21 Guns). I'm afraid thay have recorded a rather average debut album filled with reused melodies and overall bleach material. It's like listening to a watered down version of Mr.Mister (and they only had a couple of great songs to begin with), and/or John Waite fronted acts. Throw in some Norwegian Pop acts like Dance With A Stranger and perhaps even A-HA (at their worst), and you surely get a mixed bag with not-so-fun and defect products.

They have a couple of absoluteley fabulous AOR rockers like opener "The Point", "Waterline" - that kinda reminds me of Eddie Money's 'Take Me Home Tonight'. "Here In The Air", "Highway In The Sun" (really poppy), and "Rain" are also darn fine numbers in the tradition of Mr.Mister and John Waite. I really like the latter with its rather clever lyrics that goes "the more you change, the more you stay the same". The rest of the songs are meant to be dreamy and atmospheric, but merely end up as boring and too pretentious in their search for the right key and expression. Exception noted for the instrumental "Snow On The Roof", where Levin really has managed to create a nice mood with his warm tone and styling.

Nontheless, if you find dreamy sections and music/lyrics that express 'urban alienation' (now you all know why I don't like it so much - only kidding), vs a deep sense of mystic harmony in nature, to be interesting. Then please go ahead and check out the Greenhouze effect. By the way, drummer Frank Tostrup (Shirley's Temple) in the man responsible for writing the Gene Simmons song "Asshole". Now that's a great song even if the album itself wasn't much to write home about.

IRONHORSE: "Bring It On" 5

Compendia 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
8 January 2005

Who would/could have thought that Ron Keel (of Keel and Steeler fame) would go Country/Southern Rock as he grew "older". Not me, that's for sure, even though I believe the band would like to label themselves as Hard Rockin’ Southern Country Metal. Fair enough I guess as this is clearly music (mostly) suited for the American market. Keel even go as far as singing a duet with Blackhawk's Henry Paul on "Dixie Highway" and it's all very cozy and slick. I don't hear much difference between this and the modern country stuff you usually hear from the states nowadays.

"The Best Move" is a great AOR/Modern country tune (heck, most modern country bands do sound AOR-ish anyhow). Opener "Three Sheets To The Wind" is Southern Rock at it's best and Keel sings better than ever on this record. The material goes hand in hand with his middle-ranged vocals. "American Thunder" is a tad silly with its over-the-top patriotic, redneck, lyrics. "The Other Kind" is on the other hand a fine Steve Earle cover, while "I Can't Stop You" sound like any (sappy) Bon Jovi ballad of lately.

I'll have to say that "Bring It On" will most certainly hit a homerun for all the American truck drivers. Every beer drinking hillbilly with a cap that says "Keep On Truckin" will probably love to speed down the highway to the music of IronHorse. We have the same kind of problem here in Sweden with "dansband music" and people with t-shirts that says "Kramgoa Låtar". Seriously though, it's a very safe album without any real highlights or fillers. It's not enough of Lynyrd Skynyrd into this and too much of that CTV stuff in my opinion. Perhaps not enough with rock to please the European market??? But you can't take away the fact this it's all very professionally done.

Tommy FUNDERBURK: "Anything For You" 5

Frontiers 2005
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
5 January 2005

It has always pissed me off that AOR has such a bad reputation here in Finland. The term seems to be a four-letter word meaning all that's lame, safe and altogether something that all "true rockers" should avoid. That's all nonsense really, but once in a while you'll hear albums which do justify the above stereotype, and I'm afraid Tommy Funderburk's solo album is one of those.

There's no question that Funderburk is a talented musician, but that doesn't help when the material is as weak as the songs on this CD. It's indeed very safe and nice, and this time I'm not using "nice" as a positive description. All the songs seem to be about love or the lack of it - four(!) of the ten titles have "love" in them - and they range from ballads to midtempo AOR tracks. While listening to this, I was hoping to find at least a few choruses, melodies or maybe some interesting instrumental parts which would have made some kind of an effect, but apart from a few songs, I didn't. And...I'm actually not that impressed by Funderburk's vocals either. He might be a super-singer, but it sounds like he wasn't in his prime on these tracks. Not that I'm too familiar with his other lead vocal works, it might be that it's just his style to sound like he's almost out of breath all the time.

The better tracks are clearly on the first half on the album. Opener "Learning How To Love" sounds like an unused vintage House Of Lords song, and it's one of the more hard rockin' tracks here. "Remember Out Love" reminds me of Mark Spiro, but it's obviously lacking that special something many songs by Spiro do have. Still, it's one of the better songs here. The best of the bunch is easily "Only You Can Give Me", a good AOR number with a strong chorus. Again I'm thinking of Mark Spiro's albums...same goes for my other favourite track "To Say You Love Me", which is very Spiro-like midtempo track with a good hook.

The production by Frontiers' favourite producer Farbrizio V. Zee Grossi is quite good and especially the guitars are quite heavy for a AOR-album such as this - not a bad thing really. I'm sure that this album will find its' audience and possibly it will be a big favourite to some of our readers, but I have to be really didn't do it for me.

Martie PETERS Group: "MPG" 5

MTM 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
29 December 2004

If you're into the early White Lion sound - check out the new solo album with ex-Push vocalist Martie Peters??? At least that's what the label are trying to feed us with and I guess they're not completely off the chart here. It may not be quite as good as Mike Tramp at his best, but you can surely pick up and recall things as you strowl down the memory lane. However, if my memory serves me right (and I believe it does), White Lion used to have better material and they also had that out-of-ordinary guitarist among their ranks (Vito Bratta).

Martie Peters writes nice songs with a nice message and it all ends up very... ehh... nice and safe. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a completely crappy release and there's definitely a market out there for his nicely written songs. I only expected a bit more and especially after hearing "The Beast Inside" earlier on a MTM compilation. It showcased a lot of hardrock stamina and energy and could as easily have been included on the "Pride" album. Peters is also a deadringer for Tramp as a vocalist and has supported the man on his European tour last year. The audience must have been confused to say the least, two Mike Tramp's???

"Only Dreaming" is ok until the chorus kicks in, the change of chords doesn't quite work out though and the whole refrain is very flat indeed. The verse should work as a build up for the refrain and here you have the opposite situation. "Number 1" is a nice mid-tempo rocker with piano and fluffy vocal harmonies in the background. "Takes Some Time" is a horrible piano ballad with an awful wimpy attitude and completeley without any meaning or charm. "Heart Is An Empty Space" is on the other hand a damn catchy AOR rocker and a clear winner in my book. The question we can all ask ourselves however: do we actually need a poor man's version of Mike Tramp???

SHIVA: "Continuance" 4

Majestic Rock 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
5 January 2005

We're talking about original Shiva here and not the Swedish wannabee's at MTM Music. Nevertheless, the U.K./Bristol band recorded their one-and-only album "Firedance" already back in 1982. Merley 22 years later comes the band's follow up release "Continuance" at Majestic Rock Records. This was supposed to be the second Shiva album for Heavy Metal Records and demos were recorded at various times during the years of 1983/1984.

The band has often been described as a UK version of Rush (without the high-pitched vocals of Geddy Lee). Yeah, well... it's almost like listening to a progressive hardrock version of The Jam at times too. I'm sure you'd find it all very interesting, Paul Weller goes Rush? I can't say that I find it all that appealing (even though I kinda like The Jam - I guess I'll be going 'Underground' from now on), and the material leaves much to ask for anyways. Only the carbon-copied Rush rock of "Eden (Silent Running)" and "The Runner", leaves a somewhat lasting impression. Especially the latter song is a real winner and the CD could have needed another 5-6 tracks of the same quality.

NOVECENTO Stanley JORDAN: "Dreams Of Peace" 3

Favored Nations 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
4 January 2005

I don't believe that Stanley Jordan needs any introduction among the guitar people as his name is synonymous with fusion rock. His trademark would obviously be the unique fretboard "tapping technique", which allowes him to be one step ahead of the rest of the rock/fusion/jazz pack. Jordan's work with the Italian act Novecento - writer/producer siblings Lion (guitar), Pino (keyboards), Rossanna (bass), and Lino's wife Dora as lead singer, is w-a-y more laidback and smoother than his usual work.

The opening track "Tell Me Something" is a sweet little lullaby with the soft, innocent, lush, vocals of Dora as the centre of the attention. It's not far from the stuff Ritchie Blackmore and Candice Night (Blackmore's Night) usually does. Very much in the tradition of folk music rather than fusion and it's quite excellent performed too. I'm really fond of the intelligent work of "Sky Flower" where Jordan delivers some speedy electric licks and several fusion tricks. The strong vocals of Gregg Brown makes this one of few real highlights on "Dreams Of Peace". Not to forget the strutting R&B of "I Can Show You Something", with a impressive horn section consisting of Leonardo Govin (trombone), and Randy Brecker & Guy Barker (trumpet).

The rest of the tracks however (6) can only be described as utter bull and plain boring with a capital B. This my good people, truly IS elevator music at its worst kind. There's no rhythm to talk about, no pace or change of tempo, and most of all, no sign of life whatsoever. Jordan may be a legend in business, but this is clearly not his best work.

SMEER: "Dischord" 2

LionMusic 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
29 December 2004

Smeer are obviously a bunch of talanted musicians and good at what they do. The music is however jam-packed with reused melodies and riffs, all of them borrowed from the popular Nu-Metal acts of today. Take bits and pieces of each of the follwing bands: Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Nickelback, Creed and STP, and you've already heard this album somewhere down the line. I have nothing against most of the above mentioned acts (well, Limp Bizkit sucks), but apart from the two slow-songs on this CD, you can't really find anything that exciting to talk about. One reviewer wrote "Its just a shame that so many fans out there who are not so open minded as us" (and that's a correct quote). Well, I honestly don't believe it's a question of being open minded or not here. It's simply just not very original performed music and there's millions of similar acts with similar songs at every darn part of this world. If you can't get enough of that somewhere else, then Smeer is the perfect choice for you, since you already know what to expect.

M.ILL.ION: "The 2004 Reissues"

Majestic Rock 2004
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
4 January 2005

Majestic Rock reissued all the previous M.ILL.ION albums as well as releasing "Kingsize" during 2004. We've already reviewed the four albums "No.1", "We, Ourselves & Us", "Electric", and Detonator" in the past, and you can find full reviews of them all in our massive archive. They've all been remastered and repackaged with a bonus and added video content and liner notes by bassist BJ Laneby. My personal favourite of the four is without a doubt "No.1", originally released in 1992, it's a great display of Scandinavian rock in the tradition of 220 Volt, Europe, and Pretty Maids. Lots of catchy choruses, fluffy keyboards, and a singer with that typical Scandinavian touch, makes this a must have CD for fans of the AOR/Melodic genre. Again, do check out the archive for more info about all the past CD's of M.ILL.ION.


You can find older reviews and everything else in the Reviews Archive. If you're looking for a specific title, use the search engine on frontpage or on the Reviews Archive page!

If you came to this page from a search engine, click the logo to view the entire site!