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SAY ANYTHING: "...Is A Real Boy" 9

SONY/J Records 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
16 May 2006

Say Anything "...Is A Real Boy" will definitely devide the music people in two different camps. You need to be in touch with your "darker side" to truly appreciate the weird and goofy approach of this close to disturbed concept story. The plot centered around a neurotic collegiate "punk" rocker (based on vocalist/guitarist Max Bemis) who is imbued with a strange power that causes his inner thoughts to burst out of his mouth uncontrollably, backed with full instrumentation (WTF?), is waaaay out there and probably the work of some kind of toxicated mind.

Ehem, Bemis actually ended up in a psychotic daze and getting thrown into the looney bin for two weeks. He appearantly believed that everyone was a cannibal hired to eat him. Yep, it's all some kind of tragic comic story and the perfect set-up for a rock album intended to reach the equally messed up youth of today (and yesterday?). Bemis turned down major labels in the past with the intention of making them the next "Blink 182". They stayed "underground" and released this very album back in 2004 on the indie label DogHouse Records in L.A. Now signed to Sony/J Records, "...Is A Real Boy", comes with a bonus disc titled "...Was A Real Boy" featuring 7 bonus tracks and a couple of real goodies. The slightly morbid "Little Girls", the sentimental "Most Beautiful Plague", and the longest title of the year, "I Will Never Write An Obligatory Song About Being On The Road And Missing Someone", are the most interesting ones.

It's a charmy, quirky, messy affair, that you certainly need to spin and spin once again in quest for the true potential of the band. Bemis is said to have been inspired by such different acts like: Queen, Saves The Day, Faith No More, Fugazi, Pavement, etc. It's all a weird and ironic display in a "similar" package as Coheed And Cambria. Similar in the way that it's difficult to pin-point and describe all the aspects of the band. However, don't expect it to sound just like C&C, since every song is quite different from the previous one. Great vocal arrangements and harmonies and a knack for combining the catchy "modern" rock of Sum 41 and Saves The Day, a touch of the most goofy work of Queen, Pink Floyd, and yes, throw a ton of "emo" melodies on top of that, and you're still not close to the core.

With a total of 20 tracks on 2 CDs, you surely get value for your money. On the other hand, I would personally have downsized, since there are way too many songs and melodies to be found here. Especially since they're all pretty "unique" sounding and almost the work of a person with split personality and various schizo problems. Bottomline, you'll either love or hate Say Anything, it's some kind of progressive rock/punk/emo/rock that will leave you confused for weeks. Recommended to the really open minded person.

ASSAILANT: "Nemesis Within" 7

Dockyard 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
18 May 2006

Assailant is a new metal band from a place called Umea in Sweden and they step into the path of the uncountable number of great bands from that Swedish town, like e.g. Naglfar, Nocturnal Rites and Persuader. Not exactly the bands I like to listen to actually, as they are far too brutal and aggressive. Assailant however reminds me more of notorious bands like Soilwork and In Flames, also aggressive music but then with lots more melody, atmosphere and variation.

The album kicks of with a track called "Lies", featuring a piano intro, up tempo metal riffs, raw vocals and a rather surprising guitar solo. Not a bad start actually, but the rest of the song material all sounds a bit of the same. So, you get an avalanche of sound, consisting of pounding drums, screaming aggressive vocals, staccato rhythms and almost no resting points. That metal train keeps a rollin', as it seems there is no rest for the wicked on this album.

The two best songs, besides the opener, are "Eternal" (a rather melodic up tempo rock song with normal vocals and dominating keys) and "Edge Of Forever" (a very bombastic song with a few Evergrey characteristics). So, if you like bands like Soilwork and In Flames, or even Nocturnal Rites or Persuader, then you will also like this debut album by Assailant. Guaranteed to disturb your neighbors if played at a high volume!

MOTHER'S FINEST: "Live At Villa Berg" 7

MTM 2006
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
16 May 2006

We are talking about rock / R&B legends here with an almost 30-years long career, yet I do not really see the point of this release. This is a concert recorded in 2004 in Germany [not particularly known as a country that would be the cradle of R&B…] spiced up with 4 studio tracks. The promo disc I got only includes half of the live tracks and the studio tracks in a screwed up order beginning with the studio tracks.

They are all okay, nothing special, just what you expect from the band, a fine blend of rock and blues with lots of R&B on top. The production is okay; a little rough to these ears (at least compared to their earlier stuff, maybe because of Clawfinger's and Vernon Reid's input) but Baby Jean's incredible vocal performance makes you forget about it. My personal favorite was the opening "Do Me Right" with a cool rock guitar riff and great vocals, along with the moody "Crime of Nature".

The live tracks sound good, the band is tight, there's not much communication with the audience or anything extra in the performance, fine piece of craftsmanship all over the place. There's a pathetic attempt to make the German audience sing along in the "Mandela Song" but let's face it, Germans can only sing along to beer metal or football anthems, R&B is not their cup of Jägermeister. "Bring It" and "Nigizz Groove" sound extremely tight live, the latter one gets probably the biggest applaud from the crowd. All in all, it's an okay release even 2 years after the tour and if you missed the relatively short European tour this year, here is your chance to hear how it went. However if you are unfamiliar with the band, start with their best of from 1990.

HEED: "The Call" 5

Metal Heaven 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
17 May 2006

HEED is the brand new project of former Lost Horizon vocalist Daniel Heiman and dito guitarist Fredrik Olsson. The high pitched vocalist and the wild man on da' six-string shared a vision of creating something heavier than their previous outfit and act. Thus why "The Call" comes out sounding like a angry version of Lost Horizon... all messed up by steriods and life.

The rough and tough attitude of Heed is thankfully blessed by harmonies and melodies that will please fans of melodic metal. It's not like they've gone 'ultra heavy' and it's even difficult to find the difference between this CD and Lost Horizon at times. "The Call" starts in a resonable enough manner with something vaguely original in the lost horizon [no pun intended?], that quickly becomes just another Melodic (Power/Heavy?) Metal album from Sweden.

Don't get me wrong... excellent production, excellent singer, great musicians, it ceartainly has it's moments, but there isn't anything here to make you wanna headbang all night long. All the mentioned points and highlights are clearly better than the actual material. Perhaps I'm slowly turning into a sad fart and simply can't see the joy of yet another song titled "I Am Alive". Seriously, there's nothing remotely wrong with a title like "Last Drop Of Blood" for that matter. Well, you can't blame them for at least thinking about their metal situation, since there are merely a million similar acts in Sweden at the moment (during the last 10 year period of time actually). Best tracks: "Enemy" and "Salvation" that kicks nicely in the vein of Bloodbound's Nosferatu CD and also Nocturnal Rites. Final verdict: a second rate version of the Bloodbound release earlier this very year at Metal Heaven. You can't go all wrong here if you'd like another slice of the pie, simply don't expect miracles though.

Tim NEU: "Tim Neu" 5

Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
15 May 2006

Tim Neu is the rather "typical" Swedish artist at the moment and his 10-track debut CD is "nicely" performed music without any disturbing moments. The overall sound picture has been stripped down to the "minimal" features of a grand piano, a very distant acoustic guitar, violin, cello, keyboards, and the occasional drummer. It's all very atmospheric and dream-like performed music that certainly has no intention of ever being uptempo party rock.

OK, "Loopholes", will probably have the Kent fan going for the stage, while the rest of us will probably head towards the bar instead. Tim Neu used to hang out with "Busty" in the past and he's apparently and appearntly responsible for all music and lyrics. C'mon, surely this can't be possible??? "We'll Make Them Fall" clearly must be some kind of "English" version of any old Kent song during the last ten years??? Looking through the booklet I noticed that Nille Perned (Kent) produced the CD and you'll definitely notice the similarities. "Waltz # 2" borrows quite a lot from the dramatic mood of "Vi Mot Världen" (We Against The World), even though it's laidback and more acoustic performed music.

To be honest, "Demons" is a killer song with a lovely laidback approach and a fantastic refrain. One of my favourite songs of the year actually. "Lost Along The Way" with its grand piano, string and brass section, will have any music lover in tears of joy. "If U Let Me Go" is another winner in my humble opinion. The rest? well, they all (more or less) belong to the Kent "wannabee" section. Some of them are quite decent and others are utterly boring and safe.

Jeff Scott SOTO: "Essential Ballads"

Frontiers 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
15 May 2006

Jeff Scott Soto is a excellent example of a power vocalist that just as easily could tear a house down with his voice alone. Put him up against any air siren and he'd single handedly send it running back home to its mama. You could find him up and running at the front of acts such as Yngwie Malmsteen, Eyes, Takara, Talisman, etc, in the past and still as of present with at least the latter act. However, I could never really figure out what's so essential about a CD compilation titled "Essential Ballads"?

Ballads ARE good, every CD needs a couple of slow tracks, if only to create a small breather and change of tempo. These particular ballads are from the three albums, "Lost In The Translation", "Prism", "Love Parade", a couple of EP's, and three new bonus tracks. They all made prefect sense on their original release and it's not like they've suddenly gone sour or anything. But (and that's a rather big but), I dare anyone to play this CD and not end up with a sleepy head. I've come to the conclusion that ballads are friggin' useless when stapled on top of eachother with no sight of a single uptempo track.

The perfect remedy for a distressed hausfrau? the only solution for the "I-need-more-of Michael Bolton" fan? I dunno, I doubt that anyone could stand 16 ballads without falling asleep. The Bottomline, JSS rawks, simply get his "normal" solo albums instead and nevermind the "essentials".

DA VINCI: "Da Vinci" (re-issue) 7

MTM 2006 (reissue)
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
12 May 2006

I know I should be happy about the classic albums re-release, yet the little selfish bastard in me can't help whining about the decrease of the value of my originals. :) Up until now the two Da Vinci albums were very sought after items for collectors of quality Scandinavian melodic rock and I was happy and proud owner of the originals. Now the chance is there for everybody and I'd say go ahead and join the group of connoisseurs.

It is to admit that out of the two Da Vinci albums the second Back in Business is the better one, the self titled one also has some fine moments. For those unfamiliar with the band the most obvious comparison would be the more melodic moments of Europe or Treat of the late eighties. The label felt that they need to spice the package up a bit, so the album was remastered and a bonus track was added. Though I could have done without it, it is to note that the original 10-track album was so short that even with the two bonus tracks, the total running time barely exceeds 43 minutes. The sound of the original album was not bad at all, so there's not much difference to note after the remastering; some of the highs are jingling clearer, and there's less "mush" normally created by the characteristic 80s keyboard sound. For whatever reasons the breaks between songs seem to be slightly longer; must be the result of the remastering as well.

Classic tracks of the album were the opener "Lookin' For Love", the beautiful ballads "Traquinia" and "Young Desperado", "Corina" a number packed with feeling, and the funny "She's a He". No need to shell out 100 bucks for the CD anymore and that's good news for everybody; yet I'd recommend everybody unfamiliar with the band to give the album a spin before buying it as some of the songs sound a bit outdated to these ears with almost 20 years gone since the original release. Damn, I'm getting really old…

APPENDIX: "Pop Idols" 6

UHO Production 2006
Review by Satu Reunanen
14 May 2006

It was back in the days of Sex Pistols and The Ramones, when punk was still very much alive. Afterwards came those soft punk groups Green Day, The Offspring and the likes and the rebel mentality lost its meaning. But don’t worry, finns are back to save the day, or the century. Yeah, you say we had Apulanta and the likes in the ’90ies with attitude, but you’ve heard nothing if you haven’t heard Appendix. They’re not jumping on some fashion bandwagon, since punkrock is coming again, this band was very much alive already over twenty years ago, so they know what attitude is all about.

For the non-finnish speaking punk fans the messages in this release don’t come across though. And those who understand finnish, let the truth be known Appendix don’t bow down to censorship. They curse freely, but hey, we still have the freedom of speach in Finland. For finns this release isn’t all that bad, since finns curse a lot anyway, but personally I was never into real punk or offensive lyrics. So this release doesn’t get all the high praises it might get elsewhere, though it’s admirable, if you got a real message to rave about.

With Appendix though, this time they loath something so shallow as pop idols, which wouldn’t even deserve the mention really, not at least among real musicians. The first song on this three song ep is called just that, ”Pop Idols”. The band sounds tight and their music has more rage than those soft punk versions of the ’90ies, so this ep and the new album ”Syyntakeeton” with a guest from Maj Karma’s vocalist are something for punk fans to look into. ”Syyntakeeton” can also be found from this ep, and together with the last song ”Oot Niin Muuttunut”, the ep sums up everything this genre is all about, opinions backed with heavy and easy riffing. Don’t take a yoga class, do it like finns, curse away what’s troubling you about this society.


Magic Circle 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
14 May 2006

As much as I appreciate and love the music of Rhapsody, this new solo album of Luca Turilli is definitely not my cup of tea. Dreamquest is an additional outlet for the abundance of overflowing musical ideas from Luca and this album “introduces” his new musical style. So, you can expect a musical mix of new metal, opera, techno, gothic and symphonic elements.

This sounds good, but if you listen to the album you will be in for a true surprise as most of the songs are just overdramatic opera like songs with lots of bombastic passages and opera like singing. Especially a song like “Sospiro Divino” is in fact an opera aria, completely sung in Italian. Shivers run down my spine, not because I like the song that much, but because I do not think that it has anything to do with rock music.

The entire album is a true disappointment and I think that it is better for Luca to concentrate on Rhapsody and forget about these solo albums. But again there is no account for taste, so….

DEZPERADOZ: "The Legend and The Truth" 5

AFM Records 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
9 May 2006

Guitar player and singer Alex Kraft is the big man behind the band called Dezperadoz. This is already their second album and it is a concept album about the well-known western “hero” Wyatt Earp.

It is rather a strange album which opens with the title track filled with Ennio Morricone western film music. This is followed by a dirty rock and roll song called “Dust Of History”, a track that reminds me of bands like Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue and Monster Magnet. “First Blood” is an up tempo grunge-like song with very Alice In Chains-like vocals. These 2 songs are really great, but then the madness starts. “Deadman’ Walkin” sounds like the Shadows, followed by the Rawhide theme (a famous western series with Clint Eastwood). “Tombstone” is not even a song and further songs that follow are sheer country and western shite, which are suitable for line dancing actually.

There is only one song left that could be described as rock, “Echoes Of Eternity”. The rest of the material is just weird stuff and is definitely NOT my cup of tea. Check it out for yourself and last but not least I would like to say: YIPEEYAHOO!!

GARY JOHN BARDEN: "The Agony And Xtasy" 5

Escape Music 2006
Review by Petri Kautto 7 May 2006

Well here’s an album that does not lack good musicians, I can tell you that much. Former MSG singer Gary John Barden has gotten his mates together and this album features various guests, for example Michael Schenker, Tommy Denander and Steve Morris drop by to contribute. The outcome is in many ways what you’d expect; decent songs, splendid musical performances and a trip down memory lane for those who like their rock served the 80’s way.

Unfortunately on this trip the gas runs out half-way. The opener “Hot Daze” is a good rocker and I liked the ballad “Wounded”. Tommy Denander does a good job on “Need Some Love” but he fails to rescue the otherwise mediocre song. There’s plenty of talent to go around on this album but that doesn’t automatically mean that the outcome is perfect. In this case there are some songs that offer Xtasy, but the Agony part comes in a few too many times.

With more songs like “Hot Daze” and “Arise” this album could’ve made a mark this year. It won’t let you down if you’re a Barden fan but for the rest it doesn’t offer anything that you couldn’t live without.

TOOL: "10.000 Days" 3

SONY/Zomba 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
6 May 2006

Have we not all done the same mistake(s) in the past??? Thinking that everybody will probably love all the loooong and boring instrumental segments at the beginning of every song. "Dude, let's keep the listener waiting for five minutes while we throw in some really "cool" and "complex" riffing here". Nah, it's like Baseball or better yet, Golf, actually, it can be fun and interesting for the sportsman (woman) to take a swing or two at the ball, but don't expect the audience to stay awake during all that time (zzz!). It's basically not a TV sport and "10.000 Days" is in the same way not a stereo or ipod experience.

"10.000 days" is music that merely TOOL will enjoy and giggle at among themselves, since it's truly uplifting for any musician (no matter skill or fame) to simply get into a "groove", and play whatever you feel like playing. But once again... don't expect the poor listener to enjoy it as much as you. Hint to why it's also quite enjoyable to play experimental free jazz on stage, and why you at the same time HATE to hear the crap as a member of the audience.

The absolutely best thing about the new Tool CD is the digi packaging. They have included some stereoscopic lenses that will appearantly enchance your artwork experience. Too bad the musical experience isn't as great, perhaps next time they'll put as much focus on the actual song material, huh? It's a darn shame really, especially since we know of Tool as better songwriters than what's on display here.


Warner Bros 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
2 May 2006

We're Taking Back Sunday with a high-octane rock approach and an ultra sonic display. They are obviously "Louder Now" and full credit to producer Eric Valentine (Good Charlotte, Queens Of The Stone Age, Third Eye Blind), for bringing out the best sound yet of the Long Island act. Valentine is actually an old favourite and rock idol since his "T-Ride" days during the early 90's. Anyone into kick-azz rock'n'roll should definitely check out the selftitled album on Hollywood Records from 1992.

I simply can't agree with people who label Taking Back Sunday as punk or nu-punk though. This is pure and simple power-pop/rock and any Sid Vicious fan would laugh at anyone's poor attempt to label this as "punk". C'mon... this is melodic, catchy, nice, polite, and the exact opposite to Sex Pistols or Dead Kennedy's. Taking Back Sunday is the commercial MTV "punk" gone horribly "wrong" and poppy. Ehem, I believe they said the exact same thing(s) about "hardrock" and the MTV friendly late 80's music with acts such as Warrant, Slaughter, Winger, etc. To be honest, the acoustic ballad, "Divine Intervention", and the overall emotional attitude of TBS has more things in common with The Cure than punk rock, if you necessarily need to label music, well, try and put this somewhere between power-pop and emo rock.

This is their first major release and the band sounds tight and the songs are more dynamic than anything else they've done. They are definitely capitalizing on the recent success of acts such as Coheed And Cambria, Story Of The Year, etc, etc. They've all been signed by major labels lately and have all suddenly found themselves infront of a completely new audience. It's mainstream, radio friendly, and more technically advanced than before, outstanding tracks like "Miami" or "Makedamnsure", will soon have the teeny-boppers in ecstasy. However, you can't start bashing a band simply because they've signed on to the major league. What's the difference between "sell-out" and "keeping-it-real" anyhow??? Looking back at the history of rock, you'll notice that everything started out as "indie" only to become "mainstream" and will eventually creep back into the undergrounds once again. "Louder Now" is indeed the commercial version of TBS and some old-school fans will probably find it all too much. Then again, TBS will quickly find a thousands of other and new(er) fans with this CD. Recommnded.

HOUSE OF MIRRORS: "Desolation" 6

Escape Music 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
3 May 2006

Finnish hard rockers House Of Mirrors have toughened up their act with their second effort, which sees them moving away from the AOR genre. It may come as a shock to the fans of their first album that there's a song on "Desolation" which is almost Iron Maiden-like metal!

First two tracks "Desolation" and "Fallen Leaf" hint at the changes in the band's sound, yet both of them have decent choruses. They are both heavier than the bands' previous material, and the prog-styled tempo changes in "Fallen Leaf" might raise a few eyebrows though. "Broken Soul" sounds like an altogether different band, as this track is a full-on heavy metal song with echoes of Yngwie Malmsteen's duller moments, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. Can't say I like it.

Then we get two more AOR-like tracks back to back, the melodic midtempo number "Where Are You Now" and "Waiting In The Wings". The first one is probably the highlight of the album for AOR fans, containing a cool and relaxed vocal from Pekka Rautiainen and a smooth, catchy chorus. "Waiting" is good, melodic song too, but there's no denying that the guitar melody is borrowed from John Norum's "Love Is Meant To Last Forever"...still, it's one of my favourites here.

"On The Red Line" sounds like a tribute to Deep Purple or something, a very seventies' like hard rocker with furious organ solos. Not my cup of tea...and neither is "Gone With The Summer", which starts with a shocking flamenco-pop intro, only to be continued as a very pop-oriented ballad...Enrique Iglesias, eat your heart out. "These Chains" is hard rocker with a Talisman-like groove, yet the melodies are quite forgettable. The Van Halen (or Van Hagar)-like "Masquerade" is better, and so is the catchy "Sparks Will Fly", which is one the best songs of the album. The big power ballad "Heart To Heart" is a good one too, very "Scandi-AOR" sounding, reminding me of the likes of Treat.

I've always supported this band and will continue to do so, but I can't deny my slight disappointment with this album. Obviously they are trying to keep things fresh and try out new things, but I don't find their attempt at metal very successful, not to mention the odd latin-flavoured pop ballad. Well, they could always license it to some pop/schlager singer and get a surpise hit with conclusion, a very well produced album with some excellent melodic hard rock songs and some quite average ones.

NEWMAN: "Heaven Knows" 6

Escape Music 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
3 May 2006

Steve Newman is becoming one of the veterans of the indie AOR scene, with this one being his fifth album. This album isn't much different to his previous releases - it's solid AOR music with a somehow distinct "British edge", along the lines of Heartland and FM. The trouble is that while pretty much all of the songs are likeable enough, I can not help but think of the phrase "AOR by numbers"...

I've played this CD over and over again, yet it always ends up as "background music", with only a few of the songs making any sort of a impact. The musicianship is good, the production is good and Newman is a decent vocalist, but in the end it all comes down to the songs, and these aren't just special enough.

The highlights are the first four songs and the closing number. "Heaven Knows" and "Higher" are good AOR tracks with bit of "urgency", and the midtempo "Ain't Gonna Cry Forever" has the strongest chorus of the album and a nice, breezy feel. I quite like the powerful rocker "Move On", which opens with a classic Zeppelin/Kingdom Come-styled riff. The closing number is an acoustic ballad "On Any Other Sunday", which sounds quite genuine and sincere. It has all the makings of a country crossover hit and it could do very well, if it was covered by a band like Blackhawk or Lonestar. As for the rest of the songs...there's nothing particulary wrong with them, but they just don't have what it takes to keep the listener interested.

One thing more: How can any self-respecting artist still come up with song titles like "This Time", "Heaven Knows" or "Wait"?I would imagine that it would bother a songwriter if his songs were namesakes of dozens of other songs with the same title?

SWINGIN' THING: "Keep On Swingin" 5

SunCity Rec. 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
2 May 2006

Swingin' Thing is a classic case of 80's hairmetal band that wrote great ballads and overall poor uptempo rockers. There's an exception to every rule though and noone can ever take away the fun out of the uptempo numbers: "I Want Your Body" and "Pump". The latter is a nice mix of Glam/Sleeze in the vein of Tuff and Shotgun Messiah (the selftitled debut album). However, the rest of the rockers are either mediocre or simply put, dull, hardrock in the worst tradition of BulletBoys and Tora Tora. For example, "Groove Of Love" turned out to be pretty much any old "BB" song without any real structure, meaning, or charm.

The opening track, "Hazy, Lazy, Crazy Daze Of Summer", would probably scare away most potential buyers with such a title and approach. The three power ballads on the other hand (and this puzzles me to the extremes) are all great, catchy, and "sleazy" in that typical 80's style of Tuff, Poison, King Of The Hill, etc. Heck, I don't even mind the title, "Cowboy On The Run", even though every other ballad had a "Cowboy" theme back then. "Better Left Unsaid" is the best ballad Poison never recorded and Tuff probably did [but we never paid much attention to the "Metal Sludge" act anyhow ;-)], "No One But Myself To Blame" is yet another acoustic ballad with "bonfire, beers & babes", written all over its face.

There's a certain charm to a strutter like, "Hook, Line & Sink Her", but she quickly fades away into the 80's nights of Sunset Strip wannabees and sleazy glam acts. Bottomline, the ballads are great and "Keep On Swingin" could still be something for the die-hard collector of 80's Glam. Especially if the person think of "Look What The Cat Dragged In" (Poison) as the best album ever recorded in the history of rock (oh, c'mon).

BONFIRE: "Double X" 5

Warner Bros 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
2 May 2006

Bonfire, now there's a fitting description to outdoor activity in Scandinavia as of present. All the joneses are gathering around the bonfire on the last day of April, manily to get drunk and... well, that's pretty much it actually. This is the 10th studio album by the German rockers and it's also their 20th anniversary as a band (hint to why they named the CD "Double X").

Their previous effort was undoubtebly the worst Bonfire album yet, I'm at least glad to report they've managed to turn this old ship around on somewhat right course again. It's still a long (damn long) way to go to the excellence of "Fireworks", and it ain't the most original thing to come down the pike of lately. In fact, not one of these songs would end up on a top-25 best of Bonfire list. I do agree with everything they say on "Rap Is Crap", but it's hardly enough when the song itself is closer to crap than rap, ehem, better make that 'top class rock'.

Everything is so predictible at times that you're not even surprised when "Hard To Say", suddenly comes out sounding like a blue-print version of "Hard Luck Woman" (KISS). Then again, KISS and Paul Stanley stole the "riff" and song formula from Rod Stewart in the first place. I'm also having problems finding the difference between Bonfire and all the latest albums with Michael Voss (Demon Drive, Casanova, Mad Max). They all sound alike and they all have a couple of keepers and a bunch of fillers. "But We Still Rock" is a nice uptempo rocker, but they're not kidding anyone with that title. "Cry For Help" is a cozy semi-ballad and the same goes with "What's On Your Mind". But seriously... to name it the follow-up album to "Fireworks" in the official press-release is way too desperate and misleading.

(Michael) KISKE: "Kiske" 3

Frontiers 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
2 May 2006

Before you all go bezerk over the review, nope, I do NOT have a problem with KISKE going soft and faraway from his Metal roots. It's not a problem at all since I do enjoy everything from softest pop to the hardest metal. Me thinks it's great that Kiske is proud of the album and that it's a true statement by the ex-Helloween vocalist. In my humble opinion, good music is always music, no matter genre or style (well, with the exception of some genres like gangsta rap and experimental free jazz, etc).

This is unfortunately sub-standard elevator music with as much cred and rep as a rich commie in L.A. It features more plastic than Cher and Kenny Rogers put together, less fat than Nicole Richie... well, you get the picture. Not even a positive and totally free enviroment (according to the info-sheet) could save this from being way below average. I had to drink tons of coffee just to stay awake... and that's never a good sign. Opener "Fed By Stones" is average emo pop at its best, "All-Solutions" is a pale version of Oasis, "Knew I Would" is actually pretty darn decent until that awful "he-hey" refrain. "Kings Fall" is without a question the best track of the CD, it's a nice, laidback, westcoast song in the style of Jay Miles and his "9 Hours" CD on MTM Music. "Painted" is one more nice song in the same kind of style, and closing track "Sad As The World" is ok too. The rest all falls under the category of best forgotten - can't remember a single thing/note.

OK, enough with the unfair bashing and bad mouthing already. It would be a pretty sad world if eveyone was into the same kind of music after all. Again, it's not a question of being too soft or not "metal" enough for this reviewer. The material is simply not good enough to be awarded a higher rating in my personal opinion. Kiske should and does not care about my opinion, I'm sure, and he should definitely continue releasing the music he's comfortable with. I only hope that someone out there will actually enjoy this... if only so Kiske wont sue for cruelity against musician.

HOUSE OF LORDS: "World Upside Down" 9

Frontiers 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
1 May 2006

"The Power And The Myth", the recent much-hyped "comeback album" of House Of Lords caused a bit of controversy. 4 out 5 of the original members were involved but no keyboard player Gregg Giuffria. The most alarming things were that the bands' trademark sound was gone and the fact that the songs were frankly quite dull. This "second comeback" will be met with mixed reactions as well, as there's only one original member (vocalist James Christian) in the band. Keyboard maestro Gregg Giuffria IS involved, but not as a full-time member of the band. Some will question whether this band should be called as House Of Lords at all, and while they may have a point, all I can say that "World Upside Down" sounds much more like a HOL record than "The Power And The Myth".

The album opens with a suitably pompous keyboard intro, followed by "These Are The Times", a powerful track that will instantly prove you that this is the REAL DEAL here! The production, the melodies, the guitars, all sounds HUGE! The same theme continues with "All The Way To Heaven" which is just as good, if a bit moodier. Great vocals from Christian and a fine chorus. "Field Of Shattered Dreams" is the first ballad and it does not disappoint. Great melodies and awesome keyboard parts courtesy of Mr. Giuffria (I suspect?).

Unfortunately, the next three songs aren't quite as strong. "I'm Free" is totally unmemorable and it reminds me of the "TPATM" album, while "All The Pieces Falling" is slightly better, an okay balladic track. "Rock Bottom" is the best of the three, a powerful rocker and a close relative to "O Father" from HOL's "Demons Down" album - not quite as good though.

No need to worry though, as the AOR fireworks continue with "Million Miles", a killer uptempo track with a suberb chorus. Mr. Christian does phrase the word "me" oddly in it though..."me-ey"? Not that it bothers me too much. The ballad "Your Eyes" is another gem, and back in 1988 it could have been a huge hit for the band. Brilliant chorus! "Ghost Of Time" is a winner as well, a moody midtempo song with excellent melodies again.

I haven't gotten into "My Generation", which feels a bit plodding and repetitive. Along with "I'm Free", it's my least favourite track here, and I could've easily done without both of them. One can safely skip to "SOS", which is possibly the best song of the album. Yes, this will be one of the AOR tracks of 2006, mark my words. The closing number is the title track, a slower song that is a bit overshadowed by "SOS". At first I didn't much care for it, but after a while the subtle melodies are starting to work.

Although there are a couple of rather average tracks here, the better tracks are so good that I'll have to raise my initial rating of "8" to "9". After all, had this been a 10 track album with the two tracks I didn't like omitted, I would have considered awarding it the full points...

BACKYARD BABIES: "People Like People Like People Like Us" 8

Sony BMG 2006
Review by Petri Kautto 30 April 2006

Backyard Babies have a more melodic and softer approach to their music with their latest "People Like People Like People Like Us". Nicke Andersson from the Hellacopters is the producer and he has probably contributed quite a lot to Babies’ new sound. Now I’m not saying that they’ve totally changed, but when you’re listening to this you just don’t feel Nicke Borg’s (or Dregen’s for that matter) spit on your face as they burst out the lyrics. And it’s been a while that there’s been such a slow song as "Roads" on a BB album.

So what does this new sound offer to a long time Backyard Babies’ fan? When I was done listening to the album for the first time I felt that there’s something missing as the songs have been tamed. But then you kinda start noticing the little nuances that you probably wouldn’t if it was all in your face rock. Production does not play as big a part as it did on their previous albums and the emphasis is on the music. The other thing you notice is the lyrics. The band has put a bit more heart in them as they go through the spectrum of life from living, loving, losing to letting go.

This album may lack the intensity of the few previous albums but it does offer several highlights. “I Got Spades” has you singing along from the beginning, “Heroes & Heroines” is a bittersweet and catchy rocker whereas “The Mess Age (How Could I Be So Wrong)” has a good story and a melody to match. Then again not everything that they’ve tried works out as songs like “Cockblocker Blues” or “Things to Do Before We Die” fail to impress. With this album Backyard Babies manage to keep the loyal following happy as they are not experimenting too much but just enough to win some new fans on their side too.

TREAT: "Weapons Of Choice" 9

Universal 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
27 April 2006

Here's a real TREAT to all you fans of Scandinavian Melodic Hardrock. No matter if you wanna: "Hit The Street(s), Have A Wild Night, Rev It Up and Never See The Red Light", or if you're still living in your plastic 80's bubble: "Living In A World Of Promises, Living In A World Of Dreams And Hopes", this could easily be your "Weapon Of Choice" in 2006. I must admit that I didn't see this coming at first... a TREAT comeback in 2006? beyond my wildest dreams and especially since "Gary's" been busy with his pop production of lately.

The line-up consist today of original members: Robert Ernlund (vocals) and Anders "Gary" Wikström (guitars), joined once again by familiar faces such as: Jamie Borger (drums) and Patrick Appelgren (keyboards), and the completely "new" bassist Nalle Påhlsson (Easy Action, Tommy Nilsson, AB/CD, Matti Alfonzetti, etc). They'll even return with a bang as they've been confirmed at Sweden Rock Festival this summer and the new "Weapons Of Choice" is a 19-track compilation with 2 new songs and a "leftover" from 1989.

Going through the new songs, you'll notice that Wikström wrote them together with his Epicentre/Epicircus buddy, Fredrik Thomander. They've done a number of pop songs for a bunch of different artists in Sweden during the past ten years or so. It's not that strange either that both "I Burn For You" and "GO!", feature a more modern and updated TREAT sound. It's basically two power-pop rock songs with the typical "Epicentre" sound and formula. They are pretty darn addictive though and both "I Burn For You" and "GO!", are very catchy in that same style of the latest Sha-Boom album or uptempo Bon Jovi material. I wish they could have been slightly more "aggressive" though, it's too darn slick to be named as "hardrock", and I'm especially thinking about the rather sterile pop production (drums should be louder, guitars should be crunchier). I believe Gary's been too coloured by his pop days rather than his HARDrock days. OK, I'm complaining... but I still can't get the songs out of my head... it's catchy... really catchy!!!.

"Still In Heaven" is the previously unreleased killer song from 1989. Nope, I have no idea why they decided to remove it from the official "Organized Crime" release. It sure beats the crap outta' tracks like "Mr Heartache" or "Conspiracy" (both included here), it actually sounds more like something from the AOR-ish "The Pleasure Principle". By the way, merely three out of the sixteen "golden oldies" are from that above "TPP" album (Rev It Up, Strike Without A Warning, Ride Me High), not nearly enough in my humble, but rather harsh opinion. "Learn To Fly" is the only contribution by the Mats Levén fronted TREAT (and that's f-i-n-e by me), "We Are One", "Changes", and "Too Wild" are all from the 1985 debut "Scratch And Bite". It would have been fun if they had included the weird (first?) single version of "Too Wild", some really tacky and wacky synth/keyboard work on that one. "Get You On The Run" is one of my fave TREAT numbers, I'm however not too keen about the "Organized Crime" version. Other tracks included from the 1989 release are: "Ready For The Taking", and "Party All Over", you'll get exactly what you read with the latter. Last but not least, "Dreamhunter" is represented with the tracks "World Of Promises", "Sole Survivor", "Outlaw", and You're The One I Want". Let's face it, you'll never get *all* your personal, favourite, songs on any compilation CD out there. The 14-page booklet is filled with old photos and the background story is a real TREAT though. Let's hope for a completely new album in the near future, huh? Not too polite and poppy either, huh? - "trying to getaway from this 9 to 5 machine, no one can stop me, I'll show you what I mean"...

OOMPH!: "Glaubeliebetod" 8

Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
26 April 2006

Achtung!!! or should that be Ächtung??? Jesus Christ & the Holy Ghost, "Gott Ist Ein Popstar" is probably the catchiest pop/rock song of the year so far. The enchanting verse followed by a short bridge and a killer refrain will have singing along at the top of your lungs at no time. Nevermind the German lyrics and isn't music the universal lingo of all the citizens of the world anyhow?

OOMPH is the missing link between the two acts The Rasmus and Rammstein as they mix synths, keyboards, crunchy guitars, and catchy melodies with a slightly aggressive approach. They are not an out-n-out industrial band and the music is more easy accessible and mainstream than Rammstein. However, keep in mind that you probably need to enjoy something from both acts to truly get the full potential of "Glaubeliebetod".

"Gott Ist Ein Popstar" is unfortunately the most outstanding track of the CD and it's kind of downhill from this point on. Well, not really "downhill", since you have the excellent rock of "Das Letzt Streuchholz" and "Du Willst Ed Doch Auch", The Rasmus pop shockers "Träumst Du" and "Die Schlinge", the Marilyn Manson with a super catchy pop chorus inspired "Mein Schatz", and closing track, "Zuviel Liebe Kann Dich Töten" that turns out to be way more Depeche Mode than Rammstein actually. Not to forget the refreshing, but not fresh "Tanz In Den Tod". Ehem, looking back it's quite obvious that I pretty much enjoy the entire album. It's just that "Gott Ist Ein Popstar" are one of those perfect "modern" rock songs and also the perfect mix between The Rasmus and Rammstein. The rest are all from decent to excellent songs and the rating ends up at a strong "8" (very close to a "9"). The music have once again gone a complete and full circle, The Rasmus started out heavily inspired by Sweden's Kent, Kent dito with Germany's Depeche Mode, and OOMPH picks up all the small bits and pieces of Goth, Metal, and 80's synth. [For the record: "Achtung" is the German word for "Warning", while "Ächtung" is more to "Condemn" someone or something].

PINK: "I'm Not Dead" 7

SonyBMG 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
27 April 2006

I was more than a little sceptical about this album, thanks to the first single "Stupid Girls". As clever as the lyrics (and the video) are, the song itself is just about the most annoying ditty of the year. Still, after I learned that both Butch Walker and Max Martin were involved in the songwriting, I just had to check this out...and there's no denying that Pink has recorded a few rather cool modern rock songs previously, like "Just Like A Pill" and "Try So Hard". So I was thinking..."this album might have a few good rock songs among the hiphop/pop/latin/rock hybrids, right?". I don't get my hopes up when it comes to these chart hit albums...

For once I didn't get what I expected. Thankfully, "Stupid Girls" does not represent the album at all, and the rest of it is mostly rock-oriented stuff. Both Walker and Martin have co-written a standout track each, and their other compositions are worthy of checking out as well. Most of the songs have been co-written by Pink and Billy Mann though. The name of Billy Mann seems to pop up on most of the pop/rock hit albums of today...I guess he is one of the "new generation of song doctors".

Once you get past the "Stupid Girls" which opens the album, you'll be treated to a couple of really good modern rock tracks. "Who Knew" is a Pink/Martin/Gottwald tune and it features a cool chorus hook, trademark Max Martin stuff, while "Long Way To Be Happy" is a sure-fire hit from Pink and Butch Walker. If this balladic track isn't a single I'll be very surprised. "Nobody Knows" and "Dear Mr. President" are both slower songs and I don't rate them among my favourites, but "I'm Not Dead" I do rate as a highlight. The chorus is quite surprising, but it works all the same.

The second Max Martin-track is "Cuz I Can". This bouncy little number doesn't really appeal to me, and it's clearly the weakest of the three Martin co-writes. "Leave Me Alone (I'm Lonely)" is the second Butch Walker-composition, and somehow it reminds me of eighties' new wave pop-rock. "U & Ur Hand", the third song from Max Martin's hit machine is the best one of them all, with a terrific chorus and attitude-filled lyric. Oddly enough, the intro reminded me of "Who Let The Dogs Out"...and I believe that is against the laws of humanity, isn't it?

There's just one rock track left, and that's "Runaway", a very decent song penned by Pink and Billy Mann, although it does sound like every other pop rock hit of the last 12 months...then we get a trio of rather introspective and understated songs, out of which my vote goes to "Conversations With My 13 Year Old Self" with its' finely orchestrated arrangement. "I Got Money Now" isn't bad either, and the lyrics are really thought-provoking. There are things which are more important than money...

The international version includes a bonus track "Fingers", an okay pop-rock-dance hybrid. I guess all versions include the "hidden bonus track" of "I've Seen The Rain", which Pink recorded with his father. It's completely different to the rest of the album, a 60'ies folk track.

To sum it up...The dreaded hiphop elements are nowhere to be found and the rock elements are all over the place...not bad at all. I'm not totally sold on all of the songs and I do hate that damn "Stupid Girls" track, but still, a good release.

VENI DOMINE: "23:59" 7

MCM Music 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
24 April 2006

The latest CD from Sweden's Veni Domine is a slightly darker and moodier effort than previous attempts. They have crossed over the bridge of progressive music and turned left for the city of gothic pleasures. Not always a winning concept in my ears as the melodies have almost become too depressive and gloomy at times. Cheer up boys, it's not like you're playing at your own funeral... or??? Then again, "23:59" is a grower though and you need to spin this several times and then let it all sink in for a while.

Opening track "Like I'm Crucified" is a desperate cry for (your) attention. It's strangely beautiful and almost scary looking with its marvelous doomy beat and musical drama in the vein of Type O'Negative. Fredrik Sjöholm is without a question one of the best hardrock singers from Sweden and "Like I'm Crucified" is a top class tune. "Shine" where Sjöholm sings like a pure metal version of King Diamond is simply too dark/depressive in the end. "Patience, Recieve" is more back-to-the-roots with "Fall Babylon Fall" and "Material Sanctuary", the sound of Queensryche is very present here and will also stay in the back of your mind.

"Valley Of The Visions" is probably the best ballad they've ever recorded. The refrain is actually very sentimental and fellow Swedes of Evergrey must be having nightmares about this song (why didn't we come up with such a great ballad on our new album?). "Living Sequence" is a mid-tempo number that fits nicely in with Queensryche's "Jet City Woman" and more laidback doom metal of the past. Bottomline: Yes, "23:59" is possible too moody and gloomy for the best of your health at times. However, you simply can't look past the excellent craftsmanship that lies behind all the epic doom/goth/progressive melodies. When you're in the right mood and in need of some belly button exploring, Veni Domine is the perfect remedy (thought worthy metal in other words).

KARA: "Pahat Kielet" 6

SonyBMG 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
27 April 2006

A while ago I reviewed a single from ANKARA, and quite liked it. "Pahat Kielet" is their full album, and they've now officially going by the name of KARA.

My first impression of the band was that they sound like a typical Finnish rock band with a more "metalized" sound, and I think that's still a pretty accurate description. There are traces of Don Huonot, Neljä Ruusua and Trio Niskalaukaus in their music, yet their heavier approach gives them a bit of an edge. What's more, there are some rather cool melodies, hooks and keyboard fills in their songs.

The best songs are on the first half of the album, including the radio hits "Pahat Kielet" and "Järkäle". My favourite song though is track number three, the catchy and energetic "Todenpuhuja". This might be a possible single candidate, with its' excellent chorus. Cool keyboard work too.

Somehow listening to the whole album seems to be a bit of a hard task, as the last few songs tend to blur into each other. The "Finn-rock" influences seem to be stronger too. For example, "Ihminen" sounds like a thinly disguised Neljä Ruusua -tribute, with that band's trademark monotonous vocal melodies.

Kara might just have the sound that several Finnish rock fans might be looking for - the missing link between Finnish mainstream rock and modern Metal. It's not necessarily what I'm looking for, but I'm sure that they'll find their audience.


SPV 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
24 April 2006

Beyond Fear is the brand new metal project with ex-Judas Priest singer, Tim "Ripper" Owens. Bassist Dennis Hayes (Seven Witches) is an old friend of Ripper since the Winter's Bane days and most of the material has been written together with guitarist John Comprix. When they play their music fast, it's blindingly so, and when they're crunching along at medium pace, the mosh pit will still be crowded to the extreme. Beyond Fear's brand of hell-bent-for-leather whiplashing metal will obviously have you thinking about Judas Priest (duh!). Only to a certain point though as you'll also get a portion of "Cowboys From Hell" era Pantera (hey, it actually rhymes), and even some old fashioned Thrash.

There's absolutely no point in trying to find anything else beside(s) Judas Priest into the opening track "Scream Machine" though. Owen even admits this with saying: "Scream Machine is about a metal machine, a monster that shows where my influences come from". This number is in the style of "Painkiller" and would also have suited "Jugulator". There you go folks, it's all about a metal monster and we've all transformed into ten year old kids again? Ehem, this is probably the very reason to why "normal folks" are laughing and pointing at metal acts and their imagitive agenda. Nontheless, it kicks like a mule to the head and will soon leave you for dead (note to myself: you're not funny, enuff with the lame '50 Cent' impression).

"Save Me" is a crunching number in the vein of Pantera (during Cowboys Of Hell), "The Human Race" is even more of the same and "Dreams Come True" is a nice semi-ballad. It actually sounds like a mix of Iced Earth (Where The Eagle Cries) and Bruce Dickinson's "Navigate The Seas Of The Sun" (from his latest solo album). "You're Time Has Come" is also metal in the vein of Bruce Dickinson and "Telling Lies" is an old fashioned 80's song with some Thrash Metal riffing on top of it all. "I Don't Need This" sounds like something from the first 'Fight' album with Rob Halford. Pretty average stuff with a couple of cool tempo changes, but mostly a boring idea thrown into the old metal blender (hold the ice, plese). Bottomline, "DTO" is overall an ok metal outing with great production and guitar riffing by Comprix & Bihary. I miss however some really catchy metal numbers to shout-along-to. Decent... but no real spark in the dark.


Eagle/Spitfire 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
24 April 2006

Slave To The System is a collaboration between Brother Cane bassist Roman Glick, vocalist Damon Johnson and current and former members of Queensryche (Kelly Gray: guitars, Scott Rockenfeld: drums). What they have created on this platter is a mix of melodies and various arrangements in the vein of Audioslave and Soundgarden (Down On The Upside). Not *that* strange perhaps as they both feature(d) Chris Cornell on lead vocals.

There's probably enough of Brother Cane melodies to please the old fan, however, Slave To The System is definitely more metal though and you need to be into the whole she-bang with "Audioslave" styled hardrock. Do however not and I repeat NOT expect to find any Queensryche influences here as you will only end up disappointed. Slave To The System is a nicely crafted album that focuses more on groove and vibe than catchiness at first.

Not that you can't sing along to the likes of "Ruby Wednesday" or the moody "Live Your Life", it's just that they haven't written any "hit" list material on the first part of the album. "Cruz Out Of Control" is very much the sound of "Badmotherfinger", complete with slamming drums and a mean, vibrating bass guitar at the very front of the sound picture. My favourite tunes will have to be the 'Red Hot Chili Pepper' sounding ballads, "Abyss" and "Gone Today", well, at least how they used to record them in the early 90's. "Disinfected" is a more basic 80's hardrock tune and really, the second part of the album, the last seven songs, are easily the best ones. They should have turned the tables around and switched the tracklisting completely. Not too many uptempo rockers towards the end, but it's all decent stuff. I'm actually quite surprised by the 'laidback' material.

DEEP PURPLE: "Live At Montreux"

Eagle Records 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
27 April 2006

Deep Purple, the first band ever to play at "Stonehedge", the opening ceremony with a bunch of drunken druids in the audience is still a much loved and talked about event. Seriously though, they've been around the block for a while and we all know of them as excellent musicians. However, "Live At Montreux" is yet another live album with the same old repertoire as in the last couple of centuries (sigh - with the exception of a couple of "new" tracks).

I have no idea exactly how many live recordings at how many different record labels that you can buy nowadays. It feels like a couple of thousand though and they all have the same (more or less) tracklisting. They all feature "Smoke On The Water", "Black Night", "Woman From Tokyo", "Speed King", "Fireball", the manditory, yet superb hammond work and solos by Jon Lord (this was recorded back in 1996), and the air-siren vocals by Ian Gillan.

I do not question the skill of the musicians nor the material since I'm definitely into Deep Purple. On the other hand, why should even the most die-hard DP fan bother to buy all these live albums??? I never quite understood the point with having a dozen of live recordings with the same old songs? (even though it should happen to be your favourite band). I can't speak for the DVD version though.

CELTIC FROST: "Monotheist"

Century Media 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
26 April 2006

It's been fourteen long years since we last could hear a new album with Celtic Frost. Not that I could actually enjoy the music on "Monotheist", since Century Media have done a complete no-no here. Who came up with the brilliant idea to include a long friggin' *beep* tone every 20th second??? Sure, record labels are desperately trying to find "improved" and better ways to stop people from uploading their material on the web. Believe it or not, many so called "reviewers" are uploading music and selling their promo-only CD's to highest bidder at eBay (or anywhere else for that matter).

However, I'm sure there are other ways to stop these buggers (ehem, to receive free promos from your label: have people to sign contracts with you and their internet provider). I know, I know, "that would be against everything the world wide web stands for". Could anyone then please explain to me why any music reviewer would upload promo CD after CD on the net???

I had to slip this straight down the trash can as I simply couldn't stand listening to those awful beeps. They really need to sit down and seriously discuss this matter. Who (in their right mind) would want to listen to a promo CD with a four second long *beep* tone every friggin' 20th second??? This is beyond silly, unacceptable, and a friggin' joke to any "serious" music lover. Wait a minute... could it be that "Mr. Beep Tone" is simply just a new member of the band??? Well, excuse me for being ignorant... friggin' brilliant performance by "Mr. Beep Tone" and a perfect 10 rating all over.

MÖTLEY CRÜE: "Carnival Of Sins"

SPV 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
26 April 2006

Bummer, they're opening up the show with the *1997* version of "Shout At The Devil"!!!??? What the heck were they thinking about? didn't anyone bother to inform them that *everybody* dislikes the re-recording of 1983' classic Crüe? OK, we're off to a really dodgey start and things can only improve to the better, right?

Sure enough, credit to the boys for staying true to their sleazy colors and most importantly their best material. In fact, the first seven tracks on disc one are all from their first two (and best) albums. They're going through classy numbers such as "Too Fast For Love", "Ten Seconds To Love", "Red Hot", "On With The Show", "Too Young To Fall In Love", "Looks That Kill", and you're all of a sudden back on the right track again. The production is pretty straight forward and you even get a feeling of being in the audience at times.

Which brings us to a rather "important" factor, "Carnival Of Sins", is it all about nostalgia? a cozy trip back in time??? Absolutely, but there's no denying either that Mötley Crüe recorded their best stuff early on and became worse along with their drug habits. They managed to get the King Kong sized monkey off their backs during "Dr.Feelgood", which also resulted in one of their best records. Going through the tracklisting, you'll notice that 14 out of 23 tracks are taken from the three albums, "Too Fast For Love", "Shout At The Devil" and "Dr.Feelgood". And to be honest, they could easily have included half a dozen more of them.

They're doing most of their hit ballads and the audience sings "Home Sweet Home" louder than Vince Neil at times. By the way, Neil is probably the best worst hardrock singer to ever had this much success. Well, not really, he's a better singer live than Joe Elliott (Def Leppard) though. I kind of miss "You're All I Need" from all of their ballads and I never quite understood why they would end the show with two covers??? (Helter Skelter - Beatles, Anarchy In The U.K. - Sex Pistols). All you kids and bands out there, don't do Cover Songs - just say NO!!!

WIG WAM: "Wig Wamania" 9

Voices Of Wonder 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
24 April 2006

"Wig Wamania is everywhere"...well, our household has been under attack for some time now, and thanks to this album, it won't go away anytime soon. Wig Wam made their mark in last year's Eurovision Song Contest, yet many hard rock fans were already familiar with their brilliance. Their first album was originally released a couple of years ago under the title of "667 - The Neighbor of The Beast". It recieved rave reviews, but a few people were pretty sceptical about the bands' ridiculous image. Well, they still look as odd as always, but there's nothing ridiculous about their music.

The first four songs of the album are a breathtaking display of Wig Wam's best qualities. Explosive choruses, great melodies, awesome vocals (both lead and background), powerful axemanship and a solid backbeat. "Rock My Ride" is the first one of these killer tracks, a really hard rocking yet very catchy glam metal anthem, while "Slave To Your Love" showcases the band's ballad repertoire. I was surprised to get a balladic track so early in the tracklisting, but it works really well all the same. The song has a bit of a modern rock edge to it, somehow reminding me of The Rasmus actually. "Gonna Get You Someday" was the first single, and it's an obvious choice - the chorus is very instant and infectious. A contender for the "Song Of The Year" title in my books...the chorus does borrow a lot from Alice Cooper's "Bed Of Nails", but isn't recycling a good thing? "Bygone Zone" is another balladic track, and another "Song Of The Year" candidate. This song has a bit of a Def Leppard-vibe, but credit where credit's due, the melody lines are rather original and take nice twists and turns along the way.

The remaining songs can't really match quality the four hits, but most of them are still quite excellent, catchy party rockers with the token ballad amongst them. Special mentions must go to "Kill My Rock'n Roll" which is a feel-good rocker along the lines of "Crazy Crazy Nights" by Kiss, Teeny's instrumental showcase "The Riddle" and the ballad "At The End Of The Day". The "heavy metal parody" of "Breaking All The Rules" I could have done without, although the lyrics are funny.

Compared to the first album (all three versions of it), this is easily as good an album, probably even a touch better. The production is brilliant, and the artwork is top notch as well. Now the one question is...the band recieved 12 points from Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest, yet this album hasn't been released here yet. What gives?

JOE BONAMASSA: "Live At Rock Palast DVD" 9

Provogue 2006
Review by martien Koolen,
26 April 2006

If you have read my review on the new Bonamassa CD then you know that I really dig this American young blues guitar picker. He now releases his first DVD, which was recorded in June 2005 in Germany for the legendary TV rockshow called Rockpalast.

The DVD is packed with 11 songs, of which 7 are covers by the way, and the performance is so alive and kicking that you have the feeling that you are in the audience while watching this recording. Joe’s guitar playing is just amazing and I really get shivers down my spine every time he starts playing one of his many solos. I especially like his own compositions “Takin’ The Hit”, “Mountain Time”, “The River’ and the brand new song “I Don’t Live Anywhere”, which are examples of blues rock at the highest level!

Normally I hate covers and I was surprised when I heard/saw Joe play instrumental versions of two Yes classic songs “Heart Of The Sunrise” and “Starship Trooper”. Man, this guy can play, leaving Steve Howe in the dark actually…… Further highlights are “Blues Deluxe” and “Burning Hell”, showing Joe’s raw and energetic performance at his best. If you like guitar playing and blues rock then you should buy this DVD and play it f……. LOUD!!!!

VARIOUS ARTISTS OST: "Rocky IV" (re-issue) 8

SonyBMG 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
24 April 2006

When it comes to eighties' movie soundtracks, there are few album which are as legendary as this one. The Stallone blockbuster might not be the best movie ever made, but the soundtrack is something special.

Following the success of "Eye Of The Tiger" on Rocky III soundtrack, Survivor were again asked to write songs for this album. They took the opportunity (who wouldn't have!) and penned the classic "Burning Heart". This stomping AOR anthem became one of their biggest hits and helped that band to maintain their status as one of the biggest bands of the mid-eighties. Also on this re-issue are two other Survivor tracks, "Eye Of The Tiger" and the ballad "Man Against The World". It was also written for the movie but wasn't featured in it.

From an AOR fans' point of view, the album features a few other classics as well. Robert Tepper's "No Easy Way Out" is an all-time classic, featuring suberb vocals from this very underrated singer. "The Sweetest Victory" by an obscure US act Touch (not Mark Mangold's band) ranks among my favourite "undiscovered soundtrack classics", sounding like a hard-edged Journey. John Cafferty's "Hearts On Fire" isn't quite as classic, but still a very decent track, and I quite like the instrumental "Training Montage" by Vince DiCola too. Kenny Loggins seemed to be on every other soundtrack of the eighties, and of course he's on this one as well, dueting with Gladys Knight. Their song "Double Or Nothing" is one the weaker ones here though. And I must say that I don't like James Brown's "Living In America" at all...

GLYDER: "Glyder" 8

Megarock 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
26 April 2006

Glyder is a classic rock band from Ireland and their debut album is filled with whipping riffs, blending chords, handsome stances and a flux of lyrics reminding me of one of my favorite rock bands of all times: Thin Lizzy. “Colour Of Money” opens this fresh eponymous CD and right from the start you are into Glyder’s accessible rock music. It is a punchy track with esque guitar harmonies and the clear voice of the singer brings back memories of rock legend Phil Lynott…..

“PUP” has a typical old classic Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak” intro, followed by melodic twin guitar solos and lots of melody. “Saving Face” even has riffs that could belong to Gotthard or Blue Cheer. “One For The Lost” is a ballad-like song and is probably the least interesting song on this album.

The last three songs are without any doubt the “best of the rest”, “Takin’ Off” features a Lizzy-intro again, followed by a real addictive chorus and a fabulous wah-wah solo. During “Die Or Dance” the guitars dominate and this will probably turn into a real live killer. The last song opens with an acoustic guitar intro, followed by a nice guitar melody with lots of amazing vocals and Black Rose”-like guitar passages. A great debut, especially if you like Thin Lizzy (the memories flood back while listening to this CD) and radio friendly hard rock with a dual guitar team. Forget about the Darkness and listen to Glyder, these guys make serious and really great rock music.

Jill YAN: "B4" 8

Indie 2006
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
25 April 2006

The second independent effort from Swiss guitarist Jill Yan picks up where the first one left off: it is quality progressive instrumental rock with different influences from jazz to blues. However it is to note that the overall approach of songwriting and the sound of the album are very modern; in a good sense of the word.

Compared to the first effort this one is an obvious band effort with Ivan De Luce helping Jill out on bass and Franz Hirt on drums. This makes the songs come to life and there's some stunning performance from these two musicians as well. The songs are generally rather long with various themes. Personal favorites were the moody "Ab & Co", the almost 10 minutes long "Dog's Way", a song to sum Jill's music pretty much up, and the heavily Satriani flavored "Too Early".

All in all the second album is definitely heavier with a more aggressive sound and partially it is due to the band approach. In "Where's The Paper" Franz plays pretty much like Lars Ulrich back in the days when he actually could play the drums and Jill's guitar sound is either psychedelically clean or has a biting rough edge to crush. For those who haven't heard the first effort: Try to give the above-mentioned "Dog's Day" a try because if you like that one, you'll like the entire album. For fans of more melodic approach, "Too Early" is the only choice on the album that brings the mood of the classic "Rubina" by Satch back. Verdict: solid effort, not melodic enough for my taste but definitely very professional in its own genre. Recommended indeed.

WETTON/DOWNES: "Icon Acoustic TV Broadcast" CD: 8 / DVD: 2

Frontiers 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
24 April 2006

The successful re-union of original ASIA members John Wetton and Geoff Downes has lead to an acoustic live album and a DVD. On this album, they perform classic Asia songs and tracks from last years' "Icon" album, accompanied by guests such as cello player Hugh McDowell and vocalist Annie Haslam.

I wasn't sure whether I'd be bored to death by this album or whether I'd actually like it. At worst, acoustic albums are very tiresome, but luckily this one isn't one of them. The new arrangements are interesting, and they really showcase that the duo has written some fine melodies. Had this been a "normal" live album with faithful arrangements to the originals, I believe it would have ended being played a few times for a review, and then never again...that's not the case with this album - I may actually dig it up from the collection every now and then, when I'm in the mood for something soothing and relaxing.

The highlights are undoubtedly those classic Asia tracks, such as "Heat Of The Moment", "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes" and "Don't Cry", but the newer tracks blend in quite nicely as well. The tracklisting is well balanced between the new songs and the old hits.

The accompanying DVD however...this will put one to sleep! It features Downes, Wetton and McDowell in a dull TV-studio environment, performing these songs...We're supposed to believe that these songs were recorded during this performance, but to me it looks like they're doing it playback. Especially Wetton looks rather uncomfortable, and it's funny to notice that Annie Haslam has been replaced by one Amy Clark! This DVD is a totally pointless release, and I fail to see how anyone could find any entertainment value in it.


Frontiers Records 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
26 April 2006

Back in 1988 guitar player Aldo Giuntini met producer Dario Mollo and their cooperation completed in Giuntini’s first solo project. In 1996 Aldo approached Tony Martin and after two years of hard work “Project Vol.2” was released. The album got loads of excellent reviews and now after another few years of hard work the third Project finally hits the market. The band again consists of Tony Martin, Ezio Secomandi (drums), Dario Patti (keyboards) and Fulvio Gaslini (bass).

I would say that it is a great album filled with classic hard and heavy music with dominating guitar riffs and solos, of course! “Gold Digger” kicks off the album and it really reminds me of Rainbow, traditional hard rock, up tempo, with great vocals and a rather nice guitar solo. The first real highlight of this CD is a song called “Que Es La Vida”, a mid tempo power ballad with amazing vocals, a heavenly solo and lots of great riffs and guitar melodies. That one really brings back memories of Black Sabbath during their Tyr/Cross Purposes period!. Second highlight is the first instrumental song “Tutmosis 4”, filled with lots of fast, melodic guitar solos which sound like Malmsteen or Mac alpine.

A real surprise is the Black Sabbath song “Anno Mundi” from the fantastic album “Tyr”(1990), a song that still gives me shivers down my spine, due to the fantastic performance of Tony Martin. The second instrumental “Memories In The Sand” is again a beautiful guitar highlight. Aldo’s guitar playing is really outstanding, making this album a must for guitar lovers!

FATAL FORCE: "Fatal Force" 7

MTM 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
26 April 2006

The Danish super guitar player Torben Enevoldsen released his third instrumental CD just last year and I truly loved that album. Now he brings out an album with vocals and for that job he chose no less than Swedish hard rock singer Mats Leven. He has worked with bands like At Vance, Therion and of course Yngwie Malmsteen. The band, called Fatal Force, is completed by drummer Daniel Flores, who is known from bands like Mind’s Eye and Faro.

The music on this debut album can best be described as classic hard rock with a slight metal touch. The album opens with a mid tempo head banging song called “Caveman”, followed by the classic hard rock track “Domino”, a great song featuring a rather long explosive guitar solo. “Far Away” is the “obligatory” ballad and starts with a melodic guitar solo, followed by a very catchy chorus. “No Question” kicks off with a metal intro before it turns into a real metal hymn. “Out Of Fuel” is loaded with addictive riffs, followed by a rather mediocre song called “Let Me Know”.

“Everyone” is a typical sing-along hard rock hymn, but is gets annoying after a minute or two….. However, “Insanity”, is filled with sparkling solos again and during the rather dull ballad “The Only One” Torben saves that song with his heavenly guitar picking.

All in all a rather excellent melodic hard rock CD, produced by Tommy Hansen (Helloween, TNT, Jorn Lande, Pretty Maids), so you know what you get! Rock on dudes!!


AOR Heaven 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
26 April 2006

These two musicians already played together on an album called “UnderCover 2” which was released in 1999. Since that album Turner and Kajiyama have cooperated on further albums like “Holy Man”(2000) and “Slam”. Akira also played some guitar during the Japanese tour of HTP (Hughes/Turner Project) and this, among others, led to recording “Fire Without Flame”. On this new CD Akira played all the instruments and he also did the production, making this a brilliant hard rock album for all the fans of bands like HTP, Deep Purple, Rainbow and Yngwie Malmsteen.

The CD starts with the up-tempo Rainbow-like “One Day Away”, a rather catchy song with a very speedy Malmsteen-like guitar solo. “Fire Without Flame” features a classic familiar Rainbow guitar riff and it really sounds like a song that I have heard before somewhere in the past. “Heart Against Heart” is the “obligatory” ballad with astonishing vocals, however it really sounds like an eighties/nineties hard rock cliché!

In fact all the songs sound so familiar and although the band is great and the music is performed extremely well, I still have a deja-vu feeling with every song I hear. Especially a song like “Down and Dirty” could have been on the Rainbow album “Difficult To Cure” and “Slow Burn” kicks off with a “Burn” guitar intro, so…. Well played and really well sung, I think that Turner is still one of the best rock singers in the world, but if I had to give a mark for originality it would be a 3 or something like that! However, according to the biography of the record label this is an essential release for any fan of Deep Purple, Rainbow, HTP & Joe Lynn Turner’s solo work. You decide!

EMPIRE: "The Raven Ride" 7

Metal Heaven 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
26 April 2006

Back in 2001 Empire released their first album called “Hypnotica” and because the response and the reviews were great the band is now on the brink of bringing out their third album, which is named “The Raven Ride”. The band on this new album consists of : Tony Martin (vocals), Rolf Munkes (guitar), Neil Murray (bass guitar) and Andre Hilgers (drums).

On the CD are 10 brand new songs which are a mix of hard rock, metal and mainstream rock, especially comparable with a band like Black Sabbath, mainly due of course to the voice of Martin. The album opens with the title track of the album, a track filled with typical metal Black Sabbath-like riffs, astonishing vocals and a rather “hollow” sound. “Breathe” is also a classic hard rock/metal song with dramatic singing and some strange heavy breathing, which almost sounds like Darth Vader to me.

Best songs are “Satanic Curses” (classic metal from the Black Sabbath Tyr-period), “Carbon Based Lifeform” (with a howling guitar solo), “The Devil Speaks, The Sinner Cries” (real power rock with screaming vocals, very bombastic and a splendid guitar solo) and the earlier mentioned title track. A must for lovers of the throat of Tony Martin, who really kicks some ass, and screams and sings at the top of his voice!

LUCA TURILLI: "The Infinite Wonders Of Creation" 6

Magic Circle Music/SPV 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
26 April 2006

With this third solo album lead guitarist, co-composer and co-founder of Rhapsody, Luca Turilli, ends his epic trilogy. It started with “King Of The Nordic Light” in 1999, followed by “Prophet Of The Last Eclipse”. This new album is in fact a symphony dedicated to mother nature and the music on this album is in fact rather classical with lots of opera-like female vocals, choirs, bombastic gothic-like passages and lots of drama and emotion.

Just listen to songs like “Secrets Of Forgotten Ages”, “Mother Nature”, “Pyramids And Stargates”, “Mystic And Divine” or the title track and you think that you are in the middle of an Italian opera! “Altitudes” is a real tearjerker with lots of pathos and emotional female vocals.

The only songs that remind me of Rhapsody (a band that I really like) are “The Miracle Of Life” and “Cosmic Revelation”; at least these songs have a certain metal feeling to it. However most of the song material is too bombastic, and musically rather dull. Where are the guitar solos and where is the musical diversity?? In fact this is a rather disappointing album and I think that it is not even suitable for real die-hard Rhapsody fans.

MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP: "25 Years Celebration" 9

Armageddon Music 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
21 April 2006

I have always been a Michael Schenker fan, I always loved his melodic and aggressive way of playing the guitar. His years with UFO and albums like “Force It”(1975) or “Strangers In The Night”(1978) are still sheer magic and especially his guitar solos on that magical double live album are almost second to none (“Rock Bottom”!!). In 1980 Michael founded the Michael Schenker Group (MSG) and the debut album with a.o. Gary Barden and Simon Phillips hit me in the face like a sledgehammer! And now 25 years after the release of that brilliant MSG debut Michael brings out “Tales Of Rock ‘N Roll – 25 Years Celebration”; a brand new album with 19 songs!

The CD features every vocalist who has sung with MSG, so you can enjoy Kelly Keeling, Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley, Leif Sundin, Chris Logan and the new singer of the MSG Jari Tiura. The latter one is from Finland and he contributed the vocal parts to 13 of the 19 songs. His voice is a mix between Ronnie James Dio, Bruce Dickinson, Mark Boals and Tony Martin, so he sounds like a true classic hard rock singer, which is something that Michael Schenker was looking for, of course...

The albums starts with a song called “The Ride”, featuring an almost classic UFO rock guitar intro, followed by a few amazing solos and high pitched vocal parts; what a way to start an album!! The entire album is filled with sparkling, breath taking and astonishing guitar solos, riffs, melodies and shreds, making this album a must for guitar lovers. Listen to Michael playing his ass off in tracks like “Dust To Dust”, “Love Trade”, “Bitter Sweet” or the absolute highlight of this album “Freedom”! The “old” MSG singers shine in: “Angel Of Avalon”(Leif Sundin), “Dreams Inside”(Chris Logan), “Life Vacation”(Gary Barden), “Rock ‘N Roll”(Graham Bonnet) and “Tell A Story”(Robin McAuley). Especially Logan and Sundin do a great job, the other three singers do their job, but they add nothing special. Further highlights of this album are the instrumental “Life Goes On”, “Voice Of My Heart” and “Journey Man”; tracks that are really special, due to the fantastic vocal parts and the heavenly guitar picking.

Further worth mention is the rest of the MSG band that played on this record, consisting of: Pete Way (ex-UFO, bass guitar), Jeff Martin (ex-Racer X, drums) and Wayne Findlay (guitars and keyboards). However on the upcoming European Tour, which I am really looking forward to, Way and Martin are “replaced” by Rev Jones and Pete Holmes.

Three years ago Michael Schenker surprised me with his marvelous MSG album called “Aracnophobiac”, but now with this new album he simply blows me of my feet!! Buy or die, one of the best true classic rock albums I have heard in a long time!!

LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM: "Winter In Paradise" 8

Escape Music 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
20 April 2006

The "all-star" group Last Autumn's Dream got a good start with their first album a couple of years ago, but their second album ("II", 2005) was a mediocre effort. The band has probably taken a closer look at what they want to achieve with this one, and sure enough, the song selection is much stronger. As with the previous two albums, I'm not won over by the production though. It sounds a bit messy at times. Still, it's just as good as 90 per cent of these albums released on melodic rock labels.

The line-up on the album is pretty much the same as on "II" - Michael Erlandsson on vocals, Andy Malecek on guitars and the rhythm section from Talisman, Marcel Jacob (bass) and Jamie Borger (drums). There's no keyboard player credited, although there's plenty of keys featured.

Now, let's go though the songs...the band doesn't settle on one particular style, but somehow they make all the songs sound like "a part of the package". There's variety, but the album doesn't sound as much like a mixed bag as the first one. The album opens with one of the highlights, the excellent "Love To Go", which is blessed with serious amounts of melody and a truly terrific chorus. It's a shame that the production isn't on the best level on this track, otherwise we'd be talking about "the song of the year"! Now it's merely a top-20 contender.

"Don't Let Our Love Go Down" should be familiar to AOR fans, as it was featured on the excellent Alfonzetti release a few years ago. A very good feel-good AOR track. The ballad "The Way You Smile" is very good as well, and that goes for the modern pop-rocker "When She's Gone" too. They're both a bit overshadowed by the ultra-catchy "My Heart Keeps Stalling", which reminds me strongly of Kharma, the short-lived band of Göran Edman. There's also a strong ABBA vibe in this song!

"Echoes From The Past" is a short piano-ballad which sounds like a tribute to Queen (the band, that is), with rather impressive vocal arrangement. The album's title track might as well be a distant cousin of first album's "Again and Again", and there's nothing wrong about that - both are killer tracks with killer hooks! The contemporary ballad "I Don't Want To Hurt You" has "radio-hit" written all over it, and Erlandsson sounds a bit like Lauri Ylönen of The Rasmus on this track. "If You're The One" is another ballad with hit-potential, but with a bit harder-edged style than "I Don't...". Two tracks left to be mentioned, and they are the reasons I'm only awarding this album an "8". "All I Want Is Rock'n Roll" and "Love Is The Answer" sound like fillers to my ears, both have monotonous and dull choruses...

I was afraid that the poorly recieved second album might have been the end of this band's story, but I'm glad it wasn't. If you liked their first album, but were disappointed by the second one, I can honestly say that the band is back on track again, and you can go shopping safely!

SURVIVOR: "Reach" 6

Frontiers 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
17 April 2006

It's kind of hard to believe that Frontiers have recently signed basically most of the biggest AOR bands of the eighties - Journey, Toto and now Survivor. If you go back a few years, they were just one of the few small labels who were releasing melodic rock albums to a small audience. They must have done something right...

I was expecting a lot of this release. Out of the aforementioned three big AOR bands Survivor has always been my favourite, and I quite like most of their releases - even the "fake Survivor" album "Empires" from vocalist Jimi Jamison's version of the band. And sure enough, "Reach" starts very promisingly with two very solid melodic rock tracks, both carrying all the trademarks of classic Survivor. I believe that "Fire Makes Steel" actually dates to the early nineties, when keyboard player and songwriter Jim Peterik was still in the band, so that might explain the classic, recognizable sound.

Next up we have "Nevertheless". A likeable but ultimately forgettable track sung by guitarist Frankie Sullivan. No offence to Sullivan, but why does he sing lead when there's arguably one of the finest AOR vocalists of all time in the band? His thin voice just can't really be compared to that of Jamison. Besides, the song sounds more like 38 Special jamming with REO Speedwagon than Survivor.

Jamison is back behind the microphone for the balladic "Seconds Away", but he can't save the song for being totally bland. "One More Chance" is a bit better, but I can't help but think that it's "AOR by numbers" for a band of Survivor's stature. "Gimmie The Word" sounds much better than the previous few songs, and it proves that the band can rock hard too. Yeah, this is more like it!

The pace is slowed down again with "The Rhythm Of Your Heart", a decent ballad but I guess it's fair to say that this won't be a Survivor classic of tomorrow. "I Don't" is more urgent and more uptempo,'s just okay. And then it's again time for a ballad..."Half Of My Heart" sounds like a thinly disguised country song actually, something that Lonestar or Garth Brooks might record. Not too bad though...just okay.

"Talkin' 'Bout Love" ranks among the best songs of the album, but I can not understand why Sullivan is singing it. He does an okay job, but still...why do we have to settle for that? "Don't Give Up" is another highlight, one of the harder-edged rockers of the album, and lyrically it kind of reminds me of those two "Rocky" songs. It would have been a good closing number, ending the album on a high note, but for some reason, we're subjected to one more ballad. "Home" is probably the weakest song of the album, a boring blues/country-hybrid that doesn't sound too much like Survivor.

As happy as I am that one of my favourite bands has re-activated themselves, I am not too overwhelmed by this album. Still, at least there's hope that one day I might be able to see this band live, now that they are back in the game again.


* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 11-15/06 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 11-15/06 * * * * *
Sodom, Blue Tears, The Quill, Fate, Fatal Smile, Moonspell, Perishing Mankind., Ignite, Silver Dirt, Brüssel Kaupallinen, Scott Stapp, Joe Bonamassa, Beautiful Creatures, Loud Crowd, One Eye Shut, Anti-flag, Cronian, Petrus, Train, Liberty'n Justice, Andersen/Laine/Readman, Alexa, Ian Parry's Visions, Lovex, Living Things, Medusa, X-Prophets, Shaka Ponk, Jim Peterik, Lordi, Astral Doors, Pure Inc., Annihilator DVD, Frontline, (Robby) Valentine, Warrant, Kinrick, Death Before Disco, Blackmore's Night, Witchery, Samel, Von Groove debut, Black Rose, Saracen and Paul Raymond (UFO).

* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 6-10/06 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 6-10/06 * * * * *
Shadowman, Vandenplas, Blue Tears, Troels Skovgaard, Evergrey, The Flower Kings, Curt Shaw, Main Attraction, Umphrey's McGee, Marcel Coenen, Lacuna Coil single, Jorn, Kilpi, Sabu, Phenomena, Dragonforce, Legs Diamond (x2), Bloodbound, Toto, Speedy Gonzales, Sodom, Danny Peyronel, Sabre, Eric Burdon, Platitude and Eric Mantel.

* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 1-5/06 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 1-5/06 * * * * *
Devin Townsend, Age Of Nemesis, Ten, Rush, Jadis, Altaria, Diablo, Pump, Fireball Ministry, Zero Nine, Proto-Kaw, Tony O'Hara, Inxs, Mad Max, Sepultura, Ankara, Kilpi, Whitesnake, Rhapsody, Anastacia, Bob Catley, Square One, Ambition.

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