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


Inside Out 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
3 February 2006

I never really liked or disliked the other 5 Devin Townsend albums, but this new one is a real surprise to me. The music on “Synchestra” is heavy, melodic, diverse and rather accessible. Some songs are even easy-going and there is no swearing on this CD and unlike his past records Townsend did not try to bowl listeners over with the first song. Furthermore it is rather special that this album is in fact one song from beginning to end as there are no intervals, so you can enjoy 65 minutes of sheer melodic metal in one take.

The album kicks off with the short but rather beautiful “Let It Roll”, which is a rather ballad-like track, featuring acoustic guitar, vocals and keys. Then “Hypergeek” thunders in with its metal riffs and bombastic sounds, turning the atmosphere upside down. The first highlight of this album is called “Triumph”, a prog metal song with emotional, sometimes “hysterical” vocals, a great melody and fantastic guitar playing by no one less than guitar master Steve Vai. His solo at the end of that song is phenomenal.

Of course this would not be a decent Devin Townsend album without any “weird” songs and “Vampolka” and “Vampira” Are definitely strange and mysterious.... The two instrumentals „Mental Tan” and „Sunset” are also worth mentioning, as they are both filled with amazing riffs and ballad-like guitar melodies. Second highlight of this CD is „Gaia”, a very heavy song with real guitar walls, excellent metal riffs and awesome guitar solos. This is a true hypnotic song that keeps on reeling in your head for days to come...... Of course Devin also screams and grunts in certain songs like „Pixillate”, „Judgement” or „A Simple Lullaby”, but in contrast to his other albums, that does not bother me on „Synchestra”, as his shouting is rather limited. A great prog metal album made by a metal resident madman, and another great musical surprise of 2006!! This CD is released as regualr edition in jewel cas as well as special edition in digipak, with extended 16 page booklet and DVD. On the DVD you will find a 57 minute long live in the studio gig of the Devin Townsend Band.

AGE OF NEMESIS: "Psychogeist" 9

Mascot Records 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
3 February 2006

After releasing 4 records in their native language, which is Hungarian, it is time for the second English Age Of Nemesis CD. This band was formed in 1997 and they focused their attention on the creative process making sure that their music would become experimental, proggy and rather heavy. Their first English album called “Eden” was well received by the press and fans, but their second one is a lot better.

“Psychogeist” has turned into a dark, progressive metal album with lots of heavy guitar riffs and rhythms, lots of keyboard passages and emotional vocals. The album contains a series of 6 related, yet individual songs, lasting over 30 minutes overall; it is a concept composition based on a psycho thriller story. These 6 tracks are filled with great guitar melodies, mysterious vocal parts, melodic keyboard passages and lots of smashing solos. Sometimes certain parts remind me of bands like Wolverine, Communic, Pain Of Salvation and even of Dream Theater….

The two instrumental songs “Goddess Nemesis” and “Awaking Minds” also belong to the musical highlights of this album, as they feature awesome guitar work. Best song without any doubt is “Eye Of The Snake”; a track with an Oriental guitar melody, heavy riffs and extremely well played keys and guitar solos. This album is already one of the first surprises of this year. A must for prog metal lovers!!

TEN: "The Essential Collection 1995-2005" 9

Frontiers Records 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
3 February 2006

Ten, the English melodic rock band around Gary Hughes, has been around for 10 years, and so it is time to celebrate. Now, you can get the best of this incredibly underestimated band on two CDs. Disc 1 is filled with rockers and disc 2 features (power) ballads. Every song is newly recorded and the guitar parts are played by Chris Francis instead of the “original” Ten guitar picker Vinny Burns. I do prefer the guitar sound of Burns, but what bothers me more is the fact that the production of this album is much simpler, less bombastic.

However the featured songs are still great examples of melodic rock music with excellent vocals, heavenly guitar solos and chill-to-the-bone melodies. From the 7 Ten albums only songs from “Far Beyond The World” (2001) are strangely “omitted”. Most songs (6) are from the “Spellbound” album and it is still a sheer pleasure to listen to “After The Love Has Gone”, “Remembrance For The Brave” and “Red”.

Highlights of this album are of course Ten classics like: “ The Name Of The Rose:, “The Robe”, Yesterday Lies In The Flames”, “We Rule The Night” and “After The Love Has Gone”. A fantastic overview from a great band and I am looking forward to their brand new album, which will be released this year. Highly and truly recommended!!

RUSH: "R30" 9

BMG Music 2005
Review by Martien Koolen,
3 February 2006

The year 2004 was a great year as my favorite rock band of all times came to Europe (finally) to celebrate their 30th anniversary. I saw the band in London, Oberhausen and Rotterdam and it was a blast. Now the “R30” DVD is released and it is one of the best rock DVDs I have ever seen. “Rush in Rio” was great, but this one is far better; the sound quality is sheer magic and the set list is second to none. The show was recorded in Frankfurt and Geddy even speaks some German….

The set list contains 13 Rush songs, 2 Rush medleys, 4 cover songs from their last album and a drum solo called “Der Trommler”. The show kicks off with the first medley containing instrumental versions of “Finding My Way”, “ Anthem”, “Bastille Day”, “A Passage To Bangkok”, “Cygnus X-1” and “Hemispheres”. An awesome start to a very spectacular show; songs like “Subdivisions”, “ Red Barchetta”, “Dreamline” and “Mystic Rhythms” definitely belong to the highlights of this show.

The only 4 weaker tracks are the covers(“The Seeker”, “Heart Full Of Soul”, “Summertime Blues” and ”Crossroads”). The second medley consists of “2112”, “Xanadu” and “Working Man”, before this awesome gig ends with the amazing “Limelight”. A perfect ending!! The second DVD features interviews (5) through the years of Rush and furthermore it contains the Anthem vault. Here you can see video clips of “Fly By Night”, “ Finding My Way”, “In The Mood”, “Circumstances”, “La Villa Strangiato”, “A Farewell To Kings” and “Xanadu”. All amazing stuff actually, especially if you watch the former looks and hair-do of Alex, Geddy and Neil. Also you can see a sound check of “The Spirit Of Radio”, “Freewill” from Toronto Rocks in 2003 and “Closer To The Heart”, from the Canada for Asia Tsunami Relief Concert. Furthermore there are two Easter Eggs worth finding and seeing ofcourse. The special edition of this DVD also features the entire concert on two CDs, two guitar picks and a back stage pass from the R30 Tour. If a man is tired of RUSH, he is tired of life.

JADIS: "Photoplay" 8

Inside Out 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
3 February 2006

I never really was a Jadis fan, till now, as this new release called “Photoplay” is without any doubt – in my view – their best record so far. This new CD is the perfect mix of bands like Marillion, IQ, Pendragon, Camel, Asia, Kansas and Pink Floyd, as it is filled with 11 wonderful, melodic, progressive symphonic rock songs.

The opener “There’s The Light” grabs you by the throat right from the start, featuring a Satriani-like guitar melody, a catchy chorus and an amazing melody. Follow-up “What Goes Around” is rather rocky and has lots of vocal harmonies and some funky and hard rock guitar riffs. “Standing Still” sounds like Asia and distinguishes itself with a heavenly guitar melody. “Make Me Move” has a certain Yes-vibe; especially the rhythmic details remind me of the “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”-period.

“Please Open Your Eyes” starts with a keyboardsintro and then evolves into a rather up-tempo symphonic rock song with an awesome wah-wah guitar solo in the middle. However the highlight of this magical album is the instrumental title track. It opens with keys and the rest of this song is sheer brilliant. Guitar solos and melodies are all over this track bringing back memories of great guitar pickers like David Gilmour and Andy Latimer. So, this means that the solos are very melodic and ballad-like giving me goose bums all over the entire 4 minutes of this heavenly track. This new Jadis album proves that you can create demanding music without trying to impress by using superficial complexities. Gary Chandler (guitar player, singer and songwriter) did an excellent job. Looking forward to see them on tour in The Netherlands! Release date: 27 February

ALTARIA: "The Fallen Empire" 7

Metal Heaven 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
31 January 2006

First of all, thumbs up for Metal Heaven/AOR Heaven: this label wasn't much more than "something on the side" of the "AOR Heaven Online Shop" a few years ago, but today they can get their act to support Doro and Sonata Arctica on an European tour. That's certainly much more than what many other labels of the genre are able (or willing) to do for their acts.

Altaria has been a priority band for Metal Heaven since the beginning. The biggest selling point of the first album was the fact that both guitarists were known from two rather famous Finnish bands, Nightwish and Sonata Arctica. The second album marked two changes in line-up, with Taage Laiho replacing the singer Jouni Nikula and guitarist Emppu Vuorinen (Nightwish) leaving. Now we're at album number three, and again there has been changes: Sonata's Jani Liimatainen chose to concentrate on his "main band", and he was replaced by J.P. Alanen, formely of Celesty.

So now that both of the really famous guitarists are gone, the band is dead and buried? Wrong! I believe that the backbone of the band has always been the rhythm section of Marko Pukkila (bass) and Tony Smedjebacka, who have been there from the start, not to mention vocalist Taage who is nowadays an important piece of the puzzle. Apparently new axeman J.P. Alanen has contributed greatly to the songwriting as well. Although there are a couple of star guests on this album as well, ex-Dio guitarist Rowan Robertson and Henrik Klingenberg of Sonata Arctica, it's now all down to the music, not names.

"The Fallen Empire" is a natural successor to "Divinity", the band's previous effort. Solid production from Jonas Kjellgren lifts this album to the first level, along with the excellent individual performances of the players.

I liked "Divinity", it was a huge step forward from the first album. Still, there was something that didn't quite "click" in the band's sound and songs, something was missing. I'm afraid it's the same with "The Fallen Empire", I'm still not 100 per cent convinced. Maybe it's just me, because there's certainly nothing severely wrong with the band's brand of melodic metal. They have a somewhat original style, which owes as much to the US acts like Dokken and Qüeensrÿche as it does to the European power/melodic metal genre. There's a handful of really catchy tracks on the album, the first single "Valley Of Rainbows", "The Lion" and "Frozen Hearts" being a few good examples. However, a few of the tracks do sound a bit forced and uninspired, like "Crucifix", "Access Denied" and "Chosen One". The first one sounds like the band's attempt at writing a Hammerfall-like "metal hymn" but doesn't quite work, and the other two just lack that necessary punch. Oddly enough, the European bonustrack "The Dying Flame" is much better than these three tracks...

On a final note, it's funny to notice how much vocalist Taage sounds like his old friend Janne Hurme (of Human Temple)...must be that Turku'ish accent!

DIABLO: "Mimic47" 7

Poko Rekords / EMI 2006
Review by Petri Kautto,
29 January 2006

Diablo’s "Mimic47" was keenly awaited in Finland and what do you know, it entered the charts at # 1. This album is all about kick ass metal that mixes in some melodies here and there, but mainly what you get here is an excellent way to get your aggressions out in a healthy, head-banging way.

At first this album didn’t really have any kind of affect on me. I Just played it through and most of the song sounded quite the same. After a few more spins songs like "Together as Lost", the title track "Mimic47" and "In Sorrow We Trust" start to stand out, mainly because of their melodic parts. I’m not saying that these guys are taking it easy and just kicking back, but in between all the unyielding metal mayhem it’s nice to hear some melodic parts too.

Diablo is a well-oiled unit, there’s no doubt about that. They have a faithful following and I’m sure it’s well earned. I still wouldn’t praise too eagerly this album because on many levels it lacks originality. Although they manage to offer a solid set of heavy metal there are not many things that really catch your attention. At the same time I must add that this is a well above average album for this genre and a good addition to many CD collections out there.

PUMP: "Breakdown To Breakthrough" 6

Metal Heaven 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
1 February 2006

Thanks to the band's name, I Couldn't help but think that this band might be a sleazy hard rock group with a severe Aerosmith-infection, but that's quite far from the truth. This is traditional German Heavy Metal along the lines of Accept and Victory. The band is lead by ex-Brainstorm vocalist Marcus Juergens, whose vocal style is something to get used to. He has a very good voice, but his vocal delivery is perhaps a bit too "nonchalant" at times. Imagine a mixture of 220 Volt's Jocke Lundstrom mixed with Running Wild's Rock'n Rolf if you can, that's what his style reminded me of...

The production by Tommy Newton is - unsurprisingly - very good, but the songwriting doesn't always really impress me. The opener "Revolution On My Mind", the melodic rocker "How Does It Feel?" and the catchy riff-o-ramas "Headstrong" and "Bulletride" are all very decent tunes, but songs like "Heaven High", "Save Me" and "Bullet On The Blade" are just dull. I also have to mention the bluesy hard rocker "I Can't Deny". It's not one of my favourites but the band does a fine impression of Lynch Mob - this song sounds so much like an amalgam of several songs from LM's "Wicked Sensation" that it's unreal!

All in all, a decent album but frankly not something I'm going to play a lot in the future. If you're into the aforementioned bands, you might as well check them out though, because these guys might be something for you...

Band website

FIREBALL MINISTRY: "Their Rock Is Not Our Rock" 6

Century Media Records 2006
Review by Petri Kautto,
29 January 2006

Los Angeles based Fireball Ministry’s "Their Rock Is Not Our Rock" is an album full of heavy power chords and dark, pounding riffs. Their previous albums have had positive reviews and same can be said about this one. But to go as far as to claim that these guys “carry the torch for the future of rock n’ roll”… someone at the marketing department must have been listening to a different record than the one they sent to us.

An album full of Ozzy and Lemmy leftovers. That pretty much sums up the sound and the quality of the songs. Sure, there are a few decent songs here too but overall, nothing new under the sun. Granted, I have not heard their previous albums and therefore can’t comment on what their success in the past has based on. It could be that their singer James A. Rota really does sound a lot like Lemmy, or it could be that they sound great live, but based on this album alone I really wasn’t too convinced.

This album does have somewhat unique sense to it and Fireball Ministry’s straight forward style of rock is enjoyable to listen to. But after a few listens you are not craving for more, and that is one of the most important things that separate an average album from the classics.

ZERO NINE: "Eyes On The Rear-View Mirror" 8

Poko Records 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
21 January 2006

When it comes to Finnish metal/hard rock bands, there's no other band quite as legendary as Zero Nine. Stratovarius, Nightwish and the likes are nothing but young puppies compared to these legends of Finnish Metal. Their illustrious recording career began already back in 1980, and today, over two and half decades later they are still rocking hard, as last year's "N.E. Files" proved.

"Eyes On The Rear-View Mirror" is a long-overdue first compilation album from the band. This album serves as a great first introduction to the band for anyone who hasn't heard them, and for longtime fans, it re-packages their biggest hits and crowd-pleasers to one neat package. Unfortunately it doesn't contain any unreleased material, which is a bit of a shame. A couple of great new tracks would have been the icing on the cake.

Although I must admit that I don't consider most Zero Nine albums totally essential, the band has had their share of great songs. Most of them are featured here, including their 80'ies smashes "Banging On Drums", "White Lines", "Never Stop Running", "Intrigue" and "Dump Me". The fantastic "Tango Del Dolor" and the hit ballad "Angel" from their sole nineties' release "Freakshow" are also featured, along with a few rather spot-on choices from their latest album "N.E. Files". The really early stuff sounds as dated as it is, but thankfully those early albums aren't heavily represented here. What does puzzle me is the fact that there's only the title track from their 1988 release "Voodoo You" - surely "Hold Your Punches" should have been included among the band's "Greatest Hits"?

All in all, a very good compilation. Considering that this is a retrospective look at the career of such a legendary band, the packaging could have been more in the vein of the recent reissues, which had interesting liner notes. The basic discography is better than nothing though. Maybe the record company is saving their ammunition for a DVD?

PROTO KAW: "The Wait Of Glory" 8

Inside Out 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
22 January 2006

“Before Became After” was in my top ten of 2004, but whether this new Proto Kaw album, called “The Wait Of Glory” will end up in my top ten of this year will be hard to say. The second release of PK is obviously more jazzy and psychedelic, as the “debut” of PK was definitely rockier and had a lot more power. As with the previous album, the new CD title relates to the American band’s fateful past, but the music certainly belongs to the “future”.

“The Wait Of Glory” is varied and it is actually a mix of prog, rock, jazz, psychedelic sounds, avant garde passages and lots of jam sections. The album starts with the magnificent song “Nevermore”, which starts with an orchestral intro and guitar melody. Later on the song features a lot of strings, melodic guitar solos, organ and piano passages, making this a hell of a prog rock song. Furthermore this fabulous track has lots of amazing melodies and emotional vocal harmonies. A perfect start for a fantastic album? Unfortunately the high musical level of the opening song is not continued throughout the rest of the CD, as lots of other songs are far too jazzy and rather mediocre prog rock tracks.

Especially “On The Eve Of The Great Decline” is a true disappointment as it is filled with too many flute passages and tiresome acoustic guitar parts. “Physic” swings, but in my opinion it is too jazzy, too much saxophone and too less rocking parts. The album ends with the second highlight “Picture This”, which is a Kansas-like prog rock song of the highest caliber. Why not more songs like this one, or the awesome opener?? Still, a great album to listen to, but I definitely prefer the PK debut! “The Wait Of Glory” is also available as special edition including the bonus track “One Fine Day”, plus bonus DVD. The DVD features Proto Kaw performing live at Nearfest in 2005.

Tony O'HORA: "Escape Into The Sun" 7

Frontiers 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
17 January 2006

I had a strange and nearly constant feeling of deja vú, during the entire playlenght of "Escape Into The Sun". The new Tony O'Hora (ex-Praying Mantis, Sweet) CD is a collaboration with Last Tribe's Magnus Karlsson, yep, the very same person that both produced and wrote last year's Starbreaker CD with Tony "TNT" Harnell as well as the Allen/Lande project (the lead singers of Symphony X & Masterplan). It's a shame really as Tony O'Hora will now have to "pay the price" of being a 50/50 version of the two above mentioned projects. Never a dull moment... but always with that familiar feeling in the back of your mind.

I could as easily stop writing about this CD right here and right now, since that's all the info you need really. The "Karlsson" song structure and writing formula had already been somewhat famous due to his Last Tribe albums. However, 2005 was clearly the height of his career (so far) with two marvelous Melodic Metal CD's (they both ended up on my personal top-10 list).

O'Hora is a hi-pitch vocalist with a similar approach to singing as Tony Harnell (not quite as "hysterical" though). It's more or less Starbreaker part:2, with the bombastic, European Metal, constantly ringing in your ears. Unfortunately, the songmaterial never quite reaches the standard of last years albums. The first five tracks are simply breathtaking though and you simply can't go wrong here... if you'd like another slice of the same pie. "Broken Soul", "Escape Into The Sun", "No More Innocent", "High Enough", and "My Final Prayer", are all winners in the melodic metal category. It's quite obvious that Karlsson is only into one kind of music??? why would he otherwise produce three very similar albums on top of eachother. Bottomline: solid, very solid, even if it's starting to be predictable by now, don't push your luck kid, hit the brakes now, and why not try and come up with music for a different rock genre next time.

INXS: "Switch" 7

Epic/SonyBMG 2005
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
21 January 2006

INXS are back in the limelight again, thanks to their televised search for a new vocalist in the "Rock Star: Inxs" Reality TV Show. I haven't seen an episode of the show and I have never listened to the band that much, so for me this could be a new album from a new band just as well.

JD Fortune is the name of the new INXS vocalist, and he is a fine replacement to Michael Hutchence, who died a few years ago in unclear circumstances. He seems to have brought new energy to this band, and indeed this is a rather intensive album, and one that sounds better everytime I listen to it.

The album opens with "Devil's Party", which is a suitable opener, reminding the listener of the past INXS hits, yet sounding "current" and showcasing the talents of Mr. Fortune. "Pretty Vegas" was the lead single off the album, and while it's okay, I'm not too crazy about it. Same could be said for the moody and balladic "Afterglow", a Desmond Child/Andrew Farriss collaboration. The bouncy "Hot Girls" is stronger again, but even better is "Perfect Strangers", which is one of my favourites with its' sneaky hook that keeps on surprising me.

"Remember, Who's Your Man" is a track that does absolutely nothing to me, but the catchy and intensive "Hungry" does make up for it. Unfortunately then we're subjected to two of the weakest tracks of the album, the jazzy "Never Let You Go" and the quirky "Like It Or Not", both somehow annoying. "Us" is slightly better, a midtempo poppy track with an okay chorus. Last but certainly not least there's "God's Top Ten", a really fine eerie ballad featuring another Rock Star: Inxs contestant Suzie McNeil sharing vocals with JD. Great performances from both, and the song itself is truly a beautiful one.

After listening to this album, I just might have to take a look at the INXS back catalogue...

MAD MAX: "Night Of White Rock" 6

AOR Heaven 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
15 January 2006

I remember Mad Max as a hardrock act out of Germany with crunchy guitarwork in the vein of Scorpions and Accept. Not anymore I'm afraid as Michael Voss has turned this into a carbon copy of his other projects, mainly, Casanova and Demon Drive. Don't get me wrong, "Night Of White Rock" is a fairly decent "comeback" album with some smashing melodies and overall fluffy attitude. However, I really can't see the point with releasing it under the "Mad Max" banner, especially since it's a rather laidback album with a very clean and sterile production.

There's no big-drum sound or hardly any roaring guitars to talk about here. Nontheless, opener "To Hell And Back Again", really kickstarted my heart at first as it begins with that familiar "Stormchild" sound. It's without a question the most rocking tune on this CD along side with "Upon My Soul", and perhaps even "Raise Your Voice". The rest all belongs to the soft-rock category and are very similar to the average Casanova, Jaded Heart, Demon Drive, material.

"Night Of White Rock" tries to have the best of both worlds, but unfortunately fails because, ultimately the songs just aren't *that* good in the end.

SEPULTURA: "Live In Sau Paulo" 3

SPV 2005
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
10 January 2006

They are (still) the Gods of neck-breaking Metal in their homeland and hardly anywhere else nowadays. So, what's more approporite than a double CD recorded in Brazil, well, "Live In Sâo Paulo" is probably as interesting as any live concert without Max Cavelera. I could personally never quite understand the logic behind Sepultura post the mid-90's. They started out as a fun and simple Thrash/Speed band in the vein of Slayer, but unfortunately, pretty much like their U.S. heroes, they have turned out for the worse during the past ten year period of time. I miss the energy of "Beneath The Realms", the pure violent of "Arise", and most of all, I miss the hunger and passion of a real live act. Not even the oldies seem to work anymore and "Refuse/Resist" is one of few highlights on this rather pointless release. Roots Bloody Roots.... where???

ANKARA: "Järkäle"

SonyBMG 2005
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
21 January 2006

Here's a special for Finnish readers...Ankara (or these days known as "KARA" due to some legal problems) is the new signing of SonyBMG, and this single is their first release for the label. Their sound is a curious mixture of slightly Rammstein-like metallic crunch and Finnish mainstream rock (I'm thinking of bands like Neljä Ruusua and Don Huonot), and to my surprise I quite like it. Especially the title track "Järkäle" has a really good hook, and vocalist Justus has a strong voice. Yeah, I'm looking forward to the full album.

KILPI: "Laske Kuolleet Ja Rukoile"

MTG 2005
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
21 January 2006

The first single from the next KILPI album can only be described as a real surprise. The band has managed to get substantial amounts of airplay for their previous singles, but I'm afraid that this one won't make it to the playlists that easily. The song is a very Iron Maiden-like, fast heavy metal track with a rather poor chorus and not too many memorable melodies to write about...but fear not! I've just listened to the 7 other clips from the new album on the band's website, and they are ALL much better than this song, leading me to believe that the next album might just be the best Kilpi album so far. Furthermore, the band will perform two other new tracks in the Eurovision song contest qualification round next week, and goddamn it if they aren't catchy and melodic metal songs...Let's just call this single "the odd one" and wait for the album. And hey, the cover is pretty stylish...morbid maybe, but stylish.

WHITESNAKE: "Live/In The Still Of The Night" 9

AFM Records 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
13 January 2006

To my great disappointment I must admit that Whitesnake belong to one of the very few bands that I have never “caught in the act”, so to speak. Now, they release a live DVD recorded in London in 2004 and it is awesome. Although I always saw David Coverdale as a typical macho sexist, almost Spinal Tap-like lead singer, his voice and music still give me shivers down my spine, even in 2006. Albums like “1987” and “Slip Of The Tongue” are true rock classics and can still be found in my cd player at least once a year.

Whitesnake has always had great musicians, especially guitar pickers like John Sykes, Steve Vai and Adje Vandenberg. The rhythm section was also always very well “equipped” with Neil Murray, Aynsley Dunbar, Tommy Aldridge and Rudy Sarzo. On this DVD Coverdale is joined by Tommy Aldridge and Doug Aldrich and the sound and the camera work on this DVD are really out of this world. Coverdale’s voice is so good, clean and sharp that I sometimes wonder how much is actually really live...

The set list is also fantastic as the band opens with the Deep Purple classic “Burn” and ends with the magical “Still Of The Night”. In between you can marvel at rockers like “Bad Boys”, “Judgment Day” (one of the highlights), “Take Me With You”, “Still Of The Night” (the other highlight) and “Give Me All Your Love Tonight”. The “softer”, ballad-like tracks “Is This Love” and “Ain’t No Love In The Heart of The City” (amazing) are also worth mentioning. Furthermore there is a drum solo and an extensive guitar solo, which are both a bit out-dated, but what the hell; this is a great DVD. Probably one of the best I have seen in a long time. Buy or die!!! Release date: 30 January

RHAPSODY: "Live in Canada 2005" 9

Magic Circle Music 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
13 January 2006

Rhapsody is a band which you either love or hate and I definitely belong to the first category. I think that all their albums so far are bombastic film score metal classics, and “The Dark Secret, Symphony of Enchanted Lands part 2", was the absolute highlight so far.

On their first live album, which was recorded in Montreal on June 14, 2005, you can find 11 songs, taken from all (except from the debut) of their albums. From the latest album the Italian rockers play 4 songs, namely “The Dark Secret”, “Unholy Warcry”, “Erian’s Mystical Rhymes” and “Nightfall on the grey Mountains”. Especially the epic “Erian….” Is one of the highlights of this amazing album. Further songs are “Wisdom of the Kings” and “Emerald Sword” (from “Symphony of Enchanted Lands”), “The March of the Swordmaster” and “Lamento Eroico”) from “Power of the Dragonforce”) and “The village of Dwarves” and “Dawn of Victory” (from “Dawn of Victory”).

The sound is great which makes me wonder if it is all really live…. Singer Fabio really proves that he can sing and the atmosphere is really awesome. A great live album and a must for Rhapsody fans all over the world. The album will be released in two configurations, the regular and a limited edition including a bonus DVD which contains exclusive behind the scenes material, as well as the entire album in 5.1 surround sound.

ANASTACIA: "Pieces Of A Dream" 7

Epic/SonyBMG 2005
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
13 January 2006

I guess it can be debated whether Anastacia's music is "rock" enough to be featured here, and by all means, debate all you want on our messageboard, but read this review of her greatest hits album first...

Anastacia debuted back in 1999 with her first album "Not That Kind", which was a huge success thanks to hit singles like "I'm Outta Love" and "Cowboys And Kisses". I noticed her raw-edged and rather unique voice already then, but didn't much care for the songs she had to offer. Sure, her style was more organic than the mainstream pop sound of the day, and "I'm Outta Love" was a catchy number (and still is), but the first album was way too dance/R'n'B/soul-oriented for me. The album is represented by 4 songs here, and I rate them among the weaker tracks, with the aforementioned exception.

The second album "Freak Of Nature" was another smash hit, and it marked a change in direction for Anastacia - the songs were more pop/rock-styled. I believe she called her style "Sprock", as in "Soul, Pop and Rock"... The album is represented by 4 tracks as well, and indeed they happen to be the tracks I would have chosen myself as well: dance-rock hybrid "Paid My Dues", which has been covered by Jaded Heart recently, the catchy pop of "One Day In Your Life", the bouncy "Why'd You Lie To Me" and "You'll Never Be Alone", which is probably Anastacia's finest ballad to date. Yep, this song is a great power ballad that should appeal to any AOR fan.

Anastacia's self-titled third album is her best so far, and certainly the most rock-oriented. Hit producer and one-time cult AOR hero Glenn Ballard is heavily involved, as are John Shanks and Billy Mann. The four tracks featured aren't necessarily the four strongest tracks from the album, but they were the singles..."Left Outside Alone" is ceertainly as strong as anything else on the album though, one of my favourites, as is the rock ballad "Heavy On My Heart". However, the yodeling backing vocal on "Sick And Tired" tends to get on my nerves.

The "extras" on this album are a bit of this and a bit of that. The title track, a good ballad is probably the best one of them, and the soundtrack hit "Everything Burns" (with Ben Moody) isn't too bad either. I'm not too impressed with the duet with Eros Ramazotti or the other new track "In Your Eyes", although they do have their moments. What does worry me a bit is the fact that all of them are rather balladic - I sincerely hope that Anastacia doesn't go all Celine with her next album! Oh yeah, there's a 10 minute "Club Megamix" at the end of the album, and I guess it's good for those who care for that sort of stuff...I could've done without it.

Bob CATLEY: "Spirit Of Man" 8

Frontiers 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
2 January 2006

After three albums with Gary Hughes (of TEN) producing and writing and one with Paul Hodson doing the same, Magnum vocalist Bob Catley has stirred the pot once again. On this album, he is singing songs written by three British songsmiths, Vince O'Regan, Dave Thompson and Paul Uttley. Still, even though the writers have changed, the style is what we've grown to expect from Bob Catley the solo artist. That's decidedly heavier than Magnum, dramatic, bombastic and highly melodic.

Fast and furious "Heart Of Stone" kicks off the album, making it clear that Catley still has "it". This must be one of the most metallic songs of his career! The song is quite melodic all the same, but might be a shocker for those expecting something similar to Magnum. This heavy metal attack is followed by one of the "hits" of the album, the instantly catchy "Moment Of Truth", a great hard-edged melodic rock track. "In The Name Of The Cause" reminds me strongly of Bob's "day job" Magnum, but I guess that's only natural...After all, Catley's vocals are an integral element of that band, so everything he does will have a touch of Magnum in it. "Blinded By A Lie" is another "hit", a killer AOR-type of a song with a suberb hook and great keys. The first ballad "Last Snows Of Winter" might own a little to certain Magnum-ballads, but it's a very good track nevertheless. The next three tracks - "Spirit Of Man", "The Fire Within Me" and "Judgement Day" - offer more of the same: excellent melodies, great hooks and powerful performances from all parties involved. Then something happens...the next trio of songs is somehow rather average. "Lost To The Night", the ballad "Beautiful Mind" and "Walk On Water" aren't exactly bad songs, but they just don't do anything to me. Even the quality of production seems to drop on "Walk On Water", which sounds kind of hollow. Thankfully the epic closing number "End Of The Story" finishes the album in grand fashion, thus leaving a nice aftertaste.

In conclusion...for any Bob Catley fan this is an essential purchase. The men behind the songs may change, but Captain Catley knows what he wants and indeed he gets it from his team of songsmiths.

SQUARE ONE: "Supersonic" 8

Stay Gold 2005
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
3 January 2006

I ranked this Australian band as one of the most promising indie acts a couple of years ago, after hearing their demo EP. Their ultra-melodic and harmonious brand of power pop impressed the A&R guys of Japanese Stay Gold label as well, and they signed the band. "Supersonic" is the first result of this deal.

The band's sound isn't too easy to describe: they take influences from all over the place. At surface, they appear to be a modern melodic rock band with songwriters who have graduated from the Songwriting School of Butch Walker, but there's more than meets the eye here. The smooth vocal harmonies add an almost Beach Boys-like vibe to the songs, yet sometimes the melancholic nature of these songs reminds me of such bands as The Gin Blossoms and Dreams So Real.

The best songs of the band are simply irrestistable pop rockers: the two first tracks "Tonight" and "Sweet Surrender" are such gems, as is "Love Struck Melody", the highlight of the previously mentioned demo. There really isn't a weak track here, although it has to be said that some of the remaining tracks tend to sound a bit too alike and unless you give the album your undivided attention, they tend to blend into each other a bit too well. Still, even when that happens, the little hooks crawl their way into your head and you might find yourself humming these melodies..."where did I hear that?" And goddamn it, these guys know how to pen perfectly crafted rock lyrics: "Hello Hello, Come On, Come On/Wanna Hear That Yeah Yeah Yeah/Metallica, it's in the car/Enter Sandman, Bang Your Head"...saying nothing at all, but still saying everything! ;)

AMBITION: "Ambition" 7

Frontiers 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
3 January 2006

Ambition is yet another project from Frontiers, featuring the usual elements: a name vocalist, Fabrizio Grossi as the producer and various songwriters. Actually, the "name vocalist" element is a bit of a stretch, since Thom Griffin is hardly a household name...I'm not putting him down since he is very good indeed, but his claim to fame is his involvement in the band TRILLION, an obscure early eighties pomp act! Interestingly enough, maybe in order to have more names to drop, Frontiers called former TOTO vocalist Jean Michel Byron to share some of the vocals...yes, he was in Toto for about three minutes (or about three songs on a compilation) back in 1990. His contribution to the album doesn't improve it in anyway, as his voice is much weaker than Griffin's, and his singing sounds really forced and uncomfortable. He even gets a solo song, which I find ridiculous since this is obviously Griffin's album. Well, if that helps to sell a few more copies...which I really doubt.

When it comes to the songs sung by Griffin, things sound better. Opener "Hold On" is a monster of an AOR tune with similarities to GIANT in their prime, and "Shaping Fate & Destiny", "Together" and "Make It Alright" are almost as good. "Make It Alright" does suffer from an annoying editing mistake or something, which made me think that the CD-player skipped a beat! The other songs are decent AOR tracks too, but somehow a little bland in comparison. The duets with Byron (or his solo song) aren't too bad either when it comes to the songwriting, but I do think that they could've been better with Griffin taking care of the lead vocals completely. Oh yeah, another vocalist Joe Vana (of Mecca fame) guests on the European bonus track "Waiting In My Dreams", which is a cover of an unreleased Mr. Mister song. It doesn't belong to my favourites, but at least Vana is an excellent singer...


* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 46-52/05 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 46-52/05 * * * * *
A Traitor Like Judas, Divinefire, Ufo, Godiva, Phil Vincent, Henning Pauly, Vanishing Point, Dreamland, Medea, Axxis, Elvenking, System Of A Down, Dogpound, Salem Hill, XYZ, Oliver Wakeman, Stretch Armstrong, Manning, Wet Animal, Milan Polak, Gary Schutt, Terra Nova, Ristinolla, Lambs , Soul Doctor, Tommy Lee, Story Of The Year, The Syn, Ozzy Osbourne, Bloodpit, Paganini, Cannata, Radioactive, Line Of Fire, The Aurora Project, Jeff Urso, Erol Sora and Jukka Tolonen.

* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 41-45/05 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 41-45/05 * * * * *
FM re-issue package, Malice In Wonderland, Bad Habit, Bullet For My Valentine, Demonlord, Far Beyond, Mitch Perryarchival , Testament, Breed77, Roine Stolt, Johnny Lima, Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister's Eddie Ojeda, Change Of Heart, Dead Soul Tribe, Daniele Liverani's Khymera, Threshold vocalist Mac Macdermott's project Yargos, James Byrd's Atlantis Rising, Francesco Fareri, Magnum DVD, Deep Purple, The Mob, Hybrid Children, Tony Martin, Aerosmith, Hatesphere, Riverside, Seventh Key, Pallas, Tramp's White Lion, Annihilator, Perzonal War, Helloween, Bruce Turgon, PC69, Violence, Dragonlord, Myon, Tokyo Dragons, Project Hate, Legs Diamond, MTM Ballads 6.

* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 37-40/05 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 37-40/05 * * * * *
TNT, RPWL, Swedish Erotica, Milan Polak, Neal Morse, Shakra, Silver, Gypsy Rose (Sweden), "Blackmore's Castle"-tribute to Ritchie Blackmore, Steve Howe, Nashville Pussy, Leilo Padovani, Airless, Nocturnal Rites, Coheed And Cambria, After Forever, Morning fare, Stratovarius, Schoolboy Crush, The Tea Party, Boystown, Hanna Pakarinen, Enemies, Persuader, Dyecrest, She's China, King's X, Imaginery, The Rasmus, Sieges Even, Savage Circus, Xcarnation (feat. Winger members), Place Vendome (feat. Michael Kiske), Philip Bardowell and Jaded Heart.

* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 31-36/05 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 31-36/05 * * * * *
Allen - Lande, Flagship, Alien, Majestic Vanguard, Seether, Paul Gilbert's DVD, Aina , Nevermore , Machine Men, Coram Lethe, The Black Dahlia Murder, Spock's Beard, Saga, Stryper, Black Majesty, John Taglieri, Pendragon, Midnight Circus, Biohazard, Crash Diet, Totalisti, Motorhead DVD, Dictators, Travers Appice, L.A. Guns, Metal Mania Stripped, Richard Andersson, Waltham, Carptree, S.I.N., Nuclear Assault, Jet Circus, Emerald Rain, Eden Lost, Jizzy Pearl, Marc Rizzo, Bogart's Touch and a "String Cheese Incident".

* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 27-30/05 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 27-30/05 * * * * *
Matrex, BaiBang, Artica, Blackmore's Night DVD, Steve Walsh, Live DVD from Carl Verheyen Band, Yngwie Malmsteen, Prayer, Dug Pinnick of King's X, re-issued Kick Axe, Gypsy Carns, Nightvision, Richie Kotzen's new band 40 Deuce, Kim Mitchell, Amplifier, Doctor Dunbar's Medicine Band, Terra Nova, Blanc Faces, Journey, Robin Beck, Diving For Pearls, Chris Caffery, F5, Paul Gilbert, Cryonic Temple, Iommi (with Glenn Hughes), Vicious Rumours DVD, Loud'n Nasty and Gismatchi.

* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 21-26/05 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 21-26/05 * * * * *
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* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 16-20/05 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 16-20/05 * * * * *
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* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 11-15/05 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 11-15/05 * * * * *
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* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 1-5/05 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 1-5/05 * * * * *
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