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

MENNEN: "Freakalive" 9

Armageddon 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
3 October 2006

Mennen’s last album "Freakazoid" was probably their best release ever and the Dutch rock band number 1 was even successful in the good old USA with this new CD. Now Joss, Eric, Alex and Fon release their first live album recorded in the USA. As the band was working on their new album, the guys decided to treat the local music scene with a couple of full blast live shows and now one of these shows is brought out as a really explosive live CD. The gig you can listen to was recorded at the Poison Room in Cincinnati on Novenber 8th 2005.

Eight songs on this live album are from their last CD "Freakazoid". The setlist is completed by their famous cover of the Supertramp classic "School", a song where guitar player Eric van de Kerkhof really shines. Furthermore you can listen to a song called "Two sides of love", a ballad-like song written by Paul Laine [Reviews Ed: the song was first recorded by Zinatra, featuring Joss Mennen]. My favourite songs are "Down", "Freakazoid" and "Wicked White". A real good live album showing again that these guys can rock like hell. The sound is perfect, Joss sings like a young god and the entire band plays like a well-oiled rock machine. I can hardly wait to hear their new album, which, according to the boys, will be their heaviest album yet, so... But, first of all enjoy this amazing live recording. Rock on, dudes, great stuff!!

A.C.T.:"Silence" 9

Inside Out 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
3 October 2006

This Swedish quintet are about to release their fourth studio album and all 3 previous CDs got raving reviews in the prog rock world. The band’s sound is referred to as unique and impossible to put into any pigeonhole. As clear musical references I would mention ELO,Styx,IQ,Saga,Queen,Asia,Kansas and It Bites. So, in other words A.C.T. make very progressive, melodic rock/pop with a second to none sense of melody. Just listen to the amazing opening song "Truth is pain" and you will be hooked right from the start.

What makes this band unique is their ability to create loads of twists and turns, solos, breaks and musical mood swings to keep the listener’s attention in a tight grip. Like in the wonderful "Hope", a song kicking off with staccatto guitar riffs, followed by high-pitched vocals, a truly addictive chorus, Asia-like keyboard passages and a sheer sparkling guitar solo. Heavy elements are mixed with softer tones and also funny bits are included, like for e.g. in songs like "Into the unknown" or "Useless argument".

A.C.T. saves the best for last as they end this wonderful album with a song called "Consequences", an epic song of about 20 minutes, divided into 9 pieces. The song is about Joanna, a young woman desperately wanting a child, who ends up experiencing a tragic turn of events. In this epic master piece the band really shines and captivates the listener with its finer and more complex song structures. The song is a combination of excellent guitar riffs, strong melodies and well played instrumental passages. I like "Memory to fight", "The final silence" and "A wound that will not heal" best as these songs/parts have heavenly guitar parts and solos. All in all I can say that A.C.T. has done it again as each listen to this CD reveals something new. So whether you are already a fan or not and if you are into this sort of music, run to the record store and ask for "Silence". You will not be disappointed. One of the best prog rock/pop records of this year!


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

Now this is 'progressive rock', seriously, this is definitely 'prog-rock' in a somewhat lite, melodic, and easy-minded approach. You will simply have to forget everything about their first two albums, Winger in 2006 is "Pull" gone overboard and off the deep end into a sea of complicated and darn fine melodies. Not poorly whatsoever, however, it's perhaps not too good of a news for the ones hoping for vintage rock 'ala big hairdays. One thing's for sure, you won't find anything in the vein of "Easy Come, Easy Go", and you probably need to be into some prog-rock to truly enjoy this CD.

By the way, do you recall the Xcarnation release earlier at Frontiers? Well, Cenk Eroglu helps out with keys, guitars, and a lot of inspiration. Simply mix "Pull" with Kip's solo albums and some of the above Xcarnation, and you'll end up pretty close to the core. "IV" is more of a album effort anyhow and not really about instant 'hooks', and again, you will have to think soft-prog instead of soft-rock. According to Kip, 'the new album starts where "Pull" left off and moves on to new directions mixing some classic rock, progressive, and acoustic elements that may resemble: Genesis, King Crimson, and Mott The Hoople. I can't personally say that I can find anything even remotely close to Hoople. King Crimson, yeah, throw in tons of King's X as well as Pink Floyd melodies for good measure.

"Right Up Ahead" is 'Pull' part:2, "Blue Suede Shoes" is Winger gone Pink Floyd and an absolutely stunning piece of prog art. It will also remind you of RPWL and their Floyd' inspired rock at times. "Four Leaf Clover" goes straight to the heart with its message and enchanting melody. "M16" will hit you like a sledgehammer, check out the impressive work by Rod Morgenstein (drums) as he's definitely the backbone of M16. "Your Great Escape" opens up with some excellent Reb Beach work in the vein of Satch'. This is the most 'basic' and uptempo rock number of them all and the closest you'll ever get to vintage Winger. "Disappear" is back to the complex world of Pink Floyd meets Winger on a trip to the King's X mansion. "On A Day Like Today" is a acoustic, laidback toon where Kip' sounds an awful lot like a (much) better version of Jimmy Nail. "Short Flight To Mexico" is very much the sound of King's X and/or The MOB's album last year at Frontiers (featuring Doug Pinnick & Kip). "Generica" continues on the path of King's X and 'Pull' melodies with a twist. The bottomline: this is a real monster, a grower, you need to spin this over and over again to truly get all aspects of "IV". It's a fine mix of Winger, King's X, Pink Floyd, and King Crimson melodies that works out just perfectly together. And again, please, do not, I repeat, do not expect this to be hairmetal 'ala the 80's (you'll only end up disappointed).

EVANESCENCE: "The Open Door" 8

Sony/Wind-Up 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
1 October 2006

You're probably not going to enjoy everything about "The Open Door", if you were merely into "Fallen" because of their hit songs. Amy Lee & Co. hasn't exactly gone for the easy way out, since this is a slightly wider and more progressive effort than previous attempt. Well, it's hardly just an attempt if your previous album sold 14 million records worldwide.

There's no male backing vocals (since the departure of Ben Moody) and Amy's voice steps into the spotlight with both Gothic, and Björk, Kate Bush, Broadway influences. It's almost falsetto at times, but nowhere near as annoying as the operatic approach of the girlie that once fronted Nightwish. They have actually toned down some of their most Gothic overtures and gone for a more proggy/dreamy style that borders to emo and nu-metal.

Don't get me wrong, it's still 'gothic', but truly complex and epic at the same time. It's definitely a more daring and even confusing song structure with a more progressive than catchy approach. The arrangements and especially the guitars by Terry Balsamo (ex-Cold) are far more heavier than before. The first single, "Call Me When You're Sober", isn't a instant hit and you need to play it several times and then let it all sink in for awhile. And that goes for the entire album, it's experimental stuff with a special nod to everything that's complicated and difficult to pen down to a certain genre or style. It's like a rollercoaster ride with many up's and down's and yes, far from everything that glitters is gold. However, tracks like "Sweet Sacrifice", "Weight Of The World", "Lithium", "Cloud Nine", "Snow White Queen", "Lacrymosa", "The Only One", "Your Star", are all winners in my book. The bottomline: there's no need to be afraid to walk through 'The Open Door'. You just need to be open-minded about music in general and I'm pleased to find out they haven't just recorded a 'Fallen Part:2' album.

KINGDOM COME: "Ain't Crying For The Moon" 7

Frontiers 2006
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
27 September 2006

I can't say I've been a huge Kingdom Come fan, I really liked the first few albums and still possess those but nothing really grabbed me that Lenny Wolf released since the middle of the 90s. Lately the "band" has been all about Lenny and this time it is even more so, he played basically everything on the album with the exception of a few guest guitar solos, some cello and some piano. Not to mention he was responsible for the production as well.

Let me deal with that first. The album is unbelievably well-produced, the guitar sounds is thick yet edgy, up-to-date, and rules the overall sound in general. Lenny's vocals are as good as ever, as if the years wouldn't have taken any toll on his throat. However there's a remarkable change in the songwriting approach, it is probably the heaviest album from Lenny under Kingdom Come name. Although the beautiful piano-ballad title track breaks the flow of lead-heavy tracks, by the end of the album the mid- tempo heavy tunes with the crushing sound get a little overwhelming.

The album is finished with a 2006 version of "Get It On" that sounds kinda weird as if Metallica was playing it but it is definitely some fun. Although I like the album a lot, I could have done some diversity in the songwriting (yeah, I know no more Gowdy) and in the sound (and I know it's not the 80s anymore), but other than that I have nothing to complain about.

DACIA: "+The WMD" 6

MTM 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
1 October 2006

Dacia +The WMD is the new project of Dacia Bridges who successfully entered the charts with her previous band TAPE. The Tape-ers received enthusiastic press and fan feedback and shared the stage with acts such as Limp Bizkit, Stone Sour, Disturbed, etc. This is Dacia +The WMD's self titled debut album produced by ex-Skunk Anansie's Ace and mixed by Tommy Hansen (Helloween, TNT, Pretty Maides, DAD, etc).

The ex-Farmer Boys musicians Alex Scholpp (guitars) and Ralf Botzenhart (bass), plus drummer Alex Menichine are the other members of this modern rock outfit. The opening three tracks (Who's To Say, Rockabilly Bitch, Stop And Stare), are all top-notch rockers in the vein of Lambretta meet Skunk Anansie meet the more traditional rock of Germany's Skew Siskin. Some really crunchy guitarwork during the catchy power-rockers "Who's To Say" and "Rockabilly Bitch", express a broader wide of emotions than your average riff-raff act. "Stop And Stare" is a marvelous semi-ballad that lil' Avril would love to lay her sticky fingers upon and grab away from Dacia. The same goes for "Live To Tell" as I could easily imagine this in the hands of the Canadian chick with the french word for April.

"Losing You" is a somewhat bizarre experience and duet between Dacia and Lemmy of Motörhead. Hey, you all know Lemmy, he's done more (work) female singers than any other hardrocker (Doro, Wendy O'Williams, Girlschool, Skew Siskin, etc, etc). He just luv to work with the ladies and this is indeed a fine ballad and duet. There are unfortunately too many fillers towards the end of the disc. Nontheless, a decent first effort and I'm sure we'll hear a lot more of Dacia in the future to come. The first pressing is strickly limited and features 2 bonus tracks and 1 video - as long as stock remains.

WETTON/DOWNES: "Icon – Never In A Million Years" 6

Frontiers 2006
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
27 September 2006

Wanna hear another Asia live album? Didn't you have enough of them over the last decade (one live album per year)? This time it's not the band itself but two founding members John Wetton and Geoffrey Downes supported by John Mitchell and Steve Christey who recorded a tour where they mostly played their classic hits.

As you may guess from the line-up it is quality stuff with great sound, good musicianship but nothing extra beyond that. There were separate shows recorded, songs are taken from various gigs, there is only very limited communication with the audience, the majority of the material is slow or mid-tempo at best, and the whole thing simply just lacks energy. I know Asia's music is not about running up and down the stage beating your chest like Tarzan but this album is simply background music for cooking or driving.

As fans most probably have some of those by now it is only recommended for completists. I guess this release is to test the market before the studio album the guys are about to release. Well, I'm looking forward to hearing that because this one did not convince me of anything but the fact these guys can still play rather well. One can only hope Frontiers will also notice this and back the studio album.

LAMB OF GOD: "Sacrament" 4

Sony/Epic 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
2 October 2006

The opening track (Walk With Me In Hell) stands head and shoulders above your average day/night-time metal rock. But it has to be said that "Sacrament" never quite cuts it as a top-notch metal album. There's not a single trace of any progress whatsoever in the music of Lamb Of God since day one really. This is obviously something that will devide the hardcore fans into two camps. First you have the ones that simply can't get enough of LOG's music, and the rest that will merely find it all too similar by now.

"Redneck" is perhaps their worst moment so far and it's actually rather suiting... that the following track goes by the title of "Pathetic". The ingredients are simple, enormous plodding of death/hardcore/nu-metal, and the typical lyrics about death, hell, the devil, and his grandmother. Indeed, where pain, adrenaline and frustration turn to rage, therein lurk Lamb Of God (scary or what?).

"Sacrament" is dark unexplored regions of aggression and human decay and also some of the heaviest, most brutal music they've ever recorded. "Foot To The Throat" will have you running for the hills, "Blacken The Cursed Sun" is truly evil to the core, and "More Time To Kill" will certainly impressive the crap out of Charlie Manson and his gang. D Randall Blythe goes as far as saying "this is definitely a personal record and it's the darkest thing we've ever done. It steems from a lot of depression and a fucked up worldview. In the last couple of years I've been going through a lot of weird, bad shit". Great, in other words, Blythe has been suicidal and depressed, and wants the rest of us to feel the exact same thing with the new CD... great... now... whatever happened to fun and cheering up your fans and friends?

VIO-LENCE: "Blood And Dirt" 9 [DVD]

MegaForce 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
23 September 2006

This is the ultimate Vio-lence item and surely a must have to any die-hard fan. "Blood And Dirt" is a 2-disc DVD with the complete history of the Bay Area Thrash act of the 80's. The five-man band from San Francisco U.S.A. was formed during the mid-80's under the monicker of Death Penalty. This was soon changed to Vio-lence and a 4-track demo was shortly followed by a recording contract and the cult Thrash album "Eternal Nightmare" (1988).

Vio-lence may not have been the most original sounding group from that era and time. In fact, many of their songs do end up somewhere inbetween the likes of Anthrax, Exodus, Metallica and Testament. It's all good and fun 80's Thrash though and "Tales From the Pit" director, Jerry Allen, has managed to present a excellent 90 minutes documentary about the band (Disc:1). It's all here, the history, the wild stories, interviews with all members of Vio as well as commentary by fans, friends, journalists, and fellow Thrash bands such as Exodus, Testament, Forbidden, etc. It's rare video footage shot by Vio-lence themselves as well as live clips from different eras of their history.

Disc:2 featuring live performances from "Thrash Of The Titans" 2001 (9 songs), "Live At Slims" (6 songs), plus "Gutterslut" (Live from the pond 420 show) and "Color Of Life" (live from the stone - 1993). Downers? well, they tend to overdose on the F-word during interviews. Hey, it's all well swearing to emphasise a point, but if you tend to do it too much, people will stop paying attention to what you're actually saying. Well, especially if you manage to include more swearing than "normal" words in every goddamn sentence. Then again... I guess they never pretend to be into rocket science in the first place [;-)]. Mosh! Mosh!

CHEAP TRICK: "From Tokyo To You" 8 [DVD]

SPV 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
22 September 2006

"From Tokyo To You" (Live In Japan) is a DVD including a bonus CD of the 2002 studio album "Special One". From Tokyo To You is some kind of concert documentary filmed on Cheap Trick's return to Japan, 25 years after "Live In Budokan". It features band history in their own words, along with rare acoustic performances and songs released live for the very first time.

O.K. I guess I'am kind of picky when it comes to live DVD's. However, I find it's rather painful to watch when they're mixing live performances with interviews inbetween the songs. Here you have the might Cheap Trick-sters, doing their business on stage in a concert during the "Special One" tour. Great, if not for the fact that you'll have to watch individual interview clips with all the band members. Sure, it's a pretty interesting story, but c'mon, I just wanna watch the show first (without any interruption). Now you're missing out on half of the stuff, since they've removed the beginning and ending of every darn song. There's no talking or audience interaction (feedback) going on whatsoever.

One thing's for sure though, all four members are great storytellers, and they make the most out of their history together. You'll get to know fun stories about which dad used to be a original 'Bozo The Clown', and which mom' that... ehh... nevermind. Rick Nielsen is a complete nutcase anyhow and it's always entertaining to hear/watch him talk. 6 out of 16 tracks on the DVD are taken off the "Special One" album and bonus material features more interviews. Well, it's basically a track-by-track rundown of the DVD, you'll get to know about the story behind each tune, including "I Want You To Want Me", "Dream Police", "Surrender", etc. The bottomline: good, but could have been better with a complete concert first and interviews later.

TNT: "Live In Madrid" 8 [DVD]

MTM 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
19 September 2006

This live concert was the second to last show with U.S. singer Tony Harnell. Recorded and filmed in Madrid, Spain on April 1st 2006, infront of a raging audience, the DVD give a real insight of TNT live. Well, not everything give the impression of a "real" and honest performance. The pre-recorded backing vocals on tape do take away a lot of fun. Especially during tracks like "10.000 Lovers (In One)", where the backing vocals sounds more like the a perfect choir of Disney toons, and you will not once hear a real band member singing (with the exception of Tony Harnell of course).

Sure enough, many or most acts are using pre-recorded backing vocals nowadays. This doesn't mean it still suxx though. Now, don't go thinking it's all crap and not even worthy of your attention. It's approx 85 minutes of fun melodic hardrock with one of the best soaring vocals in business. It's a rather tiny stage, however, the band is working it like real troopers and they're doing most of their classics. Opening number, "Invisble Noise", gets the crowd going and with "As Far As The Eye Can See" they're all one with the show.

Ronni Le Tekro is a strange geezer, the spitting image of a 60's hippie, facial expression during guitar solos = priceless. He's also an out-of-ordinary guitarist with a marvelous sense for tone and technic. I'm not sure what he's trying to tell us during the extra long solo though (far-out, dude). The bonus material leaves much to ask about though. There's a live version of "Everyone's A Star" from SwedenRock - 2004 (not the best sound quality), a one (1) minute long autographing session (zzz), and "She Needs Me" (live at Rockefeller, Oslo, Norway, 2004). Hmmm... no interviews, band history, or discography. The bottonline: it's the best and only decent live DVD of TNT, but it could have been so much better with more meat on the bones.

FRAZE GANG: "Fraze Gang" 8

FrazeMusic 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
21 September 2006

The Fraze Gang is a power trio from Canada consisting of two ex-Brighton Rock members, Greg Fraser (vocals, guitars) and Stevie Skreebs (bass). The third and last (but not least) member of the crazy gang is tattooed drummer Phil Epp. What they have created here is a darn solid debut album (CD) with that typical sound of 80's Melodic Hardrock.

I'm sure many of you will recall Brighton Rock as they were one of many fine Canadian acts of the 80's. The debut album "Young, Wild And Free" came out during the height of melodic hardrock (1986), and was produced by Michael Wagener. Any fan of the band may have noticed that Greg Fraser wrote pretty much all of their music. Thus why it hardly comes as a surprise that a majority of these songs, could as easily have been Brighton Rock material.

The main and biggest different would obviously have to be vocals. Now, Gerald McGhee (Brighton Rock) was/is more of barbwire shouter in the vein of Tim Keifer (Cinderella). Fraser on the other hand is more of a clean, mean, singer in the style of Kane Roberts meets Dave Meniketti (Y&T). Perhaps not "quite" as impressive, but still, very decent vocals indeed. The music is far from original sounding 80's guitar rock. However, most of the tracks are catchy and the opening number "Blow Me Away" sets pace and standard for the entire album. Tracks like "Savior" and "Broken Hero" reminded me also of early Harem Scarem material. And I do mean e-a-r-l-y Scarem, prior to recording their debut album (stuff that you could find on their rare demos release at Frontiers). "Sugar Daddy" is very much a Gene Simmons' inspired tune with matching lyrics and everything. "Rainbow Eyes" is a decent power ballad, "Paradise" and High Life" is (Brighton) Rock with a hint of DLR (David Lee Roth) during his Skyscraper era. Fine production, thrilling guitar work, and a sense for writing fun, dumb, easy-minded rock, is enuff to please many 80's fan. Find out more about the band and CD at below link.

LOSTPROPHETS: "Liberation Transmission" 7

Sony BMG/Columbia 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
20 September 2006

This is the third album from Welsh rockers Lostprophets, and it's the first one I have heard from them. According to web sources their sound has been more aggressive before and they have had ska and hiphop influences in their music. Those influences aren't really evident here (thank god!), "Liberation Transmission" is well crafted modern rock with some big hooks and excellent production from veteran hard rock producer Bob Rock.

The album gets a strong start with some excellent songs. The first track "Everyday Combat" is probably the album's most aggressive track with some screamy vocals, yet it has a highly melodic, instantly catchy chorus. The extended ending with the screams sounds almost like an antidote to the hook, as if to say that "we're not accessible! We're hardcore!". All that is thrown out the window with the next song, the pop-rock gem "A Town Called Hypocrisy". From screams to "la-la-la"...

"The New Transmission" is somewhere between the two previous songs stylewise, paving the way for "Rooftops", the band's hit single, which actually reminds me of nu-breed wonders SR-71. Catchy stuff with a bit of a 80's "new wave" vibe. The vibe continues in the next song "Can't Stop, Gotta Date With Hate". Actually, the "new wave" vibe is all over the album.

With the remaining songs, the band subjects us to some of the longest song titles in the history of rock. "Everybody's Screaming!" and "4 AM Forever" are the exceptions, and interestingly enough, they are probably the most instant tracks out of them. "Can't Catch Tomorrow (Good Shoes Won't Save You This Time)" and "Broken Hearts, Torn Up Letters And The Story Of A Lonely Girl" are rather good too, but the band runs a bit out of steam towards the end of the album. The three last tracks tend to blur into each other...
Lostprophets Website

MAGNOLIA: "Magnolia" 7

RecordHeaven 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
21 September 2006

Magnolia is heavy and proggy bluesrock that you could find shiploads of during the late 60's/ very early 70's. It's the brainchild of the multi-talented, super-swede, Ronny Eriksson (vocals, guitars, bass, keys), that started composing material for the Magnolia project in the 90's. Ronny wrote all lyrics in his natural tongue of Swedish and there's not a single trace nor word of English to be found.

The music is on the other hand very "English" with British and American influences as the main source of inspiration. It's v-e-r-y groovy guitar oriented stuff in the vein of Bloodrock, Blue Cheer, Cream, and on the occasional track, Jefferson Airplane. Opening track, "Resa Utan Slut" (Endless Journey) will also remind you of Swedish bands such as November and Abramis Brama.

Eriksson keeps it rather basic at times with the usual three/four chord boogie that brings right to mind just how 'groovy' the early hardrock days were. "Kvarnsten" (Millstone) is a few notches up and stuffed with impressive riffing and a radical refrain. "Försvunnen" (Lost) dips into a mucky blur of Bloodrock and Cream melodies. The two instrumental numbers are rather 'plain' and direct to the point without any mindless shredding or guitar wanking. The music attitude of Pugh Rogefeldt (early 70's stuff) can also be found in a couple of the tracks. It's overall a pretty solid album with a very dated sound and approach. Not poor at all though.
Magnolia @ Myspace

RIOT: "Army Of One" 7

Metal Heaven 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
24 September 2006

Among the die-hard metal fans, Riot is a legendary band. Their album "Fire Down Under" and "Narita" are considered classics of the US Metal genre. The legions of casual metal fans haven't found the band though, and they never really became a first division act. My last encounter with the band was "The Privilege Of Power" album back in 1990, and I was actually under the impression that they had packed it in years ago. It appears that they've been around, and released albums throughout the nineties and a couple on this decade as well. Despite that, "Army Of One" could be considered a comeback album, since it's been 4 years since their latest release, and this one will probably be more of a high profile album.

I really didn't know what to expect with "Army Of One", as I was not up-to-date with the band's recent albums. Somehow I thought that this would be a much heavier effort, but much to my surprise most of the songs are very melodic. Sure, there are a few tracks that remind me of the speed(ish) metal of the "Thundersteel"-era, the title track or the Malmsteen-like "The Mystic", but otherwise it's something quite different. On the first half of the album I'm constantly reminded of guitarist Mark Reale's recent project Westworld, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of these tracks were written for that band originally. The vocals of Mike DiMeo sound a lot like Tony Harnell's (Westworld) at times, although he's not quite as highpitched. In fact, his closest comparison overall would be Hardline/Axel Rudi Pell singer Johnny Gioeli.

Most of my favourite tracks are on the first half of the album, as the band takes a left turn of the second half. It kicks off with the aforementioned "The Mystic", but then they go a bit too bluesy and dull for my money. Add a skillful, but uninteresting instrumental to that, and the good vibe of the first few tracks is gone. Thankfully, they manage to pick up the pace with the last track, a solid melodic hard rock track "Darker Side Of The Night".

All in all, "Army Of One" showcases a heavy metal band which has matured with grace and style, and I hope that this will indeed raise their profile.
Riot website

JOKER FIVE SPEED: "Rock'N Roll Is A..." 5

Perris 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
17 September 2006

Joker Five Speed is dirty, smelly, rock and roll from the very centre of New York City. "Rock'N Roll Is A Motherf***er" is a compilation of songs recorded between the years of 2000-2006. The overall material simply reeks of The Hellacopters and Turbo Negro music. To my mind, this is not quite as inspiring or intense a recording as above mentioned acts. However, it certainly contains raw and simple rock ingredients, loud guitars, a distinguishable bass, kicking drums, and rebel yells.

It's obviously music that dates back to the heydays of KISS, Iggy Pop, but also The Dictators and their overall punky attitude in the 70's. It's somewhat decent stuff, but there's nothing truly amazing that will encourage everybody to rush to the stores to get a copy of Joker Five Speed. Close but no cigar, keep smokin' those cigarettes' tho'.

AMPLIFIER: "Insider" 6

SPV 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
20 September 2006

It's mostly been a experience of disappointment and discomfort when it comes to the music of Amplifier. I never quite understood the hype and what all the fuzz was really about. Not until now, did I at least found a couple of highlights on the brand new release of "Insider". This is a major step, no, a leap forward since last time around. Everything is louder, more intense, but it's still a long way to go to excellent.

The band are capable of a lot of things and "Insider" shows many of them. Most of the individual tracks seem to cover all bases from spacy, early, 70's rock of Rush, the complex music of Tool, to the basic sound of early 90's Seattle rock. Nevertheless, I still find several of the tracks to be too much of a dodgy LSD trip. "Strange Sea Of Thoughts" is like a pool of misery where you could easily drown... if not looked out for properly. You can't arguee with the fact that it's tailor made for its market. However, does the market really need a tailor if it ain't got a tail? [Ed: what?!] Absolutely gobsmacking at times and truly boring the other minute.

MEMFIS: "The Wind-Up" 3

Dental 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
20 September 2006

Dental Records is a new Swedish label from the guys behind Threemann Recordings (Entombed) and Cold Records (Scar Symmetry). Memfis from Kristinehamn/Sweden is their first CD release and the debut album "The Wind-Up" is a fairly noisy affair. It's packed full of metal anthems in the concept of consumption paranoia and indecision (at least when it comes to music style and genre).

The Memfis music is slightly out of context and expanded beyond any real recognition. It's hardcore, progressive metal, with death metal grunts and truly impressive guitarwork by the two slingers of Mattias Engström (vocals, guitar) and Johan Boqvist (vocals, guitar). The solid rhythm section consiting of Christian Öhberg (bass) and Carl Johan Lindblad (drums), turns out to be the only safe harbor in a blood red sea of madness and chaos.

Indeed, it's like a massive overkill of complex melodies heavily inspired by acts such as Burst, Mastodon, Opeth, etc. I find this to be even more 'hardcore' and over-the-top though. It's actually difficult to recall any melodies and/or landscape, once you've turned off your stereo (the trick is to never turn it off?). It's like, sure... definitely heavy, crunchy guitars, truly evil musicians. It's also remarkably flat, lifeless, borderline dull. It'll probably work the best live in front of a suicidal audience of hardcore kids (get into the pit - get into the pit).

VILLEBRÅD: "Alla Är Här Utom Jag" 2

RecordHeaven 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
20 September 2006

If you're in a mood for something a little more adventurous (a lot actually) than the usual rock formula, why not have a go at Sweden's Villebråd. It's actually challaging just to try and translate the band name from Swedish to English. Nontheless, the hunting term of 'Fair Game' would be a decent and rather appropriate description.

Villebråd was formed in Uppsala (just outside of Stockholm) Sweden in 2004 by the Sundström brothers, Erik and Påhl (Paul). "Alla Är Här Utom Jag" (Everyone's present, except me) is a weird musical stew consisting of 70's Prog, 80's New Wave, and modern, Swedish Pop. The absolutely easiest way out to even try and describe all aspects of this CD, would be 'music in the vein of Camel, Japan, Kent'. I know, I know, it sounds like an awful mish-mash and I'm not entirely sure who or what they're aiming at with this CD.

How do you reach out to a public area, if your music is like a wacky mix of Camel, Japan and Kent??? Well, they sure have taken many different sounds and musical dialects and pulled them together to create something, that in all honestly, is just too weird in the end. Unpredictable and only recommended if you'd like to have a out-of-body experience (dude...).

Tommy BOLIN: "Whips And Roses II"

SPV 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
20 September 2006

The main problem with any Tommy Bolin release in the year of 2006? Well, it features absolutely nothing new or groundbreaking that we haven't already heard in the past. Let's be frank, this particular guitar hero died 30 years ago (his excellent guitar playing will live on forever though), and how many different versions of the (pretty much) same material does any fan really need or desire? Nope, you can't help to notice his tremendous skill and talent even in this time and era. What if, that's all I'm saying, what if. Can you imagine him during the golden days of hardrock and heavy metal (early 80's). Wow, it's a shame drugs got in the way of a superb guitarist. He was merely at the age of 24 when he died of multiple drug intoxication on 4 December, 1976 (R.I.P.). Strickly for the die-hard fans, the rest will do with "Teaser", "Private Eyes", and Deep Purple's "Come Taste The Band".

MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE: "Welcome To The Black Parade"

Warner 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
18 September 2006

I believe that "Welcome To The Black Parade" is merely a taster of greater things to come. My Chemical Romance's follow up album to 2004'a platinum selling "Three Cheers For Sweet" will be released on October 25th. Let's merely hope that they've included a bunch of tracks in a similar style and approach as this smashing single release.

The result is a powerful toon' whcih soon finds its way under your skin, provided that you're open minded to this MTV friendly Rock/Pop/Punk genre in the first place. Check out the build up and intro of "Welcoem To The Black Parade" as it's even close to the work of Queen at times. Guitarist Frank Leno does try and include a couple of Brian May type licks, before the toon' kicks into overdrive and punky overtures. Very bombastic, very catchy, check out the song at:
(Windows Media)

CIRCLE2CIRCLE: "Burden Of Truth" 9

AFM Records 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
18 szeptember 2006

In my Jon Oliva’s Pain review I said: Who needs Savatage when we have JOP??. Now I can say: Hho needs Savatage when we have Circle2Circle, the notorious power metal band around vocalist Zak Stevens. His debut was - a remarkable album filled with melodic power metal gems – followed by a rather somehow disappointing second album. But now he releases his third and best album so far, called "Burden of truth". It is a concept album inspired by "The Da Vinci Code" and "Holy Blood Holy Grail". So, Circle2Circle start a journey through mind, fantasy, fact and history on this amazing album. A secret message is hidden among the CD artwork and clues can be heard in the lyrics that lead the listener to a final destination. So, can you break the grail code while listening to this brilliant album?

First of all I can say that this CD is dominated by the guitar riffs, melodies and solos of Andrew Lee and Evan Christopher. Furthermore Zak’s voice is again stunning and really emotional and dramatic, especially in the power ballads "Your Reality" and "The Black". The album opens with the mind blowing "Who Am I To Be?", featuring a piano intro, Savatage-like guitar riffs, powerful vocals and sheer brilliant guitar melodies and solos. "Revelations" is a typical Circle2Circle mid tempo song with strong guitar melodies, exquisite vocals and the song sounds so familiar...

Zak keeps the best for last as "Sentenced", "Burden Of Truth" and "Live As One" are the true magical songs on this CD. "Sentenced" is a power ballad with dazzling emotional singing and staggering guitar solos. The title track is also the longest(6:44), and this one has it all: magical vocals, exceptional guitar passages, harmony vocals bringing back memories of good old Savatage and lots of gooseflesh melodies! The album ends with another highlight called "Live As One". A song that starts with a beautiful piano intro followed by a guitar riff that reminds me of Savatage albums like "The Wake Of Magellan" or "Dead Winter Dead". The song has a magic chorus, lots of strings and an up tempo guitar solo in the end. A perfect ending to an almost perfect album. With this third strike, the band is moving further, presenting themselves deeper and more charismatic than ever before.

This album is a must have for power metal fans, and who needs Savatage now that we have JOP and Circle2Circle?

DREAM EVIL: "United" 6

Century Media 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
18 September 2006

Swedish metal band Dream Evil are proudly following in the footsteps of Manowar, writing songs about the power of METAL. Most definitely in capital letters... Their previous albums have included songs such as "Heavy Metal Jesus" and "The Book Of Heavy Metal", and on this album the METAL song is called "Fire! Battle! In Metal!".

As you might guess, the music of Dream Evil is anthemic traditional metal, along the lines of Hammerfall, Judas Priest, Manowar or their Finnish equivalent, Teräsbetoni. Most of these songs are tailormade to be performed in front of metal-hungry fans, with their fists in the air, shouting along to the choruses.

The album starts strongly with the aforementioned "Fire! Battle! In Metal!", followed by the athemic title track and "Blind Evil", a bit Accept-like with an excellent, catchy chorus. Unfortunately the next three songs can only be described as average, with the tiresome "Higher On Fire" being a perfect example of an uninspired lyric... yes, there's "desire" in the chorus as well!

"Kingdom At War" is one of the better songs, thanks to a good, melodic chorus, but I can't really get a grip of the ballad "Love Is Blind". I like it, but on the other hand it's a bit unmemorable. The Maiden-like "Falling" is okay, but the last two original tracks "Back From The Dead" and "Doomlord" are again a bit average.

The last track of the album is a bit of a surprise. It's a cover, and a rather funny choice - Helena Paparizou's Eurovision 2005 winner song "My Number One"! This version is surely better than the original, and thanks to it, the album ends on a positive note.
Dream Evil Website

THE CYAN VELVET PROJECT: "The Essence Of Disposal" 4

Poko/Gaga Goodies 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
18 September 2006

Here's one for the more open-minded rock fans... although we cover a wide spectrum of styles, this band has very little to do with most of the bands on our pages. The music of The Cyan Velvet Project could be described as experimental, industrial metal/rock with some gothic influences. Frankly, their excentric sound does nothing for me, but then again, if the likes of Slipknot, Marilyn Manson and System Of A Down can sell millions of CD's, I have no doubt that this band could just as well.

The band uses samples, metal guitars, programmed drums, various vocal styles (grunts, clean vocals, ethreal female vocals etc) and whatever strange sounds to create their sonic assault. It's unpredictable and fairly interesting for sure, but at the same time I find some of their songs rather disturbing and annoying. This album is not for me, and I dare to say that it's not for most of our readers either. However, if you ended up on this page by accident while doing a web search on System Of A Down... hey, check out this band!

The Cyan Velvet Project Website

RHAPSODY OF FIRE: "Triumph or agony" 9

Steamhammer/SPV 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
13 September 2006

Who the hell is Rhapsody of Fire??? Well, it is the new name for the Italian film score metal band Rhapsody. They had to change their name due to trademark and copyright issues, so now they perform under a brand new name and they release a splendid new CD called "Triumph or agony". Some people still do not understand why I like this band so much as lots of critics call their music pure kitsch and many people even hate this Italian bombastic power metal. I cannot get enough of it as my "weird" music side loves this overdramatic Italian film score metal. As you perhaps know I am a big fan of Richard Wagner and I simply adore fantasy writers like Tolkien and Goodkind, so maybe that explains my feelings towards Rhapsody of Fire a bit... Furthermore I consider singer Fabio Leone to be the Pavarotti of the metal world so now you know all about my "love" for this extraordinary band.

"Triumph or agony" is the second chapter in the "Dark Secret" saga and the band continues their bombastic tradition with a live 70 piece orchestra and choir, featuring also an array of guest narrators and character actors, making this almost a true Italian opera again. The album starts with a spooky voice and some opera like strings and choir passages, providing a perfect Rhapsody of Fire overture. The title track follows and this one is an up- tempo Rhapsody all over song with lots of harmony vocals, very bombastic musical passages and Fabio singing like a young opera god.

"The myth of the holy sword" features very dramatic and emotional vocal parts, a really addictive chorus, a gooseflesh melody and a short but very sparkling guitar solo, turning it into one of the highlights of this album. "Il canto del vento" is Fabio’s debut as a songwriter and it is almost a Pucchini-like mini aria, featuring Italian lyrics and really dramatic vocals, which makes you wonder if this track is art or kitsch?? Rhapsody of Fire is at its best during the epic (over 16 minutes) "The mystic prophecy of the demon knight", a great example of a cinema soundtrack adapted to a metal song. This one has it all: medieval musical influences, headbanging riffs, strings, choir, bombastic orchestral passages, narrative parts, speed metal parts with grunts and also balladesque passages! This is the absolute master piece of this fantastic new album as Rhapsody of Fire is still one of the most unusual phenomena in the current metal scene and I cannot get enough of it. I know I am crazy and probably not even objective about this band, but what the f... Just buy this album and enjoy!

UFO: "The Monkey Puzzle" 7

Steamhammer/SPV 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
13 September 2006

"Strangers in the night" is still one of the best live albums ever, but unfortunately UFO have never reached that musical level again. In fact the last albums were rather okay but not very innovative or musically interesting. Three years ago Vinnie Moore joined the band and his magic guitar playing gave the band another musical boost. And altough the latest UFO has a very strong and great line-up – Mogg, Way, Raymond, Moore and Parker – the new album called "The monkey puzzle" is not an album that makes you want to run to the store and buy it without even listening to it.

Of course the album rocks, Phil’s voice is still in very good shape, Vinnie plays his guitar like a true king, but the compositions are all rather mediocre. I have heard it all before, on other, better UFO albums. Take for instance a song like "Who’s Fooling Who?" or "Black and Blue", a track with "Lights Out" musical elements all over the song.

The two best songs are "Drink too much" and "Good bye You" which feature astounding guitar solos by Vinnie and he really shines during these two songs. Especially the power ballad "Good bye you" is a treat to my ears with sheer dazzling guitar picking. The rest of the album is just rock music without further real highlights. If it were not for the amazing guitar melodies, solos and riffs by Moore then this album would truly be a mediocre rock album, which is in my opinion a sad but true observation...

TOURIST: "The Relevance Of Motion" 6

MTM Music/Psychoactive 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
7 September 2006

MTM have resurrected their sub-label Psychoactive recently, and this CD is one of its' first releases. It's certainly quite different to the main label's releases, and somehow I think that those of you still mourning over the demise of Atenzia label might find this CD interesting.

Tourist is a Canadian band playing modern rock. Their sound should be perfect for today's contemporary rock radio, not too heavy but with enough bite for most listeners. The album is well produced, the songs are carefully arranged and they are quite melodic, but... despite all of this, I can't really get into this. I've played the album again and again, yet there are about three songs that made a stronger impression. The one song that stands out the most is "Throw It Away", not because it's that different to the rest of the album, but because it has the best hook of the album. The two other songs that I liked the most are the curiously titled "LRT" and "High Speed"... still, as a background music the whole album is quite okay, and all of the songs are decent enough. It's just not something that I can get all worked up about.

There's one thing I've got to mention: vocalist Blaine Braun is a deadringer to Alan Frew of Glass Tiger - at times it's uncanny how much they sound alike. In my books, that isn't a bad thing at all.. Indeed, without his excellent vocal performance this album would have gotten a lower rating.
Tourist Website

SLAMER: "Nowhere Land" 8

Frontiers 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
11 September 2006

The name of Mike Slamer has been a guarantee of quality hard rock music for the past twenty years or so. This is his first solo album, and it isn't going to change that guarantee! The album sounds like a million bucks, Slamer's guitar playing is exceptional and the songwriting is very good. There are a few songs that I just can't get into, hence the rating of only "8", but make no mistake about it - the good songs are very good.

While this is a solo album, it doesn't mean that Slamer did it all himself. His "partners in crime" from Seventh Key are heavily featured, Billy Greer providing backing vocals and Terry Brock taking care of the lead vocals. In addition, Chet Wynd plays the drums and Scott Bal adds some backing vocals to the opener "Nowhere Land".

Compared to the other recent Slamer projects Steelhouse Lane and Seventh Key, "Nowhere Land" does sound familiar, yet it has a vibe of its' own. The songs are longer and at times more ethreal and vague. An example of this is my least favourite track "Beyond The Pale", a song I've heard at least a dozen times now, yet I can't remember much about it. It just floats along... on the other hand, when mixed with some memorable melodies, the ethreal vibe works perfectly. "Come To Me" is an 8 minutes long ballad, but it doesn't feel that long, thanks to a stunning chorus and fine melodies.

While almost half of the album is quite slowpaced, there are some killer hard rock tracks among the more balladic mood pieces. The title track and "Not In Love" are both very good mixtures of progressive and AOR elements, but the highlight of the album for me is "Higher Ground", an intense rocker with a brilliant hook.

Out of the remaining slower tracks, "Jaded" and "Runaway" are both among my favourite tracks and "Strength To Carry On" is very good too. As for the rest, I like the lyrical content of "Audio Illusion", which is about modern-day pop stars with very little or no musical talent at all. Musically it doesn't grab me that much. The same goes for "Perfect Circle" and "Superstar", altohugh both of them have their moments. The chorus of "Perfect Circle" is quite likeable, but it does sound really similar to Journey's "Signs Of Life".

Even though "Nowhere Land" may not be the melodic rock masterpiece some sources claim it to be, it's certainly a very good album with some excellent songs, great performances and fine production.

Ty TABOR: "Rock Garden" 7

Inside Out/SPV 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
11 September 2006

Four years ago guitar player Ty Tabor (King’s X) released a rather disappointing rock album called "Safety". Now, he surprises me with an interesting guitar album, proving that Ty still has that unique, identifable guitar sound, which fits perfectly with his Beatle-esque compositions. Finally Ty is back to his roots and he rocks again, like I want him to rock. The opener "Ride" features a great heavy, funky guitar riff making me want to bang my head right from the start. The guitar solo in that track is also very worthwhile and promises a lot for this album. A couple of the songs could also be material for the new King’s X album, like the rocky "Stalker", the ballad-like "Beautiful Sky" or the catchy "Pretty Good".

The musical gems on this CD are without any doubt "Afraid" (superb guitar playing) and "Play", a very sleazy, bluesy track with an awesome guitar solo. However not all the songs are of that high quality. "She’s A Tree" is a rather dull straighforward rock track and "Wading In" is a typical Ty Tabor rock ballad, nice but nothing special. Most of the songs are however rather colourful and very lively and tend to get under your skin after a couple of times. I hope that I Ty Tabor will also be doing some gigs with this material and hopefully he will return to Europe with King’s X very soon.

TEMPESTA: "Fulltime Joker - Fill The Voids" 6

Quam Libet Records 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
7 September 2006

This is the third album from Swiss hard rock/metal group Tempesta, and it might be the one to get them more recognition. They've enlisted the services of two well-known hard rock vocalists as producers, namely Michael Bormann (Ex-Jaded Heart, Rain, Zeno) and Mark Sweeney (Crystal Ball), and naturally these great singers provide backing vocals too.

The variety of styles that Tempesta have to offer is quite wide, and it's probably easiest to explain by going through the tracks one by one. The title track "Fulltime Joker" opens the album in an aggressive and furious manner, reminding me strongly of Megadeth. Vocalist/guitarist Thalmann Reto sounds like Sebastian Bach impersonating Dave Mustaine on this track! "Stagedive" mixes Metallica-like crunch to a more melodic style in a very interesting way, while "Ain't Gonna Tell Ya" is a slightly bluesy hard rock track, not too far from the likes of Cinderella. "Pain" is driven by a very catchy riff and features some nice piano touches, but I can't say I care for the nu-metal chorus. "Grow" is again in a different direction, a laid-back semi-ballad that reminds me of such pub-rockers as Dogs D'Amour or The Quireboys.

If Metallica had more of a sleaze rock vibe, they'd be chruning out tracks like "I'm Back". The Hetfield influence starts to really shine through in vocalist Reto's style... same goes for the next track "Do You Understand Me". "The Chosen One" is more melodic, with a good chorus, and it's the chorus again which saves "Seeing Ain't Believing" from being forgettable. "Bluesman" is the last track and in keeping with the "theme" of the album, again in a new style. This bluesy ballad sounds very much like Poison during the "Native Tongue" era!

The crazy mix of styles from one track to another is quite interesting, but it doesn't help to define the "Tempesta sound", especially when the influences are sometimes very upfront.
Tempesta Website

SUNSTORM: "Sunstorm" 9

Frontiers 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
4 September 2006

I've been a major fan of Joe Lynn Turner's vocals ever since I first heard "Street Of Dreams". His "Rescue You" solo album happens to be one of those CD's I always return to for a fix of excellent and pure 80's AOR. Not to forget the short, but rather excellent, collaboration with Yngwie Malmsteen (Odyssey) and Deep Purple (Slaves And Masters). It's been a long time since though and the new Sunstorm project featuring JLT is without a doubt his best work in +15 years.

Indeed, Sunstorm is a brand new project where JLT finally returns to the pure AOR and melodic rock. Some of these tracks dates back to his early solo days and should have made it to his second album for Elektra. This particular info kept me puzzled though, since there can merely be a couple of these songs included among the total of 12 tracks. The rest are all written by the likes of Van Stephenson, Dann Huff (Giant), John Parr, Kelly Keagy, Jim Peterik (Survivor, Pride Of Lions), etc. Not a bad list of songwriters and credit must also go out to Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69) for his fine job of creating a solid production and background performances (much like the Place Vendome project with Michael Kiske - Helloween). This is nothin 'but pure JOLT excellence from the opening notes of "Keep Tonight" to the closing track of "Arms Of Love". And it's definitely goosebumps warning during AOR rockers such as "Fame And Fortune" and "This Is My Heart". "Strength Over Time" is perfect bliss and "Another You" is a Jim Peterik semi-ballad that goes straight for the heart. It actually sounds like the theme song from a late 70's /early 80's Dudley Moore film. Very much in the vein of Christopher Cross and his era and time. "Love's Gone Wrong" is old school AOR and "Danger Of Love" will quickly become a favourite among the 80's fans.

"Heart Over Mind" and "Fist Full Of Heat" were originally recorded by Van Stephenson and they are both top notch AOR rockers. "Night Moves" is a fine cover of Marilyn Martin's top-40 hit from 1985, she co-wrote it with John Parr and it's a smashing Pat Benatar kind of AOR tune. "Arms Of Love" was originally written by Jim Peterik at the time for the Survivor album "Too Hot To Sleep", but didn't make the cut. Peterik brought it later along for The David Carl Band project at MTM Music and they re-wrote the song and recorded it back in the late 90's. This time it's JLT's turn and it's still a darn fine ballad... but hardly anything new to the die-hards. Yep, the only downer about Sunstorm would be the recycling of material (much like The Richie Zito Project). Unreleased material is all fine by me, however, there's no obvious point in re-recording old AOR tunes (unless we're talking about a pure tribute or cover album). The originals are always the best anyhow and what does it tell us about the quality of songwriting as of today? Are they not capable of penning down any new, catchy, melodic rock songs? Yep, Sunstorm is still v-e-r-y much pleasing to the ears, but this re-recording business is definitely something to discuss and think about.

MAD MAX: "In White"

AOR Heaven 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
4 September 2006

German hard rock band Mad Max surprised many with their "comeback" album "Night Of White Rock" last year. Not so much musically, but lyrically they had made some drastic changes by adopting a Christian message to the songs. The new EP "In White" continues to establish Mad Max as a Christian Rock band, possibly even more than the "NOWR" album.

"In White" contains 5 acoustic songs and a short instrumental piece, so it's not a full album by any means. The opening track is "To Hell And Back Again", originally an uptempo metal song from the previous album. Here's it's been transformed into a latin-flavoured pop track, but as scary as that might sound, it sounds very good. The melodies are more upfront. "Open The Eyes Of My Heart" is a popular Christian song from USA (written by Paul Beloche and recorded by Michael W. Smith among others). It's a bit repetitive and maybe a bit too gospel-like for some rock fans, but all the same, it's quite nice'n mellow. Same could be said for the band's new song "Hello Father". The piano/vocal version of "Bad Day In Heaven" (original version on "NOWR") is very moody and intense, while the remake of "Lonely Is The Hunter" (from "Stormchild") is interesting, but a bit disappointing. The original version has a good chorus, but for this version the band has ditched it in favour of just repeating the song's title. I'm not so sure about the "lonely-lonely" chant in the end of the song either. The instrumental "Reprise" ends the album, and it's a nice little song featuring the main melody from "Bad Day In Heaven".

"In White" is an interesting experiment and works quite well, but won't probably go to the history books as the band's finest work.
Mad Max Website

AVALON: "The Richie Zito Project" 7

FRontiers 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
4 September 2006

I've been looking forward to this AOR project by famed producer, session guitarist, Richie Zito. Sure enough, I plug this shiny, round, plastic, sucker, [it's just too darn easy to write down CD ;-)] into the player and blasting out through my loudspeakers comes the lovely sound of... PRISM??? What the heck, I take a closer look at the disc, yep, it still reads 'Avalon - The Richie Zito Project'. However, the first three tracks are all re-recordings of PRISM songs from the 1983 album "Beat Street". The closing track "I Don't Want To Want You (Anymore)" is yet another PRISM tune from that very album and year. So... this is a cover album then? a tribute to PRISM? Nah, perhaps not, it's a bit of a downer though, especially since most AOR fans already have this fine record in his/her collection (if not, I can highly recommended an excellent 2-CD release from ATM Records in Germany with both Small Changes & Beat Street - see review in our archive).

Actually, Richie Zito is involved as a session player on "Beat Street". The Canadian act Prism began its story back in the mid-70's by another great producer, namely Bruce Fairbairn (R.I.P.), he started the band with drummer Jim Vallance, yep, the same Vallance that would later become a famed songwriter to Bryan Adams, KISS, Aerosmith, etc. Back to Avalon, it's a darn fine gathering of melodic rock musicians with Zito as producer and guitar player (also bass, synth, mandolin). Check out the impressive all-star list of lead vocalists along with the tracks below.

Hugo Valenti (Valentine, Open Skyz) is the first player to step up to the plate with the Prism cover "Blue Collar", a fine AOR rocker that always reminded me of "Hot Blooded" by Foreigner. Hugo also sings duet with Giorgio Moroder on "Blue Monday" and it's yet another homerun. Rainbow and Deep Purple's Joe Lynn Turner is up next with the Prism tune "Is He Better Than Me". This is a lovely AOR tune that fits nicely in with his new Sunstorm project. Hey, it's top notch AOR 'ala 1983 after all, what more can you possibly ask for? However, Eddie Money doesn't exactly do justice to the all-time PRISM classic "Nightmare". I love the original version with the slightly wacky and soaring vocals of Henry Small. The 'Money-Man' is more of a rough, low-pitched singer, that can't really lift this to the extreme heights of Small and Prism. By the way, check out the stick and you'll notice that Paul Stanley (KISS) reused it for the title track on "Lick It Up". Eddie Money also sings lead on "I Put My Life In Your Hands" and this certainly fits him like a glove. He makes it his and the result is remarkable, a smooth AOR tune that would have done miracles in the 80's.

Joe Williams (TOTO, Vertigo) up next and "Oh Samantha" is a nice little AOR ballad with a quite similar sound to "Amanda" by Boston. "Avalon" is the work of Danny Vaughn (Tyketto, Waysted) and it's decent, but hardly anything different from the average Vaughn material. From the first note, you'll notice that "Life Got In The Way" is sung by someone out-of-the-ordinary riff-raff. Eric Martin (Mr.Big) is the name and singing is his favourite game. He also sings the last Prism cover, "I Don't Want To Want You (Anymore)", and it's one classy power ballad as all Prism fans are already aware of. Richie Kotzen (Posion, Mr.Big) behind the mike with "Forever I Will", it's unfortunately a rather pale R&B ballad (zzz..). Philip Bardowell (Unruly Child, Peter Criss, solo) on vocals for the two tracks of "I Can't Forget You" and "Good Things Take Time". Credit to the 'Bard' for turning these two tracks into major AOR songs in the vein of late 80's material.

What about the production by Richie Zito? Well, don't expect any big late 80's/early 90's sound or miracles as it's rather rough sounding at times. Not all crap, however, Zito has his own studio, right? why can't he make the sound bigger and even better??? It's hardly a question of budget, if you already got your own top-class studio to work at. It's just a question of time, effort, craftmanship, and the love of music of course. Final verdict: Yep, it's fluffy AOR and rather nice to the ears as well. You certainly can't go all wrong with such a classy line-up. You will obviously enjoy this even more if you don't mind the re-recordings, never even heard about PRISM, or if you simply just want to listen to the songs again with other vocals.

PSYCH ONATION: "Symphony Of Death" 7

TMC Nordic 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
3 September 2006

Psych Onation is basically Lambretta minus Linda Sundblad and with new female vocalist, Vilaivon Hagman. Petter Lantz (bass) and Markus Nowak (drums) more or less decided to continue on the same path as before, with the exception of this project being slightly darker, harder, and full of loops and crunching guitars. Well, simply read once more the name of the band and the title of their album and you know what I'm talking about.

It's Swedish, modern, rock with a hint of good old industry metal. Actually, the easiest way out to describe the sound of this CD would be like a mix of Lambretta, Clawfinger, and perhaps even Marilyn Manson at times. With song titles such as "Game Over", "F****d Up", "Livin' Dead", "Afraid Of Dark" and "Rage/Hate", you expect this to be tacky and corny as hell. However, the overall material is positive and catchy melodies with a hook to die for.

The only negative thing about Psych Onation would be that pretty much all songs are steeped into the same kind of formula and style. They all have some trippy loops and wacky over-the top vocals with crunching guitars in the same midtempo approach. The first 7 songs are great, however, when you're down at 8-13 everything is just a big blur of similar melodies and phrases. Well, "Voices" is a darn fine ballad with yet again a strange feeling of deja vu'. The bottomline: Pysch Onation is what you'll get if Lambretta would ever hang out with the Clawfinger bozo's. It's catchy, crunchy, and modern rock/metal... with a tad too similar and monotonous material.

DYSINFORMATION: "Dysinformation" 4

Eat Rite/Head First Enter. 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
3 September 2006

Dysinformation is appearantly the band of vocalist Pete Mainzer (ex-Hammer Head), who also works with Robby Knievel (the son of Evil Knievel) at his motorcycle-jumping madness show in the states. Ehem, talk about dysinformation and not really in context with the music nor the band.

They do unfortunately sound a lot like my favourite hate pet and object from the grunge era, namely Alice In Chains. I do enjoy (early) Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and even Nirvana (to a certain point), but I simply can't figure out the acid-tripping rock of Alice In Chains. Dysinformation do however include some good old fashioned hard rock influences in the vein of Guns N' Roses and Black Label Society in their music as well. The latter isn't that surprising, when you realize that guitarist Andy Beech was Zakk Wylde's guitar tech and guitar builder for both Prince & Wylde. In fact, closing track, "Suicide Machine" is clearly the best song of the CD with some truly impressive guitar work and a catchy refrain.

The info sheet let's us know that 'their collective roots are in traditional hardrock and metal, the quartet took those elements and applied modern rock techniques to their writing approach'. Modern? really? what's so modern about 12-15 year old grunge melodies... It's frankly not 'up-to-date' anymore and it's not even remotely interesting that they all hail from this town called Seattle. The grungy version of Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild" is clearly not the best cover song out there. Try this: if you're into gloomy Alice In Chains melodies with a kick-azz lead guitarist in the vein of Zakk Wylde.


* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 31-35/06 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 31-35/06 * * * * *
Fair Warning, Mon Roe, Pete Yorn, Krokus, Masterpiece, Ra's Dawn, Eagles Of Death Metal, Jon Oliva's Pain, Steve Hackett, Leverage, Elixir, Taz Taylor Band, Saidian, Persuader, charity album "Guitarists For The Kids", "Hollywood Hairspray 5", Mötorhead, Slayer, Axel Rudi Pell, New Dawn Foundation, Planet Alliance, Evil Masquerade, Mortification.

* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 26-30/06 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 26-30/06 * * * * *
Saracen, Strapping Young Lad, Shooting Star, Lunatica, KICK's Mikey Jones, Cactus, Dirty Rig, Foreigner, Ten, Brother Firetribe, The Poodles, Shark Island, Zebrahead, Cloven Hoof, Surveillance, John Waite, Saxon, Sister Manik, Jones Bros, Hotwire, Pride Of Lions.

* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 21-25/06 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 21-25/06 * * * * *
Hotwire, Pride Of Lions, Gary Moore DVD, Firewind, Mannhai, The Order, Cheap Trick, Glenn Hughes, Def Leppard, Dio's "Angry Machines" and "Last In Live" and Rainbow's "Live In Munich 1977" 2-CD, Sweet Cheater, Street Talk, Deacon Street 2, Vertigo 2, Vengeance, John West, Saga, Cloudscape, The Prowlers, Relapsed Winter's Bane, PAX, George Thorogood, Shining Star (feat. Lance King) and Lana Lane's DVD.

* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 16-20/06 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 16-20/06 * * * * *
Say Anything, Mother's Finest, Assailant, Heed, Tim Neu and Jeff Scott Soto's Ballads, re-issued first Da Vinci CD, Appendix, Luca Turilli's Dreamquest, Dezperadoz, Gary Barden, Tool, Taking Back Sunday, House Of Mirrors, Newman, Swingin' Thing, Michael Kiske, Bonfire, House Of Lords, Backyard Babies, comeback compilation from Treat, German rockers Oomph, Pink, Finnish rockers Kara, Veni Domine, Beyond Fear, Slave To The System, Celtic Frost and a couple of live albums from Deep Purple and Mötley Crüe. Wig Wam album, a DVD from Joe Bonamassa, re-issued Rocky IV soundtrack, new classic rock from Glyder, instrumental rock from Jill, Yan, acoustic live material from Wetton/Downes, Empire and Giuntini Project III - both albums feat. Tony Martin on vocals, Fatal Force, Akira Kajiyama with Joe Lynn Turner and Luca Turilli's latest opus, Schenker Group's 25th anniversary album. AOR supergroup Last Autumn's Dream and the much-debated comeback album of Survivor.

* * * * * 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.

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

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