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THUNDER: "Robert Johnson's Tombstone" 9

Frontiers 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
5 November 2006

We all know the story about blues guitarist Robert Johnson, right? The legend tells us that he met the devil at a dusty crossroad and made a deal... Johnson's soul to become the greatest blues guitarist of his time. By the way, didn't Steve Vai play the part as the devil in some crappy movie titled Crossroads??? Anyhow, it's appearantly Harry's turn now [see frontcover] and "Robert Johnson's Tombstone" is without a doubt the best and most cohesive Thunder album since the early 90's.

It's sheer classic rock from the word go and a massive overkill of powerful guitar riffs and fun melodies. Instead of "Dirty Love" you now get "Dirty Dream" and you can't help to wonder why they are (still) not a household name all over the world. Check out the lovely hammond [humming in the background] during "A Million Faces", which also happens to be superb power ballad in the classic tradition of Thunder. From the moment Bowes shouts-out the opening phrase of "Don't Wanna Talk About Love", you know it's going to be a good one. You wont find a better mix of 70's classic U.K. Rock and catchy 80's stuff than the songwriting team of Bowes/Morley. OK, the opening titletrack may scare away a couple of potential buyers (since it's very 'basic' blues at first) but the song explodes into a real guitar rocker after a couple of minutes.

"Last Man Standing" is the Led Zeppelin version of Thunder and you just gotta love its oriental beat and vibe. Not to mention the catchy refrain and that Bowes now sound better than ever in 2006. "My Darkest Hour" is yet another Thunder ballad that goes straight for the heart. It's a real softy and it's definitely goosebumps warning towards the end. "Andy Warhol Said" is five minutes of fun guitar rock and "What A Beautiful Day" goes down as the most uplifting song of the year. The bottomline: there's absolutely nothing new or groundbreaking about "Robert Johnson's Tombstone". It's rather a step back to the purity of Thunder and it's all a bag of fun really. Only praise this time (what a boring review, huh?).

PEER GÜNT: "Crazy Wild One" 8

Edel 2006
Review by Satu Reunanen
7 November 2006

Finnish Peer Günt is one of those bands, that isn't all too familiar to people outside Finland, but has done a long and admirable career, kicking off already in the 70's, and gaining a loyal fanbase in their homecountry. It is true, that their fans mostly consist of harsh biker-looking men and that their gigs are wild, but they've found a female fanbase too. Let the truth be know, I was never a fan myself, but you can't avoid not following this bands career, as many Finnish hard rockers are into this crazy live band.

The bands line-up changed just last year, as Teijo "Tsöötz" Kettula and Teijo "Twist Twist" Erkinharju left the band after a really long career in PG. The new members are Petri "Pete" Pohjanniemi and Sauli "Sakke" Koivula. But fear not, the bands mix of boogie-blues-hard rock sound hasn't changed much really. This single featuring two songs, "Crazy Wild One" and "Black Train", rocks as any other PG release, with the guitars and vocalwork coming from Timo Nikki, who's still as rough on vocals as before. The band still sounds fresh, frisky and the band is jamming as always. Based on these two songs the old PG fans definately won't be disappointed what they'll hear in the forthcoming full-length. Peer Günt still rocks!
Peer Günt

FINAL FRONTIER: "Freelight" 7

Escape 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
7 November 2006

"Freelight" is their fourth album and there's really no stoping them by now. Love 'em or hate 'em, Final Frontier are indeed the last outpost of pure AOR and fluffy melodies before you enter a wilderness of Canadian wood and nu-metal acts. That's perhaps also one of the major reasons to why I can stand (sort of) a full CD with utterly squicky vocals.

Final Frontier are desperately hanging on to the music they love and you can't help to apploud their eternal struggle against the world. I know I probably shouldn't enjoy this since it's so dated and full of more clichés than ten episodes of O.C. Yet I find myself singing along to the corny lyrics of "All The Way" and "Lion's Den" truly is dumb and fun AOR at the same time. In fact, there's not a single note of post 1986 music to be found anywhere on this CD. "Foolish Pride" is catchy rock 'ala Journey and they even have a song titled "Only The Lonely", which instantly will have you thinking about "Ask The Lonely".

Blimey... you just gotta love/hate the over-the-top vocal approach of Canadian Rob Moratti. Here you have a clean, mean, professional kick-boxing machine (he's a pro instructor with his own gym and everything) and yet he come out sounding like Mickey Mouse? You know, when I think about it, he's sort of the AOR version of Mike Tyson and if that's not comedy, I don't know what it is [note to myself: make sure to hide from the wrath of Moratti for the rest of my life]. Mladen (Von Groove) has managed to come up with some catchy toons as usual, however, the production and especially drums & bass section, does leave a lot to ask for (also as usual). I'm still not quite sure if Kevin Howley are bashing real drum-skins or merely empty tin cans??? The bass guitar? well, it's supposed to be there... somewhere far in the distance. Hey, let's face it, the production is sterile as hell and it's mostly a bunch of vocal tracks, and layers of guitars and keyboards.

The bottomline: sure, many or most metal heads will label this as corny with a capitol C. So what? they're not aiming to be the next Metallica and it was never attended to be "metal" in the first place. It's poppy rock and it's catchy (most of the time), what more can you possible ask for? Well, I'll have to admit that it's just too silly at times and original sounding it's definitely NOT!

ANTHROPIA: "The Ereyn Chronicles Part 1" 8

Mascot Records 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
7 november 2006

Anthropia is a French prog metal band consisting of only two guys, main composer and multi instrumentalist Hugo (vocals, guitars, bass guitar and keyboards) and Damien Rainaud (drums). "The Ereyn Chronicles" is a concept album based on the books of Quentin Borderie and it deals with dwarves, barbarians, talking horses, dragons, etc., so comparable to Tolkien, perhaps.... Each song represents a chapter of Borderie’s novel. Hugo is musically inspired by bands like Dream Theater, Yngwie Malmsteen, Genesis, Kansas, Rush and Iron Maiden and the guitar riffs, solos and melodies dominate this rather interesting CD.

The instrumental song "Through The Sleeping Seaweed" is the most brilliant song on this album, filled with heavenly guitar solos, magnificent riffs and even head banging melodies. Second highlight is the epic "The Desert Of Jewels", featuring all kinds of tempo twists and turns, amazing melodies and again sparkling guitar solos. Hugo spent a year writing the compositions and he is already at work on a second record, I can hardly wait. This is great prog rock stuff and truly recommended to fans of the earlier mentioned bands!


Mascot Records 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
7 november 2006

Vicious Rumors, the trash metal band around guitar player Geoff Thorpe, release their ninth studio album. "Warball" is the first VR album with Thorpe doing all the rhythm and acoustic guitars and most of the solos. For this new CD Thorpe re-unites with original members Larry Howe (drums) and Dave Starr (bass guitar). Also joining VR is shouter James Rivera and Brad Gillis (Ozzy and Night Ranger) makes a special guest appearance on five tracks.

"Warball" features 10 brand new songs and all of them are typical VC tracks but then again with more solos, more double bass and more metal. The title track is the absolute masterpiece on this album featuring howling guitar solos by Thorpe and Gillis, classic metal riffs, great vocals and a rather "catchy" chorus. Most of the other songs have obvious influences from bands like Annihilator, Iced Earth and Judas Priest.

Other good songs are the power ballad "Dying Every Day", the speed metal song "Sonic Rebellion" and the trashy end song "Dreams Of Rage". The weaker songs in my opinion would be "Crossthreaded" (very simple) and "Windows Of Memories" (a dull acoustic ballad).

"Warball" is a must for fans of VR but to me it is just a reasonable metal album, nothing special but just okay.

ALLEYCAT SCRATCH: "Deadboys In Trash City" 7

Regeneration Records 2006
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
7 November 2006

According to the info material coming along with this album, the record originally dated 1993 was so sought after that it used to go for 150 bucks on Ebay. Well, hard to believe to be honest, however I always welcome the re-release of good, fun, glam records and this is one of those. The icing on the cake this time is a bonus DVD that comes along with the disc that contains two bonus tracks.

Missing the original record back then, this was my first encounter with the band's music which is carved from the same wood as Tigertailz but with a less melodic, more in-your-face approach. Other than that it is classic L.A. club glam with all the musical and lyrical patterns you'd expect. No wonder the bonus DVD contains a gig shot at the Troubadour and some excerpts of another one in the Whisky. Both were one-camera amateur recordings and though I have to admit, the screen quality must have been considerably enhanced, the amateur camera movements (weird zooms and sudden side-moves) could not have been corrected.

However both shows and the record itself is good fun, fans of "pure" glam rock will most definitely enjoy it. The 12 tracks and the two extra gigs are value for your money; so if you like what you read, make sure to check the label's site for distribution info.


BLP Music 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
5 November 2006

"X" is the tenth Baltimoore album, but I have to admit that I have only heard the first one ("There's No Danger On The Roof", 1989) out of their previous albums. All I can remember about is that "My Blue Moon" was a rather fine AOR track... "X" isn't quite AOR, it's purely classic hard rock, taking its' cues from past decades (70's and 80's), yet somehow sounding quite timeless.

The driving force behind Baltimoore has always been vocalist Björn Lodin. The other members of the band have changed quite a few times. Original guitarist Thomas Larsson does make a comeback to the ranks on "X", while the rest of the line-up consists of guys who have been in the band for a few years now, Hempo Hildén (drums), Weine Johansson (bass) and Mankan Sedenberg (guitar).

I've been playing this album a lot on the background while doing other stuff, and while some of the songs still don't really appeal to me, there's a certain warmth in it, which makes it quite easy to keep on playing over and over. The vocals of Björn Lodin are exceptionally good, he comes across as a very soulful hard rock vocalist, reminding me of David Coverdale, Phil Lynott and Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot). Mr. Larsson throws in some highly melodic solos, and all in all, the band grooves along nicely.

The songs range from the catchy, melodic rock stuff like the oddly titled opener "Cumgum" to the Led Zeppelinesque closing track "Sence". My favourites are the catchier, straightforward rock tracks, like the aforementioned "Cumgum", "Play On" and "Fleeting At The Moment". When the band dives deeper into the Zep-influenced sounds of the seventies, my interest starts to vanish, I'm afraid. Still, as a whole album, I quite like this.

SPOCK’S BEARD: "Spock’s Beard" 7

Inside Out 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
7 november 2006

This is the third Beard release after Neal Morse left the band and if you take a look at the rating I gave this CD then you can conclude that it is not their best one. With this self-titled album the band has continued to explore new forms of expression with a focus on combining complex compositions with a more song oriented feeling and the band also starts to explore other musical genres and assimilate new sounds and textures into their familiar sound. So, they flirt with blues rock and occasionally even jazz, soul and funk and furthermore the string and horn ensembles were utilised to a far greater extent than on any other SP album.

The album features 11 new songs of which two are brilliant("On A Perfect Day" and "Skeletons At The Feast"), three are good ("With Your Kiss", "The Slowcrash Landing Man" and "As Far As The Mind Can See"), five reasonable ones ("Is This Love", "All That’s Left", "Sometimes They Stay, Sometimes They Go", "Wherever You Stand" and "Rearranged") and one complete disappointment ("Hereafter"). Let’s start with the worst song – "Hereafter" – a dreadful tiresome piano ballad, which is followed by the epic "As Far As The Mind Can See", divided into four parts of which part 1 and 4 are the best, espically the instrumental "Stream Of Unconsciousness" shows something of the old SP.

The absolute two highlights are the first two songs of the album. The opener "On A Perfect Day" features a real proggy typical SP intro, followed by melodic passages, a great guitar solo and in the middle SP surprises me with acoustic guitar and flute passages. Next is the instrumental "Skeletons At The Feast", a heavy sometimes metal-like song but also with those typical SP elements; howling keys, screaming guitars and at the end a true cacaphony of sound. However if you compare this new album with the brilliant "Octane" then I must say that this is a rather "disappointing" album as the contrast between the good songs and the mediocre ones is too great and the super dull ballad even spoils my SP experience completely. This is a true shame, but maybe the new material sounds better on stage, let’s wait for that, but I have my doubts....

WIZARD'S HYMN: "Hymnal" ?

MajesticRock 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
5 November 2006

Manga Metal? well, here are the good things about Wizard's Hymn. They have an absolutely stunning lead guitarist (Tsutomu Aruga) in the vein of Yngwie Malmsteen. The rhythm section (consisting of Toshimasa Kato - bass & Kensuke Imai - drums) are top-notch musicians. Not to mention that the music is both catchy and bombastic at the same time. They actually come out sounding like a fresh and fun mixture of Rhapsody, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Artension. And now to the not-so-good things about Wyzard's Hymn.

Banzai! There are shiploads of vocalists out there with a too lively accent for their own good (Doro, Rhapsody-Fabio, Tone Norum, Klaus Meine, the list goes on and on). However, none of them are even half as bad as 90% of all the singers from Japan. Ehem, would that make me a racist??? No, of course not... and you couldn't find a nicer bunch of folks than people from the land of the rising sun (Nippon). So how come they can't learn to sing the English words at least somewhat correctly? You simply study, copy, or even steal, popular phrases from your favourite U.S./English artist and there you go.

Yeah, I know what you all are thinking... how come this bozo can't learn to write properly? Ehem, well, I believe that most of you will get the message and see the real aspect about/of this review. Trust me when I say... you will NOT get the joke when it comes to vocalist Kimiko Shirao and I'm still waiting for the punchline. It's actually hard to make out what she's going on about and I'm not even sure it's English anymore. It's some new kind of language that hardly anyone will comprehend and/or understand. Keep in mind that I've got the booklet with all its lyrics right infront of me. Kimiko pronounces all the words on all the wrong places and therfore it's impossible to hear what she's singing. I can tell you right away that I would prefer vocals in her native language, since I can't for the world figure out how they are going to find a solid fanbase outside of Japan. The bottomline: great music, brilliant musicians, dodgy vocals as usual, lost in translation, indeed.

NARNIA: "At Short Notice… Live In Germany"

MCM 2006
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
7 November 2006

For whatever reason MCM records, the European distributor of Narnia decided to release a Narnia gig recorded in March 2003. The band's website does not even list the release in the discography and it comes with an annoyingly cheapo package. Instead of the usual fantasy artwork there's a dark, under-exposed (simply put: bad) photo on the one-page artwork that contains a few more, small, really bad images inside with an ugly, tasteless layout.

The label's luck is that Narnia usually delivers a stellar performance and almost any of their shows could be released as a live record. Well, this one was re-edited and remastered at the end of 2005 and the results are stunning. Christian Rivel's lead vocals are strong, the guitar-sound has an edge, and neither the rhythm section nor the keyboards disappear in the mix. There's a really good overall sound, and with the stellar performance of the band it easily qualifies as a best of or at least a good introduction to the band for those who have never heard of them before. My favorites were "Back From Hell", the straightforward guitar-work is simply stunning here, and "Break The Chains" with a really tight performance from the entire band.

Despite the stellar performance of the band I prefer live shows with more communication with the audience and a few musical changes or alternative versions of songs. The band seemed to rush through the set-list here (or they simply cut the connecting parts of the songs out when putting the album together) which made the final product a bit soul-less in my book but other than that (and the overall packaging) there's not much left to ask for.

MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE: "The Black Parade" 9

Reprise 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
28 October 2006

Dude... are you supposed to hate them just because they're so popular at the moment??? I dunno... this rather lame contradiction is also the easiest way out to many folks and reviewers. You can't possible enjoy a CD with a first single that's charting up like a friggin' x-mas three all over the world [Welcome To The Black Parade is number 1 in the U.K. as I write this], since that would be wrong and against everything you believe in. Oh shut up... we're merely talking about music here, it's not a question of life or death, war or peace, or worse... football or no football.

The melodic punk/emo/nu-rockers of My Chemical Romance return to the scene with a superb follow-up album to the platinum 2004 release 'Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge'. This is waaaay more epic, an theatrical concept album about mortality and how death comes for all of us one of these day [except for the immortal words we all leave behind at the internet ;-)]. "The Black Parade" is their magnus opus, the grande finale, the big bang, a concept album that will have you thinking about weird moments such as "Kilroy Was Here" (Styx), the so-so work by The Who (Tommy) and Sgt.Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. It's basically a bunch of krazy Punks gone Arena Rock with The Queen, Meatloaf, and various 70' & 80's rock (and even pomp?) as their main inspiration. It's possibly something that any "true" punk rocker will hate as it's very over-the-top, pompous, and with lots of piano at times. Sure enough, it's still "Green Day" music every now and then... but there's so much more to MCR than three chords and a stoopid image.

You can even find hints of the wacky approach of Coheed And Cambria into tracks like: "This Is How I Disappear" and "The Sharpest Lives". Don't get me wrong, it's still MCR, but they surely must have been (?) inspired by the latest C&C CD to a certain degree. "Welcome To The Black Parade" is possibly THE song of the year, you surely must have heard the Queen inspired song and/or seen the video by now (unless you live inside a cave). "I Don't Love You" is fluffy to the extreme (but oh so good) and "Cancer" is a piano ballad in the vein of Queen, Robby Valentine, Elton John. "Mama" is a weird mix of broadway and nu-breed, "Sleep" is emo rock at its best, and "Teenagers" is fun 70's Glam. "Disenchanted" is one of the best AOR semi-rockers of the year, seriously, this could just as easily have been a new song by Def Leppard. "Famous Last Words" is modern arena rock at its fullest. Famous last words: don't knock it until you tried it, sure, you need to be open minded about different rock genres. However, "The Black Parade" will definitely end up at the very top of my CD's of the year list. Highly recommended!

THE FLOWER KINGS: "Instant Delivery DVD" 9

Inside Out 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
26 October 2006

The first DVD of the Flower Kings called "Meet The Flower Kings" was a true disappointment as it was filmed a studio with no audience. This new DVD recorded in Tilburg (I was there, of course) is a real good Flokis live show with lots of musical highlights and the crowd high in the mix. Roine is playing like a true guitar god, but Hasse really steals the show as he is an absolute monster on this DVD.

The musical highlights to me are: "Pioneers Of Aviation", "Love Supreme", "End On A High Note", "Life Will Kill You" (fantastic), "I Am The Sun" and the encore "STARDUST WE ARE" (altough not played completely, only for 11.23 minutes). The sound qaulity is great and there are no extras, just the entire live show. That is how it should be, in fact, let the music do the talking, nothing else matters...

A must for every Flokis fan and a great X-mas present indeed as well.

ZENO: "Runway To The Gods" 7

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

It's been eight years since his last new studio album and Zeno Roth is still a master when it comes to guitar playing. I've always prefered his work in favour of his brother (Uli Jon - Scorpions), especially since Uli Jon is more of a acid-rocker anyhow. The early albums of Zeno have always been filled with truly impressive and over-the-top melodies. The guitar work is as impressive as always on "Runway To The Gods", however, the melodies aren't quite as explosive and pompous as in the past.

Don't get me wrong, it's still a nice album indeed, but it's more like Zeno meets Rainbow and Joe Lynn Turner. The truly weird part is that new vocalist Michael Bormann (ex-Jaded Heart), does sound an awful lot like Joe Lynn Turner on several of the tracks. It's right down to the typical ahhhhhwww's and ohhhhwww's of JLT and it's unkindly scary at times. Keep in mind that Bormann is mostly known as Germany's answer to Jon Bon Jovi and the confusion is total. I must however admit that I sometimes miss the over-the-top approach of original vocalist Michael Flexig. The combination of the two (Zeno & Flexig) really was the sound of the band and made the circle complete somehow.

Opening track, "Fanfares Of Love" is a speedy rocker with fast shredding and merely a hint of things to come. "Climb The Sky" is very much in the vein of Fair Warning and indeed past work of Zeno. "Land Of Illusion" is where the Joe Lynn Turner sound really sets in and "Shades Of Blue" is a perfect mix of Zeno and JLT melodies. The title track, "Runway To The Gods" starts out sounding a lot like "July Morning" (Uriah Heep), before it eventually grows into a superb semi-rocker. The instrumental track, "Songo Di Angelo" is a classical piece by Mascagni, I'm sure you've heard it many times in adverts and tv dramas.

My absolute favourite track of the CD next, "Refugees (Longing For Paradise)", it also happens to be the most "original" sounding song of the album. Unbelieveble guitar work by Zeno (check out the solo) and with a melody sent down from heaven. Classy keyboard work and even a hint of hammond at the end gives it a perfect mix of old and new. "I Feel - I Live" could just as easily have been included on any of Joe Lynn Turner's solo albums in the late 90's/ early '00 (pretty boring tune actually). The same goes with "Purify", and "Do You Feel The Time" has Zeno Roth singing for the first time on a solo album (verse). Major mistake in my opinion and the result is the same as the time Yngwie Malmsteen tried to sing (the horror, the horror). The closing track "Sunset Birds Flying Home" is a marvelous instrumental where Zeno's good taste for melody shines through on every single note. Final note: I simply can't get that "Refugees" song outta my head, it's clearly one of the best melodic rockers of the year. I'd say it's overall a bit too much "Joe Lynn Turner" and not enough of Zeno though. Not poor whatsoever... and yet now quite fullfilling.

LOVECHILD: "Soul Collector" 7

Escape Music 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
28 October 2006

Lovechild, the first Liechenstein-based band I've come across so far, made a good impression at UFOR II festival with their brand of hard rock. It's nothing new under the sun, but they do what they do extremely well. Their debut album may not be THE debut album of the year or anything like that, but it does have its' charm and it'll make sure that at least I'll be watching the band's progress with great interest.

The band's sound will take you back to the late eighties and to the more guitar-based hard rock bands like XYZ and Steelheart. Especially vocalist Werner Schweizer (ex-Satrox) reminds me a lot of Terry Llous of XYZ with his somewhat high-pitched voice and similar phrasing. He's no copycat though, and indeed his skills are one of the strong points of the band. If you need a more recent comparison, there are similarities to those Swiss rock giants Gotthard, especially to their harder-edged material.

The first half of the album is very strong, with good, riff-driven hard rock songs one after another. Out of the six songs, only "Sunset Rider" falls a bit short, the other 5 are solid hard rockers, with the melodic "No Return" getting my vote as the best one. Strangely enough, the second half of the album contains more misses than hits, with only the "Promised Land" as the highlight. Not that there are any bad songs here, all of the tunes are decent enough...some of them are just more average than others.

To sum it up, "Soul Collector" is a solid, well-produced hard rock album with great performances and good songwriting. The next step is to raise the level of songwriting from good to great. Then we'll be talking about a serious contender!

DEFTONES: "Saturday Night Wrist" 5

Warner/Maverick 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
30 October 2006

I've been looking forward to the release of the new Deftones CD. The old KISS and Alice Cooper producer Bob Ezrin has now been hired to create a massive wall-of-sound to the lads. The first single "Hole In The Earth", turned also out to be a great emo rocker indeed. However, take a closer look at the cover [see pic.] and you'll soon notice that you can sort of already predict what to expect from this CD. Yep, it's some experimental, psychedelic, hippie, flower-power, acid-rock and "Saturday Night Wrist" feels more like a dodgy tourist trip to Dopeville.

The song structure is sometimes all over the place and it's difficult to find a safe harbor into this sea of madness. "Rapture" will have you thinking about upcoming football matches instead of music and that's never a good sign. So what if there's a "Hole In The Earth" according to The Deftones and this particular song absolutely oozes of ozone rock. It's a fresh breeze of emotional rock, nicely produced by Ezrin, and with the exact and correct amount of desperation and suicidal tendencies to lure all the kids into buying the CD.

It's a shame that so few of the tracks included on "Saturday Night Wrist" hold the same standard and quality as "Hole In The Earth". There's an exception to every rule though, "Beware", "Cherry Waves", "Xerces", and "Kimdracula", are four great examples of melancholy and catchiness. It's very much a 50/50 album and I wish I could simply replace 6 of the 12 tracks with more of the goodies.

SOULCAGE: "Dead Water Diary" 5

Hellas Records 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
30 October 2006

Soulcage is a new Finnish prog rock band and "Dead Water Diary" is their debut album. This CD features 11 songs and just 3 tracks are over the 4 minutes mark, so do not expect long epic prog/rock/metal songs. In the booklet the band states: "death to false prog" and" I kind of wonder what the hell they mean by that, as their debut album is filled with so-called false prog...

Musically speaking the band reminds me of Enchant, Eldritch and sometimes a little bit of Evergrey, but as soon as Aleksi Parvianen opens his mouth he spoils the entire song for me. His vocals are nervewrecking, over-dramatic, screamy, whining and most of the time very forced; in other words completely out of base! Just listen to his dreadful high-pitched screaming in "Shotdown truth" or his deep grunting in "The white light". Especially the ballad "The division" makes me want to bang my head against the wall... out of frustration that goes without saying!

The melodies, the guitar parts, the different rhythms and the keyboard passages and melodies all sound quite allright but the vocals really spoil every song on this album. So, the first thing to do for Soulcage is: get rid off the vocalist and then I will give this band another chance. For now, however I can not be very positive about this "false prog" album.

RUFFIANS: "Desert Of Tears" 4

MetalHeaven 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
29 October 2006

Do you still recall The Ruffians? Well, I'd be asking a lot from the most of you (including yours truly) as they were never much more than a underground band in the 80's. The band appearantly debuted at the famed San Francisco punk rock venue the Mabuhay Gardens in December 1983. They're basically a Bay Area act in other words and their selftitled album was released way back in 1985.

The original vocalist (Carl Albert) left shortly after the release of the first album and Rich Wilde was recruited in 1986. The band split up in 1989, did a comeback tour in 2004, and are now releasing their brand new CD, "Desert Of Tears". Once again with Rich Wilde behind the microphone and original drummer Luke Bowman and the two guitarists Craig Behrhorst & Chris Atchinson.

The latter two are still belting out dated and simple minded heavy metal riffs. I also believe they have basically decided to re-use the same tiresome riff on all the tracks. There's hardly any difference between songs like "I Believe" and "Running Blind", and it's all very tiresome metal in the end. It's basically a poor man's version of heavy metal and you can find (with a bit of imagination) similarities to acts such as Raven, Armored Saint, and Metal Church.

HEARSE: "In These Veins" 3

Dental 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
30 October 2006

To keep it short and sweet, I haven't been impressed at all by Hearse in the past. Their special kind of Death Metal music always stuck me as something better left alone and not to be bothered with really. Johan Liiva (ex-Arch Enemy, Furbowl), guitarist Mattias Ljung, and drummer Max Thormell (ex-Furbowl), are all capable musicians and Liiva's powerful performance and dedication, will probably leave most rockers behind and bleeding in the ditch. You could on the other hand also say that he's a singer who hasn't yet learned how to tame his vocals, but rather lets them wander aimlessly around the deathly backyard of Hearse's repertoire.

"In These Veins" is their latest creation of violence and it's a mayhem of death and destruction. The somewhat Arch Enemy-esque delivery and overexuberant, Lombardo drumming, and skull crushing melodies, spoil the otherwise neat package and mastering by the legendary Dan Swanö. I believe there's a reason to why you can pick up all their previous CD's at bargain bins in Sweden with a $0.99 price tag.

PORCUPINE TREE: "Arriving Somewhere..." DVD 10

Snapper 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
26 October 2006

I have seen this band a lot the last couple of years and I could say that Porcupine Tree has become one of my favourite live bands. Their last album "Deadwing" was a masterpiece and now we can enjoy their first official DVD. The Porcies played for two consecutive nights at Chicago’s Park west and from those evenings they made up an unbelievable set list.

Highlights are "The hatesong", "Buying New Soul", "Arriving Somewhere, But Not Here", "Halo" and "Even Less". The sound is amazing and the band plays so tight and accurate it is almost scary.... Wilson’s voice is mysterious and magical and his guitar solos in "The Hatesong" and "Even Less" are truly out of this world. It cannot get any better than this!! My only comment on this DVD is the fact that the actual show only lasts 1 hour and 45 minutes.

The bonus DVD contains the following: two songs from the Rock Palast show ("Radioactive Toy" and "Futile"), photogallery, the promo video for "Lazarus", screen films from "Halo", "Mother And Child Divided" and "The start of something beautiful’ and last but not least the "cymbal song", featuring Gavin Harrison. The song is entirely played on cymbals and Gavin only uses his bare hands! This DVD is one of the best I ever heard/saw and it is an absolute must for lovers of progressive rock music. The Porcies rule!!

PETER FRAMPTON: "Fingerprints" 9

SPV 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
26 October 2006

Every rock fan knows songs like "Do You Feel Like We Do" and "Show Me The Way" of the million selling album "Frampton comes alive"(1976) by Peter Frampton. On another famous live album "Rockin’ the Fillmore" (with Humble Pie) Frampton proves what a great guitar player he is. Now Frampton releases his first instrumental guitar album and what an album it is. I never knew that PF was such a marvelous guitarist, but listen to tracks like "Float" or "Blooze" and you will be hooked, at least if you like guitar music.

On this CD Frampton is "helped" by Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Hank Marvin, Brian Benett, Warren Haynes, Courtney Pine, Mike McCready and Matt Cameron. The last two musicians are of course from Pearl Jam and with these two guys Frampton plays a magical "Black Hole Sun"(Soundgarden) and "Blowin’ smoke", a fantastic grunge-like rock song with an exciting guitar duel between Mcready and Frampton. The definite highlights are "Blooze"(a great slow blues track with howling guitar solos, featuring Gov ’t Mule guitar player Warren Haynes), "Float"( a ballad with a magical melody and brilliant solos by Frampton) and "Cornerstones" (a Stevie Ray Vaughan like bluesy track with voicebox intro).

There are only two rather mediocre songs on this fantastic guitar album, namely "Oh when.." (an acoustic intermezzo of just 1:20 minutes) and "Souvenirs de Nos Peres"( an acoustic country like track with violin, which does not fit in with the rest of the song material). The other tracks are all great and I hope that Frampton will release more albums like this in the future.

Listening tip: "Blooze" at maximum volume, please!!

BISS: "X-Tension" 7

AOR Heaven 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
25 October 2006

"X-tension" is the fourth album from German rockers BISS, lead by guitarist Ralf Heyne. I don't know whether the title is referring to vocalist Marc Storace's contract... He is now the only BISS vocalist with two album under his belt! That's a good thing and it brings some continuity to the project.

The title could just as well be referring to the style and sound of the album. It's an extension of their previous album "Face-Off", there hasn't been any drastic changes. Rolf Heyne still comes up with good songs and classic riffs and Marc Storace is still a great singer. Compared to his dayjob in Krokus, the songs of Biss are generally a bit less AC/DC and a bit more Accept, with some highly melodic numbers in between.

The highlights of the album for me are "Always", "Shout It Out" and "Blood On Sand". The latter is probably my favourite track, a very melodic number which reminds me of Praying Mantis in their prime. It's co-written by Mat Sinner apparently... The band's cover of Heart's "Barracuda" works very well too. I still have to mention "Catch 22", which sounds just like something that Dokken could release these days - a vintage Dokken riff kicks it off, but the understated vocals on the verses are more like today's Don Dokken. Storace does belt out the chorus with much more passion and power than ol' Donald has left in him.

What's there to add... The production by Michael Voss is very good and the album cover concept is very odd. So there you have it. Another decent album from Biss, and I believe this could do quite well, considering that there's a bit of a Krokus resurrection going on at the moment.

SEQUEL: "Back" 7

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

Sequel is Back with some meat & potato hard rock. The band release two albums in the early 80s (that I haven't heard about back then) and with almost 25 years gone they came up with this release. As I have no comparison to their previous stuff I can only rely on this material which is well-played, rough, classic hard rock with simple but sticky riffs and a really good vocal performance.

The album kicks off with "All Right, All Right" a mid-tempo stomper with a shout-out refrain. "Cherry Wine" follows in almost exactly the same fashion. Actually the entire album brings almost the same songwriting with just one slower track "The Best I Can", an acoustic ballad with catchy melodies. There's some Bad Company feel in the songs here and there but it's not annoying at all. All in all the album is good fun for those who like stripped down hard rock.

I don't know how many people this music can still reach out to but the band obviously had some fun recording it and that's audible. They seem to have no distribution at the moment, so check their website out for soundbytes as well as purchase options.

EUROPE: "Secret Society" 6

Sanctuary Records 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
26 October 2006

The second coming of Europe continues with the band's new album "Secret Society". It's a natural successor to their previous album "Start From The Dark", which means that there's no going back to the sound of the classic Europe material. The line-up may be the same, but Europe '06 is a completely different animal to the band which brought us the melodic hard rock milestone album "Final Countdown".

A lot of the things I wrote about "SFTD" could be said about this album. I don't hate the songs, they aren't too bad, and actually the ones on "Secret Society" might be overall just a little bit more melodic than the ones on its' predecessor. Still, it feels like the band is holding back when it comes to hooks and melodies. "No, no...we can't write a real chorus to this, that would be so eighties! That melodic bridge will have to do. Now, play that riff once again!"

Similary to "SFTD", the opener of the album is probably the worst track of the album. The song in question ("Secret Society") doesn't have an ounce of memorability, and I can't really think of anything else to write about. Thankfully this time the band and the label didn't go and release it as the lead single like the last time. Instead they went with the album's standout track "Always The Pretenders". It is a catchy and melodic track, just like the Europe we used to know, although with an updated sound.

Now that the two extremes of the album have been dealt with, what's left? 9 songs which range from good to not so good. There is nothing quite as dull as the title track, but on the other hand, the gap between the second best track (probably "Human After All") and the aforementioned standout is quite clear. Then again, there are quite a few tracks on the heels of "Human After All", the ballad "A Mothers Son" and "Wish I Could Believe" for instance, both good songs. Not "Best Of Europe" kind of material, but still quite okay.

Considering that "SFTD" didn't exactly raise my expections regarding this album, I can't say that I'm disappointed. "Secret Society" is pretty much what I expected it to be - a decent, but slighty uninteresting album from one of my favourite bands of the eighties.

WETTON/DOWNES: "Icon II - Rubicon" 6

Frontiers 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
25 October 2006

John Wetton and Geoff Downes are back with their "Icon" project, this time with new material. The duo is known for their work with ASIA, one of the most successful AOR groups of the eighties. The band has recently re-united with its' original line-up but instead of recording new songs under the Asia banner, Wetton and Downes seem to prefer the Icon formation.

The album starts with three fine AOR tracks, pompous and catchy in the finest Asia fashion. John Wetton sings as good as ever, and Downes provides layers and layers of keyboards. Then something weird happens... the styles changes quite a bit, starting with "To Catch A Thief", an ethreal ballad which features the female vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen (of The Gathering) dueting with Wetton. Still, it's a beautiful song.

"Tears Of Joy" can only be described as a "mood piece", a soundtrack-like song that doesn't grab one at all. Same could be said of "Shannon", a folk-type of a song. "The Hanging Tree" doesn't convince me either, it's just a dull song that doesn't really pick up the pace. The grand ballad "The Glory Of Winning" is better but the album could have used an uptempo song at this point. With "Whirlpool" we do get a slightly more uptempo song, but just to make sure that the flow of the album keeps pretty still, the chorus is slower than the rest of the song. Excuse while I yawn... the title track doesn't help, as it's also a rather slowpaced track. The chorus is okay though.

The conclusion: a great start, but for the most part "Rubicon" is rather dull and unexciting.

CRYSTAL TEARS: "Choirs Of Immortal" 5

Pure Steel Records 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
25 October 2006

Heavy Metal from Thessaloniki, Hellas...slthough the name might make you expect yet another Gothic Metal band, this quartet from Greece plays traditional Heavy Metal, with influences from Iron Maiden, Doro & Warlock and Chastain. Their secret weapon is the very powerful female vocalist Natasa. She really is something quite different next to all the Tarja Turunen-clones and their delicate voices. Hell, she could probably sing half of the male power metal vocalists under the table! Closest comparisons would be Leather (the vocalist of Chastain) or the girl who sang in Phantom Blue.

Musically Crystal Tears aren't quite ready for the big league yet. They have some good songs, but they also have some very ordinary songs which are only rescued by Natasa's powerful vocals. And to be honest, she's not spot on all the time, some of her performances are a little off the mark here and there.

The uptempo speed metal tracks aren't among my favourites, but when the band slows it down a little and adds some melody to their songs, they're pretty good. My favourite tracks are "Megas Alexandros" and "When The Night Is Cold", although the chorus of the latter does sound a bit forced.

BONE-BOX: "Death Of A Prize Fighter"

Fat Northerner Records 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
25 October 2006

I'm sorry but this album doesn't have much to do with rock, and we've kind of limited ourselves to that particular style of music, with all of its' variations. I'm not saying that it's bad or badly done, but it certainly doesn't appeal to me, and I can make a bold assumption that it wouldn't appeal to most of our readers either.

Bone-box is a band consisting of 1 to 12 persons(?) that their label describes their music as "a mix of country, blues, jazz and experimental styles". That's a pretty accurate description. I might add that the vocalist Jay Taylor sounds a lot like Tom Waits, and fans of his should check this out. As for the songs...they're mostly performed acoustic instruments and a lot of emphasis is put on the lyrics. The only song that made any sort of an impression was "Talking Christ Down From The Cross" with its' melancholic piano intro, so that was the highlight of the album. The worst song was definitely the instrumental "All My Problems Are Caused By Other People", which is nerve-wrecking collection of noise and a continuous brass solo which has all the charm of an angry bumble bee.

Paul STANLEY: "Live To Win" 9

NewDoor/Universal 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
22 October 2006

Paul Stanley is without a doubt the genius behind approx: 75% of all great KISS material. Ehem, I'm merely talking about the actual KISS albums and songs here, seriously, who gives a crap about all of their merchandise (dolls, kiss-casket, lunch-box, toilet paper, you name it). Gene Simmons was my first rock hero and his make-up design and persona is still the most 'metal' of them all. Ace Frehley was the coolest rocker and guitarist (but hardly the best) in biz and Peter Criss was a cool cat... I guess (the 'Fox' was already the drummer). Nontheless, as you got older, you also realized that Paul wrote most quality material of all the original members.

"Live To Win" is his first "real" solo album or the second if you include the 1978 release under the KISS monicker. It's basically great and fun power-pop ála 2006... much like his 'first' solo album was power-pop ála -78. You can definitely compare the two albums and end up with the conclusion that not much has change, structure-wise, over the years. The songs are still pretty basic and easy-minded with tons of catchy hooks and choruses. The main difference would be the modern rock production and the overall fresh approach of the material. Paul wrote a majority of these songs together with Desmond Child and/or Super-Swede Anders Carlsson and it's very up-to-date at times. In fact, "Lift", could just as easily have been a song taken off the new Evanescence CD and is at the same time very KISS sounding. It's without a question the darkest track of the CD.

Opener and title track "Live To Win" (Stanley/Child/Carlsson - S/C/C from now on) is a smash-hit and could probably have been a U.S. & Euro top-10 hit with a 30+ year younger artist. The three amigos (S/C/C) continue with the power hit parade with the song "Wake Up Screaming", and "Everytime I See You Around" is a marvelous ballad in the vein of 'Forever' and 'Everytime I Look At You'. Next up is yet another fun KISS rocker as "Bulletproof" mixes "You Make Me (Rock Hard)" and "Hide Your Heart" with a modern twist. "All About You" (S/C/C) could just as easily have been a song from 'Hot In The Shade' or 'Revenge'. The ballads "Second To None" and "Loving You Without You Now", goes straight to the heart with subtile messages and killer choruses. The closing track, "Where Angels Dare" turns out to be a power chord driven rocker with a stick that oozes of classic KISS.

The bottomline: sure, it's "modern rock", but it's still very much the sound of KISS and Paul Stanley. The only downer would be the total play length of the CD, since it's all over after merely ten tracks and 33 minutes.

DAWN OF SILENCE: "Moment Of Weakness" 7

Metal Heaven 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
23 October 2006

New Swedish metal group Dawn Of Silence started as an Iron Maiden coverband. Gradually they moved away from the covers, and started writing original material. The influence of Iron Maiden is clearly evident, but the DOS songs are a bit more straight-forward and chorus-driven than most of the Maiden stuff. At times the songs remind me of my old favourites Fifth Angel, which is always good thing in my books! Still, sometimes the band's dual lead guitars give me a spooky feeling... Eddie must be lurking somewhere near...

The first three songs of the album are set the pace for the rest of the album. "Hands Of Time", "Out Of Time" and "Point Of No Return" are good melodic metal tracks. The songtitles may be "slightly" worn out though... "Long Time Dead" sees the band take a little sidestep to the "dark side", experimenting with more extreme sounds and aggressive style. I'll say "no thanks" to grunts and fabricated aggression.

The next few songs are more in the melodic vein again. "Misguided Life" has to be mentioned for being the a very Edguy-like track, with vocalist/guitarist Patrick Johansson sounding a lot like Tobias Sammet. The extremely catchy hook is something I could expect to find in the songbook of Sammet. "Midnight" is another highlight, a fastpaced rocker with similarities to the aforementioned Fifth Angel.

The band seems to lose a lot of its' steam towards the end of the album, and the last few tracks aren't really that special. The Iron Maiden comparison raises its' head a few times, with "Dark Secrets" being almost a tribute to them! Still, the guys are obviously doing what they want to do and I'm sure that most Maiden fans and melodic metal fans in general would find a lot to enjoy here. The production of the album isn't the best, but the guys' commitment to metal shines through.
Dawn Of Silence

Martin BRILEY: "It Comes In Waves" 6

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

Martin Briley? who? well, he's a singer/songwriter who started out worked for artists such as Michael Bolton, Kenny Loggins, Pat Benater, Bonnie Tyler, Meatloaf, etc (he was however first a member of Greenslade in the 70's). He recorded three solo albums for Mercury records during the 80's and is perhaps best known for the top-40 hit "Salt In My Eyes", which used to be a MTV favourite back in the days. Since then, Briley has become a prominate songwriter in the states and has written songs for Celine Dion, N*Sync, Michael Bolton, Rebecca St.James, Jeff Healey, Barry "Heavy Metal" Manilow, etc.

The overall material is v-e-r-y soft, 80's stuff, with a healthy dose of modern rock influences. Well... it's mostly retro music in the vein of Westcoast, 80's Pop, and some classic rock. The opening title track, "It Comes In Waves", will hypnotize the listener with its laidback approach and classy performance. The song really 'goes-with-the-flow' and it's the sort of music that most people will either hate or love. Don't expect to find any loud guitars nor uptempo tracks on this release, it's very much in the 'middle of the road' stuff... with just a hint of this and that. "Church Of Disney" come out sounding like a mix of Tom Petty and Crowded House. "Big Sun" is a musical stew of Fish (his most laidback material), and folk inspired rock.

"I Don't Think She Misses Me At All" is basically a Eric Clapton slow song, "Me And My Invisable Friend" will have you thinking about Paul Carrack, and to a certain point, the mid-80's sound of Phil Collins and Genesis. "The Massage" is a jazzy slow-blues and "In The Dim Light Of A Brand New Day" is the sort of stuff Lawrence Gowan and Phil Collins did in the 80's (check out the stick as it's the sound of Collins & Genesis right down to the core). The pure Westcoast of "Pray For Rain" is radio friendly to the extreme and "That Song" will have you thinking about Clapton and "Heaven" again. I know that many folks will find this to be elevator music and truly bland. Indeed, it's not rock'n roll, not even AOR, it probably works the best as background music for your lazy days at the beach.

KAMELOT: "One Cold Winter's Night"

SPV 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
23 October 2006

"One Cold Winter's Night" was recorded on February 11th, 2006 at the Rockefeller Musichall in Oslo, Norway. The title for this particuar 2-CD release (based on an earlier Kamelot song title) was chosen long before the actual recording. Ironically this winter turned out to be one of the longest and coldest in the country's history, with enormous amounts of snow and numerous chaos-causing blizzards.

Kamelot are an enigmatic bunch on stage. Not a particularly scary group visually, they nontheless deal out the sort of massive riffs and metal tones which will make your hair stand on end. They already have a pretty impressive set of toons and the tracklisting of this double CD will not disappoint anyone. I'm not exactly sure how much they've tweaked and re-arranged in the studio afterwards, however, Norwegian vocalist Roy Khan happens to be one of few great "new" metal singers during the last decade. There's no wimping out infront of the audience either, where others might twist or turn, Kamelot simply put their heads down and smash right through with progressive power metal.

Things move from a galloping groove (Nights Of Arabia) into some well-spaced haunting atmosphere (Abandoned), before finally exploding like a runaway train into metal oblivion (March Of Mephisto). I tell ya, I've always enjoyed "The March" even since I first heard it on "The Black Halo", and it's without a doubt one of the better metal songs of the century. Yup, Kamelot have done the right thing and recorded a live album and there's not a lot to say really, if you know who they are, you're probably going to buy this wheather it sucks or not. "One Cold Winter's Night" is clearly a solid live release and I'm pretty sure the DVD is twice as good.

MARTY FRIEDMAN: "Loudspeaker" 9

Mascot Records 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
15 October 2006

Marty Friedman, one of my favourite guitar pickers, has sold over 10 million albums with Megadeth, but I always preferred his excellent solo albums. The first ones – "Speed metal symphony", "Go off"(both under the name Cacaphony) and "Dragon’s Kiss" – being very heavy and the next ones – "Scenes", "Introduction" and "True obsessions" – showing the more melodic side of Friedman. Three years ago Marty released a rather rocking album, called "Music For Speeding" and now he returns with his heaviest album ever!

This album is really heavy stuff from the metal killer opening song "Elixir" (kind of Cacaphony/Megadeth like) till the rather melodic "Devil take tomorrow" (with gooseflesh guitar solos). It is a heavy train ride from start to finish and Marty plays like never before, fast, aggressive, melodic, dynamic, but most of all very unique. The absolute highlight of this guitar orgasm album is "Stigmata Addiction", a song that lasts over 7 minutes filled with outstanding melodies, breathtaking solos and metal riffs like only Friedman can come up with.

The CD features guest appearances by Steve Vai (solo on "Viper"), John Petrucci (solo on "Black orchid"), Billy Sheehan and Jeremy Colson. Further master pieces are songs like "Street demon" (up tempo heavy metal with pumping bass), "Paradise Express" (staccatto riffs and razor sharp solos), "Glycerine flesh"(very melodic with lots of twists and turns) and "Devil take tomorrow"(a ballad-like song with a heavenly solo). There are no weak songs on this brilliant album, which proves that there is only ONE Marty Friedman.

More good news is the fact that Marty will be coming to Europe early next year, so every guitar freak has something to look forward to, but first of all enjoy and keep enjoying this amazing new Friedman CD. Tip: play the album at maximum volume, especially "Stigmata Addiction", which is one of the best metal guitar songs I ever heard!!

PAUL GILBERT: "Get Out Of My Yard" 9

Mascot Records 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
15 October 2006

After releasing many successful solo albums in the past years like "Flying Dog", "Burning Organ" and "Space Ship One", Paul Gilbert now brings out his first instrumental album called "Get Out Of My Yard". Gilbert has always been known as one of the most melodic and powerful guitar players in the rock business and on this new CD you can listen to 13 brand new instrumental Gilbert rockers and one classical cover, namely Haydn’s "Symphony No. 88 Finale".

It is definitely one of his "heaviest" albums as there is more concentrated guitar power on this CD than on any other one. There are more screaming solos, more brutal riffs, more melodies and more improvisations than ever before. As I never liked Paul’s vocals anyway I can say that this is my favourite Gilbert album by far, especially songs like "Twelve Twelve" (with dazzling solos), "Radiator"( with a Hendrix-like solo part) and "Full tank" (with extremely melodic guitar picking) already belong to my Gilbert favourites of all time! The album kicks off with the mind-boggling title track and especially the first 38 seconds are almost impossible to play... "Hurry up" is an up tempo Racer-X like guitar rocker filled with crazy rhythms and tapping effects. In fact most of the songs are rather fast with the exception of "Three E’s for Edward", "Twelve twelve" and "Marine Layer".

"Three E’s for Edward", a tribute to Eddie Van Halen, is in fact a dull acoustic track, while the second disappointment is called "Marine layer", a sort of resting point with piano and acoustic guitar. The cover of Haydn is also not my cup of tea as I do not like covers, especially rock covers from classical music pieces.

Furthermore it is a wonderful guitar album with well structured compositions, an amzing sound and an excellent mix. By the way, I never miss the vocals. Listening tip: "Twelve twelve"!!!!

The HAUNTED: "The Dead Eye" 5

CenturyMedia 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
18 October 2006

"The Dead Eye" is the third offering with original vocalist Peter Dolving (ex-Mary Beats Jane) back in the fold after a lengthy hiatus (he appeared on the 1998's self titled album and their previous album). The Haunted have a lot to prove and live up to since the success of 2004's "rEVOLVER" album. The question on everybody's mind lately, would they really be able to handle the preasure and once again deliver the metal goods???

Well, The Swedes have unfortunately decided to replace a lot of their "Swedish" sound with a more U.S. friendly approach and style. Sure enough, it's the old 'The Haunted' sound that does meet and greet us all on the first couple of tracks. However, the deeper you travel into this journey of destruction, the further you listen to "The Dead Eye", the more you'll discover the U.S. friendly hardcore and nu-metal influences. Oh how the great has fallen and especially since the heart and core of the band are all ex-members of At The Gates.

"The Dead Eye" will probably work the best on the other side of the pond (that would be USA) and will have a lot of Euro fans shaking their heads in disbelief. They have merely become another "Ozzfest" band without any real identity nor any real foundation to stand upon. R.I.P.

HAMMERFALL: "Threshold" 5

NuclearBlast 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
17 October 2006

Whatever happened to the True Metal of Hammerfall? This is actually so predictable and bland that it creates a problem for the reviewer. Are you supposed to throw tomatoes and/or Irish confetti on the lads and let them know it's mostly crap??? Perhaps I should be kind to my fellow Swedes (since we all hail from the same place on this planet called earth) and simply give them two thumbs up??? Nah, "Threshold", does hold a couple of top-notch melodies and future Hammerfall classics. However, it's overall a major disappointment to us real heavy metal fans.

It's clearly not quite as disappointing as "Chapter V", since The Hammers (West Ham?) have decided to somewhat return to their original sound and arrangements. Yet, much like that no-good-manager, Hammerfall insist on playing with their best striker (Carlos Tévez) at the midfield and they may end up playing championship football next season (second division - and that's enough of U.K. football terms for now). Most songs follow the exact same pattern and structure as always and "The Fire Still Burns" is unfortunately blessed with a chorus that surely must be the most cliché like refrain of the year.

Not everything is utter crap though and the production is actually better and heavier than previous attempt. "Rebel Inside" will get yer blood boiling and "Dark Wings, Dark Words" turns out to be a real winner in the mid-tempo (balladic) category of things. Hammerfall still believe in the art of music and for that they must be applauded, but the truth is, anyone but closest family will find this extremely safe and boring. Back to the drawingboard I believe and bring us some real Viking Metal next time.

EDEN: "Open Minds" 3

MajesticRock 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
19 October 2006

Eden is a new U.K. project with ex-Kick vocalist Nick Workman and Pulse/Bob Catley guitarist Vince O'Regan. The two of them have created some of the most disappointing numbers and song material of 2006. I really enjoyed the early work of Kick and O'Regan did some smashing toons in the past. This on the other hand is far from the standard of Kick and O'Regan at their best and it's mostly forgettable melodies in the melodic school of rock.

What is Eden all about then? well, take a handful of titles and lyrics that GUN would think twice about using, tie them together with slushy rock toons, and Workman's now rather annoying vocals (what happened?), and there you have "Open Minds". The result is like a second or third rate version of Gun and their "1 416 326 326" (whatever?) album, and I find it difficult to recall any melodies or phrases whatsoever. The exception would be the modern day Harem Scarem (Rubber) sounding "Fools Parade". The refrain during "Chase The Sun" will have you running to/for the hills, "Close Your Eyes" will put you to sleep (hint the title), and "Erase And Rewind" such be retitled as 'Erase And Delete (And Stay The Hell Outta My PC)".

Eden take few chances while frustratingly hinting out that they're capable of dispensing with rock cliches and silly moves. Yes, I believe I have an 'Open Mind' when it comes to all sorts of rock/pop music and genres. There's however no excuse for coming up with such pale material as featured on "Open Minds".

BIRDFLESH: "Mongo Musicale" 2

Dental 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
19 October 2006

You have got to be kidding me??? I thought this kind of music went away to die at the big Grindcore graveyard along with the 90's. The Swedish trio of Birdflesh, consisting of Achmed Abdulex (guitar, vocals), Smattro Ansjovis (vocals, drums) and Barbro Havohej (bass, vocals), are however still belting out fast and brutal Grindcore melodies.

"Mongoloid Wannabe" is a fun little number and "Victims Of The Cat" sure made me laugh out loud (it's approx: 8 seconds of noises and miao, miao, miao's). They do have a great sense of humour at times and you can help to grin along to "Crocophile" and "Handicapitation". But c'mon... 25 tracks that all sound exactly the same with the cookie-monster and smelly-nelly behind the microphone, just doesn't work out in the long run, and you almost feel hatred towards the music at the end of the day.

Birdflesh has the potential and the morbid aggression to get your blood pumping, but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons (goddamnitpieceofshitenogoodmusic), and boredom sets in when you realize it all sounds the same. This could possibly (I have my doubts) work all well and good if you should be smashing your brains out at a gig, but it's sure as hell not entertaining when sat at home listening infront of the stereo. Twisted sister and a couple of motörheads... straight to the trash can it goes...


Escapi 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
17 October 2006

EP??? The Tokyo Dragons are probably still holding out and desperately waiting/hopeing for a resurrection of the vinyl albums anyday now. Anyhow, this is a 8-track [no, not the old radio car system or whatever... hell, I dunno, I'm not that old], CD with the action-rockers from U.K. It's darn right outrageous how much praise they've been receiving in English media lately, especially since they're basically a second rate version of The Hellacopters. Well, I guess they need something to cheer about over there... not many great, new, bands from U.K. during the last decade.

"Come On Baby" is taken from the album "Give Me The Fear" and you can find a studio version, a live version, and the video here (what? no unplugged version or re-mix?). The live version was recorded by Swedish Radio at the Hultsfred Festival 2006, and both "Set 'Em Off" and "Johnny Don't Wanna Ride", were also recorded live at Hultsfred 2006. The first new studio track, "High On Hate", turns out to be a nice rocker in the vein of KISS guitarist Ace Frehley and The Dictators. Simply mix the sound of the two mentioned artists and you'll end up with "High On Hate".

"Everybody's Right" is quite entertaining as well and it sure beats listening to the new CD with the Backyard Babies. In fact, the new tracks do include well-placed guitar chords and just the sort of rock beat to keep your head swaying for hours.

SKID ROW: "Revolutions Per Minute" 8

SPV 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
15 October 2006

Punks Gone Wild??? The second attempt with Johnny Solinger behind the microphone is quite far off the mark and the style of "Thickskin". Indeed, Skid Row has once again decided to almost completely change around their sound with "Revolutions Per Minute". It's raw and noisy hardrock with far more attitude and stamina than your average nu-punk act. I've already noticed that some people find this to be too much punk and not enough of melodic rock though.

Yup, this is clearly more about attitude and punk-rock influences than soft and fluffy melodies. But let's face it, the music of Skid Row has always been inspired by punk, well, the exception would of course be their debut album (no s**t?). Opener "Disease" is heavy as s**t and could just as easily have been included on their second or third release. "Another Dick In The System" is the punky sound of 'Get The F**k Out' (included on the Euro release of Slave To The Grind) or 'Riot Act'. Sure, Solinger may not be Sebastian Bach, but he's doing a great job here in my opinion.

I've noticed a couple of reviews where they've found "When God Can't Wait" to be very similar to Slade's "Run Run Away". You know, that says a lot more about the reviewer than the actual song. Geez... talk about living in a bubble and not been listening to anything outside of hardrock and metal. This is basically a Irish uptempo drinking song (cheers). It's the sound of The Clash and The Pogues and it'll have ya' dancing the tables in no time. Well, the same reviewers also found "Strength" to be one of the most traditional sounding Skid Row numbers. Oh shut up... "Strength" is a song by Welsh rockers The Alarm from the 1985 album with the same title. It's a cover for crying out loud and a great version actually.

"Shut Up Baby I Love You" and "White Trash" are two punk-rockers with fun lyrics and attitude. Especially the latter with killer lines such as "my sister she's got three baby's, she don't remember who the daddy is...". The real talk of the CD is however "You Lie", since it's dorky, hillbilly, punk, country music. Don't bother if you've got no sense of humour and rock'n'roll comedy. I know what you're thinking: 'how can you take this seriously', that's simple, you're not supposed to, it's just for giggles and laughs. "Nothing" is a darn catchy number and a fun mix of 80's sleaze and modern punk/rock. The last couple of tracks (Love Is Dead & Let It Ride) are however nuthin' but poor fillers.

The bottomline: I'm surprised over how much I enjoyed this. You know, I believe it's a matter if you can look past the band name or not (the same goes with the new Winger CD). It's a matter if you can enjoy music for what it is rather than what you expect it to be. However, you obviously need to be into the punky side of the band, since you're definitely NOT going to enjoy this otherwise. No power ballads to be found... bummer?

DIVINEFIRE: "Into A New Dimension" 7

Rivel Records 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
16 October 2006

Divinefire is one of the many projects featuring vocalist Christian Rivel (of Narnia), and this is the band's third album. The man behind the music is one Jan Stefanovic, who plays most instruments on the album, not to mention the "growls" for which he is credited too. The line-up is completed by bass player Andreas Olsson.

The two previous Divinefire albums have been quite basic melodic metal albums which didn't have much of an impact on me. "Into A New Dimension" starts promisingly, and while the material gets a bit less interesting towards the end, it's still an above average metal album.

The band's lyrics are openly religious with an almost vintage Stryper-like "Soldiers Under Command"-vibe to some of them. As for the music, the sweet sounds of Stryper are quite far from Divinefire. Sure, this is melodic metal with some strong choruses, but every now and then the band introduces more extreme influences to their songs. Those aforementioned growls and some rhythmic patterns have been borrowed from the likes of Children Of Bodom etc. Thankfully the cookie monster vocals do not dominate the songs, they're merely used as effects. Towards the end the amount of growling does grow, which makes the album a bit less enjoyable for me.

The highlights for me are the powerful and catchy "Passion & Fire" and "Live Or Die". I really like the band's cover of "Free Like An Eagle", the 80's hit by Swedish AOR group Talk Of The Town too. As it happens, TOTT singer Thomas Vikström sings background vocals on the album...

UNLEASHED: "Midvinterblot" 7

SPV 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
15 October 2006

Unleashed is classic (melodic) Swedish Death as it gets, with no room or space left for experimentation, just full on speed, aggression, and the usual trashing. Well, yes and no, they have actually "mellowed down" with the years and included "some" old school Thrash. One thing's for sure though, "Midvinterblot" beats the crap out of the new Slayer CD. Here you can actually find melodies, power riffing, not to mention the voice of Johnny Hedlund is much more pleasing to the ears than the awful primal scream approach by Tom Araya (nowadays).

They have never really changed the basic elements and structure of their music. Unleashed still include their typical Viking lyrics that are also part of their unmistakeable philosophy with the band for over fifteen years. It's basically a mayhem of Swedish death metal through fifteen brand new tracks without ever taking the foot off the accelerator. That's unfortunately also the only and biggest problem with "Midvinterblot".

I believe they have included too many tracks and they could/should have downsized it to merely ten. It's a impressive start with "Blood Of Lies", "This Is Our World Now", "We Must Join With Him" (Lord Of The Rings theme) and the smashing title track. By the way, 'Midvinterblot" is the Swedish word for the old mid-winter sacrificial feast that the Vikings did in honour of Odin & Thor (one of the safest ways to make sure you'd end up at Valhalla in the afterlife). This is Unleashed at their best and you can't help to shout-a-long to the refrain every goddamn time. "I Have Sworn Allegiance" kicks into hyper-speed and a tempo you haven't witness since the debut of Metallica. "Age Of The Warrior" featues a lot of old school Thrash/Speed riffing and a very melodic solo (80's style). "New Dawn Rising" is the typical sound of Unleashed, but could just as easily have been the sound of old Venom. The doomy approach of "Valhalla Awaits" is without a question a highlight as well as the closing track of the album.

PRETTY MAIDS: "Wake Up To The Real World" 8

Frontiers 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
13 October 2006

It's comeback time for one of the finest bands from Denmark! Despite having one of the most un-metal band names in the history of metal, Pretty Maids have a nice track record of solid releases behind them. Admittedly, their previous album "Planet Panic" (2002) was probably their weakest one in my opinion, seriously lacking in melodies and hooks. The band went through a lot of stuff, took some time to re-think what they want to do, and I'm glad to say that they came back with a very good album.

"WUTTRW" sees the band doing what they do best, mixing melodic hard rock songs with full-on metal songs, not forgetting quality ballads. The two ends of the spectrum aren't always that far from each other - a good example of this could be "Brave Young New Breed", which is a heavy hitting metal song but with a highly melodic chorus. All in all, the melodies seem to be more of a priority for the band this time, which I can only apploud. The balladic "As Guilty As You" and "Where True Beauty Lies" should appeal to the AOR fans too, not to mention the killer mid-tempo track "Another Shot Of Your Love", which is one of the finest songs of the year.

As I mentioned before, some of the heavier tracks have been been blessed with excellent melodies. "Brave Young New Breed" is probably the best one of them, but the title track, "Such A Rush" and "Terminal Violence" are very good too. The band hasn't done too many covers, but here they take a stab at Deep Purple's "Perfect Strangers". They do it with style, not drifting too far from the original but injecting something of their own into it.

As it is usually with Pretty Maids albums, there are a couple of songs on the album that I just can't get into. The same thing happens here, two or three tracks don't appeal to me, but otherwise this is a strong release and overall one of the better Pretty Maids albums.

Miss Behaviour: "Heart Of Midwinter" 6

Sunset Fox / Zink Music/Bonnier Amigo 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
12 October 2006

Miss Behaviour got bumped up from our A&R dept. to the actual reviews, because their album will be released on Zink Music/Bonnier Music in Scandinavia in November. Good for them... but it also means that "Heart Of Midwinter" has to be reviewed as a legitimate release, and they'll have to stand shoulder to shoulder with the "big guns"...

The stylish and classy album cover didn't prepare me for what was inside. I was expecting them to be a modern rock band for some reason, but that was quite far from the truth. Miss Behaviour is unashamedly eighties-styled melodic metal, not too far from the likes of Yngwie Malmsteen, Nation and Iron Maiden. The heavy use of keyboards does make their sound a bit lighter than those acts.

I quite like the songs and the sound of the band. The highlights for me were "Make It Your Own Way", "Runaway Man" and the athmospheric, haunting "Midwinter Sleeps", but the rest of the songs aren't far behind. There are good melodies in the songs and the band has paid attention to details such as rather fine background vocal arrangements, on which they were helped out by Sebastian Roos of the band Shine. Therefore I have to wonder what has happened during the recording of the lead vocals... because to these ears, there are vocal melodies here which just don't sound right. For all I know, the band may have wanted to write unusual melodies, but it just sounds to me that vocalist Mattias Wetterhall goes a bit off-the-chart with his Dickinsonian vocals. That's too bad, because he has a decent range and an expressive style. Well, at least this album sounds more human than many of the recent major releases which have been pro-tooled, autotuned and tweaked to sonic perfection... but still, maybe a little bit of tweaking might not have been a bad thing.
Miss Behaviour at Myspace.Com

HUMAN ZOO: "Precious Time" 8

BOB Media/ZYX Music 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
10 October 2006

Human Zoo are a new hard rock band from Balingen, Germany. The band features former members of cult bands like Subway and Glenmore, and this album was released on a smaller label a few months ago. They've been signed to AOR Heaven recently, so hopefully their next album will get them more exposure. I had the pleasure of meeting some of the band members in Germany recently, and got a copy of the album from them. I promised them a brutally honest review, and that's what they'll get!

The first thing you'll notice when playing the album is the fact it sounds like a million bucks. That's quite surprising, as we're not talking about a major league release... The reason for this is revealed in the liner notes, and the reason is producer Dennis Ward. Let's face it, everything he produces or mixes seems to be amazingly good. At the moment, he is the number one European hard rock studio wizard!

Credit where credit's due though, the songs of the band are very good too, not to mention the level of musicianship. We're talking about guitar-driven melodic hard rock, with influences from Gotthard, Pink Cream 69, Bonfire and the likes. The riffs are catchy and the choruses are memorable! The band has a special weapon too, and that is the saxophone player Boris Matakovic. I don't think I've ever before encountered a hard rock band with a sax player! To be honest, I've never been fond of brass instruments and I was kinda sceptical about it, but what can I say - it works. If anything, the sax is the one thing that gives Human Zoo a bit of an unique sound.

Let's take a closer look at the songs. A cinematic intro starts the album, only to explode into the big-sounding anthem "Raise Your Hands". The very "early Pink Cream 69"-like "Taste Like Sugar" follows, sounding ever better. Vocalist Thomas Seeburger sounds a lot like Andi Deris on this track, and I can't help but think of "Sugar For Love" from the first PC69 album. "Hold The Line" is another familiar sounding song, with a chorus that bugs the hell out of me - it reminds me of another song, but I can't figure out which one. Before you ask, it's not Toto's "Hold The Line"... more like Kiss or something, simple and stomping, and to be honest... a bit boring.

"In The Rain" is one of my favourites, a truly excellent melodic rock ballad with a great vocal performance from Mr. Seeburger. The AOR-like "Let Me Be" is a very good song, followed by more excellent songs: the riff-driven "To The Limit" and "Keep On Rockin'", of which the latter consists of very cool saxophone parts. "Give It Up" starts with stylish keyboard intro, yet turns into a another good riff-driven song, just like the next track "Crowd's On Fire", last of the "real" album tracks.

As bonustracks of some kind, we get a live version of "Straight On The Road", which sounds a bit like a leftover track, a dull plodding rocker. The acoustic version of "In The Rain" isn't really that necessary... this version can not really compete with the electric one.

For the next album, I'd advise the band to have someone take a look at the lyrics, because most of the ones on this album just make one go "Huh?". For a native English speaker they probably sound even worse. The lyrics aside, this is a very good album with only a couple of weaker tracks.
Human Zoo website

METAL CHURCH: "A Light In The Dark" 7

SPV 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
7 October 2006

The new Metal Church CD should clearly have been reviewed long time ago, but ended unfortunately up in the hands of the wrong person. OK, it's still in the hands of a somewhat dodgy person, but will at least now be featured and reviewed at RockUnited. "A Light In The Dark" has been described as a traditional heavy metal album through and through. Yeah, all the signs are here, the raspy voice of Ronny Munroe, the artwork, the fist-in-the-air anthem, the twin-guitars, and the overall solid material.

While there's still a major portion of "A Light In The Dark" that is full of simple and straight forward metal, there's a lot of diversity showcased on much of this CD from the guitars. Kurdt Vanderhoof, who doubles as sound engineer and producer during the recording, came up with all the important trademarks of typical Metal Church music. The twin-guitar work of Vanderhoof and Jeff Reynolds is just as classy as ever with crunchy and catchy riffing. I can't say that I'm over the moon over the re-recording of the all-time classic, "Watch The Children Pray", since it can't really compete and/or compare with the original recording. It's however a nice gesture and tribute to the late and great David Wayne (R.I.P.).

The opening title track is basic and fine heavy metal music. Fast as a shark with all the energy of a shaken can of Coca Cola (or Pepsi if you prefer). "Beyond All Reason" is an easy advert for exactly what it is that Metal Church do so well. The riffing never stops and neither does the beat. It's meat and potato metal that is far from original but entertaining for your special metal moment(s). "Mirror Of Lies" is blessed with a sing-a-long refrain and every album has to soften out at some point, and it comes here in the form of "Temples Of The Sea". This particular semi-ballad with also have you thinking about Bruce Dickinson and his solo work of lately. "Pill For The Kill" is a tad too simple and blunt kind of metal, and "Son Of The Son" is merely a filler. Nontheless, this won't really disappoint any Metal Church fan, but there's neither any real surprise included. The bottomline: a solid and safe metal album with the typical sound of Seattle... well... Metal Church's Seattle.

AGNES: "When The Night Falls" 7

Sony BMG 2006
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
9 October 2006

Polish-born Agnes was one of the finalists in the latest "Idols"-competition here in Finland. She was a major contender to win the competition, but ended up in the claws of the press vultures and probably lost quite a bit of votes because of the things written about her. They didn't have much to do with her performances or music, but that's the way it goes in these "reality TV" shows... what's more, her unashamed love for hard rock and metal was a bit too much for some pop fans I guess. Despite the fact that Agnes didn't make it to the top three, Sony BMG signed her anyway. The album was released last week, and it went straight to the Top 10, so it seems that the people haven't forgotten her.

"When The Night Falls" isn't a typical "Idol" album of calculated, safe and radio-friendly pop. The label has wisely allowed Agnes to be what she is, a hard rock/metal singer. They've sourced her some really strong songs from both well-known and quite unknown writers, and surrounded her with some of the best players in Finland, including Stratovarius bassist Lauri Porra and Kotipelto guitarist Tuomas Väinölä.

The album opens with possibly the worst song of it, the downright annoying "Bleed". This monotonous and unmelodic song really got me worried that they're trying to turn Agnes into some sort of a nu-metal chick... For my money the album really starts with the title track, which reminds me strongly of another Finnish female singer, the legendary Annica! The song has a strong hook and Agnes' raspy vocals sound very good. The first single "I Thought We Were Lovers" is even better, a killer track with touches of Sonata Arctica's "Don't Say A Word". Both of these excellent tracks were co-written by two familiar names, Tuomas Heikkinen of Leverage and Kimmo Blom of Urban Tale/Heartplay/Dyecrest.

The balladic "Change" ranks among the better tracks here, and there are some familiar guys behind it - Joey Tempest of Europe and Luke Morley of Thunder! I quite like the next track "Evil Empire", but what is possibly the highlight of album does overshadow it a bit... "Danger In Love" is a superb hard rock hit with a killer chorus, sounding like something from Erika's first two albums, only a bit heavier. The man behind this monster of a track is actually a monster himself, Mr. Lordi. If his masquerade games start to feel old at some point, he could very well start to concentrate on writing these catchy songs for others!

The second half of the album is clearly weaker. "Closed The Gates", The song penned by Agnes' big idol Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica is up next, and it's probably the strongest track of the second half. The next three songs are stylewise a bit different, dark and moody pop rock songs which sound a bit like The Rasmus leftovers to these ears. They are not bad, but nothing to write home about...

The album is closed by the power ballad "Who Would Ever Let A Love Like This Go". It's a good song, but it's also the kind of a song that I frankly expected this album to be full of - a safe rock ballad we've all heard a thousand times, kind of like a mixture of Bon Jovi's "Always" and a few Aerosmith hit ballads. I was actually surprised that it wasn't written by Diane Warren.

In conclusion... if at least one of the "goth rock lite" numbers or the horrendous opener had been replaced by a really catchy hard rock track, I wouldn't have hesitated in giving this a bit higher rating. Now, when almost half of the album is just okay or less, a strong "7" is the correct rating.
Agnes' website

MOB RULES: "Ethnolution A.D." 7

SPV 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
9 October 2006

"Ethnolution A.D." is a concept story based upon the ethnological development on our planet, the problematic co-existence of culturally and intellectually different people. The lyrics deal with the aspect of everything from the fall of the Berlin Wall, suicide bombers, to the machinations of the Ku Klux Klan in America. I've always thought of Germany's Mob Rules as a second (or even third) rate version of a typical (melodic) power metal act. Well, until this very release as they've finally reached Camelot and are now at least fighting for a place at the round table. Actually, there's absolutely no need to worry about the usual 'dungeons & dragons' lyrics.

Mob Rules prove that their fifth album has all the makings of a solid album of its genre. They've continued to consolidate their position on the German metal scene, combining traditional styles with surprising arrangements and progressive elements. This is very progressive at times (reminiscent in parts of Queensryche), I definitely prefer this over Rhapsody Of Fire any day of the week. "River Of Pain" is almost neo-classical in its style and arrangement, and will also have you thinking about Yngwie Malmsteen as well/much as Helloween.

Klaus Dirk sounds like a deadringer to Lenny Wolf (Kingdom Come) at times and especially during part 6 of the opening odyssey of Ethnolution, "The Last Farwell". Indeed, the opening track is the longest and most progressive work of the band so far. With more than 25 minutes of playing time, it's a metal opus that sure does impress. "Unholy War" will instantly get yer old ticker going with its bombastic approach and catchy arrangement. "Ashes To Ashes" is progressive, catchy, metal in the vein of Stone Fury (pre-Kingdom Come) meets Queensryche for a drink at Kamelot. "Fuel To The Fire" is typical Mob Rules with a hint of Freedom Call and Vanden Plas. "Day And A Lifetime" is a nice ballad with a bit *too* lively German accent by Dirk (my oh my). There's actaully a couple of really horrible toons towards the end ("Ain't The One", "New Horizon"). On the other hand, "With Sparrows" is a fine mid-paced track and "Better Morning" is a nice ballad and ending. OK, they can't really compete with the best acts of the genre, however, it's a solid effort by a solid band.

DARK LUNACY: "The Diarist" 6

Fuel Records 2006
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
8 October 2006

The third effort by the mad Italians of Dark Lunacy is a concept album based on WWII. The story is based around a diary written during the truly awful battle and siege of Leningrad/Russia. It's clearly one of the most memorable WWII scenaries and also the beginning of the end for Hitler and Nazi-Germany.

Their melodic Death Metal music is very symphonic and "The Diarist" has all the makings of a fine album but for some reason hovers on the borders of good and average. I do enjoy the dramatic parts with tons of keyboards and choirs and perfect harmonies that meet up somewhere between Children Of Bodom and Within Tepmtation. I believe it's the rather plain approach of tempo (samey-samey) and overall attitude that drags this more towards average.

Melancholy, suffering, and drama, are the main ingredients, and it's been nicely mixed at the Fredman studio in Sweden. The downer would be the mid-tempo pace of a majority of the tracks. Sure, tracks like "Auroroa", "Play Dead", "Now Is Forever" and "On Memory White Sleigh", bounce their way into oblivion, but the strained metal of the rest of the tracks sound forced and stop "The Diarist" from reaching that top-notch energy rush throughout the CD. Still, all that said, you can't go completely wrong here if you've got tons of cash and would like to spend it on symphonic death metal from Italy.

BEGGAR'S BRIDE: "Boulevard Of Broken Hearts" 3

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

Beggar's Bride is a new project by Swiss producer, songwriter and singer Holggy Begg. Before this, Begg apparently worked on productions such as the recent solo album by Oni Logan (Lynch Mob). The music has been described in the following info-sheet as "desert rock" and "desert songs" - suitable for deserts as well as the city's street canyons, unfolding its impact in a pleasantly rocking and melodic way, coming straight from the heart (WTF???). Nope, I have no idea what they're actually talkin' about! It's quite obvious that a majority of these songs are truly dry and dusty though... much like the desert heat.

Famed producer, multi-musician Michael Voss (Mad Max, Casanova) at the mixing desk (and behind the microphone on two of the tracks) as well as other prominent guest musicians, doesn't really help, and it's unfortunately a 'below average' album in the end. Marc Storace (Krokus, Biss) does however sing lead on two of the better tracks (Broken Hearts & First Way Out). Holggy Begg himself is a true character and also someone who's merely been eating broken glass and drinking gasoline for the last ten years!? Seriously, words such as "raspy" and "a barbwire singer", don't even come close to a real description.

Gary Barden of MSG fame does a great job as always on "Dreams" and "The Open Sea", but the songs are just not up to standard. Then there's the lovely Aino Laos (Laos) behind the microphone during the pale pop/country/rock ballad "You Were My Sunshine"... And the list goes on and on with basically the same result and verdict: lifeless.

MTM Music 10th Anniversary: "Various Artists"

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

This is the latest MTM compilation release due to the occasion of their 10th anniversary as a record company and label. It's a special limited edition double CD where disc 1 exclusively features new or not yet released titles. Disc 2 is a 'best of MTM' compilation with some of their best songs and artists during all the years (you can find the entire tracklisting at the end of this review). Let's put all the focus on the new stuff and disc 1 though.

Zeno's "Land Of Illusion" is the opening track and features a new singer: Michael Bormann (Jaded Heart). You can except a full CD review (and interview) with Zeno in the next couple of weeks. This song is however very Joe Lynn Turner sounding with the excellent and typical guitarwork of Zeno Roth. Alannah Myles & Jeff Healey are up next with "I Can't Stand The Rain" from the forthcoming Tina Turner tribute album. Pretty boring stuff actually and not one of my favourite tunes. Danish rockers of 'Fate' with the unreleased "Sweet Angel", it's a typical mid-tempo rocker with the sound of their latest release. AOR rocker Dan Lucas and "Love Hurts" next and nope, it's not another Nazareth cover (thank God). His "Canada" release is one of those cult, must-have CDs, and this a nice and rather catchy tune in a similar style and approach. Vengeance and "Down Down Down" is more of the 'Back In The Ring' stuff and Acca Dacca. "Desperate Dreams" with the band AOR is fluffy to the extreme, Shiva's "The Cameleon" and Brett Walker's "Give Me Back Tomorrow", are two real winners in my books. Expect their forthcoming albums to be something to look out for in the future.

"Relapsed (ex-CITA) and "Hardest Part Of Goodbye" doesn't impress, Martin Briley's "I Don't Think She Misses Me At All" is very laidback stuff (expect full album review soon), and Warrant's Jani Lane belts out a so-so version of "Lay Your Hands On Me" (from the forthcoming Bon Jovi tribute). Shades Of Grey" with "If You Say" is Westcoast rock with a 80's sound. Norway's Aina with the unreleased "No Pleasure Without Pain" is the James Christian (House Of Lords) song "Pleasure & Pain" (from the Rude Awakening album), and it works out nicely, but it won't touch Christian's version. Robert Louden's "Temptation", and Silver (feat. Gary Barden) with "Prescious" are the two last tracks of the CD and neither of them are any great really. Final verdict: you'll have to take the good with the bad as they're some real gems to be found here.

Disc 2 Tracklisting: 1. Tower City - Talking To Sarah. 2. CITA - Silent Soldiers. 3. Dare - Some day 4. Sahara Snow (Rick Springfield) - Heaven. 5. Axe - Life In The Furnace. 6. Danger Danger - Goin' Goin' Gone. 7. Harlan Cage - Dearborn Station. 8. Steelhouse Lane - Son Of A Loaded Gun. 9. Hughes Turner Project - You Can't Stop Rock'N'Roll. 10. TNT - Give Me A Sign. 11. Jaded Heart - Live And Let Die. 12. Tony Martin - Surely Love Is Dead. 13.Vengeance - Back In The Ring. 14. Fate - Everything About You. 15. Warrant - Dirty Jack.


* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 41-45/06 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 41-45/06 * * * * *
Thunder, Anthropia, Final Frontier, Vicious Rumors, Alleycat Scratch, Baltimoore, Spock's Beard, Wizard's Hymn, Narnia, My Chemical Romance, Flower Kings DVD, Zeno, Lovechild, Deftones, Soulcage, Ruffians, Hearse, Porcupine Tree's DVD, Peter Frampton, Biss, Sequel, Europe, Wetton and Downes, Crystal Tears, Bone-box, Paul Stanley, Dawn Of Silence, Martin Briley, Kamelot, Marty Friedman, Paul Gilbert, The Haunted, Hammerfall, Eden, Birdflesh, Tokyo Dragons, Skid Row, Divinefire, Unleashed, Pretty Maids, Miss Behaviour, Human Zoo, Metal Church, Mob Rules, Agnes, Dark Lunacy, Beggar's Bride, MTM anniversary compilation.

* * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 36-40/06 * * * * REVIEWS OF WEEKS 36-40/06 * * * * *
Mennen, A.C.T., Winger, Evanescence, Kingdom Come, Dacia + The WMD, Wetton/Downes (live album), Lamb Of God, Vio-Lence, Cheap Trick, TNT (DVD), Fraze Gang, Lostprophets, Riot, Magnolia, Joker Five Speed, Amplifier, Memfis, Villebråd, Tommy Bolin, My Chemical Romance (single), Circle2Circle, Dream Evil, The Cyan Velvet Project, Rhapsody Of Fire, UFO, Tourist, Slamer, Ty Tabor, Tempesta, Sunstorm, Mad Max (EP), Avalon, Psych Onation, Dysinformation.

* * * * * 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.

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