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

The ratings range from 1 to 10, with 1 being utterly horrible and 10 a classic in the making! Singles, EPs and compilations will not be rated.

REVIEWS ADDED 20 May, 2007 (WEEK 20)
MELDRUM: "Blowin' Up The Machine" 8

Frontiers 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
14 May 2007

[Another pointless introduction:] Going through the following info-sheet only to find out that Lemmy (Motörhead) guest appears on one of the tracks. Geez... now there's a major surprise... NOT!!! Seriously, Lemmy guest appears on EVERY new release with an all female or female fronted metal act. He's been doing it for the last 25 years and he'll probably continue for another 25. In fact, there's no need to inform us about the geezer anymore, we all know he'll be involved, one way or the other.

"Blowin' Up The Machine" is the second effort by the Sweden based metal act, Meldrum. It's however built around the talent of U.S. guitarist Michelle Meldrum (ex-Phantom Blue), and with the addition of the two Swedes, Moa Holmsten (vocals) and Frida Ståhl (bass). This record is heavy as s**t and has portions of old skool metal, a dash of punky Thrash and a hint of the Nu-Metal. Wimps and posers better just leave this CD alone. "Miss Me When I'm Gone" is the duet featuring Lemmy, the main guitar riff sounds like something by Soundgarden, the overall vibe of the tune is very much Skid Row 'ala "Subhuman Race", and there's even some Black Label Society within these notes. Kikk-azz!!!

Don't let the record label name fool ya' as this it many times heavier than Frontiers usual stuff and releases. The music of Meldrum is clearly not intended for the ones only into soft rock. Powerchords, throbbing riffs, and screaming guitars are flying across the room as I try to duck for cover. There's simply no escape from the excellent and brutal shredding by Michelle though. It's top-notch stuff from the word go and she's almost like a heavier (yeah!) version of Zakk Wylde.

Meanwhile at the vocals department, Lady Moa huffs and puffs like a crazy runaway train down the track and it's all a very intense and powerful display of metal. "Creme De La Creme" is rather slow metal tune and close to Sabbath doomy in its approach and formula. They have managed to include a fine chorus part with most of tunes though (except for a couple of fillers). However, keep in mind that it's probably too heavy for the average record label follower.

TWO OF A KIND: "Two Of A Kind" 7

Frontiers 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
13 May 2007

I haven't been the slightly impressed by the music of Fred Hendrix and Terra Nova as of lately. Thus why Fred's brand new project is an unexpected and kind of positive surprise out of nowhere. Brother Ron and former Terra Nova members helps out with providing a thick layer of fluffy instruments and dut-dut keys. Ja' wohl, the dirty old geezers has also gone through The Netherlands (there's a lame joke here somewhere) in search of singers and hooked up with not one, but two female beauties and top-notch vocalists.

Anita Craenmehr (ex-Night Shade) and Ester Brauns, are two lovely songbirds the works nicely together in the tradition of Heart. Nope, they're not quite as great as: Ann "Goddess" Wilson and sister Nancy, but darn it, some of these tracks are close to the AOR friendly version of Heart. Indeed, you will find some truly amazing vocal harmonies on this record and the song, "Give Me A Reason", is the best substitute for late 80's HEART in a very long time. It's one of those songs that kind of goes with the flow, but remains irresistible due to a constant driving guitar, a catchy hook, and amazing lead/backup vocals.

Opener, "Light In The Dark" is however one of the weakest tracks of the album. A throw-away rocker with a AOR sound in the vein of Alyson Avenue. The verses are in a sorry state though and the refrain is so: been-there, done-that. Things gets much better with next track, "The Longest Night", very much still the Scandi' sound of Alyson Avenue, but this time blessed with a great sing-a-long refrain. "Little By Little" is almost part two of the dull opening track, only with a hint of Doro. The really fun part starts with track four and above mentioned: Give Me A Reason. The following three, "Heaven Can Wait", "Unbearable", "Into The Fire", are all great AOR tunes. Especially the latter is a two-parted, epic, semi-ballad (phew, lots of words there), that The Wilson sis' would have been proud of.

Speaking of Heart again, "In Your Arms" is a power ballad that comes complete with verses in their tradition, plus a chorus that is almost ABBA-ish and very Scandi' sounding. The Bottomline: throughly enjoyable female fronted AOR and at its best like a fine mix of HEART and the debut album with Alyson Avenue. All that glitters ain't gold though... but there's still enough of bling-bling to impress your hoods' gang-bangers (ehem, then again, maybe not).
Frontiers @myspace

SEQUEL: "Back" 4

Perris 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
14 May 2007

The previous Sequel (no pun intended) was a nice display of the 80's rock and hairmetal music. The CD showcased the shared lead vocals of bassist Todd Jansen (David Lee Roth, Alice Cooper, Paul Rodgers, Hardline, etc) and guitarist/song writer Greg Georgeson (Tommy TuTone), Now they're "Back" with another attempt at world domination and their latest CD is packed with meat and potato rock of the past.

It's been previously mentioned here at RU (the indie release) and I'm not going to take or add anything from previous reviewer. "Back" has however now been officially released at Perris records in the states and a opening track like "All Right All Right", will do all right on a late saturday night. Throw in a couple of six-packs and I'm sure that "Cherry Wine", "You Don't See Me", and "Heart On The Line", will probably work out fine too. Then again, I'm not so sure about the rest. It's difficult to pin-point the problem, but it's oh-so familiar rock of the past.

It's not like they don't have any great influences though, no, it's just that they want to sound like their favourite bands rather than creating their own branch of music. Not always a bad idea, I guess, but it clearly didn't work out great this time. You can find everything from Cinderella to David Lee Roth here, but it's unfortunately the second or third rate version of the bands music. I still enjoy their first indie stuff though.

BROKEN DAGGER: "Chain Of Command" 3

CMD/RecordHeaven 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
15 May 2007

Chain Of Command? Well, you have a girl in a Goth/S&M outfit with a chain around her neck? Excellent frontcover if you're going for the classic metal look: we're in a band and we're obviously retarded. Yes sir, there's no need to complicate things, keep it simple, keep it low-brow, use the clichés, work the magic, feel the power, gaga supreme. Ehem, anyhow, Broken Dagger is a new-ish band from Sweden that gives you 10 tracks of "classic" metal, power/speed, and just a hint of the progressive stuff.

Fair enough, Broken Dagger are at first a little surprising. Opening track, "An Unwanted Child" is a bit of a teutonic stomper, mixing Blind Guardian scattyness with a more WASP and "Still Not Black Enough" feel. Vocalist Niklas Olausson does his best Blackie Lawless impression and it works just fine for a minute of two. It's all downhill from this point on though.

They have these paced out doomy riffs and keys that's being held for way too long. The vocalist decides on a certain pitch and the rest of the band just goes along for the ride. Olausson is far from a utter crap vocalist, however, it's close to montonous singing of the usual pain and misery business. "The End Of Hope" sounds like one of those dodgy French metal acts of the early 80's and you're actually glad when it's finally over.


RecordHeaven 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
14 May 2007

What do you end up with if you have too much spare time on your hands, plus free access to a bong with an endless supply of you-know-what. That's absolutely correct!!! The answer is indeed free form improvised space rock music in the form of Orsesund Space Collective. Dude, why do you think they call it dope??? It can't hardly effect your brain to be slow and utterly dull to the point of finding ALL music equally great? Nah... then again, why did anyone otherwise bother to record an album like "It's All About Delay"?

Christ oh mighty, it's 2 CD's filled with improvised flower-power music that according to the info-sheet: are ALWAYS improvised despite some of it coming across as composed. I'm not quite sure why this particular statement would be something to brag about really??? It's basically nine (yes, 9) musicians that first decided to smoke a truckload of s**t, and later decided to record their 5 hours long jamming session???? What the hell !!! and they actually expect someone to buy this???

OK, OK... you can find "some" enjoyable parts of uptempo hard driving space acid rock with guitars blazing into space. The synthesizers swirl, bubble, and pop with wacky sounds of space and acid dropping creatures from your worst kind of nightmare. Free form... bah... free form is just another word for crap.

MOONMADNESS: "Stroke Of Midnight"

Blue Violet 2007
Review by Satu Reunanen
17 May 2007

MoonMadness are back with another single, having just recently released the "Torn"-single independently, a fine track from the band. Their new single "Stroke Of Midnight", with additional live video track of "Ain't No Angel", seen earlier on their "Torn" release, has already taken its place on the Finnish single charts. That's good news for the debut releasing hard rock band. MoonMadness has made improvement with sounds from their earlier releases, so they're more consistent now than before. Their forthcoming debut most likely continues in the same spirit, and fans of this genre will for sure like the results.

Like before, MoonMadness' warm hard rock is catchy and "Stroke Of Midnight" strongly shows their influences. The classic sound is there like from the start and the basic elements also. The strong guitar riffs and keys both play an important role in this song, jamming like always and occasionally striking few dynamic notes for a dramatic feel to the song, yet keeping the soft core within. Whatever the band does they always manage to sound so uplifting and spiritual with their easy melodies, something that can't be taken for granted, it comes natural from MoonMadness.

REVIEWS ADDED 13 May, 2007 (WEEK 19)
RUSH: "Snakes & Arrows" 10

Atlantic 2007
Review by Martien Koolen,
13 May 2007

I became a Rush fan back in 1975 after the release of "Fly by night" and especially "Caress of steel" and now 32 years later the best Canadian art rock band ever bring out their 18th studio album called "Snakes & Arrows". And for those of you who would like to read an objective review I would advise you to read other reviews of this CD as well, because this album is already the best album of the year 2007. After 5 very long years without a new Rush album, this year finally I could look forward to a new release of my all time favourite rock band.

"Snakes & Arrows" is a concept album dealing with religion and the lyrics of good old Neil Peart on this album probably belong to the best he has ever written. Just listen to the second song of the album "Armor and sword" and you will see why. The CD features 3 instrumentals of which "The main monkey business" is one of the best and most original instrumentals I have ever heard. It is even better than "La villa strangiato" and I dare to be so bold as dubbing this track the modern thrilling version of "Yyz". The song features lots of Porcupine Tree and Tool influences but it is dominated by those typical, magical Rush characteristics. The second instrumental "Hope" is an acoustic one where Alex really shines as a Spanish guitar picker, altough I must say that I am not really that fond of acoustic songs and therefore I would call "Hope" the least impressive song of the album. "Malignant narcissism" is the last instrumental track and this one really rocks and even though it is a rather short song, there is even some time for a couple of drum and bass breaks.

The album kicks off with the already familiar "Far cry" (being the single), a song that most of you will already have heard. It is a great opening song, melodic, catchy and the chorus is sheer addictive. It has been a tradition of Rush to start with really great openers, like on "Moving Pictures", "Hemispheres", "A farewell to kings", "Permanent waves" and mainly all the rest of the other albums as well. Even "Vapor trails" features a great opening track – "One little victory" – altough many people still do not like that particular album. "Armor and sword", the second song of the album, is a bit less accessible than the opener, as it is a mid tempo, rather dark track with great lyrics and a magical killer melodic chorus. Listening to this album at least twice a day – I know I am hooked! – I have come to the conclusion that "Snakes & Arrows" is a really powerful CD with contemporary art rock from the 21st century mixed with experiences from the nineties, amazing atmospheres from the eighties and even experimental elements from the seventies. I could go on about this album forever, but you really have to listen to it yourself over and over again to truly appreciate it. Mister Syme’s art work is as beautiful as ever and the production of Nick Raskulinecz (Velvet Revolver and Foo Fighters) together with Rush is sheer magic. The album sounds heavy, rocky and crystal clear, due to the fact that every instrument sounds so natural, especially the drum sound is great. Geddy’s voice – which you either seem to love or hate – is still in outstanding shape, epecially in some of the quieter moments. There is NO bad song on this CD, altough it might take you a little longer to digest some of the songs. Listening tips: "The way the wind blows" and "The main monkey business". Get this album right now and by the way did I already tell you that I am not objective about Rush?

PLANET X: "Quantum" 9

Inside Out 2007
Review by Martien Koolen,
13 May 2007

On their 4th studio CD called "Quantum", Planet X (read Sherinian and Donati) really make an outstanding impression with an almost perfect blend of metal, fusion and instrumental rock. Besides the notorious founding members the album features a lot of guest musicians like Brett Garsed (guitar), Jimmy Johnson (bass), Rufus Philpot (bass) and the always exciting guitar picker Allan Holdsworth.

This album is again 50 minutes of superb instrumental rock music, a furious mix of hard rock, heavy metal, blues and jazz fusion. The album opens with the funky, jazzy up tempo "Alien hip hop", a song that I would like to describe as Dream Theater meets Platypus. Derek’s keyboards work is amazing and the cool guitar solo does the rest. "Desert girl" has a melodic piano/keys intro followed by speedy pumping bass riffs and some DT-like guitar riffs. The jazzy guitar solo of Allan Holdsworth gives an extra musical dimension to this track. Right after these first two songs you will notice that this is an extremely gripping instrumental album which enthrals the listener right from the first note.

The two most extraordinary tracks are "Quantum factor" (also the longest song on the album) and "Snuff". The latter reminding me very much of Dream Theater and especially Jordan Rudess. The song is filled with keyboard layers, trashy guitar riffs, groovy melodies and some outstanding guitar and keys solos. "Quantum factor", the last song, is the musical highlight and here you can enjoy all the technical skills of Donati and Sherinian. The song is an original mix of jazz, funk, rock, metal and fusion, filled with amazing melodies, extraordinary solos and even a semi-drum solo. Planet X is probably the craziest instrumental band in the world and I love them!

ALLEN/LANDE: "The Revenge" 8

Frontiers 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
8 May 2007

It's not all that easy to write a follow up album to a success story such as the first Allen/Lande CD. Regarded as of the better Melodic Heavy Metal albums of the millenium to many folks and fans of the genre. Well, it also ended up as #2 on my personal album list of 2005 and #1 on the combined RockUnited staff list. And nope, I don't know why this would be even remotely interesting? (just call it a shameless plug or whatever, anyhow I need to stop this "list" thing though).

Much of its success will have to be credited to the two superb lead vocalists, Russell Allen (Symphony X) and Jorn Lande (Masterplan). Let's face it, this project wouldn't have been the slightly interesting... if it featured a couple of lesser capable or particularly unknown vocalists. Not to mention that the monicker would be the first thing to go [:-)]. However, no matter how great singers, they don't actually contribute with anything beyond lead and harmony vocals. Nope, it's all down to Swedish guitarist, Magnus Karlsson (Last Tribe) to come up with equally fine material and sing-a-long metal melodies. So... did he deliver the goods?

Well, not all tracks are instant hits and you need to spin this several times to really get the hang of the full picture. A couple of the tracks doesn't quite click though and it gets a bit samey towards the end of the CD. Opening title track, "The Revenge" is possessed by the killer dual vocals by Allen/Lande. It's a quite remarkable tune really as it holds all the necessities needed to become a future melodic metal classic. It's rather bombastic, catchy, and yet with a retro sound of the major acts of the early 80's. "Obsessed" is sung by Allen and it's a nice mix of Dio metal and bombastic european rock. It reminded me somehow of the first album of the Phenomena project. Well, this is sort of the more "Metal" version of a Phenomena project anyhow.

"Victory" is a dual vocals attack once again and Karlsson's material is certainly "European" as I could not imagine this in the hands of a U.S. writer. The verse is excellent and in the vein of the first A/L and Masterplan. The refrain kind of goes with the flow though and I miss a killer hook, you know, a real jawbreaker. Not bad, but neither great. Great however is the following piano semi-ballad "Master Of Sorrow", very sentimental and powerful at the same time. Lande delivers his best Coverdale vocals during "The Spell", but I'm not so sure about that refrain again. "Gone Too Far" and "Wake Up Call" are two real winners in the melodic metal field.

I believe it to be a serious mistake for any songwriter to spread out his/her material to as many artists as possible (I'm mainly speaking in terms of entire albums here - not as much individual songs). People will eventually get tired of the sound and especially if their contributions takes place in the same kind of music genre. Thus why nobody gets really excited about Karlsson's other projects anymore. He's probably doomed to be forever connected to Allen/Lande and hey, that's not such a shabby place in metal history. "The Revenge" is a damn solid second album, not quite as explosive as the debut, but still pleasing.

UDO: "Mastercutor" 8

AFM Records 2007
Review by Martien Koolen,
13 May 2007

"Mastercutor" is the strange new title of the new UDO album and it is one of his best releases in a long time. The CD has a very modern up-to-date metal sound and the band rocks like never before... The new album features 12 new songs ranging from traditional hard rock to metal and from trash metal to melodic ballads.

The album kicks off with the title track and you can hear an intro of a tv-talkshow before the heavy guitar riffs enter and UDO’s typical vocals dominate this Judas Priest meets Accept song. The twin guitar solo in the middle is my favourite part of this great opening track. "The Wrong Side Of The Midnight", which is also the single, comes crashing in next and it is also an up tempo metal track with those very recognisable UDO and Accept characteristics. "One Lone Voice" is the first song where the band steps on the break. The song is rather spooky filled with "weird" vocals and a nice melodic guitar solo.

The heaviest track is probably "Master Of Disaster" which sounds like a trashy Priest song from their "Painkiller" album and another great headbanging song is called "Vendetta". "Tears Of A Clown" is the ballad on the album and it features piano, violin, a semi-acoustic guitar solo and UDO trying to actually sing... Still it is a rather dull song, at least not my cup of tea. "The Devil Walks Alone" is a classic up tempo UDO song, sounding very much like AC/DC’s "Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be" at certain times...

All in all a great rock album with a few surprises, but it is still a typical UDO album, so keep banging those heads and playing those air guitars. UDO is back and he is here to stay for a long time!

The NIGHTWATCHMAN: "One Man Revolution" 8

Epic/Sony 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
8 May 2007

First of all, yep, "One Man Revolution" is the solo debut by Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave. Secondly, nope, it doesn't sound like any of his band things really as this is a mellow singer/songwriter album. Sure, The Nightwatchman may be a soft-head according to the music style, hold your horses though, this a darn fine "soft-head" album and not to be entirelly missed out if you're into the s/s genre. Again, please don't expect to find any metal songs or screaming guitars here. Acoustic guitars only.

The CD is jam-packed with "aggressive" acoustic guitars and preachy lyrics in the tradition of the man in black, Cash, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen. Some might think it's basically acoustic punk or metal, nah, not really, it's very much back-to-basics and stripped down to the bare bones. It's an honest and naked display of Morello's songwriting and you can't help to wonder if this isn't what he always wanted to do and record.

Not to mention that Tom vocals are in the vein of Cash & Cohen. Well, not quite as low as Cohen, perhaps more in the vein of Nick Cave. It's however conclusive proof that Morello is attempting to move aside any pre-conceptions people may have of his music material. And by the way, didn't Kurt Cobain always dream about being a singer/songwriter anyhow? It's 13 tracks of bitterness and revenge and it's produced by Brendan O'Brien, who worked with Morello's full-time bands as well as Bruce Springsteen's The Rising and Devil & Dust.

The CD takes off with "California's Dark", and it really sets the mood and pace of the entire album. The spirit of Cash in the background and it's the old American way of folk songwriting. The acoustic punky titletrack, "One Man Revolution", has killer lines such as: tonight I'm in the bushes with a baseball bat. The most "uptempo" rebel track of the album and it's still pretty laidback. "Let Freedom Ring" is a mix of Cash, Cave, Cohen, and Dylan in a updated version 'ala 2007. Check out the outro of the song as it copies "My Hometown" by Springsteen. Well, I guess it dates back even further than Bruce, no. "The Road I Must Travel" is like one of those half acoustic tunes The Pogues did in the past (including a na-na-na choir). "The Garden of Gethsemane" is pure bliss and will also remind you of the ballads of Red Hot Chilipepper.

The only downer? like many singer/ songwriter albums, you do miss a couple of tempo changes and uptempo tunes. It's certainly not a "party" album, but when you're in the right mood, this is a wicked CD to play. By the way, I read in the following info-sheet that his great-uncle was the first president of Kenya??? Wicked indeed.

SPECTRE: "Dreamland" 8

Atlantian Records 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
13 May 2007

Spectre is a North American symphonic progressive rock trio, consisting of Brian Smith (drums), Bob Sundgren (keys) and Todd Rose (guitars). The music of Spectre is quite intense and overwhelming, as it is a huge wall of well produced sound, being a melting pot of the "old" Yes, Asia, ELP, Night Ranger, The Syn and Conspiracy. The music is very complex and especially the guitar walls of Todd Rose overwhelm the listener the very first time. It is not an easy album to listen to, but if you listen more carefully and more often then you will start to really love it....

The title track opens the album and here Spectre gives the listeners all they want to hear; amazing guitar work – mainly influenced by Tony Macalpine, Steve Howe and Shawn Lane – keyboard walls, spacy vocals and lots of other "retro" prog rock musical elements. All the songs have a story, but I truly find it difficult to trace or understand that....

Musical highlights: "The Spectre", filled with great guitar melodies and ballad like pop/rock elements. "Abduction", a great space rock like track with astonishing guitar arpeggios and "Forever", a song that really brings back memories of fantastic bands like Asia, Yes and ELP. All in all, a great symphonic guitar rock album, altough not very accessible, but really worth listening to, as these three guys exhibit some amazing high-energy chops! Watch out for Spectre!!

SHAKRA:"Infected" 7

AFM Records 2007
Review by Martien Koolen,
13 May 2007

Just 19 months after their critically acclaimed CD "Fall", the Swiss rockers Shakra return with their new album called "Infected". It is rocking time again on this album which features 13 brand new songs, which are in fact a musical mix of Gotthard, Krokus and other "related" hard rock bands. All the songs are within the five minute mark and I must say that all songs almost have the same built up, namely verse-chorus-verse-guitar solo-verse-chorus-verse-chorus...... Therefore I would like to say that the album truly lacks diversity and especially the vocals of Mark Fox could use a bit of variety as he tends to sing all the songs in the same way...

The CD starts with the almost familiar "Make your day", a fast rock song reminding me very much of Krokus and Gotthard. "Inferno", the follow up, is a good song featuring a great groove and here Mark uses his dark and raspy voice in an excellent way. "The One" is my favourite song of the album and it will become a classic live Shakra track without any doubt. All the other up tempo songs almost sound quite alike and are therefore not good but also not really bad, but they lack that certain something to make a song special. "Vertigo" even sounds rather "commercial" and is a typical singalong rock song which you will start to hate after listening to it several times...

The two ballads are also the two most dreadful songs on the album. "Love will find a way" is a semi-acoustic one and "Acheron’s way" is a 100% acoustic ballad which bores me to death. So, I really have mixed feelings about this album as I like Shakra’s rocky musical side but I abolutely load their ballads! Check it out for yourself!

ADRENALINE FACTOR: "Adrenaline Factor" 6

Perris 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
9 May 2007

Adrenaline Factor is the brand new project by former Dirty Looks and Dangerous Toys guitarist, Paul Lidel. We all know what Dirty Looks sounded like, huh? Ever since the 1985 debut they were an U.S. AC/DC styled unit, stealing riffs and almost entire songs from the revered Australian band.

Thus why it hardly comes as a surprise that Lidel has teamed up with someone like Lee Scott, singer for the AC/DC tribute band, Big Balls. Yup, Lee Scott is a nice deadringer for his namesake Bon Scott and it's all about three chords and true rock'n'roll lyrics from this point on. Not quite sure what Tipper Gore would say about songs such as "Boozin' Susan" and "Seven Beer Bitch". Her husband (Al) would probably put the blame on Adrenaline Factor for everything from melting ice to missing bee's though.

The CD kicks off in big style with "Ride", a good example of that old tight riffing Acca Dacca music of the past. Lidel has managed to start up his old amp and get the spark going again with the usual Youngx2 number. The following track, "Wrong Number", is brilliant enough to be given countless of thumbs up and high-fives among the Bon Scott fanatics. Wow, I almost started to believe that we're having at future classic on our hands at this point. "Boozin' Susan" is sort of basic and cheap, but still vicious enough to give grandma a kick in the teeth.

Oh well, we all knew the fun wouldn't last as the next four tracks are rather dull and uninspired rock. Typical stuff that every average local band are playing in every bar and roadhouse all over the states. The last three numbers pick up nicely and closing track, "Goin' Nowhere", is different from the rest with a roaring hammond and a Deep Purple beat. Final verdict: Could be worth picking up for the obvious AC/DC comparison and the excellent guitarwork by Lidel.

Steve THORNE: "Part Two: Emotional Creatures" 6

GEP/SPV 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
5 May 2007

Part two of the Emotional Creatures saga will take the listener on a journey through space and time. Indeed, the multi instrumentalist Steve Thorne has managed to paint his music in big texture and pictures of the 80's prog. Going through the guest list, you'll notice fine musicians such as: Geoff Downes (Asia, Yes), Nick D'Virgillo (Spock's Beard, Genesis), Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel), Pete Trewawas (Marillion, Kino, Transatlantic), Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree) and John Mitchell (It Bites, Arena, Kino).

Nevertheless, it's strickly Thorne's music and he alone is responsible for the classy stuff as well as all the fillers as usual. I know it's perhaps too easy and even silly to describe this CD as a mixture of old and new Marillion. However, Thorne is clearly inspired by the singing technique of both FISH and Steve Hogarth. Add just a hint of the sound of Peter Gabriel and IQ, and you're pretty close to the true core of "Part Two: Emotional Creatures". By the way, simply check out "Roundabout" for a fine example of the Peter Gabriel inspiration and influences. The lyrics and music is somewhat darker than its predecessor. There are lots of moodswings and diverse atomospheres to be found, even though the CD is most, if not ALL of the time, quite laidback and smooth to the extreme.

Anyhow, don't expect to find any uptempo prog tunes here. I'm not too keen about opening tracks such as, "Toxicana Apocalypso", since it's a rather long (too long) instrumental piece that starts out ok, but gets quickly weary after a couple of minutes. "Wayward" is definitely the sound of FISH and why not the excellent sound of "Vigil In The Wilderness Of Mirrors". Next up, "Crossfire", the absolute highlight of the album in my opinion and sheer poetry in motion. This is a marvelous piano song with a haunting theme and a sound that will please any fan of the Fish fronted Marillion. "Hounded" is simply too over ambitious and quite frank... boring. In fact, there's a slight tendency of being over ambitious on several tracks and it's a never quite as intriguing plot as the first part.

Don't let this review scare you away too easily though, you can still find a lot of nicely played slow tunes in the style of part one. It's just that I'am still quite pleased with the first one and doesn't exactly need or want another copy. Nice... but a bit too nice, if you get my point.

SUN CAGED: "Artemesia" 5

Lionmusic 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
5 May 2007

I really, really, enjoyed the stunning first album by Sun Caged. I even thought it be one of the most interesting "Dream Theater" kind of debuts since... well... Dream Theater. All this took however place back in 2003 and they've finally returned for a second coming of Prog-Metal. Thus my surprise and also disappointment when practually all original members were gone like yesterdays news.

Yup, merely guitarist Marc Coene remains within the realm of Sun Caged and it's frankly just too much to handle for Sir. Killalot. Not only does the dragon spit fire like a rapid fast machine gun. No, the darn thing has also managed to hire a bunch of ogres to set up a complex structure of writing, which, I may add, doesn't always include a melody nor a decent refrain (thus why they're ogres). Oh bugger, that's the last time I play a fantasy game on PC before listening to a music CD.

Ehem, nevermind, they've got a lot of energy and it reminds me greatly of the widdly-woddly era of prog when everyone found it more important to impress your fellow prog musicians with flashy moves rather than to actually write songs. I know this to be a common excuse among non-believers, however, I enjoy my top-notch prog as much as any die-hard fanatic, who simply wont listen to any another music genre than prog for that matter. But the songs do overall lack the presence needed to stand on their own and they will merely function as a substitute until something better and bigger comes your way. It's a shame when you really enjoy a band (their debut album ended up on #8 on my personal album list of 2003) to find out that pretty much everything that you liked about them has been replaced with something less impressive. They've gone from superb to average from one album to the next.

DAYDREAMER: "Daydreamer" 4

Escape 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
8 May 2007

Daydreamer, huh? Well, it's time to wake up to the real world as we are not amused by the dreamy approach to music. Could this be the result of group schizophrenia? Nah, all jokes aside, it's difficult to pin (or pen) down the sound of Daydreamer, since they're constantly changing for each track. Look, it's some kind of soft, heavy, symphonic, AOR, progressive, melodic metal, that will leave you dazed and confused for weeks.

They're appearantly from Switzerland and it all makes kind of sense. You know, considering that you have the Swiss Army Knife and all of its useless side-effects and gadgets. The uptempo tracks are all full of dull keyboards and mindless riffing that goes nowhere fast and quickly back home again. The choruses are the kinds that you won't remember once you've stoped playing the disc. It may all sound a bit harsh, but they've got boring drum lines, boring bass lines, and merely "I Won't Follow You", could be considered as a small winner in the style of pompous groove of early Axxis.

Here's the really weird part though, all three ballads (Dreamtale, Hand In Hand, Slaves Of Your Fantasy) are all pretty fantastic and filled with lovely piano/keyboard parts. Unbelievable!!! How come they can't write uptempo tracks when the ballads are so great??? Did someone else write them? Ok, they are rather pompous and lushy in the style of early AXXIS... but so what? The latter is a semi-ballad I guess, since it includes some aggressive parts. And yes, it was indeed fun to have your own Swiss Army Knife... at the age of nine. Final verdict: great ballads - not so great - the rest.

Jerry METAL: "Return To Planet Metal"

RivetheadPublishing 2007
Review by Alan Holloway,
5 May 2007

Following on from the hugely successful and completely bonkers "The Windowmaker, The Codpiece & The Sex Gods From The Planet Metal", "Return To Planet Metal" is another heavy metal fairy tale from vegetable hating madman Jerry Metal (0f the famed hard as granite band Osmium). Be warned, though - this is not suitable for followers of false metal.

Trouble is afoot on Planet metal, wher the nefarious Baron Von Cripplecock has imprisoned the Queen and rules with the help of his robot army. The Queen's loyal protectors, the aforementioned Sex Gods, decide to enlist the help of windowmaker Nestor and his magical codpiece, so that Cripplecock can be overthrown and peace can once more be upon their land. I really can't believe that I am not making any of this up,

"Return To Planet Metal" is a slight read, running at just over fifty pages, but a bloody good one. Jerry Metal has a gift for an amusing turn of phrase amd is well backed up by some great illustrations by Mike Bastin. The whole thing is inherantly silly, which is a big part of it's charm. Where else will you find a man wearing a magical codpiece destroying evil robots by throwing turnips at them? The prose brings to mind barking mad literary buffoon Robert Rankin, which is a very good thing indeed.

Despite the posturing and liberal use of metal references (the royal palace has a Metal Church and a courtyard of the Armoured Saint), RTPM is a jolly good read that you could sit down and educate your kids with. After all, how many other fairy tales are there with heavy metal and vegetable abuse in them? Beats Cinderella every time.

So, unsurprisingly, this comes highly recommended, even if just as gift for the metalhead in your life. Hitch up with Sir David of Rivett, Anthony Strongbeard, Jason Quickfinger, Squeeker Son Of Squeeker and Nestor The Windowmaker and prepare for a fun ride. METAL!

REVIEWS ADDED 3 May, 2007 (WEEK 17)
KILPI: "Kaaos - Live"

Killbee 2007
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
29 April 2007

with three albums under their belt, it was time for Finnish metal band KILPI to release a live album (and a live DVD). Recorded in Turku, on the band's home turf, this album captures the band in fine form. The 15-song set is indeed "the best of Kilpi", with all the hits and the stronger album tracks present. I am not a huge fan of live albums in general, bu I have to admit that this one's very enjoyable.

Vocalist Taage Laiho (also known from Altaria) is an excellent vocalist, and his performance on this album is superb. He reaches the high notes easily, yet there's just the right amount of "grit" in his vocals which would suggest that they haven't been tweaked afterwards. Furthermore, the other guys in the band do a tremendous job in filling the choruses with fine backing vocals. All in all, the whole band is on fire, with great guitar work from Pete and Alba and solid backbeat from Janne & new drummer Jussi. The keyboard work of Kukkis Kukkola takes the backseat on most of the songs, but it's still an important part of the band's sound. A well-known jazz musician Severi Pyysalo makes an appearance on a couple of tracks, playing vibraphone. It's an interesting concept, but not really a working one, in my opinion.

If you're interested in checking out this fine melodic metal band, this album is a great introduction to Kilpi. The Finnish lyrics may sound a bit odd to our readers abroad, but I'm sure that most of them would enjoy the music, which combines elements of 80'ies euro-metal á la Accept, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest with their US counterparts such as Dokken and Van Halen.

Oh yeah, thumbs up for "our" Carda who's responsible for the live photos in the booklet!

Avril LAVIGNE: "The Best Damn Thing" 7

RCA/Sony 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
1 May 2007

Avril, Avril, Avril... how old are you now... like... 14??? Well, at least regarding to her looks (see photo cover) and also to a certain degree, her music [;-))]. Yeah, well, c'mon, the sing-a-long friendly skater punk/rock hasn't really matured much over the last five years. For God's sake woman - act your age - as the old and bitter ones would loudly and proudly proclaim. However, the early teenie bop/pop image is starting to wear on both eyes and ears, and you can't pretend to be 14 for the rest of your life. Then again, Michael J. Fox did a nice career on it!!! (for the record: Avril is about to turn 23 years old soon).

OK, so we've established that "The Best Damn Thing" is sort of a teeny platter, but that's not necessarily a bad thing... or? Absolutely not - it's overall a decent/fine CD with several catchy tunes and the monster hit, "Girlfriend". Hey - I'd gladly admit that I can't stop boppin' along to the lines of: "I think we should get together now" or "and hell yeah I'm the motherf***ing princess". It also happens to be her first #1 Billboard single hit in the states. "I Can Do Better" is sugar-sweet pop/punk and not enough of sweat, blood, and tears, in my humble opinion. It's just too... ehh... too much sugar and that laughter at the end of the song... arrrrghh!!! Next track, "Runaway" is as if she truly said "i can do better" as it's very much the sound of her debut album.

Butch Walker helps out with penning down a note or two on "When You're Gone" and "Everything Back But You", and they are clearly also highlights of the album. The first one is darn fine piano ballad and the latter is a more aggressive punk rocker. "Hot" is a damn catchy little number and "Innocence" is another fine ballad and future hit. And seriously - who am I to judge Avril's decision to stay 14 forever? She's number one in America and having a blast as we speak. It would however be nice to see some kind of progression and "mature" development in her songwriting next time. Final verdict: a catchy, sing-a-long and kiddie friendly CD that works just fine as entertainment for the masses and the moment.

HELLYEAH: "Hellyeah" 6

Epic/Sony 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
1 May 2007

Hellyeah? Hellyeah??? now that's got to be the best band name I've heard since Faster Pussycat. Ehem, nevermind. The (hi)story of the band is a rather typical one of its time and era. Hailed as the new thing, Hellyeah features an old geezer of the early 80's hardrock scene, drummer Vinnie Paul (Pantera), a couple of ex-Mudvayne members (Vocalist Chad Gray and guitarist Greg Tribett) along with guitarist Tom Maxwell and bassist Jerry Montano (both from Nothingface). Voilá - a new supergroup of metal is born... or whatever. The bassist has already decided to abandon ship though.

It's basically modern redneck metal and the band is certainly capable of a lot of things such as really corny lyrics. It's highly fashionable though and packed full with screaming guitars and slamming drums. Yup, as soon as the opening track "Hellyeah" erupts form the speakers it becomes pretty apparent that its going to be a bumpy ride. I can't recall that Chad Gray ever came out sounding this vicious and mean in the past? The following track, "You Wouldn't Know", was an U.S. radio hit earlier this year, it's riff piled high upon riff and not too far away from the most aggressive sound of Velvet Revolver. "Matter Of Time" is more or less a competition to see how many riffs and tempo changes they can fit into one song.

It's overall a HUGE sounding record with an obvious comparison to the early 90's Pantera during tracks such as "Waging War" and "Goddamn". However, it's not really the sound of Pantera that shines through the most. Nope, it's actually a mish-mash of everything between heaven and hell and not always executed with style, I may add. "Alchohaulin Ass" is the southern rock speaking again (not the booze?), as it comes complete with matching white-trash lyrics and all. The bottomline: Hellyeah promise more than they can deliver and it's a shame really as they're a good band, but they need to strenghten the songwriting department 'til next time. Close but no cigar.

David SURKAMP: "Dancing On The Edge Of A Teacup" 6

Rockville 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
1 May 2007

David Surkamp - his vocals has been described as Geddy Lee on laughing gas and/or helium. One thing's for sure, life will never quite be the same again, once you've heard the haunting performances by the former Pavlov's Dog vocalist. He's been accused of inhaling helium before singing for the last 35 years, but I guess David just happens to have a unique voice that you'll either hate or love.

Like it or not, Surkamp is the king of all the mickey mouse wannabes - eat your heart out, The Darkness, Heavy Pettin, Slaughter, etc, etc. I haven't heard his previous solo album or any side project for that matter, but I did buy the first two Pavlov's Dog albums on one CD, approx: 5 years ago. I mostly play it to scare off animals and other disturbing elements in my surrounding. Ehem, seriously though, not quite as much over-the-top singing to be found on "Dancing On The Edge Of A Teacup".

This couldn't under any circumstances be described as a metal album, but rather a mix of Rock, Pop, and Progressive tendencies. You can pick-up a lot of different pictures as he paints his songs in colourful context, and with the constant eager of an artist in search of his poetic side. "Losing My Piano" are the darker moments that Surkamp has been breathing for too long and "Ghost Barres", speaks of long-time friendship and "watching the vampires run loose in Newcastle". Ehem, I'm not quite sure what he's trying to tell us with the latter statement. Reading the lyrics, you'll notice that the album is full of worldly concerns and mysterious messages.

The fine opening track, "Looking For My Shadow", and "Life In Imperfect Times", are the two songs that reminded me the most of Pavlov's Dog. Well, this is after all the Pavlov's Dog trinity sessions. Tracks like "Hard Again" and "Wrong" has been steeped into the 60's groove and formula, and "Hardlife Bunting" is simply too confusing to comprehend. Final verdict: simply read the title and you'll understand that you're in for a rather strange and out of ordinary listening.


Record Heaven 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
29 April 2007

Heavier than thou!!! Abramis Brama is probably my all-time favourite hardrock band from Sweden... with Swedish lyrics I may add. They have managed to create such a great groove of the 70's rock, that even a child of the 80's (like yours truly), can't stop to wonder: what if. What if they had been Americans... and what if their first record was released back in 1970 instead of 1999. Dude, I need to stop thinking for a while as my head hurts.

They are a incrediable tight "Live" unit and their Mountain, Sabbath, November, inspired music, truly comes alive on stage. The only complaint I have in regard to this very disc, would be the fade outs in between tracks. Yep, this album contains ten live recordings from several locations in Scandinavia such as: Stockholm, Luleå (Sweden) and Oslo/Norway. I'm not particular fond of fade outs as it's a quite tiresome experience in the long run. Anyhow, listening to Abramis Brama live is like sitting in a timeless bubble, a sort of groovy flashback to the 70's (not that we could recall). Great musicians - great groove!!!

PARADISE LOST: "The Enemy" CD-single

Century Media 2007
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
29 April 2007

"A Darker And Heavier Side Of Paradise Lost", says the sticker in the cover. "Dark" and "heavy" are the words I've always associated with this band, so they must've slipped into something lighter and less heavy while I wasn't paying attention... and to be honest, that's just the case with me. In my books, Paradise Lost have been an "allright band", but not interesting enough to warrant a further inspection. This single doesn't seem to change that - it's OK enough while it's playing, but it's not going to remain on my playlist.

The single contains three tracks and a video trailer for the Paradise Lost document "Over The Madness". The title track "The Enemy" is a heavy number that reminds me a little bit of Metallica with gothic vibe, thanks to the eerie female vocals. "Beneath Black Skies" sounds quite a bit different, more gothic and gloomy, yet I prefer it to the first track. The simple keyboard melody and the chorus make it more memorable. The last song is an "exclusive bonus track" called "Godless", which is strictly for completists. It's a 2-minute instrumental and it sounds like a sample of a horror movie score, suitably dark but ultimately forgettable.

REVIEWS ADDED 27 April, 2007 (WEEK 17)
SLADE: "Slade In Flame" DVD 7

Union Square Music 2007
Review by Alan Holloway,
23 April 2007

One of the saddest facts about the 1970's is that, in Britain, the godawful dirge "Mull Of Kyntire" was the biggest selling single. The happy upside to that is the much nicer fact that the biggest selling band in Britain was the mighty Slade. They asked us to "Feel The Noize", and we certainly did, with added gusto and tomato sauce.

In 1974, it was decided that Slade should make a film, with theadded bonus that was a soundtrack album. After all, David Essex had done it, as had The Beatles and Bowie, so how hard could it be? The obvious route was to portray the band as lovable buffoons, and this was the original idea (a terrible sounding spoof called "The Quite A Mess Experiment"), but pland were changed and a very different movie was the result.

"Slade in Flame" is the story of a young rock band being thrust into fame and fortune by money grabbing managers, realisng that it's not quite what they actually wanted. The band, Flame (natch), are seen less as a talented group than as a product, resulting in the usual miserableness and split ups. Though there are several light hearted moments, "Slade In Flame" is not a film that will uplift you. The dealings are invariably dirty and skullduggery is definitely the name of the game, and the result is a typically seventies kitchen sink drama with theadded bonus of some well bangin' tunes. Indeed. the film is at it's best when Flame are belting out some fine glam rock numbers such as the timelessly raucus "Them Kinda Monkey's Can't Swing". It's not a brilliant film by any means, mostly due to some very poor scriptwriting and editing that tries hard to bury the interesting story, but it's a marvellous time capsule of the time and the place. Added to that, the lads from Slade pull of the acting stuff rather well.

With the re release on DVD, you also get a very good talking heads type hour long documentary, mostly with the band but no less interesting for it, and the soundtrack CD. The doomy tones of the film may have cooled the UK's love affair with Slade, but the soundtrack is still up there with some of their best musical work. At that period in their career, Slade were masters of the cheeky glam rock anthem, although not afraid to add a bit of class, such as the likes of "How Does It Feel" and "Far Far Away". As an introduction to Britain in the Seventies, this is an excellent package. Makes me feel all kindsa nostalgic...

Slade's Official Website

WILDKARD: "Megalomania" 7

Escape 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
22 April 2007

Wildkard is a new/old U.K. project featuring former Kick members: Nick Workman (vocals), Chris Jones (guitars) and Mikey J (bass). It's new in the way that it's unreleased material and it's been newly recorded in the U.K. and Finland. It's basically old in the way that all songs were written in the early 90's and under the band's original monicker and banner, The Zero Hour Project.

Yup, it's actually pre-Kick material in other words and the sound of the late 80's/early 90's melodic hardrock is very much present on this CD. The keyboards are all over the album and fellow U.K. AOR and Escape artist (heh!), Steve Newman, helps gladly out with adding yet another layer of keys. There's gobs of fluffy moments of long gone days to be found and the U.K. sound of Newman, and the debut album by FM, are comparsions that quickly comes to mind.

However, I wouldn't completely leave out a certain amount of Canadian influences for that matter. The music of Paul Janz, Emerald Rain, and just a hint of early Harem Scarem (check out "When Everything Has Changed" for a nice example of the early HS sound), can also be traced among these tracks. It's Thank God nothing like the horrible Eden project (featuring Workman) and it's clearly not as up-to-date as the sound of Kick. "Megalomania" is perhaps not the most original album as of lately. It's however very perky, uptempo, and it's definitely entertainment for the retro rocker with no intention to ever look beyond the sound of 1989. The first four tracks are all superb, the mid-section is fine, but the album unfortunately dies a little bit towards the end.

PRIVATE LINE: "Evel Knievel Factor" 7

Playground 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
23 April 2007

"Woh, woh, woh, woh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah - you've gotta believe in The Evel Knievel Factor". Yeah? well... it sure beats listening to Backyard Babies and their latest album. Don't get me started... Stockholm Syndrome was my fave release of 2003, but that people like whatever CD was utter garbage. Anyhow, Private Line kicks off in a furious tempo and the title track is living proof that all great rock'n'roll should be kept dirt cheap and simple. Vocalist Sammy roars like a hungry lion and riffs are flying across the room - excellent. BB - take notice and learn.

Nontheless, they do not keep up with their raw and sleazy attitude throughout the CD. Nope, the further in, the more the melancholy, and the moody tunes and titles such as, "Sound Advice" and "The Sindicate", comes through like a mix of BB, HIM & Rasmus. The lean and hungry display of "Prozac Nation" is however a lite version of Shotgun Messiah's Violent New Breed and "Uniform" is a nice track back to the Backyard Babies sound. The production is huge and it's very much the sound of today and not just an attempt to be retro.

The grinding riffs and hyperactive explosions of bass and drums plus the overall catchy material will grow on ya' and some of these arrangements are not a little clever. The CD has already been released in Finland (late last year actually) and the single, "Broken Promised Land", ended up as high as #4 on the charts. I definitely prefer this over say, Brother Firetribe, and no, they're nothing alike, even if some reviewer did a comparsion the other week??? In fact, the easiest way out to describe the sound of The Evel Knievel Factor? Well... try 50% Backyard Babies and 25% each of The Rasmus and HIM = 100% Private Line and 70% fun (hint the "7" rating).

BEARDFISH: "Sleeping In Traffic: Part 1" 6

Inside Out/CNR 2007
Review by Martien Koolen,
27 April 2007

After two independently released albums, Swedish Beardfish now release their first CD on Inside Out music. The Scandinavian quartet produces retro prog rock as the band has styled themselves after the big bands of the seventies. Furthermore they blend their music with lots of folk elements which results in a rather unique sound bringing back memories of Gentle Giant, Frank Zappa and the melodic Canterbury faction.

Maybe because they use all kinds of non-rock related instruments like clavinet, ARP synthesizer, fuzz guitars, accordion and organ that I have trouble "getting into" Beardfish’s music. Especially songs like "Afternoon conversation" (acoustic song with nagging vocals), "Dark poet" (super dull piano ballad) or "Without you" (again a very tiresome acoustic ballad) tend to really get on my nerves... The vocals of Rikard Sjoblom are also a bit too "weird" for me and I really cannot get used to the retrosound of their music. Give me a break, we are living in the year 2007, for god’s sake!!

In fact, there is only one song I really like and that is the instrumental "The Ungodly Slob" (nice title by the way), which features a howling guitar solo, some great ELP-like keyboard passages and some jazzy and funky rhythms. The epic 12 minutes song "Roulette" is also worth checking out as it offers passages bringing to mind the likes of Camel and Supertramp, until the central musical motif reminds me of Paatos mixed with Zappa’s vocal stylings.

This is an album for retro prog rockers only, for me it is too retro and not contemporary enough.

PRESTIGE: "Decades Of Decay" 6

Poko Records 2007
Review by Satu Reunanen
23 April 2007

The Finnish record label Poko Records releases something from the 80's metal era. Back then the biz wasn't nearly as glorious, as Finnish metal bands are experiencing nowadays, and back then there were only a handful of good metal bands, who all fell victims to production that mostly suited popbands. Thus all the metal bands from that era sound dated and thin, and the trash metal group Prestige doesn't make any exception to the rule. This compilation still after remastering hasn't gotten rid of all the old ghosts, which is a shame.

The old fans of Prestige are jumping from joy for sure, this package looks good and includes material from the bands whole career, which started in 1987 and lasted a few years. Prestige released three albums and apart from material from those releases, the double cd includes rarities such as demos and tracks earlier released on vinyl only, and a nice photogallery. Prestige can also be heard playing punk in tracks such as "Jani" and "Ei Ihraa Mun Lautaselle", but also included can be found the fans favourite "Veijo", so the compilation has many faces.

Prestige never became as big as Stone or Airdash in Finland, but still had an own fanbase and gigged a lot, even abroad, which wasn't very common back then. The band was also seen in the legendary Lepakko a few times, once supporting Nuclear Assault. That seemed to be the right place for this band, who were always very straightforward with their music and as fussy as their fellows in Nuclear Assault. This compilation brings out those features well from the band, and shows what eighties was in Finland, when people mostly concentrated on live shows that were very hectic, as was Prestige shows. If I had to choose, I'd rather go see Prestige live again like in the old times, than listen to their old albums or this double cd. Maybe they'll restart their dusty trashengines in the future, since the band informs they're observing the situation. So all you old speed and trashheads out there, take heed on this.

KAIPA: "Angling Feelings" 6

Inside Out/CNR 2007
Review by Martien Koolen,
27 April 2007

This is Kaipa’s ninth studio album and it is not their best.... I am not particular fond of the vocals on this album, especially the female ones of Aleena Gibson sometimes actually ruin an entire song. Musically speaking this is again a prog rock highlight with a main role for the fabulous guitar picker Per Nilsson. His heavenly guitar solos in songs like "The glorious silence within", "The fleeting existence of time" and the title track really give those songs an extra dimension.

Furthermore the prog rock music of Kaipa is again mixed with lots of folk influences, jazzy parts and even funky rhythms, like for example in "Path of humbleness" or "Where’s the captain?", the latter even featuring some typical Flower Kings elements. Unfortunately, besides the sometimes "horrific" vocal parts, the album also features two extremely boring songs. "Broken chords" is filled with really irritating vocals and the overkill of folky elements does the rest. The second "failure" is called "The ship of life", an extremely dull ballad with vocals and piano. The best tracks are the first two songs on the album, featuring great prog rock passages, nice guitar solos and lots of Floyd and Flokis influences. The main lyrical thread running through the CD refers to the ideal of taking one’s time for the little things in life and most of all learning how to relax. Musically speaking I would rate this album with an 8, vocally speaking I would give it a 4, so that comes up to a 6 as an end score.

By the way, I am not a sexist pig, I simply do not like female vocals in prog rock!!

HIM: "Uneasy Listening Vol.2"

Sony/RCA 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
24 April 2007

They are probably the most succesful Finnish rock act in the states and europe at this very moment. Thus why HIM and Sony has decided to grab as much $$$ as possible with the release of two rather average compilation albums [;-)]. All jokes aside, the first one came out late last year and featured the sentimental and soft side of HIM and "Vol.2" focuses more on the harder side. One thing's for sure, the second volume is clearly the better choice of the two.

In truth, much of "Uneasy Listening" is pretty ordinary listening, but the band speak devotedly of anger and love, which might just be enough to lure the kids into buying it. I can't for the world figure out why anyone would cover a Turbonegro song and especially not "Rendezvous With Anus". Anyhow, the rest of the cover songs, "Wicked Game" (Chris Isaak), "Hand Of Doom" (Black Sabbath), "Sailin' On" (Bad Brains), are all live versions and definitely worthy of your attention. It's basically soul-food for the already devoted mass and that goes for most of the material.

Both CD's include rarites and hard-to-find versions of the bands biggest hits. But truth be told, most of the versions has been released earlier on singles, the die-hards will already have them in their collection. The 616 versions of "Buried Alive By Love" and "Endless Dark" are the highlights of the album and its biggest selling point. Not to forget that Ville Valo is the biggest Finnish hardrock teen idol since... well... since a young Michael Monroe (when the dino's were still roaming the earth). Can't wait for the next real studio album - this CD is however strickly intended for the die-hards.

LUNAR ECLIPSE: "Morbid Visions" 2

SOD Records 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
23 April 2007

Bloody'ell - vocalist Rolf Quast Jensen sounds like he could eat children and there's simply no escape from a image such as that. Really... where do you go from here? How do you sing-a-long to words such as ooouuurrgggh, arrrrrrrrrrggghh, ryyyrrrygggggh??? Lunar Eclipse is the old fashioned Death/Black Metal that basically died out along with all the church burning freaks of Norway in the early/mid 90's. Well, that's at least what I thought until I heard this very album. The vocals are a monstrosity and "Morbid Visions" is basically an insult to all the fine, modern, death/black metal of today.

REVIEWS ADDED 22 April, 2007 (WEEK 16)
KIRKA: "The Spell (re-issue)" 8

SonyBMG 2007
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
21 April 2007

This 1987 album from Finnish singer Kirka is one of the most sought-after AOR releases ever, and the odd copy that finds its' way to Ebay usually ends up selling for hundreds of dollars. We'll see what this re-issue does to the value of the original copies...

"The Spell" is the second of Kirka's english-language albums he recorded during the mid-eighties. The first one "R.O.C.K." was a decent success, and this album did sell pretty well too, but the majority of Kirka's old fans weren't interested and that affected his success touring-wise. A year after the release of "The Spell" Kirka went back to the pop/"schlager" style with Finnish lyrics and scored the biggest hit of his career. Good for him, bad for us rock fans.

Compared to the meat & potato hard rock of "R.O.C.K.", this album is definitely more AOR-friendly effort. The opening track "You Put The Spell On Me" is a thinly disguised attempt to duplicate Europe's sound of "The Final Countdown", but as obvious it is, it's a very good song. In fact, the vocal melodies owe more to Rainbow's "Can't Let You Go" than to the Joey Tempest hit. More "Bent Out Of Shape"-era Rainbow influences can be found all over the rest of the tracks, which are more guitar oriented than the keyboard-laden "You Put...". Highlights include the fine ballad "I Don't Wanna Fight", "Fly Away" and "No Return".

What's pathetic about this re-issue is the fact that it seems to be a rushed job. As you might know, Kirka passed away early this year, and the record company decided to make all his albums available on CD. What I do not understand is why they decided to repackage this one, using photos from the early eighties, which do not represent Kirka the Rock Singer at all. I'm guessing they couldn't get a hold of the original material soon enough, but still... I'm sure it wouldn't have been that hard to find a couple of "rock-era" pictures of him? There's no info on the musicians either. It would have been more of a tribute to Kirka to put together a decent package with the original cover, maybe some liner notes from the producer or his band members of the time, vintage photos and hopefully some bonustracks.

In the end, it's the music that counts... and while most of Kirka's music wouldn't interest our readers, I'm pretty sure that these songs would. Give 'em a chance!

Joe Lynn TURNER: "Second Hand Life" 7

Frontiers 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
18 April 2007

Let's face it, Joe Lynn Turner is a singer with the power to take a average song and turn it into a good one (or take a good song and turn it into a great one). He's unfortunately forced to use his power on one too many occasions throughout the CD and it feels a bit strained at times. "Second Hand Life" sets out to be a mix of his previous album "The Usual Suspects" and the Sunstorm project, close enough, but this is in my opinion a very content album without any real surprises.

Don't get me wrong... it's a solid effort, a solid effort indeed - I guess I just expected something extra or special after last years excellent Sunstorm project. Opening track "Love Is Life" is a rather typical Journey song as of lately, no real stamina in the hook department and I'm a bit disappointed by the chorus part (everything else is top-notch stuff though). "Got Me Where You Wanted" is a bluesy ballad that would have been better off in the hands of Eric Burdon and The Animals.

The title track, "Second Hand Life" is the first song that really grabbed my attention as this is just as good as the Sunstorm material. "In Your Eyes" is a marvelous ballad in the vein of 80's radio hits and most definitely Foreigner and "Bent Out Of Shape" material. Simply check out the impressive layers of keys - provided by Gary Corbett. The uptempo rocker of "Blood Red Sky" comes complete with a Blackmore inspired guitar and a sound similar to the era of "Difficult To Cure". Next up, "Stroke Of Midnight", originally written for Deep Purple and the work of Blackmore, Glover, Turner, and Jim Peterik, this rocker works nicely in the year of 2007. "Over The Top" is more of the same and features some fine and bluesy guitarwork by Karl Cochran (ex-Ace Frehley).

"Cruel" is very much the early 80's Rainbow sound and "Sweet Obsession" is the Bonfire song. The latter is indeed a fun rocker but hardly anything new. "Love Is On Our Side" is basically a second hand version of "Street Of Dreams", I love the original, I could do without this song. The European bonus track "Two Lights" is on the other hand a darn fine AOR semi-ballad. The bottomline: the opening first two tracks are actually among the weakest ones in my opinion. The mid-section of this CD is darn impressive though and it's overall a fine effort by a darn fine vocalist.

Brett WALKER: "Spirit Junky" 7

NL Distribution 2007
Review by Endre 'Bandi' Hübner
21 April 2007

Please allow me to start it from very far away. I was ten years old in 1984 and thought David Lee Roth was the greatest musician of the world. Three years later I started my first own band, became a singer and not much later a songwriter. Over the years (maybe by becoming one myself too) I learned to appreaciate songwriters a lot more than performers and now with 20+ years of music behind me my real (unsung) heroes are people like Des Child, Jim Steinman, Mike Slamer, etc. So is Brett Walker. Therefore I love (and madly collect) the solo albums these people release. [Still I tend to believe Diamond Dave is the ultimate rock n' roll frontman but that's another thing.] And now on to Spirit Junky:

The bio coming with the album is a lot more personal than I would care and about one third of it deals with the fact that Brett is now divorced, spends his time snowboarding and his sign is Scorpio. I should have interpreted all these and the cheapo looking front cover as a warning sign but the disc itself started out with a great tune "Give Me Back Tomorrow" absolutely in the grand fashion of Brett's "Nevertheless" album. The following "Something So Real" is somewhat laid back but it is definitely, a good, rather moody track with a catchy refrain. Then the album takes a turn and a bunch of average, Beatles-inspired(?), rather simple, acousticly arranged tracks appear and by the middle of the album, the slow, acoustic songs get more than overwhelming. Most of the tracks are filled with emotions rather than energy and tend to be the psycho-therapy of the songwriter instead of an attempt to entertain the listener. Okay, I know it's a bit harsh this way as these are okay tracks but I expect more from Brett. Tracks like "Sorry Just Ain't Enough" or "Living In Maybe Land" have really honest, personal lyrics yet musically don't do much to me, especially compared to Brett's earlier work.

"Southern Blue Sky" restored some of my faith as it is another great track and generally the closing tracks are among the better ones of the album but they are not enough to save the album in my book. A 7 point rating is not bad at all, I just expected more from one of my favorite songwriters. The solution? Well, "Lecia, when you turn around, come back to me" ermm... to him! Or someone give Brett a decent blowjob! And Brett, crank it up for heaven's sake!

ONE EYE SHUT: "Turds In A Punch Bowl" 6

Vallankumoustuotanto 2007
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
20 April 2007

After a couple of promising singles, ONE EYE SHUT has put together their first full-length album. If you're familiar with the band's previous releases, you'll know what to expect: no-frills groovy heavy rock. Compared to most of the other bands playing this kind of music, OES has wisely tried to inject some melody to their "Barroom Boogie". The melodies and the hooks are what separate them from countless heavy rock trios churning out riff after riff in garages, rehearsal rooms and in your local rock pub.

The five songs from the two previous singles appear here in theor original format, with four newer recordings added to the list. As "hidden bonus tracks" there are a few live songs. The catchy "Last In Line" and crunching "Days In The Sun" are still the highlights in the band's material for me, both older songs from the singles. Only two of the songs are previously unreleased, these being the opening tracks "Everything Must Die" and "Please Let Go". While they might not be quite as instant as the previously mentioned hightlights, especially "EMD" does prove that the band can still come up with solid material. The other two new recordings are re-recorded versions of songs from the band's first demo, and to be honest, they don't really offer much to shout about.

I understand why they chose to build their first album like this - these songs are the ones the band's fans are expecting to hear on the first album. To their credit, the album doesn't sound like a demo compilation, it's a cohesive effort. However, I would have liked to hear a few more new songs, hopefully strong and memorable ones. Now, all the weaker numbers from the singles found their way to the album too, and that makes this a less impressive package.

SENSAZIONE: "Anche I Pesci Hanno Sete" 3

Alkemist Fanatix 2007
Review by Endre 'Bandi' H¨bner
21 April 2007

Sensazione? No, it's not. Rather average 21st century grunge (is there such a thing? I thought - hoped - grunge was dead with the 90s). And what is worse than depressive grunge? Well, depressive grunge in Italian! That is exactly what you get from this album. Too bad because these guys are obviously good musicians, the vocalist has a good voice, the guitarists are well-trained, the rhythm section is tight and the overall sound of the album is really good; obviously there was enough attention paid to the production lead by a professional sound engineer who did a great job.

Up until now I thought Italy was a sunny, happy-go-lucky place where people spent most of their time eating pasta or pizza and either idolizing or demonizing Francesco Totti. Having played the Sensazione album now I KNOW that Italy is a doomy place where it is raining like cats and dogs 24/7 and people either want to kill themselves or kill each other. Betcha the settings of the cult movie "Blade Runner" were inspired by Italy. Well, either I am on the wrong track or the guys of Sensazione are...

Anyway the package is a value for your money thing as it includes a live DVD as bonus, so if you like grunge with hints of some classic rock, then go ahead, give it a try. Personally I can only appreciate the effort and the obviously professional attitude of the musicians and the rest of the production team, the final product is not what strikes my fancy. Listen to some of the tracks to see if they are up your alley.

M.ILL.ION: "Kingsize Live 2004" [DVD]

MajesticRock 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
16 April 2007

Opening with "Eyes Of A King" and "Prison Of Power", a one-two that would do Ingo proud, M.ill.ion sets a nice standard of rock and I'm especially pleased by the fine vocal duties by Ulrich Carlsson (lead), Bergqvist & Hermansson (back-up). The latter does the obligatory long guitar solo for each live release with a Jack Daniels bottle and a pretty impressive slide technique. I believe it's Rob Nasty & Chris Loud from the sleaze act Loud N' Nasty, that helps out with guitar and vocal duties during "Rock N' Roll Nation". Ehem, splendid work.

The "Kingsize Live 2004" DVD was recorded in Gothenburg/Sweden on the 28th of October, 2004. M.ill.ion were just about to release their strongest album up to date (Kingsize - this is actually the recording of their launch show/party of the album), and it's the band's first show with Bergqvist (keyboards) and their first show in a fair while anyhow.

Far from everything clicks at times and it's a very honest showcase of a rock'n'roll band - live on stage. DVD director Patric Ullaeus has managed to keep a prescence of an intense and close show throughout the DVD and it's been nicely cut and directed. The band have their obligatory "unplugged" moment as the take the old rocker, "Sign Of Victory", and turn it into a soft ballad.

OK, I found BJ's bass to be too much upfront at times and the sound is straight from the mixing board by the way. He also seem to rely upon his amp to provide all the goodies as it's very difficult to hear any effects or sound improvements whatsoever. There's no bonus material such as interviews, background info, history, etc. much like the DVD that TNT released last year (except there's no fake vocals on tape to be found here). Anyhow, the moody and meandering shout-out, "Candyman", proves a worthy show closer and M.ill.ion fans will find this DVD to be the real and honest deal.

REVIEWS ADDED 17 April, 2007 (WEEK 16)
REO SPEEDWAGON: "Find Your Own Way Home" 8

Mailboat Records 2007
Review by Alan Holloway,
13 April 2007

It’s been eleven years since REO Speedwagon ventured into the studio. Since then we’ve had compilations and the superb “Live plus” album and DVD, but fans would be forgiven for thinking that a new studio album was as likely as George W Bush winning the Nobel peace prize. Well, dust off that White House trophy cabinet, ‘cause the boys are back with a corker.

With 2007 being, incredibly, the 40th anniversary since the formation of the band, it’s kind of appropriate that they’ve recorded an album that hearkens back to their heyday of the Eighties, when the classic “Hi Infidelity” album made them household names around the world. “Find Your Own Way Home” doesn’t sound like a new album, and is instead more like a delicious throwback to the good old days.

The band come out with all guns blazing, as opener “Smilin’ In the End” is pure, classic REO Speedwagon. The tune is bouncy, the hook infectious, and Kevin Cronin’s vocals soar as well as they ever have before. Dave Amato is allowed free reign to pull off some cool licks and his usual understated but perfectly executed solos throughout the album, but there’s still plenty of room given to keyboards, with Cronin and Joe Vanelli keeping everything a in balance nicely.

“Find Your Own Way Home” is unmistakably an REO Speedwagon album from start to finish. They way they throw in a bit of rock, some blues and a touch of funk without sounding forced or stupid is one of their finer talents, and lifts them above many of the bog standard AOR that floats about these days like turds on the Thames. Sure, the syrupy ballad “Let My Love Find You” could have been dredged up by many a band, but despite this there’s a lot to like about the album.

If “Live Plus” succeeded in waking me up to a band I thought had nothing more to offer than a few eighties hit singles, then “Find Your Own Way Home” has made me realise that I’m something I thought I would never be – a bona fide REO Speedwagon fan. Keep it to yourself, eh…

PS: If you want the special edition advance release with two bonus CDs, including a complete ‘Studio live’ recording of the Hi Infidelity album, get onto Wal-Mart online now because it’s well worth the money.


SPV 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
14 April 2007

Jeff Waters states: "Metal is going to be known as one of the coolest guitar albums out there, but this is also one of best-written records in my career". Yeah??? Well... I've yet to meet an artist who states that his/her latest creation is crap and that you should probably keep your money for something else. I'am NOT saying that "Metal" isn't a pretty cool album - hell no!!! I'am merely just trying to get this space shuttle safely back to mother earth and the daily routine work of reality.

In absence of reality - let's check out the rather impressive guest list of Metal. Lips (Anvil), Michael Amott & Angela Gossow (Arch Enemy), Alexi Laiho (Children Of Bodom), Danko Jones, Jeff Loomis (Nevermore), and members of The Haunted, In Flames, Lamb Of God, Trivium. However, the main recording line-up would still be Dave Padden (vocals) and Jeff Waters (all guitars) with the help of Mike Mangini (drums). "Metal" is no doubt an album that smacks of old-style eighties riffing. Waters even admits that it reminds him of the first four Annihilator albums.

If anything, "Metal" takes them also further down the mish-mash route than they've ever been before. I truly enjoy the first six, well, seven, tracks of the album (there's a total of ten new songs) as they tend to stick to traditional Thrash Metal. However, towards the end of the disc and featuring guest musicians such as Corey Beaulieu (Trivium), Jacob Lynam and Willie Adler (Lamb Of God), the brilliant melodies suddenly seem to disapear merely to be replaced by blunt and daft metal of today. Back to the excellent beginning though, "Clown Parade" is the perfect opener and a real metal bliss. "Couple Suicide" is a perfect mix of old Thrash and the modern stuff as it's very catchy and heavy at the same moment as it features Danko Jones in a cameo role. "Army Of One" features "Lips" of Anvil and the lyrics is basically a tribute to all the classic metal bands of the past (everything from Black Sabbath to Iron Maiden and Megadeth). The song titled, "Operation Annihilation", reminds me of the titletrack of their most "melodic" album, "Set The World On Fire". I'd personally like to replace the last three tracks of the CD with more of the excelent styled metal of the beginning of "Metal". Well - it's still a solid effort - even though I wouldn't exactly name it as one of the coolest guitar albums out there.

MANTRA: "Hate Box" 7

Horus Music 2006
Review by Petri Kautto, 13 April 2007

OK, this is the third Mantra album I review and it’s still hard to get a handle on these guys. Their prog/hard rock/melodic sound is at times confusing, but they are finally finding their own sound. Their previous two albums, “Hard Times” and “Roots” were very Led Zeppelin–like albums and seemed that they only aimed to please and impress other musicians with their complex arrangements and sudden changes in the songs. The problem was that unless you were really into tricks and gimmicks it was difficult to get excited about their music. With “Hate Box” the band is still complex, but they are not overdoing it and the songs are more coherent instead of overwhelming mish mash.

For me the “click” on the album was song number three, “Time and Space”. Even though the opener “Promised Land” shows that there are better things to come, “Time and Space” is the one that mixes perfectly their complex past with modern and catchy sound of today. The bass and drums in the beginning are very prog, but suddenly the song opens up to a positive refrain that is very melodic and captivating. The same can be said about “Hit & Run” and “Win Lose or Draw”. The chorus just gets you by surprise and these songs represent the best this band has to offer.

Like many albums also this one has fillers on it. “She” and “Saving Grace” never really take off. The ballad “Somewhere Sometimes” is refreshingly different from the other tunes but the song per se is quite mediocre. “A Minor Bird” finishes the album. It’s also a slow song and it gives the band yet another chance to demonstrate their versatility. As mentioned “Hate Box” is a complex album and it takes a few listens to fully appreciate it. But this album is more united than anything that they have recorded in the past and I am really looking forward to their next album, as this shows that they are well on their way to establishing their own, unique and captivating sound.
Mantra at MySpace

KELDIAN: "Heaven's Gate" 6

Perris 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
15 April 2007

Keldian is Melodic Hardrock from Norway with a darn innocent and close to naive sound of the 80's. I guess it's mostly due to the vocals of Christer Andresén (vocals, guitars) as he burst through like a slightly scary version of Morten Harket (A-HA) and Knut Erik Ostgård (Return). Not quite as good on the high-pitched rank buy always with a lively accent and a honest belief of authenticity.

There's certainly a lot of drama and passion into the music of Keldian. Keyboardist Arild Aardalen will instantly grab hold of the listener and refuses to let go during the ten tracks of "Heaven's Gate". There's layers and layers of 'over-the-top' segments to be found throughout the CD and it's very much the synth/keyboard sound of the 80's. They do have something "unique" and "special" about their sound... it's actually quite difficult to nail down all of their influences. The easiest way out to try and describe their CD would be like a hybrid version of 80's Norwegian Hardrock (RETURN), ditto Pop (A-HA), and the cheesy, bombastic, power metal of the late 90's (RHAPSODY -OF FIRE).

The gospel of fluffy rock according to Keldian rocks the best on the hook-laden opener, "Crusader", the manic singing approach of "Heart Of The Sun", the A-HA sound of "Redshift", and the Rhapsody (heh!) of "Salvation". The ultra catchy "Sundancer" is a fine and strange example of what a hybrid of the three acts, Europe, Rhapsody & A-HA, would sound like, if anyone should ever come up with such a mad idea? Well... I guess Keldian did... or perhaps it's just me??? If you're prepared for a hybrid sound of the cheesy and the catchy, you could definitely do a lot worse than this. It's certainly something out of the ordinary.

KOTIPELTO: "Serenity" 6

AFM Records 2007
Review by Martien Koolen,
17 April 2007

"Serenity" is the follow-up album of "Coldness" and I can truly say that it is a rather similar album. Ten new power metal songs of which 9 are rather mediocre stuff as they feature those typical power metal cliches like: high-pitched vocals, very familiar metal riffs, simplistic, almost childish lyrics ("Sleep well") and singalong choruses.

The eight up-tempo songs all have an almost identical composition; verse, chorus, verse, chorus, guitar or keyboard solo, verse and chorus again.... This makes the album rather predictable, tiresome and at certain moments even dull, and last but not least, I have heard it all before, but then better and more diverse. Of course there is also the obligatory ballad with the highly original title "After the Rain", and this track is power metal at its Spinal Tap...

Fortunately Timo comes to his senses in the last track "Last Defender", which is finally a song with some diversity, a few great guitar grooves and hooks, bombastic passages, orchestral parts and some good singing. Sadly this is the only good song on this sheer disappointing CD. I hope that during the tour with Chris Caffery Timo will not perform a lot of these new cliche power metal tracks...

ARS MORIENDI: "Journey To Your Agony" 4

Noisehead 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
16 April 2007

"Ars, Drink, Feck" - Nope, this is not a new episode of the excellent U.K. comedy show, Father Ted. "Journey To Your Agony" is the utterly brutal debut album by the Austrian Death/Thrash metal act, Ars Moriendi. It's a typical and modern display of Death/Thrash metal of today and they have certainly borrowed a riff or two from In Flames. Vocalist Michael Wegleitner screams along to the melodies at the top of his lungs and it's all a very cozy and familiar place for the broken hearted.

"I am the worst enemy of myself" - Michael shouts, and I'am almost prepared to agree. His voice cuts like a razorblade inside of your stomach and the aftermath is a bloody mess of guts and metal. The twin guitar attack of Heiko Ernstreiter and Christian Pillich is the strenght of the band and much credit to them both for coming up with some truly fine passages. "Breathless" is like an neverending stream of metal riffs and the following track, "My Worst Enemy", hold some even more enjoyable and varied segments of true metal riffing.

However, I simply can't get into a vocalist that merely "growls" along with the melodies, using the exact same technique and style throughtout the entire CD. There's no variation nor variety whatsoever and you're pretty fed up with the vocals as you hit the skip button mid-through the "Journey To Your Agony" (and it's truly like an journey to your agony!!!). Final verdict: nice melodies, great riffing, monotonous vocals.

MAGNI ANIMI VIRI: "Heroes Temporis" 3

Magni Animi Viri 2006
Review by Martien Koolen,
17 April 2007

"Heroes Temporis" is "supposed" to be a symphonic rock metal opera, sung in Italian, featuring an orchestra, a choir, solo singers and a lot of other musicians a.o. Marco Sfogli (he plays with James LaBrie) and Randy Coven (Ark and CPR). The CD lasts 63 minutes and it is almost impossible to listen to it in one take as it is so cliche made that the entire music sounds like sheer kitsch.

The orchestra dominates the sound of the CD and the vocals are mostly classical, sweet or very poppy, reminding me of Laura Pussinni, Eros Ramazzotti or Zucchero. I sadly miss the metal and rock edge as only in a song like "Vorrei" you can hear some rock melodies and guitar riffs. The rest is sheer kitsch and not my cup of tea, just listen to the classical finale and you will definitely NOT buy this album.

"ALWAYS – A Millenium Tribute to Bon Jovi" 3

Versailles Records 2007
Review by Petri Kautto,
14 April 2007

A tribute album is always a tough one. You take a band like Bon Jovi and try to match, exceed or interestingly modify the classics that you’ve listened for so long. In general some succeed but most don’t. This album is a waste of money for anyone who has listened to Bon Jovi in large quantities. There are only a few artists who even come close to the original or who can come up with unique, or somehow different version of the original.

The album starts promisingly with Derrick Lefevre who delivers a decent version of “Living on a Prayer”. The song is about the same but there are a few interesting alterations here and there. The only one who is really able to make a song sound positively different is Jasy Andrews. Her piano version of “I’ll Be There for You” is really enjoyable. Next up is Richard Kendrick with “Blaze of Glory” and I’m sure he does his best but this song is just lifeless. Tony Janflone has a go at “Wanted Dead or Alive”. When this guy sings “I’ve seen a million faces and I’ve rocked them all” you hear “I’ve seen my friends and relatives and they all told me to keep my day job”. “Lay Your Hands on Me” gets Jani Lane treatment. He tries hard to match the original with all the ahh’s and come on’s in place and he does a good job as his voice is very suitable for this song. “Billy Get Your Guns” is not that good a song to begin with and One Bad Son does not succeed in improving it. “You Give Love a Bad Name” is obviously one of the biggest Bon Jovi anthems. Corey Craven doesn’t take the easy way out as the arrangement is not the most self-evident one and on this tribute he represents the better part of the supply.

John Corabi takes the album past the halfway mark with “Born to Be My Baby”. When someone has bands like Mötley Crüe and Ratt under his belt you’d expect him to rise above the average on a tribute album. Unfortunately average is exactly what you get here. Jason Andrews sounds sincere with his version of “Stick to Your Guns” but the overall feeling is rather half-finished. After LA Guns and Ratt Jizzy Pearl is in dire straits when he actually has to sing in key. “Bad Medicine” is hard to handle and this was probably not the best song for him. Colie Brice destroys “Always” with his half-ass synthesizer and unconvincing voice. The Issues don’t help things with “It’s My Life”. The drummer is in a hurry but the rest of the band does not keep up with him.

Andrew Walker of Drama Queen Die goes acoustic on “Never Say Goodbye” and his rough voice suits well the reduced settings. For some reason Colie Brice is given another chance (maybe because of his close ties with Alec John Such and Tico Torres) with somewhat discoish version of “Runaway”. If the aim was to leave a good aftertaste this was not the way to do it. All in all this album leaves you feeling unsatisfied and disappointed in the versions. The few ups don’t quite compensate the many downs. But as mentioned in the beginning a tribute album is always a tough one. This album proves it.

WAYSTED: "Save Your Prayers" [2-CD version]

MajesticRock 2007
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,
16 April 2007

"Save Your Prayers" has been re-issued again as a direct result of its 21st anniversary party. Yup, it's been 21 years since band leader/bassist Pete Way (UFO) got rid of their original singer and decided to move on (mainly because FIN was acting difficult). His replacement was found working for a phone company in the states - the at the time 24 year old American, Danny Vaughn. Recommended by guitarist Paul Chapman, Vaughn became instantly an hero on tour in Israel as the girls were in tears, weeping at... well, you can find out the rest for yourself (see: disc# 2 - interview).

This is a limited 2-CD special edition where disc two features an interview with Pete Way (Pete talks mostly and indepth about this very record of course) and also a live recording from Winnipeg, Canada on April 20th 1987. It's a pretty neat package actually and the eight(8) previously unreleased live tracks works as a nice display of the Danny Vaughn fronted Waysted. Five of them are all taken off "Save Your Prayers" (Heaven Tonight, Singing To The Night, Heroes Die Young, Wild Night, Walls Fall Down), and there's also a "Toy With Passion", and the Fin classic, "Won't Get Out Alive". Throw in a long guitar-solo by Paulie Chapman and you're basically done.

It's music straight from the soundboard and their live performance hasn't exactly been pro-tooled to death. The sound is raw, honest, and it's once again like an official bootleg really. "Singing To The Night" is the sound of Tyketto right down to the core and I know that Vaughn is still pissed off over not getting credit or royalties(?) for any of the music that he co-wrote. Anyhow, much like I stated in my original review of the first re-issue (click here to read), "Save Your Prayers" is a top-notch album and a must have if you're into melodic hardrock á la Tyketto vs. Waysted. This 2 disc version includes the two bonus tracks, "Fire Under Wheels" and Fortunate Son". Recommended!

ALTARIA: "Divine Invitation"

Metal Heaven 2007
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
17 April 2007

Here's a value-for-money compilation from Altaria, the Finnish melodic metal band which has gone from strength to strength, culminating in their successful European tour with Doro last year. While their popularity has grown in leaps, they've suffered of an unstable line-up. That's evident on this album, with performances from 4 different vocalists. Only the rhythm section of Marko Pukkila (bass) and Tony Smedjebacka (drums) has played on all of these recordings.

There's 19 songs on this mid-price album, with 10 of them being from the band's first two albums, two brand new recordings with the new vocalist Marco Luponero, and the rest are taken from the band's first two demos. If we take a look at them chrononically, the first demo "Sleeping Visions" showed a lot of promise and featured the vocals of Johan Mattjus of Stormwing. For "Feed The Fire" demo he had been replaced by Jouni Nikula. He remained in the band for a couple of years, and was featured on the band's first album "Invitation". It didn't quite live up to the promise shown on the demos. I really didn't like semi-operatic Nikula's vocals, and felt like something was missing from the songs too. "History Of Times To Come" is a fine song though...

"Divinity" featured the vocals of Taage Laiho (of Kilpi fame), and was a step in the right direction. The quality of the songwriting went up a couple of notches, and it resulted in such gems as "Unchain The Rain" and "Try To Remember", very solid melodic metal songs.

The most interesting tracks for me are the new two ones, "Keeper Of Mystique" and "Ball & Chain". Luponero makes a good impression with his melancholic voice, sounding a little like Gary Hughes of TEN. The songs itself represent two sides of the band - the first of them being a traditional Altaria song, melodic metal track with a good, if somewhat understated chorus. "Ball & Chain" is something a bit different, a groovy hard rock track that's more "L.A." than the band's usual European-flavoured melodic metal.

KILPI: "Savuna Ilmaan 2007"

Killbee Records 2007
Review by Kimmo Toivonen,
16 April 2007

"Savuna Ilmaan 2007" is a newly recorded version of a track from the first Kilpi album, and it will be the only new studio recording from the band this year I believe. A live album and a DVD has been recorded though, and you can expect a review of that soon.

It's not often that a remake is far superior to the original version, but that's the case with "Savuna Ilmaan 2007". The original version was one of my favourites off the first album, but listening to the two versions back to back, it's easy to notice that the production quality of the new one easily outshines the old version. The guys have worked on the arrangement and the guitar parts...well, there's improvement all over the song, in every aspect of it. As for the second song on the single, it's "Valoista Varjoihin", a taster from the forthcoming live album.

It's a bit of a shame that the Finnish language in the lyrics quite effectively narrows down the band's potential audience. I'm sure that many of our readers would enjoy the songs, but can't be bothered because the band sings in an odd and obscure language!


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